How to get more clients like your best clients

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Some clients are better than others. They have more work for you, they are willing to pay higher fees for better service, they treat you well and send you referrals.

Yes?

Ah, but while they may be better, they may not be your best.

Your best clients, your “ideal” clients, match a profile that you have decided is where you want to make your mark.

Your ideal clients have values that align with yours. They have needs and wants that you are better equipped to satisfy than most attorneys because you have more experience with clients like them. They have characteristics–personality, background, lifestyle, income–similar to those that identify your other ideal clients.

Your ideal clients provide you with your highest value and you want more of them. You’ll tolerate clients who don’t fit this profile but you target prospective clients who do.

Or at least you should.

Not just because you want more of them but so that you can appeal to them more effectively in your marketing.

When you try to appeal to everyone based solely on legal need, as most attorneys do, you dilute your message and diminish your results.

If you want your best clients to find you and hire you, focus your marketing so that it speaks exclusively to them. 

Most attorneys are “an inch deep and a mile wide” in their marketing. They aren’t intentional and they don’t focus.

Don’t do that.

To build a practice comprised primarily of your best clients, figure out what your ideal clients look like and show them why you are their ideal attorney.

This will help you create a profile of your ideal client

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The simplest way to beat your competition

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You’ve heard me pound on the importance of creating a profile of your ideal client. I hope you have files set up for notes, ideas, articles, lists of key websites and blogs, sample emails, and everything else there is to know about them and their world.

Because the more you know about your ideal client, the easier it will be to attract them and show them why they should hire you instead of any other lawyer.

Your file should include information about their background, problems, and goals. It should detail their likely legal issues and the circumstances that precede them. It should note the books and magazines and blogs they read and where they network or hang out online.

You should become an expert on your ideal client and know more about them than any other attorney in your market. When you do, you’ll be able to write to and speak to them using examples, terminology, and stories that resonate with them and show them that you have helped many others like them.

It’s the simplest way to beat your competition.

If you have more than one practice area, you should do the same thing for your ideal client in each practice area. Marketing a divorce practice is very different from marketing a personal injury practice.

You should also set up research files about your referral sources.

This takes time but it makes marketing easier and more effective. Your superior knowledge can help you dominate your niche. Your ideal clients will see you as the best choice. They’ll pay you higher fees, stay with you longer, and recommend you to others.

On the other hand, if you don’t have this knowledge and aren’t aligned with your ideal client, your marketing will be unfocused and look like every other lawyer’s marketing. Instead of creating content that speaks to your ideal client and the people who can refer them, you’ll create generic content that speaks to nobody. Instead of seeking out and networking with the people you want to work with, you’ll waste your time networking with “anyone”.

Jim Rohn said, “If you want to be successful, study success.” I say, “If you want to attract your ideal client, study your ideal client–and the people who can refer them.”

This will help you create a profile of your ideal client

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How to compete with bigger firms

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You’re a small firm or a solo, competing against bigger firms. They have more employees and bigger budgets. They have more buying power and can advertise for half of what you’ll pay. They have marketing committees and dedicated staff who do marketing-related activities all day long.

How do you compete against them?

You don’t. If you want to win, you have to choose the right battles.

If you have a small team, perhaps just you and an assistant, don’t target big clients who would never consider a small firm. Target smaller clients who not only would consider hiring a sole practitioner or small firm, they prefer it.

As a small firm, you are quicker and more agile. You don’t need committees to make decisions or change course. You make the call and do what needs to be done.

Unlike big firms, you don’t handle “everything”. You’re not adequate at many things, you specialize and are excellent at what you do.

You don’t have a huge staff or rent entire floors so your clients save money when they hire you.

You work closely with your clients and develop a personal relationship with them. When they need you, they can speak to you. You understand their business and industry. You know their staff. You are more than just their lawyer, you are a partner in their success.

Big firms have their strengths. Don’t compete with them. Don’t approach big companies and try to dazzle them with your successes. Even if they are impressed and love you they’re not going to hire you.

Create a profile of your ideal client and target only them. Tailor your marketing materials and your approach and show them that they are your ideal client and you are their ideal lawyer.

To create a profile of your ideal client, use this

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How can I get better clients?

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How can I get better clients, you ask. That’s a great question. It’s great because you asked “how” instead of “can I?” Your question acknowledges that (a) there are better clients to be had, and that (b) it is possible for you to attract them.

Instead of making do with the clients you’ve been getting, you’ve opened the door to better ones. And opening that door is the first step.

Your next step is to define what “better clients” mean. Who is your “ideal client?”

Be specific. If you mean bigger cases, bigger retainers, or bigger fees, how big is big? If you mean clients who pay on time, follow your advice and don’t try to micromanage you, write down some examples of actual clients who fit that description.

What about clients who have lots of repeat business for you? What about clients who are influential in your target market(s) and can send you lots of referrals?

Write it all down and think about it for a few days. Edit and add to your list, until it hums.

For each characteristic on your list, write down the benefits. What will bigger cases or better cash flow allow you to do in your practice? How will it add value to your personal life?

Don’t skip this part. It’s important to know how but more important to know why because when you know why, you’ll figure out how.

Imagine what your practice will look like when nearly 100% of your clients fit your ideal. Exciting, isn’t it?

Okay, what’s next?

Next is stating your intention to acquire them. Not your desire, not your goal, your intent.

A goal is an aspiration. Intent is a declaration that something is going to happen. It is a commitment, and it has much more energy than a goal.

What’s that? You say this is your intent? Okay, prove it. Let go of your clients who aren’t ideal.

Not all at once. You don’t have to go cold turkey, although you might want to. “Leap and the net will appear,” and all that.

How about this–start by firing (or non-renewing) one client who doesn’t fit your ideal. One is a place to start, and trust me, after you’ve let go of one, you’ll be itching to let go of more.

Yes, but what do you do to replace them? How do you fill the void you just created?

Nature will take care of some of it for you. Remember, she abhors a vacuum. By making room on your client list for better clients, you just instructed her to fill that void. She will command your reticular activating system (RAS)–look it up–to filter out prospective clients who don’t fit your ideal and make you more aware of those who are.

You’ll notice things, hear things, and be inspired to do things that lead you to those better clients. That’s what happened to me in my practice when I went through this process. It was amazing how quickly the void was filled with “better” clients.

Okay, I know you don’t believe me. Not completely, anyway. It sounds good but you want to hedge your bets by identifying things you can do to make it happen, instead of waiting for it to happen.

But that’s the easy part. You can ask yourself, “Where do I find them?” and “What do I say or do or offer?” and you’ll start getting some answers.

Your RAS will lead you to those answers. You’ll meet other attorneys who have the clients you want to attract and you’ll find out what they’re doing. You’ll stumble upon the perfect blog post or book that will have the answers you seek.

But you had to state your intent, first. Because great things can happen once you commit, but nothing great happens until you do.

Who is your ideal client? Find out here

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Do more of what works

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Let’s talk about your practice. And get you more clients like your favorite client.

So who is your favorite client? Don’t give this a lot of thought. What’s the first name that comes to mind?

Got it? Okay, now why are they your favorite, or one of your favorites?

Is it their personality? Is it because they pay you lots of money? Is it because they don’t question you or complain?

Maybe all of the above. Maybe something else.

Whatever it is, write it down. In fact, you should probably write down all of this because once we’re done here, you’ll want to do this for your next favorite client. Maybe your top ten.

Now, think about where you met your favorite client or how they found you. What did you do that precipitated their becoming a client?

Were they a referral? Answer your ad? Did you meet them networking? Did they find you online?

Whatever it was that brought you together, you should probably continue doing it. If your ad in a certain journal brought them to your door, no doubt you’d like other clients like him to find you the same way.

If they found you online, what did they search for? What page did they land on? What did they do after that, and what finally convinced them to take the next step and contact you?

Next, it’s time to do a deep dive into your favorite client’s world. Find out what they do and who they know.

The Law of Association says that we tend to be like the people with whom we associate most. Your client’s friends and colleagues, therefore, are likely to have similar attributes, needs, and the ability to pay, and your favorite client can refer them to you.

Find out what your favorite client reads, who he listens to, and where he spends his time. Study him. Become on expert on him. This is valuable intel. Use it in your marketing so you can do more of what’s working, and get more clients like your favorite client.

How to create a profile of your ideal client

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Who’s your favorite client?

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Quick question: who’s your favorite client?

You know who I mean. The one who pays you big money and hires you more often. The one who sends you lots of referrals, promotes your website, and shares your social media posts. The one who follows your advice and never causes problems.

Bottom line, if you could clone him, you would be one happy camper.

So who is it? What is his or her name?

(I’m going to call him Jim.)

What’s that? You have more than one Jim? Good stuff. You can do this with each of them (and trust me, you’ll want to).

Okay, remember waaaay back where you said you would be happy if you could clone Jim? Let’s see if we can do something like that.

Get Jim on the phone, or you can do this the next time he’s in the office. Tell him he’s one of your favorite clients, that you enjoy working with him and you want to ask him a few questions so you can do a better job for him and your other clients.

Then, interview Jim.

Start off with a few easy questions about his work and family and what he likes to do for fun.

Next, unless you already know, ask him how he went about finding you. Did he find your website? What did he search for? Was he referred? By whom? Did he see an ad, come to a seminar, or meet you at an event?

Then, ask him what he liked best about the work you did for him and how you and your staff treated him.

Write this stuff down. It’s golden.

Once Jim has said some nice things about you, ask him, “What could we do better?”

Next on the list, ask him for the names of a few other professionals he works with and recommends. What does he like best about them? Will he introduce you to them (or would it be okay if you use their name)?

Finally, ask Jim what you can do for him outside of your legal services. What does he need or want? Does he have a problem? Can you send him more business? Help him find a new vendor or employee? Write a college recommendation letter for his oldest? Buy his youngest’s girl scout cookies?

Okay, what have you learned?

You’ve learned how people like your favorite client are finding you. Now you can do more of what’s working and attract more clients like Jim.

You’ve learned what you’re doing well and what you need to improve. This helps you fix anything that needs fixing and do more of what makes you great.

You’ve learned the names of other professionals you can reach out to. You can meet them and start a referral relationship and you also have a high quality professional you can recommend to your other clients.

Finally, you’ve learned what you can do to help Jim. You’ve got something you can do that will make your great relationship with him even better.

Oh yeah, one more thing. When you asked Jim what he liked about you and how you helped him, you can use the nice things he said about you as a testimonial.

After the interview, send Jim a thank you note. Tell him how much you appreciate his help. Maybe enclose a gift card or send a fruit basket.

After that, make sure you continue to let Jim know how important he is to you. Call him, just to say hello. Send him articles he might find helpful or interesting. Give him freebies from time to time. And make sure he hears from you around the holidays, his birthday, and his anniversary.

If you want more clients like Jim, focus on Jim because what we focus on grows.

To learn how to create a profile of your ideal client, get the formula

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How well do you know your clients and prospects?

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Peter Drucker said, “The aim of marketing is to make selling superfluous. The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well that the product or service fits him and sells itself.”

In other words, when there is a close match between what you offer and what your client wants and needs, you don’t need to persuade him to hire you, you need do little more than show up.

Do you know what your clients want? Do you know what keeps them up at night? Do you know what other options they have considered?

Do you know where they live and how much they earn? Do you know what they do for work and what they do on weekends?

You may not know these things if you are like most lawyers who define their target market merely in terms of legal problems. That is, anyone who has a certain legal issue is a potential client. That may be true in a literal sense, but if you stop there, you’ll never achieve the kind of synchronicity that draws clients to you and makes them immediately see you as the best solution.

You need to define your target market in terms of your ideal client. Who is an almost perfect match for you? You need to know your clients and prospects so you can focus your marketing efforts on attracting them.

If I tell you I know lots of clients I can refer to you but I need you to tell me what you are looking for, what would you say? When you can answer this question with specificity, marketing gets a lot easier.

I’ll be able to quickly identify clients who would be a good match for you and I will be able to tell them why they should contact you.

When your ideal client reads something on your website, they will know that they don’t need to look elsewhere, they’ve found the right lawyer.

When you are networking or on social media and someone asks you what you do, you’ll be able to tell them not only what you do but for whom you do it, making it more likely that they will self-identify.

Many lawyers are hesitant to define their ideal client, or publicize it, because they are afraid they won’t attract clients who don’t fit the profile. “If I say my ideal client is in the insurance industry, I won’t attract clients in the transportation field,” they say.

Yes, and that’s the point.

You don’t want to get the scraps in a variety of markets, you want the lion’s share in one market.

Big fish, small(er) pond?

Choose a target market. Define your ideal client. Get to know everything you can about them. And then offer them exactly what you know they want.

When you do, you won’t have to explain why anyone should choose you instead of any other lawyer. Everyone will know.

For help in defining your target market(s) and ideal client, get this.

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Lawyers: the world’s second oldest profession

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We’re mouthpieces. Clients pay us to advocate their position. We don’t have to believe in what our client wants, or like them personally, we do their bidding. Kinda like the world’s oldest profession.

Now, now, don’t get your panties in a festival. I’m being real here. We don’t care if our client is ugly or smells bad, we only care if the check clears. We do our jobs. If we don’t, we’re out of business. Besides, if we don’t do it, some other shyster will, so all our righteous indignation and standing on principle is for naught.

At least that’s what some people think.

The truth is, we can decide who we will and won’t represent. We don’t have to represent anyone who shakes a bag of money in our face. We can refuse to take cases and causes we don’t believe in or represent any client who needs our help. And we can make a fine living doing it.

But I don’t want to talk about policy or the image of the profession. I want to talk about marketing.

At some point, you should have written a description of your ideal client. (If you have not and you need help doing so, get The Attorney Marketing Formula.)

Once you have decided on your ideal client. . . Don’t keep it a secret.

Tell people what kinds of clients you want to work with. Publish this on your website. Let everyone know.

Practice areas are easy: here’s what I do, here’s what I don’t do. (But I know a lot of other lawyers, so if you have X problem, give me a holler and I’ll introduce you to a lawyer who can help.)

What’s more challenging is describing clients by industry or demographics.

You represent only men or only women, only landlords or only tenants. You represent clients in certain industries or of a certain size or market sector.

“Yeah, but if I declare to the world that I represent clients in the automotive industry, I won’t get hired by clients who manufacture appliances.”

What you have to realize is that this is a good thing.

You may not get appliance manufacturers, but you’ll get more from the auto industry. They will be attracted to you because they see you are dedicated to serving them. They’ll see that you understand their needs and speak their language. You have helped others like them, so it’s obvious that you can help them, too.

We may be the world’s second oldest profession, but this doesn’t mean we have to represent everyone who can pay.

Specialize in the clients you represent. And don’t be afraid to announce it.

Choose a target market. If you don’t know who to choose, choose anyone. Jim Rohn said, “It doesn’t matter which side of the fence you get off on sometimes. What matters most is getting off. You cannot make progress without making decisions.”

On the great road of life (or business), some choose the left side, some choose the right side, and both can do well. The ones who stay in the middle of the road are the ones who usually get run over.

This will help you choose your ideal client and target market. 

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How to qualify prospective clients in four seconds or less

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Would you like to know if someone is a candidate for your services within four seconds of meeting them?

I just read about a financial advisor who built a very successful business doing that. He cold called investors, introduced himself, and asked a simple question: “Are you looking for a new financial advisor?”

He didn’t ask if they were interested in getting information about a hot stock. He didn’t invite them to a seminar. He was looking for people who wanted a new advisor and that’s what he asked.

They either were or they were not. If they said yes or maybe, he moved forward. If not, he moved on.

Hold the phone, I’m not suggesting you cold call. Or that you ask people you just met a qualifying question. “Hi, I’m Joe. Are you looking for a divorce lawyer?”

But I am asking you to put on your thinking cap and come up a good qualifying question for your services.

There are many ways to phrase the question:

  • Are you looking for. . .?
  • Do you need. . .?
  • Which of these works best for you. . .?
  • Do you have this problem?
  • Have you ever. . .?
  • Why are you. . .?
  • Are you ready to. . .?

You might put the question on the home page of your website, front and center, to let visitors know they’ve come to the right place. You might not ask until someone has had a chance to read something, get their questions answered, and get a sense for who you are.

You might ask in conversation. Or hand over a brochure or report that asks for you.

On the other hand, you may never vocalize the question or put it in writing. The question may be no more than sub-text. But there it will be, guiding you and qualifying your reader or listener.

Crafting this question will help you define your “ideal client”. What is their problem? Where are they in the process? What other solutions have they considered or tried? It will help you qualify prospective clients, possibly in four seconds or less.

So, what would you ask someone to find out if they are a prospect for your services?

Do you want help describing your ideal client? Get this.

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My clients are driving me crazy

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I got an email from an attorney who said, “my clients are driving me crazy”. Apparently, many of his clients don’t appreciate him. They are rude and think they know better and he is finding it difficult to maintain his composure.

What do you do in a situation like that?

The first thing I would suggest is to take a look at yourself. Why? Because your law practice is a reflection of you–your attitudes and habits. If you have a preponderance of clients who don’t appreciate you, that may be because you don’t appreciate them.

We don’t attract the clients we want, we attract the clients we deserve.

Do you appreciate your clients? More importantly, do they know it? Do you show them by your words and deeds that you care about them and will do whatever you can to help them? In what ways do you show them? How often do you show them? Is it sincere or is it something you do because you think you have to?

You can’t fake this. People know.

But you may not know. You may not be able to see yourself clearly. So, ask your staff what they think. Ask other professionals who know you. And ask your clients. Send them a survey they can respond to anonymously and leave room for their suggestions.

The other thing I suggest is that you focus on the clients who do appreciate you so you can attract more like them.

What’s different about them? What services do they hire you to perform? How did they find you? (Clients who come from referrals are often better than clients who come through the Internet or advertising).

Are they at the high end of the fee spectrum or the low end? Are they first time clients or repeat clients? What is their background or occupation? Age? Income level?

Survey them as well and see what they like best about you.

Look for patterns and create a profile of these better clients. Then, work on attracting more like them by focusing your time, energy, and resources marketing to people who fit that profile. Start with your existing and former clients who fit that profile. They will lead you to people like themselves.

And, as soon as possible, start pruning your client garden. Get rid of the clients who don’t appreciate you, first, before you have found clients to replace them. Scary? Yes. But you will feel great getting rid of all that negative energy and soon, the void you create will be filled with the clients you want and deserve.

This shows you how create a profile of your ideal client.

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