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It’s marketing, but does it work?

I just saw this wonderful piece of viral marketing by a German law firm.

It’s witty, it’s enjoyable. It got masses of media attention around the world.

But will it get them clients?

In case your german is a bit rusty, the closing message is “If you had a divorce lawyer, that wouldn’t have happened.”

It’s funny and memorable, and it’s a step up from talking head, “have you been injured in an accident? Call us for a free consultation” adverts. But it falls down in a couple of ways as a piece of marketing.

First, it’s really targeting buyers who are thinking about divorce now (face it, did you watch it and think, “gosh, maybe I should get a divorce” or even “gosh, maybe I should get married so I can get a divorce”?!?!)

In any market, there are some people who are ready to buy now (“Now Buyers”), some who are thinking about buying (“Soon –to-Buy Buyers”), and some who don’t even realise they need the product or service being offered (“Future Buyers”).

As a rule of thumb, in most markets, the Now Buyers make up about 1% of your prospects. The other 99% aren’t ready to buy yet.


The big difference between the three groups is that Now Buyers are basically choosing who to buy from: they have made up their mind and they’re on the lookout for the best offer in the market. The other 99% of potential buyers are looking for information: they want to know why they should buy and they want their objections handled.

What they don’t want is to “call for a free consultation” or “fill in the form and one of our consultants will call you back”: they know that these are invitations to a sales call, and they’re not ready to buy so they don’t want to speak to you.

So, the second problem with this ad is that it offers none of the information that prospects are looking for.

So, what could we do better? How could we use this ad to sell to the Soon-to-Buy Buyers and even the Future Buyers?

How do we sell, that is, to people who feel that there is something wrong with their marriage but either don’t know what to do about it or are thinking of divorce but aren’t sure yet that it’s right for them?

When I assess marketing for my clients, I use a simple framework called the Conversion Equation. There are four elements to the Conversion Equation, which correspond to four things every piece of marketing must do.

  1. Marketing has to interrupt. In other words, it has to get someone to stop in their tracks and pay attention. Your prospects are barraged by marketing messages every day—thousands of them—and they are getting very good at ignoring them (did you read a paper today (whether online or print)? If you did, how many of the ads did you notice? Probably very few, if any. If you did notice one, it’s because it said something up front that was relevant to you or unusual. The German law firm’s ad is actually pretty good from that point of view: the mismatch between the sounds of a chainsaw and the visual of a pretty woman holding the saw make you stop and try to figure out what might be going on.
  2. Marketing has to engage. In other words, it has to make you want to keep reading or watching or listening. There’s no point having an attention-grabbing ad that people immediately switch off from. A lot of celebrity-based ads fall over like this: we recognise, say, Brad Pitt, and we think “has he made a new film?” so we watch, but as soon as we realise it’s an ad for Chanel, we switch off again. The best way to engage is to promise that if the person sticks with your ad, they’ll get something useful and valuable (remember, 99% of your prospects are after information). Stories and emotion also increase engagement, which is why the German law firm’s ad works on this level too: the dramatic music and the dripping blood suggest this is not a gardening ad!
  3. Marketing has to educate. You’ve promised them valuable information (if you’re following my advice above), so now you have to give it to them. Here, the video stops following the Conversion Equation altogether. We learn nothing from watching the rest of the ad. We are entertained but not educated. Now don’t get me wrong, I applaud the entertainment (that’s what makes the ad engaging). But it needs something more. Now, in a 30-second TV spot there’s not a lot of room for educational content, but you can at least point out, for example, that there are ways for your prospect to solve their problem that they may not have tried. For example, in this ad, it might be “There are 10 ways to save your troubled marriage. A chainsaw isn’t one of them.” See how that builds on the tension that has been building? And although it might not seem it, there is value in knowing that there are ten possible solutions, especially for someone who either doesn’t think there are any solutions or who can only think of one way out of their situation(or two if you count the chainsaw!).
  4. Marketing has to make an offer. In other words, we need to get the prospect to want to take action, and we need to tell them what to do. Again, the law firm’s ad has nothing, not even a phone number. So, what should we offer? Well, if you were following the Conversion Equation, you’ve just given them a valuable piece of information, so now you want to build on it. In the paragraph above, I suggested telling the viewer that there are “10 ways to save your troubled marriage”, so how about telling them how to request a free copy of a book on saving your marriage in exchange for their contact details (after all, you need to know where to send the book, don’t you?). Wait. Am I nuts? They’re divorce lawyers, aren’t they? Why would they want to tell people how to save their marriage? I”ll explain in a later post!

Of course, we’re still just getting started.

For this to work, the book has to give real information that educates the prospect around when divorce is their best option and when it isn’t—in other words it helps them make a decision to move further down the journey to being a Now Buyer).

If divorce is right for them, then the book will also show them why this is the best firm to handle their divorce. And because the firm has their contact details they can stay in touch, so that when those Future Buyers and Soon-to-Buy Buyers become Now Buyers, the firm is top of their mind as they choose their attorney.

With a couple of simple tweaks, the ad has been transformed from something that is shareable but unlikely to generate many leads into something that is still shareable but could actually end up generating real clients.

How much would those changes cost? A short (30-40 page book) is about $2 to print. Add in shipping and handling and each lead is still under $5.

And of course, at this point, you’re expecting me to make you an offer (after all, I interrupted you, hopefully engaged you, and certainly educated you!).

So here it is: if you haven’t downloaded our free guide 16 Ways To Build Your Business With a Book, you can get a copy at


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