86. Gary Sarner, ROI360+ Radio Killed the Video Star

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Theres a reason that Gary Sarner named his media strategy company ROI360+. Its because hes focused on strategies that will maximize his clients return on investment. These strategies center around under-utilized channels that deliver more bang for your buckchannels like radio. After all, accidents happen on the road, and theres no television in your car!

In this episode, we talk radio, the media powerhouse thats hiding in plain sight, and how to construct a strategy that will make you competitive with firms that spend three times as much.

Transcript

Gary Sarner

You’re never going to be able to hit everybody every week, because that means you have to buy a commercial or have a message every 15 minutes on a radio station, pretty unaffordable for even the biggest of the big,

Chris Dreyer

the biggest firms can buy their way into any market. But if you’re a growing practice, you’ll need a solid media strategy.

Gary Sarner

So it takes somebody, who knows how to manipulate that audience and reach it the most effectively.

Chris Dreyer

You’re listening to Personal Injury Marketing Mastermind, the show where elite personal injury attorneys and leading edge marketers give you exclusive access to grow strategies for your firm. Gary Sarner has spent the past decade forging deep relationships across the media. Now with his company, ROI360+ he’s helping smaller firms compete with the big dogs by developing innovative media strategies that make the most of under-utilized channels. We talk with Gary about the untapped potential of radio and how to synergize your marketing efforts across channels. I’m your host, Chris Dreyer, founder and CEO of Rankings.io. We help elite personal injury attorneys dominate first page rankings with search engine optimization. Being at the forefront of marketing is all about understanding people. So let’s get to know our guest. Here’s Gary Sarner, founder of ROI360+.

Gary Sarner

It’s actually a fun story. When I was a kid, my father was in the consumer electronics business and he grew his business with radio advertising. So I would just. Go over to the main station he used and got to hang out in the studio with this guy, Craig Ashwood and Australian DJ at WQXI in Atlanta, Georgia. And I’ll never forget sitting there the first day the program director came in with what we would call an eight-track card. There was no digital audio back then. And he says, Greg, you got to play this song, gotta play this song. And it was Lionel Richie. You are. And Craig says to me, if in 10 seconds, the lines ring up, it’s a hit. If they don’t light up, we’ll never play it again. Wow. Immediately all the lights are flashing and. It was a hit and it went to number one and I just fell in love with radio. At that moment, my goal was never to be in broadcasting. I thought I was going to be in retail my entire life, because that’s what my dad did. And he had a nice chain of stores. And in 1986, he called me up and said, Hey, you want to go back to college? You need to go get a job because I just sold my company and mom and I are retiring to Miami. So figure it out. And I had a love for radio. I called up the then general manager of WQXI in Atlanta. And I said, what exactly is it that you don’t work on weekend? Right. And he gave me advice and told me, call my favorite radio station. I spoke to a local sales manager, 1, 2, 3. I had a job in three weeks and my radio career started in February of 1987.

Chris Dreyer

Amazing amazing. And I’m sure you get the feels when you go in there that nostalgia of going into the, into the studio, it probably fires you up. Makes you feel good.

Gary Sarner

Interesting. At the beginning, going into a broadcast studio was so cool, but once you’re in the radio station and you’re part of the fabric of everything that happened. That luster kinds of loses itself. Just like somebody who works in sports, meeting an athlete become second nature. Yet, if you go back to your childhood and you got to see your favorite Chicago, Cub, or Chicago White Sox player, whichever was your favorite team. Oh my God. If you got to meet Ryne Sandberg, that was huge. But for me, radio just became what I did and what I loved and how it moved people day in and day out. And to watch. My clients’ businesses just grow like my fathers did and success repeats itself. And you find formulas that work and you run with them. It’s just like what you do on the SEO side, you have found formulas that you have perfected and mastered to help your clients fast forward, 35 years. Now that I have my own ad agency. I have formulas that work for radio and television to help guys like you make our clients. Look outstanding.

Chris Dreyer

Amazing. And I’m a huge advocate of a multi-channel approach. I think it all, they all kind of complement each other. There’s a tension arbitrage, always happening where something costs more in one area, then it doesn’t get utilized in another area and it becomes a big draw. Let’s talk specifically about the power of radio. And you mentioned something to me on our last conversation. That’s just stuck to me and I find myself almost quoting you. So let’s talk about. The personal injury attorneys listening. Why is radio something they need to pay more attention to?

Gary Sarner

My question to you was where to car accidents happen.

Chris Dreyer

They’re on the road,

Gary Sarner

They’re on the road in their car. There’s a few cars out there that have video capabilities, but every single automobile. Okay. Has audio and audio today, people don’t use the term radio as much because people consume audio the way they want to, whether it’s on an FM or am radio station. It’s on an iHeart listening app and Audacy listening app. And obviously there’s Sirius XM and there’s Spotify and podcasts. But they’re all through the audio system in the car. So listen, nobody wants anybody to get in an accident and get hurt really bad, but they happen every day. How do you touch these people over and over again in an affordable way to get an ROI that makes a difference to the business’s bottom line. It’s with radio. That is. For me and what I have found in the eight and a half years that I’ve worked with personal injury attorneys. Radio makes a difference, a bigger difference than television has ever made for the people I work with.

Chris Dreyer

Why do you think that is? Do you think it’s because TV’s just become so saturated that the costs for that attention has just been driven up? Is it the repetitive sticks in your head? Those jingles? I think I know when I grew up where I grew up in Carbondale, Illinois, I can remember tons of jingles to this day.

Gary Sarner

Jingles work. I have not. Heard many legal PI attorneys do jingles. I have found over the course of my career that when a personal injury attorney does his own radio commercials. So a, he doesn’t have to say non-attorney spokesperson. It’s real. It’s from the heart. Yeah, they want business, but if approached correctly and wanting to actually help the client first and foremost, get better. People hear it over and over again, you’re building your brand because the reality is at that moment of truth, when an accident happens and we’re not talking about catastrophic accidents, where do people go after they’ve had that accident?

Chris Dreyer

I go to Google.

Gary Sarner

They go to Google and now you see a plethora of SEM ads, and then you see the SEO. So the organic search, hopefully they’re using the organic. And if people like you are doing what you’re doing for your clients and getting that search up to the top and utilizing all the backlinks and everything that SEO specialists do. When the potential client goes to Google, they see the name and they’re like, oh my God, I’ve heard him over and over and over and over again. I like him or her. I want to speak to that person. Now when they actually call in. And if the intake team at a law firm does a great job, they’re supposed to ask, how did you find out about our law firm? 95% of the people are going to say where they were last, which was. Google.

Chris Dreyer

Right. Right. The attribution system, it’s very hard to nail down because they’re getting hit from multiple avenues. So why I want to dive into what makes a successful radio ad in the future. But I got a couple other questions here. Why, before we jump into that, why do you think there’s such a disparity? Of the amount of spend going to TV, you know, as opposed to radio, is it because they’re not doing it properly? Is it they want to be seen on TV. They want to have their family see them on TV. What, why do you think that is legal vertical?

Gary Sarner

If you look at the biggest pie attorneys in every market, I don’t care which market it is. They spend the most money on TV. Are they getting good reach? Yes. Are they getting enough repetition? Probably not. And they’re competing with one another over and over again. Multiple ads back-to-back for personal injury attorneys. Now could part of it be some ego maybe who doesn’t want to see themselves on television, but radio will allow far more repetition and. Using the system that I have built, I have found a secret sauce and have built relationships with all the major radio groups across the country that we managed to get the things that we need done for an attorney. And again, I can’t give away my secret. But it’s pretty powerful what we do.

Chris Dreyer

Yeah. If you’ve listened to thousands of radio ads for some of the basics, what differentiates a successful ad from something that’s just average.

Gary Sarner

First off personal injury work does not only revolve around. A car accident there, slip and falls there. Maybe you’re even just being informative to the audience as to why you should carry uninsured motorist coverage. There’s nursing home abuse in many places. There’s medical malpractice. Now not every firm can handle all these cases, but bring the leads in. You have partners out there that if you can’t actually handle that type of case, you are able to farm it to somebody who can, but in my opinion, a radio ad that is from the attorney who comes to the public with authority and knowledge and teaching and caring. That stands out again because you’re on the air seven days a week, anywhere from four to 40 times a day on a radio station. And people listen to radio because it’s local. Because their favorite DJ is there their favorite genre of music? Is there, listen, it’s very easy. I’m sure you have your podcasts, your playlist, and everything. Whether you use Amazon or YouTube or whatever app that you’re using to store your music. It’s easy to plug that in, but you know what you don’t get from that. Any information, local entertainment, uh, morning show. If I were to ask you about morning shows in Chicago, there are a great morning. Well, every single market in America has those great morning shows and that’s what drives listenership to a radio station. A great morning show. And again, Utilizing radio different than television. Most personal injury attorneys cannot afford to buy prime time television. Those commercials are so expensive and probably most people are using a recording device and watching TV when they want it. Unless it’s a live sporting event or news. And some people record that stuff as well. And what do you do when you’re watching something that you put on your DVR, you fast forward on radio, it just happens and you really never know what’s coming next.

Chris Dreyer

Since radio is cheaper than TV, it makes it easier to reach more people. But how do you know you’re reaching the right people? I asked Gary how radio allows you to target specific demographics.

Gary Sarner

Yes. You have a type of music that you like and radio stations are very narrow in their target. So an 80s station, if you like eighties music, you’re going to hear journey. You’re going to hear Billy Joel, you’re going to hear Styx. You’re going to hear stuff like that. And that means it’s targeting somebody who’s probably 35 to 64 years. Now is that a great pie target? It can be, because what do PI attorneys want? Insured people with real good coverage. That makes it much easier to take a case from beginning to end versus some of the other types of stations where they’re very young and yet they reaching 18 to 34 year olds, but they might not have. The type of insurance that the attorney wants to deal with. But on the flip side, you’re building brand equity over and over, because what happens to these 18 to 24, 25 to 34 year olds, they all of a sudden get real jobs. They get married, they have children, they become responsible and oh, They end up with real insurance. So targeting for any PI law firm is, is an art. And it’s a real conversation because some people, some PII attorneys don’t want to target this. They want to go this way. And you’ve got a lot of markets today where Spanish radio stations do very well. If you don’t have somebody on your staff in intake, that’s empathetic. And speak Spanish. You’re not going to get those clients. So knowing your market and having a deep rooted conversation with the person you trust to help you with your SEO, your SCM, your digital, your radio, your television, and they are separate people. You’re an expert in S E O.

Chris Dreyer

Not an expert in a lot of other stuff.

Gary Sarner

And I’ve built my business now being an expert on broadcast, electronic broadcast, radio, and television and OTT. So together we can help a client deliver both sides of the equation versus. Me trying to figure out SEO when you’ve already got to figure it out and vice versa.

Chris Dreyer

Yeah. Couldn’t agree more. And let’s talk about the investment. I talked to Glen Lerner yesterday and I asked him specifically how what’s like the minimum for someone to get into TV. And he’s got a lot of experience right in that avenue. And he said my opinion, if you’re not trying to own it, be in the top three of market share for TV, you shouldn’t even do it. To think about that. And some of these major metros, and you may have a different opinion than Glen, but that’s a lot of money, right? The investment there for TV, you know, what’s a firm really looking at, and I know every Metro, every geography and the audience is different. What’s a, what’s an investment look like for a solid radio campaign?

Gary Sarner

So a solid radio campaign. Yeah. Is different for everybody, right? Because what do you actually want to own? Do you want to own an age group? Do you want to own an ethnicity or do you want to go all the way across? I’m looking at some stuff in Atlanta right now for an attorney and that market is far more expensive than any market in Florida. But because of the relationships I have, I was able to negotiate what I do and get so much more value for the dollar. But you’re looking at anywhere from 14 to $30,000 a month to own a radio station and to really own a television station. Without doing radio. And if you do it right by utilizing news and sports and prime time, it’s a lot more, but you don’t get as many impressions on television as you do on radio. And then there’s are you going to be offensive or are you going to be defensive? There’s a lot of attorneys that come on and come off and come on and come off. That is a huge mistake, consistence and building that brand month after month. And it doesn’t happen overnight. Maybe we get lucky. We get that phone call. The first week somebody heard the ad like that voice. And unfortunately they had a major accident. The attorney gets a huge case of huge settlement. What do they do with that money? Hopefully they reinvested in more marketing and you buy more radio or television stations, or you add your SEO strategy, or maybe you’re adding to your SEM. Look, we see every day and we follow one another on Instagram. There are so many videos being put on Instagram this these days. And when you look at most attorneys, Instagrams and Facebooks, and you really look at the followers, they’re actually talking to one another and they’re giving each other ideas. There’s a few that have. A lot of followers, but they are few and far

Chris Dreyer

between media strategies. You want to consistency over a long period of time. After all brands aren’t built overnight, but you can’t stick to just one hard approach. You’ve got to iterate and continually improve. I asked Gary how he balances clients long-term strategy with experimentation and innovation.

Gary Sarner

Every market is different and I’ve spent the last eight and a half years working with one specific firm here in south Florida. And they had an 800 number. I wouldn’t call it by any stretch of the imagination, the best number, but it was one they had branded for several years prior to me getting involved. And when I started with them, it was a local Miami Fort Lauderdale. Eight. And a half years later, we are a statewide firm. They’re all over going up against Morgan and all the big guys in Florida. But what we found in a specific market was we weren’t getting the phone calls that we were getting in all the other markets that we were in. So doing some more research and talking to a lot of people in this market, they said you really would be better off with a local name. So I went to the managing attorney and I said, listen, I think it’s worth a shot for 90 days to change it up because we’re not pulling out. We just got to find a way to make this work better. After one month with a local number, the leads went through the roof phone calls to that number, trackable calls to that number, aside from the Google searches and the leads that they were getting via Google. We found in this specific market that getting rid of that 800 number and going local, all of a sudden they felt the firm was right there in that city. And yeah, that’s the beauty of the legal field. They could open up a little shared office space. Put ads on the radio and they sound like they’re in that market. They hire you to start pushing the SEO in XYZ market and boom, but it all has to work. Together. And when somebody works with rankings.io and they work with ROI360+, we both have to be on the exact same page on everything that we’re doing. Otherwise you’re just throwing money out there, hoping something sticks.

Chris Dreyer

Yeah. And in terms of the media buying strategy, and I know you have a ton of experience here, you have a tremendous amount of relationships. You have relationships all around the country. What are some of the mistakes other law firms making when they’re doing media buys? And I know you have some horror stories there that you’ve expressed.

Gary Sarner

Well, what I see from some reporting that I get is. Too many personal injury firms stick with one medium and only do that medium. They’re missing out on a tremendous amount of audience that’s available to them, or they do too much radio, not enough TV. But what I found is there is a mix that works and there is a strategy that works. And my biggest client. Doesn’t have anywhere near the budget Morgan and Morgan has, but you know what? We get two third share of voice at approximately 13% of the time. And that’s relationships. That’s different than what you do, which is all on the internet. There’s nobody to talk to, to build this stuff up. You guys figure it out and you guys are far more brilliant than I am. But what I do is based upon relationships, trial, and error, and things that have worked, that haven’t worked have you to client then. Doesn’t know, everything is really the best because you try things just like you’ve tried things in SEO strategies. Some of it works, some of it hasn’t and you follow the path that works and keep growing. It. That’s the same thing with a radio and TV strategy and every market’s different. And before I make any purchase, we delve into everything. Who do they want to reach? How do they want to reach them? Most important is the budget. I will sit down with anybody and say, you can’t afford to do that effectively. I spoke to a guy in Louisiana and he, I love the guy. But he just didn’t have enough money to spend yet. And I said, you’re better off taking your wife on a vacation and going, having fun than to try to compete where you’re not going to be happy. And you’re going to tell me, radio doesn’t work, TV doesn’t work. I’m not getting any leads because if you don’t know how to compete and you can’t afford to compete, you’re going to lose. You’re just going to lose

Chris Dreyer

That’s the same. I think that’s the same for a lot of marketing. You don’t have the investment for SEO. You’re not going to rank on the first page. Like you’re just don’t do it. What are in terms of the radio and the media buyer? What are some of those things that you look for as positive indicators that the strategies working is? Does it come down to, Hey, the calls are coming in, but what are some of the indications of success?

Gary Sarner

Those leading indicators, there are several different ways because there are so many. Advertisers that will buy one radio station and nothing else and they’ll own it. And they’ll be happy with that audience over and over again. And it’s pretty simple to say that radio stations working because the phone’s ringing or they’re going to Google and you’re able to there’s trackability now. Radio and television stations, where when an ad runs, they’re able to look at somebody’s website and see an increase in traffic to the website based on eight minutes from that commercial running. So we could see that way as you build a real campaign. And if you’re number five to 10 in the market, and you want to grow to number three, you better be ready to put your balls on it. The table make an investment and say, 90 days. I’m not going to worry so much because in 90 days I promise you it’s good to start working. And the biggest issue with failure in radio and television is generally it’s not being bought properly one, or it’s sold to the client the wrong way generally on the radio or TV station, because they were thinking about themselves, not long-term number two, the creative. Is the creative done well for video or audio, the messaging matters. You’re talking to people, whether it’s visually or audio, you’re trying to woo somebody to call you when they need an attorney. And that, to me, the most fun part about what I do. And when I speak to attorneys is say, when’s your next case coming?

Chris Dreyer

Who knows.

Gary Sarner

They don’t know. They don’t know. What we do know is there’s going to many accidents, many slip and falls, medical malpractice nursing. There’s going to be all these things. But when that happens, have you been in their ears or in their eyes over and over again in a systematic way with a real plan? And again, there’s a lot of great media companies out there and you know what? They buy GRPs, gross rating points, gross rating points is a measurement in radio and television. Guess what? Gross rating points don’t pick up the phone. People do. So for me, what I look at first is the size of the audience radio or television. You’re never going to be able to hit everybody every week, because that means you have to buy a commercial or have a message every 15 minutes on a radio station, pretty unaffordable for even the biggest of the big. So it takes somebody. Who knows how to manipulate that audience and reach it the most effectively. And I take a lot of pride in that and I do it different. I don’t worry so much about ratings. I worry about total audience and reaching the audience.

Chris Dreyer

I love that Gary, if a personal injury attorneys listening and they’re wanting to jump in, they’re wanting to do media buy TV, radio, OTT. What does the process look like working with your agency and how can they best get in touch with you?

Gary Sarner

It always starts with a phone call or a video zoom, just getting to know one another first things. First is there has to be some trust and some ability. Listen, I know I’m not for everyone. Well, the people that I connect with, we hit home, runs over and over again. And I ask a lot of questions, you know, where did you start? Where are you now? And how did you get there? I also need to know, or are they doing something with somebody like you, Chris? Are you doing SEO? Because the first advertisement that you have must be the website. Because that is always on and can always be found, can’t guarantee that your radio commercials going to be heard. I can’t guarantee your TV commercials going to be heard, but if somebody goes to the internet and they do a search for a personal injury attorney, or they search by name, there’s your advertisement. So if, how many websites have you looked at that?

Chris Dreyer

Well hundreds, thousands,

Gary Sarner

and it doesn’t matter what type of business. A lot of people just throw stuff up on the internet and say, oh, there I am right now. What, why isn’t anybody coming here? You need to invite people to come do business with you. You want to sell widgets, ask them to come buy widgets. You want to invite somebody to be a client of your law firm, ask them to call you. To come to your website, but have them do an action. But remember, they’re not going to make that effort in the PI space. Until they absolutely have to

Chris Dreyer

love it. Gary, it’s been such a pleasure speaking with you. Thanks so much for coming on the show.

Gary Sarner

Oh, listen. It’s my pleasure. And if anybody wants to reach me, my cell phone number is (954) 560-6371. I am available as long as my eyes are open. And my website is www.roi360+.com. And all I ask for is one conversation. And Chris, I hope that we’ll have many clients that we could work on together to help them grow their firms. I will tell you all advertising. Works. And if you knew exactly which part of it worked best, you’d only do that, but it all works together

Chris Dreyer

You gotta love Gary’s energy and passion. He’s a great advocate for radio. And if you haven’t taken a look at that in your market, definitely check it out. Beyond that, what he said about connecting all of your marketing channels is just absolutely key. If you want a cohesive strategy, you can’t keep your teams siloed. You’ve got to make them all work together. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. I’d like to thank Gary Sarner from ROI360+ for sharing his story with us. And I hope you gained some valuable insights from the conversation. You’ve been listening to the Personal Injury Marketing Mastermind. I’m Chris Dreyer. If you liked this episode, leave us a review. We’d love to hear from our listeners. I’ll catch you on next week’s PIMM with another incredible guest and all the strategies you need to master personal injury.

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