Getting referrals without breaking a sweat

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See, I get it. You don’t want to ask your clients or professional contacts for referrals. Even though I’ve shown you more than a few easy and natural ways to do that, you’d rather swallow a cup of nails than ask anyone to send you some business.

Alrighty then. Be that way. But let me show you another option.

Instead of asking people to refer clients to you, ask them to refer those folks to your content. Or more accurately, share that content with them and ask them to do the same.

Have you ever shared a video you like on Youtube or Flakebook? Have you ever shared a blog post or article with someone you think might like it, too? Of course you have. And you will continue to do that because we’re humans and humans like to share.

Why not do the same thing with your own content?

Tell folks about yur article and ask them to share it. Ask your clients to forward the link to your new report to anyone who might benefit from the information. Ask them to hit the share button on your blog post or youtube video.

When you’re networking and someone asks a legal question, give them a page on your website that addresses that issue.

People come to your website, consume your content, see that you know what you’re doing, and before you know it, you have some new clients.

Easy.

Your content shows people what you do and how you can help them or people they know. Your content sells them on hiring you, so you don’t have to. All you have to do is get your content out into the world and ask people to share it.

The catch? You have to have some content to share. You have to write something or record something that prospective clients want to consume.

So do that. And then share it.

Let me show you how easy this is.

Do you know a lawyer who might want to get more clients and increase his or her income? Forward this email to them so they can see that getting referrals is easy. Add a note to the top: “Joe, thought you might like this”.

(If you’re reading this on my blog, click the share button and send it that way).

Done and done.

See, that wasn’t difficult?

Now, go write something and share it.

More easy ways to get referrals

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Facebook wants us to kill each other but I’m not taking the bait

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Facebook and other social media platforms are rife with ugliness, especially during the political season. It’s like we’re all in a giant sandbox, yelling at the other kids and calling them a doody face. Facebook censors a lot of content but they’re smart enough to realize that the more we fight, the more eyeballs they get on their ads.

Anyway, this morning I thought that a good rule of thumb would be to never say anything on social media we wouldn’t say in person.

What do you think, good rule?

I’ve blocked so many “friends” lately it’s crazy. Me: “Okay, I used to think this person was smart, now I see they are an idiot. Or evil. Or both. Life is too short and I don’t want to have anything to do with them. Blocked.”

Why not reply? Defend my side of the issue? Show them the error of their wicked ways?

Not worth it. I have better things to do. Besides, I don’t really know most of them.

Sometimes (and by sometimes I mean every day) I wish there were no social media.

Omm.

Anyway, this morning, I read an article about a memo written by advertising legend David Ogilvy in 1982. The memo includes ten “rules” for better writing, the tenth of which made me pause and reflect: “If you want ACTION, don’t write. Go and tell the guy what you want.”

Of course today he would be vilified on social media for saying “guy” instead of “person,” but it’s good advice don’t you think? If it’s important, talk to people.

What if instead of writing a demand letter we went and visited opposing counsel and told them what we wanted and why? Or at least called and spoke to them?

I don’t know if we’d get better results but I’m almost certain our interaction would be more professional and dignified. We might get testy but we’d have a conversation, not a shouting match (usually). Even if we didn’t agree on anything, we would at least respect the other person in the morning.

In my pre-digital days, I encountered many fools but I was able to get along with most of them.  I had no choice. I couldn’t block them so I had to learn how to play nice with those doody faces.

I do use social media. Here’s how

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My take on gun control

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I have a very strong opinion on the gun control issue. I’d like to share it with you but I would be a fool if I did. I write about marketing, not politics or policy. Telling you my opinion on an emotionally charged issue like gun control might satisfy my need to express myself, but from a marketing standpoint it would be a mistake.

I might lose half of my readers who disagree with me. If I represented a special interest group or had a talk show or forum of some sort where “taking sides” was part of the deal, fine. But I don’t, so why unnecessarily alienate people who might hire me?

As a friend of mine colorfully advises, “Don’t shit on your money”.

And that’s my advice to you.

There is a way to talk about issues like gun control, climate change, abortion, and the like without stabbing yourself in the back. You do that by writing about those issues as though you were writing a Bar exam essay.

Present both sides of the issue–the legal arguments and the body of law–in an unbiased manner. The facts and arguments on one side, and then the other. Leave out the conclusion altogether, or couch it in terms of “if/then”.

State the facts and keep your opinion to yourself.

Your clients and prospects, readers and listeners, will appreciate you for educating them about both sides of the issue and for giving them credit for making up their own mind. You have presented a valuable service to them, and haven’t pushed anyone away.

I know, it’s hard to keep mum about what we think, especially when we have strongly held opinions about important issues. But we just can’t go there.

When I see what some people post on Facebook, I have to bite my tongue and watch cat videos to calm down. But I don’t comment. I also don’t like political posts I agree with. I don’t let anyone know my opinion.

Lately, however, I’ve taken to un-following people who reveal their foolishness through their posts. I’m not their client or prospect, so it doesn’t matter, but if I were, their opinions might cost them a small fortune.

What to write on your website or blog

 

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Email marketing done wrong

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I got an email this morning, from a guy in Russia. The subject, “Let’s do business”. The message:

I’m running a digital marketing agency focusing on local businesses that need help getting leads using PPC and Facebook ads.

One of the niches we’re definitely interested in are attorneys and you seem like an expert on this topic.

I’m not sure what kind of marketing services you provide to your clients but it would be good to have a quick talk and and see if we can bring more value to your customers by working together on some projects.

I won’t want to bore you with excessive details. . . get back to me if you’re interested in general. . .

You don’t know what kind of services I offer? Why not? You want to work with me on some projects? Yeah, I think I’ll pass. But I’ll use your email as an example of email marketing done wrong, thank you.

I don’t want to talk to this guy. I don’t know him and he obviously doesn’t know me. But even if he said something brilliant and I wanted to learn more, it’s waay too soon to talk.

So no thanks. Delete. Bye.

What could he have done differently?

For starters, how about personalizing the email? Show me you’ve actually read something I wrote or at least know what kinds of services I offer.

Then. . . let’s see. . .

How about mentioning the name of someone I know who referred you to me? That would get my attention.

Or how about mentioning the name of someone in my field you’re working with whose name would impress me and show me you’ve got some credentials?

How about friending me on social media, first? Like and share my posts, engage me, talk to me about something we have in common. When you email me, then, you can mention that we’re connected and remind me that we already have a “relationship” before you take the next step.

How about offering me something I might be interested in? A free report, a tip sheet, a checklist, a video, for example, that shows me how to make more money, save time, get more leads, or something else that interests me, related to what you do?

How about offering me a free trial of your product or service, so I can see if it’s something I want to use or recommend to my clients?

How about at least giving me your website, so I can learn something about you and how you can help me?

Get my attention, first. Show me you have something beneficial to offer to me or my clients. Earn my trust, before asking me to talk.

Attorneys can use cold emails in their marketing. But don’t just blast them out and hope for the best. Don’t “spray and pray”. Learn something about the prospective client or referral source, meet them where they are, take them by the hand and walk them towards where you want them to go.

They’ll come, but at their pace, not yours.

Marketing online? Here’s what you need

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Successful lawyers don’t have time for Facebook

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Busy, successful lawyers don’t have a lot of time for Facebook. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use social media in your marketing if you want to. It means you need to be careful that you don’t look like you have an abundance of free time to do it, especially during work hours.

And yet, that’s what many attorneys do.

They might actually be extremely busy and only log in once or twice a day. They might re-post or share others’ posts and not create any of their own. They might use software to automate everything and spend only five or ten minutes a day on social.

It doesn’t matter. If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck.

Don’t be a duck.

Watch what you post, and when. Post about weekend things on the weekends. During the workday, be careful. Share your law firm blog post, but don’t invite people to play a game.

And whatever you do, don’t post too much or too often.

In some businesses, an easy lifestyle with lots of free time are part of the sales pitch. You want people to see (or think) that you don’t work that hard and have lots of time for sports, working on your classic car, and trying out new restaurants.

But people think successful lawyers are busy and work hard, and even if that’s not true of you, that’s what you want the world to think.

Want to know how I use social media for marketing? Get this

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And the award goes to. . .

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I won! I am the best blogger in the legal marketing arena. A NYC law firm just said so. They posted it on their blog, wrote about it in their newsletter, and sent out a press release telling the legal media why they think my blog is la creme de la creme.

Woo hoo! What an honor! I’m going to tell everyone I know!

Okay that didn’t happen. But if it did, I would certainly tell everyone I knew about it and give them a link to the firm’s website where they announced that I had won.

Wouldn’t you?

So, how could you use this idea for marketing purposes? Hmmm, let’s see. . .

What if once a month you announced your “client of the month” and featured one of your business clients on your blog or in your newsletter?

What if you announced an award to a local business or professional practice that isn’t a client but gave you or someone you know great service?

What if you let your clients or subscribers nominate local businesses and then vote on the winner?

Find people or businesses (or charities, community groups, etc.) who are doing something right and honor them with an award. Give them a certificate or a plaque, feature them on social media, interview the owner, and send out a press release.

You’ll get someone who is grateful for the attention and will probably send their customers, clients, or friends to your website to see what you said about them. You’ll get some new subscribers and followers, links to your website, and maybe some new clients.

And you’ll feel good knowing you called attention to someone who deserves it.

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Marvel’s new superhero is an attorney

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Breaking news: Marvel’s new superhero is an attorney.

Well, it should be. After all, attorneys do for their clients the same things Thor does for Asgardians, and we only think we’re gods.

Clients want their attorneys to keep them safe, vanquish the bad guys, and give them peace of mind. They want their attorneys to have amazing strength and skills and always know what to do. And that is the image we must continually portray.

But clients also want to connect with their attorneys on a human level. They want to know that we can relate to their problems and understand how they feel. They want to know that we are invulnerable on the outside, but on the inside, in many ways we’re just like them.

Show your clients that you are vulnerable on the inside and you will endear them to you. Share some of your failures and shortcomings and how you overcame them. Let them know about some of your faults and fears.

In speaking with clients, in your writing and public speaking, in interviews, let people see that there is a real person inside the superhero costume. Give them a glimpse of your personal life. Tell them what you do on weekends, talk about your kids, your vacations, and your outside interests.

Let them know that while you slay dragons during the day, at night you’re a mom or dad, a husband or wife, and a member of your community. Just like them.

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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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Put all your eggs in one basket, just make sure it’s YOUR basket

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I constantly beat the “focus” drum–do a few things and do them well, don’t spread yourself too thin, don’t try to be all things to all people.

I agree with Mark Twain who said, “Put all your eggs in one basket and then watch that basket.”

On the other hand. . . you’ve got to be smart about things.

You shouldn’t rely on one client for 100% of your business, no matter how much business they give you.

Things happen. You think you’ve got it made in the shade and then the client hires someone else. Or they grind you on fees, knowing you have no choice. I spoke with an attorney yesterday who is now “starting over” because this very thing happened to him.

Neither should you rely on one marketing platform or methodology.

Also yesterday, I learned that a Facebook friend of mine had his account shut down. I don’t know what he did to incur the wrath of the Blue-and-White Devil. Insulted someone? Promoted something “too much”? All I know is that hundreds of his Facebook “friends” have signed a petition asking that he be allowed back.

It’s touching to see this outpouring of love, pleading for this man’s digital life. It’s also frightening to imagine that if he loses his appeal, his business might be in big trouble.

I thought about what I would do if this happened to me. If my account was shut down, would I lose business? Go out of business?

No. Not at all. I don’t depend on Facebook, or any other social media platform. I get some business through social media, but I don’t depend on it. Having my account shut down would be inconvenient, but not insurmountable. I would open a new account and start over.

Or not.

Truth be told, I find social media to be depressing. I really wouldn’t miss it.

I’ve got my blog and my email list and I have complete control over them. Nobody can tell me what I can and can’t post. I can insult anyone I want to. Nobody can shut me down.

So yes, put all your eggs in one basket. Just make sure you own the basket.

Want a simple marketing plan for your law practice? Get this.

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7 things you probably don’t know about me

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I usually don’t share a lot about my personal life, at least not online. If you look at what I post on Flakebook and other sites, it’s either business-related or something fun but impersonal, e.g., cat videos others have posted.

And yet I do believe it’s a good idea to open up and tell people a little bit about yourself. It helps them get to know you and like you (“You do that, too?!’) When you have something in common, they begin to trust you.

Anyway, here are 7 things you probably don’t know about me:

  1. I entered law school at age 20. I wasn’t the youngest in my class, however.
  2. I sold my boyhood coin collection to open my first law office.
  3. I used to play the drums; now I play table tops and my thighs.
  4. In in 80’s, I owned a real estate seminar business. C’mon, didn’t everyone?
  5. I built a successful network marketing business and wrote a book about it.
  6. My favorite game is chess. I also like word games. I played a lot of poker in college.
  7. I would like to try stand-up comedy some day. People tell me I’m funny; I tell ’em, “looks aren’t everything”.

No, not shocking. Not even very interesting. I don’t sky dive in the nude, I’ve never climbed a mountain, and I’ve never performed the Heimlich maneuver (although I did take a CPR class once).

Okay, now it’s your turn. Make a list of things your clients probably don’t know about you and post it (or a portion thereof) on your website and on social media. Email it to your list.

You don’t need to share your darkest secrets. They already know you’re a lawyer and eat your young.

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