Halloween Podcast Series Episode 5 – The “Canary” and the “Brand Barbarian”

Halloween Podcast Series <span>Episode 5 &#8211; The &#8220;Canary&#8221; and the &#8220;Brand Barbarian&#8221;</span>

Good evening. This is Richard Jacobs with Speakeasy Authority Marketing, and Jacobs & Whitehall. Today is day five of the monsters that affect attorneys and their law practices. There are many monsters out there, and I’ve identified 26 of them; that’s why you get two a day for 13 unlucky days of these audio broadcasts. You have to know about these monsters, you have to be aware of them, and you have to keep them away from your practice.

If you find one in and amongst your practice, you have to do everything you can to put a stake through their heart to stop them from destroying you, because they will intentionally, unintentionally, willfully, happily, accidentally do it. Watch out.

Today is the last of the client monsters: the canary. Then we’re going to start on the marketing monsters, the first of which I call the branding barbarian. Today is a bit of a mix of one last client monster, and one marketing and promotion monster.

We’ll start with the canary. As you know, in the old story of the canary and the coal mine, the canary sings when the toxic gases in the mine start to build up, and this alerts the miners so that they don’t die. Unfortunately, canaries love to sing. They just love to do it. What is the canary in terms of a client? It’s a client that won’t shut up.

It’s a client that’s pulled over by police for who knows what, maybe their tail light is out, and they blab so much that they somehow end up getting a DUI. Or, they’re in a divorce situation and they can’t help but post stuff all over social media, talk to their friends, or text their soon-to-be ex-spouse or his or her friends and just put their dirty laundry out in the street for everyone to see.

These people are very hard to defend because they sing to everybody. They’re canaries, they put their foot in their mouth because of it, and they can ruin a case that’s going really well. You want to watch out for them and prevent them from singing to everyone. You have to say to them, “Do NOT talk to anyone about your case.” I’m not telling you how to practice law by any means; you are far more experienced than I am. That’s fine. I’m just telling you to watch out for these kinds of clients and to know the kind of damage they can do.

Undoubtedly, you’ve had clients in your past who acted like this. I’m here to tell you that regardless of your area of law if it’s a will contest, or some kind of estate planning, you don’t want a canary revealing what’s going on with the estate and what the plans are, or what’s in the will or what’s happening with Uncle Joe that’s about to pass in a week.

You don’t want them talking and ruining your ability to defend them. If they’re in a personal injury case, and they actually are injured or they’re alleging they’re injured, you don’t want pictures of them on the golf course, videos of them at some party, or Facebook posts of them waterskiing, because it’ll ruin the case. You don’t want them singing to everyone, literally showing that they’re actually in perfectly fine health and can work.

Regardless of the area of law—whether you’re in family law, criminal defense, estate planning, business law, or whatever it may be—the canary sings, and everyone listens in. You know that prosecutors and other attorneys scour social media and that it’s a gold mine of information. They can subpoena emails and phone calls and text messages that canaries love to broadcast on all the time and screw up their case. You need to advise your clients right at the beginning not to do this.

If you suspect you’ve got a canary, you’ve got to have a staff member or yourself check all their social media and everything that they post, continuously. When you have a client that you suspect is a canary or has a very sensitive case, I would assemble a list of their social media channels and the ways they communicate, and regularly scan them for trouble, for songs from the canary. Have they left any voicemails? Have they sent any text messages? Do they use any apps like Snapchat? If they do sing and send something out, you want to try to pull that thing down immediately and contain the damage.

Canaries are very dangerous and can turn against you when the case is over. If things went well, they may sing about it and write you a great review. If things didn’t go well, or even if you think things went well and they just feel like talking, they may blab on about you and your firm in the wrong way. You don’t want to be represented like that, so you must be very careful in managing these kinds of people. I’m not talking about a sweet little small canary; I’m imagining Tweety Bird when he drank that potion and grew to be six feet tall and became a monster. That’s the kind of canary I’m talking about; true monsters that affect your practice. Watch out.

Now we’re going to get into the marketing monsters. Marketing monsters include marketing channels, marketing sales reps, SEO companies, etc., and while they may have your best interests at heart, the things that they tell you to do in your law practice may not be a good idea. You have to be aware because there are many marketing monsters out there. The first one is the branding barbarian. The branding barbarian could be someone who works for you or could be your marketing company and they’re all about branding.

They’ll give you ideas and point to large brands like Coca-Cola or Facebook and say you have to get your name out there. They will say people have to see your name 100 times, and they’re going to be the ones encouraging you to do billboards on the highway or bus stop benches or make sure you’re at the top of Google, and make sure you’re posting on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter every day. They’re all about branding; they want you to look beautiful, they want you to have beautiful business cards, beautiful websites, and everything must look absolutely perfect. They’re obsessed with the brand.

Do you know what creates the brand? People who actually hire you and use your services and are represented by you. The way you treat them and the way you work with them is your brand. A brand isn’t just something that you decide it is; a brand is the overall experience of all of your customers. If you provide great service, if you go to 5,10, or 15 hearings, and if you’re accessible to clients all the time, then they’ll know and communicate that, and that will be your brand. You could even communicate that what your clients say is your brand.

You’ve got to be very careful with people who talk about branding. Here’s another reason why these monsters don’t care about your budget. Branding takes a lot of money. If you want to be like Coca-Cola or Doritos, you have to spend millions and millions of dollars, and you don’t have it. I don’t have it. We have to be smart. We have to be direct marketers. We have to get direct response, and go for advertising where we know how many clicks we get, how many calls we get, and how many emails we get. If we spend $100 to get an email and one in five of those turns into a client, that means $500 to get a client from this particular source of marketing. Or, if we spend $85 on Google Pay-Per-Click to get a call, and one in 10 calls are a good client, that means we spent $850 on Pay-Per-Click to get a $4,000 client.

Great. It’s worth it. But we know our numbers. We don’t focus on branding. We don’t do ads where there’s no way to contact us. There’s no reason for doing so, because there’s no urgency, no nothing. This is the way I’ve learned to market. This is what works.

Branding may come way down the road if you’re making millions of dollars. But for the most part, it’s a waste of money. When I look at these big firms that are everywhere and spending all this money on billboards and TV, they do make a lot of money, but their overhead is huge. When things like the coronavirus situation come about, they’re some of the first to drown because they have such high expenses and their clients dry up; they’re dead, and their debt and their monthly net is a tsunami that comes to drown them very quickly.

The branding barbarian is very strong. He wants to beat you up and muscle his way into your practice and tell you what to do and beat down your gates. You can’t listen to him or her because they don’t know what they’re talking about, and I stand by what I say.

This is day five of the monsters that affect law practices and attorneys. Take heed. Tomorrow is day six. We’re going to get deeper into the marketing monsters that can easily disrupt and destroy your law practice.

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)