White space. The final frontier.

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Yesterday, I encouraged you to put more white space in your life. Don’t try to fill every minute with activities–give yourself room to breathe and think and recharge.

Today, I’m encouraging you to do the same thing for your clients.

Especially clients with a stressful legal situation or who aren’t used to working with attorneys.

What can you do to give them more white space?

A few ideas:

When you send documents, don’t weigh them down with everything all at once. Dole it out. A little to start, a little more on another day. Let them know there’s more, but give them time to digest what you’ve already sent.

Preface your message with an executive summary–a few paragraphs that tell them the bottom line–so they don’t have to wade through everything to find out what happened or what you recommend.

Make your documents and correspondence easier to read by using, yes, lots of white space. Use short sentences, short paragraphs, and bullet points, so they can scan and get the gist of the document without having to read every word.

Consider highlighting key words or phrases, with bold or CAPITAL LETTERS, or other visual cues.

Instead of a monthly newsletter covering everything under the sun, break it up and send a shorter newsletter once a week.

You can also add white space in meetings and phone calls. Keep them short, get to the point quickly, and only tell them what’s essential for them to know. Then, tell them where to get additional information if they want it and invite them to ask questions.

In your writing, conversations, and presentations, number your points. Then, as you begin, tell them how many points you’re going to cover.

When you begin with, “There are five reasons I’m recommending you take the offer,” the client knows what to expect and is better able to absorb your message.

When you speak to a client, you can help them relax and feel more confident by letting them hear that you are relaxed and confident. If you’re in person, use body language (eye contact, smiling, relaxed posture).

Give your clients more white space and you will make it easier for them to hear you, trust you, and follow your advice. When you make it easier for them to work with you, they’ll make it easier for you to do a good job for them.

How to write an effective email newsletter

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When the typo hits the fan

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I heard from an attorney who liked my new Kindle book but. . . found a typo. A big, hairy one I can’t believe I missed because it was in the introduction. In fact, it’s the word “introduction” which was missing the letter “r”.

Did you catch it? Neither did I.

Neither did my writing software. Or my editing/spell-check software. Or Amazon’s upload mechanism which gave me the “all clear” on spelling when I uploaded it.

I’ll take the blame but that software has some ‘splainin’ to do.

Anyway, Christine, the attorney who caught it, pointed out that the error could cost sales and she’s right. People judge you on things like this. So, as soon as I heard from her, I fixed it. It took a couple of minutes and the updated book was available within a few hours.

Which is one of the nice things about publishing ebooks. A few clicks and you can fix or update your book or the sales page and get back to work.

So, if you want to write a book but are concerned that it might not be your best work (or might have typos), go ahead and do it anyway.

But you might want to send a copy to Christine because she’s got a great eye for typos.

NB: “How to Sell Your Legal Services in 15 Seconds or Less” will be coming off the free promotion tomorrow so if you’d like a copy, grab it now.

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How good do you need to be?

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Lawyers need to be good at many things but they don’t need to be great at anything.

It helps, but being good is usually good enough.

Take writing, for example.

Lawyers need to write clearly–to express their ideas and persuade people to follow a course of action.

They also need to write succinctly, so readers don’t have to work hard to find their point.

From a marketing and practice-building perspective, a lawyer’s writing should also speak to the reader’s self-interest.

Your writing should show that you understand what your reader is going through–their problems, their pain, their desires–and cast vision for a better future for them, with you by their side.

Your writing should also be–for lack of a better word–“interesting”.

Your articles, blog posts, emails, presentations, et. al., should have some color in them. Don’t just talk about the law, talk about life–your readers’ and yours.

Just about any lawyer can accomplish this and turn out good writing.

Some lawyers may need practice. Lots of writing to sharpen their saw.

Some lawyers may need someone to edit or at least review their writing prior to hitting the send button.

Some lawyers may need to do some homework, to learn more about their clients’ business or industry, background, and personal interests.

And some lawyers may need to get out of the office more or take up a hobby or loosen up a bit and be willing to talk about their day.

Writing is what lawyers do and we need to be good at it. But we don’t need to be great.

If you want to learn how to write a more effective newsletter, get this

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Why nobody reads your newsletter

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I see a lot of attorney’s newsletters. I see them but I don’t read them because, well, why should I? I can get that information anywhere.

The same goes for a lot of blogs, articles, videos, and other content.

The information is often good. Legal and business or consumer tips that can help the reader accomplish something or learn something useful.

The problem is the author doesn’t give anyone a reason to read their version of the information.

Fortunately, there’s an easy fix.

Put some of “you” into the writing. Tell readers your experience with or opinion of the information.

Instead of sending your readers an article or a link to an article about how to take better photos, for example, tell them why you wanted to take better photos of your kids and that you found a site that helped you do that in less than 30 minutes, and now your family loves your photos.

Instead of telling them how insurance companies trick people and what to watch out for, tell your readers about a client who got tricked by an adjuster into settling his case for much less than it was worth, or a client who wisely called you for advice before they signed a release and didn’t fall into that trap.

Instead of sending a list of books everyone should read in their lifetime, tell them about a book you read recently and why you recommend it. Tell them what you liked, what you got out of it, what you agreed with, and where you differed.

In other words, instead of sending your readers an information dump, tell them how you or your clients or others have used that information, and benefited, or failed to use it, to their detriment.

Stories, bub. Context. Examples from your practice or personal life.

Not just “the information” but what you think about the information.

Put some personality into your writing.

Do that, and your subscribers will not only read and enjoy your newsletter, they’ll look forward to reading your next issue.

If you want to learn more ways to write a newsletter your subscribers will love to read, get my email marketing for attorneys course

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Another easy way to write a book

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You often hear me encourage you to write a book to promote your law practice. I’ve said it isn’t as difficult or time-consuming as you might think.

I’ve mentioned that one way to do it quickly is to have someone interview you and publish the transcript. I did this with an interview of a successful appellate attorney I did and another book based on an interview another attorney did of me.

If you’re interested in writing a book based on interviews, you can learn what to do in my book, The Easy Way to Write a Book.

Today, I want to show you another way to quickly publish a book.

I just uploaded a book to Kindle: How to Sell Your Legal Services in 15 Seconds or Less. It’s roughly 6000 words (so, short) and is essentially an updated version of a report I previously offered to new subscribers to my list.

You may have read a copy of the original report. If not, you can get the revised “book version” here.

So, there you go. Take something you’ve written before–a report, a presentation, or the transcript of an interview, and re-purpose it as an ebook.

If you don’t have anything suitable, you can write something in a day or two.

Take something you know well that your prospective clients might want to know, write it down or speak and record yourself. One hour of dictation (or an interview) should yield approximately 10,000 words.

And then, you’ll be able to add to your bio that you are a published author. You’ll also have a book published that can bring traffic to your website.

And that’s good traffic. Anyone who reads your book and comes to your website to learn more about you is “interested” in you.

You’ll also have something you can give away, to build your email or newsletter list.

Let me know if you have any questions about any of this, or you want some help getting your book written and published.

How to Sell Your Legal Services in 15 Seconds or Less

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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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Be afraid. Be very afraid.

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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

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Words don’t teach

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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”

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Solved: The chicken came first

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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

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Are you nuts, you can’s say that!

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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

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