The Rainmaker Blog

The Rainmaker Blog

Law firm marketing and business development strategies

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5 Lessons on What It Takes to Build a Successful Law Firm

Posted in Law Firm Development, Law Firm Management

5 Lessons on What It Takes to Build a Successful Law FirmOne important lesson you have probably learned by now if you’ve been practicing law for any period of time is that knowing the law is very different from learning how to run a successful law firm. There are lessons that only experience can teach us; my experience of helping more than 18,000 attorneys learn how to build a lifestyle law firm — one that enables to do what you want, when you want — has revealed these 5 key lessons:

  1. Exceptional client service is a competitive advantage. Exceptional client service begins with doing what you say you will do. It becomes a competitive advantage for your firm when it permeates everything – from whom you hire, to how employees are trained, to how you run your firm. There is no replacement for a great client experience.
  2. Your job is to solve problems. People hire lawyers to solve a problem. But everyone’s problems, and their approaches to a solution, differ. You must help them reach their goals using the skills you have by understanding what is important to the client, not on the outcome you necessarily believe is best.
  3. Appearances matter. The minute a prospective client walks in the door, your office environment tells them a story about the level of service they can expect from you. Greet them warmly, offer them a beverage or snack, and don’t make them wait!
  4. Great people make law firms great. Nothing speaks more loudly about your firm than the people that work there. Make every hire a great one, and train your people in how you want your firm represented. Empower them to find solutions for clients and loyalty will follow.
  5. Everyone has a different definition of service. This is an important one. We have lots of clients; some want to talk to us every week, and some want their law firm marketing program to run smoothly without their direct involvement. This is why we tailor all our service offerings to each individual client. They are all important, but they are all different. Learn the differences and how you can meet their individual expectations.

As you plan for 2019, keep these lessons in mind and examine the areas that need improvement within your law firm to reach new levels of success in the new year.

Does Size Matter When it Comes to Law Firm Marketing?

Posted in Law Firm Marketing

Does Size Matter When it Comes to Law Firm Marketing?At some time, you’ve probably been told that it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog (especially you litigators!). So while big firms do have some advantages over small to mid-size firms when it comes to resources available for law firm marketing, my experience in working with more than 18,000 attorneys over the past two decades has shown me that size does not have to matter when it comes to out-marketing your competition.

That said, I think there are four critical factors where the size of the firm does matter when it comes to law firm marketing — but these can be overcome if you have the right tools:

Time.

Usually in a big firm, there is a staff member or a team of people responsible for managing the firm, preparing documents, marketing the firm, and collecting overdue invoices. All the attorneys need to do is practice law and build great relationships with their clients. Most of our clients in smaller firms have to wear 5 to 10 hats every day — from business development, to building relationships with potential referral sources, to meeting with prospects, fulfillment of services, managing a practice, collecting fees and operating the firm.

When it comes to learning how to market and grow their law firm, smaller firms must do it in a compressed time frame and then get back to work. This is why we developed our Rainmaker Retreat, an intensive, deep dive into practical techniques and proven strategies that are specifically designed to help attorneys in small and medium sized firms. It covers over 65 different strategies in a step-by-step fashion that focuses on implementation and taking rapid action to achieve maximum results.

Money.

Many large law firms have a marketing budget bigger than the annual revenues of small law firms whose marketing plans must be designed to be easily implemented on a low cost budget.

We teach our clients one of the best returns on investment a small firm can implement is a monthly e-newsletter. Our clients tell us that almost every time they send out their newsletter, referrals start coming in.

Number of decision makers.

Committees make most marketing decisions at many large firms. Theoretically, I understand the benefit of committees (getting all the interested and vested parties together in the same room and thereby ultimately making a better decision). However, some of the worst decisions (and indecision) I’ve seen have come from committees.

I understand that being the decision maker puts significantly more pressure on the attorney in a smaller practice to make the “right” decision, often based solely on their experience. When you are making a big decision about marketing your law firm, I recommend you assemble your people to get their input, but then take personal responsibility as the owner of the firm and make the best decision you can given the information you have at that time. Taking action immediately and consistently will cover a multitude of sins when it comes to law firm marketing.

Need for immediate ROI.

Large firms can afford to be patient and wait months or even longer before they see a positive return on investment. Smaller law firms require a much shorter timeframe within which to measure their ROI. This may be weeks or a few months, but for most firms several months is simply too long to wait and see if a marketing strategy is going to pay off.

Many of the business development strategies we teach our clients at a Rainmaker Retreat are focused on a shorter timeframe. At the same time, you cannot expect instant results because the clients you get today come from the marketing you did three to six months ago.

Law firm marketing is not magic and it’s not easy! It’s hard work, but part of the reason why some firms are so successful and others are still struggling is because only a relatively few are willing to do the hard work it takes to implement a truly effective marketing strategy. Building a lifestyle law firm is a long-term commitment that has massive dividends down the road.

5 Bad Habits That Inhibit Law Firm Growth

Posted in Law Firm Development, Law Firm Marketing

5 Bad Habits That Inhibit Law Firm GrowthThere are some things you may be doing that, if you quit doing them, would bring you more success when it comes to growing your law firm.

We are approaching another new year quickly. If you have any of these 5 bad habits, resolve to change that in 2019:

  1. Doing the same thing and expecting a different result.

Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity — doing the same thing and expecting a different result — is something we’ve all heard but that few of us take to heart. When it comes to law firm marketing, there are plenty of attorneys out there still doing the same old thing but expecting different or better results. When you open yourself up to new approaches to the same problem — whether it’s lack of leads or converting those leads into appointments — your firm will be better served if you learn what has been working for other law firms and put together a lead generation/lead conversion process for your firm based on proven best practices.

  1. Saying yes to everything and everyone.

We all have the same 24 hours each day in which to make a positive impact on our business and the world. When you say “yes” to one thing, you are also saying “no” to something else. If you say “yes” to every prospect that comes through your firm without determining if they are a good fit, you are likely turning away business that is better for your firm. If you have not yet created an ideal client profile for your firm, make it a goal to do this so you can focus on saying “yes” to clients that you can serve better and who can better serve you by bringing you profitable work.

  1. Striving for perfection.

When it comes to law firm marketing, one of my go-to-mantras has always been, “Done is better than perfect.” Many attorneys struggle with perfectionism, and while this can be a useful trait in the practice of the law, it will not serve you well when it comes to marketing your law firm. You will simply miss too many opportunities if you dither over every semi-colon in a blog post or color scheme on a landing page. Consider your hourly billable rate — your time is much more valuable being spent on profit-making tasks. Work with someone you trust with sterling credentials in law firm marketing. Hold them to your standards but don’t hold your marketing program hostage to indecision or perfectionism.

  1. Procrastination.

We all tend to postpone working on things that are difficult, but those things are often what will contribute the most to our success. When it comes to law firm marketing, attorneys typically put it off because they don’t understand how to do it. If this rings true for you, it’s time to step up and educate yourself. There are a number of valuable marketing workshops, seminars, webinars and books you can use to educate yourself. For a truly immersive experience, attend a Rainmaker Retreat, our 2-day law firm marketing workshop. See what other attorneys have to say about it here.

  1. Believing everything will work out on its own.

Things don’t typically work out on their own; you have to take on the responsibility of making them work. Prospects are not going to suddenly start booking appointments with you unless you have a lead conversion process in place to make that happen. Referrals are not just going to start flooding in without some work on cultivating referral sources. It takes proactive leadership to get things done in every facet of your business.

Law Firm Management: 12 Tips to Inspire Peak Performance in Your People

Posted in Law Firm Management

Law Firm Management: 12 Tips to Inspire Peak Performance in Your PeopleHaving outstanding people working at every level of your law firm is one thing that can truly differentiate you from your competitors and keep clients coming in the door.

Unfortunately, I hear from many attorneys that finding and keeping good people is a major challenge when it comes to law firm management. This is something that bedevils a lot of businesses, not just law firms.

After 25+ years of running several successful businesses, I know the importance of dedicating real effort every day to ensuring that everyone who works for me is motivated to do the best possible job for our clients and our company. Here’s what I’ve learned about motivating people:

  1. Hire good people. You can’t fix stupid, so don’t hire it. Sure, we have all made hiring mistakes — people who interview great but their rubber never meets the road. Learn from those mistakes and put together a process for hiring that ensures you get the best possible people.
  2. Give them freedom. Good people hate being micro-managed, so as soon as they have proven themselves, give your employees the freedom to do their jobs. If they have a great idea for doing something different than the way you’ve always done it, listen. If it makes sense, run with it. Incentivize them for ways to cut costs and serve clients better.
  3. Make it easy for them to do their jobs. The actual work you do is not easy, so why make it more difficult by having outdated systems or processes? There are so many great automated tools out there to make the work process go more smoothly; invest in as many as you can and you will reap the benefits in a better work product from your people.
  4. Get rid of the weak links. Bad employees kill the motivation in good ones. As soon as you discover you have a rotten apple, toss it.
  5. Say thanks: Whether you approach your employees personally, send them a note, or praise them in a staff meeting – it’s important to express your gratitude whenever they’ve done a good job. Saying thanks is one of the simplest yet most effective ways to make your employees feel appreciated.
  6. Do lunch: Nobody will turn down a free meal – and a lunch meeting gives you the opportunity to reward your staff with great food while also bringing everybody together to share their successes, stories and struggles.
  7. Focus on the family: Each of your employees has family members they love and care about. By showing that you value their families, you can cultivate a deeper sense of loyalty with your employees. Some family-based rewards can be as simple as a “free night at the movies” or an all-expenses paid dinner.
  8. Change job titles: Believe it or not, the more inflated the job title the more your employees will work to live up to it. If you hire somebody as a “janitor” he will pick up your trash. But if you hire somebody as a “workplace environmental consultant”, he will keep your office clean and provide insight on how to make things more efficient.
  9. Friendly perks: Flowers, in-office massages, or gym passes can be a great way to reward employees for great work.
  10. Upgraded office: Is there any way you can improve your employee’s office area? A new computer monitor, chair, or printer would go a long way in reminding your employees that they are valuable to your law firm.
  11. Flexible hours: Providing a bit of flexibility is often greeted with increased productivity. Whenever possible, see if you can let your employees tweak their schedule to meet their specific needs – whether it’s a longer lunch or mid-day break to go the gym.
  12. Celebrate! I love to celebrate with the people I work with, whether it’s an informal lunch in the office where we can spend a little downtime just shooting the breeze or it’s a big holiday do. We have a holiday extravaganza every year with lots of great gifts for everyone; not only is it a wonderful way to show your appreciation for the hard work all year, I’ve also found that it really gets everyone fired up for the new year!

No one succeeds alone, so spend the time and effort to motivate your team and you will reap the rewards.

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Free Webinar: How to Find, Train & Retain the Best Talent

You can’t get the lifestyle law firm you’ve always wanted by yourself.  You need Superstars in your organization to make this happen and our free webinar on How to Find, Train and Retain the Best Talent can get you on your way.  You can access it for free and watch it at your convenience.

The webinar is led by Jay Henderson, founder of Real Talent Hiring, and one of the nation’s leading authorities on how to find and hire the right talent to grow your business. Having good people is what separates good law firms from great law firms. If you want to hire better, more productive people, you cannot afford to miss this webinar.

Some of the topics Jay covers include:

  • The 3 P’s of hiring and driving performance
  • The Superstar Profile
  • The Superstar Magnet for attracting talent
  • Best interviewing strategies
  • Testing: Should you test candidates and what to be aware of

Studies show that companies with happy employees are 12% more productive and 20% more profitable than those with unhappy employees.  Once you have a group of Superstars working for you, you will never want to settle for anything less.

Register online now for the free webinar, How to Find, Train and Retain the Best Talent, and start hiring the people you need to succeed!

How to Ensure Your Calls to Action Are Answered

Posted in Lead Conversion

How to Ensure Your Calls to Action Are AnsweredMillions of people purchase products every day because they were enticed to do so through a strong call to action – a Buy It Now, a Limited Time Offer, a Click Here, a Sign-Up Now – whatever the incentive, it moved them to a purchase decision.

Calls to action work for several reasons, chief among them is that it’s human nature to follow instruction. A great call to action is one that creates a sense of urgency in a prospect’s mind, offers a solution to a problem or stimulates a desire. 

A great CTA works when it:

  • Triggers an emotional reaction;
  • Shows exactly how to make a purchase;
  • Creates a sense of urgency to make the purchase;
  • Provides incentives or an offer that is too good to ignore.

There are many ways to integrate a great call to action into your law firm marketing efforts, including:

On your website. Even when you’re selling a service, you should create calls to action on every page of your website. Have a sign-up for a free report, a webinar or e-newsletter on every page.

In your newsletter. If you have a monthly newsletter, you should be featuring a new incentive every month to entice prospects to get in touch with you.

How Free Reports Can Generate Paying Clients

Many attorneys I’ve worked with have heard that free reports are an important component of a law firm marketing strategy.

But most are not sure how or why they are important.

The real value of a free report in law firm Internet marketing is in its role as a quid pro quo.  Potential clients give you some information about themselves in exchange for some valuable legal information on a topic of interest to them.

The information you’re asking for is their contact information. And that is a key first step in beginning a trust-building relationship with them.

But first, you need to make sure your report is worth the valuable information the prospective client has just given you. 

Here are four proven elements of a well-crafted free report:

  1. Addresses issues that people really care about – Remember, clients may not care about legal precedents, but they are very likely to care about how to save money during a divorce.
  2. Uses layman’s language – If they are being completely honest, most people would tell you they prefer reading USA TODAY to the New York Times. While the NYT is a serious paper for serious people, USA TODAY is interesting at the individual level, and it’s written in an easy-to-read format.
  3. Builds credibility for your law firm – Don’t miss this opportunity to share client quotes or real life results you’ve gained for your clients.
  4. Includes a call to action – By the end of the report, the prospective client should be interested enough to take the next step, whether that is going to your website for more information, or signing up for your newsletter.

This kind of free educational information is a great tool to start building relationships with many people who need your help but aren’t ready to walk in your door. It is not enough simply to offer people a free consultation. Almost every lawyer does that. Take it one step further and give them some great information that will help them think through the issues and challenges they are facing.

Once you have created these educational tools, find every way you can to give them away to as many people as possible. 

For an example, see below.

 

Make 2019 the Be$t Year Ever for Your Law Firm by Developing These 3 Strengths

Posted in Law Firm Development

Make 2019 Your Law Firm’s Be$t Year Ever by Developing These 3 StrengthsBuilding a lifestyle law firm — one that enables you to do what you want when you want to do it — begins with the understanding that you are running a business. And the success of your law firm lies in how well you are able to develop your strengths in three key areas:

  1. Marketing your legal skills.

As an owner or partner in a law firm, your primary focus (in addition to honing your lawyering skills) is to understand the key principles of business development and law firm marketing and to apply them every single day. Not every attorney will be a top Rainmaker, but everyone can do something to grow and market his or her practice.

  1. Creating extraordinary experiences for your clients. 

You need to “micromanage the client experience”—controlling every aspect of how the client experiences your law firm. From how the phone is answered, to greeting them by name as they walk in the door, to minimizing the amount of paperwork you ask them to complete, to reserving your conference room with their name on the door, to returning client phone calls and emails consistently and promptly…everything should be focused on creating a positive experience for your clients.

  1. Building deep and lasting relationships with your clients.

Far too many attorneys only have a transactional relationship with their clients. They create an estate plan for them, they file a lawsuit on their behalf, or they set up a corporation for them. To be successful over the long term, you must think long term and develop lasting, meaningful and influential relationships with your clients because the most expensive thing you can have is a one-time client. One of the most basic marketing strategies for law firms is getting additional business from current clients – yet many attorneys fail at doing this effectively.

A great way to end the year strong and start 2019 even stronger is to attend a Rainmaker Retreat, where you will learn how to develop all the above strengths and more. Here are the upcoming sessions:

  • December 7-8, 2018 — Los Angeles, CA/Ritz Carlton Marina del Ray
  • January 18-19, 2019 — Las Vegas, NV/Aria Resort & Casino
  • February 15-16, 2019 — Miami, FL/DoubleTree by Hilton Ocean Point Resort & Spa – North Miami Beach
  • March 22-23, 2019 — Scottsdale, AZ/Talking Stick Resort

You can register online for a Rainmaker Retreat or call 888-588-5891 for more information.

Why Law Firms Need a Strong Brand

Posted in Law Firm Marketing

Why Law Firms Need a Strong BrandOne of the most effective ways you can distinguish yourself in the legal marketplace is by creating a brand that positions you as a leading authority in your area of practice. Without a strong brand, you run the risk of becoming a commodity — and as we all know, commodities typically have minuscule profit margins.

Building a strong brand for your law firm will provide you with five key benefits:

  1. Attract clients.

Given a choice, we would all choose to work with a specialist rather than a generalist, whether it’s for healthcare or car repair. We all enjoy having access to the best. Professionals known for being the best in their fields are more trusted and more highly sought after. Once you have created a strong brand for yourself in your area of practice, you will find that clients will seek you out.

  1. Obtain more referrals.

If you are the attorney everyone wants to know (and hire), you’re also the attorney who will be referred more often by clients and other lawyers. Referrals are social capital — people share them because it elevates their own status. When you establish yourself as the authority in your field, people will want to make their association with you known.

  1. Command higher rates.

When people seek you out, it allows you to become more selective about the clients you take on as well as the rates you can charge for your legal services. It’s simple supply and demand. Conversely, if you are viewed as the same as other lawyers — a commodity — you are forced to compete on price. Having a brand that positions you as an expert and a specialist allows you to charge what you’re worth and still win new business.

  1. Do the kind of work you prefer.

If you are currently doing work you don’t like for clients you don’t like working for, it’s time for you to find your focus. You can’t be an expert in everything, so pick an area of the law you truly enjoy and start drawing clients you would enjoy serving. Having a niche makes it much easier to develop a strong brand as an expert in that niche and helps you attract the kind of work you want.

  1. Attract media attention.

Reporters are constantly looking for experts on a wide range of legal topics. The one caveat being you need to be perceived as an expert! How do they find you? Like most people who don’t know you do — by searching the Internet. Having a strong online brand with a major presence on social media will greatly increase the likelihood that you’ll be contacted and that opportunity for media exposure will present itself. Increased media exposure means an increase in the number of people attracted to your law firm, so be sure to leverage any media opportunities you have into future interviews and articles.

Building a strong brand takes time, but it pays off in two very meaningful ways — more job satisfaction and more money!

 

 

7 Steps to Polish Your Online Reputation

Posted in SEO for law firms

7 Steps to Polish Your Online ReputationIf you’ve been using professional SEO practices for awhile, then you probably think everything about your online reputation is just fine. But there may be some surprises lurking beyond the first page or two of your search results. Perhaps some negative reviews from former clients that you’ve never seen before? Images of you that someone else posted and tagged with your name from that party you’d rather forget? An angry letter you let fly to the local newspaper and now regret?

Is it easy for someone who Googles you to tell immediately what type of law you practice and where you are located? Or do old pages from your former practice pop up to confuse the picture? Are there social media profiles that don’t have a photo and have never been filled out properly so it looks like you abandoned them? Are your blog posts old?

If your online reputation could use some polish, then this is what you need to do:

  1. Get clean.

Scour all your social media pages and eliminate posts with bad language or references to tasteless humor. Take down the Halloween and Christmas party photos. Look over any photo sharing sites you’ve used like Instagram and Pinterest as well as video sharing sites that may contain content that is unflattering. Search for photos on other people’s pages where you’ve been tagged — if they are sketchy, ask your friend to remove them. You don’t want others impacting your online reputation.

  1. Check your privacy settings.

Every social media site has privacy settings that allow you to control who sees your content. If any of them are set to “public,” change the setting. You don’t have to shut everyone out — after all, it’s social media — but you want to only promote content that bolsters your online reputation.

  1. Update your profiles.

First, review your website bio page. Attorney bios are the most frequently visited pages on law firm websites and are one of the first things prospects look at when researching you online. Unfortunately, many of them are as dry as the desert. Your bio is a great opportunity to showcase what you have to offer potential clients and convince them to reach out to you for a consultation. Your bio should:

  • Explain who you are and what you do
  • Tell your story in an engaging manner, relating any personal anecdotes that have led you to the practice of law.
  • Include any community activities, hobbies and charitable work.
  • Have some personality.
  • Include a good photo.

Be sure your bio reflects all your good qualities, not only on your website but also on your social media profiles. Be sure to load it with keywords that prospects use when searching for a lawyer who practices the type of law that you do.

Now turn your attention to your social media profiles. Here’s a blueprint for the perfect LinkedIn profile:

Name: Use your professional name, no nicknames or other superlatives.

Headline: Under your name is your headline, the most important piece of real estate on your profile. Use keywords that people would use to find you — i.e., Phoenix Estate Planning Attorney.

LinkedIn URL: Customize your LinkedIn URL to make it easier for people to find you. You’ll find it in the light gray box below your name.

Profile photo: Use a professional head shot with a neutral background. Have your photo reflect what you do. Look friendly, not stern.

Summary: Develop a succinct description of what you do, using keywords that other people would use to search for you.   Add contact information — website, email, phone, etc. Add video if you have it that gives an overview of your experience.

Experience: Again, if you have video, use it. People engage much more with video than text! Add any content you’ve produced that is pertinent to your professional life. Be precise in listing your past and current roles.

Education: Including information about degrees acquired and schools attended provides an opportunity to connect with other alumni.

Featured Skills & Endorsements: Include skills that define your professional role and experiences. Get endorsements from peers and others you’ve worked with to validate your skills.

Recommendations: Recommendations are written by other LinkedIn members — typically people you’ve worked with or know professionally. They add credibility to your profile. You can solicit recommendations within LinkedIn by clicking on the “Ask to be recommended” link in the Recommendations box and selecting up to three people to receive your request.

Accomplishments: Here is where you list any awards, honors or other recognition you’ve received as a professional. You can also list anything you’ve had published — articles, e-books, etc.

  1. Refresh your pages with new images.

If it’s been awhile since you updated your images on your website or social media pages, it’s time to refresh. Put an updated photo on all your online profiles. Make a note to yourself to refresh your cover image on Facebook every quarter.

  1. Visit your competitors.

Look at your competitor’s social media pages and see how you compare. Try to view them with the same eye as your prospects. Then make the necessary improvements to your pages to outdo them.

  1. Use social media apps to keep yourself organized.

There are several good social media management tools out there like BufferApp and HootSuite that let you view your social media landscape on one page. This not only makes it easier for you to be sure you maintain a consistent branding message, but also makes managing all your accounts and scheduling posts much easier.

  1. Consolidate.

Did you sign up on every possible social media site as soon as they came out? There’s no way you can maintain all of them, so consolidate into two or three where your prospects are most likely to be found.