Episode 94:

Gene Hammett turns everyday entrepreneurs into FORCES of nature in their market. He sorts through the complexities of business strategies to help you “be THE choice, not just a choice.”

Gene has been a business leader for 20+ years. He started and ran multiple million dollar companies. He succeeded, failed, reinvented himself, and succeeded again. He can pass along to you the key lessons he’s learned in the process so you can have a business that is both successful and fulfilling.

On his podcast, Leaders in the Trenches, Gene has interviewed hundreds of world thought leaders and best-selling New York Times authors. Gene has been featured in Forbes, Success Magazine, Business Insider, and INC Magazine. Gene is also a regular contributor to Entrepreneur Magazine.

In all of his keynotes, Gene uses personal stories and humor to clarify key points. This message is a unique approach to how stepping out of your comfort zone, thinking differently, and innovating can lead to increased market share and trusted authority status. Gene always gives powerful strategies to be implemented right away to create immediate results.

 

 

What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • Why Gene became a coach after losing 3 million dollars
  • The real reasons you should be speaking (it’s not a speaker’s fee)
  • Why you shouldn’t shy away from the “breakout” sessions at conferences as a speaker
  • The opportunity for diverse speakers
  • Why being a generalist is dangerous for speakers
  • Why great content rules over speaking skills
  • Giving attendees permission to come and find you instead of trying to sell from the stage
  • Why you need to build relationships before filling out the speaker submission form
  • How to figure out what to speak about
  • Getting on the radar of the conferences by you want to speak at through writing
  • Gene’s 5-day “authority gap” challenge

 

The Golden Nugget:

“Specialists get chosen to speak because they’re experts. Generalists don't.” – @genehammett Click To Tweet

 

Subscribe to Build A Better Agency!

Itunes Logo          Stitcher button

Ways to Contact Gene Hammett:

We’re proud to announce that Hubspot is now the presenting sponsor of the Build A Better Agency podcast! Many thanks to them for their support!

Speaker 1:

If you’re going to take the risk of running an agency, shouldn’t you get the benefits too? Welcome to Agency Management Institute’s Build a Better Agency Podcast presented by HubSpot. we’ll show you how to build an agency that can scale and grow with better clients, invested employees and best of all, more money to the bottom line, bringing us 25 plus years of experience as both an agency owner and agency consultant to you. Please welcome your host, Drew McClellan.

Drew McClellan:

Hey everybody, Drew McClellan here with another episode of Build a Better Agency. We are going to talk about a topic today that a lot of you have been thinking about and challenged by, and I know that our guest is going to give you all kinds of pragmatic, practical, actionable items that you can put into place. So let me tell you a little bit about him and then we are going to jump right into the conversation.

So Gene Hammett has helps leaders go from status quo to exceptional to accelerate their business growth, and does that in a lot of ways, but the way we’re going to really focus on today is how do agencies drive revenue and sales through thought leadership specifically around being on the right stage at the right time in front of the right audience. So we’re going to dig into that. So Gene has been a business leader for over 20 years. He started and has run multiple million dollar companies and he like all great business people has succeeded, he’s failed, he’s reinvented himself and he succeeded again, and I’m sure he is going to tell us all about that.

And he’s going to help us really understand the process that he uses when he coaches his clients through the ability become really authorities in their space. So he also does a great podcast called Leader in the Trenches and he interviews world thought leaders, bestselling New York Times authors and talks to them about their leadership and the lessons that they learned when things got a little down and dirty.

So he has shared the platform with the legendary Jack Canfield and he’s often featured in Forbes, NBC success magazine, Huffington Post, and is a regular contributor to entrepreneur.com. So clearly, a man who knows his stuff. So Gene, welcome to the show. Thanks for joining us.

Gene Hammett:

Drew, thanks for having me and wow, it seems like I’ve been busy.

Drew McClellan:

It does sound like you’ve been busy. So in the intro, in the conversation we had before I hit the record button, you used a line that I want to start our conversation off with which is that you help your clients become the choice, not a choice when people are looking for speakers. So let’s just start there. Let’s how did you get from running businesses to doing what you’re doing today?

Gene Hammett:

The short of it is I lost 3 million in one day. Bam, there you go.

Drew McClellan:

So voila, I’m an entrepreneur, right? I’m going to start a business. So maybe there’s some context in that story that you want to share.

Gene Hammett:

I’ve never given it that short before. I was going to see how that felt, and it felt really odd. Normally I took go on way too long. Drew, I had been an entrepreneur since 2001, even before that, it was in my heart, but I was in corporate America learning the skills to be an entrepreneur. I think I was a little bit scared and just didn’t have an idea. So when 9/11 came along, now or never. And so I created an e-commerce business. I took it to a million very quickly.

I ended up figuring out how to take it to 5 million, created a cash cow, created a lot of money and a lot of freedom for myself, but there was something that was missing and it was really two things that were pulling at me. One of them is I wanted to innovate inside this business that I kind of hated because I wanted to kind of get out of it, but I also wanted purpose in what I was doing, and they were two opposite ends of the spectrum.

Do I stay or do I leave? Do I stay or do I leave? Do I persist or do I pivot? And I chose to persist, I chose to do just make more money. And it really came from looking back at that showing that I was really scared. And so I gave you that context to this. I was at the height of that business. I was in Beijing, I had 8,500 clients, sports tours at the Olympics there 2008 and I made over 1.2 million for me and my partner. So I obviously, I knew what I was doing in that world, but I just, I wasn’t happy.

And I moved into the next big deal which is what we do. We go into the next bigger thing which was Vancouver Olympics, and my best friend and I had a relationship and a partnership and we’d done business together and he had $3 million of my money, and I had a piece of paper that stated out all the stuff I’m supposed to get and I ended up getting nothing. So that caused an immediate halt to everything I’ve done, even my breath. I felt like I didn’t breathe for a few days there.

Drew McClellan:

I can’t imagine that you weren’t curled up in a corner somewhere.

Gene Hammett:

I was. It strung out over a few days of what was going to happen and the lies started unraveling. And I won’t throw any stones here, but I trusted the wrong person way too much. They had all my money and I ended up losing everything. So coming back into the real world, I knew I would start another business. I had no idea what I would do, but I’m like, “You know what? I should do something that really charges me from my purpose-driven place, from my inside out.”

And it’s not that I wanted to make more money to buy more toys, I just wanted to provide for my family, but that was all gone now. And so I started a business. I started thinking about the coaching I got in my journey as an entrepreneur because I believed in getting guidance.

Drew McClellan:

Right.

Gene Hammett:

And so I got this guidance and I love being heard. It sounds so simple, but I loved talking. I like to talk out my problems and I love for people to challenge me with good questions and really help me see things I can’t see. And it really helped me grow my business. Some very pivotal moments through all that. And I’m like, “I want to do that.” But I was worried, I just lost $3 million. Who’s going to hire me to be their business coach if I just lost $3 million?” That’s a pretty valid kind of concern, right?

Drew McClellan:

Sure, yeah. Maybe.

Gene Hammett:

So I did that research and I thought about it and I actually got some more coaching around this because that’s what I believe in. And that helped me navigate through that time in my life where I wasn’t sure what I was going to do, but I’m like, “I’m going to do something that really means something for me.” And the word significance came up. I want to feel significant. I want to make sure I’m making an impact, I have a purpose.

And so I decided to become a coach. I got trained. I had to get a job so to speak. I’m really unable. But for a couple of years, I did sales for digital agencies. So shout out to you guys, I understand your world. And I did that and I started out five years ago. I became a coach mostly to creative companies, design companies and agencies to help them become the choice, not a choice.

Drew McClellan:

So one of the things that we chatted about again before we hit the record button is that part of your role is to keep track of the best places to speak and the best conferences. So tell us a little bit about that, and then I want to dig into how you help your clients become the choice rather than a choice.

Gene Hammett:

I want to back us up one step behind this because knowing that there are speak engagements out there is great, but why would you want to speak for your business?

Drew McClellan:

Right.

Gene Hammett:

The why, some people get this twisted and I’m just going to be honest with you guys. Let go of the fact that you’re going to be a paid speaker. Maybe you will someday, and maybe that will be the place, but you don’t need to get right now. What you need to do and I’m going to say this very clearly and bluntly is if you’ve got a strong company, you’re doing really good work for people, you need to get more people to know about that work.

Drew McClellan:

Yeah.

Gene Hammett:

Period.

Drew McClellan:

You are going to get paid, it’s just not you’re going to get a speaker’s fee. It’s that you’re going to get revenue from another source because you spoke.

Gene Hammett:

Absolutely.

Drew McClellan:

Yeah, I agree. I agree completely.

Gene Hammett:

That’s one thing we’ll talk about in the stage mapping. So when you understand that you need more people, I’m going to be honest with you. It does happen, but you putting together an email sequence in a funnel is not going to bring you in that next 50 or $100,000 client. It’s just not. They’re not listening to webinars, they’re not going to probably find you on the podcast.

High value clients are busy working. They’re probably already working with another agency too. So what you have to do is go, “Well, who are my ideal clients?” And you get really clear about that, and that’s part of being the choice which we’ll get into, but when you know which industries you would best serve, and one of my friends came up with this question, I’ll give it to you because I just really think finding your target market and your profitable niche is just one of the most foundational exercises you can do as an agency owner and most people resist this because they’re like, “I work with big brands.”

Drew McClellan:

Right. And there’s a dollar on the table that I want. So that’s a client, right?

Gene Hammett:

So if you find that profitable niche and here’s one question that will help you. If you only got paid on performance, who would you work with?

Drew McClellan:

That’s a great question.

Gene Hammett:

And it’s a question that’s meant to challenge you. Why is he telling me to get paid on performance? I’m not. I’m just saying you know where you do your best work. You know where your work is translated into new revenues, new leads, new business and it’s really clear, you know that. You should know that as new agency owner, do you agree with me or?

Drew McClellan:

Absolutely. You should know what clients you are delighting every day and which clients keep bringing you more money and saying, “That was awesome. I’d like to give you more money and do more of that.”

Gene Hammett:

You also know which clients you think you can’t stand.

Drew McClellan:

Right. Right.

Gene Hammett:

And you know the clients too that you’re not doing the work that you could be. You’re not delighting them. You’re taking their money, but you’re not delighting them.

Drew McClellan:

Right.

Gene Hammett:

And you may not like me for saying this, but I’m just going to say there’s different clients out there really focused on your business on the ones that if you only got paid on performance, you’d work for them. And then those will be your brand advocates. Those will be your raving fans. Those will be the ones that will be so the thrilled about what you’re doing that they’ll tell everybody. They’ll actually get on stages for you-

Drew McClellan:

And with you.

Gene Hammett:

And they’ll give you a speech and say, “Yup, my agency figured this shit out.”

Drew McClellan:

Right.

Gene Hammett:

And that’s the best advertising you can get. You can just be in the audience and go, “Hey, that’s me.” Right?

Drew McClellan:

Right, right.

Gene Hammett:

I’ll take that.

Drew McClellan:

Right. I’ll wave when he mentions my name.

Gene Hammett:

And you can co-present. Sometimes you can do a case study, co-present.

Drew McClellan:

Yup.

Gene Hammett:

Which works too. But if you found, if you knew where those people are, those valuable clients, whatever you want to call them and you knew which conferences they were going to, and you were the only digital agency in that lineup. This is not amongst your peers. You go into that software as a service companies and there’s a thousand of them or it’s doctors or veterinarians or it’s consultants or it’s speakers or whatever it may be, right? You follow me there, right?

Drew McClellan:

Yup, yeah. Well, it’s interesting because a lot of my peers in the digital space, a lot of my marketing peers, they love to speak at marketing conferences which I get because they’re fun and you get to see all your friends, but nobody there’s going to actually hire you to do anything because they do a lot of what you do unless you are really are very narrow in your focus and message, right?

Gene Hammett:

I will have to disagree with you politely. There are at all those marketing conferences and it depends on your industry and it’s a little bit hit and miss to be honest with you, but there are lots of times if you go in there, there’s both sides represented, the buy and the sell side.

Drew McClellan:

Oh, I’m not talking like social media world or I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about conferences where it is for the conferences for your peers. I agree, those marketing conferences where as many clients are there as agencies, actually in a lot of cases, there are more clients there than agencies, that’s prime picking. I’m not saying that, but I’m saying a lot of marketing folks love to speak to other marketing folks.

Gene Hammett:

Yes. Yes they do.

Drew McClellan:

And that’s not really going to put more money in your wallet at the end of the day.

Gene Hammett:

They like to talk about their awards Drew, they like to talk about that stuff.

Drew McClellan:

Yeah.

Gene Hammett:

And those things are fun too. I take those opportunities.

Drew McClellan:

Yeah, they’re fun. Sure. But they’re not, the revenue part. Yeah, right.

Gene Hammett:

So once you get clear about who your clients are, you want to know where they are. And I really believe this that there are certain segments of the market. Some of them are completely 90% full of your ideal clients. Some of them are 40% and it’s a pretty good, it’s not much in between that, and there are some that’s like 5%, right?

So you want to be able to be able to look at a conference and look at the profile, look at the sponsorships, look at what their messaging and who they’re attracting and go, “If I really work with automotive supply companies, are they going to be in that conference or not?”

Drew McClellan:

Right.

Gene Hammett:

So that’s one thing you have to figure out for yourself and one of the things I’ve done to move to the real question you asked me about these conferences is I like to speak as well. I speak to get clients, I’ve been doing this for five years. It’s one of the main ways I connect with people because I like to do high value work. And I will go to marketing conferences because those are filled with my ideal clients.

Drew McClellan:

Absolutely.

Gene Hammett:

Those are filled with the people that are having a little bit of that struggle going, “I’d really like to make a turn or a pivot to something bigger.” And I give them permission to look at having a niched business that becomes the choice, not a choice and have authority positioning in their market. And one of the ways to do that is to speak on these stages, that’s the reason we’re talking.

So I’ve mapped out with my team. I didn’t realize it’d be this much work, but I hired someone on my team specifically to research the top 400-ish speaking conferences. And these are conferences, not corporations, not associations. These are just conferences, social media marketing world is on the list, trafficking conversions on the list, but also leadership sales, international events, entrepreneurial events, so there’s a big selection.

And I have mapped out not only the name of the conference and the URLs and the dates and the locations, I actually know who are the meeting planners behind that.

Drew McClellan:

Wow.

Gene Hammett:

That pretty powerful.

Drew McClellan:

That is, yup. That’s the playbook right there, right?

Gene Hammett:

That’s the playbook. Now, I’ll be honest with you. I don’t just shell that out willy-nilly. My clients don’t even get it. I give them the names they need when they need them. I don’t want anybody blasting this list and burning it up because that’s what would happen. And we can talk about the strategies to actually get these bookings. But I have done this research and I’m not saying it’s all of the places you could speak, but it is the conference set.

You would also probably want to look at corporations and associations. And so there’s three dominant players in the stage market. And I think you need to understand those and how they fit into your business. And that’s a real powerful play when you identify the stages and you get on those stages and give her a message, we can get into the details of the message because this is the key. We give a message that shatters beliefs, that shatters what they think is to be true and gives them another choice that’s something they’ve never heard before. And that unlocks all the problems that they’ve been having. And it addresses all that other stuff. There’s a promise behind every speech, right? And behind every business.

Drew McClellan:

Right.

Gene Hammett:

It unlocks the promise.

Drew McClellan:

Right. Okay. So I want to dig into how do we develop the … How do we know what promise to make? How do we develop the promise and then how do we deliver on that promise? But first, let’s take a quick break and then we will come back and dig deep into that. If you’ve been enjoying the podcasts and you find that you’re nodding your head and taking some notes and maybe even taking some action based on some of the things we talk about, you might be interested in doing a deeper dive.

One of the options you have is the AMI remote coaching. So that’s a monthly phone call with a homework in between. We start off by setting goals and prioritizing those goals. And we just work together to get through them. It’s a little bit of coaching, it’s a little bit of best practice teaching and sharing. It’s a little bit of cheerleading sometimes. On occasion, you’re going to feel our boot on your rear end. Whatever it takes to help you make sure that you hit the goals that you set. If you would like more of information about that, check out agencymanagementinstitute.com/coaching. Okay, let’s get back to the show.

Okay, welcome back. I am here with Gene Hammett and we are talking about how to create revenue and sales from the stage. And so Gene, before the break, we were talking about that every presentation or every speech is a promise and that someone who wants to be on the stage with the idea of being in front of prospects that attract them than to hire their agency, they need to understand how to really package themselves in a way that’s going to make them the choice for the conference planners rather than a choice.

So walk us through your thinking around that. And as you know, many agencies aren’t differentiated by niche or by a thought process or something else. A lot of them are generalists are we serve butchers and bakers and candlestick makers. So I would assume that it’s much more difficult to execute on your strategy if I’m a generalist.

Gene Hammett:

The generalist has a tough time to be honest with you because when you think about the process of a meeting planner or conference host to select the speakers, and let’s say the average speaker per event is doing about 20 stages per day. So if a conference is three days, you’ll have 60 speakers. That’s a pretty good number, right?

Drew McClellan:

Yeah.

Gene Hammett:

Some of them will be main stage or keynote kind of style speakers, and some of them will be breakouts. And I wouldn’t shy away from the breakouts because the breakout gives the chance for the right people to be in your room. They self-select themselves in, that’s the version of the opt-in, right? Which way do I go?

Drew McClellan:

Right. Absolutely.

Gene Hammett:

I’m going to go to this one.

Drew McClellan:

Yup.

Gene Hammett:

And rarely these days do we go to the one we don’t want to go to because we’d rather just sit outside and check our email.

Drew McClellan:

Yeah, that’s right.

Gene Hammett:

So we’re actually [crosstalk 00:18:46]

Drew McClellan:

… To socialize with, right.

Gene Hammett:

So you don’t shy away from the breakouts, but if you want to, if, once you identify the places and you want to make sure that they don’t see you as a generalist. They have to see you as someone that will add a unique perspective to their platform and it’s always a mixture of this. This is something I learned through all. I did fit P seven interviews over the last eight to nine weeks with meeting planners and conference hosts, and I’ve got all this data that I’m collecting about this 57 of these interviews, more than half of them, probably 40-ish talked about the importance for diversity.

Drew McClellan:

Yeah.

Gene Hammett:

So if we have any females that are listening into this, really perk up to hear because I’m really calling you out saying there’s an opportunity. They’re actually looking for you and there’s really a big benefit for them to bring you on the stages. You still have to be good. You still have to have a good topic, but if you are female, or if you have a different color skin than white, then you have a much better chance on the stages than I do. I’m a white male. So in case you didn’t know.

So that being said, you want to make sure you’re not positioned as a generalist. The generalist gets up there and talks about general stuff, but the expert or the authority is selected because they’re the expert or the authority. Have you ever heard this term curation?

Drew McClellan:

Yes.

Gene Hammett:

Okay. So conference planners, what they typically do is based on last year’s event, they’re looking at the new topics whenever they start to think about the content. They think about the content before they think about the speakers.

Drew McClellan:

Sure, right. What are the trends or the topics that my audience wants to hear about. Yup.

Gene Hammett:

The theme of the event is part of that, and so the trends that are going on. And so if you’re talking about something that’s new, you’re by definition not a generalist, you’re talking about the cutting edge innovations of today, right? So that is something that is a good way to do this. If you are taking a spin on social media and making it different and unique that they want you on the stages. If you are doing something that no one else is doing in SEO, please apply to their events because you have opportunities, because they’re looking for innovation.

And actually they require innovation and they actually reward innovation by selecting them over everybody else. Even if you’re not as good a speaker, they want the fresh content. And it really goes counter intuitive to what most people think. They think you have to be just super engaging. Now they want you to be engaging, they want you to do this, but they will actually take people that have just really good solid content even if they’ve never spoken before.

Drew McClellan:

Well, if you think about it, they’re going to put the title of your presentation and maybe a little blurb and they’re hoping that that will A, drive conference sales or B, at least drive people to your session. And all of that happens before anyone knows if you’re engaging at all unless you’re well known enough in your world that people go, “Oh, it’s Mary, and she’s awesome. She’s funny, she’s whatever.” But in most cases, if you’re not a recognized name, it really is about the content.

Gene Hammett:

Let me give you one example. Can I tell you a story behind this?

Drew McClellan:

Sure, you bet.

Gene Hammett:

I don’t know how much time we have, but I’ll be brief. I had a general agency that was working with out of Atlanta, SEO company, they did a little bit of other stuff too, but we quickly cut that out. They were so general that it was really hurting them. And so he focused on the SEO and I said, “What are your best clients? Who would you work with if you only got paid on performance?” There’s that question again.

And he’s like, “I really like tried and true companies, companies that create things, that manufacture things.” And I’m like, “Are you talking about eCommerce?” He goes, “Yeah, I like eCommerce companies.” He didn’t even have a word for it. Okay? He knew it was eCommerce, but he was just trying to figure it out. You with me Drew?

Drew McClellan:

Yup, I am.

Gene Hammett:

So across of a few sessions of working with me and really just zero in this in, it came up with eCommerce companies. And I said, “Well, what are the top providers that you work with?” And he said, “Well, we work with all of them.” I go, “Which one do you like to work with the most?” And he goes, “I like Magentos. I have four clients on Magento right now.” And I was like, “Perfect. Do they have a conference?” “Yes. It’s in five months.” “Perfect. Let’s figure out how to apply.”

We’ve applied, he got shortlisted. He waited, he was nervous because he had never spoken before Drew. He had never taken the stage. He didn’t have a video, he didn’t have anything. You know what we changed on the website? This is so crazy when I tell you this. All we changed on the website was in the hero area right underneath the logos and all that stuff is we do SEO for eCommerce companies specializing in Magento. That’s all we changed.

Drew McClellan:

Wow.

Gene Hammett:

And he got shortlisted because of that. They got on the phone with him and they talked about some Magento clients and they talked about Magento platform and things that were moving and the trends and he was able to fill the questions fairly well. And he’s like, “All right, we’ll get back to you.” Three days later, he gets it.

Drew McClellan:

Wow.

Gene Hammett:

So he gets this opportunity. This was two years ago. And he was able to get on that stage and give a speech and he took two Red Bulls. Literally just sucked them down. I don’t know why you would take two red bulls if you’re nervous, but-

Drew McClellan:

So you can be more nervous.

Gene Hammett:

He’s a kid. He just did it. He’s 26 years old at the time. And so he did that and he immediately no pitch. He had to fly to Vegas himself. He didn’t get paid for any of this stuff. He put his own money into it, but he was so prepared for this. And he gave a great speech that challenged the beliefs of the audience around what they thought they should be doing with their SEO. That’s what we came up with.

We got to challenge the beliefs. I said, “What are the core beliefs? And let’s crush them. Let’s just go in there and create data. Let’s create stories, let’s create the tools, and let’s just build this story, this case out of why they need to look at this differently.” This is what’s important. This was the promise, right. That we were talking about before.

Drew McClellan:

Right. Yup, yup.

Gene Hammett:

And so that gets him on the stage, that gets him an opportunity. Now let’s be honest and be very clear. In most of these opportunities, when I say most, 99% of them, you are not allowed to say, “Now, if you’d like to sign up for my services. Come to the back of the room.”

Drew McClellan:

Right. Of course not. No selling from the stage, right.

Gene Hammett:

There’s no selling from the stage, there’s no pitching, there’s none of that stuff. Is that clear? Don’t need to go further.

Drew McClellan:

Nope. Nope.

Gene Hammett:

Because a lot of people go, I don’t want to sell from the stage. Here’s the thing, you can’t.

Drew McClellan:

Right. Right. And you really can’t even do it subtly. You need to just be informative and helpful.

Gene Hammett:

Well, here’s the twist. I actually do something called the invitation because what I believe in my heart that if I’m going to give a speech, I’m going to give as much as I can right now that if the audience would like to know more information, would like to get to know me, I’m just going to invite them to come meet me.

Drew McClellan:

Sure.

Gene Hammett:

I’m not selling anything, but I’ll say, “Hey, if you got more questions, I’m going to be around the event for the next two days. I’d like you to come up to me, give me your business card. Let’s put something on the schedule and let’s talk. That’s all you need to do.”

Drew McClellan:

Yup, yup.

Gene Hammett:

And I’ve told people this and they’ve said, “No, I can’t do that. I can’t do that. That’s pitching, that’s selling.” And I’m like, “What do you mean? It’s about relationships. It’s about you getting-”

Drew McClellan:

It’s about, “Look, if you have more questions, find me.” Yeah. Yeah.

Gene Hammett:

Yeah, exactly. Yeah, giving them permission. So that’s what it is. Give them permission to come to you.

Drew McClellan:

Yup.

Gene Hammett:

I could tell you stories and stories behind this, but I’m going to go off and I’m going to go make sure we cover everything we need to today. But that’s what I’m talking about. The right room, the right speech, and then you make an invitation and that people want to take action. The results behind this, it’s too crazy to even tell you. But do you want to know anyway?

Drew McClellan:

I do, but I also want to know if he got more speaking gigs at other things.

Gene Hammett:

Oh yes, of course.

Drew McClellan:

And then so obviously, now you’ve got … Did you video him doing the first one? How did you develop him to be more attractive to other opportunities?

Gene Hammett:

I did not develop. I didn’t do the speech. I wasn’t there. I’m his coach.

Drew McClellan:

Right. I didn’t mean you personally. Yeah, right.

Gene Hammett:

Yeah, so they did do a speech and they were really good about it and they put it up on YouTube and he had that on the homepage of his website within a couple of weeks. He was so proud of it and it wasn’t even that good of a speech. I’ll be honest with you, but it drove business and it drove new speeches. It gave him a calling card to say, “Hey, if you’re not sure if I can speak about this to eCommerce.” And so he really leaned into the e-commerce.

He takes no other clients right now. He takes no lawyers. He takes no doctors. He takes no coaches. He won’t even do stuff for me. He’s like, “Look, we got our processes, we got our sweet spot.”

Drew McClellan:

He’s ungrateful. He won’t even help you.

Gene Hammett:

My blinder is on.

Drew McClellan:

Right.

Gene Hammett:

So he has not only has he gotten more speaking opportunities Drew, but he’s been asked to write for a lot of the largest SEO journals, the rags. So that’s putting more content out there building his authority and that’s actually getting him more speaking gigs too. So it’s a compound effect from one speaking gig to build all this, this authority of thought leadership.

Drew McClellan:

Yeah, and that happens on all the platforms which then makes when somebody Googles you or whatever to see if you’d be a good speaker, they go, “Wow, he’s ever everywhere. She’s everywhere talking about this topic. She or he really must really know what they’re talking about.”

Gene Hammett:

Here’s the words I use, and I totally agree with you. You’re absolutely correct. Here’s the words I put to that. Ron is now seen as an insider to the eCommerce world. He has positioned himself through the body of work, his stacking of success of all these portfolios and knowing the clients, he’s built the systems behind it, his team talks the talk, the content is in a line, everything works for him.

He has more leads than he could handle. They have more business than they can actually get to. They actually fired me which is painful because they said, “We can take on any more work.” I know that sounds like a sales pitch or something, but it was painful last year when he goes, “Hey, we’re on a six week, eight week waiting list.”

Drew McClellan:

Well, you know what? At a certain point in time, you’ve taught him what he needs to know, and the student moves on. I know it hurts. No one likes to lose client. Yup, no one likes to lose a client. So when you engage with someone, what are the mistakes they’re making that get in the way of them being invited to be on the right stage? And I guess part of it is finding the right stage, right?

Gene Hammett:

That’s a really good question. So I got to process I call stage mapping which is what I believe is if that speaking is a marketing strategy. I think it’s one of the best marketing strategy because it will actually puts you in the room with high value clients. They see you, the proximity rule, they actually get to share air with you. And that really does add to the trust factor as opposed to just you being some company a thousand miles away. So they get to hear your message, you get 45 minutes usually undivided. They’re not getting four of your emails.

Drew McClellan:

Right. Yeah.

Gene Hammett:

Yeah. Well, I don’t really like panels, but that’s a another story. So I really do like the fact that if you think this is a marketing strategy, marketing is something I think is proactive. You are doing something now to get something later.

Drew McClellan:

Yup. Right.

Gene Hammett:

You create a content, you create a book, you create a speech and you create those things to actually drive business down the road. And so if speaking is a part of that strategy, then why wouldn’t you go the 20 best stages for me in my business right now and over the next two years, I’d like to know those in advance. The reason why you want to know those in advance is because it does take sometimes 12 months to get on these stages or at least get into contact. Sometimes you find out about a stage that you just missed, right?

The event just happened or they just closed off the selection process. So you want to have that list that allows you to go through this. I call this stage mapping which is a process that I’ll give you a free tool if we mention this at the end of the show, but it allows you to go through your top 20 events and map them into dream stages and map them into value stages and really the difference between the two are dream stages are probably a little bit harder to get.

They’re going to take a little bit longer, a little bit more work and focus. And then the value stages are something you can do for fairly quickly. And so having a balance between the both would allow you to do this. My story with Ron, I would’ve put Magento on the dream stages. It just happened to be his very first stage. But for the most of us, we’re going to go through a process of working on those value stages and move up to the dream stages.

Drew McClellan:

Right. That’s the minor leagues that get you to the majors, right?

Gene Hammett:

Yup, climbing the ladders what we talk about. Sometimes you got to climb the ladder. They don’t want to see that you’ve spoken on stages. Even though he got on, he got on because he was an expert. He had the specializing in “Magento”. But that’s what you want to have. You want to build the case for yourself through speaking on these stages and if stage mapping is something I’ve coined.

I put in a 2 x 2 matrix called a value ease matrix which is two accesses. One’s high value, low value. And the other one’s easy to get and hard to get. And I sit down with clients and say, “Here’s all the stages that are good fit for you. Now let’s map them, and then let’s look at the ones you spoke at in the past. And let’s out where they fit. Did they actually drive clients to you? Are they profitable and valuable or did they take a lot of your time and you’ve got nothing from it? And I put those in the corner of not your audience stage.

Drew McClellan:

Right.

Gene Hammett:

And so we all have those. I’ve had them, but we don’t want to keep doing them. We don’t want to make those same mistakes. We want to keep identifying the right ones and the ones that will lead us to the dream stages because I did all these interviews. I got to say this. The biggest thing you can do to get on stages is to get on stages.

Drew McClellan:

Right. Absolutely.

Gene Hammett:

I know that’s it like a chicken and egg kind of thing, but the psychology of the selection is the first thing they think of is who do I know that can talk about this subject? Who is the expert? Not the generalist, who’s the specialist? The next level they go down is they go into their network and they go, “Who do you know that speaks on this topic? Who have you seen before?” Those are two by far they overweight everything else.

The next level they go down to is they check with their community, the insiders, they do surveys and whatnot. Who would you like to see on our stages? What content would you like to have? And then they go and they do their own searches. You know what’s at the bottom? Level five. I haven’t said it yet, call for speakers.

Drew McClellan:

Which is probably where most people think they should start.

Gene Hammett:

That’s where everybody thinks they start. That’s one of the biggest mistakes. Filling out the speaker submission form before you have a relationship is in my opinion a mistake. So I show people how to navigate through this. So you want to be that expert, you want to be positioned. You want to have that unique brand, and here’s the other thing. This is the mistake they make is the PR style pitch email. Do you know what I mean by that? You’re a podcaster. So you probably get emails from people-

Drew McClellan:

All the time.

Gene Hammett:

I would love to be on your show. It’s awesome. Here’s how awesome I am. I’m awesome like this, I’m awesome like that. I call this I’m the awesome email. Do you get those Drew?

Drew McClellan:

Every day, yup.

Gene Hammett:

And you begin to go, “Really? Who are you?”

Drew McClellan:

Well, and everybody can’t be that awesome.

Gene Hammett:

Here’s what somebody said to me. And I will say only one person, but I get it now. The more awesome you try to make yourself sound, the more you blend in with all the other people that are trying to make themselves seem awesome. That’s pretty profound, isn’t it?

Drew McClellan:

Yup, so true.

Gene Hammett:

It is?

Drew McClellan:

It’s almost like a template.

Gene Hammett:

It is a template, that’s what it is.

Drew McClellan:

Yeah.

Gene Hammett:

So what do you do instead? You don’t send templates. You identify those 20 stages on your stage mapping and you figure out a very specific strategy. You get to know the one person that you need to know, maybe sometimes times it’s two people or three people. And you circle that like it’s a strategic client you want to go after because it’s a really high value client, high value opportunity.

And then you would be able to create the relationship before you actually need to pitch so that when they are looking for some expert in the area that your agency is the specialist or the authority in, they’re going to already know you. They might even ask you who can speak about this subject and that’s your chance to go. “Well, let me tell you about what I’m doing with this client. We figured this out, this didn’t work. This used to work, and this works now.” That’s how you get on stages.

Drew McClellan:

So I know people are listening and they’re saying, “How in the world do I know what I can talk about that will be unique enough or specific enough that I could be the choice?” How does an agency owner who perhaps doesn’t have a client niche or how do they find their special sauce that gives them the presentation that somebody would want to have on a stage?

Gene Hammett:

I would say that it’s just hard, but the fact that I’ve been able to sit down with every one of my clients and figure this out for them, I don’t think it’s a Testament to me. I think it’s just a process of sitting down with someone that understands how to pull it out of you. That understands how to challenge the crap that you think is special that’s not. I do this all the time with my SEO companies.

I’m like, “All right, I’ve heard this before. So what else is new?” Well, what’s new about that? Why is that new? How this different than before?” Because it’s ever evolving in SEO. So it’s always on this innovative edge and if you’re not on the innovative edge, it’s really hard to compete. Especially if your pricing is not rock bottom. I don’t typically work with people that want to be in commodity in the marketplace.

You could probably get that from my be the choice, not just a choice. So you’ve got to have someone that will challenge the status quo inside you, challenge you to come up with that really unique thing. And most of the time it’s right there in front of you. You just can’t see it because you’re already inside the business, you’re inside of it. One example I have is a, so a social media company that I work with, I told you I worked with a lot of marketing companies. Didn’t I Drew?

Drew McClellan:

Yup.

Gene Hammett:

So she did this incredible project that I saw came over Facebook and it got this millions and millions, 96 million impressions, whatever that means. And I said, “That’s a really interesting project. Tell me about that Melanie.”

And so we got on the phone and we’re talking about it. And she goes, “We got picked up by USA Today. We got picked up …” I said, “You’re a social media company. You’re not a publicity company.” She goes, “I know, but the story had such deep roots to the heart of something that people wanted to talk about it.” I’m like, “That’s pretty cool. Where’d you come up with this idea?”

And she goes, “Well, they wanted engagement. And I told them they needed something more than engagement. So we came up with this purpose-driven marketing.” And this is So Media. So if you guys want to look up, So Media Solutions and they created this campaign for an assisted living facility where that an 86 year old guy learned to knit baby bonnets, the little head bonnets. I don’t know if I’m saying that right.

But they he’s got a picture of him in USA Today and Fox News, and all these media plays around him sitting on a couch knitting these little beanies. And not only did they get this press because they donated to the local hospital that produces, all the babies around here at Atlanta. And it was just a heartwarming story. And guess who’s mentioned? well, the assisted living facilities mentioned in there, and then they get more awareness in this and people go, “Well, we should check out their stuff.” And it really had an impact to the business.

It had a profound impact because they did something worth talking about. And now I’m talking to her and she goes, she goes, “I don’t know what I would speak about.” And I’m like, “Are you crazy? Speak about that.” So it’s usually right in front of you. You just can’t see it. Sometimes it’s got to be polished like a diamond and come out of someone, but it’s usually there, and if you’re willing to accept it, if you’re willing to know that you have something to say and take the stage, you can find a stage that is just right for you that’s filled with your audience and you can either get strategic partners or you can get new clients just because you get the authority.

And then as you said, I didn’t even bring it up. This was Drew’s thing. How does that leverage into more speaking into more opportunities? Well, it’s very natural. It just starts to happen once you have the credibility and you’re seen as an insider in that space.

Drew McClellan:

Yeah. So okay, let’s say I’m an agency. I’ve identified a case study or something really unique we’ve done that I can blow up into more of a best practice and use the case study as the thread that weaves through my presentation. And I have used your matrix to identify some conferences where I should be at. So how do you recommend that I then forge relationship or get on the radar screen of let’s just say the one conference that I really want to have a presence on that I think is within striking distance of reasonable for me?

Gene Hammett:

So I have taught someone on my team to do this for me. So if I could teach someone to do it, you could do it too. Right? The basics behind … Does that make sense? Does that logic makes sense? And that person’s offshore.

Drew McClellan:

It is a process.

Gene Hammett:

It is a process that person’s offshore. So they’re not necessarily English speaking, second language. And they’re very nice, and they do a great job for me and they book me five to six appointments a week, and I’m always talking to meeting planners. And it’s never been hard her to figured it out. Now, is she always right? Does she get it right the first time? No.

So part of the process is having someone to do some research for you that will go out there, do some data scraping. You know the titles you’re looking for. If it’s association, you’re looking for education chair or program chair. If it’s a corporate event, you’re looking for event planners.

Drew McClellan:

So let’s say you know who the person is. So how do you begin to have … Create relationship with that person so that you can be … Have the conversation about why you’d be a good speaker?

Gene Hammett:

So there’s a couple of different things you can do. I’ll give you my strategy. And I know that not everybody can do exactly what I do here, but I think they can do a variation of it is that … Would that help?

Drew McClellan:

Yup, that would be great.

Gene Hammett:

So and mine’s working like a charm. I’ll tell you that right now. And it’s setting me up five, six meetings a week. So I identified the top conferences and then I wrote an article about the top 100 conferences, and we submitted that to be published in one of the major magazines I write for. And so while we’re doing that, I go, “What’s the next level behind this?” I think I’m going to come back and do the speaker selection interviews. Why do they select the speakers? How do they get to be the choice instead of just a choice?

And so I did it partly for me to understand who they were, but also to understand the thinking behind these people and to learn what I’ve learned, what’s important, what’s not important and what’s the best way to build relationships. And they’ve literally told me, “Come in with something thoughtful, come in with something that adds value to what we’re doing.”

It may not be the pitch in the first thing. I’m not pitching them the first time I talk to them, I’m offering value. I’m going to write something about the speaker selection process. And in fact, the first article I’m writing is about, it’s loosely titled right now, why gender diversity matters to conference host?

Drew McClellan:

Yeah, I can totally see why that would get on their radar screen, and now they recognize at least who you are and that you have some expertise.

Gene Hammett:

And I’m writing it to women of entrepreneur magazine and I’m putting it together. And so they want their conference to be represented. I didn’t know this was the angle. And I don’t even tell them that’s the angle. I get them on the phone so they don’t even know that, but once they hear that, they’re like, “That’s so true. You’re on top of it. You’re the man. I appreciate that, that’s a great topic.” Right? They’re fired up about it.

I didn’t realize it. I found this out because I took action to get into this strategy. So my variation works really well because I write for large publications. So you may be thinking to your mind, “Well, I don’t write for large publications, so I can’t do it. But guess what? You can write for LinkedIn, you can write for medium, you can write something and work in collaboration with someone like me who writes for entrepreneur and who’s willing to publish it.”

Now that’s a little bit harder, but there are other options. If you’re willing to do the work and just get out there and make it happen. My suggestion would too if you are in an industry that you’re really going after, and let’s say it’s like doctors. Write down the top 10 conferences and do a LinkedIn post on that and feed as much traffic as you can into that, interview the people about the conference and why they’re making it innovative. And just talk about the 10 conferences that doctors must go to if they want to build their practices. And if you are serving the doctors, guess who’s going to read that? Doctors.

Drew McClellan:

Right.

Gene Hammett:

Guess who else is going to read that? The other 10 conferences and they’re going to go, “Oh, who wrote that?” And it gives you a chance to come back to them say, “I wrote this about you. What do you think?” Thank you for doing the work you’re doing. “Oh, by the way, I’d love to talk to you about my next series of articles.” So a strategic angle is going to be better than a pitch. Does that make sense?

Drew McClellan:

Yup, absolutely does. Yup.

Gene Hammett:

The pitch actually is something they look at you and count off. If you come in especially with the I’m awesome email.

Drew McClellan:

Yup.

Gene Hammett:

So I try not to say pitch anymore. I try to say, “When is the right time to put in a proposal?” I think the proposal comes very much like your agency world, you have a conversation with the client, you have an idea of what to scope the workout as, and they go, “Would you send me a proposal?” Great. So move that over to the conference world and go have a conversation with these decision makers and say, “Here’s what I’m thinking about. What do you think?”

And like, “Oh, that’s a great idea.” We have that on our topic list. What is the one area that you’d like for us to make this unique? Like, what else is going on that you feel like you need to fill the holes with? And they’ll actually tell you the gaps. And if you can fill a gap for them, does it make their job a little bit easier?

Drew McClellan:

Right.

Gene Hammett:

So it is a little bit longer. I will tell you, but again, you’re not doing it as a blast email and a template out to a hundred or a thousand people and hoping something works because in this noisy world, that stuff gets ignored. What you’re doing is picking 10 from stage mapping and you know, I’ve got that tool that I’m going to give you, but that stage mapping will give you the guidance and you can come up with the exact strategy for 10. And I believe people can do this in about four hours a week, two hours of research and two hours of reach out.

Drew McClellan:

Yeah. And again, somebody else can do the research for you. So you may only have to invest a couple hours and actually having conversations.

Gene Hammett:

And that’s exactly what I’m doing. I have someone on my team. We’ve got a system that she works, and she’s not emotionally attached to this thing. She gets in the morning, she hits you on Skype. She goes, “I’m starting work.” And she’s for four hours a day, she just reaches out to people and sets meetings.

Drew McClellan:

Yeah. Awesome. So before I let you go, I know you’ve got something, a five day challenge called the Authority Gap. Can you tell the listeners about that? And I want to make sure that they know that that’s out there and that they can access it.

Gene Hammett:

So that is a challenge that you can get. If you feel like you’re invisible a little bit, it will help you understand where your authority is. So the five day challenge is something I like to make things as simple as possible as about as much time as it takes to drink a cup of coffee which is about 10 minutes. So it’s out a five minute video, four to five minutes, and you’re going to take about five minutes to answer three questions.

And so that authority gap challenge, you can access that at leadersinthetrenches.com/challenge and it will guide you through that. And what it will do is really highlight where your best fit and your best opportunity for you to do this. Stages is only one of those days. So there’s four other very counterintuitive pieces to it. The white stages is in there, I started off with this.

Most people believe they should be getting paid to speak, but I believe that you can speak for free at the right stages. And the right clients will want to come do business with you if you’ve done your work, and you’ve really carried the moment and shattered those beliefs from that speech.

Drew McClellan:

So in other words, they can spend five days, they can have coffee with you five days in a row and answer the question how can I package my self to be a unique choice for conference planners? And as I get better and better at this, I will be the choice, not a choice.

Gene Hammett:

Yup.

Drew McClellan:

Awesome.

Gene Hammett:

And it’s all about authority. It’s all about you positioning your authority and accelerating that and finding a little place that you haven’t thought of, some counterintuitive idea you can take and run with it. And one of the ideas is interview influencers like you’re doing with me or I do with other people too, you could be doing that inside your market. And that makes you an influencer.

As an example, what if you identified the conference host for those 20 places in your stage mapping? Then you would go and interview them for a series that you’re going to put together on your blog. And if you’re a good enough salesperson, you can actually get those people to participate or maybe get half of them. And that’s good content, and you’re building relationship, you’re giving value about their conference and wit’s feeding the feeding your audience, but then you can come back and get to know them before you actually pitch them. That’s a strategic angle that you can take, and you can discover that if you go through the challenge.

Drew McClellan:

Yeah, awesome. Okay gang, we will make sure that that link is also in the show note. So if you didn’t jot it down as Gene was talking about it, I promise the link will be there. Gene, this has been as I expected. I hate to use word awesome after we’ve made fun of it all through the whole conversation, but it has been really a great action filled go do this, here are some practical tips, conversation which is exactly what I was hoping that you and I could offer the listeners. So thank you very much for generously sharing what you’ve learned and what you know, and what you teach your clients, I really appreciate it.

Gene Hammett:

This is what I love to do. Some people may think I overgive, but I really believe that some people will take this and run with it. And hopefully you’ll come back to me and say, “I did it.” I would be happy for you if you did that and I’d love to know what your next steps are, but then there other people go, “I’d like to be supported through this.” I mentioned the stage mapping so many times. I feel bad if I didn’t mention where you could get that.

Drew McClellan:

Yup, that would be great.

Gene Hammett:

So I’m going to make something very special for you guys because I’ve never given this out on a podcast. I’ve given out to my clients. I’ve given it out to the people that are already on my list. But if you go to leadersinthetrenches.com/ami, that’s your initials, right?

Drew McClellan:

Yup. And I will make sure that link is in there too, so.

Gene Hammett:

A-M-I. So leadersinthetrenches.com/ami. What you’ll get inside there, I’m going to really sweeten the deal here. I’m going to give you a list of those 350 conferences that I mentioned and all the research we’ve done. I’m going to give you a list of the conferences and the URLs and the dates and locations. I’m going to give you the stage mapping tool.

I’m going to give you a little guide that says, “Here’s the steps that I take if I was doing this with you, but I will let you do it yourself.” I’ll give you everything, and I’ll even probably throw in a training video probably that goes with this that talks about certain elements. Some people will be able to do it themselves, great. Some people want support, but I’ll give it to you completely for free and you can’t get this anywhere else.

I’ve been looking for this Drew for a long time. There’s so much crap out there. I’ve been looking for something that’s just mine. This is just mine. No one else is doing this. No one else is talking about. No one’s got this available to them. So if you want to get it, this is the only place you can get it.

Drew McClellan:

That’ll be awesome. Thank you very much for doing that. I appreciate you sharing that with the listeners and my audience who as you said, a lot of your clients are agency folks. They are great speakers, they just need to know how and where and when and for what purpose. And you’ve given them a great roadmap for that in this conversation, so thank you very much.

Gene Hammett:

Well, it’s a pleasure to be here Drew, if there’s any way I can help you or help the audience in the future, just let me know.

Drew McClellan:

That sounds good. All right. That wraps up another episode of Build a Better Agency. I can’t tell you how much I love spending this time with you. Thanks so much for listening. Hey, speaking of thanks. Another way we want to give thanks is we’ve built a new tool that I would love you to check out. We’re calling it the Agency Health Assessment. And basically, you’re going to answer a series of questions and based on those answers, the tool is going to tell you in which aspect of your business maybe you need to spend a little extra time and attention to take your agency to the next level.

We’ve identified five key areas that really indicate an agency’s health, and we’re going to help you figure out where you need to spend a little more time. To get that free assessment, all you have to do is text the word assessment to 38470. Again, text the word assessment to 38470, and we will send you a link so you can do that at your leisure. And hopefully that will give you some new insights and some direction in terms of your time and attention in the agency.

In the meantime, as always I’m around if I can be helpful, [email protected] and I will be back next week with another great guest and more things for you to ponder. Talk to you soon.

Speaker 1:

That’s all for this episode of AMI’s Build a Better Agency brought to you by HubSpot. Be sure to visit agencymanagementinstitute.com to learn more about our workshops, online courses, and other ways we serve small to mid-size agencies. Don’t miss an episode as we help you build the agency you’ve always dreamed of owning.