[00:00:17] Corey: Today I'm joined by Chris Dreyer. Welcome Chris. Hey, thanks for
[00:00:21] Chris: having me.
[00:00:22] Corey: So would you mind giving us a little bit of context about you, your background and the work you
[00:00:27] Chris: do? Yeah, sure. I, Rankings.io, we are a legal marketing agency. We specialize in SEO and I've been doing the agency work for 10 plus years.
We're an Inc 5, 000 fastest growing company in the U S for the last six years in a row. And that's what I do. We work with attorneys all over the nation.
[00:00:48] Corey: What could you share about maybe the size or revenue or number of employees of your company?
[00:00:54] Chris: Yeah, we should definitely hit 13 million this year. Next year, it's going to sound crazy, but we should, a very attainable, not a stretch goal, hit 18 million just based upon recent data and expanded Salesforce.
Now I finally, after 10 years can project things like that more accurately. It's taken a long time and yeah, I've got my own philosophy about decoupling. Revenue from headcount, but we are around 36. People, 36
[00:01:23] Corey: people at 13 million. That's a good, yeah, it is. That's an efficient business. I like this. That's very cool.
I'd love to learn more about that. And then what do you do there as the CEO? Like, what is your day to day look
[00:01:35] Chris: like? I host a podcast. We do a weekly show at least one episode a week. We do sometimes two high value relationships. So our VIP clients right now, I would say the main hat that I'm still wearing is sales manager, like a VP of sales or C CRO type of.
So I'm kind of guiding our marketing team and our sales team would love to shed that hat would love to get that sales manager in there, but that's the last one that I'm kind of holding on tight to.
[00:02:02] Corey: what is the origin story of rankings. io? You said you started about 10 years ago.
What was, what was happening in your life at that time that launched into this new career or this new business?
[00:02:11] Chris: Well, I'll give you the quick, I'll give you a quick background because my story is, is definitely odd. I, I went to college, but I told my parents before I went to college, they really wanted me to go.
That I was like, look, I was like, I'm going to go, but just so you know, I'm going to start my own business. And my parents were like, cool, you'll have this as a backup, yada yada. I was not a good student. I really wasn't. I partied. I somehow ended up with a history education degree. I don't know really how because I was just not a good student.
Uh, there's, there's. Stories in there too, if you want to dive in and I was a, I was a really good athlete and I was recruited for, uh, I had scholarships for basketball and I thought I was going to coach college basketball. So like history education degree, I'll go coach and then I'll kind of get my foot in the door and coaching.
And I found myself as a detention room supervisor. That was my first gig. And I, I had all this downtime where there's just nothing to do. I'm stuck in this room and I wanted to use it to produce, you know, I wanted to be beneficial, so I typed in how to make money online. one of the early courses, this Ed Dale's course on affiliate marketing took it and made like 20 bucks, but it gave me the knowledge to pursue that path.
And by the end of my second year teaching, I was making about 16, 000 a month, something like that, like significantly more than teaching. So I quit, I got a mentor, I moved to Florida, uh, much to my, my parents and, uh, much to their chagrin. And I started affiliate marketing and I had. At one time, at least 80 to a hundred sites, on every topic you could imagine, and, you know, even looking back then, if I would have just focused on a few of those instead of spreading myself, then it would have been much better, but I did well until that first penguin algorithm.
And it just nuked me because I was doing the build my rank links. If all the, the SEO old schools will know that and a easy and articles and. E zine, yes. Yeah. So I had a, you know, I had probably 20 e zine mugs and I was like, well, what am I going to do? And I went and back in the day you got a job, you went to Craigslist.
So I typed in SEO and I just shot my resume off to so many companies that I hit their filter and it wouldn't allow me to even. Use it anymore. And I got a handful of interviews and I actually got hired by three companies and Corey, you know, I don't know where you stand on this and some of our audience I'd say most people would say which one did you choose?
Well, I took all three So I had this affiliate team. I had this team my affiliate team that was helping me That I was back in the day, it was oDesk and now it's Upwork and they were all remote jobs. So I was the best employee at all three companies and they were three agencies and, , because I had so much productivity because I had a staff and they didn't know that, I looked at it from an integrity standpoint as look, they're hiring me to do this job and I'm going to do it better than they can even imagine.
Like they can't pay someone my salary to do what I'm doing because I had a big staff and I did that for about a year and a half and it was the agency space and saw the agency space and I kind of saw what not to do, what to do, what was working, what was not working. And I started just building this thing on the side and eventually kicked off attorney rankings.
org now it's rankings, but that is the story.
[00:05:51] Corey: So interesting. I love that you sort of took a performance basis for your three agency jobs where I'm sure your, your bosses or the agency was really concerned about the output of their investment of you versus, you know, what you were spending your time doing.
So I think that's, that's brilliant that you did that. And then you leveraged your, your SEO skills, your, your backlinking skills and combine that with some learnings from the agency space to see an opportunity in, the legal space. What type of agencies were they like, what are they, were they generalists or they vertical specialists?
Was it, what were they doing? What was their focus?
[00:06:28] Chris: Two of the three were generalists. One of them started in legal, then went to generalist. And I actually, that was the main one that I, I spent the most time working with attorneys. And I actually had a really good relationship with the CEO. And I told him, I was like, hey, I'm doing this.
He probably didn't love hearing it. And I was like, look, I'm, I'm not gonna solicit, even though I signed no contracts. I'm not gonna solicit your client. I'm gonna train my replacement. I'm never gonna talk to them. I'm gonna be the biggest advocate. Refer business back and forth, blah, blah, blah. And I did all of that.
Never a word, even though I got the emails, right? I just ghosted them. And, that agency had a lot of issues with utilization and delivery. So they could get clients, but they couldn't keep them because they were not investing in that side. And. Eventually, they thought the solution would be to become a generalist agency.
Well, that just was not the right direction. And in a few years, I'd say about three years, in a certain moment, they went under. and then the floodgates were open and so I could talk to. Those clients, because Hey, they're no longer in business. And, but yeah, that's what happened to them is they, they took the wrong approach.
They were undercapitalized to go the general space.
[00:07:44] Corey: so what was attorney ranking. com?
[00:07:46] Chris: so attorney rankings. org, it was guys, if you look at like, what is that archive site? If you look at our first designs, just, just shield your eyes.
we did SEO design and pay per click and basically any job that came in. Look, I, I needed to make revenue. I needed to, I couldn't be too. Selective. I took clients that I would never take today. I did projects that I would never do today, but I had to, to get into the game, to get those early testimonials, to get those early referrals and momentum, to be more selective and, and to choose a focus.
And that's, that's what we did at the beginning. Got it.
[00:08:27] Corey: So in other words, it was a SEO agency specifically for attorneys. Were you building websites or were you mostly consulting on their existing properties, like the fine law sites or whatever?
[00:08:39] Chris: it's mostly SEO. I, I had an acquaintance, or Steven Willey's my president.
So I would say we, we had a mutual friend. We went to a birthday party and it was one of those kinds of casual conversations like, well, what do you do for work? Right. I'm like, well, I, I do SEO. He's like, oh, I, I design websites. And I'm like. Our clients need that. So I looked at his work, his work was great.
And I started just, referring business to him. And eventually we just, we hit it off working together and he kind of was, he was one of those early to join me. And what I now know is I am, there's definitely luck in this world. I got the unicorn out of the gate. And I'm just so lucky that he was my integrator first hire, just, crazy circumstances that they came together and, and found him as my first hire.
[00:09:34] Corey: was happening or tell me some of the things that led up to the decision to focus on attorneys for attorney rankings. org. Like you could have started an SEO agency for. Uh, as a generalist or for local service businesses. But what, what about it? Like, why did that make sense for you at that time?
[00:09:51] Chris: At the time I was thinking about, I didn't have a ton of capital.
And I wasn't the saver of money or investor that I am today. And I knew that I needed to pick, I needed to have like a target instead of just shooting for everything. And I, I enjoyed working with attorneys. I knew the market was incredibly saturated. So it demanded expertise and had been around for a long time.
So it's more insulated compared to other industries. The, if I'm being really honest, Corey, I went into this and being a little vulnerable here. It also has a status component of, Oh, you do marketing for law firms. And so that was a piece that played into it and I wanted to be associated with that profession.
And that's kind of why I chose it.
[00:10:40] Corey: And so in the early days, how did you acquire new attorney customers for your agency? Like, how did they find you? What did you, did you do any outreach? Was it mostly just focusing on your own SEO content? What was that? What did that look like?
[00:10:53] Chris: I'll tell you a few things that really kickstarted it.
The first thing was when I worked at the three agencies, all of the clients that I managed because I was like an account manager slash do it. I was a full cycle AM slash specialist. Anyone that I had did great work for, I had them write me a LinkedIn testimonial. Now I did, I had them say, you know, Chris was this right.
I had, before I even launched my agency, I had 70 LinkedIn recommendations. So I had a decent amount of social proof there, I, that helped. A few things that I did was I got on LinkedIn and just tried to find whoever was local that I could have breakfast with in the space. Just to be a part of the community.
So, one of my earliest, just great moves that I did was I met with Craig Smith from Finelaw. I don't think he's with Finelaw now, but for, let's just say over a decade, he was top three Finelaw sales rep. Amazing human being, amazing connector. And we just kind of stay connected and just made introductions.
And it was, it was a, an excellent long term play. and he's just a great human being. I still love Greg today. but that was a good move. I worked my spear of influence, friends and family attorneys, whoever knew an attorney, I kind of did that. I also did some spam, your Tam spam, your total addressable market.
Just being honest. Yeah. Yeah. on LinkedIn back in the day, this was just unreal. You could message your entire connection list at one time. It was so bizarre. So I did that. got a few clients like that. And then I picked up some great clients, actually two clients that I still have today from this next thing that I did, nice Google plus for a time was a thing and I hosted a.
They had these circles that you could share to increase your followers. And I hosted an attorney specific one that had requirements. And I was like the, to get in the circle. And once you're in, you've got a bunch of followers. And I did that. And I was just a great connector and a couple of my clients, still Dolman law group, the Levin firm in Philly.
I mean, this was from Google plus 10 plus years ago.
[00:13:10] Corey: For context, just to back up for a quick second, would you share who fine law is for those folks who are not in the vertical?
[00:13:17] Chris: Finelaw's the 810 pound gorilla. I think they're owned by internet brands. I'm not sure. they're a massive, massive legal directory.
They've been around for a long time. They, Thomson Reuters, they have a unique method of acquiring links due to having legal information on their site. So they can attract a lot of inbound links naturally, so they use that to then create a directory. The directory ranks really well and So I wouldn't equate it to the quality of a Yelp, but if you type in legal queries, a lot of those, a lot of times you're going to find fine law, they weren't known for the best professional services work.
I think their director, even today has some value in certain markets, but they, they also did digital marketing too. Sure. And
[00:14:03] Corey: so to contextualize what you shared earlier, is that you, you know, Aligned with one of the top three sales reps there who was, had been around a while. I understood the, sort of the environment there as far as legal websites and directories and marketing
[00:14:20] Chris: Let, let me just expand on that. Cause I don't think I did it justice and how important this relationship was. Craig introduced me to the other top sales reps at Finder, so. I didn't know it at the time, but it was going to be a great future referral source.
[00:14:36] Corey: it sounds like you and Craig hit it off, as people and have mutual interests, but was there any, benefit to Craig in investing in your
[00:14:44] Chris: relationship?
Yeah, absolutely. Because I didn't do everything that they offered, right? So first of all, my clients, I could get them, a super lawyer's directory or in the final directory, if it made sense, if it was strategically beneficial, rising tides, right? I would audit every single directory. So I know some of the, if there's attorneys listening, be like, well, I try and find law and it didn't give me a lease.
Well, maybe you weren't in, didn't have the correct placement. and maybe it's not right for your market. Like it's, it's hit or miss, right? And, I'd send him design overflow because we only had a certain amount of capacity when we would hit capacity or I would make introductions for him. So it was, it was very symbiotic.
It was very mutually beneficial. I connected him to a lot of people and, yeah, it was just a good gig.
[00:15:29] Corey: That's great. definitely. It sounds like there's some reciprocity for the two of you. It made sense for you to lean into that relationship mutually. that's awesome. I imagine an agency owner, maybe a generalist who's listening could be thinking about if they were going to go into a vertical, who is the equivalent of the fine law, right?
And potentially that Craig and, , within that organization and, you know, not only finding them, but, Looking for ways to build mutually beneficial relationships.
I read this book, the ultimate sales machine by Chet Holmes. And he talks about your dream 100 and, and I was a new agency. I'm like, there's no way that my agency with no social proof is going to land these big clients. But so I flipped it and I was like, well, what if I had a dream 100 referral partners, you know, they're commissioned only sales reps.
Right. And. I thought, I'll just, I'll just start nurturing my referral relationships that already get business. Now at the time, what I did was, you know, I had like 80 to 100 of these that I was tapping, but that was the wrong approach. The right approach would have been to the 8 to 10 juggernauts in the space.
The Kregs. I should have latched on tighter to them because they sent me. 80 to 90% of my referrals, as opposed to spreading out and trying to hit 80. And that's a lesson that took me a while to learn, but, I did ultimately learn it.
[00:16:50] Corey: Sure. So what would you do differently to the, that eight or 10, connectors in the, in the industry versus what you actually did to the
[00:16:58] Chris: 80 to a hundred?
You mentioned early on reciprocity and everybody wants referrals. The best way to get a referral is to give a referral. It's not just to be a nice guy and, and that can carry some weight. But the, if you want referrals, you have to give value to them. And I would have, instead of, to give you an example, I thought, Oh, I'll just, if I have a client I can't work with, maybe there's an exclusivity scenario, whatever scenario.
I'll send it to all these people. Right? I'll splash it here, here, here, here, here, and here. Where I should have just hit the one or two. And it was just the wrong, it was the wrong mindset and I should have taken that more, more seriously, be focused on providing value to those that gave me the most value.
[00:17:48] Corey: great. Looking back now at that time, what would you say to,earlier Chris, the younger Chris, who was building this agency, and you wanted to find more of the, two to three to five to 10 of those real kind of mavens in the industry.
How would you go about finding them? How would you, what advice would you have for yourself?
[00:18:08] Chris: I think you have to, if you listen to my first million, they call it getting belly to belly . I think you, you really need to meet these type of individuals in person. And I think there's something to be said about a handshake, a breakfast egg, a just face-to-face conversation.
So like, Craig, you know, I went, went to breakfast and lunch with him. we met in person. we, we talked about our families, we talked about. Life and masterminds help conferences, help with that and visiting clients. You know, a lot of times it's effort, right? Corey, it's the things that people aren't willing to do it.
You have a big prospect on the hook that hasn't quite converted, but it's right there, go fly to see them go set down in their office. How are we going to make this work? it's the things that people do, that take effort that really have the
[00:19:02] Corey: impact. Yeah. Peter Thiel, I believe it's Peter Thiel or, someone in that, uh, domain talks about, at least in the early days of building a business is you want to do the things that don't scale.
Kind of want to just do a lot of that because you're learning along the way. You're figuring out what works, what doesn't, and you can't just, you know, depend on those things that only scale because you just won't get there as quickly.
[00:19:25] Chris: That's spam your TAM, right? Yeah, back in the day I was spamming your TAM.
I was just throwing pamphlets out everywhere as approach as opposed to hitting maybe that Dream 100 with a custom gift, a very personalized letter or something that's not scalable, but how much impact would it have if I, you land one of those Dream 100s? So,
[00:19:49] Corey: let's talk about the sort of the growth stages of the, of the agency.
So you were, you're building a relationship with Craig, you were doing the outreach, you're doing all this activity to build your client list. were there any points where maybe the growth was a challenge or, you faced some adversity in that growth? what did the. The middle years look like for you.
[00:20:09] Chris: We've never had a down year. I will tell you, we've definitely had challenges though. And I've definitely burnt more money than God knows. I've just burned a lot of money. Uh, there was one scenario. I don't know. And I talk about this in my book, but I don't know what year it was. So let's just say year four or five.
I joined Vistage, which is this business owner peer group. It's, it's somewhere to EO. And for me. I was a technician. I was an SEO specialist, a digital marketer. I , didn't have the business acumen that I have today. And so I was in it for three years and I learned a ton. I, I, I really did. It really accelerated that and opened a whole world to me.
But I remember a business review where all my peers, after I gave this presentation, they're like, Oh, you should. You should do the exact same thing for home services and physicians. And I left this business review. And at the time my domain was attorney rankings. org and I'm like, you're right. That's what I'm going to do.
So I went and bought rankings. io the domain. I rechanged all the copy on my website. And by the way, you can find this on archive. org. It's, it's hideous, but you can see this. I can't remember what year it is. And I was talking to physicians and home services and lawyers and, and I landed, unfortunately, landed some good clients.
I know people are like, why, unfortunately, well, I landed general RV center. I landed a couple of big dental, but here's what happened. My momentum in the main space legal started to slow because my copywriting didn't speak specifically to them. My marketing wasn't targeted specifically to them. My email copy was more bland, generic, negative, negative, negative.
And quickly I was like, oh. That was a, the wrong move. So I went back to legal after, after a short stint and basically as a generalist agency.
[00:22:07] Corey: Define a short stint. Like what time? I think it
[00:22:10] Chris: was like seven months, maybe.
[00:22:12] Corey: And during that seven, seven months when, before you decided to sort of cut ties with this approach, what, what was happening in the business that wasn't working
[00:22:20] Chris: That's the thing that everyone thinks about when it comes to specialization, but the things that people don't talk about enough. Is efficiency in eliminating waste. Instead of me having to create a key, do keyword research on attorneys and even in the attorney space, as you know, PI criminal family, that's a whole gambit of its own, I'm now having to do keyword research for.
Every single project is a blank canvas and it's bespoken. I have to start from ground one. I can't get any efficiency. So I lose all kinds of profitability. I don't understand even with scoping exercises, what the business is really worth to them and what I can charge. Everything's a guess and your marketing becomes more inefficient.
So even though when you look at the cost to acquire a client. On the, it may, or acquire a lead, it may look like it's more for legal, but it's the quality of that lead. And so just all these things I've learned the hard way, and that's just scratching the surface, Corey, as you know, there's way more than that.
And I just underappreciated and how much of a benefit it was early on in focusing.
[00:23:36] Corey: So you're at 13 million today, you're going to 18 million. how big is the legal marketing, like, uh, legal marketing or the TAM that you're going after, like how many clients as the, would you say is in your TAM?
And, what percentage are you at right there right now? do you look at it in those terms?
[00:23:55] Chris: It's a really good question. And that's, that's a weakness of mine, right? It's the market size. I have difficulty with that because it depends on, okay. So for example, let's, let's just say there's, and I may be off significantly, but let's just say there's 40, 000 PI law firms.
How many personal injury attorneys are there? So. You know, so when you're talking about TAM, are you talking about the firm? Are you talking about, you know, if I created a social media, let's say I created a PR service. Right where I'm going to elevate these individuals and elevate their status and do social media and PR for them Well instead of one client from a firm, maybe I could get four or six Yeah, you know or going upstream for for enterprise where one Company may own so several law firms and I have I have a few of those right so Tam gets harder to define I would say, even where I'm at, I haven't even scratched the surface of it.
I'm not even, I don't even think I'm 1%. Like, I know I'm not 1%. So, it's significant. A few things that I wish that I would have appreciated more. Was, and every agency goes through this is exclusivity. And first I'm gonna say attorneys, you, if you want to earmuff for a second, . I have a funny little, I have a funny little thing here.
Um, you know, one is a client, two is a competitor, three is a niche, . But, uh, what I'll, what I'll say here is in the early days of your agency, you're desperate to close clients and. There is a psychological benefit to scarcity and scarcity creates urgency. So that's what exclusivity does. So it is a psychological benefit for sales.
But what happens is it restricts your, your territory. And a lot of times early on, we don't understand the opportunity costs that we're giving up. And even in the SEO space, it's, it's very difficult to do true exclusivity because of proximity and office that's one to three miles away. Doesn't truly compete in the same manner.
And I could go on and on about this and ultimately the biggest light bulb that finally hit after years of struggling with this is you don't want to restrict your client's ability to grow. That's the, the, the biggest detriment. If you have a Houston firm and they, for whatever reason, want to open an office in Chicago, you are not going to tell them no.
Or if you can't work on that, that is a major no no. So, anyways, the agency owner's listening and I'm sure they've struggled with the geographic exclusivity, component. I would say if you're looking to implement urgency, talk about what they're missing out on not working with you. Focus on, oh, what makes you think?
You're like, how many more links you're gonna acquire have to acquire if you continue to build none. Your competitors are building them.
[00:26:52] Corey: having been in the space, personally, I know that there's going to be, especially some of the bigger players who have, significant budget to spend potentially good clients are also really interested in exclusivity. Right or wrong, it's more of a psychological kind of bias, potentially. how do you handle those conversations where they're coming in and saying, yeah, we'll give you this big chunk of business, but you can't, you can't work with, you know, these five firms because we hate them.
[00:28:17] Chris: So I refer to that in a different manner. So I would refer to that as like a, uh, in terms of exclusivity, I call it, it was like an arch enemy clause. And I think that's a bit different. And I would entertain that, although I would say. You know, if I'm going to counter my argument, if you're working with, Dr.
Thunder and Coca Cola wants to work with you, my God, what are you going to do when you have your archenemy clause? Right. So, yeah, so there's something to be said there, but sometimes if it's a deal breaker, we lose those deals you just have to be okay with it. I think there's a lot of times these attorneys who maybe have been burned in the past, the trust is lacking.
So when you, it's just hard to overcome that. And even the more you try to educate them, the more they're think that you're trying to pull the rug over their eyes. And that's okay that you lose some of those deals. ultimately it's not in your best interest in most scenarios to, to give exclusivity in my opinion.
[00:29:17] Corey: I think to tie it back to the earlier comment, as far as the number of total firms. Let's say there's 40, 000 personal injury attorneys or law firms in the U. S. When you take into consideration there is going to be some percentage of those will be taken off the market because They don't want you to work with them.
Maybe the market's a little bit smaller, getting from 13 to 18 million, is that primarily through, selling more clients, your services, in other words, bringing on more clients, or is it more selling additional services to your current clients?
Combination of both. Like, how do you, how do you think about that growth?
[00:29:52] Chris: So multiple things here. It is more clients, more services, increasing the lifetime client value from each respective client. So better retention.
everyone always thinks about leads and leads is certainly a factor, but there's also win rate, sales cycle, those types of components that go into it, the biggest kind of aha moment I've had. Is with capitalization. Okay. So when you start an agency and you don't have a lot of money, you're hustling, you're doing things for free, you're doing the things that don't scale.
And as you grow, you. If you aren't disciplined in terms of that budget allocation and knowing your numbers, if you're not watching shark tank and you know, what's it cost to acquire a client and how much it's worth, you don't really know. And when you do understand how capital can impact your, your lead flow, you're more willing to deploy it.
And to give you an example, our cost to acquire a client is going to sound ludicrous. It's going to sound ludicrous when I say it, it's 60, 000 plus. But knowing that number that now changes the channels that I choose if I can get a client for 30 grand That's half my average, you know, so you look at different channels you look at channels differently and also there's the intangibles.
There's the nonlinear side of things on referrals and brand and reviews that come into play. So to go down this, how do I get to 18 million? Well, I increased my capitalization on the channels that I know work. And I, I have additional sales reps. I cross sell into other services, and increase the lifetime client value.
And, and it's all those things kind of combined.
[00:31:35] Corey: I've always been of the mind that the more you can spend to acquire a customer, the stronger of a firm you have. And it's great from a competitive perspective in that if you have a firm, if you're competing against another agency that doesn't have that lifetime value that you do, they're, they're inherently unable to spend as much to acquire a customer.
And so therefore. You get to out market, outsell them, your competitors, in a meaningful way. In fact, that's a lot of the growth that we had at Scorpion was we knew that, on average, they would stay with us for, you know, three plus years. And as a result of that, we could spend more on the front end to acquire them.
[00:32:17] Chris: Absolutely. And by the way, three years plus, that's insane. That's way better than mine. speaks to, uh, Scorpion's 200 plus million, whatever they're at now.so let's do like a practical application here. Okay. So just, instead of just theory and these numbers and like, Oh yeah, watch our tank.
Okay. So once you understand these numbers, it changes your approach on certain common things in the industry. To put it in perspective, if you're in the agency space, chances are when you get a referral, you may pay 10 to 15% of that. Retainer for the year. It's pretty common in the space. But once I understood that it cost me 60, 000 to acquire a client, and my average deal size was 15, 000 a month, I pay 200% of the first month's retainer.
So I pay 30, 000 to my referral partners month one. Not month one through twelve or ten percent. You want to talk about a dopamine hit, and you want to talk about differentiating yourself, In terms of who will refer you business. It's just, it's unbelievable. And that's still half of what it normally costs me.
So it just changes the dynamics and you can apply that same tactical approach to any channel.
[00:33:28] Corey: I love that, end of the day, knowing your numbers gives you a lot of power and flexibility to, to do interesting things for sure. is it important for an agency that's focused, let's say, on the attorney market to hire people with a legal background?
[00:33:42] Chris: Ooh, good question. if I'm hiring AEs and sales reps, yes. maybe account managers, client facing people, client services, this psychographic profiles, the, the connection to demographics, absolutely will give you competitive advantage.
And there's no question that is beneficial. our writers, many of our writers or attorneys. I would say that there's this balance in terms of pricing, arbitrage and labor. Where a lot of times if they have a law degree, they're, they're going to want to hire salary. So that's, there's a balancing act there.
It's also, if you're, if we get super narrow on pricing arbitrage, it's why we don't hire in California and New York. We only hire in the Midwest because I can hire an SEO specialist at a, at a good salary in St. Louis that, that would be a very low. Salary in California. but yeah, to answer your question, absolutely has a benefit in terms of sales, client relationships, connection, trust.
[00:34:33] Corey: From a product perspective, have you considered or gone down the road of sort of productizing your services, having sort of pre built packages that attorneys can buy from, or are you more in the camp of doing 100% bespoke based on the needs of the client coming
[00:34:48] Chris: in?
Really good question. We've had a struggle with this. I've read, you know, Price and Creativity by Blair Innes. I've read Greg Alexander's book and, They talk about generally, and you see this in the legal space too. They talk about the two types of scaling. You can scale through a lot of volume and low in clients or low volume and high in clients.
And, and they kind of do that binary set up, right? And you see this in the legal space too, where you have pre settlement litigating or pre pre led attorneys versus the litigating. we are kind of a mix. At the lower end, it's, it's more productized. I mean, they just, a lot of these guys don't have the basics when you go upstream and you're dealing with some of these just juggernauts in the space.
A lot of times it ends up being more bespoke and, and we have to staff a little bit differently to kind of silo that away. so we do kind of a hybrid approach. I don't know how the future is going to hold, what the future is going to hold for us. We may end up having to really. Make a hard decision and choose.
but for right now, we're kind of the murky middle.
[00:35:50] Corey: And do all of your sales come through a, um, sort of a live sales conversation or is there anything where people can transact with your firm online directly?
[00:36:00] Chris: it's live cover. We don't have any foot in the door, trip wire, anything like that. We do a two call close.
We do a qualification call and then we do a. you know, we call it a commitment meeting next.
[00:36:13] Corey: That's beautiful. and just from a high level, how are you attracting new attorney clients today? What are all the different things that you do?
[00:36:20] Chris: I mean, we're, we're eating our own dog food for SEO.
I host a podcast that's, that's pretty powerful. We've been doing that for about three plus years. we have a team that goes to conferences. We. Do social media, invest in some agency directories, do a decent amount on Google ads, do social, I mean, we do it all, honestly, we now have an outbound team to early on.
We were getting a lot of our business from referrals and SEO, um, but now it's kind of dabbling in all these. Tell
[00:36:49] Corey: me about the podcast. What is the focus of the podcast and what does the growth look like over the years?
[00:36:54] Chris: Yeah, I host the Personal Injury Mastermind, and every Tuesday I have a non attorney, like a, like a vendor, or a someone in this space, we call it Toolkit Tuesdays, and every Thursday I interview an elite personal injury attorney, and just the top of the top, the big, you know, the Glenn Lerners, your Mike Morses, Matt Dolmans, people like that, And it's the first two years, we're getting like 100, 200 downloads, maybe an episode.
And I think now we're getting, geez, we've had 20, 000 download months. We've had, mean, we've had some big months. I think there's this shift that happens when you have an inventory, like a repository of episodes where there's selection, like even myself, I listen to a lot of podcasts, if I'm going to go listen to say Rogan and I.
The guest is just, I don't really care. Like, I don't know. It's maybe someone I'm not a comedian. I don't like, I'm like, okay, I'm skipping it. But Peter Attia or Naval gets on there. I'm like, I'm in. so I think that's really happened is once you, you kind of hit this moment where you have so many episodes where it just gives more options to your, your audience.
[00:38:03] Corey: Would you recommend an agency owner who is verticalizing or considering verticalizing to, to do a podcast? Is that still a viable sort of channel to invest in or too saturated? Or what are your, what are your initial thoughts?
[00:38:17] Chris: It's one of the best things I've ever done. It's insane. we talk about leverage and distribution.
I mean, I would just put this on. I joked with Michael Mogul from Crisp about this on his, it's like. People give me hell for not going to conferences. And I'm like, it's not worth my time. And they're like, what do you mean? I'm like, well, I'm going to shake hands. I'm going to meet 10 people, or I might speak on stage and a hundred people or 200 people listen.
Or I can set in my comfy podcast booth. And give a keynote presentation to my digital audience and have, you know, 000 listeners that are all PI attorneys. I, I have an immense amount of leverage and distribution on the podcast as it's compared to on the stage. Now there's some authority components that go into speaking from the stage, but, Podcasts is just exceptional. I mean, training, relationships, giving value, reciprocity, learning. It's a feedback loop. It's, it's just tremendous.
[00:39:11] Corey: That's awesome. I'm a big fan. Now you did say you do have a team that goes to conferences. How important are conferences to your agency?
[00:39:20] Chris: Okay. So the booth setups, typically the sponsorships are not commensurate with the value you're going to receive. The direct value, your booth could be anywhere from 15 to 60 to 70, 000. You're landlocked, so you're kind of a like everyone else. I'm not a fan of those generally. I am more of a fan of going there and hosting your own event at conferences.
So I'm not even a dinner guy. Like, take you out to Ruth, Chris, or whatever. Like the, like, they've all done that a million times. You're not gonna stand out. So like, for example, at NTL, National Trial Lawyers Summit, we've already got this plan for next year. We have 36 Ocean Drive, Prime Private booked, a whole hundred people.
We've got Mr. Trombone, which is a performer. We have security, we got four bartenders, we got a car that sets out in front of it. So I have a party at an event. And instead of being the, the, the beta where you're, you're like everyone else going to their party. You are now the, the authority and you host your own party, but it just happens to be at the same time when you know a lot of attorneys are going to be there.
So, I like having these little experiences outside of the conference, but at, at the same time. So they're going to be there, they're bored, they went to their, all the things they wanted to go to, and now I'm going to take them to this cool experience. I love that.
[00:40:49] Corey: That's super smart. I'm a big fan as well of taking advantage of the fact that they're physically there.
So... Yeah, build a relationship through doing a shared experience, you know, create real memories with these folks that will last beyond the conference. Absolutely. That's awesome. what role does social media play in your marketing? Like,
[00:41:08] Chris: it's kind of one of those hard to measure. I'm trying to think. The, the whole capturing demand, creating demand, it's, and these dark social conversations, it's an intangible, but I think it's a necessary component just because of how many individuals congregate on these different channels.
And at the end of the day, we're just trying to, Attract attention and, and where individuals congregate is an opportunity to, to advertise and be, be seen. if I looked in my, like a CRM or my lead tracking and said social media, there's not many, I'm telling you, but I know it's beneficial. And, and so, cause our audience is there.
[00:41:44] Corey: Is it mostly places like Facebook and LinkedIn, or are there sort of PI related watering holes that you guys also spend time in?
[00:41:51] Chris: Our, uh, our core avatar. is mainly on Facebook, at least for the PI avatar personal injury attorney, 45 to 55 white guy. That's on his second marriage. That's, you know, former athlete that, super competitive, you know, trial attorney, typically, I hate to stereotype, but you know, we are talking about an avatar here. they are on Facebook. the younger generation, you know, it's going to hit your Instagram, Tik TOK, um, which may not have the investment means, that some of the others are on there, but.
I, I, I'm a big Omni channel, uh, advertised everywhere.
[00:42:27] Corey: Now you recently published a book, niching up. Yeah. You can talk to us about that.
[00:42:31] Chris: Yeah. Nitching up the narrow, the market, the bigger, the prize, kind of my ups and downs and this whole journey of specialization and just the pros and cons of niching.
It's, it's. I didn't have, a lot of people ask me like, why I wrote the book and all these things like, I don't really have, I didn't really have like a, a strategy at the end, like, you know, there's not this value ladder of book, course, mastermind or event, it's just, I had these experiences, I had read other niching books and specialization books and I, I felt that I had some to add, and that's why I wrote it and I, I just kind of wanted to check that off the list of, of writing a book.
[00:43:08] Corey: awesome. It's a big, big congratulations on, on doing that. Um, not an easy feat I can say personally to do. was it written with a personal injury attorney in mind? Or was it more for a broad business audience? Like who did you have in mind when you were writing that book?
[00:43:26] Chris: A lot of the examples I used were personal injury attorneys.
but just, gosh, I, Iwas. It was a tactic without a strategy. I wrote the book. I just, I want to talk about the pros and cons.
I. I wanted to elevate my personal brand, my authority a little bit. And that's why I did it. And I, I tried to go deep because I think a lot of these other books, whether it's range or business of expertise or on and on and on, they, they don't talk about the pros and cons, like enough of them. And, and there's many more that's talked about than just TAM and the size of your market.
[00:43:57] Corey: That's awesome. And what's been the impact, since you've published the book?
[00:44:00] Chris: Yeah, I was a Wall Street Journal bestseller, US Today bestseller. I was second. Matthew Perry from Friends, when he launched his book, he got first and I got second. Bad timing. Bad timing. Terrible timing. The, uh. I think we're, I don't know, maybe like 8, 000 copies, but that first week I had a, I had a launch strategy.
That's a whole different conversation where we want, we sold like four or 5, 000 the first week. Oh, awesome. Yeah. That's really great. Yeah. the big thing that I, I just use other people's email lists. I had a strategy around that for distribution and that's, that's really what worked.
[00:44:34] Corey: Well, congrats on that book. I've actually personally read it. Highly recommend that the listening audience. check it out, especially if you're interested in becoming sort of smarter on the concept of niching down the pros and cons. He goes into great depth there. wrapping up here a little bit, what advice would you give to someone?
Maybe it's your earlier, you know, self 10 years ago or an agency owner today. Who maybe started at more as a generalist and is feeling some of the, the pains as relates to growth and retention, innovation. what would you say to them when, when they're considering taking a vertical approach to growing their agency?
What advice would you have for them?
[00:45:14] Chris: My, mine would be a bit different. I would say that most coaches and mentors will tell you to niche out of the gate, but I think it's a good thing that you, you have to have experiences to understand. That Venn diagram of purpose, passion, and profit, because you may have a passion in a certain area, but it doesn't make money.
Well, that's, that's a hobby. That's a nonprofit. It really needs to hit all three of that Venn diagram and to find your core purpose, passion, and profit. And that's, and you have to have these experiences first. So I would say, look for it, look in the data and just maybe get a little introspective because specialization definitely has benefits.
[00:45:55] Corey: Beautiful. Last question. What's your motivation?
[00:45:59] Chris: I get, I'm going to sound like Alex Hermosi, but I enjoy the game. I don't play video games. I think I love the game of business and I just, I like growing. I like the new challenges. So that's the motivation.
[00:46:10] Corey: Beautiful. Chris, thank you so much for coming on the show where, where's a good place for people to find you if they wanted to reach out from the, maybe follow up questions for you
[00:46:20] Chris: directly.
Yeah, I'm, I'm most active guys on LinkedIn. You can find me just searching Chris Dreyer. You can message me on there. And then if you want to check my book out on Amazon, it's niching up the narrower the market, the bigger the prize. Beautiful.
[00:46:33] Corey: And we'll also link to that in the show notes. Thank you so much for joining Chris.
This has been a great conversation.
[00:46:39] Chris: Thanks so much for having me, Corey.