SharpSpring vs. Hubspot

Over the past two years, we’ve had the painful experience of switching CRM systems not once but twice.  In this video I talk about the true costs of a CRM system and why the “savings” from SharpSpring ended up costing my firm a ton of money – in both productivity and lost clients.

The one thing I didn’t mention in this video (as pointed out by the poor guy who had to handle this) was the immense pain in setting up SharpSpring.  While importing data from one CRM to another is always going to be complicated, this effort took my number 1 guy months of painstaking work to complete.  The upside?  Pulling stuff form Sharpspring into HubSpot, much smoother.

If you are looking for information specifically around HubSpot for the legal industry, you can learn more here in our post: Hubspot for Lawyers.

The Chasm Between BLM and Lawyers: Part I

During this 50 minute conversation, I sit down virtually with two lawyers who are intimately involved in social justice in Minneapolis. Travis Kowitz is white man, shot by a pepper bullet while live streaming the first two nights of the protests after George Floyd’s murder. Emily Cooper is a black woman pushing the cause of entrepreneurship to Minneapolis’ black community as the path to financial and personal freedom. Both are gritty, ambitious, lightly profane, and deeply committed to the part lawyers can play in the movement for social justice. We spend time talking through the history of systemic racism, specifically in Minneapolis.

From a lawyer marketing perspective, get inspired with some of the tactical approaches these two have taken in getting deeply involved in the community. My hope is that by listening to this, you may be inspired to go beyond carefully worded statements and donations and get more involved.

“words are just words, but when I take notice its about what actions people take behind the words; because words are just pandering.  Is anyone actually doing anything?” – Emily Cooper

The focus of this series is exposing the huge gap between the Black Lives Matter movement and lawyers, many of whom went into the profession specifically to advance the cause of social justice. We talk with hands-on, driven lawyers who are actively involved, on the streets in their communities, far beyond making bail fund donations or publishing carefully worded statements of support. We challenge the trepidations felt by many lawyers, starting with “I don’t want to say the wrong thing.” This is a raw, uncomfortable, and oftentimes painful dialogue that needs to happen. You won’t agree with everything you hear; you’ll probably feel offended. All the more reason to listen.

Making Sure Your Business is Prepared for the Virus

Things aren’t great right now. As a Seattle-based company, we’re feeling the squeeze. Our office is just about empty, the buses haven’t been full in a week, and we just had to move our upcoming conference to virtual, instead of the Las Vegas rager we had planned. Since we’re figuring out how to run our business during this viral time, I decided to try and help you with some tips and tricks.

 

1. Adjust your GMB listing

The first thing you need to do is to let your customers know when you are and are not going to be available. If you’re shutting down your office for the foreseeable future, make that clear. Google has created a Google My Business advice doc for COVID-19 with instructions on how to update your listing. 

 

2. Change your voicemail

Don’t expect people to know what’s going on. You will probably still get incoming calls, and if they get sent to voicemail during your listed working hours they will probably be upset. Leave a voicemail message with a number or email where they can reach you. Explain why you’re not in the office. If they don’t understand, they just don’t understand the severity of the situation. 

 

3. Get ready to take calls remotely

Make sure you have online meeting capabilities. This means having access to quality wifi, a microphone that doesn’t make you sound like you’re shouting from the bottom of a well. Find a place where you can have a professional video call while working remotely. As a lawyer, you should be able to do a good chunk of your work from home. Don’t completely shut off consultations; if people are willing to trade in-person for over the phone, don’t throw that away.

 

4. Think long term

We don’t know how long this is going to last. Prepare for it to last a few months. How will your firm need to adapt? Maybe you’ll need to make your services more advice-based than representational if courts begin to shut down. Think about how you might need to stretch your operating budget and how you’ll keep getting clients. Everyone’s going to be hit hard by this, so at least you’re not alone.

 

We’re currently in a pandemic situation. We’ve heard some response that this is an overreaction, but since no one here is a health official we choose to take the health officials seriously when they say this is a crisis. It’s better to have an abundance of caution than pay the price for negligence. 

 

If you are one of our clients and are wondering how to reach your account executive, send them an email or call their direct line. Calling into our mainline could easily get you to voicemail, and we want to avoid that.

Is Your Agency Selling You More Than You Need?

Judging Your Marketing Plan by Your Firm

Law firm marketing is an industry full of swindlers. Bad marketers are always trying to sell you more than you need, won’t tell you how their add-ons are helping you, and don’t produce the results they promise.  Scams are all over, which is why you need to be able to recognize when you’re overpaying or are paying for the wrong things. 

 

But what are the things you should be paying for? This depends on your practice, your firm, and your goals. Any marketer who says they have a one-size-fits-all, guaranteed to work plan is lying. No marketer can guarantee digital marketing success unless they’re physically (and illegally) paying off someone at Google, and every plan should be customizable. Every firm is different.

 

What Does My Practice Need?

Every practice has its strengths and weaknesses. Personal injury firms tend to need large amounts of advertising due to the highly competitive market and can afford it because of their high case values. Immigration lawyers, on the other hand, tend to have high caseloads with lower case values, meaning they need specific and cost-effective advertising. If an immigration lawyer is being sold an expensive new website and thousands of dollars in monthly ad-spend they are likely being ripped off. 

 

Before speaking with a digital marketing firm you need to make sure you know your business. What is your budget and what are your goals? A good firm should be able to work with your needs. If they are pressuring you to spend more than you are comfortable with without providing data to support their suggestions, run. 

 

But what does your firm actually need? This depends on the infrastructure you already have built up. If you have a functional, scalable, beautiful website ready to go, you shouldn’t have to purchase a new one. When you already have Local SEO services set up you might not need to purchase more. If you are just starting out, you might need to invest a bit more. The best way to avoid being scammed is by doing research into what’s typically needed for a firm of your size and practice.

 

Ask Questions

The best indicator of a scam is a lack of transparency. If the firm you are talking to refuses to answer your questions directly you might want to raise a red flag. Marketers are good at making their product sound appealing, and rhetoric can be powerful and deceiving. Make sure your questions get answered and keep an eye out for non-answers. If you realize they didn’t actually tell you anything, press them harder. Make sure you know exactly what you should be getting and why you’re paying for it.

 

Talk to a Firm You Can Trust

If you’re curious about a trustworthy firm, call Mockingbird! We’re proud of our transparency, work ethic, and relationships with our clients and would love to talk with you about your firm.

Pitch Mockingbird for Just $250

Want to Sell Us Something?

As our agency continues to grow, we’ve been getting hit up by an increasing number of vendors with “can’t miss demos” and offerings sure to help us “take our clients to the next level.” Normally we’re kind of aloof and take a “we’ll find you” approach to identifying potential partners. However, a savvy move from SharpSpring that consisted of an unsolicited maze (pictured below) and a generous offer to buy lunch for our team may have changed our entire philosophy.

 

maze from SharpSpring to Mockingbird
SharpSpring’s ambition is your (potential) gain. No need to send us a maze, just buy us lunch.

Every Friday our team meets to discuss the latest tactics, solutions, and opportunities for our clients. We share notes (and a few beers) during the weekly “Thinking & Drinking” meeting, and up to this point all it’s been lacking is consistent catering.

That’s where you come in!

We Can Be Bought…

If you buy us lunch, we’ll be your captive audience for 30 minutes while you run through all the reasons we should buy/use/recommend your company’s tools/products/services. We’re not even going to be that picky about what you’re shilling…only what we’re eating.

Give us $250 for lunch and we’ll give you 30 minutes of our time.

As a savvy marketer you’re probably already doing the math on this and realizing it’s too good an opportunity to pass up. But, to sweeten the pot we’ll also give you the following:

  • Hypercritical feedback on your presentation skills
  • A brutally honest assessment of your product or service
  • A blog post from one of our team members about your company’s pitch
  • The unlikely chance at legitimately selling us on something we didn’t know we needed

At worst, you get a bit of free coverage on our blog and the chance to write-off $250 as a “marketing expense.” At best, you’ve gained the once in a lifetime chance to pitch a market leading agency for the cost of several pizzas and a couple cases of beer.

Fill out the contact form or call to schedule your pitch. Slots are going to fill up fast, so don’t delay. We look forward to hearing what you do and why we should care.

We F’d Up…

This post is meant to highlight three things:

  1. We are not infallible.
  2. Our job is to candidly advise on the status of marketing, even when problems are self created (see above).
  3. Being extremely selective in choosing exceptional clients fosters a genuine partnership where that honesty is appreciated.

Last week we f’d up. This was for a large, long standing client who has spent well over $200K with us. The long and short of it…while building out a Google Ads campaign for a client’s new office, we inadvertently deleted an existing one – and historical data, drives quality score and quality score drives economic efficiency – therefore the ads aren’t going to perform as well (for a short time). Our error is going to cost the client some money.

Here’s the exchange that happened between my AE and our client late Friday afternoon:

I have some bad news. While I was helping get the XXXXXX campaign edited, I accidentally removed the XXXXX campaign. I called support to try and get it back but they said there’s nothing they can do. I was able to duplicate the campaign, so it’s currently running on the same settings, with the same ads and keywords.

Since the original campaign was removed, we essentially are starting over with a brand new campaign. We still have access to the data from the original, but any authority that it had is now gone. It’s going to take a while for the campaign to start running the way it was.

Again, I’m very sorry. Please let me know if you have any questions or want to discuss this further.

That was at 5:22 pm on Friday. Client wrote back at 8:20 on Saturday morning:

I thought it was super classy for you to let me know about the XXXX campaign. I’ve used so many marketing firms and the reason why I was so attracted to Mockingbird was because Conrad was so upfront and honest with me. And I believe this extends to the entire company. Basically, other marketing companies tend to [be] very squirreley and Mockingbird is so honest, and that’s why I love working with Mockingbird. For example, you consistently say, “XXXX, you should use us for this…” and you also say, “Dan, I’ll be honest, you may be able to get a better value somewhere else.”  I really appreciate that candor.

I think the XXXXX campaign is a perfect example of why I enjoy working with Mockingbird so much. There was virtually no way that I ever would have realized that the XXXXX campaign was deleted. I’m just not smart enough to figure that out. But you saying, “look, XXXX, although you would have never realized this, I mistakenly deleted the XXXXX campaign and the paid searches may not be as good as before” was a super classy move.

So, final thought:

First, thank you for letting me know about what occurred with the XXXX campaign. I greatly appreciate your honesty about that.

Second, do not worry about. Mistakes happen, so not a big deal.

Thanks, XXX

One of our 10 Commandments is “Proactively Deliver Bad News.” This is vital in our role as consultants/advisors/experts. News from the marketing side of things is not always positive and a good agency won’t shy away from delivering bad news…even (or perhaps especially) when its our fault. And clients…you should recognize that us technical agencies almost always have the ability and access to hide any mistakes or concerns from you. That should never be our role, but as our client pointed out…he most likely would never have noticed. Ask yourself: when is the last time your agency told you things aren’t going well?

Thank You Gifts – Rescue.org

I occasionally send a personalized thank you gift to vendors or clients… in fact would much rather do that then send out a package to get lost among all of the typical holiday corporate packages.  (Although, Seth, keep those cookies coming in December, they are to die for.)

Today we sent out one of our favorites: Women’s Small Business Training through Rescue.org. If you want to make a difference in the world, considering browsing through the micro donations you can make at this amazing site.

Why You Shouldn’t Hire an HOURLY Marketing Consultant

Hourly based work seems like the right approach…especially when it comes to marketing services. You only pay when you need something and you pay a pre-determined, agreed upon amount. Concerns over contractors delivering deliberately slow work aside, hourly engagements are easy to understand, and for an agency, easy to agree to. Furthermore, hourly engagements enable consultants to be called into battle when needed.

Hourly billing makes it very easy to bid on work – there’s no need to scope the requirements of a specific client and there’s flexibility to increase or decrease budgets as necessary. As a marketing agency, hourly billing also plays conveniently into one of our 10 Commandments: It Might Not Be Our Fault, But It’s Still Our Problem. When we have a client who has some emergency, we drop everything to address that emergency. An hourly billing arrangement makes this very simple.

Despite that, hourly billing is a horrible way to structure an arrangement with a marketing agency because it encourages a reactive, instead of proactive relationship.

A brief non-legal anecdote….

We just fired our accounting firm after a nagging feeling that everything wasn’t being done both on time and entirely well. (btw – we’ve signed up with a firm called Accountfully that seems to approach their business in the same way we approach ours.) In our kick off call with Accountfully, they uncovered time and time again, stupid sloppy errors from our previous firm. Of course, we were getting what we paid for – or paying for what we got – the time it took to do 90% of the job well. But of course, with accounting (even more so than with marketing), I don’t want a 90% well done job. I want a third party, outsourced, I’m-not-going-to-worry-about-this-because-an-expert-is-already-proactively-looking-out-for-me peace of mind. So we’ve transitioned our arrangement from an hourly bill to a monthly retainer. And yes, I’m going to spend more money on accounting this year than last…except of course that that final 10% – the proactive part that ensures we keep the tax man happy is going to be managed proactively for me.

The reality is, we were paying our accountant for what they did…it’s just that what they did wasn’t a) done well and b) what they needed to do. A retainer (with a good firm) means you have someone proactively monitoring your business instead of reacting to your requests. And for a function you don’t understand or hate (in my world – accounting), that’s the way it should be.

 

My new accounting team – billing us on retainer instead of hourly.

 

Avvo Sells….

I joined Avvo back in 2006, when it was just the flea of an idea.  Today Avvo announced they’ve been sold to Internet Brands for an undisclosed 🙂  amount.  Congrats to Mark, Sendi, Sachin, Josh and the rest of the team who made this happen and many thanks – especially to Mark for kicking off my career in Legal SEO over a decade ago.

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