When it comes to law firm marketing, what is “niching?” Guest Chris Dreyer founded and leads the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) marketing firm Rankings.io. In a thoughtful, in-depth interview, Dreyer shares how to make your law firm stand out in a crowded field when you stop trying to be everything to everyone.
Be memorable. Share what makes you special.
SEO is often portrayed as sorcery, but it’s not. It’s math, it’s work, and it’s attention to detail. Learn about the “Four C’s” of online marketing and what makes your firm stand out when a potential client types a need into a search engine: Content, Capital, Collaboration, and Code.
Dreyer explains what makes websites work, what makes content special, and how putting yourself out there as an expert in a specific area drives referrals and attracts attention.
A focus on SEO doesn’t work overnight. It’s a long-term play, but the benefits build on themselves and stock a client pipeline that can grow your firm as your reputation and visibility compound your efforts. Trying to “game the system” doesn’t work. There’s no substitution for sincerity, authenticity, and hard work.
Hear how you can get started and stay focused (and some common mistakes you can avoid) from an industry expert with a history of helping firms find new clients.
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Intro: Managing your law practice can be challenging. Marketing, time management, attracting clients, and all the things besides the cases that you need to do that aren’t billable.
Welcome to this edition of The Un-Billable Hour, the law practice advisory podcast. This is where you’ll get the information you need from expert guests and host, Christopher Anderson, here on Legal Talk Network.
Christopher T. Anderson: Welcome to The Un-Billable Hour. I am your host, Christopher Anderson, and today’s episode is about client acquisition.
I’m going to take a particular focus today in an area of marketing that in my experience, anyway, many people treat like a dark magic, but it isn’t. It’s math. It’s like algebra or calculus, except we’re not always given all of the variables. So it’s kind of hard to figure out the solution, and that’s where someone like my guest today comes in handy.
You’ll remember my audience, that in the main triangle of what it is that a law firm business must do, we got to do three things. We got to acquire new clients. We call that “Acquisition”. We got to produce the results that we promised to those clients. We call that “Production”. And then the third thing… I think if you’re really honest, the most important thing is that we have to achieve the business and professional results for the owners, and that’s you, my faithful listeners. In the center of that triangle is you, for better or worse, driving it all, the good, the bad, and the ugly. But so, in today’s episode, we’re going to talk about the beginnings of that thing, which is, again, client acquisition. Without that and none of the other stuff can happen.
And we’re going to discuss Search Engine Optimization or what we all call SEO. It’s this aspect of marketing that’s, quite honestly, often overlooked or misunderstood, but it’s foundational to building wealth, direct response, paid search, Google Ads, AdWords, and that kind of thing, that can generate money, but the minute you stop, it stops. And SEO is a longer term play that in the end has much bigger returns and to really grow your business, it’s a really key component, so hopefully we’ll learn a little bit about it today.
My guest today after that buildup is Chris Dreyer, and he is the CEO of Rankings.io. And we’re calling today’s episode “In The Niches”. Chris Dreyer, is the CEO and Founder, as I said, of Rankings.io. That is an SEO agency that helps law firms with Google’s organic search results. His company has the distinction of making Inc. 5000 six years in a row, and that’s the 5000 fastest growing businesses in the United States, six years in a row.
And just so the audience understands, Chris, I’ve been also in the Inc. 5000, and the inner row is really important because it’s hard, because if you’ve been the fastest growing, you’re starting from a higher base every time, and to do that six years in a row is really, really hard. The first year, quite honestly, isn’t that hard, because you could be really small and grow to not so teeny and make it, but six years in a row gets hard.
In addition to owning and operating rankings, Chris is also a bestselling author, both awarded by ‘The Wall Street Journal’ and by ‘USA TODAY’ with his book ‘Niching Up’, and that niching up, the narrower the market, the bigger the prize. And his legal marketing journey has been quite a long one. I love this. A world ranked collectible card game player, and I didn’t know there were world rankings of collectible card games, but there you are.
And then he started his grown up career with a History Education degree and landed a job out of college as an elite, unbelievably qualified, detention room supervisor. The surplus of free time in that job allowed him to develop a side hustle with affiliate marketing, and at some point, he was managing over 100 affiliate sites. And then when that came to an end, he segued. And that’s what my first question is going to be into SEO, because you’re like, oh, and then I segued into SEO. Like, that makes sense. You need to help us make it make sense. And he’s also a top ranked online poker player, which makes me very nervous. But so with that introduction, Chris, welcome to the show.
Chris Dreyer: Christopher, thank you for having me on the show.
Christopher T. Anderson: Not at all. So let’s do that. So how do you go from an affiliate marketer with a 100 affiliate sites and segue into SEO for attorneys in particular? How did that happen?
Chris Dreyer: Yeah, really good question. I, as you can imagine, had a lot of downtime in that detention room, and I took my first affiliate marketing course. It was Ed Dale’s course on how to make your first $10 with affiliate marketing. And back in the day, there wasn’t the abundance of SEO and digital marketing courses that there are today. It was basically, know the guy, talk to the guy or go to some forum. But I took that course, and by the end of my second year, I was doing quite well. I was making about four times the amount that I was teaching.
And it also gave me the knowledge to pursue it as a career. I knew the lingo. I knew where to advance my education. So I started off with affiliate marketing. My first website was loseadoublechin.com, and I ranked number one for double chin for about five years.
Christopher T. Anderson: Wow.
Chris Dreyer: And did quite well with that. I had a ‘How to Stain Concrete Floors’ site that did well, and then just a mix of other random sites. It was all over the place. In about 2011, that Penguin algorithm hit, that big Google algorithm hit, and it took my income down from about 16,000 down to two. And back then, I wasn’t the saver or the investor of money that I am today. I was spending it. I had nice car, and it was just not saving money. And so I had to get a job. I went to Craigslist, got a job at an agency, saw the agency life, and then after about a year, decided it was time.
Christopher T. Anderson: And you weren’t enamored and said, “This is the life for me for the rest of the duration?”
Chris Dreyer: Yeah. It’s a funny story. Actually at Craigslist, I applied to so many jobs that I hit their filter, and I actually got three offers and most people would say, “You know, which one did you take?” Well, I took all three because I had an affiliate team, and it was remote work, and I was the best employee at all three places because one person couldn’t do the production that I could with my team. That’s kind of how I got to go. I got to see three agencies, what they were doing right, what they were doing wrong, what I would change, and I really got to see that inner workings of the agency life.
Christopher T. Anderson: So that kind of explains how you got to SEO, but why attorneys?
Chris Dreyer: Really good question. At one of the agencies, I worked with a lot of attorneys, and I got along with them well, but I’m highly, highly competitive. As we talked about poker, collectible card games, sports, everything, I’ve kind of pursued, I’ve wanted that competition, and there’s a lot of competition and legal, and because of that, it demands expertise. You can’t just go into any market, and with a novice skill set rank in a competitive market, you have to be very disciplined. You have to have that skill set. And it kind of drew me to the legal space.
Christopher T. Anderson: Okay. Yeah, because it’s not of all the markets in the world, it’s not the biggest, but there are some big spenders in it, but yeah, that’s interesting. So that kind of explains where we are. So let’s get into it. First of all, just say in legal SEO, what are the keys to success? There’s so many people who dabble or who try to figure it out for themselves. So let’s help our listeners. What are the keys to success for SEO in legal?
Chris Dreyer: I’ll do this and I’ll kind of fire hose it.
Christopher T. Anderson: Sure.
Chris Dreyer: And there are hundreds of ranking factors, but it really comes down to three core components. The first one would be content. You have to have exceptional content. You’ve heard and many individuals have heard Content is King, in the legal space quality content is table stakes. That is step one. You have to have it. It’s essential. That just gives you the opportunity to rank for those keywords or queries.
The second component would be an excellent website that’s easy to navigate, that loads quickly, that a consumer can use and find the information they’re looking for. It answers their intent. And then the third component, and it hasn’t changed, is links. Links are still a core metric that Google’s using as one of those core pillars. I like to use the analogy. If you’re trying to win an election, you want to get as many votes as possible. If you’re trying to win or earn that first spot on Google, you want to get as many high quality links as possible.
Think of it as like a Venn diagram of the three circles that overlay. If one of those is missing, you’re in trouble. You really have to have all three. You could have great links, but if your content is not good enough, you’re not going to rank. You could have excellent content, but this isn’t Kevin Costner from ‘Field of Dreams’. If you build it, they will come. You have to get links. You have to promote your content. So that’s the name of the game. We can go super-granular in each of those and that’s notwithstanding, also local of maps, which is very important and that’s a whole different topic of itself, but yeah, those three content, a great website and links.
Christopher T. Anderson: So if you don’t mind, let’s just stick there for a second because there’s someone out there who’s addressing each of those in, let’s say non-authentic ways, right? Content. You said Craigslist before, but you go onto Fiverr or Upwork or whatever and say, I need someone to generate me a whole bunch of content that’s more or less relevant. I don’t care about the quality, let me just get a bunch of content and I’ll skip over excellent website because that’s a whole another animal. And then links, like there’s a bunch of companies out there, like you could say, I’d be pleased, I want to buy 1000 backlinks, and I know this because they call me all the time, both those things, right?
They made provision so they can’t reach me anymore, but like that’s one of the — if you’re a lawyer you’re getting these calls. So can you just speak to like those who would like to game this system that you just outlined using those two strategies?
Chris Dreyer: Gaming in the system might work in the short term, but it’s going to catch up to you, and yeah, there’s always exceptions to the rule, right? You look at someone like Ben Crump, for example, he’s in the news every single week. He doesn’t have to link build because the media is doing it for him. So there is exceptions to every rule, right? But when you look at content, content in the “Your Money, Your Life” the YMYL space is scrutinized differently than other spaces because of how critical it is to get right. So that space is finance, medical and legal. And I use this example from a medical perspective. We’ve all been sick from time to time and you Google your symptoms. That’s what we all do.
Christopher T. Anderson: And it’s always a tumor, always.
Chris Dreyer: Right, it’s always a tumor or something. You don’t want to see an article from 2016. You want to see 2023 and it’s the same for legal. So I would say, look it’s a necessity to write good content and make sure you’re showcasing your expertise, but it’s also a necessity to refresh and enhance your content frequently. That’s content freshness is something that most individuals don’t do because a lot of agencies will outsource the content, outsourcing content you get into assembly that line type of scenario where they’re just cranking out content. It’s a whole different ball game when you have to refresh an existing piece of content. It’s more challenging, but that’s really on the content side as showcasing your expertise and refreshing it to make it current.
On the link building perspective, the biggest thing is the nomenclature is changed across the years. First, it was guest posting, then it was blogger outreach, then it was editorial outreach, then it was digital PR. It’s all the same thing. It makes me think of, what’s the dirt movie? ‘Don’t Church It Up’ Dirt, right? It’s all the same thing. What it is, is you have to have great content on external websites because if your content on an external website, is not favored by Google, and Google doesn’t crawl it, it doesn’t care about it to index. It’s not going to pass authority back to your website. So that’s why digital PRs became important because a lot of these media sites have better curation processes, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t guest post on a very relevant legal site that can contribute value to that consumer.
So it comes down to quality. It is back in the day when you create an article on a long tail phrase. Google may not have had it in its index, and just by the nature creating it you might have ranked, but now although most of the evergreen stuff is already there, so you have to create what’s better and it’s the same on the link side.
Christopher T. Anderson: While we’re talking about that particularly about content, you mentioned things need to be 2023. Well, one of the 2023 buzzwords is AI and the ability to create more content faster by using one of these iterative language model tools like ChatCPT and others. How does that play? Is that an effective means to generate more content faster?
Chris Dreyer: Yes and no, right? So again, it depends. I asked our internal team like, “Hey, are we farming without tractors”, right? “Are we row-cropping this content by hand” because I think of it as a tool. So when it comes to things like an outline or different headlines, and helping with the research, fantastic, it absolutely enhances your labor-based leverage your productivity and can absolutely increase your speed, but is it a standalone? Despite all of the AI tools whether it’s Jasper or Surfer SEO, it’s not there, it’s not good enough. It has to have human oversight, but it will definitely enhance the productivity of an individual by using it as a tool.
Christopher T. Anderson: Is it true that Google and others are also detecting it and not giving it the same juice as human-generated content?
Chris Dreyer: It’s interesting that you asked that. Recently within the last two weeks, Google updated their Google helpful content guidelines and they actually removed the AI aspect. So now Google really doesn’t care who wrote it, so to speak, they just want the best, but they did remove that line in their content guidelines.
Christopher T. Anderson: Interesting, that is fascinating. All right, well, we are talking with Chris Dreyer. He is the CEO of Rankings.io. We’ve been talking a little bit about just sort of the entry point of SEO, just kind of what gets it going and why it’s important. So we’re going to take a break here because we have —
— some sponsors, and their messages are important too, but when we come back we’re going to be asking Chris about how to get results because doing SEO is fun, but we all have a reason. And so, we’re going to ask him about capital and how to get results right after this word from our sponsors.
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Christopher T. Anderson: Welcome back. We are speaking with Chris Dreyer. He is the CEO of Rankings.io. So now I want to get a little bit deeper into how to get results. And so the first question I had is, we talked about AI and content and that kind of thing, let’s talk about spend. How does capital, how does the ability to put some spend against this SEO matter? Like how should people be thinking about because with AdWords it’s pretty simple, I spend more I get more visibility, I spend more I get more clicks, and I spend more and I drive a price that clicks up, but whatever like how does that translate into SEO, what does Spend mean? What does Capital mean in the terms of SEO?
Chris Dreyer: Really good question and we can go the advanced route or just like the common, so the advanced —
Christopher T. Anderson: This is an advanced audience, man.
Chris Dreyer: Right.
Christopher T. Anderson: They are going to go all the way.
Chris Dreyer: Right. So even looking at Google Ads, so yes, you can spend more, you get more clicks and things like that, but when you look at economy as a scale and you bid at a larger radius and you hit more geography, you can actually get lower costs too. So there’s some play into that, but when it comes to SEO and capital there’s really two main ways to deploy it, and I guess technically it’s one way, it’s content, it’s content on the website and it’s content off the website. Link building, when you think of it, is almost predominantly content, externally, whether you’re quoting, you’re doing harrow, help a reporter out and you’re quoting the media or you’re setting up your directories or you’re doing guest posting, digital PR, all those things, it’s just creating exceptional content externally. Those are the two methods of deploying it.
What I see is a lot of times first on the content that goes on your website most individuals just don’t give themselves enough opportunity to capture the wide enough net. They’re not creating enough topics. They may just create the car acts. If you’re a PI attorney, just a car accident lawyer page and the truck accident lawyer page and they’re not doing those subsets of, maybe Uber or Lyft, or Rideshare or the different types of semi-trucks and you just need more opportunities and you don’t know what Google is really going to find intriguing or really give you favor and the search results. So that’s one of the first areas.
The second area on the site would be refreshing your existing content. There is already content that performs and just because it’s been written in the past doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t refresh it. You need to enhance it to make sure it doesn’t get stale and kind of rot, so to speak. Those are a couple of the main areas on the content side. So that could be additional riders. It could be investing more with your agency and they’re producing more content or riders in-house. It could be you yourself creating content because you have your own unique expertise and experiences around subject matter, and then there’s the off-site.
When I audit client websites, the biggest thing I see is a deficit in links. It’s there are those clients that are doing PR and media and are actively trying to obtain links and individuals have been around for many, many years that aren’t, and typically that’s the gap. They just need more prominence from a link building’s perspective, which means, creating unique piece of content. Maybe you take the Department of Transportation that’s always three to five years behind and you aggregate that data and you create the data. Maybe you have a unique perspective on a trial or something that’s different.
By the nature of being different, you automatically stand out and that’s what you need to focus on when it comes to capital is really on the content side both on your website and externally.
Christopher T. Anderson: So let’s say you produce something different. You talk about a trial or you aggregate some data and have a fresh look at it. Does it important then that you have other outlets pick that up and link back to it, or is that the way to do it?
Chris Dreyer: Yeah, that’s one of the best tactics is the outreach. It is the promotion of the content. So that’s where I was kind of joking about Kevin Costner from Field of Dreams, the old school movie. You write this exceptional piece of content. Maybe it’s a survey, unique perspective. You need to tell people. Well, how do you tell people you can do it through social media. You can contact the media directly. You can contact your peers. You can put ads behind it. All of these things can contribute to you obtaining links naturally.
Christopher T. Anderson: Yeah, absolutely. And you mentioned Hara which is also another good way to help a reporter. Yeah.
Chris Dreyer: Absolutely.
Christopher T. Anderson: Yeah. Okay. So listening to what we’re talking about so far, one might get the impression that, wow, so in order to do really well with SEO, all I need to do is generate through AI, through some people on Fiverr or Upwork or whatever, just start pumping some content and getting it delivered and trying to get it backlink towards me and I can have amazing results in a week. Let’s talk about that like how fast can you juice your SEO to be really effective?
Chris Dreyer: Really good question. It’s not talked about enough. Google’s index in 2016 was like 6 trillion web pages. That’s 2016, guys. Today it’s an astronomical number and the cost equated to crawling and indexing the web are substantial. Even recently, Google had talked about purging old content. Well, why? Well, it helps Google crawl the web more easily. And the nature of the crawling and indexing is it’s not quick. It may take weeks to months to pick up your content. If you have more authority and more links, it could speed up that process. If you’re very favorable, you’re attracting a lot of you are earning a lot of links. But that’s why and look, I realize this. I’m the SEO guy and I’m sure everybody that’s talked to an SEO guy. So it’s going to take six months and it really depends. It depends on back to the very beginning of that Venn diagram. Well, maybe you have a great content and great links but maybe the site wasn’t set up right. So maybe you fix the site and it starts ranking in a couple of months. It just really depends. Maybe you create this exceptional content but you have such a gap in links. It might take over a year. That’s just the reality of your market.
Christopher T. Anderson: But the yardstick you’re using here has the unit of months.
Chris Dreyer: Months, typically months. It’s also and I say that Venn diagram. And there’s also that fourth component. Even if the SEO specialist that you hire or yourself or whoever does everything right on that Venn diagram, then there’s the maps component. If you don’t have enough reviews or your review rating is poor even with the great organic SEO, you’re not going to show up in a very favorable position which is very high up on the virtual real estate on the index, on Google Search.
Christopher T. Anderson: Okay, so you said maps, and so I want to make sure to draw the connection. You said maps and then you started talking about reviews. What do you mean by maps and how does that relate to reviews?
Chris Dreyer: Yeah, when you look at the Google Search results at the very top will be Google screened or local services ads. Next will be Google Ads. The third position will be maps. It’ll be the Google Maps that display reviews and then there’s organic. Well, the ranking factors to rank in maps is different than organic. In maps, it goes by relevance, distance, and prominence. So relevance is keyword usage. It is what people are saying about you and your reviews. The second one is distance. I like to say this look, if I go on vacation and I type best restaurants near me and I don’t expect to see them 30 miles away, I expect to see them near me. So it’s your proximity factors and then prominence and how Google determines prominence is articles, directories and then review, count and score. It’s right on the Google support forums guidelines.
So then that’s where if we’re talking about attorneys, that’s where individuals and the type of business you have can impact that. And so, for example, if you’re a pre-lit attorney that’s a volume-based advertiser, you’re going to have a ton of clients and a ton of review opportunities. Versus if you’re a litigating attorney that maybe has an expertise around one particular area and doesn’t want volume, you may not have as many review opportunities. So that’s the reality of advertising as an attorney. Even if you’re doing everything right, your business model matters too.
Christopher T. Anderson: Yes. And you said with the reviews it was quantity and score.
Chris Dreyer: Yes.
Christopher T. Anderson: I know a lot of it. People sweat about this that are paying attention to it. How bad does a one-star review hurt a firm and how many five stars do you need to overcome it?
Chris Dreyer: Yeah. And look, you want as close to 5.0 as you can get and I think your profile does look more natural. If you have an occasional one-star, if you do a nice response, look, we’re not perfect, we’re not perfect for everyone. And when you choose a position and expertise, you’re right for many people but you’re wrong for others. So that’s just the nature of it. I would say, though, that there are queries that everyone wants to rank for. They want to rank for the superlatives. Those superlatives being best or top attorney. Typically, those are better cases and they have more intent behind them for hiring intent. So if someone types in Best Car Accident lawyer and you’ve got a one-star rating, you’re just not going to show up. Just like if you went to Google a restaurant, you wouldn’t expect to see one star when you type that in. So that is one of the issues with the review rating.
Christopher T. Anderson: Okay, we’re going to take another break here. When we come back, Chris, I want to ask you about your Four C’s that you talk about of leverage in growing a law firm. And then we’ll talk a little bit more about standing out and how really to kind of bring this all to reality. And because your book that we mentioned at the first is important, I think you’ve written about some important stuff. His book is ‘Niching Up’. The narrower the market, the bigger the prize. I definitely want to hit on what you mean by that before we close the show. And of course, at the end, if people are interested in talking to you, we’ll give them a way to do that. But let’s hear from our sponsors and then come back in and cover those topics in just a little bit.
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Christopher T. Anderson: All right. We’re back with Chris Dreyer. He’s the CEO of rankings.io. and we are talking SEO. So we’ve been talking a little bit about how to get started. We’ve been talking about how long it takes and what some of the strategies are and how they work. So I wanted to turn our attention a little bit to law firm growth and standing out because I think these all play into the SEO as well. But so one of the things you talk about is the four C’s of leverage in growing a law firm. So could you tell the audience, first of all, what are these four C’s and why are they important?
Chris Dreyer: Yeah. This comes from Naval Ravikant. He has a book called, ‘How to Get Rich’ or ‘How to Get Wealthy’, one of the two. We’ll link it up in the show notes, hopefully. The four C’s are capital, collaboration, content and code. So I’ll take each of these. The first one would be capital. And so how is this used for leverage? Well, what we talked about earlier? If you can bid, if you have enough capital to bid a larger radius instead of just your radius and a Google Ads perspective around your headquarters, then you go to the county or the state or the nation, you can get cost cases for less. The same goes to, for example, in buying power. If you’re buying hundreds of billboards or more TV spots, you’re going to get more for your dollar. So a lot of that you can even go a direction on from a capital perspective and buying EBITDA. Now M&A isn’t as common in the legal space as many other spaces but it is a very effective means of growth for utilizing capital. So that would be really the first one.
Collaboration would be typically we think of that as labor. And when you think of labor-based leverage, I think of it like this. So there’s a lot of components to it. The first could be comes down to pricing arbitrage. So if I’m an attorney and I’m looking to hire an individual, an individual in the mid-west is typically going to be less costly than on the west or the east so there’s pricing arbitrage right here in the United States. But if you go a step further and you go internationally, you can get some advantages there in terms of the cost, right? I know it’s a little taboo to talk about but that’s the reality, right?
And we are talking about leverage here. Then there are components of control as it relates to collaboration. So you can choose to hire a full-time employee where that full-time employee you have high control, you can get them to do whatever you want or whatever they accept the job form, but it’s a lot of effort, right? You have to train them. You have to have a great culture and all these things. There are freelancers or subcontractors and that’s kind of that medium control because someone else could take their time, their utilization, but typically they know the craft. So they’re not as behind in terms of training perspective. You don’t hire a freelancer that doesn’t know how to do the craft.
Christopher T. Anderson: Yeah, yeah.
Chris Dreyer: And then there are strategic partners and that’s — you can hire an agency or you can outsource and that’s low control because you’re not going to tell them how to make the widget. You hired them because they know how to make the widget, but it’s low maintenance. You hired them because they’ve proven that they can do that. That’s really hitting the collaboration perspective and labor-based leverage. I’ll speed up on the next couple —
Christopher T. Anderson: Yeah, no, no, that was good though. It’s important.
Chris Dreyer: Okay, great. On the code, that’s more tech and software.
Christopher T. Anderson: Yeah.
Chris Dreyer: So that’s where AI comes into play. When we think of AI, AI has existed for a long time and it’s been the logic-based AI. So the if/then statement. A lot of times you see this in live chat, on law firm sites where are you injured, where are you with someone and it kind of logic trees out. But then there’s the generative, which is all the rage right now. But there’s also CRMs and all types of tools and text that can enhance your leverage and that’s just something we constantly got to be aware of. Then the fourth component is content and the biggest thing from a leverage perspective is on distribution. I think the best example that we can use is the one we’re using right now. My team gives me a lot of flak for this. They’re like, “Chris, why don’t you go to conferences and why don’t you do this?” And unless I’m speaking on stage, it’s not a great use of leverage because it’s all one-to-one relationships and handshake and belly to belly. Now there’s upstream, there’s a trust factors that you really gain those intangibles. Even speaking on stage, I might speak in a breakout session or in front of a room of 200, 300 people. While on this podcast, I don’t know how many downloads you get per month, but I imagine the distribution right from our offices or at home is substantially higher. So that’s where code comes into play. You can also buy — there’s a lot of different manners of owning email lists, having emails that you can distribute out to more people and that’s were taking care of your clients and following up for a referral perspective can play. But really, I think of the biggest use of leverage right now is a podcast.
Christopher T. Anderson: Yeah. Well, not only do we have thousands and thousands of people that do download it, but this is my audience, and they’re the best. They are the best people to be in front of, because I say that only a little tongue in cheek, because quite honestly, they tune into this show about growing a law firm every month, and like they’re the people who are interested in doing it. So yeah, you’re reaching them. Like you said, you’re reaching a great audience all at once from the comfort of your place. So that’s a great example, I think, of leverage. Okay, so we can get out in front of these folks and you know, buy through the capital a bunch of views, a bunch of impressions. We can collaborate with others. We can get that content out but let’s face it, we’re not the only ones. It’s a crowded space, and people are pumping out content. I don’t even know what YouTube’s up to as far as number of videos, but it’s like, it’s growing exponentially and you mentioned Google crawling is taking longer. It’s expensive, content, content, content. There’s all out there and now we’re going to kind of get into the topic of your book, I think but like how do you avoid your content just being — I won’t even say, a drop in the ocean. even if it’s a bucket, you ever pour a bucket into a lake? Doesn’t do much. How do you avoid feeling like you’re just putting it out there into this huge ether and you can’t get noticed?
Chris Dreyer: So much here we can go —
Christopher T. Anderson: Yeah.
Chris Dreyer: I’ll try to go as deep, as you want.
Christopher T. Anderson: Say it all in 90 second.
Chris Dreyer: Yeah. Back in the 70s was the creation of what we now refer to as the USP, but really what a USP is, is how are you distinct, how are you memorable? That’s what it’s all about and there are a lot of ways to do, niching, you know, the book behind me is one of those manners. Instead of being everything to everyone, you can choose to have a niche, to become an expert, hit that Malcolm Gladwell 10,000 hours and really be an expert in a certain area.
That makes you distinct, that makes you memorable. I think for many attorneys, it’s being authentic. Being your authentic self, it’s easier to advertise and I think the other thing that most individuals don’t — most attorneys miss is, again, there’s paid media, and you can get attention through paid. You can buy ads. You can buy TV spots and billboards. There’s owned, right? You can create content. You can have your social profiles and then there’s earned. Earned is reshares, third-party conversations, dark social, being memorable. That’s what can be applied to any of the other channels. So you take an individual like Jim Adler, the Texas Hammer. Why was he so successful TV, when a lot of people had tried TV? Some individuals tried TV and they’re like, it didn’t work for me. Well, the reason it worked is because he was distinctive. An elder gentleman charging at a semi-truck with a sledgehammer. He was different.
Christopher T. Anderson: Yeah.
Chris Dreyer: It’s memorable. It’s not injured question mark. I’m here to help you. Every time I drive by one of those billboards that says injured question marks, I just cringe they’re not memorable. I talked to Dan Morgan last week on my podcast. They have which is a John Morgan’s son. They have a meeting every week that they call the Purple Cow meeting. The entire purpose of the meeting is how can we do something that makes us memorable, that makes us stand out. So they’ve done their size matters and they’re graffitiing their own billboards and all the denial stuff. That’s what you have to do to be distinctive, to be memorable, to stand out, is to get that earned media.
Christopher T. Anderson: That makes a lot of sense because it is it is such a crowded field. Doing something different, you’re not following the same old, same old. That’s one way and then you talk about niching, and I think we’re going to probably wrap it with this concept. So first of all, let’s talk about what do you mean by it? You know, I’ve heard, I titled the show by a quote that you hear out there. The riches are in the niches. What do you mean by the niches? And let’s talk about like how — because it’s scary, right? I tell you what, you define it and then we’ll talk about why it’s scary?
Chris Dreyer: Yeah, niching is just another phrase for focusing. You’re choosing to focus in a certain area and the reason it is scary is because most people automatically the first thing they think of when they think of focus is, they think of reducing their tam. They think of, oh, I’m going to eliminate all these opportunities but the reality is, when you’re trying to be everything for everyone, you’re not for very many people. So when you do niche, your perceived expertise is higher your perception. Remember the brain surgeon had their first brain surgery. At one point, they were just like everyone else, but just by the nature of them choosing that discipline, they’re perceived as an expert. So there’s more trust there. There are also efficiencies when you choose a certain area, you get to eliminate waste, instead of, say you’re a Joe Freed trucking accident attorney and you’re focusing on that, well. You know, the premises liability and all these other cases, you don’t have to be the expert on those. You can learn everything and all the integral details just on trucking makes you better, more efficient, more knowledgeable, allows you to get more value. So those are a few of those. The downside with niching is imagine you were the cruise line attorneys and during COVID.
Christopher T. Anderson: Yeah.
Chris Dreyer: That’s the downside, right? You’re not as resistant. There can be some risk, right? You could argue the opposite way. Well, you may have seen this coming, you may have been able to pivot more quickly. So there are pros and cons to all of this. I love the Unbillable Hour here, right? So I’m always thinking of from a personal injury perspective but imagine you are the expert in divorce. All you do is divorce. You may be able to get the high net worth divorces and be able to charge more and that’s what niching does. If you do everything, they may not think you’re an expert. So those are some of the intangibles that come to mind. We can go down a rabbit hole on that if you would like as well.
Christopher T. Anderson: Well, let’s go a little bit down to just talk about strategy for a second. So we’re talking to a bunch of lawyers on this show and some of whom aren’t very niched. Some are, but you mentioned that it’s scary and why it’s scary. So let’s answer this question for them. How do you know when? Like you’re out there saying, “I do family law or I do personal injury or I do criminal?” And you think that that’s niched? Because we got some people out there saying I do everything, right? But so let’s not even talk about that like, we are doing one area, but we’re talking about ‘Niching Up’.
I love that’s the title of the book, ‘Niching Up’, not niching down, which is how most people say it. So ‘Niching Up’, how do you know when it’s time to say, “You know what? I do DUI defense, or I do white collar crime, or I do insurance fraud or I do insurance fraud against, I’m making stuff up here, but against flood insurance companies. How do you know when it’s time to take that next niche level?”
Chris Dreyer: Really good question. So in David Epstein’s book ‘Range’, he uses this example of Nadal where his parents put him in all types of sports and then he discovered he had a natural propensity for tennis. I always like to say, imagine if he started off and his parents only put him in basketball. The likelihood that he would be the phenom that he is in tennis, it’s just unlikely. So I like to tell individuals to have a lot of experiences before they pick a niche, have the data, have the experiences, because it really comes down to purpose, profit, and passion. If the profit is not there, if there’s just an area of law where you’re not going to get many cases and profit is not there, it’s a hobby, right? And if you don’t have the passion —
Christopher T. Anderson: I started one of those in my early career. Yeah, total hobby.
Chris Dreyer: Yeah, and if you don’t have the passion when it comes on the weekend or you need to get up early, you may not have the motivation to see it through. So yeah, it really comes down to you need to hit the three, the purpose, passion and profit. If you can’t make a profit, it’s a hobby. If you don’t have the passion, then you may not have the energy to get up during those odd hours to do the craft. So that’s what I like to say. The other thing that I really missed when it comes to niching is by being an expert, it lends itself to referrals. Because a lot of times these out of state, out of jurisdiction cases come and you’re looking to get maximum value from your referral and if you’re the expert in a certain area, you’re more likely to get that referral. The other thing that niching does is everyone wants referrals, and the best way to get referrals is to give referrals. So if you’re sending referrals out of cases that you don’t take, you’re more likely to get them from a reciprocity perspective.
Christopher T. Anderson: Absolutely, yeah. If you say, I do everything, then I’m going to get it, right? All right, unfortunately, I’d love to go further down that rabbit hole, but we are at time. So before we do wrap it up, I just want to remind our listeners that we are talking here today with Chris Dreyer. He’s the CEO of rankings.io. So Chris, if our listeners are intrigued by something we talked about, because this could be a four hour show and we still would only scratch the surface. How can they learn more? How can they get in touch, ask questions, learn more other than getting your book ‘Niching Up’, how else can they learn more about you or from you?
Chris Dreyer: Yeah. Most active on LinkedIn guys. If you search for Chris Dreyer and Dreyer is D-R-E-Y-E-R. You can add me there, you can message me there or if you want to check out our website, it’s just rankings.io.
Christopher T. Anderson: Fantastic, so do that and follow-up with Chris Dreyer. So thank you so much for being on the show.
Chris Dreyer: Thanks so much for having me, Christopher.
Christopher T. Anderson: You bet, and of course, my name is Christopher T. Anderson, and I look forward to seeing all of you next month with another great guest as we learn more about the topics that help us build the law firm business that works for you. Don’t forget third Thursdays at 3:00 we are live. That’s 3:00 eastern, 12:00 Pacific, 1:00 Mountain, 2:00 Central Time. We are live with the Community Table, and that is a chance for you to call in or come on Zoom actually, and ask me anything and the links to get there are also here on the show notes. But you can be part of The Unbillable Hour at the Community Table every third Thursday at 3:00 and of course, you can subscribe to all the editions of this podcast and the Community Table at legaltalknetwork.com or on iTunes. Thanks for joining us and we will speak again soon.
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