Too long; didn’t read


Lawyers tend to write articles and documents and memos and cover letters and emails… that are too long. They seek completeness and accuracy and to persuade someone of something, but often wind up doing anything but. Their writing is often long-winded, repetitive, boring, and ultimately persuades no one. 

Search engines favor longer articles. But to be effective, they have to be well written. If they are, in terms of sales, long copy usually pulls better than short copy.

What can you do? Learn how to write long copy effectively or hire someone to do it for you. One takes time and practice, the other takes money and the good sense to invest it. 

But that’s not the end of the story.

Yes, write long when you’re selling something (your services) or want to make love to Miss Google. But it’s okay to write short copy in your blog or newsletter, on social, in email, and for other purposes. In fact, it is often the best thing you can do.  

Writing shorter pieces allows you to write more often. Your audience hears from you more frequently and is more likely to read what you wrote. That gives you more opportunities to “speak” to them and remind them about what you do and how you can help them. 

You’re able to be in their minds and mailboxes more often, leading to more new clients and legal work for you.

This is a short message. If you got this far, it means you read it. We connected. That’s good.

Something else. Not only does writing longer articles mean you connect with your audience less frequently, your readers often save those longer articles to “read later” and we all know that later often never comes.  

Yes, they do see that you emailed them again or published another post and that has value even if they don’t read your message. But it’s better if they do. 

Ultimately, the best thing to do is to write both long and short articles, posts, and emails, and let each do their job. 

How to start and write an effective email newsletter


How do you know what prospective clients really want? 


Sure, you can ask them. During a meeting or consultation or over coffee. You can also look at their website or blog, read their book, listen to their presentation or interviews, or send them a survey or questionnaire. 

The problem is, people often don’t tell us what they really think or want. 

  • Some don’t know what’s possible or have trouble articulating what they need
  • Some tell you what they think makes them look intelligent, more successful, or a better person
  • Some tell you what they think you want to hear 
  • And some play everything close to the vest and don’t tell you much of anything 

If you really want to know what people want, we’re told to watch what they do. What do they purchase, who do they hire, what do they invest in? But even this can be misleading or give you an incomplete picture. 

One of the best places to find out what prospective clients really want is to watch what they do on social media.

See what they talk about, comment about, or ask. See what they’re excited about or complain about. Yes, there is a lot of pretending on social, but people often get emotional about things they want or don’t want, let down their guard and reveal what’s really on their mind.

But perhaps the best way to find out what prospective clients really want, and one of the simplest, is to talk to the person who referred them to you. There’s a good chance they know.

Which is yet another reason why you should prioritize referrals as a source of new business. 

How to get more referrals from your clients


Tell ‘em about the client who said no


Or waited too long to say yes and got burned. Or hired a lawyer with less experience and lost the case. Or didn’t follow your advice and had to spend thousands more to have you fix it.

Your words of warning or advice might go in one ear and out the other. So don’t just tell them, show them. Paint a picture in their mind, visually depicting what happened to other clients. 

For example, if you have a client or prospect who says, “I need to think it over,” you might respond with something like this: 

“I had a client say the same thing to me, but unfortunately, he didn’t ‘think it over’. Now, every time he opens his mailbox, a pile of collection letters falls out. Two weeks ago, Sherrif’s deputies knocked on his door and served him another lawsuit, and last week, his car was repossessed. Now, he has to ask his brother-in-law to drive him to work.”

Word pictures show people what’s at stake and give them a mental image that won’t let them forget it. 


Shrek would have made a good lawyer


On the outside, Shrek was tough and scary. A monster who could slay dragons and vanquish villains. On the inside, he was gentle and kind. 

Your clients want you to be Shrek on the outside, fighting their enemies, protecting them, and being tough. On the inside, where they deal with you, they want you to be warm and caring and easy to talk to. 

How do you attract clients by showing them your strength without scaring them off with bluster?

By being open and friendly and warm in your writing and speaking, in your blog and newsletter, on social media, in the “About” page on your website, and in all of your marketing. 

That means not writing like a lawyer. It means being informal and open, speaking directly to your readers and listeners, and not putting distance between you by writing the 3rd person. 

It means being “normal” and friendly on social media. Some lawyers sound anything but. They come off as “too cool” to talk to people, sounding distant, or worse, sarcastic or confrontational. 

 It’s not complicated. If you want people to approach you, you need to appear approachable. 

That means making people feel comfortable about talking with you and working with you. 

You can do that. You can be warm and friendly and still be professional. 

You can show people you’re tough and also easy to talk to. 

Shrek did it and so can you. 


Let me make this perfectly clear


One reason people say “no” to your offers and recommendations is that they don’t understand what you’re offering or recommending. 

It’s not clear. There are too many options or variables. They don’t know exactly what to do or why. 

They’re confused. And a confused mind always says no. 

One of the most valuable of your marketing tools is clarity. Clients like it when things are clear and simple. In fact, they might choose you over other lawyer or firms primarily for that reason. 

So, go through all of your marketing materials, website, forms, emails, presentations, and documents, and make sure everything is as clear as possible. 

Make sure a layperson can understand everything. Make sure there are fewer options,. Spell out the benefit of each.

If things aren’t as clear as possible, set up a project to improve it.

Answer all of their basic questions before they ask. Explain how you can help them. Tell them how long it will take, how much it will cost, and if there are any alternatives. Tell them the risks and rewards. Explain the process. And especially, the first step.

Look. At. Everything. 

When they get done reading your message or listening to your proposal, they should know everything they need to know and have zero questions. 

That’s the goal, anyway. 

Of course, they will still have questions (even ones you’ve already answered), doubts, things they need you to explain. That’s okay. It’s part of the deal. 

As you answer their questions, assuage their fears and doubts, and explain more about how you can help them, you’ll be able to add this to your marketing materials and make everything clearer for the next prospective client who comes along.

The Attorney Marketing Formula


Make it personal (even if it’s not)


Thousands of people are reading these words right now, but as far as I’m concerned, it’s just you. When I say something or ask a question, I’m not asking or speaking to everyone. 

Just you. 

If you want to get more people listening and reading, more people responding, sharing, and liking what you write (and ultimately hiring or referring you), you should do the same.

When you write, write to one person. Not “everyone”.

Even if you’re writing a blog post or newsletter article, or speaking from the stage—even on social media. Write or talk to one person. Don’t call for a show of hands, don’t address everyone in the aggregate, don’t say, “I’m wondering what y’all think about this?” And whatever you do, don’t say “Hey gang!” (my personal pet peeve). 

As far as your listener is concerned, there’s nobody else there. Don’t bust that bubble, however fictive it might be.

They’re sitting in their office chair or propped up in bed, reading your words or listening to your voice, and for a moment, hearing a personal message from a friend. When you speak in the collective, it puts distance between you and the reader. Communication is most effective when it is personal. 

So, make it personal. 

That also means writing from your perspective, not “for the firm”. Tell the reader what you think about the subject, what you did yesterday, what you plan to do later today. Tell them to call you, not “the office”. 

“Talk” to them as though you were sitting together, having a chat. Because, virtually speaking, you are. 

How to write an effective blog


Why you need a story diary


You are a storyteller. You tell them to friends, colleagues, clients, and juries. You put them in blog posts, articles, and presentations. You use them to make a point or share a light moment. 

Stories are how humans connect with each other. They help us win friends and influence people. 

And you need a steady supply of them. 

Where do you get them? By keeping your eyes and ears open and noting what other people talk about, write about, and do. You get them by observing your world. 

The best stories are usually about things you did or that happen to you because you have an emotional connection with those stories (and the people in them).

You solved a problem, did something new and interesting, or met someone who made an impression. When you share these stories, you help people understand, appreciate, and remember your message. 

And you.

When you talk about a troublesome case, for example, you help the reader or listener step into your shoes, see what you saw, and feel what you felt. It’s an effective way of illustrating something important or something you care about and think your audience will, too. 

Now, since stories are so valuable, you should create (or expand) the habit of collecting them. 

Set up a “story” file and add notes and articles and quotes you might use someday. In addition, take two-minutes at the end of each day and make a note of what you did (or saw or heard) that day. 

Who did you speak with? What problems did you solve or work on? What did you see or hear?

Did you sign up a new client? Settle a case? Improve a skill or start learning a new one?

Record your day in a diary or journal. You don’t need to write out the entire story. Just jot down enough details to help you remember it when you want to use it.

Your journal will make you a more effective writer, speaker, and communicator. It will help you win more friends and influence more people.


Talk to me, baby


A few thoughts about talking to people you want to like you, hire you, and follow your advice. 

First, assume they’re nervous; say something “neutral” to break the ice. Ask about the traffic or parking, or how they found you. If you know something about their problem, and it’s bad, acknowledge that up front. 

If you’re in person, make eye contact. And smile. So simple, and so effective at showing them you’re listening, you care about what they say, and you’re a nice person. It makes them much more likely to like you and listen to you. 

You want them to do most of the talking, so ask open-ended questions to get them to do that. Ask appropriate follow-up questions to clarify what they say (and show them you care about getting it right). Then, repeat their important points back to them, to give them a chance to hear what they told you, e.g., “So, what you’re saying is…”, and thus, prompt them to confirm it, change it, or add to it. 

And again, to show them you’re listening. 

If you feel the need to correct something they said, be gentle. 

Share information, but don’t show off how much you know. And, whatever you do, don’t talk all about yourself. Talk about them, their legal matter, and the options available to them. 

Take notes. Let them see you writing what they say, or hear you typing or scratching if on the phone. It tells them that what they say is important, you care about accuracy, and you want to do a good job for them. 

Finally, ask them to tell you if there’s anything else they want you to know (but might not have mentioned). 

They might tell you something important, but if they don’t, they’ll appreciate your thoroughness and that you let them get in the last word. 


Better than other lawyers? Could you be more specific?


You want prospective clients and the people who can refer them to see you as the better choice. But saying you’re better, or your services are better, or your “service” is better, isn’t convincing. You need to tell them why. 

How are you better? What do you do other lawyers don’t do and why is that a benefit to your clients? 

You need some “better” adjectives. 

Here are a few to consider and the meaning behind them:

  • Faster (You get the work done more quickly; your clients can enjoy the benefits and peace of mind sooner)
  • Efficient (Modern methods, tech, allow you to deliver high-quality work product at lower expense)
  • Reliable (You don’t cut corners and put your clients at risk; highest standards, ethics, proven methods) 
  • Transparent (You explain everything and show your clients everything you’re doing, when and why, and invite them to ask you anything) 
  • Reasonable (Fairness: fees, costs, procedures)
  • Comprehensive (Your documents and processes are thorough and cover everything your clients need and want)
  • Simpler (Your documents, processes, fees, billing, are easier for your clients to understand; fewer questions, confusion)
  • Newer (New services, methods, content, partners, employees, offices, computers, and how your clients benefit. Careful, though; “new” implies risk, so make sure you address this.)
  • Guaranteed (No fee unless recovery, no fee unless satisfied; yep, money-back guarantee. If that makes you nervous, put a limit on it, e.g., first 30 days or “up to X dollars”) 

They all mean “better” but tell clients why you are better. Make sure you prove everything, however, by providing examples, specific numbers, and by answering FAQs and objections in advance. 

Stress-free legal billing and collection policies


Hope and opportunity


That’s really what you sell. Your legal services are merely a means to an end. 

Clients want their problems to be fixed. They want to recover their losses and be protected against future harm. They want their pain to stop and the pleasure they seek to start. 

And they want to know they have you by their side, fighting for them, defending them, advising them, and helping them achieve their goals.

Hope and opportunity. That’s why they hire you. And your presentations, articles, and conversations should feature these. 

Clients aren’t especially interested in how you do what you do. They want to know that you can and will help them feel better and sleep better and be more prosperous. Clients choose you because of how you make them feel. They stay with you and tell others about you because of how you continue to make them feel.

In your marketing, talk mostly about the big picture, the benefits, and not so much about how you do what you do. 

Other lawyers may point to their impressive track record, but clients will choose you because you did something those other lawyers didn’t do. 

You made them feel good about themselves and their future.