Do you make this mistake in your newsletter?

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When you set up a new newsletter, one of the first things you’ll do is add one or more emails to the auto responder. These emails go out automatically as new subscribers sign up.

Typically, the first email will welcome them, tell them how often they can expect to receive your newsletter, provide a link to download the report or other incentive you promised, and a few other housekeeping matters.

But if that’s all it does, it’s missing the most important element.

Most people subscribe because they want the information you offer in your report. But they found your site or page because they were looking for an attorney to help them with a problem.

So, make sure your first email, and every email, tells them what to do to get your help.

Your contact information, sure, but more than that—tell them what to do and why.

Tell them to call or fill out a form. Tell them what happens when they do.

No, it’s not too soon to do that. No, you don’t need to send more information first, to warm them up and build value before you sell them on taking the next step.

They need help. They might be ready to talk to you and hire you today. So, tell them what to do.

If you don’t, their problem might get worse, or. . . they might call someone else.

You don’t have to hard sell. You don’t have to go into a lot of detail. But you should tell them what to do and why.

Show them the pathway to getting the help they need and want.

In every email.

Not everyone is ready to talk to you or hire immediately, of course, so deliver the information, too. Tell them about the law, their risks, their options.

But do that in addition to telling them to contact you, and why.

You might not need more than a sentence or two, with a phone number or a link. Sometimes, you’ll do more. But never do less.

How to build your practice with an email newsletter

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How to write an article or blog post in 10 minutes

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One reason lawyers tell me they don’t write a newsletter or blog (or don’t do it more often) is that they don’t have enough time.

I understand. But I disagree.

No matter how busy you are, you can write something once a week and post it on a blog or email it to a list.

You know that but you don’t do that, you say, because you don’t know what to write.

But you do.

You talk to people every day, about the law, procedure, issues, risks, problems and solutions. People ask questions, you answer them. People tell you about their situation, you tell them their options and what you can do to help them.

You’ve got so much to say, you don’t know where to start.

Start anywhere. With anything.

Make up a question prospective clients or new clients ask and answer it.

In a few minutes, you’ll have the first draft of an article.

If you can talk, you can write.

Actually, you could do that literally. Instead of writing, dictate. Speak, record and have someone else transcribe it, or use the speech-to-text function on your computer or phone.

“Yes, but writing is more difficult than speaking. Writing needs to be more structured and polished,” you say.

To some extent, that’s true. But not to the extent you think.

When you write an email to a client or a friend, how much structure and polish do you give it? My guess, not that much. Just enough to ensure your message is clear and relatively typo-free and out the door it goes.

You’re not writing an appellate brief, you’re writing an email.

And that’s precisely how you should write your newsletter or blog post.

Write (or dictate) an email, not an article. You’ll thank me later.

Email Marketing for Attorneys

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You don’t need to be a great writer to write great emails

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You’ll never be able to write an email newsletter that brings in new clients because you aren’t a great writer.

Is that what you believe?

Sorry to bust your bubble, but it’s not true.

You don’t need to be a great writer. You also don’t need complex tools, fancy graphics, or anything else you don’t already know or do when you send an email.

You don’t need to be sales-y or push people to do things they don’t want to do.

And you don’t need a lot of time.

All you need is an hour a week and the willingness to share some information about your field of law or your services.

Not kidding.

Most of my emails are only a few hundred words of plan text. I copy and paste my words into a form supplied by my email service provider. I edit and proofread and click a button to send that email to my list.

Can you do that?

Just like that, your newsletter is out the door and in the mailboxes of people who can hire you and/or refer you, reminding them about what you do and how you can help them.

Send them a weekly tip. Tell them a story about an interesting client or case you had (or read about). Give them the link to a video or website you suggest they check out.

Can it really be that simple?

It can.

If you want your list to grow, you’ll also want to do things like adding a sign-up form to your website, creating a report or other incentive to encourage visitors to sign up, and promoting your offer anywhere prospective clients might see it.

And you should, because the bigger your list, the more opportunities you have to bring in more business.

Here’s the thing.

Even if you’re terrible at all of this, you’ll get more clients, simply because you stayed in touch with people who can hire you, send traffic to your website, and tell others about you.

They’ll do that even if you’re not a great writer.

Email Marketing for Attorneys

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How to get more clients when you don’t have a big list

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Email marketing is one of the best ways to drive the growth of a law practice. And I recommend building your list immediately, if not sooner (as my grandfather used to say).

Building a list organically can take time, so while you’re doing that, there’s another way to use email to bring in clients, promote your events, or get more readers or listeners for your blog or channel.

You can leverage other people’s lists.

Get influential people in your niche to tell their subscribers about you, your seminar, your website, your book, your newsletter, or your services.

Think about this.. . .

One of the biggest reasons people hire a lawyer is because someone they know recommended them.

If you can get influential folks with a large audience (or even a small but well-targeted audience) to recommend you or something you offer, they do the selling for you.

And they’ll usually do it better than you could. . . because they’re not you.

How do you get in on this? How do you get others to promote you?

Unless they’re a personal friend, it usually takes more than just emailing and asking pretty please. You have to offer something in return.

What do you have to offer?

Well, if (when) you did have an email list or newsletter, or a robust social media following, you could offer to promote their products or services or events in exchange for them promoting yours.

But I’m assuming you don’t (yet).

Do you have a blog? You could invite other professionals to publish a “guest post”. Or you could interview them and publish that on the blog, where your readers can learn all about them.

This sounds simple, because it is. It’s also do-able.

If I was a professional, business owner, or blogger in your niche, and you offered this to me, I’d jump at the chance.

These other professionals might also be open to interviewing you or inviting you to write a guest post for their blog or newsletter. They’ll do that if they believe you have something to say their readers would like to hear.

You do, don’t you?

Talk to other professionals in your niche and see what you can work out. Immediately, if not sooner.

Okay. One more thing. Maybe I should have started with this.

You say you don’t have a prospect list (yet), a blog, or a following worth mentioning. Something you can use to promote other professionals, in exchange for their promoting you.

Ah, but you do.

You have a client list.

People who know, like, and trust you and will listen to you when you recommend something.

It might not be a big list, but it is better list than a list of prospects. Everyone on your client list knows you personally, has given you permission to contact them, and will open and read your email.

Your client list is extremely valuable.

If you write and tell them about an accountant who is conducting a seminar or has some great videos, and you recommend they check it out, they probably will.

Which means this accountant should be willing to write to his list and recommend you.

Can I get an Amen?

Email Marketing for Attorneys


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Say it again

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One of the most important principles in marketing is repetition. If you want to put more butts in seats at your events, get more people reading and sharing your content, and more people hiring or recommending you, once is not enough.

Because the first time you say it, offer it, or ask for it, the odds are nothing will happen.

Why?

Maybe they didn’t get your message. Maybe they didn’t read it. Maybe they weren’t ready to take the next step.

For a lot of reasons:

  • They didn’t have the money
  • They didn’t want to spend the money
  • Their problem wasn’t yet painful enough
  • They didn’t understand you, believe you or trust you
  • They needed to get someone else’s buy-in
  • They have another attorney and feel bad about switching
  • They didn’t want what you offered
  • They had more pressing issues

So, you say it again.

You send the same message, or a different message. You repeat your arguments, examples, and stories, or you use different ones.

But they still may not be ready. So you follow-up with them again. And again. And again. And when they’re ready to take the next step, they will.

But that’s not the end of the story.

You continue to stay in touch with them, even after they hire you, because they may have other legal matters that need addressing (and may not realize they do), or they might not need your services right now but know someone that does.

Each time they hear from you, each time they find your message in their inbox, you remind them about what you do and how you can help them.

And people need to be reminded.

On the other hand, guess what happens if you only send one message, or even two or three?

A year, two years, three years later, when they need you and are ready to take the next step, you will be a long-forgotten memory and some other lawyer will get the call.

So, two rules for your rulebook:

  1. Don’t rely on one message to close the deal, and
  2. Stay in touch with people repeatedly, over time.

When they’re ready, willing, and able to hire you (or refer you), there you will be, in their minds and in their mailboxes.

The easiest way to do this? Yes, email.

Hey, have you noticed that I’ve said this before? Many times, in fact?

Just practicing what I’m preaching.

Email Marketing for Attorneys

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Let’s talk

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Well, we’ve done “like” and “trust“. How about ‘know”? How do you get more people to know you, so you can get them to like and trust you (and eventually hire and refer you?)

The simplest way is to “talk” to more people. But I’m not just talking about actual conversations.

When I say “talk,” I mean getting your name in front of your target market by publishing content (and advertising, if that’s something you do), anywhere and everywhere they are likely to see it, and inviting them to contact you or visit your website or do something else to get more information.

You publish on your blog, newsletter, and social media. And you publish on other people’s blogs, magazines, newsletters, podcasts, and video channels, or you speak at local or online events.

Wherever your target market is, you get your name and ideas in front of them, and invite them to contact you. .

That’s marketing at its simplest. And it works. But there’s something that works better.

Since it often takes more than one “conversation” before someone knows you or trusts you enough to contact you, you also invite them to sign up for your newsletter or download your report or ebook, and provide their email address so you can deliver it.

When they do that, you can continue the conversation by sending them more information. They learn about the law, their options, and what you can do to help them, and hear stories about how you’ve helped others.

Eventually, they get to know, like, and trust you enough to hire you.

Which they may never have done if the conversation hadn’t continued.

Email marketing for attorneys

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Trust me, I’m a lawyer

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Yesterday, we talked about likability, one of the key factors in why a client tends to choose the lawyer they choose.

All things being equal, they choose the lawyer they “know, like and trust”.

Trust is the most important of the 3. A client will hire and stay with a lawyer they don’t particularly like, if that lawyer does a good job for them, but if they don’t trust that lawyer, they’re probably not going to hire them, let alone stay with them.

Building trust takes time. Referred clients come to trust you sooner because, to a great extent, they “borrow” some of the trust that exists in the person making the referral.

Note to self: focus on referrals.

But what about leads and other prospective clients who come your way other than by referral? Is there anything you can do to build trust and make it more likely they will hire you?

Perhaps the easiest way to do that is with your newsletter, blog, podcast, or other content.

It’s easy because all you need to do is show up.

If you publish once a week, show up once a week. Like clockwork.

Stick to the schedule and let your audience see you do what you said you would do.

They’ll see that they can count on you to give them what you promised. They’ll see that you are organized and disciplined about your work, and that you are generous in sharing some of your knowledge and experience.

Even if it’s a few paragraphs every Wednesday.

Keeping your promises is one of the pillars of trust. So is consistsency

You don’t need to be brilliant or chart new territory. You don’t need to give away the store.

You just need to show up.

Email and newsletter marketing for attorneys

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Why you should tell people about your sick cat

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I spoke with an attorney over the weekend about marketing his practice. We were scheduled to talk last week, but he was at the vet with a sick cat who didn’t want to take his pill and we rescheduled.

I’ve had cats and told him we used to swaddle our fur babies in towels when they didn’t want to take their pills. He told me he saw a video about that, something about making a “cat burrito”.

So, when we spoke, before we talked marketing, we talked about his little one, who is doing better.

And now, I’m telling you about it, to remind you to talk about things like this, not just with clients and others you speak to, but in your newsletter.

Yes, it’s okay to write about things like this in a newsletter, even though they are “off topic”. In fact, it’s more than okay. It’s recommended.

It’s recommended because it shows your readers that you’re like them. Human, vulnerable, busy taking care of sick cats or kids or cars that need to be taken to the shop.

And similarity is one of the key factors in likability.

When your readers and followers learn something about your personal life and recognize things they have in common with you, they are more likely to see you favorably, that is, to like you.

Which means they’re more likely to hire you and tell others about you. You’re not just an arm’s length professional they read, you’ve taken a step closer to being a friend.

If you’re making notes right now, you might want to add “me too” as a way to remember this concept.

This doesn’t mean you need to open up your entire personal life to your readers or followers. I’m sure you don’t want to do that and frankly, nobody wants you to.

Share bits and pieces here and there, like a color commentator on a baseball broadcast. Just enough, but not too much.

By the way, I told my wife about the “cat burrito” video and she agreed it was an apt description for what we used to go through.

Coincidentally, she made burritos for dinner last night. Call me crazy, but they were a bit spicier than usual.

Email Marketing for Attorneys

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Don’t want to blog? Do this.

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If you don’t want to set up a blog but you’d like to use your knowledge to bring traffic to your website, guest blogging is a viable alternative.

Basically, that means offering your content to blogs that target your niche or market in return for a link to your website.

This allows you to write content when and if you feel like it, instead of sticking to a schedule.

But the biggest benefit is that this gives you the ability to leverage the traffic that visits those blogs.

And, by appearing on authority blogs, you also gain their implied endorsement; sometimes, their actual endorsement if they add some kind words about you.

You get traffic, build your authority, and get a lot of eyeballs looking at what you do when they arrive at your website.

If your website includes an opt-in feature, you can also build your email list this way.

You can even this with just a one-page website.

Start by searching for blogs in your niche that accept guest posts. Review their guidelines. Read several posts to get a sense of what they publish (subjects, length, slant). If some posts have a lot of comments or shares, see if you can figure out why.

And then, contact the publisher to offer your first post.

Blogs like to publish content written by authorities, and as an attorney, you certainly tick that box. You need to show the publisher or editor a subject they think is appropriate for and of interest to their readers, and you need to show them you can write.

As for your writing chops, link to articles you’ve published online, or send a sample or two.

Note, most blogs that publish guest posts will link to your website (or social media), but some may not be willing to do that. I once wrote a post for the ABA and they wouldn’t provide a link to my site. I wrote it anyway because it’s a nice credit, but I probably wouldn’t do that for other publications.

If you know anyone in your niche that runs a blog or other publication, start by querying them. If your practice area isn’t right for their audience, they can point you to other blogs that may be better suited, and possibly recommend you to them. They might also offer general advice about how to approach publishers.

Finally, if you know a blog that would be a good match for you but they don’t publish guest posts, contact them anyway. Yours may be their first.

How to use a blog to build your law practice

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How to make it easier for readers to grok your content

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Yesterday, I talked about the importance of making it easier for folks to access your content. Today, I want to elaborate on this subject, and share a few ways to make the content they read more readable.

But not just readable, effective. Meaning readers (and listeners) not only understand your message, they relate to it, and to you.

This isn’t difficult. Just different from what most people do. And that’s what makes it effective.

  • Come to them, don’t make them come to you. Unless you have a good reason to do otherwise, send your email or article to them, so they can read it immediately, instead of asking them to click and come to your website to do that.
  • Don’t send “a newsletter,” send an email. It’s more personal and conversational, and more inviting to read.
  • Keep it simple: one subject, one “lesson,” one offer, one call to action.
  • Keep it short. They’ll give you a minute or two. If you have more to say, save it for next time (as I’m doing here).
  • Make it LOOK easy to read. Short paragraphs and sentences, bullet points, CAPS and bold and other visual elements.
  • Help them or entertain them. Tell them something they can use, and/or tell them something interesting.
  • Facts tell, stories sell. More stories make your content more readable, relatable, and persuasive.
  • Lighten up. Use warnings and cautionary tales sparingly. You want to inspire readers and give them hope for a better future, not crush them with despair.
  • Don’t tell them everything. Tell them enough to frame the problem and possible solutions. Make them come to you to find out more.
  • Talk to your readers, not at them. Ask them questions to get them thinking or to make your point, and ask them to reply and/or ask you questions.

I see a lot of lawyers’ content that does a great job of “posturing,” that is, showing readers they know what they’re doing and they are very busy doing it. We all need to do that to some extent.

But there’s something to be said for showing readers that besides being “hard to get,” we are also “good to know”.

How to use email to build your law practice

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