The Power of Verified Reviews: Why Agencies Thrive with Clutch

The Power of Verified Reviews: Why Agencies Thrive with Clutch written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

The Duct Tape Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch

In this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I interviewed Katie Hollar, the marketing lead at Clutch, a leading global marketplace for business service providers. Think of it as Yelp for marketing agencies. Her extensive experience in marketing leadership at Clutch have provided innovative tricks into how verified reviews can transform agency success and drive growth.

During our insightful conversation, we explored how Clutch connects buyers and sellers of business services and examined the importance of verified reviews in establishing trust and credibility in the B2B marketplace. In this episode, Katie Hollar shares compelling success stories and practical strategies for agencies to leverage reviews to attract ideal clients and enhance their reputation.


Key Takeaways

Katie Hollar emphasizes the critical role of verified reviews in the B2B service sector. She notes that comprehensive and in-depth reviews help agencies differentiate themselves and build trust with potential clients. With an average review on Clutch stretching around 500 words long, every review reveals detailed insights into the client experience, project deliverables, and outcomes.

She discusses the growing trend towards strategic marketing services and the increasing demand for agencies that offer more than just tactical solutions. Verified reviews play a crucial role in showcasing an agency’s ability to deliver strategic value, helping them move from being seen as mere vendors or trend-chasers to trusted advisors.

Moreover, she points out that responding to both positive and negative reviews is vital for agencies. Engaging with reviews demonstrates transparency and a commitment to client satisfaction, which can significantly influence prospective clients’ decision-making processes.

Katie Hollar’s insights underscore the power of verified reviews in shaping an agency’s success, highlighting that authenticity and detailed feedback are key to building a strong and credible online presence.

Questions I ask Katie Hollar:

[01:43] Give a little overview of what Clutch is

[03:40] What makes Clutch different?

[08:38] What are the most significant trends in this space currently?

[08:42] What kinds of buyer challenges are Agencies tasked with responding to?

[13:13] Has the demand for strategy made platforms like Clutch adapt or change?

[15:27] Do you have any case studies of agencies experiencing growth by using platforms like Clutch?

[17:34] What drew you to the Marketing world?

[19:05] Is there someplace you’d like people to connect with you find out more about your work?


More About Katie Hollar:


Like this show? Click on over and give us a review on iTunes, please!

Connect with John Jantsch on LinkedIn


Speaker 1 (00:00): Duct Tape Marketing really helped me to shave at least six to eight months off of work that I was dreading after leaving the corporate world. Even before I participated in the agency intensive training, I had already landed in my first customer. This, in essence, more than paid for my investment in Duct Tape Marketing.

John Jantsch (00:18): What you just heard was a testimonial from a recent graduate of the Duct Tape Marketing certification intensive program for fractional CMOs marketing agencies and consultants just like them. You could choose our system to move from vendor to trusted advisor, attract only ideal clients, and confidently present your strategies to build monthly recurring revenue. Visit DTM world slash scale to book your free advisory call and learn more. It’s time to transform your approach. Book your call today, DTM World slash scale.

(01:03): Hello and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch. My guest today is Katie Hollar. She leads the marketing team at Clutch, the leading global marketplace for business service providers since 2022. She focuses on building a multidisciplinary marketing team to drive growth for both buyers and vendors. Before Clutch, Katie was the CMO at Dwell Full, a prop tech startup and has over a decade of marketing leadership in the online B2B marketing marketplaces, I should say. So Katie, welcome to the show.

Katie Hollar (01:38): Hi, John. Thanks for having me.

John Jantsch (01:40): So we probably better clutch, we probably better give a little bit of overview of what Clutch is, maybe what your mission is in the agency space.

Katie Hollar (01:50): Absolutely. So Clutch is an online marketplace that helps connect buyers and sellers of business services. So we have over 1500 different specialized categories of services that folks might be coming to our site to look for a provider to help them with their business. Everything from accounting firms to digital marketing agencies, to web development companies all over the globe. And so we are a resource to help you read reviews, compare different providers, and ultimately select which one is going to be the best fit for your business.

John Jantsch (02:24): So is that an expansion of the original mission I recall was Clutch primarily focused in the marketing space.

Katie Hollar (02:31): Clutch started really focused on IT services and that was where it really built early foundation, but marketing was a fast follow. And so a lot of our traffic today, a lot of our service providers specialized in different digital marketing specialties. And today we’re going to talk a little bit about fractional CMO models, which is an increasingly popular type of service that we’re seeing demand for across the platform.

John Jantsch (02:56): So essentially you are, clutch is a review and matchmaking service. So would that be fair?

Katie Hollar (03:02): Yes,

John Jantsch (03:03): Yes. All right. So to help people say it is like Yelp for B2B businesses or something like that, but you probably don’t use that characterization.

Katie Hollar (03:16): Yelp is one that comes up a lot, TripAdvisors, Zillow, this whole category of online marketplaces that help bring buyers and together. And we’ve had over a decade of history of building up this wealth of content specifically around business services and how to find the right professional services for your project.

John Jantsch (03:36): I know there aren’t a ton of competitors in the space, but there are certainly other folks in it. If somebody was asking you how Clutch was different, I mean, how do you differentiate Clutch from kind of this growing space?

Katie Hollar (03:49): Yeah, great question. So I think in a few ways, one is we’re really focused on focused this services search and helping professionals such as yourself, such as myself, who need help finding the right agencies or firms for specific business project or need. And so all of our content has really been focused on how do we get in depth reviews is almost underselling, but really deep case studies and stories around the experiences that people have had with the different providers. So an average review on Clutch is almost 500 words long. We really go very in depth with folks on understanding what was the deliverables of the project, what was the timeline, what did you spend, what was the outcome, how did you measure the success? To give people a lot of contact on is this going to be the right business for me to partner with for this industry, for this stage of my growth for this particular need?

(04:49): And so we very much focus on the services buying. There’s other sites out there that focus on software and focus on other parts of B2B buying, but that’s been our core and it remains our continued focus is really how do we make sure that we’re connecting you to the right services. And I would say another way we’re differentiated from other sites you might go to might think of an Upwork or a Fiverr that’s helping you get freelance talent. We’re really more focused on the professional services firms when you want an agency of support, not an individual who’s going to help you with a one-off task, but a more robust retainer based or ongoing project where you need a team of folks or someone with just more experience and professional structure to help you with a certain outcome.

John Jantsch (05:41): So particularly since people, especially a buyer is coming there and they’re looking for a resource, they’re really counting on you to have vetted and gone through the process and that those reviews truly are a third party. What do you say to that person that’s like, oh, I don’t know if I can trust those. I mean, how do you safeguard those to make them true reviews? True case studies?

Katie Hollar (06:04): Yeah. We go through a pretty robust verification and validation process, and I think this is increasingly coming about as there’s more AI generated content. There’s lots being put online today that I think everyone is attuned to, Hey, where did this come from and how can I trust it? And so we’ve actually found the most successful way to get this review content. If you think about the types of folks who are typically procuring agency relationships, they’re typically pretty senior in their organization. They might be a founder owner for a small business as it grows, you’re probably a VP department level, pretty senior person who’s busy and doesn’t have a lot of time to go write this whole story around the agency they worked with and what they worked with them on. And so we found the best way to get that is to actually have a phone call with that individual.

(06:57): And we actually talk, we have teammates who talk directly to the buyers or the previous buyers and understand their client experience with the agency, ask them really specific follow-up questions. And so that’s been the most successful way to verify that this is a real experience and get that really helpful content to help create a very thorough verified. But of course, we accept online reviews as well and we check for work history and identifying the relationship between the service provider and the buyer. We do accept all reviews, positive or negative. So we often get the question, well, will you allow an agency to take down a negative review? We won’t. We want it to be really biased, helpful platform that gives you the full picture of all of the client experiences. And we encourage our providers to respond to those, right, perfect. There’s always a client that had a bad experience here or there and it wasn’t the right fit, but the best thing you can do is respond to that and give your side of the story and show how you’re moving on or learning from that experience.

John Jantsch (08:07): Yeah, I always tell people responding to negative reviews is not really so much a response to that person that wrote it. It’s to the public. How you respond is probably as important as what happened. Clutch has grown very large, so you have very large database, a lot of users and buyers, both sides. Do you ever spot or do you pay attention to trends in terms of what people are looking for, maybe even agencies? Obviously we deal mostly with marketing agencies, how they’re changing what they pitch even or what are you seeing is kind of the most significant trends currently?

Katie Hollar (08:42): Yeah, really great question. It’s one of the reasons I love working in a business model. This is we kind of get the inside look on what’s trending in a sense. And so we absolutely look at that from a marketing perspective. There’s been so much change I think in recent years, but particularly in the last year and a half, two years with refocusing on efficiency. I think so many markets really had to go to task with how do I do more with less funding has been harder to come by. I’m having to make tough calls around potentially laying off my team or how to work really lean and maximize profitability for my business. And so we’ve actually found through that more demand for agency services generally because when I’m being asked to make trade offs on, well, I can’t, I can’t build this skillset internally, but I need to still deliver.

(09:42): Growth agencies offer a model that allows you to scale that up and down and have more flexibility. So we’ve almost found in a way it’s a little bit recession proof. Of course people are more price sensitive. We’re seeing contracts have taken a little bit longer to come to fruition, but by and large, there’s still a lot of demand out there for different services. And I think one of the trends we’ve seen more recently in the marketing segments is that I think there was previously a lot of demand for very tactical performance marketing type things to do more of the tactical work for their business, like run my TPC campaigns on Google ads, what really do this very more tactical work in a specific channel or specific area of expertise. And we’re seeing more of a shift for demand for more strategic work. I need product marketing agency that’s going to help me position my brand. I need fractional CMO who’s going to help me figure out I reorg and structure this for growth in the future. So we’re seeing a shift, I think a lot more towards more strategic qualitative type marketing away from, not to say away from, but just a shift in that focus. And there’s still, we want a social media agency, we want that technical type of project work, but a lot more demand for some of these, I would say higher level type of project engagement.

John Jantsch (11:18): And I’ve certainly seen the same thing. And I think part of what’s driving that is I think a lot of people were unfortunately offering tactics alone and sometimes those tactics were disconnected. There’s a heck of a lot of pressure on price. I mean, there’s people selling website design for a hundred dollars, $200. So there’s a ton of pressure on just pricing tactics. And I think what we’re seeing is whether they’re agencies or just people hanging out of shingle calling themselves a fractional cmo, that they’re actually attracting a better client who is looking for strategy as opposed to a quick fix. And I think it also changes dramatically changes the relationship with a client. If you’re brought in to orchestrate all the parts, you really become, I think more of a trusted advisor. And I think getting out of the vendor status is probably a really good move. So I think it’s reaffirming that you’re seeing more demand for it from the buyer rather than it just being a trendy thing in the market that people have decided to offer. What are some of the challenges that, if buyers are asking for that, are you seeing challenges with agencies being able to respond to that or are you seeing the same thing where a lot of them are actually putting out strategic offerings or maybe going as far as calling themselves a fractional CMO or having that as a service?

Katie Hollar (12:38): I think it varies. And there are folks who have done a really great job of niching down and defining what they are best for. And I think those are the companies that see the most success on a platform like ours. And I think on most marketing channels, as you’re out advertising your agency services, it’s the more specific can be around who you are for, whether that’s a specific expertise or specific kind of strategic skillset that you bring a very specialized expertise. That is where we are seeing growing demand as buyers are getting really specific around the types of folks they want to hire for different things. And then we are seeing providers see more success when they are really specific around who they want to target. I think the companies that have struggled as priorities have shifted as budgets have shifted, are the ones who kind of were like, we offer anything and we just want to grow and we do all sorts of marketing, so we want to be across your entire site. We want to be P-P-C-S-E-O, digital marketing advertising. We can do it all. And I think it’s hard for those businesses to focus on where is the growth going to come from if they’re trying to spread themselves too thin and be all things for all potential clients.

John Jantsch (14:02): How has, or maybe you haven’t, has Clutch evolved, you’re seeing more demand for strategic, has that caused any kind of change in your platform or is it really just you’re observing the supply and demand changing?

Katie Hollar (14:18): I think we have continued to really think about how do we one, continue to do research and understand where the demand is. We get a majority of the folks who are coming to Clutch are finding us because they’re searching for a particular type of service. And so we are constantly out there looking at what are people searching for? What’s in the news? What are podcasts like your own talking about and what are we hearing so that we are ahead of that? Who are the agencies offering these services? And let’s make sure we have those represented. And then it’s around on the service provider side, coaching them on how do you make sure that you’re placed in the right places for what your business specialized in and does your actual website and your messaging and your pitch match who you’re trying to target. And that’s been a lot of the education there. So I wouldn’t say it’s kind of a constant state of change, but nothing kind of that function. It’s just we evolve as a market evolve.

John Jantsch (15:24): So I’m sure you have many, hopefully you can recall one. Do you have any case studies that you cite of agencies that clutches actually become a significant growth channel for them?

Katie Hollar (15:34): Yeah, actually it’s funny you ask that. We were just in a internal Slack channel hearing a story from a company that said we were literally on the verge of going out of business. We had no business coming in. Growth had really slowed and we were not sure we were going to be able to continue to make payroll and continue to keep this going. And they started a clutch campaign and they got two projects that they closed this morning that kind of kept the lights on for them. So we often hear those types of stories that I think one of the great things about professional services is we’re helping what tend to be pretty small businesses, maybe a entrepreneurship more often. It’s a handful of folks who come together to form an agency that one project can really make or break their trajectory for a lot of times in their big value projects.

(16:23): So yeah, I think we have a mix of client sizes and there’s that example that I just gave, but we also have folks who are global agencies with hundreds of employees and they have lots of Fortune 500 clients and years and years of experience. And obviously that’s a different type of relationship. But I think Clutch is still a really valuable part of their marketing mix because I think sites like Clutch not only help with the discovery as folks are looking for certain types of services, but it helps with that validation kind of throughout the buying cycle. Maybe you got a referral for this agency, they’re like, well, what kind of work have they done? Have they done any work in my industry? We see a lot of folks coming directly to the profiles of the providers listed on our site to read those reviews and say, well, sure, I got a referral from someone of my network, but they’re at a totally different type of business. Is this going to be the right fit for me? And so it still influences that relationship in that way because they’re validating and they’re doing due diligence around whether this is going to be the right fit.

John Jantsch (17:32): So one last question and more of a personal one. What drew you to the marketing world?

Katie Hollar (17:37): Oh, great question. I think I’ve always had this kind of right brain, left brain combination.

John Jantsch (17:45): It’s really a struggle. More than a combination though, isn’t it?

Katie Hollar (17:47): Yes, it’s a internal puzzle war, I would say, but my favorite subjects in school were math and English and art. So I, as I went through college and narrowed in on what I wanted to do was really draw on some marketing as kind of the intersection of all of those things and being able to use a strategic analytical mindset with a more creative outlet. So I really got into it. I went to the University of Virginia, studied business, and then was fortunate to work right out of school in a small social media agency, right when social media was just becoming a concept for businesses and learned a lot there. That agency actually went out of business within a year of me graduating. It was right around the great recession. And so that first experience I think gave me one, a little taste of the agency world and how leading it can be at times if client demand is not there and living through a similar period. I think a lot of agencies are experiencing now where it’s harder to get those consistent client relationships, but was fortunate to bounce back, landed in the B2B SaaS world and really grew my career in the SaaS industry.

John Jantsch (19:00): Awesome. Well, Katie, I appreciate you taking a few moments to stop by the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. Is there somewhere you would invite people to connect with you and maybe find out more about the work at Clutch?

Katie Hollar (19:11): Yeah, absolutely. You can reach me on LinkedIn. It’s Katie Hollar and would love to connect with any fellow Duct tape listeners.

John Jantsch (19:18): Awesome. Well, again, I appreciate you stopping by and hopefully we’ll run into you one of these days out there on the road.

Gated vs.Ungated Content: What Works Best in Today’s Market?

Gated vs.Ungated Content: What Works Best in Today’s Market? written by Tosin Jerugba read more at Duct Tape Marketing

The Duct Tape Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch

In this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I interviewed Jonathan Gandolf, the founder and CEO of The Juice, a B2B content platform aimed at solving marketers’ biggest pain points in distribution, reach, and audience engagement. Jonathan Gandolf’s career has spanned craft beer to digital marketing, leading to his current venture which is often described as the “Spotify for B2B content.”

During our insightful conversation, we delved into the ever-evolving landscape of content marketing, focusing on the contentious debate between gated and ungated content. He shared valuable insights from his extensive experience, providing actionable strategies for how businesses can effectively use content to engage their audience and drive conversions.

Key Takeaways

Jonathan Gandolf emphasizes that content must educate and entertain to build trust and engagement, noting that ungated content is 26% more engaging than gated content. He highlights AI’s role in enhancing content creation and distribution efficiencies, while also underscoring the irreplaceable value of human experience and wisdom. Although he sees strategic value in occasionally gating content to provide customized experiences, he advocates primarily for ungated content to attract genuine audience interaction.


Questions I ask Jonathan Gandolf:

[02:50] What’s the state of content today?

[04:33] Tell us about the impact of AI and content creation?

[07:54] What’s your take on the most effective way to distribute content?

[12:12] Where is generative search leading us?

[13:13] How do you approach attribution?

[15:52] Is there someplace you’d like people to connect with you find out more about your work?



More About Jonathan Gandolf:



Like this show? Click on over and give us a review on iTunes, please!

Connect with John Jantsch on LinkedIn


Speaker 1 (00:00): Duct Tape Marketing really helped me to shave at least six to eight months off of work that I was dreading after leaving the corporate world. Even before I participated in the agency intensive training, I had already landed in my first customer. This, in essence, more than paid for my investment in Duct Tape Marketing.

John Jantsch (00:18): What you just heard was a testimonial from a recent graduate of the Duct Tape Marketing certification intensive program for fractional CMOs marketing agencies and consultants just like them. You could choose our system to move from vendor to trusted advisor, attract only ideal clients, and confidently present your strategies to build monthly recurring revenue. Visit DTM world slash scale to book your free advisory call and learn more. It’s time to transform your approach. Book your call today, DTM World slash scale.

(01:03): Hello and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch. My guest today is Jonathan Gandolf. He’s the founder and CEO of the Juice, a B2B content platform on a career path that has wandered through digital marketing, craft beer, and content marketing. He and the team at the Juice are now solving marketers biggest pain points when it comes to distribution, reach, and audience engagement. So Jonathan, welcome to the show.

Jonathan Gandolf (01:30): John, thanks so much for having me. I’m excited to be here.

John Jantsch (01:33): So I don’t always start with this question, but I think in your case, I’d better start with if somebody came up and you said, so Jonathan, what do you do for a living? How would you describe what you do? Or more specifically maybe what the juice is?

Jonathan Gandolf (01:46): Yeah, at our core, we sell marketing to marketers, which is, I always try to tiptoe around the question of what do you do, but maybe a slightly longer explanation. Everything we do as consumers is curated for us, whether you’re looking for news, music, movies, home fashion, traveling, there’s a website that connects buyer and seller based on the buyer’s information or what they are interested in, or maybe it connects creator and consumer. I was a B2B marketer and I was just sitting here, man, we create a piece of content, we put it on our website, create a piece of content, put it on our website. It’s like, why are we all fighting each other to send traffic to our own website? Let’s get all of the content in one place and then let’s let software play matchmaker between the creator and consumer, buyer and seller. And so that’s what we’ve built. So long answer, probably long answer to a short question, but I try to say we’re like Spotify for B2B content,

John Jantsch (02:42): So you’ve always got to use the We’re like Airbnb, but for Exactly,

Jonathan Gandolf (02:46): Exactly.

John Jantsch (02:47): Very cliche

Jonathan Gandolf (02:48): To do that, but yeah, guilty of charged.

John Jantsch (02:50): So if somebody were to ask you, what’s the state of content today? I know that’s a giant question, but what are we going through? We had the point where content is king. No, no, no. Contest air. That’s what I mean. Again, when you talk about the biggest pain point of solving it, what’s the state of content today and we’ll into, we’ll have to get into AI and things like that, but just generally speaking, what’s the state

Jonathan Gandolf (03:15): Evolving, I would say would be the one word. I think how I sometimes summarize it up, HubSpot created inbound marketing movement around 20 10, 20 12, somewhere in there. And it was really novel when it first started to create a piece of content, drive inbound traffic, get information, and it worked really well, but it worked so well that everybody started doing it, and it feels like that’s ran its course now. And now different channels are emerging. I think different content formats are emerging as well as emerging technologies. So I just think it’s all changing very quickly, but I think the punchline is that good content, and I think I define that as content that educates or entertains still resonates and still works. How you deliver it might be changing how somebody consumes it might be changing, but good content still works.

John Jantsch (04:01): Yeah, I think unfortunately the message that a lot of people hear is, oh, I just need more. And I think that sort of goes against what you just stated, isn’t it?

Jonathan Gandolf (04:09): I totally agree. I think more for the sake of more, there’s a lot of people caught on that content hamster wheel. I call it create just because it’s status quo and I think that’s not the right motion to be stuck in.

John Jantsch (04:21): I’m only four minutes into the show and we’ll start talking about AI just because it has such impact. It has impact on many areas of business, but it clearly on content is a place that is impacted. How do you talk about the role of AI and content creation?

Jonathan Gandolf (04:35): There are so many different ways you can use it. I view it more as an operational efficiency as opposed to a creator, right? There are ways you can use it to create SEO content at scale. There are ways you can use it to create blogs at scale, but I view it more as an operational efficiency. I think you might be doing this, taking this podcast recording and turning it into a transcript and then atomizing that transcript into newsletter copy, ad copy, social copy, whatever, that kind of operational efficiency. I think there’s a ton of opportunity there, but I almost view that as that’s almost like as much a technology as it is a CMO technology, but that’s a operational activity. The one that I think goes under discussed or isn’t being discussed enough is how consumers, how marketing consumers of content are using ai. I think it’s going to have some search implications and we’re starting to see some of that come to life.

(05:30): I think the other thing is, and this is something we talk a lot about at the juice, is if somebody comes across a 20 page ebook, are they going to sit down and read that or are they going to drop that link into their favorite GPT and say, Hey, give me the five takeaways, give me the key insights from this, and so then does the type of content we should be producing that still is human created change altogether? I think there’s still some level setting to happen there on how consumers are using AI in their day-to-day.

John Jantsch (05:58): Yeah, I think that’s a really great point. So maybe the five key points I was going to write about are now on one page, right?

Jonathan Gandolf (06:05): Exactly. Yeah.

John Jantsch (06:07): So let me flip that. I asked about the role of ai. What’s the role of humans? Now,

Jonathan Gandolf (06:12): That’s a loaded question. I’ll share with you what I share with some of our customers. I always say share what I think your own knowledge, your own wisdom that you’ve gained over lived experience. I think sometimes we discount that as humans because it can’t be put in a spreadsheet. We’ll say, oh, I made that decision off of gut instinct and it’s got instinct, but it’s gut instinct derived from years of experiences and years of similar decisions that you’ve made. So I think that should carry just as much weight as sometimes what you can put in a spreadsheet. And I think taking that experience, that wisdom and knowledge and sharing it is always really good. As well as templates we see on our platform templates outperform any other type of content by a factor of about three x. So I think a lot of times people are, they want to learn from each other and the ability to share that knowledge is really powerful. And then the last one I’ll mention is proprietary data. That’s still the one thing that AI can’t replicate, at least not yet. If your platform or your product or your service creates this proprietary data set that you can look at and analyze and create unique insights that can’t be replicated. And so we’re always trying to coach customers on sharing content that has data in it like

John Jantsch (07:22): That, just don’t share it with the GPT.

Jonathan Gandolf (07:25): It’s true. Once that’s going to all get

John Jantsch (07:28): Aggregated,

Jonathan Gandolf (07:29): It’s going to be interesting to see. Yeah, we’re all going to learn.

John Jantsch (07:33): So one of the challenges I think for a lot of marketers today is that people are consuming content in there the way they want to, the journey. They want to go on the format they want to consume it in. And so it really makes, it’s almost like you can’t produce a piece of content. You have to produce a piece of content that is repackaged into 40 pieces of content or different formats at least. What’s your take on the most effective way to maybe do that, particularly when it comes to distribution, which is a big part of what you do?

Jonathan Gandolf (08:02): I would say great content doesn’t convert. If you’re creating content to convert, it is become very trendy to say great content converts. And I think if conversion is your goal with a piece of content, I think you’re going into it with the wrong intent. I say great content educates and entertains, and you’re right. So much of what is happening, how buyers buy right now is changing so much and so much of it happens in that dark funnel or in that dark social or just outside of your periphery that you just have to create quality content and then have an immense amount of trust in your team and your product to convert to them when they are ready to be converted. I think the days of pushing literally, maybe not literally, but figuratively pushing somebody through a pipeline or through a funnel with content, I think that’s an old school way to think about how buyers are interacting with content nowadays.

John Jantsch (08:56): Yeah, I don’t think the customer journey is very linear. That’s very darn sure. I always say that you talked about great content converts. What I always say is trust converts, and that’s really what great content does. Build

Jonathan Gandolf (09:08): Trust. I be stealing that one.

John Jantsch (09:09): You go for it. Let’s talk about for years it was so novel to actually make somebody opt in to get a piece of content, and we would do it by the millions. Now we see it when we test it that people will turn away from a form today. However, as marketers, there’s always that, but if I don’t capture the lead, I can’t continue to market it to them. Where do you fall on gated versus non?

Jonathan Gandolf (09:33): We published a 23 page ebook in the fall about gated versus ung gated content. So what’s interesting

John Jantsch (09:38): About Wait, did you have opt in for it or not?

Jonathan Gandolf (09:40): So that’s the punchline. That’s the punchline. I’m going to get there. I’ll get there. So the unique thing about our platform is you sign up for it once and everything’s gated. And we have what? We have resources that were originally gated or ungated on our platform. So it’s a level playing field, over 300,000 resources. We saw that ungated content actually is 26% more engaging than gated content. So we as marketers were making this decision to put what we thought was more engaging content behind a form, on a level playing field. It’s actually not the more engaging content, it is just content that we have arbitrarily decided to gate. And I think what’s happened, I mentioned this a little bit earlier, is when gated content is novel, it worked. I think it became so ubiquitous that now content consumers know what’s happening When they put their data in a form, they’re going to get a call, they’re going to get an email, they’re going to be in a drip.

(10:33): And I’ve done it, I’ve seen it in our own forms where you get things like Daffy Duck, James Bond, mark Zuckerberg filled out on the form, and then you end up passing that spreadsheet to the sales team. The sales team says this is low quality and it actually, it’s diminishing trust between sales and marketing. So we found the content that was ungated was actually more engaging. And I still think there’s a time and place to gate content if you’re adding value with that information. So if you’re getting something like job function and that allows you to pass along a piece of content to that person that’s specific to that job function, compensation reports are a great example of that. I think that’s a way to do it if it’s actually customizing their web experience on your website. So if you’re getting something about them that allows the rest of the experience to be custom, I think that’s good.

(11:22): But if you’re just getting the information and passing it to your sales team, I would not gate content. So we had this interesting, we were really proud of this report. It’s something we’re still really proud of, and we were like a week and a half out from launching it, and somebody on our team asked, wait, are we gating this? And we all just looked around the room, wait a second, are we gating this? We had spent all this time and energy on this report and we hadn’t even thought ourselves, and we said, the data says the ungated content’s more engaging, so it’s an ungated report and that’s where we fall on it. But I was actually really impressed by the nuance of the conversations we had with marketers on it, and I am more of the belief now that there is a time to gate content and a time to ungate content for us. We’ve made the decision to have most of our content.

John Jantsch (12:07): I don’t know if we can call this a bullet point or if this is a whole nother topic, where’s this evolving thing called generative search going to lead us if I never have to actually visit a piece of content? Does it exist?

Jonathan Gandolf (12:21): Yeah. What is it? I think it’s 67% of Google searches end without a click. Now, not an SEO expert, and I’m not an AI expert. What I’ve said is that the SEO game is changing. If I had limited resources as a marketer in terms of financial, I would not be increasing my investment in SEO right now. But the behavior of search from our consumers will never go away. They’re always going to be searching. I don’t know where or where the results they’re going to be getting or coding to come from three years from now, two years from now, one year from now. But the behavior of search isn’t going away. I would just be cautious about investing in the current model of search.

John Jantsch (13:00): Yeah, so one of the things that’s always been a challenge, like if you run an ad, somebody clicks on the ad and buys something, attribution’s pretty simple content. I went here, then I went here, then I went and got lunch, then I came back and did this. It’s like, how do you approach attribution, especially when we are trying to get through that ultimate conversion.

Jonathan Gandolf (13:19): I’m going to give a super unsophisticated answer here, but to me, and this wouldn’t have been my answer probably two years ago, but we’ve learned a lot of the juice. Just ask, I think set up the system so that you can have a good educated guess at where that should be attributed, but whether it’s in a form or whether it’s in a conversation or in an onboarding call, just ask and let them tell you. And it’s still going to be an exact, they might’ve seen a display ad that they don’t remember that led them to LinkedIn that led them to following somebody on your team. But self-reported attribution, I’ve become a really big fan of and just taking the time and asking,

John Jantsch (13:59): And with traditional marketers, this is a bit controversial, but I sometimes wonder if we’re trying too hard to get attribution when maybe it doesn’t matter if we’re doing all the right things, if we’re actually putting ourselves in the path of where we think people are going, do we actually have to know exactly how they got there? Because I think sometimes just what you said, if the first thing on the dropdown menu is a Google ad, most people are going to choose that. And does that actually lead us to making wrong decisions as opposed to saying, let’s cover the journey as thoroughly as we can in the best way we think we can and then hope it converts.

Jonathan Gandolf (14:39): I’m biased, but I think that’s part of the magic of marketing is that it is a gray science, and I think if you try to over-engineer the attribution too much to make it black and white, you’re going to end up with really boring results and boring outputs from that. I think, like you said, you have to have the trust that this blend of everything that you’re doing is going to give you the results that your team needs.

John Jantsch (15:02): So I’m a content marketer or an agency. Pitch me on what I would get if I came to the Juice and had you help me with my marketing.

Jonathan Gandolf (15:10): Absolutely. So the juice is going to sync with where you’re already publishing content. We don’t host your content, we’re just pulling in the metadata and then presenting it to our audience. We’ve got almost a hundred thousand sales and marketing leaders on our platform who’ve come to our platform because they’re looking for content, right? But they might not know your brand exists. They might not find it in search, but what we do is we play matchmaker between a high quality engaged audience and brands trying to reach that audience, and we’ve got insight into both sides, and then we just play matchmaker and we’re going to distribute your content for you that you’re already doing without changing your behavior. You’re going to get access to an engaged audience, and we’re going to play Matchmaker for you.

John Jantsch (15:48): Awesome. Jonathan, I appreciate you taking a moment to stop by the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. Is there anywhere you’d invite people to find out more or connect with you?

Jonathan Gandolf (15:55): Sure. Reach out to me on LinkedIn and then you can visit our platform as a user and start receiving content recommendations. It’s free, it’s

John Jantsch (16:04): Awesome. Again, I appreciate you taking a moment to stop by, and hopefully we’ll run into you one of these days out there on the road.

How Podcasting Can Transform Your Business: Lessons in Networking and Lead Generation

How Podcasting Can Transform Your Business: Lessons in Networking and Lead Generation written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

The Duct Tape Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch

In this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I interviewed Josh Elledge, a U.S. Navy veteran who launched to help agencies, consultants, coaches, and other high-ticket B2B service providers skyrocket their sales. He also started which has grossed more than $6 million in sales with zero paid ads. Josh Elledge is a keynote speaker, writes a syndicated newspaper column to 1.1 million readers, and regularly appears on more than 75 TV stations across the country. 

During our, dare I say Meta conversation, we uncovered the transformative power of podcasting for businesses, focusing on how it can be a game-changer for networking and lead generation. A long time of the duct tape marketing podcast and leader in the industry itself, Elledge loans his experience, providing actionable strategies for how small business owners can leverage podcasting to boost business growth and establish strong industry connections.


Key Takeaways

Josh Elledge emphasizes how podcasting makes an age-old powerful tool for networking and lead generation, highlighting the importance of interviewing industry leaders to build valuable relationships. He advises creating valuable, audience-centric content to attract and convert listeners into potential leads, stressing consistency and authenticity. Josh Elledge also shares strategies for monetizing podcasts, including sponsorships and affiliate marketing, tailored to your audience/consumers’ needs to ensure profitability while delivering value.


Questions I ask Josh Elledge:

[03:12] Tell us a bit about how you’ve taught people how to use podcasts to build their authority in whatever industry they’re in.

[09:33] How can you use podcasts as a tool for a desired business outcome without sacrificing authenticity?

[16:29] What are the biggest challenges to making podcasts work?

[19:46] How do you think podcasting and B2B sales will look in the next 5 years?

[23:02] Is there someplace you’d like people to connect with you find out more about your work?



More About Josh Elledge:


Like this show? Click on over and give us a review on iTunes, please!

Connect with John Jantsch on LinkedIn


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John (00:18): What you just heard was a testimonial from a recent graduate of the Duct Tape Marketing certification intensive program for fractional CMOs marketing agencies and consultants just like them. You could choose our system to move from vendor to trusted advisor, attract only ideal clients, and confidently present your strategies to build monthly recurring revenue. Visit DTM world slash scale to book your free advisory call and learn more. It’s time to transform your approach. Book your call today, DTM World slash scale.

(01:05): Hello and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch. My guest today is Josh Elledge. He’s a US Navy veteran, launched up my comm to help agencies, consultants, coaches, and other high ticket B2B service providers. Skyrocket their sales. He’s also got another, I don’t know, can we call this side project savings, which has grossed more than 6 million in sales with zero paid ads, and he is a keynote speaker, a syndicated newspaper column to 1.1 million readers and regularly appears on more than 75 TV stations across the country. So Josh, welcome to the show.

Josh (01:44): John, listen, I don’t want to embarrass you, but I just, you’re

John (01:47): Getting great too. You’re getting great at two. Here

Josh (01:48): I go. Here I go. I just want to start right up at the very top and just say, I’m fanboying a little bit right now because your longevity in this space has been just such a fixture for so many great business leaders, including myself. And I want to think particularly back in, I want to say 20 15, 20 16 timeframe. That is when I just really appreciated your voice because that was definitely a period of when I was kind of shifting from one identity to another. And not only just that you were there with a wealth of tactical information, but your integrity was the thing that was just so valuable for me because in a world where I heard a lot of what I would call broey marketing out there that did not resonate with me, yours was one of collaboration of serving in integrity. So I just want to say again, thank you so much for having me. This is great. And so thank you for fostering this conversation here.

John (02:48): Thank you. So there you heard it. Josh called me old on the show today. No, I appreciate that, Josh. Actually, we haven’t done away with the Broey marketing yet. It’s still out there, but we’re doing it one day at a time, aren’t we? Alright, so you have spent up my influence frankly, spends a lot of time helping. Well, it helped you build authority by podcasting, right? And essentially that’s what the business does today. So talk a little bit about how you’ve used and taught people how to use podcasts to build their authority in whatever industry they’re in.

Josh (03:22): Certainly. So it actually started with Savings Angel, my other company, which I launched back in January, 2007. I had no money for advertising, but somehow had convinced a lot of local media outlets to work with me where I would provide content, and it started a lot of radio. And so I was hand coding my own podcast, RSS feeds. I would record my radio segments and then I would just create MP threes, upload into my own server, update this text file. So I guess you could say I’ve been podcasting since 2007, which is quite some time. So I’ve definitely seen the evolution. And here’s John. One thing that I learned very quickly is that podcasting is a great platform for reaching and connecting and building audience. But I think that what most podcasters fail to realize and which most people who are considering starting a podcast don’t quite realize is that podcasts are the ultimate networking platform.

(04:22): And I dare say make friends button. And if you think about what a powerful tool or technology that is, I would just say to my friend who’s listening to our conversation right now, do not sleep on this. Because at the same time, this opportunity is out there in a world that is just dominated with amazing guests who want to connect these exact same people that are appearing as podcast guests and are paying PR firms to get seen on podcasts. And listen, it’s not a high bar to start a podcast. Those in guests are being inundated with spammy, broey, lead gen amateurs, and they hate it. I don’t like it. I don’t like being sold at, I don’t like being treated like a number and a piece of meat. But unfortunately a lot of the lead gen world, that’s how they treat people. They treat them like numbers and they treat them leads. What I found is that if you treat people with in the way that you’d want to be treated golden rule and you just lead with noble intent and generosity and leverage platform, you can build such an amazing network that will be the gift that gives and serves you for the rest of your life. It’s who not how. And your network is truly your network worth today.

John (05:45): So I want to go back to that idea of relationship building. I’ve told people, I actually started my podcast in 2005. I literally recorded them over a phone call with a device that plugged in to a digital recorder. So I love telling the old days stories, but my first book came out in 2007 and two of the primary people that blurbed it were Seth Godin and Guy Kawasaki, everybody, pretty much household names in the marketing world these days. They didn’t know me from anything. I’d never written a book, but I had them on my show to talk about their books. That was the whole goal of it, promote their books. And so then it gave me sort of the permission to turn around and say, Hey, would you do this for me? And I doubt that either of them would’ve even returned my email had we not built that relationship on me doing something for them. And I tell people all the time, if I had two listeners, I would keep doing this show because it lets me get free coaching. It lets me build relationships. It lets me find out stuff I want to know how to do. Whereas if you just sent out emails to people and say, Hey, could we get on a call and see if we have any synergies? Who’s going to respond to that? Right?

Josh (06:57): Yeah, absolutely. And John, I think again, it’s important to underline, again, I mentioned noble intent, generosity, and platform, and I want to make sure that I underline noble intent. So if you hear what I’m talking about and you say That sounds like a great way to pitch people, no, you are already doomed to fail and not only doomed to fail from a business perspective, you’re going to create a lot of enemies. People, again, it’s the same thing. This is no different than let’s say you go to an event and there’s a mixer and you’re hanging out with people.

(07:40): How do you connect with people at an event like that? Chances? Most of us are pretty classy. That’s all you really want to do. I don’t know about you, but I have gotten so much business historically at events at the mixers. I just say, Hey, what do you do? Tell me about that. Oh, that’s really interesting. And then we get to know each other and then I just say, Hey, listen, why don’t we chat sometime? I’d love to see maybe if there’s any collaboration opportunities for us. If I can make any introductions anyway, I can help. Always happy to share ideas and brainstorm. I am open to all of the above outcomes right now. What I find is that if we’re pretty thoughtful about the rooms that we enter and who we spend our time with, and we get really geeky around the type of persona that a potential partner might be like, what’s going on in their life?

(08:28): Who are they? What size company, what decisions are they making? That sort of thing. And that is what we create editorial justification around so that we can ensure that we are stacking the deck with our dream ideal people. And what we usually find, John, is there, our direct engagement opportunities very easily 30, 40% of the time. And a good chunk of those may actually be people that want to engage you based on who they are, who you are. And again, this all begins with noble intent because if you begin with this idea that you’re just going to sell people and that’s your singular focus, people know what you’re doing. There’s never been a time when audiences have been more skeptical of being sold at, and it’s not your fault, it’s not my fault, it’s marketers just in general who have engaged in a lot of bad practices. So consumers have just put their guards up, they just don’t want to be sold at.

John (09:18): So we maybe jumped over. An important point here is that a lot of what your program is about and what you’ve been teaching people is effectively how to use a podcast as a lead generation and network building tool. So I think your point about if somebody goes, oh, that’s it. I’ll start a podcast and I’ll interview people I want to sell to and I’ll get them on my show. I mean, that’s a conclusion, one conclusion somebody could make. So help me understand how you use that tool. Two, it’s effective outcome, but in a much more authentic way.

Josh (09:54): Yeah, absolutely. So a great analogy that I like to use is if your goal were to attract butterflies, and let’s say you’re going to give yourself a handful of months in order to do that, well, you might go grab a butterfly net and then start running up and down the street like a maniac trying to find and catch butterflies. And then you’re going to do that day after day after day after day. Okay? That’s like being caught in the lead gen rat wheel. And particularly if you don’t necessarily enjoy that type of work, I just say if I were forced to engage in activity that I didn’t want to do day after day, I would just assume go get another job. I created my business so that I could do everything that I do based on my values and my integrity so that I can enjoy every day and what I do and how I connect with people.

(10:41): So the solution if you want to attract butterflies is quite simple. And I bet our friend who’s listening to us has probably maybe thought about how would I actually do that? Well, I would suggest you plant a butterfly garden. So what you have to do is you have to lead with, if you want to build a relationship and you’re the one that’s initiating that outreach or initiating that suggestion that this is you and I might be good friends, you cannot lead with an ask. And now unfortunately, that’s what a lot of lead gen people do, or again, it’s very tied to what it is that they want. So in true Go-Giver fashion, you are going to lead in generosity and you are just going to give the market what the market is wanting. Now, I can tell you that this is my background in pr.

(11:33): I can tell you that there is an enormous industry around leaders wanting to be seen and celebrated for what they do. There are great podcast guest agencies out there that do phenomenal work we love because again, they are helping get their guests on great platforms. I am thrilled to share my stage and shine the spotlight on other people. I enjoy doing that. I love letting people know what you do in the world matters. And I want to share your story with my audience now because of that initial opening salvo or kind of opening invitation, well, that is wildly attractive to butterflies. And so they love my garden. So because of that, now we get the time together, true active service and then business adults do. If you and I were on a panel and at an event and we were serving an audience together, and I’m kind of listening to you along the way, you’re listening to me along the way, we’re going to probably jive a little bit.

(12:37): And then at some point after when it’s all done, it’s like, I really like what you guys are doing. Let’s grab coffee sometime and just see if there’s something we should be doing together and then just be open to the possibility. Now, I will tell you this, John, and I’m sure you’ve done this. I buy a lot of my guest books. I hire a lot of my guests. In fact, every contractor or agency that I hire was a podcast guest. I do a lot of business that direction and I do a lot of business the other way. It’s two leaders that like each other are going to work very hard to try to find ways to support one another. That’s what we want to create is an environment where people say, oh, good. Now I have a friend who does what you do. And if you can do that a couple of hundred times, it’s kind of game set match. For many of us that’s really all you need is just 200 meaningful relationships, not another Broey sales funnel.

John (13:34): Yeah, I think the challenge for a lot of people is that is a different point of view. That is a different mindset than a lot of people that are, I need to sell something today. Because what you’re really saying is do something in the world that provides value and you’re going to benefit, you’re going to win. But sometimes that’s hard to put on a spreadsheet.

Josh (13:58): It does, and I empathize with that and I know what it’s like to say, you know what? I got bills that are due in two weeks. I need to get someone to buy. The challenge with that is I think that we are all aware and we’ve been in that environment when we’re in the room with someone and we know that they need us to buy. And I will say that in the sales dynamic, that’s not ideal because salespeople with sales breath, it just like we all smell it. And then it’s just again with savings. Angel, I’ve studied and led on consumer behavior since 2007. That’s what I write my syndicated newspaper column about. And again, consumers have never been more sophisticated, they’ve never been more savvy, and they are just a little bit on guard. So again, we just want to continue to assure our friends, we want to continue to assure the market that our intent is to do good in the world.

(14:51): And generally, John, I trust leaders. They’re either in market or they’re not. So I think that there are some things that we could probably do to improve our sales ability and our sales processes. There obviously are things that we could do to improve our product and that sort of thing, but I don’t know. The market is kind of where the market is. Like if you walked into a room a hundred people and it’s a hundred grand of people and they’ll fit your ICP and that 22% are going to buy, you can go into another room of a hundred different people that are all kind of the same persona and you’re probably going to get about 22% that are going to buy. And you’re going to find that pretty consistent based on the market. We’re not smarter than the market. The market just is what it is.

(15:29): So the number one thing that we can do as business leaders or service providers is we just need more at bats. If you want to drive revenue, you need to talk with more people. In fact, in my presentation, John, I quote you talking about lead gen or as it were, it’s the lifeblood of our business. You need more opportunities. And so again, we just want to create more of these butterfly gardens so that we don’t have to be running up and down the street with a butterfly net. We just have butterflies, all gardened all over the place, and we’re constantly attracting high caliber decision makers and fellow leaders that we want to engage with.

John (16:07): So maybe we haven’t said this directly too, so you teach people to start their own podcast. I mean, I know what they are, but I’d love to hear from you, what are, our listeners would certainly like to hear from you. What are the challenges that you see A lot of, especially you’re talking about maybe a CEO that needs that or wants that exposure, but podcasting, one of the things that stops people from doing it is it feels like a lot of work until you get a rhythm or until you get habits. So what are the biggest challenges to really making this work?

Josh (16:40): Certainly the number. Here’s the reality of statistics and the attrition rate in podcasting. It’s pretty abysmal. More than 90% never make it to episode 50. In fact, I’ve seen NAS stats that are even more dire than that.

John (16:53): So 10. Yeah,

Josh (16:54): It’s pretty dire. I think a lot of people are well intended. They get into podcasting because they’re hoping that they’re going to get visibility. They’re going to get a lot of maybe engagement with that audience. What I’ve learned about podcast listening audiences is they tend to model the behavior of more of a TV viewing audience where it’s usually a little passive. We’re not necessarily clicking on things on our TV screen

John (17:15): While it comes. Yeah, we’re out walking the dog. Right,

Josh (17:19): Exactly. Here’s the good news of this. So again, it’s a very passive media. While people are multitasking, here’s the good news. These are very high quality people that generally listen to podcasts, and I say high quality from just kind of ability to potentially engage with from a business perspective. So we want to be very realistic about that and understand that if you start a podcast, it’s not going to be a whole lot different than if you start a YouTube channel. It is just going to be a grind. So what you have to do is make sure that you have a foolproof business plan and a business model. So you do the business model first so that you know exactly what to expect. And also the contingencies. What happens when you get to episode 20 and you still only have about 35 listens per episode and you feel deflated?

(18:07): What is going to keep you engaged? Well, again, when I look at all of the benefits that podcasting provides, most of them are going to be long-term. Some of them are going to be short-term. And again, what I have found is that your ability to connect with and build relationships with your ideal partners, your ideal influencers or investors or even clients that you might potentially want to work with, there is a significant ability to do that. Because right now, if you have an okay podcast, right, and I’m talking about an interview podcast and you use that to celebrate other people, you are stepping into an environment that for every decent interview show there are hundreds if not thousands of potential guests already. Their supply demand in the podcasting world is insane. It has always been that way. And according to some good friends like Alex over at Pod Match, it’s only gotten bigger. There are so many amazing out there that I just love being of service to and then love exploring to see if there’s any other things that we might be able to do together. Sometimes yes, sometimes no. I’m okay with all of that.

John (19:18): As a marketer at heart, I always try to teach people, look, you’re also producing content which is going to have a lot of use for you down the road, right? You are probably going to get a lot of backlinks out of it because people are going to promote the show because I was on the show mean. So there are many benefits beyond the conversation that you’re having that I think you certainly need to consider as part of it. I think you started to touch on it and time flies, of course, when you’re having fun. But is there a future of podcasting and B2B sales that you think is going to look like something the next five years?

Josh (19:53): Oh God, yeah, absolutely. So the thing that I’m so excited about is my mission is really to help cut down on the B2B spam. I just think it’s so inefficient. I think the stats are not great. 90% of us just don’t engage with spammers right off the top. So that means you’re only capable of even remotely possibly working with about 10% of the market. Then of those 90% that they just don’t engage with spams. If you DM me, I’m probably just not you, John, but if someone just dms cold dms me and spams me, pretty much, it’s an instant block. And it’s not their fault. It’s honestly, I feel badly. But decision makers have to be so protective of their time and attention, and I’m very much in that boat. So you asked about the future of podcasting and whether it’s traditional podcasting or it’s the ability to engage as leaders do.

(20:51): What do leaders do well? Well, if you have a lot of wisdom and knowledge and experience, and I’ve got a lot of wisdom, knowledge, and experience and that wisdom, knowledge, and experience is valuable to an audience, are there ways that we can collaborate together? So again, this may look different in the future, but it’s two humans coming together in service of others. There is a magical dynamic that happens when two people come together in service. There’s just this connective energy that happens like, John, you and I just did something good together. Doesn’t that feel great? And then after that, there’s kind of this high that happens. And a lot of times guests and hosts want to continue that, or at least they should. And if they don’t, it’s like you’re in the room right now with someone that probably knows some good people. You probably know some good people.

(21:40): And here I’ll just say this, most experienced podcasters are really good networkers, or at least they know a lot of people. They are very, sometimes it will feel almost like a whisper network of who they know because it’s not flashy and showy. They’re just quietly building relationships, serving audiences, keeping their head down. That’s generally what I do. So again, however it looks, I think that, again, service together of two leaders is just the fast path. In fact, there would be no up my influence if I wasn’t serving in my local startup community, serving on boards pro bono, working with veteran owned businesses and minority and women owned businesses and helping them just doing pro bono work. And I meet other service-minded leaders. We get to know each other. In fact, it was my very first client was someone that said, Hey, I actually, you’re pretty smart at this.

(22:32): Can you do PR for me? And I’m like, I don’t have a PR company. Let me ask my friend if I’m allowed to do ask a PR professionals, like someone wants to hire me to do pr, is that ethical? Can I do that? And he’s like, yeah, go ahead. And so that’s where up my influence came from. That was the very first version of it is just going out doing good and serve the world. And it will come back to, you will get to a point, this is my final thought. You will get to a point where you will not be able to out give the market. You got to just show up in consistency, got to show up with Noble intent. But again, use those journalism creds as it were, or media creds as it were, a platform cred. And that is the fast bath or the express elevator to increased authority and influence. Just use platform rises to the top, keep associating with other high authority people, and you’ll find that so much faster than all the conventional means of marketing and lead gen and that sort of thing.

John (23:24): Amen. Alright, Josh, I appreciate you taking a few moments to stop by the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. Why don’t you, is there some place you’d like people to connect with you, find out more about your work?

Josh (23:33): Yeah, absolutely. Certainly if what I’m sharing with you, it resonates with some and it doesn’t resonate with others, I fully acknowledge that if what I’m saying is intriguing and you’re like, some of that emotionally feels good to me, I want to learn more about that. I’ve got some great stats. I’ve got some great quotes from John Jans in a presentation. Listen, I’ve got about an hour and 15 minute long workshop. There’s no gate. I don’t need your email address. I trust you. You’re an adult. If you like it, you’ll find some ways that we could possibly do some stuff together. But you can watch that. That’s a great workshop. It’s our Attraction mastery workshop. And I’ll go into this with a lot more stats and quotes and that sort of thing. And I think, again, as marketers, as professional business leaders, this is pretty valuable in info because I go into the state or the state of the union on lead gen right now, and it’s based on, I’ve talked with a few thousand people by now. I’m concluding a lot of VPs of sales of what they’re experiencing. But yeah, so here’s the web address that you want to go to. So you can watch that. It’s just, and then you’ll see the button where you can watch that. And again, I don’t need your email address and I don’t need you to opt in on anything. I trust you. Again, that’s another thing too, is start treating your customers and people like adults, and they’ll let you know if they like it.

John (24:54): Awesome. Well, we’ll have that in the show notes as well. So Josh, I appreciate you again, showing up and spending some time with us. Hopefully we’ll run into you soon, one of these days out there on the road.

Avoid These Common Pitfalls For a Winning Sales Presentation

Avoid These Common Pitfalls For a Winning Sales Presentation written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

The Duct Tape Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch

In this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I interviewed Terri Sjodin, a seasoned expert in public speaking and sales presentations. As the principal and founder of Sjodin Communications, Sjodin has spent over 25 years coaching Fortune 500 companies, industry associations, and even members of Congress on how to refine their presentation skills. During our conversation, we broke down the top three points in her latest book, “Presentation Ready,” which identifies and addresses the most common mistakes made in sales presentations. Sjodin’s research-backed insights aim to help professionals elevate their presentation game, ensuring they engage their audience and drive conversions effectively.


Key Takeaways

Deliver Presentations not Speeches. Polish comes from practice, but charisma comes from certainty. Terri Sjodin highlights several critical aspects for delivering successful sales presentations: structure your message persuasively with clear arguments and storytelling, avoid the pitfall of winging it by thoroughly preparing, engage your audience to prevent boredom, close with a strong call to action, and adapt your approach to different presentation platforms.

Drawing examples like actress Merly Streep’s effortless performances she nails on the necessity of practice, practice, practice! Don’t just conclude, close, don’t just be informed, learn to persuade and never wing it.

By addressing these common pitfalls, professionals can significantly enhance their presentations, ensuring they are engaging and effective.

Questions I ask Terri Sjodin:

[02:08] When researching this book, did your findings verify everything you knew or did you find some real surprises?

[07:12] Expand on the concept of self-admitting mistakes between rookies and veterans

[08:54] Do presentation strategies differ virtually and in person?

[10:24] How have speeches and debates prepared you and what advice do you have for alumni who aren’t in the environments with these kinds of opportunities anymore?

[15:02] Is there a methodology for people who haven’t had the training in identifying their weak spots?

[19:16] What role does rehearsal play in sales presentations?


More About Terri Sjodin:


Like this show? Click on over and give us a review on iTunes, please!

Connect with John Jantsch on LinkedIn


Speaker 1 (00:00): Duct Tape Marketing really helped me to shave at least six to eight months off of work that I was dreading after leaving the corporate world. Even before I participated in the agency intensive training, I had already landed in my first customer. This, in essence, more than paid for my investment in Duct Tape Marketing.

John (00:18): What you just heard was a testimonial from a recent graduate of the Duct Tape Marketing certification intensive program for fractional CMOs marketing agencies and consultants just like them. You could choose our system to move from vendor to trusted advisor, attract only ideal clients, and confidently present your strategies to build monthly recurring revenue. Visit DTM world slash scale to book your free advisory call and learn more. It’s time to transform your approach. Book your call today, DTM World slash scale.

John (01:05): Hello and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch. My guest today is Terri Sjodin. She’s a principal and founder of Sjodin Communications, a public speaking sales training and consulting firm for over 25 years. She’s served as a speaker and consultant for Fortune 500 companies, industry associations, academic conferences, CEOs and even members of Congress. We’re going to talk about her latest book today, presentation Ready, improve Your Sales Presentations Outcomes, and Avoid the 12 Most Common Mistakes. So Terry, welcome to the show.

Terri (01:43): Hi, John. Thank you for having me.

John (01:45): I think we should just go one through one through the 12 mistakes, frankly, because

Terri (01:49): People are so compelled. Everybody

John (01:50): Loves to avoid mistakes worse than even getting better. I just don’t want to get wrong. Right? So you did a fair amount of on top of having your own practice. You’ve done a lot of research on that you put into this book on the key findings. I always love to people that do research, did they just verify everything you knew already or did you have some real surprises?

Terri (02:13): Thank you. Actually, so great question. So my background is in speech and debate, and so I’ve always been a bit of a speech geek. So the whole concept of public speaking and presenting and the impact of that has always been near and dear to my heart After, oh my gosh, almost 20 years. So I had written a book called Sales Speak, which addressed originally the nine biggest sales presentation mistakes and so Fast Track 20 years later, I thought it was time to revisit that question, are these still the nine mistakes and if so, why? And if not, why not? And so I went back to my alma mater, San Diego State University where I competed on the speech and debate teams there when I was in college. And I shared a mini research study that I had done just internally with my clients. And I said, what do you think about this?

(03:06): And she said, why don’t we run a formal study? And I was like, that would be amazing. So thanks to Dr. Heather Canary and Dr. Rachel record and the team at San Diego State, I was able to bring the private sector data into an academic environment and do an analysis, which really brought some fresh perspective to this topic. And it just honored a promise that I wanted to make, which is if we were going to talk about the most common mistakes that sales professionals make, then there should be no research about us without us. So all of the content came from field sales professionals or people whose livelihood is dependent on their ability to build and deliver a persuasive presentation that drives conversion. So there’s a lot behind it and thank you for asking about it. I think it’s the most important part of the research in the book.

John (03:55): Okay, perfect setup. Lemme go back to my question though. Were there any surprises from it?

Terri (04:02): Yeah, so the way that we posed the questions, we said, all right, we have this incredible audience. So we asked them, looking back over the last six to nine months, was there anything that you felt you did that cost you a win or a deal or an opportunity? And 94% of the people said yes. And we said, great. Okay, that’s really helpful. So now we’re looking at that original nine. Are these still the nine mistakes? And if not, why not? And what were people going to share with us? And there were three new mistakes that were added to the list. So the nine morphed to 12, and yet there were these three mistakes that always rose to the top. And everybody’s like, what are the big ones? What’s number one? But it kind of depends. So there was a tiny variance whether you sold a product, a service or cause, but all three were always the top three.

(04:50): In addition to that, the top three were always the same regardless of generation or number of years of experience, which we thought was really surprising. So I’ll start with the number three, which was a bit of a surprise. The number three biggest mistake that most business professionals self-confessed, this is based on their own self-observation, was that they included at the end of a meeting or presentation but did not close. So they concluded but did not close the number two biggest mistake that most people self-confessed. And these were really close two and one and two were really tight. But number two was that most people confess they’d become far too informative in nature rather than persuasive. They didn’t build a compelling case. And the number one biggest mistake that most people self-confessed is that they wing it when they roll into a meeting or presentation. So those are the big three.

John (05:45): I would say just in listening to that, and maybe this fits in there somewhere, I don’t ask enough questions, I talk too much perhaps. Is that somewhere on the list?

Terri (05:54): It really depends. There’s a balance. So depending on where you are in the process will depend on how much more you speak versus listen. So for example, one of the questions that people always ask is why did you focus on the mistakes? And so then I’ll say to them, look, we can’t course correct what you don’t recognize as a problem. So it just helps us to get to the point faster. And that notion of getting to the point faster is really the gift of going back to your issue, which is do you not ask enough questions or do you just date a dump or are you talking too much? Again, I don’t know where you are in the process. There is a part of the meeting that does require you to do your homework first and then ask a lot of questions so that you can customize your talk to meet the needs of the listener. But then there is a really important point where you have to create, present your case, who are you, what is your proposition? How will you save them time or money or sanity? And so that’s where you would be required to speak and present more to build and deliver your case versus the q and a period. So the answer is two things can be true. And so I’d have to probably look at your overall presentation, John, before we beat you up on that.

John (07:12): So I was curious, you said there wasn’t much difference in self admitting these mistakes, at least between rookies and veterans. I’m curious how can that really exist? I mean, if I’m a rookie and I recognize these things by the time I’m a veteran, I know better or do better.

Terri (07:29): I know that is such a great point. And you would think that would be the case. However, whether the veterans had different reasons for doing the same thing. So a rookie might say, yeah, I wing it. I just didn’t have enough time to really learn or prepare to get into it. And so I just kind of rolled in hot and experienced sales professional has a tendency to wing it for a different reason, but has similar problems or consequences. They might say, I’ve been doing this for 25 years, I can do this in my sleep. And then they just kind of wing it and roll in hot and they can get beat by somebody who did prepare was really in the game and didn’t kind of rest on that 25 years of experience without really customizing. And we kind of give some really great examples of that in that first chapter on winging it.

John (08:18): And I expect also that veteran maybe has some biases and some false assumptions. Perfect.

Terri (08:24): Spot on. That’s exactly how it happens. Sometimes they’ll say, you know what? I went in prepared to deliver based on my previous experience with this client. I had no idea that they really wanted to go in a different direction. And so because of that bias, they might have just kind of winged it. They felt like they knew what they needed to say. So excellent point.

John (08:43): So we have a lot of potential mediums today for making presentations, right? Used to be a telephone maybe and in somebody’s office was about it. Do different completely different strategies, tactics, techniques apply whether I’m on the phone, whether I’m in a zoom call, like something like this, whether I’m in person.

Terri (09:03): Yes. So the second phase of the study, so the first phase of the study, by the way, was done entirely in a pre pandemic environment. And it was most of the data, it touched on virtual environments, but it was predominantly in person or over the telephone. Phase two of the study was entirely based on virtual presentations. And then phase three of the study focused on in-person virtual and hybrid, where you may have one or two people in front of you, but you could have five, six as many as 25 or more people that are offsite that are also participating in that same meeting. And so each of those platforms does change the game not only the way that you present, but how you connect with the listeners and how do you keep their engagement levels up and how do you manage the time? Because the time parameters, as we all are very familiar now with the brutal hard stop, which dramatically impacts how you present your content and how you ease your way in and out, which is a huge variable that doesn’t have the same consequences when you’re in an in-person meeting. So yes, the answer is there are different situations, how you set it up, how you lay it out, how you manage that time, and then also how do you keep people engaged. So a lot of variables that depend on your platform or your modality.

John (10:24): Obviously speech and debate is a lot about training that you did, which is probably an amazing environment for somebody who really wants to get better at this. But some of us are out of high school and out of college now. So first two part question, what was the best part about that in terms of just raw training for you? And then secondly, how does somebody get that when that environment no longer exists?

Terri (10:49): Oh gosh. I was going to thought you were teeing me up for saying that is why you should read presentation ready.

John (10:55): Well, that’s a fair answer based on what I said.

Terri (10:59): So again, well, so let me answer that from two perspectives. What debate teaches you is really how to structure a persuasive message. One of the things we touched on in the beginning is that people have a tendency to be overly informative versus persuasive, and they’ve really not been taught how to structure a persuasive message. Over 55% of the participants in our research study said that they had little to know presentation skills training over the course of their career. So what that means, John, is that most people are doing the best they can with what they know. So the first part of your question is, does it make a difference or how does debate and presentation skills training impact your long-term career as a leader, as a sales professional or anybody who’s in business development, it has a significant impact. We know from the research that your public speaking and presentation skills are an immediate demonstration of professional competency within a company or an organization.

(11:58): And yet we know that it’s also a class that most people don’t want to take. But we know that most people don’t want to work on this skillset. And when you are put in a situation where your presentation matters, it can cause a great deal of anxiety. People equate it to fear, to kind of piggyback that. The confusion sometimes around the words public speaking is that people think it means you’re speaking to a large group. The size of the audience isn’t important. The most significant presentations typically take place one-on-one or small group. Does that mean that your delivery skills are less significant? Heck no, they’re equally important. But we kind of equate this kind of group notion or group theory about public speaking. And so I just like to call it presenting and try to get a little bit of the fear out of it and then strategically help people to craft their message in a persuasive way. And by using speech and debate strategy in a business or selling environment, we hit one of the biggest issues, which is brevity. Because debate teaches you about presenting in soundbite sound bites. How do you get to your point in a shorter period of time with evidence and storytelling to build your case?

John (13:14): I suspect also because I’ve been doing this for a lot of years and I’ve never really gotten other than surveys at the end, or did they hire me again, I haven’t really gotten direct feedback about what I could do better. And I mean, that’s a huge element of speech and debate, isn’t it? That somebody is immediately going to tell you, you need to do this better or this didn’t work, or you lose.

Terri (13:36): Oh, absolutely. And one of the things you earn, you learn early on in speech tournaments is that it’s a pretty level playing field. When you roll into a tournament, there’s no matching uniforms. Everybody’s given a number. You roll into a meeting or kind of your heats, your rounds if you will, and six or seven participants give their talk, and then the judge will assess that. And at the end of three preliminary rounds, the individual with the best scores advances to semi-finals or finals. And I didn’t always win. I wished I did, but I didn’t. And so you’re really left. You can look at the feedback on your judging cards if they were kind enough to tell you why you didn’t win, but most people don’t tell you why you didn’t win. And then I would go home and I would course correct and I would kind of tweak the things I felt like I could do.

(14:25): And the takeaway here, as you know, is really so important, but really very simple. You don’t go back to the next tournament with the speech that didn’t win. And the same thing applies in businesses and in sales. We shouldn’t go back out into the field with the sales presentation that didn’t get the deal, the win or the opportunity. And that’s really what presentation ready is designed to do to help lay out for the reader what the most common mistakes are very quickly so that you can do your own self-assessment, make those changes, and then go out back out into the field with a presentation that wins and works.

John (15:02): Given that a lot of people haven’t had the training that you talked about, is there a methodology for identifying here are my weak spots that I need to work on? Because I mean, sometimes it’s content, but sometimes it’s just body language. I mean, there’s so many elements. So how do I find my weak spot?

Terri (15:19): Yes, perfect. So there are three areas that you would want to look at in assessing your presentation. So first you want to look at pace, how you build your message, what is your persuasive offering? Did you have structure, evidence, logic? And then the second element is looking at one’s creativity, the stories, the anecdotes, the humor, the drama that you use in order to bring it to life, how do you place visual aids? All of that timing, all of those elements are critical under creativity. And then the third piece that we look at are the issues under delivery. And that includes, of course, your eye contact, your body language, the way that you speak, and that could include any verbal missteps, which might be saying or are pillar words being a close talker, all those things that relate to the actual execution or performance of your presentation. And what we know from the data and from the observations of listeners who participated in this study is that, well, I gave you the three mistakes that are very common that people self-identify at the beginning of our conversation. The number one mistake that other people identify is really none of those three things. So the number one mistake, I’m sure you’re going to ask me well, is I’ll let you do it. Go ahead.

John (16:47): I was actually going to ask you with a book title that says 12 most common Mistakes, which one’s your favorite? That’s sort of the same thing, right? Yes.

Terri (16:56): The number one biggest mistake that most listeners notice or that salespeople notice because we ask salespeople, okay, look, you’ve looked at all these things, who better to judge salespeople than other salespeople? So what’s the number one thing that you notice? And it probably is close to my favorite. I have two favorites. But the number one mistake that people notice in others is that they’re boring. Boring. And so it’s really hard to get around and get through to anything else if the talk is perceived as boring by the listener. And when we ask people, okay, did it feel like it was boring when you were reading the room? Did you feel like it was boring? And they’ll say, yeah, I did kind of feel like it was a little bit boring. Or when I watched the playback of my own presentation, I felt like it was boring.

(17:41): And then we’ll say, well, if you felt like it was boring, how come you kept going? And they’ll say, well, Terry, I have to get through the material. And my question is, what’s the point of getting through the material if nobody’s really listening to what you’re saying? So that would be the number one identified and the one that I think is the most glaring, but the one that I love helping people build and work on is actually mistaken number two, which is being overly informative versus persuasive. Because if you can structure a clear, concise, and compelling case, once you understand the process of the difference between an informative talk and a persuasive talk that is empowering. I know that there’s a lot of conversation about you’ve got to have storytelling and that’s important, but how many of you have ever been to a party or listened to someone and they’re telling a story and you’re like, where are you going with this? So let’s land the plane. So your story has to pair with a compelling argument in order to make your case. And so there’s balance of all three. So case creativity and delivery, all of those are important. It’s hard to say which one is the one that’s going to stand out the most because it’s the one that cost you the opportunity. That’s the one that’s the most important. Right.

John (18:58): So my last question today, a lot of people see a great, somebody they see as a great presenter or a great public speaker, they get paid lots of money to get up there on stage, and they just think, man, they’re just really good at that. I think people underestimate how much rehearsal the true pros put into that. What role does rehearsal play in the presentation sales presentation role that you’re defining in the book?

Terri (19:24): I love that you asked that question. So when I’m coaching someone and I ask them to at least block certain content pieces, block a paragraph, really write it out, think about how you want to say it, and then rehearse it and take it to memory. Sometimes I’ll get pushback. Well, people say, I don’t want to do a memorized thing. It’s canned. And I’ll say, look, if you don’t work on your languaging, if you don’t practice the words you want to say and the way that you want to say it in the most beautiful way, it’s very hard to hit the time parameters. And again, you can always riff a little bit later, but my illustration is I ask people to think about Meryl Streep. Meryl Streep will take a script for a performance in a movie or a play, and she’ll take that narrative and she’ll commit it to memory.

(20:11): And then she practices and practices until it’s so beautiful that when you see her deliver that line in a movie, you think, oh my gosh, that just flowed so beautifully off the top of her head. But it wasn’t that it was because of her commitment to the level. And so when your memorized material sounds canned or stiff, it’s because you didn’t take it far enough into the preparation. And my favorite line, and we can close with this, is that Polish comes from practice, but charisma comes from certainty. It’s owning the material in a very different way. And when you pair your case and your creativity with a charismatic delivery, whether you’re a one-on-one small group or large group, that’s when you’re presentation ready.

John (20:59): Awesome. Well, Tara, I appreciate you taking a few moments to join the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. Is there someplace you would invite people to connect with you and obviously find a copy of Presentation Ready?

Terri (21:09): Thank you. Yeah. Well, the book is available internationally, of course, on all platforms, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, through any of your audible. Now, it’ll be available on, gosh, I guess next week. Next week on Audible. If you prefer an audio book recording, or you can always visit my That’s T-E-R-I-S-J-O-D-I And if you’re interested in getting the research study results, you can download complimentary copies of both phase one, phase two, and now phase three as well, of all three of the summary reports of the State of Sales presentations research study.

John (21:50): Awesome. Well, again, I appreciate you taking a moment, and hopefully we’ll run into you one of these days out there on the road.

Build Success from a Struggling Agency with a Multimillion-Dollar Pivot

Build Success from a Struggling Agency with a Multimillion-Dollar Pivot written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

The Duct Tape Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch

In this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I interviewed Chris Martinez, a dynamic entrepreneur who transformed his struggling startup into a thriving multimillion-dollar agency. Chris Martinez is the CEO and founder of, a business he grew from scratch into a multimillion-dollar success, earning accolades such as the Stevie Award for Minority-Owned Business of the Year and a Silver Medal for Most Innovative Company Under 100 Employees.

He oversees operations in the U.S. and Mexico and hosts the popular podcast Operation Agency Freedom, which focuses on marketing and entrepreneurship. His remarkable journey highlights the power of strategic pivots and the importance of embracing change to achieve business success.

Key Takeaways

Chris Martinez’s journey underscores the importance of strategic pivots, understanding customer needs, leveraging technology, building a strong team, and continuous learning. By pivoting to a specialized niche, he aligned his services with client demands, enhancing efficiency and scalability through technology.

“We see agencies that are really good at lead generation, for example, they can make that phone ring, but if they’re not good at managing the relationship with the customer, they’re going to leave.” According to him; a dedicated team and positive culture were pivotal, alongside staying adaptable and informed in a technologically driven world.

Questions I ask Chris Martinez:

[00:58] Tell us about your journey before Dude agency?

[03:43] Why the Pivot, why do businesses pivot?

[06:57] How much of your business was serving agencies back in, in the outsourcing model?

[07:19] Was the pivot a sudden shift or a gradual one?

[09:21] How does a message to pivot transition as a value proposition?

[10:51] What opportunities have you seen in recent years that create a need for for the services you offer?

[17:01] What are the biggest bottlenecks that you’re solving?

[19:00] What’s the average retention on an agency?

[20:28] How does your process work, do you begin with an audit?

[23:15] Tell us about the event you have coming up




More About Chris Martinez:



Like this show? Click on over and give us a review on iTunes, please!

Connect with John Jantsch on LinkedIn


John (00:08): Hello and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch. My guest today is Chris Martinez. He’s the CEO and founder of Dude Agency io, a business he grew from scratch into a multimillion dollar success earning accolades such as the Stevie Award for minority owned business of the year, and the Silver Medal for most innovative company under 100 employees. He’s also author of, it’s Not Just a Website, the Small Business Owners Blueprint for Taking Your Business Online, and we’re going to talk a little bit about his unique and varied entrepreneurial journey. How’s that? Hey, Chris, welcome back to the show.

Chris (00:46): Hey, thanks so much for having me on. It’s been way too long since we last talked, but I’m glad that we can connect again. So

John (00:52): Maybe in your case, because somewhat we’re going to talk about is a pretty significant pivot for your business. Let’s talk a little bit about before Dude Agency journey and then we’ll get into, dude.

Chris (01:04): Yeah, so well, let’s go back to 2007. So that’s the year that my dad passed away at Pancreatic Cancer, and that kind of gave me the inspiration to start my very first business, which was a soccer magazine, which failed miserably. I made every possible mistake that you could make, and then after that I had to pick up the pieces of my life again, and I got into building websites, so I taught myself how to build websites. Eventually that turned into learning about traffic. Then I got a job in digital marketing. Then I started my first agency in 2012, and basically we were building websites for the worst possible niche, in my opinion, solopreneurs. So we were building these websites for solopreneurs and basically helping them to build an online presence. And we got to around a couple hundred clients on retainer, and along the way I had built a team in Mexico.

(01:58): So one of the unique things that we were doing on the operation side is I was living in San Diego and I went across the border. I set up a Mexican corporation, which is very difficult to do, and I was able to kind of tap into this hidden talent pool of designers and developers down in Mexico. Now when I did that was 2005. It was unheard of for people to go down into Mexico. It was very difficult to send money. It was hard to recruit people because things like Indeed or LinkedIn recruiting, that wasn’t really a thing nine years ago. So we had this little unique way of being able to find talent that helped me to grow my own agency. Fast forward to 2007, I’m like, I wonder if I can help other marketing agencies get access to this hidden talent pool. And that’s when dudes started. And so that basically takes us up until around, well, we won all those Stevie Awards, we were doing millions and millions of dollars in revenue. Things are going really good, and that basically takes us up to about last year when things start to change.

John (03:00): So it’s funny how many businesses you did outsourcing to fix your own need and turned it into a business. I mean, I can’t tell you how many entrepreneurs have come on the show and that was their journey, a really common story. So you’ve made a pretty significant pivot in dude. In fact, you’re not doing the outsourcing model anymore. So I mean, obviously begs the question,

Chris (03:22): Why did we do this? Yeah, no, it’s a great question and I’m glad you asked it because I’ve always been an open book. So what happened after the pandemic is actually the pandemic was very good for us business wise because everybody was like, I need to get my stuff online. Agencies started to blow up and get really busy, and so they reached out to us for the outsourcing support. And of course we had this unique talent pool in Mexico and we had the Mexican corporation so that we could recruit them, pay them benefits. We had first we had a big giant office in Tijuana, but then we expanded and started hiring people all over Mexico. So we’ve hired hundreds and hundreds of employees, but we had over a hundred employees at any given time. And so then we fast forward to around let’s say 2023, and we start to recognize what the world is changing, and one of the things was our unique value proposition or the thing that we had that nobody else had of being able to have this business in Mexico.

(04:26): Well, it wasn’t that special anymore. There’s services out there that people can use to actually much more easily set up a company if they want to in another country, in Mexico or anywhere in the world, it’s very easy to now send money to Latin American countries, which even in 2019, PayPal was not even a thing in Mexico. It was super hard to send people money. And so that kind of special sauce that we had in Mexico was starting to discipline, and that’s just the nature of entrepreneurship. Things are going to change. It’s not guaranteed that our special sauce isn’t is going to be relevant a year from now. So we started to see that writing on the wall. We also started to see that the needs of our clients were shifting. They didn’t really want to have that third party in the middle. A lot of them wanted to have somebody that could work for them directly.

(05:22): And then the problems that we were solving for our clients as well started to shift. So they started to ask us things like, well, you guys are really efficient with your SOPs. How do you do that? Can you show me how to be more profitable in my company? I want to do an exit in a couple of years. Do you have any expertise on that? I want to become a better leader. They started asking us all these questions. Naturally we were like, well, yeah, we can show you what we did, not even thinking that it was a business potential. If anything, it was like a retention strategy. So we started to help the clients with it, and then eventually the clouds went away and we were like, okay, cool. The outsourcing is not going to be a viable business model for the future because of technology and all the other things that are going on.

(06:07): Oh, on top of that, the Mexican government that they have in place was starting to raise taxes and making it very difficult to actually turn a profit in Mexico with the outsourcing business. So we saw the writing on the wall and we’re like, okay, well, but there’s this other side of the business where we can not only have an impact on the agencies and helping them to fulfill projects, but now we can help them to transform their business altogether. And so now companies come to us and they have these problems with fulfillment issues of course, but also SOPs, profitability, leadership, HR issues, and they see that their agency can become a $5 million agency, a $10 million agency, but they don’t exactly know how to connect those dots, and that’s where we come in and we help ’em solve that problem. Doing the management consulting.

John (06:57): How much of your business was serving agencies back in the outsourcing model?

Chris (07:01): It was an add-on essentially. It was something that we’d added on to our clients. Now, not everybody took advantage of it. I would say maybe 30 to 40% of our clients took advantage of the,

John (07:13): No, I guess I was asking how much of your book of business was with agencies? Was that a huge part,

Chris (07:19): Your clients? Oh, we only worked. Yeah, we’ve only worked with marketing agencies since the beginning. That was something that we also figured out very early on is we had to pick a niche.

John (07:27): Yeah, yeah. Okay. So how does somebody go? I mean, that’s a pretty radical shift. I know that like you said, you started dabbling in it in some ways because of people were asking you for it. But was there a day where you said, well, we’re not doing this anymore. Sorry, now we’re doing this.

Chris (07:44): So this is the benefit of having your financials and having a really thought out roadmap of how you want to get to the end goal is last year, so one of our products which we called the pod product, we looked at the numbers and we were losing like $17,000 a month and there’s no way to fix that problem because if we raise prices on that, we basically price ourselves out and the clients are like, well, I can just go hire my own people and I don’t have to use this model. So that was a very easy decision to kill off that product because otherwise we’re going to go broke. We can’t continue to lose $17,000 a month for very long. Then we recognized that was kind of like the turning point where we recognize we have to separate ourselves from this part of the business. And so actually last month we decided that we were going to accelerate our timeframe of just basically killing off all the outsourcing and we’re shifting all of those outsourcing team members directly to work with our agencies. So they get to keep their jobs, the agencies get their team member, everybody wins. We were planning on doing that in January of 2025, but we decided, you know what? We got to do it now. So we just did it in March and that’s the split. So now we’re a completely different business.

John (08:57): Okay. So let’s talk about some of these agencies that you’re serving. I think this is a relevant question. It might be a hard question or sound like a hard question, but I think it’s a relevant, you’re going back to probably some of the same folks you serve, right? Obvious, go back to people who already know you. Sometimes I’ve seen it in my business over the years. Sometimes to go back to an existing client say, I know you knew this is this, but now we’re this. How has that message transition, value proposition going?

Chris (09:25): This is something that I completely underestimated. We started doing the consulting, we stopped taking on outsourcing clients early last year, and I underestimated how much work it was going to take to convince people that we are now doing something different and a lot of those clients will never transition. Some of my great friends that I’ve made as clients as well, they still only saw me as the outsourcing person. So you kind of have to approach it like you’re reinventing the business from day one from your marketing, everything. It’s just the way that it is. I can’t get mad at them, it’s just they know me as something and their minds will never change. And so I just have to say, okay, well, it is what it is, and now we have to go after other clients. The good news is that our new clients that have truly embraced us on the consulting side are seeing insane results. We’re making millionaires, cash millionaires every day. So maybe one day those clients that said, Hey, I don’t want to try out for that stuff, maybe they’ll come back, but it’s okay if it doesn’t. It’s just part of life.

John (10:34): I think you’re right though. It’s like a new business. So in that regard, you got to prove yourself, right? Exactly. Just because you had some trust with somebody doing something else, it doesn’t always transfer. As I said, I’m not surprised that was kind of what you experienced because I’ve seen that over the years as well. So let’s talk a little bit about the agency world. I don’t know what window you want to use last four or five years. What’s going on if anything in the industry that’s really making or you believe at least is making the need for what you’re offering may be more relevant even?

Chris (11:09): Yeah, it’s a very interesting time. Obviously the technology right now with AI technology is putting a lot of people on edge. A lot of people are wondering, am I going to have a job? Is AI going to be able to replace myself? What I like to ask in a roundabout way, I’m going to get back to your question, is what are the things that are going to be the same in five years? Let’s talk about that. What are the things that are going to be the same in five years for customers? They’re still going to struggle with technology. They’re still going to need leads. They’re still going to need ways to generate new customers. They’re still going to need somebody to help them get through all the craziness of running a business. So if we know that those things are going to be the constant, how can we adjust our company so that we can skate to where the puck is going to quote Wayne Gretzky. So if that’s the case, the technology that’s coming or that is here already, let’s just say AI for example. There are some things that we’re not going to need people for, but there’s a lot of other things that we are going to need people leveraging that technology,

John (12:21): Maybe even more people for

Chris (12:23): Maybe. And what’s really interesting is that if you look at the history of technology, like the computer, the laptop computer was supposed to make things so much easier. How much more complicated are our lives? Because of that, we can’t get off of our phones because of technology. So I personally believe that I love Star Wars obviously to see my background, I personally believe that everybody is going to have their own version of C3 PO at their disposal, and so it will allow you to do a lot more things a lot faster, but there are definitely going to be jobs that are going to go away. So as an agency owner, to get back to your question, it’s imperative that we recognize what’s going to be true in five years and then what things we can use that are going to allow us to skate to where the puck is going. So leveraging AI for sure, you will be able to get more done a lot faster with way less people. The world is going to need more problem solvers and less button pushers. This isn’t new though. This has been going on for years. You

John (13:28): Bet.

Chris (13:30): The other thing is that our industry in digital marketing has grown up, and so where you could build a business because you were really good at technology or you’re really good at running ads, for example, you can’t just get by on that. You have to learn how to run the business too. You have to get familiar with the things like cost of goods sold and profit margins and your churn rates. You have to understand actually how to run the business. We are the days of where the industry was just kind of growing up or over we’re growing.

John (14:08): I mean, there’s a bunch of people that made a whole bunch of money just because people didn’t know how to run Facebook ads and those Facebook made it really easy. They gave us all the data. We got lazy, and what I think is actually the demand and need for strategy and orchestration of all the moving parts is really where the fulfillment piece is. I mean, just like you said, somebody just wants a website, pay somebody a couple hundred bucks and we can argue if it’s any good, but they can get it up for you. So the days when people think they can just sell tactics, I think are done

Chris (14:42): A hundred percent, a hundred percent.

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John (15:02): What you just heard was a testimonial from a recent graduate of the Duct Tape Marketing certification intensive program for fractional CMOs marketing agencies and consultants just like them. You could choose our system to move from vendor to trusted advisor, attract only ideal clients and confidently present your strategies to build monthly recurring revenue. Visit to book your free advisory call and learn more. It’s time to transform your approach. Book your call today, DTM world slash Scale.

Chris (15:40): And even what’s the Elementor for example? They have a new AI builder. I haven’t tried it yet, but those things are only going to get better. I just listened to a podcast interview of the CEO of OpenAI and chat. GT five will be coming out soon. He says, chat, GT five makes chat GT four an embarrassment for me. He said, very soon AI will be able to duplicate or do the work of an average level employee. There’s no stopping this train. It’s coming right.

John (16:12): Hundred percent, a hundred percent. But I think in some ways the push to that kind of technology, and let’s face it, roboticness almost, I think it’s going to make the people that realize the human side is still going to be such an important fact. Maybe more important moving forward.

Chris (16:30): Yes, definitely. You have to be able to take care of your people. So we see agencies that are really good, like lead generation for example. They can make that phone ring, but if they’re not good at managing the relationship with the customer’s going to leave because they’re going to say, well, John’s getting me leads, but I don’t really think he cares about me and this other person keeps telling me that they can do it better, faster and cheaper. I’m going to give him a shot. John probably won’t even recognize that I’m gone and I can always go back, but they never go back. So you got to learn how to manage the relationships.

John (17:01): So what are the biggest bottlenecks that you’re solving?

Chris (17:04): The first one is profitability. So way too many agencies come to us and they’ve mastered things that you teach the strategy piece, but what’s driving them crazy is that at the end of the month, there’s just not enough money left over for them. It’s like, man, I’ve been struggling doing this for 10 years. Why am I still only making 80, 90 grand a year and working 70, 80 hours a week? So that’s probably the number one thing, and they’ve basically just had enough. All the clients that come to us, they’re just tired of being stuck and they know that there’s a problem. They’ve tried everything out there. They’ve tried EOS, they’ve tried going to mastermind groups. They need somebody to come in and basically help them help identify the root cause of what’s going on, and then let’s figure out how to solve that problem. So that’s the first one. The other one is their churn rates are too high. If the churn rate is too high, usually that’s a problem, that there’s an issue or that’s an indicator that there’s an issue with delivery. Clients aren’t getting results, or we’re not managing those

John (18:03): Relationships or they’ve got the wrong clients or

Chris (18:05): They got the wrong clients, right? Yeah, that’s you. So we might have to look at the entire business model and the niche and those types of things. So yeah, those are the big ones. The profitability, and also I would just say thirdly is just leadership. Something that’s not really taught or at least emphasized in our industry, it’s always tech. That’s what gets clicks on the Facebook ads. That’s what draws people to the conferences is the latest SEO thing and the latest PPC thing and the latest AI thing, but actually learning how to manage people. That’s not something that’s really taught. So they come to us and they need that issue. They say, Hey, I’ve got these great people. I dunno what I’m doing, and I’m pretty sure they don’t know what they’re doing and we’re making it work, but man, it’s so difficult to get it to go in the right

John (18:52): Direction. You mentioned the idea of churn. What do you find is, especially in a retainer kind of agency business, what do you find, or I’m just curious if you have a number, what’s the average retention on an agency?

Chris (19:04): So your goal as a marketing agency should be 3% churn per month. Anything over 3% means you have room for improvement. We have agencies where their churn rates typically in the one to 2%, but that’s because they know how to manage the clients and make sure that they’re getting the client’s results and managing those relationships. Every agency is a little bit different, but if you analyze the reasons why your clients cancel, it typically comes down to about three, maybe four or five common things. A lot of it has to do with expectations. So if your onboarding isn’t as thorough, your clients or the sales team, maybe they promised the sales team promised them 80 leads a month, and you’re like, well, we can only do 20, so we got to fix those little problems. So managing things like that helps a ton, but there’s a financial case. Why you also want to keep that churn underneath 3% is basically the difference between 3% and 4% churn is massive in terms of lifetime customer value.

John (20:10): Well, and let’s talk about, you’ve got to build capacity to a certain level, so all of a sudden you’re losing clients. It tears into your profitability because you’re still paying the capacity for the capacity. Absolutely,

Chris (20:21): Absolutely.

John (20:22): Let’s give us a flavor of, just to wrap it up today, if somebody’s like, I want to hear what Chris is doing out there, how does your process work? Is there an audit evaluation? We do.

Chris (20:31): What do you do? I learned this from you actually. So the first thing that we do is kind like a strategy session. So you book a call with us, we’ll jump on for 20 minutes, ask you a handful of questions, and basically identify if it’s something that we can help you with, if we can help you. Then the next step is what we call a business analysis, and that’s where we jump on two live calls. The first one is where we do a review of your org charts, or if you don’t have an org chart, we build it out for you. We review all the KPIs for the different leadership team seats and just talk about the overall infrastructure of the company and help you identify if there’s any gaps. The second piece of it is we jump on another call prior to that call, you’re going to send us 12 months of your p and ls.

(21:14): So these are the facts, these are the numbers. So we’re going to go through the numbers and we’re going to create what’s called a proforma. Proforma is essentially a three year financial plan. It’s going to list out all your budgets, sales targets, churn rate goals, all that stuff, and we’re going to show you, hey, if you continue on your current trajectory, this is where you’re going to end up in 20 24, 20 25, 20 26. And then if you make these little changes, this is where you’re then going to end up at 20 24, 20 25, and 2026, and we pair that with your goals too. So if you say, Hey, I’m at a million dollars in revenue now I want to be at 2 million next year, we’ll make sure that you see exactly what you need to do to hit that target, and then that’s basically it. You can take that roadmap and implement it on your own or we can talk about how we can help you with that.

John (22:02): So is there a perfect size or maybe a minimum size even business that really this makes sense for? I mean, I know you make a case for saying anybody who’s trying to grow anything it makes sense for, but is there a point at which you think this is something that really somebody needs to explore?

Chris (22:17): Yeah. Prior to launching this year, we had a minimum of $500,000 a year in revenue. We’ve created some new products, so we can go as low as around $200,000 a year in revenue. There are some things that you absolutely have to have in place. So you have to have employees. You have to have employees, and you have to have current clients. We do not work with startups. They can absolutely ing digest our content, and I’ll jump on a call with you if you want to, just to give you some advice. I love helping people, but what we teach, you have to have the ball rolling sense. You have to have people, and you have to have

John (22:55): Customers.

Chris (22:56): Yeah, awesome. The ones who were really able to help the most, though, they’re in that seven 50 to $3 million a year range. They are already have got really good momentum. They probably got some leadership team members in the seats. Yeah,

John (23:08): They’re starting to create new problems.

Chris (23:11): Those ones, we kick butt for those ones. It’s really fun.

John (23:15): Chris, you have an event coming up. You want to share some info on that,

Chris (23:18): Let you Oh yeah, absolutely. Thanks so much. So we have our next live event coming up in San Diego. It’s going to be August 15th to the 17th. It’s called Agency Freedom Live. You can go to Freedom Live. So in the past we’ve done like four of these agency Freedom Lives focused on three different things, and we try and cram everything into those three days. So it’s talking about people and processes and profitability and training stuff. So we’re in the classroom all day long. It’s a lot. It’s super, super valuable. But this time we’re going to do it a little bit differently. So we’re going to focus the three days just on getting the right people in your agency. This is one of the things that people that agencies really struggle with. You have to have great people in your company to help you grow.

(24:05): You can’t just do it all on your own, and we’re naturally not really trained or we don’t really know what we’re doing. So we’re going to be focusing the three days on hiring, training, scaling up your people, leadership, three days, all in that, plus a ton of networking. We got a lot of networking stuff. Even when we’re in the classroom though, we’re not going to be really sitting there lecture style. We’re breaking people out into groups. They’re going to be working on projects together, learning together, presenting. It’s going to be so much fun. I’ve been to a lot of conferences. I don’t think there’s ever been a conference like this before for agencies. So that’s going to be happening August 15th through the 17th. If you get VIP, you get the 14th as well.

John (24:45): Is there a website that you’d send people to learn about

Chris (24:47): That? Yeah, agency freedom Awesome.

John (24:50): Awesome. All right. Well, Chris, I appreciate you taking a moment to stop by the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast and hopefully we’ll run into you one of these days out there on the road.

Gain Price Confidence: How to Stop Undercutting and Start Profiting

Gain Price Confidence: How to Stop Undercutting and Start Profiting written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

The Duct Tape Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch

In this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I interviewed Caroline Crewe, an expert on pricing strategies for businesses. Crewe’s extensive background includes earning an MBA, completing pricing courses at MIT, and nearly a decade of hands-on experience in the field. Her journey into pricing expertise began with her own business challenges, leading her to understand that pricing is a crucial lever for boosting revenue. In this episode, we uncover the common pricing mistakes businesses make and how to develop confidence in your pricing to stop undercutting competitors and start profiting.

Key Takeaways

With years of experience in pricing strategy, Caroline Crewe shares her insights into overcoming common pricing obstacles. She emphasizes the importance of not blindly copying competitors’ prices, as this can lead to underpricing and lost revenue. Crewe points out that many businesses fall into the trap of a one-size-fits-all pricing approach, which fails to capture the varying willingness to pay and perceived value among different customers.

Crewe highlights the significant role mindset plays in pricing decisions. Many business owners lack confidence in their pricing, fearing they will lose clients if they charge more. By understanding the true value they provide and effectively communicating this to customers, businesses can set prices that reflect their worth and attract the right clients.

One of the critical strategies discussed is moving away from cost-plus pricing, which focuses on covering costs plus a desired profit margin. Crewe argues that this approach limits profitability and does not align with customer perceptions of value. Instead, she advocates for value-based pricing, which considers the benefits and outcomes the customer receives.

Additionally, Crewe addresses the challenge of perceived risk in pricing. By offering tiered pricing packages and incorporating elements like guarantees, businesses can provide options that cater to different customer needs and budgets while reducing perceived risk. This approach not only enhances customer satisfaction but also maximizes revenue potential.

By implementing these strategies, businesses can gain the confidence to set prices that reflect their true value, avoid the pitfalls of undercutting, and achieve greater profitability.


Questions I ask Carolyn Crewe :

[01:02] What are some of the biggest challenges, obstacles, businesses typically face when it comes to pricing?

[02:16] How much of this boils down to your mindset?

[03:40] Are there differences in selling services as opposed to the traditional product-based model?

[05:50] What is the the approach to pricing professional services, particularly?

[09:12] Explain the universal law that states ‘the less somebody pays you, the more demanding they are’

[10:55] Talk a little bit about that kind of signal that you’re sending with the price you set

[12:51] How much is Pricing a function of Marketing?

[15:23] Where do things like guarantees fit into the pricing matrix?

[16:36] Would you agree that value-based-pricing is harder to deliver?

[18:30] How do you effectively mitigate brand damage and increase the value of your services when you increase your price?

[22:22] Is there someplace you might invite people to connect with you or find out more about your work?




More About Carolyn Crewe:



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Connect with John Jantsch on LinkedIn


John (00:08): Hello and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch. My guest today is Carolyn Crewe. Early on in her entrepreneurial career, she made some pricing mistakes and quickly realized that there was nowhere to go for pricing for help. She didn’t think about it then, but that was the catalyst for her pricing education. She knew that pricing was the thing she could control to boost revenue, so she took what she already knew and from her MBA and living a business experience, red Books pricing, did pricing courses at places like MIT all to fix her own pricing problems. And nearly 10 years later, we’re going to talk about it on the Doug Dave Marketing podcast. So as you guest, we’re going to talk about pricing. So Caroline, welcome to the show.

Carolyn (00:55): Thank you so much for having me. I’m really excited to be here.

John (00:58): So let’s start big picture. What are some of the biggest challenges, obstacles, businesses typically face just in this topic?

Carolyn (01:07): Yeah, for sure. I mean, there’s a whole list, but the ones, which is not the new information for you, the ones that I would say that I see over and over again, copying competitors, just blindly copying competitors, actively choosing to undercut competitors. Those are some good ones. And I think it’s a shame because you don’t know that the competitor is actually profitable, so their business could not be doing well and you are pegging your whole financial future on that. So I see that off all the time. And the other thing that I would say I see is one size fits all in terms of I’m going to offer you one quote, this is it. You like it or you lump it, which is also to your detriment because not everybody has the same willingness to pay and not everybody has the same amount of perceived value of what you can bring to the table. So giving people some options is a really great way to capture more revenue.

John (02:12): So let’s get down to the dirty little secret about this. I mean, how much of this is mindset was like, I fear that I can’t get anymore, or who knows if somebody will call me tomorrow if I don’t get this work? I mean, how big a piece of that is

Carolyn (02:27): Massive in my experience. I joke, but I sell price confidence because I’m giving people and it’s because it’s what they need. My side little mission rant here is that no one teaches founders how to price their stuff. And I lived the pain of that. So now that’s why I do this is because you should know how to price your stuff. It shouldn’t be a black box. So mindset is a huge part of it. And I think it always down to you’re designing offers that customers want and you understand the value of them. When you have those two pieces of the equation, you have the confidence to back up your price because you know what it’s worth, how to price it in a way that’s fair to you as a business owner who’s taking on all the risk, all the stress, and you’re still giving customers fair value in exchange. So mindset is a huge part of it.

John (03:29): Alright, so let’s break this up. I mean, there are businesses that sell stuff as we’ve been calling it, and then there are businesses that sell services, which is air as I usually call it. So are there different, the traditional product based pricing used to be, well, here’s what our costs are, here’s what this is, and then we want to make this much profit. Here’s the price. Is that an outdated model today?

Carolyn (03:53): I that’s cost plus pricing, which I cannot stand If you want to be profitable, that is the absolute opposite thing you should be doing because your customers do not care what your costs are. Doesn’t even register in their brains that you may be even have a cost. Customers care about what’s in it for them. The other thing is that I have yet to come across a founder in the CPG space that actually knows their cost,

John (04:23): Right? Right. There’s so much cost that gets hidden,

Carolyn (04:27): It gets hidden or forgotten about, or they didn’t approach the calculation correctly, so they don’t actually know what they’re making. But the one thing that I can guarantee you is that your costs will go up. So you will be in this never ending battle of having to raise your prices and upset customers. And it’s a shame because then you’re capping your revenue potential and your potential for profitability because customers care about the value that they get. They don’t care about how much it costs you to make it or deliver it. So in the CPG space, cost plus is a thing that I see all the time. But again, it goes back to this kind of hypothesis that nobody teaches you how to price your stuff. So it’s easy.

John (05:14): Oh, exactly. Exactly.

Carolyn (05:15): It’s easy. That’s why people do it. But it will definitely come back to bite you in the butt when you start looking at your bank account. Okay,

John (05:21): Let’s switch to service-based businesses because again, it’s hard for somebody to say, yeah, I’m going to take this little thing and stick it in the corner, so I’m going to pay for that. It is all perceived value or perceived return. I work with a lot of marketing consultants, and so the perceived value comes with, here’s where my business is going to go if we make it to X. So how do you go about pricing that? Because again, we’re not selling a widget, we’re not even selling time necessarily. What is the approach to pricing? Professional services particularly?

Carolyn (05:54): Yes. No matter who I work with, for me, the foundational piece on which every pricing choice is built is the jobs to be done framework. I’m sure you have come across this. So your customer, today’s reality sucks, right? The boat your customer is in is not good. It’s not fun. They are stuck. They want to be somewhere else, and you have the amazing opportunity to swoop in and show them that you understand what it’s like to be stuck and to get them unstuck, to get them to the place where they want to go. So that to me forms the foundation because if you understand what it is they’re struggling with, how they are stuck, you can design offers, service packages that are specifically catering to that level of stuck. So that’s the first step. So you can take their job to be done, and I like to break it down.

(06:50): I call them baby jobs. So what is the first job on this journey? If you actually think about it and they’re in a rowboat trying to get to shore and they can’t figure out how to get there, what is the first thing they’re going to come up against as it relates to that job to be done? That is going to represent the first service package. It’s going to be the cheapest, it’s going to be the most low risk offer for them. But some people have deeper pockets. Some people don’t want the basics, they want more. So you have a tier that relates to a bigger job. It could be the second job they’re going to come up against, or it could be a cumulative thing where they got a taste and now they want to add something else. And then you have a third job, which is typically the whole kind of kit and caboodle for people who have deep pockets who just want to make it go away.

John (07:43): More money than times.

Carolyn (07:45): Exactly right. But you have a series of offers that are absolutely aligned with the thing that they’re struggling with, how they are stuck, and each one helps them get a little bit unstuck depending on how much they perceive the value to be and what their budget is. So that’s kind of the second step. And then we value what is their time worth? If you save them however many hours, 10 hours a month, what could they be doing with that time? What is the opportunity cost? Those sorts of things, or what is the outcome you’re going to help them get if they’re trying to increase revenue or increase profitability, whatever it is, and you can get them there, what does that look like and what’s an appropriate share of that value that you’re creating?

John (08:33): Yeah, I think one thing, obviously very important thing is you have to be able to measure that and you have to have the posture to say, I know that if you spend $10 with me, you’re getting a thousand dollars.

Carolyn (08:42): Absolutely. But there are ways to easily calculate that. It’s not perfect, but you can often, so one client I worked with recently, they thought they were bringing one package was bringing a thousand dollars in value a month to the table, and when we did the math, it ended up being $17,000 a month. Wow. So it’s the potential to leave money on the table by not understanding how to do this and how to connect these dots and huge.

John (09:12): So explain to me the universal law that the less somebody pays you, the more demanding they are.

Carolyn (09:18): Oh, absolutely. Oh my goodness. Okay. How much time do we have? I’m a big fan of qualifying customers because I want to make sure I’m going to knock it out of the park for you. And if it’s not a good fit, we should figure that out as quickly as possible.

John (09:36): I think I’ve seen over the years, until you experience this, maybe it just sounds theoretical, but $3,000 month clients will be three times more work than one $10,000 month.

Carolyn (09:49): A hundred percent,

John (09:51): Hundred percent. A lot of times I just tell people, look, double your prices. Hey, you lose a couple clients, great. But now the ones you’re working with are actually going to be the right ones. The other thing I’ve also found, particularly because what we’re really trying to solve is people underpricing, right? Yes.

Carolyn (10:07): Oh, absolutely.

John (10:08): Is that there’s actually more competition down there, isn’t it?

Carolyn (10:11): Yes. Yes. There is so much more competition because everybody is afraid. Yeah, exactly. Everybody is to tie their prices to the value that they’re bringing to the table. So again, it’s easy to be cheap. So it comes back to that question of mindset and confidence that you brought up before. If you understand the value of what you’re offering and you’re going to get them results, it’s so much easier to put a price tag that reflects that value on what you’re offering.

John (10:40): And I wonder sometimes too, and again, every industry will be different, but what signal you’re pricing is sending in terms of the perceived value. I mean, it’s like hugely, it can’t be that good or it must be awesome. I mean, obviously you have to fulfill, but talk a little bit about that kind of signal that you’re sending.

Carolyn (10:59): Absolutely. So this ties in with positioning. So if you are telling me, and I have founders that I work with all the time, who they will tell me they’ll swear that theirs is the best, mine is the best option out. There’s the best on the market. And then when we look at their pricing versus any of the competitors or sometimes even the alternatives, they are cheaper. And I’m like, what’s up with that? And they’re like, well, we want to get clients. We want to steal market share from our competitors. And I’m like, yes, but nobody thinks you’re the best if you’re the cheapest. So this absolutely, customers also don’t read. So they look at pricing, as you said, as a signal of how good it is. So higher prices are absolutely often associated with higher value, higher trust, and that’s what the luxury industry is Banking on.

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John (12:51): So how much is this a function of marketing? What I mean by that is that person that does actually have the best but can’t seem to be able to charge what they think it’s worth because they don’t have the demand.

Carolyn (13:03): So two things come to mind. One is they’re not effectively communicating the value that they’re bringing to the table. The other thing that comes to mind is maybe they haven’t niched down enough. So I see a lot of people that are in a very competitive space and they don’t know what their secret sauce is. They don’t know how they’re bringing something different, unique and special to the table that’s different from competitors that customers actually care about. And because they don’t, again, have that confidence, they don’t know how to position themselves and things kind of go off the rails.

John (13:43): So how do you fix the C word in pricing commodity. I hear that all the time, right? You hear that all the time. I mean, there’s so many industries like, oh no, we’re just the commodity. People buy the cheapest.

Carolyn (13:55): I would not be in that business if I was going to be super harsh about it, but I think it always boils down to you are going to have an easier time if you pick a niche talking about marketing, if you are the go-to agency for plumbers, your messaging is so much easier because you only have to say that one thing that you know is keeping plumbers up at night and you will own that market and you’re going to be able to demand higher prices because you are going to be the guy to go to. So when people get into the commodity game, I feel like differentiation is going to be the thing that’s going to make it or break it for you. And I think that also ties in with your positioning. And if you can figure out some way to be unique and special in the eyes of customers, that’s really for your competitors to replicate, that’s where you get that competitive advantage and that’s where you’re going to be able to justify a higher price point. People aren’t going to want the cheapest, they’re going to want the best, but you have to be able to communicate that stuff in terms that they understand and it hits them hard.

John (15:12): So a lot of times pricing or price sensitivity is really a risk equation. Like somebody’s saying, I don’t know if I can afford that because I don’t know if I’ll get the result. I mean, it’s kind of a risk. So where do things like that are related to pricing? Like guarantees fit into the pricing matrix?

Carolyn (15:31): So a couple things come to mind. So one is a guarantee of sorts goes in a higher end service package. That’s an opportunity. Huge perceived value, huge perceived value if you can tie some sort of certainty, some sort of insurance. So maybe there’s an opportunity there to have a higher priced tier that gives customers some peace of mind. The other thing that comes to mind is depends on what you’re selling. And it depends on your customers, but maybe there’s an opportunity to have a hybrid pricing model where there’s some sort of flat fee, but a percentage of wins to take some of the risk away. You still get paid, you still covering your costs to exist, but if they feel the customer feels like they’re gambling on you, if you are willing to put some skin in the game too, that could be a way to use pricing as a differentiator and to make you more money.

John (16:33): And I was going to go right there next, especially in the consulting world, value-based pricing has been around for a while. Some people argue that it’s harder to deliver because maybe the are things out of your control. In a business, we do marketing for a business, but then their sales folks screw up every lead we send them kind of thing. But talk a little more about that idea of if there are elements we can control, maybe we fix the foundation, say in phase one, and then phase two becomes, okay, now for every one of these elements, revenue growth is attached to them or some measurements attached to them, and we get more when you make more. I mean, is that a model that you think is an easy one to roll out? Is that a model that is, has perceived greater value for the buyer?

Carolyn (17:20): I think if your buyer has deep pockets, or maybe not even deep pockets, but has money but are risk averse, maybe it’s because they don’t know you yet, the trust isn’t there. Maybe it’s because they simply don’t have the money to invest in it, but they’re willing to take a chance. I think that kind of hybrid model could work for some business owners, but you have to be confident in your ability to deliver. But pricing is one of those things that gives you, it’s one of the biggest levers you can pull as a business owner to increase profitability. This has been proven over and over again. So how do you create value and how do you communicate that value? But it always comes back to what is the customer’s job to be done? And if you know that there’s a big risk that they feel like they’re taking, there are ways to find this middle ground to test out the waters, to build that trust, to show that you can get results. That I think would help a lot of business owners make the sale, but without compromising their profitability.

John (18:30): And I think there’s also a great, the value or potential value of that value-based pricing is that it also sends a signal that we don’t win unless we all win. Correct. Right. So that has value. I’m sure you’ve worked with people over the years that you’re like, your pricing model’s all screwed up. It needs to be here. And they’re like, okay, great, we’re going to do it. But now they’re going back to their clients saying, guess what? We’re raising your prices. How do you effectively mitigate the risk or the brand damage or whatever you want to call it? Nobody wants the prices. They’re like, no, you’re not going to give us anymore. Why are we going to pay you more? Even though there are realities for why you should raise money?

Carolyn (19:08): I think the challenge for every business owner is how can they continue to add value? So that is kind of the fundamental thing when we talk about value-based pricing. So again, of course everybody’s costs go up, but if we think about the idea that your customers, they maybe know there’s a cost, but they don’t actually care what your costs are. They care about what is in it for me.

John (19:35): That’s right.

Carolyn (19:36): So how can you add perceived value in a way that is going to resonate with them? I think that is the linchpin in the operation that is going to help you avoid those risks. Yeah.

John (19:51): So are you suggesting that let’s say you have a monthly recurring type of product or service and you’re now going back saying, Hey, it’s going up 25%. Do I need to add or at least make them feel that I’ve added 25% more value? A

Carolyn (20:06): Thousand percent. So you absolutely have to do something to add value, but the thing is, if you understand how they are stuck and how you are getting them unstuck, the way you add perceive value doesn’t have to cost you a lot, right? So because I did a technology pricing technology workshop this morning, it’s top of mind. If people have a phone number to call when things are broken, you might have double. That is magic, right? But that’s it. But people are willing to pay. It doesn’t cost the business tons of money to have a phone number to have someone answer the phone, but the perceived value for the clients can be absolutely massive. So I think you absolutely have to add value in some way. The other thing that I typically do is if there’s going to be a big price increase that we test it out with new people coming to the business, sure, asking for a quote, then I would suggest a rollout policy where you may be grandfather and existing clients for a certain period, but they are made aware that pricing changes are going to happen. It’s going to be this in six months. For now, we’re keeping it steady to ensure there isn’t a mutiny, but this is coming down the pipeline. This is why. And it gives them time to process because nobody likes change, and it gives them information to help understand we’ve added value in this way, our costs have gone up. We’re doing this. Your life is going to be better because we’ve added this extra capacity or whatever it is.

John (21:48): I was just going to say, because the kneejerk reaction is like, oh, my price is going up. But you give ’em that time, they’re like, they still may be mad, but in six months when they haven’t done anything about it, now it’s their fault.

Carolyn (22:00): But that’s the thing is the people who get mad enough to leave probably shouldn’t have been your customer to begin with. So it’s a filtering system and then that leaves you with more capacity to take on new customers who absolutely are willing to pay that new price. Yeah.

John (22:18): Awesome. Well, Caroline, I appreciate you stopping by taking a few moments to stop by the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. Is there some place you might invite people to connect with you or find out more about your work?

Carolyn (22:27): For sure. LinkedIn is a lovely place. I spend a lot of time there these days, so you can search for me there. The other place where if you want to learn more, you can find me is my website, which is called Best Kind Consulting. I’m from Newfoundland originally, and in Newfoundland there’s an expression where if something is the best kind, like this restaurant’s the best kind, John. He’s the best kind of guy. You got to get to know him. So best kind consulting, you can find me there.

John (22:54): Awesome. And that’s ca instead

Carolyn (22:56): Of that’s Yes. I am in Canada. The exotic Canadian. Yes.

John (23:01): Awesome. Well, again, I appreciate you stopping by and hopefully we’ll run into you one of these days out there on the road.

7 Keys to Unlock a Flood of High-Quality Referrals

7 Keys to Unlock a Flood of High-Quality Referrals written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Referrals are the holy grail of marketing. There’s simply no better way to attract your ideal clients, shorten your sales process, command premium fees, and dramatically increase customer lifetime value. And yet, while over 80% of people say they’d be thrilled to refer businesses they love, less than 30% actually do. That referral gap represents a huge, untapped opportunity for growth.

After working with thousands of business owners, I’ve discovered the 7 most powerful keys to bridging that gap and turning your company into a referral engine. Let’s dive in!

Present a referral offer to every client.

 Most folks need to stop passively waiting and hoping for referrals. Instead, you need to plant the seed by making a clear, compelling offer to every client. Your offer could be a direct “if you do X, I’ll give you Y”, an implied reward for spreading the word, or a tangible gift certificate they can share with others.

The keys are to get creative with your rewards (think beyond cash to experiential offers that highlight your brand), make it a win-win for the client and their referral, and communicate the program consistently. Building in a referral ask during your sales process is also extremely effective.

Action Steps:

  • Brainstorm a unique, brand-aligned referral offer
  • Create a page on your website explaining your referral program
  • Write email templates your clients can use to refer you
  • Craft a referral request to include in your sales process
  • Develop a special onboarding sequence for referred clients

Referrals are the holy grail of marketing. There’s simply no better way to attract your ideal clients, shorten your sales process, command premium fees, and dramatically increase customer lifetime value. And yet, while over 80% of people say they’d be thrilled to refer businesses they love, less than 30% actually do. That referral gap represents a huge, untapped opportunity for growth.

Create a referral champion program. 

We all have those “raving fans” – the 20% of clients who are already singing our praises to anyone who will listen. Imagine how many more referrals they’d send if you poured gasoline on that fire! Identify your top referrers and create a thoughtful champion program to nurture those relationships.

Some specific ideas: Ask them for referrals to a target list each quarter, equip them with valuable shareable content, host exclusive events to appreciate them and have them appreciate each other. Shower love on your champions and they’ll reciprocate tenfold.

Action Steps:

  • Identify your top 20% of referral sources
  • Have a specific referral request for them each quarter
  • Produce valuable content pieces they can share
  • Host a champion-only appreciation event or experience
  • Publicly recognize and thank your champions often

Offer client benefit calls to their trusted advisors. 

For my B2B folks, this one’s pure gold. Your clients likely work with an ecosystem of other professionals – think consultants, financial advisors, accountants, attorneys, etc. With your client’s blessing, set up a call or meeting to educate these advisors on the marketing strategy you’ve developed.

Walk them through the “why” behind your approach, and demonstrate the massive value you’re adding. When these professionals see you making their client more successful, the referrals to their other clients will flow naturally. It positions you as a peer and partner while tapping into a huge new referral base.

Action Steps:

  • Map out the other advisors your best clients work with
  • Get your client’s permission to do an advisor strategy session
  • Schedule a call/meeting to walk through their marketing plan
  • Demonstrate how you’re solving their challenges and driving growth
  • Suggest ways to keep the advisor in the loop on progress/results

Enlist your entire team

Referrals don’t just come from clients – your employees and contractors are an often-overlooked goldmine. They already know your business inside and out. With a little training on how to communicate your unique value, they can send a steady stream of ideal prospects your way.

Create an internal referral incentive program, arming your team with tools like shareable gift certificates, email templates, and pricing/offer guides. Publicly celebrate and reward them for bringing in new business and talent. Make referral generation a fun team sport!

Action Steps:

  • Train your team on your referral program and unique value prop
  • Provide them with referral tools (emails, offers, content, etc.)
  • Set up tracking and rewards for employee referrals
  • Celebrate team members who bring in referrals
  • Encourage referrals for new hires, not just clients

Build a strategic partner network.

Even your most loyal clients likely can’t send more than a handful of referrals. But the right strategic partners – who also serve your ideal clients – could potentially introduce you to hundreds of perfect prospects. It’s time to get serious about developing your dream partner team.

Identify a list of 8-10 “best-in-class” providers for the other services your audience needs. Reach out to them with a “Perfect Introduction” letter, offering to share how they can best help your clients. As the relationship grows, devise ways to add value to each other’s tribes through co-marketing, exclusive offers, guest content, etc.

Play the long game of building deep trust and adding real value. The referrals will follow.

Action Steps:

  • Identify 8-10 potential strategic partners
  • Send them a “Perfect Introduction” letter to open the door
  • Suggest ways to feature them to your audience (and vice versa)
  • Co-create a valuable lead magnet, webinar, event, offer
  • Become a customer and refer them when possible

Launch your own networking hub

Hosting your own networking group is the ultimate way to stay top-of-mind with your community and stimulate referrals. You could start a monthly breakfast club or virtual roundtable centered on a business growth topic. Invite a mix of your clients, partners and prospects.

The key is to make it a valuable, power-packed event. Bring in expert speakers (which will also build your strategic partner bench!), facilitate discussions, and help members connect with each other too. You’ll be shocked how the referrals crank up when you become a hub of business growth in your niche.

Action Steps:

  • Pick a format and cadence for your networking group
  • Choose a compelling theme tied to your expertise
  • Invite a curated mix of clients, partners and prospects
  • Book expert speakers and facilitators (including yourself!)
  • Facilitate member introductions and connections
  • Follow up with referral offers for new attendees

Teach referral marketing

Want to tap into the law of reciprocity? For my B2B folks, try teaching your clients how to generate more referrals themselves! You could do 1-on-1 coaching, group workshops, or even create a course (my book “The Referral Engine” could be your textbook).

As you help them get more of what they want most (clients!), they’ll naturally want to return the favor. Showing that you’re invested in their growth is the ultimate referral fuel.

Action Steps:

  • Offer to teach referral gen as a value-add service
  • Host a referral workshop for clients and partners
  • Recommend the best referral gen books and resources
  • Do a 30-day referral challenge with your top clients
  • Make referral-giving a focus of your regular client reviews

Whichever 1-2 strategies resonate most for your business, the key is to make referral generation a consistent, intentional part of your marketing plan. Get radically clear on your unique value, sing your champions’ praises, cultivate at least 8 referral partnerships, and focus every day on delivering tangible results.

Soon you’ll have a well-oiled referral engine that delivers a steady stream of ideal clients, shorter sales cycles, and skyrocketing lifetime value. So pick your favorite idea from this list and make it happen – your future favorite clients are waiting to be wowed!

Key Takeaway: 

Referrals are a powerful yet underutilized marketing tool that can significantly boost client acquisition, sales processes, and customer lifetime value. By making referral generation a consistent and intentional part of your marketing plan, businesses can create a steady stream of high-quality referrals and achieve substantial growth.


Earn More in Your Retail Business with Re-Commerce

Earn More in Your Retail Business with Re-Commerce written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

The Duct Tape Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch

In this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I interviewed Patton Gleason, the founder and CEO of Relay Goods. With over 20 years of experience in the outdoor and run specialty industry, Gleason has deep expertise in physical retail, e-commerce, logistics, and operations. Relay Goods offers industry-leading solutions that help brands and retailers maximize the value of excess surplus and returned inventory. Through his insights and experience, Gleason reveals the transformative potential of re-commerce for retail businesses, turning what was once considered a loss into a significant revenue stream, while effectively preventing waste.

Key Takeaways

Patton Gleason, CEO of Relay Goods, emphasizes the role of the concept that is: recommerce in modern retail, highlighting how businesses can effectively manage and profit from returned inventory. The process entails implementing smart inventory solutions and leveraging a specialized marketplace for high-quality returns. Retailers can now transform potential losses into substantial gains, as Gleason’s insights underscore the importance of adopting a zero-waste supply chain approach, therefore minimizing waste and maximizing profitability. This episode provides valuable strategies for retailers and partners in defending their revenue and enhancing sustainability.


Questions I ask Patton Gleason:

[00:54] What is re-commerce?

[04:09] How did your experience with the minimalistic shoe movement shape where you are now?

[07:42] How does the process of re-commerce actually work?

[12:25] As an an Re-commerce business, do retailers ever feel like competitors?

[14:20] How much of re-marketing is ‘sustainability’ at play?

[15:27] Does re-marketing have the potential to become a core part of retail?

[19:17] Is there someplace you want to invite people to check out what you’re doing and connect with you?



More About Patton Gleason:


Like this show? Click on over and give us a review on iTunes, please!

Connect with John Jantsch on LinkedIn


This episode of The Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by ActiveCampaign

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John (00:08): Hello, and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantch. My guest today is Patton Gleason. He’s been in the outdoor and run specialty industry for over 20 years with experience in physical retail, e-commerce, logistics and operations. He’s the founder of Relay Goods and serves as CEO. Relay is an industry leading solution that helps brands and retailers maximize the value of excess surplus and returned inventory. He is an active advisor and investor to businesses in the commerce space. So Patton, welcome to the show,

Patton (00:48): John. It is awesome to be here.

John (00:50): So let’s start with defining commerce as a term. I think, I guess that’s a whole sub industry, isn’t it?

Patton (00:56): It is an emerging and growing market that is depending on who you ask, on what day, it really depends on what it means. And commerce is essentially taking, once an item had been sold and it had gone off market, if it had gone back to a distribution center or a retailer or a brand, what was to happen to it next? And so the earliest versions were eBay and scratch and debt sales. And with the emergence of e-commerce in the last 10 years, things that were coming back to distribution centers in the form of returns ended up becoming a bigger and bigger percentage of inventory that warehouses were holding onto. And the trouble was if it wasn’t in perfect condition, it was really hard to sell. And so we had been in that space for a long time. We’ve worked and consulted with a number of brands on whether it’s D two C or on Amazon, and returned ended up being this giant loss inside of a profit and loss sheet. And so we’ve spent the last nearly decade trying to find the very best solution to turn those loss ultimately into a win.

John (02:02): And I bet your returns are way up from what they used to be. You used to go in a store, try ’em on. Yeah, they fit. Walk around a little bit. Yeah. Okay, I’ll take ’em. Where now it’s like, those look good, I’ll order. And it’s like, oh, they don’t fit, or These Hogans are really funny feeling. So people send them back. Now

Patton (02:22): When the showroom moved from a retail location into people’s living room, everything changed. And physical retail, we only exist as a business because people are so bad at fitting themselves and I’m like, oh, I want to try a new model. And occasionally you get to where you find that right model, and every year you’re going to get the same version of the same thing and the same size. And then anytime you vary outside of that, then all bets are off. Or a color might look different online. And Amazon really set the standard of 10 years ago it wasn’t super easy to return. Things they knew was a pain point for customers and they made returns and returning things. A huge important part of their business. And the prevalence of Amazon return centers inside of every Whole Foods now is really putting that consumer expectations have certainly changed.

John (03:15): Yeah, I bet you the employees at Whole Foods are really pissed about that. I know. I’ve taken stuff in there. It’s like, here it is. See you later

Patton (03:23): Returns. They’re uncomfortable for absolutely everybody. It’s the consumer experience. It is one of the most painful parts. Not knowing if something is actually going to work is actually one of the biggest factors that leads to people not even making a purchase. And most distribution centers are really designed for egress. So inventory comes in from a manufacturer just on a labor hour basis. You can get so much new stuff that’s in pallets out the door, but when you’re getting onesie, twosies that come back the labor hours

John (03:53): And not in their original packaging, by the way, that

Patton (03:56): Is exactly right. That’s exactly right.

John (03:59): So I think I mentioned in your bio, but you started especially retail running shoe store and kind of fell into the, remember when the minimalistic movement was all the rage. So how did that experience kind of shape where you’re now,

Patton (04:17): Oh man, well, we might need a little bit more time because you could not have convinced me otherwise. I thought we were in the middle of this giant industry shift, and what I really thought was that minimalist shoe movement was going to be to the running industry as Whole Foods was to grocery. I thought it was just a matter of time until people start working on technique and this and that, and I could not have been more wrong. It was a catastrophic failure. And the things that the learning lessons from there was we tried to make the in-store experience, that really personal high touch experience. We really tried to digitize it and we did thank you notes and we had this video recommendation system. And the value proposition for when people were shopping online was just different than if I left my home, I went to a parking space, I went into a physical location.

(05:07): The needs and the consumer experience were just different. And so once the writing was on the wall, that was a business that was not going to win at all. We were like, well, we’ll just start. What do we need to do to try to move through as much of this inventory as possible? And that strategy just to keep us afloat, ended up amazingly ended up working really well. And so we had other buddies in the industry, and as we were lamenting on all the challenges, they’d hear about what we were doing. They’re like, oh, I’ve got a bunch of stuff in my back room. Could you try to help me? And so one store led to another store, led to another store, and then I think we’re at 400 retail locations across the country where their excess and surplus inventory we had a solution to.

(05:51): And then that led into our getting a little bit better at e-Commerce and at management. And so for some of our bigger clients, when we were able to help them get really big sales wins, the unintended consequence was a ton of returns we never could have expected. And so we would contact the original manufacturing like, Hey, we’ve got pallets of this stuff, what he wants to do with it. They could say, you can do whatever you want. Just don’t send it here. Because they had the same challenges. And what we thought was, man, wouldn’t it be great if there was a market for not a hundred percent new stuff, but for 99% new because you were getting stuck. The only thing that was wrong with it, it didn’t have the original packaging. There was some minor cosmetic defect, but these are utilitarian items by nature. And we knew that with returns being so big, if we could find a solution that could offset those losses, that was potentially a really big win for everybody.

John (06:51): Yeah, I imagine the manufacturers probably, they probably have to actually make deals with especially big retailers like Walmart to say, we’ll take anything back. Doesn’t matter why. If you don’t sell at the end of the season, we promise to take it back. I mean, they end up with a lot of that stuff back from storage, don’t they?

Patton (07:07): That’s exactly right. And so part of our value proposition was as the business started to mature a little bit, was if Relay didn’t exist, what are the alternatives? So you could donate it. There is unfortunately a lot of stuff that ends up incinerators and landfills just because easy or it might end up with a liquidator where it’s literally pennies on the dollar via a container load, and there had to be a better solution to that.

John (07:37): So I guess, tell me how, I mean, I get conceptually what you’re doing, but how does the process actually work? Do you resell it or you get paid to do whatever you can with it? Or how does the process actually work?

Patton (07:50): You bet. So we like to think of ourself as the first line of revenue defense. And in a profit and loss sheet, one of the biggest sources of losses is going to be your returns. But those returns are in all kinds of conditions. And so what we do is we take those and then we identify each model based on its condition and its age. We assign a unique identifier. And then once we’ve filtered through all that, the very best and newest stuff, we actually can send a lot of that back to traditional retail. It just had gotten off track. And so rather than writing it off as a loss or donating it or whatever that it is, these are things that retailers crave. They’re high because if it was sold online once, they were really great items. But that kind of attention to detail, there are some that they’ve had enough use that there’s no more utility left them, and they need to be recycled.

(08:41): That’s a really small percentage. There’s enough of ’em, about 20 to 25% of our returns. They’re really good, but they’re not appropriate for resale. But they make terrific shoes to be donated. And we have a network of vetted nonprofits across the country, but then we run into kind of the meat of it. About half of those returns, they’re 99% new. They’re not used, and they’re not new. And so we thought, well, what if we built an entirely new category in a marketplace that was specific for this because consumers were already doing this on eBay, on Poshmark from unauthorized sellers on Amazon. But once it got to those places, the brands lost all control of the brand and the consumer experience. And so we thought, well, what if there was a marketplace that was specifically for these things that worked directly for the brands? And particularly as running shoes have gotten more expensive over the years, you’re starting to price out a number of people who would actually be really great customers. And so we can make premium high selling super high quality items much more accessible to a wider range of people without beating the drum of, well, this is all liquidation and it’s deals. And what we found was that consumers were not willing to make concessions on quality. They wanted the highest quality items, but they would make a concession on condition if it came with free shipping and all the benefits of buying new and went through a best in class quality assurance process.

John (10:16): It’s my pleasure to welcome a new sponsor to the podcast. Our friends at ActiveCampaign. ActiveCampaign helps small teams power big businesses with a must have platform for intelligent marketing automation. We’ve been using ActiveCampaign for years here at Duct Tape Marketing to power our subscription forms, email newsletters and sales funnel drip campaigns. ActiveCampaign is that rare platform that’s affordable, easy to use, and capable of handling even the most complex marketing automation needs. And they make it easy to switch. They provide every new customer with one-on-one personal training and free migrations from your current marketing automation or email marketing provider. You can try ActiveCampaign for free for 14 days and there’s no credit card required. Just visit active tape. That’s right. Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. Listeners who sign up via that link will also receive 15% off an annual plan. That’s tape. Now, this offer is limited to new active campaign customers only. So what are you waiting for? Fuel your growth, boost revenue, and save precious time by upgrading to active campaign today.

Speaker 3 (11:29): Duct Tape Marketing really helped me to shave at least six to eight months off of work that I was dreading after leaving the corporate world. Even before I participated in the agency intensive training, I had already landed in my first customer. This is in essence more than paid for my investment in Duct Tape Marketing. What

John (11:47): You just heard was a testimonial from a recent graduate of the Duct Tape Marketing certification intensive program for fractional CMOs marketing agencies and consultants just like them. You could choose our system to move from vendor to trusted advisor, attract only ideal clients, and confidently present your strategies to build monthly recurring revenue. Visit DTM world slash scale to book your free advisory call and learn more. It’s time to transform your approach. Book your call today, DTM World slash Scale. Do retailers ever feel like, wait a minute, now you’re competing with me.

Patton (12:28): Oh, what a great question. So that was our initial concern. And so with our retail and our brand partners, we are doing really constant contact list monitoring. And what we found was in our most recent one, there was less than one 10th of 1% of consumer overlap. And the consumers that did overlap had not been in a physical retail location in over two years. And so those really high touch in-person retail store experiences over time, consumers tend to graduate from that experience where they don’t need as much handholding. And they go, okay, every time I go in, I’ve gotten the same model in the same size. They will take that knowledge and experience and they’ll leverage that to go find the best value. What we were doing as an industry was we were losing all of those sales to unauthorized sellers on eBay and on Poshmark.

(13:22): And so to have now a native solution ends up being a really big benefit to everybody. And so for the retailers that have a lot of that older inventory or excess or surplus things, you’ve got to do something with it because if it’s not selling your top line, revenue is paying for it. And you can do a sidewalk sale and you can do expos. But if I learned anything from Duct Tape Marketing is stay hyper-focused on who your best customers are. And if you’re advertising that we’ve got this, we have professional experts, we’re going to fit you. You can try on a lot of things. And then a week later, you’re having a blowout sidewalk sale, you’re diluting your marketing message, and you’re attracting two kinds of customers. And so actually by offloading some of this hard to sell inventory to us, our retail partners are actually able to stay more focused on their best customers.

John (14:16): So obviously there’s a practical financial aspect to this. For the retailer, how much of this is a sustainability play?

Patton (14:23): So the sustainability piece, that was a big driver for me personally, because we saw until we came in, we just did the back of the napkin math of how much of this stuff was getting wasted. And sustainability is a really tricky term because what we are doing is we’re preventing a lot of waste. Sustainable would be, Hey, I’ve got this shoe, and then when it reaches its end of life, I can send it to a facility. They recycle the materials and they can do it again. That’s in the future. Where we could play a role is we could say, all right, in this supply chain there’s a lot of unnecessary waste. There’s the waste of advertising dollars, there’s the waste of product. And so before we work on sustainability, the lowest hanging fruit is what would it take to have a zero waste supply chain? And so to date, we’ve processed, it’s getting close to 700,000 units. We’ve never thrown away so much as a shoelace.

John (15:20): Yeah. So I mean, you’re clearly keeping stuff out of landfills. That’s the easy answer, I suppose, in some cases. Yeah. So is there a bigger market trend here? I mean, you’ve obviously tackled one little piece of it. Is this something that retail in general is really going to become a core part of retail?

Patton (15:39): Yes. So what I believe is brick and mortar retail is I believe that’s always going to stay strong. And what we see is brick and mortar retail typically has really consistent year over year growth, but there’s not quite the really big fluctuations. E-commerce is going to play a bigger role. And as it does, when you look at your profit and loss sheet, you’ve just got to say, all right, where are we having preventable losses and what unique strategies can we do? And I think a lot of that will be category and industry specific. What we do know is as there is less discretionary income, people just become a lot more mindful and intentional on where they spend their money. And if you can have a solution that can connect with a more price sensitive consumer without having to bring in cheaper product, and you can use these things that had gotten off track and you can find a really unique way, and this ends up being a great solution. The other thing that we found for retailers is we’ve had a number of them where we’ve done these co-branded revenue shares, and they’ll take their dormant email lists and people who they suspect had graduated from the experience, and we’ll do a co-branded email of, Hey, we hadn’t seen you in a while. If you’re looking for absolutely the best value in shoes on your favorite models, we’ve partnered with Relay, and this actually ends up being a really great win back opportunity for those customers that might not need that really high touch experience anymore.

John (17:04): So in a lot of ways then, does Relay operate like a traditional e-commerce store? You just get your product from a different place.

Patton (17:11): We operate as a traditional e-commerce seller. Our challenge is we never know what’s coming in. So it’s not like, oh, well, I’m going to place an order for 10,000 units and I go into a B2B system. We get what we get. We have on a weekly basis, we have no idea what’s coming in. And so we have, initially that was a disadvantage, but as time has gone on, we’ve built in really great systems to identify the bestselling and most desirable, not only with industry data, but then also with our own e-commerce data. And that all kind of goes into that unique identifying system of this item based on its age condition, where can we help a brand or retailer find the highest value and best use out of it? And occasionally you get models that they were manufactured great marketing plans, but it just did not land with the customer for whatever reason. And those things, they may actually not have a lot of resale value, but they’ll make a phenomenal shoe to be donated.

John (18:10): So it sounds like you’ve kind of got the shoe market figured out. So in true entrepreneurial spirit, what’s next?

Patton (18:18): So this model, so athletic footwear is a giant category. And again, we took one more page out of the Duct Tape playbook of we’ve got really good consumer data and a wonderful group of customers, but your number of running shoe purchases is fairly limited. That’s somewhere between two to three per year. And that was what we found with our customers. But what we got feedback on was if we could do this with running shoes, if we could do it with other categories, they would love that. And so while somebody in their closet might have two to three pairs of running shoes, they also might have a pair of biking shoes and a pair of golf shoes, and a pair of pickleball shoes and a pair of climbing shoes. And so we’ve slowly started expanding into some other categories where we think we can play not only a bigger role in people’s that more value-driven consumer in their running shoe purchase, but in their overall athletic footwear.

John (19:13): Yeah. Yeah. Awesome. Well, Patton, it was awesome having you stop by the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. Is there someplace you, I want to invite people to check out what you’re doing and find out, maybe connect with you?

Patton (19:23): Yeah, so for people looking to get absolutely the best deals on 99% brand new premium, your favorite running shoes, I can guarantee you’ll find your favorite And then for people who are interested in this space or are actively looking for other ways to defend their revenue from some of the biggest losses, you can reach out to me on LinkedIn and just search Pat and Gleason and I’ll pop right up.

John (19:49): Awesome. Well, again, it was great catching up with you, and hopefully we will run into you one of these days out there on the road.

How to Future Proof With Sustainable Business Practices

How to Future Proof With Sustainable Business Practices written by Tosin Jerugba read more at Duct Tape Marketing

The Duct Tape Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch

In this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I interviewed Maisie Ganzler, the go-to expert on how companies can make positive change in supply chains and other entrenched systems. Ganzler has been featured in leading media outlets, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, NPR, Fast Company, and Bloomberg. She is also the author of “You Can’t Market Manure at Lunchtime and Other Lessons from the Food Industry for Creating a More Sustainable Company.” Throughout this episode, we discuss the complexities of implementing sustainable business practices and how companies can authentically integrate these practices into their operations and marketing strategies.

Key Takeaways

With over 30 years of experience at Bon Appetit Management Company as Chief Strategy and Brand Officer, Maisie Ganzler shares her insights into the practicalities of sustainability. She emphasizes the importance of defining sustainability specific to one’s industry, advocating for a tailored approach that resonates with both internal stakeholders and customers. Through real-world examples, such as the challenges faced by industrial hog operations, Ganzler highlights the significance of firsthand experiences in driving genuine change.

Ganzler also discusses the critical role of authenticity and personal passion in sustainability efforts. She warns against superficial commitments driven solely by market trends, underscoring the need for sincere and strategic initiatives that align with a company’s core values and operational capabilities. Additionally, Ganzler introduces the concept of the Circle of Responsibility Matrix, a tool used to track and manage sustainability commitments, ensuring continuous progress and adaptation in the face of changing circumstances.

By integrating these insights, businesses can navigate the intersection of profitability and sustainability, making meaningful changes that benefit the environment, society, and their bottom line.


Questions I ask Maisie Ganzler:

[00:53] How would you describe a more sustainable company?

[02:43] Tell us the case study in the book about the profit-environment complexities involving a pig farm

[05:37] What role does a person’s personal passion play in the success of a sustainability plan?

[07:19] How does a business partner with recognized climate & sustainability organizations as opposed to being enemies?

[10:02] How exactly can you build that bridge between profit and sustainability, especially with companies where share price is very crucial?

[11:25] What is a Circle of Responsibility Matrix?

[13:04] Tell us about the ‘Better Chicken Commitment’ cautionary tale you write about in the book?

[15:23] What makes students and younger generations a great source of feedback when it comes to sustainability?

[17:29] What is the importance of having sustainability as part of the organizational mission as opposed to a one off action?

[18:30] Is there some place that you would invite people to find about your work, connect with you and pick up a copy of profit first for creatives?


More About Maisie Ganzler:


Like this show? Click on over and give us a review on iTunes, please!

Connect with John Jantsch on LinkedIn


John (00:08): Hello and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Chance. My guest today is Maisie Gansler. She is the go-to expert on how companies can make positive change in supply chains and other entrenched systems. She’s been interviewed by leading media outlets, including the New York Times, wall Street Journal, NPR, fast Company Bloomberg, and now she can include Duct Tape Marketing to that list. And she’s also the author of You Can’t Make, you Can’t Market Manure at lunchtime and other lessons from the food industry for creating a more sustainable company. So Maisie, welcome to the show.

Maise (00:47): Thank you so much. I’m excited to be here.

John (00:49): So I’m going to start with a really big question. It might take the whole episode here, but how would you describe a more sustainable company? Maybe even use an example if you could give us a sense of what all that entails.

Maise (01:03): Well, I think you have to first start with defining sustainability, and I would do that specific to the industry that you’re in. There are a couple broad definitions of sustainability. One that came out of the UN that’s often quoted and one that came out of the Iroquois Confederacy papers. And they are looking at the impacts of what you do on future generations essentially. And I think that is a lovely sentiment, but it’s hard to write a purchasing policy against or to rally your staff to make change with. So at Appetit Management Company where I was the chief strategy and brand officer for 30 years, we actually crowdsourced a definition of sustainability from all of our employees and we wound up with a lot of words, but we talked about the importance of the air, water, soil, but also the people who grow and harvest our food and the animals that are involved in the production of food as well. We wound up with a very specific definition of sustainability that we could then work towards. So the first step I would suggest is that a, no matter what your industry is, you do that kind of Mad Libs version of figuring out what are the words that means sustainable in your particular industry. Then you can set off to becoming more sustainable.

John (02:37): So you pretty much set the table for this is a complex process, right? And you actually have a story early on in the book about the complexities that involves a pig farm. You want to tell that story.

Maise (02:50): So the title of the book comes from a real story of my boss, Fidel Bacio, who was the founder and CEO of Bon Appetit Management Company, had this personally transformative experience of visiting a industrial hog operation. And I want to put a pin on that idea of that he went to this operation and he had this transformational experience. Anybody who wants to get more sustainable, I suggest that you yourself go and you bring your executive team to whatever your supply chain looks like or where the impacts of your product are felt firsthand. So Fidel had done that and he had met with families that live next to this pig farm and found that they had higher incidences of asthma, lung cancer and other respiratory diseases because they were breathing in particulates that come from the manure the pigs produced. So there’s literally thousands of pigs in one place doing what any animal does, and that is collected in manure, lagoons, what they’re called, and then to get rid of it, it’s sprayed onto fields, the manure is, and so it’s up in the air and people can also breathe it in.

(04:14): So Fidel was really fired up about, this was an awful practice along with many other bad practices of industrial hog production, including something called gestation crates, which is where pregnant sows are kept for their entire pregnancy in a pen that is essentially the same size they are. So they can’t turn around, they can’t walk, they can really just stand, sit and eat. So Fidel’s screaming about this, he’s a loud passionate man and I’m thinking, this is great. We’re going to make real change. We’re going to take on the industrial animal production industry. But then I was also thinking, how are going to talk about this to customers? You can’t market manure at lunchtime. And it gets at the crux of what the book is about, of that duality of wanting to make real change and become honestly more sustainable, but also get market credit for it because we are for-profit businesses, so how do we make decisions that impact the lives of people or animals or the health of the planet, but also that we can drive the bottom line with

John (05:31): And go to one of these facilities and you’ll quickly become a vegetarian as well. So on that note, what role does a person’s personal passion play in deciding which way to go? I mean, there are a lot of companies out there saying, oh, it would be good to say we’re sustainable. And then there definitely are a lot of companies out there like, no, we mean this. So is that a great place to start?

Maise (05:56): Yeah, I think there’s two questions baked in there really. One is about authenticity, and if you’ve just read a what’s hot this year list, are you seeing millennials care about sustainability and therefore you try to be more sustainable? I think people can sense that they’ve got that detector of when you’re not being authentic and genuine, and not only will you not get the benefit, it may even backfire. So I think you do have to have personal passion in order to come across as sincere. The second piece of it though is picking the issues you take on. And the obvious thing would be to take on the issues that you’re personally passionate about and I think you should, but you also have to have your business person’s hat on and think about are these issues that I can make meaningful change that will resonate with my customers? And so that manure lagoon issue, Fidel was personally passionate about it. It wasn’t a great marketing piece, so we did it, but we also took on issues alongside it that customers could maybe understand a bit more and that we were able to talk about at lunchtime. So passion projects are important, but maybe not the only thing, the only filter you should use. So

John (07:20): There are a lot of groups out there that are, or Greenpeace that are advocating for certain law changes, certain practices. A lot of times they kind of go butt head to head, right? We don’t want Peter coming down here. So how do you actually turn that around and maybe make some of those folks partners?

Maise (07:37): Well, they can become your greatest ally, not adversary, but ally. And the first thing to do is to accept their calls. Just start with the basic thing of answering the phone. And I think a lot of people are scared, oh no, Pete is calling. Oh no. Green Peace is calling. Don’t let ’em in. So first of all, open up your doors literally or proverbially, have a meeting, find out what it is they’re after. They’re probably expert in this area more than you are. So think of it as free consulting and a free education. Find out what they want and then be transparent about what your challenges are, why that’s going to be hard for you to get to. They need to understand your business in order to give better advice and to make their ask more reasonable. Now, some of these organizations reasonable is not the top of their priority list, but the more they get to know you and your company and they sense your sincerity, the more reasonable they become. And even if you can’t agree at the end, you will not probably have their anger and their ranker against you in the same way you would’ve if you just stonewalled them. And if you are able to meet their demand, they become your best PR instrument.

Speaker 3 (08:58): Duct Tape Marketing really helped me to shave at least six to eight months off of work that I was dreading after leaving the corporate world. Even before I participated in the agency intensive training, I had already landed in my first customer. This in essence, more than paid for my investment in Duct Tape Marketing.

John (09:16): What you just heard was a testimonial from a recent graduate of the Duct Tape Marketing certification intensive program for fractional CMOs marketing agencies and consultants just like them. You could choose our system to move from vendor to trusted advisor, attract only ideal clients and confidently present your strategies to build monthly recurring revenue. Visit DTM world slash scale to book your free advisory call and learn more. It’s time to transform your approach. Book your call today, DTM world slash scale. Where’s the crossroads between profit and sustainability? I’m sure some companies are like, yeah, we could do it that way, but so how do you cross that bridge, especially publicly traded companies that maybe all people care about it, or at least they believe all people care about is share price?

Maise (10:11): Well, you’ve got to not have the two divorced in order to have sustainability at the heart of your brand. And that’s what I’m talking about and what my book is about, not just about something off to the side, but really critical to how you go to market. You have to believe that’s also going to increase profitability, and the most obvious way that it’s going to be is in driving revenue that you are going to have people buy your product more often or pay more for your product because of the sustainability attributes that come along with it and then it becomes good business.

John (10:46): So it’s probably inherent upon you to, a lot of people are like, oh, we do the right thing because it’s the right thing, but then it’s sort of inherent on you to actually promote that so that the tribe that cares about that really knows.

Maise (11:01): I think so I do think that marketing should follow operations, meaning that first you should be doing the thing, doing the right thing and then market it versus putting the brochure out and then saying to the operations team, Hey, you got to make these changes now we promised it to the customers. Right,

John (11:20): Right. So at the heart of the book is something you call, where is it? Circle of Responsibility Matrix. You want to unpack that idea?

Maise (11:30): Yeah. So when I was at Bon Appetit Management Company, I developed something called the Circle of Responsibility, matrix Circle of Responsibility. It was just the brand name that we used internally for our sustainability platform. We tried using it externally, it didn’t work well, it didn’t resonate with customers, but it still worked for us internally. And we kept a red, yellow, and green list just like a stoplight green is all of the commitments that we had made publicly where we stood on them by region and what marketing materials were available for them. Yellow were the things that we were actively working on and red were the ideas that we were stuck on and we pulled that list out on a regular basis and discussed it. And it’s easy to think that you want a lot of greens and not a lot of yellows and reds, but you actually need those yellows and reds, the things that you’re actively working on and the things that you’re stuck on so that you have a constant flow of ideas and something takes longer than you imagined it was going to or something that happens often is that something that’s in the green, you’ve publicly made the commitment you’ve met, it falls out of the green supply chains change.

(12:50): There’s a huge weather event, something like, oh, I don’t know, a global pandemic happens. And all those things that you thought were rock solid and green are now yellows or even reds. So it’s a really active conversation.

John (13:04): You provide an example, maybe a cautionary tale of something called the Better Chicken Commitment. You want to talk us through that one?

Maise (13:13): Yeah. So you mentioned advocacy groups like Greenpeace or peta. Well, one such group is compassion and world farming, and they put together something called the Better Chicken Commitment. And it really is about making meaningful change in chicken production in how chickens are genetically bred. So they have stronger legs to hold up their body weight as well as how they are raised. And they started shopping around for companies to sign the better chicken commitment. Now it’s tempting when a advocacy group comes a calling as I just told you to try to placate them, but you need to also make sure you’re going to get a real leadership position from that and that you can meet the ask. So in the case of the Better Chicken Commitment are known as the BCC, the first company that jumped, had that leadership position for all of about two hours before the next company signed.

(14:11): Now we’re at a position where there’s for 200 companies that have signed, but no one has yet met the better chicken commitment. It is not clear how to meet it. Does that mean that we shouldn’t have done it? No, it doesn’t mean that it is actually the right thing to do for the chickens and when that many companies sign on, if you don’t, you’re not just not a leader, you’re really a laggard. So now there are a group, it’s called the Broiler Working Group, broiler Chickens that meet on a regular basis cross company along with compassion to all work collaboratively to figure out how to solve this B, c, C and to get chickens that are better for the chickens is who it’s better for. So a really important issue to stay involved in, but probably not a leadership opportunity at this point.

John (15:07): So if somebody’s thinking we want to do the right thing, we want to invest in the right initiatives, but we’re not really sure what’s changing, emerging things coming along, obviously listening to customers. But I took particular note if you actually highlighted particularly students as a great source for, or I guess we’re probably talking about a younger demographic in general as a great source of feedback. So I’m curious what led you to that conclusion?

Maise (15:38): Well, it’s of course important to listen to customers, but I find if you wait for your mainstream customer to ask for something, you’re probably already behind. Somebody else is working on it. And so college students tend to be more out there, less concerned with practicalities, more extreme, more wanting to be disruptive and make change. So they’re are great almost focus group of what the emerging issues are going to be. They also literally are your consumers of tomorrow, but they’re also the ones that are a little bit fringy and I think you want to be listening to the fringe.

John (16:20): So what’s the first step? Especially if somebody has really ignored this for all intent and purposes and they want to take this seriously, what’s the first step in getting started? I’m sure it’s not picking an initiative, it’s probably figuring out where it fits in the company as a whole, isn’t it?

Maise (16:39): Well, I think it’s picking the initiatives that fit within your company. So it’s first going out and listening, talking to people like college students, talk to your suppliers, look at what advocacy groups are talking about. Try to read between the lines of what your competitors are talking about and see not just what they’ve committed to, but what they might be trying to brace against, what argument they might be trying to counter and take all that information and along with your personal passion and try to distill that into a platform that makes sense, make sense in terms of you can achieve it and make sense in terms of it’s a story that you can tell and make sense in terms of it’s real and meaningful. You actually will be making change.

John (17:30): Is it enough to just say, okay, yeah, you’re right, we should use less packaging. Or does it really need to flow all the way up to the mission? It’s like, here’s how we’re going to train people. Here’s going to be our culture. I’m kind of given two extremes, but does it really have to start there?

Maise (17:45): It needs to be throughout your company, it needs to be in your compensation strategy. Is this how people are rewarded? It needs to be in your sales information. It needs to be in your supplier selection criteria. If you are incenting everybody throughout your organization to only find the lowest cost option, you are not going to get there. So you need to make sure that you are with real dollars and with soft power where people get recognized and celebrated for working towards your sustainability goals or else it’s going to be window dressing. Yeah.

John (18:26): Well, Maisie, I appreciate you taking a few moments to stop by the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. Is there someplace you would invite people to connect with you, find out more about your work, and obviously pick up a copy of You Can’t market manure at lunchtime.

Maise (18:37): It’d be great if people went to and that’s a lot of letters. M-A-I-S-I-E-G-A-N-Z-L-E-R, or they can just go to Amazon and find the book there.

John (18:55): Awesome. Well, again, I appreciate you stopping by. I’m certain this is the first time that I have said the word manure on the show. I can’t speak for all my listeners. Maybe they’ve said it about the show, but first I’m actually on the show. So again, appreciate you coming by and hopefully we’ll run into you one of these days out there on the road.

Find Ease with Remarketing: The Future of Ad Targeting

Find Ease with Remarketing: The Future of Ad Targeting written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

The Duct Tape Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch

In this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I interviewed Larry Tim, founder and CEO of Customers.AI – a first party, website visitor identification and remarketing pixel.  Also founder of WordStream – provider of Google and Facebook ad management software for tens of thousands of customers globally. Through his insights and experience, Larry reveals the future of ad targeting and the role of remarketing in the post third party data era.

Key Takeaways

Larry Tim, CEO of Customers AI, emphasizes the evolving landscape of remarketing, highlighting the importance of leveraging first-party data and adapting to changes in privacy regulations. By embracing tools like Customers AI and prioritizing transparent data practices, businesses can navigate privacy concerns while driving effective remarketing campaigns. Larry’s insights underscore the significance of staying proactive and leveraging innovative technologies like AI to connect with audiences in today’s dynamic marketing environment.


Questions I ask Larry Kim:

[00:54] Are you still involved with WordStream?

[01:28] When jumping ship did you have a business idea in mind or did you stumble on the opportunity?

[02:05] In the Ad world, what exactly is Remarketing?

[02:56] When it came to ROI, how effective was retargeting during your WordStream days?

[04:11] When it came to Remarketing what changed, especially with pixels and privacy?

[06:11] What is the level of degradation for Retargeting as we knew it?

[08:10] When big companies comes in and kill third party data, does that reduce or increase their revenue?

[11:37] Would you agree that Retargeting made marketers a little lax and lazy?

[16:12] How do you easily explain the technology of Remarketing?

[17:09] Do you see any trends or technologies that you think are going to further impact this space?

[18:33] Does integrate with any CRM?

[19:09] If somebody wanted to find out a little more, how would they explore and get started with a tool like yours?


More About Larry Kim:


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John (00:08): Hello and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantz. My guest today is Larry Tim. He is the founder and CEO of customers ai, a first party website, visitor identification and remarketing pixel. He is also the founder of WordStream, provider of Google and Facebook ad management software for tens of thousands of customers globally acquired by Gannet in 2018 for approximately $200 million. So Larry, welcome to the show. I wonder what in the world you’re doing hanging around with the Lowly Duct Tape Marketing podcast at this point.

Larry (00:47): Thanks John. It’s great to be here. It’s just awesome.

John (00:51): So I think I had you on back in the day to talk about WordStream. Are you involved in any way, shape, or form with WordStream or that’s completely out of it.

Larry (00:59): It was acquired by the companies and so not to other things.

John (01:03): Yeah. I’m curious, did you take some time and say, I’m just going to, I’ve picked up a little money here, I’ve got some ability to enjoy myself. Or did you just immediately start thinking of what’s next?

Larry (01:16): It’s still a long career ahead and digital marketing is a fascinating field, so I just jumped right into the next thing.

John (01:25): Yeah. So we’ll talk about, but is there anything in particular that you looked out and said this is the next thing to tackle, or do you feel like you just stumbled into an opportunity

Larry (01:39): When you sell a business, they ask you to not recreate the same business for obvious reasons and that’s perfect, reasonable? So I was just looking for opportunities in digital marketing, but outside of the Google use,

John (01:54): Yeah, I mentioned in the intro what customer AI is, website, visitor identification, remarketing, pixel. A lot of people, a lot of listeners know what remarketing is, but maybe we ought to start there. In the ad world, what exactly is remarketing

Larry (02:09): Incredibly effective way of doing ad targeting to people who have recently visited your website? And the reason why this works so smashingly well is just that people are two to three times more likely to engage with ads for brands that they’ve heard of and targeting it figures. It solves for that by narrowing the ad target, the people who have recently been to your website, which means that they’re in market for the products and services that you’re selling as well as they’ve heard of you. It’s the crown jewel of or has had been historically the crown jewel of ad target methods and was responsible for a lot of the growth digital ads that were driving, driving company growth.

John (02:52): So back, particularly in your word stream days, and maybe you don’t have an exact number, but how likely or how much better was if you could retarget somebody? How much more effective was that in terms of a conversion, in terms of return on ad spend, things of that nature?

Larry (03:09): It’s an order of magnitude better. The engagement rate was two to three times higher that implied substantially lower cost per click. But also that excitement, that higher engagement would carry through to purchases or apps because they’re excited to engage. And what we found was in advertising there, this concept of ad fatigue where it’s like the engagement rate, even a fatigue plus 20 impression remarketing targeted ad will still perform better than a brand new interest or demographic based targeted ad.

John (03:47): The ones I hate is when I see it 20 or 30 times after I’ve made the purchase and I’m still seeing the ads, those are the ones I hate

Larry (03:54): This opportunity. They should be segmenting into an upsell ad flow.

John (04:00): Of course. Yeah. Alright, I get the concept. I’ve visited the website and so now you’re going to show me Target or you’re going to show me ads because you know a lot about me, or at least one thing about me. I’ve visited your website. What’s changed in the world of pixels and targeting and privacy? And again, maybe that’s a big question with a lot of answers, but when it comes to remarketing, what’s changed?

Larry (04:23): It’s nearly dead that this entire phenomenon was a hundred percent reliant on third party, third party cookies. So the way that retarget would work for Facebook or Google was that you would log into Facebook or Gmail or some Google service on either your browser or on your device. And using the power of third party cookies, they could share data between one browser or tab to another and someone visited Duct Tape Marketing or customers ai. It used to be the case that if you install a Facebook or Google ad Pixel on your website, it could attempt to look for, but the Google Pixel could look for a Google third party cookie. The Facebook pixel could do the same and it would then pick up an ID if it was there. And 50% of the times this would work, I would then phone home that ID to the mothership saying, John visited customers of ai, so let’s add John’s ID into Larry’s ad manager so that you can retarget to ’em.

(05:29): So this whole thing is very tenuous right now. It started in 18, a Firefox drop, so then 2019 iOS third market opt in rather than opt out. And the Chrome is the last shoot of drop here. I dunno if you saw the news yesterday, they extended the time to end, so time six months from now or something, a year early, early 25 is what they’re saying now. But it is in the process of being sunsetted and we’re already that retargeting signal just because of all the other players in the ecosystem, excluding Chrome is still like 50, 60% of the signal been in the decline for five years now.

John (06:11): So what’s the level of degradation now of that type of tactic?

Larry (06:16): So at the heyday seven, seven, you were able to get using a pixel, it would vary based on where you lived and who your audience was, but on average they could ID somewhere around 50% of the people who were visiting your website integrated by call it 70, 80% over the last five years.

John (06:38): So what’s driving these changes? Is it just consumer privacy theoretically, or is it just legislative backlash?

Larry (06:47): The thing that people don’t realize about the Facebook and Google ad pixel, what’s this, a massive Trojan horse. The use case was limited to what we’ve described here. Just being able to ID the people who visited your website and show ’em ads, it might’ve not been such a big deal. But the other thing that Google Facebook pixels were doing was they were phoning home like every bit of user journey data for every visitor, but then uploading that to their ad systems to then power the display network capabilities of those ad platforms. So it was like they had this pixel on 10 million sites and you would visit a fishing site and then Google would ascertain that Johns must be going through a fishing trip. And then other competitors in the ecosystem, there’s 10 million advertising, would then be able to run ads using display targeting segments like interested in Phish or something. That’s exactly the mechanism of how that data was being populated. And I think that is very questionable and it wasn’t really well disclosed and it did run afoul of a lot of regulatory practices. The Google and Facebook weren’t necessarily even disclosing that to the people who were in some of the pixels. There was some concern, but that is the genesis of the demise of third party cookies.

John (08:10): So some of these bigger players, the Googles of Facebook, even Apple now jumping on killing third party data, does that put a big dent in their ad revenue as well, or does it actually increase ad revenue because targeting goes away?

Larry (08:25): So they’re putting on a bold face. They’re saying, you know what, we have this new Facebook is calling it audience plus ad targeting, and they’re saying, you don’t need data, you need r AI will figure out who your perfect customers are. Okay. And it’s mixed reviews. This is nothing new. It’s rebranding of similar audience target. Exactly. And look like audience Target was there in 2010 when niaz started, and it was always the backup kind of stepchild of ad targeting methods where if you didn’t have any signal, you would go to similar ad target, similar audience targeting and it just reversed the pecking order. They’re saying now the default is similar audience targeting, and if you happen to have data, then that’s still an option, but it’s not required now does it actually work? Sure, it can work a little bit, but apex of what they had going back in 2017, this was pretty hard.

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Speaker 3 (10:40): Duct Tape Marketing really helped me to shave at least six to eight months off of work that I was dreading after leaving the corporate world. Even before I participated in the agency intensive training, I had already landed my first customer. This in essence, more than paid for my investment in Duct Tape Marketing. What

John (10:58): You just heard was a testimonial from a recent graduate of the Duct Tape Marketing certification intensive program for fractional CMOs marketing agencies and consultants just like them. You could choose our system to move from vendor to trusted advisor, attract only ideal clients, and confidently present your strategies to build monthly recurring revenue. Visit DTM world slash scale to book your free advisory call and learn more. It’s time to transform your approach. Book your call today, DTM world slash scale. And as an advertiser, it made a lot of us lazy too, didn’t it? Because you really could get such good targeting information. A lot of people stopped worrying about first party data and even about building email lists and things of that nature. Where are we today?

Larry (11:52): Yes, that’s exactly the thing. It was like this weird phenomenon between, for about a decade between 2010 and 2018 ish, we had Google and Facebook trying to kill each other by providing the best possible data for their advertisers and the best possible tools. And I think advertisers were the beneficial of this free, it wasn’t free, but they were licensing the data to you through their ad products. But just even having that access was something that marketers ever had before. And providing very granular analytics to understand the ROI of that ad spend was quite remarkable in terms of where we’re headed at. These companies are now trillion dollar behemoths and they have monopolies and there’s just not, with the specter of regulatory concerns overhead, there’s just no upside to sticking your neck out there and trying to provide really great ad targeting in 20 or so. They’re making things more opaque. In case in point, Google Analytics, it used to have people explore data. You could understand more about the people and the demographics of the people who are visiting your website. They ripped it out. The audience managers and Facebook used to have audience insights that’s ripped out. So I’m saying Google Analytics used to be able to get very granular user journey and data. It’s been replaced with sampling and where they don’t tell you the exact numbers, they just surround to the nearest s. So does that answer your question?

John (13:19): Yeah, absolutely. So really a lot of where I’m really going with this is a lot of what you’re doing at customers AI is really trying to help people recover the ability or the capability to do remarketing. So if third party data is not the answer, what is the answer or what’s the technology now that’s allowing some recovery of this?

Larry (13:39): We need to lean into your first party data and we just got very complacent and lazy and forgot to about the importance of engaging in marketing, driving traffic to your site through top of phone campaigns. And then what we do is we have something a little bit comparable to what the Facebook and Google pixels used to do, but it’s limited to a first party context. So what we can do

John (14:01): Is, so maybe I hate to do this, but maybe explain what first party data is first,

Larry (14:06): It’s your competitive advantage. It’s your understanding of the market in terms of the people who are visiting your website, the information that they fill out on your website, the pages that they view. It’s the data in your CRMs, in your HubSpot, in your MailChimp. It’s all that information. And third party data on the other hand is ZoomInfo, where you could just buy a list of DES that was just purchase data or ads where it’s like you specify an audience and they just happen to know who’s looking to do a fishing trip this weekend. And that’s third party data. So what we’re saying is the pendulum was swamping the other direction. We cover these remarketing use cases, but in a first party content, meaning we will provide you with a ton of information about the people who are visiting your own website. So this is augmenting your first party website data with all sorts of valuable information.

(15:09): I’m sure all of your visitors will be familiar with this idea of augmenting your visitor data with whatever. Yeah, geotargeting is one of ’em big ones like city state. And we can print that to include identity as well as attributes of the people who are visiting. So email, phone number, mailing address, et cetera. And this is still your first party data. I’m not just giving you a list of ideal customers. You have to bring them into your funnel first. And then what we can do is we can in a first party way, augment the data and unlock different use cases such as email marketing, such as retargeting. So that’s in the case of retargeting. We can securely encrypt those identifiers and send them back to whichever ad platforms that you care about in a way where it’s just your data being sent to your account and it’s not populating 10 million ad accounts. So this is what we’re talking about like compliance and privacy. Compliance. Any questions?

John (16:11): So is there an easy way to explain the technology? It’s some sort of server to server connection or

Larry (16:17): Yes. Obviously we can’t be using third party cookies, then we would have the same fate as the ad scripts that are being blocked. And obviously we can’t be using browser scripting calls because that’s also what Google uses. It is a server to server call. So different recognizing that the ad platform is recognized that the scripting communication channel was likely to be a little bit more tenuous moving forward. They have all built sort of these server PIs where vendors like customers AI can now securely and reliably encrypt and send over that information so that you can still remarket like it’s now 2018 again.

John (17:03): So I always like to, especially somebody like you that’s watching what’s coming. Any trends or technologies that you think are coming that are going to further impact this space

Larry (17:14): As marketers? I think the most successful marketers are the ones that can tell the future. And easiest way to tell the future is to look at the past. And because we just go around and around before Google and Facebook, were invented and were providing these really radically amazing targeting offerings, ad targeting capabilities and analytics. The companies that were doing really well were old school big companies that had a lot of data like Walmart or ha’s entertainment or other big data companies. And they had a huge advantage over smaller retailers or vendors. And that advantage had been diminished over time because Google and Facebook were democratizing the availability of this third party data. And I think where it’s moving back is it’s where we’ve been before. It’s like the companies that are going to be amazing are the ones that have a lot of data. So you should be really taking stock of all the first party data that you’re generating, making sure that it’s fully augmented using first party pixel technology so that you can maintain all that valuable information and then act on it In terms of powering email automation campaigns, advertising campaigns, we can do mailers, they can send postcards because we have the address et first cetera.

John (18:31): Yeah, yeah. One more in the weeds question. Does customers io, am I getting that right?

Larry (18:37): Ai.

John (18:38): Ai, sorry, integrate with any CRMs or is it all you have to integrate through a Zap or something like that?

Larry (18:45): So we do have emailing capabilities and email automation capabilities within a platform. However, a lot of businesses, they have preferred CRMs or ESPs, like email service providers that they wish to work with. We have native integrations with a couple of the big ones and including kla and Lane Mail and a couple dozen high, high level one

John (19:07): And

Larry (19:08): Dozens of

John (19:08): Others. Awesome. Well if somebody wanted to find out a little more about whether or not this makes sense for them, how would they explore and get started with a tool like yours?

Larry (19:17): There’s a free trial or on our website, customers have AI and just put the pixel on your website. I believe it includes 500 leads or seven free days of utilization, whichever comes first. So if you have a high traffic website, I think that might be very interesting. You’ll see all the IES of the folks who are visiting your site and you can tell your friends that. Guys, come click on my website. I just want to see, I’ll see all these interesting names.

John (19:46): Awesome. Alright, Larry, again, appreciate you stopping by. This is an interesting evolving topic. People can find out more at customers AI and hopefully one of these days we’ll see you out there on the road.