Michael Stelzner is the founder of Social Media Examiner, author of the books Launch: How to Quickly Propel Your Business Beyond the Competition and Writing White Papers: How to Capture Readers and Keep Them Engaged, the popular Social Media Marketing Industry Report, and the man behind large summits, such as the Social Media Success Summit. He is also host of the Social Media Marketing podcast show.
Listen to the Audio
Originally, the ‘pool guy’ behind River Pools and Spas, Marcus has become well known for both his success as a inbound marketer (his pool company is a lead generation machine) as well as the guy behind the popular blog, The Sales Lion. Here’s a short summary of his achievements:
- Published 3 self-help books in 2001, 2003, and 2006
- Started my swimming pool company, River Pools and Spas in 2001
- Pool company grew to be one of the largest of its kind in the world (due to inbound marketing efforts and our incredibly popular swimming pool blog)
- Because of huge success teaching other pool professionals how to embrace inbound marketing, has become a very successful HubSpot Partner, training inbound marketers and companies everywhere how to find success.
- With an incredibly entertaining and educational style, Sheridan has become a highly sought after speaker for many marketing and business conferences globally.
Listen to the Audio
Our Chat Today
- why content marketing is such a big deal and how you are nuts if you don’t have a strategy in place
- how to turn your blog into the wikiepedia of your niche
- why understanding the content saturation index for your niche is so important
- how he built relationships with the key players in his niche
- how he transformed his blog into a money making machine that now earns over $250K a year
- how a 20 minute speech changed everything (and how he got the opportunity to speak at this event)
- what he did in his speech to blow the roof off
- what kind of clients he’s attracting
- what his sales cycle looks like
- how much they pay him
- how to build the speaking business into your business and the 3 different ways you can do it
- and so much more….
What if I told you that you would have a better chance of growing your revenue if you focused on getting fewer leads?
You’d think I was nuts, right?
Well, not so fast there grasshopper!
In today’s episode of the Bright Ideas podcast, I’m joined by Jay Baer of ConvinceandConvert.com to talk about his exact strategy for maximizing lead conversion (notice I didn’t say that we were going to talk about his exact strategy for getting the maximum number of leads).
In addition to the above, Jay and I also talk about:
- how to spend less time working IN your business and more time working ON it
- which automation tool Jay is using to do this (I use the same one)
- a great example of content marketing with bricks and feathers
- how to persuade more clients that going on retainer is a good idea for them (as well as you)
- Jay’s favorite tools and resources for small agency owners
- how to ensure your business is worth more when it comes time to sell it
- what books he’s reading right now
- and so much more
Don’t forget to leave a comment so Jay and myself get to hear what you think of the interview :)
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.
An Interview with Jay BaerT: Hey there Bright Idea hunters, thank you so much for joining me for the Bright Ideas podcast. I am your host, Trent Dyrsmid, and this is the podcast for business owners and marketers who wanna learn how to use online marketing and sales automation tactics to massively boost their business.On the show with me today is Jay Baer from ConvinceandConvert.com. Jay, welcome to the show.Jay Baer: Thanks Trent, I appreciate that you have me on the show.T: No problem. It’s an honor to have you here. So for the folks in the audience who maybe don’t know about you yet, can you tell us who are you and what do you do?J: Sure. My name is Jay Baer. I am the president of the social media and content marketing accelerator firm Convince and Convert. We work with major corporations all across the world helping them understand the social media and content strategy. Then we also work with a number of different ad agencies, PR firms, marketing firms all across North America helping them kinda get in price and stuff and sell social and digital services. We have award winning blog at ConvinceandConvert.com, weekly podcast on social pros and a daily email newsletter called one social thing.
T: Alright so you’re audience and my audience is the same group of people and we wanna help them do the same thing. If you’re running an agency we wanna help you run a more successful agency. More clients, more profits, more revenue and a better lifestyle. So wtih that in mind in the study of agencies that I have done and they’re very similar to the business I was just talking to you about off camera that I used to run, big challenge how to get leads, leads, leads. Everybody wants more leads. So can you share with me what you’ve seen agencies have particular success with when it comes to lead generation?
J: Well I think actually I would debate the premise a little bit.
J: I feel like agencies are, in many cases too focused on leads and not focused enough on conversion rate. I was in an agency at one point where we just went through the string finishing second over and over and over again, right? And you’re just sort of burning stuff time and burning resources at that kind of point. So I would challenge people and we do this with agencies and corporate clients all the time. We just say you know what, don’t worry as much about leads until you know that you’ve got the conversion process dialed and that you know that you are closing the maximum percentage of business that’s seriously you’ll never gonna get them all, obviously no one converts a 100% of their leads, but figure out whether it’s market automation or the nurturing or being smarter about content or how you interact with leads in the funnel. Spend time making sure that once you’ve spent the time and resources to create a lead that you’re actually closing them.
Setting that aside in terms of the lead generating vehicle I always feel like the best way to do that is demonstrate your expertise in some way but to do it in a, and I just have this conversation with my agency clients this morning, to do it in a focused specifc manner. So agency blogging for example, very popular now, it didn’t use to be but of course now almost every agency has some sort of blog or some sort of thought leadership program which ostensibly creates leads and many cases it doesn’t because the blog doesn’t really have sufficient call to action they didn’t do it.
But I find the biggest problem with most agency thought leadership program is that it’s about everything the agency knows. And if your thought leadership is about everything it is by definition about nothing. So even though your agency might actually offer 25 different services you really ought to pay attention to 3 or 4 that really makes sense that you really wanna go long on and create content, create thought leadership, create ebooks and blog posts and podcasts and videos about those topics because then you can actually get enough density of content and enough lead generating inbound action to adopt and make it work.
T: In other words find a niche and make sure that you go really really deep on that niche or topic whatever word you’d like to use.
J: Yeah and there’s really sort of X Y and Z axis on that potential niche so you can either have a geographical niche were all about Alabama or were all about Houston or whatever your story is. Or you can have a vertical niche or you can have a services niche and I think the best agencies that generate the most consistent stream of leads are those that apply all three of those contents. We’re the best agency at search engine optimization for health care in Texas. Now are you gonna have the most leads? No you’re not. But your lead conversion rate is going to be massively higher because you’re saying this is what we stand for, we are the best in the world at this one thing. And I think that’s a better approach.
T: I’m gonna guess that you have read Good to Great.
J: Yes absolutely.
T: Because this is the hedgehog strategy in the book.
J: Yap exactly.
T: Okay so for anyone who’s listening if you haven’t read that book yet it’s a really fantastic book. Now you mentioned something that is near and dear to my heart early in your answer. You talked about lead nurturing and automation. A whole another interview we could go down with that good one and maybe if the calendar permits we’ll come back to that. But can you give us a short answer for people who might not know what lead nurturing is and how would you automate lead nurturing?
J: I think the easiest way to conceptualize it is to say nobody becomes a customer of anything, of twizlers or an agency or a car or anything in between. Nobody buys anything until or unless the questions they have about that product or service have been satisfactorily answered. Period always. So what you need to do as a business owner of any kind of business and I think that’s even more acute in professional services is to say let’s walk it back and for somebody to higher agency what do they have to be satisfied with? Well they have to be satisfied with their expertise. They have to be satisfied with our deliverables. They have to be satisfied with our price. They have to be satisfied with the talent of our staff. They have to be satisfied with the way we do business. They have to be satisfied with the fact that we know things that apply to their industry and there’s probably 2 or 3 other things in that chain.
So at some point from the lead generation to signed deal process those questions have to answered. The way agencies have historically tried to do that Trent to say let’s get together in the conference room and we’ll have the whole conversation and we’ll kind of throw a bunch of things against the wall and we’ll tell you how great we are and hopefully we’ll convince you. You know, we’ll convince them in the conference room.
T: In other words, we’ll close you.
J: Yeah right we’ll close you over donut or whatever. Lead nurturing marketing automation says sure you’re gonna have that human element at some point but the human element is much farther down the consideration found in this classically kind of the case. What you do is when someone becomes a lead we know that you are interested in this particular agency service because of either information you provided in your lead form or what web pages you were looking at before you filled out that form and then we put you into a business rules governed sequence which then delivers to you information that answers some of those questions that need to be answered without me having to do it face to face.
So in my case we use infusion soft because of marketing automation software company that handles our email marketing and our follow up sequences. If somebody, I just put out a new ebook today and if somebody signs up for that ebook they’ll go into a special follow up sequence, they’ll get another email from us a week later with some different information. Then a week after that we’ll give another email with some other information then a week after that we’ll give another email. So we are leaving them down the consideration path of very strategically and very specifically because not everybody is ready to have a meeting in the conference room 2 seconds after they fill up the lead form which is usually what happens in an agency environment. Somebody says those are our contacts I’ll say call these guys right now get them in, let’s get a meeting set up. And in some cases people want dinner and movie first.
T: I’m an Infusion Soft user myself.
J: Oh great.
T: And I absolutely love it.
J: They have a conference next year. I’m looking forward to it.
T: Terrific. I’ll see you there. And I’ll tell you if I would have understood back when I was running my agency equivalent if I would have a tool like Infusion Soft and understood how much power it had I could have done a lot more. So for the folks again that are listening to this, if you haven’t checked out Infusion Soft yet go get yourself a demo, go sign up on a webinar. It is amazing. When people open those emails and they can click on links you can apply this thing called tags and all you’re really doing is segmenting and segmenting and segmenting and you can cause automated sequences to occur based upon links they click and things they do and all can run on auto pilot for you on the background.
Which segues into my very next question, is that many small and not just agency owners, Jay, but many small business owners they get so consumed with doing everything themselves that they spend all this time working in their business and no time spent working on their business. So with your clients, how do you get them, coz you can either have lots of control and not much growth or give up some control and get a lot more growth. How do you coach them through that process?
J: Yeah I’ve been through that process myself trying, I mean this is my 5th professional company that I had started. I’ve got $5 million agencies in a row from scratch and I read the e-myth years ago, right, which is where that premise comes from and I didn’t believe it at first. I mean it makes intuitive sense that you gotta kind of step away and let people blossom and I literally said you know what, I’m just ripping off the band aid. And I said I’m just gonna try it. I don’t believe it but I’m just gonna try it. And I just went into this massive empowerment phase like I don’t have to do everything and maybe it won’t be exactly how I would do it but it will be just as good as is so why and it was. And we experienced explosive growth as a result of giving up that kind of control and I have subsequently had it purposely done that I’d moved out of state and then a bunch other things that actually prohibit me now from having that kind of control and it’s been really really effective.
And I have agency clients that are really good in that principle and that sort of empowerment principle and working on their business instead of in it. And I have agencies that are not very good at it. It’s both sides. And what I find is it’s not so much about a particular thing you can do in the agency, it really is cultural. It really is about what kind of life do you wanna have as an agency principle and you find it in here to let it go. Coz you can read all the books you want but you gotta believe it. You have to believe inherently that the people you have hired are good enough to put your name out there even if you don’t actually work on that particular project. And some people can get that and other people just can’t. I mean there are people I know who have been trying to get there for 10 years and can’t. It’s not because they’re not smart, they just can’t get past it. They just can’t get past that sense of work. I wish I had a more specific example for you other than just ripping off the band aid as I didn’t say look I’m going to take 2 or 3 projects that I work on now and just stop working on.
And I think the easiest way to get there in theory is to do an audit of your activities as a principle to say okay. And a lot of agency owners don’t do this. They don’t really know how they spend their time. They think they do but they don’t really so a lot of times all I do is say okay let’s actually keep a time sheet for yourself and real strong audit of your involvement and then go back and say are the things that you’re doing things that you are uniquely qualified to do. And for me that’s always the filter. That’s how I try and run my businesses. I try and minimize doing things that I am not uniquely qualified to do. And if you sort of use that as a filter do I get involved, do I not get involved, that helps I think having that sort of light switch approach.
T: And that’s an approach that I’m trying to do here with Bright Ideas. I’m uniquely qualified to host the interview but somebody else can edit it, somebody else can create the post, somebody else can publish, review, share it on social networks. And if you’re listening to this and I talked to a guy yesterday, he was a one man agency, he was doing almost a $150,000 a year, and he said Trent, I’m klilling myself. I work, work, work all the time. So if you relate to that story but you can’t get wrap your mind around hiring a full time employee I really encourage you don’t hire a full time employee, go to Odesk, elance, freelance.
J: I run my services that way. We’re doing a million dollars this year and I’m the only employee. But everyone is 1099. This idea that you have to own a resource, lots stock and buy that resource has to sit in your office is an *inaudible. With the advances that we’ve made and in video conferencing like this and a sacred as communication is much more accepted than it used to be. You don’t have to have mediums of the same kind the way they used to. Things like base camp and other tools allow you to manage projects synchronously. All of those kind of advances that are partially technology and partially cultural in the way that this gets done really allow for partial ownership or resources in ways that was really crazy even 5 years ago.
T: And the really great thing about this and I’m sure that you already understand this and I do now but I didn’t before is when you can give up the shackles of a physical location and the shackles of employees that show up to that location and you embrace online marketing and lead nurturing and so that you don’t have to have that face to face meeting and you get leads coming to you, now you can live anywhere you wanna live. You can get clientsfrom anywhere you want them. And more likely they never want you to come and sit in the boardroom. They’re quite happy because they’ve consumed all of your thought leadership on their own schedule and then they contact you when they’re ready to go. You’re gonna charge a higher fee, you’re gonna work on your schedule and life just gets a whole lot better.
J: We actually won’t go to see clients generally speaking. That’s part of our deal. We’ve got people all over the country, if you need us to come sit in your conference room we’re probably not the right consultancy for you and we say that from the very first call. And now every once in a while we have to fly out and do some monster presentation but I don’t think we’ve ever seen any client more than once ever.
J: In 5 years.
T: But you and I, we’re not in the same room, we’re not in the same state. I don’t know how this conversation would be more enriched if we were sitting across the table from each other.
J: Yeah and I think a lot of it is expectation management. For people who are familiar with this kind of technology they’re like great. I don’t know very many people who have gotten involved into this kind of technology and then sit outside for me. I’m sure they exist I just don’t know many of those people. But for potential clients who haven’t done a lot of work like this that sort of expectation management it’s like it’s gonna be fine, trust me, you’re gonna love it. Because ultimately it’s more efficient for them too.
T: Absolutely it is. No commuting and so forth. Alright for this interview and just research in general I came across a hubspot report and it talked about some really pain points for agencies and one of them were unpredictable revenue and we’re gonna get to that in just a second. But before we get to that, for the folks that are listening to this who are also looking for really great campaign ideas that they can take to a client, can you talk about a recent client, could be one of your clients or a client of one of your agency clients, I don’t care who, but if you could think of something where the campaign was particularly successful and we’ll frame this with the content marketing mindset. Coz so many people are talking about content marketing these days and I know I’ve kinda put you on the spot because I didn’t give you more than one minute before our interview to think of this.
J: Oh that’s okay that’s easy. That I can just finish a whole new book about this topic not before last so not a problem. One of the things that we talk about in my company that I think will be useful to yours Trent is premise of bricks and feathers. So there’s 2 kinds of content. There are feathers which are like a feather. They are lightweight, they are a femural, they are disposable. Feathers are things like a blog posts or a facebook status update or a series of photos, things like that. They’re just kind of poof and they’re not gonna get printed out. They’re most likely not going to get printed out and taken to decision maker. They are top of the funnel kind of bait.
And then you have bricks. And bricks are like bricks. They’re heavier, they’re more tangible, they have to be crafted. There’s no brick tree. You have to make a brick. They have a shelf life and they can be picked up and carried and taken places up the decision making chain. They can be passed along to other people in the organization. So where we’re at in this point in the kind of content marketing renaissance I will say because it’s not new, we’ve been doing content marketing for a hundreds of years it’s just we decided to talk about it lately. Where we’re at in this renaissance is that almost everybody is doing feathers. So everybody’s got blog posts and sort of lightweight kind of content but not enough people are doing bricks like the kind of work that you do here with video show, ebooks and slide share and infographics, things that actually has some production value and some shelf life.
So I remember a post not too long ago about how an agency should balance bricks and feathers and I really believe that you’ve gotta invest in 4 or 6 kind of solid bricks a year as an agency thinks that that generate meaningful lead generation and pass along and then have a shelf life and then actually stand for something. Not just a blog post that tomorrow’s another blog and the day after that’s another blog post. But things that are really of high quality.
Soon the question becomes what’s that brick about. Well I’ll give you an example that we did in our own company. So I did a presentation, I do tons and tons of public speaking probably 75 a year and I did a presentation of the content marketing world conference last fall. And it was about how to measure content marketing. What are the metrics for content marketing. So I took that presentation which was in powerpoint and then I partnered with a content marketing institute who puts on that conferences on their popular blog about content marketing. Then we turned it into an ebook. And that ebook we put on slideshare and we’ve now generated hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of leads from people who clearly are interested in content marketing strategy which is what I do and content marketing metrics which is partially what we do because they have downloaded this particular ebook.
So then we took the brick which is the ebook and then created feathers around it. So we’ve got blog posts around it, we’ve got tweets around it, we have facebook updateds around it, we have other excerpts around it so it’s the center point of what we’re doing this quarter. And next quarter we’ll have something else and next quarter we’ll have something else.
T: Very interesting. Mike Stelzner talks about the same thing. If you may have read his book launched he calls it primary fuel and nuclear fuel.
J: Yes exactly.
T: And he uses something called the social media marketing industry report as one of his bricks. I’m working on one as well, the marketing agency industry report which I’ll talk to you about after the show.
J: Yeah research is a really good way to create bricks like that because it’s not terribly difficult to put that together. The other one I like I lot that I’ve just talked about this morning with somebody is rankings to say okay here’s the deal. Well normally a blog post can turn it into a brick by saying once a month we’re gonna publish whenever the top 40, like the one I used as an example this morning was a lady, a small agency owner, who publishes every month on her blog the top 40 I think it is convention and visitors bureaus participating on pinterest by number of followers. So ordinarily a blog post about cvb’s on pinterest is a feather but because she turned it into the top 40 rankings once a month it becomes a brick because people now want to pay attention to that and they’ve sent to their boss and now she can turn it into a pdf which then goes into some slideshare which spreads around. So that kind of ranking idea I think is really really easy to execute and almost any agency can find again with that xyz axis can find a place that they can sort of own the rankings if you will. You can give ap polls for whatever.
And the other one I would encourage people to think about from my brick’s perspective is just what you’re doing Trent, these interviews. Every agency in the world could have a great podcast if they just spend 1 hour thinking about it, right? Say everybody, interview your clients, interview people in your industry and it’s difficult to master but easy to do. And not nearly enough people are plugging along those lines of thinking yet.
T: And I gotta say I’m ambitious and lazy all at the same time and that’s why I do this interview format. I get a phenomenal feedback on these interviews and including post production I’m done in like less than 2 hours. I cannot write a really awesome 2500 word blog post in 2 hours. And edit it, put fun images, and do the research. I just can’t do it. Nor do I want to go and do a podcast where I simply talk for 45 minutes like an extended monologue. But the conversation, we’re all human beings we all know how to have conversations.
J: We use a software program I see you’re gonna ask about tools later but it’s alright I think I’ve blown your format.
T: No problem.
J: You can tell I do a podcast coz I’m used in trying to do a format. So on our podcast, social pros, where we interview somebody once a week who is the social media manager or content marketing manager for a big brand. So today we’re gonna interview Katrina Walter, she’s head of social media strategy worldwide for Intel. So every week we interview somebody. So we use speechpad.com.
T: Yap I use them too.
J: And it’s transcripts but not only do you have audio but now you’ve got the full written press and naturally I use speechpad for my book, for my new book. So we did 50 interviews for the book, did them all over the phone and then speechpad records those calls and give me the written transcript so I had a 100,000 words of book interviews fit in html where I just copy and paste in the manuscript. Made it a lot faster to write this book versus my first book.
T: Yeah. Now I actually have a mentor who’s guiding me through that process coz I’m doing the same thing for a book. He’s been doing this. His book is called marketing wizards, sorry market wizards. It’s about this hedgefund manager. And he talks a lot about the importance of editing those interviews prior to putting, coz a conversation like this isn’t necessary as interesting to read as it is to listen to. So did you have an editor go through and get rid of all the ums, yeah, buts and all that kind of stuff out of those transcripts?
J: I just took them out of the transcripts and clean out myself. So I read every interview and then bolded the actual passages that I thought made sense in the book narrative and then cleaned them up a little bit when I paste them in the manuscript. I use scrivener for book writing software which I love. It’s really amazing. And that was enormously helpful. It does automatically compiles it in the manuscript format and you can have multiiple windows open and has kind of like virtual sticky notes and things like that. It’s really excellent for organization. That’s scrivener.
T: Okay I’ll be checking that out.
J: That’s great. I really really wish I would have it with my first book. I don’t even know if it existed then but I wish I’d had it. It’s a lot easier this time.
T: How long did it take you to write this 2nd book?
J: Not very long because I had it all in my head and I mentioned that I do a lot of speaking. And so this book is basically the book version of the keynote presentation I’ve been doing for 2 or 3 months so I actually again using speechpad recorded myself giving that keynote presentation and transcribed it. So I used that as actually the back bone of the book and I put the book around the keynote speech. So between the interviews and again my researches which has helped me a lot with the interviews, between interviews and putting it all together probably took me 6 weeks.
T: That’s pretty good.
J: But I just turned in the first half to the publisher and then hopefully they won’t say we hate it and start over. We’ll go on them next week. The portfolio was published in it so we’ll see how it goes.
T: Oh I wish you the best of luck on it.
T: You mentioned the woman who does the top 40 list, do you know her blog url?
J: I’ll probably find it in one second. Do you edit this out when we’re doing searches?
T: No just send it to me. I don’t edit the show in the middle.
J: Hold on a second, I can do it right now. I just talked about it this morning.
J: Yap it’s cvb’s on pinterest. Her blog is annehornyak.com.
J: And she’s at DG Morgan, still in that agency, social media and tourism consultant.
T: Okay. Alright so I promised a few minutes ago we’re gonna talk about this challenge of unpredictable and this was in a technology services space. This was a huge problem. And so I’m just gonna preface of my own story line.
J: That’s why I got out of the web design business right there. That exact reason.
T: Yap. If you don’t have recurring revenue in your business, you don’t have a business that somebody else is gonna want to buy.
J: Oh yeah and you have no ways and strategy.
T: Exactly. So in other words you’re leaving a ton of equity, in my case it was over a million dollars worth of equity that I created when I sold my business because I had $78,000 every single month that came in on the first day of every single month. And that was we didn’t have any products that we coded or anything like that. It was delivering services but it turned all the way to automate some of them by using tools but we just convinced our customers that it was a better deal for them to be on a retainer.
So in the agency space I know that this is a huge issue. I know lots of guys, gals out there, they’re web designers, they’re this, they’re that and they’re on the time and materials model, what advice Jay can you give them to help them, first of all they gotta make the transition in their own mind and then they can make the transition in their profit loss statement?
J: Yap. It’s difficult. You have to understand or believe that ultimately it’s about arbitrary. That ultimately the retainer model is going to benefit you just as much as about more than it will benefit the client. What I mean by that Trent is that the reason why some people don’t wanna do a retainer is they’re like what if it takes us 80 hours then we’re only getting paid for 40. Well you have to believe that you’re good enough business. That more often than not it’s gonna go the other way. And if your business isn’t good enough operationally then it won’t go your way more often than not. Then you probably shouldn’t go on retainer. You should really spend some time figuring out how come you can’t predict how long it’s gonna take you to deliver services. You know what I mean?
The agency model really only works if you can deliver services consistently, right? You can’t have purpose in what it requires you to deliver coz then you can’t get absolutely upside down on the retainer model. But assuming that you have a good sense of what it takes you to deliver and you can do that fairly consistently you have to realize that ultimately it’s gonna benefit you as much or more than the client from an economic stand point. Not just from a flatting of the revenue curve but also just from your yield. Coz ultimately when I say it’s about arbitrary it’s about you, it’s about what is the agency actually paid for an hour of time. That’s the whole model. And yes the retainer takes that out of the day that their conversation but ultimately you backed that out. So okay these retainers lump together compared to the number of people that retained and what are we paying those people and that is sort of how you sort of figure out your overall P&L.
The key is to make clients realize that it’s in their best interest. And the way you do that is to not say look if we spend, and this is how agencies typically say about retainers, we’re gonna put you on retainer because that way you know what your cost certainty is and I don’t know they just come up with other weird excuses. I think the best way to do it is to say look, especially if your agency is a little bit or a lot on the digital side of the aisle where higher level of experimentation less degree of certainty in terms of what you’re gonna do day to day, month to month coz new things come along all the time.
So the way we always insist to argue with is, and this is the line I give with every client in my previous digital agencies, I don’t know what’s gonna work for you but I know how to find out. I know exactly how to use testing and optimization to figure out what is the perfect digital marketing strategy for you and your business. But that takes time. And you don’t want to pay me by the hour to figure out what works coz if it takes us longer to figure out the magic formula for you it’s gonna be more expensive. So if we do this on retainer so that you’ll know what you’re gonna pay and we’ll know what we’re gonna get, the time that we spend to figure this out is at my expense not yours. So me being a great marketer is at my expense not yours. That’s how we used to give it and used to explain it.
And the other thing is really important on retainers coz all of our agency clients are on retainers as well is a lot time clients are reluctant to sign retainers coz they feel like it’s a prison cell. So our deal is look you’re on retainer but everybody’s a 30 day out so nobody has a contract. It’s like look here’s the deal, you’re gonna pay us every month come hell or high water but the second you’re not finding value, stop paying us. And it’s amazing when you put that out there how much that takes away people’s inate and natural fear of retainer business. If they’re not getting value stop paying us.
T: So one of the thought I wanna add to that for the folks in the audience, think of your portfolio clients like a portfolio of investments. The big huge stumbling block that you touched on was what if I do to many more hours if I don’t get enough retainer. Well that won’t happen if you get good at your systems and processes which Jay pointed out. You may have lots of work it bleeds over but there’ll be other months when you hardly have to do a thing for some other client in your portfolio so it’s about the yield on the overall portfolio not the yield on every single client you have in your portfolio.
J: That’s right. That’s why when people measure job cost profitability or even individual client profitability you’re kinda doing yourself a disservice mathematically. Yes you wanna pay a 10th to that but I would put much more stock in what’s the revenue per employee or what’s the yield for the entire organization as opposed to what’s the yield for this one client. Coz you’re exactly right that will lead you to say that we need to make sure that we did $42,000 over a month of work for these guys this month but we only got paid 18, that’s gotta stop. Well that only has to stop if that continues for a long time or if that’s happened more than once. So you gotta take a little bit of a mongrel term approach to these kinds of questions.
And in too many agencies, it can be agency owners think about client profitability in 30 day incurrence which is absolutely the wrong way to think about it. We look at it in 6 or 12 months and say okay a year end of this do we feel like we’re making money on these guys. If not we’ll go somewhere else but when we start thinking did we make money this month on this client no you can’t do it, you can’t run this like that. This is too variable of an industry.
T: And it’s not the way you’re selling to your clients coz you’re saying to your clients
J: We’re partners.
J: We’re partners to the next 30 days and then we’ll see.
T: Yeah. Alright so that last answer pretty much boils down to this. Have a conversation with your customers that says I don’t know exactly what to do to make your perfect campaign but I know how to figure it out. Let me put that time risk on my shoulders and let me give you credit predictability and now we’re partners.
J: That’s right. And that approach very much works better if you agree with the client from the outset on what this success factor is gonna be. If you say look we’re gonna figure out the magic formula you have to agree on what the ingredients of measuring that formula are. Are we looking at leads, are we looking at sales, are we looking at, there’s obviously a number of different ways to measure marketing and that’s a different podcast for a different time but you need to agree with the client on what those measurements are out front.
T: And all of this is stuff you could be producing blog posts on, well in advance with your conversation with your client so that you’re actually nurturing, nurturing. Even your existing clients need to be nurtured to your current way of thinking in the way that you wanna run your business.
J: I would say that perhaps more so. In fact I’ve written about this with a link on my blog that agencies really should turn this upside down and try and create content and blog post more for their current clients and think about blogging and thought leadership as a client retention and client cross sell vehicle as opposed to a new lead generation.
T: Coz I think something that people forget and I probably was guilty of this, I have my customer but my competitors are prospecting my customer. So just coz they’re my customer right now doesn’t mean that I can stop pursuading them to continue to be my customer.
J: Or persuade them to buy something different from you. I can’t tell you how many times this happened and it continues to happen to me and I’m not very good at marketing automation to current clients and very few people are. We tend to do that through blogging in my company which is probably in the state but it happens all the time that current clients read something that I wrote in the blog and I say that I didn’t realize that you guys did that. Let’s talk about you doing that for us. So now you have a blog post that theoretically was written as a lead acquisition tool is actually a retention and cross sell tool.
T: And for anyone listening to this who thinks oh I’m not a good writer, could you have a conversation about your client with something that you did for them that worked well for them? Guess what? Now you have a podcast. You can do it on skype. You can do it on go to meeting as I do it right here. Like you could just do it on the phone and record it. Every conversation can become reusable content, feathers if you will, that really can benefit your business a long term. So if you’re not doing that now I think Jay and I are both gonna say you really need to be doing it.
J: Oh absolutely. And it’s funny you say about the telephy. I’ve worked with a lot of chief officer marketing types and things like that of big corporations and they go we don’t have time to blog. And I go okay if you have time to talk it on the phone for 3 minutes a week you do. You absolutely do have 3 minutes talking to the phone. So press this button talk into the phone, press another button and here’s a blog post while somebody claim to that. So that idea that you don’t have time to create content is 100% untrue. You just choose not to make time.
T: Correct. I couldn’t agree more. Alright so you stole my thunder a little bit on my tools and resources.
J: Oh sorry. I kind of wove it in more like organic. I got more. What do you want?
T: Alright favorite tools and resources, we’ve talked about infusion soft. You talked about scrivener, what else?
J: Scrivener for books. I’ve talked about speechpad for recording stuff. And I love buffer app. Buffer which is a great tool for sticking social media posts. So the content curation, a great way to create feathers. So every morning I read dozens and dozens of emails including Mike Stelzner’s and other people. I can find things I wanna tweet or facebook or linked in status update that day I use my buffer app where I just click click click and it time release capsule them all from today from about 2:00 3:00 5:00 etc. That’s a great tool. Love it.
T: Why use that instead of Hootsuite? I mean they both basically do the same thing. Is there a reason from one over the other.
J: I think buffer is easier to use and sort of purpose built for that. That’s all it does. It’s very specific to that circumstance.
J: And has really nice kind of web post and the other software things like that. One of the things that agencies are interested in nowadays is finding other bloggers. So maybe you’re gonna do a blogger outreach campaign for your clients, things like that. Actually I’ll write a blog post tonight about these guys called group high. It’s grouphigh.com. Outstanding I think the best database blogs and bloggers available. It’s 5 grand a year which is a pretty affordable for agencies are gonna use it for a number of clients. And you can find bloggers by type, by city, by number of twitter followers, by number of instagram followers, by number of pinterest followers and then actually create a list of those bloggers that manage those relationships within the tools and send them emails and did we hear back from them and we’re gonna follow up. Very very nice business software.
T: Yeah and very cool. I haven’t heard that one before. So there’s my little nugget for this interview.
J: See there you go.
T: Thank you. Alright so we’re just about finished up here. Two more questions and then we’ll wrap. What are you most excited about these days in your business? Where’s the opportunities?
J: Really excited about the new book and which is all about truly helpful marketing. So what if your marketing was so useful that people would theoretically pay you for it. And there’s a lot of companies that are doing that and talks all about how to do that and how to really make your marketing a utility. Excited about that and there’s gonna be lots of conferences and things about that next year so that’s exciting.
And then we’re also doing a lot of work with corporate clients and I think agencies can really start to offer the systems service over time around employee activation in social media. So social is becoming de-centralized. It started off as a job, somebody is the social media person in the company and now it’s becoming a skill. It started as a job becoming a skill and that’s fairly typical in business. And so one of the things that we get involved with a lot for corporations is finding employees throughout the enterprise who are pre-disposed to using social media and training them, activating them to speak on the company’s behalf across the social network. So how do you train somebody your company to give a respond on twitter or facebook or write blog posts or just sort of broaden the basic social participation. I think that’s an area that agencies can really help their clients with as well. So we’re excited about that Trent as well.
T: Okay. What book or books are you reading right now?
J: What books am I reading? I have the Good Fortune I guess to get sent lots and lots of books from publishers who want me to review them which is fantastic. Hold on, I’ll be back, I’ll show you.
T: Amazing things will happen, okay.
J: I just got this book from my friend, C.C. Chapman. His new book Amazing Things Will Happen. All about how to live a happy life. I very much recommend this for all agency owners. C.C. has tremendous agency experience and you will become a better after reading this book.
T: I think I’m gonna put that one on my own reading list.
J: And I’m also reading a couple of other books around trust. Don Peppers and Rogers have a new book out about trust and how trust is sort of the key currency in business now. And Jonathan Salem Baskin also has another book also around trust. So there’s two great books out on the same time. Don Pepper’s and Rogers Baskin both around trust as a business currency which I think is an interesting trend to look forward.
T: Don Peppers and Rogers, Jonathan Salem Baskin?
J: Baskin like Robin. No relation I don’t think, that would be crazy. Pretty sure he’s not an ice cream scion but you never know.
T: Alright. Well Jay I wanna thank you for making some time for your first appearance here on the Bright Ideas podcast. I sure hope this will not be your last appearance on the show.
J: Hopefully there were bright ideas. Hopefully there were actually bright ideas. I’ll just see through with the comments.
T: I guess we’ll have to wait for the comments to find out.
J: That’s right.
T: Alright. Terrific thanks very much for being on the show Jay.
J: Thank you and I appreciate it. Take care.
T: If you wanna check out the show notes for my interview with Jay just go to BrightIdeas.co/16. Now I think I wanna very quickly tell you about is the massive traffic tool kit. If you’re looking to get more traffic to your website go to BrightIdeas.co/massivetraffic, enter your email and you will get instant access to the tool kit. So what is it? It is a compilation of all the very best ideas that have been shared with me by other expert guests here on Bright Ideas. And the really great part about the tool kit is you do not need to be an SEO guru to be able to make all this stuff happen for yourself. So just go to BrightIdeas.co/massive traffic, enter your details and you’ll get instant access.
So that wraps up this episode. I’m Trent Dyrsmid, your host. If you loved this episode please do me a favor. Head over to itunes, give it a 5 star rating and leave a comment. If you do Bright Ideas goes up in the itunes store and more people will discover the show and more people that discover the Bright Ideas podcasts the more entrepreneurs that we can help to massively boost their business. Thank you very much I will see you in the next episode.
About Jay Baer
Jay Baer is a hype-free social media and content strategist, speaker, author and the President of Convince & Convert. Since 1994, he has worked with more than 700 companies on digital and social strategy, including 29 of the FORTUNE 500. As social and content accelerators, Convince and Convert helps tie social business to real business.
He is the co-author of the NOW Revolution, 7 Shifts to Make Your Business Faster, Smarter and More Social (Wiley, 2011) a leading book on social business. Jay speaks to more than 75 groups each year about how social strategy is changing business forever. He is also an active angel investor investing in approximately four start ups a year.