I like pain. It feels so good when it stops. 


Why do people hire you? Because you help them solve their problems and alleviate their pain. Or protect them from problems that could cause them pain.

Sometimes, they think they can do this themself. Or they don’t realize how bad things could get and they wait.  

You need to splash cold water on them and wake them up. 

Tell them why they shouldn’t try to fix things themself and why they shouldn’t wait. 

Tell them why they need to call you now.

Tell them they should at least find out their options (and risks), and give them examples of clients who didn’t do that and suffered. The clients who didn’t listen when you told them to have you review that contract before they sign it or ask you about their problem when it was small and relatively easy to fix. 

Talk about the pain this cost them. And then talk about the clients who took action, and how everything turned out okay. 

You know the drill. 

Of course “prevention” is a harder sell then “cure” so when you’re talking about what could happen if they don’t talk to you or follow your advice, be a little dramatic about what can happen—you’re doing them a favor.

Use their fear to motivate them to act.

One way to do that, especially right now, is to talk about the economy. Inflation, foreclosures, losing their job, credit card debt, the rising cost of feeding their family—it’s on everyone’s mind, especially the people who need to talk to you the most.

They’re in pain and afraid things will get worse. Agree with them, and then tell them how they can get relief. 

People do things (and hire lawyers) for two reasons: pain and pleasure.

Make sure you talk about both. 


It’s not just what you say, but when you say it


It’s called “staging” and it makes your written or spoken message more effective by putting your points in the most effective order. 

For example, you stage your material when you start an article or presentation with the problem, not the solution, and follow that by explaining the risks of ignoring the problem or choosing a poor solution. 

After you describe the risks, you build on that with examples of what might happen, the costs, delays, pain and suffering, and secondary problems that can occur. 

Now, you have your reader’s attention and the desire to hear the solution. When you then describe the solution, e.g., your services, they’re all ears and ready to know what to do to get this solution. 

You tell them what to do, e.g., call, fill out a form, etc., and to seal the deal, you tell them the benefits of taking that next step—clarity, relief, a proven plan of action, saving money, etc. 

That’s staging. That’s using a logical order to improve your audience’s understanding, build tension, and show them a way to release that tension precisely when your reader or listener is most likely to do it.

But staging isn’t just the order in which you present the elements of your message. It’s also about how you transition from one element to the next. 

Want an example? (There, “Want an example?” is an example of a transitional phrase that pulls the reader forward to the next element, in this case, an example).

Transitional phrases keep readers reading and listeners listening. They do that by asking questions and painting pictures in their mind with statements that get them to focus on an image or feeling, ready to hear more.

There are many ways to accomplish this. For example, you can ask, “What do you think might happen if. . ?” and letting their imagination do the rest. Or, “Imagine how you’ll feel when you no longer have. . .”. 

You can also use transitional phrases to transition to your call to action or close. 

A few examples:

“At this point, there are 3 questions you should be asking yourself. . .”

“When I show this to people, they usually tell me/ask me. . .”

“Here are your options. . . which one makes the most sense to you?” 

“If this describes your situation, here’s what I recommend. . .”

Think of this type of transitional phrase as a palate cleanser, making the reader ready for the next course. 

Anyway, this is just a brief introduction to staging and transitional phrases. You don’t need to be a marketing expert or copywriter to use them. But do pay attention to how others use them in their writing and presentations, and consider how you might use them in yours.


It’s easy and well-worth doing


We’re talking about “edification”—the art of making other people look good by saying nice things about them. 

When you introduce someone to a client or friend, or introduce a speaker to an audience, and edify them, the other person or the audience sees them as more valuable, worth listening to, knowing, or hiring. 

And when you edify someone, your kind words and the graciousness with which you deliver them also make you look good. 

It doesn’t have to be exhaustive. You can simply mention a few of the speaker’s or other person’s accomplishments. Tell them about their book, their business or practice. Tell them about an award they received or a notable victory they obtained, or quote what others have said about them, e.g., testimonials or reviews. 

What do they do that helps people? What is their mission? What is something about them you admire?

You don’t have to exaggerate. Just say something laudatory and true. 

If you don’t know them, you need to learn something about them you can use when you introduce them. Read their bio or their “about” page, or simply ask them what they would like you to mention when you introduce them. 

Of course, the best edification occurs when you’re able to relate your personal experience with that person, or what your clients, business contacts, or friends have told you about their experience with them. If you refer a client to another lawyer, for example, tell them what that lawyer has done for you or for your other clients. 

In short, tell other people why they should listen to the person, watch their training or presentation, sign up for their newsletter, buy their products, or hire them.  

One more thing. 

You should also equip your clients and contacts to edify you. 

Give them information they can use when they introduce you or refer people to you. Even better, give them the kind of experience as their lawyer or friend that makes them want to tell everyone about you. 


3 keys to effective content


The reason you publish a blog or newsletter, post anything on social media, or deliver presentations, is to achieve a desired outcome. You’re not merely exercising your fingers or your voice, you want to inform or persuade people to do something. 

If you do, your content is effective. If you don’t, you might want to make some changes. 

There are lots of things you can do to improve your content and make it more effective. Editing, formatting, optimizing for readability and search, and more. But there are 3 things your content should always be or have:

  1. Clarity. Nothing you write or offer will do you or your readers any good if they don’t understand it. Your message must be clear and easy to follow, with sufficient detail and precision so that readers know what you want them to know or do. Explain terms, provide examples, and show them what you want them to see. If you maintain a publishing checklist, make sure “clarity” is at the top. 
  2. Helpful. Your message should help readers be, do, or have something they want or need. Your message should give them a reward or benefit for taking the time to read or listen. Teach them something important or useful, get them to think about something, or help them make a better decision. And if you can’t write something helpful, at least write something they will find interesting. 
  3. Next. Tell them what to do with this information. How to start, how to do it better, where to go to find additional information. End your piece with a “call to action” so they know exactly what you want them to do. That might be to call you, share your content, fill out a form, sign up for your webinar, or download your report. Tell them what to do, and why, i.e., how they will benefit from doing that. 

Make your message clear and easy to follow, provide helpful or interesting information, and tell them what to do next. These are the keys to effective content.  


Some lawyers are weird


It’s true. Some lawyers have strange interests or hobbies, extreme lifestyle choices or political views. But most people know this because most lawyers do a good job of keeping their personal life to themselves. 

Other lawyers do the opposite. They tell too much about their personal views and lifestyle. If you look up the phrase “over sharing” in the dictionary, you might see their photo. 

Of course, neither extreme is advisable. 

The thing is, most lawyers lean towards not sharing any personal information. Not on social media, on their blog or in a presentation. They may be great lawyers, but they look and sound like every other lawyer in their field (except the weird ones).

And have a hard time standing out or being remembered.

I get it. They want to maintain their image as a hard-working, dedicated professional, who works night and day to serve their clients. Anything personal might make them look weak or is at least irrelevant to their job. 

But clients know their lawyers are humans and they like them that way. They like knowing some things about their lawyer and what they do when they’re not working.  

The solution? Share a little personal information, but not too much. 

Do you have kids? Tell people about them. People like people who have kids. And all you have to do (if you don’t want to do more) is refer to them parenthetically. 

“I picked up my daughter from ballet class the other day. . .” tells your readers that you have a child and you are involved in their life. You don’t have to say more. 

But you can if you want to. 

When I took my daughter to ballet class years ago, I had trouble putting her hair in a bun and asked one of the moms for help. That added detail makes the experience easier to picture and might make it more relatable to parents who have had a similar experience.

Don’t over-share (especially if you’re weird), but do share some details of your personal life. Clients want their lawyer to fight for them and deliver good results, but they also like their attorney to be normal.  




When we want someone to do something we usually tell them what they will get if they do. We tell the prospective client the benefits for hiring us, the visitor to our website what our newsletter will help them learn and be able to do, and this is often enough to get them to take the next step. 

But there is something that is often more persuasive than telling people the benefits they get for doing what we’re asking them to do.

More powerful than telling people what they gain if they do something–telling them what they lose if they don’t. 

We tell the prospective client what might happen if they don’t have a lawyer protecting them from the insurance company, or they don’t choose us as that attorney. We tell the client what might happen if they don’t settle, or what might happen if they do.

We invoke their innate “fear of loss” (or Fear of Missing Out) and it often seals the deal. 

Because humans fear losing something already in their possession.

Fear of loss is often much more motivating than the desire for gain and you should use it in your marketing and in working with your clients. 

When you do, don’t limit your message to the big things they might lose (or gain). Sometimes, it’s the little things that close the deal.

For example, some prospective clients might choose your firm instead of another not because you’re demonstrably the best choice but because the picture of what it’s like working with you appeals to them. 

They like your personality, the way you write your articles, the causes you’ve talked about, or even the great Christmas parties you throw. 

And they don’t want to miss out on that. 

Make sure you show prospective clients the whole package that is you. Because if you don’t, they might not see the one thing that tips the balance in your favor. 

And hire someone else. 


Soft call-to-action 


When you tell your readers, audience, subscribers, or website visitors to do something you want them to do, e.g., Call to schedule an appointment, you’re using a call-to-action. And you should because the more you tell people what to do, the more likely it is that they’ll do it. 

Clearly, not everyone is ready to do what you ask when you ask it, which is why you should ask again. Put calls-to-action in most or all of your marketing communications. Remind them (often) to call, sign-up, or download something. And tell them why—the benefits they get or the problems this can help them solve. 

When (if) they’re ready, they will respond. Your job is to stay in touch with them and continually make the case for taking action by repeating your call-to-action, providing additional arguments and examples, reminding them about the benefits, and otherwise “selling” them on doing what you ask.  

Telling them to call for an appointment is a ‘hard’ call to action. If they call, there is an expectation that this will lead to them signing up for something and paying something, and this may not be easy for them because it requires a commitment they might not be willing (yet) to make.

Which is why you should also use the ‘soft call-to-action’. Asking (telling) them to do something that doesn’t require a big commitment. Something relatively easy for them to do:

  • Like, share, comment
  • Download this report
  • Fill out our survey
  • Hit reply and ask your question
  • Sign up for our free seminar
  • Watch this video, listen to this podcast, read this article
  • And others. 

Why use these? First, because they help you build a list, which gives you permission to follow-up and send additional information. 

And second, because the more often you ask them to do something, and they do it, the more likely it is that they will do something else you ask.  

Get a visitor to your website to give you their email address and download your report today. Tomorrow, it will be easier to get them to sign up for your seminar or listen to your replay. Eventually, it will be easier to get them to schedule that appointment. 

What’s interesting is that even if they don’t do the things you ask, the more you ask, the more they become conditioned to hearing you ask and the less resistant they become to (eventually) doing something you ask. 

The lesson? Ask visitors and readers and prospects to do things and never stop asking. 

Each time they hear you ask, they take a step closer to becoming your next client.

Marketing legal services is easier when you know The Formula


Quick, grab this headline for your next blog post


It’s called “fear of loss” and it’s powerful. More powerful than the desire for gain. People want to protect what’s already theirs, their money, for example, and will take action to do that, more than they’re willing to take action to get more of it. 

Watch what’s happening in the financial markets right now to see “fear of loss” in action. 

So, when you write a blog post or article, do a presentation, run an ad, or create any message to prospective clients, et al., and you can point out what your reader or listener might lose if they DON’T hire you, accept your offer, follow your advice, etc., you would do well to mention that. 

Sure, tell people what they can get if they hire you, talk to you, etc. and what they might lose if they don’t. 

Which leads to the headline I promised to give you in my headline. 

A headline that gets your prospective clients’ attention and motivates them to read your article, which is what a headline is supposed to do. 

The headline: 7 Mistakes to Avoid When Hiring a [type/specialty] Lawyer

Because anyone who is looking for a lawyer who does what you do, surely doesn’t want to make those mistakes. 

You could spice this up with words like “deadly” or “costly” or “exceedingly painful” to amplify the word “mistakes” and give it even more emotional firepower. Depends on your market, the tone of your article, and your style. 

But “mistakes” will often be all you need, particularly if your headline is seen by someone who is decidedly afraid of making a mistake. 

Once your reader reads your article, they find out what those mistakes are (and how to avoid them). They also learn what could happen if they do nothing. 

And their fear of loss motivates them to take the next step, i.e., respond to your call to action. 

In your article, make sure you explain why these are mistakes. This gives you the opportunity to show them you know what you’re doing and differentiate yourself from the crowd. You might tell them about one or more of your clients who made that mistake prior to finding and hiring you, and how you helped them out of that mess. 

How to use a blog to make your phone ring


Consider the context


Every time you send an email, talk to someone, conduct a presentation, or otherwise seek to persuade someone to do something, you can’t deliver your message and expect everyone who hears or reads it to hear the same message.  

Because they won’t. 

It depends on the context. Your reader or listener’s prior experience, their needs and wants, their perception of you, and other factors make a difference. 

Especially the actual words you say and when you say them. 

The latter is based on a phenomenon known as “the framing effect” which says that people’s perceptions and decisions are influenced by how and when the information is presented to them. 

A product may be more appealing, for example, if the price is framed as a discount rather than the regular price. Your client may see an offer to settle his claim as more acceptable if it is made after a series of lower offers. 

Consider the context in which the other person will receive your message. And modify your message to suit that context. 

Some people won’t decide without hearing more information. Others might be overwhelmed and shut down if you give them more. 

How do you know what to do? 

You have to know your client (prospect, opposition, etc.) Which is why it is better to target niche markets. 

And you need to pay attention. Because the other person’s response to your message will often tell you everything you need to know. 


Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman


Wouldn’t it be great if the first time you talked to a prospective client about your services they said, “Where do I sign up?” 

It would, but they don’t. 

They usually want more information. Maybe a lot more. And they want you to explain things in enough detail that they not only understand it, they see that your solution is their best solution. 

Because they don’t want to make a mistake.  

They will have questions. As you answer those questions, they’ll often think of more. 

Getting them from not knowing to knowing, and from knowing to doing (hiring you) is a process, and it usually takes time.

The prospective client needs you to explain things again, in different want, so they can understand everything. 

And, no matter how good you are at explaining, not everyone “gets” it as quickly as others. Especially with something complicated (like the law) and scary (like the law) and expensive (like the law). 

When you’re sitting with the prospect, you can take your time explaining things properly, ask questions to make sure they understand, show them the paperwork, read their body language, and answer all of their questions. You can take as long as they need.

And you no doubt do all that. But it’s a different story when you’re communicating with them online. 

Putting up more FAQ’s, videos, and other information can help. But sometimes, all that information overwhelms or confused them, leading them to conclude they’re not ready to do anything.  

What can you do?

The answer isn’t to wait until their problem gets worse and they’re in enough pain to finally call. The answer is to stay in touch with them, via email. 

Send more information. Send them the same information stated in different ways. Send them more examples, use cases, and stories about others who had what they have and found relief by hiring you, or found relief by speaking with you (and then hiring you).

Don’t do this once or twice. Do it over and over again, for as long as it takes, because you don’t know when (or if) they will be ready.

Let your newsletter do the heavy lifting. Until they’re ready for you to get on your white horse and save the day.

Email marketing for attorneys