How to sell your legal services in 15 seconds or less


You’re at a networking function and someone asks you what you do. “If you can’t tell me what you do in 15 seconds, I’m not buying.” So says Carmine Gallo, a communications consultant to some of the world’s biggest companies.

Gallo suggests that whether you’re pitching a product, service, investment, or idea, you should use a “message map” to create a visual display of your idea on a single page.

There are three steps:

Step One. Create a Twitter-friendly headline
Step Two. Support the headline with three key benefits.
Step three. Reinforce the three benefits with stories, statistics, and examples.

You can see this process in more detail, including a short video demonstration, in this post on

I tried this for The Attorney Marketing Center:

Step One: Headline

The Attorney Marketing Center helps attorneys earn more and work less.

This is the single most important thing I want people to know about my company and blog. In fact, I use “Earn more. Work Less.” as a tag line on the blog.

Step Two: Three benefits

We do this by showing attorneys how to

  • Get more clients,
  • Increase their income, and
  • Get more done in less time

These are three benefits attorneys get when they read the blog, buy my products, or hire me to help them.

Step Three: Supporting points

If I want to elaborate in a presentation or in sales copy, these are some bullet points I would use to prompt me:

  • Get more clients (Referrals, online marketing, niche marketing)
  • Increase income (Better clients, higher fees, repeat business)
  • Get more done (Get organized, effectiveness (doing the right things), efficiency (doing things right)

Now you try it. Create a message map that can be used to tell people what you do in 15 seconds or less. Feel free to post it in the comments.


Marketing legal services: Do one thing and do it well


Unix is a forty year old computer operating system that owes its longevity, in part, to its simplicity.

Simple and powerful. Or perhaps, simple IS powerful.

Unix programmers speak of the Unix philosophy approach to writing software. They say, “Write programs that do one thing and do it well.”

I immediately saw the parallel to success in the practice of law.

If you’re trying to do too many things in your practice, you’re certainly finding it harder to do everything well. Success is more likely when you keep things simple. One practice area. One niche market.

Do one thing and do it well.

The same is true of marketing legal services. If you’re trying to do too many things at the same time, or what you are doing is anything but simple, you’re much less likely to do it well enough, or long enough, to get good results.

I’ve seen great practices built with one or two marketing techniques. The key is to have a simple strategy (program) so that you can execute it well.

Simplicity is also key to success in the area of productivity. I get more done, and more important things done, when I keep things simple. I don’t use two apps when one will do. I look for ways to eliminate options because too much of a good thing usually isn’t a good thing.

Forget complicated. Keep it simple. Do one thing and do it well.


Going from huh? to duh! The four stages of learning how to market legal services


When I opened my first law office, I had no idea how I was going to get clients. Had I known how tough it was going to be, I may have given up before I began.

But I was motivated by the need for independence and the stubborness of youth and I found myself with an office, a typewriter, and no work.

What to do. . .?

I had read a lot about mail order and direct marketing in my youth, but I didn’t know anything about marketing legal services. I didn’t think I could use mail order to bring in clients (although I think that now) and so I took out some ads (to other lawyers) and that did bring in some work. Not the best work–overflow and some appearances, mainly. It helped pay the rent.

I knew there had to be something else I could do. Other lawyers brought in clients, why couldn’t I?

Experts in learning would say I was a “conscious incompetent”–I knew that marketing could bring in clients and I also knew that I was clueless about how to do it.

Years later, I learned that there are four stages to learning:

  1. Unconscious incompetent: You don’t know what you don’t know. Think of the young child in the car seat with one of his parents behind the wheel. The child doesn’t know what “driving” is, let alone how to do it.
  2. Conscious incompetent: You know what you don’t know. The child is aware that his parent is doing something to make the car go but he does not know what or how.
  3. Conscious competent: You are able to do it with focus and mental effort. You are aware that you are doing it. After drivers’ training and some practice, the child is able to drive, but he has to think about what he is doing.
  4. Unconscious competent: You can do it effortlessly, without thinking about it. Eventually, like the rest of us, the child is able to drive on autopilot.

As a “conscious incompetent” in marketing legal services, I made the decision to start learning. I read every book I could find on the subject. I studied ads and brochures and seminar sales letters. I talked to other lawyers and asked them what they were doing.  And I tried lots of different things. Eventually, I had some success.

But I wasn’t good at everything. Some things came easily to me. Writing, for one. And speaking. But other skills I am not as good at. I know how to network, for example, and I’ve certainly done enough of it, but it’s not my favorite thing to do. As a result, I have to think about what I’m doing while I’m doing it. (“Jeez, why on earth did I say that. . .!?”) With networking, I am a conscious competent.

Knowing these four stages of learning has helped me to appreciate my strengths and weaknesses. Whatever you’re trying to learn or improve, it helps to know where you are and what you need to do to get to the next level:

  1. Unconscious incompetent: Read, listen, observe, ask questions. Find out what you don’t know. You’ll discover things you’ve never heard of before, (especially in the social media arena–and let’s use that as an example) and you will become aware of what you don’t know.
  2. Conscious incompetent: Now that you know, you need to do more reading, listening, observing, and asking even more questions. You need guidance and support from others. And you need to try it. Open an account, set up a profile, play around with it. Practice and you will get better.
  3. Conscious competent: So you know what to do. You’re posting regularly, networking online, integrating your web site, and downloading the newest apps. You know what you’re doing but it’s still something you have to think about and remind yourself to do. You need to continue doing what you’re doing (more practice) and you need to get feedback and advice from others.
  4. Unconscious competent: You have mastered it. You tweet and post and link like a pro and you can do it in your sleep. The risk here is that you will get bored and stop learning and stop growing, so make sure you stay up with all the new tech and trends and continue to challenge yourself. Even better, help others learn because the teacher always learns more than the student.

If you find yourself stuck in stage two or three and you never get to stage four no matter how much effort you put in, the odds are this is not a natural strength. You might want to get someone to do it for you so you can go do something else.


Marketing legal services: doing things you don’t want to do


Conventional wisdom says that success lies outside of your comfort zone. If you want something you don’t have, you have to change what you are doing and this will probably be uncomfortable, as is anything new. Over time, you will become comfortable with your new activities and you may actually enjoy them.

But then, you will have a new comfort zone. To get to the next level in your growth, you will once again need to go beyond your comfort zone into new territory.

Success, therefore, requires continually being uncomfortable.

This is what we are told, but is it true?

Let’s take marketing for example. Let’s say you really don’t like networking. You’re shy, you don’t like being away from your family, you’re not a “people person”. Whatever. You just don’t like it.

But networking is a proven way for attorneys to build their practices. So what if you don’t like it, there are lots of things we have to do in life that we would rather not do. Shouldn’t you just get out of your comfort zone and do it anyway?


If you tried it and truly don’t like it. . . you don’t like it. Don’t do it.

There are other ways to bring in clients. You don’t have to continue to do things that make you uncomfortable, you can do something else.

Ultimately, success lies inside your comfort zone.

When you like something, you’ll continue doing it. The more you do it, the better you get at it. The better you get, the more successful you will be and the more you will enjoy doing it. And the cycle will continue.

In contrast, when you force yourself to do something you despise, you are miserable. You’ll find ways to avoid going to your networking event, even to the extent of getting sick. You won’t get better at it and your lack of results will only frustrate you and make you hate it even more.

Doing what you enjoy doing is the recipe for success.

Don’t fight how you feel, don’t try to talk yourself into it, and don’t do it because you think you must.

There, did I just hear a big sigh of relief from you?

Good. I’m glad I could help. Just don’t be too quick in deciding what is and what isn’t inside your comfort zone.

Often, we decide we don’t like something based on too little information. Sometimes, we never try at all, basing our opinion on what we’ve heard from others or what we imagine. Sometimes, we try it once, have a bad experience, and never try again.

Don’t give up too soon and don’t assume that when you try something and it is uncomfortable, it will always be so.

Give it a fair try. Study and learn how to do it better. Find mentors who can counsel you. Give the new experience enough time for the newness to rub off.

If it really isn’t your cup of tea, relax, you don’t have to do it. On the other hand, you might discover some things you thought you hated that you’re actually quite good at and now enjoy.

My wife and I grew up with dogs in the house. Cats? Not for us. We don’t like them. All that changed when our daughter was young and wanted a pet but nobody wanted to walk a dog. So we got a cat. Then another.

We gave them a chance and today, Seamus and Andre are like members of the family. That’s Andre in the photo with me, sharing some love with his daddy.


How to market legal services on Facebook


Facebook is a great place to meet prospects and potential referral sources. With a few clicks, you can find and connect with exactly the kinds of people you’re looking for, at no cost whatsoever. The ease with which this can be done, however, too often leads otherwise smart professionals to do things that actually chase prospects away.

Facebook is not an advertising medium, it is a networking medium, and the rules of networking are the same online as they are in the “real” world. Use Facebook to meet people, just as you would at a Chamber of Commerce or Rotary event, and then build a relationship. It’s okay to let them know what you do–that is what people do when they meet, after all. It’s not okay to assault them with self-serving promotional messages.

Just as it’s easy to add friends on Facebook, it’s just as easy for them to block your messages or delete you. Understanding and applying a few simple rules of networking etiquette will go a long way towards helping you use Facebook and other social media sites to build your law practice.

Make your profile about you. People want to be friends with real people, not companies or products or causes. Use your real name, and provide information about yourself–what you do, what you like, where you have been, what you think about the world.

You can describe your practice in your profile and add links to your web sites. Think of this area as your online business card. If someone wants to see what you do, they can look in this section. If they want to know more, they go to your web sites. You can also establish a fan page or group for your practice and link to this from your profile.

Your profile photo should be, not surprisingly, a photo of you. Photos of your dog or a pretty sunset can go in your photo album, but when I’m considering a friend request, I want to see who’s asking. Use a decent head shot and don’t clown around. You really do have only one chance to make a first impression.

Be appropriate. The world is watching –and judging you. If you use inappropriate humor, if there are photos depicting you as inebriated, if you are too extreme in your viewpoints–these can all have serious negative consequences.

Use spell check. Use correct grammar. Be judicious in your use of emoticons, abbreviations, and slang. Your real friends may not care about any of this but I can assure you, many of your business prospects do. All they have to go on is what they see on your page, so be careful about what you post.

As for invitations to join your cause or attend your event, please be aware of how your friends might perceive you in light of your activities. Are you involved in anything ill-suited to your profession or the image you wish to portray? Are you always playing games or taking surveys and, seemingly, never working?

Don’t advertise. Don’t post an ad (or a link to your website) on someone’s wall. Ever. Disguising it as an offer for a free ebook that is part of your sales process doesn’t fool anyone. Don’t do it.

Look, you wouldn’t like it if someone came to your house and stuck a sign in your lawn advertising their services, so why would you think anyone wants your ad on their Facebook property? If you post an ad on my wall, I will delete it. If you do it again, I will delete you.

The same goes for email. If I accept your friend request and you immediately send me messages about your product or service, that’s a big turn off. You might have something I want, the best price, the greatest service, but don’t be surprised if I don’t buy from you.  It’s not quite spam, but it’s close, so don’t do it.

Your status message is different. It’s on your property–I only see it if my settings so allow. But don’t abuse this by posting a never-ending stream of promotional messages. Once in awhile is fine. Do it every hour, like I see some people do, and we’re done.

I change my status message usually once a day. That works for me. It’s okay to change yours several times a day, but make sure you have something meaningful to say. Some say it’s okay to make your status posts two-thirds about you, one-third about your business or offers. I say that’s too much advertising. There are other, more subtle ways to spark interest in what you offer. (See below.)

Add value. Your profile, your status updates, your notes, your videos, your comments on others’ posts, should be perceived, by and large, not as self-serving or frivolous but as adding value.  That doesn’t mean you can’t let your sense of humor show or that everything you do must render a benefit. It does mean that you should show people that you have something to say and something to contribute to the relationship.

You can offer tips and advice, share resources, or describe interesting experiences. I  try to post an interesting quote every week day, and I post occasional videos and links I believe my friends would like to see.

You could write articles (“notes” on Facebook), and provide helpful information. This note is an example. When you post articles, not only do your friends see you as making a contribution, they also get a demonstration of your expertise.

By contrast, updates about the sandwich you just ate or the movie you watched are of no value to anyone unless they come with a meaningful recommendation. I don’t care that you are walking your dog or checking your email. You wouldn’t call me on the phone and tell me these things, so why tell me online? Someone who posts something merely for the sake of posting isn’t adding value, they are simply adding clutter to an otherwise over-cluttered Facebookisphere. [I just coined that word; feel free to use it.]

Adding value also means making an effort to patronize your friends’ businesses.  You’d do that in the real world, wouldn’t you?  And if you can’t hire them or buy something yourself, provide referrals. When you do that, you help two friends and earn the gratitude of both. Be a matchmaker. If you have a friend who is looking for a new employee, for example, and you have another friend who might be a good fit, introduce them.

Add value and people will want to be your friends. Waste people’s time with meaningless information and you might soon find that when you do have something of value to offer, nobody’s listening.

Be yourself, but be normal. Don’t hide your personal side. The things you do for fun–hobbies, games, surveys, widgets you post on your page, and so on, define you and make you interesting. When your friends see they share those interests it can strengthen your relationship. But if you are on Facebook to build your business, you must establish a balance between your personal and business identities. When in doubt, always lean towards your business persona.

In the real world, if you came to my office and I threw a sheep at you or gave you photo of a chocolate martini, that would be weird, wouldn’t it? And yet that’s what people do online. Look, I do silly things on Facebook. I’m opinionated and have a profoundly warped sense of humor and I like to stir things up from time to time. But the majority of my Facebook friends who have an opinion of me would, I think, describe me in positive, business-like terms.

A little flair now and then is interesting. All flair, all the time, is clownish, and people don’t do business with clowns.

Friends first. There is a maxim in marketing that says, “All things being equal, people prefer to do business with people they know, like, and trust.” Be that person.

“How To Win Friends and Influence People,” written decades before the father of the founder of Facebook was born, offers great perspectives on how to do business on Facebook.

Dale Carnegie counsels us to focus on other people,  not ourselves. Talk to your Facebook friends (through messages (email), IM (instant message), and, eventually, by phone and in person) about themselves. Ask questions and listen. Let them do most of the talking.

What do they want in their business or personal life? What problems do they wish to solve? Look for ways you can help them. Provide advice or information or referrals, if you can. Just listen if you cannot. Again, that’s what friends do.

If your services can help them solve a problem or obtain an objective, offer them. If not, don’t. And if you do offer them and they aren’t  interested, drop the subject. They may come back to you some day, when they are ready, or they may not, but they will never hire you if you pushed them or annoyed them to the point where they deleted you.