Friday, January 30, 2015

Relationships, Not Screen Time, Are The Key To Business Development

You might think that Sam Glover is an anti-social media Luddite when you read the title of his latest post, 4 Things to Do Before You Spend a Dollar on Online Marketing. But he's not: his piece is less a critique of online marketing than a reminder to leverage your existing relationships - with friends, current and former clients, referral sources, and the like - before you plop down any hard-earned cash on the newest, coolest, shiniest digital tool. Because relationships, not screen time, will get you more work:
Stay in touch with your former clients. And no, adding them to your email list and sending a holiday care do not constitute staying in touch (although they are better than nothing, if only a little). Take some time to consider what you could do for former clients that would keep them connected to you and your firm. [...] Be familiar enough that when they need more legal work or when someone asks them for a referral, you are the first person they think of.
Read the post. Step away from the computer. And start spending your money wisely.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Tweeting and Blogging and Posting, Oh My! Let The Master Guide You

Whether you're taking tentative first steps on Twitter, or looking for ways to drive readers to your established law blog, you'll find practical pointers for creating and maintaining a valuable online presence in Guy Kawasaki's How to Integrate Social Media and Blogging from The Art of Social Media. Kawasaki's one of the masters of social media marketing, so his post on "us[ing] a blog to enrich your social media ... and ... social media to promote your blog," is full of valuable - and effective - tips for connecting your written work with the people you need to reach:
  • If I had a choice between someone following us on a social-media platform or subscribing to our emails, I would pick the an email subscription any day.
  • [O]f all content, you should share your own blog posts. If a blog post is not worth sharing, it’s not worth writing.
  • Include links to your social-media accounts on your blog so that people can easily follow you. If your blog is interesting, people will follow you on social media, and if your social media is interesting, people will read your blog.
 Read the post. Then get tweeting. And blogging. And posting. Oh my.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

When The Best Way To Stay Focused Is Saying "No"

It's hard to say "no," explains Tim Harford in "The power of saying no." Nevertheless, it's important to get better at saying it. Not just because you cannot possible accomplish everything you're asked to do - that much you know. But there's a significant opportunity cost that accompanies every "sure, I can help:" all the other things you'll have to give up to fulfill the new request.

What does this have to do with business development? Just this: every time you decide to chase down a new target, develop a new plan, pursue a new objective without exhausting your efforts on the clients, industries, and targets you've already determined to be valuable to your practice, you've just thrown away all the time and effort you've spent on those initiatives. Of course you need to be opportunistic. But not at the cost of your long-term goals. Here's how Harford recommends you keep on track:
Adopt a rule that no new task can be deferred: if accepted, it must be the new priority. Last come, first served. The immediate consequence is that no project may be taken on unless it’s worth dropping everything to work on it.
Read the post. Start saying "no" to random acts of business development.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Jimmy Fallon + Content Marketing = Watch and Learn

Lawyers can learn a lot about content marketing from Jimmy Fallon, writes Adrian Lurssen in Is Jimmy Fallon the King of Content Marketing?. For starters, Fallon's distribution of his material on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and other channels - and the millions of subscribers he's attracted - clearly demonstrates why lawyers must share their work in the places where their clients and potential clients hang out. Another lesson? Give the people what they want (to share):
What do you have to offer that addresses what people really need? Build a content plan around the answer to that question. Again, this is as true for a celebrity comedian as it is for a technology lawyer who solves the problems of, say, startup entrepreneurs, or an accountant who makes sense of financial matters for people who are busy raising families, planning vacations, saving for retirement.
Read the post. Then get to work on your content.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Do You Know How Your Clients Define "Value"?

Like every business, writes Bruce MacEwen in What's Value? Answer One Question, in law there is room for the "sell it for more" firms (the equivalent of Ritz-Carlton and BMW), just like there is room for the "make it for less" ones (think Ikea and Motel 6). But it only works if you're defining "value" in exactly the same terms as your clients, something very few firms are able to do successfully. And that means that everybody else is fighting for the same clients in the middle:
... the middle market is an extremely tough place to survive and thrive, precisely because it is so densely populated with law firms which, to many clients, are indistinguishable from yours.
For MacEwen, the key to success in this "awkward in-between space" is giving your client a different kind of value than "best" or "cheapest," precisely because that value is so hard to define. Read the post. Then call your clients.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Don't Be a Jerk, and Other Tips for Promoting Yourself

There's a fine line between ensuring that your skills and experience are recognized, and coming across as an arrogant braggart, writes Dorie Clark in How to Promote Yourself Without Looking Like a Jerk. One way to avoid crossing it? Be humble:
... even when you’re promoting yourself, it’s essential to express humility. That doesn’t in any way mean hiding your abilities. However, it does require being sensitive to the fact that some accomplishments may make others feel jealous or inadequate, and you don’t want to appear glib or self-congratulatory.
Read the post. Take Clark's advice. Because nobody likes to talk to a jerk...

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Fill In The Blank: In 2015, I Resolve To __________

Still struggling with your resolutions for the coming year? Matt Homann's latest post on the [non]billable hour has for all the "resolution inspiration" you'll ever need.

Homann has compiled ten of his favorite posts (from the more than 100 he has written) for lawyers and firms on setting - and achieving - the right kind of goals, those that will make you and your clients happier and calmer and better. And they're all worth reading. Our favorite? "Resolve to get less business:"
If too much income comes from clients you hate serving, find a different practice area or a different job.
Read the post. Resolve to change for the better this year.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

What Do You Call a 20-Year Relationship With Your Clients? A Good Start

When you're building your practice, stay away from the "fire and forget" work, writes Keith Lee, founder of Associate's Mind, in How To Build A 20 Year Relationship With Your Clients. Instead, focus on building a long-lasting relationship with your clients, providing customized, high-quality products and services that they'll brag about. Like apparel companies Gramicci and American Giant:
Gramicci built a relationship with me by providing a product that has lasted decades. American Giant wants to build that same sort of relationship. They’ve told me – everyone – that when you buy their products you buy them for life. These relationships are built on a high degree of quality that encourage me to place my trust in their products.
Read the post. Turn your clients into advocates and ambassadors for your work.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Secret of Client Development?

The secret of client development really isn't a secret. It's straight-up, hard-working, honest to goodness client service. Service that would make your mother proud, that makes your best clients pick up the phone to tell their friends about they great lawyer they've hired.

That's why you need to read Dan Hull's "world-famous and annoying but highly correct, inspirational and soulful" 12 Rules of Client Service:
The client is the main event.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Does Your Online Marketing Strike Like Lightning?

Will 2015 be the year you start using social media to build relationships? Yes, if you read Jayne Navarre's Six Can’t-Miss Plays to Supercharge Your Online Marketing in 2015. It's full of practical pointers on why you need to be online and how to do it right. Like this:
To establish meaningful connections, try humanizing your presence and stop speaking at your audience, rather speak with them.
Read the post. Supercharge your online marketing. And make 2015 the year your social media efforts pay off.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

In This Future of the Legal Profession, The Only Constant Is Change

One thing is certain: evolution in the legal profession is true whether you believe in it or not. Because it is truly happening, write the authors of the 2015 Citibank Hildebrandt Client Advisory (pdf), who note:
Demand for law firm services appears to be growing at a more modest pace than the demand for legal services.
Such a statement would have been unthinkable in a not-too-distant past. Today, it just sets up a valuable discussion on the future of the legal profession, or as it's called in the report: "What It Takes To Be a Successful Firm:"

  1. An Increasing Focus on Margin Growth vs. Just Revenue Growth
  2. Growing Sophistication on How to Price and Manage the Delivery of Legal Services
  3. A Different Leverage Model
  4. Leveraging Technology
  5. An Increased Focus on Partner Performance and Skillset
  6. A strategic approach to practice and client succession
  7. Differentiating the Brand
  8. Client Centricity
  9. Leveraging the Platform
  10. Management of the Talent Pipeline
  11. Leadership in a Volatile Market

Read the report. Prepare for your future.

(Hat-tip to Ron Friedmann)

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Read This To Become A Better Writer

Writing is hard work, but Gregory Ciotti's 10 Quick Tips for Better Business Writing just might make it a little easier. And easier to read. Ciotti has assembled ten practical points for anyone who writes - to demonstrate expertise, to communicate ideas, to tell stories. And everyone else, too. It's solid advice you'd do well to take:
Writing is not flaunting your vocabulary... [It] is not meant to prove ownership of a thesaurus.
Read the post. Then get writing.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

It's Time for A Marketing Checkup. Here's What You Need To Do

The new year is a perfect time to assess your business development efforts, writes Sally Schmidt in Take Stock of Your Marketing and Business Development Activities. You know she's right.

But you may not know what to do, or or even how to evaluate what you're doing. That's why you need to read Schmidt's post. Schmidt serves up a series of questions, about the people you frequent, the organizations you join, the speaking and writing you do, that will send you down the path of intentional marketing and business development:
There will always be people who ask you to lunch, and there will always be folks who like to be wined and dined. The question is, are you finding benefit from these encounters? . . . The benefit can’t always be measured in terms of business generated, but there should be some mutual advantage to the relationship. For example:
  • Are you learning new things when you get together?
  • Is the person a potential source of work or other opportunities (e.g., visibility or introductions)?
  • Can this contact be helpful to your clients in some capacity?
Read the post. Decide what's working, what isn't, and what you need to change. The get to it, before the new year gets away from you.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Don't Let Exceptionalism Keep You From Improving Your Revenue Stream

Lawyers tend to get stuck on law practice exceptionalism, "the belief that nearly every aspect of the practice of law is unique and must be considered in isolation from what we see elsewhere," writes Dennis Kennedy in The Productization of Legal Services. And that can keep them from adopting new strategics and techniques that will raise the bottom line. But it doesn't have to be that way:
Consider these examples:
  • Ernst & Young creates and publishes a popular (as I write this, in the top 100 among taxation books on Amazon) and affordable ($24.95) annual tax guide for the public.
  • Attorney Larry Katzenstein creates and sells a widely used software program called Tiger Tables that computes actuarial factors for tax calculations and planning.
  • A prominent technology company sought out a law firm to create a document assembly application for standard agreements that the company would license on an annual subscription basis.
  • A law firm produces training videos on legal topics for sale to the public.
  • A law firm packages research information updated on an annual basis as a subscription offering.
At the heart of each example is adapting a service or set of services traditionally done by time-based billing for a single or limited number of clients into an “information product” that can be licensed or sold to a much larger audience than the client base. The result is a new revenue stream that can be added on to the traditional services model. In other professions, this approach is often referred to as “making money while you sleep.”
Kennedy outlines a nine-step process for "productizing" legal services that can help you supplement and even enhance traditional services. Read the post. Try something new.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Got What It Takes to Join the Client Service A-Team?

What makes the 30 law firms that deliver "the absolute best client service" different from the 650 competitors they outperformed? For starters, they have established formal, systematic client feedback programs. And they've incorporated client service metrics directly into their strategic plans. And, writes BTI Consulting's Mad Clientist in 7 Lessons from the Client Service A-Team, they've adopted five other service practices to make sure their clients keep coming back. And so can you:
The good news—no law firm engages in all 7 lessons. You will benefit from focusing on even a single one. Jump in, pick one, start today.
Take a lesson from the A-Team. Better yet: take seven lessons from them. Read the post, and start changing the way you think about and manage client service. Your clients - and your partners - will thank you.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Do Your Marketing Efforts Need a Shot of Courage?

Lawyers are extremely good at giving advice, writes Deborah McMurray in What Courage Looks Like In A Law Firm, because that's what clients want and need. Not analysis, not waffling, not the middle-of-the-road, safe, low-stakes position. But for many, that clear-headed, sharp-witted, pragmatic approach gets lost when they turn to marketing and business development:
The daring lawyer who is a zealous and outspoken advocate for his client's position becomes afraid to stand out or be memorable when it comes to positioning strategy, branding design, messaging, even a business development approach that could help him win a new client. 
For McMurray, it's about courage, about infusing the courage and heart and passion that lawyers have - for their work, for their clients, for their personal brand and everything they stand for - into their marketing strategy. Read the post. Then take McMurray's advice:
Be as committed, pragmatic and driven in your marketing choices as you are in representing your clients. I promise, it will be rewarded. 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Maybe The Reason Your CMO Is Struggling Is You...

Looking to hire a chief marketing officer in your firm? Or maybe you'd like to make better use of the one already on the payroll? Either way, you'll want to read Tim Corcoran's Seven Reasons Why You Have Not Yet Found the Right CMO in The Legal Intelligencer (registration required). It's a useful look at why law firm leaders might be dissatisfied with CMOs and CMO candidates. And the answers may surprise you (spoiler alert: it's probably not the marketer):
"It's certainly plausible that some candidates who rose to senior-level law firm positions during times of plenty now face a daunting task of adapting to a much more competitive market. But it's also clear that many law firm leaders have a poor understanding of the kind of marketing support they need."
The good news? Corcoran provides practical advice for improving the process of identifying, training, and leading marketing directors. Read the post.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Is Your Website a Waste of Time and Money?

Sure, you've got a website. But that isn't enough, writes Cari Twitchell in 8 Best Practices for Law Firm Website Content at Lawyerist.com:
"If your website content does not engage and convert, then your website is a waste of time and money."
What to do? Read Twitchell's post, for starters. Her best practices (Stop using legalese. Tell your readers what to do. Write for a mobile audience.) will put you on the road to an engaging - and readable - website. One that's both easy to read AND focused on the very information your prospective clients seek.

Stop wasting your money - and your reader's time. Read the post. Then fix your website.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Sometimes The Best Thing You Can Say To A Client Is "This Won't Cost You A Dime"

Looking for a way to stand out? Try giving your client something for nothing. Pam Woldow and Doug Richardson call it "strategic altruism" in their post The Powerful Value of Providing Something for Nothing on Woldow's blog At The Intersection. I call it good business sense. Whatever you call it, you'd do well to heed their advice:
“Not everything in life has to be a billable event. There are times when you’ll help your cause most by providing value and not charging the client.”
Read the post. Give something away. Build a reputation as a "uniquely helpful and client-focused lawyer." Sure sounds like smart idea, doesn't it?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

"Step Into Your Client's Shoes" & Other Practical Advice

Suzanne Kearns’ “5 New Year’s Resolutions to Consider for Your Business” on the Intuit Small Business Blog. Today’s post comes from an unlikely source, but that might be the very reason you should read it. Because it isn’t written for lawyers. It’s written for anyone running a business, for anyone who has customers and employees and goals and expectations. Who forgets sometimes that what she is doing often means the difference between success and failure for the people she’s doing it for. That the end game isn’t her product – the contract or the argument or the agreement – but what the client does with it.

“Step into your customer’s shoes,” writes Kearns. That’s solid advice, because it forces you to look at the context for your work, the world surrounding your client, the pressures he faces every day, the problems that he wants you to make go away. And so are the other four resolutions she proposes. Read the post. Take Kearns' advice. And make 2012 a great year, for your clients, for your employees, for your practice, and for yourself.