SEM Growth: Amplifying Law Firm Lead Generation with Precision Search Marketing
In the rapidly evolving realm of digital marketing, SEM Growth has emerged as a trailblazing giant, redefining the landscape of search engine marketing. With its innovative strategies, commitment to excellence, and deep understanding of the digital landscape, SEM Growth has risen to prominence as a leader in driving online success for businesses. In point of fact, SEM Growth is acknowledged as one of the most effective legal marketers today.
A lean, agile and high-powered team, consistently delivering results for law firms, SEM Growth was born from the ideal of enhancing and maximizing sales. From its inception, the company’s vision has been to empower businesses with the tools and strategies to enhance their online visibility and achieve sustainable growth.
Perhaps what makes SEM Growth unique among its competitors lies in the vision and infinite knowledge of founder and CEO Jesse Leonardi. A self-described “computer nerd,” this young entrepreneur’s fascination with computers began at an early age. He was just 13 when he received his first computer.
Business is a sport, I like figuring out how to put a business in a position where people will trade money for their services.
“I taught myself programming and the language BASIC (Beginner’s All-Purpose Symbolic Instruction Code), and batch file. I was just glued to my computer,” he says. “I knew then that I wanted to have a job where I could be on a computer. I wanted to think creatively and to build things. I’ve always been industrious, and I love sports. For me, business is a sport, I like figuring out how to put a business in a position where people will trade money for their services.”
Even at a young age, Leonardi’s entrepreneurial acumen was obvious. Already endowed with a computer aptitude well beyond his years, Leonardi’s maturity was evidenced in other ways. With a clear vision of what he wanted, he drafted a mental blueprint for reaching that goal.
College was certainly part of that plan, but Leonardi wasn’t waiting for a degree to dive into commerce. At 18, with all the money to his name – $250 – he bet on himself. “I started with Google Ads,” he says. “At that time, it was roughly 25 cents per click. I was running an affiliate campaign with Amazon selling bicycles and things like that, to pay my way through college.”
“It was quite a risk,” he says, “at the time nobody knew anything about this. By the time I graduated college, I had a touch screen phone made and imported from China before the iPhone and selling it locally and online. I was making about $500/day in the first couple months. Then the iPhone launched, and my product was essentially obsolete.”
Ironically, these endeavors were bringing in more revenue than the accounting job he’d landed upon graduation. And, recognizing his enviable position, especially for a young man his age, Leonardi quit his job and embarked on the adventure of a lifetime – traveling the world.
Living in Seoul, Korea, Singapore, and Australia offered not only exciting new adventures for the young entrepreneur but also expanded his world view. “I firmly believe that travel and seeing the world is the best educators,” he says. “It absolutely changed my life. Living in Seoul, where I didn’t speak the language and I was on my own, that’s the kind of experience that expands your view.”
Even while enjoying exotic locales and exploring fascinating new cultures, Leonardi’s imaginative intellect never ceased creating. “While traveling, I was working on marketing, exploring various avenues, and I realized that was my passion,” he says.
Returning to the States he went to work for an advertising agency that happened to specialize in representing law firms.
“My first client was a DUI law firm in California,” he recalls. “They were handling maybe five DUI cases a month at best. Within three months, I had increased that to about 70 cases a month, eventually helping to build them into one of the largest DUI firms in California. I felt that I had a real knack for this and studied relentlessly.”
In fact, Leonardi’s marketing skills proved so exceptional, he decided to take the next logical step. He opened his own agency. A bold move, and certainly impressive enough for his age, but what is particularly notable is that the company he’d been working for became a client!
Digital marketing became his passion. “I studied everything I could find on PPC, SEO, but especially conversion rate optimization,” he says. “Essentially, I had no life. This was my life, and I loved every minute. I was single at the time, so I became immersed.”
Far from being a one-trick pony, Leonardi has a long and impressive list of accomplishments. He co-founded, scaled, and ultimately sold a D2C brand that today sits on major retailers’ shelves, including Albertsons and CVS. He is a former accountant with executive education from MIT. He was in 500 Startups Batch 12 in San Francisco, where he ran growth marketing for a marketplace startup he helped scale to 130 countries and raised over $17 million from major funds. And, of course, he started SEM Growth to partner with select businesses to help them grow via optimizing their paid and organic marketing channels.
My approach, and that of our company, is simply to be transparent and completely forthcoming.
Unlike the stereotypical professional marketing expert, Leonardi is almost the antithesis of a salesman. When asked about his new client presentation, his answer was blunt and somewhat remarkable. “We don’t have one,” he says. “I don’t have a traditional sales background and certainly don’t have a sales pitch so to speak. My approach, and that of our company, is simply to be transparent and completely forthcoming.”
“When we meet with a new client, our focus is first to figure out their needs and how we can help,” he continues. “We begin by asking questions. Where is your firm at currently? Where are you getting business from? What channels have you explored? Just a general well-check if you will. Once we know where they’re strong or weak, we can begin to put together a plan of action.”
Because of his interest and past experience with legal professionals, Leonardi’s team is already up to speed on the newest and most effective digital marketing tools for law firms. Certainly, marketing a law firm or private practice isn’t like promoting grocery stores, fashion, or really any other type of service. There is a level of sophistication and confidentiality unique to the legal market and having the knowledge and savvy to effectively market a firm is a highly prized skill.
“I can look at their site, I can look at their rankings, and have a very clear picture of where they’re at, where they can improve, where they should be investing based on what they’ve told me and where they’ll get the biggest bang for their buck, “says Leonardi. “I just have a conversation, talk to them just as I would a friend. By the end of our conversation, it’s clear we have the experience, and they’ll see how we differ from our competitors.
I just know, when all these things line up for a law firm, their campaigns are successful.
“I try to stay objective and matter of fact,” he adds. “If we have access to the PPC account, we’ll do an audit to show them how they’re currently doing. I don’t promise anything special, we just break down the economics for them. For example, here’s what your click through rate is. Here’s your cost per click. Here’s your conversion rate. And, if you’re saying a case is worth this much to you, here’s how much we need to pay per lead. We are very transparent about how it’s going to shake out with our fee, and it lets them know how it makes sense economically.”
In other words, no sales pitch is required. To quote a very old adage, “The proof is in the pudding,” and even a casual perusal of the many enthusiastic testimonials on SEM Growth’s website makes it clear, this is a team that delivers.
“We break it down as if we work for the firm,” Leonardi says. “There are so many lawyers who have been burned. Companies have taken their money and really done nothing. Kind of like a snake oil thing, so we want to be the opposite. It must make sense economically, and there has to be a definitive timeline involved so they know when they can expect to see results. I just know, when all these things line up for a law firm, their campaigns are successful.
“From my view, it helps to understand the business model of agencies that serve law firms,” he continues. “Nearly all agencies have competent, well-paid salespeople, but they are often handing off your marketing to junior practitioners with one or two years of experience. Turnover is high. Then, there’s the smaller, leaner outfits that talk a good game, but they often outsource your marketing to some freelancer overseas all while pocketing your cash each month. The third model, which is ours, is a small team of practitioners with no dedicated salespeople or account managers. We can’t scale to be the biggest law firm agency, and we don’t want to do that, but it does mean that our client’s marketing is 100% handled by expert practitioners with decades of experience. The difference in execution and absence of cutting corners is evident early in our client’s results.”
Another, perhaps more subtle indication of how effective the SEM Growth team is, is apparent not only in the long-time business alliance with clients, but the fact that so many clients become friends. The kind of friends who share holidays and backyard barbecues. Of course, one of the best and most obvious indicators of client satisfaction is the number of referrals received.
Trust, as Leonardi emphatically notes, is the number one priority. Setting up their marketing plan is only the first step. Like any good product or service, follow through is where you develop this trust.
Taking the Lead, Recognizing Trends
Google remains one of, if not the most recognized brand in the world of digital marketing having securely established themselves as leaders early in the game. However, as Leonardi cautions, things change.
“We get access to PPC Google Ad accounts from large, fairly successful law firms and they’ve been wasting as much as $20 million to $50 million a month for years,” he says. “On one hand, Google Ads are simple enough, but the system is truly designed to benefit Google and not the advertisers. So, you need to have a fundamental understanding of the system to get the most out of it and avoid leaks.
“Google Ads has become very good at masking what’s really going on,” he continues. “They report clicks. They report impressions. But what keywords are you showing up for given that data? Who’s clicking and what are you really spending money on? Is it even on Google Search? They’ve made their settings in such a way that it’s difficult to tell, they have other networks embedded in that as well. So, you really need someone who knows that system in and out to create a successful campaign.”
He goes on to explain how it can be so easy, under the wrong guidance, to throw money away. “Google has quietly changed how keyword matching works and expanded it significantly, meaning you’re showing up and getting clicks and spending money for terms that you don’t want and very possibly have nothing to do with your firm. They’ve intentionally gamified the accounts scoring in Google Ads in a way that a higher score is worse for your business.”
Only someone with Leonardi’s vast knowledge and experience dissecting such complex, (and to the layman well-hidden maneuvers) to basically pull aside the curtain and reveal what’s really going on.
Beyond avoiding such pitfalls, this “computer nerd” is armed to ensure a firm’s digital marketing success, leading his clients into the fast lane.
The system is truly designed to benefit Google and not the advertisers. So, you need to have a fundamental understanding of the system to get the most out of it and avoid leaks.
“A lot of really talented lawyers are frustrated that ‘lesser’ firms rank above them organically in Google and in the ‘map-pack’. This speaks to what we mentioned earlier about agency business models,»Leonardi says. «You can be the absolute best lawyer, but you can be limited by your marketing partner’s abilities and commitment to your firm. A lot of my testimonials from lawyers mention working with the biggest, most expensive legal marketing agencies, but they didn’t rank at the top until they started working with us. It’s one of the best feelings for me when my clients are pumped about passing their competition.”
There is another avenue virtually unexplored or underutilized by most marketing firms. One where once again, SEM is leading the way adding both value and exposure for their clients.
“Remarketing is an area that most law firms are not leveraging because it’s not as accessible as it once was,” Leonardi explains.
“Typically, only the savviest firms are using it. You’re spending a high cost per click to drive traffic to your site initially, and when implemented correctly, it only takes a small fraction of that to bring them back to the site. Even if you have a 20% conversion rate, that’s 80% of your traffic that’s never coming back. Remarketing is an inexpensive way to generate more cases and grow the firm’s brand.”
Leonardi’s journey from a visionary entrepreneur to the helm of SEM Growth is a testament to his unwavering commitment to excellence, innovation, and client-centric strategies. Perhaps the most telling measure of these achievements lies in the businesses SEM Growth has propelled to success. From increased ROI to enhanced brand visibility, the results of Leonardi’s leadership are evident in the impressive results clients continue to garner. His ability to navigate the complexities of digital marketing while staying true to his core principles has positioned SEM Growth as a top firm in the modern marketing realm.
Remarketing is an area that most law firms are not leveraging because it’s not as accessible as it once was.
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Business is a sport, I like figuring out how to put a business in a position where people will trade money for their services
Business is a sport, I like figuring out how to put a business in a position where people will trade money for their services
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