Kicking off a brand new chapter for Lunch Hour Legal Marketing, host Gyi Tsakalakis is joined by brand new co-host Conrad Saam. They discuss Conrad’s career journey thus far and his reaching the absolute pinnacle of his career: being part of Lunch Hour Legal Marketing. They also share their vision for this show going forward, answer questions from listeners, and discuss the dos and don’ts of marketing during COVID-19. Stick around until the end to find out how you can get hold of your share of $340 million just for being you.
Special thanks to our sponsor Nexa.
Lunch Hour Legal Marketing
Gyi Tsakalakis: It’s a new chapter in Lunch Hour Legal Marketing today and I will just let him say something.
Conrad Saam: I am not sure it’s a better chapter.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Well, I didn’t say that.
Conrad Saam: It will be a different book. It’s like a new phase of the book and it’s going from Kelly to Conrad, which is going to go from — I mean Kelly is really friendly and happy and I have not heard anything but optimism coming from Kelly. This might be a dark turn in the Legal Lunch Hour.
Gyi Tsakalakis: This is the dark lunch.
Conrad Saam: This is the lunch that you are kind of not sure you should be listening to, but at the end of the lunch you are like wow, I am glad that we listened through that.
Gyi Tsakalakis: This is one of those lunch bags that’s like greasy at the bottom. It’s like leaking with something. You are not sure if you can eat it, but it turns out it’s cheeseburgers and it’s delicious.
Conrad Saam: And it’s delicious. And you are going to take it away, right? You are going to want another cheeseburger. That’s the goal here is that you come back and get another cheeseburger.
Gyi Tsakalakis: So exciting episode today. We are going to tell you how to get $340 million.
Conrad Saam: But only at the end. You have got to listen to the banter.
Gyi Tsakalakis: The darkness.
Conrad Saam: The darkness, at the very end we will give you $340 million, guaranteed, I promise.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Wow, that’s strong. That’s Conrad Saam at Mockingbird. Conrad, can you say the address of Mockingbird for people that want to write to you?
Conrad Saam: I am going to send out your cell phone number for everyone. It’s 734, I believe.
Gyi Tsakalakis: All right. Let’s dive into Lunch Hour Legal Marketing.
Intro: Welcome to Lunch Hour Legal Marketing with your hosts Gyi Tsakalakis and Kelly Street, teaching you how to promote, market, and make fat stacks for your legal practice, here on Legal Talk Network.
Gyi Tsakalakis: And I would like to take a second to thank Nexa, formerly known as Answer 1, a leading virtual receptionist and answering service provider for law firms. Learn more by giving them a call at 800-267-9371 or online at www.nexa.com.
So as we were bantering about, we have a new co-host at Lunch Hour Legal Marketing. I would like to formally welcome and introduce Conrad Saam. Conrad.
Conrad Saam: Thank you for having me Gyi. Now, as I introduce you when I introduce you, we should really hate each other. We should be vicious competitors, and I would say in some cases we are, but we are actually really good friends and have been for quite a long time.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Only in triathletes do we compete.
Conrad Saam: By the way, it’s triathlons, not triathletes, which means that I am the triathlete and you are not.
Gyi Tsakalakis: That’s correct. I made that abundantly clear accidentally. So Conrad, for those people who are not familiar with your infamous Avvo days, tell us a little bit about yourself.
Conrad Saam: You want to go straight to Avvo, okay, because we may have just lost some of the audience right there.
Gyi Tsakalakis: And they might have lost some traffic.
Conrad Saam: They have lost some traffic we think. So I got my start in the legal marketing world. I got pinged by this headhunter when I was working at some online marketing firm and they had this idea about lawyers and they wanted to know if I wanted to start with this startup, which at the time wasn’t really formally called Avvo, this was pre the actual name of the company.
And so I was fortunate to sit down with Paul Bloom and Mark Britton and talk through an interview about SEO, at the time; by the way, this goes back to 2006. Pretty much nobody knew what SEO was in the legal world. And so I sat down with my friend Mark Eamer, who at the time was running marketing for Zillow. He and I were B-school buddies back at the University of Michigan and Mark and I —
Gyi Tsakalakis: Go Blue.
Conrad Saam: Go Blue. We had a couple of beers together and Mark taught me everything I needed to know to ace my interview at Avvo. And the good thing for me was I got to do two things.
One, I learned SEOs from some really, really amazing people, because back in the day the SEO community was A, very small and; B, extremely tight-knit.
And then the other part that I got was I got to field all of the angry calls from lawyers who hated Avvo and the Avvo rating, specifically the Avvo rating and so we eventually ended up with a customer service team. But when there were lawyers who were really, really hot, I got them.
And the cool thing for me Gyi, this must be super sadistic in my personality, I loved it. I loved talking to lawyers when they were pissed off and it was really, really good training and exposure to the legal industry about how lawyers think, what’s important to them, how to deal with attorneys on a regular basis, and frankly, like this is super corny, but it’s how to deal with people. And it was really, really great on the field training in the legal industry, but especially how to interface with, talk to and ultimately build relationships within the legal industry.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Awesome. And then eventually you loved lawyers so much you founded your own business, Mockingbird.
Conrad Saam: Yeah.
Gyi Tsakalakis: And now you get to deal with lawyers every day.
Conrad Saam: Which I still, for the most part, love. Now, the 5% of you who are assholes, like we try and stay away from you right off the bat, but really lawyers make amazingly good clients. You have high expectations. You have high expectations of communications. Most of you are really smart in terms of marketing and you are aggressive and it’s a great fit for my personality and so it’s been really fun. And Gyi, we can’t forget Zippy the Chicken.
Gyi Tsakalakis: That’s really who should be co-hosting the show.
Conrad Saam: That is 100% who should be — one day we will do this with video and I will bring Zippy into my office and we can have Zippy the Chicken here.
Gyi Tsakalakis: We will do a Zippy episode.
Conrad Saam: We could do a Zippy episode. In fact, you know what, the guys who run — so let’s backup for our listeners, so they don’t think we are just absolutely bananas and we lose them.
Gyi Tsakalakis: They already know that.
Conrad Saam: In the first four minutes they are like, I am done here, they are talking about chickens. The reason I bring up Zippy the Chicken is, and I do this pretty much in all my introductions and in fact I have included it in the bio, in my book, there is a company called Lawyers of Distinction out of Florida, run by a lawyer who essentially will let you claim that you are a top 10% of all lawyers in the country.
The downside of course is that they actually don’t do anything. You just pay them $700 and you get the plaque and you actually pay them $700 a year for the plaque, so we will go into that at one point in time.
My point being, I had my chicken Zippy nominated for and receive the top 10% lawyer award and I did an exposé on that to talk about how awful A, this company is. But I use it as an example to talk about how lawyers are this horribly easy mark for legal marketing agencies and really a lot — and Gyi, you know this really well, a lot of my time has been spent on exposing some stuff that I really, really don’t like, and that’s really how I set up the agency Mockingbird. It’s like if I had my — if my brother was an attorney, how would I want him to be treated by his agency and that’s really the foundation of how we have set up the agency and why I do what I do.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Awesome. Well, aside from having a lawyer chicken, the reason that I was really excited to welcome Conrad as a co-host of this show is because, and I don’t say this lightly, Conrad is one of the very few digital legal marketing people that I would have my brother hire if he was in need of digital legal marketing services, really, really smart, really sharp. I think he is going to bring a whole new bend to the show, so really excited to have him.
But let’s take a step back and kind of talk about that for a second. What are we here to do? What is our objective in this new chapter for Lunch Hour Legal Marketing? What’s your big idea for the show? What are some of the things that listeners can expect from this new chapter?
Conrad Saam: So I think the real key here, and this may not resonate with everyone, but this needs to be tactical. I want people to leave this and I — the interesting thing is Gyi, you and I have sat through untold number of legal marketing presentations, and most of them are high level slough, let’s call it that, and what I found with my presentations when I do it in person, the best presos that I give are just an amalgamation of very, very highly tactical pieces that people can walk away with, and in many cases — I have a presentation called 30 Things for do it Yourselfers, right, and most of the time when people listen to that, they don’t come away with 30 things, they come away with four, right, but it’s four super tactical, relevant things that they can go home and execute on.
And what I am hoping we can do is leave our listeners at the end of the lunch with a short list of things that they can go back and do right now, or that they can do differently, or they have questions about, or that they need to dig into, but it’s got to be tactical. And my whole perspective on working with lawyers has always been the more we can give you to do, the more you will come back and listen to us, right?
Gyi Tsakalakis: Awesome. So I hope that our listeners will hold us to that promise. As always we continue to encourage folks to send in topic ideas, questions, if you want to be a guest, we are always looking to have a guest, and so with that, let’s also talk about something that was recently on my mind, you just published a book.
Conrad Saam: I did. We should not make this all about the book, right?
Gyi Tsakalakis: We won’t, but I think because you and I are going to — we are local SEO people, we are going to bring it up.
Conrad Saam: Sure.
Gyi Tsakalakis: And I think in light of a lot of the flux that’s going on right now and issues related to the pandemic, people are going to be very interested in ideas and solutions related to local and so it’s worth mentioning that you wrote a book about it.
Conrad Saam: So the book is called ‘Own the Map’, it’s put out by the ABA. I will you Gyi, if anyone has ever like, hey Gyi, you should write a book. It’s a great way to market yourself. It is a labor of love. I am fairly certain that even my mom and my wife will not read the book because it’s super technical, it’s a very small audience, but it’s technical and tactical. And Gyi, in a example of horrible prescience I launched a book about marketing a physical office for a law firm right before the COVID crisis hit, so terrible timing.
However, and this becomes really fascinating, the concept of local and COVID and what’s going on with all this right now is very, very real and it’s very much in flux. Google’s ability to deal with how reviews are handled during the COVID crisis, for example, has thrown everything out of whack. And so local marketing is extremely important still. The fundamentals in the book like — get the book. It’s fantastic, blah, blah, blah. It’s tactical. It starts with business metrics around what you should look at.
But the local nature of legal marketing, I cannot underemphasize just how amazingly local what you are doing is for almost every legal practice. And you need to kind of put your mindset in the notion of, I am not marketing like most companies do and the way you think about most company’s marketing, I am marketing very, very locally and some employees have done an amazing job of doing that and some of them completely miss the boat.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Yeah. Good stuff. And that kind of brings me to another thing too that we have talked a lot about is there seems to be a proliferation of legal marketing expertise. I have noticed it a lot on Facebook, like every other post is like some sponsored get rich quick as a lawyer scheme. Now, obviously I am getting targeted because of one, the sites that I consume, I go to a lot of lawyer websites and it probably has lawyer in some of my profiles. But wow, having done this now for 11 or so years, it’s really, really congested and a lot of the information is like worse than I would have expected to see from snake oil salesman 10 years ago.
Conrad Saam: Well, I think what’s happened, and you are right and I almost correlate this Gyi to COVID, right, there has been a correlation or maybe I am just paying more attention to Facebook, but the sheer volume of people who I have never heard of before, ever. And by the way, I am not saying they are all terrible; I have listened in on a bunch of things and there have been some good nuggets, but there are a lot of people in this marketing game right now who have come out of nowhere.
And they may be great marketers. They may have done a really good job with car dealerships and are moving to legal, they may tactically be really good, but there is — I mean my Facebook feeds looks like — it looks like the entire world is doing nothing but legal marketing.
Gyi Tsakalakis: So one of the things that we would like to make a recurring feature I suppose of the show is not calling out individuals or companies necessarily.
Conrad Saam: Not necessarily.
Gyi Tsakalakis: I will leave that to you.
Conrad Saam: So for those of you who are listening I had this great conversation with Gyi about three years ago and we were talking about our experience in high school. And I was like yeah Gyi, I was always the one who was kind of getting in trouble and picking fights. And Gyi turned to me and he said and I was always the one behind in the background going, do it, do it, do it.
Gyi Tsakalakis: 00:14:54, but it leads to some fun stuff.
Conrad Saam: So Gyi will probably be polite; I am more happy to call some stuff out, but yeah, sorry, I didn’t mean to interrupt.
Gyi Tsakalakis: No, not at all, I think that’s good for our audience to know.
Conrad Saam: Yeah.
Gyi Tsakalakis: So here is one example. Have you seen these interstitials or COVID pop-ups that block out the entire — so when we say interstitial, what’s an interstitial, Conrad?
Conrad Saam: Yeah. So an interstitial essentially takes over the screen and back in 2017 — okay, so let’s back up a little bit. COVID crisis happens, one of the things that most law firms figured out they needed to do was let people know that they can still be contacted. And in fact, some law firms can’t, like some law firms are still really struggling to do basic intake, right?
So Gyi, you must have had this experience, you call in to a law firm, you talk to a front desk, you know that front desk is working from home because they tell you, I don’t know how to transfer you to Mary the attorney because we are all working from home right now. And so that’s not setup to be working from home. That means you can answer the phone, that doesn’t mean anything.
Anyway, I digress. The interstitial, it became very important for lawyers to communicate to people that were still available for you, okay, and there have been two different approaches — and by the way, this is the feature we are going to — we are going to do this regularly, we are going to call this Dumb Stuff Lawyers Do and we will pick something out, we won’t necessarily always talk about who it is or the vendor in question.
But for Dumb Stuff Lawyers Do, some of you guys are running these pop-up interstitials to tell people that you are still available. And the pop-up interstitial looks like this and this is why Google hates it. It pops up over all of your content and it requires the user to interact with it in order to get rid of it, okay? It’s super annoying, no one likes it. And Gyi, back in 2017 Google was very, very clear that, especially on mobile devices, this would have a negative impact on SEO performance and yet I am seeing these interstitials all the time. Are you seeing them as well?
Gyi Tsakalakis: Yeah. And in fact, we see them even outside of the context of COVID. We see the chat interstitial that blocks everything out. And so if you are at home listening to this and you are like, I don’t know what interstitials are, doesn’t make any sense, pull out your phone, go to your website. If something pops up on your website that blacks out the entire screen so there is just an interface either announcing your COVID information or a chat or an email subscribe, that’s what we are talking about.
Conrad Saam: Well, hold on, I am going to take this one step further. I am going to be mean. This is where I was the mean kid in high school maybe. If you have an agency that put that up and they are an SEO agency, right, why, they should know, it’s three years ago that these became a no-no from a Google perspective and everyone knew it and everyone changed their ways and many of the chat vendors changed the way their interfaces work, blah, blah, blah. If you have an SEO expert who has added these interstitials, do you really have an SEO expert, I would ask yourself that question?
Gyi Tsakalakis: You know it’s funny, we actually — I have experimented with using interstitials on our site; I think we have one running right now, so people can call me out for that.
Conrad Saam: Does it run on your mobile phone?
Gyi Tsakalakis: No, it doesn’t. That’s right.
Conrad Saam: That’s the key here, right? So like going back on the Google mindset here, it’s super annoying on the mobile device and so this has really heavily hit mobile and was specifically focused on Google’s work to improve their mobile experience.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Yeah, it’s annoying both ways. I mean let’s face it, the purpose is trying to capture e-mails, but there are better ways to do it. You really ought not to use these, so take that into consideration. I think it’s an important point, particularly on mobile. Good stuff Conrad.
Now let’s take a quick break for a message from our sponsor.
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Gyi Tsakalakis: And we are back.
Conrad Saam: And we are back. I listen to the Pod Save America guys and I have always wanted to do it, because they always come back with, and we are back so there we go.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Okay, that will be a thing that we can do. Another feature, we think it’s a feature, of the show is Listeners Ask. So we have really — it’s been part of our — the mantra of this show to get feedback and answer questions. So even more, I think the idea here is we will make it more of a regular part of the show, where we are going to address — even when we have guests on address specific listener questions.
How do you prefer to get your questions Conrad?
Conrad Saam: Well, I would say if someone can’t find you or me on the Internet —
Gyi Tsakalakis: My name is hard to spell.
Conrad Saam: Yours is hard to spell, but you are findable, right, and I am findable. If we can’t be found on the Internet, either we don’t deserve your questions or you shouldn’t — you don’t deserve to ask them to us. How is that for insulting the audience right off the bat?
Gyi Tsakalakis: I think that’s right.
Conrad Saam: I would go Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, if you can’t find one of the two of us through either of those things, well, you should hang up and stop listening to us right now.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Google.
Conrad Saam: There is a thing called Google, yeah, that works.
Gyi Tsakalakis: It’s a big one. Okay, so really open to getting questions, email, whatever, however you find us, ask your questions.
And let’s go to some questions that we have so far.
Conrad Saam: Yeah. I am going to ask you the first one because this is your client, who I told; this is one of my favorite stories.
Gyi Tsakalakis: I don’t know if my client wants you to out him as my client.
Conrad Saam: Oh, fair, okay, we will keep this quiet. All right, we will do — now I have a conundrum because I am not supposed to share their name.
So someone who was your client who actually approached me and was like hey, Conrad, I am thinking about changing marketing agencies and we have this long talk and I looked at all their stuff and I was like wow, your agency is doing an amazing job, the last thing you should do is leave the agency. And they are like yeah, it’s Gyi.
Gyi Tsakalakis: And I owe you a beer.
Conrad Saam: And I was like okay, well, now this all makes sense.
Anyway, the question is, if you are starting a law firm, what’s the best way to differentiate yourself from the other millions of lawyers doing what you do?
Gyi Tsakalakis: Taco Bell commercials.
Conrad Saam: Taco Bell commercials?
Gyi Tsakalakis: No, I am just kidding.
Conrad Saam: Super Bowl commercials.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Super Bowl commercials.
Conrad Saam: We will talk about that when the Super Bowl comes.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Well, I think the one I was thinking of was actually a Super Bowl Taco Bell commercial.
But in any event, no, seriously, it’s a great question and we are both big David C. Baker fans, ‘Business of Expertise’ is the book; we should try to get David to come on the show and maybe we can twist him some.
Conrad Saam: He won’t. He won’t.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Throw some money at him. In any event —
Conrad Saam: Lot of money.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Yeah. Positioning, so we are talking about differentiation, some people call it positioning, unique value propositions, unique selling propositions, that is really at the root of marketing, right, how do you stand out in a crowded field.
One of the things that we talk to young lawyers or lawyers that are maybe not necessarily young but new to practicing law, starting a new firm or they are leaving their firm is to think about ways that they can have a competitive advantage.
So if you are a newer lawyer it’s foreseeable that maybe you don’t have a lot of clients, so you have got to turn the fact that you don’t have a lot of clients on its head and position yourself as you can provide extra service because you have more bandwidth or maybe you are little bit more tech savvy so that’s something that you can stand out on, but you have got to find things that are actually true to the way that you can practice, that actually are unique, right?
I think the challenge becomes you think you are saying something unique, right? How many times do we hear people say well, we have 500 years combined experience, nobody has that, it’s like everybody is saying that.
What do you think?
Conrad Saam: So I mean I would take this one step further and I would let the who you are come out. So the messaging and positioning is typically like the business side of this, but for lawyers the who you are is very, very important and it’s very distinguishing, and most of you go out of your way to market yourselves as being a lawyer and they already know you are a lawyer, they don’t care, right?
So the positioning, and this may work for some for instance, I am not saying no one should do this, but having a — being a middle-aged white guy in a dark suit with a red tie and a white shirt and a good haircut, sure, that says lawyer, right? But so does every single other picture of a lawyer. And so if you really want to stand out, if you really want to be fundamentally different, I would embrace the who you are.
I was on the this call, this was — Ernie Svenson did a Marketing Boot Camp, we had a Zoom call, blah, blah, blah, anyway, one of the questions one of the female lawyers asked me was, I want to have two different websites, I am a therapist and I am an attorney and I need to have two different sites and I am not sure how I should do that. And I was like why would you ever separate those things, being a therapist — being an attorney is being a therapist anyway, right, all of you know that and that is really going to resonate with the right audience for you, right?
And the person who doesn’t — who ejects that concept is the wrong client for you, completely wrong client for you. So let who you are, and it can be — I mean, it can be anything, I am an immigrant practicing Immigration Law, very easy story. I went through what you are going through. I am gay, I am a woman, right, like I am really, really deep into living in Ann Arbor because I am in Michigan, whatever it might be, there is some — I do mountain biking, I do triathlons, like who you are as a person is so important when people are hiring you and you all just try and look like White middle-aged man standing in front of leather-bound books and the skills of justice.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Yup — no, I think there’s a lot of good points in there and this goes — this is just kind of another way of thinking about it more from a framework, but it’s really trying to go down to identifying that audience that you want to serve, some of that might — ideally, if there’s an intersection between the causes and things and the affinity groups that you are passionate about or that you are a member of, that really, really works well.
So the things that Conrad was talking about, where you are serving a community that you are a representative member of, that’s very strong positioning, but I think you can think about it in really kind of from a framework’s standpoint two general ways, one is, is to say, we get this idea of horizontal positioning so that might be a very specific practice area. So I don’t know I was thinking of — DJ Laser Beams came to my mind —
Conrad Saam: DJ Laser Beams?
Gyi Tsakalakis: Yeah, Jason Beam. So the point is, is that he is serving people in a very specific community to a specific context of practice, so that’s one way to do it, and then other one is what you would call Vertical Positioning and maybe I got this backwards, I always scrum up, but other one would be that you have a very specific practice area itself, maybe 00:27:03 already say that one.
Anyway, one is, is identifying your audience from like a demographic, psychographic and going really deep on both of those, and the other is going very specific on a practice area. So people say things like riches are in the niches, stuff like that, it’s a same kind of concept but it’s a trying to put a little more meat on the bone so you can think about how you can start to develop this differentiation, and again, this is something that I think that this isn’t a do it once and you are done, this should be — you should be constantly re-evaluating this, how is it resonating, do you stand out in an audience, do people identify you as that particular type of lawyer, that particular type of expert or as a leader in that affinity group if that’s what you are positioning in. So great question.
Conrad Saam: So I am going to hijack the next question to answer this question and then we need to start talking about COVID because that’s the big talk to go ahead right now.
Laurence Colletti who asked the question said do you have any favorite marketing books that you recommend for lawyers? Okay. Here’s the answer, Laurence, and this goes right into what Gyi is talking about, there is a book by Harry Beckwith called ‘Selling the Invisible’ and it is all about positioning and messaging and making — and specifically for service-based companies which lawyers are as our agencies, who are you, what makes you different and why that difference is so important. So I would absolutely read, and it’s an old book but it is fantastic. Harry Beckwith’s ‘Selling the Invisible’.
Gyi Tsakalakis: There you go.
Conrad Saam: COVID, see I told you. We warned the audience we are going to take a dark turn, it’s hard not to, but that’s where we are.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Yeah, I mean, it’s a global pandemic so I think it’s worth, at least acknowledging that it’s going on.
Conrad Saam: You would hope. So, Gyi, one of questions that I get a lot and we are seeing in the data is that this is impacting different practice areas differently, some are up, some are down, what are you seeing?
Gyi Tsakalakis: Yeah, same, I mean it’s the juxtaposition between practice areas that are like booming right now and those that are starving is really stark and the other thing that I tell folks and we were having conversations about their practices is that even if — if you are a motor vehicle accident lawyer and nobody is driving your area and vehicle accidents are 40% down, which sidenote, I think it was Minnesota, I think we talked about this in last episode but Minnesota and Missouri actually had a spike because even though the total number of drivers was down, people were driving more recklessly because roads were empty but sidenote —
Conrad Saam: Yeah, so the serious accidents were up and the total number was down?
Gyi Tsakalakis: Right.
Conrad Saam: Fascinating.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Yeah, but in a way, I think that finding so goes back to marketing one-on-one who is your audience and what issues are they dealing with that you can help them? So some obvious ones to me are like you Workers’ Comp Lawyers — some of the Workers’ Comp Lawyers we have had conversations with who said, well, you know, nobody is at work so there is no Comp claims.
It’s like, well, did they get sick at work, are you putting out content raising that question, are there issues that relate to contracting COVID while at work, if you are an employment lawyer there’s all sorts of issues that touch COVID.
And so I think that regardless — I think there are some practice areas that things are just honestly on pause. There’s just not a lot you can do. In those cases you’re either riding it out or if you have experience in another area that might be spiking for lack of a word, that’s something maybe you can bring that practice back. I’m not big — I have seen this conversation floating around the web. Oh, I will just —
Conrad Saam: I know where you are going with this.
Gyi Tsakalakis: — yeah, start a new practice.
Conrad Saam: In bankruptcy?
Gyi Tsakalakis: Right. Like, one, I think the obvious one there is, is like, if you don’t have experience doing that, you are just going to make things worse for people, because you don’t actually have experience doing that. And realistically, like if you don’t have it, if you have no background in actually helping people in that context, like don’t do it, but are there opportunities to build referral relationships? It’s like, sure, right?
So like if you have an audience built in, if you have an existing network and you can be a leader in your community and people are coming to you with questions and they want information, perhaps you can refer some of those out to lawyers who are qualified to do that, but anyway, that was kind of a rant. Yeah, it’s affecting different practices all over the map.
Conrad Saam: So that’s specifically about bankruptcy. One of the things we have seen with some of our larger clients that have a distributed practice, so like if you are in a tertiary market, you might be the big law firm, right?
We are definitely seeing — I am thinking of three of them specifically moving what lawyers are working on, and some of them are now working kind under supervision of the bankruptcy person. And so the more distributed, it’s essentially portfolio theory on practice areas are able to kind of way this out a little bit better.
Wills and estates booming, I do have a question for you. So wills and estates are obviously booming, one of the funny ones that I’ve heard, we have got two clients in this boat; patent lawyers, I don’t know if you have had this, Gyi, but I have got two patent lawyers who are slammed and their concept is, people are sitting at home thinking about how to do something and coming up with ideas and calling patent attorneys like crazy.
Gyi Tsakalakis: They are figuring out how to trademark different versions of COVID plus something.
Conrad Saam: So that’s been a very real thing that we’ve seen. Wills and estates bankruptcy, definitely.
I’m curious, Gyi, divorce, the narrative has gone. Hey, everyone is going to be at home and I have anecdotally talked to couple of attorneys who were showing this. Everyone is at home dealing with a spouse that they didn’t like for the last five years anyway and so there is going to be a spike in divorce, and yet there is nothing moving in divorce. So I’m seeing divorce lawyers extremely frustrated despite that kind of narrative.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Yeah, I have seen some of that. Sadly, I think the other thing that if you look at some of the — and even just the news stories and some of the expectations from forecasting is that, very sadly, there is an increase in domestic violence, there is an increase in child abuse, there are definitely issues.
One of the things that came up right-away, not necessarily divorce but in the family law context is, you are sheltering in place, what happens if you have if you are sharing custody?
Conrad Saam: Right.
Gyi Tsakalakis: How do you navigate that? So some of that’s, so I think — yeah, I think the — maybe divorce is kind of mixed right now, but there are certainly a lot of tangental family and family criminal issues that are sadly on the uptick, and I was talking to somebody that buys ads on and for that they have seen that there’s been a lot of — there is an increased search for those kind of queries.
Conrad Saam: And the thing here is, the justice system is going to have to adapt to this. The answer can’t be we are going to standby as domestic violence happens because of COVID.
Gyi Tsakalakis: And that’s been a positive, I mean, it’s kind of forced the hand of a lot of these courts.
Conrad Saam: Yeah, so the end result here is all parts of society are going to adjust to living like this. It’s not going to be too acceptable to just sit by and let these things happen and it’s going to move things forward.
Additionally, and this is trying to put a bit of a cherry on a Dark Sunday – a cherry on a Dark — there is a terrible mix.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Dark Sunday to go through dark lunch.
Conrad Saam: Okay. We will strike that metaphors from the record here, but it’s going to move the legal system towards technology, it just has to, and that will mean speed and accessibility, and that is a really, really good thing.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Yeah, absolutely. And here is another thing. So today we are recording this on May 13th and at the risk of stating the obvious, neither Conrad nor myself work at the CDC.
Conrad, you are not a virus expert, are you?
Conrad Saam: No, but we can bring someone on, we could bring on an epidemiologist. I think that may get so political that we alienate half of our audience again.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Right, so I am trying to navigate that with my disclaimer. However, it’s May 13th today and right now there are a lot of states that are open for business. I was on a call earlier today with people in states that its business as usual. And so, I think that’s another thing just contextually because people are — I usually I am in Illinois, I am in Michigan right now which is still under essentially a lockdown. Illinois is under lockdown, but the experience nationally, that’s another thing that’s really become — I think people are experiencing is that it’s a much different experience depending on where you are.
Conrad Saam: Yeah.
Gyi Tsakalakis: So I think you got to think about that in your messaging, because I’ve seen some attorneys. Now one, like you said, I think you got to be who you are, you got to stand for what you believe in, and so putting aside the politics of it, be who you are and stand up for what you believe in, number one priority.
But number two, in some of your messaging just keep in mind that if you market to a broader audience, not everybody is living the same COVID experience as you might be.
Conrad Saam: Right, right. And the — I think it’s really a good point. We have seen massive differences in the data on search queries by state and by region, and even within a state. So there is — I will use Washington State, which is where I am, there is very different experiences if you are in Western Washington in Seattle than if you are in a very, very different market in Eastern Washington.
And so, I think one of the things and going back to like the original theme of this, we want to be super-pragmatic. I think lawyers need to get a feel for what is search volume like for what you do? How do you get a feel — how can you use math to actually identify what’s going on as opposed to frankly listening to CNN Fox news et cetera to get a feel for what you should be doing with your business.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Totally. Another one too, and I take it even one step further. I know what we get is there is a rabbit hole that you and I will have to try to avoid going down because we are search nerds, but traffic for traffic’s sake does not pay the rent, so I see a lot of lawyers who are like, oh my traffic is through the roof, and then you dive into their queries and you are like, none of this is relevant for you. So —
Conrad Saam: Because they are not in the same state –
Gyi Tsakalakis: — or the same country.
Conrad Saam: Right. We do great in Uzbekistan, Gyi.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Right. Drug traffic.
Conrad Saam: Crush it from Uzbekistan.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Yeah. Anyway, but in the context of COVID, excuse me, there has been this rush to put out COVID intersectional content, and okay, so maybe if you are a big awareness person, you are getting some awareness by people coming to your site and seeing COVID-related content, but unless you’re capturing their attention either getting them on an e-mail drip list or something else or getting to download something or something, that traffic is just bouncing and you are never going to see it again, except from maybe that you planted some top of mind awareness in their head, so it’s something to think about.
Conrad Saam: Maybe you do some re-targeting but like this is a long, long-term branded play that if they are looking for COVID information, they come to your law firm, the likelihood that they get in a car accident and call you in the next 12 months from now, that’s a stretch.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Yeah.
Conrad Saam: The other thing, Gyi, that we have definitely seen and this is with good quality traffic. Frankly, it’s a reduction in the speed with which people are connecting with lawyers, and the urgency with which people are connecting with lawyers.
So we did this great program with Google the other day, it was webinar and one of the things that the Google representative showcased was actually an increase in legal specific search queries. And there was almost a revolution, an uprising on the webinar because people were like, that’s what I am seeing, it’s what I am seeing, the phones are read, what’s going on, what’s happening?
And yet, when we look at the actual data, it actually corroborates what she was seeing, and I will use employment as an example. There are a lot of people with a lot of employment questions right now. A lot of people with a lot of employment questions right now, but they are not hiring lawyers. They are not even — they are in the research phase, so we talk about the marketing funnel. They are so high up in the marketing funnel that they are not contacting you.
So one of the metrics that we came across was in pay-per-click, while there has overall been an increase in the costs for pay-per-click, even though a lot of you guys have jumped out of the market, the actual conversion rate, the number of people who contact the law firm after clicking on an advertisement has actually dropped by 14%.
And so that’s not insignificant. You’re still getting the volume but people just don’t want to talk to you right now. People aren’t ready to pull — like this is the ultimate tire kicker problem. And it’s happening from what we can see kind of across the spectrum.
Gyi Tsakalakis: And that’s — always hold our feet to the fire about this tactical stuff. So what do you do if you are attracting, whether you’re buying it through paid or attracting the organic to all of this traffic that is interested in the topic, they are doing the research, but they are not ready to hire you and that gets to the number one thing that comes to my mind is get them on an e-mail drip. So whether that’s stay up to date with the latest COVID employment news, stuff like that, you’re turning that one maybe on target or a research-based query visit into something that you can stay in touch with over the long term.
Conrad Saam: Yeah, so e-mail is one of them, and I would take this a couple of steps further. You’ve got retargeting. Okay.
Gyi Tsakalakis: What’s retargeting, Conrad?
Conrad Saam: Oh, what is retargeting? Retargeting is, I’m hoping that everyone knows this by now. If I look at a Nordström post on fuzzy bunny slippers today, I’m going to get nothing but fuzzy bunny slippers in advertisements no matter where I go on the web for the rest of the week.
Now, in legal by and large, retargeting is difficult because you are dealing with a lot of private personal information. The worst example of course is, a divorce attorney who does retargeting and my spouse gets on the family computer and gets bombarded by ads for divorce law for men, not a really good approach. So it’s difficult.
Retargeting is much more applicable on Facebook. There are much fewer restrictions on what you can do for retargeting on Facebook, but retargeting is something where you can stay in front of people. But I’ll take this one step further.
There are a lot of people sitting at home right now. I think, being accessible, and we have a bunch of clients who are doing this. Being accessible as the lawyer to help, and this can be on social, this can be on podcasts, this can be by the phone, this can be the quick and easy conversation. Being more accessible, without the expectation that this is going to turn into a client is super-key.
So you switch your mindset from come in for a free consultation, which is really a sales pitch, as everyone knows, you switch that message to, how can I help you? What are the questions that you have, and maybe we can do this online. Maybe we can do this on Zoom, maybe we can do this over the phone. But you guys now have this opportunity to be much more accessible and approachable and available at weird hours than you ever were before, and I would embrace that wholeheartedly.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Totally. One in the same line we’ve been talking a lot about adjusting messaging to be showing more empathy, more gratitude. And it’s funny, though. It’s sad and funny. But this is the kind of stuff that we’ve been talking about for a long time, because it worked even before COVID-19 came, but in this environment, it’s that much more important.
Conrad Saam: It’s that much more important and since much easier. It’s so easy to be helpful right now. Like there was — I don’t know if you saw — this is a great video, this hit this morning, and it’s a very short clip. It’s of these two young Black men handing out pizza to the homeless. I don’t even know where it is, but it is a jarring thing that you just don’t expect to see and it’s so great and it’s so easy to make it — like the world is just desperate for something positive and beautiful right now, and it’s so easy to step into that as an attorney.
And I will even say like, this doesn’t has to be legal, go be a part of your community, go give back. There’s never been a better opportunity to give back to where you come from than right now.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Absolutely. All right, we’re winding down towards the end of the episode here.
Conrad Saam: I want to hit one more point.
Gyi Tsakalakis: I know that you wanted to get one really important point out there. So this is money.
Conrad Saam: This is a question, this is real money. This is 340 million reasons to listen to the end of this podcast. We should have started with that.
Gyi Tsakalakis: No, then everybody would have stopped listening.
Conrad Saam: No, no, no. We should’ve started with, “We are going to tell you at the end of the podcast how to get $340 million”.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Maybe our brilliant editors can find out a way to magically —
Conrad Saam: Yeah, we should do that. We could just like dulu, dulu, dulu.
Okay, so many of you I hope have heard about the $340 million that Google has set aside for small businesses from an advertising perspective and you should at the very least be aware of this. This is going to be rolled out starting the end of this month, and there are a couple of things that qualify you for this. And by the way, Gyi, this is much easier to apply for than the PPP.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Huh, no way. Impossible.
Conrad Saam: We could do a whole call on that. Right? Anyway, for those of you who went to the PPP process, God bless you. For those of you who are now dealing with the changing ramifications of how to stay in compliance. Good luck. Like I — this — anyway, that’s a diversion that we don’t need to go into.
So Google’s and this is coming directly from Google. $340 million set aside for small businesses. Here are the qualifications. One, you must have spent in 2019. You must have advertised during 10 of the last of the 12 months of 2019. Two, you must have also advertised in January or February of this year. Three, there’s nothing you need to do in order to actually apply or get access to this stuff. It’s just going to start magically showing up from the Google fairy in your accounts.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Hurray. My cynical —
Conrad Saam: Hurray. $340. 340 reasons to listen to us. Go be cynical.
Gyi Tsakalakis: I can’t help it.
Conrad Saam: Be cynical.
Gyi Tsakalakis: My cynical mind. It’s like, oh, Google has just sung back some fraudulent clicks to you.
Conrad Saam: Wow. Wow. I can’t have that kind of conversation here. I’m a Google Premier Partner. I have to represent their brand. Well. No. I’ll tell you my cynical part of this.
Gyi Tsakalakis: You’ve got the slang “clicks”.
Conrad Saam: Here’s the deal, Gyi. This is the cynical part of me that I think is a very real thing. If you have an agency who doesn’t give you access to your, what I believe to be your Google AdWords campaigns.
Gyi Tsakalakis: People do that.
Conrad Saam: It is a practice. I know. I know. By the way, so, this is the dark side of this. If you have an agency that doesn’t give you access to your own campaign, you have no idea if you’ve received that money or how much money you’ve received, you have no idea, and the real cynic in me suggests that your agency is going to use that money and charge you for it. That’s nothing important. Gyi, have we not seen worse behavior among legal marketers?
Gyi Tsakalakis: Sadly.
Conrad Saam: Yeah, sadly. So for me and actually I asked my Google rep, I was like, listen, how can you find out how much money has been allocated to you? And she said, ask your agency. All right. Go ahead. Ask your agency to see what happens.
Gyi Tsakalakis: There you go.
Conrad Saam: Now, I will stop interrupting and we can have a beautiful finale to my first episode here.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Yes. Well, I would just like to say thank you for participating in this, Conrad, and I’m really glad to have you board. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun.
Conrad Saam: Awesome. Thanks for having me and I look forward to this more than I probably should.
Gyi Tsakalakis: Folks, if you’re listening to this, you think it was great, you think it was lousy, you have show ideas, please don’t hesitate to give us that feedback. And if you just stumbled across this episode and you are like, what the heck is this? Please do go to your favorite podcast subscribing tool, Apple Podcast, Google Play, Spotify, run Spotify —
Conrad Saam: We are everywhere. We are marketers.
Gyi Tsakalakis: — and subscribe Lunch Hour Legal Marketing, and thanks again for listening and we’ll talk to you next time.
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