What is the value of creating a virtual space that is just yours? What if, instead of relying on other people’s platforms to reach prospective clients, you made your own?
Don’t rely on someone else’s infrastructure to grow. Here’s how:
In this episode we discuss:
- Creating your own platform so you can start the practice of generating clients.
- How having your own platform helps you speak directly to your audience.
- Getting referrals by drawing people into a funnel, collecting their information, and marketing to them.
- The inexpensive cost of virtual platforms making it possible to start virtually.
- Assembling your own audience.
- Preparing what you're going to say as you grow your audience and establish your venue.
Allison Williams: [00:00:05] Hi, everybody, it's Allison Williams here, your host of The Crushing Chaos with Law Firm Mentor podcast. Law Firm Mentor is a business coaching service for solo and small law firm attorneys. We help you to grow your revenues, crush chaos in business and make more money.
Allison Williams: [00:00:30] We're going to be talking about how to create your own platform. Now, for those of you that are in the business of law, which presumably you all are, or else you probably would not be listening to this podcast. I am sure that at different times you have said it would be really great if I could get on so-and-so's stage right. If you could get in front of a massive number of people, the people who either could in masks refer you clients for your business or could be the actual prospective new clients that you want to serve and you have probably said it would be great if you could get in front of them to be able to deliver your message to connect with them in order to get them into your law firm.
Allison Williams: [00:01:19] Now, for some people, the idea of public speaking is terrifying. It's not what you want to do. You're either generally shy, or awkward, or uncomfortable with the idea of being on stage, or it could be that you're perfectly fine being on stage. You might be a litigator, you might be in court all the time, you might actually enjoy that endeavor. But the idea of how to use a stage as a lawyer to generate clients for yourself just seems to be something so esoteric and out of reach that you don't even bother with that strategy.
Allison Williams: [00:01:52] So I want to give you today an idea about how you can create your own platform so that you can start the practice of generating clients for yourself and probably get a lot better at it a lot faster than you think you can. In addition to generating clients sooner rather than later.
Allison Williams: [00:02:11] So first, I want to talk a little bit about why you would want to create your own platform, and then we're going to go into some of the strategies as to how to do that. So first up on the why? Right? We all know that when you are on stage with another person's organization while you represent yourself and your business, you also are a reflection of the entity that is allowed you to speak right. You are a representative of the Bar Association, or the Local Chamber of Commerce, or the Rotary, or whomever is allowing you time on that stage, right? By virtue of allowing you time on that stage, they are to some degree vouching for you. And so whomever their audience is, is going to expect a certain level of quality based on who they are and hence that transfers over to you. They're expecting a certain level of performance from you. Nothing wrong with that. But because there is the concern and rightfully so by the organization that the person on stage needs to be able to deliver quality content to the audience, as well as engage the audience in a way that will keep their interest and keep them supporting the host organization. There is often a great deal of pressure that hosts of and organizers of public speaking events will, will place on the talent. They will often have a fear that if they don't legislate and dictate to you how you want to have that presentation delivered, what needs to go in it, how it needs to be presented, that there will oftentimes be a poor reflection on them because they invited you. So having your own platform allows you to bypass that to some degree by virtue of recognizing that you then create the rules so you don't have rules about how long it can be or how structured it has to be, and you don't have restrictions on your ability to quote sell from the stage.
Allison Williams: [00:04:14] Now, when I say sell, I'm not in this traditional sense. I'm not here in this sense, talking about the traditional way we think of selling from stage, right? So it isn't that you're going to stand up and you're going to make an offer and you're going to say, Hey, everybody go to the back of the room and sign up for my such and such course. You could have that. There are definitely lawyers that sell courses, and you could even depending on your practice area, generate appointments right there from the event. In fact, I know of several very prominent estate planning attorneys that will host events a couple of times a year where they will rent out a large room in a hotel and, and invite the public in to learn about estate planning. And from the time that they are on stage, they are really making a presentation of how an estate plan will help the people, the people that are there. And at the end of that session, they will, there will be a call to action to sign up before you leave in order to get some economic value of a reduced price of estate planning or some type of added benefit, or a package to review it, or something like that. Ok? By the way, that's a very effective strategy for those of you out there that sell, estate planning services know that that is definitely a successful strategy I've seen it used effectively in multiple jurisdictions. But for most of you, we're probably not talking about that type of selling, we are probably talking about the type of selling that has you presenting from the stage in order to generate contact information or secure contact information from your audience so that you can later engage with them, invite them into your world and get them into your ecosystem so you can market to them in the future.
Allison Williams: [00:06:05] Now, another why as to why you'd want to have your own platform is that you get to speak directly to your audience. Now what I mean by that is that when you are doing online marketing or social media marketing, unless you are advertising right, pay-per-click marketing or pay-per-click advertising is really what most people would think of as a direct call to action. Somebody has been in an accident, they need a personal injury attorney right now. Someone has been served with a complaint for divorce, they need a family law attorney, Right now. Someone needs to incorporate a business, they need a business attorney right now, right? That's not what we're talking about. What we're talking about marketing online, we're usually talking about the message goes out to the ecosphere, if you will, and anyone who has a need for that service, it's going to consume that content and contact you in order to engage your business. Now, when that type of one-to-many marketing goes out, the people receiving it may or may not be in the need of your service. And so while you are speaking to your ideal client avatar, if you have your messaging dialed inappropriately, that message is still going out to "the masses", right? It's not going out to the targeted folks that are most inclined to take action on the message.
Allison Williams: [00:07:27] And I want you to think about when you have your own platform, the fact that if you invite people into or onto your own platform, there's a greater likelihood that they will actually need the service that you are offering them. Ok. One of the perfect examples of this is what I do in my own practice. You know, for those of you that have been following me for any length of time, you know, I've been a family law attorney for 18 years, and most of that time has had what we would refer to as a subspecialty in the area of child abuse and neglect parental representation. And so when people are involved in the child welfare system, they need an attorney to represent them. But since it is such a highly particularized area of practice, family law attorneys don't often have access to those cases. And when they get them, they're often very nervous that if they screw something up against the state of New Jersey, that they could harm someone's parental rights indefinitely. So a lot of family law attorneys are skittish about being able to handle those cases. And the beautiful thing about that is that I will go to a stage in front of a room full of family law attorneys teach them what they need to know, but also say to them if this is overwhelming.
Allison Williams: [00:08:46] If you fear not being able to adequately, appropriately, ethically, and with a high likelihood of success, represent someone whose parent or whose child has been involved in the child welfare system, then you can certainly refer your clients to me and I will give them back to you when the case is over. Now, of course, there is a risk associated with that for someone who doesn't know me because, you know, I'm a highly credentialed matrimonial attorney, so I could very well take their, their divorce client handled the child abuse case, and then the divorce client says, Oh, can you just handle everything because I've been working with you? I'm comfortable with you, and I have worked very hard to establish a reputation in the bar that I would never do that. So even though I've had the opportunity from some very affluent clients to represent them in their divorce, my promise to the bar is always, you send your client here and I will send them back to you, and I've always done that right. So word gets around, but I've always used the stage as an opportunity to speak directly to the pain point of that family law attorney and make it a win-win for them.
Allison Williams: [00:09:56] So they get to refer me as someone who specializes, quote-unquote. I think we're not supposed to say that word. We're not supposed to call ourselves specialists. So I will say focus, right? We're not supposed to, you know, the family law bar can, can want to refer out to somebody who focuses in this area of the law, but they want to also retain the client because the client is paying their bills is otherwise a good client, is a source for future referrals and so forth. So there is both serving your client's needs, but there's also serving your business needs because, by virtue of someone who is highly regarded in one area referring the client back to the matrimonial attorney, you add esteem to the matrimonial attorney, right? So it's a win-win there. But I get to say that directly to the people who are going to most likely encounter the folks that I want to serve and who are going to be most inclined to send those people to me because of the platform.
Allison Williams: [00:11:01] Now, the third and probably the most valuable reason why you'd want to have your own platform is that you want to monetize the platform, OK, and by monetize the platform again, I am not talking about the traditional example I used earlier of estate planning attorney signing people up and getting payment for estate plans at the event. We're talking about monetizing in the sense of drawing people into a funnel by virtue of collecting their information with their consent and then marketing to them in a way that will increase the likelihood of you getting the referrals that you desire.
Allison Williams: [00:11:37] So it's super important that by virtue of knowing what it is that you desire, that you can put something out that is going to increase the likelihood of a sale or a series of sales, and you have far more control over that when you are on your own platform, then when you are on someone else's platform, because oftentimes when people invite you onto their platform, it is because they want your audience to follow you over to their platform and then they want your audience to take action on their offer, right? Not your offer. So oftentimes you don't get to make your own offer, or if you do, it has to be subscribed by. It has to be approved by the, the hosting authority to make sure that there's no competition right to make sure that whatever you're offering does not compete with what they are offering. So just thinking about some of those reasons, even once you recognize that there is a need to create your own platform, there can oftentimes be a question in your mind of how on earth do I do that? How do I go about the process of creating my own platform? Let's say I'm bought into the concept. Now what?
Allison Williams: [00:12:52] So I'm going to give you three strategies that you can use in order to create your own platform. So the first one is you have to decide whether or not you are going to be virtual or in person. And my strong recommendation, if you have not previously created your own platform, is to start virtual. Now, the beautiful thing about virtual platforms is that they are very inexpensive, right, you typically have to have some form of mechanisms, some type of technological solution that will allow people to gather electronically in front of you. Right now, I'm sure most people are using Zoom, right? But there are other platforms out there where you can also have a, a quote-unquote virtual stage where you are on stage and there are other people in the room that you may, that may or may not be able to see each other. So if you have a Zoom webinar, you can do your, your simulcast of you to the masses without the masses being able to see each other, even though they can choose to interact by name in the platform. There are other platforms, other software solutions that allow for that as well. But you want to decide on in-person versus virtual and virtual gives you the added benefit of being able to refine the content, being able to see the reactions of people. If you are doing something like a Zoom room and get a sense of how to perfect your message so that when you deliver it live and typically at much greater cost, you are reducing the likelihood of wasted investment in the platform that you're going to be on, right? So virtual gives you a greater opportunity to be a little bit more free with trying out different messaging, engaging with different offers, talking to people with different amount of information, and so forth.
Allison Williams: [00:14:44] All right. Second strategy you have to keep in mind is to how, is how to assemble your audience. So in assembling your audience, the thing that you want to keep in mind is that you want to think about ways to get people that need to hear your message, whether it is a referral source, a group of referral sources rather or a group of prospects. And assuming that you want to get to prospects, advertising is a great way to do that, so there's lots of different things that you can do. Ok, we're going to assume for the moment that this is going to be a live event. Ok? Once you get to the point of doing live events, you can advertise in different local communities, local community resources to get people aware of the fact that you're hosting an event so you can do a divorce education class and advertise on Meetup. Or you can do a know your rights forum when you are promoting civil rights defense work to a group of, you know, to a series of groups that focus on those issues. Meetup is a great way. This is Meetup.com great way to target groups that have something in common with the people that you are trying to reach, or who are the people you're trying to reach. Local newspapers, there's another great option, right, the local thrifty. Once upon a time, it was kind of the five and dime, you know, the, the, the newspapers that you'll find in the big metal boxes in the vestibule of diners, or the the the little rag that you'll see when it's kind of laid out when you're going into grocery stores, or you're going into local shops in kind of outdoor markets.
Allison Williams: [00:16:30] Another thing since we're now in a much more digital age than even five or 10 years ago, are online newsletters, right? So there are a lot of local organizations that will have an online newsletter and depending on what your practice area is, most law is state law. But of course, there's also federal practice wherever you are going. Your goal is to get in front of people who could need your service, whether it is people who could refer your service if it's referral sources or people who require your service if it is your prospect. And online newsletters are a great way to get something out, so if you want to quote, borrow the audience of people in your local neighborhood, you would go to local businesses and see if any of them have local newsletters or online newsletters and simply ask them for the opportunity to run your promotional about your event in their newsletter. You'd be surprised how many people would simply allow that type of free advertising for you, just with the promise of reciprocity that when they do something that they want you to promote it in your newsletter as well. Or some companies might require and request to view a payment, but they're probably going to be far less expensive than some of your more traditional advertising and local newspaper, radio, television, and so forth.
Allison Williams: [00:17:51] Ok, another good way to assemble your audience is, of course, to invite your list. Now this is your list of any and all existing clients, former clients and prospects. And the reason why you want to include your existing and former clients is because even though they may or may not be in need of your representation, right? Existing client presumably already has the service, former client has already received the service. But all of those people in both of those categories have an opportunity to refer someone because they have already worked with you. So even if they don't personally need your service, they can refer your advertisement to someone who does need your service.
Allison Williams: [00:18:30] Ok. You also can partner with other lawyers and invite them to share with their list, right? So if you are a criminal defense attorney and you are promoting a forum on expungements, you could certainly send that out to business law attorneys in the area, immigration attorneys in the area, family law attorneys in the area, personal injury attorneys in the area because you are not competing with those individuals, you are providing a very distinct service that they presumably do not provide, and getting your message in front of their list provides an opportunity for them to be the hero to their clients, right? I John Doe, attorney, I'm sending you a message about Susie Smith attorney's event and if you need help with this problem that I otherwise wouldn't be able to help you with, Susie Smith is the one I refer you to, right? So part of this does require a little bit of relationship between you and the person who's including the information, but it doesn't have to be a whole heck of a lot. It really can just be that you're familiar enough with the person to know that they're competent as an attorney and then ultimately you want to grow them into a referral source.
Allison Williams: [00:19:43] Ok, and the third and final strategy we're going to talk about regarding creating your own platform is preparation, and this is the one that I saved for last very intentionally because I don't want you preparing for what you're going to say until you have your audience and until you have your venue. OK, once you have created the platform. Once you have a place where you're going to speak, and a time where you're going to speak, in a topic on which you're going to speak, then and only then should you prepare for your presentation. So often, we as lawyers, are so drilled into the idea of being overprepared that we forget that what we're trying to do by virtue of this presentation is not give the best information and teach the best content and eliminate all questions. What we're really trying to do is create a business opportunity. We're either trying to make a sale to a client or we're trying to create a referral relationship that will generate opportunities for sales to clients that happens through a very structured, very strategic type of conversation. That conversation is a sales conversation from stage. It is not a conversation with a whole bunch of name rank serial number data that is great information to have if someone wants to go do it themselves and solve their own problem, but not necessarily so great if they want to hire you to help them. So you need to be prepared for what you're going to say, but you don't want to start preparing for it before the time is right, before you have the best opportunity, before everything's ready. Why? Because oftentimes the anxiety and the resistance that builds up around the idea that your presentation is not perfect yet in your mind, that will be the thing that stops you, right? That will be the thing that has you say, Oh crap, I can't possibly take the time to actually get this on the calendar because I don't have the perfect words on paper yet, I don't have the perfect intonation, I don't have the perfect graphics, I don't have the perfect slide deck, all of those things will come. But the first thing you have to do is create the platform. And then once you have the event in its scheduled, you can go about the business of preparing for it.
Allison Williams: [00:21:59] All right, everyone, this is Allison Williams, your Law Firm Mentor. And on this week's episode of The Crushing Chaos with Law Firm Mentor podcast, we have been talking about creating your own platform. Now, if you would like to create your own platform, if you want to use public speaking as a strategy in order to get yourself more clients, we can help you with that. Just schedule a growth strategy session with a member of our team, and we can walk you through how to create your own platform, as well as talk to you about how we can help you with that. I am Allison Williams, your Law Firm Mentor, and I will see you on the next episode.
Allison Williams: [00:22:43] Thank you for tuning in to The Crushing Chaos with Law Firm Mentor podcast to learn more about today's show and take advantage of the resources mentioned, check out our show notes. And if you enjoy today's episode, take a moment to follow the podcast wherever you get your podcasts and leave us a rating and review. This helps us to reach even more law firm owners from around the country who want to crush chaos in business and make more money. I'm Allison Williams your Law Firm Mentor, everyone. Have a great day!
Allison C. Williams, Esq., is the Founder and Owner of the Williams Law Group, LLC, with offices in Short Hills and Freehold, New Jersey. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, is Certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey as a Matrimonial Law Attorney, and is the first attorney in New Jersey to become Board-Certified by the National Board of Trial Advocacy in the field of Family Law.
Ms. Williams is an accomplished businesswoman. In 2017, the Williams Law Group won the LawFirm500 award, ranking 14th of the fastest-growing law firms in the nation, as Ms. Williams grew the firm 581% in three years. Ms. Williams won the Silver Stevie Award for Female Entrepreneur of the Year in 2017. In 2018, Ms. Williams was voted as NJBIZ’s Top 50 Women in Business and was designated one of the Top 25 Leading Women Entrepreneurs and Business Owners. In 2019, Ms. Williams won the Seminole 100 Award for founding one of the fastest-growing companies among graduates of Florida State University.
In 2018, Ms. Williams created Law Firm Mentor, a business coaching service for lawyers. She helps solo and small law firm attorneys grow their business revenues, crush chaos in business and make more money. Through multi-day intensive business retreats, group and one-to-one coaching, and strategic planning sessions, Ms. Williams advises lawyers on all aspects of creating, sustaining, and scaling a law firm business – and specifically, she teaches them the core foundational principles of marketing, sales, personnel management, communications, and money management in law firms.
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My favorite excerpt from the episode:
TIME: 00:11:37 (36 Seconds)
So it's super important that by virtue of knowing what it is that you desire, that you can put something out that is going to increase the likelihood of a sale or a series of sales, and you have far more control over that when you are on your own platform, then when you are on someone else's platform, because oftentimes when people invite you onto their platform, it is because they want your audience to follow you over to their platform and then they want your audience to take action on their offer, right? Not your offer.