[00:00:00] Corey: Today, I'm joined by Bobby Steinbeck. Welcome, Bobby. Hey, Corey. Good to be here.
Now, you're in New York City, is that right? Yeah, we're in Brooklyn. Okay. All right. So you're in the city there. That's awesome. Would you just for the listening audience, share a little bit about who you are and the work you do? Yeah,
[00:00:34] Bobby: of course.
I'm Bobby. I'm one of the founding partners at MeanPug Digital. We are a full service marketing agency for law firms. so my role here, all things technical. So that's everything from web design and development through custom software implementation, and then we do some custom Salesforce and CRM work as well.
[00:00:53] Corey: So, could you talk more about the full service aspect of MemePug? So what does that include?
[00:01:00] Bobby: Yeah, so, I should say all we do is legal. We're not full service cross industry. But, full service within legal, we're doing pretty much everything that you could ask for when it comes to marketing solutions. So, whether that's branding, or web design and development.
SEO, PPC, Legal Content Implementation, Custom Software, CRM, we do some strategic consulting, operations consulting, we even have our hands in the call center world a little bit. So we are extremely soup to nuts on, the legal side. Got it. So
[00:01:35] Corey: the, specialization is in legal, but it's across the board when it comes to sort of marketing and some operational aspects of running a
[00:01:41] Bobby: law firm.
[00:01:43] Corey: correct. of those, what do you, do you, do you feel like, you, well, let me ask from a differentiation perspective,how are you differentiating yourself in the market as it relates to, let's say, the other.
Couple hundred agencies who are in the, in the general space.
[00:01:59] Bobby: I think there's a number of points of differentiation. I would start at experience. So I started this agency with my founding partner three and a half years ago. Now, prior to launching the agency, he and I were in house at the largest personal injury law firm in the U S.
Hint, it rhymes with schlorgen and schlorgen. So we got to see a lot of what works, a lot of what doesn't. And, I don't think you can replace that experience. So we translated that to all the work we do now. Additionally, I would say most of the agencies in this space have one founder. And that one founder is typically specialized in one.
Service, right? He's either a technical guy or he's a sales guy or an SEO guy or whatever he is. we have three partners. We have myself and Andrew, who I just mentioned as the founding partners. And we have Mike, our third partner, who's a lawyer. So we have, a level of specialization across multiple service lines that the founder level is able to oversee and ensure quality of.
I think in these other agencies, they have to hire in. In order to ensure the quality of the services they don't fully understand because we have this, you know, broad, skill set at the highest level, at the top level of the company, I think the oversight is what it needs to be.
[00:03:18] Corey: Okay. I want to dive into that in just a minute, before we do, what could you share about this, the, the size of Mean Pug or a number of employees, revenue, clients, anything you're, comfortable with sharing?
[00:03:29] Bobby: Oh, interesting. I'm getting grilled. I think, so I'll start with the employees. So we are 18, full time employees. We kind of like augment that up to 23 or so, but I would characterize us as 18 full time. in terms of REV, we're a 7 figure agency.
so it's kind of weird for us because we have a number of service lines and folks who are with us in like a super minimal level. Like, let's say they've said I want you to go out and try and acquire, pick a Mastort, right? I want you to go acquire some number of leads on this Mastort with 5, 000.
Okay. That's like. client technically, but I don't know that I would consider them a core client, on the core client side. Yeah. More transactional. And that's not the model we'd like to work in. on like the core client side, I would say we're like around 30, 30 to 40.
[00:04:25] Corey: That's awesome. And is there a grouping within the legal industry, is there a grouping of practice areas?
Are you primarily personal injury or are you kind of across the board, family law, criminal defense? No, we're
[00:04:36] Bobby: across the board. I mean, obviously the easiest for us on the sales side is personal injury, because that's our background. the analogy we always give is, let's say you're starting a fast food restaurant and two guys who were like high up at McDonald's came to you and said, I know how to grow your business.
You'd probably trust them, right? To grow your business. So I, I think, we've got a really natural kind of onboarding there. But that said, what we do translates to all aspects of, of law and of legal marketing.
[00:05:06] Corey: That's awesome. And so you mentioned you have the three partners, two founding partners, and then Mike, who's an attorney.
What does Mike do for the agency? How is he involved?
[00:05:16] Bobby: He does two things. Uh, on the one hand, he's able to do, he's like able to get entry and, talk to folks in a way that we can't necessarily, right? So like bar events and there's other. Industry events that, you know, you need to be a lawyer to attend. So that's one.
Two is he actually heads a service for us that is super unique. I don't want to get super in the weeds on how it works because it's like, that could be a podcast itself, how this thing operates. But the TLDR of it is we're helping law firms grow their referral networks.
[00:05:54] Corey: Got it. So he's helping to kind of build and grow that.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. I'm correct. And then, what's Andrew's primary role there?
[00:06:06] Bobby: So Andrew does all things advertising, whether that's digital advertising or traditional media. he's, you know, he managed at Morgan something like a hundred million dollars in spend. And since then, I, I don't know what the count is at this point, probably 500 million in spend managed.
So really just like a crazy amount of, spend
[00:06:25] Corey: under management. Got it. Okay. That's great context. So it sounds like you have more of a technology background with the software and CRM operational aspects. Andrew's more of the ads and advertising and the spend and Mike is the attorney of the group who brings a lot of sort of inside knowledge as well as credibility to your crew and be able to kind of drive this referral program that you guys are building as
[00:06:47] Bobby: well.
Yeah, yeah, right on.
[00:06:50] Corey: Okay. how did you guys get started? Was it just, you and Andrew were over at the personal injury attorney firm and you were getting some success and like, how did that evolve from when you were working there to, launching Meat Pug?
[00:07:04] Bobby: Basically, we saw like, okay, Morgan Morgan is a great law firm, but they're an even better marketing firm, right?
They really, really understand marketing and growth. And with that, we got a lot of insight, but we also felt like there were a ton of things we wanted to try, and we wanted to try and improve, and the only way we felt like we could get there is by going outside and trying to apply some of these ideas in the wild.
So, that led us to start the agency. And I think it was like a great decision. I, you know, I'm so happy I made it, but it's, it has definitely shown to be true that law firms need all the help they can get on the marketing and branding and, and development side of things.
[00:07:54] Corey: quick follow up question.
What were some of the things that you and Andrew were in there thinking, gosh, we want to try these things, but we really can't in this environment. What were some of those things?
[00:08:03] Bobby: The easiest answer there is. Launching new brands, right? Like, even though they have a number of internal brands, like, you know, whistleblower, attorneys.
com or business. I feel like this is a Morgan plug. I hope that gets like royalties or business trial. It sounds like
[00:08:20] Corey: you helped to grow that. So that it's, it's relevant for sure. Yeah,
[00:08:23] Bobby: yeah, yeah, yeah. so they have a number of internal brands, but there's something different to working with a firm that's one or two partners or founders.
Just talking with them and understanding their practice and helping them launch a new firm from the ground up. There's something like special to that process. Yeah.
[00:08:44] Corey: So what is the, what's the story behind the, the name of the brand of your brand Mean Pug? Like how did, how did that come about? I love the name by the
[00:08:51] Bobby: way.
Well, I guess you probably have like half, half visual or video and half audio listeners probably. Yeah. I uh, No, I got a pug down here. She's actually at my feet. And I wish I had a better story for this, but I think the story like probably resonates with most people. We just wanted to not have to continue thinking about the name.
We were like day five of thinking about a company name. And it's like. Screw this. I want to like, start working and doing things. So it's, it's like, okay, we have a pug. That's part one. We like MailChimp. We like the branding around MailChimp. Let's just figure out an adjective to throw in front of pug. And we landed on meme.
So not that great of a story, unfortunately, but that's,
[00:09:38] Corey: that's where we were. I think that's good.
so you and Andrew at Morgan Morgan, you have this desire to step out and build your own thing, really worked one on one with, founding partners and, and helping them to build their brand. How did you step out? Like, what was that process of stepping out?
How did you land your first couple of clients? Could you share how that kind of came together for you?
[00:09:57] Bobby: Yeah, well, first client was easy because we stayed with Morgan. We, we continued working with him on a contract basis. So, that was a nice ramp that we had at the start. in terms of what worked after that, we've tried, I think we've tried.
Every conceivable way, I mean, a lot of people probably say this, but I think we've tried it pretty much every conceivable way to acquire clients. Now, the only thing that I've learned from that process is it's really hard, if not impossible to predict what's going to work. So the only, the only scalable way to Find an answer is to try everything.
in the very beginning, we relied solely on outbound, trying to run, like, mass outbound email. and I think you could probably predict how that worked. Not, not super great. then we tried to mix and match, right, going to events, but warming up those events with email and using it more as a warm up tool.
And that had some limited success. and then from there, we really realized... that the only way for us to create a strong inbound funnel was to talk in the space, to be vocal, to try and push the industry forward as a whole, and to do good work, right? Word of, nothing beats word of mouth. Nothing beats word of mouth referral.
[00:11:21] Corey: you say push the industry forward, what
[00:11:26] Bobby: do you mean? What It's not just when we're building. We're doing things that are pushing the envelope, right? Whether that's, I'm not going to say we're using AI to, you know, write pages of content because A, that won't work and, and B, I'd be lying. But what we are using is like AI to create unique experiences on our client sites, right?
So when I say push the envelope and move things forward, I mean we're trying things that take... Specialization to put together. Right. And I think a lot of that specialization doesn't exist in, in like wide quantity in broad quantities in the space right now.
[00:12:11] Corey: Yeah. What has, and so when did you, when did you start the firm?
2020. 2020. So you're relatively new. And so it sounds like from a go to market perspective, you've tried a lot of things but that talking in the space has been the, one of the most influential in helping you to get more clients, it sounds like at what point did Mike come on the scene?
[00:12:34] Bobby: I think like
[00:12:36] Corey: maybe the second month after we started. Okay. what was the story behind that? Was he over at? Uh, Morgan, Morgan, was
[00:12:45] Bobby: he someone else? Yeah. Yeah, no, he, so he was friends with Andrew from college and was just like, think in the U S he was like traveling overseas, doing some stuff for his work and ended up coming back to the U S and just like hanging out for a couple of days and seeing what we were up to.
And the rest is history, kind of thing. Yeah,
[00:13:09] Corey: yeah. So, kind of diving in, if you don't mind, just for a minute on sort of the things that you guys have done in the past and maybe worked, didn't work. It sounds like you've done a lot of things and you continue to do a lot of things. is there anything that, was a colossal waste of time?
probably in addition uh, sending,
[00:13:26] Bobby: mass emails? Yep, appointment setters. Appointment setters were a colossal waste of time. can't expect somebody to sell your business who doesn't understand your business.
[00:13:36] Corey: Okay, say more about that. Like what happened? unsuccessful in generating appointments?
Or the appointments that they set were just garbage, like flaky people? Or a little bit of both? A
[00:13:47] Bobby: combination. Combination of both. Yeah. you know. I think on like the outbound side of things. talking about our evolution in outbound and sales, we've kind of grow, ebbed and flowed, I would say, right?
Specifically speaking about outbound. we went from having no internal salespeople to having three internal salespeople to having one, to having two, and then we tried it like an appointment setter, right? So. Bad Appointment Setter, we were hoping like maybe this solution can kind of offload a lot of the problem about bounce sales because maybe this is just a volume problem.
Maybe the only issue we're facing is volume and sending more emails will result in more appointments. I would say like all of that was kind of like treading water. It wasn't the right way to think about the problem.
[00:14:40] Corey: What is the right way to think about the problem?
[00:14:43] Bobby: for us, the right way to think about the problem was to blow up the channels that were working, right?
So we had established Inbound as a channel. We should pump more thought leadership out. We should run more branded ads. We should put more emphasis on the brand as a whole. That was where we should have allocated time and effort. It's what we are, what we're allocating time and effort to now, but I think you know, we were In some ways, victim to that mentality that I shared earlier, which is let's try everything and find what works.
We wanted everything to work at the same time, right? We wanted inbound and this brand strategy to work as well at the same time as our outbound strategy. And I think, like, trying to divvy your time like that is a recipe for failure.
[00:15:29] Corey: So, in other words, lean into what's working instead of trying to diversify and be good at everything.
[00:15:35] Bobby: but, yes. Yes, but... Like it's, it's kind of, I'm envisioning as I'm saying this kind of like a ball expanding and contracting in, in the beginning, you don't know what's going to work. You should try everything right as you get a little bigger and you start understanding what is working, you should double down in those channels.
And, and that's where I see like the ball contracting, right? Double down in those channels. And then. Once you've blown up that channel and you need to figure out a way to generate more volume. Okay. It's time to expand again and try more. Right. Yeah. So that's, that's how I see that.
[00:16:13] Corey: There's like so many directions. I want to take this. Well, what did you, what
[00:16:15] Bobby: did you guys, so when you were doing this, you know, what did you guys try?
[00:16:20] Corey: So when I joined Scorpion as their chief marketing officer, it was. There was, it's pretty interesting actually, the company was already operating, it started in 2001, I joined in 2015, so it was a 14 year old business and a majority of the clients were in legal, personal injury attorneys and like literally because the company started so early, it was a lot of websites and a lot of SEO and they were sort of bringing in PPC when I was, when I had joined and so the sales team, it was like a, An eight person sales team who all drove really nice cars, paid very well and didn't work very hard.
And the reason why was because, was because there was a thousand Scorpion clients at the time. All of them had websites that were optimized for SEO and they worked really well. And the way that attorneys shopped, at least back then, was... They would go to Google, let's say they were a personal injury attorney, they'd go to Google and they'd type in personal injury attorney near me and they'd look at law firms that came up and inevitably it was a, you know, a Scorpion site or a couple of them.
They would click on our client's website, go to the bottom of the website and there'd be a link back to Scorpion, you know, and then we'd get, so the sales team would get these very warm, one call closed deals, right? That's super
[00:17:33] Bobby: interesting. Yeah. And how, how did you deal then with like exclusivity, right?
If the whole way that these folks found you is searching for a personal injury attorney near them. Yeah. How do you exclusive out
[00:17:45] Corey: there? Well, that wasn't a conversation we would introduce into the conversate, you know, into, into the, into the flow. But there were some attorneys that that was really important to others.
It was either not important or they didn't bring it up. And so we didn't force that issue in the cases where there was, you know, concern about conflict, especially in sort of the larger markets with the larger PI firms, typically we're very touchy about not in every case. and so, in situations where it made financial sense for us to do that, we would, you know, close out a market for one or maybe two clients or maybe have a list of, you know, excluded companies we won't say yes to type of thing.
but as an agency, especially at Scorpion, we were trying to scale from a volume of clients perspective, closing out an entire market for, you know, one personal injury attorney or law firm, didn't, in some cases didn't make a lot of financial sense, but at the time in sort of the life cycle of the business, we wanted to do it because we wanted to close that deal.
And by, closing that deal, it would help us to raise our own credibility in the marketplace because, hey, we're working with this big, So there's, there's always sort of trade offs,
[00:18:57] Bobby: right? Yeah. It sounds like though your key for growth was really your success on the servicing side, which is super interesting.
And I really don't think times are like that anymore. I don't think that in many ways, I think sales and service are like, inversely proportional, not proportional in the same direction.
[00:19:17] Corey: Say, say, say more about that.
[00:19:20] Bobby: I, I just think it's a question of focus, right? In, in many scenarios, you, especially as you climb the corporate ladder, you are, you have a set amount of like, time to focus on a given task.
Where do you put your focus? For servicing and sales, it's, it's an or question. Should I put my focus on how we are helping our existing clients, or on how we acquire new clients?
[00:19:46] Corey: I guess, but I mean, are you making the assumption that the sales team was also managing clients? No,
[00:19:52] Bobby: no, no, no, no, no. No, I'm, I'm saying you as like a leader, right?
Because obviously when you're in the teams, I don't think that the SEO manager is necessarily thinking about how to acquire more SEO clients. I think that's the job of sales,
[00:20:06] Corey: right? Yeah. And so the way that we built the company is that there were different, let's say departments. Sales was exclusively focused on new business.
Getting new logos and then there was basic client services, which was responsible for retention and upsell. So it's two different functions and two different... Yeah,
[00:20:22] Bobby: totally makes sense. What I mean is, I think at an organizational level, organizations can focus on SIP. The reason I say this is because I think many organizations, especially smaller ones, like our size, they are controlled from a single point.
They're controlled from like the CEO or the partner or whoever it is. That person at the end of the day makes decisions around resourcing. Should I hire another salesperson or should I hire another SEO manager? Sure. Should I spend half my day looking at the quality of my existing accounts or should I spend half my day?
Thinking about new ways to get more accounts.
[00:21:04] Corey: Sure, right. So in that zero sum situation where it is sort of resource constraint where you're having to decide between sales and service, I mean, all else being equal, spend time on service, right? Because retention, to me, lifetime value of a customer is the ultimate Trojan horse when it comes to having a competitive advantage in the market, and I'll quantify that.
So A lot of the firms that we competed with back in the day, which were like the fine laws and these, these are larger, template website companies. They, not them specifically, but in general, the, well, I'll speak about Scorpion. We had a client retention rate of somewhere between two and three years.
Right. And we were competing against firms that would lose, a law firm client in a year. And so effectively we had double or three times the amount of lifetime value than our competitors. And so what we were able to do is we were able to spend more to acquire a customer. 'cause we knew they would stay with us for three years than our competitor who was gonna lose that customer typically in a year.
And so that lifetime value is. Allows us to spend, have a greater marketing budget, but then you also have sort of the flywheel effect of word of mouth and, you know, word spreads, whether they're happy or they're not, word spreads, especially in a vertical, like, you know, personal injury.
[00:22:21] Bobby: right. 100%. It's a, it's a small, small niche.
[00:22:25] Corey: I'm curious, how do you differentiate when you're going to events or when you're talking in the space and let's say you're at Mass Torch Made Perfect, right, where there's, where there's like big booths and small booths and a bunch of agencies, everyone running around trying to get that, business.
And you're there too. And you're talking to an attorney, like, what would you say if I asked you, if I was that attorney, like, how are you different from all these other companies?
[00:23:46] Bobby: Yep. I mean, listen, at the end of the day, we're all doing a similar thing. Yeah. What I think we do differently is, first off. We have such deep experience and it's important to us as partners that we're involved in all accounts.
So, I always like to say we're like a Goldilocks owned agency. You get to an agency that's tiny, or yeah, an agency that's tiny. The issue is they might not have the processes to scale with you. They might get a new big client and now you're not top of mind. maybe a founder drops out or maybe they have rent hikes, whatever it is.
They're just not established enough, right? you get to a huge agency. Now you're just like. You know, at the whim of whether you have a good account team. You might have a great account team, and your account might be super successful, but it's just roll of the die, right? It's just roll of the die. for us, we're at that size where we have established processes, we have really high quality team members that the founders have personally vetted, and you're getting to work directly with founders.
So, that to me is kinda like... It's, it's almost like, ephemeral. This won't, this will go away too. We will get bigger. And at that point, maybe I have to think of a new, a new pitch, but for now, the biggest difference and like the big differentiator is we have this experience. And we're working directly in your account and we have the team to support the work that we do.
[00:25:15] Corey: I'm sure that the Morgan Morgan experience really adds a lot of credibility to you and the team there. Yeah. And I know how that works. So, that's awesome. You mentioned brand is an area of focus for you. What makes a great law firm brand?
[00:25:30] Bobby: Nah, no one size fits all answer. Memorable is an easy answer. But some firms don't even want to be memorable.
They want to be known as powerhouses or they want to be known as... Like, super professional, there are, it totally differs by the type of practice, by the founder personality, by the region that they're in. All of these things matter, I would say like the catch all answer is your brand as it's portrayed should reflect what you feel.
is important as a founder, right? It shouldn't have a conflicting message. So, I know that's not super helpful, but that's kind of Yeah, no,
[00:26:08] Corey: you need to have integrity. What makes a brand stand out? And what makes it memorable? Do you have a sense of that?
[00:26:15] Bobby: Mmm. I would say that's a huge part of what goes into the brand building process is like creatively sitting with, for us, it means creatively sitting between the copywriting team and the design team to figure out what's the messaging we want to put forward for this firm.
How does that translate to the visual identity for the firm? Right. And how can we marry all this together so that it's one cohesive image? Yeah.
[00:26:44] Corey: When it comes to going back into the sales team, I'm curious, you mentioned you had two salespeople, you had a salesperson, three, you had appointment setters. How many people do you employ for sales today?
[00:26:55] Bobby: But by the way, I just want to like, quickly tangent on that. We, this is how bad we were at like figuring out how to do outbound sales. We hired a sales director before we had any sales people. So we went straight to sales director. yeah, we, we just. We really didn't understand it, and to be honest, I don't know that anybody, I mean, maybe like sales professionals probably understand it, but I think it's a total spectrum and, I don't know that there's like a, a right answer to sales.
That said, we don't even, we don't have any full time, outbound sales people now. I mean, we have internal team members who are responsible for, cultivating our brand and for driving the inbound funnel like that. That is some something we've turned into full time positions, but on the outbound side, it's not a priority for us right now.
[00:27:46] Corey: Yeah. you have hired and you made a partner in a, lawyer, Let's say you were starting over, would that be a move you'd want to make again? Like, you know, is hiring a subject matter expert, someone with credibility, a background in that, in a vertical, let's say it's plumbing.
Would you hire, or some other vertical, not necessarily plumbing, but you know is that, is that, has that been strategically a good move for you? And would you recommend that other agency owners consider doing something
[00:28:10] Bobby: like that? It's definitely something to consider. Like without a doubt, it's a, it's a strong move.
So yeah, for plumbing, I, I don't know that it makes, I don't know that having a plumber on staff would create, I have a story, create a story for that actually.
[00:28:30] Corey: Yeah. What is it? So when I was at Scorpion, we were primarily legal and I was brought in to help to kind of scale up the business. Like we had this, as I mentioned, like the eight person sales team that were, you know, had a real good life with these inbounds.
and of course. That was the status quo. My job was to come in and kind of build on top of that. And so one of the things we did, in addition to building Outbound and a bunch of other stuff, one of the things we did was to go to the next vertical that made the most sense for Scorpion. At that time it was Home Services.
because a lot of people use Google to search for a plumber, especially when the toilet's overflowing. You know, it's like one of those type, type of searches like,DUI, you know, lawyer, same thing. Right. So, or even personal injury to some extent. So, we did the research on the market in any event we wanted to launch a second vertical.
in home services, which again, we're plumbers and HVAC technicians and so on and so forth. Well, we were kind of building that. We had allocated some sales resources. And yeah, at the same time, we had this guy, Travis Carter, T Rev, that's his nickname, he's on the sales team, legal side, he's a great guy, super personable, really caring, hardworking, but he was never quite like the top, top sales guy, he was never the top dog, he was always in the middle there, and we actually decided to move him over to home services to start to focus on that.
Well, it turns out he actually used to own a home services business. Hmm. So he knew what it was like to be able to like to be on a call with a, you know, an agency, and, and interviewing an agency and what it's like to run the business and so as a result of that background, it really allowed him to be much more productive on the sales side, close more deals, help us to scale it up and so on and so forth because he, he was an insider to that world and he could speak from sort of that shared experience.
Makes total sense. Yeah. And that helped us to,So we can scale up our home services business much faster than we would have otherwise, I think. Yeah, no,
[00:30:25] Bobby: it makes total sense to have somebody who can speak to the pain points of your target customer,
[00:30:30] Corey: target client. Totally, totally. so did you ever kind of get into the verticalization question here?
Did you guys ever take on non legal clients or was it always just like, Hey, we're sort of got our horse blinders on and we're going down this road.
[00:30:44] Bobby: Yeah, actually funny story there, we still have our oldest client, who is a CPA review software product. while I was still at Morgan, before I was MeanPug, before we were MeanPug, I helped him build out the initial, MVP of the product.
This was in like maybe 2017 or 2018. And, He stuck with us even after, like, starting the agency and doing all this other stuff. He is a Mean Pug client, so we have one client who is not legal specific. And it's our oldest client.
[00:31:22] Corey: That's awesome. Uh, and, you know, look, if, as long as you're helping them, they probably don't care that you're also working with attorneys.
[00:31:30] Bobby: Oh yeah, no, he definitely doesn't care about that. Yeah,
[00:31:32] Corey: exactly. so... You just based on your experience and you've been working inside of a law firm now with the agency, you know, what are, based on all the experience, what is your perspective on the positive aspects of verticalizing an agency?
[00:31:48] Bobby: really easy one for legal is, I don't think it's an option. I don't think you can be in a complex industry like legal or like medical without verticalization. Because there are so many unique processes and quality controls required to do a good job in this space. And if you're cross space, how are you gonna do it across all of the services, across all of the spaces?
Cause it's like a multiplicative problem, right? the problem is unique for every service you do. So, branding has its unique problems, web design has unique problems, web development has unique problems, and so on and so forth up your stack. And... And those problems are unique across every industry, so you've created a multiplying problem.
[00:32:31] Corey: To your personal injury is very different from family law, it's very different from criminal defense. Like each of these are their own little micro, you know, universes that, you know, they, If you ask them, like, you know, they feel like they're a different tribe, so. Maybe it's factorial. Yeah. So, what are the negative aspects?
Has there ever been a moment where you're like, gosh, I just wish we could work with some dentists, or was there ever, like, a challenge in that respect?
[00:32:57] Bobby: Yeah. For sure. When we first started, We were talking to, like, a plastic surgeon.
trying to figure out if this was something we wanted to do. And if we want that to become an agency servicing multiple industries, luckily we didn't get the client, so we didn't have to make the choice. But, um, I, it's hard to walk away from money, right? It's hard to like say no and, stick to your guns, but.
when you're small, maybe you can do it when you're mid sized and larger, I don't, or whatever, even not micro, I just think it's, you're sacrificing something by
[00:33:30] Corey: doing that. Yeah, I think it's interesting that you, you the good fortune, maybe, of not getting that client because a lot of the folks that I, I interview and speak with, For their own version of that is that they got a client like that and then they got another different client and then, and then fast forward a couple years and they realize that they can't do this anymore and they have to focus.
And so you got to skip that, that whole middle step and just get to straight to the focusing. Would you say
[00:33:53] Bobby: most firms that you talk to have expanded to other industries in their early stages and then consolidated down into a single vertical or is it kind of the opposite where they've just stuck from the very beginning to a vertical?
[00:34:07] Corey: I'd say on average, the common story is you have an ambitious founder who kind of gets started by working with anybody and everybody who will work with them. So kind of the local crew, friends, family, and that gets them going, that helps them to establish the business and start to make the first couple of hires, but then eventually what ends up happening.
As they're wanting to grow more and more, the business just comes naturally very complex. There's all this sort of, you know, it's not very streamlined, it's hard to scale operations, it's like everything is sort of custom and so everything's bespoke and every single client has a different problem that you have to learn again and all this stuff.
And so they realize the ones that made this transition that, hey, I, if I want to get to that next level of, of revenue and growth, I need to simplify and I need to streamline and, and that. Part of that decision was coming to like, okay, what vertical do we want to become truly an expert in?
[00:35:04] Bobby: And do you feel like you have a framework or like a magic bullet answer to when a company should expand outside of its vertical and open up a new vertical?
So just like a far, like a, like a number of employees, like at 50 employees you should be in multiple verticals or a revenue target. Yeah. Do you kinda have a guideline You
[00:35:22] Corey: know, it's an interesting question. I don't have anything sort of pre-built, but I think the thing that would help me as a c e o of a, let's say, a law firm, an agency focusing on law firms
number one is what does client retention look like? What's lifetime value? If there, if there is a, hole in the bottom of the boat, then that's the first place I'm going to focus. But if you got that dialed in, the other metric that I look at is what percentage of the total addressable market do we have today?
Cause if you get to. 3 percent of the market, 5 percent of the market. You could, at that point, do one of a couple of things. You could, number one, raise your prices and, work for fewer, effectively work for fewer, clients, but have better margins, like just have a smaller boutique style agency.
You could go to the next vertical because you've been able to prove enough momentum in this area. The way that, by the way, the way that you would, I recommend that you do that is not by. taking the current resources that are producing success in the first vertical and move them over to the second.
I would actually staff up a second vertical, right? You don't want to, you don't want to sort of kill the goose that's laying the golden egg type of thing.
[00:36:26] Bobby: But how, so how, so like on that point, let's say you open up another vertical and you want to staff it up. How do you pull over the processes that are working in your current org into the new verticals
[00:36:39] Corey: make up?
So. the way that we did it was we focused on sales first. So we would, we built a whole separate section of the website and we did some market research. Uh, I wouldn't say it was sort of, best practice at the time. We were kind of making it up as we went, but the, but the reality is, is we understood the problems enough because we had a couple of plumbing clients.
We had some of these other businesses along the way, so we had some idea of what, what their problems were. And so we would set up this other. aspect of the, of the website, some marketing materials and a big thing that we did at Scorpion that is not true for every company, but we were really big on outbound.
and so what we would do is we would just start sending gifts to, plumbers at, you know, in mass. We would send like cookies and these things so that we can get some sellers on the phone and start to get some reps and start to really figure out how do we sell to these people. So we were able to do that primarily because that first vertical, which was legal, happened and be.
In a really good sort of operational, it was very successful. We had, you know, dialed in, we had great client retention, as I mentioned, good profits, and so we can sort of funnel some of those resources into kind of this experimental phase where we're just figuring it out, started as again with sales and marketing, let's close a couple of deals and then let's build out the backend client success to follow.
[00:37:53] Bobby: And for a gifting strategy like that, where you were just sending gifts to plumbers, was that like cold where it would just be no email, no nothing. You're just getting a gift at your doorstep. Or was it like, if you jump on a call with me, I'll send you a Yeti cooler.
[00:38:07] Corey: Well, no. So, so we did it as a first touch cold outreach.
And the reason why we were able to do that was because we invested a lot of resources into building our list. So we didn't, I did, once upon a time, I did buy a list from, let's say, Dun Bradstreet a long time ago. And, you know, they would send over this Excel spreadsheet with 10, 000 rows of all these businesses that were like 98 percent of them were frankly garbage and not real.
and so we, we, we tried that, that didn't work. and the reason why we know we tried that is we would send a bunch of stuff and a bunch of it returned back to the office, which was not good, so. A massive waste of money and time. Yeah, perishables. Yeah, exactly. It was cookies, so. what we learned to improve that was we actually had to build a process where we were manually reviewing every single lead.
Before we sent the leads to the sales team and they would go through the leads and they would select a handful of them that we would send a gift to. And that became part of their sales process. Every quarter their list of leads, let's call them 250, would get cookies and then their job was to follow up on the cookies to try and get that
[00:39:10] Bobby: appointment.
So you guys were super process oriented on the outbound
[00:39:14] Corey: side. The entire company, I mean, we had at the, by the time I left, we had 14, 000 clients and you can't do that from a process, from a scalability perspective. You can't be, you know, super bespoke. In fact, we called it kind of like a factory assembly line, right?
And so, over the years what we learned through, you know, trial and error was that If you've built a Tesla, assembly line, you can't put a Ferrari in there. You can't put some other kind of, like, machine or ultimately a client in there. It doesn't fit, like, the personal injury, factory line.
And so we got really good at saying no to business that didn't fit what we built the machine, quote, I don't like the word machine, but like we, we built the process for, and that ultimately allowed us to. scale to that level while maintaining a high level of quality for, you know, experience and results for our clients.
[00:40:03] Bobby: Yeah. Like I could imagine folks not loving the term assembly line, but assembly line means quality.
[00:40:09] Corey: Consistently. Right. And like, yeah. And it wasn't just like we were making it up. Like we were always improving it based on the results of our clients and, and, and, and innovations that were happening in the marketplace.
And it was all built on best practices. And so, the benefit to the client was that they got the sort of, the access to all the best practices and the volume that we had and the learnings that we had at scale. and they were able to get results quickly because we just had, like, when they would sign a contract, it would do it virtually, that would set off a bunch of processes that would allow us to get them a website in a relatively short period of time, get their campaigns up, and so on and so forth.
So a lot of it was, sort
[00:40:46] Bobby: of, process driven. Needs to be. Needs to be. It's the same way for us too. I mean, we're not at the point where, and I don't, you know, I don't think we would ever be to the point where we are locking people into a platform. Like, to us it's important that folks own their website, own their content, and so on and so forth.
But, getting to the point where you have a really strong automated process, and I think that's important, automated process, Steps that need to go into creating high quality output is of the highest importance.
[00:41:21] Corey: Yeah, and that that is Yeah, that's especially if you want to get to large Revenue dollars if your average value per client is relatively small you have to just go with more of a process driven approach Yeah, yeah So, kind of stepping back a little bit, you've been doing this for three years and change now.
You're a seven figure agency, you've got 18 people, you're focused in the legal market, you're doing really great work for your clients. By the way, I love your designs and checked out some of your clients websites. Your website's awesome. So, I think that... you didn't mention it, but to me that, that seems like a differentiator and that you guys are really design focused, which I love.
what would you say to an agency owner, maybe who didn't take the verticalization route? They're maybe a year or two in, they've generalized, they're busy, they're doing a bunch of stuff and they're putting out the client fire of the hour and, and they're thinking about verticalizing. What advice would you have for them?
[00:42:22] Bobby: Honestly, I could go two ways, because on the one hand, you have something that works, right? It sounds like in this scenario, you have something that works, you're very busy, your problem isn't servicing, and I mean, specifically, if we're talking client fire, maybe the answer is account management and project management, So, on the one hand, you have something that works, right?
What I would tell them is Look at your pipeline, look at your sales pipeline. Is this something that's going to continue to work or are you just seasonally busy? If the answer is that this is transient, your pipeline's not deep, then it's time to take a look at your business and figure out, is this the way I want to scale or.
Do I have a pre built list of medical providers that I know are warm, that I want to reach out to, and I can think about transitioning my business strictly to medical, right? so I think it's, it's really about taking a look at your pipeline and your deal flow and figuring out, is this where I want to be?
[00:43:28] Corey: Beautiful. Last question for you, Bobby. What's your motivation?
[00:43:33] Bobby: Oh, God, you're gonna, you're gonna give me an aneurysm, Corey. Sorry. Uh, what's my motivation? Yeah. I, I think I'm, I'm probably, like, neurotic to a fault. It's really important to me that we do the best work possible for our clients. Like, I want our clients to kill it.
Like, I want them to own their market. And, Blow everybody else out of the water. And sometimes that gets me in trouble because it's not always realistic based on budget or in a number of other factors. But I think my motivation is just to be known as like the best, I'm biased. I want to be known as like the best branding and web development and web design, legal marketing provider in the space.
But, you know, I think as a whole. It's important to me and it's our motivation as a company and a translation of my motivation that we are the best at what we do in the
[00:44:35] Corey: space. Fantastic. That's awesome. Where can people reach out to connect with you if they wanted to ask you some, maybe some follow up questions or get connected with you guys as a brand?
[00:44:46] Bobby: Yeah. Either email bark at meanpug. com like woof woof bark at meanpug. com Check out our website meanpug. com. We got a bunch of good info there free resources and some good blog stuff Where else? Yeah, we're gonna be holding like events in the city and events around so stay connected and And just say hi
[00:45:07] Corey: when's your next when's your next event you guys got it scheduled No, we're going to
[00:45:11] Bobby: be out at MTMP.
So we'll have, yeah, we'll have some good stuff out there. That's some good stuff out there. If you're going to be there, definitely reach out. we'll hook you up, but awesome.
[00:45:20] Corey: It'll be fun. Yeah. Is that Vegas, right? Yeah,
[00:45:24] Bobby: it's outrageous. Every time it's so outrageous.
[00:45:29] Corey: Well, enjoy that. thank you so much for joining.
Appreciate it. It's been super interesting to hear your story and lots of, lots of great insights here, so thanks for coming on.