Transcript of Finding Success and Happiness as a Company of One written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing
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John Jantsch: Everybody wants to scale up these days. Big topic, right? Well, in this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I visit with Paul Jarvis and we talked about, he has a nice book; Company of One: Why Staying Small Is the Next Big Thing for Business. Check it out.
Hello and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch, my guest today is Paul Jarvis. He teaches online courses, runs several software businesses and hosts a handful of podcasts from his home. He’s also the author of Company of One: Why Staying Small Is the Next Big Thing for Business. So Paul, welcome to the show.
Paul Jarvis: Hey, thank you very much John, I appreciate it.
John Jantsch: So your intro, I think is almost intentionally sort of small-sounding, isn’t it?
Paul Jarvis: I think a little bit, but I also think, it was funny because one of the first things my agent and book publisher asked was, “Well, what awards do you have?” Or that sort of thing. And I was like, “I don’t actually have any.” I’ve never actually tried to win an award, I don’t know what I would get an award for. So, I think some of it’s intentional, some of it’s that’s just the way that my work works.
John Jantsch: Well I guess what the point of that comment really is that, those who know you know that you’re quite accomplished in what you’ve done and I think that in some ways you’re maybe giving people hope that, “Hey, it’s okay to record a podcast from your home, you can still have success on those terms” right?
Paul Jarvis: Yeah, exactly. I’m also Canadian, so there’s a bit of a lack of hubris sometimes I think.
John Jantsch: You haven’t apologized yet, though. So, you know the big term, of course the big concept right now, is scaling. So, in some ways, people could make a case for saying you’re sort of anti-scaling.
Paul Jarvis: Yeah, that’s kind of the point, so I guess the point of the book and the point of kind of where my thinking around this idea has been is not that scaling is bad, it’s just that scaling should be thought about first. I think this actually applies to a lot of things, that we should probably think about things before we do things. For the most part, it kind of makes sense to do that. So it’s not really a book about anti-scaling, it’s more a book about considering whether it makes sense or not, because it doesn’t always make sense to scale.
John Jantsch: Yeah, and that’s a great point, because I think a lot of people just get caught up in the, “well if I start a business, that’s the goal”, right? And not necessarily “what do I want?” Is it?
Paul Jarvis: Yeah. I think a lot of times, people kind of, they start the business, and then work backwards, trying to make it work for the life that they want. And to go the opposite way, we can think about the life that we want, and then build a business that, obviously that’s profitable because that’s the point of business, but that also supports the life that we want. Like for myself, I don’t want to have to manage a team or have to work 16 hours a day to make enough money to survive. So I don’t want to build a business like that, because that doesn’t support the life that I want. And I think lifestyle business gets a bum rap, but I kinda think that every single business is a lifestyle business. Like the friends that I have that have venture-backed, Silicon Valley tech companies, they have a very specific lifestyle that their business makes them have, right? So I think every business has the possibility of being a lifestyle business, in so much that you can kind of pick what you want–
John Jantsch: You know, I sometimes think there’s a lot of confusion around the terms growth and scale, that people kind of see them as the same thing. One of the things that I’ve seen at least, is that I think scale can imply doing more with less. I think it can also imply that you’re more profitable, because you’ve developed systems of things. I think sometimes scale gets a bad rep.
Paul Jarvis: Yeah, you’re speaking my language here. I think that there’s things that are really good for scale that don’t necessarily mean growth, and I think a really good example of that is a newsletter. It takes me as much time to write an email to one person as it does to write an email to 30 thousand people. So that to me is a great example of scaling my reach for example that doesn’t require, I don’t need 30 thousand people writing one email to 30 thousand recipients. So I think scale a lot of times, if we do it properly, doesn’t have to require the growth or the expenses required for that growth.
John Jantsch: Freelancing is, I don’t know what the numbers are, but I’m sure it’s in the multi-hundreds of times percentage growth, that pretty much everybody that has a job is freelancing today, it seems like. One of the points I know that you make in the book and I know that you do this in your courses and a lot of the work you’ve done is that, you know, a lot of freelancers just think of themselves as just gig-workers or you know, “I’ve got some spare time to do this…” you know, it’s not really a company. So, how is freelancing different than a company of one?
Paul Jarvis: Yeah, I think they can be the same, but where they’re different is, and I know this just from experience of teaching thousands of freelancers, mostly in creative industries, is that they tend to work in their business so much that they don’t think about working on their business. And what I mean by that is we can get caught up in client work, and I mean if our business is doing well as a freelancer, we have a lot of client work. But if we don’t stop to think about filling the funnel a bit further down the road, then they’ll be this feast or famine thing.
If we don’t think about things like taxes or accounting, we could get into trouble at the end of the year with our governments. So, I think that there’s, and we also need to think about things like how word of mouth is working fr a business. A lot of freelancers, that’s their main source of finding new clients; it’s keeping in touch with people and keeping that network really strong. So I think that a lot of freelancers don’t treat their business like a business, and either way, it’s still a business. So, I think thinking about how to make freelancing into a business, and keep thinking about it like a business is always really, really important, because like I said, it is a business, whether you think it is or not.
John Jantsch: So is there a critical mindset shift that occurs when somebody decides, “Yeah, I’m a company.”
Paul Jarvis: Well, I think that definitely when they start to consider profit, that’s always important. I think there’s a lot of things that can be hobbies, and hobbies are great and you don’t need to worry about profit if it’s hobby. The best thing about a hobby is you don’t have to worry about the money side. But when you want something to support you, you have to start to, especially in freelancing or when you work for yourself and build solo products, I think we have to consider what enough is.
So, what would be enough to sustain this as business longterm, or even in the beginning, what would be enough to sustain this month to month. Like, “how much income do I need?” Because if we figure those things out, then we can work backwards. Say we need $5000 a month ad we wanna charge $1000. Well, can we find five clients per month to cover just those bases? And then six or more to be profitable, right? So I think we need to start to think about what enough is, like, “How many clients is enough?”, “How much profit is enough?”, “How big our audience should be is enough.”, “How much time spent on the business is enough?”.
I think a lot of times, the ‘enough’ question is probably one of the most important things, it’s probably the main reason why I wrote the book. Because we all start from zero, right? We all start a business without a backlog of clients, it’s really hard to start like that. But we all start at zero and build up. So, we all need that growth mindset to get to enough. But where a lot of us don’t think about it is, if we don’t consider what enough is and then change based on if we’ve reached enough or not. So if we have enough revenue, then maybe we don’t need to keep growing and growing and growing, we can start to optimize for that revenue instead. And so I think that’s probably one of the most important things.
John Jantsch: What are the challenges that a lot of people getting started, even if they have that plan like, “here’s where I think I wanna get”, it’s the– and I hate the term shiny object, but no question opportunities pop up, “Gosh, should I chase that? Should I chase that?” Do you or did you have a filter that allowed you to decide? Because sometimes opportunities sound great, and sometimes they’re dead ends, sometimes they just are distractions, maybe they just replace the money you were making over there. So do you have a process that you go through to say, pros, cons, how do I consider this?
Paul Jarvis: Yeah. For me the first thing mindset-wise, is I consider what the maintenance costs, because every opportunity has an associated cost, right? So I consider; if I say yes to this thing, what does that mean for a whole bunch of things, so, what does that mean for my profit? What does that mean for my existing customers? What does that mean for my happiness? And what does that mean in terms of maintaining this longterm? Like say I wanted to add another course to my roster, or add another client, or add another feature to a product. I’m going to have to then be able to sell that new feature. I’m going to have to support that new feature.
I’m gonna probably build other things around that feature to make it work better. So everything has a cost and I think if we start to think about, “What’s a reason we started this thing in the first place? This business, this freelancing, whatever we want to call it. What’s the reason we started this and what do we want to get out of it?” And I think if we have, it sounds a little hippy-dippy, but I think the more that we have and consider what our purpose was for starting, and it can change granted, it can definitely change, but if we have a purpose, I feel like that’s the best lens for decision making we can have when we work for ourselves. So if we have a purpose in mind for what we want to get out of it, or why we’re doing it in the first place, then we can say, “This opportunity doesn’t line up with this purpose, therefore it’s okay if I turn this thing down. It’s okay if I maybe lose a bit short term, but gain a bit in the long term. Because I’ve been doing this for 20 odd years, I kinda think longterm with a lot of the decisions that I make.
John Jantsch: Yeah. And obviously, experience ends up teaching you that. Because I think there’s this like, “I’ll never get this chance again.” Kind of mentality. I think experience teaches you “yes you will”. And so I think once you get confident in that it makes it a little easier to trust your gut I think. My favorite chapter in the book; a chapter called The One Customer, and I think that a lot of freelancers kind of tend to think, you know, you think of an Upwork project or something, you know, it’s done, I never really met the customer, I delivered the product, I don’t really even think of it a customer, its more of a project. But I think that the one big mindset shift that you identify is that I think when somebody decides they have a company of one, all of a sudden this customer is something to grow, isn’t it?
Paul Jarvis: Yeah, I think that in all I’ve done all sorts of types of business and I’ve worked with all sorts of customers, from Fortune 100 startups to entrepreneurs. It’s, business is always, and I hate business sayings for the most part, but there’s one that I actually like, and I think it’s, “Business is all bout who you know.” So I think building relationships and fostering relationships in the longterm just makes a lot of sense. I think, whether it’s startups or freelancers, I think we tend to focus more on acquisition than retention, and its cheaper to retain customers if you’re a freelancer if you’ve already worked with somebody; the sales cycle can be shortened. Because you don’t need to convince them to work with you anymore, they did, they hopefully liked it, they just have to say yes or no to a new project. If it’s a tech company or a SAS product, then retaining the customer just means that they don’t cancel and turn out. So I think focusing on making, and these are the people who are already paying attention, these are the people who probably already like our work if we’re doing good work. Then, it makes sense to pay attention to them, it makes sense to listen to them, it makes sense to not let those relationships die.
Even looking back to when I did freelance work, I had some customers that were probably 13, 14 years of work, and sometimes we would go a year without working together, but because I would keep in touch with them, and because I would reach out to them often, even if there was a bit of a slow time, all I had to do was email my existing customers and say, “Hey, just checking in, see how your business is going, see if there’s anything I can help with.” Just in doing that, I could fill my client roster for a month or two. So I think keeping in touch with people is such an under-utilized skill.
John Jantsch: Yeah. And that one tip really works for any business. If you’ve got a list of past–
Paul Jarvis: It’s a magic email.
John Jantsch: Yeah, it really is. If you’ve got a list of past happy customers, and it’s a slow Friday, just send out an email. So, one of the things that’s made this company of one idea so viable really is all of the tools and technology and automation that we have available. What’s some of your, let’s make this a two-part question. What’s some of your favorite tools for automation, and then what are some of your famous no-nos for abusing automation?
Paul Jarvis: So, I really like email. I think email, so one, email marketing newsletters accounts for most of my revenue, so I would be silly if I didn’t really like that. So I think, and for me, the way that I use it, and it’s funny because everybody’s like, “Oh emails, Dad emails, Dad…”, and I feel like I’m the guy in the back raising my hand, like, “I don’t think so.” So I’ve had a newsletter, a weekly newsletter, which is good because it’s called the Sunday dispatches, so it makes sense that I send it once a week. I’ve had a newsletter since November 2012, so it’s about six years old, and every week I send an article to my list and that just keeps in touch with people, it keeps reminding people that I exist.
And it also, I sometimes have things to sell; not all the time, but sometimes there’s something to sell. And by keeping this cadence as really regular cadence, of showing up for people saying like, “Hey, I still exist, here’s some thoughts that I have.” It shows people that like, “Oh, okay, I really resonate with these things that Paul is saying.” Some people, not all people but some people. And then when I do have something to sell, it’s not like I’m just hounding them to get something for myself, it’s I’ve been providing value for them, sometimes for years; sometimes people are on my list for years before they buy something, so then it feels like there’s some reciprocity there. So then, the sales cycle just becomes, “Hey I made this thing, maybe you wanna check it out.”
John Jantsch: Yeah, you know, I laugh because I get those notes all the time, “I’ve been following you for 10 years, and finally decided to buy–” it’s like I gotta figure out how to shorten the sale cycle so—
Paul Jarvis: Yeah I think that can be good. And then as far as things that I don’t really like using; I don’t like any tool that is realtime or that shows my status. So I really dislike products like Slack because it feels like there’s—so things like that, I don’t even need to single out slack, but just any service that shows my status; even Skype, I only sign in to Skype to use it. And I think that a lot of times we have this FOMO about, “Oh, I’m gonna miss something so I need to stay logged in to everything, or I need to get notifications for all of the things.” I don’t know how I could work, I don’t know how I could accomplish the tasks I need to do on any given day if I was interrupted when I’m doing my work.
So if I’m working on something I can’t leave Slack open, I can’t leave Skype open, I can’t even leave social media open. So, if I’m writing the only thing I have open on my computer is my writing software. If I’m on Twitter, the only thing I have open on my computer is Twitter, and I don’t get notified of things that I’m not focused on or things that I’m working on. So I think that there’s a lot of technology now that allows us, like we were talking about, that allows us to scale without growth, which is awesome, but I also think that we can fall into the trap of just being interrupted by all of these great technologies, so I try not to let that happen as much as possible, because I like to get my work done, and then be done work for the day.
John Jantsch: So, I’m curious, and this is just on a personal note, what is your writing software?
Paul Jarvis: I use, so I like IA writer for just me writing, it’s just a markdown minimal software app. I use for collaboration I use Google Docs, because it’s just the easiest thing when I’m working with copy editor and editor, or collaborator. But then, my publisher, and I think all publishers are old school, so I also use Word, but I begrudgingly use Word. I actually had to buy a license to word for the first time in ten years just to–
John Jantsch: That’s so funny. We’re getting ready to bore our listeners to tears here, but my current book, I’m working on another book right now, and I’m writing the entire thing in Google Docs and I convinced my traditional mainstream publisher to take the manuscript in Google Docs, can you believe it?
Paul Jarvis: Awesome.
John Jantsch: So excited about that.
Paul Jarvis: Your power of persuasion is greater than mine. I tried to do the same thing; it didn’t work.
John Jantsch: One of the things that, I was really happy to read this line because I’ve believed this forever, but you said this really well. That education is a serious marketing channel. And I don’t think people appreciate that. We’ve all bought into, you know, “Yes, educate, educate, useful content.” But I think you took it a step further really, and talk about it as the tool to actually grow your existing customer base and that you should teach everything, you should look at that as a product opportunity. And I think a lot of people who do, say design or really any kind of work, really underestimate the power of that.
Paul Jarvis: Yeah, I mean, it was funny when I was doing web design, I noticed that the only thing that web designers wrote and shared on the internet were things for other web designers. And I always found that weird because, no web designer would ever hire me because I was a web designer too, we had the same skill set. So when I started to think about content, I thought about, “Okay, well what can I do to create content for people that hire web designers?” So I started to write articles on the subject, I wrote a book on the subject.
And then I noticed that my schedule was so full I didn’t know what to do with it because people were reading the things that I was writing, that were looking to hire web designers, and because they had read that from me, they thought, “Okay, this Paul guy is the expert on this subject, so why wouldn’t I want to hire the expert on educating clients on successful design projects? Because he’s the one who’s sharing this knowledge.” And it became a really easy sell at that point, it was just, people had already heard of me, it was more just a matter of seeing if it was a good fit to work together than having to pitch or sell anything. So I’ve kind of taken that and run with it for the rest of my business life.
John Jantsch: And I think a lot of people, people are getting off of this a little bit, but imagine 10, 15 years ago, nobody was really educating, you know, you were selling. And so, when I was out there telling people that, “No, tell them everything, reveal all the candy, don’t hold anything back.” Because they don’t wanna actually do it themselves, they just wanna know that you know how to do it. And that’s the best way to demonstrate it, and I’m glad we’ve come around.
Paul Jarvis: Yeah, people feel like they’re backed into a corner if they feel like they’re being sold to, but people listen a lot more if they feel like they’re learning something; they pay attention, and that attention is gold when you are trying to sell something. If you don’t pay attention to the selling, you pay attention to the teaching, and then you’re right, they’re just gonna be like, “This person knows what they’re doing, I’m just gonna pay them.”
John Jantsch: Well, or they go out there and try it and they go, “Gosh dang this is hard, I am gonna hire somebody.” So, you mentioned hippy-dippy, so let’s finish on a concept that I love and I’d love for you to expand on how you apply this to a company of one. And that’s this idea of finding your true north.
Paul Jarvis: Yeah. It’s funny because I think that, and even, I think I kinda felt that way too. I mean, I live in the woods on an island that’s very hippy-dippy on the West Coast of Canada, so I feel like I’m surrounded by this, and I feel like I push against it. And so, I think that in the beginning I though that having a purpose or a north star for my business was too in the realm of like, “Well businesses are supposed to be profitable, so why would I worry about applying my values and what I want?” And I think that that was to my own detriment.
I think a lot of times, we get tired from having to make decisions all the time in our business. And if you run a business, you have to make decisions all the time and that tires you out. It’s funny, I was reading an article in the Atlantic about how tiring making decisions is, and I was like, “This article is speaking my life.” So I think to come around to the part about having a purpose, I think like I said earlier, I think that having a purpose alleviates some of the decision making. Because if we know why we started the business and why we want to run the business and kind of where we want to take it, and if I think about success, I see what success looks like in the media, and then I think about, if I applied myself to that version of success, one of two things would happen.
I would either get it, which means I would win at what I was challenged by, but I would be left with somebody else’s version of success which wouldn’t be mine, so I kind of wouldn’t win. And if I didn’t win at achieving that person’s version of success, I would be left feeling like I failed. But I failed at something I didn’t actually want in the first place. So I think if we define what success looks like to us, and it’s different for every single person. I did so many interviews for the book, and what success means to you isn’t what it means to me. There could be similarities, sure, but it’s always different. So I think if we have a purpose then it becomes a wholly pragmatic exercise, which is the opposite of hippy-dippy, at least in my mind.
John Jantsch: I’m getting ready to print t-shirts; “fail at something you wanted to fail at”, I love that.
Paul Jarvis: Exactly. It just makes more sense from a pragmatic standpoint to be able to do that. So I think having a purpose just makes it easier to make decisions and it makes it easier for us to align with where we want to go. Because we’re the ones steering the ship, so if we end up somewhere we don’t like, it’s our fault.
John Jantsch: I seriously am stealing that, you’re gonna see it in my next book. So, speaking with Paul Jarvis, author of Company of One: Why Staying Small Is the Next Big Thing for Business, depending upon when you’re listening to this show, it’s out on the shelves January of 2019. So Paul, tell people where they can find more about you and your work.
Paul Jarvis: Yeah. So my newsletter, The Sunday Dispatches is at pjrvs.com, or if you search in Google for Paul Jarvis, I’m the first page. And then the book, Company of One: Why Staying Small Is the Next Big Thing for Business, is on all digital shelves and should be in most bookstores as well, and the website for that is ofone.co.
John Jantsch: Excellent. Paul, it was great visiting with you, hopefully we’ll catch up with you out there fishing or something in the West Coast of Canada.
Paul Jarvis: Sounds good John, cheers.
This week, my guest on the Duct Tape Marketing podcast is Paul Jarvis. A writer and designer, Jarvis has worked with companies like Mercedes-Benz and Microsoft, sports giants like Shaquille O’Neal, and entrepreneurs like Marie Forleo.
On today’s episode, Jarvis and I talk about what it’s like to run your own business, and how to make decisions that will not only make you happier but help you build a sustainable business.
Questions I ask Paul Jarvis:
- Are you anti-scaling?
- What’s the difference between growth and scale?
- How is freelancing different from a company of one?
What you’ll learn if you give a listen:
- How to use the question, “How much is enough?” as a guidepost for growing your business.
- Why aligning opportunities with your purpose can help you stay focused on the most promising avenues to pursue.
- How to transform education into a marketing tool.
Key takeaways from the episode and more about Paul Jarvis:
- Learn more about Company of One (and preorder here)
- Check out the Company of One podcast
- Sign up for the Sunday Dispatches newsletter
- Learn more about his online courses
- Follow him on Twitter
Like this show? Click on over and give us a review on iTunes, please!
As I’ve written about in the past, in today’s digital world, the customer journey is no longer a straight line. While you can’t exert complete control over the way in which customers and prospects interact with your business, it is possible to get strategic about guiding people differently depending on where they are in their individual journey.
One of the most useful tools for effectively guiding a customer’s journey is CRM. Because it is the place where you house all of your information on clients and prospects, it not only gives you in-depth information about each individual, it also allows you to see broader patterns in customer behavior and to tailor your approach to meet your customers where they are.
Below, I’ll share four tips for using your CRM tool to effectively drive the customer journey.
1. Identify Patterns in Customer Behavior
If you’ve been keeping good records in your CRM, it should have all of the data on your current customers. How they found you, the ways they’ve been in touch, what they’ve purchased, and the last time they did business with you. Using this information, you can begin to create a composite profile for your ideal customer, and then go out and target similar prospects.
Let’s say you own a photography studio. Maybe you work with a lot of couples who hire you as a wedding photographer. Maybe local business owners use you to do professional headshots for their team. When you’re able to identify patterns in demographics, it means that leads who fit a similar profile are more likely to be promising ones.
You can also use CRM to track the behaviors of existing clients. Is there one action that everyone seems to take before they make a purchase? Going with the photography example: it might be that prospects who convert always reach out via the CTA button on your wedding portfolio page, while your corporate headshot page gets less traction. That tells you something meaningful about your customer base, and that’s information you can use to assess the viability of prospects.
2. Score Your Leads
The next step in assessing your prospects is lead scoring. Lead scoring is the process of looking at a prospect’s profile and behavior to see how likely it is that they’re serious about becoming a customer.
Once you have a complete picture of your ideal customer, you want to begin comparing that profile to your leads. Those prospects that have a profile most similar to your existing customers are considered hot leads. Those who fall outside of the profile of your typical client base are not people you want to spend your time and money marketing to. It’s unlikely that they’ll ever convert, no matter how great your product or service is.
The most important thing in establishing a lead scoring system is consistency. Make sure that you’re evaluating all leads on the same criteria, and establish a point system that makes sense for you and your business. Some CRMs come with lead scoring tools built in, or it’s possible to get a standalone system. This allows you to effectively budget your marketing time and dollars towards those hottest leads, while not wasting efforts on those who won’t ever convert.
3. Keep Tabs on Your Hottest Leads
Once you’ve gone through the effort of understanding current customer behavior and identifying those leads that are most similar in behavior or profile to your existing clients, you’ll want to keep tabs on those people. Don’t just use your CRM to track existing clients; you should be managing your relationships with prospects here, too.
For those hottest leads, you want to move them towards the trust and try portion of your marketing hourglass. Keep track of all of their behavior, and take a personalized approach in responding to their actions.
Continuing on with the photographer example above, let’s say you meet a couple at a wedding expo. They stop by your booth and chat with you about your work. In previous years, you’ve had a high conversion rate amongst those couples that you met at wedding expos, so you know that this is a hot lead. Do not miss the opportunity to close the deal with them!
This is where personalization comes in. Hopefully you’ve made notes about your interaction with them in your CRM. Reach out the day after the expo to send a message thanking them for their time, mentioning something specific about the details of their wedding that they discussed with you, and offering them the opportunity to sit down for a free consultation with you to discuss their photography needs.
Obviously, this level of personalization takes time and effort, and that’s precisely why you only want to focus this kind of attention on those most promising of leads. However, when you do prove to those prospects that you’re willing and able to go the extra mile, this is how you build trust and move them one step closer to becoming a customer.
4. Use Email Segmentation to Keep the Customer Experience High
So all of this effort in targeting hot leads and offering personalized service has paid off: You’ve won over a new customer! But this is not the end of the customer journey, and you can’t let the high quality of service that you’ve offered thus far drop off now that you’ve taken down someone’s credit card information.
Fortunately, you can use email segmentation to continue to offer that personalized touch. Within your CRM, it’s possible to group people based on their stage in the customer journey or on specific actions they’ve taken or products they’ve purchased. You can then send targeted messages to people in these groups.
Back to the photographer: You can set up your CRM to follow up with clients based on their activities or demographics. That couple from the wedding expo? Add them to your mailing list for your wedding newsletter, where you share tips and tricks about how to plan a really special day. Once they become a client and you shoot their wedding, add them to the list of happy customers that you then target with messaging about your referral program. And if you keep in touch with them regularly (which your CRM should help you with) then you can also reach out down the line to offer them a discount on baby photos for their birth announcement and family photos for holiday cards for years to come.
When used properly, a CRM is a powerful tool that allows you to direct customers to have the experience you want them to have. You can identify and interact with those who really are your target audience, and continue to present them with valuable messaging at the right time, ensuring that their customer experience remains high during every interaction.
Read the full article at MarketingProfs
My weekend blog post routine includes posting links to a handful of tools or great content I ran across during the week.
I don’t go into depth about the finds, but encourage you to check them out if they sound interesting. The photo in the post is a favorite for the week from an online source or one that I took out there on the road.
- Everlance – Track and manage all business and travel expenses, company-wide.
- OpinionLab – Gather customer feedback across website pages and various channels.
- Good Sales Emails – Get inspired by reading through successful email campaigns from great companies.
These are my weekend favs, I would love to hear about some of yours – Tweet me @ducttape
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John Jantsch: You know the CrossFit brand is an amazing, powerful brand and if you were a gym owner and you started a CrossFit Box or gym, there was a lot of power in that. But, there was also some negative that eventually came with that. In this week’s episode of The Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I visit with Matt Scanlon. He is the founder of one of those CrossFit gyms that is now expanded and grown into be something entirely different, into a really a healthcare or wellness mecca. Check it out.
Stuff like payroll and benefits are hard that’s why I switched to Gusto and to help support the show, Gusto is offering our listeners an exclusive, limited time deal. You sign up for their payroll service, today, you’ll get three months free once you run your first payroll. Just go to gusto.com/tape.
Hello and welcome to another episode of The Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch and my guest today is Matt Scanlon. He is the founder of The Hill KC, CrossFit Memorial Hill. It’s also referred to as, happens to be a local person. I rarely get to do a Kansas City show, so, even though we’re just across town, it doesn’t get much closer than this. So, Matt, thanks for joining me.
Matt Scanlon: Yeah, I appreciate it, John. Thanks for having me.
John Jantsch: So, I would kind of fumble around and say what The Hill is but I’m going to let you describe in the glorious terms that you now tell people when they say, “So, what do you do, Matt?”
Matt Scanlon: Yeah. The Hill has gone through a lot of different iterations. We are a health and wellness facility here in Kansas City. Under that umbrella, we do your standard group exercise classes, personal training and things like that. And that was sort of the bread butter of how we started out but since we’ve formed in 2012, we’ve kind of expanded to do some things on the corporate wellness front. We actually have some digital products that we now do remotely with some different offices around the Midwest. We have started a non profit organization under our umbrella that serves people with disabilities, cancer survivors and senior citizens on a fixed income and most recently, we have expanded that non profit organization to include some veteran services for veterans coming out of active duty service.
What basically started out as people working out has grown into a little bit more complex of an organization like it has.
John Jantsch: So, under the umbrella rather than just being a gym. I mean you’re calling it a wellness facility or wellness business, right?
Matt Scanlon: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah.
John Jantsch: So, let’s go back to your beginnings. You were initially, at least my understanding and I have a little bit of history.
Matt Scanlon: Yeah.
John Jantsch: You were initially a CrossFit, I think you might even call it a Box at the time.
Matt Scanlon: That is correct. Yeah.
John Jantsch: Talk to me a little bit about that. CrossFit has, you know, I’m one of those people that, you know, CrossFit has had a lot of its negative, it’s had a lot of positive. I happen to think that it revolutionized this whole idea of the social aspect and group exercise aspect but as far as it being where it was 2010, 2012, it’s kind of come under, I don’t know even know the right term but it’s certainly not what it was maybe five years ago, was it?
Matt Scanlon: Yeah. 100% and actually I would even say, on a more fundamental level, John, I think it’s a crazy thought to think that the fitness industry as a whole probably was more predicated on people not going to the gym than people actually stepping foot into a gym. If you were to think about your typical, your typical, I won’t name any brands or anything like that but you pay-
John Jantsch: Nothing like 24 Hour Fitness or Gold’s Gym or I’m sorry, I’m naming them for you.
Matt Scanlon: No, you’re spot on. So, you had to think, you know, for 50 years of this industry, these businesses survived on low utilization rates. If less than 10 people that pay me actually use my business, I’m in good shape. So, I would say on a very fundamental level, CrossFit came on the scene and is like, “Guys, this is a joke. If people are going to have a gym membership. They should actually be getting in shape. They should actually be going.” And so because of that, it was a very disruptive voice in the fitness industry and along with that came certainly some negative attitudes.
John Jantsch: And I think that, it was probably was compounded by the fact that they started cropping up like mushrooms everywhere and so unfortunately, that meant there were some people that weren’t as committed to people’s safety as maybe they should have been and there weren’t necessarily people who ran businesses like real businesses and so you had a lot of fall out, I think from the industry as a whole didn’t you?
Matt Scanlon: Most certainly. Yeah, the roots of CrossFit were, it was an open source community that started on the internet, first and foremost. So, by nature it was wild west. You had people opening affiliates in their garage and really taking, it was kind of first time that, you know, we’re talking 2001, people are taking this information off of the internet and turning into these brick and mortar locations where people were working out. So, the best practices did not really become evident for probably five to ten years after that first organic wildfire took off.
And it’s something that we’re certainly, now it’s very evident what best practices and coaching and teaching and business are and that’s become more widely available to the affiliates and it’s matured a lot since then I would say.
John Jantsch: And, you still offer the CrossFit programming, right?
Matt Scanlon: Correct. Yeah. That’s the core of what we do. About 55% of our business is what you would consider to be your traditional CrossFit classes.
John Jantsch: So, have you, how have you or have you, I should say, kind of shaken the sort of what people’s perception of, people who didn’t know necessarily, their perception of CrossFit and maybe the fact that somebody who wanted to get into shape was sort of intimidated by CrossFit.
I mean, you’ve changed the name, you in your intro didn’t mention CrossFit so, you’ve clearly are positioning your gym, even though that’s the programming, you’re positioning it for maybe somebody else?
Matt Scanlon: It’s an interesting thing, John, that I would say even today, I am still struggling with how do I interact with that brand. On one hand, you as a marketing expert, you understand that for somebody to have that instantaneous brand recognition and almost that like. “Choose a side.” Really you can’t pay enough money for that kind of brand recognition. So, on one hand, I’m struggling with that, like the general public knows what that means, whether they like it or hate it, there’s still recognition there and that to me is, an important factor.
But, then there’s this other side of the coin to where I realize we started to have people coming into the gym who were stroke survivors and I remember talking, I mean, in our gym, it is not uncommon to see people walk for the first time after an accident and these are people doing CrossFit and learning to walk and learning to stand up and learning to training [inaudible] wheelchairs and they identify as CrossFitters. But then, I would turn around and maybe reach out to their physical therapist or maybe they’re on colleges and I would say, “Hey, listen, I’d like to get a confidentiality signed so we could integrate this treatment protocol a little bit.”
And I realize if I was emailing them from email@example.com, I’m never getting a response. Now, if I’m emailing them firstname.lastname@example.org, oh, I’m immediately getting a response from these physicians. So, I’m stuck between these two very different worlds where the thing that’s occurring inside of our four walls versus the perception of what’s occurring are two pretty desperate experiences. So, I’ll tell you what, this is definitely something I’m wrestling with at this very moment to be honest.
John Jantsch: And I suspect that it will continue to mature and who knows where the brand will be in five years but my guess is the reality of CrossFit is quite than the perception particularly the perception from five years ago.
Matt Scanlon: You know, I had this moment where, we were, as we’re transition, we’re in the middle of expanding our space and really kind of bringing all these businesses under the same umbrella and so we’ve been having this conversation of branding a lot lately and I realize that, I started to ask some of our members, take them out for coffee and ask them about their experiences and I realize that all of these people, whether they came in for CrossFit or not, once they were in the door, they began to identify themselves as CrossFitters.
And, I realize that they weren’t, they don’t identify as a CrossFitter because of the methodology or because there’s this perception of it being dangerous or hard. They’ve created that identity because they did something that they were maybe afraid of doing. And maybe like this idea, this CrossFit was such a massive mountain that they could never climb and then all of a sudden they did it and so there’s a part of me that I don’t want to necessarily take that away from them. Maybe I don’t want to remove the fear or the hesitation that they have because once they conquer, that feeling of accomplishment is amazing, right?
Nobody identifies as a, nobody has a Pilates bumper sticker. Nobody feels that doing a Pilates class was the biggest fear of their life that they conquered and so I’m kind of, that’s not something I want to take away from my members, you know?
John Jantsch: And I think, I mean, I think the key and you’ve certainly headed down this path is education, education, education.
Matt Scanlon: Yes. Certainly. Yeah. And it’s one of those things where it’s, we’re trying to tell a story of it’s quality coaching, it’s good programming and relationships and whether you’re a personal trainer at Gold’s, got a internet certification and they could be an amazing coach, they could be a terrible coach. It really just comes down to those relationships.
John Jantsch: Wouldn’t it be great, if in your business, all you had to do was the stuff you love? The reason you started the business and not all that administrative stuff like payroll and benefits. That stuff’s hard especially when you’re a small business. Now, I’ve been delegating my payroll for years to one of those big corporate companies and I always felt like a little tiny fish but now there is a much better way. I’ve switched over to Gusto and it is making payroll and benefits and HR easy for the modern small business.
You no longer have to be a big company to get great technology, great benefits and great service to take care of your team. To help support the show, Gusto is offering our listeners, an exclusive limited time deal. If you sign up today, you’ll get three months free, once you run your first payroll. Just go to gusto.com/tape.
So, let’s talk a little bit about where you’re trying to take The Hill KC. You alluded to some expansion and not just expansion of physical space but of programming in general.
Matt Scanlon: Yeah. The idea, we’re trying to bring more people under the umbrella of what we’re doing and we’re actually bringing in a lot of healthcare providers into the mix. So, my background prior to owning and operating the gym was in healthcare management and I realized very early on in managing some different healthcare facilities and state programs that there’s a big chasm in what the general population needs for their preventative health and the infrastructure that traditional healthcare has. And so the goal is to begin to bridge that gap.
Now, we’re having conversations with physicians and chiropractors and dieticians and acupuncturists. I mean really everything is on the table because our ultimate mission is to solve preventative health issues and that’s what we do. That’s the core of exercise and nutrition so we’re realizing, okay how much can we bridge the gap between traditional healthcare model and preventative and so this expansion is bringing as many people that actually care about solving that problem to the table as possible.
John Jantsch: So, my question is, I think a lot of people are headed this direction and I think ultimately, I don’t know, seems like it should have happened already but in 10 years, this will be healthcare I think but at what point do, you know, it’s still looked at as alternative in many circles. At what point do we cross over to where actually this is traditional healthcare?
Matt Scanlon: That’s a great question. This is the stuff that gets me going, John. So, it’s at the point that it becomes, it’s at the point that the current model becomes cost prohibited and we’re at a pretty close tipping point. I mean, I am in my mid 30s, super healthy. I don’t know that I’ve been to the doctor in two years and I’m paying health insurance premiums that are absolutely ridiculous. It’s almost $500 a month in catastrophic health insurance premiums and as people bring more creative solutions to the marketplace, the cost of care as it exists now bloats so much, I think it will hit a tipping point towards no longer considered alternative.
And I hope, like really my hope and what we’re trying to solve here is that this model of healthcare isn’t reserved for a privileged few but that there can be a proof of concept I guess to kind of show how to deliver good preventative health services to people.
John Jantsch: And I think it’s like everything. I mean, you’ve got generations on both ends of the spectrum, right now. I have aging parents and so I spend some time in the traditional system that is ill equipped to do anything but give out drugs and beds and it pains me to see but I think we’re, I think because these things don’t, you don’t like stroke a pen and it’s changed. I mean, I think we’re a generation away from what ultimately is obvious.
Matt Scanlon: You nailed it. My mother in law recently had a very extensive emergency surgery that most people her age really don’t recover from. I mean, it results in significant interruption of life and you go in her garage, she’s got a barbell in her garage, she’s swinging kettlebells. She’s up at five in the morning, like getting after it everyday. When you see things like that and you see, oh because of her daily preparation and caring about her nutrition and working out, all these things that you should be doing, her quality of life now and her ability to still work and travel and do the things that she wants, it’s still there.
She’s able to do these things with 40 minutes a day of just preventative maintenance. It’s a great value proposition when you see it occur in that way.
John Jantsch: Absolutely. So, a lot of businesses, I mean your business has evolved dramatically as we’ve just talked about it. A lot of businesses come up with a real challenge when they attempt to do that and you had some of those original people that wanted to hang out in the Box, right? That were some of the folks that were originally attracted to you. How has and maybe it hasn’t changed at all but how has your client today changed and how have you kind of managed growing into something that you weren’t originally, when it came to obviously keeping your existing clients happy?
Matt Scanlon: Yeah. Oh great question. It’s had more, honestly it’s had more to do with me figuring out what I want out of this thing than it has had to do with my clients themselves. And, it’s sort of me kind of finding. I mean, you know this, John. You build a business and it takes everything from you especially in the first five years. You are sacrificing pretty much everything for this business and there were plenty of moments where I had to ask myself, “Is this sacrifice worth exercise? Do I truly enjoy exercise to the extent that I’m willing to make this sacrifice?”
And the answer that I came to is like, “No. I don’t actually enjoy the fitness industry. I don’t necessarily, I’m not that passionate about exercise.” So, I had to figure out, well what is the thing that I’m trying to do here. What initially drew me to this thing? And it really was, it was the health and the mental fortitude like getting better, trying new things and overcoming difficulty. Like, these are the things that I personally got out of bed for. And, so then I kind of realized that our clientele either they were the same people that sort of followed suit and got fired up about that or maybe they left and they were replaced by new people that got fired up at the prospect of this holistic betterment of oneself and their community.
John Jantsch: So, one of the things that, particularly a lot of what I would call traditional brick and mortar businesses suffer from is you can only attract clients for whom your geographic location works for them and their life and so in some ways your market’s a little restricted to that but you have taken what I think is a very wise step for almost any business today and that is to start creating digital projects, products, to start actually creating products for the industry. I think you have something called 321GoProject that is just that.
What’s been your thinking in terms of trying to expand in that manner?
Matt Scanlon: Just what you said. There’s the geographical issues. There’s also this element of scalability and relationships, realizing that the secret sauce of what we have is the fact that, you know, I’ll walk outside my office right now and I’ll see some members. I’ll know all their first names, I’ll know what their kids are up to, I’ll know where they went to college and know what they did over the weekend and there are very real limits on the amount of people that you can have a relationship like that with and so realizing that if I wanted to scale this thing up and provide additional career opportunities to other people under this umbrella, that we would have to figure out ways to do that without sacrificing our core competency which is relationships.
So then, we kind of moved into creating a ton of digital assets and content, pulling a lot of stuff online, working with companies remotely and really thankfully, we live in a day and age where that’s not terrible difficult to do and at the time that we opened the, I mean, 2011 and 12, there’s no way that that would have even been on my mind.
John Jantsch: So, Matt, I’m running to the end of our time, here. So tell people where they can find out more about what you’re up to, whether they’re in Kansas City or not.
Matt Scanlon: Yeah. So, thehillKC.com. It’s got everything there. It’s got all of our programs there. There’s a cool little feature called Coaches Corner that people can go to. That’s were a lot of our digital assets live and then for the work that I do on the industry side of things, I’m a part of a company called 321GoProject where we take best practices, we’ve recently developed a really cool software on behavior change in businesses like ours so, yeah, 321GoProject.com and thehillKC.com is where I’m at.
John Jantsch: Awesome. Well, thanks for joining us, Matt and I have no excuse not to stop by and see you.
Matt Scanlon: All right. Thanks, John.
Managing an Expanding Business, With Your Mission Guiding the Way written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing
This week on the Duct Tape Marketing podcast, I sit down with Matt Scanlon, owner of The Hill KC in Kansas City. Formerly known as CrossFit Memorial Hill, the business began as a CrossFit gym. Once Scanlon began running the gym, he started to notice other ways to serve the community.
His business today is a hybrid: While they still have traditional CrossFit classes, they have also expanded into offering corporate wellness products (with digital products to support an audience outside of the Kansas City area). Additionally, Scanlon has created a nonprofit that enables people with disabilities, cancer survivors, veterans, and seniors on a fixed income to get access to preventative wellness care through The Hill KC.
It was a treat to be able to talk to a small business owner in my own backyard. The challenges Scanlon faces will look familiar to any entrepreneur, as will his passion for the work he does.
Questions I ask Matt Scanlon:
- Have you changed people’s perception of CrossFit in order to open your business up to a wider range of people?
- How are you hoping to expand The Hill KC in the future?
- How did you manage keeping your existing clients happy as you transitioned to a new business model?
What you’ll learn if you give a listen:
- The pros and cons of working within the bounds of an already established brand.
- How focusing on your mission can help clarify the next steps you should take to grow your business.
- What brick and mortar businesses can do to get creative about scaling.
Key takeaways from the episode and more about Matt Scanlon:
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Why It’s Time to Embrace a Real CRM Tool for Your Business written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing
Using a spreadsheet or index cards to manage your clients may make sense when you’re first starting out: there aren’t that many to keep track of, and the clients you do have don’t have a long history with your business.
However, as time goes on, your client list grows, your track record with existing clients becomes longer and more complex, and you need a better way to manage these relationships.
That’s where a client relationship management (CRM) tool comes in. CRMs are not just for big multinationals. There are tremendous benefits to the technology even for small local businesses. The tool is designed to make it easier for both your sales and marketing teams to work effectively and drive even more conversions. Read on, and I’ll take you through all the benefits of incorporating a CRM tool into your workflow.
Scale More Easily
A lot of small business owners are happy to manage their client information in a spreadsheet or word document. At the same time, business owners hope to see their companies succeed and grow. When you’re creating your own haphazard method for tracking your customers, you’re practically ensuring an information bottleneck as your business continues to expand.
CRM tools are designed to grow with your business. When you acquire new prospects, upsell existing customers, add new products and services, or begin a new outreach campaign, these tools are designed to meet you where you are and then keep pace as you broaden your horizons.
A spreadsheet doesn’t have the same flexibility; you’ll soon find yourself struggling to add new columns and tabs, and information will get lost in the shuffle. A spreadsheet also doesn’t integrate with your other marketing and sales tools or provide reports and analytics in the same way that a CRM tool can.
Enhance Customer Experience
Customers today are won and lost based on the experience they have interacting with your business. There is a lot of competition out there, and with the digital landscape being what it is, it’s likely that your customer can find another business that does what you do. So it’s a highly personalized customer experience, with strong attention to detail, that will allow you to stand out from the pack and turn your prospects into return customers.
CRM tools allow you to track all interactions with a customer across platforms. When did they last make a purchase with you, and what was it? Did they submit a review of the product or service they bought? Did they reach out via phone, email, or online chat with a question about their recent purchase? Are they on the mailing list for your newsletter?
There are so many ways in which you interact with customers, and it’s near impossible for a human to track all of these touchpoints effectively and accurately. Having this information all in one place allows all members of your team to better serve customers.
Marketers can send targeted messaging to users who have expressed an interest in a particular good or service your provide. Salespeople can be more proactive about reaching out to customers that they haven’t heard from in a while, and can make a thoughtful reference to something they discussed in their last conversation when they reach out to reestablish contact. Your customer service team can see a history of issues a user has had with a given product and can meet them where they are, rather than making the customer rehash their issue each time they contact you with a question.
Knowing what your customer has done in the past allows you to be thoughtful about your interactions in the future. Adding a personal touch to your interactions is what distinguishes your brand. You increase trust—a key part of the customer relationship—when you show that you not only know what you’re doing, but that you care about the customer and their individual needs.
Send Targeted Messages
As I mentioned briefly above, one of the major benefits to marketers using a CRM tool is the ability to undertake customer segmentation based on past behavior.
Customer segmentation is what gives your marketing efforts that personalized touch. CRM tools allow you to group prospects and clients based on a variety of different attributes: where the lead came from, how they’ve engaged with you in the past, what they’ve purchased from you, or demographics like age or location.
You can then easily send relevant messages to those who meet certain criteria in a given group. All leads that came from attending an event you hosted last month can receive an invitation to your next event, complete with an early bird registration discount. All customers who purchased a given service in the past year can be sent a free copy of your latest white paper on a related topic. All of your customers in the Northwest can be notified when you’re speaking at a conference in Seattle.
Now, sending a message about your Seattle conference appearance to your clients in Pennsylvania might lead them to unsubscribe, since you’re clogging up their inbox with irrelevant messaging. But if that same client receives a personalized note from you, following up on their recent purchase and providing them with a training video about how to better use the item that they bought they’ll likely have a very different reaction. Email segmentation allows you to not only build trust, but also make sure that the right offers are getting in front of the right people, thereby increasing the likelihood of a conversion.
Manage Your Sales Pipeline
CRMs don’t just allow you to track the behaviors of existing customers, you can use them to manage your prospects, too. When you can see where all of your prospects are in the customer journey, you can better understand what changes you need to make to your approach to win over more new business.
CRM tools can allow you to see bottlenecks in your sales pipeline. Is there one particular area where conversions just don’t seem to be happening? Once you can see that issue, you can begin to address it. Maybe lots of prospects are eager to sign up for a free trial of your service, but then they’re not converting. That means you should focus on what’s happening with their free trial experience—are they underwhelmed with their experience, or are you not providing adequate follow-up after the trial in order to get them to commit to the paid version?
These tools will also allow you to parse your data based on factors like deal size, expected close date, and last point of contact so that you can direct your sales team to go after the most promising leads or those with the most pressing deadlines attached.
Finally, you can keep better track of the deals that you’ve lost. When you understand when and where you lost out on business, you can then begin to gather the information around the why. Did you drop the ball and wait too long to provide them with information? Did they find a similar product or service at a much lower price? This is the kind of information that allows you to improve your approach with future prospects and ensure your success next time around.
I’m Sold! How Do I Find the Right CRM?
Hopefully I’ve convinced you of the many benefits to adding a CRM tool to your business. But now the question becomes, with the myriad of options, which one is best for you? The systems run the gamut in terms of capabilities, so the real key to finding the right one is selecting the tool that best aligns with your goals and needs.
Just because your friend uses and loves a given CRM for their business doesn’t mean it will serve you just as well. Find the CRM that allows you to collect the data that you most want to track and provides the marketing automation features that are most important to you. You’ll also want to consider your team’s level of tech-savvy and workload and select a CRM that lines up with their abilities and bandwidth.
A tool like Hubspot’s CRM is free to use and is very comprehensive. The downside here is that the tool is complex. There will be a learning curve when you implement any new tech, but some CRMs are more involved than others. No matter what program you settle on, you’ll want to be sure that you’re providing your team with the appropriate training and support to make sure that you get the most out of your new system.
A nice middle ground for small business owners is ActiveCampaign‘s CRM. The system allows for marketing automation alongside more traditional sales and CRM features. The platform is fairly intuitive and they offer a variety of pricing options based on your needs and budget.
Today’s business owners are able to collect a lot of information about their customers and prospects, and it comes from a lot of different sources. As a business continues to grow, it’s nearly impossible for a person to accurately track, manage, and analyze all of this data on their own. And when you’re not able to see it all in one place, you’re missing out on valuable conversion opportunities. Turning to a CRM tool to help you manage the information, streamline the way you interact with customers and prospects, and get specific about the way that you approach each individual can empower you to take your business to the next level.
My weekend blog post routine includes posting links to a handful of tools or great content I ran across during the week.
I don’t go into depth about the finds, but encourage you to check them out if they sound interesting. The photo in the post is a favorite for the week from an online source or one that I took out there on the road.
- Kolay – Handle all employee management tasks—from HR to reviews—in one place.
- Publica.la – Seamlessly convert any PDF publication to a mobile edition.
- Prisync – Track and monitor your competitor’s pricing on their e-commerce site.
These are my weekend favs, I would love to hear about some of yours – Tweet me @ducttape