On Business

Hobby Lobby: a Blow for Liberty and Freedom

Yesterday the Supreme Court of United States decided the Hobby Lobby case.

The court ruled that “closely held” companies can use religious objections to avoid covering contraception in employee health benefit plans. The court decided the case essentially based upon the employer’s “right” to the “free exercise of its religion”. Opponents of the case object that “employers should not deprive employees of preventive health care.”

Unfortunately the law is now a real mess. Creating or changing laws based upon “religious freedom” means that no one will really know until a case winds its way through the courts (taking years and costing a ton) what the law means. This decision will lead to all sorts of litigation over such issues as:

  1. Is this a “real” religion
  2. Are the purported beliefs “firmly held”
  3. What if the employer’s religion object to blood transfusions, antidepressants or the like?

This was totally unnecessary.

What the court should have said is this:

  1. An employer is FREE to make a job offering to the public if it feels that it needs additional employees.
  2. That employer is FREE to set the terms of engagement-What wages it will pay-What days and hours you’re expected to work-What benefits (If any) it will offer-What uniform may be required, etc
  3. Anyone who is looking for a job is FREE to apply for the job. They’re also FREE to not apply for the job.
  4. If a job seeker does not like the (1) wages, (2) hours they are expected to work, (3) benefits being offered by the employer or (4) anything else about the job that is being offered then that job seeker is FREE to look elsewhere for a job or start their own business.

There you go: Total Freedom to decide, using your own mind, what is best for YOU. No government intervention necessary. No rights violated. No one has prevented you from acting in your own interest. No ambiguity. No litigation.


Referral Marketing – How Really Smart People Do It

I don’t think I’ve ever heard a single business owner not agree with this statement: “the best clients or customers come from referrals.” Hopefully, that has been your experience, too. But let me ask you this: do you have a system in place for getting referrals? A real system. Not just leaving it to random chance. Not just thanking folks when they do refer. Having an honest-to-goodness system in place for getting them.

Here are some keys to a good referral system that any business could use. I also recommend The Referral Engine by John Jantsch.

(1)    Your referral sources need to know what you do and who your perfect client or customer is. It doesn’t help anyone if the folks being referred to you are, indeed, bad referrals to you. But that is your fault. YOU didn’t communicate to your sources who would be a great referral.

(2)    Best way to do that is to publish and distribute your book. In the Virginia Beach, VA, area, attorney Charlie Hofheimer gets a ton of referrals from marriage counselors. Charlie wrote What Every Virginia Woman Needs to Know About Divorce. They can’t screw up the message in making the referral because the message is, “Here, read this book; you might find it valuable.” Charlie’s sources don’t have to tell Charlie’s story at all. Nothing to get confused about.

(3)    Your referral sources need to be getting something from you as often as the rest of your tribe does. In fact, this argues for perhaps a special newsletter just for those who refer. If they are business owners, maybe you are sending them a marketing tip of the week/month. Attorney  John Fisher in New York does this very well. In fact, his marketing for his medical malpractice work is exclusively teaching personal injury attorneys how to build their own practices. He even conducts seminars on handling medical malpractice cases. He invites them in for dinner and show and tell.

(4)    At every opportunity, you can be celebritizing your referral sources. Some other small business in your area doing something cool?  Let your folks see articles about them in your newsletter. Have access to some decent video equipment or a studio? Bring them in and do a “show” where you interview them. Here’s an example where I interview  social security disability attorney Sharon Christie.

Make sure you get to know the staff of other professionals or business owners. These are the folks on the front lines and likely are the folks actually giving your name out! It’s not that hard to systematize something like a bagel delivery program to them!

Video Marketing – But Not THAT Kind of Video

I’ll bet you didn’t know that after our fourth child was born, I decided that the four kids and a dog made for “enough.” So, not knowing what to do with myself, I took up two new avocations: golf and piano. I had never played either as a youngster and was starting from scratch (really). I’d go out at dawn and play by myself on a course so that I wouldn’t (1) embarrass myself or (2) kill someone should I actually hit the ball. In piano, I did embarrass myself playing several recitals where I was the only one older than 15. In both golf and piano, I took lessons, read books and bought and watched DVDs to get better.

I actually tracked down books and articles about the science of learning and performing. I wanted the formula for success. (Hopefully, now that you know me, that does not surprise you.) When Matt (now 13) came along, both the golf and the piano went by the wayside. As most of you know, we then went on to adopt four from China. One of them picks at the piano now and then. But I still like listening to the piano, so my attention was drawn to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal about a popular classical pianist, Valentina Lisitsa.

It seems that Ms. Lisitsa has become very famous through her YouTube videos. Fifty-five million views famous! Playing in sold-out concerts, famous because of her videos.

Lawyers sometimes tell me either that (1) they don’t want to give away too many answers to questions out of fear that people won’t hire them and pay them to answer questions or that (2) they can’t think of what to say. In a typical week, I get into my very own video studio at least once. Just recently, I went into the studio and, in less than one hour, produced 10 videos designed to market one of my 13 satellite offices, three other med/mal and three more disability videos. I also shot three episodes of my LiveLifeBig TV program.

This has been huge for my law practice. In case you haven’t noticed, YouTube is a search engine.

Now, here’s something cool: most lawyer videos on YouTube are crappy.  [here's my parody of the world's worst lawyer advertising video.] The crappiest ones are not the “homemade” in the office, bad lighting and poor audio ones. No. They are bad, but the crappiest videos on the planet are those where you can tell the lawyer spent a bundle with some big web firm to “do videos”…you know the ones I’m talking about: They are taken in front of the stack of books in the library and they follow this script:

  • “We handle a wide variety of personal injury cases. This includes motor vehicle* accidents, slip and fall cases and premises liability* cases”
  • “If your case is compensable* it means that someone else caused the harm”
  • “What we do at the [name] law firm is to make sure that our clients get the best possible results.”
  • “We can do this because we have been practicing for a combined 25 years.”
  • “We treat each client like they are our only client”
  • “It’s important to hire a law firm like ours.”

I cringe every time I see an expensive video done using THAT script. It’s awful because it’s what everyone says and there’s no reason for a consumer to use anything other than a dart board to choose who to call first. (*Really – who talks like that for real?)

Video Marketing for Your Northern Virginia Small Business

Most small businesses have discovered the power of video marketing. It’s huge when done correctly.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of “video companies” out there that are willing to take your money. Sure, they do a fine job on production but they know nothing about what works in marketing your practice.

I’m going to show you two things to day that you may find helpful.

Here’s a post I wrote recently about video marketing for your business that was directed to the lawyers across the United States and Canada that I coach. The principles I talk about are transferable to your business.

Here are some samples of the different types of video that we have created in our studio in Fairfax.

By the way, if you are interested in having videos done for your Northern Virginia business, contact us. We DO know marketing AND video.

What You Can Learn from My Attorney MasterMind Group (Part 2)

Yesterday we looked at some of the habits, behaviors and mindsets of the most successful attorneys in my Great Legal Marketing Mastermind Group.

Here are some more:

  1. Several have green screen studios built into their offices. One has a videographer come once each week to shoot an hour or so of video to be edited and published that week.
  2. They’ve published not one, but MULTIPLE books.
  3. They mail newsletters. Written newsletters. Some are turning past issues into books!
  4. They are “ruthless” employers. (“Ruthless” does not mean you are a jerk. “Ruthless” means you are running a business, not a charity.) They fire folks who are not superstars, knowing they can be a superstar – just at someone else’s business.
  5. They listen to experts who know more about a subject than they do. Many don’t hire without talking to Jay Henderson. Most have Foster Web Marketing websites.
  6. A few hit bumps last year – hurt mainly by changes in the law or by local court procedures in their jurisdictions. They didn’t wait for someone to rescue them. They sought advice, implemented changes, and took charge of their practices. As a result, their ships were righted.
  7. They have written systems for running their offices and for marketing.
  8. They are genuinely curious people. They are constantly on the lookout OUTSIDE the legal industry for good ideas.
  9. They are life-long learners.
  10. They are immune from the criticism of those not qualified to criticize.
  11. They hang out with winners.

What You Could Learn from My Attorney MasterMind Group (Part 1)

Besides being a direct influence to thousands of attorneys in the United States and Canada (and a handful world-wide), I get to work one-on-one with a bunch of the top legal marketing minds in the country. These folks, called my MasterMind group, have some of the most lucrative, fun and successful practices of any in the country. We meet in person several times a year to exchange high-level, confidential “insider” information about getting more clients and running better businesses. (Yes, the group is area exclusive and very expensive to join.)

Without disclosing any of their specific secret strategies, I can profile for you some of their thinking and behavior. It’s worth modeling!

  1. They are nice people. They are all self-sufficient and self-confident, but there are no arrogant SOBs in the group. I remarked to one member how one thing I hated about most lawyer conferences is that much of the “in the hall” conversation was about “my great case where I won a million dollars and let me tell you how great I am.” None of that here. These guys and gals are humble.
  2. They make lists, set goals, and attack them. Funny, how some remarked after they presented how they “just weren’t doing enough” even though what they had just talked about would blow away 99% of lawyers.
  3. They are not afraid to talk about their “bad ideas,” what went wrong, and to ask the group how they could be improved upon.
    Almost all of them have marketing assistants, either part time or full time. Some have a couple of ‘em.
  4. They track everything they can. These folks have many URLs and tons of tracking numbers. Nothing gets spent on advertising unless it can be tracked.
  5. Many use Infusionsoft to manage their marketing.
  6. Several have green screen studios built into their offices. One has a videographer come once each week to shoot an hour or so of video to be edited and published that week.

I’ll add to this list tomorrow

Do You Think McDonald’s is In the Fast Food Business?

What Business Are You Really In?

This is a great question that my business mentor, Dan Kennedy, forces his students to ask themselves.

McDonald’s recognized early on that it was not in the fast food business as much as it is in the real estate and entertainment businesses. Sure, they sell a lot of hamburgers and french fries, but the money is in figuring out where to put the properties and in buying the land that the properties are on. They also became the largest creator/producer of children’s playgrounds in the world. Food was merely what they sold, but it wasn’t the business they were in. Ray Kroc understood that how he got people into the restaurant was just as important as how the food tasted. He was, after all, selling burgers and fries.

Here is a quote from page 50 of Fast Food Nation, The Dark Side of the All-American Meal:

The fundamental goal of the “my McDonald’s’s” campaign…was to make a customer feel that McDonald’s “cares about me” and “knows about me.” A corporate memo introducing the campaign explained: “the essence McDonald’s is being embraced is ‘trusted friend’… ‘Trusted friend’ captures all the goodwill and the unique emotional connection customers have with McDonald’s experience… [Our goal is to make] customers believe McDonald’s is their ‘trusted friend.’” Note: this should be done without using the words “trusted friend… Every commercial should be honest… Every message will be in good taste and feel like it comes from a trusted friend.


I don’t want to do what you hired me to do – So I’ll sue you.

Here’s another crazy lawsuit that really turns the employer – employee relationship on its head.

Remember, when you work for someone that means that you have voluntarily agreed to the terms of engagement. If you don’t like:

  1. the hours
  2. the pay
  3. the benefits
  4. what you have to do

then it is your moral duty to yourself (and to you family, if you support one) to find another job.

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Unpaid Internships – If You Don’t Like Them…

I don’t get what the big deal is about unpaid internships. I don’t understand how you could voluntarily apply for an unpaid internship, stay there all summer and then want to sue the company that offered you the deal.

The government should have no role in regulating the agreement that a company and an intern voluntarily enter into.  If you signed on for an internship and you don’t like it because you “worked too hard” then stop working. There are plenty of people who will happily take your place.

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