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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How to get people to listen to you

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You have a lot of experience. Many ways you can help people. You’re good at what you do.

You want people to know these things and you should tell them. But if that’s all you talk about, readers and listeners and prospective clients will eventually tune out.

Nobody wants to hear all about you. Not even your mother.

They want to hear about themselves.

If you want people to listen to you, talk about them.

When you speak to a prospective client, ask lots of questions–more questions than you may need to diagnose their situation–to get them to talk about their problems, their pain, their desire for relief.

And then talk to them about that.

Talk about yourself–your bona fides, your services, how you work with clients–to show them how they can get what they want.

You can do something similar in your marketing documents. Ask questions to get them to think about their situation, and then tell them about clients you have represented with the same or similar issues and how you helped them.

If you want people to listen to you, talk about them more than you talk about yourself.

Documents that can bring you more referrals

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Vaccinating clients and prospects

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I watched a CLE video on what to do when you have “bad facts”. The evidence is weak, the client is a bad mamma jamma, the witnesses have a history of making things up.

Your case or client has issues; what do you do?

The presenter talked about inoculating the jury by bringing out the negatives of your case yourself because they’ll be better received when they come from you instead of opposing counsel.

The presenter told a story about Domino’s Pizza that took this to an extreme.

They ran a series of ads in displaying negative comments they’d received about their pizza. “The crust is cardboard, the sauce is thin and tasteless, it’s not real cheese,” and so on.

Can you imagine running ads telling the world things like this?

Domino’s did it. And then they said that most companies would never admit things like this, they’d try to cover it up or excuse it, but Domino’s took this seriously and have made dramatic improvements.

They said that the crust, the sauce, the cheese, the whole product is better, and we think you’ll like it. Come try it and see.

Within six months, sales were up 17% company-wide, which is an extraordinary increase for a company of that size.

Domino’s admitted their flaws, fixed them, and won the day.

Which reminds me to remind you to do the same with your practice.

If you’ve been criticized for not doing something other lawyers do, for example, inoculate clients and prospects by admitting this “flaw”.

And then, turn it into a strength.

I don’t handle X, I only handle Y. By specializing (focusing), I’ve been able to develop expertise many other lawyers don’t have. . .

If your competition does a lot of advertising and some prospective clients wonder why they’ve “never heard of you,” explain that you get most of your business by referrals and don’t “need” to advertise.

If clients think your fees are high, make it a selling point: “You can find lawyers who charge less but you get what you pay for. . .”

Inoculate your clients and prospects (and juries) by admitting your flaws before someone else points them out.

Careful, though. If your crust tastes like cardboard, change your recipe before you tell anyone.

Marketing strategies that can help your practice take a quantum leap

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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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