Beware of the friendly fool

By July 18, 2018 March 6th, 2019 Marketing, Web/Tech

When it comes to helpful marketing advice…

Beware of friendly fools.

They seem nice (because they are), but remember: they don’t understand effective marketing.

Meet A Wise Man

Don Miller is a wise man. And he runs  a marketing company called StoryBrand.

He definitely understands effective marketing.

Miller offers simple, but powerful, advice that you can easily follow.

For example: the #1 rule for websites is that they must pass the “grunt test.”

Here’s how Miller explains the grunt test.

“Take a moment to review the homepage of your website…

Within the first five seconds, a first-time visitor should be able to answer these three questions:

1. What do you offer?
2. How will it make my life better?
3. What do I need to do to buy it?

Basically, could a caveman look at your website and immediately grunt what you offer?

“You make cupcakes! Cupcakes yummy and fresh!

Me call to order cupcakes!”

So that’s Miller’s concise description of the grunt test.

You’re trying to describe what you do in a way that makes even a first time website visitor: (1) understand what you offer, and (2) want to get it—assuming they are a member of your target audience.

For lawyers, the three grunt test questions are as follows:

  1. What kind of law do you practice?
  2. How do you help your clients feel better?
  3. How do I get in touch with you?

Very few lawyer websites pass the grunt test.

Here’s the problem…

You must be realistic

The reason you need to quickly convey what you do is because…

People are easily distracted while surfing the web.

This is a harsh reality. But you have to deal with it.

You have a few seconds to let potential clients know that you know how to solve their legal problem, and…

…that you care about helping them for reasons beyond just making money.

Unfortunately, some (supposed) website experts offer conflicting advice.

They tell you your website needs to look pretty.

That’s what matters most, they’ll say.

But you know how to spot a foolish web expert now.

Because you know about the Grunt Test.

So let’s just confirm real quick that you understand it.

The “Grunt Test” Quiz

Look at the website home page below for 5 seconds; then close your eyes.

See if you can figure out what kind of legal matters this firm handles.

No cheating.

See if you can figure out what that firm does before you scroll down (where the answer will be revealed).

You could take 5 minutes, 30 minutes, a whole hour…

And you’d never figure out what kind of law this firm does just by looking at the home page, right?

Okay, before we reveal what they do (because at this point you’re curiosity is piqued)…

Let’s see what a supposed web expert said about this website’s home page…

A Foolish Expert’s Opinion

The folks who run the Lawyerist website are super nice guys.

I know them personally. I like them a lot.

I admire the fact that they built a well-known legal website.

Apparently, they now are holding themselves out as law firm website experts.

So, yes they’re nice. And yes they built a big, popular legal website.


When it comes to marketing, they’re foolish because they picked this website as one of the Best Websites of 2017.

Did you catch their analysis of the website?

They gave it the “Best Law Firm Website” award because the home page you see above “communicates a strong narrative theme.”


Your website needs simple clear messaging (not clever phrases).

If people can’t figure out in 5 or 10 seconds what kind of law you practice you’re toast.

Don’t take foolish advice when it comes to marketing your practice—especially online marketing.

For what it’s worth, here is the company that I worked with to design my ErnieTheAttorney website.

They create elegant websites that pass the grunt test with flying colors.

Oh, and go grab a copy of Don Miller’s book: Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen.

The reviews on Amazon are off the charts!

The Bottom Line…

I believe that too many solo and small firm lawyers are overworked, underpaid, and under appreciated. So my mission is to help them create practices that are easier to manage, more profitable, and much more fulfilling.

I do this through my Co-Pilot group coaching program. If you want to take your practice to the next level, then you should check it out.

Why join the C0-Pilot program?

Lawyers in my Co-Pilot membership program get personal guidance from me to help them stay on track as they grow their practices, which is something that they greatly appreciate. You wouldn’t know that obviously, because you don’t know me very well yet.

The better you get to know me, the more you’ll realize how much I believe in you (because I know you’re probably a lot like this lawyer).

Specifically, I believe you’re capable of achieving more and achieving it sooner than you probably think.

The key to this is focusing on the right things in your practice (i.e. the 20% that gives you 80% of the big results you’re looking for).

When you join the Co-Pilot program I’ll show you the simplest, most effective things you can do to create your ideal practice.

To learn more about the program and/or sign up, click here.

If you want to book a free 30-minute call to talk about your specific goals and how I believe I can help click here.


  • R.. Earl Warren says:

    Hi – ‘ernie the attorney’ –
    I love the drop-down sequence of your screens. The structure of this web site certainly helps to engage your reader(s). And – your message(s) are clear & focused.

    by the way – my experience over many years – my prospective clients frequently focused on the wrong legal issue(s). Their corporate issue might actually be a tax question, or perhaps a issue of holding stock in a trust rather than individually, for example. Sometimes it’s a Will question where the dispositive provision was based on a contingency which did not occur.

    We [us lawyers] have to stop and think – focus before we decide on a course of action.


    • Thanks Earl. Yes, it’s true: communicating clearly requires a lot of extra effort. You have to put yourself in the mind of someone else, and that’s very hard to do. But it’s worth learning if you want to be successful in any aspect of business (including practicing law).