Episode 131

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When I think about this episode, it’s all about voice but not just in the way that you might first assume.

Stephen Woessner and I taught a workshop together in January called Creating Content that Creates Revenue. One of the big themes from that workshop was the idea that most agencies really haven’t defined their distinct point of view. I did a whole solocast on that that really does a deep dive on the topic. But it’s really all about finding your agency’s unique voice and weaving that through all of your content, your website, your new business decks, and your agency’s work.

The second way you can see the theme of voice in this podcast is in the idea of using content as the Trojan Horse of sales, as my guest Stephen coined the phrase. When you give your prospective client a voice through your cornerstone content (podcast, book, video series, blog, etc.) by putting the spotlight on them as a guest or subject matter expert, you can leverage that invitation to create a relationship with them that they’d never welcome if you were just trying to sell them something. Giving them exposure and a voice is the door opener that actually gets them to be interested in you and how you work.

I believe this is one of the most effective and least exploited sales techniques in our space and the agencies who master it will be several steps ahead of their competitors. It completely changes the landscape of the relationship you have with prospects.

Finally, we explore the idea of voice from a channel perspective. Voice controlled devices are becoming very mainstream and there are some huge opportunities for agencies in that space. We explore some of the possibilities as we wrap up the episode.

As you can see – this is an episode that is packed with content and thought ticklers. I can’t wait to hear your reaction.



What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  1. Why success is not only about creating great content but it’s also about creating content that creates revenue for your agency either in the form of sponsorships, new clients, or other opportunities.
  2. How your agency can create your own Trojan Horse of Sales to open doors with your Nano 25 prospects, have a different kind of conversation than what most agencies are having with prospects, and all without your prospect ever feeling like they were a prospect.
  3. How to spotlight the wisdom and insights you collect from your Nano 25 and share that knowledge with your audience – and what happens when you do.
  4. A specific script you can use for a phone call with your Nano 25 to move the business development process forward.
  5. Why it’s important to plant your flag in firm ground using a channel agnostic content strategy.
  6. How monetizing your content extends much further than just attracting new clients sponsorships, speaking engagements, or books.
  7. How “Voice” has become a fast-tracking trend that will be a cultural norm within a year or two.
  8. How strategy and content creation for voice controlled devices like Amazon Echo and Google Home represent opportunities for agencies to jump in and help clients make sense of it all.
  9. How to restructure website content pages to make them more voice search friendly.
  10. Why the agencies that understand how to produce content around their point-of-view that then becomes the search result for voice activated search are going to have a huge advantage over competitors.

The Golden Nuggets:

“Having a Trojan Horse of Sales running inside your agency is an ideal way to ensure you will earn an at bat with your top prospects.” - @stephenwoessner Click To Tweet “The key to having a successful Trojan Horse of Sales strategy for your agency is setting up a system where you can sit down and interview your top prospects to learn about their business without it feeling like a sales call.” - @stephenwoessner Click To Tweet “Instead of asking your prospects for something – give them an opportunity to put a spotlight on their business, and on themselves...that’s the Trojan Horse of Sales hard at work.” - @stephenwoessner Click To Tweet “What if you went to one of your clients and said ‘In 18-months, all of the marketing we’re producing for your brand will become self-funded because of the monetization strategy we put into place.’ Could be a game changer for your agency.” -… Click To Tweet “Developing a strategy for voice, experimenting with skills for @AmazonEcho, and creating content optimized for voice search, are some of the ways agencies can help their clients win over the next 24-months.” - @stephenwoessner Click To Tweet


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Speaker 1:

If you’re going to take the risk of running an agency, shouldn’t you get the benefits too? Welcome to Agency Management Institute’s Build a Better Agency podcast presented by HubSpot. We’ll show you how to build an agency that can scale and grow with better clients, invested employees, and best of all, more money to the bottom line. Bringing 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. So today, we’re going to talk about content, but we’re going to talk about it from the agency’s perspective, the way that I think you should be thinking about content. And I think some of the additional benefits that come from really creating genuine thought leadership, not generic content that somebody else can put their name on, but content that is uniquely and truly tied to you and your agency and your agency’s point of view.

I talked about point of view and in solocast 125. So if you haven’t listened to that, you might want to go back and take a listen there. But when you are really clear about your point of view, and you’re very clear about who you can help and how you can help them, all of a sudden your content is actually thought leadership. It really is something that is uniquely yours, that is sort of branded who you are and what you’re all about. And it really does attract the prospects that you want to attract.

So I taught a whole workshop on this content that generate, what’s called generating content that generates revenue. And I taught it with Stephen Woessner who owns an agency called Predictive ROI. They do all kinds of content creation for their clients. They’re known for producing podcasts, and in full disclosure, they are the producers of Build a Better Agency. But they also help their clients create all kinds of different content, and then figure out how to build lead generation programs off of that content. And so, Stephen and I taught the workshop together. And one of the key points that we talked about was this idea of how to generate revenue from your content, so I asked him to be on the show so we could talk about that.

But he and his agency are doing some really interesting things around voice as well. And so, I believe that is an emerging trend that we all need to be paying more attention to. And so, I’m going to lead our conversation in that direction as well. So without any further ado, let’s get Stephen on the show and start the conversation. Welcome back to the podcast, Stephen.

Stephen Woessner:

Well, thanks very much for inviting me back. I mean, it’s always a pleasure to spend time with you of course, and certainly with your listeners too.

Drew McLellan:

So as I was saying in the introduction, one of the things I want to talk about today is a little bit of the reason why we did the workshop that we did in January, and the workshop was creating content that creates revenue. And I am of the belief and everybody has heard me preach this probably already that one of the things that differentiates a good agency from a great agency is a great agency has a very strong point of view. I did a solocast on that a few weeks ago, it was solo cast episode 125, if you haven’t listened to it. But not only a great point of view, but a vehicle to distribute that point of view of cornerstone content, thought leadership that is not pablum content, that is not content that everybody else could write, but instead it’s really something that the agency can own and it can really identify who they are and what they’re all about. And so, when you and I taught that workshop together, it really did all start around this idea of what is genuine cornerstone content.

Stephen Woessner:

Yeah, exactly. And great solocast, by the way. I know you don’t need me to promo your solocast, but 125 was excellent. In fact, I just re-listened to it again today as I was re-getting ready for today’s interview, and it’s exceptional. What I really love about it is you do such a great job in the beginning of taking us back to out of home, back when many of us started in this industry, to where it is today and in how that channel has needed to progress. So having this point of view planted really deep in firm ground, but recognizing that we can’t be dependent upon one particular channel. We have to be channel agnostic. So to your point, having this deep cornerstone content that we can then slice and dice and we can get a lot of leverage off of a particular piece of cornerstone, but then also recognizing the true thought leadership, you can’t be a one-trick pony, you have to be out across other channels, two, maybe three so you’re not channel agnostic, is critical today, especially how fast the channels are changing.

Drew McLellan:

So for those of you that were not at the workshop with us, what we talked about is that most agencies don’t really do content well. The content we create is generic. Other agencies could put their logo on it, yet another blog post about Pantone picked a new color and it’s purple, woo, as opposed to really taking your point of view and wrapping it around how smart you are in creating content that actually helps your prospects, your audience be better at their job and how do you teach and how do you coach from your content. And so, what we talked about was that every agency owner has a predisposition to either be a great writer or to be a great talker. And if you’re a great writer, then maybe you write a book or maybe you have a blog or maybe you do something else but with written words, and then if you are a natural talker, maybe you speak at conferences or perhaps you have a podcast, but in either case you then have to slice and dice the material so that it is, as Stephen said, across multiple channels.

But the one where I want to get to today in my conversation with Stephen is one of the other things we talked about is it’s not only about how to create content, but it’s how to create content that creates revenue. And so, I believe this is a big shift for agencies. I’ll do a solocast about it in further detail. But the bottom line is I think that there are many ways that you can create revenue streams from genuine thought leadership content. And so, one of the ways, Stephen, that you talked a lot about was the whole idea of, and I know you’ve coined the phrase, the Trojan Horse of Sales. So can you walk the listeners through what that means and maybe give some examples that show both from a writing and a speaking point of view how somebody might leverage that?

Stephen Woessner:

Absolutely. At the onset of defining what the Trojan Horse of Sales is, it’s really important to understand that it is channel agnostic, that sure a popular adaptation of the Trojan Horse of Sales might be hosting a podcast, but it could just as easily be applied if somebody had a rocking awesome blog. And so, it is channel agnostic. The key piece to it though is like you often recommend to agencies, get really, really clear about their nano 25 or those 25 prospects that you want to be on their list. You want to be doing business with them, but for whatever reason, you just haven’t received an at-bat yet. So getting really crystal clear on your nano 25. And then those prospects, they become guests for your show or guest interviewees for your blog.

And in setting up a system to where you can sit down and have a conversation with your nano 25 and learn about their business, it’s biz dev for you, but you’re collecting their insights and wisdom and scaling and all their secrets and all of that information about their path journey and what makes them special about their business, is great content then for the audience that you’re building. They’re grateful to have had that opportunity to share that with your audience. It was business development for you, but they never felt like a prospect. And then, having a system downstream like what you share in the micro-nano level of continuing to share your thought leadership with them after that interview is done so that every time they turn around, they say and they have a question like, “Well, there’s Drew being helpful to me.”

And so then eventually, you loop back to them after you’ve established a relationship and after you’ve had an opportunity to demonstrate your smarts without demonstrating your smarts and then say, “Hey, Drew, thanks again for being a guest on my show, really appreciate your time, and thank you for sharing your expertise. And by the way, during the conversation, you mentioned X and gosh, that got my team and I thinking about Y. You know what, we do Y really, really well here. Is there a day or time next week that you think we could sit down and chat about that?”

And Drew now has had a great interview experience with you for either your blog or your podcast or whatever, and then has experienced your thought leadership, all of that downstream, and has found you to be really helpful and that you’re smart without you having to tell him or her that you’re smart. And then he or she says, “Sure, I’d love to sit down with you and talk with you about that.” And then, that turns into business development. That’s the Trojan horse because your podcast, your blog, whatever opened that door when you wouldn’t have otherwise had an at-bat.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. And I think the key to this is thinking about from your prospect’s point of view, they get calls from agencies every day and they dodged those calls every single day, whether it’s email or phone calls or whatever it is. But when you reach out to them because you’re writing a book and you want to interview them for a chapter, or you’ve got a podcast, or you have a video show, or you’re writing blogs and you’re featuring successful people in fill-in-the-blank industry and they happen to be one, all of a sudden, you’re coming to them with a different kind of conversation. Instead of asking them for something, you are offering something. You’re offering them an opportunity to put the spotlight on their business and on themselves professionally. And so, it doesn’t feel at all because it isn’t really. It doesn’t feel like a sales call. It feels like an editorial opportunity.

And so, to Stephen’s point, that opens the door that normally gets slammed in our face. And when you do that and you have a good experience and you actually have a great conversation… And the key to this is you’re not obviously trying to sell them during the interview, you’re not trying to pitch something, but you are just doing your job in terms of collecting content that is beneficial to your listeners, and in this ideal scenario, your guests, who’s also your business prospect, is of the same kind as your listeners so it’s a great conversation. Not only do you get more business intelligence, but this person now feels like they have a little bit of a relationship with you. You have promoted them after the episode goes live, or the blog post goes live, or the book is published, whatever that is. You’re going to be celebrating the people that were featured on the show or in the blog or in the book. So you’re going to be putting the spotlight on them and their business. You’re going to be tweeting about them.

Then, what you start doing is you start sending them things that follow up on the show, maybe it’s a checklist to do something, or it’s a tip sheet, or it’s an ebook you’ve written, whatever it is. But you continue to demonstrate that you understand their world because you started that by the questions that you asked, right, and now, you are demonstrating over and over how smart you are. And sooner or later, either you have the opportunity, as Stephen said, to say, “Hey, you know what, I was thinking about this thing you said, and I think we might have a solution for that. Do you have time to chat?” Or even better, after a while, they get an idea of what you do for other people. They understand who you are, how smart you are because you’re making them smarter, and they pick up the phone or shoot you an email and say, “You know what, we have a project. I want to talk to you about it.” That’s magic when it happens, right? And they never, ever felt like they were being sold. That’s the Trojan horse part of all of this, right?

Stephen Woessner:

Absolutely. And so, there’s the proactive approach like you just described, eventually picking up the phone and calling. But it’s a beautiful thing in whether you and I were, if we’ve taught together or I’ve attended a workshop as one of the participants, I see this happen to you where an agency owner who you haven’t met in person yet will come up to you and say, “You’re exactly the person who I thought you were going to be, Drew. I am so glad that I attended the workshop today. I’ve learned so much from you, but honestly, my experience with you has been months and months and months ago because you’ve been in my ears on the treadmill or walking my dog or whatever.”

And then, when they do meet you in person, I don’t mean to put you on the spot or embarrass you, but it’s a really a magical thing when that happens when somebody comes up to you and says, “Oh my gosh, every time I turn around, you’re being helpful.” Now from an AMI perspective, you’re not selling anything. You’re not selling them, but they have developed this voyeuristic, this relationship with you, and that is a beautiful thing.

Drew McLellan:

Right. That’s the more indirect version of Trojan horse. So my podcast is an example where my guests are not my prospects as a general rule. They’re just people who also serve agencies. They come alongside me in the world that I live in, where I’m trying to serve agencies. But as a result of that, the audience gets to hear both my guests and myself.

So there is the more direct Trojan horse where, as Stephen said, your guest list is peppered, not every guest, but your guest list is peppered with people who you want to do business with. And again, guest list could be chapters of your book, it could be blog posts, interviewees, it could be podcasts. It doesn’t matter what. It could be somebody you’re going to have on your video show, it doesn’t matter, or the channel. But whoever you’re going to feature, whoever you’re going to spotlight is a prospect.

Or you could do the more indirect route, which is more of my podcast as an example, which is I’m not interviewing people that I’m trying to sell or that I even could sell to in most cases, but I am interviewing people that I think are going to be relevant to the people I want to sell to. And so, hopefully, by adding that kind of value and by piping in during an interview, now I’m demonstrating that I understand the agency world and that maybe I can be helpful to you too, right?

Stephen Woessner:

Yeah. I love seeing that happen. But here again, and I know this will sound a little bit patronized and I sure don’t mean it to, but the reason why you’re getting those at-bats is because you’ve structured the show the way that you have, but also because you are so focused going back 10 minutes ago on producing cornerstone content that is helpful. You have this deeply planted flag, right, that most agency owners are accidental business owners. And so, you feel this strong sense of purpose of being helpful. So they run better shops and they make more money and serve better clients and all of that. And so then, the podcast is an extension of that so then, why wouldn’t that then be a result outcome when your audience feels this deep connection because you’re being consistent and congruent with the flag that you plant.

Drew McLellan:

Right. So it is the combination, again, of point of view and this cornerstone content. So Stephen, I know that you’ve based a lot of your business model around this whole idea of the Trojan horse and that people make. So your point of view is really around that businesses make selling harder than it has to be, and they are going about it in a backwards way. And that by helping them develop cornerstone content, whatever it is, and I know you support people with podcasts and books and videos and all kinds of other ways that they can create cornerstone content, then you’re helping them in essence implement the Trojan horse, right?

Stephen Woessner: