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 Click To Tweet
“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 Click To Tweet
“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 Click To Tweet
“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 Click To Tweet
“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 Click To Tweet

Ways to contact Jay:

Resources:

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

Right.

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,