How Buyable is Your Expertise?
What does it mean to “productize” a service? When what you sell is knowledge and expertise, making your service easier to understand and more buyable will also make it easier to market and sell. In this episode, you’ll hear some pointers on how to get started.
You can listen to the episode using the player embedded above, or you can read a full transcript below.
Chris Butler: Welcome to Expert Marketing Matters. I’m Chris Butler.
Lauren McGaha: Lauren McGaha.
Mark: I’M MARK O’BRIEN!!!!!
Chris Butler: Oh my god.
Mark: [inaudible 00:00:37].
Chris Butler: No, no.
Lauren McGaha: [crosstalk 00:00:41].
Mark: It’s going to max out.
Lauren McGaha: Chris is going to work his audio magic there.
Mark: Yeah. [inaudible 00:00:46] our people deaf.
Chris Butler: I do hope that-
Lauren McGaha: This is the last time I critique you as my guest.
Chris Butler: I do hope you all enjoyed that bounce of frenzy there.
Mark: Lauren said I was too somber in my intro, so I changed it. Yeah.
Chris Butler: Mark has hard time remaining positive.
Lauren McGaha: You’re a man of extremes.
Mark: Anyway, that’s who we are.
Chris Butler: Yeah, wow. That’s intense. I don’t even know what to do with that.
Lauren McGaha: Can you introduce all of us next time?
Chris Butler: We often have an opportunity to talk to our clients about the structure of their business, and a lot of our clients recently had questions about productization, and specifically they describe services, and that can really be complicated, and making them more buyable. What does that mean? We talk about buyer conversions where somebody says, “Hey, I’m ready to do this.” But for them to take that step and understand what it is that they’re getting into, there is a lot of complexity there, and I think that it’s something that we haven’t often talked about at this table. We all agree that would be something we want to dive into a little bit.
Mark: Yeah. I think this concept, just to frame it a little bit, it’s the 202 level of position.
Chris Butler: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Mark: One on one level is, “Okay. We’re going to commit to this focus, and we’re going to be very public about that commitment, and we’re going to do a great job of taking on this kind of work.” After you do a fair amount of that work, you’ve gone through many rounds that you’ve worked with a bunch of clients, say a year or two into that, and you start to see those patterns. You see what it is that you do that is really necessary for the client, and then how you bring the most value, how you make the most impact.
In the early days of positioning, clients are coming to you, and they’re dictating the terms because they think they know what is best. They think, “We need this, we need that, and we need that.” And you say, “Okay. Yeah. You’re in the right category, you have the right general needs. We’ll take you on, and we’ll let you dictate what it is that we do.” But what you find is that you start to see what the clients actually are good at, and aren’t good at, and most probably what their blind spots are, and you start to build to dictate to them, “What you really need is this, and here’s why.”
When it’s coming from a place of expertise, the client sees right away that they’re not trying to upsell me here, or just boss me around. They actually understand this because they’re these experts, they’ve been through it, and the evidence they just ave me of why they’re speaking to the truth. “I know that truth in my heart. I wasn’t able to articulate it.” This is all the client saying this. But that’s the real deal. When you get to that level, when you’re starting to see, “Okay. This is the problem we solve, and this is how we do it, and it works great, and you’ve had success repeatedly with it.”
That’s when you can productize it. This is the blank method, and it goes through these steps, it takes this long, with these pricing, and is a buyable product. You can outline it on the site. You don’t need to put a set price on it, but you probably put at least a price range or pricing tiers on it, and that becomes something that they can discover in the different stages of the buying cycle like they’ll see it early on in the researcher stage. They’ll look a little bit more closely at the buyer stage, and even the very first time they see it that pricing starts to train them as to, “Okay. I need to save this. I need to kind of budget to get the job done the right way,” and that influences budgets they make without ever having spoken with you.
But when they show up, “Okay yeah. We think we need that thing because we are definitely guilty of all these things that you talk about in your content,” and that’s when it’s something that really works well for the expert agency.
Lauren McGaha: Yeah. I think it does protect the agency to a certain extent too, because what we’re not talking about is listing a giant list of all of the services that you could possibly do on the site. That’s not productization. When these potential prospects come to the site, and they say, “Oh I need a logo,” or, “I need a new email template.” That’s just cherry picking from what they think that you can do. But if you are grouping those types of services and others in a language that speaks to the problem of the prospect, then you’re putting yourself, positioning yourself in a position of power, and a position to really be able to communicate to them the level of your expertise beyond these discreet little service tactics that you can do.
Chris Butler: That’s certainly something we’ve talked about a lot in terms of moving away from process oriented descriptions of what it is that you’re offering your prospects or your clients, and moving a little bit more towards things that are discipline oriented or solutions oriented. But Mark, a moment ago when you were rattling through a bunch of different qualifications, and what I’d love to explore a little bit is, is there a meaningful difference between productization, and making your services more buyable? I think that there probably is.
You were mentioning that when it comes to productization there are some distinctions that could play a role. Names, getting into timing, getting into pricing, that kind of thing. I’d love to hear from both of you to talk a little bit more about when you have conversations with prospects because you all spend the majority of the time in our firm doing sales, new business development. What do you find yourself repeating in that regard? What does make sense in terms of a definition? And someone is listening now are saying, “Okay. I think I understand what you’re talking about, productization.” But what really are the components?
Mark: Actually, I’d like to get back to the beginning.
Chris Butler: Okay.
Mark: Yeah. An outline based on our journey, which a lot of our listeners are familiar with. This start of the productization idea, and your core question is being highly buyable, and productizing. Are they the same or different? I’m not sure. Maybe this explanation will get to the answer.
Chris Butler: Yeah.
Mark: But this idea was brought to me initially as far as I can recall through coach. Strategic coach. That program that I did for three years, which I really enjoyed. And it was one of the key takeaways I felt that we got from that program. We’re just saying that we got quite a few takeaways, and this was in year two of the program, and they talk about this about packaging your services in a value proposition way, and they actually had different words you could use, and you had a list to take from. I didn’t use any of those words, but it was a good primer.
Chris Butler: What kinds of words entail?
Mark: Solution, advantage, those types of things. You would see sometimes Sam’s Club ads, and things like that. And with the coach program, I loved it. There’s a little bit of that stuff in there, but when you just don’t worry about the specifics of it, and just look at what they’re really saying. There’s amazing value. We came back and said, “Okay. What is this thing?” And we came up with the idea, “We do these six things.” We start with where they are with their positioning, and often times I’ve worked with our consultant friends on that, and then we know they need the context strategy, they need the content strategy, they need the website, the automation system, the CRM, and we were talking about all those things in a disjointed way. You need all this stuff, but we’re putting all together under the new fangled marketing method.
“It looks like this, and the model is this, and the program is this.” And we had basically three different products that we created, and it was easy because we’re already doing it. We didn’t have to change anything about what we’re doing, we just change the way we really thought of it, and the way we collected it.
Lauren McGaha: Can I underscore that for a moment? That’s an important distinction, but we’re not talking about what productization is that you go create something new. We’re talking about a system for packaging up what you already do, in a way that’s more palatable to the prospect.
Mark: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Chris Butler: It seems interesting to me when I think our past as well as some of clientele that when you’re really good at what you do, I think your tendency is to be pretty pedagogical in the way that you explain it to your prospects. It’s this, this, this, and this. They’re all related in this way, and we do it this step, this step, this step. It becomes really complicated. There’s both these pedagogy of it, how things relate, and then there’s the process. You feel that’s all necessary to understand to buy it, which is a completely different perspective than what you’re describing, which is by packaging it, it speaks to the need.
It’s like, “I need this thing. Am I going to get it by buying this?.”
Chris Butler: And you might end up leaving some detail out because sometimes that detail doesn’t actually create value for the buyer at the time.
Mark: We go through many stages of that. Many, many, many stages of that. In fact, in terms of new fangled personal journey just in the past 24 hours, the three of us have all looked a new system for explaining what we do. That just happened on a call, and you’re like, “Oh, this way of explaining it really makes a lot of sense, and visually it makes more sense in maybe this way.” It’s constantly evolving in baby steps. This new iteration that we’re going to start showing to people probably in a website in months, but will show up in our very next sales meeting, which is how it goes.
That is only incrementally different from what’s currently on our website, but it’s meaningfully different, and you take four of those incremental steps, and you end up with a completely different thing. You look at what we are offering today, and how we’re describing it, and how we were doing it three years ago it’s night and day. But one last point is one thing about that. The effect we’ve seen is people getting in touch saying, “We need the new fangled marketing method.” And they’re talking about that as a product, and they kind of get what that product means
That’s been massive. That’s a really big deal. We’ve never had that before.
Chris Butler: I’m hearing a few things. Number one, to underscore what Lauren said before, if you’re listening and you’re wondering, “Okay. What does productization mean to me?” It doesn’t necessarily mean recreating what it is that you do. It might mean reframing what it is that you do to better align with the perception, the prospects have of what they need. Not in a menu way, like you were saying Lauren, but one way that you might realize that you’ve done it well is to your point Mark, when somebody is able to read that on your website for instance, and then they call you and name it.
But they call it by name because the reason they’re able to do that is because they’ve understood what that thing is. Or at least to the extent that it scratches the itch that they have.
Mark: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Chris Butler: They may not actually understand how it’s done, but they just know what it is enough to know that I want it.
Lauren McGaha: And that’s a challenging exercise to go through if you’re the firm trying to figure that out because it forces you to leave out some detail, and elevate what’s going to be most important, and what’s actually speaking to the prospects’ problem, which is a really worthwhile exercise to go through anyway.
Mark: Mm-hmm (affirmative). And what we’ve seen from the sales perspective as you go through it, these programs become very complex. We work with these clients, we’re meeting with them once or twice every single week for an entire year to affect the change that needs to be had. To transform the way they actually market, and sell themselves. We distill that down in the sales process to a single half-hour conversation, and a single one-hour web meeting, and I template the contract that we spend all five minutes on actually.
Chris Butler: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Mark: That’s the entire sales process to describe what happens, meaning once a week, 52 weeks there’s a ton that’s left out. There’s a ton that’s left out. But if you try to cover it all, it would be meaningless.
Lauren McGaha: It would be a mess.
Mark: They would be deaf to it after an hour.
Lauren McGaha: Yeah.
Chris Butler: I can imagine that somebody listening, who runs an organization or helps run an organization that is
Chris Butler: Runs an organization or helps run an organization that is offering a fairly complicated service. Maybe it’s partly strategic, has a lot of documentation components, maybe even technological components. They might be thinking, well if I leave some detail out, what I’d be worried about is that a client buys and then three months into it, there’s a misunderstanding of what they bought. Then it becomes uncomfortable. One thing I would say in a [inaudible 00:11:24], I’m curious if you guys would affirm this, I think you would, is that back in the day for us, when were highly driven to communicate every bit of complexity prior to the sale, the incidence of the client coming up later and saying, “Hey, I was promised this and I’m not getting it,” was 10 times higher than it is today when we communicate maybe ten times less information.
Mark: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Chris Butler: I think the reason why is because at the beginning, we would inundate them with detail because we thought that was necessary and that can be compelling in the moment, but it’s so overwhelming that it can create the wrong impression in many, many ways. Whereas now, and what it leaves out is what somebody actually desperately needs and wants. Whatever their emotional drive is, what they think is going to be the future state that they get to, because we wouldn’t really talk about that. We talk so heavily process. Now, we talk about the future state almost exclusively. I can’t remember the last time we had a client say, “Hey, I bought this and I’m not getting it.”
Mark: Right, that’s true. That’s changed dramatically and I think what ends up happening is as you do, and again, the evolution positioning as you do commit to a certain category of expertise in you do more and more work in that sector and you truly development a very, very, very deep, finely honed expertise and just really basically know what you’re doing. Then you’re more comfortable to just sell the outcome. Sell the outcome. Why does someone hire us? Because they need better opportunity to close. We tell them we’re going to get you better opportunity to close and here’s how we’re going to do it. They believe us, and they believe us because we offer lots of proof and we understand the salient points.
Say you go to a doctor and say, “Okay, I need heart surgery. I need my heart to beat better. My heart’s not beating quite right, doc.” You know something’s weird, you’re short of breath, you’re getting faint. You go to the doctor, okay, the doctor says you’ve got these heart problems, I’m going to fix it. We’re going to do this thing. They don’t give you a play by play of every single thing to do and what the precept is and what the recovery’s going to look like. They don’t give you a whole document that does all that. They tell you we’re going to fix this.
Chris Butler: That’s an amazing analogy because what I was about to ask you was, it sounds like another way of expressing this would be to say that a better sales technique is to describe the problem then to describe the solution. In the sense that if you accurately describe what it is that the prospect needs, which is indicative of a problem that they identified that they had. That that’s going to be much more compelling than describing the actual solution itself.
Mark: Right, yes.
Chris Butler: For instance, if the doctor said, “Well first what we’re going to do is we’re going to anesthetize you and then we’re going to draw a picture on your chest to where to cut it open and then we’re going to cut it open and we’re going to spread your ribcage.” You don’t need all that and in fact you probably don’t want that detail.
Chris Butler: Maybe you don’t, but what you really want is the doctor to say, “Here’s what’s wrong with you. This is why you’re having chest pains. This is why this is happening and we’re going to fix it.”
Lauren McGaha: It’s the same concept that I coach clients all the time on with regard to writing better content for their content plan. Developing messaging that’s empathetic and really focused on how that prospect understands their problem and writing in a really clear empathetic way, writing to those symptoms, rather than saying, “Oh, I’ve got this great solution for you.” When it comes to figuring out how to productize, how to go about this process of creating these products, you really have to think first about those pain points, just like you would in your thought leadership and the insert that you’re putting on your site.”
Mark: Yeah. When you first said, solution, I misunderstood and I didn’t agree because I misunderstood but we’ve got the client problem, our solution and the client outcome. Yeah, drop the solution, it’s all problem and outcome.
Lauren McGaha: Yes.
Mark: It’s those two things.
Chris Butler: Right, [inaudible 00:15:01]. Yeah, it’s an amazing thing. Let me ask one other way of looking at this productization thing because I could imagine that, again, the listener is still maybe a little bit like, “Okay, with how do I know that it’s productized?” So far we’ve talked about, it’s a qualitative difference between … sometimes it might involve describing process but it shouldn’t just be that. Sometimes it might involve, describing [inaudible 00:15:23] but it’s really more about what you’re saying, understanding the nature of the need. But something you said earlier struck me as interesting, I know we could say this, I don’t know if it would be true globally, could you also say that it’s not a product if you’re not able to measure its success?
Mark: That makes sense.
Chris Butler: Especially when it comes to professional services, not just in the agency world, but generally if we can get you into the process, then we’ve won the sale. If we can start doing things for you. That it’s often at the expense of being able to say, well actually we can prove that this is going to move the needle in some way. When you Mark, we’re listing out, well these are all the things that our clients need and they happen to correspond with what we do, sort of discipline-wise. We also have unique ways of measuring the success of each one of those things and that hold us accountable.
Mark: Right, right, also part of what’s true there is what they need happens to be what we do. Well, what we do happens to be what they need. We’ve changed tremendously over the past three years in response to what we’ve realized they actually need and what we’re best equipped to do. That’s a big part of positioning too, Lauren mentioned we’re not asking you to change anything and that is and is not true. We both have changed and have not changed. When we productized what we were doing, we did not change, we’re just documenting the truth.
Lauren McGaha: Right, that was my point, that if you’re looking to get into productization it doesn’t mean that you need to reinvent some part of your business.
Mark: Right, but the other side of that is we’re all, always reinventing our businesses in response to what we see the clients need and what happens to work in these domains today. That’s a critical part of this, the fact that we’re actively involved in sculpting our business in response to what is actually effective, based on looking at the results as you’re talking about, the actual true outcomes. Another thing to mention about what this is not, every agency has their four step thing, those concentric circles.
Lauren McGaha: Yeah, which is typically processed based.
Mark: Four P’s, whatever it might be. They’ve all got that and this is the opposite of that. That’s not a product, a step by step process, frame one.
Chris Butler: David Baker has said this at length, most proprietary processes are not proprietary, just because you’ve put a TM next to it and given it a funky name, doesn’t actually make it proprietary because it’s actually just renaming something that is a matter of course, expected or what everyone else does anyway. So that makes perfect sense because in describing the product, you may not actually describe at all how those things are connected or the experience the client has in going through them, the process or what was required because that might not be relevant at that point.
I want to ask about actually something else that I think about a lot when we have these conversations, I think about the challenger sale concept and I’ve always thought of that in light of a conversation you might have with somebody, so someone says, “Well, I need XY and Z,” and the basic idea is you say, “Well actually, you don’t need those things. What you need is this.”
Lauren McGaha: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Mark: Yes, yes.
Chris Butler: This might encompass those things. It occurs to me that productization, in so far as it’s not just a sales concept but a marketing one because can you describe the stuff on your website or in whatever materials you’re going to put out there, that are there when you’re not there? That kind of softens this challenger sale thing in the sense that you are doing challenger sale material but you’re doing it proactively and more subtly, in the sense that I know that I advise a lot of our clients who are breaking down their offering into discrete pages on their site. That’s advantageous because one of those discrete pages may line up directly with what your prospect thinks they need, but when they come to your site looking for that thing and realize that oh, it’s a piece of this overall puzzle, you are then starting to reframe their expectations and challenge that sale before it even becomes a sale. You know what I’m saying?
Mark: That’s the thing. I think the flip of the challenger sale, and just to reiterate basically what you just said, in case anyone’s not entirely clear on it, there’s a book called the Challenger Sale and it’s about that. They did the study and there are different sales personas. There’s the lone wolf who just does it, there’s the worker bee who just is relentless and then there’s the consensus builder, then there’s the bargainer who just gives everything away. They’re different sorts of sales modalities and then one of them is this challenger. They found, over a study of like 30 years, all these books obviously have tons of data somehow, that the challenger in good economic times and bad economic times, no matter what, just always had the best results. The challenger reframes the customer’s understanding of what they’re buying, so that’s the thing.
Like you said, Chris, they think they’re buying this but they’re actually buying this and that is so at play in all this. The difference is time. It’s happening, but when most people think of it, they think about that crucial conversation when the prospect calls and they say, “We need a website.” “No, you don’t need a website, you need …” Then it’s all this. But it’s not that. That challenger sale flip starts the very first article they read and ends when it’s on a contract. That could be days, weeks, months or years between those things.
Chris Butler: Which means that the challenger sale concept is not just a sales concept.
Lauren McGaha: No, it’s a marketing concept and again, I think it maps back to how to think about your content strategy as a whole. The way that you’re communicating the value of your business harkens back to the empathy that you can display with regard to the prospect’s pain points. If you can be really empathetic and really clear that you understand what they’re going through and you have an expertise that’s going to relate to what they do and you take that philosophy and apply it to how you’re articulating your expertise on your site, that’s the ideal way approach this.
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Chris Butler: I want to wrap up by asking you guys to answer a question independently, each of you to answer a question. I don’t know anyone who’s logged as many actual miles in phone time with prospects than you, it’s basically got to be-
Chris Butler: … prospects than you do. Basically got to be thousands and thousands. What I want to know is imagine the person listening. They’re getting this concept and it’s probably going to start to change how they speak to prospects right off the bat, hopefully. What have you noticed confuses prospects the most when you talk to them? How has that changed the kinds of things that you say to them? Obviously trying to divorce that from specific products that we talk about in our context, but just generally speaking. You’re on the phone with a prospect, what are the kinds of things that you have changed in your own interactions with them because you’ve encountered confusion or something where you thought you were being clear and they didn’t get it? That’s usually the biggest obstruction in sales is you think you’re speaking clearly and they don’t get it.
Lauren McGaha: I’ve observed firms getting lost in their own weeds. They really struggle with letting go of the detail of what they do day-to-day because they’re steeped in this perspective that the more detail they provide about every single discreet service that they do, and to them it’s really nuanced and complicated and it bleeds into certain areas so it’d be really impossible to figure out how to pull back and separate that out into discreet buckets that are easily communicable. That seems to be a … Then adding pricing on top of that. For one, how do I articulate what we would call “products” and how do we apply pricing to it when everything is so detailed and interconnected.
Chris Butler: Does that mean then when you’re speaking with a prospect things get confused because they think that they need to get into that level of detail with you at that stage?
Lauren McGaha: Yeah, I think it feels risky not to include all of the possible scenarios or all of the possible services that could come up because they feel like if it’s not specifically articulated in some way then their prospect is going to assume that they just don’t do it, or that maybe they’re not considering it. How do you strike that balance?
Chris Butler: I can see how that could really end up burning a bunch of time, especially if you’re trying to get them to understand what the perspective is that you’re trying to get them into.
Lauren McGaha: I think what it means is that the firm is focusing more on what the firm wants to sell and focusing more on looking at it from their perspective again rather than how can we best help these prospects. What are the trends and the themes that are emerging during our sales conversations that we observe that we know we can speak to and that our expertise can help, and then designing a way to package up what they do to really resonate with those prospects rather than just the laundry list of things that they could possible do.
Chris Butler: Mark, you mentioned earlier that just today we were looking at something that’s going to be influential in sales conversations that you had sort of restructured and rethought based on your own experiences with clients and what they get, what they’re not getting. Again, let me reiterate the question. You’ve spent a lot of time with prospects and sometimes the change is as specific as that, like okay I need to change the way that we actually show this or explain it. Are there other things that someone listening now who spends time selling to prospects? What have you learned in terms of that, getting clarity with the client faster, the prospect faster? Is it just a matter of articulating products verbally or are there other things that they could think about?
Mark: Getting clarity? I think this goes back to how our sales processes change, what I mentioned earlier, half hour conversation and one hour [inaudible 00:25:23], then a very straightforward contracts. That’s a template that barely every changes, right?
Lauren McGaha: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Mark: As we’ve simplified that process our closed rate has skyrocketed. We used to [inaudible 00:25:37], going back 10 years ago, I remember we would walk through every feature in the CMS.
Chris Butler: Oh my gosh [crosstalk 00:25:43].
Mark: I remember with Eric Holter going to my very first meetings in Boston. It was Justin Kennard of Kennard Design and the first I did a presentation. It was 2001. It was a play by play. That’s what it had to be because then the technology like, “What is this [contom 00:25:57] management thing? It’s amazing. You could actually do that change?” Then you’re like … That’s what they were buying and so you had to be that way.
Now people understand, especially our audience are typically very marketing savvy so they get these concepts of what a content strategy is and what automation is and what the website it. They understand that stuff. They just don’t understand why it hasn’t been working for them.
What we’ve changed and what’s become, it’s been a way more enjoyable for us too, is chainless scope of the conversation. They’re calling because one of two reasons. They’ve got a problem, a business development problem. They’re concerned about their pipeline, or they’ve got an opportunity. They’re really excited what they’re doing now and they want to expand it. It’s one of those two things.
In both cases, though, typically they’re thinking in the immediate sense. On my very first call with them I immediately take it to the biggest picture I can. What’s actually happening in this business? Where are you coming from, where you’re going to, why you’re going there? Are you sure you’re going there? Have you actually asked yourself that question? Taking it way outside of the immediate marketing context and getting it into the overall business landscape allows them to really understand the role of marketing.
In order to get to their questions and answer the questions, which we do, we need to first sort of reset their lens in terms of how wide they’re thinking about this problem. That’s been really, really, really helpful. We had a prospect say it this week, like we were calling about marketing but now we’re talking about revenue and profit per client and engagement. We had to talk about all of that stuff because what needle we’re trying to move and why, shouldn’t that needle even be moved? You just drop it and let it lie on the ground and rot. All the times that’s the real answer.
I think [inaudible 00:27:39] prospects confused about what they need, and that gets back to the very first point we made in this podcast, which is how much is the prospect guiding the conversation? They’re showing up for problem X but is problem X really the problem that needs to be solved? Oftentimes it’s a portion of it. It’s an indicator of it, but it’s not it.
Chris Butler: It also sounds like you’re saying, and this is maybe something we can talk about another episode, that the best one thing that’s really supporting your ability to sell these things or to build a compelling relationships in that context, is to know with a certain level of expertise a lot more than what it is you’re selling in the sense that if you really want them to … We sell marketing consultation and a bit of technology. In order for you to do that effectively you actually have to know quite a bit about how to effectively manage the business around that so that you can help them zoom out and understand actually what you’re buying is something that’s going to have a direct systemic effect on all of these other things. In fact, those are the measurables.
That’s an interesting concept that ancillary knowledge, ancillary expertise is critical.
Mark: A tip of the iceberg thing.
Chris Butler: It’s critical to your ability to sell the thing that you might have finally tuned over decades from a positioning standpoint.
Mark: That’s so true.
Chris Butler: That’s pretty fascinating. I like that idea.
Mark: It makes it way more interesting too. It does, it’s definitely a challenge or move, but it’s not like a move I’m employing. It’s like that’s a conversation I want to have. That’s way more interesting to me. I want to know how does your business run? What’s the reality? What’s happening? It’s more fun. It’s more exciting and it completely changes their mindset.
Chris Butler: I imagine that both you would also say it’s a great way to get to know that person.
Lauren McGaha: Definitely.
Chris Butler: Because if you don’t get into that then there’s a whole lot less that you’re going to see of that person. You start to get into the stuff that they know a lot about that they’re swimming in daily all the time, you’re going to learn a lot about them. For the kind of work we do building intimacy fast is necessary in order to understand is this a good fit. Is this relationship good?
Mark: Absolutely. It makes it way more rewarding too. Talking about that, it’s an hour and a half roughly of time speaking with the individual or the group usually. Ideally they’re doing at least half the talking and so it’s less instead of 90 minutes it’s 45 minutes of us actually saying something, which is kind of amazing. Not amazing, wow, [inaudible 00:29:52] does that but his amazing concept like, “Gosh, that’s not much time.”
Chris Butler: Right, that means it’s a sales experience is in a presentation so much as it’s a conversation, if not kind of like therapy, like listening and being able to …
Mark: Oh yeah, 100%.
Lauren McGaha: [crosstalk 00:30:06].
Mark: To look at how we’ve changed even in the past three years while we’ve been on this clear focus that we have now, all we’ve done is taken things out. That’s all we’ve done in the past three years is take things out.
Lauren McGaha: That’s true.
Chris Butler: What does that relate to on the content strategy side? Being a good editor. I mean being a good editor as a global concept is really essential. We talked in the last episode about our goal on the design side is to really help our clients do the most accurate representation of their expertise. If you zoom into your new business conversations the job is to extract the truth from them, to draw out the truth from them in that conversation. How do you do that?
Mark: Despite the client’s best efforts?
Chris Butler: Right.
Mark: They oftentimes don’t know the truth themselves and that’s what they’re looking for is what’s going on here.
Chris Butler: They’re on guard because they know it’s a sales conversation.
Mark: Sure, right, but that approach does really disarm everybody.
Chris Butler: That’s really interesting. There’s so much more here that we could probably talk about at length. The productization concept is something I think we should explore a little bit more. Drawing some parallels into content strategy would make sense. How does that apply to things that you talk a lot about, like message area focus, thinking about service pages on websites. We’ve talked a little bit about that. We could probably run with this theme a little bit more.
Mark: That’s true.
Chris Butler: If you’re interested and you’re listening let us know and otherwise we’ll see you next time.