It’s not about your services, it’s about your solutions

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You offer services. You want happy clients. One doesn’t necessarily lead to the other.

Before you tell anyone about your services or create any new marketing documents, ask yourself this question:

“What problems am I qualified to solve?”

Because your services (knowledge, skills, experience, etc.) are merely tools you use to solve problems, which is what your clients really want.

So, make a list. What solutions and benefits are you capable of delivering?

Look through your closed client files and take inventory of what you’ve done for your clients. What problems did you solve? What benefits did you help them get?

Clients don’t care about your services. They don’t really need to know how you do what you do.

They want to know what you can do for them.

Okay. Once you know what you can do to help people, make a list of people (businesses, entities) who need what you do.

Who is your ideal client? What are their problems? What do they want?

Once you have answered these questions, you can talk about your services and offers.

More importantly, you’ll know who to target with your marketing message, and what to talk about in that message.

How to quickly grow a big practice

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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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Do you want to see something really scary?

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Lawyers sell hope and opportunity. We sell money at a discount. We sell relief.

We tell stories to show prospective clients what it will be like when they hire us to help them.

But we also tell stories of what it will be like if they don’t.

Fear is an important tool in our toolbox and we use it to motivate people to act.

We describe the worst case scenario, enumerate the potential losses, and estimate the potential expense. We dramatize this in our web copy and consultations, and it works. People sign up because they’re afraid of what might happen if they don’t.

So, use fear. Scare your prospects into taking action. You’re doing them a favor, motivating them to do something they need.

But. . . don’t overdo it.

Because if you scare them too much or too often, many people shut down.

They stop listening. They stop reading your emails. They cancel appointments.

So, how much fear is enough but not too much?

Publicly, meaning on your website, newsletter, articles or presentations, offer lots of hope and a sprinkling of fear. Let them know about potential risks or problems, share a story or two of things that went wrong for people in their situation, but don’t go into a lot of detail–or do it too often.

You want them to take the next step, not keep looking for a lawyer who offers hope and opportunity.

Privately, in a consultation or on the phone, you can give them more than a sprinkling of fear. How much, you’ll have to decide in the moment.

How much is at stake? What’s their level of sophistication? How do they feel about their current situation?

Ask lots of open-ended questions and get them talking. They usually tell you everything you need to know to get them to take the next step.

How to get more people on your list to take the next step

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You’re not in the information delivery business

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Prospective clients visit your website and dig through your articles or posts. They watch your videos or listen to your podcasts. They consume your FAQs.

They have questions. You have answers. And I’m sure you do a good job of providing valuable information.

There’s just one thing.

If all you do is give people information and answer their questions, you’re dropping the marketing ball.

Prospective clients want information, it’s true. They visit your site, read your article, or watch your presentation because they’re curious about the law, their rights, their risks, and the solutions that are available to them.

If you satisfy their curiosity, however, by explaining the law and telling them everything they need to know, you’re not giving them a reason to hire you or take the next step in that direction.

Basic information? Sure. General guidelines? Of course. But anything you do beyond that is antithetical to the purpose of your marketing.

Which is to convert prospects into clients.

Look at your website. Look at your email sequences, brochures, ads, and other marketing communications. Are you satisfying curiosity by telling people everything, or building curiosity and inspiring them to call or write?

You’re not in the information delivery business. You use information to attract people who are looking for solutions, tell them enough to show them they’ve come to the right place, and persuade them to contact you.

Because if they don’t do that, they don’t get the help they need, and you don’t get the clients you want.

Marketing is easier when you know The Formula

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Oh the pain, the pain

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If you ever watched the campy 1960’s TV series Lost in Space, you may recall one of Dr. Smith’s signature expressions.

If not, perhaps you recall the old Verizon TV commercials where the spokesman walked around town, speaking on the phone, repeatedly asking the other party, “Can you hear me now?”

What do these two have in common? Right, the pain.

The Verizon spots dramatized the biggest pain point for customers of other carriers, poor signal quality and dropped calls.

We all literally said, “Can you hear me now?” as we moved to find a better spot.

This demonstration set the stage for Verizon’s promise of better coverage and clearer signals, which landed them a lot of new customers.

In your marketing, you should do what Verizon did: market to the biggest frustration felt by your prospective clients.

Find your prospective client’s pain point, about their legal situation or their current attorney, and build your marketing message around this.

What makes them angry or keeps them up at night? What troubles them most about their legal issue? What is their biggest complaint about their current attorney?

Talk about that, and promise they won’t have that problem when they hire you.

Make the pain, and the relief you promise to deliver, specific to your practice area and market, because not everyone is frustrated by the same things. But if you need an idea, consider the nearly universal pain point for clients, “My lawyer never calls me back”.

Build your marketing around your prospective clients’ pain and promise to take away that pain. You can’t go wrong with that formula.

By the way, you may have noticed that the actor who portrayed the spokesman in the Verizon ads is now the spokesman for Sprint.

Oh the pain, the pain.

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How to use clickbait to instantly get dozens of new clients

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If you’re reading this, my evil plan is working. I wrote something that made you curious and you wanted to know more.

Despite the obvious clickbait-y headline.

But my point isn’t to use trickery to fool people into reading your message. It is to illustrate the power of curiosity for getting attention.

When it comes to marketing, copywriting legend Gary Halbert said curiosity is even more powerful than self-interest.

Done right, your reader or audience “has to” know more.

How do you arouse curiosity? How do you compel the reader to open your email, play your video, or read your article?

You do it, ironically, by hinting at something that plays to their self-interest.

Mention something they care about, need or want. Give them a taste of something that will help them avoid pain or achieve gain. Add a touch of specificity that let’s them know “this is for them”.

For extra oomph, hint at something that sounds impossible or too good to be true. Make the reader “torture” themselves trying to figure out how this is done.

Example? Sure. Let’s say you’re a personal injury attorney writing a post or ad that offers a free report about increasing the settlement value of a case. You could make prospective clients curious with a headline like this:

“Injured? Free report reveals 5 easy ways to increase the value of your case (and ONE common mistake that can destroy it)”

What are those 5 easy ways? What is the one common mistake? Yep, they have to read the report to find out.

Of course, when they read the report, you make them curious to know if they have a good case (and how much it’s worth).

Yep, they have to hire you to find out.

Want to get more referrals without asking for referrals? Here’s how

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The headline goes here

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I got a postcard in the mail, with this headline:

“The highest compliment we can receive is the referral of friends and family.”

Me: “I don’t know who you are or what you do and you’re talking about referrals?”

Into the trash. . .

But wait, I could use this as an example of really bad advertising, so. . . I keep reading. . .

Under the “headline” is a series of bullet points. See if you can figure out what this outfit does:

  • 9 Years in Business
  • 6 Months Federal Relief Program
  • Up to 60% Lower Payments
  • 4.7% Rating on Social Media
  • “A” Rating on BBB
  • Seriously Delinquent O.K.

Sounds like they do some kind of re-financing or workouts, but what do I know?

Next line: Visit Now [a website url that says nothing about the company or what they do]

Then: “Thank You for Your Trust, [Company Name].

And, finally, “Call Now” followed by a phone number.

And. . . that’s it.

So, no headline, no information, no benefits, no offer, no testimonials, no examples of before and after (e.g., lower payments). . . and no reason to keep this out of the trash.

Hold on, it’s a postcard. There has to be something on the back.

Ah, there it is. It says, “ARE YOU DROWNING IN STUDENT LOAN DEBT?”

Finally, something specific. A “sorting” question and a hint at a benefit. If you see this side of the postcard first and you have a lot of student debt, you might be interested enough to turn the card over to find out what this is all about.

But, when you do, you’re scratching your head, wondering what they do and why you should bother to call or visit.

To think, this company paid to have this printed and mailed. (I’m going to assume they DIDN’T pay a copywriter to write it.)

Anyway, if you want to know how to write an ad or directory listing, keep this handy and do the opposite of what they did. Or show it to your copywriter or agency and say, “Don’t do this.”

If you want a second opinion on your ad or sales copy, let me know

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The TRUTH about practicing law

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One of the simplest ways to get more people reading and sharing your posts, especially on social, is to make them controversial.

Challenge them, shock them, anger them–because everyone loves a good fight.

They most popular TV shows and online videos feature emotional content: anger and outrage, sex and love, pleasant surprises and massive disappointments.

People love conflict. And the algorithms promote posts and videos that feature it.

Platforms like Twitter have their entire business model built around people being angry at something. Or someone.

If you want to get more eyeballs and engagement and shares, write posts that “expose” the truth about something, including your practice area (especially your practice area).

Write about issues you know people disagree with, and tell them why YOU disagree with what other lawyers say or do: “Why I don’t agree with. . .” or “Why I don’t like/use/do. . .”

“Force” prospective clients who are searching for a lawyer to read your post with a title like, “Is [legal service] worth it?” or “What most [practice area] lawyers get wrong.”

Cruise through social media and record the titles of videos and posts that are being promoted or shared or that catch your eye, and adapt those titles and themes to your posts.

Throw some raw meat to the lions and watch them stick around for more.

There are more ways to attract and engage clients and prospects. In Email Marketing for Attorneys, I break these down and show you what to do.

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