The best way to differentiate your business
For the past couple months, I have spent a gigantic chunk of my “free” time reworking and re-launching my rainseed™ marketing brand and website.
I’ve been marketing for my entire career, and had already developed the initial rainseed brand and website. So of course I already knew that that this process is not for the faint of heart. And even though I’ve been working on other business's messaging and websites for all this time, I was reminded how much rigor and decision-making goes into a complete re-haul. I’ve blogged before about how our personal brands ARE our business brands, and that becomes crystal clear as you develop your message and manage the details of your site to completion.
When I’m working with clients I advise them well. But in the end of the day, it’s their firm. It’s their reputation. It’s their life work. This is personal, it matters, and they (you!) want it to be right.
While the experience I’ve just had is fresh, I’ve pulled together four simple, guiding principles for anyone who needs to do some work on their own site.
Hire a professional
Have you ever read The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks? If you haven’t, oh how I wish you would. Among other amazing insights he provides about how to succeed, he articulates the concept of the Zone of Genius. It goes like this - there are four zones that we could occupy depending on the activity:
The Zone of Incompetence
The Zone of Competence
The Zone of Excellence
The Zone of Genius
The idea is that optimally, we should reside in the Zone of Genius all the time, whatever we do. Regardless of how one would actually rise to living in that zone at all times, I am going to make an assumption here - that fussing around with a website template is NOT in your Zone of Genius, or even in your Zone of Excellence. And even if it is, it’s not a core competence you need for practicing law.
But you know who DOES work in their Zones of Excellence and Genius for websites? Website designers! Just be sure to find one who will build your site and then teach you how to manipulate it, so that you don’t have to rely on someone (or pay them) every time you catch a comma that’s in the wrong place.
Dedicate your time to this project
OK, so now you have your web designer locked in. What’s next? The designer will probably ask you to fill out a few questions that help her to get a feel for what you are looking for. She will also almost certainly (if she is good) ask you for some representative websites that you like. When the direction is determined, she can start developing your gorgeous new client magnet site.
I frequently see a mistake happen at this point – the designer sets a schedule and needs feedback and guidance, and the client disappears on them. Big mistake. Big. You are paying good money for this designer, and the more you can dedicate to being part of the process, the better. Trust me when I say, the designer is saving you time and money in the long run, but for the short term you need to be involved to get it right.
And related to this is the requirement to be decisive. So easy to say, so tough to do. When you get the site concept back, pay attention and think about what you really, really want. And then make decisions, make them fast, and remember that you can change things down the road. It won’t be 100% perfect when it’s done, but if you did your pre-work, it will be pretty darn close.
Define a clear message
This is the pre-work I’m talking about. Ahead of your first meeting with the designer, take a brutally hard look at your messaging.
· Do you sound unique, or exactly like the law firm down the hall?
· Does your site give valuable information to potential clients? (Hint, it should.)
· Do you provide information about you that helps the potential client relate to you and want to connect with you?
· Are you being authentic? (Because people can smell it if you aren’t.)
· Is your site copy written for the potential client? Or is it written for your law school professors, your fellow attorneys, or your friends and family? If it’s written to impress anyone but a potential client, it’s time to rethink.
Dial in the messaging ahead of your kick off and the web design phase will be a breeze.
Make sure you are driving potential clients to an email list
I love and I mean LOVE when I tell my clients this and the lightbulb goes on. ZAP! It’s truly one of the most satisfying moments I get to have in business. While your site should absolutely drive clients to contact you if they need your services right away, I think of that as a basic threshold utility of your site. But what about those who aren’t quite ready to hire you yet? You want to make sure that when they are ready to hire a lawyer, you are top of mind, right? If you put a system in place to keep potential clients interested, you will achieve this. And for what it’s worth, there are so few firms doing this that you will help your firm really differentiate from other firms. Because take it from me, not many firms are paying attention to this critical marketing activity.
It's really quite simple to make this part of your site. With your designer, craft a newsletter system and develop an opt-in on your site for them to sign up and stay in the know. And when you send those newsletters out, on a frequent and predictable basis, make sure there is seriously valuable information in them.
Having just gone through my own web redesign, I know how much time and effort goes into this. I also know how satisfying it is to get that sucker launched. Follow these guidelines and watch your website turn into a client magnet machine!
I can help you dial in your firm’s messaging ahead of a web redesign. Click on Private Coaching in Services for more information.
Happy New Year!
Are you a New Year’s resolution kind of a person? It seems to me that people have finally, FINALLY abandoned the idea that the first of the year will somehow magically transform us.
In the long run, I truly believe that it’s healthier to think of January as just another month. But the significance of new year/new start, doesn’t have to be entirely lost. The truth is, as the year kicks off it IS a good time to review your practice’s business plan, and maybe make some tweaks. You might need to fix something little on your site, or it might be the year for a wholesale brand upgrade. Either way, there is a fundamental principle that is worth bearing in mind as you go about your beginning-of-the-year processes:
Before your clients hire you, they are going to look for information about you. And what they are really looking for some indication that they will connect with you.
Nowadays, even if someone refers you, the next step taken by your potential clients in the vetting process is to find out more about you. This is even true if you are highly, enthusiastically recommended. When I hired my business attorney (who is a rock star and who is the exact perfect fit for me and my business), the person who sent me his contact spelled his name incorrectly when she loaded his info into her phone. So when I went to find him, I came up with nothing. Like, absolutely nothing. It set off alarm bells, and I began to look for another person. Happily, I ran into the person who recommended the attorney and the typo was fixed. After finding out more about him as a person (by checking out his site and social media posts), I hired him.
That’s where your site, your message, and social media come in. Especially social media, which can be leveraged for two critically important functions:
• Connect with people 1:1. People who are looking you up are looking for a way to understand what kind of person you are, what kind of firm you belong to. They want to relate to you and have a sense whether or not to hire you.
• (Further) establish your personal brand. You’re a fantastic lawyer. You’re interesting. You’re a great person. There is NO WAY for just a website to accurately convey all of that. Social media allows you to help people understand you a bit better before they make the call.
Even if you eschew New Year’s resolutions like I do, please do take some time this month to review your personal/professional brand (they are one and the same) and dial that shiznit in. If you keep it real, expert, and engaging, you just might see more clients coming your way before Spring!
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Once upon a time lived in a place far, far away from here (that I won’t name in order to protect the lovely, innocent people who still live there) that I hated. And I mean white hot scorch of a million suns HATE. It wasn’t the place’s fault, it was mine. I had left a city, job and friends that I loved. And boy howdy, I regretted it. So I did the mature thing by plunging into an 18 month long mope. Shockingly, I managed to make a lot of friends in this place and one of those friends said to me one day: “Allie, the man of your dreams isn’t going to walk through your TV screen into your living room and sweep you off your feet, you know.” This seminal moment is kind of a humiliating memory (as many of them are), because 1) the person who said this was a man, and he said it in front of his wife and about 10 other people; and 2) how did he KNOW I was spending all of my time in front of the tv? HOW?!?
I was jolted into action – and I am truly grateful to him for that. Shortly afterward, I moved to a place that felt right, expanded my horizons and yes, I met the man of my dreams (eventually). And, shocker, he didn’t walk through my TV screen.
How does this tie in to your law practice, you ask? I know a way for you to make it so your clients magically walk through your computer screen and right into the comfy chairs in front of your desk….
How? YOU get yourself out there.
It’s called networking! (For the record, I seriously hate that word…that’s another topic for another day.) But it’s true. And you know it. Your clients sometimes do just walk right in, but in the depths of your heart, in the dark of the night, you know that’s probably not sustainable.
New clients desperately in need of your help actually AREN’T going magically walk through your computer screen and into your heart, er, office.
You have to go out and get them. You have to talk to people. You have to take people to lunch. You have to accept speaking invitations. You have to amp up your social media activity. You…well, you get it.
I’ve built my entire business on my clients using the internet to market their practices, but the truth is I’ve seen those efforts fall flat without being reinforced by in person networking activities. You can have a great website, mad legal skills, the best staff in the land, but in the end of the day, the best way to create a sustainable practice for the long term is by shaking hands and saying yes to invitations.
It’s magic, truly. So get on out there, smile, hand out those business cards, invite people to lunch. And while you’re at it, be sure to ask people about their lives and businesses. Because unless you have a specific need at that exact moment, this is not the time for the hard sell. Remember that these professional recommendation relationships are reciprocal. You can help them, they can help you, and the opportunity to recommend each other will present itself.
Go get ‘em!
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