Monthly Archives: October 2021

Weekend Favs October 23

Weekend Favs October 23 written by Karen Cutler 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.

  • Proofhub – plan, collaborate, organize and deliver projects of all sizes, on time with one project planning software
  • Sparkloop – a referral tool for newsletter growth
  • Palitra – a tool to find a color palette

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

The Secret To Making The Hard Sell Easy

The Secret To Making The Hard Sell Easy written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with Tom Stanfill

In this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I interview Tom Stanfill. Tom is CEO and co-founder of ASLAN Training, a global sales enablement company appearing nine consecutive years in the Selling Power Top 20. Since 1996, ASLAN has worked with many Fortune 500 companies, training more than 100,000 sellers and leaders in over 35 countries. Tom is also the author of a book called unReceptive: A Better Way to Lead, Sell & Influence – launching in November 2021.

Key Takeaway:

Today, people are distracted, overwhelmed, and isolated – because of this, there’s been a massive decline in receptivity to another sales pitch, call, or email. And the harder you try to sell, the greater people tend to resist.

In this episode, I talk with CEO and co-founder of ASLAN Training, Tom Stanfill, about his new book – unReceptive:A Better Way to Lead, Sell & Influence. He shares why the receptivity of an audience is far more important than the power of the message, and offers a solution that is a sharp contrast to traditional approaches to selling.

Questions I ask Tom Stanfill:

  • [2:05] Could you talk a little bit about how you’re using the title of your book ‘unReceptive’ in the context of selling?
  • [4:14] Does the value proposition go out the window if a customer is not receptive?
  • [5:21] What role does marketing play in making a salesforce more receptive?
  • [6:24] I get a lot of pitches today essentially cold calls in some form. The challenge is that even if they are trying to solve problems I have – one in 25 of those may be the answer to my prayers – but I don’t have time to figure out if that’s the case. How do you become that one solution and how do you clearly become that one in 25?
  • [7:39] You mentioned the idea of what’s on their whiteboard – How do I get a peek at that, and how do I know what’s on their whiteboard?
  • [11:31] Does a typical salesperson have to be a higher-level thinker?
  • [14:19] How important does listening become?
  • [16:08] How different is virtual selling from selling face-to-face?
  • [17:51] How hard is it to learn this approach, convert the unreceptive?
  • [21:28] Where can people find out more about your new book unRecepitive and the work you’re doing with sales folks?

More About Tom Stanfill:

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John Jantsch (00:00): This episode of the duct tape marketing podcast is brought to you by the MarTech podcast, hosted by Benjamin Shapiro, brought to you by the HubSpot podcast network. Ben’s episodes are so awesome. They’re under 30 minutes. They share stories with world-class marketers who use technology to generate growth and achieve business and career success. Ben is a great host. I’ve been on his show. He’s been on my show. He always really digs down and gives you actionable stuff that you can take away and do. And he’s always bringing up new stuff. The science of advertising, how to figure out what to automate, just things that marketers are wrestling with today. Check it out. It’s the MarTech podcast. Find it wherever you listen to your podcasts.

John Jantsch (00:52): Hello, and welcome to another episode of the duct tape marketing podcast. This is John Jantsch. My guest today is Tom Stanfill. He’s the CEO and co-founder of ASLAN training, a global sales enablement company appearing nine consecutive years in the selling power. Top 20, since 1996, ASLAN has worked with many fortune 500 companies training more than 100,000 sellers and leaders all over in 35 countries. Actually, he’s also the author all over the world. Well, I use, I probably gotta be the same thing. He’s also the author of unreceptive, a better way to lead, sell and influence. So a welcome to this.

Tom Stanfill (01:34): Thank you, John. I was very excited to join your podcast after I know you’re a prolific author and those excited to meet you. So thanks for having me on.

John Jantsch (01:42): So some people in listening to the intro might think this is the guy that’s trained a hundred thousand sellers. So we have him to blame, huh. But,

Tom Stanfill (01:50): And to solve that problem, one of our biggest clients, Merck actually agreed to endorse the book because they want their customers to know that they sell differently, but they’re focused more on serving themselves. We are trying to change the way people sell.

John Jantsch (02:06): Uh, a big idea. I think that you’re trying to propose in this book, it’s certainly contained in the title itself. Unreceptive. I wonder if you could talk a little bit about how you’re using that in the context of selling just as really our main line definition for now.

Tom Stanfill (02:22): Yes, it’s, it’s a problem that’s been growing rapidly over the last probably decade is that as the tsunami of information that we’re customers are receiving, they’re just getting overwhelmed. I think the increase has been five X in the last couple of decades. And as information, the exposure of information, the customer’s receptivity has continued to decline. And so we keep developing new and better techniques to try to win the customer over. But it only works on this shrinking group of people who are open to what you’re talking about, who are looking for your solution, where customers are now moving more and more to the internet, the information is available to them and they don’t want to talk to sales reps. So Kenzie did a study recently that said the number of customers who want to talk to sellers when evaluating a solution has dropped 120% last three years. So receptivity is on the decline. And here’s the thing that was the main premise of the book selling doesn’t work when you’re talking to people that are emotionally unreceptive actually backfires.

John Jantsch (03:24): Yeah. And I do want to get into that, but let’s talk about what we mean by selling to is this idea of receptivity before I’m even going to take a phone call or an email or even talk to you, has to be done or does it also carry through to do I trust you enough to make you my solution provider? Is it every step below

Tom Stanfill (03:43): Every step, along the way from the moment you reach out, either via email, the first sentence you write to all the way down to the, obviously to the end of the sales process, where you’re trying to ultimately win an opportunity receptivity, she continue to build. And if it doesn’t, you’re not going to. And so the traditional approach where people are just learning to make their business case and learning to communicate their value prop and learning to differentiate their solution, all of those things are really good. But if the customer is not receptive, it just doesn’t work.

John Jantsch (04:13): So does the value proposition go out the window? Do we not have to have that? Or are you just saying, you’re not going to give, you’re not going to get the chance to actually communicate it if you’re not receiving

Tom Stanfill (04:23): Or they won’t believe you. Yeah, probably the best way to think of it as it is this way is there’s two dimensions of selling those. The customers that is the soil has to be fertile. I talk about it as the seed versus the soil. If a farmer wants to grow a vibrant crop or successful crop, they start with the soil. The soil is not fertile. Then the seed doesn’t matter. And the same is true with the customer. If the customer is not receptive, then your message, the seed doesn’t matter. So your message being the value prop will never be received or been planted if you will, and braced, if the customer’s not receptive. And so we’re all about how do we create a fertile soil? And then at the same time we want to enhance the way we deliver our message. So that’s really the main point of the book. And we just talk about how do you continue to create a fertile soil and develop, develop that perceptivity all the way to the close. And the other thing is you could also have a receptive customer and you could lose the receptivity by how you interact with them.

John Jantsch (05:19): Sure. So let me ask you this. What role does marketing play in making a Salesforce more?

Tom Stanfill (05:25): It was a good point. You talk about sales. A lot of salespeople aren’t receptive to selling because they don’t, they know they’re going to get rejected. They know that the typical approach isn’t going to work and marketing plays a role in that. But the main thing we work with marketing on is how to change, how they’re delivering their message. So the best way to get the attention of the customer prospect is to talk about what’s on their whiteboard and not talk about your solution. We’re constantly teaching sellers about the solution. We want you to sell more of a certain solution. We want you to get more meetings. We want to expand your footprint in the account. We want to move from selling this to selling that. So what does sellers lead with? They lead with their solution. Marketing talks about all the benefits of the solution. What’s unique about this, and that’s all really good, but to create the fertile soil or receptivity, you need a first lead with what’s on the decision-makers whiteboard. If you want to get the decision-makers attention, you need to talk about something that’s on their whiteboard. And so that’s where we start with marketing is how do we reposition the messaging in a way that the customer embraces it?

John Jantsch (06:25): So I get ’em as I’m sure most people do. I get all manner of pitches today, essentially cold calls, some in the form of email, LinkedIn requests and the challenge. I think somebody like myself and certainly most people, even if they are trying to solve problems have is that one in 25 of those, maybe the answer to my prayers, but I don’t have time to figure out if that’s the case. So, you know, so I’m guessing in a lot of ways, what you’re suggesting is how do you become that one and how do you clearly become that one in 25?

Tom Stanfill (06:58): Exactly. Or maybe let’s say the 25 or reaching out to you. And actually you may need the services of five, but you’re right. Rejected four of those five and only listened to the one because of the way they delivered the message. But yes, that’s ultimately is what we want to do is we want to describe the problems the customer has. And if we can change the way we communicate, because all they’re doing is they’re deleting the metal less than 2% of the emails were even red. So we’re just the people we’re just deleting the messages. We’re not getting our messages through. So like an it company reaches out and says, Hey, I have it services. And so they start talking about their it services versus they need to talk about what is the problem that you have that ultimately will lead them to the it service or the solution that they offer.

John Jantsch (07:38): So how does, you mentioned that the idea of what’s on their whiteboard, how do I get a peak at that? How do I know what’s on their

Tom Stanfill (07:44): Great, great question. If it’s a very strategic account and for a seller, who’s calling on a company that they obviously it’s worth investing the time they need to, they need to do a little bit of research before they reach out to the decision maker, or at least the person they think is a decision maker and gain that insight. And so they versus guessing if it’s not a strategic account, they need to look at the profile of the people they serve. If you’re serving a VP of manufacturing, there’s only three or four things that are on the VP of manufacturing whiteboard. And if you get to know and understand that profile and become a student, you can get either way, you’ve got to lead with something that’s important to them.

John Jantsch (08:23): Yeah. And I think one of the things that just always I scratch my head is that a lot of people are taking stuff that’s on their whiteboard and they’re putting it on LinkedIn and Facebook and other places, and clearly sending signals up. And it just always amazes me when people don’t take the time to at least familiarize themselves, even vaguely with what might be.

Tom Stanfill (08:44): And I think that comes from the idea that we start we talked about at the beginning of the podcast is because the market’s shrinking, they’re speeding up and trying to send more messages instead of changing what they’re doing. They just have to send more messages. So you’ve got to work harder. Similar messages spend less time and are the premise of the book is if you’ll stop and study your customers and prospects and learn more about them and change your approach, you’re going to, you’re going to open up your market and you’re going to be more successful. And we’ve tested this. We’ve, there’s actually three elements to how you position a meeting. We’re talking about that element of the sales process. I’m trying to get a meeting and prospecting. There’s really three elements of effectively position, a meeting we started. We talked about you first want to lead with their point of view.

Tom Stanfill (09:29): It’s just another way of saying their whiteboard. And then you want to communicate disruptive truth, something, an unknown truth or unknown principle or unknown stat about a better way to solve their problems. And that’s one of the reasons also the decision makers aren’t meeting with sellers because they feel like they have nothing to say, but you have nothing to say. I don’t real decision makers. Don’t meet with sales reps because they’re just going to represent their info, their products. And they go, I can get, I get that information from the internet, or I can get somebody else to get that information, but you can’t really help me solve a problem. You can’t lead me cause you don’t know where to take me. And so by communicating a disruptive truth, you’re demonstrating that you’re, you’ve got some thought leadership and you’re worth following. And then the last is what unique what’s what do you offer that unique?

Tom Stanfill (10:14): What’s we call it proprietary benefit. What’s the thing that you own that can, did you do differently than everything else. And it might be how you do it. It may be what you do, but what do you do? That’s different. And I’ve had some emails that sometimes I get up that are very effective, like from marketing firms. And they’ll say we can generate leads for you. And they’ll describe my problem. Like great. And then they’ll communicate maybe something a little bit disruptive or a little bit that they can do about how to better generate leads, but then they don’t tell me what they do differently. Right? And so I read it, but I don’t engage all of this to say, when those three elements are together, we’ve tested it. And we’ve seen a 366% increase in response rates where people will respond.

John Jantsch (10:57): So, so does this necessarily change how a sales person has to not just prepare, but if somebody’s going to be able to, in some ways, challenge somebody with a strategic question, perhaps that they’re not even thinking about. Cause what, to me, what are the most successful things somebody can do is help me understand a problem. I don’t really understand fully that I have, but that doesn’t that right off the bat being a typical salesperson has to be, I’m struggling with how to propose this question. You’re not necessarily smarter, but they just have to be a higher level of thinker. Don’t they?

Tom Stanfill (11:35): I don’t know if they really have to be smarter. Here’s the thing that a sales person has anybody they’re calling on, or maybe a resource that they have that everybody they’re calling doesn’t have. If you’re a typical sales rep, how many decision makers are you talking to your customers? You’re talking to in a month, if you just ask one or two questions every month, it’s everybody you talk to and you just focused on learning from them. And what do most people don’t know about a better way to solve their problem. And you started to share that you would be somebody worth following.

John Jantsch (12:10): You’d have the playbook. Wouldn’t you have

Tom Stanfill (12:12): A playbook. If you said, look, what’s on your whiteboard. If I’m talking to anybody, I’m calling it as if I were selling to you, John, and as a consultant author, you have a whiteboard. And every time I talked to you, I talked to 50 authors and marketing experts and consultants. You would have a problem and you would have a whiteboard. And I would see that there are three or four things. And then I would how’d you fix that problem? And then I would learn, okay, most people don’t know that. And so then I would start sharing that knowledge. And so really sellers need to be more of a decider of information, distill it down and then share it. They’re too focused, typically on the pro on the solution that they offer. And that’s, what’s on their whiteboard and what are the talking points because that’s their comfort level. And again, they’re trying to speed up the number of messages they sent. Here’s my email. I’ve got my email and I just gotta write it on changing names. Let me put on a couple of things. I’ll send more and more of those. And it’s just like,

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John Jantsch (14:17): I think I know the answer to this, but I’m going to tee it up for you. How important is listening then become?

Tom Stanfill (14:22): Yeah, so really receptivity starts reels receptivity starts in discovery by validating the customer decision makers point of view. Once you get the meeting, you’re going to have more influence by articulating and validating their point of view than what you say when you really know how, what we call, take the trip and leave our point of view, which we’re comfortable with. We understand our point of view because when you’re influencing, there’s always two points of view. Are there otherwise you’re not influenced. Influencing means you want to change belief. Most people think of selling is kind of relationship management or fulfillment, but if you’re really going to create demand and you’re going to influence people and change the way they see the world and influence them on book, changing, how they’re planning on doing something, there’s going to be two points of view, their point of view and your point of view.

Tom Stanfill (15:07): And if you can leave your point of view and take the trip and see their point of view, we call it and think of it as there’s two, you think of one person’s on the north pole and the other person’s on the south pole. So you have these two kind of polarized points of view. If you can leave your position, take the trip and articulate their point of view. And they say exactly, you know, John, here’s what I understand. You’re saying that this is what’s important to you. And this is what’s unique about your organization, unique about your challenges. And then you say exactly, that’s when influence begins and then they will take the trip and see your point of view. Or you may find out actually, I really can’t help them. And that’s fine.

John Jantsch (15:47): Traditionally, a great bit of receptivity happens. Face-to-face because we connect somehow. And my dad was a bag carrying salesperson all his life. I remember him used to say, he’d walk in an office and he’d see pictures of the kids. He’d see the golf trophy. He had all these connection things right now that we’re doing this in zoom meetings and email and how, how different is virtual selling than face-to-face.

Tom Stanfill (16:12): Yeah, it is much more difficult to create that intimacy virtually than it does. You know, that had happens face to face. There’s a lot more immediate trust and relationship typically. But if you’re eye to eye, I was thinking about driving car and how you interact with people on the highway versus how you interact with them, that you’re standing in line next to them. So there’s definitely a different level of intimacy. And we’ve recognized there’s about five main barriers to selling virtually. And that’s actually something we talk about in the book. If you can address the receptivity challenges, you can do it. It works either where you’re face-to-face or over the phone, honestly, or virtual meeting, like a lot of the things that you do to create receptivity, like taking the trip and validating their point of view. You have to be better at asking questions.

Tom Stanfill (16:57): You have to be better at responding. You have to be better at reducing pressure. You’ve got to be better at how you articulated position your either your recommendation. So all those advanced skills are required virtually and they may not be required. Face-to-face for example, if you’re in discovery, one of the most difficult things is to uncover the truth. It’s like to get people to really tell you what their informal decision drivers like. Here’s what I really care about. Not the formal stuff that they tell everybody, but the stuff they lean in and say, okay, really, really don’t know what we’re doing. And I know I had a decision-maker tell me that he goes, I’m not a really, I’m not going to be a good buyer here and I’m not going to be go shape very well. I just come to tell you, it’s almost like I’m going to quit this adversarial relationship. I’m just going to open up and that’s what we ultimately want to happen. And that’s more about how you ask questions and how you respond. And if you can, that well virtually you can do it anywhere. Yeah.

John Jantsch (17:53): So as I listen to you talk about the things you have to get better at to be more receptive as a sales person. I’m wondering if this may be actually could just be a great communication skill, a way of life. I think even write about it in a book. How, how have you presented that idea, particularly as you start working within training, maybe in some cases, some unreceptive groups of salespeople, how do you get them to use that as a lever to say this would make you a better person as well as a better?

Tom Stanfill (18:22): Yeah. I love that question. We always start a session off workshop offers. There’s nothing more important than your relationships, right? You’re never happier than your relationship. So everything we teach in our workshops and in this book is also improved your relationship. My ability to take the trip with my wife and have the oh moment and go, oh, that’s why you feel this way and feed it back to her. And she says, exactly, that improves my relationship. That creates intimacy. That creates empathy in me. My, my ability to make a decision about who’s first, because here’s, that’s a simple thing. Like the decision you make before every meeting ultimately determines what’s going to happen in the meeting, because either you are the most important person in the room, you’re the hero of the story or I’m the hero of the story. That’s always true. So stopping and deciding if I’m going to be what I call other Senator self-centered drives our relationship.

Tom Stanfill (19:18): And so all of the things that we talk about in the book, except for some things like how to handle rejection objections and things like that, practical models, almost all the principles apply to our relationship and our personal life. So matter of fact, one of the things we say is what works in life works here is that if you don’t apply it at home, it won’t actually work at work. You can’t turn it on, turn it off. There is no on and off switch to being effective at interpersonal relationships and effective and influence and the most influential people do it all the time. Yeah. Yeah. That’s very important. Like I was washing the dishes the other day that I’d worked a 17 hour. It was a 17, 14 hour day and we had some people over and I just was watching the dishes cause I was just wanting to help.

Tom Stanfill (20:01): And my wife had worked hard to nail all that stuff. And a lot of times I cook, we share, but I was watching the dishes and I found myself wanting to be appreciate, Hey, I’m washing the dishes after this long day. Do you appreciate me? And I remember thinking, that’s the worst way to get somebody to appreciate you is to tell them to appreciate you. So that’s a concept we talk about in the book about dropping the rope instead of pulling the rope and trying to force people to do things. But when I dropped the rope, she’s the open and free to be able to communicate to me whether she appreciates me or not. And so it’s the best way possible for us to have a relationship versus controlling and trying to get her to do something. And that enhances our relationship. There’s a personal example for you.

John Jantsch (20:43): Yeah, no, that’s awesome. And while a lot of, I think there are people that are naturally more receptive and they guess what, they’re probably better salespeople, but what I’m hearing you say of course, is that you can teach this, but it has to actually become a life skill and not just a workout.

Tom Stanfill (20:59): Yes. Yeah. It can. It can not also speaks to motive. If I’m trying to learn these things, just to manipulate other people, it will backfire because motive is ultimately transparent. And so if you’re, we all know when someone’s working. So they like, well give me these tools and these cool techniques so that I can then go leverage them to manipulate. But if it becomes who you really are, it’s going to work in life. It’s going to work in your personal life and at work.

John Jantsch (21:25): Awesome. Thanks for something by the duct tape marketing podcast, tell people where they can find out more about unreceptive and the work that you are doing with sales folks,

Tom Stanfill (21:33): Beautiful or the best way to check out the book is unreceptive book.com. That’s got all the information either about the book and of course you can buy it on Amazon or any place the books are sold. It doesn’t come out until the 9th of November. So

John Jantsch (21:50): Kind of point when you’re listening to this, yeah, it will be available November 9th, anywhere you want to send them to learn about your work.

Tom Stanfill (21:57): As on training.com, Azlan our organization’s looking for sales training and wants to improve an organization’s ability to get more meetings, convert, more prospects or grow accounts, go to Ashlyn training.com. Awesome,

John Jantsch (22:13): Tom. It was great to catch up with you. Hopefully we’ll see you one of these days out there on the road.

Tom Stanfill (22:17): Thanks John.

John Jantsch (22:18): All right. That wraps up another episode of the duct tape marketing podcast. I want to thank you so much for tuning in. Feel free to share this show. Feel free to give us reviews. You know, we love those things. Also. Did you know that we had created training, marketing training for your team? If you’ve got employees, if you’ve got a staff member that wants to learn a marketing system, how to install that marketing system in your business, check it out. It’s called the certified marketing manager program from duct tape marketing. You can find it at duct tape, marketing.com and just scroll down a little and find that tab that says training for your team.

This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by the HubSpot Podcast Network.

Why Your Small Business Should Be Using TikTok

Why Your Small Business Should Be Using TikTok written by Sara Nay read more at Duct Tape Marketing

The Agency Spark Podcast, hosted by Sara Nay, is a collection of interviews from thought leaders in the marketing consultancy and agency space. Each episode is designed to spark ideas you can put into practice for your agency today. Check out the new Spark Lab Consulting website here!

About the episode:

In this episode of the Agency Spark Podcast, Sara interviews Alex Rossman. Alex is the Founder and CEO of Rossman Media. He started his career as a touring musical artist where he quickly learned the skills of PR and social media. As a well-versed entrepreneur and artist, Alex took his passion for social media and transformed it into an award-winning agency, Rossman Media. Since its origin in 2017, Alex and his team have been awarded “Best New Social Media Agency” of 2020 by Business Insider and have worked with companies such as Airbnb, OrangeTheory Fitness, Nike, Dior, Louis Vuitton and Saks Fifth Avenue to name a few.

Questions Sara asks Alex Rossman:

  • Tell me a little about your story and what led you to where you are today?
  • Should a small business be using TikTok as part of their marketing strategy?
  • Are there specific industries that are better fit for TikTok and others that aren’t?
  • What are the best practices to be aware of on TikTok for those who are new to the platform?
  • What are some of the key differences on how someone should approach TikTok versus say Facebook or Instagram?
  • How does one become a trendsetter on TikTok?
  • What is your approach to mapping out an overall TikTok strategy for your clients?
  • Any best kept secrets on how to use paid ads on TikTok?
  • Do you have any insight on how to determine a budget for paid spend on TikTok?
  • What resources do you recommend for those small business owners wanting to learn more about TikTok?

Show notes:

 

Like this show? Please leave us a review on Apple Podcasts here!

 

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The 5 Step Winning Website Formula

The 5 Step Winning Website Formula written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with Tim Brown

In this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I interview Tim Brown. Tim owns Hook Agency, a boutique digital agency out of Minneapolis. He specializes in combining visual design and SEO for construction companies.

Key Takeaway:

Having a beautifully designed website doesn’t guarantee leads. There are some key elements a website needs to have in order to convert visitors into paying clients or customers. In this episode, the Founder of Hook Agency, Tim Brown, talks about what he’s learned from building over 100 websites and diving into testing and user data. He’s been able to develop a 5-step winning website formula that converts.

Questions I ask Tim Brown:

  • [1:55] What’s the biggest marketing challenge today that you’re seeing for construction companies?
  • [2:54] In your intro, it says you combine visual design and SEO – can you unpack that idea?
  • [5:54] What have you discovered is your way to structure a website with SEO and content in mind so that it is a marketing website as opposed to acting as a brochure?
  • [6:52] Can you give me a few examples of what strong visual calls to action throughout the website means?
  • [17:22] You have suggested pricing on your website for the kind of packages that you offer – what was your decision in putting pricing on your website since in the world of marketing pricing it has been deemed as something you maybe shouldn’t do?
  • [20:30] Where can people find out more about your work?

More About Tim Brown:

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John Jantsch (00:00): This episode of the duct tape marketing podcast is brought to you by the MarTech podcast, hosted by Benjamin Shapiro, brought to you by the HubSpot podcast network. Ben’s episodes are so awesome. They’re under 30 minutes. They share stories with world-class marketers who use technology to generate growth and achieve business and career success. Ben is a great host. I’ve been on his show. He’s been on my show. He always really digs down and gives you actionable stuff that you can take away and do. And he’s always bringing up new stuff. The science of advertising, how to figure out what to automate, just things that marketers are wrestling with today. Check it out. It’s the MarTech podcast. Find it wherever you listen to your podcasts.

John Jantsch (00:52): Hello, and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch. My guest today is Tim Brown. He owns the hook agency, a boutique digital agency out of Minneapolis and specializes in combining visual design and SEO for construction companies. Tim, welcome to the show.

Tim Brown (01:11): Hey, thanks for having me, John.

John Jantsch (01:14): So we are recording this in the middle of October and we just got our first snow. Is it getting cold up in Minneapolis yet?

Tim Brown (01:21): It is not really too cold. It’s just, it’s got the little bit of the fall twins you get to put on the light coat. I personally, I think I realized fall is my favorite season. Just this year weirdly.

John Jantsch (01:34): Yeah, I love, I must admit I love fall as well, but then when spring comes around, that’s pretty awesome too. So hard to know every year,

Tim Brown (01:43): Any kind of warm season is always my favorite.

John Jantsch (01:47): All right, so you weren’t primarily construction companies. And so I’m guessing that you can answer this. You have a very, almost set answer for this. What’s the biggest marketing challenge today that you’re seeing from construction companies or for construction companies? I should say.

Tim Brown (02:02): Yeah, I’d say differentiation. I believe a lot of companies come off the exact same and it’s not even, it’s not really a problem that we solve right now. So that’s actually weird because we’re focused on generating leads, but I always want to get in there and do surgery on their messaging because it’s usually very flimsy and very similar to, okay,

John Jantsch (02:28): Tim, you have come to the right place. You should check out the duct tape marketing consultant network. That’s actually what we teach. I’m a firm believer. It’s so many people want the phone to ring, but what they don’t realize is that, that without that strategy on the front end, it’s actually harder for guys like you to make the phone ring to some degree because that differentiation becomes, turns them into a commodity a bed. And so then it’s harder to do your work. When I did the intro, I said, I, in your intro, it says you combine visual design and SEO. Maybe you could unpack that idea.

Tim Brown (03:01): So

John Jantsch (03:01): There’s a lot of,

Tim Brown (03:03): There’s a lot of beautiful websites out there. Well, there’s a lot of ugly ones too, but there’s a lot of even beautiful ones that aren’t really doing the job. I made a lot of them, to be honest. I started in web design and I made a lot of beautiful websites. And then over time realize that wasn’t the biggest problem. And maybe I’m just slowly building up to one day, I’ll be the messaging guy, but I realized getting leads on that website, basically like somebody had me as their graphic designer and I was doing ongoing recurring graphic design for their website. And they were like, why isn’t this make getting us leads? And I was working for an search engine optimization company at that time. And they, and I learned from them a little bit about search engine optimization and getting more business from Google. And so I said, Hey, a more graphic design is not going to fix this problem of no leads.

Tim Brown (03:57): So I started to build more content onto their website with the kind of collaboration with them. And slowly I realized that was almost a bigger problem that people would invest in more, like more like to invest in then design and web design and stuff like that. So I just started helping people with it. It was basically out of demand. I just kept on moving further towards what would actually create business. And that combination move between design and SEO is really, to me, it’s about putting the right content in the right places, because a lot of websites have very thin content and that’s cool to have them content. It does make design easier because that sparse modern apple design vibe is all the rage, but it’s a mixture of those two things, finding a way to get a lot of content onto a website without making it feel like a wall of text. So you really do have a little bit of longer websites nowadays. I think most people will from their experience have seen this. And it’s also finding ways to almost tuck some content back. We use like frequently asked questions that kind of show and hide based on, we don’t want to show everything right away, but we do want there to be a lot of content on the website. So really that’s the biggest thing in the outset.

John Jantsch (05:18): Yeah. Talk about now. I think you have to think of your homepage as a part of the journey. People are going to that long scrolling homepage. I think it’s because people are checking boxes. It’s like, okay. Yeah, they got that. I see that. I see that back in the day we designed these things and the whole goal was to get them to click on a link. So they’d go find more over here and find more over here. And I think really today it’s more like, no, let me tell you a story in different elements. So I know when you reached out to me originally, you were talking about this idea of the winning website formula. So I wonder if you could, what have you discovered is your way to structure a website with SEO and content in mind so that it is a marketing website as opposed to a brochure?

Tim Brown (05:56): Absolutely. Now I will say this, obviously I come from I’m working in home services businesses the most. So the most experience I have is in that in construction. So right. I’ve also done a lot of AB testing. I’ve done user testing, watching users interact with websites and give feedback live. And I’ve done the most of like just monitoring analytics because we are on the hook for the result. And if they don’t get the result, they go, our clients go away. So like basically over time, we’ve made enough mistakes where I’m starting to get to learn this stuff in a painful, but very, um, illustrative way. So I learned this stuff from that those experiences, and I’m going to keep on learning stuff from it. The five step winning website formula is we say strong visual call to actions throughout the website. So we always try to get,

John Jantsch (06:50): Sorry, go ahead. Yeah. I was just going to say no, I was just going to say, give me a couple examples of what that means.

Tim Brown (06:55): So a call to action, a button that clearly states what’s the final action you want them to take. So if it’s getting a free quote, if it’s contacting you, if it’s just speaking to use a softer language for like higher end remodelers or like higher end ticket items in general,

John Jantsch (07:11): Like schedule a consultation.

Tim Brown (07:13): Yeah. Like a little bit softer stuff versus like for our roofers, we have a lot of roofing clients. It’s always like get a free estimate. It’s a little bit more like just direct. And

John Jantsch (07:26): I think a lot of people do. I think a lot of people do underestimate the idea that even though it’s implied, of course, they came there and they want to contact us. I think people do underestimate that, that the visitor in some cases needs to be told or at least invited to take the action you want to take. And I think that’s what you’re getting at, isn’t it?

Tim Brown (07:45): And I’d say 50% of the contractors that come in as most of the clients that come in, people that come in have a website already. So 50% of them don’t have a button up on their main menu. I like that. I like it’s an visual nudge and then don’t have call to actions on the end of every interior page on their website. And I always could go to look at, look for that because that’s a recurring element. Once somebody gets done with that content, we want them to have a clear next step.

John Jantsch (08:16): Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. All right. So a visual called actual what’s next,

Tim Brown (08:21): We’re two testimonials and other trust factors. So I think trust is the biggest thing that’s missing on most websites. And that’s certainly something where we’ll get in there. And sometimes there’ll be like some soft testimonials that are a big scroll or, or there’s a testimonials page. And no one goes to those things and everyone ignores the testimonials section because it is probably very well curated. So honestly, I’m almost driving for a widget type look where you have the photo of the person, you have the Google logo and then five stars you make it look like it’s almost a widget and, and yes, you want these to be real Google reviews. So I almost think of it instead of testimonials more of a review widget and anything to do with awards, anything to do with other platforms where you have five stars or even 4.5 plus stars, Hey, 4.9 is 4.8. That’s almost more trust trustworthy than five these days, for some reason. And cause

John Jantsch (09:31): The leaves date, you’re going to get a hundred percent, five stars. That’s there’s always going to be that person first off there’s people out there that won’t give anything five stars, but then you’re always going to have that one unreasonable two-star customer. So I think people find that more believable, especially if you respond to it.

Tim Brown (09:45): Totally. And I just think in general trust is the biggest thing. So one of the things people can do right now is just have a real photographer come out and photograph your team, show your team. And people just resonate with that and it feels human. And there’s a lot of things you can do to get more trust. Sometimes it’s not using the lingo that everyone else in your industry is using. And just get down to earth, think about what your ideal customer really talks and talk like them and find other ways to just create trust. And then there’s different for every industry. But a lot of times it’s awards. A lot of times it’s a list of clients. Everything you can do to get more trust. Yeah.

John Jantsch (10:30): Even I think for a lot of construction folks that are using higher end brands and things like Marvin windows or Anderson windows or so I think just putting those logos on there as well because consumers recognize them and they mean something.

Tim Brown (10:43): Yeah, that’s

John Jantsch (10:44): Huge.

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Tim Brown (11:54): And then number three, I’ve got emotionally persuasive images and headlines. So this is, I’m sure you follow a little bit along with Donald Miller, make your ideal customer, the hero of the story and help them imagine themselves working with you. So I always challenge our clients because a lot of times their headlines are very us focused. We are the best remodeler in whatever city, but the problem with that is people are their own, most important character in their mind and in their story. And so when they see that, it’s almost like they’re a little bit in competition with you. And also it’s not a verifiable claim. So it comes off as just marketing and it gets ignored. And we’re trying to get into this realm of, I want them to be very interested in this because it’s about them. So it’s just driving that home. I’m sure that’s not a new idea to your audience, but it’s also this idea of a good image that illustrates that idea.

Tim Brown (13:00): So a lot of times, because we are working for construction companies, it’s like somebody enjoying their home. Sometimes it’s like them outside of their home or their them inside of their home, but they’re enjoying their home. What’s that peak emotional moment when they really experienced the benefit of your service, what would that look like? Make a list of those moments and then try to get some photos that represent that. Not all of us have the benefit of being able to stage original photos. So occasionally we use stock photos for that, but ultimately the absolute ideal is you’d get a real customer and you’d take that photo that moment. What does that peak emotional moment? And that’s big. And I think a lot of people just for us with the rivers, it’s just the pain of, it’s just a guy on a roof with a hammer. It’s, it’s, you’re not bad because you have bad marketing, but the customer is gonna, you’re just going to wash out in their mind that they don’t think of you as different from the others. But if you focus on the customer themselves, you’re much more likely to stand out.

John Jantsch (14:05): I think a lot of one emotional thing that sometimes people underestimate is before and after pictures can have a tremendous emotional impact because somebody was like, oh man, I that’s ugly. You know, it’s like, wow, I want that, that, that could happen for me. So I think that’s a great way to use your real life projects.

Tim Brown (14:22): I love that. And then we already talked a little bit about search engine optimization, but number four, the winning website formula is an emphasis on search engine optimization throughout the process. So I already mentioned, you want to have a lot of content on each of these pages, but I will also note it’s about creating the right buckets of content. So we do, for instance, for our customers, we’re doing a lot of like location service plus service pages on their websites. It’s breaking out the niches of the services that you do offer making sure there’s a page for each of those. A lot of times for our customers, it is very location focused. So how are you presenting that information once they get there too? And it’s honestly our location plus service pages say you’re a, a HVAC company in Sioux city or something, HVAC, Sioux city focused page.

Tim Brown (15:18): It almost looks like a homepage. It’s like another homepage. It feels like a homepage, but there’s a good amount of main content. I read the entire Google quality evaluators guidelines. And they talk about this idea of main content. So I’m moving away from a little bit of everything, looking like a banner and moving a little bit more towards these like centered sections of main content, because I believe that’s not only what Google quality evaluators guidelines are looking for. It’s also human, right? Like I want, I want there to be copy that actually explains what this is not just banners that promote something to me. So how can you explain that better? And yes, it does put a little bit more pressure on copywriting and happy writing is one of those things that will always serve you, whether you’re a marketing manager or an owner of a company who’s trying to better tell your story. So there’s a lot of opportunity for all of us to get better at copywriting from,

John Jantsch (16:19): Yeah, I’ve been saying this for at least a decade. SEO is essentially content marketing today. There are some technical aspects, but for the most part, it is content. I think it was ironic today. Do you know what Brian Dean Backlinko, if you’ve studied SEO at all, you should know Brian Dean. It was a big, pretty big article from buzz suit to just today that came out that listed the top 50 content marketers in the world. And Brian Dean was named the number one content marketer. I just think that’s the ironic, that’s really how far we’ve come. That SEO is really content marketing

Tim Brown (16:48): And it’s gone up and up until, and Google is just, they’re not as smart as you think, but there are, have gotten a lot smarter and it’s, it’s, they’re just going to keep pushing it towards what’s the best content. And they’ll try to take out all the other factors as much as they can. And it is funny to me when an SEO company doesn’t do content or doesn’t help with that process. I think it’s the,

John Jantsch (17:15): Yeah, that would work. Let me ask you a couple agency questions because we work with a lot of agencies and this comes up all the time. I noticed in looking at your website, you have what is probably suggested pricing for kind of packages that you have. Um, what was your decision in putting a lot of service providers, especially in the world of marketing pricing has been a no-no because it’s, I don’t know, we have to design your plan and it’s all going to be custom. What was, I’m curious if you, if any thinking went into, I think this is a better approach, we’re surprised. So I’m just curious just for my own sake.

Tim Brown (17:46): So we’re in three to four months deep on this and I don’t know if I’d made the right choice. I’m just going to give it to you. That’s right. No, that’s good. It definitely has qualified out a lot of bad calls and we were in one of those stages where you just have so many leads and a lot of them are bad. So we were just basically cranking up the filter and I feel like maybe I cranked it up too far, or we’re just at the end of busy season for a lot of contractors. I can’t quite tell at the moment, what I will say is it’s also about empathy. And maybe if this is just for you, that’s fine. And you want to edit this out. It’s all good. But to me, it’s what would I want? I would want to know pricing and I’ve been on people’s.

Tim Brown (18:35): I don’t want to waste your time. I really wanted something recently, but I wish that they would have just had the pricing on there because I wasted this very valuable. I know she’s her time is incredibly valuable. I don’t want to waste your time as like a internal marketing exercise. And it wasn’t enough. It wasn’t valuable enough for me to justify that price, but I would’ve filtered myself and that’s okay because we’re just a small business and it’s okay to filter yourself. I just am giving other people the opportunity to filter themselves and I’m trying to have empathy for their time.

John Jantsch (19:09): I think that’s great. And that’s what I was after. It was just your thinking that went into it. I think actually what’s going on in the construction world, just, uh, just my 2 cents because we work with a lot of contractors as well is they don’t need leads right now. They need people and they need their supply chain fixed. That’s probably what’s going,

Tim Brown (19:25): I’ve been feeling that like for the last. So we’re mostly specialty contractors, which is a little bit, and I know that this might just be an offside for, for you and I, but there’s also this element of, we know remodelers in particular. There, we know that there’s a number of home builders, remodelers, certain people, they don’t need leads at all. On the other hand, there’s specialty contractors like HVAC roofing, like even like hardscapers and certain people that like those people do. And so we’ve almost niche completely into that specialty contractors thing, but we’re, we’re keeping the door open just in case the economy flips at some point, but

John Jantsch (20:07): Yeah, figure out a market share for our marketing to help people get skilled labor and you’ll get, those are modeling contractors down the door,

Tim Brown (20:17): Flip over in that direction. You got to stay in the same direction for a long time. I think. And I get I’m prone to flipping that switch just like back and forth all the time. So I kind of have to moderate myself and watch that a little bit. So

John Jantsch (20:30): We’ve been all over the place in our 20 minutes together, but tell it to Tim, tell people where they can find out more about your work. And obviously if they’re a contractor, maybe look you up.

Tim Brown (20:39): I want to throw out here the last one of the five step part, winning formula, really clear differentiating features, unique value. What can your competitors not say? So I’ve heard that called the only tests. If somebody goes under your website right now, what are you the only one of like only go to these? These are the only people you can go to. So do the only test on your website. They can go to hook agency.com and we would love to chat with them if it’s appropriate, if we can be useful to. Sorry.

John Jantsch (21:09): Awesome. All right, Tim, thanks for stopping by the duct tape marketing podcast and hopefully we’ll run into you one of these days

Tim Brown (21:14): Out there on the road. Awesome. Thank you so much, sir. All right,

John Jantsch (21:17): So that wraps up another episode. I want to thank you so much for tuning in and you know, we love those reviews and comments. And just generally tell me what you think also did you know that you could offer the duct tape marketing system, our system to your clients and build a complete marketing consulting coaching business, or maybe level up an agency with some additional services. That’s right. Check out the duct tape marketing consultant network. You can find it at duct tape, marketing.com and just scroll down a little and find that offer our system to your clients tab.

This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by the HubSpot Podcast Network.

Is Facebook Still a Useful Play for Small Businesses

Is Facebook Still a Useful Play for Small Businesses written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

You may very well be asking the question posed in the title of this post because you’ve been following the recent damning Facebook whistleblower testimony, or maybe you’ve just had this sinking feeling for several years.

While I don’t think being on Facebook is at this point detrimental to a small business brand the way it might be for a publicly traded company the question is – Does it still make sense for a small business from the standpoint of meeting business and marketing objectives to invest time and money in Facebook?

In certain instances, maybe but with several big caveats.

Do you already have a decent following, and do you already have substantial engagement?

Without both, time spent posting on FB will have little impact now and certainly in the future – far too many small biz folks jumped into Facebook and mostly posted uselessness, and FB is making them pay for that. (Literally)

For at least five years now, I’ve been preaching about the need to post fun, fascinating, and culture-based stuff for organic reach and then pay for business and sales reach.

For most small businesses today, Facebook has taken away organic reach and made paid reach so much harder, more competitive, and more expensive.

So to me, the question becomes one of priorities.

There are probably five other more practical uses of time and money for most small businesses, so make the choice and stay focused.

In general, social media platforms see us as part of the product, not as customers of the product. They have realized that they need us here clicking, scrolling, and commenting to grow the product. But unfortunately, they’ve also learned that they can amplify this activity by appealing to the worst in us in many cases. And that’s the real problem.

t doesn’t matter whether you believe the details shared by the whistleblower or which side of the political chasm you fall on – the future of social media is based on this dynamic and probably does not bode well for small business growth.

When considering platforms today, we must consider a prospect’s research intent – Facebook is set up today in ways that might work for someone selling polarization and opinion in noisy ways.

But is someone considering a plumbing project because they happened to be scrolling through the noisy newsfeed? Are they clicking on ads for the plumber because the ad is so much more compelling than the ad for skittles that they just saw?

I don’t wonder much about either of those anymore.

Facebook can have a place for small businesses, but not one that comes before creating a better customer experience, discovering how to grow and scale with existing customers, or finding ways to generate referrals.

For most of the folks we work with, social media, in general, is a lazy and misleadingly costly way to market.

It’s time to let it slide, not as a political statement but as a marketing priority.