Episode 229:

I have long preached the concept of being a specialist versus a generalist to my audience, so it should come as no surprise to you that along with my co-author Stephen Woessner, CEO of Predictive ROI, I have just written a book on the subject.

Sell With Authority is a playbook for agency new business efforts that will allow you to shorten your sales cycle, increase your pricing and profitability and actually attract your ideal customers to knock on YOUR door, rather than the other way around. In this week’s episode, Stephen and I talk about some of the core principles of the book and why we’re both so passionate about the approach.

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: https://www.whitelabeliq.com/ami/

What You Will Learn in this Episode:

  • The inspiration and core concepts behind our new book, Sell With Authority
  • How to be seen as an authority in your industry
  • The biz dev decisions that will help you achieve rapid growth
  • Why you should narrow your agency’s focus
  • How to differentiate your agency by having a unique point of view
  • How to use cornerstone content to build authority across multiple channels

The Golden Nugget:

“Agencies can get prospects more effectively, efficiently, and profitably if they sell from a position of authority.” @DrewMcLellan Click To Tweet “62% of the time, business-to-business buyers are making purchasing decisions solely based on whether or not the seller has a thought leadership position.” @stephenwoessner Click To Tweet “Narrowing down gives you the opportunity to present yourself as something different; something other than the general agency.” @stephenwoessner Click To Tweet “You want to differentiate yourself from agencies that have chosen the same niche by having a unique point of view.” @DrewMcLellan Click To Tweet “If an agency is positioned as a thought leader in its market, selling is not about ‘selling’ at all.” @stephenwoessner Click To Tweet

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Speaker 1:

It doesn’t matter what kind of an agency you run, traditional, digital, media buying, web dev, PR, whatever your focus, you still need to run a profitable business. To Build a Better Agency Podcast presented by White Label IQ, we’ll show you how to make more money and keep more of what you made. Let us help you build an agency that is sustainable, scalable, and if you want down the road sellable bringing his 25 plus years of experience as both an agency owner and agency consultant, please welcome your host, Drew McLellan.

Drew McLellan:

Hey, everybody. Drew McLellan here, with another episode of Build a Better Agency. Thank you so much for coming back, if you are a regular listener and also if this is your first episode, welcome. Our goal is pretty simple, I want to help you run the business of your business, which is an agency of some kind better. I want you to make it more sustainable, most scalable, more profitable, and if you want to down the road something that you could sell. And so every week we come back to you with a guest or every fifth week, as some of you know I do a solo cast, but normally we have a guest on the show who is here to help you think differently about your business, because that’s what we’re here to do. We’re here to help you grow and learn and evolve your business so that it is everything you want it to be.

One of the things I know as an agency owner, so my agency is actually 25 years old in 2020, and I’ve learned a lot. But one of the things I have learned is that one of the beautiful things about owning the agency is you get to make decisions and choices. And so we can really craft our business to be what we want it to be and allow it to serve us in the ways that we want it to serve us. But every one of those choices and decisions that we make comes with opportunities and consequences, doors open and doors closed. So there is no right or wrong in how you run your business. There’s some best practices. There are some financial metrics. I certainly am going to teach you as best I can, what I think are the right, smart ways to run your business.

But inside sort of those, the bowling lane bumpers if you have kids and you know that they put those little bumpers up, so you don’t bang outside of your lane. With the bowling ball inside those bumpers is a lot of room for you to navigate your business the way you want to. There are certainly some things you absolutely shouldn’t do like robbing Peter to pay Paul, like using media money to pay operating expenses. There are some things that are sort of absolutes, but other than that there’s a lot of choices. And so a lot of the education that we do is around helping you navigate those choices. And that’s what this episode is all about. So before tell you about our guests and what we’re going to talk about, just a couple of quick reminders. We, every month during my solo cast, so every actually five weeks technically, we give away either a seat at one of our live workshops or a seat in one of our on-demand courses. And both of those retail for around $2,000 a piece.

If your name, I remembered is closer to 15 or $1,600, but nonetheless, it’s not a small amount of money and we give away one every single solo cast. And here’s how you have the opportunity to get into the drawing to be one of our monthly winners. All you have to do is go to wherever you download your podcast. And so whether it’s iTunes or Stitcher or Google, or wherever you go to get, iHeartRadio, wherever it is and leave us a rating or review. And what I need you to do is I need you to take a screenshot of that rating because a sad Vikings fan 1962, which actually could be my username, is not indicative to me of what your real name is or what your email address is. So I need to know who you are so we can match up the review with a real person. So send me a screenshot and tell me where you left that rating or review. And that’s it. That’s all you have to do. You’re in the drawing.

And if you’ve already done it, thank you very much. First of all, I promise you we do read all of them and take them to heart, but number two, you don’t have to do it again. You’re in the drawing until you win sooner or later. So we will just leave your name in the drawing until you are a lucky winner. But if you haven’t done it really for three or four minutes worth of effort, you can win a $2,000 course. So why not take the time, get your name in the drawing and hopefully gain some new knowledge, some new insight, make some new friends at one of our workshops. All right. So back to the topic of choices, consequences, teaching. So, that’s the premise of AMI. So we will not surprise you probably to learn that one of the ways that, along with the podcast and some of the other things we do, one of the ways that we teach is I am a writer by trade that was how I started my career in advertising and I still love to write.

And so, I have a brand new book out it’s called Sell with Authority. I co-wrote it with agency owner, Stephen Woessner, who was on episode 131 of our podcast. Many of you are probably very familiar with Stephen. He owns an agency called Predictive ROI. It’s an AMI agency and Stephen and I have taught some workshops together. We’re very good friends. So he’s a friend, he’s a client. And he’s a thought leader. He is really very intelligent on this idea of how to sell with authority. So a couple of years ago, we taught a workshop on this topic. And after the workshop, we said, you know what? We could add some additional content, some additional context, some examples, and we could really drive home the main points of this workshop through a book.

And so two years later, the painful gestation period of a book, two years later, it is out, is it available on Amazon? Stephen And I want to just sort of walk you through some of the core concepts in the book so that you can begin to think about whether or not again, because it’s a choice. If this would be something that you should be thinking about in terms of how to think about Biz Dev for your shop and how to sell your agency, should you be selling from a position of authority. So let’s get into it. So welcome back to the podcast.

Stephen Woessner:

Well, thanks for having me back. Drew, it’s always a pleasure to spend time with you and your audience, our conversations are… You always ask great questions and thought provoking. So I’m really looking forward to this round as well.

Drew McLellan:

Well. Hopefully in this case, there won’t be a lot of surprises given that we wrote the book together. So if I ask you a really hard question that you can’t answer, then that’s going to suggest to the listeners that I’m lying about the fact that we wrote the book together. So-

Stephen Woessner:

Well. [crosstalk 00:07:21]-

Drew McLellan:

… don’t have any really long pauses, maybe.

Stephen Woessner:

We may have written the book together, but you know me well enough to know that you can still stab me. So I wouldn’t be surprised that.

Drew McLellan:

Right. So as I was saying in the intro writing the book sort of felt like almost a calling, like it was something we had to do that this is something that both from Agency Management Institute point of view, and Predictive ROI point of view. Although we come at it for different audiences to a certain extent, although you certainly work with a lot of agencies. That the book was really a result of this stuff that we’re teaching our clients every single day. And after teaching the workshop, it just sort of seemed like a… Well, of course, we need to write the book about this as well, because people need to have this is information in front of them. So as we were starting the book, did it feel to you like it did to me, like it was just sort of a natural next step and almost we had to do it scenario?

Stephen Woessner:

I think so. And well, I shouldn’t say it so tentatively. I know, so yes, it did. And I think one of the things I really have enjoyed over the years in working closely with you, you working closely with my team at Predictive and how you’ve helped us improve and whatnot. I think lessons that we’ve learned from you, but it was in our kind of fabric if you will, but you really helped us tease that out. And that is to be helpful. And so the book was kind of that next level, in my opinion of, okay, how can we be helpful to a group of agency owners who really want to be able to future-proof their agency, or however you want to describe that. And so it was great to come at it from the same philosophy as you have, of being generous trying to pour everything that we had into the book, trying to leave nothing left like behind a secret curtain. It was a great next step from the workshop and to make that content even more accessible.

Drew McLellan:

Well. And the other things that I liked about sort of the synergy of the book and us writing it together was that at Predictive your unique point of view, the way you sort of approach your work is that most business owners or businesses approach selling the wrong way, and I certainly come at it from that same point of view from an agencies. I think agencies work so hard to get a new prospect that they could do it so much more efficiently, effectively, and profitably if they are selling from a position of authority. That I think our philosophy is also aligned nicely, although you articulated differently than I do to sort of the spine of the book, sort of the cornerstone intent of the book.

Stephen Woessner:

Yeah. Because when an agency owner truly has their agency positioned properly as the authority in their market, whether that’s a geographic market or an industry, a niche or whatnot, which I’m sure we’ll talk about, then that isn’t really selling. That really, if they’ve come at their macro audience in such a way that it’s about being helpful to their audience and being generous and teaching as a true thought leader would, then really it isn’t about selling. In the typical, “Kind of sales vernacular.” It’s not about tactics and so forth. It’s about truly meeting somebody for the first time, and that person is saying to you, as I’ve heard so many people say to you. You’re exactly the person who I thought you would be in every time I turned around there, you were being helpful. I think that’s the next level of truly where we’re seeing sales go. And that’s why it was so fun to write this book.

Drew McLellan:

Well, one of the things that for me was gratifying was we were able to pepper. So I think a lot of people here, what we’re going to talk about, which is sort of this three pronged definition of what it means to be an authority. And they say it’s too time consuming. I’ll never have time to do it. It’s too hard. I don’t know how to niche down narrow enough. One of the things I loved about writing the book is that we were able to populate book with all kinds of examples from AMI agencies who are doing exactly this, who have defined. And we’re going to get into sort of the three elements that are required to really be seen as an authority.

Have really defined themselves as an authority by building out these elements and are seeing incredible results as the after effect of being able to sort of stay the course. And now they are selling in a completely different way where their prospects, their best fit prospects, the prospects they would kill to have, are literally knocking on their door and asking to be their clients.

Stephen Woessner:

Yeah. Exactly what you just said is one of the big outcomes is, because I shared it with you, one of the big outcomes in the ROI, a thought leadership study that we just finished with Susan Byer, AMI research partner. And that was 62% of the time business to business buyers are making those decisions, those purchasing decisions exactly, solely based on what it is that you just said. The position of, is the company that we’re selecting to do this thing, is that company, or does that company have a thought leadership position? So are there other factors in the decision making process? Sure, of course there are. But to think or to now see in quantifiable data that 62% of the time the purchase is driven by thought leadership alone, Holy bananas.

Drew McLellan:

Well, and one of the other sort of takeaways from that research, and I know you’re going to do a deep dive with your audience, and I want you to come back on the show and really drill deep down into the research with us as well in a later episode. But one of the takeaways that I noticed when I reviewed the research results was, that when someone made a B2B purchase from someone they perceive to be a thought leader and an authority, an expert, whatever language you want to use, that they tended to spend more and be a client for longer. So, when I think about what is the gravy train for agencies, it is, if we can get through the first couple of years of a client and keep them for year three or four or five, that’s when the profitability gets really significant, because now we know them, we’re over the learning curve.

We’ve got to groove together, we’re in a rhythm, we have their trust. And so the idea that we can keep them for a longer period of time and that they will spend more money with us the whole time that they’re with us. That’s pretty significant.

Stephen Woessner:

It is. And it completely changes the conversation is, and I know that what’s the word that I want to use. I don’t want to say that it makes me sad, but it’s the, and it drives me crazy when you hear agencies introduce themselves for the first time. “Hi. We’re the full service integrated marketing and advertising agency.” It’s like, “Oh, for Pete’s sake, you sound like everybody else, you look like everybody else.” And in that, that goes to the point of you having to compete on so many other things and using creative sales tactics to try to win the bid or whatever. And so what you just said really changes the game. It gives them a unique and different way to describe themselves in the amazing, awesome, wonderful, awesome things that they do every single day for clients.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. And you know what, there’s nothing wrong with being a full service integrated agency. You just need to tack something onto the back of that sentence that works with fill in the blank. That all of a sudden starts to narrow you down. So let’s dive into the three elements that in the book and in the workshop we defined as mandatories for being seen as an authority. So the three are, that you have a narrow focus, that you have a unique point of view and that you’re not a one trick pony. So can you explain to the audience what we mean or some of the options, because I also think when we say narrow focus, everyone immediately assumes we’re talking industry specific and that certainly one of them. But can you explain a little bit about what you think and how you defined in the book, what that means?

Stephen Woessner:

Yeah. And it was interesting we were having a conversation on our podcast just yesterday with one of our clients. And they made a really bold decision when they decided, and they’re in the healthcare space. But this is a relevant example for all of us. So they were classically trained or clinically trained or should say not classically trained, clinically trained to be chiropractors. And then they decided, you know what, we’re going to niche down. And the future of healthcare is not being a general practitioner and we’re going to niche down and focus on being functional medicine. And we’re going to build a functional medicine practice. And at the time, 20 years ago, no one had even heard of this thing. So this was a big risk. And what they found was they had been general chiropractors for two years and they were just kind of slugging through and aimlessly wandering through the wilderness.

And when they decided to zero in on functional medicine and that’s all that they would do, and they focused on three different treatments or elements, I should say, like diabetes and a couple of other things. But the connective tissue, as you like to say, was functional medicine. They grew their business, double digits, month over month. And these were not things or treatments that were covered by insurance and so forth. So when we talked about niche in the book, yes, it can be going narrow on a particular industry. It can be going narrow in a particular geography, being seen as the local, the regional expert, but having a deep knowledge about a particular audience, perhaps or a combination of those things.

And so really narrowing down in a service area, a specialty in a Smith. So all of those things combined give you the opportunity as the agency to be able to present yourself as something unique and different than just the general practitioner or the general agency.

Drew McLellan:

So industry could be, we service the pharma industry and specifically pharma products that are targeting women over 50. So that would be an industry niche. A geography niche would be we understand the Pacific Northwest better than anybody else. So if you are from the Pacific Northwest and you want to be seen as sort of the local choice or your guys, or if you want to bring your product or service to the Pacific Northwest, we understand that marketplace can make those introductions. The audience could certainly be, we have an AMI agency that focuses on millennial moms and says, we understand that audience better than anyone else. And the service offering would be what many agencies do, which is, we’re a PPC shop or an SEO shop or a content shop.

The challenge with that one is that no matter how cutting edge you are today, everybody’s going to catch up. So if you’re going to choose the offering, the service offering as your niche, you have to know that that’s got a limited shelf life.

Stephen Woessner:

Indeed. And when you and I were just recently teaching a few weeks ago, the way that you knitted that together for attendees, I thought was really smart because it was combining certain elements of several of the things that you just mentioned. And so it was this particular agency example. They wanted to be known nationally. So they really wanted to be able to develop a national presence. So how do they go about doing that? And so we built this example of, okay, they’re going to have deep industry expertise in this particular industry was HVHC, but then they also brought deep audience experience in this case moms. And so how can they help HVHC related companies, properly position themselves, and because mom doesn’t want to be sold to, how can they properly influence and position themselves within front of that audience for that HVHC client? And that was really a powerful example that you shared.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. And really the mom’s part leads right into the point of views. So I want to get into that next, but first let’s take a quick break and then we’ll come back and talk about how the moms were in this example was not really a second niche, but it was really their unique point of view. So let’s take a break and we’ll come back and chat about that. Hey, sorry to interrupt. But I want to just remind you about the Build a Better Agency Summit. So as many of you have heard me talk about before I am sticking my neck out, and I am saying, it’s ridiculous that there is no conference built specifically for truly small to mid-sized agencies across the globe. And it is time for someone to do it. And then I looked in the mirror and I said, “Actually Drew, it’s time for us to do it, and so we are.”

May 19th and 20th of 2020 in Chicago, some amazing presenters and speakers, and some of the topics are things like building your agency’s value. So whether you want to sell the agency or you just want to use it as an ATM machine, how do you get more value out of your agency one way or the other, and how do you decide which way you want to go? Do you want to build an agency to sell, or you want to just run it, use it as the ATM machine and someday just close the door? What does that look like? How do you earn a profit every single year? And we’re going to show you exactly how to do that. And around the idea of agency thought leadership, what does that actually mean? And what does it look like? And how can you, as busy as you are, as busy as the agency is, how can you go down that path and how can it serve you with an incredible ROI?

And we’re going to talk about some of the agencies that are knocking it out of the park, and you’ll meet some of them there because they’ll be there as attendees as well. So the content is going to be awesome. If you’re struggling with imposter syndrome, if you are struggling with how to concisely tell a story in a way that is so compelling, people can’t help, but be drawn to it. If you are worried about how to build up wealth outside of the agency, and you want to talk to some experts who are doing that in real estate and other places, the Build a Better Agency summit is the place for you. So please grab your ticket, just head over to agencymanagementinstitute.com. And the very first choice on the navbar is BABA Summit. So Build a Better Agency Summit, click on that, and that’ll take you right to all the information you need, including how to register.

So I hope to see in Chicago in May, but now let’s get back to the content. All right, we are back with Stephen Woessner. We are talking about our brand new book, Sell with Authority. And before the break, we were talking about one of the three element that allows you to take an authority position. And the first one was that you narrow your focus, that no one is an expert or an authority on everything that you have to be an authority about something. And so, again, it’s an industry niche, or it is an audience or it is a region of the country. And by the way, one of the opportunities, one of the niches that certainly some of you are interested in, is being the generalist, being the general practitioner. So the example that you’ve heard me use before is that you have a choice of being the brain surgeon or the general practitioner, the country doctor.

And if you’re going to be the country doctor, then what you’re recognizing and acknowledging is that you are putting a geographic boundary around your client base. That if you are not going to specialize in something, but you in fact are going to say, look, I can birth the baby. I can help your cough. I can give you a tetanus shot. I can put a cast on your broken leg. I can do all of those things. And I do that because I really get to know you and your family, and this community, there’s nothing wrong with that positioning, but you need to be really bold about that as well, because that is a narrowing. In that you’re saying, look, I know this probably County or this region, you probably can draw a two hour radius line around wherever you live and say, you know what, that’s going to be my service area.

Because most clients are not going to travel long distances to find a general practitioner when every town in the world has a general practitioner. So nothing wrong with that as a position as well, you just need to embrace it. So we were talking about that and then we just, before the break started talking a little bit about point of view, and I think point of view is the hardest of the three for people to wrap their head around. And the point of view in essence says that, so if you’re going to be the agency that does pharma for women over 50, what you’ve done is you’ve eliminated a lot of competitors who are not going to be able to go toe to toe with you in a pitch or in a competitive situation in terms of being able to have the depth of expertise that you have.

But there are certainly other pharma agencies out there that you’re going to have to compete with. So you want to differentiate yourself even more from the people who have chosen the same niche as you have, by having a unique point of view. And one of the truths is everyone listening, your agency does have a unique point of view. You may not identify it as such, but you do it. If you start thinking about all of the stories that you tell, the phrases that you say all of the time, whatever that may be, your point of view sort of bubbles up. So many of you have heard me say a million times probably that AMI believes, and this is sort of our unique point of view. And this is how I differentiate ourselves from all the other agency consultants out there.

We believe that most agency owners are accidental business owners, and it’s pretty hard to understand our industry if you haven’t been in it for awhile. And so we know that we can serve agencies and agency owners who are great at some aspect of their agency life. And then all of a sudden they ended up owning an agency. And I don’t know about you guys, but I literally was like, one day I was like, “Oh my God, this is turning into a business. And I better understand all this stuff.” And I also believe that in our world today, it’s moving so fast that if you were an agency guy 10 years ago, or 20 years ago, or 15 years ago, you don’t really get what’s happening in agencies today. That’s why everybody at AMI still actively owns and runs their agency.

So that’s sort of our unique point of view that we come into the business with. And every agency needs to have a unique point of view. So in our example, that Steven was talking about in the workshop we just talked about. So here’s an agency and they want to have this national presence in the HVAC space. They’ve done a lot of work in that. They have a lot of quirky studies. They know that, and they know that in most cases, HVAC purchases are initiated by mom, by a woman in the household that she is driving that purchase decision or at least if they’re buying a new air conditioner or furnace, at least bringing the person in so that the couple, if there is a couple there can make the decision together, but certainly around repairs and cleaning and all of that, a lot of times she’s driving that decision.

So this agency’s unique point of view is that A, mom is the key buyer and B, that mom is a pretty savvy buyer and that she knows that she is the target audience for a lot of advertising. And she’s gotten incredibly adept at absolutely ignoring traditional advertising tactics. And so their unique point of view is you can’t market to moms. And so that provocative point of view makes somebody go well, you’re an agency. What do you mean you can’t market to moms? And then they can talk about, that you have to create connections with moms in different ways that you can’t just do traditional advertising, whether it’s analog or digital, then you have to create other opportunities to create connections with moms ie be helpful to them. Maybe it’s a video series on how to clean your own furnace filters or whatever that may be, but you need to connect with them in a different way for A, to get on the radar screen for B, for them to like you and C, for them to trust you enough for them to pick up the phone and call you.

So that’s the point of view part and Stephen, and I just wrapped up teaching a workshop called Build and Nurture Your Sales Funnel, which by the way, we’re going to be teaching again in January of 2021, and you can go to the website and learn more about that. But where we literally made them for two days, do the hard work of building out their sales funnel which they didn’t really sound like a woo. This is fun, but everybody was like, “Thank God you did it, because I wouldn’t have done it if I had gone home.” So and we do it on Disney properties. So there’s Mickey shaped treats. So it all works out just fine. But anyway, that was the place where everybody got stuck.

They got stuck on the point of view because I think sometimes when we say something over and over, or when we have a certain sort of lens that we look at our clients through our client’s business through, we sort of take it for granted and we don’t realize that it is indeed a unique point of view.

Stephen Woessner:

Yeah. And I totally agree. And as we saw during the workshop of the three elements to like the authority elements that we’re talking about here, point of view really draws out the imposter syndrome. Point of view, really draws out the… There’s nothing that we do that is unique and special. There’s nothing that I do that, that I’m gifted at. We really take the amazing things that we do every single day, and we take those for granted because they come easy for us. And so then we therefore discount them, but it was really interesting to see that this one really teased out imposter syndrome and people started feeling like, “Well, do I really do anything that is special?” And so getting in the trenches to help kind of peel the layers back, and then there were a few aha moments. And so hopefully when readers read the book, that there’ll be those aha moments here too.

That realizing that, wait a minute, we actually have great expertise in this. And we’ve been helpful to clustering of clients in this and we’ve gone about it this way, because we believe that stuff. And you know what, we believe that stuff 10 years ago when we started the agency or whatever the time period is.

Drew McLellan:

Well, I think a lot of times it’s what you, it’s sort of the assumption you make or the knowledge you have going into a prospect or into a client. So one of the things I watched, a lot of people in the workshop do is sort of begin to think about, “Okay, well, here’s what we’re always teaching new clients. We’re always teaching them this truth.” And then when they stood back, they went, Oh, that is kind of a unique point of view. Every agency wouldn’t approach this industry or this audience in the same way. And so, that is our secret sauce. So when you combine the niches with the point of view, now odds are, there are very few, if any agencies that are going to look just like you, when you combine those two elements, now you really do stand out.

And the third leg, if you will, of what it takes to be an authority is how you package that niche or that narrowing with that point of view and how you share it with the world. So that’s our, you have to build a cornerstone and then cobblestones.

Stephen Woessner:

Yeah. And in doing that on a consistent basis and avoiding the temptation of, yes, you should not be a one trick pony, but when you’re starting, it’s about mastering one or two channels and getting that consistent into your workflow, into your rhythm, and whether that’s having a video series or being a featured columnists within a publication or having a podcast as Drew does, or there are a litany of different types of cornerstone content options, we can chat about those. But the temptation, I think today is because of the proliferation of social media and everything else is, Oh, I have to be everywhere. So I have to be creating content across six or seven other channels and creating unique content across those six or seven different channels.

And really our approach to cornerstone content is much different. And so you mentioned already cobblestones that, can you create weekly cornerstone content? Content that is media enough and deep and teaching and helpful enough that can then also be sliced and diced into smaller than cobblestones so that you can give the impression that you’re everywhere. When in reality, you’ve created one big piece and then sliced it across to other channels. And so you’re not a one trick pony, but you haven’t created eight or nine original pieces of content every single week, because that’s very difficult to maintain it as you well know.

Drew McLellan:

Well, and depending on your cornerstone, you don’t have to do it every week. If you’re going to do a research study, so let’s back up. Cornerstone content is a big meaty piece of content or a big meaty series that gives you enough nuggets that as Stephen says, you can make cobblestones out of them. So the basic question about cornerstone content is are you more comfortable talking or writing? And so some examples of cornerstone content on the talking side would be a podcast, a video series, a webinar series. And on the writing side, it might be, you’re writing a book, maybe you’re doing an annual research study and then slicing and dicing that. Maybe you’re writing a really prolific amount of blog posts that are very narrow in their focus around your niche and your point of view, or maybe you are, as Stephen said, writing for Inc and Entrepreneur and Forbes. And again, you’re staying very focused on your specialty combination.

So it doesn’t necessarily have to be every week, but the point is that once you create this big thing, whether it’s once a year or once a week or somewhere in between, now can you shatter that big thing into a bunch of… So you’ve got this big Boulder, can you shatter it into a bunch of pebbles that you can scatter amongst different channels, which eliminates the one trick pony thing, but I don’t have to keep reinventing the wheel.

Stephen Woessner:

Well. In what I liked about your approach in this chapter, when we were working on that, it was, yes, there’s the cornerstone. Yes, there’s the slice and dice and create cobblestones, but yet there’s also strategy around how the cobblestones are created and that just like in a literal sense, the cobblestones lead to something. And so can you structure the cobblestones in such a way that across these other channels, that then lead into the big meaty cornerstone and the agencies that get that right, are then the ones who are reaffirming niche, reaffirming point of view, they’re selling with authority. They’re no longer desperately trying to fill the pipeline because the cobblestones are bringing people back into the cornerstone. And that’s a wonderful thing when all that strategy works like that.

Drew McLellan:

Well, and I think it’s interesting because we’ve seen it happen in both ways. So for some agencies, a prospect stumbles on the cornerstone, first. They read the book, they see the research study, they start listening to the podcast or maybe they’re connected on LinkedIn. So they see one of the videos in the video series. So it may be that they start at the cornerstone and then they start following this person on social. They go subscribe to the blog, whatever it is, and now they are also being invited to consume the cobblestones. And on the flip side, sometimes somebody trips over a cobblestone. And if you lay the path so that each cobblestone is super close to the next one, so that literally they can walk the path, then they eventually find their way back to the cornerstone.

So either way, it doesn’t matter where they find you first, either way you’re creating this opportunity for them to experience you in all kinds of different channels. Sometimes it might be audio. Sometimes it might be video. Sometimes it might be written. So they’re seeing you in all kinds of different elements, but they’re hearing the same lessons over and over and over again. And over time, what they say is, good golly, this person is everywhere. And it feels like they’re super prolific with their content when really it’s the same piece of content, just fashioned in different ways and presented with different sort of headlines and nuggets and spotlights on different pieces. Because one of the things we hear from agency owners all the time is I don’t have time to do all of this.

And if an agency owner is really doing what I prescribed, which has spending 50% of their time on Biz Dev, if you follow this methodology that we spell out in the book of one cornerstone, which leads to a bunch of cobblestones, it really isn’t as time consuming as one might think.

Stephen Woessner:

No. Of course, I’m biased because of working on this book with you. But I think the key question to this answers that this methodology answers for an agency that is looking to fill their pipeline is, and I think you started really great. A couple of weeks ago in the workshop when we were, like some of the agencies were starting to kind of think more tactically about sales tactics, like follow ups and essentially kind of the traditional sort of pushing the sales process. And I love how you said in so many words of you can’t force somebody, if they’re not ready, you can’t force them to give you money. You can’t force them to say yes. And so what I love about this methodology is the fact that you’re constantly out in front of your audience being helpful and you’re teaching and sharing and building audience and establishing that Goodwill because of your generosity.

So that when there is a need, you’re the person that they think of. And then you’re no longer pushing, your opening the front door and having a conversation with a fellow business owner, a prospective client that you can be helpful with. And it takes the traditional sales tactics out of the process right away, because they know that you can be helpful because you have been potentially for a day or a decade, yeah.

Drew McLellan:

I think one of the frustrating things about our industry is there’s no buy one, get one free coupon. There’s no discount. There’s nothing we can do to encourage someone to open up their company’s budget to us, and to spend money with an agency before they perceive that they have a need. And so the ideal scenario is, and I think that’s really what this whole, and by the way, we wrote the book specifically for agencies and every example in it is for agencies. But one of the things we’re hoping is that you will read the book and then you will recognize that this is 21st century sales for every B2B industry. And so you can take what we’ve taught you in this book, and you can teach it to your clients, whether they sell software as a service, or they’re a law firm, or they do anything in the B2B space, this is how sales happens today.

Nobody is excited about a pushy sales person today. We all have a million ways to avoid that sort of aggressive sales effort when we are not in the mood to buy, but we are all hungry for tips and tricks and hacks and shortcuts to make us better at our job. And when we find someone who really does have a depth of expertise and who really does help us do our job better, we will continue to go back to that well and keep getting that information. And when we are ready to buy, not because there’s a coupon, not because it’s Black Friday, not because of anything else, but because we have a need, whoever has been helpful to us for a day or a decade or somewhere in between is going to be in the consideration set. That’s sales today for every one of our B2B clients, and for every agency that’s listening to this.

I hope, and as Steven and I were writing the book, one of our aspirations was that this was not just for you to use, to sell your agency services, but that you could take the lessons that we teach in this book. And you could retool them for the industries that you serve, for the clients that you serve and teach them this new methodology of sales, because it is in today’s information, rich environment. What is the statistic for most B2B buyers? They’ve made 70% of the buying decision before they ever make any contact with the company that they are thinking of buying from. So this is the reality for all of us. So that’s why we wrote the book specifically for you to sell differently in your agency, but also to put a new tool set in your arsenal for your clients.

Stephen Woessner:

And that’s exciting. That not only will the agency owners who read the book hopefully improve their agency as a result of some of the ideas and strategies shared, but maybe even be able to turn that into a recurring revenue model that they sell to their clients and attract new prospects as a result, which is really super exciting. It means that the content was helpful and that’s the whole point.

Drew McLellan:

Well, and by the way, for those of your agencies that are dying trying to create enough content for your clients, this idea of creating one big cornerstone piece and then slicing and dicing it and getting many months, if not a year’s worth of content out of it. It also makes your job easier from an agency perspective, because you also are not dying trying to create 18 different pieces of new content every week for your clients.

Stephen Woessner:

Yeah. And then it will make the agency that much more valuable to the client as well, because the clients are going to see results. They’re going to get great feedback, their industry, whoever it is that they serve, their own sweet spot clients that they’re serving are going to give them great feedback. They’re going to be attracting the right prospects. So it’s going to make the agency that much more of a strategic partner where we all want that seat at the C-suite table. And this is one of the ways to get that seat.

Drew McLellan:

All right. We need to wrap this up because we’re getting close to the hour mark. So thanks for coming on the show. Thank you for enduring a year plus of writing and rewriting and edits and discussions in air quotes about topics. Oh, and by the way, if you guys are hearing some weird scratching and the editors can’t take it out Heather, the charcoal lab is under my feet with a bone and I can’t get her to be quiet, so if you’re hearing that weird noise, sorry, but welcome to my reality. So but anyway, thank you for, I would not have wanted to write this book by myself. I think the combination of our experiences and the agencies that we both serve and all the examples that we were able to put together did exactly what we wanted it to do, which is the book is an example of cornerstone content. It is our goal to be super helpful, and it was really fun to do it with you. So thank you.

Stephen Woessner:

You’re welcome. And thank you too. It was a lot of fun to do it with you. And as I’ve mentioned-

Drew McLellan:

Okay. Wasn’t fun? Let’s be honest. It was-

Stephen Woessner:

No, no.

Drew McLellan:

It was-

Stephen Woessner:

It was fun to do. It was intellectually stimulating. How about that?

Drew McLellan:

Okay. All right. I’ll go with that.

Stephen Woessner:

Because as many of your listeners who have written books, no, or just a big project like this there’s a lot of work involved of course, there’s a lot of research of course, but it’s awesome to be able to have somebody in the project with you who pushes you. This project was rigorous in a very good way, that we each pushed on each other about certain ideas and strategies and all of that. And as a result, the content was better. And so I am grateful for that opportunity to work alongside you on something worthwhile like this. So, thanks for that.

Drew McLellan:

You bet. All right guys. This wraps up another episode of Build a Better Agency. If you are interested in the book you can get it on Amazon. We are working on an eBook version. We are talking about doing an audiobook, but right now it’s just available as a paperback. We’ll include a link in the show notes, of course, but you can just go to Amazon and search for Sell with Authority and you will find it. I will be back next week with another great guest who will get you thinking differently about your agency, a couple of quick reminders for you. I really, really would love to see you at Build a Better Agency Summit on May 19th and 20th. It’s going to be a killer conference. Steven’s going to be there. He’s going to be leading one of the round tables. He’s also a sponsor, so he is hosting an amazing party that combines super sharp objects and alcohol. So that’s going to be fun for all of us. So-

Stephen Woessner:

Speaking about the alcohol part, I didn’t know about the super sharp objects.

Drew McLellan:

Well, it’s too late. You’re already a sponsor. So-

Stephen Woessner:

Awesome.

Drew McLellan:

… don’t worry. I have the insurance. That’s fine. We’re good.

Stephen Woessner:

Oh, okay.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. So head over to the website and check out the Build a Better Agency Summit, amazing speakers, amazing network opportunities, great way to connect with other agency owners and learn from them and share what you know as well. And also a big shout out to our friends at White Label IQ. So they are the presenting sponsor of this podcast. They’re also the presenting sponsor of the summit. So we are doubly grateful to them for their support, but I will tell you every week I get a thank you email from an agency that I’ve introduced them to, that they literally have saved the day for them. So if you’re looking for someone to White Label PPC or dev or design, they are your go-to, go to whitelabeliq.com/ami because they have a great deal for you where you can get a bunch of free hours from them. So check that out and I’ll be back next week. If you need to track me down, I’m [email protected] Thanks for listening.

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