The (second) best way to get a reply to your letter

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It’s frustrating to send a letter or email to someone who doesn’t reply.

Did they get my email? Did they read it? Maybe I said something wrong. Maybe I’m not important to them. Maybe they’re out sick.

I’ve got a situation like that right now. I need to know if my accountant got my email and it’s been over a week.

I wrote again, but in the past, my emails have gone to his spam folder and he has a bad habit of not checking.

It’s about a tax matter and I really need to know, so today, instead of gnashing my teeth, I’m going to do the unthinkable. I’m going to call.

Talk to him or his staff, tell them what’s up.

Yeah, I’m going old school. Simple, isn’t it? Problem solved.

Unless I get his voicemail and he doesn’t check that.

I know a lawyer who is having a similar problem with an adjuster. He’s emailed, called and left messages, but the adjuster hasn’t contacted him and the Statute is coming up.

In that case, I’d recommend the number one way to get a response: file and serve.

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Are lawyers human?

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An article at ProBlogger.com encourages us to “sound more human” in our writing and offers 10 tips for doing that.

“Use more contractions” is good advice for lawyers who tend to write more formally than most humans. Same goes for “Use shorter, simpler, clearer words.”

Indubitably.

Also important for lawyers is to avoid using jargon. Don’t “tortuously interfere” with someone when you can simply trash talk them.

We’re told to proofread before we publish, and that’s always sound advice. Many of us also benefit by using a grammar checker like Grammarly or ProWritingAid (the one I prefer).

There’s some important advice about putting ourselves in our reader’s shoes and making them the focus of our writing. As the author says, he is often told, “I feel like you’re writing to me,” meaning he’s doing it right.

I like the idea of creating a style guide, to standardize spelling, capitalization, localizations, formatting, etc., so your writing is consistent.

I like the idea, but I’ve never done it and probably never will. I kinda like being random.

The final tip is something I can’t abide: “Don’t be snarky”.

I’d never write anything if I I followed that one.

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Just the facts, ma’am

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In the pantheon of bad marketing advice, is the notion that telling prospective clients about your experience and your services is enough to persuade people to choose you.

Because it’s not.

They’re important. A client wants to know what you offer and what you can do for them, and you need to tell them, but if that’s all you tell them, if you give them just the facts, you’re not giving them enough to make a buying decision, that is, to hire you.

Because people “buy” for emotional reasons and then justify their “purchase” with the facts.

Your job is to trigger an emotional response to your words, to make them feel something that compels them to act.

The simplest and most effective way to do that is by telling stories.

Stories are the juice of marketing. They lubricate your message, give it context, and show the need for and benefits of what you offer. Stories convey importance and urgency and persuade people to act.

Seth Godin said, “Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but about the stories you tell.”

Stories are especially important when you sell something abstract like legal services.

Stories work because they’re about people. Prospects pay attention to your stories to find out what happened to them.

Oh boy, look at that. Here I am trying to convince you to use stories in your marketing and I haven’t used any. I made an important point, but that point would be more effective and memorable had I told you about these two lawyers in the same market who offer the same services, but who use a slightly different marketing strategy.

Lawyer Moe’s marketing primarily consists of brochures, and a website filled with facts. He describes his practice areas, his experience, and his services, and it’s impressive.

Lawyer Larry also tells the facts, but includes stories from his practice to illustrate what he does for his clients. His stories are usually no more than a few paragraphs, but like any story, they have a beginning (a problem), a middle (complications), and a resolution (problem solved by Larry, our hero).

Moe has more experience than Larry, but Larry earns three times what Moe earns, primarily because his stories “show” instead of “tell”.

Facts tell, but stories sell. Use stories in your marketing.

Put stories in your newsletter

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The Bandwagon Effect

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Psychologists tell us most people tend to think or act a certain way when they believe others are doing the same. They don’t want to make a mistake or miss out so they usually follow the crowd.

The “Bandwagon Effect” is a cognitive bias that causes people to buy a certain product or act a certain way because it is the more popular option.

Prospective clients often choose the attorney who appears busier for the same reason.

You can use this innate cognitive bias in your conversations and presentations with prospective clients.

When you present two or more options to a prospective client, e.g., Package A (your “starter” service) and Package B (your bigger service), for example, before you ask what they’d like to do or which option they prefer, tell them which option is more popular: “Most of my clients prefer Package B” (if that’s true) and tell them why.

You can do something similar in your articles and blog posts, and in your sales materials.

“Most of the people I talk to about [issue] tell me they don’t want to wait, they want to take care of this immediately because. . .”

Most people want to follow the ostensibly safer and better path chosen by others, so make sure you tell people what most people usually do.

Ready to make this year your best year ever? This will help

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What ancient Egyptian sounded like and how we know

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Last night I watched a video with the above title. I don’t have a particular interest in the subject; the title caught my eye and made me curious.

Like you would be if you were about to witness the opening of a pyramid for the first time.

Unfortunately, I can’t tell you anything about the subject because it was late and I fell asleep a few minutes after the video began. I woke up and trundled off to bed, but not before recording the title on my phone.

I did this because I collect good titles and headlines. You should, too.

They provide a template of sorts that we can use to write headlines and titles for our blog posts, articles, emails, and books.

Headlines that make people curious to read more.

If you’re a PI lawyer, for example, the title of this video might prompt you to write a blog post with the title, “How much is my case worth and how do you know?”

That’s something clients and prospects frequently ask, isn’t it?

Hopefully, people won’t fall asleep once they start reading your post, or turn the page because you failed to deliver on the promise of your title.

In other words, don’t write clickbait-y titles. That’s a surefire way to alienate people.

So, while you obviously can’t tell anyone what their case is worth in advance, make sure you provide enough information in your post so the reader feels like you didn’t lie to them.

And, when a clickbait-y title gets your attention and makes you curious, add it to your collection. It may prompt you to write a headline that promises something you can actually deliver.

How to write headlines and titles that get more referrals

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Client relations starts before the client hires you

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Everyone touts the importance of excellent client relations, aka “customer service”. And rightly so. 

Making our clients feel appreciated, minding our manners, giving clients more value than they expect, being fair and honest in our fees and billing, keeping clients informed–this is how we build trust, get good reviews, and generate repeat business and referrals. 

We build our reputation and a loyal client following by the way we treat our clients, at least as much as by the outcomes we deliver. And we generally do a good job of it.

But we can do better. 

Because it’s not just how you treat a client after they come to see you, it’s the entirety of the client experience, which begins before you ever speak with them. 

When someone refers a prospective client to you, what do they tell them about you? 

When a prospective client watches your video, reads your article or blog post, or hears you speak, what does your content and delivery tell them about your abilities and experience?

When they visit your website, what do they learn about your services, your experience, and what it will be like to have you as their attorney?

When someone subscribes to your list, what do you send them, tell them, and offer them, and what does that say to them about you?

And when someone contacts you, to ask a question or schedule an appointment, what are they asked, what are they told, and how do you make them feel?

Because your success depends on how you make people feel–about their case or issue and about you.

A successful legal career isn’t a series of transactions so much as a journey, and how many people you can bring with you. 

And that journey begins well before the client’s first appointment, and continues long after their last one.

The Quantum Leap Marketing System for Lawyers

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The biggest sin in marketing legal services

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There are a lot of ways to go wrong in your marketing. Here are just a few:

  • Wasting time or money on strategies that aren’t working
  • Shotgun marketing: trying to sell everything, e.g., all of your services, to everyone at the same time
  • Not pre-qualifying prospective clients
  • Chasing instead of attracting
  • Not using a “call-to-action” (telling prospects what to do)
  • Not differentiating yourself from other lawyers
  • Not following up with prospects
  • Not building a list
  • Not staying in touch with former clients

These can all cost you clients and hurt your bottom line.

The biggest sin in marketing, however, is being boring.

People won’t read boring articles. They won’t watch boring videos or listen to boring podcasts. They won’t follow boring people on social media.

You might get your marketing message in front of a lot of people who need your help or who can refer people who do, and get nowhere because they never read or relate to your message.

If you want people to hire you or build a relationship with you, you’ve got to get and keep their interest.

Fortunately, this isn’t difficult to do.

It starts with researching the people you want to attract.

Study their market or industry, their problems and desires, so you can show them you understand them and what they want or need, and are uniquely qualified to help them get it.

How to research your target market and ideal client

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2 things you need to know before your next paper or presentation

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You’re working on a presentation, paper, article, brief or book. You’re about to have a conversation with a client or prospect, negotiate a contract or address a jury. You’re writing an email for your newsletter or to someone you’d like to meet.

Any time you have a message to communicate, there are two things you need to know first:

  1. Your audience.

Who are they and what do you know about them and their situation? What’s important to them? What do they already know about you and your subject? How will they benefit from reading or listening to your message?

  1. Your purpose.

Why are you writing to or speaking with them? What do you want them to know? Why is this important? What do you want them to do after they read or listen to your message?

Give this some thought, make some notes, and then distill this information into a single sentence:

“As a result of my [talk, paper, email, etc.], they will understand [this] and respond by doing [this].”

For example:

“After reading my [email/blog post/article], they will understand the benefits for [updating their estate planning/corporate documents and the problems that can occur if they don’t], and respond by [making an appointment].”

Answering these questions before you write or speak will help you create a more effective message and make it more likely you’ll get the response you want.

[Based on this article about writing a better speech]

How to build your practice with email

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Don’t know what to write about? Here’s what to do

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When you’re out of ideas to write about in your blog or newsletter, there’s no need to panic.

You can write about almost anything.

Let’s say you’re in the market for a new computer. You’ve looked at the options, compared brands, found answers to lots of questions, and made some decisions. You may have ruled out certain brands or operating systems or options. You may have chosen your next machine.

Why not write about that?

Share the story of your quest–what you went through, what you discovered, what you decided and why. And. . .

. . .use that story as an analogy for hiring an attorney.

Tell readers what to look for in an attorney, the questions to ask and the answers they should hear.

Tell them the pros and cons of different types of attorneys or different services; explain the must-haves and the nice-to-haves.

Tell them what they need to know and do to make a good “purchase” and the problems they may have if they don’t.

Show readers you understand what they want and guide them to taking the next step.

You might end your post by telling them you’re happy with your choice of computer and relieved the hunt is over and you can get back to work, because that’s what readers want in their hunt for an attorney.

Look at what’s happening in your practice or personal life. The odds are there’s something you can use in your next post.

I’ve written posts about my cats, shopping with my wife, hiring service people for our home, stories about cases and clients, things I see online, things I see on my walk, and much more.

You can, too.

You don’t need to write more than a few sentences about your experience, a question someone asked you, a video you saw, or a thought that crossed your mind.

You can write about almost anything.

How to write emails that bring in repeat business and referrals

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How much, how often?

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Information overload is clearly a thing.

According to a 2014 study by UC San Diego, each day we spend an average of 11.8 hours consuming media on our devices, the equivalent of 174 full newspaper’s worth of information.

That’s approximately 113,000 words per day, and this is increasing 2.4% each year.

So it’s not surprising to hear many people tell those of us who write a blog or a newsletter or produce videos or other content to cut back.

But I’m not cutting back and neither should you.

Because we have people with problems that need solving or goals they wish to achieve, and the information we send them helps begin the process.

So, let other people cut back. Not us.

When you send out valuable and/or interesting information that educates clients and prospects about their problems and the available solutions, you give them hope for a better future.

And you can’t do that too much or too often.

Where many marketers go wrong, however, is by sending out information that’s not helpful or interesting, so people stop reading it and forget your name.

Which doesn’t help anyone.

The message is simple. Write something people want to read and send it often, because you don’t know how many times they need to be reminded that you have the solutions they seek, or when they’ll be ready to take the next step.

How to write content people want to read

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