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Jan Copley
Certified Practice Advisor
Atticus, Inc.

530 South Lake Avenue, Suite 250
Pasadena, CA 91101
(626) 696-3145
(626) 421-6747 (fax)

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What’s Your Story?

September 12, 2012

Filed under: Marketing — @ 2:35 pm

Do you tell stories? I bet you do. I’ve heard at least one person, Scott Farnsworth, say that “stories are our native language.” I absolutely believe it.

Why should you tell a story? Think about it — if you attend a presentation, what do you remember afterward? If you’re like me, you remember (1) if the speaker was funny; and (2) the stories the speaker told. It’s only through the stories that I remember the legal-technical discussion or whatever the talk was about.

Use stories to market yourself. Have you thought about using stories as a marketing tool? Telling stories is one way to make you memorable, to both referral sources and prospective clients. You can use a story to tell how things can go wrong; how you’ve been able to craft a great solution for someone; and to make you look human. And, because stories are memorable, the people who hear them will remember you.

How do you tell a story? Lawyers are educated, literate, articulate people, so it surprises me when I talk to attorneys who are flustered by the concept of telling a story and can’t quite figure out how to do it. So, I thought I’d pass along some pointers:

    1. Keep it simple. To be effective, a story should have a point — a punch line, if you will — and it shouldn’t take very long to get to the conclusion. Otherwise, the listener will lose interest. So, when you tell a story, don’t wander around in the details; hone your stories so you get your point across quickly.

    2. Only one point to a story. As lawyers, we like to tell people everything we know. Although that’s a wonderful, generous trait, what you are saying can be quite confusing to a listener. So, as tempting as it may be to throw in lots of information, construct each of your stories so there’s only one point to each of them.

    3. The three key things. There are three crucial elements to a story: (1) a protagonist; (2) conflict; and (3) resolution. Keep this in mind when you think of stories to tell people.

    4. Tell more than horror stories. As lawyers, our job, by and large, is to clean up other people’s messes. We love to tell horror stories. And, although it’s fun and can be useful to talk about how things have gone wrong, sometimes it’s more effective to tell a story in which you enabled something to go right. I’m sure you’ve had some successes — why not tell your stories about them?

Please let me know how this helps you!

Has Marketing Really Changed That Much? Maybe Yes, Maybe No…

August 24, 2012

Filed under: Marketing — @ 1:42 pm

A new post on the Harvard Business Review Customer Intelligence website, “Marketing is Dead” by Bill Lee, has created a discussion among my fellow Atticus practice advisors.

In the article, Lee asserts that traditional methods of marketing — “advertising, public relations, branding and corporate communications” — don’t work anymore. Rather, prospective customers “check out product and service information in their own way, often through the Internet and…word-of-mouth or customer reviews.”

Lee advocates four ways for businesses to adapt to “the new model of marketing:”

    1. Restore community marketing. This means using marketing resources to generate customer reviews, replicating the experience someone has when he/she asks a neighbor for a recommendation.

    2. Find your customer influencers. For attorneys, very often a new client results from a referral from another professional. Lee suggests that you find these influencers “and give them something great to talk about.”

    3. Help them build social capital. The suggestion here is that rather than rewarding someone with a gift for a referral, try helping them build their social capital. That means retweeting something the person says, liking the person’s Facebook page, and posting a good peer review on the appropriate website.

    4. Get your customer advocates involved in the solution you provide. This means asking your customers and influencers for their suggestions about getting the word out about you.

So why has this caused a stir among people who advise lawyers about marketing? Because it’s different from what we’ve been saying. We suggest that attorneys expend a significant portion of their marketing efforts with face-to-face interactions with referral sources, using tools such as the Laser Talk, The Interview, and effective stories.

But, as I think about it, I’m not sure the new marketing cancels out the old. Yes, we must adjust our marketing to take advantage of the Internet and Social Media. If we want to reach an end consumer, it’s important to keep up our presences on Avvo and Yelp. Ask your satisfied clients to say nice things about you.

But, if you are, in Lee’s words, “finding your customer influencers,” then I think face-to-face referral source marketing still makes lots of sense. If your Social Media marketing reaches one new client, great. However, if you develop a relationship with an influencer who can refer multiple clients to you — a CPA, say, or a real estate agent — then that person is hugely valuable to your practice. And the only way to develop a relationship with someone to the extent that he/she will refer work your way is to for the two of you to get to know, like and trust each other. And the only way to do that is to meet with that person.

So, it goes back to what I tell my clients about creating a successful law business — you have to do it all. That means using Social Media tools to reach potential customers, but also using traditional methods with your influencers.

Please let me know how this helps you!

How Do You Do?

May 23, 2012

Filed under: Marketing — @ 1:12 pm

If you’re at a networking meeting, or when you are introduced to someone and you are asked what you do, what do you say about yourself? Do you respond, “I’m an attorney”?

How boring is that?

The idea behind introducing yourself is to be memorable. I’m sorry, but saying that you’re a lawyer, without saying anything else is not a good way to ensure that someone will remember you.

So, what do you do?

Here at Atticus, we suggest you create what we call your “Laser Talk.” Other people might call it your elevator speech. That is, figure out a way to introduce yourself very briefly — say, during an elevator ride — in a way that will be interesting and so the person you’re talking to will remember you and want to learn more about you.

Crafting a memorable Laser Talk is not easy. It requires that you to be clear about the kind of people you like to work with, how you help them, and what makes you special — and to say all that in a couple of sentences. Fortunately, I have a formula to help you get started:

    I work with [kind of client] who wants to [client goal]. I do this by [say how]. What’s unique about me is that [say why you’re special].

So, for example, when I was practicing as an estate planning attorney, I used the following as my Laser Talk:

    My job as a lawyer is to help caring people protect their families and their money. I do this by helping my clients create plans that really work. What’s unique about my practice is that my team and I treat you with the respect and individual attention you deserve.

Once you’ve roughed out your Laser Talk, try it out on people you know (if your spouse laughs at you, you probably need to rework it).

Over time and with practice, you’ll craft a Laser Talk that truly reflects who you are and what you do. Then, when you introduce yourself, you’ll stand out from the crowd.

Please let me know how this helps you!

Your Monthly Marketing Calendar – Part 2

May 18, 2012

Filed under: Follow-Up Process,Marketing,Referrals — @ 1:10 pm

In my previous posting, I wrote about creating your monthly marketing calendar. I suggested you determine the types and number of marketing activities you want to accomplish each week. Then, your job is to actually do what you think you should do; I suggested you get someone to hold you accountable to your marketing goals.

It occurred to me that what I’m talking about might make more sense if you could see a sample marketing calendar. So, let’s take a hypothetical attorney, who has decided he/she wants to accomplish the following activities during the course of a week:

  • Two letters to referral sources with interesting information
  • Two face-to-face meetings with potential referral sources
  • Five follow-up calls
  • One networking event
  • Two blog postings
  • One thank-you note

Using these parameters, the attorney’s weekly marketing calendar might look something like this:

In this case, our attorney has met twelve of his/her thirteen goals for the week. Not bad!

Please let me know how this helps you!

Your Monthly Marketing Calendar

May 16, 2012

Filed under: Follow-Up Process,Marketing,Referrals — @ 6:03 pm

For many of us, our marketing efforts could aptly be described as “random acts of lunch.” And, of course, we get the results that we put into our efforts — random referrals from people who might think of us.

One of the problems I had when I was practicing was figuring out what I should be doing other than taking potential referral sources to lunch. I’ve previously written about the importance of following up with people.

Your marketing plan. But, what really works is having a marketing plan — a system to do certain things. Well and good, but plans aren’t worth anything unless they’re implemented. So, I’m going to suggest that you set some goals and deadlines for your marketing activities.

What marketing activities are we talking about? First, think of all the marketing things you should be doing, and how many of each you should do during the course of a month. Your activities might include:

  • Face-to-face meetings with potential referral sources
  • Sending interesting information to potential referral sources
  • Making follow-up calls
  • Publishing (an article, a blog) and letting people know about it
  • Attending networking meetings
  • Social events
  • Sending thank you notes

Your marketing calendar. Once you’ve created your marketing goals, put them on your calendar and break your monthly activities into weekly activities. Then, track what you’re doing on a weekly basis to make sure you’re keeping up with yourself.

An accountability system helps. If you have accountability issues, ask a team member to check in with you weekly. If you’re like me, you’ll actually do some of the things you should be doing because you’ll be too embarrassed to admit to your employee that you’re letting yourself down.

Be patient! Marketing takes time. After a month or two of tracking your monthly activities, you may think you’re not getting the results you want, but if you keep at it consistently, you’ll develop the relationships — and generate the referrals — you want.

Please let me know how this helps you!

Rules to Market By

March 9, 2012

Filed under: Marketing — @ 2:17 pm

Most of the attorneys I talk to worry about marketing. We’re not sure what it is, much less how to do it. I spend a lot of time with my coaching clients brainstorming about how to generate more work in their practices. WealthCounsel had a webinar on marketing this week, featuring Mark Powers of Atticus. More than 1,000 people signed up!

So, when I saw the entry, “Denny’s 20 Marketing Maxims” on the Attorney at Work blog, I thought it would be useful to pass it along. I’m not sure I agree with all twenty rules, but the following struck me as hugely important:

    1. “Have a marketing plan and follow it.” Hit or miss efforts are seldom as successful as projects that are thought through and implemented.

    2. “Relationships and word-of-mouth are still the best forms of marketing and business development.” You can’t shortcut building relationships, and it takes a relationship for someone to feel comfortable enough to refer work to you. To market successfully, you have to get out and meet people.

Denny missed one very important maxim, however: never, ever, ever, ever stop marketing.

Please let me know how this helps you!

Dealing with the Evil Empire

September 30, 2011

Filed under: Marketing,Practice Management — @ 5:42 pm

The practice of law is changing and, like it or not, we have to deal with it. At the risk of sounding Pollyannaish, sometimes the obstacles we run into might turn into liberating opportunities.

Take the online legal resources, such as LegalZoom, that have sprung up over the past ten years. In some ways such products are threats to our practices because they offer purported legal services at purportedly lower prices. However, are they really a threat? Consider this:

    • In my experience, the do-it-yourselfers who shop based on price do not fully appreciate all we do and the relationships with them can be unrewarding. Maybe these aren’t the kind of people we want to work with anyway.

    • We can make a lot of money cleaning up the messes people create when they try to do it themselves with online legal planning. That’s what I used to tell people when they asked me why they couldn’t just create their estate plan using LegalZoom or Quicken Personal Lawyer. Once I said that, the people who were asking the questions nodded in agreement.

Even Consumer Reports, a cost-conscious publication, recommends in a recent article that people consult with an attorney about their legal problems!

So, what’s the point of this article? Rather than fretting about perceived competition from online resources, think about how they present opportunities to you in the future. Position your practice so you don’t market to the people who shop only on price; also consider marketing your practice as a resource to solve the problems that people themselves create.

Let me know how this helps you!

Your Marketing Front Line

August 24, 2011

Filed under: Marketing — @ 1:11 pm

Who is your most important marketer? The answer is: the person in your office who answers the phone.

A good response and a stupid reply. In “Verizon, Take a Clue from Jet Blue”, an article in yesterday’s Los Angeles Times, we learned the story of two sisters’ experiences with a pair of large companies. The sisters’ mother had just died and sisters needed to make some adjustments to services from each business. One company expressed its condolences and accommodated a sister’s needs; the other company tried to sell more services. Can you guess which company has a cancelled account, and which company now has a loyal customer for life?

Your phone is the gateway to your business. The moral of the story is these experiences arose out of the sisters’ contact with people on the phone. One customer service rep handled the matter well; the other behaved badly. Management was not involved in either encounter. Yet, each encounter will affect the business.

Your team is your most important marketing asset. The same thing applies to your law practice. A client — or potential client — will form and/or revise his or her opinion about your business based upon his or her contact with your support staff. If your receptionist — or, as I prefer to call the position, Director of Client Relations — shows genuine interest in a caller, the caller will have a better impression of the company, and will be more likely to retain you or continue to work with you. On the other hand, if your Director of Client Relations is short or rude, that will adversely affect your business.

Make it clear that your team markets for you. The problem is that most attorneys don’t seem to think in these terms, and don’t convey the importance of proper communication to their team members. So, tell your team members that every time they communicate with someone, they are marketing for your firm. Emphasize that they need to provide a positive experience with every contact they have.

Please let me know how this helps you!

Patience and Lessons From Chicago

July 29, 2011

Filed under: Growing Your Business,Marketing,Practice Management — @ 12:56 pm

I attended the WealthCounsel/Advisors Forum/ElderCounsel “Planning for the Generations” symposium in Chicago last week. This time I went in my new role as an Atticus Practice Advisor, rather than as a practicing attorney. Although I sat in on a couple of legal-technical presentations (I don’t want to lose my edge!), my real job was to chat it up with everyone I met.

It was an interesting experience. I learned a lot about what the attendees are worried about. I also learned about new resources available to us through the various vendors there. I don’t know if I generated any new business.

So, was it worthwhile for me to go? The answer is a resounding yes! Why?

I got a refresher course in an important marketing principal. I keep telling my clients that it takes seven touches to create a relationship. For some reason, I had forgotten this in connection with my own marketing activities. Actually meeting people I’ve previously spoken with only on the phone reminded me of this principle, and also gave me a chance to make one more touch. In other words, we need patience and persistence in all things — especially marketing.

I got some useful feedback. By talking to people, I learned what they are worried about nowadays. As usual, marketing seems to be near the top of the list, but the participants also expressed concerns about conquering new areas of the law — and new technology. It reminded me that change can be hard. Change requires commitment, persistence, and accountability. The conversation also reminded me that if we don’t commit to change, we grow stagnant.

I learned it’s not all gloom and doom. While chatting with my friends and colleagues, I also learned that many of them are doing well. Sometimes professional gatherings can turn into exercises in group paranoia, so it was great to hear people say they are happy. I also heard people — friends, colleagues, and clients — express gratitude for relationships the person and I have developed over time. If that isn’t worth the price of a trip, I don’t know what is!

Please let me know how this is helpful to you!