In this episode, Steve Fretzin and Kathleen McEntee discuss:
- Kathleen’s journey from strategy to full service marketing.
- Branding versus marketing.
- Distinguishing yourself from your competitors.
- Talking about what you do and not assuming people know what you do and what your brand is.
- When you are living in the weeds, you are not looking at the bigger picture and looking at how your customer is seeing you.
- The marketing pushes the branding out to the target audience.
- Even if you do the same thing as your competition, if nobody is talking about it, and it is something that people care about, you can stand out by talking about it.
- Ask recent clients what they thought about your business, how you responded, and if and why they would refer you to others. That will tell you what you need to do to sharpen your brand.
“Whatever you’re really best at, and whatever you have a passion for, is what you use to distinguish yourself within whatever your area of specialty.” — Kathleen McEntee
Strategic Coach: https://www.strategiccoach.com/
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Show notes by Podcastologist Chelsea Taylor-Sturkie
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people, lawyers, business, clients, marketing, kathleen, estate planning attorney, helping, practice, thought, steve, legalese, process, branding, differentiator, distinguishes, spent, brand, blue ocean, website
Narrator, Steve Fretzin, MoneyPenny, Jordan Ostroff, Kathleen McEntee, Practice Panther
Kathleen McEntee [00:00]
What you really have to do is you have to kind of think about what is your passion, you became an estate planning attorney for a reason.
You’re listening to be that lawyer, life changing strategies and resources for grilling a successful law practice. Each episode, your host, author and lawyer coach, Steve Fretzin, will take a deeper dive helping you grow your law practice in less time with greater results. Now, here’s your host, Steve Fretzin.
Steve Fretzin [00:36]
Hey, everybody, welcome to be that lawyer. I hope you’re having a fabulous day as the announcer mentioned, I am Steve Fretzin, I run a company called Fretzin Inc. And what we do is only two things and we do them pretty well. One is we help ambitious lawyers to grow their law practices through an MBA style coaching and training and advisory program. We also work with highly successful attorneys through our peer advisory groups, getting them into groups and helping them solve each other’s problems and also just providing great you know, best practices and fresh ideas for each other bringing guest speakers and all kinds of fun stuff. So if that’s of interest, please do not hesitate to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org for an evaluation and just get to know each other better. Happy to do that. Kathleen, how are you waiting in the wings? How’s it going?
I’m doing great. Steve, how are you? Doing? Well
Steve Fretzin [01:22]
saw you at the pro visors group leader retreat. That was a ton of fun. Had some good times there? Yes, definitely. So shout out to our all of our friends at pro visors. We love our providers folks have to take a moment to thank the sponsors money Penny working with you every day to answer your phones in a professional way. Handle your live chat on your website. We’ve got practice Panther, just automating everything you need in a small law practice to make things run. And of course, legalese helping on the marketing side with the newsletters and the this and that and the other all very good partners to the show and friends of mine. So wonderful stuff. Kathleen, you’ve got a quote of the show, and it’s a very famous one we all know very well
just do it. Now let us just do it was that that’s a Nike. So that’s a Nike I borrowed from it. Because what I see is, is so many people, especially in marketing, they gnashed their teeth. They are they nod their teeth, they they wrench their hands, they get so worked up in the process that nothing ever happens. Yes, you spend all this time planning and nothing’s been executed. So what I tell people at the very end of everything, just do it. Don’t worry about the mistakes. You can pick those up later.
Steve Fretzin [02:38]
Yeah. Is that similar to like, Perfection is the enemy of good? Yeah. Yeah. Something like that. Yeah. And you’re talking to a perfectionist so I was the opposite. I was my father’s the perfectionist, I was always the one that took the shortcuts and tried to get out of stuff and whatever. I that’s turned around quite a bit. But still I do I do just like to you know, wing things and just you know, I think if you know your subject well enough, and you’ve done things long enough, you know, you can you can pull it off without too much of a of a challenge. But Kathleen McAtee, founder of Kathleen McAtee, and Associates, we have known each other for many, many years reunited at the pro visors group leader Summit. And do you remember so you remembered where we met? We met it out at a luncheon
at one of the President’s luncheons that you held on my very first client, Marc Milstein from Capitol autobody dragged me to one of those luncheons because he was like the king of networking. And that’s where we met you.
Steve Fretzin [03:36]
Yeah. And I remember his tagline which was, which was I wish we could say we came up with it. I don’t think we did. But he’s an auto body guy. And his tagline was, we will we will meet by accident, which I thought, right. I mean, he just said that everywhere he went and everybody loved it and smiled and laughed. And he’s he’s, he was a terrific part of the I think mostly the Northbrook chambers where I met him. But yeah, we were running I think eight to 10 of those luncheons every single month between me and a couple of my cohorts and having a lot of fun with it. So very cool. So we’ve known each other a long time. I’d love for you to give like a little background on yourself leading up to running this terrific marketing agency and and how you kind of came to be sure.
I spent a number of years in corporate America I spent time in consumer packaged goods and pharmaceuticals. I then went to I spent 15 years with Abbott north side of Chicago, I ran the what I’ll call the commercial business for the consumer products, which would be small brands like Similac and ensure we sold to people like Walgreens and Kmart Walmart, organizations like that. Then I spent some time over Cardinal Health and Cardinal Health distributes or and I was part of the distribution group and I headed National Retail national accounts. And what what Cardinal did was they sold the pharmaceuticals that drug companies or pharmacies didn’t buy direct. So it was same customer different kind of products. It was kind of sick of the corporate bureaucracy, and all the politics. So I went to a privately held company and spent seven years there. And I was in charge of sales and marketing part of operations in international. And even though it was a privately held company, we still had politics and challenges and whatever. And I looked around, and my tipping point was, I can do this myself, why am I doing this for everybody else. And so, you know, when I started the last thing I and I manage sales forces for, you know, 30 something years. So the last thing I wanted to do was managed another sales force. And I obviously had been part of marketing. So I thought, I’m going to help small and midsize businesses focus on strategy, developing their strategies and growing their businesses. But what I really learned quickly, and that’s kind of around the time that I met you, Steve, was that companies really didn’t want to talk about strategy. They wanted somebody around who could do something that they didn’t know how to do to promote their businesses. So Mark from Capitol autobody, called me and said, Do you know what Yelp is I just signed up with a contract with these people. And I have no idea what they do. And then someone else called me and said, I’m in the process of doing direct mail to my customers, but I have no idea what to say to them what this should look like getting help with that. And then at the time, and all through corporate America, I also hit a second home in the desert in the Palm Springs area. And so I made a conscious effort, when I started my business stutter, start in Chicago, where my home base was, and to open a second practice in the desert and commute, which I did for about 11 years. And so when I came out to the desert, and I met people in the desert, the local hospital, I connected with someone from the local hospital, and they called me and said, Can you do PR? And I thought, how hard can that be? I mean, I’ve sold to the best and the worst of them. And so slowly, but surely, I went from strategy to full service marketing and where we are today.
Steve Fretzin [07:33]
That’s it and I love the be that lawyer tipping point of I’m, hey, I’m sick of doing this for someone else, I can actually build a business around this myself, which I think is what a lot of lawyers think about when they you know, have that that epiphany about what it would be like to go solo or would it be like to grab a partner and then go off on our own. And most of those end up if they’re smart, they end up really happy. And they end up satisfied. And they you know, as long as again, they they put in the work and they they find good people like you and I and others to help them with the with the stuff that they’re not super knowledgeable about, right? They might know the law, but marketing, branding, business development, those are all, you know, foreign languages to most lawyers, are not the people listening to my show, Kathleen, by the way, they’re all you know, on top of it, but most lawyers would say yeah, it’s it’s, you know, again, not taught in law school not taught at the law firm level. So
let’s get it like, I like to tell people that I like my boss.
Steve Fretzin [08:25]
So she’s, she’s the best. She’s the best. You know, she just so agreeable. So why do lawyers, as I mentioned, they don’t learn this stuff. But in addition to that, they really do struggle with marketing and branding and sort of like trying to like, work their way through the woods, how they build not only their law firm, but maybe even their their individual practice within a law firm, right? Because even though they’re at a firm, it’s still sort of you Inc, like, they’re the ones that know the name that they want to keep building up not just promoting their law firm name.
Well, here’s the thing. It’s like everything else in life. When you are so close to something, you’re kind of living and thinking in the weeds. You’re not thinking about the bigger picture, you’re now looking at yourself as if your customer is looking at you. You’re looking at what you do, how you do it, when you do it. All those sorts of things. And well being in the weeds is important because you actually have to do the work. Talking about the work is a whole different ballgame. And that’s why I think lawyers have a have a challenge. They tend to be I’ll make some generalizations. They tend to be very detail oriented. You have to be they speak in legalese because they have to write, they look at things from a win or lose standpoint. But when you’re trying to market to people, you have to speak differently. You know, it’s a scary thing to say but for those of us who have been around for a while in communications You have to write it that 13 year old level, because that’s how most people read. And lawyers don’t do that on a regular basis just because this is their end. Yeah. So something I think
Steve Fretzin [10:11]
there’s even I think there’s even writing programs now that help tell you how what you’ve written will be best communicated to the, to whatever to the audience like, Yes, I’ll tell you, Hey, this is this is perfect. You’re speaking to me, like I’m 12. Or, hey, you know what? I’m not I’m not an MBA on PC better, you know, comment down?
Yeah, exactly. And it’s hard to step out at that, because you’re embroiled in doing what you do best. So sometimes, it’s easier for you to have somebody or a lawyer for somebody else to come in, look at things a little differently. What here’s what I often find, too, when I ask lawyers, what they do, they tell me what they do, but kind of what they think I should know about what they do. And, and by that, I mean, sometimes they give me the general broad brush. But I really need to know I need to lift up those covers kind of get into it to understand better what they do. Right? And sometimes it’s, and that’s what helps me articulate better for them. What I’ll call their secret sauce.
Steve Fretzin [11:21]
Yeah. Do they also get confused between branding and marketing? And if so, what are the differences from your perspective?
Yeah, so marketing really is reaching out to your target audience, or maybe existing customers to stay top of mind. So when they do need you, they knew know, know how to call, right. Branding, is really how you’re going to position yourself to talk about yourself, how you look, you know what your logo is, how you, if you have a tagline, if you have certain colors, if you have certain mannerisms, whether it’s you or your firm, depending on how large it is. That’s really the branding, and the marketing positions, the branding and pushes the branding out and a key cohesive message to the target audience.
Steve Fretzin [12:13]
So So in an easy example, would be Nike, with the swoosh with the just do it. And then the marketing would be how they actually, you know, get your products. Yes, exactly. Okay, perfect, perfect. So how does then a lawyer, let’s just take an estate planning attorney, how many estate planning attorneys are there, you know, in Chicago, right around the country or whatever? How do they differentiate themselves create a brand or differentiate themselves or figure out like, how do they set themselves apart from the 10,000? Estate planners that are all in the same market competing for the same business?
That that’s a great question. And that’s what we work on with our clients. Because here’s the thing, I’ve met several people, you know, several estate planning attorneys, when I say, Oh, what do you do I do just what he does wrong answer. Wrong answer. What you really have to do is you have to kind of think about what is your passion? You became an estate planning attorney for a reason, whether you saw a catastrophic thing happened because somebody didn’t have an estate plan or a will. Whether you, whether you just like to put things together so that families can be it can have a legacy with their what whatever that is, that is what you have to package. Because in essence, that’s your secret sauce, or what is it that you do best? Do you not only look at a whole picture, but can you put the picture in place so as to, you know, help down the line with taxes, help companies or help the family think families figure out their legacy. Or maybe it’s helping families figure out what they’re going to do with a company that the kids don’t want, whatever the case may be, whatever you’re really best at, and whatever you have a passion for, is what you use to distinguish yourself within your whatever your area of specialty.
Steve Fretzin [14:21]
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Steve Fretzin [15:51]
And assuming that everybody is good at what they do and passionate about estate planning, are there other things that they should be looking at to separate themselves? Like, maybe it’s a different level of service? Maybe it’s automation, maybe it’s a personal story they have from their past? That, you know, they had they were part of a terrible estate debacle that destroyed their family and everybody went in different directions. And that’s why they became an estate planning attorney. And that story is like critical to their brand or their their mission or whatever it is that something they should be considering is what’s gone have gone down in their life.
Yes. So that, and and here’s what we try to ask and do for each of our clients. People can talk about who they are and what they do and what distinguishes themselves. And, and they can feel as though distinct, distinguishing themselves from their competition. Typically, the competition is talking about the same stuff, right? For sure. So what we ask our clients to do, and what we try to bring to the table is we develop what I’ll call a process. And we could labels in that process, we put an image in that process. And so for example, and this is just off the top of my head, let’s say I’m an estate planning attorney, here’s my process, we sit down and we provided and we conduct an initial assessment, we, we look at all of the options, opportunities, family obstacles, positive things, whatever. We then identify objectives. The next thing we do objectives and long term goals, we also identify short term goals, then the next thing that we do is we come back we develop a plan, which we think will will, will work for the for the client, you know, especially if it’s in the case of estate planning, if it includes a lot of real estate, and a lot of tentacles and complexities. And we come back with the client, we review with the client. Here’s what we heard, here’s what what we’ve determined would be the best approach. Here are the pros and cons of each of the things that we’ve laid out. Here’s the timeline. And then we go back we make changes, then, you know, and you see what I mean. So we established kind of like a process. And then what we do is we put an image to the process, and we label each one of the steps. And then we name the process. Right? So it could be as simplistic as the XYZ estate plan process, right? Or we could name it some with some acronym, depending upon the client. Then when you go to meet a prospective client, and they say, Well, what distinguishes you from other estate planning attorneys, you say? Well, we do what other estate planning attorneys does, right? We meet with you, we develop an estate plan that will minimize your tax obligations, that will maximize what you want to do on a long term basis in terms of goals and objectives. And you can go on to that and but you know, the people they have met with prior to you have said the same thing. So then you say, but you know, what does really distinguishes us are XYZ process. And the reason we have this process is so that you know that every one of our every one of our clients gets the same attention with the same process so that we don’t miss anything. And then you more or less sell the process. So now and several of my clients have said But I don’t get it. They do the same thing. And what I tell them is the differences you’re talking about. Yeah.
Steve Fretzin [20:09]
Well, I always say that the two litmus tests for any differentiator, whether that’s a process, whether that’s what you’re best at a passion, something tragic that happened to you that you want to bring up your story, whatever the case might be that the number one is, is it something that only your is it something people actually care about? Right? And the other is, is it something that no one else is saying. And if it passes those two litmus tests, generally you’re onto something that could be a differentiator, or unique, you know, kind of business proposition or branding statement or something like that. And that most people have a hard time coming up with something that can get past those two litmus tests. Yes, you’re upset with that. But that’s the key, if you find that, then you’re, you’re on your way out.
And I’ll tell you what I learned early on, which was very helpful. When I early on, when I jumped off the corporate cliff to do my own thing. You know, I had been in big corporate America. So you know, I’d gone through back in the day, Xerox professional selling skills, and all these classes, but nothing really taught me from an entrepreneur standpoint, how to look at things. So I joined Strategic Coach, they’re actually kind of down the street from you, they’re over by all here. And it’s a company that works with, and I’m not plugging them by any means. But it’s a company that works with entrepreneurs, and their focus talks about how you should should surround your people who have complementary skill sets to you so that you can flourish. And I thought, you know, what, that’s really good idea. That’s brilliant. Because now I can, I don’t have to hold, I don’t have to do it all myself. Right. And as part of that process early on, you know, as I went through the program, they had everybody do it. 360s. So they had us email, you know, call if you wanted to, but email people and say, What do you think I’m really good at? And, you know, that’s kind of unnerving. You know, I’m not one to be something my chest, I’m not aggressive like that. And I thought, oh, you know, I have to go out to people, I have to ask them this. But I’ll tell you, it was humbling. Because when they came when when I got the responses, things that I thought everybody did, people came back and said things like, we always know you will get back to us, we always know you will be a straight shooter. Right? We always know you will be direct. And then that’s actually how I built the conversation around my company brand. And how I built the process that we use with our clients. Because I asked people what they thought people who knew me in business for a long time, what they thought, and they told me, I mean,
Steve Fretzin [23:11]
it’s so funny, because I as you’re saying, this, I’m going that’s exactly who you are. Like, I’ve never known you to ever sugarcoat anything. You’re always as straight as they come, you’re 10 minutes early for a meeting, like you’re just like this. Yeah, that is exactly it. That’s so funny. But that’s why it’s so good to get that feedback. Because if people can be honest with you, and they will be, you can really start to identify things that you may not see yourself, which is kind of where you started this whole this whole conversation.
Well, and here’s the thing, too, when you’re branding your company, you have to tell people what your brand is, right? It’s not like people will begin to assume that’s the biggest challenge that I think some companies have this. They assume that when they tell people what they do, people will get it. Well, they don’t. You have to tell them, you have to tell them what your brand is. So earlier this week, we had a conference call with this prospective client. And they were asking about the firm and what do we do? And I said, here’s, here’s what I’m really good at? Yes, we build websites. Yes, we provide social media support. Yes, we can help you with brochures. But what I’m really good at is when you tell me what you do, within five minutes, I can condense that from a five minute story to about 10 seconds. And that’s all you have, when you’re trying to convince somebody to do business with you. That’s what I’m really good at the rest of the stuff. We’re really good at that. But if I can’t get to the core of that I’m not going to be effective for you.
Steve Fretzin [24:51]
Yeah, and you know, one of the things lawyers have the most challenge with websites and marketing and all that aside is when they are in a group and they have to give an infomercial, and you and I are old timey networkers. But when you go around a room and lawyers, I’m an estate planner, we do wills, we do trust, we do this, we do this, we do this, and everybody’s just like looking at their phone or spacing out or, you know, whatever. And now it’s on Zoom, and they’re just staring at their email. So, like, how so? How do we use a unique,
Steve Fretzin [25:21]
you know, like positioning statement or, or a differentiator within the context of an infomercial to get people’s attention? So they really get who we are,
as what we do? Yes, question. Okay. Have an ask them a question. With, for example, what I say, from a marketing standpoint is, have you ever been in a situation where you’ve met someone, you’ve asked them about your business, their business? They tell you, and you have absolutely no idea what they do. That’s my opening mark. What do you think I do
Steve Fretzin [26:01]
now? Right? Yeah, yeah, you so so give you give the problem or ask the question. And the the assumed answer is, is what everyone’s thinking? Yeah. So let me let me throw one out. What’s the one thing you didn’t learn in law school that you wish you had? Now, I’m not saying that to you, Kathleen, but to the audience, right? I think nine out of 10 people listening would say business development, marketing, right, that the business side, that’s like, the every lawyer has said that to me, at some point or another. They never learned this in law school. So that’s the kind of question I can ask, right? To get people to realize, yeah, that’s what I’m doing is I’m teaching you the things you never learned in law school. And I don’t even have to say that, right? I can just they just assume that, you know that I can jump into something else.
Let’s say you’re an estate planning attorney, and I’m no expert. But we have worked with this estate planning attorneys. Maybe it’s something like, have you do you have a friend or a relative who has had some sort of catastrophic life event where their estate was not protected to protect them? Yeah, you know, it might be something as easy as that. And that’s when the light bulb goes on what you’re trying to position. Your question to be, is to be the light bulb aha moment for them. Yeah. Or, you know, have had, are you aware of a friend or a relative who suddenly passed away who owned a huge business, and now the family is flailing? That’s what I
Steve Fretzin [27:37]
are fighting. Right now. There’s a battle right now happening internally. I mean, I can’t tell you just just a state for the state planners. I mean, I’ve had two big family, breakups because of of a loved one dying. And whether there was, you know, a will or not didn’t matter, they just they were going to battle over it. And they were going to break up the family because they were greedy and looking out for themselves. And it’s happened in two different sides of my family. So I’m just saying, like, when you put that kind of emotional triggers into a room or to a person, you know, it could really it could really hit home.
Yep, absolutely. So let’s,
Steve Fretzin [28:13]
let’s wrap up with with two things. One is, what would be your number one tip for someone that has a brand or what they believe to be their brand to improve that brand. And then we’re going to move on to Game Changing books. So what would be that one thing that you say, really helps people to sharpen their current
brand? I would say ask your ask recent clients, what they thought about your business, how you responded? And why if and why they would refer you to others that will tell you what you do need to do to sharpen your brand. Yeah. Because if if your existing customer or most recent customer doesn’t, can’t articulate that, then there’s a problem. What they Cobley can do is give you some ideas of how to better Crispin up either your story, your outreach, your looking feel, whatever the case, maybe people, people, especially those who are satisfied are more than willing to help. That’s what I learned early on, all you have to do is ask.
Steve Fretzin [29:21]
You know, it’s not that difficult to put together a five question survey on Survey Monkey and email a bunch of clients I I’m doing that now at the end of the year, and I’m turning it into a hot this may be just totally off off the rails, but I’m making it into like a holiday gift thing like hey, complete this survey, and I’ll immediately send you this great holiday gift that you’ve been waiting for something like that. I’m just trying to get because I know if I don’t do something, encourage them there. They love me. That’s wonderful. I love them. We’re a big love fest. But when it comes to taking three to five minutes to fill out a survey, they’d probably rather put a cork in their eyes. Yeah, some incentive might be helpful. Yeah. All right, Kathleen, we are moving on to gay ain’t changing books and your game changing book for the show is blue ocean strategy that comes up quite a bit not on the show. But in my life in my world Blue Ocean Strategy. Why do you like that book so much?
Well, you know, it’s not like I’ve read it 100 times, and it’s a tough read.
Steve Fretzin [30:15]
It is a tough read.
It’s a right. It’s a tough read. But what it it helped me with my aha moment of all right, I’m swimming with the sharks. How do I move from the sharks to a different pool? So I’m positioning myself differently. And that’s, that’s, that was kind of like my lightbulb moment.
Steve Fretzin [30:40]
Yeah. And that’s, that’s we’re not calling that your tipping point. We’re calling that your lightbulb moment. That’s another segment. I’m starting on that many segments already I got game changing bugs, I got tipping points. I got all this stuff. But it’s so funny, Kathleen, that that is the exact and only takeaway that I can remember from reading that book. And I don’t want to turn people away from reading it. But if you want to just you know, take a couple minutes to listen to us tell you what it’s about. You get the gist right gold where the blue ocean is you’re swimming within the bloodied Red Sea with the sharks. Go Go find where that is. And most lawyers really struggle with that, which is why I think they need to talk to you and and figure out kind of where their blue ocean is, what their differentiator is how they can differentiate themselves in the marketplace, and they’re just not doing it. They’re waiting too long. Just kind of hustling and working through it, versus maybe taking an easier path. Yeah, great stuff. So listen, if people want to get in touch with you to find their blue ocean with you, what are the ways best ways for them to reach you?
Best way to reach me is Jay McEntee, K MC e n t e at K Mac and tk MC enteassoc.com. So it’s K McEntee K McEntee so stack comm you can go on my website, you can put an increase through the website, our website, or you can email me directly. Okay, we’ll
Steve Fretzin [32:05]
put all that in the show notes too. So if you check the bottom of your phone or what my website or whatever, whatever you’re listening, whatever platform you’re on. But Kathleen, just a pleasure to see you a few weeks ago. It’s a pleasure to have you on the show. I think what you’re doing is awesome. And clearly your your you know, top player in the space. So I just want to thank you for sharing your wisdom with my audience.
Thank you, Steve. You have always been one of my heroes going out doing your own thing. And I’m glad we’re we’ve reconnected after all these years.
Steve Fretzin [32:35]
Yeah, I think we make a good team. So we should definitely keep that up and keep the collaboration going. Listen, everybody. Yeah, right on everybody. Listen up to mind lots of great takeaways and thoughts and tips today from my conversation with Kathleen hopefully you’re getting some good ideas to be that lawyer someone who’s competent, organized and a skilled Rainmaker. Be safe be well, we’ll talk again all soon.
Thanks for listening to be that lawyer, life changing strategies and resources for growing a successful law practice. Visit Steve’s website fretzin.com For additional information, and to stay up to date on the latest legal business development and marketing trends. For more information and important links about today’s episode, check out today’s show notes