In this episode, Jim and Tyson interview attorney David Ward, owner and president of the David Ward Group and the Attorney Marketing Center. They will go over his career, the evolution of marketing throughout the years and discuss about different marketing strategies.
This is the first part of a double episode! Next week, don’t miss the end of this interview with more tips, techniques and insight from this awesome guest.
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Transcripts: David Ward: Attorney Marketing PART 1
For me, the marketing became the fun part. The long got kind of old. But the marketing was where the excitement was new ideas, new techniques, new things I could try and watching the phone ring. As a result of trying them, there’s nothing better the work eventually I hired people to do the work. And so that I didn’t have to, I could spend my time marketing or doing things that ultimately lead to the next stage of my, my career. Run your law firm the right way.
This is the maximum liar podcast via podcast, your hosts, Jim hacking and Tyson Meatrix. Let’s partner up and maximize your firm. Welcome to the show.
Welcome back to the maximum lawyer Podcast. I’m Jim hacking.
And I’m tasting new tricks. Hey, Jimmy, we got a pretty darn awesome guest this week,
I from the hips keep on rolling. We’ve had some great guests. We had Bob Berg on a little while ago. Our guest today is David Ward. He’s the owner and president of the David Ward group and the attorney Marketing Center. He is a retired attorney, but he speaks our language. And I’ve been on his email list for about a month. And I was introduced by our good friend Mitch Jackson, who we’ve had on the show. And at least two or three times a week, David’s emails sort of strike me with their simple messages. They’re actionable takeaways, and I thought we’d be really lucky to get him on the show. And he was gracious enough to be here. So thank you, David.
Thanks for inviting me glad to be here.
David, why don’t you tell just the listeners a little bit more about what you do. And really the focus points of your firm of your company?
Well, it is I call it the attorney Marketing Center. And the we have to back up a little bit too when I was practicing it because that kind of informs what I do today. When I started practicing, this was a little while ago before the internet. And before we had all the wonderful options we have today. And I struggled because I opened my own office. I didn’t have any any clients, other than some charity cases, so to speak from some other lawyers who gave me some of their junky files. I didn’t have any contacts. I didn’t have any particular skills, I was still learning the ropes about how to practice law, and didn’t know anything about marketing or how to bring in business. And it was a struggle. I remember I told this story about my torts professor in law school warning all of us not to get complacent, it’s going to be five long, hard years before you start making any money. And some of us kind of rolled our eyes and thought that that can’t be that’s impossible. But he was absolutely right. And it took several years of eating peanut butter sandwiches. And, you know, wondering how I was going to make it before I finally figured out a few things. And I was able to turn things around. And I’ll tell you what, what did it for me. First of all, I had my day of disgust. I had an office, I had the license, I had the desire. And I was certainly willing to work hard to accomplish it. But I wasn’t happening. And I finally figured out a few things that I needed to do. And when I did them, things turned around for me. First of all, instead of trying to do everything, you know, I practice thresholds law, whatever showed up at the door I took. I don’t know if that’s an old joke, but I tell it and I decided no more I was going to specialize I was going to do one thing and do it well. Because I figured out that it would save me a lot of time, I didn’t have to do continuing education on every practice area available. And I figured out that specialists make more clients prefer lawyers who specialize and they’re willing to pay them more. So that was the first thing that I did. And it was frightening. Getting rid of clients turning business away. It created a vacuum in what was already on almost empty coffer. But sure enough, the in the act of doing that the work started coming to work that I was specializing in started to come and it doesn’t matter what it was I chose personal injury at the time. But I started getting business and a lot of business and I thought okay, I can’t necessarily explain the science or the mechanics of it. I just know that I started making money. The second thing I did was getting better at doing something a lot of solos and you know that’s become one small firm background, a lot of trouble doing and that’s delegating it’s fear. It’s you know, nobody’s gonna do it better than I. But until unless and until you get comfortable with that. You’re never going to make as much money as you possibly can. And you’re never going to have any kind of free time because you’re doing it all yourself. I think that it’s less of a problem today, because we have resources via the Internet and outsourcing and freelancers and so forth. But it was a big problem back then. And I had to let go of a lot of my fears, and start delegating more. And that freed up a lot of my time to do what ultimately turned things around for me, and that was marketing. There weren’t any courses, there weren’t any books, there was a couple of ABA books, for a marketing for lawyers or probably offer management more than marketing. There is no CLE for marketing, at least in California, there wasn’t, then there still isn’t, you can’t get any credit, unless it’s labeled something else. But it allowed me to focus on marketing. And that’s what made the difference for me, I started bringing in a lot of business. And things accelerated, things started happening much more quickly. And it wasn’t long before I was earning quadruple the income that I mean, I finally got to a point where I was paying my bills. Once I started marketing, seriously, I was able to quadruple my income, and at the same time reduce my work week from six days, five, six days to three. And that was very liberating. It boiled down to treating my law practice, which is a profession, like a business, which it also is, and if you read any of my stuff, you’ll hear me say if you don’t treat it like a business, you won’t have a profession to practice. So you have to do both. And I mentioned earlier that there wasn’t anything available. How did I figure it out? I figured it out by looking at what other professionals were doing. Salespeople, insurance salespeople, real estate salespeople and business owners, service businesses, how are they marketing? And what can I learn from them and adapt and start to use. So it was a process of putting things together, figuring things out, experimenting with a lot of things that didn’t work, and then finally focusing in on getting really good at referrals. And that allowed me to build a very successful practice. And 20 years later, I was able to retire from that practice, because I put my cumulative knowledge and experiences into a course, that referral marketing, but also on other aspects of marketing, started selling that course to other attorneys. And that’s what allowed me to officially retire from practicing. I’m still licensed, I’m still dangerous. But I haven’t taken a client in quite some time. For the last 20 years. With some overlap. I have been consulting with attorneys on marketing, writing about marketing, at my blog for anybody that’s interested attorney marketing.com. And that’s what kind of brings us forward to today. In the meantime, I started a couple of businesses and don’t think we’ll have time to talk about that. But they taught me a lot that I was able to use and what I do today. So that’s my story. I don’t think I over answer your question. But I think it’s important to know where somebody got started and where they came from, because it creates a better understanding of where they are today. And today, I get to do a lot of a lot of writing, which is something that I always wanted to do, but never had time to do when I was practicing. Or even when I was going the other businesses that I started. So did I answer your question?
Yeah, David, that was fantastic. I’m sure Tyson is smiling from year to year, because you are one of many guests we’ve had on the show that follows the advice that Tyson and I often give, which is to pick one practice area and to focus on it and to get really good at it to also take lessons from other industries. So that’s, that’s great. I’d love to hear since we do have someone with such experience. I’d love to hear about marketing for lawyers, pre internet, if you could spend a little bit of time talking about that what was working for you back then maybe what wasn’t working or what were your big hits?
Well, it’s kind of the same thing that works today. Only today you’ve got toys. It’s focusing on the basics, which means talking to people working with people. And everything that I did, and still do today has a theme running through it of leverage. You know, the general definition is getting leverage is getting more with less. How else could I possibly have made more money working fewer hours, it was leverage. And that has different aspects to it, leveraging other people, their time, their talents, their their context, especially, then that’s kind of tied in with referrals. Leverage also means leveraging your own efforts when you create content or work product forms, back lists anything in the office, you reuse it, you can repurpose it. It might be marketing documents, presentations, videos that you record and you can get more for less by reusing that material over and over again. And there’s a lot that you can, there’s a lot you can do with it. Let’s put it that way. Another form of leverage is advertising. Some lawyers can’t or don’t want to advertise. And that’s okay. But I’ll, I’ll give you, I’ll give you an early tip on advertising. And that is, you may not want to or be able to advertise your services. But you might be able to, and if you can, you should consider advertising something else, what could that be something you wrote an ebook, paperback book, a planning guide, some kind of a kit, go ahead and advertise that. And let that be do the selling for you through the wisdom that you put into it. And of course, with any supplemental materials you include, and that’s another form, that’s another form of of leverage. What else was at like them? It was hard, but we didn’t know it was hard, because we didn’t know any better. My father is in was an attorney. And he built his practice without any of the things that we that we take for granted today. He did a little bit of networking, a little bit of speaking, but mostly got good at referrals and getting referrals. And he wasn’t, you know, particularly artful or intentional about it. He just treated people, right, whether they were clients or professional contacts, and people liked him, and they send them business. And that kind of grew and grew. And the best of my knowledge, we never did really get into doing a lot of the things that we do today. One thing that lawyers did in those days, some lawyers did, that is Cakewalk today, and yet most lawyers don’t do it, I can give you a long list of things that Louise could and should do, but don’t do. But we probably have to invite a psychiatrist on the line to explain it all for us. But one thing that I kind of hit home on today is the value and the importance of a newsletter, of course, today, you’re probably going to do an email newsletter. And there are ways to do it so that it doesn’t take a lot of time doesn’t require great writing skills. It’s just something that everyone should do. Everybody who’s in practice for themselves should have a newsletter, if all you did was use a newsletter to stay in touch with the people that you know, and the people that hire you, and the prospects who don’t hire you, and your professional contacts, out of sight out of mind. And, you know, being able to stay in touch with them, even if you even if they never hire you, even if they never send you a referral. And if it’s clients, even if they don’t hire you again, you still want to do it. Because people out there know people and they can, they can send traffic to your website, they can promote your events, they can if they did hire you, they can provide testimonials and online reviews for you, you can continue to build a relationship with them. And I think that’s what my dad did in an offline world. He built relationships with people, and they allowed him to build a lifelong career, to be honest, without a lot of effort. And that’s the same thing with a newsletter today, staying in touch with people. And by the way, when I say newsletter, I’m not talking about social media, because you don’t control that I’m talking about, use social media, if you like it, you do it and you want to do it as a supplement. But I don’t want, I don’t want to send people to somebody else’s store, if you know what I mean, I want them coming to my store. So this has got to be a core element of your website. There should be a signup form. And you should encourage everyone to sign up. In fact, if you do this, and you get good at it, all of your other marketing efforts, what some people call reaching out methods are sort of the front end to your back end, the back end being your newsletter. And if that’s all you do, well, I shouldn’t say all you do, you still got to treat people right and do some of the other things that we need to do. But if all you do as far as your core marketing effort is set up and utilize a newsletter of some kind, and stay in touch with people, you almost don’t have to do much of anything else. If you have a couple 100 people on your newsletter, you have a small number and you can get there pretty quickly. That’s enough to get the ball rolling and you know start growing that list. Yes, you’re going to want to deliver value to them information to them ideas to them. But one of the one of the objections that lawyers typically have is brother number one is I don’t have the time and I show them how they can maintain a an email newsletter. You know, in a half an hour, a week, an hour a week, if they’re doing something weekly, the next thing they say is I don’t have enough to say. And I show them that they actually do. Because you can only write about the law, depending on your market, you can only write about the law so much, it gets boring, even if they’re interested in, in what you’re what you can do for them. You got to spice it up, you know, talk about personal things, talk about things that are going on in their industry or their community, share what you’re doing, share ideas with them. And there’s no end to what you can put in a newsletter. I know that because when I started doing a newsletter, I was doing something maybe once a week, and I was encouraged by someone else at paid attention to to see if I could do it more frequently. And I started doing it three days a week. And that led to doing it five days a week, the guy that I’m kind of emulating he does seven days a week. And I take the weekends off. But I never thought I could do five days a week, where am I going to get the time? How am I going to have enough to say, but you absolutely can. And part of that is, instead of doing a newsletter the way a lot of lawyers do, which is what we’re thinking of it, and therefore don’t do. It’s not a don’t make it a magazine. You don’t have to do HTML. In fact, I recommend against it. You don’t have to include graphics, I don’t use them. You don’t have to do any kind of fancy layout, plain text, three to 500 words. And that’s all you need. And it doesn’t take a lot of time to do that. Once you get going. You’re going to get inquiries from people have questions, you can use that to write additional newsletters. So what I say to anybody is, if you’re not doing it now, give it a try. And there’s other tricks of the trade to help you to make it easier. There’s a lot of help that you can get. But you really don’t need it. You just talk to lawyers or talkers, we can talk endlessly. If you want to know where to start. Start with as far as content start with the FAQs that people typically ask you, what are the 10 or 15 questions that prospective clients usually ask or new clients usually ask about your practice area about their their issues about their problems, the risks, the various solutions, I guarantee you you start with that, they won’t be able to shut you up because you know this stuff inside and out. And that’s a great place to start. Once you get beyond that. There’s a lot more things you can do. And a lot more places you can get ideas. And I know this because I’ve now been doing a daily for five days a week email for I don’t know, it’s got to be three or four years now. Every day. And that’s, you know, I know you’re, you’re probably going to ask me what I do to market my business. That’s it. That’s most of it, I get my newsletter out. And whether you do that once a week, don’t do it once a month, that’s not often enough, once a week is about, right. For most attorneys who are getting started with this, if you can do more, do more. The third reason attorneys give me you know, oh, if I write that off and you know Pete, they’re going to unsubscribe, they’re going to complain they’re going to put me into spam actually works just the opposite. The less read often you write, the more likely it is that your subscribers won’t remember who you are, don’t want to get your stuff don’t want to hear from you again. And those are the ones that cause problems. When you tell them up front that you’re going to be writing to them frequently. They get used to you they like you they look forward to hearing from you assuming you’re delivering something valuable. And by value I mean information or entertainment light on the entertainment of course, but flavored with entertainment, I guess they’re going to look forward to it. And what I have had happen is I’ve had subscribers contact me and tell me that they used to get a lot of email newsletters from other marketing pokes. And they don’t read them. They read mine. They look forward to mine. One day I was sick or out of town or something and I missed the day and I had some write to me, where are you? So the goal was it is you want to be the one that they read the one that they look forward to the one that they build a relationship with. I’ll tell you something else. If you do that, then you can start introducing to your list products and services of other professionals and businesses that you know and work with other ways you can promote some other lawyers practice some local business
there services. Why do you want to do that? Well, for one thing, you’re gonna give your subscribers a good deal. Somebody they can trust because you recommended them, your clients are going to put your subscribers are going to appreciate you for doing that. And certainly the professionals that you’re talking about and, and endorsing, they’re going to appreciate you and do something similar with their list. It’s the easiest marketing there is promote other people. And they’ll promote you. And you can extend that through guest posting on blogs and commenting on blogs. But there’s nothing better than starting a newsletter. Even if you’ve only got 10 People start a newsletter, start writing regularly, you’ll become a better writer, at the same time you’ll write, you’ll learn to write quicker, you’ll unclench those sphincter muscles that many lawyers have. I remember, in the early days writing like a lawyer, and having to intentionally force myself to kind of open up and write like a normal human being talks. And the point that really made a difference, it’s fun now to to write and to write frequently. And I think you’ll find that as well. And that’s on top of the remuneration that results as a result as a result of that effort. So in the old days, you had to print, you know, you had to mail, it was a big effort, and expensive. Now, nowadays, it’s so easy, it’s ridiculous that somebody won’t do that, or even hesitate to do that. I’m telling you, right, the people keep writing to them, whether they’re clients, former clients, prospective clients, professional context, or you can you can do a separate newsletter for your context, if you professionals if you want, but write to people stay in touch with them, I use the expression you might relate to, you want to be in their minds, and their mailboxes, when they need your services, or they know somebody that they can recommend. And how easy it is by pushing some electrons pushing, pushing your keys on your keyboard and sending some electrons their way, you will get people that will unsubscribe. And that’s actually a good thing. Because those are people that we’re never going to hire, you are never going to hire you again. And you don’t need them. You need a Seth Godin, Seth Godin, I drew a blank, and he talks about a tribe. And different people define what that means and how big it needs to be for a lawyer depending on your practice area, and the frequency with which your typical client can and will hire you again. In other words, if you do consult consumer bankruptcies, you’re going to have a little time to wait. But you don’t need a big list. You need an engaged list people that know you like you, and what you send to them and trust you. And you can build your whole practice on that you can get referrals, like you cannot believe that wherever possible. And that was why referrals was the central theme of the marketing course that I did years ago, how I got referrals from clients, how I got them from professional context. And why you’re being silly if you don’t focus on that. And yes, I know the reasons why lawyers don’t do that either. Again, do you have the number of that shrink, but it basically comes down to fear, they don’t want to talk to clients about referrals, they think it makes them appear weak, needy, and it doesn’t, it does just the opposite. Your clients want to help you. They want to help the people that they know, get somebody that they can trust, like you, somebody that knows what they’re doing. And if you’re not doing something intentional, to stimulate referrals, you’re making a big mistake. And you here’s the thing, you don’t have to actually utter the words, yourself. You don’t have to say to a client oh, by the way, you know, I appreciate referrals. Who do you know, you don’t have to you can I’ll teach you how to do it. But you don’t have to, there are other ways to stimulate referrals that don’t require the kind of stuff that I think most attorneys don’t want to do. And you just have to decide, you have to ask a different question. It’s not the question you have to ask is, How can I not? You know, can I should I it’s how can I? And the answers are, the answers are out there. So referrals same today, as it was back then only it’s easier, cheaper, faster, and better. So those are those are a couple of things, a few things about what it was like then and what it’s like today. I think I did a post at one point about what I would do if I was starting brand new today. What would the first thing I would do, what would I do after that? And I don’t remember the details but it all comes down to the basics, getting good at the basics doing them consistently. repeatedly. I’m having fun with it. You know, for me, the marketing became the fun part. The law got kind of old. But the marketing was where the excitement was new ideas, new techniques, new things I could try and watching the phone ring, as a result of trying them, there’s nothing better the work eventually I hired people to do the work. And so that I didn’t have to, I could spend my time as I said earlier marketing for doing things that ultimately lead to the next stage of my my career.