Do you talk too much?

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Many lawyers are verbose. They use 100 words to explain something when five or ten will do. They “bury the lead” under paragraphs or pages of background information. They clear their throat for ten minutes before they get to their first point.

Early in my career, I did this. I’d like to think I’ve nipped that habit in the bud.

Why are lawyers like this?

Could be because we were taught to be thorough, to leave no stone unturned in our efforts to persuade.

I’m sure some lawyers want to impress people with the depth of their knowledge, the breadth of their experience, or the thoroughness of their research.

Some want to display their intelligence. Some want to hide their shortcomings behind a wall of words.

And, in a profession that often equates value in terms of time, more words or pages or minutes can mean more income.

But most people, especially high-achieving, busy people, don’t want or need all the details. They want their lawyer to get to the point.

They want us to be more concise.

How do you do that? How do you write an email, memo, or article, or do a presentation, that clearly and concisely says what you want to say, and no more?

How do you persuade someone to do something or believe something, without taking them to school?

Knowing your audience helps. What do they already know about the subject? What questions are they likely to have? What problems do they want to solve, and what’s in it for them if they follow your advice?

Confine yourself to what you know your reader or listener wants or needs to know and leave the scholarship on the bookshelf.

Providing examples and stories helps. Help the reader understand what you mean, with fewer words, by showing instead of telling.

Re-writing and editing help. Cut out the fluff, use shorter sentences and paragraphs, and make the page scannable with lots of white space, bullet points and numbering.

More than anything, see if you can boil down your message to a single idea.

Ask yourself, “What’s the ONE thing I want my reader (or listener) to take away from this?”

What do you want them to know, believe, or do?

Use that as the lead to your presentation, the subject line in your email, or the conclusion of your article.

And once you’ve delivered that takeaway, stop talking.

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Why I don’t have an email signature

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At the end of my emails, after I “sign” my name, you won’t find anything more than a link to my website.

No social media links, logos, or images. No list of my credentials, disclaimers, or anything else.

This is true for both my newsletter and personal email.

Why do I do this?

One reason: I don’t want to look like everyone else.

When everything is pretty, you stand out by being ugly. When everyone’s email looks like an ad, a magazine article, or a web page, you stand out by looking like someone who banged out some words (to a friend) and clicked send.

I don’t want to look like I’m trying to impress anyone, or pushing products or services like a carnival barker.

That doesn’t mean I don’t promote anything. I do that in almost every email. But unless I’m writing a full-on sales pitch, my promotional efforts lean more towards “informing” or “recommending” rather than selling.

Email is a medium of personal communication. Even if it is sent to thousands, it’s just the two of us spillin some tea.

If you like what you read, if you’re interested in learning more, you can follow the link to my website, or follow the second link I provide to the applicable sales page, and see what it’s all about.

Like this: If you want to learn more about using email to build your practice, check out my email marketing for attorneys course.

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Timeless or Timely?

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If you produce content for a blog, a newsletter, a podcast, or anywhere else, one question you need to answer is how much of that content should be evergreen.

Evergreen content is important because that’s what first-time visitors to your blog and new subscribers to your newsletter are looking for. They have questions or a problem and they’re looking for answers.

If you’re starting a new blog, make sure you have at least 10 or 15 evergreen posts to start out.

Talk about the kinds of things clients typically ask you about. Talk about problems and solutions, risks and benefits, frequently asked questions about your services, and the like.

These serve as the foundation of your blog, attracting visitors though search and sharing, and helping them to understand their situation and learn what you do and how you can help them.

Once you have some evergreen content posted, you can write about anything else, whether timeless or timely.

Write about your interesting cases or clients, news in your target market’s industry or niche, trends, ideas, and more.

Yes?

One more thing.

On a blog, you have the option to indicate the date each post was published, something I’ve done since I started and still do today. Some visitors, however, see an older date and conclude that the information is out of date, even if it’s not.

Omitting the date, on the other hand, as many bloggers do, may cause visitors to wonder how current the information is, and reject it if no date can be found.

If you’re wondering what you should do, take a gander at what Darren Rowse of Problogger.com says about the pros and cons of timestamping blog posts.

And, for more about the kinds of content to include on your blog or website–what to write about, where to get ideas–check out my course on online marketing.

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How long did it take you to read this?

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I’ve seen a lot of attorney’s newsletters. Some provide excellent content. Many don’t.

Some are interesting and are well-written. Many aren’t.

Some reflect the personality of the writer. Most don’t. Especially the “store-bought” (canned) newsletters.

Some are written in html and look “pretty”. Some (like mine) are plain text and look ugly as hell.

But despite these differences, most of these newsletters share one trait that makes it much less likely anyone will read them: they’re too long.

They have too much information, too many links, too many calls-to-action. They ask you to read too much and do too much and most people who get these missives do none-of-the-above.

Most people (even now) are busy. They don’t have time to read a long newsletter, even if they’re interested in the subject(s). What do they do? The same thing you and I do when we don’t have time to read something, we save it for later (which almost never arrives) or we delete the sucker.

Yes, there is value in having people see that you wrote them, even if they don’t open the email. They see your name and are reminded that you’re still around. When and if they need your services, they’ll go find one of your archived emails and read it.

(So don’t stop emailing.)

But, let’s face it, having people read your newsletter is a ‘ho lot better. They get to know you and trust you and feel a kinship with you. They get to hear about how you’ve helped other clients. They find out about other matters you handle.

All of which results in more clients for you.

So, if you want people to read your emails, keep ’em short. Short enough that they can read them in a minute or two.

Like this one.

Want to know how to write emails that get read (and acted upon)? Get my Email Marketing for Attorneys video course.

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The simplest way to get more referrals

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I built my practice with referrals, prrimarily from my clients. What was my secret?

No, it wasn’t asking for referrals, although I did that and it’s a lot easier (and more productive) than you may think.

It wasn’t giving them something I call “referral devices”–a report, brochure, or referral card they could pass along to friends and family. But that works, too.

And it wasn’t doing good work for my clients, exceeding their expectations, and treating them exceptionally well, although that always has been, and always will be, the foundation of repeat business and referrals.

These strategies work, but I promised to tell you the simplest way to get more referrals. My secret, only it’s not a secret at all. You hear me talk about it all the time.

The simplest way to get more referrals is to stay in touch with your clients, past and present, because while they may never need to hire you again, they can and will send you referrals, and they’ll do that more often when you stay in touch with them.

Stay in touch with the people who already know, like, and trust you and they will lead you to other people. It really is that simple.

What’s the simplest way to stay in touch with people? You already know the answer to that, too. Email is easy, inexpensive, and massively effective. And because you can automate your email stay-in-touch efforts, it doesn’t take up much time.

Would you be willing to invest 30 minutes a week writing an email to your list if it allowed you to triple your referrals?

What do you write? How do you get started?

I show you everything you need to know and do in my Email Marketing for Attorneys program.

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Why subscribers leave, and how to get them back

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If you want to drive yourself crazy, look at the number of email “unsubscribes” you get each week.

Yeah, don’t do that. People come and people go. Don’t obsess over your numbers.

People leave for all kinds of reasons:

  • They satisfied their legal need or their problem went away
  • They thought you did X and didn’t know you really did Y
  • They forgot who you were or that they signed up, (probably because you mail too infrequently)
  • They think you email too often (NB: you probably don’t)
  • They only signed up to get your “freebie”
  • They don’t see the value in your newsletter or posts
  • You said something they didn’t like

Who knows?

Sure, you’d prefer them to stay. They may hire you someday or refer someone. They may share your content or promote your events. They may provide you with useful questions, feedback, and ideas for content.

The best way to keep people from leaving is to write things people want to read. Something valuable and interesting.

But people will still leave.

Can you get them back? Maybe.

Continue writing valuable content and encouraging your subscribers to share it. They may share it with someone who used to be on your list.

Keep promoting your sign-up page. Some lapsed subscribers may see it.

Keep doing what you’ve been doing and some of your subscribers will come back.

They may have a new legal problem. they see your name somewhere and realize they miss your pithy missives.

But let’s face it. It’s much easier to get new subscribers than to figure out how to get lapsed subscribers to return.

Here’s how to do that

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Do you trust me?

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If you’ve been getting my emails for a while, there’s a good chance you trust me, at least enough to open the email and read what I say.

If I recommend a marketing idea, you’re inclined to try it. If I have something for you to buy, you’ll probably take a look. If you know someone who might need what I offer, you’re open to recommending me.

And it works the same way with you and the people on your list.

We write a newsletter, we write a blog, we post on social media, because, among other things, it helps us build trust.

And, as Seth Godin said in Permission Marketing, to be heard, you’ve got to earn trust.

Otherwise, our messages get drowned out by the messages of (so many) others.

When you get referrals, trust is part of the deal. The prospective client trusts you because his friend or advisor trusts you. When you speak at an organization’s event, the audience tends to trust you because you were invited to speak by an organization they trust.

When you advertise, there is no trust. You can point at various trust elements, e.g., your experience, etc., but there’s more doubt than trust. That’s why the rate of response is so low.

When you blog or write a newsletter, you build trust by showing up and delivering value, and by doing it consistently over time.

The nice thing about having a blog (podcast, video channel) is that all of the content you previously created is available for visitors to see. You can build trust faster that way.

We create content to attract prospective clients, and once they visit our blog or sign up for our newsletter, to build trust and encourage them to take the next step.

I have a course that shows you how to do that with email; details here

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How to write faster blog posts, emails, and articles

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What if writing was as easy (and quick) as opening a template and filling in the blanks?

You’ll still need to edit and polish but you might be able to turn out articles in minutes instead of hours.

Templates make a first draft easier because you know “what goes where”. You’ll know, for example, that after two paragraphs that introduce the subject, you need 3 points or examples, but not 5. You’ll know how many bullet points to include and where to put them. And you can insert a pre-written call to action to close.

Using templates to map out the bones of your writing will allow you to write faster and better because they let you focus on the message, not the structure.

Where do you get these templates? By reverse-engineering existing articles and posts.

When you read an article you like, save it, study it, and figure out why it works. Make notes of the elements:

  • How many words?
  • How many paragraphs?
  • How many headings and sub-heads?
  • How many bullet points?
  • What’s the lead or hook?
  • Why should the reader care (benefits)?
  • What proof is offered?
  • What examples or stories?
  • What’s the call to action?

Create a simple template that incorporates these elements. You can use it for first drafts or to improve a sloppy first draft.

You should also do this with your own writing. Add additional notes to explain why you said what you said, other options you considered, and feedback you got from your readers.

Start with one template. Use it, refine it, and use it again. You may find that one template is all you need to write most of your posts but you can always add more.

The Easy Way to Write a Book

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5 ways to build trust

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Marketing isn’t just telling people what you do and how you can help them. Marketing requires targeting the right people with the right problems and providing them with the right message and offer.

One of the biggest hurdles is building trust.

People are scared about their legal situation and skeptical about your ability to help them. They don’t know if you’re competent, honest, or charge reasonable fees.

They may like what you say but if they don’t trust you, they often keep looking.

It usually takes time to build trust, but here are 5 ways to speed up the process:

  1. Referrals. Prospective clients “borrow” trust from the people who refer them, thus making them more likely to hire you. Referral marketing shortens the sales process, saves time and money, and usually brings in better clients.
  2. Content marketing. Blog posts, articles, presentations, etc., allow you to show people what you know, what you do, and how you work with your clients. This works even better when you are published by or interviewed on authority sites or podcasts or speak at industry events.
  3. Social proof. Ask people to share your content with their friends and neighbors, colleagues, clients and customers. Get testimonials and reviews from clients and endorsements from influential people.
  4. Free consultations. Let people sample your advice and demeanor, hear more about what you can do to help them, and get their questions answered straight from the horse’s mouth.
  5. Build a list and stay in touch. A simple email newsletter allows you to build trust over time. It helps you get more clients, more referrals, more people sharing your content, book more free consultations, and get more testimonials and reviews.

If you want to see how to use a newsletter to build your practice, go here

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Writing is easier and more effective if you do this

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Everyone says we should write to and for our reader. We should have in mind an avatar of what they’re like and what they want and address ourselves to that person.

To be more relatable, we should use examples and references that conform to their life experience and world view. To get a higher response to our ideas and offers, we should talk about the benefits we know they need and want.

Yes, everyone says we should do this in our blog posts, articles, newsletter, and social media posts.

Including me.

But while this is generally good advice, it makes writing more difficult and less effective because when we appeal to one person or one ideal reader, we tend to exclude everyone else.

Sounds like a conundrum.

But there’s a solution.

Instead of writing for your ideal reader, write for yourself.

In your first draft, write what you want to write and say it the way you want to say it. Because if what you write resonates with you, it will resonate with others.

If you free your writing this way, you’ll attract your target audience organically. And it will be an audience that relates to you and likes you and tends to trust you.

Because you’re like them.

Then, write your second draft for your readers.

Tailor your message and offers to them. Add relevant examples and stories and use terminology they will recognize and understand.

The first draft is for you. The second draft is for your reader.

In case you’re wondering, the third draft is for your editor. Or someone else who’s got your back.

How to write a newsletter that brings in more business

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