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John Jantsch: This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing podcast is brought to you by Klaviyo. Klaviyo is a platform that helps growth-focused eCommerce brands drive more sales with super-targeted, highly relevant email, Facebook and Instagram marketing.
Hello and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch and my guest today is Arnie Kuenn. He is the founder and CEO of Vertical Measures. He’s also the author, or I guess I should say co-author because he’s got a group that he wrote this book with, called Customer Journey: Your Audience Will Take This Journey With or Without You, Are You Prepared?
Arnie, thanks for joining me.
Arnie Kuenn: Thanks for having me John, appreciate it.
John Jantsch: As a fellow author I’m always curious how these team books go. How did you find writing a book with others in terms of … The obvious benefit is you didn’t have to write as much, but then you also had to organize people’s thoughts, didn’t you?
Arnie Kuenn: Yeah. The journey for me has been … I wrote my first book solo back in 2011 around content marketing, it was called Accelerate, and found that to be … Just so everybody who has ever written a book totally understands, it was ten times harder and took three times longer than anyone even tried to warm ne it would take.
John Jantsch: And then you had to sell the dang thing.
Arnie Kuenn: Well yeah. Actually we don’t do it so much to become best-sellers. In the business we’re in it’s more thought leaders and help maybe bring some clients in. We do hope it sells, but you’re right, absolutely, then you’ve got to go market it. The second book I wrote was called content marketing works and it was based on all the lessons learned in the years between Accelerate and Content Marketing Works and I actually co-authored that with my son who is in charge of marketing for our agency and that was a lot easier, even though we had to do some coordinating. He lived in Nashville at the time, I lived in Phoenix. It was fun to do with him but, of course, it was half the work, that was kind of nice.
About two years ago we came up with this idea for the book around the customer journey. We have 60 employees altogether but we have multiple subject matter experts and we were just having a team meeting and talking about it and said, well if each of you takes a section we could probably knock this out. That’s how the idea came about. It takes more coordination that way, a little bit less effort but a lot more project management, so to speak to get it done. That’s a long answer but that’s how that all formed and how we decided to do it this way.
John Jantsch: I know in the course of writing a book, some of my books have taken … By the time the editor was really getting to to it I may have written that chapter six months ago and they’re coming back and saying, “Well, you said it this way this time.” I can’t imagine doing that with six or eight people.
Arnie Kuenn: Right. Yeah. We did have one editor so that person interacted with the person who wrote that chapter or those chapters, but you’re right, there’s actually people who finished their work, actually just about what you said, six, seven, eighth months ago and really haven’t looked at it since and the book just got released this week and they’re almost having to refresh, “What did I write again?” And read it over again.
John Jantsch: Well congrats.
Arnie Kuenn: Well thank you.
John Jantsch: You chose the format of, I don’t know, are you calling it a fable? That’s kind of what they call this, right?
Arnie Kuenn: A fable, you said?
John Jantsch: Where you have a fictitious character who is actually going on this journey.
Arnie Kuenn: Yes.
John Jantsch: I think they call those books fables.
Arnie Kuenn: You’re probably right. Actually I never thought about it in a business reference, but yes.
John Jantsch: I think so.
Arnie Kuenn: Yeah.
John Jantsch: What was the decision about trying to present the information in that voice?
Arnie Kuenn: The first two, if you looked at them, they were really … I mean, they felt and really were how-to books, very step-by-step and I’m pretty pragmatic and so it just followed a system and a process and all that. This time we just set off saying we’re going to really try to make it a story. Even though it has lots of good information on how-to and all of that, we just really wanted to make it more readable and, like you say, pitch it more of a story.
We created a character, you’re right, who is in business but wants to go back to school to get an advanced degree. We tell the whole story of how she’s searching for a school to take some online classes and how she starts to go through part of her journey in the beginning but the school she’s doing research around hasn’t quite finished all of their content to map to all of the phases of her journey. She ends up finding another school who has more comprehensive content that takes her all the way through decision and advocacy and so she jumps over and ends up enrolling and taking classes there and then eventually has a better position in life. We just thought that story worked and we’re proud of it, but I guess we’ll find out over the next few months if everybody else likes it.
John Jantsch: That’s the whole story, I guess we’re done.
Arnie Kuenn: Yeah, that’s pretty much it.
John Jantsch: Let’s unpack this idea of a journey because, in fact, you graciously asked me to give a blurb for the book, which I did, because it’s a great book.
Arnie Kuenn: Yeah, I did. Thank you very much.
John Jantsch: I’ve been saying for a long time that everybody talks about this change in marketing and that change in marketing. I’ve been saying for a long time, I think the things that change most is the way people buy and that’s what we’re subject to, the whole buyer journey has changed so much that we have to … Our marketing now has to respond to that massive change. How would you describe the customer journey? It’s a hot topic right now but it’s also one of those that I see a lot of sort of mixed signals around what it means.
Arnie Kuenn: Yeah. We describe it in four steps. I know everybody has different views and funnels and you had described one that you had talked about for years, but ours pretty much follows awareness as a first step, then consideration, decision and advocacy. Our view is that awareness can happen very, very quickly. It could be you are scrolling through your Facebook feed and you see a drone that looks like maybe you will never break, but you weren’t planning on buying drone but you became aware that there’s one that looks good for you and so you click on the ad or whatever.
It could be you’re watching television at night and how we all sit with our iPads or our laptops in our lap and something just strikes you, maybe it’s a pair of shoes or a new car or whatever it might be. You awareness could happen, like I say, in moments and then you turn online generally and you start the consideration phase. You start doing your research and, like you said, that’s what’s really changed is the way we buy now. You and I are old enough to … I’m sure you used to go to car dealers, you decided you want a new car but you showed up at a dealer with a yellow pad of paper and a pen so you could go and ask questions and take notes and go to the next one.
Now when we go to the dealer we walk in with a printout that we researched online and we say, here’s what I’d like to order or buy. In fact, I even know your inventory, I want this car. You’re right, that’s just what’s changed, the way people buy. Anyway, you make that decision but now there’s this whole advocacy piece, which again referring to our age, we used to tell our neighbors or our coworkers about this good or bad experience we have, well now we turn online and we do a Yelp review or an auto dealer review or a Google review and so on. It’s just digital now.
John Jantsch: I think that’s where I see so many people kind of miss the boat on this. The old funnel kind of ended when that person squirted out of the bottom of the funnel and that was like, oh you’re done now.
Arnie Kuenn: Yeah.
John Jantsch: I think that today a much more significant part of marketing is what happens after somebody says yes and I think the companies that are really killing it are taking advantage of that.
Arnie Kuenn: I agree. Yeah. In fact, more and more of our clients, although this is kind of a while ago, Andy Beale, a friend of mine, he’s kind of specialized in the whole protecting your brand online and reputation management. Lately it seems some of our clients are coming back to us saying, “We do need a little bit of help here. We’re not getting … We need better reviews or we need …” Oh I can’t think of that, what’s the website where your employees go?
John Jantsch: Glassdoor.
Arnie Kuenn: Yeah, Glassdoor. “We need better Glassdoor, we need Yelp …”, whatever it might be. We’re seeing a lot and it’s true. All of us, not all of us, but a lot of times before we go to buy something that car or the shoes I was referencing earlier, one of the things we do in our research is to go look at their reviews, what are people saying about that brand and that product. Again, 20 years ago that just did not happen.
John Jantsch: Yeah. I think there were certain industries that that became important five, ten years ago but I think it’s everybody now because that data’s out there and the behavior of looking at reviews has become so commonplace. I have kids that are in their 30s and late 20s and that’s one of the first pieces of data they want to look at before they visit a …
Arnie Kuenn: Yeah, sure.
John Jantsch: I think that behavior has kind of made that more significant.
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One of the things that you had mentioned, you and I were talking offline before, I use this marketing hourglass approach and that was kind of the idea behind The Hourglass was that once the funnel kind of came to the point where somebody bought, then it expanded again. I have seven stages in mine, but I think the thing that trips people up a lot of times, even people that are buying into this idea of awareness, consideration, decision, is that these aren’t necessarily nice, tidy little boxes. Dependent upon a person’s problem, their relationship to the problem, how much they know coming into the deal, they can really … How people go through those boxes can change dramatically, can’t it?
Arnie Kuenn: Oh, absolutely. Yeah. Actually, one of the things that we’ve worked on here at Vertical Measures the last couple of years is we’ve created something that if you see it, it looks almost too simple if I told you it took us hundreds of hours to do it. We call it The Growth Matrix. Down one side we list awareness, consideration, decision, advocacy, but across the top there’s things to come into play. We look at, do you have content in each of these areas and what kinds of content will people be searching for.
Like you just said, are they trying to solve a problem, is it a how-to, it it … Whatever might be there. Does it need to be optimized? Does it need to be promoted? How are we going to actually measure whether or not the awareness stage is working, the consideration state, decision, so on and so forth. You’re right, even in the simple little funnel, I guess this is, of those four buckets, it gets more complex when you look at it like I’m describing from left to right and figuring out what needs to all be in each of these phases for this all to work well.
John Jantsch: And then, let’s start with another matrix factor, you’ve got these dimensions of your matrix because if I’m a homeowner and my furnace breaks down, my decision process for hiring an HVAC contractor to come fix is quite different than if I just bought a new home and I want to see if there’s something I need to upgrade, isn’t it?
Arnie Kuenn: Oh, gosh yeah. We have timeframe, for example.
John Jantsch: Well and just what information I need, how I’m going to go about getting that information. But I think the HVAC contractor in question here has to kind of plan for both, right?
Arnie Kuenn: Probably, yeah. Because … You’re right, you might be looking to upgrade or maybe even look at solar or whatever as opposed to …
John Jantsch: Yeah, so now I need information whereas before I just needed to know who will get here the fastest.
Arnie Kuenn: Yeah, who could get here. I’m in Chicago and it’s ten degrees and my furnace just broke, right?
John Jantsch: One of the things that I think is great about the book is you, given your background, particularly you make a very direct connection to content in each of these stages. I think that’s another thing that’s missing. A lot of people just look at content of like, “Okay, we have to have good content that’s out there and we blog and there we go, we checked that of the box.” Most of that content, between you and me, is written for that person who has already figured out what their problem is and they’re just looking for somebody to solve it. It really misses many of the other stages, doesn’t it?
Arnie Kuenn: It does, but I will say that … What you just described to me would be someone who might be actually successful with their content marketing. If they’re actually creating content around solving people’s problems, they’re already a step ahead of what I would say most organizations are. Because to me, still my biggest frustration that’s been the same frustration for five or six years is I still see people guessing at the kinds of content they should create or they’re still trying to create clever, journalistic headlines as opposed to really understanding the pain points that their prospect is going through and understanding the journey that we’re talking about and really trying to match up content there.
But you’re right, most people tend, if they’re into it, tend to focus on consideration or getting very close to a decision, so maybe they’ll do versus content, John versus Arnie, to see which one’s better or whatever, but there can be really good awareness content created as well and most people are missing that totally.
John Jantsch: For example, I sell marketing consulting services, would you say that’s what your firm does, is that how you would describe what [crosstalk]
Arnie Kuenn: More or less. Yeah. We’re a digital marketing agency so we probably are a little bit different than you, but you’re probably I think more on the consulting side, we actually …
John Jantsch: We have a network of consultants so we do a ton of training and stuff too.
Arnie Kuenn: Yeah.
John Jantsch: But I always advocate, nobody ever, in America at least, has woken up and said, “I think I’m going to go get me some marketing consulting.”
Arnie Kuenn: Right.
John Jantsch: They’re really complaining about problems that … They’re not even saying, “I’m going to go get some strategy.” But most of their complaints or they’re, how do I fix the fact that everybody … All they want is a lower price? Why do my competitors always show up ahead of me in the three pack? Those are the things they’re going and looking for answers to and I think that if we’re not addressing that in the early stages we’re never going to get to the part where what you need is a marketing strategy.
Arnie Kuenn: Correct. I absolutely agree. Yep.
John Jantsch: How do you go about helping somebody understand just that? I think that’s … As you mentioned, I’ve been talking about this for a lot of years. How do you get … We work with a lot of small businesses and most of them are still focused on that, here’s what we sell. But the clients out there looking for a solution, they don’t even know what their problem is yet, so how do you get people focused on creating content, particularly for those early stages when … I really a lot of times think people just … The only thing they can articulate is that it hurts.
Arnie Kuenn: Right. We’ll go about it a couple of ways. One might be more of a story form. We’ll go in and if we can talk to the CEO or whoever might be the top of the food chain as possible, and if they aren’t quite getting it we’ll just ask them … Let’s just say you’re into golf and you wanted a new set of golf clubs. Tell us what kind of things you would search for on Google. We’ll literally walk them through so that the light bulb can go on in their head where they realize that their customers are doing exactly what they do, it’s just a different product line. It could be B2B, it could be whatever.
We just show them, if you had a concern, if your customers have a concern, what is the problem that your products or services solve and how do you imagine they would go about this when they’re doing the research on Google and blah, blah, blah. Then we’ll bring … The next level is data. We’ll try to anticipate it, we’ll show them search volumes, we’ll go in and show their competitors and say, your competitor owns this piece here because they’ve just got all sorts of content helping them solve their problem, whatever it might be. Go get a new marketing automation system. The boss told you to go get a new marketing automation system, finally gave you a budget, but you don’t know any so you turn to Google and you start researching. What does that research path look like? Usually, if we can get an audience and tell that story, the light bulbs start to go on and they start to get it.
John Jantsch: The thing that I love about where you started with that too is I so often see people that are saying, “Okay, how do we create awareness? How do we create consideration? How do we create discovery?” It’s all about how do we do this to get this done and I think what you just described is really the place that a lot of people miss and that’s this, how does the buyer actually go about finding a company like this?
Arnie Kuenn: Right.
John Jantsch: I just moved to town, I need a new car wash. How does that buyer actually go about finding a car wash? I think if we can learn that, then it becomes a matter of then filling in the blanks of what content you need, what tactics you need, what campaigns you need, where you need to be, right?
Arnie Kuenn: Yeah, absolutely. I think another beauty part of this is that you’re also having someone find you at the time that they have the need as opposed to other marketing is really counting on the masses and hoping that someone happens to become aware or see their ad or their product or a service at the time of their need. Where if they turn to Google and they start to search, you’ve already eliminated all the people who have no interest in your products if you followed that logic.
That’s the other beauty of counting on digital and having that content ready for them is if they’re doing that search and they’re clicking on your stuff, odds are they’re in a buying mode.
John Jantsch: As a practitioner, do you find that having that conversation of how would somebody become aware, what are the other ways they become aware? Do you find that actually makes the sales process of, well then we need to do SEO or then we need to do long-form content. Do you find that they sort of self-admit that’s what somebody would do so we better have that. Does that make it easier for you to make a case for some of the tactics that you recommend?
Arnie Kuenn: In a word, yes. We’ve tried to refine it over the years and generally it takes that kind of a story for those who haven’t quite adopted it yet for them to really understand how this works. Yep.
John Jantsch: But I do think that that helps them get … Everything just seems like all these tactics that everybody’s selling and I think that that focus on the journey kind of brings it down to … Even to the point where you start identifying, we better have a better onboarding process and we better have some way that we check in with them in two weeks. It really kind of brings the whole business together, I find.
Arnie Kuenn: Yeah, absolutely. Even a little piece we haven’t talked about is lead nurture. You might have actually got them to show up to your site and they were a hot prospect at that moment, they downloaded your piece of content or whatever it might be, but what have you done now to stay in touch with them? That’s also part of the buying process is you think that through and you make sure each followup, whether it’s a series of seven or eight or whatever it might be, but each one makes sense to the next thing they might be concerned about. Just keep eliminating objections along the way with your lead nurture.
John Jantsch: Arnie, thanks for joining us. Great book. Customer Journey: Your Audience Your Audience Will Take This Journey With You or Without You, so true. Where can people find out more about you and certainly where can they acquire the book, Customer Journey?
Arnie Kuenn: They can learn more about us at a simple URL, verticalmeasures.com. Actually if they go to the website, I don’t know the URL, but if they just look at resources, our book is listed there. Next week, I don’t know when this will be broadcasted, but let’s say by March this will be live on Amazon and they can find it there as well.
John Jantsch: Awesome. Thanks for stopping in and hopefully we will run into you out there on the road in Cincinnati or somewhere like that.
Arnie Kuenn: Sounds good. Thanks for having me, John.