Chris Dreyer is the CEO and Founder of Rankings.io, a hyper-focused SEO Agency that’s been dominating the personal injury niche. Chris and his team have been growing exponentially and are now up to $500,000 in monthly recurring revenue.
In this episode, Chris shares his best practices and walks us through the strategies that have made him the industry leader in this highly lucrative niche.
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Joe Troyer 0:03
Hey Everybody, it's Joe Troyer, and today, today's podcast episode is a little unprecedented. See, whether you saw it or not, a couple of weeks ago, I sent out an email talking about this amazing podcast interview. I just listened to with this guy crushing it with SEO helping a personal injury attorneys. And I said, man, if anybody knows this gentleman, let's get him on the podcast because I'm a little miffed that, that I'm listening to them on this podcast instead of mine. And that name folks is Chris Dryer, and we got Chris Dryer here today. So for those of you guys that don't know, Chris, I got to give him some props I came across Chris completely cold I was looking for industry based expert selling marketing services. I was scouring the web, it was one of those, those those efforts that you started out, you think it's gonna take 10 minutes and the next thing you know, you've been doing it for three days. That was one of those. And Chris was somebody that really stood out. I thought he did a great job, really positioning himself in a marketplace. And fast forward to today. I mean, that's literally been years. Chris is absolutely dominating his Industry doing over 500,000 a month. MRR in the personal injury niche. So Chris man, welcome to the call. Super excited to have you,
Chris Dreyer 2:10
Joe, thanks so much for having me. I'm pumped. Happy to be here.
Joe Troyer 2:14
Awesome, man. So I want to dive down a couple of tracks as we were talking about right before we got on the call, I want to talk about kind of how you how you got started, obviously, and we'll start there and want to then talk about what do you think is kind of working best for you in terms of providing results for your attorneys. So that all of our SEO junkies and friends you know, get some good, get some goodies, if you will. And then I really want to talk about the agency side of things as well what's worked for you, what hasn't. And hopefully we can dispel some myths and and help people get a little leg up on on what's happening in their industry.
Chris Dreyer 2:50
Yeah, sure. Let's do it.
Joe Troyer 2:52
Awesome, man. So let's jump right in. Let's Let's start at the beginning, so to speak. Tell us about your background. How'd you end up in this crazy digital marketing world that we live in.
Chris Dreyer 3:02
Yes. So I went to college, I really didn't know what I wanted to do. Somehow I ended up with a history education degree. It wasn't really a passion, but I just didn't want to bleed anymore, my parents money away. So I ended up with this history education degree. I was really into sports. So I thought coaching was going to be a path that I was really going to do forever. But it just so happened I got a job at a little high school and I was there Detention Room teacher and also their JV basketball coach, and I had all this time downtime to do whatever I wanted. And there was only so much surfing ESPN that I could do so I typed in the worst possible query ever I typed in how to make money online. After Yeah, yeah, after going through some terrible terrible options, I found Ed Dale's 30 day challenge to make your first 10 bucks through internet marketing through affiliate marketing, thinking about like 20 bucks after the course. But by the end of my second year teaching, I was making well, substantially more doing affiliate marketing than I was teaching. And for teachers, you get paid that summer off. So it was a really easy transition. My second year, I had over 100 affiliate sites, I ranked number one for stained concrete acai fruit double chin, alcohol withdrawal, alcohol poisoning, all kinds of stuff. And I was doing really well. And then that first penguin algorithm hit around 2011 you know, I was cutting corners, I was doing the easing article, article, link building, it was just I wasn't providing value. And my income went from like, let's say 14, 15 thousand dollars a month to like 2000 overnight. So I was like, Oh, shit, I gotta get I gotta do something. So I got on Craigslist, fired off a bunch of SEO resumes and got hired by a local, a local shop. That was a full service agency that served a lot of attorneys and I became their top SEO guy kind of saw what not to do and decided to start my own agency and that's kind of how I got started.
Joe Troyer 5:11
Awesome man.That's so funny, e-zine articles man I haven't heard that for so long but it's so funny. I got the cup sitting right over on the shelf. That's so awesome. I have the same one, literally 15 feet from me for what did they call the expert authors or once you hit ...
Chris Dreyer 5:34
All I know is that was my link source for a long time.
Joe Troyer 5:41
I feel like that was everybody's link source and then a bunch of people tried to copy and get you just kind of did the article marketing method article marketing robot all the different article directories. That's hilarious man. It's such a small world and Ed Dale, I remember that challenge. I was a part of that challenge. I've been involved in the space for probably a year or two before I stumbled into onto the challenge. But, but he was doing things in such a different way. He was like, I feel like like the Frank Kern of the internet marketing space around that time, like everybody knew who he was. He was so different. He made a name for himself for like standing out. And and it was really fun and interesting to watch.
Chris Dreyer 6:27
Yeah, there really wasn't a lot of courses back in the day. It was like random forums. And then like this guy.
Joe Troyer 6:34
Yeah. So cool. So you got started in affiliate marketing, ultimately transitioned into going full time over a summer. You stopped teaching, and then you got hit and hit hard, went back to working for or went to another day job working for an agency. How long were you on your own before you got hit with that with that first Penguin update?
Chris Dreyer 6:57
Let's see. I'm gonna say about three years, I think, I think three years on my own.
Joe Troyer 7:04
So I want to ask you a personal question. How does that affect your ego?
Chris Dreyer 7:09
Ah, so the ego, it didn't hit the ego so much. I knew that I wasn't doing things that were evergreen. I knew what I was doing exact match domains, I thought, you know, I was doing everything and it was kind of like, okay, here you go, you got to get serious now. And I thought that I would do affiliate marketing forever. This is so easy. It's just selling products, no client facing no learning, sales psychology or anything like that. It's just make good websites sell stuff. But I kind of got tossed into this agency space. And I found that hey, talking to clients, it's not that difficult. They're just like me, no matter if they're attorneys or whoever. And, and that's kind of that fear. I had this fear before I actually did it and then I, it was fine. It was it was no problem.
Joe Troyer 7:57
Interesting. Yeah. That's really cool. Glad to hear that I know that like my first my first big failure so to speak after my win, my breakthrough moment was was really damaging. I feel like like you I knew I wasn't doing things probably the best way again doing grey hat, black hat SEO stuff, run an X rummer site wide links on sites with 30,000 pages. You know buying links, I mean being very aggressive. And I knew it wasn't going to last but it was like hey man, like I'm going to do it while I can was kind of my attitude. But I'll never forget that it must have been that update as well. I mean, my income, just like yours fell through the floor. And it hurt my ego. And I don't know if ego is the right word, but it took a while for me to recover just mentally from it. I was then kind of a little gun shy from the experience if you will and wasn't willing to, to leap like I was during those crazy, you know, wild west SEO days, if you will.
Chris Dreyer 8:57
Yeah, I was kind of living by the seat of my pants. Actually. And I was not mature enough to save. I was spending all that money, you know, having fun partying and buying nice vehicles. Um, but yeah, it was it was kind of I know eye opener. I knew it wasn't gonna last but this kind of all came to fruition at once.
Joe Troyer 9:18
Yeah, they're they're, they're good learning experiences nonetheless. 100% good learning experiences. Cool man. So you're working for this agency, you realize like, Hey, man, working with clients isn't so bad. It's just like talking to anybody else. Like we're talking right here. How do you ended up going out on your own hanging your own shingle? shingle and then how do you end up in personal injury of all the niches that you could choose out there?
Chris Dreyer 9:45
Yes, there's kind of a transition here. The first was my sister has an my sister, my brother in law, they have their own plumbing company. It's about 40 people they do over eight figures. They're very, very successful and my sister was like that extra push like you start your own agency, quit selling other people's products, you know, stake your claim. And I remember, you know, I had no, I was an SEO technician, I wasn't I didn't go to business school. So I just started consuming as much as I could. I went to business incubators and talk to as many successful business owners that I couldn, I finally felt confident enough to do it. And when I launched it was attorney rankings.org. So we were I, I'm going to put in air quotes here full service, because we know that's not really true, full service, but we did SEO, PPC design, a little bit of social media. And when I launched it was basically like, Look, if you want me to do something, I'll get it done. And like I would take any project because at the beginning I couldn't be too selective with what projects I had to take. I just I had to make revenue. And I remember like, one of the earliest projects I sold 14 SEO audits and for like 1000 bucks each and I was just like, Oh my gosh, and I just remember grinding those out and doing them all manually. I didn't have any assistants. But anyways, a lot of my transition it's it wasn't it was there was a catalyst to it but there was always a data component for the so the first half of the first few years I ran you know, I we kept track of our CRM we kept track of our our we look at our p&l and I noticed that SEO was like 80% of our revenue. And we had designs in PPC, and the margins weren't great there. Now there were things that I were doing wasn't doing too. I could have improved the margins could have charged more could change my pricing model, but I ended up saying, Okay, first I'm going to refer out all PPC. And the thought behind it was then PPC only agencies could refer to an SEO agency with no threat of poaching. So it makes it easier for that for them to send to me and that's also my core competency SEO. So what happened was, my revenue didn't decline, it actually increased because then I started getting more referrals. And then the next year I looked at design, and I, I had always thought the design was a Lost leader, you sell them design, then you sell them marketing services. But I was actually an enigma. Nobody was buying sites for me on the front end, there was always the back end or an existing client that wanted their site upgraded. Well, someone else can do that. Right. So then I, we decided to get rid of design. And we were just law firm SEO. And fast forward to the beginning of I believe it was right at the beginning of 2019. I'd heard an interview Seth Godin with Jason Swank, and he was talking about making a remarkable agency and the different types of scaling, you know, through productize and volume or or, you know, just being the best and charging more and I was like, we'd always serve personal injury attorneys really well. We had great results. It was very competitive. And I went and looked at the data. So not only legal, but I broke down each practice area, criminal defense, bankruptcy, Family Law, all the other areas and I found 70% of my revenue was from less than 40% of my clients. So it was like a no brainer, I ended up referring out all the non PI and just kept concentrating on PI. And that's kind of how I got to this hyper specialization. There is some more steps in there, but that's kind of the big picture.
Joe Troyer 13:16
Yeah, that makes sense. It's just toss and iteration. what's working, what's not working? What's bringing in the revenue? You know, what do I like doing? You know, what am I an expert that makes perfect sense. What, what made you pick attorneys to begin with? So you didn't at first say personal injury attorneys obviously you niche down later. But what made you say attorneys is where I want to stake my claim.
Chris Dreyer 13:39
Well, there's there's a couple things I like the competition. I'm a very competitive person. I've got some crazy stories on the on just the non marketing side. But through saturation through a lot of people in the market. It builds up this competition, so I always felt it was more rewarding when I got to page one, you know, ranking double chin or staying concrete these types of things are family law or trademark, it was like, I'm not gonna say it was. It was very easy. It really was. It wasn't there wasn't a lot that went into it, you could just make it happen. And the other thing is, is every I was always hearing in the news, how there's more and more attorneys without a job more and more attorneys and I thought the market was flooded. So I knew with a lot of competition that they would need an expert to really stand out on that first page. So I just knew that there would be a lot of opportunity. And here's another big one that I've came to realize and we may talk about this in terms of Coronavirus, but personal injury specifically, there's always going to be somebody get hurt or injured. Like it doesn't matter. Like it doesn't matter if it's a car accident or trip and fall like people are going to get hurt andattorneys have been around forever. So I just thought it had more security than some of the other niches too.
Joe Troyer 14:54
Yeah, it makes it makes perfect sense. I know a lot of successful agencies right now have really questioned that. Did I go into The right niche and are looking at positioning you know, changing positioning or rebranding even some Uber successful agencies that I know are like I just never want to go through this again and are looking to exit their current niche and go into a different one just because of COVID and kind of the scare that they have went through
Chris Dreyer 15:22
Yeah, absolutely. So whether you read David C Baker's the business of expertise or whoever you talk to you about niching a lot of businesses will choose to horizontally or service do like a service base niche. Well the benefit the big benefit of that is security one one industry goes down you got another industry Yeah, so when I when I chose personal injury, it was knowing that I was going to be industry specific but also knowing ever security that that there was always going to be a need for attorney so it was a little bit safer to go vertically focus there.
Joe Troyer 15:55
Perfect, man. Yeah, that makes perfect sense. All right, let's jump a little bit so that we don't any of our our hardcore affiliate SEOs or SEOs that maybe aren't in the agency space, Chris man, like what's what's working? Well, like fundamentally for your agency, like, what are the what are the three or four kind of core things that you're doing? What do you see as the 80/20 that's gonna last in your agency for the services you're providing.
Chris Dreyer 16:21
So we could go a number of ways we can we can pick a pick a function, whatever you want to do, I'd say, Okay, let's, let's say content. So long form content that answers multiple versions of intent has to be high quality, refreshing content. I don't know why so many individuals will just create a page and then they'll be done but refreshing content. I would say, here's one thing that I've been saying lately, just because you go research a topic and you write an article, and it passes copy.scapes plagiarism score doesn't mean it's unique. It's Google's job to filter out crap duplicate content, wherever you want to say So if you're trying to rank an article, the worst thing that you could do is model the page that ranks number one and just try to make it a little better. That is the worst idea. I've heard that a lot. But it's terrible. You need to change the format, change the structure, maybe have multiple experts on the copy, maybe do a roundup versus sticking the same old research to keyword do the LSI topics. That's kind of a tangent there.
Joe Troyer 17:26
I love that because I feel like especially right now, I feel like that's such a popular topic amongst SEOs is and and there's obviously been a lot of tools out there to aid in this very topic, right to look at what's ranking now and just do it, you know, 5% better?
Chris Dreyer 17:44
Yeah, let's go kind of the on site SEO next. So the biggest thing that I can tell you is click through rate percentage. Well, anything that impacts click through rate is very, very important that could be brand that could be copy written titles and your title title tags, it could be a stronger permalink. It could be a number of things, a great meta description, it could be FAQ schema, all of these components to grab the click is a tremendous benefit for SEO.
Joe Troyer 18:17
Implementing that process, are you looking at doing some some type of analyzation kind of once a month or once a quarter for each of your core customers to see what's ranking and maybe to do a rewrite of the title as kind of a split test? How do you work that into a very large growing SEO company?
Chris Dreyer 18:38
Yes, I think the first is get it done. Right. Get it done and get it right. So first, target your keyword make a great article and but then just don't stop, come back. refresh it, when you plug it in Ahrefs or SEMrush and you see that it's there's it's trying to rank for a keyword. It's not quite covered. The best or Google wants to rank it for a phrase. Just Just go with Google. Don't try to battle Google if it wants to rank it for phrase go with it. And then the thing I will tell you is it's a it's a unique selling proposition thing. It's it's what it what do my customers care about understanding understanding the avatar, and then designing your titles and descriptions around that around their needs, essentially. And that can be just a tremendous benefit to your overall SEO strategy.
Joe Troyer 19:21
Perfect. Yeah, that makes perfect sense. Okay. So recap. content, we talked about kind of click through rates, what else are you seeing?
Chris Dreyer 19:29
Yeah, so let's talk about next let's talk about local SEO. So you want to rank in the map pack there. I'm not going to go down the DBA business name, keyword in the name. We all know that works kind of like the MDs in the past, and they'll fix that eventually might take a while. But the biggest thing that I've kind of come to realization lately about is, again, it's Google's job to filter out crap. So if you have the opportunity to do a directory, and it's thin It's it's, and I'm talking about all this kind of applies to link building to gone are the days where you just go guest post on a Dr. 90 that's a 200 word article and think that that links going to pass a lot of page authority says not even the content you produce on external sites need to provide high quality value because it's Google's job to filter those out. And if they're filtered out, they're not going to pass authority. So the biggest thing I could tell you is make everything robust. I know that's more time consuming, but more images, video, audio, and that really helps with local SEO.
Joe Troyer 20:34
Okay, that definitely makes sense. I think that's probably counterintuitive to most people. It's kind of a churn and burn for most people make the content as thin as possible, as cheap as possible as fast as possible just to get out the door and they view it more as hey, I did the activity. I got it done. And I did it as fast as possible and cheapest possible.
Chris Dreyer 20:54
Yeah, Joe and not only that, it's there's only so many high quality local directories. He's like, why would you make that thin and then go on to another low quality directory. Take your yelps and your Google My Business and your Apple Maps and done in all those sites and just make them beefy and that'd be a huge advantage. Yeah, they kind of switch into I guess link building, I kind of hit the whole gauntlet here. The The biggest thing is doing what we're doing right now. podcasting is just so insane for link building. If you if you can get on other individual shows because everyone does a transcription. They promote these heavily. And it's a great opportunity. And the kind of the trick here is for scalability and from an SEO tactic is go look at Joe's show, go look at my show, run it through Ahrefs, if we have blogs and just see which guests actually referenced the interview they're on and they link back to your post and it's just an insane link building tactic that says not being taken advantage of as well as it could.
Joe Troyer 21:59
I love that you said that I've been talking about this for probably the last 18 months or so. But I haven't seen it used for quote unquote, like local businesses. So that's really, really interesting for your local personal injury attorney. That that's super cool. I don't think that there is a better link building opportunity at the moment that to be honest. So you're doing outreach to kind of help your attorneys land some placements? I guess ultimately then.
Chris Dreyer 22:29
Yeah, it just depends a lot of a lot of times it's difficult, though. So if they don't have a book, or they don't have an something to hang their hat on. But yeah, well, we're work with companies and free subcontractors. Just to get them on shows.
Joe Troyer 22:45
Yeah, that's awesome. Yeah, very easy, effective way to build links, quality links, and like I said, they don't promote it, they get traffic and so that looks good, obviously, as well. I mean, most guest posts these days. That are done the wrong way, so to speak, aren't getting you any traffic or any type. So that's nice to see. Well,
Chris Dreyer 23:08
yeah, let me let me kind of jump in here to on guest posts, he kind of triggered something. So, if you've heard of the Iron Triangle, you can have something that's good fast or cheap. A lot of times people say, well, who's the best guest posting provider? Well, so as if you're looking for something that's maybe cheap and fast, maybe Fat Joe kind of feels that, you know, maybe it's not super high quality but if you're looking for something that's good and fast, it's not going to be cheap. Maybe it's an upper ranks a David Farkas and if you're looking for something that's maybe good, but but not fast, you know, maybe it's a little more cost efficient. There's other there's other link building vendors there. So I think it's a lot of times that gets tossed around kind of incorrectly to its you can have to have the Iron Triangle but you can't have all three Good, fast, cheap,
Joe Troyer 24:01
that makes perfect sense. And I've never honestly really thought about that or made that correlation in terms of SEO. Which is, which is really funny. I feel like I do that a lot in prospecting and talking with prospects. I bring that up, but not so much in SEO. So kind of a little Aha, take away from me, they're cool. So let's switch back to the agency side of your business for a second. Um, what's worked best, Chris, as you look back over your agency, and from just starting out to growing to where you guys are now doing half a million a month in recurring. What's worse, work the best in terms of prospecting for you guys. When you look at like the majority of your portfolio, you look at your clients, your active clients, your best clients, what's worked and maybe what hasn't or what, maybe you got distracted on wish you hadn't
Chris Dreyer 24:53
So it's not going to be a super exciting answer. But I'll tell you, the number one thing is just being very good at what you can, what you do, providing results for your clients, because that will lend itself to retention. You always got this balance, you've got warmth, and competency. And if you can get both of those, so they like working with you and you get results. I mean, that's just that's the whole recipe for retention. But because we hyper niched, so far it made referral situations very easy. So, one of the quickest ways we were that we really accelerated was we found the strategic partners that kind of we filled, you know, maybe we talked to several PPC agencies that needed to source SEO leads. And so that was tremendous. In terms of marketing. There's for us, since we're upstream and our minimum contracts are a lot higher. It's not about broad type of marketing. It's more relationship based. So it's it's meeting individuals in person handwritten letters, you can spend a lot more money to acquire them, interview them on a podcast. Very relationship based referral based. If I you know, back in the day when I was starting when I was kind of downstream, and I have a second agency to its ESQ. marketing that this launched in March, it's about 24,000. MRR. Not kind of new but but going, that's a downstream marketing agency. And downstream is you can do a lot of the cold calling, because there's just a lot less risk, you can lower your barrier to entries for month to month contracts, you can do the pay per click and all this kind of stuff. It's when you're dealing with these sophisticated higher end buyers. It's more relationship and referral.
Joe Troyer 26:37
That makes perfect sense. And I'm sure that that relationship also helps with your that that focus really helps with your referral sources too. Right. You're so you're so focused, and then you get a spotlight, you build real long term relationships, and you hang on to the customer for the long term and it's not sexy, but I mean, that's what ultimately is is growing your company at such a rapid pace
Chris Dreyer 27:03
Yeah, we've just kind of incrementally been really focused on the brand and our reputation and just really tried to deliver results and just hold our clients. That's that's what we've tried to do is just provide great way work and hold them. But to be honest, it's not something we're the best in. But it's it's worked. I think the niching has been a key component to us because we are not great marketers, the niching has helped us stand out in a crowded space.
Joe Troyer 27:29
That's awesome. Um, so we talk a lot about the past man, what's the future you gave us a little a little tickle there. Tell us about different agency that you just got started. Where you goin man? What's the direction look like?
Chris Dreyer 27:42
Yeah, so I'm always man, I get shiny object syndrome, sometimes batten them away. But I'll say so for the ESQ marketing site. What we found was our minimum fees are $15,000 a month at rankings. So we just kept we were turning around these low low budget. pricing model for rankings is like value based pricing. So I couldn't source the low dollar leads, I couldn't find an agency that would take them. You know, I was like, You know what, we can help these clients, it's going to be different. We're going to either bill hourly or, or unit unit base, like deliverable and just set expectations like, hey, we'll help you get the foundation and be an incubator. And whenever you outgrow us cool, so that's what we did with ESQ marketing. And to kind of how we got to that was we looked at our CRM, and we have predefined lost reasons. So for three years, we were tagging a lot why we lost deals too expensive. We have a long term contract. They're non PI. And I was like, You know what, I'm starting an agency based upon these lost reasons. So now I have someone to help these individuals out. So that's really focused there. I've got a great president, Matthew Laurin that runs the agency. And then the other thing that I've been talking about recently, there's two things first, writing a book, kind of build my personal brand a little bit using maybe scribe to help me Tucker max. This company. The second thing is, I hate to say this, but I've really been considering get a law degree. And I want to do it as quick as possible. And the reason is because on our podcast, and because of who our clients are, they're the most dominant personal injury attorneys in the United States, the biggest, like there's nobody bigger than who we're talking to. And we could, they could refer us leads and it could be just a great revenue opportunity, kind of that next area and then I could say, hey, not only are we telling you to do this, because we think it's a good idea and ey by the way, we actually do this ourselves. But that's kind of what I've been thinking lately.
Joe Troyer 29:37
Dude, I love that last piece of it. I never saw that coming. at all. I love that. It's like we're eating our own dog food, right? Like we do what we teach. We're doing it for ourselves and not just in our industry, but in your industry. Yeah. So I love that. That just vote of confidence to is awesome. Like I'm just going to go become a Personal Injury Attorney like is awesome. But I love as well that that puts you on the same playing field, right? I am a personal injury attorney from a prospecting and marketing standpoint that differentiates you from everybody else in the market.
Chris Dreyer 30:17
Again, to be clear, I was probably gonna monetize the entire journey if I did it. Like this is how you you fast track a law agree. This is, you know, all my struggles and even make a course and a story. Kind of, you know, document don't create type of thing, Gary Vee model. I don't know if I'm going to do it. You know, I've googled how to become a lawyer without getting, you know, going to law school. And there's certainly some options there. And I know in DC, you know, they've got all the lobbyists. So they've kind of got around that, but it's still tough being a business owner. There's still some restrictions there that I got to dig into a little further.
Joe Troyer 30:51
Yeah, that's really cool, man. That's really cool. I like that on one of the other takeaways that I had. Is looks like everyone iteration every change in your business has come from, inner reflection, right? It's not some knee jerk gut reaction. It's I looked at our CRM, and we had this field and for the last three years, it was priced, right? And so because of that, we're seeking new opportunities. And so because of that, we realize that we could open up a new, you know, a new company focusing on, you know, the people that can't afford 15,000 a month, and everything that you said, it's like, it's all it's all about the data and the data telling the story and looking at the data for your next iteration. While swatting away like you said, all the bright and shiny objects.
Chris Dreyer 31:39
Yeah. And don't don't get me wrong. It wasn't like, like, I've got the data, the data in front of me and sometimes I just been blind. I hadn't hadn't seen it. And it just kind of became clear. And the other thing is every one of those deals that I was marking for too expensive. I mean, those are future prospects for this agency. It's not like I said, Start from ground zero. They already know who I am.
Joe Troyer 32:02
know you've got a you've got a super, super pipeline immediately of people that like you. Maybe they don't trust you because you didn't get far enough for them to trust you yet, but they probably know of you they like you you're not cold. And now you're saying, hey, remember how you said, You know, I was too expensive? Well check this out. Like that's, that's the hardest part building the customer base building. Like you said, the reputation is the hardest part adding on another service or something else can be an easy win for sure. Almost bolt on revenue, but with a brand new company.
Chris Dreyer 32:35
Yeah. And like anything that that you want. So the whole referral thing, I don't mean to lighten that. So we were very intentional about referrals. I know if you've read ultimate sales machine by Chet Holmes, he talks about his dream 100 so i thought you know, what if I could take that same concept and make a dream 100 referral partners list. So I kind of categorized who would be great referral partners to start nurturing in these relationships, and that's how I got referrals. It wasn't just oh, that there's Chris, I had to, you know, I had to build these relationships with, you know, these specialized agencies and, and the best way to make a relationship is to send them a lead. So I came with a present, so to speak, and kind of had that reciprocity situation already in hand.
Joe Troyer 33:22
I love that, right leading with value for them instead of, you know, putting your hand out and saying, Hey, man, can you refer me some business? Like I'm sure everybody else did to them. So you stood out immediately? I'm sure. So you brought up agencies specifically, are they are all your dream 100 people in the referral kind of mechanism? Are they all agencies are mostly agencies? Are there other types of businesses, what have you found kinda has to work for you?
Chris Dreyer 33:48
So most of them since we're hyper specialize would be still in the agency space, so we only do SEO. So we're talking, you know, PPC agencies design, social media, email marketing, basically anything that, that can provide value to our personal injury clientele. That's the key thing is what the personal injury attorneys really need. The other is there's a lot of software and tool companies, you know, whether it's legal CRM or so those but then I found a couple unique ones in our space, even clothing and apparel. Individuals that specialize in selling suits like high end suits have a lot of legal clientele kind of strange, but those were some of the situations that we fell in.
Joe Troyer 34:31
What have you found works best in terms of a handoff for you guys with those partners? So you build a relationship, let's say that they know like, and trust you, Chris. They're like, Yeah, I'd love to send you some business. what's the what's the mechanism there? You just have them shoot you an email intro like you make it feel seamless or like a good process and not like they're inadvertently signing somebody up for a pitch, right? Like, how,how does that work?
Chris Dreyer 34:57
There's a couple things. So the first thing is most of the time, it's a warm email. But here's here's one thing that I think most individuals do wrong, most individuals will just give one name to that agency. And I don't, I give two to three, because their needs aren't always immediately clear. They, they may not tell you that they don't have the budget, they may even no matter how much questioning you do in your sales process, so they have different needs, and I like to give them options. And there's another reason for this. If I refer them one person, and then they sign up, they have a bad experience. They're like, Oh, Chris is an asshole for sending me this referral. But if I send them two even just two now it's their choice they chose, I gave them two. So there's a little bit of psychology there. It also, you know, and I tell our referral partners like look, send them a couple names. Here you go Good luck. Like what are you gonna say? No, don't don't do that. Now they want. They want referrals.
Joe Troyer 35:57
Yeah, makes perfect sense. And there's no single point of failure as an option then either, if somebody goes, it's not that big of a deal, and you find another partner a little easier for fallout, and psychology wise, it makes perfect sense for sure. So I want to wrap this up. We're getting close to the top of the hour. I super appreciate your time, Chris, this has been this has been awesome. My team did a little digging, and if the numbers are wrong, or things are wrong, let us know. But Eduardo, who, who runs the podcast, did some research and he said that you're up about 100,000 a month since COVID happened? Which is pretty crazy. I mean, definitely. There's some niches that are not doing well. There's other niches or verticals that are doing really well. Most people I'm sure wouldn't think like personal injuries or attorneys are crushing it right now. What what Don't they know what's the reason How were you able to pull out this this awesome feat?
Chris Dreyer 36:55
Yeah, so the first thing I want to make really clear is it's it's not just it's It's not personal injury attorneys because I know a lot of agencies that lost a lot of personal injury clients and a lot of law firms. It's, we do a really good job for our clients. And we've been able to really perform with them. So we're a lot of times one of the last things that they want to cancel, and it's harder. The other thing is, for us, we did increase, we have increased pretty substantially not quite 100 K, but pretty close. And what happened was, we still had prospects, but they were deferring action. So our leads kind of really slowed down in March. We're really slow in April in May. And then we had just a mega month last month, just insane. And I think they were just kind of deferring and that's why we had such a big month. But the biggest thing is this that warmth and competence. Just being transparent, talking to them doing the right thing. We had a we had a couple clients that we paused, they had good reasons like great reasons for them to pause. So what's my option here? Like? No, you can paus, See you later or Yeah, you can pause it restart. Like, I think it's integrity, doing the right things and just being really transparent with your clients. And that's why, you know, during the whole time, we didn't lose a client. That was the big thing. We had a couple of pause, but they came right back.
Joe Troyer 38:17
I love that for sure. The communication is key. I know. We do a lot of white label campaigns and building that invisible PPC. And we see like, we see so many people when COVID hit, customers would want to cancel or pause and they just go for cancel, instead of pause. And we see people that would just like for us to email, hey, my client wants to cancel like you did talk to them right now that I didn't talk to them. You know, so I love the part that you said. So kind of under the radar, like we're having conversations like we're not acting like this isn't happening. we're digging in. We're talking to them. We're working through it together and also being personable and not Just not saying no you can't write if they're in a contract or whatever. So I love that. I'm curious, Chris, what do you see happening now? In terms of the industry trending? Obviously, as of us recording this. It's the end of July. But I'm curious kind of you obviously things have been on the upward trend for you guys as of late. What do you see any predictions? I know it's obviously very hard to tell. But it's it's interesting talking to agency owners in different verticals to see what they're saying because it's very different across the board.
Chris Dreyer 39:33
So looking at the data, like data focused, are leadgen is substantially up so I think there's less fear. I will say that, you know, if there's another big scare that kind of, I'm kind of keeping the cash reserves high just in case something happens and being a little bit more conservative. But I just think that now everyone, you everyone's locked into the Internet but they're at home I think we have their attention. And we know that they're interested in in a couple things. They're they're interested in Coronavirus. They're interested in, you know, their their job situation so you can really dial in to the type of content that you want to produce. And that's a knowing that versus any other time in history. You don't know what people are interested in. We know they're interested in Coronavirus. So give them what they want. But I also think it's just concentrating on long term brand plays building a relationships podcast, things like that.
Joe Troyer 40:38
Nah, man, I love it all the all the unsexy stuff, but it's all the fundamentals and and what I'm constantly going back to people about, you know, I'm talking with an agency owner and they've been around for five years and their site sucks. They have no branding, like they completely skipped all the basics and then wonder why they're having a hard time. Right. So yeah, I think I think it's a perfect time to be talking about the fundamentals. to be honest
Chris Dreyer 41:01
let's talk about that real quick. I know we're getting on the time. Okay. So if you had an X and you had your your X and Y access, yep, bring it, the higher your brand goes up brand is trust, the more your fees can go out. So if you have no brand, you need to charge low fees have low barrier to entry contracts, make it simple for them to test you, because they don't know. But the stronger your brand gets, the more trust there is, the more high the higher, you can raise your fees. So a lot of times are people like oh, should I do a free proposal? Should I do a foot in the door? Should I whatever? Like, how big is your brand? How much trust do you have? that can really help define that too?
Joe Troyer 41:40
I love that man. So follow up question on that since you brought it up. What do you think are the major levers in terms of brand building that somebody could deploy? Right thinking back when you guys have done I think, you know, I found you guys because of content. I think you've done a great job with content, but I don't follow you all the time. I see you guys got a podcast happening. Looks pretty great. But what you think are the major levers in terms of branding?
Chris Dreyer 42:03
Geez, I'm not the best here, I would say just being really aware of what your clients need, and providing that to them. And having a consistent message, really understanding your avatar and being consistent with your messaging, your colors, your image. And I think that goes a long way. So you know, having a style guide, developing your avatar, doing things that can provide long term value for brand, being a resource to them.
Joe Troyer 42:29
I think that's great. I love what you said, man. I'm not the guy for this, but I think you guys have done so well with that. You're doing a half a million a month in recurring for just SEO in one vertical. I think it's a testament to the basics and really nailing them and scaling. I think you've done that brilliantly. Well, I'm curious. hindsight is always 2020. Right. I'm curious in your mind, if you could tell your your old self that affiliate SEO, going back to work for an agency starting a full time job again, like what advice would you would you give yourself if you could?
Chris Dreyer 43:07
so I wouldn't change anything because this is the you know, all that I had to take those licks to learn, but I would concentrate on value. I was cutting corners and instead of developing 100 niche sites, which I add, I probably would have focused in on a handful and really just been the expert in that space because the reality was even back then when I was doing well, the majority of the income came from only a few niches anyways
Joe Troyer 43:31
love it. Alright, so last question, parting shots. Instead of asking you to recommend three books, which I feel like every podcast does these days, I want to do something a little different based upon what your business looks like. Right? So right now, current snapshot, what book do you think has made the biggest impact on that current snapshot and the way that you do business and why
Chris Dreyer 43:58
so Traction By Gino Whitman, EOS, that's having a business framework that ties everything into larger goals and incremental improvement, continuous improvement. It's been just tremendously helpful. So that's the main book. I've kind of like, bounced around on my seat here because I think of a lot of other books, but that one really had the greatest impact on my, on my business.
Joe Troyer 44:22
Perfect, man, I love that question. Because I feel like depending on that snapshot, that time and where the company is in its growth, and how long it's been around, that snapshot looks different, and what people feel like has made that big change or what they can lean on is different. So at different stages in business, that book becomes different instead of just Hey, what three books do you recommend or what's your favorite three books, so appreciate that man. So um, Chris will link up to obviously your sites in in the show notes so we'll make sure that we linked to rankings.io will link up to the rankings podcasts which are running in Also your brand new agency. If somebody wants to reach out to you personally, where's the best place to do that, like socially?
Chris Dreyer 45:06
The best is LinkedIn. I'll accept all connection requests. You can message me on there. And I'll answer any questions you guys have that we talked about on the show.
Joe Troyer 45:15
All right, man, anything else that you'd like me to link up or put in the show notes for you?
Chris Dreyer 45:19
No, we're good. It's been awesome. Thanks for having me, Joe.
Joe Troyer 45:21
Yeah, I really appreciate you coming in everybody. Definitely go check out Chris. Follow what he's up to super, super smart marketer. And you guys know for sure. I'm stalking this guy. So you should to or you're missing out. See you guys.
Chris Dreyer 45:36