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Yodle Lied to Me – My Rating: F

Update – 05/22/12 – See the update at the bottom of the post (hint: they still suck).

These sales guys drive me batty.

My assistant just answered the phone. She told me that a colleague was calling from the Canon Law Group to talk about DUIs. She gave me the guy’s name, which I can’t remember.

I didn’t recognize the name or the firm, but I figured it was an attorney who might have a question or want to bounce something off me. I’m always open to that.

I get on the phone, and the guy cryptically starts talking about the work he’s doing with the Canon Law Group to increase the number of DUI calls they’re getting. Then he mentions Yodle. (It’s an online marketing company. I’m not going to link to them because I’m pissed and don’t want them to benefit from my link.)

I stopped him and asked if this was a sales call. He stuttered and paused.

I laid into him for lying about the purpose of the call and who he was. (I clarified with my assistant that he DID say he “is with the Canon Law Group”.)

Of course he defended himself, saying “we do work with the Canon Law Group.”

Yodle, are you listening?

This is NOT the way to do business. Liars may prosper a little, but honesty works much better. And it’s the only decent way to run a business.

Until this call, I was actually interested in Yodle. I read a Yodle review that said they actually produced some results.

Too bad he lied. I would’ve considered his pitch if he was honest. But now that’s another company on my bucket (of crap) list.

Update – 11/18/10 (see the newest update below)

I published this post yesterday (11/17/10) at about 2:30pm. At 5:30pm, I missed a call from Kara Silverman at Yodle. We connected earlier today.

See the comments below, especially the first one, which is from Kara herself.

Basically, Kara and Yodle’s Marketing Director spoke with me and apologized for the salesman’s misrepresentations. He’s apparently pretty new to the company.

I accept the apology, and I’m glad to see Yodle working to maintain a respectable image.

With that said, I’ve heard from other colleagues who’ve been contacted by Yodle sales people. They all had similar experiences to mine. I mentioned that to Kara, and they seemed honestly interested in improving their training. Hopefully things will get better.

Update – 5/22/12

I just received an email from a colleague who had a couple rounds of deceptive phone calls with Yodle. A higher up gave him an apology routine, but it sure seems hollow. And this is just a few days after I read this updated article about Yodle on Lawyerist.

One mistake can be forgiven. A pattern of “mistakes” over a couple years seems to be standard operating procedure.

My official Yodle rating remains an F.

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Fighting the Email Deluge

Are you drowning in email? Join the club. Fortunately, I’ve come up with a system that helps me keep my inbox relatively under control. Some days are better than others, and I’m trying to keep improving. But here are my email thoughts.

Everybody’s got a different method for this battle. Some work, some don’t. But even among productivity gurus, there are different schools of thought that all work in their own way.

Personally, I believe in two things: 1.) inbox zero, and 2.) search. Combined, they make my email manageable.

But before I explain that, are there ways you can eliminate some of the incoming emails? Do you really need to be on some of those email newsletter lists we all subscribe to? Does a certain friend or relative forward tons of junk that just clutters up your inbox?

We have to take control. Stopping emails at the source is the first thing I suggest. See how many you can eliminate BEFORE they ever hit your inbox. Every email you receive costs you precious time.

Now for my processing thoughts:

1. I process my inbox to zero every day.

Why? Because then I know for sure that nothing slips through the cracks. Does this mean that I actually handle every task that came in? No. But I’ve at put those tasks on my to do list (where tasks belong in the first place). Email is for communicating, NOT for getting things done. Communicate, put tasks on your task list, empty the inbox, and get out.

Basically, I run through all the emails one at a time. For each email, decide which choice best fits:


Delete as much as possible. Or, if it’s only informational and no action needs to be taken, Archive it. Then you still have it in Gmail in case you need it for future reference.

Delegate any appropriate items to any employees you have (or if it’s something a spouse or partner should handle). Get it off your plate and onto someone else’s. Archive the email.

Defer things that will take more than 2 minutes to do. Put a task on your task list. Archive the email.

Do things that take less than 2 minutes. If it’s a quick email reply, hammer it out. If it’s a super quick task on someone’s case, do it. Archive the email.

At the end, you have your inbox empty and a list of larger tasks to do. You can knock them out when you have time. But the key is that you’re no longer drowning in an inbox.

Finally, you have to remember that your inbox won’t stay at zero. The best practice is to process everything in there to zero once or twice per day. Ignore the inbox the rest of the time (I’m not so good at that part). But don’t stress if the box starts filling up again, as long as you zero it out each day.

For more on this, check out Merlin Mann’s work.

2. I don’t organize email.

That’s like trying to organize a river. It’s insanity to try to put each droplet of water in a certain place. There are a million more droplets coming down the mountain at you. You’ll spend too much time organizing and not enough time doing. I rely 100% on Gmail’s search abilities. It’s *never* let me down. If I can’t find it with Gmail search, it doesn’t exist in my email.

Keep improving

Does this mean I’m perfect? Heck no.

My biggest fault is keeping an eye on my inbox too much. But I’ve taken steps to improve that. For example, I have no new email notifiers. My computer doesn’t beep. My phone doesn’t flash. I only see new email when I open my inbox. Now I just need to only check it a couple times per day.

What works for you?

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Virtual Receptionist Ruby Wins Awards

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of Ruby Receptionists. These folks do a kick butt job of providing top notch front line customer service as your virtual receptionist.

I recently found out that Ruby won several cool awards. First, they’re on the list of Portland Business Journal’s 100 Fastest Growing Private Companies for 2010. Second, Oregon Business Magazine named Ruby as one of the “100 Best Companies To Work For.” And finally, Ruby was also named as one of the “Best Green Companies To Work For.”

Here’s my take: awards are cool. But actions speak louder than lists. I’m continually impressed with Ruby’s great attitude and their ability to smoothly handle calls for me.

They know their business. And it’s much more than answering the phone. They know how to treat clients.

The bottom line: Ruby is good for my business, and obviously they help lots of other folks too. If you want to give them a try, get free activation and their 21-day money back guarantee.

Note: I’m a happy Ruby customer. I recommend them based on the incredible value they bring to my business. If you sign up using this form (or just tell them that Andrew Flusche referred you), I receive a small payment from Ruby. I guarantee that I’ve paid them much more than they’ve paid me. They’re worth every penny.

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How Do You Measure Website Success?

Andrew’s Note: This is a guest post by a good friend of mine – and awesome link builder – Brandon Hopkins.

When I meet with clients that need my link building services, one of the first things I ask is, “How would you measure success?” In other words, what will I need to do to meet your expectations. This does two things, it helps me understand how much link building and internet experience the client has, but it also allows us to talk mutually about what success means online. Here are a few common problems I hear about and what can be done to meet those expectations.

1. Problem: I want more business! Increased business can come in the form of phone calls or sales (depending on what you’re looking for). For those of you in the legal profession that “want more business”, you would expect me to deliver prospects that need your legal services. You wouldn’t be happy with phone calls (or emails) from people looking for a washing machine.

Solution: Your website needs to show up when someone searches for your services. In order to get more business from your website you need people to find you in the search engines. For this, you generally have two options, organic listings and PPC (pay per click). Organic listings (blue in the below image) aren’t purchased from Google while with PPC (red in the below image) you pay Google every time someone clicks your ad.

Obviously if you have a choice between free and paid links, you would choose free. However, it does take work and time to get to the top of the organic results. This work consists primarily of building links to your website. Many people start doing this on their own and realize how little time they have, and how many links it takes to make a difference in the search results. If you want to start building links on your own, a good place to start is with a few links from a high quality web directory such, as these.

2. Problem: I’m not getting conversions! If you’re getting visitors to your website, but the phone isn’t ringing and your inbox is empty, you have a keyword problem! This almost always results from choosing the wrong keywords to focus on. If your website talks about how your are a Virginia reckless driving attorney but you’ve chosen “Virginia Attorney” as your main keyword, you’re going to get people looking for a bankruptcy attorney, tax attorney, defense attorney, and many other parts of the law that you don’t specialize in. When these people get to your website, they’ll browse around, see that you don’t specialize in what they need, and they’ll try to find a different attorney.

Solution: You need to have what I call “Actionable Keywords”. These are keywords that convey a buyers mentality. For example, a website that sells flowers can choose between a few keywords such as “pictures of flowers”, “silk flowers”, and “buy flowers”. If you’re trying to sell flowers, the only keyword that will translate into an order is “buy flowers”. The other two search terms may or may not be buyers. They might be 11 year old kids looking for flowers for a school report. That’s why selecting an actionable keyword is important.

3. Problem: I rank #1 for an actionable keyword, but I’m not getting calls! If you have carefully selected your keyword, and you make sure it’s actionable as we discussed above, but you’re still not getting any website traffic or prospects, you definitely have a problem! The problem is usually that your keyword is too small (in search volume) or you’re seeing “personalized results” in Google.

Solution: Pick a larger keyword and browse through a proxy. There is a good chance that nobody is searching for “Criminal lawyer for drunk driving case in Northern Antarctica” so if that’s what your keyword looks like, you’re in trouble! You’ll have to pick a larger keyword (in search volume, not word/character count) such as “Antarctica DUI” or “Antarctica DUI attorney”. The second problem was with “personalized results”. This means that Google thinks you like a particular website so they show that website first. However, that isn’t what the rest of the world is seeing. If you think this might be the case, you can search Google from a different computer (on a different network) or search Google through a proxy. Just search for ‘website proxy’ and enter “google.com” in the search box. When Google comes up, type your keyword. That’s the real result.

If you have any questions, please post them in the comments and I’ll answer each one individually!

Brandon Hopkins is a high performance link builder (also Fresno website design) who believes that second best isn’t good enough when it comes to search results! If you need to rank #1 and want to make sure you’re focusing on the right keywords, contact Brandon today!

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Business Networking 101

Most business owners know there’s value in face-to-face networking. But where do you start for successful business networking? Here’s a quick and dirty guide.

Ideal client

You have to start with some important questions: Who is your ideal client? What problem(s) do they face? What other professionals might they come into contact with?

Your goal is to build relationships with referral sources. You want to get to know the folks who know and work with your ideal clients.

This may be rudimentary for you. But too many people miss the point of business networking. You’re not looking for clients. You’re looking for referral sources. Huge difference.

Meet people

Now just go to events. Meet people. Find those referral sources. You can visit BNI groups and get a feel for them. Probably can be a Chamber visitor for a while too. Look for free groups at places like Meetup. Once you start meeting folks, you’ll find out about more groups & events than you can possibly attend.

I think there are two keys here:

  1. Don’t burn yourself out. Set a reasonable goal for each week/month, and stick to it.
  2. Don’t get in a rut. If you’re seeing exactly the same people each and every week and they aren’t good referral sources for you, change it up.

Note: If you are an attorney, check your state’s ethics rules before joining any group. Some states have published opinions against lead-sharing groups like BNI.

Build relationships

Finally, once you meet some good referral sources, you have to get to know them *individually*. Invite them to lunch / breakfast / coffee / dinner / golf / whatever. Learn about their business. Educate them about yours. Keep in touch with those folks. Keep yourself in their mind. Make sure you’re the guy they think of when you’re ideal client crosses their path.


Rinse and repeat. It will take time for actual business to come along. But if you’ve truly built relationships with the right people, it will work.

If you don’t get business after you have some strong relationships built, you may have to re-evaluate your referral sources. Perhaps they weren’t the right fit for your business after all.

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Validating the Debt is Critical in Fighting Debt Collection

This is a guest post by Sergei Lemberg, a consumer attorney.

Many people aren’t surprised when a debt collector calls. After all, they know they owe an overdue debt. But what happens when you’re taken by surprise because you didn’t realize that you owe a debt or had forgotten that you owed money? Bill collectors often spring this kind of surprise on unsuspecting people, and make people so desperate that they end up paying the bill – even when they don’t owe the money in the first place.

That’s why, if a debt collector calls, the first step you should take is to demand validation of the debt. According to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, a bill collector must notify you in writing within five days of contacting you via phone. In their letter, they must state the name of the creditor, the amount you owe, and the fact that you have 30 days to dispute the debt. The bottom line is that, when you receive a debt collection call, ask for documentation of the debt in writing. The FDCPA says that a debt collection agency can’t call or write you about the debt again until you receive the proof.

When you get the paperwork, don’t put off looking at it thoroughly. Even though it might be tempting to set it aside, it’s important to go through the letter line by line. You may find out that you do not owe the debt. Perhaps you paid it long ago. Perhaps you didn’t pay the debt, but it’s a very old debt.

Very old debts are often purchased by debt collection agencies for a song. These are debts that original creditors have written off as “uncollectable,” but that doesn’t mean that a debt collection agency won’t try to collect. After all, they have everything to gain and nothing to lose. You should know, though, that many states have laws saying that a debt is no longer collectible after a certain number of years. This is called the statute of limitations. Debt collection agencies count on most consumers being unaware of the statute of limitations, and go ahead and try to collect anyway. Unfortunately, more often than not, people get tricked into paying up.

If the documentation you receive lists a creditor other than the original creditor (such as a case where a debt collection agency purchased liquidated bad debt), you have the right to ask for the name and address of the original creditor – providing you do so within that 30-day window. That’s why it’s critical to review the paperwork when it comes in the mail. You don’t want to miss the window of opportunity you have to dispute the debt.

Validating the debt is an important first step in fighting debt collectors. If you don’t feel you can do it alone, by all means contact a fair debt attorney. It should be free, and having an advocate by your side can mean the difference between sleepless nights and peace of mind.

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Cake in the Mail – from Ruby

I got a cake in the mail today. Life doesn’t get more awesome than that.

It’s from my awesome virtual receptionist: Ruby.

When I first signed up with Ruby, they sent me a cool mug. When I went back to them, I actually wondered if I’d get another mug. 🙂 Seriously, the mugs are cool.

But they outdid themselves by sending a cake. Not just a plain cake with a computer-printed card inside. It’s a custom cake with a handwritten Ruby note card. Impressive.

Here’s the coolest part: They’re in Oregon. I’m in Virginia. I suppose cakes routinely fly around the country these days, but this country boy is amazed.

We can all learn some client relations lessons from Ruby. They know their stuff. How would your clients respond if you sent them a cake? We certainly can’t do that for every client, but it could be a great thank you for a new client who hired you for a big project.

If Ruby treats their clients this well, you can sure bet they’ll treat your clients right. To try them out, sign up for their 21-day money back guarantee using this form.

Note: I’m a happy Ruby customer. I recommend them based on the incredible value they bring to my business. If you sign up using this form (or just tell them that Andrew Flusche referred you), I receive a small payment from Ruby. I guarantee that I’ve paid them much more than they’ve paid me. They’re worth every penny.

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Back With Ruby, Virtual Receptionist

My law firm gets a couple dozen (or more!) phone calls every day. Last year I had a virtual receptionist service help me by answering the phones. I wrote about the service, Ruby Receptionists, two different times.

I hired an in-office assistant last fall, and I stopped using Ruby. I thought me and my assistant could just handle the phones ourselves.


From February 1st to February 24, fourteen unique callers got our voicemail and didn’t leave a message. That probably means we lost at least 10 potential clients. A third of them would most likely have retained me for their case. That’s a HUGE loss.

As of March 2nd (2010), I’m now a Ruby client once again. I’m proud to be back!

Now if me or my assistant can’t answer the phone, Ruby gets the call. A friendly, professional receptionist answers. They take a message and email it to us. Awesome, right?!

This ensures that a live person always answers our phone between 8am and 9pm, Monday to Friday. They also answer between 12pm and 9pm on Saturdays. I’d honestly pay extra if they had a 24/7 option. They’re that valuable!

Ruby also just announced that they have an iPhone app. It has several handy features, such as:

  • Updating your whereabouts to change your call options for the day
  • Calling Ruby with one click
  • Viewing your message and call details

If (when?) they create an Android app, I’ll be sold for life. 🙂

To try Ruby out for your business, get a 21-day money back guarantee and free activation through this form.

Note: I am a happy, born again Ruby customer. I recommend them based on the incredible value they bring to my business. If you sign up using this form (or just tell them that Andrew Flusche referred you), I receive a small payment from Ruby. I guarantee that I’ve paid them much more than they’ve paid me. But they’re worth every penny.

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Eee PC Battery Test – 7 Hours, 29 Minutes

I was at an all-day seminar last week, sporting my Asus Eee 1000HE netbook. I brought my AC adapter, but I figured it would be a great chance to really test Asus’ claimed 9.5-hour battery.

I started the day at about 8:45am with a fully-charged battery.

When I decided to actually watch the meter, I tweeted that I had 93% left. The battery meter estimated 7:42 hours.

I kept an eye on the battery meter for a while, and I realized the netbook wouldn’t make it all day at full power. At 10:17am, I turned off wifi and bluetooth. I also dimmed my screen to the lowest setting and exited unnecessary programs.

I put the netbook into sleep mode for about 20 minutes while I ate lunch. And I plugged it in for 1 minute, when I got scared that the battery wouldn’t last all day. But I quickly pulled the plug back out and decided to keep the test going.

After lunch, I still had over half my battery left: 53%.

At 2:15pm, I had 2:23 hours left on the meter, 33%.

The conference ended at 4:19pm. At that time, I had 4% left on the meter, an estimated 15 minutes.

To sum it up, the battery lasted 7 hours, 29 minutes (subtracting the 20 minutes in sleep mode at lunch time).

I ran Firefox and Word 2007 all day, but that’s about it. I did power on the wifi during a few breaks to check my email, but it stayed off most of the day.

I don’t think you’ll get 9.5 hours out of this battery, but 7.5 hours is nothing to scoff at. If you can plug in the Eee for a few minutes sometime during the day, I’ll bet you could keep trucking way past 8 hours.

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3 Launchy Tricks – Evernote, Google Voice, RTM

If you want to control your computer from your keyboard, check out Launchy. It’s a free keystroke launcher. Here are three ways to supercharge Launchy.


I use Evernote for all my note-taking needs. I constantly need to pull up a note that I’ve previously written. With Launchy and Evernote’s Windows scripting, this is now a piece of cake.

To pull up all of your notes that contain a particular string, you execute a command like this:

C:\Program Files\Evernote\Evernote3\ENscript.exe /showNotes QUERY

We can plug that into Launchy as a Runner command:


Now you can go straight to an Evernote search by typing something like this into Launchy:

en {Tab} QUERY

Fast as lightning!

Google Voice

This one’s a bit more complicated, but it’s cool. When you’re done, you’ll be able to initiate a Google Voice call by using a command like this in Launchy:

gv {Tab} 555.111.2323

That command will tell Google Voice to call your designated phone and then connect you to the phone number you entered. Ready to see how it’s done?

1. Create a Google Voice call script.

I did this in PHP. You can download this awesome class which lets you easily initiate a Google Voice call via PHP.

Put a script on your webserver that uses the Google Voice Dialer class and looks like this (replace the capitalized words with the proper values):

$gv = new GoogleVoice(USERNAME, PASSWORD);
$gv->call(YOUR-PHONE-NUMBER, $_POST['theirNumber']);

2. Now you can create a batch file on your hard drive that calls the PHP script from your web server:

@echo off
cd c:\
cmd /c curl --basic --data "theirNumber=%*" http://www.your-domain.com/your-google-voice-caller.php
Echo Exiting...

3. Prepare Launchy.

You can do this by going to the Launchy preferences, editing the “Catalog,” and adding the directory where the batch file resides. Be sure you also tell Launchy (in the Catalog tab) to look for *.bat files.

4. Call away!

Now you can call people through Google Voice with just a couple key strokes.

Remember the Milk

And to round out our trio, here’s a quick way to add tasks to RTM.

It’s actually from Lifehacker. Just download their handy script, follow the instructions, and you’ll be adding tasks in a flash!

Do you use Launchy? Any cool tips to share?

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