Episode 412

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When you think about how you do business, do you find that you’re purposefully taking longer to respond to inquiries because you don’t want a client to believe you’re not busy enough? Or do you hesitate to answer right away because you don’t want that to be their new expectation of your agency?

Unfortunately, this is where many agencies get it backward. Clients already expect quick responses, regardless of how fast or slow you were the first time. In fact, speed is one of the most important factors for client happiness, and it will only go higher on the priority list from here.

Jay Baer has done intense research on this very topic and is sharing his findings with us. As many of you know, he’s always ahead of the curve when it comes to agency trends. And he’s passionately confident that agencies need to get faster so they’re first in line when a prospect calls them up. Because if he’s learned anything, it’s that speed will beat out price almost every time.

A big thank you to our podcast’s presenting sponsor, White Label IQ. They’re an amazing resource for agencies who want to outsource their design, dev, or PPC work at wholesale prices. Check out their special offer (10 free hours!) for podcast listeners here.

client happiness

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • The generational differences in patience in business settings
  • Speed is the most important factor for client happiness
  • The psychology of speed and how it equates to caring
  • Closing uncertainty gaps with clients
  • Creating a “fast pass” lane for impatient clients
  • The “Got it Audit” for the customer journey
  • When fast is too fast
  • The hierarchy of when speed is most important for client satisfaction
  • Where we get speed wrong in business decisions

“In the research, however, we found that the youngest consumers, Gen Z, are the most patient generation. They're willing to give businesses an extra amount of time to get back to them with a response, a quote, or a question answered.” - Jay Baer Share on X
“Two out of three customers say that speed is as important as price. And 50%, half of all customers will hire whoever contacts them back first, regardless of price.” - Jay Baer Share on X
“It's a psychology issue. It's because now we're in an environment where we interpret speed as caring. It's not necessarily true, but that's how we interpret it.” - Jay Baer Share on X
“When you close uncertainty gaps, and you have fewer information asymmetries, it certainly raises customer confidence. And most importantly, it dramatically increases their perception of your responsiveness.” - Jay Baer Share on X
“You've got a two-year window right now to outperform competitors based on responsiveness until they also figure it out. But you have to start now.” - Jay Baer Share on X

Ways to contact Jay:


Hey, before we get to the show, I just wanna remind you that we have created a private Facebook group just for you, our podcast listeners. There are almost 1500 agencies, agency owners, inside that Facebook group every day talking about what’s going on inside their shop, asking for resources, gut checking decisions, talking about everything from pricing to hiring, to biz dev. All kinds of things are happening there. We’re starting conversations. You guys are starting conversations. What I love about it is the community’s coming together and sharing resources, encouraging each other, and just sort of having a safe place to talk about what it’s like to own an agency. So all you have to do is head over to Facebook, search for a Build, a Better, Agency Podcast Group, or Build, a Better, Agency Podcast.

And you’ll find the group. You have to answer three questions. If you don’t answer the questions, we can’t let you in. But they’re simple. It’s, do you own an agency or do you work at an agency? And if so, what’s the U R L? What are you trying to get out of the group? And will you behave, basically? So come join us. If you haven’t been there for a while, come on back. If you haven’t joined, join into the conversation. I think you’re gonna find it really helpful. All right, let’s get to the show.

It doesn’t matter what kind of agency you run, traditional digital media buying, web dev, p r r brand, whatever your focus, you still need to run a profitable business. The Build, a Better, Agency Podcast, presented by a White Label IQ, will expose you to the best practices that drive growth, client and employee retention and profitability, bringing his 25 plus years of experience as both an agency owner and agency consultant. Please welcome your host, Drew McLellan.

Hey everybody. Drew McLellan here with another episode of Build Better Agency. Excited to be back with you this week, and really excited to dig into the topic of the week with you and with our very special guest who I will tell you a little bit about in a few minutes. But before I do that, I just wanna remind you that although I know we are all sort of looking at late, if you’re listening to this real Time Labor Day is around the corner, we’re thinking about fall, believe it or not, spring is gonna be here before you know it. And so will the 2024 build a better agency summit. We are really excited about the lineup of keynote speakers that we have for you.

We are gonna talk about AI inside of agencies and best practices and cutting edge stuff there. We’re gonna talk about dealing with agency change, fatigue, and how to get yourself and your team rallied when everybody is so exhausted from all the changes we’ve gone through. We’re gonna talk about how to successfully build a program that sells more to your existing client, gets you a bigger share of wallet. We’re also gonna have a pricing strategy expert on the main stage, talking about how we can all get more money for the work that we do. We are gonna talk about how to get you on more stages. Where in the audience are your perfect prospects?

I’m just telling you, the content is gonna be off the charts. We’re in Denver this year. It is May 20th is Family or Member Day, and the actual full conference is May 21st and 22nd. The tickets are never gonna be cheaper than they are right now. So head over to agency management institute.com. The very first icon on the left or the in the navigation is b a b summit. Click on that and register yourself and your team. There are discounts. If you’re a member, there are discounts. If you are bringing more than one person, there are discounts if you are coming for the first time. So we’ve got you covered on the discount front.

But as you know, with every conference, the price goes higher and higher as we get closer and closer to the event. So if you want to really be charged up and take all of this great content into 2024 with you and beyond, grab your ticket now. Join us before we sell out, and we would love to have you there. All right, so my guest today is a repeat guest. He has also, he graced the keynote stage of the very first, the 2021 Build a Better Agency Summit. He was graceful enough to be a keynote speaker at an event that I had no idea if one person was gonna show up.

I had no idea we would sell it out. But he’s a good friend. He is a good colleague, a great professional peer, and one of the smartest people I know. So I cannot imagine any of you on the planet are not familiar with Jay Bear and his work. But as you know, Jay has, has written, I think, seven or eight books. He owned the very successful agency, convinced and Convert before he sold it. Now he’s doing more keynote speaking, writing more books, And. he has a brand new book out called The Time to Win. And, and it is all about how critical speed is to our consumers regardless.

B two b B two C doesn’t really matter. So Jay did, as always. He does big research, a big research project. He picks a topic, he does big research. Then he writes Keynote, a keynote presentation after he writes the executive summary, of course, and the report on the research. He takes the keynote on the road. He fine tunes that. And out of that comes an amazing book. So you’ve probably read Hug Your Haters and all the other books that Jay has written. His brand new book is just coming out. It is, it’s, it’s a great book. It’s also a very fast read. We’ll talk to him about why he, why it’s so short and so quick to consume.

But, but I think you’re gonna be fascinated by the results of the research and the findings and what it means for us as agencies for our own business, but also how we can take that data and become a great advisor to our clients. So grab a pencil and a piece of paper, ’cause you’re gonna wanna take notes and let’s get to it. Let’s talk to Jay Jay, welcome back to the podcast. It’s good to see you.

I am delighted to be back. Drew always a pleasure to spend a little time with you and the community.

So you have been crazy busy on the road writing a book. So give us a little bit of the lay of your recent land, and then I wanna talk about the book. ’cause it seems like you are on the go.

I sold, I sold my agency so I’d have more time to really focus on speaking and writing. And I have, I have done that. So coming outta the pandemic, my observation was that people care about time and how it’s spent more than ever. So I did a research project to validate that thesis, and it was validated. And so I published the research and then turned that into a new keynote presentation called The Time to Win. And then, as I typically do when I do research, I do the keynote and then I’ll do the keynote a few dozen times, get it perfected, and then turn it into a book, which is what I’m doing right now. So the book version also called The Time to Win, is, is launching right now. So I’ve done a lot of speaking this year, and it’s been fantastic. And then meanwhile, I found myself running a tequila education business at the same time.

So, so no grass is growing. It is certainly not the retirement plan. I

I, I love that you have been infamous and famous for decades because of your marketing prowess and you launched the tequila side hustle. Yeah. And, and now all of the, all of your professional work with marketing now pales in comparison to being the tequila guy. I tell

You what, one thing I’ve learned in my, in my life, and you know it better than anyone, is that most agency owners have some sort of interesting passion on the side, right? Yep. They’re, they grow roses, they’re cyclists, you know, whatever. They’re, they’re amateur magicians, whatever, everyone, because they’re interesting people. They’re interesting dynamic driven people by, by definition. And, and they always have something on the side. And, and I, I know so many agency owners who say, geez, she would be fun if I could make a buck, you know, on my rose growing or whatever. I’m here to tell you friends that it is possible. Yeah, I’m living proof because I started making videos about tequila, I don’t know, 15 months ago, 14 months ago. As we, as we have this conversation with no expectations whatsoever, just like, Hey, I don’t do a podcast anymore, so let me take that time and try and make a couple videos here or there and try and teach people some of what I’ve learned about tequila over the last 25 years.

And bingo, bango bongo, I find myself the number two tequila influencer in the world, non non-celebrity division, Drew. So it’s not like me and the Rock and, and me and George Clooney, but amongst mere mortals, it’s me and some realtor in LA. And, and it’s a real business. Like, like I had to call my accountant, one of my favorite conversations in my history of business, I had to call my accountant and say, Michelle, we need a whole new chart of accounts for all this tequila revenue. Which was an unbelievable victory

For me. Yeah. What a, what a great sentence to come outta your mouth, right? It was great for all this tequila revenue,

But it is crazy. As you mentioned, I get recognized in airports all the time now, always for tequila. Not the seven books, not the, all the other things I’ve done as a speaker or, or an expert for tequila constantly. So it’s, it’s actually kind of hilarious.

Yeah, that is. It’s crazy. But, but kind of lovely too.

No complaints. My wife said, imagine if you started the tequila business 20 years ago. I’m like, yeah, that’s

Right. We live in a mansion. Right? Exactly. Exactly.

A hacienda it would be,

That’s of course it would be. Yeah. Yeah. So as always, like you said, your, your pattern is research keynote book. Yeah. So you’ve done a lot of research over the years on different topics and that have resulted in, you know, books that everybody has read and learned from. So what about this research surprised you?

A lot of things surprised me. One of the most dramatic sort of, i in inward, you know, like I sort of gasped when I looked at the cross tabs, was the differences between generations in terms of their patients level. I’ve got multiple Gen Z people in my home, as do you and your family. And my expectation is that they want everything right now because they grew up in the, in the digital age, right? Everything was on a phone, one click cars, one click delivery, one click pizza, one click everything. In the research, however, we found out that the youngest consumers, gen Z, are actually the most patient generation.


They’re, they’re willing to give business an extra amount of time in terms of getting back to them with a response or a quote or an invoice or a question answered. They are the most patient.

Yeah. That is surprising.

I I couldn’t believe it the least patient Boomers. Boomers. Now is that because boomers have less time left? I, I don’t know. We, we didn’t ask it specifically, but as, as a researcher, the math adds up. So I’m not, I’m not sure about that. But I find it interesting because I have been in many conference rooms in my career, and you probably have too Drew, where, where I’m working with a client that serves primarily an older customer demographic. And they will say something along these lines, well, our customers are primarily 60 plus, 65 plus. And, and so, you know, they’re retired, they don’t have anything else to do, so we don’t have to get back to them quickly. And it turns out the exact opposite is the case, which I found really fascinating.

I can remember when my mom retired her saying to me, I am busier than I ever have been before. I don’t know how I worked and got all these things done. ’cause I don’t have any, I don’t have no more room in my day. So I think, I think the misnomer of retired people sitting around doing nothing


You know, is just, is a falsehood. I mean, I just, I just think most retired people, if they’re healthy, are pretty busy people. And I also wonder if it’s because people of that age have seen the shift in how quickly response could come. Right. So yes. They remember when it used to be by mail Yeah. Or by a phone call and complaint letter you would Right, right. Or the 800 number on the back of a, of a product. Right? Yep. So for them, they’ve seen the transition of access. That’s a really

Good point.

And speed to response. So I just wonder if they’re like, well, I remember how it used to be, and now it should be much faster. And, and maybe that’s,

That makes perfect sense. It really does. The other thing that I found really interesting in the research was, I mean, obviously I, I, I supposed that speed was more important than ever, which is why I did the research to begin with, right? But the direct correlation between responsiveness and revenue is pretty staggering. Two and three customers say that speed is as important as price two outta three. Wow. And 50%, half of all customers will hire whomever contacts them back first, regardless of price. So if you’re not habitually first to respond in your industry, you probably ought to fix that because you’re gonna get a bunch of customers just by being first.

And, and, you know, speed has been important in business, I think, for a long time. Yeah.


Forever. But it’s been important. But my, my thesis now, and the research bears this out, is that now it’s the most important. It is arguably the single most important element of customer experience now. And most businesses have not fully elevated speed on their list of priorities, yet their customers already have. And that disconnect is the problem that I’m trying to solve.

So it’s interesting as you’re saying that I’m thinking about my own behavior and experience and you know, there are, there are certain partners or vendors that are your go-to, and you wouldn’t go to anybody else Yeah. Regardless of their return. But, but you’re right. If you are trying to get something done and you don’t have a go-to, I, I, I would say that we’re absolutely guilty of that. I mean, you know, with our travel schedule and everything that’s going on in our world, whoever gets back first and can book an appointment first, you, you do win.

It’s a psychology issue, Drew. It’s because now we’re in an environment where we interpret speed as caring.


It’s not necessarily true. Right? But that’s how we interpret it. We think, well, geez, if they’re, if they’re quick to get back to me or, or other way around, if they’re slow to get back to me, I, I take that to mean they care more or less about me, my business, my wellbeing, my life. And we all wanna work with people that we know, like, and trust. Right? And, and the know, like, and trust sort of set up is driven initially by how long does it take you to, to get, to get back? I mean, I got this house painted not too long ago, and I got three bids as you do. First painter got back to me in four hours and said, I can’t do the job today. I can’t even give you an estimate today, but here’s when I can come out and look at it. And based on what you told me in your voicemail, here’s kind of, sort of a rough range of what I think this is gonna cost.

Second painter got back to me in two days. Third painter got back to me in 11 days. Holy buckets. At which point the house was already painted, right? So it was slightly too low, right? So I hired the first one, which was the most expensive one, but I didn’t care because we interpret speed as caring. You wanna work with people who you assume really have it together. And here’s the, here’s the scary part though. Drew, and this is very true for agencies. A lot of agencies are not great about getting back to prospects quickly.

Oh my gosh.

And they do that at their peril in my estimation, because when you lose on speed, it is almost always invisible to the organization. So painter two and Painter three are in an agency situation. You lose the competitive bid. We always tell ourselves that it’s what price, right? We always say we lost on price. And how can they possibly, how can they do that marketing campaign that inexpensively, I don’t know what they’re doing over there. Well, it’s not price, right? It’s almost never a price. Right. The truth is they have their operational house in order in a way that you don’t, and they’re able to get back to people more quickly. So what do you do in the next bit?

Well, you drop your price. Yeah. And you lose again because you’re not any faster. You’re just cheaper. And the third bid, you’re like, wow, it’s getting competitive up in here on these RFPs. You drop your price again. Right. And you still don’t get it. ’cause you’re not any faster. You’re just cheaper. It’s only on the fourth competitive bid when you’ve given away all of your profits do you get hired. Right. Because in every competitive situation, in every customer, whether it’s an individual or a, a hiring committee or anything in between, there’s a tipping point. There’s a point that you say, man, I am probably going to regret this. I am probably setting myself up for a very bad business relationship because it took them so long to get back to me.

But they are so much less expensive than the other ones. I feel like I gotta roll the dice.

Yeah. I’ll tolerate it.

There’s no report that shows this to you. Yeah. There is no spreadsheet that you can run in your organization that says, here’s all the revenue we lost because we just didn’t respond to the emails fast enough. Right. It rots your business from the inside out. So you’re better off just being faster from the beginning and, and training your team to respond instantaneously. And then you don’t have to worry about it.

Well, and not only are you doing everything you just said, but you are running your business on a huge misconception, which is we have to keep getting cheaper and cheaper and cheaper to get the work. And so A, you’ve set yourself up to have a bad relationship that’s not profitable. And b, now that becomes part of the pattern you see in your head. So you repeat the pattern and now everybody is less profitable.

Absolutely. Yeah. It, it, it really is. It really is a good way to corkscrew your business into the ground, right? Yeah. Is is Now the other thing that’s really, I think, important for agencies in this regard, and I talk about this in the book, in in the presentation of the time to win, is this notion of Closing uncertainty gaps, Drew. So an uncertainty gap is the difference between what you know about what’s going on on the project and what the client knows.


And I realize now that I have sold my professional services firm that I was really, really bad at this because as you know, we specialized in, in large strategy projects for big enterprise corporations

Right. With big windows of time of work. Yeah. So

They’d give us a bunch of money. Yeah. We said, we’re gonna give you a great strategy, guys, give us a bunch of money. And they would, and then we’d go quote unquote make strategy, right? And it would take 75 days, 90 days, whatever. And the whole time internally, we had a super detailed project plan, okay, we’re gonna do this and this and this and this, this. We never missed a deadline in like 13 years ever. But the whole time we were doing that, our communication back to the enterprise client about those steps and the progress and what was going on was almost zero.


It was anecdotal at best. And I realize now, looking backwards that we really did that poorly. That there was a huge uncertainty gap there. That, that we knew exactly what was going on. Right. They didn’t know anything about what was going on, which creates a bunch of anxiety and stress because they’re thinking, Hey, are these guys actually doing this strategy? Do they take the money and go to Barbados? Like, how’s it going? Do they need anything from us? And, and that’s such a, a key thing that you can close down. Every agency has this problem and it bothers customers more now than it used to. And I’ll talk about that in a second. When you close uncertainty gaps and you have fewer information asymmetries, it, it raises customer confidence for sure.


Across the board. And most importantly, it dramatically increases their perception of your responsiveness.


You’re not any, actually, you’re not actually any faster. It’s not like we’d said, okay, you take 75 days to do a strategy, now it takes 45 days. No, it’s still 75 days. But because they know exactly what’s going on at all times, they perceive it as though we’re really, really on top of it. Yeah. And it’s a huge psychological shift that I think a lot of agencies can really benefit from. And trust me, everybody’s got those uncertainty gaps and we just don’t tolerate it anymore in soci