Another simple content idea

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I bought an iPad. Yes, my first. You know how it is, you don’t know you need something until you get it (or someone lets you try it) and you realize what you’ve been missing.

Anyway, as part of my research into “if” and “which one” and “ways to use it,” I saw some videos made by law students who are using iPads for note taking and studying. They explain the apps and accessories they use, why they chose them, and how they use them.

Basically, they’re doing product review videos for a niche market.

Which prompted me to tell you that if you use and recommend any tech tools or apps, and workflows and best practices for using them, you could record product reviews, and post them on your blog or channel.

Most product review videos follow a pattern:

  1. Describe the product/model/version and features
  2. Explain what they like
  3. Explain what could be improved
  4. Compare the product to other options
  5. Explain if they recommend it, for whom, and why
  6. Tell where to get it

Product reviews lend themselves well to video, as you can demonstrate the product and give it a face (yours). You can instead do “faceless” screen capture videos.

If you’re not up for doing videos, you could write a blog post or newsletter article, with or without images, or simply mention the product and your recommendation on social. (Be sure to tag the relevant company when you do.)

And if you don’t want to do product reviews, or share your workflows, you could do something similar by writing book reviews.

Whatever you choose to do, make sure you have fun doing it. Because if it’s not fun, it’s work, and you have enough of that already.

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Being different without being weird

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You want to stand out. Show people you’re different. Help people remember you and talk about you on social media or to their friends. You’re looking for something you can do that’s different but coming up empty.

Relax. Stop trying so hard.

You don’t have to create your own practice area or provide free pizza in your waiting room. You don’t have to do anything radically different. And you shouldn’t. You’re a lawyer, and people don’t want their lawyer to be weird.

You can be different in little ways.

I just saw a video blogger who ends his videos by telling viewers to like and subscribe, as everyone else does, but then does something I’ve never seen anyone else do. He says not to bother hitting the bell for notifications, “because honestly, you have better things to do than to look out for a notification that I’ve posted a new video”.

Small, but different.

Technically, this is bad marketing. You want your viewers/subscribers/followers to know when there’s new content for them to consume. If they don’t get notified, they may never see that new content, and that’s a lost opportunity for you to connect with them and for them to share your content with others.

On the other hand, this is great marketing.

He shows his followers that he doesn’t slavishly follow the “script” everyone else follows, and that he cares about his viewers and puts himself in their shoes.

A small difference, tiny even, but you can get a lot of mileage out of small differences.

When everyone else looks and sounds and smells the same, you don’t need to do much to stand out.

And hey, if you do serve pizza in your waiting room, don’t put pineapple on it. That’s just weird.

Get more referrals by being more referrable

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Who are you?

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When a prospective client visits your website, the most important item on their mental checklist of things to look at, and often the first page they go to, is your “About” page.

They want to know what makes you tick.

What’s your background and how does it help you help me? What makes you different from other attorneys who do what you do? What would it be like to have you as my attorney?

It is the most important page on your site, and you need to get it right.

I’ve talked about what to include in your About page in Make the Phone Ring, and today, I have some additional resources for you.

First are two articles by the same writer at JD Supra. “How to Write an Engaging, Client-Focused Professional Bio” and “Show vs. Tell – How to Create A Strong Lawyer Bio” offer excellent recommendations about content and style and you would do well to consider the author’s suggestions.

Another good resource is this post about using your About page to help differentiate and brand your firm.

One thing these articles don’t mention is whether to write them in the first person or third. Should your About page be written “by” you or “about” you.

Third person is more formal and might be appropriate for your image and style. First person is more personal and relatable and allows you to talk to the reader and may help them see what it would be like to work with you.

Each style has a place and you might even consider using both—a formal bio in third person, followed by a “personal word” from you.

More about what to include on your website

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The one thing your first-time website visitors look for

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Someone finds your website and sees a lot to look at and read. Articles and blog posts about the law, about their legal situation, about the services you offer, and about you.

But that’s not what they’re looking for. If they’re like you and and me and everyone else on the net, they’re looking for a reason to leave.

Something that tells them, “This isn’t for me.”

It’s survival instinct. There’s too much to read online and too little time to read it. So while you may provide a lot of great information and reasons to hire you, if you don’t give them a reason to stay and read it, most people won’t.

Your website needs a hook. Something that catches the reader’s attention and compels them to keep reading.

Usually, that will be a headline that promises something they want or makes them curious about something that interests them.

It might be a sub-heading, a bullet point, or a callout box. It might be a chart, a checklist, or a few words of bold text.

But you need something to stop them in their tracks and give you a few seconds of their time.

Once you have that, once they decide they won’t leave (yet), you need to give them more reasons to stay and learn about what you do and how you can help them.

But they’re still not ready to read everything, top to bottom. People scan and scroll, so give them something that allows them to do that.

If you do, they might read more. If you don’t, they won’t get to read all of your amazing insights, hear about your glorious victories, or convince themselves to take the next step.

So you (and your team) have your work cut out for you.

You may get it right, or you may get close, but close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. That’s why, statistically, the vast majority of first-time visitors leave and never return.

So you need one more hook.

You need to offer them the opportunity to receive something they want—a report or ebook, checklist or form—something that ties in directly with whatever brought them to your website in the first place.

Something that makes them say “I want that” and be willing to give you their email address to get it.

If they do, you can stay in touch with them and continue to persuade them to take that next step.

Here’s how to do that

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10 tips for better blog post titles

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Good blog post titles attract search traffic and social traffic and get more people reading your posts (and newsletters).

So how do you write a good title?

These10 tips should help:

  1. Write a lot of bad titles. The more bad titles you write, the more likely you are to write some good ones. Keep an idea file, mix and match phrases to create new (and better) titles.
  2. Check your stats. If one of your posts did well before, it will probably do well again. Update an old post with new information, change your opinion, show a different side of the issue, and write a new title to reflect this. Or just use the same title again.
  3. Read what other lawyers write. Agree with them, disagree, point out what they missed, use your own examples. Emulate their best titles (and subjects) and use them as prompts for your own.
  4. Numbers work well. People are drawn to specificity and order. They’re curious and want to know the “10 tips” or “7 Steps” or “5 Secrets”.
  5. Explanations and predictions work well. Readers want to know what happened and discover what’s going to happen.
  6. You can go wrong with “How to”. People use search engines to learn how to do something or find something or someone (a lawyer). A title that promises to deliver what they’re searching for is likely to draw more readers. Also good: What, When, or Why.
  7. Pain and promises. Talk about your readers’ pain, show them you understand their situation, their industry, their problems, their desires, and promise solutions and benefits,
  8. Use cultural references. Movie, song, TV and book titles, news stories, famous people, hot products, trends—things people are already thinking about, talking about, and will recognize.
  9. Mix it up. When someone visits your blog, you want them to see some variety. Use short titles and long titles, “normal” titles and “strange” titles, intriguing questions and surprising statements. Show readers you’re not like other (boring) lawyers.
  10. Have fun with it. Don’t (always) be so serious, don’t contort the title for SEO purposes, or try finding the perfect title. Write what comes into your head, play with it, twist it, kick it in the arse, be irreverent and bold. If a title makes you smile or laugh or cry, chances are it will do the same for your readers who will want to read your post to find out more.

Sometimes, the content of your post will drive your title. Sometimes, it works the other way around. I’ve written many posts with nothing more than a title.

Which means there are no rules, except one:

If you’re getting traffic, opt-ins, appointments and new business, you’re doing it right.

More ways to find and create good blog post titles

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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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