You should read this

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Some people think we shouldn’t tell people what to do. We should give them the options and let them decide.

Tell them what they “could” do, not what they “should” do.

I understand the sentiment but when someone looks to you for advice, they want you to tell them what to do.

When a client hires you to advise him, you can (and should) present different ways to do it, but then, tell him which option is best. They’re paying for your experience and judgment. They want to know what you recommend.

When you tell them, you’re telling them what they “should” do.

Tell your clients what they should do.

(Yes, I’m telling you what you should do. Not what you might do. You can choose to follow my advice or reject it. But at least you know what I recommend.)

You should also tell your newsletter and blog readers and presentation attendees what to do. With less specificity, of course, because you don’t know the specifics of their situation. But if you have recommendations about what someone should do in a given situation, tell them what to do.

I saw an article this morning about this subject in the context of employers and employees. The article said we should tell our staff what they “could” do, not what they “should” do.

Yes, you want to empower your staff to think for themselves and not come to you with every little issue, but if you want your secretary to call someone or email someone or bring you something, telling them what they could do or might do is just silly.

You’re not going to say, “I’m running late for my 2 O’clock with Mr. Jones. You could call him to re-schedule.”

You’re going to tell your secretary to call.

Be nice about it. Say please and thank you. But tell her.

That’s what you should do.

Questions about what to write in a newsletter? Here are the answers

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At least they had cookies

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Last night, I went to a homeowners meeting for our community, to hear about proposed changes to parking rules.

The head of the committee called the meeting to order, read the current rules, brought us up to date, and asked for feedback. Many shared their opinions and grievances. A few lawyers in the crowd thought the existing rule was ambiguous. (It was).

Nothing much was accomplished, but at least they had cookies.

I’m not going to say “most meetings are a waste of time and all of this could have been done digitally”. That may be true but there are times when it’s good to meet with fellow stakeholders in person.

And this was one of them. It was good to hear what my neighbors thought and put faces with names.

But I do have a few thoughts about how the meeting might have been improved.

First, tell folks the agenda, so they know what to expect and can follow along. You want them to understand the big picture before you dive into the minutia, lest they get lost (and doze off).

And, keep things moving.

Let people make their point, thank them, and move on. If you let people ramble, they will. (They did.)

Second, take notes. And let everyone see you do it.

Our speaker had dealt with the parking rules over the last several years and knew them backwards and forwards. He appropriately expressed interest when people offered new ideas or shared their problems, and said he would look into them.

But he didn’t write anything down.

So, would he look into it? Remember it? Was he being honest?

In any meeting, whether group or one-on-one, let people see you take notes. It shows them you heard what they said and care about it (or them).

Finally, tell people what happens next.

Don’t make them guess. Don’t make them ask. Spell it out.

I left our meeting not quite sure what would happen next, or what to do if I wanted to follow up.

Tell them what you’re going to do and/or what you want them to do.

Oh yeah, one more thing. Don’t forget the cookies.

If you want to grow your practice quickly, here’s what you need

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Grok and grow rich

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If you wanted to attract Martian clients, you’d learn to speak Martian or hire someone who does. The same goes for any group of clients.

But I’m not talking about translating a foreign language. I’m talking about speaking to prospective clients in ways they will not only understand but relate to.

That means using examples, idioms, and market-specific references that resonate with them. It means using the words they use to describe their world and making statements they agree with.

If you target blue-collar workers, you would talk about long hours, coming home tired and sweaty, bosses who take advantage of them, union issues, and so on.

If you target medical professionals, you would talk about escalating costs and regulations, declining revenue, legal issues, risks, stress, and the like.

In other words, the kinds of things they talk about among themselves (and to themselves).

Most people are attracted to people with whom they have something in common and to people who understand them. You may have nothing in common with your target market but you can show them you know what it’s like to walk in their shoes.

Read what your target market reads. Pay attention to what they talk about, especially the things that irk and frustrate them.

If you want more Martian clients, learn to speak Martian.

My email marketing course helps you learn to speak Martian

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My CPA didn’t send me a Christmas card

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My CPA didn’t send me a Christmas card this year. And I’ve been his client for 35 years.

No, nothing’s wrong. He’s never sent me a Christmas card. Or emailed me to wish me happy holidays. Or sent me anything that’s not strictly business.

And that’s fine with me.

He does a good job for me, we speak once a year, and as far as I’m concerned, we’ll continue to do that as long as we’re both breathing.

No doubt you have clients who feel the same way about you. They’ll stick with you through thick and thin.

The only question you have to ask yourself is if all your clients feel that way.

Probably not.

Some are new and don’t know you well enough. Some need hand holding. Some are really into the holidays and are disappointed if they think you forgot them.

And some are having a rough time and would appreciate some holiday cheer.

If you don’t send cards or emails, you’re probably fine with most of your clients. But there will always be some who fall into another category.

And then there’s your list of prospective clients who don’t know, like and trust you enough just yet and hearing from you could make a difference.

You can’t communicate too often with the people in your life, even those who are committed to you.

But don’t send cards because it’s a good marketing tactic. Don’t send them because you want to keep them happy.

Send them because it makes you happy.

Email let’s you stay in touch with everyone. Here’s how to do it right

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The easiest way to grow your practice

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There are many elements that go into an effective marketing campaign. And by campaign, I mean all of things you do to bring in new clients and repeat business and otherwise build your practice.

All of it.

Headlines and email subject lines, offers, building trust, building relationships, stimulating referrals, client relations, SEO, effective website navigation, content marketing, engagement, copywriting, and the list goes on.

Some factors are much more important than others. But there is one factor that is MOST important.

What is it? Frequency of communication.

How often your prospective clients, current clients, former clients, referral sources, and everyone else who can hire you or refer you or promote you hears from you.

If they rarely hear from you, you can’t expect much from them. If they hear from you often, all things being equal, you can expect to see more new business, repeat business, referrals and other goodness.

So, if you do anything different in the new year, let it be to connect with people more often.

The simplest way to do that is by email.

Which just happens to be the subject of my Email Marketing for Attorneys course.

It shows you what to say and how to say it for maximum effect. And it shows you how to do everything you need to do in one hour per week or less.

Go here for all the details.

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So simple, so easy to mess up

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Have you ever been interviewed and had the interviewer try to “share the stage” with you, talking too much instead of asking questions?

I have and it’s not good.

When you are invited to be the guest on a podcast or conference call, the host should edify you to their audience. They should present your background, say nice things about you, and make you look every bit like the expert you are.

They should make you look like you walk on water and glow in the dark so their audience will get excited about hearing you.

If they did that and then talk over you or share too much of their own knowledge and experience, they de-edify you.

Why did they invite you if they know what you know?

The host should introduce you, ask questions and let you do most of the talking. They shouldn’t interrupt you or contradict you or do anything that detracts from your image as an expert.

That doesn’t mean they can’t ask some sharp questions. It means they shouldn’t do anything to make you look bad.

Not in that kind of interview, anyway.

Edification is an important skill and it’s not that difficult. Take yourself out of the picture (mostly) and shine the spotlight on your guest.

Edification can also be used when you make a referral to another professional, introduce a guest at your event to another guest or to the speaker, or when you recommend a product or service or resource.

The only place you shouldn’t use it is when you’re talking about yourself.

Marketing is easier when you know The Formula

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Making sure the client understands

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The only thing worse than explaining something to a client and finding out he didn’t understand you is not finding out.

You talked, they listened, but they lost you somewhere along the way.

If they let you know, you can repeat what you said or explain it further. But if they don’t tell you and find out later they misunderstood, what happens?

Bad Times at Ridgemont High, that’s what happens.

And they blame you. Even if you did a great job of explaining and they didn’t listen.

They might have been thinking about what you said just before this. Or worried about their legal situation. Or thinking about what they have to pick up at the market on the way home.

It doesn’t matter why they didn’t understand, you have to make sure they do, for their sake and for yours.

Especially if it is a complex issue or an important decision.

How do you do that? Besides putting it in writing and asking them to sign off?

You ask them to repeat back to you what you just told them.

Have them restate what you said and tell you that’s what they understood. Ask if they have any questions before you continue.

Hold on. You also need to do this when they say something.

Restate what you heard and ask them to agree that this is what they meant.

Then you can put it in writing.

Happy clients bring repeat business and referrals

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Where does it hurt?

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If you want to communicate more effectively with clients and prospects (or anyone) and motivate them to act, you need to understand what makes them tick.

You need to know what they want and what they want to avoid or stop.

We’re talking about pain (what they want to stop) and it’s ugly cousin fear (what they want to prevent or avoid). Nothing motivates people to act more than these two felons.

When you understand someone’s pain, you can offer them relief. Someone is in trouble, they want to be rescued. Someone is threatened, they want protection.

When you know where they hurt or what they fear, you know what you need to say to get their attention.

You can also persuade them that you can deliver the outcomes they seek by referring to ideas and examples from their industry or market and by telling stories about clients you’ve helped overcome similar problems.

Before you talk to another prospective client, write your next article or email, or create your next presentation, take some time to discover your target market’s pain or fear, and the words they use to describe this.

One easy way to find their pain points is to find groups where your target market hangs out (Facebook, LinkedIn, et. al.) and search for words that indicate pain or problems.

General words like “help” or “trouble” or “discouraged” can point you in the right direction. More specific keywords related to what you do will give you additional fodder.

Note how people describe their problems and their pain, their frustrations, and their failed attempts to fix what ails them.

You don’t need that much. A few details, a story or two, can go a long way.

When you better understand your target market and what you need to say to the people in it, you’ll get more prospective clients to see you as the right attorney for them.

For more places to find your target market’s pain points, check out my video course on using email for marketing your services.

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Words don’t teach

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Educating clients and prospects–about the law, about their risks and options, about what an attorney can do for them, and about why they should choose you as their attorney–is a viable marketing strategy.

The more they know, the more likely they are to understand why they should hire you and the more likely they are to do it.

The problem is, words don’t teach. Telling isn’t teaching. At best, it is only an introduction to the subject.

What does teach? Experience.

That’s one reason lawyers offer free consultations. The prospective client gets to see what you think about their specific situation and how you treat them, and get a sense of what it would be like having you as their attorney.

The experience teaches them what they need to know.

To a lesser extent, this is why lawyers speak in public, do interviews, make videos, network, and otherwise get themselves in front of prospective clients (and the people who can refer them).

What about writing? In your ads, blog, newsletter, articles, and elsewhere–where it’s just your words? How do you use experience to teach?

Use your words to help people remember relevant experiences in their life similar to what they’re currently experiencing. Help them to recall what happened–how they felt, what didn’t work, and what did.

And share stories of people like your reader or listener who have had the same types of problems and desires and how they found the solutions.

Your words are important. But not as important as the listener’s or reader’s experience, real, remembered, or imagined.

How to get more clients to say “you’re hired”

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Do your marketing documents sound like Klingon?

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When someone visits your website, reads your email or article, or hears your presentation, you want to make sure they understand what you said and what you want them to do.

When you send them your bill, you want them to understand what you did and why you did it.

Too often, we assume we’re writing or speaking clearly when we’re not.

Either avoid using legalese or other arcane references or explain what they mean.

But this may not be enough.

Even when you explain what you mean and give examples to illustrate, people may not understand what it means to them.

When you list your practice areas, for example, prospective clients may know what you do but not understand what you will do for them.

When you perform your services, what does the client get or avoid? How is he better off?

Clients don’t pay for your services so much as they pay for the results and benefits you deliver. Your services are merely the mechanism you use to deliver those benefits.

Make sure you translate what you do (features) into “benefits”–what your clients get as a result.

How will they better off? What will they be able to do, avoid or prevent?

One way to translate features into benefits is to use a transitional phrase, “Which means. . .”, between them.

A few examples:

“We’ll file for a restraining order against your ex., which means the court will order him to stay away from you and your son.”

“Once we settle a case, we usually have the funds in our Client’s Trust Account within 3-4 business days, which means you should be able to pay your bills within the week.”

“We’ll prepare you for your testimony. You’ll know what to say and how to say it, which means you won’t have to worry about making a mistake.”

“We’ll send you a monthly report and copies of all of the documents and correspondence, which means you’ll always know what’s going on with your case and won’t have to call us to find out.”

Translate your words from Klingon to plain English. Explain what you mean and what this means for your clients.

When you do this, you’ll get more clients and have fewer misunderstandings.

Which means you’ll earn more and not have to work so hard to do it.

Marketing is easier when you know The Formula

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