November 2021

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NOV 2021 (800) 406-7229


WILL Screw You Over 3 Reasons

This July, Google’s algorithm team destroyed the marketing strategies of hundreds of small businesses with just a few clicks. The updates they made constituted just another day at the office for them. But for business owners, those clicks were disastrous! Overnight, their companies disappeared from Google’s front page and were buried deep in the search results — exactly where they had paid thousands of dollars not to be. What happened? Well, those unlucky businesses bet on the SEO game and lost. Law firms big and small often pour a huge share of their marketing dollars into SEO rankings, paying third-party marketing companies to get them to the top. But what they usually don’t consider is that Google doesn’t profit from SEO. They don’t care who ranks high and who ranks low. They just care that people are using Google. If you play the SEO game, Google’s team can and will screw you over with every algorithm update. It will be Russian roulette every time whether the change is in your favor. You’ll never know when it’s coming and neither will your third-party marketing team. If you asked Google, I imagine they’d say, “It’s not personal, it’s just business.”

Why SEO Is

A Losing Bet

You might have a chance against the other firms your size, but the big guys will eat your marketing budget for lunch. It makes no sense to try to compete with them, especially because SEO leads are probably only price shopping in the first place. They will leave you at the drop of a hat when something cheaper comes along. 2. SEO creates a terrible user experience. If you cater your online content to the algorithm overlords, you’ll alienate another group of people: your potential clients. Blogs stuffed with keywords and backlinks that rehash current news stories don’t make for very good reading. At best, leads will discount your blog posts. At worst, they might think you’re a robot that doesn’t know much about your industry or can’t write coherently.

“If you play the SEO game, Google’s team can and will screw you over with every algorithm update.”

This Google insanity is just one reason you shouldn’t rely on SEO marketing. Here at Spotlight Branding, we view SEO as basically one big scam. It usually hurts businesses more than it helps them — and here are three more reasons why. 1. Your odds of winning are almost nonexistent. Think about how many law firms there are in your state with the same practice areas you have. Now think about how many there are in the country. Can you beat out all of them — on a purely financial basis — for one of the 10 spots on Google’s first page of search results?

3. Content succeeds where SEO fails. There’s no reason to pay through the nose for SEO when there’s a much better, more costeffective, more reliable option out there: content marketing. Content that caters to people, not algorithms, will position you as the expert, remind readers of what you do, and keep your firm top of mind. And it’s a safe bet! We have used our signature content marketing strategy, The Content Loop™, to help hundreds of solo and small law firms attract the right clients and increase referrals. And we did it without relying on Google.

Content should be the foundation of your marketing strategy. I’m not saying you can’t use SEO at all — if you want to, go ahead! — but it’s too fickle to be your starting point or get the majority of your budget. To learn more about marketing that actually works, visit

Spooootlight 1 2 3 4

–John Hinson




Spotlight Branding was founded 10 years ago in Miami, Florida, and boy, how things have changed. We’ve come from a one-stop shop for any industry that wanted to work with us to one of the most respected legal marketing companies in the country. (Talk about the power of niching down!) We’ve gone from two founders to a team of more than a dozen employees. We moved our headquarters to Charlotte, North Carolina, and became a million-dollar company. Now, we can’t wait to see what the next 10 years will bring. But first — it’s time to party! We’ll be doing a lot of cool things to celebrate over the next few months, all surrounded by the biggest giveaway we’ve ever made: a $30,000 marketing makeover! Here’s what the lucky winner will get: • •

First-class airfare and transportation to our Charlotte-area office One-on-one consulting with our CEO, Marc Cerniglia

• • • •

A strategy session with our copywriting team, who will create a year’s worth of blog content for you A full video shoot A free email newsletter template Social media strategy review and account setup Podcast strategy session and show build

Basically, you’re getting a full year’s worth of content and more in just a couple of days. All for free. Entering the contest is easy, and there are multiple ways to do it! • • • •

Having a free strategy call with us gets you one entry. If you decide to become a client, you get five more! Send us a referral, and you get one entry. If your referral becomes a client, you get five more!

The drawing will happen at the start of 2022. What better way to start the new year than to get a full marketing makeover for your firm?! Visit makeover to enter.

Team-Building Activities You Might Actually Enjoy Here’s something that may shock you: Team-building exercises can be fun! Often, a symphony of groans accompanies team-building games, and usually, that’s because activities designed to help you connect with others are either boring or aren’t something that everyone enjoys. As you return to the office, start a hybrid schedule, or continue to work remotely, consider planning the team-building activities below instead of the standard pizza party in the break room. We guarantee you and your coworkers will have a lot more fun and actually bond. HAVE ALL THE FUN OF A CAMPFIRE WITHOUT THE SMOKE Taking your entire team on a camping trip is a daunting task, but you can do little things


to bring the campsite to your office! For this event, all you need to do is task your team with securing s’mores ingredients and one tea light. Then you (or whoever is the host) will lead everyone through camping-themed games and share scary stories. Everyone participates and roasts their marshmallows for s’mores. This is perfect for fully remote and nationwide teams! USE PROBLEM-SOLVING SKILLS TO HELP YOU ESCAPE Escape rooms challenge your puzzle-solving prowess and require teams to work together to solve riddles, puzzles, and games to, quite literally, escape a room. These games can be found at local (physical) escape room sites, but you can also find board games sold online and platforms where you don’t have to leave your home or office to play! (Remember, escape rooms are designed for smaller teams.)

More Referrals. Better Clients. Higher ROI.

FIND OUT WHICH DEPARTMENT IS THE ‘SMARTEST’ Whether you opt to host theme-based games with questions based on TV shows or holidays or quiz each other on the history or people of the company, trivia is a great way to learn and problem-solve together. You could host monthly or quarterly events to start a tradition and choose to pit departments against each other or split the whole company up into teams. Ultimately, it’s up to you, but don’t forget to include prizes! (We have a gold-plated championship belt for our trivia champ!)

Take the Stress Out of Holiday Hiring 3 Ways to Make the Process More Efficient Hiring is always a nightmare, but 2021 has been a particularly hellish year for the history books. Thanks to the massive labor shortage nationwide, you can’t afford to waste your time on unqualified candidates or bad fits and let the good employees get away. If you’re struggling to separate the wheat from the chaff, try these three efficiencies. 1. Employ specific instructions. Be honest: How many resumes have you gotten where it was clear the person didn’t even read the job listing? Sometimes people desperate for work or looking to meet unemployment requirements will hit every apply button they can find, creating a massive resume pile that’s a drain on your time. To weed out these poor candidates, include a note in your posting requesting readers leave Indeed, Glassdoor, or whatever job site you’re using in order to apply. For another level of insulation, ask that they use a specific email subject line or resume format. This alone will trim RESOURCE OF THE MONTH

Host Office Trivia with Kahoot! Looking for a fun team-bonding activity and a way to spice up your weekly team meetings? Having a quick round of trivia can make it happen! We’re a competitive bunch here in the office, and we’re always down to see who has the most knowledge. Kahoot! makes this really easy. Their platform allows you to create games from a bank of premade questions, or you can customize it and come up with your own. We have a monthly round of Spotlight Branding-specific trivia, which makes for a great incentive for everyone to stay apprised of our SOPs. We’ve even created a championship belt for it, with the winner receiving the honor of proudly displaying it at their desk for the week. It’s a small thing that has proven to be a ton of fun around the office. Visit to get started! Want more tools for your law firm? Visit

80%–90% of the junk applications, leaving you with people who are serious about working for you. 2. Don’t be afraid to quiz candidates. Here at Spotlight Branding, we require applicants to take a short quiz about our industry before they interview. This tests their knowledge and gives us an idea of how they would perform in their position. You can do something similar, or test candidates by role-playing as opposing counsel or a client to see how they would react to a common case scenario. This will help you identify strong candidates and discover people who may have a wealth of practical knowledge even if they have poor interview skills. 3. Leverage the power of personality tests. The most difficult part of the hiring process is finding someone who is not only a qualified candidate, but also a good fit for your firm’s culture. You can use personality tests as a shortcut for this! They’ll help you discover a candidate’s strengths and weaknesses, and you can compare their results to those of your other employees. Stay tuned to next month’s newsletter to find out more about which tests we use here at Spotlight Branding and how they’ve improved our office culture.

FEATURED EPISODE From Our Newest Podcast, Center Stage If you’re looking for more great resources to drive your business forward, take a look at this episode from our newest podcast, Center Stage. 030 – “Building Your Marketing Foundation With Danny Decker” You may have marketing efforts in place for your firm, but is it a cohesive strategy? Do you have ongoing systems in place to ensure a regular stream of business? This week on Center Stage, our old friend Danny Decker joins us to talk about the mistakes he’s seen lawyers make with their marketing, why email is so underutilized, and the downsides of focusing too much on SEO. If you want more referrals, better clients, and higher ROI on all your marketing, call us today at 800-406-7229 to schedule a consultation! Listen to this episode and find even more at and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Pandora, Spotify, or over a dozen other platforms!


9624 Bailey Rd., Suite 270 Cornelius, NC 28031 (800) 406-7229




SEO Sucks


Google WILL Screw You Over


Special Announcement: It’s Our 10th Birthday! Try These Team-Building Exercises ASAP


3 Shortcuts to Efficient Hiring Resource of the Month: Kahoot! The Latest from Center Stage


2 Terrible Website Mistakes (and How to Fix Them)

2 Terrible Website Mistakes AND HOW TO FIX THEM Would you ever go into an important business meeting with your tie on backward or your fly unzipped? Of course you wouldn’t! Like any professional human, you check out those details in the mirror before meeting a client. You know that first impressions matter. So, riddle us this: Why aren’t you taking the same amount of care with your website? Your firm’s site is your digital first impression, and if it’s full of amateur mistakes, then clients will react with the same raised eyebrows they would give an open zipper. Here are two common mistakes that will lose you respect and conversions — and tips for fixing them. MISTAKE NO. 1: DISPLAYING BORING, STEREOTYPICAL IMAGES. No one thinks their website is boring. But if your home page is showing off a gavel, the scales of justice, or your smiling face on the courthouse steps, you’ve created a yawn fest. People who visit your page aren’t stupid — they know you’re a lawyer! You don’t need to hit them over the head with the same cookie cutter images everyone uses after law school. Instead, you should focus on images that create an emotional response. You can do this in a positive way by showing off the results


More Referrals. Better Clients. Higher ROI.

they’re looking for (business success, a happy family, etc.) or a negative one by touching on their pain points (angry spouses, financial ruin, a scared child, etc.). This is a more effective and memorable tactic. MISTAKE NO. 2: PUTTING YOURSELF CENTER STAGE. Is the front page of your website a laundry list of your degrees, awards, and settlement numbers? If it is, you’re making a cardinal mistake: casting yourself as the hero of your brand story. Good marketing makes the client the hero. As “Building a Story Brand” author Donald Miller puts it, “Your customers aren’t interested in you. They’re interested in how you can help them.” So, show that off on your website! Put your resume on the “About” page and present the benefits clients will get from working with you (i.e., peace of mind, financial security, etc.) front and center. Want to learn more about leveling up your website? Visit