The Fine Line Between Discipline And Disinterest
Most of us never worry about sticking with something for too long. It’s not behavior that is positively reinforced when we are young.
Think about it. When was the last time you heard a parent say to a kid:
“You need to cut back on the vegetables and water. Your eyesight is too good and your energy level is too high.”
“It’s time for you to stop exercising so much. We have a perfectly good couch going to waste. Sit down and play some video games. ”
“Stop reading so many books. I’m sick of you answering all the questions on Jeopardy.”
Although I’m joking about kids and zealously reinforcing positive behavior, there is, in general, a lack of focus on discipline and persistence.
Typically, we develop these traits as a reaction to negative consequences in our life.
Maybe we were the kid who was told he was too short to be a basketball star and we spent hours perfecting free throws. Maybe we were the youngster who lost in the spelling bee and studied night and day to make sure we have a brain that autocorrects sentences before they emerge from people’s mouths. Maybe we were the child of working class parents who vows to work three jobs to never live in poverty as an adult.
Persistence and discipline originate within us in response to external factors, but most often we develop these habits as a result of responding to pain.
If our parents forced us to do something over and over again, we would become proficient but, unless we internalized the desire, never exceptional. Remember your piano or dance lessons?
This is the reason we see so few people enjoying sustained success. It is the reason attorneys marketing their services flit from one “flavor of the month” strategy to another. There is so little focus on discipline and consistency that attorneys try a marketing strategy for a few days and then give up because they don’t have the innate drive to see things through to fruition.
I’ve written several times that everything works for attorneys marketing their services. But there’s a caveat that goes along with that statement. Everything works as long as you stick with it.
If something works for an attorney in your practice area, in your city, there’s a good chance it will work for you if: 1). You know what you are doing and 2). You stick with it long enough to make it work.
We all want to take a pill, go to sleep and wake up rich, smart, and thin.
That pill doesn’t exist.
But the pain of being broke, ignorant and fat is not strong enough to motivate us to find a solution.
The only way to snap out of this malaise is through a shock to the system. Just like when we were kids, the shock must be external and emotionally motivating.
The good news: You can find your own external “shock” every day.
Your car just died? Find that new client to increase your monthly income so you can afford a new Mercedes.
Your wife wants a new house? Well, maybe it’s time you began sending out those direct mail letters to get some recurring business in the door.
Your kids are getting ready to go to college? Looks like it’s time to start speaking to groups again in order to find a few new clients.
These are not dramatic events. But you must recognize their impact in order to use them to motivate you.
Forget the magic pill. Instead find a marketing strategy that fits your market and aligns with your personality, work really hard at it, go to sleep, and wake up and do it again, at least 10,000 more times.
That’s what it takes.
Day after day you are forced to address law firm marketing by walking the fine line between discipline and disinterest. It’s actually a high wire act. You are 50 feet above the ground, balancing on this thin line, with a stiff breeze in your face. Each day you can make the choice not to step off the ledge onto the think line.
How Do I Get Clients As A Lawyer? Play Hard to Get
If you are good at what you do, to your clients, you are a trusted advisor. When people get in trouble or they are facing a tough decision, you give them guidance based upon what is in their best interest.
You have an external orientation. You offer guidance designed to improve the client’s condition. The clients find that guidance valuable. They believe the relationship they have with you is priceless.
The client also feels as though he is your only client. This is not because you answer the telephone on the first ring. It’s not because you run to his office when he can’t find a paper clip. It’s because you have immersed yourself in his business and you think like his clients think. You think like his employees think. You think like his competitors think. Your advice originates from this perspective. Your client believes you spend every one of your waking hours thinking about him and his business.
You have dozens, maybe hundreds of clients. Each of them feels this way about you. They cherish the golden nuggets of advice you deliver and they never, ever, hear about you working with one of their peers.
How important is this?
If you want to command high fees, it is critical.
Focusing on a handful of clients with complex issues will strengthen your ability to demonstrate your value.
But most people don’t do this.
They run out and sign up every client they can. They attend every networking event they can. They take every meeting, even those that only serve to waste their time.
In fact, most people are overexposed.
Go to a chamber of commerce event. Then go to a PTA meeting. Then go to a social event at your house of worship. You will see all the same people. And they see you. They can approach you and ask you any question. And they do, often.
Now if you have a practice with a national (or international) clientele, there is no harm is being active in the local community.
But if you draw your clients from the small pool of people within your city or state, being readily accessible will not help you.
The older I get the more I realize some of the most valuable life lessons I’ve learned came from high school.
Reminisce with me for a moment.
Remember that special someone you had a crush on?
She was just perfect. And you knew that if she was your girlfriend your life would be fantastic. In addition to the obvious benefits of dating the beautiful, smart, popular girl, you would also have the admiration of your friends.
But you were never able to date that girl. She was always just out of reach. She knew you wanted to be with her and she made it difficult for that to happen.
What did this do?
It made you want her even more because you couldn’t have her.
The same phenomenon takes place in business. If people see you everywhere nobody will want to pay to work with you.
This is controversial advice but it works.
Try it. Give yourself a break from personal exposure for 90 days. See what happens.
Note: You should ramp up your other marketing initiatives while you reduce your personal exposure. You are not trying to make people forget about you. You want them to really value spending time with you.
Speaking of increasing your marketing…
Below is a player (and a link) that features a podcast with a step-by-step guide to marketing a law firm. This is one of the most popular podcasts I have recorded. Enjoy it, but more importantly, put it into action.
Want to know how to get clients as a lawyer? Listen and take action now.
Don’t Be a Punk – Even On Line
If you’ve spent any time with bureaucrats, you know there are people out there who exist simply to exert some form of perceived authority over others.
When I worked with condominium associations, the managers were notoriously rigid when they wanted to assert some dominance to prove a point.
I joined a private club in New York City and ran into the same thing. The “rules” existed for some people yet others got away with running around naked (literally).
When I moved to a new city, I joined a local chamber of commerce and found that age was no barrier to punkish behavior – in fact, the older you are, the more unfulfilled your ambition, the bigger the punk you become.
Today I experienced the same insecurity on line.
I guess it makes sense.
A lawyer with low self-esteem, taking orders from more successful men all day long, sets up a community in a cyber-world where he can be the alpha.
Here’s the story:
Each day I post a link on Google+ to the articles I upload here (at RainmakerLawyer). I then “ping” various communities of lawyers with links to this information.
This stuff is free and I never, ever sell anything. My body of work is all the sales pitch I need.
So today, after I post a link to my article in one of the G+ communities, the moderator posts a comment below it telling me I post too often in that community. He chided me not to do it again.
Forgetting for a moment that the purpose of Google+ is to share interesting and valuable content, couldn’t he just ignore anything he didn’t want to read? Why did he want to deprive the other members of this community of my information?
I’m not sure why he made that decision but I noticed he chided other members of the community for other things – publicly.
The conclusion I ultimately drew from this guy’s behavior…he’s a punk.
Plain and simple.
Join me at Google+ and add me to a circle. This way you get all my information and no punk can take away your right to read (and ignore) what you feel is appropriate.
The Secret to Success With Marketing For Lawyers
The title of this article is a bit misleading.
There is no one secret to success with marketing for lawyers. The truth is there are lots of things that must go right in order for you to build a successful law firm that allows you to make a great living and live a great life®.
But if you pressed me, I could give you one specific quality that all successful lawyers possess, especially those who are successful with marketing.
That quality is relentlessness.
If you want to be successful you have to be relentless.
You can’t do things right once. You must do them correctly over and over again. You can’t try a marketing strategy one time and abandon it if it doesn’t work. If you execute the right marketing strategy, using the right message, at the right time, it will work eventually.
Just keep at it.
Need an example?
Here it is directly from my own business. Every attorney I meet goes into my database. Once each week I write an email and send it to everyone on that list. It is an educational email designed to develop and deepen a relationship with each individual reader.
I’ve done this every week for the past four years.
For the first six months, I toiled away, writing email, week in and week out. And nothing happened. Then, one week, my email resonated with an attorney and he hired me. And then a few weeks later, it happened again. And the next month the same thing and the month after that, and so on.
The strategy was correct. It just took time.
This is a small example of how relentlessness can make a difference.
When it comes to marketing for lawyers, having the right strategy is just the first part. You must apply that strategy relentlessly. If you do, your law firm might just enable the life you deserve.
Five Reasons to Include a Blog in Your Law Firm Marketing Plan
People always want my opinion on their website. They are looking for me to comment on the colors, the graphics, the layout and many of the other aesthetic features. In reality these aspects of a web site are less important than the content.
One of the best ways to be certain your website always has fresh, relevant content is to include a blog on your website (and as part of your overall legal marketing plan).
Here are the five most compelling reasons to include a blog on your legal marketing website plan.
- A blog is an ongoing conversation with your clients and prospective clients. Relationships begin with conversations. A blog that is updated regularly is a terrific way to begin a conversation with new prospective clients. People will subscribe to your blog updates via RSS and they will be alerted when you post some new information.
- Blogs are excellent educational tools. Your clients want to know if you can help them and how you can help them. Using your blog as a tool to educate them will not only help position you as an expert, it will help your prospective clients get up to speed on the issue they are facing.
- Blogs encourage frequent interaction. If you keep the content on your blog fresh (updated several times per week) people will visit your website more frequently.
- A blog is your own media outlet. You can broadcast any message you’d like on your bog. This can be helpful as your readership grows.
- Search engines love blogs. Fresh content is the name of the game when it comes to search engine optimization. If you want to boost traffic to your website you should start blogging with content relevant to your practice area.
There are many more reasons to make blogging an important part of your law firm marketing plan. This article is just a teaser to get you started.
The Skinny Cook, The Imperfect Priest and Me
We all love to count other people’s money.
It’s a pastime that has become an obsession.
I hear it all day long.
“How much do you think that guy makes?”
“Do you see the car he drives?”
“Wow. Look at those shoes. She must be doing well.”
People have the expectation that expensive accoutrements mean high net worth.
In most instances, this is not the case. If you have any doubt, check out the work of Dr. Thomas Stanley. His research proves that affluent people become affluent because of how they save and not because of what they make. In short, high income does not equal high net worth.
Is a Bad Client Your Problem? You Bet
A client walks into your office and he expects you to do a song and dance and convince him that he should hire you.
He wants the free consultation and he wants to ask you a few questions about his brother-in-laws’ (unrelated) legal situation.
But as soon as you start to discuss his matter with him, he launches into a know-it-all diatribe about why the approach you are suggesting will never work. Never mind that he is an engineer and not a lawyer. Forget the fact that he got himself into this mess with his genius level decision-making ability.
Now this lunatic is sitting across from you, wasting your time, and robbing the office of the air you should be breathing. And all you can think about is how much you WOULD PAY to make this guy go away.
But then, when he gets out his checkbook, you eagerly take his money (after he negotiates a 15% fee reduction).
Then you call me up and complain that all of your clients suck and that the economy is in the crapper.
I’ve got news for you:
It is your problem.
You are creating this mess for yourself by doing what you have always done. (Remember: The definition of insanity is doing the same thing day-after-day and expecting different results).
If you are unhappy with the clients in your practice and you are ready to do something about it, you can start with these three simple rules for client selection:
1). Always make sure the client has a good understanding of the value you provide. One of the best ways to do this is to have him pay a fee to meet with you. People value what they pay for. If you give away your services, even at the point of the initial consultation, you are conditioning your clients NOT to value you.
2). Dictate (don’t negotiate) the terms of the relationship. You are the expert in the law. If the client does not see that at the beginning of your relationship, he will never see it. You should not have to convince him that you are an expert. That should have been done before he even walked into your office.
3). If you get a bad feeling, walk away. There is nothing worse than working with a client you cannot stand. No matter how much he pays, a jerk is always a jerk. Have some integrity. Turn away clients who you do not feel comfortable representing.
Now you may not like this guidance and my language may be a bit harsh for you…but reading this and implementing it now is far better than the alternative.
Just say “NO” to bad clients.
If you accept them it’s going to be your problem.
Inside The Mind of The Client
What are your clients thinking before they make a decision to hire a lawyer?
If you knew the answer to that question you would be able to influence the decision of everyone who inquired about your services.
Well, today is your lucky day. I am going to give you a glimpse into the mind of your client. I am going to help you understand his thought process right before he engages a lawyer.
Before you immediately shut down (I know, your practice is different) I want you to remember that this information is not just based upon my work with a few hundred lawyers and their clients. It is also based upon a decade of study of public opinion and decision science.
People are people. People make important decisions in predictable ways. This information is critical to your success as a lawyer.
There are three conditions that must exist (within the client’s mind) for him to pick up the phone and engage you:
The client must know you.
The client must have the desire and motivation to handle his situation now.
The client must trust you to act on his behalf or advise him.
If these three conditions do not exist, you will not get hired. And this is true for every practice area and true in every attorney/client relationship around the world.
Let’s look at each of these conditions and how they apply to you.
The client must know you.
In the mind of the client, perception is reality. If you write articles on a topic, people will find you when they are doing research. If you speak to groups of people on a topic, people who are interested in that subject will be in the audience. If you appear in the media, some people will see you. If you establish relationships with influential people in the community, they will introduce you to potential clients.
You must be visible.
This means you must do some marketing. If the client doesn’t know you, he cannot hire you.
You can market to one person at a time (networking, face-to-face sales, develop a referral network) or to many people at once (advertising).
There is no other way to become known in the community.
The client must have the desire and motivation to handle this situation now.
Most people have no sense of urgency. It is human nature to ignore a problem or wait until the last minute to handle an issue.
Don’t believe me? Talk to a criminal lawyer who handles DUI cases or talk to a tax lawyer who handles IRS issues.
Your job is to convince them that ignoring their issue will make it worse. Regardless of what the issue is.
People move fast to relieve or avoid pain. Help them feel the pain of procrastination and they will act.
The client must trust you to act on his behalf or advise him.
When it comes to important decisions, people want to work with an expert. People look for evidence to justify the hiring of an expert.
This evidence can be: information on a website, an anecdote told by a happy client, a story in a newspaper, the list goes on and on.
The key is to establish your credibility in the mind of the client.
Notice that there is no discussion of money in these three conditions. You may be wondering why.
People only use money as a determining factor when they have nothing else on which to base their decision.
If a prospective client has a problem you can solve, and he has the desire and motivation to solve it and he believes you are the best lawyer for the job, he will hire you regardless of your fee.
Lawyers who believe the above statement will always make more money than lawyers who don’t.
Guess which ones are my clients…
Be The Person They Can’t Hire
After waiting on hold for 20 minutes I was finally on the phone with the pediatric gastroenterologist. Three visits to our regular pediatrician, two weeks of sleepless nights and several shirts soaked with regurgitated baby formula had me to the point where I was determined to get some answers.
I called in a couple of favors to get this particular doctor on the telephone. Everyone said he was “the best”. My goal was to get my three month old daughter an appointment with him. At this point she had gone from throwing up occasionally (which all babies do) to throwing up every day.
Finally I was on the phone with Doctor Big, the rock star of baby vomit, and I was going to beg him, bribe him or somehow convince him to see my kid.
My phone call with Doctor Big lasted only 3 minutes. I talked for 2 minutes 45 seconds – explaining what was happening, laying out the facts, including dates and times of these disgusting little incidents and specifics about what our baby had eaten. Doctor Big talked for 10 seconds. He said:
“Look, if you’re really concerned, take her to the emergency room. Unfortunately, my schedule is booked for six weeks”.
“Please call my mobile phone if you have a cancellation. We have done our research. We know you are the best and I only want the best for my kid.”
At that point he sighed and said: “Good Night Mr. Lorenzo”.
I called his answering service and left my mobile phone number anyway.
This story is not about my little girl (who is doing better after a change in formula and several more visits to various other doctors). And it’s not about the state of healthcare in the United States.
It is about positioning.
How did Doctor Big get to be THE GUY for kids with stomach issues? He went to a middle-of-the-pack medical school. He graduated in the middle of his class. He works in a good (not great) hospital.
Yet he has a reputation as a great doctor and an appointment book to match.
Want to know his secret?
He is unavailable.
You read that correctly.
You see, I found out from a friend who plays golf with Doctor Big, that when he first started out he instructed his office to funnel all his patients into office visits two days per week. When the patients came in, the waiting room was packed. People were standing in the hallway. And during the other three days, Doctor Big volunteered in a clinic in a bad part of town. As his practice grew, Doctor Big expanded his office hours until all five days were packed each and every week. I was told this took a couple of years.
But the result was that people couldn’t hire him, couldn’t get him on the phone, and couldn’t even find him roaming around the hospital. So they figured the guy HAD to be good.
Think about the implications of this for your law practice. How easy is it to find you and ask you a question (for free)? How easy is it to get an appointment to see you?
Can I get in to see you today? Right now?
How good can you be if you have time available right this instant? You appear desperate if you have time to let me take command of your schedule. And your fee probably reflects that desperation.
Think about how accessible you are. Facebook, Twitter, email, PDAs, smart phones, text messaging – people have all kinds of access to you because you have given it to them.
Play hard-to-get, if you have the guts. You’ll find that you attract better clients, you can charge higher fees, and people will respect you because of the perception that you are unavailable.
Five Qualities of Successful Lawyers
During this day and age of limited time and resources I am constantly being asked to boil success down to a handful of qualities. Everybody wants the five “secrets” to success.
While I am hard pressed to limit the qualities of successful lawyers to just five things, I can give you five qualities that are common among all successful people.
Incidentally, these five qualities were not developed by me. They were developed by a guy named Napoleon Hill as a result of a 20 year study he conducted on successful business people.
Good old Napoleon came up with 16 laws of success as a result of this study. All of Hill’s laws can be applied to attorneys but there are five in particular that separate the winning attorneys from the moderately successful attorneys.
Here are the five qualities from Napoleon Hill’s work that I believe to be most responsible for a lawyer’s success:
Quality 1: Successful Lawyers have a Burning Desire to Serve Their Clients:
This means you must really want to make a difference to your clients and you believe in your ability to do so. That passion and desire is easily spotted in successful people. It is a quality that attracts others – clients and referring attorneys – to you like a magnet.
If you are currently practicing law and you do not have a passion for it, consider a career change.
Quality 2: Successful Lawyers Make Use of Specialized Knowledge:
Every attorney has specialized knowledge of the law (compared to a non-attorney). But successful attorneys also have the specialized knowledge of how to build and run a law firm. They have specialized knowledge on how to build systems to set their practice up for success. They have specialized knowledge in business strategy and they know how to deploy their resources toward an area of need in the market. They know how to attract clients to their law firm and persuade those clients to retain them.
Specialized knowledge goes well beyond the law. It extends to the knowledge necessary to build and grow a thriving law firm.
Quality 3: Successful Lawyers are Decisive:
This is a quality that stands out in a good lawyer. They assimilate information and then they make a decision. You have to make correct decisions and you have to do it in a way that projects confidence in yourself and in the people around you.
Let’s face it; if you have the will, you can recover from almost any mistake you make in life.
However you may never be able to recapture an opportunity that presents itself if you don’t make a decision. Great opportunities – golden opportunities – only come along so often – and you need to be decisive to take advantage of them. Napoleon Hill found that decisiveness was a key quality in successful people and I could not agree more.
Quality 4: Successful Attorneys Set Goals:
Successful people are goal oriented. This means they have actually taken the time to think about where they want to be in five years, ten years and twenty years.
If you want to achieve significant success you need to first define what success is. That means setting goals.
If you have never done any goal setting exercises, try this:
- Pick out five things you would like to accomplish between now and the end of the year.
- Write these five things down on a sheet of paper.
- Fold the paper up and put it in your pocket.
- Review this sheet of paper every time you eat a meal.?
You will be amazed at the results.
When you write your goals down your subconscious mind automatically goes to work to try to help you achieve them. You will find yourself drawn to activities that will bring you closer to your goals.
Once you become comfortable with this process, conduct a similar exercise, setting goals for the next five years.
Quality 5: Successful Attorneys Tap into the Collective Intelligence of Others
This is critically important. You need to have a group of people you can trust to give you honest feedback on your ideas and performance. You must have a group of like-minded people who know and understand what you are going through and can help you achieve your goals.
This last one really resonates with me because when I started my own practice I was a one person operation. After having worked my entire career in big firms, I suddenly found myself without a sounding board for ideas. This lead to a stifling of my creativity.
As my business has grown I have actively sought out successful people to bounce my ideas off of. This process has been phenomenally value in many ways. Every lawyer needs a handful of people in whom he can confide.
When a lawyer comes to me and says he needs help with his law firm, I review these five characteristics with him. Almost always, the struggling lawyer has not developed any of these qualities in himself. That’s when I ask him a critical question:
“Are you willing to adopt these five qualities and use them in your law practice?”
You see, part of Napoleon Hill’s study revealed that successful people are not born with these qualities. They developed them over time. Success is learned behavior.
So I ask you now:
Are you willing to adopt these five qualities and incorporate them into your law practice?