The wave of the future for attorney marketing


In the 1967 film, The Graduate, Dustin Hoffman’s character was at a party, wondering about his future career, when he was taken aside and offered some advice. “Plastics. There’s a great future in plastics,” he was told.

Plastics were the next big thing in 1967. Today? Who knows.

The thing is, when it comes to attorney marketing, there is no next big thing. It’s still all about information and people. Always was. Always will be.

Technology changes. Fundamentals don’t.

Educate your market place about the law, about problems and solutions, and about the process. Stay in touch with your clients and prospects. Treat people the way you would like to be treated. That’s all attorneys have ever had to do to build a successful practice and it still is.

Don’t get hung up on what “everyone” else is doing or feel left behind if you aren’t following the latest trend. But don’t stick your head in the sand, either. Technology does make things easier, quicker, and cheaper.

Put content on a website or blog because it makes it easier to educate your market and communicate with clients and prospects, not because someone said you must. Use social media to find and engage people because it expands your reach (and you enjoy it), not because all the cool lawyers do it.

The wave of the future for attorney marketing is information and people, same as always. Slicker and more fun with an iPad, but still the same.

Starting or expanding your website or blog? Start here.


No list? No clients for you!


Most of us marketing folks go on and on about the need for a list, especially an opt-in email list. If you don’t have a list, you’re probably sick of hearing about it. If you do have a list, you know we’re right.

With a list, you are one click away from new business. Send an email, clients call. Without a list, what do you do? Please don’t say, “call prospects and ask if they’re ready for an appointment”.

With a list, you can remind people who you are and what you do. You can introduce a new service. You can ask for (and get) subscribers to promote your webinar or local event, Like your page, or forward a link to your new blog post. You can get former clients to hire you again. You can get referrals. Lots and lots of referrals.

Without a list. . . you do a lot of waiting.

You’ll hear some “experts” say that email is dead or dying. They are wrong. Email is as strong as ever.

There’s nothing wrong with social media. It just doesn’t pull in clients like an email list. Not even close.

Advertising is fine and dandy. But instead of “call or don’t call” give them the option of getting more information by signing up for your list. You’ll be able to get your name and message in front of them again next week, next month, and next year.

Networking is awesome. So is public speaking, blogging, and writing articles. But if you don’t build a list, you’re only getting a small percentage of the results you could get from those activities.

If you want to know how to start a list (or grow one), you can learn what to do in “Make the Phone Ring”. It’s not hard to get started and make the phone ring. What’s hard is waiting for the phone to ring.


Bullet Journal: A paper based system for recording and managing tasks


I was browsing the “What’s Popular” category on Youtube and saw a video about Bullet Journal, an analog journaling and note taking system. Basically, it’s a way to use pen and paper (or a Moleskine notebook) to record and manage your tasks, notes, and events.

What I like:

  • Pen and paper and Moleskine notebooks
  • The idea of having everything with me in one book
  • Writing on paper makes you think about what you’re writing
  • Low cost, always on, no batteries needed
  • The website. Great way to show you what it is and how it works
  • The title: Bullet Journal

What I don’t like:

  • Too much writing
  • Too much re-writing
  • Not good for projects (without a lot of re-writing)
  • Not good for recurring tasks (without a lot of re-writing)
  • You can’t move anything (without re-writing)
  • Writing on paper makes you think about what you’re writing (and maybe I just want to get it out of my head and not think about it)
  • I’ve already got a calendar

You probably know that I use Evernote to record my notes, tasks and projects. One place for everything and everything with me everywhere. If I wanted to go analog, however, the concepts behind Bullet Journal are appealing. But watching the video of what it takes to write and re-write tasks makes me glad I don’t use a paper-based system.

How about you? Do you use a paper based system? What do you think of Bullet Journal?

If you use Evernote, get my Evernote for Lawyers ebook.


Internet marketing for attorneys and handymen


My wife and I hired a handyman yesterday. She found Dan on a review site for trades people. He had nearly 100 positive reviews, more than any other on the site.

Dan doesn’t have his own website. He probably thinks he doesn’t need one. He’s got all that business coming in from the review site and I’m sure he also gets lots of referrals.

But what if that review site shuts down? Yes it does happen. Sites that aren’t making money, sites that are mismanaged, sites that get sold to someone who has different ideas.

Just like that, Dan’s online presence would be gone. All the business from that site, gone.

Then what?

Okay, he would still get referrals. But when the people getting referred go online to “check him out” and find nothing, what do you think they will do? They’ll go find someone else, that’s what they’ll do.

Now then, how about you? What kind of online presence do you have? Do you have a website? If you don’t and someone goes online to “check you out,” what will they find? Bad stuff? No stuff? Don’t you want them to see some good stuff?

If you do have a website but it is hosted on a site that you don’t own, what will you do if that site goes away?

It won’t happen? That’s what everyone who had their sites at said, just before they shut down.

You need your own site. Hosted on your own account.

Directory listings and reviews on other sites are fine. Having a page on your firm’s site is fine. You still need your own site.

I get a lot of emails from attorneys who use the email account at their current employer’s law firm. But what happens when they leave that firm? They lose that email address.

A year from now, if someone has a referral and wants to email them, they can’t. They don’t work here anymore. Do they track him down? Who knows.

So, if you’re not ready to create your own website, at least get you own domain name and your own email address that will never change.

Here are some of the resources I use and recommend for domains and hosting.

And here is my course on Internet marketing for attorneys.

And, if you need a good handyman. . .


Audit your website


When was the last time you audited your website?

Okay, you need to do that. You need to go through the pages of your site and make sure that all of the requisite elements are present.

Like your contact form. Have you made it easy for website visitors to contact you by phone and email (at least)? Is there a link to this on every page?

Or your newsletter sign up form. You want visitors to join your list so you can stay in touch with them until they are ready to hire you or refer someone. That should also be on every page.

How about a page that lists all of your services, with links to sub-pages providing details about each of those services?

But here’s the thing. Your website may have these and other essential elements and you may think you’ve got things covered. But having them isn’t enough. They need to be easy to find, easy to understand, and easy to use. It’s hard to be objective about things like this.

So, after you audit your website, I suggest you find someone who has never seen your website and ask them to do the same.

Ask them to go through your site, page by page, and tell you what they see and what they think. You might do this with another lawyer, i.e., they go through your site and you go through theirs.

Give some instructions, i.e., “find the services I provide,” “sign up for my newsletter,” or “email me and tell me you want an appointment.”

Have them report if they hit any snags along the way. Was everything easy to find? Was it easy to understand? Did anything slow you down? Did you have any questions that weren’t answered?

Have them start on your home page, and then start again on one of your blog post or article pages, i.e., “landing pages” where they might enter your site if they find it via search.

After they read the home page, ask them to tell you what page they went to next. How long did they stay there? How many pages did they click through to get to something they wanted to see?

The best way to do this is to sit them down in front of a computer and watch them. As they go through your pages, have them narrate their journey–what they see and what they think.

See if they can quickly navigate through your site and find everything you have asked them to find and anything else they are attracted to. This is very valuable information.

You’ll learn what your website visitors encounter when they arrive at your site. You’ll see what you need to add, improve, move, or replace. You’ll know what questions visitors ask themselves as they arrive at and click through your site. And you’ll see how long it takes them to find the key elements that make your site work.

In Make the Phone Ring, I identify nine essential website elements for attracting (prospective) clients and getting them to hire you or take the next step. Whether you create your own websites or hire someone, if you want to get more clients online, you need to know what these elements are and how to implement them. Check it out on this page.


Yahoo buys Tumblr, promises “not to screw it up”


So Yahoo buys Tumblr, the micro blogging platform for 1.1 billion and then announce that they “promise not to screw it up“.

That’s inspiring, isn’t it?

It says, “yeah, we know we’ve messed up before, but we’re going to try real hard not to do that again.”

I know, they want to assuage the fears of some 100 million customers they seem to know won’t be happy about the acquisition. But from a marketing standpoint, “we won’t screw it up” is not a good message.

Why call attention to your past screw ups? Why tell the world what you won’t do?

Can you imagine an attorney getting a big case and issuing a press release that says, “I won’t lose this one”.

Tell the world what you will do, not what you won’t. Tell the world where you are going, so they can see why they should follow.

Apparently, more than a few Tumblr customers don’t believe the promise and have migrated their blogs from Tumblr to But while might have a track record of “not screwing up,” customers who depend on their blogs for business purposes should avoid the hosted and opt for, the self-hosted, open-source version that I and millions of other websites use.

With the recent demise of Posterous, millions of people found out the hard way what happens when your hosted website shuts down.

But shutting down the service that hosts your business website is only one of the ways a host can “screw up”. If Yahoo/Tumblr,, Blogger, or any of the other hosted platforms change something, customers have to live with those changes, even if they don’t like them. If they want to do something that isn’t allowed, they’re also out of luck.

I use because it is the best software for the job. I host it myself because I want complete control over what I can and can’t do.

And I promised myself I won’t screw it up.


What’s wrong with this attorney’s newspaper ad?


An attorney’s newspaper ad just appeared in our local paper. Take a look and tell me what you think.

Here’s the ad:

Law Offices of

7 lines of information about the attorney’s (30 years) civil and criminal trial experience and his recent move to our area.

“For more information regarding the law in your specific case, please contact my office for a free consultation by phone or at my office.”

Law Offices of

The ad includes the attorney’s head shot.

So, what do you think? What’s good? What’s bad? What’s missing?

Let’s start with the good.

He does present an OFFER (Free Consultation) and a CALL TO ACTION (“Call my office”).

That’s good.

He could improve his offer by telling the reader the benefits of the consultation (i.e., “Find out your rights and options, so you know what to do. . . get all your questions answered,” and so on). He should also let them know that there is no cost (yes, even though it is a “Free Consultation,” tell them again) and no obligation.

He could improve the call to action by writing his phone number BIG AND BOLD in the same sentence. “Call my office at [phone]. . .”. Even though it is spelled out below in his contact information. Don’t make people look for it.

He mentions his experience and that’s good. Including his photo is also good for this type of ad.

Now, what about the bad.

There are two things missing from this ad and they are big. Really big.

First, the headline. Or rather, the lack thereof.

You can’t use your name for a headline. Well, you can, but it’s a mistake. Why? Because unless you are famous and your name is something that people will recognize and be drawn to, your ad isn’t going to catch anyone’s attention.

Nobody cares about you. They’re busy and have their own problems and lives to lead. They’re not going to notice your ad.

Okay, some people will notice it. The ones who read the paper cover to cover every week will probably glimpse at the ad because it’s new. But most people won’t. More importantly, most of the people who need a lawyer won’t. And if they don’t notice the ad, they won’t read it and if they don’t read it, they’re not going to call.

What should be in the headline? Well, the attorney does civil and criminal litigation, so how about something that speaks to people who have been sued or arrested and don’t know what to do.

Like this:

Sued? Arrested? Find out your legal rights and options–FREE!

Okay, not brilliant, but can you see how this identifies the people this attorney is targeting? And promises a benefit?

If you’ve been sued or arrested and you’re turning pages in this newspaper, a headline like this is going to flag you down. It says, “Hey, you there with the big hairy legal problem, here’s something good for you.”

Because your lawsuit or arrest is very much on your mind right now, you stop turning pages and look at the ad.

The headline did it’s job. It got your attention and promised a benefit. So now you read the first line of the body copy. If that grabs you and promises a benefit, you keep reading. Then you see the offer for a free consultation and you might call.

Without a headline, it doesn’t matter how compelling the body copy or how great the offer because nobody will see them because they never stopped to read the ad.

Your ad is only as good as your headline.

Okay, what else is missing? Take another look and see if you can spot it.

Of course. No website.

Not having a website is unacceptable today. Guaranteed disqualification in the eyes of many prospective clients. Why? Because all they have to go on is a few self-serving words in an ad. No proof. No details. No reason to trust.

There’s no helpful information that might begin to answer their questions. The only way to get more information is to call.

If you are the only attorney in town, they would have no choice. But you’re not. A quick visit to Uncle Google or Auntie Bing reveals that there are hundreds of attorneys who do what you do, right here in my area code. And they have websites. I can go read all about my problem and their solutions, and find out things I want to know before I call.

So, prospects see your ad without a website and either (a) cross you off the list because you are a dinosaur, or (b) go online to search your name and, finding nothing, cross you off the list.

In other words, the only ones who might call are fellow dinosaurs, a species that is quickly dying out.

Actually, there are two additional clues in the ad that this attorney is living in a different century. They are both in his contact info.

The first is the word “Facsimile”. Go ask your 25 year old neighbor if he even knows what that word means.

The second is the attorney’s email address, which I didn’t include. It’s Yes, Netscape. Didn’t they help Al Gore start the Internet?

Obviously, the attorney doesn’t realize how antiquated this makes him look. Somebody should send him a telegram and let him know.

Marketing for 21st century attorneys. Click here to upgrade.


Gmail users now have another way to achieve inbox zero


In my Evernote For Lawyers ebook, I described how I (finally) achieved “inbox zero”. In case you don’t know, that means my email inbox is empty. The short version of how I did it: I identified the important emails that needed a reply or further action or that I needed to save and then archived everything else.

If you’ve never experienced an inbox zero, you should try it. Looking at an empty inbox and knowing that you have everything under control is a great feeling.

Now, what about the important emails? No surprises. I forward them to Evernote where I tag them for further action or assign them to a project. This allows me to keep my email inbox empty.

But there is a niggling issue. To reply to the original email I have saved to Evernote, rather than starting a new email, I have to find the original email in my Gmail archive. Not terribly difficult, but I just leaned something that makes it so much easier.

It turns out that Gmail allows you to bookmark your emails. Every email has a unique URL that you can access from your browser address bar. By copying and pasting that URL into an Evernote note or other note taking app, you can retrieve that email by clicking on the url. If you are logged into your Gmail account, the bookmarked email will open, ready for your reply.

Gmail gives you other options for curating and retrieving emails. Labels, filters, and stars are all helpful. But there’s nothing faster or more accurate than clicking on a URL to find a specific email.

You can also use this function to bookmark emails you need for an upcoming meeting or event. Paste the URL into your todo app or calendar and everything you need is just one click away.

Do you bookmark your email URLs? How has this helped you become more productive?

Evernote for Lawyers shows you how to get organized and increase your productivity


Attorneys want to know: How often should I email my list?


After yesterday’s post about email, I heard from a lawyer who wanted my take on his email signature. Ah, but it wasn’t a signature, it was an attachment (pdf). I pointed out that

  • Some email servers treat emails with attachments as spam so his emails might not get through,
  • Some people refuse to open attachments because they’re afraid it might contain a virus, and
  • Many people simply won’t take the time to open an attachment.

So, while his attachment has some good information in it, a lot of people will never see it. I recommended a simple text or rich text signature, so people can see some basic info, and a link to a web page for those who want more.

Now, pdf’s are one thing. When I get an email with an MS Office document attached that I am charged with reviewing, unless there is a reason I need to see the original formatting, I often reply and ask the sender to cut and paste the text into the body of the email. It’s not so much fear of a virus as convenience. It’s easier for me to respond to a text email with my responses or corrections, especially if where there will be a series of back and forth corrections.

Okay, maybe that’s just me. But just in case it’s not just me, my advice is to not send attachments unless you have no other choice.


How often should should you email your list?


If you’re providing valuable information (newsletter, blog posts, resources), information people want and have signed up for, don’t hold back. Write as often as you can.

I email every day, five days a week. I hope you find value in what I write. If you don’t, or you don’t have time to read every email, you can save my emails for later, delete them, or un-subscribe.

There, I said it.

Hey, it’s not a bad word. I get a lot of people un-subscribing from my list. And that’s good.

How can that be good? Well, if they don’t value what I’m sending them for free, they’re not going to hire me or buy something from me, so why clutter up my list or their email inbox?

That’s reality. Some love ya, some don’t. Some listen to your advice, some don’t. Some only want free stuff and will never buy anything, some will.

The same goes for your list. Think about it: Would you rather have a list of 10,000 people who don’t read your emails and won’t hire you or a list of 400 people who read every email, share your content, promote your web site, hire you, and send referrals?


And guess what? The more often you mail, the more of your services you’ll sell. That’s a fact, Jack.

So don’t worry when someone un-subscribes from you list. It’s a good thing. And don’t worry about writing too often. As long as you are sending valuable information that (the right) people want to consume, you almost can’t mail too often.

I’m on several email lists that don’t send valuable information. Every email is either an ad or an invitation to a webinar where products will be pitched. No tips, resources, or advice. And many of these email me daily. Sometimes twice a day. Why on earth do I stay on these lists? The value to me is that it lets me see what other marketers are doing. I skim and delete. But I stay subscribed.

Value is in the eye of the beholder.

Now I don’t recommend emailing nothing but ads for your legal services. It’s true, these marketers wouldn’t continue sending nothing but ads and webinar invites if it wasn’t working for them, but they’re not selling legal services. Make your email (and website content) 90-95% valuable content, only 5-10% promotion.

And every practice is different. I doubt many people want to get daily emails from their criminal defense attorney no matter how good the information is. But every client is also a consumer so if you are sending consumer tips and advice, daily might be just fine.

There is a risk in not emailing often enough. If you email quarterly, for example, you risk people forgetting who you are and sending your email to spam. Not only do they ignore your message, you get penalized.

You need to write often enough to keep your name in front of your list. Once a month is probably the minimum, and that’s cutting it close. Once a week is much better. If you don’t think you have enough for a weekly email, write shorter emails. One or two tips is all you need.

Stay in touch with your list. You can build a very large law practice with email.

Create value. Build a list. Mail often.

Marketing made simple: The Attorney Marketing Formula


Clients don’t hire anonymous lawyers


I get a fair amount of email from lawyers. At least I think they are lawyers. Unfortunately, many of them don’t tell me who they are or what they do for a living. All I know about them is their email address.

No name. No phone number. No web site.

They would never send a letter via regular mail that was devoid of contact information. Why do they do that in an email?

If they are using the same email account to communicate with clients and prospects and professional contacts, they’re not helping themselves. Nobody wants to hire, refer to, or network with an anonymous lawyer.

Even if the recipient knows who you are, emails like this tell them that (a) you are clueless about the simplest of technology, suggesting that you might be lacking in other areas of your knowledge or abilities, or (b) you don’t care.

Either way, you’re not communicating the right message.

The solution is simple. Put your full name in the “From” section of your email. Every time you send an email, the recipient will see your name, making it more likely that they will open and read your message and remember who you are.

Put an email signature at the bottom of your emails. At a minimum, it should have your full name and a link to your web site. If you want, you can also add additional contact information, your practice areas and links to social media accounts.

You can do both of the above on any web based email or email client software.

Also, don’t use your personal email address for business. You wouldn’t invite clients to meet you at your kitchen table, would you? You wouldn’t send them a business letter on your Doctor Who stationery, would you? (Okay, that would be cool.)

Word to the wise: don’t send business emails from or Cough up $10 and get your own domain name so you can send a business email from

One more thing: Go easy on the disclaimers and CYA language. All that boilerplate lawyer language may protect you (may), but it does nothing to reach out to your reader and connect with him. It does just the opposite.

It says, “I don’t trust you and you shouldn’t trust me. I’m just like all the other lawyers out there, hiding behind this wall of fine print.”

Do what you have to do, but no more than you have to do.

Do you want to earn more and work less? Get The Formula and find out how.