My dinner with Bob

A few years back my wife and I went to dinner with our old friends Bob and Lou Ann. During dinner, Bob mentioned something I’d recently written on my blog.

I was surprised since Bob isn’t a lawyer. And he’s retired. And I figured he probably has better things to do than to read my utterances.

But apparently, we’re connected on LinkedIn where my blog posts are re-posted and he reads them there.

You never know who is following you, reading you, keeping tabs on what you’re doing. And you never know the reach of your network.

Your connections have connections, and while a personal friend may not need your services, he may know someone who does.

Bob was in business for a long time. He knows other lawyers. If one of them mentions that they were looking for help with something in my wheelhouse, I’m sure Bob would tell them about me. Or forward something I’d written to them.

The lesson: you may not depend on social media for marketing, but don’t ignore it.

Connect with people you know and people you want to know. Clients, former clients, professionals, and personal friends. People who know people who might need your help. Or know people who know people.

Because marketing isn’t just about who you know. It’s about who they know.

Build your list and stay in touch with it

Do you have to get a lawyer to get divorced in Indiana?

Saw this question posted on Quora. If you’re a divorce lawyer in Indiana, should you answer it?

Should you go looking for questions like this for your practice area or jurisdiction?

My take:

Answering questions on forums probably won’t bring in a lot of business. More importantly, the business it does bring probably won’t be high quality. 

Yes, there are exceptions. You might indeed get some decent clients this way. If you’re just starting out or you otherwise have the time to troll through forums and answer questions, why not?

Just don’t make this your primary marketing method.

On the other hand, there are some very good reasons why visiting forums and answering questions can be a good use of your time.

You’ll get to learn what people want to know about the law in your practice area. You’ll see the words they use to describe their situation, their pain, and their desired outcomes. This can help you write more effective marketing documents.

You can get some ideas for blog posts and your newsletter. Hey, I got this idea from a forum, didn’t I?

You could get some traffic to your website from the answers you post. That might improve your website “score” in the eyes of the search czars, and that could bring you some good clients.

Now, are you thinking what I’m thinking? Did a divorce lawyer in Indiana ask someone to post that question so he could answer it?

Devious minds want to know.

Your best clients come from referrals

What’s wrong with this picture?

I saw a post on Flakebook this morning that made me want to scream. It said, “If anybody needs to reach me today, I won’t be available until Noon.”

What’s wrong with that? It’s terrible posture.

It says, “I’m online most of the time because I’m not very busy. I’m not very busy because I’m not very good at my job and don’t have a lot of clients. I hope you need me and will contact me and give me some work. Please?”

Yes, you want clients and prospects to know that you can be reached if they need you, but not like this.

Let them know you have office hours. If there’s an emergency, they can reach you through an assistant or answering service (if you have that kind of practice). Otherwise, they should contact your assistant and see if they can help them. Or make an appointment to see you or speak to you. Or leave a message for you and you’ll get back to them as soon as your schedule permits.

Bad posture: Call me any time. Email me any time. Message me any time. And expect me to be available at any time.

Good posture: I’m busy. In high demand. My time is valuable. You can talk to me but you have to get in line and follow the rules.

If you’re not busy, don’t tell anyone. Nobody wants to hire an attorney that nobody else wants to hire.

If you are busy, let people know it. It will make them want you even more.

What’s wrong with this email?

I got an email from someone who calls himself a “wealth manager and financial advisor”. Apparently, we’re connected on LinkedIn because his email begins, “Hi David. We’re connected on LinkedIn. . .”

He said, “I wanted to reach out to you personally and share important information on some of the recent Tax Changes for 2018 for Business Owners. Please enjoy this short video and give us a call if we can better assist you with your Financial and Estate Planning questions.”

What’s wrong with his approach? His email?

Is it that he oddly capitalized “Tax Changes for Business Owners” and “Financial and Estate Planning”?

Is he trying to impress me by making what he does look more important?

Ooh, he doesn’t just handle estate planning, he handles Estate Planning. He must be good.

Is it that he begins by saying, “I wanted to reach out to you personally. . .” and then says, “give US a call if WE can better assist you”?

We? What happened to “I”? Is he a member of the Royal Family?

Okay, these aren’t deal killers. But they aren’t unimportant. Little things make a difference, especially when you’re writing to a professional nit-picker.

I like that he’s offering information that might be valuable to me. (I didn’t watch the video, so I don’t know.) I liked that he didn’t tell me all about himself and his practice. He provided a link to his website under his signature so I could learn more about him and his practice.

I also liked that he mentioned our being connected on LinkedIn so I would know where he got my name and wouldn’t think he was spamming professionals and business owners he finds on the Internet.

But that’s exactly what his email makes it look like he’s doing.

If he had read my profile, he would know I’m an attorney or a professional, not a business owner. Wait, Business Owner. Okay, I’m also a business owner, but he didn’t do anything to personalize his message so it looks like junk mail.

He didn’t mention anything we have in common. He didn’t say anything about my business or website. He didn’t say anything about one of my posts he liked.

Had he done any of those things, I might have watched his video or visited his website. Who knows where that might lead.

But he didn’t. So I deleted his email and will never find out if he’s someone worth talking to about financial planning or how we might work together.

A cautionary tale.

Cold emails (and calls) are a viable way to build a professional practice. Even when you send them to people who aren’t social media connections.

But if you make no effort to personalize your email or connect with the recipient, you’re just wasting electrons.

How to use email to build your practice

Getting referrals without breaking a sweat

See, I get it. You don’t want to ask your clients or professional contacts for referrals. Even though I’ve shown you more than a few easy and natural ways to do that, you’d rather swallow a cup of nails than ask anyone to send you some business.

Alrighty then. Be that way. But let me show you another option.

Instead of asking people to refer clients to you, ask them to refer those folks to your content. Or more accurately, share that content with them and ask them to do the same.

Have you ever shared a video you like on Youtube or Flakebook? Have you ever shared a blog post or article with someone you think might like it, too? Of course you have. And you will continue to do that because we’re humans and humans like to share.

Why not do the same thing with your own content?

Tell folks about yur article and ask them to share it. Ask your clients to forward the link to your new report to anyone who might benefit from the information. Ask them to hit the share button on your blog post or youtube video.

When you’re networking and someone asks a legal question, give them a page on your website that addresses that issue.

People come to your website, consume your content, see that you know what you’re doing, and before you know it, you have some new clients.

Easy.

Your content shows people what you do and how you can help them or people they know. Your content sells them on hiring you, so you don’t have to. All you have to do is get your content out into the world and ask people to share it.

The catch? You have to have some content to share. You have to write something or record something that prospective clients want to consume.

So do that. And then share it.

Let me show you how easy this is.

Do you know a lawyer who might want to get more clients and increase his or her income? Forward this email to them so they can see that getting referrals is easy. Add a note to the top: “Joe, thought you might like this”.

(If you’re reading this on my blog, click the share button and send it that way).

Done and done.

See, that wasn’t difficult?

Now, go write something and share it.

More easy ways to get referrals

Facebook wants us to kill each other but I’m not taking the bait

Facebook and other social media platforms are rife with ugliness, especially during the political season. It’s like we’re all in a giant sandbox, yelling at the other kids and calling them a doody face. Facebook censors a lot of content but they’re smart enough to realize that the more we fight, the more eyeballs they get on their ads.

Anyway, this morning I thought that a good rule of thumb would be to never say anything on social media we wouldn’t say in person.

What do you think, good rule?

I’ve blocked so many “friends” lately it’s crazy. Me: “Okay, I used to think this person was smart, now I see they are an idiot. Or evil. Or both. Life is too short and I don’t want to have anything to do with them. Blocked.”

Why not reply? Defend my side of the issue? Show them the error of their wicked ways?

Not worth it. I have better things to do. Besides, I don’t really know most of them.

Sometimes (and by sometimes I mean every day) I wish there were no social media.

Omm.

Anyway, this morning, I read an article about a memo written by advertising legend David Ogilvy in 1982. The memo includes ten “rules” for better writing, the tenth of which made me pause and reflect: “If you want ACTION, don’t write. Go and tell the guy what you want.”

Of course today he would be vilified on social media for saying “guy” instead of “person,” but it’s good advice don’t you think? If it’s important, talk to people.

What if instead of writing a demand letter we went and visited opposing counsel and told them what we wanted and why? Or at least called and spoke to them?

I don’t know if we’d get better results but I’m almost certain our interaction would be more professional and dignified. We might get testy but we’d have a conversation, not a shouting match (usually). Even if we didn’t agree on anything, we would at least respect the other person in the morning.

In my pre-digital days, I encountered many fools but I was able to get along with most of them.  I had no choice. I couldn’t block them so I had to learn how to play nice with those doody faces.

I do use social media. Here’s how

My take on gun control

I have a very strong opinion on the gun control issue. I’d like to share it with you but I would be a fool if I did. I write about marketing, not politics or policy. Telling you my opinion on an emotionally charged issue like gun control might satisfy my need to express myself, but from a marketing standpoint it would be a mistake.

I might lose half of my readers who disagree with me. If I represented a special interest group or had a talk show or forum of some sort where “taking sides” was part of the deal, fine. But I don’t, so why unnecessarily alienate people who might hire me?

As a friend of mine colorfully advises, “Don’t shit on your money”.

And that’s my advice to you.

There is a way to talk about issues like gun control, climate change, abortion, and the like without stabbing yourself in the back. You do that by writing about those issues as though you were writing a Bar exam essay.

Present both sides of the issue–the legal arguments and the body of law–in an unbiased manner. The facts and arguments on one side, and then the other. Leave out the conclusion altogether, or couch it in terms of “if/then”.

State the facts and keep your opinion to yourself.

Your clients and prospects, readers and listeners, will appreciate you for educating them about both sides of the issue and for giving them credit for making up their own mind. You have presented a valuable service to them, and haven’t pushed anyone away.

I know, it’s hard to keep mum about what we think, especially when we have strongly held opinions about important issues. But we just can’t go there.

When I see what some people post on Facebook, I have to bite my tongue and watch cat videos to calm down. But I don’t comment. I also don’t like political posts I agree with. I don’t let anyone know my opinion.

Lately, however, I’ve taken to un-following people who reveal their foolishness through their posts. I’m not their client or prospect, so it doesn’t matter, but if I were, their opinions might cost them a small fortune.

What to write on your website or blog

 

Email marketing done wrong

I got an email this morning, from a guy in Russia. The subject, “Let’s do business”. The message:

I’m running a digital marketing agency focusing on local businesses that need help getting leads using PPC and Facebook ads.

One of the niches we’re definitely interested in are attorneys and you seem like an expert on this topic.

I’m not sure what kind of marketing services you provide to your clients but it would be good to have a quick talk and and see if we can bring more value to your customers by working together on some projects.

I won’t want to bore you with excessive details. . . get back to me if you’re interested in general. . .

You don’t know what kind of services I offer? Why not? You want to work with me on some projects? Yeah, I think I’ll pass. But I’ll use your email as an example of email marketing done wrong, thank you.

I don’t want to talk to this guy. I don’t know him and he obviously doesn’t know me. But even if he said something brilliant and I wanted to learn more, it’s waay too soon to talk.

So no thanks. Delete. Bye.

What could he have done differently?

For starters, how about personalizing the email? Show me you’ve actually read something I wrote or at least know what kinds of services I offer.

Then. . . let’s see. . .

How about mentioning the name of someone I know who referred you to me? That would get my attention.

Or how about mentioning the name of someone in my field you’re working with whose name would impress me and show me you’ve got some credentials?

How about friending me on social media, first? Like and share my posts, engage me, talk to me about something we have in common. When you email me, then, you can mention that we’re connected and remind me that we already have a “relationship” before you take the next step.

How about offering me something I might be interested in? A free report, a tip sheet, a checklist, a video, for example, that shows me how to make more money, save time, get more leads, or something else that interests me, related to what you do?

How about offering me a free trial of your product or service, so I can see if it’s something I want to use or recommend to my clients?

How about at least giving me your website, so I can learn something about you and how you can help me?

Get my attention, first. Show me you have something beneficial to offer to me or my clients. Earn my trust, before asking me to talk.

Attorneys can use cold emails in their marketing. But don’t just blast them out and hope for the best. Don’t “spray and pray”. Learn something about the prospective client or referral source, meet them where they are, take them by the hand and walk them towards where you want them to go.

They’ll come, but at their pace, not yours.

Marketing online? Here’s what you need

Successful lawyers don’t have time for Facebook

Busy, successful lawyers don’t have a lot of time for Facebook. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use social media in your marketing if you want to. It means you need to be careful that you don’t look like you have an abundance of free time to do it, especially during work hours.

And yet, that’s what many attorneys do.

They might actually be extremely busy and only log in once or twice a day. They might re-post or share others’ posts and not create any of their own. They might use software to automate everything and spend only five or ten minutes a day on social.

It doesn’t matter. If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck.

Don’t be a duck.

Watch what you post, and when. Post about weekend things on the weekends. During the workday, be careful. Share your law firm blog post, but don’t invite people to play a game.

And whatever you do, don’t post too much or too often.

In some businesses, an easy lifestyle with lots of free time are part of the sales pitch. You want people to see (or think) that you don’t work that hard and have lots of time for sports, working on your classic car, and trying out new restaurants.

But people think successful lawyers are busy and work hard, and even if that’s not true of you, that’s what you want the world to think.

Want to know how I use social media for marketing? Get this

And the award goes to. . .

I won! I am the best blogger in the legal marketing arena. A NYC law firm just said so. They posted it on their blog, wrote about it in their newsletter, and sent out a press release telling the legal media why they think my blog is la creme de la creme.

Woo hoo! What an honor! I’m going to tell everyone I know!

Okay that didn’t happen. But if it did, I would certainly tell everyone I knew about it and give them a link to the firm’s website where they announced that I had won.

Wouldn’t you?

So, how could you use this idea for marketing purposes? Hmmm, let’s see. . .

What if once a month you announced your “client of the month” and featured one of your business clients on your blog or in your newsletter?

What if you announced an award to a local business or professional practice that isn’t a client but gave you or someone you know great service?

What if you let your clients or subscribers nominate local businesses and then vote on the winner?

Find people or businesses (or charities, community groups, etc.) who are doing something right and honor them with an award. Give them a certificate or a plaque, feature them on social media, interview the owner, and send out a press release.

You’ll get someone who is grateful for the attention and will probably send their customers, clients, or friends to your website to see what you said about them. You’ll get some new subscribers and followers, links to your website, and maybe some new clients.

And you’ll feel good knowing you called attention to someone who deserves it.