Email marketing for attorneys done right

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I read an article for real estate agents about ten ways email marketing beats social media. It’s a good article and I agree with all of it. I was going to tell you that it makes no difference whether you’re selling legal services or houses, email reigns supreme.

I even had a favorite “reason”–number 9 on the list: “Email is more intimate”. I was going to talk about how email allows you to have a simulated conversation with people, which helps you build a relationship with them, so that, over time, they come to know, like, and trust you, even before they’ve ever spoken to you.

But I’m not going to do that. Not today, anyway.

Instead of trying to convince you to make email your number one marketing tool, instead of beating the drum about how you are losing clients and money and making your life so much more difficult by not having an email list, I’m going to assume that you’re on board and talk about the right way to use it.

I see a fair amount of lawyers’ email newsletters, mostly because many of my readers think it’s okay to add me as a subscriber to their email list (it’s not). What I see, in my humble but accurate opinion, isn’t getting the job done.

For starters, just because it’s called a newsletter doesn’t mean it should look like a newsletter. Newsletters tend to be boring and self-serving, one small step removed from advertising. They “look” commercial–with stock photos and html layouts and links that say, “click here to finish this article”.

One glance at these and the reader knows that this email is probably not very important and doesn’t have much to say that is of interest to them. They know it’s probably all about the lawyer and not about them. The lawyer’s “exciting news” about how they are expanding or how they won a big case is exciting to the lawyer, but nobody else.

Most newsletters go unread because readers have come to know there’s nothing in them that interests them. There is some value to having subscribers see your name in their mailbox, reminding them of your existence, but it is so much better if they open and read your emails, appreciate them, and look forward to them.

So, for starters, your newsletter shouldn’t look like adverting or anything commercial.

It should look like a letter.

A letter (email) with some news or helpful, relevant information. Something readers care about, something that makes their life better, something worth reading.

It should also read like a letter, from a real person. Not from a committee or “the firm”. Not “canned” articles purchased from a newsletter company.

It should be written in “me to you” format, just like you would write a real letter to a real person. It should look like you sat down and penned a personal message to an individual. Because while you may be sending this same email to hundreds or thousands of people, each person who reads it is an individual.

Write to one person, not to “everyone”. Talk to that one person, as though he or she was sitting with you in your office or talking to you over the phone.

If you do it right, when your subscriber sees your email show up in his or her email, he should get a little excited. “I wonder what [you] will share with me today?”

Kinda like what you’re reading right now.

I share information I hope you find interesting and helpful. I tell stories from my days of practicing and stories about my life today, to add color and interest to that information. Sometimes I’m serious and preachy, sometimes I’m funny, but I’m never boring or irrelevant.

Yes, most of my emails are cut and paste jobs of my blog posts, but my blog posts are usually written like emails.

Many subscribers tell me they read my emails every day and look forward to them. Some tell me they are the highlight of their day.

That’s what I’m going for. A relationship. Intimacy. Transparency.

So, if you aren’t using email to build your practice, you need to. I’ll pound on that again at another time. If you are using email, but you believe social media is more important, go read the article. And if you understand why email is supreme and you want to get better results using it, take my words to heart.

Kill the fancy newsletter, write letters to the people on your list, and tell them something they want to hear.

Learn more about email marketing for attorneys. Go here

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Fake lawyers stealing your name and reputation

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In the “oh my, that’s not good” department comes this report about fake lawyers who put up websites pretending to be real lawyers. They copy the real lawyers’ names, photos, bios, and other information, but change the contact information.

Presumably, the goal is to bring in clients and steal their money, or set up fraudulent cases and rip off insurance companies with “you” as the attorney.

Don’t laugh. It happened to me.

This was many years ago, in the dark days before the Internet. I got a call from a fraud investigator who wanted to talk to me about one of my cases. I didn’t recognize the name of the client, however, and had never had an office at the address on the letter of representation.

How long had this been going on? How many other clients had this impostor represented in my name?

The fake lawyer was quickly caught and shut down and that was the end of the situation, but it was still very unsettling.

What I could to prevent this from happening again, I asked myself. I couldn’t come up with anything. But (as far as I know) it never happened again.

Today, where you can set up a website in ten minutes and get it indexed in search engines within hours, what’s to keep bad guys from impersonating you?

Nothing.

They may not get away with it, but that doesn’t mean they won’t try.

How can you protect yourself? I don’t have a good answer, other than constant vigilance, i.e., regularly searching your name and your firm’s name to see what’s out there, something you should probably be doing anyway.

And, just in case, you might want to ask your errors and omissions carrier and bar association about  your exposure if it does happen.

If it does happen to you, take a look at how the fake lawyers are marketing you. If they’re good at it, you might want to steal some of their ideas.

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Getting things done in burst mode

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I read an article recently about the work habits of a novelist. He said that he works best when he doesn’t write every day, as conventional wisdom suggests. Rather, he gets more done in “burst mode” (my term) where he will write up to 8,000 or 10,000 words in a day.

His job (full time as I recall) and family obligations make it difficult to carve out sufficient blocks of writing time during the week. He found that an hour a day wasn’t long enough to find his writing mojo and get up to speed. Give him eight or ten hours on Saturday, however, and he could knock out an entire book in record time.

The point is that each of us works differently and we need to honor what works best for us.

As you know, I advocate setting aside time each work day for marketing your practice. You can get a lot done in as little as 15 minutes a day, if you do it consistently. But I acknowledge the value of working in bigger blocks of time, especially on bigger projects. In fact, I do it myself.

In my practice, I would often show up at the office on a Saturday and plow through a pile of files. In a few hours of undisturbed time, I would do more work than I might do in an entire week.

In school, instead of studying every night, I often crammed for tests the night before and wrote entire term papers in a weekend. That’s how I liked to work and I got good grades. In fact, I’ve read that we often do our best creative work when we do it quickly.

All hail burst mode!

In school, we have deadlines and due dates. The same goes for most legal work. But that’s not true with marketing. So, if you want to do marketing in burst mode, you need to schedule the time in advance and stick to that schedule.

You might schedule one Saturday each month for marketing. In a few hours of undisturbed time, you could create a new seminar or produce a month’s worth of articles, blog posts, emails, or social media content.

Getting things done in burst mode doesn’t necessarily mean doing nothing throughout the week, however. The above mentioned author uses snippets of time throughout the week to take care of administrative and less demanding tasks related to his writing. You can, too.

During your Saturday marketing session, you might plan out the people you want to call that month. With your plan in hand, you can take a few minutes each week day to make those calls.

You can also use your weekdays to make notes and outlines and collect research material in preparation for your Saturday session.

Being productive is simple. Figure out what you want to get done this week or this month. Look at your calendar and decide when you’re going to do it. Then, do it.

As long as you’re getting important things done, when you do them probably isn’t that important.

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Paying for referrals and getting away with it

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Okay, let me first say that you need to check with whoever regulates you and make sure that this is something you can do. I’m covering my behind by telling you this so please cover yours.

It’s a very simple idea, really. But it could bring you a lot of business in the short term, and a lot more long term.

You’ll need a website (that you control) and a way to capture email addresses. An autoresponder is your best bet. You can see what I use and recommend here.

Yes, you can also do this “old school,” i.e., manually, but you’ll get better results if you automate everything and spare yourself some calluses.

Now, you’re not really going to be paying for referrals. You’re not even going to ask for referrals. Not directly, anyway. Instead, you’re going to ask people to help you build your email newsletter list. You ask them to refer subscribers, not clients.

As people come to your website to subscribe, they see what you do. Some of them hire you, or take the next step in that direction.

After people subscribe, you stay in touch with them. You send them helpful information, and information about what do. Over time, some of them hire you. Or send you referrals. Or send you other subscribers who hire you and send referrals.

Build your subscriber list and you build your client list.

You can stop right there if you want to. Simply ask your clients, friends, readers, subscribers, social media connections and anyone else who will listen to help you build your subscriber list. They’ll help you because they like you. They also want their clients and contacts to know about you and the goodness you offer.

Ask them to Tweet, Like, post, and otherwise recommend your newsletter or download link (for a report, ebook, or other incentive) and your list will grow.

No legal or ethical issues with this, right? Where it gets iffy is when you offer to compensate them for doing so. But doing so could multiply your sign-ups manifold. If you would otherwise get 100 sign-ups, offering compensation might get you 1000.

What you do is announce a contest. Anyone who sends subscribers has their name entered in a drawing for a prize.

How do you track this? How do you know who sent subscribers?

The simplest way is to hold another drawing for all of the new subscribers, with an equally spiffy prize. When you draw their name as the winner, you email them and ask them who referred them and they both get a prize.

There are other ways to “pay” people for their help in building your list. You can sell your book, for example, and set up an affiliate program. There are many others. But if you are allowed to do so, a drawing is a simple and effective way to pay for referrals and get away with it.

For more ideas, get The 30 Day Referral Blitz.

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Is “attorney” the right career for you?

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I don’t know what you think about the Myers-Briggs personality test, based on Carl Jung’s work, but according to a new infographic on career choice, I should have been a college professor instead of an attorney.

I’ve taken the test more than once, and got different results each time, so I’m not sure, but today it looks like I am an INTJ. That comes with the shorthand label, “Independent Scientists” and while the independent part fits, I’m not sure sure about the science part. College professor, maybe. Depends on what I’d be teaching.

I found “attorney” listed under ENTJ, which isn’t too far off. Of course there are many different types of attorneys, each with our own styles and leanings. I don’t see how trial attorneys and tax attorneys could possibly be in the same category.

Anyway, it’s kind of fun to see what the “experts” think about our choice of career, and I think the graphic does a good job of describing the different types. If you want to see yours without taking the MB test, job on over to this page and check it out. You can learn more about the 16 personality types on the Myers-Briggs website.

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What’s on your bucket list?

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What are you not doing because it’s too risky, too expensive, or takes too much time?

What are you not doing because you are afraid?

We all have them. Things we would love to do but talk ourselves out of doing. Or postpone until it’s too late.

I’m too old. I’m not good enough. It would take too long.

But do them we must.

Mark Twain said, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did so.”

What’s on your bucket list? What do you want to do at least once before time runs out?

Something fun? Something daring? Something you’ve always wanted to try?

Pick something and do it now. Don’t wait until the time is right. Don’t avoid doing it because it is difficult. Jim Rohn said, “There are two types of pain you will go through in life, the pain of discipline and the pain of regret. Discipline weighs ounces while regret weighs tons.”

It’s okay to be afraid. It’s okay if you don’t know how. You’ll figure it out. “Leap, and the net will appear,” said John Burroughs.

Start with something small if you want. Then do something bigger. Make “trying new things” a habit, until you find yourself doing great things, things you’ve always wanted to do.

Twenty years from now, look me up and tell me all about it. Tell me how your life changed because you took a chance.

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Never check email in the morning?

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Everyone and his brother says we should never check email in the morning. They say that doing so allows others to dictate our morning tasks and we should instead focus on our pre-determined agenda.

But I do check email in the morning. Voice mail, too.

Checking email and voice mail lets me scope out and plan my day. Yes, my task list and calendar show me the important things I will be doing but emails and messages can be important, too.

But while I check email and messages in the morning I don’t respond to them in the morning. I do that after I get my other work done.

My morning routine includes going through my inbox, purging junk, and starring (gmail) important emails that require a response. When I’m done, I know how many emails I will need to respond to later that day. If there is work to do associated with those emails, I know that, too.

Same thing with phone messages. I write down who called and why and call them back later.

And hey, emergencies happen. While that’s rare for me today, I feel better knowing that I’ve made sure everything is okay. That’s better than ignoring the outside world for several hours and wondering if I’m missing something important.

Want to know another secret? Don’t tell anyone but I also check email throughout the day. Many times, in fact. Texts, too.

Yikes. Do I break every rule in the friggin book?

Guess so.

Anyway, that’s what works for me. Your mileage may vary.

I use Evernote to organize all of my tasks and projects. Go look

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Do you look like a professional?

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I love watching a professional do his or her work. When I see a studio musician, a house painter, or gourmet chef doing what they do, I admire their skills and how they deploy them. There is a grace to what they do. It is effortless and efficient.

They look like a professional.

If I was planning to hire them, seeing them work would inspire confidence. I’d know I was getting someone who knew what they were doing. I wouldn’t worry about them making mistakes. I would know they were worth every penny they asked. Once I gave them the job, I’d get out of their way and let them do what they do.

Wouldn’t it be great if our clients could watch us work and have that same confidence about hiring us?

But a lawyer’s work isn’t visual. We work in our heads, mostly, and on paper. When we talk to people, it’s nothing like what lawyers do on TV. What we do looks boring. Watching us work is unlikely to inspire anyone.

You might not want to show people what you do, but you can do the next best thing. You can show them what it looks like after you have done it.

Show people photos of your office, your library, and your staff. Show them photos of you coming out of court, shaking hands with clients, and speaking in front of a crowd. Make sure you’re wearing the uniform (suite and tie) clients expect you to wear.

Make sure your website looks professional. You don’t need fancy (which can actually work against you), just not amateurish.

Let your content do most of the heavy lifting. The quality, depth, and quantity thereof should leave no doubts about your experience and ability to help your clients.

Make sure people see you doing things professionals do. Speaking, writing articles and books. Teach a CLE class (even once), because if you teach other lawyers, you must be good.

Promote the fact that you have forms and systems for everything. The chef has his tools, you have yours.

Don’t hide your light under a bushel. Highlight your awards, honors, and milestones. Post testimonials, endorsements, and positive press.

Clients and prospects are watching you. Show them the professional they want to hire.

How to earn more than you ever thought possible. Click here.

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The most common lawyer marketing question I am asked

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A subscriber asked me, “What’s the number one question you get asked by lawyers about getting clients?”

That’s simple. They ask, “How do I find the time for __________ [marketing]?”

And that’s an interesting question.

Because you don’t find time. You take it, from something else. You give up something you’re doing so that you can do something else.

But you only do that if you want to. And clearly, many lawyers don’t want to.

Many lawyers see marketing as something they have to do, not something they want to do. One reason is that they don’t see the connection between doing the (marketing) activities and getting results from those activities.

With most marketing activities, you don’t get clients immediately. It takes weeks or months. Marketing is a process. You get your best results from the cumulative effect of your efforts.

One blog post or article doesn’t equate to one new client (usually), but if you post 50 articles this year, next year you might see three or four new clients per month.

Sometimes a single marketing activity can bring in a lot of clients in a short period of time. Your new ebook, for example, might get favorably reviewed and/or go viral, especially if it is properly promoted. But because it takes a lot of work to write and promote it, and the results of that effort won’t come for many weeks or months, if they come at all, many attorneys put that idea in the “maybe” file and never do it.

Lawyers are used to a monthly payoff, (when they bill their clients). They work, they get paid. Life goes on.

Even contingency fee cases also follow a predictable pattern. Since most cases settle most of the time, the attorney knows that he’s only a matter of months or perhaps a year or two away from getting paid.

Not so with marketing. With marketing, you don’t know what will happen. You don’t know if you will get any results out of it, or when.

In fact, the best strategies, like building relationships with the right people, take lots of time, and there is no guarantee that you will get anything out of it.

Of course lawyers don’t like uncertainty. They don’t want to waste their precious time. They don’t like to delay gratification.

What’s the solution?

The law of averages. Write enough blog posts, network with enough people, do enough advertising, or whatever, and while some things won’t work, others will. Some will have a small payoff, some will be a bonanza.

Do enough marketing, do it long enough, and your practice will grow.

But you have to know this in advance to be willing to invest time in marketing.

When you know this, everything changes. You see marketing not as something you have to force yourself to do but something you look forward to doing because you know what’s coming.

When marketing is no longer an extra appendage but a fully integrated part of your daily work flow, you will never again ask, “Where do I find the time?” You might ask, however, “Where do I spend all this money?”

For a simple lawyer marketing plan that really works, get this

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Why I didn’t earn millions of dollar per year in my law career

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By most people’s standards, I had a successful law career. I helped a lot of people and earned a lot of money. Looking back, however, I realize that I didn’t help as many people as I could, or earn as much as I could.

One reason is that I didn’t want to work that hard. I wanted free time to spend with my family and do other things. I didn’t want to work all day every day and burn out (or die) at an early age.

But there may have been a way to earn a lot more without sacrificing quality of life. In fact, doing this one thing may have made my life more interesting and gratifying.

An article in Forbes has the answer. “According to multiple, peer-reviewed studies, simply being in an open network instead of a closed one is the best predictor of career success,” the article says.

An open network is where “you are the link between people from different clusters”. A closed network, on the other hand, is where “you are connected to people who already know each other.”

In other words, the best predictor of career success is continually meeting new people, outside of your usual haunts. Most people, myself included, associate primarily with people they already know.

I’d much rather spend time with people I know, in familiar surroundings, doing things I am comfortable doing. The big boys, it seems, regularly get out of their comfort zone and “go hunting” in unfamiliar territory.

One of the studies showed that “half of the predicted difference in career success (i.e., promotion, compensation, industry recognition) is due to this one variable.”

Oh my.

Practically speaking, an open network means getting away from your regular bar association and chamber of commerce meetings, at least periodically, and attending other functions, even if they seem to be wholly unrelated to your current career path.

In his early life, Steve Jobs pursued many diverse interests that had nothing to do with business. Those experiences, and the people he met in exploring them, not only helped mold his creative eye, they introduced him to opportunities he was later able to capitalize on in his career.

In view of this, if I was building my law career today, I would spend more time pursuing things that fascinated me and meeting people who share my interests. I would be a kid again, exploring the world and all it had to offer, something Jobs did throughout his life.

Want more referrals but don’t want to ask for them? Here’s the solution

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