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Transcript of Overcoming Objections in Sales

Transcript of Overcoming Objections in Sales written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

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Break Through the Noise book cover

John Jantsch:  Today’s episode is brought to you by Break Through The Noise, the new book by Tim Staples, Co-Founder and CEO of Shareability. In his book Tim reveals his secret sauce for how to capture the attention of millions of people online, without spending millions of dollars.

John Jantsch: Hello and welcome to another episode of the duct tape marketing podcast. This is John Jantsch and my guest today is Jeb Blount. He is a sales acceleration specialist, founder of Sales Gravy and the author of a couple books, Fanatical Prospecting, I think we had him on here for, and then also, the book we’re going to talk about today, Objections: The Ultimate Guide for Mastering the Art and Science of Getting Past No. So Jeb, welcome back.

Jeb Blount: Oh, thank you. I’m glad to be back on. I appreciate you having me on.

John Jantsch: So, objection seems like a pretty specific part of the sales process. So let’s start out there. Why a book just on that aspect?

Jeb Blount: Well, if you think about most sales books, there’s a little part in the very back of every sales book on objections. There are very few books that have been written on objections and even in training that we deliver and that corporations deliver to their people, objections kind of take a back seat. But, when we think about objections and what objections are, you’re dealing with objections all the way through the entire sales process.

Jeb Blount: From the moment that you get someone on the telephone and you’re prospecting, they may tell you, they don’t have time for a meeting to throwing out red herrings in the middle of your sales process that take you off track, to micro-commitment objections. Getting them to advance to a next step. Then finally, buying and selection commitment objections.

Jeb Blount: So, no matter what you do, no matter what you sell, no matter how you sell it, there’s a great democracy in objections and objections are everywhere in the sales process, but we just haven’t addressed it. What I realized is that when I was dealing with entrepreneurs and I was dealing with people in marketing and I was dealing with people in sales and even dealing with people in nonprofit, almost all the questions that they ask about me is, “What do I do when someone tells me no?”

Jeb Blount: That’s why I made the decision to write this book and to really break down the science of objections, the science of why they hurt so much and why do buyers give us rejections. Then creating frameworks that allow people, in the moment, to deal with those objections, get past them and keep their deals advancing.

John Jantsch: Yeah, because for a lot of people, objection is really rejection. I mean, they don’t get past the early on stages and that’s where people give up. I think a lot of what you’re saying is, you got to expect this stuff and you got to look for it and you have to overcome it, maybe multiple times. I think that’s probably the part that makes… I don’t know how to say this the right way. That’s the part that makes people not like selling so much, but it’s also… Isn’t it the part that people get really good at it, enjoy the most?

Jeb Blount: Yeah, I think you’re right. So, persistence is a virtue, especially in sales and in business. I opened the book with the story about a guy that called me 71 times and ended up selling me a software program that changed my business. It changed the trajectory of our company. It helped us grow very fast and if he hadn’t been so persistent, I probably wouldn’t have bought it. So, he really helped me out.

Jeb Blount: I tell the story in the book where I called Fujifilm, was a client that I was looking to do business with. I called them over 50 times until they finally met with me. Which I think is what people miss in this, is when I showed up, they had their head of sales in the meeting and the head of sales was trying to hire me to come work for their company because he was so impressed with my persistence.

Jeb Blount: So, when we’re talking about persistence, in a lot of cases, we’re talking about the objections that you get really early on. Which are the harshest objections and they can be rejection that you get. So, when you call someone up asking for time, you’re interrupting their day and you’re asking for the one thing they don’t have any of and that is time. Those particular objections are the things that, I think make people run from sales the most.

Jeb Blount: Those aren’t the only objections you get, but those are certainly the harshest objections. The thing about objections is that they aren’t necessarily rejection. Sometimes they are, especially when you’re prospecting. But our brains treat an objection like it’s a rejection because we perceive it to be that way. In the worst cases, we anticipate that we’re going to get rejected. So we never even make the call or make the approach because we start worrying about what’s going to happen when someone tells us no.

Jeb Blount: In the book itself, what we really deal with is that feeling that you get of rejection, whether it’s anticipated, whether it’s real or whether it is perceived. That feeling that you have is much more biological than psychological. So, it’s important to be aware of where it comes from, so that in the moment, you can rise above the emotion that you feel and choose your response. That by the way, is the real key of getting past the objection and getting to what you want.

John Jantsch: Well, and I’m going to guess, I could be wrong, but that person that called you 71 times believed in the value that you could receive and that’s what kept them coming back. Am I way off base there?

Jeb Blount: Absolutely. Well, I think two things. One, he had absolute conviction in the quality of the product that he was selling and he was right about that. It is a high quality software and also, he had done a really good job of targeting. So, he had done a very good job of deciding which companies were the best fit for that product and my company Sales Gravy, we’re a fairly well-known sell training company. We work across the globe. We have a high profile. So, one of the things for him was, if I can get Sales Gravy to buy this, then I can get a lot of other training companies to buy this because I can tell them that Sales Gravy’s my client. I knew that was part of what he was doing and he was up front about that. About what an important prospect we were to him.

Jeb Blount: So, when you have the right prospect, where you know that what you’re selling is a fit and you know that you really help them, then that gives you that emotional reason to keep facing the fact that you’re getting knocked down, knocked down, knocked down because That told him to go away a dozen times. It allows you to do that.

Jeb Blount: Thankfully, he had so much conviction in what he was selling that he didn’t stop and it’s made all the difference for us as an organization. I can tell you straight up, the software that he sold us has helped us double the size of our company three years in a row. That’s how powerful that was.

John Jantsch: So, let’s focus on the prospecting part, which a lot of that was what he was doing. For a lot of people, that’s the hardest part. I mean, 90% of people couldn’t get past that because it’s so easy. It’s like, “No, and I don’t have time for you.” Click. To the buyers defense a little bit, I mean, I get those calls all the time and I just don’t have the time to invest in determining a lot of times, as I suspect you did, that that software was a good fit. No matter, all the promises, it like, “Yeah, I get that five times a day. What if it doesn’t?” So, I can’t take the time. So, how do you get past the fact that a lot of people just see that as you interrupting?

Jeb Blount: Well, you are interrupting. I mean, it’s just the fact of the matter. You’re interrupting and you’re asking them for the one thing that they don’t have any of, and that is time. So, there’s a couple of things. One of the things that Richard did really well in this situation is that he built familiarity. So, the last time that he got me on the telephone, I knew who he was. I’d heard his voice. I’d seen dozens of emails. He stalked me on LinkedIn. He called me and left me voicemails.

Jeb Blount: When I finally had a moment, I was in the situation where I couldn’t say, “No, I’m not going to give you time.” Because honestly, as a human being, with some level of empathy, he had just earned the right to have the conversation. The second thing that he did was, he was able to change his message. Because he left me so many voicemails, I heard different messages. So, he built these little commercials for me along the way.

Jeb Blount: So for him, he did that. I mean, he got to the point where I knew who he was and he had earned the right and part of like you said, “Do I know whether or not this is really worth my time?” Part of that is that the salesperson keeps showing up over and over and over again. Because if you think about it, most sales people hit the no once and they never call back again and I see that everyday in corporate America. When we’re working with people, working with a sales person, the question they ask is, “How many times should I call?” The answer is, that they currently have is, “I call once, they tell me, no. I never call back again.”

Jeb Blount: A great example is, I was working with this small company up in New York City and they sold advertising into restaurants. So, I was out with their sales people on the street in New York City, cold calling restaurants. We’re walking door-to-door, walking in and interrupting the day of restaurant managers in New York City, the hardest place in the world to sell. When we walked in, they told us to go screw ourselves.

Jeb Blount: We got told no in about 60 different languages and then, we went back the next day and went back the next day and went back the next day and it took about five times of walking in and them seeing you before they would give you a second look. Then they would say, “Yeah, get out of here but come back tomorrow.” And you knew you had cracked them and then, you’d come in the sixth time and then, they would give you a few minutes. You go in the seventh time, you got a meeting because their filter for whether or not it’s worth their time to invest in you was basically predicated on, did you have the chops to keep showing up over and over and over again?

Jeb Blount: I did the same thing. I love salespeople it’s what I do for a living. But I tell salespeople to go away all the time and it’s the ones that keep at it that eventually will at least get in, or I will at least look at their message. If I look at their message and I determine it’s not right for me, I’ll be respectful enough to tell them why it’s not the right time or right for me, rather than just brushing them off with, “I don’t have time.”

John Jantsch: Yeah. So in a way, you’re asking them to invest in you, before you’ll invest in them and I think that’s a great way to look at it. So, we talked about the prospecting one. You mentioned red herrings and micro-commitments and the fourth one, kind of that buying commitment. So I guess maybe, just briefly state what those are and then, I’d love for you to talk about some tactics for kind of turning those around.

Jeb Blount: Sure, so red herring objections are really not… they’re not real objections. But typically, when we’re in these conversations, sales conversations, especially for entrepreneurs, we feel nervous. A lot of it is because we have everything on the line and we feel a little bit vulnerable. In those initial meetings, what will happen is, you’re having a conversation with someone and they’ll say, “Well listen, I can’t talk anymore until I know how much it costs.” Or, “I just want you to know I’m not buying today.” They’ll throw something like that out really early in the conversation and what happens is we end up chasing that and we burn all the time that we have with them, dealing with something that’s not really a price objection. It’s just what they say. They don’t really have anything else to say to you.

Jeb Blount: So, it’s important in those situations, that you acknowledge it. So, the way I acknowledge anytime I get a red herring, is just write it down on a piece of paper, ask them if there’s anything else. Then I moved directly into my conversation, which usually sounds like this. I’s say, “If it’d be okay with you, let me ask you a few questions about you and then, we can talk about what we do and you and I can determine from there, whether or not it makes sense for us to keep talking.”

Jeb Blount: So, I use this process where I just, I pause for just a moment, acknowledge it, write it down and then, I ignore it. Most of the time red herrings never, ever come back up again and sometimes they’re important. Write it down, come back to it later. But don’t allow a red herring to disrupt your conversation. Maintain control and keep the meeting moving the way you want it to move.

Jeb Blount: Micro-commitment objection is really simple. All of sales is a set of commitments. So prospecting is asking for time. Sales is asking for commitments and those commitments are small micro-commitments along the way. So, for example, if I’m selling something and the best way that I can determine what to sell you is to go walk through say, your warehouse or walk through your building or take a look at your data or spend a day in the life with one of your AR clerks, whatever the case may be. If I’m doing that, I want to ask for micro-commitment and the more micro-commitments I can get along the way, the more my buyer’s invested in the process. Which means it’s more likely that they’re going to see it through to an outcome and my opportunities not going to stall.

Jeb Blount: So, I’m constantly asking people for my micro-commitments at test engagement and make sure that we’re moving forward. But from time-to-time they’ll say, “No.” They’ll say, “I don’t understand why we need to go do a tour of my warehouse. I mean, it’s just a warehouse. Why can’t you just send me a quote?” Or, “I don’t know why we would need to do that.” Or, “Why don’t you just email me the proposal and then, I’ll call you and we can meet later versus setting up a meeting with you.”

Jeb Blount: The thing about micro-commitments is all you have to do is just explain the value. These are real, low-key objections. They’re not harsh. They’re rarely rejection. We get a little bit flustered, but all you have to do is explain the value. So if someone says, “Look, I don’t know why we need to do this.” I say, “Listen, the reason that this is important is because the way I work as an organization is that every solution that I build is custom to my client’s unique situations. Until I get to know you, it’s going to be impossible for me to put together a blueprint for how we would serve you. All I’m going to need is about 15 minutes of your time to go through this information. So how about Thursday at two?” Really simple. If you can give a good explanation, they will rarely tell you no.

Jeb Blount: Then finally, they’re buying commitment objections and buying commitment objections are just people’s… They’re concerned about making a mistake. It’s their fear of taking risks. It’s their attachment to the status quo. What I’m doing now, even though it’s not perfect, it’s probably going to be better than taking a risk of change.

Jeb Blount: With micro-commitment or with buying commitment objections, it’s really about building your case through discovery, making sure that you’ve done all your work along the way. You really understand what’s important to them, why they would do this and it’s relating to them as a human being. Making sure that you are clarifying exactly what they mean. So, if someone says, “Your price is too much.” My question’s always. “How so? Help me understand that.” Because sometimes, it’s maybe the startup cost but not the ongoing cost.

Jeb Blount: Then the key here is, with buying commitment objections is recognizing that buying commitment objections almost always come from a place of fear. It’s just natural for human beings. We’re adverse to risk and along… as we’ve gone through our lives, when we avoid risk, we have a tendency to stay alive, so it’s part of our makeup. So, you have to minimize their fear while maximizing the future outcomes, while showing them what they’re going to get. The best way to have the ammunition that you need in a buying commitment objection is to have done a good job in the sales process doing deep discovery and built a good business case.

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John Jantsch: So you spend a good chunk of the book talking about asking as a skill and how and why. I think that’s a part that most sort of beginning salespeople miss, is that they want to show up and talk about their stuff and a lot of times, we’re not even giving the buyer a chance to object to anything because we want to talk about ourselves. So, how do we develop this habit of making sure that we’re asking plenty of questions before we start trying to sell anything.

Jeb Blount: Well, I think first of all, you’re exactly right. You’ve got to ask questions and do discovery. The easiest thing to remember is this, when you ask for the sale, if you haven’t asked questions to begin with, you’re going to be dealing with price. So, you’re going to go straight to the bottom, deal with price because that’s the only thing that differentiates you. When you ask great questions, when you get out of your own way, rather than just pitching and explaining and telling, when you do that and then you go, “You want to buy?” The only way they can buy from you is based on you lowering your price because you created no differentiation from your competitors. So that’s one part of asking.

Jeb Blount: One is asking questions. Open-ended questions, artful and strategic questions that provoke awareness in building your business case. The problem with salespeople, more often than not with asking, is they don’t ask for what they want. So for example, if I want to come do a tour of your facility, I have to ask for that. If I want to sell, I have to ask you to do business with me. If I want time, I have to ask you for time.

Jeb Blount: The problem is, is when we ask, it creates this deep sense of vulnerability. We ask with confidence that we want something, then the person could tell us, “No.” We begin anticipating that we’re going to get rejected and therefore we don’t ask at all. What we do is we sit and wait for the prospect to do the job for us. That they’re going to somehow come to their senses and close the deal or give us time or what have you and it just doesn’t work that way.

Jeb Blount: One of my favorite quotes from Jim Rome is that, “Asking is the beginning of receiving.” I mean, if we want a deal, we have to ask first. So, asking is the most important discipline in sale, asking for what you want. If you want to get something you have to ask for it. We start the book that way because when you ask, you are going to get told no. When you ask, you are going to get rejected. Those things are true and when you begin anticipating that or when you change your behavior because you don’t want to feel the pain of rejection, all of a sudden you stop asking or you ask in a way that is so passive and insecure, that you’re never going to get what you want.

Jeb Blount: So, what you need is first of all, to understand where that pain comes from so that you can be aware of it. Awareness is the mother of change. But, next you have to have a set of frameworks, so that when you ask and you get the objection, when it happens to you, that you can rise above the emotion. What I teach people when I’m working with them on objections is that the emotion that you feel about being rejected, because it’s not comfortable. Nobody likes to feel that way. That happens without your consent. You don’t get to choose the emotion. The only thing you can choose is how you respond to that, what you’re going to do next, how you rise above it.

Jeb Blount: One of the really simple mechanisms that we teach people is something called the ledge and it’s what neuroscientists call the magic quarter second. So, when you get someone telling you no, an objection, that happens at the… your response the emotional level and it kicks off something called fight or flight, which changes your physiology and it changes the way that you deal with it and it makes it really hard to think.

Jeb Blount: So the ledge, this magic quarter second, gives you just a moment to get your neocortex or your thinking, rational brain in executive control over your response. So, for example, if I asked you for time and you said, “Jeb, I’m too busy today.” My ledge in this situation would be, that’s exactly why I called because I figured you would be. I say that every single time. But just that simple moment of having something that I say and respond to, anytime someone says that to me. Someone says, “Your prices are too way too high.” I always say, “How so?”

Jeb Blount: But because I have that, it gives me a moment to think and if I can have that moment to think, I can get out of the emotional state that I’m in, that makes it difficult for me to respond and get back into a rational state that allows me to be in control of my emotions and therefore, deliver a response that helps me get past the objection.

Jeb Blount: The one thing that you must take to the bank and understand about your interactions with people in a sales conversation, is that the person in that conversation that exerts the greatest amount of emotional control is the person who has the highest probability of getting the outcome that they desire?

John Jantsch: Yeah, and I think it probably, also has a little bit of impact of disarming the sort of knee jerk reaction. Like, “I’m too busy. You’re priced too high.” I mean some of that’s just defense, isn’t it? If we aren’t prepared to sort of deflect that defense mechanism, we’re never going to get a chance to show the value we can bring.

Jeb Blount: Yeah. I think it’s probably, when… We think about that more, “Let’s focus on disrupting the pattern.” So, when someone says, “I’m too busy.” Typically, that’s just their… It’s a reflex response. That’s why I call them buyer scripts, right? So, it’s just what they say. So, if you say, “I’m too busy.” I’m going to say, “That’s exactly why I called, because I figured you would be.” There not expecting that. I mean, they’re not expecting a salesperson to say that. They’re expecting me to argue with them or to say, “What’s a better time to call you.” I just say, “That’s exactly why I called because I figured you would be and all I want to do is find a time that’s more convenient for you.” I say that every single time. It’s got about a 70% probability of getting the person to tell me yes.

Jeb Blount: So, in that particular case, I’ve got a stock response. I was just working with a rep who is selling into CFOs and he sells software that helps them reduce their SGNA costs and he was having a hard time dealing with it, when the CFO said, “I’m not interested.” Because they all say, “I’m not interested,” because they’re too busy. His response, the way that he broke that up, he said, “That’s exactly what I thought you’d say because every CFO I call tells me they’re not interested, before they learn that we can rapidly reduce their SGNA costs and give them the ability to invest that money in places that grow the business.”

Jeb Blount: The week before he was using that turn around, he got four meetings. The week that he started using the turnaround, he got 18 meetings. So, it was just breaking through that little bit of resistance and doing something that allowed him to rise above the emotion and then, disrupted the pattern of that CFO, “I’m not interested.” That moved them to a place where they were willing to meet with him and that’s when he began… could begin to make the case because you can’t make the case on a simple prospecting call. It’s moving fast. You interrupted their day. You need to get the meeting to have that conversation.

John Jantsch: All right, I’m going to end on one you can probably swat right out of the park. But I’m going to ask you this question because I’m sure that lots of listeners out there and lots of folks who come to you probably have this. So you have a story in there that yes has a number and you essentially say, “If you ask…” Like a lot of salespeople, you have to ask enough people in order to get to yes with somebody. But here’s my question, so you had the number in there 11. You asked people to sing, Mary Had a Little Lamb and you said, typically somewhere around 11… by the 11th person, you finally got somebody to do it. So, let me ask you this, does that mean though that 10 people were damaged along the way?

Jeb Blount: No. I mean, the story is, I was in New York City. I was more damaged than not because I was usually getting F you, when I asked the question. So, I was the one that was getting damaged. But most people answer… I asked them… They went on with their life. I mean, they may have at dinner said, “Hey, this crazy guy on the street asked me to sing, Mary Had a Little Lamb into a camera.” But more often than not, they just forget, they have no idea.

John Jantsch: Let me make sure I focus on that. You use that as an example. So let’s say, just in the cold calling environment is what I’m really asking. So yeah, you finally find somebody who will meet with you, but the 10 people… And I’m saying damaged, that’s harsh. But I mean, are the 10 people that you interrupted, had a bad experience?

Jeb Blount: Well, only if you’re a total schmuck. But other than that, no. A great example of this is, I was working with a group up in Atlanta and we were doing cold calls. I was working, we’re working with them doing cold calls. The fourth person I called was just the meanest, most awful human being. She was so ugly to me and I’ve made thousands of calls, but she really hurt my feelings. Then I was even thinking that this is Atlanta, Georgia. So usually, you get told no nicer than you do in New York City.

Jeb Blount: So, it was bothering me, but I couldn’t flinch, because I’m in front of a bunch of reps that I’m training how to do cold calls. So, I kept on going, but finally it was bothering me so bad, I went back to the top of the list and I called her back 30 minutes after I’d called her the first time. When she answered the phone, I did exactly the same thing that I’d done the first time. And she said, “Yeah, come on by on Wednesday.” She didn’t even remember that I called her. I don’t know what she was in the middle of. I don’t know what was going on, but that happened.

Jeb Blount: My son called me earlier this week and and said… he said, “You’re not going to believe this.” He said, “I talked to the CEO two weeks ago, who told me that to go away. I’m never going to do business with you and oh, by the way, I’m busy for the next six years. So, don’t ever call me back again.” He said, “I was sitting there and I was thinking about it. I’m like, I’m going to call the guy back.” So he said, “Two weeks later, I called him back.” He said, “I changed my message up just a little bit.” And he said, “I ended up getting the meeting.”

Jeb Blount: It’s like, that’s what happens to people all the time. Is that you get off the phone thinking that that person is still thinking about you but they’re not. It’s probably no different than, someone cuts you off in traffic and you drive on and you’re so pissed off at them and you’re thinking about them grinding your teeth and thinking about all the things you can do with retribution and meanwhile, that person is driving on. They haven’t given you a second thought. They’re just going on with their day. All you are is an inconvenient interruption and they forgot about you the minute that you got off the phone. Unless of course, I mean, if you’re just a total jerk on the phone with them, they may not forget you, but that’s just so weird for sales people to do that.

Jeb Blount: Usually, I try to get past an objection a couple of times. If I don’t, I hang up and I move on and I call them back a couple of days later. So you’re not going to cause any damage calling people, doing prospecting, having conversations. More often than not, you’re going to create respect because you’re willing to call back. Which, I think is essentially, what happened to my son when the CEO realized that this kid who’s 21 years old wasn’t willing to back down. That CEO had deeper respect for him and was willing to give him 20 minutes of his time.

John Jantsch: Jeb, where can people find out more about you and Sales Gravy and any of your books?

Jeb Blount: Absolutely. All my books, I’ve written 10 books, they’re on Amazon. So, you can grab those, Amazon, Barnes and Noble. Most bookstores, most airports you’ll find my books. is my flagship website. We have thousands and thousands and thousands of free resources there that you can grab. You can get my podcast, along with this one. Because this is the podcast Mark and I listen to every single week, but you can grab my podcasts on all the major podcast providers, Sales Gravy, G-R-A-V-Y, is the easiest way to pop that in. YouTube channel thousands are… Thousands, about four or 500 videos there, I think. Then, you can catch me on all the major social networks. I’m @salesgravy, wherever you go.

John Jantsch: Well, Jeb it was great catching up with you and hopefully, we’ll run into you there soon out on the road.

Jeb Blount: Thank you, sir. Thank you.

Overcoming Objections in Sales

Overcoming Objections in Sales written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with Jeb Blount
Podcast Transcript

Jeb Blount headshot

On today’s episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is Jeb Blount, author of 10 books on sales, leadership, and customer experience.

He is also a sought-after speaker, who delivers hundreds of keynote speeches, trainings, and workshops each year around the globe. Blount also advises leaders through his training programs, Sales Gravy and Innovate Knowledge.

Blount and I sit down to talk about his latest book, Objections: The Ultimate Guide for Mastering the Art and Science of Getting Past No. He shares what he’s learned over the years about the art of sales and getting from a no to a yes in sales discussions.

Questions I ask Jeb Blount:

  • Why write a book focused solely on the topic of objections?
  • What are red herring, micro-commitment, and buying-commitment objections?
  • How do you develop the habit of asking questions before jumping into your sales pitch?

What you’ll learn if you give a listen:

  • Why the feeling of rejection is more biological than psychological, and what you can do to overcome it.
  • How to create a moment to think so that you can get past the objection with rationality.
  • Why breaking through the initial resistance can change the whole sales conversation.

Key takeaways from the episode and more about Jeb Blount:

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

Break Through the Noise book coverThis episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by Break Through the Noise, the new book from Tim Staples. Staples is the co-founder and CEO of Shareability, a company that uses content, data and technology to drive explosive growth for major brands like AT&T, Hyatt, and the Olympics and major celebrities like Cristiano Ronaldo, John Cena and Leonardo DiCaprio.

In this book, Staples shares his nine-step approach that anyone can use to launch their product or service, capturing the attention of millions of people online, without having to spend millions of dollars.

Learn more about the book and order your copy here!

Transcript of Why Reviews Matter to Your Business

Transcript of Why Reviews Matter to Your Business written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Back to Podcast


Break Through the Noise book cover

John Jantsch:  Today’s episode is brought to you by Break Through The Noise, the new book by Tim Staples, Co-Founder and CEO of Shareability. In his book Tim reveals his secret sauce for how to capture the attention of millions of people online, without spending millions of dollars.

John Jantsch: Hello and welcome to another episode of The Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch, and my guest today is Aaron Weiche. He is the CEO of GatherUp, a review and customer feedback platform, and that’s what we’re going to talk about today, is getting reviews, customer experience feedback, all that good stuff that we need to do to understand who our buyers are, and what we do that’s unique. Aaron, thanks for joining me.

Aaron Weiche: Yeah, you bet. Thanks for having me on, John.

John Jantsch: Let’s just talk some basics. I mean, I assume everybody knows what reviews are, those things that Google, and Facebook, and things, people have been leaving for years, but now they’re on these digital platforms. Let’s talk about how important they are, that we kind of take over, or at least participate in that process.

Aaron Weiche: Yeah, two really big high level signals that I look at and put a lot of trust in is one, just what you see when you do a search at Google itself, and that I test is, whether I’m looking for a product, or a hotel, or a service, who’s going to take care of my lawn. Almost all of those results nowadays in some way, shape, form, or another are accompanied by review stars.

Aaron Weiche: We definitely see a very strong signal from the biggest window into the web through Google, that reputation really matters, and they are bringing it to the conversation right in that search result, very high, and very visible for a user to interact with. Then, the second is just around a lot of studies in the last handful of years that show overwhelmingly, to the tune of like 85% or more, that we trust online reviews as much as we trust talking to humans that we know. When you kind of combine those things of a very high trust level, and it’s very visible, and Google doesn’t do things by accident, I think that’s a very, very large signal to any small business that your reputation is tied to how you’re viewed in the world.

John Jantsch: There’s certain industries, nail salons, restaurants, hotels, I mean you’re under three stars and you’re just done because people really count on those for those. But, would you say that, that has now kind of permeated out to just about every industry?

Aaron Weiche: Absolutely. No one is void of reputation being part of that decision, and the best way I summarize this is, we have every option available to us when we do a search now, right? Even when you get into a very obscure business or service provider, you still might have three or five choices that you can look into. Time is such a huge commodity, we’re not going to call, or fill out a contact form on all of them. As a consumer, we’re looking to make the most informed decision, and reach out to one.

Aaron Weiche: When you look at that, brand and reputation is often one of those big factors, and what do other people have to say about working with this business. Are they reputable and trustworthy, because I’ve never used them before, and are they worth me putting a call into, or giving up my email address, or filling out a contact form?

John Jantsch: Do you think that consumers understand the difference between what we might call first party and third party reviews? In other words, you go to a website and they’ve got all these glowing reviews on their website, but then there’s Google who is aggregating these theoretically in a sort of impartial way. Do you think consumers understand the difference between those?

Aaron Weiche: I think they do a little bit, but what I think is even more important to the consumer is, is there depth, and is there information, and are there answers in those reviews? I think that’s much more of a deciding factor, because if it’s helpful to the consumer, I think they start to look at less what’s the source, how is it organized, what’s the rating scale, and everything else. But, if they’re able to get answers to their questions, and be able to identify with what they’re reading and have that aha moment where they’re like, “Oh yeah, that’s me,” the way this person is describing this, or their experience with it. I think that’s what’s most important to them.

Aaron Weiche: I think when you do a good job of bringing that type of content to the table, they really don’t care how it was acquired, or what went on with it. They’re just happy that they have the answers that they need to move forward.

John Jantsch: Okay, so on Google’s five point or five star scale, is there a perfect aggregate score that you should be aiming for? Here’s the genesis of my question, I mean you see these ones that a plumber, and I’m not picking on plumbers. But, 147 reviews, all five star. Do we believe that?

Aaron Weiche: Yeah, I definitely think small business owners and marketers, we fall victim to the perception of perfect. As a long time SEO industry friend of mine, Matt McGee once said, we don’t live in a five star world. I think it’s important for businesses as well. One study I cite a lot when I give talks is, Northwestern and PowerReviews did a study, and they actually found that 4.2 to 4.5 was the most trusted. That showed that you’re doing a great job, but you’re also not perfect. Because, just as you noted, when you see this large quantity of reviews and everyone has had this perfect experience, there is a part of you that says, “That seems a little bit too good to be true.” I think authenticity is a really big part of it, and I tell people all the time, don’t obsess on being perfect. Definitely focus on being great, consistently over and over again.

John Jantsch: Yeah, and I think because we all know people that, you can give them $100 bill, and they’d give you a three star review, you know? I mean, some people just won’t give anything five stars.

Aaron Weiche: Yep.

John Jantsch: I agree with that. Do you think that business owners, small business owners should get proactive? I mean, be asking every one of their customers for a review, or does that somehow taint it?

Aaron Weiche: I think more important than that is, you should be asking and understanding what your customer thinks. I get that Google reviews are so visible. I call them … right? They’re like sprinkles on the doughnut. They’re what attract you to the window, and get you to look up close, and have you thinking about it. But, I look at whatever your customer thinks about their experience with your business, how it went, that’s more important. Whether they tell Google, Facebook, TripAdvisor, or whether they tell you directly, you need to know what they think. Absolutely, you need to be proactive with that, because we’re all inundated with so many things to do, and things we forget, and whatever else. If you’re not taking control, and taking the time to ask that customer, and make it really easy for them to give you feedback and talk to you, then you are falling short in what you can do to understand that, and ultimately turn it into marketing power for you.

John Jantsch: Yeah, and I’m going to give you a little tip here, behind the scenes secret of something that I do.

Aaron Weiche: Ooh.

John Jantsch: We work with a lot of small business owners, one of the first things we want to do is match their message to their market. Guess what one of the best sources of information about what their message really should be, or what their unique difference is? A lot of times if somebody has a lot of glowing reviews from not just five stars and done, but like they wrote a paragraph about them, nine times out of 10 phrases and themes will come out of those reviews, that really do suggest, “Here’s what this business does that’s unique.” Or, “Here’s the problem this business really solves.” A lot of times we’ll build marketing campaigns around the content from their reviews.

Aaron Weiche: Yep, that’s absolutely perfect. I would take it a step further, I often tell people, do that research on your customer or your competitors reviews as well, right? Where are they driving these amazing experiences, and are you giving that same type of experience, or are you falling short and you need to change something? You’re right, reviews are a goldmine for what really makes a customer happy, and you need to make sure that you’re marketing and telling that story so that others desire to come have that same experience.

John Jantsch: I’ve worked with businesses over the years that have claimed, “Hey …” And we know, they have happy customers, they have repeat customers, they have advocates, but they can’t get them to write reviews. Is there something that actually tips somebody over the edge so that they’ll make that effort?

Aaron Weiche: Service all day long to me, is really the big one. We even see it within our own business, that they like our software, and they might write nice things about our software, but the minute that we are asking for feedback or a review after one of our support teams helps somebody solve something, or guides them in a direction, the response rate on that is through the roof.

Aaron Weiche: For a lot of businesses I always look at like what is that aha moment when you’re serving a customer, that you can see they’re really happy, you’ve solved a problem, you’ve relieved pressure, you’ve given that solution. That’s when you want to be prompting them, or letting them know how important a review is, or even them talking to you about the experiences, because they’re in that euphoria of what took place. That’s what I usually look to analyze with the business, and that’s the time you need to be asking.

Aaron Weiche: Secondarily, you just, you have to make it easy for them, right? Time is our biggest commodity, so if you can’t make it happen in a couple of easy clicks and in a really short interaction, you’re going to lose out. We all get these surveys in our inbox, right? You fly on an airline and they ask you to take a survey, and you get 30 questions in and you now, you liked that brand and now you’re like, “I really don’t like you. You’ve just stolen time from me within my day.”

John Jantsch: Just to let you know, this episode is brought to you by Break Through The Noise, the new book by Tim Staples. If you’re a marketer, an entrepreneur, or a small business owner and you have a limited budget to market to and connect with your customers, you need Breakthrough The Noise. Tim Staples shares the nine essential rules for mastering the art of online storytelling, and provides tools to help you outsmart the social media algorithms, increase your share of voice, and build your brand. Break Through The Noise by Tim Staples is on sale now wherever books are sold.

John Jantsch: Is there a proper moment in the customer experience to ask for reviews, feedbacks? Again, I know there’s no like one answer to that.

Aaron Weiche: Yeah.

John Jantsch: But, should the sales people, the technicians, the marketing people, I mean should everybody be doing it or is there a sort of proper sequence in your opinion?

Aaron Weiche: Yeah, well I think you hit upon what’s probably most important, and that it’s a human on your team asking, right? Even if you use an automated solution like ours, but that team member says, “Hey, just so you know, within the next day you’re going to get an email asking for some quick feedback and to write a review,” that’s build a relationship and saying like, “Hey, I provided you with great service. Will you repay that favor by giving us a review, or giving us feedback on our business?” We see that when that human ask is coupled with timing as close to the service as possible so that they haven’t forgotten about it, or missed details with it, or anything else. That’s really the winning combination, is that human ask as close to that service or experience.

John Jantsch: I know this will vary by lots of industries, but is there sort of a globally accepted kind of impact rating for star reviews? In other words, for every half a point, and again I’m just defaulting to Google because they have such an easy scale. But, like going from 3.5 to 4.2, does that have a measurable sort of percentage of impact of sales?

Aaron Weiche: Yeah, the one study that I know is probably quite old now was from Yelp, that they basically equated like a half star rating into what it would be for revenue within a restaurant. I can’t off the top of my head remember those numbers, but that’s the last really data driven study that I’ve seen on that.

Aaron Weiche: We tend to look at it a lot of times because we capture, and this is a whole ‘nother topic, but we capture net promoter score, which basically helps a business understand how likely that customer is to refer you. We just see a super strong correlation between those that are happy and willing to refer you, are also willing to give that digital referral, and write that review. We see it inside of that, and I think if you, over time, looked at businesses that have a high NPS and a high rating, you’re going to see them succeeding in their profit and loss and their sales, much more than anyone else.

John Jantsch: Well, and I know anecdotally, I mean when I’m traveling and I’m looking for a place to eat because I don’t have a recommendation, I mean there’s certainly judgements I make about if it’s under four or something, you know? I’m probably going to look elsewhere. I mean, I think a lot of people probably kind of operate in that same sort of vein.

Aaron Weiche: Yep.

John Jantsch:Do you think that there are demonstratively demographic trends to this? In other words, is a 30 year old only relying on reviews, where maybe a 60 year old is going to be asking somebody via email, or text, or something. Have you seen any? Those are just wild examples, but have you seen any correlation-

Aaron Weiche: Yep.

John Jantsch: …Demographically to the use of reviews, and their reliance on reviews?

Aaron Weiche: Yeah, what we have seen more is that evening out a lot more, and no surprise, right? When you have all of this information right in the palm of your hand in your smartphone, I think that’s really increased the access, and the amount of people wanting to rely on those things.

Aaron Weiche: Now, I think what we see more of happening is yes, a younger consumer, anywhere from 18 all the way up to 35, or even that next jump of 44, 45, they use it almost exclusively. Where, then when you trend into some of the olders, it’s going to balance out in some of the upper age brackets, where reviews are part of that consideration, but they still want some human referral, and maybe a few other sources to go along with it. Where, the younger you scale down, if I see it on the review site and I feel good about it, I’m good. I don’t need to ask any personal recommendations, or anything else.

John Jantsch: Let’s talk about the topic nobody wants to address, what percentage of reviews do you think are just blatant spam?

Aaron Weiche: I don’t know if I can give you a number, but I can tell you, too high, too high of a number. This is definitely a critical thing facing the industry as an overall, right? Google has really jumped leaps and bounds, multiples above how many reviews any other review site has. But, in doing so, anytime you go all in on quantity, quality suffers, and they have very little, and there’s been a lot more coming to the surface on fake reviews, bot reviews, all of these different combinations of spam reviews.

Aaron Weiche: We’re hoping in work in this industry, and we want its authenticity to play out, and have longevity, that something needs to be done there. Then, you even have on the other side, Yelp which is very polarizing for small businesses. They have something in place, right? But, they also, it’s so secretive to how they filter out reviews and things like that, that also causes distrust. We actually have both sides of the coin right now. We have somebody whose paying so much attention, and trying to make sure that only the best reviews from trustworthy people and whatever else are the ones that are showing, but they go so far to extreme that people don’t trust how they’re surfacing the results.

Aaron Weiche: Then, on the other side we have somebody who it’s such an open floodgate with so little being done, that when you start digging into a lot of things, that can cause a lot of distrust. It’s definitely probably at least at a five, 10%, maybe even more mark, which I think is just a shame considering the firepower that these companies have, to actually institute some pretty basic things, or just be more transparent on what they are doing with it.

John Jantsch: I loved your qualifiers in there, you said definitely, probably, maybe, at least five percent, I think is what you said. Not to pick on them too much because everybody else has, but Yelp sort of brought some of that on themselves, I think, in terms of marrying the selling of advertising with a review process. A more cynical person than I might suggest that there’s some things that are not so right there, but I know you have to be nice, you have to play nice because you don’t want them mad at you.

John Jantsch: Let’s talk about responding to reviews. What’s your take on that? Should every review you respond to, what’s your take?

Aaron Weiche: My personal take is, especially for a small business, absolutely do that, for a couple of different reasons. One, for the next customer that’s researching and looking to do business with you, it sends a strong signal that you’re listening, you pay attention, and you care to respond to your customers. It makes them envision how they’re going to be treated with you, respectfully. That, you’re going to listen to their needs, both online and off, and it’s a really good trust signal.

Aaron Weiche: Secondarily, when you do this through most platforms, it’s going to email and alert that customer that you’ve responded, so it’s another customer touchpoint, you’re thanking them for taking the time to write that review. All great things, and maximize those touchpoints with your customers, and let everyone see that you’re interactive with your customer base.

Aaron Weiche: Now, that grows exponentially when it’s a critical, or a bad review. You want to first respond to that customer and try to save that relationship, let them know you’re listening. Own the problem. Nobody wants to hear, “Well we were short staffed, the basement flooded,” yada, yada, yada. All they want to know is that if they ever came back again, they wouldn’t have this same poor experience, and that you care, you’re doing something to solve it, and you’re owning it.

Aaron Weiche: After that, you also…solving it for that person, you want to make sure that those next customers also see like yeah, they’re not perfect, but if something does go wrong they listen, they’re reasonable, they’re respectful, and they try to make it right. At the end of the day, that’s what most consumers want, is that confidence that if something does go wrong, they will be treated well, and the business will try to make it right with them.

John Jantsch:  Yeah, I have…obviously business owners get emotional about a negative review, particularly, “Well, that customer was unreasonable,” they just want to fire off their response to that person. I always tell them, write your response not to that person, write your response to the public, because that’s who’s going to see it.

Aaron Weiche: Yeah.

John Jantsch: I think that’s a good way to approach it, but it’s also, it’s, “Hey, they’re saying bad things about my business. How dare they.” It’s hard to take the emotion out of those, isn’t it?

Aaron Weiche: It totally is. I always tell people, because I do this for myself. I put myself in an emotional timeout when that comes in. Step away from the keyboard, let the emotion wear off, reread it for the facts that are there on what went wrong. The wait was too long, the food was cold, an expectation wasn’t met. Whatever that is, and then yeah, great point. Write it that way.

Aaron Weiche: I always tell people, write it, and then read it out loud, right? What does it sound like when you read it out loud to yourself, or to someone else? I also tell people, it’s not the emergency situation you feel like it is, because when you get a bad review, you suddenly think the entire world is reading that one star review that’s out there, and that’s not the case. You’re better off taking time to compose the right type of response, editing it multiple times, getting other people to weigh in on it, and two days later posting the right response, than you are rushing, being emotional, saying the wrong thing, and causing even more things to go wrong than what already went wrong with that review.

John Jantsch: I think we can all agree the social proof aspect of reviews, I mean I go there, I look them up, and they’ve got 25 reviews, and they all seem really good. What in your opinion is the SEO value of reviews?

Aaron Weiche: Yeah, I think really big value because, just as you pointed out, there’s kind of this content goldmine in there, especially when you’re providing a great experience and service, and that customer’s going to write about it. They’re writing from … in marketing, right? It’s always write from the persona of your customer. To me the big win here, is this is persona generated content. Let’s say I’m planning a trip for my family, I have four kids going to Disney World. I’m on TripAdvisor reading reviews on a hotel. Well, the minute I see someone else talk about that they have four or five kids, the same boatload that I have, and I start looking into how they spent their time, and what they did, and did the place they stay have all the amenities they want. I start to identify with that, I have met my equal persona.

Aaron Weiche: I just think that’s so important for a business to understand, that we all write great things about ourselves and our copy, how we’re the best, and the greatest, and an awesome staff, and all these other things. But, reviewers I think, they speak the language of the average consumer because they’re not trying to sell something, they’re just sharing what their experience was. I think that’s such a win, when the consumer can consume that.

Aaron Weiche: On the flip side for Google when they see that, that consumer is likely using keywords about the business, locations about the business, the types of terms a searcher is going to type in as well, and you’re bringing all of this additional content to a page that you wrote 300 words about your business. Well, if you bring in 30 words … or, 30 reviews about it, you might double the amount of content that’s talking about your service product, or your business.

John Jantsch: Aaron, we could talk all day about this, but better wrap it up and tell people where they can go to find out more about GatherUp, and the various services that you offer small business owners?

Aaron Weiche: Absolutely. If you visit you can get a very detailed look at what we do, what our feature set is, case studies of businesses that we’ve worked with, our blog is very active, we share a lot of knowledge from the reputation and review space. We always invite you to come in and be able to learn from all of that.

John Jantsch: Awesome. Well, thanks for dropping by, Aaron. Hopefully we’ll run into you some day soon out there on the road.

Aaron Weiche: I appreciate it, John. Thank you.

Why Reviews Matter to Your Business

Why Reviews Matter to Your Business written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with Aaron Weiche
Podcast Transcript

Aaron Weiche headshot

My guest on today’s episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is Aaron Weiche, CEO of GatherUp. GatherUp is a platform that helps businesses capture customer feedback, testimonials and reviews.

Prior to joining GatherUp, Weiche worked for 20 years in digital marketing, most recently as COO of Spyder Trap, a digital agency based in Minneapolis. He speaks nationally about search marketing, web design, and reputation management.

On this episode, we discuss Weiche’s work with GatherUp, and he shares everything small business owners need to know about soliciting reviews, and monitoring and managing their online reputation.

Questions I ask Aaron Weiche:

  • Do reviews matter in every industry?
  • Do consumers understand the difference between first-party and third-party reviews?
  • What drives a happy customer to take that extra step and write a review?

What you’ll learn if you give a listen:

  • Why depth of information matters more than the source of the review.
  • How small business owners should respond to reviews.
  • How reviews play into a business’s SEO.

Key takeaways from the episode and more about Aaron Weiche:

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

Break Through the Noise book coverThis episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by Break Through the Noise, the new book from Tim Staples. Staples is the co-founder and CEO of Shareability, a company that uses content, data and technology to drive explosive growth for major brands like AT&T, Hyatt, and the Olympics and major celebrities like Cristiano Ronaldo, John Cena and Leonardo DiCaprio.

In this book, Staples shares his nine-step approach that anyone can use to launch their product or service, capturing the attention of millions of people online, without having to spend millions of dollars.

Learn more about the book and order your copy here!


How to Put Together An Effective Remarketing Strategy

How to Put Together An Effective Remarketing Strategy written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Remarketing is an incredible marketing tool. Before the days of the internet, if someone came into your store, browsed, even picked up and really considered a product, but then left without purchasing, there was no way to guarantee you’d ever see them again.

However, remarketing allows you to reach out to those prospects who are on the fence. When someone browses your website but doesn’t convert, it’s now possible for you to pop up again in their field of vision through the power of remarketing! You can target them with your advertising on other websites, and hopefully staying top of mind will eventually lead to that much-desired conversion.

This already sounds like a pretty great marketing tactic, right? It is, but there are ways to build a remarketing strategy that can take your efforts to the next level and get even more conversions from interested prospects. Here’s how you do it.

1. Set Goals

As with any great marketing campaign, an effective remarketing strategy starts with goal setting. What are you trying to do with these ads? This will depend on the kind of business you run. If yours is an e-commerce shop, selling relatively inexpensive items, you might be looking to get someone to make a purchase.

However, for those who run businesses with longer sales cycles—for example, a B2B consulting firm—your ideal conversion might not be a sale. Instead, it might be getting someone to give their email in exchange for access to a free ebook.

No matter what kind of business you run, it makes sense to set really specific goals for each remarketing campaign. Rather than creating one ad that you hope will serve various audiences, it’s best to establish a handful of specific goals and then create different ads that speak to each goal.

2. Decide Where You Want to Advertise

Remarketing can be done via search engines like Google or through social media sites like Facebook. Once you’ve established your goals, you can begin to think about which platforms make the most sense for your ads.

The major benefit to advertising on social media is that you are likely to get likes, shares, comments, and reposts from interested people (and since you’re retargeting your messaging to those who have already been to your website, you know they’re already interested in your brand!). Search engine marketing, however, will follow your customers across any websites that are ad partners with the search engine you do business with. This means that your audience will be greeted with your advertising across the web, not just on the social media site you’ve selected.

There’s no need to limit yourself to one platform. There’s often a huge benefit to being seen multiple times by your audience. Most people need to see a brand seven times before they decide to engage with them, so the more times you can get your name in someone’s field of vision, the better.

3. Define Your Audience

Once you’ve come up with your set of goals, you can begin to define and segment your audience. Let’s say you own a clothing store that has both a brick and mortar and e-commerce presence. There are a number of ways, then, that you can and should break down your audience.

You can segment and target based on location. For those people who have visited your website and live within a certain radius of your store, you can target them with advertising about your brick and mortar location. These ads, of course, are not relevant to people living on the other side of the country, so those folks should instead be targeted with advertising specific to your e-commerce offerings.

Those who have visited your store and browsed your men’s clothing options, you can retarget with messaging specific to your menswear options (and you can target those interested in women’s clothing with those offerings). You can even retarget customers who have taken specific actions on your website. For example, you can set your campaign to only show to customers who have put items into their cart on your site and then navigated away without completing the purchase.

The goals you set for each campaign will inherently be aligned with a specific audience. Defining the audience for your campaign early on ensures that your advertising is only being shown to the most relevant people, meaning you’ll get the greatest ROI on your campaign.

4. Set Your Creative

Once you’ve set goals and decided on your target audience, it’s time to settle on your creative. A huge part of creating great content is understanding your audience and speaking to them in your brand’s voice and tone.

There are also tools that help you to optimize your approach when it comes to content. If you’re running your remarketing campaign through Google, you can use responsive ads. With responsive ads, you input your various creative elements—different headlines, copy, and images—and Google runs them in various combinations so that they can learn which ones are most effective. From there, they’ll run the best-performing ads on your behalf, to give your ads the greatest shot at success.

5. Run Your Ads and Track Results

The final step is to get your ads up and running! Fortunately, advertising platforms provide detailed analytics so that you can accurately measure the results of your campaigns. The analytics allow you to measure engagement and conversions on each ad. Armed with this information, you can tweak your strategy as you go.

If there are certain ads that aren’t doing well, consider changing up the creative. If there are certain websites where retargeting is not effective, you can ask that Google not show your advertising on those sites any longer. Being willing to pivot and change tactics along the way is a huge part of finding long-term success with your retargeting efforts.

Remarketing is an incredible opportunity for you to recapture the attention of consumers who have already shown interest in your brand. When you take things step-by-step and develop a real strategy for reaching out to various segments of your audience, you can create campaigns with a great ROI.

Weekend Favs July 27

Weekend Favs July 27 written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

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.

  • MorphL – Quickly predict search intent for any user queries using AI.
  • Lead Generator – See who’s visiting your website to generate leads.
  • Noto – Email yourself reminders with one click.

These are my weekend favs, I would love to hear about some of yours – Tweet me @ducttape

To Niche, or Not to Niche in Your Business?

Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch on To Niche, or Not to Niche in Your Business?

There’s a big movement today of people selling advice, programs, and courses about how to build your business that all sound like this: “Find a niche, run Facebook ads to this niche. Then become specialized, and get rich.”

While I won’t go as far as to call this a marketing scam, I will say that I think it’s bad advice. Here’s why I think it’s not a great way to get started on your entrepreneurial journey.

You Get Boxed In

When you’re just starting out, how can you possibly know what it is that you really want from your business? This obsession with finding your niche before you get going will keep you from experimenting and testing. You become focused on a very specific client from the get-go, and are unwilling to think beyond this narrow profile.

However, as time goes on and you start to actually run your business, you may discover that you don’t like working with that very narrow audience you’ve selected for yourself. The tough thing is that once you’ve gone all in with targeting and marketing to a small subset of the population, it’s tougher to pivot and broaden your approach. It’s usually easier to get more specific in your focus as time goes on, rather than to start hyper-focused and move outward.

You Stop Up Your Creativity

The other major risk to defining your niche too early is that you can stifle your creativity. When you only work with a narrow segment of the population, it’s easy to fall into the trap of offering cookie-cutter advice. While your suggestions may be useful to the businesses you consult for, it’s not a whole lot of fun for you.

I find that a lot of the fun of the entrepreneurial journey is constantly getting to try and learn new things. Getting to understand new industries, tackling new problems, and finding new challenges and solutions along the way is all part of the excitement!

Why Do People Fall for the Niche Approach?

There is certainly some validity to the concept of finding and leaning into your niche. For lots of entrepreneurs, particularly those working in B2B industries, you’ll encounter clients who want to work with people who have worked with similar companies. Those clients want the assurance that you already understand their industry and have a proven track record helping other businesses like them, so there are some pros to understanding a niche.

But there are some real cons to it, too. Sometimes getting too entrenched in just one industry keeps you from considering new, innovative ideas from the outside. I find that working across industries invites a cross-pollination of ideas and strategy—sometimes I’ll see something happening in one industry that inspires me to think differently about a challenge a client in an entirely different field is facing.

Share Your Point of View

To attract ideal clients, you don’t want to pigeonhole yourself with a niche, but you can’t just leave it to fate, either. Rather than doing either of those things, start by defining your point of view.

In the case of Duct Tape Marketing, our point of view is that marketing is a system. This is a simple tenet that we live by, and it’s at the core of all the products we offer, decisions we make, and advice we give to clients.

While it’s not a hard point of view to get behind, it is one that differs from what the majority of marketers say. This unique point of view allows us to attract customers who are interested in this way of thinking, rather than those who are obsessed with finding a marketing firm that knows their industry inside and out.

Identify Your Ideal Client

Sharing your point of view will help to attract clients with the right mindset to your business. When you’re first starting out, you can’t go in with a rigid concept of your ideal client. Until you’ve done some work, you won’t know the types of problems you want to solve and types of people you like to work with.

Once you’ve gotten good results for a client in a specific industry, chances are other businesses from that industry will reach out, too. Either they’ll get referred by your original client, or they’ll see work on your website and be attracted to you because they feel you know their industry. But as you begin to build up a roster of clients, that’s when you can start to take control and make decisions about who you want to partner with in the long term.

With time, your business will change. You will change. Your capacity to do certain types of work will change. It’s better to learn as you’re going rather than to enter into things with a set outcome in mind.

Focus on Behavior

When you start to undertake the work of defining your ideal client, behaviors matter more than demographics.

For me, I like to focus on business owners who have the mentality of investing in and giving back to their community. The business owners who I most enjoy working with are those who are engaged in their communities and do work to lift those groups up. Perhaps they participate in industry boards or are involved in relevant nonprofits.

I’ve discovered over the years that there’s a link between the behavior of giving back to the community and the mentality of wanting to invest in professional services. Business owners who understand the importance of investing in their community also see the value of investing in services like marketing. So rather than looking at demographics, I look for this behavior that indicates a certain mindset of the type of client I most enjoy working with.

Once you understand who your ideal customer is, that’s when you can start saying no to those who don’t fit that profile. And when you start saying no to clients who don’t make sense for you and your business, you will organically fall into your own niche. The idea that you need to start by identifying your niche is poor advice; in fact, I think it’s the exact other way around!

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