Three’s Company

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Last night I watched a “Where are they Now?” video about the old TV show, “Three’s Company”. It was good to see some familiar faces and how they looked today, and sad remembering how young John Ritter was when he left us.

In the comments, someone asked, “What was the name of the bar they always hung out at?”

Do you remember?

Jack and Janet and Chrissy went there a lot. They met up with Jack’s friend, Larry. Sometimes, Mr. and Mrs. Roper showed up. And Mr. Furley. (I loved Mr. Furley. I loved everything Don Knotts did.) 

I haven’t seen the show in decades but of course, I remembered the name of “The Regal Beagle”.

Anyway, it was good remembering a show that provided so many laughs and a simpler time. The beautiful women didn’t hurt.

Oh, do you remember the time Jack fell over the sofa. . .

Anyway, my point isn’t to confess that I spent too much time watching TV back then. It’s that if you have some of the same fond memories of Three’s Company, you and I have something in common and if we were having this conversation in person, we would bond over those memories.

When you meet someone for the first time, sharing a memory or a common interest can do wonders for getting everyone to relax and feel good about each other.

If I walk into your office for the first time and see you have a chess board on your credenza, you and I are going to have something to talk about. I like you already. Unfortunately, we may not get any work done.

Popular culture–TV, movies, books, sports, games, the news (be careful that one, however), are all fodder for finding common ground with people we meet.

They’re also good subjects to put in your blog or newsletter.

What’s on your blog?

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3 simple ways to quickly create content

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You need more content for your blog or newsletter or channel. You don’t have a lot of time. What do you do?

Here are 3 ideas:

(1) The simplest source of new content is old content. Find something you’ve written before and re-use it. Convert a blog post into a video or vice versa.

Or, re-write it. Add some new information or examples.

Done.

(2) Almost as simple is to re-write something written by someone else.

Find a blog post or article by someone in your niche, put it into your own words and add your own examples or stories. Or, summarize the other person’s article and comment on it–what you agree with, what you don’t, and why.

Done.

One more.

(3) Respond to comments or questions posted on your social media, blog, or in your email inbox.

You can get some of your best content this way because you’re responding to real people with real questions about things you’re already thinking about or talking about.

And, done.

Wait, what? You don’t have any comments or questions you can respond to?

No problem. Go find someone else’s blog or social media and answer one of their questions.

Now, since you don’t have a lot of time, I’ll shut up and let you get to work.

More ideas here

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“Do Not Commit Crimes With Checks”

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On the NBA on TNT Thursday night, Charles Barkley had some advice for Jussie Smollett, causing Shaq to convulse in laughter and spit out his coffee. The crew joined in, posting a mock-up of a fake check for $3,500 made out to “Muggers” with “Mugging Supplies” penned in the memo.

Everyone’s talking about the hoax and the future of the actor’s career.

Are you?

Are you using this story (the basic story or the Barkley version) in your speaking, writing, newsletter or blog?

You could. And should. Because when you talk about what everyone is talking about, people notice.

You can leverage the story without getting into politics or racism.

How?

You could review the legal issues for your readers, tell them what happened and what could happen next.

You could mention the story and then talk about one of your clients who did something stupid, got into trouble (civil or criminal) and hired you to help them.

You could quote Barkley and then talk about something else he once said (funny, pithy, strange, or otherwise) and use that other quote to segue into a story related to your practice.

Or you could do what I just did, tell your readers what Sir Charles said and then tell them what you think, e.g., it’s funny, not funny, premature, etc.

For the record: I laughed. Out loud. Especially when I saw the mock up of the check.

Good thing I wasn’t drinking coffee at the time.

How to use your website or blog to bring in more business

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Clients won’t hire you until this happens

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Last week, I talked about why you shouldn’t worry about repeating yourself in your newsletter or blog. I pointed out that new people continually join your list or visit your blog and haven’t seen what you wrote before. I said you might talk about the same subject but use different (and more compelling) arguments or examples.

An astute reader, (thanks, Michael), reminded me that I neglected to mention one of the most important reasons, that when a reader hears your message the first time, they may not be ready to hear it, or ready to take action.

Clients won’t hire you until they’re ready. And there are a lot of reasons why they might not be ready the first time you talk about a subject.

They may not understand what you said the first time they read it or realize that it applies to them.

They may not trust you yet or understand how you can help them solve their problem. They may be in denial about the risks they are facing and need to hear more information.

They may think they can’t afford to hire you and need the problem to worsen before they’re willing to take the next step. They may need time to “find” the money and hearing your message again might be just the impetus they need to do it.

There are many reasons why someone might not be ready, willing, or able to hire you when they read your message the first time or the 21st time.

That assumes they actually received and read your previous message(s), something that may or may not be true.

Stay in touch with your clients and prospects and don’t worry about repeating yourself. Repeating yourself may be exactly what you need to do because clients won’t hire you (again) until they’re ready and they aren’t ready until they’re ready.

How to bring in more business with a newsletter or blog

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If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you 100 times

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I used to make an effort to avoid repeating myself in my newsletter and blog. In fact, I once set up a “reverse editorial calendar” to record topics and the dates of each post.

Not anymore.

Aside from the fact that it’s too much work for my sorry azz, it isn’t necessary. It’s okay to repeat yourself.

In fact, I’m pretty sure I’ve written about this very topic before. Maybe more than once. No doubt I’ll do it again.

Here’s why I don’t worry about repeating myself, and why you shouldn’t, either:

  • Every day, new people join your list and, to them, the topic is new
  • Most subscribers don’t remember seeing the topic before, or if they do, they don’t remember the details.
  • You might make the same point but cite different facts, arguments or examples.
  • You might update something you said before, providing new results, additional information or feedback from others
  • If you’re like me (and you are), you change your mind about things, so update away.
  • Some ideas are important enough that they bear repeating.
  • Some ideas are important enough that they bear repeating. See?

Anyway, if you ask me, you shouldn’t worry about what you did yesterday, last month, or last year. Write what’s on your mind today and you’ll be just fine.

Need more ideas for blog posts and emails? This will help

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Could you write an email like this?

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I just got off the phone with a young married couple who is having their first child. Josh works in tech sales. Karen does bookkeeping for a company that owns several restaurants. They were referred to me by a financial planner I know from my networking group.

They wanted to get their wills done and see if they could benefit from estate planning strategies they’d heard about from some friends.

We scheduled an appointment and I sent them to a page on my website to fill out a simple questionnaire. I also sent them information about some of the options we would discuss.

If you have questions about your estate planning options, go to [this page]. And, if you would like to talk to me about your situation or make an appointment, give me a call at [number].

— — —
No matter what your practice area, tell your newsletter readers about one of your new clients. Or tell them about an interesting case you have had in the past.

Let them see that people like them, with issues like theirs, are hiring you to help them. It reminds them about what you do and how you can help them.

Let them know that those clients were referred to you, by a client or a fellow professional. It shows them that other people trust you and look to you to help their friends and clients.

Let them know they can get information about their legal issue and your services on your website. And let them know they can call you to talk or to make an appointment.

You can add more if you want to.

You could tell them a few details about the issues in the case and what you did about them. You could add a question or two the client asked you and your answers. You could quote the client at the end of the case, expressing relief or praising you.

Let people hear what you do and how you can help them and more people will hire you. It doesn’t get any simpler than that.

How to start an email newsletter

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The practice you want, the marketing you’ll need

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Yesterday, I saw an article with the title, “The retirement you want, the money you’ll need”. Good title. I took it and wrote the title of the post you’re reading now.

The point? You can get ideas for content and headlines just about anywhere. But only if you’re looking for them.

And by looking, I don’t mean scouring through blogs or your incoming email hunting for ideas. I mean being open to ideas finding you and being ready to write them down when they do.

I find ideas in many places. You will, too. Make sure you have an “idea” file or tag, read widely and deeply, and write down anything that strikes you, even if it seems silly or done-to-death. Develop the habit of finding and recording ideas first. Quality can come later.

Had you encountered the original title that inspired this post, you might have come up with a headline like, “The settlement you want, the lawyer you’ll need,” “The security you want, the legal protection you’ll need,” or, “The lawyer you want, the questions you’ll need to ask”.

Like these? They’re yours.

Developing the habit of collecting titles and ideas will pay many dividends. Continually fill your idea folder, regularly sift through it, and you’ll never run out of things to write about or effective headlines or titles to describe them.

I save my ideas in Evernote

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Newsletters: I don’t have enough to write about

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YOU: I’d like to start a newsletter but I don’t think I have enough to write about. Can you help?

ME: I understand. You can only write so much about legal topics (although you can probably write more than you think.)

Similarly, you can only write so much about your personal life (although you can probably write more than you think.)

The solution? Write about the people who are reading your newsletter.

Your clients. Prospects. People in your target market. Write about what they do, what they want, their problems, their desires, their struggles and their victories.

Write about news in their industry or community. Write about the people, the events, the blogs, the litigation, the legislation, the past, present, and future.

Write about the businesses, consultants, and professionals who sell to or advise the people in that market. Promote their content, events, products, and services.

Study your market and write about it.

Your readers will eat it up and come back for seconds and you’ll never run out of things to write about.

How to create a newsletter that pulls in business

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An easy way to show your clients some love

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It’s been crazy around here the past week. We’re close to the fires and concerned about them spreading our way. Every day, the sky is filled with smoke and helicopters and planes buzzing overhead.

We’ll probably be okay but you never know.

Our credit union sent us an email that was on point. It said, “In the Wildfire Zone?” They wanted us to know that we are their number one priority and they hope we are safe. They offered some tips for being prepared in case we’re ordered to evacuate.

Things like planning where we’ll go (and making sure they take pets), having a “go bag” of clothes, supplies, credit cards, meds, and extra cash, making sure the gas tank is full, and gathering up important documents to take with us.

They also provided a link to ready.org, which has more information about evacuation planning.

Most of the emails we get from them are about “business”. It’s nice to know they are thinking about us and providing helpful information on an important topic. It’s important even for those who aren’t in the fire zone.

Note that they didn’t write the underlying information about what to put in a go bag, which papers to include in an “important papers” file or evacuation planning, they simply provided links to existing websites.

How difficult would it be for you to send your clients an email like this? About what to do in case of fire or flood, earthquake or hurricane, or other disasters?

Not difficult at all.

But your clients will appreciate you for thinking of them, nevertheless.

In fact, there are plenty of consumer-related topics you could write about: insurance, credit, crime prevention, retirement, refinancing and many more.

Ten minutes of research and some links to other people’s websites will do the trick.

For extra credit, interview some subject matter experts. Here’s how I did that and turned it into a book.

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If not email, what? If not now, when?

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You know that it’s much easier (and less expensive) to get a client to hire you again than to get a new client. You know that the number one reason people who can refer (or refer more often) don’t do it is that they “just didn’t think about it”. You know the value of staying in touch with prospective clients until they are ready to hire you.

So, what are you doing to stay in touch?

Regular mail is expensive. You can’t possibly call everyone on the phone, even if you wanted to. Social media is not the answer. A Christmas card once a year won’t get the job done.

Nothing personal, but my guess is that if you’re not using email to stay in touch with clients and contacts, you’re not staying in touch at all.

And that’s sad because it means you’re working too hard and spending too much to bring in business.

Email is cheap. It’s easy to use. And it’s the simplest way to remind people about what you do and how you can help them.

You don’t have to write every day, or even once a week.

You don’t have to write brilliant prose. A few hundred words about something you saw online, a client story, a smartphone app you like, and you’re golden.

C’mon, what do I talk about half the time? Nothing that’s going to wind up in the National Register, that’s for sure.

More important than what you say is that you say something often enough to remind people that you’re still around. So they call you instead of another attorney.

Two lawyers. One sends an email to his clients and contacts once or twice a month, the other never does. If that’s all you know about these two lawyers, which one do you think will get more repeat business and referrals?

I know, I tell you this a lot. Two reasons. First, many lawyers still don’t use email or use it enough, and I feel duty-bound to remind them. Second, it’s easy for me to do that because all I have to do is type a few words, click a few buttons, and within a few minutes, you’re reading it.

What a concept.

How to use email to make your phone ring

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