Put yourself in the top 2%

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Have you ever been reading an email or a blog post and forgotten who wrote it?

That’s the 98%.

Most lawyers who create content fall into that category. Forgettable.

The 2% are the ones people notice and remember. They’re also the ones people buy from and tell their friends about.

The rest fade into the woodwork. Because they all look the same.

They talk about the same subjects, use the same examples, and measure the temperature of their message with the same thermometer, meaning they don’t let things get too hot or too cold.

How about you?

If you want to get noticed, remembered, and followed, if you want clients to hire you instead of another attorney, you need to be in the top 2%.

That means being different and there’s no easier way to do that than to create content that’s different.

Different subjects, different appearance, different style.

Especially style.

When other lawyers write stilted prose and you use a bit of color and personality, when other lawyers say what’s expected and you are a contrarian, when they write about boring topics in boring ways and your content is interesting. . .

It won’t take much for you to stand out.

How do you do this?

Make your content interesting and helpful. Infuse your content with human interest (stories), details from your professional and personal life, and strong opinions. Be different, tell them what they need to do, and why.

Don’t just deliver information, speak to your readers. And don’t hold back.

You know you’re doing it right when you write something or say something that scares you a little.You should feel a little heat in the pit of your stomach—as if you’ve gone too far or are doing something wrong.

When you feel that heat, it means you’re on the right track.

If you aren’t feeling that burn, you aren’t trying hard enough. And your audience will know it. And lump you in with 98%.

You will get feedback. Some readers will love what you’re doing and tell you they read you every day. Some will tell you’ve gone too far and leave you for gentler pastures. (Ask me how I know.)

None of that matters. All that matters is that:

  1. Your list is growing, and
  2. Your practice is growing

If those two numbers are moving in the right direction, stay the course.

It’s not easy to show your market that you’re better than the competition, but it is easy to show them you’re different.

And now you know a simple way to do that.

Email marketing for attorneys

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Tooting your horn when your horn needs tooting

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When you win a big case, get an award, or achieve an important milestone, don’t keep it a secret.

Tell people about that great testimonial or endorsement you received. Tell people about the results you obtained for a client.

Don’t hide your light under a bushel.

Tell you clients and prospects about your accomplishments, because they want to know they are dealing with a lawyer who knows what they’re doing. It validates their decision to hire you or send you referrals, or tips the balance in your favor if they haven’t yet taken that step.

Share your good news, especially if it suggests you’re growing–your new hires, new offices, new clients, new services or new practice areas.

When you write a (new) book, start a video channel, update your website, start a newsletter, or get invited to speak at a prestigious event, let everyone know.

It’s not bragging if it’s true.

And if it’s true, it can help you.

On the other hand, while your clients and business contacts like knowing they work with a lawyer who is smarter than the average bear, nobody really cares that much.

It’s nice, but they’re a lot more concerned about themselves.

So, toot your horn when your horn needs tooting, but don’t lay on the horn.

Because that can get annoying. Maybe even make some people jealous.

How much is too much tooting? I’d focus mostly on the big stuff, the stuff that moves the needle, and the stuff that directly benefits your clients and contacts.

Tell them about cases you win that make new law or receive a lot of press. Tell them about your new office, your new services, or the new content on your website.

But don’t ignore the review you got from a client who thanked you for being so supportive and working hard to help them. Or the new software you installed that makes things easier for you and your clients.

And when you toot, make sure you look good doing it.

Be brief, say you’re honored or thrilled, thank the people who need to be thanked, and move on.

Toot well, my friend.

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Why you should email often

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The other day, an entrepreneur I follow wrote and said he’s emailing daily again. He says it’s easier to email daily than to remind himself to do it occasionally.

Some readers might be turned off by a daily email, he acknowledges, but he feels it is the best way to connect and stay top-of-mind.

“I like to think of my emails like a little television show, where readers want to tune-in to see what happens next,” he says.

He also pointed out that writing daily provides him with a lot of content he can use elsewhere–on social media, in reports and handouts, blog posts and books.

Needless to say, I agree with all of the above. These are some of the reasons why I now write every week day, and why I recommend emailing at least once a week.

Not everyone will open all of your emails, and that’s fine. They regularly see your name and remember who you are and what you do. When they need a lawyer, they can quickly find your contact information or the link to your site in their inbox.

Contrast that with lawyers who only write once in awhile.

People don’t remember their name or that they signed up for their newsletter and typically let everything go to spam.

These lawyers are the ones who say, “I tried email but it didn’t work.”

Take it from me and my entrepreneur friend, email works. And emailing frequently works even better.

How to use email to get more clients and build your practice

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‘Til your daddy takes your T-Bird away

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I’m guilty of this myself. Too much information in my articles and posts. Telling you what and how, why and when. Giving you bullet points and instructions, telling you what to do and how to do it.

There’s nothing wrong with the how-to’s, of course. It’s just that there are other things to talk about.

Suppose you and I were buds. We get together for to hang out, shoot the shite, bring each other up to speed on what’s going on.

We have a few adult beverages and share a few laughs. In other words, we have some fun.

Why can’t we do that online?

We can and we should.

When we write a blog post or article, when we record a video or podcast, when we post on social media, we don’t have to be “all business, all the time.”

That doesn’t mean being unprofessional or always going for the laugh. It means letting down our hair, speaking or writing informally, and sharing information and ideas that aren’t strictly law-related.

If you had an interesting day, tell people about it. If your son or daughter tells you something funny that happened in school, share it. If your neighbor charges his Tesla at night and you can hear that annoying electric hum through the wall of your house and it drives you crazy, mention it–like I just did about my neighbor.

We can also have fun playing with language. One way is to use phrases your readers don’t expect you to use. You feel me? Are you picking up what I’m laying down?

You know, fun.

Now, you may be wondering, why. Why should we put fun in our writing or speaking, or for those of us who do it already, why should we do it more?

Because our readers want us to.

They want to see our human side. They want us to make them smile. They want to have more fun, and and they don’t want us to give them homework every time they hear from us.

Yes, we should teach our readers something. But we can do that and also entertain them for the few minutes it takes for them to read what we write.

It’s called infotainment. A friend of mine describes it as “Education wrapped in candy.”

Give your readers their peas and carrots but also give them dessert.

You may find it difficult to do this, to loosen up in front of an audience who is used to you being straight. But you can do it (it just takes practice) and when you do, you’ll be glad you did.

You’ll enjoy writing more. You’ll get more replies and engagement from your readers. You’ll build a following instead of just a list of people who consume your content.

Which means you’ll also get more business.

Start slowly. Add a sprinkle of lighter material here and there. One way you could do that is to make your usual (boring) legal point and then use a colorful analogy or story to illustrate it.

A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down.

Give it a try. You might find you’re good at it. You might enjoy it immensely. It might give new life to your writing and speaking.

One thing’s for sure. Your subscribers will love it.

They’ll look forward to your next post or email or presentation, and they’ll tell their friends about you, because you’re not like all those other (boring) lawyers.

Email Marketing for Attorneys

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How to fool everyone into thinking you’re smarter than you really are

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Attorney Lowell Steiger tells me he is “impressed by the fact that you come up with something new every single day”. He says my newsletter is useful and helpful, and dubs me a marketing guru who generously helps “people like me, the less talented.”

Poppycock. (I’ve been wanting to use that word for awhile now, so thanks for giving me the opportunity.)

The thing is, while I know a thing or two about a thing or two, I am not any smarter or more talented than the average bear.

Including Lowell, who I happen to know really is smarter than the average bear, and a very good writer to boot.

Anyway, most of what I write comes from subjects that interest me. I read a lot and share the ideas I find and what I think about them. I tell you about my experiences and give you my opinion about things I like and things that drive me crazy.

You could do that, too.

Trust me, if you want to write (or speak) and use that to build your practice via a newsletter or podcast or blog, you can. You know enough and have done enough, in your practice or business or personal life, to provide you with a library of material.

So stop telling yourself you don’t have anything to say. That’s a one-way ticket to Palookaville.

You also know how to write. If you’re not yet where you think you need to be on the write-o-meter, you can get there. Just keep writing (or speaking). Before you can say Joker Joker Joker, you’ll win the big prize.

What should you write about? Well, what did you do yesterday?

This week, I told you about a conversation I had with my accountant and a visit to the eye doctor. Next week, I’ll probably tell you about my gardener (again), and something he did or didn’t do. And here I am, telling you about someone who thinks I’m the bee’s knees in the marketing world, confessing to you that I’m not.

Hardly brilliant stuff. But I make it interesting, and that’s the key. It’s the one thing you need to get good at if you want people to read your stuff and keep reading it until they need your help or talk to someone they can refer.

The easy way to do that? Talk about things you know your reader is already interested in. To do that, you have to know your reader.

When you do, you know what they think about, what they want and don’t want, what they fear and what they covet.

Talk about those things. Or at least think about those things while you write about other things.

I know lawyers. It’s easy for me to talk about what’s in your head because it’s in my head, too. If I had a different market, if I was writing to physicians or engineers or real estate pros, I would research that market, to find out what they know and how they think.

I’d read what they read, listen to the speakers they listen to, talk to centers of influence in their market, and get to know what makes them tick.

That’s the easy part. But you have to do it.

The hard part, the part many lawyers have trouble with, is coming down from the ivory tower we tend to inhabit.

If you want to win friends and influence clients, you have to be yourself. Not your lawyer-self. Your human self, warts and all.

You have talk to folks, not at them. Have a conversation, not deliver a lecture or submit a brief.

You can’t connect with people by being aloof and professional and unapproachable. Just talk, like you would if they were sitting next to them having a beer or a cup of coffee.

That doesn’t mean you have to be unprofessional. Just human.

I know, I know, I get away with murder because I’m writing to you, a colleague. We’re comrades, made from the same cloth, brothers and sisters, friends with benefits. . . uh, well, you know what I mean.

When you’re a lawyer writing to clients and prospects, you can’t have a potty mouth or joke about whatever comes into your head. You need to be more decorous, so they don’t think you’re too weird to be their lawyer.

But this is only a matter of degree.

I can write “friends with benefits” and get away with you. You (probably) can’t. But you can still connect with people, by using a lighter touch, writing plainly and directly, and by not trying to impress anyone.

Don’t be the stuffy professor that puts everyone to sleep, be the cool teacher who’s smart and funny and tells great stories and makes learning fun.

Are you picking up on what I’m laying down?

One more thing.

Stop saying you don’t have time to do this. You do.

You don’t need to write every day. Once a week is great. Invest an hour writing something and sending it to the people who pay for your groceries and rent. The people who know, like, and trust you, or soon will.

Keep doing that, have fun with it, and one day, someone will call you a guru.

How to write a kickass newsletter that pays your mortgage

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Captain obvious

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When I was fresh out of law school, I volunteered time at a legal clinic, speaking to indigent people, mostly about family law matters. At the time, I didn’t know squat from shinola about restraining orders.

Fortunately, the clients did.

They’d talked to friends and other people who were similarly situated. They knew what forms to file and what they would need to prove. Usually, they just needed help cleaning up their declaration.

From that day forward, I always assumed my clients and prospective clients knew more than I might think.

You should, too.

Listen to what they tell you or ask you. You’ll be able to do a better job for them when you know what they know.

On the other hand, when you write a newsletter or article or blog post, when you post something on social media, you don’t know how much your readers know.

You have to assume they know nothing, and cover the basics, even if you’ve covered them before.

You probably know much of what I share with you, because you’ve heard it before or you have personal experience with the subject.

Or because it’s just common sense.

And that’s okay. What I share with you, what you share with your readers, doesn’t have to be “news”.

Often, we write to remind our readers to do what they already know, because knowing isn’t the same as doing. Or we show them other ways or better ways to do it.

You surely know the value of staying in touch with your clients and contacts, for example, but do you do it as often as you should? Hearing me talk about it (again) might catch you at just the right time when you needed to hear it and prompt you to get back on track.

You certainly know the value of referrals, and I know you want more of them, but you might not be comfortable asking clients for referrals, until you read about a way to “ask” without speaking to them.

We remind our readers about what they already know, show them different ways to do what they know they should do, and inspire them to do it with our examples and stories.

Share new ideas when you get them. But never hesitate to share old ideas, or assume your readers already know them.

How to get referrals from your clients without asking

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The easiest (and quickest) type of article or post you can write

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When you’re in a hurry and you need to crank out a blog post, a newsletter article, a social media post, or any other type of content to be consumed by others, one of the easiest (and quickest) types of post to write is a “list” post.

  • !0 Ways to (do something)
  • 3 Reasons (something doesn’t work),
  • 7 Steps to (getting a specific result)
  • 5 Things I tell all my clients about (something)
  • 4 Places to Find (information, people, forms)

Yeah, a list.

Write the list, add an intro and a closing comment or call to action, and you’re done.

Readers enjoy these types of articles because they can read them quickly, they’re easy to understand, and if some of the items on your list don’t apply to them or resonate with them, something else might.

These are easy to write because it’s just a list. Each item is a sentence or two. Or, go crazy and write 3.

Where do you get items to include in the list?

You can start with this short “article” I just wrote to answer your question:

5 Places to Find Ideas For Your Blog Post or Newsletter Article

  • From articles you’ve saved in an “ideas” folder
  • From your old articles and posts. Find something you wrote two years ago and reuse part of it
  • From presentations, videos, or podcasts, you’ve consumed (including CLE)
  • From websites or newsletters dedicated to clients and advisors in your niche market
  • From memory. Interesting clients, strange cases, funny answers in depos, things you tell clients to do or avoid

Just about anywhere.

So, here’s my challenge to you. Take ten minutes right now and outline a list article, AKA a “Listicle”.

You’ll thank me later.

For more article ideas, see my Email Marketing for Attorneys course

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Promoting your services: how often, how much?

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If every time a client or prospect hears from you you promote your services, will you turn them off? Will they no longer like and trust you? Will they write you off as another one of those potatoes?

It depends.

If you’re a broken record, constantly playing the same tune, constantly telling them to buy and making them feel guilty or stupid or at risk if they don’t, they’re going to tune you out.

We’ve all been on those lists. And left them.

Some “experts” say, “don’t promote, educate”. That’s just silly. You can do both.

You can and you should.

You never know when someone reading your words will need your services. You never know when they’ll be ready to take the next step. You never know when someone they know will (desperately) need your help.

So don’t stop reminding people about what you do.

But mix it up.

Teach them something, share something helpful or interesting, or have some fun with them, and also promote something.

Every time.

I promote something in just about every email and blog post. Usually, it’s just a descriptive sentence and a link. You can follow that link to look at what I have for you or you can move along. Other times, particularly when I launch something new or I’m running a promotion, you’ll get more. Sometimes, a lot more.

And that’s okay. That’s our deal. I write, you read, sometimes you buy something or hire me, sometimes you don’t.

But I’ll never stop telling you about what I offer, and neither should you with your clients and prospects.

You’re doing them a favor when you tell them and a disservice when you don’t.

And let’s face it. The people on your list expect you to do it. They know the deal.

If you’re smart about how you do it, most people won’t reject you, even if they don’t need what you offer.

They’ll stick around until they do.

How to use a newsletter to build your practice

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You have one chance

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Last week, I watched a few videos about some software I’m using. I liked what the guy was saying and wanted to know more about how he used the software. During the video, he said he had a newsletter and if you sign up, he’ll send you his template and other goodies that show you his entire setup.

“I want that,” I said to myself, found his website and signed up.

Note, he didn’t tell us the web address. I searched his name and found it. Not difficult but an extra step. If you want to build your list, make it easy for people to find you. But hey, he’s a tech guy and didn’t ask for my opinion.

After I signed up, the system told me my subscription went through. I went to my email inbox, eager to retrieve the template, but no fruit cup. (Let me know if you know where that’s from.)

Anyway, there was no email from the guy, and of course, no template.

No bueno.

The next day, I did get a welcome email, but there was no mention of the template.

The heck?

Usually, I would blow it off and move on. But I really wanted what he offered so I replied to his email and politely asked for the template.

As of this morning, I haven’t heard back from him. Doesn’t mean he’s not going to reply, but so far, I’m not impressed.

Some lessons:

  1. If you want people to sign up, make it easy for them to get to your signup page.
  2. Always send a welcome message, and send it immediately. Don’t make them wait, even a day. Don’t make them wonder if or when they’re going to hear (something) from you.
  3. You’ll get more subscribers if you offer an incentive. I signed up for this guy’s list because I wanted his offer. I wouldn’t have done so without that.
  4. Keep your promises. Send a link to download the incentive, either in the welcome message or immediately thereafter. Don’t make them wait or wonder if you’re a flake. Do let them see you’re on top of things.

Look at it from the prospective client’s (subscriber’s) point of view. Assume it’s their first time finding you, they have a painful legal problem and need an attorney yesterday, they’re looking at other attorney’s websites, but don’t know who to trust or who to choose.

Don’t give them any reason to choose someone else.

How to write a simple but effective welcome message

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A simple idea for your next newsletter or blog post

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Your clients and prospects see lawyers at work on TV and in the movies and think this is a realistic depiction of what lawyers do. They might be a bit disappointed to learn that our work isn’t glamorous and problems don’t get solved in 42 minutes, but they are curious about what lawyers do.

If you’re looking for ideas to write about in your newsletter or blog, educate your readers about the “legal industry” and what you do in your practice.

Here are a few idea to stimulate that big brain of yours:

  • What a typical day looks like for me
  • How I get new clients
  • Why I advertise/don’t advertise
  • How Zoom meetings have changed my practice
  • The software tools I use every day
  • Top ten questions I get from prospective clients
  • How I decide to take a case (and what I do if I don’t)
  • Legal fees, costs, and retainers, oh my
  • Why some lawyers earn more than others
  • Malpractice: what is it and what lawyers do to avoid it
  • Questions I ask prospective clients before I take their case
  • What I tell new clients before I start working on their case
  • What I’ll tell you if you ask me, “How much is my case worth?”
  • How often do I need to update my [business/estate documents?]
  • Phone, mail, email, or text: how I communicate with my clients
  • Why I (usually) love what I do (and when I don’t)

Articles like these are quick to write, give people interesting and helpful information about a subject that interests them, and helps them appreciate what you do. When someone is looking for a lawyer, this is precisely the kind of information that can help them decide to choose you.

Tell people about your work. Even if it’s not glamorous.

Email Marketing for Attorneys

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