Halloween Podcast Series Episode 10 – How to Vanquish the “Budget Bully” and the “Strangler”

Halloween Podcast Series <span>Episode 10 &#8211; How to Vanquish the &#8220;Budget Bully&#8221; and the &#8220;Strangler&#8221;<span>

Hello, this is Richard Jacobs with Speakeasy Authority Marketing and Jacobs & Whitehall. We are getting there; it is day 10 of the monsters that are set upon devouring your business. You’ve got to stop them. We’ve gone through a whole bunch of them and there are more. You just wouldn’t believe it, they keep coming, and I want you to know about them.

Today, we are on our last marketing monster: the budget bully. Then, we are going to get into a whole new genre of monsters. These are staff, family, and friend monsters, which are sometimes the worst of all. Within this group, we’ve got the strangler.

First, we’ve got the budget bully. This could be a CPA or financial advisor, someone in your firm, or someone who has nothing to do with your firm. They are a bully, and they are always crying, “Oh, it’s not in the budget. We have money budgeted for that and you can’t spend any more than the budget.” Are budgets smart to have? Of course, they are; they are prudent, but what if you budget a certain amount of money for marketing activity and things are going well and you’ve found marketing methods that work? Yelp, SEO, Facebook, or whatever it is maybe working for you and you may start getting clients and things may start getting better. Are you going to stop marketing and putting more money in that because your budget says you can’t go over it?

I’ve literally run into firms that say, “Oh well, my CPA told me the rule is I shouldn’t spend more than 10 percent of my money on marketing. So, I’m going to have to pull back or shut the marketing down.” That’s just stupid; it’s ignorant. CPAs and financial advisors know what they know, but they are not running your law firm and they certainly don’t do marketing.

That’s not their bailiwick…they look at numbers. Cold, hard cash, ratios, percentages, etc. That’s great to have and you definitely want to listen to that stuff, but should there be an exception? Does this budget make any sense, or is it just an arbitrary number?

If you say “I want to spend $1,000 on Pay-Per-Click and that’s all I am spending,” well it may take $2,000 a month, but if you make $7,000 with it, is that a good return? If things are working and you have a chance to spend $4,000 or $5,000 a month, you may think, “My God,” but if you are making close to $20,000 a month and spending $5,000 a month, who cares? It’s like a gumball machine, where you put a quarter in and two quarters pop out or 100 gumballs pop out.

How many times do you want to use that machine? As much as possible. The same is true with marketing. Obviously, you have to have the discipline, you have to test and track, and you have to look at what you are doing to make sure it makes financial sense. That’s key, but budgets with solid numbers that don’t care about reality and changing conditions and all that are stupid.

Imagine if you stuck to your 2020 budget and then the coronavirus crisis hit, and the whole world turned upside down and inside out. If you stick with your budgets and your numbers, what do you think is going to happen to you? Things could go really well or you could be out of business very quickly because this year there’s been major upset, which I don’t need to explain to you. Some people have gotten rich, and some people have withered and died on the vine. Things have changed big time.

Budget is a static thing that you must not be a slave to, and especially if you are being advised by someone who is not in your business day-to-day. Again, there’s nothing wrong with them, but CPAs, accountants, financial planners, and other people who are not in your business and know nothing about marketing and nothing about your real numbers are the people you want to avoid because they are bullies. They always cry, “Oh, it’s not in the budget,” or “We are not going to review a new budget until Q1.” Well, we have an opportunity now, and if we can’t take advantage of it, it’s a big problem.

On the other hand, budgets are great guidelines, so watch out if you are spending your allocated three months in a certain area and the budget is being chewed up in the first month. That would tell you something is wrong, and something is not working numerically like you thought it would. If that’s the case, then you can adjust. Use budgets as guides; don’t let them bully you.

Now, we are going to get to the first of the staff, family, and friend monsters. This is the strangler. The strangler can be an older attorney who squashes or quashes all of your ideas and says “No, we can’t do that. That’s not how we do things here.” Or, it could be a partner, husband, wife, secretary, or someone who has been there for a long time and just resists change and resists any ideas you have. Maybe you’ve gone to a seminar or you’ve listened to some of my podcasts or another marketer, and you want to try a new form of marketing and they just say, “No, you can’t do that,” or “That’s not going to work, that’s going to make us look bad, and it’s not professional.”

They are just a strangler. Any idea that comes, they grab it by the neck and choke it to death; they don’t let it have even a breath of life. Stranglers are bad news. Some stranglers do it because they are trying to help, but oftentimes it’s because they have their own motivations that you may not be aware of. An admin or a secretary won’t want to change. They just want to be left alone and get their pay.

Maybe they are close to retiring, maybe they have three kids at home and a husband or a wife that drives them crazy and the kids needs braces and they are having money troubles at home, and now you want them to engage in this new activity where they have to work more hours and not be paid, or they feel like it’ll endanger the firm and they are going to say “No” to all the ideas and resist them as much as possible. That’s one kind of strangler.

Again, there could be an older attorney, let’s say Bob, who is already a partner or has been in it for 35 years and he has two or three years until he is out the door. Do you think Bob wants to try anything new? You’ve been in the firm for three years and you want to do things differently, and Bob says, “Hey, we are a white shoe firm. We don’t even market. We don’t do those kinds of things, and I’m not going to approve anything that has to do with social media or SEO because based on my past experience, that stuff just doesn’t work.

We are not trying it.” These people are stranglers. They don’t listen and they don’t give you a chance to prove your ideas; they just strangle the ideas in the cradle and they never get anywhere. You’ve got to be really careful around them. You may not be able to extricate yourself from their purview, and that’s a problem. That’s a longer-term conversation.

You also always want to set yourself up to be free and autonomous so that you can make your own decisions. But sometimes the strangler can be your spouse, and any idea you give them, they say “Hey, you’ve put this family through a lot and you’ve tried a lot of things these past few years, and a lot of them didn’t work out. I’m not comfortable with you doing this.” Sometimes it’s for a good reason; they want to protect the family, they have more of a preservation mindset than a mindset like you, and they may be giving you good counsel.

If you find someone in your firm, in your family, or a friend who just strangles all your ideas, look out for that and ask yourself, “What’s their real motivation for doing this? Why are they so intent on killing everything I talk to them about? Do they really know what they are talking about or are they just trying to strangle everything?”
Be careful of these two monsters I’ve described to you because they are insidious.

It may not be obvious what they are doing and what their real motivations are, but they can kill a practice, make you unhappy, ruin your career, or prevent you from getting anywhere. Keep your eyes peeled; danger can lurk anywhere.

Richard Jacobs

About Richard Jacobs

My name is Richard Jacobs, and I've discovered quite a bit about the plight of solo practitioners and small, 2-5 attorney firms like yours these past 12 years.

I've come to understand the unique challenges in marketing ethically and effectively that attorneys face because I have:

  • Helped over 180 attorneys author their own practice area book and become the 'implied expert' in their practice area
  • Helped hundreds of attorneys successfully navigate Google's search algorithm changes, growing their websites from 2 potential clients calling a month to 4+ calls per DAY for some clients.
  • Interviewed and promoted over 507 attorneys nationwide, in practice areas such as:
  • DUI / DWI
  • Family Law
  • Criminal Defense
  • Bankruptcy
  • Auto Accidents
  • Social Security Disability
  • Slip & Falls (Premises Liability)
  • Real Estate
  • Estate Planning / Probate
  • Wage and Hour Claims
  • Expungements / Post Conviction Relief

Before you decide to invest in your marketing, it makes sense to first request your complimentary, custom, no obligation video website review.

Richard is the author of 6 books published on Amazon, Kindle and Audible.com

Richard is available for speaking engagements on direct marketing for attorneys and has recently spoken at the following legal conferences:

  • PILMMA (Personal Injury Lawyers Marketing & Management Association)
  • Las Vegas DUI Summit – Private event for DUI attorneys
  • New York Boutique Lawyers Association
  • Perry Marshall & Associates Marketing Academy (Marina Del Rey, CA)
  • National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL)