Can we talk?

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A lot of marketing is finding “excuses” to have a conversation with someone who needs your services or can lead you to people who do.

Your job is to find ways to have more conversations with prospective clients, professionals, centers of influence and others who sell to, write for, or advise your target market.

The more conversations, the better. But quality is more important than quantity.

Talking to someone who knows they need an attorney is better than talking to someone who thinks they might be able to handle the problem on their own. Talking to someone who can easily afford your services is better than talking to someone who has to borrow the funds.

Having a conversation with someone with an active email list or social media following is better than speaking to someone who doesn’t understand the value of staying in touch.

Speaking with people who were referred to you is better than speaking to people who responded to an ad or found your website through search. Speaking with someone who has read your book or attended your seminar is better than speaking to someone who plucked your name out of a directory.

But you should also consider the quality of the conversation itself.

Chatting with a contact on Flakebook isn’t as good as speaking with them on the phone or in person. Answering someone’s general legal questions or telling them more about what you do isn’t as good as consulting with them about their specific legal problem.

At the end of the day, when you’re writing in your journal or otherwise taking score, ask yourself two questions:

  1. How many clients did I sign up today?
  2. How many (high quality) conversations did I have with people who need my services or can lead me to people who do?

If you don’t like the answer to the first question, start working on improving your answer to the second one.

Marketing is easier when you know The Formula

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No, I don’t want more clients

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Last week, I pontificated about the value of limiting the number of clients an attorney takes on to 10, because it allows them to earn more and work less.

I also said most attorneys won’t do it.

Some attorneys do, however. Appellate attorney Steve Emmert is one of them.

In response to my email, Steve wrote:

(Heh, heh!) I currently have fewer than ten files open. Most of them have seven-digit deltas, of course, so I can still make a living. But you’re absolutely right about this.

This week I took a call from an ad guy at SuperLawyers, in which I’ve been listed for several years, though I’ve never advertised with them. He asked if I’d like to have an extra three or four clients a month. I’m probably the only guy who’s ever told him, “No” in response to that question. I told him that I start getting nervous when I have more than about 12 files open, and three or four more a month would drown me. He really didn’t know what to say.

Who wouldn’t like to be able to tell a sales rep they don’t want any more business?

Steve also shared a story that illustrates the same idea in a different way:

Years ago I attended a brilliant presentation by a guy named Mark Powers, of the legal-consulting firm Atticus. He described his trip to a big firm for an in-house presentation. As soon as the introductions were complete, Powers said, “Now, the first thing I want each of you to do is double your hourly rates.” The ensuing uproar subsided just long enough for one of the partners to stammer, “But, but if we do that, we’ll lose half our clients!”

“Exactly!” a triumphant Powers replied with a smile. He explained to them that if they got the same amount of money for doing half the work, they’d have a better quality of life.

Point, set and match.

I’ve had discussions about raising fees with many attorneys over the years. When I do, I can almost always hear the wheels turning in their head as they wrestle with idea. Sadly, their desire usually loses out to their fear.

Not my friend Steve, however, who figured this out on his own.

I know this because I interviewed him and published a book based on that interview. In it, he shares the secrets to his success, or, as he might describe them, the methods to his madness.

How to Build a Successful Appellate Practice contains valuable practice-building and career-building advice for attorneys in any practice area.

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The most important word in marketing

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You go to my website and read all about me and the services I offer. You like what you see.

I tell you to call to make an appointment. I tell you the number to call, the best time to call, who to ask for and what to say.

What’s missing?

I haven’t told you why.

Why should you make an appointment? What are the benefits? What will you learn or get? How will you be better off?

You shouldn’t assume a prospect knows this, even if it is obvious. You need to tell them.

Tell them you’ll review the facts and explain the law. Tell them they’ll learn their options and what you recommend. Tell them they can ask as many questions as they want and you’ll answer all of them. Tell them that at the end of the appointment, they’ll know what you can do to help them and what happens next.

Because that’s what they want. That’s the benefit. That’s why they will call.

Other lawyers tell people to call but don’t say why. They might say “to talk to a lawyer” but that’s not what people want. They want solutions, relief from their pain or worry, a plan for moving forward.

That’s why they will call. That’s what you need to tell them.

Whatever you’re offering, tell people why they should accept your offer or do what you’re asking them to do. You want them to sign up for your newsletter? Tell them why. What will they learn, what will they get, how will they better off?

When you tell people the benefits, when you tell them what’s in it for them, more people will call or sign up or accept your offer.

You get more subscribers, set more appointments, sign up more clients, and increase your income.

That’s why you tell people why.

Marketing is easier when you have a plan

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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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Try it, you’ll like it

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Believe it or not, there was a time when I didn’t like pizza. Actually, I’d never tasted it, but I was a kid and thought it looked yucky and melty and I was sure I wouldn’t like it, so I refused to eat it.

What a maroon.

My parents and sisters thought I was nuts. I was a kid and kids love pizza. My sisters loved pizza, my parents loved pizza, what was up with me?

One day, my father said, “Just take one bite. If you don’t like it, you never have to eat it again.”

And. . . the rest is history.

Note that my father didn’t try to convince me to become a pizza eater. He merely encouraged me to try it. He knew that if I did, there was a very good chance I’d like it.

Thanks, Dad.

In marketing, it’s called “promoting trial” or “sampling”. It’s a proven strategy, something everyone who sells something should consider.

When you go car shopping, the sales person promotes a test drive. He knows that once you feel how smoothly the car navigates the road, and see how good you look sitting behind the wheel, you’ll sell yourself on buying that car.

Many lawyers offer free consultations for the same reason.

They give prospective clients a sample.

Prospective clients hear them opine about their case or situation, get some questions answered, and get a sense of what it would be like to work with them. If you offer free consultations, you know that most prospective clients who avail themselves want to hire you.

Content marketing is another form of sampling. When prospective clients or referral sources read something you write or hear you speak, they get a taste of your wisdom and personality, and this is often enough to get them to take the next step.

Not every lawyer should offer free consultations, but every lawyer should create and distribute content.

Write something, record something, get yourself interviewed by others in your niche, and let prospective clients and the people who can refer them get a sample of your greatness.

You may not be as delicious as that first piece of pizza I had, but you’ll probably be tasty enough to get people interested in taking another bite.

More: The Attorney Marketing Formula

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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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How to instantly connect with anyone

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I was speaking to a senior adjuster for the first time, taking a moment to get to know him before we talked about the case. He happened to mention the name of a defense attorney who had handled some of his big cases. “I knew Mike,” I said, and we started swapping stories about him.

Before we knew it, forty minutes had gone by.

Granted, we were getting along fine before that, but having something in common helped us connect on a deeper level. I’m sure it also helped me settle the case.

Whenever you speak to someone new, one of the best ways to “make a new friend” is to find something you have in common.

Ask questions and get them to tell you their story. Find out who they know, where they went to school, or what they do for fun.

When you find you have something in common, it changes the dynamics of the conversation and you can bond over that commonality.

You were a stranger a moment ago; suddenly, you’re friends.

Many people bond over sports. “Did you see the game last night?” is a great conversation starter for many people. Others bond over their shared experiences of raising kids.

Listen for clues. If the other person has an accent you recognize, you might ask where they’re from. If they talk about the mess their dog left for them last night, you might ask them the breed.

Anything can help you instantly connect with someone, and start you down the path to a new relationship. It might even help you settle your case.

Marketing is easy when you know The Formula

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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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Is ‘tell your story’ good advice?

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Who are you? How can you help me? Why should I trust you?

This is what prospective clients are thinking about you, even when you are referred to them by someone they trust.

It’s only natural. They want to know what you can do for them and what it will be like to work with you.

So, tell them. Tell your story.

Tell your story in your marketing materials. Tell your story to people who ask, “What do you do?” (My ebook, How to Sell Your Legal Services in 15 Seconds or Less shows you how to answer that question.)

So yes, it is good advice. But a word of caution:

Don’t be “that guy” or “that gal” who talks about themselves all the time.

Tell your story and be quick about it. A few sentences is usually more than enough.

Another caution: when you talk about yourself, some people may doubt you. So, do what you can to get others to tell your story, via testimonials and positive reviews.

What someone else says about you and how you helped them is much more persuasive than anything you say about yourself.

Testimonials and positive reviews aren’t the only way to do this, however. You don’t need clients to tell their stories, you can tell their stories for them.

When you write an article or blog post, when you deliver a presentation, when you speak to a prospective client or fellow professionals, tell stories about the clients you’ve helped.

Client success stories are a subtle but powerful form of marketing. Collect them and use them liberally, because while you may do the “talking,” it is the client’s story that delivers the message.

It’s not difficult to do this. In your next article or conversation, start a paragraph by saying, “I had a client who. . .” and tell their story. Describe the problem they had when they came to you, what they hired you to do, and what happened.

Tell your story. And tell client success stories.

How to Sell Your Legal Services in 15 Seconds or Less

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If you do this, you’ll get more clients

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If you’d like a mind-numbingly simple way to get more clients, read on my fellow legal peep. I think you’re going to like this idea.

It will work for just about any type of practice or practice area and you can start using it immediately.

And, did I mention it was simple?

All you need to do is create a one-page letter, form, card, web page or email that says:

“Please send me free information on:”

Under this, put a list of subjects that might interest a prospective client.

For example:

  • “How to hire a good xyz attorney without losing your shirt”
  • “The least you need to know about X”
  • “An easy way to protect your [family/business/estate, etc.]
  • “How to [benefit] in 30 days or less”

Anything a prospective prospective client (and the people who can refer them) might want to know.

These can be old blog posts, reports, articles, videos, presentations, or anything else you’ve created (or can create). You can start with a few options and add more later.

Provide check boxes or links and explain what to do to request the information. Include a paragraph about you and your practice, so they know who you are and how you can help them. And tell them there is no cost or obligation.

When someone requests information, you learn who they are and what they’re interested in. You can follow up with them, offer more information, offer a free consultation or other incentive, and stay in touch with them until they’re ready to take the next step.

Your report tells them something they want to know, and shows them why they should hire you or contact you to get more information.

But, here’s the thing.

Even if they don’t read your report, they have your contact information. If and when they decide they need to talk to a lawyer, the odds are that you’ll get the call.

Once you have created you “information request form,” put it in your new client kit, send it to former clients (a good excuse to re-connect with them), and encourage everyone to share it with their friends and contacts.

See, I told you this was simple.

How to get more clients

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