Easy Content Creation for Lawyer Marketing
One of the aspects of lawyer marketing that is frustrating for many people is the need to constantly publish great content.
Here is the content creation schedule of one of my successful clients:
- Five blog articles per week
- Three articles for trade magazines per month
- Content for a minimum of one speaking engagement each month
- Course content for his class at a local university
- A monthly direct mail piece to his top fifty potential referral sources
- A weekly email newsletter
- A monthly printed newsletter
That is a significant amount of information to create each month. How does he do it?
Here is some guidance on developing information as the cornerstone of your lawyer marketing plan.
First: Develop a Message Calendar
Create a calendar with 90 different message topics. Assign a topic to a specific day. If you cannot think of 90 interesting things to write about your law firm, your industry or your life, simply record your activity for a week and talk about it with someone who doesn’t know you well. You will be amazed at how interesting mundane things can be to people who are not “walking in your shoes.”
Each day, write an article about the topic that is in your message calendar. If you get into the habit of writing frequently, you will become more efficient.
This gives you three months of solid ideas. It is an outline or a skeleton for your overall educational marketing campaign. Now you can put some meat on the bones.
Next: Decide what goes into the “exclusive” articles
If you write for trade magazines or local publications, they will most likely want your content to appear only in their publication. Make sure you spend time developing these articles early in the month so you do not miss any deadlines.
Take the framework from one of your daily articles and expand upon it. Develop it fully. Do some additional research to enhance it.
Ask if you can publish a link to the article on the trade magazine’s website from your blog. This will allow you to direct readers to your information even if it is exclusively published.
Then: Create one or two talks (speeches) that can be customized as needed
You should have a standard speech that you give to a variety of audiences. You can add to it or remove information from it as needed. This allows for some customization but it also helps you internalize the material and deliver it flawlessly every time. The repetition of giving the same speech with moderate customization will help your confidence.
If you do this and you have a hectic month, you simply modify your existing talk and rehearse it with the new material. This saves a great deal of time in creating new content for each audience.
Finally: Repurpose the non-exclusive information to limited audiences
You newsletters (print and email) can contain information included on your website. Typically each audience (email newsletter audience, print newsletter audience and website audience) is different. There is little danger in worrying about content overlap.
Even with these shortcuts, content creation is a great deal of work. If you focus on delivering educational excellence to your audience, you will be amazed at how well your lawyer marketing works in positioning you as an expert.
The Most Common Mistake Made With Legal Marketing
This week I gave a legal marketing talk to a group of lawyers in Miami, Florida. At the end of that talk I was asked a familiar question. A young attorney stood up and asked:
“What is the most common mistake made with legal marketing?”
My answer surprised many of the attorneys in attendance.
The biggest mistake made in legal marketing today is talking/writing about things that are important to you, the lawyer rather than talking/writing about things that are important to the client.
To find examples of this, you need only look at the websites of the lawyers you know.
Just about every law firm website talks about how the “aggressive” lawyers handle “complex” issues and have a “combined hundreds of years of experience.”
Why is this bad?
It’s bad because clients searching for legal help have one thing on their mind: Their problem.
Clients want to know you understand their situation. They want to know how bad their situation is. They want to know there is a potential solution. And they want to know how to take the first step toward resolving the problem.
Think about that.
If you went to the doctor with a bone protruding from your leg and the doctor said:
“My nurse and I have a combined 60 years of experience handling these issues. We know how to set broken legs. We know how to stop bleeding and we’ve done it successfully 99% of the time. We set legs more aggressively than any of the other doctors in town. I went to Harvard medical school and graduated at the top of my class in leg setting. Here is a photo of me standing in front of a big building where I have set dozens of legs.”
That’s crazy. When you break your leg, you go to the doctor and he assesses your situation and prescribes a remedy immediately. His entire focus is on you and your issue.
When looking for a lawyer, the client wants to be understood and then he will invest his time in learning about you. This is a delicate balance but great legal marketing strikes that balance.
Here are the three things you must include when you are crafting your marketing message.
The client first seeks to understand the depth of his situation. Your marketing material should help the client gather information about his problem and possible solutions. Next, you should help the client understand the criteria for selecting an expert who can help. Finally, you should help him outline a step-by-step process for getting help.
Moving the client to action is sometimes difficult. You marketing message must convey the serious nature of the issue and yet provide some hope for a positive resolution. This is a delicate balance since you can never promise a positive outcome.
The best way to address this aspect of your legal marketing is to present case studies from actual client situations. Real life scenarios and real life solutions bring things into focus for everyone.
The final aspect of your legal marketing message is differentiating you from everyone else who does what you do. This is the section of the message where you can include everything about you and your firm. However you must be judicious in your inclusion of information. You should only include relevant information that helps the client make his decision.
This is a simple formula to follow but the key component is thinking like the client. You must construct your legal marketing with that in mind. Clients focus on their needs first and messages that resonate with them are developed with substance and language that takes their perspective into account.
Stand in the shoes of the client, walk his path, then create your marketing message.
Five Elements of a Lawyer’s Marketing Message
There are many misconceptions out there about a lawyer’s marketing message. The websites and literature I see from lawyers constantly touts the experience of the attorney and his credentials. These things are important but a prospective client will not invest much time or attention in consuming this information if he doesn’t believe you understand his problem.
That’s the real issue. The old adage: First seek to understand then seek to be understood, holds true for lawyer marketing.
This is the thing that most people mess up when it comes to really good marketing. Your message has to be centered in the mind of your client. It has to be all about them. When you create a marketing message it has to absolutely resonate with the people who are listening to you.
What should be included in a good marketing message? There are five elements.
The first element is personal identification. Who are you and why should he listen to you? He must know who you are and why you are communicating with him, before he will open his mind to anything else. Demonstrate empathy for his situation. Use language that resonates. Enter the conversation taking place around his dinner table. Speak to him (metaphorically if you are communicating in writing) in the language going through his mind as he lies awake thinking about his situation.
The second element included in your marketing message is what you do. What is the end result that you’re going to achieve for your client? Demonstrate past success by pointing to actual results. Your prospective client is not interested in academic theory. Show him what is possible based upon what has been done by you for others.
The third element is the reason why people need you. A need is something rational. People need food. They need clothing. But nobody needs truffles, nobody needs designer clothing.
Although people should focus on their needs, they make decisions based upon what they want. Your role is to help them want what they need. This is the difference between emotion and rational thought.
Think about a patient visiting a doctor. When the patient comes to the doctor with a stomachache it could be one of two things, let’s say. It could be a virus or it could be appendicitis. They have to want to go to the doctor to find out which it is. So you have to educate them to want what they need.
People want to address their symptoms because the symptoms are causing them pain. They don’t necessarily care about the underlying disease. They just want the pain to go away. Address the pain.
The fourth element has two aspects to it. When and where they can engage you.
Aspect one: When can/should they hire you? Can they call you at 4:00 in the morning? What type of matter makes sense for you to review? Don’t just make this instructive; make it a call to action. Tell them what the next step is in the process.
Aspect two: Where should they engage you? Do they have to come to your office? Can they come and see you on a street corner? Should they call you to get a copy of a free report (used in the early stages of lawyers marketing as a lead generation tool)?
The fifth element of the message is your difference or your competitive advantage. Your prospective client or referral source must understand how you are different from everyone else who does what you do. This is the thing that most people leave out when it comes to a really powerful marketing message.
They way to think about creating a powerful competitive advantage is to imagine all your competitors lined up with you in a perfectly straight line. Now imagine all of them in grey pants and a grey shirt. Now you enter the line in bright red pants and a bright red shirt. Where is the client’s eye naturally drawn?
The professional way to demonstrate this type of stark competitive advantage is to find something about your service offering that is truly unique. Have you written a book on a specific topic in your area of law? Do you have experience in an area that only five people in the world have ever addressed? Do you have a proprietary system that everyone else envies?
Your competitive advantage is critical to the success of your marketing message.
The elements of a really powerful marketing message, again, who you are, what you do, why people need you, you’ve got get them to want what they need when and where they can engage you, and how you are different. Each of these elements is critically important and you have to include them all.
Great Legal Marketing Always Includes a Call to Action
What should I do next?
This is the question going through the mind of your prospective client after he has read an educational article you have written. It is also the question that is going through his mind after he has attended one of your seminars.
You must help this prospective client answer this question.
Think about it.
You provided great educational content. You got him thinking. You motivated him to think and now you need to help him take action.
That’s why you need include a “call to action” in your legal marketing.
The call to action is essentially a guide to helping your prospective client take the next step in his desire to improve his condition.
A call to action is not complicated. Simply tell your listeners/viewers/readers what to do.
Legal marketing doesn’t need to be complicated. It needs to be clear.
Always include a call to action in all forms of legal marketing.
Give people clear, concise next steps they should take after they read your article, hear your speech or watch your video.
Bye Bye Google Cowboy
There are too many lawyers out there focusing on the wrong goal for their marketing.
Too many people think that becoming number one for their keyword in a Google Search is the Holy Grail of Law Firm Marketing.
Nothing could be farther from the truth.
Marketing is about initiating and developing relationships.
Getting to the top of a Google search is about gaming the system.
It used to be that you could build a lot of links to your website and that would help you influence the search results.
Well, times have changed.
Relevant content that is appreciated by your target audience is the name of the game now.
That means Google has figured out your little tricks. It means you must invest time and energy into relationship development, both on line and off line.
Confused? Angry? Disappointed?
Deal with it.
Below is a link to a podcast I just released that will help you re-gain your footing in this post-link-building world.
Listen to it today and it will help you get your internet marketing back on track.
Do This Get More Clients For Your Law Firm
Everyone wants to see the baby but nobody wants to deal with the labor pains.
It’s human nature.
I have to work really, really hard to get most of my clients to implement the strategies I teach. In fact, I have to sell them on the idea that taking action is the key to success.
(Most people believe that good ideas are the key to success but, in reality, an idea that is not implemented is worthless).
If you want something that is as close to a surefire client attraction strategy as I can give you, listen up. I’m going to give it to you, step-by-step. Here it is:
The weekly newsletter is one of THE MOST POWERFUL client attraction tools ever invented.
Here’s how you can implement this, immediately:
Step 1: Collect contact information from everyone you meet. This is not rocket science. After you have a conversation with someone, ask them if you can add them to your newsletter list. Once they agree, ask for a business card.
Step 2: Add that contact information to an email program that allows you to send email newsletters in bulk. Do your homework in this step. Use a reputable service that has a high deliverability rate.
Step 3: Send a “Welcome” email. This step is critical. You want to send an email to everyone who signs up and you want to ask them to “confirm” their subscription. This confirmation is known as a “double opt-in” and it helps make sure you are sending email to people who really want it. Almost every email service requires email confirmation these days and they make this process easy.
Step 4: Send your subscribers a weekly newsletter. You may bristle at the frequency but that is the key to success. Frequency of communication builds trust. If your newsletter is interesting, people will want to read it every week.
What you can expect
The results from this simple process will amaze you.
It will take about six months before you see any clients from this effort. (Hey, it’s not magic. People on your list need to get to know you, like you and trust you.)
If you focus on building your list and if you provide interesting and entertaining content every week, you can expect people to contact you when they have a need for your services.
There is a Santa Claus but I Ain’t Him
Last week I received an email from a family law attorney named Renee from Cape Coral, Florida. Renee wrote and told me that the economy was killing her law firm. She said I should help her on a contingency basis because none of my ideas was different from anything she heard from other legal marketing gurus. She said if I didn’t help her, I should stop emailing her because, if I didn’t “put my money where my mouth is” it would prove that I was no marketing genius.
I turned down this offer.
Lawyers cannot share fees with non-lawyers in Florida but that’s not the main reason I passed on working with Renee on a contingency basis.
The reason I don’t work on a contingency basis is the same reason I don’t have a partner. I can control what I do but I cannot control what you do. Most businesses fail because of a lack of action.
Everyone knows what to do. They just DON’T do it.
It’s not poor planning that causes a business to fail. It’s not undercapitalization. It’s not selecting a bad location. All of those things are symptoms of the real disease…failure to take action.
As for the attorneys who say they have no time for marketing or business strategy…Make no mistake, each time you use that excuse, you are actually selecting a different priority. You have plenty of time.
You just have screwed up priorities.
We always find time for things we think are important.
Renee is right about one thing. The ideas I share with you are not new. They have been used over and over again by successful people. These ideas are old and battle tested.
You don’t want new ideas. New ideas have not been fully vetted. New ideas make you a lab rat in an experiment. They do not have a track record of success. New ideas do not offer you a formula that works.
These crappy old ideas are working right now for me, the solo consultant with a thriving practice. You see, I practice what I preach. I use my own systems each and every day. And these ideas are working right now for hundreds of attorneys who implement the information I share with you each week.
It is Renee’s poor ability to execute that has caused her law practice to fall off a cliff.
When I asked her which of my ideas did not work, she was nonresponsive. The answer I received was a personal attack on me.
It is in the spirit of the holiday season that I say:
Yes Renee, there is a Santa Claus. He’s the guy who can leave the gift of new clients under your Christmas tree.
Alas, I am not him. I’m just a guy who helps lawyers with old, successful ideas. I’m no marketing genius. I’m no guru.
But you don’t need a genius or a guru. You just need to pick an idea and implement it. And then pick another one and repeat that action.
It is the genius that lies within you that will help you make a great living and live a great life.
Marketing for Lawyers is All About the List
One of the main points I try to hammer home to my clients is the value of their database. This is a central point in marketing for lawyers. Everyone you meet has the potential to refer business to you. After you meet them you should immediately add them to your follow up sequence and then put them into your database.
In marketing language we refer to the database as your list. This term encompasses the various lists you have in your database. So for the purposes of this discussion when I say “the list” I mean all the lists in your database.
The value of your list comes from the personal, frequent communication you have with them. As I have said many, many times, I believe in weekly email and monthly print newsletters to foster this relationship. Frequency of communication builds trust.
If you buy into the value of the list, you will then do everything you can to focus on building your list over time. This shifts your marketing focus from trying to sell someone on your services as a lawyer the first time you meet them, to simply getting them onto your list and building a relationship with them over the long term.
The reason for taking the long term relationship building route is valuable is because even if you do not ever secure them as a client, you may get referrals from them now and in the future.
In marketing for lawyers the list is gold. Get a database together and communicate with the people on it as frequently as possible. Once you have their trust, the business will follow.
About Integrated Marketing for Lawyers
There have been a number of articles posted on this website about law firm marketing success and I have written numerous step by step guides to legal marketing but I think I may have missed one important point. Although I often say there is no magic bullet to success in marketing for lawyers, I have never stressed how important an integrated approach to law firm marketing really is.
So let me remedy this oversight right now.
Marketing for lawyers is not done on a “one off” basis. You can’t just give one speech or mail one newsletter and expect one hundred clients to show up at your doorstep. You must have a solid idea of who your target market is and you must hit them with your message multiple times through many different forms of media.
You have 10 prospective clients in your marketing database. You send them an email invitation to attend an event you are hosting. You also send them a printed invitation in the mail. You follow up with two subsequent emails and two subsequent invitations.
You post a video on your website in which you are talking about the event. You have your office assistant call each prospect and ask them to come to the event. You do a press release announcing the event (and generating media coverage).
At the event you educate your clients on an important topic and you introduce them to a new service you are offering.
After the event you follow up with your clients and see if they are interested in trying the new service. But you follow up in the same multimedia format as you did when you invited them to the event in the first place.
Please note: If you are a lawyer in an area where you cannot predict who your clients will be (Divorce, Criminal, Immigration) you can follow this formula and target referral sources and centers of influence.
Each action discussed in the above example is considered a tactic. The reasoning behind the actions and the plan that holds them all together is the strategy.
My point is that marketing is not an isolated activity or a series of isolated activities. It is an integrated process that helps you achieve an objective. Each initiative must build on the previous initiatives.
Consistency of message and execution will result in success. This is true in most aspects of life and it is definitely true in marketing for lawyers.
The Most Overlooked Legal Marketing Tool
The most overlooked legal marketing tool in your arsenal is your database. I’m not just talking about the people in the contacts file of your PDA. I’m talking about everyone with whom you interact. Everyone who knows you and everyone you come into contact with on a regular basis should have an electronic “record” stored somewhere that is easily accessible to you and your team.
If you don’t do anything else this year, you should invest in a good tool to manage the information you collect on the people you know. Sometimes these tools are called client relationship management systems. Sometimes they’re called database marketing systems. And sometimes they are just called contact management systems. The point is that you have some system to communicate with everyone you know – regularly.
Legal marketing is about building and maintaining relationships. Frequency of communication is critically important in relationship building. Email, snail mail, phone calls, and meetings – all of those forms of communication shape the relationship you have with someone. You need to keep track of all of these communication events.
I am a big advocate of weekly communication with your database. One short educational email, sent once a week, can position you as an expert and keep you in the mind of people who can hire you and refer clients to you.
If you have any desire to be successful at legal marketing, you need to manage, maintain and utilize your database.