Our very own Brandon Wheeler at Wingman Marketing has had the pleasure of joining Marketing for Justice, “The Law Firm Marketing Mix” podcast hosted by Dan Brian. In Episode 7, “Nothing More Important - Managing Reviews for Law Firms,” Brandon and Dan discuss how crucial it is that law firms prioritize getting reviews from their clients and managing their review profiles on Google My Business. You can listen to the episode here and read the full transcript below.
Brandon is Co-Founder and Head of Business Development at Wingman Marketing. He has 20 years’ experience helping shape the Internet marketing space for law firms and has personally coached and consulted with more than 1,000 law firms.
Brandon was also a founding member and at the ground floor of one of the nation’s largest law firm marketing companies, Scorpion Internet Marketing, before jumpstarting the boutique agency Wingman. The team at Wingman is proud to boast that Brandon has managed some of the most successful campaigns in the country.
Brandon is an avid 49ers and Dodgers fan and a lifelong motorcycle rider. He lives in Texas with his family and enjoys coaching his kids’ baseball and softball teams, camping, hunting, and fishing.
Dan Brian is the founder of Marketing for Justice — a side project he launched while serving as Director of Digital Marketing for Riddle & Brantley, a North Carolina personal injury firm. With more than 15 years of experience in digital marketing, Dan got his start in the agency world, serving in roles including digital strategist, account planner, and social media strategist. A former startup CMO, Dan is passionate about helping legal marketers apply the scrappy tactics of the startup world to drive traffic, generate leads, and sign cases.
Dan Brian (00:18):
All right. Hey guys. Welcome back to "The Law Firm Marketing Mix." This is, believe it or not, Episode 7. I am just flying by the seat of my pants. I don't have any idea what I'm doing actually. In fact, just ask Brandon, I was just talking to him a minute ago about how on the last podcast I recorded, I actually spent over an hour talking into the wrong side of the microphone. So we'll try to just continually move onward and upward. How's that sound? So, anyway, today I'm joined again by my friend, Brandon Wheeler. He's with Wingman Marketing. They do some really innovative, cool stuff for law firms in the digital marketing realm — content marketing, social media, you name it. They kind of cover the gamut and I'm really excited to have Brandon back today. And I have a feeling he's going to stick around and be here quite often going forward. So thank you so much for joining us again today, Brandon, and what can you tell us about what's new in your world?
Brandon Wheeler (01:17):
Yeah. Thanks Dan. Happy to be here as always. You are my favorite stop for sure. I always enjoy the riveting conversations we have and the good topics and good conversation. And I appreciate you. So thanks for having me again today. We wanted to talk about something that we all love and we all hate, but we use them very regularly, which is reviews. Yes, it's a dirty word. People hate them, but you have to have them. It's something that if your firm is not in the driver's seat on your reviews, you're being washed around in the water. You know, it's a terrible environment to be in when you don't have a good solution for your reviews. So that's what I want to talk about today. Does that sound good to you?
Dan Brian (02:17):
Yeah, for sure. That's great. I actually don't think there's anything more important honestly than reviews — Google reviews in particular right now. It touches on so many things. I mean, reviews in and of themselves are great, just as social proof, but of course now Google has tied reviews so intrinsically into the whole algorithm for SEO and it's just, you would be incredibly remiss, and I would say actually out of business, if you didn't focus on them and make them a priority.
Brandon Wheeler (02:55):
Yeah, yeah. I a hundred percent agree. And look at page one of Google. What do you see? Well, you know, at the top you've got LSAs — the Local Services Ads. Well, guess what? Those are driven by reviews, as well. Then below that you have PPC ads, like pay-per-click and AdWords, and you can tether your reviews into your pay-per-click ads as well. Then below that you've got the local packs, excuse me, you've got, you know, the local rankings, the Google My Business, which is primarily driven by reviews. And then you've got organic, which you can also share your reviews on. So reviews are dominating the entire internet marketing world. So that's why it's such an important topic that you have to pay attention to. And I coach a lot of my firms on how to get them — what to do, how to gain some sanity in this insane world of, you know, the effect of a couple of negative reviews or, you know, an upset client here or there, who leaves you a one star review. What are you going to do? That kind of stuff. So it's a very interesting, complicated, yet simple thing that you just have to pay attention to.
Dan Brian (04:13):
And you run a legal marketing agency. I was going to ask, and I'm a little bit afraid to ask, what percent maybe of the clients or potential clients that you talk with, you know, what percent of those would you say their first pain point is reviews?
Brandon Wheeler (04:33):
I would say it's in the high 90%, honestly, it's gotta be. It is rare when a firm comes to me with a rock solid plan, you know, hundreds and hundreds of reviews, but it's really, it's more than that actually. It's a process. It's do you have a process that is a part of your everyday practice? You know, you answer your phones. Do you get reviews? You do intake well, do you get reviews? You get a good success and a good outcome on a case, well, are you getting reviews? It has to be a part of the entire law firm's DNA. And it's rare when a firm comes to me and they have that process completely buttoned up. It is just so rare. I mean, I think that, you know, there are two problems, really. There are bad reviews and that's a whole other topic that we can get into. And I want to talk about it later on, but there's also, you know, volume. It's a volume game as well. So it's very hard to look credible when you're stacked up against a firm that has, say, 300, 400 plus reviews, and you've got maybe 27.
Dan Brian (05:46):
It's a social proof thing again. But you mentioned process and I fully agree that there is nothing more important, related to reviews, than having a process for your firm to be proactive in trying to get as many as possible and trying to get, you know, as good of reviews as possible, as well. And I'm hoping that Google isn't listening because, as we can talk about later, Google has a whole policy against "review-gating" or whatever they call it, but we can dig into that later. But what are some of the best processes that you've seen law firms set up for themselves to be proactive in getting good, new five-star reviews? Like, what are you seeing out there that firms are doing well?
Brandon Wheeler (06:35):
Great question. And it's a struggle for most firms to get a good grip on that specific thing. It's whose job actually is it? Is it the attorneys? Is it the office manager? Is it the paralegals? Is it the receptionist? Is it the intake people? Like whose job is it really? And the answer to that is that it's everyone's and it has to be pushed as in, it's every single person's job in the firm to create a good experience for their clients and then ask their clients potentially. And I know, of course, we're not supposed to ask for them, but you know, you miss a hundred percent of the shots you don't take, right? That's what Wayne Gretzky says, right? And honestly, I've seen people, and I think we talked about this in our last conversation, on intake get five-star reviews. They had a good intake call, even if they didn't accept the case, but the person loved the interaction that they had. Well, that's a happy camper right there. Ask them to leave you a quick little note. It was worth your time to have the conversation. You gave them 30 minutes, 40 minutes. You talked to them about their case, even if you couldn't help them. Well, that's someone who you could get a review from. And I thoroughly believe that every single person in the firm has to have this as one of their daily activities. It's, "Who have I impacted in a positive way?" And, "Can I get some good feedback from that person?" And so, process-wise, there's a lot to it. But as a kind of 10,000-foot view, I believe holistically that it has to be a part of, like I said before, the DNA of the firm. Everyone's got to ask for reviews. Everyone has to be in that mode all the time. And we live in an immediate return environment, right? We live in this environment where it's like, "No, no, no. I want it now. I want it. Now." Now the cool thing about a review is they post it. You can see it almost immediately, unless you're talking about Yelp...
Dan Brian (08:36):
Dear God, we'll get into Yelp here in a few minutes. I don't know. I may have to designate this episode as explicit by the time we're done with that. But we'll see what happens.
Brandon Wheeler (08:49):
100%. So you've got this immediacy, this immediate return, you know? The environment that we live in, where, you know, you post a review, it goes up there right away, but it's not going to move the needle on your internet marketing. One or two reviews, you know, a month, it's not really going to do a lot. You're not going to see it boost your rankings up to page one. You're not going to be kicking the tail off of your biggest competitor by doing that. But it's almost like you're setting up infrastructure. You start getting, you put a process in place where you are getting a steady flow of reviews every single week, every week, every week, every week. And I know I sound like a broken record to my clients. Like, more reviews, more reviews, and you do that long enough, on a long enough timeline, you're going to compete with all of the competitors in the space. End of story, full stop. That's it. I've had guys just, you know, one of my favorite stories is I've got a guy who went off on his own. He was with a big firm, went off on his own. And he had asked me, he said, "Brandon, what is the one thing I can do to help ensure the success of this campaign?" I said, "Honestly, if you did nothing but get me a steady flow of five-star reviews, I can handle the rest of it. You know, I can handle the content piece. I can handle the social media. I can handle everything, but if you can get me five-star reviews, I will handle the rest of it." He went from not having a website to launching a site. He was even getting reviewed before the site even went live. It was crazy. It was before his Google My Business was even claimed. It was a wild time. He got me 65 reviews and this was a midsize market. It wasn't one of the big boys, but it was a midsize market. And he got me 65 reviews before the first three weeks of his campaign. And he went from, you know, back of the bus, you know, sitting in Google's little sand box and oh, it's going to take forever. No, no, no, no. It jumped all the way to the top of page one all the way. Yeah.
Dan Brian (11:03):
I love that. I love what you said about competing with the big boys, because I really think, and we talked last time, on the last episode where we really dug into intake — everyone should check that out, by the way, it was a great conversation. But we talked about it being an equalizer of sorts. So if you can't compete in terms of TV budgets, or digital advertising budgets, you can compete in terms of offering a better intake experience. And the same thing is true of reviews. I mean, like you said, you can go from a high-powered multi-million dollar firm to starting your own shop. And if you can compete with reviews, if you can demonstrate to folks who are searching for a law firm, if you can demonstrate to them that you are credible, that you are sincere, that the experience is good, there's nothing to stop you from competing with other more high-powered firms. There's absolutely nothing. So I think it's something that everyone has to pay attention to, for sure. I love that you mentioned GMB too, because one thing I think that's sometimes overlooked for smaller firms. If you're serving more than one or two even small to medium-sized cities, you should be investigating getting yourself multiple GMB listings so that you can be building reviews in each of those local markets. I think that's really important. But the other thing I wanted to mention just before we move forward is that you also said that it's everyone's job at the firm to be involved in the review process. And I don't think that anything truer has really been said on this episode, anyway. Every single touch point you have with a client is an opportunity for a five-star review, just hands down, and it could be anyone. It could be the receptionist. It could be someone they're talking to at intake. It could be the case manager. It could be the attorney. And I think everyone needs to be empowered to take that step and ask for a review when it's appropriate. I mean, there's an art to it, as well. I mean, it's not appropriate to ask for a review after you've let a client cry on your shoulder over a lost loved one. That's sick, that's just sick. Yeah, I mean, there's an art to it and I think everyone should be empowered to when they feel it's appropriate to actually, you know, respectfully ask for that review. And so I love the idea that, you know, you mentioned you have a process, you have a kind of workflow in place for getting reviews, and maybe there are specific points along the client journey that you ask for them more formally. But I think everyone at a firm should be empowered to make that ask.
Brandon Wheeler (13:44):
Yeah, I completely agree. And you know, something you said, which I'm going to echo. If you can't outspend your competition, beat them on the experience. Beat them on the relationships you forge and create with, you know, your clients and the people that you interact with. That's where you can absolutely dominate that. That's something you have in your control. Treat them how you want to be treated. It's like the golden rule. It's what your grandma taught you when you were younger, you know, you have to treat people with kindness and they're going through a very sensitive time. Most likely if you're a law firm and you're interacting with them, it's a very troubling, sometimes sad, emotional time. And if you give them the compassion that they're looking for, you're going to get some good feedback. And yeah, you're not supposed to solicit reviews, but I'm sorry. Google may come and knock my door down right now and strike me down. Take me off to Google prison, but you have to ask for it, you do you. These people don't know that this is the modern currency of today's digital world. This is crypto for us. This is everything. And if we don't get these reviews and we don't have a process in place that constantly gets these reviews plugged in, we're dead in the water. Yeah. And you have to have it. I know you experience this too. I mean, you manage a high-powered law firm and you guys deal with lots of office locations and lots of reviews and lots of staff. And I would actually ask you to maybe give us some of your tips, some things that you guys have done or experienced.
Dan Brian (15:43):
Yeah. So I think it's sort of a combination of things, you know, right? We talked about processes, and then we also talked about letting people make that ask when they think it's appropriate. And for us it is really both things. So we do have a process in place for us. The technology that we use is primarily powered by Podium. And I know Podium is a platform that you're familiar with and that you're an evangelist for, as I am as well. It is a little bit more expensive. There are some other great options out there for reviews and reputation management. We can talk about those later on too. There's there's another good one that's a little bit more affordable for smaller firms that we've used before called GatherUp, and I'm gonna post all of these in the show notes, as well so people can access those and check them out on their own time. But we use a system based out of Podium where our first opportunity is really at intake. And so intake can tell us and refer to us to potential clients that have had such a positive experience at intake that they're left with that warm, fuzzy feeling. It's not rare at all that a client or a potential client gets off the phone with intake and they send an immediate follow-up email or a text message saying, "I cannot tell you how much the last 15 minutes meant to me," or "How much that experience has changed my perspective and outlook on what's otherwise a very bleak scenario." We talked about it last time on the last episode, I mean, these are life-changing moments in people's lives and the stakes are very high. And so I encourage intake to let me know if you have a client that is expressing that kind of satisfaction and is that appreciative and it's appropriate again, they're not, you know, they're not holding a Kleenex to their eyes. I mean, you can ask for that review and if they're willing to do that, we shoot them a text. And all of our reviews using Podium especially are done through text messages. It's the easiest way. And they've got a cool technology that kind of integrates with Google and makes the process as seamless as possible for people. But we do that. We also send out feedback requests. So we do a 30-day post-sign feedback request, also using Podium. And then depending on the person's experience so far we may or may not ask for a review at that point. We've also actually built into our CRM a checkbox that a case manager can use at any time. Check that box and say, "This is a qualified review candidate. I am 99% positive that they're going to speak highly of us." And we use that and we handle those out of Podium as well. We do a 15-day post-disbursement survey as well. And then use that to funnel reviews as well. So we've got a lot of processes that are built in, and then we also very, very strongly emphasize the fact that anyone at the firm, regardless of position or role or authority is empowered to, you know, shoot a note out, ask a client for review, work with the marketing team on my end to get that person a text message or whatever it takes to make the experience as easy as possible for them. So that's a super long answer. But that's just a little bit of a behind-the-scenes look at what we do.
Brandon Wheeler (19:24):
Yeah. And I want to kind of praise you guys because of the amount of different touch points along the way that you guys actually ask or can potentially get a review. And I think that's what makes it so strong and why you guys get as many as you do, is you ask for them along the way. And I want to encourage that. I want people to realize there's no rule book here on when you have to do, or you can or can't use your better judgment. Like you said, if someone's in a vulnerable spot and they're emotional, yeah, maybe that's not the appropriate time, but once you've helped them, have them share that experience, and ask them to share it. These are real people, right? Why do people even read reviews and why do people care? We're all kind of conditioned because of Amazon and, you know, filtering reviews. And I like to read the five-stars and I like to read a couple of the one-stars and I don't know what your process is on that.
Dan Brian (20:25):
I always filter right to the one-stars. Give me all the shit. I want to hear it.
Brandon Wheeler (20:31):
Yeah. And you know, you get the products and the firms and the groups that have like, you know, 17,000 5-star reviews and no one-stars, and you lose a little bit of trust and you don't believe it. Because I wanna read a review and I want to see how things were interacted with, which takes us to the next topic that I wanted to discuss, which was interacting with good and bad reviews. It's necessary. You have to show people that you're engaged, that it's not just this robotic process, like, oh five-star, five-star, five-star, and just have this unlimited, you know, endless gauntlet of five-star reviews with no real human connection. That's a problem for me. I would look at that and be kind of concerned if I saw that. I'd be like, yeah, are these even real, you know? Is someone at the firm even reading these?
Dan Brian (21:23):
You know, I was raised in the Midwest, so maybe I have a different outlook on it, but where I was raised, you say thank you. And I think you need to be responding to every single review that comes in. And if it's a five-star review, especially if you've asked for it, man, you better be thanking them and you need to do so publicly. You have to thank them for the opportunity to serve them. You have to thank them for the opportunity. You have to thank them for trusting your attorneys and your staff with what's a very serious personal matter. So I completely 100% agree. You have to be interacting with reviews. It's not transactional. It's something that should be a conversation between you and the client, even if they're dissatisfied. And absolutely you have to be responding to negative reviews as well. I think for me, it's really a turnoff either way. If I see a law firm or a brand for any matter, you know, one, not responding and thanking a client for a five-star review and two, not responding at all to a negative review, I think both are cardinal sins.
Brandon Wheeler (22:36):
In that regard I feel the same way. And I was kind of born and raised on the coast, but you know, I used to spend my summers on my grandparents' farm and same thing. It's manners. And I don't think we see enough of that in today's world anyway. And I think that it's while responding to the bad reviews and letting that person who had a bad experience, get a chance to reach out to them and say, "Hey, listen, I'm really sorry this happened, you know, give me a call directly. I would love to discuss this and see if I can come up with a good solution for you." Just something simple. Something to never do by the way — do not get into an argument with anyone's reviews online. I have one attorney who is a dear friend of mine and he is one of the greatest guys I've ever met. And I love him dearly. And his favorite thing to do is to just talk trash and he will go on if someone goes onto his site or goes onto Facebook and says something less than pleasant about his experience or their experience with his firm, he will just go toe to toe with this person. And that's ridiculous. And he'll start arguing back and forth. And I'm like, please, please.
Dan Brian (23:56):
I mean, you could make a name for yourself that way. I mean, that's one way to get out there, I suppose.
Brandon Wheeler (24:02):
And you know what, maybe that's an algorithm hack right there. It's argue with as many people online as you possibly can in the reviews just to get the interaction higher. Right. Maybe it's weighted in Google's next update for their review algorithm. It's going to be like, how many arguments did you get into this month?
Dan Brian (24:21):
Yeah. I mean, there's something to be said about being engaging. I don't think you have to necessarily get into the specifics of every case in every matter, but I think people want to see that your reply is a little bit more thoughtful, than perhaps just saying, oh, you know, give us a call, you know, whatever. I think it's, like you said, I think you have to be a little bit more nuanced than that. And there's nothing wrong with apologizing. Ever. There's nothing wrong with saying, you know, I'm very sorry your experience fell short of what we intend to make it. You know, there is a way to handle things with a little bit more tact that I think is important for sure. But I love that. Yeah. But I agree with you a hundred percent, you need to encourage people to follow up with you. And if there's going to be an in-depth conversation about the case and how it was handled, or a particular staff member that they found disagreeable or an attorney they didn't like, please, dear God, take that conversation offline, but still acknowledge that pain point for that client in the reviews. I think it's important. I personally look for businesses actually that have a few one-star reviews because it shows that they're not just buying the things. Like you said, it maybe gives them a little bit more legitimacy, but I also look for businesses that when a one-star review does happen, they handle it with some class.
Brandon Wheeler (26:03):
Yeah. It's a big turnoff for me. If I see a one-star review and the interaction with the client is combative or argumentative or blaming or anything like that, I look at that and immediately go, I don't want that experience. I don't want anything to do with that. If that was me and I genuinely had a bad experience, I try and fix it. And if you can't and some people, you cannot fix their bad experiences and that's completely understood. We've all met those people. We know who they are, and we're not going to name names, but we all know someone who is just not willing or able to be pleased. And that's okay, that person will leave the one-star review. And you will say, I'm really sorry, Mr. Smith. I wish it didn't go that way. If there is anything I can help with, please reach out to me. My door's always open. That's it. It's just, like you said, it's a nice way to interact with someone who had an unpleasant experience. They may still gripe about it on there and be like, oh, blah, blah, blah. That's okay. Let them do it. But then you've done your piece. You've done everything you can and then move on and interact with all the wonderful people that are leaving you five-star reviews.
Dan Brian (27:15):
For sure. We talked a lot already about how to get reviews. Some of the hacks that you can use such as asking for a review at intake, or even just empowering an employee to ask for review throughout the process, midway through a case. But once you get a lot of these good reviews, hopefully, what are some of your favorite ways that you've worked with clients on to showcase positive reviews? Like how can you do that with tact? Because obviously you don't want to be showboating or doing what a lot of firms I see do, which is just probably posting 90% promotional content on their social media channels or that kind of thing. But there are opportunities, I think once you have a good stable reviews to promote.
Brandon Wheeler (28:08):
I think so too. I think you're spot on. It's one thing to kind of puff your chest up. Attorneys love badges and there's badges for everything. And I like badges too. They're kind of cool. And you know, you put them all over your website.
Dan Brian (28:23):
Were you a Foursquare user back in the day?
Brandon Wheeler (28:28):
No, no, I was not. I refused. I refused to buy into a lot of the hype on a lot of badges going around.
Dan Brian (28:38):
Yeah. Endless badges.
Brandon Wheeler (28:39):
They have a place and they are important for different things and there's some good peer-reviewed and some good objective criteria that prove that you are who you say you are and that's great. But most people, they don't know enough about the legal space to have any idea what 99.9% of those badges are. You know, there are all these different groups and directories and companies that make it make a healthy living from selling badges. And I think it's a great thing for what it's for what its purpose is. But when I go to a website as a consumer, I want to see what other consumers are saying. I want to know, you know, if I get to your site and you know, front and center is a bunch of links to all of my Google reviews, whether it's Yelp or not, you know, to me that proves that you're willing to put your name out there and share what other people are saying about you. That's important to me because I know going to say you're the greatest. I already know about your multi-million dollar, you know, $10 billion in verdicts and settlements. That's fantastic. But I want to know what Mrs. Smithers down the road said. I want to know what that experience was like. If she, you know, hired this high-powered billion-dollar law firm, that's fantastic. But did they treat her with kindness? Did they care for her and her family in their case and, you know, how do they interact with her after the case is closed? That's something. Ok, you have your reviews right there. Great. What about pictures with your clients?
Dan Brian (30:20):
That's a great idea. I love that.
Brandon Wheeler (30:22):
Yeah. And it just shows to me that it's more than just about the money. Yes, of course. We're all in this to make money and have a good living and live a great life, but show me that you're human, you know, and if you have this attorney and he's got all these great reviews and you can sprinkle in some, you know, actual, like he went to a graduation or a wedding — those types of things for me, that seals the deal. That's my guy. I want to grab a cup of coffee with him. I want to interact with that guy. 'Cause he's real. And he's going to be my friend and my advocate. That's the type of relationship that I want.
Dan Brian (31:02):
Yeah, for sure. And I love that you mentioned putting reviews front and center on your website too, because I think it is social proof. So there's something to be said about, you know, saying it upfront. You can have the nicest testimonials page in the world on your website, but everyone knows those are curated and handpicked and you know, everything else. I mean, no one's going to put the real deal up on there. Not to say it's not the real deal, but no one's going to put the shit up there. And I think there's something to be said about saying, you know, hey, full transparency. We invite you to check out our 300 plus or 400 plus, or even our 50 plus Google reviews. See what real people are saying about the firm. And we're proud of that. And I think that just, again, underscores the importance of responding to every review so that when people do go offsite and they check out the Google reviews, when people go beyond and dig a little bit deeper than your actual testimonials page, which you could put whatever the hell you want on there, you can make it up as you wanted and probably no one would be any wiser.
Brandon Wheeler (32:10):
And some people do.
Dan Brian (32:11):
I'm sure they do. God. But anyway, I mean, yeah, people go offsite, they see how you handle yourself, how you conduct yourself. I think it's something that you need to stand behind and there are some really cool ways to, I should say, some of these platforms like GatherUp in particular, I think Podium may still actually be working on it, but I would encourage any law firm marketer that's listening right now to check out some of the widgets that are available. You can actually do a social proof-type widget that will pop up and cycle through recent reviews on your website. And it's kind of a cool way to introduce people to your client experience that way. I know that GatherUp, one of the other popular platforms, allows you to create and embed an actual Google reviews widget onto your website. And that's just a cool way to make that experience a little bit cleaner and nicer. And I especially like that pop-up though. I think it's really cool. It's the same thing you see when you're in e-commerce and you see the little pop-up that says so-and-so reviewed this product five-stars, 10 minutes ago or whatever, it's the same kind of thing. It's actually very effective.
Brandon Wheeler (33:30):
Yeah. And can I touch on something that you said that I think is so important to call out? Is to make it extremely easy for them to leave your review. And I cannot stress that enough. If you don't have, you know, one of these review tools, like a Podium or a Swell or GatherUp or whatever, that's fine, but you had better make it super, super simple and easy for them to go on and leave your review. If you just say, Hey, would you mind going to leave me a review? They don't know where to go. They don't know what to do. They don't maybe have a Gmail account, so they can't leave you a GMB review. They go to Yelp. Maybe they don't even know where they're going. A lot of the time you have to be very explicit, send them a text message like you guys do, which is in my personal opinion, the absolute dominant way to do it because everyone's got their phone in their pocket, twenty four seven. So if you don't have a way to make it simple, get on that right now. It is an absolute necessity. You have to do that. So I'm harping on it. I'm pushing you. I'm telling you go do it. If you don't have one and you need advice, call me, call Dan we'll guide you down that path. It is something you must do for your client's sake. You cannot just let them go swimming out in the ocean of all these different directories that are out there. They just don't know where to go.
Dan Brian (35:00):
Yeah. At a minimum, you need to be giving people a direct link to the reviews on your Google profile. And there is a way to do that. It's very easy. And obviously these tools, like you said, Podium, GatherUp, BirdEye is another one that we've we've used previously. But yeah, I mean, all of these tools will take them to the place they need to be. But if you can't afford, or don't want to use a platform like that, at a minimum, give them a direct link.
Brandon Wheeler (35:28):
Please do not send them to Google and ask them to search for your business and find your profile and no, you're just encouraging them to go digging on you anyway. So, while you're not most likely hiding anything, that's fine, but getting a GMB link makes it really simple. You can get a very, very simple, short link and you can create your own little kind of custom link too, which is cool. And you can just text it to them or email it to them, but either way, make it simple. And I highly encourage texting it versus emailing it. Most people don't, unless they're, you know, glued to email like I know you and I are, Dan, but I'm old.
Dan Brian (36:06):
So I use email like a text message.
Brandon Wheeler (36:10):
I can confirm that.
Dan Brian (36:12):
Yeah. That's how I do it, but anyway, yeah, I was just on another pod recently, and I was talking about owning a Compaq Presario desktop that was about the size of a mini fridge. So I, you know, yeah. I'm dating myself.
Brandon Wheeler (36:32):
Yeah, so can I, by the way, since we're dating ourselves, I was digging through my garage the other day, looking for something. And in my toolbox somehow some way I found my iPhone 1, my original, and other than the screen being cracked, it's in pretty good shape. I think I'm gonna polish that thing up and frame it and save it for my grandkids.
Dan Brian (36:56):
Yeah. It's about 10 pixels. It's pretty nice. I remember that phone. Actually, my sister had one well before I did, and I remember being extremely jealous. But right now, looking back at it, it probably shares more in common with the Tamagotchi that I had than the actual iPhone I have now. It's really crazy. It's really crazy. So can we talk one second about Yelp and what is happening with Yelp and I mean, where would you, oh man, I don't even know.
Brandon Wheeler (37:31):
Honestly, it's a frustrating group to work with as a marketer, it's frustrating as an end-user, it's kinda frustrating that the, and this is an opinion, of course, you know, yes, it's great when you're in a new city and you want to go look at restaurants and stuff. It is fantastic for certain things. And I thought that what they created initially was incredible. The trouble that everyone has with them and struggles with them is they don't verify reviewers the way that we would like them to. And unless you're a big time power Yelper reviewing-type personality, where everywhere you go, you're snapping pictures of the food, you're writing reviews about it, you're posting it — unless you're that guy, most people don't use Yelp but maybe a few times a year. Maybe you know, I could be wrong, but I know their traffic is off the charts. I don't know if it's inflated or not, but either way, they get a ton of traffic. How often do people actually use Yelp for its intended purpose? And then if they do use it and they go around leaving reviews on a bunch of places, that's how you get to be a verified Yelp user whose reviews will actually show up. But you go ask your clients to leave you a Yelp review? I'd say it's an absolute coin flip if it's even going to show up and it'll get buried deep. And I've heard all the conspiracy theories about like, oh, if you run advertising with Yelp maybe they'll show, and obviously they're vehemently going to be like, no, no, no, that's not true. That's not true. Maybe it's not, maybe it is. I don't know. I'm not here to, you know, call them out on any of the games that they're playing, but I'm underwhelmed and I'm not exactly a big fan of them for that reason. And I even know for great firms, great review firms that do it well, like you guys even, you'll drive people there and you'll get, you know, a dozen reviews and one of them will show up.
Dan Brian (39:37):
It's a shame. So frustrating. It's a shame. We have probably 15 to 20 maybe really bad reviews on Yelp and they all show up. And then we have maybe 120 or 130 5-star reviews on Yelp that are all hidden. So it's a perpetually frustrating thing. I think the good news for legal marketers is that most people are not going on Yelp to find an attorney. Like you said, they're using it for restaurants or they're using it to find tourist attractions or, you know, some other things like that, but Yelp is perpetually frustrating. I'd love to do an episode just on Yelp and we can dig into their business model.
Brandon Wheeler (40:16):
Maybe our podcast will somehow get picked up and someone at Yelp will listen to it and be like, hmm, maybe we should change our ways.
Dan Brian (40:27):
See, I would love that if that were the case, it would be fantastic. 'Cause it would mean that, you know, more than a couple of hundred people were listening to us.
Brandon Wheeler (40:34):
Dan Brian (41:44):
Interesting. Interesting. Yeah. We've talked about a lot here today. But what is the one thing that you would want to leave our listeners with regarding reviews specifically for law firms?
Brandon Wheeler (41:58):
It needs to become a part of the everyday conversation for the firm. It has to, and you've got to put a process in place and it has to become a habit, is what it needs to be. It has to become a no, no, no, this is what we do every single time. And we hit them here. We hit them here, we hit them here. We hit them here and you keep doing that on that client journey. And with that interaction, you're going to start getting more reviews and then magically your Google rankings are going to start skyrocketing and then your organic traffic's going to jump. And then you're going to get more cases and it just snowballs into this great thing, but you're laying track and it's a slow grind and yes, it's frustrating. You don't get instant gratification from it, you know, in terms of your ranking success and, you know, the amount of cases you're going to get, but it does all contribute to the motion. You have to pay attention to it. And if you don't have a process for getting reviews and don't know how to reach out to your marketing group, ask them what they've done, or who they recommend using and all of these things we've done. We've touched on a few, really, really good ones today. You know, things like Podium and Swell and GatherUp and Birdeye. Those are all great, but you have to have a process internally that starts at the top, the attorneys who are listening to this, it starts with you. Push it all the way down and encourage and celebrate the people who get those reviews and make it a part of your daily routine. It has to be habit forming.
Dan Brian (43:30):
Yeah, absolutely. And I think to your point, asking your marketing partner, your agency about reviews and what you can be doing, that's important. I also think I would just throw up a yellow flag for any in-house legal marketer who has had any number of conversations with their SEO agency and reviews have not been part of the equation. I think that's a real warning sign. The two are so intrinsically tied together now that you have to be paying attention to both all at once.
Brandon Wheeler (44:06):
Yeah, for sure. Couldn't agree more. Yeah. Couldn't agree more. It's vital.
Dan Brian (44:10):
Yeah, man. Well, this has been fun. So I don't know what we're going to get into next time. Maybe Yelp. I don't know. I'd love to do that.
Brandon Wheeler (44:19):
I think we should save that one though, until, you know, we're really in the big time and have a bigger audience 'cause I'd like to make an impact. I might need a drink for that one, right?
Dan Brian (44:29):
Yeah. That one will probably require the explicit filter. You have to kind of declare yourself when you upload these things to Apple and that kind of thing. We may have to put a cautionary message on there. Yeah. I think it might be worth it. Anyway, man, it's always so good to talk with you. I should just say, for our listeners, just so they know and full disclaimer, I do work with Brandon's firm, Wingman Marketing. We work with them. Very happy. He would not be on the podcast if we weren't. But I mentioned that last time and I also run Marketing for Justice, a side project where we offer digital marketing workshops for legal marketers. And I encourage anyone listening to check out MarketingForJustice.com and also check out Wingman Marketing online. It's a great, great agency. And I think anyone listening would be very happy to have a conversation offline with Brandon as well.
Brandon Wheeler (45:22):
And I appreciate the kind words, Dan, and you are doing some incredible work here. I love the podcast, obviously I'm a recurring guest now, so anytime you are...
Dan Brian (45:32):
And if I have anything to say about it, you will be back. Appreciate that for sure. All right. Well, take care, Brandon. We'll talk soon.
Brandon Wheeler (45:39):
Dan Brian (45:40):
All right. See ya.