The Game Changing Attorney: Michael Mogill

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The interesting thing about Michael Mogill, author of The Game-Changing Attorney, is he’s not an attorney. He is actually the founder and CEO of Crisp Video Group, which is the nation’s fastest growing legal video marketing company.

In this episode, Michael’s going to break down how he’s helped thousands of attorneys from small firms to large practices, basically stand out from the competition and earn millions of dollars in revenue. You’re not going to believe how much actually they’ve earned by doing what Michael specializes in, which is video marketing.

This episode is especially for attorneys, but even if you’re not, even if you are an entrepreneur running a business, all of this stuff applies to you. If you’ve been thinking of doing Facebook video ads, if you’re thinking of advertising on YouTube, this is an episode you need to hear.

Get Michael’s new book The Game Changing Attorney on Amazon.

Find out more at CrispVideo.com.

Michael Mogill: I guess we could dial it back to when I was four years old. My family and I, we had immigrated to the United States. So my parents immigrated from Europe, my family and I were escaping religious persecution, we were coming to America. It was two parents, two grandparents, and my younger brother is younger, and myself.

When we got here, my family had 500 bucks and both of my parents had to essentially start over in their careers.

My dad was an engineer and my mom was a nurse, but when they got here, they had to get started from square one. Those degrees didn’t transfer. My dad became a mechanic, my mom was a hairdresser. I grew up in low income housing, broken windows, you know, the whole deal. But as a kid, I didn’t really know we were poor until probably much later.

The Land of Opportunity

Michael Mogill: I remember one of the first nights when we got to America, my mom had said something that was so interesting, because we got in these run down apartments and we’re sitting there together as a family and we’re eating essentially like bread and butter sandwiches. Mom says, she thought that this was like the pitstop on the way to America.

They’d heard this land of opportunity and everything, and we get there and she’s thinking, “Where do we go to next?”

That’s it, we were here. I think that that’s always very much shaped me and my values. So overall, again, while we did grow up poor, my parents, they did all they could. They were always very helpful and supportive, and they always instilled good habits in us.

If you fast forward several years to where I’m starting Crisp, ironically, I started the company with 500 bucks.

I had $500 to my name. At the time, that wasn’t enough to cover my next month’s rent for my apartment.

I was premed in college, I took the MCAT, got into med school. I’d spent hours and hours probably over hundred hours, shadowing physicians and surgeons and doctors and ultimately decided being very entrepreneurial, that that just wasn’t a route that I wanted to go.

Then in 2008, right, the economy took a nose dive, and here I am, honors degree saying I’m going to take a year off before I got to med school, right?

I’m washing dishes at this dive bar. That’s how that went.

When you’ve got immigrant parents, they’re looking at each other like where did we go wrong, how did we fail on this one, right? Because my brother at the time, he’s the academic, right? He’s doing graduate school and he’s going to study to be a physical therapist, and I am the failure.

I’m the one that’s like, essentially, taken a year off, washing dishes at a dive bar. I get it. That’s a tough situation, but being very entrepreneurial, this is very much a story rooted in failure. 100%, a ton of failure.

I think if I knew then what I would have to experience, I don’t know if I would have done it. Starting out, I made 21 pitches. I don’t mean like 21 pitches over the phone or email or anything like that. I mean, I literally set up these meetings, went and pitched my heart out and no one wanted to have anything to do with me, 21 times.

Charlie Hoehn: It’s brutal.

Michael Mogill: I’ll tell you how rock bottom it goes. I think after like the 12th or the 13th I remember calling my dad and I was like, “You know what dad? I gotten 12 nos.” He says, “Yes, you should stop and you should go back to school.” That was always the answer.

In fact, even now, if I told my parents, you know what guys? I think I’m going to shut down the business and I’m going to go to medical school, I think they would throw me a celebratory dinner tonight.

I kept going, I persisted, and I think a large part of the reason for that was just because, at least at the time, I didn’t have much to lose. I’ll say that first and foremost. But then also, I had staked so much on this. I had gone all in, and I was so committed to making it work, if for no other reason at the time than just proving to others that I could do it.

There is that chip on your shoulder.

I mean, you have to realize at the time, all of my friends, they’re buying homes and they’re buying cars and they’ve got their degrees and they’re graduating med school and all these different things. And here I am, right? 500 bucks, I’ve got nothing to show for it. I feel like pretty much a failure.

Where do you go? I remember on the 22nd pitch, this was one where I think this came my way through a hostess at a restaurant that I ate at, her mom was the executive assistant to the CEO of an agricultural company that’s three hours outside of Atlanta.

You can’t make this up, right? Basically, they took a meeting with me, they needed to film an agricultural video. I drove out, I had to wake up I think at like three in the morning, and I’m driving out there, wearing a suit. On the way there, I get pulled over. Speeding ticket.

I’m coming out like full suit, out of the car as the officer stops me and I’m sure he’s probably thinking I’m out from the night before, right?

I told him, “No, I’m on the way to a meeting,” and I had no money.

That speeding ticket was crushing.

I get to the meeting, they meet with me for probably all of five minutes and say “Great, we’ll call you.” I felt, okay, I bet this went just as well as the last 21 before this. And then on the way back I got stopped at another speed trap.

I promise, I’m not like some crazy driver or anything, there was just, I think this is the end of that month and there was a lot of officers on the road. I got pulled over again and I got a thousand dollar speeding ticket.

At that point, there’s like shit and then there’s worse than shit. I think that’s where I fit at that point, because I had really no money, I had gone through failure after failure over the course of months at this point.

On that drive home, with two speeding tickets for that day, I’m thinking like, this is it, right? Maybe it’s time to just pack it in.

But a few weeks later, I got a call. I won that deal. I ended up traveling across the southeast filming agricultural videos with farmers, and I’ve learned a lot about these guys.

You have to realize, when you’re on the road with farmers, they’ll pick you up from the airport and then you’re driving almost four hours to a place that has no cellphone reception. I found that these are truly great people, right?

They’re so family centric, they’re so grateful.

The lesson that I took away from that is largely that every single person that you meet with, they don’t know about the 21 failures that came before you. Everything is a blank slate. If I did not persist those 21 times and getting landed on the 22nd, I think a reasonable person may have stopped at five or 10 or 16 or 18—who goes 22 failures, right? This company would not exist, and neither would this book.

What is The Game Changing Attorney?

Charlie Hoehn: Knowing your back story, give us a quick rundown on why you wrote this book and what the overall message is.

Michael Mogill: It happened by accident. The 60 second version of this is that, when I started the company, we were working with all sorts of different industries and big brands and national brands, global brands, all different industries from dentists and doctors to financial advisers to Coca-Cola and Verizon and Red Bull.

An attorney reached out to us for us to produce a video—an unknown, no online presence whatsoever. We ended up creating a video and her business exploded. At the time, I looked at that and said, what’s going on in the legal profession?

I realized that it was a super saturated market, there’s a ton of competition, it was very difficult for any individual attorney to stand out, and there was a really big problem in that the big advertisers were dominating these industry.

And yet, when I looked at the content that was coming out, it was the same content for probably roughly 20 years, their traditional legal ads of someone standing on top of a semi-truck or juggling bowling pins, screaming at people, right? That’s what it was. There just wasn’t much evolution there.

What I was finding is that the legal landscape is largely changed in how consumers make decisions has changed in the only way that the solo or small firm attorney can compete with, because you can’t compete on ad spend, you know?

These Goliath firms are crushing everybody.

The only way they compete was by differentiating themselves, by getting their story out there and by being able to really connect with an engaged audience. Over the course of several years, that’s all we dialed in on, working with attorneys. Now it’s all we do.

A little over three years, not only do we go from zero from clients now over 600, but we became the fastest growing legal marketing company in the entire country and one of the fastest growing video marketing companies in the entire country.

There’s a chapter where I talk about picking a niche, and I could say that our company is a testament to that.

Become the Obvious Choice

Charlie Hoehn: One of your first pieces of advice, apart from the best cases go to the best marketers in the legal industry, you say, become the obvious choice. What do you mean by that?

Michael Mogill: Yes, essentially what I mean when I say become the obvious choice is in the sense that when consumers need an attorney, let’s say they’re doing a search online or a search on Google, they’re going to visit multiple websites. There’s really not a great way to vet attorneys.

You can look at reviews and so on, but you can’t really tell who’s good and who’s bad. If you visit their websites, they all have very similar messaging, they all have very similar awards, they all look actually the same, they all say that they’ll fight for you and provide aggressive representation.

You have to stand out, and not just stand out for the sake of being different.

Once they’ve come across you and your content, you stick with them and they would not even consider anybody else, right?

You literally become that obvious choice, and you become the go to for them to the point where they would not work with anybody but you.

Charlie Hoehn: Give me an example of somebody who has done this really well?

Michael Mogill: I mentioned this in the book, but one good example of this is a veteran’s law firm out in Nebraska. You know, they focus on veteran’s disability, and one of the things that we did with them is we really highlighted the fact that their team, which is also made up of veterans is really veterans serving veterans and you know, we made the video very patriotic and very focused on how they help their clients to the point where this video blew up. It got over a million views.

There’s a difference between a video getting a ton of views, but then you look at the comments and all the comments are like, thank you so much, thank you for all you do for our country, we’re so grateful to you and the law firm.

People are sharing it. It got a lot of this organically.

People were sharing and commenting on it and they started getting I think over 200 leads a month just from the video, right?

This thing blew up. But you have to realize, they’re competing against free. You can go to the VA, right? Then there’s other organizations like the wounded warrior project and so on.

Imagine when that’s your competition.

A Million Views

Charlie Hoehn: Break down to me what you did in that video that got a million views and how can other attorneys replicate it?

Michael Mogill: Yeah, absolutely. One of the key things that we always like to focus on, because we do a lot of discovery and preproduction going into any project and any campaign, was really being able to drill down what is that attorney’s unique value proposition. What differentiates them? How can they answer the question of, “Why should I hire you? Why should I trust you, how are you different, how do I know that I’m making the best decision?”

It’s not the fact that we’re really experienced or we have the lowest cost or we provide these services—those aren’t unique value propositions.

For them, their UVP was largely tied to the fact that they are veterans themselves and they’ve all been to war and many of them has sustained these same types of injuries and they have the same experience with the VA, and they were committed to doing better.

We really highlighted that.

In addition, we also featured several clients of theirs. We never had the attorneys of the firm ever say that they were the best and that you should hire them. That always came out through the clients, and they were real people. There were no actors in the video. It was unscripted.

We don’t do like tele-prompters or anything like that. We do story boards.

It was crafted together to be something very compelling, where the clients were just so grateful and supportive. People who suffered some of the most challenging, horrendous injuries, but now, thanks to this firm, not only were they able to get assistance now from the VA but they were also more importantly able to move on with their life. They were able to help support their families as well.

Finally, we did shoot some of the interviews in front of a tank. I think that may have helped, right? An actual tank. I mean, we always had to consider the audience, right?

We do all sorts of videos for all sorts of different firms, but we knew these guys, being veteran’s law, it was going to be very patriotic, we knew that we had to appeal to a very specific segment.

We even had footage of Vietnam with the firm’s founders, actual footage that we featured, very documentary style. When you watch this thing, man—they had so much pride for their country. I think it was less about why you should hire our firm and more about the fact that like, it was the kind of content that people shared that they could just feel good about, right? I think that’s why it really did so well online.

Getting the Most Out of Video

Charlie Hoehn: Let’s break this down even further. How did you really get the most out of this video? Are those the essential components, or did you do anything else?

Michael Mogill: That was the content, right? Going in, we knew essentially what message we wanted to get out of it, we storyboarded out the whole thing but once the video was created, how would we get it out in front of people, right? How would we get it in front of the right audience?

I think you can produce even the best video in the world, but if the right people don’t see it, it would never be effective. Largely, where you put that video is based on where your ideal target demographic spends their time.

It’s probably on Facebook. Young or old, you know, male or female, we see everybody on Facebook.

We were able to target it quite well there, and we were able to actually target veterans specifically. We of course put it on YouTube as well. We put it on their website, and we were able to even share this with several veterans organizations so that it just started to blow up and take off.

It was just surprising because I think in the first couple of weeks, it did like a hundred thousand views, which was great, and then it just exploded after that.

I think I make this point in the book, and they hate me for this, but I say that if you’re looking for the book that tells you to post this tweet at 2PM on Tuesday, that’s not really the book. I wanted to be more platform agnostic and focus on the core concepts of how do you produce the right content, how do you make sure it’s placed on the right platform.

Because platforms change, Google algorithms change.

All those things always will change over time, but if you understand the fundamental elements of content marketing, and really, in most cases, if you just produce really great content, then you don’t have to worry about posting at 2 PM on Tuesday.

Bad content at any time is bad content. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if it is Tuesday, Thursday, or Sunday. Great content is always great content. I think the most important thing is realizing that what is going to be of value to your audience, why would they be engaged and how are you going to engage them and also, how are you going to differentiate?

Because for comparison, all the other firms that we had seen, most do not even have videos, and the ones that did were very much like green screen in front of a camera, “You should hire me because we’re the best,” you know?

So the bar isn’t very high. Just do a little better.

Simple Impacts

Charlie Hoehn: So tell me some of the simple things people can do in their messaging to be super impactful.

Michael Mogill: Yes, so in terms of your messaging, first of all you’ve got to consider your audience. When I say consider your audience, you have to understand who is your ideal client. By understand I mean really break down. Look at your past clients. You know, who are the top five and then when you narrow that down, you’ll see, “Okay are they a specific gender? Is there a specific age range? Do they work specific jobs? Do they own apartments or homes?”

I mean you could really get very, very specific with it. “Okay well do they love golf or do they love fishing? Do they love NASCAR? Do they read The New Yorker or do they read the New York Times?” you can really figure these things out and you can find that common thread. You can really understand, “Okay then what does this person generally like? What are they feeling when they come to you, is it shame or worry or anger? Depending on what the situation is, whether it is an injury or crime or even another matter.

So you can begin to develop this persona. I mean I gave an example in the book. I think when we worked with a firm and she’d another video company prior to us and as soon as she put out her videos, the phone stopped ringing entirely, and she called us up and she said, “Well can you take a look because I have no idea what happened,” and I watched the videos.

And what I’ve found was that her firm is a family law firm, they work with 99.9% men, but the video was very much focused to the female audience and female demographics. So she was essentially alienating her core audience.

Charlie Hoehn: Because she made it for her.

Michael Mogill: Yeah, correct. Or this company that they hired didn’t really invest the time and understanding her audience and understanding her goals and so when they just said, “Let’s come out and shoot a video.”

I don’t really know if I ever pressed this point so much in the book, but I would say that it is so important to do this right. Take the time to really understand what are the goals we’re trying to achieve, because it is never just good looking video.

I mean tons of people can do that. It is more importantly, do we want to attract more of these specific types of cases or clients, what is the actual objective because the questions usually aren’t like, “I want to film this in HD,” or “What kind of lens are you guys using,” but it is more so like, “I want to get the phone ringing,” or, “I wanted to attract these specific types of leads and I have this very specific goal.”

Audience mismatch is very important.

The other thing I would say is you really want to make sure that you get your story across. So you can talk about several different things in the video, but the reality is, all attorneys are providers of legal services. If that is how a consumers solely see you then you are essentially a commodity to them, meaning that they can’t differentiate from one or another.

I start off this whole thing really just my origin and that’s the part that matters. They know that you are an attorney and you are providing legal service, but at least the most discerning ones aren’t simply looking for an attorney. They are looking to hire someone that they can trust.

Your why can really communicate why you are the way you are, what are your values.

You don’t have to be for everyone.

So you don’t have to be the McDonalds of law firms. There are certain people that are really going to connect with you and engage with you.

I remember we did a video for a guy that was running like 100 mile races. What does that have to do with practicing law? Well we are able to show him like running and how he was able to apply that dedication and focus to his work in trial. We also showed another attorney who had adopted six kids from China.

So when you see these types of stories, now you are authentic. Now people see you as a human being, someone who has a family and whatever those values might be.

You start to really stand out, and that is really the game. They don’t just see you as an f-ing lawyer, because if they just simply see you that way, most consumers don’t view attorneys favorably. They believe that perhaps you may exist solely to extract money from them, or they are usually calling you on the worst day of their life.

They are not looking forward to this phone call. But when they can see that you’re a very down to earth person who is authentic and whatever that story may be, they are able to form a connection with you.

That is key. I know we talk about visibility, but the other thing is once you’ve got great content, I think it is your duty to get it out everywhere you possibly can, meaning anywhere your audience spends their time.

There is not time to be bashful. You should be saturating online mediums, and at this point in the game, it’s so inexpensive relatively to a traditional advertising like TV and billboards that anybody who is not running their content on YouTube and Facebook and Instagram and LinkedIn is doing themselves a tremendous disservice.

We are right now at a time where you can get views for sometimes a penny or less to your very specific audience and interest base demographics.

So this is definitely something I think everyone should be taking advantage of. My belief is you hit them and you stay top of mind, because it now takes probably anywhere from seven to twelve touches before someone will reach out. So them simply seeing the content one time may not be enough.

Defining Success

Charlie Hoehn: How do you measure success?

Michael Mogill: Especially for talking about any kind of digital marketing, I am a big believer in that you definitely want to track everything, as many things as you possibly can. Most attorneys advertise through a billboard or radio ad or even TV, and sometimes these are the things that maybe even the most difficult to track.

And yet, when we are talking about things like social media or digital they’re like, “Well can I track and can I see the ROI?”

That still being said, I do think it’s important. I think it is always important first and foremost to take a baseline. Before you add any video content, you should already know your existing metrics in terms of not just side traffic and time on site and bounce rate but just knowing, “Okay these are how many calls we receive per day and per week on average.”

And even for a month, you can account for seasonal trends. So that way, you can see that once you upload your video, how does that affect all of those different metrics within 30 days and so on. We find that a video like some of the metrics that it impacts on the website for example can be time on site, which is a very positive search ranking factor.

People stay on the website longer, typically three times longer.

It decreases bounce rate, which is generally somebody just visits the website just one page and then they leave, implying that either the content wasn’t very engaging that they didn’t want to invest much time on there. So video lowers that substantially.

Also, improving conversions. When you have a video on your homepage that we see usually 300 to 500%, if I am being conservative of what my attorneys here feel comfortable with me saying, but the numbers are actually way higher.

But they say, “We can’t say like 800%, because if someone gets 700% they’ll be pissed.” But basically conversions, meaning someone gets through your website, they watch the video. It significantly improves the likelihood of them reaching out to book a consultation, submitting a contact form on your website.

The reason for that is now they are more engaged. Now they know your story, now they’ve gotten more than a stock photo of some attorney standing with their hands crossed, right?

Now you’re a real human being to them.

But then when you get into the actual video itself, you can look at metrics like reach. Sometimes the greater the reach, the greater you count. Play rate is when you put a video on a website or you embed it somewhere. It is the percentage of people who actually watch the video.

The better the play rate, the more your video actually attracted their attention. So if you find that you have a very low play rate, that usually means that you want to even move the video up to the very top of the page. Or you want to use a more engaging thumbnail.

Then engagement—this one is huge because it is really the length of time that someone watches your video. That tells you have you made a quality piece of content or not. I mean it is rare that people in this day will watch 100% of something, but you don’t want them to watch like 5% every two minute video right?

Chances are they are tuned out or maybe this is one of the reasons like when you create content, you want to get into it quickly.

You want to hook them right away, you want to create this motion graphic like the Marvel of your logo coming in for 30 seconds before you get into the meat of the video, and then the thing there is vanity metrics.

I think sometimes I view counts and likes and things like that and even sometimes shares, but the main thing to look at is really, what are people saying about your video. Where are they commenting?

We just had a firm that contacted us today that we produced a video for, and they said that they just got a million dollar verdict. They cannot make this up. They said the person called them and he said, “Well I reached out to you because I liked your videos.” So sometimes, you will actually hear it—they will tell you that.

Again, I think there are objective metrics for sure, like some of the ones that I have just mentioned, but don’t forget about the qualitative. At the end of the day, you are not just optimizing for algorithms. It is human beings that call you, and they are the ones that pick up the phone.

Just listen to the things that they are saying. We find that when you’ve got great video content, people reach out to you and they know your story, you are not having to play the salesperson anymore. At that point they understand you and are more so asking would you be willing to take my case rather than why should I hire you.

The Heart of Brand Protection

Charlie Hoehn: What would you say to those people even though they know the ROI, they’re still like, “I want to protect my brand on the surface but deep down I really want to protect myself.”

Michael Mogill: Yeah I think that is a very natural fear, and to be quite honest I don’t know that many video companies have done a whole lot to help alleviate that. But the reality is if you do this right and you are working with a partner—it doesn’t have to be us. I want to make that explicit. You can put that up in caution tape. There are a lot of really great companies out there, but if you are working with the right partner, they are going to make this experience very natural for you.

And it should be fun. It should be enjoyable. I know that a lot of people are maybe self-conscious, they think what if I don’t say the right thing or what if I don’t come across? They may want to come across as the guy who busts and knocking the door down with explosions and dives flying in the air, but the most important thing is just to be authentic.

At the end of the day, nobody cares if you are 20 pounds overweight.

What they care about is the fact that you have this amazing story of adversity and that you are articulating the reason why you became an attorney and how you’re out there really supporting people and helping people. You care deeply about your community because you grew up there. Like that is the stuff that matters.

No one’s going say, “Well why do you wear that shirt?” or, “Why does he have so many kids?” all that stuff doesn’t matter.

The more important thing is the fact that they are able to connect with you.

I would say it is trusting in the process, but it is also choosing the right partner who understands this stuff to the point where, if you are investing in something as impactful as a video can be, do it right and make sure that you don’t have a bunch of hot lights in your face. You aren’t sitting there sweating.

I mean, we’ve heard all sorts of different horror stories about what this experience could be like.

But I think the game has changed. You don’t need a 20 person film crew and one guy plugging in the light and other guy grabbing lunch. That is not what it is anymore.

This should be a fun, exciting experience.

When you do it right, that is what it can be. If you try to do it yourself, which you can I think for live videos or Facebook lives that type of candid video can work very well—but if it is your brand that you are putting on your website and home page or if it is something you want to be perceived as someone who is above the fold if you will and you want to attract those more discerning clients, then you probably don’t want to film a webcam where in the background someone is walking through and there was a mattress and like a catwalk, you know what I mean?

All that says is I don’t care, and I don’t care about my business, and I don’t care about you.

Connect with Michael Mogill

Charlie Hoehn: Micheal, what is the best way for listeners to get in touch with you and potentially work with you?

Michael Mogill: If somebody is interested in working with our team, they can visit crispvideo.com. and at that point, I mean just so people know, we do a strategy session to try and understand their goals, and if we are a fit that’s great.

If we are not a fit, we are happy to make a recommendation, because sometimes, when someone reaches out, they may have certain goals, or maybe they don’t need a video.

Maybe they need some other aspect of marketing or maybe they need another resource, and we are always happy to make that recommendation, because we are not for everyone. I think it’s always better to be able to add value and help somebody because we don’t need to sell everybody on video. That is not our modus operandi.

We just want to work with engaged firms and you know if they really wanted to differentiate themselves and stand out and help to accomplish that goal, becoming the obvious choice.

So this takes a very unique kind of mindset. You’ve got to be all in and you’ve got to be ready to go, then we are happy to help. So yeah, that is the best way to get a hold of us.

Charlie Hoehn: What is the one thing you want listeners to do this week from your book that will have a positive impact?

Michael Mogill: I would say call five past clients of yours and simply ask them what was the reason why they hired you and not your competition. If they answer that they will give you can be so invaluable to your messaging and to helping to understand your value proposition. We sometimes see when we are speaking with firms, “Why do clients pick you?” And they will say, “Because I am so aggressive in the courtroom and I’ve got to fight so hard for our clients.”

And then when we speak with their clients, we ask the same question and they will say things like, “Well because they were so attentive to my needs, they were so responsive, they gave me their cellphone number, I could tell that they really cared about me on that personal level, they visit me at home, they visited me when I was in the hospital…”

The reality is, let your clients tell you why they hire you, because when you know that and you can formulate that as part of your messaging, you are able to attract more of them.

Get Michael’s new book The Game Changing Attorney on Amazon.

Find out more at CrispVideo.com.

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