Will you REALLY fight for me?

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A personal injury lawyer used to (still does?) run TV ads which ended with him pointing at the viewer and saying, “I’ll fight for you!”

But will he?

It depends.

Is it a good case? Are there enough damages? Does the other party have insurance?

If he were being honest, when asked if he would fight for the client, he would say, “We’ll see”.

“We’ll see” is a lawyer-like answer. But it won’t get the client to call.

Clients want more commitment. They do want you to fight for them. They don’t necessarily expect that you will win every time, or bring in a massive settlement, but they expect you to try.

“We’ll see” doesn’t cut it, so although you might be thinking it, don’t say that to a client.

Most lawyers recognize that their clients expect (and their oath demands) that they provide “best efforts” and they will tell the client something along the lines of, “I’ll do my best”.

That’s much better, but what if their best isn’t good enough? What if they don’t have enough experience? What if the case needs resources they don’t have? What if. . .

Your clients don’t want to hear that you’ll do your best, they want to hear that you’ll do “whatever it takes”. And that’s the message you should convey in your marketing.

This is also true for non-litigation matters. Clients want to know that you’ll do whatever it takes to help them achieve a good outcome. If you’re negotiating a contact, or drafting documents for them, they want to hear that you’ll do whatever it takes to protect them, deliver value, and make them happy.

“I’ll do my best” isn’t good enough. Tell them you’ll do “whatever it takes”.

If you want to earn more, make sure you have The Attorney Marketing 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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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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One step forward, two-steps back?

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A tax resolution firm is running a radio ad featuring one of their satisfied clients. He says he hadn’t filed a return since 1990 and the IRS had finally caught up with him and demanded $68,000 in back taxes.

I don’t know how he could ONLY owe $68,000 after 25 years, but that’s his story. He couldn’t pay it and didn’t know what to do.

Enter the tax firm.

They did what they do, and helped him eliminate most of his indebtedness.

Here’s the problem.

As he tells his story, he laughs gleefully at his good fortune. Twice. Like he got away with something. His story, and especially his attitude, suggest to listeners that we’re all suckers for paying our taxes.

I can imagine prospective customers listening to this spot and intentionally calling another firm because it looks like this firm isn’t helping good people who fell on hard times, it’s helping irresponsible people get away with irresponsible behavior.

That’s the sub-text.

They could have conveyed the message that they know what they’re doing and can help you with IRS problems, without the negative sub-text, had they portrayed the client as “relieved” and “thankful” instead of flippant and irresponsible.

They shouldn’t have mentioned 25 years of unfiled returns, just that he’d fallen behind and couldn’t pay $68,000 the IRS said he owed. And they shouldn’t have had him laugh. Twice.

Obviously, the ad is working because the firm keeps running it. But how much better might it work if they made the client more sympathetic?

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Do you make this mistake in marketing legal services?

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I heard two radio commercials yesterday and IMH (but accurate) O, both made the same mistake. Listen up. This is important even if you don’t advertise.

One spot was mass tort. I don’t recall the other. Both ads used the same call to action. They told (interested) listeners to call a telephone number, presumably, to make an appointment.

What’s wrong with that? Isn’t that why the lawyers are advertising? Isn’t that how the listener with a legal issue is going to get the help they need?

Sure. But here’s the thing. For every person who calls, there are perhaps ten people who “almost” call but don’t.

The ad caught there attention, they have the legal issue, or think they do, they need help, but for a multitude of reasons, they don’t call.

Maybe they think their problem is different. Maybe they’re scared and not ready to talk to someone. Maybe they don’t trust you. Maybe they think they’ll have to pay. Or they know the consultation is free but think they will have to pay after that (and can’t afford it). Maybe they think the person they talk to won’t answer any questions unless they come to their office. Maybe they’re busy and can’t take time off work. Maybe they didn’t write down the phone number. Maybe their dog threw up and the next day they forgot to call.

Lost of reasons. But the ads give the listener only two options: call or don’t call.

And most don’t call.

What if there was another option? What if they could learn more about their issue and the possible solutions, find out about the law and procedure, and learn about the lawyer’s background and how they have helped lots of other people with this problem?

What if they could get many of their basic questions answered without having to talk to anyone? What if they could sell themselves on taking the next step?

What if the ads told the listener to go their website, where they could get all of this, and more?

Do you think some of the listeners would do that? And if the website does a decent job of educating them and making them feel comfortable with these lawyers and their ability to help them, do you think more people would call or use the email contact form?

If more people did that, do you think these lawyers would get more clients?

Look, some of the listeners to these commercials are going to go online anyway, to see what they can find out about the problem and possible solutions. Your ad reminded them to do that.

What will they find? Which of your competitor’s website will they land on? Which of them will they hire instead of you?

In marketing your legal services, yes, you should give out your phone number and tell prospective clients to call. But you should also give them your website, so that if they’re not ready to call, they can get to know, like, and trust you, so that when they are ready to do something, the lawyer they call is you.

Marketing legal services with your website. Go here

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Want to sell more legal services? Stop trying so hard.

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According to a study by Twitter, tweets that don’t include a #hashtag or @ mention generate 23% more clicks than tweets that do.

Read that again. It’s important. Even if you don’t use Twitter for marketing.

“After missing Wall Street revenue estimates, Twitter released a study advising people on how to use one of its new ad units — direct response ads. While this study is geared towards advertisers, it may also prove to be good practical advice when posting any kind of tweet that’s designed to drive a specific result, such as clicking on a link to your website or sales page.”

The theory is that other clickable parts of a tweet are distracting users from clicking on the link you want them to click. Twitter’s Anne Mercogliano says this doesn’t mean you should avoid using hashtags completely, however:

“If you’re trying to join a conversation, you should absolutely use a hashtag… But for driving for a specific click that you’re looking for off Twitter, the less noise that you put in between [the better].”

Why is this an important lesson even if you don’t use Twitter? Two reasons.

First, I agree that giving people too many choices can lower overall click-through rate–in your tweets, ads, emails, on your web pages, or any other form of marketing. If you give prospective clients in your office too many options for hiring you, for example, you may increase the odds of them choosing not to hire you at all.

(Or they might make a poor choice due to “decision fatigue”.)

The other reason for lower click-throughs is that prospects respond better to advertising that doesn’t look like advertising. If your tweet looks like an ad, a commercial effort rather than a friendly sharing of information, people are more likely to ignore it or see it as less trustworthy.

In other words, you’ll get fewer click-throughs if it looks like you’re trying too hard to get people to do something.

I’m not suggesting you avoid a call to action in your content. Not at all. You need to tell people what to do. But be aware that if you try too hard, especially on social media which has been traditionally been ad-free, you may get fewer people doing what you want them to do.

Sell more legal services online. Go here

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Another way to stand out and get noticed

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Yesterday I talked about making your ad look like an article or feature story and thus get noticed and read.

Because people tend to ignore ads.

If your ad looks like an article, more people will read it. More readers eventually means more clients.

Are there any other ways to make your ad get noticed?

I’m glad you asked.

Another way is to get noticed is to make your ad. . . what’s the word?. . . oh yeah, UGLY.

Lost of copy, tiny print, random layout, “noisy” messages—-anything but pretty, anything but normal.

Why? Because in a sea of normality and prettiness, ugly stands out. People will notice your ad because it looks different.

When all the other ads look like they were designed by a slick graphic artist, your ugly ad gets noticed.

You still want the ad to be easy to scan and read. White space, short sentences and paragraphs, bullet points and sub-heads. But it should look different.

The same goes for your website and emails.

Show people that you’re not “advertising” you are telling them something they need to know. Put the magic into the words, not the photos and design.

When other lawyers use html emails, make yours plain text. When other lawyer’s websites use the same templates and layouts used by every other lawyer, along with stock photos of The Scales of Justice, law books, and courthouse steps, make yours look anything but the same.

Be different.

Of course you don’t want to be so different that you scare people off. Clients have definite expectations about what a lawyer does and what they look like and you need to give them what they expect.

When you use a photo of yourself you should be wearing business attire. If you use a photo of your office, it needs to look like a law office.

Be different, but not weird.

Do you know what to put on your website? Find out here

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Advertising legal services Gary Halbert style

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Suppose a reporter for a decent sized publication contacts you for an interview. They heard about something you did and they want to do a story.

Nice.

They write the story and run it. They mention some of your accomplishments, quote you several times, and generally make you look like a stud.

Very cool.

Your phone starts ringing. A lot of people saw the article and want to talk to you about their case or legal situation. You sign up some new clients.

Awesome sauce.

The article includes a link to your website and your website heats up with traffic. You see a big bump in email subscribers and social media followers.

Who knew?

As a result of that interview, your practice starts to take off. You have your best month ever.

What do you do next?

You want the momentum to continue, so you take that article and run it as a paid ad in other publications in your niche market. You’ll probably have to add the words “paid advertisement” somewhere on the page but that’s no big deal.

Every time you run the ad you get more business. So you keep running it, bringing in more clients, making more money.

One reason the ad works so well is that it doesn’t look like an ad. It looks like a feature article or news. More people read articles than read ads and more readers translates to more business.

There’s just one problem. The odds of a reporter contacting you to interview you are pretty slim. If they did, the odds that they would do a puff piece that makes you look like the best lawyer in town are almost non-existent.

So don’t hold your breath.

Instead of waiting for the reporter who will never call. . .

. . .write the article yourself. Or hire someone to write it. Make sure it looks and reads like a newspaper article, and then run it as an ad.

Legendary copy writer, Gary Halbert, was a master of editorial style advertising. He sold me on the idea of running ads that don’t look like ads. When I was advertised my first marketing course in bar journals, all of my ads looked like articles.

Newspaper style headline. No graphics or photos. Quotes from me, talking about the benefits, as though I had been interviewed by the author of the “article”.

And they worked. Those ads brought in millions of dollars in sales.

Editorial style ads (“advertorials”) will also work for advertising legal services.

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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 0 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 0 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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If my dentist managed your law practice

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My dentist send me an email that said:

NORDSTROM GIFTCARD GIVEAWAY

INVITE A FRIEND AND WIN A NORDSTROM GIFTCARD!

Introduce friends, family and co-workers to our office, and when they come in for their appointment between now and February 19th, you will be entered into a drawing to win a 0 NORDSTROM Giftcard!

The rest of the message said when the drawing would take place and that the “New patient must complete routine exam, cleaning and x-rays to qualify for drawing entry. One entry per person seen in the office.”

Not bad. Get more referrals, total cost: $100.

Two things come to mind:

(1) You could use something like this in your law practice, and

(2) If you do, you can get more bang for your buck than my dentist

First, let’s put aside the notion that you can’t do something like this in a litigation practice. You can. Not necessarily to get clients immediately, although you might, but to build your email list, which will eventually lead to new clients.

Now, how could you get bigger results than my dentist?

For starters, how about something obvious like having the drawing for the referring parties instead of (or in addition to) the new clients?

Hello. . . ?

Yes, it’s nice that you’re going to enter my friend in a drawing if I refer him, but how about something for me? Give me a reason to think about this for more than the three seconds it takes me to delete your email. . . let me imagine that I might win this thing. . . let me get excited and start thinking about who I could refer. . .

Okay, what else?

How about not requiring the referral to actually hire you?

It should be enough if they only have a free consultation, or even if they just schedule one. Or only opt into your list.

The name of the game is getting people to know about you and how you can help them. It’s about building your list.

Get more people on your list and you’ll get more clients.

The prize doesn’t need to be won by someone who referred a client (or became a client). So what if the “winner” is someone who refers ten people, none of whom become an immediate client? As long as your list is growing, your practice will be growing.

What else?

Well, you might offer a bigger prize.

Assuming your margins are higher than a dentists (arguable, I know), you can afford to offer the winner more than $100. You may not have to, it’s true, because winning anything is exciting. But a $250 prize sounds much more exciting, especially at Nordstrom where $100 would only buy you one shoe. For another $150, you might get a lot more participation.

You could also offer more prizes, e.g., three or five winners. Or you could offer a big first prize and lesser value second, third, and fourth place prizes.

NB: if you’re thinking of awarding prizes based on the number of referrals, i.e., the winner being the one who refers the most clients, do your homework re possible legal and ethical issues.

One more thing.

How about promoting your drawing to people who aren’t your clients? Contact other professionals you know (and ones you don’t know) and offer the same deal. Why not offer this to anyone in town (through your blog, social media, ads or mailings, or word of mouth)?

Would it be okay if you got referrals from strangers, people who have themselves never hired you, people who only send referrals so they can get a shot at winning a prize?

Yeah, that’s what I thought.

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