About Our Guest
Jess BirkenI am the owner of Birken Law Office, I help nonprofits solve problems so they can quit worrying and get back to what matters most – The Work. I’m not like most attorneys, I actually have an outgoing personality, and... Learn More
In this episode of our bi-weekly interview series, Mark Homer sits down with Jess Birken to talk about how she found her niche in the crowded legal landscape and now uses that niche to inform her marketing efforts.
Knowing where you fit in allows you to focus on the work you LOVE to do and helps you find the clients you LOVE to work with. Jess has figured this out, and you can too.
– Thanks for joining us. This is our extended interview with Jess Birkin. The first part of this video is from our GNGF LIVE, which happens every other Wednesday over on our Facebook page. The second part here in this bonus, extended interview, we dive into marketing on a budget as a solo. If you already saw the live, I’ll put the timestamp to the exclusive extended interview below. Be sure to like and subscribe to follow along with all of our great conversations on legal marketing and the business side of running a law firm. And to watch this video on the platform of your choice, you can find everywhere we stream over at GNGF.TV. Welcome to GNGF LIVE, your biweekly ask the experts about all things, all for marketing and business growth. I’m Mark Homer, author of “Online Law Practice Strategies”, and founder of Get Noticed, Get Found. On this show we focus on the business side of growing and running your law firm. So I’m excited to have today’s guest, Jessica Birkin. I love businesses that focus on a niche, and Jessica’s law firm does just that. Jess runs a for-profit, solo law firm that focuses on helping nonprofits. And she successfully leverages technology and SMART marketing to grow her firm. As always, be sure to like and subscribe to our page and not just the video, so you can get updated when our next episode goes live. Of course, it never hurts for you to show just a little love and hit that like button on the video, too. It really helps us with the Facebook and YouTube algorithms. We’ve got moderators in the chat, so please ask questions and interact during this premiere. And if you’re watching this in the future, after we premiere, we do monitor the comments, and we’ll reach out to our guests, and answer any follow-up questions you have. That’s because we love you all, and we love getting to meet you online and in person. So you can find a list of our upcoming webinars and events where we’ll be speaking, on our website at GNGF.com/events. And on weeks when we’re not premiering an interview, we try to drop a video as part of our GNG tip series. These are in-depth videos focusing on one topic at a time, check it out on our YouTube page or by heading over to GNGF.TV. You can watch our latest video, well, after this interview of course, at that link in the chat. Check them out, and like I said, we drop a new GNGF tips video every other Friday. Okay, let’s get to the interview. Jess, thanks for joining me today.
– Hey Mark, thanks for having me.
– Awesome, so last time I saw you, we were, I think, at the ABA TECHSHOW in Chicago, and I don’t know about you
– but that’s the last time I really saw anybody in the legal industry.
– It was the IRL memory. Yeah, it just came up on Twitter the other day and we were all like, ah, that’s the last time we were together. Yeah. That was good time.
– Well last time I saw you, I think you had like a boot or a cast on, or something like that and were on your little pushcart.
– Yep, I was on my knee roller.
– So you had a quarantine recover, I guess. So.
– I did, it’s a really good time to tear a tendon in your foot, is when there’s a global pandemic, and you can’t go anywhere, because actually that was the second time I had been put back in that CAM boot, and it’s because I move around too much, you know, like I’m always going, like going and meeting people, and going to lunch, and going here, and going there. And yeah, the pandemic was really good for my torn tendon, ’cause I actually had to stay off my foot. So yeah, it’s better now, mostly.
– Mostly, you still didn’t stay off it all the way?
– Well, it’s just those things are so slow healing, I feel like once you cross 40, they say the warranty is up or whatever, right?
– I feel that. So, alright, let me ask for a question you a few questions. So I mentioned this in the introduction, but you guys focus solely on nonprofits.
– So how did that come back? ‘Cause I love when, you know, people like really have a really specialty niche.
– Or niche, however you wanna say that.
– So, I like to say my niche came about because of the 2008 recession. So I actually graduated from law school back in 2007 and I was clerking for a judge when the bottom dropped out of the economy, and there were just no jobs, right? So, I mean, I was looking and looking, and looking, I had the AA game resume, and I also really didn’t wanna be a trial attorney anymore. That’s what I thought I wanted to do, but then it turned out I really hate that work. So because there were no jobs and the economy was so bad, I thought I would never be a lawyer. So I actually went back to school and got a Master’s in nonprofit management, which is kind of like an MBA for nonprofit, and ended up getting a job that was a very great blend of lawyer skills and the Master’s level work, and worked in-house for like four or five years, and then I.
– So at a nonprofit?
– Yeah, at a nonprofit.
– And I was really part of the accounting team, I worked on government grants, and foundation grants, and a lot of compliance stuff.
– And then I ended up leaving for private practice, joined up with another woman who was doing non-profit law, and so I was in a two-person partnership for a few years, and we just had different priorities, that didn’t work out, and I ended up hanging my own shingle. And so here I am, I went from, I’ll never be a lawyer, to I have my own practice, and we’ll be celebrating five years on my own this coming March.
– Five years, and five years, again, just focusing on nonprofits and helping nonprofits.
– Yeah, that’s all I do.
– That’s awesome. So, you know, and I could probably dive into just that area, ’cause I think it’s fascinating, and so if we have time later, maybe I’ll ask more questions there, but I want us to talk specifically about kind of things that you’ve done to help like the business side of your law firm, and you know, from your speaking and definitely, you know, like on Twitter, following you on Twitter. I know we are Twitter friends there, but you’re a big proponent of incorporating technology
– Oh yeah.
– into your practice and stuff, right? So how has technology actually helped you?
– I mean, I basically couldn’t do my work without technology, and I don’t just mean like Microsoft Office, right? Like we’re all using the computer. Well, most of us are, I think I’ve heard of a few lawyers who have their secretaries like print out every email, and they dictate a response or something, but most of us are in the normal technology use camp, but I’m definitely what you would call an aggressive user. So I have a lot of systems that are automated and I’m still solo, I have one full-time assistant who works with me, she’s not a lawyer. But we basically get the capacity of probably three or four people’s worth of work done, because I rely so much on my systems that are, you know, I like to say it’s my Frankenstein business model. ‘Cause I sort of patched together all of these technological solutions. But I do a lot of like email automation. So, you know, instead of paying my assistant to chase down clients for their documents, right? We’re all familiar with that to some degree. I have ActiveCampaign that, you know, I put people into a automation where it reminds them like, hey, you have one week to give us your documents. Oh hey, you have three days left. Oh hey, do you need more time? If so, write back and tell us what’s a reasonable timeline. All of that stuff used to be done by hand, typing it all out every single time, right? And now it’s done in a friendly way, right? It’s not like robotic, send us your homework, this is your email reminder, like still sounds like personable, and all of that, but it’s automatic. And then I use online scheduling, I use Airtable for a lot of data crunching, KPIs, workflow tracking, CRM. I just threw out a bunch of jargon that people are like, what?
– So you’re using Airtable to like, get online forums and stuff or something? To grab the attention
– or are you using it on the back lines too?
– Not so much for forms, I still use JotForm, which is great tool,
– that you can get a free account and have five forms for no cost. So if you’re just dabbling in online form creation, it’s a really nice one to play with, but we’re getting into that with Airtable, ’cause it’s always nice to like reduce the number of software tools you have to use. But I’m using it really,
– so if you think Airtable is kind of like a Excel sheet in the sky, right? Like a cloud-based Excel database on steroids, it can do formulas and it can do all sorts of stuff, and it can also display your information and a Kanban board. So we’re using it for like project management.
– So case comes in, you know, first it goes to me for first draft, then it goes for review, then it goes to the client to take a look at it, then it go, so we have all these stages of workflow that are all charted out, and then we also use it for our sales pipeline. So, you know, this person just contacted us for the first time, okay, here’s what we do at that stage. This person is high.
– So you’re using Airtable as your CRM as well?
– Yes, fully.
– Yep, absolutely. It’s really slick, and it’s, you know, I’ve used a lot of things, like I’ve used a lot of projects, I’m definitely a person who is not afraid to spend six months using something, and then go, eh, next. Which can be annoying to your team, but Airtable is where I’ve settled and it’s really, really functionally cool. Does a lot of stuff.
– And by doing all of that, you’re essentially getting, you know, like more productivity out of you and your assistant. You said to the point of like multiple people, like if it was all of them in there.
– Oh for sure, even just like managing all the marketing content, and like we have a podcast, we’re about to have two podcasts, you know, I put out videos and I have two monthly email lists that go out and I mean, there’s a lot of content creation that happens, and you have to manage the workflow and the pipeline of all that, right? ‘Cause everybody who’s ever tried to start a blog or something like that, knows you have all this activation energy in the beginning, but where the rubber meets the road is like consistently putting out the articles or the episodes,
– or whatever it is. And so you have to manage that process, so we use it for that too.
– Awesome. Yeah and I’ve also heard you speak about not just the benefits for your firm and your productivity, but you truly think that introducing the technology has given you happier more satisfied clients.
– Oh, for sure. I mean, well, first and foremost, I am happier, which is key, right? ‘Cause your clients will be happy if you are happy, and if your team is happy. That’s step number one, right? So using technology allows me to manage my time better, to feel less overwhelmed and less stressed, which means I can focus on, you know, really providing high quality service, and not missing deadlines, and doing things that make clients angry. And then specifically like, you know, through building those systems you’re able to really treat clients like they’re important and not just, oh, well now you’re complaining about this thing. So since it’s in my inbox, maybe I’ll respond to it. It’s like, how can I pre, you know, kind of like anticipate what your need is gonna be? How can I anticipate what your question is gonna be? Oh, every time I do nonprofit bylaws, everybody has this question about the treasurer role. Well, let me just go ahead and like put that in my online form where it’s automatically sent to them, hey, here’s your homework. Instead of wasting time scheduling a meeting with me, you can complete this on your own. And then I’m gonna use my, like I know people always ask these questions, to bake into my form, hey, here’s a helpful little video or a helpful little audio clip of me explaining what this means. When you have to tell me, you know, about who’s gonna be your treasurer? Or what’s a fiduciary duty? Or, you know, whatever non-profit stuff that people wanna know about. I pre anticipate, that’s not even a word, pre anticipate, that’s redundant. I anticipate what they’re gonna need, and I serve it up to them. So the experience for them is more satisfactory, there’s less friction, and then of course like at the bottom of a forum, there’s always an opportunity to say, how was your experience today? So they can rate their experience throughout the process, and I find that that, allowing people to tell me if there’s a problem along the way, really cuts down on people telling me there is some big problem at the end, right. ‘Cause it’s all about getting the happy client to give you the five star review too. So yeah, I think that the technology really does create happier clients, absolutely.
– Yeah, well, you know Erin Gerstenzang?
– Oh yeah.
– So Erin was on here once and she said something very similar. She was like, I went into technology and all these tools, and connecting everything, for the sole reason of helping me. She’s like,
– Oh yeah.
– I just wanted my time back, you know, and like I was going crazy.
– And she goes, and then suddenly, like my clients were like oh, I love the fact that I can get this without having to ask you or email you, or the fact that there’s a portal or whatever it was, you know, she’s like, oh.
– Yeah, empathy’s great, but like, let’s be real, okay? Like I want my clients to stop calling me all the time and emailing me all the time, ’cause it’s all about me, yeah
– Yeah, and she’s like, I got this big benefit, but then it turned out that my clients were way happier. She was like, why didn’t I do this a long time ago?
– Right, ’cause what makes you happy also makes other people happy, right? It’s like,
– Hey, I would like to have a call time where I know you’re gonna answer. So I just use Acuity Scheduling to schedule calls with people.
– Then it’s convenient for them, they chose a time that works in their schedule, and they know that I’m expecting their call, and I’m gonna be there at that designated time. ‘Cause what, like unreturned calls is one of the top ethics complaints against lawyers, right? Unhappy clients. You don’t like it when people don’t answer your call or ignore you. So, I use tech to facilitate that.
– And I think it’s kind of a misnomer for a lot of, you know, law firm owners out there that, oh, if I introduce technology, I’m reducing the client satisfaction. Because like now, like you mentioned, they think I’m like a robot or I’m trying to, you know, like introduce something that gets in the way of them talking to me. It’s like, well, to be honest, believe it or not, a lot of clients really don’t wanna talk to their lawyer, they just wanna get the next thing done, right?
– And it’s like, if I can do that, just like, I don’t always wanna like go to a restaurant, I just wanna hit a button and have it delivered to my door, you know?
– And it’s all in the delivery, right? Do you deliver it with empathy? Do you care about what the words say, right? Like when I was like, this is a robot, your homework is due. Nope, nobody likes that email, right? If you’ve ever gotten a scheduling link from somebody, there’s a big difference between getting a scheduling link from somebody that’s like, here’s my scheduling link, get on my calendar.
– And that’s what the email says, versus, hey, if it’s easy for you, here’s a link to this online schedule I have. You can pick any date or time that works best in your schedule. If you have any trouble, let me know, we can always do it the old fashioned way. That’s a totally different message.
– So the technology isn’t the only thing, it’s like what are you couching it in? Are you being like a jerk when you’re using it? Or are you having some empathy for people and framing it as this is here to serve you and make your life better?
– Yeah, and you mentioned like you’ve record video or audio sometimes, and whether you do that once for many or individually, that’s still a way to like, you’re providing a connection, right? There’s a human connection there. They just don’t have to get on the phone, which may be inconvenient for them, right? Like you send it, like they can look at it at nine o’clock at night, ’cause if they’re running a nonprofit, I’m sure they’re like bouncing around everywhere.
– You got it. They’re volunteers, they’re working on it at 10 AM on a Saturday morning. Guess what? I am not taking their calls and emails at 10 AM on a Saturday morning. Just like if you’re going through a divorce, you might be worrying about something at 2 AM. Well, you shouldn’t be answering client texts at 2 AM, you know, like we have to have boundaries so
– that we can be okay and keep doing our work, ’cause it’s a lot of emotional labor being a lawyer.
– So kind of like segues into another question I had, ’cause I know you, like kind of big proponent of like unconventional billing, and you’re not a billable hour type of firm, right? And you know, with this technology and not having like, oh, well instead of like getting on the phone with them, I sent them this form and stuff like that. And people are like, well, how do you bill for that? Right? But like you priced totally different, so that all these efficiencies actually are better for your firm, not going against like, oh, I have to bill for that 15 minutes or something.
– Oh absolutely, 100%. I mean, so my whole business model flipped, and I started offering subscriptions and flat fee service. And that’s all I do, I don’t do the billable hour. And you know, I mean I could talk for hour and a half just about that, so I’ll try and keep it short. But basically when I started doing that I had this retainer agreement that was like a choose your own adventure engagement letter. It was like, here are the how it works to do subscription, and this is what it looks like. And over here, this is what traditional hourly, this is how it works, this is what it looks like. And then at the end they tick the box. Which one do you want? Do you want hourly or subscription with flat fees? And I ran basically myself two ways for about a year, and exactly zero new clients ever chose hourly billing once I started offering a different model. And so after the first year, I just was like, well, I hate time tickets anyway now. So let’s just get rid of that. And now my engagement letter looks like, this is the amazing way that we do it over here, this is what other lawyers do, and isn’t it terrible over here. So it’s a great sales tool and lots of people are happy with it, but you’re right, like using technology to create efficiencies is so key to doing any sort of alternative billing. Because if you’re, you know, we’ve all had the flat fee project from hell where the scope was bad, we set the price too low, it went in some weird direction that we didn’t anticipate, and so you have to solve for those things. And I think that’s one of the things that keeps lawyers sort of stuck and not trying it, because they’re not thinking about it from a systems level. They’re like, oh, I tried that once and it didn’t work, it had really bad result. I mean, believe me, like I have had really bad results with my flat fees as well, but it’s a learning opportunity, right?
– It’s like, oh, okay, so next time I do this, I have to tighten the scope in this area. Oh, it’s one review meeting, that’s it, not we review it forever, and ever, and ever until your board is happy, with every semi-colon. It’s a one hour meeting. Okay, got it. And you just have to iterate and like keep going with it, and when you create the system, the technology is your friend, you know? And I think that hourly billing lawyers can still make technology their friend, scheduled calls doesn’t hurt anybody and it protects your time,
– so you can bill more hours, right? But certainly it’s an advantage if you’re trying to do something not traditional.
– Right I mean the fact that you have a niche, you’ve brought in technology, you’ve thought through like systems and processes, it lends itself really well to being able to do the kind of like, you know, subscription models and flat fee things. So I liked that point, if people who just kind of just go from like, oh, I’m gonna try a different billing methodology, but then don’t change all the underlying things behind it that allows you to
– Oh, it doesn’t work.
– have the success, right? I mean, you know, document automation, some of the things you talked about, all of these things that you can do to give you a whole bunch of like time back, you could charge a little less, but you know exactly how long it takes you. So you can figure out your subscription models much better if you understand that. But if you’re kind of like flying by the seat of your pants and hitting, you know, time tracking on an application, don’t worry about it, you’re never gonna get there.
– Right. I would say, if you’re thinking about how can I start to leverage technology? And you’re totally an hourly billing firm, start with intake, right? Start with stuff you can’t bill,
– Streamline and automate that stuff, ’cause it’s a huge time suck. And if you can automate and systematize that piece, I mean that only helps you, right? It helps you in your sales funnel, it helps you get better clients, you know, it helps you start off on the right foot with people, and then go to online scheduling, because that’s a great way to protect your time so that you can bill more time. And one of the things I just wanna say is like people are always like, oh, Jess, you like have it all figured out, and it’s like, amazing, and then they’re overwhelmed. Like, oh, I could never do all that.
– Well, I didn’t like, you know, I wasn’t like beamed down into my law firm having all of this crap figured out, right? Like if you just start with one thing and that’s all you have to do, and then you’ll just have success and build on it. So that’s just my like words of encouragement. ‘Cause sometimes I mentioned like 30 apps that I use and people are like, what? No, it’s too much.
– Or the opposite, they like go download them all right then, and try to implement them.
– Yeah, which is unsustainable, you can’t.
– I love that, that is like as amazing advice. I mean, it goes for anything, right? Like just like start and like incrementally build on top of things. So, and I’m glad you said that
– because I think a lot of people do kind come on and be like, well like I do all this stuff, and why don’t you do it this way? So thank you for just like,
– you know, that total honesty of you started somewhere and you probably made mistakes along the way.
– Absolutely, and like, if I’m seen as some sort of like “expert”, it’s only ’cause I have like fallen on my face more times than the average person in trying all of the things. I mean, even now I’m still ironing out kinks or like making improvements. It’s not something where you just have this amazing, like out of the box, perfection type A overachiever success moment, right? It’s the long slog of like figuring out how to read the cases, what does precedent mean? Okay, what are these torts concepts? You’re back in law school all over again. But I enjoy that like learning curve experience, so even though it’s hard, it’s worth doing, right? And it’s worth making the improvement.
– Yep, and I mean, it has led to many benefits for you, but it does take time.
– Oh big time.
– It takes time, so. So we talk about, you know, technology, your billing shift and stuff. The other thing I wanna talk about is, you are actually very proactive in thinking about marketing, and thinking about how you put yourself out there, and your law firm out there to attract clients, you know. So how has that proactivity marketing helped your law firm?
– I mean, it’s really, I can’t even explain to you the change that comes from actually doing marketing well. I mean, I like to think I’m doing it well, but like real marketing and not just like, I have a billboard with my name on it, or, you know, I put out a bunch of like pay-per-click ads that have no meaning. The actual content marketing and putting out content that positions you as a thought leader in your area of expertise. I mean, I can’t even explain, I get referrals from like weird places, where I’m just like, where did this come from? It’s like someone in a different state that I don’t even know, but because I put myself out there so much in the world as like nonprofit person, it’s incredible. And sometimes I’m like, I’m not that great of a lawyer, I don’t know why they’re coming to me, right? The imposter syndrome kicks in, but it’s phenomenal, you know, what you can really accomplish by just putting yourself out there, and caring about what you do, and being like your authentic self, right?
– That’s awesome. Actually, I wanna dive into, you know, like talking about like authenticity, and content marketing. In fact, I’d love to dive into you’re a solo law firm, and you’ve done a lot of marketing, and you figured out how to do it on a budget. So I wanna dive into that, but we are out of time for our Facebook portion here. If you’ll stick around, like we can keep going and I can throw it up on YouTube maybe on Friday.
– Sure, absolutely, let’s do it.
– Awesome. So before we wrap it up though, like where can people find out and connect with you online?
– Yeah, you can find me at my website for my law firm at birkinlaw.com, or if you’re on the Twitters, get at me @JessBirkin.
– Awesome. Well, thanks so much, Jess, and bear with me one second and I’ll be right back. Thanks for joining us today everyone, be sure to like and subscribe to our Facebook page, so you get notified when our next episode goes live. We have new interviews about the law firm marketing and the business side of running your firm here every other Wednesday. We’re gonna keep going here in the GNGF studio, so you wanna watch the full extended interview with Jess Birkin this Friday over on our YouTube channel. We’ll be diving into how Jessica successfully markets her solo law firm on a budget. We’ll see you then. Thanks for sticking with me, Jess.
– Yeah, sure, happy to.
– So we were talking about marketing there then, and I wanted to talk about how, you know, as a solo you have a limited budget, but you’ve been able to do a lot with that limited budget. I think, you know, you’re very good about being proactive on marketing, thinking about your marketing strategy, and going out and being successful in marketing, getting some success. But how have you done that with a limited budget?
– So when I was officing at my coworking space I had the great privilege to sit next to a marketing strategist named Leo, who’s become a great friend. But Leo taught me that I had to understand my why. Like, why do I get up in the morning? Like, what is it about this work that I’m passionate about? ‘Cause I could, I could go do whatever, right? So why this? And I’m definitely not in like the money making area, right? Like nonprofit law working with small nonprofits, it’s not like a get rich quick. So clearly money is not my key motivation. So what is my motivation? And then also really understanding like who do I like to work with? Like who are my best clients for me that make me the most satisfied, right? ‘Cause those are the people you wanna bring in. You don’t wanna a bunch of people that wear you out and make you sad that you do your job.
– So with his help, I sort of realized like, oh, what I love about my work is that I get to leverage my relatively boring skills to help these people over here make some real difference in the world. And my favorite kind of clients are clients that are making some sort of like concrete change. Like maybe they’re helping people with mental health get therapy dogs, right? It’s like a concrete, you know, when I worked at Pheasants Forever, it was, we’re buying this piece of property that has been farmed for 20 years and we’re restoring it to a native Prairie, and I can go put my boots on that ground and be like, I helped make this happen. Clean water is coming through this Prairie right now. So the concrete mission, and clients that are very like doers, right? So that for me, it was getting clear on what am I doing, and why am I doing it, and who do I like to work with? Because then everything flows
– from that around who am I talking to? What do I wanna say? What sort of like my core mission. And then he really taught me that like I actually do have things to say, ’cause he was trying to get me to like write articles or make stuff. And I was like, I don’t really have anything to say. I don’t know, nobody wants to hear what I have to say. You know, that whole thing, or all of the writing is like, well a statute 3178 subpart B says, you know, which nobody cares about, right? So I would sit next to him and rant about some nonprofit thing, like board chairs that do this drive me nuts because, and he would be like, that’s the thing,
– Write it.
– write that down, that’s what I’m talking about. And so he kind of drew it out of me over time that it’s like, oh, I do have things to say that aren’t just like the statue of this, you know? So I actually found my voice by kind of having it yanked out of me by Leo. And then it was really just like, okay, I have like no money because I work with nonprofits, and I’m a solo, and most marketing firms are like out of my price range. Right? ‘Cause it’s just a labor intensive process. So I can do some basic SEO and I can do content marketing, because content marketing,
– if you are regularly putting it out, and you’re putting it in the right places, and you’re tagging it, and all of the things, it’s actually pretty cheap to produce, but it does take your time, and you have to be a decent writer, and you can’t like sound like a lawyer when you’re doing it. So that’s been my strategy, and I would say after, you know, three, four years of consistently doing that, it’s really paying off now.
– I was just gonna ask like, so how long have you been writing these articles at some consistent level. And around when did you feel that you’re like, oh, I got a client because of some article I wrote a couple of years ago, or something, like when did that kind of happen?
– Yeah, I mean, gosh, hard to remember, like when that actually happened, but you know, you start to put stuff out and you start to, you know, maybe you publish things on LinkedIn, or your own website, or whatever, and you start to get comments like, oh yeah, you know, I was reading that article on your website about the myths of starting a nonprofit and blah, blah, blah. And, and it just starts to kind of trickle in and give you this feedback loop. That’s like, oh yeah, okay, right? And then I was like, hey, why don’t I put out a free downloadable ebook about starting nonprofits?
– And so then, you know, people would download that book, and then they would reach out and say, oh, I read your whole ebook, it was so great, blah, blah, blah. So, I mean, once you kind of start spinning that flywheel, you start getting the positive feedback, it’s like, when you have a newborn baby, you know, like your baby is not smiling at you for like the first five weeks, and they’re just crying, and needing changing, and feeding, and you’re exhausted. And you’re like, I am just putting all of this effort in and nothing is really back. And then they start smiling at you and you’re like, ah, okay, it’s still grueling. But like, hey, that little moment of like, this is coming back to me now, and that’s how content marketing is because there’s no magical switch that gets turned, right? It’s just like, you start to notice, oh, this person mentioned that in their intake meeting with me or whatever. And so it’s very like, it starts to propel itself, ’cause then you wanna make more stuff, ’cause you know it works.
– Right, and I wanted to ask that ’cause, you know, it’s similar to what you said before. It’s not like you were dropped in and suddenly you wrote a piece of content that was perfect, and then your phone started ringing, right? Like you kept just going at it and you know, taking more, you know, like consistency, I think you said, like just go in and writing something, and then writing something, and then writing something, and trying different places where it goes,
– Getting some of the feedback. Write more of that because somebody mentioned it. So, you know, like that doesn’t happen overnight either.
– Right, yeah, and like, it’s not all perfect, right? Like you, you look back at something you wrote two years ago, and you’re like, oh God, or like my podcast, we just crossed the one year mark, and I put it out twice a month, and my editor was like, what are you doing? You got like three formats here, I think you should split this into two different podcasts and probably scrap, you know, these episodes ’cause the audio was terrible or whatever. And it’s like, yeah, you know, and that’s okay. So you learn as you go.
– Right, yeah, and I mean, you started from writing a couple articles and then creating an ebook, and now you’ve got podcasts and, but it was that incremental improvement and trying new things. So on, you know, in addition to content marketing, I mean you’re also out on social media a lot. So I was always curious, ’cause I never really asked you this before. Like you’re heavy in like legal kind of like communities, like in legal industry, and helping and stuff, and that’s how I think we came across each other early on was just basically commenting
– on other people’s stuff and then making fun of each other occasionally. But like, do you also use your social media? ‘Cause you are very active on it, do you use it for marketing your firm as well?
– Yeah, so I would say yes, but I’m not, there’s no tiny billboards, like a lot of law firms that market themselves on Twitter are like literally posting like a tiny billboard. Like, do you need a criminal defense attorney right now? Call us at 612 defense. I’m not doing any of that, right? So I am using CoSchedule to schedule out tweets or Facebook posts that link to or promote articles, or podcast episodes, or like something where people can click through to a meaningful piece of content, or just like some sort of stay fresh evergreen comment about the non-profit sector or something like that. So it is, I would say, I’m using it to promote my practice, but not in the way that probably most lawyers think about advertising, right?
– Right, well, on social media is, and I think we’ve talked about this before on the show, but like I like the term social networking, was what it originally was, right?
– The term was social networking, and that’s really what, when it’s done well, I think people have most success with it, are just networking over these like, you know, like in a different platform. You know, it’s still a conversation.
– Like I’m really deep in nonprofit fundraising Twitter right now. Like somehow I’ve, through the nonprofit people I know, have gotten connected to a bunch of fundraising people, and there’s a whole like nonprofit fundraising Twitter community that I’m now sort of like adjacent to. And those are all possible referral people for me, right? So, and same with tax Twitter and CPA Twitter, because I get a lot of my, you know, networking stuff in the twin cities from meeting with CPAs. Well, why wouldn’t that be the case networking with them on Twitter too? So I’m really like engaging with those folks in like a friendly way, you know, just like doesn’t it drive you crazy when this happens? Or like, oh my gosh, I can’t believe the IRS did this or whatever.
– And you’re not just out there saying, hey, I wrote this article, take a look, hey, I wrote this article, take a look at it. If I look down on your post, it’s not just that, it’s, you know, responding to things, maybe throwing a funny GIF image here and there. I mean, it’s,
– I love my GIFs.
– I mean, it’s real, but I mean it’s really you, people I think know that. And so it’s that you’re just networking in different way, and by the way, probably slightly more efficient, ’cause you’re not having to like, you know, go somewhere and talk to that one guy that nobody wanted to talk to in the corner, and be like, oh no, I can engage online. And again, you’d be more efficient with your time, and effective.
– But you know, ’cause I see you really active in one community, but you you have all these other communities, and you’re treating it the same way. You’re not just like throwing the billboard up on a tweet.
– No that’s barftastic, don’t do that people. I will unfollow your account if you do that.
– So, you know, I think that kind of goes around with this idea of authenticity, which you alluded to earlier, you know, you are yourself online, which, knowing who you are, kind of going back to like what Leo said, you know, like knowing your why, knowing who you are, by being yourself, hopefully you’re attracting the right people, and repelling the wrong people, right? I mean, that’s okay. You’re probably okay with if the wrong type of client doesn’t like what I say, that’s perfect, you know?
– So, you know, I love your attorney profile on your website, right? I think that’s a really good example, I mean, you have a line in there about, you know, criminal law and toothpaste, but, and everybody should go check it out, so now I’m not gonna say it, ’cause, you know, you guys gotta go check it out. You know, do a little bit of work. How has being authentic though? Right? Like how has this authenticity helped you gain clients? Because you’re pretty authentic out there.
– Well, I am, and I mean, obviously there’s like a limit, you know, I have some kind of filter, but the general like stereotype of lawyer is, you know, blue suit or gray suit, and everything is very like flat affect like, well, I am telling you your legal advice, right? And that’s not how I am, that’s not real, right? Like, I am a real human, my kids have pet dwarf hamsters, and I have a house rabbit, and I like dance music. And you know, I don’t want to wear a suit to work, so I make sure that I post pictures and videos on my website of me wearing a sweatshirt talking to clients, because that’s what you should expect when you come meet me. Now, that’s not for everybody, but like be yourself because you don’t, you know, like, okay, when you see the judges port, like they do those booklets with the judges pictures in it, and the photo of the judges from like 40 years ago, and they still had hair or whatever, and then you go appear before them and you’re like, what? Oh my God. You don’t want your clients to have that reaction of you, right? Like, who are you? I want to know you, I wanna like you, I wanna hire people that I know, like, and trust. And so help me get to know like, and trust you. And don’t have a, like, photo that’s 25 years old, and you don’t even look like that anymore, and be yourself, right. So I want my clients to be like, yup, she’s for me, that’s who I wanna to work with. I like her, so.
– Yeah, that’s awesome. And I had to laugh ’cause early on we had a client who, you know, and this is, you know, when pretty much you did everything on phone, right? We weren’t zooming all the time, so he sent us all his headshots, and we put it on the website, this is great, whatever. And then, you know, like later on, he was like, hey, you know, I heard like, you know, this video, stuff’s great. You know, like, oh yeah, here’s how to do it. You know, answer his questions and stuff like that.
– I know where this is going.
– And then he’s like, oh my, my cousin, you know, works behind the scenes at a news station. So he got like these really nice professional videos done and sent it to to us, and we’re like, who is this guy? And it was totally that. I mean, he had like all this hair in his like headshots, and he was totally bald. Like, he literally looked like a different person,
– we’re like, all these people are going to your website seeing that,
– It’s not okay.
– ’cause we’re big big proponents of like, people wanna see the lawyer on your home page
– should not be a bunch of like stock photography, they wanna see who they’re gonna go talk to. Like, but they weren’t seeing who they were, like looking on the website, like, oh my gosh. So I’m like, please.
– Right, this is your first impression of your potential lawyer is Whoa. That’s not the place you wanna start, at all.
– Yeah, when you’re marketing people freak out, what are the clients doing, right?
– So yeah. That’s funny. So you know, I don’t wanna take any more time. You’ve already stuck with me, so, so long after our allotted 20 minutes, so appreciate it, and you know, we probably wasted some time talking about sci-fi, ’cause always love doing that.
– It’s all good.
– But I hope everybody watched all the way through ’cause this like you’ve had tips all the way through this video. I mean in marketing stuff and the authenticity at the end here, if they didn’t jump to this section then they missed out. So that’s good stuff.
– Right on.
– Thank you so much.
– Yeah, well everybody come at me on Twitter. Come find me, you can see how it’s done on the cheap.
– Awesome. Thanks so much Jess.
– Thank you Mark, it was great to be here.
– Hey, what’s up? I’m Josh. Thanks so much for joining us. If you feel like you learned something today, think of how beneficial it would be to chat with myself or another one of our marketing consultants, one-on-one. Go ahead and visit our website to schedule your free consultation. It only takes a minute.