Tripod, the Tricycle Creative podcast, is for anyone interested in being a better Digital + Content Marketer. Hosted by Ross Herosian (a Marketing coach, content creator, and entrepreneur) episodes are a mix of helpful Marketing tips, social media updates, inspiring interviews, and his own unique perspective on how to promote and grow your business.
On today’s episode of Tripod, Ross speaks with Devin Miller, a fascinating and very educated individual who is the founder and CEO of Miller IP Law. He shares his recommendations on what to do if you have a business idea or product from a legal perspective. He also shares his favorite marketing strategies on LinkedIn and shares his story about becoming an entrepreneur.
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What You Don't Want To Miss:
Devin Miller shares fun facts about the word “ahoy”, speaks a little Mandarin, and he also shares tons of tips + advice regarding small businesses and legal, including:
- Biggest Small Business Legal Recommendations
- Costs of Ignoring Legal
- Favorite Personalized Marketing
- His Entrepreneur Story
Ross Herosian 00:00
Hello, hello, thanks for tuning in on this episode. I am joined by Devin Miller. He is the founder and CEO of Miller IP law. Now here are some talking points that he really wanted me to include. He’s very proud of (a) father of four (b) married 13 years, which that’s very commendable. He has four degrees in electrical engineering degree, a degree in Mandarin Chinese, an MBA, and a law degree. So this guy knows a lot. He’s got quite a diverse background, I’m super excited to have him on the show. We’re gonna be talking really about all things legal, trademark, patent, business formation. Stuff that creative business owners unfortunately, don’t think enough about when they get started. So if you want to learn more about him, you can go to lawwithmiller.com, or strategymeeting.com, and you’ll learn a lot more about those things. On this episode of Tripod.
You’re listening to Tripod, a podcast produced by Tricycle Creative to help safely navigate creative business owners through the worlds of digital marketing, strategic content creation, and business growth. Host Ross Herosian is a marketing consultant, content creator, and entrepreneur who brings you helpful tips, social media updates, inspiring interviews, and his own unique perspective on how to tell your story and grow your business. So if you’re interested in being a better marketer, business owner, or creator, sit back, relax, and let’s get peddling.
Ross Herosian 01:38
So, you know, I’ve started something new this year in 2021. It’s really boring. Do you want to hear what it is?
Devin Miller 01:49
I absolutely want to know what you’re doing that’s boring. There’s nothing more exciting than boring people.
Ross Herosian 01:53
Everyone with their resolutions with exciting, crazy goals. I’ve started drinking from a straw. And I gotta tell you, it’s a whole different hydration experience. You know? So maybe that’s to setting achievable goals, probably too low?
Devin Miller 02:16
Well, at least with the low…when you set it low enough, you’re likely to attain it and you feel good about yourself. Or maybe it’s a good thing. Maybe this year, you set the goal so low that you can’t fail, and the next year you can set an actually worthwhile goal.
Ross Herosian 02:31
I think it’s less of a goal and more of like a like, oh, and illumination because this became because my wife got me this new cup because I’m always complaining about the cup I drink, I don’t you know, I’m the whatever, complaining about something. And it has a straw and I never drink from a straw. And listen, if you’re out there not drinking from a straw. Maybe this is the only takeaway probably not because this is going to be a pretty jam packed awesome episode. It’s a good takeaway. So give it a try. It’s reusable. Also, I don’t want to be wasteful. I hate waste. So it’s a plastic reusable straw. Welcome to Tripod. We’re not just talking about straws today. In fact, I’m joined by someone who knows a lot. A lot of stuff about definitely more than just straws, Devin, say Ahoy.
Devin Miller 03:20
Ahoy. And, you know, I don’t know if you know this. But “Ahoy” was what the person that originally invented the telephone, what they wanted people to say instead of “Hello”. And it was until some of the battles that went back and forth or dominance that we actually say “hello” instead of “ahoy”,
Ross Herosian 03:35
Man. Can you think about what a different world it would be if we used “Ahoy” instead of “Hello”? I think it’d be a more fun world.
Devin Miller 03:45
I think so. I think we should all just start saying “ahoy” ‘cause Alexander Graham Bell the person that came up with the telephone. That’s the one that he wanted us to use “ahoy” so out of a tribute to him. I appreciate you saying “ahoy” instead of “hello”.
Ross Herosian 03:57
The OG phone creator wanted you to say “Ahoy”. So if you start using it again, give us a shout out. Let me know @hellotri – @hellotricycle on the socials. Wow, we’ve already talked about the weirdest of things. And we have so much more to get into. I’m super excited because I’m talking to a lawyer. And I’m not in legal trouble that I know of. And that way you’re not serving me is this wasn’t a big ruse to serve me with papers. Was it?
Devin Miller 04:30
Your creative way to serve some. I don’t know if you can serve them over a podcast, but it would be a creative way to get to catch someone. So no, not as far as I know. I’m not serving you and I don’t know of any legal trouble you’re in. And that’s a compliment in and of itself that you’re excited to talk to an attorney for any reason. Because most of the time people say oh, that just sounds boring. So I’m glad that you’re excited.
Ross Herosian 04:51
I mean, here’s the thing, right like myself as an entrepreneur, very early on. I recognized and appreciated the areas of my business that I don’t know, crap about, that I don’t know nothing about, and that I need to hand off to the subject matter experts. One of them was taxes. The other one was legal, right? Those are just dangerous waters to swim in. If you don’t know what you’re doing.
Devin Miller 05:21
Yeah, I’m within, especially on the taxes, I just said, You know, I don’t really want to have to figure out taxes and payroll and what I do, so I’m gonna hand that one off. So I do a lot of my own legal work, but I’m right there with you on the taxes.
Ross Herosian 05:34
So I want to ask you something. A lot of my listeners, they are creative business owners. Why do you think that creative business owners don’t talk to lawyers?
Devin Miller 05:44
You know, I think that business owners in general, and I’m as guilty as an expert, and think that they are the smartest person in the room, and that they can figure out anything and get anything done, which and if you didn’t, you wouldn’t be a business owner, you wouldn’t actually try to start your own business. And so a lot of it, I think, comes from, hey, you know, rather than go pay someone else to do this, I can probably figure it out. I’ve, you know, I’ve got a lot of experience, I’m a smart person. And so I’ll just do it myself. And so sometimes that works out well. Typically, when you get into the more complicated things, as you mentioned, taxes, if you get into, you know, bookkeeping and legal and some of those other things, the things that you don’t know where oftentimes a killer you don’t know about, you know, what the deadlines are, what the mistakes you made, you didn’t, you know, you don’t do that. And so it’s kind of that I think I know what I’m doing therefore I’ll save myself the money and or I can do it better than anybody else. And it can get into the kind of that trouble sometimes
Ross Herosian 06:36
I, you know, I think it’s also this thing where it’s weirdly encoded in the DNA of an entrepreneur or a small business owner, that I’m going to try to figure this out, right? If you don’t, if you don’t have that kind of drive to do that, I think it’s going to be hard to be a business owner, a small business owner and entrepreneur, but I think you do need to, again, set the limits, okay? Like, okay, for example, I go through, and I take a look at my books, right? I use QuickBooks Online, I go through it, look at all my transactions. I can do some aspects of my bookkeeping. “Okay, I’m gonna put this in this category. I know what this is” that kind of thing. I’m eyeballing it. But I have a bookkeeper who comes through after me. Right? And fixes things where I’ve made mistakes, or if double-checks my work. And I think that’s so much, maybe even arguably the most important when we’re talking about law and aspects of legal when it comes to being a small business owner.
Devin Miller 07:40
Yeah, no. And I agree with that. Give you an example. I’m right there with you. So if we were to dive in, not dive in too deep on patents and trademarks, one of the roles that you have with patents is if you put something out to the public, for more, or put something out in the public, you have a 12 month timeline within which you can pursue a patent. And if you don’t pursue it, you’re donating it to the public, it becomes what’s called public domain. And the worst thing is, is that people, they say. “Hey, I can do this myself, I’ll get to it when, you know, when we have the funding, or when I have the time.” And so a lot of times, I’ve had several people that are potential clients, because I couldn’t help them. They’ll walk in and say, “okay, we’ve been in business for a few years, and we’ve been selling this, we’ve decided we probably should get a patent now.” And I’m thinking, and I usually will be nice to say, “Yeah, that’s great. You know, it’s good that you have a good business, it’s exciting that it’s doing well, I can’t help you. And because we’re not able to pursue a patent. So I wish you the best Good luck competing. And next time you can create something or invent some I’m definitely here to help.” So that’s kind of one of those things where most people you wouldn’t know that you have 12 months after you put it out in the public within which you have to pursue it. And so it can bite you in the butt. And yet it’s one that’s an easy mistake to think because “hey, I can do this or figure it out, or I’ll get to it when I can”
Ross Herosian 08:50
Do you get that a lot? Also, I deal with it a lot in the marketing space where it’s like, you know, they have turnover, and someone else may have started it. It gets lost in the mix. And then it’s you know, that person who started it is no longer with the company. And then even if there were to be these, you know, emails or notifications that get sent, they’re just going into the ether, right? People aren’t even aware that that’s happening.
Devin Miller 09:15
Yeah, I mean, it’s it’s one where as a startup, you know, most of the time, you’re just, you have an idea, you’re focus, and you should be focused on getting something created, getting something done, and you’re for the first year or two, you’re just trying to survive and you know, build a business. It’s not like what you see on Shark Tank or other shows or anything where “I have an idea and two months later, I have a multi million dollar business growing”. 95% or 99% of businesses aren’t that way. And so the first year or two, you’re just trying to survive and prove out the idea. And so you don’t keep those records, which you know, and I’m probably even an attorney, don’t keep as good records as I could on sometimes. You just don’t keep track of it. You don’t keep the records. You’re worried about putting out the fires getting things going and so then to your point. Kind of years down the road, you’re trying to circle back to the things that you always put aside. And by that time, it’s 20 times harder. Because if you can even find the records or find who did what and how we got started and what happened half the time the inventors are gone, or the original founders are gone, or is evolved and everything else. So absolutely it can, it can be a mess, that takes a lot more time and money and effort to sort through than when you’ve done it from the beginning and just had that strategy.
Ross Herosian 10:25
I’m going to give you a really loaded question. Right, but what fun, what fun? It would be a conversation if I didn’t toss a lawyer some loaded questions, right? Creative business owners or business owners? They have to start with one thing. Right? patent, trademark, copyright, maybe even business formation? Where do they start? And I know that’s an incredibly loaded question. So go ahead and answer it very simply,
Devin Miller 10:59
It is a very loaded question. I would back up and say, first of all, before you do any of that, figure out if your idea is actually my enemy, it shocks me how many people will come into my office and say, “I’ve got a great idea. And it’s so exciting.” And I said, “you know, usually that does sound like a really good idea. Have you ever by chances looked on Amazon or Google that anybody’s done?” ” I don’t think anybody’s done it.” And I’ll say, “well, let’s just take it, let’s just check.”
Ross Herosian 11:24
I think anyone’s done it. Like, I mean, what are you doing?
Devin Miller 11:29
So that that would be the first sniff test is, you know, take five minutes, 10 minutes, see if anybody else has done it. If it’s already been if it’s been a bomb, and if you know, not successful? That’s where I’d start. Now, that wasn’t your question. So I will jump to your question. Let’s say you’ve done that. And you’re really saying, Okay, I think that it hasn’t been done, or, or here’s how I’m going to do a better or different, and I’m going to make a business around it. First thing I would do is form a business. LLC is typically the easiest one, S corp or C Corp, those ones are usually down the road a little bit more complicated. So unless you have specific tax reasons, or other investor reasons, go with an LLC. The reason I say that is because LLC is a really set up in any business, but LLC is to limit your liability. And that’s why it’s called a limited Limited Liability Company.
Ross Herosian 12:18
Smart that they called it that.
Devin Miller 12:22
But you know, so what happens is, you know, a lot of times people will begin excited about an idea, they’ll say, “oh, I’ve got a great business idea”. And they go out and start the business. It’s just a sole proprietorship, or a partnership. And then you know, a year or two down the road, they’ll get a letter in the mail, or maybe it’s on a podcast, or somebody serving on a podcast. But you know, then it will say “you have done X and X and X wrong. And now we require you to cease and desist or we’re going to sue you”, or even worse, they just get the lawsuit served to them, and they don’t even get the cease and desist. And if you haven’t, if you don’t have the LLC, if it’s just a sole proprietorship, you just been running it as a side hustle or the business, they can then come after you for your savings, your house, your car, and everything else. All of that is assets of the business that they can come after. So before you even get started with patents, or trademarks or copyrights, I’d implore everybody to get an LLC, it’s not very expensive, they’re fairly easy to do. We do them for $99. Even if you don’t do us use Legal Zoom, use somebody to do that LLC, because at least that way, if worse comes to worse, if you get sued, or you have to file bankruptcy or anything else, you’re not personally on the hook, which can be devastating for your finances, and something that I would always make sure to start there.
Ross Herosian 13:34
So I just took note, so we’re gonna need to come together to create an LLC for this new service I came up with where we serve people, papers, via podcast. I’m not gonna Google that. I’m just gonna assume no one’s done it. I’m gonna be like most people that walk through your door, and let’s just get that rolling. If you could work on that, while we continue the rest of the interview, that would be great.
Devin Miller 13:58
I’m sure I can have it done by the end of the show.
Ross Herosian 14:01
Oh sure! Unreasonable expectations, what would a client be if I wasn’t having that? So
Devin Miller 14:06
Ross Herosian 14:07
On that note, as far as you know, hey, the LLC, good place to start? What’s the most common mistake? Now obviously, you have your own law firm practice. So in that essence, you are an entrepreneur, but you’ve been an entrepreneur even before that. So as you’ve kind of alternated chairs, if you will, from being a you know, being an entrepreneur to yes to being rich, but helping other entrepreneurs. What’s the most common mistake that you see that people who come through your door that you experienced or have to deal with the most?
Devin Miller 14:46
Yeah, LLC is one we’ve already hit on that. Beyond that, you know, it kind of depends on the business. So I’ll answer the question with a couple different answers depending on if you’re really setting the stage and I do intellectual property and so I think that’s probably where I’ll answer the question. But setting the stage patents are for inventions, You create something and make something. That’s what a patent covers. trademarks are for brands. And so if you’re creating the next big or big brand, that’s where you’re going to trademark. Copyrights are more creative. So if you think of a book, or an art, or a painting, or a movie, or something of that nature, that’s creative nature. So a little bit, the answer depends on what type of company I’m talking with. So if I’m talking with a brand company, and usually they fall into either a brand or a product company, right, you’re either doing service, you’re providing a service, someone, you’re doing something awesome, or you’re creating the next best iPhone, or widget, or whatever that might be. And so you’re more of a product company. So if I answer the question, first is branding. The worst mistake. And the one that’s common is that people don’t protect their brand soon enough. And the reason being is that they started out as a mom and pop shop, or a side hustle or just something that’s fine on the side. And lo and behold, it starts to grow. And so it becomes a business. And they put a lot of time, money and effort towards branding, you know. They build a brand, people are starting to know who they are and recognize it. And then year two or three down the road after they started their business, right? Well, we’ve got a brand and a reputation, we better get this protected. And then they’ll come in my office and they’ll say, “Hey, you know, we want to trademark” then. So “definitely happy to help and definitely, you know, something we can do.” And then we’ll do a search, we’ll go out and see what other brands are out there and what other people have been using and they’ll find out that lo and behold, somebody has been using this brand for several years before them. And now they’re stuck because they’ve invested a lot of time and effort only to now either have to look at getting a license or rebranding, which can both be expensive, or figuring out how to get around it or anything else, all of which you’re less or are going to be expensive, much more difficult on the after you’ve been doing it for several years. And you do the front end.
Ross Herosian 16:52
I think also, like a really big blow, right? I mean, like it to your point, if you start off and you have you have that entity and you’re really proud of it. I mean, I will speak to you know, even having a logo your logo made, and then going so far as getting great turning it into an LLC, getting trademark all these things like it. It starts to feel like oh, this shits real, you know, like, like it makes it almost makes you feel good. Yeah, you got this, you got to pay for it. And is it cheap? Not necessarily. It’s not crazy expensive. I think I would never define it as cheap, right?
Devin Miller 17:34
I don’t know if anybody’s ever gonna say no. If you are working with a lawyer, this is calling them keep, you probably want to get a new lawyer because it’s not a good one.
Ross Herosian 17:43
I would agree. Absolutely. But I think that, you know, you feel good about it. But yeah, I think there will be that’s an incredibly crushing blow, to find out that this thing that you have poured your time, your energy, your money, your enthusiasm, your everything into five years down the road, as opposed to two years or even one year, you know, like you got a lot more invested five years down, then you do one year or two years.
Devin Miller 18:15
Yeah. And then one is you get really invested. I mean, now once you put in a whole bunch of time and effort you have that logo. It’s come locked into your mind. So you have a lot of emotional baggage just invested in that, that you don’t want to rebrand because it’s your baby. I mean, as much as you know, you are starting a business, it feels like another member of the child, because you’re spending as much time on your business as you are with your wife and the kids for a long time. And so you become very emotionally attached to just the emotional energy of saying, “we have to rebrand, we have to start over”. And not to mention that if you have built a successful brand, all your customers, all your clients, everybody knows you buy that brand. And you’re having to start over from scratch, it’s it can be a very demoralizing and expensive thing and sometimes one that you can’t even recover from so and yet it’s easy on the front end, if you do it on the front end, you get a trademark, you do your homework, you get the strategy in place, all that can be avoided. So that’s one that’s a really big ouch if you’re several months or years down the road, that’s easily avoidable on the front.
Ross Herosian 19:14
I mean, think about all the other costs related to having to do that to pivot if you have to change right the branding will have to change conceivably the name then all the marketing around it that you’ve done.
Devin Miller 19:28
Ross Herosian 19:30
And oh my god, yes. If you’re invested in SEO, it’s like oh my god, like you’ve flushed a lot of money down the toilet now. You know, there’s definitely strategies as someone I do a lot of SEO if you’re changing those names, there are things But listen, there’s no quick fix to make. Oh, all of our gains, just turn it right over to the new company name. It doesn’t work like that. You know, it’s gonna be incredibly costly and like I said, probably just a real disappointing expense for you if you don’t go through and do that. So you have, like I mentioned, you were an entrepreneur for not, not for your legal group, right? And now you own your own legal firm, right? We were talking recently about some of the marketing efforts you employ for your current business. Can you talk a little bit about what’s working? Or some strategies you’d even recommend or maybe even what you’re struggling with?
Devin Miller 20:36
Yeah, so all the above, I don’t know that marketing ever cracks. If you can just crack the nut and have the perfect marketing plan, I will pay you whatever it costs. Because it always seems like even when I figure things out, it’s evolving and changing. We’re trying new things all the time. You know, one of the things that and I think I talked about with you, and if not, then it’ll be any surprise that we’re…I’m a big proponent of LinkedIn. So we’ve tried a few of the different socials, when you talk about law firms, specifically, you know, Facebook, is just not… doesn’t seem to be the right crowd. Instagram’s, not Pinterest is not really Twitter, isn’t it? I mean, not that they can’t have some effect, but it’s really just not the right crowd. But LinkedIn is a great one where business founders, co-founders, business people are at, and they’re out there on the platform for business related things. So one of the things that is as simple as it is, and as easy as it is that we found that works is there’s a lot of people that are just asking their network on LinkedIn for recommendations for X, Y, or Z. And in my case for help with patents, or trademarks, and how many times you know, I’ll do I’ll spend five or 10 minutes a day, simple amount of time just going through and seeing who’s for that days, ask for recommendations for patents, or trademarks or for business or LLCs. And it’s shocking how many of those go on answering and how it’s very easy or low hanging fruit to do that, and there’s that for a lot of other businesses. It’s the same way there are people who are asking for, you know, product development, manufacturing, SEO, marketing, you know. Jay may know a good, you know, plumber, you know, any of those. And yet, if you just spend those few minutes, that’s one that’s free, it’s an inexpensive way to find those people. And it’s one that is already high intent, they’re already wanting those services, they’re already looking to pay for it. And so that’s one that’s an easy one that we found that works pretty well.
Ross Herosian 22:20
And it works really well. From a b2b standpoint, that’s where a lot of my b2b clients where I push them towards to your point, you know, Facebook, it’s not that it’s an impossible task by any means, you know, or even to all the other platforms. Listen, can you make headway on those? Absolutely. But to your point like LinkedIn, LinkedIn is where you go for business content, let’s put it like, you know, put it like that. And I love LinkedIn actually, like it’s one of my favorite and top platforms. I’m going to throw out something here. Now, I don’t have enough of an educated take on it quite yet, because I literally, like last night, just got an invite. Have you heard of clubhouse?
Devin Miller 23:07
You know, I’ve, I’ve heard of it. And I find it interesting. My problem is I have an Android phone, so…
Ross Herosian 23:15
Whammo. Alright, well, when they expand to Android, you hit me up, because when they do that, it may not become invite only. It’s very interesting. I have not had enough time to really spend, you know, again, I got it last night and was thrilled. You know, it’s definitely something, I think very much like Twitter, that you do have to invest the time in to get the benefit out of, you know, Facebook, if you have a brand page, you can post there and that kind of thing. But where people need to really be thinking about social media. I mean, it’s interesting enough where it started. And it’s kind of coming back around. It’s in the communities, like, to your point about people asking about stuff, you know, like I’m in a group, you know, a bunch of groups, right? Facebook’s really pushing groups, too. Right? So let’s, you know, people all the time, ask in those little groups, “hey, can anyone recommend to this, this or this”, and to your point, like, that’s opportunity, where you can obviously raise your own hand, but also help out your fellow business owners to you know, “hey, yeah, I know someone here over here”, point them over here. So communities are really strong from a social media perspective. And and, and it’s kind of been the way that these platforms and especially Facebook, have kind of held brands at arm’s length. That’s the problem is people bitched and moaned so much about there was so much branding and advertising on Facebook that it feels like when you’re a brand page on Facebook, now you’re just in like, your, you know, you’re at like the kids table. Like you’re not talking to anyone, right it just seems like a lonely experience which is which is why I quit that part of Facebook, I’m like, I might do it. Like, I don’t think about it, I’ll post it there. But it’s not anything I put my calories towards, you know?
Devin Miller 25:08
Yeah, I think that I like your point, because I think it feels like that’s where things that circle back to you. Originally started as a community, then it kind of became a platform where everybody put everything and then it’s like, “well, there’s too much here and I don’t, I don’t really use it”, or “it’s addicting. And I use it for wasting a whole bunch of time.” So really, I’m going to come back to the community. And that’s where I think that and I would love to get on, you know, clubhouse, I don’t have the phone, you know, the right type of phone, which, you know, it makes me sad. But it’s one word, it’s a cool idea in the sense that you’ve got a lot of really good content providers, you know, you’ve had some that are very well known and you can go on and learn a lot. And it’s one where you get direct access to them, and you are part of that community. Whereas you know, with Facebook or even with LinkedIn, but you know, take most of the platform’s, there isn’t that community feeling they’re trying to bring it back. And I think they’re trying to make that focus, because you think about when people are looking for business, whether it’s anything, they’d much rather have a recommendation some or even just say, somebody that’s reaching out to them, then they would just have to Google it, or to do look at the Yellow Pages, or however you find it because then you’re just going off of what whatever Google ranks in the best and you don’t know if they’re good or not,
Ross Herosian 26:18
This is a huge part of an actual product that I developed and sell as part of Tricycle Creative, called Show + Tell Video. And it allows people to very easily send video testimonial requests. So you don’t need to know special applications, you can do it with an android or an iOS, you don’t need to download anything you don’t use… You send it that uses your camera, whether it’s your webcam, or your phone cam. Because testimonials are incredibly, incredibly powerful, weirdly enough, even if they’re testimonials from people, you don’t even necessarily know just the fact that some human is saying, “hey, check these guys out”. And if you get a couple more of those humans, or if you get it on video, where you get to really experience it. From that hearing from that human being, you know, that’s incredibly, incredibly valuable. I’ll tell you one other place where I’ve had a lot of success recently. And it’s Reddit. Right? Reddit, particularly for my YouTube channel. So, like, I would still consider myself and still, by all accounts, a small YouTuber. And there’s a lot of small YouTube subreddits or, you know, communities in Reddit. And it’s just that their communities there’s so they embrace the community aspect, there’s one I’m a member of, and, and the rules are, you know, before you post, you have to go in and provide feedback or critique or, or watch someone’s video, you know, and give them some positive feedback or things like that. And I’ve really enjoyed doing that aspect. And I’ve had so many people who then will watch my videos, chime in, you know, give me advice, or say, hey, that’s great, I love this video. Thanks so much. And then they end up subscribing to my channel. So communities, this is not necessarily new. But I do think it’s not a place where a lot of people think when they think social media.
Devin Miller 28:19
And I think that I like kind of you almost touched on is it’s not one that we’re always having to get the most views or view count, or the most likes or anything else. Because you know, too often it’s tempting well, I put out a video and it only got 20 views or even 50 views or 100 views, or got one or two likes and engagement. You know, one of the interesting things that you know, whether it’s podcasting and videos is it starts to establish your authority, right, which is what you’re always trying to do. If people see that you do a video, you can convince someone that you are an expert, whether or not you’re an expert, you can video helps you convince them you are an expert. If you were to start a you know, a cooking show, and you were to just take seven videos and do them in order and show people how to cook people will think you know how to cook even if you don’t, and it’s because it is one way to establish a bit more of that authority, that personal feel is that kicks off the relationship a whole lot better than just a normal blog post and or a just a Google ranking, not that those aren’t important to a business and they don’t help but I think I love video. So you’re preaching the choir that I think that that’s one where it’s where things are headed is one where it’s at and I’m a big disciple. One of the other things we didn’t we didn’t hit on was I love all of our marketing efforts. A service is called Bom Bom. And there’s a few others that are out there. But Bom Bom basically allows you to embed a gif into an email, and then they will be able to click on it and it takes them and they can watch a video. So it’s really a way to embed video into your emails, so that you can have that bring back a bit of the personal touch that often doesn’t get into email. So that’s another tool.
Ross Herosian 29:49
I love that. So let’s talk so that brings me very nicely to another question I was gonna ask you, and it was about an investment and when I say that, I don’t mean “hey, do you got to stock you got a hot Stock tip”. Other than this really hot startup that serves people legal forums through podcasts that’s hot, you’re gonna want to invest in that when it comes out. So stay tuned for future episodes of Tripod. Oh, let me also just point before I go on, I will put links to any of these respectable platforms, respective platforms, not respectable, respective platforms, they may not be respectable. On the show notes, tripodpodcast.com, so be sure to check that out. Okay, so my investment question, what is the most worthwhile investment you’ve made? Now, when I say investment, I mean, that could be money. That’s what everyone’s made. But it could also be time, or energy or some other resource. What’s been something that’s been incredibly valuable for your business?
Devin Miller 30:53
Yeah, one of the ones in its HubSpot CRM, but it has more than just I’d say, We don’t just use it for conventional CRM. But both on the money side and also a ton of time is we’ve looked at is how to do automation and not automation, the crappy one where you call the phone, and it makes you go through a dialing tree of 20 different times, and by the end, you’re just frustrated and hang up, because it’s not worth it. But more of us looked into our intake process. So we put in a whole bunch of effort. And I think a lot of companies do on finding the individual, right, you do the Google Adwords, you do all the advertising, and they come to you. And then more often than not, you let them drop, you don’t take care of them, you don’t walk them through the process. And so one of the things that I focus a ton on and then I have some employees that do it as well, is how we walk them through the process. So we took HubSpot, and we said, okay, once we originally chat with them, we have a form that we fill out, that tells us you know that we capture some of the information when to follow up how high an intent they are, then they go through the system, and it will give them periodic follow up. And also gives me a reminder, say, hey, we’ve followed up a few times we haven’t heard from, you may want to do a personal touch and reach out to them, give them a call, or do something of that nature. And so we’ll do it. And then we take it you know, that’s how we started out. And then we started saying what are the ways that we want to talk or contact people. Emails, an easy one, but email is so overused, that people are starting to tune out. So he said, “How do we integrate texting” and texting, I think is a great one, that people aren’t overwhelmed. At least not yet.
Ross Herosian 32:20
Texting has definitely seen a spike in the last year and you but you do. And to your point emails used a lot still very, like from an open rate still very successful a lot better than social. And text, however, is even that much better, like open rate on text is, is it like I think in the 90th percentile?
Devin Miller 32:40
Yeah. And people respond to a lot of interesting people. We didn’t just bombard. We don’t just ask for people’s phone number and just start, you know, bombarding them with everything we say? “What are the ways that you would like us to connect up with you”. We have ringless voicemail, which is, you know, voicemails that just go automatically to you. It doesn’t call you but it just goes to your voicemail. But hey, if that’s an easy way, let us know. And we’ll do that, Texting is another way. Or if you just want to email and we look and say where are they at? And then how can we reach out to them. So we can automate the follow up to automate the engagement, where we can and then keep that keep the time that is for personal engagement that isn’t good for automation, that they do need that personal touch and interaction, then we do that with Bom Boms or phone calls or other things. So we looked and said, “Where’s our best investment? Let’s offload all the engagement we don’t need to do personally but we still need to be contacted. And then let’s focus on where we do need to engage them and talk with them.” And between that mixture. That’s been one of the best ways that we’ve been able to rise above, in an industry that is typically absolutely horrible for customer service. I mean, give you one statistic, and I know and then I’ll give you a pause. Legal industry normal time if you reach out to an attorney and whether it’s you want their your attorney that you hired or you want to hire them or you’re finding trying to find them out, or 70% of the time, attorneys, if you’re trying to find an attorney, they never respond back to you. So they just blow off your call, they don’t respond to your email, you never hear back from them. Of the ones, that 30% that do respond back, usually about 80 to 90%. It takes them three to five days to respond back to anytime you try and engage. So that means if you get a response, which most of the time you won’t, it takes three to five days for them to respond to an email, phone call, text anything. That’s incredibly infuriating. That’s a long time to ask people that are trying to give you money or trying to get help to hear that’s why when we look at how we can reduce that let’s automate where we can where it doesn’t make sense. And then we can have the time to actually focus and so that’s kind of where we’ve had our biggest investment.
Ross Herosian 34:38
I think it sounds like and you tell me if this is an accurate assessment, it sounds like the best investment is finding ways that you can automate in a smart way, I’d say your internal and external communications. Right. And and for those of you out there that are wondering how to do this. Devin had mentioned HubSpot. HubSpot offers a suite of tools that are certainly available to you. Another one that you know, kind of a tool or a category of tools is what’s called a CRM. So a customer relationship management platform. And, and there are many of them out there, you can do a search, many of them have free trials, you can see and, and some of those either have their own email platform in them, or they integrate with an existing email platform. I’m not saying that it’s always like, super easy. Sometimes you need to have these systems talk to each other, or sometimes they’re all under one umbrella, but you know, you need to get the pieces to talk to each other. But to Devon’s point, once you get through that, there’s going to be an initial period where you have to do a lot of building. But once you get that thing in place, I mean, that’s where it can take over, you know, and, and you can start to put your energy and focus, as I think Devin, you so brilliantly said in those areas that do require your personal touch your attention, I was, you know, your calories, right? Versus the “Oh, okay, wait, whoa, I got an email right now?” like, you don’t, you can turn that part of your brain off and focus on the other stuff.
Devin Miller 36:13
Yeah, I love it. So give you an example. I get emails in his internal emails that generate all the time of, hey, it’s been three or five days since you’ve heard from this person, we need you to reach out and I set that up in the system. So is it the system telling me itself, but it’s one where I can forget until if they move through and they’re moving along, I don’t need to worry about it. And then on the other hand, I set it up to eight and tell me what I need to reach out to them. It was a ton of work on the front end, and I’m not going to sugarcoat it. But once you get it in place, it’s to your point, it starts to get that momentum to where you don’t have to be thinking about when was the last time I talked with this person and when was the last time because you’ll have internal triggers set up that lets you know you “It’s been too long since you’ve talked with them” or “they haven’t responded” or in the case of patents and trademarks will say “hey, we sent this out for approval, they haven’t approved it, you may want to check in and see why they haven’t approved it” what questions they have, and make sure that they’re not kind of lost out in the…
Ross Herosian 37:05
Particularly for trademarks, because those have a real long time period of review, as I’m sure patents do, too. I mean, I’ve only gone through and worked through the trademark, but I can only imagine the patents even worse than the trademark process. Well speaking of investments, let’s take a quick break and hear from our sponsor.
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Ross Herosian 39:02
Alright guys, welcome back. I am here with Devin Miller and man I mean I’ve learned a lot this selfishly. This is why I do a podcast I always like I don’t care if no one listens. It’s like this is just a great experience for me to sit down with other business owners people with just really great expertise and even life experience which you have some life experience I want to get into but but not quite yet because I’m gonna I have a I have a very unique ask that I don’t think I have ever know I know I have never and I don’t think I will ever be able to ask again. So you’re gonna want to stay tuned for that very weird unique asked that I have of Devin. But before that I do have something I didn’t prep you for this. Just so you know you weren’t prepared for this. I have this but this I just bought this and It’s it’s called the icebreaker starter pack. It’s really great. It’s a bunch of cards. So if anyone at home wants to buy them they they can. I don’t know, it’s not really so much a party game. It’s more I think they sell it as like a bring these to networking, but it’s in a giant box. I don’t know who has pockets that big. What anyways, there are six categories. What I’m gonna I’m going to read out these categories to you and I want you to pick one. And then I’m going to pick a card completely at random. I’m going to ask you the question. This is more when they get to know each other real good. I don’t know depending on. Okay, the first category is life. Second category is random. Third category is deep. I’m gonna warn those though. I don’t want anyone crying on the podcast. So they those go they do go deep. I’m not gonna. Okay, fourth is experiences. Hmm. Fifth is “if you could” and then we have “Would you rather”.
Devin Miller 41:01
I’ll go with the first one go with life
Ross Herosian 41:05
Devin Miller 41:06
You scared me a little bit deep so I don’t if I wanna…
Ross Herosian 41:09
I’m scared of the deep. I’m not gonna lie. I’m scared of deep. I don’t blame you at all. Like that’s it, that’s it is. I’ve read some of them. And I’m like, if I ask someone a question on this podcast, it’s gonna be like an Oprah moment or something.
Devin Miller 41:23
I don’t know that I’ve the added touch to go deep.
Ross Herosian 41:27
I’m gonna get it out of you. If you don’t think I’m like Oprah. How dare you?! Okay, here we go. This is a good one. You’ve led, if I may say so. You’ve got a very interesting life. So I’m very curious. This answer… Okay, here’s… Here we go. Here’s a question. When you were younger, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Devin Miller 41:47
Oh, that one’s a good one. I’ll give two answers. When I was really young, it was very naive. I wanted to be an NFL football player, because that’s what all kids have played Little League football. You say, Oh, I want to be an NFL football player. And then you know.
Ross Herosian 42:00
Did you want to specifically play for a team? Like, did you have a team in mind that you want to play for? Or was it just about I want to get to the NFL.
Devin Miller 42:09
I just wanted to get to the NFL. I think I liked the 40 at the time, 40 Niners just because they had Steve Young that went to BYU and I liked BYU. So that was the extent of the thought. Now as I got slightly older, when I got into actually realize, okay,”I’m not going to be an NFL football player. I’m not even close to that talented, I can’t run that fast. I can’t hit that hard. There’s no chance”, then it was really, I always like, and it’s kind of what I do now. But I didn’t know what it meant. It was I wanted to be an entrepreneur, I wanted to be a business owner, I wanted to do a startup. And this was before really, you know, you didn’t have a Shark Tank back then you didn’t have all of the cool TV shows that glamorize it, but I’m like, you know, just be really cool. I’m gonna make sure I don’t know what it is. But I’m gonna make something really cool and have my own business.
Ross Herosian 42:52
Did you have parents… were your parents, entrepreneurs, like, did they own their own business? Or were you exposed to that?
Devin Miller 43:00
My dad always had side hustles. And so he had a business he was in he was part of, I would, I would say, this startup. So he didn’t necessarily start it. First person, but he was within the top five people that had started it. And so he kind of always had that entrepreneurial band, he would use, he always had projects that they were doing. So it was one where I don’t know that he was just, “Hey, he started his own business. And I could say that’s what I wanted to do”. But there was enough there that I thought, “oh, that would be cool. That’d be interesting”. My mom, she stayed at home, she raised us, she was a great example. So it wasn’t, I didn’t get it from there. Not at all citing her. But it was kind of one where I saw snippets and pieces. And then I think it was just someone inherent, I just thought it would be cool to create something and do your own thing and your own business.
Ross Herosian 43:40
You saw that was mentioned earlier, like you saw those like DNA strands, if you will, that make up an entrepreneur, right? That the hustle, the enthusiasm you know, and the saving from it. Yeah, the excitement. My dad was the same thing. You know, he did start a business. I think I was really young when he had his business. And then he went to you know, he went to work in the, in the, in the medical field for a long time. And I think I always was like, I want to be I didn’t know kind of like you I didn’t know exactly. And I wouldn’t even say I even had to find a point on it that I wanted to be an entrepreneur, but I knew that I wanted to. I always got this feeling like well, not just feeling but my dad helped people. He was involved in medical fundraising. And, and and he was a very it is to this day, like, you know, they’d have all these corporate events, like he’s schmoozer. You know, and I think that’s what he always used to tell me like what he does. I’m a corporate schmoozer. You know,
Devin Miller 44:45
I’m horrible that. I’m not a corporate schmoozer.
Ross Herosian 44:47
Yeah, like I mean.
Devin Miller 44:49
I mean, what is now taking that one step further, even though it wasn’t in the icebreaker question. What has been really fun as I’ve had the opportunity to do some of the startups I’ve been in with my dad so kind of come full circle that I got to kind of watch him have side hustles do or work on projects be part of a small business. And now with some of the businesses I’ve started and been involved with, he’s been right there alongside me helping develop and helping me to do the product. It’s been really fun. So just as a complete side note, but it’s fun how things come full circle.
Ross Herosian 45:19
Well your side note brings me to my most interesting question I’ve ever had for anyone. So you work with your dad on some of those businesses and projects and things like that. So you spent time in China, right?
Devin Miller 45:34
Taiwan, I spent most of my time in Taiwan, which depending on you, yes, they define it as China.
Ross Herosian 45:40
Fair point. Fair point. Um, was your dad involved in any of those types of projects or no?
Devin Miller 45:48
So really not in your question. So China, was really Taiwan where I learned Chinese. I did that for a religious mission for my job. Okay, I did undergraduate for a year, I went off and did two years and I lived in Taiwan to learn the language. Yeah, we’re good service for my church, and then came back. So he was now serving his own. He’s part of the same religion. So he served a mission in Japan when he was younger. So I had that example. Really… Now I will answer the question that didn’t ask which where we really started the first project. It was really my first real startup when I wasn’t doing my law degree and MBA degree the same time, which is saying both of those. Yeah, no, oh, let me not half of I was working 20 hours as a law clerk. I was doing two degrees. And then on the side, I said, I saw I think it was a flyer that said, you know, you can enter into a business competition. Oh, I only got my wife, a kid, one kid and a second one on the way. 20 hours doing two degrees. Why not enter a business competition.
Ross Herosian 46:47
Life is just being an incredibly patient person.
Devin Miller 46:51
She is. She is an absolute saint. So I said, I’ll do a competition. So the first year we entered and we didn’t go anywhere. But the second one, we were trying to come up with an idea. No, this was in the days, it was the days before wearables. But I was in the marathons, I said, wouldn’t it be cool if you could monitor your hydration level when you’re working out or when your… With a straw! With a straw that you would drink from?
Devin Miller 47:15
Well, almost. Only with a wearable, which was at the time before Fitbits, almost like a straw, but a lot better. So I remember came up with the idea. And we were trying to figure out like, Well, I know I’m an electrical engineer, but I didn’t have a medical background, anything else. So I called up my dad and I said, “so I got this idea for a business competition, you know, water monitor hydration, any idea of how we could actually do that?” So we came back over Christmas break. Why was back I was in Cleveland time he was in Utah, and I came back with family over Christmas break. And we actually prototyped it up, built it up, built the concept which evolved into a business but that was really the first time that I’ve done a startup and he was right there with me helping me build it over Christmas break.
Ross Herosian 47:56
That’s awesome. So here’s what I want to ask, can you say “thanks for listening to Tripod in Mandarin.”
Devin Miller 48:08
Ross Herosian 48:11
I hope he actually said what I asked him to and not say, “this is the crappiest podcast in the world. And it’s called a Tripod.” I don’t know. So if any of you out there speak Mandarin, and can confirm this is like getting I’m fearful. That’s like getting a Chinese character tattoo, you know, and not knowing what I have on my body.
Devin Miller 48:34
Is when people get it. They’re like, Oh, “this is such a…that’s such a stupid tattoo.” Like, don’t get a reboot, get a real one. Like, that’s not what it means.
Ross Herosian 48:43
I gotta say, even as tattoos go, I do feel like it’s really bold, getting a language you don’t understand or speak put on your body permanently. I mean, it does take cajones to do it.
Devin Miller 48:56
I agreed. So make sure, google it or do something, make sure what just is a complete site, make sure what you get tattooed, because when I see those, I’m like you I am definitive. I know that you don’t know what that means.
Ross Herosian 49:09
All right, so we’re gonna wrap the show up. And I want to give you Devin, please tell everyone where they can find you. Plug away anything that you want to promote? Fire away my friend.
Devin Miller 49:23
Alright, so I’ll give people a couple ways to reach out to me. So one, if you just want to find out more about the law firm, more about what we do, what our prices are, everything of that nature. Learn more about patents and trademarks. If you can’t fall asleep at night and you want to use the reading material to get you asleep. You can go to lawwithmiller.com all one word, and that just takes us to our general website. Now if you have questions about patents, trademarks, business and other things, we offer free strategy meetings where we’ll sit down with you take a few minutes, go through your questions all free of charge, and you can just go to strategymeeting.com you can grab…it links right to my calendar, you can grab some time, and I’m happy to chat with about any questions you have. So those are the two easiest ways lawwithmiller.com. If you just want to find out more strategymeeting.com if you want to actually reach out and talk with me.
Ross Herosian 50:08
I’ve had a blast talking with you which… To be fair, like I said in the beginning of the show, I don’t know if I can say that from talking to many lawyers. Those aren’t always the most fun conversations. So thank you so much.
Devin Miller 50:21
for not fun conversations and I so I’ve had a fun time chatting as well.
Thanks for listening to Tripod. Be sure to subscribe and rate the show on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Pandora, Stitcher, or wherever you listen. For show notes and past episodes, go to TripodPodcast.com connect with technical creative on social media @hellotricycle and learn more about how we can help you with your marketing at tricycle-creative.com
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