Have you ever heard the phrase “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em”?
Well, there seems to be a lot of that going around lately in the estate planning world. Every day I am seeing new social media posts and blog posts that are rip-off versions of the posts I have been doing for years. Some are almost exact copies. I don’t know whether to be aggravated about it or flattered by it. Well, if I'm being honest, I’m aggravated.
Around three years ago I was talking with my good friend Tom Foster, of Foster Web Marketing. By the way, if Foster Web Marketing isn’t doing your website, they should be. Contact me and I’ll explain why.
Anyway, we were brainstorming ideas about how to make estate planning interesting to non-lawyers. Let’s face it, if you aren’t an Estate Planning lawyer, the subject can seem a bit dry. We got to talking about pop culture and how it would be fun to apply some estate planning lessons to our favorite Celebes, TV characters, and more.
At the time, it was the last season of Game of Thrones, and I wrote a Blog Post about it. If you want to read it, it’s HERE, but the long and short of it is that I prepared some advice for John Snow’s estate plan. It was tongue-in-cheek, but the advice was real. It was the honest and true recommendation that I would give to a real person in his situation.
From there, we started doing all kinds of posts. Star Wars, Tiger King, James Bond, Stephen King. We also started blogging about the estates of celebs that passed away. We did Michael Jackson, Kenny Rogers, Chadwick Boseman, Kobe Bryant, and more. It got to the point where I was starting to be known as “the pop culture lawyer” and Tom told me that “whenever a celeb dies, I think of you.”
The goal was to give real-life good information while having a little fun.
For a while, we were alone in this. We took pride in doing something that no one else was. But we weren’t alone for long.
I watched as more and more Estate Planning lawyers started copying our formula. It was a few at first, and then more and more. They were all writing about celeb estates, and estate planning advice for pop culture characters. Even our closest competition, in our own city, starting to rip off the idea. Now, this particular firm was copying our website almost verbatim, and every time we introduced something new, they would be right behind us offering the same thing. They keep copying, almost daily. And like I said, it has been aggravating. I want to scream at them and tell them to get their own ideas. But what good would it do? My friend Matt Tate suggested that I talk about what it’s like to be copied, and it led to this post.
Instead of getting angry, my plan is to keep doing what I do and to keep doing it better than anyone else. My team and I will keep coming up with new and better ideas, and we will continue to innovate in our field.
In the meantime, I’m sure the copiers will keep copying. I pity them for their lack of ideas, and even more so, I pity their clients. If these firms can’t even innovate in a blog post, how are they going to creatively problem solve in an estate plan? Because that’s all an estate plan is, ladies and gentlemen – it’s problem-solving.
I will close with a piece of advice – before you hire a law firm for your estate planning in Massachusetts (or New Hampshire) check out their website. See if they are doing the pop culture thing, and if so, take a look at the dates on those posts. If you see that they are copying us, think about whether you want to put your family in their hands. If they can blatantly rip me off, why can’t they do the same to you?
Come to the innovators instead. We are ahead of the curve – isn’t that where you’d rather be?