I’ve got a list, her name is Sal. 15 miles on the Erie Canal


A personal injury attorney friend sent me an email. He said, “I have a list of about 500 auto repair facilities. I want to approach them via letter, include a copy of my book [for auto accident clients], and ask for referrals.”

He wanted my opinion, particularly about what he could say that might motivate them to send him business. He said he can’t promise to send them referrals.

“I don’t think you’ll get too far sending a letter,” I said, “unless you enclose a blank check.”

These are body shop owners. You might as well be negotiating with the mob.

Many (most?) body shops have lawyers they “work with” (meaning they pay them for referrals). If not the owner themselves, the manager or someone who deals with customers is getting kickbacks from lawyers for their referrals.

They don’t care how good you are as an attorney. They care about “how much?”

At least that’s what you have to assume.

Not all of them. But enough to make the proposed project more than a bit challenging for someone who isn’t willing to offer illegal kickbacks.

Okay, let’s assume that 40% don’t take kickbacks. I know that’s probably crazy but hey, I’m feeling magnanimous today. Out of a list of 500, that means you might have a shot with 200.

But, some already have lawyers (in your area) they send business to. No cash changes hands, but they do get some referrals from those lawyers, not necessarily on a quid pro quo basis, but because they do good work or provide those lawyers’ clients with additional service and value.

So now, still guessing here, let’s say that leaves 20 body shops who might be open to sending you referrals. How do you find out which ones? You have to talk to them and feel them out. And you probably have to do this yourself since they need to feel you out, too. And the best way to do this is to do it in person.

So. . . how about if we look at another idea?

What if, instead of asking for referrals you contact the shop owners and ask them if they accept advertising. Your letter (or a phone call) will weed out a lot of them and that’s exactly what you want. Some will be open to advertising, probably those who don’t accept kickbacks and aren’t already committed to other lawyers, and you can talk to them and negotiate a deal.

You put up a sign in their waiting room, buy space on their invoices or on their paper floor mats, a banner on their website, and so on. You pay them $X dollars per month and see what happens.

You can also provide them with a display rack for your books which they can put on their counter and sell your books to their customers at a discounted price. They keep 80-100% of the sales price as their advertising fee. You’ll probably have to offer them an additional fee on top of that for putting your rack in a prominent place, like food companies do with grocery stores.

Another option: you provide free copies of your book which they can give to their customers as a way to provide extra value to them and distinguish themselves from other lawyers who don’t. You might have to pay them a monthly fee in addition, but everything is negotiable, right?

How to get referrals without paying for referrals 


You are advertising, whether you know it or not


I was looking at an email from an attorney. At the bottom, after his signature, it said, “Attorney at Law”. He provided contact information but said nothing about his services.

He’s advertising, but doing it badly.

Why badly? Because an attorney is what he is, not what he does.

Telling people you’re an attorney tells them almost nothing. Do you handle car accidents and help people get compensation for their injuries? Do you help people get amicably divorced? Do you represent big businesses on environmental matters, or small start-ups take their first steps?

His email, and everything else he puts out into the world, should tell people what he does.

How about you? When someone asks, “What do you do?” what do you say? Do you tell them what you are or what you do? Do you tell them the services you offer? Do you at least tell them what kind of law you practice?

Because you’re advertising, whether you know it or not.

On your business cards, your stationery, your website, and the sign outside your office, don’t just say you are an attorney or that you offer legal services, tell people what you do.

What services do you offer? What benefits do they get when they hire you? What kinds of clients do you represent?

Don’t make people ask you what you do or how you can help them. Don’t make them visit your website to find out.

Tell them, right up front, “This is what I do and this is how I can help you”. You’ll get more people clicking, calling, visiting, and saying, “Tell me more”.

Want a website that gets clients? Here’s how


Another example of email done wrong


I got an email yesterday that said “Hey David, I just came across your LinkedIn profile and decided to reach out.”

Alrighty, but he didn’t send the email to the email address I have with LinkedIn. Lying in the first sentence? I don’t know, but we’re not off to a good start.

Oh, and addressing me by first name instead of waiting for permission? Manners, please.

He introduced himself: “I’m with [company]–we connect entrepreneurs like you with the marketing talent that can grow your business.”

A sales pitch already? That didn’t take long. And, did he even read my profile or go to my website? If he had, he might have noticed that I’m in the marketing game myself.


“I hope you don’t mind the cold outreach, but I thought you’d be interested and decided to go for it. Here is the link” and he provided a link to his website.

Interested in what? He didn’t say. He didn’t give me a reason to click the link.

I wouldn’t necessarily mind a cold email, but not done this way. How about earning my trust, first? How about giving me a reason to pay attention? How about a little finesse?

He closed the email and “signed” it with his first name as the CTO of his company. Again, he thinks we’re on a first name basis. And, you want me to trust you but you haven’t told me your full name.

Sup wit dat?

More bad vibes: There’s an unsubscribe link at the bottom of the email, which means he went ahead and subscribed me to his list without my permission. A one-time cold email is something I can live with. A subscription without permission and you’re going straight to Internet jail (spam).

Look, it’s okay to send email to people you don’t know. But don’t lie to them or pitch them right out of the box. Say something that lets them know you are a real person who wants to introduce themselves and that you are someone who might be worth knowing.

The recipient knows you’ve got an agenda of some sort. Everyone does. Put it in your back pocket for now and take the time to turn a cold name and email into a warm prospect.

As a lawyer, you might think that you would never send a cold email to someone you don’t know, particularly someone you would like to have as a client. I wouldn’t contact consumers unless I had been invited to do so, but you can contact professionals you’d like to know. You could also contact potential business clients, if you do it right.

Start by showing them you know something about them and what they do and that you’re not sending spam to the masses. Compliment them on something you like, tell them how you are similar in your interests or your work, or ask them a question.

Your motto: “friends first”.

Then, offer something they might find valuable and relevant. A blog post, video, report, or something else that’s free and easy to access. Don’t make them go to your website to see if you have anything interesting, tell me what it is, how it would benefit them, and where to get it.

But maybe you should save that for your next email.

For more on email marketing, get Make the Phone Ring


A simple way to increase your income you’re probably not doing


Your ad is bringing in clients. Your website is making your phone ring. Your seminar results in client appointments every time you run it.

Your marketing is working, and that’s good, but what if it could work better?

What if a different web page would bring you 20% more traffic? What if a different ad would bring in 50% more clients? What if a different offer at the end of your seminar resulted in 18% more appointments?

They might.

A different ad, a different headline, a different offer, and other variables, can result in dramatic differences in results. A few simple changes might bring in double or triple the number of clients, without any added expense.

It’s called testing and it is the essence of direct response marketing.

Author Tim Ferris invested $200 on pay-per-click ads testing different titles for his book. “The 4-Hour Workweek” got more clicks than any other title by a huge margin.

Keep running the ad that’s working and also run a different one. Don’t change anything on your webpage but send some traffic to a different page and see if you get better results.

You’ve probably heard about the value of testing. If you’re like most people, however, you’re probably not doing it, at least as much as you could. When things are working, it’s natural to want to leave them alone and focus on other things.

But test you must.

Talk to your marketing or web people about running some test ads, pages or offers. When you find something that works better than what you’re doing now, make that your “control”. Then, test additional changes against it, because no matter how well things are working, you never know if something else could work better.

Get more clients and increase your income with your web site, here


Will you REALLY fight for me?


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


Free advertising for your legal services


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:


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.


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.


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.


Advertising on the rocks with a twist


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


One step forward, two-steps back?


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?


Do you make this mistake in marketing legal services?


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


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


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