CRM, Italian style

Walking past Salvatore’s

On Monday mornings, I walk past Salvatore’s.

On Wednesday mornings, I walk past Salvatore’s.

On Thursday mornings, I walk past Salvatore’s.

On Mondays, Salvatore gives me a quick wave or a smile through the window.

On Wednesdays, I don’t see him.

On most Thursdays, Salvatore is at his door and he says hello.

He doesn’t bother on a Monday, because he knows I’m too busy and I’m already late for work.

On Wednesdays, Salvatore’s is closed: he works on Saturdays and so takes off a Wednesday.

On Thursdays, Salvatore opens slightly early, ready to begin chopping locks from just after ten to nine.

And on every fourth Thursday, at 8:57am, Salvatore is on his doorstep, mimicking the snipping of scissors with his fingers and telling me I need a haircut.

Thursdays at Salvatore’s

Thursdays are my barber’s second busiest day. Every minute not spent tidying up someone’s hair is a minute wasted and probably one he’ll have to make up come Saturday – his busiest day.

The guy is a one-man selling and delivery machine. I never see him drink tea, or chat to people who aren’t in his chair, or waste time doing anything other than the cut in front of him. He is utterly focused on what he’s doing and this efficiency reduces his time of haircut down enough so that I’d predict he’s bringing in over £50 an hour for his chair. I’ll let you do the maths on his annual totals, but it’s a handsome rate.

What can we learn from Salvatore’s approach to CRM?

First: To be ready and prepared to hit the ground running, every day but especially on your busiest days. It’s no minor point for professionals and it was made to me by a long-standing managing partner in a recent interview. Be prepared.

Second: If there’s no work in the shop, go looking for some work. Some hairdressers sit in the shop waiting for it to fill up, or relax, happy with the downtime. Not Salvatore.

Third: … but always start with people you know (i.e. CRM). He asks me because he knows my name and he knows I might well stop for a haircut. He doesn’t hassle strangers, or put up big adverts, or take out press campaigns*. When he’s less busy, he just relentlessly markets to people that he already knows until his pipeline is full again.

Fourth: Manage expectations. Sometimes, he’s so successful with his routine that he manages to bring in two or three dads with his early morning doorstep routine. But no-one minds waiting when Salvatore has asked you to come in. There’s always a newspaper to read or chatter to eavesdrop.

Fifth: Don’t let systems or routine get in the way of delivery. He only takes cash, but he’d prefer to cut your hair first and then have you dash to a cash point than the other way round. He multitasks, cutting hair with one hand while accepting your money with the other. He has systems, but he’s efficient in using them. The blades don’t stop moving.

Sixth: Be transparent about the work you have on: ‘Don’t come in on a lunchtime,’ says Salvatore. ‘It’s packed. And avoid 3:45 just after school because it’s slammed all the way until we close then.’ Instead, market your downtime: ‘I can fit you in now,’ ‘No, grab the cash afterwards’, ‘It’ll only take 10 minutes.’

Finally: make it yours, be natural. Salvatore doesn’t necessarily know he’s doing CRM or sales. He’s just a great guy who doesn’t like not being busy, so he does something about it. He doesn’t do anything that makes him (or others) feel uncomfortable.

Final word

He’s real, by the way, our Salvatore. He works in the unassuming shop in the picture above. I told you he doesn’t spend money on fancy marketing.

Now, I’m cool if you want to pop in and see him, but please, whatever you do, don’t bother every fourth Thursday at 8:57am. Salvatore knows whose hair he’s cutting at that time.

* There’s nothing wrong with any of these things, but they always need to support your primary activity of winning more and new business.

Https: Are law firms’ websites secure?

The wwworld has changed.

Time was when a www. before something and a .com at the end was all you needed to conquer the internet. No more. Beyond a hashtag and an influencer, the latest must-have accessory for a law firm website is the letter ‘s’.

https:// is how your web address should begin nowadays. It means that information passed between your machine and the server presenting you the webpage is secure.

There’s a load of technical reasons for this being the right approach, and you can read about them at your leisure (here and here, for example).

Now, while I don’t want my data harvesting or people guessing who I am by interrupting my data during a browser session, my main issue is much more about the top of the sales funnel. If you don’t have an SSL certificate on your website, then:

  • Some users will navigate away; and/or
  • Chrome – the world’s most-used web browser – won’t even display your page; and/or
  • Some people will think it a little odd that you are presenting yourself as a firm that can handle cyber attacks and confidential information, and yet you can’t lock down the basics.

In other words, you’ll lose web traffic. And at TBD, we hate it when law firms lose traffic.

Consider that for a minute: how hard is it to bring traffic to your site? How hard do you have to work to differentiate your posts from other firms’? Hours and hours spent writing the right kind of posts or content only to have them navigate away because of a technicality. That’s crazy.

Let’s put it to the test

We ran a survey of the top 25 UK law firms’ websites, and scored them on the following points:
Q1 – does the brand name alone resolve to their web address? (i.e. does typing just cliffordchance.com in your browser take you to their website)
Q2 – is the site an HTTPS website? (i.e. does https://cliffordchance.com or https://www.cliffordchance.com exist?)
Q3 – is the default Google result an HTTPS website? (if you google ‘Clifford Chance’ is the first result one that starts with https:// ?)
Q4 – does HTTP resolve to HTTPS? (i.e. if you type in http://cliffordchance.com, does it resolve to the secure site ?)
Q5 – does WWW. resolve to the https site? (i.e. does www.cliffordchance.com resolve to a site that begins https:// ?)
Q6 – does HTTPS without WWW resolve to an HTTPS site? (i.e. does https://cliffordchance.com take you to the secure https site?)

Results for the top 25 law firms

Perfect https scores

With six out of six, we have Clifford Chance, Linklaters, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Herbert Smith Freehills, CMS, Ashurst, Clyde & Co, Gowling WLG, Berwin Leighton Paisner, Irwin Mitchell, DAC Beachcroft, DWF and Stephenson Harwood.

Imperfect scores

Five of the top 25 firms do not have a secure website. If you’d like to know if your firm is on the ‘not secured’ list, then please get in touch.

Converting your site to https isn’t too hard. There are a variety of different ways that people could and do type in your web address, and if you fail to redirect any of them, you’re killing off traffic unnecessarily.

Thoughts

I asked Nicholas Kosar, founder of MarketKulture, a digital consultancy for his thoughts on this:

“Most attorneys would probably agree that the best client-lawyer relationships are built on trust”, he stated  https is a real ranking signal that Google uses to rank sites in its organic search results, and recent studies have shown that as many as 75% of search results are from these favoured https domains. So not only is https an increasingly important factor in SEO, but an https connection assures Google that visitors to a website can trust the site, not to mention the law firm behind that site.”

Bram Vanoirbeek, founder of TheThingAboutDigital.com adds that:

“Https is also essential if you want to jump on the Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) wagon, a framework that allows mobile pages to load super fast. Since mobile is the future, and AMP likely the future of mobile, I wouldn’t miss out on that initial step to get your firm’s website ready.”

Next steps

If you’d like a modern, quick website which lawyers, future lawyers, clients, and Google will love and trust, but which doesn’t cost the earth, then please do get in touch.

Maybe one as beautiful as this: HimsworthScott.com

Time for a reboot on PDFs: Control, alt, delete?

Control the message

It’s time to consign website PDFs to history.

Yes, PDFs are much beloved by the legal community. The rationale is pretty clear: PDFs provide a safe way to present information without the fear of anyone editing it.

The problem is that that control comes at a massive cost: readership.

People who I have worked with know that I really, passionately dislike a PDFs. I don’t have any on this website. I’m not averse to using them via email, as I think that on a one:few or one:one basis, they work well and protect the intention of the author. They can be useful ensuring that contracts, for example, remain unedited. (Even then, there are much better ways).

Don’t even get me startyed on interactive PDFs: they’re the poor cousin of a WordPress site and just as expensive. If you haven’t come across them, then please don’t bother with them.

Alt(ernative) views

I am not alone, however, in my dislike of PDFs and that’s good news because it proves it’s not a purely irrational dislike. Google has long hated PDFs. In 2015 – a generation ago in internet and SEO years – Google prioritised mobile-friendly websites in its results over desktop only options because peopleBuse their mobiles to access information for the majority of traffic now. And part of what doesn’t work on a mobile is a PDF. They’re clunky, and they don’t work on a screen to navigate around them at a size you can read them. In other words, the end result for users is a disaster.

At one firm I worked at, a lawyer insisted on converting a quarterly update (that we had been doing on web pages for a while by then) back into a PDF format when he took over the running of it. Thousands of people came to the page (because, we knew how to attract traffic) but only four (yes, 4) people opened the PDF in its first week of being published. Four.

Think about that in terms of return on investment. This blog will be read by loads more people than that and it’s not even got a major law firm’s web traffic or brand. If it’s only read by four people, I promise I will stop blogging.

But now, Google has ramped up its dislike for PDFs to a new level. As of the past few weeks, if people find your PDF through a Chrome browser, by default it will not be displayed. The page will not be shown. The user will have to do some technical jiggery pokery to show the page. They won’t. What they will do is navigate away from that page, back to the search results and find someone who has written the information on a web page instead, most likely a mobile friendly one.

Why is this important?

Beacuse Google is the most used search engine in the world. It literally owns the traffic for queries for people that you don’t know.

Its browser, Chrome, may not be used in every law firm, but it is the most used browser in the world. It’s quick and it is fully integrated into Google’s masterplan.

Delete?

I guess it’s not PDFs that I hate, as such. It’s more the effect it has on web traffic that I hate. All that effort to get people through the front door and then we encourage them to leave immediately.

You really need to get to work on converting that great information that you have hidden away in PDFs. We did it with a major article on a website at one of the firms I worked at and the page stormed to the top of the performance charts. Thousands of views (and people getting in touch each week) as opposed to, what, four?

So the question is, how long will you continue to allow yourself to lose traffic from the world’s biggest free channel of new business?

Next steps

If you’d like to have a website that gets read and produces leads for new business, get in touch. You’d be surprised how quickly we can create one for you that’s as beautiful as the one we did for Himsworth Scott.

And if you’d like us to convert your old PDFs along the way, we can do that too.

Practice makes perfect…

Practice makes perfect… or does it?

One of the funny things about having studied languages is idioms. I’ll never forget the French lesson at university where I learned the phrase ‘ce n’est pas mes oignons’ (meaning ‘it’s none of my business’). Try explaining the phrase ‘it’s not my beeswax’ to a French person.

In short, things we take for granted in one language simply don’t translate well to another*.

There’s a whole passage in Steinbeck’s East of Eden about a group of elders who study Hebrew just to understand the meaning of the word Timshel. I won’t spoil it here – but do read the book if you haven’t. The understanding of that word in its native language is the whole point of the book. The meaning of just one word can change everything.

And sometimes, we take things at face value in our own mother tongue. Like those elders, I have been wrestling with a word recently: practice. Well, I’ve also been wrestling with the word ‘practise’ and the phrase ‘practice makes perfect’.

It started when I was doing some research for an upcoming TBD report into world-class organisations and what differentiates them from the rest of the field. And the words practise and practice came up. Musing on what makes an organisation truly great, I was transported back 25 years or so to when I studied French, and remembered that ‘practice makes perfect’ does not directly translate into French.

In French, they have ‘l’usage rend maître’ and also  force de pratique, on y arrive’.

Let’s take those in turn. The first roughly translates as ‘Usage (practice) makes you a master (maitre).’ Or maybe ‘Mastery comes through practice’.

The second means ‘by practising, we get there’ or maybe ‘through practice, we arrive’.

The problem with the English version of the phrase is that it contains an embedded, unattainable idea of perfection – a state of having arrived and finished the job.

Neither French phrase does this, as they shift the emphasis back onto the daily/continual practice. In the first sense, it’s the daily practice that makes you a master, in the second form, it is only through practice that we get there. Stop practising, and you’re no longer a master and/or you’re no longer ‘there’.

In many faiths, our life’s work is to practise a religion or a belief. To be on a journey. This would resonate with Muslims (among others), as their view is that perfection is only attainable by Allah. Hence the built-in imperfections in the Taj Mahal.

What on earth does this mean for people who work in professional services?

For lawyers, accountants, architects, planners and other people in our sector, the words practice and practise are so commonplace that we may have lost sight of them a little. We work in a practice. We practise our profession. But, maybe subconsciously but certainly often, professionals substitute the word ‘do’ or ‘advise’ for practise.

At first, it may appear to be a be a subtle difference, but as it was for Steinbeck’s characters, so it is for us: a lot turns on the meaning of one phrase. To advise is to come from a different place, to already ‘know’ all the answers. To ‘practise’ is to continually seek to perfect.

Some lawyers (I’ve been lucky enough to work with quite a few of them previously and now as clients) *practise* law. Likewise the planners and recruiters I work with currently. It’s easy to spot them as they tend to be people who listen and actively seek to enlarge their knowledge on an ongoing basis. They are open to new ideas and technologies.

But so what, right? Who cares if some professionals do this and others don’t? Well, here’s another observation: the ones who practise law tend to charge more by the hour and have fewer of their bills challenged. Fewer clients doubt their value.

Left, right and centre, we are being asked how lawyers and other professionals will survive in a post AI world. Or at least, what their role will be. Having thought about it for the past few months, I have a sense that part of the answer is in the word ‘practise’.

—–

*And yet, some really do. In Pulp Fiction, Mia Wallace’s Fox Force Five joke goes:

“Three tomatoes are walking down the street- a papa tomato, a momma tomato, and a little baby tomato. Baby tomato starts lagging behind. poppa tomato gets angry, goes over to the baby tomato, and smooshes him… and says, catch up!”

And in French (please forgive my terribly memory and language skills) it goes something like this:

“Trois citrons marchent sur la route. Papa citron, maman citron et bébé citron. Bébé citron est en train de tomber derriere ses parents et son père se fâche et le écrase et crie “citron pressé”

Which doesn’t feature tomatoes, or ketchup, but the joke works brilliantly.

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