Adam Draper is the Chief Executive Officer at Gladiator Law Marketing, a marketing firm aimed at guiding law firms to achieve maximum potential. At Gladiator, Adam is heavily involved in sales, accounting, administrative duties, and cultivating engaging client relations. He served for seven years as a Navigator in the United States Air Force before he started Gladiator Law Marketing. He graduated from the University of Louisville with a master’s of business administration.
Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:
- Adam Draper talks about the reason behind starting Legal Heroes: connecting others with happiness, joy, and opportunities
- How Adam transitioned from military to civilian life and created a sustainable law firm
- Why you should build a foundation of trust and transparency with your business
- Adam discusses the importance of educating your client about offered services to build a reputation
- How to program custom software to increase revenue and client engagement
In this episode…
What can you do to increase the trust between the customer and your business? Are you looking for expert tips to guide you through marketing your firm and engaging with your audience?
Building a business is no easy task. Thankfully, Adam Draper has crafted a transparent solution to guide law firms in their marketing journey: programming accessible and usable sites for your clients to navigate. He has experience carrying out tactical, custom-designed websites that showcases your practice — which can lead to higher visitor traffic and greater revenue.
In this episode of 15 Minutes: Share Your Voice, Chad Franzen of Rise25 sits down with Adam Draper, Chief Executive Officer at Gladiator Law Marketing, to discuss what it takes to create a foundation of transparency. Adam talks about his transition from the military to marketing, establishing trust with clients through education, and programming custom websites to help practices build ranking and revenue.
Resources mentioned in this episode:
- Adam Draper on LinkedIn
- Gladiator Law Marketing
- Chad Franzen on LinkedIn
- Lisa Vaughn on LinkedIn
Sponsor for this episode…
This episode is brought to you by Gladiator Law Marketing, where we deliver tailor-made services to help you accomplish your objectives and maximize your growth potential.
To have a successful marketing campaign and make sure you’re getting the best ROI, your firm needs to have a better website and better content. At Gladiator Law Marketing, we use artificial intelligence, machine learning, and decades of experience to outperform the competition.
You’re listening to 15 Minutes, where we feature community leaders sharing what the rest of us should know, but likely don’t.
Adam Draper 0:15
Hi, I’m Adam Draper, the host of Legal Heroes, where we hear the unsung stories about people putting in the work and making a difference. Today we’re turning the script a little bit. I’ve got Chad Franzen here of Rise25, who has done 1000s of interviews with successful entrepreneurs, investors and CEOs. And he’s actually going to be interviewing me today for change chat.
Chad Franzen 0:35
Hey, Adam, great to see you. Great to talk to you. Thanks so much. Before we get started, I’ll let everybody know that this episode is brought to you by Gladiator Law Marketing, where they deliver tailor made services to help you accomplish your objectives, and maximize your growth potential to have a successful marketing campaign and make sure you’re getting the best ROI. Your firm needs to have a better website and better content at Gladiator Law Marketing. They use cutting edge technology and decades of experience to outperform the competition. To learn more, go to gladiatorlawmarketing.com or schedule a free marketing consultation. You can also send an email to Adam@gladiatorlawmarketing.com. Hey, Adam, great to be here. Thank you so much. Tell me, why are you starting this podcast?
Adam Draper 1:18
Yeah, there’s a lot of different reasons that go into it. And I think there’s a lot of different companies out there that have been starting podcasts. And that’s not necessarily something new, I think you’re the expert on podcasts and probably telling me, you know, when it got first start and how long it’s been around, you know, but it was important to us to have a different spin on it, you know, and not do things just the same as everybody else. And a huge mantra of our own company is putting other people first being very people focused. You know, we’re a family owned business, a lot of the people that work for us have worked for us for years, and even decades, and we wanted to try to develop something that allowed other people to give back in some way to the people in their own lives, or the causes that were important to them, you know, and so we want it to be very positive to give people lots of opportunities to, you know, to share happiness and joy. And so the legal Heroes is really meant to be, you know, kind of twofold processes, one giving people the opportunity and the voice to talk about causes that are of significance to them, and things that they think, need more recognition out there. And that could be different bills that are going through the state legislatures, or maybe it’s community involvement, just, you know, things that they’re involved with in their own life that they want more people to know about, you know, and then also the people that are in their life that, you know, maybe don’t get the recognition that they feel so it’s really developed to give back and to help other people have a voice that maybe don’t have a podcast of their own to do. So.
Chad Franzen 2:56
Who would you say the show is for?
Adam Draper 3:00
Well, you know, obviously, with the legal backgrounds that we have, and just the name in general, you know, the guests, and the main focus of the show would be people that are in the legal community, whether that’s attorneys or judges, or maybe it’s non practicing attorneys, that our teaching, there’s a lot of different guests and directions that we could go with it. And so it’s certainly going to be focused on that. But once we start to interview more people in and we cover more concepts, and we talk about, you know, more people, then I think it’s going to grow and the people that it’s going to be targeted for is going to change, you know, so we don’t really want to limit ourselves too much. I mean, I think it’s important to have direction, you know, going in and otherwise you’re just kind of throwing things at a wall and I don’t think that’s a smart way to go when you’re creating something new. But I do you think that you know, as we delve into different concepts, ideas, different communities, I think that’s up that’ll probably change and adapt as the show changes and adapts.
Chad Franzen 4:06
So tell me a little bit a little bit about you. What was your background coming into Gladiator Law Marketing and kind of how you came up with the idea for Gladiator Law Marketing?
Adam Draper 4:14
Yeah, you and I haven’t talked about this. So this this would be a little bit different. I had a bit of a unique 20s When I was when I was getting my first start as an adult out of college, but I actually was in the Air Force for about eight years, just under eight years, and I was a navigator. So if you’re a Top Gun fan, think goose instead of maverick, and I ended up getting my final station was in Clovis, New Mexico, I was a navigator on a couple of different variants of the C 130 to MC 130s to start and then transitioned over to AC 130 gunships and was a part of that Air Force Special Operations community there and deployed a couple of times And then ended up getting out of the military. I spent a year as a sales rep for GlaxoSmithKline, selling pharmaceuticals down in Fort Myers, Florida. And it just, you know, wasn’t the next best step for me. But coming out of the military, I always had a bit of an interest in entrepreneurship. And so when I started to kind of get the feeling that that wasn’t going to work out long term, I started looking into opportunities to get into business ownership coming out of the military, I really didn’t feel like that was going to be a small step, you know, going from military to entrepreneur all at once. And so I wanted to have an intermediary there. And I ended up working with a consultant from the Small Business Development Center out of FCU, that was there in Fort Myers, to look at various businesses. And what I quickly realized is that if a business is for sale, and is typically for sale for a reason, you know, it’s usually not doing well. And, or maybe they’re trying to get out of it. And they’ve been trying to get out of it, you know, it’s not as intended to quite as well as you would want. And so I just had a very difficult time finding a business that I felt was going to be doable for me and my mentor down there, Dave ended up telling me, I should start walking into businesses that were successful and not for sale. But maybe were run by people that were a little bit older, they were wanting to get out and didn’t have an exit plan, and to offer to buy it. And I kind of semi took that advice, except I ended up turning internal to my family. And my sister, Lisa Vaughn, who owns the company with me now actually, starting Gladiator in Gladiator had been around for a little over a year before I had approached her about joining in the partnership. And she actually owned another major law firm marketing agency that’s still out there today. And I think they had about 50 employees when she ended up leaving and selling her shares of that. So it wasn’t a small, small shop by any means. And she had started Gladiator because she wanted to get back to the stuff that she enjoyed the most, which was being a designer and working with, with law firms a little bit closer. And you when you’re running an agency with 50 people, you don’t really get to spend a lot of your time being a designer, you know, you’re dealing with with other things. And she had actually grown gladiator back up to the point that she was doing a lot of that work that she just didn’t enjoy. And so I came to her and pitched the idea of coming on and doing the things that she didn’t want to do to free her up to be able to spend her time working on designs and doing the things that she likes. And so I joke that my big sister has been telling me what to do my whole life. And it ended up working out pretty good for both of us.
Chad Franzen 7:49
Sure, how long have you been with Gladiator?
Adam Draper 7:53
So 2014 was when I started looking into it, the middle of 2014, and then officially January of 2015. And then the company was started January of 2013. So it had been two years old by the time that I had actually joined,
Chad Franzen 8:12
what would you say during that time has been kind of have been kind of some high points or moments that you’re particularly proud of?
Adam Draper 8:19
I think just growing it and getting it to the point that it’s sustainable. And one of the things again, yes, they were very people focused. Yeah. And so I try to make sure that the company meets a lot of people’s needs, not just mine, I, well, I like to grow the company, and just like anybody that has a business, you know, growth isn’t necessarily always my number one driver, if you look at startups, they have that mantra of grow fast and break things. And I think a lot of times the stuff that they break, you know, they don’t go back and fix and a lot of times the stuff that they break is not part of their company, it’s external, you know, so they kind of create this air of madness and chaos. And that’s not necessarily something that we wanted to do here, you know, we’re very much, making sure that we take care of people and whether that’s me and my sister, or the people that work with us or for us or our clients that we’re working for, in so I think that the things that I’m most proud of is being able to do that. And we do a good job of trying to make sure that the environment that we have here continues to provide benefits to everybody that’s involved in, you know, my sister, Lisa, you just she gets to spend her time doing design work. And that’s something that it took us many years to work to, you know, she didn’t just get to stop being the CEO and owner of the company. You know, the day one when I got on because I didn’t know anything about this, this this industry or the legal world. You know, I had to learn that over many, many years. And so we were able to get her to that point. My mother, our our brother works for the company and so we’re able up to and she’s changed roles a couple of times, but we’re able to give her some extra retirement income. And, you know, there’s various employees that have changed roles, because they have different life events. And you know, they, they needed a company that can be flexible. And, you know, I would say that’s probably what I’m most proud of is, is getting the performance from our clients and being able to be there for employees.
Chad Franzen 10:23
So you weren’t you were a navigator in the Air Force, that’s a pretty unique kind of life experience. Pretty cool. I’ve experienced that everybody, you know, has the ability or or can’t do that, or has done that. What have you kind of taken from that is carried over to Gladiator Law Marketing?
Adam Draper 10:40
Yeah, well, I mean, it’s certainly more of a lifestyle than it is a job, you know, there are times where you drive around with a backpack in your car, because you don’t know if you’re gonna be able to go home, if you get a phone call, you know, and so you’re always leaving, or not always, but when you’re on call, and you’ve got the pager, you know, you kind of leave your life in a way that you can drop it at any moment. And there’s some excitement to that, you know, but it’s also you give up a lot to live that lifestyle. And you’re being in a special operations community, I think, from the outside world, a lot of times the tech, especially with the Air Force, right, the Air Force and the Navy, like, I mean, it’s so much about the gadgets and gizmos, and you know, the airplanes and stuff like that, that a lot of times you lose focus on the people in there. But it really is the people that make special operations, special and unique. And, you know, I think growing up, you know, as someone in their young 20s, in hasn’t had a whole lot of work experience, getting to see the work ethic, and the skill sets and the knowledge and what it takes to really perform at that high of a level and seeing the commitment that other people put into it. You know, it broadens it up, you know, like, if, if you don’t have people in your life that you can see that are working harder, you know, that are getting better performance, you know, you know, it’s difficult to know where to put the bar for yourself. Right. And so being able to see other people that are in a community that really expects and demands, you know, world class results for for your given profession, I would say that that is what I carry over the most, because it allows me to set the bar higher, you know, for myself and for others, knowing that there are people out there that have much higher bars than, you know, what would I have? You know, and I think one of the big things is just knowing that, you know, your competition is always working out there. Right? You know, so you never want to set your bar lower than what your competition setting.
Chad Franzen 12:43
You said, you kind of pride yourself with Gladiator Law on meeting people’s needs. Would you say that’s the main reason that clients might choose you? Or are there other benefits or uniqueness about your company?
Adam Draper 12:56
Well, I mean, you never want to lose sight that marketing is about getting clients, right cases, you know, regardless of how friendly and how good a terms that you’re on with the businesses that you support, you know, at the end of the day, it’s, you know, a business decision, and you’ve got to make sure that you’re producing results from the client, there are certainly some problems and issues that other agencies might run in to that we don’t because of our nature, I think that we do a very good job of building trust with our clients. So they know that we’re going to be just as frugal with their budget as we will be with our budget or our own money, you know, we’re not going to waste it, we’re gonna tell them, you know, what is best for them, and not necessarily what is best for us and be honest and transparent about everything that we do. And you know, that trust really goes a long way, you know, when you’ve got a client that is going to respect what you tell them and in constantly, you know, propose counters to what you’re saying it’s easier to get stuff done and to stay on the same page. And that’s not to say that clients don’t have good input. You know, that’s important, and we can kind of change based off of that. But, you know, certainly having that, that people focus does does help with the relationship manner, which is important. I mean, it is a partnership between the client, the agency,
Chad Franzen 14:21
can you give me an example or some examples of maybe clients who came to you and we’re in a certain situation, and then you guys did your thing, and
Adam Draper 14:31
their life was different? Oh, yeah. I mean, that, you know, in a lot of times, we’re able to do that without them even becoming a client, which I know, isn’t necessarily, you know, the end goal, but that does also, you know, set us apart, you know, and if we’re not the right fit for whatever reason, you know, we still try to point people in the right direction and make it make it work and we get all sorts of things that they come in and, you know, I think attorneys are just in a bad spot because they don’t get any business training, you know, they’re not in school and you know, when they’re getting they’re going through their JD, you know, they’re not trained how to run a business, you know, they don’t understand marketing, and maybe they’re able to take it upon themselves to teach themselves, but if they’re, you know, too busy, and they are able to successfully grow their business, you know, it’s difficult to carve that time away. And, you know, there’s a lot of marketers, you know, that know that a lot of salesmen that know that, that are trying to, you know, get their commissions, and oftentimes take advantage of attorneys, because they know that a lot of attorneys make good money, you know, so they’ve got the money to spend on marketing in then, you know, because they don’t have that background in business. You know, and I’ll also say that when people don’t understand something a lot, a lot of people their initial reaction is to just push it away, right, like, kind of close their eyes to it. And it is interesting that within the legal community, I mean, most lawyers there, they have a job because of problems, right? Because of disagreements, because you know, someone else got taken advantage of, and they do a lot of due diligence on behalf of their clients. And when it turns into something they don’t understand where they don’t have the training in business like they do law, it’s interesting to see how often they’re willing to turn a blind eye and they’ll just write a check or, you know, sign an agreement without giving it a whole lot of thought and the same due diligence, I think there’s just a certain amount of anxiety that that comes into that. So certainly our approach, I think, when they’re open to it. And that is kind of one of the difficult aspects of it is that if there have too much anxiety about it, I mean, we are very consultative in our nature. And so I think that that sometimes put some people off. But if they’re willing to, to kind of work with us, and to do their part, and I think they ended up appreciating it. So kind of back to what your question was, like, are there people that come in and be helped? And we’re in a bad situation? Yeah, like, those are actually our best clients, you know, because they, they’ve been with another agency they’ve been, they’ve already had some experience and kind of seeing the pitfalls. And so then we can come in and be like, hey, this didn’t work because of this. And you know, you need to do these things. And, you know, this is the best path forward and how we do things. And, you know, it’s actually more challenging when we get a client that’s never done marketing before, because then they don’t know. They don’t know the difference, right? They’ve never had an agency build a website. And then the fine print, you know, says that the law firm doesn’t own it. Right? You know, what do you think is crazy, but that happens all the time people pay for things and then realize they don’t actually own it, it’s just kind of on a license. And so by able to do things more transparently and put our clients first, you at a minimum, you know, they’re at least going to be set up and have things that they can use to build from and to grow from, without giving away any sorts of crazy stories.
Chad Franzen 17:54
Sure. Do you go ahead
Adam Draper 17:55
have one for me? Oh, yeah, I think probably one of the worst things that we see our attorneys to take out loans of some kind, and it’s crazy to see agencies encourage lawyers to take out loans to be able to pay for the marketing. And I mean, I saw one attorney that took out a $70,000 loan to pay for a website design, which is nuts, because that’s multiple times, you know, what you should be paying, you know, and so it’d be able to go into them and kind of explain, which is difficult, right? When they just spent $70,000. On our website, it doesn’t work, right. Like, it’s hard to, you know, explain that away, but we could at least go in and, you know, show them what they needed to do and to move that away. But there are all sorts of attorneys that come to us that don’t have the basic setup that you know, don’t how to get their online presence established through Google. And they also just don’t know, the very basics of how it works. And we’re getting better. But even just reviews and basic reputation metrics, a lot of law firms don’t put any effort into it. And if you don’t put any effort into it, you know, you should expect not to have great results. But there are a lot of attorneys and law firms out there. They’re doing great things, if they just get their own clients to leave a review, leave a testimonial that, you know, they would get a lot more results from that.
Chad Franzen 19:14
Yeah. So what do you what do you guys do? You know, I can go on a web, you know, I can go on Wix or something and make my own website. What do you guys do?
Adam Draper 19:23
Kind of beyond that? Yeah, you know, I mean, it all comes down to budget that you have, and also the expectations. Yeah, I think the biggest problem that you can make is to have a small budget and have too big of expectations, you know, and you mentioned Wix and Squarespace and some of these do it yourself. options out there and they’re, they’re great. They work well, like I mean, I’ve designed a couple of websites with them. But there’s a reason that most professional businesses don’t use those and they’re just not as flexible for what you’re going to use with an ongoing campaign. And so the main difference is what we do is going to be fully custom. Whereas we’re actually going to design everything using Adobe Photoshop. And then develop a proof, which is just a static still image of what the website is going to look like. And then we apply custom programming. And so there’s two things in there. One, if you go with what we call a, there’s a couple of different ways you can call it a drag and drop editor. Or what you see is what you get is another one. But that’s, you know, basically, you’re just dragging the boxes around. And what you end up with is something that is going to look very cookie cutter, right? I mean, it’s obvious, you know, that it wasn’t custom, you’re going to be limited on the shapes and the styles and different things. And so whenever you have a fully custom site, like it’s going to look more professional, it’s going to have that pop to it. And it’s going to, you know, make you stand out and be more aligned with what you’re trying to tell about your your brand. And then on the programming side, those drag and drop editors will, you’ve got to have that software built in. Right. And so that’s more software that kind of bogs down the site, you know, it’s a, it’s a software that is meant to be off the shelf and be accessible and usable for a wide variety of different businesses and websites. Whereas when we custom program that it’s going to have everything that you need, and nothing that you don’t, so it’s going to be more efficient. And that deficiency is seen potentially higher rankings, and just a faster website that is typically going to have, you know, not as many problems and in a longer longevity to it. So you should be able to get anywhere between three and five years of a lifespan with with a custom site. Okay,
Chad Franzen 21:41
is there anything else we should know about? Gladiator Law Marketing, or about your upcoming podcast?
Adam Draper 21:48
Oh, goodness, well, I mean, I think with podcasts, you just got to stay tuned. And, and hopefully find something that that you’re gonna like, and maybe be a guest with us and talk about, you know, what’s passionate for you. But, you know, for the for the business side of things. Yeah. I mean, we love working with firms that want to grow, to some extent, right, like, you’ve got to have some ambition that you want more cases than you currently have. And that doesn’t mean that you have to grow into some multi state conglomerate, you know, maybe you don’t want to hire additional attorneys, but you want to be busier than what you are. But you know, I love working with law firms across all the different practice areas and different geographies. And we were referring to we work with firms that are in top five markets in the United States. And, you know, it’s all about figuring out what the business strategies and the business goals of that law firm are, and then kind of pairing it up with with what we do. So we do focus almost exclusively on consumer base practice areas, you know, personal injury, criminal defense, divorce, family law, employment, things like that. Occasionally, we’ll do some small business practice areas. But typically, to make that work, you’ve got to be in a larger market, just because if you’re in a small 30,000 person, town, there’s usually not a business. And so we end up working with general practice attorneys, usually in those cases, but Yeah, certainly, if someone is having a difficult time with their existing agency, or they’re getting off and trying to start their own marketing, we’d be happy to talk to them.
Chad Franzen 23:16
Okay. Hey, Adam, thanks so much for it’s been great talking to you and best wishes moving forward. All right. Thank you.
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