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I have to say that I’ve never been a big fan of the Client Alerts and traditional newsletters that law firms package up and send out to clients. Not because they don’t have relevant information, but because they tend to be poorly managed, and clients view them more as SPAM because they tend to be inundated with the same information from multiple law firms… usually all at the same time. I’ve even joked with General Counsels about the number of Client Alerts they get when the US Supreme Court comes down with a major decision. Unfortunately, it seems that firms love creating the client alerts and the practice group newsletters that go out to hundreds (thousands?) of clients each month, week, or day. So, since we seem to be stuck with them, is there a way to make them more relevant, or at least stand out in the crowd? I’ve looked over a “tips” list from Bloomberg’s Speed Desk and have attempted to modify them to fit the client alert/newsletter functionality we use in the law firm environment.

Tip 1: Don’t Send on Heavy News Days
Your “news” will have to compete with all the other news that is out there. Do a little research before sending and determine what are the busy news cycles for the industry your clients are in, and determine what times are lighter news times than others. Here’s an even better tip: If you know it is really important for specific clients to be informed on news that will affect their industry… pick up the phone and call them.

Tip 2: Don’t Send on the :00, :15, :30, and :45’s
Everyone sets up those news feeds to email out on the typical quarter hour increments. Be original, send them on the :07’s or other off-peak times.

Tip 3: Keep it Short and To The Point
You’re competing for the attention of someone very busy. Don’t waste their time. In fact, the Bloomberg tip was to keep it shorter than 65 characters (that’s half a Tweet!!)

Tip 4: Put Your Firm Name Up Front
Let the client know who you are. The idea that Bloomberg uses, that might apply to these client alerts, is that you want the reader to place your firm’s name in relationship to the topic.

Tip 5: No “Cute” Headlines
Keep your headlines to the point without attempting to “bait” clients into clicking on something only to find out it doesn’t really fit the content of the alert. Being cute may trick them the first time, but it will probably end up with them not trusting you, and sending all your other newsletters and alerts straight to the trash folder.

Tip 6: Place Good Contact Information on the Alerts
Know when you are sending out the alerts, have good contact information on those alerts, and be prepared to answer the phone calls or emails if the client responds to your alerts.

Tip 7: Man the Phones
The whole idea behind these alerts and newsletters is to drive business. If you send out an alert at Noon and then you take off for lunch, then you better have put your cell phone number on the alert.

(Note: if you just shook your head at these last two suggestion because you have never had a client respond to a newsletter or alert, then you have bigger problems than any of these seven tips can help you with. If that is the case, then I have only one tip for you: Stop Sending Out Client Alerts and think of better ways to spend your time in order to get your clients’ attention.)

Are you starting to think that your e-newsletter is looking a little tired? Interested in adding some social media features?
Here’s a quick guide on what to consider when undertaking a redesign:
  1. Look at your current newsletter and identify what’s lacking. If you are working with a committee, ask each person to come to the brainstorming session with a current newsletter marked up with their suggestions. At this stage, all ideas are welcome and all will be considered.
  2. At the first meeting, review all suggestions then talk about big-picture goals:
  1. over-all look and feel
  2. new functionality
  3. high-level goals (broader content, broader reach)
  • At the end of the first meeting, task each member to bring back at least 1 example of a newsletter that they admire. It doesn’t necessarily need to be a legal e-newsletter. Want some inspiration? Go to the PRSA Silver Anvil Awards site or LMA Awards site.
  • At the second meeting, finalize design, content.
  • It may take a few more meetings, depending upon how detailed you want to get. But remember, when breaking up your goals, make sure that they are SMART goals: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-framed.And make sure to measure the success of your redesign. Take a benchmark of your current newsletter so you can see how well your new design works and whether you may need to tweek it. Track results too, to demonstrate a real ROI. The great thing about e-mailed newsletters is that they are web-based and fluid so they can be easily updated from issue to issue.

    I was thinking about this very question today.

    Why couldn’t a law firm offer a Groupon for their services? Why not indeed?

    It is not so disimilar from offering alternative fees.

    I had recently read about a women-owned firm who were offering flat-fee services for divorces, custody battles and the like.

    Why not a Groupon?

    I can see it now: 50% off Legal Services: $100 for $200 worth of Family Law Services.

    I challenge someone to do this and report on the results.

    What’s the worst thing that could happen?

    If the plan was to get you to undelete an email from your “junk” folder, the marketing staff at Thomson Reuters’ ProLaw found the perfect one–two email combination to get you to do just that. Here’s what some of us received in our email boxes this morning:

    First email subject line:

    For a Limited Time, Get an iPod shuffle by Viewing a ProLaw Demo

    Second email subject line:

    Apologies from ProLaw, a Thomson Reuters Business

    Seeing the second email not only made me want to go back and read the original email, it also got me emailing my friends to see if they had seen this ‘goof’ from ProLaw. Some had, some hadn’t, but guess what we’re all talking about this morning??

    Now, obviously, this was just one of those SNAFU’s that happen in marketing campaigns from time to time, and it wasn’t ProLaw’s intent to send out the first email to such a wide audience only to have to send out an apology email retracting the offer. However, the fact that it wasn’t intentional doesn’t keep us from poking fun at the mistake, or pointing out that there were some unintended consequences resulting from this error that caused many of us to actually go back and read the first email.

    So, for anyone that is marketing a product, and you know people are probably ignoring your emails, perhaps ‘accidentally‘ offering a free iPod in one email and then retracting the offer in a second might be a way to get some eyes back on your product. I’m not saying that it is a ‘good’ way to do it… but it does seem to be effective!!

    Side note 1: Everyone I talked to about this was a little disappointed that ProLaw was apparently offering us the old iPod shuffle instead of the snazzy new version. As one geek told me “that is so three months ago!”

    Side note 2: Now that I’ve re-read the emails (posted below), I’m wondering if this was more than just marketing using the wrong email list… it seems they have upgraded the SNAFU to a privacy issue rather than just a “we used the wrong mailing list” issue. hmmm…

    Second email:

    Earlier today, we mistakenly sent you an email that was not intended for you. We sincerely apologize for this error and any confusion or concern that we may have caused you. We take your privacy seriously, and we are putting in new methods to prevent this error from happening in the future.

    Thank you for your understanding.

    The ProLaw Team, a Thomson Reuters Business

    Thomson Reuters.

    Original email:

    Every firm looks to work more productively. And it can with ProLaw®, the only integrated software solution built from the ground up in a single database to automate the practice and manage the business of law. ProLaw puts all key functions in one place for everyone in the office. If you see a demo by 12/1/10, we’ll send you a FREE iPod shuffle®.
    What makes ProLaw unique? Integration with Microsoft® Outlook®, Excel®, Word and Westlaw®, so you can coordinate cases and contacts, documents, email and calendar, docketing, records, accounting, time and billing, collections, and reporting.
    View a demo and get a FREE iPod SHuffleOne of our specialists will call you soon to discuss how ProLaw can benefit your firm. Have the specialist schedule an online demo for you, and if you see it by 12/1/10, then we’ll send you a FREE iPod shuffle.
    Discover how ProLaw’s “Front Office. Back Office. One Office.®” solution can boost productivity across your firm – and improve your bottom line.
    While supplies last. Limit one per firm. Actual prize may differ from product shown. Prizes will ship 4-6 weeks after live online demo. Offer expires 12/1/10. In accordance with regulations, government employees are not eligible for this special offer.

    Thomson Reuters.

    Who knew attorneys could be so self-effacing? Very funny, clever and effective take on the Texas Super Lawyers’ Rising Stars.

    It just says so many things … 🙂