LFMM 011 Transcript: Failure

Click here to go to the show notes from episode 11

Welcome to Episode 11 of the Law Firm Marketing Mastery podcast, where we get more clients, make more money, step-by-step. I’m your host, Christopher Small, and this week I’m going to talk about something we’ve all experienced, but few want to talk about: failure.

And, in the tip of the week I’m going to talk about a book I just finished that’s a must read for any small business owner, law firm or not.

Week in Review

Before we get to all that, let’s talk about what happened last week.

First of all, Happy New Year! This is the first podcast in the New Year, and I hope it’s going well for everyone so far. I hope you are keeping up with all your new year’s resolutions and all of your goals and everything. We’re only six or seven days in so far, so hopefully you’re keeping up with that.

Last week was a pretty busy week for me, with New Year’s and everything else that was going on.

I launched some updates to a few of my sites; lawfirmmareketingmastery.com has gotten a pretty complete makeover, so you should go check that out, if you want, if you get a chance (you can do that here). Because, in addition to this blog, or this podcast, I also have articles that I put up there too that I write, I try to do at least one a week.

So go check that out. It’s a new look, it’s got my picture up there, and there’s some other cool stuff up there, so go check it out.

The second site that was updated was my traffic ticket site, seattleticketkings.com, and, although it’s technically not completely done yet, I have a video that is going to go up, probably today, it’s got a new look and it’s got some tweaks to it.

Same as seattleduiguy.com, got a new video up there, and got some other, some minor tweaks that I think are really going to help the site perform better. So I did that, and also made some changes to some of my current sites.

Basically what I did was redirect my old sites to these new sites. So, on cmslawfirm.com, fightyourseattletafficticket.com and fightyourseattledui.com, I installed pup ups on all three of those that direct you to the correct place (my new sites).

If you want to see what those pop ups look like, you can go and check those out. For those sites I used elance.com, for all of this work I used elance.com.

I used different people for the site redesign, and for the pop ups, because my site guys are not, they are not really, the old sites are on a different website platform I guess, and my design guys that I use now, they are not as familiar with that kind of code that the old sites were on.

I had to get some new guys. But everybody worked out great, again, elance.com I would recommend anyone if they have any kind of website work that they need to do, to go, and check those guys out.

Also last week I hired a new contract attorney.

I’ve been thinking of doing this for a long time, and actually kind of serendipitously, yes, that’s a word, and I used it correctly I believe, I got a resume from a guy who was opening his own law firm and was looking for some contract work.

His skills matched a lot with what I am looking for, so I met him for coffee, talked to him for about 45 minutes to an hour or so, got his background, and figured out what he’s looking for. I  talked a little bit about his experience and at the end of conversation I decided I was going to give him a shot.

And that’s one good thing about contract attorneys, is that they don’t work out, you just move on to somebody else. There is not as much red tape and paperwork that’s involved.

I’m still going to really do everything I can to provide him the tools to be successful, I’ve got lot of kind of step-by-step procedures that I like him to follow when he does the things that he is going to do for me, so that will help make sure that the information I get from him is what I need and so that we don’t waste each other’s time.

But otherwise he’s going to be doing his own thing. He just will have a deadline, and he can work on the work whenever he wants, and hopefully that works out.

And then, finally, another big thing that happened last week was I had my first interview for the Law Firm Marketing Mastery podcast. It’s a young lady named Madhu Singh who I know from Kansas. She’s a lawyer here in Seattle. She opened her firm, maybe 2 years ago. She is a University of Kansas law school graduate like myself, although she’s a couple years behind me.

But she’s a great person, great attorney, great business person, and she is in the business law context, so I thought, it’s two really good things: one, kind of a success story for someone that’s opened their own firm; and two, it’s an example of someone opening a law firm that doesn’t do criminal defense like I do.

That will hopefully be coming out on next week’s podcast (it did, and you can hear it here), so definitely stay tuned, and if you haven’t already gone to iTunes, go and search “law firm marketing mastery podcast” and subscribe, so you don’t miss it.

Feature Segment: Failure

Okay, on to the feature segment. Today we are going to talk about failure.

Failure is something that happens all the time, but we don’t necessarily talk about all the time. You know, the news, and the movies, and even these podcasts are just filled with success stories. They are filled with stories of people who have made it, who have achieved their goals, and are doing everything that they want to do.

But what you don’t often hear about are the steps and the missteps that happened along the way, along the way of them reaching their goals.

So I wanted to talk a little bit about that today. And I don’t know if you’ve ever watched Good Will Hunting, but I feel like I’m kind of like Robin Williams’ character when he’s talking to Matt Damon, and at the end of the movie he says: “It’s not your fault, it’s not your fault!” and Matt Damon gets all chocked up.

I feel like I’m kind of like that right now because I wanted to just really kind of say it over and over again. And failure happens to everyone, and just because you don’t achieve a goal that you set up to achieve, or you don’t get that client that you wanted to get, it’s not the end of the world.

It’s not your fault. The sun will rise tomorrow, and you will move on to bigger and better things in most cases.

So, let’s talk a little bit about that, right? For me, talking about failure, I failed all the time, I’ve failed probably almost every day. And that’s because I’m pushing the envelope for myself.

I am trying new things. I am testing the waters. And I don’t mind failure, because for me it’s an opportunity to see if something’s going to work. What I really hate is treading water. Not knowing if it’s going to work or not work and just waiting, waiting, waiting.

So, for me, I see failure as an opportunity to learn, to tweak, to move on, and to try the next thing. And I guess while we are talking about failure it’s important to define what failure is.

For me I guess failure is really anytime you set out to do something, or you think something is going to work one way, and it doesn’t, right? And when so many things count as a failure, I think it also helps to kind of reduce the pain that’s associated with it. Obviously if you – I don’t even know, I’m trying to think of some scenario where failure is devastating – but for me it’s always an opportunity to just move forward and learn, and do more.

Maybe if your longtime girlfriend dumps you or something. Or if you ask her to marry you and she says no, that would suck. She probably said no because it wasn’t the right fit, you know? So learn and move on, right?

You’re going to have some failure. You’re going to have some hard failures like that too. You’re going to have some things that sting a little bit. Everyone does. That’s life.

What makes you and I different from most people is that we don’t languish on that failure. We take stock of what happened, we learn from those mistakes, whatever mistakes we made, and we get back on the horse, and do it better. And that’s what we do.

Now that we’ve talked about failure a little bit, let’s talk about some of my failures. I will take one for the team here and tell you about some of the times that things haven’t worked out for me.

And there are several, and I’ve got a list of a couple here. So let’s just dive into this, right?

One of the really epic fails for me was when I first moved out to Seattle. I started an eminent domain consulting business. You don’t necessarily need to be a lawyer to do a lot of the things that go into eminent domain consulting. It’s really about valuing property and understanding how the loss of certain parts of a property can really affect its value.

I had experience in that and on the legal side of it, so I, when I first got here, I thought “I’m waiting around to pass the ar exam, I’ll start an eminent domain consulting business.”

And so I did. And what I did was, I used some resources to get some information about people who might be affected by eminent domain, actions by different governmental entities around and then I sent out some letters.

And I said: “You know, look, I’ve heard that maybe you’re going to be affected by an eminent domain action or there’s a highway project or something going on by your land, and if you want to talk, let me know. I’ve got some free information that I can give you and it’s important that you talk to somebody because the way that property is valued in an eminent domain action is not like, it’s not the same way that is valued kind of out in general. There are some different appraisal techniques that one can use that can greatly diminish or increase the value of one’s property.”

So I was like: “Hey, call me if you want to talk and then if I can help you out, I’ll help you out!”

What happened though, was the list I got was both a new and an old list, and some of the people that were on the list weren’t actually going to be affected by an eminent domain action. So, as you might expect, when they got this mailer, they were pretty freaked out, and so that freaked me out because obviously my goal was not to scare anyone or do anything like that.

I was honestly out there to help, and so I saw that as an epic fail. And yeah, that was pretty bad for me. It was, I learned a lot of lessons though from that.

And again, that’s what you can do, right? I picked up the pieces, moved on, I sent out a bunch of apology letters to the people that I’d sent out those letters to that shouldn’t have received them. Even though it wasn’t my fault, I still apologized for any kind of heart ache, any loss of sleep that I caused them.

So that was pretty big failure. But it was, you know, I did, like I said, I learned some really good lessons about direct mail, and I learned some lessons about dealing with potential clients that I still use those today. So that was number one.

Number two failure was an adwords campaign that I did when I first started out the law firm.

I paid, I probably paid about 10 grand in adwords fees and I think maybe I got about thirty-five hundred back in clients, so that was an epic failure too, moneywise.

And the other thing was, the thing that really sucked about the adwords, is that I didn’t really learn anything about the process. I hired an outside business to do it and I didn’t have the time to learn it upfront, and I never tried to have them explain to me what was going on. I just, like a lot of us do, particularly when it comes to this kind of marketing, I just paid someone and sat back and waited and when I didn’t get the results, I just turned it off.

The lessons I learned from that obviously are, don’t just give you money away blindly, first of all.

Second of all, take some time to learn at least the basic background information on any kind of techniques or marketing ideas that you’re going to use, so you know what questions to ask, you know if it’s going to work for your industry, for your specific practice area.

The lesson that I did not learn though, was that I should have held onto my money. So many people are burned in those kind of circumstances into thinking, “ well, if I wouldn’t have spent that ten thousand dollars I’d still have that in my pocket.”

They see that that’s the lesson to be learned: to hold on to your money, don’t spend it. Well, that’s not the lesson to be learned.

If you’re going to be building your business. If you’re going to be working on getting more clients, you’re going to have to spend some money. That’s marketing, right? That’s getting your message out to people that need to hear it.

So don’t take that lesson away from my failure. Take those other lessons away. Let’s see.

Here’s a failure that just happened last week. I mentioned my first Law Firm Marketing Mastery interview, and the interview was a huge success, or so I thought.

We talked actually for about an hour. We used Skype, and then I used this program called Pamela, that allows you to record Skype phone calls. And we did it over video to, so there is a video audio recording for Skype.

We get all the way through the interview, and I think it’s awesome. I pull it up on Pamela, and it looks great. I send it out to my guy to edit it, and what I was going to do was pull the audio out so I have a video, I have an audio for the podcast that I’ll make a transcript of it. Well he sends me an email back, and he says, you know, at about 30 minute mark or so the audio goes out, and it doesn’t come back.

Oh crap, right? Interview ruined, in a way. Because now you are going to miss out on a half an hour of what really was fantastic, great content.

You know what I learned from that? I’m going to have keep working on this freaking Skype recording so that it’s right the next time I do an interview.

And I also learned that you’ve got to just push out what you’ve got, so even though it’s only half of interview, I’m still going to give it to you guys I still think the content that goes out to that point is fantastic.

So I’m still going to give it out, like I said, It’s a lesson learned, I’m going to maybe get somebody that’s a little more techy to come in and make sure that everything it’s set up correctly, and well, just move on, right?

Another one that we all see as a potential failure is when potential clients call, you get somebody you think it’s going to sign up, and then they don’t sign up, right?

There are a couple of different lessons you need to learn from that each time: a) you need to make sure your pitch is right; you need to make sure that you are speaking about things that the client wants and needs from your service, and not about the features that you provide.

For example, DUI defense. We look at the videos, and we write motions and things like that. Those are features of the benefits that we provide, which are, we allow people to hold on to their livelihood; we allow them to keep their reputation; we allow them to keep money in their pockets; we allow them to keep their criminal record clean.

And those are the things that people want to know about. And those are the things that you need to make sure you emphasize in your potential client meetings – the benefits to the client, not the features.

People, let me put it this way, when your faucet breaks, and you hire a plumber, when the guy comes in, he says, “ok, look, I can make this stop leaking, and I can fix this.” Then you can go on with your life. You can do your dishes, you can use the sink or whatever.

You don’t ask him to run down exactly what he’s going to do to fix the faucet. He may tell you oh, your pipe is broken, or you’ve got a seal that’s broken, but he doesn’t go step-by-step I’m going to do this, I’m going to do that, because nobody cares about that. And your clients don’t really care about that either. And if they do, they’ll ask you specifically about that, and then you can give them that information.

So, look at your potential client meetings that don’t work out as opportunities to get better the next time, to refine your pitch.

And the other realization that we all need to make is that we’re not the right fit for everyone. Whether it is price or philosophy or style, some people just aren’t going to feel comfortable with you, and that’s okay.

So that’s a failure that I live with on a daily basis. When people that call don’t sign up with us all the time.

Sometimes I don’t want them to sign up with us. Sometimes they don’t want to sign up with us, so it’s just something you’ve got to learn to live with.

The final fail for me was – I mentioned the new Law Firm Marketing Mastery website design – if you go there you’ll see there are two opt-in email boxes to get more information. There is the newsletter sign up, that’s been there for a long time, and there is a new sign up there that is for information about the book I’m writing, the starting a law firm book I’m writing.

When I created the design and created the opt-in box and set that whole thing up, I hadn’t yet completed all of the emails that go out. When you sign up I sent an email that says: “Thanks for signing up! Congratulations, you’re going to get all this great information!”

But I haven’t, I didn’t get that entire email line set up for the law firm opt-in box. So I’ve had several people sign up, and what I think they get when they sign up is an email that says: “Thanks for signing up, I haven’t put anything in this email yet, this is motivation for me to do it, so I don’t look like an idiot.”

Except I already look like an idiot, so that’s on top of the list to fix today. If you want to see what it looks like… oh, it’s too late, because by the time this comes out, it will be fixed.

But that’s something that I’ve done too. And for me I just am willing to accept that because that’s part of me shipping this stuff, you know? Getting it out there, getting started, getting going, is just something that I’ve had to do and that I accept that everything is not going to be perfect and all I can do is fix it as fast as I can.

I obviously will send an email out to all of those people that got the broken email and apologize, and you know, we’ll all move and it’s not that big a deal, but it’s just definitely something that’s a little embarrassing for me, and something that I’m going to fix immediately.

So that’s just a quick rundown I made a list of fails in about five minutes, and I know that if I sat here for longer I could come up with more. I think that we all could.

We all fail, so again, use failure as an opportunity to get better, as an opportunity to just experience life, learn a lesson and move on. It’s when you let it get you down, when you let it overwhelm you, and you know, finally, when you use it as an excuse to not move forward that you make the decision that follows you around for a long time.

If you want to let something get you down and keep you down, then it will. If you don’t let it do that, then it won’t.

Bottom line, even when you start your practice, probably you’re going to have people tell you you’re not going to make it, or if you fail you’re going to look like an idiot. People are going to laugh at you, and that’s, maybe that is true.

I doubt it’s true. I think if you’re going to start your law firm and fail, I think people will say: “Man you’ve got tons of guts for going and trying to do that. What are you going to do next?”

I think that’s probably how that conversation goes. And the people that laugh at you, those are the people that you don’t want around you anyway. Who wants someone around that is going to ridicule someone for trying to do something special? I wouldn’t want that person around.

Okay, so that is it for the feature segment. Oh I do want to, I would love to hear and I think everyone would like to hear kind of some of your stories out there, how have you failed and how have you bounced back from it?

What are the lessons that you’ve learned?

If you want to leave a comment on the blog, lawfirmmarketingmastery.com, that would be fantastic, if you want to go to Facebook, facebook.com/lawfirmmarketingmastery or Twitter, twitter.com/csmall and let us know about some time that you failed, that would be awesome.

And also you know I mentioned that contest in the last podcast, one easy way to kind of get involved in the contest would be to write a blog post on your own blog about failure and what that means to you and some times that you failed and some times that you’ve bounced back, and then, you know, just link it back to this podcast and let people know that this was the podcast that got you thinking about it.

That will get you one entry into the contest, which, if you haven’t heard about the contest, go listen to the last podcast, there is an opportunity to win some great prizes and it’s free, so go check that out.

But one of the things that I hope happens here over time is that we kind of become close in a community, that we trust each other enough to share our experiences and our thoughts and our advice with each other, and the only way that starts is if we all start opening up and sharing.

So, again, go to lawfirmmarketingmastery.com or go to Facebook and on the Facebook group leave a comment or leave a story, I’d love to hear from you.

Tip of the Week

Okay, so, action of the week. I did get another five star review on iTunes which I really appreciate. That person did not leave a comment, but I will take just a regular reviews.

If you like what you’re hearing right now and you think other people would like to hear it go to iTunes and review the podcast. It will take you thirty seconds to leave me a review, and I’d really appreciate it, because I like to hear feedback anyway.

If there is something that you really like, or something that you think you want to hear, something that you want me to do differently, let me know, because, that’s why I’m here, right?

I’m here to talk about my experience, but I also want that to be in the context of helping you, the listener, make more money with your law firm, or get out and start a law firm, and make money right away.

So yeah, go to iTunes and leave me a review, please.

Let’s see, second, I want to remind you to go sign up for the newsletter. I’m going to, because of the New Year and because of compiling my statistics from the whole year, my monthly newsletter for this month is going to go out just a little bit later.

By the time this podcast airs I know it won’t be out. I think I’m going to send it out on Thursday the 9th of January, so go to the website and sign up for the newsletter if you want to get my monthly tips and tricks, my monthly revenue and expense figures, and for this month specifically my 2012 yearly revenue figures.

I’m going to break those down on there and it’s something that people are usually pretty interested in. So go there and sign up for that. With that sign up you also get an invite to my monthly webinar, live webinar. This month we’re going to talk about search engine optimization, kind of breakdown of the basics and how it applies to your law firm and your website.

This is one of those things where if you’re going to give your money to someone to help you with SEO you need to know this basic information, you have a little bit of information about the background of SEO, what is working now, because things have drastically changed from what happened in the past, so that you can ask the right questions to the person that is going to help you, so that you can get the results that you want from the person that is helping you.

Again, go sign up for the newsletter, it’s on the website at lawfirmmarketingmastery.com, and that’d be great.

Okay, last but not least, the tip of the week. And this goes back to my goals, one of which is to read a book a week, this week I read a book called Built to Sell by John Warrillow.

It was a book that was referred to me many, many times on Pete Williams and Dom Goucher’s Preneurcast podcast. It is a podcast that is just all about business. It’s not law related or anything like that, but they recommended that book, and if you’re starting out, or even if you’re not starting out, it’s a fantastic book. It’s a lot like E-Myth Mastery, except the example used throughout the book is of a graphic designer, and not a baker, which is what E-Myth Mastery is.

And that’s great, because graphic designer is a service based business, a lot like what we do, and if you really truly want to be a business owner, if you really truly want to build a business, this is the kind of book that you need to read.

It’s an easy read. You can read it in a couple of days, no problem, but what it really talks about are the roles that you must play in your business for it to be as successful as you want, and that role is basically CEO, which means you need to find roles for others, and when you put people in those roles, let them do their thing, and then kind of manage overall.

Anyway, you’ve got to read the book. It’s really good. All the lessons are said in the context of a story of a graphic designer, like I said, and I guarantee you will learn some very valuable lessons from that book. Just whenever you read “graphic designer,” replace that with “lawyer,” and you’ve got a great book on how to build your business the right way.

So there will be a link in the show notes for that too if you want to go to the website and check that out. Otherwise Built to Sell, I didn’t write down the author, but if you Google it or go to amazon or whatever and look it up, you will find it pretty easily. Okay?

Thanks for listening. That’s all for this week. If you liked the show, please subscribe on iTunes, please leave us a review. If you have questions or comments, please go to lawfirmmarketingmastery.com and leave them. I look at them every day, and would love to respond.

If you want to contact me personally, you can email me too at chris@lawfirmmarketingmastery.com. I would love to hear your emails and again, I answer those personally, so feel free to drop me a line, and let me know what’s going on with you.

Finally, I would love to hear from you on Facebook, and twitter, I already left you those addresses facebook.com/lawfirmmarketingmastery and twitter.com/csmall. So, drop me a line and say hello. I would love to hear from you, I would love to get to know you and love to continue to help you create and built successful law firm. So, until next time, I will talk to you soon.