Marketing fundamentals for attorneys


There are lots of ways to market legal services but (news flash) you don’t have to do all of them. A few basics are all you need to build a successful practice and if I were you, that’s what I would focus on.

You can do more, but wouldn’t it be nice if you didn’t have to? 

Okay, what are the fundamentals I’m talking about? 

  1. Repeat business. Serve your clients well, make sure they know about all the services and benefits you offer, and stay in touch with them before, during, and after their current case or matter. 
  2. Referrals. Teach your clients and professional contacts how they benefit when they refer others to you and the easiest and best way(s) to do that. You can ask for referrals, but it’s usually easier (for you) to mention that a case or client you’re talking about (in your newsletter, for example) was referred to you and how much you appreciate your client or colleague for doing that. 
  3. Third party validation. Make sure your clients, prospects, and professional contacts see the benefits other clients got by hiring you. Gather reviews, testimonials, endorsements, and success stories, and feature them in all of your marketing content.  
  4. Build relationships. All of your clients and professional contacts should hear from you regularly, via your newsletter, holiday message, or personal email. Spend personal time (in person or on the phone) with your best clients, referral sources, and closest professional contacts. 
  5. Lead generation, not branding. If you do any advertising, direct mail, networking, writing, speaking, blogging, or any other marketing to the “cold market,” i.e., people you don’t know), don’t make it “one shot”—capture their email, stay in touch with them, tell them more about what you do and how you can help them (and people they know), and never stop doing that. 

The key to building a successful practice is maximizing the lifetime value of your clients, and these fundamentals are how you do that. 

The Attorney Marketing Formula


Sorry, I don’t want to smack that bell


Everywhere we turn, somebody is telling us to do something. Fill out a form, download a pdf, watch a video, like, comment, share, subscribe. 

It’s annoying, but it works. We’re more likely to click something when we’re asked to do it.

Which is why everyone asks. And why you should too. 

If you want more subscribers, ask (tell) people to subscribe. You’ll get more subscribers. If you want more clients, tell people to call for an appointment. You’ll get more calls. And clients. 

You’re reminding them to do something that’s good for them. The more you ask or remind them, the better off they’ll be. So don’t feel guilty about asking. They’ll thank you later, after you’ve helped them solve their problem.

Ultimately, people do what they want to do. I do that; you do that. It doesn’t matter how many times I tell you to do something or buy something, you won’t do it—unless you want to. I can’t make you do it, just as you can’t make a prospective client write you a big check. 

But while we can’t compel people to do things, we can make it more likely that they will. 

The simplest way to do that is to tell them why. Give them one or more reasons or benefits for doing what you ask. Tell them what’s in it for them. Because they might not know. They might not remember. They might not have wanted or needed those benefits before, but now they do.

This doesn’t mean you have to pile on the benefits. You don’t have to smother them with extras and bonuses, or go to great lengths to persuade them to do what you ask. People like helping you. They like telling others about you and what you offer. It makes them feel good about themself to do that.  

Which is why many people will do what you ask simply because you ask.

But more will do it if you tell them why.

The Attorney Marketing Formula


A proven way to get more newsletter subscribers and seminar attendees


The theory is that people sign up for your newsletter or attend your seminar or other event because they want to learn your wisdom, ideas, and advice. Or they want to know more about what you do and how you can help them. 

That’s the theory but, unfortunately, they don’t always take the time to do that. That’s why most professionals who write a newsletter or conduct seminars, etc., offer an incentive or bonus, aka “lead magnet” to entice more people to sign-up. 

And it works. In fact, more often than you might think, people sign up primarily (or solely) to get the bonus.  

But only if they believe that said bonus offers sufficient value in return for giving you their email. 

And so, if you want more sign-ups, make sure you create an effective lead magnet. 

How do you do that? You work just as hard (or harder) on the report or other bonus as you do on your newsletter or event. 

Because if they don’t sign up, it won’t matter how good your newsletter or seminar might be, prospects won’t see or hear it. 

The key to an effective lead magnet is the headline or title. It must instantly get the reader’s attention and persuade them to read or listen. Tell them what they will learn or get or be able to do as a result of reading or consuming the report.

Your report should help them solve a (painful) problem, one they know they have and want to get rid of. Or it should help them achieve a meaningful objective they ardently desire. 

Something they want or something they need. 

Ideally, your description of the report should say or imply that they can’t (easily) get this information anywhere else. One way to do that is to point out that your report is based on your years of experience working with clients with the same problems or desires as your reader, or it is a form or checklist you use regularly in your practice. 

The length of the report isn’t important. As long as it does what it says it does, and is something the reader wants or needs, you’ll get more sign ups. But since the ultimate goal is to get more clients, consider giving them a lot of high quality information. 

The more value, the better. 

You want them to think, “If she provides this much value in a free report, she must truly know what she’s doing and can afford to be this generous. I can’t wait to see how much value she gives paying clients.”

This gives you great posture—and a lot more sign-ups. 

How to create an effective newsletter, get more subscribers and more clients


Use leverage to get bigger, faster 


There are a lot of ways to grow your practice. Most involve improving and expanding what you’re already doing. 

Things like: 

  • Improving your SEO
  • Getting more sign-ups for your seminars
  • Getting more subscribers for your newsletter
  • Creating better content or ads
  • Learning how to better use LinkedIn (etc.) 
  • Converting more leads and prospects to clients
  • Getting more repeat business and referrals
  • Promoting your podcast, blog, newsletter, or channel
  • Getting more social media followers
  • Improving your networking or speaking skills
  • And so on

These are all worth considering. Each can help you grow your practice. But that growth is unlikely to be more than “incremental,” meaning single digit. 

That’s not bad, especially if you continue to do them and allow your results to compound. But if you’re looking to do something bigger or quicker, such as doubling or tripling your revenue this year, you should focus on strategies that can create that kind of result. 

One of the best, most leveraged methods for doing that is setting up strategic alliances with other professionals and businesses that sell to or serve your target markets. 

In short, you form a relationship with another lawyer or business professional, they endorse or recommend you and your services to their customers or clients, subscribers or followers, and you do the same for them. 

Because their clients trust them, their recommendations can quickly result in a large number of new clients for you. You don’t have to invest a lot of time or create new infrastructure. Your job is to identify suitable candidates, connect with them and propose an alliance. 

To start, that alliance can be as simple as mentioning each other’s upcoming event or recommending each other’s blog or podcast. As you get to know each other better, this might evolve into full-throated endorsements and referrals. 

You don’t need dozens of strategic alliances partners to make this a very profitable undertaking for you; you only need a few.

To learn how to do this, see my course on Lawyer-to-Lawyer Referrals


If they snooze, you lose


For writing “content” (blog posts, articles, presentations, etc.) many lawyers struggle to get results for one simple reason–they write like lawyers, meaning they write like they were taught in law school. 

The inverted pyramid, IRAC, et al., are fine when you’re writing something “for people who are paid to read it,” as the author of an article I read recently put it.  

Your clients and prospects certainly aren’t. 

Your content needs to have helpful information, the kinds of things prospective clients look for when they’re searching online, but if it has to be interesting. If you write it the way they taught you in law school, you risk boring people into clicking away. 

Structurally, capture their attention with a good headline or opening and keep their attention by continuing to write about things that interest them. 

Here’s how to get better at doing that:

  1. Read a lot. Read the kinds of things your audience reads. Look at the subjects, the structure, and the pacing of the information. See how they capture attention with a good headline or opening and use sub-heads and/or bullet points to draw the reader into the article and through it. 
  2. Write a lot. Practice and you will improve.
  3. Edit a lot. Your first draft is usually not your best draft. Shorten sentences and paragraphs, use active verbs (and active voice) and make sure everything is clear. If you write about anything “legal,” explain the terms and provide context.
  4. Put people in your articles. Talk about their desires, their problems, their pain, and the solutions they seek, and how things turned out (with your help). 
  5. Have fun (if appropriate). Give readers something to smile about, nod their head about, think about, and remember. 
  6. Tell them what to do next. Don’t leave them guessing, tell them to call (and why), tell them to join your list (and why), or tell them what to read or watch next. 

Give them a good experience and they will come back to read more and contact you when they’re ready to talk to you about their situation. 

Finally, if you are writing for other lawyers, or others who are paid to read your writing, it’s okay to write like a lawyer. But you don’t have to. And if you don’t have to, don’t. 

How to write an email newsletter clients want to read


Useful Idiots


You have people on your email list(s) who have never hired you, hired you and fired you, or hired you one time ages ago and you’ve never heard from them since. 

They are dead weight—just taking up space. 

Keep them on your list.  

They are useful, because one day they may realize they need help, find one of your emails and contact you. 

Email is cheap. Don’t delete anyone. They are useful, even if their usefulness isn’t presently clear. 

Even if they never hire you (again), they might forward your link to someone who does hire you, or who forwards that link to someone else who does. They may tell someone about your upcoming webinar, your book, or your article, or share something you’ve said or done.

Keep everyone. Old clients, prospects, leads, and business contacts who couldn’t pick you out of a lineup. 

And, unless you have very large lists, I wouldn’t bother sending out a “Click here if you want to continue receiving email from me” message, or reminding anyone they can unsubscribe.

Keep everyone. Because anyone may become your next client or lead them to you.

Are there exceptions? Subscribers you might want to delete? 

If someone is a complete jerk and you never want to work with them or hear from them again, you might think about sending them to digital hell.

Think twice. 

They may be idiots, but they are still useful. 

They may never realize they are the problem, apologize, and change their ways, but they can still send you referrals. And traffic that turns into new business. Unless they’re completely in your face and making you miserable, keep them on your list. Forever.

Besides, if you delete them, what’s keeping them from signing up again with a new email (and IP address)? 

Jerks do that, you know. Just to mess with you. 

Don’t worry your pretty little head about the jerks and the idiots. Don’t try to figure them out, don’t engage them. 

Ignore them and go do some work. 

Email Marketing for Attorneys


Build your email list offline


It’s probably not the best way to get subscribers, but there are a couple of advantages. For one, it’s free. You don’t have to pay for leads or traffic or anything else. Just the paper on which the information about your newsletter (or whatever list you want to build), plus postage if you decide to mail them. 

Another advantage is you’re not competing with everyone else who is promoting or advertising their offer online. Thus, your message and offer will be more likely to stand out. 

Finally, depending on how and where your offer appears, it will inherit the implied endorsement of the person or place where prospects see it. 

For example, when a local business or professional puts your flyer, brochure, or card in their waiting room, it suggests to their customers or clients who see it that they know you and think you’re okay, resulting in more sign-ups than would occur without that implied endorsement. 

You can distribute your brochure, report, or flyer in the back of the room where you are speaking or networking, or on the table at trade shows and events in your target market. 

To start, put your flyers or brochure or flyer in your own waiting room. You have a captive audience who already know, like, and trust you (or soon will) and are more likely to sign up for your list with no additional prompting from you. You can also give extras to new clients, along with your business cards or regular brochures, and mail them to existing and former clients and business contacts.

One key to making this work is to offer a bonus to anyone who signs up for your newsletter or event. A free report, your ebook, a free consultation, or other bonus often results in a higher rate of response, just as it does online.

Offline isn’t likely to result in a flood of sign-ups compared to what you might see online, because it’s not as easy to scale. But if your flyer or brochure is well written and distributed through the right people, it certainly might.

It also might stimulate immediate inquires about your services from people who see your flyer and want to talk to you about their legal issue. Or referrals from folks who see your offer and pass it along to friends.

How to get more referrals without asking for referrals


More leads or better leads? 


It’s complicated. You might get more leads, but pay so much for them (and this includes the cost of your time) they don’t seem worth it. But before you say, “I’ll take better leads for $200,” there’s something else to consider. 

Actually, two things.

The first is the “back end”. 

A lead may turn into a small case or client, providing barely enough revenue to cover the cost of acquiring them, but bring you enough work after that (on the back end) to make them exceedingly profitable. 

You need to consider the lifetime value of a new client. That includes all the work they hire you to do, all the direct referrals they send you, and all the leads they send you.

The second thing to consider is what you do (and don’t do) with your leads. 

Two lawyers. Lawyer number one gets a lead, sends out information, talks to the prospect, shows them some dogs and some ponies, and the prospect signs up. Or they don’t.  

Lawyer number two goes through a similar process, but when the prospect doesn’t sign up, follows up with them, and continues to follow-up with them until they do sign up. 

As a result, lawyer number two converts more leads into clients. 

Lawyer number two does something else lawyer number one doesn’t do. He follows up with leads that do sign up. He stays in touch with them, generating repeat business, referrals, traffic to his website, attendees at his presentations, and subscribers to his newsletter.

All of which generate more revenue and more profit.

The number and quality of your leads are important. But just as important, and often more so, is what you do with those leads.

How to use email to get more leads and convert them to clients


Soft call-to-action 


When you tell your readers, audience, subscribers, or website visitors to do something you want them to do, e.g., Call to schedule an appointment, you’re using a call-to-action. And you should because the more you tell people what to do, the more likely it is that they’ll do it. 

Clearly, not everyone is ready to do what you ask when you ask it, which is why you should ask again. Put calls-to-action in most or all of your marketing communications. Remind them (often) to call, sign-up, or download something. And tell them why—the benefits they get or the problems this can help them solve. 

When (if) they’re ready, they will respond. Your job is to stay in touch with them and continually make the case for taking action by repeating your call-to-action, providing additional arguments and examples, reminding them about the benefits, and otherwise “selling” them on doing what you ask.  

Telling them to call for an appointment is a ‘hard’ call to action. If they call, there is an expectation that this will lead to them signing up for something and paying something, and this may not be easy for them because it requires a commitment they might not be willing (yet) to make.

Which is why you should also use the ‘soft call-to-action’. Asking (telling) them to do something that doesn’t require a big commitment. Something relatively easy for them to do:

  • Like, share, comment
  • Download this report
  • Fill out our survey
  • Hit reply and ask your question
  • Sign up for our free seminar
  • Watch this video, listen to this podcast, read this article
  • And others. 

Why use these? First, because they help you build a list, which gives you permission to follow-up and send additional information. 

And second, because the more often you ask them to do something, and they do it, the more likely it is that they will do something else you ask.  

Get a visitor to your website to give you their email address and download your report today. Tomorrow, it will be easier to get them to sign up for your seminar or listen to your replay. Eventually, it will be easier to get them to schedule that appointment. 

What’s interesting is that even if they don’t do the things you ask, the more you ask, the more they become conditioned to hearing you ask and the less resistant they become to (eventually) doing something you ask. 

The lesson? Ask visitors and readers and prospects to do things and never stop asking. 

Each time they hear you ask, they take a step closer to becoming your next client.

Marketing legal services is easier when you know The Formula


How to build a law practice without social media


Extremely successful, perpetually cranky copywriter Ben Settle, who I have followed for a long time, famously built his list, top-shelf newsletter and businesses without social media. 

He was recently asked how he does it. 

By doing things people did to build their lists before social media.
It’s okay to use it, if you want to.
But only amateurs buy into “needing” social media for list-building.“

Ah, a man after my own heart. 

What did people do before social media? About what you think:   

Advertising, networking, public speaking, interviews, joint ventures, seminars, sponsorships, writing articles/books. . . and mentioning their offer (website, newsletter, services, etc.) to people connected with their target market. 

Things that work just as well today, and arguably better. For building a business, a newsletter, or a law practice.

There’s also SEO and publicity and direct mail and handouts. Some work better than others. Some require money but very little time. And some are incredibly labor intensive and not a lot of fun. But work.

What you should do depends on your field, your niche, what you offer, your budget (and tolerance for risk) and what you like and are good at. 

I know, too many choices. Pick something that’s not social media and run with it. 

On the other hand, if you’re okay with social media but find it challenging to find time to do it, your best bet might be advertising on social media.

Could be the best of both worlds.