Episode 368

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One of the best ways to establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry and get more right-fit clients is by publishing a book. Often, the people who don’t want to publish a book fall into one of two categories: those who don’t think they know enough (or think everyone knows what they do) or those who think they have the “secret sauce” and don’t want to give it away willingly.

Our guest, Henry DeVries, is here to tell us why everyone has it in them to get published, why it’s the best way to find new clients who are a great fit to work with your agency, and the seven best ways to market the book once it’s written.

This episode is packed with tips that will teach you exactly how to set yourself apart from other agencies and get clients contacting you for work, not the other way around.

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.

right-fit client

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • Why a book is the #1 marketing tool for an agency
  • How to identify the topic of your book
  • Why giving away your secrets will leave potential clients wanting more
  • Why you know more than you think you do about your industry — so write about it!
  • The “Magnificent Seven” of marketing your new book
  • The spectrum of “getting published” and building your body of work
  • Having a book as a legacy piece for your agency and your accomplishments

“That's one of the truths — a book is the number one marketing tool, and speaking about the book is the number one selling strategy to find new clients.” @indiebooksintl Click To Tweet “Marketing's no big deal if you're a marketing expert. But to your prospects, this could be like stem-cell research or how electricity works. It is fresh and new information and proves your expertise.” @indiebooksintl Click To Tweet “Our research has shown that the more you give away, the more people are convinced there's something behind the curtain you're not sharing.” @indiebooksintl Click To Tweet “Offer help, not hype.” @indiebooksintl Click To Tweet “My books are my children. And like my children, I expect them to take care of me in my old age.” @indiebooksintl Click To Tweet

Ways to contact Henry:



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 White Label IQ. Tune in every week for insights on how small to midsize agencies are surviving and thriving in today’s market. We’ll show you how to make more money and keep more of what you make. We want to help you build an agency that is sustainable, scalable, and if you want, down the road sellable. With 25 plus years of experience as both an agency owner and agency consultant, please welcome your host, Drew McClellan.

Drew McClellan:

Hey, everybody. Welcome back to Build a Better Agency. Glad to have you with us. This is Drew McClellan from Agency Management Institute. Super happy to spend some time with you today. Thanks for coming back if you’re a regular listener. And if you are a first-time listener, welcome, glad to have you. I think this week’s episode is pretty indicative of the kind of work we try and do on the podcast, which is give you guys really practical, tangible things to think about or to take into practice, or maybe some things to stop doing. Sometimes we’re just here to try and be super helpful and informative and just help you think about the business and make you feel a little less alone in running the agency.

So two reminders before I let you find out who we’re going to hang out with today. One, the Build a Better Agency Podcast Facebook group. So again, you would go to Facebook and search for Build a Better Agency Podcast, and then it’ll take you to the private group. You have to answer three questions. Do you own an agency? And if so, what’s the URL? What are you most interested in talking about or learning about? And will you be nice? Basically, will you follow the rules, and then we’ll let you in. So we would love to have you. There’s over 1100 agency owners in there now who are talking every day about everything from contracts to remote workers, to master service agreements, to all the things that we worry about and wish we could talk to other agency owners about. So we would love to have you there.

Also, want to remind you that Money Matters, the workshop we teach and all we do is talk about money, everything from taxes to financial benchmarks, to the metrics that matter, to proposal writing, all of those things. We spend two days talking about money. That one is coming up on December 5th and 6th in Orlando. I’m sure all of you know December 5th is actually Walt Disney’s birthday. So it’s perfect to be in Orlando on Disney property to celebrate Walt’s birthday and to talk about money and your agency and how you can make more money and keep more of the money you make. So if you’re interested in that workshop, it’s probably one of our most popular workshops. It’s probably the workshop that people repeat the most. That workshop is on the Agency Management Institute website. So if you go to the tab that says How We Help, and you scroll down to workshops, you’ll see Money Matters. We only offer it once a year. So this is your shot December 5th and 5th in Orlando.

All right, so let me tell you a little bit about our guest. So Henry DeVries is a really interesting guy. He is a journalist by training and by trade early in his career. Worked for agencies, owned an agency, was on staff at a university teaching marketing for many years, writes for forbes.com, and he created, I think about a decade ago, but I’ll ask him, created a company helping agency owners write a book and used that book as a marketing tool to leverage finding right fit clients and then selling to those prospects.

So what I want to talk to Henry about today is just sort of the process of why this matters. I’m hoping we can get to the process of how to write the book, but I suspect we’ll have to have him back for that. But anyway, I want to talk to him about why being an author matters to agency owners and how we can leverage it inside our business. So that’s going to be the topic for today. He’s a great guy and I think you will enjoy learning from him. So without any further ado, let’s welcome him to the show. Henry, welcome to the podcast. Glad to have you.

Henry DeVries:

Sure. It’s so great to be here to help small to midsize agency owners.

Drew McClellan:

I love it. So give everybody a little bit of background, what you have been doing professionally that has led you to the point that you are in now, and then we’ll go from there.

Henry DeVries:

I run a company called Indie Books International. I started it eight years ago when I failed retirement from the University of California, San Diego. I was the assistant dean for continuing education and faculty on marketing. And somehow these agency owners and consultants had found me to be a ghostwriter and I had to go tell the university, I loved the university, but I loved helping these people more and I needed to form a company so they could get their books in print successfully and happily.

Drew McClellan:

And you’re doing other things as well, right? You’re writing for Forbes and you have a couple other side hustles on top of your business, right?

Henry DeVries:

Yeah. My side hustle is for the last five years, I’ve written a weekly column for forbes.com, and I started out as a journalist in the associated press covering pro sports, baseball, football, basketball, and then went into agency life, eventually became the president of someone else’s agency and doubled billings, and then figured it would be better to own my own lemonade stand and started that and grew that to five people. Then the university came knocking and said, “We’d like you to be our chief marketing officer and also teach.” And I did that for a number of years until I flunked retirement and started Indie Books eight years ago.

Drew McClellan:

So sometime you and I are going to do a podcast and all we’re going to talk about are the Dodgers and Disney, but not today. But one of these days, even if we don’t record it, we’re going to that.

Henry DeVries:

Okay. Okay.

Drew McClellan:

All right. So let’s talk about, I think you and I were saying before I hit the record button, I think everybody aspire… Everyone who owns an agency or is a leader in an agency, there is something super appealing about being an author. When I wrote my first book, I’m not sure, I think my parents have been proud of me at moments in my life for lots of things, but I’m not really sure that anything was bigger than I walked into my mom’s house and I had sent her a PDF of my book cover and she had it on the fridge, like I was a kindergartner and that was my A+ for her. And she’s never put any of my other work on the fridge.

So there is just something gratifying and humbling, but also you of feel like you’ve made it when you’ve written a book. A, I think a lot of people listening aspire to write a book or have written a book. B, I think the people who are listening who aspire to write a book think that it’s super hard or maybe it’s selfish to do, to take their time away from the agency, but you and I hold a different opinion about that. So let’s talk about why you believe a book is the number one marketing tool for an agency.

Henry DeVries:

Yes, that’s one of the truths, one of the insights that a book is the number one marketing tool. And speaking about the book is the number one selling strategy to find new clients. And that’s because the world respects authors. More than that, and people say, “Oh, well, the book is a business card, or the book is a brochure.” No, the book is an ordeal you went through and your best thinking went into that book. And when two other agencies say, “Trust me,” you can say, “Well, there’s a lot of mistakes that can be made in this field. I’d like to give you a copy of my book. It outlines our best thinking on this. It tells you about your process, your proprietary research that you’ve done, your proprietary process. Very differentiating.”

Drew McClellan:

So I’m curious, how do you help an author or an agency owner? How do you help them identify the topic of the books? I think one of the things I find when I talk to agency owners is I’ll say, “Well, you know what? You could speak on that, or you could whatever.” And they’re like, “Oh, everybody knows that.”

Henry DeVries:

Yeah, that’s my parlor trick. That’s something I know. That’s no big deal.

Drew McClellan:

Or they say, “I don’t want to give away the secret sauce.” One of the two, right? Either they-

Henry DeVries:

Oh, yeah.

Drew McClellan:

Yes. They dismiss what they know, or they value it so much, they keep it in the brain vault and no one can know. So how do you help them find solutions to both of those dichotomies?

Henry DeVries:

Let’s take secret sauce first. I love movies, and one of my favorite movies is Fast Times at Ridgemont High and the people who want to-

Drew McClellan:

That speaks volumes about you, Henry.

Henry DeVries:

So two people who work at a fast food restaurant compare notes and, “Our secret sauce is mayonnaise and ketchup.” And he goes, “Our secret sauce is mayonnaise, ketchup, and mustard.” They’re no secret sauces. So everybody’s afraid that they’re going to give the secret sauce away. Our research is shown, The more you give away, the more people are convinced there’s something behind the curtain you’re not sharing. And the real takeaway is they want you to apply the secret sauce to them. So they find this information very comforting. The assumption, Drew, is that we’re winging it. We’re doing their marketing campaign and we’re winging it. And that’s not the truth. So you need to demonstrate that.

The other thing is, the question was, it’s so hard or it’s not that important or all this, well, I help people show that yes, what they have is important because they’ve taken the best practices. I say the insight is offer help, not hype. This is not hype about how great you are, adjectives and all that, not about that at all. It’s about understanding the number one problem, the number one pain point for your target audience. So you know your target audience, you know them so well, when they read the first chapter of your book, they go, “This person is talking to me. She must have been listening in on us. He must have lived through this, so they understand it.” So in my book, Marketing With a Book for agency owners, it addresses that number one pain of three out of five agency owners. How do I find enough new clients? How do I find right fit clients? As the wrong fit clients, oh man, you wish you’d never found them.

Drew McClellan:

Yeah, yeah. And we’ve all had those, right? Yeah.

Henry DeVries:

Oh yeah, yeah. The client from hell stories.

Drew McClellan:

Which by the way is a great client for someone else. It’s not that they’re a bad client. And that’s, I think the nuance is that they’re a bad client for us, for our skillsets, our team, our whatever, right? Yeah.

Henry DeVries:

Yeah. It’s fit. They’re not the right fit for you, for someone else-

Drew McClellan:

They’d be fine.

Henry DeVries:

Yeah. Yeah.

Drew McClellan:

Yeah. When agency owners talk about they don’t want to show people behind the curtain or show the secret sauce, I liken it to we’ve all gone to a restaurant and fallen in love with a dish and asked the waiter if the chef would share the recipe. And a lot of times they will and they will, knowing that you’re going to try and make it at home. But it’s not just the food, it’s also the ambiance and that somebody else cooked it for you. And by the way, they went to chef school. You did not. So even when we give away all the secrets, that is different than a client or a prospect being able to actually replicate the recipe exactly the way we do, because they can’t bring some of the things we bring: the outside perspective, the years of expertise and all of that. So as you know, Steven and I in Sell with Authority, pounded home to help not hype, that you need to help as much as you can, relentlessly helpful.

Henry DeVries:

Relentlessly helpful. I love that line. I quote it sometimes. I quote it, I don’t steal it.

Drew McClellan:

No, you can steal it. There’s no secret sauce.

Henry DeVries:

Well, is it the first time you attribute it and the second time you say, “I always say…”

Drew McClellan:

Yeah, that’s right.

Henry DeVries:

Yeah, yeah.

Drew McClellan:

Okay. So what about the people who believe that what they know is common knowledge? Like, “Oh, everybody knows that.”

Henry DeVries:

“Everybody knows that.”

Drew McClellan:

No one will read a book about that. How do you help them through that?

Henry DeVries:

One of the things I advise people is make it research, not rehash. You have to think of yourself as a journalist and you’re taking the topic. I don’t want to get all research geeky here, but you either do primary research where you’re actually interviewing people or you do secondary research where there is a lot of information out there. Drew, if you kill somebody, the best place to hide the body is on the second page of a Google Search, because people don’t look there. I’ve gone through 80 pages on Google to find some of the studies that I quote in my book. One, because I’m Dutch and I’m cheap, copper wire was invented when two Dutchmen fought over a penny.

So I don’t like to pay $5,000 for a research study when with some sleuthing on the internet I can find that data and share it. So we can get the data there, but also, I really advocate in-depth interviews with your target prospect. I love the subtitle, how Smart (blanks) Do (blank). So when you interview people, I mean, it’s a book about how smart agency owners find new clients. Well, that’s the embedded compliment. Oh gosh, I guess they think I’m smart and they want to-

Drew McClellan:

Right. Right.

Henry DeVries:

Forbes.com, I’m interviewing 60 people a year on that. And that information is research.

Drew McClellan:

Right. That’s right. So here’s how I’m translating what you said, which is the book isn’t about how smart you are necessarily, or how unique your idea is. It’s how you apply your thinking and some data to whatever the problem is you want your book to help solve. Yes?

Henry DeVries:

Absolutely. And what you’re doing is analyzing the information, breaking the information down. Either here’s new information on the subject, or more information on the subject, or better information on the subject. Heck, you could be a contrarian. Here’s different information on the subject and you present that. You’re adding to the body of knowledge. There’s an old saying, a Major League Baseball player said that, “Being a Major League Baseball player is no big deal if you’re a Major League Baseball player.” So being a marketing expert, marketing’s no big deal if you’re a marketing expert. But to your prospects, this could be stem cell research or how electricity works. To them, it is fresh and new information and proves your expertise, your authority.

Drew McClellan:

I wrote a marketing column for my state’s business journal for 20 years. So 52 weeks a year, 20 years. And in the beginning when I started, I felt like every column had to be the Mona Lisa of marketing ideas. And by the way, I only had 600 words. So what I learned very quickly was it didn’t have to be the Mona Lisa. It could be something they already knew, but they weren’t applying. It could be something that they knew, but had forgotten. It could be something brand new that they had never thought about. It could be taking something they know and something they don’t know and weaving them together.

As soon as I took that pressure off myself of I had to shake the world up with every freaking column, and I realized it was really about being consistent in driving home sort of what I think of are the core tenets of marketing, and then using real life current examples to sort of illustrate those points, it got a lot easier for me to get over myself, number one. And number two, it got a lot easier to write a column every stinking week for 20 years. And number three, the columns that I wrote that I often thought, this is kind of a throwaway, this isn’t awesome, were often the comments I got the most feedback from the paper’s readers from, was that those were the ones that resonated with them or that connected with them or inspired them to do something or fill in the blank. So we also, I think, make some assumptions about our audience and what they know that we probably need to put aside when we are crafting a book or a column or anything that we’re producing, but certainly a book.

Henry DeVries:

A book or a blog. For some people it’s a blog, which I would recommend to do on LinkedIn. Not create your own blog site these days, but do it on articles on LinkedIn. And these blogs add up to a book. It’s the blog to book strategy we call it. And just like all your columns, Drew, there’s a saying in Hollywood, we’re judged on the body of our work.

Drew McClellan:

That’s right. Yeah.

Henry DeVries:

It’s the body of our work.

Drew McClellan:

Yeah. So let’s say somebody writes a book, they get it done because what I heard you say was your book is your number one marketing tool. Speaking is your number one selling tool, which I completely agree with. There’s nothing better than having another organization or company determine you are an expert and put you on a stage in front of your core audience. So let’s talk a little bit about what you do with the book after it’s done.

Henry DeVries:

Hey, so again, I like movies, and this one is The Magnificent Seven, and you might like the Denzel Washington version, or you go all the way back to you like the Yul Brynner version. Heck, you might even like the Seven Samurai from the ’50s in Japan where it all came from. But my Magnificent Seven are these are the magnificent seven ways to leverage the book. Number one, put on small-scale seminars, five to 10 people. You can do them face to face, you can do them virtually on Zoom, Zoominars, if you wish. And I’ve done over a hundred of these and have generated millions of dollars in revenue from them.

Drew McClellan:

So hang on. How did you get the audience to attend your webinars? How did you tell them about it?

Henry DeVries:

Okay. It’s a LinkedIn strategy. I can go deeper on it, but I found if I invite 200 people in the target audience, a hundred will accept my invitation and 10 will attend. And then from those 10 who attend, I’ll get two clients out of it. I’ve interviewed people in other industries like financial services, and the same ratios hold true for them. So you have to know your right audience. When you offer the LinkedIn to them, they need to look at your profile page and go, “Oh, this would be somebody valuable for me to know.” So no picture with you and two other people and a dog on your LinkedIn profile. No picture like you’re in the witness protection program. No. It has to be a fully built out and valuable LinkedIn profile. N