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John Jantsch: Marketing is a system, you’ve probably heard me say that before, but maybe you’ve never heard me talk about the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network. That’s right, I have a network of about 125 consultants that collaborate and work together, and use the Duct Tape Marketing System. So in this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I interview Ben Robertson. He is a consultant in the New Hampshire area and he talks about his experience being a member of the network. Check it out.
This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by Asana, a work management software tool that we use to run pretty much everything in our business. All of our meetings, all of our product launches, all of our tasks. And I’m gonna show you how you can try it for free a little later.
Stuff like payroll and benefits are hard, that’s why I switched to Gusto. And to help support the show, Gusto is offering our listeners an inclusive limited time deal. You sign up for their payroll service today, you’ll get three months free once you run your first payroll. Just go to gusto.com/tape.
Hello and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch, and my guest today is Ben Robertson. He is a marketing consultant and founder of Menadena in lovely Keane, New Hampshire, a city I’ve actually been to. He also happens to be a member of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network. So we’re gonna talk about his practice but we’re also going to talk a little bit about, I don’t spend that much time talking about the network necessarily on the podcast, so we’re gonna do a little bit of that as well. So Ben, thanks for joining me.
Ben Robertson: Yeah, thank you John.
John Jantsch: I have to ask, Menadena certainly has some sort of meaning or something, there’s gotta be a good story.
Ben Robertson: Yeah, so I live in the Monadnock region of Southwest New Hampshire. We have the most climbed mountain in America, actually, Mount Monadnock. And-
John Jantsch: I’ve been there, on the shores of Lake [inaudible]-
Ben Robertson: Have you?
John Jantsch: On the shores of Lake [inaudible] or something like that.
Ben Robertson: That, well, one or the other, there are a few lakes around it. But it-
John Jantsch: I hiked up there. I hiked all the way up there, yeah.
Ben Robertson: And its distinguishing feature as you may remember it, is it has no mountains around it. So it stands up from the landscape and it’s surrounded by flat land and lakes. And so that’s the meaning of a monadnock and so when I was looking for a business name, I wanted to use that but it was taken, as you can imagine. So it turns out that the Abenaki Indians who were one of the Native populations here, their name for Monadnock was Menadena.
John Jantsch: Oh, awesome. Well, that’s good. I knew-
Ben Robertson: Yeah, it’s an Abenaki Indian word.
John Jantsch: That is a cool story.
Ben Robertson: Thank you.
John Jantsch: Thanks for sharing. So you joined the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network, I lose track of time but it’s probably been two years?
Ben Robertson: No, actually, just one year ago, I just anniversaried right around the time of the summit back in October.
John Jantsch: Maybe, let’s set it up by … describe your practice and then maybe describe … and maybe you can say, “Here’s what I used to do, here’s what I do now”, describe your practice and maybe what being part of the network meant for you.
Ben Robertson: Yeah. So that’s a great way to get going. So I started off as a freelance website designer and what happened was that my customers were mostly small businesses and they wanted marketing services in addition to website design and that’s how I ended up joining Duct Tape Marketing because I was providing marketing services but I felt like there was a lot that … I didn’t wanna reinvent the wheel, and I felt like Duct Tape Marketing offered a great system for ready-made, turn-key solutions that I could plug and play for my customer base. And that’s how I ended up joining a year ago and I actually just did my annual review and 2019 strategic planning and this year, we did 13 websites, which was great, but we curious have 11 customers that are in Duct Tape Marketing package services. So that’s a huge change.
I think when I joined Duct Tape Marketing, basically what that means is having them on retainer, I probably had maybe two customers on retainer. So I’ve added nine customers on retainer since then and the value of those retainers has gone up considerably from where it was back when I first joined. So it’s definitely been a good business development for me as far as the benefits of being part of Duct Tape Marketing Network and having access to the resources.
John Jantsch: Well, you know, it’s funny but we have, I always talk about it as three different avenues that people join us. And certainly about a third of the network are people like yourself, you were offering a service, so to speak, website design or SEO or something little that and did you find that you were getting asked to do some of this or you were leaving money on the table? Or even maybe worse, people would come to you and want a website design but they had no strategy and so you pretty much had to do it for free?
Ben Robertson: Yeah, well. So basically what was happening was I was getting asked to do stuff and I was doing it with some degree of success. I was training myself through online courses. I took a Moz bootcamp in SEO and I was developing some expertise but I felt like I just wanted to accelerate that process and develop the expertise faster. So that’s where … I feel like I’ve lost a little bit the thread of the question but I can give you one example of something kind of bad that happened. It was horrible but I charged one customer upfront for a lot of SEO work that we got done and then it was over and they were like, “Alright, great, where are the results?”
And there were results but I realized afterwards that it would have been much better to be offering those services on a monthly basis, so that we could be ongoing and continuously doing stuff. And because the cost to them is a lot lower per month and the benefit to them is a lot greater over time, if the attention is monthly rather than just one time. And so that was right before I joined Duct Tape Marketing, it was kind of what got me motivated to join, was thinking, “I need a better way to approach what I’m doing because I’m doing it well, but I know that there’s a better way to do it.” And Duct Tape Marketing, now I offer all of my SEO on a monthly retainer basis. Does that answer the question?
John Jantsch: Absolutely. So you didn’t just start this business? You’ve been … well, I shouldn’t say “dabbling”, but you’ve had a business for a decade, right? But you’ve made a pretty significant change.
Ben Robertson: Yeah. I was a financial consultant and a business consultant, so I was doing my start-up finance and strategy and even working as a CFO in start-ups and small investment companies and stuff. And that’s really how the company got going but the living in New Hampshire, we didn’t have access to … that market is very much a, at least for me, it was a New York City market and without being in that network all the time, on a regular basis. You know, I didn’t wanna live down there, so I was struggling to find a way to make a living up here with the same type of skills where the cashflow is predictable.
And what I stumbled upon, because I’m also an actor and a writer and I build websites for myself for my creative work, and I found out the websites sell really well. And people, they just … the cashflow became very steady on those. And then I discovered that I love that strategy part because of my background and I ended up wanting to get involved in the marketing side of things and that’s where I was like, “Alright.” So I knew that you needed frameworks and models to do that and I knew I could develop them myself but I didn’t wanna do it myself because of the amount of time involved and I thought it was much better just to learn from you and use your models and frameworks to solve the problems. And it’s worked out great. It’s been very successful.
John Jantsch: Hey, as I said an intro, this is brought to you by Asana. It’s a work management software tool that we’ve been using for a long time, our entire team. It just allows us to be so much more productive, to unify our communication, to keep track of tasks to assign and delegate, pretty much run everything from meetings all the way up through our client work. And you can get it and try it free for 30 days because you are a listener. So get started at asana.com/ducttape. That’s Asana, A-S-A-N-A .com/ducttape.
So what’s been your best way to get clients? I know that’s always … it seems like consultants fall into two camps, those that continually struggle to get new clients and those who get overwhelmed because they get too many clients and they don’t have a system. What’s been your way to get clients? Sounds like you’ve got a pretty full practice right now.
Ben Robertson: Yeah. I would say it’s full but it’s a range of size on the customers. But most of these customers are coming through word of mouth. If I look through the list, they’re pretty much all people that I knew or I knew somebody who knew … on the marketing side. You know, you’re referred by a customer, kind of thing. On the website side, a lot more of those just comes straight through the internet because I think people are Googling on “website designer near me”, kind of thing. And they find my website and so those are a lot more anonymous. There’s more anonymous people in that batch. But on the marketing side, the word of mouth referrals are super helpful because it’s a bigger commitment and having somebody to vouch for you and say, “Yeah, he did a great job for me” really helps in making the sale.
John Jantsch: So you wanna talk about, and feel free to mention names or don’t, but do you wanna talk about a client or two, success, kinda wanna us through what you’ve done and why you think it’s been effective and obviously then any results you wanna share?
Ben Robertson: Yeah. I guess there are some case stories on my website. I’d rather just talk more generally in terms of the types of companies, but I guess people could figure it out if wanted to figure it out because the thing that I’ve been trying to do is build a base of good case studies. We find a package or a set of strategies that work really well together and then roll those out to other companies once we’ve figured out something that works. Because then we can go and say, “Look, this is the type of results we got for them, probably this system would work for you.”
And one of the first really good case studies using the Duct Tape Marketing is a home services pest control company on Cape Cod that’s a franchise and we basically applied … we did their website and then applied the Duct Tape Marketing system this year. The first year we did their website, this year we did the Duct Tape Marketing system and the package that we gave them that worked really well was basically local foundation, which is directory management, reviews and SEO, plus Google Ads. And that combo hits a lot of area of the funnel that are pretty useful. You get trust with the reviews, we made them the number one rated pest control company on Cape Cod for ticks and mosquitoes.
And then on the know side, with the SEO, we were able to help them get a number of location results that they hadn’t previously had because all the problems with global search. If you’re looking in one place it’s hard to get found in another place. We solved that problem and then with Google Ads, we were able to do a next level of making sure that we always showed up in the right searches. And the combo was super successful and what we found is that we were able to then roll that out to other problem services, businesses, contractors, where it’s a similar type of problem that we’re solving.
But the thing that really makes it work and really sells the business when it comes time to talk to the customer or talk to new customers is having goal tracking and conversion tracking so that we can really do a good job of showing the customer what their cost per lead is in all their marketing channels. And I think that kind of data and analytics has been super important.
John Jantsch: Wouldn’t it be great if in your business, all you had to do was the stuff you love? The reason you started the business and not all that administrative stuff like payroll and benefits. That stuff’s hard. Especially when you’re a small business. Now, I’ve been delegating my payroll for years to one of those big corporate companies and I always felt like a little tiny fish but now there is a much better way. I’ve switched over to Gusto and it is making payroll and benefits and HR easy for the modern small business. You no longer have to be a big company to get great technology, get benefits and great service to take care of your team. To help support the show, Gusto is offering our listeners an exclusive, limited time deal. If you sign up today, you’ll get three months free, once you’re on your first payroll. Just go to gusto.com/tape.
And let’s unpack that a little bit because I think a lot of people either don’t mess with it because it seems technical or hard, but in a lot of ways for a consultant, it’s kinda what proves your value. If you’re gonna send that check out every month, show me some results. And I think in the retainer world, you suffer a little bit of “What have you done for me lately?” And so I agree with you wholeheartedly. Talk a little bit about, you mentioned goal tracking and I’m guessing you mean in analytics?
Ben Robertson: Yeah. So the most important goal tracking that we’ve been able to do is call tracking. I think most of what we’re getting is phone calls for a service business. And then also some form submission tracking. All of that can be done through Google analytics and the beauty of it is that we can very clearly show the customer, for this ad budget, this was the cost of this lead. So for a hypothetical home services business that we have been doing this on, you could … some numbers that are somewhat real, pretty real, I just don’t want to be too specific about how real they are but anyway, direct mail, for example, we found was $2.50 a lead. Value pack inserts were around $100 a lead. Google Ads was around $25 to $30 a lead. And then the cheapest referrals were from yard signs, truck wraps and actual referrals from customers where you refer a friend, you get $25 and they get $25, that kind of thing, so it’s 50 bucks for a closed customer, which usually the leads, they don’t all close, so the prices are …
So by being able to give them a range of that, it really just helps the customer so much in figuring out, once they all rely on different types of marketing spent and if somebody calls up and says, “Hey, let’s put an ad on the radio” and you put an ad on the radio and you use a tracking number and you can then say, alright, how many people called that number off that ad and it cost us a grand or whatever it was, we can very quickly look at it in the mix and just say, “Okay, this is what your radio spots are costing. This is what your Google Ads are costing. This is what your yard signs are costing.” And then they look at their marketing as not this thing that I spend money on or I kinda hope it works but they can be strategic about how they’re spending their money.
John Jantsch: Yeah. If I invest $26, I know I get [inaudible].
Ben Robertson: That’s right. That’s right.
John Jantsch: I suspect that the other part of that formula though, of course, is how much could they spend. Because I know sometimes, especially with AdWords. I mean, there’s some search terms that just don’t get that much vibe. You can say “I want it all” but it’s still not enough to really produce what you wanna do and so by, I think, having that number, you can say, “Well, direct mail is a lot more expensive but if we wanna crank this thing up and the lifetime value of the customer justifies it”, then … it just gives you the full range, doesn’t it?
Ben Robertson: That’s right. Yeah, absolutely and that’s what we’re … once you’ve done the low-hanging fruit of all the cheap stuff like the truck wraps, the yard signs and the referrals, then Google AdWords is kind of the next level of expense. Every industry is different. And then yeah, you’re just working your way up the chain of how much volume you wanna pull in.
John Jantsch: What does it take for you to convince a … this happens all the time, somebody comes and says, “I want SEO” or “I want AdWords” or “I just need a new website.” What does it take for you to convince them or demonstrate or teach them the whole idea of how all this stuff works together?
Ben Robertson: Actually, the most useful tool that I’ve been using lately from a marketing standpoint is actually current analytics and reports of existing clients. I don’t give them to them but I show them to them so they can just see what the analytics look like and the analytics, they’re usually sold in a very short period of time once they see … because they’ve been operating, John, a lot of those people are operating in worlds where they’re spending what is to them a considerable amount of money and they have absolutely zero idea of how much it really is hitting their bottom line. They know it’s working but when you can show them at granular level how well it’s working and very precisely, it’s a game changer for them.
John Jantsch: Yeah, and I imagine you come across clients that just have taken the approach of “We have to be in all these things and we’ve always done direct mail” or “We’ve always done this thing or that thing” and all of a sudden, you run the numbers or you start tracking the numbers and you realize they could just cut that out. That’s just a waste. You know?
Ben Robertson: Exactly. Exactly.
John Jantsch: [crosstalk] all of sudden it’s … “Wow, our ROI went through the roof”. You know? And the unfortunate thing with small business owners, and I’m sure you run across this, everybody’s trying to sell them one of these tactics and their phone’s ringing off the hook with people saying they’re Google, so having somebody who can show them hard numbers and why, I think, is gotta be very valuable.
Ben Robertson: Yeah, no, it’s been a great approach and a lot of it goes back to my early career, when I worked on Wall Street and I remember very clearly, one of the sales guys saying to me, “You’ve got a seat here and you’ve gotta earn eight to 11 times in revenue, the value of this seat in order for us to keep you.” And so it was an immediate, either you perform or you’re out. And so I feel like with marketing, it’s really the same thing. You’re having to earn your value every day.
John Jantsch: It’s shocking though, how many marketing people get by with the “Hey, we just need to do all this stuff” and “There’s really no accountability or tracking.”
Ben Robertson: Activities without … yeah. Yeah. Well, that’s a great opportunity for us.
John Jantsch: So Ben, tell people where they could learn more about you and Menadena.
Ben Robertson: Yeah. My website is Menadena.com and it’s in Keene, New Hampshire. The spelling is M-E-N-A-D-E-N-A and that’s probably the best way to get in touch.
John Jantsch: Yeah, we’ll have that in the show notes as well. So Ben, thanks for joining us and hopefully-
Ben Robertson: Thank you John.
John Jantsch: … next time I’m in Keene, hopefully I’ll bump into you.
Ben Robertson: That would be great and I’m sure … I imagine that I’ll see you somewhere else with Duct Tape Marketing before then.