Black Fin’s Marketing Director, Jon Gimpel, sits down with Dr. Oberheiden to discuss how he’s found success with internet marketing, what he still has questions about, and whether new attorneys can find success using the internet to drive leads in 2018.
While we like writing about best practices, industry trends, and case studies, one of the things we want to stay laser focused on is actual, practical, real-world experience.
To do this better with the content we produce, we’re going to be regularly conducting interviews with attorneys who have found success in the internet marketing space, discussing what has worked for them, what hasn’t, and what they’re still wrestling with.
This week, we talk to Dr. Nick Oberheiden, Founder & Managing Partner at Oberheiden Law Group.
Dr. Oberheiden is based out of Dallas, TX and focuses his practice on health care fraud matters, including medicare fraud, DEA investigations, and much more.
Let’s get into the Q&A.
Jon Gimpel: How did you first get started using internet marketing for your law firm?
Dr. Nick Oberheiden: Really, it was just a realization that it’s where client leads are coming from in modern times. There’s been a massive switch from YellowPages to Google, which is undeniable.
Have you used non-digital forms of marketing (billboards, TV ads, Yellow Pages, etc.)? Do you think it’s still worth it for law firms to put money there?
I think it can be supplemental, but it depends so much on the type of law you’re in. For me, being in such a specialized niche, there’s just not an audience large enough that would make sense. But, if I did personal injury cases, for example, I think I would take an online and offline approach.
Which internet marketing tactics seem most important to you today? SEO? PPC? Content Marketing?
You can’t really piece it apart like that. The best approach is always a hybrid, holistic approach. The difference between being really successful and sort of successful ultimately comes down to having a brand and building awareness in as many areas and through as many methods as possible.
That’s definitely something we talk about a lot. It makes sense, the trepidation law firms have with the idea of going all in budget-wise with their marketing, but it doesn’t really make sense to dip your toes in in 2018.
Right, you can’t just say “AdWords works” or “SEO works.” They do, but if you rely fully upon just one or two methods of lead generation, you’re way behind in the game.
What’s something you struggle with in your marketing?
The big challenge I still face is whether or not I should get hyper-specific or cast as big of a net as possible. For example, working in the health care fraud space, do people feel like they need a specialized attorney, or will people just look for a criminal attorney? I find that the younger crowd tends to look for hyper-specialized help whereas the 50+ crowd cares less about this.
I think there’s an argument that Google – and the internet in general – has caused people to think in more specialized ways in that regard.
Definitely, but it does make it tricky on the marketing side of things. When different demographics act so differently when looking for a lawyer, but you want them all, you really have to make some tough decisions.
I’ve definitely seen that with your overall content strategy. Testing different focuses, getting really aggressive here and there and then trying something new every few months.
Yeah, it’s a lot of trial and error and just constantly trying to figure out how to do better.
You’ve also had a number of media appearances where you’ve been asked to speak as a subject matter expert. How do you feel that has helped you and your firm?
Again, not a single strategy works. They only really work in conglomeration. So, being the top organic performer or Adwords performer by itself is not really enough. You need to incorporate social media commentaries, TV appearances, everything you can.
Completely agree. So, overall, would you say that internet marketing has given you a good return on your investment?
I used to say it’s about 7x, which is somewhat of an annual average. But it’s hard to get a really solid, data-driven number. I know it’s good.
If you could provide one piece of advice to other attorneys out there, particularly those just getting started in internet marketing, what would it be? How do they get that 7x return?
It’s too late.
Yeah, if I wanted to become a personal injury attorney, there’s no way. It’s just too late and there would be no point. I see a lot of guys trying to copy me because they’re trying to duplicate what I’m doing, thinking they can mimic my content approach and branding and get the same results. But they missed the boat years ago. Say you’re trying to start a firm in Los Angeles, you’ve just got so much competition stacked up against you that no budget of any size is likely to make you successful. Spend a million dollars on websites, a million dollars on content, and it probably won’t matter.
Yeah, I don’t disagree with you that it’s extremely difficult to start something fresh in a large market. We recently put in place minimum budgets for big markets because we had a lot of firms reaching out to us with small budgets and big plans. And it just doesn’t work like that anymore, things are too competitive. But what about smaller markets? I still see a lot of small town law firm websites that look really bad and still rank pretty well, so don’t you see an opening there?
I don’t know, but in smaller towns, you still have the problem of lawyers in bigger cities grabbing up your clients. If you live 60 miles outside of NYC, aren’t you going to search for a Manhattan lawyer? If you live 30 miles outside Detroit, aren’t you going to be willing to drive 30 minutes to get the best lawyer? Then your small town little site doesn’t really help you… Maybe if you have a billboard in front of the only gas station in town, then maybe you can build enough of a recognizable brand that people will want to come to you. But the internet world is too connected, it’s very hard to get ahead like that at this point.
So you think that, say, a small PI firm in Smalltown, Indiana should use a mix of digital and traditional marketing efforts?
I think so. Again, if people are just outside of Indianapolis or a bigger city, they’re likely to actually search for an attorney there. But if you take your brand seriously and cause people to see you as an authority through more aggressive marketing efforts, you’d have a better shot.
Right, it’s certainly a challenge. So, if all of that is true, what can new lawyers fresh out of law school do to get ahead?
Affiliate with lawyers who get some cases and make yourself valuable to them. That’s how I got started. And work on building your brand. But I don’t think lawyers have any chance of getting out of law school and building a practice by themselves, there’s just no way. You’ve got no brand, no web presence, and the odds are seriously stacked against you.
It’s great that you’ve seen the importance of branding. I think it’s easy to see that as a bit superfluous for some… Like, I provide a necessary service, why do I need a brand? And, of course, it’s hard to describe what exactly it means to have a brand. How would you describe your brand.
Dr. Oberheiden: Well, jokes aside, I have an advantage and a disadvantage. Advantage is I have a unique name and I don’t have to worry about any competitor until my kids become lawyers. The disadvantage is that it’s complicated for people to remember or pronounce my name, which causes some recognition problems at times.
A departing question: I hear English is your fifth language?
What are the others?
German, French, Portuguese, and Latin. I use English about second most, and I really prefer to speak in French.
Quite impressive. Well thank you very much for your time.