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Marketing Plus Sales Equals the Right Message


Chris Butler: Welcome to The Agency Marketing Matters podcast. I’m Chris Butler.

Lauren Siler: I’m Lauren Siler.

Mark O’Brien: And I’m Mark O’Brien.

Chris Butler: This is episode eight of season two, not that that matters. We’re getting together to talk about digital marketing topics, and things that we find interesting. Hopefully, point you in the direction of some good content to follow up with after this. Let’s start with what we’re excited about, what we’re finding interesting right now. I think we’re all going to talk about the same thing. So, Mark, what do you got?

Mark O’Brien: I’m excited about your shirt.

Chris Butler: Oh, really?

Mark O’Brien: Yeah. It looks really good.

Chris Butler: You have complimented this shirt three times.

Mark O’Brien: I was wondering if that was the same one that I keep complimenting.

Lauren Siler: Yeah. Are you serious?

Mark O’Brien: I’m serious. Chris looks really great right now.

Chris Butler: Yeah, he’s-

Lauren Siler: It’s a fine shirt but-

Chris Butler: It’s a fine, plain black, button down-

Mark O’Brien: You just look really good in it.

Chris Butler: Shirt from Tailor Switch, this company in-

Mark O’Brien: Taylor Swift?

Chris Butler: Tailor Switch. He is Tailor Switch.

Lauren Siler: Please tell me this comes from a company called Taylor Swift.

Chris Butler: It’s close to that. I think it’s Tailor Stitch.

Mark O’Brien: I wonder if they copyright it. Tailor Stitch, ah.

Chris Butler: Tailor Stitch. That would make sense. Yeah, so Tailor Stitch. You can tell I know a lot about my clothes.

Mark O’Brien: It just suits you well.

Chris Butler: It does fit.

Mark O’Brien: I don’t know enough about style to say why, just …

Chris Butler: It’s fitted.

Mark O’Brien: The color works well. Anyway. Of course you wear black and gray every single day.

Chris Butler: Well, it’s black. All of my clothes are a black or gray, yeah. What are you actually excited about?

Mark O’Brien: We’re all excited about what we did yesterday, which was, we did a volunteer day for Habitat For Humanity. The whole company went to a house which is two blocks behind our office, which was really exciting. We all walked to this job site and spent the day building a house, in part. We didn’t build the entire house from start to finish in one day, but we did a lot of work. In fact, we did so much work that the foreman had to stop about an hour and a half early because he needed to have enough left to do for the next crew who was coming today. What we had done is we nominated … We asked everybody in the company nominate something to do for volunteer day. Different people suited to different things, it was pretty wide range.

And after a few rounds of voting, including a couple ties, and tiebreakers. We settled on this, so it barely won. Which is scary to think of, that it barely won, because I was looking forward to it, but as soon as we got on the site it was clear this was going to be an amazing day. And it was an amazing day.

The thing that I took away from it that just felt so, so good was was that we build virtual things, we can sell and develop virtual ideas, even when we do build a website, which is the most concrete thing we do … 35 years, and it’s going to be rebuilt entirely. And there’s no real archive of it, except for the Wayback Machine, but it’s not a very good archive. So to actually put boards up, put a roof on, to swing a hammer … use a skill saw, all of that stuff.

And for everybody to do it, for all of us to interact in that way. Where none of were the bosses, it was very flat because the people who knew what they were doing were the bosses and they were amazing at it. Habitat, kudos to them for being such an incredible organization. It was shocking. 16 people show up, none of whom had really any background in this at all, and for all of us to be busy and really quite productive the whole day. They were organized. All the tools, all the supplies, all the everything. And enough people on site- enough pros on site, to actually guide all of us. And they were so patient .. I mean I’m just amazed at how great of an organization it is, and how much fun we had. And from my perspective at least, this is gonna be part of the culture … excuse me- moving forward. It was just really, really fun.

Lauren Siler: Yeah, I would echo the sentiment that I think most of us were really looking forward to it but then pleasantly surprised, once we got into it, of just how much fun it was to collaborate with each other in an entirely different kind of way. And we’re a small company, we’re a close knit group, but we do have our little pockets … I tend to work with these set of people, and you tend to work with these group of people, in most cases.

And it was nice, to break out side of that and just be with the whole company the whole day. Doing something that we all felt really amazing about. Yeah. It was wonderful. Everything you said.

Mark O’Brien: And if you want to see photos about it, that’s on our Facebook page. There’s a whole album of photos now. That I took on my awesome iPhone 7 plus.

Chris Butler: Yeah.

Lauren Siler: He’s so in love with that phone.

Mark O’Brien: It takes the best pictures.

Chris Butler: For a phone.

Mark O’Brien: I’ve had lots of decent cameras, one thousand jillion dollar cameras, that are the same. It’s as good as that level of a camera. Which is kind of ridiculous.

Chris Butler: Yeah, it’s going in the direction where you won’t buy that Sony A7 anymore.

Mark O’Brien: Right. It’s not perfect, but … So check out the photos on Facebook.

Chris Butler: Yeah. We had all had in mind to talk about the Habitat experience, and I’ll admit, when we arrived I was a little intimidated, because I didn’t know what we were going to be doing, and I was looking at this house, and I was thinking, “Okay, all of us our green, as can be. There’s no way that there gonna have us.”

Get up on the roof and start building the roof … or, use a saw, or haul a bunch of things around. I just thought we’d be doing clean up and grunt work. And as Mark mentioned, the guys who were working on the crew, gave us like the most minimum viable instruction, but it was all we needed. The next thing we knew, I looked around and we had people building a roof.

Mark O’Brien: Yeah, perhaps the whole company was on a roof, it was a scary idea.

Chris Butler: It was amazing. The other thing … was interesting is I got up on the roof, and I was a little nervous about being up there and falling off. I didn’t want to be the guy to fall off the roof.

But I eventually got really comfortable there. And at the end, we were really in the zone because Eric, one of our strategists, and I and Chris Abernathy, one of our developers, were basically being handed these eighty to a hundred pound packs of-

Mark O’Brien: Shingles

Chris Butler: Of roof shingles, and carrying them up to the peak of the roof and laying them down. And I was thinking to myself, “I don’t know if I’m gonna go to the gym after this, this has been a nice day.”

That was a heavy workout. There were probably like forty of those.

Lauren Siler: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Chris Butler: It was the grungiest labor we did, at the end of the day. But before that, some of us had done framing in the house, and actually figuring out roof angles, and using the saw to cut things. It was incredible. So I was amazed, by what we did, and as Mark mentioned, the amount we got done, blew me away. We’re obviously really good at learning things really fast.

Mark O’Brien: And while we’re doing that we’re actually building a house for somebody … at the end of the day.

Chris Butler: It’s true, the sense of craft is something that I think a lot of us care about, and we try and find it in every way that we can when we’re working with this sort of incorporeal industry in which we work.

Mark O’Brien: It’s hard.

Chris Butler: But there’s nothing like going home and having blisters on your hands ’cause you were using them all day.

Lauren Siler: So true.

Chris Butler: Which is cool. In any case, they have nailed down the market for helping people get homes. I guess they’re probably the only people that really do it in the way that they do it. So they’re positioning’s clear. I was thinking about it. It’s hard enough to have a clear positioning. Thankfully there are people out there like David Baker who do this and help other companies figure out where they should be in the market.

But the other hard thing is how you actually articulate that, and who you talk to, and how that influences your marketing. The piece that we get involved in with our clients is that how it influences the marketing piece. We’ve talked about that so much and especially right now, our resonant theme is integrating marketing and sales. Something that comes up a lot in the audits that I do for our agencies when we’ve begin working with them. Is this little Venn diagram that I put together on the fly. I didn’t think it would be something I used every single time.

I put it together to help out clients understand how to think about their existing work, their existing clientele, and identify where they should start in terms of … Who’s the ideal client? Where are we working best? And how should that influence our marketing from this point forward?

And the Venn diagram is really simple, it’s the overlap of profit, impact, and pleasure. Right? Where have they made the most money? Where have they had the greatest impact on their clients, and where have they as an organization enjoyed the work the most? Where everyone feels like, “This is what I should be doing. What I do well, what I enjoy doing, is having an influence on this client.”

It’s that unique ability. What I say in the slide in the deck anyway, is that Venn diagram, that nexus … it illuminates the agency’s unique ability, and from that you should be able to extrapolate all kinds of things about marketing, right? The ultimate point, at least for the point of this podcast is, you can’t do that without having sales people contribute to the conversation. Right? And typically we’re talking to people in the marketing space.

Sometimes with the small agencies, if they’re like us, there’s integration, maybe within a certain person or a role, but it’s typical that they haven’t thought about it that way.

Lauren Siler: Why do you think that is?

Chris Butler: I want to pass the buck to Mark on that one. ‘Cause he’s spent way more time doing sales than me.

Mark O’Brien: I think it’s that traditional issue of not exploring what your own freedom. That I keep talking about again and again. The entrepreneurs dilemma where they start with a vision, that have all the freedom in the world, and that fuels them to go ahead and create a business. But then, once they have employees and payroll and desks and all the stuff, they become very safe.

I was speaking with David Baker, earlier. It was last week. And he was speaking with a pretty well known author … about the nature of entrepreneurism and the guy said, “I haven’t started anything in the past five years, so I’m not longer an entrepreneur.”

Which was really interesting. He put like a shelf-life on it. He hadn’t taken any big risks in five years. So his entrepreneur status had expired, in his view. It’s a really cool way of looking at it.

Yeah. I liked hearing that. And that’s very honest, and I think it makes sense. It checks out as true for me, but I think people stop thinking about what they want. Right? They just accept what is.

Yeah, I think that’s a big part of it.

Chris Butler: Yeah that certainly is, and it’s funny because I listen them like, “How could that possible be true?” If you’re running a business, the necessity of change is so active and constant. I’m sure there’s some businesses out there that haven’t changed that much, but it just seems necessary.

From that, it seems if I’m going to navigate this change properly there are a lot of people I need to talk to besides myself to get that done. When we have the conversation around that Venn diagram … the ultimate point is, I’m saying, I need you to talk to some people. Who are actually talking to these clients. Who actually were responsible for bringing these clients in to the fold. Who have checked in with them. Who understand what they want. Did they get what they needed?

You know, we’re thinking in the marketing space about how to communicate the value of the thing that we’re selling to the outside world. But the sales people actually are there when those words land. They are there to hear the words that the customer is using to describe the same thing, and to figure out, are they the same words. That’s the other piece of the message, and I say it over and over again. Are you using the same words to describe the problem, that your clients are using? Are you using the same words to describe yourself that your clients would use to search for you? On and on, but ultimately, talk to that person.

Bring them in.

Lauren Siler: Yeah. I think collaboration internally would facilitate this. I think it’s really easy to adopt tunnel vision from the top down, and then the other people inside of the firm adopt that as well. So it’s not just about the principal of the firm, thinking, “Okay, get out of your, your head and go talk to the other people, who are doing different facets of the job.”

But the people who are actually doing those facets of the job I think they can adopt a sense of tunnel vision as well, so they’re thinking about their little corner of the space and they’re not really going out and talking to the other individuals that they work with to put together a bigger picture that would enable a more strategic marketing strategy.

Mark O’Brien: Something you said earlier Chris, reminded me of something I think is key to this. And not quite to the exact point, but a little more of global theme. You had said, “I don’t understand how firms … can’t do this,” How they wouldn’t think this way?

We’ve got two constants as long as we’re alive we’ve got change, and us. Right? And it’s a question of what is that relationship? Does change happen to us? Or do we happen to change? Right? What goes on there?

And that one question gets to so much of this. And you go to every agency and ask them, or better yet observe how they’re functioning, and see what the truth is, but it’s the agencies who decide that they’re going to happen to change. It’s funny you could interpret that in a few different ways, that just one sentence.

They’re the one’s all this works for, because they are putting themselves in that position, of what is actually going on in the field? What are the sales people hearing? What’s the reality that we’re surrounded by? What selling, what’s not, and why? But it takes courage to look at those things, and to think that, “Oh, things might be different now.”

That’s very very hard to do. But then, if you are in that firm where they are inclined to attack change, and to instigate change, that’s when marketing is so … relevant and important because marketing is about taking control of your future. Right? But, it needs to be informed by sales.

This goes back to the last podcast we just did. The previous episode. Episode 8, was it? Or is this episode 9?

Chris Butler: This is episode 8.

Mark O’Brien: Okay so episode 8 then. See, that’s why it matters … episode 8 then, when you were talking about what Lauren and I see in these sales conversations and that’s always been my classroom. That’s always where I learned most. It’s a great way for me to learn. It just feels very real. We’re having these conversations with people all over the continent, all the time, just hearing their thoughts. In just their world. Seeing the patterns between their world and someone who’s three thousand miles away from them, seeing what’s going on similarly. Though they focus on different areas, and everything else. It might be a five person agency, and a three thousand person agency, and we’re talking about the same stuff.

Chris Butler: And we’re talking about bringing the sales perspective in so that marketing can be done properly. Right? So that the message can be in alignment with how the need is seen and described, but the same goes for the R&D that you might do, to get to the thing that you’re going to market. And I can think of numerous times, over our history, where you’ve had a conversation, Mark, or now Lauren you’re doing the same thing. Where you’re having these conversations with prospects, and then all of a sudden it’s like, “Oh, there’s a thing out there we need to be doing, or there’s a thing out there competing with us that we need to be aware of.” Or something like that.

So a better understanding of the competitive landscape, a better understanding of the clients understanding. Sometimes that competitive landscape is the thing that you already sell, that the client doesn’t quite understand. And you however are making that message forward when something else needs to move the message forward. And we’ve had that calibration many times. I just dropped my pen.

Sorry. You’ve been trying to say something, Lauren, go ahead.

Lauren Siler: I think that these types of conversations with the sales team … they are so often a catalyst for change inside of the organization, and it does keep the marketing- going back to the marketing side of this- it does keep the marketing well full. I work with agencies and a fear that they have around their marketing is the well’s just gonna dry up. They’re gonna run out of stuff to talk about. My response to them is, “That’s indicative of a bigger issue.”

It’s not that they don’t have the expertise, it’s that they’re not collaborating internally and they’re not reaching outside of their tunnel to go and figure out what they next big thing is.

Chris Butler: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

That’s a great point. In regard to the well, let’s dip in because we probably need to wrap the conversation and there’s things we want to share. Something that occurred to me in regard to this topic is that it’s very much like persona development. In that what we’re asking is for you to go and talk to somebody else. And get their understanding of the world, from their point of view and make sure that it influences yours. So go talk to the sales person if you’re marketing. And probably vice verse but it usually needs to go in that direction. When we first started learning about persona development which was probably six or seven years ago, maybe even longer. I remember being surprised that the main meat of it was, “Oh, we’re supposed to call up our customer’s and interview them,”

And I remember I did a round of that and it was so enlightening. And there’s a process for it, that we talked about. Mark you did a webinar about it. Persona Development Webinar. And around the same time I wrote an article called, “Your Website is Not For You.” That talked about developing personas.

This was developing rudimentary, really basic personas. It’s a lot different, Lauren, from what you’re guiding clients through now in terms of persona development of [inaudible 00:16:07]. Dip into that, and see how that influences this idea of talking to sales. That could be of interest.

Oh, and one other thing, sorry. I wanted to mention, we mentioned David Baker at the beginning of this podcast. David Baker, of has teamed up with Blair Enns of to create a podcast called “2 Bobs” and their podcast is all about positioning. And since we’re talking about how important positioning is to this stuff, I would really recommend that you check out their podcast so, the number 2, Bobs, B-O-B-S dot com.

Lauren Siler: Great. Yeah.

I am going to recommend something that I wrote back in 2014, that is called How to Know if Your Agency is Ready for Marketing Automation. It’s specific to this conversations because one element that I’m talking about there is sales/marketing alignment, and how to have these conversations with different areas of your firm in order to enable a smarter marketing automation strategy.

So we’re talking about content strategy a lot in this conversation, but this extends to other aspects of your entire marketing world. Yeah, check that out. I think that would be helpful to you.

Mark O’Brien: And I’d like to plug our most recent webinar, which is a webinar I did with Blair Enns, about the sales/marketing relationship. That’s really exciting because, because Win Without Pitching, his firm, is a sales consultancy for agencies and we’re a marketing consultancy for agencies. It’s just really fun to be able to speak with Blair about those topics, and debate some ideas, and to just really hash out what that relationship looks like. What the hand offs look like. And what sorts of marketing habits lead to good sales realities. So I would recommend that.

Chris Butler: Awesome. That’s a wrap. We’ll talk to y’all next time. Find us on iTunes or wherever it is you listen to podcasts. Spread the word, let people know about us. That would be really helpful. And we’ll hope to see you back for episode 9. Take care everyone.

Lauren Siler: Thanks.

Mark O’Brien: Bye.