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How to Create an E-mail Law Alert: Powerful Marketing Tool Replaces Printed Newsletters

by Trey Ryder

Thanks to e-mail, you can now write and distribute a weekly Law Alert without buying a single postage stamp or sacrificing even one tree. What's more, you can e-mail your Alert to prospects and clients anywhere in the world in minutes.

Here's how to design and promote an e-mail Law Alert that attracts new clients and referrals.

Purpose: E-mail Alerts are secondary marketing documents. You should deliver your primary marketing message through your information packet, brochure, seminar and web site. Then your Alert should support your message by highlighting and reinforcing the most important points. As a result, your Alert does not need to contain your entire message. Still, your Alert's contents should be well planned so within a certain period -- for example, six months -- you have delivered your full message. In addition, your Alert should clearly state various offers and create urgency so your prospects act sooner rather than later.

Frequency: The frequency at which you send your Alert is more important than the amount of information you deliver. I suggest you send your Alert at least monthly. More often is better. I send my Lawyer Marketing Alert every week.

Format: Send your Alert within the e-mail document itself. When you involve attachments, you soon discover that some recipients can't open them. Plus, your e-mail takes longer to send. But when you send your Alert completely inside an e-mail, you make the process easy and nearly trouble free.

Masthead: This is the area at the top of your Alert that identifies your document. Design your masthead to seize your reader's attention so he can't stop reading. To attract attention, your masthead might include a descriptive title, a descriptive subtitle, topics in this issue, your name and phone number, your reason for publishing it, and the date and copyright notice. Here's a sample masthead for a business lawyer:

* New Sexual Harassment Rules
* Reduce Vendor Lawsuits
* Decrease Payroll Taxes in this issue of the

Tom Spencer's

Your complete source for information that affects your liability and profits

Provided as an educational service for friends and clients by Business Lawyer Tom Spencer, who welcomes your questions and comments at 123-456-7890.

(Issue Date) © Copyright (year) by Tom Spencer, P.C. All rights reserved.

Content: In a weekly Alert, focus on one or two subjects. If neither subject interests some readers, they will receive another Alert in just seven days. In a monthly Alert, include news items and short articles on at least three or four subjects. This way you help ensure that every recipient finds something of interest.

The more readers profit from your Alert, the more likely they are to forward copies to their friends and colleagues, who may request their own subscriptions. Also, make clear to your readers that you provide services that prevent, mitigate or solve the problems you discuss.

Question/Answer Section: Include a commonly asked question with your answer. One question and answer are enough. If you have room, include more. Invite readers to ask questions for future issues.

Seminar Schedule: Feature the title, time, date and place of upcoming seminars. Include a list of teasers that relate to your program's content. “At this fact-filled program, you'll discover how to (subject), three ways to avoid (subject), why you should never (subject), seven steps to (subject), and more.” Teasers that promise specific information dramatically increase attendance, so write and use as many as you can.

Biography: Include details about your education, qualifications, certifications, professional memberships, and courts to which you're admitted. You can include charitable and civic activities, too. Even hobbies, if you like. The more prospects know about you, the more comfortable they feel.

Services: Make sure your prospects and referral sources know the services you offer. If you provide only a general description and hope your prospects will fill in the blanks, you'll be disappointed. Prospects check your list to see if you provide the service they need. If you don't include a specific list, prospects could easily conclude that you don't perform that type of work. The services you list directly affect the services prospects and clients request.>

Offers: The more offers you make, the more likely you are to attract new inquiries and refer-rals. Consider these: Offer educational articles (listed by specific title) that you will send by e-mail. Offer an initial telephone consultation without charge. Offer to add names of readers' friends and colleagues to your e-mail list. Offer to answer a question submitted to you by e-mail. Offer to answer prospects' questions in your Q&A column. Offer to speak to groups that include your prospects.

Add/Remove: Include simple instructions for new readers who want to subscribe and for those who want off your list.

How to Build an E-mail List

1. Identify the people you want on your list. They should include past, present and prospective clients, as well as referral sources. Then, if you don't already have one, compile a list of their names and mailing addresses.

2. Write your e-mail list reassurances. When you invite people to give you their e-mail addresses, you may find they are skeptical. This is because they don't know how you might use their e-mail address. Immediately their thoughts jump to the worst-case scenario.

When I started compiling my e-mail list, I discovered that some lawyers assumed I would charge them a fee to stay on my list. As a result, when I invite lawyers to give me their e-mail address, I reassure them in three ways. My copy reads as follows:

You'll be glad to know that this e-mail list is...

FREE: You pay nothing to be on this list.

CONFIDENTIAL: I will never provide your name or e-mail address to anyone for any purpose.

OPTIONAL: If you ever want off this list, just say the word and I will promptly delete your name.

I suggest you reassure prospects to overcome whatever obstacles they might have to joining your list.

3. Create attractive offers. After you have reassured prospects, you can collect new addresses as follows:

-- Offer your Law Alert by e-mail. Tell readers that in your Alert you will (1) explain legal principles, (2) provide helpful tips, (3) interpret court decisions, (4) discuss proposed legislation, (5) review actual case histories, and (6) invite readers to upcoming seminars. To receive your Alert, ask readers to send you their name and e-mail address.

-- Offer to e-mail specific educational articles, listing their individual titles. After readers give you their name and e-mail address, add them to your e-mail list so they receive all your marketing communications, including your Law Alert.

4. Offer your Alert.

Direct mail. Send a letter or post card to everyone on your mailing list. Explain that on (some future date) you will phase out the printed newsletter you send by regular mail. Explain that you're starting a new Law Alert, which you'll send by e-mail. Next, reassure prospects. Then invite them to send you their name and e-mail address. (You can also use direct mail to offer individual articles.)

Web site. On various pages throughout your site, invite prospects to receive your Law Alert by e-mail. Next, provide reassurances. Then insert “submit” forms where prospects can type in and send you their name and e-mail address.

News releases. Send them to editors at publications read by your target audience. Offer prospects your free educational articles and your free Law Alert.

Advertising. Run classified or small display ads in publications where your target audience will likely see them and respond.

Articles. When you submit an article for publication, put a biographical note at the end that provides prospects with your e-mail address and offers your free educational articles and your free Law Alert.

Inserts. When you send mail to prospects and referral sources, slip into the envelope an insert offering your Law Alert. Invite them to request a free subscription by e-mail.

Forward. Invite recipients to forward your Law Alert to friends and colleagues.

The faster you build an e-mail list of prospects, clients and referral sources, the sooner you'll benefit from your Alert's high impact and low cost. My weekly Lawyer Marketing Alert has brought me more new clients than any other method I have used. I hope you enjoy the same success.

Trey Ryder © Copyright 2004-2007 by Trey Ryder LLC. All rights reserved.

About The Author

Trey Ryder is a marketing consultant and specializes in education-based marketing for lawyers.

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.