Where does it hurt?

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.

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

You can never assume that prospective clients understand how you can change their life. You have to tell them.

Tell them you can give them what they want. And then, dramatize it. Because people make decisions based on emotions, not logic.

The success of your marketing message depends, in part, on how skillfully you use the granddaddy of emotions, fear, to get prospective clients to act.

Especially fear of loss and fear of failure.

Tell them what’s at stake if they fail to act (aka, fail to hire you).

What will their life be like? What additional problems might ensue? How might delay or inaction make things worse?

And tell them how they might feel when that happens.

Your job is to paint a picture (tell a story) about not getting what they want so the prospective client will decide to call you or write that check.

They may want what you offer but hesitate. Give them a glimpse of their future if they don’t make that call.

But hold on. You can’t bludgeon them with horror stories and tales of horrible consequences. Too much fear and people tune you out.

So, don’t overdo it.

Don’t give them a laundry list of risks and negative consequences, unmitigated pain, and unrelenting problems without relief.

Give them some hope.

Tell them you have the solution. You can deliver a happy ending to the movie you’ve had them watching. Tell them what their life will be like once you’ve done your work and you’ve delivered the solutions they want.

And then tell them what to do to get it.

Learn how to do this with email

Words don’t teach

Educating clients and prospects–about the law, about their risks and options, about what an attorney can do for them, and about why they should choose you as their attorney–is a viable marketing strategy.

The more they know, the more likely they are to understand why they should hire you and the more likely they are to do it.

The problem is, words don’t teach. Telling isn’t teaching. At best, it is only an introduction to the subject.

What does teach? Experience.

That’s one reason lawyers offer free consultations. The prospective client gets to see what you think about their specific situation and how you treat them, and get a sense of what it would be like having you as their attorney.

The experience teaches them what they need to know.

To a lesser extent, this is why lawyers speak in public, do interviews, make videos, network, and otherwise get themselves in front of prospective clients (and the people who can refer them).

What about writing? In your ads, blog, newsletter, articles, and elsewhere–where it’s just your words? How do you use experience to teach?

Use your words to help people remember relevant experiences in their life similar to what they’re currently experiencing. Help them to recall what happened–how they felt, what didn’t work, and what did.

And share stories of people like your reader or listener who have had the same types of problems and desires and how they found the solutions.

Your words are important. But not as important as the listener’s or reader’s experience, real, remembered, or imagined.

How to get more clients to say “you’re hired”

Solved: The chicken came first

If you spend enough time online, you wind up seeing things like this:

“Scientists finally concluded that the chicken came first, not the egg because the protein which makes eggshells is only produced by hens.”

I always wanted to know that, didn’t you?

Full disclosure (because this is dangerous information): I didn’t do any research to see if this is true so if you share this at a networking event or in a blog post and it turns out to be fake news, you could wind up with egg on your face (ahem).

But that’s a risk I’m willing to take, as evidenced by the fact that I’m using this nugget (ahem) in the title of this post.

Which leads me to something else I saw online–a question about blogging: “Do you write the headline first, as you go, or after you’ve finished writing the blog? Does it matter?”

Having written more than a few blog posts and articles and emails and books and ads and other things requiring a title or headline, including the all-important “Re:” in letters, I think I’m qualified to weigh in on this.

But it will be a lawyer-like answer: sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. And no, it doesn’t matter.

Sometimes I start with an idea, sometimes I start with a headline/title. Sometimes I keep the original headline/title, sometimes I change it.

So there.

It doesn’t matter because what’s important isn’t where you start, it’s where you finish. Use whatever you have to get the idea out of your head and onto “paper” and then fix it.

Unless it doesn’t need fixing.

Sometimes, the headline you start with is just right. Like the one I used here. I could have made it a question and not answered it until the body of the message but I thought this was just click-baity enough to make you want to read it.

If you’ve read this far, I guessed right.

Yes, I guessed. Writing isn’t like chicken eggshell protein analysis. It’s art, not science.

I’m off to ponder that while I eat some hard-boiled eggs and toast. (In case you’re wondering, the bread came before the toast.)

More of my writing brilliance (and snarkiness) right here

Are you nuts, you can’s say that!

If you’ve ever felt like you aren’t a good writer, or if you think you’re okay but want to improve, I have some advice.

Put people in your writing.

Facts and logic are obviously important. But people provide context and an emotional element, helping your reader understand, relate to, and remember your message.

Tell stories. Give examples. Use your cases and clients and prospects to illustrate your points.

The other day, I read an attorney’s email newsletter. There were some good ideas in it but I can’t remember any of them. The information was good but his writing was abstract and boring.

So, don’t do that. When you talk about a problem, tell me about someone who had or has that problem. How does the problem affect them? And. . . what happened?

Yes?

Now, there’s one person in particular who should appear in your writing. You.

People want to know who you are, what you think, and what you’re like as a person. Prospective clients want to know what it would be like having you as their attorney.

Put more of you in your writing.

Don’t make it all about you. Nobody wants to read that. But don’t hide yourself, either, something I see a lot of attorneys do in their writing.

I used to do it myself.

As a young attorney, my writing was stiff and formal. One day, I decided to take the stick out of my assimus maximus and write like I speak.

Less formal, less measured, more transparent.

I was afraid I might hurt myself by sounding unprofessional. I was afraid I might reveal something about myself that I shouldn’t, or say something I thought was funny and wind up being offensive.

I’ve done all of the above, but, on balance, putting more of my personality in my writing was one of the best things I’ve ever done.

Try it. It may take some practice but once you get into the swing of things, once you let down your guard and have some fun with your writing, I know you’ll be pleased with the results.

One caveat: if your gut tells you you’ve gone too far, show your draft to your spouse or secretary or someone else who cares about you enough to say, “Are you nuts, you can’t say that!”

How to write a more effective newsletter

3 simple ways to quickly create content

You need more content for your blog or newsletter or channel. You don’t have a lot of time. What do you do?

Here are 3 ideas:

(1) The simplest source of new content is old content. Find something you’ve written before and re-use it. Convert a blog post into a video or vice versa.

Or, re-write it. Add some new information or examples.

Done.

(2) Almost as simple is to re-write something written by someone else.

Find a blog post or article by someone in your niche, put it into your own words and add your own examples or stories. Or, summarize the other person’s article and comment on it–what you agree with, what you don’t, and why.

Done.

One more.

(3) Respond to comments or questions posted on your social media, blog, or in your email inbox.

You can get some of your best content this way because you’re responding to real people with real questions about things you’re already thinking about or talking about.

And, done.

Wait, what? You don’t have any comments or questions you can respond to?

No problem. Go find someone else’s blog or social media and answer one of their questions.

Now, since you don’t have a lot of time, I’ll shut up and let you get to work.

More ideas here

A practice loaf

My wife is learning how to bake her own bread. Watching videos, trying different things, learning the ropes.

I asked her how it’s going. She’s not sure so we’re calling this first effort “a practice loaf”.

It’s okay if it doesn’t turn out okay. The next one will be better.

Remember your first client? Your first trial? Your first appeal? Knowing what you know now, you’re probably cringing (or laughing) when you think about it.

Not your best work. Your next one was better. 

Me too.

Same thing when I created my first web page, my first course, and my first book.

If you’re writing your first book or thinking about it and you’re nervous about how it’s going to turn out, think of it as your practice loaf.

Give yourself permission to mess up. Let it be bad if it wants to. You can fix it or make the next one better.

That’s why I recommend taking some of your old content and converting it into a book. Or recording and transcribing your thoughts about some aspect of your work.

It may not be your “best” book but you will have written a book. You’ll know you can do it and will have learned something about writing and publishing. If you want to, you can then write your second book.

Gotta run. A slice of bread and butter is calling my name.

The Attorney Marketing Formula

My son, the author

After yesterday’s post about why you need to write a book I’ve heard from attorneys who have written and published a book, are in the process of writing a book or are planning to write a book.

Bravo!

Your book can be one of your most valuable marketing tools, if for no other reason than it gives you the ability to tell people that you wrote a book.

Clients will be impressed. They’ll tell people that their lawyer wrote a book. Prospective clients will be more likely to choose you over the attorney who didn’t write a book.

So, yes.

More: 

  • Mention your book in your bio, About page, social media profiles, and introduction (i.e., when you are introduced as a speaker)
  • Give print copies to new clients; they’ll see they made the right decision in choosing you. For extra credit, give them extra copies they can give to their friends.
  • Give copies to professionals and influencers in your niche market; they’ll see you as an authority and be even more comfortable recommending and referring you to their clients and contacts
  • When a prospective client wants to know why they should hire you, don’t explain, don’t try to sell them, just give them a copy of your book and let your book sell you
  • Offer digital copies to people who opt-in to your email list; you’ll get more opt-ins and your opt-ins will be glad they found you
  • Sell the book online and get traffic to your site; pre-sold traffic, traffic that PAID to hear what you say
  • Promote the book on social and let the book promote you; you can say nice things about a book that you might not be comfortable saying about yourself
  • Put the book in your “media kit” and get interviewed on podcasts, video channels, radio and TV shows, blogs, and to get booked as a speaker at local events

You can do all that, and more, even if your book isn’t a best seller.  

Now, if you read yesterday’s post and haven’t started writing a book, or planned to do so, I’ll just say, do it. No really, just do it.

Imagine your name on the cover of your new book. Imagine your mom telling her friends. “Oh, your son’s a lawyer? That’s nice. Did he write a book? Mine did.”

And, if you have written a book, it’s time to write another one. Because being an author is great but being the author of two (or more) books in your field is even better.

Have you taken my free referral course?

A book is just a bunch of words

You need to write a book. It’s one of the best things you can do to market your practice.

The odds are, you already know this. The odds are you don’t think you have enough to say to fill a book, or you don’t have the time or talent to write it.  

But you do. Because a book is just a bunch of words and you wrangle words for a living.

One way to write a book is to take things you’ve already written and stitch them together.

Blog posts, articles, white papers, reports–they’re all fodder for a book.

Five or ten chapters, exploring themes related to your work, illustrated with stories and examples from your practice, and congratulations, you have a book. 

Another way to write a book is to sit down and write it. Or record it.

Could you speak about your practice area for an hour? Do it. Speak, record, transcribe, and you’ll have the makings of a book.

Or, have someone interview you for an hour or two. I was interviewed by an attorney and turned that into a book. I interviewed an appellate attorney and turned that into a book.

You can, too.

Your book doesn’t need to be a tome. Your book could be as little as ten or twenty-thousand words. You could crank that out in a few weekends.

You don’t need to be a brilliant writer. You don’t need to have a publisher. And you don’t need to spend months or years turning out a bestseller.

But you do need a book.

How I turn interviews into books

Obfuscate, equivocate, prevaricate, and other big words

Some people don’t like lawyers. When we parse words, say we didn’t mean what we said, play games to prove we were right or get out of something we said we would do. . . it drives them crazy.

It’s hard to blame them. When it comes to words, we’re tricky.

We choose our words carefully because that’s how we protect our clients and ourselves. We hide behind our words because we don’t want to reveal what we really think or how much our client is willing to accept.

We’re notorious for being hard to read and hard to pin down.

But we need to know when to turn it off.

When we speak with a client or prospect (or a friend), ambiguous language and exploiting loopholes is off-putting, frustrating and breeds mistrust.

We may win a lot of battles with our clever ways but in the end, we lose more than we’ve won.

If we want people to like and trust us, hire us, and stay friends with us, we need to speak clearly and plainly. No loopholes, no footnotes, no arguments preserved for appeal.

How do we do this? I’ll let you know when I figure it out.

How to get referrals from other lawyers