Oh the pain, the pain

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If you ever watched the campy 1960’s TV series Lost in Space, you may recall one of Dr. Smith’s signature expressions.

If not, perhaps you recall the old Verizon TV commercials where the spokesman walked around town, speaking on the phone, repeatedly asking the other party, “Can you hear me now?”

What do these two have in common? Right, the pain.

The Verizon spots dramatized the biggest pain point for customers of other carriers, poor signal quality and dropped calls.

We all literally said, “Can you hear me now?” as we moved to find a better spot.

This demonstration set the stage for Verizon’s promise of better coverage and clearer signals, which landed them a lot of new customers.

In your marketing, you should do what Verizon did: market to the biggest frustration felt by your prospective clients.

Find your prospective client’s pain point, about their legal situation or their current attorney, and build your marketing message around this.

What makes them angry or keeps them up at night? What troubles them most about their legal issue? What is their biggest complaint about their current attorney?

Talk about that, and promise they won’t have that problem when they hire you.

Make the pain, and the relief you promise to deliver, specific to your practice area and market, because not everyone is frustrated by the same things. But if you need an idea, consider the nearly universal pain point for clients, “My lawyer never calls me back”.

Build your marketing around your prospective clients’ pain and promise to take away that pain. You can’t go wrong with that formula.

By the way, you may have noticed that the actor who portrayed the spokesman in the Verizon ads is now the spokesman for Sprint.

Oh the pain, the pain.

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If they don’t understand, they won’t click

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William Howard Taft said, “Don’t write so that you can be understood, write so that you can’t be misunderstood.”

Clarity is key to effective writing. That’s true for legal documents, demand letters, presentations, articles, and just about everything else we write.

When you write a blog post, email, or ad, the headline or subject line must instantly communicate what your article or ad is all about. If you want them to open your email or read your blog post, you have to give them a reason why.

How do you know you’ve done it right?

One idea is to use “The Blank Sheet of Paper Test”. Ask yourself, “If you wrote this text on a piece of paper and showed it to a stranger, would they understand the meaning?”

You need a bit of room for creative license, however, or you might turn out clear and accurate but utterly boring prose. So use this idea as a place to start, not the be-all-and-end-all.

Note that the rule applies to strangers–visitors to your blog, readers of your articles, networking emails–where people don’t know you from Adam (or Eve). You don’t need to use it when writing to clients or subscribers to your newsletter. They’ll open and read your message because they recognize your name.

So, have I made myself clear? If not, that’s okay. No doubt you’ll open my next email or read my next post anyway, to see what stuff and nonsense I have for you.

How to write email subject lines that get clicks

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How to get people to remember you

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You have an impressive background. You’re proud of what you’ve accomplished and when you meet people, you want them to hear all about it.

You want them to know about your practice areas. You want them to know about your big-name clients and major verdicts. You want them to hear about the benefits you offer and the reasons they should hire you or refer to you.

The problem is, they don’t care about you and if you give them a laundry list of your bona fides, they’ll remember none of them.

A better strategy is to choose one thing you want people to know and remember.

Just one.

Lead with that and leave them with that. Because it doesn’t matter what you tell people, what matters is what they remember.

Take some time to think about the one thing you want people to remember. One practice area or one story that illustrates what you do or one interesting or humorous nugget of information about yourself.

When you meet someone new, tell them the one thing you want them to remember. If they want to know more, they’ll ask.

Of course, you should do most of the asking. Find out what they do, what they need or want, how you can help them or the people they know.

Give them your card, so they can visit your website if they want to know more. Which they may do if they remember you.

In case they don’t, make sure you get their card so you can stay in touch with them.

Learn more:

How to Sell Your Legal Services in 15 Seconds or Less

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Pretend I’m 12

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I watched some videos on a powerful piece of software that interested me. The problem was, the guy doing the videos is the guy who developed the software and he flies through his demos, assuming we’re able to follow.

But I couldn’t follow.

I was impressed with what I thought his software could do but decided it wasn’t for me.

Because it looked too complicated to learn and use.

It might be worth learning, it’s true, but I shouldn’t have to invest a lot of time to find that out.

It’s the developer’s job to show me.

He should have slowed down. Assumed I needed everything explained. And showed me all the whats, whys, and hows.

When you’re trying to get someone to buy your product, your services, or your ideas, you need to meet them where they are, take them by the hand, and walk them over to where you want them to go.

If they like where you’ve taken them, you’ve got a chance at a sale.

This is not always easy to do. You have some serious balancing to do.

You don’t want things to fly over the heads of the people you’re trying to persuade but you don’t want to dumb things down so much that they are bored or feel like you’re talking down to them.

You also shouldn’t “tell” so much as “show”. Yes, even with abstract ideas, selling your services, or persuading a trier of fact to your client’s cause.

It can be done and it’s your job to do it.

Just because you’re good at the legal work (or writing software) doesn’t mean anybody will buy it. It’s your job (or your copywriter’s) to convince them.

Slow your pace. Explain everything. And make sure they understand what you’ve just told them before you move on to the next subject.

If you want to persuade me, pretend I’m 12.

The marketing course for attorneys who want to get big, fast

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I’ve got good news and bad news

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Have you ever asked a client, “Which do you want first, the good news or the bad news?”

You might want to stop asking.

It turns out it’s better to give the bad news first and finish with the good news. According to research, people remember an experience more favorably when you finish the conversation on a positive note.

Psychologically, we prefer experiences that improve over time.

So, give clients the bad news first.

It works the same for you.

When you have to deliver bad news to a client, schedule them early in the day. That way, your day will end on a positive note.

Get the hard stuff out of the way so you can end the day on a high note.

I love it when a plan comes together.

How to get referrals without asking for referrals

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Don’t “fact” people to death

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Lawyers are fact merchants. We dwell in the land of research and evidence. But while a thorough recitation of the law and the facts may be necessary in the courtroom, in marketing it’s the kiss of death.

And I do mean death.

When you give readers and listeners, prospects and clients, nothing but the facts, you murder them. They’ll ready for a dirt nap before they finish the third paragraph.

Your prospects don’t want to know everything you know. They want to know that YOU know the facts and the law, and that you know how to use them to help them get what they want.

Think about novels or screenplays. They need just enough narrative to set the stage but it’s the story that people pay to see.

Facts tell but stories sell.

There are exceptions. But they are rare.

So, give folks a smattering of the facts and intersperse them with your opinions and advice, quotes from others, and most of all, stories.

Tell your readers or audience what happened to your client or your friend or to you, and what might happen to them if they don’t do what you recommend.

Need more referrals? Start here

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How to make your writing more accessible

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A lot of lawyers’ writing is formal and stilted, and I’m not just talking about legalese.

Using phrases like, “In order to” or “What’s more” or “Please note that” and the like–that’s formal.

Academic, archaic, stale.

If your writing sounds like Star Trek’s Data (no contractions), or Star War’s Yoda, (ass backwards), your writing could probably use a level 5 diagnostic.

There may be times when formal phrases are appropriate. But when you write to clients or prospective clients or to anyone you want to connect with, you’re usually better off ditching them.

Lose your inner professor. Take off your tux and tails. Take that stick out of that place where the sun don’t shine.

And write simply and informally. Not to impress but to communicate.

Formal language puts distance between you and the reader. Even when your reader is another lawyer.

Yes, sometimes you’ll catch me using formal phrases and ten-dollar words, but I try to avoid them because when I write to you, it’s supposed to be just the two of us, sitting on a porch, having a chat.

Why do we struggle to let down our hair? Because we’re professionals and we associate professionalism with formality. We’re uncomfortable being anything but, so we keep our distance.

And yet, when we give a presentation, we speak plainly, don’t we?

Correctamundo.

So, here’s a good rule of thumb: if you wouldn’t use a word or phrase in a speech or a private conversation, don’t use it in writing.

Here’s your homework:

The next time you write an email or article or letter, before you send it off to your victim, read it out loud and listen to how it sounds.

If it sounds like it was written by Chewbacca or Groot , put that thing through the universal translator before you send it.

How to get more clients with your website

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Email ping-pong

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We all play it. We go back and forth, forth and back, acknowledging each other’s latest email, letting the other party know their message was received and read and will be acted upon, adding thanks and emoji, and. . . it often wastes a lot of time.

It’s even worse when there are multiple people on the list.

Sometimes, you want a reply so you have a record that your message was received.

But often, you don’t.

How do you let people know they don’t need to reply?

The simplest way is to do that is to end your email with, “NO NEED TO REPLY”.

Four little words that could save you (and the other party) a lot of time.

Some people may perceive this as a statement that you’re not interested in their opinion or point of view, however, so you may want to soften it a bit by saying, “. . .no reply is necessary, I just wanted to keep you informed”.

For people you correspond with regularly, another way to handle this is to add a “short code” to the email subject line.

Examples:

  • NNTR: “No need to reply”
  • NRN: “No reply needed”
  • NRR: “No reply requested”

  • FYI-NNTR: “For your information; no need to reply”
  • NNTO: “No need to open”–when all the information they need is in the subject line, not in the body of the email. For example, APPOINTMENT THURSDAY AT 2PM CONFIRMED. NNTO.

When you DO want a reply, you could add PLEASE REPLY or PLEASE RSVP to the subject line, to call attention to the need for a response.

Whatever code(s) you use, make sure people know what they mean. You might add an explanation or “key” to the footer of your email template to do that.

How do you tell people you want–or don’t want–a reply?

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If you want someone to tell you more

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TV detective Colombo was famous for his trench coat, cigar, and glass eye, but even more famous for the way he would get witnesses to reveal things they didn’t intend to reveal.

At the end of the interview, everyone would stand up and get ready to leave, the witness would relax, and just when they thought they’re in the clear, Colombo would turn to them with his trademark, “Just one more thing”.

He would catch the witness off guard and often find out something he could use to solve the crime.

It wouldn’t surprise me to learn that you do something similar when you interview a witness, prospective juror, or anyone else who isn’t being forthcoming.

Many ex-purts tell us to prompt witnesses who don’t say much with, “tell me more,” “what happened next,” or other questions designed to get them to continue talking.

It turns out there’s an even simpler way to get people to tell you more.

Silence.

After someone has answered a question or volunteered information, don’t “fill the empty space” by asking another question–break eye contact, turn to your notes, and say nothing.

Often, a few seconds of silence is so uncomfortable for the witness, they’ll continue talking.

Sometimes, they volunteer precisely the information you were looking for, the very thing they didn’t want you to know.

And you can leave your raincoat and cigar at home.

How to get more referrals from other lawyers

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A simple way to get more people to listen

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When you speak to prospective clients or anyone else you want to persuade, they are often skeptical about what you offer or propose.

To overcome this, you want to make them feel safe so they will open their minds and listen to your offer.

One way to do that is to use words that align with the idea that what you’re proposing is “normal”–not unusual or risky.

This can be as simple as using the phrase, “If you’re like most people. . .”

For example,

“If you’re like most people, you want your loved ones to be protected in case something happens to you.”

“If you’re like most people, you want your business to be safe from claims and lawsuits. . .”

“If you’re like most people, you want your property to close quickly. . .”

Most people will agree that they want what “most people” want.

They’re listening.

You also got them to focus on a problem you just happen to be able to solve for them–and tacitly admit that they want a solution.

Clever you.

You can (and should) use this in your newsletter

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