The Best Way to Spend Your Digital Marketing Dollars with Chris Dreyer

 

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The Best Way to Spend Your Digital Marketing Dollars with Chris Dreyer

If you're new to digital marketing, you may be wondering who to hire, how much money to invest in marketing, and how to avoid common mistakes. Fortunately, Chris Dreyer, CEO of Rankings, is here to help your firm make sense of all things marketing, digital, and SEO. 

Chris says that the first big mistake is failing to allot the right marketing budget. At a minimum, your firm should be funneling 20% to 30% of top-line revenue into your marketing efforts. Even if you're a boots-on-the-ground company, there are ways for you to compete in your market without spending all of your savings. 

To start out, your company needs a website and basic social media channels (at the very least). And if you aren't sure which channels to pursue further, Chris advises you to invest in the channels that are already delivering leads. You may have to experiment to figure out what works and what doesn't work, but when you find what's bringing in money, go all-in on it.

Outsourcing your digital marketing to another company can be a great benefit, especially if your firm doesn't have any in-house experts. However, there are some major mistakes you want to steer clear of.

If you're hiring an inexpensive agency that's charging you between $2,000 and $5,000 per retainer period, it may end up costing you more in the long run. Content and labor cost a lot of money, and if an agency is doing it for such a low price, they're likely buying cheap links to blast sites. 

Here's another big mistake to avoid: if an agency promises to get you on the first page of Google, they're likely employing black-hat tactics that could get you blacklisted or banned from Google. It's impossible to guarantee that you'll land on the first page of Google, especially for the key terms you want to rank. So, if an agency makes those promises, you should stay far away.

Learn more in this episode of the David vs. Goliath podcast with elite personal injury lawyers Matt Dolman and Stan Gipe and their guest, Chris Dreyer, an expert in digital marketing for law firms. They talk about the do's and don'ts of hiring a digital marketing agency, how to shape your marketing budget, and tips to ensure you don't get banned from Google. 

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In this episode: 

  • [00:37] Matt Dolman and Stan Gipe introduce their guest, Chris Dreyer
  • [01:06] What should you spend your Internet marketing dollars on?
  • [05:19] Why you need to have as big a digital footprint as possible
  • [08:29] Why you should stay away from companies that guarantee first-page Google placement
  • [13:15] Big mistakes firms often make in their SEO outsourcing

Transcript

Matt Dolman:

Welcome to another episode of the David Versus Goliath podcast for Dolman Law Group. I'm Matt Dolman. I'm here with my partner in crime and fellow managing partner at the law firm, Stan Gipe.

Stan Gipe:

Hello, everyone. And today we've got Mr. Chris Dreyer once again to go over all things internet and search engine related.

Matt Dolman:

So what are we going to discuss now? I know we just had Chris on for almost 45 minutes going over the lay of the land of search engine optimization and the current state of digital marketing. You had an interesting topic that you wanted to discuss, Stan.

Stan Gipe:

This is what I would think most people who are looking at this and aren't experts are thinking. Okay, so I'm ready to jump in the water. I've got, let's say, $100,000 I'm ready to commit towards internet marketing. How do I spend that money? What do I do? What are my options? It's like I don't know anything.

Chris Dreyer:

So for me, there's a lot of ways you can answer this. The first thing is I would say what's your acumen? Where are you already getting cases? If you're already getting cases from a channel, maximize that channel. If you're looking to spend $100,000 in SEO right now in the PI space, that's probably not enough for most major metros.

Stan Gipe:

Well, let me ask you this. What about my website? First thing, I guess, if I'm running an SEO campaign and I get people to a crappy website, I'm wasting my money, right?

Chris Dreyer:

Yeah, you should definitely have a website. The way I look at this is when we're talking a low dollar investment, it's like boots on the ground, right? You're grassroots, shaking hands, meeting people for breakfast, getting those referrals. What are the cases that they don't want? Give me those cases to build at least some. Get into the game, so to speak. And then I would love to ask this. What do you guys think a percentage of the top line should go to marketing? What should a PI firm be budgeting for advertising?

Matt Dolman:

At least 20%.

Stan Gipe:

I've heard people say treat it as a one-third partner, that your advertising should get one-third of the profits, and that if you treat your advertising as a one-third partner in your business, you'll do good. I don't know how that rule of thumb plays out, but that's what I've heard.

Chris Dreyer:

Yeah. I would say that is not being implemented by the mass majority of your peers, because I completely agree. 20 to 30% minimum of the top line.

Matt Dolman:

Yeah, Stan and I, we made it a 70, 80% partner in the last year and a half when we've grown this firm.

Stan Gipe:

And you know, that I'm going to tell you and Chris, this is a good topic to get into, because I've been on both sides of this. Okay? I've been the firm that doesn't have the massive website. Now I'm over here, partners of Matt, we've got a massive website and internet presence. And when you're out there and you've got limited resources to spend, you've got $100,000, okay, I want to spend this on internet. Who do you write the check to? What are your options?

Chris Dreyer:

That's a really tough question. And I would say a lot of times you want to go with someone that has the expertise, right? So you and Matt teaming up, amazing. Matt is a brilliant marketer. He's one of the best attorney marketers that I know. So you put your $100,000 and you tell Matt like, "Hey, where should we invest this?" And it's based upon the current state of your firm. Obviously there's table stakes things. You've got to have a great website. You need to have at least your base social media put up to start to create that brand.

Chris Dreyer:

But again, if you don't have a lot of money, I'd still look at the boots on the ground, table stakes, referral, whether you call it account executives where you have your attorneys meeting other attorneys in the area or, and I know it gets in a gray area of what we can and can't do, but referrals are going to be really good at the beginning. And then I just think investing into the channels that are already delivering leads. There's pay per click. You're just going to waste your money for 100,000 bucks.

Stan Gipe:

That's what I'm saying. If I don't know what I'm doing and I go, "I want to invest in internet advertising," I go out there. I would be, "Hey, let me google. What's the best way to spend 100,00 on internet advertising?" and see what came up. Okay? I'm sure probably 80% of that is stuff I would've wasted my money on had I invested in it. So what are they looking for? Are you looking for someone to help optimize your search engine capacity? Are you looking for someone when you've got that kind of budget, or are you looking become part of a bigger group? Like, "Hey, I'd like a smaller piece of a bigger entity," or is it better to strike out on your own? Does that make sense?

Matt Dolman:

Yeah. There's multiple questions at once, but yeah, it makes sense. I think your goal is to have as big a digital footprint as you possibly can. And there's numerous ways to have a digital footprint. It's not just your website. It's offsite tools, such as, I don't know, you could LinkedIn, Facebook, TikTok, Instagram. I mean, we can go on and on, but it's developing. It's getting a site that actually has a digital footprint that has visibility. It's all about visibility.

Chris Dreyer:

Yeah. Social can get you a lot of attention for relatively low cost, and there's a lot of sweat equity that goes into it and creating content. If you're trying to break into some of the old traditional mediums like TV or radio, I mean, that's like 100,000 bucks is like a monthly budget minimum in most markets. So I would say social media would be a great opportunity. I know you guys had Bob Simon along recently. He has the Justice HQ. So kind of what, Stan, you're talking about, how they'll pool together their resources and refer cases back and forth. I'm not sure exactly how that works, but I think it kind of-

Matt Dolman:

Bob is an innovator. Why that's brilliant is, one, Bob's one of the best trial attorneys in the country. So he has a pool of lawyers who will use Bob for trial work. But more importantly, you have all these lawyers that are able to work together in almost a cooperative space and share thoughts and feedback on how to tackle the insurance company on their cases. I mean, Bob has a guy named Gary Dordick and a couple other big trial lawyers there that they all work with some of the younger lawyers, and you're picking the brain of some of the best guys in the field that can help you.

Chris Dreyer:

Yeah. We talk about Mr. Morgan & Morgan a lot. He talks about bullets before bombs, right? So you pick a channel, you go in, and when you start to see it work, you're all in. You have to experiment and, look, learn by your failures and which digital agencies not to use, which strategies not to use, which channels not to use. And then eventually you find the ones that work and you're like, boom, you go all in. Local service ads today is really strong, right? SEO's really strong. But some of these, the barrier to entry to even do them is incredibly high. It's certainly over $100,000. But I would say sweat equity and social media would probably give your biggest bang for your buck for a low.

Matt Dolman:

And I think, Stan, to answer your question, too, you have to be very careful if you go all in with, especially digital marketing agencies. A lot of them are little more than snake oil salesman or charlatans, and they're doing the same cookie-cutter strategy for 30, 40 different law firms. A lot of times they'll also work at multiple law firms in the same market. So your own competition has the same exact guy developing their strategy as well.

Stan Gipe:

That's, that's one of the same. I'm glad you brought that up. I meant to ask that before was how does that work? If I know I get advertisements from digital marketing companies that say, "Hey, we've looked at your firm. We think we'd just be able to put you guaranteed first page placement." And then you look and it's on the service list for the email of two plus 65 others. Okay? And they're promising everyone first placement on Google. And here's the other thing. There's another 65 companies promising everyone first page on Google. And when you scroll-

Matt Dolman:

Right off the ball, I'll stop you there. If somebody's telling you they're going to get you on the first page on Google, not just walk, run. That's especially in the field of personal injury. It's almost impossible to guarantee that. You might get to the first page in a couple of terms, but to make the blanket statement, "We can guarantee we're going to get you there," well, what black hat tactics are they going to use to get you on the first page, which eventually will catch the eyes of Google and their algorithm and get you blacklisted and get you banned from Google or kicked off the site or put in Google's penalty box where they de-list you for a period of time. And Chris and I have seen that happen over and over again to different law firms throughout the country who got suckered in or hoodwinked into working with these snake oil salesmen who promised them the world. And they were able to deliver first page results by using black hat tactics that eventually caught Google's eyes. And Google will always catch you.

Stan Gipe:

I mean, I was wondering. My thing is, do they just get you and, Matt, you hit on this. Do they just get you on the first page for obscure terms that don't matter?

Matt Dolman:

That too, but they could get you in the first page for very important terms, but you're not going to stay there. The whole goal is to stay there. You might stay there for a couple weeks. Remember, I'm not sure to cut Chris off, but this is such a hyper competitive industry. There's so many digital marketing agencies that constantly, they spam the hell out of our Google listing every single day, our local listing. So they're watching you. They're watching the guys who are in the top. And if you're at the top, you're a target. And if you're doing things improperly, you're going to eventually get nailed.

Chris Dreyer:

Yeah. Look. So a lot of times personal injury attorneys, they think, "Hey, we're doing contingency work. Why don't we work with an SEO agency that does contingency work?" Well, the issue with that is that most of the SEO agencies that charge like that, they're going to do exactly what Matt said. They're going to do all these black hat tactics. And if you rank number one, cool, they win. But if not, they don't lose. But you lose, because now your site's tanked. You've got all these spam links. You've got all this spam content. Your brand's killed, and that's how those individuals operate.

Chris Dreyer:

The other thing that it's talked about a lot is that geographic exclusivity that you're talking about, Stan, and the competitors. That originated from TV and radio, because they own the distribution. The moment you go to the radio station, they have X amount of slots. TV, they have X amount of slots. So they can offer things like because they already own the distribution. Or Google. When you work with an SEO agency, we can manipulate search by creating content, creating links and all these things.

Chris Dreyer:

But the one thing that we can't manipulate is your office location. So that's why if your office is 10 miles away from a competitor, maybe even in the same city, when you go to Google, your search result, the results may be different based upon where you're physically located. So that's one of the challenges is giving away exclusivity from an SEO perspective. Although I do think that it's very wise to limit the number of firms that an agency can work with to two to three at most in a market. Or if they're right on top of each other, to one. But in most cases it's different than radio and TV.

Matt Dolman:

Now, Stan, for instance, we're statewide. So it's hard to say, "Chris, you can't have any other clients in the state of Florida." That's not realistic. But if he was representing maybe Morgan & Morgan or Farah & Farah or, I don't know, name another big Tampa firm that has a huge media presence, we might be a little bit worrisome about that idea because now we're going to have a very ... It's almost like a cookie cutter strategy. It's hard to compete. You're competing at your biggest competitors who are also represented by that same digital marketing agency.

Stan Gipe:

Okay. Now let me bring you up. You said black hat stuff. I'm going to tell you my own story. When I brought up the old decrepit Yellow Pages, right, and I don't know whether we were with Yellow Book or Yellow Pages. I don't know that there's a distinction between the two and I don't want to disparage one over the other, but whichever one we were using at the time became ineffective. And of course, hey, we call up the Yellow Pages to find out what we should do about the Yellow Pages becoming ineffective. And of course, we end up with Yellow Book managing our internet SEO, because now this is what they've gone into. Yellow Book or Yellow. I can't remember which one. So I don't want to slander one verse the other.

Stan Gipe:

But anyway, so we get in, we pay them. We get absolutely nothing for results. We get nothing out of it. We're spending 15,000 a month, and we decide, all right, we're done. We're canceling this contract, over. It's useless. Two months later, Google comes up and says, "Hey, your website's being removed from Google entirely." Not just said like, "If people go to Papa and Gipe, which was my old firm, we're not having it up. It's gone." Okay? Because they were doing stuff they weren't supposed to do. I had to pay someone good money to go in and figure out all the stuff that was done and had to be undone to do that. So talk a little. What is that? What's going on there?

Chris Dreyer:

So this is a big thing here for those listening. When you see these SEO agencies that charge your low retainers, and when I say low in the PI space, I'm saying these two to 5k retainers. When you see this, there's not enough investment for them to go out and do the actions they need to move the needle. Content costs a lot of money. Labor costs a lot of money, even if you're doing international arbitrage, right? And you can get overseas employees to lower this. So what they do is they'll get these really cheap links. They'll go get these fiber gig links, these other cheap links, and they just blast sites. And again, that's all they can do because they're afraid to say what it really costs to invest into the service.

Chris Dreyer:

And me and Matt have these conversations. It's like, look, our minimum investment right now is 15K a month. It's not because I want to hike it up. It's what I need to get the results. I can't charge two to $5,000 in the PI space. Yeah, maybe bankruptcy, maybe criminal defense, some of these, maybe a super small city, but in most of the major metros, you've got to have a big investment. So what they're doing is they're going to buy these cheap links, get terrible content written by AI, and then they're thrown at your website because who cares if they mess up? It's on you. So that's what happens.

Matt Dolman:

Yeah. I'll leave you with this. If they're from a foreign country, especially from India, Japan, or China, if they're promising you they're going to get you on the first page and they're charging under $10,000 per month, run. Do not hire those companies. Those are the companies that will absolutely screw you over and leave you high and dry and likely with a Google penalty.

Chris Dreyer:

There are good SEO agencies out there. It's just a lot of times people don't understand. It's the digital agencies that don't niche down into legal or PI specifically. They don't understand the competition. Of course, you guys know the competition. Hell, when you drive in Florida, the only billboards you see are by PI attorneys. Those are the only ones you see. When you turn on daytime television, the only ads are PI attorneys. SEO's no different. You have to do way more. It's just completely, it's a whole different ballgame. So that's why it's just these lower investments that used to work in the past, they used to, no longer work. It's not sufficient enough from a labor perspective to get the things done to move the needle.

Matt Dolman:

I'll leave off that as we finish this podcast now. You're hiring a digital marketing agency. Look for law firms as references and law firms that have been with that digital marketing agency for more than a year. That's enough track record to show if there's been results and they're able to stay in what we call search engine result placements in the SERPs and rank for a number of keywords for a long period of time, that duration will tell you that this is a company that's actually doing something proper. Otherwise, would've been nailed and hit by Google by that point. Google's algorithms are so intelligent and they keep getting better and better and better.

Chris Dreyer:

Yeah. There's nothing worse, Matt, than if we sign a client and we do all this great work and four months in they're like, "Peace."

Matt Dolman:

Oh, yeah. It's a marathon, not a sprint.

Chris Dreyer:

And three months later they start going up and they're like, "Oh, my new agency's so good. Look what they're doing." I'm like, "No, that was me. I did that."

Matt Dolman:

It takes a while.

Chris Dreyer:

Yeah. It does take a little while.

Matt Dolman:

Well, really appreciate having you out again, Chris. Fantastic guest as always.

Chris Dreyer:

Yeah. Such a fun conversation. I love these conversations about marketing.

Stan Gipe:

Yeah. I always learn a lot, and I am always the most ignorant one in the group, so I kind of feel like I dumb it down and hopefully everyone picks up a little bit from it. Because you guys help here.

Matt Dolman:

Stan always sells himself short. Stan's the brains of the operation. Digital marketing's not his area, because he's a trial lawyer. He's in court all the time.

Stan Gipe:

Turning on the computer is not my area. Okay?

Matt Dolman:

Well, it's been a pleasure.

Chris Dreyer:

No, I thought you asked great questions. Yeah, this has been awesome.

Matt Dolman:

Thanks, guys. Have a great day.

Stan Gipe:

Yep. Always fun.

Chris Dreyer:

Thank you.

💡 Meet Your Hosts 💡

Name Matthew A. Dolman, Esq.

Title: Partner at Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA

Specialty: Matt is a nationally recognized insurance and personal injury attorney and focuses much of his practice on the litigation of catastrophic injury and wrongful death cases throughout Florida. 

Connect: LinkedIn | Twitter | Instagram 

Name Stanley Gipe, Esq.

Title: Partner and Head of Litigation at Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA

Specialty: Stan is a Florida Board Certified Civil Trial Lawyer. This distinction connotes expertise in the discipline of trial practice. He has served as lead counsel on over 1,000 Florida personal injury lawsuits.

Name: Chris Dreyer

Title: Founder and CEO of Rankings.io

Specialty: Chris helps elite personal injury law firms dominate the first page of rankings through search engine optimization. He and his team at Rankings.io are personally involved in client campaigns all the way from strategy to execution. They've helped clients own top-ranked spots for keywords and focus on delivering big wins. 

Connect: LinkedIn

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The insights and views presented in “David vs. Goliath” are for general information purposes only and should not be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. The information presented is not a substitute for consulting with an attorney. Nor does tuning in to this podcast constitute an attorney-client relationship of any kind. Any case result information provided on any portion of this podcast should not be understood as a promise of any particular result in a future case. Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers: Big firm results, small firm personal attention.