Her move from client side to strategic marketing consultant came with the reward of saying “no” to things. We talk about creating boundaries in consulting engagements, the anatomy of her go-to marketing plan for software companies and an extremely simple way to reinforce what you DO NOT do.
“If it’s not your thing, introduce three experts in that field. This is a simple, genuine conversation to have”. - Kristen Ortwerth
Kristen Ortwerth is a fractional CMO & strategic marketing advisor with a passion for turning marketing departments and initiatives at B2B Software companies into key strategic assets. Results-driven, with a deep background in marketing technologies & methodologies that drive lead generation, customer engagement, brand awareness, and revenue growth.
Max Traylor: Welcome back to another episode of Beers With Max. I have learned about Boddingtons. It overflows no matter what. We're going to pour it quickly and as the cans suggests, we will wait for the head to subside. And while we wait, Kristen Ortwerth, everybody. Kristen, hello.
Kristen Ortwerth: Hello. How are you?
Max Traylor: I couldn't be better. What are you drinking today, Kristen?
Kristen Ortwerth: I am drinking a Boulevard Tank Seven. This is a lovely Tank Seven. I don't know how you pronounce it [inaudible 00:00:36]-
Max Traylor: [inaudible 00:00:40], I'm probably wrong too.
Kristen Ortwerth: I think you're probably more right than I am. You are more right than I am, but it's an ale. It is a high alcohol volume beverage, but it is a local Kansas City treasure and we love it here.
Max Traylor: Brilliant. And what do you do professionally?
Kristen Ortwerth: Professionally, I am a marketing consultant or advisor, as the case calls for. I've been in marketing, not my whole career, but certainly my career as a formal thing, started in the marketing profession. So I worked my way up from being a marketing assistant all the way to being a director of marketing for a very large organization and then went into the advising and consulting capacity because that's where I found I enjoy myself most.
Max Traylor: What do you enjoy about it most? If there's the directors of marketing out there, this seems to be a typical next step for them doing their own thing, but what do you enjoy most about what you do?
Kristen Ortwerth: Yeah, I think there are two paths you can take. You can take the corporate path, which is you continue climbing the ladder, you move into that VP/CMO/SVP, whatever the organization calls for there. I found that that tends to be much more of a bureaucratic role across the board. Everyone I've talked to, the skillset that they're looking for is somebody who is really good at managing personalities, managing expectations, spending a lot of time talking to the board, spending a lot of time explaining marketing to the various different stakeholders in an organization. And while I think there's a certain element of that in the consulting world, I've found a lot more freedom in the consulting world in terms of what projects I take on are up to me.
Kristen Ortwerth: If I go talk to a company and they tell me that they need marketing, but in talking to them, I learned that really that's not the problem, I get to walk away from that. I don't have to stay there and try to convince them that that's not the case. I can certainly start to try to convince them of that. But when it becomes clear that there's either a strong personality in sales or really they're looking for an easy button, they just want ... you can make it pretty and then it'll be better, that's not really going to work. Anyone who's in marketing knows that that's not how marketing works. Marketing is a much more scientific business than a lot of people who are not in marketing give it credit for. So for me, what I've found is it's that flexibility of being able to walk away from things when they're clearly not suited or not ready as well as just not the bureaucratic piece of it. That just doesn't sound like fun to me to go and sit in board meetings all day long. I don't know. There are people who really love it though.
Max Traylor: Well I love how simple the answer is. The freedom to say, "No."
Kristen Ortwerth: Yeah, it really is. It's the freedom to say, "That is not good and not for me," and I get to say, "No," to that. Yeah.
Max Traylor: Well, speaking of the freedom to say, "No," how about the people you seek out? How about the people you say, "Yes," to? I'm asking about focus. Focus as you know, a big theme of the show because I find the people that are focused in a practice area or focused on some specific strategy, magically don't have all of these debilitating challenges that agencies or consultants that try to be everything to everyone inevitably experience. [crosstalk 00:04:19] So where have you chosen to focus?
Kristen Ortwerth: Sure. For me it's more of a like, "I don't do this, I don't do that," which allows me again, focus. And I think I agree with you, it's been one of the things that I've found to be the most rewarding things in my career is to be able to say, "Look, this is a clear path. These are the boundaries of that path. We're headed this direction. What's at the end of this trail? No one knows. We're going to go explore that together, but we're also not going to spend a whole lot of time going down rabbit holes along the way. We're going this direction."
Max Traylor: So you don't spend or beat yourself up too much about where you're getting to, but you've got rules of the road, you don't speed, you don't veer off, you don't drive in dirt, driveways and mess up your car-
Kristen Ortwerth: Look out the window. You could do a little rubbernecking along the way if you have to, but really it's pretty obvious to me what I'm good at and what I'm not, and what the clients that are best suited for the kind of advice that I can give are like as well. So I work in the software world only. I do not help small businesses who are ... also small businesses. So they're all often referred to as startups, but I also don't get into that space, so we'll get to that in a second. But basically I work in the B2B space, so I help organizations that serve other organizations so they build technology solutions for other organizations. So it may be a blend of software and hardware. It may be just software, it may be software and services, whatever the case may be.
Kristen Ortwerth: Those are the organizations for whom I can offer a really good advice. I also don't into the startup game. So there are a lot of organizations that are young or new businesses, but I try to work with founder backed or owner operated organizations. The organizations that are backed by equity I've found don't have a really good head for the business. They don't understand. They already don't understand what's profitable, what's not profitable. And that's usually where the equity comes in to teach them that part of it. We teach them about the business itself and who they should be targeting and who they shouldn't. And usually those equity partners have agencies or in house entrepreneurs that help them with those things. So they're really not suitable clients for me. People who are suitable clients for me are especially software developers. So these are founder owners who are bootstrapped, which means they took a services model and created a piece of software out of it.
Kristen Ortwerth: Or they made their money in some other business and decided to build a piece of software. So those are the two types that I've run across most often. But really what it is is they had a great idea and they had either a developer friend or they learned how to code themselves or whatever the case may be. And they built this really useful tool and they took the approach, which is noble but stupid that if they build it and it's a great piece of software, surely everyone will tell their friends and we will become huge overnight. It will become a viral business sensation.
Max Traylor: I've seen that movie.
Kristen Ortwerth: Yeah, exactly. So in that case, it didn't work out that way, and I think there are cases in which that does happen. It's not the normal, right? That's not a business model.
Max Traylor: Like every successful Kevin Costner movie.
Kristen Ortwerth: Right, exactly.
Max Traylor: It's not normal.
Kristen Ortwerth: It's not normal. Somehow it works, somehow it works out. So anyway, usually what happens is these organizations get to a point where they start to realize, or they start to get feedback or they start looking at their competitors and thinking to themselves, "Wow, they're doing a lot better than we are and we can't quite figure out why because our product is better, our people are more dedicated, by the laws of what is right in the world, we should be doing better than them. So why aren't we?" And almost always they get to a place where it's sales and marketing are the part of it that they can't wrap their head around because they understand how the product should work. They understand the business problem that they solve, but they don't understand how to take that to market, how to communicate that broadly to an audience, how to identify which audience they need to talk to, where that audience lives, where they should go and try to find that audience out in the world.
Kristen Ortwerth: And so, there's that part of it, but there's also the component like branding. So many times, they've picked a logo or company colors because it was their college colors or their wife's favorite color, their favorite color, you name it. I'm working with a company right now that their logo, they picked those colors because they wanted to be sleek and modern. But really what they ended up with is something that is strangers them from their target audience, which is predominantly female, 35 to 55, you have to find a happy medium there.
Max Traylor: Well, so a quick question, it can have a quick answer, but give me an example of a client that you're most proud of or most representative, the client you want to duplicate. Or when somebody says, "Hey, can I talk to somebody?" This is the person that you give them.
Kristen Ortwerth: Honestly, there are a lot of these, but they always have what I consider to be a market leading product. So when I go out and do competitive analysis, there's nothing their product doesn't do better than any other competitors, right? So they have really thoughtfully gone out to the market already. They've talked to customers, they're really customer focused organizations that take their customer feedback very seriously and are still agile enough where when a customer says, "Hey, I need a product that does this thing," they can go into that product and within a couple of sprints or maybe a couple of months, they can have that functionality in the product and they're constantly vetting it with their customers already because their customer base is small enough and insular enough that they can make that happen.
Max Traylor: So it's like the best products that no one's heard of.
Kristen Ortwerth: Pretty much. Which sounds like a no brainer, but in the software business, that's the problem, right? No one has heard of these products and we're all business professionals. We all have tools that we use from a technological standpoint. You're using Zoom right now as your meeting tool, we all have word processes, whether it's Google docs or Word or what have you. There are all these tools that we use, but there are things about our business that we hate and as small business owners, some small business owners are really good salespeople and some small business owners are really good products and visionary people. But usually you don't see those two things together.
Max Traylor: So you've alluded to my next question. I want to learn what your perception is of the biggest challenges that these companies are having. And you did allude to marketing and sales, but maybe specifically within marketing, what do you find to be the major challenge that maybe you have to help them discover? Maybe they don't really understand what their biggest challenge is just yet.
Kristen Ortwerth: I think it's a message. They struggle so much with the message and how to position themselves in the marketplace. They struggle with the Simon Sinek's Golden Circle, the why. Why are we here? Why are we special? Why is it that we wake up and come to work every day? Money is not the answer to that question to make money is ... he says money is the result, it's not the reason. So helping businesses, that's one of the first things that I do when I go in as I ask, do you have a mission statement? And then if they have it, it's typically something that's not what most people would consider to be a mission statement. It's something, but it's not quite there and they know that, right? I'm not going in and telling them anything they don't already know, but they don't know how to get it there.
Kristen Ortwerth: They don't know the right questions to ask. They don't know the process by which you go about putting something like that together. And what I found, it usually takes about a day, honestly, it doesn't take much longer than that. They've been in this up to their elbows for years usually. And so they already know it. It's in their head. They just don't have a way of articulating it. And so one of the things that I find really rewarding is going in and giving them the tools by which they can articulate these things that they know in their soul to be true. So that to me is one of the things that I do that they really struggle with is it's just understanding where they fit in the market and articulating that very clearly to their target audience.
Max Traylor: Yeah. So what is your special sauce? What do you, what do you got in that noggin of yours? I hear a competitive analysis. I hear differentiated positioning. What has been that special secret sauce to solve these biggest challenges for your customers?
Kristen Ortwerth: I am extremely objective and I think that that is something that they really appreciate. I don't come in with an agenda. I come in like a sponge. I really want to soak in everything that they have to tell me. I want to go talk to their customers and hear everything that their customers want to tell me. I want to go talk to their competitor's customers and understand what it is that their competitor's customers have to tell me, which by the way is the secret sauce of any consulting firm. Because not only will your competitors customers talk to you, but the competitors will talk to you because they don't know whether you're representing a potential client of theirs or they have no idea.
Kristen Ortwerth: They treat you just like you're a representative of a prospect. So you get to be an objective third party in this space. And I think that no matter who you are, when you are focused on the details and the tactical elements of something, you can lose sight of that bigger picture. And what I found a lot of times is a lot of small business owners, that's what happens, right? They had the big picture at one point. They had it. I mean it's happened to me as a marketing professional, right? You walk into a new thing and you're like, "This is the big picture. This is why we're here. This is," ... and then you start to get caught up in the minor details of things and the tasks and this employee is fighting that employee, you get distracted from that. So it helps to have somebody come in with, whether it's a fresh tank or a different perspective or whatever you want to call it. It is that objective view of, "Here's where the market is right now. I'm not telling you this to hurt you. I'm not telling you this to help you. I'm just telling you how it is." And so I think that's one of the special things that-
Max Traylor: Well, you're in the top percentile because a lot of people don't recognize that when you get caught in the weeds, you can no longer be that strategic guide. You can no longer represent the strategic partnership, the indispensable partner to your clients. But if they do strategy, they'll touch on it and then get right into implementation tasks and all of a sudden they're the website person or the or the content creator. So I know you don't get bogged down in that kind of stuff. So tell me about what the clients do get do. Do you produce strategy for them? Is it a defined consulting engagement? If I was trying to hire you, what should I expect to come out of all this in depth research and the subjective attitude towards the big picture?
Kristen Ortwerth: Yeah, I give them a short-term, mid-term and long-term plan. So I give them an assessment. I do come in and I do a strategic assessment, which is basically like, "Here's the current state of things. Explain to me what's going right. I explained to him what's going wrong. I got to talk to their customers, go talk to competitor's customers, go talk to competitors where they will talk to you." And then look at the market landscape and, and just take a very holistic view of what is going on in this space. Where there are, you want to call it a SWOT analysis. There are a lot of different ways that you can describe it, and then I deliver, usually it's about an 80 page presentation. And in that presentation I describe to them current state, strength and I do a SWOT of their position in the market.
Kristen Ortwerth: And then I get into a deficit analysis, which is again, because of the clientele that I usually serve, they typically try to focus on the things that they're good at, which is the product development and understanding the customer's needs and building that, the technical aspect of it. And they have not been investing in marketing and so they're usually under invested in, it's what I call a deficit. They're in the hole. So we got to get them out of the hole and build the fundamentals that they need so that they can actually start doing the regular series of tasks that are involved in marketing programs. Because a lot of times, they don't even have the fundamentals to run a marketing program. They don't even know what their message is to build an advertisement, you know what I mean?
Max Traylor: You're saying one of the high level problems is they don't even have the budget out. Like why would you even make the recommendations if they don't understand the fundamental challenge of not allocating a budget towards solving this problem? I love that. What'd you call it? Deficit.
Kristen Ortwerth: It's a deficit. They're in a deficit. They're in the hole. They're already underspending.
Max Traylor: It's like a budget deficit disorder.
Kristen Ortwerth: It is. And they haven't been. It's chronic. So they have been under invested for a very long time. Whether it's the whole six years that they've been in business over the last three years, they probably built a website at some point. It was probably one of their employees that did it. This is a very common thing. So I go in and I put together a series of things that they need to do to get out of the hole. This is just to get you to baseline. And one of the things I do there too is typically a competitive analysis of their competitors spend. Often their competitors are larger than them.
Kristen Ortwerth: That's very common. But what they don't see is how far away they are from their competitors in terms of spend or investment, whatever you want to call it, for marketing. And so when I'm able to show them using SpyFu or other tools like that, just the advertising spend for some of their competitors, that is a really eye opening thing for a lot of them because in many cases their competitors are spending more than they make in a year. Their competitor is spending more on digital advertising than they make in revenue in a year. So that's usually a very okay eye opening thing that I do. You call it a slap in the face, but it's that kind of, "Okay, let's get back to reality. You hired me because you know there's a problem. Let me tell you how big this problem really is." And then I talked to them about, "It's not as bad as you think. Like that seems really bad, but it's really not as bad as you think." [crosstalk 00:18:53]
Max Traylor: Yeah. So my follow up question would be what's their reaction to that? Is it, :Oh my God, we need to spend this much," or is it more like validation that we need to be smart about our approach? We can't just throw money at the problem. We need to be much more strategic and much more focused if we are going to beat the [inaudible 00:19:15]?
Kristen Ortwerth: Yeah, it's both, right. So there's this ... you can kind of see it in their faces, right? There's just this moment of realization of how small they are. Again, because they've been so focused on the task and talking to their customers and things like that, there's a lot of shouting in the closet going on, right?
Max Traylor: Yeah, we're the best.
Kristen Ortwerth: [inaudible 00:19:33] We have more customers than we've ever had.
Max Traylor: Yeah, all 20 of them.
Kristen Ortwerth: Exactly. You have to 60 clients and 10 of them are going to leave because their business went out of business this year. Meanwhile your biggest competitor has 30,000 customers. So it is eye opening in that sense. But again, it's also giving them a light at the end of the tunnel. It's like that's not necessarily a bad thing.
Kristen Ortwerth: A, your competitors are spending too much money on marketing. Here are all the ways in which they are wasting money, which helps them feel better about themselves. It's not intentional. That's just the way it is. And it's not manipulative on my part. It just is the way ... they need to be reassured that they don't have to spend that much money. And I really genuinely believe they don't have to spend that much money. And again, marketing professionals that are in a large organization, they're dealing with a lot of inputs. They cannot possibly know every dime that they're spending. They can't possibly optimize every dime they're spending. I know they're expected to, but that never happens. There's no world in which that happens. So what you end up happening is you have an agency that's managing your ad spend and your agency gets paid based on how much you spend on advertising.
Kristen Ortwerth: And so it's in their best interest for you to spend money on advertising. So that typically does happen. So if you're not watching that very carefully and looking at the efficacy of your digital advertising programs, you start to run up those charges really quickly. And I've been there, right? I've been there as an in-house marketer where I looked at our ad spend and I was like, "We're spending how much money and we're getting how many? What? Wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute. We have to fix this." And usually it's brought to your attention by somebody else, right? Like it's either the CFO or something else that comes in and is like, "You're spending an awful lot of money on advertising. Is it really working?" And then you dig into it and you're like, [inaudible 00:21:19]-
Max Traylor: Well let's digress. I got excited and you had follow up questions, but you are saying that this was the first piece of your report was the deficit.
Kristen Ortwerth: Speaking of not going down rabbit holes, let's get back on track here.
Max Traylor: Well, we're drinking, we have an excuse.
Kristen Ortwerth: So the first piece is that deficit. So I'll give them whatever the projects are. It could be anything. They could have a website that's not working for them. They could have a lack of understanding of customer experience so they need a customer experience measurement program. There are a lot of different things and it will change. It will vary based on the organization and who they are and how they operate. So we get them back to that baseline. Usually that requires some sort of branding initiative as part of that, whether it's a total brand overhaul, like we're going to rename them, we're going to give them a new logo, we're going to do the whole thing. It may be partial where it's just messaging, it could be a logo and messaging, it could be just changing the color. It could vary.
Max Traylor: Get them to the, get them to baseline.
Kristen Ortwerth: Baseline.
Max Traylor: Get them back to ground zero.
Kristen Ortwerth: Exactly. Then we set up a pro forma for them. So it's like, "Now you're at baseline, here's what you can expect to spend and here's how you need to deploy those dollars." And so I lay that out for them and explain why. So you need to invest in an SEO professional, whether that be a solo practitioner or an agency, it does not matter to me. Here's how much I think you should spend on it. Go with God. Here are a couple of professionals I would recommend to you to use. I have a couple that I really like. Sometimes they're overwhelmed and I can't refer them business. But these are the specialists that you talk about. They get into the web design and the SEO and things like that.
Max Traylor: Is vendor evaluation ... I'm very curious because you can go in and recommend somebody, but when you recommend somebody now you're attached to these resources and a lot of these implementation resources, things go south because they're subjective, especially with website people, but so do you take the approach of teaching them how to evaluate vendors? Do you bring people in?
Kristen Ortwerth: I would either bring someone in or I would conduct the process myself. I would never teach them how to do it because-
Max Traylor: So you evaluate the vendors yourself?
Kristen Ortwerth: Yeah, I may give them tips. Like a lot of them don't know Upwork exists. Like just a simple thing like Upwork. So Upwork to me ... I think a lot of entrepreneurs, especially those were really tapped into their entrepreneur networks, are very familiar with Upwork. They've been using it for a very long time for a lot of different things. But you'd be shocked at how many-
Max Traylor: Yeah. So a little education around the state of the gig network and the different options they have and they're retaining you so you can also-
Kristen Ortwerth: Yeah.
Max Traylor: Okay, sorry. I digress, back to your story.
Kristen Ortwerth: Legit question. So that's part of it, right? Is explaining to them how to deploy those resources on that pro forma. If you want to hit these revenue numbers, here's what he needs to be prepared to invest in marketing, so start there. And then I put together, you can call it a five year plan. I align it to revenue goals. So depending on how long it's going to take them to get said revenue, it could be a 10 year plan, it can be a three year plan, it just depends on how quickly they scale. So I put together that revenue aligned plan for them. It's like a timeline of milestones, so when you hit this dollar in revenue, you can expect to start to have to invest in these specific things in marketing.
Kristen Ortwerth: When you hit this dollar value in annual recurring revenue, these are the things that you're going to add to your marketing programs, so on and so forth down the line. And I give that to them. That's the delivery, that's really the ultimate at the end of everything, here's your plan for marketing. Here are all the people you are going to need the hire along the way. Here are all the part time resources you need the hire along the way. Here are all the platforms and tools that you're going to need to weave into that mix along the way. And I just give them a blueprint for building their marketing for the long-term or near term.
Max Traylor: What do you do after that? [crosstalk 00:25:43] Well, you don't become their full time resource, but how does the consulting, the ongoing consulting engagement work?
Kristen Ortwerth: I usually help them through the ... All of those early programs that I recommend to get them to baseline, I help them make sure that they get to baseline. I say, "All right, you're in the hole, let's get you out of the hole." And then once we get to baseline, usually at that point, that's when they hire a full time marketing coordinator type person because by the time they're at baseline, they have a predictable revenue stream. They understand how their marketing investments are paying out, which I try to get them to a place where they're at two and a half, X. So whatever their marketing spend is, they're bringing in two and a half times what they're spending on marketing. So they feel comfortable that that investment in marketing is worthwhile. And I show them, I also help them build dashboards and reporting mechanisms so that they can feel comfortable and confident that when they invest dollars in marketing, there's a reason. It's not just money down the hatch. I think a lot of-
Max Traylor: So what are the rules of the road and it's just a follow up question because I've got some other stuff I want to ask. But the rules of the road, how do you know you're drifting away from strategic advisor consultant? How do you make sure that the engagements don't get too out of control, that you're not getting sucked into the ether?
Kristen Ortwerth: That one is very personal to me and it's because I get bored. If I'm starting to feel bored, I know that I've veered too far off of my prime objective and the prime directive for me is don't get into the weeds and-
Max Traylor: So I get that. But do you go to your client and say, "Look, I'm bored. We've got to do something about it." Or how do you-
Kristen Ortwerth: No, that never happens. I would never go to a client and say, "I'm bored, you're boring." That's like going to your spouse and saying, "I don't love you anymore."
Max Traylor: But I can, I can feel my audience going, "Yes, there's shit that I'm bored with. I got to stop doing it and I got to have the rules of the road." So how do you deal with it?
Kristen Ortwerth: That's not that hard a conversation. It's just a like, "Hey, I found three people who specialize in this. Let's talk to them." It's really simple, right? I position them as being the authority in that thing because they are, I'm not the authority [inaudible 00:28:16] it's a very genuine conversation.
Max Traylor: So if you don't want to do it ... I've found it. Okay, here it is via you. We've made the discovery. If you don't want to do something, you have to introduce the expert at that thing.
Kristen Ortwerth: It's simple. And that's the case for everyone, right? It's like, I don't like mowing my yard. Do you know what? I have a guy named Aaron. He's an expert. He's so awesome at mowing my yard. Why would I ever buy a lawn mower?
Max Traylor: The guy mowing my lawn, if he came to me and said, "I don't want to mow your lawn anymore." That's a big problem for me. If you came to me and said, "You know what, let me introduce you to the best lawn mower I know." I'd go, "Sure, when can he fricking get here?"
Kristen Ortwerth: By the way, here's three other clients that say he's the best. And they're right down the street, these three clients are right down the street.
Max Traylor: Who are you? Can you look at my bushes and my ... I would love ... anyway, brilliant.
Kristen Ortwerth: Going down that path of that analogy, if you go ask your yard guy if he can help you with this tree that's diseased in your backyard, he's going to be like, "Oh, that's not my thing. I know this guy that does it though." It's that same thing with marketing because what I will have happen is one of the things that I found is with a strategic marketing piece, because I know so many professionals in the marketing space, it's really easy for me to say, "Okay, you need this SEO expert. You need that guy that is a digital ad agency you need," ... that's a pretty easy thing. That's a very easy conversation.
Kristen Ortwerth: What's harder is when I started getting pulled into HR, when I started getting pulled into sales, when I started getting pulled into ops, like the operational aspects, which is like, "Can you set up our CRM?" Like, "No. Let me find you an ops person to do that. There's somebody who's way better at that than me." But because it's new to me sometimes I don't realize ... I don't know if new to me is the right word, but because it's out of my wheelhouse, I don't notice that I'm getting pulled in that direction. And so that I think is the harder part for me. And that's where the lines get very blurry. Especially when you're talking about things like core values and mission and you start to get pulled into the HR part of things.
Max Traylor: I think it was David Baker's book, Business of Expertise, but I might be mistaken, something along the lines of you're defined more so by what you say, "No," to than what you say, "Yes," to. So what I love that's happening is that you're reinforcing what you do do best. You're reinforcing how you're unique and why they should trust you by saying, "No," to these other things. If you were to say, "Yes," to everything, then you're just another vendor that's trying to sell as much as possible, like the ad agencies that everyone's gotten so sour about.
Kristen Ortwerth: Yeah. And I've worked with really good ad agencies, I've worked with some ad agencies that are questionable. I've worked with ad agencies that I know are good, but I probably got personnel from them that were not. You know what I mean? Like every color of the rainbow there. And I've worked with solar practitioners, same deal. But the ones that I've worked with that I've always really liked working with, they have a box that's like this. "I do this, I do this, I do this. I don't go this way. I don't go this way. What I will do is explore this way and infinitely. I will go infinitely in the direction."
Max Traylor: Deep but not broad.
Kristen Ortwerth: Right, deep but not broad. And those folks to me are worth their weight in gold because I know that my clients don't need everything and they don't need to be good at everything. Maybe the space they're in requires them to be really good at organic because their competitors are spending a lot of money on paid. So they need to be really, really good at organics. So let's throw $20,000 or $50,000 or 600,000, whatever it is at organic and be ranked first for all these really high value keywords instead of playing the game that all the competitors are playing. But that doesn't mean you need both, right? You don't need both of those. You don't necessarily need an amazing trade show strategy. You just don't necessarily need those things. And there are others for whom the trade show strategy-
Max Traylor: You need to know what you're best at. And then like you're saying, have relationships with other complementary specialists that are worth their weight in gold as you put.
Kristen Ortwerth: Yeah. Yeah. And again, it goes back to the thing with the clients. Do they know who their audience is? Do they even know how their audience prefers to consume information? Usually the answer is no. Usually they're like, "I know what my audience needs." And then they'll list off seven functions that they're ... they need accounting, they need this and that, which is not the same thing. It's those two things are totally different.
Max Traylor: Well, we've gotten into the proverbial weeds as it were, but I've enjoyed my beer and even more so what we've been talking about. So fine, little longer than normal. I don't care. I want to ask you about what you're trying to make progress on. So if you were sitting here three years from today, looking back, how would you know that you've made progress? Is it financial? Is it your personal freedom? Is it your contribution to clients? Where does your compass tell you to go? People talk about growing. I don't know what that means. So tell me what growing means to you.
Kristen Ortwerth: So I talked to you a little bit about this before, but for me it's not about the money. And I know that that's a weird thing to say. I make enough money where I am content. I get to buy the things I want to buy, I get to go the places I want to go. So for me, it's not about financial success. It's not about having all the clients in the world. That's not what it's about for me. Honestly, three years from now, if I have a load of brand new CEOs who worked with me at their last company, and when I say CEOs, I mean founders. But basically what I want to have happen is I have positioned those folks for success such that they have sold their businesses off to either a competitor or an investor and they have made a boatload of money on it and now they've come up with a great new idea for a great new business and they're building a new product and they want me to come help them the same way. To me, that success is that it's repeat business. It's not immediate repeat business, but it's definitely clients who saw what we did together and said, "Okay, I'm going to focus on the product. I have exactly the gal, but I want to bring in to help me with the other thing and I'm going to bring her in earlier than last time."
Max Traylor: It's kind of like your contribution, but it's more so than that. It's, it's the contribution of the individual. It's the relationship and the vision of the future is you'll have such powerful relationships based on your contribution that it'll almost be effortless. These people will work with you forever. They're serial entrepreneurs. When they're successful, once they're going to do it again and again and again. And when they bring you in, there's no resistance at that point. They're just do what Kristen says.
Kristen Ortwerth: Right. Well let's get to that part of it too. But it's also for me, right? I've already worked with them so I know what kind of person they are. I know what makes them tick. I know the things I need to ... I know the landmines to avoid with them. I don't have to learn all of that with a whole new CEO because entrepreneurs have a lot of threads that are in common, but they all have different buttons, right? They all have different buttons that set them off.
Max Traylor: Different baggage, yeah.
Kristen Ortwerth: Correct, right. And they all became entrepreneurs for the same reason. And I care what entrepreneur you talked to, they all became entrepreneurs for the same reason. They hate working for other people and working for other people is different kinds of baggage, really. Honestly, that's what it comes down to you. So I like surrounding myself with people who add value to my life and so that is the case. If I get those entrepreneurs coming back to me, and oftentimes they're serial entrepreneurs, right? They sell the business, they have a great new idea, they start a business. That's a very common laundry process. And so to me that would be success is having them come back and say, "Hey, you're a trusted advisor for me forever." Yeah.
Max Traylor: I've really enjoyed our conversation. Let's imagine your perfect customer, the serial entrepreneur was listening. How do they find you? How did they get in contact with you?
Kristen Ortwerth: I do have a website. It's kristenortwerth.com, it's that simple and that difficult because I know there are a lot of consonants in my name. It's a German. It is what it is. You can also reach out to me on LinkedIn. I'm a huge, huge LinkedIn person. That's how you found me. So either of those two methods is probably the easiest way to get in touch with me.
Max Traylor: Brilliant. Thank you so much. For those of you listening, all the normal cheeky things that I say, except I'm not going to say them, so see you next time. Thanks.