Be afraid. Be very afraid.

You can never assume that prospective clients understand how you can change their life. You have to tell them.

Tell them you can give them what they want. And then, dramatize it. Because people make decisions based on emotions, not logic.

The success of your marketing message depends, in part, on how skillfully you use the granddaddy of emotions, fear, to get prospective clients to act.

Especially fear of loss and fear of failure.

Tell them what’s at stake if they fail to act (aka, fail to hire you).

What will their life be like? What additional problems might ensue? How might delay or inaction make things worse?

And tell them how they might feel when that happens.

Your job is to paint a picture (tell a story) about not getting what they want so the prospective client will decide to call you or write that check.

They may want what you offer but hesitate. Give them a glimpse of their future if they don’t make that call.

But hold on. You can’t bludgeon them with horror stories and tales of horrible consequences. Too much fear and people tune you out.

So, don’t overdo it.

Don’t give them a laundry list of risks and negative consequences, unmitigated pain, and unrelenting problems without relief.

Give them some hope.

Tell them you have the solution. You can deliver a happy ending to the movie you’ve had them watching. Tell them what their life will be like once you’ve done your work and you’ve delivered the solutions they want.

And then tell them what to do to get it.

Learn how to do this with email

If you’re not the best, do this

You may not be the best in your field or even as good as your competition. You may not do anything different from other lawyers in your field.

One way to stand out and make a name for yourself is to find someone doing something noteworthy or interesting or controversial and help them.

Marketing your practice doesn’t necessarily mean promoting yourself. You can promote someone or something else and ride the wave of interest that ensues.

If you know someone in your target market who is doing something laudable–building a business or a cause, for example–tell the world about them.

Be their champion. Join their crusade. Look for ways to help them get the word out.

You could volunteer time or donate money to support their cause. You could refer them business or introduce them to investors. You could tell their story to everyone you know.

Find ways to help them grow and, as they do, stick by their side.

Many lawyers have found success representing a client that takes off. You don’t have to wait for one of your clients to do that, however, you can go find someone doing something you like or believe in and introduce yourself.

Marketing legal services is easier when you know the formula

Lawyers earn more than teachers

Yesterday, I pontificated about the value and importance of educating your clients and prospects about problems they may not know they have and about the solutions you have available for them.

That’s your warm market. It’s different in the cold market.

In your warm market–clients, prospects, newsletter subscribers, and others who recognize your name–teaching them what they don’t know doesn’t cost much.

They’re already on your list. If you send them an email, they’ll open it and read it. If what you say makes sense and they eventually do hire an attorney to handle that problem, the odds are that attorney will be you.

In the cold market, you have to find people, get their attention, educate them, build trust, and persuade them to take the next step, and all of that takes time and capital.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t do it. Just be aware that it’s not as easy or profitable as educating your warm market.

If you do target the cold market, you have two ways to go.

You can target people who know they have a legal problem and are actively looking for a solution, or you can target people who don’t know they have a problem and show them what they need to know.

The first group–people who are looking for a solution to a known problem–is likely to be more profitable, but for one thing: competition.

Most lawyers target people who know they have a problem.

Does that mean you should target the broader market of people who don’t know they have a problem and/or aren’t looking for a solution?

Not necessarily.

Those folks are more difficult (expensive) to identify and communicate with.

So, what do you do?

You can make money educating people who don’t know what they don’t know but you have to get a lot of things right and be willing to invest a lot of time and capital to do it.

Therefore, despite the competition, you’re usually better off going for the known commodity–targeting people who are already looking for what you offer.

Just make sure you do a better job of marketing to them than your competition.

How to use email to build your practice

Some clients don’t know they have a problem

Some of the clients and prospects on your list don’t know they have a legal problem, let alone that you have the ability to help them.

You need to educate them.

Tell them what they need to know about their problem or potential problem, and what might happen if they do nothing about it.

Don’t leave it up to them to figure this out. Don’t make them wait until their problem worsens. Tell them what they need to know.

And keep telling them because they might not be ready or willing or able to do anything about it the first time you tell them.

Describe the problem and tell them how to recognize it. Describe the risks and their options. And describe the benefits they get when they do something about it, ie., hire you.

Tell them how they will be better off. Tell them about how they will save money, protect themselves (family, business, etc.) against negative consequences. Tell them how they will be safer and enjoy peace of mind.

And then give them examples of other people, like them, who were in the same situation and, with your help, obtained those benefits.

It’s a simple and effective formula for marketing your services.

What’s that? You don’t have any other services to offer to your list?

No problem. Do you know any attorneys in different practice areas who can help your clients? If a client contacted you with a problem that attorney could handle, would you recommend them?

Great. So why not recommend them (their services, their website, their seminar, etc.) now?

Your clients will appreciate that. So will the other attorney, who might do the same thing for you with his clients.

If you want to know how to build your practice with email, my email marketing course shows you everything you need to know.

Fees matter only when nothing else matters

If you’re like most attorneys, you pay attention to what your competition charges and make an effort to keep your fees in line with theirs.

You don’t have to.

Because fees are way down the list of factors clients cite for choosing their attorney. And because there are things you can do to distinguish yourself from your competition, making it more likely that clients will choose you (and stick with you) even if you charge more.

How can you differentiate yourself? Here you go:

Better results.

If you’re better than other attorneys in your field, don’t keep that a secret. Let prospective clients and the people who refer them know you’re better than other lawyers in your field. Prove it by highlighting your accomplishments, reviews, testimonials, and endorsements.

Better service.

Yes, clients will pay more for better service. At least the kinds of clients you want. But quality service isn’t enough, you have to deliver amazing service. You need to be so good your clients wouldn’t think of going anywhere else. So good they want to tell everyone about you.


Clients prefer lawyers who specialize and they’re willing to pay more for them. They see specialists as having greater skills, knowledge, and experience. They believe that a lawyer who specializes can do the job better and quicker and with fewer problems or distractions, and this is worth more to them.

They also prefer lawyers who specialize in their niche, market or type of client.

Know, like, trust.

Other lawyers may do what you do, deliver the results you deliver, give their clients incredible service, but they aren’t you.

You are unique.

When your clients and referral sources know, like, and trust you, they will usually continue to choose you. 

Build relationships with your clients and professional contacts. Get to know them (and their families, partners, and key people) on a personal level, and make sure they know you, too.

Show your market that you are better or different. If you do, your fees won’t matter. If you don’t, your fees will be the only that matters.

More ways to differentiate yourself

Binge marketing

So many ideas, so little time. So many ways to promote your services, generate leads, make new business contacts, and improve response to your existing campaigns.

It never stops. Which is why sometimes, you never start.

Having options is a good thing. But it can be overwhelming.

The solution, or at least one sensible approach, is to choose one idea, channel, strategy, tactic or tool, and (temporarily) go “all in”.

Let’s say you’ve decided that LinkedIn is your new bey. You know (or you’ve heard) it’s a good place to find prospective clients, professionals with whom you can network, influencers, bloggers, and other people you’d like to know.

Whether you’re already a LinkedIn ninja or a complete noob, put everything else aside, set up a new project, and dive in.

Read articles and books. Watch videos. Listen to podcasts. Take a course. Talk to friends.

Read, watch, learn, and take notes. Then, do something.

Yes, but what?

Do you go organic? Do you advertise? Do you focus on publishing content?

What do you do first with your profile? How do you get people to see it, read it, and engage with you?

You: “Thanks a lot! Now I’m more confused than before I started.”

Me: Relax. It’s a process. You’re learning something new. Go back to your collection of information, sift through it again, add to it if necessary, and choose. . . something.

It doesn’t matter what. What matters is that you start, because you learn the most by doing, not reading. And because the objective is doing, not learning.

Do something, then do something else.

One more thing. Don’t give yourself too much time. Give yourself a week or a month, but no more. Otherwise, you might wander and get sucked into the muck.

Remember that video I mentioned the other day about how you can learn a new skill in just 20 hours?

Sounds like a plan.

For a simple marketing plan, go here

Marketing when you don’t feel like marketing

How do you keep the marketing fires lit when you’d rather do other things? What strategies or tactics do you use?

Have you’ve eliminated things you especially don’t like and replaced them with a few you do?

Do you automate and delegate as much as possible?

Do you “chunk it down” into small, easy-to-do tasks you can do a few minutes at a time?

Do you accept that marketing is important, put on your big boy pants, and do it anyway?

All of these are good solutions. I do them, too.

When I have to write something and I’m not feeling it, I’ll break it up into baby steps–a few minutes to find the idea, then take a break; a few more minutes to make some notes, then another break; write for five minutes, then walk away.

And so on.

And, if I’m still not feeling it, I do it anyway. Because it has to get done.

Something else I suggest. It works for marketing or any activity you may be resisting:

Put it on your calendar.

Make an appointment with yourself. Don’t schedule anything else at that time. Don’t take calls or check email. Use the time you’ve scheduled to do the thing you’ve committed to doing.

For extra credit, schedule the appointment early in the day, first thing if possible. You’ll get it out of the way and won’t have to think about it for the rest of the day.

You know this. But do you do it? If I look at your calendar right now, what would I see?

We all have things to do we don’t want to do. Client work, errands, things around the house. We do them because they’re part of the job we signed up for.

But sometimes, we need something in writing staring back at us, reminding us to do it.

Want bigger marketing results with less effort? Here’s what you need

When is the best time to ask for referrals?

According to a financial advisor who posted an answer to this question, the best time to ask for referrals is at the time you deliver the work-product (document, settlement check, etc.) or other benefits.

I agree. This is the best time.

The client is feeling good about you and their decision to hire you. They’ve seen tangible evidence of your ability to deliver results. They may be thinking about people they know who could benefit from your services.

But while this is the best time, you can also ask at other times.

Of course, it depends on what we mean by “asking”.

You can “ask” by handing the client a letter or brochure that describes your “ideal client” (how to spot them, how to refer them) at any time.

Your “new client welcome kit” should include such a document.

You can “ask” in your newsletter. After sharing a client success story, you could include a call to action to download your aforesaid document or read it on your website.

When a client is in the office for any reason, you could hand them a few of your business cards and casually say, “in case you know someone who needs an attorney. Tell them to mention your name.”

You can (and should) also talk to prospective clients about referrals. After a free consultation, for example. You can also ask in your declination letter.

There are different ways to “ask” for referrals. Pick something and use it.

The more you do, the more referrals you’ll get.

Here’s how to get maximum referrals

Following up with prospective clients

Most people don’t hire you the first time they speak to you, visit your website or watch your presentation. You need to follow up.

When you follow-up you get more clients.

But how? And when? What do you say, what do you offer, what do you send them? How often should you contact them?

That’s what you need to figure out.

You need a follow-up plan for each point of contact with prospective clients, and each stage of the “buying process”.

Your plan should spell out what you will do

  • after a free consultation–in the office and on the phone (they’re different)
  • with people you meet at networking events
  • with people who attend your presentation (in person, online)
  • with people who subscribe to your newsletter or download your report
  • with first-time clients, to convert them to repeat clients and stimulate referrals
  • with lapsed clients
  • and so on.

Your plan should also answer the following questions:

  1. Who? Should you follow-up personally or can an assistant do it? Should you do it the first time and then have someone on your staff do it?
  2. When? You’ll want to send a “thank you” or “nice to meet you” note immediately but what’s the schedule for additional follow-ups? How often? Over what period of time?
  3. How? Calls, emails, letters? A combination? Should you text? Invite to lunch or coffee? What can you automate?
  4. What? What will you say? What will you ask? What will you tell them or invite them to do?

You also need a follow-up plan for the professionals and prospective referral sources you meet.

Your plan doesn’t need to be complex, nor do you need to figure out everything in advance. Start with one point of contact and one or two follow-ups; once you have this in place, you can add more.

But start. Because in business, the fortune is in the follow-up.

If you need help creating or implementing your plan, let me know.

Better than average

Marketing goo-roo Dan Kennedy once said, “Your success in business is directly proportional to the number of industry norms you defy.”

In other words, if you do what everyone else is doing, you will be unlikely to achieve more than average results.

What can you do if you want to do better than average?

!. You can offer better services than the competition.

If you deliver better results, more benefits or value, or a higher level of “customer service,” you will probably get more clients, higher quality clients, and/or be able to charge higher fees than average.

You should also get more repeat business and referrals.

2. You can use better marketing.

If you do a better job of getting leads, packaging and selling your services, and building relationships with your clients and other professionals, you will get more clients and earn more income than average.

That’s because more prospective clients (and the people who can refer them) will hear your message and/or be persuaded by it.

Both options are good. Either one can help you become more successful.

But why not do both?

If you want to learn a step-by-step system for marketing and building your practice with email. . .

Go here