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Producing Tangible Sales Results for Law Firms:

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PAR: The Path to Articles With Greater Impact – In Less Time


By Mike O’Horo and Pat Sweeney

The power of editorial media is undeniable. They have access to the decision-makers and influencers
who either don’t know us yet or don’t know us in the way we wish they did. Not only that, but among their
subscribers, they are considered a trusted source, so merely appearing there conveys credibility to their
audience. Yet, writing articles worthy of publication sometimes seems to take longer than it may be
worth.

Here are some guidelines to simplify this necessary task, and a structure that will accelerate the time from
idea to submission while making your article more attractive to both editors and their audiences.

First, understand that the purpose of your article is not to educate the audience but to position yourself
among them in a differentiated way. This is marketing, not CLE. If you’re going to be in the education
business, charge a course fee. Apart from legal journals read mostly by competitors, there is little
demand for dense legal tracts with heavy citations.

There is, however, steady demand for insight into business problems that have meaningful impact on the
readers’ companies’ strategy and operations, finances, and the readers’ careers and lives. Your goal is
not to tell everything you know on the subject in great functional detail, thus giving away the store, but to
take a clear position on an issue of importance so that readers who are obligated to care about the
problem can decide whether or not you are aligned with their views on the subject.

Please note the absence of intent to persuade. We’re trying to make it easy for those who already agree
with us – but may not previously have been aware that we agreed on this issue – to recognize that
alignment and find us. This is why we advocate taking the PAR approach to writing articles: Problem,
Action, Results.

Problem
Simply, describe a business problem that a group of desirable clients-to-be face. Don’t equivocate. Take
a strong, clear stand on a business problem that you believe afflicts the type of companies that match
your optimal market profile. (If you don’t know your optimal profile, visit
http://www.salesresults.com/rmarchive-item.cfm?mail_number=266 and go through the detailed planning
process described there. Or, if you’re a ResultsPath program participant, call your coach for help.) Your
intent is to stimulate a strong response, either positive or negative.

We’re talking business problem, not legal problem. For example, “U.S. companies, accustomed to the
luxury of a huge domestic market, are not even looking at opportunities in fast-growing Latin America, or
are approaching it so tentatively that they’re moving dangerously slowly.” Everyone will not agree with
your assessment of the opportunity or their negligence. However, those who are concerned about this
issue will be motivated to pay attention to what you have to say.

The simple declaration of the problem is an attention-getter and allows those not concerned to opt out,
saving their time to read something else about a topic they do care about. Now, you’ve got to help them
recognize their degree of investment in the problem by talking about the current consequences of the
problem in strategic, operational, economic and personal terms. In our Latin American example, you

© 2005 Sales Results, Inc.


Reproduction or re-use without written permission is prohibited.
Producing Tangible Sales Results for Law Firms:
 Early-Career Sales Education for Associates
 Sales Performance Improvement for Partners
 Sales Management and Leadership
www.salesresults.com

might cite how fledgling suppliers are using Latin America as a beachhead to establish strong strategic
brands that will later serve as a launch platform in the U.S. (strategic consequence). You might talk about
how the early adopters are locking up scarce materials, key suppliers, distributors, sales organizations,
government relationships, etc., lengthening later arrivals’ time-to-market, relative cost (operational,
economic impact). You get the idea.

This is where people separate mere intellectual interest from “I’ve gotta act.”

Action Advocacy
This is the shortest segment of the article. Here you speak only categorically, e.g., “So, begin and
exercise and nutrition program today to avoid all the bad stuff I described in the Problem section.” In our
example, “Take stock of your remaining growth potential in domestic markets to see if you’re being
shortsighted, and give serious consideration to Latin American expansion.”

The key is to describe what to do, but now how to do it. What-oriented advice is free. “How” to do the
“what” within the context of a specific business is the expertise and judgment for which you charge fees.
You’ll find that eliminating the detailed operational advice shortens the article a lot.

Results
This should be the easiest and fastest section to write. It’s how the reader’s world will be positively
affected if he follows your advice. It’s the direct opposite of the Problem section, with emphasis on direct.
If you referenced fledgling suppliers using Latin America as a beachhead to establish strong strategic
brands that later serve provide them a U.S. launch platform, here you’ll tell them that they’ll keep those
suppliers busy defending their home turf, with fewer resources available to attack your U.S. position.
Continuing the Latin America example we’ve used throughout this piece, you’d talk about protecting your
access to scarce materials, key suppliers, distributors, sales organizations and government relationships.

Close with a Call to Action: “Have your team review your U.S. growth prospects today to see whether
or not a domestic-only approach is shortsighted in light of these trends, then seek the advice of someone
familiar with Latin American opportunities.”

Applying the PAR Formula

Draft a 600-word “core” argument around the most important business problem that serves as the
Demand Trigger™ for your key strategic services. This size will let you quickly adjust to media
opportunities that your marketing department or PR consultant brings you.

To expand to 1000 words, develop the Problem section by citing subtle permutations of the problem or
going into greater detail about the consequences. Be very careful not to add too much to the Action
Advocacy section. To shorten, put all three sections on a word diet, eliminating complex sentences and
prepositional phrases, reflexive verbs, etc.

Remember that you can customize your message for any industry simply by using industry-specific
language, situations and applications throughout.

© 2005 Sales Results, Inc.


Reproduction or re-use without written permission is prohibited.
Producing Tangible Sales Results for Law Firms:
 Early-Career Sales Education for Associates
 Sales Performance Improvement for Partners
 Sales Management and Leadership
www.salesresults.com

Summary

Problem: An industry-specific description of the business problem that serves as your Demand
Trigger™, expressed in the context of the strategic, operational, economic and personal impact on the
company and its stakeholders.

Action: The categorical action that you think the reader should take to avoid, contain, alleviate or
recover from the Problem.

Result: Specifically, how the company and stakeholders will be positively affected by taking the action
you recommend, expressed in the same strategic, operational, economic and personal impact language
used to describe the Problem.

The authors are principals in Sales Results, Inc., trainers and coaches to more than 3500 law partners in
firms of every size, geography and practice array. Their clients attribute more than $1.5 billion in new
revenue to their ResultsPath™ sales methodology and coaching. Other sales articles and the
ResultsMail tip archive are available at www.salesresults.com.

© 2005 Sales Results, Inc.


Reproduction or re-use without written permission is prohibited.