One day you might not need a website

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When I started practicing there was no Internet, few attorneys had computers or even fax machines, there was no social media, email, or instant messenger. We talked to people in person or on the phone. Or we mailed them a letter.

Marketing was done the old-fashioned way: networking, speaking, writing, and referrals. Oh yeah, we also had the Yellow Pages.

Yes, I’m an old fart.

By the time I retired from active practice, most of my business came from repeat business and referrals. It took a long time to get there but when I arrived, it was nice.

My father would tell you a similar story. So would my accountant, who is still practicing. To the best of my knowledge, neither have ever had a website or social media account.

The point?

If you’ve built your practice to a point that it sustains itself and continues to grow through repeat referrals and referrals, mazeltov. You can do whatever you want.

If you haven’t done that, if you are struggling, or if you still have big plans and a lot of gas in the tank, you need to consider doing some other things.

For starters, you need a decent website.

Today, when someone tells a friend about you, that friend goes online to check you out. If you don’t have a website where you can tell your story, show the world what you do and why someone should hire you, that friend may wind up in some other attorney’s waiting room.

If you have a website but it looks like something circa 1998, or you use AOL as your email provider, you’re not doing yourself any favors.

I’m not saying you need a great website. Just one that looks like it’s from the 21st century with some good content. Get your own domain name. And make it easy for visitors to call, email, follow you, share your content, and sign up for your newsletter.

This is not difficult to do. Or expensive. And if you do it right, your website can do a lot of your marketing for you.

When someone searches for a lawyer with your qualifications, or when someone (that includes you) sends them to your website, it can show them what they need to know, answer their questions, overcome their objections, and persuade them to take the next step.

Nice.

One day, you might not need a website. Until then, you might want to turn off the Starsky and Hutch reruns and get to work.

If your website needs an overall, get this

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Live, from your office. . .

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The other day I recommended not relying solely on live presentations but to record them so they can go to work for you 24/7.

It’s leverage. Do it once, use it over and over again.

But don’t stop doing live presentations.

I don’t just mean “live and in person”. I mean live online. Podcasts, hangouts, chats, webinars, and so on, that are presented in real time. There’s magic in something done live.

When you promote a recorded video, it’s harder to create a sense of urgency. You can say, “This will only be available until. . .” but you then lose the ability to get eyeballs on an ongoing basis. If you leave it up all the time, many people say, “I’ll catch it later,” but we all know that later often never comes.

When you do it live, however, you can promote it as a special event because it is special. You can say, or more likely imply “Never before and never again,” has this been done, creating an even bigger sense of urgency.

When it’s live, you can say, “Join me” or “Ask me anything” and thus provide more value and build a closer relationship with your followers. Or you can promote it by saying you’re presenting some new or timely information that shouldn’t be missed.

One of the biggest draws of a live event is that nobody knows what will happen. What will be said, what will be asked, what information will be shared for the first time? And let’s face it, one reason people watch live events is that they know it could be a train wreck and they want to see that.

One way to make your live events have more train-wreck potential is to have someone else speak with you. If you have a co-presenter, a panel discussion, you interview someone or have someone interview you, the likelihood of something noteworthy or cringeworthy happening is even greater. (You’ll also get the other speakers’ followers to tune in.)

Do some live events and watch your subscriber numbers and engagement soar. Of course, you should also record these events so you can use them again or make them available 24/7. But you might not want to mention that you’re recording it when you promote it for the first time.

Let your website do the heavy lifting: Marketing online for attorneys

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Don’t just tell me about your legal services, tell me what problems you solve

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People contact you and ask about your services. Or they find your website and have a look around. Some of those people are looking for X service because they believe that X is what they need. Other people don’t know what they need, they just know they have a legal problem.

If you’re smart (and you are), you’ll tell people about both the solutions (services) you offer and the problems you solve.

You have a “Services” or “Practice Areas” page on your website, right? If you don’t, uh, hello, McFly? If someone finds your website by searching for X, you want to show them that you do X, right?

Okay.

You should also have a “Problems We Solve” or a “How We Can Help You” page that describes the problems you solve, prevent, or mitigate, or the objectives you help clients attain.

Your “Problems” summary page should then link to pages where you present text and video content about those problems and the solutions you offer. You can then link to your specific “Services” pages(s).

Make sense? Sure. It also makes dollars.

Learn more about creating a website that sells

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Prospecting for gold in your law practice

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When my daughter was in grade school I went with her on a field trip to Sacramento. One of the events on the agenda was panning for gold in a stream that once teamed with prospectors. They spent their days sifting through water, dirt, rocks, and sand. The more “non-gold” they got rid of, the more gold they found.

There’s a marketing lesson in this for lawyers.

If you want to find more “gold” (bigger cases, better clients), you need to get rid of as much non-gold as possible, as quickly as possible.

Why spend your time and resources courting clients who aren’t a good fit for you?

Other lawyers filter out cases and clients they don’t want after they talk to prospects. What if you filter them out before you talk to them?

When you create a profile of your ideal client, make a list of clients and cases that aren’t ideal. If you handle plaintiff’s personal injury cases, for example, your second list might include fender benders and soft tissue injuries.

Then, create a page on your website and describe the clients who aren’t a good fit for you.

You’ll stand out for being honest and transparent. You’ll build trust and create higher perceived value for being selective. You’ll attract better clients who see that unlike other lawyers, you don’t take anyone as a client.

Be honest about what you don’t want. You’ll get rid of more dirt and find more gold.

Need help figuring out who you do and don’t want as a client? Get this

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What if I’m right?

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I get it. The two reasons you don’t have an email newsletter or blog or, if you do, you don’t write or post very often:

You don’t have enough to write about, and/or, you don’t have the time to do it.

I say you do. I say you have plenty to write about, way more than you realize, and you have more than enough time to do it.

Give me a chance to prove it.

Set up a new notebook or file for this email/blog project, open a page and label it “ideas”. If you have any that come to mind, write them down. If you have other files with blog post or content ideas you’ve collected, add them to your new file.

Go through your hard drive, reading list, saved article files, and do the same.

Next, write down the questions prospective clients and new clients typically ask you–about the law, procedure or process, about their legal rights and options, about what you can do to help them.

You should be able to quickly write down ten or twenty questions.

If you find yourself running short, visit some online forums where people post questions for attorneys to answer, and see what’s being asked.

You can also visit article directories, other attorney’s blogs, and websites that feature legal content and see what visitors are asking in the comments. You can search your keywords on social media and see what people are talking about.

Okay, that’s enough for now. More than enough, actually. You should now have enough ideas to keep you busy for the next several years.

Will you have the time to use those ideas? Let’s find out.

Go through your idea list and pick one. It doesn’t matter what it is, just pick something you have an opinion on or experience with, or something that interests you that you think might interest others.

Now, write down three words or phrases related to that idea.

If you’re a personal injury attorney and you’ve chosen to write a response to the question, “How much is my case worth?” your three words might be, “damages, liability, and insurance,” for example.

Next, take your idea and your key words, set a timer for five minutes and start writing. You can type or use a pen or dictate but don’t stop writing (or talking) until the five minutes is up.

Don’t edit, don’t worry about grammar or punctuation, don’t slow down or stop. Just keep pushing your pen or pounding the keys.

For. Five. Whole. Minutes.

I don’t care how busy you are, you can write for five minutes.

When you’re done, you probably learned that

  • You have a lot to say about certain subjects
  • You can get a lot of words on a page in five minutes
  • You wind up with a mess but it’s not as bad as you thought

At least that’s what I found out the first time I did this exercise.

You now have the first draft of an email or blog post or article. Put it aside and re-write or edit it later. When you’re done, you should have a few hundred words, enough for a blog post or email.

Then, tomorrow, or next week at this time, do it again. Pick another idea, write down three words, write for five minutes, edit later.

Continue doing this until you have at least ten posts or emails.

Now it’s time to decide what to do with them.

You could start a blog. You’ll have ten weeks (or days) worth of material to post.

You could start a newsletter. You’ll have ten emails to load into your autoresponder.

Or you can gather up what you’ve written and turn them into an ebook or report.

The point is, you now know you can do this. You can write something in 30 minutes or less, including editing. (Okay, it might take longer at first but you’ll get faster.)

The only remaining question is, “Should you?” Will it be worth it for you to write something once or twice a week and post or email it? Will it bring in business?

There’s only one way to find out.

For more ideas, and more ways to get ideas, get this

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Are you making this expensive advertising mistake?

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The other day I heard a radio commercial for a real estate broker. The show’s host said he’s the only broker he recommends and provided examples of some of the great results the broker has obtained for his clients.

The commercial ended with the host telling the audience to call the broker, provided the phone number, and repeated it.

The broker sounds like a real player, someone you should talk to if you’re thinking of buying or selling. But there was something missing. Something that could help this broker massively increase his income.

It’s a common advertising mistake. Sad because it is so easy to fix.

Here’s what I’m talking about.

There are three categories of people who hear this ad. The first category is the smallest but provides the most immediate revenue: people who like what they hear, pick up the phone and call.

The second category is the largest: people who will never call. They don’t own property, aren’t planning to buy property, have a brother in the business, and so on.

They’re not prospects.

The third category isn’t as big as the first category (those who call) but offers the most long-term profit potential. It consists of all of the people who were interested but didn’t call.

They didn’t have time to call. They’re not yet ready to buy or sell. They want more information. They don’t want to talk to someone who will try to get them to make an appointment.

Lots of good meat left on dem bones.

At some point, many people in the third group will be ready to call. Unfortunately, they won’t remember the broker’s name and will call the next broker who comes along.

The solution is simple.

Tell listeners to call OR visit your website.

At the website, they get tips about buying and selling, information about the market, hear more success stories, learn more about your greatness, and generally sell themselves on making that call.

If they’re still not ready, perhaps they will download your special report or planning guide, giving you their email and allowing you to stay in touch with them until they are ready to call.

Some won’t ever call (for a variety of reasons) but will tell their son or daughter, friend or neighbor, about you, and they will call.

Mr. Broker, by not giving listeners another option besides “call now,” you’re leaving a boatload of money on the digital table. Yes, you can continue running ads and appeal to people who are ready to call, but why not also begin a conversation with the ones who aren’t yet ready?

If there’s enough of them on your list, you may never have to run ads again.

Let your website do most of the marketing for you. Here’s how

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Darth Vader would have made a terrible lawyer

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You have a marketing voice and it can make or break you.

Your marketing voice is the personality you present in your writing, in your presentations, and in conversations. It paints a picture of who you are and what it would be like to work with you. Your voice either attracts people to you or pushes them away.

If you sound arrogant, overly aggressive, or overly formal, you push people away. If you sound weak or overly casual, you do the same.

People expect a lawyer to sound like a professional. Not too hot or too cold. They want you to be strong and confident but even-tempered. Friendly and approachable but not a pushover. They want you to speak to them, not down to them. They want you to be conversational, not academic.

A little toughness. A little charm.

Your marketing voice–on your website, in your newsletter, in your presentations–should resonate with your target market. It should attract them and inspire them to connect with you. It should make them trust you and choose you to represent them.

If your marketing voice is working for you, great. If not, get some help. Get a marketing pro or a writer to look at your writing and presentations and give you some advice. Or hire them and have them do a makeover.

How to write a report that attracts new clients

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New tricks for an old dog

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I just installed macOS on my PC. A bit tech-y for me but it was either that or buy a Mac and I wasn’t about to do that just to run one application. (There’s an app I want but it’s only available on Mac and there’s nothing like it for PCs.)

After reading a slew of articles and watching lots of videos, I went ahead and got my geek on.

It didn’t go smoothly. The first method didn’t work. The second method eventually worked, but not without many error messages and missing helper files. Some videos assumed facts not in evidence, that is, my knowledge about where to find things on my system (e.g., BIOS) or how to show hidden files.

But I stuck with it and now I’m good to go. In retrospect, despite the frustrations, it was easier than I thought.

My point?

Is it that you can run other operating systems on your existing machine and don’t need to buy a new one?

No, although that’s good to know, isn’t it?

Is it that you can learn how to do things you previously thought were over your head?

No, but that’s certainly important to know.

Is it that the Internet is an incredible resource for learning things?

Well, we already knew that, didn’t we?

While all of the above are true, my point has to do with marketing.

The youtube video that finally worked for me, providing links to up-to-date downloads and instructions on how to do the little bits and pieces necessary to make the whole thing work, was recorded by a guy who’s in the computer business. He does installations, troubleshooting, updates, and so on, and very casually mentioned this.

It probably took him 15 minutes to record this video. In return, he gets traffic to his site and, no doubt, new business.

His video demonstrates his expertise and builds trust. Viewers can see that he knows what he’s doing. After watching the video, some viewers might still need help and hire him. Or hire him for other computer problems. Some might share the link to the video with a friend they know who has the same problem.

Lawyers can do the same thing with our expertise.

Take your presentations and put them online. Or record yourself answering FAQs. Teach people how to do something or understand their legal problems and the available solutions, and you will get traffic, subscribers, followers, and clients.

Marketing online for attorneys. Click here

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Does your practice need more sales people?

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Before you say no, give me one minute to convince you of the value of hiring a sales person for your practice. Someone who would talk to prospective clients and referral sources on your behalf and convince them to hire you or send you their referrals. Suppose that this was legal and ethical and could be done with little or no cost.

This sales person could deliver a steady stream of new business for you. Every day, prospective clients will call your office to make an appointment. When they meet with you, they are either sold on hiring you and ready to sign up or they have a few questions about their legal matter, and then they sign up.

So. . . how many sales people would you hire?

Hold on. Calm down. This is doable. In fact, there’s a very good chance that you’re already doing it. You already employ one or more sales people who are bringing you new clients.

Okay, I’m not really talking about people. I’m talking about information.

Articles, blog posts, reports, ebooks, videos, audios, podcasts, seminars, and other content you deploy on your website and elsewhere. This information attracts prospective clients who learn what you do and how you can help them, and persuades them to call you, fill out a form, or otherwise take the next step towards becoming your client.

Your content does what a sales person does, but in many ways, it does it better. It works for you 24 hours a day, never complains, and never asks for a raise. And once your content is deployed, it works for you tirelessly, endlessly, for many years to come.

So the next time you’re looking for a way to bring in more clients, start writing, or hire someone to help you, and get more content out into the world.

Here’s how to create content for your website

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Is your online presence costing you business?

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Our washing machine is failing so we’ve been shopping for a replacement. My wife spent lots of time reading reviews before making her selection. Unfortunately, the one she wants is slightly too big for the space occupied by the current machine. There is a cabinet overhead and the lid of the new machine wouldn’t clear it.

We went to a store to see if there was anything we could do. We talked to a friendly sales person and asked about switching the positions of the washer and dryer, which would solve the problem (our dryer is front loading), and the sales person told us that they do this all the time.

Only they don’t.

According to another sales person at that store, due to legal concerns, their installers won’t move the dryer. We would have to buy a new dryer, which we don’t need. He also pointed out some other issues with respect to the position of the existing hookups.

Was the first sales person telling us what we wanted to hear? Was the second sales person being overly cautious?

We didn’t know so went to another store and asked the same questions.

That sales person told us there should be no problem switching the machines, but he would check with their installers and let us know.

His shirt indicated that he was the head of the department and we wondered why he didn’t already know the answer to this question. In addition, he made absolutely no eye contact with us while he said “no problem.” My wife and I walked away thinking we couldn’t trust him.

Now, do you think prospective clients go through a similar process when they are shopping for a lawyer?

Yes indeed. And if they don’t trust you, they won’t hire you.

If a lawyer doesn’t have a website, many clients will pass them over, even if the lawyer was referred by a friend. In addition, according to one study, 75% of consumers say that not having a professional email address (you@yourdomain.com) is an important trust factor.

I’ve mentioned this before. If you have a generic gmail or hotmail or aol email address, you’re probably losing business.

Prospective clients don’t hire lawyers they don’t trust and if you don’t want to lose business, you need to tick as many “trust” boxes as you can. Start with your online presence, which is what they see first. Your website doesn’t need to look snazzy, but it should look professional, be easy to navigate, and have lots of good content.

And when they come to see you, make sure you make eye contact and tell them the truth, not what you think they want to hear.

The 9 elements of an effective website

 

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