WHY ISN’T YOUR SOLO PRACTICE MARKETING WORKING?

AS A SOLO YOU ARE DOING ALL THE TASKS SHOWN ABOVE. YOU ARE  NOT  MAKING ALL THE INCOME YOU WANT AND YOU ARE PUZZLED WHY YOUR MARKETING DOESN’T SEEM TO BE WORKING.

Read on.  This might just be the answer. 

You probably already know the elements of a good marketing plan.  Most of it is broken down in the illustration above.  Yes, you need to strategize your plan to access your target market. Wait, stop right there.

  • Do you really know your target market or are you reaching people who don’t want nor need your services?
  • Are you reaching too broad a market and are confusing the people you do reach because they have no use for your service?
  • Have you “niched” your services so that your market is identified accurately.

Let’s use an example so you will begin to see what I mean.

You are budding Probate, Wills, Trust Solo Attorney.  By the way, this is one of the most difficult areas to market because many people don’t want to think about their death let alone do something about it!

So your plan is to center your marketing around reaching people of a particular age group. That is to say older people. Maybe 60 to 80 years old.  So you spend big bucks advertising in AARP literature because you feel you are reaching the right age range. STOP.  WHAT WRONG WITH THAT PICTURE?

First, it costs a lot of your marketing budget and may preclude using those funds for more lucrative avenues of marketing.

Second, you will be reaching millions of people who already have a will or who feel they have no need of a will or any after death planning.

Third, you probably have no credibility with these readers…..YET.

If, however, you wrote a brilliant article and AARP published it, you will have at least made a small dent in your credibility gap and it didn’t cost you a dime. It will be the first step in building a ladder of dynamic branding and can go on your website and be a base for further speaking engagements directed to exactly the people who might hire you.

Now you need to question your first assumption also.  Is the 60-80 the correct group to target? Maybe not.  It is known that new parents of babies have the revelation that they need to provide for these little humans for a very long time.  What if they when they still have parenting duties after they are gone? Don’t they need some long range planning to secure their wishes for their kids?  These may be a group you have overlooked because you haven’t been thinking outside the box.  How about a brilliant article in Parent Magazine?

Are you beginning to see why the simple area of identifying your target market (s) correctly is vitally important to your entire marketing plan.

If you’d like to discuss your approach to marketing with me, give me a call and we can connect.  I’ll be writing several more blogs on this highly misunderstood area that solos foul up….so stay tuned.

ARE YOU GIVING AWAY MONEY?

In 8 years of coaching I have found that some attorneys, especially solos, actually give away money! You may not even know you have been doing this, but usually because of circumstances somewhere in your background, its happening. The biggest underlying cause I have found is that some attorneys don’t feel their work is worth very much. If this is you, let me try to dissuade you.

See if any of the following is applicable to your practice:

Attorneys make money based on their time and expertise.  You have expertise and time……and you are an attorney, but are you giving money away?

So let’s begin by asking yourself these questions:

  1. How much am I worth an hour? — pleassssseeeee make it more than $150 an hour.
  2. How much of my time do I spend making less than my hourly rate?  doing what?
  3. Can I pay someone less than my hourly rate to do the cheaper time- consuming tasks? (now, don’t whine that you will just  have more time and less money….it doesn’t work that way).
  4. Am I consistently charging my hourly rate? or am I cutting it to get a client?  (the solution to that:   Up your hourly rate…..then you can lower it if need be.—this is all a psychological game anyway)
  5. Do I kid myself on the billing? This is when you really did five hours of work, but you feel you were slow, so you only charged the client for three hours.  That’s a big, huge NO NO.  Remember your product is expertise and time and you get to charge for both.
  6. Am I doing enough to get clients who have significant amounts of work and ability to pay? A $5,000 retainer is much nicer than 10- $500 jobs. You may have to target a completely different clientele.  Spend some of that time that you got from hiring someone else to do your grunt jobs and NETWORK. Decide exactly what kind of cases you want and learn to articulate your wishes in 35 words or less.   For example:

“ I’m the perfect lawyer for prosperous business clients with either significant problems or who want expert help in forming and growing their businesses while avoiding the legal pitfalls facing all entrepreneurs.”(see last week’s blog)

When you go to an event, commit to giving a spiel like that to at least 5 people. Hand them a card, smile and a Godiva chocolate.

Best of Luck and let me know if you can recognize yourself here.

A MASTERMIND GROUP CAN CHANGE YOUR LIFE!

I wanted to let you know that we are forming a Mastermind Group for Attorneys here in Santa Cruz, CA.  Below is the announcement.  If you don’t live in this area but are interested in attending a group , let me know.  We will be expanding into other regions by skype or phone shortly.

                                      DYNAMIC  ATTORNEY MASTERMIND GROUP FORMING:
Led by Eleanor Southers, owner Professional Legal Coaching and Mastermind Facilitator

Mastermind Groups were originated by Napoleon Hill author of THINK AND GROW RICH and have helped people for several generations come together to support each other in reaching greater success and happiness. “Two minds create a third person”.

The structure of the Group forming now is as follows:
• Meet twice a month on Mondays beginning Monday, March 7, 2016.
• Meetings will be 90 minutes long and will be in person or if occasionally unable to attend, then by phone or skype.
Will be limited to attorneys who want to increase their revenue through new marketing skills and more effective networking.
• Will be limited to attorneys ready to take a chance to improve their lives with the help of a trained and experienced facilitator and support of like-minded attorneys.
• All participants will sign a confidential agreement so that there can be a free discussion of needs.
• Group is limited to a maximum of 6 attorneys.
• Group will meet at my office: 1362 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz, Ca 95060.
• Time will be early morning or late afternoon and will be decided after group is formed and what is most convenient for the participants.
• Participants are asked to make a 3 month commitment and the cost is $450.00(payments possible). Participants will also receive a copy of my book, BE A BETTER LAWYER: A short guide to a long career.
• Participants will commit to formulating and working on personal goals consistently for three months.
• I promise that in three months participants will be equipped to earn more dollars and have some fun along the way while using new skills/tools.
Enrollment takes place during February, 2016. In order for this kind of group to work, we need to put together attorneys who are focused and want to make a difference in their careers. Also ones who are tired of working on their own and want the comradery of a group that wants to talk about their business. Therefore, only serious applicants should apply. Please fill out the brief application below and email it to me ASAP. Applications close Feb 29, 2016 so we have time to begin on Monday, March 7, 2016 and we will only be taking 6 attorneys. Email: esouthers@aol.com or call 831 466-9132 .
Name:___________________________email_____________________
Area of practice:______________________
Years in practice:_________
What results would you like to get from this
Mastermind Group?_________________________________

Have you ever been in a Mastermind Group previously?_______________
If yes, when and what were the results?______________________________________________
Which time, Morning or late afternoons, would be best for you?______________________
Anything else you would like to add?_____________________________________
______________________________________________________________________________

MORE MONEY TALK: OH BOY!

Since it is the first of the year, it is still great fun to talk about money!  Last blog you got on it and created a plan to find out if you were meeting your monthly nut.  Today, I thought it would be fun to take a look at a few hints or “sound bits” that you might do immediately and make more money.

  1.  RAISE YOUR FEES:  Even a small increase of fees will bring you substantially more revenue.  Its January and the perfect time to tell your clients that its time to raise fees. Or, don’t tell them until you start doing it and ask if they want to pay you a retainer now at the old fee scale.  Money will go into your trust account and be reimbursed if it isn’t used but it will be accessible immediately, saving your wait time.
  2. PAY YOURSELF FIRST:  This is one of the oldest but wisest tips for earning more.  When you get revenue put 10% of it in a  interest earning (LOL) bank account that is sacrosanct and don’t touch it.
  3. NEVER DO ANY WORK THAT YOU CAN HIRE OUT AT LESS THAN YOUR NORMAL HOURLY FEE AMOUNT.  This is one of the hardest but best advice I could give you.  First decide how much your hourly worth is.  Please say at least $200.  Then look around and see if you are doing anything that is not going to increase your revenue for less than that amount.  In other words, networking and marketing will produce your correct hourly rate so its worth $200 an hour to do it!  But doing your own accounts and taxes that can be done by an accountant at $40 an hour is not worth your time or effort!
  4. BUDGET,BUDGET,BUDGET.  Look over that P & L statement each month and see if you can find any places that you can reduce your expenses.
  5. HIRE A LEGAL COACH.  We can always save you money with careful planning and increasing your revenue!!!!!

STAY TUNED, I’M REALLY JAZZED ABOUT THIS TOPIC AND YOU WILL SEE FURTHER BLOGS.(orange is the new ………….)

BE HONEST: DID YOU MAKE ENOUGH MONEY IN 2015?

LET’S BE HONEST.  NO ONE IS LOOKING.

Review your income and expenses in 2015 NOW.  Yes, I know you don’t have to do taxes for a few more months but this is really important.  Also label expenses or categorize them so you can see where your money went.  Be brutal and don’t let anything get by.  Can you tell how much you spent on designer coffee?  How much for gym or classes? What was your overhead total? How much was spent on marketing?

Now go through and mark each expense as N. Necessary or NN. Not Necessary. Look at the N’s and see if all or part of that expense was not really necessary and mark it.  N is things like rent, reasonable food, gas, phone, gas, car expense, etc.

Look at the bottom line.  Did you make enough money to cover your expenses this year?  Did you incur any debt? If so how much?

WHAT IF YOU COME UP SEEING THAT YOU DID NOT MAKE ENOUGH MONEY TO COVER YOUR EXPENSES????????

First, take another look at the NN expenses.  How many can you cut out altogether or decrease?  How many of the N expenses might be reduced, if even slightly?

When you have done this as Step 1, you will be able to see if you can set your 2016 goals to recover at least as much income as your 2015 revenue.  If not, then onto Step 2.

This is about finding out how much more income you need to make in 2016.  Look at your overall short fall for 2015.  How much was that?  Do you want to add any expenses to 2016?  At this point, you need to figure out a good estimate as to what  income you need to generate in 2016.

Some insightful authors have determined that to be at our happiest as attorneys we need to make $70,000 a year.  Does this seem reasonable to you?  This figure is, of course, balanced with having less income but more happiness and work/life balance.  If you are willing to take this information at face value, it may be a place to start your next year’s budget.  It means you won’t have so many goodies but more time to enjoy the ones you already have.

So, all of this is your decision.  UGH

I have found that this is a really simple way to look at your financial situation.  We’re not talking about saving for retirement or anything else at this point. Just how did you do money-wise last year.  Debt reduction and proper savings come later.  This exercise should be done at least once a year.  Now is a great time.

IF YOU NEED MORE MONEY

After last week’s analysis, you have found you need more money. This is not just money to take a trip to Paris but a real need to up your income so you can lead a reasonable and comfortable life. It’s OK to want money to go to Paris but that’s not what we are talking about here.  This is a necessity task because you are not covering your basic needs.

1. First question:   HOW MUCH DO YOU NEED?

You can answer this quickly by looking at the accounts that you did last week.  How much more a month are you running short? Say it is $1,000.  That means that you have to generate $250 a week more. If it is a much larger amount then you need to allow yourself to know that. No whining here.  This is an important life situation.

2.  LOOK AT THE PLACES THAT YOU SPEND.

Again, you will be doing this from the accounts that you got together last week.  Can you cut out lattes? Can you decrease your spending on food? Can you bring your lunch to work? Can you change child care arrangements? Only you can know what you might be able to do without.  It is very possible that you can get that $1,000 down at least 25% just by decreasing your spending.

3. LOOK AT WHERE MORE INCOME COULD COME FROM.

I know this seem so simple but most people are so stressed by this situation that they fail to see the easy way to determine what steps to take.  Could you raise your fee?  If you presently charge $200 an hour and if you are billing 30 hours a week, raising your fee to $215 an hour will increase your income by $450 a week!

If you are an employee on a fixed salary, you can ask for a raise.  Even a 5% raise can sometimes make the difference.  If you haven’t been getting an annual cost of living increase, now is the time to bring that up.  Hit your boss with figures from reliable sources and give information on any increased work you are performing.

If you are in real trouble, you can find a second job to bring in income.  This may be on the weekend or as an UBER driver but you will need to do whatever is necessary to get back in the black.

Can your partner earn some income? Many stay at home mothers can find ways to increase revenue.  Some who have bachelors degrees  can take the test to become substitute teachers so that their hours are the same as their children. Or how about working at a store on weekends while the partner is home with the kids.

Once you first find out how much more money you need each month, there are infinite ways to make that happen.

SO THIS WEEK YOUR JOB IS TO TAKE THESE FEW BASIC STEPS AND ACKNOWLEDGE IF YOU ARE LIVING IN DENIAL ABOUT MONEY, AND DECIDE HOW YOU CAN TAKE BETTER CONTROL OF YOUR MONEY SITUATION TODAY. Let me know if I can help.

SHOW ME THE MONEY!

How many times have you heard that?  Bottom line is that you need income to live.  The manner of living is different for everyone but bottom line, it still takes money to fiance eating, housing, clothing, and other basic needs.

Let’s first find out if you presently are making enough money to fund a reasonable lifestyle.  Again, we get into questions as to what is a reasonable life style?  Studies have shown us that $75,000 a year presently can provide a suitable life style in today’s world that will provide security and less worry.  I’m not sure if that is for only one person or covers a family.  Kids in college and having a  retirement plan doesn’t seem likely to be available  with only $6,250 before taxes a month to spend. Do you buy the $75,000 idea? It doesn’t really matter for our analysis as we are going to be looking at you as an individual with certain needs.

So let’s go about this a old fashioned way.  Get out your friendly bank statements (personal and business) and take a look at your expenditures.  Look to the basics first.  How much is the mortgage? How much for food? Day care? etc.  Be brutal and honest about how much you spent on those items and more in the last 6 months.  Now add how much debt you have and what the monthly payments are. Are you saving any money each month? Then using this information come up with a monthly budget of what you need to sustain your present lifestyle.

Big Question:  IS YOUR PRESENT LIFESTYLE REASONABLE AND SATISFYING TO YOU?

If the answer is yes, then go on to next hurdle and find out exactly how much income you are getting each month.  And then the major question:  ARE YOU MAKING ENOUGH INCOME TO COVER YOUR MONTHLY EXPENSES?  If your debt ratio to income is more than 15% then something is wrong(unless big items like cars and houses are involved).

By this time, you should be seeing some interesting developments.

  • If you are not satisfied  because you want your lifestyle to be different, then in what ways would you change it?
  • If you are not satisfied because you don’t have enough income, then the only way to change it is to earn more money.

Seems like a no brainer?  You can’t imagine how many people get hung up here!  Even Attorneys!

NOW YOUR TASK THIS WEEK IS TO TAKE A HARD LOOK AT THESE QUESTIONS AND ANALYZE EXACTLY WHAT IS GOING ON WITH YOUR “MONEY LIFE”.  If you need some help, call me.  Next week we will get into increasing your earning and what might be holding you back if that is what you need to do.