STUCK IN THE SAHARA WITHOUT A GPS?

IT’S THE SAME AS RUNNING A FIRM WITHOUT A MARKETING PLAN.

Last week we talked about target markets and this week we need to see what the next step is to using that identified target market(s). So here we go:

  • Decide what the exact needs of your target market are.
  • If having trouble deciding do some interviews and find out.
  • Prioritize at least 3 Needs.
  • Taking those Needs, first incorporate them in your Website and Linkedin Accounts.
  • Now follow up those posts with how you would solve those needs. For instance if one of the needs to get information about a legal question, indicate that you can do that.
  • Be careful to only indicate how you will go about helping them solve the problem.

Next Steps:

  • Take the first of your identified target markets(if there is more than one) and decide the following:
  1. Where does your TM go to get advice (internet, friends, other attorneys, etc.)
  2. What does your TM read?
  3. What other interests does your TM have?
  4. What causes your TM stress?
  5. Can you identify which age group most of your TMs fall into?
  6. Is your TM within a certain financial baseline? what?
  7. Where does your TM spent most of his/her time?

Continue to do this and add more questions about the details of your TM until you feel like you really know their needs. Then do this with all your identified TMs.

THIS WILL BE THE BASIS OF YOUR MARKETING PLAN. MUCH MORE TO GO. STAY TUNED FOR NEXT WEEK WHEN WE WILL GO INTO HOW TO ACTUALLY LOCATE YOUR TMs AND HOW TO “TOUCH” THEM!

WHAT’S YOUR TARGET MARKET?

AT A RECENT SEMINAR FOR LAWYERS, I MENTIONED THE IMPORTANCE OF KNOWING YOUR TARGET MARKET. THE RESPONSE I GOT WAS “WHAT IS A TARGET MARKET?”

Target Market Means Aiming Strategy At Consumers Targeted

Since this is the basis of all marketing, I thought it would be appropriate to spend some time talking about what is a target market and how to locate yours!

A TARGET MARKET IS FIRST OF ALL:

  • Your best referral base
  • The focus of your marketing
  • Those sources that have the best possibility of directly becoming your client or referring clients to you (known as your “Gatekeepers”)
  • A good target market limits the number of cases you don’t want and increases the number you do want.

HOW YOU DEFINE YOUR TARGET MARKET:

  • Start with your mission statement.  What needs are you fulfilling for potential clients? Say for instance your mission statement is: Providing exceptional service to people who have been injured on the job, while maintaining  the highest professional standards, then your target market is people who have a work injury, with the expectation of those who might be a bit shady or not being truthful.
  • Now let’s change that to Providing exceptional service to people who are seriously injured on the job, etc.  Can you see that now you are limiting yourself to only seriously injured clients? Your target market is now narrower.
  • A clear, clean and precise mission statement is necessary to define your market.

HOW DO YOU IDENTIFY THE ACTUAL TARGET PEOPLE TO WHOM YOU WILL SPEND YOUR MARKETING TIME AND DOLLARS ON?

  • Your best referral base is your old clients because they have been within your target market because you have been able to help them.
  • The next best referral source for many practices is other lawyers. Perhaps you do cross referrals with these lawyers. Other lawyers refer to you because they have a clear idea of what you do and that you are ethical and very competent (also they don’t want to be named as a co-defendant in a malpractice action! )They also know you would support and refer to them if you have the opportunity.
  • Gatekeepers beside other lawyers are also in your target market.  Sometimes these are your family members or someone that your target market interacts with.  An example is a Marriage and Family Counselor who needs referrals for Family Law Attorneys and the lawyers who also needs referrals to counselors for their client. This is maximum cross-referring.

WHAT DO YOU DO AFTER YOU HAVE IDENTIFIED YOUR TARGET MARKET(S):

  • Now you need to put all their contact information into guess what? YOUR CONTACTS
  • I suggest you make three lists of contacts. One is A for people you know will refer to you.  This includes old clients and lawyers. Second one is labeled B and is people who you have met and might refer to you. Last is C with who you have a casual relationship but who you don’t want to forget you. Outlook will do this for you with different colors.
  • Important technique is to keep these people on your radar. The As at least 4 times a year. Bs at least twice and Cs at least once.
  • At this point you will also “Cherry-pick” the people who fit in your target market but haven’t produced yet. Here is where you spend some time and money on reaching out to them. What do they read? How can you provide value to them? Does your website SPEAK to your target market? Does it invite potential clients to call you? There’s volumes on this subject but once you have developed your real target market, you won’t waste time and money trying to get to people on board who will never refer to you.  As my friend says:  Don’t go to the Hardware Store to buy a Hamburger.
  • Hint: The best marketing tool I ever used was sending Birthday Cards to old and present clients. Don’t do it to lawyers because they are jaded and can’t believe you really want them to have a Happy Birthday but clients are different…..as long as you are sincere. One client told me it was the only birthday card he got!

SO NOW YOU AT LEAST HAVE SOME IDEA WHAT A TARGET MARKET IS.  Please feel free to contact me for a 30 minute complimentary consultation to help you with this if you want to discuss this further.  

WHY SOLOS DON’T MARKET EFFECTIVELY

THEY ARE SCARED AT SOME LEVEL

I know you don’t want to hear this, but there are many attorneys who don’t really want to market themselves or their firm out of pure fear.  Unfortunately, solo attorneys don’t have a choice and have to market their services or be working at a severe disadvantage.

Introverts especially don’t like to feel that they are “imposing” on others.  So let’s look at some of the reasons that solos may be afraid to even do a marketing plan for their firm.

  • they feel their services are not worthy
  • they think that they might offend someone by asking for business
  • they think that they are entitled to business without having to extend themselves
  • they are afraid of the time it takes to market correctly
  • they don’t like to plan because then they have to try to meet goals
  • they don’t buy the notion that every solo has to be a marketing guru
  • they think that they don’t know how or have the skills to market

This last one leads to real trouble because frequently solos will spend big dollars to hire someone to market for them.  Unfortunately, this only really works when the attorney knows how to market and exactly what he wants the outcome of the relationship with the “marketer” to be.

In other words, it is the preplanning of an entire marketing campaign that coordinates the various outlets (Linkedin, Avvo, website, blog, networking) with a  targeting of your specific market that reduces the mistakes and overspending.  Read my previous three blogs to get even more information.

If you are unsure how to market or your marketing is not working, it’s time to review what you are doing and to revise your marketing plan (or get one LOL). In this economic climate, the best way to do this is to not only take into consideration how you want to market, but what this diverse culture needs.  Marketing to millennials is different from the people in Generation X, let alone Y.

GOT YOUR ATTENTION?  HOW ABOUT IMMEDIATELY REVIEWING OR CREATING A SOLID MARKETING PLAN FOR YOUR FIRM. CALL ME IF YOU NEED HELP WITH THIS.  I HAVE SUCCESSFULLY HELPED AT LEAST 100 LAWYERS WITH THIS!

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. 

GET CREATIVE WITH YOUR TARGET MARKET (think outside the box)

 

So you have taken a week to absorb my last blog and to reflect on EXACTLY who your target market(s) is. Next………

I’m sure you’ve been told the next step is to find out where your target market hangs out, what they read, etc.

FORGET THAT: START TO GET CREATIVE WITH THIS.

  • First, step into their shoes.  Again let’s take the example from last week about the probate, wills, trust attorney. If you were to target market(TM) the young family market, pretend you have just started a family(or remember when you did) and begin a journal about what your concerns are.  I think you will find Mothers have different worries than Fathers.  Also people who are starting their families later in life are in a different situation.   Think about any differences in concerns for that age group? Write this in your journal.
  • Instead of just finding out what the TM is reading, read it yourself.  Buy a parent magazine and see what the subjects are about.  Check out Amazon and find out what books young families s are buying. Read them. Put the information you find out in a separate part of your journal.
  • If you know a new family, interview them. Tell them you are writing an article on what worries new parents the most. To make this sincere and legitimate, you are going to also have to write the article as well, which is a good thing.

These are just a few ideas that I thought of to start thinking outside the box.  I’m sure you will come up with many more once you stop thinking in only the traditional way.

THE NEXT STEP: Believe it or not, is to start formulating your Business Mission Statement. 

You can go to the internet and find instructions about how to formulate a good mission statement.  I suggest you have both a business and a different personal mission statement. They will overlap somewhat but separating them seems to make more sense to attorneys.

Once your business mission statement is completed, you will use it as the basis for all further marketing including your LinkedIn profile, Website, advertising and all written communication.  Even a shortened version on your stationery!

Remember good mission statements are sincere and filled with real promises that you will fulfill.  Not just what you think you should be saying but how you plan on being of value to your clients.

Let me demonstrate using our example above.

BAD “I am a highly experienced and gifted attorney who will fulfill your every wish in the end of life documents I draft for you.” (this doesn’t tell the reader what needs the attorney is satisfying and is much too self serving and overblown. Additionally, the term, end of life, is scary.)

GOOD  “ A firm dedicated to helping you fulfill your wishes to have a secure and accurate distribution of your assets”(the word accurate is not exactly right, but best I can do right now). ( You can see the difference in that this ones speaks directly to the potential client and tell him/her your promise.)

This gives you enough to think about and implement next week.  Remember, I will be writing at least four more blogs on Solo Marketing helpful information. If you actually implement these new approaches you should see results in about three to six months.  Let me know how it is working for you.

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.

HOME OFFICE OR OFFICE, OFFICE?

One of the most frequent questions client ask is : ” Can I save money by having my office in my home?”

The answer is WELL, MAYBE.

Best to give this one a lot of thought before you go forward with hanging your shingle on your front porch.  First of all, it is more than likely that clients will know your home address at some time, even if you meet them at a coffee shop.  Certainly most of the time this is OK until you get that client from (you know where).  Then you are not protected from all kinds of tactics including stalking and harassing you.  Remember this is why attorneys rip off the address labels on magazines that they bring from home for their offices.

You can certainly have a mail box address which can appear as a real street address and this may help.  Also inexpensive “group” offices which allow you to use their address and facilities on a monthly basis can give you some protection.

More importantly, you need to think about how this all looks to your clients.  If your practice is Probate and Wills, you could offer to go to the client’s  homes, especially if they are elderly.  However, if you have a substantial client that you are doing long term estate planning and business trusts, etc. you  really can’t meet in a coffee shop.  If your goal is to attract these kinds of clients and your marketing is focused there, maybe biting the bullet and getting a shared office at least would be more feasible.

If you do decide to have your practice in your home, be careful how to describe where you are located on your Website.  Many people choose their attorney by where they live.  If you have a group office, you can put that address there and meet there, but how do you describe where you are if you are meeting them in a coffee shop?  Some attorneys put “ by appointment” but that is also confusing.  You can offer to come to their home but , as said above, that may turn off your larger clients.

Home offices are really best suited to practices which don’t involve much client contact such as Appeals and International Business which can be done mostly by internet.

Certainly, some attorneys are able to work out of their homes as they keep their practices small and don’t need much help, but you can see it is not an easy task.  Lastly, look around your home and decide exactly where you are going to have your office.  Do you have a separate room or are you doing this in your living room?  Is it quiet? Do you have enough space to have a copier, computer and filing cabinets?  Do you work well  in this environment or are you easily distracted?  All of these can be obstacles to a productive practice.  You are going to have to be rigid in your scheduling of time.  Is working in the evenings going to be a no no?  Solos have to put in anywhere from 45-55 hours a week setting up, marketing , networking and then doing legal work for at least 2 years to successfully launch  a business, whether its in their home or office.  Be truthful and answer if you can do that and you will save yourself a lot of stress and heartache.

Last, take to your CPA and see what the tax ramifications are with home offices.  Good advice here can save you heart ache later.

Best of luck to you in whatever you decide and let me know your experiences!

3 KEYS TO OVERCOMING ANY CHALLENGE IN YOUR LEGAL CAREER

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to know how to meet any challenge you might have in your career? Will keep tuned and in to two or three more blogs, I’m going to give you a system to approach how you deal with obstacles which come up in your work.  So print out this blog or save it and refer back to it when you are feeling stuck.

First, You will need to identify the KIND of challenge you are facing. Some of the more obvious ones are:

  • Financial/ not enough income
  • Enjoyment
  • Not enough personal time
  • Not happy with area of law practing
  • Don’t know how to market
  • Feeling lonely
  • Anxiety/stress
  • Depression
  • Too much work or too little work
  • Time Management

These are only a few challenges but this is where you start. The better you can define the actual challenge , the more success you will have overcoming it.

Asking yourself: Why is it a challenge for me is the next step to answer. The more information that you can find out about the fears or blocks that you are experiencing around the challenge will help you to really get down to the  nut of the challenge.  Doing this step may even show up as that your challenge is something else.  Say for instance, you are having trouble with your assistant.  He/She is showing up late to work, spends time on personal errands and generally doesn’t support your work.  On the other hand, he/she is very intelligent, a distant relative and his/her salary demand is very low.  So at this point you see the challenge as being stuck trying to make a decision about what to do next.

But what if the real challenge is that you are unwilling to be a real business person and look at your bottom line? The fear of having to face the fact that this person is not supporting your business and that it would take a tremendous amount of mentoring, teaching and supervision to change this is the real problem.

You can see how getting to the correct, specific challenge you are facing is the FIRST STEP.

We’ll get to what to do with this information with next week’s blog…..SO STAY TUNED! 

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?_____________________________________
______________________________________________________________________________

WHAT RESULTS DO YOU WANT?

If you can decide this upfront, you can get whatever you want or need.  It’s as simple as that. 

The catch is that you have to come up with a wished for result that is reasonable and available.  I can’t ask that the result I want is to become a star ballerina within a year’s time (or a life time) because that is not reasonable nor achievable for me.  I could ask, however, that I become a good salsa dancer in a year’s time and that is achievable if I am willing to plan carefully and be committed to my goal.

You ask, how is this different from setting a goal?  Good question. Answer is that you have an “end” to work back from and are clear about what you want.  This makes goal setting much easier and more rewarding because you know exactly what you want the goal to materialize into.

Try this out with your New Years Resolutions.  Exercise is usually one of the biggies in this area.  End result might be that you want to be able to enter a half marathon in a year.  That result will then put you on a goal track to achieve the endurance to do it.  Can you see why you might get a bigger commitment to exercise if you see yourself running a marathon at the end rather than just forcing yourself to go to the gym?

THINK BIG.  I am finding more and more in my coaching practice that clients aren’t thinking on a big enough scale. It’s just as easy to plan for a 50% increase in revenue as it is to set up goals for a 10% increase.  It might be less scary to go for a lower figure but you are more likely to succeed by shooting higher. There is still success in reaching a 30% goal and adding a 20% goal the next time.

RIGHT NOW take pen and paper or iPad and decide one result you want in the next three months.  Write that result down and look at it at least once a day.  Tell it to one person.  Send it to me. I’d like to see it.  I guarantee that just doing this step will excite a few of those pesky neurons to act.

HAVE A HAPPY AND HEALTHY HOLIDAY AND I WILL BE BACK BLOGGING ABOUT JANUARY 10TH. 

***One of your New Years Resolution is to set up a 15 minute conversation to see if we might be a good fit to collaborate on your future as a better lawyer.

See my website for directions on how to do this. My Website