Show ’em

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Actors carry a portfolio of headshots to show casting agents what they look like in different roles. Wedding photographers, home improvement companies, real estate agents, and other businesses keep photos of the houses they’ve sold, the kitchens they’ve remodeled, and the weddings they’ve shot.

If they can do this, why can’t you?

But how?

The practice of law is abstract. Intangible. You can’t show people photos of you doing your work?

But you can do the next best thing.

You can show photos of you on stage, giving a presentation. You can show photos of yourself on the courthouse steps, copies of articles you’ve published, and certificates or awards you’ve received.

You can create a “brag book” or section of your website dedicated to displaying third party validation of your capabilities. A place to publish screen shots of reviews, testimonials, letters of praise, success stories, and positive press coverage you’ve received.

Do you have any famous cases or clients (and permission to so mention)? So, mention them.

Do you sponsor a Little League team? Photos, please.

Have you written a book? Where’s the cover?

Do you teach CLE or serve as an arbitrator, mediator, or judge pro tem? We’d like to see you in action.

And hey, what about your personal side?

Do you like to cook? Paint? Build? Do you restore classic cars? Help out at your kid’s school?

They have nothing to do with your practice but everything to do with you, and people want to know about you.

So show ’em.

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Do you make this mistake in your newsletter?

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When you set up a new newsletter, one of the first things you’ll do is add one or more emails to the auto responder. These emails go out automatically as new subscribers sign up.

Typically, the first email will welcome them, tell them how often they can expect to receive your newsletter, provide a link to download the report or other incentive you promised, and a few other housekeeping matters.

But if that’s all it does, it’s missing the most important element.

Most people subscribe because they want the information you offer in your report. But they found your site or page because they were looking for an attorney to help them with a problem.

So, make sure your first email, and every email, tells them what to do to get your help.

Your contact information, sure, but more than that—tell them what to do and why.

Tell them to call or fill out a form. Tell them what happens when they do.

No, it’s not too soon to do that. No, you don’t need to send more information first, to warm them up and build value before you sell them on taking the next step.

They need help. They might be ready to talk to you and hire you today. So, tell them what to do.

If you don’t, their problem might get worse, or. . . they might call someone else.

You don’t have to hard sell. You don’t have to go into a lot of detail. But you should tell them what to do and why.

Show them the pathway to getting the help they need and want.

In every email.

Not everyone is ready to talk to you or hire immediately, of course, so deliver the information, too. Tell them about the law, their risks, their options.

But do that in addition to telling them to contact you, and why.

You might not need more than a sentence or two, with a phone number or a link. Sometimes, you’ll do more. But never do less.

How to build your practice with an email newsletter

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Two goals for your website

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When someone arrives at your website, you want two things to happen.

First, you want them to give you their email address, so you can follow up with them since the odds are they won’t call you on their first visit.

In fact, if your website does nothing else but capture the identity of visitors, it will have served its purpose.

Many people build profitable businesses with a simple landing page and an enticing offer. No other information, no address, no list of products or services, not even their name. That all comes later, via email.

I’m not saying this is what you should do. But if you wanted to, you could.

Assuming you have a more traditional website, that leads to the second goal. Achieving this second goal will make achieving the first goal much more likely.

Your second goal is to convince the visitor that they’ve found the right lawyer.

Can you do that on their first visit? To a great extent, you can. You can show visitors that you have the knowledge and experience to help them with their specific problem or aim.

Key word here is “specific”.

You convince someone, first-time visitor or otherwise, that the work you do, the problems you solve, the benefits you deliver, are exactly what they want and need.

The simplest way to do that is to show them you specialize.

You don’t do “everything,” like many lawyers; you’re not a Jack or Jill of all trades. You focus on providing solutions to the very problem they’re having, the problem that prompted them to come looking for an attorney.

Choose one practice area exclusively, or lead with one practice area and “hide” the others, in the footer of your site or on other pages.

Or on other websites.

When someone finds your website, you want them to see they’ve come to the right place. Show them that and they’ll want to learn more. Show them everything you do and you dilute the effect and may drive them to keep looking.

Clients prefer lawyers who specialize. The same way patients prefer doctors who do. The way you prefer to hire a lawyer who consults with lawyers on marketing, rather than a marketing generalist.

More: The Attorney Marketing Formula

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Don’t want to blog? Do this.

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If you don’t want to set up a blog but you’d like to use your knowledge to bring traffic to your website, guest blogging is a viable alternative.

Basically, that means offering your content to blogs that target your niche or market in return for a link to your website.

This allows you to write content when and if you feel like it, instead of sticking to a schedule.

But the biggest benefit is that this gives you the ability to leverage the traffic that visits those blogs.

And, by appearing on authority blogs, you also gain their implied endorsement; sometimes, their actual endorsement if they add some kind words about you.

You get traffic, build your authority, and get a lot of eyeballs looking at what you do when they arrive at your website.

If your website includes an opt-in feature, you can also build your email list this way.

You can even this with just a one-page website.

Start by searching for blogs in your niche that accept guest posts. Review their guidelines. Read several posts to get a sense of what they publish (subjects, length, slant). If some posts have a lot of comments or shares, see if you can figure out why.

And then, contact the publisher to offer your first post.

Blogs like to publish content written by authorities, and as an attorney, you certainly tick that box. You need to show the publisher or editor a subject they think is appropriate for and of interest to their readers, and you need to show them you can write.

As for your writing chops, link to articles you’ve published online, or send a sample or two.

Note, most blogs that publish guest posts will link to your website (or social media), but some may not be willing to do that. I once wrote a post for the ABA and they wouldn’t provide a link to my site. I wrote it anyway because it’s a nice credit, but I probably wouldn’t do that for other publications.

If you know anyone in your niche that runs a blog or other publication, start by querying them. If your practice area isn’t right for their audience, they can point you to other blogs that may be better suited, and possibly recommend you to them. They might also offer general advice about how to approach publishers.

Finally, if you know a blog that would be a good match for you but they don’t publish guest posts, contact them anyway. Yours may be their first.

How to use a blog to build your law practice

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What’s the best lead magnet?

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What’s the best freebie to offer people as an incentive for signing up for your email list?

A report? Ebook? Checklist? Form? Webinar?

The format isn’t that important. What’s important is that you offer your target market something they want enough to get them to give you their email.

So, what do they want?

They want to solve a problem, learn about the process, understand their options, get their questions answered, make a better decision. . .

Offer them that and they’ll sign-up.

But don’t spend days or weeks creating the perfect lead magnet. You can create something that’s “good enough” in just a few minutes.

Here’s how:

  1. Write down 5 or 10 questions prospective clients typically ask you before they hire you. You know the drill: questions about the law, procedure, their risks, their options, your services, how you can help them, how to get started.
  2. Grab your phone and dictate answers to these questions.

You can also spend a minute or so telling them about yourself, how you work with your clients, and what to do if someone wants more information or is ready to take the next step.

No hard sell. Just information.

And you’re done.

Yep, you can copy that recording and make it your lead magnet.

Or transcribe the recording, edit it, and use that.

Give it a title that promises the benefit they want. And start offering it.

Remember, good enough is good enough. You can improve it later.

The point is, you need to create something today so you can offer it on your website tomorrow.

Because every visitor to your site who doesn’t opt-in is, you must assume, not coming back.

Email marketing for attorneys

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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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