If a guy named Howie wrote your newsletter

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Most lawyers who write a newsletter or blog or post articles on social media do something you would expect a sober professional would do. They write about serious topics and use a serious tone throughout.

While that’s generally the right call, they risk being uninteresting, predictable, and just plain boring.

All work and no play made Jack a dull boy.

Eventually, readers and followers stop reading and following.

Which kind of defeats the purpose of publishing content and staying in touch with people who can hire you and send you referrals.

If this sounds a bit like your story, take heart. The solution is simple.

Put some fun in your writing.

A dash, a dollop, a sprinkle can go a long way.

You don’t have to do a stand-up routine, just make make the occasional wry comment or play on words.

You don’t have to be silly, just report something amusing you saw or heard.

You don’t have to go completely off topic, just include a side note here and there.

You want your readers to look forward to hearing from you because they know you’re going to say something interesting or something that puts a smile on their face.

And they’ll love you for doing that because most lawyers don’t.

One place to start is in your titles and email subjects. Take what you’ve written and see if you can juice it up. Make people curious about what’s inside.

That’s what I did with the title of this post.

Start collecting interesting headlines and titles you see in the articles and emails you read, the ones that make you curious and want to continue reading. You may be able to use them by changing a word here and there to come up with something suitable for your readers.

You’ll also get better at writing your own.

You can make your articles and emails more interesting and fun to read by including things like a surprising statistic, a bold prediction, a pithy quote or a relevant story.

Give readers a taste of color or contrast, something to think about and remember. They’ll have fun reading your article and eagerly await your next.

Email marketing for attorneys

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Why you need original content and how to create it

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Many lawyers use canned content on their website and blog, articles provided by the company hired to create the site or from third parties. The problem with canned content is:

  1. It is generic, written to appeal to “everyone” instead of the specific clients you want to attract. When you appeal to everyone, you usually appeal to no one.
  2. The information might be accurate and helpful, but it is relatively bland, uninteresting and unlikely to hold readers’ attention.
  3. There is no “you” in the content, nothing to show readers what you do or how you can help them. Readers want to know what it would be like to work with you.
  4. It’s just information; there’s nothing there to engage readers and inspire them to take the next step.
  5. It doesn’t help your SEO since the same content appears on other websites.

The solution is to create original content. Fortunately, that’s a lot easier than you might think.

Original content doesn’t mean writing something that’s never been written before, as if that were even possible. You can write about the same topics and present the same information that other attorneys write about, you just do it in your own way.

In fact, you could literally take someone else’s article, canned or otherwise, and use it as a template for you own. Change the title, the words, the order, and the length, and you should have an article that qualifies as original for SEO purposes.

Of course that doesn’t mean your article will be interesting, engaging, or make readers want to learn more about you and your services.

To do that, you need to personalize the article. Here are a few simple ways to do that:

  • Use examples from your own practice—cases, clients, situations—especially those that show you “in action,” doing your job. Quote your client, the judge, or opposing counsel. Nothing canned about that.
  • Give your opinion. Tell readers what you think, what you like, what you recommend, and why.
  • Disagree with conventional wisdom. “Other lawyers tell you X; here’s why I tell you Y.”
  • Give both sides of the argument. Explain that each case is different. Use “if/then” language to protect yourself, and invite readers to contact you to ask about their situation.
  • Add details from your personal life. Even something as simple as, “The freeways were jammed this morning and I was almost late to court.”
  • Reference your other content about the subject.
  • Invite readers to comment, share their own stories, or ask questions.

Personalized content gives readers something interesting to read, shows them who you are and how you can help them, and stimulates them to take the next step. Which is kinda the point.

How to use the content on your website to get more clients

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‘Til your daddy takes your T-Bird away

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I’m guilty of this myself. Too much information in my articles and posts. Telling you what and how, why and when. Giving you bullet points and instructions, telling you what to do and how to do it.

There’s nothing wrong with the how-to’s, of course. It’s just that there are other things to talk about.

Suppose you and I were buds. We get together for to hang out, shoot the shite, bring each other up to speed on what’s going on.

We have a few adult beverages and share a few laughs. In other words, we have some fun.

Why can’t we do that online?

We can and we should.

When we write a blog post or article, when we record a video or podcast, when we post on social media, we don’t have to be “all business, all the time.”

That doesn’t mean being unprofessional or always going for the laugh. It means letting down our hair, speaking or writing informally, and sharing information and ideas that aren’t strictly law-related.

If you had an interesting day, tell people about it. If your son or daughter tells you something funny that happened in school, share it. If your neighbor charges his Tesla at night and you can hear that annoying electric hum through the wall of your house and it drives you crazy, mention it–like I just did about my neighbor.

We can also have fun playing with language. One way is to use phrases your readers don’t expect you to use. You feel me? Are you picking up what I’m laying down?

You know, fun.

Now, you may be wondering, why. Why should we put fun in our writing or speaking, or for those of us who do it already, why should we do it more?

Because our readers want us to.

They want to see our human side. They want us to make them smile. They want to have more fun, and and they don’t want us to give them homework every time they hear from us.

Yes, we should teach our readers something. But we can do that and also entertain them for the few minutes it takes for them to read what we write.

It’s called infotainment. A friend of mine describes it as “Education wrapped in candy.”

Give your readers their peas and carrots but also give them dessert.

You may find it difficult to do this, to loosen up in front of an audience who is used to you being straight. But you can do it (it just takes practice) and when you do, you’ll be glad you did.

You’ll enjoy writing more. You’ll get more replies and engagement from your readers. You’ll build a following instead of just a list of people who consume your content.

Which means you’ll also get more business.

Start slowly. Add a sprinkle of lighter material here and there. One way you could do that is to make your usual (boring) legal point and then use a colorful analogy or story to illustrate it.

A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down.

Give it a try. You might find you’re good at it. You might enjoy it immensely. It might give new life to your writing and speaking.

One thing’s for sure. Your subscribers will love it.

They’ll look forward to your next post or email or presentation, and they’ll tell their friends about you, because you’re not like all those other (boring) lawyers.

Email Marketing for Attorneys

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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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No wonder lawyers hate marketing

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I just read the sales page for an upcoming webinar series about creating a “content marketing and SEO Action Plan for 2021”.

It promises to show lawyers how to improve marketing results by improving click-through-rates, using better meta tags, lowering bounce rates, decreasing website load time, and utilizing “social signals,” “topic clusters,” and “page positioning” to get more engagement.

They promise to show us how to use video and podcasts to “enhance your thought leadership and improve your mobile user experience and search rankings”.

And that’s just for starters.

I think I speak for many attorneys when I say, “Hey, we don’t want to learn all this stuff; we just want to practice law.”

Sure, we want to rank higher. We want more people reading our stuff and taking action. But we’re busy, handling important things our clients hired us to do, and being a webmaster isn’t one of them.

So, while we need to have some understanding of the technical aspects of online marketing, we’re probably better off hiring someone to do most of it for us.

But, here’s another thought.

Why not do something simpler. Something that doesn’t require spending great sums to hire people.

Like getting more repeat business and referrals, for example.

Something that doesn’t take a lot of time to learn or do, and usually brings in better clients than you get off the web.

And then, when you’re earning more money than you know what to do with, you can hire someone to improve your website so you can earn even more.

If getting more repeat business and referrals sounds good to you, get my Maximum Referrals course to learn how.

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How much, how often?

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Information overload is clearly a thing.

According to a 2014 study by UC San Diego, each day we spend an average of 11.8 hours consuming media on our devices, the equivalent of 174 full newspaper’s worth of information.

That’s approximately 113,000 words per day, and this is increasing 2.4% each year.

So it’s not surprising to hear many people tell those of us who write a blog or a newsletter or produce videos or other content to cut back.

But I’m not cutting back and neither should you.

Because we have people with problems that need solving or goals they wish to achieve, and the information we send them helps begin the process.

So, let other people cut back. Not us.

When you send out valuable and/or interesting information that educates clients and prospects about their problems and the available solutions, you give them hope for a better future.

And you can’t do that too much or too often.

Where many marketers go wrong, however, is by sending out information that’s not helpful or interesting, so people stop reading it and forget your name.

Which doesn’t help anyone.

The message is simple. Write something people want to read and send it often, because you don’t know how many times they need to be reminded that you have the solutions they seek, or when they’ll be ready to take the next step.

How to write content people want to read

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Super simple way to create your next article or post

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I see you. You’re sitting in front of your computer trying to come up with something to write for your blog or newsletter.

And you’re stumped.

The well is dry, you’ve got other things to do, and you don’t want to spend all day staring at the ceiling.

No, I’m not going to lecture you about keeping a running list of ideas. Instead, I’m going to come to your rescue and give you your next idea.

All you need to do is identify a book or article you read, or video you watched recently, and tell your subscribers or readers about it.

What it was about, what you agreed with or liked, or what you found lacking.

You could write about the article about taxes or retirement or insurance you just read. Tell them what you think, what you agree with and recommend, and what you plan to do with the information yourself.

If you read an article about a productivity app, you could tell them about your experiences with that app, or why you like something else better.

If you just read a bar journal article or watched a CLE video, you could mention a few salient points and tell them how you will use this in your practice.

What is your local paper writing about your community? Crime, fires, store closings? You can write about those, too.

You could write about anything. Even the post you’re reading right now.

If you represent business clients or anyone who writes a blog or newsletter or posts on social media, you could pass along your thoughts about the idea in this very article. It’s something they can use when they’re fresh out of ideas.

So, what will you write about next?

Want more article ideas? Here

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How to loosen your marketing sphincter

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Many attorneys are uptight about marketing. So they put forth a token effort and see poor results, or they don’t do it all.

If you’re in there somewhere, this is for you. Marketing can become your best friend if you let it.

Start by letting go of bad memories–ads that bombed, speeches that flopped, networking that left you cold. Let go of all the time you wasted and the money you flushed down the drain.

Also let go of negative feelings you may have about about marketing making you uncomfortable. It doesn’t have to. And it won’t, once you realize that marketing is merely a conversation you have with people you know or people who have expressed interest in what you can do for them.

Marketing doesn’t mean shoving anything down anyone’s throat. Marketing is answering questions, something we both know you’re good at. It’s sharing information, something you no doubt you have plenty of. It’s providing examples about other people you helped, and letting their stories persuade people that you can help them, too.

You like helping people, right? Marketing lets you do more of that. It helps the people who read or listen to your words to better understand their situation and find their way to a better outcome. Without this, their pain might continue, or they might choose the wrong attorney, making things worse.

You don’t have be great at marketing to be effective. In fact, a little clumsiness can be a good thing. People don’t want “slick,” they want “real” and down to earth.

You don’t have to do all kinds of marketing. You can focus on what you like and what you’re good at.

I like writing. I like doing interviews. I like advertising. I really like email. So, that’s what I do.

How about you?

You have a lot of options. Find one that feels good and start there.

If you’re not sure, I suggest starting with your website or blog. Post some information about the law, about your services, and what you can do for someone who visits your site and needs your help.

You know, the kinds of information you already share with people who ask what you do.

My course, Make the Phone Ring, shows you what to do.

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Timeless or Timely?

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If you produce content for a blog, a newsletter, a podcast, or anywhere else, one question you need to answer is how much of that content should be evergreen.

Evergreen content is important because that’s what first-time visitors to your blog and new subscribers to your newsletter are looking for. They have questions or a problem and they’re looking for answers.

If you’re starting a new blog, make sure you have at least 10 or 15 evergreen posts to start out.

Talk about the kinds of things clients typically ask you about. Talk about problems and solutions, risks and benefits, frequently asked questions about your services, and the like.

These serve as the foundation of your blog, attracting visitors though search and sharing, and helping them to understand their situation and learn what you do and how you can help them.

Once you have some evergreen content posted, you can write about anything else, whether timeless or timely.

Write about your interesting cases or clients, news in your target market’s industry or niche, trends, ideas, and more.

Yes?

One more thing.

On a blog, you have the option to indicate the date each post was published, something I’ve done since I started and still do today. Some visitors, however, see an older date and conclude that the information is out of date, even if it’s not.

Omitting the date, on the other hand, as many bloggers do, may cause visitors to wonder how current the information is, and reject it if no date can be found.

If you’re wondering what you should do, take a gander at what Darren Rowse of Problogger.com says about the pros and cons of timestamping blog posts.

And, for more about the kinds of content to include on your blog or website–what to write about, where to get ideas–check out my course on online marketing.

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If you want more clients, don’t use your thesaurus

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Yeah, we’re smart folks. We can research the hell out of a subject, wrangle all the facts, present cogent arguments, and persuade other smart people to change their minds.

When you visit many lawyer’s blogs, read their articles, or hear them speak, you have to be impressed by their acumen. And their vocabulary.

The problem is, when a lawyer does this in their marketing, they usually shoot themselves in the foot.

If you want to get more clients and increase your income, keep things simple and short. Focus on the basics, not the minutia.

On the web, people tend to search for general information about their legal situation. If you try to impress them, they often wind up leaving. If you give them what they’re looking for, you get more traffic, more leads, more subscribers, and more clients.

In addition, when you write simply, you don’t have to do much research or spend a lot of time crafting fine prose. You already know this stuff and you can spit it out in a few minutes.

When you stick with the basics, more people will read and understand you. You’re helping them get to know, like, and trust you.

Finally, your goal in marketing is to make people curious, not satisfy their curiosity. So don’t tell them everything. Stick to the basics and if they want more, they have to hire you.

Which is kind of the point.

If you want to make your phone ring, here’s what to put on your website

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