Where does it hurt?

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If you want to communicate more effectively with clients and prospects (or anyone) and motivate them to act, you need to understand what makes them tick.

You need to know what they want and what they want to avoid or stop.

We’re talking about pain (what they want to stop) and it’s ugly cousin fear (what they want to prevent or avoid). Nothing motivates people to act more than these two felons.

When you understand someone’s pain, you can offer them relief. Someone is in trouble, they want to be rescued. Someone is threatened, they want protection.

When you know where they hurt or what they fear, you know what you need to say to get their attention.

You can also persuade them that you can deliver the outcomes they seek by referring to ideas and examples from their industry or market and by telling stories about clients you’ve helped overcome similar problems.

Before you talk to another prospective client, write your next article or email, or create your next presentation, take some time to discover your target market’s pain or fear, and the words they use to describe this.

One easy way to find their pain points is to find groups where your target market hangs out (Facebook, LinkedIn, et. al.) and search for words that indicate pain or problems.

General words like “help” or “trouble” or “discouraged” can point you in the right direction. More specific keywords related to what you do will give you additional fodder.

Note how people describe their problems and their pain, their frustrations, and their failed attempts to fix what ails them.

You don’t need that much. A few details, a story or two, can go a long way.

When you better understand your target market and what you need to say to the people in it, you’ll get more prospective clients to see you as the right attorney for them.

For more places to find your target market’s pain points, check out my video course on using email for marketing your services.

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All that and a bag of chips

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My wife and I went to a specialty market the other day to pick up something she needed for dinner. We passed a table with a bowl of tortilla chips and samples of six or seven different types of dips.

I tasted several dips and they were amazing. We bought two, along with a big bag of chips.

Which prompts me to prompt you to give your prospective clients more than one choice. Because if the only choice you give them is to hire you or not, sometimes you won’t like what they choose.

Give them different options, at different price points, and you’ll get more people saying yes. Once they are a client, you can talk to them about your other services.

Because it’s easier to get an existing client to hire you again than to get a prospect to hire you the first time.

If you don’t have this ability now, consider breaking up a bigger service into smaller services. Offer an entry-level service or package, or a menu of smaller services they can buy.

If that’s not possible, give prospective clients other ways to “sample” your deliciousness.

A free consultation. Free information. A presentation with questions and answers.

Meet them for coffee. Invite them for golf. Introduce yourself to them at a party or networking event.

Give more people a taste of what you offer and more people will walk out of your office with a big bag of chips.

A newsletter is a great way to give people a sample of what you do

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Lead, follow or hold my beer

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Most attorneys copy what their competitors are doing to get more clients or otherwise build their practice. The problem is, most of those attorneys are also doing this.

Most play “follow the follower” instead of “follow the leader”. But following the leader isn’t necessarily the way to go, either.

When you copy anyone, you risk copying something that doesn’t work. You don’t know if what you’re copying is generating results or the results (you think) they’re getting are from other factors.

They might have skills or resources that allow them to get results you won’t get.

Their “successful” ad, for example, might be successful because they have a better system for closing leads. Or, they might break even or lose money on every ad but profit on up-sells, back-end business, repeat business, and referrals.

The other problem with copying others, even if you copy things that work, is that you are merely a copycat. You fade into the background, just another lawyer with nothing special to offer.

So, what’s the answer?

Don’t ignore your competition. You might get ideas from them. But don’t copy them. In fact, a good rule of thumb is to look at what the majority do and do the opposite.

Then, decide that you will be the leader others want to copy. Go your own way, even though it means doing things that might frighten you.

In fact, if it doesn’t frighten you, if it doesn’t take you out of your comfort zone, you’re probably playing safe, which is not what leaders do.

You don’t have to throw yourself into an abyss or run naked in the streets. You don’t have to risk everything.

Follow the path of least resistance. Find something small and easy to do and start there. From that perspective, you’ll be a different person, ready to take the next step.

Ready to take a quantum leap in your practice? Here’s the first step

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Marketing is like riding the bus

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Marketing is very forgiving. If you miss something or mess up something, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to make it right.

If you miss your bus, another one will be along soon.

You wrote an article or post that didn’t bring good results? Write another.

You went to a networking event and didn’t connect with anyone? Go again or try a different event.

Your ad didn’t pull? Your presentation didn’t score any appointments? You met with a prospective client and they didn’t sign up?

Don’t worry. Keep going. And don’t dwell on things that go wrong.

When I was starting my practice I tried something and lost a bunch of money I couldn’t afford to lose. A friend reminded me that I was doing well overall, losses are part of business and I shouldn’t focus on them.

He was right.

Think about the long term and the big picture, not the bumps in the road.

Keep publishing, keep mailing, keep trying new ideas, and you’ll get where you want to go. Because there’s always another bus coming.

Want a simple marketing plan? This will help

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Real ID is a real pain

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October 1, 2020, the new “Real ID” law goes into effect. After that date, you’ll need a Real ID card or other federally approved documents such as a passport or military ID to get on an airplane or enter a secure federal facility.

Did you know?

I didn’t until my wife renewed her driver’s license recently and found out about it. Later today, we’re headed to the DMV to submit our applications and supporting documents.

We hope we have everything we need. I say that because there are a lot of rules about which documents to bring, and if you get it wrong, “No soup for you!”

Do yourself a favor and find out what you need to do–and do it. As we get closer to the deadline and more people find out about this, you can be sure the lines are going to get longer.

Once you have a handle on what to do, give a heads up to your clients and prospects. Give them the link to get the details, apply online (if available in your state), and gather the required documents.

They’ll need a certified copy of their birth certificate, for example, and may need time to send for it.

Your clients will be glad you told them, glad they have you as their attorney.

Post a summary on your website. You might invite your clients to call your office if they have any questions.

Consider blogging about it, making a video or two, and posting on social.

You’ll generate some goodwill and get more people coming to your website where they will learn about the (paid) services you offer.

Your website can help you make the phone ring

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How to approach a stranger

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I got an email today from someone I don’t know, offering me his services. It said:

“I am reaching out to make you aware of my availability as an [type of] expert witness for case review, consulting and testimony. I also will spend an hour of time at my cost to assist you in evaluating a potential case if you are looking for feedback.”

He then offers to send his CV or I can see it online.

If you’re in southern California, maybe you got the same email. Check your spam folder. That’s where I found it.

Okay, what do you think? Is this a viable approach? What might improve it? Or this is terrible posture and something you would never consider?

I’ll tell you what I think.

There’s nothing wrong with contacting strangers by email. And, if you do it right (and follow your Bar rules) it can lead to work. But. . .

Don’t send a “form letter” to a large list. That’s how it winds up in spam.

Do your homework. Find a few prospective clients or referral sources who are likely to need or want something you provide or know someone who might.

Personalize your message. Tell them where you got their name, show them you know what they do, that you’ve looked at their website (and liked something) or you know someone they might know.

Then, don’t be so quick to ask for a date.

Don’t offer your services, even a free consultation or one-hour free review as this fellow did. You’re asking for too much too soon.

They don’t know you or trust you. You have a ways to go to earn that.

Instead, offer them information. Not about you, about something that might be useful or interesting to someone who does what they do.

Information that will help them do a better job for their clients or customers, for example, or help them save time or money or get better results.

Follow-up in a few days, see if they got your first email and offer the information again.

There are other ways to approach a stranger but this is about as simple as it gets. If you use some common sense and provide decent information, it can bring you some business.

Some recipients will read your report or article, see that you know your stuff and be open to learning more about you. Make sure your report tells them how to do that.

And, once you have a few candidates who have expressed interest in learning more, stay in touch with them, get to know them and help them get to know you.

Networking 101, with email.

How to use email to build your practice

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Be afraid. Be very afraid.

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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

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If you’re not the best, do this

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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

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Lawyers earn more than teachers

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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

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Some clients don’t know they have a problem

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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.

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