Lauren has spent 20 years on the client and agency side of strategy. With a focus on category analysis and media planning for health and wellness organizations, she knows how to productize and sell a “thing” to win the agency game. We talk about her journey, her unique methods and the dying time and materials model for agencies.
“If you stay on a hourly, time and materials basis, you can’t win that game”. - Lauren Boyer
Lauren Boyer is the Chief Executive Officer of Underscore, and she has championed Underscore into a solutions-based media company, exhibits many admirable qualities of leadership, and challenges every one of her employees to do the strongest work they can.
She has been the recipient of multiple awards for entrepreneurialism and leadership, is on the board of Entrepreneurs Organization (EO), an active KPMG/University of Michigan QuantumShift Fellow, and has been recognized as one of the top 50 female entrepreneurs by Inc. Magazine.
Max Traylor: Welcome to a delicious, I never say that. Welcome to a delicious episode of Beers with Max. That's how we'll do it. Guinness. Thank you me. I prepared. I came with something. I came with something good and I found someone, ladies and gentleman, I found someone we're all going to want to listen to, Lauren Boyer. Lauren, what are you drinking today?
Lauren Boyer: Today I have the Moscow mule. So happy to be here.
Max Traylor: And you said you took some liberties with it or you care to share?
Lauren Boyer: I take liberties with a few things in life. And this is one of them. So this would be mostly vodka, but the polar seltzer that has the ginger and lime mixture in it. The essence of, if you will, is what we've got going on. And I just a splash of kombucha.
Max Traylor: Really?
Lauren Boyer: Yeah.
Max Traylor: Just for the essence? What do you do professionally when you're not mixing up essence and passion into stainless steel glasses? I'll stop talking.
Lauren Boyer: So then I'm mixing up essence and passion into spreadsheets.
Max Traylor: And you're charging for it, brilliant.
Lauren Boyer: Right. So what we're doing is, Underscore Marketing is the name of the company and it's been around for years. What we started out doing was coming up with the best mix of media for clients that wanted any kind of media. And then over the years we've really honed in on figuring out what media pays out from a return on marketing investment perspective for health and wellness companies. And doing that in a very unique way, which I'm sure we'll get into.
Max Traylor: So why do you know more about the proper media mix for health and wellness companies than anybody else? How did you get there? Is it just like licking your finger and pointing up at the wind or do you do research? Do you do studies? How have you accumulated this knowledge base?
Lauren Boyer: I wouldn't say we know more than anybody else. We're not arrogant. We're not egomaniacs.
Max Traylor: Well, that's me taking my liberties. If you're allowed to mix your drink, I'm allowed to take liberties with...
Lauren Boyer: That's fine. But I wouldn't want someone to get the wrong impression. I think that looking at strategy the right way and taking different insights from a research perspective, putting them together in a way that's logical and rational. Insights like what is going on in your market for your brand? Where does your brand play in that market? What's happening with the person that is using your product or service? What is their experience like? What do they want and need? Who's around them? What have they tried before? Has it worked or not worked? Oftentimes we're talking about pharmaceutical products. So with that being the case, there's a treatment continuum. So what doctor do they have to see? Is it a specialist? Do they have to go and fail on a couple of medications before they can have yours? And what's that like?
Lauren Boyer: How open are they to even thinking about this? And are they somebody that's really involved in their care or not? And understanding a lot of these different dynamics, including what's out there in media, what do people in this state experience media wise? And you're going to find a lot of differences. So somebody that's suffering from more of an endemic condition or a condition that's more common, like diabetes, is going to have a very different experience in day to day life than somebody that is an oncology patient experiencing chemotherapy. So thinking about where to find them.
Max Traylor: Well agenda wise, we're going to get into what makes you unique, this unique knowledge set that you have around health and wellness and what you do. But then the closet agenda of this show is to inspire people to charge for their knowledge and not be gobbled up in commodity land because everyone and their brother is starting marketing agencies and they're freelancers. And there's no profit in the pushing of the buttons and the doing of commoditized work. The success is going to come from folks like yourself that focus and really understand what makes them unique and harnessing that knowledge and selling it. So we'll talk about business models, long way of saying that.
Max Traylor: But first, how'd you land on health and wellness? Was it always a focus in that area or was it like an evolution starting with trying to do everything for everyone and then leading into health and wellness? Because a lot of people are jumping on the niche bandwagon and they missed the point of they have to have passion in it, they have to have experience in it. There's a lot of people doing research and trying to find what their calling is rather than just taking a look inside. Anyway, how'd you land there?
Lauren Boyer: So we were picking up the phone anytime anybody called. Really. And what that ends up doing, if you're trying to get something that's very nuanced to a client as your product, and there's a lot of customization, you kind of have to know every industry pretty deeply to be able to participate in that level of conversation.
Max Traylor: Or you have to take the hit and learn it new every time.
Lauren Boyer: Right. And so there's so many nuances that we were taking the hit every single time. And then what we did was step back and say, well, when does it feel comfortable? And not that we don't want to stretch out of our comfort zone and continue to learn and grow, which we do. But there are degrees of that. So if we decided to narrow in an industry, or a band of industries if you will, that give us enough license to keep growing and to keep learning, we can learn many, many nuances of something that's at the highest level, one category versus trying to be a Jack of all trades.
Max Traylor: Well, you can tell at the beginning of the interview, it was coming out of your pores. It was like you live, you eat, you sleep, you breathe, all this stuff that you've learned about consumers and buyers and in the healthcare space. So that's it. That's why.
Lauren Boyer: That's why, yeah. We looked at those five or six people that were on staff at the time. It was probably more like 12 and said, who's in your Rolodex? Because really at that time we still had them. So I've been around a while and that's a good thing. And when we looked at commonalities, all of the people that we tended to naturally gravitate towards client-wise and business-wise were health and wellness. So it was one of those things that was probably obvious from an outsider's perspective, but we couldn't see it in ourselves. And once we landed there things took off.
Max Traylor: Product companies you said were usually or within health and wellness, those are the most exciting, is that right?
Lauren Boyer: So it could be a manufacturer. We do anything from over the counter drugs to pharmaceutical drugs and looking at health on a broader spectrum. It could be nutritional supplements, it could be gyms, hospitals, medical devices. So there's a pretty wide net that's in the health and wellness area, but really has to do with knowing what people do with relation to their health and how they treat others who might not be well and how they support them. And then also knowing the other side, how things get treated. So how insurance companies provide coverage of different kinds of medications and how doctors prescribe different kinds of medications. So knowing full circle what that continuum looks like, gives us the ability to go into any kind of product situation that's in the realm and say, well that's interesting, we can find the best audience because of the perspective that we have across the board.
Max Traylor: Yeah. So once people solve the problem of trying to be helpful to everyone and focusing on something, the second area they screw up is trying to do everything under the sun. The full service agency. They might as well just say we are not profitable, right there on the website. And I have here in my notes that you are not a full service agency. You said that, it's in my notes.
Lauren Boyer: We are not.
Max Traylor: What do you do, what do you not do?
Lauren Boyer: So we do media, which is, in our minds, a lot of different types of efforts. So everything from the strategic piece, research piece, looking at who the audience should be, where the focus should be all the way through to planning, negotiating the buys, executing the buys and measurement. And we think that that's a lot. So you want to add the creative piece to that? What are you crazy?
Max Traylor: Yeah, why don't we build some websites for people?
Lauren Boyer: And the mindset of somebody that is in the research realm or doing negotiation on media or understanding what's going on in the media industry and actively working with reps that have innovation to bring, is not the mindset that's coming up with the cool copy. They're just different people. And so this full service agency concept is interesting, but they're always very different groups within it. So all that means is it's the same leadership and their profit margin is typically a lot lower.
Max Traylor: But we all celebrate because there's a higher top line revenue because they come to you and say, "Oh well you built our website. Can you also build us content for zero profit margin and can you also manage our technology for 10 cents on the dollar?" Anyway, you know what, conspiracy theories aside, I don't want to beat up... Bless them. They work hard, they make no money.
Lauren Boyer: I think they're great. We partner with them every day. I'm just happy that they do what they do and they let us do what we do and we can come together very collaboratively. It works really well. But we don't have to be at each other under one roof. There's no competition. It's synergistic when we'd come to the table independently.
Max Traylor: Yeah, so it sounded like the core value that you bring to the table is in the research, is in the knowledge which then can be applied to planning, negotiation and so forth. Talk to me about that. Let's open up, let's share the secrets.
Lauren Boyer: I'm going to show you. Here's my secret. We have [inaudible 00:09:44], you can't see them.
Max Traylor: Yeah. It says core values. For those of you listening to the podcast, it says core values. It's colorful. There's six pieces.
Lauren Boyer: Basically it's like a little placemat and we give to all of our employees to put under their laptop and it outlines our five core values and the first of which is top notch expertise. We don't hire anybody that can't become an expert in their discipline. Not to say we don't hire people that are coming out of school and train them. We do that, but we also have a stable of people who are absolute experts. And one of the biggest core values that I think helps us and sets us apart is this one called API, assuming positive intentions. So if you've been in a client agency dynamic before, it can feel really critical and really dark sometimes when you're in a presentation showcasing the work your team has done for weeks and the client's sitting there with a red pen out, maybe not quite literally but figuratively, or the poking holes approach where it's like, what about this? What about that? It doesn't feel safe.
Lauren Boyer: It doesn't feel collaborative. Sometimes it feels like people are throwing darts at your baby. And when we come to the table assuming positive intentions, what that means is taking yourself out of it being your baby and not being able to be evolved into something that works for everybody or is better because more people collaborated with you. It gets you to a different place. So when you hear the client's question and you've got that perspective, what you're hearing is the question. You're not making it about yourself. You're not making it about your work. It's not you versus them. It's, Oh, interesting. Why are you asking that? And they can have a real conversation that gets you to a place of a much better product. So I think that's been a real game changer for us. And especially when you're working in a collaborative with a lot of different agencies, he asked this or he sat next to this one or that one.
Lauren Boyer: It's like, you know what? Everybody's trying to get this project done in the best way possible. And if you constantly remind yourself that we're just people. We're coming to work, we're doing the best we possibly can, we're bringing our A game. And there might be people that have different, they have maybe a different objective than we do, but it doesn't mean that they're against us. I think when you take that level of thinking and just cast it to the side and have a drama free zone in your work, you get a lot of really great results and effort.
Max Traylor: Well I would call that Co-creation. I talk about co-creation a lot and number one, people don't want to follow through on your ideas. They want to feel like it's their idea. That's why we do workshops. That's why we ask questions rather than tell people things. But it's a heck of a benefit to your own innovation and product development to assume that, even though you are the experts and you do everything you can to hire the smartest people and then you do the research, you know what to do, but there's always an opportunity to improve. And so stepping out of the individual client engagement and going, wait a minute, what can I learn here today that's going to benefit all of my clients? I like it.
Lauren Boyer: Well and just because somebody has a different opinion doesn't mean they're wrong. So how can you stop yourself and say, huh, that's not wrong. Maybe I disagree with it and I have a valid reason. That's a conversation and a dialogue and that's when I feel like there's a true collaboration where we can get to the next level and take something from good to absolutely fantastic.
Max Traylor: Brilliant people like yourself have a formula, a method that they go through every time. It's highly tailored to clients. But there's categories of intelligence that, in the strategy documentation is usually organized like that. And maybe you've named it the health care buying, I don't know, I'm in a lapse of creativity today, but is there a methodology that we could talk about that you give presentations on and there's Ted talks and there's a book and it's kind of like the core, like your life's work is in a picture of three things or something?
Lauren Boyer: I think there's a few pictures, but I think that's just because there's different phases of the types of things that we deliver. So what we did was we productized the strategic process and we call it media design. It's called media vision, and also media design. There's a kind of a big version and a slimmed down version for those that can't take on the full strategic engagement and endeavor, because sometimes that's a little bit overwhelming and involves more than what they're willing to put into it. But what we find is when we segment things into steps and stages and we facilitate, kind of like what you were talking about before, letting people's ideas from the brand organization and the client side come through as opposed to standing on a podium, being experts and having to be right. What we get is something that works really well for the organization.
Lauren Boyer: So it's about moderating and mediating the people that attend these different events. It's about showing them what's available to them. So part of this is coming in and doing an onboarding session, a step one, and getting all the stakeholders in the room so that we can work with them. So everybody's expectations are aligned and we get the benefit of knowing what their expectations are and also what their biases are. Because what happens is sometimes we don't uncover biases early enough and you get all the way down the path. You'd go in and present what you think is the best thought out and best laid plan. And then somebody says, but we would never do that kind of media. And you're like, oh, okay, talk to me about why and let's pull up that other deck that's in the pocket here.
Lauren Boyer: But if we bring people together and we probe on that early on, sometimes we find out that the bias is something that should be overcome and we can work with clients on, look, I know you're looking at that medium a little bit differently. Let's talk about how that's evolved and let's talk about why it might deserve a second shot now. So just being able to work with people on their own views and understand them, it helps to get a better plan. And then we have a second part where we help them understand what innovation is. People like to use words that are very broad. So plan conjures up an image in your head and mind that are probably very different. And innovation probably does the same thing.
Lauren Boyer: So when a client says, I really want innovation, what we do is create a day session where we bring in several different media vendors, different kinds of media, and showcase for them what we think is innovative that's relevant to their brand. It doesn't mean that we're buying it all, it means this is what we mean by innovation. Do you agree? And what about this, do you think is something you'd want to chase or something you'd want to avoid? So then we have another dialogue and conversation about what did that mean. We also can take that opportunity to enroll a lot more people in the organization. So when there's vendors coming in to present shiny objects, a lot of people want to come out and sit in on that and see it, and that helps us get the larger company enrolled with the marketing team so they can showcase and highlight what they're doing for the business. So a lot of dynamics are built into our strategic approach that help to enroll the client organization and not just lead the client down the path that is our linear thinking.
Max Traylor: The one day, do you call it an exposure session? I mean that's got weird connotations to it.
Lauren Boyer: No, that's a little bit weird.
Max Traylor: Looking at my notes. I'm reading it. I'm like, that's not the way I would say it but here I am saying it.
Lauren Boyer: We call it Media day.
Max Traylor: Would you like to attend Exposure day? No, I'm feeling under the weather.
Lauren Boyer: A lot of people should not be exposing themselves in a big public setting. So we don't want to have that.
Max Traylor: And you're bringing in strangers, which is even more aggressive.
Lauren Boyer: There's a lot of danger inherent in that model. So what we do is we call it Media day and really we coach the people that are coming in to not be self-promotional. To highlight their innovation and what their organizations are doing and focus on their differentiators and not focus on themselves, and the clients get a lot of value out of that.
Max Traylor: What value do you get on the vendor side? I've got some conspiracy theories, but I love bringing in complimentary consultants and vendors into client engagements because there's always a reciprocation. Whether they get the business or not. There's a lot of people saying, I'm going to bring you into a client engagement. Very rarely do they. So meeting somebody with a regular practice of bringing in outsiders to client engagements, is there a reciprocation or do they bring you into client engagements? Do they co-market with you? What kind of leverage do you have in those relationships?
Lauren Boyer: I wouldn't look at it like that. And we don't, we're pretty agnostic. We're looking for the right solution so we don't own the client. So we also don't want the client to be so naive about what we do, that they have a hard time evaluating how we're doing it. We want them to know that we're awesome and the only way they can know that is by having a little sampling of it here and there. So when they see what kind of heavy lifting we do to get the media folks ready from a vendor perspective to present to their organizations, they realize they don't want to do that. They're happy that somebody else can.
Lauren Boyer: And when they realize that the deck that the Google rep brought in, that was one to one when they took the lunch with them, it was a very different deck than the one that we screened for them and made all valuable to their business and all realistic. They really appreciate that that was a better use of their time than sitting with their rep that had everything but the kitchen sink in the proposal and was looking at how much can I push, how much can I sell? Versus here's the right solution for you and had some guardrails and had some guidance on it.
Max Traylor: Well, it only solidifies your position on this strategic and decision making side because you're showing that you can make outside vendors more valuable to the organization. You are not one of those doers. You're not that vendor. You're somebody to make all vendors more valuable.
Lauren Boyer: That's right. That's right. And we wouldn't allow a vendor in who wouldn't be a strategic match for them in the first place. So it's about making sure that we're maximizing their time and focus because we realize, even though media is a big budget item, it's not the sexiest thing in the world. It's not the thing that they're spending most of their day on and they're trusting us to get it done. So we want to give them exposure. We want to give them good perspective, not to toot our own horn, but so that they can evaluate whether or not we're doing what they need from us and getting everything achieved that they're looking to achieve.
Max Traylor: Now I'm interested in the other things that I don't know about, because that didn't come up in our last conversation. So here's a couple things that I thought were interesting. You've got your healthcare predictions, you've got your product driven, tailored insights. But let me ask you this, what are you excited about? The exciting stuff you do with clients, the way you've... My brand, I get really excited about the way that you've packaged services for clients. And I always talk to people about, well you've got strategy engagements, you've got ongoing consulting engagements, which are the retainer version of strategy, but you could be licensing things, you could be doing one-to-one workshops, you could be doing group workshops at industry events. What are some of the things that you're excited about? And I guess that's the question.
Lauren Boyer: Yeah. So I love our products because they were born out of a way to easily deliver what clients need without having to play this staffing plan game, which is actually kind of useless. And when you sit around making a staffing plan matrix and then procurement comes in and they want to evaluate who's doing what, to what degree, at what price, what's the deliverable? This is to me a big time suck. It's a big effort on the part of the agency partner and it really doesn't, if anything, it diminishes what the end result is. When we package something into a product and say, well, what you're going to get is a very clear strategy on build it or buy it. We call it a CAB analysis, category and benchmarking analysis, build it or buy it means you're a marketer, we're a media company. You have many different options that are outside of what we're looking at.
Lauren Boyer: Maybe you should do some of those and you've got a million other people telling you that you should definitely do some of those. Maybe you should do some of the things in the media realm that we can bring to bear for you, but let's figure that out with some concrete data. So what we do is we go to market and we look at what consumers or, in the case of some of our clients, healthcare providers are doing, what actions are they actually taking with media? What detail can we provide there? And what we see based on paths on the web and using digital as a proxy is where people are consuming data and what kinds of data. And then when we understand what they're looking for, we can say, well wait, when they're clicking through on these different types of data questions that they have, where are they ending up?
Lauren Boyer: Are they ending up at a third party website that is already some kind of expert or trusted resource there or advisor? Or are they ending up at a branded website? And if the answer is they're ending up on your competitor's site all the time and you can trump that and here's how to do it, then we can tell them how to use SEO to do that. Or how to do other things that would increase their exposure in the real world, that's not digital and offline. If a lot of times the ultimate user that they're going after is on third party sites and those sites take advertising, it's really clear that they're never going to win. Those clients are spending millions and millions of dollars getting the audiences that they have and monetizing those audiences. How are you going to compete with that as a small brand? So that's where you advertise.
Lauren Boyer: It's like build it or buy it. So when I say buy it, I mean go advertise on the site because you can't build it, you won't win in that environment. But there's definitely pockets for every single brand of where you can win. And what we enable with our analyses with CAB is to understand the allowable costs for content. And when you do that equation, it's like, okay, you could spend $30 000 for this content segment or a cost per click, to look at the counter side of that is X. And you start doing the math and it becomes really clear where you want to focus your efforts and your dollars as a marketer. So having been on the client side for many years before I came back to the agency side, that's something I would have appreciated.
Lauren Boyer: Just help me understand why I'm buying media over here and then developing this content site over there. If I'm trying to spread my investments so that I win and I do more winning than losing, I want to make sure that I have some kind of intel to help guide me there. I don't want to just check the box and look at tactics because I've heard of them or they seem shiny. I want real information behind me. So I'm excited about CAB because it gives the marketer real information on whether they should be building content and what kind of costs they should expect there or if they want to break even, where they should stay for development and if they want to advertise, where they can win with advertising.
Max Traylor: It's a navigation tool.
Lauren Boyer: Absolutely. Yeah, but it's strategic too. And I like when strategy has a lot of data with it that doesn't feel like some guru shooting from the hip.
Max Traylor: The biggest complaint that I see and, especially with everyone is it's a power struggle here. It's a power vacuum, whatever you want to call it, for strategy in the marketing side. Sales consultancies are investing in this. Management consultants are seeing the opportunity. They're trying to build out marketing practice. Even investors, angel investment firms that they've been for 10 years now trying to develop marketing practices. Anyway, the biggest need, the biggest complaint I suppose, is that strategy has traditionally not been actionable. Lots of data, and of course data is valuable, but the conspiracy theories and the reason marketing firms might win is because they have experience on the implementation side, regardless of if they take action on that, which I wouldn't from a profit margin side. But management consulting is not actionable because they don't have that experience. Are your relationships with the vendors and does that make it actionable or what is the next step once you have determined the areas where they can win? How does your relationship with the client evolve after that?
Lauren Boyer: So we also execute and we've found that, through the way that we do it and having a clear process and having the organization split up and organized in the way that we do, we can get things done very efficiently and effectively. And we think that if we stopped executing, even if it's a loss leader, even if we don't make money, but we break even on execution, it enables us to deliver the strategy and create innovative products and give clients better solutions. Because if we stop doing it, we lose all of the perspective of what the real world is like. And if we stop having those conversations with vendors and we stop understanding what's really going on inside the industry, we're just an outsider just like the client.
Lauren Boyer: So we've got to be in there having those dialogues and seeing what's going on. And the only way we can do that is if we're bringing money into the market. Otherwise we're not in the club. So it doesn't matter if we're the biggest investor in media or not. What matters is that we have the right relationships in health and wellness because that's the kind of media that we need to buy and we need to understand what's the upper bound pricing and the lower bound and where can our clients expect to be if they're going to execute on our strategy.
Max Traylor: You have a very different relationship with implementation services. Most people look at it as their livelihood. This is how we make money. And they run around in circles looking for profit margins that aren't there. But what you're talking about is product development, is inspiration. Innovation. You're the implementation business is only there, like you said, even if you don't make money, it's there for product development. It's there so you're relevant. It's there so you can continue to build the stable of expertise. So that's a fundamental difference. My listeners will go, well in the back of Max's head, he's gone, that's dog shit. But no, I agree with all of you who know me. This is when implementation is okay. Is when you're not looking at it as, where the profit Mark? Anyway.
Lauren Boyer: Yeah, I agree with you and it's not like I started knowing that. I've been running this business now for 15 years and it's strange to say that because it feels like yesterday, but the fact is 15 years ago I didn't know which part of the business could make me money. I just knew that you wouldn't invest media without a strategy. We had to do it. And if we didn't measure the results at the end of the day, how do we know the strategy worked or how do we refine what we're going to do next? So it just was a very logical way to approach things for me. And then that seemed unique to people. What do you focus on, results? You focus on making sure strategically it's sound and then it can yield from the beginning? And I'm kind of like, well yeah. And every now and then we get a client that says, but we just want the flow chart. Okay, great. I don't know, I guess you could probably download one online. [inaudible 00:29:57].
Max Traylor: Well you seem pretty enlightened on the subject, so I don't usually ask this question, but where do you think you provide the most value for the least amount of effort? It's a return on effort question. What part of the business, most value to the client, least amount of effort?
Lauren Boyer: I think in analytics because we really understand how to track the campaign so, well I know you're not a fan of execution. The tracking piece is a really big piece and what we've been able to do for the clients pretty simply is look at all of the execution that they're doing in marketing, not just the media stuff that we're managing, but everybody's that's at the table from an integrated marketing perspective and create dashboards. And it's pretty basic. We're using visualization software like Tableau to help them see it and drill down into what's important. And then we're helping them strategically because we did the roadmap. So we've done all the heavy lifting in the front of the campaign already. We have all of those things to bring to bear. And we're literally just validating things at that point. But here it is in a visual format and here it is in a dashboard that you can look at anytime you want. You don't need us for it. So I think it's enabling them to see what's working and what's not.
Max Traylor: So the analysis is really decision support. I wouldn't consider, I mean it is done during the implementation phase, but if you're running a quarter mile, there's the person running, expelling the energy and there's the person sitting with the stopwatch going, here's how you can improve. Very different level of energy. And one is on that coaching, indispensable partner, decision support mode. So self defense mode, that's where the value is too. Hey, so you were talking about the last 15 years, you had no idea where you'd be in 15 years. How do you plan for the future? Are you, it's 2020 so we're kind of like on a decade thing and everybody's got their puns for 2020. Let's spare the audience. But have you thought about a 10 year plan, a five year plan and what your major either goals are or how you're going to measure progress?
Lauren Boyer: Sure. Yeah. So I do believe that the agency model that has existed and, to some degree still exists today, is dying and the productization approach that we started a few years ago is what we need to focus on. So making media and marketing really simple for advertisers and going to a place that enables them to start to do it in a self service manner. So I know we talked about before how, when we're looking to do automation, there's not a huge profit margin in that. Well there is, if you're the only one doing it. And there is if you help to innovate and help to shift behavior before things start to go in a completely different direction.
Lauren Boyer: So I think it's making sure that people in marketing understand that yes, automation is going to happen and embracing that and figuring out how to innovate towards it as opposed to sitting there like blockbuster saying, no, no, no, we don't want you Netflix. You're not the thing. Come on. It's going to change. So let's embrace that change and let's figure out how we can lead it as opposed to sitting back and saying, I just got another 15 years until I retire.
Max Traylor: What is the model that's dying?
Lauren Boyer: I think the AOR model of client agencies is what's dying. And I don't mean that you would only have one partner as a brand.
Max Traylor: Well, let's pretend I don't know what that is because I don't.
Lauren Boyer: All right, so agency of record where you have your agency on retainer, they do everything you tell them to, they jump when you say jump and they jump really high just because you're probably measuring how high they jump. And pretty much whatever you say, if you say scope, it's how long is a piece of string because you're just going to keep driving prices down and profit margins down. And so what's happened today is what's going to be even worse where it's churn and burn. The big agencies have a lot of churn and a lot of turnover because they have to keep people working. There's no way to make margins if you don't. And the only way around that is to price yourselves differently. If you stay on an hourly time and materials basis, you can't win that game. You can start to outsource.
Lauren Boyer: But clients don't like outsourcing, so they're not going to be supportive of that. So it starts to zig and zag and find your margin and their model of the time and materials and staffing plans, you're not going to win. And if you start to get out of that and think completely differently and think about, well how could I create a product that is absolutely valuable, and how could I figure out what that value is and package what I do in such a way that it's a thing now. It's not a bunch of time by a bunch of people. And then it just becomes on you to keep making it more and more innovative and easier to execute. So now when we have a thing to sell and there's automation and tech that can help, I want to invest in it because I'm not losing hours. So it helps us embrace technology, which is inevitable.
Max Traylor: Yeah, that's it.
Lauren Boyer: So it seems obvious to us but there are people sitting back saying, well why would you do that? What's wrong with now?
Max Traylor: They need to find you or this interview miraculously. But yeah, no, that's it. No further questions, your honor. For those of you listening, rewind and listen to that again. And then every morning when you wake up, listen to that again and again and again. Because that makes total sense and it's not the first time I've heard it. Well perhaps the first time that articulate, but there's a lot of fear. There's a lot of perceived safety in the existing model, but it's kind of a catch 22 because if everybody's doing it and the market's getting more and more saturated, by definition it's becoming more and more dangerous and everybody looks at the saturation as that's safe. I could do what everyone else is doing.
Lauren Boyer: And smart clients. So we tend to attract the clients that are the A-listers in their organizations. They're the people that have a little bit of a higher risk profile or tolerance. They want to try something that's not the safe thing that everybody else has done. They want to make sure that their plan's going to work and they're very responsible people, but they're not people that choose to work with a smaller independent media shop over a big behemoth. Clearly don't look at safety first. They want to be safe and they're good at vetting things. Like I said, they're super sharp people that have risen in their career for good reason, but we tend to try to sort clients by the way that they think and the way they answer our questions, in addition to what they need and what we think we can deliver for them.
Lauren Boyer: So we just don't take on anybody. And once in a while we've made a mistake and we've been working with a client and all of a sudden we realize they want to go back to that old model and they don't understand why they need to be the person within the organization saying no, you should let the partner make some money. Because if you don't let them make any money, how could they have the best people? How could they give us their very best if we never feed them? Try having a pet that you starve and see how loving it is.
Max Traylor: My dad would always say, protect your quarterback.
Lauren Boyer: Yeah, and that's the thing.
Max Traylor: He was the quarterback. He wanted me to do the [inaudible] stuff. But the analogy applies.
Lauren Boyer: Yeah. So we tend to find the people that are just smart, sharp marketers and solid business people.
Max Traylor: Yeah. Well thank you for opening up some brilliance. It looks delicious. I can't even see the drink you're drinking, but I'm envious. Your description of it. Yes.
Lauren Boyer: You missed me completely almost choking on it, so that's good. That's good.
Max Traylor: Well, I might take that part and that'll be the promo. That'll be the 60 second promo on LinkedIn. For those of you listening. Thank you. And you can thank me later for finding people like Lauren. I continue my crusade for brilliant folks and here she is. We found one. We got it. Okay. See you next time. And don't binge on beers with Max and drive places. I've seen videos, I don't like it and it doesn't make me feel comfortable. See you next time.