So simple, so easy to mess up

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Have you ever been interviewed and had the interviewer try to “share the stage” with you, talking too much instead of asking questions?

I have and it’s not good.

When you are invited to be the guest on a podcast or conference call, the host should edify you to their audience. They should present your background, say nice things about you, and make you look every bit like the expert you are.

They should make you look like you walk on water and glow in the dark so their audience will get excited about hearing you.

If they did that and then talk over you or share too much of their own knowledge and experience, they de-edify you.

Why did they invite you if they know what you know?

The host should introduce you, ask questions and let you do most of the talking. They shouldn’t interrupt you or contradict you or do anything that detracts from your image as an expert.

That doesn’t mean they can’t ask some sharp questions. It means they shouldn’t do anything to make you look bad.

Not in that kind of interview, anyway.

Edification is an important skill and it’s not that difficult. Take yourself out of the picture (mostly) and shine the spotlight on your guest.

Edification can also be used when you make a referral to another professional, introduce a guest at your event to another guest or to the speaker, or when you recommend a product or service or resource.

The only place you shouldn’t use it is when you’re talking about yourself.

Marketing is easier when you know The Formula

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Where does it hurt?

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If you want to communicate more effectively with clients and prospects (or anyone) and motivate them to act, you need to understand what makes them tick.

You need to know what they want and what they want to avoid or stop.

We’re talking about pain (what they want to stop) and it’s ugly cousin fear (what they want to prevent or avoid). Nothing motivates people to act more than these two felons.

When you understand someone’s pain, you can offer them relief. Someone is in trouble, they want to be rescued. Someone is threatened, they want protection.

When you know where they hurt or what they fear, you know what you need to say to get their attention.

You can also persuade them that you can deliver the outcomes they seek by referring to ideas and examples from their industry or market and by telling stories about clients you’ve helped overcome similar problems.

Before you talk to another prospective client, write your next article or email, or create your next presentation, take some time to discover your target market’s pain or fear, and the words they use to describe this.

One easy way to find their pain points is to find groups where your target market hangs out (Facebook, LinkedIn, et. al.) and search for words that indicate pain or problems.

General words like “help” or “trouble” or “discouraged” can point you in the right direction. More specific keywords related to what you do will give you additional fodder.

Note how people describe their problems and their pain, their frustrations, and their failed attempts to fix what ails them.

You don’t need that much. A few details, a story or two, can go a long way.

When you better understand your target market and what you need to say to the people in it, you’ll get more prospective clients to see you as the right attorney for them.

For more places to find your target market’s pain points, check out my video course on using email for marketing your services.

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Wake up, I’m not done yet!

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If you ever do presentations, from the stage or in the courtroom or boardroom, you probably know that your audience tunes out after 10 minutes or so, unless you do something to keep their attention.

An article suggests ways to do that: putting people (stories) in your presentation, using visuals (videos, photos, props, demos), and inviting questions to engage the audience.

My thoughts:

Yes, stories are important. They help illustrate your points and add an emotional element to your message. Every presentation should include them.

Visuals are important and there are many ways to do them.

I used to do a presentation using an overhead projector and a movie screen. I showed the audience slides with charts and bullet points and photos and I wrote on plastic transparencies, all of which were projected on the screen.

One night, the bulb in the projector burned out and we had no replacement.

What did I do?

I made fun of myself for being unprepared and finished the presentation without visuals.

The audience watched and listened raptly, to see if I could do it with just words, and, no doubt, to see if there would be another gaffe.

The incident provided its own visual.

Of course, you can also convey a visual element with colorful words, examples, and stories. Some of the best presenters I’ve known never use slides or visuals, they do everything with their words.

Today, I actually prefer presenting without slides, et. al. I am the visual.

I hope you noticed that instead of merely talking about visuals, I told a story.

Now, about inviting questions from the audience. . .

This is not always possible, due to time constraints, nor advisable. People ask strange questions and it’s often better to handle them in private, not in front of the room.

Instead of inviting questions, I usually ask questions. For example, “With a show of hands, how many of you. . .” or “Did you ever do X? If you did, you probably found. . .”

It gets the audience involved and avoids the risk of having someone ask, “What time will this thing be over?”

Use stories in your newsletter; this shows you what to do

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Some attorneys shouldn’t be allowed to speak in public

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A developer wants to rezone a parcel of land just outside our gated community of single-family homes and turn it into high-density multi-family residential units.

Our homeowners association is up in arms about it and last night I went to a meeting.

The bottom line: nothing has happened yet and there’s nothing we can do yet, other than attend city council meetings and make ours views known.

In other words, something that could be communicated via email.

But don’t get me started on useless meetings. No, I want to talk about the speaker (an attorney) and offer a few comments about his presentation.

He began by telling us he was an attorney and said something about “land use” but didn’t explain that his firm was hired by our board and he was there to provide a report. I had to figure that out.

NB: Start by telling the audience why you’re there and what you’re going to talk about. (Or have someone introduce you.)

Over the next 35 minutes, he appeared to provide some information. I say “appeared” because he was very difficult to follow.

NB: Use an outline, with points and sub-points, or a timeline of events, or some other logical structure to your talk. Let the audience see where you’re going so they can go on the trip with you.

He droned. Long, run-on sentences, three words when one would do, lots of conditional statements. He didn’t talk to the audience, he talked at us. When someone rudely and angrily interrupted him, he was ruder and angrier.

NB: Speak like a human being. A little charm, a little animation, a story or two. Take a breath now and then. Engage the audience. Be nice to the audience, especially when they’re paying you.

Well, that’s my report. Meeting adjourned.

Here’s how to get lawyers to send you referrals

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How much information is too much information?

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I’m outlining a new project. This one will be a freebie. Don’t worry, you’re on the list. You’ll get a copy. (Wait. You haven’t been naughty this year, have you?)

I’m using my notes from a live training I did years ago and re-purposing it. The original presentation had 12 topics. I cut that down to eight.

When I looked at my updated outline, however, I realized that eight topics are still too many. So I cut it down to three.

Three of the best. Three things every lawyer can use to bring in more business.

With only three subjects, it won’t take hours and hours to consume, or weeks for me to create.

But it’s still too long.

I want you to be able to consume this in less than an hour, so you can start using it.

So I cut it down to one.

One subject. One strategy. One lesson.

There are two parts to this lesson. They’re both valuable. But guess what? There’s still too much information.

So this morning, I put one part aside. With only one (half) lesson, I’ll have time to flesh out the subject and give you something you can use instead of just read.

If you read a lot of blogs and articles, you see that most of them fall into the category of a “round up”–a  collection of quick tips, ideas, or resources. They’re valuable but they rarely go into enough depth on any subject to allow readers to take action.

I want this to be different.

But hey, if you’re naughty, I might add back the other half of the lesson.

How to use your website to make your phone ring

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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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A simple way to dramatically improve your next presentation

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In any presentation, you want to engage your audience. You want them to think about and remember your words and feel an emotional connection to your message.

What’s the best way to accomplish this?

Carmine Gallo studied 500 of the most popular TED Talks and found a pattern:

  • 65 percent personal stories
  • 25 percent facts and figures
  • 10 percent information to back up the speaker’s credibility on the subject

In short, the key factor for better presentations is something I’ve been telling you since day one: stories.

But note that Gallo said “personal” stories, meaning stories that involve the speaker. Since you want your audience to know what you do and how you help people, when you tell stories in your presentations, articles, blog posts, or anything else, look for ways to include yourself in those stories.

Here’s a template for a client story you might use that shows you doing what you do:

A client had a problem and came to you. Opposing forces (other parties, the law, factual issues, etc.) worsened the problem and/or made it more difficult to resolve. You worked hard, overcame difficulties, and solved the problem.

As you tell the story, turn up the heat by describing the client’s pain–how the problem affected them emotionally, financially, or physically–and the relief they felt when you eventually solved the problem.

If possible, also describe how you felt. Show your empathy for the client’s situation. Mention how you struggled with some aspect of the case before you conquered it.

Yes, this type of story is easier to tell when you’re dealing with litigation but with a little effort, you can also tell an effective story about a simple transactional matter.

If a client wanted you to review the lease for their new business, for example, you can talk about the problems they might have encountered if they hadn’t had you review the lease, and the excitement they felt about their new business, which you helped them start.

Make sure your presentations include stories. Because facts tell but stories sell.

Need more referrals? This will help

 

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What vs. How

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In a “how to” article, report, or post, you describe the problem and present the various solutions you offer, but you should also tell the reader what they can do without you.

Tell them how they can avoid the problem in the first place. Tell them how to mitigate damages. Tell them how to protect themselves in the future.

The question is, having told them what to do, should you also tell them how to do it?

If you say that filing a quit claim deed is an option, should you tell them where to get the form and how to fill it out? If they can file for a simple divorce on their own will you tell them how to do it?

These are things you need to think about.

You want to provide value to readers and that usually means telling them more rather than less. More information shows them you know what you’re doing and builds trust. Being generous with your knowledge and advice endears them to you, making it more likely that if they hire any attorney, you’re the one they will choose.

But the choice isn’t always simple. If you tell them how to do something and they mess up, you may lose credibility and expose yourself to liability. If they follow your instructions successfully, they may decide they don’t need you for anything else.

Should you tell them all of the “whats” but none of the “hows”? Should you tell them all of the “hows” but encourage them to contact you to look it over?

Decisions, decisions.

My advice? Err on the side of too much rather than too little. Add your “on the other hands,” cover your backside, and encourage them to contact you to learn more. But don’t hide from telling them what to do and how to do it. Remember, you’re writing a “how to” not a “what to”.

Marketing legal services successfully starts with successful philosophies

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Feel the fear and DON’T do it

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Many say that the way to overcome fear is to face it head on. Do what you fear long enough, they tell us, and you will eventually conquer that fear.

There are others who say otherwise.

One group of philosophers say that instead of making ourselves do something that makes us uncomfortable, we should heed the feeling. “Never move forward in fear,” they say.

Who’s right?

Should we brace ourselves in the face of fear and soldier on? We know this works. If you fear public speaking, for example, but force yourself to do it enough, you often overcome the fear and are better for it.

But facing your fears can also make you miserable. For every one time we think, “I’m glad I stuck with it,” there might be three times when we think, “I never want to do that again!” Isn’t there a way to accomplish the deed without the pain?

The folks who say, “Never move forward in fear,” say there is. They say we can (and should) eliminate the fear first, or at least dilute it enough so that we aren’t bothered by it, and then take action. They also say that doing it this way will allow you to do the task more easily and get better results. You can speak without trembling knees and sweat dripping down your face.

Sounds good to me. But how? How do we dissipate the fear?

Therapy? Hypnosis? A stiff drink or two?

The philosophers who recommend this path suggest that you guide how you feel about the activity by changing your thoughts about it. “Reach for a thought that feels better,” they say. Keep doing that until the fear is all but gone.

So maybe you think, “I’m not going to have a heart attack and die on stage”. Marginally better thought, yes?

Then you think, “It’s only twenty minutes. I can get through this.” Relaxing a little. Feeling a little better.

“I have something worthwhile to say.” Yes, you do. And the audience wants to hear it.

“Actually, it’s a friendly crowd.” Feeling better and better.

“Once I get past the first few words, I’ll be okay”. That’s the ticket.

And so on. Little by little, thought by thought, you think your way to feeling better and better until the fear is all but gone.

I’ve done this before and it works. It takes a little practice, but it’s not difficult.

Anyway, you don’t have to feel the fear and do it anyway, you can remove the fear and feel good about it.

Try it. Find something you know would be good for you but you’ve been putting off because of fear. Change your thoughts about it, little by little, until the fear is gone or at least completely under control. And then do it.

Your mind is powerful. It created your fears and it can be used to eliminate them.

Afraid to ask for referrals? This shows you how to get them without asking

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Selling ice to eskimos

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I took a speech class in college. When it was time to deliver my presentation, I talked about insurance and retirement planning. Yep, to a bunch of 18-year olds.

A friend was selling insurance and provided me with information I could use in the presentation. I made the case for buying insurance when you’re young and the insurance is cheap. I told them I had purchased a policy for that reason and encouraged them to do the same. I offered to introduce them to my friend who could tell them more.

As you might have guessed, despite doing a good presentation (according to my teacher), there were no takers.

I had a good message (arguably) but delivered it to the wrong audience.

If my audience had been a group of newly married young people or young couples who had just had a child, I might have gotten better results.

There are many elements that go into crafting a marketing message but none is more important than your audience. If your audience doesn’t have the legal problem you’re talking about, for example, and believes they are unlikely to ever have it, your message will fall on deaf ears.

A well-crafted message with a crazy-good offer heard by the wrong audience will fail. A mediocre message and offer delivered to the right audience, however, might do just fine.

Before you do any presentation, write a blog post or article, record a video, send mail or email to a list, or run an ad, the first question you must ask is, “Who is the audience?”

If you have the wrong audience for your message, you either need to change the audience or change the message.

If you’re a personal injury lawyer and you’re addressing a group of people who have never been in an accident, don’t talk to them about how to get the highest settlement, talk to them about what to do when they do have an accident.

Sales people pre-qualify prospects and leads before talking to them, and you should, too. Find out if your audience needs what you’re selling and if they can afford to buy it. If they don’t need it or can’t afford it, go talk to someone else.

Get your website to pre-sell your services to visitors. Click here

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