Halloween Podcast Series Episode 8 – The “Paid Lead Pusher” and the “Hopeium Dealer”

Halloween Podcast Series <span>Episode 8 &#8211; The &#8220;Paid Lead Pusher&#8221; and the &#8220;Hopeium Dealer&#8221;</span>

Hello, this is Richard Jacobs with Jacobs & Whitehall and Speakeasy Authority Marketing. We’re going to continue on a quest to uncover all the monsters that affect attorneys and their law firms, especially during this time of Halloween. We’ve gone through a bunch of client monsters, and we’re well into the marketing monsters.

Today, I want to tell you about two of them: the paid leads pusher and the new client hopium dealer, both similar but distinct, and both terrible for your practice. The paid leads pusher is someone that hawks pay-per-click and paying for leads, and it sounds attractive when they first do it. They say, “Oh, it’s only $50 per lead, and if you don’t like the lead, you can challenge it and email us back and we’ll credit you some of the leads if they qualify.”

Only get leads in your area, only pay for what you need, etc.? It sounds wonderful but I used to be in this business. It is a tough business and a lot of the attorneys who do it are new. There may be other ones who really want clients immediately, and they want that hit right away. They can’t wait for SEO and don’t want to wait to build referral systems or do follow up or any of that. They need that hit—that crack hit right now.

It seems like paid leads are simple, but there are problems you may not know about, and the paid lead pushers won’t tell you about them. This is because they want to hook you on their drugs; the moment you stop paying, the leads go away. It’s not like SEO, which is like muscle building. If you build a muscle, you build up health, so if you don’t go to the gym one day, you don’t fall to pieces. With paid leads, if you don’t pay the bill, the service gets turned off. That’s it, no more leads, and then you’re left stuck. This can happen. It has happened to many attorneys.

Another thing is it makes you dependent on that crack hit; you have to get that lead, and you have to be Johnny-on-the-spot and call that lead immediately. What a lot of these companies do, even if they tell you it’s exclusive, is resell leads to other attorneys. Do you know why? Because some attorneys who are bad about answering their phone or answering texts will complain that all the leads are garbage. It’s the attorneys fault, not the lead providers fault. I used to have to do this sometimes.

You would allow people to pay a lot more for exclusive leads, and if they didn’t convert them, they wouldn’t stay a client very long. Or, you would have to offer the leads to other people after a few minutes if the first attorney didn’t answer because that lead is going to be calling and Googling and looking and all that after filling in a form; they’re not just filling in a form and waiting for you to get back to them. That’s not how people are today. They want instant results too. They are addicted to their own crack.

What this does is put you on call 24/7. You may want to get leads only during office hours, but sometimes it doesn’t work like that. If you’re paying for them, then you’re paranoid about every lead that you don’t answer, so you always have to be Johnny-on-the-spot and answer that phone. If you’re at dinner, if you’re hanging out with your spouse, if you’re going for a walk, you can never rest, which is terrible.

What if you’re on a Zoom session or in court and you can’t answer? If you don’t have an answering service that does a good job and if you’re not on top of these leads 24/7, 365, they’ll pass you by. Then, you’ll want credit for the lead and you’ll have fights with the companies that provide them. This is both sides of the coin. Paid leads make you impatient. It’s like using social media; you become addicted and your attention span becomes very short. You’re always looking for that next lead. If you land a client, you may celebrate for five seconds, but then another call is coming, and another and another…and you tend to just turn into a crack addict.

Paid lead pushers are bad news. It’s not a way to build a law practice. It’ll take you out of the mindset of doing a good job because you’ll always be looking for that next hit. It stops you from pursuing referral strategies. It even leads to people building up huge receivables in certain industries, like bankruptcy, because even if clients aren’t paying the bills, they’re thinking, “Hmm, I’m just going to get more clients and that’ll pay the bills, that’ll fix it.” They pay no attention to the real running, honing, and optimization of their business; they’re just looking for that next crack hit. Don’t let the paid lead pushers push you around.

Another thing to consider is that the quality of their leads may not be very good. I’m going to be very frank with you: we used to deal with all the paid lead providers, and the average was three in 10 leads were viable. That was the max. The rest were ghosts, not qualified, in the wrong practice area, wrong geography, freebie seekers, or something else was wrong with them.

If you’re paying $50 a lead, that really means you’re paying $150 per viable lead, approximately. You are not paying $50 a lead. But if you close one in 10, which is the average we saw (and remember, I delivered over 35,000 DUI leads years ago when I ran myduiattorney.org, so I know the numbers and the average attorney converted one in 10), then you need to know that you’re not paying $50 a client, you’re paying $50 a lead. In reality, if you close one in 10, it’s $500 to get a client, which is not so bad, considering other marketing avenues.

I’m not saying don’t do paid leads, but please do not make it what you depend on, because you’re just headed down a bad path that will destroy your business and your ability to be patient and build a real, sustainable law practice—not one that’s hooked like this.

Let’s talk about the new client hopium dealer. Everyone wants new clients, and everyone wants more clients. Unfortunately, no one really wants to squeeze the juice out of the lead flow they’re already getting. They think the grass is greener, and they want to chase new and exciting things; this is human nature, and I feel the exact same way.

Once books have been on my desk for a month, I’m not really interested in reading them. But when I get a new one in the mail, I take it out of its packaging and I want to read it. It’s just human nature. That’s how it is. The new and the unknown is always exciting. There are plenty of marketers who know hopium is one of the most addictive drugs out there, so they’ll pitch you and sell you on all kinds of stuff. They will say they’re going to unleash a flood of new business into your practice and that you’re going to get three more clients a week or 12 more clients a month.

Reality check: all you need to do is pay this service, and all of a sudden, your practice is going to double or triple? It’s just not going to happen, I’m sorry. When we talk about results, we give you realistic expectations. I’m not saying just hire us, I’m just saying have realistic expectations. You may get a 10 to 15 percent bump in the first six months with our service, and if you’re with our service for a year, you may get 30 or 50 percent bump. That’s significant.

If you’re making $500,000 a year gross and netting $150,000 in your law office and I bump you up 50 percent, that’s a huge deal. That’s a lot more money than you were getting. Very reasonably, 10 to 15 percent can mean several thousand more a month, and one or two more clients a month.

For most attorneys, that’s pretty significant. One more client a month in family law could mean $5,000 more a month. In DUI, it could mean $3,000 to $5,000 a month, and in personal injury, it could mean $10,000 because you wouldn’t take a case smaller than that. In bankruptcy, it might mean $1,500. In business law, if you’re negotiating a commercial lease or doing a business entity formation or business strategy, it could mean many thousands over time with repeat business.

It is the same thing with estate planning, since an estate plan may be several thousand dollars. It’s significant. You don’t need huge numbers and I don’t want you to be seduced by marketing companies that tell you they have an easy button and that they do it all for you, you’re going to get new clients, and you don’t have to do any work. It’s just hopium; it’s bullshit, to be frank.

Whenever you do marketing—and I am being 100 percent straight with you—you can’t just sit back and turn it on and let it run while you do nothing. No marketing works for attorneys works like that. I’ve been doing this for 11 years and have worked with well over 1,000 attorneys personally, and believe me, either I’m the dumbest person in the world and I don’t know what I’m talking about, or I know what reality is; unfortunately, the reality is that you do have to put in some work.

If whoever you work with to get the best results just hands you that pipe and has you smoke the hopium, you’re not going to get new clients. It’s just not going to happen. I’m very sorry to tell you, I’ve had to work really hard on Speakeasy to make it what it is today.

Again, I’ve been at this for 11 years. There have been many times when I got stuck at a certain client level, and it took me months to grow beyond it. I wanted to give up many times, and I decided, I’m going to go back into the pit and slug it out and figure this out. When I did, I rose to the next level of sophistication, money, and success. You must do the same thing. You cannot smoke the hopium, and if a marketer is going to promise you all kinds of stuff, you really need to look into the details and take personal responsibility for working with them.

These two drug-dealer-esque monsters are powerful and seductive, but they really won’t put you on the path to success and they may actually ruin you for other marketers. You may say you’ve been burned four, five, or six times and you don’t trust anyone anymore. You know what? To be 100 percent frank, you have to take on part of that responsibility and ask yourself, “What part of this was my fault?” I’m not saying you were foolish and that you shouldn’t have worked with any marketing companies. I’m asking whether you put in the work. Did you really look at things and build systems and processes to see how the marketing fits into your world, determine what kind of cases you want, and tailor and develop the content?

If you did all that, then you can fairly say you’ve been burned. But as one person told me, “You can’t cheat an honest man.” If that phrase makes any sense to you, “You can’t burn an earnest attorney” is how I’d rephrase it for you. Take heed of these two monsters because they are bad news and there are much better, more wholesome, holistic, and muscle-building ways to build your 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)