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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Most attorneys miss this

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People want to know about the solutions you offer–your services, how they work, what you do better or differently than other attorneys. But if you only talk about your solutions, or you open the conversation or presentation by talking about them, you’re missing the boat.

Prospective clients are far more interested in themselves than you. If you want them to appreciate what you offer and how you can help them, you need to talk more about their problems than your solutions.

In consultation, in a seminar, in your newsletter or blog, on your website, talk about problems. That’s what a prospective client is thinking about, after all. That’s what’s keeping them up at night.

Ask questions to help them identify the nature and extent of their problems. Help them understand their risks and how bad things can get.

Then, get them to acknowledge that they want to fix their problem.

Now you’ve got their attention. Now, they’re ready to listen to your solutions and much more likely to take the next step.

Focus on problems and pain. They’re far more interesting than your legal services and far more likely to get prospective clients to say, “Where do I sign?”

Need help writing effective marketing messages? Let me know

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Reading this could be a waste of time

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Most people aren’t that interested in learning the bulk of what you could teach them about the law. If you’re trying to build a following by pushing out as much information as possible, no matter how good that information might be, you’re probably wasting your time.

In the beginning, prospective clients read what you write in a blog or newsletter because they’re looking for information–about their problems or interests and about your ability to help them.

Once they’ve satisfied themselves that you can help them, they won’t continue to read what you write or watch your videos or listen to your podcast unless you give them a reason to do that.

And you want them to do that.

You want them to continue to read or listen to you until they’re ready to take the next step. You want to build a relationship with them because that relationship will mean that if they hire any attorney, they will be more likely to choose you.

That relationship can also help bring more traffic to your website, build your following on social media, and generate more referrals.

That’s one reason why I put a lot of “me” into my content, and why you should do the same. We are a lot more interesting to our readers and followers than the information we provide them.

Building a following isn’t just about showing people what you know. It’s as much about showing people who you are.

Let people get to know you; liking and trusting and hiring won’t be far behind.

To learn how to build a following with email, go here

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Obfuscate, equivocate, prevaricate, and other big words

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Some people don’t like lawyers. When we parse words, say we didn’t mean what we said, play games to prove we were right or get out of something we said we would do. . . it drives them crazy.

It’s hard to blame them. When it comes to words, we’re tricky.

We choose our words carefully because that’s how we protect our clients and ourselves. We hide behind our words because we don’t want to reveal what we really think or how much our client is willing to accept.

We’re notorious for being hard to read and hard to pin down.

But we need to know when to turn it off.

When we speak with a client or prospect (or a friend), ambiguous language and exploiting loopholes is off-putting, frustrating and breeds mistrust.

We may win a lot of battles with our clever ways but in the end, we lose more than we’ve won.

If we want people to like and trust us, hire us, and stay friends with us, we need to speak clearly and plainly. No loopholes, no footnotes, no arguments preserved for appeal.

How do we do this? I’ll let you know when I figure it out.

How to get referrals from other lawyers

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A message for sole practitioners, introverts, and misanthropes

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Contrary to popular belief, I’m not a hermit. I like being around people. But like most introverts, I can only handle so much of that before I get antsy or fatigued or ready to scream.

I can speak on a stage in front of thousands. But for personal communication, I prefer one-on-one or small groups.

Also, I usually prefer to work alone.

Not always, not for everything, but given most of the projects I am involved with, my preferred way of working is to do most of it myself.

No committees, no groups, no partners, no second opinions, just me and my lonesome. At least until I’ve taken it as far as I can, or as far as I need to, and it’s ready to hand off to someone else.

Does this resonate with you? If so, you might be a kindred spirit. I’d give you a hug to welcome you to the club but I’d rather just send you an email.

Anyway, the point isn’t that introverts or extroverts are better or more successful. Based on what I’ve seen, it’s a tie. We are equally successful, but for different reasons.

The point is that no matter which way you swing, as an employer or partner or member of a board, it’s important to understand how others prefer to work so that we can give them what they need to do their best.

If you’re an extrovert, understand that if we don’t want to meet with you or work directly with you, it’s nothing personal. We’ll get back to you when we’ve done our thing.

If you’re an introvert, understand that while we do well working alone, there are times when involving others lets us do even better.

As the well-known African proverb says, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with others.”

Does your website need a refresh? This will help

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4 words that helped me pass the bar exam

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In law school, as we learned how to ‘think like a lawyer,’ we learned the importance of being able to look at both sides of an issue and argue either one. On exams, that’s precisely what we did.

On exams, I routinely used a four-word expression to transition from one side to the other: “On the other hand”.

No doubt, you did too.

We need to remember those four words when crafting (or signing off on) a marketing message (presentation, ad, conversation, etc.) directed to prospective clients.

Prospective clients know there are alternatives to hiring you. When you acknowledge this, you gain trust. You don’t look like a salesperson, you look like an advisor.

So you might say, “Here are your options:”

  1. “You could do nothing. That may work out if. .  On the other hand. . .”
  2. “You might wait and see if X happens. If it does, you should be okay. If it doesn’t. . .”
  3. “You could handle it yourself (e.g., write a letter, talk to the other lawyer). But, you’re taking the risk of [bad things that could happen])”
  4. “Or, you could let me handle this for you. Here’s what I’ll do. . .”

Given these options, most prospective clients will make the decision that’s best for them, which is usually the one that’s best for you.

How to get more repeat business and referrals

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Start with no

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Whenever you consider taking on a new project your default decision should always be “no”. You have enough on your plate. You need to focus on the things you’ve already decided are a priority in your life. Anything that would distract you from those priorities should be turned down.

You might change your mind tomorrow or even later today. A no can become a yes but the project has to earn it.

You have to see the value of diverting resources to take on something new. What will it cost? What will you have to give up or delay? Why should you do this instead of what you had already planned to do next?

Okay, you get it. You probably already do this to some extent. But do you also do it when someone else asks you for something?

When someone asks for a favor, your time, a donation, or anything else, your default answer should also be no, although you might not want to say that out loud.

Their request might be easy to fulfill. You may want to do it. Still, pause for a moment and consider what you’ve been asked and give yourself the option to turn it down.

Don’t be a Scrooge. But do reflect on what you might have to give up or delay if you say yes.

It’s about putting yourself first. Valuing your time and resources and not giving them away willy-nilly. Protect your time, protect your health, protect your fortune.

If you don’t take care of yourself, eventually you won’t be able to help others. And the more you take care of yourself, the more you will be able to help others.

Take care of your clients and they’ll send you referrals

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Are you bludgeoning prospective clients?

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I saw this headline yesterday: “5 Privacy Apps You Need to Install IMMEDIATELY”. I wondered what would happen if I didn’t install all 5 apps immediately. Or ever.

I didn’t install any of them. I didn’t even read the article.

What I can say, I like living dangerously.

Actually, I get “imperative fatigue” with all the articles and posts and emails mandating what I need to buy, do, or read.

32 must-have extensions, 27 must-see websites, 21 essential books to read right now. . .

Enough. I can’t keep up. I don’t want to keep up.

If this kinda thing annoys you like it does me, if your eyes glaze over when everyone tells you all the bad things that will happen if you don’t fall into lockstep with everyone else, if you find yourself avoiding articles like these, well, guess what? Your clients do, too.

So don’t do this to them.

In your marketing, presentations, and conversations, don’t smother them with too many problems, too many options, or too many things they MUST do (immediately), OR ELSE.

They’ll shut down. Stop listening to anything you say.

Slow your roll. Be different. Instead of clubbing them over the head, seduce them.

When everyone else tries to force-feed them a complete meal, give them a tasty appetizer. Instead of showing them your entire menu, talk to them about one of your signature dishes.

Invite them to take a bite and see what they think. If they like it, you can show them the rest of your menu.

In marketing, your number one task is getting the prospective client’s attention. Because if they don’t read what you wrote or listen to what you said, they’ll never become a regular at your restaurant.

Marketing made simple

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Say what?

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You may have heard the pejorative term “hairography”. According to the Urban Dictionary, this is “choreography using a lot of dance movement with the head that causes the hair to thrash about.” Basically, it’s done to disguise a lack of dancing skills.

Sadly, some lawyers do something similar when they hide behind big words and legalese.

I call it “lexography”.

I have to admit, as a fledgling attorney, I spoke the lingua franca. My letters and pleadings sounded like they were written in another century. Formal, stilted, passive voice, and boring.

I didn’t want to be seen as lacking experience in the arcane world of the fraternity I had recently joined. I wanted to sound like a lawyer and I thought that’s what I had to do.

I even did it with clients. I was young (and looked it) and I wanted to sound like a grown up.

It all ended quickly. I hated the way I sounded, and it was too much work to keep up, so I said, “the hell with it” and I stopped.

What a relief!

I spoke plainly. Simple words. Colloquial expressions. Cliches.

I used short sentences.

Like this.

Nobody complained or looked down on me. Nobody refused to hire me because I sounded inexperienced or unprofessional.

So, if you’re new to this club, or you (still) have issues with “sounding like a lawyer,” let it go.

I get a lot of email from lawyers. Some lawyers (lawyers!) can’t communicate a cogent thought to save their life.

Seriously. I can’t understand them.

C’mon, people. We are word merchants, you and I. We get paid to communicate. We need to be on top of our game. Better than good. Clear, concise, and persuasive.

You don’t need to be eloquent but if writing doesn’t come naturally to you, do what you have to do to get better. Take classes, get an editor, read outside your field.

Get a writing “workout partner”. Get lots of practice. And most of all, have fun with it. You’ll be glad you did. So will your clients.

How to write a “special report” that brings in clients

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Why you should zig when everyone else zags

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You really don’t want to stand out, do you? You’ve heard the reasoning behind it and you get it, but if you have a choice, you’d rather blend in with all the other guys and gals who do this legal thing.

You want to be left alone to do your work. You don’t want people to pay attention to all your typos and blemishes and weird ideas.

And yet, you must. You must put yourself “out there”. You must take the risk.

If you don’t give people reasons to notice you, remember you, and hire you (instead of any other lawyer), you shouldn’t be surprised when nobody does.

So, baby steps. Start with something easy. It almost doesn’t matter what it is so long as its different from what most lawyers do.

I’ll give you one. Email. When every other lawyer (and other professional) sends fancy newsletters, with pretty pictures, stylish formatting and modern layouts, do the opposite.

Plain text.

Go on, I dare you. It is a very simple way to stand out.

Plain, ugly, mono-type. The plainer the better. Like I do. Your newsletter won’t look like everyone else’s. It won’t look like something you bought from a company. It won’t look like a commercial product.

It will look like an email. Which is why it will stand out. And why it gets read.

Make your email look like a personal communication, not an ad. It’s an easy way to stand out and build a relationship with the people on your list.

You do know how to write an email, don’t you? You just put your lips together and. . . okay, nevermind. We’ll talk about that another time.

Need ideas for your newsletter? Get them here

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