Know thy client

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I read an article in the Wisconsin Lawyer that provided “tips for writing in ways that attract the attention of search engines, readers, and new clients.”

It’s good information. And a good reminder about the importance and value of writing in building a law practice.

But that’s not why I’m telling you about it.

At the end of the article, in her “bio,” the author tells a story about one of her consulting clients who was unhappy with her advice:

A few years ago, an attorney I was working with called me to complain because one of their former clients gave them a bad online review. I had encouraged them to follow up with clients to thank them for their business and ask for reviews, so the bad review they received was, in their mind, my fault. It didn’t occur to me that I needed to tell attorneys that they should only ask for reviews from clients they suspected had a positive opinion of them. I now emphasize that you should never ask for a review you don’t want. It’s the legal marketing equivalent of the age-old advice that you should never ask a question you don’t want to know the answer to!

It seems so simple. Ask for reviews; don’t ask for reviews from clients who might not love ya.

You want reviews. You need reviews. Good reviews can bring in a boatload of clients.

Seriously.

So you should ask for reviews.

But how do you avoid bad reviews?

Simple.

Ask for reviews, but do it in stages:

  1. Routinely send every client a form to fill out to provide feedback about you, your services, your office, etc. Include a question asking if they would recommend you to others, and why or why not.
  2. When the client provides positive feedback and says they would recommend/refer you, ask them to post this in a review (and give them a link to the site you prefer).

Keep your enemies close. Keep your friends (and clients) closer, because you never know what they might say about you.

The Quantum Leap Marketing System

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Plagiarizing for fun and profit

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Yesterday, I talked about finding blog posts and articles written by other lawyers and rewriting them, as an easy and effective way to create your content.

Today, I have an even easier method.

No, I’m not going to tell you to plagiarize their content—copy it and call it your own.

You can’t do that. But you can plagiarize your own content.

You can re-post or re-send something you’ve shared in the past.

Take one of your old posts and post it again. Without changing a word.

Can you really do that?

It’s your content. You can do whatever you want with it.

But should you?

Yes. Here’s why.

You’ve got new subscribers who didn’t see your article before. You’ve got readers who saw it months or years ago and won’t remember. You’ve got readers who read it before weren’t ready to do anything with the information. And readers who did something but need to be reminded to do it again.

Do you do everything I tell you to do? No, you don’t. Which is why you’ll hear me say it again.

Sometimes I re-write, update, shorten or lengthen my old posts. Sometimes, I write a new post on the same idea. But you don’t have to do any of that and if you don’t want to or you don’t have time, don’t bother.

Click and send that puppy and get on with your day.

Now for the best part.

You can take some of your better articles or posts, load them into your autoresponder, and schedule them to go out over the course of the next few weeks or months. When the cycle ends, you can reset it and let your best stuff get sent all over again.

Automate your self-plagiarism. For the win.

Email Marketing for Attorneys

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You don’t get extra credit for originality

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Nobody reads your blog, your newsletter, or your other content, and compares what you wrote to your competitor’s content.

Nobody.

But even if they did, they wouldn’t favor you because you wrote something or offered something unique, or disfavor you because you wrote about the same topic other lawyers wrote about.

So don’t worry about coming up with original ideas. You don’t have to do anything original to pass this class.

Which means your content creation problems are solved. You’ll never stare at a blank page again.

All you have to do is find out what others are doing that’s working and do the same thing (but better).

If 27 other lawyers write about a case in the news today, you can too.

Put it in your own words, use your own examples and stories, and you’re good to go.

In fact, not only is this “okay,” it is a smart approach because all those other lawyers writing about that case is “proof of concept”. They’re writing about it because they know their readers want to know about it, which means your readers do too.

Want to test this?

Do a search on your top keywords or your practice area and find another lawyer’s blog or article. They don’t have to be local to you, anywhere will do.

Go to the first article or post that catches your eye. Copy it and re-write it. Change the title or headline, give your opinion, talk about a case or client of yours to illustrate, and you will have something ready to publish.

The good news is that even though you wrote about the same subject, your article will be original.

The bad news? No extra credit.

More: Email Marketing for Attorneys

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No pressure

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The headline of your article or post or the subject line of your email are critical. If you don’t grab the reader’s attention and persuade them to continue reading, they often don’t.

Which is why good writers spend a lot of time getting their headline or opening right.

You should, too.

But that doesn’t mean you should start your writing there. Because the pressure to get it right might throw you off and stop you in your writing tracks.

So it’s often best to start writing somewhere else.

Sure, sometimes you know the perfect opening before you write anything. That happens to me sometimes, but usually it doesn’t.

So I start somewhere else.

I start with a rough idea, a question or a couple of points I want to flap my gums about. Sometimes, I start with the end—the conclusion, summary, or takeaway.

But I usually don’t know what that will be until I’m well into the writing.

So basically, I start wherever I feel like starting.

I might write some bullet points, a working headline. or copy and paste a quote I want to use. I might have a story I want to share.

More often than I like to admit, I have only a very basic idea I want to talk about and just start typing. And see where that takes me.

Once I’m done, I go back and write (or re-write) the opening.

There’s enough pressure on us to get the writing done, especially on schedule, and make it half-way decent. The sooner I can get some words on “paper,” the sooner I can finish writing and get it out the digital door, so I try not to dawdle.

The point is, you don’t have to write in any kind of order. Start with something easy, whatever is in your head or your notes, or whatever words appear on the page once you start typing.

And let those words show you your opening.

How to build your law practice with an email newsletter

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How to remove the starch from your writing

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A newsletter is not the place for formal writing. Even if your readers are academics or others steeped in formality, they’re people before they are lawyers or professors and unless you have a good reason not to, write to them the way you would speak to them—informally.

Are you picking up what I’m laying down?

“Oh, I could never write like that,” says many a lawyer. They don’t want to appear un-lawyerlike.

You don’t have to go as far as I go sometimes. You don’t have to write completely informally to write less formally. (But you have to admit, it might be fun. Guess what? It’s fun for your readers, too.)

What you have to do is make clarity and simplicity your top priority.

When you do, not only will your readers be able to quickly understand your message, they will appreciate you for lightening their cognitive load.

(Sorry, some old starch found its way onto my keyboard.)

The simplest way to keep things simple, as I mentioned in a recent post, is to write an email, not an article.

If you need a little help to do that, follow the advice of writer Laura Belgray, who uses what she calls the Email From a Bestie (EFAB) technique:

“I write each email as if I am writing to a good friend, one who happens to have the needs of my target audience.”

Try it. Write a salutation. Write to your bestie (and leave out the starch). Close.

Then, remove or modify the salutation and close to suit.

When you do this, your readers feel there is a real person behind your words, and you’re speaking just to them.

That’s when they connect to you. That’s when they feel you’re the one.

When you’re done with your first draft, you may feel a little naked and self-conscious and want to add back some of the starch.

A little starch is okay. Because lawyer. Just don’t overdo it.

Ya feel me?

If you want to know how to do it right, with lots of examples, templates, and sample language, get my Email Marketing for Attorneys course

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You’re so vain, you probably think this post is about you

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You want people to know you’re good at what you do. That you’ll work hard for them, advise them, protect them, and help them get what they want, and you know how to do this because you’ve done it for many others.

But it’s hard to talk about yourself without sounding self-centered.

So, what do you do?

For one thing, whenever possible, you let others do the talking.

You share client testimonials and reviews. You share letters of endorsement from other professionals. You share articles written about you, your awards and your victories.

You let others talk about why they hired (or referred) you or wrote about you, and why they would do it again.

Let them tell the world how good you are.

Yes?

What else can you do?

You also share your own writing and recordings, which demonstrate your knowledge and experience. To illustrate your points, you cite examples from your work, showing yourself “in action,” helping people, solving problems, delivering results.

And when you do that, you talk about the client or case or other person in the story, not about yourself.

You’re still in the story. But as the narrator, not the protagonist.

Your reader will understand that you were the driving force in solving the problem and delivering the results. But the story is about your client, so let them have center stage.

You don’t have to avoid using the word “I” or hide behind the stage curtain. Your readers want to know what you think and what you did. And you should tell them.

Just don’t make the story all about you.

The Attorney Marketing Formula

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Trust me, I’m a lawyer

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Yesterday, we talked about likability, one of the key factors in why a client tends to choose the lawyer they choose.

All things being equal, they choose the lawyer they “know, like and trust”.

Trust is the most important of the 3. A client will hire and stay with a lawyer they don’t particularly like, if that lawyer does a good job for them, but if they don’t trust that lawyer, they’re probably not going to hire them, let alone stay with them.

Building trust takes time. Referred clients come to trust you sooner because, to a great extent, they “borrow” some of the trust that exists in the person making the referral.

Note to self: focus on referrals.

But what about leads and other prospective clients who come your way other than by referral? Is there anything you can do to build trust and make it more likely they will hire you?

Perhaps the easiest way to do that is with your newsletter, blog, podcast, or other content.

It’s easy because all you need to do is show up.

If you publish once a week, show up once a week. Like clockwork.

Stick to the schedule and let your audience see you do what you said you would do.

They’ll see that they can count on you to give them what you promised. They’ll see that you are organized and disciplined about your work, and that you are generous in sharing some of your knowledge and experience.

Even if it’s a few paragraphs every Wednesday.

Keeping your promises is one of the pillars of trust. So is consistsency

You don’t need to be brilliant or chart new territory. You don’t need to give away the store.

You just need to show up.

Email and newsletter marketing for attorneys

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Why you should tell people about your sick cat

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I spoke with an attorney over the weekend about marketing his practice. We were scheduled to talk last week, but he was at the vet with a sick cat who didn’t want to take his pill and we rescheduled.

I’ve had cats and told him we used to swaddle our fur babies in towels when they didn’t want to take their pills. He told me he saw a video about that, something about making a “cat burrito”.

So, when we spoke, before we talked marketing, we talked about his little one, who is doing better.

And now, I’m telling you about it, to remind you to talk about things like this, not just with clients and others you speak to, but in your newsletter.

Yes, it’s okay to write about things like this in a newsletter, even though they are “off topic”. In fact, it’s more than okay. It’s recommended.

It’s recommended because it shows your readers that you’re like them. Human, vulnerable, busy taking care of sick cats or kids or cars that need to be taken to the shop.

And similarity is one of the key factors in likability.

When your readers and followers learn something about your personal life and recognize things they have in common with you, they are more likely to see you favorably, that is, to like you.

Which means they’re more likely to hire you and tell others about you. You’re not just an arm’s length professional they read, you’ve taken a step closer to being a friend.

If you’re making notes right now, you might want to add “me too” as a way to remember this concept.

This doesn’t mean you need to open up your entire personal life to your readers or followers. I’m sure you don’t want to do that and frankly, nobody wants you to.

Share bits and pieces here and there, like a color commentator on a baseball broadcast. Just enough, but not too much.

By the way, I told my wife about the “cat burrito” video and she agreed it was an apt description for what we used to go through.

Coincidentally, she made burritos for dinner last night. Call me crazy, but they were a bit spicier than usual.

Email Marketing for Attorneys

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How to make it easier for readers to grok your content

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Yesterday, I talked about the importance of making it easier for folks to access your content. Today, I want to elaborate on this subject, and share a few ways to make the content they read more readable.

But not just readable, effective. Meaning readers (and listeners) not only understand your message, they relate to it, and to you.

This isn’t difficult. Just different from what most people do. And that’s what makes it effective.

  • Come to them, don’t make them come to you. Unless you have a good reason to do otherwise, send your email or article to them, so they can read it immediately, instead of asking them to click and come to your website to do that.
  • Don’t send “a newsletter,” send an email. It’s more personal and conversational, and more inviting to read.
  • Keep it simple: one subject, one “lesson,” one offer, one call to action.
  • Keep it short. They’ll give you a minute or two. If you have more to say, save it for next time (as I’m doing here).
  • Make it LOOK easy to read. Short paragraphs and sentences, bullet points, CAPS and bold and other visual elements.
  • Help them or entertain them. Tell them something they can use, and/or tell them something interesting.
  • Facts tell, stories sell. More stories make your content more readable, relatable, and persuasive.
  • Lighten up. Use warnings and cautionary tales sparingly. You want to inspire readers and give them hope for a better future, not crush them with despair.
  • Don’t tell them everything. Tell them enough to frame the problem and possible solutions. Make them come to you to find out more.
  • Talk to your readers, not at them. Ask them questions to get them thinking or to make your point, and ask them to reply and/or ask you questions.

I see a lot of lawyers’ content that does a great job of “posturing,” that is, showing readers they know what they’re doing and they are very busy doing it. We all need to do that to some extent.

But there’s something to be said for showing readers that besides being “hard to get,” we are also “good to know”.

How to use email to build your law practice

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Tell ’em what you did, not what you’re going to do

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If you want an easier way to create content, a good rule of thumb is to share stories about what you’ve done rather than what you plan to do.

Two reasons.

The first reason is pragmatic. When you predict something or share your plans for the future, there’s too much pressure on you to perform.

You might describe a case you’re working on, for example, and talk about the possible outcome. A lot of things can go wrong, however, and if they do, you’ll be left having to explain.

Which might make you look less formidable.

Why not make it easy on yourself? Wait until the case is done, share the results, and then talk about why things turned out the way they did.

And, if you didn’t get the results you wanted or predicted, or did something that hurt the case, you don’t have to write about the case at all.

CYA, my friend.

The second reason to talk about what you did instead of what you’re going to do is that it makes for a better story.

Telling your readers you’re going to deliver a presentation next week is okay. It’s also a good idea if you’re trying to fill seats. But it’s an announcement, and not terribly exciting.

Telling them about the presentation you delivered last week, on the other hand, is a story and it might be a good one. You can describe what happened—the size of the crowd, anecdotes about how you were introduced, some people you met, questions you were asked, and so on.

Much more interesting.

(Yes, do both. Promote the presentation and do a recap.)

That’s all I have for you today. What will I talk about tomorrow? C’mon, if you’ve read this far, you know I don’t want to tell you what I’m going to do. . . okay, okay, I don’t know what I’m going to do. I guess we’ll both find out tomorrow.

Build your practice with an email newsletter

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