Several years ago I started an LLC in New York State, where new businesses are required to announce themselves in a newspaper for 6 weeks. A print paper. I stuck my head in the sand for a month, then started Googling how to get it done: which newspapers were acceptable, how much it would cost, etc.
Not only was the information hard to find, it turns out that in NYC this is an especially stupid and expensive process. A rude Kings County clerk told me I needed to go downtown for the details, because he’s not allowed to provide them over the phone or through email (“I don’t make the laws, lady”).
Confused about what century I was living in, I went back to Google looking for ways to get out of the publishing obligation. Surely this was just a silly technicality that wouldn’t really affect my business, right?
The first result was an attorney in downtown Manhattan named Scott Thomas, so I visited his blog and was educated on why publishing my LLC was indeed important, and that he could handle the entire thing for me, for a nominal fee.
Not only was Mr. Thomas responsive and empathetic to my LLC issue, he’s practicing exactly the type of inbound marketing that I promote through my HubSpot consulting: I had a problem, I Googled it, I found him, I hired him (repeatedly), and now I’m telling other people about my experience.
What business owner wouldn’t want this? More importantly, why isn’t every business doing it?
Scott graciously agreed to the following interview — I hope you take away some inspiration for your own marketing.
Scott, I found your website because I have a new LLC, and apparently it’s a big ordeal and expense to publish it in NYC. After reading a few blogs on the subject, I Googled “what happens if I don’t publish my llc in new york” and your site was the first result. Are you used to dealing with scofflaws like me? I assume if you wrote about it, it must come up a lot!
Yes, the issue comes up a lot, and I sympathize with small business owners who don’t want to pay the publishing fees. I didn’t either when I formed Thomas Law Firm PLLC! I also found the process confusing, pointless, etc. when I formed my company, which is why I began to offer the service. I make hardly any money on publishing, but I form a lot of LLCs so I do the publishing mainly as a convenience for my clients.
Am I the first result? I didn’t even know that. I just wrote that FAQ because I get asked those same questions on a weekly basis and I wanted a resource to direct my clients to.
What do you think will happen with this LLC publishing requirement once the print newspapers all go digital? The law seems so antiquated.
Agreed, the law is ridiculous, however, as a responsible attorney I have to advise my clients to abide by the law. Not sure about the future of it. There have been lobbying efforts to get it removed but the legislature continues to uphold it.
I see from your website you’ve been an attorney for four years, and prior to that worked eight years in business management. Considering how effective your website is, do you have a background in marketing, too?
Yes. I graduated from a competitive undergraduate B School with a BS in Marketing and I have an MBA in Marketing as well. I also managed a small retail business for several years, so I know the importance of customer service.
I’m really impressed by your blog, the natural language in your answers, and the fact that it’s mobile compatible. Who designed your site?
Thanks for the kind words. I designed the entire site and I maintain it. I do some coding and design work in my spare time and I actually had a great time designing the site. It initially took about 4 months to put together and I’m constantly updating it and trying to make it more user-friendly, informative, visually attractive, etc.
I write informally and for clients, not attorneys. I try to simplify technical legal issues and write in tone/style that is less boring than the typical attorney blog. Most of my clients are young entrepreneurs and I feel they appreciate and relate better to this, and it’s how I prefer to write as well.
What made you start blogging, and how do you come up with topics?
My topics generally come from actual questions I get on a repeated basis. That’s how I know it will probably be SEO friendly as well. I mean, I’ve literally fielded hundreds of questions on LLC Publication so that article was a no-brainer.
Do you use a marketing agency or pay for ads? Do you have a blogging schedule that keeps you focused on creating new content?
I write all the articles, do all the design, basically everything. I don’t pay for any advertising or marketing. My blogging schedule is based upon my caseload, which is why I normally only do one post per month. I stay really busy.
I noticed you have all of the major social media accounts set up, and some great reviews on Google! How do you find the time to manage them all? Do you schedule time during your week for each one?
No. I just do the best I can, there’s no set schedule. If I do a favor for a client (such as this Q&A, wink wink!) I will encourage them to leave me a Google review, but I always leave it up to them and ask that they just write a quick and honest note about their experience with my firm.
Do you use any “outbound” marketing tactics like print/radio/online banner ads, email lists, and tradeshows? If so, how effective have you found them compared to blogging and social media?
No. No need to. In my industry word of mouth is the most effective, along with blogging and maintaining the website. My overall marketing plan is pretty simple; I treat clients the way I would like to be treated, basically with respect and I try to respond to emails fast and provide valuable services for a fair price. I get a lot of recommendations and repeat clients and that’s how I prefer it.
Thanks again to Scott Thomas from Thomas Law Firm for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer questions about his use of Inbound Marketing! If you’re interested in doing the same for your business, let me know how I can help.