With six weeks until the general election, campaign season is in full swing and both presidential candidates are aggressively trying to get in your head and appeal to you emotionally, logically and subconsciously. Legal marketing may not be as vicious as politics (except on bad days), but legal marketers and attorneys alike can learn a lot from campaigning politicians. These key tips would serve us well in our dealings with clients, colleagues and anyone we need to work with.
Use action language to get results: Former President Bill Clinton, one of the best public speakers of his generation, favors single-syllable, action-oriented words in his speech, according to an analysis by Michael Witmore, director of the Folger Shakespeare Library. That’s action language.
Most people don’t have time to scroll down through a lengthy email to determine what you want from them. They may just press “delete” before they reach the action you want them to see. When you need something from a client, spell it out. Use action words in simple English to tell them upfront what you will do, what you need from them and the next steps to take. That will make communication much easier and give everyone clear accountability for deliverables.
Check your body language: A politician may have a deep understanding of relevant policy issues, but, if he is scowling throughout a whole debate or interview, you can bet that will do some damage to his political image. Former President George W. Bush received a lot of flack for his scowls during Senator John Kerry’s responses in the 2004 debates. (Although in the end it didn’t, in fact, cost Mr. Bush the election.)
Check your body language and mental state before meeting with clients or new business prospects, to make sure you’re giving the best impression possible. Make sure you have eaten so your stomach doesn’t start growling at important moments. Be prepared for the meeting. Ask yourself if you are upset about anything related or unrelated to the meeting. If so, take a deep breath before speaking and ask yourself if this needs to be said now or if it can wait ’til later. You may find your perspective changes later, once you have calmed down and had a chance to mull the issue over. Also, it is proper business etiquette to set your iPhone or Blackberry aside for a meeting, but, if you expect something urgent, explain that at the start of the meeting so you don’t appear rude and disinterested throughout.
Use peer pressure effectively: The recent Republican and Democratic national conventions were multi-day exercises in using peer pressure to win support for the party candidate. Each party had speakers from all walks of life appealing to the American public to vote for former Governor Romney or President Obama. Veterans, Olympians, governors, celebrities, everyday moms and dads – each there to try to convince you why you should vote for their party’s candidate. That’s peer pressure in the political arena.
You may be trying to convince an attorney to move ahead on a legal marketing opportunity, or hire you for that project you have been pitching. If they have been sitting on the fence about deciding what to do, you can use peer pressure to help bolster your case. Connect your prospects with other attorneys at the firm who can attest to your strong work. Chat with the attorney’s practice group head to confirm support of your legal marketing efforts and ensure advocacy on your behalf. Offer to prepare a firmwide presentation for partners or associates to educate them on legal marketing and build a broad base of support. And put that prospect in touch with a client in a comparable role to provide a great reference on your behalf.
For more tips on how to think like a politician without actually being a politician, contact Michelle at email@example.com.