Common sense email marketing

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Everyone gets unsolicited email and I’m no exception. It’s usually from complete strangers but sometimes it’s from people I know (or knew), who apparently believe that because I know them, or subscribed to their list at some point or bought something from them in the past, it’s okay to continue to send me offers even though I opted out or never opted in.

It’s not okay. It’s annoying, and doesn’t make me want to do business with them. No matter how attractive their offers might be. 

Why do they go to the bother? Because they get enough response to their offers to be profitable and not enough complaints to deter them. 

Word to the wise. Don’t be that guy. Don’t send unsolicited commercial email, even if it works. 

For one thing, it may violate the rules of professional conduct and anti-spam laws in some countries. 

It’s okay to send a personal email to someone you don’t know, inquiring about or inviting them to something you have reason to believe might interest them, but don’t sign them up for your newsletter or put them on an email list. 

But also don’t be that guy who refuses to offer free information (or services) because you don’t want to be tarnished with the same brush as those spammers. Offering free information or services to people who ask for it is not only a respectable way to market your services, it’s a great way to market your services.

It can help you get more inquires or leads, more sign-ups for your seminar or followers for your channel, help you build a bigger and more responsive mailing list, and bring you a lot of new clients. 

Just use a little common sense. And treat people the way you’d like to be treated. 

Always tell people what you will do with their email when they sign up, e.g., subscribe them to your newsletter or send them your report, and also what you won’t do, e.g., spam them or sell their email address to third parties. Tell them you respect their privacy and they can opt out at any time. 

Your prospects and clients will respect you for respecting them, and reward you for it.

Email marketing for attorneys

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Beyond FAQs

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The FAQs page on your website gets a lot of views because prospective clients want information about the law and about your services. They use your answers to those questions, and how you answer them, to decide to continue reading and take the next step towards hiring you. 

Bottom line, FAQs (and your well-thought out answers) are good for business. 

Some say you shouldn’t tell them too much because the more you tell them, the more questions you answer, the less likely they are to contact you (or hire you) because you’ve already given them the answers they seek.

And the more likely it is they’ll find something they don’t like and cross you off their list. 

And never tell them how to “do it themself”. Answer some things they say, not everything, or they won’t need you.

I say it’s just the opposite. The more you tell them, the more you sell them.

The more value you give them, the more likely they are to see the value of working with you. “If she gives away this much free information, she must have much more information (and help) available for paying clients.”

You sell legal services; you’re not in the information selling business. So give them lots of information. As you educate them, you show them the scope and depth of your knowledge and experience, and upir generosity in giving away all that information. They’ll still need to (and want to) talk to you (and hire you) for advice and help with their specific situation. 

One way to do this is to add “SAQs” to your FAQs. Questions they should ask but usually don’t.

Not only will they get more information they need to know, you’ll prompt them to identify other issues and questions they didn’t know they need to ask. And thus, identify more reasons they need to hire you.

As Steve Jobs said, “People don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” Clients don’t know what to ask until you until you tell them. So tell them. 

Do that and you won’t need to tell them why you’re better. They’ll know.

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The problem with lists

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Everyone uses lists to record information and convey that information to others in a way that’s easy to follow. We use lists in our work, for research, opening and closing files, and every step in between. 

We give our clients lists of things to do, and things to avoid, and lists of the steps we will take with their case, and they like knowing what to expect. 

We also use lists in our marketing, so we can do things quickly and efficiently, in the right order, without having to think about what to do each time. And because our readers like posts that contain lists, we use lists in our content marketing.

When a business lawyer publishes a post that promises, “21 ways to use the law to increase your bottom line,” for example, this usually attracts prospective clients in their market. “There’s got to be at least one or two of those ways I can use,” they think, and they read (scan) the post to find out.

List posts work, and you should use them liberally in your content marketing. 

Okay, so what’s the problem? 

The problem is that because list-posts work and are easy to write, everyone writes them. Lawyers, consumer and business writers, bloggers, consultants, et al., know that list posts are popular (by looking at their statistics), and so they write lots of them. 

Therefore, while you should use lists in your content, you shouldn’t rely on them exclusively. 

Use your knowledge and experience and credibility as a lawyer to write more thoughtful, in-depth content, the kind only a lawyer of your experience and standing can provide. 

Clients prefer to read and hire experts. A thoughtful piece by an attorney who practices in the area they need help with is more valuable to them than a simple list by a blogger. 

So, you need both. 

Write simple list-posts to get traffic and opens, and authoritative posts to “sell” readers on following and hiring you.

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Education-based marketing 

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One of the best ways to market your legal services is to teach clients and prospects about the law. That’s what they want to know when they go to a search engine or click a link. They want to know how bad their problem or situation is, available solutions, the risks, and their options. 

And if they are searching for a lawyer, they want to know why they should choose you.

Educate them and they will be much more likely to choose you, because the information you share not only helps them decide to do something about their situation, it shows them you have the knowledge and experience they need and want. 

Which is why you do seminars and presentations, write articles and books and newsletters, and create other types of what we now call “content”.

One of the simplest ways to do this is through a blog. You can add a blog to your website, or set up a separate blog, easily and inexpensively (WordPress is free), and use it to write anywhere, even on your phone. 

A major benefit of a blog is that you own all the content. You don’t have to send people to other platforms that might bury your content, censor it, or distract visitors with content from other lawyers. 

A blog also supports any other marketing you do—networking, social media, advertising, and referrals. People hear about you and visit your blog to learn more. As they consume your content, they sell themselves on taking the next step. 

That next step might be to contact you and ultimately hire you, or sign up for your newsletter, which allows you to stay in touch with them until they hire you.  

Okay, before you ask, the answer is no, you don’t have to be ‘blogger’ to benefit from a blog. You don’t have to do all the things bloggers do: SEO, engaging with visitors, curating comments, or creating a never-ending series of fresh posts to please the hungry search engines. You don’t have to post continually on social media, appear on other people’s podcasts or channels, or advertise.

You can do any of that if you want to, or use your blog as a sort of online brochure, a place YOU send people to learn more about you and what you do. 

To do that, set up a simple blog (it takes ten minutes) and write 5 or 10 posts about your area of expertise. Link to your blog from your website, put the url on your business card and in the “signature” of your emails, and when you talk to someone and they want to know more about what you do, send them to your (website and) blog. 

This is an easy and extremely effective way to educate prospects, clients, and referral sources about what you do and why someone should hire you. 

How to set up a blog for your law practice

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Sorry, I don’t want to smack that bell

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Everywhere we turn, somebody is telling us to do something. Fill out a form, download a pdf, watch a video, like, comment, share, subscribe. 

It’s annoying, but it works. We’re more likely to click something when we’re asked to do it.

Which is why everyone asks. And why you should too. 

If you want more subscribers, ask (tell) people to subscribe. You’ll get more subscribers. If you want more clients, tell people to call for an appointment. You’ll get more calls. And clients. 

You’re reminding them to do something that’s good for them. The more you ask or remind them, the better off they’ll be. So don’t feel guilty about asking. They’ll thank you later, after you’ve helped them solve their problem.

Ultimately, people do what they want to do. I do that; you do that. It doesn’t matter how many times I tell you to do something or buy something, you won’t do it—unless you want to. I can’t make you do it, just as you can’t make a prospective client write you a big check. 

But while we can’t compel people to do things, we can make it more likely that they will. 

The simplest way to do that is to tell them why. Give them one or more reasons or benefits for doing what you ask. Tell them what’s in it for them. Because they might not know. They might not remember. They might not have wanted or needed those benefits before, but now they do.

This doesn’t mean you have to pile on the benefits. You don’t have to smother them with extras and bonuses, or go to great lengths to persuade them to do what you ask. People like helping you. They like telling others about you and what you offer. It makes them feel good about themself to do that.  

Which is why many people will do what you ask simply because you ask.

But more will do it if you tell them why.

The Attorney Marketing Formula

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Create content about what you do

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Your clients, prospective clients, subscribers, friends and followers, and even your business and professional contacts, want to know about you and your work. 

Even more than they want to know about the law. 

In fact, unless someone currently has a specific legal issue or question, or has a client or friend who does, they probably don’t want to hear you talking about the law.  

It’s boring. 

It’s people who are interesting. And you are one of those people. 

Tell them about your typical day, the kinds of clients and cases you handle, your staff, how you stay productive, and even the software you use. 

Tell them how you do research, the forms and docs you depend on, and how you get new business. (Perfect opportunity to talk about all the referrals you get—and plant a few seeds for your readers). 

They want to hear what you like about your work, and what you don’t. They want to know about your favorite case, and about your “client from hell”.  

You may think what you do is dry and uninteresting, but you’re too close to it. What you find humdrum is fascinating to others. 

However… don’t make your content all about you.

You also need to talk about the law. Because some people find you by searching for a legal topic, and when they do, they want to know everything you can tell them. 

But more than you or the law, your content should be about your reader. 

Their issues, their industry, their market, and the people in their industry or market.  

Yep, talk about clients and prospects and the people in their world. Because there is nothing more interesting to your readers than reading about themselves. 

Email marketing for attorneys

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What makes your marketing go viral? 

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Good question. But I’m not sure anybody knows the answer. 

Yes, the message (document, site, article, slogan, image, opinion, etc.) must be easy to share. And yes, it must be worthy of sharing. But what does that mean? 

Interesting? Helpful? Weird? Funny (or fun?) 

Should it feature something relevant to the recipient or could it just fall into the category of “human interest”?

I don’t know. 

I just know that it happens, and when it does, it can get a lot of attention. Maybe that attention will lead to something good for the person who shared it. Or maybe it won’t. 

Which is why I don’t think we should spend a lot of time trying to figure out what makes something go viral, or trying to light a fire to make that happen. 

If it’s funny or interesting (enough) it will be shared. Organically. If it isn’t, there isn’t a lot we can do to be certain of that happening.  

But what do I know? 

One thing I do know is that if we have something we’d like to be shared (and potentially go viral), we should ask the people we share it with to share it.

Ask them to Like (and share) your post. Ask them to forward the link to your article. Ask them to tell people about your new seminar or new book. 

But don’t just ask them to share, tell them with whom they should share it. 

If you know any lawyers who practice xyz. . . 

If you have any friends or followers who could benefit from abc…

If you know anyone who might find this interesting… 

By limiting your request to a sub-set of everyone they know, you get the recipient to think about the people they know who fall into that sub-set, and that can stimulate more sharing. 

On the other hand, it might not. Because what the hell do I know? 

Do you know any lawyers who are into marketing? Please share this post with them. Maybe they can straighten me out . . . 

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If they snooze, you lose

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For writing “content” (blog posts, articles, presentations, etc.) many lawyers struggle to get results for one simple reason–they write like lawyers, meaning they write like they were taught in law school. 

The inverted pyramid, IRAC, et al., are fine when you’re writing something “for people who are paid to read it,” as the author of an article I read recently put it.  

Your clients and prospects certainly aren’t. 

Your content needs to have helpful information, the kinds of things prospective clients look for when they’re searching online, but if it has to be interesting. If you write it the way they taught you in law school, you risk boring people into clicking away. 

Structurally, capture their attention with a good headline or opening and keep their attention by continuing to write about things that interest them. 

Here’s how to get better at doing that:

  1. Read a lot. Read the kinds of things your audience reads. Look at the subjects, the structure, and the pacing of the information. See how they capture attention with a good headline or opening and use sub-heads and/or bullet points to draw the reader into the article and through it. 
  2. Write a lot. Practice and you will improve.
  3. Edit a lot. Your first draft is usually not your best draft. Shorten sentences and paragraphs, use active verbs (and active voice) and make sure everything is clear. If you write about anything “legal,” explain the terms and provide context.
  4. Put people in your articles. Talk about their desires, their problems, their pain, and the solutions they seek, and how things turned out (with your help). 
  5. Have fun (if appropriate). Give readers something to smile about, nod their head about, think about, and remember. 
  6. Tell them what to do next. Don’t leave them guessing, tell them to call (and why), tell them to join your list (and why), or tell them what to read or watch next. 

Give them a good experience and they will come back to read more and contact you when they’re ready to talk to you about their situation. 

Finally, if you are writing for other lawyers, or others who are paid to read your writing, it’s okay to write like a lawyer. But you don’t have to. And if you don’t have to, don’t. 

How to write an email newsletter clients want to read

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You or that other lawyer? 

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According to a Martindale survey of consumers who need an attorney, 50% said “they’d contact 2-4 attorneys before making a decision on hiring”.

I doubt it.

These are consumers, likely unsure of what to look for or ask and no doubt intimated by the process. I’m guessing they say they contact several attorneys because they don’t want to admit, even to themself, they choose the first attorney who looks good on paper. 

The lesson? Make sure you look good on paper. 

That means not relying on a directory listing, but fleshing out a website with enough information to persuade visitors to take the next step. 

That means you need a website that’s not just about your services and practice areas but about you, your philosophies, your target market, and the results you have obtained for your clients. It means including testimonials, reviews, and success stories that provide third-party evidence of your capabilities, and attest to what it’s like having you as their attorney. 

Because this is what clients want know.

It also means going beyond “telling” them what you know and do and “showing” them, by writing the kinds of articles and other content a successful attorney would write. 

You can dazzle them with your knowledge and charm when they contact you, but you need to convince them to do that. 

Make sure you look good on paper. 

How to make the phone ring

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Leveraging other people’s content

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Some lawyers buy “canned” content for their newsletter or blog. They pay a company for the rights to publish individual articles or entire newsletters and don’t have to write anything themself. 

It’s better than nothing because it gives them an excuse to stay in touch with clients and prospects but while these articles are usually well-written, they are necessarily generic—there’s nothing in them about the lawyer or his clients or cases, which is why people continue to consume that content. 

For years, I’ve said it’s okay to buy canned content but to re-write it. Put it in your own words, with your advice and comments and stories about your clients and people in your readers’ world. 

On the other hand, you don’t have to pay for content, canned or otherwise. The Internet is awash with it, and free. 

Find blogs and articles or videos about topics that will benefit or interest your readers and put that content in your own words. 

But you have another option. 

Instead of rewriting other people’s content, simply mention that content in your newsletter. Tell your readers why you recommend the article and provide a link. 

It might be an article by someone in your target market’s industry or market, or someone who sells to or advises that market. Even other attorneys.

That content could be anything. A how-to article, a product review video, a book review, a new website or product that might interest your readers—literally anything. All you need is a sentence or two about why the article caught your eye and why you recommend it. 

Is there something new (or newsworthy) in it? Something helpful or interesting or different? 

You don’t need to write more than a sentence or two and provide a link. But you can add whatever you want. 

Explain how your readers might use this information, or why they shouldn’t. Quote from the video or summarize parts of it. Share your thoughts and experiences, or those you’ve observed or heard about from clients, colleagues, or friends. 

This is a quick and easy way to create content and provide value to your subscribers, without doing a lot of writing yourself. 

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