What you write isn’t as important as how you write it

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How do you write an original article or blog post? After all, hundreds or thousands of attorneys (and others) are writing about the same things. They talk about the same laws, the same legal system, the same problems and solutions.

The good news is that what you write isn’t nearly as important as how you write it.

Prospective clients don’t read your content because they want to learn the ins and outs of your practice area. They don’t really want to learn about the law, they want to learn about you.

Do they understand you? Do they relate to you? Do they like and trust you?

So, while content is important, style and personality are more so.

Don’t be concerned with delivering the definitive word on your subject. Write something that will make prospective clients see you as someone they would like to work with.

How?

By putting yourself in your writing.

Tell them about clients you’ve helped–what you did, why you did it that way, and what happened. Talk about how you feel about the issues and about your clients. Give them not just the facts, but your advice.

Don’t hold back, either. Give them the unvarnished truth. Write with passion. Open up your heart and your mind and share what’s inside, and let people see who you are.

And that’s the best news, because there’s only one you.

If you give the same raw material to 100 attorneys and ask them to write an article about that material, most of the articles will be very similar. A few will be unique and show readers why they should choose them as their lawyer.

Only a few because most lawyers don’t understand (or are unwilling to accept) the fundamental truth that clients don’t hire your knowledge or your experience, they hire you.

Marketing online for attorneys made simple

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The best way to increase your income

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My wife is a good shopper. On major purchases especially, she does her homework and makes sure that we always get a good price. She saves money by shopping online as much as possible. She buys fruits and vegetables at one grocery store, and paper goods at another. And she’s pretty good at finding sales when she buys clothes.

But although she is a good shopper, she’s not a great shopper. She doesn’t count pennies, she doesn’t clip coupons, and she doesn’t drive miles out of her way to save a dollar or two.

And that’s good because her time is valuable.

Now, how about you? Are you a good shopper or a great shopper?

I know attorneys who are good at keeping their overhead to a minimum. That’s good, but some attorneys go too far. If you want better clients, you have to have a decent office and clothing. It’s part of the deal.

I also know attorneys at the other extreme. They spend money needlessly. Ten dollars here, fifty dollars there, and before you know it, they’re wasting hundreds or thousands of dollars per month.

Every attorney should periodically audit their expenses. Do this for your practice and your home. Look for ways to cut expenses and lower your overhead. It’s the easiest way to increase your income.

Focus mostly on big expenses and recurring expenses. If you buy a new piece of software, it’s okay if you don’t get the best deal in town. But if you’re buying insurance or renting a new office, it obviously makes sense to invest extra time to find or negotiate the lowest cost.

But don’t spend too much time. I don’t want you to save $200 a month when you could use that time and energy to find ways to earn an additional $2,000 a month.

Be a good shopper, not a great one.

Earn more without working more. Here’s The Formula.

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Sell more legal services with better reviews and testimonials

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I got another five star review on one of my Kindle books (on network marketing). It was a great review:

“Probably the most valuable book on network marketing I have ever read. . . and that is saying a lot. If you are in direct sales or network marketing, you will find great benefit in this book. Buy it! Now.”

Nice, huh?

Yes. And very much appreciated. But as good as it is, it could have been better.

When a prospective buyer reads a positive review like this, they will want to know “why?” Why is it so good? How is it different? What will I learn? What will this help me to do? What has it helped you  to do?

They want specifics.

The same goes for reviews of your legal services.

When a client posts a positive review about you online, or sends you a testimonial, encourage them to provide details. If they say you treated them well, ask them to give an example. If they talk about the great job you did on their case, ask them to explain what they mean.

Did you get them a bigger settlement than they expected? Did you close the case quickly? Did you do something extra for them?

Were you nice to their kids? Did you regularly keep them informed about the progress of their case? If they had questions, did you answer them thoroughly? If you weren’t in when they called, did you call them back within 48 hours?

Specifics.

Specifics help prospective clients see the benefits of hiring you. They also make the review more believable.

Reviews that recommend you and your services will bring you more clients. Especially when those reviews explain why they are recommending you.

Want more referrals from other lawyers? Behold. . .

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Use your outside interests to build your law practice

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There’s a novelist who blogs about my favorite writing tool, Scrivener. I read one of his posts this morning and noticed one of his novels in his sidebar. I thought, “With all the novelists reading his posts, I’ll bet he’s selling more books.”

Because a lot of novelists use Scrivener, and because a lot of novelists like to discover new authors.

You can use your outside interests to do the same thing, that is, to get more people finding you and learning about your legal services.

Right now, I’m watching a lot of videos and reading blogs about the voice to text tool, Dragon NaturallySpeaking. I know that a lot of lawyers use DNS, or are interested in doing so. If I started a youtube channel on “Voice Dictation for Lawyers,” I’ll bet I could build a list of subscribers who would also be interested in my products and services.

You might be interested in classic films or travel or Apple products. Many of your prospective clients share your interest. They may not want to hear about legal matters right now, but they would love to read about your mutual interest.

If you write a blog, participate in online forums, start a group on social media, or post videos on a channel related to your interest, people will find you. Most won’t need your services right now, but some will. Over time, as you continue to post information or ideas or resources, more and more people will find you and tell their friends about your videos or posts.

As your blog or channel grows, you will also build your law practice.

Marketing is easier when you know The Formula

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Free advertising for your legal services

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Great news! I just scored you 50 free 30-second radio spots on a top-rated drive time radio show! You don’t have to pay a dime. (Not really.)

You can run a commercial for your law practice and bring in lots of new clients. It doesn’t matter what kind of practice you have, or if you’ve never advertised and can’t imagine doing so, this is free advertising, so say thank you and use it! (I’m just playin, but I have a point.)

There’s just one catch. (My fantasy, my rules.) You have to write the commercial yourself. (Horrors!)

The point of this exercise is to help you better understand what you offer your clients, and why they should hire you. Work with me, k?

I’ll help you get started. Here are some guidelines for creating your commercial:

1) CALL TO ACTION

Start with what you want the listener to do. Call your office to make an appointment? Call to ask questions? Call to request your free report? Go to your website to download your free report? Sign up for your seminar? A combination of the above? Something else?

Start with the end in mind. Writing your commercial will be easier because you know what you want to accomplish.

2) HEADLINE

What’s the first thing the actor who reads the spot (or you, if you record this yourself) will say to listeners to get their attention? Will they/you promise a benefit? Ask a question? Make a provocative statement?

Your headline is the most important part of your commercial, so make it great. If you don’t get the listener’s attention and make them want to listen, the rest of your ad won’t matter.

3) COPY

You only have 30 seconds, and yet that’s plenty of time to tell listeners what you want them to know about you and your services, about your report, or about something else that causes them to take action.

Will you tell a story about one of your recent clients? Will you talk about recent or pending changes in the law that will affect them? Will you warm them about something, or promise to help them get something they want and need?

A classic ad formula:

  1. State the problem. What is the listener facing, or what might happen in the future?
  2. Agitate the problem. What will happen if they ignore it, etc. How bad could it get?
  3. Present the solution. Your offer, your services, your report, your seminar, etc.
  4. State the benefits of this solution. What will they learn, gain, stop, prevent, etc?
  5. Tell them what to do to get the solution and benefits. This is your call to action.

Make notes about what to include in your ad. Then, start typing or recording, and don’t stop until you run out of things to say. Pretend you’re talking to a roomful of prospective clients. What do you want to tell them?

Now what? Now, throw this away. You’re not a copy writer and I didn’t score you any free advertising.

Okay, don’t throw it away. Hang onto it, so that when you decide you do want to advertise, you’ll have a place to start, or something to give to the copy writer you hire. You can also use your notes as fodder for creating other marketing documents.

That’s all for today. Fantasy over. Get back to work.

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“I’m at my best when. . .”

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I watched a replay of a webinar conducted by Nuance, the makers of Dragon NaturallySpeaking, about their new products. One of the speakers was a productivity expert who suggested that we take some time to think about when we are at our best, meaning when we do our best work and under what conditions we have our best days. He suggested we remind ourselves of these conditions by posting a note on our mirror or our computer screen.

He said he’s at his best when he starts his day by first checking overnight correspondence, then going to the gym. At the top of my list I would say, “I’m at my best when I have coffee first thing in the morning.”

I’m also at my best when I work at my desk, not when I’m mobile. At my desk, I have a full sized keyboard and access to files and notes and everything else I need. I can make or take calls in quiet, without worrying about the phone signal or finding a quiet place to talk. I can also take notes more easily.

Sitting at my desk also puts me in the mood to work. When I’m away from my desk, not so much.

When I’m out, I always have something to read (Kindle books, blogs, etc.) and a way to record notes. When I have downtime, I keep busy. At the mall the other day, my wife went into a store and I read. (Okay, I also played chess on my phone.)

I’ve taken my computer to a coffee shop and the library a few times, and I was able to get work done. That was a nice change of pace. But for every day work, I prefer being in my home office.

When it comes to work, I know when I’m at my best, and when I’m not. How about you?

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Advertising on the rocks with a twist

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Suppose you are a criminal defense lawyer who handles DUI’s. Would you like to have local bars pass out a flyer to all of their customers, advertising your services?

Try this:

Contact the owner of the bar and ask him how many cocktail napkins he uses each month. When he answers, tell him you will supply him with the same napkins free of charge. All he has to do is allow you to print your name and contact information on the napkins.

They get free napkins, you get advertising to a very targeted market, at very low cost.

Let’s say you handle personal injury cases. What if you approach auto insurance brokers who mail calendars to their clients and prospects, and make a similar offer. You’ll pay some or all of the printing and mailing costs, in return for adding your name and contact information.

Do you do estate planning or family law? Contact real estate brokers who mail calendars and note pads.

You get the idea.

Find other businesses or professionals who target the same market you do, and show them how they can lower or eliminate some or all of their advertising costs.

What’s that? You don’t advertise? Even the word makes you nervous?

No problem. Call it a joint venture. Offer to pass out their calendar or note pads or other items, in return for passing out your report, checklist, or planning guide.

Want more referrals from other lawyers? Get this

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What should I have my virtual assistant do for me?

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I got an e-mail from attorney who uses a virtual assistant “to write and edit letters to prospective clients”. He asked me what else he could have her do.

Great question.

To answer it, I’ll share a (slightly edited) email I received in response to a post I did about justifying the cost of hiring outside assistants:

I have a full-time VA in the Philippines. She costs me about $75 per WEEK (full time). I gladly pay this even though I often don’t have 40 hours’ worth of stuff for her to do. I don’t let her handle much for my law practice. Her English grammar is a bit off sometimes, but she updates websites, edits video, does show notes for my podcast, handles blog posting, social media promotion of my stuff, etc. She’s been invaluable in getting my courses and info products created and published. This frees up some time for marketing, client service, and for ME… I get to have dinner with my kids almost every night.

Letting go of control is my big challenge, but I’m working on it, and Managing a VA is a skill set that needs to be developed, too… the time/distance and cultural differences require some finesse… But I’m glad to have Joanna on my team. I encourage everyone to find a VA to help out with things.

So, here’s what I would do.

Make a list of every task that is performed in your practice, by you or anyone on your behalf. Write down everything, from opening the mail, opening and closing files, meeting with clients, writing articles, and everything in between.

Then, look at that list and put a check mark next to every task that can only be done by YOU.

You probably do a lot of things that someone else could do. They may not do it as well, but as long as they can do it at an acceptable level, you should let them do it.

Make sure break down the tasks that only you can do into sub-tasks that others can do.  You may be the one who conducts the trial, but you can have others assemble documents and write (the first draft) of motions.

Now, what about the tasks that nobody is doing? What could you have a VA or employee do to help you with marketing, for example? That depends on your objectives and what you’re willing to do to accomplish them.

If you want to do Facebook advertising, you can have an assistant find keywords, create the ad graphics and copy (or co-ordinate with freelancers), and manage the campaigns.

If you have my new course on getting referrals from lawyers, you would have your assistant find other lawyers that you can contact to discuss referrals and joint ventures. The VA can compile details about what they do, make the initial contact on your behalf, and follow-up with those who respond affirmatively.

Do only those things that only you can do and delegate everything else. But first you have to figure out what needs to be done.

Get more referrals from other lawyers: click here

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What’s next?

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What are you working on right now? What will do after that?

What project(s) have you lined up for next week, next month, and later this year?

It could be anything: hiring a new virtual assistant, updating your website, or getting trained on a new contact management system. Whatever it is, you need to know what’s next.

I just finished a project (Lawyer to Lawyer Referrals) and I’m already working on the next one. I also know what I’ll do after that.

For me, knowing my next project gives me time to think about that project before I start it. I can do research, outline and plan. My subconscious mind will cogitate on the subject and prompt me with ideas and questions.

Knowing what’s next also means I don’t have any “dead air”. I go from one project to the next without missing a step. And if I have any challenges with a project, or it fizzles out, I always have something else to turn to.

It’s exciting to think about what I’ve got lined up. Thinking about future projects inspires me to finish the current one.

I don’t know my next ten projects, just the next two or three. But I have a list of hundreds of ideas to draw from, and as I complete the next few projects, I’ll have the next few lined up.

Mind you, I’m not obsessed with planning. I like a little spontaneity in my life. When I stumble upon a new idea that excites me, I’m fine with pushing aside my other projects to make room for it.

No matter what productivity system or method use, or if you don’t use any, develop the habit of always knowing what’s next. Whenever you start a project, ask yourself, “What’s will I do after this?”

When you know what’s next, your productivity will soar.

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Voice to text dictation with Dragon Naturally Speaking

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A long time ago, my colleagues and I dictated most of our letters, pleadings and other work product into a recording device, to be transcribed by a legal secretary. At first, we recorded onto a magnetic belt or tape. Later, we used cassette tapes (micro and regular size).

I could type, but this was before computers, and correcting typos, even on a Selectric with built in correction tape, was not the best use of my time.

Today, I type. But in my never-ending quest to increase my writing output, I have lately been experimenting with voice to text (speech to text) apps, including an old version of Dragon Naturally Speaking which I’ve had on my hard drive for several years.

I’ve tinkered with it in the past, but never used it consistently, mainly because of the learning curve and concomitant time it always seemed to require.

That, plus I am a quick typist.

And yet, I know that voice dictation is quicker, and if I can master DNS, I will increase my productivity.

This post wasn’t dictated with the software, but I have started using it daily. I’m learning the program’s commands, practicing my old dictation habits, and things are coming along. Period. Paragraph.

Nuance, which makes the software, just announced a new app for mobile, Dragon Anywhere, coming this fall. This looks amazing for those who are frequently away from their computer. When I’m out, I use Siri to dictate on my phone, but you have to stop and re-set every 30 seconds. Dragon Anywhere offers unlimited dictation time.

Nuance also announced a new Professional version for individuals. I couldn’t resist the price so I upgraded. (If you have DNS, go to Help on the menu and “check for upgrades”.

One thing I like about the upgrade (that I don’t have on my old version) is the ability to import an audio file for transcription. If I don’t subscribe to Dragon Anywhere (it will be a monthly subscription), this will be a big help.

If you read reviews about DNS, you find a mixed bag. A lot of people have had problems with installation and use of their products. Other reviews sing their praises.

If you use voice dictation in your work, or you have done so in the past, I’d love to hear your experiences. What do you use? How has it helped to improve your work flow? Do you have any tips to share?

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