LFMM Podcast 006: Three Things that
Separate Successful Law Firm Owners from Struggling Ones

Click here to go to the show notes from episode 6

Welcome to The Law Firm Marketing Mastery podcast – Episode 6, where we get more clients, make more money, step by step. I’m your host Christopher Small, and I am excited to just dive right in tonight.

Today we are going to talk about a great experience I had in a meet up last night, some lessons I’ve learned form that and in the Features Segment we are going to talk about three things that separate successful law firm owners from struggling law firm owners. Believe it or not there is a big difference between the two. And then, in the Tip of the Week, I am going to tell you how I save hours every week when it comes to new client communications.

Okay, here we go.

Weekly Update

First let’s talk about my experience at the meet-up last night. I’ve got to tell you, before I get into this, that from a business owner’s perspective it was one of the best experiences that I’ve ever had. So first you might be asking yourself, “what is a meet-up?” And I’ve got to be honest with you I didn’t really know myself until I actually went last night.

What a meet-up is, is, like it sounds, it’s sort of like an impromptu networking event. I guess they happen all the time outside of the law firm business, they’re pretty big in the tech world. When people are around they just say “Hey, I’m in town, let’s do a meet-up, let’s talk shop and hang out and have a couple of drinks, and have a good time, and see what happens.”

Like I said, my experiences with meet-ups before last night were non-existent. I have seen and heard a lot about them from the people I follow on twitter and the people that I follow on Facebook and some of the blogs and podcasts that I listen to, but I’ve never actually gone to one, I’ve never been invited to one, I’ve never heard of one that was happening in Seattle, which is why I never participated at one.

But, on Friday I got an email from this guy, his name is Derek Halpern and he runs a website called Social Triggers that focuses on the psychology of internet marketing essentially. It focuses on persuasion and how to get your message across, in the way that most resonates with your potential clients, your potential customers, so that you can get them the information that they need to be successful.

So I got this information about this meet-up. He was here in Seattle with two other guys doing some kind of conference or something, which, I don’t even know about. And he invited whoever wanted to come to meet up at this hotel in downtown Seattle from 7 to 9 last night.

I thought “what the hell, I’ll go. I like what this guy does. It would be a great opportunity to kind of meet some other people that are in Seattle too, that are into marketing and into business,” and so I went and gave it a shot.

And it was freaking great experience. It was fantastic. And here’s why: so, I don’t know about you all but I tend to kind of have some dumb luck sometimes when it comes to things like this, and it happened again for me last night.

I walked into this meet-up, you know, about 7 o’clock, and there were already maybe like 10 or 15 people there. And like I said, I didn’t know anybody at all. I saw the dude that, Derek Hepburn, I saw him there, but he was, you know, being flanked by like three or four people telling him how cool he was, and I wasn’t really ready to do that.

So I went up to the bar to get a drink, and while I was at the bar, there was a guy standing next to me. And this hotel bar, so pretty much the only people over there are there to participate in this meet-up. So there’s this guy next to me, and I say “Hey, what’s up man, how you doing. My name is Chris, how are you?”

And his name was, he said “Hey, I’m Alejandro, and it’s nice to meet you” and I said “Hey, nice to meet you too,” and we started talking. It turns out he just moved up here from Sacramento two months ago his wife is going to school up here. But he owned a marketing agency down in Sacramento and, you know, was kind of part of the marketing game, the business game, and so that’s why he was there.

So we talked for a while and, actually talked for a long time, got his whole story, kind of told him about what I do and what I’m doing with this law firm marketing mastery podcast, and lawfirmmarketingmastery.com, and we kind of just hit it off.

Well, it turns out that he is, by the end of the night I was calling him the godfather of social media, but it turns out that he was one of the really early adopters of Twitter, and he created a product and put on some seminars on how to use Twitter, to make money probably, to be known, but it turns out that he knew all of the speakers, all of this guys that everybody is coming to see, he knew this guys really well.

So I just hung out with Alejandro all night and then over time Derek Hepburn came up and talked to us, James Wedmore was one of the other guys, and then Louis Howes was the third guy. And all this guys are really successful internet entrepreneurs. They teach people how to use the internet to make money.

And that’s kind of what we’re doing too, and I steal a lot of lessons from internet marketers and I apply them to my own firm, you know, because what we’re really trying to do is get in front of people that need our help, show them that we can help them, and then help them, and they pay us for that.

And that’s what these guys do. So it was pretty cool though. One of the coolest things that I heard from this conversation with these guys is they did a live webinar event where they pulled one of the audience members from the crowd and she has a publishing company and she does a series of live events, live seminars on how to create a best seller in a weekend. That’s like her thing, so she’s in the publishing industry, and she teaches people the ins and outs of creating a book and creating a best seller and doing it in a very short amount of time.

Like a said, I don’t even go to this seminar, and I don’t even know what it was about, but I think it is about traffic attraction, and about hosting webinars and about being successful at doing that.

So, what they do is they pulled her up on stage, on Friday, and they had her send an email out to her list of people that are interested in her program, offering a webinar the next day, which have been yesterday, for a hundred bucks or a couple hundred bucks or something like that for the webinar. And after they tied everything up, she did the webinar and yesterday she made ten thousand dollars in one day, which I thought was crazy.

I mean I have had, on paper I guess, a ten thousand dollar day, when I signed up a couple of clients, but to actually have that sitting in your bank account after a day and having completed your part of the promise in one day, was just crazy.

That’s the kind of stuff that these guys are doing, and it was really cool and it was a great opportunity to talk business, talk shop with people that aren’t lawyers, that are doing different things, and the great thing about that too is, you had the opportunity to get perspectives that aren’t all the same, right? These people aren’t lawyers. They are doing their own thing, and it’s always pretty amazing the ideas that other people come up with that you can use for your own business, in your own practice, to really do a great job. So, that was cool.

The other thing that was cool, and if there are any DUI lawyers out there listening, by the end of the night we’d all had a couple of cocktails, and Derek Halpern, I was talking to him, and I was telling him about the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, which, for all of you non-DUI lawyers, it’s a field sobriety test that officers do out in the field. It’s also known as the “follow the pen test” kind of, is what most people know it as. But what nystagmus is, is the involuntary jerking of the eyes that will start to happen with the more alcohol that you consume.

And so, it was me, Alejandro, and Derek were sitting there and I did the test and he didn’t believe me, so he gave Alejandro his phone and we actually recorded me giving him the horizontal gaze nystagmus test and we were recording his eyes, so he could actually see his own eyes twitching. So that was pretty cool, and, being a lawyer gives you some advantages, because a lot of people aren’t familiar with what you do, and some people actually think that lawyers are cool. We know we’re not cool but other people kind of do, so use that to you advantage and tell some good stories and make a good impression.

I guess before I get off this topic the main… what’s important about this is that it’s okay to take opportunities outside of our profession, to go learn something new that you can apply to your business. And it doesn’t have to be a meet-up, it doesn’t have to be internet marketing related, but any time that you can learn something, anytime that you can gain some momentum with your practice, you need to go do it.

Another thing that I have taken away from this is how easy and beneficial these things can actually be. So I may try to do my own meet-ups, and do my own kind of things like this with other lawyers in town, and really anybody else that wants to come.

Because they’re great, they’re sort of like a cross between a happy hour and a networking event. People know that they are there to talk shop but they are also there to have a good time and meet some new people and be social. It’s a great kind of joining of those two things.

Feature Segment: Three Things that Separate Successful Law Firm Owners from Struggling Ones

Onto our feature segment: the three things that separate successful law firm owners from struggling ones. A lot of owning and running a successful law firm is mindset. We can talk about tactics, strategies, and things that you could do all day, but if your mind is not in the right place, then you’re going to have a hard time getting the job done. And the mind is a fragile thing, right?

So even today, even with my firm where it’s at, on pretty steady ground, I still have those days where I question what I’m doing and I’m not sure if the phone is going to ring again, and I’m not sure if what I’m doing is right. And the only way that you can overcome those feelings and overcome that mindset is to really practice, and to really work on it.

Today we’re going to talk about the three things that separate successful law firm owners from struggling ones, and we’re going to try to get into a little bit of that kind of mindset of the successful law firm owner.

1. A willingness to learn the business of owning a law firm. The first thing that I want to talk about is a willingness to learn the business of owning a law firm. One of the things that isn’t taught to us at all in law school, and maybe not in undergraduate school as well is business: how to market a law firm, how to start a law firm, and the nuts and bolts of owning a business. We’re not taught that.

When I was at KU, I was a psychology major in undergrad. I didn’t take even one single business class. And in law school I took business law and that’s it. So, I had a steep learning curve when it came to learning how to operate a business, learning how to get clients, and I really kind of took a hold of that and have enjoyed the process of learning about business and learning about marketing because, the bottom line is, a lot of what you learn in marketing applies in your legal field as well.

We’re talking about persuasion, we’re talking about presenting information that people want to hear in a way that resonates with them. So we’re talk about marketing.

You know, there’s a bunch of different ways that you can do this. I wrote down some of things that I’ve done: books; seminars; webinars; coaching; membership sites; and I also wrote down a couple of the things that I’ve actually have done specifically.

These are some of the books, I just really went through my Kindle reader, and these are some of the books that are in there that I’ve read in the past couple of years. Some of them I read very recently, some of them I haven’t read for a while, but here we go.

And, you don’t need take out your pen and paper to write these down. I’ll put them in the show notes, so that if you’re interested in reading any of these, you can. They are all really good. Some of them are directly about business, some of them are kind of tangentially related to business or they just have some good nuggets that you can apply to your business, and some of them are mindset books too. Like I said, getting that entrepreneur mentality, changing your mindset for being just a lawyer, from being just an employee, to being an owner of a business is for some, a difficult leap to make.

For everyone it’s a transition, there’s definitely a transition, so some of these books can really help you make that transition.

Here they are:

So those are all some books that I’ve read over the last year or two probably. And I’ve got, I probably have 50 more that I’ve read. I’m a sponge for this kind of stuff. For me I like it, right?

I mean, why do I have a law firm marketing podcast? Because I’m really into it, I mean, this stuff is really interesting to me. But even if it’s not that exciting to you, you need to take the time to learn how to do it. Because if you don’t, you’re not going to have a plan for success and you’re going kind of subject yourself to being taken advantage of by other people.

Think about those marketers that are calling every day. And if you don’t own a law firm, as soon as you open up, people will going to start calling you every day trying to sell you their services. And if you don’t know how to spot the good ones from the bad ones, you’re doing yourself a great disadvantage.

Some of the… I’ve done some, I’ve don tons of webinars, tons of free webinars, I’ve done some seminars. Internet Business Mastery is one of the latest kind of webinar based tools that I actually bought that package, I think it was $500.

What internet business mastery is about is starting an internet business basically, that’s based on information products. And they have a ton of information there that you can use and incorporate into your law firm because your law firm can be an internet business and you can create information products and create things that will get you more business. And that’s what the internet business mastery course is about.

Of course I’ve taken How to Start and Manage a Law Firm from Rjon Robins. I’m in part of his membership website, and I have a monthly coaching call, with one of his coaches, that’s fantastic.

I’ve done mastermind groups, which in a mastermind group is something I think that we could all do more and be a part of. And, what a mastermind group is, is usually anywhere from two to four to five people get together, and you can get together once a week, you can get together twice, every other week, you can get together once a month.

But basically what you do, is you sit down, and everybody talks about one kind of problem, or one stumbling block that they’re having with their business, and then talk about what you’ve been doing to work on the last thing that you talked about at the last meeting.

And the idea is to combine, two heads are better than one, right? So if you get some other people to listening to the struggles that you’re having, you can sometimes get solutions that you may not have thought of if you’re just doing it on your own. That’s what a mastermind is, and it is fantastic, I’ve done a couple of them, and I’ve loved it every time, and I’ve always taken away a great deal of information, and it has added thousands and thousands of dollars to my bottom line.

The last thing I’ll say about this first willingness to learn the business of owning a law firm is that you can’t hide from the business side of your law firm. You have to embrace it. It’s a part of what you have to do, and the more you learn, and the faster you learn about the business side of your law firm, the better off you’re going to be. It truly does separate successful law firms from those that are not successful.

2. Willingness to Take Action. The second trait is a willingness to take action.

I’ve had this “starting a law firm” blog and the “law firm marketing mastery” site for… I’ve had that site for a short amount of time but it’s all kind of part of one big starting a law firm blog that I’ve had for several years. As that site gained more and more popularity, I’ve had people email me, I would have people call me, and actually sometimes, I’ve had people in Seattle, or that are visiting Seattle call me and want to talk about starting their firm and the things that they can do to increase their chances of success, and what happens more times than not is I would give someone a lot of, I would give them the blueprint that I have from my own law firm, for example.

I would tell them all the things that I did, and I would tell them the things that I wish I would have done, and the things I wish I wouldn’t have done, and we’ll part ways. And 8 or 9 times out of 10, the people that I talk to end up not doing anything to further their goal of starting a law firm, and that lack of willingness to take action is something that really sets a lot of people back.

And I talked about this a little bit before, but if you’re not giving, if you’re not opening yourself up to the opportunity to fail, then you’re not doing enough, and you should be doing it every day.

You should be pushing your boundaries. You should feel uncomfortable, in a good way, and you are going to experience some failure. And what you have to do is teach your mind to understand that those failures that you experience are learning lessons. They’re not true failures. You’re not done. The game is not over.

You have the opportunity to keep going on, use what you’ve learned, and do it better the next time. And so many people don’t do that. If you’re not willing to take action, you’re not going to have a successful law firm.

3. There’s More to it than the Money.

Third, and finally, the last reason, the last thing I guess the mindset thing that separates successful law firm owners from everybody else is that most successful law firm owners have started their law firm for a reason other than just making money. There’s something else behind it. Some kind of a passion, some kind of a drive, a desire, that has to be there to push you forward.

Money alone, at the end of the day, is just not going to do it. It’s not going to get you to write that blog post. It’s not going to get you down in your garage on 9:30 on a Sunday night to record a podcast about a law firm marketing like this.

I’m not making any money from this. I hope to, maybe someday, because I think what I’m providing is valuable. But right now I’m just doing this because I like to talk about law firm marketing and the business of a law firm, and I think, I really enjoy helping other people out, right?

It’s so fun to see people be successful, and it’s so fun to be a part of that. And this is one of the ways that I can do that. Same goes with my law firm. I started a law firm for several reasons, and making money was on the list, but it was certainly not at the top.

The first reason I started a law firm was because I wanted to have the opportunity to create something that was mine, right? I’d seen from some of my other jobs as an attorney, and from seeing other people’s lives devastated from losing their jobs in other places that the only way to really be secure with your future, with your job, with everything, is if you are the creator, right?

If you are the owner, there is no one that can fire you if you own the business, and that was something that I always wanted to pursue with the law firm.

The second thing is kind of similar to that too, is that, I just like the idea of building something up from nothing. From just going out there and saying: “I am going to do this.”

And a lot of other people couldn’t do it, but I can, and I am going to. And I really get a big kick out of that. I have so far and I still do. That’s one of the driving forces. I like the opportunity to create something great, you know?” And so that’s why I wake up every morning and go do this stuff.

And then the third reason that I started a law firm is, I just like to be the boss too, you know? I like to be making the decisions, I like to be able to pick out the color of the logo and the office space and create whatever kind of environment I want to work in. So I did that.

And then there were some reasons specifically that I picked criminal defense and traffic ticket defense over anything else, and it doesn’t have much to do with money, really. I picked those things because I like doing criminal defense but I also like having fairly normal average people as clients. And DUI and traffic defense obviously afford me that opportunity.

The second reason is that with my firm I want my firm to be known for being really good at something, and the only way you could do that, and I talked about this before, is if you focus on one or two things, right?

You cannot be a jack of all trades and be really good at what you do, it’s just not possible, and it’s not sustainable. So I picked DUI defense, and I picked traffic defense, and I made sure that we were really, really good at those two things. And it helps us win, helps us get deals for our clients, and helps us become known as reliable attorneys in that field with a certain level of expertise.

Then the third reason I do criminal defense and traffic defense generally is, I like the idea of “fighting the man”, right? I like the idea of being the underdog, of fighting against the overpowering big brother. I like that. I like that role and DUI and traffic defense afford me the opportunity to go fight against big brother. So I really like doing that.

So you know, and then the other thing is when it comes to Law Firm Marketing Mastery – this podcast that I have created, this kind of, the website that I have created and everything, there is a reason for that too, and it’s not money, right? Like I said, I really enjoy seeing people succeed and fulfilling their dreams.

I know how hard this can be, and I am trying to provide some information and some tools that I wish had been out there when I first started and that I think can help you and can help anybody that’s listening to this.

And then what also goes along with that is that hopefully I am teaching something here, hopefully you are learning something new that you can then go and use in your firm and you can use when someone calls you and tries to sell you something, you know?

I think when marketers call my office they love it and hate it at the same time. They love it because we are having conversations that they never get to have. I ask them about specific demographic information and I will make them drill down and provide me with some sort of reliable evidence that the numbers that they are providing me are true, and that they actually apply to my practice area, and then they hate it for the same reasons, because I don’t end up buying a lot of advertising form people because they cannot back up their client quite frankly.

So that’s why I do this. Will I probably end up making some money out of it? Yes I will, because, like I said, I am providing some very, very valuable information to the people and the information that I am giving you can literally save you thousands and make you thousands at the same time.

So there is something to be said for that.

Tip of the Week

Okay, that is the end of our feature segment. Let’s just dive right into the tip of the week which is a productivity tip.

And I want to talk to you about one of the things that helps me and my assistant shave hours off of our days. I’m talking about the form email.

So what you will see when you open your firm or just in your life as a lawyer is that you often will be sending out the same emails over and over again. Some of the ones that I just wrote down were potential client introductory emails, laying out meeting details and things like that; the welcome email for someone who has signed up with us – we usually send them out a welcome email and some other information; the record request email for all of our clients – we have to get some please reports and we will get some other things with our DUI clients specifically but we have to ask for those, for every single person; and then, finally, our case resolution email – so at the end we send out an email that reminds that people what happened in their case, reminds them of any obligations that they have and then gives them some information moving forward, ask them to like our Facebook page, leave a review, call us if they have any questions or anything pops up.

So all of those emails, we are writing several of those every day. And the way that you can shave a ton of time off of your workday is to create form emails that you can just plug in, slightly modify if you need to, and then send them out, instead of having to reinvent the wheel every time.

And the way that I have done this – I used Gmail for my law firm office suite, I guess you might want to call it, and all I did is I write an email, I save it as a draft and then I just cut and paste it into an email when I need it. So it’s always there, it’s always ready to go and it saves us tons of time.

That’s the tip of the week, and I think that’s all for today.

Before we go I do want to request or ask you that if you have any specific questions that you want to have answered here on the podcast or on the blog that you go to the blog lawfirmmarketingmastery.com and leave a comment or question or you can email me directly, christophersmall@lafirmmarketingmastery.com you can reach me there.

You can find me on Twitter – @csmall and message me on twitter. Facebook, you should be able to find us there. You can ask me a question on Facebook and if you are not asking questions you can always go follow us and like us on twitter.

Like I said, I always put out information on there that I don’t talk about necessarily on the blog or here. It’s usually short, little bits and pieces of advice and also a link to blogs, other posts and articles that I find helpful or other little information that I think we can use so if you are interested in that at all you should definitely go and check those out and obviously please go to the blog and leave us a comment, let me know if you like what is going on.

That reminds me, finally, the last thing: please go leave me a review on iTunes for this podcast.

I don’t really get to hear a lot of feedback from anyone so I don’t know if you like what you are hearing, if you don’t like what you are hearing, if you think I am an idiot, if you think I am doing a great job.

I would really appreciate it if you left me some feedback via iTunes and a review and I promise to look at them all. And know that if you leave a review to give you a little bit of an incentive what I would do is I will call you out here on the podcast and I will tell everybody what the review was and I will give you a shout out to your website or whatever you want, which will then result in a link back to your site once the show is transcribed, I got a guy that is transcribing the show every week, so the turnaround time is pretty short.

So that’s it for this week, Law Firm Marketing Mastery Podcast, thank you for listening, talk to you soon!