Branding

Want to Generate More Leads as a Lawyer? Write a Book

Want to Generate More Leads as a Lawyer? Write a Book

This post originally appeared on Attorney at Work.

If you are an established lawyer looking to grow your practice, or a young lawyer hoping to build a book of business for the long term, you should give serious consideration to writing a book. Why? There are few, if any, better marketing assets than a book with your name on the cover.

As a lawyer, there are two steps to business development. First, you need to generate opportunities, then you need to capitalize on them. Writing a book helps with both. Here’s how.

The Right-Brained Lawyer is the Lawyer of the Future

The Right-Brained Lawyer is the Lawyer of the Future

At the leading edge of each of each new technology—from the Internet, to blockchain, to artificial intelligence—a pattern repeats itself. Every “next big thing” is over-hyped and oversold. A wave of momentum builds, companies and capital plunge in, the wave crashes, and a few participants emerge to define the market moving forward. Many technologies eventually become “big things,” but often not in ways we originally envision.

One thing we can say for certain—because we’re witnessing it before our eyes—is that the aggregate effect of technological advancements over the last twenty years is the leveling of the playing field when it comes to availability of information. We have moved from a world of information asymmetry to one of information parity due to the digitization of data accessible at the click of a button. In this word, yesterday’s “experts,” defined as those who held troves of data in their heads, are less valuable. Whatever information they possess about a particular topic is dwarfed by what’s freely available online.

Provide More Value to Build Your Personal Brand

Provide More Value to Build Your Personal Brand

Ever wonder why some writers get all the attention online? Their posts get shared, their personal brands grow, their email lists swell, and their fortunes rise as their content receives an outsized share of eyeballs.

It’s easy to dismiss their success as luck, by concluding that it resulted from a post going viral (as if hitting “Publish” is the same as pulling the lever on a slot machine), or connections with influencers that others don’t have. Meanwhile, we keep publishing but never gain traction. We preach to the choir of a stagnant email list and collect a few random likes and shares on LinkedIn. As our progress stalls so does our output. Before long, we conclude this “content thing” isn’t worth the time and we go back to billing hours and researching the next marketing trend to chase.

Your Personal Brand is Your Story

Your Personal Brand is Your Story

There’s no great dictionary definition of what a personal brand is. One of the most often cited colloquial definitions is from Jeff Bezos. The point Bezos is making is that a personal brand is a story.

“Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.”

In other words, your personal brand is impacted and shaped by everything you do – and don’t do – to put your best foot forward. If clients are going to buy from you, they need to understand who you are, what you stand for and the value you bring to the table.

Sure, some clients buy sight unseen, but in most lawyers’ experiences those are not the best type of clients. The most meaningful, satisfying, and profitable engagements typically come from situations where clients come to you for a very specific reason. They know who you are, have done their due diligence, and oftentimes have received a referral from someone they trust.

There’s strong alignment between what they need and what you offer.

To Scale Your Business, Grow Your Personal Brand

To Scale Your Business, Grow Your Personal Brand

You can scale a business. We see it all of the time in the tech world, where startups work furiously to scale up and build infrastructure to manage and absorb growth when the time comes.

But can people scale? It’s an issue that many lawyers and other professional service providers struggle with. You’re one person, with tremendous demands on your time due to the needs of your clients, colleagues and firm (not to mention your personal life).

And business development in professional services is still an intensely personal endeavor. You need to be out there, meeting people, developing and spreading your reputation among potential clients and referral sources. It takes time and energy – both resources in short supply for most lawyers.

You can’t clone yourself, so your ability to scale yourself is limited. You can’t be everywhere, focused on everything, all at once.

Or can you?

Building a Personal Brand Doesn’t Require Fearlessness – It Requires Dancing with the Fear

Building a Personal Brand Doesn’t Require Fearlessness – It Requires Dancing with the Fear

Your legal career comes down to a choice between two paths. One feels safe, the other fraught with risk. One lies within the comfort zone, the other outside of it. One requires conformity, the other originality. One leads away from fear, the other straight toward it.

Author Steven Pressfield refers to the fear we all feel as the “resistance.” The resistance is what leads us to make decisions based not on what we desire, but rather what we think others desire of us. Pressfield decries this mindset as it robs us of our authentic self: “Our job in this life is not to shape ourselves into some ideal we imagine we ought to be, but to find out who we already are and become it.”

The first thing that a lawyer who aspires to build a strong personal brand needs to come to grips with is this: To make an impact you need to start caring more about what potential clients think, than you do worrying about what your colleagues may think. That’s because the pressure to conform in the legal industry is strong.

But to grow you need to change. And to change you need to grow.

Lawyers and Law Firms that Refuse to Recognize the Power of Social Media are Falling Behind

Lawyers and Law Firms that Refuse to Recognize the Power of Social Media are Falling Behind

During my 16-plus years as an attorney and legal marketer, one thing has become clear to me: Most law firms like to take a wait-and-see approach when it comes to marketing. Few firms like to be first. There’s trepidation about standing out. And so they wait.

The process typically plays out like this:

  • A new platform or marketing methodology develops in the marketplace
  • Tech and other early adapting industries jump on board
  • Law firms – still waiting
  • Platform/methodology gains hold more broadly
  • McKinsey, Accenture or some other consulting firm adopts
  • Law firms start debating whether it’s right for the legal industry

The reason I raise this is because, just this week, a law firm leader asked me whether his firm and its lawyers should “be on” social media. Keep in mind that this firm is no stranger to marketing. It spends real dollars on print ads, airport ads, event sponsorships, website banner ads and, of course, individual lawyer awards (“Super Lawyers” and the like). The tone he struck when asking whether they should “be on” social media suggested to me that he believes there is something distasteful about playing in this space.

How to Capture Ideas and Create Content that Elevates You Above the Noise

How to Capture Ideas and Create Content that Elevates You Above the Noise

One of the most important things a lawyer can do to become a well-branded, well-recognized expert, is to produce high-quality content. In most cases, particularly in the legal industry, the written format is most popular when it comes to producing content. But the format matters far less than the substance. Ideas can be conveyed via podcast, video, live talks – it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that the content, itself, is of such high-quality that it raises the profile and reputation of the content producer in the minds of content consumers.

Content is one of the few tools that allows a lawyer to establish relationships built on trust with those who she may never have personally come into contact with. Here’s how it works:

When it comes to addressing their challenges and opportunities, clients want expertise, not generalized knowledge. Unless expertise can be conveyed and validated through referral or reputation, it must be demonstrated through thought leadership expressed in the marketplace of ideas. In this sense, content is what sells a lawyer when she’s not there to sell herself. It gives others a window into the lawyer’s mind, her ideas, and the quality of her insights. Through reading and evaluating her content, potential referral sources and clients have already determined, to at least some extent, that their needs and her expertise align.

To Build Your Personal Brand, Hunt Antelopes Not Field Mice

To Build Your Personal Brand, Hunt Antelopes Not Field Mice

A lawyer with a powerful personal brand is one who is well-known and well-respected by a distinct audience. She is thought of, and sought out, when a particular type of expertise is required to solve a particular type of problem. In other words, a lawyer with a powerful personal brand is not someone who tries to be all things to all people. She knows a lot about a little, as opposed to the generalist who knows a little about a lot.

She did not attain broad brand awareness by accident. Rather, she became well-known through focused, strategic, long-term effort. She hunts antelopes, not field mice.

Special Dispatch for the Legal Marketing Association: The Importance of Brand Experience

Special Dispatch for the Legal Marketing Association: The Importance of Brand Experience

There are two types of services that lawyers can provide to clients. The first is legal service, which relates to quality of professional skill and work product. Legal service is, obviously, critically important to the success of a client relationship. But let’s face it, most clients cannot distinguish between good and great work product. Moreover, basic competence and technical proficiency are often presumed.

The second type of service lawyers provide is client service, which relates to the quality of brand experience one creates. Half of the brand equation is building a personal brand, which involves telling clients and prospective clients what to think about you. Equal, if not more, attention must be focused on creating an authentic brand experience, where your brand speaks for itself through its interaction with clients.

So what does this mean in the real world? Find out more about building a brand experience for client in a post I wrote for the Legal Marketing Association blog Strategies. Click here to read the article.

Want to learn even more? I go much deeper into the issue of brand experience in my book, One of a Kind: A Proven Path to a Profitable Legal Practice. Click here to check it out!