The Personal
Injury Mastermind

The Podcast

194. Dmitriy Kozlov, Influex — Never Fit In: Branding with Impact

The best never fit in. They stand out. In a herd of firms that are all shouting that they “win more” and “care more”, it pays to break with the pack and deliver a message of value. Today, Dmitriy Kozlov (@dkozlov), Chief Expression Officer at INFLUEX  shows us how. 

Discover how to:

  • Uncover your origin story and infuse your marketing with authenticity to captivate your audience.
  • Position yourself as the trusted guide – not the hero! Shape your messaging around serving clients.
  • Establish authority and credibility but sharing your expertise through content marketing.


Want to hear more from elite personal injury lawyers and industry-leading marketers?

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What’s in This Episode:

  • Who is Dmitriy Kozlov?
  • How to build a memorable brand with core values.
  • The importance of infusing personality into a law firm brand
  • Why partnering with specialists and vendors will amplify the impact of your digital presence.

Past Guests

Past guests on Personal Injury Mastermind: Brent Sibley, Sam Glover, Larry Nussbaum, Michael Mogill, Brian Chase, Jay Kelley, Alvaro Arauz, Eric Chaffin, Brian Panish, John Gomez, Sol Weiss, Matthew Dolman, Gabriel Levin, Seth Godin, David Craig, Pete Strom, John Ruhlin, Andrew Finkelstein, Harry Morton, Shay Rowbottom, Maria Monroy, Dave Thomas, Marc Anidjar, Bob Simon, Seth Price, John Gomez, Megan Hargroder, Brandon Yosha, Mike Mandell, Brett Sachs, Paul Faust, Jennifer Gore-Cuthbert


Dmitriy Kozlov:

They want to win. They want to be the best at what they do, and that doesn’t take fitting in, it takes standing out.

Chris Dreyer:

That is the differentiator. If you just have the generic content, then you’re just like everyone else, injured, car accident, question mark. But when you get to the core of it, of who you are and your store and your background and why you do things that the way that you do it, it really makes it unique.

Dmitriy Kozlov:

Build your personal brand as authentically you while you communicate in a way that’s, here’s how I can help you get to where you’re meant to go.

Chris Dreyer:

Welcome to Personal Injury Mastermind. I’m your host, Chris Dryer, founder and CEO of rankings.io, the elite legal marketing agency. Each week you get insights and wisdom from some of the best in the industry. On these special toolkit Tuesdays, we dive deep into conversations with the leading vendors in the legal sphere, the masterminds behind the technology services and strategies that help law firms not just survive, but thrive in today’s competitive landscape.

Now, this isn’t about selling you the latest software or getting kickbacks from affiliate links. It’s about bringing you the best so you can be the best for your firm, for your staff, for your clients, and for you. This is Toolkit Tuesday on PIM, your weekly guide to staying sharp in the legal world. Follow along so you never miss an episode. Let’s get started.

I hate to say it, but a laundry list of accomplishments slapped on a website is not going to attract your ideal clients. Don’t get me wrong, the accomplishments are important, but that list needs to complement a much larger story. That story sets you apart from every other option out there. You need a compelling brand narrative that shows who you are and what makes your why crystal clear. So how can you stand out? How do you establish authority and credibility in a sea of legal competition?

How do you find that unique blend, that essence of what sets you apart and above the rest? My guest today has worked with numerous high profile attorneys to help their firms shine through purpose-driven branding and websites. Dmitri Kozlov is the founder of Influex. His agency has a unique mission to accelerate the evolution of love by helping influencers fully express their essence and amplify their authority. Dmitri shares his wisdom on unleashing your unique personal brand, positioning yourself as your client’s trusted guide and demonstrating your expertise by giving away value.

He breaks down how to uncover your origin story, infuse your marketing with your authentic self and generously share your knowledge to attract ideal clients. Here’s Dmitri Kozlov, chief expression officer at Influex.

Dmitriy Kozlov:

I went to college in some ways to make my mom happy and when I first started I thought it would be the right path and career. Started in biochem, then realized I don’t like hanging out with the chemistry kids that much. Started doing some network marketing when I was 18. As many of us who start network marketing, that didn’t turn out well financially, but I learned so much and got into personal development and realized that I could never work for somebody else full-time.

And saw college as, hey, this is going to be a four-year container to experiment because it’s kind of a bubble where nobody takes what you do very seriously. You’re supposed to be focused on your studies. Switched to a sociology and business major at the time, never used the degree. While I was in network marketing, I built myself my first website. That was my personal brand, that was my blog.

And other networkers started paying me at the time it was two or 300 bucks a piece, then 500 bucks a piece to build blocks for them. Started doing it for small businesses. Before I graduated I was so committed, unlike all my friends who were committed to, they were like, hey, I would just want to get the best job or going to grad school, stay on the academic treadmill, I was committed. I’m going to graduate college and make sure I never have to show my degree and never have to make a resume, even though I’ve been working since I was 13.

I’ve had jobs since I was a kid and worked kind of through college as well. When I was graduating, I was just like, okay, let me just, I’ve got the skill. Let me monetize the skill. I’m going to keep building websites for people until I found out what I really want to do. And I started building websites. It was 500, 600, 1000 bucks a piece, 2000 bucks a piece. Made a full-time income out of it first year after college. And I kept thinking, hey, what do I really want to do?

And so fast-forward now is 12 years after graduation and I am still building websites. I’ve got an amazing team and it’s become so much more than building websites because it’s really become extracting the essence of who somebody is and then bringing it forth as their full expression online, like the 24/7 digital version of them and then doing that through brands and through companies. So it’s become a huge passion. I’ve started and built other businesses along the way, but this has always been the through line and I’ve discovered this is what I really want to do.

Chris Dreyer:

Such an interesting path of focus. It was like intentional, not intentional, but intentional, kind of back and forth and I’ve got to jump in and not just websites, we’re talking Cameron Harold, we’re talking Frank Kern, we’re talking Roland Frazier, we’re talking in the legal vertical, Alexander Shunnarah, myself, Jason Hennessy, Michael Mogul, Louise Scott, you are making some powerhouse websites for some top legal and entrepreneurs and I’ve got to give you credit.

And I read that you’ve stated your purpose as accelerating the evolution of love through inspiring and empowering influencers. So how did you arrive at this purpose? Because it’s so clear.

Dmitriy Kozlov:

Love the reminder on that purpose because that still stands. And so I think when I was 24, I was watching some spiritual video around and kind of came to the realization for myself, God is love, love is God, and this what the Beatles have been saying all along, and yet the evolution of how humans love on this planet, we get to contribute to that. So discovered for myself, hey, my contribution in this life gets to accelerate how we as humanity love.

The influencers part is I started when I was 23, started working with influencers. I went to a conference called Underground Online Marketing Seminar, ran by Yanik Silver, he became my first mentor. Started doing some web work for him and then that led to Mike Dillard and then eventually Frank Kern, Dean Graziosi, a lot of influencers and kind of discovered that instead of building the kind of business that they were building that reaches hundreds of thousands or millions of people or tens of thousands of customers that I actually wanted to be a bit more behind the scenes and impact essentially influence the influencers.

And get to do the work with them because through that I get to reach millions of people, but indirectly in a way that the people I directly get to work with are the people I can also learn the most from, in some ways become more like them and in some ways get to bring some of my essence to extracting and expressing theirs. And so it’s been bringing some of that essence of love because we all have it as human beings into how we build their personal brands and their company brands.

And so now it’s been like even though what we do for them is on the surface is building their brands and websites on the inside, I’ve kind of become for many influencers and many companies kind of their trusted advisor because we get to know them so intimately on such a deep level and then bring that forth through the external expression of their brand.

Chris Dreyer:

I just had a conversation with a good friend Gary Sarner, and we were talking about website design and I said, “Hey, I don’t think your copy really explains who you are and your expertise,” because he is the guy when it comes to radio. I said, “You know what? You need to talk to Dmitri. You need to go to Influex, you need to talk to them because of your copywriting and showcasing that expression through words, through visuals.” Can you explain what a full expression means to you and how you help people get there?

Dmitriy Kozlov:

Yes. First, go back a little bit more on my story. So I came here to the United States when I was seven. Single mom, we immigrated over and so I didn’t speak the language at all. And so I was bullied a lot and couldn’t really express myself and couldn’t really influence the world around me. And so I really got to master and learn the English language and I got to find that that was touching my deepest core wound is I got to express myself and influence the world with words.

And I actually started rapping when I was 13, 14, 15 years old. Way fast-forward, when I started Influex, it was the combination of influence and expression based on my belief, your greatest influence comes through your fullest expression. When it comes to the question you asked, by the way, I love Gary, We just had a conversation last week and I’m excited to do some work for him to bring more of his essence to the table.

He’s so interesting, not only so brilliant in what he does, but also wears these unique colorful shirts and goes to conferences and is so memorable because he expresses himself as he is. And so for many of us, even though we have a unique expression as who we are as people when it comes to the business world, sometimes we put on this professional suit to appear a certain way to fit in. And so I go back as a kid, at first I wanted to fit in and then discovered that what I really want is to stand out and to be seen. And I think most human beings, most of us and especially entrepreneurs and lawyer entrepreneurs, they really want to be seen.

They do what they do because they want to be seen, they want to win. They want to be the best at what they do. And that doesn’t take fitting in, it takes standing out. And so each of us has this unique expression within us. And I’ve gotten to cultivate the gift and our team’s gotten to cultivate the gift of intimately getting to know someone through their story, through their unique values, through their purpose, which sometimes they have clearly defined, sometimes they don’t. And then get to infuse that into their marketing.

And of course that’s combined with the influence side of deeply understanding their audience, the direct marketing principles that speak to their audience. But I think this was especially relevant, of course it’s relevant for influencers and marketers, but it’s especially relevant for lawyers. You think about personal injury law, when we first went into the industry, we asked the question, we’re like, well, what makes you different?

What makes any of them different? Because technically on the surface and to most of the consumers, they’re doing the same thing, right? They’re helping you. You’ve been in a personal injury and they are here to take on your case to stand for you. Gary and I were talking about this, that most personal injury lawyers also will say the same thing, what makes you different? We win more and we care more. Okay, well that’s one thing. And so does the guy down the street. Even if you don’t think they don’t, and they’ll still say the same thing.

So then what really makes you and your firm different? And we found that in personal injury, it’s a combination of things, it’s philosophy, it’s personality. Most of the time it’s culture. Every firm, we’ve worked with a number of the top eight figure firms, and so many of them have, even though on the surface it’s a very similar message, there’s actually something so unique about who they are and what they do that attracts a different type of client and it usually has to do with their culture, their values, how they run their team.

We take Shunnarah as one example. So we got to write the headline for them of, we go to war for your family. And they’re warriors. They were the first major personal brand firm we built. And we went into their office and we’re like, wow, these guys are warriors. They have all these thoroughbred attorneys and they care so deeply and we win more and care more for them is expressed through, we go to war for your family. To big insurance companies, you’re just a claim number. To most attorneys, you’re just a settlement number.

To us, you’re the reason we never stop fighting. And we kind of contrast that to a mutual client of ours, Hay Law, L. Reem. The headline we got to write for her was, when you stand up for yourself, we stand with you. And for her, it’s a lot more standing up against corporate bullies, employment law, sexual harassment, and it’s standing up for the woman that’s been harassed in some way and that’s standing up against the big corporate bully.

And rather than just, hey, we’re going to take you and protect you, it’s also empower you and when you stand up for yourself, we stand with you. And you kind of see the contrast of those. Technically they could each almost be saying the same thing, but they’re saying radically different things based on Al Reem’s a culture of love. Shunnarah’s is the culture of war, but a war in a way that’s war for love, war for care, winning for the right reasons. And there’s been such a wide range of clients that we’ve worked with that even though again on the surface before we worked with them, their websites were almost saying the same thing, we got to say what they’re truly here to do and why they do it in a way that becomes this unforgettable marketing headline.

Chris Dreyer:

In a way, it’s very introspective. It allows you to uncover who you are at a deeper level and then use those words to craft the perfect message, that is the differentiator. If you just have the generic content, then you’re just like everyone else, injured, car accident, question mark. But when you get to the core of it, of who you are and your store and your background and why you do things the way that you do, it really makes it unique, you have some unique guiding principles or core values at your agency and a few of them, even the wording of these or very intriguing. So you have forward flow and upward spiral. How do these principles show up in your day-to-day?

Dmitriy Kozlov:

Love this question again, it goes back to culture and values. So this is how we show up as an agency and it actually makes an acronym of INFLUEX. And one thing is I’m a spoken word artist, spoken word name is forword, F-O-R-W-O-R-D, moving the world forward with words. And so that’s shown up in copywriting. And mostly I really love, I love forming acronyms, I love alliterating things because it makes things more memorable. And so a lot of companies have core values.

For us, we’ve been so adamant about whether it’s clients we work with or for ourselves, having those core values be memorable so that the team in the marketplace really not only gets it but can remember it. And so for ours, first one, innovate, imagine, inspire, really all about, and I love the Einstein quote, “Logic takes you from A to B, imagination takes you anywhere.” Or the Steve Jobs quote, one of my biggest heroes, “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.”

And so we really believe in leading the way with creativity, imagining a better future, and then inspiring our team and our clients to create that. Naked truth, really just radical transparency, authenticity, whether it’s through the relationship with the numbers, ourselves and others. Forward flow, Lao Tzu quote, “For those who flow as life flows know they need no other force.”

So the forward flow is all about it, especially as a creative agency, there’s so many different things we do, it’s always about moving things forward. So it’s never getting stuck, never thinking, hey, because we don’t have the copy for this, we can’t start this or because we don’t have the design here, we can’t start this. It’s always coaching and working with our team on how do we move forward the next step even if there seems to be a roadblock. So that’d being like a river that flows through around all obstacles and doing that in business.

Chris Dreyer:

You really excel and Influex really excels at creating this authentic personal brand. I want to flip it on the other side. Where are so many personal brands missing the mark? Where do you see the biggest issues with those trying to highlight their personal brand?

Dmitriy Kozlov:

So the first thing that probably comes to mind, and I think it’s the reason when people build a personal brand for the wrong reasons, and I think oftentimes it’s also the reason people don’t build a personal brand and depending on their value systems, it’s really when it’s about ego from the perspective of thinking a personal brand is about me. And even though of course it’s a personal brand, it’s usually your name .com for an attorney, it’s very oftentimes their face and name on the billboard, even though oftentimes they don’t have separate personal brands, their personal brands are infused into their company’s, they’re named after them.

When they make it about themselves and the personal brand becomes, look how great I am, even though it can build a lot of credibility, it usually doesn’t build as much connection and relatability. And so a personal brand, really great book, StoryBrand by Donald Miller that really speaks to you are not the hero of the marketing story. And so when it’s a personal brand, when you try to be the hero, that actually oftentimes leaves your client to be like, hey, cool story, bro, but I’m the hero of my story, even if they don’t consciously think it.

So that’s probably the biggest mistake people make for when they do it. It also oftentimes why people don’t do it, oh, I don’t want to build a personal brand, that’s so egotistical. Really your personal brand is you’re the guide. You’re the guide to the hero of somebody else’s story. So if you think of Star Wars, your client, the person you want to help is Luke Skywalker, your Yoda. If you think of the Matrix, your client is Neo, you are Morpheus, they’re the hero, you’re the guide. But as Morpheus and as Yoda, because that hero could choose so many different mentors and chances are they wouldn’t make their journey if they don’t choose the right mentor. So it’s so important to build your personal brand as authentically you while you communicate in a way that’s, here’s how I can help you get to where you’re meant to go.

Chris Dreyer:

I think most of the time you need the business website and you need the personal brand and you market those different, you’re speaking to different audiences typically. Sometimes it’s very hard because you have different audiences typically of who you’re trying to market to. On that, when you’re trying to amplify your authority, how does being the guide, being the mentor, how do you demonstrate authority to those potential prospects?

Dmitriy Kozlov:

I’ll first share one thing that comes to mind with a personal brand versus company brand is people love to do business with people. So even if you’re primarily building a company brand, featuring your personal brand and your team’s personal brands, featuring the personality of the business or your own within your website and within your brand is so important. And then oftentimes it’s like what we did for you and with you, it’s rankings.io is the company brand and there’s your personal brand.

And I love that yours is a classic example of this where the headline is don’t represent yourself in the court of Google. Let me help your firm rank number one. That in itself already speaks to, okay, here’s how you’re the guide. You are sharing your credibility and authority by speaking to what’s important to them, what’s in it for them while doing so in a way that, hey, this is what I’m here to do. Let me help you with this, but don’t do this yourself. And so that kind of speaks to the direct value.

And then all the authority pieces, it’s really bringing in whatever your credibility is on whether it’s on track record, I love to say it’s like what’s your authentic authority? So you don’t need a go by followers or by media placements to have authentic authority. What you need is here’s who I’ve helped and actually sharing those stories. And for us it’s oftentimes just we list the client list and that creates a lot of authentic authority. People look at our work and that creates the authentic authority.

For you guys as well, hey, we’ve hit Inc 5000 five consecutive years. And just doing that means it’s not about the bragging of, hey, we’ve hit Inc 5000. It’s about we’ve served so many people that we’ve continued growing and we’ve continued reaching more and more people. So it’s testimonials, it’s those credibility markers, it’s getting yourself featured in, whether it’s featured in media, getting on other people’s podcasts, doing what you’ve done, which is starting your own podcast and doing a lot of content.

It’s content marketing, but it’s really more than that because it’s adding values, contributing values to the people that you’re looking to serve. And what better way to show that you can help somebody than actually helping them and doing so for free in a way that’s, wow, if their free stuff is so good, wonder what is available if I pay for it.

And for personal injury attorneys, people don’t directly pay for it in the first place. They’re picking someone based on who’s going to be the best person to help me through this really difficult chapter in my life. And oftentimes the more value you put out there way before that person actually needs you, the more they’ll think of you as, they’ve already helped me understand some things about this, they’re top of mind for me, or they’re top of mind for somebody that referred me and so therefore I’m going to go with them.

Chris Dreyer:

I think of it as karma. For every action there’s an equal and opposite reaction. So you putting out all this goodwill and everything just comes back to you and kind of that go giver type mentality. And I wanted to just for the audience that doesn’t know Influex, give me like the TLDR, the summary, what does Influex do?

If you’re an attorney listening and maybe you’ve got a law firm website, but you don’t have the personal site, what exactly does Influex do?

Dmitriy Kozlov:

So our brand promise is we build beautiful brands and world-class websites that express your essence and amplify your authority. And that in some ways says it all. So we build beautiful brands. We love to build brands that are just aesthetically, as soon as you look at it, you’re like, that’s beautiful. That stands out. And beauty is in the eye of the beholder. So you as the firm owner or individual think it’s beautiful and the people that are looking at it think it’s beautiful.

And that alone, especially in the legal world, really has it stand out and really creates a lot of trust and connection because people love art, people love beauty, and of course it has to be authentic. So the express your essence piece, it expresses the essence of who you are in your firm through that brand and website. And then of course, world-class websites. Everything we do, we love to make it world-class. And then amplify your authority is that it’s got to also create the kind of credibility and amplify your authority as the go-to person in your space.

Therefore people choose you. So the beauty and the essence captures attention and creates connection. The authority creates attraction and conversion. And so again, websites, brands. And then lately we’ve been partnering with, partnering more and more as well on, so with Chris, with you and with rankings, it’s that what we do best is the front end. It’s the beautiful brands, it’s the messaging, it’s telling origin story, and then partnering with professional teams like yours that do so much on the backend that get the results with SEO, that do the more complex development on the backend where we’ve been doing that stuff, but really leaning more and more into our gifts on the front end. Our last core value there being X factor is our X factors creativity.

Chris Dreyer:

One of your core strengths is the copy, right? So you have some of the top copywriting experts, and I’m not just not copy as a, just writing content, copywriting as using psychology and then using words more creatively. So I’ve really got to compliment you on that end. Where can our audience go to learn about Influex and get in touch with you?

Dmitriy Kozlov:

Thank you. Yes. Influex.com. Best way is to get in touch there, either fill out a consult and then my Facebook as well. So if you just look me up on Facebook, my name has a bit of a unique spelling, but I’m sure it’ll be included somewhere in this post. And then we also have a new sub-brand for Influex called authority Attorney, where we specifically do what we do as Influex with specifically for attorneys and some of the leading and visionary law firms in the space. So that’s authorityattorney.com.

Chris Dreyer:

Thanks so much to Dmitriy for sharing his insights. Let’s recap with some of the takeaways. Don’t blend in to stand out. To the average consumer, every firm looks the same. To stand out, you’ve got to go deep. Generic claims like we win more or we care more don’t feel genuine. To capture the client’s attention and trust, dig deep and get a little vulnerable. Combine your origin story, purpose and values to create a one of a kind marketing. This will help you attract your ideal clients.

Dmitriy Kozlov:

Your greatest influence comes through your fullest expression.

Chris Dreyer:

Position yourself as the trusted guide. Be Yoda to their Luke Skywalker. This isn’t about you, it’s about them. Shape your messaging to focus on serving your clients. Leave your ego at the door. Establish yourself as their mentor, who can walk them through the hardest parts of their lives.

Dmitriy Kozlov:

When you try to be the hero, that actually oftentimes leaves your client to be like, hey, cool story, bro, but I’m the hero of my story, even if they don’t consciously think it. So that’s probably the biggest mistake people make for when they do it. And also oftentimes why people don’t do it. Oh, I don’t want to build a personal brand that’s so egotistical. Really, your personal brand is you’re the guide. Because that hero could choose so many different mentors, and chances are they wouldn’t make their journey if they don’t choose the right mentor.

So it’s so important to build your personal brand as authentically you while you communicate in a way that’s, here’s how I can help you get to where you’re meant to go.

Chris Dreyer:

Give it away. Demonstrate your authority by giving away value to your potential clients. Sharing what you know will nurture trust and credibility. This can be in the form of eBooks, podcasts, short explainer videos for social and more. It’s purpose-driven content marketing that can set you apart.

Dmitriy Kozlov:

They’re picking someone based on who’s going to be the best person to help me through this really difficult chapter of my life. And oftentimes, the more value you put out there way before that person actually needs you, the more they’ll think of you as they’ve already helped me understand some things about this. They’re top of mind for me, or they’re top of mind for somebody that referred me, and so therefore, I’m going to go with them.

Chris Dreyer:

All right, everybody, I hope you’ve added a few more tools to that kit, but before you go, we’ve got a little inspirational gift for you. Dmitri is a poet and he has this to share.

Dmitriy Kozlov:

You never know the last breath you will take. So face death every day because in the face of death, everything melts away, leaving only what is truly important to you, your beauty, your story, your truth, your music, your soul.

What you do as unity forms within you and your music is pouring from you till every last bit of your fuel and your courage is used. And even when it feels like your hustle is useless, just remember that nothing is useless and there’s a reason that you’ve been suffering through this because it’s something that moves you to remember the truth that you’ve got nothing to lose and nothing to prove.

So just do what you love and love what you do, and have fun at it too. Give up your excuses, trust in your music. Stay hungry. Stay foolish.

Chris Dreyer:

For more about Dmitri or Influex, head over to the show notes. While you’re there, leave me a five star review. Thanks for listening to Personal Injury Mastermind with me, Chris Dreyer, founder and CEO of rankings.io. Like Dmitriy said, stay hungry. Catch you next time. I’m out.