Why you need to get rid of all of your clients and start over

You need to get rid of all of your clients. No, not literally. Emotionally.

What I mean is that you need to detach from the need for your clients to be something they aren’t.

You can’t make your clients appreciate you if they don’t. Let them go. Mentally release them and your need to change them.

You can’t change the complainers, the price shoppers, and the trouble makers into model clients. Let them go.

You can’t change your clients. All you can do is. . . change your clients.

Let go of the wrong ones to make room for the right ones. The clients who value what you do for them, and tell you so. The clients who follow your advice, pay your bill, and re-tweet your brilliance. The clients who come back to you again and again and refer others, again and again.

You know the kinds of clients I’m talking about. The ones you’d like to clone.

Let go of all of your clients to make room for the right clients, the best clients, the clients that make everything you do worth doing.

They are out there and they will find you. But only if you make room.

Engage your clients and prospects by explaining the news

So we have some health care news. Now what?

Your clients and prospects are wondering what it all means. What do they have to know? What do they have to do? What will it cost them? What’s next?

This is a great opportunity to provide some answers. Leverage news events like these to add value to the lives of the people who follow you. They will appreciate you for sorting it out for them and the next time you write, tweet, post, or otherwise open your mouth, they will be more likely to pay attention.

If you don’t know what to make of everything yourself, there’s plenty of help available. Here’s an article that explains, “How Will the New Health Care Law Affect Me?” Here’s one about, “How Your Business Will Be Affected.” You can use articles like these as a starting point to write your own summary.

You don’t need to write a comprehensive legal analysis (unless your clients are in the health care field or are affected more than most). Give them the who, what, where, when, and why.

But be careful with the why. If you get political, you may alienate a lot of people who put food on your table.

Show people they can trust you. Give them the facts. Help them understand.

The economy sucks. What are you doing about it?

Okay, I’m not going to go all save-the-world on you but yes, if you can do something to make things better, you should. Get involved in local politics, volunteer at a charity, help someone in need.

The best thing you can do is to grow your practice. A bigger income would mean you could do more to help others. And you know what they say about the best way to help the poor: don’t become one of them.

I saw this photo on Facebook yesterday and it touched me. In case you can’t see it, it’s the window of a dry cleaner’s with a sign that says, “If you are unemployed and need an outfit clean for an interview, we will clean it for FREE”.

Nice.

Do you think the owner will get some business from this, beyond what he does for free? Publicity? Positive word of mouth? Do you think anyone who takes him up on his offer will continue to patronize his store in the future? Do you think he will tell everyone he knows about the business owner who helped him when he really needed a break?

No question about it. Doing good is good for business.

Could you do something similar for your clients and prospects? For your community?

A discount, a free service, even some non-legal advice. Offer a free financial literacy seminar to help people get a handle on their debts. Get someone a job interview at one of your client’s companies. Offer struggling entrepreneurs two hours of free advice.

Lots of people need help right now. Unemployed, struggling military families, people losing their homes.

What can you do?

Don’t do it solely because it might bring you some business. Do it because it makes you feel good to help a fellow human being.

If we all do that, even a little, everyone will be better off. Including us.

How to get more clients to schedule an appointment

There’s a precept in marketing, and especially copy writing, that says you will get a higher response to your offer when you, “tell people what to do”.

Don’t leave it up to them to figure out. Tell them what to do, even if it’s obvious.

If you want people to call to schedule an appointment, tell them WHAT to do (call 888-555-4321), WHY (to get a free consultation and find out if you have case), and WHEN (now, between 8-5pm weekdays, any time 24/7).

If you leave something out, fewer people will call.

And whatever it is you’re telling them to do, make it easy for them to do it. Filling out a simple form on your web site with spaces for the information they’ll need to submit will get a higher response than an application they’ll need to print, fill out, and fax.

Making it easy also means being clear about what to do. Tell them what form to fill out and what button to push. Tell them what will happen after they do it.

Make it so clear that it is almost impossible to misunderstand.

And don’t change something that’s working. Once people get used to doing things a certain way, changes risk confusion and a lower response.

My wife went to pay our electric bill online. Last month, all she had to do was click the button that said “Submit.” This month, without telling anyone about it, the “Submit” button was now labeled “Save.”

She didn’t want to save, she wanted to pay. Where was the submit button?

She wound up calling the company to make sure she was doing it right. The person she spoke with admitted they were getting hundreds of emails from customers who were confused by the change. How many customers will be late paying their bills this month because they are confused?

Side note: Someone should fire the genius who thought “Save” was better than “Submit” or “Pay Now”. Yikes.

Another side note: If they’re getting hundreds of emails from confused customers, uh, here’s a thought: change the button back to “Submit”.

If you want to get more people calling, clicking, or pulling out their credit card, tell them precisely what to do and make it as easy as pie for them to do it.

If you’re not sure, show your page or email to a ten year old kid and ask them to follow the instructions. If they’re not completely clear on what to do, if they hesitate in any way, you’ve got work to do.

Could you charge more for your legal services? Here’s how to find out

Could you charge higher fees for your legal services than you charge right now?

What if you could get paid one-third more than you now get without losing any business. Wouldn’t that be cool? Or, maybe you might lose some business but increase your net income because of the higher fees you are paid from everyone else. Also cool.

Most attorneys set their fees by looking at what other attorneys in their market charge. They don’t want to charge a lot more or a lot less so they play it safe. But some attorneys do ask for more and they get it.

True, these higher paid attorneys may have more experience or a higher-profile reputation. They might offer more value to their clients. Perhaps they are better “sales people” or have more chutzpah. Maybe they took a chance when quoting fees and got lucky.

The point is that some attorneys get paid more than other attorneys for doing essentially the same work. What if you could, too?

There is a way to find out if you could charge more. No, not by asking your clients or prospects if they would be willing to pay more. They have a certain, um, bias, don’t you think? No, if you want to find out if people are willing to pay more you have to charge more, and see if they pay it.

But hold on. Don’t raise your fees across the board just yet. That’s too risky. You don’t know if this will be successful. What if you ask for too much and lose too many clients? Not good. Conversely, what if you don’t ask for enough? Your clients may pay ten percent more without flinching, but how do you know they wouldn’t have paid twenty percent more?

The answer is to test higher fees with small groups of clients and/or prospects and measure the results.

Pay-per-click advertising is a great way to do “split testing”. Basically, you quote one fee to the first inquiry and a higher fee to the second. You alternate quotes until you have a meaningful sample of responses and clients. With enough responses, you’ll be able to see which fee is producing (a) the most clients, and (b) the highest income.

Pay-per-click advertising has become extremely expensive and you might not want to use it as an ongoing marketing tool. But for short term testing purposes, wouldn’t it be worth it to find out conclusively that you could safely charge a lot more than you do now?

If your practice isn’t amenable to advertising, there are other ways to test fees with smaller groups of prospects. If you do seminars, for example, you could quote every other attendee a different fee. Or quote different fees at every other seminar.

The results of price testing are often surprising. You would think that charging higher fees would decrease the number of sales (clients) but that is not always the case. Sometimes you sell just as many at the higher price. And sometimes, believe it or not, you sell more at the higher price.

But you’ll never know unless you test.

Get more writing done in less time with OmmWriter

I wrote this post in OmmWriter, an application that creates a quiet, uncluttered writing space. Just a simple, full page of blank writing surface, a few basic fonts, and little else.

The idea is to be able to write without being distracted by Facebook, email, or other web sites or applications. It gives you a quiet place to be alone with your thoughts, so you can get more writing done in less time.

I remember going to the library in high school to write papers I didn’t want to write. Once I settled down and resigned myself to getting started, the quiet helped me to focus. Applications like OmmWriter create a similar environment.

On the other hand, I usually don’t need a quiet setting to write. In fact, like many people, I enjoy having some distractions. I think that’s why you see so many people writing or doing homework at Starbucks.

Also, when I write I usually refer to notes or articles I’ve saved or have open in a browser. Being in a writing app that takes over the full screen means I have to close the app to get to those notes or articles.

I do enjoy writing in OmmWriter, especially when I’m writing about something I know a lot about or have strong feelings about. The writing is quicker and flows more freely. What I mean is that I’m not so much engaged in the act of writing as I am in connecting my thoughts with my keyboard. For first drafts especially, it’s a more intuitive, natural process, and in some ways, the writing is better.

Applications like this are a good idea for writers who need that quiet space where they can let their creativity flow. If you ever find yourself unable to settle down and get into your writing, this is a good solution.

I’ve tried other applications like this. Some are browser based, some, like OmmWriter, you download. OmmWriter offers a feature I like, background colors and sounds (music) they have found to be conducive to writing. They provide a sort of “white noise” that helps me focus better.

OmmWriter is free and there is also a paid version (donation-ware) with more colors and sounds. I have used it off and on since I first downloaded it a month ago and I will continue to use it. It’s easier than driving to the library, and a lot cheaper than Starbucks.

How is important but don’t forget why

I did a presentation last night for some of my business partners and their guests. The objective was to get the guests to either invest in our business directly or provide referrals to our partners.

I talked about the history of our company, the value of our services, and the size of our market.

Lots of facts and figures. Very compelling, if I do say so myself.

But in order to get the ball over the goal line, I made sure I also told them why.

Why the facts I recited are important. Why I got involved, and why they should, too.

I did this by telling stories about some of our partners, their backgrounds and motivation, and also my own. I showed them what motivated us. Facts are static and lifeless. Stories have people in them and everyone wants to know “what happened next”.

Whenever you want to persuade people to act, tell them why. What’s in it for them? What will they get if they do? What might they lose if they don’t?

On your web site, tell people why they should opt-in to your newsletter. What’s the benefit? What do they get? Why will they be better off as a result?

In your demand letters, tell them why they should say yes. Why is it in their best interest? What might happen if they refuse?

In your oral arguments, explain why something was said or done. Tell the judge why he should accept your version. Tell him why he should grant your request.

You may have the weight of evidence in your favor, but it’s your job to interpret that evidence and tell people why it matters. Don’t assume they will know. It’s not always obvious. And even if it is obvious and even if they do know, tell them anyway. Tell them stories that reach beyond their intellect and pluck the heart strings of their emotions.

How is important but don’t forget to tell them why.