What You Don’t Say Speaks Volumes
Some lawyers will say anything to get clients.
“What are my chances of a favorable outcome?”
“Will we win?”
“Am I going to get $1 million?”
Those questions are being asked of lawyers all over the world, right now, by clients who just sat down in a chair across their desk.
Honest lawyers say:
“There is no way to know. Every case is different. Here are the aspects of the case that work in your favor… and here are the aspects of the case that concern me…”
Now we all know lawyers who promise the client the moon and the stars and then shrug their shoulders when the case doesn’t go well.
I want you to think about three things the next time you get ready to answer these questions:
First: Think about the promises made to you throughout your life. Think about how you felt when people did not live up to the expectations they set.
Then think about the person who told you the unvarnished truth about something unpleasant. And think about your reaction when in spite of the herculean effort on part of the service provider, the negative prophecy became reality.
Who were you more likely to recommend?
Oh yeah, and when you are honest in setting expectations, and you meet or exceed them, you have a client for life.
Next: Remember, the truth is not a competitive advantage. Telling the truth is the minimum expectation your client has of his lawyer.
As a lawyer, getting clients by lying, even if it’s a lie of omission, is going to end up biting you in the ass at some point.
Some lawyers will tell you that clients lie to them all the time.
Some criminal defense lawyers will tell you that most cops lie all the time too.
Do you really want to be included in that company?
Finally: If your competitive advantage is so weak that you need to make false promises to win clients, you don’t deserve high quality, ethical clients. You deserve to preach to the congregation impressed by those who handle snakes.
You can tell the truth and still get great cases. In fact you can get great cases BECAUSE you tell the truth.
Getting clients requires TRUTHFULLY differentiating yourself from everyone else who does what you do.
There’s no room for deception in your profession, my profession or any profession that requires the trust of the client.
Want to know how to get clients? Start by giving people straight answers.
In case you missed it, I recorded an audio program designed to help you get clients ethically, affordably and without the need to hire anyone.
You can listen to it by following this link.
More Resources for Lawyers
I’m excited to share some news with the readers at RainmakerLawyer.com:
Our company has expanded its focus. In addition to working with attorneys, effective immediately, we will also be working with doctors and business owners.
The Rainmaker Lawyer name will continue to be the hallmark of educational internet content for lawyers but the new name of our company is Valtimax Consulting.
Our focused initiatives for lawyers will be delivered under the LegalMax brand.
The work we do with doctors will be through our MedMax brand.
Products and services for business leaders will be shared by our SuccessMax and ExecuMax brands.
The most exciting thing for me personally is the fantastic information I will now be bringing to a wider audience.
Each week we will be delivering educational content in three different forms of media on http://www.Valtimax.com:
Monday: The Valtimax Podcast will deliver the latest radio show on business strategy.
Wednesday: The Valtimax Minute will provide professionals and business leaders with an update on marketing and productivity maximization.
Friday: Valtimax Video will deliver hard hitting management messages in powerful videos.
I sincerely thank you for your support and friendship as my business has evolved over the years and I’m thrilled that you will be joining me on this next leg of our journey.
Visit the new website: http://Valtimax.com
As always, we will be routinely posting great info and updates right here at http://www.RainmakerLawyer.com
Law Firm Leadership: Fire Problem Clients and Vendors
About a month ago I received a telephone call from a client. He was furious. He had just received a phone call from his bookkeeper that made his blood boil.
Here’s the story:
Joe (my client) is an attorney in a practice area that was particularly hard hit by the recession. Just four years ago he was pulling in seven figures. By contrast, last year he was lucky to have a month where he brought home $2,500. He tried to “gut it out” (his words). But his cash flow was nonexistent and because he never adjusted his lifestyle, he was deep in debt.
By the time Joe began working with me (seven months ago) his credit cards were maxed out, he had an investment property in foreclosure and he was on the verge of defaulting on some old student loans.
When you are under this kind of financial pressure it can be debilitating.
Joe and I reinvented his practice and scaled back his expenses. And last month, for the first time in years, he was able to pay all of his monthly obligations and still have a little left over to take his family to the movies.
Just when Joe was feeling a little better about his financial situation, the phone rang and on the other end of the line was Marie his bookkeeper. Joe hated speaking with Marie. It was not because his financial picture was bleak for such a long time; it was because of the way she made him feel during their conversations.
Marie was the kind of person who told her clients what to do. She didn’t give advice in a nurturing fashion. She TOLD. And if the client resisted, she STEAMROLLED.
After a call with Marie, Joe always felt as if he had run a marathon. All energy would be drained from his body and he would be depressed.
This dysfunctional relationship came to a head on that fateful day last month. Joe sent Marie his expense statements and a few meals were categorized as business expenses. Marie called Joe and asked for the receipts from the meals. Joe could not find them and responded that Marie should just book the items as they appeared on his credit card bill. Marie persisted. She said she would have to categorize the expenses as distributions (which would create a tax issue for Joe) because he did not have the receipts.
Joe blew his top. He raised his voice and exclaimed that this was his business and, if he wanted something classified a certain way, for internal accounting purposes, his bookkeeper should do it.
Then Marie crossed the line. She said: “Joe, your financial difficulties demonstrate your lack of knowledge of accounting procedure. If you knew what you were doing you would not be in this mess in the first place.”
Joe hung up the phone and a few minutes later called me. He was emotional. He said he did not need anyone to remind him about his financial situation. He said he could tell by the clothes his kids were wearing (at least one size too small) and by the wear and tear on his seven year old business suits, that he was experiencing financial hardship. He said every time he drove to work and ignored the “check engine” light on his car (because he couldn’t afford to have it serviced); he was reminded of his financial situation.
He asked for my advice on how he should handle the situation with his bookkeeper.
The advice I gave Joe applies to everyone – regardless of their financial situation.
Immediately discontinue all relationships with people who consistently and repeatedly make you feel bad. People who make you feel insignificant, inferior or weak have their own insecurities. Get rid of them. It makes no difference if they are friends, clients, vendors or family. Banish them from your life.
There are two types of people in the world: People who energize you and make you feel good and people who suck the life out of you and make you feel bad. In difficult situations the energizers will offer solutions. In those same situations, the energy suckers will keep pointing out the problem.
Life is short. Make a concerted effort to rid your life of the people who focus on the negative and drain your energy.
The day Joe fired his bookkeeper he said he felt like a giant weight had been lifted off his back.
One of the best things about life is that you get to start over each and every day. When you surround yourself with people who help you find solutions; when you limit your circle of influence to people who only look at possibilities; when you make a conscious choice to eliminate negativity from your life; you are setting yourself up for success.
Is there someone in your life who is weighing you down? Isn’t it time you did something about that?
The Best Part of Law Firm Marketing
The best part of law firm marketing is having the ability to say “No” at any time.
If you have multiple ways of generating leads and multiple ways of attracting new potential clients and if you are good at getting clients to commit to working with you, you can afford to turn away business.
Turning away bad clients is a necessity.
- Bad clients take up more time than good clients.
- Bad clients frustrate you and your team.
- Bad clients force you to make bad decisions.
- Bad clients take your focus away from growth.
- Bad clients make you reactive instead of proactive.
The best reason to develop solid law firm marketing systems is to be selective in client acquisition. It provides you with freedom of time and freedom of choice.
Saying “No” puts control of your future in your hands.
Make A Commitment to Yourself
Most attorneys sleep walk through the day-to-day aspects of their practice. They are not focused on doing the things that are necessary to build a solid law firm that will help them live the lifestyle they deserve.
Taking charge of your career and achieving the success you deserve involves more than just showing up. You must also be committed to making your goals a reality. There are three different kinds of commitment made by successful lawyers. These are three specific areas of focus. I have out lined each of them below. See how you measure up in each area.
The Commitment to Plan for Success
You must take time to focus on the future. If you do not know where you want to go, you most definitely will not know how to get there. Taking time to plan is critical to the growth of your law firm and your income.
The Commitment to Action
Once you have a plan in place you must take action. All the planning in the world is useless if it is not set in motion. Once you have made the decision to move forward, do it, rapidly.
Do not wait.
The Commitment to Follow Through
Very few initiatives are successful on the first attempt. You must be persistent. You must be committed to following through. If you want to achieve success, you must stick with your actions until they bear fruit. Nothing is more critical.
How do you measure up in each of these areas?
The good news is that if you feel as though you are lacking in any one particular area, you can make an adjustment and renew your commitment each day. Life affords you the opportunity to start over with each sunrise. Take advantage of it. Start now.
Get Into Motion
Many people think about law firm marketing as television advertising, billboards or fancy brochures. While many lawyers use those marketing methods, there is a better way to jump start your client attraction process.
Here is a four step process I use with my private clients:
Invite Your Current Clients and Former Clients to an Event
It is a good idea to hold a client appreciation event at least once a year. At this event you have some live entertainment and some food and beverages. The event should be an informal gathering designed to thank people who have done business with you (or referred clients to you) in the past year).
You must use a multistep marketing sequence to get your clients and former clients to attend the event. People do not agree to come to something just because it is free. They must be sold on the idea.
There are three specific purposes to holding this event:
1).To rekindle your relationship with past clients
2). To educate them on who you are and what you do
3). To initiate an on-going dialogue with them
Make Them Feel Like They Are Part of an Exclusive Club
By hiring you at some point in the past, your clients should feel like they are part of an exclusive club. They should feel as though they have a lawyer in the family. They should be encouraged to call you for any legal need. If you do not handle the issue of the day, you will refer them to someone who can help them.
Educate to Demonstrate Your Expertise
At this event you should give a brief talk covering something in your field of expertise. This is not a sales pitch nor is it an academic lecture. Most often, I advise my clients to discuss a case that has been in the news or something that is of particular interest to the local community. This not only showcases your expertise, it demonstrates leadership and people gravitate toward leaders.
Follow Up with Regular Communication
After the client appreciation event, each person should receive regular, frequent communication from you. This communication (newsletter, email, card in the mail) does exactly what the event did. It reminds the client or former client that you are still open for business. It lets them know that they have an attorney in the family. And it encourages them to call you if the have a need.
Note: In some practice areas, this event will be more geared to referral sources or people who are influential in the community (criminal defense, divorce and immigration for example). While it may be appropriate to invite clients to these events, you will also want to include your best referral sources as well.
A Law Firms Marketing Madness: Cutting the Budget is a Bad Move
Many large law firms have been cutting their marketing budgets during the past couple of years. This is being done as a reaction to the broad economy and the perceived weakness in the demand for legal services. These law firms marketing madness will only make things worse.
Cutting the law firms marketing budget during difficult economic times is the wrong approach. A down economy is exactly the right time to spend MORE on marketing. Here are three reasons why:
Clients still need you to solve problems.
Do you really think there is a shortage of legal issues during a down economy? Come on now. Clients have either chosen to ignore their issues or they have put off fixing them until the economy improves. Your job (as a law firm business owner) is to help potential clients realize that their problems must be addressed now. It shows that you still involved in the community/industry.
Since we practice educational marketing, we are always providing value to our clients.
If you continue to provide this value, even during an economic downturn, you will build your credibility and goodwill within your community/industry. Law firms marketing in a recession are perceived as strong. Law firms marketing using educational marketing provide their clients and prospective clients with value. The combination of these two factors makes them unstoppable.
The return on investment is still there.
Think like a business owner. If you invest a dollar and you receive three dollars in return you have made a good investment. That’s what marketing is all about. Good marketers find out what works and they invest in it and leverage their investment to receive a great return.
Law firms marketing in a recession are rare but that’s all the more reason for you to INCREASE your marketing during tough times. Make the investment.
You’ll be glad you did.
Lawyers Marketing and The Lies They Tell
There is one big lie that currently affects lawyers marketing activity. It is the concept that just being a good lawyer is enough to help you attract clients. Here’s how this usually plays out:
A WISE OLD MAN sits down with a group of young lawyers. He tells them that they must pay their dues. They must handle crappy cases for little money for years and years. Then, finally, when everyone knows they are a good lawyer, the good clients will come.
The WISE OLD MAN tells them this is how it happened for him. He says that he doesn’t believe in lawyers marketing to get clients. He shares stories of attorneys on TV and billboards bringing the profession down. Then he cautions the young lawyers not to BE LIKE THEM (meaning the unethical,immoral lawyers who spend time on marketing).
I believe you are smart enough to see through this façade. Here are just three reasons why this argument falls apart:
First: If you don’t promote your law firm and your services, nobody will know how great a lawyer you are. THE WORD simply doesn’t spread by itself. People don’t simply hear about great lawyers through the grape vine. Yes, some folks in your neighborhood may learn of your reputation. Sure the judges and/or your peers may think you are a great lawyer. Both of those things are important but they will not get you the number of new cases you need to pay your bills. The world deserves to know how good you are. Marketing gets THE WORD out to the people who need to hear it.
Second: Most lawyers marketing themselves are ethical. They follow the guidelines set by The Bar and they represent themselves appropriately. Because they are ethical, they don’t receive the same attention as the bottom feeders who lie, cheat and steal from clients. Legal marketing can be done ethically and in a way that makes the lawyer and the profession look good.
Third: The WISE OLD MAN is doing his best to keep you from competing with him. Most great attorneys are intensely competitive. If someone was going to compete with you, in your market, how willing would you be to give them a road map toward the best clients? Think about it. Whose interest is the WISE OLD MAN protecting?
Lawyers marketing their law firms are not bad for the profession. If it is done correctly, attorney marketing can highlight everything that is good about it. Don’t believe the lies of the WISE OLD MAN.
Late Night Debacle is a Lesson on Writing an Attorney Marketing Plan
Once again there is trouble on the late shift.
In case you have not been following entertainment news, here is a brief overview:
In September 2009 the NBC brain trust moved Jay Leno into a one hour show at 10PM. This move dislodged him from the Tonight Show (which he hosted since 1992). Conan O’Brien became the new Tonight Show host. The NBC Brass loved the move since they were able to profitably sell the new 10PM show to advertisers. (A talk show is much cheaper to produce and air than a scripted show with an ensemble cast).
As it turns out, nobody likes watching Jay Leno at 10PM and only a few people like watching Conan on the Tonight Show. The affiliates (television station owners) are really angry. NBC screwed up royally and they needed to fix it.
So what did they decide to do?
They tip toed around behind the scenes and opened negotiations with Jay to move him into a 30 minute show at 11:35PM (that is currently when the Tonight Show starts). This means the Tonight Show would need to be moved back a half hour. Once Conan got wind of this he was not happy. Although an agreement is imminent, the drama played out on TV, in the newspapers and on line. In the end, it will cost NBC tens of millions of dollars and much more than that value in talent (Conan will probably end up leaving).
Here are three things we can learn from this mess:
When something works, stick with it until it stops working. Don’t tinker with it just because you can.
Conan O’Brien always wanted the Tonight Show and he has demonstrated that he would wait for it. His contract was not up yet and neither was Jay’s. The ratings for both shows were good. But NBC wanted to cut costs during the 10PM hour. So they made this ridiculous deal with these guys. They messed up a good thing.
We do this kind of thing all the time. We come up with a client acquisition tactic that works and then we tinker with it.
What do I mean?
You go to a networking event, you meet a few people, you follow up with them and you get new business. But then you don’t go to another event for six months.
You give a speech and it results in a couple of good new clients. Instead of looking for other venues to give that same speech again, you decide to give a different speech that doesn’t work as well.
When something works, stick with it until it stops working. If you give a speech to a group or trade organization and you receive a positive response, give that same speech to a different group (within the same industry). If networking brings you new clients, stick with it until you simply can’t shake another hand.
Don’t mess with things that are working just for the sake of making a change.
Put the client at the forefront of any new business strategy.
NBC thought they knew what was best for the viewers of late night television. Magically, this aligned with their desire to cut costs. It appears that NBC wanted to do what was best for NBC and the viewers’ desires were secondary.
Every day you face choices that affect the wellbeing of your law firm. It is easy to make those choices when they are black and white - either good or bad for your client. It is not easy to make those choices when they are grey.
Always be guided by giving the client the greatest value for their investment in you. This is the most powerful advertising strategy you will ever employ as it is the key driver of word of mouth.
Do what you love because you love to do it.
Both Jay and Conan are making light of their situation. They realize that it provides them each with an opportunity to get some laughs. And that’s what they love to do, regardless of when they appear on television.
If you don’t enjoy being an attorney (at least 80% of the time) you need to make some changes. Your passion for your profession and your desire to help your clients will make all the difference in the results you get.
Ultimately, the current late night television situation will be a footnote on the careers of both of these gentlemen. It is media fodder now but it will all be forgotten with positive ratings results. But this debacle for NBC serves as a reminder that good planning is far more valuable than most of us realize.
Think things through from every possible angle. Most of the time big mistakes are just not this funny.
Tiger Woods Turns Tail and Loses Credibility
The entire world is watching as Tiger Woods’s career rushes at 120 miles per hour into a brick wall.
His handling of the public relations aspect of his infidelity has been a train wreck that will probably cost him his marriage, hundreds of millions of dollars and his personal credibility.
Just about every day for the past few weeks a new revelation about this guy has turned up in the news. Each one is more damaging than the last. Some of them might even be true.
To this point, Tiger’s strategy has been to make a vague admission and run and hide.
That strategy never works.
Ask Bill Clinton. Ask Alex Rodriguez.
If there is more, it will come out. And it will be ugly.
Tiger needs to come forward, in person, make a statement, answer questions and face his fans.
Should he have to? No.
Should this be a private matter? Yes.
But if Tiger wants to end the speculation and all the tall tales that are being spread (some of these stories are definitely concocted by people who want their 15 minutes of fame) he needs to take control of the story. The only way to do this is to get out in front of the cameras, make a statement and then answer questions.
It will be painful but at least it will be the truth.
The media loves misery and they love to perpetuate a story that involves sex and money. If Tiger tells all he leaves the media no place to go with the story. He also sends a message to anyone making up stories about him – I will set the record straight.
Until Tiger takes control of the story it will grow and morph into something really, really ugly and it just might kill his career.
What can we learn from this?
When you make a mistake with a client you must take responsibility. Tell them the truth and try to make things right. This is not only the right thing to do from an ethical standpoint; it is the right thing to do from a HUMAN standpoint.
Just about every day someone asks me how to attract new clients. They are looking for the marketing secret to getting rich. The biggest secret I can teach you is to do everything possible to keep your current clients happy before you go running off to find new ones.
Tiger Woods is losing fans and sponsors at a rapid pace – not because of his sexual indiscretion – but because of his lack of backbone.
People forgive mistakes. People forgive human weakness.
People do not forgive a cover-up or cowardice.