Do something every single day, has been my mantra for many years. Why, because it’s much easier to commit to small tasks. And those small tasks can accumulate and become a tidal wave. As the saying goes, How do you eat an elephant…one bite at a time.

That is what business development can feel like… eating an elephant! It doesn’t have to feel that way if you do something every single day. So here is a 7-Day Action Plan to get you started.

In this 7 – Day Plan I present you with the tools to make marketing a lifelong habit. There are no lengthy sessions or hours of work…these tasks can take as little as 2 minutes (sending an e-mail) to as long as an hour (lunching with a contact).

For each day I encourage you to THINK about and ACT on a specific element of the process. I also give you a timely TIP that can put you on the right track…right away. Creating a new habit is not easy and it’s not instant, this will help you get started!

Day 1- Monday: LISTEN

THINK: In order to market yourself, you must first understand and define what makes you stand out from the crowd. As a lawyer, your name is your brand, and no one knows you better than your client. Listening to their feedback and realizing how they view your practice can help you focus on what’s really important.

ACT: Call three clients and ask them what they value most about your relationship and the work that you do for them. Take notes and try to be as open minded as possible.

TIP: Try to get detailed rather than general statements. Use follow-up questions and ask for examples. Hearing that your office is communicative is too general; hearing that your office updates clients on their cases on a weekly basis makes you stand out.

Day 2-Tuesday: ANALYZE

THINK: One of the most important first steps in marketing yourself is to identify and write down your “points of differentiation,” or the services and qualities that separate you from the crowd. Consider a unique area of expertise –or unique philosophy on business—that makes you stand out from the crowd. Figuring out what that is (or what you would like it to be) and how that benefits your clients can make all the difference.

ACT: Look closely at your client feedback from yesterday…you may be surprised. Using that information, write out three points of differentiation for your practice. Make these ideas the basis of future marketing efforts… and make sure people know about them!

TIP: Be specific and be creative. All attorneys say they return calls promptly. You may have a “2-hour” rule, in which all clients receive a response within 2 hours of a phone call or e-mail. All attorneys say they are experienced. You may have worked in your clients’ industry before you represented them.

Day 3- Wednesday: REVIEW

THINK: Your online bio could be a prospective client’s first impression of your skills and experience. By viewing it as more of a marketing tool than resume, you will be able to see places where a rewrite (or edit) could be useful. Think about what your client’s value about your background and the interesting details, memberships or cases that make you an expert in your field. Does everything in your bio have meaning to a client?

ACT: Read through your bio and ask yourself if it clearly communicates your points of differentiation… what your clients want to know. If not, make some changes. Keep it short, keep it informative and most of all write from the client’s perspective, not yours.

TIP: A bio is not a place to list every case, organization and committee you have ever been a part of; it’s a place to show clients how you can be of use to him or her. It should include your contact info, education information, a 2-3-sentence narrative, your most recent (or most important) cases and the organizations or committees that would be of interest to your clients. Show them that you have the knowledge and experience to help them with their issues.

Day 4 – Thursday: IDENTIFY

THINK: Once you understand who your client is, you can tailor your marketing to better reach them.  Is there a niche market you are filling (or can fill)? Is there a specific industry that could be drawn to your practice? Is there a demographic that you are consistently reaching? Cater to your client and new business will find you. Stay in that niche and momentum will build.

ACT: Look closely at your client roster and analyze what ties them together. Identify your client categories.

TIP: Are the majority of your clients in the construction business? If so, you now have a clear message (knowledge of the industry) to focus on and a clear audience to market to (trade associations, etc.).

Day 5 – Friday: RESEARCH

THINK: Now that you know your client, go out and find them. What organizations do they belong to? Who do they do business with? Following their lead can bring in new business and connect your practice to other decision-makers who may need your services.

ACT: Investigate the organizations that your clients are members of. Ask them what is important to them. Identify one to join and become active in over the next 6-18 months. Choose one where you can truly make a difference.

TIP: A local or national trade organization is a good place to start. That will expose you to a large group of potential clients who have the same interests (and needs) as your current clientele.

Day 6- Saturday: STRATEGIZE

THINK: It may seem impossible, but realizing the importance of making time for marketing is an important step toward success. Just as billable hours are counted and analyzed, so should your marketing efforts. Create goals, set expectations and reward performance…even if it’s simply you.

ACT: Set a tangible financial goal. Be specific and give yourself a measurable result to be accountable for. Plan out the steps you need to take to reach those goals. Do what you say you are going to do.

TIP: Use your new organization to help set your goal. Consider how your involvement can reap results. Figure out how to network and connect via that membership and figure out how to bring in 2 clients from those connections within the next 12 months (presentations count…they can result in referrals!).

Day 7- Sunday: JOIN

THINK:The only way to reach potential clients is to get in front of them. As we mentioned before, by becoming active in organizations that matter to your clients you learn more about their needs and can offer more specified services. What do you have to offer the organization you have chosen?

ACT: Join the organization you chose on Friday and since it’s Sunday, fill out an online application. Look around their site and figure out who you will make contact with tomorrow.

TIP: Making contact with an organization President or Board Member shows you are committed to involvement and helps you stand out among the plethora of members. The idea is to get involved and meet people who will learn to trust and respect you.

Now you have a 7-Day head start on your new business development habit. You have momentum going; don’t stop now. Keep making notes of the strategies that work, keep reaching out to contacts and keep emphasizing your points of differentiation.

Part of this article is an except from my Amazon bestseller, The little Black Book: A Lawyer’s Guide to Creating A Marketing Habit in 21 Day.

First—was 2018 what you imagined it would be? Oh, you didn’t really think about what you wanted to accomplish in 2018? You just went where the crisis-of-the-day lead you? From one overwhelmed day to another. Then when it was all over and you looked around, there was nothing in the pipeline? Panic set in and you got out there to get the work to start flowing again. Month after month it gave you a sinking feeling and you took it out on your family? Things started to pickup, after a while. Then the cycle happened all over again… From one overwhelmed day to another… over and over again.

In 2019, let’s stop the cycle. Think about what you want. Here are twelve questions to answer:

1. Is it time to make a real change? Change what you do and where you do it?
2. Is it time to find more harmony between work and family?
3. Is it time to grow your practice with intention?
4. How much revenue do you want?
5. How much time do you want to work?
6. How much time do you want to spend with your family and friends?
7. How much time do you want to take off?
8. Are you happy with the type of work you do?
9. If not what kind of work do you want to do?
10. Do you like the clients you work for?
11. If not, what kind of clients do you want to work for?
12. Is there enough happiness in your life?

Answer these questions as honestly as you can. The answers with help you identify what your big over aching goals for 2019 should be. Commit to 2 or 3 of them, and then you can start to add strategy to each of your goals in order to achieve them.  Goals without strategy are just dreams. If you have always said you would like to write a book and have never done anything to move in that direction; never put your thoughts down on paper, never attended a seminar on publishing, never researched the books in the same genre—for you to write a book is just a pipedream. On the other hand if you have done these things, you are on your way to accomplishing your goal.

Here are 3 rules to keep in mind when adding strategy and measurable benchmarks:

1. Set a timeframe: time of day, days of the week or time of month you will do something or expect something to occur. For example: Every Friday I will leave the office at 4:00 and plan activities with your family or friends. With the rigor it would take if I were catching a weekly business flight out of town.

2. Make a measurable commitment. For example: At every networking event I commit to having 3 meaningful conversations and end the conversions with a plan; get together for coffee or I will send the person something or introduce them to someone.

3. Keep a log or journal. It’s important to see the results of your commitment to your goals. When you can look back on your progress a couple of stumbles won’t be so significant.

When you create goals and strategy for your business and personal development it is important in 3 ways—it helps you to set your course, articulate your commitments and fosters a sense of accomplishment. Now tell me—who doesn’t want all that!

Most lawyers focus their marketing on the wrong person – themselves. Legal marketing, often, is all about the lawyer. His or her experience, qualifications, education, etc.

But the best marketing isn’t focused on the lawyer. It’s focused on the client. 

Instead of talking about yourself, your marketing should show your prospective clients how you are going to make their lives better. How you’re going to help them achieve success and/or avoid disaster. How you’re going to help them become a better version of themselves and achieve whatever goals or objectives they are pursuing.

A couple of examples…

As a business attorney, you’re helping your clients protect their investment and their life’s work. You’re creating a secure foundation for their family and their future generations. You’re helping them avoid legal and financial disaster. You’re enabling them to become confident, secure, and decisive as they pilot their business.

As a divorce attorney, you’re helping your client close a messy chapter of their life and move towards an exciting fresh start. You’re helping them to create that fresh start with confidence, knowing that they have the resources they need to thrive. You’re enabling them to re-discover themselves and live the next chapter of their life without fear.

Here’s a great commercial that illustrates this concept. The advertiser is Procter & Gamble – and they’re promoting diapers, batteries, laundry detergent, and paper towels. (And you thought your law practice was boring?!)

Yet, there’s not a word spoken about how absorbent the paper towels are, or how the diapers won’t leak. Instead it’s all about their target audience – Moms – and how their products enable mothers to become the person they want to be. The rock for their kids, helping them reach for the stars and achieve the impossible, even when it’s tough.

Just try to watch this without tearing up:

Great marketing isn’t about you. It’s about your clients – how you’re going to help them achieve their goals and become the people they want to be. 

My colleague, Paula Black has launched her 5thbook. This one is in audio format, and consists of 26 fascinating stories. It’s entitled A Lawyer’s Guide to Creating a Life, Not Just a Living.  It contains great advice from lawyers ranging from a federal judge to government officials, and lawyers of all stripes and size law firms. The storytellers talk about their legal career paths and its effect on their lives. It also has advice from such luminaries as marketing experts Daniel Decker and Mark Cerniglia.

The stories are filled with nuggets of wisdom. Sometimes we lawyers think we are the only ones facing challenging issues. A Lawyer’s Guide to Creating a Life, Not Just a Living will dispel that notion.

Great job, Paula!

Below is an email that I originally sent to our clients and prospective clients at Spotlight Branding. I wanted to share it on this blog as well – I hope it’s helpful!

[Poolside in Orlando]

So I’m sitting by the hotel pool in Orlando. I’m here for a marketing conference featuring Dan Kennedy and we’re on break right now.

But I’m writing this post right now with a lesson that has nothing to do with the actual conference itself.

Last night I flew from Charlotte to Orlando. I flew into Orlando-Sanford airport, which is a smaller regional airport. It worked better for my schedule than the main airport. But it’s about 30 miles from my hotel so I needed ground transportation.

Sanford airport has an interesting set-up. There’s a taxi stand, and then immediately next to it is the Uber pickup spot.

So I pulled up my app and checked the price for an Uber. $55 bucks.

Then I asked a taxi driver how much it would cost to get me to my hotel.

He was a nice guy, super friendly, but he obviously didn’t want to answer the question. Finally he did – $95.

I thanked him and then walked over to the Uber line.

As I left I heard him say to another driver “I wish we didn’t have to give them the price.”

In the five minutes I was there, I saw the scene repeat itself a handful of times.

There was a line for Uber drivers. No one got in a taxi.

The taxi drivers just stood there and watched it happen.

I know this isn’t a new dynamic. I’ve been Ubering for years and probably taken a taxi twice in that span.

But watching the action unfold side-by-side, and seeing how demoralized and helpless the taxi drivers were as it went down, really stuck with me last night. They’ve got kids to feed and bills to pay and they’re watching their livelihood go down the drain.

So there are a few marketing lessons here and one that’s especially important.

First. Don’t make it easy for clients to price shop. It was comically easy for me to compare prices. The taxi driver knew exactly what was going to happen but he couldn’t do anything about it. Don’t make it so easy.

Second. Don’t permit apples-to-apples comparison. Since there’s no real difference in the experience whether I take an Uber or a taxi, why would I pay 2x the price. How can you create a unique experience or a unique value proposition for clients?

Third. If you haven’t built a brand for yourself, you’re a commodity. This is the big one. Because there’s no difference between the Uber or the taxi, I’m choosing the cheaper option 100% of the time. And so was everyone else last night. What other reasons, beyond cost, can you give for clients to hire you?

Fourth. This is bigger than you. I think that the reason this stuck with me is because the emotions of the taxi driver were obvious last night. He’s depending on his income and others are depending on him as well. His company leadership and his industry failed him in a big way. And now he’s probably worrying about paying the bills and feeding his kids.

Who’s depending on you?

What are you going to do to build a brand for yourself instead of becoming a commodity?

How can you make your price irrelevant to prospective clients?

We can help you with some of this. Click here to request your Discovery Call.

But whether you engage us or not, please give this some thought. The legal market is changing. It’s easier for people to find cheap legal help than it’s ever beenDon’t be that taxi driver.

-Daniel Decker
Partner
Spotlight Branding

Relationships are critical when it comes to business development. That’s why so many lawyers spend time networking and building relationships.

But there’s something that a lot of lawyers don’t seem to pick up on… which is that creating a great first impression isn’t enough! 

We’ve all been there – a great conversation with a potential referral source at a networking event. There’s great synergy, you really hit it off, and you leave excited by the connection that you just created.

But then… nothing happens.

Why? Because your first impression, no matter how good it is, is still just a first impression. It takes more than a first impression to create a relationship. It takes repeated interactions to reinforce that first impression and lay the foundation for a mutually-beneficial relationship.

The good news is that many of those touch-points can be systematized and scaled so that you don’t have to spend every waking hour staying in touch with your network.

The best way to make this happen is through an email newsletter that goes out once per month at minimum. It’s easy and inexpensive to get your newsletter set up. And then, it takes a few hours per month to create content, build the newsletter, and send it out. (Or you can hire a professional firm to handle this for you.) With the push of a button, you reach your entire network with a powerful reminder of who you are and what you do.

Social media is another great tool to accomplish this. Connect with everyone in your network on LinkedIn. I highly recommend a Twitter profile and a Facebook Business Page as well. Create and publish content on a daily basis, or at least a few times per week. This is another powerful and scalable channel that you can use to create repeated touch-points and create top-of-mind awareness.

Finally, it’s important that you have a website that positions you as a credible expert and thought leader within your niche. Many times, the first thing that someone does after they’ve met you is look you up online. If you don’t have a website, or if it’s not impressive, that good first impression you made loses some of its power. On the other hand, if your website makes you look good, it further reinforces their perception of you. Think of your website as your “wingman” when you’re out networking. It’s got your back, day or night, and it’s always making you look good!

A great first impression isn’t enough. It’s important to create a marketing system that keeps you top-of-mind with your network and positions you as a credible expert. That’s how you build a steady flow of referrals and repeat business for your law practice!

Want to learn more? Click here for instant access to our Special Report which offers practical tips you can apply immediately.

The lawyers I work with often lament that they never have time for business development. But, is that really true? We have all been there… needing to do two or three things at once or having to do more in a day then is humanly possible. We seldom examine how we are trying to get things done. Nicolas Cole a contributor to Inc.com took a look and found that it just might be our habits that are killing our productivity.

Cole points out:

1. Constantly Checking Your Phone
2. Not Really Listening
3. Multitasking
4. Working With the Television On
5. Working in Unproductive Environments
6. Working With Unproductive People
7. Lack of Preparation
8. Notifications…OFF!

Think about them and you must admit that these 8 habits do kill our productivity. When I read number 4 – working with the television on, I said YIKES! Yes, that’s my habit and I know it IS distracting and I would be more productive if I would turn it off. I think I’ll work on minimizing the affect of this habit on my productivity and just turn it off! (Okay… I did it!)

What habit do YOU want to tackle to become more productive and have more time for business development?

 

 

Smart marketing starts by focusing on your existing assets and resources. What do you already have in place that you can do a better job of leveraging?

For most lawyers, the first item on that list is their network – their relationships. Your network of current clients, past clients, colleagues, supportive family and friends, and others is a valuable asset that holds the potential for significant growth.

But when you talk to most marketing companies – especially internet marketers – you won’t hear a word about leveraging relationships. Instead the focus is on “cold” lead generation – often through SEO or Pay-Per-Click advertising.

And don’t get me wrong, there can be a time and place for that type of advertising. But it doesn’t make sense to spend thousands of dollars on a new, speculative campaign when you have existing resources at your disposal that aren’t being leveraged to the fullest.

Start with the low-hanging fruit. Start by maximizing your existing network to drive referrals and repeat business. 

Referred clients are almost always superior to new clients from other sources for several reasons. So it just makes sense to focus your marketing on referrals first. Here are five reasons why this is the case:

1 – Low Cost of Acquisition. Referrals are far less expensive to generate than any other type of client. There’s often no direct cost, and even when you factor in referral-generating tools such as an email newsletter and social media marketing, the cost-per-client for referrals is typically much less than a client generated through other forms of advertising. This is true in my business, at Spotlight Branding, and if you’d like me to share some of our internal marketing data illustrating this, just shoot me an email. Daniel@SpotlightBranding.com.

2 – Instant Trust. One of the hardest tasks for every business is persuading the client or customer to take the leap of faith – pull out their wallet, sign on the dotted line, and move forward. It’s particularly difficult in the legal field because the stakes are higher and the dollar amounts are significant. Building your practice through referrals helps you to circumvent this – because when a trusted friend or colleague makes a referral to you, their trust and credibility is transferred to you. You don’t have to start from scratch because someone has already vouched for you! This shows up in higher conversion rates. I was talking to a lawyer here in Charlotte last month and he told me that his conversion rate for referrals is approximately 70% – compared to about 25% for all other sources of business.

3 – Avoid “Sticker Shock.” There’s nothing more frustrating than having a great conversation with a prospective client, feeling like you’re aligned and that there’s great chemistry, only to have them freak out when they find out how much your services are going to cost. Referred clients generally know what to expect with regard to your rates, and they typically won’t reach out to you if they can’t afford you.

4 – Mutual Respect. We’ve all dealt with nightmare clients. Clients who abuse our time and abuse our staff. Or who simply have unrealistic expectations and become frustrated when the engagement doesn’t play out the way they expected it to. A client who is referred to you is less likely to go in this direction. There’s a preexisting relationship because of the mutual relationship you have with the individual who made the referral. If you look back at it, I bet you’ll find that most of the time, referred clients are easier to work with than clients who came to you through other sources.

5 –  More Likely to Refer in the Future. Finally, clients who have been referred to you are statistically more likely to make referrals in the future, creating the possibility for an endless chain of referrals. There have been a variety of studies on this topic, but the best breakdown I’ve seen comes from this book. I highly recommend that you check it out.

I could keep going, but hopefully you see the point. Referrals are the low-hanging fruit when it comes to your law firm marketing. Focus on maximizing your referrals before you spend money on speculative marketing and advertising to the outside world.

If you want some practical ideas, click here for free access to our infographic entitled “Four Ways to Generate More Referrals.

Chances are this is how you’re networking, collecting business cards that will remain in your pocket until you wear that jacket again. Instead, you could be building relationships that really matter?

Let me ask you. Do you look at an event on your calendar and think… I would give my right arm to just go home rather than this event? I hate smiling and acting as though I’m interested in what anyone is saying. Actually I don’t even like those people. Then you snap out of it. You grab a cup of coffee that gives you a little jolt and vow… I’m going and I will be the most charming person in the room!

Tell me which YOU really shows up at that event? Chances are its someone in between. And I guarantee you that whomever you meet recognizes the insincerity, forced smile and faked interest. I’m telling you now, instead go home because the event will be a big waste of time… yours and everyone you meet.

There is a better way.

Instead go home and think about what you really want in your practice. Who is your ideal client? Where do they go? What is important to them? How could you help them? What circles would you like to be a part of? NOW… how can you act on the answers to these questions? This process is strategic and it’s the foundation to building relationships that matter.

How can you build trust with these new people? There is one question that Inc. Magazine writer John Hall asserts will be a game changer.

How can I be helpful to you?

Yes, it’s a simple question that could change the trajectory of your practice and your life. Hall points out:

  • It allows you to help others better.
  • It cuts through any potential awkwardness of a new relationship.
  • It enables you to be proactive.

Try it! You will be building relationships that matter, and that IS a game changer!

Over the past seven years at Spotlight Branding, we’ve worked with hundreds of lawyers across the country. In that time we’ve had literally thousands of conversations with attorneys. And one of the things that jumps out at me, looking back on those conversations, is how often marketing decisions are driven by tools instead of strategy.

Quite frankly, I don’t blame lawyers for getting this backward – it’s our fault, collectively, in the marketing world. So often, marketers talk exclusively about tools with no regard whatsoever to building a cohesive marketing strategy. 

Here are some examples of a tools-oriented conversation:

  • How can I show up higher on Google?
  • How can I reach more people on Facebook?
  • How can I generate more leads from my website?
  • How can I use Instagram in my marketing?

These aren’t bad questions. But they are secondary questions, and too often lawyers and marketers treat them as the primary questions. And as a result, they end up with a disjointed and ineffective marketing strategy.

There are an endless amount of tools that you can leverage in your marketing, and they’re changing every day. Google, Facebook, email marketing, video, direct mail, billboards, radio, TV, third-party apps, PPC ads, and the list goes on. But if you don’t have a defined strategy to serve as a filter and a guide, to create context for these tools, they end up driving you rather than the other way around. 

If you asked me “how can I show up higher on Google?,” I’d ask you WHY you want to show up on Google.

To get more clients? OK – well what if I told you that there are easier, cheaper, and more predictable ways to get more clients? For example, the average lawyer is only capturing about one-third of the referrals that they could be getting from their existing network. Figuring out how to maximize your referrals is a whole lot cheaper and more predictable than fighting for top position on Google! That’s the low-hanging fruit, and that’s where every lawyer should start.

Rather than worrying about Facebook or Instagram reach, first have the conversation about how you want to use social media in general. Are you using it to build your brand, to generate new “cold” leads, to stay in touch with your referral network? There’s no “right” answer, but what matters is that you’ve defined your objectives.

So rather than focusing on the tools that are available to you, or more accurately, the tools that are being sold to you… here are the types of questions you should be considering:

  • Who is your ideal client?
  • Where does your ideal client spend time? What media sources do they consume? What types of events do they go to?
  • What’s your brand – what do you stand for?
  • What makes you different than the competitors in your market?
  • Who are your best referral sources and how can you stay top-of-mind with them?
  • How many new clients/cases/matters do you need to win each month to meet your financial goals?
  • What is your maximum acceptable Cost of Acquisition – aka how much can you afford to spend to win a new client?
  • How are you going to generate leads?
  • How are you going to build your brand?
  • How are you going to stay in touch with prospective clients who haven’t hired you yet?
  • How can you maximize referrals and repeat business?

Do you see the difference?

Once you’ve answered the big-picture strategic questions, you can talk about the tools in a much more strategic and cohesive way.

Strategy drives tools… the tools exist to serve and execute the strategy. Don’t get it backward! 

Want more tips & inspiration for your law firm marketing? Click here for instant access to our Special Report entitled “How Your Internet Foundation Will Make or Break Your Marketing”!