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Digital Marketing Strategy: Lee Frederiksen on How He Used Content Marketing to Attract $100M Clients

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Lee Frederiksen is an acclaimed author and Managing Partner at Hinge, a re-branding and consulting agency for professional services firms.

I had the distinct pleasure to talk with this very intelligent and successful guest and learn how he used content marketing to attract high revenue clients. Lee shared some truly brilliant marketing ideas with me; I was so impressed that I went back and re-listened to our entire interview.

With clients reaching the billion dollar mark in sales, Lee is an expert in bringing on quality leads and establishing solid relationships. Listen as we discuss lead generation techniques, finding the right firms, and creating a winning content marketing strategy.

(If you want to hear more from agency leaders on lead generation and digital marketing strategy, be sure and check out this podcast episode with Toby Jenkins.)

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

  • (02:30) Guest background and introduction
  • (04:30) What are some of the marketing challenges faced by professional services firms?
  • (06:00) What are the marketing activities professional services firms should be using?
  • (13:30) Can you tell us about your content marketing strategy?
  • (23:30) Can you tell us how you ensure your content is seen by your audience?
  • (26:30) Please tell us how you capture leads from your site
  • (28:30) How do you nurture your leads?
  • (34:30) What advice do you have for new content marketers?
  • (38:30) Why is niche specialization so important?
  • (44:30) Why did you choose professional services opposed to a sub-niche?
  • (46:30) How does paid traffic play a role?

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

How Lee Frederiksen Used Content Marketing to Attract $100M Clients http://t.co/3Mpi1QsFqQ via @trentdyrsmid

— Trent Dyrsmid (@TrentDyrsmid) February 25, 2014

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Transcript

Trent: Hey there, bright idea hunters. Welcome to the Bright Ideas

podcast. I am your host,

Trent Dyrsmid, and this is the podcast where we feature interviews

with entrepreneurs behind some of today’s fastest growing companies.If you’re looking for proven tactics and strategies to help you start

a new business or grow an existing one, you are in the right place.In each and every episode we do an interview with a proven expert, and

I get them to share all the nuts and bolts and the strategies and the

tactics that they have used to achieve that success. In this episode,

that is going to be exactly what you’ve got coming your way.My guest in this episode is a fellow by the name of Lee Frederickson.

He is a managing partner behind a very successful marketing firm

called Hinge.They have a roster of clients that are in the professional services

space from anywhere from about $10 million in annual sales up to over

$1 billion. The client engagements, just for example, one of the types

of engagements that we talked about in this interview is a re-branding

engagement. Those typically will sell for between $80,000 and

$120,000.The way that they have achieved their success and the way that they

attract their clients is through a very, very specific content

marketing strategy, which we dive into in great detail here in this

episode.Lee is a Ph.D., and he is an author of three books on the topic. If

you go to the “About” page of Hinge and you read his bio, you’re going

to see that he is an incredibly well educated and successful

individual.Getting to have a whole hour of his free consulting time here is going

to be incredibly valuable. We’re going to get to that in just a

second.Before we do, speaking of content marketing, if you’re new to the show

and you don’t already know, I have also written a book on content

marketing called the “Digital Marketing Handbook’.You can learn more about that at BrightIdeas.co/book. With that said,

please join me in welcoming Lee to the show.Hi, Lee. Welcome to the show.Lee: Well, hello. It’s a pleasure being here.Trent: Thank you so much for making some time to come on with me and

talk about how

professional services firms can successfully attract more clients.Now, before we get into all of the details of what I’m sure is going

to be a very interesting discussion, I’m sure that many of the folks

in my audience don’t yet know who you are, and so I’d like to give you

an opportunity in your own words to just introduce yourself, who you

are, and what you do.Lee: Okay. I am the managing partner of a firm called Hinge. We are a

branding and

marketing firm that specializes exclusively in professional services

organizations. Our clients are management consultants, marketing

firms, accountants, technology companies, architects, engineers, the

kind of people who sell their expertise.That is the only kind of firm we work for. The kinds of things we do

is we help them research their clients, position and brand their

firms, and do marketing programs to generate new leads and

opportunities and turn those into clients.Trent: Okay. So profession services firms. There’s obviously lots of

opportunity there. I know

that applies to a wide range of companies like the ones that you’ve

just listed off. In our pre-chat you had mentioned that you’ve written

three different books to help that particular tribe of individuals to

be more successful at this.Why don’t we kind of dive in right at the very top. Lee, so for

professional services firms, what do you think are some of the biggest

challenges that they face when it comes to client attraction?Lee: Well, there’s actually a lot of commonality across firms. Usually the

biggest thing is how

do I found and attract leads. I think people are sort of stuck in the

notion that the way they do that is they go out and they find people

and they try to convince them that they need to become clients of

those.While that’s certainly a traditional way of doing it, it’s not a very

effective or efficient way. I think the thing is, how do they generate

the leads that get them to the point where they can have a real

substantive conversation about it? They seem less concerned on the

whole with closing the sale than they are with generating the

opportunity in the first place.Trent: Okay. What you’re looking, if I’m understanding you correctly,

the big challenge is you

want to find people who already know that they’re looking. They

already know that they have a problem to solve, and you need to get in

their path of research so that you have an opportunity to have a

conversation with them?Lee: Yes. I think that’s exactly right. Actually, you raised a very

important point there that’s

kind of nuanced but it’s critical, and that is find a person who knows

that they have a problem. Here’s the thing with professional services.

For many problems or business issues that clients face, there’s more

than one potential solution.

For example, if you’re a firm and your margins are weak, you maybe

could have someone help you with cost cutting to improve your margins,

or someone to help you with your process, or someone to automate part

of it, or someone to bring you in new clients with higher margins.

Right away you have four or five potential solutions right off the

top, different directions. The key for professional services is how do

you get in the discussion early enough so you can help shape the

discussion of what is the appropriate solution for that potential

problem.

I think what happens is people often start too late. They’re focusing

on, “Well, let me find someone who’s ready to hire a new accounting

firm right now.” Well, there’s only a small proportion of your

potential clients who are ready at the particular moment you want it,

so you may be aiming too late at the process with your efforts.

Trent: Yes, that makes a whole lot of sense. What are some of the

things then that you, in your

books, talk about, are the activities that professional services firms

should be engaged in early on to get themselves on the radar screen of

their prospective clients before it’s too late?

Lee: That’s an excellent question. Let me back up a little bit and give

you a context for what I

think is the right answer to that.

The thing I love about Hinge is that we have an interesting kind of

situation. We decided early on that what we were going to do is we

were going to start out by researching the clients, potential clients,

as thoroughly as we could.

Then, when we found something that was going to be a good potential

solution for professional services firms, we would try it ourselves.

Once we have tried it and we have mastered it for our own, then we

would offer it to our clients. That allowed us then to go into the

situation with potential clients and say, “We’ve got experience with

this. We’ve done it ourselves. It’s based on research. We know how it

works.” That turns out to be an incredibly effective way for us to get

new business.

I think if you apply that lesson in what we learned, it’s if you can

find a group of potential clients for which you have not only a

solution that will work with them but have a very credible story to

talk about, then you’re in a position to begin the educational part of

the relationship, which transitions very nicely into actually having

them become a client.

The thing you’re trying to do is demonstrate to your potential client

that you understand the issue thoroughly, that you have a potential

solution, and that you can effectively solve their problem. I’m afraid

that’s a little bit of a roundabout answer, but I think it really gets

the essence to what you need to do.

Trent: Absolutely. Give me an example of what you’re talking about in

something that you guys

did for yourselves. You tested it, you got the research, and then you

started to use that to attract clients.

Lee: I’ll give you one simple example. When we’re doing research on

high growth professional services firms, we found out that they tended

to spend much more of their marketing budget, and their resources

focused on online marketing. We did a piece of research that really

focused in on online marketing for professional services.

We looked at over 500 firms and what they did on online marketing.

What we found was that there was a certain kind of commonality in the

kinds of techniques they used online, that when you boiled it down,

what came up was really a model for content marketing. We embraced

that model, and we started to do it ourselves.

The more we started to do it, the more we got success. The size of our

clients began to increase. The geographic range of them, the budgets,

t sophistication, it’s really been one of the primary drivers of our

growth, and that came from really what the research showed us about

what high performing professional services firms do. We followed that

path and it led to success.

Trent: Let’s dive a little deeper into that, because obviously I’m a

big fan of content marketing.

We have an agency where we do consulting, like you guys do, and all of

our leads come from content that I create very much like this podcast

and posts and so forth.

I’m definitely drinking the Kool-Aid, and I think that there’s a lot

of people here who are listening to this who would love to have more

success with content marketing.

First off I want to ask you, what types of…You’d mentioned you’ve

had success attracting larger clients. Let’s put a little bit of a

definition to what is a “larger client” in terms of annual revenue

that they would generate or annual billings for you. Either way you

want to describe it.

Lee: Well, right now our clients are primarily concentrated in the top 100

firms within their

respective industries. For example, in accounting, if you look at the

top 100 accounting firms nationally, that tends to be where our

clients come from. That’s true of also architecture, engineering,

technology, and so forth.

That’s what I mean, whereas when we started down this path our clients

were primarily local clients. They might have a firm or revenue of a

couple million dollars, five million dollars.

Now our client revenues are in the tens and hundreds of millions of

dollars and many times well above a billion dollars. It’s a much

larger group of firms, and they’re more geographically dispersed.

We’re getting clients literally from all around the world contacting

us with their particular marketing challenges.

Trent: Okay, so these sound like they’re probably pretty good clients

to have. Folks, just so we

know, I’m just setting the stage for the type of client. We are going

to dive into more of the types of content marketing activities that

Lee is doing to get these clients.

But the services that you’re delivering to them, Lee, are they for the

most part retainer type services, where they’re paying you monthly to

do something on an ongoing basis, because content marketing, it’s not

a one-time project?

I’m assuming, looking at your site, that much of the stuff that you’re

doing is in the umbrella of content marketing.

Lee: Yes. It is a balance of both content marketing, ongoing marketing

programs, and one-

time kind of projects. These one-time kind of projects, they’re often

pretty significant. The most common type of one-time project we do is

re-branding, and that will involve doing research, positioning and

messaging, doing all the website and collateral identity work, logo

design, and how that is going to be rolled out. Even though it’s a one-

time project, it can be a pretty substantial project.

Trent: Before we move on from that, if I might, there’s folks in my

audience who haven’t done

that yet, and this might be their first opportunity to think about,

“Hey, maybe I should be doing some of this kind of stuff.” Just for

their curiosity and mine, for a $10 million client, just ballpark.

What would a re-branding project be worth?

Lee: They’re roughly about, I would say $80,000 to $120,000.

Trent: Okay, and that would take you how long to deliver something

like that, from the very

start when they say, “Go ahead,” to “Okay, we’re done.”

Lee: It’s usually within the window of six months to a year.

Trent: Okay.

Lee: Generally, the smaller and the more quickly they can make decisions,

the less time it

takes.

Trent: Of course. I would assume that probably the biggest roadblock

to any project being

completed is just the client not being able to respond quick enough.

Lee: Yes, yes. Exactly.

Trent: Okay.

Lee: They’re all busy, almost by definition, all of the time.

Trent: Absolutely.

Lee: Many times marketing, for the top management, marketing isn’t

something where they

have the deepest background. Sometimes things can go wrong and it can

become a stand-in for other kinds of issues that an organization is

struggling with when you’re re-branding or repositioning, but that’s

relatively rare.

Most of them have pretty clear reasons why they need to re-brand, and

want to move along quickly.

Trent: Okay. Now let’s talk about the content that you’re using to

attract these folks. I want to

give this a bit of a framework as well. A book is what I’ll call big

content. A blog post or a video or a podcast like this is what I call

kind of middle content.

Then tweets and social sharing is what I call tiny content. First off,

you’re obviously doing a mix of all three of those, because you’ve got

three books, you’ve got a blog, and you have social profiles.

Lee: Correct.

Trent: In terms of attracting this kind of client, can you just kind

of walk us through your

content marketing strategy at the high level? So the concept first,

and then I’ll ask some follow on questions to dig into some details.

Lee: Sure. Well, the concept is that you need content at all of those

levels, each of those levels.

You need to have the very small content, the mid-level, and all the

way to the deeper content to have a full bodied program. Yes, we have

content at all of those levels.

But if you step back a second and you say which are the streams of

content you have, if you look at those as sort of like individual

programs, you start with what are the types of services and solutions

that I want to offer to a client population, and what is the specific

population or target group that I want to offer it to.

Those kinds of decisions, those generally get made by some kind of a

marketing analysis, or it may already be obvious to you because of

your background as a firm or as an individual where your sweet spot

is, where you can deliver the most value. That’s kind of where you

start.

You say, “If the endpoint is someone who needs to engage me to deliver

this kind of service, what’s the starting point? What are the earliest

symptoms that they would have where this might be the possible

solution?”

That’s at the front end of your funnel. Your small content and your

blog posts, beyond that, those are the kinds of things that deal

generally with the issues at the issue level. You’re not at the

solution level yet. You’re at the issue and diagnosis.

As you go further down the funnel you deal with more about, “Of this

issue, what are the possible solutions, and what are the things that

indicate this is the right solution?” How do you think about this

problem in a way that will help you solve it? What are the

alternatives that you could consider, and when is the solution that I,

as an organization, want to offer? When is that the appropriate one,

because you don’t want to try and get the wrong people?

Content marketing is as much about qualifying leads as it is

attracting them. At the end of the process, as you get further down

into it, you’re dealing more and more with the specifics of what is

the solution.

Then, eventually, the person will say, “I want to talk to you about

this. I want a proposal. I want to explore working together.” At that

point, then you get into the discussions about specifically how you do

it and how much your services cost and why you might or might not be a

good match for this person.

I think the mistake a lot of people make is they try to jump to the

end in the very beginning. They say, “Hey, we’ve got great services.

You should work with us,” which is silly. Nobody’s going to do that.

Trent: Yes, yes. It’s like walking into a cocktail party and saying,

“Here’s my card. Let’s do

business.”

Lee: I use the slightly cruder metaphor of it’s like going on your first

date and asking the

person whether they would like to marry you.

Trent: Yes, doesn’t work.

Lee: It’s jumping way too far ahead too fast.

Trent: Okay, so let’s use the accounting niche as the guinea pig

vertical for the next couple of

my questions.

Lee: Okay.

Trent: Folks in the audience here, they’re thinking, “Yes, okay,” I

want to go after accountants,

“What should I be blogging about so that I can start to get in the

path of their discovery?”

Lee: Okay.

Trent: So what topics would you be writing about?

Lee: Well, again, I think you need to start with the services that you’re

going to offer as you’re

thinking. In the context of your question, let’s say that you wanted

to do consulting with them on IT security for example. I’ll just use

that.

Trent: Can I interrupt? Most of…

Lee: Sure.

Trent: …the people listening to this will be in the business that

you’re in. They sell marketing

services, so why don’t we just talk about what you blogged about to

get into the path for these people?

Lee: Okay. Well, in our case we were looking at branding and marketing

services. We asked

ourselves, “Okay. Who is in a position to need branding services in

accounting?” We’ll just take that to simplify the discussion.

We said, “Well, okay. These are firms that might have gone through a

merger or are considering it. These are firms that potentially want to

accelerate their growth to grow faster. Or these are firms that might

want to reposition themselves to go after a different audience.

Or these could be firms that just haven’t addressed this for a while,

and they are just out of date. Their websites and their marketing

materials are out of date.” Right away we have four or five different

topic areas that could all be appropriate reasons.

We say, “Okay. What are the types of topics that people who are going

through a merger or considering going through a merger would be

interested in?” We would write blog posts about post-merger

integration, or how is your brand impacted by a merger, or what are

the challenges of generating leads in a merged firm.

All of these things are things that someone in a position to hire us

would be interested in and would likely be thinking about and be on

their mind. We’re not dealing with how we help you re-brand. We’re

dealing with what are the issues that you’re facing when you have the

kind of problem that would lead you to consider working with us.

Trent: Yes. It’s really quite straightforward hearing you explain it.

You’re identifying who is my

target audience, and what are the problems that they have. I am going

to blog about ways to solve those problems. Boil it down, real simple,

that’s what you’ve just said.

Lee: Yes, exactly. That’s what we’ve said. It seems too simple on one

level. It’s so interesting.

I find that people just really oftentimes don’t think about it that

way, because they get so focused on their own services that they lose

sight of who the client is and what their world is really like.

They’re the same.

They’re also professional services providers, just like us. They have

the same crazy schedule. They don’t have enough time. They can’t

research something thoroughly.

They’re not going to sit down and read your wonderful website that’s

got 17 paragraphs of content about why they should work with you.

They’re not going to do that. They’re going to do what you do.

Go to a website. They’re going to skim it. They’re going to look at

  1. They’re going to try and get what does this person do? Can they

help me? Is this useful?

Trent: How do you ensure, because you said some very interesting

things there. They’re busy,

which means they’re probably not sitting at their desk all day just

reading other people’s blogs. Content that isn’t consumed, it might as

well not have been written in the first place.

We’ll stick with the post-merger theme here just for the next part of

this discussion. Do you combine outbound outreach of some kind with

this content that you’re creating so that the people you’re creating

it for discover that the content even exists? How do you get them

there?

Lee: What our research showed, and again, we are pretty disciplined about

when we find

something in research, that’s the direction we go, we found that the

important keys were, number one is SEO, search engine optimization.

In other words, you have to write the content that is on the front end

of your funnel, and not so much the back end, but it’s on the front

end of your funnel, has to be written in a way so that when people are

searching for a topic, like post-merger integration or re-branding,

that they come across your blog posts or the kinds of things that

you’re doing. That’s kind of number one. That’s the must have.

The second thing that we do is we use social media. LinkedIn, Twitter,

to a lesser extent Facebook for our audience. Some of the verticals

are on Facebook, so we do some sharing on there. We share as widely as

we can in social media and discuss it in LinkedIn groups and so forth.

Then we do other kinds of outreach like speaking engagements, that

kind of thing. What we don’t do is we don’t do cold calling. We don’t

do rented lists. We don’t do very much networking other than to

maintain relationships and so forth when we have it. We don’t spend a

lot of time going out to networking and hoping to run into people.

Trent: Yes, that’s kind of a glorified cold call.

Lee: Yes, yes. Our whole goal with this is, can we get something that’s

useful and interesting

that’s going to capture your attention in front of you? Can we share

something that you would find useful?

Trent: All right. We’ll assume that you’ve got some success getting

the right eyeballs on the

right content, but you still need to move the ball forward, because if

they read it and they don’t do anything, that’s obviously not helping

them and it’s not helping you.

What are some of the ways that you ensure that a piece of content

causes, I’m going to call it a conversion, are somehow moving them

forward? Talk to me about how you do that.

Lee: Well, every piece of content should have a next step, should have,

“What should I do

next?” For content that’s at the early end of the funnel, that next

step is usually content that is somewhat more engaging. For example,

with a blog post, we might offer a guide that we have.

Our guides tend to be 25 to 35 pages long, that kind of talks about a

subject in more depth, whether that might be a subject like re-

branding or content marketing or SEO, and these are all kind of

related to services that we offer. That might be a next step.

Another next step could be a webinar or some other kind of educational

event that we’re doing, or it could be an e-book that we’re

publishing, or it could be a more extended piece of research. Any of

the things that would be more useful to a person who’s more interested

in that topic to take the next step.

Trent: Okay. Now, behind the scenes, what I call behind the screen,

when someone registers to

download one of your lead magnets, be it a webinar, an e-book or what

have you, what are some of the things…

Do you have an automated marketing funnel that’s attempting to nurture

and segment these people, or does that lead go to people in your team

who would then make a follow-up phone call? What happens?

Lee: Well, the one thing it doesn’t do, when someone downloads a piece of

content, we do not

jump on that person and make an outbound phone call or do anything to

try to convert them at that point.

We feel like that is really not what the person is asking for, because

if they’re asking to talk to us to discuss how we might help them,

they are going to reach out to us, we found out. If they’re not asking

for them, we don’t find that you talk people into re-branding or

marketing their firm or anything like that.

These are not impulse purchases, or they’re not something where you’re

going to talk them into it. These are things that people come to

through their education and understanding of what the situation is

they’re facing, and it has to be a high enough priority for them. If

it’s not, what you will end up with is a lot of leads that go nowhere,

that aren’t really opportunities.

You may have a person temporarily interested, but the next time

something comes up and distracts them, they’ll be on to something

else. You have to really deal with people who have a real business

challenge for which you are a genuine appropriate timely important

solution.

Trent: That makes perfect sense. I want to be clear. Then, when

someone downloads the report

from your site, obviously they go into your database. They get the

report via an email. Do they get any more follow-up emails or anything

after that, or is the onus simply now on them to contact you if

they’re really that interested?

Lee: They do get follow-up emails, but what the emails are isn’t an

attempt to convert them.

It’s offers for more engaging content. For example, if you downloaded

a white paper or, let’s say a guide or something, you might get an

offer for, “Here’s our latest e-book,” or “Here’s some research on a

related topic,” or “Here’s a webinar.”

We have tested some programs where we’ve been very specific about what

the person gets, but we find in general, if you expose them to a range

of other content and other opportunities, the thing that they

downloaded first may not be the thing that is their current interest

or becomes the thing they work with you on.

Sometimes it is, but sometimes it isn’t. They may have downloaded

something on how to differentiate their firm, but in the end they

really need a new website.

Trent: So you’re basically segmenting them by the activity that they

take, which is the reports

that they download, and each progressive report that they download,

does that have an influence on the next set of reports that you would

send to them?

Have you built that kind of logic into the funnel, or is it simply a

linear process that everyone goes through and they just pick whichever

report they want?

Lee: I think in general it tends to be a linear process, but that’s not

completely because it

sometimes is very dependent on what they’re done. For example, we use

the example of someone who downloaded a report.

Let’s say the next step they do is they attend a webinar on marketing

planning. At that webinar we’ll often make an offer that we’ll do a

phone consultation with you to go over your marketing plan and give

you some feedback on it.

That would not be an offer that we would necessarily make to everyone.

We’re making it to someone who has had that level of engagement.

They’ve taken that next step.

Then some proportion of people will say, “Yes, I want to do that.”

Then that gives us an opportunity to engage with them more, determine

whether they have a good fit, whether there’s a need, and some of them

will.

It becomes somebody calls. They will say, “Well, you know what? We

wanted to talk about the marketing plan, but what I really want to

talk to you about is re-branding.”

Trent: Okay. For folks who are earlier on, and I’m going back here

because I know I have a

meaningful portion of my audience that’s going to be going, “Wow, this

sounds awesome, but it also sounds a little bit overwhelming. How am I

going to get all the time to create all this content?” Everything

starts, how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

I guess, what advice would you give someone who is either not yet

started with content marketing or they’re relatively early? They’ve

just maybe started to blog. What activities do you think would be the

highest and best use of their time?

Lee: I think, and this might be counter-intuitive, but I think the most

valuable thing they could

do when they’re just getting started is research on their target

audience. The reason I say that is because that is where you get two

benefits from that.

Number one, you’re going to get a better feeling for what are the real

issues and opportunities for your kinds of services with that target

client group.

That is so important because, as human beings, we don’t know what we

don’t know. We spend so much time justifying it that we don’t need to

do things because we already know them.

What our research clearly shows is that we don’t know our potential

clients as well as we think we do. We just don’t. You have to accept

that. That’s a part of being human. You think you know them, but there

are probably gaps in your knowledge that you can fill in by doing that

research.

The second thing it does is, by gathering that research, that gives

you something substantive to talk about, to write about. You go to,

let’s say that you want to consult on marketing with hospitals. We’ll

use that as another example.

If you go and you talk to those hospital administrators and those

marketing directors and you truly understand what they’re struggling

with, even though it may not seem like it has anything to do with

marketing or branding or any of that, it’s a rare organization that

some of their key problems are not in some way related to marketing.

It really is.

Even if those are some of the things getting in the way, your ability

to talk about those problems, those issues, and how they’re related to

what you do is one of the keys.

How do you relate the kind of services you do to the things that

they’re talking about in their organization? That is going to right

away make you more relevant and make your blog posts and the things

you’re doing as the things they’re most focused on, where their heads

are at today.

Trent: That makes an awful lot of sense. If folks don’t have this type

of research, do you simply

reach out to people, cold email or social media, and say, “Hey, we

need to gather some data. We’re producing another research report?”

What is it that you say to get a stranger to say, “Yes, okay. I’ll

spend some time helping you with answers to your questions?”

Lee: Well, I think you’ll find that people are pretty generally willing to

share their information

or to share some research related thing if they’re going to get the

results or if they feel like knowing those results will be helpful to

them.

Even then, if you approach them kind of openly about what you’re

doing, we find that many, many people are willing to talk to you.

Plus, if you’re going after this area, you probably already have

contacts in there and you can network your way into it, and you can

begin small and build up from there.

The impediment to doing it is not that you can’t get people to

cooperate. The impediment to doing it is what’s between your ears,

where you talk yourself out of it and say, “Oh, they won’t talk to me.

They won’t do this. They won’t do that. This couldn’t happen. That

can’t happen.” That’s the thing that gets in your way; not the reality

of it.

Trent: Yes, I’m glad you pointed that out because I agree completely.

You don’t need to get to

talk to 10 strangers. You need to get to talk to one, and if you have

a nice conversation, more than likely when you say, “Who else should I

talk to?” they’re going to refer you to the next one.

Lee: Exactly, exactly.

Trent: Yes, okay. What haven’t I asked you about that you think is an

important piece to include

in this discussion? I think we’ve covered a lot of really great stuff

already, but you’ve got three books on this topic, and I don’t have

all three of them in front of me at the moment, so I’m sure there’s

some more.

Lee: Yes. There are a lot of things. I think one of the things that is the

biggest barrier for a lot

of people is the whole concept of specialization. I want to focus on

that because it’s a scary topic to people.

People, even marketing people who intellectually know that

specializing and focusing is a better way, they may know that

intellectually, but on an emotional level, they’re just afraid to give

up business.

They’re afraid that, “If I say I specialize in working with hospitals,

what if someone from a catering service calls me and they want to work

with me? What then?”

What they don’t realize is that the benefits of specializing so far

outweigh the cost with any business that you will potentially give up

that it is an even close. That’s one of the things that not only our

research shows but our experience shows, that specializing, while it

is not an emotionally easy thing to do and feels risky, is really the

safest thing you can do.

Now, someone says, “Well, what if I specialize in the wrong thing?

What if I specialize in this?” What we’ve found out is that generally,

the specialist, if you’re in the marketing area or in in general the

business development, helping them grow, it’s awfully recession

resistant.

Sometimes it’s actually industries that are in trouble that are the

best clients that are looking for help more than industries that are

thriving.

We saw that in the last recession, where the architecture, engineering

and construction segment just got absolutely battered in the last

recession. Turned out to be an excellent group of clients, because

those that made it through the first wave, they said, “You know, I

didn’t have to do anything before. Just show up and I would get

business. Now I have to actually figure out what I’m going to do.”

Trent: Yes.

Lee: It’s not always intuitive. If you really are in tune with an

industry, you do find out where

those opportunities are, and you have a tremendous advantage over

someone who’s a generalist.

Trent: Yes, no kidding. Sorry, I’m just jotting notes here down. That

is such incredibly sage

advice, and I’m glad that you thought to bring that up.

Now, for someone who is saying, “Okay, yes. I’m sold on this

specialization thing. Give me some criteria. There’s all these

industries to choose from. Help me narrow the list down to at least a

subset so that I can start to go do some research on that subset,”

what are some of the criteria that you would suggest that people

consider when trying to go from the whole field to that slice of the

pie they’re going to maybe start to do the research on?

Lee: Well, it starts out with looking where you have a competitive

advantage. If you peel back

how people specialize, almost always what you find out is, “Oh, I used

to work in that industry. “My spouse works in that industry”. “We’ve

got several clients in that and it’s really interesting.”

It’s some kind of an advantage or an entree you have into an industry

that gives you the ability to look at it differently than a generalist

would look at it. That’s where I would focus first.

If it’s not that, then you’re just looking at very general things,

like, where is there a market, where do I think the industry is going

to be down the road. I’m constantly amazed at the niches people have

found.

There are the environment with the range of industries, and which ones

you could focus on is so broad and so deep that there is most likely

going to be something when you even pause for a moment and look at

where you have the experience, where you have the interest and

excitement.

Trent: Yes, and that makes perfect sense as well. In looking at your

homepage, there’s a number

of things that scroll through in the featured section, and one of them

is of course that we specialize in professional services, marketing,

and branding, with that cool little airplane.

Was there a reason why you didn’t go more niche and say, and maybe you

did this in the past, “We specialize in engineering firms,” because in

North America there are lots of engineering firms?

Lee: Right.

Trent: Your message would have been even more relevant to that sub-

niche of the professional

services space.

Lee: That’s a very perceptive question, and it is exactly precisely the

strategic discussion that

we have when we said, “Is professional services too broad a niche? Do

we need to go narrower?” because we observed that there were a lot of

people who were just focusing on one vertical. I think the answer to

that question about how broad or how narrow is your niche has to do

with how people see themselves.

Are they part of a broader industry or not? In other words, the

clothing store, do they see themselves as being a retailer or a

clothing retailer? Where is their primary identification? That kind of

tells you what the client will accept as being relevant to them.

It’s a battle. We took a calculated risk that we could build a brand

that cut across professional services that included multiple ones.

When we did it, we didn’t know whether it was going to work or not,

whether the psychology of our buyers would allow it.

Well, in the end it was successful for us, but we also didn’t just

rely on that, because we have verticals within the architecture,

engineering and construction or the technology area, and we have

people that are devoted just to those verticals.

We believed that the brand could handle all of professional services,

and so far it seems to have worked. But we didn’t start there. We also

built within the individual niches.

Trent: Do you have landing pages and special reports that are devoted

to the sub-niches of

professional services that I simply just can’t easily navigate my way

through to from the homepage of the blog?

Lee: Yes. We have landing pages. We have research reports. We have case

studies. We have

things that are devoted to each of the niches. That’s actually

something that we’re continuing to strengthen. Sort of every year by

year we go deeper and broader within the niches within the things we

offer, the people we partner with, and so forth.

Trent: Does paid traffic play a role at all in getting the right

eyeballs onto the right offers,

meaning those landing pages that are top of funnel for you?

Lee: It can. It can, and particularly in certain situations, where you

have keywords that you

want to be found for but you can’t get to when you have, we’ve used it

in the promotion of some of our books as they’ve been released to get

a little bit broader release of them. It’s certainly a component. It

isn’t necessarily the most efficient way.

But having said that, we have a number of clients or people that we’ve

studied who have relied very heavily on paid promotion, and it’s

worked well for them where they’ve promoted that content. Certainly

don’t rule it out, but it’s not generally where you look first.

Trent: A follow on question to that is, have you ever for yourselves

or for your clients used paid

traffic as a means of testing the viability of a keyword, a major

keyword, before embarking on a content creation strategy for that

keyword?

Why I ask that question, as I’m sure you’re aware, not all keywords

have the same value. Some of them have a much higher converting value

just by the nature of the keyword. The people who are searching for

that are more likely to become a buyer of whatever it is you’re

selling versus some other keyword.

Lee: Sure.

Trent: Paid traffic’s a very fast way to test it. Do you do that?

Lee: We’ve done a little of that, but generally we’ve found that we’re

focused on getting the

right kind of content. If we can’t draw the traffic with SEO, then

we’ll use that particular topic, we might use that as a guest post in

somewhere where we can draw the traffic, or as a conference speech or

an article or something.

So there’s more than one way to draw traffic. Keywords, that’s what

does the bulk of the work day in and day out, but it’s certainly not

the only way to draw attention or traffic to an idea.

Trent: Well, Lee, I think we should probably wrap up pretty quick

here. We’ve been about 46

minutes so far. Before we do that, a couple of very quick questions.

Obviously, if people want to get a hold of you, they go to

hingemarketing.com, and then there’s all sorts of ways that they can

learn more about your organization and interact with you.

The books that you offer, if anyone wants to get, what are the titles

of the three books, and then how can people get them if they want to?

Lee: Okay. They’re available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or also as

downloads from our

website. They’re free electronic versions at the website. The first

book is called “Spiraling Up”, and it deals with high growth

professional services firms. We looked at what they do differently

than average firms.

The second one is called “Online Marketing for Professional Services”.

That is based on a study of 500 professional services firms and how

they use online marketing and what the fastest growing ones do.

The third book is called “Inside the Buyer’s Brain”. That is a

combination of over 1,300 interviews of buyers of professional

services, also called clients, people who purchase services, and

sellers, and how they see the world differently and the blind spots

that the sellers have.

All three of them are available in those sources, and they’re all

really based on research, as all of our things are.

Trent: Okay, fantastic. As you’ve been talking, I’m trying to download

all these things. “Inside

the Buyer’s Brain” was very easy to find. Just so that I and the

listeners can find the other two on your site, how do I get there?

Lee: You go to the Library.

Trent: Oh.

Lee: In the Library, you’ll see where it will say “Books”.

Trent: You know, I’m sometimes blind as a bat. Didn’t even see the

Library button beside the

Blog button. All right.

Lee: They’re different, and that’s why you have to be clear with your

navigation. That’s the one

thing you don’t want to be innovative about, is your navigation

system.

Trent: Yes, I would agree. Do what everybody else is doing, because

people expect that the

doorknob’s going to be in the middle of the door; not up at the top or

the bottom.

Lee: That’s right.

Trent: Lee, I want to thank you very much. I learned some really good

golden nuggets

from this interview, and so I have no doubt that my audience did as

well. I do want to thank you very much more making the time to come

and spend some time with us here on the show.

Lee: Thank you very much for having me. It was a pleasure chatting with

you.

Trent: All right. You take care and have a wonderful day.

Lee: Okay, thank you. Bye-bye.

Trent: Okay, to get to the show notes for this episode, go to

BrightIdeas.co/93. If you really

enjoyed this episode, which I sure hope you did, please go to

BrightIdeas.co/love, and there you will find a very easy way to leave

feedback for this episode in the iTunes store.

That is really, really important because with each feedback we get

more awareness, we rank higher in the iTunes store, and that helps

more entrepreneurs just like you to discover the Bright Ideas podcast.

When they do, we get to help more people to massively boost their

business with all of the bright ideas that get shared by my guests

here on the show.

That’s it for this episode. I am your host, Trent Dyrsmid. Thank you

so much for tuning in. I look forward to seeing you again in the next

episode. Take care.

About Lee Frederiksen

LeeFrederiksenLee Frederiksen, Ph.D., is an award-winning marketer and renowned business strategist who helped pioneer the field of research-driven marketing. A rare combination of businessman and research scientist, Lee draws on his Ph.D. in behavioral psychology and his entrepreneurial experience as CEO of three successful firms to help clients achieve high growth and profitability. His research also forms the basis for his six highly acclaimed books on the topics of organizational growth, marketing, and business strategy.

Lee has authored or edited several books on marketing and management, including Handbook of Organizational Behavior, Marketing Health Behavior: Principles, Techniques and Applications, and Computers, People and Productivity. He’s been widely quoted in the business press, including Fortune, New York Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, Entrepreneur, Business 2.0 and Advertising Age, as well as numerous trade and professional journals. Most recently, Lee co-authored the book Spiraling Up: How to Create a High Growth, High Value Professional Services Firm.

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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.

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Laura 4 (9061)5x7Laura Ries is a leading branding strategist, bestselling author and television personality.

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If you are, you are not alone.

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