Growth Hacking Interview Series #132: Chris Dreyer
I began my Internet marketing journey sometime in 2004 working at a small high school in Southern Illinois when the allure of making money online took hold. In the time since, I have been developing the skills and acquiring the experience that have allowed me to build one of the premier SEO agencies (Rankings.io) dedicated solely to attorneys and law firms. (See More: HERE)
How did you start out as a marketer?
I was a detention room teacher at a small high school and during one of the detention room sessions I Googled “how to make money online”. Luckily, I found Ed Dale's 30 Day Challenge to Internet Marketing. The course was supposed to teach you how to make $10 in 30 days from Internet Marketing. I think I made $20 and I was hooked! That's how I got my feet wet.
How did you get your first client back then, and what kind of service did you do for them?
In the very beginning I started out doing a ton of blogging. I was very active on social media as well. I got my first client from the blogging I was doing. It was for search engine optimization services.
What do you find most rewarding about what you do?
The most rewarding thing that I do is help our clients grow their law firms. We've had some tremendous success stories and every-time I hear that our services have greatly benefited their livelihoods, it's very rewarding!
If you were given the chance to build your career all over again what would you do differently so that you will achieve your dreams faster?
I would have started blogging much earlier in my career. Blogging is one of these best methods for showcasing expertise, building rapport, and increasing the scope of your knowledge. Blogging and the production of content in general is also a core part of inbound marketing and SEO. It’s a really long-lasting and effective way to get exposure for a brand.
How is your typical work day structured?
I would say the majority of my time is spent guiding the professionals on my team and playing a role in the higher-level movements of the company as it grows. I’m in touch with my team constantly and I’m also in the trenches with them working with clients, working on the business, and making things work.
Can you tell us about a time where you had to put in significant effort up front and then wait a long time for success?
I would have to refer back to my first experience with online marketing. That was my first gamble into this industry and I didn’t know if it would pay off or not. So I had to put in a lot of effort to try and get it to work not knowing if it would pay off. Even though the reward wasn’t huge at first, I attribute much of my success to that first win in the beginning. It wasn’t guaranteed but I put in the effort, stuck with it, and things worked out.
You’ve been tasked with redesigning the company’s brand strategy from the ground up. Walk us through your process.
I had gotten the company to a point where it was myself and a small team and we were doing really well. At that point it was important to start thinking about the future. Before the re-brand we were Attorneyrankings.org and I think we could have grown that to a multi-million dollar brand easy in the next few years but after that would we be held back because we only focused on the one vertical? We hooked up with a specialist (Jason Swenk) who works with agencies on honing their brand and services. We sat through a number of sessions with Jason and we were really able to evaluate what our long-term vision for the company was and where we wanted it to go.
I would also say this is part strategy and planning and part waving my hand through a dark room trying to find the light switch. Myself and my team have come up with a plan, we bounce ideas off of each other and we are moving through this rebrand process in the most efficient, non-jarring, and professional way possible based on our own experiences and those of other businesses who have gone through similar changes.
Can you tell us about a past situation where you had to juggle multiple projects with competing deadlines?
We are constantly juggling multiple projects at once. We have clients who are in our discovery phase and ones that have been with us for some time now who are at a more mature level and using more advanced campaigns. In this business there are always multiple clients with varying needs, varying budgets, varying timelines and varying degrees of wanting to be involved in their own search marketing.
What recently-developed marketing strategy, technique or tool interests you the most right now?
Although we have been doing it for a little while, our scholarship campaigns are very unique and effective link acquisition strategies for our clients. We’ve seen some of the most profound impacts on rankings as a result of these campaigns. It’s really neat too because they aren’t just one-sided campaigns for SEO. They actually help market our client’s firms in other ways and help portray them in a positive light in their industry.
What do you do to stay up to date with new marketing techniques?
We are constantly plugged in to industry news sources and reading publications of others in our industry. These could be news-based sites (i.e. searchengineland.com,searchenginejournal.com, etc) or they could even be information from competitors or from Google.
We are also constantly collecting and observing data from our own customers. We do routine reporting and we are constantly measuring and refining our techniques, looking for new tools and re-thinking our services to be the best at what we do.
Can you tell us about a project you’re most proud of from your past work history?
There are a handful of clients who’ve been with us for a while now and they are all consistently showing on the first page and in the first position in Google for some extremely competitive keyword phrases. These are clients that signed up for our full suite of SEO services and I’m extremely proud of the fact that we’ve been able to help them get the results they were looking for.
Which one book/blog post would you recommend every Marketer should read?
This is a tough one to answer because there are so many good books and blog posts out there. One that I found particularly enlightening (especially when it comes to starting a business) was the Emyth by Michael Gerber. It highlights the common misconceptions people have when starting a business and how to avoid some of the most common reasons businesses fail.
What advice would you share with other Marketers who want to become more productive?
First and foremost you have to be passionate about what you do. If you don’t have a love for this kind of work and this industry, it will be much harder to stand out because it does take a significant amount of effort to build something worthwhile.
As long as you have that, my advice would be to choose a niche, a specialization and focus on that. Pick one thing and do that better than anyone else out there. Continue to improve professionally and expand your knowledge.
If there's one Marketing Guru you'd recommend who and why.
Again here it’s hard to recommend just one. Here is a good post that contains some of the most influential people in internet marketing. All of these people would be good ones to follow or read their books and publications.