Do what works (better)


Mistakes, I’ve had a few. But then again, too few to mention. . .

Actually, that’s not true. I’ve made a lot of mistakes. Too many to mention.

But that’s why I’ve had a lot of success.

I get an idea, try it, see if it works. If it doesn’t, I change it and try again. Or abandon it and move on.

Many things don’t work. Most things, maybe. But when I find one that does, I keep doing it and expanding it and making it work better.

Trial and error. The “secret” to success.

In marketing, it’s called “testing”. And you do it with ideas, headlines, offers, and other variables. To see if anyone is interested in what you are offering, and to see which version works better, i.e., gets a bigger response.

You want to know which title or headline or image to use? You try two or more different options (with software or advertising) and see which one gets the most clicks or calls, sign-ups or sales.

One title or headline might generate ten or twenty percent more clicks than another, adding thousands of dollars in additional revenue. Sometimes, one title or headline will generate 300% more clicks than another, and you smile all the way to the bank.

Logic and experience might tell you one is better than the other. Logic and experience don’t know.

The only way to tell for certain which variable is better, and by how much, is to test.

Try lots of things. Track the numbers. When you find something that works, use it, but keep trying other things until you find something that works better.

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Your ad is bringing in clients. Your website is making your phone ring. Your seminar results in client appointments every time you run it.

Your marketing is working, and that’s good, but what if it could work better?

What if a different web page would bring you 20% more traffic? What if a different ad would bring in 50% more clients? What if a different offer at the end of your seminar resulted in 18% more appointments?

They might.

A different ad, a different headline, a different offer, and other variables, can result in dramatic differences in results. A few simple changes might bring in double or triple the number of clients, without any added expense.

It’s called testing and it is the essence of direct response marketing.

Author Tim Ferris invested $200 on pay-per-click ads testing different titles for his book. “The 4-Hour Workweek” got more clicks than any other title by a huge margin.

Keep running the ad that’s working and also run a different one. Don’t change anything on your webpage but send some traffic to a different page and see if you get better results.

You’ve probably heard about the value of testing. If you’re like most people, however, you’re probably not doing it, at least as much as you could. When things are working, it’s natural to want to leave them alone and focus on other things.

But test you must.

Talk to your marketing or web people about running some test ads, pages or offers. When you find something that works better than what you’re doing now, make that your “control”. Then, test additional changes against it, because no matter how well things are working, you never know if something else could work better.

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When people need you but don’t hire you


I spoke with a guy who does websites for attorneys. He told me he has a client who is getting approximately 20 leads a month via his website but very few of them make an appointment. He wanted to know if I could help.

Of course I can help. I’m friggin Batman.

I took a quick look at his website and saw a lot of issues, but one issue tells most of the story. He doesn’t offer free consultations.

If you want to talk to the attorney, you have to pay.

He handles high end divorces and his site says he charges for a consultation so clever spouses can’t talk to him and thus eliminate him as a lawyer for their spouse (conflict).

True or not, I’m not sure prospective clients buy this explanation, and this is coming from a guy who practiced in Beverly Hills where this tactic is common. If prospects don’t buy this (or understand it), you’re not scoring points on the trust meter.

If you want to charge for a first consultation, “sell” the consultation by telling prospects all of the value delivered during that consultation. What do they learn? What do they get? How do they benefit? You should do this even if you offer free consultations.

Anyway, not the point.

The point is, is he making money? He gets a low percentage of leads converting to appointments, but if he closes them at the appointment, he might be doing just fine. Perhaps he doesn’t need to convert more leads to appointments, perhaps he should work on getting more traffic.

Charging for consultations weeds out people who aren’t serious or who might not be able to pay his fee if they wanted to hire him. He saves a lot of time by not talking to them, and time is money, even if you don’t bill by the hour.

On the other hand, he might earn more by offering free consultations. He would undoubtedly set more appointments, and this might lead to more clients and more revenue. He could screen out low-percentage prospects by speaking with them for a few minutes on the phone before setting an appointment, or having someone in the office do that.

If the conflict of interest issue is on the level, so be it. Otherwise, I would suggest running a test. Offer free consultations for a month or three and see what happens.

He might get more calls and more clients and conclude that he’s better off offering free consultations and very glad he found out. Or he might find that while he’s getting more appointments, he’s not getting more sign-ups and he can go back to his original plan.

Make sense? Good. Now go make some dollars.

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Grow your law practice by adding new services


So you want to grow your law practice and you’ve got an idea for a new service. Do you work out all the kinks and then offer it to the world? If you’re like most lawyers (i.e., perfectionists, slightly paranoid, risk-adverse), there’s a good chance you’ll never launch that puppy.

Instead, consider borrowing a concept from the start-up world. The idea is to create a “minimally viable product” (service) and offer it not to everyone but to a segment of your target market. Do it quickly and see if anyone wants it before you spend a lot of time or money.

Make it as attractive as possible, and price it as low as possible, but don’t polish it until it’s all shinny and near perfect. Get something out there, flawed though it may be, and see if it sells.

If it does sell, improve the service and put more effort into marketing it. If it doesn’t sell, if it’s what they call in the real estate investment world a “don’t wanter,” move on.

Don’t waste time working on something until you know people want it. It doesn’t have to be great. Good enough is good enough for testing purposes.

If you’re concerned about offering a service that’s not yet up to your usual standards, test it outside of your primary market. Put up some Google ads or Facebook ads and see if you get some traffic and opt-ins before investing your time learning the ins and outs of the new service. Or, partner up with another attorney who offers that service. If you get some “sales,” you can turn those clients over to them while you brush up on your knowledge and skills.

You can also use this concept to test marketing strategies for your existing services. Write a report in a day or two (instead of weeks) and put it out there to see who “buys” it (signs up for your list or inquires about your services). If you get decent results, go back and expand and improve the report and offer it in more places. If it doesn’t work, pull it and try something else.

What new service could you start testing?


The most important question you can ask a new client


How many new clients did you get last month?

If you don’t know the number, either you didn’t get any new clients or you’re not keeping track.

You need to keep track.

You also need to keep track of where they came from. Who referred them? Which keyword did they use to find your website? Which ad did they click on?

You need to know how every new client made his or her way to your doorstep. That’s why the most important question you can ask a new client is: “How did you hear about us?”

You need to know so you know what’s working. Are your ads pulling or are you throwing your money away? Which ad is working better? Are you getting clients through your efforts on social media or are you wasting your time? Which social media platform is working better? Which posts?

John Wanamaker, who owned department stores in the early part of the twentieth century and spent a fortune on advertising, once said, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”

Department stores do “brand advertising”. They don’t usually track response. Although they can do focus groups and track coupons, they don’t know with any degree of accuracy if what they are doing is working. You won’t have that problem if you ask, “How did you hear about us?”

Don’t just ask new clients, however, ask everyone. If they call your office, if they contact you through email, if they show up at your door, ask them.

In my office, our new client intake form had a space to record the name of the person who referred the new client. We kept track, so we knew who to thank. It also allowed us to bring up the subject of referrals with the new client.

We had a form next to the phone to record the name of the referring person or the phone book or other ad that prompted them to call. We tracked them after the call, to see if they became a client. In this way, we learned which of our ads generated new business and which ones didn’t. (Some brought a lot of calls but not a lot of clients.)

Today, there are other options for measuring response to ads and traffic to our web sites. But nothing beats asking, “How did you hear about us?”