The Busy Lawyer’s Guide to Success

Essential Tips to Power Your Practice
Subscribe

Archive for the ‘Marketing and Client Development’

5 basic steps for building a solid social media brand

January 14, 2012 By: Dan Category: Marketing and Client Development, Technology

There is a great post on the Social Media Examiner blog today. It asks the question: “What message does your brand convey to socially engaged customers?”

I think too many people (and their SEO consultants) try to take the tact that you need to be all things to all people in all channels.  Unless you are a celebrity or politician, that is just not the way to go. By trying to be everything everywhere for everyone you and your message will get lost in the crowd. You want to create a brand and post content that connects with the audience that you want to reach – potential and existing clients.

The post outline 5 basic steps for building a social media brand that will give you a consistent and compelling brand voice. The 5 steps are:

1. Determine your brand personality

2. Identify your true audience

3. Develop a consistent tone

4. Timing is everything

5. Practice makes perfect

Read the SME post for more on what you can do to build a better social media brand in 2012.

Boosting Your Productivity in 2011

December 27, 2010 By: Reid Category: Client Service, Firm Management & Operations, Making (more) Money, Marketing and Client Development, Strategy & Planning

With the New Year just around the corner, soon many of us will resolve to improve our law practices in 2011. To help with those resolutions, the ABA Inside Practice newsletter has published Tips for Boosting Productivity at the Office from our book. The list has a dozen practical ways to improve productivity within a law firm.

Best of all, the ABA has specially-priced our book to give this holiday season or to buy for yourself and your staff to start 2011 with a bang!

Order The Busy Lawyer’s Guide to Success by January 31, 2011 and save 30% by using discount code PEP0EBLG during checkout in the ABA Web Store. Order before December 31 to receive free shipping too!

Making Your Website Stand Out?

December 08, 2010 By: Reid Category: Marketing and Client Development, TechTip

When a local shopping mall decides to renovate, they do the whole mall so that every storefront is refreshed and looks new. However, when that gigantic shopping mall called the Internet starts to look shabby, it is up to the individual business owners to renovate their own store. If not, that store sticks out like a sore thumb.

How is your website looking these days when compared to other providers of legal services? How about to other business on the Internet? If yours is looking shabby, time for a renovation!

That doesn’t necessarily mean throw out the whole website. Refreshing all text, updating your photo, and improving your biographical information to include hyperlinks to on-line articles and reported cases is a good start. However, technology and design have improved so you may want to consider starting from scratch so you can take full advantage of these improvements.

As websites become more of a marketing necessity, we can no longer just “set it and forget it” (to borrow a phrase). Consider making your website renovation a priority in the New Year.

Great advice on how to pick and register a law firm domain name

March 01, 2010 By: Dan Category: Marketing and Client Development, Technology

My friend Steve Matthews over at Stem Legal has written one of the best articles I have ever read on picking and registering a law firm domain name: Domain Name Issues For Law Firms is The Column on SLAW.CA this week. Steves knows more than most on these issues and there is tons of informative and practical information in this article – a must read for any firm scoping out its web real estate.

Top Ten iPhone Apps for Busy Lawyers

February 11, 2010 By: Reid Category: Client Service, Firm Management & Operations, Marketing and Client Development, Technology

In a few weeks, I’ll be presenting the seminar 60 iPhone Apps in 60 Minutes at ABA TECHSHOW, but I thought I’d share a sneak peek at ten of the best apps for busy lawyers. Thanks to my co-presenter, Jeff Richardson, of iPhoneJD fame for his contributions to this post. These are among the top apps to keep iPhone lawyers productive and successful.

AppBoxPro.  Every iPhone owner needs one of these multi-function apps that includes a currency converter, date calculator, translator (text), tip calculator, international holiday calendar, unit converter, battery life meter, and more. AppBoxPro is the best I’ve found to date. This one $0.99 app thus replaces the need for many separate, single function $0.99 apps.

Bento. Bento is a $50 powerful but easy to use database for the Mac.  It doesn’t have all of the features of a professional database program like its big brother FileMaker Pro.  But if you use a Mac and you need to create a database to keep track of just about anything for yourself, Bento is a great fit.  It is designed to look like iTunes, and is just as easy to use.  The $4.99 Bento iPhone app can be used as a standalone product, but is most useful as a companion to the desktop app.  You can sync the app with your computer, and virtually all of the fields are carried over to the iPhone, including any fields that contain pictures. You can also create a new database from within the Bento app.  Indeed, if you don’t have a Mac running Bento, then this is the only way to use the app.  When you tap the “New Library” button you can create either a blank database or can start with a pre-designed template and then edit it.  Templates are included for the following: Projects, Contacts, To Do Items, Recipes, Diet Log, Events, Files, Inventory, Event Planning, Time Billing, Home Inventory, Expenses, Exercise Log, Vehicle Maintenance, Classes, Digital Media, Student List, Membership List, Products for Sale, Equipment, Issue Tracking, Items Sold, Customer, Donations, and Notes. Each one of those templates are excellent examples of the types of databases that it would be handy to keep on your iPhone.  The Bento app also, by default, includes a database called Address Book.  This database contains all of the contents of the Contacts on your iPhone and is always synced with the latest information.

Bump. Bump is a new way to exchange contact information instead of using business cards. Merely open the app and select the amount of personal information you want to divulge, then gently bump your iPhone against the other person’s iPhone and you will share information almost instantly. Yep, this is a high-tech business card exchange.

Documents to Go Premium
.  This app lets you edit, create, and view Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint files.  (You can also view, but not edit, other file formats such as PDF, Apple iWork, and others.)  The editing features are sophisticated, but the app also does a much better job of viewing files than the iPhone does on its own.  And if you use Microsoft Exchange or Gmail for your e-mail, this is the only app that can directly access your e-mail attachments so that you can download an attachment to an e-mail, view or edit it, and then send it to someone.  This is an essential app for most every lawyer.

Dragon Dictation. Just as powerful as it’s big brother Dragon Dictate, this free, easy-to-use voice-recognition app is a quick alternative to typing e-mails, text messages, tweeting, or updating your status on Facebook. Damn accurate too.

DropBox. This is yet another file sharing service that provides on-line file storage, access, and sharing from multiple computers and mobile devices. It has a very clean interface and is easy to install and set up. Users receive 2 gigs of storage for free, with 50 gigs running $10 per month, a bit pricey given other available options. Still, I keep documents I am presently working on in my DropBox account, just in case I need a copy.

Google Mobile App. You can always do a Google search using the Safari web browser on the iPhone, but the marquee feature of the free Google Mobile app is the ability to just speak your search terms.  Start the app and hold up the iPhone to your face.  The app will use the proximity sensor to sense your face and play a beep so that you can say some search terms.  Give the app a second and look at the screen, and you will see search results.

People
.  This free app is essentially a national “White Pages” database at your fingertips, and a very good one at that. It can search for a phone number, requiring a last name and city; it will search for a person or business based on a street address and zip code; and it is a reverse phone directory too. It’s very handy for personal and professional use, and avoids many of the ads and sales pitches from websites promising similar services.

ScanR Business Center. There are other apps like ScanR (such as DocScanner and JotNot) and they cost less, but you’ll be happier paying the price for this one. ScanR allows you to create PDFs using your iPhone camera or using a picture on your camera roll. Just take a picture of the document you need, upload it to your ScanR account (free to set up), the document is next e-mailed to you as a PDF, but not a searchable PDF. If needed, quickly run the new PDF through OCR software and now you have an editable document. I’ve tested this from business cards to old magazine articles, and I have not been disappointed yet.

Skype.
This app lets you make either free or very cheap calls on your iPhone using VOIP (voice over internet protocol).  While you can use this app at home, it is particularly useful when you are traveling internationally.  If you have Wi-Fi access, such as in a hotel, you can talk to any user on Skype for free, or even more useful, you can call any landline or cell phone in the U.S. for just a few pennies per minute, which is far less than you would pay with international roaming charges, not to mention far less than what most hotels charge to make international phone calls.
Bonus app because I couldn’t cull the list down to ten!

Things. This task management app is for iPhone users but also has a separate app for Mac computers. It does one thing very well and only one thing: it keeps track of your projects. It’s not cluttered with calendar, contact manager, and other functions, which allows this app to have a very clean interface. That makes it easy to use for just about anyone. When the app is opened I can clearly see what I need to complete today, what I have scheduled to do next, and what ideas I have recorded to complete in the future. When installed on both a Mac and an iPhone, information can be synced over the same wireless network.

Want more? Join us at ABA TECHSHOW in March!

Unbillable Hour Podcast Highlights Our 2010 Success Resolutions on Legal Talk Network

January 22, 2010 By: Reid and Dan Category: Announcements, Client Service, Ethics & Professionalism, Firm Management & Operations, Fraud prevention, Making (more) Money, Marketing and Client Development, Wellness and balance

We are big fans of the UnBillable Hour podcast on the Legal Talk Network so we were really pleased that podcast host Rodney Dowell, director of the Massachusetts Law Office Management Assistance Program, asked us to be his guests this month to expound on our Top Ten Tips for a Successful 2010 we blogged on New Year’s Day.

Take a listen to the podcast, that also features Judd Kessler of AbacusLaw, and take in our tips in a whole new way.

The Busy Lawyer’s Top Ten Tips for a Successful 2010

January 01, 2010 By: Reid and Dan Category: Client Service, Coping with E-mail, Ethics & Professionalism, Fraud prevention, Making (more) Money, Marketing and Client Development, Strategy & Planning, Technology, Wellness and balance

The start of a new year is always a time for reflection and renewal-out with the bad and in with the good. In our book, we highlight several resolutions every lawyer should make for a safe and profitable new year. We have updated those resolutions for 2010 to include several more tips specifically to shake off the blues of 2009 and make the coming year your most successful ever!

1. Lawyers are being targeted on bad check frauds in record numbers – be alert and don’t be duped: Fraudsters posing as clients on collection matters, business finance or mortgage loans are targeting lawyers. The ruse is simple: trick lawyers into running counterfeit certified checks or bank drafts through their trust accounts. The fraudster gets legitimate funds and the lawyer is left with a shortfall-often six figures! Take 20 minutes to learn more about these scams and what you need to know to prevent them from happening to you.

2. Spend time learning LinkedIn. Facebook and other social media tools. These social networks are fast emerging as sources of new business. Create a profile, search for connections/friends, and post regularly about your practice and your professional life. If you are familiar with these networks, spend time to learn their power in more detail, or expand to other networks, such a Martindale-Hubbell Connected (Beta) or LegalOnRamp. The December 2009 issue of LAWPRO Magazine is a good social media primer as it has articles on the different social networking tools, how to use them to market yourself, and the dangers you need to be aware of when using them.

3. Book a vacation now! Everyone needs some downtime. Grab your calendar and block off two weeks together or two one week blocks. (Health experts say a 2-week vacation is best.) Get your spouse, partner or significant other to block the same dates off in his or her calendar. Those dates are sacred – don’t book anything in them. If you don’t block them off now and keep them clear you will never get the holiday your mind and body needs.

4. Resolve to improve client service and don’t do any of the eleven things that annoy clients the most: How many can you name? Don’t read the next paragraph – close your eyes and see how many you can come up with.

OK, how did you do? Here’s our list:

* Not returning phone calls.
* Not replying to e-mails.
* Making clients wait in reception.
* Ignoring client/staff incivility.
* Dropping names to impress others.
* Not clarifying for the client.
* Not delivering on promises of performance.
* Not delivering on a promised outcome.
* Not communicating during long periods of inactivity.
* Failing to be prepared.
* Sending a very large bill without warning or explanation.

See an excerpt from our book for more on the 11 biggest client annoyances, and more importantly, what you can to do avoid them. Applying the tips featured in this excerpt will help you have happier clients, and even better, reduce the likelihood you will face discipline complaints and malpractice claims.

5. Recognize the growing need for bi-lingual legal services. Consider language classes at a community college or consider popular software just to start. The world is changing, those that greet the changes will be the most successful.

6. Connect with your peers: Join the ABA Law Practice Management Section or the ABA GPSolo Division to get the best information on developing or fine-tuning your law practice. Also, join your state bar Solo and Small Firm Section to increase your networking opportunities. If your state bar does not have one, start one!

7. Don’t just say you will start a marketing plan this year–do it! For yourself and for you firm. While marketing efforts are always welcome, shotgun efforts really are inefficient. We recommend the practical and realistic plan outlined in our book as a great place to start. To keep your marketing momentum, make appointments for yourself each week throughout the year–written on your calendar now–to implement all parts of your plan.

8. Evaluate your fee structure and retainer requirements. Are you asking clients to pay for value or results? Is your message “We’ll do your last will and testament, trust, power of attorney, and medical directive for X dollars, rather than “We can protect you, your family and estate from government intervention, taxes, and most family squabbles for X dollars? Turning the discussion from “price for paper” into a discussion of “price for value” is more effective in convincing clients to hire you. Analyze, revise, and practice incorporating this new approach into your discussions with clients.

9. What is the one thing you would like to change about yourself? We all have our personal shortcomings and foibles. Some of them are small, some of them are big. Pick one things that you would like to change or improve in your personal or professional life. Write it down on a piece of paper – and then write out the steps you need to take to make the changes you want to make. This is your path to make one significant change to improve yourself over the next twelve months.

10. Buy our book – The Busy Lawyer’s Guide to Success: Essential Tips to Power Your Practice. If you like the short tips format and content of the above tips, you will love our book. It contains more of the same – almost 75 collections of ten or so tips on client service, marketing, strategic planning, business process improvement, technology-all targeted to help busy lawyers be even more successful. We guarantee it will contain at least one tip that earns back your purchase price.

We wish you a happy and successful 2010!

Dan and Reid

Supercharge Your Referrals with Technology

November 23, 2009 By: Reid Category: Making (more) Money, Marketing and Client Development, Strategy & Planning

At TECHSHOW 2009 I was pleased to work with web media guru Steve Matthews to present Supercharge Your Referrals with Technology, a seminar that focuses on successfully incorporating social media into your referral-based marketing efforts.  Steve reminded me with this blog post that the paper that accompanied our seminar is now online at the TECHSHOW blog as part of the Best of TECHSHOW series. The article does a good job of explaining how social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn can boost your marketing–if done with a sound strategy.