From the Archives

Your marketing strategy is the key to growing your law firm. If your marketing strategy is stale (or non-existent) you’re not going to fuel the growth you’re hoping for. On the other hand, an effective marketing strategy will help you bring in new clients, generate more referrals, and even help you justify higher rates. In this report, I suggest some possible “new additions” to help you take your law firm marketing to the next level.

How can you attract the clients and the work that you legitimately enjoy – and free yourself from the economic pressure to take any matter that shows up at your door?

Here are ten ideas to get your wheels turning. Don’t try to implement all of these at once – I recommend focusing on just one or two initiatives at a time. Which ideas resonate with you and make sense for your firm?

1) Launch a podcast. Podcasting has exploded as a media source – iTunes reports over one billion subscriptions, and hundreds of millions of plays per month. Launching a podcast geared towards your target market is an effective strategy that you can use to educate potential clients, keep them engaged, and build your credibility at the same time. The key is to come up with a theme and a direction that provides genuinely valuable information to your market. As a business attorney, you could focus your podcast on legal pitfalls that entrepreneurs should be aware of. A family attorney could focus on preparing for and navigating the divorce process, including how to protect and care for the children involved. The possibilities are endless. What are the most common questions and misunderstandings that your clients have? Chances are, addressing those issues would make a great podcast.

2) Host events. Creating and hosting in-person events for potential clients and referral sources can generate momentum and enthusiasm for your practice. We’ve seen clients take this strategy in many different directions – from hosting monthly informational sessions for individuals contemplating divorce, to holding quarterly VIP parties for top referral sources, to organizing seminars featuring expert speakers on topics of interest to business owners. Get creative and find an angle to host in-person events and build a community around your law firm.

3) Sharpen your referral strategy. Referrals are a primary source of new business for most law firms, and clients who are referred to you are typically among the most pleasant and profitable to work with. Are you doing everything can to maximize these referrals? Start by identifying your top referral sources and invest time and energy into deepening those relationships. Identify other individuals who are strategically positioned to send a high volume of work your way and create relationships with them as well. The potential payoff makes it worth your personal investment in this relatively short list of individuals. But, don’t neglect your current clients, your past clients, and your larger network. Ensure that you’re creating top-of-mind awareness and continually educating them on what a good referral looks like. Consider creating referral incentives or even holding regular referral competitions to keep your entire network engaged.

4) Targeted sponsorships. Sponsorships can be a big waste of money if you take the wrong approach. Do NOT jump on every opportunity that comes your way. I’ve seen firms spend large sums of money sponsoring organizations, events, or publications that have little-to-no relevance to their target market. On the other hand, if you can identify groups, events, websites, or magazines that your clients are engaged with, sponsorship can make a great deal of sense. The best approach is generally to identify a small number of organizations or publications to sponsor and to engage with them as deeply as possible. Sponsor their events and ask for speaking opportunities or other visibility. Sponsor newsletters and ask if you can also contribute content. Do your best to create repeated touch-points for members or subscribers – repetition and consistency is key.

5) Offer an audit or check-in to past and current clients. Oftentimes there is more work to be done for your past and even current clients. They just don’t know they need it yet, or they don’t know that you can provide the solution. Solve both problems by creating an “audit” or evaluation for your clients. This could be a worksheet they complete on their own, or it may be a sit-down with you or (even better) someone on your team. The goal is simple: ask them questions about their business, their estate plan, their family life, whatever it may be, and help them to see that they need your help in these areas. Be prepared to explain how you can help them address these challenges or take advantage of the opportunities that you have uncovered together. This simple strategy could result in a massive influx of new work.

6)  Publish a book. There’s arguably no greater tool to establish your credibility and your expertise in your area of practice than publishing a book. While it might sound overwhelming, chances are that you have a good amount of content that you have created over the years which could be re-purposed into a book. If you have a marketing person on your team, assign them to organize this content into an outline. Then, create new content as needed to fill holes and create cohesion. There are a variety of companies out there that can help you layout and publish your book, and some of them can even help you with the content as well.

Once you’ve had your book printed, the marketing opportunities are endless. Give it away at consultations. Offer it as a gift to past clients. Use it as a door prize at events. It’s a powerful tool that will enhance your credibility and build your brand as an authority in your practice area in a very big way.

7) Network smarter. Networking is a valuable strategy for drumming up referrals and new business, particularly when you’re in the “more-time-than-money” phase of your firm. But it’s important to manage your investment well. Don’t simply attend every event in your area. Instead, identify a small handful of targeted organizations that have great potential and get heavily involved. Don’t just attend, get involved in leadership. Speak at events. You’ll get a much better return from deep involvement in a few carefully selected organizations than you will from surface-level involvement in a large number of groups.

8) Speak. Speaking positions you as an expert and an authority. It’s a great way to attract new clients. Look for opportunities to speak in front of your target market – whether that’s a networking group, a trade association, a seminar or conference, or whatever the case may be. Look for opportunities to educate your audience while building your expertise at the same time. This can include presentations on changing laws and regulations that impact your industry, tips, and strategies for your market, best practices for avoiding legal disputes, and more. Just be sure that you’re targeting speaking opportunities that make strategic sense for you – opportunities to reach potential clients in a way that enhances your expertise and your position in the marketplace.

9) Launch a joint venture. Who can you partner with and what can you create to reach a new audience? I know a business lawyer that partnered with a banker and a graphic designer to create a “one-stop start-up shop” for entrepreneurs – helping them to address the legal, financial, and marketing needs of their new business all in one place. Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box here – who can you join forces with to provide a uniquely valuable product or service for your clients? The advantages to this approach are significant – it represents an opportunity to earn additional income from your existing clients, but more importantly, it also gives you access to the clients and customers of your partners in this venture. If you’re creative, you may also tap into a whole “new market” by creating a product or service that didn’t exist previously. Many of these people will expand the relationship over time, engaging you beyond the scope of the initial joint venture.

10) Train your staff to recognize and capitalize on opportunities for new business. Finally, get the team involved. Your staff likely knows people that could use your services or will encounter them in their daily life – and they’ve seen firsthand how your firm creates value for your clients. Teach them how to recognize potential clients, how to engage them, and how to connect them with you (or whoever handles the intake process for your firm.) This doesn’t have to be a complicated process and it frankly shouldn’t be hard for your team to execute. They just need to understand who’s a good fit and be able to briefly articulate the value that your firm provides to those clients. You never know who your team knows, so tap into their network as well as your own. You can consider offering some sort of incentive for your team members, if appropriate. Make it a team effort!

We’ve covered a lot of ground here, and hopefully, you’ve gleaned a few ideas that could work for your firm. But it’s important to be realistic about this – don’t bite off more than you can chew. I suggest that you identify one (or two at most) new initiatives to start with. Invest the time to get them up and running and carefully track your results. When you find something that works well, make it a part of your ongoing marketing system and then move on to the next new idea.

 

I bet you read the headline and said—” yah, yah, yah, it sounds like a late-night infomercial.” Well, it’s not an infomercial, it is true you can have a better mood, energy, memory, and focus! Watch Wendy Suzuki’s TED Talk and I’m sure you will find it inspiring. When she describes how she was living her life—it will probably sound familiar. Listen and see if you find some answers.

Your business is nothing without its list. The files upon files of customer data that you have stashed away can give you more insight and direction than most metrics, yet many business leaders know very little about their list — much less how to utilize it.

A great list has a few components. It’s usually more than just an Excel spreadsheet with names, addresses, email addresses, preferences, and phone numbers. But if you don’t even have that, then you need to do some serious updating before you go any further!

Start by scrubbing your list.

Remove any names that are no longer prudent. Then, call the remaining people on the list and verify contact information or ask for additional details. Make this an impossible offer to turn down by providing a reward or something of value to those who opt to share more details with you. As more people offer their information, you have multiple tools to market directly to them. (This will come in handy later.)

Now that you have a brand new, scrubbed, beautiful list, it’s time to break it down. Your list has to be segmented into multiple components to provide a scope of your business’s well-being and pinpoint target areas. Start with three “buckets”:

  • Prospects
  • Customers
  • Bad Leads

From there, you can break the list down even further to include:

  • Canceled customers
  • Hot leads
  • Customers with high spending
  • New sales

As you categorize your list into various buckets, a plan will emerge. Your team can develop campaigns to upsell clients who may need more of the services you can offer while pinpointing those who could be resold on your company. This segmented data is then a powerful tool to help you specifically target your lists rather than casting a wide net and only catching a few leads.

One of the easiest ways to target each group is through relationship marketing. Increase your content production, and keep hitting your customers with your message, using your list’s information to guide you. Start with an email blast, and then pepper in a few postcards. Next, host a Facebook Live event with that very same information and invite a specialty group of people from your list (i.e., your hot leads or loyal customers). Each time you curate a message specifically for a segmented population, you create a message that will land right where they need it the most. But don’t let off the gas. Most readers only remember about 10% of what they consume, so keep communicating!

With a targeted list, you should have no problem finding a new tactic, a new device, or a new platform to get your message out to the people who need to hear it most. It all starts with perfecting — and updating! — your list.

It’s now well into February. Have you lost your enthusiasm for your goals and vision for 2021? Here’s a little inspiration from Shondra Rhimes who is one of the most successful television producers, screenwriters, and authors.

Do you feel luck is not on your side? Think about this!

I am not lucky. You know what I am? I am smart, I am talented, I take advantage of the opportunities that come my way and I work really, really hard. Don’t call me lucky. Call me a badass.” —Shondra Rhimes

Sondra Rhimes did a TED Talk about the courage to say yes to opportunities—we can all learn the power of YES!

I know YOU are smart, YOU are talented, and YOU can take advantage of the opportunities that come your way! Now focus and work really, really hard. YOU are a badass! 2021 will be your best year ever!

You’ve probably heard of the four laws of thermodynamics, and maybe even the four laws of love thanks to the famous Jimmy Evans book. But what about the four laws of content marketing? Does that sound familiar?

If not, you’re in luck! Over the next four months in this newsletter, we’ll be going over each of the four laws and how you can use them to improve the marketing efforts for your law firm.

This month, we’re starting with Law #1: Content is king.

This is the first law because it describes content at its most basic level. The truth is, everyone, engages with your content, whether they’re a referral, a lead, a colleague, or someone you passed your business card to at a networking event. Think of it this way: If your marketing was a spider web, your content would be the sticky center where all the threads join together.

Understanding this is key to leveraging your content successfully to improve your overall marketing efforts. Once you realize that everyone is going to engage with your content in some way, shape, or form (whether it’s by visiting your website, scrolling through your social media pages, or listening to your podcast), you can see the power it has to influence their decisions and start using that power for good. The right content marketing strategy will help you bring in leads, referrals, and ultimately, more revenue.

If you want to leverage the power of your content, it needs to do three things: position you as the expert in your field, educate your audience, and keep your firm top of mind. There are infinite ways to accomplish these goals, but they’re only necessary because Law #1 holds true. Content is king!

At this point, you might be wondering, “Where does SEO fit into this equation? Isn’t that part of the reason why content is king?” Well, you might be surprised by our answers to those questions, which we’ll reveal next month.

Mark and I have been on many programs together over the years. He tells it like he sees it and is always entertaining. This book is no exception. The tagline to Be Happy By Choice is—Happiness guaranteed or your misery back! Now, tell me, who could resist that guarantee? Here are some excerpts from the book.

“Perhaps you’re wondering, What’s with all this happiness crap? Does it really matter if I’m happy? I just want to make a lot of money and be successful, and then I’ll be happy naturally.

A skeptic is “a person inclined to question or doubt accepted opinions.” Synonyms include “cynic,” “doubter,” “questioner,” and “scoffer.” Any of those nouns could be replaced with “Mark.” 

This mindset is a blessing and a curse. It makes things difficult to accept, which helps me thrive as a trial lawyer. By rejecting things that don’t help my client or myself, I am empowered to search further and deeper to uncover the truth—which isn’t always what prosecutors are trying to feed me. I have a gift for creating reasonable doubt even when the evidence against my client seems convincing. These skills are essential when defending a criminal case.

But this attitude doesn’t always serve us well in our personal lives. By questioning and doubting everything, we prevent ourselves from growing. Instead of embracing beneficial principles and beliefs, we reject what we read or hear. Only by thinking matters through and choosing to be open to new thoughts and ideas will you be able to make major shifts.”

Mark goes on to illustrate the benefits of happy employees.

“Statistics from a Harvard Business Review study revealed the value of happiness in the workplace. Happy employees: 

  • Produce 37% greater sales
  • Are 31% more productive
  • Suffer 23% fewer fatigue symptoms
  • Are 300% more creative

For personal and professional reasons, happiness makes a scientifically measurable difference. Happiness makes good common sense and good business sense. The happier my employees are, the more productive they are, which benefits everyone—and the same goes for me.

Pursuing happiness for practical reasons or because it feels better than the alternative is simply a sensible thing to do.

As you consider the principles in this book, engage your critical, skeptical mind—but not to the point where you dismiss useful ideas and practices out-of-hand. The suggested strategies for finding happiness work, whether you believe in them or not. Give the exercises a try. If you’re like me, your inner skeptic may wind up wondering how and why they work when you were so sure they wouldn’t. That’s a good problem to have.”

Here’s how he looks at the definition of Happiness.

“Defining happiness isn’t easy. If you were to ask a hundred people what happiness means, you would get a hundred different definitions.

Webster’s Dictionary defines “happiness” as “the quality or state of being happy.”

Huh? What’s the definition of “happy?”

There’s an answer for that, too. “Happy” means, “delighted, pleased, or glad.”
Other dictionary definitions include, “Good fortune, pleasure, contentment, and joy.”

United States Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart must have felt equal frustration when trying to define “obscenity.” In the 1964 landmark case of Jacobellis v. Ohio, while explaining why certain material was constitutionally protected and not obscene, Stewart wrote, “I know it when I see it.”

That’s as close as you’ll get to defining “happiness”: You know it when you see it. You also know it when you feel it.

Let’s define “happiness” as “the result of choosing thoughts that serve you well.” That’s probably not the definition you were expecting, but it took many years to come to that understanding. When we choose thoughts that serve us well, we feel happy, free, serene, and joyful. When we embrace thoughts that don’t serve us well, we become unhappy, and even miserable or depressed.

You have the choice to either adopt or reject the thoughts your brain sends your way. That choice has a pronounced impact on your physical and emotional well-being. In light of the colossal importance of selecting thoughts wisely, and given how difficult it can be to choose our thoughts instead of allowing them to choose themselves, I offer a formula. The rest of this book is dedicated to that formula.”

Here’s one of his tips with an unforgettable story. 

“…take a deep breath. Now do it again. Breathe through your nose, fill your lungs with air, and then exhale through your mouth. Studies have shown that deep breathing improves your mental and physical health. Deep breathing can reduce stress and buy you time to think of what to do next. Taking a breath when you feel any emotion that doesn’t serve you well will make the difference between a healthy response and an out-of-control reaction.

The Time I Failed to Breathe

My client was facing a life sentence for burglary with assault and armed robbery. She had been a prostitute most of her life and based on her extensive criminal record, she was labeled a “habitual violent offender” by the prosecutors. These charges stemmed from an incident in which she and a friend had allegedly entered her client’s house and held a machete to his throat while her accomplice took his wallet. She could have gotten a life sentence for this.

I was excited and a little nervous about going to trial because we would be before the infamous Judge Ellen “Maximum” Morphonios. Having been featured in stories by 60 Minutes and People Magazine, Judge Morphonios was known for dishing out thousand-year sentences. She was also known for bizarre behavior. After sentencing a rapist to a life sentence, she reportedly stood up, lifted her robe to reveal her shapely legs, and remarked, “That’s the last time in your life that you’re going to see a pair of legs like this.”

It was evident that the judge had taken a liking to the victim, who was in his late 90s.

Testifying through a Spanish interpreter, the victim revealed that he had been paying for sexual services from my client, three times a week for several years. They had engaged, he said, in both oral and regular sex. Judge Morphonios appeared astonished and envious.

Her eyes popping in disbelief, she interrupted the prosecutor’s questioning and, in her booming southern accent, asked the victim, “Sir, what do you eat for breakfast?”

“Cuban toast,” he answered.

“Well, then I got to get me some Cuban toast,” she said.

The victim testified that his last encounter with my client had been very different. After he had opened the door to his home, the defendant and her female friend had forcibly pushed their way inside, he claimed. According to him, my client had grabbed the victim’s machete and held it to his neck while the co-defendant removed the victim’s wallet, which contained only a few dollars.

During the victim’s testimony, the veteran prosecutor ran into a problem. When she asked the elderly victim how he had felt with a machete at his throat, he gave only a one-word response. In Spanish, it sounded like “ee-mah-hee-neh,” which was translated as, “imagine.” Realizing that this response would be insufficient to establish on the record that he had been in a state of fear, she persisted. “Sir, were you scared when the defendant held the machete at your throat?” With passion, the victim repeated his original response: “Ee-mah-hee-neh.”

Despite my strenuous objections to staying focused on one question for so long, the judge continued to allow the prosecutor to try leading the witness into saying he was scared. Finally, the impatient judge intervened; she not only put up with the prosecutor’s insistence, she contributed to it!

“Let me give this a try,” she told the prosecutor. I was caught in a game of “tag-team prosecution.” The judge turned to the victim and said, “Sir, you must have been petrified when she put the machete to your throat.”

I vehemently objected to putting words in the victim’s mouth. I was outraged. The judge had forgotten her oath of impartiality and had joined forces with the prosecutor to help her case. The only person in the room whom the jurors trusted had assumed the role of prosecutor. What a gut punch! Of all the things I had foreseen happening in this case, I had never envisioned this.

The judge refused to stop. “Sir, when she put that machete to your throat, you must have had the fear of God in you.”

All she could elicit was an increasingly vehement “Ee-mah- hee-neh.”

I was livid.

The judge kept overruling my numerous objections concerning her improper conduct. Feeling out of control, I felt a tightness in my chest. I needed to breathe but didn’t. I was losing it. What the judge was doing was incredibly improper, something I had never seen a judge do before. Emotional, I chose to react in the moment. I forgot about the many spiritual tools I had at my disposal. What I needed to help me deal with this judge gone wild was a big deep breath. Had I simply taken that deep breath, I would have realized that the judge’s behavior was so out of line that the appellate court would surely reverse any ruling against my client. I let my thoughts and emotions blind me.

The judge gave up on the witness and turned to the jury: “I’m making a finding that any reasonable person, upon having a machete at their throat, would be afraid.” This was the most egregious breach of judicial conduct I have ever witnessed. I lost it.

Because I had failed to take a deep breath, the scene tumbled downhill. We went back and forth. I told her that such partiality from a judge was unacceptable. She told me to back down.

The way she responded to my over-the-top objections showed the jurors that the judge was against me. As a trial lawyer, that’s the last thing you want to see happen. Letting my emotions run rampant, likely hindered my ability to win the case.

Fortunately, the Third District Court of Appeal threw out my client’s conviction and remanded the case for retrial. “The judge’s comments unduly prejudiced the jury against the defendant,” the appellate court said. As time dragged on, the case against my client grew weaker; the victim became older, sicker, and less mentally coherent. As a result, the prosecutor offered my client a plea bargain of six years in prison with full credit for time already served. A short time later, she was out courtesy of the eccentric judge.

When stressful moments happen, take a deep breath. Tell yourself, “This will all work out.” Go a step further and envision an outcome that is even better than you could rationally hope for. It all starts with one deep breath.”

Abraham Lincoln once said, “We are as happy as we make up our minds to be.” What was true over 130 years ago still rings true.
I recommend that you order a copy of this inspiring and entertaining approach to Be Happy By Choice! Make 2021 the year YOU choose happiness.

To create a relevant piece of content for your readers, you only need one thing: a single, solid piece of good advice. In the past, we’ve discussed multiple ways of outlining blog posts, videos, podcasts, and social media posts in this newsletter, but this “one-tip method” is hands-down the most streamlined approach there is.

To come up with your piece of advice (aka your one tip) and turn it into a blog post, you need to follow three simple steps.

1. Ask yourself, “What does my audience want?”

The options here are endless! If you’re a business lawyer, for example, your readers probably want to make more money, keep their partnerships cooperative, and avoid being sued. Pick just one of these things, and move on to step two.

2. Identify one thing your audience should do or should avoid doing in order to achieve their goal.

As a business lawyer, if you chose “avoid being sued” for step one, your “one thing” for this step might be creating air-tight contracts, knowing a particular law, or even hiring a good lawyer. Again, pick just one of these things and move on.

3. Combine steps 1 and 2, and explain your tip!

When you add your answers from step one and step two together, you have a topic. For the business lawyer, that might be “How Airtight Contracts Help You Avoid Lawsuits.” From there, you just have to explain the “how.” Because this is your area of expertise, it should be easy! Don’t overthink it — just start typing, or press the record button. You’ll be surprised how quickly you can type out 400 words or speak for four minutes on such a simple topic.

That’s it! In only three steps, and using just one solid piece of advice, you’ve created content that will educate your audience, position you as the expert in your field, and keep your firm’s name top of mind. This is the trifecta you should always aim for in your marketing.

This article originally appeared in Forbes.com.

Perfectionism can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, perfectionism means that you have high standards and expect the best from those around you. On the other hand, perfectionism can be paralyzing.

In my coaching practice, I have the privilege of advising many high-performing lawyers. They are great lawyers, at least in part, because they are perfectionists. But as I help them see, it can also keep them from making progress if they aren’t careful.

Many people — lawyers, business owners, professionals — have big dreams for their lives. But they struggle to act on those dreams. They keep shoving them back in the desk drawer because their plans aren’t “perfect” yet.

Let me tell you: Perfect doesn’t exist! There is always something that you can improve. If you wait until your big idea is perfect before you take action, you’ll never get started.

I know that you have big dreams. And I want 2021 to be the year that you make big progress chasing those dreams. Here are four tips to help you do it:

1. Don’t let a “fear of failure” control you.

Many of us were raised to fear failure. When we made a mistake in school, we got a big, fat “X” in red ink on our paper. Maybe our peers made fun of us for a wrong answer. At work, our bosses would chew us out if we did something wrong. But you can’t let the fear of somebody else’s judgment hold you back. It’s your life, and you’re the only person who gets to live it. Tell the naysayers to take a hike!

2. Remember, it’s about progress, not perfection.

If you wait for everything to be perfect before you make your next move, you’ll be waiting for your entire life. Nothing is ever perfect, and so instead, focus on making progress toward your goals. It’s much better to take imperfect action than to do nothing.

3. Learn to see failure as an opportunity.

Thomas Edison is one of the greatest inventors the world has ever known. And do you know what he reportedly said about failure?

“I have not failed. I have found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

That’s the right attitude! A “failure” just means that you need to make a change. That you need a different strategy or a different plan of action. Failure takes you one step closer to your ultimate goal because when you fail, you have the opportunity to learn from your mistake and come back stronger the next time. Don’t fear failure. Embrace it.

4. Connect to your passions and have fun.

I have found that people are most concerned about making a mistake when trying to conform to someone else’s standards, whether that’s their boss, their business partner, their spouse, a colleague, a client, or whoever it may be. On the other hand, when we connect to our own authentic passions and find joy in life, all of a sudden, we’re not so scared to make a mistake. Be yourself! Chase your dreams, not the dreams that the rest of the world tells you to pursue.

This year, I want you to choose progress over perfection. Chase your dreams and take imperfect action to get you closer to achieving your goals. Let’s make it happen!

 

Here at Spotlight Branding, we use the phrase “right person, right seat” when talking about hiring. That means getting the perfect person in the company’s correct role, whether it’s sales, billing, or HR. Whenever we hire, we ask ourselves, “Does this person have the right skill set? Are they a good fit for our company? Do they mesh well with our culture?”

That last question is the toughest to answer for most law firms, but it’s arguably the most important. The issue is that many entrepreneurs don’t take the time to define their company culture. Maybe you’re one of them. You have a vague idea of what you want your culture to look like, and you know what’s important to you, but nothing is set in stone or written down. This makes hiring harder because you’re going into the process without a measuring stick. Once you know your culture inside and out, you can check potential hires against it and avoid costly hiring mistakes — which is where core values come in.

As a law firm, if you claim that one of your core values is “Honesty” — well, it had better be!

Core values are phrases that capture what your company is all about and usually describe traits you’d like every employee to have or actions you’d like them to take. Our company philosophy is that core values shouldn’t be obvious. As a law firm, if you claim that one of your core values is “Honesty,” — well, it had better be! You’re not going to impress anyone or weed out any candidates with such a basic claim. Instead, drill deeper to find a phrase that’s more specific and unique to your firm. Ask yourself, “How exactly do we embody honesty well?” With this method, one of our clients turned the word “compassion” into the value “Walk a Day in Their Shoes.”

Most great core values combine a verb and an adjective, describing both a behavior and an attitude. For example, one of our company’s core values is “Win Together,” and another is “Communicate With Intention.” To put your core values to the test, use these two questions.

Q: What do we do? A: [core value verb]

Q: How do we do it? A: [core value adjective]

Then, combine your verb and your adjective to create your core values! Aim for four or five. Wordsmith your phrases, have fun with them, and make them sound powerful. When you’re finished, these phrases will guide you through the hiring process

Anyone that has followed me over the past 15 years knows that I am a firm believer in the power of writing a book for business development purposes. In my view, it is a big audacious business card—period! If written as a business development tool—it lets prospective clients inside your world and how you think. It is a strong credibility builder since “you wrote the book on the subject.” Over the past 15 years, I have written 6 books, which have lead to millions of dollars in revenue. But NOT in book sales. Yes, I have been an Amazon bestseller, and that revenue is incidental compared to the substantive consulting and coaching revenue. It is truly a business development tool.

I would recommend that you start by figuring out what area of your practice you want to promote and/or own in your geographic area.

Here is what this book should not be: a scholarly book on your practice area, a how-to for your competitors, or a vanity project about you and your firm.

Here is a conversation I had with fellow author John Hinson, Marketing Manager at Spotlight Branding, to pull it all together. Between the two of us, we have nearly two dozen books under our belt.

1. As you know, I’m an advocate of using books as a business development strategy; what is your position?

Hinson: Having a book as a business development tool is arguably the biggest credibility piece you can have in your office. There’s something about how we’ve been conditioned over the years to see a book and at least appreciate a lot of perceived hard work that went into writing it, even if we don’t actually pick it up and read it.

A book also demonstrates authority. There’s a reason the cliche “he/she wrote the book on ____” exists. If you’re one of several business attorneys in town with a book on business law, you’re more likely to be seen as the expert on business law, even if you’ve only been practicing for a few years compared to the others.

2. How would you advise a lawyer to pick a topic to write about?

Hinson: This might be the hardest part of the entire process, whether you have 22 different things you want to write about or you can’t think of anything at all. The key, however, is straightforward: Write what you know and are passionate about. For example, if you’re an estate planning attorney and you’re particularly passionate about special needs trusts, your book can center on special needs and how to properly protect those loved ones.

You can also take a shortcut. If you’ve had a solid marketing strategy in place for a couple of years, you can convert your blog articles into an anthology and simply write in a few transitions to make everything flow together.

3. As you and I know, taking the next steps after you have committed to a book as an element of your strategy—the blank page gets pretty intimidating. What would you recommend the first few steps they should take to get started?

Hinson: Between the book I curated for Spotlight Branding and my own personal projects, I have published 16 books in seven years. I don’t say that to brag, but to tell you that it isn’t as difficult as you may think. Here is my method for getting started.

1) Pick the topic as we discussed. 2) Build your outline: craft the rough outline of your book so that you have something to guide your thoughts as you write. 3) Flesh out the outline: Once you have your framework, start filling the space in between. You can do this in multiple steps, too. Either write it all out at once or get your main points/thoughts out and then go back and fill in any gaps.

4. How do you approach proofing and editing?

Hinson: Once I have my rough draft, I usually go through a three-step editing/proofing process.

1) I read through my document once to make sure everything flows together like I want. 2) I read through it again as I go back through and format the book to adhere to the publisher’s standards. 3) I read it aloud once I get the proof copy from the publisher to make sure everything looks and sounds like I want it to.

5. What do you think the biggest obstacle is to writing a business development book?

Hinson: Outside of picking a title, your ability to say you have a finished product is the hardest part. Most lawyers are perfectionists, and after reading over your book multiple times, you may be tempted to do wholesale rewrites or scrap the project entirely. DON’T! People – even your attorney peers – aren’t going to judge your work as harshly as you do.

Trust in your own intellect and ability, get it “good enough,” and move on to publishing.

That is so true, John! You hit at the heart of the inability to use this productive method of business development. I would point out that print on demand makes it so easy to update a book and makes your recommendation so doable… get it GOOD ENOUGH. And remember who you are speaking to, your potential clients. Write it in the language they understand. It’s not for Law Review.

6. In the early days of my book strategy, I paid to print thousands of copies, stored them in my office, and shipped them when we received orders. I would NEVER recommend anyone use that method today! On-demand printing makes it so easy to self publish. What has your experience been navigating the process of self-publishing?

Hinson: I personally use Lulu for publishing my books. Paula, I know you and several others have had great success using Amazon’s on-demand self-publishing platform.  With both these services, you can simply list your book for sale online, print as many copies for yourself as you’d like, and that’s it!

If you’re not technologically savvy, the actual publishing process might be a little difficult, but just take your time, do a little Googling for any steps you don’t understand, and you should be fine.

7. I agree with you, John; it is simple. But to be honest, I have a graphic designer that does the layout and uploads the book on Amazon. It’s a reasonable expense to incur that allows me time to create a book’s marketing strategy.  Speaking of marketing—How do you recommend using the book to develop business—marketing?

Hinson: Once you have your finished book, it should become a big lead magnet on your website. Have your webmaster put the book cover on your home page and build a form where people can request a copy. You can choose to give it away for free (physical or digital copies) or make it available for purchase – but whatever you do, make sure it’s prominently displayed on your website and in your office.

I agree with you, John, and I would add that you give them to your clients and referral sources. Use them to get speaking gigs and give them away at your events. I would remind you that the cost associated with the book should be put into your marketing budget. Contrary to common thinking, a book like this is not passive income—it is a BIG AUDACIOUS business card! 

If you would like help to strategize or produce your business development book shoot me an email, paula@paulablack.com