Fair Debt

Hosted ByLex Patterson

Unlocking Possibilities...

Episode 18: The power of the corporate selfie and other cool tips and tricks

What you’ll learn about in this episode
When was the last time you pulled out your phone and searched for your company online?  And as you did that, when was the last time you placed yourself in the mind of the consumer? What did you see? 
In this episode we’re unpacking the importance of clarifying your message and who you’re speaking to.  We’re diving into creative ways to tell your story, and understanding why reputation and brand management  is so important in the ARM space with Adam Parks , a recognized entrepreneur, CMO of Plaza Services, the founder and CEO of BrandingArc, a premier industry marketing firm. He also currently serves as President on the RMAI Board of Directors.

Key takeaways include:

How to tell your story and build thought leadership

Keeping the consumer at the center

The importance of a photo from a branding perspective

 Search engine traffic insight especially over the past 2 years

The importance of ADA compliance

How you can win the SEO battleground

Ideas for Social to handle risk and improve engagement

A call to get out there and engage

Guest: Adam Parks

Adam Parks is an entrepreneur with more than 15 years of experience in the receivables

management industry. His diverse industry background includes portfolio purchasing, debt

sales as well as compliance, and the development of systems to manage the servicing of account

Portfolios. Adam has held various marketing and operations positions within the ARM industry including leadership positions with brokerages which have given him a broad set of experiences and deep relationships across the industry. He currently serves as President with the Receivables Management Association International (RMAI).

Chief Marketing Officer at Plaza Services – plazaservicesllc.com 

Chief Executive Officer at Branding Arc – brandingarc.com 

Founder at Receivables Info – receivablesinfo.com 

President at Receivables Management Association International – rmaintl.org 

Resources:

    Websites: brandingarc.com 
                            adamparks.com 
                            receivablesinfo.com

Company https://www.linkedin.com/company/brandingarc/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/AdamParks

AdamParks

BrandingArc

LinkedIn: Personal: linkedin.com/in/adamparks
LinkedIn Receivables Info: https://www.linkedin.com/company/receivables-info/
LinkedIn Branding Arc: https://www.linkedin.com/company/brandingarc/

Additional Resources:
Receivables Info Resources
Tech on Reg Podcast
Dominos vs Robos ADA Case

Episode Transcript

Lex Patterson 0:26
Hello, everybody. I’m Lex Patterson and you’re listening to fair debt.

Well, hi, Adam. It’s good to see you again.

Adam Parks 1:04
You as well, thank you so much for having me on a big fan and joy, joy, your podcast?

Lex Patterson 1:18
Yeah, welcome to the podcast. It’s, I’m excited today because every time we get together, I learned something new. And today, this we’re going to be hitting some stuff right in your wheelhouse that I’m just excited to learn even more about, about positioning and brand management and marketing ideas, and, and some really good stuff. So before we get kick this off, though, first, why don’t we start with I think everybody’s gonna recognize you, Adam, the listening audience here, but maybe at a high level. Tell us a little bit about your journey. And maybe let’s maybe let’s mix this up a little bit. But if I ask you tell us something that maybe people would be surprised to know about you.

Adam Parks 1:49
Okay. So a lot of people don’t know this, but right out of college, I was in real estate during college nightclubs and other things. And as I came out of college, I immediately got into the immigration law business. And I spent a few years doing EB five investment visa is opening offices in Hong Kong, Tokyo, Miami, and Boca Raton, which is kind of a little strange. I, my whole college career was really geared around becoming a real estate developer. And that was my dream, and what I thought I was going to do with my life. And, you know, unfortunately, I came out of college, I finished my master’s degree in 2005. By 2006, I kind of saw the writing on the wall in terms of the real estate market. And so I decided not to really go that deep into the residential market, but got more into the commercial market, through the EB five investment program. And so if you invest a million dollars in the United States, and you create 10 domestic jobs, you’re immediately eligible for a green card. And so what we did was basically option hotels, and we’d split the hotel, call it a $10 million hotel into 10 different slots, which means 10 Different people can get their green cards. And so it was a really interesting, you know, program. And I had a lot of fun traveling the world and kind of learning about these real estate and these complex international transactions, which really gave me kind of my addiction to money, not necessarily earning it. But money has always just been a very interesting thing to me, all the way back to like talking about the history of paper money and all of that, like, that’s always just been very interesting to me. And so when I kind of got to the tail end of that portion of my career, I realized that like the residential market was starting to crash, the commercial market was only going to have so much of a tail on it. And at the time, my roommate, because I was only maybe 2526 years old, my roommate at the time, was working for a company called credit max. And he was doing really well they were buying fresh charged off paper from Chase. They were collecting it for 180 days and then selling it on a state or an individual account level. And, you know, he kind of explained the whole thing to me and I’m like you’re selling charged off debt, like I don’t get it. And so I went in, I interviewed and I started working for credit max for a couple of years where I learned an incredible amount I had the opportunity to work for some really intelligent people like Ed Forbes, who had been the former head of recovery for Chase and ended up being my partner at Sterling Capital Management. I got a chance to work for John Albright who had been the CFO Barclay and like just all these really smart guys that I mean, I just learned so much from and I took the same approach in college, I went to a college where it was a Boca Raton, Florida Lynn University, where a lot of CEOs retire and just teach. So the CEO of Bic the CEO of Gillette like all these incredible people, and rather than just walking out of the class, at the end of class, I’d be like, Can I get you a coffee? Like do you want to just chat for a little while and I learned more over coffee at that university than I ever learned in a classroom. It was really just an amazing experience for me. So I got into credit max for a couple of years. Worked kind of my way up the chain there. And then I had left and I was a founding partner at Sterling Capital Management with Ed Forbes where we were doing some bank consulting and helping the banks to understand the foreclosure process and apply some mathematics and algorithms to the foreclosure procedures. Trying to help people keep their homes was really our objective. We were also brokering debt, doing those kinds of things. It was a great deal. I worked with some really great people over there, Ed and I are still very, very close. We actually live not too far from each other. But my passion was marketing. My master’s degree was marketing, I really wanted to change the way that this industry communicated. And so I founded branding aarC in 2011. And my, at the time, you know, trying to explain to a collection agency 10 years ago why they needed a website. Don’t worry about it, you know, consumers aren’t looking for us online. Well, one, that wasn’t the case in two, there was nobody who really understood the compliance and the communications piece. And I think that’s where I was able to come in and create some success by actually helping to build a communications channel around these agencies. And also to help protect them from the Consumer Attorneys. I’m gonna throw up air quotes here when I say consumer attorneys that are ultimately trying to convince consumers to sue over their debt rather than to pay what they owe. And it’s a very frustrating process. But a lot of these consumer attorneys, we’re creating YouTube channels and YouTube videos and websites and other things to attack the agencies and the agencies were just hoping that it would go away, and it obviously never went away. So I’ve built hundreds of websites in the space, I think we have about 130 websites under management, specifically in the Receivables Management space. And my marketing firm represents about 35 Different companies across the space, including law firms, agencies, debt buyers, even creditors, where were their outsourced marketing department. So through the process of kind of building out the marketing firm, that was great, I really enjoy it. It’s my passion. But a few years into it, I want to say was about 2014, I got a call from a good friend in the industry, who basically was like, hey, look, the CFPB is coming out. And I don’t have any policies and procedures, like they’re gonna shut me down. And I said, Well, I don’t understand, like, why are they gonna shut you down? Would you do? And he said, it’s not, it’s not that I’m doing anything wrong. It’s just that I don’t have the documented policies and procedures that I should have. He’s like, I know that you’ve done this, you know, with Sterling, and you’ve done this at the banks. Like, can you come and write my policies and procedures? And honestly, I gave him a number I never thought he’d pay. I was like, Yeah, sure, I’ll come out and do this six month project for you, but it’s gonna cost X dollars. And he was like, Oh, my God, that’s a lot of money. Like, I’m not doing that. And I said, Hey, look, it cost what you want six months of my time, it costs what it costs. And he’s like, oh, man, I got to think about it. i Sorry. Well, you think about it, let me know. So the next day calls me he says, so I just wired the money, do you think you can be here on Monday, and I’m like, wired the whole mountain.

Adam Parks 8:05
So he sent me that he sent me the wire, and I went into his office, and he was running a really clean shop. Right? I didn’t, it wasn’t like I walked into a disaster area. But I had to write what ultimately equated to about 1500 pages of documentation detailing everything, where the cameras are, why they’re facing here, how we open the mail, I mean, the level of nitty gritty detail that I had to go into, and that six month period really blew my mind. And I was blessed to have a lot of friends in the industry that were very open in their discussions with me. So if I didn’t know, you know, something detailed, or how I could approach something differently, it would tell me, Hey, consider this, consider that right? Yeah. And so that was part of the process for me was being able to reach out to this wide network of people. So anyway, I finished that documentation, I go back to go to his to his office, and I’m training all those people on the documentation. And that night, like him, and I were very close, I was staying in one of his guest rooms at his home. And we had a couple of drinks. And, you know, he’s like, you know, it’s gonna take like, 10 people to do everything. And I’m like, Well, I, I didn’t choose that, right? Like, this is what it’s gonna take like this very early in the idea of compliance departments and chief compliance officers and all of that. And so when I was talking with them about it, I said, Well, maybe I could develop a piece of software or something that would make it a little bit easier. Right, like, maybe I can create some software and we can manage this process a little bit better. So you know, we have a couple drinks that night, I get up early in the morning, and I’m sitting out on his back porch on by the lake, and I’ve got my iPad in front of me, and I’m like, You know what, I can come up with something, right? Like, I’ve done software before, like, I wonder we can come up with. And so I draw this thing, I must have been out there for like four or five hours. I mean, it was it was not a short period of time. But at the end of it, you know, he gets up and he comes down, we’re having breakfast and I’m like, Hey, take a look at this. What do you think about this design? He’s like, That’s genius. How much money do you and I said, Well, Let me call some friends and see like, if this is even really viable, like this is just kind of like my mind on a page, like, let’s see how realistic it is. So I reached out to one of my buddies from college that it helped me when I was in immigration, build a software platform that managed all of our offices and the immigration paperwork. And we were one of the first groups that were able to submit immigration paperwork digitally, and, you know, fill out all the forms automatically, we built a really cool system. So I call him and he’s like, yeah, like, this sounds like a great idea. Like, let’s, let’s, let’s build something. And so I was leaving that day. And so I’m on the airplane, you know, messaging back and forth. And then I got like, a Facebook message, or something from one of my industry friends was like, hey, you know, just haven’t talked, you know, why, like, what are you up to? And so I started telling him about the idea. Well, next thing, you know, he’s like, Well, we need to do this, like, let’s, let’s get started. Well, on the flight back from this agency, or the step by our agency, actually formed the corporation did my filings, you know, landed immediately drove to the bank opened a bank account and was like, and now we have a company, right? So we started getting our agreements and everything together internally for this organization. And we were developing software, we were maybe five, six months into it. And I brought it to a product to a one of my favorite debt buying organizations out there. And they’re always like, my first client, I mean, I mean, I truly look at this organization and the people that like family, because that’s what they are. And they had their general counsel come in, and I’ll just drop her name. It was Dara Tarkowski, who’s the founder, like one of the founders of X ray?

Lex Patterson 11:36
Yeah, She’s got a podcast too right?

Adam Parks 11:39
She does. And I’ve been lucky enough to be a guest on Tech on Reg, as well. Yeah, she’s been just a phenomenal attorney, why bringing my piece of software to show her? And she says to me, Well, I think you’ve got a good idea. However, here’s the 800 things that are wrong with it. And I said, the 800 things that are wrong with it. Like, what do you mean, and so she kind of explained to me in detail, all of these things that I could do considerably better. And I looked at her at the end of the conversation, and I said, three weeks, she’s like three weeks, like what I said, I’ll have all of your changes implemented within three weeks, I, I hope that you’ll take another look at the software. Honestly, to this day, she’s one of my best friends. I mean, she’s just phenomenal, I could never thank her enough for the insight that she provided at the beginning of that organization. But that was the birth of compiler. And so during that time period, running compliant arm and branding arc simultaneously, of which I was the only branding arc employee back then. And that was, you know, starting the software company simultaneously writing policies and procedures, with my partners, and just working on all these different things. It was a very stressful time, it was very hard to build two companies at the same time. So in 2019, I sold comply arm to prevent it, and they acquired the organization, they acquired the clients and they’ve incorporated into their software platform. And all the clients are, you know, are even happier, they’re getting better support now than I could provide at the time. And so it worked out really well for all the clients on that side. But that allowed me to refocus back to branding Ark and my time with Plaza services. So I’m still a debt buyer with Plaza services and their chief marketing officer, I do my volunteer work with Rmi, I’ve sat on the boards of a number of other charities, including naked Warrior Project, which I’m sure quite a few people in this listening audience have been to events that have done, whether it be poker tournaments, or golf tournaments or other things to raise money for the Special Forces community. And that was a lot of fun as well. And so now I’m kind of in that position in my career, where I spend most of my time between branding Ark, the marketing firm, and the debt buying operation, I’m still involved in a number of other organizations, but I’m starting to devise to divest of those companies, so that I can spend more time and energy focused on branding arc and the work that I do with Rmi. And other things that are more industry related. It was honestly about four years ago, maybe three years ago, you know, branding arc was kind of a wide approaching marketing organization. And we were involved with, you know, local companies, and all different kinds of things. But a few years ago, we decided that like maybe that wasn’t the best fit for us. And we should be the best in the world at marketing for the receivables management industry. And that is what we’ve geared our 12 selves towards. That’s what we’ve been working on. And that’s the value proposition that we’ve really been focused on for all this time now. And I consider myself to be very lucky that we’ve been able to focus and, and build an incredible organization that’s specifically focused on this industry, because this industry requires PR and requires somebody to be changing the narrative as it relates to how we’re looked at it from third parties, you know, what can we do? How can we do it and how can we improve the way that we’re viewed? And I think if you if you look at The way that for example, Rmi has rebranded over the past couple of years, that’s been incredibly important as well, right? We changed it from the debt buyers association to the Receivables Management Association, because it really did require a much bigger and better

Adam Parks 15:18
approach meaning, when you walked into a conversation, you said, I’m a debt buyer, you’re being viewed differently than saying, I’m a Receivables Management Professional. And I think that, you know, just the the articles in the media and all the negativity around it has made it a little bit more difficult. But nobody ever wants to talk about all the great things that this industry does for the community. Right. I mean, we could talk about all the great things that the industry does for the economy and how it’s a necessary part of the overall economy. But nobody ever wants to actually talk about like, what all these organizations do in the local community. And that’s what kind of has made my job at branding arc a little bit easier to help organizations tell their story, because they’re already sponsoring Little League teams, and you know, having bake sales, and doing all these great things in their local community, volunteering their time, and all of that, but nobody was ever telling the story. So the only thing you would ever find about a collection agency or a debt buyer was what you’d find in the general media that were, you know, hunting people down, or whoever else they want to state it. That’s not the reality of who we are as an industry. And you know, I just attended my 17th consecutive RMI conference, I feel like I know this industry fairly well, at this point, and a lot of the players in it. And this is some I mean, I consider a lot of my clients and a lot of my friends around this industry to be family at this point. Because that’s really what they are. It’s a very open and honest group of people. When I first came into the industry, I had people like Mike Colby, and Tom Hicks and Gary B, take me by the hand and literally walk me up to two people and just start introducing me to everybody. I was a competitor on so many levels with those individuals, but they didn’t care. All they cared about was creating a positive environment for this industry, looking at the future, the development of the future leaders. And to me, that has been the legacy that I’m hoping I can leave behind. I’m hoping I can do as good a job as they did, showing me the ropes, showing the next generation the ropes and starting to develop more leaders across this industry.

Lex Patterson 17:14
Yeah, yeah. So I appreciate all that, Adam. I mean, that was awesome. To go through that. And I think it’s a really important part of the story and the discussion, we’re going to have to because we’ve, as an industry, we really haven’t had that focus of getting the stories out there. Because there’s tons of positive things that go on. As you and I have talked so many times before, you know that just really, I don’t know whether it’s just having that forefront in your mind. I mean, what do you think? What do you think is the most important thing that collection companies can do more of when it comes to their brand? And marketing strategies?

Adam Parks 17:52
Talk about who they are. I mean, there’s look, there’s there’s three audiences that any, any collection agency, any word that you write, say video, any communication that you’re putting out needs to speak to three audiences simultaneously, you need to talk to the consumer, the client and the regulator, in the same words, right. And so what’s the best way to do that? What I’ve found is that we’re in a political environment, where we’ll say the political pendulum is swinging back and forth. And it continues to swing further and further and further away from center. So let’s talk about some things in the center. Right, instead of imposing our political views or other things, let’s talk about the center, financial literacy. Right? How about communicating with consumers, how we’re improving on those consumer preferences, how we’re improving the consumer experience, let’s keep the consumer at the center of these things. And let’s actually tell the story about who we are as organizations talk about the charity work that you’re doing. This is a very humble industry. And I think that plays a large part into why people haven’t done this previously. And I’ve got a lot of clients, even today that I know made a $15,000 donation to some local charity, but they don’t want to talk about it, because they’re too humble. But I’m always pushing on them to say, have that discussion. It’s not braggadocious, for you to talk about that. Because I think it’s also important when you’re trying to recruit new employees, looking at your organization and trying to decide if you’re good enough for them to work for, but why shouldn’t they actually know who you are, are gonna wait until they’ve been there for two years before they realize that you’re making these kinds of donations. And even at that, are you communicating internally, all the great things that you’re doing as an organization, and it can be as simple as taking a picture of your team in front of the box of toys that’s being donated to whatever local charity or a group of your people at the local food bank, you know, doing feedings or their Habitat for Humanity building a home? Just take a picture, stop, take 30 seconds, take a picture because a picture’s worth 1000 words

Lex Patterson 19:45
as we never know, right? Yeah, it really is. And then leverage some

Adam Parks 19:49
of those things to tell your story. Don’t be afraid of social media. You can lock down the comments and I get the hesitation to use those kinds of channels. But think about it from a professional standpoint, right? Think about it from you know, we’re all on LinkedIn. I mean, we’re all on LinkedIn, in this industry. It’s very important. A lot of us are friends on Facebook, right? Even Instagram has become more popular across the space over the past few years. But when we’re How are you actually telling the story of your organization? It’s not just about compliance anymore. Compliance is table stakes. That’s and that’s the ante to sit at the poker table. Let’s talk about who you are as an organization. Let’s talk about how you treat your people. Let’s talk about how you care. Right? Why why is this never the crux of the discussion?

Lex Patterson 20:36
Right? Right. So diving into that a little bit, Adam talk about like, so. And Lacey and I were talking about this on a previous podcast, too, as well, about segmentation, you know, of, because when it comes to media today, and and marketing in general, I think, too, you know, you’ve got, it used to be that you had this one page up, it kind of was a catch, all right, it had everything on it, right. But now all that shifted. And so we were talking about the importance of really knowing who your audience is, who you’re speaking to, and you you hit on it, you know, those three different segments that you’re talking to, and it really could be for if you throw the employee into that mix, or the or the candidate that you’re hoping to get right. And so segmenting, that is important, but I mean, what are your thoughts about that in terms of not just the segmentation, but speaking to those different segments, and using different methods for is just landing pages and all that kind of stuff? I mean, walk us through that a little bit, kind of what your thoughts are on that.

Adam Parks 21:37
Don’t over segment it. Right, you don’t want to be speaking out of both sides of your mouth, because somebody is going to notice. And so I can’t speak out the right side of my mouth to the consumer and the left side of my mouth to the client. Right? It’s you’re going to, you’re going to confuse your messaging. And so I think that everybody wants to see that you’re putting the consumer first, the regulator wants to see it, the client wants to see it right, and the consumer wants to see it. So you’ll notice in a lot of the websites, if not all of the websites that I build, unless the client forces me to do otherwise, can the consumer page is the first page in the navigation, why goods, the most important thing, and mentally we’re putting the consumer first. That’s an important distinction to make. And I think that you don’t want to create these like segmented communications, you want to speak to everybody with the same tone, with the same veracity with the same tempo, like the conversation shouldn’t change just because of who you’re speaking to, you need to assume that every word that you’re writing, or every word that you’re saying is being heard by all three or four audiences simultaneously. And to your point, I kind of lumped the candidate in with the consumer, because I think that when a new candidate is walking to look up at your organization, they’re looking at it through the consumers eyes, they’re not a regulator, they don’t understand how the regulator thinks or or understand the FDCPA until they’ve been through training and all of that. So I think you kind of have to look at them as a consumer to and what kind of experience you’re giving, because you’re, if they see that you’re providing a positive experience to the consumer, aren’t they more likely to want to work for your organization? Right, and especially if they’ve never worked in collections before at all, you don’t feel comfortable about it the same way that you want to make the consumer feel comfortable. I think as we position ourselves as organizations we want to be, and I use this phrase all the time. And it’s maybe it’s right, maybe it’s wrong, approachable institutions. And what I mean by that is, you know, a debt buyer is ultimately a creditor, right? Their bank, for all intents and purposes, they may not be lending and may not follow their technical definition. But they’re a bank to the consumer, right? They’re the person that they owe the money to, they’re the creditor. Okay, well, that’s fine. So why do we have to like change the narrative around those things, it’s okay to be that be an approachable institution, you are a financial institution, a collection agency, is a financial institution, a collection law firm, the creditor, we’re all financial institutions and the loose sense of the definition, but that’s how we’re viewed. But being approachable one, you don’t want to be so standoffish that the consumer doesn’t feel like they can reach out to you and have a discussion because you know, where they’re gonna go, they’re gonna go to the CFPB, or the agency’s office or some other place to complain about you. And now you’ve got complaints going on, that didn’t need to happen. That was one of the big things. And one of the things I always pushed for when we had complaints and branding are working side by side is, if you’re going to allow the if the consumer is going to complain, why shouldn’t they complain to you? Why shouldn’t you make it easy for them to talk to you and for you to be responsive and reactive to what they have to say, and they don’t feel like they need a third party intermediary or moderator like the CFPB to come in. And to be perfectly frank, in the conversations that I’ve had with the CFPB. Early on in those discussions. They felt the same way. They’re like, wow, you mean actually just handle this and we don’t have to get involved like, wouldn’t that be fantastic? I think it improves the situation for everybody by opening yourself up as an approachable institution with clear guidelines on how to read reach out to you, and what you are going to say and do as they reach out to you like make them feel comfortable, approachable, institution.

Lex Patterson 25:07
Yeah. Yeah. So so I get what you’re saying about that. And I think one thing that’s just popping into my mind, though, is, let’s talk about the difference between select, and Google. And what we’ve been focused on a lot. So far, I feel like is sort of the brand and the PR part of things right and talking to those audiences and keeping that voice in the same voice. Let’s talk for a minute about so on Google, people are searching, right. So you’re looking at trying to pull up certain keywords, you’re tapping into serving them something of value that they’re looking for, they’ve got a problem, they’re looking for something, right. So we could talk a little bit about that. And I’d like to, but then I want to also flip it into this new concept of dark social, which is more about being on those social platforms as appear and really presenting it’s a different mindset, right? Because you’re not, they’re not searching for something that’s a problem. You’re putting something out there that they’re scrolling through. And they’re going to see this particular brand or voice right. So let’s talk for a minute about the first part of that, you know, how can companies build their pipeline? I mean, in addition to the brand, but also building their pipeline trying to get new clients? What? Any ideas for that? Any? I mean, obviously,

Adam Parks 26:29
let’s separate that into two pieces, right? Yeah. Yeah. So PS piece number one being the Google search results and search engine result page, right, is I’m going to use the word SERP a few times here. That’s what I’m referring to with SERP is the actual search engine results page. So I type in a keyword, I get a search results page, right? Here’s, here’s what Google thinks is important when I searched that term, and then we’ll talk a little bit about social. So think about it like this, your consumer, you get a letter from someone you’ve never met before. It’s got a company name on it, what are you gonna do, you’re gonna grab your phone most likely, and search for them. So not only have we moved over the past couple of years, from desktop results to mobile results, and I’ll tell you this, we probably have better visibility into this than anybody other than Google. And the reason I say that is with with hundreds of websites, under our management, we’re seeing traffic statistics on an aggregate basis that are just not available to the general world. And what we’ve seen is there was this movement of desktop to mobile, right? 2017 2018 2019 2020 was an exponential jump 2021, an exponential jump, going into 2022, I’m starting to see something like, in some instances, 70 to 85%, mobile traffic on our website. And it’s funny because our clients always want to evaluate it from the desktop, because that’s what they use all day. Right. And that’s fine, from a business to business setting, but they’re not putting themselves in the mind of the consumer. Right? Done speeches with a number of different trade associations. I’ve done it at Rmi, NCBA, ACA, where I literally kind of go into workshop mode, and I go pull out your phone right now type in your company name, what do you see? Yeah, right. Do you see about what kind of a great organization you are? Do you see messages about how it’s easier to see them pay you? And do

Lex Patterson 28:19
you see font This is big that you can’t even really read without pinching and zooming?

Adam Parks 28:24
So let’s talk about the search page, right? Like the search engine results page. First, first things first is are you seeing positive and negative? And once they click on your website, can they function? Right? Is your website mobile responsive? If they’re using an iPad, or a desktop or a tablet, or a smartphone? Are they going to be able to actually interact with your content? Are they going to be able to use your chat feature? Are they going to be able to have the ADA compliance and don’t even get me started on ADA compliance and all of the things that, you know, our industry really needs to start paying attention to, from that perspective, right? Because the Domino’s versus Robles case of 2019 made all websites a place of public accommodation. And if you think that consumer attorneys are willing to sue you over a comma in a letter aren’t willing to sue you over at a given time. Give it time. Yeah, even time I mean, I’m already seeing I’m constantly looking at the back end in the sitemaps. On some of these attacker websites, I see what they’re gearing up for an ad is one of those big things but we’ll go back to that. So from a from a marketing standpoint, you know, just search yourself and if you want you want to talk when you’re talking about the search engine results page for a collection agency, a debt buyer law firm, it will kind of lump all those together as a Receivables Management firm. When you’re when you’re looking at that and you search for it like what are you seeing this is like a game of Monopoly. Right? If position number one is boardwalk, that’s fine. First, I want to control Boardwalk. I’m playing Monopoly. But I don’t just need to control boardwalk I need to control the entire side of the board. Right because one negative result in there is a problem. And then Google’s changing the rules every other day. Now you’re going to find videos may or may not show up in your search results depending on whether or not you got a YouTube channel, right, you’re going to find that the FAQs are going to start showing up with attacker information instead of your own information. So then you got to go back to your website, update it, make sure you’ve got the right FAQ code schemas in there. And then you’re asking relevant questions. And so there is this cat and mouse game being played with some of these consumer attorneys. But then, where are you going to go and start creating third party profiles, right. So like, as we started receivables, info.com, which is our news website, we started creating profiles for a lot of our clients a place a third party location for them to talk about who they are as an organization. And that has started to create some positive content in take up one of the spaces, your LinkedIn profile, your indeed profile, your Facebook page, right? Like all of these different things start to stack on top of each other as you’re going through this battle for the first page of your SERP right, your search results page, right. And that I think, from a Google perspective, is something that’s really important now, when you start actually beating the Consumer Attorneys in that organic space, and that’s what we’re going to call that piece, that’s the organic space where you’re using natural content to fight the battle, well, then they’re going to start paying Google for ads. And then you’re going to start paying Google for ads, because you’re going to do all this work. And they’re going to jump right over you because they’re willing to pay 50 cents a click in order to start drawing in traffic to sue you rather than pay you. And then you’re going to see the saint, then you got to start running ads. And so there again, this this cat and mouse game. And I think a lot of them now have started to realize like when my team is on the other side of that battle, because we’ve put together a playbook that works. And they’re constantly trying new things against our playbook. But we’re like the patriots of this, right? Like, it’s kind of hard to beat the best. And so like that has become a constant battle. Now, when it comes to social social, generates new risk, right, and collection agencies and receivables firms are generally afraid of social. And to be perfectly frank, I don’t really blame them on some levels, because unless you really understand the nuances. I always use what I like to call the Comcast model when I’m explaining it to people. And you know, Comcast, I feel like is like one of the most hated organizations on the planet, right, regardless of whether or not they provide good service they provide the internet right now talk me through Comcast service. Right, right. I have no issue with them. But my point being is that they’re constantly being attacked by consumers online, saying horrible things about Yeah, yeah. And how do they fight back? They don’t write it don’t fight in the public setting. Why should I? What do they do? They say, We’re really sorry that you had that experience. Let’s talk down this channel. You can call us, you can email us, you can text us, we could send you a chat link. But let’s go talk over here in private about your specific situation. Yeah, I think if collection agencies look at social media in the same format, they can be really successful that way. Yeah.

Lex Patterson 32:55
Yeah, that’s interesting.

Adam Parks 32:57
Now, terms of like running social ads, and all of that, look, if you’re trying to hire people run social ads. And I’ve seen some of the more tech forward organizations that are running some let’s call it remarketing ads. Like if I went to this collection agency website, now I’m going to start to see them show up. To me. I mean, it may be legal, but I think you’re running a slippery slope there. It’s the same reason I’ve never been a proponent for collection agencies to use downloadable apps versus web apps. Because I don’t think any consumer that owes a debt really wants to have this debt collector app on their phone. But they’d be far more likely to interact with it’d be a web app that they can just click on the link, they can log in, and now they can still use it from their phone in a mobile friendly format. But does it require native code on their phone? No, in my opinion, it really does not. And but you got to make that decision. Different people have different strategies, and maybe have experienced things or performance numbers that I’m just not privy to.

Lex Patterson 33:52
Yeah, so I’m trying to understand, though, Adam, like on on the social part of it. Okay. So trying to get and we talked before, and you were talking about offense and defense, right. So, on the offensive side, we’re trying to fill our pipelines, we’re trying to get new clients, we’re trying to build our networks and that and on the social side, what I mean, am I hearing you that that’s even slippery there as far as because my thought was, what about going in? And you know, okay, so you’re in the, you’re in the medical space, you’re doing medical debt. And you basically research the clients that you want, or that you have, where do they hang out what’s going on? And then you’re putting posts to try and be top of mind and get that business and try and grow that grow that network in those areas? Is that are you saying that’s really risky to do that?

Adam Parks 34:43
It’s it’s probably not as risky. From that perspective, however, I mean, what major bank is on social media trying to select the collection agency, you know, they’re going to, they’re going to those that have demonstrated thought leadership. So I think for the time and energy and money that you’re gonna spend running social campaigns, why don’t you write an article and distributed through the trade associations, or publish it in other ways, you know, get yourself publishing in other formats and talk about the expertise that you have demonstrate thought leadership, right? To me, ads are fine. But I don’t know any major FinTech or debt buyer or auto financing company that’s shopping for their collection agencies that are debt buyers in that format. Right. I mean, if I really thought that I would have that market completely flooded. And I don’t know that anybody would be able to go on social media without finding, you know, me. But even looking at my LinkedIn page, right, like to me, they’re shopping on LinkedIn, they’re looking around on LinkedIn, right? Like, that’s a very powerful thing. You could run some LinkedIn ads, right? Or you could create some content. Right? Yeah, write articles. You could be on podcasts, you could create our own podcast. I mean, yeah.

Lex Patterson 35:52
And that is all of that is great. It provides that content that we’re talking about. And that’s what I was trying to get to when I was talking about the difference between the Google search and the social is providing something of value that will build that brand, if you will,

Adam Parks 36:08
they’re not that they’re not different, right? Because consider it like this, right? That same YouTube or so this podcast, for example, right? Yeah. Uh huh. It’s gonna go and it’s gonna, it could start showing up in my search results. If it’s got the name, Adam parks tied to it, it could start showing up in the Adam Park search results in the branded search results, right? So I’m creating positive content from a Google perspective. I’m gonna push it out through my social channels, too. Right. So now it’s going to be showing up there. So why does one piece of content have to be mutually exclusive of a platform or channel, you should be creating content demonstrate, even if you’re just adding articles to your blog, right, or a ton of free places that you can distribute look, accounts. recovery.net will take articles, especially if they’re not just total self promotion, you can talk to inside arm, you can talk to me over at receivables info and our team, right? There’s all different kinds of places to distribute your content, especially if you’re creating good content. Now, when we talk about creating good content, it’s one thing to go Me, me, me, me, me, it’s another thing to say. Here’s here’s problems that we know the industry are facing, here’s solutions that the industry are facing. And in the last paragraph being like, by the way, I also provide some of the services, right, demonstrating your expertise versus just creating. One of my friends said this to be recently like corporate selfies. So rather than taking these selfies, right, I know Yeah, I gotta give her credit. That was Jennifer Andrews with every gene. She’s there, I think, Chief Marketing Officer, for having that in that conversation came from us taking a selfie at a conference, posting it online, and then doing roughly five times the conference attendance in terms of views, right, that was a self it took us 30 seconds to create. And it generated 1000s of views. I think we did 5500 views on that post. I did one before the RMI show this year. Yeah, with a couple of friends. We did 7500 views on a conference that had roughly 1200 people. I mean, that’s a 5x visibility,

Lex Patterson 38:07
it’s funny to how you really are right about that Adam, like picture really is worth 1000 words. And how many people though really don’t take, I can remember sending trainers out and saying give me a couple pictures of the new office or whatever. And they would come back empty, you know, well, I forgot, you know, or whatever is, that’s a really powerful point that you’re making there. It’s the

Adam Parks 38:27
same thing internally, you go to conferences, take pictures with your friends take pictures in front of a sign posted on social media, write an article take the time, right? I mean, is it are you gonna make you’re gonna get 10 clients because you wrote an article? No, you’re not. But if you write 10 articles, you might get one client. Right? Right. So Right. And it’s always about the fear of getting started before I started the receivables roundtable series, which we just published, I think it was our 75th episode. Earlier today. I didn’t want to be on video doing this stuff. And it was actually judge Phillips with capital compliance group just started grabbing his phone and doing these little selfie videos, whether it be from his car, his office, or you know, his backyard or whatever. And I started thinking to myself, like, I could do that, like I should do that. And I started doing a couple of selfie videos. And I did one with Aaron fee and della who’s my vice president and creative, and we did it. We were we were thinking about at the time, coffee in cars with comedians that Jerry Seinfeld thing. Oh, yeah, yeah. So I commute on a golf cart. So we jumped on the golf cart with a selfie stick and a camera. There you go. We were talking about the industry. And I was telling her about what to expect her first RMI conference and we did it from the golf cart going from my office to my house picking up a coffee and driving back right. Yeah. And it was kind of cute. It was kind of funny. It cost us nothing to create. It took us like two hours I want to say between filming and post production. And what a phenomenal turnaround. I mean, I don’t think I walked into it. meeting or shook a hand at that particular conference, I want to say that was 2019. Or somebody did not talk about that video it did 1000s of views. I think we did five or 6000 views on LinkedIn. Yeah, we did pretty well on on YouTube with it. And you know, don’t be discouraged if your content doesn’t explode out the gate, I got some videos that have been like 10 views, and I got other videos that have done 1000s Yeah, right. All you do is try and learn from each piece of content, don’t be discouraged and continue to have some confidence in yourself. Now for me, receivables roundtables started to come more into play, because people were more comfortable being on Zoom. Right? So that makes starts people are on all these conversations. We’re having all these video chats. And I went, huh, here’s an opportunity to get some really key people around the industry involved. And when I first started doing it, man, if you look at some of my first videos versus the videos I’m creating today, yeah, I mean, it was like, a cheap little microphone on my desk. And you know, probably the webcam from my laptop like it was nothing special. Now over time is I’ve been creating more and more content and putting more confidence in myself. I mean, you can build a really nice little YouTube studio for 500 bucks, or $1,000, depending on what your budget is. But there’s nothing that stops you from getting a half decent microphone, a half decent webcam, you don’t have to be running a DLSR camera and teleprompters and, you know, sound boards and everything else. It’s not, I mean, eventually, you may want to get to that point. And you may want to have that fun, because now I’m not gonna lie, I use this kind of stuff, you know, in a conference. And so I could be you know, sitting there and somebody, I asked for volunteers, and I get no response. So I’m going to give them but I get that response. Now my meetings have become more engaging, people are having more fun with it, right? Yeah. Yeah. And being able to kind of drop in some of that and have a little bit more fun with it, I think is the key. The other thing I would I would tell people, if you’re going to create content, especially video content, don’t script it. Right, right. cool to have some bullet points and to have a storyline that you want to follow. But don’t scripted. The first two episodes I did of that series of receivables roundtable, I jumped on and it was totally scripted. Not on my side, I like to wing it. But my guest came on with a total script actually published those two episodes because nobody wants to listen to somebody reading a script, that we’re not actors were debt collectors, like nobody wants to learn enough to create good content does it is

Lex Patterson 42:30
it is it is let me circle you back. Because I think it’s so important. We touched on it. And that is the whole consumer attorney piece where they’re, they’re basically going after with the keywords. And I mean, tell us a little more like when someone comes to you and they have that problem, Adam, and I’m sure most everybody does have that problem, whether they know it or not. What are kind of maybe three areas that you try and step through, and I’m thinking in my mind, you know, like, Okay, what’s this could cost me? What, what, and and maybe even just back up even a little further than that. And for those that don’t, that haven’t been exposed to what’s going on what is happening there? Like, what’s going on? What’s that battleground look like? Sure. So

Adam Parks 43:13
the battleground itself looks like we’re just getting beat down. Because these guys were spent? Well, they have a different problem, the consumer attorney is able to build a single website and attack a lot of people. So they’re able to consolidate their expenses. And to them, this is how they’re being fed. So any opportunity that they can find to be fed, they’re going to take now the collection agencies are all fighting the problem independently. And that’s a different challenge. Right. So each organization has to fight this independently, not to mention the fact that if the consumer attorney started fighting 10 years ago, and you start fighting tomorrow, within an uphill battle, right, they’re already holding a significant amount of ground. And there’s a lot of them. It’s not like there’s like one or two of them. Like there’s a lot of them out there depending on the type of organization. Now, for me, the battleground comes down to content, it comes down to creating good content one having a solid website now, I named my company branding arc because it was actually a marketing theory that I started writing college during my master’s degree. So if you think about the if you think about an ark way, right, like the awkward docks right in the center, that Keystone is your website. And then down one channel you’ve got starting with your least expensive but most effective digital marketing communications down one side, your physical marketing down the other now for today’s conversation, we’re going to focus more on that digital side. So what kinds of things can you be doing what can you be doing that’s effective and doesn’t cost you a fortune? Updating your social profiles, making sure that they’re powerful, updating your LinkedIn profiles, making sure that you’re using as much of LinkedIn as you possibly can like, what a great tool set, Twitter can be a little bit more difficult. I had 30 Some accounts get suspended on Memorial Day one year for posting American flag so Twitter’s a battleground where we’re not fighting a fair battle as an industry. We’re just it’s never going to be a fair battleground. But then creating content, right, creating articles in press releases and getting them published with the trade associations, getting them published with the news organizations around the space and starting to create that defensive positioning, creating your FAQs, but answering the same FAQs, maybe they’re not the top 10 questions that you’re getting. But they might be the top 10 questions that the consumer attorneys are using to attack you right now. So how are you going to go about that? It’s sometimes the language doesn’t feel natural. And you got to kind of get past that a little bit type of battle that you’re fighting. That’s the challenge, right, is that when we’re going into a new organization that’s fighting this kind of a battle, I’m always talking to them about their content, and what kind of content we’re going to create. And depending on the position that they’re in, I mean, I’ve started working with some really good organizations, and I won’t drop the name, but I’ll tell you this is, in my opinion, one of the cleanest operations in the entire space. They work with the major banks like this is one of like, this is an organization that many of us aspire to be okay. And when I started working with them, they didn’t control position one of their their own SERP right, their search engine results, position number one was a consumer attorney, they called position number two, but three through 10 was all negative. And it took us over a year to take control of the first couple of results. It took time, it took us creating third party profiles, it took us creating video, it took us creating audio content, because creating you know written content and distributing that content in a number of different social media, rebuilding their profiles, and it’s a process. And honestly, it’s not even necessarily something that organizations can’t do themselves. I think where we’ve found success is that to bring in a good marketing person who can do all of those things is going to run your north of 100,000. Right? And so my team goes in and says, Okay, well, we’ll give you a cross section of all these different things on a monthly basis at a digestible price point for you. So, you know, we’ve basically got plans at 30,000 a year, 60,000 a year, and 120,000 a year, right, depending on the number of credits. And the way that our team works with the organization’s is. We basically have this deliverables menu, here’s all the different things. You could choose from YouTube videos, expertise, articles, financial literacy content, right? All these different things that you could choose from. And then we build a plan with the client on a quarterly basis. And then we go and we execute that plan. Right? So we’re, we’re learning about your individual organization, we’re learning how to tell your story, we’re helping you to tell that story. And you’re able to basically get enough marketing that you’re feeling comfortable, you’re being active, you’re fighting the battle, but you’re not spending $100,000 on a decent person, you’re not ultimately, you know, really, it’s all the other problems that come with managing well,

Lex Patterson 47:48
like you got that. And then the part that you really didn’t touch on that I’m sure is there, too, is the reduction in lawsuits. You know, that comes as part of the positioning as well. And I don’t know if you have any stats on that, like if you’ve worked with companies where you’ve seen them their budget on lawsuits, now they’ve diverted some of that over here to be proactive on it. Right. And I mean, right? Absolutely.

Adam Parks 48:11
So it’s a little harder for me to measure because I’m no longer in the compliance space and looking directly at their litigation logs. The feedback that I have gotten from clients is I’m not aware of a single client, that’s spending more on me, that hasn’t had at least that reduction in lawsuit. So they, yeah, in every instance that I’m aware of, we are completely paying for ourselves. Now, the only caveat that I would throw to that is organizations that are offensive marketing, right? Or offensive only. So if you look at a company, for example, like Fairfax, right, like they’re not a heavy lawsuit type organization, they’re not collecting on a debt specifically, and a lot of the work that we do for them as offensive, it’s parties and promotions and articles and other things that we’re doing a lot of the same things, but from their perspective, it’s more about offensive going to get new clients than it is about creating that defensive moat around their organization.

Lex Patterson 49:05
Yeah, yeah. Great stuff, man. I’m telling you. Yeah, that’s really cool. Well, um, geez, is there anything we should have talked about that we didn’t talk about? I mean, I mean, I can think of a ton of topics still that are on the page. Maybe we’ll have to do another one of these. But did you feel like we covered those pieces about as well as we can, or somebody should have asked you that I didn’t add them. There’s one

Adam Parks 49:29
more thing I’d like to throw out there. And it’s for everybody who is, you know, maybe not ready to engage in organization like mine to take these on. The best step I can give you to give you the least cost with the best value is most of you are already members of trade associations. Go get involved. Go join committees, attend the conferences, do the networking, take a couple of selfies, put it out on your LinkedIn, work on your personal brands, but engage in the trades. associations, like there’s so much value in engaging in trade associations, they are literally built around helping our organizations. And it’s a great opportunity to network, whether it be Rmi, or ACA, or NCBA, or anybody else that ultimately, you know, that you want to participate with, engage in the trade associations, participate, be active, give a little bit of yourself, and you’d be surprised at what you’re going to get back.

Lex Patterson 50:29
Yeah, and you really spoke to that earlier with what happened with you and Dara, and the help there, you know, and that help is out there all over the place as a very generous, very giving bunch of people that we’ve gotten this industry to that want to help each other, right. I mean, and that’s your, you’ve been very gracious and generous to help me too. Because we share that, that mission of wanting to, you know, get this word out there and teach people about what’s going on,

Ada Parks 50:56
I forget who said it. But if you’re going to get to the top, you got to send the elevator back down and pick up the next person. And so at every conference that I attend, I tried to make time to spend time with first time attendees. And I’ve been lucky enough to actually hire some of them in the end, because I identified some really good people that I thought would be a fit for my organization. And so that’s worked out really well for me, but I always take the time to meet with people. If you’re going to be successful in this space, if the space has been good to you, if you’ve made your money here, like give back to it, participate in the trade associations, talk to more people, and just get out there and engage, right, like you already know, like, I walk into a conference, I may already know a lot of the people there. And sometimes like as I’ve started to engage more like for example, with ACA, right. It’s not like my home turf, like RMI is kind of like my home turf. Yeah, ACA I don’t know as many people but the same people that I grabbed by the hand and walked around at an RMI show and introduced me to all these people are now doing the same thing for me not because they’re obligated or even because I asked, I’ll just be walking down the hall, they’ll grab me by the hand and say, Hey, do you know this person, you should probably you guys should get to know each other. And me, that’s what a phenomenal type of industry where everybody even though we may be competing on certain things, are actually working together towards a positive resolution. And I think we all do have the same goal at heart, which is protecting this industry, engaging in a meaningful way with consumers, and ultimately continuing to balance the interest rates and availability of credit for these consumers. Because I think for many of us in this industry, that is the bottom.

Lex Patterson 52:34
Yeah, yeah. Well put, yeah. Okay, we’re gonna wrap on this. Okay, you’re ready. If you could have a billboard with anything on it? What would it be? And why?

Adam Parks 52:47
I could have a billboard with anything on it. I think it would be debt collectors are not bad.

Lex Patterson 53:02 Hmmm OK

Adam Parks 53:12 Honestly, I’ve spent my whole career from a marketing standpoint, trying to help people understand that debt collectors are not bad people. I mean, you can read books, like bad paper, and, you know, attack articles and all of this stuff. But I really, we’re not bad people. This is an industry made up of humans and individuals. And I don’t think that we get enough credit, because I have very rarely, especially with through the trade associations, and my circle, do I come across a bad person, or a bad organization now, is that to say that 1215 years ago, things weren’t different. Of course, they were right. But our man, I certification, all these other things that have started to come around, and we’ve weeded out a lot of that, and now is a much deeper focus. I don’t think the debt collectors are bad people. I think that, you know, the availability of credit is important. I grew up without it without money. And, you know, sometimes we had to borrow money to fix the car this month, and, you know, take a payday loan or whatever. And I think I think that there’s a fair and equitable balance of the way that things can be done in this industry. And I’m hoping that as the political pendulum continues to swing that we can clearly start to demonstrate and I think we’ve done a good job of this to this point, that debt collectors are not bad people that we are here for purpose, we have an essential role in the economy, and that collectors aren’t bad.

Lex Patterson 54:22
Yeah, people helping people really is what it is. Yeah.

Unknown Speaker 54:26
It really is all about helping the consumer. And I think that that has been a major dynamic shift in focus over the last five to 10 years, and I’m proud to be part of that shift.

Lex Patterson 54:37
Yep, yep. Me too. Yeah. Well, thank you so much, Adam, for spending the time with me. I knew I knew it was gonna be a great conversation. We talked about a lot of things and kudos to you on the stuff you’re doing. Keep it up. And I’m sure we’ll talk again soon.

Adam Parks 54:55
Really appreciate it. Thank you so much for having me.

Lex Patterson 55:08
Thanks for listening everybody. For links and resources related to everything discussed today, visit the show notes on the episode page at Kindred force calm. If you’d like to support the podcast, the easiest and most impactful thing you can do is to subscribe to the show on Apple podcasts on Spotify, on Amazon music, or on Google podcast. Sharing the show, or your favorite episode with friends or on social media is of course always appreciated. And finally, for podcast updates and the inside scoop, subscribe to our newsletter, which you can find on any page of our website at Kindred force calm. I appreciate the love and support. I don’t take your attention for granted. Thank you again for listening. See you next time.

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