What Is A Mastermind Group?
A mastermind group is made up of business owners and/or marketers (often within the same industry) who share best practices; challenge each other to set goals; brainstorm ideas together; develop new marketing programs; and support each other through business problem-solving sessions. I like to think of it as marketing group therapy.
Most legal marketing-focused masterminds groups are run by self-proclaimed gurus (lawyers turned marketers); conference organizers; and/or marketing product or service vendors who use the groups as a way to attract new, paying customers.
If you have ever been a member of a mastermind group I am sure that you found it to be both energizing and frustrating for many of the same reasons that I have.
Who Is Involved In Legal Mastermind Groups?
Typically mastermind group members are owners or partners of small to midsize law firms that are struggling to find ways to compete with large, deep-pocket, big-advertising-spending firms. The mastermind members want to be taught how to market their firms—they need to learn the basics of website development, internet marketing, advertising, etc. Group members pay anywhere from $10-20,000 per year to belong; attend 2-3 mastermind meetings; share in monthly 1-hour conference calls; and occasionally one-on-one time with the ‘guru’.
Guru-Lead Mastermind Groups
Close examination of the lawyer-turned-marketer-gurus that organize the often form mastermind groups for profit reveals that many either semi-retired, no longer practice law, or have firms that are not are not necessarily the model of profitability.
Typically the ‘gurus’ either simply enjoy being a teacher more than being a lawyer. What is the saying about those who can’t do?
Some need the extra income created by their marketing education/mastermind businesses. If they were really great marketers wouldn’t they have more to gain from building their own law practice and keeping the ‘marketing secrets’ to themselves?
If they had a busy caseload made of up six, seven, and eight-figure cases would they have extra time to spend organizing meetings and coaching calls? Would they really want to?
Mega Law Firm Mastermind Groups
On the other end of the spectrum are mastermind groups that are run by national mega-law firms in order to expand their reach and turn ‘member’ firms into what are basically franchisees.
Those groups are often selling members license to use celebrity spokesperson commercials in their local market. Or sell members leads. Or be a part of their ‘referral network’.
Marketing Roundtable Meetings
There are some legal ‘marketing roundtable’ groups that meet periodically. These groups are similar to a mastermind in many ways but I have not learned anything of any real value by attending a roundtable as the majority of the content was in the form of sales-pitch presentations put on by the meeting vendor/sponsors. These roundtable meetings were really more like mini legal marketing conferences.
My Mastermind Experience
In the past I participated in a few paid legal marketing mastermind groups and found that I often I contributed more ideas, content and value to the meetings than did the organizers or other group members. I was looking for new ideas and interesting people to brainstorm with. But I often ended up spending more of my time instructing and coaching the other group members.
My years of experience as a marketing professional in the high-tech industry; my understanding of the internet and technology tools; and my willingness to plan, execute, measure and report on new tactics generally meant that I was ‘ahead of the curve’, so to speak.
I would openly share my successes and failures with the mastermind group and help other members troubleshoot their marketing problems and brainstorm new ideas—that’s what mastermind members are supposed to do. Right?
Often other members of the group were learning a lot from me but I didn’t get an equal amount if knowledge and information from them.
Additional, mastermind organizers often sell subscriptions to their marketing newsletters, put on seminars, webinars and coaching calls in which they shared what they learned from me and were thus making a profit from my expertise. I was not being compensated (which didn’t bother me much, really). But the information that I was sharing in the group was eventually (often very quickly) disseminated to my competitors. Although I enjoy helping others this scenario is low in value for me.
Private Mastermind Groups
For all the reasons mentioned above, a few years ago I stopped participating in paid mastermind or roundtable groups and sought to join together with a few firms (firms that felt the same way I did) in creating a kind of hybrid group. A private mastermind group–I sometimes call these ‘secret groups’. These private groups have been far more satisfying and have done much, much more to attract new clients to the firm.
These small groups (5 to 12 law firms) have no-affiliation with any legal marketing consulting firm or seminar organizers. Group members were drawn together by the similarities in their legal practice; their marketing skills and abilities; eagerness to be early adopters of new marketing techniques; willingness to actively/openly participate in meetings; and transparency in sharing success and failures, Every member expected to teach as much as be taught. All members were expected to carry their weight and they would each pay their share of the meeting expenses (conference rooms, meals, etc).
Why I L♥VE Unaffiliated Mastermind Groups!
I have been a leading member of three different no-affiliation legal marketing mastermind groups over the last 7 years. I have learned as much from the other members as they learned from me. I have been inspired by them to innovate and try new things. The group members would hold one another accountable for reporting back their successes and failures to the group. Through these groups I have formed invaluable business relationships and life-long friendships.
But in order for a group like this to benefit the members the membership needs to change and grow every few years—to bring in new, fresh ideas and re-energize the group.
The Next Evolution: Legal Marketing Brain Trust™
After spending the last few years as a leading participant in a wonderfully stimulating group I decided that it is time for me to move onward and upward—to develop the next generation mastermind group. So I spent a lot of time thinking about the best and worst of my all mastermind experiences and started working on my vision for the Legal Marketing Brain Trust™.