Every entrepreneur needs a healthy dose of two things: optimism and confidence. Of course, it takes much more than that (time, money, your sanity...) but if you're not confident in what you do, it's tough to make it as a business owner.
On this Content Marketer's Blueprint community Q&A, Dave Orecchio of Bristol Strategy Inc. shares how he bootstrapped his company from the ground up, selling CMB engagements with a specific process for qualifying leads and creating proposals. I think you'll get some real value out of the tips and strategies we discuss - I hit a few of the highlights after the jump.
What a retainer really is (4:09)
After Dave mentions early in the video that he charges separately for his time and content deliverables outside of the initial CMB strategy, it reminded me of a point lots of agencies are missing these days. A retainer isn't supposed to be a big Costco mega-pack of services sold at a flat rate. If you want to sell true retainers, clients should be paying to reserve your time. Some months they'll need it, some months they won't, but the retainer stays the same.
Unfortunately, not all agencies get this concept. Worse, if you do sell retainers as packages of services, you're bringing your business into the race-to-the-bottom commodity war. There's always someone cheaper.
How to sell consulting retainers (6:15)
So we know what a real retainer is - but how do you get one? Darin at Bernco Media asks this exact question, and Dave provides some great answers:
- Get them excited during the initial session. Dave charges an upfront cost for a discovery session where he asks questions and goes over buyer personas, triggers, and content ideas. The goal of this session is to get as much buy-in as possible from the client - make them feel as if they (not you!) have unlocked the key to their inbound marketing efforts.
- Don't email a proposal. After the discovery session, Dave asks the client if they want a proposal to execute what he just outlined. They almost always say yes (micro-commitments for the win!). He then schedules a call or video conference to walk them through each step of the proposal in a way that answers their questions and directly links the strategy with the value it brings.
- Tantalize them with what their marketing could be. Above all, at each stage of interaction with the prospect you must emphasize the results. Don't just tell them how great the car is - get them in the driver's seat, holding the steering wheel. Things like content titles, website mock-ups, and other highly visual elements are particularly helpful for this task.
Boxing your clients in (16:21)
Doug from Optimize 3.0 brings up a good question: how do you get clients to consistently answer questions and fulfill their obligations during the CMB execution? Dave brings up the idea of buy-in, which is important, but he also explains how he restricts client engagements by linking specific outcomes to each session. It's like putting a box or a ring of rocks around the client: you keep them on track to give you what you need to successfully drive their inbound marketing.
Should you still work with industries you don't know well? (21:37)
Roger from Accurate Media asks if it's worth executing the CMB for industries you don't know. Dave tells an interesting story about how he met a client at a HubSpot User Group (HUG) meetup based on a spur-of-the-moment recommendation from a former HubSpot executive. Even though he had no experience in the client's industry, their CMB engagement was a smashing success that led to several more engagements. The key point to remember, Dave says, is that the client has to know their own business well. Their knowledge of the industry is much more important than yours.
One word of caution: if the client is in a crowded vertical or doesn't have much organic traffic, they need to invest in SEO or paid advertising to see results.
We close out with a few more thoughts on Facebook ads and the relative competitiveness of inbound for different markets. Fun stuff as always! Hopefully you got some wisdom out of our session - and if you liked what you saw, check out Beers With Max for more juicy nuggets of sales and marketing wisdom.