Captain obvious

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When I was fresh out of law school, I volunteered time at a legal clinic, speaking to indigent people, mostly about family law matters. At the time, I didn’t know squat from shinola about restraining orders.

Fortunately, the clients did.

They’d talked to friends and other people who were similarly situated. They knew what forms to file and what they would need to prove. Usually, they just needed help cleaning up their declaration.

From that day forward, I always assumed my clients and prospective clients knew more than I might think.

You should, too.

Listen to what they tell you or ask you. You’ll be able to do a better job for them when you know what they know.

On the other hand, when you write a newsletter or article or blog post, when you post something on social media, you don’t know how much your readers know.

You have to assume they know nothing, and cover the basics, even if you’ve covered them before.

You probably know much of what I share with you, because you’ve heard it before or you have personal experience with the subject.

Or because it’s just common sense.

And that’s okay. What I share with you, what you share with your readers, doesn’t have to be “news”.

Often, we write to remind our readers to do what they already know, because knowing isn’t the same as doing. Or we show them other ways or better ways to do it.

You surely know the value of staying in touch with your clients and contacts, for example, but do you do it as often as you should? Hearing me talk about it (again) might catch you at just the right time when you needed to hear it and prompt you to get back on track.

You certainly know the value of referrals, and I know you want more of them, but you might not be comfortable asking clients for referrals, until you read about a way to “ask” without speaking to them.

We remind our readers about what they already know, show them different ways to do what they know they should do, and inspire them to do it with our examples and stories.

Share new ideas when you get them. But never hesitate to share old ideas, or assume your readers already know them.

How to get referrals from your clients without asking

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The easiest (and quickest) type of article or post you can write

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When you’re in a hurry and you need to crank out a blog post, a newsletter article, a social media post, or any other type of content to be consumed by others, one of the easiest (and quickest) types of post to write is a “list” post.

  • !0 Ways to (do something)
  • 3 Reasons (something doesn’t work),
  • 7 Steps to (getting a specific result)
  • 5 Things I tell all my clients about (something)
  • 4 Places to Find (information, people, forms)

Yeah, a list.

Write the list, add an intro and a closing comment or call to action, and you’re done.

Readers enjoy these types of articles because they can read them quickly, they’re easy to understand, and if some of the items on your list don’t apply to them or resonate with them, something else might.

These are easy to write because it’s just a list. Each item is a sentence or two. Or, go crazy and write 3.

Where do you get items to include in the list?

You can start with this short “article” I just wrote to answer your question:

5 Places to Find Ideas For Your Blog Post or Newsletter Article

  • From articles you’ve saved in an “ideas” folder
  • From your old articles and posts. Find something you wrote two years ago and reuse part of it
  • From presentations, videos, or podcasts, you’ve consumed (including CLE)
  • From websites or newsletters dedicated to clients and advisors in your niche market
  • From memory. Interesting clients, strange cases, funny answers in depos, things you tell clients to do or avoid

Just about anywhere.

So, here’s my challenge to you. Take ten minutes right now and outline a list article, AKA a “Listicle”.

You’ll thank me later.

For more article ideas, see my Email Marketing for Attorneys course

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Promoting your services: how often, how much?

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If every time a client or prospect hears from you you promote your services, will you turn them off? Will they no longer like and trust you? Will they write you off as another one of those potatoes?

It depends.

If you’re a broken record, constantly playing the same tune, constantly telling them to buy and making them feel guilty or stupid or at risk if they don’t, they’re going to tune you out.

We’ve all been on those lists. And left them.

Some “experts” say, “don’t promote, educate”. That’s just silly. You can do both.

You can and you should.

You never know when someone reading your words will need your services. You never know when they’ll be ready to take the next step. You never know when someone they know will (desperately) need your help.

So don’t stop reminding people about what you do.

But mix it up.

Teach them something, share something helpful or interesting, or have some fun with them, and also promote something.

Every time.

I promote something in just about every email and blog post. Usually, it’s just a descriptive sentence and a link. You can follow that link to look at what I have for you or you can move along. Other times, particularly when I launch something new or I’m running a promotion, you’ll get more. Sometimes, a lot more.

And that’s okay. That’s our deal. I write, you read, sometimes you buy something or hire me, sometimes you don’t.

But I’ll never stop telling you about what I offer, and neither should you with your clients and prospects.

You’re doing them a favor when you tell them and a disservice when you don’t.

And let’s face it. The people on your list expect you to do it. They know the deal.

If you’re smart about how you do it, most people won’t reject you, even if they don’t need what you offer.

They’ll stick around until they do.

How to use a newsletter to build your practice

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You have one chance

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Last week, I watched a few videos about some software I’m using. I liked what the guy was saying and wanted to know more about how he used the software. During the video, he said he had a newsletter and if you sign up, he’ll send you his template and other goodies that show you his entire setup.

“I want that,” I said to myself, found his website and signed up.

Note, he didn’t tell us the web address. I searched his name and found it. Not difficult but an extra step. If you want to build your list, make it easy for people to find you. But hey, he’s a tech guy and didn’t ask for my opinion.

After I signed up, the system told me my subscription went through. I went to my email inbox, eager to retrieve the template, but no fruit cup. (Let me know if you know where that’s from.)

Anyway, there was no email from the guy, and of course, no template.

No bueno.

The next day, I did get a welcome email, but there was no mention of the template.

The heck?

Usually, I would blow it off and move on. But I really wanted what he offered so I replied to his email and politely asked for the template.

As of this morning, I haven’t heard back from him. Doesn’t mean he’s not going to reply, but so far, I’m not impressed.

Some lessons:

  1. If you want people to sign up, make it easy for them to get to your signup page.
  2. Always send a welcome message, and send it immediately. Don’t make them wait, even a day. Don’t make them wonder if or when they’re going to hear (something) from you.
  3. You’ll get more subscribers if you offer an incentive. I signed up for this guy’s list because I wanted his offer. I wouldn’t have done so without that.
  4. Keep your promises. Send a link to download the incentive, either in the welcome message or immediately thereafter. Don’t make them wait or wonder if you’re a flake. Do let them see you’re on top of things.

Look at it from the prospective client’s (subscriber’s) point of view. Assume it’s their first time finding you, they have a painful legal problem and need an attorney yesterday, they’re looking at other attorney’s websites, but don’t know who to trust or who to choose.

Don’t give them any reason to choose someone else.

How to write a simple but effective welcome message

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A simple idea for your next newsletter or blog post

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Your clients and prospects see lawyers at work on TV and in the movies and think this is a realistic depiction of what lawyers do. They might be a bit disappointed to learn that our work isn’t glamorous and problems don’t get solved in 42 minutes, but they are curious about what lawyers do.

If you’re looking for ideas to write about in your newsletter or blog, educate your readers about the “legal industry” and what you do in your practice.

Here are a few idea to stimulate that big brain of yours:

  • What a typical day looks like for me
  • How I get new clients
  • Why I advertise/don’t advertise
  • How Zoom meetings have changed my practice
  • The software tools I use every day
  • Top ten questions I get from prospective clients
  • How I decide to take a case (and what I do if I don’t)
  • Legal fees, costs, and retainers, oh my
  • Why some lawyers earn more than others
  • Malpractice: what is it and what lawyers do to avoid it
  • Questions I ask prospective clients before I take their case
  • What I tell new clients before I start working on their case
  • What I’ll tell you if you ask me, “How much is my case worth?”
  • How often do I need to update my [business/estate documents?]
  • Phone, mail, email, or text: how I communicate with my clients
  • Why I (usually) love what I do (and when I don’t)

Articles like these are quick to write, give people interesting and helpful information about a subject that interests them, and helps them appreciate what you do. When someone is looking for a lawyer, this is precisely the kind of information that can help them decide to choose you.

Tell people about your work. Even if it’s not glamorous.

Email Marketing for Attorneys

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Do you make this mistake in writing your newsletter?

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You may have thousands of subscribers to your newsletter but when you send your list an email, remember to write to one person at a time.

Don’t write as if you’re speaking to a group. Unlike social media, email is an intimate medium, sent from one human to another, who reads your message as if you sent it to them and them alone.

Don’t address your readers in the collective. Don’t say things like, “Some of you. . .”. Don’t even hint that there is anyone else reading your message.

A writer I follow put it this way:

“I just got an email today with the line, “I can’t wait to see you guys in the webinar!”

The comment was innocent enough, but it was enough to snap me out of the one-to-one conversation this person’s email had with me.”

Your readers no doubt get other newsletters. They read yours, or read yours first as many of my subscribers tell me, because you don’t just deliver useful information, you speak to them as a friend or colleague.

And people crave personal relationships.

Your readers know there are other people getting the same message. They also know they can reply and ask a question or continue the conversation, and they like knowing that a real person will read what they write.

Take advantage of email’s greatest strength and use it to build a relationship with your readers. At first, it may be a simulated relationship. Eventually, it can turn into a real attorney-client relationship.

How to write an email newsletter that brings in clients

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When you don’t know what to write, write one of these

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It’s called a listicle and it’s exactly what it sounds like–an article that is basically a list. They’re easy to write because you don’t need to provide a lot of detail or analysis, and the title or headline usually writes itself:

  • 3 things you MUST do before you file for divorce
  • 5 reasons bankruptcy might not be right for you
  • 10 ways to help your personal injury lawyer get a bigger settlement for you
  • 11 websites I recommend to all my estate planning clients
  • Want to re-negotiate your lease? Here are 15 ideas that might save you a fortune
  • 22 tips for small business owners who want to get paid
  • 127 reasons why you should hire me instead of any other lawyer

Kidding about the last one. Or am I?

Readers like listicles because they know they can scan the article and find a few useful ideas.

To write your first (or next) listicle, start by brainstorming topics, things prospective clients usually ask you, for example. Also brainstorm ideas or tips for the body of your article.

If you don’t have enough content, visit your favorite search engine and scoop up more tips, answers, or ideas. Don’t forget to visit other lawyers’ blogs.

For future listicles, start collecting tips or ideas and saving them to a file. Also collect listicle-type headlines you can use as templates.

You can use a listicle headline from any field. For example, the headline, “5 Steps to Improving Your Garden” can become “5 Steps to Updating Your Estate Plan”.

More ideas for blog posts and articles can be found here

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What secret word unlocks email marketing success (But isn’t a secret)?

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One word. A word that can turn a boring newsletter, blog post, or article into something your subscribers look forward to reading. A word that helps you forge relationships with your readers and bring them closer to hiring you and referring you.

The word is hardly a secret. You use it every day in conversation, but perhaps not so much in your newsletter, articles, and blog posts, because “experts” tell you to avoid it.

The word? “I”.

Yes, talk about yourself.

Of course you will mostly talk about your reader–their problems, their wants and needs, their niche market or community.

Talk about subjects that interest your reader, but don’t leave yourself out of the picture.

Tell your story. Let people get to know you and what it’s like to work with you.

Because you are the solution to their problems.

When you talk about the law, use examples and stories from your practice. Talk about how you’ve dealt with these issues before, on behalf of other clients.

Describe yourself in action, talking to people, creating documents, writing letters, arguing or negotiating on behalf of your clients.

Your readers what to know what you’ve done for other clients, because it shows them what you can do for them.

Don’t make your newsletter all about you. But don’t forget to talk about yourself, because that’s how your readers get to know, like and trust you.

Email Marketing for Attorneys

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Looking for ideas for your newsletter or blog? Here are 3 places to find them

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Where do you find ideas for writing interesting and relevant posts your clients and prospects look forward to reading?

Here are 3 “can’t fail” places:

1) Books

I know, you already read plenty. But if you only read about the law, or you only read short articles you find online, you’re missing out on an opportunity to create superlative content.

Read more books and talk about the ideas you learn.

Read history, philosophy, and books about business (even if you target consumers). Read books about important subjects, written by smart and accomplished people with interesting information and stories.

If it interests you, it will interest many of your readers.

Entrepreneur Patrick Collison said, “You could try to pound your head against the wall and think of original ideas or you can cheat by reading them in books.”

2) Posts written by your colleagues

Other lawyers are writing about subjects that interest their clients and prospects. There’s a good chance those same subjects will interest yours.

Read the blogs and newsletters written by professionals in your niche. Read what lawyers, accountants, consultants, and other experts are writing about and use their ideas to create your own content.

If you handle estate planning, read blogs written by other estate planners, even in other jurisdictions. Read tax experts, divorce lawyers, financial planners and others who sell to or advise the people you target.

Agree or disagree with them, amplify their article with examples from your own experience, quote them and link to them if you want, or simply use their idea as a starting point to share your own thoughts on the subject.

3) News about your target market

What’s going on in your target market and with the people in it? What are people talking about, complaining about or celebrating?

Report on trends in the market, predictions, and news. Which company or industry is in an upswing, which one is having trouble? What’s expected to happen next month or next year?

Share information and ideas on consumer issues, e.g., taxes, insurance, credit, debt, etc. If you target business clients, talk about avoiding lawsuits, protecting assets, increasing productivity and profits, and bringing in more business.

Identify prominent people in the market and write about them, interview them, review their books and profile their companies, products and services.

Share news and helpful and interesting information people want to know.

3 simple ways to get ideas for content your readers want to read.

Want more ideas? Get my email marketing course

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Nobody wants to join your email list

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You write an email newsletter and you want more subscribers. More subscribers leads to more clients, more repeat business, more referrals, and other benefits you don’t get if you don’t have a way to stay in touch with people.

When I started my newsletter 20 years ago, I said something like, “If you like the information on this site [my blog], subscribe to my newsletter to get more tips, ideas, and resources. . .”

And I got a lot of subscribers.

Today, that wouldn’t be good enough.

Everyone is overwhelmed with email and nobody wants to join your list. They have enough to read, they don’t care about you staying in touch, they don’t want to hear you pitch your services.

So, if you want more subscribers, don’t make it about your list or newsletter.

Offer them an incentive.

Something of value. Something that allows them to obtain a benefit or avoid a loss:

  • Information that helps them solve a specific problem.
  • A form or checklist that makes something easier, better or faster.
  • A video that explains how to do something they want to do.

It doesn’t have to be fancy. You don’t have to give away the store. A report or short ebook is fine.

Tell them what to do to get it, ie., fill out the form, and how they will benefit once they do.

Subscribers are precious. You have to earn their subscription.

If you’re building a law practice, it’s one of the smartest things you can do.

My email marketing course shows you what to do and how to do it

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