A newsletter is a sales letter

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The objective of every newsletter your write is to get your subscribers to do something.

To call for an appointment or to ask questions, to reply and give you their opinion, or to share something you wrote with people they know, just to name a few.

And, you have to convince readers to do that.

That’s why you write a newsletter, after all.

This doesn’t mean being pushy or sales-y or anything less than professional. On the contrary. Your professional demeanor is an important element in persuading readers to listen.

But you can’t be boring.

Too many lawyers see the function of their newsletter as a mechanism to deliver information. Information is valuable but it’s not everything.

And too much information is often. . . boring.

You need to talk to your readers.

You have to write copy that addresses their emotional needs in a relatable way.

You want to come across as authoritative, trustworthy and likable. Someone who understands what your readers want and how they think.

And, once you’ve done that, you want to tell them what to do next.

Before you send your next issue, read it out loud and ask yourself how it sounds. If a lawyer sent this to you, what would you think about them?

If you want to see how to do it right, head over to this page

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A newsletter isn’t a newspaper

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Some lawyers’ email newsletters are too long. They cram too much information into each “issue”.

This is especially true of newsletters that are published infrequently.

You can see the logic. If you publish once a month, you’ve got a lot more to say than if you publish daily. But only the stalwart reads these tomes.

Most people don’t.

They may skim them, to see if anything catches their eye, but when there’s nothing but lengthy discussions about the law and documents and procedure, eyes glaze over and your reader is not long for this world.

Do this consistently and they won’t even open your email.

The solution is simple. In addition to being shorter–something that can be read in a minute or two–your newsletter needs to have some “human interest”.

You’ve got to talk about people.

Your clients. Litigants in cases you’ve read about. People in your community or in your client’s niche market.

Your office staff, your family, your neighbors, and yourself.

It’s not difficult to do. Just uncommon. But if you want people to read what you write, which is kind of the point, you’ve got to give them what they want, and they want to read about people.

Something else. When you write about the law or the news, don’t “brief” them, tell them what you think about it.

Because people want to know what you think.

Because that’s how they get to know you, which is the first step towards building a relationship with you and hiring you or sending you traffic and referrals.

If you want to know how to write a newsletter people want to read, without breaking a sweat, check out my email marketing course.

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You should read this

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Some people think we shouldn’t tell people what to do. We should give them the options and let them decide.

Tell them what they “could” do, not what they “should” do.

I understand the sentiment but when someone looks to you for advice, they want you to tell them what to do.

When a client hires you to advise him, you can (and should) present different ways to do it, but then, tell him which option is best. They’re paying for your experience and judgment. They want to know what you recommend.

When you tell them, you’re telling them what they “should” do.

Tell your clients what they should do.

(Yes, I’m telling you what you should do. Not what you might do. You can choose to follow my advice or reject it. But at least you know what I recommend.)

You should also tell your newsletter and blog readers and presentation attendees what to do. With less specificity, of course, because you don’t know the specifics of their situation. But if you have recommendations about what someone should do in a given situation, tell them what to do.

I saw an article this morning about this subject in the context of employers and employees. The article said we should tell our staff what they “could” do, not what they “should” do.

Yes, you want to empower your staff to think for themselves and not come to you with every little issue, but if you want your secretary to call someone or email someone or bring you something, telling them what they could do or might do is just silly.

You’re not going to say, “I’m running late for my 2 O’clock with Mr. Jones. You could call him to re-schedule.”

You’re going to tell your secretary to call.

Be nice about it. Say please and thank you. But tell her.

That’s what you should do.

Questions about what to write in a newsletter? Here are the answers

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Stealing ideas for fun and profit

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Ideas are a dime a dozen, it is said; execution is the key to success.

So, if you need ideas–for your newsletter, blog, or presentation–look at what others are writing and copy them.

Not literally. Write what they’re writing about, but make it better. Or different.

Take the idea and add your own spin. Infuse it with your own examples or stories. Add more arguments, more points and authorities, or take an opposing view.

Steal the idea and make it your own.

If you produce any kind of content, you should follow other lawyers in your field, to see what they’re writing about. Follow their posts, read their blog, sign up for their newsletter.

Do the same with lawyers in allied fields, as well as business owners, bloggers, and others who sell to, advise, or write for the niches or industries you target.

The world is awash with ideas. More ideas than you could ever use, right there for the taking.

Ideas really aren’t a dime a dozen. You can get all you need for free.

If you’ve got original ideas, great. The world wants to hear them. But if not, don’t feel guilty about using someone else’s idea.

They probably got it from someone else.

Taking other people’s ideas and making them your own is at the heart of invention and art. As Salvador Dali reminds us, “Those who do not want to imitate anything, produce nothing.”

For more ways to find ideas, and more ways to make them your own, check out my email marketing course.

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“I thought I was being considerate”

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David Gaughran is an author and I’m on his email list. His latest newsletter issues a warning to those of us who write a newsletter, and those who want to.

He tells how he made a pact with his readers, telling them that if they signed up for his list, he would promise not to email them until he had a new book coming out.

“I thought I being considerate. I thought it would attract more people to my list. . . I thought most readers wouldn’t really care to hear from me in-between releases, and that I’d run out of things to say. . . I was wrong–so very, very wrong.”

What happened?

“People forgot who I was. Open rates fell. . . fewer and fewer were clicking and less again were buying. Reviews were dropping. Sales were increasingly tepid. It was a cascading clusterfudge of exponential fail.”

Emailing your list occasionally, e.g, only when you have an announcement or something “important” to say, is not the way to build a responsive list.

What is a responsive list?

A list that looks forward to hearing from you and reading what you write.

A list that comes to know, like, and trust you because of what you write, and then hires you or re-hires you.

A list of people who may never need your services (or need them again) but know people who do and refer them to you.

A list of people who tell others about your events, your videos, your articles, and your newsletter, and thus help you build your list.

Not a list of people who forget who you are or that they signed up on your list.

Gaughran has seen the error of his ways and is changing his approach. If your list isn’t responsive, or isn’t as responsive as you’d like, you might do the same.

It’s not difficult. Write something your list wants to read and send it to them often.

If you’d like to learn how to do that effectively, and why it’s a lot easier than you might think, head on over to this page to learn more.

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Oops

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Got an email recently from a business consultant who contacts me a few times a year.

That’s her first mistake. A few times a year and people forget who you are or why they signed up on your list. Or IF you signed up on your list.

But I remembered her and didn’t send her email to spam.

Unfortunately, even though we’ve spoken, she didn’t remember me.

Her email started like this: “Hi David”.

So far, so good.

Then it said, “As a female entrepreneur or professional who provides a service paid by the hour, or by the session, I would love your thoughts.

I am doing important research about business women like you and would much appreciate 15 minutes of your time.”

Yeah, not female, don’t charge by the hour, don’t have sessions.

And that’s why I usually don’t segment my lists and when I do, I keep it simple.

Because if you make a mistake, you lose credibility and subscribers.

Put me on a list of professionals or consultants or brilliant minds, we’re good. Put me on a list of people who haven’t bought, ditto.

Or, put me on one list, along with all of your subscribers, and don’t sweat the details.

Then you can write, “If you’re a female entrepreneur. . .”

And not worry about making a mistake (or trying to clean up your lists after you hear from a bunch of subscribers who are on the wrong list.)

Now. . . don’t misunderstand.

When you do segment your lists and you know precisely to whom you’re speaking, it’s good to be able to show them you know who they are and what they do.

When you write to a niche market, for example, you want to talk about issues that pertain to that market. You want to use industry-specific terms and tell stories about people in that niche.

When you do that, your readers see that you “get” them and you often get a higher response.

Just be careful. Make sure you haven’t messed up your lists.

And if you’re not sure, make sure you say, “If. . .”.

Email marketing for attorneys

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4 out 5 people don’t open your emails (and that’s okay)

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The “open rate” for emails in the legal “industry” is 22%, according to this article. About average, it turns out, across all industries. 

So, why do I rap incessantly about how effective email is for marketing a law practice?

Because a low open rate doesn’t matter. Just seeing your name show up in their email inbox makes a difference. 

Not everyone who gets your email needs your services when your email arrives. Nor do they have time to read every message. But, every time they get an email from you, they see that you’re still helping people solve legal problems and still sending out your newsletter as promised. 

You make an impression every time you send. 

And, when they do need you, or talk to someone who needs your help, they remember you are in their life (and inbox) and read your latest. 

You may be curious about my “open rate”. It must be through the roof, right?

I don’t know. I don’t track my open rate or click rate or any other rate. It’s not important to me. As long as I’m getting sales, that’s all that counts. 

I write something I think you’ll find interesting or useful, makes you think or makes you laugh. I tell you about my products and services, books and course, and tell you what they can do for you. 

As long as people buy or hire me, I’m good.

I don’t get bogged down in the minutia. I don’t sweat the small stuff or spend a lot of time trying to write the perfect missive.

I put some words on “paper” and send it out.

Which is precisely what you should do with your newsletter.  

You can learn everything you need to know right here.

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Never forget rule #1

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Rule #1 of marketing: Nobody cares about you, they only care about themselves.

They don’t care about your office move–unless your new office is more convenient for them. They don’t care about your new website design–unless it makes it easier for them to find things they want. They don’t care about your vacation, what you ate for dinner, how you broke your leg or the birth of your latest grandchild.

Not really.

They may be mildly curious, they may congratulate you or wish you a speedy recovery, but they have their own lives to lead and they care about that far more than anything–or anyone–else.

I’m not saying you should never mention news about your work or anything about your personal life. You should. It allows people to get to know you better and that’s a good thing.

Just don’t talk about it too much or too often or think that anyone really cares.

Because they don’t.

Instead, talk about things they care about. Things that interest them or help improve their life or their business.

Talk about THEM. Name names if you’re able and talk about their business or industry something going on in their neighborhood.

If you target tech professionals, for example, talk about market trends (laws, changes, news, etc.) that affect them. Talk about people they know or might want to hear about. Talk about problems and solutions, predictions and stories related to their niche.

They’ll read every word you write.

They’ll also see you as someone who understands and supports them and they will share your content and recommend you to their colleagues and advisors.

You’ll build a reputation in their niche as THE attorney for that niche. Which means your marketing will be easier, less expensive, and more effective.

Where do you get all this information? From your clients and from other professionals who target that market, and from doing some research.

Inside Email Marketing for Attorneys, I’ve included guidelines to help you do that.

To see what it’s all about, go to Email Marketing for Attorneys.

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Never before, never again

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When you want people to do something–read your post, register for your event, take you up on your offer–it’s almost always a good idea to use an appeal to urgency.

You want to convey the feeling that what you’re offering or promoting has “never before been available, and it never will again.”

You probably won’t say those words (although you might) but that’s the feeling you want to convey.

Urgency is an important tool in your marketing toolbox because it’s tough enough to get people to do anything, even when it is in their best interests.

Urgency, special offers, scarcity, and other “devices” usually increase response. I use them. You should too.

Problem is, we know that most people are busy and don’t have time to watch every video or read every post.

I’m on a lot of lists and when I get an email telling me a certain video I wanted to watch will be taken down in 24 hours, more often than not, I delete the email and carry on with my day.

But here’s the thing.

When I get an email from certain people, I do everything in my power to watch the video or visit the page.

I trust and respect them and if they’re recommending it, I’m in.

I have a short (mental) list of people I follow that don’t have to try hard to “sell” me on anything. It doesn’t mean I’m going to buy everything they sell or recommend, just that they have earned the right to my attention.

I hope I have earned that right with you. That’s the goal. To be on your shortlist of “must-reads”–someone you respect and trust and listen to.

And that should be your goal with your list.

Most people won’t make the cut. But if you can earn the trust and loyalty of even a small percentage of the people on your list, you’ll be in good shape.

If you do it right, those people will keep your waiting room filled.

They’ll supply you with repeat business and referrals. They’ll send traffic to your website, promote your content and events, and otherwise help your list and your practice grow.

If you don’t have a list, it’s time to start one. If you do have a list, it’s time to send them something.

How to do email right

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Hard selling your list

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You have a list. You want your subscribers, friends, and followers to hire you, refer you, promote you, or otherwise do something that will (eventually) bring you more business.

That’s why you have a list, right?

You want people who have never hired you to pull the trigger. You want old clients to contact you about a new matter. You want referrals, reviews, sign-ups for your seminar, and you want people telling others about you or your content so you can build your list.

But you don’t want to overdo it. You don’t people on your list to leave or get pissed off and then leave. You don’t want people to think you’re too spammy or unprofessional.

So, how much is too much?

First, as long as you’re writing something your readers find interesting or valuable or that allows them to connect with you, you can’t write too often. Even every day is not too often.

So, not boring. Check.

But what about selling? How “pushy” or “salesy” can you be, should you be, and how much is too much?

In a nutshell: soft sell regularly and hard sell occasionally.

Yes, I said hard sell. You can (and should) do it because there are people on your list who need your help but need a little push. A hard sell from time to time may be just what they need to finally take action.

Good for them and obviously good for you.

Just don’t do it all the time because you’ll wear out your welcome.

We’ve all signed up on lists where everything we get is a hard sell. Pitch, pitch, pitch, urgency, scarcity, now or never, coming out of their pores.

Yeah, don’t be that guy.

Marketing is seduction. You can’t constantly ask your list to go to bed with you.

But this isn’t something most attorneys do. Most attorneys do the opposite.

They send lots of information but never sell anyone on anything.

News flash: you’re not in the information delivery business.

You’re in the helping business, so tell people what to do to get your help.

Tell your subscribers to make an appointment or call with questions or sign up for your next event.

Do that regularly because you never know when someone on your list is ready to take the next step.

While you’re at it, tell them to invite their friends to see your video, read your blog, or sign up for your newsletter. Their friends need your help, too.

Sometimes, you push a little. Sometimes, you push a lot. Sometimes, you add a link (and a few descriptive words) and let your readers decide if there’s something they should see.

In other words, mix it up.

In other words, be normal. Like you’re having an ongoing conversation with people you care about and want to have in your life for years to come.

Because you are.

My email course shows you how to do it right

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