Too many lawyers suffer because they haven’t clearly defined who they most want to do business with.
If you feel like you can’t be picky about your clients, that’s almost certainly because you haven’t developed a sound marketing system.
And by “sound marketing system” I mean one founded on the timeless, proven principles of direct response marketing.
If you haven’t heard of “direct response marketing” then you should know that David Ogilvy called it his “secret weapon.”
If you don’t know who David Ogilvy is then you have a gaping void in your understanding of marketing (don’t feel bad, though, because most lawyers have the same gaping void).
Anyway, back to the problem of having too many bad clients…
What do you stand for?
You need to figure out what you stand for, and what kinds of people you want to work with based on your core values.
Describing your core values should be easy. Although you might get some misguided advice that throws you off, the process is pretty straightforward.
But it probably won’t be something you can dash off like a grocery list. Why?
Because identifying your most important core values is SUPER IMPORTANT.
It’s not trivial like a grocery list. So don’t treat it like one.
Your core values should be a list of things that both you and your ideal clients share. It should be based on core beliefs that you both have.
And you should describe why you believe those core values are important.
Let me show you how I’ve done it for my business (and hopefully that will give you something to model).
What I value most
- Authenticity – I want to interact only with people who are truly genuine and down-to-earth. I don’t want to deal with venal, superficial, ego-driven people. And fortunately I don’t have to.
- Transparency – I strive to be transparent about every aspect of my business and the advice I give. I freely acknowledge and discuss the mistakes that I made in growing my law practice (and my current business). I’d prefer to help people feel less stress about trying be perfect, by showing them my mistakes.
- Honesty – A lot of the bad advice I received was from people who meant well but were clueless. I see a lot of those kinds of people causing damage to solo and small firm lawyers. I’d rather tell a harsh truth if it can help lawyers avoid a mishap, even if it might offend someone who means well but is offering lame advice (i.e. bar associations who take sponsorship money from Findlaw).
- Context – Anything can seem beneficial or detrimental when taken out of context. I obsess about keeping things in context, especially for any advice that I offer to other lawyers. I’ve noticed, however, that many people do not share my obsession.
- Simplicity – I look for the simple, powerful levers that create significant transformation in your law practice. And I work hard to make sure my advice is easy to understand and implement.
- Realistic – I’ve learned that just because something’s a good idea that doesn’t mean that it’s easy to get people to adopt it. And some good ideas aren’t the ones you should try to work on until you’ve put other things in place first.
- Flexibility – I avoid forcing my preferences on others. If you’re a Mac user that’s fine. If you’re a Windows user that’s fine too. You need to connect all the dots in the way that serves your way of working, not mine.
- Community – I’m only one source of advice and you need to hear from people other than me. That’s why I eagerly introduce you to the group of consultants that I have great trust in. And I’ve created online areas where you can interact with those folks, along with other like-minded lawyers who share the same perspective and values that you and I share.
So those are my 8 core values.
Now, go define the values that you hold most dear. Then focus on attracting clients who share those values.
Those will be your best clients, for sure.