A Business By The People: The Agile Attorney, Part 3

John Grant can be kind of a jerk. Not because he’s a mean-spirited person, but because he’s not all that invested in my assumptions. He knows I like my assumptions, but he doesn’t care.

Let me tell you about one assumption he had no particular concern for: my marketing plan.

[If you don’t want to read about how stupid I am, do the TL;DR thing and go read Lee Rosen’s post on a smart marketing plan. I won’t be offended. But I like to share how stupid I am because it’s cheaper than therapy and might help you.]


My Client-Getting Plan

After our long foray into designing a process, John and I talked about getting new clients. Considering the “definition of ready” principles, I couldn’t start clients along the new process until they actually became clients. So we talked about how to do that.

And, man, I was impressive. I had a funnel designed, knowing exactly how I’d get traffic (Facebook ads), how I’d convert them to prospects (content page to ebook opt-in to email subscriber), and how I’d turn the right prospects into clients (a really long evaluation call with a specially trained employee).

That process really is good. I removed my free consult time and focused on content that educates. If done correctly, this process will lead to ideal clients who are personally invested in the firm and have appropriate expectations.

And I have realistic goals: I expect by the end of the year to get 5 new clients each month from non-referral sources, meaning from the awesome process I described above.

But John wisely pointed to a problem: How do I get my clients next month?

My Plan is Dumb

I tried to pace my expectations a bit, working back from the “5 a month” goal for the end of the year.

If I hope to get 5 clients in December from this process, I thought, how many should I expect in March?

Maybe I should just work backward from December. 5 in December means maybe 4 a month in the couple of months before, and maybe 3 in the few months before that… so, maybe 1 in March?

Realistically, though, none of the systems that will exist in December currently exist in March. Funnels aren’t filled, there is no one in the pipeline, and the pipeline hasn’t fully been created. So maybe zero?

Can you imagine trying to explain that to my wife? “I have this awesome process that will get us too few clients to live on in December, and even fewer (maybe zero) now!!” Yeah, that would have gone well.

So, getting back to John’s question, how do I get $10,000 worth of new business in March?

He went right to my high end hopes for the month. After I told him I’d gladly drive for Uber to avoid taking money from the law firm so it would grow, he insisted I go for my “number.” To stop limiting myself and tell him how I’d get to the number if I had to.

Specifically, he asked who I could call. Who were the few people who had access to my ideal client and who’d consider it a favor if I removed the person from their to do list?

Plan With People

For the pro se assistance product, I imagined a couple of people:

  1. The district clerk who deals every day with pro se litigants and would love help directing them, and
  2. The local attorney in Rockport who wants to retire but is receiving dozens of prospect calls every week.

John reinforced this exercise by having me list all the advantages I’d enjoy if only I spoke to them. These two people interact with my ideal client on a daily basis, are not able to help them, and would love for me to take the reins. They are, right now, more tied in to who I need than Facebook is.

John wanted me to connect with people who are connected with my prospective clients. This is what I’d call a “What’s Your 20?” marketing plan.

What’s Your 20?

I worked in trucking for a long time. We had code words. It was kind of nerdy, but still faster than speaking in full sentences. (Here’s list of CB codes if you’re bored.)

So, rather than ask, “Where are you?” we’d say, “What’s your twenty?”

By asking “What’s your 20?” I could get a good sense of where I could find my driver. That’d give me all I needed to get an E.T.A. and share it with the delivery point.

Similarly, I can get a good sense of a law firm’s health by asking, “What’s your 20?” Specifically, Tell me about the 20 referral sources you are nurturing right now.

If you don’t maintain a list of 20 referral sources that you regularly contact, I know things probably are’t going well for your firm. Maybe not in terms of revenue (it’s possible to get clients from billboards, I suppose), but certainly in terms of profit. Referred clients are the best, most thoroughly screened, and most profitable clients. You should have those.

Developing My 20

So I created a spreadsheet. I put the clerk and attorney I mentioned above on the list. I added other attorneys in the area who don’t do family law. Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid made the list, on the off chance that they have litigants who don’t qualify for their services but can’t afford a full scope attorney. And then I searched for therapists in the area.

Point is, I targeted people who talk to my target client. And then I started to call them. I asked how I can refer my clients to them and to let me know if they ever had any family law questions. I gave everyone my cell phone number and promised to follow up with an email.

Now that I have a sense of everyone’s interest, I’ll start taking people to lunch. And I’ll stay in touch through newsletters and physical letters. And I’ll track every contact to stay on top of it.

It’s March 5th and I have not brought in $10,000 in business. I honestly still don’t know whether I will reach that this month, but I know I’m a lot more likely to than I was before I took John’s advice.

So, What Is Your 20, Anyway?

However you do it, I’d encourage you to identify the 20 people in your area who are most likely speaking to your ideal clients. Avoid other lawyers in your practice area (well, don’t, but they may not make your list of 20), and stretch out of your comfort zone. The goal is to become genuine friends.

I’ll keep pushing this plan on my end, and challenging my assumptions. Make sure you contact John if you need help with that.

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