Episode 442

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After a tough sales year in 2023, many of you have been looking for the next thing to consistently fill your sales pipeline with new prospects. With sales cycles taking longer than before, it’s essential always to have warm prospects teed up and ready to go. But how?

The answer is in thought leadership combined with lead gen and lead magnets. Positioning yourself and your agency as an authority in your niche (and giving some of it away for free) generates trust in your agency’s expertise before they’ve officially met you.

When done right, lead gen can be mostly automated. And having great lead magnets like a podcast or YouTube channel, or offering a free mini-service to prospects to get them interested in your services will build trust and establish your agency as a thought leader in your niche.

This week, Jay Feldman shares his tips and tricks for how his agencies used automated lead gen and lead magnets to still be profitable in a challenging sales year. This episode is packed with actionable insights that you’ll want to take notes on, so make sure you have a pen and paper ready to go, and check out the links in the show notes for all of the programs and tools he mentions during the interview.

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.

lead gen

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • How lead gen and lead magnets turned a bad sales year into a good one
  • Commit to being relentlessly helpful to others
  • What Jay’s agencies used as lead magnets to attract attention from prospects
  • How to retain the clients you close from lead gen
  • Giving big wins early on when working with new clients
  • Establishing trust authority in the first 90-120 days with lead gen clients
  • Cold email tactics that work
  • What defines success for lead gen and lead magnets
  • Scalable lead magnets that bring results
  • Avoiding shiny object syndrome and doing what works for your agency

“I don't like to take broad economic trends and just accept it. There's always something that you can do to combat that.” - Jay Feldman Share on X
“We've found that the best way to get successful CEOs onto a sales call is to offer them an interview on a podcast.” - Jay Feldman Share on X
“Almost all of our clients come in through my YouTube channel and they come in knowing who I am and wanting to work with us.” - Jay Feldman Share on X
“If we're producing leads for these clients, then there's only one thing that can cause them to leave, which is their incompetence.” - Jay Feldman Share on X
“The stronger your lead magnets are, the better your results are going to be, especially if you're giving and not asking in that first email.” - Jay Feldman Share on X

Ways to contact Jay:


Hey everybody. Drew here. You know, we are always looking for more ways to be helpful and meet you wherever you’re at to help you grow your agency. It’s one of the reasons why we’ve produced this podcast for so long, and I’m super grateful that you listen as often as you do. However, there are some topics that are better suited for quick hyper-focused answers in under 10 minutes. That’s where our YouTube channel really comes in. For quick doses of inspiration, best practices, tips and tricks, head over to YouTube dot com slash the at sign Agency Management institute. Again, that’s YouTube dot com slash the at sign or symbol.

And then Agency Management Institute, all one word. Subscribe and search the existing video database for all sorts of actionable topics that you can implement in your shop today. Alright, let’s get to the show.

It doesn’t matter what kind of agency you run, traditional digital media buying, web dev, PRR 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. Guess what? Another episode of Build a Better Agency. We are marching our way to episode 500. Have some big things planned for that episode. So hopefully you’ll join in the countdown with us as we, as we head that way. But in the meantime, we still have all kinds of things to talk about, all kinds of great guests, and you are gonna love my guest for today. We are gonna talk about one of your favorite topics, which is biz Dev and what worked in 23, even though for a lot of you, it was really a brutal year and what’s gonna work in 24. Before I introduce our guest and we dig into that conversation, I wanna tell you and remind you that the Build a Better Agency Summit is coming.

It is May 21st and 22nd Member Day, or sometimes as we refer to it. Family Day is May 20th. Amazing speakers. We’re gonna talk about how to leverage data. We’re gonna talk about the latest AI trends. We’re gonna talk about the fact that odds are you’re leaving money on the table and how to, how to change that trajectory. In terms of sales, we are gonna talk about change fatigue and how that’s impacting clients and team members. We are gonna talk about succession planning and figuring out how to sell your agency well, or how to buy an agency efficiently and effectively and profitably.

We are gonna be talking about tax strategy. We are gonna be talking about cash flow. We’re gonna be talking about grooming and growing your team. We have topics and speakers on pretty much every aspect of running your agency. And they are top-notch. They’re awesome. So not only are you gonna learn a ton from the speakers, but you are gonna learn just as much from the other people you are sitting next to at the breakout sessions, in the round tables at lunch and the keynotes. We attract amazing agency owners and leaders who show up ready to learn, but also to teach, to share what they’re doing that’s working. And we’ve created a structure where you have ample opportunity to meet each other, to learn from each other, to connect with each other, all with the goal of doing this very hard thing, which is leading and running and owning an agency in a way that feels less difficult, that feels less alone, that feels like you are supported, that you have compadres who wanna share with you what’s working for them and what’s not working.

And for you just to be part of a community of like-minded professionals who have the same commitment to quality and profitability and taking good care of your people and your family that you do. So I’m telling you, we attract the best of the best and we would like you to be among them. So head over to agency management institute.com. The Build a Better Agency Summit button on the navigation is to the far left. Click on it and register before the prices go up. Come join us in Denver, May 21st and 22nd. If you’re a member, join us for member or family day. Great member only content those days or that day.

And then we all go out to dinner together. So we would love to have you with us. Please join us, register now before we sell out. Okay. All right. So my guest today is a gentleman named Jay Feldman. Jay owns an agency, actually two agencies down in Florida, and he did the Impossible in 2023. He grew both of his agencies through a very targeted and very specific opportunity generating methodology that he’s gonna share with us today. So grab a pen or pencil, grab a pad of paper, hop off the treadmill because you’re gonna wanna take notes. This is, this is gonna be some really practical useful stuff that you’re gonna want to implement now.

So without further ado, let’s get Jay on the show and let’s start learning from him. Hey Jay, welcome to the podcast. Thanks for joining us.

Thank you for having me, brother. It’s a pleasure. Talk to my people.

Tell us a little bit about your background before I start peppering you with questions.

Cool. And not to bore everybody, I’ll keep it quick. I am from Florida, actually started my career as a medical doctor. Went all the way through medical school, did a year of training as a family medicine doctor. But during my medical school years, I started my first marketing agency where we were basically serving doctors, clinics, hospitals, people who generically sucked at marketing. Right. And that ballooned it did very, very well. I had a partner, Scott Barnick, who’s still my partner to this day. And after a year of a being a family medicine resident, trying to take orders and spend all day, all the day at com, computer charting, decided to to up and leave and do business full-time. And now I’m here in St.

Petersburg, Florida, running my agency full-time. We’ve got a PR agency and a lead generation agency. We’ve got about 65 employees. We own office buildings in St. Pete and Orlando. And I function now as our CMO and Visionary helping us keep our lead pipelines full and building out new offers.

I went from being a doctor to owning an agency that, that has to be a very unusual, there’s not

Tr trajectory

Us out there. No. Whenever I, yeah.

Whenever I meet others. ’cause there are others. They’re rare and sparing, but we connect immediately. It’s a, it was an interesting identity shift.

I bet. And I, I I’m envisioning the conversation with your family. Hey, I’ve decided I don’t wanna be a doctor. I’m gonna, I’m gonna be a marketing guy instead.

I think my grandma pooped her pants when I told her that I was leaving medicine to go be an entrepreneur. She


My parents were a little bit more trusting, understanding, they knew I, I had already built up a level of success. So it wasn’t like a, a blind bet that I was gonna go make it. I was already making pretty good money when I left. My grandma on the other hand thought, she, she let me have it Jewish Grandma, what are you doing?

You’re a doctor. Well, and and I’m sorry, her bragging rights just went right down the tubes. Right. I mean, she wants to have a grandson. That’s a doctor. Yeah. Yes. Yeah.

And technical. I’m like, grandma, you still do. I’ll always be a doctor. I I earned the title. I got my, I did my training. You can still call me a doctor. She and

She, she come to terms of it was

Okay. Yeah. And now she’s seen what I built. And it’s, it’s a different story. But that first couple years were, were, were tough. Esp esp on me too. Whole identity is kind of invested in this thing that you’ve spent hundreds of thousands of dollars, thousands and thousands of hours doing. Everybody calls you, doctor looks at you as a doctor, and then Right. Boom, you’re, you’re not practicing medicine anymore. Yeah. Wild, wild feeling.

And well, and then you have to explain it to everybody. I mean, that would be, you know, that’s, I’m sure that was a challenge. But now, like you said, you’ve been sort of vindicated Yeah.

And admitting that you made a mistake, which is sometimes tough, because that’s essentially what that was. I was not happy I made a mistake. Yeah. I’m, I’m blessed to have learned what I, what I learned. I think there’s amazing power in understanding human physiology and medicine. Yeah. But yeah, I mean, imagine where I always think about where I would’ve been and if I had invested that money and time into my business, how far ahead I

Would be. Right. Right. But I mean, it, it’s also a valuable lesson of, you know, trusting your gut. Even at that young age. You know, when, when something doesn’t fit or feel right. One of the conversations I have with agency owners every day is, you know, you guys get a nagging feeling about something or there’s just something that’s not quite right. Yeah. But it’s not the tried and true answer that everybody gives you. And so you rail against your own intuition. And oftentimes most of the time your intuition is right. If you would just listen and, and lean into that. But that’s a hard lesson for an entrepreneur to learn. So you’re fortunate that you learned that young.

Right. I could have learned it much later in life and it could have been under much more dire circumstances, I think. Yeah. So the real lesson there was that you do need to follow your own intuition. I had listened to my friends and family and grandma up into that point Sure, sure. Where everyone was saying, go be a plastic surgeon, go be a plastic surgeon. And I was good at it. So I did it understanding that it was probably a, a road to a good life. Six figures, respect all the good good stuff. Yeah. But yeah, at some point didn’t feel right. It wasn’t me. And I’m glad I was brave enough to rip the cord, pull the bandaid off, whereas most people aren’t, and they’ll just sit in that life and endure misery day after day.

Yeah. Well, I think we all probably have friends that are doing work that they don’t enjoy. They’re doing it for all the things you said, because it’s respectable. It’s a good living. It’s, I, I’ve invested, I’ve gotten an MBA or in your case, a medical, like I, I’ve invested a lot, so I have to finish this out so I get it. Yeah.

Hey, we’re on the other side of it now. That’s right. I look back at it and, and now I’m, I couldn’t have been more confident in my decision. I love what I do day after day, I get to come to work with my dogs and my best friends. Yeah. But obviously we’re talking to a bunch of agency owners, so hopefully they’re all happy doing what they love. Achieving the dreams.

Yeah. Well, you know, after 23 though, I think a lot of people are feeling a little less happy. 23 for most agencies was a brutal year when it, especially when it comes to lead gen and winning new winning opportunities to even present or fight for business, let alone winning the business. And so the timing of you being on the show is perfect, given that one of the areas where you’ve developed an expertise is in lead gen. So I’m curious, how was 23 for your agencies?

So I’d say we noticed a lot of the, the pain that other agencies were feeling. And I’m glad that you, you mentioned that. ’cause I always wonder how everybody else is doing. I don’t really have my finger on the pulse of this, like you probably do. Right. But I don’t like to just take broad economic trends and just accept it. Like, oh, it’s gonna be a bad year. There’s always something that you can do to combat that. So yeah, what I did when I started to see slowdowns people more hesitant to spend money, people firing their agencies in 2023. I mean, I were on a PR agency talk about the first thing to get cut when there’s budget cuts. Right? This is not something that typically generates direct revenue for clients. So what do you do?

You adapt, you figure out other things to, to offer, like our lead generation agency, which was a little bit more protected by economic conditions. The last agency you’re going to fire is the one packing your sales team’s calendar with, with qualified calls. And then we came up with new creative ways to, to generate leads. So I think it’s through those times of pain, like in 2023, that companies grow and take massive leaps forward. And then when economic turns the other way and things are good, all of those new systems and acquisition channels that you’ve built are now on fire because economics are good.

And all these systems are just churning in, churning in leads. So we did a lot of interesting things. I’m, I’m hope hopefully talking about some of them.

I am. We, we are absolutely gonna do that. So in 2022 at our Build a Better Agency Summit, the conference that we hold every year, we had an amazing speaker named Andrew Davis. And what he talked about was how constraints or problems breed creativity. That when you are in a tighter box and you are facing crisis of some kind. And he was actually talking about all of the innovative things that came out of Covid when people couldn’t do business the way they had always done business. But his point was, constraint generates creativity and new ideas, innovation if we recognize that there’s value in being in this really tight spot and sort of pushing our way out of, out of that spot.

So I’m curious, talk to us a little bit about what do you think was the biggest game changer in terms of lead gen for you, for your agency, and also for your clients with the lead gen agency. What broke through the mold that everybody was just banging against in 23?

So in general, I think this is gonna be really productive advice for anybody who’s doing B2B lead gen, which is everyone, I guess we’re talking about. What was the biggest game changer for us was going from a message of book a call, we’re awesome to here’s this free thing that you really, really want. We were doing the same mistake in our cult in our top of funnel ads on Facebook, on Google, on LinkedIn, on TikTok. We were making the same mistake on our cold outreach campaigns on LinkedIn and cold email. Pretty much all of our messaging was here’s who we’ve helped, here’s how we can help you. We’d love to see if it’s a good opportunity, go ahead and schedule a call.

And my guess is a lot of the people listening to this have pretty much that same call to action on all of their, their messaging, on their ads, on their cold emails, if they’re doing cold email. What really moved the needle for us, the biggest thing that we shifted in 2023 was investing a lot of time and money into great lead magnets. And I’m talking about lead magnets that cost us tens of thousands of dollars, lots of time, and cost us thousands of dollars per month to upkeep. I’ll give you examples of some of those lead magnets. Okay. But the messaging on all of our ads and our cold email shifted, it was instead book a call with us. Love what you’re doing. I’d love to to offer this for you. I think you’d be a great fit if you want it.

There’s no cost. They’ll come in to, through that lead magnet, we’ll execute that microservice for them. Give them that thing that they really want. And now the law of reciprocity says, wow, they were awesome. They did a great job. They were communicative, they did what they said they were gonna do. And then when we ask them to, to book a call, we’re gonna be much more likely to get that call out of them. Yeah. Much more likely to get the click, the conversion on all of our ads, all of our cold emails.

Yeah. So as, as the listeners know, in 2020, I co-wrote a book with a guy named Steven Wener called Sell with Authority. I mean, it’s all about how do you position yourself as a thought leader and give away everything that you know to attract prospects. And so what you’re talking about is exactly that, is, look, we, we know something that would be helpful to your business. I want to give it to you because I am committed to being helpful, relentlessly helpful. And you know, that shoot for us, that’s what this podcast is all about, right? It’s our way of being helpful on a regular basis. And I know that you have a show as well. So again, it’s that modeling your expertise by being helpful upfront in every relationship.

Somebody’s gotta give first. And you know, the model is you keep giving. And a subset of those people will, to your point, because of reciprocity, because of the trust build, because you’ve already been helpful to them, they’ll lean in a little further and then the opportunity is to have conversation. So tell us about some of the lead gen tools or magnets. What kind of things did you use to attract that attention?

So two lead magnets that work very well as, as some examples that I’ll give for the PR end. The first we purchased a news publication, usa wire.com. We spent a lot of money building its SEO getting contributors to publish on that platform. And now we basically have direct access to publish anything that we want in 2023. With the ar arrival of, of AI and generative copy, we were able to basically offer this lead magnet at scale. People would come in through the funnel, they would answer some questions about their business or their entrepreneurial journey and give us some vague direction on the article. And we’ve been able to use AI to write unbelievable articles all without any humans needed that really don’t require any editing.

They, they typically love them if they answer the questions correctly. And then publish that, do this news publication all pretty much automate automated using a tool called Zapier. Now we’ve published this article on USA wire, we deliver it to them. They typically share that article on social media, which increases the reputation of the news publication and now they want more. So that was the first really successful lead magnet that we were able to launch. And we still run that to this day. It works. Awesome. The second one, we actually built a podcast specifically as a lead magnet. This is called the Scaling Secrets Podcast, not the one that I host myself, which is Mentors Collective, the Scaling Secrets podcast.

We have three separate hosts that we pay $50 per episode to. We’ve found that the best way to get really successful CEOs, people who have a hundred plus employee employees onto a sales call, the only way to get their attention is to offer them an interview on a podcast. This is, it works incredibly well. We have like a 30% reply rate to this. Once they get on the podcast, we give them an awesome interview and we produce this episode like crazy. We’ve got a team that does the video editing, audio engineering, social promotion of that episode. So what’s the effect of that? They share the episode with their network, of course, likely of other entrepreneurs and business owners. And then we can go in for the ask, Hey, I hope you enjoyed the interview.

I’d love to talk to you about another opportunity that we have for you. Yeah. And now we’ve got our sales team loaded up with calls from very successful CEOs and executives. So those are two lead magnets that work very, very well for our PR agency. Our qualified leads are worth somewhere around a thousand dollars to us. So it’s worth it for us to invest in, in those podcast episodes and in that article lead magnet. And these are microservices that these people would probably otherwise pay for, right? So not like info lead magnets, like eBooks or mini courses. Those do work better than will you book a call with me, but not quite as well as a microservice Like, like I mentioned.

So for you, the clients that I were either on the podcast or published the article through your news resource. Yes. What was the, what was the time between them doing that on average? And if they were going to actually engage with you, what was the window of time between the free thing and the first paid thing

Pretty quickly? Typically. So there is a pretty in-depth follow-up sequence to try and get them booked on our calendar. All of those are high value leads. So they go to our BDR team to actually call them and try and set them on, on an appointment. But within that funnel, you know, as soon as they fill out those questionnaires about their, about their company, so that we can write the article, the next step is we’d love to talk to you about some other opportunities that we have in the pipeline for you straight to the calendar. And a lot of them book directly after filling out that form, because we’re already in the process of doing something for them, right? So they want to get on the calendar and look interested. And typically they are interested. Same thing with the podcast funnel, that that converts very, very well.

And for agencies, as you know, because you live it every day, you know, the first few months of a new client relationship, that’s us giving a lot of time, a lot of energy ramping up learning. And so when we have leads like this, it matters a lot that we keep them for a while. So what is your retention rate when, when someone comes in through one of those two channels? What’s the likelihood that you still have them as a, as a paying client a year later?

I’ll say, we haven’t rolled out these lead magnets long enough to know a year later if those are going to be the better clients. But I guess the question is around retention rate. How do we retain the clients that we close, especially as a PR agency, this can be tough, the lead gen agency a lot easier, right? If you’re actively making money for them, what reason did they have to let you go?

Yeah. We talk a lot about countable visible work versus intangible work, right? And, and so your lead gen agency is doing countable work. Look for every dollar I give you, you get $2 in leads or sales, yes. Or whatever. As you said, that’s a much easier tale to tell than the PR side, which is, look, you’re gonna give me money and we’re gonna do our best to play stories and do this or that. And those things will lead to, but the, it’s so indirect, it is much harder to correlate the value proposition, right? Yeah.

So that’s really where the art is. How do you correlate the value proposition? How do you give them numbers? How do you give them guaranteed wins early on? ’cause all of those things are basically the factors and whether or not that person stays with you. So we’ve done everything in our power to make it as countable as possible. And if you’re running like an SEO agency or a social agency, those are kind of in that same realm, right? Like, we’re not gonna make money for you right away. This could be a year down the road before you start seeing correlated results. So in the PR agency, we use a tool called coverage book where we upload all of their coverage, we assign a dollar value to the impressions that were received on that piece of coverage, the average domain reputation and the effect on their website’s.

SEO. So all of the kind of intangible numbers that you get from pr, yeah. How much of a link boost did you get from those things? How many eyeballs did you get from those things? And then how can you leverage those PR opportunities, those articles, those TV interviews to increase conversions on your website, to increase conversions on your, your landing page and your ads, helping them to implement the PR across all of those metrics and then look at their conversions over time,


So we, we find a way to give them as, as many numbers as we possibly can. The other tricky part is how do you give them really big wins really early on? Establish a good, a good kickoff, a good relationship from the very beginning, right?

Yeah. That first 90 days, right? Yes.

You want to onboard as, as fast and clean as possible. We like to build a little bit of a personal relationship. We’ll have the, those new clients on the podcast with me and my co-founder, build that founder relationship. We’ll send them gift boxes. All of those little, little trinkets that, that all goes a long way. The real secret is giving them big wins early on, right? So we’ve established some really great partnerships with award companies, with media publications that we can essentially guarantee that cost us a decent amount of money. But we’ve realized if we’re able to get those things for our clients very early on, then we’ll get at least two or three more months out of them. And then the goal is to have a repeatable stream of cov coverage and conversations every single month, which just really comes down to being good at your job, which we try and do a little better every day.

Right. I wanna ask about the retention on the lead gen side, but first let’s take a quick break and then we’ll come back and we’ll talk a little bit about that. Hey everybody, thanks for listening today. Before I go back to the interview, I just wanna remind you that we are always offering some really amazing workshops. And you can see the whole [email protected] on the navigation head to how we help scroll down. And you’ll see workshops, and you can see the whole list there with descriptions of each workshop. They are all in Denver and we’ve got them throughout the year for agency owners, account execs, agency leaders, CFOs. We have a little something for everybody no matter what it is that you’re struggling with, people, new business, money, all of those things we’ve got covered.

So check ’em out and come join us. All right. Let’s get back to the show. Alright, we are back and Jay and I are talking about how his agency bucked the trend in 23 by keeping the pipeline full and winning new clients and keeping those clients. So before the break we were talking about how they kind of lock and load the first 90 days or first 120 days on the PR side of, of their business. So now Jay, I wanna talk a little bit about, so what happens for you in the first 90 or so days on the lead gen side to get that those clients, as we said, you know, the, for every agency, it’s, it’s all about can we keep those folks a year or longer right?

To make sure that we are actually generating revenue after the ramp up of the first couple months. So what, what did you find successful in terms of winning the hearts and wallets of your lead gen clients in the last year or so?

Sure. And it’s, it’s interesting for the lead gen side, I, we practice a lot of what you talked about earlier, which is building trust and authority by giving all of your knowledge for free. Yeah. Whereas on the PR side, we use a lot of lead magnets, a lot of cold outreach on the lead gen side. Almost all of our clients come in through my YouTube channel where I talk pretty exclusively about generating B2B leads about cold email. They come on board wanting to work with us. So that actually gives us a pretty good leg up when it comes to retention as well. They come in knowing who I am, wanting to work with us. We don’t have to fight to earn their trust. They already trust us. That helps. Now how do we retain these lead gen clients? This one is very number correlated.

It’s kind of same principles. We copy and pasted a lot of what we do for onboarding from PR to our lead gen agency, right? The gifts, the personal touches, really clean, smooth onboarding and transition processes from sales to operations. But really the trick with the lead gen is showing them that I’m personally involved a little bit. So for example, when we’re writing their cold email copy, my team will do pretty much the first draft, come sit with me and I’ll record a loom video going over the copy why we did what we did. We’ll generate a lead magnet for them. They don’t know that we’re doing this, they don’t know that they’re paying for this. This is a surprise bonus that we give them during that first week.

And we could tell them in the sales process, yeah, it comes with a lead magnet included in this package. That didn’t help our conversions very much, but it helped our retention a lot by not telling them and surprising them with that bonus. So that’s a little, a little tidbit that somebody can think about personal involvement, doing a really good job with their onboarding, with copy that they’re going to love showing that I’m personally involved. But really the secret with retaining lead gen clients is having a client that you’re confident you can do a good job for. If we’re producing leads for these clients, then there’s only one thing that can cause them to leave, which is their incompetence.

They’re not following up with the leads, they’re not closing those deals. If we’re generating leads for them, we’re doing our job the best that we possibly can. So we help them in any way possible to fix that backend problem. Whether it’s they’re not following up with them soon enough, their offer’s broken, their sales process is broken. So they can talk to our sales director to go through kinda that sales process, their BDR process, their follow up process. We give them access to a CRM with pre-populated sequences to automatically follow up with those people until they’re booked on a calendar. So trying to solve as many of those potential is issues as we possibly can. What is their offer? How can we make this work with cold email?

Okay. Final, we figured out a way to make it work, built this lead magnet to guarantee that results are gonna be good and now we gotta work at worry about their backend process because we can generate all the leads in the world, right? If they’re not converting them into calls and sales, they’re not gonna last with us. So it’s really just about results at that point and giving them more than they expected and everything that they actually need so that they can stay with us. But the unfortunate reality is, even if we do generate a hundred leads a month for somebody, if they’re not closing them and they’re not booking them onto into calls, right? There’s not, there’s not much else we can do. Right? So we’ve seen that 70% of our clients are gonna be with us forever.

’cause we’ve got a well-oiled machine. We’re generating leads, we’re turning those leads into calls and sales. The other 30%, no matter what we do, they’re, they’re just not going to typically not because of what we’re doing on our end, but because of what’s happening on the backend. So the secret is trying to do everything to fix the backend, which is hard.

Yeah. It’s interesting because, you know, a lot of agencies, there’s the dotted line between marketing and sales, and a lot of agencies are loath to cross the line into the sales issues that you just talked about, which is your salespeople are terrible, they don’t follow up. There’s a broken sequence. The person who answers the phone is grumpy. You know, fill in the blank. And one of the conversations that we’re having with agency owners is you, you have to cross the line. Yeah. You have to stick your nose into the sales process because otherwise, exactly what you said, you can generate all the leads in the world. But if they, if they don’t see appointments or sales calls or whatever their next step is, if they don’t see that and they can’t convert those into sales, then what they say to the agency is, Hey, we gotta pause, we gotta pause for a month or two.

Yeah. Because you’re, you’re sending us too many leads, or the leads aren’t as qualified as they should be or whatever the excuse is. But what they’re really saying is, we don’t know what to do. Yeah. Like, we don’t know how to handle these leads, so we don’t wanna keep paying you for leads that we’re not converting, and which then ends up in a 120 or 180 day engagement and then you end up getting fired because they don’t have their act together on the sales side.

Yeah. And there’s only so much you can do. Yeah. From, from your end to fix that. If their offer sucks, what are you gonna go in and restructure their offer? ’cause they’re not converting at a high enough rate. It’s, it’s a hard problem to solve. But there are a lot of little things that you can do to, to move the needle for them. Like giving them the, the, the follow-up sequence to get people booked on a call, like giving them some free sales consulting, like giving them a little mini course on here’s how to handle an interested lead. Don’t copy and paste some generic message three days later, speed to lead. Here’s how you personalize that message. All those little things that you can think about and get creative are going to move the needle.

Yeah, for sure. So you’ve mentioned cold email a couple times, and I suspect that some of the listeners ears have perked up because typically cold emails are not very effective in our world. This is a high, this is a high ticket item hiring an agency, it’s a considered purchase. They, it is, it, it they have to be deeply ensconced in the, you know, no like, trust funnel to buy from an agency. So talk a little bit about how you are making cold email work and, and the methodology by which you identify prospects to send those cold emails and what you’re doing inside that email sequence to actually get people who are big enough, have a budget, are ready to move to actually have a conversation with you.

Sure. And I, I wanna preface with cold email does work. It is, in my opinion, the best way to generate qualified leads for the lowest cost. But it’s not easy to get, right? Just like any other form of marketing, you’re competing against a lot of people. People. And if one little cog in the wheel is isn’t working the way that it should, the whole thing breaks and stops working. So kind of a to z cold email, this is what we do for clients, this is what I teach. You need to figure out who you’re going to email. So agencies, it’s actually very easy. There’s a lot of B2B contact databases online that you could subscribe to. You can get large lists of these people who would be perfect fit clients. We use a tool called apollo.io where we can export tens of thousands of these contacts at once based on our filters.

And for our PR agency that spans across a lot of different industries. We’re typically looking for decision makers with somewhere between 20 and a hundred employees. So that’s millions of people around the world, right? Millions. So once you know who you’re going to email, which is important, ’cause if you email the wrong person with the wrong offer spam, the whole thing breaks, right? So list of who to email, step one, step two, you gotta clean that list. Make sure that all of the emails are valid. I don’t care what database you subscribe to and how much you pay, chances are a lot of those are, a lot of that is old data. People move companies all the time. A lot of times the databases get it wrong. So clean that data, we use million verifier.

To do that, you’re gonna need to set up mailboxes. So email accounts that are not linked to your primary domain. So for example, we’re otter pr.com. We do not want to send cold emails from [email protected]. This is a, again, especially if you’re not good at this, the chances of you getting marked as spam and landing your domain and a spam host list where your blacklist that is, is high. So you don’t wanna take that chance with your primary domain. So we set up similar ones. If there are otter pr.com, we’re gonna do otter public relations.com, otter pub rail.com, similar domains, right? And then we’re gonna set up two to three mailboxes per domain. And we’re gonna send about 30 to 40 emails per day per mailbox.

For those that want, want this specific numbers, we’re gonna use a sending tool. We use instantly AI to actually deliver those emails. So you go into instantly.dot ai, you log in with that mailbox that you set up, you set the warming speed. So email warmup is, it’s exchanging emails with other emails within the, with other mailboxes within the system, marking them as important, removing them from spam training the email servers that these are good mailboxes, sending good emails. Mm. You wanna do this for about three to four weeks before you actually start cold emailing to build up some reputation on those new domains and those new mailboxes.

Yeah. That’s, that’s a step I think a lot of people miss. Yeah.

That’s a step a lot of people miss or get wrong, right? And again, there’s, it’s, each one of these things I’m talking about is so nuanced, right? In the setup, for example, if you don’t have a custom tracking domain in the DNS records of that, of the mailbox you set up, the whole thing breaks. If you don’t have a DM, A and a D Kim record, the whole thing breaks. So each of these steps is nuanced. So I don’t wanna make it sound too easy with this A to Z, but it does work. So within instantly, once you’ve got the mailboxes set up warm, you know what you’re gonna say to people, which is the sequence. Typically, you’re gonna drip between three and five emails over the course of a couple weeks to each contact. Now the hardest part to teach and talk about here is what you’re actually going to say to those contacts,

Right? Right. Yeah.

This is the magic, this is the difference between it working or you getting marked as spam. And this is where the expertise and creativity really comes into play. And I recommend doing a lot of testing. My general advice is that lead magnets work, then work better than book a call, buy this thing. So find something that you can actually give value on, whether that’s an ebook, a mini course, ideally something a little bit more profound, that’s not overdone. So that’s the part that’s hard to teach. What are you actually going to say to them based on where you’re located? There are laws in place to protect consumers from cold email. Not so much businesses, but consumers. That’s why B2B cold email, I think will, will always be safe, will always be a thing.

But in America, for example, we have the Can Spam Act. So you do have to be careful with what you put in those cold emails. It needs to be clear that it’s a marketing email. You need to have an address, you need to have a one click unsubscribe. And based on wherever you’re sending cold emails from and who you’re sending them to, you need to make sure that you’re, you’re doing it in accordance with the laws. Then, you know, load up that campaign with new lead data. We send about 10 to 20,000 emails per day to, to these contacts. And we’ve got a very healthy pipeline of people coming in who are interested getting our lead magnets and into our, into our system. This is a much more efficient and affordable way of getting top of funnel traffic into our world than, for example, running Google ads or Facebook ads.

That is a much more expensive way to generate top of funnel traffic and it’s not gonna be as qualified. ’cause you’re not pre-qualifying them with your filters on Apollo or wherever you’re getting those emails from. So it does work, it does take some fine tuning. It is nuanced, but that’s essentially the gist of getting cold email to work.

And for you, what are the numbers of, if somebody gets into a sequence, what’s the likelihood that they open any emails or that they, like, talk to us about sort of the data points for you of, as you’re testing, as you’re testing either the magnets or the list or whatever. What, what is su what do you define as success?

So we have our numbers that we go for now in our agency, which is around a 70% open rate, a 20% reply rate, and a 10% opportunity rate. Now, this is very high compared to the, the metrics that I tell most people, but that’s because we have such strong lead magnets. The stronger your lead magnets are, the better your results are going to be, especially if you’re giving and not asking in that first email. Now, when I’m consulting other people on building their cold email campaigns, what you should probably expect is to, to, to hope for around a 60% open rate. The factors in that open rate are how well your mailbox is set up and warm. You wanna make sure it’s actually delivering to the, to the inbox, right? And then the subject line and the first line of that email, we call that the preview text, is going to determine how often that email gets opened.

The next thing to look at is the reply rate. So we look for a reply rate of around 2% as like this campaign’s got potential made some fine tuning 2% reply rate. I mean, two out of a hundred people are actually replying to that email, right? The, the factors there are everything above that I just mentioned, the setup of the mailbox preview text, but also the call to action. What is the offer and what is the ask That’s going to be the big variable that you’re gonna switch to manipulate the reply rate outta that 2% reply rate. We’re looking for a 1% opportunity rate. So if two people reply out of a hundred, one of those people is genuinely interested and genuinely qualified, that’s I’d say the bare minimum for a successful email campaign.

Obviously there’s a lot of ways to go from there, but if you’re just starting, that’s what you should look for.

So you, so you’ve done this not only for yourself, but for a lot of B2B clients.


When you think about what, and you’re encouraging clients because I, I, I suspect everybody goes to the ebook first or the, you know, whatever first, right?

They’re easy,

Right? What are the lead magnets? What if you were gonna kinda lump them into categories? Which ones are the ones that you’re like, you know what, these five or 10, what these five or 10 lead magnets knocked it outta the park. They were big enough, they were valuable enough that it caught people’s attention and it, it broke through the clutter and they actually clicked on a link or did something that showed us that they had, we had, we had captured their interest.

So if I were to lump them into categories, I’d say the, the big category where most people will reach to is info lead magnets. Info lead magnets are like cheat sheets, eBooks, mini courses, free video webinar. So better than nothing, right? Info lead magnet is better than asking for something but not as good as some of the higher quality lead magnets, which are like the mini service lead magnets is what I call them. A mini service lead magnet is like the ones that I mentioned earlier. Those are obviously much bigger services. So if there’s on a spectrum of like info to service, those would be towards the end. But there’s a lot of other things along the way that you can offer. For example, in our lead gen agency, we offer a lead magnet.

We will write your, your cold email copy for free. Just head into this tool, give us some info about your offer and your company. And we run that through an AI prompt. It spits out a cold email that they can use. And that AI is already trained on all of the cold emails that I’ve written myself. So they’re getting a really good cold email. Typically, like most of the time I’ve tried this thing a a bunch of different times. It’s something that I would typically use. It doesn’t have the creativity and nuance to really take all of a hundred different industries and companies and offers with a hundred different target avatars that they’re, that they’re trying to go after and right and write the perfect email every time. But it’s a good starting point.

And in order to use that lead magnet now, we get their email, their phone number, their name, and if they take action on that lead magnet, it means they’re interested in lead gen, they’re interested in cold email. They’ve raised their hand and said, I’m a good fit. So now we can go and, and close that deal. So that was very easy for us to set up. Takes no money, almost no money. I mean, the cost of using open ai, which is pennies and no human intervention. So that’s a good creative example of a, a good lead magnet that’s a mi microservice that gets people to raise their hand, click, give you their info. So my call to action if you’re thinking about lead magnets is how can you get creative and how can you get creative using ai?

Yeah, well I was just gonna say, it has to be Scalable that’s the right, it, it can’t take a lot of human time and energy because right, the volume you’re sending out emails, even even at the 2%, 1% numbers. That’s, that’s a lot of bodies doing free work that may or may not result,

We’re 20, 30 of these articles per day. If that was done by humans, that would cost us a small fortune. So yeah, it needs to be Scalable. And now with ai, I mean these, this came out in 2023, like the real capabilities of using it. So that’s kind of where this, where this started. What really helped us jump ahead in that realm.

So we’re getting to the top of the hour. So I, I have about 3000 more questions, but we, we won’t get to them all this time, but what’s, what does 24 look like for you? Like you’ve learned a lot in 23, you sort of beat the odds in terms of creating pipeline opportunities. So what did you learn in 23 that you’re gonna tweak in 24 to have even better success in this coming year?

I think general advice that every business owner should follow is don’t get shiny object syndrome. There’s always, everyone always wants to do what that guy’s doing ’cause it’s working so well for him. And he showing me his results. I learned this lesson years ago, is that if something’s working well for you, lean into it. Double down into that thing right now. I see how well these lead magnets and microservices and how the AI is driving these things, it’s working extremely well for us in 2024. We’re leaning even an even harder, we bought an award company, we’re building out new, more exaggerate lead magnets to give away even more attractive services.

We’ve got two of those in the pipeline that I’m very excited for. And these are getting a ton of business owners, executives into our pipeline. So even if they don’t sign up for our, you know, $8,000 a month retainer PR services right away, they’re probably gonna sign up for something at some point or buy something at some point. We’ve got offers going out all the time and we see our list building fast of people that trust us of people that have taken these lead magnets and appreciate it. So that’s what 2024 looks like for us. The lead gen agency’s only been around for about eight months and has already scaled an enormously fast. So I am leaning in harder to giving away free content online.

YouTube Instagram. I’ve got a team for each of those things, those that is keeping our lead gen pipeline full and people are signing up because they saw me online and they trust me. That’s working. I’m leaning into that as well.

Yeah, interesting. That of all the years to form a lead gen agency 2023 when people were really struggling finding leads. So yes, it’s, it speaks volumes about also sort of, you know, when everyone else is zigging, you can zag and find success if, if you are entrepreneurial enough. But also you didn’t do this by yourself. So one of the, one of the challenges for many agencies is the new business effort sits squarely on the agency owner’s shoulders. Yes. And they translate that to mean they have to do it all by themselves. As we wrap up, how did you learn or how did you know that it was okay to make the investment, to have other people help you execute biz dev efforts?

Because otherwise, what I see is a lot of agency owners get quagmire in other things. They get pulled into client work, they get pulled into an employee issue or whatever. And so the new business activity ebbs and flows to be kind and it’s not consistent and it’s not continually being tested and improved. So what gave you the insight or the courage or whatever we want to call it, to say, you know what, I need to build a team. I need to invest in a team of people to help me fire on all cylinders when it comes to, to lead generation.

Now this might not be the answer you’re looking for. I’ve got a large team and I’ve got a co-founder and if you’ve ever read the book Rocket Fuel, I’m very much the visionary, the biz dev, the marketing, my co-founder Scott, who you’ve probably seen walking around behind me very much. The operator, the integrator, he loves the legal, the finance, the spreadsheets. Now, whenever there is a new project, a new agency, a new arm, a new offer, I have not been able to find good people to, to help me execute those things. It’s typically me locking myself in a room for a while and building something new. And I think that might end up falling on these agency owners until you’re ready to find, I mean, make that big hire that we’ve yet to make that two to $500,000 a year hire with somebody who has that type of experience.

Right now, what gave us the confidence, we had a proven model. We had revenue coming in. We weren’t betting everything. It was still a service. So our overhead was quite low when we started this because we already had the back office, right? The, the confidence was, I was good at this. I have done this before. I was doing this for us, this is a service that sells itself because you’re directly making money for somebody and for reference, the reason we started this was because in 2023, everybody was coming on the sales call to talk about PR was saying, what’s the ROI, right? How can I justify spending this? But I was getting that feedback and I was hearing they’re looking for ROI, we’ve got all these qualified calls on our calendar and everybody’s asking for ROI, let’s give them ROI, let’s build a system to generate ROI for them.

So they were asking for it, I knew how to do it. It made a lot of sense at the time.

But, but you invested in people to actually execute that, I think, right? It’s not, what we’re talking about is infinitely Scalable because of some of the tools you’ve created. But somebody has to a fine tune those tools, fire up those tools, keep plugging away at those tools, the

Operations team.

And you couldn’t do it, right. You couldn’t do all of it at the, at the volume you’re doing. So at a certain point in time you were like, okay, I, we need, I need bodies to help execute this. Right?

Yes. So I’d say this goes back to when we first founded the PR agency. I mean, by the time we started the lead gen agency, we knew we needed bodies. We knew we needed account managers. We, we knew we needed operators, we knew we needed virtual assistance. I’d say the time that you’re talking about where it’s like, let’s bring on our first hires, let’s bring on somebody to replace us with executing the actual service, talking to the clients every week doing the operations side, which is like pitching them, getting the media coverage. So that was the first thing that we hired for. Right? And yeah, that was scary. ’cause that was right in the middle of Covid and we didn’t have the money coming in and we didn’t want to reach into our own pockets and give it to somebody else. Right? But that was probably the best hire of our lives.

The first hires now are the COO of our company. The hardest thing to relinquish was probably sales. So we were closing really well. We hired one closer, came in, wait like a month later, started his own PR agency. So we hired another closer, just ghosted us after like a month or two leaving all his clients high and dry. We’re like, I guess we’re gonna have to, to sell forever. This is broken. But the solution was we stopped hiring closers. We started hiring people who had good interpersonal skills that we could train and would be loyal to us. And that was the solution. Yeah. They didn’t close quite as well as us to start. Probably never will, but we’re founders of course. But that freed us, us up to do other things. Yeah. So yeah, the only way to scale is to put good people in place and to learn from the mistakes of hiring, of firing, of recruiting.

’cause every, every stage, there’s going to be different levels of mistakes, every position. You don’t know what good looks like until you’ve got it right. So yes, you can’t scale without people. Without good people.

Yeah. Yeah, that’s, that’s for sure. This has been fascinating. Like I said, I have a million more questions, but I need to let you go. So tell folks if they want to, if they wanna watch you in action, if they want to see how it works, if they want to follow your content, what’s the best way for them to plug in with you and to learn more about how you are being successful?

Yeah, so I’m all over social. I’d say Instagram, it’s at lead Jen, I just got that really cool username. So go check that out. And then it’s lead gen at J on YouTube if you want to see the trainings. I also have free courses on cold email and lead gen that’ll be linked in both of my social media channels. And if you want to send me a message and talk about what it is that you’re doing, Instagram’s the best place lead gen. Send me a message, let me know that you found me here on this podcast and we’ll have a conversation. I’d love to help love talking to agency owners.

That’s awesome. Thank you very much for your time for generously sharing, I mean, down to the tools that you use, the exact recipe that, that you’re using to be successful in 23 of all years. So I can’t imagine what’s gonna happen for you guys in 24, but I, I appreciate your time and your expertise. Thank you.

That’s gonna be a good year. Thank you Drew, for having me. This has been a blast.

You bet. Alright guys, I you, I suspect you have been scrambling to take notes if you’re on the treadmill or on the subway and you couldn’t do that. Of course, we have the transcript for you and we’ll have links to all of the tools that Jay mentioned. All of the ways you can get in touch with Jay in the show notes. So you can head there. But this is an action packed episode. This is not a sit back and listen and go, oh, that was interesting. Or, yes, we should talk about that at the next leadership team meeting. You have a lot of tools inside this episode that you can start playing with and experimenting with. And it starts, I think, with accepting the idea that in every relationship somebody has to give first.

And as you know, and as Steven and I preach in the book, and as we talk about all the time on this podcast, it has to be us. We have, we have to earn their trust. We have to, we have to let them get to know us. We have to, we have to be helpful so that they come to like us and feel that reciprocity, that these people have already been helpful to me. They’re smart. I’ve already had some success thanks to the free things they gave me, whatever that is. And so I wanna lean in a little further and I wanna have more conversation with them. So that is your first point of action, is how can you be helpful? How can you teach what you know? And by the way, it doesn’t have to be the Mona Lisa of teaching. Sometimes I think we get so caught up in that it has to be something no one has ever heard of before or ever thought of before.

That’s not true. We take for granted how much we know that other people don’t know. So you can start very simple, very basic. Just give them the basic building blocks that you use every day in the work that you do or that you know that works for other clients. It doesn’t have to be something that’s gonna hang in a museum. It just has to be something that works. And it’s tiny little tools, like tiny little tips that over time build trust. Okay, so great episode. Great to-dos. So I would love to hear what you’re doing with it and how it’s working. Okay. So follow up with me on that. Of course, you know, I want to thank our friends at White Label IQ. They do white Label, PPC dev and design for many, many agencies inside the AAMI community.

So we thank them for their support. Head over to White Label IQ dot com slash aami to learn about how on your first opportunity with them, they’ll give you some free hours because you’re a podcast listener. And of course, I always like to end with the fact that I know you have a lot to do. And so the fact that you hang out with me for an hour every week is no small thing. And I am super grateful to have you out there listening and letting me know you listen and that you find value in the podcast. This would be fun for me, even if nobody was listening. But it’s a lot more fun knowing that it’s helping you too. So thanks for listening. Come on back next week and see who we’ve got on the show.

And in the meantime, you know, you can always reach me in the Facebook group or by email. Okay? All right. Have a good week and I will see you next week. Thanks for listening.

Come back next week for another episode. Designed to help you build a stronger, more stable and sustainable agency. Check out our workshops, coaching and consulting packages, and other professional development [email protected].