Chris Smith is the brain behind Legal Marketing Group “Deep Magic Marketing.” They specialize in digital marketing and intake services for attorneys. He’s here to give us some tips for building your brand and growing your firm.

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KATIE WOLF:  Welcome to The Filevine Fireside.  I’m your host Katie Wolf and today we’re talking to Chris Smith.  Chris is the brain behind the legal marketing group Deep Magic Marketing.  They specialize in digital marketing and intake services for attorney’s and he’s here to teach us some tips for building your brand and growing your firm.  Thank you so much for meeting with us Chris.

CHRIS SMITH:  Hey, thanks so much for having me.  I’m really excited to be here Katie.

KATIE:  Absolutely.  Um, could you tell us about Deep Magic Marketing.  How is it different from just a generic marketing firm?  What makes legal marketing a special field?

CHRIS:  So we think about legal marketing a little bit different.  We try to solve the entire process of intaking clients and not just doing one or the other.  There’s a lot of companies out there that just do the intake and there’s other companies out there that just do the marketing so we’re trying to fill that void of doing everything from acquiring the case through the internet all the way down to helping our clients sign the cases up.

KATIE:  And how does that make a difference when you integrate each aspect of that line?

CHRIS:  I think it has a lot to do with aligning our goals with the law firm’s goals.  When you are aligned to acquiring cases, you’re aligned to the law firm’s goals of acquiring cases and we’re not just throwing leads over to you or passing phone calls over to you.  We really try to get all of our force behind getting that case signed and we do everything that we can.  Our intake center specialists live and breathe getting that case signed.  It’s all they really want to do and so when you can align that goal with the law firm and say, this is what we do, then I think it creates a better dynamic.

KATIE:  I want to talk more about the intake process.  If you had one secret for what makes a really good intake, what would it be?

CHRIS:  Someone who cares on the other end of the phone.  Really, I think if you have someone who picks up the phone and who cares about the situation that your potential client was just in, whether it was a car accident or whether they lost their job and they need help or they were affected by a bad drug or bad medical device, then they can really empathize with the person on the other end of the phone and build that initial trust.  And you just need someone to pick the phone up.  I mean, we did a lot of research when we first started Deep Magic where we kind of didn’t have some of our customers using our intake and we would listen to the calls with the law firm on the phone and you could just get a sense that not everyone picked up the phone the same way.  You had some people at the firm that picked up it up and they were very caring and they empathized really well and you had others who picked up because they were the last one in the call phone tree and they got the call and they just wanted to pass the phone call off as quick as possible.  I don’t know if that really affected the client, but if I were a client I think it would affect my perception of the firm right from the bat.  I think that the attorney, if that happens, has a lot hurdles to jump to get the client back into that state of trust.

KATIE:  That’s incredible.  Oftentimes we think of marketing as something that’s about gimmicks or rhetorical tricks to get someone to do something.  But you’re saying the heart of a good high-quality marketing and intake process is having that heart, is having compassion for others.

CHRIS:  I do.  I really do.  You know and we’d look at a lot of things behind the scenes and track everything that happens.  But when it comes down to it, it is the people.  It is training the person on the other end of the phone to have a heart like you said.

KATIE:  That’s incredible.  You mentioned you track everything that happens.  So, Deep Magic does a lot of real time analytics.  What are you tracking?  What data are you tracking and how do you use it once you find it?

CHRIS:  Yeah, so, I mean when we collect data, we’re collecting data straight from the advertising systems that we use.  The most prominent one out there right now is Google Ad Words, so we pull all of the data end from Google Ad Words.  It tells us really kind of preliminary information about what key words people are clicking on, what types of key words are popular in a particular geography and we pull that down and we can understand the spend aspect of our campaign and kind of what is performing well to get people to click into our page.  Once they land on our page, we have another set of analytics that tells us how many people have clicked on our call buttons, how many people have engaged in our chats, how many people have engaged through email and that all gets correlated together using some custom programming that we do on the back end.  And we pull that information that’s happening every 15-20 minutes that that data is coming in so…

KATIE:  Wow.

CHRIS:  …nothing in life is in real time but it’s as real time as we can get it.  Then what we do because we’re taking the intake, we can qualify the lead.  And we understand how that lead quality translates into a case and we know when a case is signed up so we know how much it costs to acquire the case.  If you were going to ask me what metric do you care about most?  It is the cost per case acquired.  Everything else is kind of ancillary and we’ll talk about that.  A couple of our law firms are concerned about advertising and how expensive it is and the perception of expense and so…

KATIE:  Yeah, I remember we had a conversation once where you told me that personal injury ad words on Google were some of the most expensive.

CHRIS:  Yeah, absolutely.  If you go and look at the most expensive keywords on Google, they’re in the top five.

KATIE:  Wow.

CHRIS:  And they can average anywhere from $100 to $200 a click and those firms that look at that, they’re smart.  Our law firms are very smart.  They have an ear to the ground and they know that these are expensive keywords and it may be a barrier to entry into marketing for some.  And probably if I were going to guess why, I would think that because of the fact that most of the advertising companies out there are just giving you metrics about clicks and impressions and maybe cost per call or cost per lead and email generated, they’re not getting the full picture of what it costs to acquire a case.

KATIE:  So you mentioned cost is one issue that stops some attorneys and law firms from going into marketing.  I mean there’s also just the issue that you don’t learn marketing in law school, right?

CHRIS:  Yeah.

KATIE:  And yet, you come out of law school and you’re expected to suddenly be able to do this stuff, what is your experience with working with attorneys when they’re trying to engage with this entirely other realm of practice?

CHRIS:  Well, it’s kind of interesting because, I mean, we focus on the digital marketing side but building a practice is about the business of building a business or I should say about the craft of building a business.  Marketing is one aspect and even digital marketing is one aspect.  I think if you’re going to build a successful firm you have to look at all aspects of building your business and one of those aspects is brand building, so building your own law firm brand and there’s lots of different ways to do that through billboard advertising, through radio ads, through television and that type of brand building is more of a kind of a four to five year thought thinking, right?  Because I’m investing all of this money and there’s not a real great way that I’m aware of how to track true cost per case acquired through branding practices but it’s all very important.  And then there’s the digital marketing, which we focus on, that really kind of plays into the on-demand nature of injury.  “I need an attorney right now” and that’s really kind of the space that we’re in.  And then you also have another side of the practice which is the referral side. And if you’re not thinking about all of those things, you’re kind of a one-sided firm.

KATIE:  Do you ever have to talk to your clients about some of these other aspects or do you just take your corner and run with it?

CHRIS:  We really do take our corner and run with it.

KATIE:  The rest is up to them.  They’ll figure it out (laughing).

CHRIS:  You know, I think that there’s not a whole lot of companies out there that build referral networks.  There’s tools that kind of help you keep in contact with the existing clients and tools like Mail Champ and Constant Contact and a slew of them that I don’t even want to name because there’s so many of them but those are tools that you can use to kind of send out monthly newsletters and reach out and say, “Here’s an interesting type of case that we’re taking.  Do you have any friends?”  Other firms that I’ve seen have directors of business relationships and they go out and they talk with doctors and chiropractors and people who could refer them business and they can refer business to.  And those are areas that kind of we don’t play in but it’s a practice that we’ve seen.  And then you have the brand type of businesses that you’ve seen on television and you’re going to recognize those law firms because they sponsor the evening news and they have billboards plastered all over the highways and that’s an aspect that we don’t get into.  We’re not making commercials and doing billboards, but…

KATIE:  But it sounds like you’re trying to do your part of the work, such that it could integrate into these other aspects if a firm were to have that holistic view of how to really build their firm.

CHRIS:  Absolutely.

KATIE:  What’s the kind of firm that when they come to you and want to work with you, you are so excited about working with them.

CHRIS:  We kind of like the underdog.

KATIE:  Yeah.

CHRIS:  The guys who are just hungry, right?  They’re hungry.  It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been an attorney.  You can still be a hungry attorney.  Someone who is innovative and likes to try new things.

KATIE:  You know I was thinking about the time when we used to find things in the Yellow Pages when we needed a service, we would look inside of a phone book.

CHRIS:  Yep.

KATIE:  And how different things are.  And I’m wondering do you have any sense of where things are going, what things might be like in the future?

CHRIS:  You know it’s really interesting because no one really knew at the time that the Yellow Pages were out that Google was going to be there.  But that search engines in general were going to take over how people find things and I don’t know what the next frontier is but you can get a sense right now that the frontier is definitely in the social media and in apps.  It’s definitely surrounding the mobile phone in how people are interacting and finding things now. They shop online, they talk to their friends online, you know everything about their life is surrounding their mobile phone.  And I don’t know who is going to emerge as the leader in that space but there’s so many right now.

KATIE:  So a lot of law firms are trying to figure out right now how to do social media right. What’s your engagement or thoughts on social media?

CHRIS:  Yeah, I think that social media right now is getting there.  Right?  I think of social media and advertising on social media a lot like driving down the highway where you’re interacting with your feed a lot like you’re driving down the highway and you get presented with a sponsored ad on social media just like you get presented with an ad on the highway.  It’s a little bit better because you can somewhat target your ads based on interest or based on the fact that they’ve been to your website before.  There’s a few things that you can do.  You can target age and demographics and things like that but it is really kind of like, here is my ad.  If you happen upon it and this is what you were looking for, great.  Versus like a Google where someone is actually looking for a car accident attorney or a personal injury attorney or a worker’s compensation attorney and your ad pops up, it’s very relevant and I click on it and I can call you.  So I think that in general I don’t know if those social media companies know really what to do with that data yet.

KATIE:  Right, because if I’m in a car accident and I urgently need an attorney, I’m not gonna…

CHRIS:  You’re not really going to Facebook.

KATIE:  …my Facebook feed doesn’t show that I’m interested in personal injury attorneys.

CHRIS:  Yeah, it doesn’t.  It doesn’t.  And they haven’t really figured out how to help me get in front of you yet.  And I think they have the opportunity to do that and I know there’s a couple of companies out there who have built out these social media data warehouses and they can mine the data for things that you’ve talked about and things that you’ve mentioned in your posts and you can get in front of them with the data that you get from there but you have to worry about non-solicitation laws for attorneys for sure.

KATIE:  Yeah, that’s interesting.  Well, keep us updated on that issue.

CHRIS:  Yeah.  We have clients using it and they get good results.  It’s just a little bit different how you have to approach it for sure.

KATIE:  Do you want to talk at all about other ethics issues when it comes to marketing for attorneys?  Are there a lot of danger areas you have to watch out for?

CHRIS:  I think the big one is the non-solicitation.  So, I can’t talk to you unless you have given me permission to contact you.  And that permission is either done through email or chat or you calling us.  That’s permission.  On all of our website forms that we have people fill out, we’re making sure that they understand that by filling this form out you’re giving us permission to contact you.  Those are the only kind of legal ramifications that I’m aware of for marketing in the legal space.

KATIE:  Mm hmm.  You mentioned that for your clients who are (inaudible) attorneys, a lot of the time when someone is contacting you it’s because of some disaster.  And this has been sort of a disaster filled few months, everything from hurricanes to mass shootings and I know that Deep Magic specializes in having rapid responses in moments of those community catastrophes.  Do you want to share any stories of dealing with those issues?

CHRIS:  Yes, so we’ve had a couple of firms that have been with us for a while and one of them is based in Florida.  They do a lot of things forward facing in the community.  And when Hurricane Irma came through Florida, they really saw kind of this opportunity to help their fellow community members with property damage claims surrounding Hurricane Irma.  And we together with them came up with a campaign and we put out a Hurricane Irma crisis hotline and we targeted it around people who were kind of in a situation where they weren’t getting the money that they needed to fix their homes that got flooded, wind damage and things like that.  The insurance companies come in there and they hire their own adjustors and they’re working for the insurance companies and they take their fees out of that, you know those claim amounts and then the homeowner doesn’t have enough money to actually fix what needs to be fixed on their homes.  So, we were able to do that.

KATIE:  What other kinds of attorneys have you worked with?  Do you have stories of bringing in some marketing savvy can change a firm?

CHRIS:  Yeah, we worked with an attorney that had just opened their doors and they found us, right?  And there wasn’t any kind of baggage on either end, right?  They didn’t have a process in place.  They didn’t have an intake team.  It was really neat because in the space of about eight to ten months I was getting text messages from the attorney saying, “You’re killing me.  You’re overloading me.  And I’ve got to hire another case manager and I’ve got to hire this and that.”  These were good and bad texts, right?  And then we looked at kind of where we were getting cases from and they actually opened another office that directly serviced the area where they were getting the most cases and hired another attorney to be in that office.  It’s been really fun to work with all of our firms but this one was a really fun one.

KATIE:  One of those hungry ones?

CHRIS:  Yeah, one of those hungry ones.

KATIE:  So what would be any last words or tips that you would give to those hungry attorneys out there that are maybe just trying to figure out their marketing strategy.

CHRIS:  Yeah, you know a couple of things that I would just throw out there is look at your intake personnel.  If you have the front desk answering the phones, make sure the front desk person is the right person, right?  If they’re not the right person, get someone.  Hire someone part time or someone who, that’s all they think about is I’m going to answer the phone and I’m going to be happy about answering it.  The next thing you want to do is make sure you have your metrics right and look at the right ones you know.  Look at cost per click, cost per call, cost per email and your total advertising budget.  That’s all important.  But I think the real metric that you want to look at is the cost per case acquired.  And then look at kind of how you can be innovative.  How you can start dabbling in these new emerging technologies and if it makes sense for you, certain case types and certain geographies, social media may work.  And certain ones may not.  But get out there and be innovative and look for companies that can be innovative with you if you’re going to partner with someone.

KATIE:  That’s great.  Have a heart for your clients.  Have a brain for your metrics.  Have vision for your future.

CHRIS:  Exactly.  That’s great.

KATIE:  Trademarked.

CHRIS:  I love it.

KATIE:  Well, Chris, it’s been great talking with you.  Thank you so much for coming and talking with us.

CHRIS:  It’s been a real pleasure.  Thanks for having me.

KATIE:  This has been The Filevine Fireside.  I’m Katie Wolf. We’ll see you next week.