In today’s episode, Jim and Tyson chat with Gyi Tsakalakis and Conrad Saam! They dive into the journey of digital marketing and your legal practice. If you’re interested in learning more about tips, tricks, marketing, and SEO, check out this week’s episode.
Gyi Tsakalakis helps lawyers grow their practices online. As a non-practicing lawyer, Gyi is familiar with the unique considerations of ethically and effectively marketing a law practice online. He founded AttorneySync to provide lawyers with more effective, transparent, and accountable digital legal marketing results. He proudly serves as a Co-Chair of ABATECHSHOW 2023 and hopes to see you there. He is passionate about Michigan football, coffee, and stoicism.
After leading marketing efforts for Avvo, Conrad Saam left and founded Mockingbird Marketing, an online marketing agency focused exclusively on the legal market. Conrad is the author of “The FindLaw Jailbreak Guide,” a Google Small Business Advisor, and has held positions for various ABA Practice Management marketing committees. In his spare time, he enjoys publishing Cease and Desist letters from unscrupulous vendors called out for misleading the legal industry.
1:05 Lunch Hour Legal Marketing
4:18 poked the legal industry
8:46 a lot better and a lot more
13:38 that’s what tech’s all about
17:01 first Metaverse law firm
20:09 build relationships
24:06 to clear buckets in referrals
28:36 from an SEO standpoint
32:48 business development
Jim’s Hack: Implementing AnyTrack.io is providing a weekly sheet of all the leads to the firm that comes in and where everyone falls out of the funnel. It also tracks people from the time they come into our atmosphere, which will allow the firm to dial in exactly where the leads are coming from.
Gyi’s Tip: Create feedback loops. There are often a lot of improvement opportunities in law firms, starting from the point of first contact. The feedback loop is a great way to regularly ask clients, team members, other lawyers, etc for feedback about the entire legal process from start to finish.
Conrad’s Tip: All about velocity. How quickly are people moving through your funnel? This will give you a good metric for responsiveness and the ability to get people from one step to the next.
Tyson’s Tip: Leaky funnel! Look and track your abandoned calls within your phone software system to see where the leak might be in your funnel. If you don’t know about it, you could be losing out on a lot of cases.
Watch the podcast here.
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Transcript: Digital Marketing w/ Gyi Tsakalakis and Conrad Saam
Jim Hacking: Welcome back to The Maximum Lawyer Podcast. I’m Jim Hacking.
Tyson Mutrux: And I’m Tyson Mutrux. What’s up, Jimmy?
Jim: We have a couple of Wolverines in the house today. They’ve already made that clear. We’re excited to have them both.
Conrad and Gyi, welcome to the show, fellas.
Conrad: Hey, thanks for having us.
Gyi: Thanks for having us.
Tyson: All right, so this is going to be a fun one, I can tell, with both of you.
So, Lunch Hour Legal Marketing, it’s hosted by digital marketers Gyi Tsakalakis and Conrad Saam. Lunch Hour Legal Marketing is jampacked with tips and tricks for attracting more clients and business to your legal practice. We’ll talk more about that later.
So, Gyi and Conrad, welcome to the show.
Conrad: Thank you.
Gyi: Glad to be here. I love everything Maximum Lawyer, to be honest. Love the Facebook group. Love the community. Haven’t been to the conference but I’ve heard fantastic things. And big fan of what you guys are doing online, too. So, brAvvo.
Tyson: Thanks, guys.
Jim: Why don’t you guys start off by talking about how you connected besides bad alcohol at University of Michigan, and then sort of how you– like what your career path has been and then how you started your show together?
Conrad: Yeah. I mean, this goes way back. I’m going to guess we professionally met probably in 2008. I was running marketing for what at that time was a fairly unknown website called Avvo. One of the things that we did that I really enjoyed doing, while I was there, was talking to law firms and kind of thought leaders about digital marketing. This is back in the day when like, literally, I was trying to convince– I remember the first piece I ever gave was called. And I gave it to 400 lawyers and they just like wanted to boo me off the stage, right.
And I built this list. I don’t think– Gyi, I don’t even know if you know this. I had this list of 25 people who were important for us to know. And Gyi was on that list. And that’s when I originally reached out to Gyi. This was like thought leadership marketing before thought leadership marketing was kind of a thing. But that’s how we originally met.
And I think we shared a common– I think– I think this persists. We share a common kind of love for the entrepreneurial, digitally savvy law firm. And we’ve become fast friends for– been fast friends for a long time.
Gyi: Yeah, I was a– so, my short story was I was a trial lawyer for like a blip of a career, like two years. My firm, as a young lawyer, was like go out and figure out what we should be doing online. It’s like 2005. You know, talking to lawyers. And we started this conversation today but, back then, you know, “People don’t hire lawyers like me on the internet” was the gist of the response. And I was like, “You know what? Agree to disagree.” And so, we founded an agency in 2008. And then-
Yeah, I was a Mark Britton fanboy, first, but also a Conrad fanboy because Conrad had the best link building strategy of all time which was to get sued by every lawyer and legal‑related thing you could find and, you know, Avvo ranked for everything.
Conrad: It was honestly– I mean, this was very, very deliberate. I can say this now, because I was kind of, you know, way in my rearview mirror here. But they knew right off the bat that they were going to get sued and they did it deliberately.
I mean, this is why I really wish if I had a real career, instead of running a business, I would just be an SEO that worked in kind of this PR world. But my job– this was– it was a really, really fun job. And this is going to sound super sadistic, but I just poked the legal industry and people who were really, really pissed off about Avvo to get them to continue talking about Avvo. And we had to do that in a really genuine positive way about how technology was going to help connect lawyers with consumers. And I still– like I really believed then. But if there was someone who really disliked us, I wanted them to blog about Avvo as much as they possibly could. And so, I made us very, very available for those conversations. I mean, I took so much heat for like– I mean, the first six months, like that’s all I did was field conversations with really angry lawyers who wanted us to go away.
And I don’t know why I enjoyed this so much but like the links that came out of it was amazing. And that was the foundation of how Avvo– I mean, it went from a really underfunded startup to, you know, kicking down the doors of the fine laws through really smart SEO. And, frankly– and this was not me but like I was surrounded by people who were really good at search in the industry. The big players didn’t know what they were doing. And so, we were able to walk in with really, at the time, extremely sophisticated SEO work and killed them. And it was awesome.
Tyson: So, let me ask you about that because– let’s flashback to 2010. That’s whenever I graduated law school. And it seemed like fine law dominated, Avvo dominated, Scorpion dominated. There were like a few different entities that dominated SEO. What has changed, because it seems like there has been a substantial shift? Those entities no longer dominate. They’re still relevant but they no longer dominate. So, what has shifted?
Gyi: Oh, how much time you got?
Conrad: Yeah. I know.
Tyson: We have plenty of time. Let’s hear it.
Gyi: The two biggest things that I think about specifically impact the directory performance. One was Local Pack, right, because Google now is showing the map pack results above traditional results. So, even if the directory’s a traditional first result, they’re way down the page. And, two, LSAs, the local services ads, because those push even the map pack down. And so, those are the two that, I think, have probably the biggest performance impact for directories that rank.
But on top of that, even the traditional listings have become more localized. And so, Google is even showing local law firms even in the traditional pack for ungeographically modified queries. So, you know– you know, where you are, if you just search personal injury lawyer, Google, if they can figure out where you are, is going to show you geographically‑relevant results. And the directories will still be in there but they’re so far down. And now there’s lawyers. So, they’re just not commanding the same share of voice as they used to when they were– when they were literally at the top of the result.
Conrad: And for me, it was so easy to focus entirely on search, right, because it was so linear, right? I want to buy a coffee cup. I look for a coffee cup. I buy a coffee cup, right?
There are so many more channels. I mean, the really massive shifts, go back to 2010, is there are so many more channels at this point in time that can work as a silo which is great. I think it’s a really good thing for the industry as a whole but they also– those silo’s, when you take the silo’s apart and you add them together, you get this and I hate to use the business term, but it’s you get this synergy where you have these multiple channels working together, where one plus one plus one equals seven, right?
And the directories can’t play in all those silos. Like we have Mark Britton on TikTok talking about– like if Avvo was starting right now, you’d have Britton on TikTok, right? And he’s like, “Ah, come on,” right? Like the directories can’t really play all of those games whereas, beforehand, you crush it in SEO. SEO, to Gyi’s point, is at the top of the game, we win, right? Like, totally win.
Jim: I’d be interested to hear your guys’ thoughts on this. You both were at the ABA Tech Show. And I think the tech show’s great. I’m wondering generally though what do you think about the ABA and its place for helping– especially small firm and solo’s to– how do you think they do with that and what could they do better, if anything?
Conrad: So, Jim, I’m so glad you asked that question. I am the dubious distinction of being the co‑chair for the next ABA Tech Show. And I’ve been involved with the ABA’s law practice division, really, gosh, since I got involved in digital marketing, I guess, so May 2008.
And the short answer is that I think that they could be doing a lot better and a lot more. And, you know, my friends at the ABA are going to hear this and be all upset about it, but I get myself in trouble with my mouth all the time. I think they know that.
You know, there’s– there’s institutional inertia, that’s a challenge there. There’s the supplement of a lot of other organizations. I mean, let’s face it, like Maximum Lawyer is like a bar association for the community, right. And there’s a lot of those that I think are pulling away from people wanting to be involved.
But my thing is this, maybe I’m naive and maybe nostalgic, but it’s the ABA. They should be the leaders helping the profession. And so, I know that there are– there are many— you know, it’s a volunteer‑driven organization. And I know there are a lot of people on the inside who feel that way and want to make the ABA that leader just there are just so many uphill battles to climb but, you know, hey, I’m the incoming co‑chair so I better see all of you at Tech Show, in February, in Chicago, and all the listeners as well.
But, you know, I challenge folks, I tell people all the time. I’m like, “You know how to contact me. It’s not that hard to get a hold of me. Let me know. What do you want you see? What should we be changing? I want that feedback.”
My big kind of mantra, going into this show, is especially in light of, you know, we’ve just gone through this evolution of virtual conferences and hybrid. And I got two things. One is if you’re going to do an in‑person, if your sessions, your material, better not be stuff people can just look up on YouTube. So that’s number one in terms of driving quality sessions. But number two is you better build a show that creates a platform for the most valuable thing of an in‑person meeting which is the human connection, right, meeting people socializing, you know, maybe workshopping. That’s the only reason to go to these things is for the networking and the relationship stuff. Otherwise, you can go to YouTube.
Conrad: I’ll kiss Gyi’s butt here on this. But everyone listening should know this, one of the things I– I’ve been to more legal marketing conferences than anyone should in their lifetime, right? One of the things that I abhor. I’ve been asked to spend five figures to speak for half an hour at conferences. These pay‑to‑pitch conferences are repugnant. And I will say that Gyi has done an amazing job of curating. I am speaking specifically about tech show here. The content is absolutely unbelievably high quality. There is no pay to pitch. And I think everyone should know that because there is so much of that around the conferences that just made me– it’s disgusting, right? It’s—
Gyi: Well, that’s kind of you to give me credit for that. But the ABA has really taken that position—
Conrad: Well, see, you’re such a good person. You’re making it everyone. I’m just trying to be nice to you and you’re making it about everyone else. Meet Gyi Tsakalakis, the most humble person in the legal industry.
Gyi: Well, the– but it’s—it’s really– it is really important. And it’s– you know, it’s a major difference. I mean, you can tell when someone’s up there pitching from the stage. But, you know, one of the challenges though is– and this is the thing, you know, and it’s people laugh, because we’re like, you know, there’s this mantra around tech show that’s like no vendors. And I’m like, you know, I’m the co‑chair and, technically, I’m a vendor and— but the thing is– the balance is this. You don’t want to totally disenfranchise, and isolate, and marginalize the experts in the technology. I mean, it’s a tech show. And so, you know, some of it’s like, you know, curating, some of it’s giving guidance to folks that are going to be session leaders, you know.
Jack Newton is very active in the tech show community and a regular speaker. And there are a lot of other vendor‑type leaders in the field. You’ve got to have ‘em. They’re the ones that are pushing the envelope but, you know, you’ve got to set the stage properly and have them deliver in a way that’s valuable to the attendees.
Tyson: Yeah. What people don’t realize is that, if you didn’t have vendors, your tickets are $4,000 apiece. Like it’s really, really expensive to put on a conference without vendors. I mean, you’ve got to have ‘em, but that’s why we have a policy, no, you cannot pitch from the stage. It’s absolutely not okay. So, yeah, we got that.
But I want to switch gears a little bit. So, we had– on a– we had Russ Nesevich and Bill Colarulo talk about Metaverse a couple of days ago. Is there any connection between SEO and the metaverse? Like is that something you’re keeping an eye on? Is that going to affect what you all do?
Gyi: Conrad, do you want to fill that one?
Conrad: Do you want to talk about dark social?
Gyi: Well— I– okay. I guess, that is a– that’s kind of a—so, my knee jerk reaction was going to be no. I’m also very like– you know, this is the challenge. Because I know Mitch Jackson’s very big on metaverse, and NFTs, and all this stuff. And it’s great, you know. You’re pushing the envelope. You’ve got to try new stuff. Like that’s what tech’s all about.
My issue is this. You know, we work with local, small firm entrepreneurial lawyers, right? And so, if they see one of these videos, it’s like, “Oh, you’ve got to have an office in the metaverse.” And, “Oh, get my metaverse training, and my metaverse coaching, and I’m going to go spend money on the metaverse.” And I’m like you don’t even have like intake set up right now, like you’re chasing all the shiny stuff. And so, you know, whether it’s AI, or crypto, or whatever, Metaverse [inaudible 00:14:03] like you have a lot other things you can fix and should prioritize.
Does that mean that, you know– and I like Conrad talked to our– does that not mean that the metaverse will be a thing just like, you know, Facebook groups are a thing, you know? Because I think about it this way like Maximum Lawyer, there’s a community there. It doesn’t matter where the platform is. Maybe it’s a more sophisticated community in the metaverse, maybe not. I don’t know. So, there’s something there but like it’s not like– in my view, it’s not like time to go rush out and set up your metaverse office, especially if you don’t have your basic blocking and tackling down.
Conrad: I can’t disagree. I mean, I can’t disagree with what Gyi’s saying.
Gyi: [inaudible 00:14:41].
Conrad: The focus here– and this is so problematic, this shiny object thing, where it’s like, “Oh, you know, I saw this guy at a conference who’s doing blah, blah, blah.” I mean, I can even use TikTok. Just because someone else is using TikTok doesn’t mean you should drop everything. And I think one of the biggest mistakes that happens for lawyers over, and over, and over again, because they can’t– they don’t want to miss out on any opportunity, is they try and do all of the things and they think they should be doing all of the things.
And Gyi’s right. Think about this. So, like, as you guys are sitting here thinking about metaverse, how many of you know the percentage of time that you answer your phone when it rings? And if you don’t know the answer to that question, what the hell are you talking about the metaverse for, right? Like there are so many other things that you are doing poorly that like you’re just getting distracted with this stuff. And it’s so frustrating.
So, I mean, Gyi, you probably get this all the time. Lawyers will come to me telling me that they need to do X or their biggest thing is—
Gyi: Pokemon GO. Pokemon GO was huge. We got so many inquiries about how we got to be like the Pokemon GO thing.
Conrad: Totally. Right? You remember?
And so, the thing with poke– this is where– this is where this does connect. Your question was about SEO And I’ll use Pokemon GO as an example because it’s a great example on this.
A smattering of you guys and women—sorry, I say guys but I mean lawyers. A smattering of you put up Pokemon Go accident injury attorney blog posts or practice area, right, which is insane but like that happened. But there was a really small fraction of that group who realized that what they could do was create links from that type of content. And those are the people who are killing the rest of you, right?
Gyi: That’s right.
Conrad: And so, to bring it back to your question, the Pokemon GO thing was stupid and ridiculous but you figure out how to turn that into driving SEO traffic for now.
The people who did that right, they’re winning the SEO game today because of the stuff that they did five years ago with Pokemon GO. And that’s where you have– that’s why like it’s no longer– we talked about SEO. It’s no longer kind of the single threaded thing. It is a one plus one plus one equals seven when you think about it holistically.
But let me get back to the original point. Don’t chase the shiny objects because you’re doing most things wrong already.
Gyi: And I think you guys— you, Jim and Tyson, you can correct me, but there’s someone in Maximum Lawyer, I believe, that actually– I think they were publishing that they were like the first metaverse law firm [inaudible 00:17:10].
Conrad: I just got this email this morning.
And they’ve definitely picked up press and links from it, for sure.
Conrad: I’ll send—so, we can put it in the notes here. I’ve literally got a link to the press that they got for this, right? And that’s why they to do it. It’s for the press. That’s why Avvo got sued right off the bat and was super excited to get because of the press and the links that come out of that. It comes full circle.
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Jim: You’re listening to The Maximum Lawyer Podcast. Our guests today are Conrad Saam and Gyi Tsakalakis. We’re happy to have them both with you.
I’m happy to report that I answered the phone 0% of the time, I did not get on Clubhouse, and I loved Gyi’s tweet the other day.
Now, this– now, I want to get to the other brand of lawyers that we meet. So, we just talked about the shiny object of which I am one, for sure. But then, there’s the other lawyers who say “Yeah. I get all my cases from referrals.” And, you know, referrals, they have a zero cost – a zero cost.
Now, Gyi, I think it was either LinkedIn or Twitter, today or yesterday, you sort of smashed that icon as well. Do you want to talk a little bit about that crew?
Gyi: Oh, I love that crew. You know that crew is all you do is you put your head down, you do great work, people talk about it, and they refer to you, and you’re done, and you’re busy. And I’ll tell you, there are lawyers that are doing that and kudos to them. You know, you’ve built a practice that’s just head down, word of mouth, like you’re deep in a niche and everybody knows you’re the person who does that, and everybody refers to you. That’s awesome.
Incremental growth becomes the trick. And, you know, referrals are inconsistent. You know, they’re not as predictable as some of the other advertising methods. But, if you’re spending any time or money doing anything to build relationships to, you know, deliver service, and even beyond the representation to stay in touch with former clients for them to think of you and stay top of mind, that stuff is not free. And every– so, you know, as a marketing agency, rightfully so, people want to hold us accountable to target cost per acquisition, target return on ad spend, target cost per client. Those are all really good metrics to hold marketing accountable for.
But then, this is kind of what I was poking fun at in the tweet is that, you know, you go in there and you look at their dashboards and it’s like, “Oh, referral. This is a referral, 100% profit.” And I’m like, “Whoa, whoa, whoa, wait a minute. Weren’t you just at AAJ speaking? And didn’t you fly there? And didn’t you take like 10 of your buddies out for steak dinner and like expensive wine? Well, guess what, last time I checked, that stuff’s not free. In fact, I think it’s inflating at a higher rate than digital ads are.” But in any event– the big thing here is, is that referrals should be the cornerstone of your marketing.
My big thing though is, in addition to like assigning a cost to it is, the lines between the real world referrals and top of funnel acquisition, they’re totally blurred, right? There isn’t this– you know, marketing, people love to talk about this funnel, right? Oh, awareness, and then consideration, and then– you know, so it’s like search, click, call, hire. That’s not how legal services consumers hire lawyers. Some do, some do, but there’s a whole bunch of other ways that they do. And, you know—
And this is, to Conrad’s point, and we talk about this on Lunch Hour Legal Marketing, on dark social, but like, if someone sees an ad, they don’t call you or click the ad. And then later, they know someone that gets in a car accident and they say, “Hey, I thought– I saw– I remember seeing this ad.” The person calls you or they refer– and then there’s a referral in place because like maybe there’s– maybe that lawyer’s like doesn’t take that kind of case so they make a referral. How are you doing attribution for that?
And, also, if you put that in your referral bucket and you think it’s free, you know, you’re managing to all the wrong metrics because it’s like it wasn’t actually your– even your steak dinner or the relationship you had, it was that ad that you ran that originally generated that consultation and client. And so– I don’t know. My big thing with that is like yes, people hire lawyers. They still hire lawyers based on personal recommendations, professional recommendations. They hire lawyers they know, like, and trust. But it’s not as clean as like, “I’m just going to do head down work and get referrals.”
And then, the other side of that coin that a lot of that group always forgets is, even if that’s your bread and butter, your head down, hard work, do great work for clients, people talk about it, what do you think people are doing these days when they get your name, regardless of how they’re referred to you? They’re immediately going online and being like, “What do the reviews say about this person?” You know, “Can I find other information about them? Am I mutually connect–? Now, there people in my social network that know this person that I might talk to about what their experience was.”
And so, you know, that’s the big thing about this whole internet thing is it really has democratized information. And so, you know, there are people– even– like we all know a bunch of lawyers. Even with a professional referral, I might still go check out and say, “You know, I’m just going to check out what it says on Google about this person just to see because they might be the smartest lawyer in the world but if they don’t respond to clients, I’m going to be like, “You know what? Maybe I’ll– there’s another lawyer that might be just as good that I might think about.” And that’s where some of that no’s, you know, a lawyer in every jurisdiction.
Anyway, sorry. That’s my rant on that.
Conrad: Love the rant.
To me, there’s– there’s kind of two clear buckets in referrals. And I think one of them’s often missed. You have the professional referral which is what lawyers want to think of as being referral marketing. You do a great job and everyone talks about what a great lawyer you are. That limits you to a very small portion of the market, right? It just does. And that may be fine for your business. If you’re not trying to take over, you know, dominate your market and listen to what all the SEO people say, right? It’s fine. You can absolutely run a business like that.
But the piece of the referral market it’s myth which is very costly and it takes a ton of time is how do you get your community to become your referral market, right? It has nothing to do with your practice of law but—
You know, I use Ken Levinson as an example of this all the time. He does a lot of content around eating food in Chicago, right? Nothing to do with the practice of law. But he now has a referral network that is referring him a ton of business. Morris Lilienthal is another person like this. Josh Hodges is another person who does this really well.
So, they are spending a ton of time and money driving a community to become a referral source. And those are two very different referral sources. And you go about handling both of those in two very, very different tactics.
But, to me, that is kind of where things are moving where like what– how– how can we use the technology to showcase your individual contribution to your community, and have people love you as a person, and, therefore, refer business to you without ever having worked with you as an attorney? That’s magic, right. And that’s Morgan&Morgan can’t come in and kick you out of that marketing channel or outspend you out of that marketing channel. That is– it’s sticky, and it stays, and it’s super valuable.
Tyson: I am so torn as to what I want to ask you next because I’ve got so many questions I want to ask you. But I want to go with probably the least attractive of the three but maybe the most important. So, it appears, from the outside looking in, so as an attorney and not as someone that does SEO, that Google and a lot of these platforms are shifting away from SEO and trying to make it more ads driven so they can make more money. That’s what it looks like. I can tell you my—
Gyi: That’s correct.
Tyson: Yes. Yeah, my cases, I’m getting—
Gyi: Yes. Nice question.
Tyson: I’m getting way more cases from AdWords than I—
Well, like– but how do you– I mean, it’s way more expensive for me to do that though because we’re getting a lot more cases from the ads than we are from SEO now. But like how do we– how do we combat that? That’s– that’s really my question because it’s more expensive to do it that way.
So, this is– we go really deep on this, but I’ll try to give some practical, tactical things that you can think about. The first one that I always bring up that just blows my mind every time I hear it is that, every single day, 15% of the searches typed into Google have never been typed in before. Yeah. Right? I know. Folks that are listening can. Maybe they’re making faces, too. Everybody’s making faces like that can’t be true. That’s what they– that’s what they say. Even Danny Sullivan, who’s their search liaison, and I just validated this like a couple months ago, he’s like, “That’s still the number.”
So, why does that matter? Well, because, guess what, there are still a lot of search results that don’t have a ton of ads on them, right? Like the cognitive bias that we all have is that we think everybody uses search the same way that we do. So, we think, oh, everybody’s searching for personal injury lawyer Chicago. And so, guess what, everybody goes, everybody builds links and optimizes their anchor texts for those same keywords and it gets super competitive.
Don’t get me wrong. Those– as the marketing folks would say, those lower funnel, high‑intent, geographically‑relevant queries, they’re valuable. That’s why some of these lawyers are paying $100, $200, $300 a click because there’s value there.
But if that’s not your budget– and this is where– it always goes back to the same thing. Where do you want to be 12 months from now? And then, how much money are you willing to spend to get to that point? And let’s put a plan together to do that.
But if you’re lower budget, say, you don’t have a client. You’re sitting around and you’re like, “I’ve got to get clients.” You start thinking about target– part of the strategy should be targeting these longtail queries and they’re not going to be lower funnel, high competition queries. But there are people that are literally– they don’t even know they need a lawyer.
You know, whether—say, you’re a person. You got hurt in an accident. You’re typing stuff in about your injury. You’re typing in words that your doctor just told you.
You’re in a divorce setting. You might not be searching for a divorce lawyer. You might be searching about like consequences of divorce on my kids in California and like– you know, that kind of stuff. And so, you know, thinking about search more like that, I think, that’s one answer to it – from an– from an SEO standpoint.
But, again, I think it’s– Conrad alluded to this and like I don’t want to go too long here, but it’s about diverse– just like everything else, it’s diversifying your gameplan. Like don’t put your eggs in the SEO bucket. I wouldn’t put your eggs in the Google Ads bucket though either because, as you mentioned, it gets expensive.
And here’s the other thing that’s going on, that’s a real challenge is inflation. So, like right now, everything’s going up. And are you going to clients– maybe if you’re on a contingency fee, this isn’t as big of an issue. But if you’re getting paid a fee, whether it’s flat fee, or hourly, or whatever it is, are you going to clients and be like, “Hey, 10% increase because my clicks on Google went up 10%.” And so, that ad option it’s– I mean, we used to talk about this in the context of lead generation and total attorney’s days but like they’re– the big challenge of the lead generators is like the option for clicks, the cost is going up, you’re going to adjust your cost per lead? Are you going to start adjusting your fees because that’s where it’s all being chipped into and—
Anyway. So, diversify. You’ve got to be more strategic. That’s the tradeoff, right? So, like you can’t do– if you’re doing what everybody else is doing, you’re going to be– I don’t know– I don’t know why this popped in my head but I was going to say you’re hunting elephants where everybody else is hunting elephants. I have no idea. It’s totally not good in the climate of people posting elephant hunting pictures online but that’s what came to my head. I think you guys understand what I mean.
Conrad: Yeah. I mean, he’s right. So, you know, I was talking about the longtail. Our client who gets the most traffic, they get around 130,000 sessions a month. If I filter that out just to US sessions, it’s about 60 to 70 a month. They generate two to three clients a month out of that, right? It’s not a funnel. It’s a pancake.
So, the long tail on the content is very much a real thing. Now, there’s whole reasons why you shouldn’t just go off and blog like that. But– so, I don’t even go down that path. But that’s definitely a thing.
Diversification is the deal. You’re right. Of course, it’s expensive, right, because everyone is playing that same game. And it is so– it’s this weird– especially with PPC, it’s this weird thing where the more you buy anything, the less expensive it gets, except for PPC. The more you buy PPC, the higher the per unit cost is. It’s this upside‑down economics supply and demand curve.
So, of course, it’s expensive. And if you’re trying to play in those games, you have to find places where– and this is why I’m not– like I told you my love is SEO at this point in time. But like as I’ve– as this has evolved, I’ve realized that it’s not just because it’s down at the bottom of the SERPs. It’s because the vast majority– [inaudible 00:30:56] majority may not even be the right answer. But more and more people are finding their attorneys outside of Google search results, right? And so, within Google search results, you have to diversify outside of Google. Specifically, you need to diversify.
Tactically, the one thing– and Gyi said the word strategy, but like I would be very, very– everyone should have a good strategic understanding of their address. And is that an asset or a liability for them to play in local search? And some of you are sitting on this opportunity that you’re missing because you’re in a weaker market and you’ve ignored the local component of it. And others of you are out there trying to get more– ”We’ve got 120 reviews and, boy, if we can just get up to 700, the phone’s going to start ringing off the hook.” Well, good luck, those guys getting 700. They’re not standing still either. And so, you guys are banging your head against the wall working on a tactic that, frankly, you will never catch up on because of your office location. So, your office address is an asset or a liability. And I would look at—
And the problem with SEO people is we all think, “Oh, you should just do more SEO, more link building, more reviews, more content,” but some of you will never play in that game. And some of you should be playing in that game and you’re not.
Jim: All four of us spend a lot of time talking to law firm owners. And I recognize that I am unusual in how much of my time I devote towards marketing and how much of a priority I’ve always made it at our firm. Most lawyers, most law firm owners, are going to spend their time either running their firm or practicing law. What do you think– what’s the right percentage for those– the typical lawyer to be thinking about and devoting to marketing?
Gyi: God, this is such a great question and issue to solve, and I don’t know if I have a right answer for this. Frankly, from what I’ve seen, based on the most of the direct‑to‑consumer practices that we see, somebody has to take on the almost full‑time role of business development which means they’re doing the marketing. They’re—you know, we want to make— [inaudible 00:32:57] Pareto Principle, 80/20, and kind of– that kind of thing. Somebody’s got to be 80% marketing and 20% practicing. And somebody else, and the other solo’s, always beat me up with– they’re like, “There’s nobody else. Just me.” So, I don’t know, 50/50, I guess. It’s probably a sliding scale, depending on how busy you are, but this is the problem, right? And you both know this because you talk to lawyers.
But you start out, baby lawyer, no clients. Oh, I can be a 100% marketing machine. I don’t have anything else to do. So, you’re 100% marketing. And then, “Oh, my gosh, the marketing’s working. I’m actually generating clients. So, now, I stop marketing and I’m spending all my time practicing. Oop, now, I don’t have any clients. So, now, I’ve got to go back to marketing.” So, it’s a sliding scale, I guess.
But the truth is that you’re– you’re better off– in my opinion, when you get to the point that you can start delegating it, if you’re going– the other part of this is you’ve got to choose what you love to do. You know, there are parts of practicing law like that’s just I love to be in in court, like I was super naive and I was raising my hand for motions and taking all the depositions, like I loved that stuff. But, if I was still practicing, I wouldn’t have any time for marketing if I was going to do that. And so, I think you got to get to a point that somebody else is handling it.
Whether you’ve got a skilled support team member or, truthfully, a lot of the times, if you’re going to be the face, if you’re going to be the “brand,” you’ve got to do that and you should be, 80% of your time, business development, relationships, all the marketing stuff. Yeah, sure. You should be involved in some of the client work and some of the practice stuff but you’re going to either need another attorney who’s going to be inverse to you. I don’t know. I don’t– I don’t think you’re going to grow beyond– well, I guess, it’s kind of implicit in the definition. You’re not going to grow brand beyond a solo trying to do it all yourself.
Conrad: So, Jim, my answer to that question is it really depends what you want to do with your firm, right? If you want to be a solo that does great work and gets referral business for doing great work like great just do great work. That’s your marketing. It’s the same thing. We have– as he was talking about, I was thinking through, I have five clients for whom the kind of face of the firm does no legal work. I don’t know that they do 100% marketing but it’s pretty close to that because they are trying to move into– you think John Morgan is doing any work in the courtroom? No. He’s a CEO. And so, I have five of my clients are CEOs, right? And they’re not called CEOs but that’s how they’re functioning because they have designs on taking over massive portions of market.
We’ve got a major player in PI, in Texas, right? That person is not doing any court work. They are running their firm. And so, you know, my real take on this is It depends on what you want.
The thing that doesn’t work is we’ve—
I have another client, also in Texas, strangely enough, who wants to be the biggest employment law firm in Texas. Great. And he’s so busy with clients, right? Like this is never going to happen for you, Dan. Dan, you know, I’m talk– if you’re hearing this.
But like you have to think about where you want to go with the firm week. We break this out, not in terms of time but I think about– we look at it in terms of budget. So, what percentage of your revenue should go towards marketing? We have these kinds of buckets and it’s worked really well.
But, to me, we have at the very, very, very extreme, especially when you’re dealing with pay‑per‑click advertising, you’re running PI and you kind of own a large portion of Florida, right? You’re spending 20% to 40% of the value of that client to acquire that client, right? That is 20% to 40% of your time.
If you look at it differently, you got to work on Monday and Tuesday to pay for Google, to get those clients. Our aggressive growth clients who I look at trying to kind of own a major city, they’re spending 10% to 20% of their revenue on marketing. And then, underneath that, we have what most law firms fall into which is what we call grow which, when you ask people what they want to do, they want to say we want to get bigger. How much bigger? Bigger than today. Well, how much is that? I’m not really sure. Those people are generally putting in 6% to 8% of their revenue into their marketing.
So, I look at it in terms of percentage of your revenue that you’re– this is just how much gas you’re pouring in the engine, right? Are you pouring a lot of gas in or not?
Tyson: This is– this is actually really great stuff. So, I would love to continue this conversation but we’re already way over time. But we want to keep going because just this is great.
Before we start to wrap things up, Conrad and Gyi will you tell people how to get in touch with you, if they want to reach out to you with questions about SEO and if they’re interested in your services?
Gyi: Sure. I waste a lot of time on Twitter so you can find me– if you start typing G‑Y‑I‑T, I’ll probably come up. Otherwise, you can go to attorneysync.com – attorney‑S‑Y‑N‑C.com. But, I’m fortunate that’s such a weird name. If you can figure out how to spell it, you’ll probably find me.
Conrad: Yeah. And I’m even more fortunate because I have a unique name but it’s easy to spell. It’s S‑A‑A‑M. So, if you– and there’s like one other Conrad Saam who was like my great grandfather who died long time ago. So, like I’m super– if you can’t find me on Google, we’re doing everything wrong.
Tyson: I have been saying Saam wrong for years. I’ve been calling you Conrad Sam, so that’s [inaudible 00:38:02] for years.
Conrad: And you know what? The good thing for me is no matter how you pronounce it, you still spell it the same way which makes me easy to find.
Tyson: That’s right. And it’s easy to remember, so very good.
All right. Let’s wrap things up. Before I do, I want to remind everyone to join us in the big Facebook group which I think both Gyi and Conrad are in. I don’t remember, but I think you’re both in there so that’s great. If you want a higher level conversation, go to The Guild, maxlawguild.com, join us there. We should get– try to get Gyi and Conrad into The Guild.
If you want to join us in the conference– actually, by the time you’re listening to this, the conference has already passed, so—but, if not, go to maxlawcon2022.com.
And while you’re listening the rest of this episode, if you don’t mind leaving us a five‑star review, it would be fantastic. We would appreciate it.
Jimmy, what is your hack of the week?
Conrad: His hack of the week is to make sure you hit the mute button before you start talking.
Tyson: Yeah, that’s right. Hey, I had a rookie move earlier, you got your rookie move now, so that’s good.
Jim: Before I get to my hack of the week, I want to thank you guys both for coming on. This was really great stuff. We’re trying something new this month. We recorded all of our month’s episodes today. So, you are our fifth interview of the day and you guys made it really great. I want to recommend to everyone to check out Lunch Hour Legal Marketing on the Legal Talk Network, really great podcast, really good stuff.
But my hack of the week is a new piece of software that we’re implementing into our firm. And it’s called anytrack.io.
I went to a Great Legal Marketing Conference with Ben Glass, back in 2012. And, at that conference, there was a gentleman named Peter Wishnie, who’s a podiatrist, who presented. And he talked about two things. One was that he was able to show each aspect of his funnel, how many people came each week. He knows how many people come in and then where they fall off, whether it’s that they aren’t a real serious client, they don’t have the money to pay, or the attorneys didn’t like them, or the attorneys– or the podiatrist– you know, that was someone they wanted to do business with. He had this funnel all drilled in. And so, that was sort of my goal number one. It took me eight years, but we got there. So, now, we have a weekly sheet of all the leads that come in and where everyone falls out of the funnel.
The second piece of that was going beyond asking people how did you hear about us? Like, how did you hear about us is very inaccurate. And so, what we decided to do is we’re going to pour some resources into this anytrack.io to get it set up so that we can give people that pixel, track ‘em from the day‑to‑day come into our atmosphere, and really try to dial in on exactly where our leads are coming from. And I think that’s really, really important. I’m really excited about it because we’re almost done setting it up.
Tyson: That’s great. My tip’s going to be related to that so I like that. Really good.
Let’s go Conrad first this time. We always ask our guests to give a tip or a hack of the week. It could be a podcast. It could be a book. It could be whatever you want.
So, Conrad first and then Gyi. Tip of the week.
Conrad: Tip of the week is velocity. How quickly are people– Jim was just talking about the funnel. How quickly are people moving through that funnel? That gives you a really good metric, not just on your responsiveness but your ability to actually get people from one step to another. And the most obvious one of those is, someone calls you, how quickly do they have an appointment scheduled to meet with your firm, should you want to meet with that person, right? And you can– there’s plenty of software available to calculate the time period between when someone calls you and when you have a calendar invite set up with that person. And that is velocity. And that is unbelievably telling.
For those of you who think you do a good job at intake, you will realize that if it takes, on average, 27 hours to get someone scheduled, you’re losing a large portion, right? So that’s your time at falling out of the funnel. The reason they’re falling out of that funnel is because you’re unresponsive.
Tyson: Yep. That’s– that’s great advice. Excellent.
Gyi: Yeah. I mean, gosh, I’m going to go with– this might not be sophisticated enough for your audience but I’m going to go with creating feedback loops. So many lawyers, like they think they’ve got some of this stuff in place but if you go and shop them, if you go call them up and go through their intake funnel or go through their– you know, if they– if they’re willing to take you all the way through the experience, the client journey, from start to finish, there’s a lot of area of opportunity for improvement. And that’s—
Those things can be sources of negative reviews. They’re the source of leaky funnels. They’re the source of leaving money on the table with former clients because you’re not staying in touch.
So, the feedback loop where you’re like, you’re regularly asking for feedback, you’re having people shop your firm, you’re having clients– maybe you have colleagues that are willing to shop you and then all the way through to the end and beyond the representation. So, like, you know, six months later, are you still asking feedback for people in your network? I mean, it just makes– it’s a– that’s how software gets better. That’s how we all get better. It’s just by getting that feedback, and then acting on it, and iterating towards the future. So, that’s what I’d focus on.
Tyson: Love it. Good stuff.
My tip has to do with another leaky funnel problem. So, we noticed recently that we had more and more calls going to the service. and we use the answering service as an overflow. And so, we set up a dashboard to track this. And what was really, really interesting is, first of all, we discovered that what was happening is that employees were– they were waiting for someone else to pick up the phone call. What was happening was, as they were they weren’t picking it up, it was going over the service. So, we implemented a new rule where you’ve got to pick it up within two rings, right? That’s the new rule.
But the more interesting thing was is that we were noticing abandoned calls. So, we had been tracking the number of calls that were going to the service. But what we were not tracking was the abandoned calls. So, the call was going over but they were just hanging up, right? And that was not something we had been tracking. And it was startling to find out the number. So, that’s something we have also addressed.
So, the tip is to look and try to find– and RingCentral allows you to do this– a lot of the other services do, too, look at abandoned calls because that is another leak at your funnel. If you don’t know about it, you could be losing out a lot of cases.
Conrad: And think about that as you are on the one‑yard line. You’re fumbling it. And if you don’t know that number, you don’t even know that you’re fumbling it.
Tyson: Yes. It was– it was one of those gut punches that you get. You’re like, “Oh, shit.” So—
Jim: Did you cry? Did you cry? I hope you were crying.
Tyson: I was not crying. But I, instantly, was like, “Okay. We’ve got to fix this.” So, I think we’ve implemented some policies to fix it. But, yeah, it was one of those numbers that it was—I’m glad I know it, but I didn’t want to see it, so. But very good.
All right, Gyi, Conrad, I’m not just saying this, one of my favorite episodes we’ve done. So, a lot of—
Jim: Yep, for sure. That was great.
Tyson: Yes. Thank you so much for coming on.
Gyi: You guys are just saying that [laughter].
Tyson: Totally. Totally saying.
Jim: That was great.
Conrad: Wait till I drop off and they’ll be like, that was terrible, man. You guys—
Gyi: No. Thanks so much. I was really looking forward to this. Great chat. Love what you guys are doing. Folks, seriously. I tell everybody– every conference I go to I’m like, who’s doing a great job building community online? I’m like, go see what they’re doing with Maximum Lawyer. It’s really impressive stuff. So, nice job. And really grateful to be here today.
Jim: Thanks guys.
Tyson: Thanks. See you on Twitter.