Before I tell you that, I want to tell you this

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No. Don’t do that.

You’ll get more readers reading and listeners listening—to your articles, presentations, newsletters, email, or posts on social—if you do one simple thing.

Get to the point.

I see so many writers and speakers who don’t.

First, they want to tell you about their day or about their kid or about something they’re working on, thinking you’ll care about this or get all warm and fuzzy about them because you can see they’re just like you.

But that’s not why folks are reading the article or watching the presentation.

They want to learn something valuable or interesting (to them). Or be entertained.

So, in those first few seconds, yes seconds, you need to show them you’ve got this for them.

If you start out clearing your throat and warming up your tonsils before you get to the point of your message, many folks will think you don’t have a point and won’t stick around to find out.

Because people are busy and have the attention span of a gnat.

If you don’t get their attention immediately, they’re going to buzz away (do gnats buzz?)

Just the way it is.

This doesn’t mean you should never tell them about your day or your kid or something you’re working on. Just don’t lead with it.

Get their attention first. Tell them about other things later. Or weave those other things into your narrative to illustrate your points.

You listen to a baseball game on the radio to hear the play-by-play. The “color” commentary adds to that but can’t replace it.

There are exceptions. If you are an incredibly talented writer, or you’re writing to a captive audience, e.g., your clients who are inclined to read or listen to everything you say because they’re afraid of missing something important (to them), you can get away with some throat clearing before you begin your speech.

For everyone else, get to the point.

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Turn your writing into a client magnet

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One of your best marketing tools is your writing. Not just what you write about, but how you write it.

Yes, how you write it.

You might provide great information via how-to articles and posts. You might show prospective clients how you can help them solve a problem or achieve a goal. You might tell prospects what you offer, how you work with your clients, and why they should choose you.

And you should.

But other lawyers will say a lot of the things you say. So, unless you write in a way that makes readers feel an emotional attachment to you, you might struggle to close the deal.

There are many strategies for improving the effectiveness of your writing. Ways to make it more inviting, easier to read, and more persuasive. Study these strategies. Practice these techniques. They will help you get more new clients and repeat clients, more referrals, and more subscribers and followers.

But if you want readers to feel there’s something special about you, there’s something else you should do.

It goes beyond technique and better writing. It’s actually a marketing superpower. An elixir that will comple prospective clients to make an appointment, sign up for your list, or otherwise take the next step.

How do you acquire this superpower?

Research.

Find out what your market is interested in, what they know, and how they think.

Learn what frustrates them and keeps them up at night. Get conversant with the issues that abound in their industry or market. Be familiar with the words they use to describe their problems and desires.

When you do this, you can show prospects you understand them better than other lawyers who cross their path and talk about the law, but not about them.

Which is why you need to target a niche market and study it and the people in it.

When you write about an issue in that market and reference or quote someone prominent in that market, for example, someone your readers know about (or actually know) and trust, or when you’re able to talk about little details that only someone with a lot of experience in their market would know, your readers will see that you aren’t like other lawyers, you’re one of them.

Choose a niche market and study it. Your knowledge will allow you to write in a way that resonates with prospects on a deep level. You’ll be able to write in a way that makes their Spidey-sense tingle as they realize they’ve found the lawyer they’ve been looking for.

How to choose the right niche market for you

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It’s just a letter. From a friend.

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Content marketing doesn’t have to be complicated. Or take a lot of time. You don’t need to invest in a lot of paraphernalia or time learning how to use it.

In particular, you can start a newsletter using your regular email and add recipients as bcc’s. Once you have several hundred emails, and are convinced you want to continue, you can use a service to automate everything.

So, no excuses. Write an email, as you would write a letter to a friend or client or business contact, and share something—an idea, some news, something interesting you saw online or heard around the water cooler, or just say hello and hope they are well, and click send.

Don’t promise to send another letter. Don’t commit to a schedule. The purpose of writing is for you to see how easy it is and how nice it is when people respond and tell you they like what you said or thank you or ask a question.

It’s about staying in touch with the people who are important to you. It’s about the relationship.

A newsletter is the best way to build relationships with hundreds of people simultaneously.

And while some of the people you write to might write back and tell you they want to talk to you about another legal matter, or have a friend who needs to talk to you, don’t expect anything like that to happen.

But don’t be surprised if it does.

Don’t make this transactional. Don’t offer anything or ask for anything. Plenty of time to do that later. If you decide to continue.

Right now, it’s about putting your toe in the water, not jumping in the deep end.

Right now, it’s about writing a letter to a friend.

If you’re ready to do more, this shows you everything you need to know

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7 truths about content marketing

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Content marketing is a simple concept. You create and disseminate helpful information to attract prospective clients and show them how you can help them. If you want to do this to build your practice but aren’t sure you have what it takes, here are some things to consider.

  1. You don’t have to be a great writer. If you can write an email, you can write an email newsletter or blog.
  2. You don’t have to be original. You can write about the same subjects other lawyers write about.
  3. You don’t have to write a lot. A few hundred words are plenty.
  4. You don’t have to write often. Once a week is enough. Do more if you can and you want to, do less if you don’t.
  5. You don’t have to spend a lot of time. You can do everything you need to do in one hour a week.
  6. You don’t have to do a lot of research. Or any. Write what you know, write what’s going on in your practice, write what you observe or think.
  7. You will never run out of things to write about. And, you can re-purpose your other content (presentations, interviews, memos), and/or write about subjects you’ve written about before.

Offer of proof:

I’ve written about this subject more than a few times in the past, I didn’t do any research, this post is under 300 words, and I wrote it in 34 minutes. I’ll read it over to make sure I don’t sound like a blithering idiot, post it, and get on with my day.

If you’d like to know how to do the same, check out my course on email marketing

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Speaking of books. . .

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If you read a lot of books, or want to, but are busy and can’t always justify the time to do it, as I recently struggled with, I’m going to make things a little easier for you by pointing out some additional benefits.

Specifically, some ways you can use what you read to get more clients and increase your income.

Not just by learning new or better marketing or management ideas, but also by improving your productivity, speaking, writing, and negotiating skills, developing new habits (or getting rid of old ones), becoming more creative, reducing your stress, and so much more.

Good things that can make you better at what you do and who you are.

You can also use the information you learn to generate content for your blog or newsletter, videos or podcasts. And you should because many of your subscribers, prospective clients, and professional contacts want to learn many of the same things you want to learn.

Developing more content this way could be as simple as writing book reviews or blog posts that summarize key ideas in these books.

You could add these books to an ongoing “recommended reading” list and post it on your blog. You could compile your favorite quotes and stories and use them in your writing or presentations.

You could write guest posts about the books for blogs in your clients’ niche, interview other people who are following these ideas, or interview the authors themselves. You might even create workshops and teach others about the principles you’ve learned, or show people how you use them.

You could also use these books in your networking. If you’re at a function attended by physicians you’d like to meet, for example, asking them if they’ve read the latest book by one of their colleagues can be a great way to start a conversation.

If nothing else, you can give away copies of your favorite books to clients and professional contacts, as a way to add value to your relationships or to thank them when they do something nice for you.

In short, you can feed your reading habit and build your practice at the same time.

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Stop trying so hard

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I have a theory. Because being a lawyer is so demanding and requires so much attention to detail, and because most lawyers work their tails off to get everything right, they tend to do the same thing with creating content.

Which is why many lawyers don’t create a lot of content and thus miss out on a lot of traffic, leads, subscribers, and new clients.

If you’re not producing as much content as you want to, quit trying so hard. You can produce all the content you need without breaking a sweat.

No, you can’t produce junk. You need to provide value. That’s what keeps readers reading, sharing your content, and selling themselves on taking the next step towards hiring you.

You can do that with a lot less effort.

How? By writing less:

  • Shorter posts. A few hundred words is plenty.
  • Re-reusing/re-purposing your old/other content
  • Re-writing other people’s content (your words, examples)
  • Listicles (resources, tips, ideas, quotes, definitions, checklists, etc.)
  • Avoiding research; writing what you know (you know a lot)
  • Publishing less often
  • Getting help (in house or outsource)

You can also publish content without doing a lot of heavy lifting. Answer questions posed by your readers and clients, or share something you learned in an article, book, video, podcast, or MCLE.

You can report industry or local news (e.g., acquisitions, new hires, promotions, mergers, etc.), appellate opinions, and new or pending legislation, with very little of your own writing other than brief comments, e.g.., “this is new” and “here’s what I think about it” and “here’s what I’d like to see next”.

Stop trying so hard. Set a goal to provide ONE nugget per post, something your reader can take away, remember, and want to share.

Something interesting, helpful, or entertaining. Something you can write in 30 to 45 minutes.

More ways to (quickly) produce content

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Size doesn’t matter

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A tiny list of subscribers can make you a fortune. It’s true. You don’t need tens of thousands or even thousands of subscribers to your newsletter, blog, podcast, or channel.

For one thing, someone who reads or listens to your content won’t know they are among a handful. And can be as impressive as any other attorney.

Your article or post shows them you know what you’re doing. They see you understand their problem and have solutions. They hear success stories about how you’ve helped others in their industry or market. And they get a sense of what it would be like having you as their attorney.

Instead of merely telling the world the services you offer and asking them to trust in your ability to deliver results, your content proves you know what you’re doing.

You can also leverage your content to score interviews and joint marketing alliances with other professionals and influential people (who also don’t know you have very few subscribers).

You might start small but as you post more content online, you get more traffic from search and social sharing. Your list grows organically, bringing you more leads and inquires and new clients.

Regularly posting content makes you a better writer and marketer. It helps build your reputation. It helps you attract referrals from lawyers in other jurisdictions who find you from afar. And it supports your speaking, networking, advertising, and other marketing efforts.

But even if nobody finds you online, your online content give you a place to send prospects and leads you generate from other sources. It also gives your clients a place to send people they know to find out more about you.

Your content is an online brochure of sorts, that speaks to your prospects on your behalf and shows them why they should take the next step.

You might post just 5 or 10 articles on your blog and never add another. But that’s more than enough to show the world you know what you’re doing and convince them to find out more.

How to start and grow a blog that makes your phone ring

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More content or better content?

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The answer is yes. Because both play a part in driving traffic and leads and subscribers and clients.

But if you have to pick one, I’d recommend quality because this does the heavy lifting.

More content (properly optimized) will attract more visitors, but it matters little if those visitors don’t stick around to read your content or sign up for your offers.

Ah, so quality is the secret sauce? Don’t just tell them about your services, explain the law, tell them about their risks and options, show them how things work, and give them hope?

Is that what I’m saying?

Yes. Do this, because that’s what they came looking for, and that’s what will get them to keep reading and consider hiring you as their attorney.

But there’s something more important than the information you deliver. It’s what will convince them to take the next step.

I’m talking about you.

Because clients buy you before they buy your services.

It doesn’t matter how good your content is, how much of it you provide, or how many come to see it, if they don’t like what they see and want to hire you or find out more.

Tell them your story. Let them see your personality. Show them your photo, your bio, your accomplishments, and most of all, your voice.

Let them hear you speaking to them from the page, showing them you understand what they’re going through and want to help them. Let them see your strength, your wisdom, and your character. Let them get a sense of what it would be like working with you, having you by their side as their advisor and champion.

Because this, more than the quality of your information, is what will persuade them to take the next step.

How to create content that does most of the marketing for you

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Write your content for two people

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Yesterday, we talked about creating the kinds of content your audience wants to read. But the subject isn’t the entire story.

Your readers also have preferences regarding how you present your content.

They might prefer you to write formally, like the good lawyer you are, or more casually and conversationally.

They might like in-depth pieces or prefer something more basic. Or perhaps a mix of each.

How about what your content “looks” like? Does your audience like brief articles, 200-500 words, or something longer, perhaps 1000-2000 words? Do they want images or illustrations or is plain text just fine?

Do they want videos or audios they can listen to on the go or do they prefer being able to skim and highlight written text?

One of your most important questions is how frequently your audience wants to hear from you. Is daily too often? Is quarterly not often enough? Would they prefer to hear from you once a month with longer pieces or once a week with something they can consume in a few minutes?

Perhaps a mix of shorter pieces and the occasional longer one is just right.

But here’s the thing. Just like the subject of your content, people don’t always know what they want until they see it. And just because they’re used to consuming other content a certain way doesn’t mean they expect or demand yours to be the same.

If you have the time and resources to research how your readers want to consume the content you provide them, and you are willing to fine-tune your content to suit them, this might be worth exploring.

But you can also go another route. Give them what you want to give them and let them to adapt to you.

Because people do adapt.

Besides, if you’re giving them interesting and helpful content, how you dress it up and deliver it isn’t really that important, is it?

To some on your list, it is important. But you’ll never please everyone, nor should you try.

Instead, write for two people. Write for your ideal reader. The people who love what you do and how you do it.

And write for yourself.

Write what you want, package and deliver it the way you want to.

Because if you’re not happy, if you don’t enjoy writing your newsletter or blog or other content, if it is a chore instead of a labor of love, it’s going to show.

Give people what they want, but don’t sacrifice yourself to do that.

How to write a newsletter people want to read and you want to write

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What kind of content does your audience want?

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You need to know what your readers want you to write about because if you don’t give what they want, or you give them things they don’t want, they might not continue to be your readers.

People want what they want.

And leave clues about what that is.

Think about your previous content that produced a response and look for ways to provide more like that. If you’re not sure, if you don’t have enough metadata to know what they like or share or comment on, ask them. Either directly in your emails and posts or via surveys.

Do they want updates on specific developments in the law? Cases, legislation, trends, and the impact on them or their business?

Do they want you to explain how you do what you do or do they want more do-it-yourself information, so they can do some things themself?

Do they want more hard information or more stories about people like them who (with your help) have solved their problems and achieved their goals? (Yeah, give that to them even if they don’t tell you they want this; they do.)

Do they want you to interview other professionals occasionally? Do they want guest posts? Do they want information about your practice area or speciality or about allied areas as well?

What are they interested in? What do they care about? What do they want to hear from you?

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t tell them what you want to tell them. Say what you want to say, even if they’re not ready to hear it.

When they sign up for your newsletter or subscribe to your posts, they’re telling you they want to know what you think and recommend. They want interesting and helpful information. But, as Steve Jobs said, “customers don’t know what they want until we’ve shown them”.

So show them what you want to show them. But don’t ignore what their replies, comments, shares, questions, or your research tells you to give them.

What to write about in your newsletter

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