The best way to end an email

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What’s the best way to end an email?

The same thing you do at the end of any closing argument, presentation, meeting, pleading, report, blog post, or other persuasive communication.

Tell the reader what to do.

Tell them to buy. Sign up. Click here. Remember these three things. Go here. Do this.

When you tell people what to do, more people do it.

Can’t they decide for themselves? Sure. And they will. You’re not forcing them to do anything, you’re just pointing the way. Instead of leaving things up in the air and asking the reader to figure out what you want, you’re telling them.

And guess what? People want you to tell them. The judge wants to know what you want. The audience wants to know what you’re selling. The client wants to know what you advise. When you tell people what to do, you’re making things easier for them.

Of course somewhere in your opus you should tell them why. You have to back up your call to action with some substance. Tell them how they benefit, why it’s the right decision, what will happen if they don’t.

The call to action doesn’t literally have to be the last thing you say. You could tell them what to do and follow that with a memorable quote, a short story, or additional bullet points in support of your request. But don’t walk off the stage or sign your letter until you’ve told them what to do next.

You’re not in the entertainment business, you’re in the persuasion business. Do your job. Tell people what to do, and why.

Like this:

If you want to get more clients and increase your income, go to this page and buy everything.

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Removing the obstacles to success

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Instant manifestation. You think it and it appears. You write it down and it becomes reality. Sound good? Actually, it would be a nightmare. Your life would be a jumble of confusing and conflicting thoughts and you would be continually fixing mistakes and apologizing for transgressions.

Thankfully, there is a buffer of time between first thought and manifestation that protects us and keeps us sane. We want something, we think about how to get it, and then we do the work. It takes time and reason and effort to get from first thought to fruition.

And it’s a messy process. There are lots of failed attempts, unsolved problems, and abandoned ideas along the way. That’s part of the buffer, too. These obstacles help us clarify our objectives and ultimately, get better results.

But sometimes these obstacles get the better of us and stop us from getting what we want. How do you overcome obstacles that keep you from achieving your goals?

You could power through the problem. Drink another cup of coffee, burn the midnight oil and do what needs to be done.

When we do this, we acknowledge the obstacle and then defeat it by refusing to give up. When we do, we’re often the better for it. Tired, but victorious!

But there’s another way and it’s a lot less taxing. Instead of fighting the problem, eliminate it.

Make a list of obstacles that are keeping you from achieving your goals. Your list might look something like this:

  • I don’t know what to do/don’t know how
  • I’m not good at [whatever]
  • I don’t have enough time
  • I don’t have enough money
  • I don’t like doing what I have to do
  • I lack confidence
  • I procrastinate (actually, this is a symptom; the obstacle is one of the other things on this list)

Then, make a list of ways you could remove those obstacles:

  • Get help doing the things you’re not good at or don’t like doing
  • Money: Sell something, save, use credit, find vendors who will barter
  • Eliminate or postpone other tasks and projects to free up time (prioritize/learn to say no)
  • Talk to someone who has done it and get their advice
  • Read, take a class, and learn how to do it or how to do it better
  • Hire an expert to advise you
  • Outsource all or part of it
  • Change the rules. Modify the goal or objective to suit your present situation
  • Ignore the problem and let your subconscious mind solve it while you’re doing something else

You can either work harder (power through the problem) or work smarter (eliminate or dilute the problem).

And if neither of these works, you can confess your sins to your wife, mom, partner, or client and have them make you do it.

Hey, whatever works.

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Networking by intent, not default

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If you do any networking, either in person or online, you know that most of the new business you get through networking comes from a small percentage of the people with whom you network.

Wouldn’t it be great to know in advance who they are? Wouldn’t you like to know who will refer business, hire you, or promote you so you could focus your efforts on them?

Unfortunately, I can’t tell you how to do that. But I can tell you how to increase the odds in your favor.

Instead of going to networking events and talking to whoever shows up, or adding and following people online who pop up in your dashboard, figure out who you would like to network with and then find ways to meet them.

Who are the centers of influence in your community or in your target market? Who are the players, the market makers, the ones who know everyone? Who could send you lots of business, give you advice, or introduce you to people you need to know?

Once you have answered that question, reach out to them. They may not give you the time of day, but if they do and you can build a relationship with them, it could allow you to take giant leaps in building your practice.

How do you reach out to them? You find someone they know and approach them first. Then, ask for an introduction.

Or just pick up the phone and call. You’re not some joker off the street. You have credentials. Smart people (the kind you want to meet) know that lawyers can be valuable contacts. They want to meet us as much as we want to meet them.

You’ll often find that the higher up the scale you go, the more approachable people are. It may take some time and you may have to go through other people first, but with a little effort you can meet just about anyone.

Of course that’s when the real work begins. Once you meet these people, you need to bring value to them. This too will take time, and effort, but you’ve already decided that it’s worth it.

Do you know the formula for building a successful law practice? 

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How to beat the competition in marketing a law practice

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If you want to build an average law firm, find out what other lawyers are doing and do the same thing. Target the cases and clients they target, network where they network, and make your website look like their website.

If you’re lucky, you will get average results. Why lucky? Because they got there first and will always be one step ahead of you. But in time, you may achieve parity with them. And hey, compared to digging ditches, being an average lawyer is not too shabby.

What’s that? You don’t want to be average? You want more? You want better?

Okay then. You need to be a little different.

Not radically different or spectacularly better. A little different. A little better.

Take your website for example.

Average lawyers have a piss poor website. There’s very little helpful information on it. No articles that help visitors understand their legal situation and options. What’s there is often poorly written. The articles aren’t optimized for search engines and the sites have no social media integration, so few people ever find the sites or share the content.

Good news for you. You can stand out from the average lawyer by posting some well written, helpful content on your site and making it easy for people to find it and share it. Not hundreds of articles. Ten will do. That’s all you need to stand out.

You can do the same thing with other aspects of your marketing. If other lawyers hang out at the chamber of commerce, go somewhere else. Network where they don’t. Don’t go head to head with them. Remember, you don’t want to be average, you want to be better.

How about client relations? The average lawyer does an average job of communicating with their clients. You can be better by contacting clients more often, explaining things more thoroughly, and injecting more of your personality into the mix.

How about billing? Now there’s a common sore spot for attorneys and clients alike. When average attorneys lose clients, it’s often over a billing issue. Can you be better than average by adopting better billing practices? Yes you can. In fact, I wrote a book about it.

I find that the average lawyer doesn’t want to be different. They don’t want to stand out. That’s where you have your biggest advantage.

You’re not afraid to study marketing and try new things. You dare to be different. You want to stand out.

And that’s why I’m putting my money on you over your competition.

Marketing a law practice online: click here

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You have been judged and found guilty

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I judge you. Yes I do. When you associate with someone who does bad things I think less of you. When you support and promote their business or message, when you re-post their words, when you listen to their music, I assume you believe in them and agree with their opinions and lifestyle. When you fail to denounce evil, or worse, support it, I conclude that you as either ignorant or that you share those values.

I’m not alone. Your clients feel the same way. So do your colleagues. Your friends and family may give you more slack but they are with me on this.

I see people online, people I thought I knew and liked, open their mouth and reveal to me their true self. I learn their values, their beliefs, and their habits, and too often I see a different person than the one I thought I knew.

Be careful who you follow and Like. Be careful what you say about the news. In this overly connected world, where everyone can see what everyone else is saying and doing, you need to edit everything that comes out of your mouth or your fingertips.

Am I saying you should be almost paranoid about what you do on social media? Yes I am. Am I saying you should strenuously avoid all controversial topics? No. Just that you should think about what you are doing and make a conscious choice before you take a stand.

Everything we do entails risk. No matter what you say there will always be people who disagree. But you run a business. Your business rises or falls on who and how many follow you, like you, and trust you. Push people away and your business suffers.

Be careful out there. People are watching you. And judging.

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You’re not thinking big enough

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If you’re not wealthy, there’s a good chance you’re not thinking big enough.

In, 10 Ways in Which Wealthy People Think Differently About Money, the author says, “The wealthy think big”:

When you focus on just surviving through retirement or paying the mortgage, you will just survive through retirement or pay the mortgage. Your brain needs something big to dream about. You must aspire to be something huge. Stop dreaming of only a million bucks. Write down the biggest dream you can think of and multiply it by 10. That’s thinking big.

I agree. You get what you focus on, big or small, good or bad, so you might as well focus on the biggest and best.

Money may not be your primary motivation in life. I get that. But let’s put aside that debate for now and continue to use money as a metaphor for success because that’s how we keep score and because more money means you can do more of whatever else it is you want to do, even if that means giving away most of that money.

Anyway, if you haven’t already done so, before reading further, do the exercise. Pick a big number and multiple by ten.

Got it? Let it roll around in your brain for a few seconds. Imagine yourself in possession of that amount. That’s your annual income. Or your total assets.

Now, don’t think about whether or not it’s possible or how you could do it, just answer this question: When you think about that number how do you feel?

Does it feel good and proper or does it feel like an impossible dream? Does it feel exciting and make you smile or does it make you nervous or fearful?

If it feels good, great. Continue thinking about that number (or a bigger one) and use it to pull you forward towards a wealthier future.

If it doesn’t feel good, we need to talk.

Okay, no lectures, and no psycho-babble about self-esteem or about negative money messages that were drilled into you at an early age. But if the thought of big money scares you or makes you feel anything bad, it means something.

For one thing, it means you’re not on a path towards wealth. Your subconscious won’t allow it. It doesn’t want you to feel bad, it wants you to feel good. Pick a smaller number. Keep going smaller until you feel good about the number. Your subconscious mind approves of that amount.

So now what? If your logical brain says you want big(ger) money but your subconscious brain says you can’t have it, do you give up and surrender to your inner fears and limitations?

No. What you do is forget about the dollar amount for the time being and find a thought about money that feels better when you think it. If thinking about earning ten million dollars makes you nervous, reach for a thought you can accept. You might think, “There are things I could do to earn more than I earn now,” for example.

How does that thought feel? If it feels good, move forward. Think more thoughts that feel good about the subject, and keep doing that until you feel good about the subject most of the time.

What happens is that over time you’re subconscious begins to accept those increasingly positive thoughts about money as truths and good for you, not something it needs to protect you from. It will then guide you towards activities that lead to results that are consistent with those thoughts.

In other words, don’t try to force yourself into thinking big. It’s not about will power. Simply reach for a thought about money that feels better and continue doing that. Before long, you will find yourself thinking big about money, or at least bigger than you did when you started.

The process needn’t take a long time. Practice thinking thoughts that feel good (about money or anything else) and in thirty days or less you will see demonstrative changes in your attitude towards the subject.

Your attitude guides your activities, your activities determine your results, and your results determine your happiness. (Cue Pharrell.)

There’s the bell. Class dismissed. Open book test on Friday.

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Turn your goals into problems and then solve those problems

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Lawyers are good at solving problems. We can look at a situation, decide what needs to be done, and take action to solve the problem. That’s what we do all day long for our clients. We know the objective–to win the case, to negotiate the contract, to protect the client’s business or assets–and we able systematically proceed towards solving the problem.

Why is it, then, that we’re often not very good at achieving our goals? Isn’t a goal really an unsolved problem?

Let’s say you have a goal of earning x per month by the end of the year. Your goal is also a problem: you’re not currently earning x per month. Now, how do you solve that problem?

When we solve problems one of the first things we do is look at the obstacles. If you want to win the case, you look for ways to eliminate or minimize your weaknesses. If there is a eye witness who hurts you, for example, you look for ways to challenge their sight line or establish bias.

Why aren’t you earning x right now? What are the obstacles? And what can you do to eliminate or minimize them?

Start by scrutinizing the elements. Look at your fee structure, practice areas, average fee, and number of cases or clients. You may discover that the weakness is simply that you’re not bringing in enough new clients. Fair enough. You have a new problem to solve.

Or perhaps you realize that your practice area is waning. You need a new one. You knew this but only now are you able to admit it.

But knowing the solution to the problem is only half the battle. It doesn’t mean you’ll do what you need to do.

You’re good at solving client problems because you want them to pay you and return and send referrals, and because your reputation (and bank account) are at stake. You are accountable to your clients. If you mess up, they’ll tell others. They may report you to the state bar. They may sue.

That kind of accountability ordinarily doesn’t exist with our goals. When nobody knows about your goal but you, if you don’t make it, oh well.

Tell your spouse, your partner, or your mastermind group about your goals and ask them to hold you accountable. If a lawyer friend knows about your goal, you won’t want him to know that you didn’t achieve it, or that you dropped the ball and didn’t even try. You’ll do what needs to be done to solve that problem.

Accountability is a bitch, but she loves you and wants you to succeed.

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Managing a law practice by playing childish games

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Remember playing “hot potato” as a kid? You stand in a circle and pass around a small object as quickly as possible. When the egg timer or oven buzzer sounds, whoever has the “potato” in hand is out. If you’re the last person left, you win.

Kinda like musical chairs. What, you don’t remember that either? Okay I’m old.

Anyway, I did my best to run my practice like a game of hot potato. My goal was to get things out of my hands and into someone else’s as quickly as possible.

I’d review a file, decide what needed to be done, and give it a secretary to handle. When she brought the file back, I’d do the same thing. I tried to leave work each day with everything off my desk and on someone else’s.

I did the same thing with opposing counsel and claims adjusters. Write the letter, make the call, draft the document, send it off. Out of my hands and into theirs.

It’s not a perfect system. Bigger projects, things I couldn’t delegate, problem files, were a constant. Getting everything else out of my hands, however, gave me time to handle them.

Take a look at your desk or your task list. What could you get rid of right now by handing it off to someone else?

Managing a law office is easier if you have some fun with it. Remind me to tell you about the time I brought a Hula Hoop to the office. . .

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Social Media Myths Busted (and other lessons for lawyers)

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I’ve been accused of being down on social media. It’s true that I don’t use it much, but I do use it. I realize it’s a big deal and it’s not going to go away. I also know that many people who read me and connect with me use social media extensively to provide value to their readers and followers and it makes sense for me to make it easier to do so.

I also understand that social media (done right) isn’t about advertising or selling, it’s about networking. I may not let on that I get the difference, but I do. It is a great tool for finding and reaching out to people in your niche, many of whom you would never meet at in-person networking events.

Apparently, a lot of people don’t get or don’t like social media. So when I saw a new book that promises to reveal the truth about social media and how Luddites like me can use it to increase our bottom line, I grabbed a copy.

In Social Media Myths Busted: The Small Business Guide to Online Revenue, social media expert Laura Rubinstein reveals the truth about common social media myths such as “It takes too much time,” “It’s not relevant to me,” and “You have to be an extrovert to be successful”.

After this, I might read, Social Media is Bullshit.

Whatever your take on using social media in your practice, there’s something else to be learned from Rubinstein’s book. Two lessons, actually, that can be used in marketing even if you never use social media.

The first lesson is about how she wrote the book. Although she is an expert on social media, Rubinstein interviewed 30 business owners and social media experts and got their take on the subject. Those interviews are distilled into the book. She was able to cobble together a book imbued with the knowledge and credibility of the interviewees, no doubt making the book better and easier to write.

Interviews allow you to write a book or any kind of content more quickly and easily. If you interview subject matter experts, their knowledge and experience will add depth to your content. If they aren’t experts, clients for example, their stories can provide context and human interest.

There’s another lesson from crowd sourcing content the way Rubinstein did it, and it’s a big one.

The thirty people she interviewed are all named in the book. They not only get the author’s stamp of approval, they also get exposure to thousands of people who read her book. Do you think these thirty experts might proudly promote this book to their lists and through their social media channels?

You bet your ass they will.

Tens of thousands of people who are interested in social media will hear about this book and want to see what their favorite guru says about social media. Result: Rubinstein is selling a ton of books.

She’s killing it. Bringing in cash, traffic to her web site, and opening doors to new marketing opportunities.

You don’t have to write a book to accomplish this. Interview some experts and post it on your blog. Feature them and their wisdom and they will send traffic to your site.

Where do you find these experts? How about social media?

More ways to create content, build traffic and get more clients, with or without social media: Click here.

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Is your marketing message like a horror movie? I hope so.

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Suppose you went to a horror movie and it was 90 minutes of non-stop slashing and killing. No plot, no character development, no suspense. You see the bad guy in action from start to finish. You know what’s going to happen next (more blood and guts) and you don’t care.

Bad script.

A good script plays with your emotions. It makes you think something might happen to someone you care about, but you’re not sure what it is or when it will happen. It tells a story, so that you can feel what the characters feel and get scared right along with them. There is a rhythm to the film, with highs and lows and twists and turns which keeps the story moving towards a satisfying ending.

You need to tell a similar story in your marketing.

Let’s say you handle divorce and you have an email list. Prospective clients subscribe because they are interested in learning more about divorce and haven’t made up their mind about what to do. So, you start emailing. What do you say?

Many lawyers send their list an endless message depicting the client’s pain (bad marriage) and the ultimate solution (divorce). Every email is basically the same.

PAIN. PROBLEM. (HIRE ME). PAIN. MORE PAIN. MORE PROBLEMS. ONGOING PAIN. (WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?) PAIN. PAIN. PAIN. . .

Bad movie. Your audience is more than likely to walk out (un-subscribe).

Nobody wants to listen to a non stop recitation of painful thoughts, any more than they want to watch 90 minutes of evisceration. Give your readers a dose of pain and problems, but then give them some relief before you go at it again.

Tell them about the problem and the solution you offer. Then, talk about something else. Tell them about one of your clients–what they went through and how they came out okay. After that, tell them another client story with a happy ending. Ah, just when they are feeling good and forgetting about their pain, boom, you remind them again about what might happen if they don’t take action.

The problems is still there. It’s not going away. They need to do something.

Next message, you might talk about alternative solutions. Mediation, counseling, marriage encounter.

Options. Relief. Something else that might work. Give them information, ideas, links.

Then, maybe something completely off topic. Talk about the wind chimes on your patio and how relaxing it is to watch the sunset and listen to the chimes after a hard day at work. Your list sees that you are a real person with problems and stress in your life, just like them.

Then you might talk about wills and trusts. This might not be one of your practice areas but everyone needs to know something about this, including people thinking about divorce. Give them a few tips. Refer them to a good estate planning lawyer you know.

Next up, more pain. They thought you had forgotten about that. They were trying to forget about it, but there you are, reminding them again. And you’re right. The problem isn’t going to go away by itself. They have to do something.

You mention that you have a questionnaire on your website that might help them put their situation into perspective. They fill it out. They see that you offer to speak with them, no charge or obligation, to answer their questions and tell them more about their options. They’ve been hearing from you for awhile. They trust you. They call.

Marketing is like dating. You don’t clobber the girl with a club and drag her to your cave. You court her. You let her know something about you and what you have to offer. You give her time to get to know you. You back off and let things develop naturally.

When she’s ready, she’ll let you know.

Learn how to build an email list and use it to get clients. Get this.

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