How Content Marketing and Marketing Automation Led to a $5,000 Retainer Client

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Retainer ClientIf you are thinking about embracing content marketing to help grow your business, I hope that what I’m about to share with you will motivate you to begin immediately.

At 9am one morning last week, I hosted an online meeting with a prospective client in need of the type of help that we offer via our consulting company, Groove Digital Marketing. There were three people on the call from the prospect’s company: the owner, their copywriter, and their marketing/technology pro.

At 11:45, the call was finished, and without the need of a proposal, the owner said, “At this point, I cannot see why we will not be proceeding with you.” Two hours later, they’d made their first payment of $5,000 and we had a deal.

How Did This Happen?

Now that you know the outcome, I want to give you the back story. My hope is that when you see what happened, you will realize how powerful content marketing and marketing automation can be.

On November 5th, Brian (their technology/marketing guy) somehow found BrightIdeas.co as a part of his search for a solution to their marketing and operational challenges.

When he found my site, he decided that the free offer I make on the home page was valuable enough to become a subscriber.

ct-airThe “lead magnet” I offer on the home page is access to my Conversion Tactics 4 part video training series. (If you would like to see the videos in this series, just go my home page and enter your details.)

This offer is the #1 way that I use to fill the top of my marketing funnel. Once in the funnel, subscribers are sent video #1 on day one, video #2 on day two, etc…

In Brian’s case, he watched video #2 on November the 8th and video #3 on November 9th. He watched 100% of video #1 and #2 and just 75% of video #3. I know this because I am able to track how much of my videos that each subscriber watches. In fact, the emails a subscriber receives from me actually differ, depending on how much of the videos they watch.

After watching 75% of video #3 Brian, who was unknown to me at the time, emailed me to ask if we could arrange a time to chat. I replied with a “yes” an asked him to book a time via my online calendar.

Houston, We Have Contact

Brian and I’s first call happened on November 18th and during that call, he gave me an overview of their business. He also took time to describe the problems and challenges that they wanted to overcome. Upon hearing these challenges, I knew that I could probably make a huge impact on their business over a period of time, and asked Brian to arrange another call for he and I, as well as the owner of the company.

Brian concluded by saying that his boss was a “very tough sell”, so I suggested that he have his boss listen to a few of the podcast interviews I’d done with other entrepreneurs whose businesses were more automated than Brian’s.

Houston, We Have Touchdown

LiftoffThe call with Brian’s boss (Paul) was a very long call and I spent most of the time asking questions. One of the challenges with conversations like this is that, with so much to talk about, the conversation can “wander around” for quite some time – and not necessarily lead to the desired outcome.

To avoid this, I decided to use a Lifecycle Marketing self assessment as a framework for the discussion. By using this framework, we were able to have a productive conversation about each area of their business. More importantly, I was able to learn a lot about Paul’s needs, wants, and desires in a very short period of time.

I was also able to learn a fair amount about Paul’s values and quickly realized that he was very passionate about his product and wanted to give his customers the best possible experience.

It probably took me a solid hour or so of questions before I ever got to the point of making any suggestions. In fact, after asking Paul to rate himself on each of the steps of Lifecycle Marketing, I would ask if he believed a change needed to be made or not. The goal of the self assessment and “is that really important to you?” questions was to figure out what Paul was most motivated to fix first.

Getting the Deal

Many inexperienced salespeople think that “closing” requires all sorts of fancy techniques and magical statements.

The truth is exactly the opposite.

The “close” is the logical conclusion to the consultative approach to selling – which is a fancy way of saying, to sell, you must ask questions – and lots of them.

HandshakeThe more questions I asked Paul, the more he began to trust what I had to say – and as time went by, enough trust was eventually built up for Paul to decide that we were the right fit for what he needed – so he made the decision to move forward.

Key Take Aways

Regardless of what you sell, there are always people looking for your product or service. The key is to let them find YOU. This is the primary goal of content marketing.

For over a year, I have been dutifully creating and publishing content that would help my target market to solve their problems. Had I not been publishing and promoting my content, Brian would have never found my website.

Once Brian did find my site, if I wasn’t capturing leads with a free offer (called a Lead Magnet), it would have been impossible for Brian to become a subscriber, and had he not become a subscriber, he would have never been exposed to the three videos he watched prior to reaching out to contact me.

Video is extremely powerful on the web. By using it, I was able to give Brian a first hand look at my personality and communication style. Had he not been exposed to these videos, I doubt that his motivation to reach out and ask for my assistance would have been nearly as high.

Marketing automation also played a huge role because Brian didn’t watch video #2 or #3 when I first sent him the links. He, like everyone else on the planet, was probably too busy on the day that these first emails arrived, so it wasn’t until he received a few reminders that he actually took the time to watch them. Had I not created the reminders in my funnel, it’s unlikely that I would have a new client today.

Want to Get Results Like This?

There is a very specific process to achieving success with content marketing and marketing automation and in today’s post, I have given you a glimpse of the results that can be achieved when you get the formula right.

If you have not yet implemented content marketing or marketing automation, I strongly encourage you to start today. To help you do that, I have written a book called the Digital Marketing Handbook: The Ultimate Small Business Guide to Putting Client Attraction on Autopilot that will be available for sale on December 10. If you get on the early bird list today, you will be notified the day the book is released and you will be given a coupon code to get 25% off the price. Go and register now!

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Digital Marketing Strategy: Jim Palmer Shares Strategies That Double His Client Retention

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JIM PALMER 4IN X 6INX 300DPI X FC

JimP

How much do you think you could learn about email marketing from someone who’s known as The Newsletter Guru and has a list of 17,000? Probably quite a bit!

How much do you think you could learn about client retention from someone whose six month retention program doubles his retention rate? A lot!

I learned a ton during my conversation with marketing and business building expert Jim Palmer – including that he was the one to brand himself as The Newsletter Guru, and he suggests you should give yourself a tagline too.

Listen now and here’s what else you’ll learn:

  • (02:40) Introduction
  • (05:15) Jim’s two best ideas for customer attraction
  • (09:25) Overview of how he’s using social media
  • (14:20) Biggest customer retention mistakes
  • (16:30) Overview of how to over-deliver on value
  • (18:50) Overview of his retention strategy
  • (24:45) Overview of profit accelerator#1: Charge higher prices
  • (31:40) Overview of his advice for how to become a person of influence
  • (35:40) Jim’s tip on how to position yourself
  • (37:40) Overview of how to achieve higher profits by eliminating your sales prevention department

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Resources Mentioned

More About This Episode

The Bright Ideas podcast is the podcast for business owners and marketers who want to discover how to use online marketing and sales automation tactics to massively grow their business.

It’s designed to help marketing agencies and small business owners discover which online marketing strategies are working most effectively today – all from the mouths of expert entrepreneurs who are already making it big.

Listen Now

Enjoyed this Interview? Here’s How To Leave us a Positive Review on iTunes!

If you enjoyed this episode, click here for more information on How to Leave Us a Positive Review on iTunes! Your review will help to spread the word and get more entrepreneurs like you interested in our podcast. Thanks in advance - we appreciate you!

About Jim Palmer

Jim Palmer.blue backgroundJim Palmer is a marketing and business building expert and host of Newsletter Guru TV, the hit weekly Web TV show watched by thousands of entrepreneurs and small business owners. Jim is also the host Stick Like Glue Radio, a weekly podcast based on Jim’s unique smart marketing and business building strategies. Jim is best known internationally as ‘The Newsletter Guru’- the go-to resource for maximizing the profitability of customer relationships.

Jim is the founder of Custom Newsletters, Incorporated, which is parent company of:

  • No Hassle Newsletters
  • No Hassle Social Media
  • Success Advantage Publishing
  • Concierge Print and Mail on Demand
  • Custom Article Generator
  • Double My Retention, and
  • NoHassleInfographics.com

Jim is also the acclaimed author of five books:

  • The Magic of Newsletter Marketing – The Secret to More Profits and Customers for Life
  • Stick Like Glue – How to Create an Everlasting Bond With Your Customers So They Spend More, Stay Longer, and Refer More
  • The Fastest Way to Higher Profits – 19 Immediate Profit-Enhancing Strategies You Can Use Today
  • It’s Okay To Be Scared – But Never Give Up
  • Stop Waiting for it to Get Easier – Create Your Dream Business Today

You can learn more and contact Jim at www.TheNewsletterGuru.com, call 800-214-6158 or email guru@thenewsletterguru.com

Join the Conversation

One of the things that I love most about hosting my podcast is participating in the conversations they provoke. Each week, I ask one question. This week, it is this: Question: What part of your business are you struggling with most? Please share your answer by clicking one of the social icons at the top or bottom of this post.

Ask Me a Question

If you have a question, comment, thought or concern, you can share it by clicking here. We’d love to hear from you.

Subscribe to the Bright Ideas Podcast

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The Biggest Mistake I Made in 2013

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BI_Images

Earlier this morning, I was on the phone with a friend (and former podcast guest) of mine by the name of Casey Graham. Casey and I had scheduled a call to talk about how we might help each other to promote some of our products, and while we did make a plan to do that, the most surprising part of the call was some of the advice that Casey gave me after he asked me how things were going.

The Value of Being Transparent

Rather than give Casey a fluffy answer and tell him that everything was going smashingly well, I decided to be fully transparent and share with Casey some of the frustrations that I have been dealing with in my business. Being the helpful guy that he is, when he heard me express that I was frustrated he immediately asked me to explain to him what some of the challenges were, and why I was so frustrated.

I told Casey that I’ve spent the last year publishing interviews with dozens of successful entrepreneurs as well as creating the very best content that I could. I thought that by doing so I would attract an audience made up of entrepreneurs who were already in business and looking for advice on how to get to the next level.

20304379_sMy plan was to use my automated marketing funnel to nurture these prospects, build trust, and ultimately convert them into customers for my information products and my mastermind group. To me, this seemed like a much better business than consulting, because my revenue wasn’t tied to how many hours I worked.

While I have definitely sold quite a number of my information products and my mastermind group has 10 very happy members, the volume of revenue generated from the sales has fallen well short of my expectations.

Casey asked me if I have reached out and had a conversation with each and every one of the people who bought my information products.

I told him that I had not.

I went on to add that one-on-one conversations didn’t scale very well and weren’t really a part of my business model. That is why I put so much effort into content marketing combined with marketing automation.

The Best Advice I Received in 2013

When he told the next was the very best advice I’ve received in 2013 – and the hilarious part is that just two days ago I had recorded a half hour long video to give this exact advice to my own tribe. Apparently the teacher needs to drink his own Kool-Aid!

kool-aid-1Casey told me that when a business is young (like his and mine), by far the best way to grow fast is to reach out and talk to every single customer. He told me that this is exactly what he had been doing over the last couple of months to launch his new business, Business Rocket.

Back in August of last year, he decided to launch this new business and set a goal to do $100,000 in revenue in the first 6 months. At the time of our conversation today, he was 80% the way there.

To kick the business off, he told me that he sold a relatively low-priced product to 54 people via a webinar and then he reached out to every single one of those people got them on the phone and asked him how he could provide additional help.

These conversations, he said, have helped him to really understand the challenges that his customers face – and, on quite a number of occasions these conversations, which he did not charge for, resulted in his customers asking for paid consulting. As a result, in less than six months, he has generated over $80,000 in revenue for his new business.

Had Casey not taken the time to reach out to each of the customers who bought his $297 product, there is no way that the $80,000 in consulting revenue would have happened. Moreover, he would not have been able to gain such a thorough understanding of exactly the problems and challenges that were keeping these people awake at night.

My Big Mistake

When I sold my last company I received quite a lot of money and as a result my sense of urgency to generate new cash flow was quite low.

Ironically, this is a very dangerous place to be.

In my case, because I have this high level of comfort, I did not engage in the one on one conversations that I used to build my last business into a $2 million company. Instead, I simply created content and use marketing automation to sell my products.

By taking this automated approach too early in the life of my business, I have cost myself dearly.

15763114_sBecause I have not been reaching out and having one-on-one conversations with my customers, I have not given them the opportunity to get additional help from me by hiring me to consult with them. If I had, I’m pretty sure that the revenue from this consulting work would have easily produced tens of thousands of dollars in additional revenue – plus, as I spent my time talking one-on-one with all of my customers I would have also learned a great deal more about the problems and challenges that they face – and this is valuable information that I could then use to improve my existing products and/or launch new ones.

Don’t Automate Too Soon

The mistake that I have made is to automate too much, too soon.

Thanks to my conversation with Casey, I intend to immediately correct this problem and starting today, I plan to personally reach out to every single one of my new customers (as well as many of my existing customers) to ask them to hop on the phone with me (for free) so that I can help them to make the most of the product, answer questions, and offer advice.

When I do these calls, I have no doubt that some of the people I talked to will end up wanting to hire me for additional consulting/coaching or to become a part of my mastermind group.

Even if I don’t generate any immediate revenue, I’m confident that the goodwill I create by offering this free advice to my customers will also result in a fair number of positive mentions on social networks, which in turn will very likely drive more traffic to my site, more leads, and more sales.

Can I Help You?

If you have already bought a product of mine and would like to get on the phone with me, please get in touch. If you haven’t yet bought a product and have questions about marketing, blogging, marketing automation, lead generation, etc…, please leave your question in the comments below and you will get an answer directly from yours truly.

To your success!

Trent

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Digital Marketing Strategy: Jason Weisenthal on How He Grew Wallmonkeys.com into a 7-figure Etailer in Just 2 Years

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Jason Weisenthal 4in x 6in x300dpi x FC

JasonW

Jason Weisenthal is a successful entrepreneur in every sense of the word. He came upon a product that he couldn’t find in the marketplace and went on to create a business to provide that product.

In just 24 months, Jason grew Wallmonkeys.com into a 7-figure online business. He shares with us many of the secrets to his success right from the beginning.

Like almost every entrepreneur, Jason’s journey was not smooth sailing. He also made a lot of mistakes, and he’s generous enough to share those with us as well, including the biggest mistake he made.

(If you want to learn from other others who have started from scratch, check out all our posts relevant to startups.)

Listen now and you’ll hear Jason and I talk about:

  • (03:25) Introduction
  • (04:00) Overview of what their business is and results achieved
  • (05:55) How he came up with the idea
  • (10:55) An overview of his big mistake (not having images)
  • (13:05) How they started to get traction with customers
  • (15:00) How they built the website
  • (16:45) Overview of their initial paid advertising
  • (21:25) Overview of mistakes that he’d make to this point
  • (22:55) How he negotiated deals for content
  • (25:55) Overview of how they have optimized shipping
  • (28:00) How they are managing technology support
  • (31:00) How they’ve used Shipworks to automate
  • (32:00) How they are leveraging their email list
  • (33:00) Overview of advice for new entrepreneurs

Resources Mentioned

More About This Episode

The Bright Ideas podcast is the podcast for business owners and marketers who want to discover how to use online marketing and sales automation tactics to massively grow their business.

It’s designed to help marketing agencies and small business owners discover which online marketing strategies are working most effectively today – all from the mouths of expert entrepreneurs who are already making it big.

Listen Now

Enjoyed this Interview? Here’s How To Leave us a Positive Review on iTunes!

If you enjoyed this episode, click here for more information on How to Leave Us a Positive Review on iTunes! Your review will help to spread the word and get more entrepreneurs like you interested in our podcast. Thanks in advance - we appreciate you!

About Jason Weisenthal

 

JasonWeisenthalLike so many entrepreneurs before him, Jason Weisenthal, Founder/CEO of Wallmonkeys, conceived of his latest business after searching high and low for a product that wasn’t out there: custom wall decals made from photos of his kids playing sports – a personalized alternative to the cookie-cutter images of professional athletes that were already available.

Just a few years after launching Wallmonkeys in 2008, Weisenthal has grown it into the world’s largest library of print-on-demand wall graphics, offering everything from fine art and cityscapes to – of course – custom decals of your child sliding into home.

Growing up in New Jersey, Weisenthal spent his weekends working in his father’s shoe shop. After earning a degree in business management from Towson University, he soon took over a different shoe store, transforming it from a struggling business into a million-dollar company in just six years.

In founding Wallmonkeys, Weisenthal had to educate himself in printing, graphic design, e-commerce, and marketing. “I’ve always been too stubborn to fail,” he explains. “If I don’t have the answer, I’ll track down someone who does.”

This combination of business savvy, intelligence, and grit has paid off. Wallmonkeys has generated enormous demand for products that, just a few years ago, didn’t exist. “It was only when I learned to adapt, improve and evolve my business around the customer that the sales finally came,” he says.

Weisenthal lives in Olney, Maryland with his wife Andrea and their two children Rachel and Zachary.

Join the Conversation

One of the things that I love most about hosting my podcast is participating in the conversations they provoke. Each week, I ask one question. This week, it is this: Question: What part of your business are you struggling with most? Please share your answer by clicking one of the social icons at the top or bottom of this post.

Ask Me a Question

If you have a question, comment, thought or concern, you can share it by clicking here. We’d love to hear from you.

Subscribe to the Bright Ideas Podcast

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How I Made $19,000 While Learning to Create My First Software Product – And What I Plan to Do Next

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Software

First, let me say this: I cannot write code – AT ALL.

Luckily, to be successful in software, I don’t need to know how.

My first attempt at creating software was a WordPress plugin that helps agencies connect with clients that don’t have mobile-friendly websites. I hired a developer to create the MobiLead Magnet for me.

To ensure that the developer built exactly what I wanted, I created a mockup that showed what every screen was supposed to look like and then created labels that described what each button would do when it was clicked. This didn’t require me to have any special technology skills, so no matter what your background is, you could easily create a mockup, too.

The plugin cost me about $1,200 to build and so far, I’ve sold about $20,000 worth of it. Given that this was my very first project, I’m pretty happy with the $19,000 profit earned so far.

The success of my landing page plugin has definitely increased my desire to improve the product and turn it into a fully featured Software as a Service (SaaS) app – and I’m very happy to say that is exactly what is going to happen—only this time, unlike every other venture I’ve been involved in so far, I’m not starting from scratch.

My Next Move in Software

A few weeks ago, I reached an agreement with the founder of ConvertKit.com to buy half of the company and in today’s post I’d like to share with you the thinking that went into this decision. I’d also like to invite you to come along for the ride as we attempt to grow this business from where it is today to our first goal of $30,000 a month.

Before we get into too many details, let me give you some background into why I think this particular business has so much potential. My hope is that when you see what my partner and I are doing, some of you will see ways that you might also get into the software business – even if you can’t write code to save your life.

5 Million Reasons to Love Software

Not so long ago I learned that Lead Pages had raised financing of $5M in a Series A round. I had heard the company was doing well prior to the round, however, I really didn’t think that a company making landing page software for Internet marketers would ever close a $5M round of VC funding.

I guess that shows what I (don’t) know!

Hearing this news made me think: if VC’s are backing a company with a SaaS app that makes creating landing pages easier to do, that must mean that some pretty smart folks see this as a market with HUGE upside, otherwise they wouldn’t have made the investment.

In case you aren’t familiar with the VC model, they are only interested in funding companies that can grow really big, really fast. Doing so involves huge risk (most fail); however, when the winners come in, they come in BIG TIME.

My First SaaS Business: a Software App for Marketing Agencies

BloggingImprovesInboundROI

(Source: Hubspot 2013 State of Inbound Marketing Report)

Longtime readers will know that I am the co-founder of a SaaS company currently in development. The software is designed for marketing consultants and agencies that want to profitably scale a “blogging for clients” service and helps them to significantly increase their productivity in this regard. It doesn’t even have a name yet, though we are getting very close to releasing the software to a select group of beta testers.

The thing that I love about the product that we are creating is that it is very much in sync with the massive increase in popularity of content marketing. For consultants and agencies, this represents a substantial opportunity to increase their retainer income by creating blog content on an ongoing basis for their clients.

The thing that is yet unknown about this is whether or not consultants and agencies will actually pay for the software that we are creating. We do have plans to take pre-orders, but we aren’t there just yet and I will feel a LOT more confident about the prospects for this business as soon as I have some pre-orders booked.

Normally, when I get into a new business, there is a lot of existing competition, so I have a very high degree of confidence that I’ll be successful. After all, if there isn’t any demand for a product, there wouldn’t be any competition, right?

“The existence of plenty of competition is a very clear indicator that customers are quite willing to pay for a solution and I believe there is always room for one more competitor”

With the SaaS app I mentioned above, we don’t really have much in the way of direct competition, and that worries me a bit. In the landing page space, however, there is a truckload of competition. This competition indicates a massive opportunity…plus a guarantee that people will actually pay for software that makes it easier to create landing pages.

My Second SaaS Business: Say Hello to ConvertKit

NathanBarryShortly after moving to Boise, I was introduced to a guy by the name of Nathan Barry. After meeting him for the first time, I came away from our meeting very impressed with how much Nathan had accomplished in his first year as an entrepreneur. To say that he’d made a success of himself is an understatement.

Nathan is an extremely talented designer, has written 3 books, has built a large following for his blog, and has extensive experience designing software. He is also the founder of ConvertKit.com, a SaaS business that makes it very easy for marketers to build a profitable audience. In fact, I highly recommend you follow along with our Audience Building Challenge.

As of this writing, ConvertKit has close to 100 customers and provides them with an auto-responder and responsive form creator. Did the world need another auto-responder with a form creator?

No, it didn’t need another one, it needed a better one, and that is exactly what Nathan has built.

The Product

There is definitely no lack of competition in the email marketing software space. The list of competitors includes names like Aweber, GetResponse, MailChimp, and many more. However, as I described before, wherever there is a lot of competition, there is also a lot of opportunity. To be successful, all one needs to do is create a product that is better than the incumbents for a well selected target market.

Notice that I said ‘well selected target market’. That is key. To attempt to go head-to-head with industry giants is generally a foolish move because there is simply no way to out-spend them.

However, when you are a scrappy start up that can make decisions and iterate quickly, there is also a substantial opportunity to pursue a niche market by creating a product, that for one reason or another, is better that what is currently available.

In fact, I’d go so far as to say that even if your product is only “just as good”, but your marketing message is better (for that niche), then you the odds that you will succeed are stacked in your favor.

Our Target Market

In our case, the niche that we are going to initially pursue is marketing agencies and consultants. The reason for this is pretty simple. Both Nathan and I have a fairly large following of these folks and we feel that we will be able to use this following to help us achieve our initial goal of $30,000/month in revenue.

Based upon the success of my MobiLead Magnet, I also know that consultants need a lot of help creating landing pages that will help them to attract more clients. To help them do this, one of the things we plan to add to ConvertKit is an updated version of the landing pages the MobiLead Magnet was designed to create.

While $30,000 a month might sound like a lot, in the grand scheme of things, a company that earns $360,000 a year is a very small company and we both believe that growing ConvertKit to this size is something we can achieve.

To help us get there, we intend to add features to ConvertKit that will make it a very compelling tool for our target customer and then use our marketing chops to attract enough customers to reach this first goal. Once we get to $30,000/month, we’ll have a very nice “lifestyle business” on our hands and will then need to make more decisions about our goals for the future, one of which will likely include our exit strategy.

Our Exit Strategy Options

exit-signOur goal with ConvertKit is to build a real business that generates a meaningful stream of predictable revenue (low 7 figures) and we anticipate that this will take us a number of years to achieve. The journey towards this goal will be filled with ups and downs, plenty of mistakes, wonderful lessons, and personal satisfaction.

In other words, it’s going to be a lot of work – and a lot of FUN.

When we achieve $1 million in annual revenue, the lifestyles that we will be able to enjoy will be fantastic and we’ll have done it by creating real value for our customers. At this point, I think that we’ll have much to be proud of.

We’ll also have some options for an exit that would not otherwise be available to us – and I’m sure that one of these options will be to sell the company for a healthy multiple of it’s revenue. If we were building a service business, as opposed to a SaaS business, the company would not likely be nearly as valuable because it would have lower profit margins and would not be capable of growing as fast as a SaaS company can – all else being equal.

I point this out, only because if you are building a company today, it’s very important that you begin to think carefully about how the business model (product or service) of company you are building now will affect your options to “exit” that business down the road.

The Team

As much as I like the product that Nathan has already built, the real reason that I bought into ConvertKit was because I wanted to build a landing page company and I want Nathan to be my partner.

ConvertKit is ideally suited to becoming a landing page company that also includes an auto-responder. Nathan has laid the foundation for that with what he built before I ever showed up.

I did consider some other options for developing a landing page company, but none of them included getting to work with a guy as talented as Nathan is – and, for me, that made buying into ConverKit the obvious choice.

The Opportunity That We See

It’s rumored that Lead Pages is currently doing about $250,000 a month in revenue. Having used their product, I can see why. They’ve made a terrific product that is very easy to use – and they’ve got a lot of traction with the Internet Marketing community as a result.

From a technical perspective, what they have created is actually quite simple and creating similar features in ConvertKit will not take us very long to do.

What Lead Pages hasn’t yet done is gotten traction with marketing agencies, consultants, and mainstream businesses (or if they have, they don’t promote that fact at all). They also haven’t build an auto-responder into their software so anyone that uses it must connect to yet another SaaS application. If you have been around online marketing for a while, this is no big deal. But if you are just getting started, it’s another point of friction in the user experience.

Think a bit of friction in the user experience is no big deal? Just tell that to Apple. Seems to me that there are quite a few people who are willing to pay extra for things that are incredibly easy to use.

SaaS30KTweet

Get ‘Em Young and Train ‘Em

When it comes to creating landing pages for mainstream small businesses, I think that the market potential is absolutely huge and for now, there is more than enough room for a number of competitors.

At the high end of the market, you have Unbounce. This is a very powerful tool, but it’s quite expensive and rather complicated to use. In my opinion the chances of a small business owner using it are quite slim.

There are plenty of existing plugins to create landing pages. I’ve tried many of them and they all seem to suffer from one limitation or another; and worst of all, they don’t really come with much in the way of pre-made templates. Without pre-made templates, there is more friction in the user experience.

I think that this is one of the reasons why Lead Pages has done so well with the Internet Marketing crowd. When I first signed into Lead Pages, the very first thing I noticed was how much effort they’d put into creating a fully stocked library of templates. Thanks to all the templates, I was able to create my first landing page in about 5 minutes.

By creating a product that serves the needs of customers who are just beginning to adopt online marketing, we believe that those customers will stay with us as they grow, so long as we keep developing more advanced features. That is one of the reasons that I quite like ConvertKit: thanks to Nathan’s design skills, it is very easy to use and is therefore ideal for people who are just starting out and don’t have to have to “read the manual” to get going.

Our Vision

With ConvertKit, our goal is to create an application that comes equipped with a wide variety of pre-made, yet completely customizable templates, all designed with the mainstream business owner in mind.

By giving these mainstream entrepreneurs a powerful tool to create high converting landing pages, as well as giving them a well designed auto-responder (so they don’t have to sign up for two different services and then figure out how to connect them), we feel that we’ll be able to get a lot of traction with them, and/or the agencies and consultants that serve them.

So What’s Next?

Building a successful business is not easy. The road to success with ConvertKit is going to be filled with highs, lows, and plenty of mistakes. To succeed, we are going to have to be smart and work our butts off.

If you’d like to come along for the ride, you’re going to get an insider’s view into everything we do – and we are going to share it all for free. It’s totally free and you don’t need to be a ConvertKit customer. To get each post emailed to you as soon as it’s published, sign up for the $30,000 mailing list below.

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Josh Ledgard on How Kickofflabs.com Got 24,000 Customers in Just 2 Years

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JOSH LEDGARD 4IN X 6IN X 300DPI X FC

Kickofflabs

By any measure, Josh Ledgard’s software company has become a huge success. In just two years, Kickofflabs.com has attracted 24,000 customers. Josh lets us behind the scenes to show us how Kickofflabs achieved these impressive results.

He shares the groundwork they put in place, including how they came up with the Kickofflabs name, how they defined their target market, and how they used Twitter for research.

Josh also tells how they actually generated all those customers – getting the word out through Quora, directories & lists; reaching out to other people’s audiences; and buying traffic.

For details on exactly how they did all this, as well as what they did for lead conversion and nurturing, you’ll definitely want to give this podcast a listen.

(If you want to learn from other software founders as well, check out all our posts on software development.)

Listen now and you’ll hear Josh and I talk about:

  • (05:10) Introduction
  • (05:10) Overview of a launch and results they’ve achieved
  • (07:10) Overview of how they came up with the company name
  • (10:30) Why didn’t they let competition deter them from moving forward
  • (15:10) How they used Twitter to do research
  • (18:10) How they defined their target market and defined their MVP
  • (25:40) Overview of the developments leading to the very first sale
  • (28:40) Overview of marketing mistakes they made and lessons learned
  • (31:10) How to leverage other people’s audiences
  • (33:40) How posting on Quora has impacted their traffic and sales
  • (35:40) Some refinements they made for lead generation
  • (37:40) How being in directories and lists impacted their revenue
  • (39:25) Overview of how they are nurturing their leads to become customers
  • (45:00) Explanation of how they are using subject lines in their free 30 day landing page course
  • (48:10) How they follow up with costumers that leave and what they learn as a result
  • (51:40) How outsourcing has played a role in their organization
  • (55:40) Overview of how they are buying traffic

Resources Mentioned

Crunchbase
TaskRabbit
Perfect Audience for Facebook
kickofflabs.com

More About This Episode

The Bright Ideas podcast is the podcast for business owners and marketers who want to discover how to use online marketing and sales automation tactics to massively grow their business.

It’s designed to help marketing agencies and small business owners discover which online marketing strategies are working most effectively today – all from the mouths of expert entrepreneurs who are already making it big.

Listen Now

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Transcript

Trent: Hey there, bright idea hunters, welcome back to yet another
episode of the Bright Ideas podcast. I’m your host, Trent
Dyrsmid, and this is the podcast for marketing agencies,
marketing consultants, and entrepreneurs who want to discover
how to use content marketing and marketing automation to
massively boost their business without massively boosting the
amount of time that they have to work every single week. And the
way that we do that is we bring proven experts onto the show to
share what’s been working for them, and this episode is no
different.I am very, very happy to welcome to the show a fellow by the
name of Josh Ledgard. Josh is the cofounder of a software
company called KickoffLabs, and you get to it at
kickofflabs.com. It’s a software services company, kind of as
everyone’s software company is these days, that specializes in
creating effortless landing pages plus smart email marketing and
social referrals, all with one goal: to get you more leads. They
are serving so far over 24,000 customers, and have generated
over two million leads. And the company is just two years old at
this point in time, and very nicely profitable as Josh is going
to share with us very early in the episode.So in this episode, first of all there is one of almost my
record of golden nuggets. I recorded six golden nuggets in this
episode, so you’re going to be learning how to use Twitter to
talk to the customers of your competitors so early on in the
lifespan of your company that you can find out exactly the
problems you need to focus on solving. How to keep in touch with
your early adopters using surveys, and Josh explains how he did
that and how it made a very, very big impact on their company
when it was very young and just getting going. And then how he
also makes personal connections with those same early adopters.
He talked about where he guest blogged, and in particular, he
describes how he chooses where to guest blog so that the
probability of the traffic of the people that are going to read
those posts becoming customers is the highest. So you’ll
definitely want to tune in and hear how he does that.And then he says he works in the library a lot, and there’s
something unique about sitting across from the magazine rack
that has really helped him with his copywriting skills. So there
is a whole bunch more that we talk about throughout this
episode, and I’m really excited to get it going, and in just a
moment we’re going to welcome Josh to the show.Before I do that, I want to tell you about two quick things that
Bright Ideas has going. Number one is that I am writing a book,
and it is on content marketing and marketing automation, and it
will be all the lessons that I have learned, as well as the many
lessons that I have extracted here from the guests on the show.
And you can become an early bird for that book at
brightideas.co/book. And if you run a marketing agency or you
are a marketing consultant, and you are looking for a mastermind
group to join, so that you can hang out with likeminded people
who are in the same business as you, who are looking to become
more successful than they are today, head over to
brightideas.co/mastermind and you’ll be able to get all the info
there.So with that said, thanks very much for tuning in, and please
join me in welcoming Josh to the show. Hey Josh, welcome to the
show.Josh: Hey Trent, great to be here.Trent: Thank you so much for making the time to come onto the Bright
Ideas podcast and share the story of how you have launched and
made KickoffLabs a success. Before we get into all of those
details, I’m sure there are plenty of people in my audience who
aren’t yet familiar with you, or your company, so please take a
moment and just introduce yourself.Josh: Yeah, so I’m one of the two founders of KickoffLabs, and we do
landing pages and email marketing. So our goal is setting up a
campaign that involves a landing page that somebody might get to
via an advertisement or some other promotion, and then the email
capture and promotion delivery via that service are relatively
easy. So our customers range from people starting new
businesses, like a cupcake stand in a mall that opened last week
using our product, all the way to a company like [Kalem]
Airlines, running a contest to get people to register for their
newsletter, register for their deals flying [Kalem] Airlines.Trent: Wow, from cupcakes to airlines, that is a broad spectrum of
target customers to say the least.Josh: Absolutely.Trent: So we’ll get into that, I do want to talk about how you go to
market and how you pick your niche and so forth. How long have
you been in business, and let’s talk about recent revenue, just
so we can give the listeners a bit of an idea of what it is that
you’ve accomplished, so that will make the rest of the story
more compelling for them.Josh: We’re kind of a typical good growth curve. We launched in the middle
of 2011, and we made what I describe as next to nothing that
year, if you look at tax returns. And then 2012 saw us grow into
a business that was paying its two founders, myself and Scott
Watermasysk, decent salaries, and this year has seen us so far
grow to hire a support engineer, a designer, a marketing person,
and also pay ourselves much better salaries that are much more
similar to what we were making in past jobs. So we’re making it
very worthwhile for us.Trent: So that sounds like it’s probably between 500,000 and a million
year run rate at this point?Josh: We’re heading towards that, yeah.Trent: Terrific. And this is a business that you created with or
without any outside funding?Josh: Yes, absolutely.Trent: Without.Josh: Without, sorry, yes.Trent: So that’s why I found this story so interesting, because that’s
what I thought that it was. And there are so many people out
there, I’ve had many of them on my show in the past, Sam Ovens
and Brandon Dunn, two other fellows who have created very
successful software as a service businesses. Neither of them,
like yourself, took outside funding, so I think that there is a
really good story here, so let’s kind of dive into it. The first
thing that I’m really curious about is the name, KickoffLabs. I
think I read on your blog that you had ten product ideas when
you were first starting off. Is that it?Josh: You definitely did your research. When Scott and I got together, we
knew that we wanted to work together to build something, and to
build a business, we had close to 25 one-sentence or one-
paragraph ideas that we were throwing out there as things we
could do. We kind of vetted all those against what we had
personal experience in, and what we did not. What could we
contribute the greatest to? Some ideas even had us selling
physical products, but neither of us had experience with
manufacturing or doing a physical product, so we kind of ruled
that out.We narrowed it down to five or six that we wrote what I would
call mini business plans for, anywhere between five and ten
pages, talking about competitors, talking about the opportunity.
And I loved all those ideas that we had, and we started
discussing them after writing that up. We realized that any
further discussion was just circling around imaginary numbers.
We could have made any of those ideas look good on paper, and
probably they were all good on paper, and had potential in
reality. But what mattered to us was could we get people to pay
with their attention for the idea.So we were like, we should put up some pages and see if we can
get some people to subscribe to email. And then we kind of joked
and said, why don’t we just build a product that does that, and
then in the worst case we’ll have a product that puts up landing
pages. And so that wasn’t actually one of the five ideas at
first, and so that kind of stuck. And there are probably a lot
of people in our position. So the product was built with
ourselves in mind at first, to solve this problem-that would
eventually be called the Lean Startup Movement-had, which was
trying to build an audience for something.I think my answer in terms of why KickoffLabs would be, we’re
terrible at naming. We’d like to have a really catchy name like
Yahoo or Google or something, but I don’t necessarily think it
matters. To me, I think it came from thinking about all of this
as an experiment. It was an experiment for ourselves, and all
businesses are inherently experiments until proven otherwise.And even as we’ve expanded our market, our campaign is
experimenting. You as a marketer might run a contest or a
promotion, and you are betting that you’re going to get more
customers than you’re putting into it, but it’s an experiment.
And the idea that we could make those experiments and those
campaigns quicker and easier to set up and either quicker to
fail or quicker to succeed, there was going to be a market for
that kind of thing, for helping people to experiment more
quickly.Trent: You know, that’s such a profound and important concept that I
think a lot of especially new entrepreneurs don’t have a strong
understanding of. I see people, they put all this time into
putting up a full website, and they write all the copy, and they
do all this stuff before they’ve done any validation whatsoever.
So tip of the hat to you, and I think the KickoffLabs name is a
great name to be honest with you, because it is very
representative of what you guys are doing.So when you first started, there’s things that get in peoples
way from taking action and moving forward, and one of those
things is competition. I see people, they find an idea, and they
go, “Oh, somebody’s already done that. I can’t do it.” And you
came into a space that there’s an 800-pound gorilla, called
Unbounce, which they have a super well-developed product. They
have tons and tons of customers. There are a number of other
ones that are around. Were they there when you guys started, and
were you aware of them? And if that was the case, why didn’t you
let that deter you?

Josh: Unbounce was around when we started, and so were about 20 other
companies doing not just general, because there are categories
of website development. There’s actual website development,
something like [Wicks], something like WordPress. We didn’t put
ourselves in the category of competing with that, we’re more
complimentary. So something specifically around landing pages,
we’ve captured probably 20 to 30 different larger to smaller
players in the space, so it wasn’t just them although like you
said, they certainly had the most professional looking offering
at the time.

But two things, one, it felt like our niche, going after the
basic, just email collection and idea validation market at
first, was being underserved by their product. We knew that from
talking to people that were using their product on Twitter, on
forums, online, so we knew that there were people that felt like
they were being underserved and weren’t necessarily the target
of what Unbounce is going after. The other piece of the puzzle
is when you look at something like keyword trends on Google, and
you start looking at what is your business targeting as landing
pages, and just seeing the number of searches that people were
doing for marketing automation, landing pages, those kind of
search trends have more than doubled every year for the last
five years.

And so that tells me that there’s a market that’s not only
large, but growing, and although a company may look like a 900-
pound gorilla, I’m sure that Unbounce feels that they’ve only
captured one percent of their potential market. So there’s a
huge potential market out there, and I think this is true with
any idea, until you get to Facebook size and you can say, “Wow,
half of the U.S. is on Facebook,” most businesses that will
start out, if you’re looking at competition, there’s not
somebody who truly has 90 or 99 percent of the market share.

Now, if you said your business was going to be a search engine,
I might tell you that there is an 800-pound gorilla in the room,
but if you said your business was going to be a search engine
that specialized in finding gluten-free menu options and scanned
the menus of every gluten free location and went ahead of Yelp
in that sense of doing far more than they did, and you took that
niche and that was going to be your product, I’d have a lot more
faith that you stood a chance of making some money in that
niche. I’d still have some questions if your longer term goal
was to become Google. But in the space that we’re in and the
size of competitors, I never viewed anyone as an 800-pound
gorilla, and I think that the market is healthy, and there is
room for competition.

Trent: Absolutely.

Josh: And personally, I’ll add one more thing. I’ve met the guys from
Unbounce, they’re in Vancouver, and actually I really like them.
We’ve sent customers their way, and vice versa. I have no
problem if someone is met better by some of their product
offerings, then I have no problem telling people that they’ll
have a good experience, because I know that they share some of
our same values around customer support and experience.

Trent: And I’ve used both products, and when I say used, I’ve used
theirs for a landing page, and yours, you were kind enough to
give me a trial so I could get in and play around with it, and
they’re different. Yours is definitely easier to use. Unbounce I
think does more, but it’s more complicated, and as you
accurately put it beforehand, there was a portion of the market
that they weren’t doing a good job of serving. And I think
that’s another very valuable lesson for people too.

You mentioned that you did research on Twitter, so I’m curious
about that. Did you go and find people? Did you set up a Twitter
search, for example? Just talk about how you used Twitter to do
that research and connect with those people?

Josh: Literally, we took a few of the competitors, Unbounce, Lander App, in
the startup space there’s a company called Launch Rock that
opened shortly after we started doing what we were doing, and
had a lot of fame. And we just started looking for mentions of
those services. And I just wouldn’t look for mentions, I would
look for the really positive or the really negative mentions. So
the really positive mentions, like “Oh, I love the product,” I’d
just follow up with them and say what do you love about
Unbounce, what do you like about it? I wouldn’t say, “Come use
our product,” that’s obviously in my bio and some people
probably clicked over, but my goal wasn’t to get people to use
our product, my goal was to learn where there was room to
improve or not to improve.

And once I’d asked what they loved about it, I’d say what do you
hate about it, what do you wish was better? And then obviously
the inverse questions for people who said I’m frustrated by
this, or I can’t figure out how to accomplish this with that
product. So you just sort of have conversations with people
online, and at one point, I was probably sending out 35 to 40
tweet replies to people that were using a potentially
competitive service to ours, to grill them on what we could do
and what paths would be best for us.

Trent: I think that’s an absolutely brilliant idea, using Twitter to
talk to the customers of a competitor. You know, the guy that I
interviewed earlier this morning, we were talking about books,
and he has a particularly good idea that’s been shared with me
now a couple of times, and I just want to pass it along. When
writing a book, or researching any kind of product, he goes to
Amazon, looks at the competitive products, and looks at the one-
star reviews. Because those are the people who aren’t happy, who
are saying it’s missing this, it’s missing that, and it’s
missing the other thing. And I thought that was an equally
brilliant way of getting insights into ways that you could add
value that didn’t currently exist.

Josh: And it helps, because you sort of see where you’re going. You just
have to be careful, because the trap I see some people fall into
is, like if somebody came to us and say, “I don’t like Unbounce
because I can’t do these 50 others features.” And I’m thinking
to myself, Unbounce is pretty fully featured. You want these 50
other things, is not to then add to my work item list, do those
50 things, because then person is not our customer as well,
given that we’re trying to go after the quicker, easier market.

Trent: Absolutely. The next two things I want to talk about are one,
how you defined that market, how you really figured out who your
customer was, and then how you developed an MVP, a minimal
viable product for them? So can you walk us through that?

Josh: So there was some of that research at first, there was looking at the
cross section of what’s the same about all these services and
the competition, that we would say to compete in the space we
absolutely have to have. And we took that list, and we said this
could be our MVP, and then we didn’t do some things that we
probably should have done at that point. We did put up our own
landing page, and eventually moved it over to our platform when
it was ready.

There are some things we didn’t do, like we could have taken
advantage of the people that we signing up to our list, and
sending them surveys and questions along the way. And that’s
what some of our better customers do today that have success,
they’re actually using our tools and emailing people every week
and saying, “Hey, check this screen shot of our product out,
what do you think about this versus that?” And so it was a lot
of what do we need to launch that we could be using as a
customer to get the very first thing out the door? Since we were
that customer.

Once we got the very first thing out the door, and when I say
out the door, we did a really limited beta. We invited maybe 10
people, most of which were friends that we could trust would
give us honest, good feedback, and then we launched it and put
up a “Pay for this” button. We didn’t have an interest in doing
a free beta for very long, because to be honest people who don’t
pay any money give terrible feedback. Once someone is paying
money, they tend to tell you what they really need.

So then we had a free plan signup and a paid plan signup, and
literally everybody that signed up, because when we launched we
weren’t doing tons of business in the first couple of months, I
just connected with them personally. Because what else was I
going to do? I could just spend time writing a feature I didn’t
know if anybody wanted, I could spend time trying to market,
which I did with the rest of my time, or I could start having
conversations with the people we were grabbing and say, what do
you need next?

For example, the first thing that we launched had an email
capture, but there was no automatic reply or follow-up. We
didn’t have that as a feature, and when about the fifth person
who paid us money just for doing the email capture said, “Boy,
you know this great, but what I hate is that now I’ve got to go
get these emails and put them in Mail Chimp or put them in
AWeber, and then I’ve got to go set up an auto responder. Could
you just make email as simple as setting up your landing page?”
And that fit right in with this value that we try to have of
keep things easy and simple. And so we said, obviously, it’s a
one stop shop, why should you have to go to a Mail Chimp to do
email? If you’re doing a quick campaign, why shouldn’t it just
be automatically set up for you that there’s an autoreply?

It seems like a fairly obvious feature, I’ll grant you, and we
waited until a few people who paid us money repeated it, and
said, “If you had that, I’d pay you twice as much.” And we said
fine, pay us twice as much and we’ll do that, and they did. And
so we raised prices, and those people were okay with paying
more, and we added the foundations of some email marketing to
our solution.
That was a good example, because we talked to the customers
personally. I emailed everyone who created an account with us
personally. I looked at their landing pages, I’d give them tips
for their page, and say your copy might be better if you do this
instead of that, and build the trust a little bit, and then get
their feedback personally.

When we got the feedback, we’d separate it into feedback from
people who were paying us, and feedback from people who weren’t
paying us, and it became pretty obvious what things people who
were paying us valued. And we evolved the product along those
lines and values since that time, keeping our core value
proposition in mind, but as people have suggestions along those
lines, if it comes up consistently from people who are paying us
something, then we’ve evolved the product in that direction.

Trent: Very smart. If you can come up with enough of an idea to get
early adoption and paying customers, and then listen to your
tribe, they’ll take you in the direction you need to go.

Josh: Exactly. And it was just looking at how people were using it. We
didn’t used to have a section of themes and templates and
features for people who were running contests, but then we
quickly discovered that people were using our platform to run
contests. It was kind of shocking to me, I hadn’t noticed, and
then one day I looked at the sites that were getting the most
subscribers. At first you have to deal a lot with informal data,
conversational data, but when you start getting more usage, and
you start running some queries, and you say what were the top
viewed pages across our landing system for the last month?

And then those top viewed, what are getting the most
subscriptions, and then of those, what pages are those? And a
third of the subscriptions were coming to contest pages, and
we’d never even marketed for people doing contests before. So I
reached out to a couple of those customers, and they said, “Oh
yeah, I just love it. We just set up simple contests all the
time, and we run them with your system. We love your system,
it’s great.” And I was like, we’ve got to get a case study out
there and actually market and do some features for you guys, and
evolve the product that way too.

Because it’s the same thing, it’s a campaign, it’s something
that people want to be able to set up and close really quickly.
We had some features like the referral feature we do, we have a
built in refer a friend feature that works really well for
contests. It made sense after we saw that data, but it was not
something we thought of before.

Trent: Talk about being able to extract the most valuable insights
having access to all that data, that’s absolutely just a gold
mine of brilliant, or I guess I should say bright, ideas.

Josh: It’s definitely a gold mine of ideas. You have to have a question
that you’re asking first. The question that I was trying to
answer was, what are people using our product for today? What
are the usages for it? That’s why I had to start digging the
data, and dumping it all into a spreadsheet, and categorizing
things, and really scrubbing it to figure out how we could
leverage that?

Trent: So I know there are people who are listening to this now who
would probably love to create their own software as a service
business. And maybe there are some limiting beliefs standing in
their way, and I’d like to see if we can knock a few of those
down. So first of all, are you and your cofounder, are you guys
coders yourselves?

Josh: We both come from the technical background, so I was the VP of
Engineering at the last company. If I remember, Scott was the VP
of Architecture, so he was much more technical than I was, so he
led the overall design and architecture of the product, whereas
the rest of the engineering staff, the testers, the designers,
the product managers reported through me.

Trent: How much time did it take you from no code to when you were
able to put up that very, very first buy button?

Josh: About four and half to five months of time. We started toward the end
of February and we launched at the end of June in 2011.

Trent: Okay, so that’s actually quite a bit longer than I thought.

Josh: It took us longer. I think we got caught up in some traps that people
get caught up in for building the first version of a product.
And I think both of us, until we started to see some results,
were maybe not necessarily 100-percent committed at the time.

Trent: So during those four and five months, this wasn’t your full-
time venture?

Josh: I was doing a couple of things on the side at the time, and it wasn’t
necessarily full time for me during that period.

Trent: Okay. So what advice would you give to someone who wants to
start their own software as a service business? They want to
tackle one problem, so we’re not talking about building another
InfusionSoft or anything like that. Do you think that if they
don’t know how to write code, they shouldn’t do it?

Josh: It’s really hard for me to answer that question, because I want to
just say no, because especially lately has we’ve hired people
and outsourced some development work of features and parts of
the product, we’ve realized that the coding part is some of the
least valuable pieces of what we can do for the product. But at
the same time, we would have eaten through a lot more of the
savings we had to fund it if we had to pay for that stuff
initially.

So the approach I see working now for some people is going about
building a related information product, selling that to get some
funds that you can then use to fund the development. I can’t say
that you don’t have to. I think it’s been really helpful, but at
the same time it’s held us back, because we didn’t know how to
market a product at first. We had no marketing experience. And
so we would have gotten to success a lot more quickly after we
had the product had we understood how to properly market it. And
not necessarily wasted the second half of 2011 making very
little money.

Trent: I want to talk about that, but before I do, I want to give a
link out. So I had a fellow on my show by the name of Sam Evans,
you can get to him at brightideas.co/69, and Sam did pretty much
what Josh just said, although he didn’t use an information
product. He did consulting work, and he used the profits from
that work to fund his software business which is Snap Inspect,
and it has taken off big time, Sam is now doing very well. But
definitely go and check out that interview. So Josh, you’ve
mentioned that you made some marketing mistakes. Can you talk
about the mistakes that you’ve made?

Josh: They’re so numerous.

Trent: Well, this is where the best lessons are, so this is why I want
to get into this.

Josh: When it comes to KickoffLabs, there were lots of mistakes going into
it. We got hung up on typical stuff like logo design, and design
of the marketing site aspects of the product. And none of that
stuff really mattered, and we focused so much on those kind of
designs, and not enough on the copy and writing down compelling
reasons for people to buy or use the product or sell the
product.

And even when we did focus on copy, we did the classic mistake
that an engineering focused team will make. We focused on the
features, and not the benefits. So we would say, we’ve got this
feature, and that feature, and we’ve got referrals, and we’ve
got easy put up pages, and great templates, but not putting up
the why or the benefit that people would get. We weren’t
speaking to customers, and that’s just the stuff we learned
after we launched.

Before we launched, we didn’t do enough to build an audience.
We’d had a few hundred people sign up for our list, but the way
we’d gone about building the audience was trying to leverage
people we knew in our own networks in a poor way. So we would
just say, tell your friends about our idea, or check this out,
like us on Facebook, and sign up at our page if you like it. We
were trying to use our own megaphones, as opposed to finding
other people’s audiences and megaphones.

And I see this mistake with some of our customers as well, we
set up a blog and started blogging. We said, you’ve got to have
a blog, you’ve got to post on your blog, but if no one comes by
to read your blog, what value is that post doing you? Especially
in the short term? Now, in the long term, a blog post can have
some great long tail, SEO effects, but in the short run, where
you’re just trying to get a burst, and get an audience, and do
that initial launch, and make more than 10 dollars in your first
month, I don’t think a blog is very helpful for that. Because
you don’t have an audience to start with.

So what is more helpful is leveraging other people’s audiences.
So stuff we learned along the way includes going to public
communities, like Quora or the Internet Marketing Forum, going
to inbound.org, and participating in those communities, and
building a reputation with just a minor link back to your site,
those are much more valuable, because you’re leveraging other
people’s megaphones . . . or going to other people’s blogs and
writing a guest post. You’re leveraging somebody else’s
megaphone to get attention on what you’re doing. Where can you
play up somebody who has a bigger but related audience to yours,
is a lesson that turned out to be really valuable for us that I
wish I’d known sooner.

And a lot of our customers do this much better than us. They go
out and they just set up the landing page, they don’t even have
their own blog, and they go out and they market the landing page
in these kind of communities and forums, and other people’s
newsletters, and instantly they’re able to get few thousand
people in the course of a few months sign up. And then they have
their own audience, then they can start email marketing, then
they can start promoting their own blog posts. But that initial
building of new audiences by leveraging other people was
something that we didn’t do very well at all.

Trent: Have you ever heard of a fellow by the name of James Clear?

Josh: No.

Trent: It’s very relevant to this; I’m going to bring it up. I spoke
to James; I did not record this interview I had with him this
morning. I was referred to him by another fellow that has been
on my show, and it’s just so timely I want to share it.

So James has a blog at jamesclear.com, that at the beginning of
2012 had 500 subscribers, and I think he had about 11,000
visitors in that month. He now has 20,000 subscribers and he’ll
do over 100,000 visitors this month, and what he did was
literally reposted his content on medium.com, on [Quora]. He
hounded the hell out of the Huffington Post until they published
one of his articles. He hounded the hell out of Life Hacker. And
he said, much to my surprise, that he’s been getting great
results from using Google Plus.

And I asked him, has there been any negative impact on your
traffic from SEO as a result of literally cutting and pasting
the HTML of the entire blog post onto one of these other
platforms. He has his little byline at the bottom. Everything
leads back to one very simple landing page, which causes his
subscribers to grow. And he said, “No, not at all.” No negative
impact on SEO, no penalties for “duplicate content,” and as a
result of warming up that content on, we’ll call them these
outposts, his lead capture page, which is incredibly simple,
converts at over 80 percent. It’s mind blowing.

Josh: It’s lower now in the last few months, but going through 2012, a
third of our revenue came from posts on Quora that we’d made,
and so people that I could track back, their original referral,
where they heard about us from, a third of our revenue was
coming from some questions that we’d answered on Quora about
landing page best practices, launching a new campaign, launching
a business. We answered all sorts of those questions, and that
was leading to a significant amount of our revenue. I’ll go and
post stuff as answers and use that as inspiration for our own
blog. And the ones that get popular, where I can probably write
this up, do a better job of it, and put it on our own blog, and
so I’ll take some of the better answers and repost them to our
site as well, so we get the long-term effect.

Trent: It was a big eye opener for me, and something I have not been
doing a good job of, so you can bet that like you I’ll probably
be making some experiments very soon.

So what should we talk about next? In terms of lead generation,
we’ve talked about a fair amount already. Is there anything that
has worked very well for you Josh that we have not yet
discussed?

Josh: It’s some refinements of things that we’ve talked about, in terms of
lead generation. For example, when people look at guest
blogging, I think it works best not to just look for this person
is an influence or in marketing, but does this person have an
audience that’s willing to pay money? So some of our best guest
blog posts have been with complementary products. We’ve done a
few guest blog posts on the User Voice blog, on the Kissmetrics
blog, for example. Those are complementary products that our
customers are also using, that charge money for something. So
the audience there is already familiar with the concept of
paying money for a service online, and although those blogs have
a smaller audience than some what I would call influencers in
the marketing space, the conversion results are much better from
those locations.

So when you’re looking for places to post content, thinking
about where there are people that spend money, hanging out and
reading, and going for it that way. So we’re participating with
Joanna from Copy Hackers, who is doing a 30-day boot camp course
with videos, and we’re contributing one of the videos, because
we know that when we do a promotion with Joanna, she’s got a
segment of customers that are already willing to pay for copy
and marketing services. So I know that while that video might
not get a million views, the views that it does get are going to
be really valuable for us.

The things I didn’t expect to convert at first, the things I
kind of ran a checklist that I went and did, because we tried a
little bit of everything, we’re about experimenting, being in
directories and lists related-whenever anyone would make a list
of the best landing page tools, trying to email the author and
get into that directory. And even just straight up directories,
like editing our entry in Crunchbase, editing our entry in other
places where there are just tools you can use. There are all
sorts of these directories and list building services, and as
long as you write up a couple of standard answers to questions,
and have a couple of standard screen shots you use, you can even
outsource that and have people submit you to 25, 50 directories.

And there are a couple of these directories that I would have
never guessed would drive us traffic and referrals. But for the
cost of having someone push promote us to a couple of those
directories, we get a good amount of revenue every month, and a
good amount of conversions every month form those locations.

Trent: Which were the top three, the best three locations for you?

Josh: I’d have to look that up. We do get a lot, in terms of directories,
from Crunchbase because in our market, people do look for a
competitor too, and they’ll type in a product. And Crunchbase
has a good tagging of competitors, so we made sure to tag all
the competitors, that we are a competitor to them. Which then
adds them to our listing, but then we get the vice versa listing
as well. And that’s been probably the biggest. To go beyond
that, it’s a lot of onesies and twosies that add up over time.
So I’d have to go back and look at the data to tell you. I don’t
have that in front of me.

Trent: Fair enough. So capturing leads is one thing, but as anyone who
has done that will know, not all leads are created equal. Some
people are ready to buy, some people aren’t, so there is a
process of nurturing those leads to lead them towards a
conversion. Can you talk a little bit about how, I’m assuming
you have an automated funnel that’s doing that for you?

Josh: Yes.

Trent: Can you talk about it?

Josh: Yes. So what we do if somebody comes, and they’re not signed into our
website today, they’ll see a pop-up that comes up that says,
“Sign up for a 30-day email course.” And so the email course is
all about how to design and write landing pages, so it’s called
Landing Pages 107. The point is, we’ll send anywhere from eight
to twelve emails throughout the course, we’re constantly
refining and playing around with it, but basically walking
people through researching for a landing page, designing the
landing page, writing the copy for the landing page. We’ve got
some downloadable worksheets that go with it.

It’s my belief that the best ads are educational in nature. Even
if you think about some of the best Apple ads, for example, that
talk about the iPhone, they’re showing people how to use it.
They’re showing people, here is an app you can download, and
here’s a finger actually using that app, to show you how simple
it is to do it. I think that’s genius, because it’s not just an
emotional play in the ad. They’re great, because they combine
the emotional play as well as this educational play, but what’s
often overlooked about great ads is the educational value of
them. The better we can do through this nurturing process of
helping people with education, and getting a better
understanding, then the more trust they’ll have for us, and the
more they’ll come back and spend money.

We get anywhere from 10 to 20 percent of conversions from people
who only ever signed up for the email course, and then decided
later to come back later and sign up for a free product, and
then maybe upgraded down the line to a paid product. The numbers
are potentially higher, but it’s sometimes hard to measure when
people go back and search. I ask people all the time, I have
kind of a vague how you found us, and they’ll say, “Oh, I took
your course,” and I’ve got no way to see that they did. I’ll go
back and look them up, and I can’t tell that they did, but
they’ll say, “Oh, the course was great. Somebody told me about
it, and so I signed up for the product,” but then they used a
different email address.

So you just have to ask constantly how people heard about your
product, because the best tracking and automation online doesn’t
always capture what’s bringing you leads. But I can tell you it
was 15 percent last month, people signing up for this course. So
we do that, and then after the 30 days are up, we have them on
our continuing education newsletter list, so every other week we
send out a tip or an article to promote something that we’re
doing. And we also sign people up for newsletters on
KickoffLabs, when they sign up for a free account, then they’ll
start getting alternating every other week between that
continuing education email and a new feature or announcement or
promotion with KickoffLabs that goes into it. In terms of
marketing automation, I call it human automation. I also wanted
to keep that concept of having a personal touch with customers
and following up with them.

So we have an email that comes out every day to the support
person, and it shows them new customers, new landing pages
they’ve created, whether they’ve paid or not, and some
information about the landing page, with a link to the page
they’ve created. And we’ve got essentially almost a sales script
developed, where, depending upon the stage that that customer is
at in their lifecycle, we’ll have him follow up, give them some
tips, and ask them some questions.

Now, you could say, why don’t you automate that, because
obviously the product knows roughly what the person has done,
what they’ve accomplished, whether they’ve published the page or
they haven’t? That script could be automated, and over time we
may do it, but there’s a huge value in personally reaching out
and saying, it looks like you’re setting up a contest, because
that’s a determination probably only a human can make on a
landing page, it looks like you’ve got about all the copy in,
but it doesn’t look like you’ve got a video in yet. Or it looks
like you haven’t set up the follow up email yet. Can I help you
with that? Here’s a link to a resource that helps you with that.

And so that is semi-automated, in the sense that there’s a
script and a path that people go through, but we get a lot of
follow-ups from customers that say, “Wow, great, thanks for the
tip. I don’t have anything right now,” but I can tell from the
follow ups that we’re getting that it’s creating a positive
impression and people are more likely to buy, or continue to be
customers from month to month, because they know that not only
are we available via support, but that we’re already helping
them proactively. And so there are those two things, being very
automated on the email side, and then the semi-automated
scripted human side of the follow up are the two big marketing
automation tools that we use.

Trent: So while you were talking about the free sequence, I made a
little not to myself, subject lines. And what I meant by that
is, that everybody gets a ton of email. So there’s always this
huge challenge of writing a subject line that’s going to get the
email opened. And there’s a fine line between too much hype and
not enough. In your educational series that goes over the 30
days, what style do you have with your subject lines, as I have
not opted in and seen your subject lines?

Josh: It’s a mix. I tend to believe that although headlines grab people in,
the headlines should match the style of the content, so the
content is very varied. Because I believe when you are doing one
catch-all for marketing, like this 30 days course that gets
thousands of people to go through it, there’s not necessarily
one email that’s going to drive them all to sign up. You never
know what will drive that particular person, so we try to vary
the style.

So within that course, there’s one that’s learning about the
design of landing pages, so the style is very much a play on see
how Apple designs the best landing pages. So that subject line
works really well, because people associate Apple with design,
and we do have a case study that walks through some Apple
developed landing pages, and why they’re tremendous landing
pages. So people love that follow up, but then we have another
one that’s a list later on, so in the measurement section, the
classic ten things you should be measuring, and that tends to
work really well, but it pairs with the email, because the email
really is ten things you should be measuring.

I go to the library a lot, and I work from there, and sometimes
I’ll sit across from the magazine section. They’ve got a huge
magazine section at the library, and I see all these headlines,
and it’s just great fodder, because you can see the Cosmo
headline, right next to the Economist headline, which is a weird
mix. I don’t know how they order the magazines, but you get on
one end “The 10 Secrets your Boyfriend is going to Love in Bed,”
and on the other side of it, you see “The Cause of the Economic
Collapse and what So and So does to Prevent It.”

This great mix of headlines is an inspiration. I recommend
anyone go to a magazine stand and just borrow from those
headlines, and then create the emails that really map to that
headline. Because there’s nothing I hate worse than a bait email
that then doesn’t match up with the article. Not one style per
se, but we’ve leveraged all these classic headline formulas to
improve the open rate of the course over time.

Trent: And what open rate do you have, overall? And I realize that’s a
really hard question, so it’s more of an opinion.

Josh: Yeah, because it varies. And so the different tools you use give you
different answers, but I’m pretty confident in saying that we go
anywhere from 25 to 35 percent open rates, depending upon the
email that goes out.

Trent: That’s pretty good. Is there anything on nurturing that we have
not yet talked about?

Josh: I think we covered the stuff that I meant to cover on nurturing
leads. I’d say that the piece of it that a lot of people
overlook is the following up. So there are two pieces. One is
following up when people leave the service. It’s not necessarily
nurturing a lead. Well, it is like nurturing a lead. There are
two categories of people who leave a service like ours. There
are people that are done with their specific campaign, and we
can tell that by looking at their page and the note they’ll
leave in the reason box. And so we’ll follow up personally with
everybody that leaves, and it says, “Did you have a great
experience? What can we do to make your next experience or
campaign better?” And just follow up with them to remind them
that we might be able to offer this for you in the future and do
an even better job of that in the future, and we see a lot of
those people come back for campaigns down the line.

The other category are people that leave because they don’t feel
like they’re getting the results that they wanted. So then you
can follow up in terms of why don’t you think you were getting
the results that you wanted? What could we have done better on
the product? And it turns out that we end up turning some of
those people around as well. And if somebody had good results,
we’ll say, “We noticed that you had good results. Do you mind
sharing them with people?”

So this is the second part of it, personally asking for
recommendations. And a lot of people don’t do it, so when people
do email support, and somebody says, “Wow, thank you, that
totally solved our problem,” a lot of times they’ll get a reply
back from us that says, “Don’t thank us, go on Twitter or
Facebook or your blog, and tell 5 to 500 of your closest friends
about us, and that will be thanks.” And people do, and it works
a lot better than just having like us on Facebook as a button.
When you have that as part of the process and the workflow, when
you’ve caught people at a time when they’re feeling great about
your service via a successfully resolved support case or a
question that you’ve answered for them, to actually say right
then and right there, “Don’t thank me. Go on Twitter, and
promote our service.” I’m not saying it that directly, but if
you see a lot of positive stuff about our service out there,
that’s where it started from.

And I’ll tell people, “Hey, did you know you can get your next
month free if you write a blog post about us? So if I see
somebody who’s got a blog, and someone who’s had a successful
support story, I’ll tell them, “Write a blog post about us, your
next month is free.” I’m not beyond bribery, it works. And we
get a blog post written about us. And even if the person doesn’t
have a big audience, you get enough of those over time, and the
onesies and twosies build up over time.

Trent: That’s a very good investment in marketing. I’m jotting that
one down too. I don’t know if you know this, but I always talk
about these golden nuggets in the episodes that I record, and
you have up to six golden nuggets so far.

Josh: Sweet. Don’t tell me what the record is, because I’ll try to beat it.

Trent: Actually I don’t know what the record is. I’ve not done a good
enough job of keeping track, but you’re close. You’re in the top
20 percent at this point, because I only have five lines on my
sheet, and so I’ve had to make extra space for yours. So folks,
if you want to be able to get to all of the show notes and so
forth for this episode, that’s going to be at brightideas.co/82.
All right, so continuing on then, and we’re going to wrap up
pretty quickly, I want to know if outsourcing has or does play a
role in your organization, and what your thoughts on using
overseas outsourcers are.

Josh: I haven’t had much success with overseas outsourcing. We’ve tried a
couple of small projects, we’ve tried a range. We’ve tried from
content creation through to some development projects, and have
not had much luck with those two categories of things. We’ve
ended up doing a much better job with onshore offshoring, if
that’s a term. Because I’m in Seattle, my cofounder is in New
Jersey, the marketing person is in New York, the support person
is somewhere else. Since we’ve done a great job hiring around,
it has been easy for us then to take on and give some projects
to people that live in the middle of nowhere, so they then have
a cheaper requirement for their rate than if I was to go hire
somebody in Seattle, to be honest because it’s not cheap to live
here.

We’ve had more success in coding and content creation projects
looking for other people within the states. The area we’ve had
some success with outsourcing, and it ended up being overseas
outsourcing, has been in smaller design projects. So, if we need
to have a banner ad created, we did a banner for our WordPress
plugin, and I wanted it to look much nicer than anything I was
doing, and I didn’t want to take our designer and do it. I just
put up a mockup on freelancer.com and said “Do this as a
contest.”

For banners, we’ve generally run contests or gone back to one or
two people, and gotten designs that have worked out well for us
in the past, and that seems to work well for an extremely
scoped, non-mission critical design thing. And there’s a lot of
those that you end up needing over time to have done. So that’s
where the offshore outsourcing works. For everything else, core
development, core design, core content and marketing, we haven’t
figured out how to make that work with the offshore labor yet.

Trent: Okay. Things that I’ve had a lot of success with offshore labor
are tasks that are checklist oriented, where you can really
detail step one, do this, do that, do that, do that, repeat.
Things like research, if I’m going to write a post, and I want
to be able to cite other examples, I can say, “Go Google these
terms, catalog these results,” that kind of thing. I think
that’s an area where it works really well.

And folks, there is a fellow who is going to be on my show
sometime in the near future, Chris Ducker, and if you go to
chrisducker.com/101, Chris is the founder of a company called
Virtual Staff Finders. They’ve had a lot of success and built a
great reputation for themselves, and in that post, you will see
an example of 101 things that Chris feels are very suitable to
be outsourced.

Josh: You did remind me, I guess I did do that once. When I talked about
the research that I did on people using our service, to
categorize all the landing pages we had, I did like the first 10
or 15 or so, and then I realized it was going to take me
forever, so I used Task Rabbit, and wound up with somebody
offshore from Task Rabbit to go and categorize the rest of the
stuff on the spreadsheet.

Trent: I haven’t heard of Task Rabbit before, is that like an oDesk or
Freelancer kind of thing?

Josh: Yes, and it’s built more so around you have one single task to do.
Their UI is much more like, I’ve got this one job to do, not I’m
going to keep rehiring this person hourly to be like a virtual
assistant. But if you’ve got one specific job that you know is
going to take you a day, that somebody else could be doing
instead of you.

Trent: Cool, there’s another little golden nugget for us. Thank you
very much. That’ll be in the show notes as well. All right, so
let’s wrap up with this. Are you doing any paid media to drive
traffic to help boost the growth rate?

Josh: Yes. We do campaigns. We’ve done retargeting through Perfect
Audience. We’ve done standard Google AdWords, and we’ll run
Facebook campaigns as well. And we’ve run Twitter campaigns.
Facebook and Twitter straight up campaigns that are not
retargeting campaigns have not worked out as well as the AdWords
and retargeting campaigns have done for us.

Retargeting, I like it, it makes a lot of sense. You did the
work to get them to a page, and no matter how good your initial
conversion rate is, the vast majority of people are going to
leave your page once they got there, so reminding them that you
exist for the case a month down the road where they’ve got an
actual need for you, and it’s more dire at that point, seems to
work really well for retargeting. And then for straight up ads
to draw in a new audience, using AdWords it took us a long time
and a lot of wasted money, but we’ve got a few campaigns that
seem to work really well now, in terms of refining it. Maybe it
was just not knowing enough about AdWords at first.

I wound up contracting a couple AdWords experts to teach us how
to do AdWords better, and through the lessons that they taught
us, some of the stuff they set up on our campaigns, they’re now
profitable campaigns on AdWords as opposed to audience building
campaigns, which is my nice word for unprofitable AdWords
campaigns. At least they’re helping to get the name out there,
even if they’re not profitable. But it’s better if you can say I
make money on this ad, rather than I’m just getting my name out
there.

Trent: So you used the term retargeting, and I think there’s a lot of
people who don’t know what that is, so just quickly explain it
if you would.

Josh: Retargeting in a lot of services, and Google offers it now, is just
the concept that you have somebody that may have heard about
your product or your service or what you do. They visit your
website, and they visit it once, and they may click around a
little bit, but they don’t do anything to give you their email
address or sign up or give you any information. Retargeting
systems in advertisements let you essentially stalk that person,
for lack of a better word, across the Internet, wherever there
are banner ads or other places. Wherever there are retargeting
spots that I end up seeing, I’ll go to a news website and it has
banner ads, all of a sudden I’m seeing these banner ads for
other [SaaS] products I’ve seen recently fill up my screen.

And it actually is good, because it reminds me that I did mean
to go try out this new service, I did mean to go try out this
new support tool that I visited and checked out. And also
through Facebook. Perfect Audience is a product that allows you,
when somebody visits your website, then serve up Facebook ads to
that person from within Facebook. And that seems to work pretty
well as well, getting into their social feed. I wouldn’t have
thought that it worked well, because at least in my case I’m
interjecting business into what I would think would be a
personal thing, but it tends to get people to sign up for our
course and it gets people to sign up for the product. They come
back to your site when they’re ready to take action, and then
they sign up.

Trent: Does Perfect Audience work only with Facebook, or is it like Ad
Roll, where you can retarget anywhere?

Josh: It’s primarily Facebook. We used AdRoll as well, and had a little bit
less success. I honestly didn’t like the fact that I had to come
up with as many fancy banners that I had to for AdRoll. It was a
little heavier weight than I was looking for, whereas Perfect
Audience is a little lighter weight, and easier to get started
with.

Trent: Okay, that’s one for me. I’ll have to check that one out too.
All right, well with that said, I think I’m going to wrap this
up here. If anyone wants to get ahold of you Josh, or they want
to try out your stuff, what is the best way for them to do that?

Josh: They can try out our stuff at kickofflabs.com. Our email course that
we talked about a couple of times is at landingpages107.com, and
then if you want to email me directly, it’s
josh@kickofflabs.com. And I’m Josh A. Ledgard on Twitter.
Someday I’ll hold the person who has Josh Ledgard at Twitter for
ransom, but so far they have not given me my name.

Trent: Why landingpages107? Everyone does 101, you did 107. What’s the
significance?

Josh: Because everybody does 101. Because we want to look different. It was
a tip I learned from a [Mixergy] interview about using odd
numbers to promote things. We found out that on our homepage,
instead of saying we’ve served 20,000 customers, to actually say
over 21,582 customers, that tends to convert better on our
homepage. And I’ve been applying that to other things. I did a
presentation I’ve done a few times on getting your first 989
customers, as opposed to saying your first 1,000, because
everybody does your first 1,000 customers, this is just your
first 989. And it leaves people wondering, how do I get the next
11 customers to get to 1,000? And when people ask the question,
they’re a little bit more engaged. So that was just the reason
we did landingpages107, because ours is better and it’s a higher
number, and it’s different.

Trent: Absolutely. Well thank you so much Josh for making the time to
be on the show, it has been a pleasure to have you on board.

Josh: Yeah, it was a lot of fun. Thank you.

Trent: Okay, so that wraps up this episode. To get to the show notes,
go to brightideas.co/82. After we stopped recording, Josh was
kind enough to extend to me an explanation of a contest he wants
to run, and here’s what we’re going to do. He’s going to give
away three promo codes, so in other words three free licenses
for his landing page software, to the best comments that are
left on the post, and you’ll get to that at brightideas.co/82.

Now this post will be going live on November 12th, and this
contest will run for a full 30 days after November 12th. So make
sure you go and leave your comment, because number one you’re
going to get an answer to the question that you ask, but number
two you stand a decent chance of getting a free license to
Josh’s software.

Now the other thing that I’d like you to do if you would is to
please head over to brightideas.co/love. When you are there,
you’ll see a prepopulated tweet to help spread the word about
the episode, and as well there is a link and a video to show you
how to go to iTunes and leave a rating, hopefully a five star
rating if you’ve enjoyed this episode for the show. And it
really means a lot to me when you do that, because it helps to
get more exposure in the iTunes store, and whenever that
happens, more entrepreneurs discover all the bright ideas that
are shared with them by the guests here on the show, and it just
helps a whole bunch of people, self included obviously.

So thank you very much in advance for doing that. So that’s it
for this episode, I am your host, Trent Dyrsmid. I look forward
to having you tune in on the next episode, which will be number
83. We’ll see you soon. Take care, bye-bye.

About Josh Ledgard

JoshLedgardJosh Ledgard is the co-founder of KickoffLabs – subscription software for landing pages, online forms, and email marketing – and the author of My Toddler Perfects Your Sales Pitch and Landing Pages 107.

Follow Josh on Twitter @joshaledgard.

Join the Conversation

One of the things that I love most about hosting my podcast is participating in the conversations they provoke. Each week, I ask one question. This week, it is this: Question: What part of your business are you struggling with most? Please share your answer by clicking one of the social icons at the top or bottom of this post.

Ask Me a Question

If you have a question, comment, thought or concern, you can share it by clicking here. We’d love to hear from you.

Subscribe to the Bright Ideas Podcast

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12 Ways to Get Personal Using Twitter

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This is a guest post by Michael Gass, whose Fuel Line blog has been ranked one of the top 100 marketing blogs in the world, according to Ad Age’s Power 150.

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Twitter allows me to open up and share my personal side to make an emotional connection with my audience.

Sharing personal information helps my audience get to know me beyond my profession. If all of my Tweets or Retweets were business oriented, my Twitter feed would be dry and robotic.

“People want to work with other people that they know, trust and like.”

A lot of people have difficulty with how to be personal on Twitter. Many tend to over-think their tweets. The truth is, The way you network offline is the same as the way you network online.”

I was just on the phone with one of the partners of a large agency in the midwest. He asked me if I could give him some examples. I came up with the following and thought I would share them in Fuel Lines for others who are having the same problem.

Here are some of the types of personal information that I have shared via Twitter:

1. Showing appreciation

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

When others are nice enough to retweet your posts, you should be willing to acknowledge them and “pay it forward”.

1 AMA

Another way to show appreciation is to have a “two-way” relationship. It shouldn’t be all about you. When people follow me, I reciprocate and follow them back. A couple of years ago, one of the early adopters of social media decided to dump thousands of people he followed. He had over 200,000 followers and unfollowed all but a few hundred. A number of others followed suit. I didn’t do that. I think it is respectful to treat others equally.

  • @RoxanneJoffe and her husband Sam Stern @mHealthMarketer , two of the nicest people I’ve ever met. A pleasure catching up w/ you both today!
  • @angelinestacy thanks for the #FF Angeline. I hope you had a great weekend!
  • @gfb3 thanks Frank. When I worked for Lewis Communications @Lewisideas I visited Mobile often. Hope you are having a great summer.
  • @mobstercreative very kind. Thank you!
  • @mnburgess thank you Mark. Very much appreciated. I hope you had a good weekend.

2. My Personal recommendations and opinions

Such as this recent Tweet: “If you are in retail you should follow @Ball_Brad, former CMO of McDonald’s, Warner Bros Pictures, Nascar Entertainment” or recommending a tool for new business: “I just subscribed to Job Change Alerts from @SalesLoft. 15 second signup here” http://jobchangealerts.com.

Another recommendation: @the_list_online thank you! And Congrats! The List was by far the most popular list service among the 300 agencies in this survey.

I share my likes and dislikes. For instance, I like Southwest Airlines and I greatly dislike US Airways.

A recent rant of mine via Twitter: “B’ham News keeps throwing these free papers onto our driveway. I’m saving them up so that I can dump them all on their doorstep!”

I choose not to share my political or religious views via Twitter. A good rule when sharing personal information in any social media network is to use some common sense. I only share what I would feel comfortable sharing in person when in a mixed setting such as a business meeting, trade show, seminar, etc.

3. Location information and travel

Some people are paranoid about sharing where they are. I’ve never been that way. Since I’m using Twitter as a networking tool for new business, I’ve found it beneficial to share where I am. For instance, I tweeted recently that I was on my way to Nashville. By the time I arrived, I had three additional meetings lined up with prospective clients.

Here is a sampling of my travel and location Tweets:

4. Inspirational quotes and stats

Great quotes and important statistics always create appeal and often become viral when shared in Twitter. Here are some that I’ve recently tweeted:

  • RT @GaryVee Guys once and for all – White wine is BETTER than Red Wine ..at least on my palate
  • Most agencies are in a perpetual state of re-branding or redesigning their websites or both!
  • By 2014, video as a total of Internet traffic will rise to 90% – souce CISCO
  • 80% of decision makers said they found their vendors not the other way around – MarketingSherpa
  • Love is more than flowers and a happy ending. True love is making another’s well-being more important than your own http://ow.ly/mCE7y
  • Advertising Wisdom @LeeClowsBeard No point setting up a client on Twitter if you can’t help them step it up on Twitter.
  • The first step towards getting somewhere is to decide you’re not going to stay where you are.” — John Pierpont Morgan
  • Survey: Over 86% of respondents reported using bureaus for recommending and hiring professional speakers http://ow.ly/kTS9F

5. Emotional experiences

I occasionally share my emotions and how I’m feeling. For instance, I wasn’t real happy having to spend the weekend on some major yard work projects. I had a number of guys chime in with some of their own disgruntlements about their “Honey-Do Lists”. I guess it’s true, “Misery loves company!”

Here are a couple of other Tweets of articles that I wrote sharing some very emotional experiences:

6. Articles and books that I recommend

Most people rely on word of mouth from trusted friends when it comes to finding good content. I’m often asked to recommend reading for business development, social media or agency presentations. I write a good number of book reviews and share them through Twitter. I recommend and even help promote resources that I feel will be helpful to my target audience.

  • I just bought: ‘How To Deliver A TED Talk: Secrets Of The World’s Most Inspiring Presentations’ http://ow.ly/kJnLQ
  • Why Is Facebook Blue? The Science Behind Colors In Marketing By @LeoWid
  • You have to check out the video trailer for @jaybaer new book, #Youtility. Very cool! http://ar.gy/YoutilityTrailer
  • The All Business “No Bull Crap” Guide to Social Media Marketing http://dld.bz/aymEZ
  • Free ebook for you: A Field Guide to the Four Types of Content Marketing Metrics. Download it here: http://ar.gy/4AK0
  • John Jantsch always provides such helpful content “How I Podcast and Why I Think You Should” http://ow.ly/kP0sC via @ducttape
  • Reading the The Insider’s Guide to Boat Cleaning and Detailing

7. Personal interviews

Interviews are a tremendous tool for personal branding. It builds credibility with your audience and allows you to showcase your specialty. Sharing them through Twitter allow’s your target audience to see, hear and get to know you.

8. Hobbies and projects

All of your communications through Twitter do not have to revolve around business. It’s a place to enlist conversations, helps and resources when you are engaged in a project or want to nurture a hobby.

9. Photos and videos of family, pets, travel, vacations, etc.

Photos and videos are powerful because people are visual. They can help to quickly create an emotional connection with your Twitter audience. Here’s a sampling of photos and videos I’ve shared:

10. Contests and Polls

Conducting polls and engaging in contests provide lots of opportunities for engaging with others and real time feedback via Twitter. Here are some examples:

  • @bhammag Best Pets Photo Contest – Please vote for my daughter’s pup Brady by clicking “Like” http://ow.ly/ldxLQ Thank you!
  • Should people be given the freedom to work from home? http://twtpoll.com/glrwjj via @michaelgass (this poll generated over 200 responses)
  • Are you a Mac or PC person? http://twtpoll.com/1s5hx5 via @michaelgass
  • Fuel Lines’s ‘Ad Agency Blog of the Year’. Vote for your favorite from among these ‘Blog the Month’ winners: http://twtpoll.com/ifkezk via @michaelgass (Over 3000 responses)
  • Should Ad Agency Pitches and RFPs Be a Thing of the Past? http://twtpoll.com/3n6yo7 via @michaelgass

11. Causes

47% of Americans learn about causes via social media and online channels.

Liz Strauss is a well known social media strategist who has been battling throat cancer. To fight the cancer, it required extensive chemo and radiation. On top of her treatments, Liz also suffered a fall that broke her hip and shoulder. As a result, Liz was confined to the hospital from December through March. Her friends created an auction fundraiser with all proceeds from the fundraiser going to Liz. Tweets like the following helped spread the word quickly:

12. Events, TV Shows and Movies

I’ve tweeted television events such as the Oscars and shared my opinions of the Super Bowl ads. I’ve engaged with others via Twitter while watching programs such as AMC’s Mad Men and The Pitch.

Additional Twitter articles that may be of interest:

About Michael Gass

mike-gass-caricatureMichael Gass is an international new business consultant to advertising, digital, media and PR agencies. Since 2007 he has led in the use of social media and content marketing strategies to make agency new business EASIER.

He is the founder of Fuel Lines, which has been rated among the top 100 marketing blogs in the world, according to Ad Age’s Power 150.  You can reach Michael at michael@michaelgass.com.

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Michael Gass Tells Me How He Gets 30,000 Visitors a Month

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As I have written about many times before, one of the really terrific things about having a podcast is that it is an extremely powerful tool for networking. Thanks to my podcast, my professional network has never been better – and the best part is that I don’t have to fly to conferences to expand it.

Just a few minutes ago I got off the phone with Michael Gass – a past guest on my show – and we talked about the promotional part of his digital marketing strategy. Since interviewing Michael some months ago, he and I have started to get to know each other a bit and I have quite enjoyed my interactions with him. Had it not been for my podcast, it’s unlikely that Michael and I would ever have crossed paths; much less become the business-friends that we now are.

Michael runs a blog called Fuel Line that is very popular with ad agencies. After reading one of my most recent blog posts, Michael emailed me to offer to help me with some ideas on how I could further increase traffic to my blog.

As I am always looking for ways to increase my traffic, I was very happy to take Michael up on his offer.

Michael Gets 35,000 Monthly Visitors

mike-gass-caricatureMichael has been blogging for quite a number of years now and his site receives between 30,000 and 35,000 visitors a month. Currently my site is getting around 10,000 visitors a month, so I was very sure that the advice that Michael was going to give me would be worth listening to.

Rather than keep Michael’s advice to myself, I thought it would be a good idea to go ahead and write this quick blog post to share his ideas with my audience as well. I hope you enjoy them!

If you have questions or comments about the ideas that Michael shared with me, please make sure and use the comments down below so that we can start a mini-mastermind on how to promote our blogs and generate more traffic.

Below is a list of all the tools that Michael told me about, along with his advice on how to use each one of them

SocialOomph

socialoomphSocialOomph is a tool that he uses to promote his content across a variety of social networks including Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Michael told me that he has around 800 posts on his blog and he uses social to regularly promote about 250 to 300 of his best posts. To do this, he creates a spreadsheet with the blog post titles and URLs and then uploads that spreadsheet to SocialOomph.

He creates a schedule that shares one of his posts every other hour from 3 AM to midnight every single day from Monday to Friday. He told me that this schedule matches the work schedule of his target audience around the world.

To create a spreadsheet he pastes the post title and the URL on one line with just a space between the two of them.

The main thing to understand about how Michael is using social is that he does not use it to promote his latest posts; instead he uses it to continuously promote his best posts. To promote his latest posts he uses HootSuite Pro.

Hootsuite Pro

hootsuiteHootSuite is another tool that allows you to promote your content across a wide variety of social networks and is one that I currently use. Unlike Michael I have been using only HootSuite Pro to promote both my new posts and my past posts on an ongoing basis.

In Michael’s case, whenever he publishes a new post he uses HootSuite Pro to promote his new post three times per day for a week. After the week is complete, he then stops using HootSuite to promote that post and adds it to his spreadsheet that gets uploaded to SocialOomph.

StumbleUpon

stumblupon-logoMichael told me that he has had very good success using StumbleUpon to promote his new posts. He didn’t say that there was anything particular about how he used it, other than to say that it was a part of his promotion strategy. I am already using StumbleUpon, and in terms of social networks that are sending traffic to my site, StumbleUpon ranks fifth behind Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and mobile Facebook.

Twitter

twitter-logoMichael is a very big advocate of Twitter and tells me that he gets a lot of traffic from it. In checking his account I see that he has 64,633 followers. He tells me that he used to use a tool called TweetAdder her to build this following however; over time, that tool has lost a great deal of its effectiveness.

He is now using a tool called ManageFlitter. ManagerFlitter has a free version and a paid version. Michael is using the paid version. He recommends following no more than 100 people per day and then he sets the program to wait for about three days and then unfollows anyone that doesn’t follow him back.

He tells me that you can build a very targeted following (which leads to traffic!) by following people who are influential in your niche, and then by following those that follow that person.

I’m sure that some folks think that using automation to build your Twitter following is something of a gray hat tactic, however, as it is a strategy that is working very well well for Michael, I did not want to excluded from this post. Plus, it’s a strategy that I intend to test for myself.

I should also add that as of right now, I have only 2,470 followers and Twitter is my #1 source of social referral traffic, so I can only imagine how much more traffic I’d receive it I had 60,000 followers like Michael does.

Another past guest of mine, Casey Graham, founder of The Rocket Company, told me that Twitter has, by far, been the biggest source of his traffic as well.

Blog Post Syndication

As I have been having very good luck by syndicating my content other blogs, I suggested to Michael that we each pick a post from each other’s blog to publish our own blogs. Seeing the results that I had achieved with syndicating content like this, Michael was very open to the idea and so we are going to trade posts here in the very near future.

Michael has some concerns about potential duplicate content penalties so that he said he’s going to keep a close eye on this, and if there is no noticeable drop in SEO traffic (his largest source), were going to begin syndicating content to each other’s blogs on a more regular basis.

I strongly encourage that you build relationships with other bloggers and begin to do the same.

To do this, you can either get to know someone like I have done and then send each other the raw HTML for publication on each other’s blog, or you can use a service like Repost or Triberr. Both Repost and Triberr make it very easy for other people to publish your content to their blog with only the click of a mouse.

Both services are free and quite easy to use. In fact, if you like this article will notice that there is a repost button up at the top so you can easily repost it to your blog.

Let’s Review

  • Use SocialOomph to manage promotion for your best posts on an ongoing basis
  • Use HootSuite to promote your new posts for the first week after they have been published
  • Used StumbleUpon to attract a new audience to your blog
  • Use ManageFlitter to rapidly grow your Twitter following
  • Syndicate your content to other people’s blogs to expand your audience

Want More?

Aggressive content promotion is something that I have really only started to do myself in the last 30 days or so, and as I wrote about in a recent traffic report, the results that I have been able to achieve in a very short period of time have been nothing short of amazing.

At the time that I published my traffic report, I reported a 68.57% month-over-month increase in traffic. Since then, my traffic has continued to climb and is now about three times the amount that it was prior to my implementing the strategies that I outlined in my post.

Next Steps

If content marketing is a strategy that you want to make use of in your business and your looking to achieve significant results in the shortest period of time that I would encourage you to get on the VIP list for my new book. When you do, you’re going to receive a free chapter, which (conveniently enough) is the chapter on content promotion. Plus, as a VIP, you will be eligible for a 25% discount on the book on the day that the book is released.

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Digital Marketing Strategy: Lead Gen Secrets from an Agency That Generated 5,500 Leads in 12 Months

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Toby Jenkins 4 in x 6 in x 300 dpi x FC

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Toby Jenkins is CEO and co-founder of Bluewire Media, a successful marketing agency located down under. Bluewire has a great digital marketing strategy, with a combination of proven standard methods and outside the box thinking.

I learned a lot during this interview, from their unique tools and templates to their co-branded content with David Meerman Scott.

Toby also shared their impressive landing page conversion stats (see them below, just under the Resources section).

And for you solopreneurs who want to build an agency, be sure to listen to the advice Toby has especially for you (it’s near the end of the interview). (For more agency Bright Ideas, check out our other posts that are especially relevant to marketing agencies.)

Listen now and you’ll hear Toby and I talk about:

  • (3:40) Introduction
  • (6:00) Reviews of results
  • (6:40) Overview of his co-branded content with David Meerman Scott
  • (10:40) Overview of templates and tools
  • (17:40) How they are a driving traffic (reverse engineering search terms)
  • (20:40) Overview of blogging strategy
  • (23:40) Description of the Niche they focus on and how they use the funnel to identify them
  • (26:10) How speaking at events fits into their client attraction strategy
  • (30:40) Overview of how live events have fit into their marketing
  • (32:40) How they engage with a client
  • (35:40) How they overcome objections in the sales process
  • (37:40) How they are using LinkedIn
  • (40:40) Overview of a revelation in their landing pages
  • (44:40) Overview of how they segment and nurture their prospects
  • (48:10) Overview of how they manage service delivery
  • (56:00) Best advice for solo-consultants that want to build an agency

Resources Mentioned

Bluewire’s Impressive Landing Page Conversions

  • WEB STRATEGY PLANNING TEMPLATE LANDING PAGE
    Landing Page Conversion: 32.01%
  • WEB STRATEGY SECRETS E-BOOK
    Landing Page Conversion: 60.44%
  • WEB STRATEGY PLANNING TEMPLATE HOME PAGE
    Landing Page Conversion: 4.8%
  • SOCIAL MEDIA GUIDELINES
    Landing Page Conversion: 52.75%
  • SOCIAL MEDIA PLANNING TEMPLATE
    Landing Page Conversion: 40.97%

More About This Episode

The Bright Ideas podcast is the podcast for business owners and marketers who want to discover how to use online marketing and sales automation tactics to massively grow their business.

It’s designed to help marketing agencies and small business owners discover which online marketing strategies are working most effectively today – all from the mouths of expert entrepreneurs who are already making it big.

Listen Now

Enjoyed this Interview? Here’s How To Leave us a Positive Review on iTunes!

If you enjoyed this episode, click here for more information on How to Leave Us a Positive Review on iTunes! Your review will help to spread the word and get more entrepreneurs like you interested in our podcast. Thanks in advance - we appreciate you!

Transcript

Trent: Hey there bright idea hunters. Welcome to the bright ideas
podcast. I am your host, Trent Dyrsmid, and this is the podcast
for marketing agencies and entrepreneurs who want to discover
how to use content marketing and marketing automation to
massively boost their business without actually massively
boosting the amount of hours you have to work every week. And
the way we do that is we bring in proven experts onto the show
to share with myself and the audience exactly what they are
doing to build to make their businesses successful and in this
episode we are going to do just that.My guest is a fellow by the name of Toby Jenkins he’s the co-founder
of a marketing agency by the name of Bluewire Media down in
Australia, and they’re doing about 600,000 dollars a year with a
relatively small team, and they are just absolutely killing it
with their content marketing. They generated 5,500 leads last
year. They onboard, the way they, it’s really quite interesting.
They don’t ever call a prospect to get them to become a client.
Their content marketing and their funnel is working so well that
the only time they end up getting a client, or the only time
they ever bring a client on board is when that client calls
them. So imagine how nice that would be in your business if you
didn’t have to be making cold calls or doing those things the
outbound marketing stuff that most people don’t really want to
do and most people don’t really want to receive anyway.So we’re going to talk all sorts about how they’re using for example
templates and tools at about the seven-minute mark in this
interview, to generate all of those leads and we’re going to
give some specific examples on how they’re doing that. At the 17-
minute mark, we talked extensively about their strategy behind
blogging and how they’re sharing their content and how that is
generating a lot of traffic for them. What else do we have here?
Thirty-four-minute mark we talked about how he’s using LinkedIn
and as well at the 37-minute mark a big revelation they made on
how they do their landing pages and how it massively increased
the conversion rate so much so that they’re actually higher than
HubSpot’s own landing pages so that’s pretty cool too.And way down at the end of the 52-minute mark, Toby shares his best
advice for solo marketing consultants that actually want to grow
their business and build an agency. This is a really fantastic
interview if you’re a marketing consultant or run a marketing
agency and want to do a better job of it.Before we get to that I want to very quickly tell you about two
things. Number one if you do run an agency and you’re looking
for a mastermind group to join go to brightideas.co/mastermind,
we’re adding new members on almost a daily basis and the other
thing I wanted to tell you about was a book I’m writing. And you
can learn more about it at brightideas.co/book, and in this book
I am going to share with you everything that I have learned
through firsthand experience over the last two years in online
marketing and marketing automation as well as all of the golden
nuggets that I have picked up from the 80-plus successful
entrepreneurs that I have interview here on the show.So that said, please join me in welcoming Toby to the show. Hey Toby,
welcome to the show.Toby: Hi Trent, thanks very much for having me.Trent: No problem at all. It’s a pleasure to have another Aussie on
from the land down under. Love that about the internet, you can
talk to people halfway around the world and you don’t even have
to pay long distance.Toby: Incredible.Trent: That it is. So I’m really excited to have you on the show here
because we’re going to talk about how you’ve turned your
marketing agency Bluewire Media into the success that it is.
We’re going to walk through a lot of the strategies and tactics
that you used and before we get into any of that I want to give
you the opportunity to share with us two things. Who you are,
and a little bit about your background and just some of the
results.Toby: Yeah, sure. So I’m Toby Jenkins and I’m the CEO and co-founder of
Bluewire Media and Bluewire Media is a web strategy and
marketing firm in Brisbane and Sydney Australia. Yeah we work
with clients who are really dedicated to being number one in
their market niche. And also recently we found that clients who
we worked best for have skin in the game. So whether it’s
ownership or reputation or a real passion for what they do,
they’re the ones who we most like to work with on a daily weekly
monthly quarterly basis. It’s pretty exciting time to be in
marketing and inbound marketing.Trent: That would, I would agree with you on that one. When did you
start the company?Toby: So we started the 7th of January in 2005 and we started as a web
design agency and it’s actually a bit of a funny story because
you should say it was a week later because in the first week we
decided, Adam and I, I would register the business name, and
then we decided that we’d go on a surfing holiday now that we’re
business owners.We went surfing for a week in the first week of business and
subsequently learned it takes more than just registering a
business name to qualify yourself as a business owner.Trent: That is pretty funny. I’m guessing you didn’t make any money
during that first week.Toby: No, not much we were just glowing in the satisfaction of a new
business.Trent: So the folks who aren’t business with your firm, to give them
some idea of what you’ve built, in the last 12 months how much
revenue have you generated?Toby: So we generated just under 600,000 in the last 12 months. We have a
team of six full-time employees and some contractors coming and
going depending on what was going on.Trent: Okay so you’ve got a pretty decent revenue stream going 50K a
month is a very nice business. I’m sure many people who are
listening to this episode would love to be achieving similar
results, and the goal I have for this interview is to try and
extract as much really helpful information from you to help them
get there, as possible.So in the pre-interview you had mentioned something to me that I kind
of want to jump right into, which was that you mentioned you co-
branded a piece of content with a fellow of the name of David
Meermen Scott. So can you tell me who is he and then what was
this thing that you did with him?Toby: Yes sure, so David Meerman Scott is the author of a book called The
New Rules of Marketing and PR, and to me it really was one of
those books along with Seth Godin’s Permission Marketing that
sets a really deep understanding of why the web works the way it
does in terms of marketing and you really set a tone it really
resonated in the fact that you need to be servicing your
customer and understanding the customers problems and what have
you. We both read the book and we’re really quite amazed by it.
And we decided that was the way that we wanted to go in terms of
the marketing that we were doing with our clients and then so we
put together this tool, the one page web strategy planning tool
which was kind of based on, I don’t know if you know, Verne
Harnish [SP].Trent: I do very much. Yes.Toby: So Vern is famous for his one-page strategy tool and we decided well
if Vern had done it and we’re a huge advocate of Verne’s work as
well, we would combine these two works that we’d seen and try to
create something for ourselves. So we took David’s book and the
concepts behind Seth Godin’s Permission Marketing and Purple Cow
and decided to put it into this one-page web strategy planning
template.And from there we basically, and we were quite excited by it, that
this would be a very useful tool for our clients and for us as
the marketing consultants in the process. I just emailed David
one day and said, ‘Hi David, Adam and I both really enjoyed your
book and thank you very much for sharing all that information
and here’s something we can put together. We’d just be
interested in your feedback.’ And he came back and said ‘Guys, I
love it. Would you be interested in co-branding this if we
tweaked a little bit of the wording here and there?’ And so
yeah, we collaborated on this tool, and basically he
subsequently used it in the second and third and fourth edition
of his new rules of marketing and PR. And also used it within
his presentations for his audiences and recommends it as well.
So it’s been a really exciting journey, and he was an
aspirational contact of ours. Someone who we aspired to learn
from in his area of expertise, to be able to collaborate with
him was really exciting.Trent: Yeah, no kidding. Not to mention probably a big credibility
boost for you.
Toby: Yeah, I mean he is a big name over in the US, and certainly a big
name in the online marketing space in Australia. It’s great to
be associated with someone like that in any way you can be
really.Trent: Yeah, absolutely. So this template is that something that you
could send me a copy of so I can include it as a download in the
show notes for this episode?Toby: Yeah, absolutely. Yep, so it’s available for download on our website
along with a whole bunch of other templates and tools that we’ve
created as well, which I’ll probably dig into in a little bit a
little bit further into the interview. But certainly I’ll send
one through.Trent: Okay so let’s dig into some of those other templates and tools
now, I’m going to break from my traditional line of questions
because if you’ve got some stuff that is interesting to talk
about, let’s just head right over to it. So what are some of
these templates and tools that you’ve created?

Toby: I guess one of the things that we’ve found, particularly on the back
of that experience, was that having the support of someone like
David, in terms of creating a tool, was that we got some traffic
to our website and people were downloading it. The particular
tools have probably been downloaded in excess of 10,000 times
definitely.

So we realized that basically people were looking for tools and
templates that they could use in their own businesses that would
help them to organize their thoughts and really I guess that’s
the whole premise of content marketing, to be useful in the
first place. So we set up a bunch of whole other things like
social media guideline templates, social media planning
templates, editorial calendar templates, and inbound marketing
aid and business aid books. Which are kind of aid books that
explain the templates and how to use them along with some of the
thinking behind them. On our website we’ve got probably maybe 15
different downloads.

And yeah, we’ve really found that further in the interview you wanted
to talk about leads but really that’s how we’ve generated an
enormous amount of leads is by offering these sort of tools and
templates that others find really useful. We’ll be happy to link
and share and all that kind of thing. So it’s been a really
interesting process for us.

Trent: Well that does segue into where I was going to go just before I
asked that last question. A lot of times we spend the beginning
part of the interview talking about lead generation, so we’re
going to do that now. Now these templates and these tools, the
templates in particular that you were just referring to, are
they top of the funnel lead generators or do you use them mid
funnel to help segment and find out who the people are that
maybe you should now be reaching out to who are already in your
funnel?

Toby: Yeah, good point. Look, they are probably a mix to be honest. The
reasoning behind the template is what we’ve found that a lot of
people convert because they are looking for something quite
specific when they arrive at our website and relative landing
pages for those things. It is often top of the funnel stuff but
then I guess that e-books and the explanation that follows the
templates are really good middle funnel and really good
qualifying paths to our process.
And I mean we use HubSpot to track what people have downloaded and we
use that when we’re just about to jump on phone calls and that
kind of thing as well to see how much they’ve downloaded. Which
particular pieces they’ve downloaded to see how that helps to
qualify our discussion before we go into it.

Trent: So yeah let’s do a quick comparison between HubSpot and
InfusionSoft because you use one and I use the other so let me
explain how I do that and you can tell me how you would do it
because I’m curious if there’s any real differences. So within
InfusionSoft if anyone fills out a form or clicks a link in an
email a report I can apply a tag for example that tells me that
they have downloaded any number of reports, unlimited text. And
then there’s something called lead scoring, so then I can go
into lead scoring and say on a scale of 1 to 50 or 1 to 100,
whatever, I can say every time they download, let’s just say a
scale of 1 to 50 and there’s 1 to 5 links. So if they have 50
points they clicked 5 links, and if they have 0 points they
didn’t click any link and they’re a cold lead.

So let’s say they go and download three different mid-funnel reports
I can A, dynamically adjust their lead score so that I would be
able to see that and I can also trigger let’s say they
downloaded my mid-funnel report B, as soon as they download it I
can initiate a campaign that could include a task for me or a
member of my team to reach out via the telephone or Skype or
whatever way we wanted to. If it was email it would be
automated, but if it was a voice call we could put a task is to
say hey, you know, to call them and ask them if they have any
questions. Do you do anything really different with that with
HubSpot?

Toby: No, not really. I mean that sounds very similar, I mean we can select
what goes out next if someone downloads the web strategy
planning template they’ll receive the web strategy planning book
which is the next step in the nurturing process we kind of see
that as kind of a nurturing process and really sounds very
similar to what you’re doing with InfusionSoft.

Trent: Okay. I kind of thought it would be but I wanted to make sure
because obviously you have experience with one tool and I do the
other.

Toby: Yeah, yeah. I guess the other thing that HubSpot does quite well is
that it does pull in some research data around a particular
contact. Does InfusionSoft do that?

Trent: You know, I don’t think so. I think that’s one of the things
they’re working on. As long as you put the analytics code into
your site you can start to track by cookies what people are
doing and looking at prior to them becoming a subscriber so that
you can look at reports and then kind of figure out what people
are looking at before they become a subscriber. But if it does
do social media, I just haven’t turned that stone over yet. So I
can’t really give you an answer.

Toby: Yeah, okay. No, I mean I’m interested in InfusionSoft as well so we
use ours software and it’s always nice to see what the
differences are.

Trent: Yeah we could probably actually do an entire episode, that’s
probably not a bad idea to be honest with you. We should do an
entire episode and say come up with 10 key marketing strategies
and then talk about how each one of the tools helps us address
that strategy. If you would be up for that, let’s do that for
another episode.

Toby: Yeah that would be cool, that would be really good.

Trent: All right, folks we’re going to do that. Thinking a few steps
ahead on the fly, shazaam. All right so on the topic of lead
generation I’m on your site now and I see under tools and
downloads you’ve got a lot of different tools and downloads. So
each one of those things is generating leads for you, I’m
guessing.

Toby: Yeah.

Trent: How are you driving traffic? Just what content producing
content?

Toby: Yeah, producing content. Blog drives a lot of traffic and looking
into our search terms and how people are finding us. Sort of
reverse engineering our search terms as well so looking at the
ways by using those search terms and what we see through our
Google analytics and through HubSpot we come to realize what
great content opportunities there are. And we try to tailor that
content for those particular search terms.

Trent: So let me, I want to ask you some questions about that. So when
you say reverse engineer, are you really saying you’re doing
keyword research and you’re finding out what phrases people are
searching for and you’re creating content to answer those
questions? Or is it something different than that?

Toby: Yeah, so let me think about this. Yeah, so it’s a bit of a
combination. So literally you know, we have learned what
converts well on our website. Typically it is the tools and
templates and the e-books that people are searching for so by
providing those templates and tools and the things that we use
in our everyday business and consulting business we are able to
share hat and what we found is that people are looking for it as
well. So it’s kind of been a little bit of guesswork and a
little bit of research-informed guesswork I guess. If someone
has an idea, hey look what about a…

For instance, we’ve got the social media image sizes is a recent
example. Hey maybe we should, we were thinking, as we were going
through our clients and making sure all their social media
profiles were up to speed and our designer said ‘Hey look, I
need to know what these image sizes are.’ And there’s certainly
other websites that are offering the image sizes, it’s not like
we’re the first site to dream it up by any stretch of the
imagination. But it is something that we do every day because
it’s something clients need. Say when we start to look around we
realize that it is actually a really useful tool to offer and
useful page of information so we decided, okay, we don’t do that
and social media definitely gets the interest in this
environment so it was an easy thing to consider. Writing the
actual headline and content for that landing page meant that we
did a bit of research around how we were going to actually title
the basic content.

Trent: Okay, so with your blog how many posts per week or per month
are you producing?

Toby: We’d be doing at least two or three a week and have been doing so for
the past three or four years I guess.

Trent: And how do you come up with your ideas for what you write
about?

Toby: Good question, a lot of it stems from the work that we’re doing with
clients and the questions that we’re being asked on the phone.
So we do in that sense our clients are our best form of research
because the problems that we’re helping them solve are the
problems that are probably more broadly applicable as well. And
so we use those questions and try to answer them in particular
the questions that we get asked all the time are the ones that
we try to answer on the blog.

Trent: Yeah makes a whole lot of sense. Because I mean Google is just
one big question and answering service so you’ll get found.

Toby: It’s amazing isn’t it?

Trent: It is. Are you familiar by a fellow of the name of Marcus
Sheridan?

Toby: No.

Trent: He’s another HubSpot partner, I interviewed him. He’s kind of
famous for his company called Rivers Pools and Spas because what
he decided to do-and his interview by the way, if you want to
get to it is at brightideas.co/27-when the downturn happened in
’08 obviously the pool business was affected in a big way. He
was spending 200 grand a year on advertising which he could no
longer afford to do so he figure d out every question that
everybody would ever ask prior to purchasing a fiberglass pool
and over the next years or so wrote a blog post to answer every
single one of those question. Now he gets an insane amount of
traffic. He’s the highly most trafficked fiberglass pool website
in the world and he comes up number one for almost every term
you could ever think of.

Toby: Incredible.

Trent: And he’s a HubSpot guy so through this analytics he’s able to
see that the number of visits to the site and time spent on the
site so he can predict accurately who’s going to become a
customer.

Toby: Yeah, I love that because that is really the thing that resonated
with me most probably about David Meerman Scott, New Rules of
Marketing and PR, was that he had this question was that, “What
problems do you solve?” Are you a buyer? And that was the first
question that he asked in his persona discussion, there’s a
short component around trying to describe this person. Then he
said it’s all driven around what are the problems that you
solve. And if you frame that as being ‘What are the questions
that you answer?’, then that is a brilliant example of how that
would work. Marcus Sheridan, that’s really cool.

Trent: Okay then. So have you focused on specific niche with your
business?

Toby: Yeah, so I guess our niche is really what we see as being someone who
is dedicated to being number one in their market niche. And
we’ve changed a lot to be honest, Trent. You know there was a
time where probably 3 or 4 years ago where we had 400-odd
clients, and we are now down to less than 10 who we really do an
enormous amount of work for. And who are committed to the daily
weekly monthly activity coordinated activity that dictates that
you make 52 incremental improvements over the course of the year
rather than a wholesale change every two or three years. And
it’s almost been an attitude that’s been the most defining
feature of our target audience.

Trent: How do… I mean I think it’s brilliant what you did because 10
clients is way easier to manage than 400. But how do you, in my
case for example, we’re test marketing to dentists right now.
Well they’re pretty easy to identify, they’re a dentist. How do
you identify somebody who is committed to being the number one
in their niche? They don’t exactly write it on their header on
their website. Hey we’re committed to being number 1 in our
niche.

Toby: Yeah, for sure. Well I mean one of the things that we see if the
content that we produce and the fact that if they’re accessed
it, and how many times they’ve accessed the various tools and
templates that we’ve got typically they came to learn they
really came to learn. What we’ve found is that we put quite a
few hurdles in place, so once they’ve downloaded them we keep in
touch and we also use our IP in terms of information you can
get, free information typically we run quite a few events in the
years as well and speak at numbers of events so all around our
market and we use that as a qualification step as well to
prepare to come along to an event for a couple hundred dollars.
And then they’re more likely then to come to learn themselves,
they came to improve and so we’ve kind of got this information
education as the next piece whether it’s information that might
be free or paid, the education is definitely paid. Then the
consultation and implementation of that follows out of that as a
funnel.

So really we’ve thrown education in as another qualifier in our
funnel and then also on the telephone asking some reasonably
pointed questions about what they want to be doing, where they
want to go. And it’s not that-there are a lot of people who are
dedicated and there’s lots of different ways of servicing that
dedication. Whether or not that we should be the ones to come
and consult with them and then implement it for them, there are
certainly people who get enormous value by just coming along to
the education and the seminars and that kind of thing to improve
themselves and if we can offer a service at that point, if
they’re dedicated to being number one in their market niche and
they’re dedicated to what they’re doing. We love having those
people in the audience.

Trent: So let me feed that back so I and the listeners understand. So
you’re producing a lot of content that’s getting shared on
social media that attracts people to the blog. You provide a lot
of tools and downloads to get into your funnel. Once they’re in
your funnel you have more mid funnel offers that allow them to
raise their hand as it were, to get more education from you.
You’re paying attention to that in analytics. Then when you
speak at an event, you are also notifying the people who are a
segment of your funnel that you’re speaking at the event, and
they go and they pay to be at the event, that’s the equivalent
of them raising their hand by investing in their own education.
All of those little signals are what’s telling you is that this
company is committed to being number one in their niche. Am I
getting it right?

Toby: Yeah, on the money.

Trent: All right, I think that’s pretty darn smart.

Toby: Thanks.

Trent: Okay so…

Toby: It’s been working so far and it’s an interesting process I guess.
Plus it means that we can scale the help that we offer to those
who came, rather than only being able to consult a very-you know
there’s only so many people you can spend face time with in the
world but you can certainly scale up your impact through the
education and information tools that we offer. So we just see it
as a way of broadening the impact of what we can provide. Also
being useful at every single point.

Trent: This approach by the way, I think you said has generated 5,500
leads over the last year?

Toby: Yeah, that was a HubSpot award which was really nice to receive. In
the most leads category for the international partners, they
have recorded us as having 5,500 leads in the last 12 months.
Their definition of a lead is an email that’s coming through a
landing page into our system so, yeah. It’s a plus on top of
that, there are people we’ve spoken to and events we’ve run and
what have you to run leads for us too. It is certainly enabled
us to capture and grow our community dramatically in the last 12
months.

Trent: Yeah, no kidding. So speaking of events, on your site you’ve
got the corporate training, it’s under social media training
courses. Corporate training… Work strategy workshop…social
media workshop. Are those the events you’re talking about or are
there other events?

Toby: They are the events that we run sort of fairly regularly. The others
that we do, we run an event called Social Media Down Under. We
ran it twice where we have gathered lectures with 18 to 20-
minute presentations and some panels. We’ve had 16 speakers and
what have you in a day, we’ve run those twice down in Sydney and
Darling Harbor. We’ve had some great speakers there, and good
attendances. Then we ran the web strategy summit in Brisbane
towards the end of last year. And so there’s the two marquee
events that we’ve put in place as well to again assist in
building our community and helping bring great speakers and
great education in one spot for people who came to learn.

Trent: And do you find that those events themselves are profitable, or
they break even and they generate highly qualified leads for you
and some portion of the leads convert to clients, and that’s
where the profit comes from?

Toby: Yeah, they’re marginally profitable. They are, when you consider the
time that gets invested into putting those things together, it
erodes the profit that’s for sure. So they’re marginally
profitable. But then absolutely for instance from the most
recent Social Media Down Under we had an inquiry and that was
the fastest that inquiry converted from an inquiry into a sign
off and invoice in two hours. So that was the fastest we’ve ever
closed an inquiry, that’s for sure.

Trent: Yeah, that’s pretty quick. Two hours not bad. Now did they
sign…we haven’t really talked about your business model yet.
Do you do a lot of project work or are you mostly retainer?

Toby: So initially it’s a project so we sit down and talk about their web
and social media strategy for this particular client. And from
there once we’ve helped them to find who they are, by persona,
what kind of activity they need, then from that point we go into
a retainer model. So, yeah.

Trent: So I want to make sure I understand that. You’re the doctor,
I’m the sick patient. I’m going to come in and you’re going to
diagnose me and write a prescription but not actually deliver
anything and that’s a project then if I want to go on retainer
you’ll keep me healthy on an ongoing basis?

Toby: Yes, yep. There may be projects as well in that framework too. You
know if someone needs a website developed then that’s a project
of its own right, but in terms of the ongoing work, the daily
weekly monthly quarterly activity and reporting advice feedback,
that all goes in the retainer.

Trent: Okay. So what do you find your average retainer per client
works out to be?

Toby: Five thousand-plus quarterly.

Trent: What size are these clients, how much revenue are they doing
per year?

Toby: We’ve got different clients from publicly listed companies that are
probably two-hundred million to hundreds of millions to cosmetic
dentists in Brisbane who, I’m not quite sure what their turnover
is. But certainly significantly less than the publicly listed
companies obviously. So again it’s a real diversity in terms of
the client but there’s a lot of similarities in their attitude
towards it all.

Trent: Yeah, would you say that it’s a fair assessment to say that
it’s much, much, much easier to someone to being a client if
they already are spending money marketing versus someone who’s
not yet spending any money on marketing. It sounds like a dumb
question but…

Toby: I completely agree with you that yes, wholeheartedly.

Trent: The point I was trying to get to anyone who was listening, if
you’re just starting out and I’ll let you answer this, do you
think that someone should go after small businesses who don’t
really look like they’re spending any money yet or should they
find people who are already spending money on pay per click and
already have a decent website and go and try to get the
attention of those people.

Toby: Yeah, the latter. Absolutely, so those who are already spending
money. There’s no doubt they understand the value of marketing
and they possibly have marketing problems that need solving
versus marketing that’s need to be set up I guess is the
distinction.

Trent: And with your model how you’re doing so much content marketing,
people are coming to you I’m guessing you don’t have to deal
with a lot of objections like…let’s say that someone was cold
calling, heaven forbid, and they call up this company and they
say well you know, ‘We’re already dealing with somebody else,’
which is a pretty standard objection…you don’t probably get
that, do you?

Toby: Not often, no. We’ve really tried to practice what we preach in terms
of the inbound marketing and we haven’t. We certainly kicked off
the business cold calling, don’t get me wrong. But we haven’t
had to cold call for quite some time thankfully. The objection
is particularly more around why they should be doing it and so
that to us is not yet a qualified client, and that’s what that
initial discovery call is all about in our sales process. Is to
say, so where are these guys at from an attitude or
understanding point of view. Typically we’ll say we’re not the
right fit right now, but please you might be interested in our
Twitter workshop or our LinkedIn workshop. Come along to the Web
Strategy Summit, and you might see some value there, there’s
someone who will design a website for you for the time being. So
we take it pretty softly, soft approach on that front.

Trent: Yeah, because you never know how their attitude may change or
their director of marketing may change and that creates a whole
new opportunity for you.

Toby: For sure.

Trent: So let’s talk about….are you using LinkedIn at all?…Toby?

Toby: Trent?

Trent: I think we had a little audio burp there, so I’ll ask the
question again. Are you using LinkedIn at all?

Toby: Yes, yup.

Trent: Can you tell us a little bit about how you’re using it?

Toby: Yeah so we see LinkedIn as another way of connecting with our
professional networks obviously. I am increasingly using it
through my buffer account. Do you use buffer?

Trent: I do, I do bufferapp.com

Toby: Yeah, it’s a cracker. I’ve only recently attached to it, been loving
it the past couple of months. But yeah, so a bit like Twitter,
really using it to share professional content through the
professional network and finding that a lot of people in
Australia, or anywhere, a lot more people are more comfortable
on LinkedIn than they are on Twitter. That’s because they can
really understand that it is a professional network and so I’m
not sure. We’re actually really finding that a lot of our
clients are moving into LinkedIn and becoming much more active
on LinkedIn than they have been previously. I think Australians
anyway seem to be more comfortable on LinkedIn than they are on
Twitter or some of the other social networks.

Trent: The last guy that I interviewed just before you was using
LinkedIn extensively. That interview when it’s published will be
at published at brightideas.co/80 and he puts about an hour a
day into in his words ‘adding value to existing discussions’. So
for example he pays attention to four or five LinkedIn groups
and gets the daily update email. Anytime there are questions
that are coming up where he already has some content that would
be relevant to the questions, the thread that has already
happening in that group, he then goes in answers the question
and links back to the post on his blog. In the interview he told
me that LinkedIn is his number one source of new business as a
result of that one hour a day.

Toby: Wow, that’s great. I haven’t heard of those sorts of results. I know
that Adam, my business partner, does a lot of blogging for a
couple of the different websites in Australia like startups and
those sorts of websites. He uses LinkedIn as a part of what he
calls his content promotion checklist. So he has a checklist of
what happens. You write content and that’s all well and good but
what do you do with it once it’s written? And he sees LinkedIn
and seeding those discussions and answers those questions in a
very similar way. That’s a very important part of that process
too.

Trent: Yes, exactly. If you can have the best content in the world, if
you’re not doing anything to promote it to draw people’s
attention to it, it never gets read. If it never gets read it
never gets shared and you might as well run out of writing to
begin with.

Toby: Yeah, exactly.

Trent: Okay, so on the topic of lead generation is there anything that
we’ve missed or we’ve covered everything that’s working well for
you these days?

Toby: One of the things that we’ve really found that has worked really well
on our landing pages particularly has been a bit of a revelation
for us and I think it’s contributed and fairly significantly. We
strip out the navigation as a lot of people do in terms of their
landing pages. One of the things we’ve found is putting it,
sharing the content on, say the web strategy planning template
for instance, and you can jump in if you’re online now. But
putting it into a SlideShare has been really interesting tool
that we’ve found works so then people can see what they’re
downloading beforehand.

Trent: Really? So give me an example, which link should I go to? Tools
and downloads and Web Strategy planning template?

Toby: Yeah.

Trent: So that takes me to a very traditional looking landing page.
And then….oh you’ve got a slideshow where they can preview a
little bit.

Toby: All of it in fact. So they could actually go to SlideShare and
download it from there if they wanted if they didn’t feel like
parting with an email address or if they’re sophisticated enough
to know how to do that. They can easily get on and do that. Yeah
we feel as though that’s very good, our conversion rights have
been fantastic. Even compared to HubSpot’s, converting on our
website something that hovers between 6 and 7 percent of our
visitors convert. We really think that SlideShare as a tip to
your audience is that the SlideShare helps people to understand
exactly what they’re downloading before they have to part with
their details. And yes they can go recreate it, they can
download it from SlideShare, but ultimately they see exactly
what they’re getting as opposed to having to download it blind.

Trent: So and when you capture the lead via, let’s say they got it
from SlideShare, are you able to get that lead to go into your
HubSpot application?

Toby: No, we’re not. I guess we just see that as fair exchange, I guess a
bit of a leak in the landing page particularly. But equally we
really do feel as though it has increased our conversion rates
which means that perhaps there’s a bit of leakage going to the
SlideShare direct download.

Trent: Yeah.

Toby: But the increased trust by knowing exactly what you’re getting, so we
included it with every single landing page that we’ve done.

Trent: So this particular one we’re looking at now, what’s the
conversion rate for this page?

Toby: Good question, I’m not 100 percent sure about that particular page,
sorry.

Trent: Okay.

Toby: I could find that out and send it back to you.

Trent: That would be great. Yeah. We’ll link to this one so that the
show notes are relevant to web strategy planning template, let
me just jot that down. Sorry for the silence folks.

Toby: Yeah.

Trent: I don’t like to hit the stop button once we’re recording.

Toby: Yeah, sure.

Trent: Okay so in terms of once you’ve started to capture all those
leads, you can’t treat them all the same. You’ve got to segment
and nurture and so forth. Is there anything in particular…I’ve
asked a lot of guests this particular question. Is there
anything that you’re doing that feel is particularly unique or
creative with respect to segmenting and nurturing?

Toby: No, not particularly. I think probably tying back to those points
that were made a little bit earlier that the education side of
it is a less challenging and less daunting nurturing step for
them to move from content into come to pay a couple hundred
dollars for an event, sometimes we want less. What we’ve found
is that allows people to get to know like and trust the classic
funnel. It’s another step in the process of trusting our work
and understanding it on their own terms in a non-threatening
environment and so this sort of takes the pressure off that next
step to leap from downloading web strategy planning template for
instance to becoming a client is quite a big step versus coming
to that event, so I guess that face to face and meet-ups and
events and that sort of thing are a way of developing those
relationships in person.

Trent: At what point in your funnel do you actually reach out to
prospects?

Toby: We… I mean we’re talking in terms of nurturing and [viral email],
do you mean by emails we’re sending or sales call?

Trent: Yeah, the call.

Toby: We currently don’t at the moment. We just keep nurturing them over
time until they call us and we’ve got enough leads that way to
keep the business running, running well. And to keep populating
these events and we consider they’ll be a conversion rate from
those. People often ask at those events, ‘I’d love to talk some
more’, so we book appointments to talk to them.

Trent: Yeah, so I would imagine then that once the conversation
begins, the sell cycle is relatively short because they’re so
far pretty sold by the time they’re picking up the phone to call
you.

Toby: Yeah, yeah.

Trent: Yeah.

Toby: That’s the idea.

Trent: That’s the thing I want all the cold callers in the world to
realize. You could spend hours making cold calls and annoying
people or you could spend those same hours creating content that
people are already looking for and put it out there and they’ll
come find you.

Toby: Yup. Absolutely.

Trent: All right so after someone contacts you and says yes, they’re
going to become a client. This is a question I asked my last
quest and I want to get your take on how you would do it. How
efficiently do you deliver your services once they say yes can
make the difference between having a mildly profitable company
and a very profitable company.

Toby: Good question. We’ve learned some really interesting lessons on the
way in that regard. So the first step in terms of the strategy
and what we might call our website blueprint as well, is the
scoping and the definition of everything that needs to go into
it. Like a builder you need your blueprint before you get
started. So we like to do that as a discrete project. And what
we do is, or what we’ve found and discovered the hard way is
that working on site with a client is the absolutely the fastest
way to get the workshop done, that brainstorming session.

So our work, once we start up a strategy session for instance, that
will be done in anywhere from one to four days depending on how
complex the client is. And for the duration of the time we don’t
leave until we’ve delivered and got sign off and approval from
the client on all of the deliverables. So for instance a 10,000
strategy is done in two days and pre-paid. They get, and what
we’ve found is that the biggest issue with getting a project
done is sign offs and approvals and feedback is typically the
piece that takes the longest.

So what we borrowed from McKinsey Consulting and Exentric [SP]
Consulting and some of the really big consulting firms, and what
we learned from them is that they do all of their work on site
and the reason is that you get access to the decision maker as
and when you need them and that’s a pre-condition for us doing
work with a client. And then not that they have to be in the
room the whole time, they just have to be accessible the whole
time and planning out a schedule to say, ‘Okay, well for the
next two days workshop is the first four hours and the next day
and a half will be us asking more questions of your team
separately. We’ll be refining the documentation and we’ll be
getting sign off and approval and showing you what happens
throughout that next day and a half so that come the sign off
time, at 5:00 pm on day two there should be no surprises.’
There’s nothing they haven’t already seen and they should just
be able to sign off and say ‘I’ve seen it all”.

So that’s how we’ve done our strategy phases. An actual fact is that
we’ve done that for our web development as well, so say we’re
building a website. Same deal, our team is working on site.
There’s twice daily meetings. We basically take Verne’s
[Rockefeller] habits and apply it to our relationship with the
client, which is very disciplined communication, twice daily
meetings. Go through whatever bottlenecks there may be with this
particular project. Be really clear that the client knows what
they need to deliver, what’ we’re going to be delivering. It
means that you make small errors along the way, but it also
means that you catch smaller areas early rather than catching
and releasing big errors late.

We’ve found that-actually I’m in the process of writing a blog post
about it, but yeah, one particular project previously would
probably have taken us six months to get it done with the
client. We reduced that to about four weeks by being on site
with the client, and it’s a very intensive process.

Trent: I’ll bet.

Toby: And pretty demanding of the client as well as our team. But
ultimately there’s plenty of guys who talk about that sort of
inspiration curve where the inspiration is short lived basically
for any idea or any project or what have you. It’s spikes and
the beginning and sort of pattern out, so what we wanted to try
to do was sort of capture that spike of energy and demonstrate
progress and progress and progress. And every time you
demonstrate progress you can maintain the energy, but as soon as
that progress drops off, that’s when you start really waiting
through projects and that has been excruciating in the past for
us. It kills your cash flow from an agency point of view as well
as a leaves a very dissatisfied client if projects take longer
than they could. So…

Trent: Yeah, there’s nothing worse for morale than projects that drag
on. Morale for the plan, morale for everybody.

Toby: Exactly.

Trent: Very, very interesting. But in doing so you sort of restrict
geographically with who you can work with.

Toby: Yeah, a little bit. Today we fly our clients and teams fly around
Sydney and Australia to do these various pieces of work.

Trent: And the clients foot the bill for travel, accommodations, and
so forth?

Toby: Yeah, yeah, all of it gets included if they just want to find out
costs. How much would this be today? And we take our best guess
at pricing and put it all together. Yeah, but again it is and I
guess that it does come back to that attitude thing, if someone
does have to be quite dedicated to have a team with them on site
for those sorts of projects and be prepared to commit from their
side. Which is where we get the best results is where the client
is really committed from their side and prepared to put the
resources in and their end as well as our team putting in the
time and effort too.

Trent: Yeah, no kidding. It does align very well with the niche you
selected because clients who are committed to being number one
will see this as a valuable and necessary step.

Toby: And I think that a lot of them really do appreciate the speed of
getting from start to the beginning of results I guess from
deciding that they’re going to go ahead with the project to
actually in that previous instance that I was talking about, it
gives them five months of testing and refinement and improvement
and potentially results that could be worth a lot of money to
their business. And that particular business is absolutely worth
a lot of money, to get the five months and have it up and
running. For that additional five months, means that they see
the ROI much sooner.

Trent: Yeah. Which obviously, if they have stakeholders to report to,
that’s going to be a good thing for them.

Toby: Yeah.

Trent: My last question for you is what advice would you give the solo
marketing consultant who wants to build an agency?

Toby: Yeah, look I saw that in your preliminary questions that you sent
through and one of the things that I think really changed how we
view our business was a book…have you read any of Ron Baker’s
work, Trent?

Trent: No, I have not. Well not that I can remember.

Toby: He’s a huge proponent of value pricing and his life’s mission is to
bury the timesheet. Which is an interesting concept and he works
with a lot of professional service firms and ran his accounting
business very successfully and now talks a lot about value
pricing around the world. His book implementing value pricing
was a real turning point for us in terms of understanding how
you go from charging an hourly rate to sharing in the upside
with your client as well. And the fact that the same service for
two different clients is not necessarily worth the same amount
of money to two different clients, and their perception of value
is ultimately dictates the price that they pay.

So I really encourage a solo marketing consultant to understand value
pricing. Because it will make a huge amount of difference I
think in terms of understanding the drivers of value for your
client and will change how you can charge because you understand
what value it represents to the client. That has been to me a
real turning point book for me in my understanding of business
really as a whole. And so understanding who that is and really
being clear in terms of your 80/20 as well around who are the
20% of your clients A, that you do the best work for, B, enjoy
working with most, C, generate most of your income.

And typically those three points are the same people is what I’ve
found. Those who enjoy working most for are who give you
ultimately pay the most money often. For some reason they’re
aligned and go looking for more of those people and be very
specific around looking for more of that 20 percent rule of your
client base. And work harder at attracting those.

Trent: You reminded me of two interviews I should mention, one of them
was a fellow by the name of Sam Ovens and that’s at
brightideas.co/69. He talks extensively about how he was able to
successfully implement value pricing to create a very profitable
agency. And then the other is my very first interview with a guy
by the name of Mike McLewitt’s who’s the author of a book called
The Pumpkin Plan, and Toby, I think you would really enjoy this.
That’s at BrightIdeas.co/1

Toby: Yeah?

Trent: Sam Ovens was 69?

Toby: Yes.

Trent: And Mike, he built a very successful business to mine only he
did a better job of it because of what he talks about in The
Pumpkin Plan, and he basically uses analogies of how people who
grow those very huge pumpkins and how they do it. And he talks
about the seed and how they prune them and the focus and so
forth. I would really strongly encourage people to listen to
that interview with Mike. One because that guy is hilarious,
he’s a really fun guy. But two because, and get the book because
it’s a really sound strategy. It will absolutely benefit you.

Toby: Yeah, thank you.

Trent: Yeah, no problem. So number…just keeping my show notes up to
date. Number 69 and number 1. Well we are four minutes shy of an
hour and Toby, I don’t know why I just like to keep my
interviews about an hour. I was talking about this with someone
the other day, why do we keep to an hour? It’s not like it’s
broadcast TV. We don’t have to fit a time slot. I think it’s
because my voice starts to go after about an hour. My last
question for my viewers is that where can they get in contact
with you?

Toby: To get a hold of me, go through www.Bluewiremedia.com/au or on my
Twitter which is @Toby_Jenkins

Trent: All right, terrific. Well, thank you very much, Tony, for
taking some time for being here as a guest on the Bright Ideas
Podcast, it’s been a pleasure to have you on the show.

Toby: Thank you very much Trent, it’s been great talking to you.

Trent: All right so that’s a wrap for this episode, if you’d like to
get to the show notes go to brightideas.co/81. As I mentioned at
the beginning of this show, if you’re interested in the book I’m
writing go to brightideas.co/book. If you’d like to learn more
about the mastermind for marketing agencies that we have go to
brightideas.co/mastermind.

My one request for you is that if you could go to brightideas.co/love
and leave some feedback for this show, there will be a link
there that will take you to the iTunes. I would really, really
appreciate it if you would take a moment to do that, because
doing so helps the show to get more awareness. And the more
people that learn of this show, the more entrepreneurs that we
can help to massively boost their business through the bright
ideas that are shared by my guests here.

So that’s it for this episode I am your host, Trent Dyrsmid. Thank
you so much for tuning in. If this is your first episode and you
haven’t yet become a subscriber to Bright Ideas head over to
brightideas.co and become one today so that you can get all
these killer bright ideas in your inbox on a weekly basis.
Thanks so much, take care.

About Toby Jenkins


Toby Jenkins 4 in x 6 in x 300 dpi x FCToby Jenkins
 is CEO and co-founder of Bluewire Media and Social Media Online Academy.

He and business partner Adam Franklin collaborated with bestselling author David Meerman Scott to create the free Web Strategy Planning Template.  They focus on clients who are dedicated to being #1 in their market niche.

The best place to get in touch is on twitter: @Toby_Jenkins. Please say hi!

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