How to Be a Magnet for Clients You Love
Welcome back, everybody. I am so excited to have my sweet dear friend Annette Choti on the podcast today. She's truly one of my favorite people on the planet. And I just am thrilled that she's on the show today. Annette has over 20 years of combined legal and digital marketing experience. She founded Law Quill, a full-service digital marketing agency for law firms and businesses in the United States and Canada.
She's a sought-after CLE keynote speaker for bar associations throughout North America. She creates and hosts the Legal Marketing Lounge podcast, which is amazing. And she's the author of the best-selling book, Click Magnet: the Ultimate Digital Marketing Guide for Law Firms. Annette used to do theater and professional comedy. She is one of the funniest people I know, and 100% an actress, which is not so far from the law if she's being honest. So I would tend to agree. Welcome to the show, Annette.
Oh, my gosh, Erin, thank you so much. It's a pleasure to be here. And I reciprocate everything you just said. You are one of my favorite people on this planet. So I'm happy to get to chat with you again.
So fun! All right. Well, for our audience that was kind of like the Reader's Digest of who Annette is and what she's doing right now. But I would love for you to take us back to the beginning. Law school. Why did you go to law school? And how have you ended up in the digital marketing world?
Oh, goodness. It's like a therapy session now. Right? So I originally went to undergrad for political science and international relations. And I wanted to be an actress, I always did. So I went to graduate school for theater and film, and used to do some professional comedy and theater and all the things and then realized that food costs money, and it's hard to make money as an actress and I thought, I'll just go to law school.
So you know, it kind of fell in my wheelhouse. I had done debate in high school and college, and, again, political science, international relations. So it was not too outside of my wheelhouse.
So I went to law school, and I learned very quickly from the people that had graduated ahead of me that these huge jobs in big law firms were not all that they were cut out to be, for me. A lot of people were having a lot of moral and ethical heartburn with the cases that they were taking with the hours that they were working. It was just a lot. And frankly, I was being sort of groomed to be a litigator because I have no fear of public speaking. It was kind of my jam. And so I was doing all the things right? Moot court and blah, blah, blah.
But I'm seeing these people be so disillusioned and so discouraged, and I knew I wanted to have a family. And I said that's not for me. And the long story short is I went into the federal government, and I did ERISA law, which is eye watering-ly boring, but it afforded me the opportunity to be able to stay with my family. And, you know, spend time with them.
After two decades of that, I was like, “Well, this is enough of this beige cubicle. I literally cannot take it anymore.” And fortuitously, there was a friend of mine who was an attorney. She was like, “Oh, well, you know, on the side, you can write articles for law firms. It's kind of creative. You can do blogs.” I'm like, I don't even know what you're talking about. And the long story short was I started to do that for law firms, on the side, as a bit of a creative outlet. Something different right after two decades.
And I worked for some really large digital marketing agencies. And I appreciate the opportunity they afforded me, but the problem was that I started to pull back the curtain. And I started to see that they really were not providing the services that they were charging for, frankly, astronomically charging for, and the content that they were delivering was not legally accurate, it was not ethically compliant. They weren't even really providing any SEO services. And these people are like, these law firms, Erin are paying like, gargantuan sums of money. And so my husband heard me complain about that enough, and said, “Why don't you just start your own digital marketing agency?” And I thought, “Okay, I will.”
And that is, you know, thank you for coming to my TED Talk. That is my life. In a nutshell, I just started my digital marketing agency, I lead with value. And with information, I have like 160 articles on my website. By the spring, there should be 250. And I just, you know, I wrote a book, I have a podcast, and I just really felt like it was really important for lawyers to know what they don't know. And they're not getting that information from the digital marketing agencies that are just trying to sell them their services. So that's kind of how I started my own agency.
I love it. We create what we need and what we always wanted. That's where the passion in the heart comes from. I think that's what builds a heart-centered business is when you create something from exactly what you know you needed, because you know you're not the only one who needs that. That's for sure. So for those listening, let's just break it down. What exactly is digital marketing and SEO? And why is it important?
It’s a loaded question, right? People get college degrees in this, but digital marketing, and I think that this is actually a great question, because the answer depends on who's giving it, right?
If it's a digital marketing agency trying to sell you their services, they're going to tell you that you need X, Y, and Z because that's what they sell, right? Digital marketing is, listen, there's nothing new under the sun. So it's just marketing yourself online, instead of on billboards, Yellow Pages, right? I'm dating myself, all of those kinds of print, ads, newspapers, whatever it is. It's just marketing that's online. So that's just the top level.
Now after that, basically, there are two types of marketing. There's paid marketing, which is ads, right? So there's Google ads, where you're paying to show up when people type certain words into Google, right? Personal Injury Attorney, whatever it is, those are Google ads, then there are local service ads. And those are where you show up in your local area when people are saying, you know, “attorney near me,” or whatever it is. So those are paid ads, you have to pay to play on that, on both of those. There are advantages and disadvantages to both like anything in life.
And typically, unless you're kind of good at that or learn it yourself, it typically behooves you to pay someone to help you get those up and running and, and strategically, maximize the dollar amount of your ad spend. Okay, so that's paid digital marketing.
Organic digital marketing is everything else. So that is going to be the website you create. That's going to be the SEO, which is search engine optimization, that's again, a loaded term, because what does that mean? It's just a bunch of puzzle pieces, right? It's your website. It's the content you put on there. It's your Google reviews, it's all these puzzle pieces that work together to, you know, help Google figure out who you are, what services you offer. Backlinks are another huge part of SEO.
And then it's also your social media marketing, right? Because that is organic, you're not paying to put something on LinkedIn. Now you can hire a digital marketing agency to do all of this for you as well. But this is all stuff that you could do yourself for free or have an assistant do it or, or whatever.
So those are the two different types of digital marketing. That is the entire sort of ecosystem of digital marketing.
So why do lawyers need to be investing in growing their digital platform? And why do you see that lawyers struggle with that and why do they need to be improving it?
Everyone needs to be in digital marketing, right? Like if you’re a business…
If you’re selling a service or product you need to have a presence online to let people know that you’ve got a shop open. I mean, we're in the era of everyone selling something, right?
And, and not the not the least and and one of the reasons not the least of which is that all your competitors are doing it. Right? So all the potential clients that you have, if they're not seeing you online, they're seeing your competitors. So that's just a very basic bottom floor of it, why you should be doing it.
But to get a little more sophisticated on it. The reason is, because, listen, a lot of lawyers, especially old school lawyers, they're like, “Listen, I don't need this, I get word of mouth referrals.” We hear that all the time with lawyers, “I don't need this kind of marketing. It's beneath me, frankly. I'm doing deals on the golf course. I've got friends at the country club…” whatever it is.
The truth of the matter is, every one of those referrals on the golf course, they're going to check out a website before they ever pick up the phone and call now. So even if you are getting referrals from people, they're still checking you out online. They're going to check out your website, they're going to see if it looks like you know, it was created in, you know, 1982 by a Commodore 64. Right? Or if it's something that looks modern, that it's like someone that wants to represent you. They're gonna look at your LinkedIn profile. Who are you? Right? Do you have a Facebook group? Are you on Instagram? Those are not necessary, right? But people will check you out there.
Listen, if somebody is going to spend a lot of money and have someone take care of a legal issue for them, that is significant. You want to make sure that they're not a fly-by-night operation, right? And the way people do that now, because they can, is to look at your website.
Yeah, 40 years ago, nobody looked at websites because they weren't there. But now everybody is looking at it. So lawyers need to have an online presence. And Erin, it's got to be better than just a static business card online. Again, your competitors are showcasing their expertise, their authority. They are making themselves trustworthy online. And honestly, it's just something that - the bar has been raised for every industry, but especially with law firms.
Yeah, what do you feel like lawyers struggle with the most, when it comes to when it comes to this type of thing, or getting engaged and realizing that they actually need to, like, invest in this and kind of up their game?
Well, continuing on with the therapy session, I'm going to say this… before we even get into LinkedIn strategies, or, you know, website options, it is truly the fact that lawyers (I include myself in this group) we all just handle things ourselves. Right? So we all know that we can probably make a website if push comes to shove, the community of attorneys, we're kind of quick on the uptake, right? We kind of figure things out. We don't like delegating anything. We're all type A personalities. And the truth is, we believe that almost everything is “figure-out-able” and we will figure it out.
The problem is that the amount of time it takes to learn how to create a website that is optimized for SEO, that continues to be optimized every month for SEO because it's like… So the thing is that with a website, not only do you have to create it, right, but you have to upkeep it. And it's like a garden. If you're not continually upkeeping it, it's gonna die. So now you have to learn how to create a website, you have to learn how to upkeep it, you have to learn how to create content on it that is interesting, but is also good for the Google bots, right? That they understand it.
Then you also have to go out on all of the social media platforms, right? Google Business profile (it is a platform, actually, there's a way to put posts on there), LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, and create content on there to drive traffic back to your website. You have to consider other SEO tactics like backlinks, it's too much.
So what happens is lawyers start to do this, and then start to realize really how much work is involved in it. And because, you know, typically we are a stubborn lot, we just set it aside and say “I will learn this later,” and then it never gets done. So I think that the first barrier is just saying, “I need to outsource this.”
You know, I'll be honest, Erin, could I do my own taxes? Could I learn that? I mean, I took tax law. I mean, I guess I could probably learn it. I could figure it all out. I would make mistakes. I know I would. Then I would get an audit, and then I wouldn't know how to handle the audit. I mean, it's too much for me. So I just say, “I'm gonna outsource that,” because that is not in my zone of genius. Someone else who loves accounting and numbers, which is not me, can do that.
And that is the way that I think that attorneys… the very first step that attorneys need to think about is that this is something that can be really effective in getting me more clients, getting me the right clients to pick up the phone, the ones I really love working with, not the ones that are, you know, a source of heartburn.
And if I delegate this to someone who does it right, my return on investment on that should be astronomical, it should be many times over. And also I don't have to worry about it. Right?
So I think, and Erin, you know, I'm not a big woo woo girl, but, I’m a rubber hits the road kind of girl, but I think that before anything, lawyers just need to maybe realize how time-intensive and the learning curve that needs to happen with all of this in order to get it done effectively. So that's the first very first step, very first step.
Now, I'll just jump in and say this, it is absolutely possible for lawyers to do this themselves. And the order in which they should do it is this: So there is a recipe. I didn't create it, it's just the one that I know works. You need to start with a good brand. And I could talk for another hour about that, but I won't, but like just get yourself a good brand - how you distinguish yourself from your competition, your differentiators.
Then your next step is to create a website. If you cannot afford a WordPress website and someone to do it for you, it's okay. Just start out with Wix. Start out with something. Something is better than nothing. Right? You can upgrade later, the next step is to start producing content, figure out how to write content that is attractive for SEO, write content on the things that people call you about every day that you answer. You know what those questions are, write content on that, and then promote that content on social media.
Again, “done is better than perfect.” And just getting started on that tiny little trajectory, right? Branding, website content, social media, and in that order, will at least get you started and get your name out there. And you will see a difference if you have just that.
Awesome. Okay, so let's break this down. So I know we can have like a whole other podcast on branding, but just for like, informational purposes. So for the lawyer who’s like “Okay, well, I'm going to start at step one. Brand.” We love a checklist, don't we? What are some questions that they can ask themselves as they start to suss out this information and really figure out the brand that they would like to build?
Okay, so for lawyers, the very first thing is, whatever you are thinking about a gavel, or the scales of justice, or a column, please delete that. And please do not use that in any of your branding.
First of all, it looks old fashioned. And second of all, everybody else is doing it. So you want to distinguish yourself. The questions you want to start asking yourself are, “Look, I'm a personal injury attorney, I'm a criminal attorney, whatever I am, why should someone choose me over all of my other competitors?” Right? Are you a kinder, gentler criminal defense attorney? Or are you a really really hard, you know, hard-nosed criminal defense attorney? Do you do divorce law only for sort of wealthier families? Do you do divorce law where there is domestic abuse? Right? Who are you? What is your zone of genius? And then do not be afraid to lean into that.
You know, there's that saying “the riches are in the niches.” It is the same with the law. The more you niche down, it is true, you won't have a wide funnel at the top, but the people that will find you will be the people you want to work with the most, the people that you can serve the best, because it's who you are.
So you need to ask yourself the question: Who? (Therapy again, right?) But like, who am I? What are my differentiators? How am I distinguished from the competition? Also, who are my ideal clients? Who are the people that walk through the door that I'm like, “Oh, I love working with this type of person.” And who are the people that walk through the door that you're like, “No, thank you. I do not want to work with this type of person getting a divorce,” or “this type of criminal law” or whatever it is.
So really figuring that out because branding is much more than a logo and a color. It is really an emotional connection between the services you provide and the people that need them.
So when we all think of brands, we have an emotional connection to them. Good, bad, whatever it is, right? Southwest Airlines, we all just pictured Southwest Airlines’ logo in our head, right? The little ding, it's, “You're free to move about the country,” right? That used to be their little phrase, right? And so that sticks with us. Now, some people have had negative experiences with Southwest. So now that brings up an emotional connection for them.
So you want your brand to showcase whatever it is. I had a law firm in Arizona, they had crime scene tape all over their website. He's a very aggressive criminal defense attorney. Right? So that was the look he's going for, versus I know, other criminal defense attorneys. Right, Erin, we know one, that is a kinder, softer, criminal defense attorney that is like, “Listen, I will hold your hand,” and “I'm here for you, I've got this, we've got this, you're going to be okay.”
And so however you are different is what you need to lean into for your branding. And do not be afraid to do it. You want to do hot pink, you do hot pink. There's a law firm I know in San Francisco, that is one of my clients, it's an estate planning firm. They do hot pink and pearls, and that is their branding, because they know who their clients are. And so they want to attract that clientele to them - women specifically. So figure out who you are. And then just lean hard into it. And don't be afraid of it.
Right? Because here's the thing, people are not hiring your law firm. They're not hiring, because you practice a certain kind of law. They're hiring you. You are the commodity.
Yes, in fact, to add statistics to that Erin, the number one page that people travel to on a website is not the fact page. It's not your practice area. It's not even your prices, if you've got it on your page. It is always the “About Me” page, because people do business with people. That will never change. And they want to see who is going to be representing me in a mergers and acquisitions contract? Who's going to be representing me with my immigration problem? Whatever it is, they want to see that person.
And the beauty of having a great brand and a great website is that this is open 24 hours a day. So people can connect with you on your website. If you do it right, they can be forming an emotional, I mean, Southwest Airlines, we don't have an emotional connection to the plane. It's to the people that we've encountered along the way that represent Southwest, right?
So the same with your law firm. Yes, there's a law firm, but really, it's you that they're trying to connect with. So that's the reason that you know, branding is so important as a first step.
Yes, absolutely. And I, and I think lawyers struggle with that. Because you won't ask him like, we'll, who are you? And they'll be like, “Well, I'm a criminal defense attorney.” Okay, well, but what makes you different than every other criminal defense attorney in the United States? Like, what is your superpower? What do you do that nobody else can do? And that's what people want to know about. And that is what is going to draw people into you. And those are your aligned clients.
I mean, there are plenty of miserable lawyers out there who are just jerks. You know what I mean? Like, there are plenty of people who just don't care. So like, if you are that person with the like, know, trust, they're coming to you.
Yes. And I will tell you a great example of this is, there's an attorney that I know and in law school, she got a DUI. And she thought her life was ruined. She thought, “This is it. I'm never going to pass the bar, I'm never gonna be able to even finish law.” You know, “It's on my record now.” Whatever. Anyway, she got it off of her record. And she decided to pivot her whole career. She does DUI’s now. She is open with her story, which only makes people who have gotten a DUI, feel more connected to her because they know she's gone through it.
And then she says, “Listen, I'm not going to just help you with your DUI. I will help you with that, but now we're going to get you the help you need to make sure that this never happens again, and you never need my services again.” And that is the way that she has positioned herself in a very competitive market. And it's such a distinguisher for the right person that wants that, right? I mean, she only gets her ideal clients through the door.
So it's possible to do in any practice area.
Yeah, that's amazing. I mean, really, when you- because I think there's so much shame and guilt that comes after you get something like a DUI, right? So like, she's tapping into that emotion and being like, “I’ve felt that and it is okay. And I am not going to make you feel like that instead, I'm going to help you.”
For someone who's feeling very vulnerable, that is incredibly attractive, and they feel safe with you. They trust you instead, and so they're coming to you.
Yeah, I think that you can tell within your story somewhere why you chose the practice area you chose? I mean, maybe it's for money. Okay, so maybe don't say that. But, you know, for some reason, explain it.
Another example I have is there's an estate planning attorney in Arizona, and she had graduated from law school, and she had created the estate plan for her family. And when certain people died, they had a family farm, and they lost it. They lost the whole farm. Like, literally, that's not just a saying. They lost the family farm, because she had created the estate plan incorrectly. So she made a decision - no, it's It's heartbreaking. And so she decided, that was it. She never wanted another family to go through that. So she leads with that on her website. And she says, “I lost the family farm, and I'm going to make sure it never happens to anybody else.” Now, wouldn't you trust her? I would totally trust her with my estate plan.
So if you can figure that piece out at the beginning, that makes creating a website, creating the content on your website, creating social media, all of it a lot easier, because you know what to say, right? You know who you are, and you know who your ideal people are. And anybody who isn't falling into that, that's okay, they're not for you. And you are looking to attract the right people to you. And frankly, this is how people go viral, right? Everybody's sick of the Kim Kardashian airbrush stuff anymore anyway, right? So people who are vulnerable with their stories, people who are authentic, people can now tell. Right, we all have a sixth sense about that online, whether or not something is a little airbrushed, and you know, polished a little too perfectly. But if you come out with saying, “Listen, I lost the family farm, I'm going to make sure it doesn't happen to you.” We already feel a tug at our heartstrings on that, and feel connected without ever knowing her or talking to her.
And so that's what you want to do as an attorney, you want to create a brand, that the right people, they sit up, and they they stop their scroll, and they stay on your website a little bit longer, because they feel connected to you. So it's a little woo woo. But you know.
Well, I mean, I think we have to get a little bit woo woo because, unfortunately, lawyers are on autopilot 95% of the time, and have their pedal press all the way down to the floor. So we do have to stop and think about: Who are we? What makes the service that I provide different from my peers?
And you have to get quiet and intentional about those thoughts and start asking yourself the questions to be able to hear the answers. So yes, it sounds a little woo woo, but it really is basically just like your encouragement to stop and to get quiet and to get intentional about this and start asking yourself the right questions. And the answers will start to reveal themselves.
Yes! And talking with other people and getting feedback from other people about you is helpful as well. An example of that is we had a client and she was a personal injury attorney. And she just happened to say in passing once to us that she has been on the steps of almost every - she's been doing it for so long - she had been on the steps of almost every single courthouse in her state. And I said, “That's it. That is your marketing.” Her marketing is that she has been on the steps of every courthouse. She knows your streets. She knows your courthouses, she knows who you are. She's one of you, right? And so we ended up taking pictures of her. I said every time you go, take a picture and so she had ultimately this collage of pictures of her on all of these steps.
And that is huge for somebody who's like, “I don't want, you know, an attorney that has 500 attorneys in the firm. I want somebody who has been on the steps of my courthouse, who knows my area, who knows my judges, who knows, opposing counsel, who knows all of the things.” So that's a huge differentiator for her as well. It's not necessarily an emotional connection. But a little bit, but it's also a huge distinguisher. Because I guarantee you that her competition hasn't done that.
You’re interrupting somebody's thought. That's the key. As they're scrolling, you're interrupting their thought. People are mindlessly scrolling, and you scroll to “I’ve been on the steps of every courthouse in my state.” And you're like, really?
Or scrolling, like, “I lost the family farm, but I'm not gonna let that happen to you.” You know what I mean? Like you've stopped people’s scroll. And I think that's what the differentiator is, is when you really niche down and get super clear about who you're talking to and what you're talking about.
Yes. And if you've got a brand that isn't navy blue, right, is purple, or pink or some sort of orange that is also a scroll stopper. It's sort of like I say, it's the plumbing van. Right? So there's a plumber’s van that always comes by our house, you know, periodically, and I don't need that plumbing van. I don't need him. But whenever I do need a plumber, I'm going to remember him, and I will remember him also as a referral. I'll be like, “Well, I don't know. But I've seen this plumbing van, maybe they can help you.” Right?
So if you have images or content that is interesting, that is scroll-stopping, maybe people don't need you right now. That's okay. You know, you're not going to be Kim Kardashian and get 4 billion likes and comments and everything.
They now say, Erin, this is crazy, they used to say that someone needed seven touch points before they remembered you. It is now 27. And it's because yes, it is because we are bombarded constantly with content and information. It's just background noise to us now.
So in order for us to truly get the attention of someone, we have to be different, look different. act different, have different content, say things differently.
So that's the reason I say to your audience, do not be afraid to be vulnerable. Do not be afraid to lean into mistakes that you've made, and be different and be quirky, right? Because people will remember those things, whatever it is, people will remember that because it's different.
Yeah. So that's piggybacking on that. So if someone's like, “Okay, got my brand, I've gotten my website. And now I need to start doing content and putting out content and doing this.” What does that look like for the beginner? Because I know this part is overwhelming. Like, I feel like this is the part where people get stuck. Because the building of the brand and doing all that is really fun, because you're thinking about all your gifts and what you’re good at, and “this is what I can sell” and all this. And then you build your website, and it's like, “Look how amazing I am. It’s all on the internet. Hooray!”
And then you're like, “Okay, now I've got to put out content.” And then you're like, “Holy whoop, what do I say?” Or how many times do I post? Or where do I post? Or who am I talking to? So can you speak to that a little bit?
Yes. First of all, I want to acknowledge that it is overwhelming. It is overwhelming. This is the reason why a lot of people don't do it. Right? So don't feel, in any way, that you are alone. I don't know many people that are like, “Oh, this is so easy. I can't believe people think this is hard. This is so easy. I just come up with this stuff like four times a day.” Nobody is saying that. So you are in great company and not alone. So I just want to sort of reassure the people that are listening that you are not alone.
What I would say is this, the best thing that you can do, not only for digital marketing, but for your whole business is to create systems, right? And my best suggestion to you is this: go online, and first of all, create a list of all the things that people typically ask you.
Okay, you know? How much money am I going to make for this personal injury settlement? How long is it going to take? Why do I even need a lawyer? What if they're saying it's my fault? Whatever the questions are, every one of those is a blog post. And every one of those can be promoted on social media. And my best suggestion to you is if you want to try to do this yourself, do not do this weekly, okay? Set aside a time once a month, and do it because we all know you're not going to do this every day. Who has time for that? Nobody has time to do this every day.
All the posts you see of me on LinkedIn, I'm going to be honest with you, I don't know when I wrote them. It was a long time ago, I'll tell you that much right now.
So that's the first thing- write the content. Take one day, write four or five long blog posts. Okay? Now, what you do then is you carve these up, every paragraph becomes a - you put them on your website, okay? Make sure to schedule them once a week so Google thinks that you're putting out consistent content, that's a little hack.
So then what you want to do is carve up the content so that every paragraph now is a social media post. Go find a picture on Canva, or go find something, copy and paste that, and get a scheduling tool. The one I like is Smarter Queue, its queue like you're British waiting in line, Smarter Queue. There's also one called later.com. Find a scheduling tool and sit down, carve up all this content, make sure it's going to places on your website, right? And make sure it's going back to that article.
Now here is the trick. If you are writing an article about, let's say wills versus trusts, right? You've written this article. Now, here's the thing. The first paragraph is the advantages of wills, boom. That's your social media post, then it's the disadvantages of wills. Three weeks later, you're going to schedule that in your scheduling tool to go out. It's going to the same blog post Erin. It looks like you have a ton of content.
Then you've got the advantages of wills, the disadvantages of wills, what are the differences between wills and trusts? What are the common estate planning documents, I mean, you can have 12 months of content right there once a month.
So the first step is to write the long form content, it must be 1000 words or more. I mean, there's other hacks you can do to make it SEO friendly. But let's just start with the basics. Get some content out there, make sure to put headers, so it's easy to read, and it's easy for you to see, to carve up.
Once you have a social media post that is going- let's say the advantages of trusts, right? You take that in the scheduling tool, and it should be going out to your Instagram, it should be going to your LinkedIn, it should be going to your Facebook, it should be going to Google business profile, which Smarter Queue allows you to post automatically to Google business profile.
And then the trick is that at the bottom of that, there is a place that you can click and you can say repeat this post, every whatever, two weeks, two months, 74 days, whatever you want.
Now, it's like a crock pot, you set it and forget it. Don't worry about people seeing it twice. Who cares? First of all, let's be honest, nobody's going to remember anyway. Okay? And now you are having consistent content being put out.
Now at the beginning, it's hard. Erin, it's like the example we were talking about before, right? Where you and I were just visiting before the podcast. It's like a roller coaster. The first part is hard, right? You've got to invest some time in it, it's a little scary, you're full of anxiety, you're not sure if it's going to work. But then after you go over that hump, it's sort of going on autopilot.
So if every month you can do 4-8 blog posts and carve them up, those social media content will then in month 2,3,4, or 5 will continue to go out while you are now month number 2, creating 4 or 5 new articles. And then those are going to run on repeat.
So it's just creating a system. And I really don't feel like anyone needs more than two days a month to get a system going. But it's got to be two dedicated days, right?
And so, you know, once you figure out the system, you can write the content and have a VA put the social media out, you know, and all of that. Or eventually, you have so many clients that you just hire a digital marketing agency to do it. Right.
But if you are truly trying to bootstrap this, and I hope people do, because it is always better to do something than nothing. So I know that was very long. Erin I'm sorry. But, as you can tell, I'm passionate about it.
No, I think that's great because I think you know, people who this is not their wheelhouse and who have been kind of sitting there stewing on this like, “Well, I'll get to that eventually,” or “I don't really know what to say or to post or what a brand is. And I don't have a website that seems like a lot I don't know if I want to spend the money,” like you know, there's so many things that we stories that we tell ourselves well why things are not important, but it is clear in the phase of life that we're living in that you have to have a digital presence.
And the one other little hack that I'll just give is, everybody's heard of chat GPT. I would highly recommend using it to create ideas for topics. That is where I feel like so many people have a hiccup. They can't think about what to write. So just ask chat GPT. Say, “I have an estate planning law firm, what would be 20 good article topics for me to write about?”
Then when you have one of those advantages and disadvantages of trust, ask chat GPT, “Can you give me an outline of an article of the advantages and disadvantages of trusts?” Boom, you are already past that first hurdle, and now you just have to write some content.
You can have chat GPT write for you, but I'm telling you what, it's wrong a lot of the time. It's not great. But it is a great starting point, even have them write a paragraph or two, and then it will give you that inspiration, right? To say, “Oh, that's right, I had an estate plan that was similar.” And you can add your own stories and whatever to it. It's a great way to sort of kickstart the creative juices, so to speak.
That's a great tip, because, and I really think, you know, there's lots of discussions about AI. But I think that in that instance, that is such a great way for you to kind of get out of your own way. Because it's like- you do you get trapped in the, “I don't know what to write” and then you just get wrapped around the axle, and then it just never happens. So if at least you have a jumping off point, and like some bullet points to get going, I mean, to me, that's more than half the battle.
Yeah, you can do it also for social media posts. So I always say the point of social media is not social media, the point of social media is to get people off of the cat videos, and the you know, Harry Potter memes or whatever, and get onto your website. You want to be interesting enough that somebody actually clicks through. So in order to do that, you need to be linking to your website, right, not just putting pictures of you dancing. So I'm sorry for anybody that is offended right now. But, you know, you need to have them see you as an authority with something interesting that they click to your website.
You know, you don't want it to be clickbait, but you know, kind of a little right? You want it to be interesting enough that they're clicking through. And a way to do that is also to use chat GPT to say, “What are 10 Social media ideas or prompts that I can use? If I'm an estate planning attorney in Arizona, working with unmarried single people,” right? So if you're niching down that for her, you know, you don't have to. But social social media can also be something where you use chat GPT as again, a bit of a firestarter for your creative outlet.
Those are great tips. Okay, so before we wrap up, what else would you like to leave our audience with? Like, if you were like, sitting in a room with someone who was like, “Okay, I want to do this” or “I'm thinking about hiring a digital marketing firm.” What are some “leave the audience with” tips or thoughts?
Well, I listen, there's a lot that you can do yourself when you're bootstrapping. But when you are ready to truly be competitive, you absolutely need a WordPress website. That is just my full stop answer. And those are very difficult to learn to create on your own.
So the reason WordPress is so important is because they are very easily understandable to the Google bots. And so your SEO, your search engine optimization, is just easier with WordPress. It's just more sophisticated, frankly. So I would say get a Wix website up or Squarespace website up if you are, it's better than nothing. But don't continually put a lot of effort and time or money into that when you are ready to level up.
If you are ready to level up and are considering a digital marketing agency, I would say that the horror stories that you've heard are generally true. A lot of digital marketing agencies target law firms because they have money. So they are not really interested in lawyers and your law firm. I always say they're not really great marketers, but they're great salespeople.
I'm kind of the opposite. I feel like I was kind of an okay attorney, and I'm a really great marketer, but I'm kind of like a terrible salesperson, Erin. But that's okay, because I really do lead with a lot of information and trying to help people on their own, and then if they need me, they can seek me out.
But it's very important that whoever you hire as a digital mark that you ask the right questions. Those questions need to be, “I need to see the content that you've produced for people. I need to see that it is actually, you know, legally accurate, that it is ethically compliant.” It doesn't say you need to hire an attorney to get the best result? Of course you do. But we can't say that right?
I would look at their content that they make on social media for people to see if that is accurate and compliant. I would look to see, what is their track record? And then I would ask for referrals.
Because the truth is that the market for for legal marketing agencies is saturated with a lot of people who are not attorneys, who do not understand the law, and do not understand how a law firm is, frankly, very different than selling, you know, products online, or frankly, even selling technology online or selling different services.
Online law firms are a unique breed. We are governed by state bar associations, by the American Bar Association, we've got a lot of compliance issues that a lot of digital marketing agencies, even though they say they are legal marketing agencies do not frankly understand. But there are a lot of really great ones out there too, that I am proud to even be associated with.
So just me that would be my sort of warning to the canary in the coal mine is to just say to people: be wary and ask a lot of questions. And make sure that you get the answers that you feel really comfortable moving forward with someone who - you know, here's a great tip, Erin, start asking them about your practice area. Right? If you're in mergers and acquisitions, start asking them about waterfall provisions. Right? Start asking them about legal terms, you know, or about how ERISA or you know, compliance issues, or mental health benefits or health care law intersects with mergers and acquisitions. If they can answer it, start talking to them about the different kinds of trusts. If you're an estate planning, you know, a special needs trust versus pet trust versus gun trust. Start talking to them about these things.
And if they are, if they don't understand and they say, “Well, that's our writing team,” then you say, “Hey, let me talk to your writing team, then. Let me talk to somebody who's gonna be doing my writing, who's going to be doing my social media, and do they understand me?”
Because that digital marketing agency is going to be representing you. So that would be probably my most- if I could sort of underline and bold and highlight and italicize that, I would. There are a lot of really great digital marketing agencies out there, but just make sure to ask the right questions.
Because I think there are a lot of people probably listening to this podcast right now, Erin, that have a little bit of PTSD from dealing with digital marketing agencies that either ghosted them or did not give them what they said they were gonna give them or overcharged them or under delivered and all of the things so let those be the cautionary tale. Make sure to ask the right questions.
Well, speaking of the right questions to ask, would you tell us about Law Quill and how we work with you?
Yeah, that sounds a little bit self-serving right now, at this point, doesn’t it?
Well, you know, I led you right there. I led you right there to set you right up for this answer, so…
Well, thank you. So yes, as you can probably tell, this is my passion. It is what I love. I am competitive. So my clients become my friends. And then I work really hard for them because when they win, I win. So it's just who I am as a person.
My digital marketing agency is Law Quill. It's just lawquill.com. And we do everything. We do you know, branding, websites, SEO, content creation, social media, backlinks, we do paid advertising. We do kind of all of it. And we're sort of the kinder, gentler legal marketing agency. So if you'd like to check us out, everything of mine is completely transparent, just like I am as a person. We've got samples on there. We've got examples, we've got testimonials, we've got pricing, everything is just very, very transparent.
And if anyone ever has any questions, you can just hop on my calendar. There's an easy link on the website there. Or just follow me on LinkedIn. I provide a lot of value there. I've got like 160 articles on my website, and a podcast that they can listen to as well. So all of that is for free.
So much good value. So much good value from Annette Choti today. Oh my gosh, this was like, information-packed. This is amazing. I mean, I was over here taking notes. So good.
All right. Well, before we get out of here, I always ask my guests two questions before we get off, so I didn't even tell you about this before, so I'm just dropping this on you right now. But you're gonna do great.
Okay, first question, what is your superpower?
I can implement at the speed of thought.
You are literally the third person - like three podcast interviews in a row with female attorneys, it’s so funny they're like, “I get shit done. I am an implementer. You need the task, you give me the task. I am task-oriented.” It is so funny. Three of you guys, this whole week has been hilarious.
I think you have to learn how to fail quickly, right? Someone said, who, I can't remember who said that. But the faster you fail, the faster you can get moving on to the things that will help you succeed. So someone else actually said that about me once, I can't take credit for it. But I will say that I work pretty hard, and I work pretty fast. So yeah.
You really do work at the speed of light. I can attest to that. I've seen it happen in real life. And it's just like a ninja. It's crazy.
Okay, second question, what is something you would tell younger lawyer Annette? What's one thing you would tell her?
I think I would tell her, “Don't be afraid, because everything is figure-out-able. And everything is changeable.” Right? I started my business, completely pivoted my entire career in my mid-40s. Right? And I could have done it in my mid-50s, mid-60s. I mean, you can do it at any time. So I would tell her, “Don't be so worried about having you know, a life plan that is etched in stone.” Because you really can change your path at any time. It's really okay.
And frankly, you know, in different seasons of life, different things work for you. So what worked for me at, listen, what worked for me at 25 is not working now. So you know, and that's okay, it's not supposed to. So just be okay with the fact that later on, you may be doing something different, you're not, you know, you're not tied down necessarily. If you are in big law, or if you are in the government, or whatever you can change. You know, people do it. So don't be so worried about being locked in to your decisions that you make at an early age.
I think that's such great advice. I think law school and the legal profession drills into your mind that there's only one way and there's only one destination. And if you somehow get off of that particular road and go to another destination, then that makes you a failure, that makes you not a great lawyer, that makes you a quitter. These are just all stories and lies.
But we believe them - our younger lawyer self because we go to law school, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready to change the world and, you know, do all these things. And we come out into the legal world, and we're doing all this, and then we get in there and we practice for however many years, and say, “Oh, this isn't working for me, this doesn't feel aligned with me.”
Maybe I became a mom, maybe you know, I'm caring for an elderly parent, maybe I got a divorce, maybe you know, like whatever it is, and just being okay. That different phase of life calls maybe for a different environment, and that's okay. Decisions can change. Places can change, people can change. And that, honestly, that's the beauty of life- is embracing just the ebb and flow of where you are and just leaning into your gifts and your superpowers knowing that's going to help you win in whatever season that you're in.
Yeah, and I would just add to that, first of all, I agree with everything you just said. And I would agree that now is such an incredibly beautiful time to be alive. Because the number of opportunities that are available, or that you can frankly create that didn't exist before is just infinite, right? You can live anywhere, you can do anything. You can create a business from scratch, you can switch careers, or you know, 100 years ago, none of this was possible. So it really is, I think, comforting to know that really anything is possible, right?
It really is. Well, Annette, we could go on and on and chat for hours and our viewers would probably be like, “I gotta go take a nap.” But I am so excited that you are on the show today. I really appreciate you coming on and sharing and dropping all of your incredible knowledge.
Annette’s also going to be at my retreat in September. So if you're listening to this and you
are not signed up for the retreat, she is going to be there dishing all the information in person, and it is unbelievable. She was at the last retreat, and these women were like, standing up taking notes like, salivating like, “Oh my god, this is such epic information.”
So if for nothing else, come see the fabulous Annette, and she will help you brand, website, produce content, and promote on social.
Well, I will say this if I can, I mean, that's very kind of you to say that. But what Erin created at that retreat, if I can just say this, is beyond anything I have ever seen in my entire career. It was absolutely lightning in a bottle. And it's almost difficult to describe how truly life-changing that retreat was.
I think we were all laughing that now our lives are actually delineated between “before retreat,” BR, and AR, “after retreat,” because the connections and the friendships and the - it's too much to even explain unless you were there.
So if anybody is listening to this, and you are considering it… I will guarantee you this, you will not regret it. It will be one of the best decisions you make, for reals.
I agree. And I appreciate that so much. All righty listeners, we'll let you go. Annette, I'll let you go. Thank you again, so much. Go connect with her on LinkedIn. Check out Law Quill. If you loved this show, tag us on social media. Tell us what you loved. If you've got any questions, drop those in the DMS. So excited that you were here and I'll see you next week.