Blog vs. Newsletter

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I read an article this morning entitled, “How to Write a Blog Post: A 12-Step Guide.”

After reading it, I feel like I need a 12-Step program. It’s too much to do for those of us who can’t (or don’t want to) spend hours and hours writing blog posts.

Which is why, years ago, I switched from being blog-centric to email centric.

I used to write a blog post first (with images, if you can believe that) and then send it to my newsletter subscribers (in html, if you can believe that).

Now I write an email first, then post it to my blog.

Seems like the same thing, but it’s not.

My emails are plain text. And brief.

And they take takes mere minutes to write, send and post.

Yay me.

I’ve got nothing against blog posts. But they require a lot of time and effort I would rather invest doing other things.

What kind of effort? Here are the 12-steps in the article I mentioned:

  1. Understand your goals
  2. Understand your audience
  3. Brainstorm a list of ideas

Sure, we need to do this for every kind of marketing we do.

  1. Do keyword research

Yes, research keywords for your blog. I don’t do that for my newsletter.

  1. Organize your content into an outline

I don’t think of my emails as content and I don’t write an outline. I may write down a few notes about what I want to say but usually, I just let it fly.

  1. (Check Google and) read the top 10 posts for that keyword

Good idea for a blog post you write once a week or once in a while. Not going to happen for a short, daily email.

  1. Write the body of your blog post
  2. Write a killer intro
  3. Write an excellent headline

I don’t spend more than 30 minutes to do this.

  1. Proofread and format your post

I don’t format anything.

  1. Optimize your post

I don’t optimize anything.

  1. Publish your post

Finally! I don’t know about you, but I’m exhausted just reading this list.

Bottom line: a blog and a newsletter are both valuable resources for building a professional practice and should be a part of most lawyers’ marketing mix. But I’m sure you don’t want to spend hours and hours of your precious time crafting fine art.

You don’t have to do that, if you use my system.

Which you can learn more about here.

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P.S. I love you

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The other day, I mentioned TV detective Colombo and how, when he was finished speaking to a witness or suspect, when they thought they were off the hook, Coolumbo would turn to them and say, “One more thing. . .”

When he did that, everyone in the room paid attention.

Because people notice things after a break in the conversation.

The same goes for email. People almost always read the P.S. in your email, even if they only skimmed the rest of what you wrote.

Many people read the P.S. first, because they think important things reside there, and they’re usually right.

You can use the P.S. to include more information you want the reader to know, to remind them of something you said in the body of the email, including your offer, or to mention something new but relevant to the subject of the email or the reader’s interests.

If the body of your email is about the need to have a certain issue evaluated and you have offered of a free consultation, for example, your P.S. might remind them to call to schedule it. It could also point out that you’re only accepting a limited number of appointments this week or that time is of the essence regarding their issue.

You could also provide a link to your “contact” page, or to a FAQ page that talks about what to expect during a consultation.

In a follow-up email, you might use the P.S. to recall something they told you, or something you noted about their business or family, or about something you have in common, as a way to strengthen your relationship.

Your P.S. is valuable real estate in your emails (and letters). Give some thought to how you can make full use of it.

To learn how to write an effective P.S. in your email newsletter, slide on over to my email marketing course

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Don’t make this mistake with your clients and contacts

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A few months ago I got an email from a guy I haven’t heard from in years. He is the developer of a piece of software I bought five or ten years ago and have long since forgotten.

He name sounded familiar–it’s unusual–so I read the first paragraph of his email and recognized the name of the software.

So, why was he writing? Yep, to sell me something. A new service he was offering, completely unrelated to software.

Haven’t heard from him in years, not even about his software, and now he wants me to fork over $500 for a one-time “coaching session” with him?

Not kidding.

How is he even qualified to offer this service? What’s he been doing all these years? Who are you again?

Yeah, don’t do this with your clients and contacts. Stay in touch with them, build or strengthen your relationship, and then you can offer them something. Even something new.

Otherwise, who are you again?

Now would be a good time to contact everyone. Update them on changes to your office schedule or policies, share your thoughts about social distancing and quarantining, and why you are hopeful that everything will be over soon.

And, if you did this already, send them another email, to update them again, or to share legal information or general consumer or business information they might find useful.

Keep your name in front of them, because some of your clients and contacts need your help right now, or know someone who does, and if they don’t, they may soon.

And you want them to feel warmly towards you when you contact them again, instead of asking, “Who are you?”

Email marketing for attorneys

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How To Come Up With a Year’s Worth of Content in One Day. Sort of.

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If you have some downtime right now, a great use of that time might be to create a backlog of content for your blog or newsletter.

If you write a weekly post, you could knock out enough content for at least the next few weeks.

If that’s too much, the next best thing is to use the time to find ideas.

Look at your competition’s content. Look at blogs written by or for your target market. Look at general consumer or business publications for ideas that might be useful or interesting to your target market.

In a few hours, you could come up with hundreds of ideas.

All you need to do is write down a sentence or two, a quote or interesting fact, a few points you want to cover, and a link to the article or post that inspired you.

But don’t stop there. Once you have one idea, think about how you could expand it into ideas for additional content.

Let’s say you come across an article about legislative changes in your field and you want to write about those changes–what they are, what they mean, what you think about them, or what the reader needs to do to comply with or take advantage of them.

You could do a second article sharing feedback about the changes from some of your clients. Or comments about the changes from a fellow lawyer or allied expert.

Another article might be about additional changes you’d like to see that weren’t addressed in the legislation.

If you like this idea but don’t have enough time right now, spend an hour making a list of possible sources you can peruse later. Explore a legal blog directory, for example, and capture links to some that look promising.

Where do you start this process? On your hard drive. Find all of your old content and think about what you could do to reuse or re-purpose it.

You might have a paper or presentation you could republish in your newsletter. You might update an old blog post, expanding on something you wrote before, amending your opinion, or providing additional examples. If it’s been awhile since you first published it, you could even re-publish it as is.

Take some time to dig and find ideas. When things get back to normal, you’ll be glad you did.

For more ideas for content than you can shake a stick at, and advice on how to use them, my email marketing course has you covered.

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Stalking lawyers for fun and profit

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When it comes to marketing and practice building, most lawyers get a lot of things wrong. But they get some things right and if you want to compete with them, and beat them, you need to know what they’re doing.

The simplest way to do that is to study them. Make a list of successful lawyers in your practice area (they don’t have to be in your local market) and go to school on them.

Visit their website and blog, read their posts and articles, note what they say and how they say it, see what widgets and other elements they include on their site and which ones they don’t.

Sign up for their newsletter and study that, too. What are they writing about? How often do they publish? How long are their emails?

Study their social media footprint. Which platforms do they use most, how often do they post, who do they follow and who follows them, what do they post about, and what do they do to stimulate engagement or encourage followers to take the next step?

Study their posts and articles that have the most engagement (shares, comments, re-Tweets and Likes). You’ll get a boatload of ideas you can write about and if those subjects resonated with their readers and followers, there’s a good chance they will resonate with yours.

Listen to their podcasts. Look for interviews they’ve given to the press or to bloggers or vloggers. Look for clues about other marketing they do–speaking, networking, advertising, referrals, public relations, and anything else.

One thing you’ll undoubtedly notice is that most attorneys do what others lawyers do, and when it comes to marketing, that means “not much”.

Study what they’re doing, so you can emulate what’s working (not copy it) and see what you can deduce isn’t working so you can avoid it.

You won’t learn everything you need to know by studying other lawyers but you’ll learn more than you know now. And you might find a kindred spirit (who doesn’t compete directly with you) to whom you can reach out to share ideas and referrals.

To learn how to get more clients with your newsletter, go here

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Something good about COVID-19

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One good thing about what’s happening right now is that it gives you plenty to write about in your newsletter or on social media. Your clients and subscribers will appreciate hearing from you, especially if they’re staying home from work.

For starters, you could write about what you’re doing to protect yourself, your staff, your clients, and visitors to your office.

One firm sent me an email describing a few things they’re doing, including following social distancing practices in the office, disinfecting after each visit, and conducting appointments via Zoom.

You could summarize and opine about the latest news coming out of DC, your state, and your local community. What’s going on that they might have missed and what do you think about it?

You could offer advice about how to get your money back due to event cancellations.

You could provide advice about estate planning, a topic many people seem to be especially interested in (or need to know about) right now.

(If you don’t do estate planning, ask a fellow lawyer to provide you with information you can pass along to your clients and subscribers.)

More than information, your clients and subscribers want to see that you’re calm, cool, and collected. That you’re prepared but not panicked and that you’re there for them if they need you.

Most of all, they want to hear you say that everything will be okay.

If you don’t have a newsletter, now would be an excellent time to start one.

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How to get a better response to your next email

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One thing I see a lot in email newsletters from lawyers (and others) is a cornucopia of requests and options.

“Click here, call now, share this link, sign up here, reply and let me know. . .” and the list goes on.

You know what usually happens when you do that?

Nothing.

Because when you give readers too many choices or too much to do, they usually shut down.

Nobody has time to do everything you ask them to do. They barely have time to read your entire email.

So, if you want a better response to your newsletter or a private email, ask for just one thing.

Every email should have an objective. If you want the reader to do something, ask specifically for that single action and nothing else.

Focus the reader on doing what you want them to do with a single call to action. You can ask for something else in your next email.

Which means your emails shouldn’t be “about” a multitude of your practice areas or offers. They should be about one problem and one solution.

If for some reason you must have multiple topics or calls to action within a single email, put them into separate paragraphs and use numbers or bullet points to demarcate them.

Just don’t expect as much response to any of your offers or calls to action.

It’s okay to include additional links in the footer of the email or in your signature, for social media sharing or to link to specific pages on your site, but don’t make your email topic or the call to action about that.

For best response to your next email, write about one subject and tell your readers the one thing you want them to do.

To learn more about writing effective emails, go here now.

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A simple way to grow your email list

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You want more subscribers for your newsletter, right? More people hearing your words of wisdom, your success stories, and your offers.

You also want these subscribers to be people who are likely to need your services at some point, or to know people who might.

You want to grow your email list because more subscribers eventually translates into more clients.

One of the simplest ways to grow your list is to partner up with other professionals, business owners, bloggers, and other centers of influence in your niche.

If you are an estate planning, consumer bankruptcy, or divorce attorney, you might pair up with an accountant, financial planner, or a financial blogger.

Who might be a good source of referrals for you? If they have a list and write to it regularly, talk to them about a strategic alliance.

What might that look like?

You write an article for them, they write an article for you. Or, you mention their newsletter and they mention yours. Or you promote their offer and they promote yours.

You might interview each other. Or co-author a piece that gets published in both of your newsletters.

You could do the same thing on social media.

The key is to find someone with the right attitude, someone who wants to grow their list and is willing to work with you to do that. You don’t need everyone to say yes, you just need a few.

Once you find someone and execute your first “swap,” you can (a) do it again in a few months, and/or (b) go find someone else.

To learn more strategies for building your list, including the ones that get my highest recommendation, check out my course on email marketing for attorneys.

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Use this checklist for better headlines, titles, and email subject lines

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A friend of mine uses a checklist to double-check his titles and headlines. It can be used for emails, blog posts, articles, book titles, presentations, ads, and more.

He calls it the “ABCD” Formula:

A – Attention
B – Believable
C – Care
D – Different

[A] The first job of your headline is to get attention. It needs to make people curious or promise a benefit, to flag them down and get them to read the headline. The headline should then compel them to read your email, blog post, or sales copy.

[B] If the headline isn’t believable, if it promises too much (and isn’t obviously tongue-in-check), the reader is likely to turn the page (or tune out of your presentation).

[C] Your headline or title has to be relevant to the reader or prospective client and their problem or desire They have to care about what you’re saying.

[D] Finally, in the age of massive competition for eyeballs and dollars, your headline or title needs to be different from the competition’s. Why should they read your article or ad when it appears to say the the same thing as a dozen others?

When a prospective client sees your ad or post, they’re asking themselves, “What’s in it for me?” You need to tell them that, and the telling begins with your headline, tile, or email subject line.

Because if it doesn’t start there, it doesn’t matter how good your sales page or email or presentation is, nobody is going to see it.

To learn more about writing effective headlines, titles, and subject lines, especially for your newsletter, check out my Email Marketing For Attorneys course.

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Small favors lead to referrals

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You want referrals but you may not be comfortable asking for them.

Try this instead:

Instead of asking for referrals, ask your list for a small favor.

Something easy to do.

Like forwarding your email or sharing your link. Or replying to your email and telling you which title (for your next article, for example) they like best. Or, asking your list to recommend a good hotel or restaurant in a city you’ll be visiting for the first time.

Why is this a good idea?

When you ask for a small favor, you invoke the psychological principle of ‘consistency’ which says that people tend to act consistently with how they’ve acted before.

If they’ve done a favor for you, they begin to think of themselves as someone who does favors for you.

Which can eventually lead to referrals.

Try it. Send your list a short email and ask for a favor. Then, thank the people who helped out or sent suggestions or voted for their favorite, and tell everyone what happened, e.g., how you enjoyed the restaurant.

An engaged list is a responsive list, and a good source of referrals.

Engaging your list is a valuable part of email marketing

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