THE UNTOLD TRUTH ABOUT MARKETING FOR SOLOS

I’ve always wanted to use that phrase because the media seems to use it to get your attention to buy stuff you don’t want!

However, I want you to “buy” my stuff.  Why? Because coming out of denial and starting to market strategically and consistently is the way to increase your profit as well as your ultimate success.

For three weeks you have hopefully been reading about target markets and mission statements. But have you done any work about implementing them?  This is where I hear solos saying they don’t have time, etc.  I once heard that you have as much time as Beyonce! She gets a lot done and looks great.

A recent survey showed that Solos spend a majority of their time on practicing law.  Here comes the UNTOLD TRUTH:  You should be spending at least 45 to 50% on tasks that are important and not urgent. This includes marketing, planning and networking, not practicing law.  This also includes keeping yourself healthy and not stressed out. (see Covey books on this). You don’t ignore the important and urgent tasks but those are calendared and completed, leaving a lot of your time open for the “business of your business”.

I also came across another survey attempting to locate what made attorneys happy.  The most important thing was to have client contact.  Guess what? You have to have clients to have contact. Feeling that you are helping someone is usually a very high priority of solos.  The trouble is that you can’t have clients without proper marketing.

That brings us to the ULTIMATE MARKETING TASK….THE MARKETING PLAN.  If you don’t have one then you are without your best GPS for finding business. You can wonder around the desert for days, weeks without a CPS in your car and you may finally get where you are going but with a lot more time and energy wasted by not having a step by step plan with a well defined end in place.

IF YOU WANT SOME HELP WITH YOUR MARKETING PLAN, GIVE ME A CALL.  I WILL BE HAPPY TO DISCUSS WHAT YOU WANT AND HOW TO GET THERE. 

RULES FOR GUERRILLA JOB HUNTING IN A DOWN MARKET

You must “work” every day, except Sunday, between 7-8 hours on finding a job. (If you have been unemployed for a year, you should have worked over 2,240 hours so far.) And if you are on unemployment insurance, that’s what the government is paying you to do.

  1. Plan every day what you will do with your time.
  2. Figure out the hard stuff that almost no one else is doing to find work. This is things like listing every adult friend or acquaintance that you or your family have ever known and informing them you need a job. Ask them for referrals to their lawyers where your “target market” exists.(that’s a breathing attorney).
  3. Identify the areas of law that have job openings and become competent in one or two (I think you can do that in 2,240 hours!). This means taking classes and networking with the attorneys while you are in those classes. Careful not to spend too much time with online classes and miss out on this opportunity.
  4. Face the hard truth that you may have to move out of your living area to find a job. Identify the areas of your city or state that have openings. Do you have any contacts in those areas (remember law school).
  5. Identify and attend ANY function that has attorneys at it. This means Bar Associations, Seminars, Political meetings and whatever else you find. Have a new business card made up with your contact information and a brief description on the back of what you are looking for.
  6. Set up a Website. Make it easy for people to find out about you. This is where the clever part comes in….it has to be different and unique with pictures and testimonials of how wonderful you are and put the address on your card.
  7. Establish a LinkedIn Profile. Make it simple and to the point. Put your longer resume in a link.  Be sure to explain your “value” as an employee both now and wherever else you have worked.  Talk about your flexibility and focus on the employer’s needs.  Be sure you get your nice looking picture in there.
  8. Volunteer, Volunteer, Volunteer. Especially if you are expanding or changing your practice areas. Be a law clerk in a firm where you can learn more ( yes, free). Or volunteer where powerful people in your community do.  You can easily fill in those hours and do some good at the same time. Also volunteer are “helpers” and this is the attitude of the people you need to be around now. Remember, Legal Aid is attorneys.
  9. Consider going Solo. While you are on unemployment insurance, this could be a good time to have some steady income while you do all the things to get started to go Solo before you begin earning. Of course, you are going to have to report any income that comes your way, but the government is very happy to do a little deducting from your checks. Remember, however, that going Solo means you must first figure out if there is enough business in your area of the law and the venue where you will be practicing. For goodness sake, don’t jump into this until you have researched both your financial obligations and the chances of success. Also check out your temperament.  Can you handle the stress?

Don’t get discouraged but know that the world is changing and you have to put a lot more time and energy into a job search today!  Let me know how you are doing and if you need any help.  I have been successful lately in helping attorneys to get hired even in this climate.

MUSINGS

I was sick last week, so no blog but I did muse. Then I took a friend and  went to the beach and  this is the result of that musing…..                                                             

“DON’T PLAY LEAPFROG WITH A UNICORN”

I came across this saying and thought that the suggestion might be helpful to attorneys.  My interpretation, which is always right, is that you shouldn’t engage with someone or thing that might really do you great harm.  This brings to mind the defense attorney who just won’t turn away any client even those that are obviously dangerous.  Or the family law case in which the client has had 4 prior attorneys and has sued them all.

As attorneys, we need to protect ourselves from those in our society who can cause us more than the normal problems associated with a case.  We need the ego strength and our personal greed alert to assist us with getting out of these situations as soon as possible.  Or we might get that horn stuck in a very uncomfortable place…..

“DON’T GO TO THE HARDWARE STORE FOR A HAMBURGER

One of my favorites.  For attorneys this pertains mostly in the marketing/network arena.  In other words, don’t continue to market to people who are never going to give you leads, let alone support.  Don’t spend time or energy on folks who will never take the time to be interested in what you are doing.  They may be able to give you a screwdriver but never a hamburger.

Now if you need a screwdriver, you might be in luck but don’t waste the time finding out what they have to offer, if it’s not what you want. To know what you want, you need a marketing plan, have identified your target market and have a clear elevator speech.

“BE UNTO OTHERS AS YOU WISH THEM TO BE UNTO YOU”

This is my interpretation of “do unto others…”  If you want someone to be interested in your career and success then you need to be interested in their career and success.  This is the solution to people who say they can’t small talk.  Small talk equals big rewards because it can turn into big talk. You will never know what the rewards are unless you spend a little time testing the waters.

People have then whined (which you know I hate) that they don’t know what to say to open a conversation for small talking.  How about something like “ Has anything new happen in your life last week” or “ What brought you here?” or “ What is your area of practice?” or “Have you been to this event before?”.  Smile, that helps and offer them a piece of wrapped chocolate.  Big Talk equals Big Rewards.

IT MIGHT BE NICE IF YOU MUSED A LITTLE YOURSELF THIS WEEK.  CAN YOU COME UP WITH A SAYING THAT GIVES GOOD ADVICE?  SEND IT TO ME AND I WILL PUBLISH IT!!

ALSO, MY NEW LINKEDIN FORUM IS NEEDING NEW MEMBERS. JUST GO TO LINKEDIN “GROUPS” AND SIGN UP FOR ATTORNEYS BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT FORUM and please post a little something.

MORE GATEKEEPERS: THERE’S NEVER ENOUGH

Last week we discussed the role of Gatekeepers in a business.  Not the people that keep you out but the people who know the people who have problems that you can help with and will refer to you.  So, getting more specific, how do you locate the gatekeepers who will most benefit your business.

Again, let me remind you, to first look at your target market and your business mission statement.  Who would be your best client if they walked in your door today?  Describe this person in detail.  See if you can picture this person.  If you had to write a three sentence story about them, what would that look like.

Then take your mission statement and see if that description of your perfect client needs to be changed.  Does their problem reflect a need that you can fulfill while being true to your statement.  Let me see if I can show you what this means.  For instance, you describe your best client as” a person who is having a family law problem”. You even mention that they must have enough funds to hire you.

Your mission statement is “A small, highly efficient form offering services to family  law clients through personalized, individual attention while maintaining the highest ethics”.  So now what happens if you get a client who  wants to hide money from their spouse and wants your help to do that? Where’s the ethics?

So you have to then tailor your target person to have realistic values about the ethics involved in family law or it won’t parallel your mission statement.  See how this works?

Now we come to the part where you start identifying Gatekeepers who might help you find your target market.  You also need to ask yourself once identified, how can you educate your gatekeeper to screen your potential client for an appropriate match.

How do you do this?  Ok, let’s use an example.  You have found a Marriage Family and Child Counselor who is very open to referring to you because he or she needs someone trustworthy when they get a request for a family law attorney.  But they are very new at counseling and ask you if you can give them some money back for the referral.  UGH!

Think again about your mission statement.  Where is the ethics here? If this counselor would do this, then you might not want his or her clients as your clients. Of course, it might just be that this person is just so new that they think it is OK to be given money for referrals.  If so, you can gently tell them” NO, this is against the Law”. Then you know you have a lot of educating to do with this gatekeeper.  However, in the end, you might get a great gatekeeper because you will have trained them to be exactly what you want!

This is another reason why you always handle your gatekeeper very carefully.  Be careful how you thank them.  They shouldn’t expect expensive gifts, etc.  The best thank you is business for them.  So once you have vetted your gatekeeper have your referrals ready the next time a client asks you for help.

GATEKEEPERS: MAKE ALL THE DIFFERENCE

Just imagine a nice person standing on one side of a gate and letting in all kinds of referrals to your business each time the gate is opened.  You could even have each referral be a real qualified lead and if you have trained your gatekeeper correctly, it will be.

OK, we all feel this would be great for our business. But how do we know what our own gatekeepers looks like? Going back to the basics, what is your target market?  Hopefully after all my blogs you have come up with at least one target (best client) profile.

To help you understand, let’s use my example from the time when I practiced personal injury and workers’ comp law.  My best client was someone injured in an accident which, for PI, was not their fault and for WC it didn’t matter as long as it happened at work.

After identifying the target client, I needed  to figure out what person or profession finds out about the problem of that injured party.  In my case, I decided for a lot of injuries it was chiropractors.  Additionally, they might see the injury first but then refer the patient onto other medical professionals if the injury is outside their scope of practice.  This then brings them into contact with other professionals who also treat injured people and might eventually become referral sources for me.

So I chose my Gatekeepers as chiropractors who lived in my community. Now the question is: what do I do next to meet these gatekeepers and get them on board.  Working from the Zig Ziggler premise of doing something for other people as your best marketing tool, I wrote a book in collaboration with a Chiropractor titled: The Medical-Legal Survival Guide, A Handbook for the California Chiropractor.  We published it ourselves and marketed it to all Chiropractors in California.  More importantly, I had my best business card available when I met a chiropractor. I could give them something of value.

Additionally, I gave seminars in my office about how to do depositions, ethics and writing reports.  I taught at some seminars and the book was used by two chiropractic colleges in California as a text book.  Well worth the hard work and expense!

This partnership went onto produce many cross referrals over the 21 years I had my solo practice.  I could refer accident victims to a doctor I knew could write a good report and also give outstanding service to my client.  The chiropractor knew, in turn, that I was ethical, experienced and trustworthy. They could also reach out to me for advice if necessary.  I was available!

So that’s my story about gatekeepers.  Who are your gatekeepers?  Again, start with your target market.  If you are a business attorney, it might be small and mid-sized start ups.  Who knows of their problems?  CPA, Financial Planners, other attorneys, bankers, etc. Next question is how do you reach those people? Get creative.

EVERY ATTORNEY IN THE PRIVATE SECTOR NEEDS GATEKEEPERS TO FILL OUT THEIR MARKETING PLAN.  Let’s talk more about this next week.

HOW MANY OF YOU HAD A FREE LUNCH LAST WEEK?

So this week we’re talking about really wanting to set a goal and why we don’t do them.  Isn’t that right? Because my bet is that anyone reading last week’s blog said to themselves “Hey, that’s a great idea.  I should do that”  but then didn’t follow through.  Maybe some people even wrote it down in their goal list.  But still didn’t follow through. My congratulations to those who did something about that great suggestion for increasing revenue!  Let’s hear from you.

As a coach, this is what I face time and time again.  The attorney and I will plan out the next two or three weeks with real important, well thought out goals that will advance the attorney in the direction he or she wants to go.  Three weeks later, the attorney comes back to me and many times, few or none of the goals have been worked on.

Then we go back to the old trick, that goals have to not only be written down, they need to be put into the attorney’s calendar so they get worked on.  If that is done and the goal is still not moved forward, then it’s time to find out why?  Is it fear of failure? Is it coming out of the attorney’s comfort space?  Is it just because so many more “important” tasks need to be done? Is the goal too big?

I believe that one of the landmines here is that many attorneys have never done consistent goal planning in their careers.  Yes, they passed the Bar and get work done in their practices but there is very little growth or change because of poor strategic planning.  So with  little or no forward growth, lawyers get discouraged and depressed. Of course they find little validity in the idea that good planning can produce the success they want because they have simply never experienced it before. They simply don’t believe in it.

So if you are one of those attorneys who have trouble with planning, goal setting and follow through, what do you do?  You need to prove to yourself that it works! That means you will make a tiny little goal that you can accomplish.  Then you will next make a more difficult goal and keep on until you prove to yourself that this works.  A coach can help in all of this and also with the follow up.  You can commit to email your coach every day, what goal you worked on and how much got done.   Or you can figure out a way that you can do this with your own knowledge of your habits.

So, next week I want to see one small goal that you wrote down and actually did.  Email me the result to my blog! 

HOW TO GET A FREE LUNCH

Want to know how get a free lunch and do some remarkable networking at the same time?   It starts with you looking at your list of contacts (Yes, remember you have A,B and C contacts sorted with A being the ones who are most active and you know they will refer to you).

Look at the business they have.  Pick one who has been able to refer to you.  If you are a personal injury attorney, that may have been a  chiropractor.  Now look at the rest of the names on your list and see if you can find another person who might be able to do cross referrals with the chiropractor.  This might be an acupuncturist or a massage therapist or an open minded medical doctor.

You are the center of these two other people as far as referring ability.  You have a personal injury case and you can send that client to the chiropractor if it is soft tissue injury and he/she might send that same client to the massage therapist,doctor or acupuncturist if it is appropriate.

More importantly, these other two can also cross refer patients without having you in the middle.  You have created a lunch with value for all concerned.

So, you ask me, how do you get a free lunch?  Well, you don’t have to take each person to a separate lunch and so you only pay for one lunch instead of two!!! Voila, a free lunch for you and a great introduction for your two guests.

Instead of just sitting back, go look at that list of contacts and pick up your phone or open your email.  Think how much time and money and how much more value planning gives you.  Get creative.  If you still can’t figure how this is a free lunch……call me….I’ll eplain