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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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Stealing from other lawyers

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Yesterday, I said you should plagiarize yourself, that is, take your previously written, recorded, and presented material and re-use or re-purpose it. I also suggested that you pay attention to the emails, documents, and other materials sent to you by other lawyers, and use it for ideas for creating your own materials.

Today, I’m going to take things a bit further and suggest you blatantly steal from other lawyers.

Now, don’t lose your lunch. I’m not going to tell you to do anything illegal, immoral, unethical, or unbecoming of a professional.

What I mean is this:

Go online and find content in your practice area that other attorneys are publishing–on their blogs, in guest posts, articles and anywhere else you can find it. Look especially for material that is getting a lot of traffic, upvotes (Medium), Likes, shares, comments, and so on. You might use a tool like Buzzsumo.

Once you’ve found some popular articles, look for ways to cover the same subject or idea in a different or better way. A few ideas:

  • Take a post by a lawyer in another state and write a version of that post for your state
  • Write a more in-depth article on the subject, or a shorter, more accessible summary
  • Write a version of the article for a different type of client or market
  • Link to the article and provide additional arguments, stories, statutes, or case law, to support the argument posited in the article and why you agree with it
  • Link to the article and show why you disagree with it or explain when and why things can be different
  • Take one section of the article and explore it in depth
  • Take something barely mentioned (or not mentioned) in the article but relevant to the subject and write about it
  • Interview or survey other attorneys or subject matter experts on the subject for your own article

Re-write the headline, optimize the headline and body for keywords you target, and you’ll not only have new content for your blog or website, you’ll have something you know is likely to bring traffic and engagement.

And you’ll never again say, “I don’t know what to write about”.

More ideas here

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Eighty percent of success is showing up

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Woody Allen famously said, “Eighty percent of success is showing up.” Being where you need to be when you need to be there.

In the context of marketing legal services, that means showing up when someone needs your help. But how do you do that?

You don’t know when someone will be in a collision, want to file for divorce, or start a business. You don’t know when someone is unhappy with their current attorney and is looking for a replacement.

And if you don’t know, you can’t show up. Or maybe you can.

You can create search engine optimized content so that when someone needs a lawyer and goes looking, they can find you.

You can write articles and run ads in publications and on websites where your target market is likely to see them.

You can educate your clients about who would make a good client for you and the best way to refer them and let them keep their eyes and ears open for you. You can do the same thing with professionals and other referral sources.

These strategies will help you get your name and message in front of prospective clients when they need your help. But there’s another strategy you should consider.

You should get your name and message in front of prospective clients before they need you.

You do that through a newsletter, a blog, a podcast, or a video channel. You build a list of subscribers and you stay in touch with them, sharing your knowledge and showing them how you can help them. As you do that, they see your passion and commitment to their niche or local market. They get to know, like, and trust you, and when they need your services (or know someone who does), you’ll be right there, ready to help.

Many lawyers do marketing sporadically. When you understand the value of building a list of prospective clients and you “bake” marketing into your daily method of operation, when you are never not marketing, you are never without clients.

Start or improve your marketing with this

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I love it when a plan comes together

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Yesterday, I poked you in the eye and dared you to write an email newsletter to your clients and prospects, or if you already do that, to do it more.

Gordon Firemark practices in Los Angeles and is a long time subscriber and friend. He told me what he does email-wise and kindly agreed to let me share it with you:

Hi David,

Just to add to what you’ve said about emails… Often the challenge for people is not knowing where to start… So having “framework” set up in advance makes it much easier.

Here’s what I do for my weekly newsletter emails.

1. Something “this week” related or personal. (i.e., “This day in legal history”, Trivia, etc.) ( This typically takes a quick google search if I don’t already have something in mind.)

2. Something “curated” – “I read this blog post about ___ and thought you should know about it…” (just bookmark it when I see it during the week)

4. Something I have created or made (video, podcast episode, blog post, or a downloadable checklist, worksheet, etc.) ( which allows me to segment the list based on who downloads what materials) (this is the heavy lifting, but I’m doing it pretty regularly. If not, I do a throwback to something I did last year, or whatever)

5. Some kind of OFFER: “Call for a consultation about [trademark registration|forming a corporation|collaboration agreement] etc.]” “Sign up for Xyz”

6. And a quick personal-feeling sign-off: “enjoy the weekend.. I’m going to the ___ film festival, what are you up to?”

And done. 6-8 paragraphs that almost write themselves. And I’ve got an appointment on my calendar each week that’s set-aside for creating this.

Easy as pie. (and if I’m coming up short on one of these once in a while, I just omit it)

I always try to ask a question that gets them to respond to me… (like I’m doing now), since the engagement improves relationships. My favorite: “What are you struggling with about XYZ these days? What problem can I help you solve?”

Here’s last week’s as an example: https://ckarchive.com/b/mvu7h5hq98od

This went out to a few thousand people on my list. I got dozens of responses to the questions about struggles (valuable data)… 5 unsubscribes, and 3 booked appointments for trademark consultation, which I predict will lead to about $5000 in business. (about half of that already in hand) Not bad.

Thanks for all you do.

-Gordon

So, there you go. Email newsletters work. And if you use a “framework” like Gordon does, you’ll have an easier time of it.

Or you can do like I do, fart out some words and click “send”. Whatever floats your boat.

Anyway, I hope this inspires you to start a newsletter and most of all, to have some fun with it.

Because if it’s not fun, you’re not doing it right.

More

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Forget pretty. Forget brilliant. Just fart out some words.

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When was the last time you sent an email to your list? No, not to a client about a specific case, I mean an email you send to all clients and former clients and prospective clients, staying in touch, sharing information, reminding them that you’re still in business.

Yeah, like a newsletter.

Too much time? Look, if you can’t invest 30 minutes a week for marketing, I can’t help you.

Too much effort? Me thinks not. You write every day. A little more writing won’t kill you.

Nah, there are only two reasons why you’re not doing this. The first is that you’re not sure it will be worth it. Will you really get more business? (Don’t tell me you’re practice is different. It’s not.) Anyway, the only way to resolve this debate is to try it.

What if it does work? What if you’re able to bring in several new clients each month just from writing emails once a week?

The other reason why you don’t commit to writing a newsletter is that you’re scared. What if you inadvertently say something that offends someone? What if your clients say you’re emailing too often? What if you make a sincere effort and it doesn’t work?

Get over it.

Seriously. You owe it to yourself to start or restart a simple email “newsletter” to stay in touch with the people who pay your bills and can send you referrals. You owe it to yourself to see how effective this is for building your practice.

Look, marketing doesn’t get any simpler than this. Once a week you email a few paragraphs to people you know. You share some information, a story, a resource, or anything else that strikes your fancy, and you don’t worry about making it perfect.

If it helps, don’t call it a newsletter. It’s just an email.

Yes, I know I talk about this a lot. Nag, nag, nag. I’m your annoying little brother, right? But you know why I do it, don’t you? And deep down, you know I’m right.

Learn how to start your newsletter 

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Wanna know my secret?

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A subscriber sent an email recently, praising my newsletter. I share it with you because it reveals my “secret” for building readership, fans, and clients.

See if you can spot the secret:


David

Thank you for your newsletter.

Yours is one of the few newsletters that I read everyday!!!

It always adds value and it is not always hyping the latest greatest webinar or makes me watch a 5-minute video to find out if I am even interested (which means I usually DONT watch the video).

I like how you provide value in a time efficient manner but also include a link for more information.

To me, this positions you as a more credible expert who gets someone’s interest by providing value so the person wants to learn more.

If I have to jump through a lot of hoops (aka watch a bunch of LONG videos) then I will probably never do it.

By the way, I have bought several of your publications and books.

Have a great day!!

He also forwarded an email he got as an example of what he doesn’t like. It was a freak show of graphics, hype, and obnoxious calls to action. A melange of “yuck”. (It was also unclear what they were even selling).

If you compare that mess with my emails, you’ll know that my secret isn’t really a secret at all.

It’s not that my emails are plain text emails instead of a “pretty” HTML newsletter, although that’s part of it. It’s not that I’m not “in your face” with aggressive sales pitches and hype and zero value. It’s not that I just say what I want to say instead of forcing you to go watch videos.

It’s not any of those things, it’s all of them. And more.

It’s the subject matter of the emails. I share ideas that can help you increase your income, be more productive, and make your day a little less stressful and a little more fun.

It’s the stories I tell, often based on personal experience, which illustrate my points and provide a glimpse into me, the person, and not just me, the attorney.

It’s my informality and (lame) humor. You may not laugh but you won’t fall asleep.

It’s that I write “to” you, not “at” you. Just the two of us, having a chat.

And it’s the brevity of the messages. In a few minutes, you get a dose of something to think about or something to do. I give homework, but it’s not overwhelming.

The secret is that I write what I would want to read. And because I was in your shoes for many years, I know what you want to read.

So there you have it. Write to your clients and prospects what you would want to read. You know them, so give them what they want.

Keep it short. Keep it real. Keep it simple. And have some fun with it.

If you do, your clients will look forward to hearing from you, praise you, and buy everything you sell.

Here’s how to use email to build your practice

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Small but tasty morsels versus a huge buffet

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As I’ve mentioned, I’m a beta tester for a plain text writing app under development. The app still has a way to go, but I’m excited about its future.

I don’t use the app every day, however. I’m using another new plain text app which is further along in the development curve. In fact, I’m using it right now to write this post.

The two apps approach releases differently. With the first app, months go by with no news and then we get a big update.

The second app provides small updates almost every week.

When I get notified that the next update is available, I get excited. Even though the updates are usually minor, I can’t wait to download the app and try it out.

But this isn’t about writing apps or software development. It’s about the psychological effect of frequent updates and why you should use them to connect with your clients and contacts.

Don’t save up all your news and information and send a big newsletter once or twice a year, as many lawyers do. Send shorter messages more often.

A few paragraphs is all you need. Mention the new article on your website. Offer a legal tip. Talk about an interesting case or client. Recommend a book, website, or app.

Say something interesting or entertaining and your clients will look forward to hearing from you.

No, they probably won’t get as excited about your news as I get about updates to writing apps. But whatever level of interest they have will be enhanced by hearing from you often instead of once in awhile.

How to get more clients online

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