Give it away, give it away, give it away, now

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Some lawyers are concerned that if they give away too much information–through a blog or newsletter or other means–the people who consume that information won’t need to hire them.

“I’m paid for my knowledge and experience and I’m not going to give that away,” they say. “If they want information, they need to hire me.”

But here’s the thing.

It’s true that some people will take your information and never hire you. They’ll use that information and do the job themselves. But that’s a very small percentage of the whole and those people are unlikely to ever hire you anyway so you lose nothing.

Some people will do the job themselves, mess up–because they can’t do what you do even if you tell them how to do it, and hire you to fix their mess. You’ll get more business this way, not less.

And some people will see that it would be too difficult or time-consuming or risky to do the job themselves and hire you. They might not have done that had they not seen your information.

In other words, giving away information helps you get more clients because:

It educates prospective clients about the scope of their problem, the risks of ignoring it or trying to handle it themselves,

It demonstrates your knowledge, experience, and ability to help them solve their problem,

It distinguishes you from other lawyers who say, “If you want information, hire me,”

It attracts people who find your information through search or sharing, thus increasing the pool of prospective clients for your services, and

It sells them on choosing you because they get to hear your “voice” in that information and see what it would be like to have you represent them.

If you’re smart, and I know you are, you’ll give away lots of information, and let that information do most of your marketing for you.

What information you should put on your website

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3 simple ways to quickly create content

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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

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Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman

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In the 1970s, Louise Lasser starred in a satirical soap opera, Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman. The name was repeated because Producer Norman Lear and the show’s writers believed that dialog in a soap opera was always said twice. 

Satire notwithstanding, that’s not much of a stretch.

It’s not because soap operas have a lot of time to fill and a set of storylines where not much happens. It’s because repetition is an effective way to build tension.

It’s the same in marketing a product or service. You want to create or recognize tension, and build it, so you can get readers or listeners to buy your product or service to relieve that tension.

So we repeat our marketing messages by running multiple ads or writing multiple articles or doing a series of presentations that deal with the same issues.

Some say it takes seven impressions to get someone to buy. The first time, they don’t notice it. The second time, they may notice it but not really listen. The third time, they listen but may not believe. And so on, until they are persuaded to take the next step.

Accurate or not, there’s value in repeating your message.

If you’re writing a blog post or article, it’s okay if you’ve written about the same subject before. Somebody will be hearing it for the first time; others, are on their fifth or sixth time and need to hear it again.

Besides, you may present the same message but you will probably write it in a different way. Different lead, different examples or stories, different call to action.

So don’t fear repetition, embrace it, embrace it.

Here’s the formula for marketing legal services

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Information isn’t advice

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There are those who say we should give away lots of information to show prospective clients how much we know and thus, how much we can do. Others say that we shouldn’t give away our knowledge and experience, that’s what we get paid for.

Who’s right?

Should we deliver “massive value” via a plethora of blog posts and articles and free seminars, to demonstrate our skills (and generate leads), or should we play it close to the vest and make people pay to learn what we know?

Content marketing makes a lot of sense. The information we share does attract prospective clients and shows them we know what we’re doing. It’s also an effective way to attract traffic and generate leads.

And, general information isn’t advice. The client still has to hire us to find out what we think about their specific situation. To the extent the information we give them demonstrates the risks they face and the benefits of hiring us, that information makes it more likely that they will do that.

So, score one for free information.

On the other foot (hey, why should my hand get all the glory?), many top lawyers and other professionals do little or no  “content marketing”. They may do some speaking and publish the occasional paper but they build their practice primarily via their reputation and their contacts.

If you need brain surgery, you hire the surgeon that other doctors recommend, not necessarily the one who has the most videos on YouTube.

If you’re tops in your field you may not have to do any content marketing. For most lawyers, however, giving away information is a simple and effective marketing strategy with no discernable downside because we sell our advice and services and solutions, not information.

Your website is made for content marketing

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Eighty percent of success is showing up

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Woody Allen famously said, “Eighty percent of success is showing up.” Being where you need to be when you need to be there.

In the context of marketing legal services, that means showing up when someone needs your help. But how do you do that?

You don’t know when someone will be in a collision, want to file for divorce, or start a business. You don’t know when someone is unhappy with their current attorney and is looking for a replacement.

And if you don’t know, you can’t show up. Or maybe you can.

You can create search engine optimized content so that when someone needs a lawyer and goes looking, they can find you.

You can write articles and run ads in publications and on websites where your target market is likely to see them.

You can educate your clients about who would make a good client for you and the best way to refer them and let them keep their eyes and ears open for you. You can do the same thing with professionals and other referral sources.

These strategies will help you get your name and message in front of prospective clients when they need your help. But there’s another strategy you should consider.

You should get your name and message in front of prospective clients before they need you.

You do that through a newsletter, a blog, a podcast, or a video channel. You build a list of subscribers and you stay in touch with them, sharing your knowledge and showing them how you can help them. As you do that, they see your passion and commitment to their niche or local market. They get to know, like, and trust you, and when they need your services (or know someone who does), you’ll be right there, ready to help.

Many lawyers do marketing sporadically. When you understand the value of building a list of prospective clients and you “bake” marketing into your daily method of operation, when you are never not marketing, you are never without clients.

Start or improve your marketing with this

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What vs. How

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In a “how to” article, report, or post, you describe the problem and present the various solutions you offer, but you should also tell the reader what they can do without you.

Tell them how they can avoid the problem in the first place. Tell them how to mitigate damages. Tell them how to protect themselves in the future.

The question is, having told them what to do, should you also tell them how to do it?

If you say that filing a quit claim deed is an option, should you tell them where to get the form and how to fill it out? If they can file for a simple divorce on their own will you tell them how to do it?

These are things you need to think about.

You want to provide value to readers and that usually means telling them more rather than less. More information shows them you know what you’re doing and builds trust. Being generous with your knowledge and advice endears them to you, making it more likely that if they hire any attorney, you’re the one they will choose.

But the choice isn’t always simple. If you tell them how to do something and they mess up, you may lose credibility and expose yourself to liability. If they follow your instructions successfully, they may decide they don’t need you for anything else.

Should you tell them all of the “whats” but none of the “hows”? Should you tell them all of the “hows” but encourage them to contact you to look it over?

Decisions, decisions.

My advice? Err on the side of too much rather than too little. Add your “on the other hands,” cover your backside, and encourage them to contact you to learn more. But don’t hide from telling them what to do and how to do it. Remember, you’re writing a “how to” not a “what to”.

Marketing legal services successfully starts with successful philosophies

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Getting referrals without breaking a sweat

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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

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Does your practice need more sales people?

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Before you say no, give me one minute to convince you of the value of hiring a sales person for your practice. Someone who would talk to prospective clients and referral sources on your behalf and convince them to hire you or send you their referrals. Suppose that this was legal and ethical and could be done with little or no cost.

This sales person could deliver a steady stream of new business for you. Every day, prospective clients will call your office to make an appointment. When they meet with you, they are either sold on hiring you and ready to sign up or they have a few questions about their legal matter, and then they sign up.

So. . . how many sales people would you hire?

Hold on. Calm down. This is doable. In fact, there’s a very good chance that you’re already doing it. You already employ one or more sales people who are bringing you new clients.

Okay, I’m not really talking about people. I’m talking about information.

Articles, blog posts, reports, ebooks, videos, audios, podcasts, seminars, and other content you deploy on your website and elsewhere. This information attracts prospective clients who learn what you do and how you can help them, and persuades them to call you, fill out a form, or otherwise take the next step towards becoming your client.

Your content does what a sales person does, but in many ways, it does it better. It works for you 24 hours a day, never complains, and never asks for a raise. And once your content is deployed, it works for you tirelessly, endlessly, for many years to come.

So the next time you’re looking for a way to bring in more clients, start writing, or hire someone to help you, and get more content out into the world.

Here’s how to create content for your website

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What makes content shareable?

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You’re ready to write a blog post, article, or social media post and you want your subscribers and followers to share it. What should you write that will make that more likely to occur?

We know that sex and scandal and other tabloid-esq topics sell, but that’s off the table. Humor and human interest (kittens, babies, sports, games) are highly shareable, and you can write about those things occasionally, but only occasionally.

What then? News? Opinion? World events?

Sometimes. But your best bet is also the simplest. Write about your area of expertise.

Write about legal problems and solutions. Write about the law and procedure, the timeline and processes, the benefits of taking action and the risks of waiting too long. Describe your services and the pros and cons of each.

Answer the questions prospective clients and new clients frequently ask you. And write about the questions they should ask you but often don’t.

Show people what it’s like to work with you by describing what you do and how you do it.

Write about your clients and how you have helped them. Write about people you know who didn’t get help and are now paying the price.

Educate people about what they can do themselves. Teach them when they should talk to a lawyer and what questions they should ask them.

Write about solving problems, preventing problems and mitigating consequences when problems occur.

If you have a consumer-oriented practice, you can also write consumer-related topics such as buying the right insurance, saving money, retirement, taxes, etc. You can also write about issues and developments in your local community.

For a business-oriented practice, write about marketing, management, productivity, and issues and developments in your target market’s industry or niche.

No matter what type of practice you have, you can also write about personal development because everyone reading what you write is, unarguably, a person.

This is the kind of content that people will share with friends and colleagues and co-workers and family, because they know they need it or they know they would benefit from it.

And that’s all any of us could ask.

More ideas for creating shareable content that will make your phone ring

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The hidden value of content marketing

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Education based marketing means providing prospective clients with information about their problems and the available solutions. As they contemplate the severity of the issues and the nuances of the solutions, they get closer to hiring a lawyer. Your content shows them that you understand their problem and have helped others to solve it, and you thus become the lawyer they are mostly likely to hire.

In other words, the quality (and quantity) of your information does much of the selling of your services for you.

So, plus one for content.

But in what form do you deliver that content?

William Glasser said that we learn. . .

10% of what we read,
20% of what we hear,
30% of what we see,
50% of what we see and hear,
70% of what we discuss,
80% of what we experience,
95% of what we teach others.

So you want to give prospective clients options to read, watch, and listen to your information. You also want to involve them with that information by engaging them in a conversation about it, through commenting on your posts and emailing and calling you to ask questions about how the information applies to their specific situation.

In a live presentation, you can engage the audience by soliciting feedback and asking people to talk about their experience with the subject. On your website, you can post surveys and other types of involvement mechanisms.

The more senses your prospects use, the more they learn; the more they learn, the more likely they are to see you, the teacher, as the best solution to their problem.

But there’s a hidden value to this process. As you create your content, you learn more about the subject and get better at teaching it.

You spend more time thinking about what you know and verifying what you think you know. You read what other teachers (lawyers) say about the subject and how they say it. You find more examples and stories to illustrate your points. And as you write and re-write your information, and practice your delivery, you become a better teacher and thus better at attracting clients.

If you want to get better at content marketing, use this

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