Lie, cheat, and steal your way to success


It’s corny but true. You can (and should) lie, cheat, and steal your way to success.

Lie in bed at night thinking about what you can do the next day to get more clients and increase your income.

Cheat some time during the day from your other activities and dedicate it to marketing.

Steal the best ideas from other lawyers, and especially from businesses since most lawyers are terrible marketers.

Solid advice because it gets you to focus on marketing and primes you to continually look for ideas you can steal, well, borrow from others.

Let’s talk about that.

We’re talking about finding what others are doing that’s working and emulating it. Using the essence but not the actual words. Modifying what others are doing to suit your practice, market, and style.

Start here: :

  • Set up a swipe file to collect emails, articles, ads, blog posts, and such, that other people are using to promote their practice or business.
  • Subscribe to other lawyers’ email lists and blogs. Do the same for other types of professionals and service businesses.  Copy things you like and also things you don’t like (so you’ll know what to avoid).
  • Study the emails, etc., you like and ask yourself why you liked them. Make notes. Try your hand at writing it differently.
  • With each new email, ad, video, or piece of content, ask yourself why you opened it or why you watched it. What words or images caught your attention?
  • Once you began, what compelled you to continue? What did they promise or imply? What benefits did they offer? How did they get you to read all the way to the end?
  • Pay extra attention to headlines, sub-heads, email subjects and bullet points. Also note calls-to-action. You may not know why they are effective but if they resonate with you, put them in your swipe file and review them again later.
  • Did you buy what they offered? If so, why? If not, why not? What closed the deal for you? What objections did they overcome? Where did they miss the boat?

Go back through your swipe file periodically and ask yourself what you could use or adapt. What ideas, what offers, what words could you use in your marketing?

Keep reading and watching and studying. Train your marketing eye. Study the content and conversations around you, not with the eye of a consumer or colleague but with the eye of a marketer.

You would be amazed at what you can learn, and what you can steal.

Marketing is easy when you know The Formula


Tell ’em why if you want ’em to buy


Years ago, I read Helter Skelter by Vincent Bugliosi, the lead prosecutor in the case against Charles Manson. Bugliosi presented the timeline and documented the evidence in the case in meticulous detail.

But he didn’t just describe the facts and the evidence. He explained why it mattered. He put everything together into a masterfully persuasive account, as though he was again presenting the case to the jury.

I remember thinking, “nobody who reads this would have any doubts about what happened, or the correctness of the verdicts”.

That’s what we expect of a prosecutor doing his job. It’s also what we expect lawyers to do when advising their clients.

When you tell your clients what you recommend, you must tell them why.

It may be obvious to you, but it isn’t necessarily obvious to the client. Even when it is, telling them the facts and arguments you considered helps them to see why they should follow your advice.

I’m sure you do this (most of the time). You’re not like my father who sometimes grew tired of my relentless “why” questions and said, “Because I said so!” (Wait, your dad did that too?)

Anyway, I’m sure you tell clients why they should follow your advice, but do you do that in your marketing?

I’ve seen too many ads, blog posts, articles, videos, emails, presentations, and so on, where the lawyer doesn’t tell people what to do (call, email, fill out a form, etc.), or if they do, they don’t tell them why.

Tell people why they should call, download your report, or subscribe to your newsletter. Tell them why they need a lawyer, why they should choose you, and why they shouldn’t wait.

If you want to get more clients, tell people what to do. And why.

Marketing is easier when you know the formula


The simplest way to persuade people


Yesterday, I said that the goal of your professional writing is to persuade people to do something and that you should decide what that is before you write. Knowing what you want them to do allows you to tailor your writing to your call to action.

If you want readers to download your free report, for example, you might use some of the content of that report in your post, leaving the reader hungry to hear more.

One of the simplest ways to persuade people is through repetition. Tell them what to do in the body of the text and again at the end. The more often they hear what to do, the more likely they are to do it.

You can also use repetition by writing more frequently. Instead of long emails once a month, for example, write short emails once a week.Each message is another opportunity to tell them what to do.

You’ll notice that my emails are relatively short. That’s intentional. I want you to read my email as soon as you get it. I know that if you save it for later, you might never get around to it, and that doesn’t help either one of us.

Shorter pieces are also easier and quicker to write. Instead of spending three hours crafting a comprehensive article, you can take 15 minutes to write a few paragraphs and get it out the door.

Longer pieces certainly have their place. The sales letter for my first referral course was 32 pages. But I wouldn’t expect you to read that much every day.

If you want to persuade more people, write shorter emails and send them more often. You’ll have that many more opportunities to tell people to do what to do.

Get more referrals with less effort. Here’s how


Use ‘before and after’ photos to sell more legal services


In our community, mailboxes are uniformly displayed on wooden posts, four boxes to a post. After nearly twenty-five years, our post was looking shabby. My neighbors and I chipped in and hired a guy to repair and paint the post and replace the mailboxes.

He did a great job and we’ve recommended him to some of our other neighbors.

On a recent walk through the neighborhood, I saw some mailboxes that could use his services and I thought about what he might do to get more work. One thing he could do is create a flyer with before and after photos of his work. Those photos tell most of the story. “If your mailbox looks like this [before] and you want it to look like this [after], give me a call.”

How can you use this idea to sell more legal services?

No, not by taking photos of your clients. By using word pictures to describe their situation before and after they hired you.

On your website and in your marketing materials, describe how some clients “looked” when they first came to you, and how they looked at the end of the case or matter.

If you handle divorce, for example, you would describe your client’s marriage situation in sufficient detail to let prospective clients “see” it. Include the facts, the legal issues, the emotional turmoil, and what was at stake.

Follow that with a word picture of the client’s situation after you worked your magic.

It’s storytelling, pure and simple, something you should be doing in most of your writing but especially in your marketing documents.

Facts tell but stories sell.

The best stories are dramatic, of course, but with a little effort, you can inject some drama into even the most mundane or routine legal matters.

Give it a try. Think about a recent client and describe their before picture. What did they want or need and why? What was at stake? What did they fear? What might have happened if they didn’t hire you?

Then, describe the after picture. Resolution. Protection. Compensation. Peace of mind.

Before and after. Photos or word pictures. It’s the same formula. It works for marketing mailbox repairs and legal services.

Marketing is easier when you know The Formula


Fake news, fake reviews–does anyone really care?


I know you’re honest and only speak (and publish) the truth. You don’t fudge numbers, embellish facts, or exaggerate results.

At least not intentionally.

But guess what? All of your efforts to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth may be for naught if the truth you tell doesn’t appear to be true.

There’s even a word for it: verisimilitude, meaning “the appearance of truth”. When it comes to marketing, appearance is everything.

I’ve seen a lot of new books lately, by unknown authors, that have 40 four- or five-star reviews within a few days of publication. It doesn’t take a genius to see that these reviews are predominately fake, written by paid reviewers who haven’t read the book.

But even if every one of these reviews were real and honestly earned, many would doubt their veracity because there are too many, too fast and because they seem too good to be true.

Lesson: don’t fear negative reviews. If you’re getting mostly positive reviews for your practice (or books), the occasional less-than-positive review actually helps you because it makes the sum of your reviews more believable.

Lesson: look at your presentations and written materials with the eye of a prospective client. If something looks too good to be true, you need to do something about it. If you’re reporting great results in a case, for example, explain why and how you got those results (and that they aren’t typical).

In the short term, fake reviews can work. Just like fake news, they’ll fool enough people to get some short term results. In the long run, however, the truth–or the lack of verisimilitude–catches up with them.

How to write content that brings in more clients



Decide what you want before writing the first word


You’re preparing a presentation. An email. A blog post, article, or report. Whatever it is, the best place to start is at the end.

Before you write the first word, think about what you want your reader to do.

When they are done reading your email or watching your video, what do you want them to do next?


  • Call to schedule an appointment
  • Call or email with questions
  • Visit a web page for more information
  • Sign up for your email newsletter or download your report
  • Fill out a form and turn it in at the end of the seminar
  • Tell your friends about this offer, article, or link
  • Register for the upcoming webinar
  • Pass out the enclosed referral cards
  • Watch a video
  • Comment, Like, and share
  • Tell your friends to call, subscribe, or download
  • Write a review on xyz

And so on.

All designed to get your reader or viewer to do something that helps you to get more clients, subscribers, traffic, referrals, or other benefits.

They get benefits, too. They learn something, get legal help, save money, or protect their family or business. Or they get the satisfaction of helping their friends or helping you.

Both of you get something.

The call to action at the end of your message is the most important part of that message. Think about what you want them to do before you start writing.

When you get to the end, tell them what to do. Don’t make them figure out what to do next. Tell them: Click here, call this number, go to this web page.

And tell them why. Don’t assume they know. Don’t be vague. Spell out exactly what they get or how they benefit.

Like this: “To learn how to easily get more referrals from your clients, get this


Tell them what to do NEXT


You run an ad. Write an article. Or give a talk. Whatever you do to push your name and message out into the world or into the hands of a prospective client, at the end, you should tell them what to do next.

Eventually, you want them to hire you. But it’s usually too early to tell them to do that.

If they’re sitting in the office with you after a free consultation and they need your services, yeah, tell them to “sign here”. Hiring you is the next step. The next step at the end of a presentation, article, email, or when you hand someone your business card, however, is different.

The next step might be to visit a webpage to get more information, access your report, fill out a form, sign up for your webinar, or subscribe to your newsletter. Or it might be to call your office to ask questions or to make an appointment. Whatever it is, that’s what you should tell them to do.

The right “call to action” will depend on:

  • The nature of their problem or objective
  • Their level of sophistication
  • Whether they already know and trust you/hired you before
  • What else they’ve read or heard from you or about you
  • Your offer or offers
  • And other factors

But it’s usually not “sign here”.

How do you know what’s best? You try different calls to action and track responses. You test and re-test to find which one brings the best response.

“Call for an appointment” vs. “Visit this page for more information”. “Download my free report” vs. “Download my free planning kit”. “Call my office to schedule a free consultation” vs. “Call my office for a free phone consultation”.

You can also offer more than one call to action to accommodate those who are further along in the buying process, that is, closer to making a hiring decision: “Call to schedule a free consultation” and “Visit this page to learn more about your rights”.

Tell people what to do next and you’ll get more people taking the next step.

How to talk to people about referrals


Selling ice to eskimos


I took a speech class in college. When it was time to deliver my presentation, I talked about insurance and retirement planning. Yep, to a bunch of 18-year olds.

A friend was selling insurance and provided me with information I could use in the presentation. I made the case for buying insurance when you’re young and the insurance is cheap. I told them I had purchased a policy for that reason and encouraged them to do the same. I offered to introduce them to my friend who could tell them more.

As you might have guessed, despite doing a good presentation (according to my teacher), there were no takers.

I had a good message (arguably) but delivered it to the wrong audience.

If my audience had been a group of newly married young people or young couples who had just had a child, I might have gotten better results.

There are many elements that go into crafting a marketing message but none is more important than your audience. If your audience doesn’t have the legal problem you’re talking about, for example, and believes they are unlikely to ever have it, your message will fall on deaf ears.

A well-crafted message with a crazy-good offer heard by the wrong audience will fail. A mediocre message and offer delivered to the right audience, however, might do just fine.

Before you do any presentation, write a blog post or article, record a video, send mail or email to a list, or run an ad, the first question you must ask is, “Who is the audience?”

If you have the wrong audience for your message, you either need to change the audience or change the message.

If you’re a personal injury lawyer and you’re addressing a group of people who have never been in an accident, don’t talk to them about how to get the highest settlement, talk to them about what to do when they do have an accident.

Sales people pre-qualify prospects and leads before talking to them, and you should, too. Find out if your audience needs what you’re selling and if they can afford to buy it. If they don’t need it or can’t afford it, go talk to someone else.

Get your website to pre-sell your services to visitors. Click here


Um, could you be more specific?


I got an email today that had a link to an article with this headline: “Don’t make these 5 common legal mistakes”.

Not bad. It makes the reader want to know what those mistakes are so they can see if they’re making them. It appeals to curiosity and promises a benefit. It also invokes fear because if these are common mistakes, there’s a good chance, the reader thinks, that they’re making one of them, and because these are legal mistakes, they could cause serious grief and financial loss.

But while this is a good headline, it’s not good enough. Not today, anyway.

Most consumer and general business publications have this type of article and your reader has lots of other pressing things on his or her mind.

So no click.

The headline isn’t good enough because it’s not specific enough.

Let’s say I’m a good prospect for your practice and you wrote this article. If your headline promised to show me, “5 common mistakes made by California homeowners,” I might lean towards clicking because I am a California homeowner. Your article might earn my attention because it is obviously targeted to me, rather than “everyone”.

But it could be even more specific, and thus almost irresistible. If it promised to reveal “5 common mistakes made by California homeowners when filing their tax returns,” since that’s on my mind right now, I would almost have to read your article.

My point is that most headlines (email subjects, etc.) aren’t specific enough to cut through the morass of messages that come across everyone’s field of vision on a daily basis. Specifics will almost always get you more clicks and eyeballs.

It’s true that the more specific you are, the more you will appeal to a smaller number of possible readers, but that’s the point. The readers you do appeal to will be more likely to respond.

I’d rather have ten people read my article than 100 who thought about it but didn’t. I’d rather have five people who would make a good client for my practice read my article than 50 people who wouldn’t.

So, with all things marketing, as with all things legal, your challenge is to find the sweet spot so you can maximize your results.

You don’t need (or want) to appeal to “everyone”. You want to appeal to your ideal client, and you want him or her to immediately understand that that’s exactly what you’re doing. To do that, you have to be willing to give up everyone else.

This will help you identify your ideal client


If Goldilocks handled your law firm marketing


Is your porridge too hot? Do you give prospective clients too much information on your website or in your other marketing materials?

Probably not. If you’re like most lawyers, your porridge is too cold. Your give them too little. Prospective clients can see what you do and where you are located, but not much more.

If Goldilocks handled your law firm marketing, she would tell you that you have to get your porridge just right.

How much information is “just right”? More than you think. When someone goes online to find an attorney it’s because they have a problem and they want information about their problem and the available solutions before they will consider you for the job.

Don’t just list your practice areas and services. That’s not enough. That’s too cold.

Teach people about the law and procedure. Discuss the risks and the options. Tell them about other people who have had these problems and, with your help, overcame them. Tell them about people who waited too long or made the wrong decisions and made things worse.

But don’t expect them to wade through too much information and understand how it all fits together. That’s too hot.

You need to give people enough information so they can see how you can help them, and make it compelling enough to motivate them to take the next step.

You have to capture their attention with provocative and benefit-rich headlines. You have to keep them reading with a narrative thread that speaks to their emotions and shows them that you understand their pain. You have to tell them that you can help them, like you have helped others. And you have to tell them what to do next.

But don’t explain everything. You want to make them curious enough to contact you. Don’t get too specific about fees on your website, for example. Give them guidelines, perhaps, but make them call to find out more.

So that’s the challenge. That’s the art of marketing. And porridge making. Not too hot, not too cold. . . just right.

Learn how to make your online law firm marketing just right: click here