What if I’m right?

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I get it. The two reasons you don’t have an email newsletter or blog or, if you do, you don’t write or post very often:

You don’t have enough to write about, and/or, you don’t have the time to do it.

I say you do. I say you have plenty to write about, way more than you realize, and you have more than enough time to do it.

Give me a chance to prove it.

Set up a new notebook or file for this email/blog project, open a page and label it “ideas”. If you have any that come to mind, write them down. If you have other files with blog post or content ideas you’ve collected, add them to your new file.

Go through your hard drive, reading list, saved article files, and do the same.

Next, write down the questions prospective clients and new clients typically ask you–about the law, procedure or process, about their legal rights and options, about what you can do to help them.

You should be able to quickly write down ten or twenty questions.

If you find yourself running short, visit some online forums where people post questions for attorneys to answer, and see what’s being asked.

You can also visit article directories, other attorney’s blogs, and websites that feature legal content and see what visitors are asking in the comments. You can search your keywords on social media and see what people are talking about.

Okay, that’s enough for now. More than enough, actually. You should now have enough ideas to keep you busy for the next several years.

Will you have the time to use those ideas? Let’s find out.

Go through your idea list and pick one. It doesn’t matter what it is, just pick something you have an opinion on or experience with, or something that interests you that you think might interest others.

Now, write down three words or phrases related to that idea.

If you’re a personal injury attorney and you’ve chosen to write a response to the question, “How much is my case worth?” your three words might be, “damages, liability, and insurance,” for example.

Next, take your idea and your key words, set a timer for five minutes and start writing. You can type or use a pen or dictate but don’t stop writing (or talking) until the five minutes is up.

Don’t edit, don’t worry about grammar or punctuation, don’t slow down or stop. Just keep pushing your pen or pounding the keys.

For. Five. Whole. Minutes.

I don’t care how busy you are, you can write for five minutes.

When you’re done, you probably learned that

  • You have a lot to say about certain subjects
  • You can get a lot of words on a page in five minutes
  • You wind up with a mess but it’s not as bad as you thought

At least that’s what I found out the first time I did this exercise.

You now have the first draft of an email or blog post or article. Put it aside and re-write or edit it later. When you’re done, you should have a few hundred words, enough for a blog post or email.

Then, tomorrow, or next week at this time, do it again. Pick another idea, write down three words, write for five minutes, edit later.

Continue doing this until you have at least ten posts or emails.

Now it’s time to decide what to do with them.

You could start a blog. You’ll have ten weeks (or days) worth of material to post.

You could start a newsletter. You’ll have ten emails to load into your autoresponder.

Or you can gather up what you’ve written and turn them into an ebook or report.

The point is, you now know you can do this. You can write something in 30 minutes or less, including editing. (Okay, it might take longer at first but you’ll get faster.)

The only remaining question is, “Should you?” Will it be worth it for you to write something once or twice a week and post or email it? Will it bring in business?

There’s only one way to find out.

For more ideas, and more ways to get ideas, get this

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Attorneys should be paid by the word

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Many attorneys tell me they don’t write a newsletter or a blog because they don’t have anything to say.

I cry foul.

Have you ever spoken to an attorney?

Give them a minute and they’ll talk non-stop about their latest case, complain endlessly about a client who drives them crazy, or tell you all about a jerk attorney who makes their life miserable.

They’ll brag about a big case they just settled or a prestigious client they just signed up. They’ll opine about the law in their field or about an appellate case that is about to be heard.

If they’ve been ill or injured, they’ll share all the gory details. If they bought a new snowmobile or boat, they’ll go on and on about their new toy. If they just came back from Italy, they’ll tell you why you need to go.

Blah blah blah–it’s almost like they’re getting paid by the word.

No, attorneys have lots to say, about a lot of subjects. Fortunately, we can use our verbal alacrity to write a newsletter.

The trick is to have something to say that your clients and prospects want to hear.

Here are some ways to find out what that is:

  • Go through your email inbox and see what they’re asking you
  • Send them an email and ask them to submit questions; invite them to do the same thing on social media
  • Visit sites like Quora where people ask questions and lawyers answer them
  • Visit other lawyers’ blogs and see what they write about
  • Visit other lawyers’ blogs and social media profiles and look at comments and questions posted by readers and followers

You can supplement this by writing about things like what you like about being a lawyer, and what gives you pause. You can educate your readers about the law and procedure in your practice areas. You can share news about their industry or local market.

You can write profiles of your business clients. You can interview other professionals who work in your niche market. You can comment on articles and posts written by others who write about topics similar to your own, agreeing or disagreeing with them, and sharing your experience with the same subject.

You can also share a smattering of personal information about yourself, your hobbies and outside interests, movies you like, restaurants and books and software you recommend. Your readers want to know about you, the person, not just you, the lawyer.

There is no shortage of subjects you can write about that your clients and prospects would like to know.

If you ever feel that you’ve run out of things to say, you can repost what you’ve written before. You can do that because you will always have new people joining your list who haven’t read anything you wrote in the past. And because the people who have read your previous posts won’t remember most of the details. And because your prior opinions, experiences, and observations may have changed.

I don’t buy the “nothing to say” argument and you shouldn’t, either. Pretend you are getting paid by the word and I’ll bet you never run out of things to say.

How to build your practice with a blog and/or newsletter

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How to never run out of ideas to write about

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Think about your target market and answer me a few questions:

  • What is the market’s biggest problem right now? The one that keeps people up at night?
  • What’s the latest news in that market? What are people talking about?
  • Name three websites, podcasts, or newsletters that focus on this market.
  • Who is the top lawyer, CPA, insurance or real estate professional in that market?
  • Name two organizations dedicated to that market that have networking functions in your area.
  • Name three profitable keywords for blog posts, books, or ads for that market.

Okay, that’s enough to make my point, which is that if you can’t answer these questions, you probably don’t know your target market well enough.

Or you don’t have one.

Which is why, when you set out to write an email or article, you “don’t know what to write about”. Which is why you aren’t writing, or if you are, your writing is too general and doesn’t stand out.

If your last blog post or article or email is written to appeal to “anyone,” there’s a good chance it appeals to “no one”.

When you know your target market well, which you must if you want to dominate it, you won’t have that problem. You’ll have plenty of things to write about, specific to that market. In fact, you’ll have so many ideas, your biggest problem will be deciding which one to write about.

Which is a nice problem to have, don’t you think?

Need help choosing a target market? Use this

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What makes content shareable?

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You’re ready to write a blog post, article, or social media post and you want your subscribers and followers to share it. What should you write that will make that more likely to occur?

We know that sex and scandal and other tabloid-esq topics sell, but that’s off the table. Humor and human interest (kittens, babies, sports, games) are highly shareable, and you can write about those things occasionally, but only occasionally.

What then? News? Opinion? World events?

Sometimes. But your best bet is also the simplest. Write about your area of expertise.

Write about legal problems and solutions. Write about the law and procedure, the timeline and processes, the benefits of taking action and the risks of waiting too long. Describe your services and the pros and cons of each.

Answer the questions prospective clients and new clients frequently ask you. And write about the questions they should ask you but often don’t.

Show people what it’s like to work with you by describing what you do and how you do it.

Write about your clients and how you have helped them. Write about people you know who didn’t get help and are now paying the price.

Educate people about what they can do themselves. Teach them when they should talk to a lawyer and what questions they should ask them.

Write about solving problems, preventing problems and mitigating consequences when problems occur.

If you have a consumer-oriented practice, you can also write consumer-related topics such as buying the right insurance, saving money, retirement, taxes, etc. You can also write about issues and developments in your local community.

For a business-oriented practice, write about marketing, management, productivity, and issues and developments in your target market’s industry or niche.

No matter what type of practice you have, you can also write about personal development because everyone reading what you write is, unarguably, a person.

This is the kind of content that people will share with friends and colleagues and co-workers and family, because they know they need it or they know they would benefit from it.

And that’s all any of us could ask.

More ideas for creating shareable content that will make your phone ring

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It’s a blog about nothing

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Remember the Seinfeld episode where George and Jerry pitch a show to a studio head? “What’s it about?” the boss asks. With a smirk and dramatic pause, George says, “Nothing. It’s a show about nothing!”

No they didn’t sell the show. That wouldn’t have been funny. Better we should laugh at our pals and their madness.

But we shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss the value of “nothing”.

In keeping with my assertion that you can write a blog post or email about anything, or nothing, I’m going to give it a shot. I’m going to take a random idea and see if I can fill the page with something interesting and useful.

First thing that pops into my head: shopping. Here goes.

I’m not a shopper. If I go to the mall with my wife, you won’t find me trying on clothes. In the past, you’d find me at a bookstore. Today, I’ll hit a computer store, but only for a few minutes. Mostly, I find a comfy chair, read and watch people.

Basically, I do nothing.

But that’s okay. What I like to do at a mall and what my wife likes to do are different. We’re different people. One person’s gourmet meal is her husband’s poison.

We need to remember this in selling our services.

Not everyone will see the need or the value of what you offer. Some will say yes, some will say no, and some will say, “Ah, get me out of here, there’s an attorney talking!”

We must also remember that the ones who say no do it for different reasons.

One prospect may say no to your estate planning services because she thinks you charge too much. Another might say no because she doesn’t see the need or the urgency.

I spoke to a young woman recently who had a baby eight months ago. I asked if she and her husband had updated their will (knowing they probably didn’t have one at all). She told me they were going to wait until after they had a second child before doing that.

Yep, that’s what she said.

If you are an estate planner, what would you have said in response?

The point is that you need to know the different reasons prospective clients say no to your proposition and be prepared to address them. You can handle an “objection” by presenting the information as part of the pitch or on your website, etc., or you can address it when they vocalize it. (NB: it’s better to handle an objection before it comes up.)

The point is that people are different and so are their reasons for saying no. If you want to sell more of your services, you need to figure out those reasons and do something about them.

So there you go, a post that started out about nothing and turned into something. Sweet! I’m calling my buddy Art Vandelay and letting him know.

What to put on your website

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Have you pissed someone off today?

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Yesterday’s email was about the seemingly uncontroversial topic of dressing like a lawyer. I heard from several lawyers who shared their thoughts.

Some cheered my message and deplored the way some lawyers dress today. An entertainment lawyer friend had mixed feelings about the subject. One lawyer told me he wears a pony tail and does just fine.

Another said, “Perhaps you should set aside your fatuous fashion jihad for a moment and review the fundamentals of grammar, to wit: The plural of “client” is “clients,” not “client’s.”

Fatuous fashion jihad? Hmmm. . . Something tells me he’s upset about something. Call it a hunch.

And does he really think I don’t know how to pluralize “client”? Me thinks not. That’s his anger talking.

Apparently, he strongly disagrees with my opinion that lawyers should “wear the uniform” and “look like a lawyer”. He didn’t say why. He didn’t share his preferred sartorial style, nor offer any reasons why everyone else should accept it.

But I like that he spoke up. I like that he disagrees with my old fashioned take on the subject. In fact, I wish I heard from more people who were pissed off at me.

Look, if you’re not not upsetting some people, if everyone agrees with everything you write, you’re going to put people to sleep. Lawyers tend to be especially boring and bland in their writing.

We need to stir things up.

Conflict keeps people watching TV shows and it keeps people reading your writing. So court some controversy. Push the envelope. Say things that make people go “huh?”

You’ll stand out, be read and remembered, and build a following of people who like your style. They’ll share your content, buy your products and services, and recommend you to their friends.

Of course you will also get people who think you’re an ass-hat, say you’ve gone too far or you’re too vulgar for their taste, and they will un-subscribe.

Good. You don’t want them. They’re not your fans and will probably never hire you or recommend you. They need to go. Give up their seat so you can fill it with others who like what you say, or at least like that you’re not afraid to say it.

For more on email and marketing online, go here

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Marketing online by profiling your clients

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Dollar Shave Club has a unique approach to marketing. On their website, they feature the businesses of their customers and the stories behind them. They recently featured a coffee roaster, for example. According the folks at Small Business Trends:

“Each article comes complete with an interview that gives a glimpse into the personality of that person’s brand. Rather than sum it up, they go to the source, which gives a more truthful glimpse into the companies they are featuring. The people that run and care about the business are those who get to speak about it and that’s not so common anymore.”

Customers can fill out a form on the site describing themselves and their business. “If the submission catches the editor’s eyes, a rep may reach out with some more questions.”

If you represent businesses of any kind, you could do the same thing. Profiling and promoting your clients’ businesses will benefit you in several ways:

First, it makes you look good. Instead of saying nice things about yourself, you’re saying nice things about your clients.

Second, your client gets more exposure and more business, thanks to you. They might reciprocate and tell their customers all about you and your practice. Also, as their business grows, they will probably have more legal work for you. More referrals, too.

Third, no doubt your featured clients will tell everyone they know about their profile on your site. You’ll get more traffic, more subscribers and followers, and more clients.

Fourth, this is an easy way to create interesting content for your blog.

Finally, you might get other websites talking about your innovative approach to marketing. Like mine.

If you have a consumer practice, undoubtedly some of your clients own or run a business. Or they are connected to a charity or cause-oriented group. Find the ones who have an interesting story to tell and help them tell it.

You can also interview your professional contacts and feature their business or practice. You may not be able to send a lot of referrals to an accountant you know; promoting his practice this way might bring him lots of new clients.

Marketing online for attorneys made simple

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Marketing legal services: let other people do it for you

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You don’t want to blog or do a podcast but other people in your niche do. They need people to interview and people to write guest posts.

You, for example.

Find blogs and podcasts and video channels in your niche and introduce yourself to the head guy or gal. Compliment their work. Promote their content to your lists. Comment on their posts. Get on their Hangouts and contribute to the conversation.

Stay on their radar and eventually they will ask if they can interview you. In fact, once they know who you are, let them know that you are available and you’ll probably move to the front of their list.

By helping them, you help yourself. Your interviews and posts will get your name and contact information in front of people who need your services or who know someone who does. You’ll get more traffic to your website, more followers on social media, and more subscribers for your list. New clients will be next.

Remember, they need content and they can only create so much themselves. They need people like you to help them. As you help them, you help yourself.

The more you get your name out there, the more other bloggers and podcasters will seek you out. Marketing will get easier for you. Instead of doing one interview this month you’ll have three interviews this week.

Soon, your target market will see you “everywhere” and they will know that when they need a lawyer who does what you do, you are the one they want. Other professionals will see that you are in demand and choose you for their referrals.

Help others with their marketing and they will help you with yours.

Learn more about marketing legal services online, here

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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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Write for your clients, not your prospects

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A question posed on a marketing blog caught my attention: “How might your attitude to writing your newsletter or blog improve if you saw every reader as a client?”

It’s a great question.

You know your clients, and care about them, and so when you write to them or for them, you communicate at a deeper, more informed level than you do when you’re writing to strangers. You understand your client’s business. You know their family. You know what they like and how they think, what they need and what they want.

You have a relationship with them and when you write to them, you are more relaxed, more open, and more genuine.

Why not be that way with everyone?

When you write a blog post or article, when you speak before a group, when you meet people while networking, think about them as though they already are your clients. You may know nothing about them (yet) but by showing them that you care about them and want to help them, when you generously share your knowledge and advice, when you have a conversation with them instead of talking at them, they will come to know you and trust you.

Some of them will become actual clients. This is a great way to accelerate that process.

Website? Blog? Newsletter? Here’s what to do and how to do it

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