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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Marketing online is easier than you think

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I have a blog but I am not a blogger.

There’s nothing wrong with blogging, it’s just not what I do.

Bloggers focus on engaging their visitors and social media connections. They encourage visitors to leave comments and to visit their social media pages, and they spend time reading those comments and responding to them.

I don’t. In fact, I don’t get many comments. Lawyers are busy. I am, too. If I got lots of comments, I’d probably turn off the comment function on my blog.

Yes, I have a blog. But that doesn’t make me a blogger. Bloggers have lots of guest posts, interviews, videos, graphics, and links to other sites. I don’t. These aren’t important to me.

I’m not a blogger. I write emails to my subscribers, share information, teach and train, and tell stories. I communicate with my subscribers, provide value, and sell my products and services.

I do post most of my emails on my blog, however. This brings search engine traffic. I have more than 1000 posts now, all serving to attract visitors who are looking for marketing and productivity ideas and solutions.

I also get traffic from social media, as visitors share my content with their connections. (I don’t do much with social media myself.)

The content on my blog does something else for me. It shows visitors that I know what I’m doing and how I can help them. I don’t have to work hard to convince them to buy my products or services. The content does most of the convincing for me.

Having an email list means that when I launch a new product, as I just did, I send an email to my list and get a crush of orders.

I don’t spend a lot of time on marketing, either. Once I have an idea for an email/post, I write the first draft (usually) in five minutes. In thirty minutes (usually), it’s done and sent and posted on the blog.

Why am I telling you this? Because I want you to know that you can do what I do. You can build your practice by building an email list and posting content on your website (blog).

You can build a list of prospective clients and referrals sources and stay in touch with the people on that list, and use your emails as content for a blog.

If you’re still on the fence, take my “today” challenge. Write a short email today explaining what you do for your clients. A few paragraphs is all you need.

Here, I’ll help you: “I help people get/keep/avoid __________. I do that by ____________”.

Pretty easy, huh?

Now, email it to someone. And post it on your website.

Guess what? You’re not a blogger, either. But you’re doing what I do.

Marketing online is easier than you think. If you want to know where to start, or where to get ideas to write about, I’ve laid all that out for you in Make the Phone Ring.

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When people need you but don’t hire you

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I spoke with a guy who does websites for attorneys. He told me he has a client who is getting approximately 20 leads a month via his website but very few of them make an appointment. He wanted to know if I could help.

Of course I can help. I’m friggin Batman.

I took a quick look at his website and saw a lot of issues, but one issue tells most of the story. He doesn’t offer free consultations.

If you want to talk to the attorney, you have to pay.

He handles high end divorces and his site says he charges for a consultation so clever spouses can’t talk to him and thus eliminate him as a lawyer for their spouse (conflict).

True or not, I’m not sure prospective clients buy this explanation, and this is coming from a guy who practiced in Beverly Hills where this tactic is common. If prospects don’t buy this (or understand it), you’re not scoring points on the trust meter.

If you want to charge for a first consultation, “sell” the consultation by telling prospects all of the value delivered during that consultation. What do they learn? What do they get? How do they benefit? You should do this even if you offer free consultations.

Anyway, not the point.

The point is, is he making money? He gets a low percentage of leads converting to appointments, but if he closes them at the appointment, he might be doing just fine. Perhaps he doesn’t need to convert more leads to appointments, perhaps he should work on getting more traffic.

Charging for consultations weeds out people who aren’t serious or who might not be able to pay his fee if they wanted to hire him. He saves a lot of time by not talking to them, and time is money, even if you don’t bill by the hour.

On the other hand, he might earn more by offering free consultations. He would undoubtedly set more appointments, and this might lead to more clients and more revenue. He could screen out low-percentage prospects by speaking with them for a few minutes on the phone before setting an appointment, or having someone in the office do that.

If the conflict of interest issue is on the level, so be it. Otherwise, I would suggest running a test. Offer free consultations for a month or three and see what happens.

He might get more calls and more clients and conclude that he’s better off offering free consultations and very glad he found out. Or he might find that while he’s getting more appointments, he’s not getting more sign-ups and he can go back to his original plan.

Make sense? Good. Now go make some dollars.

For more awesome ideas on marketing online, get this

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I’d love to interview you

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You get an email from an admirer. Someone who reads your blog, gets your newsletter, or sees your social media posts. Or someone who heard you speak and thought you were the bees knees.

They have their own blog or newsletter, and they want to interview you and share your wisdom with hundreds (or thousands) of readers who happen to be in your target market. The interview will be 20-30 minutes over the phone, or they can send you five or ten questions you can answer via email.

Sounds good, doesn’t it? Some great exposure for you. Could bring in a lot of new clients. The answer is “yes”.

Of course it is. And that’s exactly what the person you ask to interview for your blog or newsletter will say when you reach out to them.

That’s right, while you’re waiting for someone to ask you for an interview, you find people with a following in your target market and interview them.

You’ll get interesting content for your blog or website or newsletter. Your readers will like it, and like you for sharing it, and you don’t have to do any writing.

You’ll get traffic to your site, via search engines and social sharing. More prospective clients, more subscribers for your list.

You’ll get traffic and subscribers from the friends and followers of your interview subject who will undoubtedly promote the interview to his lists.

And you’ll get a new contact who appreciates the opportunity to be interviewed and who will at some point realize that they should interview you.

So, what are you waiting for? Go interview someone.

Marketing online for attorneys: Click here

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Why didn’t you write this?

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I saw a post on Mashable this morning and thought of you. The title is How to decide whether to elect an S-corp for your business. I’m mentioning it to you because I wanted to ask, “Why didn’t you write this?”

In the five hours since it was published (as of this writing), it has 1300 shares. If you had written this, a lot of people would have seen your name, your bio, and a link to your website.

The post is around 900 words. You could have written this in less than an hour. You might not have had it published on Mashable, but maybe you would. The author isn’t an attorney. She got it published. Why not you?

You could write a basic article like this about any practice area. And there are hundreds of places to have your article published. Blogs, magazines, and newsletters galore that need content, written by authorities like you.

Maybe you haven’t written an article like this before and don’t know where to start. No problem. Start with this article (or find one in your practice area) and reverse engineer it.

Make an outline from the article, then write your article from that outline. Add different information, add stories from your clients files, write in your own voice and style, and change the title. Done.

Here’s your homework:

  1. Set up a file for this project and start adding ideas for articles you could write.
  2. Do a search with keywords appropriate for your practice area and find articles you could have written. Add the links or actual articles to your file. Use these articles to write your own version of these articles, or to get more ideas.
  3. Search for websites and blogs in your target market. Find their “editorial guidelines” (article length, topics, focus, etc.) and their submission or query process. If all of the articles appear to be staff written, you can still query the editor. You never know. Yours might be the first outside post they accept.
  4. Write your first article this week. If you’re not ready to submit it to a blog or magazine, publish it on your website.

Publishing articles brings website traffic, enhances your bio, and gives you material your can re-purpose for reports, ebooks, and presentations. It can get you invitations to speaking engagements and interviews, and opens doors to getting more articles published.

Still not sure? Write a “practice” article that you won’t show anyone. Give yourself permission to write something awful.

When I was getting started writing, that’s what I did. I told myself to just get a first draft written, no matter how bad, and I could fix it later. When that draft was done, I found it really wasn’t that bad. It was actually quite good. A little editing and I had something publishable.

I’m betting it will work out that way for you.

Need ideas for writing? Get this

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The biggest mistake lawyers make with online marketing

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Last week I referenced an article about “lethal mistakes” lawyers make with their online marketing. I agreed with some of the mistakes, disagreed with some, and was mystified by the absence of others.

I asked what you thought was missing, and by your responses, you showed me that you are paying attention.

Your list of mistakes included things like

  • The absence of fresh content
  • Too much about “the firm” and not enough about the client/visitor and his problems
  •  No call to action (telling visitors what to do)
  • Too impersonal, formal, unapproachable

Correctamundo.

You get it.

Why weren’t these in the article?

I don’t know.

Anyway, before I reveal to you the number one lethal mistake lawyers make with their website, I want to mention another article about lawyers’ websites that provided some alarming, but not surprising, statistics:

According to this article

  • Nearly 40% of small law firms don’t have websites
  • 70% don’t have a call to action on their home page
  • 97% of law firm websites fail to deliver any kind of personalized content
  • Only 35% have been updated in the last three years
  • 68% don’t have an email address on their home page [see my comments below]
  • 27% don’t have a phone number on their home page
  • Only one-third are optimized for mobile devices

The last issue is especially noteworthy in view of Google’s recent announcement about penalizing sites that aren’t mobile friendly.

The article also said that “only 14% of law firms send a triggered email to a visitor who submits a form online”. That number is skewed, I am sure, because most law firm sites don’t even have a form that allows visitors to email them.

Your site needs a contact form, so visitors who aren’t ready to call you can communicate with you by email. Posting your email is good, but using a form is better. It makes it easier for visitors to contact you, and that means more will (and that’s a good thing, yo.). A form can also reduce spam and allow you to direct visitors to supply information you will need when you reply.

That form should send an automated reply so people will immediately know “message received” and what will happen next. Without this, visitors are likely to keep looking.

Okay, now for the biggest mistake.

Your emails to me mentioned it. So you know it’s important. I’m not sure if you realize how important, however.

The biggest mistake is not having a form for visitors to subscribe to your email list or newsletter.

You need a form and you need to tell people to subscribe. Tell them on every page. And give them reasons why they should. Tell them how they will benefit by filling out your form. What will they get, learn, or avoid?

Why is it so important to get people to subscribe? Because most people who visit your website for the first time

(a) aren’t ready to hire you,
(b) aren’t ready to contact you to ask questions or schedule an appointment, and
(c) aren’t likely to return to your website.

First time visitors are gathering information, about the law and procedure and their options, and about lawyers who can help them.

News flash: yours isn’t the only website they visit.

If you don’t capture their name and email on the first visit, and use that to stay in touch with them, the odds are you will never hear from them again.

Which means you’re losing business. A lot more than you may realize.

When visitors subscribe to your email list, you can continue to send them information, remind them about the solutions you offer, and show them why they should choose you instead of any other lawyer. You can continue to sell yourself and your services.

Six days, six weeks, or six months from now, you can continue having that conversation and convert more people into paying clients.

Even if they’re not ready to hire you, even if they never hire you, they can send you referrals and traffic and promote your events and share your content and help you build your email list further.

But none of that will occur if you don’t know who they are.

Without a list, you can’t stay in touch with visitors, earn their trust, seek their feedback, ask for their testimonials, invite them to your seminars, tell them about updates to your site, or do anything else to build a relationship with them.

And that’s why building a list is numero uno.

Your website’s content is critically important. But if that’s all you focus on, you’re asking your site to do too much.

You could take away my blog, my social media accounts, remove any mention of me from search engines, and cancel anything else I do to promote my products and services, and I would survive because I would still have my list.

Building a list is the most important thing a lawyer can do to market their practice, and most lawyers don’t do it.

Learn how to build your list and market your practice online.

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Superbowl commercials: spending millions and getting pennies

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Last night, I watched almost all of the Superbowl commercials back to back. I had heard that they were mostly a poor lot, with a handful of standouts, and that’s pretty much what I found.

But I didn’t watch merely for entertainment value. I wanted to see if any of these multi-million dollar creations did something that is essential in advertising. On this, they all failed miserably.

Toyota ran a good ad, about a man driving his daughter to the airport. Visually and emotionally effective. If they asked for my opinion before they ran it, here’s what I would have said:

Okay, Toyota, this ad is going to be seen by hundreds of millions of people all over the world. Many viewers will associate your name and brand with a positive message (what it means to be a father), and that’s good.

In addition to that, how would you like to have the names and email addresses (and zip codes) of a million future car buyers who saw that spot and wanted more information about your vehicles?

That would be cool, wouldn’t it? You could send them an online brochure, more videos, and an invitation to come in to their local dealer for a test drive.

You could also notify them when their dealer is having a sale, remind them when the new models are in, and send them special offers on maintenance and accessories.

On holiday weekends, you could invite them to come get free hot dogs and hamburgers and balloons for the kids. While they are in your dealer’s parking lot, they can get a free assessment of the trade-in value of their current vehicle, and take a test drive of the new model.

If you had this list and did these things, do you think you might sell more cars?

I think so, too.

So, here’s what I suggest. Instead of ending the ad on an emotional note and hoping for the best, put an offer in the ad. Offer viewers something they might want, like a $500 discount coupon on their next Toyota, and tell them how to get it. Tell them to go to a specific page on your site, provide their name and email and you’ll send it to them.

You’ll easily spend $500 per head on newspaper and TV ads to bring in prospective customers, but that’s money down the drain if they don’t buy. With a coupon offer like this, it costs you nothing unless someone buys a car.

Alas, they didn’t hire me and there was no offer in the ad. They missed out on a prime opportunity, and so did all of the other advertisers.

Many ads had a website, but in small letters at the bottom of the screen, almost as an afterthought. None had an offer. No incentive to visit the website and no call to action telling viewers what to do, and why. I watched the Victoria’s Secret spot several times, just to make sure I didn’t miss it, but no dice.

A few ads came close. They said things like, “To see more. . .”, and directed viewers to a specific page, but didn’t provide enough specifics or incentives to get anyone to take action.

I saw a lot of hashtags. Great. More people who know your name but don’t go to your website or sign up on your list.

These are billion dollar companies who spend millions on ads that don’t accomplish a fraction of what they could.

Why? Is it because they don’t know what they could do? In many cases, yes. They are so caught up in image and brand, and so far removed from actually selling anything, they are clueless about how to increase their bottom line. Others know but think that direct response advertising is beneath them.

Foolishness.

The lesson is simple. In every ad, in every piece of marketing collateral you circulate, offer something prospective clients or customers would want enough to identify themselves to you, and tell them what to do to get it.

It’s okay to use puppies and beautiful women to get their attention, but once you have it, get them to your site and onto your list so you can stay in touch with them and actually sell them something.

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7 ways to write faster

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My goals this year require me to do more writing. To accomplish this, I plan to write faster.

The faster I write, the more work product I will get out the door producing more income, bringing more traffic, generating more leads, and building my brand.

Here’s how I plan to accomplish this:

(1) Stick with what I know

One of the biggest causes of writers’ block is not knowing what you want to say. When you write about what you know, writing is easier and faster.

You also don’t have to do a lot of research. If I do need to research a particular subject, I’ll either do it before I write, so as to not interrupt the flow, or “write around it,” i.e., leave a blank and come back to the subject later.

(2) Create more detailed outlines

I often find myself going down rabbit holes and off on side roads in my writing because I haven’t done enough advance planning. More detailed outlines will allow me to know what I’m going to say before I say it. That will allow me to not only write faster, but avoid wasting time on topics that are off subject.

(3) Write shorter

I’m working on a book now that will be less than one-third the length of the previous one. Shorter writing means more readers coming into my funnel. It also means I can get onto the next project that much quicker.

To write shorter, I’ll (a) choose narrower topics and (b) leave out some details, explanations, and examples.

(4) Bigger daily word count

I write every day, but I don’t crank out as many words as I know I could. This year, I’m committed to a bigger daily word count. I’ll do that by using the AIC method (“ass in chair”).

(5) Dictate more

I wrote most of the first draft of the book I’m working on now in a few hours. How? By looking at my outline and dictating it. I’ll transcribe it myself and flesh it out as I do so.

I’ll also try working more with Dragon Naturally Speaking, which I haven’t yet been able to master.

(6) More music to tame my inner teenager

After about 15 minutes of writing, I feel the urge to check email or do something else on the Internet. It gets me out of “flow” and takes me longer to get back on track.

Music helps me write for longer periods of time. Classical or new age; nothing with lyrics.

(7) Reward myself

Yes, the work product, and the income it will generate, is its own reward. Nevertheless, I’ve got a couple of new books I’m itching to crack open, digitally speaking. I’m looking forward to finishing my work for the day so I can get my reward.

So, no more time to chat. I’ve got words to write before I rest, and miles to go before I sleep.

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What to do when you have nothing new to offer

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What’s new?

Unfortunately, for most attorneys, the answer is “nothing”. They offer the same services today that they offered last year, and the year before that.

The clients change, the cases have different elements, but for most attorneys, same old same old. Even if they offer a menu of services, the menu rarely, if ever, changes.

Worse, many of their clients need them only once in their lifetime.

If attorneys owned any other type of business, they would regularly offer new products or services. Their business would always be growing.

But if a client doesn’t need another divorce, or doesn’t get in another accident, it’s game over.

It would be great to be able to offer the client another service, wouldn’t it? But if you specialize (as you should), you probably don’t have anything else.

Some attorneys offer updated documents, reviews, and modifications, and that’s good. But what about everyone else?

Well, there are a couple of things every attorney can do.

First, you can partner with other attorneys and promote their services to your clients. In return, your partner promotes your services to their clients. You can also do joint ventures with other types of professionals, and businesses, too.

Your clients have problems and needs that go beyond what you can do for them. They need help finding high quality professionals and vendors. They would love to get a good deal, or at least know they aren’t getting a bad one.

You can help them, and in so doing, help yourself.

Think “clients” not “cases” or “engagements”. Continually look for ways to help your clients with their other business or personal needs.

See The Attorney Marketing Formula for different ways you can work with joint venture partners.

Second, no matter what kind of practice you have, you should continually be creating new content.

Every article, blog post, report, seminar, video, or ebook you produce and put out into the market place can bring you new clients.

They can bring traffic to your website via search and social sharing. You can ask your clients and contacts, (and joint venture partners), to share our content with their clients and lists. You can offer them for sale on Kindle and other venues, where millions of prospective clients can find them.

Each piece of content you create educates prospects about what you do and how you can help them. It pre-sells them on the need for an attorney, and why that attorney should be you. And it prompts them to contact you to ask questions, make an appointment, or sign up for your list.

New services, albeit someone else’s, and new content. These are your new products and services. This is what you should continually create and offer.

Then, when someone asks, “What’s new?” you’ll be able to show them.

To learn more about joint ventures, get this

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What’s wrong with your website?

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My wife is nesting. Getting the house ready for Christmas company. Cleaning, polishing, making sure everything is ship shape. You know the drill.

I am amazed at the little things she finds that need repair. A chip in the paint that needs touching up, for example. I walk by it every day but never noticed. Why? Because I walk by it every day.

I’m used to it. So it doesn’t stand out. If you came to the house, having never been here, that chip would probably be the first thing you’d notice.

My wife is also proofreading my latest book. I’ve been through it more times than I can count. To my eye, it’s done. She spots typos on almost every page.

We all need fresh eyes to look at our work. We’re too close to it. We can’t see what’s obvious to others.

Take your website for example. Do you know what’s wrong with it? Can you spot the things that are missing or need improvement?

Even if you know what you’re doing, there’s a good chance you’re missing things, simply because you’re too close to it.

You need someone else to look at your website. You need fresh eyes.

Have a client go through your site with you. Have them narrate what they see and what they’re doing. Note the pages they go to first, and where they go after that.

Have them find and fill out the contact form. Have them find your bio, your list of services, and the directions to your office. Have them follow you on Twitter or Like your Facebook page. Have them share one of your posts.

You’ll see how others see and use your site. I promise you, it will be an eye opener.

You should also have an expert look at your site. They’ll find more things that need fixing. They can show you how to get more traffic, more subscribers and more social media followers. They can show you how to get more visitors to see you as the lawyer they should choose, and get them to call or email to hire you or take the next step.

You can hire me to do that. I’ll go through the site with you and tell you what to do. Or, you can have me do this for free.

Remember, when you order The Quantum Leap Marketing System, you get a free coaching session with me as a bonus. You can use that session to have me go through your site with you.

What’s wrong with your website? Have me take a look and help you fix it.

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