There may come a time when the marketing strategies that worked for you no longer get the desired results. When this happens, it’s time to adapt.
James Schramko and Growth Labz’ Will Wang discuss what changes the current times call for, what adjustments they’ve made in their marketing approaches, and what the outcomes have been.
Podcast: Download (Duration: 25:16 — 23.3MB)
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In the podcast:
02:12 – What the numbers are saying
03:45 – Saved by a catamaran
06:09 – How conversion patterns have changed
07:29 – Think months, not weeks
09:03 – Different circumstances, different micro vision
10:28 – What’s working now and what’s not working
12:22 – Buffering the front end
13:25 – How retention is looking
14:40 – When the competition is struggling…
16:14 – Beware of being negative
19:26 – Show me the value
21:08 – What Growth Labz can do for you
22:26 – The overlying message
Keep your marketing timely and effective with help from James
James: James Schramko here. Welcome back to SuperFastBusiness.com. And this is Episode 744 of this particular podcast. That’s a great number, 744. It’s actually the color code for a type of silver you find on a Mercedes-Benz. And it’s emblazoned into my brain from my time running Mercedes-Benz dealerships. But aside from that, it’s also an episode where we’re talking about how to get sales and grow during changing times. So for that, I’ve brought along Will Wang, who’s running a good agency, putting up campaigns all the time, and has some market Intel for us. Welcome. Will,
Will: Thanks for having me back, James. And, yeah, I mean, it’s a good way to start a podcast, talking about Mercedes, so it’s going to be a good one.
James: All these codes, you know, they have, everything was part numbers, color codes, trim codes, and they mean something to me. It’s like a different language. And from 1997 to 2008, I went into the world of Mercedes-Benz codes. You could actually open the bonnet on the car or open a door and have a look at a little panel on that car, and it would have all these codes. And it could tell you everything you wanted to know. It was like a DNA for every option on the car, every color, etc.
So 744 it is. What we’re going to be talking about today on this episode, we’re going to talk about, what are the numbers telling us out there? What’s going on with the changing conversion, and how people are buying? And we’re going to talk about the messaging, what sort of messaging is effective at this time? And that’s basically the overview.
What the numbers are saying
So let’s start with the numbers. What are they telling us at the moment, based on what you’re seeing?
“Ad costs are way cheaper than they have been for the past few years.”
Will: Yeah, it’s really interesting times at the moment. We’re seeing, depending on the industry, depending on the campaigns that some of our clients are running, we’re actually seeing ad costs being way cheaper than they have for the past few years. On some accounts, we’ve got ad costs dropping between 40 to 60 percent. So it’s been, yeah, a really interesting time in terms of what businesses can really make the most out of the changes coming through.
James: Yeah, I’m seeing with my coaching students just massive successes. Almost, you don’t want to be one to gloat, and you also don’t want to be embarrassed, because it’s earned. But I feel like we’ve engineered a situation for my clients where they’re de-risked, and they’re in the right place at the right time with the right products. Like, they are literally having record months through April 2020. The bulk of my clients had a record month in SilverCircle, and it’s just testimony to a few things. One is, I tend to work with people who work with, well, they’re all online businesses, but a lot of them have online customers. So that’s been good. And most of them are educators or information product creators, or agencies. And within the agencies, like your agency, you’re going to have some clients doing extra well, some clients will drop off, and then the middle will be relatively unaffected. So it’s a matter of, I think, quickly recognizing who is going well and leaning into that. And you can get a lot more growth through that small part of your portfolio and attracting more like them than by worrying too much about how you’re going to deal with the ones that are withering off the vine. Because in some cases, there’s really nothing you can do for them, or not much you can do for them.
Saved by a catamaran
Will: Yeah. It’s actually, James, I know we start with the numbers, but I’d love to come in and tell a story if that’s okay. And it’s a very personal story for me and I think you’ll have a bit of a clue on, you know, what the story is. But this is kind of going back almost a year or just under a year from now. And we were sitting there together in the Maldives on the amazing mastermind trip. And I remember saying to you during that trip, okay with our cold email service, and what we do for our clients, it’s just going gangbusters. It’s going so well. I’m thinking about potentially dropping the other side of the business where we do the copywriting, we do the funnels, and we do some of the other marketing stuff that kind of, it works really well, but you know, I was really looking to only grow one side of the business. And I remember you turned around and said, Look, don’t do that. Because if you’re doing well in both areas, there’s potential to grow and there’s a way to do it really well and make sure that the growth is sustainable.
And coming back from that, I wasn’t quite sure, but just over the past few months, it’s really proven the idea that you’ve got to be prepared for changes in the future. So I think the reason why we’ve actually survived and done well at the past few months is actually coming from the one conversation, which I can trace back to the Maldives. So I just wanted to thank you as well for that, because that was an amazing business-changing, life-saving, I guess, transition that I went through personally.
James: Well, you know, I call that a catamaran theory. It’s having two hulls, and they’re pointing the same direction and they’re sharing the trampoline in the middle. So it’s a lot less effort than trying to have two boats. Like, it’s one boat, but you know, you get a hole in one side, you can still float and survive, and it’s aligned with the other business. Your cold business can be aligned and feed the agency side, and the agency side can feed the cold. So they work together well, like my SuperFastBusiness and SilverCircle programs, and my revenue share, I guess that’s a trimaran.
They’re all pointing in the same direction. There’s still business coaching, but under slightly different levels of access and different types of customers. And it’s also proven extraordinarily robust, you know, an all-weather business, so to speak. So what we’re seeing now is ad costs coming down. For some clients, that doesn’t matter, right? If they can’t sell whatever it is they’re selling, if there’s no one to buy it, or they can’t fulfill, like in the case, I’ve noticed some of the e-commerce stores that you know, they can’t get their stuff. But then on the other side of it, if you can fulfill, like the information marketers, like people I’m seeing in the music, education business, etc., and they have digital products, there’s no limit to what they can actually deliver. Technically, it’s just electrons. So they’re just going gangbusters. What can you see would be the fundamentals to take into account in this situation?
How conversion patterns have changed
Will: Yep. So we’ve seen a lot of clients have their ad constructed, but a certain portion of that, we’ve had to really adjust how we go into that conversation about conversion. Because just because it’s cheap to get in front of people, doesn’t necessarily mean people are still in the mood to buy. There’s been a few fundamental changes.
And with all this being said, when it comes to marketing, I always say test for yourself and measure for yourself, make sure it’s relevant to what you’re doing. Because just because it’s working for my clients and us doesn’t necessarily mean it’s right for the people listening. But what we’re seeing across the range is that a lot of the campaigns we’ve had before were driven towards converting in the front end. So whether it’s buying something and just paying for the shipping, or potentially even little campaigns where they buy the book and then there’s upsells to it, we’re seeing that the front end conversion piece actually dropped a little bit across the board.
What I take that to mean is that people, even though they’re more willing to look at things now, even though they’ve got more time to explore, even though there’s less competition, they’re getting a little bit savvier, a little bit more cautious in terms of buying. Now, I think part of that is because there’s a lot more uncertainty in the market, there’s a lot more fear in the market as well. From all the doom and gloom that mainstream media pumps into the market, I think people are a little bit more wary, but they are still looking for solutions. So it’s all about making the right changes and talking about the new objections and new features coming through. If you couple that with the drop in terms of ad spend, or in terms of the cost per ad, that’s going to get you a really good result and really good growth in this particular time.
Think months, not weeks
James:Right. So in terms of the way that conversions are happening, you’re seeing that some of it might sort of skip past that first phase from, you know, might be an opt-in instead of a purchase, and then it’s more into the conversation you’re having, the email nurture. Certainly, across some of my sample set, I’m seeing that to be the biggest win possible, is to have an extremely good email nurture sequence or conversation happening leading up to the sale event, whether it’s a telephone call or going to a particular cart. But it also means you need to have good tracking and data so that you can be comfortable carrying that cohort or that bunch of customers over an extra period. Instead of converting your ad campaign today or in a week, it might take 30 days. It might take 60 days.
And I thought it was insightful when I was having a chat to a previous guest, Anik Singal, and he said look, he tracks his in-cart, he tracks his 30 days, his 60 days, his 90 days. Sometimes you’ll be tempted to kill off a campaign too early. But the results will show that it actually really comes to bear fruit later down the track.
And what I’m hearing from you is that we need to change the conversation we’re having now and be more flexible in the timeframe we allow for a sale, because people are hanging on to their chestnuts. You know, they’re storing them for winter because they don’t know, there’s not absolute certainty that their business will be prosperous or that they’ll still have the same income streams that they have. Because as much as people on our Facebook feed seem to be, you know, brilliant economic forecasters, political advisors, there’s so many unknowns at this point.
Different circumstances, different micro vision
And whilst we will have seen the first wave of things that happen and the reactions to that, and we’ve had a chance to go through our grief cycle, and of course, depending where you are in the world, you’re going to be in a very different psycho state, right? You’ll be really badly affected if you’re in a hard hit area and you’ll be pretty positive and optimistic if you’re in a good area, namely New Zealand or Australia. I think they would have to be world-class economies at the moment, at time of recording, compared to other markets.
“Depending where you are in the world, you’re going to be in a very different psycho state.”
And then it also depends, you know, whether you’re jobless or whether your business is thriving. So you’re going to have this little bubble. And if there’s one thing we’ve learned from Cambridge Analytica is that we all have our own little micro vision of the world. And even you and I, Will, we’re a few suburbs apart right now, and we could have a very different take on the market, and our fear and our positivity could be quite different depending on the stimulus that we’re getting from our clients and from the place outside. I know it’s different for me. When I walk down for my daily surf and people are having coffee and going for walks in their joggers with their dog and, it’s just like life is normal. Whereas other people are just penned into their house and can’t move because of government regulations in different countries, etc. So I think this is really interesting. So what sort of strategies have you seen not be as effective? And what sort of things have you seen be effective?
What’s working now and what’s not working
Will: Yeah, so in terms of not as effective, again, it’s all about looking at the first conversion piece as the most important part of it. So again, going back to the example of free plus shipping funnels, funnels where they buy the book, and then it’s a whole bunch of upsells before you build the relationship. Those funnels have kind of stopped working quite as well, especially in the US. In Australia. It’s not too bad. In Australia and New Zealand, not too bad. In the US and other countries, it’s, you know, they’ve taken a pretty big hit.
The way that we’ve adapted or the way that some of our clients have just come through on record months, is changing the way that they structure the relationship building. So rather than coming through and trying to take as much money off the leads or the customers as soon as possible, they’ve now built in some redundancy and some time lag into that conversion piece.
But the thing is, and it’s really interesting when you look at data, they’re coming back to your point of, there’s so much noise being around and choosing who to listen to. One of the things I like doing is looking at data objectively and testing it objectively to really figure out, what are people doing and not just what they’re saying. And what we’ve seen across some data sets, is the fact that even though people aren’t as willing to spend small amounts upfront, they’re actually more willing to spend bigger amounts, if you can answer the fees, or if you can answer their objections. One of our clients has had three record months in a row where their sales team is just being hammered. And they’ve been having to buy a $5000 product that’s selling a lot better than a $250 product. And that’s because they’ve changed the conversation to address a new fee is coming to the market and make their solution sound like, you know, what everyone actually needs. So it’s actually been amazing to see that transition and to see them grow so rapidly during this time as well.
“People are definitely still buying.”
James: Right. So the message there is people are definitely still buying. I know one of my most successful clients has a product that’s around $3,000, and it’s just selling like crazy. Like, they can barely keep up with it because it’s the solution you need. It’s like when there were runs on the stores for food and you saw white goods sell out, like freezers sold out. And freezers aren’t cheap, but they were considered absolutely necessary. So they solve a problem. So big hint there, solve a problem.
Buffering the front end
It’s also interesting, you can take an approach where you just build more of a buffer to that front end as well. One thing we did was turn on a brand new website called SuperFastResults. And we put some one-time products out there, and we haven’t done that for about six years. We put some one-time products out there, and they immediately started selling. And that’s building a warm database for us where we can offer some next-level solutions to that audience over time. So it’s considered sort of more of a staging area, it’s a way that people can move gently in to get an experience. It’s a bridge between a podcast and the upfront products that we had.
The other thing we did was recalibrate the entry point for SuperFastBusiness to make it extremely affordable. And when we did that, within a few days, we had nine people join over just a couple of day period when we did the recalibration, which was telling us that there were people sitting there ready to go, and that was really just the last point of resistance.
How retention is looking
And we are also seeing, and it’s early days, but so far, it looks like retention is going to be pretty strong, because the feedback and the success threads they’re starting and the results they’re getting is what would indicate someone who’s going to stick around for a while. And we also see them show up on the live calls and the live training. And hopefully some of them grow into the type of client who ends up in the next category up over time. So if you were to look at that, from a long-term perspective, then what you’ve got is like an orchard. And we’ve been, you know, plowing the fields and planting new trees, and we’ve got the first crop of fruit and people want the fruit. But they’re going to stick around and keep buying it, and later, we can turn it into jam and wine and other good things from that orchard.
So you’re saying, be more patient, change your message, because they are still buying, they’re just being fussy and picky. And the list building and the brand building and the market share is where the opportunity sits, right? This is the time to be on the offensive and to bring forward your capturing of the market so that they are, as things start to progressively become more certain and more optimistic, you are the natural choice for them to purchase from.
When the competition is struggling…
Will: Yeah, exactly right. And I wanted to go for a quick story as well about the last GFC, and one thing that I learned from an amazing entrepreneur. So during the last year, I didn’t even have my agency. I was working as a consultant looking at data and looking at data specific for marketing. I was working at this company called oOh!Media. So it’s an Australian company, currently now listed. It was a private company when I was working there. They do really big billboard signage and advertising. So during the last year, what happened was all the bigger competitors in the market or all the major players in the market shut down their sales teams, no one had budget to take clients out to travel or to do any of that. And the CEO of the business at that time stormed into the room as soon as he heard his competitors were kind of slashing budgets. And he threw these new credit cards at every single salesperson. He said, I want you guys to double the amount of money you’re spending taking our clients out, taking your leads out, and just go show them a really, really good time and just go and talk to people.
And what happened, because everyone else had, you know, kind of just boarded up their windows, and weren’t having conversations,his sales team went, and they just got into all these different accounts, which they’ve been trying to get into for years. And they were with incumbents and they had other agencies, but no one else was doing business. So he ended up getting so much market share from that one period. And now they’re actually the largest advertising business in Australia, listed on the stock exchange, and a lot of growth came back from that difficult period with everyone else stopped kind of working, right? And he just went out and just dominated market share.
So I’m seeing a very similar trend now. The ad costs being so cheap, now’s the perfect time to go through and build that database and build a list, to get started on relationships and capitalize on what you’ve done now over the next 12 to 24 months.
Beware of being negative
James: Right. And you don’t have to take the approach of negative angles, etc. Like when we were talking about having this particular episode, my biggest concern was I don’t want to be jumping on the change bandwagon and you know, you just want to vomit every time you hear unprecedented times or blah, blah, blah. And I’m not even going to mention the virus by name. It’s very samey samey. And that seems like a tactic that people are using, just like a knee-jerk tactic to hit it with a negative fear-based headline, and make that the thing. What other options do we have? And are there options that are working for you? Like, I’ve already mentioned what I did. I recalibrated our access point, I added a new product that suits people who are more conservative, and they just took off without a lick of mention of negativity, without any mention of uncertainty or fear, without any other changes to anything. We just made them available and they took off.
“You don’t have to be that negative person.”
So I would say that we’re an optimistic and positive marketing organization. Because it’s easy for me to be like that when I’m surrounded by winning clients. They get results. And that’s what I live or die by. So I’m really happy to go out there and say, Listen, I can improve your situation. And if they want to do that thing you said, where you look at what someone’s doing, and not what they’re saying, If someone’s business is thriving, and doing particularly well in this era, that should be someone that you might want to listen to. So I think the proof and evidence is right there. You’re doing it. I’m doing it. And I think the lessons for us to share are, you don’t have to be that negative person. So what other options do we have?
Will: Yeah, so there’s so many different options. And it’s a really powerful point. I’m going to share some data in terms of campaigns I’ve seen for ourselves and for our clients. So to start off with, we did a cold email campaign for a client. They’d led to a warm email campaign. I won’t get into campaign specifics, but we tested two different angles. One was, hey, by the way, are you seeing changes due to this virus, or this pandemic, rubbish? Here are some ideas to help you overcome it. The other one just didn’t even mention it. It just mentioned, Hey, we’re looking for companies that are looking to grow and do this and achieve this objective. Do you want to have a conversation? And the more positive email sequence that we sent out actually had such a better result versus the one where we were mentioning what’s happening, you know mentioning it, being a little bit negative.
I think everyone’s sick and tired of the doom and gloom, I think people are not looking to be scared. They’re looking for solutions. They’re looking for human-to-human connection at this point in time. So one of the sequences, the more negative one, only got about 40 percent open rate. And the more positive one got an 80 percent open rate, and way more leads for it. So it just goes to show, you know, you look at the numbers and the numbers will tell you what people are actually thinking and the message they actually want to hear.
In terms of what positive message is, it’s something I’ve experimented recently, so I’m happy to share the numbers in it. But we have a few front-end products which we just go to the market for free. We didn’t mention the fact that hey, there’s this stuff happening, we just say that we just want to get back at this time. We’re doing this product, it normally sells for $200, we’re going to offer it to everyone for free. And the uptake was just amazing. We built an email list just off the organic, just off me personally, my personal profile. It’s like an extra hundred people who have jumped on the email list. And that’s with that advertising component behind it. So people are really looking for solutions rather than to keep getting hammered by the same message of doom and gloom.
Show me the value
James: Nice. So they just want, give me some value. Give me some result. Let me see that I can trust you. And it’s interesting, but I think if you’ve been in the marketplace, and you’ve been there and delivering and providing content, and people haven’t activated, they will just turn on. You know, we did really well off our little chatbot experiment, just brought my invisible market to become visible, like Dean Jackson would talk about. They just popped up and showed up on my socials and so forth and continued to receive the messaging. So when you roll out an upgrade, you just casually mention a new product line. Even with no other messaging, they just go and explore it.
Now I’ve got a very interesting audience. They want to see what’s there. And I think they also appreciate when you’re not the one spreading theories and conspiracies and stuff and you’re not the one being inflammatory or reacting negatively in the marketplace. I think it’s easy to make mistakes at this time with poorly considered actions. I’m seeing people fall on their sword a lot, actually, when I venture in very, very rarely now in the social media world. Because there’s a bit of carnage out there. Just stick to your guns.
“There are people doing really, really well, and it’s a matter of seeing the opportunity there.”
I think the overriding message right now is, and people have thanked me for this for sharing it, there are people doing really, really well, and it’s a matter of seeing the opportunity there. There is a gift handed to us in times like this, whether it’s the time to update your studio, your equipment, revise all your emails, take stock of things that you’ve been putting off and putting off and putting off because you’re too busy and you’re too busy and you’re too busy. Now you can just clean house, purge, get set up, get to work on your messaging, set up your new offers, go out to the market with a positive message, and see how you can get your promotions up and running, and give people a reason why they can buy from you.
What Growth Labz can do for you
So what are you doing in terms of the work you’re doing with clients these days? What’s the thing that people can get help from you with @GrowthLabz?
Will: Yep. So if they want help from us in terms of even bouncing ideas around, looking at their campaigns, or even coming up with an entire strategy on how they can really capitalize on opportunities at the moment, some of that, you know, I can definitely help people with. We’ve opened up a few more spots on my calendar. We’ve also made a lot of the front end items or courses we used to sell for free. So if anyone needs help on LinkedIn or social media, conversion, copywriting, I’m sure you have my details on there for people to reach out. Happy to give them some of them.
James: Well, you tell us where to go.
Will: Yep, so send me an email to [email protected], and let me know how I can help you. We’ll set up a call if you want. If not, just let me know what a topic you want to learn on marketing. And if you’ll go to free resource, I’ll make sure to send that your way.
James: Nice. And Will, I like the screenshot I saw recently you shared where someone said they loved your cold outreach so much, they just had to engage with you. And that’s what you’re known for, cold outreach that doesn’t suck, that people actually enjoy and are glad that they received. It’s a rare person who can pull that off. So, well done. And thank you for coming along and sharing with us what you’ve seen work as an agency, because you get to see more accounts than the average bear.
The overlying message
And your message is that it’s still fine out there. If you adjust, if you’re patient, if you genuinely help people, then there is tremendous opportunity for you to get in there and to go and deliver some solutions. And I think it’s good for the economy, and it’s good for people. Get that money flowing, sell some things, bring the money into your business, spend some of it back out in the economy, give people employment and jobs and let their ventures take off. You know, like the little coffee cart that I saw in the local swimming pool car park the other day. You know, they’re killing it. People aren’t swimming, but they’re certainly drinking coffee.
Will: Yeah, exactly. I always say this quote, and I’m sure someone said it before, but I kind of adapted it from Spiderman, when Uncle Ben says, “With great power comes great responsibility.” I always think, with great change comes great opportunity. So it’s a really exciting time. I’m seeing there’s so much opportunity out there. And even if they were just getting ready for the next wave, I think it’s such a good time to get ready and just be prepared.
James: Have you seen my adaptation of that quote?
Will: No, not yet.
James: So the quote is normally, “With great power comes great responsibility.” Well, it must also be true, then, that with great responsibility comes great power. So if you want to be responsible to yourself, if you want to look in the mirror and say, “I’m going to be the one that makes a difference in my life, I am going to be responsible for my business outcomes, I’m going to be responsible for my actions, I’m going to be responsible to get that new campaign out, I’m going to be responsible to create value for people, I’m going to be responsible to my team and make sure they have continued employment and a psychologically safe workplace,” then as soon as you take on those responsibilities, like a parent, then you will get the rewards that come with that. You’ll have so much power out there in the marketplace. So, Spider Man all the way.
Thank you so much, Will, it’s great to catch up and I look forward to our next installment. You’ve been on so many episodes before and we keep getting tremendous feedback.
If you’ve listened to this episode, 744, which is also the color code for a type of silver from Mercedes-Benz, I think it’s called zircon silver, then get in touch with us and we will put your feedback to Will. Let us know what you want to hear about on an upcoming episode. If there’s a particular type of case study you’re interested in, put us to work. Let us bring it to you. Because we value you, our tremendous listener. If you enjoyed this show, or you think someone’s having a down time, and they need a little bit of a pep up or to know that there are people doing well, send them this episode, and let them know that help is on the way. Thank you so much.
Will: Thanks so much, James.
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