Search Interviews:

Jeremy Weisz  18:41 

What are their mistakes? I’m sure you’ve seen a bunch of crazy stories throughout the years, what’s another so one, you go “Contact Us” page lead to a 404? And who knows how much they were spending on traffic and SEO and everything? What’s another big mistake you’ve seen people make?

Rafi Arbel  18:59 

I think that you see this a little less often now people are getting a bit more sophisticated. But the writing on sites and sites where they don’t spend enough on the writing, you can really tell it’s very thin. It sounds like it was written in a developing country, or even worse by well, AI is not necessarily even worse, but poorly written. And it’s a poor user experience. At the end of the day, what we’re focusing on, on all elements is what is the user experience like? And also there are other technical parts of a website that need to be done right if you want to be found, it needs to be fast enough. The pages need to be substantive enough. And that doesn’t necessarily mean long enough, but oftentimes it does. And then a lot of times if we want to take this up a bit in terms of competition, like those are the easy things to do. But the more challenging things are, you know, everybody wants to write a page on car accidents, which are the pages that rank on page one? And why are they ranking on page one? Well, the only way you figure that out is if you go through all the pages on page one, and look at all of the elements, that they’re using another page to succeed, and then look at your page and see if you have those elements. That’s really a labor-intensive job. But that’s what we do. Because we know it’s a highly competitive space. And we want to make sure that our pages have everything that our competitors have. And then we’re not falling behind in any part of the substance that needs to be on the page.

Jeremy Weisz  20:40 

Rafi, every company has some funnel, whether they know it or not, right? So it’s like, okay, let’s say you are doing SEO, you’re doing pay-per-click ads, doing paid ads, they go to the website, it’s functioning as it should they click on the Contact, someone picks up the phone, right. So now I know that you actually will listen to calls and give suggestions. Because everything could also fall apart there. Absolutely. So what are some of the mistakes that people are making when answering the phones that you’ve seen that you’ve coached them?

Rafi Arbel  21:26 

Great question. So for the consumer market, personal injury lawyers, divorce lawyers, criminal lawyers, immigration lawyers, the sort of lawyers that we have market, your prospective client is looking for help. They’re looking for a firm to solve their problem. They’re not necessarily looking for your firm, and they don’t really care necessarily who you are, as long as you can solve the problem. So we suggest that when people answer the phone, they identify the type of law they practice. So picking up the phone and saying Injury Lawyer, excuse me is far better than saying this is Dewey Cheatham and Howe law firm in Chicago or whatever the long name is, that just adds noise. They’re not listening to the name. They just want to know that they’re talking to an injury lawyer. And when you don’t answer the phone injury lawyer and you give the full firm name, especially if it’s a long one, you often hear prospective clients, the caller say, wait, did I reach the law firm? Because they’re not sure where they reached? So just save the prospect the pain and just tell them what you do, immigration lawyer, how can I help you. And they’ll go right into it. And then later, you can tell who exactly you are. I’d say another major mistake is putting the client on hold right after you say hello, without getting their name and number. There are times that every intake department is overwhelmed with calls and no one puts a caller on hold voluntarily, it’s only because you have too many calls coming in. But if you put them on hold, and you don’t take their name and number and they get tired of waiting, you have no way of calling them back. So best practices absolutely take down their name and number. And even if you can, at least their legal issue, how are you injured, you might not have enough time for that, but at least their full name and number. A third suggestion if you want more. A third suggestion is don’t act like this conversation is to benefit you. It’s to benefit the caller. And if you don’t adapt or adopt that philosophy, then you’re likely to get bad Google reviews. If you do adopt it, you’ll get good Google reviews. And I’ve heard both sides of this. There are some firms that as soon as they realize that there’s not a prospective client on the other end of the line, that they’re not qualified. They get off the phone as soon as possible. There are other clients who treat the caller like they would want to be treated themselves. They listened well. They are genuinely concerned. And even if they can’t help them, they direct them to where they could get help. And they explain to them patiently, lovingly, why they can’t accept the case, and what their options are. And those lawyers are always a pleasure to deal with. And their Google reviews reflect that.

Jeremy Weisz  24:35 

I love that. No, thank you because there’s so many parts of this process that can drop off. Right a lot has to happen for something to be successful. So it’s pretty amazing. You actually listen to the calls and give good feedback on that. But that’s some great advice too. I’d love to talk about, we mentioned the criminal lawyer. And I know you have a lot of different types of lawyers too. There was a divorce lawyer. What did you do with them?

Rafi Arbel  25:13 

Denise Erlich in DuPage County, one of my favorite clients, she started her practice, oh, maybe six or eight years ago, she came to me and she was on a shoestring budget, she just left one firm and she was going off on our own. We met at the Starbucks. And she’s trying to decide between Market JD and another agency, and she decided to go with us, we were very happy. And she wasn’t sure if she was going to be able to compete and survive. And we worked very closely together and created a website for her. I think we’re now on our second or third that we just released. She is so busy now that we’ve removed free consultation at the top and remove the word free. And we remove the live chat because she just can’t take any more business. She’s so busy, that she’s turning away new clients for the moment.

Jeremy Weisz  26:08 

What is your thought on live chat for a law firm or for anyone? I’m curious, your perspective. I’ve heard some people go “yes, we love it.” And some people say it’s a lot to manage if we have it.

Rafi Arbel  26:24 

The great thing about live chat is that you don’t have to manage it. We have a team of people that respond to the chats, and they just send you the results. So they do have self-managed live chat. And that’s more than you probably want to take on because you’re not in the business of live chat. You’re in the business of practicing law. So let us do the chat and bring you the client in to send you the transcript. So I get some lawyers that say to me, Rafi, I never use live, I would never use live chat. Well, they wouldn’t use live chat on their own sites. But when you ask them if they went to Northwestern University, or Northwestern hospitals, or rush hospital, or any of the people that they use as a vendor in their personal lives, if you saw a live chat there, have you ever used that? I’d say 80% of them have. And then I tell them while your prospective client is viewing their experience with you, much like your experience with Northwestern hospital. And some people like to talk on the phone. Some people like to fill out a contact form. And some people like to fill out the live chat. So don’t paint your prospects picture. Let them paint their own picture, let them communicate with you in a way that reduces their friction. And the transaction cost. If it’s easiest for them to do the live chat will give them that option. It’s a low-cost option for you. And you may capture many leads that you might not otherwise capture.

Jeremy Weisz  27:59 

I’m also curious so, I know you help criminal lawyers, divorce lawyers. Another category is PI. Why PI, it seems like just ultra-competitive.

Rafi Arbel  28:12 

It is ultra-competitive. And perhaps they need us the most. My biggest client is Inc in law in Chicago, Howard and I were vendors at Wrigley Field together. And when I was just starting my agency out, I was going door to door trying to get anybody who would listen to me to do business with us. And Howard was one of our first customers. And he’s been with me ever since. And since that time, he’s probably increased his budget by about 20-fold. And the number of lawyers has increased and the staff is increased. And everything has gotten pretty big over there. And we’ve just grown with them. I certainly can’t take all the credit. Howard is a marketing genius in his own right. He’s really an excellent marketer. I think I learned as much from him as he learns from me, but we make a great pair. And what I like about working with people like Howard is that they’re genuinely interested in their own marketing. It’s not just about writing a check. But it’s really about becoming a partner together and trying to solve these marketing problems together. And what I like about a lot of my relationships, like my one with Howard, is that not everything we do is a success. But everything we do, we put in 100% and we’re transparent with the client. And so once you understand that as our client, then you realize that you have a partner who’s going to tell you the good things and the bad things. And when we fail, we fail fast, and we move on to the next step opportunity. Because if you don’t experiment, and you don’t try, you’ll never know what works and what doesn’t. And that’s really the sort of client that I enjoy working with the most.

Jeremy Weisz  30:13 

Yeah, I want to also say, Rafi, you did introduce Howard as a guest on the podcast. So that’s a great episode as well. And we talked about how he built his brand and authority in that competitive space. And he’s just a force to be reckoned with in Chicago. I mean, I think he’s talked to everyone when I was doing research for his talk to every moment of every but many, many Chicago sports celebrities, he could be seen with Howard on commercials and other things. So it’s pretty unremarkable what he did. I do want to talk about the business a little bit. And you talked about the stuff that succeeds the stuff that doesn’t succeed, not everything can succeed. Talk about culture of experimentation.

Rafi Arbel  31:09 

So I would say the thing that most differentiates Market JD from other agencies is this culture of experimentation. What I realized long ago, is that the secrets of SEO, and the secrets of pay per click, cannot be found in books cannot be found on the online websites, and they can’t be found in conferences. The only way to really learn what works is to experiment. Obviously, you can learn a lot from those other sources. But those are available to everybody. And not everybody is showing up on page one. And so we incentivize our people to experiment and see what works, maybe we add more internal links to a page and see what happens, maybe we reduce them, maybe we change the anchor text, maybe we increase the keyword density, or maybe we increase the length of the page, or maybe we reduced certain things. The point is, unless you try, you don’t know what works. And so sometimes it succeeds. And sometimes it fails, but where it’s failed, I can always unwind it. And now I’ve learned that this doesn’t work. And by the way, just because it works on one side, doesn’t mean it works on the next one. So we never take anything as gospel. We’re constantly trying to find new ways of doing things. And that’s the only way we really learn.

Jeremy Weisz  32:47 

What are some ways you incentivize staff to experiment and not be afraid to fail? Because then they have to answer to Rafi.

Rafi Arbel  32:59 

So we have an experiment sheet for SEO, and we have an experiment sheet for pay-per-click. And we review that. So they have to have enough experiments every week. Because every week, I meet with them for about two or three hours. And we review one-quarter of our clients’ campaigns together. And so they are directly accountable to me to fill out enough experiments and report back to me. And if they don’t, then it’s not a good relationship. So they know they need to have the experiments. And over time, they’ve understood that when the experiments fail, that’s just as good as a success. Because it’s one step closer to a successful experiment. We won’t get to the successful water till we’ve kissed a couple of frogs.

Jeremy Weisz  33:52 

Yeah, no, I love how your experimentation there’s accountability built into it. And there’s a process there. Talk about systems, like for a business systems are really important. Obviously, you have a system for experimentation. Talk about some of the other systems you’ve set up.

Rafi Arbel  34:12 

So as I’m sure you’ve read James Clear, his book, Atomic Habits, one of his concepts is no one rises to the level of their goals, they fall to the level of their systems. And today, I was on a team meeting, and we’re building a portal. And I was looking at some of the deliverables that my team came up with. And I was thinking to myself, oh, my gosh, if I had to keep track of all this stuff myself, we would have never come up with this. And I thought in the back of my mind how thankful I was that we’ve put together a system to follow to ensure that we get the best result so that somebody like me, or someone like them, doesn’t have to remember everything all the time. In fact, it’s very hard to remember much at all, you’re generally thinking about one thing. So having those systems in place in an industry that is so detail-oriented, and so process-oriented, really helps guarantee that we do things the right way. So we use ClickUp, as our task management system. And every department is responsible for coming up with a breakdown of all the tasks that they do, and the subtasks that make up that task. And then we incorporate those into templates. And every time we need to do a certain thing, we drop that template, assign those tasks, and then make sure that those tasks are done. And I just don’t know how you can run an agency without having those sorts of systems in place. And we also use Microsoft Teams. And it’s a very built-out system of communication. So for example, I think this is true for every business. We don’t allow people to have conversations between individuals that are tied to a client. So if you’re gonna have a texting conversation that needs to be done in that section of teams, so that everybody can benefit from it. Everybody can read it, everybody can see its history. If that conversation is done separately between Joe and Mike, then only Joe and Mike are privy to the conversation when it might be relevant to anyone who’s working on that client.

Jeremy Weisz  36:37 

So it’s kind of like the Microsoft version of Slack. So it’s a public channel, essentially. And so there’s a collective knowledge of gained in that in that particular clients channel, I guess you could say,

Rafi Arbel  36:52 

Exactly. That’s exactly right.

Jeremy Weisz  36:54 

So systems talk about, I don’t know if this other tech stack stuff. So you mentioned ClickUp, you mentioned you like using Microsoft Teams, what other tech is in your arsenal?

Rafi Arbel  37:10 

Well, I do use HubSpot for CRM, we try to keep our tech stack relatively short. Because we don’t want too many platforms for people who are writers have gone off the range. And they’re using Trello. Because they don’t like ClickUp as much. They’re sort of self-sufficient. So I’m allowing it, and I close my eyes to it. But I’m not very happy about it, because it could spiral out of control of every single department had their own way of keeping track of things and communicating then that it sort of breaks down over time.

Jeremy Weisz  37:49 

What about culture in general? I know he talked about the culture of experimentation. But what about culture in general? What are the things you do for staff retention?

Rafi Arbel  38:02 

That’s a great question, Jeremy. I’ve thought about this a lot. And every agency now has remote workers, there’s no reason not to. And our team is around the United States and really around the world. So the only way we can communicate around the watercooler is the virtual watercooler and we have meetings every single day at Market JD, some are as long as four hours. Some have even been longer than that. But every Monday is our SEO meeting every Tuesday is our admin meeting, every Wednesday is our PPC meeting every Thursday is our website meeting. It’s very defined. And during those meetings, we get a lot of work done, we go through every client and every project. And in doing so we get to know each other very well. And it develops an understanding that you don’t get working individually. The other benefit is people get to know each other, trust each other, they get to know each other’s families, it really feels even closer than in-person office. Because oftentimes in an in-person office, you’re not really getting to know your colleagues because you’re behind your door and not networking with them. And so, one other benefit I found in this is that new people get trained very quickly, because when they sit in on the meetings, and they see the structure of the meetings, and they learn from all of the dialogue that happens and people feel a sense of belonging, and they genuinely love participating in the meetings, they talk about it. They feel a sense of camaraderie, they feel a sense of connection. And they get a sense of accomplishment because people are working on things collaboratively and they have an incentive to get along. So everyone that we hire has to get along with everybody else because we’re working together so intensely and it’s really a great thing. It keeps people together. I think it’s more rewarding for people than making a little bit more money per hour per year. Because work environment is everything. It’s where you spend most of your time.

Jeremy Weisz  40:14 

That sounds like the key for your retention is the camaraderie and the camaraderie, and learning and mentorship comes from the meetings. How do you structure meetings?

Rafi Arbel  40:27 

So we loosely use EOS, which is the entrepreneurs operating system. And we don’t have an implementer or sort of self-implementing. But the foundation of EOS is an L10 meeting. And an L10 meeting is a very structured meeting. And it’s structured so that a business, a small business can prioritize those objectives and campaigns that are most impactful and most significant for the business. And we break that down by department. So our SEO team has their most important objectives are called rocks. The PPC team has their rocks, every team has their own rocks, and those rocks have to be completed within 90 days. And every part of that meeting is very structured. And it really is a well-thought-out plan to ensure that you operate most efficiently. You address the urgent, but you don’t ignore the most important.

Jeremy Weisz  41:34 

Yeah, I want to encourage you that there is, I did have Gino Wickman on the podcast, he wrote Traction and was creator of EOS. So check out that interview. And also, if you want to learn more, you can go to the book Traction is great. What are some of your favorite books Rafi? I know you mentioned Atomic Habits, obviously Tractions Gino Wickman. What are some of your favorites that people should check out?

Rafi Arbel  42:00 

I did love Good to Great. I commonly even though I read it a long time ago, I think about it a lot. Because some of the principles there are so fundamental to doing well, that it’s important to keep those in mind like getting the right people in the right seats on the bus is critical. So I was interviewing today for a client success manager. And I wasn’t so concerned about how many years experience they had I was more concerned with are they curious? Are they pleasant? Are they conscientious and detail oriented? They have some of those skills, they’re going to be a bigger success than people with five years experience without those skills. So I liked some of those books. I do read a lot of newspapers every day I read The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The New York Times. So for me it’s a little bit more of a fight to read through books than it is the journals. But yeah, I like some balance too.

Jeremy Weisz  43:12 

Rafi, I have one last question. Before I ask it. I just want to thank you. Thanks for sharing your journey with us your lessons everyone can check out to learn more. My last question is, you mentioned you’re vendor at Wrigley Field and dates back to you did this with Howard Ankin, what were some of the lessons you learned from being a vendor at Wrigley Field?

Rafi Arbel  43:39 

That is a great question. It was one of my favorite jobs. I think that probably was the genesis of my desire to be an entrepreneur. Because working as a vendor has a lot in common with entrepreneurship. Your efforts is the thing that gets rewarded the most we were fully commissioned. And the earlier you got to Wrigley Field, the better product you got. So if it was a 120 game, we would sometimes get there by 10 o’clock. Wait outside Wrigley Field on the cement prevents the union head to arrive around 11:30 to hand out your product for the day. And the people that were in the front of the line are the people that got the best thing. So when we got there in time, I wasn’t old enough to sell beer but I could sell Pepsi and that sold well on a hot day. And that was far better than selling cotton candy or any of the products that the guys at the end of the line sold. So the hustle back then and even now gets rewarded. Treating people kindly. Thinking on your feets, doing what you love. I loved it. So it was a pleasure to be out there. I loved listening to Harry Carey, sing the national and I would always stop. Other vendors would keep going, I would stop and belt out the national anthem and take me out to the Ballgame. And almost every game after the seventh inning, I said, I’m done. I put away my product and I’ve watched the rest of the game. And so it was really a labor of love. I made great money for a college student and I worked hard, and I felt great at the end of the day, and I’d like to think that a lot of those same things are true today. I still do what I love. And I feel great at the end of the day working at Market JD, a different experience but similar in some regards.

Jeremy Weisz  43:39 

Rafi, I want to be the first one to thank you. Everyone, check out more episodes of the podcast check out and we’ll see everyone next time. Thanks Rafi.

Rafi Arbel  46:02 

Thanks, Jeremy. Great talking to you.