Today we have a very special guest on the show and a very good friend of mine from here in sunny Manchester, Ian Brodie. Ian helps consultants and coaches to get more clients, as simple as that. He was recently named as one of the top 50 global thought leaders in marketing and sales by Top Sales World Magazine and one of the top 25 global influencers in sales and sales management by OpenView Labs.
His number one Amazon best selling book Email Persuasion teaches business owners and professionals how to captivate and engage their audience, build authority, and generate more sales with email marketing and that is the topic of today’s show, email marketing.
Now Andrew, why are we so excited to talk with the lovely Ian about email marketing today?
Andrew: Well, I am afraid that most consultants view email marketing as an afterthought. We’re so much focused on – in getting the sale, getting someone on the phone, getting the hot lead and often neglect all the other pieces that go into making something work long term.
Email marketing is such a critically important tool for nurturing and for getting the right people to contact you later at the right time for filling up your sales funnel. We will be talking all about that today and I can’t wait to hear what Ian has to say about it.
Kenny: Absolutely. So I want to welcome the man I met about four, five years ago at a little toastmasters’ club in Manchester. Ian, how are you today?
Ian: Hey Kenny. Hey Andrew. It is great to be here. I’m good, I’m good.
Kenny: Fantastic. Now, Ian, we want to do some deep dives today into several email marketing subjects and how mastering it can help consultants. Before we do, can you give us kind of a lay of the land of your business from a 20,000-foot view? What is it about? What is your business about, especially as it pertains to consultants? Why do you feel that email marketing is such an important tool in a consultant’s toolkit?
Ian: Gosh. Well, in terms of my business, I became a consultant back in ’94, quite a long time ago really. I had a proper job first, but I’ve kind of forgotten all about that. I became consultant in ’94 and I flew around the world with – for a couple of big global firms for 13 years and like many people do, I eventually got bored with the travel and wanted a bit more autonomy. I quit to set up my own business and then run into the problems that a lot of consultants run into where you find that when you haven’t got that big marketing and sales machine behind you, all of a sudden life is a bit more challenging.
So I essentially had to teach myself and to learn and to copy from others how to win clients as a consultant. I managed to crack that and one of the things that I found the most useful for me was email marketing. One of the reasons it was the most useful for me was because very few other people were doing it.
As Andrew said earlier, very often we’re kind of like – almost like we got a shotgun – a target, a rifle – sniper’s target on the very next client and we focus on them and then if they become a client, we work with them. But if they don’t, we move on to the next one. We move on to the next one. We move on to the next one.
We kind of forget all those other people we originally spoke to or people we had connections with and that weren’t ready to buy initially and of course over time, they’re getting more and more ready to buy and who they’re going to work with. Probably not the people who spoke to them initially but then ignored them for the next six months.
So for me, switching to email marketing, the reason email marketing is so powerful for me is twofold. One is just as you said Andrew, it’s all about follow-up and we know especially in consulting that it’s very, very rare that someone is going to be ready to hire you as a consultant or buy a big project from you the very first time they meet you or they visit your website or anything like that.
It’s going to take time to build credibility. It’s going to take time to build trust and of course it’s going to take time before they move from that initial status of having a little itch they want to find out about to it being a serious enough problem they want to do something with.
So you’ve got to keep in touch. You’ve got to keep building a relationship with them. Now of course there are lots and lots of face to face ways of keeping in touch and building relationships. But the advantage of email marketing is obviously scale. You can be relatively hands-off. You can reach an awful lot of people.
It’s not the same thing as phoning up someone and keeping in touch that way. I’m not saying you would replace that sort of thing. But you can only do face to face and personalised, keeping in touch with a limited number of people, whereas with email marketing, you can hit an awful lot more people.
That of course means you can play with the big boys as well. I certainly don’t have the marketing budget of the number of people of a McKinsey or even a smallish consulting firm. But through email marketing, I can reach 10,000 people two or three times a week regular as clockwork and it can have an impact.
So that combination of focusing on follow-up which is really what builds credibility and trust until people are ready to buy and being able to do it at scale, so it doesn’t take every hour of the day, really works for me and it works for a lot of people.
Kenny: When did you start?
Ian: I started email marketing probably about two years after I set up. So for a couple of years – usually the wasted years as it were, I had a website. My blog took off pretty quickly after I set it up and pretty soon, I abandoned the main website because there were so many people coming to the blog and I just based everything around that.
But I didn’t start capturing people’s email addresses for a couple of years. So we’re probably talking about 2009, something like that, before I really started taking it seriously and realising – I was realising that – like everyone, just when you look at your website stats and you see that 70 percent of the visitors to your website visit once and they never come back again, it’s a huge waste of opportunity. If only you could capture some of those folks and you could decide when you wanted to keep in touch with them, when you wanted to communicate with them, then of course you get much, much better results.
Andrew: Yeah. Really I just want to reiterate how important this is and if you think about it, I’ve got a very simple story. We bought our condo here in Boston six years ago. Ever since then, the real estate agent we used just sent me one card at Christmas time. You know, all the best, signed her name and that was it. That was all she did to stay in touch.
But once a year, that was enough to keep her in mind. So that when it came time to sell just recently, who do we call? Of course we called her. I remembered her name. I remembered the experience. I remembered her staying in touch and that was all it took and email marketing plays on the same sort of phenomena, doesn’t it? Just staying familiar, staying on top of mind.
Ian: Absolutely. And of course you’re building your relationship as well. So you could send emails that would just keep you top of mind, but you can also send emails that raise their perception of you as an expert in your field, raise their perception of what you would be like to work with and how good that would be.
So you end up kind of climbing that mountain towards a point where they’re ready to buy from you. I think what a lot of consultants I think overlook is people – they assume that email marketing is for consumer type businesses, that it’s for – mostly emails we might get as receivers of emails are from people like Amazon or Groupon and its big fancy graphics and sales pitches again and again.
What they don’t realise is it can work well especially – you got to be targeted, but it can work well for the larger corporates that we might want to be doing work with.
Now I’m not saying that every CEO of a Fortune 500 or a FTSE 100 company subscribes to emails and reads them, but some do, and many more have key influencers, other decision makers in the organisation, people they’ve set a job of find me X, Y and Z, who do subscribe to emails, who do get value from things and then who will pass your name up and who will recommend you and introduce you, et cetera.
So it does work with larger organisations as well. I have a very good client who I work with on email marketing and his target clients are finance directors who are the CFOs or group finance directors in FTSE 350 companies here in the UK, so that’s the 350 largest companies and he has combined his traditional outbound cold calling, his referrals and introductions with email marketing to very great effect and I can’t remember the exact numbers, but his business doubled in about 18 months because he was finally positioning himself against the bigger firms.
I think he reported back that he had won one large contract where the CFO called him in and said, “We would like to speak to you,” and she laid out in front of her a couple of brochures. I think one from Deloitte and one from KPMG that said, well look, these guys are telling me how important this particular thing is. Then she had in front of her his report, his kind of free report that he sends out and said, “Yours actually tells me how to do it and that’s why I’m speaking to you and not them.”
He had been able to keep in touch with her and keep reminding her of that value and giving extra value on top through email marketing, so she knew him and he stood out over and above even some very big consulting firms.
Andrew: Well, that’s brilliant. It’s a great example. Who wouldn’t want a single technique that can double our business in 18 months? I mean this is why we’re so excited to talk about this today and we do want to get into a lot of details because I know you have great strategic and tactical suggestions for how to go about this.
I just first wanted to ask a bit of a higher level question. Kind of from a – definitely for keeping consultants in mind, especially those who may be starting out. What is the low-hanging fruit to go after? Where do you think is the biggest bang for the buck where you can get kind of the quickest return on investment, start to see some success, start to feel good about it and then expand your email marketing beyond that point?
Ian: What I found – I guess you would call this a hybrid. So it’s not – this is not email marketing in terms of people sign up and get a free report from you or a video and then they get regular emails from you, et cetera. But it is using email marketing in a very similar way, which can get you prepared and ready and kind of into it.
It’s to use a couple of simple emails to reach out to people who are – if you’re looking to get sales fast, then you got to have a number of things – have to be true. People have to have a problem that you can solve. People have to believe you’re credible and you can solve it and they have to trust you. They know they can work with you.
So if you think about who are those people who are already quite far on that journey – because you need them to be far on the journey for them to transition to being ready to buy being relatively quick and you can categorise them.
So one category of those people for example I would call dropped prospects. So let’s say as a consultant you met with a potential client. You talked about working together. You may even have submitted a proposal but you ended up not winning the work. Now our tendency there is to just forget it and move on. But the truth is, A, someone else might have won it but the client might have been unhappy with them or the client – there might have been other priorities and the client may not have given out the work to anyone or the budget may have changed or et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
So there could be a whole bunch of reasons why six months ago or three months ago or nine months ago they were – they weren’t ready to move ahead with you but right now, they could be. So I would use a form of email marketing just to get back in touch with those prospects.
Now it’s not huge numbers. We’re not talking about emailing thousands of people. We’re talking dozens, 20, 30, 40, let’s say, of prospects you met in the last two years who were talking to you but didn’t go ahead and just to start doing that, kind of keep in touch.
I like to use an email which just basically says something along the lines of, “I thought you might find this useful,” and then just say, “Hi John,” or whatever the name is. Are you still interested in whatever it is that you were interested in? Are you still interested in reducing procurement costs? I thought you might find this useful.
Give them a link to something valuable, like an article you’ve written on your website about reducing procurement costs that they’ve probably not seen before. We will be really happy to talk about how you could implement this in your business. Give me a call.
What you’re doing is you’re kind of just re-establishing contact with people who could be ready to work with you but you’re doing it in a way that adds value by sending him to the article.
Ian: So I just heard from a guy about a week or so ago. We had an event. I do a thing for the alumni of my business school and he came over and he said, “You know what? I actually finally did that email thing. I sent 32 out last night or the day before and all that and I’ve got four meetings set up already.”
So that kind of thing works because you’re hitting the right people. Now it’s not full-fledged email marketing but it gets you going. It gives you confidence that just by sending emails, you can actually get some traction and get some sales meetings and then I think that gives you some momentum to move into doing it more formally through email marketing.
Kenny: I can see that really getting people moving and getting people going, I can see now. You know, consultants not [0:14:36] [Indiscernible] saying, “I can do that, I can do that.” But what next? Because I hear a lot from my clients when I say, “Are you going to start doing some email marketing?” and a lot of them say that they get overwhelmed at the thought of having to set up all of these segmentation funnels and all of this kind of stuff, because we all get hit by the same marketers, putting out stuff, talking about these complex funnels and stuff.
What would you say to them? There has got to be – with you Ian, you’ve got to – you’ve written a book on this. There must be a master plan that you abide by or do you just randomly send out emails whenever you feel like it?
Ian: Yeah. It’s just random. No, I think – of course, yes, there’s a master plan behind the scenes. But I think it’s – when you’re adopting email marketing, I think you have to do it in a phased way. I mean there may be some people. Perhaps if you’re a larger organisation, you’re paying someone fulltime to do it for you, et cetera. Then you could pick up one of these courses on advanced funnel blueprints or whatever and you can implement all this complexity about segmenting people and sending them down different paths based on what links they click, et cetera.
But for most people, trying to set that up from scratch, they’re just going to get stuck and they’re not going to make any progress. So I think it’s best to start off just with the basics, which is A, figure out how to get subscribers. Have something simple that will get you subscribers.
B, have a simple initial sequence of emails that everyone gets when they first subscribe. That adds a lot of value to them quickly and quickly builds your relationship with them.
Then C, just get into the habit of regularly sending useful, valuable emails that also serves the purpose of not only keeping you front of mind but having a call to action in where if people do have you front of mind, they’ve got something they can do, like give you a call to talk about how you might be able to help them.
Kenny: OK. And just on that point, do you have any kind of set kind of values that you have where you would give three pieces of valuable content to every one promotion or is there anything you have in your mind or that you advise your clients on how to do?
Ian: When you are doing – let’s talk about the initial emails people get when they first sign up. So firstly, I don’t agree with that principle of there bits of value and then one sales pitch. The reason I say that is that if you translate that logic into the – kind of the real world of TV adverts for example, what that would mean was what you should do is you should give people three TV shows off the [0:17:21] [Inaudible] with no adverts in between and then run all the adverts together at the end.
Typically they don’t do that and the reason they don’t do that is it doesn’t work. If you have a big, huge email that’s just a pitch, it’s going to annoy people no matter whether they’ve had three pieces of value first. They kind of forget those emails by the time they get to the third one.
I think you can give value and sell in the same email. That has been my experience. If you think about it, so rather than here’s a useful email with some information, here’s a useful email with some information, you don’t have to do anything. Here’s a useful email with some information. Still don’t have to do anything. Well, here’s a really pitchy email that’s going to annoy you.
Rather than that, I think many people know the concept of the sideways sales letter from the kind of product launch stuff where the logic of that is rather than having one really long sales pitch in one video, you split it up into four and give value with each one and it’s really just the same with emails.
So if you wanted to make four – if you had four benefits of your product, rather that you were selling or your consulting services or whatever it might be, rather than covering all the benefits and why they should buy in one long email, which then just comes across as a pitch in people’s kind of – their flesh crawls a bit and the barriers go up because they know you’re trying to sell to them. What you do is you take those four areas. You’re adding useful valuable email in that area that gives them a tip or some useful information they can use. At the end of it, you then position the next step as being – them buying the product or calling you to work on the service.
So if you do procurement cost reduction as a consultant, you give them a tip on how to reduce procurement risk and then you say, “If you like to talk about the three other ways of reducing procurement risk in your organisation, we can schedule a free 30-minute call to discuss that.”
So that way it’s a small sales pitch but it’s in every email. So it adds up to just as much as if it was all in one email. But because you’re linking it logically to the contents of the email, it feels like a logical progression rather than a jarring pitch all coming out of nowhere.
Andrew: I like that approach. Yeah, I really like that approach because you’re not just giving value, but also you said continuing to promote your service but in a way that makes sense in context and it’s not in their face. Obviously if somebody really sees the value of something you send out and you’re not giving them away to take the next step, you’re losing out.
Ian: That’s right. I mean I think it’s important to remember that when people join your email list, they’re going to be at different stages of readiness. So usually depending on what your services are, the larger the service, obviously probably the more it’s going to take before they’re going to get ready.
So if you’ve got a quick entry level service – so let’s say you’re a coach for example rather than a consultant and therefore you just maybe do three sessions with them and it’s all over and it’s a couple of thousand or whatever. That’s a lot easier to buy than $100,000 on a big consulting project.
So you don’t need as much warm-up. But people are going to be at different levels of readiness. There’s usually going to be a small percentage of people who might be ready to take action right now and a larger percentage of people who need nurturing.
The thing to bear in mind is you want to try and meet the needs of both. So you could either just do pure content emails for ages and hope that people will give you a phone call, but then you’ve got – as you were just saying Andrew, the people who are ready to do something right now are almost frustrated because you’ve got no – they’ve got no way of – this is great stuff. But how do I work with this guy?
So there’s no harm in giving them a call to action at the end of every email that is logically related to what you’ve been discussing in the email. It’s a nice continuation.
Now every now and then, I’m not afraid to throw in a pure sales email but I don’t like this kind of formulaic do three content emails, do one pitch email. I prefer to kind of join it together and have it more organic. Even if you look at an infomercial on TV, an infomercial, a good infomercial is a constant interweaving of give some useful information.
If you think of those late night ones for exercise machines, they will show people exercising. They will show why this is better than this type of exercise and then they will promote the product. Then they will go back to another bit of content and they will show you some other people doing stuff and then they will do a bit of promotion.
It’s not all promotion and it’s not all content. I guess it’s the same as native advertising these days. If something stands out and is very different than everything around it, it kind of jars and you become suspicious of it. But if you’re mixing the content with the promotion, it tends to work better.
Andrew: Organic is a good word. It just feels more natural when you do it this way.
Ian: That’s right. And because remember, the time – as a consultant, if you’re trying to establish yourself as a trusted adviser, you don’t want people to think of you as a salesperson. You don’t want kind of words coming out of your mouth that feel like only a salesperson would say them.
If you think about it in the context if you were having a sales meeting with a client, you wouldn’t just jump and spend all sales meeting having – doing a sales pitch. You would ask them about their problems and talk about their problems and give them some ideas they might be able to work with.
Then you would say, “Well, you know what? Would you be interested in talking about how we could work together to solve that problem and to go into even more details?” It’s similar in the email. You want that style coming across in your email.
Andrew: While we’re on this topic, I do want to go a little bit deeper and I’m sure one question everybody has is – so great. I understand that we should do this autoresponder sequence, these follow-up emails after someone joins the list. What are some best practices you’ve found in terms of how many emails to put in the sequence, how often to send them out? Have you noticed anything that clearly works better than a different approach?
Ian: I think there’s a – there are a lot of different approaches that all kind of work and it depends on how advanced you want to get. So Kenny was mentioning before list segmentation. If you wanted, you could have lots of different sequences that were kind of triggered by the interest that people showed.
We could maybe talk about that later when we go into some more advanced stuff. But in terms of the basics first, firstly I like to get people into the habit of receiving emails from me fairly frequently.
For me, I think there is a difference between a corporate manager receiving emails and an entrepreneur or a business owner or a solo consultant. So since now, most of my clients are solo consultants and coaches. They run their own business.
I think they can – they live with a higher frequency. They appreciate a higher frequency than say a corporate manager would working in HR or working in manufacturing, who’s filled with emails every day from all his employees and his bosses and the other people in the organisation.
But I do like to establish a reasonable frequency early on and what I like to do in that initial autoresponder sequence is usually what you’ve done is you’ve given them away something free for joining your list. So it will be a free PDF or a video or something like that on a specific topic.
So usually what I like to do in the initial autoresponder sequence is expand on that topic somewhat and also broaden a bit to some of the other things you might work on.
So if let’s say you were a procurement consultant and the free thing you give away to get people to subscribe was your checklist of the five big procurement risks to watch out for, something like that.
Then what you might do is an initial autoresponder sequence where you expand on each of the five risks and show them a little bit about how they can mitigate that risk or avoid it.
But if you’re a procurement consultant and you work on stuff other than risk management, so it’s cost reduction category management or whatever it might be, you probably want to expand what you’re covering and touch on a couple of those topics as well, so that they realise that you’re not just a risk-reducing procurement consultant. By the way, I’m delving into content areas I know nothing about. I’m not a procurement consultant.
But you want to expand it a bit to make sure that they see the wide range of things that you can work on. So the way to do that is to make sure you really understand your ideal clients. So do a persona or a profile of that ideal client and really try to get to grips with not just the kind of demographics of who they are and how old they are and where they work and things like that. But for your ideal clients, what are the big problems and challenges and issues they have? What are their goals and aspirations? What are they trying to achieve?
Because as long as you’re writing emails about those things, then they’re going to be interested. If you stray too far and you’re writing about things you find interesting rather than things your clients find interesting, they’re obviously not going to open and read them.
If you look at all those topics, it’s usually fairly easy to kind of pick. OK, out of that big kind of set of topics, what are the problems that they typically have the most? What are the problems that they typically have early on?
So if this is someone subscribing to your emails, just to give you an example, when I was first doing email marketing, I realised that my clients would be interested in things like lead generation and generating initial contacts with potential clients. They would be interested in nurturing. They would be interested in selling skills as well.
But what I found from my initial emails was that there’s really no point in talking and sending emails out about selling skills and sales meetings if people haven’t got any leads in the first place.
So I concentrated my early emails on how to get more initial contact, how to get more initial leads. Otherwise, I would have a lot of people who – if I send them all about sales meetings, I would have a lot of people who weren’t getting any sales meetings at all, who weren’t interested. So you want to be focusing on those kind of early problems that your ideal clients are likely to have.
Then work out a kind of logical order for how to address those, usually best in the order in which they occur. So I would first start writing about how to figure out who your best clients are, how to create a bit of a value proposition, how to choose which lead generation methods to use, a bit of expanding on two or three of those. Then I might move on to nurturing and then eventually selling.
So there’s a kind of logical sequence through that. So for me that’s the main thing. Sit down. Work out a persona for your ideal clients. Figure out what they really care about, the problems that you might help them with and then structure your early emails around giving some value in those areas.
Kenny: OK. I want to just kind of go back a little bit here and look at kind of this automation again, because we get asked about automation a lot on this show. As well for people who have bigger lists. Maybe they’re slightly more advanced.
Maybe they’ve got 10,000 people on the list and maybe they’re into a lot of marketing emails themselves and they read a lot of marketing emails. They’ve got Ryan Deiss and Andre Chaperon on one hand and they’re following what they do and looking at what they do and they build these huge, big machines they call …
Ian: Yeah, sequences.
Kenny: Sequences. Then on the other hand, you’ve got your James Schramko and your Michael Hyatt who appear to just send out fresh content and they tend to – within their content, within their blog, at the end of the blog, they will say, “Also if you want to find out more content more advanced than this, then join my program,” for example. Whereas your Ryan Deiss and your Andre Chaperon take people on a journey, but it’s all pre-planned. So they may have 365 days worth of emails put into a system. Who’s right and who’s wrong here?
Ian: Well, I know you already know this, but of course both are right and it really depends on your sort of business. So think about the kind of business you want to run. So if you look at the – at Ryan Deiss for example and to be fair, Ryan is sending out fresh content as well at the same time. When they publish new stuff, he kind of does a combination with the machine.
Andre has these really long soap opera sequences that kind of last forever, but Andre kind of lives on the beach in [0:29:00] [Indiscernible] and something like that. So he wants to kind of set it and forget it. So really he has designed his email marketing around the business he wants to have and the lifestyle he wants to live.
I think one of the bigger differences is if you think about a lot of people, they will do – if for example you are doing regular product launches and you’re doing web – or regular webinars, those are live events and you can’t kind of pre-program all those if you’re doing a live event. So you would need to – now when I say you’re not pre-programming them, James and Michael are still pre-programming a short sequence.
So they’re not randomly sending out an email every – wake up in the morning and just randomly sending an email. What they’re doing is they’re thinking, OK, I’ve got a webinar coming up in two weeks’ time. It’s on topic X. How can I get everyone ready for that topic?
So I will send out some initial emails about that topic, warming people up and then I will do an announcement email and then I will send a couple more emails about the webinar, which gives a useful tip in the area that – of stuff they learn when they’re on the webinar and then after the webinar, I will send some follow-up emails that cover X, Y and Z and that – try and get them to buy the product I was promoting on the webinar.
So in that case, they’re still pre-programming it. But they’ve done let’s say a week or two weeks worth of emails. They’re not doing it out in advance. So I think it’s very much dependent on the sort of business that you want to run. If you are doing live things like webinars or events, then you will need to have some short term live stuff in there.
I typically have always done a balance. So what I do is when people first join my list, they get – there are a couple of – one of the things also to remember is Ryan Deiss has an awful lot of products.
Andre also promotes his Soap Opera Sequence for affiliate products, so he has got a big menu of products. So in Ryan’s case, he could have an entire year’s worth of pre-programmed emails where he’s just going in sequence, spending a couple of weeks on all his products and he can go on for a year.
Now personally, I don’t have that many products and a lot of the people listening who are consultants may not have any products at all. The thing they have is their own consulting services where what they want to do is get people on to their [0:31:16] [Indiscernible] strategy session call or a discussion with them on the phone to talk about how they might be able to help them.
So if that’s the case and you haven’t got all those different products, you can do themes. So you might – if we were to think as a consultant, one of the five main areas I work on with clients – and you can pre-program some themes of emails that cover those content areas and the call to action at the end of the email is to get on a call with you to discuss how they might be able to implement and get the same results in their business. You can kind of theme it like that.
The other thing to do is what I do, which is kind of a mix of when people first join my list. I have a series of autoresponder messages pre-programmed that relate to the products I do have, but there are many of them. So it doesn’t take all that long and then if I’m sending every couple of days, it’s going to take a couple of months at most before people are through all that.
Once they’re through all that, I have a regular email that goes out on a Sunday that’s being pre-programmed for about three years and I don’t mean I thought of them all three years ago. I mean as I started doing this regular Sunday email three years ago, the Sunday emails are some of my very best emails.
So when new people join my list, I kind of don’t want them to miss out because of the best emails I’ve written. So they just go into a sequence where every Sunday they get these pre-written emails that have been around for quite a long time. I just add one on the end of the list every Sunday.
But during the week, what I will do is I send out fresh content. So if I’m running a webinar, it means during the week I can promote the webinar. If I wanted, I could freeze the Sunday emails, so they don’t get a kind of mixed message about different topics.
But I usually don’t do that or if I’m promoting a product for – a new product for a specific amount of time or if I’m – occasionally, I do little series of videos and things like that, that I want people to look at. I can focus on them in the fresh bits while I’ve still got the autoresponder chugging away in the background where they’re getting the best of my traditional stuff.
So you can – I guess the simple answer is you can do either. It depends on how it fits your business or you can do a hybrid that does both. I find that most people when they’re starting out, would struggle to pre-program a year’s worth of emails, because they just don’t have that much content available initially or that many different products and services.
Kenny: Yeah. I see on your site at the moment – last time I looked anyway. Maybe a week ago. You’ve got a new – what looks like a new lead magnet for me. Can you just explain what a lead magnet is? And also your new lead magnet is something about a 21-word email.
Ian: That’s right.
Kenny: So have you got any kind of optimum length of email as well? Because I know some people are kind of wondering. Do I write long emails? Short emails? Do I do them really narrow on the page like Frank Kern does? How do I write these emails?
Ian: Gosh, OK. So first of all, in terms of lead magnets, just a reminder for everyone, a lead magnet is something you give away free as an incentive for people to join your list. Obviously it has got to be in a similar area to the work you do and the emails you’re going to write about. You can give away free money and that would get lots of people on your list but it wouldn’t necessarily get the right people. So it has to be relevant.
In my case for a lead magnet, I think there are two different types of lead magnets. I don’t think people talk about this much but they – if you are on your website, I think usually the best lead magnet is something short that kind of meets an immediate need of people, kind of instant gratification of if I get this, I will get a problem solved immediately. I will get immediate results from it.
They may not be massive results. You’re not expecting to transform your business from a little free report you got. But you will get some immediate results from it rather than you sign up for something and it’s a 24-week training course or an 87-page book and usually you will put on your shelf and you will never read.
So the lead magnet I think is usually best done on your website as something short and sharp and delivers results quickly. So it’s brilliant but it’s short. You can have lead magnets the kind I was talking about before, who did email marketing, who was targeting corporate. He used the lead magnet. He even used the physical version of the lead magnet, of course the potential clients, and the main goal of that was credibility-building as well as just getting people to subscribe because he already knew many of their email addresses because they’re well-known people in the field. So he was more using it for credibility-building.
But in my case, the 21-word email is a really short thing. It is a template for an email. You remember I was just talking right at the start about getting – going fast with – by contacting prospects. That is the 21-word email, that technique.
So when people sign up to get my emails, they will get that technique. They will get a template for the email. They get a PDF of how to do it, who to send the emails out to, and it gives them immediate value. So as I said, one guy said he sent out 32 emails, got four sales meetings. Another guy said recently – he had actually gotten a sale from a client he had been chasing for six months, because it just works.
So that really sets you up well for then people wanting to get the rest of your emails because they’ve got immediate value.
Andrew: Sorry, go ahead.
Ian: No, go ahead. I will come back to the things about the length of the emails and things like that in a second.
Andrew: Sure. And I really – I love this really broad scope you’re giving here, lots of different ways to doing it, some more advanced techniques. I also want to make sure that we do give people just starting out a really clear and easy idea of what they can do first, so that’s not too overwhelming.
You’ve talked about the need to build the subscribers, have the lead magnet, to send out some basic automated emails. Obviously not a year’s worth. That’s quite overwhelming even to think about, right? So for someone who just wants to start getting – start to feel this out, see how it works and see some value from it, what do you think are really the basics? What would be your recommendation for really the specific first few things to put together?
Ian: Really the first basics are obviously have an email system that can send out emails and can get people to subscribe. Get a subscription form in a prominent place on your website. So many websites I see hide the subscription form right at the bottom of the page and places like that. So have it in a prominent place on your home page in the side bar next to your blog.
At the end of the blog post, because if people read through a blog post, they’re probably – a full blog post, they’re probably interested enough to subscribe to your emails, et cetera, et cetera. So make sure your forms are prominent. Call your email something more interesting than newsletter.
So nobody wants to get another newsletter. I don’t want to know your news. But I might want to know your client-winning tips, which is what I call mine. So call it something interesting and that could be the start. You will actually find some people don’t even have a lead magnet.
So if you look at some people, I guess Noah Kagan from OKDork and people like that, you just go to his home page and he just basically says – I forget the – I’m going to Google it as we see, but he just basically has a big thing with a picture of him that says get access – get access to 85 percent of my best business hacks and your email address. You’ll learn exactly how I started 2 multi-million dollar businesses, grew a 700,000 email list, and where to find the best tacos in the world. That’s about it. He has some little testimonials.
So you can get going without even having a lead magnet. If you then can, create a little short report, maybe even a video if that works for you, or an audio that adds tremendous value to your ideal clients in an area where they have a common problem. So before I said do that ideal client profile. Pick the one big problem that most of your ideal clients tend to have. With me, it’s often that first step of getting leads, getting potential meetings with clients. So that’s what the 21-word email does and pick a big problem and give them a solution to that.
Now you’re never going to solve – the 21-word email is going to get you – get people sales meetings. It’s going to get them interacting with potential clients. But it’s focused on drop prospects. It’s not going to bring you prospects into the fold, et cetera, et cetera. So they need to go on beyond that and that’s where the rest of my emails and then buying one of my products would come in.
So you want it to be a really great high value product, high value free report or piece of advice. Obviously you don’t want it to solve all your clients’ problems but of course it will be ludicrous to expect that in a short report, you could solve all of your problems at the snap of a finger. No one is that brilliant and no clients are that stupid that they couldn’t have figured that out for themselves.
So it’s going to be something short and sweet and of immediate value. So get that. Get your email system up and running. Write three, four, five, six initial emails that expand on the lead magnet. Offer some useful information and if you’re a consultant and you want people to call you to talk about working together, just have that as a general call to action at the end of every email. Say a bit more about why that might be valuable to them and then you could begin to play around with some more advanced techniques on top of that.
So maybe email number two – well, email number one, usually the first day after they’ve got – you’ve sent out that PDF. Why don’t just send them an email and say, “Did you get the report?” Because at least it gets them emailing back to you and interacting with you because as a consultant, you’re going to have to talk to people before they hire you.
Then you send them a useful email with another tip in and maybe a couple of days later, you send them an email saying, “Hey, what’s your biggest challenge with procurement?” or “What’s your biggest challenge with marketing?” or whatever your specialty is and get them to email back to you or send them to a survey where they tell you what it is and again, it’s just getting you engaged and interacting with them, because if people are willing to tell you their problem – you’ve probably seen problems like that before because you’re an expert in your field. You can give them some advice on email.
Then you could say, “Well, why don’t we get on the phone and talk about some of the ways you could address this problem and whether or not it might be a good idea to work with me to fix it?” So you begin to get talking about working together.
Now only a small percentage of people will do that, but it’s more than if you don’t ask them that question and that’s about it really. You just need that initial autoresponder sequence with some useful emails and some interactive emails like that and then you just keep adding to it. Then just keep sending out – if you want to start off with once a week, just send a regular useful email to people. That’s going to get you going. It’s better than nothing.
Andrew: That’s a great, great summary of the start-up package for somebody wanting to get going with email marketing here. You described that very succinctly and you mentioned one thing that we’ve really hit a few times throughout our podcast that I like to get your thoughts on.
You said to focus on one big problem and provide a solution and I think this is where a lot of people get stuck because they feel like well, I’m trying to appeal to a broad audience. I don’t want to really limit my potential scope. They’ve got a lot of different problems. So I want to put out something that’s really general and broad that can appeal to a lot of people and I think that’s very problematic and I would love to hear your take on that.
Ian: Yeah, I agree. The problem is of course it then becomes also wishy-washy. If you try and cover a really broad range of things that lots of different people are going to have problems – have a problem with, one of two things is going to happen. Either if it’s a short thing you do, it’s going to be so generic. It’s going to be of the – work smart and not harder type.
Well, great, thanks. I wish – I haven’t heard that one before. It’s going to be so generic and it’s going to be useless or it’s going to be – have to be so big. You would have to write a 20-chapter book to cover all the problems that potential clients might have, that they will never read it.
So usually if you’re thinking that way, firstly maybe you need to think about narrowing down your target market and who you’re focusing on because maybe if you’re trying to – if your ideal clients have such a broad variety of leads, maybe you haven’t narrowed down your focus enough.
If that’s not the case, if you do – if you’re certain you’ve gotten your focus right, but there’s still a broad variety of leads, then initially just pick one of them. Remember this is to get people to sign up. So if you just pick one of them, so let’s say if we looked in my case – I’ve got this 21-word email that could get you more clients and it’s focused on the – those initial meetings.
Let’s say there are people coming to my website. We’ve got plenty of initial meetings, but they’re not – just not turning them into actual paying clients. So their problem is selling skills. Well, they’re not going to get that from the 21-word email. So they just won’t sign up. So all I’m getting under the list is people who need to get more leads, more initial contacts.
What I could do later is somewhere else on my website have a lead magnet that’s focused on improving your selling skills. You kind of got plenty of meetings but you can’t get – no paying clients. Then get this.
I could put one of those up as well and that will then get me on to a slightly different list, a group of people who have plenty of potential clients, plenty of meetings, plenty of leads, but just aren’t converting well and I could teach them selling skills on that.
Now I can do that by having that on my website. So on my sidebar on my blog, I might have two lead magnets for example. I think James Schramko does something like that. Either that or he has got the same lead magnet twice under different names, but I think he has two different ones on his website. That’s perfectly viable.
The other alternative of course is if you are doing lead generation through Facebook advertising, that I know you guys look at, then you just have two different adverts on – going to two different landing pages and only the people interested in that advert are going to click on it and they’re the ones who are going to opt in. So you just run those kind of separately.
Kenny: Very good. Now, these – we’re all the same in the fact that we’re – our inboxes are getting fuller and fuller and fuller. So – and we’ve talked a lot about headlines on this show. So what tips have you got for headlines, for really good subject lines to get people to stand out from all of that noise in their inbox?
Andrew: Good point, good point. I would say a caveat to this first. I don’t think the subject line is the most important thing to get your email read. I think it’s your name. If I get an email in my inbox, no matter how full my inbox is, if that email is from my wife, I’ve got to open it or if it’s from one of my best clients, for example or they’re a couple of people. There’s a guy called Richard Koch who wrote The 80/20 Principle a couple of decades ago and set up LEK Consulting and he’s – I think he’s a genius.
The emails he gets through are so thought-provoking and insightful that the minute I see an email from him, I will open it. I will stop what I’m doing and read it straight away.
So ideally you kind of want to be in that position yourself where clients will specifically open your emails because they’re from you. So, that means your lead magnet has got to be great and high value. They have to get results with it and especially your initial emails have got to be really good because that’s – then you build up this reputation where in a way it doesn’t matter what the subject line is. They’re going to open it because it’s from you.
That being said obviously, you can get a bump if you have good subject lines. So I mean I find – I think my advice is probably very similar to yours in terms of good headlines. I like to use the formula that copywriter Gary Bencivenga came up with years ago of interest equals benefit plus curiosity. So obviously people are going to open up an email that promises it has got some benefit in there for them. They will find out some useful information.
But if they think they already know what it is, then they probably won’t bother especially when they’re pushed for time. So ideally, you want that combination of benefits and curiosity. So the usual way of doing that is five shortcuts to reducing your procurement cost, the benefits of reducing your procurement cost, the five shortcuts. I wonder what those shortcuts are. There’s a bit of curiosity.
There’s a brilliant one from Kim Roach. I think it was something like, “My Private Rolodex: 13 Tools for Spying on Your Competitors,” and A, the benefit is who doesn’t want tools for spying on their competitors, but B, 13 tools. I just don’t know 13 tools for spying on my competitors. So I look just to see what the 13 were.
But I mean I found that subject lines that work for me tend to be short-ish, but do have that combination. So, really good ones for me would be things like My Worst Sales Meeting Ever. So we’ve got there – I think the implied benefit is if you read this email, you will learn how not to have a sales meeting as bad as I had. I have a particular style that I often tell stories about some of my horrific failures as a consultant trying to sell things and market things. People seem to like that. It gives a bit of a [0:47:56] [Indiscernible]. I think that’s how you pronounce it in German. People always like to look at other people’s misfortune, so my worst ever sales meeting or my big marketing disaster.
There’s an implied benefit that they will learn how not to do that. But I’ve had simple things like the real secrets of LinkedIn. So the benefit is lots of people want to learn how to use LinkedIn and the real secrets implies there’s kind of a bit of curiosity element, that there are some secrets they don’t know about or a simple one I sent out a while ago, How I Increased Email Sign-Ups By 51 Percent. So obviously if people want to get more email sign-ups, there’s a – they’re going to learn that’s a benefit for them. But by throwing in the 51 percent, it throws in an element of curiosity. That’s a lot! How on earth did he do that?
So even if they don’t want to know that information right now, they’re kind of curious about it. So I just find that that combination, you can go a bit loopy. I had an email that was quite successful. It was quite a long one that was, “Why Honey Nut Cheerios Get More Word-of-Mouth than Disney World,” and it still follows the formula. Benefits are you’re going to learn about getting good word of mouth marketing. The curiosity is, “What on earth is he talking about?” Honey Nut Cheerios better than Disney World? How does that work, et cetera?
As it turns out, it’s because you expect good service from Disney World, so you don’t remark on it. You don’t expect anything great from Honey Nut Cheerios. So when they do do something different, you actually say it to people and they get good word of mouth.
Kenny: Now you mentioned – was it Richard Koch you mentioned before?
Ian: Yeah, K-O-C-H. I’m not quite 100 percent sure how to pronounce it. He’s English but it’s kind of a German name. So you could pronounce it really badly. So I don’t say “Koch” like that.
Kenny: OK. Well, you obviously opened his emails because he has provided great content and stuff. Are there any emails you opened because they’ve been really good at forming that initial bond with you? If so, how do people do that as well? How do they form that initial bond to make – let people know that you’re human?
Ian: That’ a really good point. There aren’t many. I have to say there aren’t many. There are a lot of people especially in consulting who feel this need I think to keep an element of professionalism. They’re almost frightened of being a solo consultant or a small business. Probably the USP I hear most consultants give more than anything else is I’m like McKinsey but cheaper or I’m like Accenture but cheaper. They want to give this impression that they’re just like a big firm and that’s a hopeless USP.
If I’m hearing McKinsey, I’m not hiring them because they’re cheap. So people shy away from it, but that personal element is important. I think Neil Patel does that quite well of Crazy Egg and Quick Sprout because he is quite – he gets across bits of his personality. So he kind of will throw in stories about how he’s mean for example.
So I think putting in stories of your experience and your background and even personal stories works quite well and getting some of those early on. So I wouldn’t open up with the very first email being your life story because I don’t think you’ve earned the right yet. I think you have to earn the right early on with good value.
So the lead magnet is a good value and your first email that delivers that and maybe gives another tip. But I think I do like to kind of introduce myself. So I send an email shortly after they’ve subscribed. It’s a welcome email. It gives value because it points them at some of my best blog posts. But it also basically lays out our relationship quite honestly.
So I kind of say, look, here’s the deal. I’m going to try and send you my very best emails. I’m hoping they’re going to be really useful for you. If they’re not, email me and tell me. Tell me what’s wrong with them and I will try and adjust them.
On the other hand, if they are great, you email to tell me that. I quite like the praise. But do be aware that I make my money from selling online training to consultants and coaches. So if there’s a promotion for one of my products in there, please don’t get upset and don’t complain.
So I’m kind of being very honest early on, that they will get an email every now and then that just have a sales pitch in it because that’s my business. So I think opening up a little bit like that.
Then what I do fairly early on in my emails, one of the emails that comes out very early to people on my autoresponder sequence is called “Hope is not a strategy.” It’s about the importance of actually taking marketing into your own hands and doing something with it, rather than just hoping the next client is going to drop on your door or one of your friends is going to refer some business, et cetera.
I tell that story about how hope isn’t a strategy. You’ve got to be proactive with your marketing by telling my own story of how when I left the big firm, I was OK for about 18 months actually, because I had a lot of referrals coming in from people who knew me. But after that, the business kind of dried up and I found myself saying, “Oh yeah, so and so will pass them on,” or “I’m sure the economy will turn up,” and it didn’t. I had to kind of grab myself and say, “No, let’s take this seriously. You got to learn marketing a lot better than you know now. You know it for big companies. You need to learn it for yourself,” et cetera, et cetera.
So by being honest and saying, look, I’m not some genius consultant who has always got everything right. I’ve had to learn this the hard way. I’m certainly not a natural salesperson. I think that helps form a bond.
My wife is quite useful for those purposes as well, because she’s a lot wiser than me. So often people will get an email from me about – for example when Kathy shouts at me for various reasons and – because I’m not doing things right. Like, I’m – you know, failed for about three years to properly tidy the garden, even though we wanted to have a nice big garden with vegetables and whatever. That was just making the point that sometimes you just go to grit your teeth and get on with it and do it.
I told it through a story of me and my wife and my wife being the hero rather than me. Again, I think that helps to build a bond because we’re all fallible and you can go the other way as well. I think – is it Ramit Sethi? The – I will make you rich guy. I like his emails but he’s quite – arrogant isn’t the right word but he will deliberately be quite pushy in them because that’s his personality.
He would say, look, you’re on the ship or you’re not. You’re going to do this or you’re not. That gets people attached to his personality. So I’m not saying you have to be super nice and lovey-dovey all the time. You can be quite – you can show other elements of your personality but don’t be afraid to get your personality into your emails. That can also make them more interesting to read as well.
Andrew: Well, and you have to be who you are. If you misrepresent yourself in your emails, then someone does want to get on a call with you, and then they find out the real you, well what’s going to happen then, right?
Ian: Yeah, that’s a brilliant.
Ian: It’s not going to fly, yeah.
Andrew: I really appreciated you sharing your philosophy, your strategies here. I also want to ask at least one tactical question that I’m sure people would love to hear about. With all of your experience in email marketing, which email services do you most recommend?
Ian: Gosh, I’ve used – in my time, I’ve used AWeber, MailChimp, iContact, GetResponse, Infusionsoft, Ontraport. I now use a thing called Active Campaign and the reason I use Active Campaign is twofold. One is it has the advanced automation of Infusionsoft and Ontraport. I left Ontraport for Active Campaign because Ontraport got quite buggy in all honesty. It may well be fixed by now, but when I was using it, it got quite buggy and so my emails weren’t going out, et cetera.
It doesn’t have any of the extras like built-in shopping carts and affiliate systems, et cetera, but it was very well integrated to stuff. But it just works and it has even more advanced automation than Infusionsoft for example.
But it just works and the other thing is it’s a kind of start to finish system in that what you – with a lot of people, they would struggle to get Infusionsoft out of the box when they’re just starting up because it’s a couple of thousand dollars and it’s a few hundred dollars every month and that’s quite a big investment.
If you’re going to be really serious, it may well be worth taking that investment, but I find a lot of people aren’t. But we’ve Active Campaign, you can start off at the same kind of $9 a month level as in AWeber, but you get all the advanced automation built in and then you can grow to a couple of hundred thousand subscribers if you wanted and still use the same system.
I mean I found out to be the most difficult times in my email career is where when I graduated from AWeber to Infusionsoft for example and I had to transfer the subscribers over. That was easy. But transfer all my emails and my autoresponders and everything manually, it just took me days.
Then when I moved from Infusionsoft to Ontraport, same thing. So the less you – the more you can start off with the system you’re going to finish with, the better and that’s why I recommend Active Campaign, because people can start off quite small and they can grow and it will handle all their kind of automation needs. They don’t have to use any of the fancy stuff when they start, but they can start it up doing it.
Andrew: Actually that really is important, that you can start with a system that you can grow with. But is it also easy enough and intuitive enough for someone who isn’t already an expert in this or is there a steep learning curve like with Infusionsoft?
Ian: Yeah, Active Campaign is a lot easier than Infusionsoft. Obviously it’s not as simple as say MailChimp. Not quite as simple but it’s not much more – it’s not much more complex and it depends. If you don’t want to do automations that are triggered by people clicking on links and visiting webpages, then you just don’t go near that section and therefore it’s not complicated.
So I found it pretty simple. Actually one of the other important things that people don’t take into account when they’re choosing an email system is the quality of support as well. I believe Infusionsoft support is very good actually. You can get on the phone with people. Active Campaign has a brilliant live chat support.
Normally when I go on – I don’t know about you. Whenever I go on live chat support in most services, you get the kind of frontline support who actually doesn’t seem to know anything about the products and so inevitably – they say, “Have you switched it on?” Have you done all the things you already know? And then eventually when you get to the actual real problem, they say, “Oh, I’m going to have to pass that on to the second line.”
Then it takes a day before you get an email back from second line, who they haven’t passed it on to properly and whatever. With Active Campaign, the first line support on the chat actually knows what they’re doing, which is like a huge relief.
Kenny: Brilliant. Andrew, before we wrap up here, have you got any further questions?
Andrew: No, this has been great. I mean Ian, you’ve covered again not only fantastic strategies but a lot of tactics, a lot of options, just a lot to really think about and also put into practice. So I really, really appreciate that.
Kenny: Ian, do you think there’s anything that we’ve missed out today? Is there anything else you would just like to add before we wrap up here?
Ian: Well, of course we’ve missed out tons and tons of stuff, because it’s such a big topic. But I guess just in a way re-stressing a point that you made earlier Kenny, which was about we do get bombarded – especially if you’re signing up for marketing stuff. You get bombarded with emails from people promoting the latest and greatest. You’ve got to have an advanced funnel and you’ve got to be able to segment people, buy this and do that and you don’t want to send the same emails to everyone.
While that is all true that you get better results from doing that, it really puts people off I think. I think we overcomplicate things. So get going –it’s like if you wanted to learn tennis, you wouldn’t get lessons from Roger Federer on day one. It would be – he would be trying to get you to do things that you couldn’t possibly do because you haven’t learned the basics.
So normally, you would learn tennis from a basic local coach who would teach you all the basics first and if you had a bit of talent, you would then go on to a more advanced coach, et cetera, et cetera.
It’s the same with email marketing. Start with the basics. Just get a form up on your website, very prominently, for people to subscribe, ideally with a lead magnet, a couple of initial autoresponders that add value. Get into the habit of sending regular emails and learn how to engage people with your email. So put a bit of your personality in there. Tell stories. Have a call to action that gets them to interact with you and that gets you up and going. You can then take it all from there.
But by then, you will have started to see results. So it’s not a matter of just then crossing your fingers and thinking, “Oh, well, I hope this really more advanced one will get me the results.” You should be seeing the results from the basic stuff first, before you move to the more advanced.
Kenny: Brilliant. You will have heard us mention lead magnets a lot on the show today. If you want to learn more about lead magnets, go to episode seven on MagneticConsultant.com.
Now we’ve heard a lot about your lead magnet, the 21-word email. What’s the actual title of that?
Ian: It’s the 21-Word Email That Can Get You More Clients.
Ian: I think the title [01:00:48] [Indiscernible].
Kenny: And where can they go to get this?
Ian: If you just go to the home page at www.IanBrodie.com. It’s there. It will be – I have what’s known as a “Welcome Gate” which is a normal way – another way of getting a lead magnet across the very first time you visit. It will just basically offer you that lead magnet.
Kenny: Brilliant. So that’s IanBrodie.com and just one more question before we wrap up here. Who would you refer to come onto Magnetic Consultant Podcast next?
Ian: Who would I refer to come on to Magnetic Consultant Podcast? Good heavens! So that’s really good. For consulting, can I give you three names?
Kenny: Yes, absolutely. That’s brilliant.
Ian: Three names of people I know will be good, Steve Gordon. Oh, Steve Gordon, you’ve already got on, haven’t you?
Kenny: Yes, we have.
Ian: So I would refer you back to Steve. I live Steve’s stuff. I like a guy who Steve and I both know called Jason Leister, who writes the Art of Clients.
Ian: So Jason is good and he has quite a different approach to stuff. But he’s doing some really great work with – in the kind of consulting space. He’s an ex-copywriter by background. He used to do a lot for Rise to the Top. So his lead magnet is about pricing. It’s a really short one as well and probably Mike Zipursky as well, who writes Consulting Success. It’s quite a big website in Canada.
Ian: I don’t know if you know them.
Kenny: Yes, I do.
Ian: So I chat to Mike every now and then. So Mike is worth getting on, I think.
Kenny: Great. Did you have one more or was that Steve?
Ian: That was – yes, Steve. The next, I would probably recommend about 10 more people.