Episode 4

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Stephen Woessner is CEO of Predictive ROI and the host of the brilliant Onward Nation podcast. He is the author of two bestselling books, The Small Business Owner’s Handbook to Search Engine Optimization and Increase Online Sales Through Viral Social Networking. His digital marketing insights have been featured in SUCCESS, Forbes, Entrepreneur, The Washington Post, Inc. Magazine and more. His agency blends education in very transparent ways for clients.

 

What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • How Stephen’s agency blends education into what they do for their clients
  • How you can charge a premium fee while building trust and proving expertise
  • What needs to be changed to fix the money draining mistakes that are sucking money out of your business
  • Predictive ROI’s scorecard
  • The modern agency ecosphere
  • Data vs. traditional creative: how do you blend them?
  • Why Predictive ROI had to completely rewrite their client contract agreement
  • How their money-back guarantee has helped them retain clients longer
  • Strategies to use to assert your intelligence to clients and earn them money
  • How to combat the fear of criticism

 

The Golden Nugget:

“Tackle a client’s biggest pain point to become their true partner.” – @StephenWoessner Click To Tweet

Click to tweet: Stephen Woessner shares the inside knowledge needed to run an agency on Build a Better Agency!

 

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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 Build a Better agency, where we 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 expertise as both an agency owner and agency consultant to you, please welcome your host, Drew McClellan.

Drew McClellan:

Hey everybody. This is drew McClellan, and I am stoked to be with you today. I know how tough agency ownership is because I am still walking that path right next to you with my own agency, but along with running MMG for the past 20 years, I also work with over 200 small to mid-size agency owners every year, helping them improve their businesses, and as a result the life that business affords them. The Build a Better Agency podcast is my way of extending that work and trying to help more agency owners just like you.

But today I want to dive right into our conversation with my guest, Stephen Woessner. Stephen, thank you for joining us today.

Stephen Woessner:

Well Drew, thanks very much for the invitation. Very kind of you, and I’m excited about the conversation. I think it’s going to be awesome.

Drew McClellan:

I think it is going to be awesome. So for those of you who are not familiar with Stephen, Stephen is the CEO of Predictive ROI and the host of the Onward Nation podcast, which is really brilliant. He is the author of two bestselling books. He’s a speaker, a trainer, and his digital marketing insights have been featured in all kinds of places like Success, Entrepreneur, The Washington Post, Forbes, Inc Magazine and other places. He also is the CEO of the agency Predictive ROI. Stephen, what else does my audience need to know about you?

Stephen Woessner:

Well, I think that maybe what makes us a little bit unique and different is the fact that we blend a lot of this education, private sector or public sector I guess, education academia, because of my backer around at the University of Wisconsin, the Lacrosse Campus, into the fact of blending it into an agency. And so we have this model, as you know, that we just really love to teach in a very fully transparent way. And, and sometimes we get criticism from that. It’s like, “Why would you teach this stuff? Why are you giving all this stuff away?” But I really love to teach and share. And so we have very transparent recipes. We take people behind the green curtain and teach them exactly what we do for search engine optimization, and I love to do that. So I think that, aside from the fact that we guarantee increases in traffic leads and sales, I think the fact that we’re so transparent about what it is that we do, we actually train our clients on what it is that we do, I think all of that blended together makes us unique and different.

Drew McClellan:

Well, it’s interesting that you say that, because I think for a lot of clients, the whole SEO thing and anything that sort of happens digitally on the web, it feels a little bit mysterious and scary. And so I suspect that your willingness to open the kimono allows them to build trust much quicker with you. That they understand what you’re doing and it’s not some secret potion, or worse yet, that you’re not doing anything and they’re paying for nothing. Right?

Stephen Woessner:

Yeah. That’s actually a great way to put it. I’ve actually had more than one client or perspective client say to me, when I said that we will do this for a period of 12 months, we will guarantee increases in traffic leads in sales, and during that process will actually teach you all of the recipes, all the strategies, all the ideas, all the tactics, all the step by step ingredients of stuff that we’re doing. So you know exactly what it is that we’re doing and how we drove those result outcomes. And we will transfer all of that stuff over to you at the end of 12 months. We’ll just give it all to you so that you can take it in house if you want to, and literally that CEO said to me, “Where did you come from? Why would you do that?” And my response is, “Why would we not? That’s kind of awesome to be able to do that.” And by the way, we still continue to work with that company after that 12 months, because that really builds trust, being able to do that. Being fully transparent, or using your words, opening the kimono.

Drew McClellan:

Yeah. Well, I think the misperception, and I think a lot of agencies and agency owners have this, is if they share their secret sauce and show a client how they do what they do, they’re going to want to do it themselves. But the reality is most clients don’t have the time or the energy or the focus, and they would rather spend the money and let the expert do it. But it is reassuring to know how it’s being done.

Stephen Woessner:

I think you said it perfectly. That is exactly what our experience has been, that when you’re fully transparent, that when you show your client it’s not mystic dark magic voodoo, and you share those recipes, they look at it and say, “Oh okay, this isn’t mystic. Dark magic voodoo. I don’t have the time or the bandwidth, or quite frankly, the interest in mastering this now that I know that, what it is that you’re actually doing, then just go get on with it, increase our traffic leads and sales will be how happy to continue paying you just do that.

Drew McClellan:

Right, right. Well, this all leads into the idea that really predictive ROI is a different kind of model for an ad agency, or a marketing agency. It’s sort of the new wave of how agencies are beginning to think about how to talk about the work they do and the results they deliver for clients. And so my perception of predictive is that you’re an agency that is all about measuring and delivering results. So talk to us a little bit about that model, and why you think it resonates with your clients and business owners in general today, and what agency owners, particularly traditional agency owners, maybe a branding agency, or an agency that has won a lot of creative awards, how they need to think differently about how they interact with their clients.

Stephen Woessner:

Boy, there’s a lot of really great questions in there to unpack and to build a conversation around. And I think why it’s of interest first with an owner, a business owner, is because that’s what they care about. That’s the income statement, that’s the P&L. And so this kind of cost per acquisition, or the sales model, or guaranteed sales, when other agencies are like running away from that, we run toward it, because that’s where you can then command a premium price. When you tackle the biggest pain point, and also the biggest pleasure point too if you’re successful, but the biggest pain point in a business owner’s business, if you can confidently you do that, well then you’re no longer a vendor. You truly are a partner because you’re moving the needle in the right direction.

And so the reason why I think we’ve been successful with that and being able to charge a premium fee to be able to deliver that is because we’re conquering the biggest fear, the biggest pain point, the biggest challenge in that business owner’s business. And I would encourage other agencies to consider that.

Look, our model’s not for everybody. We’re burning the candle at both ends. We are moving at a pace and tempo that is uncommon, and I get the fact that there are not maybe a bunch of agency owners around the country saying, “Oh yeah, I’m totally all in for that.” I get that. But I think the reason why I would encourage other agency owners, no matter what your specialty is, to consider something like that, either a hybrid or maybe the model itself, is because at some point your business owners, your clients, will demand that of you.

We’re getting into, and we’re already in there, but we’re getting to the point where agency owners, or excuse me, business owners will say, “No, I really appreciate the track record of creative. That’s awesome. And I’m not trying to take that away from you, agency principle, but how does that make me more money? How does that generate more traffic leads and sales, and how will you be act that up? How will you measure that? Everything from the initial opt-in or somebody just going to a landing page all the way through to my transaction? My cash register ringing.” And if you can’t do that, I think at some point, you’ll lose.

And so I don’t think it’s me saying that, that should be the reason that you jump into this, or to maybe transition your agency toward that. It’s your clients that will force you into that at some point, whether that’s now, five years from now, whatever. But it’s coming.

Drew McClellan:

Well, one of the things that I do for AMI network members for the agencies that belong to an AMI network, is I talk to them about the trends and what I’m seeing across all of the agencies that I work with. And without a doubt, you’re absolutely right. One of the things I’m seeing are the agencies that are the most profitable, and that have the least client turnover, are the agencies who are inside their client sales funnel with them, and are able to document and measure how the work the agency is doing is moving people through the sales funnel. And especially those agencies that can tie it directly to a closed sale, those agencies are knocking it out of the park. So you’re absolutely right that it is not only coming, but for many agencies, the time is here and it’s now.

Stephen Woessner:

Amen to that. And you just really articulated our relationship with clients perfectly. We’re so intimately involved. We are helping our clients hire, and sometimes fire say sales team. We are helping them train sales team. We are so involved in the vital metrics up and down that funnel in helping them optimize those things, in various different ways and strategies and so forth, and in our world, we call those recipes, but we are so intimately involved in the customer experience, their customer experience, because we’ve got skin in the game. And also it’s pretty darn fun being involved in all those different things. But also, I think mostly the traditional agency would look at that and say, “Well, that’s a client’s responsibility,” and that’s not the way that we look at it.

We look at it as we’re a team, and if we jump in with some of our experience in other industries before predictive, and we can apply it here to make improvements, then we’re going to do that, and we’re going to help our client win no matter what it is that we have to do. But I understand that would create some indigestion for some agency owners.

Drew McClellan:

A valid point. But let’s talk about from an agency’s perspective. And again, from an agency that’s a little more traditional in its structure, what are some things that they can do around this idea of being results focused? What are some things that they can do or begin to think about that will allow them to at least begin to weave that thinking into the DNA of their agency?

Stephen Woessner:

Well, here’s what’s interesting. Sometimes it isn’t necessarily this big technical shift. Sometimes it’s just a little bit more of awareness and paying attention to the vital metrics, and being able to measure them all the way through. And so we’ve got these 23 different recipes, and so we can … Is it okay if we just talk about out a few of them? Is that alright?

Drew McClellan:

Absolutely.

Stephen Woessner:

Okay. And so it’s been my experience that one of the most expensive, and we take some of those recipes and we break those down into what we call money draining mistakes. These are things where we find business owners or businesses where they’re just leaking money out of their business, just money falling out of the bottom of the boat essentially. And so the first one that tends to be the most expensive is bounce rate.

Now, I know that in of itself, maybe some agency owners, maybe some of your listeners are rolling their eyes. “Yeah. Okay. We you’ve heard bounce rate before.” But let me break that down to be more specific about what I mean by that. And so the typical quote unquote “Unoptimized website,” if you will, has a bounce rate of between 50 to 60%. And sometimes landing pages have bounce rates of between 70 and 80%. And if you’re doing paid traffic to a landing page and it’s getting 80% bounce rate, what in the world is going on there? Something’s going on. And so our goal for bounce rate is about 30%.

And so what we have found over time is that if we can reduce the bounce rate of a particular landing page, let’s say, from a 50 to 60% down to 30%, and there’s a paid campaign there, you can essentially keep the paid budget the same, but by reducing bounce rate, your conversion rate actually goes up. And the only thing you changed was making that a better experience. And so we have a three step process, or three ingredients to reducing bounce rate. And I’ll tell you what they are right now. And so the first one is X, Y, Z. We put an XYZ statement on a page, so that very simply, the customer avatar knows they’re in the right place. And so XYZ means we do X for Y, so they can Z. Meaning we, as in the company, we do X. X being the products of services. I know that sounds really fundamental, but hopefully the owners listening right now, or agency staff listening right now will take that and go, “Do we have an X, Y, Z on these landing pages?”

And so we do X, X being the products of services for Y, and Y being the customer profile. So somebody goes and says, “Oh, okay, you do this. Oh, and you do it for me. Awesome. And so now I’ll stay.” And then so they can Z, and Z being the result outcome. If I stay on this page, because you’re doing this, this product our service for me, and I need that, and then so Z, so that I can do this, and this is how my life improves.

And so then just by having the X, Y, Z clearly defined, bounce rate can go down by 10% in two days.

Drew McClellan:

Wow.

Stephen Woessner:

So then we take that deeper though. We eliminate visual clutter. Don’t give the avatar are 15 things to think about, give them three. Remove the options. Still give them options, but instead of 15 it’s three. And, and then just very, very clear calls to action. Dr. Flint McLaughlin, from Marketing Experiments and Mec labs … It was so amazing. He and I did a video interview together when I was in Jacksonville at their headquarters. And he said to me, he goes, “Stephen, clarity always trumps persuasion.” I’m like, “Oh, so stop trying to be cute. Stop trying to be overly creative. Tell the avatar what they need to do and how to do it, and they will.”

So if we follow those three steps, bounce rate goes down to about 30% or less, your lead gen goes up, and you haven’t spent any more money. So that would be a real quick thing to fix. And then I can certainly share any additional recipes you think would be helpful. We can do as deep of a dive as you want to, Drew.

Drew McClellan:

Well, it’s interesting when you say that. First of all, I’m sure there are a lot of agency folks who cringe at the idea that being clever and being creative doesn’t matter. And I know that’s a hard pill to swallow for all of us who came up through the business, and it’s not that there’s not a place for it. There will always be a place for great copy and great design. It’s just that it can’t get in the way of the sale.

Stephen Woessner:

Yeah. And that’s absolutely the right perspective. You’re a 100% correct. And so on a longer term nurturing campaign, or some sort of brand awareness campaign, or whatever, there definitely is a place for it. In our world, we are working on really immediate lead gen. Typically, a business owner wants to go from X to Y in a 12 month period of time. And so we’re essentially on the clock, if you will, in our model. “Stephen, I want your predictive ROI team to ignite my leads in this period of time. This is what the conversion metrics are for my sales team, and if you do that and we do this, wow, we’re going to make magic happen.”

And so that tends to be our world, which I know is not suitable and appropriate for every owner who’s listening to this interview, but that’s what really drives our model.

Drew McClellan:

So thinking about one of your other recipes, or one of the other sort of methodologies that I think you guys have mastered, that a lot of agencies really struggle with, is the whole idea of the scorecard. So even if you’re not doing any work with a client online, just the idea of identifying, “Hey client, let’s mutually agree upon how we are going to measure whether or not we’re being successful together.” So talk to us a little bit about that and your scorecard calls. And again, think of this in terms of the agencies that have clients that don’t do transactions online, or may not even be doing a lot of things other than brochure-ware on their websites, but who are doing business in brick and mortar stores, or sales people out in a territory, that sort of thing. Because I still think your scorecard is perfectly applicable to those kinds of agencies and those kind of clients.

Stephen Woessner:

Okay. We just had one of those calls, this morning at 7:30, where we are going through the vital over the last several weeks with a particular client. And so we start at the top end of the funnel and we look at, “Okay, how many ebook downloads did we have?” Okay, now that’s not an online transaction, it’s an online opt-in obviously. But how many ebook transactions did we have? I’m just going to turn around real quick and look at my whiteboard. And we had 118 ebook opt-ins. Awesome. So very top end of the funnel. Now we can start to nurture that relationship. And out of those eBooks, we then have … Once you download the ebook, then you get this opportunity to take that for further, right away, and that ignites our lead gen. Plus then we also have targeted ads going to that landing page as well.

And so then we take that further. So how many leads do we generate? And it was 199. And so in that few week period, there was 199 potential lead … Or not potential, but people raise their hand. And then that goes over to our sales team. And from that, how many of those opportunities then converted into actual demos of the service? And that was then 45. And so out of the 45, how many of those demos then converted into new clients? And that was 23. And so at the top end, we took in 199 new leads. We converted 23 at the back end, which was 11.5% conversion rate.

There isn’t anything mystic dark magic voodoo about that process. It’s just understanding the metrics and how the client makes money. Now we do use is a CRM. We do use Infusionsoft. So all of that stuff was in Infusionsoft, but then we’re just able to serve that up in a scorecard, and then being able to understand what lever do we need to pull to accelerate those things up and down the funnel? And so it’s not overly complicated. It’s just the fact that we have the discipline to do that, and we know what our client’s numbers are all the time, because we have access to that data. And then like I said, we know what knob to turn and what button to push to accelerate results, or to bring results back, which I know sounds odd, but let’s say that a person leaves the sales team. Well, we don’t want to have to 200 leads flowing to people if they’re not there. So we do need to regulate lead flow from time to time, either up or down.

Drew McClellan:

My point, I think, is that even if none of that happens online, the idea of having a scorecard, of having an agreed upon set of metrics, that, “Here’s how we’re going to measure.” And I know, I guarantee you that half the agency owners listening to this say, “I don’t have any of that. When we ask our clients what their conversion numbers are, they don’t know.” Or when we ask our clients how long their sales cycle is, they don’t know. And I think your response would be, then you got to help them figure it out. Right?

Stephen Woessner:

Yeah. You’re exactly correct. Not only do you have to figure that out, but I love when that happens. Because now your client has just in code said to you, “I don’t know. I sure wish I knew. Could you help me?” And so we look at that as like, “Okay, that is awesome. What a great opportunity to jump in.” Because the numbers are there, the data’s there. They just don’t know how to find it, where to get it, how to calculate it, and what does it all mean? And that is a huge, huge, huge opportunity for us when that happens.

Drew McClellan:

Well, and again, even none of it happens online. So let’s say you’re marketing a regional law firm and you are sending out paper invites to how to build a will, that will protect you and your family seminar, that’s going to be held at a hotel. It could be so down and dirty old school, but the point is still being able to say, “Okay, if we want to have this many sales, how many people need to be at the seminar?” And if we want to have this many people at the seminar, being able to help a client walk that backwards, to really understand what they have to put in the top of the funnel to get out what they want at the bottom of the funnel, and then measuring that all the time, and being able to tie your at activity and your efforts to those numbers is what makes an agency not have to worry about another agency poaching their business.

Stephen Woessner:

Amen. And in the metrics that I gave to starting at 1.99, moving all the way down to 23-25 transactions, that was all offline, by the way. Those were not 25 sales made online. We generated the leads online, moved those over to the offline to sales team. And then the online essentially stopped. And we have a funnel in place, as far as nurturing them all the way through the process. So there is a little bit of nudge, essentially digitally. But after that, we generate the leads, move them to the sales team, sales team then moves them through the demo. The demo’s not online, moves them through then to starting, becoming a customer. That is not online.

So I think maybe one of our gifts that maybe I’m not naturally aware of, or maybe that I should say that I take for granted, is the fact that we understand that it’s not just an online in an offline ecosphere. It isn’t just digital anymore, or just offline, or traditional anymore. I think the agency of tomorrow, or the ones that are winning today, recognize that it’s a totally holistic ecosphere. It’s not moving them from online to offline, it’s just a blending of that. And so we pay attention to that constantly, because it matters.

Drew McClellan:

Well, it’s no different. If we thought about the business world the way we think about our own lives, how many of us sit on our couch, watching TV with an iPad in our lap immediately, and without thinking about it, blending the offline and the online? And that’s the reality of our world today. There are no two separate worlds. It’s just that they have completely interacted and are completely interwoven into each other. And that’s the way life happens today.

Stephen Woessner:

Amen. Yeah, that’s exactly right.

Drew McClellan:

Okay. So all of that being said, as you know, and some of the listeners probably don’t know this about you, but not only do you serve clients directly, but you also partner with agencies. And I know you’ve partnered with some AMI agencies to teach them your methodology, and to help them bring these recipes or these practices into the work that they do with clients. And I suspect that some agencies have been more receptive to this than others. And so my question to you is, given what we know about the business landscape today, and how demanding and ROI focused clients are, tell me why an agency or an agency owner would push back on this idea, and why it might be difficult for some agencies to adopt this sort of mindset and methodology that you’re talking about.

Stephen Woessner:

Well, that’s an awesome question. Really cuts to the core of it. And really, it isn’t because what we do is very hard, or that it’s mystic dark magic voodoo. And I don’t mean to simplify our model. It is complex, but it isn’t the inability to learn it, I guess is the point that I’m maki