Today we dive inside the mind of a focused strategic consultant & professor of competitive strategy at NYU. We talk about the power of focus, consultancies vs agencies, DISqualification and advice for young entrepreneurs getting into strategic consulting.
“We are only as good as our last case study” - Olivia Scott
Olivia F. Scott is President & Principal Consultant at Omerge Alliances is a NYC-based branding, strategic partnerships and promotions marketing consultancy. From her career beginnings at Atlantic Records in 1994 and Leo Burnett in Chicago in 1995, Olivia Scott has cultivated a prestigious and well-rounded marketing and branding career working on the agency, brand and media sides of the table. She has also been an adjunct instructor at NYU since 2008.
Max Traylor: Okay. I've got mixed feelings about this episode. My negative thoughts are coming from this Corona Extra, which for any of you listeners of my podcast, it's not my favorite. I have dug into my wife's secret stash of beer because I did not prepare. But the reason I am overly excited, Olivia Scott, ladies and gentlemen. Olivia Scott, what are you drinking?
Olivia Scott: I am having a Polar Seltzer water, Cranberry and Lime.
Max Traylor: And it's not, well, I wouldn't say it's because of your current location, but you're joining us from a client. You went above and beyond to have a beer with me or at least watch me drink by myself here today?
Olivia Scott: No, no, no worries. No, it's going to be kombucha. Had I been to my own office, it would have been the kombucha, but when the requests came in from meeting this afternoon, I made it to the client's office and I am drinking what they have available for a princess such as me. And they don't have kombuchas, they have diet Cokes and they've got Seltzer water. So I'm making the very best that I can today.
Max Traylor: And the type of kombucha that you drink, because people are equally passionate about their kombuchas, they are as I am beer, so what's your typical-
Olivia Scott: Oh, the favorite one is Dr. Brew and it's the love flavor.
Max Traylor: Oh, well that's not what you were drinking the other day when-
Olivia Scott: Yeah. The other one was the one that you said that you liked. It was gingerie.
Max Traylor: Yeah. Ginger. I love a good ginger in my-
Olivia Scott: Yeah. No, I was out. So I've been traveling and so in my home I'd not gotten a chance to go to Whole Food, which is where I'm able to get the Dr. Brew, love flavor. So I was just settling for the one that was at the grocery. So, which was fine. Right? The version that you like, the ginger is all good, Max. Notice back to your preference of kombucha. But the love flavor?
Max Traylor: As a forewarning, Olivia and I just tend to talk about whatever the hell we want, and kind of forget what we're supposed to talk about. So without further ado, what is it you do? Hey, that was interesting.
Olivia Scott: I am a marketing... Me? You want the questions answered?
Max Traylor: I hope so.
Olivia Scott: Okay. Just making sure that was for me, because I was wondering. So, yes I am a marketing strategist. I am 25 years into the marketing communications field and you know I have done everything from execute any kind of campaign, radio, TV, print, direct mail, dah, dah, dah. And I think now at this point I consider myself to be a strategist, because once you've done all the tactics and you know that all the tactics do exist, you've got to figure out, "Okay, which ones are the most effective? What's the best use of the money? What's the best use of my time? Which use of media, vehicles and channels is going to help me actually ladder up and achieve my goal?" So I am a strategist. It's a very long answer but I am a strategist.
Max Traylor: What makes you so special?
Olivia Scott: I think the fact that when I started my firm 10 years ago, I was very clear that I wanted to have a consultancy and I was unwavering in that decision to have a consultancy versus an agency. And with that decision to have a consultancy, I understood that I had to cultivate a certain level of focus and knowledge base to have an operation. I think you have a lot of people and there's, just as like you asked me why I was special? Know that my normal emo, my normal disposition is not to ever speak about how great I am relative to other people. It's all about competing in your own lane, right?
Olivia Scott: But I do think that one of the things that's made me special is that I have, from the very beginning, been very focused on beauty and lifestyle marketing, and I've never had to veer from that. All of my clients have stayed in that UT entertainment and lifestyle realm, and that was my intention when I started. I understood that once you've been a marketer, you've got everyone who reaches out to you and says, "Oh no, I have an automotive company. Oh, I have a construction business. Oh, I have this business." And understanding that to really be an expert in to be a consultant, you want to understand best in class practices across what you do, the category sector in which you're operating in.
Olivia Scott: I want to be able to tell my clients when they come to me, "Listen, if you identify these top three competitors, I've got additional four or five competitors you should look at and here's what they're doing, here's how they're succeeding." so I think for me that is what I consider to be special, is that I'm very focused and very deliberate around the work that I do.
Max Traylor: Now, it's rare that someone starts out with focus. They usually have to go through years of struggling and competing on price and commoditization before they realize, "Hey, maybe if I were to focus, I'd have something truly unique and valuable. And I could charge price premiums and I could provide more value to my clients." Have you been unwavering in your resolve? Has your focus changed over the years or expanded? Have you never looked back? Has it always been the decision that you congratulate yourself that you made? Tell me about what the other side is like looking back and going, "Well, I've always been focused," and what has that done for you over the years?
Olivia Scott: Oh my gosh. I have so many different answers for what you to decide. I'm trying to organize my thoughts. So one, I've always been focused, Max. I've never veered away. You're going to look at my work product and you're never going to see that again, I snuck in an automotive client, or I snuck in a construction client. You're never going to see that, like in the middle of all of this beauty, lifestyle, entertainment stuff that I snuck in, something that's out of what I've said.
Olivia Scott: Now as a woman who has evolved in the past 10 years, my interests have evolved and I want to speak about that being a natural evolution because the passion points that I represented came very naturally from where I had my experience base, and also where I had interest. When I knew and I'm going to come back to where I've expanded to. Don't let me get too far away from that. But what I want to share is that there were definitely opportunities along the way, but as a passionate person, as a marketer who was one of those marketers, that all marketers are like this, I actually really like to believe in what I do. I like to believe in what I sell. And I want to be able to offer the target audience to whom I am marketing to something of value that's going to enhance their life.
Olivia Scott: So I'm intimately involved with women as a target audience. I am a woman and so when I look at the products that I end up marketing, just beauty, health, wellness, entertainment, it ends up being a lot of women. So I want to make sure that I'm being ethical as well as a marketer. Now, I have to go back to where I got the focus from, because you didn't ask me that question, but I do want to answer it. I hope you don't mind?
Max Traylor: I was hoping you'd answer it by yourself.
Olivia Scott: Okay.
Max Traylor: I wasn't going to skip over that.
Olivia Scott: Okay. It came from having started a career in the agency world. So I started off at Leo Burnett from Burnett. I went to Frankel, Frankel, I went to Ogilvy, Ogilvy I went to DDB, then I went to Draft. And so in all of those agency experiences as an account manager, right? I watched over and over again how the agency would represent services that often they really didn't have.
Max Traylor: Or represent knowledge that they didn't have?
Olivia Scott: Both. I was going to even, as I said, it's both, right? So we would represent that... No, it's fine. What I've learned is, and it's actually kind of cool. Once you gain trust from a client, it is very natural for that client to say, "Hey, Max, you've done an amazing job on that social media campaign, can you also do email campaign?" Right? And it's up to you based on your integrity, or whatever you're committed to, to say, "You know what, that's really not what we do, but I can find someone." "Oh, yeah, yeah. Would you?" Right.
Olivia Scott: So what I never felt comfortable with because of the kind of person that I just didn't genuinely am, which is being humble and whatever, was to represent anything other than that was really, really real. Right? So I'm like, "I don't really know about construction, I don't even know about... I don't even have a car." You know? So I was like, let's not pretend. Let's be like, "No, no. My entire closet is full of beauty products. Let me tell you about all of them." You know what I mean? Until being able and then having worked in entertainment from Atlantic Records, to Live Nations to In Demand About Magazine. I knew that industry very, very well. And so I was like, "This is stuff that I actually know and feel confident representing. And so I knew from the very beginning that I wanted to mark it with confidence and I wanted to really be able to help clients that were targeting again, audiences that I cared about, be able to have really bonafide marketing intel for a lower rate.
Olivia Scott: Quite honestly, when I started, I also knew that I was a consultancy. I didn't want to have all the overhead expenses involved in having an agency. Right? And so I was like, "I want to offer my intel to small, to mid sized clients that may not have the budgets for the DDBs, may not have the money for all the layers, the account coordinators, the WEs, the AEs, have blended rates. And I was a part of that system, which is why I was very intentional when I went out around what I wanted. And I knew that the [inaudible] would be there for me, Max, for me to like step outside of my zone and for me to start doing all kinds of properties. But I didn't want to. And I love it.
Olivia Scott: I love that to this day, at least once a week I get an email from someone once a week, once every other week. I want to be too bold with that estimate saying, "Hey I've seen your work on beauty or I've seen your work on lifestyle. Would you be interested in doing marketing grim, launching a brand new lipstick am launching a new cosmetics line in Australia or whatever." So I appreciate getting that, but it's all from the work.
Olivia Scott: And what I also know from being in consultancy is that the work that you do today, and this is in anything, but the work you do today lends way for the work you do tomorrow. So if I just do a really good job with the work that I do today, which I shared with you in our pre-call, when I decided to launch this business and I reached out to Amon Cosmetics and I reached out to Curb Records, and those were my two foundational clients for Omerge Alliances outside of like when I left being a CMO at Carol's Daughter, that was intentional.
Olivia Scott: I wanted to align with brands that were midsize at the Amon Cosmetics and Curb Records. It had LeAnn Rimes and Lee Price and those guys and be able to have like case studies. And if I could show that I could deliver a partnership for LeAnn Rimes, which I did, and part show that I could do a partnership for Amon Cosmetics with Kevin Hart's movie, About Last Night, which I did. Plug, plug, plug. Right? And then be able to promote those things.
Max Traylor: It seems so natural, Olivia, how do you do it?
Olivia Scott: Right.
Max Traylor: So you mentioned confidence and I just have a comment on that. I talked to a lot of people that are confident in their ability to adapt to the situation. Was it the counter argument? Everything that you've learned in beauty and entertainment and lifestyle, there are a lot of lessons that can be applied to the car dealership.
Olivia Scott: To what?
Max Traylor: To the car dealership.
Olivia Scott: Oh yeah, yeah.
Max Traylor: [crosstalk] But that's the counterargument is that, you're smart and you've got this opportunity and they need help? Sure, let's be the one to help them. But there are two very different types of strategists. One that sells access to their knowledge, and that you can be really confident about because it's efficient. You already have this knowledge, you already have the base of intelligence, you know exactly what to do, and your clients are purchasing access to that.
Max Traylor: The other type is people that are charging their clients to learn their industry. It's efficient, it's stressful. Despite people that are confident in doing it, that represents a big difference in the people that are paid to learn industry's very difficult business model, very difficult to carve out a real brand for yourself and command price premiums because you're worth it.
Olivia Scott: Well, let me give you an example, are you saying like people who are selling trainings on like social media marketing, how to do social media marketing?
Max Traylor: No, I'm talking about in an agency, like when I ran my agency and we were experts in higher education. And a manufacturing organization would come along and say, "Hey, let me pay you $10,000 to give me a marketing strategy." And I'd say, "Well, yeah, there's a lot of things that I can apply from what I've learned in marketing and higher education to manufacturing." But that manufacturing company was paying me to learn their business.
Olivia Scott: Right.
Max Traylor: Whereas when I sold a strategy to higher education for 30, 50, $100,000 and it took me the same amount of time. The reason I could do that is because of all the accumulated knowledge I had in that space, which they were purchasing access to.
Olivia Scott: Got you. Absolutely.
Max Traylor: So I just, there are confident people out there that I want them to understand the difference that just because you're confident doesn't mean it's the right business decision.
Olivia Scott: Yeah. It's all debating on your goals, and what you really are driven to do. I said it before, so advantage is not to be redundant, but I was very clear also from having hired a variety of marketing consultants in my various roles where I had to pay them a retainer per month and I wasn't getting my value. But the reason why I had to hire them, Max, was because I worked at smaller organizations, where we didn't have the money to take on a person full time.
Olivia Scott: The point with that is, I was getting subpar consultants and I was like, "There is definitely room for someone who actually has real knowledge, who's actually really excellent to go and command retainers." And so that was part of my mission, my goal. And that comes from just the person I am pretty altruistic, pretty kind and just benevolent and all those really nice words. Right? But that's just who I am.
Olivia Scott: So I've also questioned sometimes, "Are you really running a business or nonprofit?" Because sometimes I give one away, and I've had to work to, and I'm sure you might be able to understand this and relate to it, I had to really work to make sure that my initial consults with clients are just that. It's just enough to wet the appetite and sell that, I know what I'm doing versus giving them too much. But sometimes I just decide, you know what? In my head I'll say, "You know what? This is not the best client for me because they really are not going to have the money to retain me. So here's what's going to happen. I'm going to give them some extra tools right now. I'm going to give them some extra information, and send them the blessings along the way, but I don't have to take on every client that comes my way."
Max Traylor: I like that. I'm looking at a book, one of my favorite books, Business of Expertise by David Baker, and on the back, genuine expertise has become more valuable than ever.
Olivia Scott: Yes.
Max Traylor: And I think that decision you made when starting your business was probably the best decision you could have made. And that is to focus because through focus comes genuine expertise. You already had it, but to recognize that you have it, a lot of people will discount their previous experience, their previous careers for the thought of something completely new, "And I want to be open to any business that comes my way, and I want to be everything to everyone," and they forget that they've spent decades creating expertise, and that expertise is forgotten. Anyhow, you talk a lot about consultancy versus agency. Define them for me. Make it real. What's the difference?
Olivia Scott: Oh my gosh. For me, a consultancy is smaller. It is boutique, without using the term boutique, which I definitely have some ambivalence and on using that term, I don't really know if I like it or not, but it's like I don't know about that. But consultancy means I am specifically consulting with you. I have an expert knowledge base and I am consulting with you and giving you that specific knowledge and you're paying into that. And even the C part of it, it's like it's not just consultant, it's a consultancy, we're offering a few different services, but we're consulting. Agency just-
Max Traylor: Can I summarize? You said you were getting paid for your knowledge. Really the product you're selling is your knowledge. You have it and you're giving it to your clients?
Olivia Scott: That's it. Yes. Right? And agencies. So if we think about just the definition of the word agent, there isn't an adjacency to the client. And I find with that sometimes there's a blending. There's a melding between the client and the agency and you don't know which one is which, and that's fine. But oftentimes I have found when I was in the agency side, and this is not in retrospect, again, I worked in the agency side, it's easy to lose yourself. It's easy to become just a worker bee working for the client and not really sharing your point of view. I have found that as a consultancy I can be like, "No, no, no, that's not it. This is it and you're paying me for this information. Right? And I'm able to stand my ground around being a consultant that you have hired to do this."
Olivia Scott: Agency, I have found is sometimes different, a couple different things. Agency, there's no specific expertise sometimes, you end up doing, when I take for example, Leo Burnett, right? Or we did Creative, we didn't Unwrap It. We did Hispanic, we did Digital, we did everything and we were truly the extension. Execution extension, the strategic and the execution extension of the agencies and the other out of the company, right? So the client is Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, and they hire an agency to do some of the planning and also some of the execution. And then you never really know where the client begins in the agency ends. Versus sometimes I would find, when I worked in the agency side, they would actually bring in a consultant who knew about cheddar cheese, and that's all that person knew. They knew how to sell cheddar cheese macaroni. So they'd been doing cheddar cheese for the past 20 years. That is what they did. Right?
Olivia Scott: And we would listen to those consultants that the client had hired because the client esteemed that person to have more knowledge in an area of importance to them. And so for me as a knowledge worker, as a professor at NYU, et cetera, et cetera, I enjoy reading and writing and immersing myself in knowledge and sharing that knowledge, whether it's to students or it's to clients. But the agency model, I think I felt that that was, Max, just a little bit, it was difficult for me to stand my ground around what I really knew. Because as a person who values knowledge, knowledge is what matters to me. So as an agency I get that I can scale this and I can make more money and I can extend to myself and have any additional services or extend myself and sell that I have knowledge and I don't really have a depth of knowledge, but that does not feel genuine to me.
Max Traylor: A lot argue that you wouldn't make more money, but that's for a different conversation. There's some things I picked up on that that are unique in your answer that I haven't heard before and I really like.
Olivia Scott: Okay.
Max Traylor: Consultancies are listened to.
Olivia Scott: Yes.
Max Traylor: And it goes back to who's making the decisions, who's in control, and if someone is paying you for your knowledge you're obligated to be the person making decisions?
Olivia Scott: Yeah.
Max Traylor: You should be. You have the knowledge, you should be the decision maker, you should be in control of this direction. But on the agency side, there's a strong need to book services?
Olivia Scott: Yes.
Max Traylor: And so there's always one part of the brain as an agency owner that says, "Well, here's what I think we should do." And then the other part of the brain says, "Well, here's what the client will pay me a lot of money to do. And I have a lot of people standing around waiting to write content and update the website even though that's not what I believe they need."
Olivia Scott: That's it, that's it. That's it. I mean the number of times that we've just... I remember it was my last agency experience, I remember experiencing this. I don't, I won't name the agency because I don't want to have any that will have on the agency I have formerly worked for. But-
Max Traylor: Brilliant. Can I change topics on you?
Olivia Scott: Yeah.
Max Traylor: Perfect. So I want you to start to describe the stuff that's in your head. I got a real, I mean, great conversation about focus, great conversation about consultancies and agencies, but I... Now I want to know what's in your head. What's this formula that you've discovered? You fancy yourself a branding consultant, but also the strategic partnerships.
Max Traylor: And when you talk about strategic partnerships and your work in strategic partnerships, that's what really gives me... It turns out I actually get physical goosebumps when I hear people talk about the unique things that they do. It's like I'm not making it up. I actually get goosebumps, I have a physical reaction to hearing unique things, and I make notes. You see that underline there next to partnerships?
Olivia Scott: Yes.
Max Traylor: That was weeks ago. I got little goosebumps.
Olivia Scott: That's awesome.
Max Traylor: That's a real thing that happens. Anyway, so tell me about your intellectual property. Describe it for me. Describe this knowledge that people pay you for.
Olivia Scott: Wow. So some of it's intuition and some of it's knowledge, but I'll give you both. So I've been an account executive my entire career. So in being an account executive, for those of you who are familiar with advertising and promotions agencies, you know that your role is you are on the front line working with clients to identify what their goals are, what their problems are and how advertising and marketing and media can help you solve those particular problems to meet those goals.
Olivia Scott: So from a knowledge base, having worked for, I mean a significant number of different clients, whether it is Hilton Hotels, Volkswagen, ING Bank, Motorola, Blimpie, I've worked with so many brands is I'm having a little bit of a brain fat right now. But in my career, United States Postal Service, McDonald's, United Post... all this and others. But in working with those clients, I have a really solid understanding of the different types of challenges that marketers have. I also understand how similar those challenges are, that they really pretty much come down to, I need to drive sales, I need to drive products consideration, which will of course, ultimately drive sales. Or I want to... Oh, well, hello?
Max Traylor: That's Dr. Marvin.
Olivia Scott: He liked that. Right? He liked that whole driving product considering.
Max Traylor: Yeah, yeah. Good.
Olivia Scott: And number three is around retaining loyalty and customer basis. So I understand fundamentally at my core that this stuff is not rocket science, that every business that is in business, is in business for the third time to do just that, Max, which is to sell product. So now with that, I have a significant amount of knowledge around different tactics and media channels. Yes. You want to interrupt here?
Max Traylor: No, that's what I'm... I'm listening to you talking. I'm going, "Yes. But why did I get goosebumps when you were talking about strategic partnerships?" And I usually get goosebumps because it means that for the people that you work with, for the focus that you have, strategic partnerships might just be the most powerful thing that you can contribute in order to drive product consideration in order to solve their biggest challenges. So it's your unique approach that you've developed through all of that experience, and I want to hear about it.
Olivia Scott: Yep. Okay. So if you go on, I'm going to finish that little point, but I'm going to come back very, very quickly. I was just saying that I understand the different tactics very well, television, radio, print, et cetera. But to your point, getting to your point very quickly about partnerships. So partnerships is something I began doing in 1998 at Frankel. My very first one was Encyclopedia Britannica with IMAX Films. So it was my very first one. And what I loved was the magic of being able to bring together two disparate brands and seemingly disparate brands that had nothing to do with each other, and do an analysis of their assets and find a synergistic DNA. Like something around their DNA that could, if they partner and leverage the assets they both have individually, how collectively they would be able to offer value to their customers and drive sales. And so that takes a certain amount of thoughtfulness into it, diligence and focus to do that. Right? Because you're looking at both of them and you're becoming the matchmaker of brands-
Max Traylor: Might I add experience into the pot.
Olivia Scott: You can add. You can add.
Max Traylor: It's experience.
Olivia Scott: And that was literally, that was my very first one. I was at Frankel, this was 1998 I was, what? 25 at that time. And from there that was it. That was it. I was like, "I want to cram partnerships." And so from there I went to Oldie and I got a role I think as a senior director, or director, I've forgot the title, brand partnerships where my job there for the client base, we had an overreaction in Chicago was to bring together these brands that we had, which we had Jim Beam, we had Microsoft, we had Tombstone Pizza, we had various properties that would bring together with the Vans Warped Tour or with Big Black, Blue Daddy, et cetera.
Olivia Scott: So to answer your question around what the knowledge base is? Is understanding how to do an analysis of what a brand started audiences, what their goals are, what assets they have during an evaluation. So if you're familiar with sponsorship, marketing and evaluations, there is a company called IEG out of Chicago and Leslie Luqman and her family, they've run this industry organization around valuation. And so you consult what they say a jumbotron is worth and what a print ad is worth. And so pretty much you sit down and you create an Excel sheet and you say, "Okay, we'll give you a tangible example. So we're going to put together and talk of media Britannica and we'll let it put together IMAX Films. So on top of Britannica," they have they're old, it's old, not a good example about it.
Olivia Scott: But I'm going to use a new one. I'll use a new one. I'm going to use a better one. Amon cosmetics About Last Night, the film, the partnership, it did in 2014. So you say, "All right, so Amon Cosmetics, they've got retail distribution throughout the entire country. They have packaging, they have a website, they have email, they have social. Then within the social, they've got this following for Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest. These are their assets." And then you put together the sheet that then evaluates what the value is for each of them, that's part one. Then you say, "Okay, the partner, About Last Night, Sony pictures, what do you guys have?" You have an intellectual property that you're bringing. You're lending to Amon Cosmetics to have a consumer resonance, if you will, with a particular audience base. Because Amon Cosmetics, any product properties, they're just that. They're just part of their just parenting, it's lipstick.
Olivia Scott: How can I borrow equity from an entertainment property? That's going to make a consumer say, "Oh my God, Amon Cosmetics. I always have a new red lipstick, but they're partnering with Kevin Hart's movie." So there's a price, there's a value associated with that intellectual property that you... Oftentimes, I would rarely assign. Okay. You say Kevin Hart's in the film. So Brian's in the film. You may say Macklin Ellie's in the film, Regina Hall, what is the value for that? Right, alignment. And then the film will have a radio junket. They'll have a press release, they may get 500 million impressions, and they'll have email and have a website and they'll have social.
Olivia Scott: And then you figure out, "Okay, we want this to be a two to one my client, Amon Cosmetics. So I want my clients to get at least a two or three to one return on their investment of their media." These are all, by the way, these partnerships, my partnerships are all barter. There's no cash exchange. So it's all like intellectual property exchange. And so that's pretty much what I do.
Max Traylor: I'm so proud of myself for finding you. At this point, if I was in your target market, I would have stopped listening because I would have already decided to hire you. You'd just be it. I'd just be like, "Nope, cancel the other interviews. We're good." Then what happens? How do you package and sell your knowledge? How do you set the expectation that it is your expertise and it is the actionable strategy that you're going to put together that is of most value and you're not the person that's going to be pushing buttons. You're not going to be creating content. You're going to be doing agency things.
Olivia Scott: Right.
Max Traylor: But you're going to be paid higher than agency rates for your knowledge. How do you set that expectation? Because a lot of people out there don't believe it's possible. A lot of people out there equate their value to the things, the tangible things that they produce rather than the intellectual property.
Olivia Scott: So I think I have two different answers. One is confidence and one is case studies.
Max Traylor: Well, yes. I understand that part, but like-
Olivia Scott: No.
Max Traylor: Let me be a prospective client.
Olivia Scott: Okay.
Max Traylor: What do I need to pay you for? Or how much do I pay you and what do I get?
Olivia Scott: Right and-
Max Traylor: [inaudible 00:32:03].
Olivia Scott: Right. And when I was saying that I wasn't being flippant, I was going to go deeper into, Max. Like truly, it's around you are your product's client, your brand new beauty brand, and you're like, "I need to differentiate myself and I need someone to create a strategy for me." And so I'm going to show you first of all the case studies that I have with the results, the sales results for the previous clients where I've delivered strategies for. I'll even show you a few of those strategies from several years ago from clients that I have the approval to do that for, right?
Olivia Scott: And show you, "This client came to me here. They were a baby brand. They didn't even have a website. I helped them from this point all the way to here. Now, in order for me to actually begin doing anything, I need to create a strategy for you, and that strategy is going to cost X, Y, Z." And the reality is Max, and that I want to come back to the second part of it, but the confidence part, but I didn't tell you, if I have a client that doesn't understand the need to pay the strategy, then it's not a client that makes sense for me to move forward with. Right? And I know just enough of how to present and wet the appetite, to show them not only the case things, but also that I can understand how to deliver for them without giving my strategy away.
Max Traylor: Why is it important that you disqualify people that aren't ready or bought into paying you for strategy?
Olivia Scott: Because you're not going to... we're on totally different pages around the approach and the process. Right? If you actually want me just to comment and just do... it's also a disservice to my intellect and to my knowledge base. I'm not just going to come in and let's just say, "Okay, let's just do $10,000 with Google ads. Without any research around your industry, your competitors, what marketing has worked for you well in the past? Who your target audience is? What they respond to? What your budget levels make sense for?" Without any of that, like thinking, that's a disservice to you and disservice to me.
Olivia Scott: I can't imagine someone just saying, "Olivia, I need you to start tomorrow. Can you just find some..." Well, you know what you should take that decisions are just starts and downloads to Google ads and give that to a mentor or give that to your niece or a worker.
Max Traylor: Or flush it down the toilet.
Olivia Scott: Or flush it down the toilet. You're not hiring Olivia staff. You don't need my strategy. And that is what I sell, is my strategy. You need different things. You actually just need a worker bee, and that's totally fine. If you happen to have a marketing background or you've been doing this for a while and you just want someone you know that Facebook ads for women in Chicago between 25 and 44 work for you, then you know what? Go do it. Just do it.
Max Traylor: Well you build credibility... So I was too quick to stop your answer, but so in the selling strategy, I would agree, the biggest problem is that clients want results. And a lot of times they don't believe that strategy can achieve results. There's too many missing links. So you start with credibility with the case studies, with the stories of how your strategy has led to success. But you also mentioned that you show them examples of your work and I think that's a huge barrier to people saying, "Look, it's the strategy that's really going to contribute."
Max Traylor: But then the client's brain goes into all those consulting engagements where they've gotten a 45 page word document that's not actionable, and there's all these reasons why that's not what they need. But you're able to actually show them. And I think that's what's holding a lot of people back is, is not being able to make their knowledge and the deliverable that represents strategic guidance and actionable recommendations. You can't actually show it.
Olivia Scott: That's it. That's it. And so the recap, which is one of the things I learned the art of and the necessity of at Live Nation is critical. So I was at Live Nation, after every summer where we'd have gotten 2 million there, over 2 million deal, I had to put together a recap and they literally, they would kill me. I want to kill myself.
Max Traylor: I'm going to let my dog out.
Olivia Scott: Okay. Sure, sure, sure.
Max Traylor: It's been crying [inaudible 00:36:54]. Not outside. I'm just letting that one out. Anyway, long story. Go on please.
Olivia Scott: Yeah. And I wanted to kill myself. I wanted to pull my hair out because those things were so painful. But I became a really good writer of recaps and I understood the importance because we were only as good as our last event series. Very seldom when we began. When I began with Live Nation, right after Clear Channel Entertainment sold off and whatever, we were proving ourselves as a company to the Coke's, to the Citi Bank's, to the Blimpie's, to the Volkswagens, whatever that we're going to ask you for $2 million or more, or whatever, to sponsor a summer of concerts. That's a huge investment.
Olivia Scott: So in order for us to get a renewal, we had to write these recaps. They had to show what the business objectives were for making those investments, and then afterwards we had to show them that we delivered upon those objectives. And so I think that's when I really learned the importance of creating a case study, even if it's the last thing that I do. I have to create a case study, I need to recap for my clients. And again, sometimes it is and some of them are painfully like, "Oh my God." Right. I don't really want to do it. But it is like even with... I got a client, a new client, BD client last October that was recommended by a previous client. And they didn't know me from Adam and I said, "Okay, well we'll have a call with them." And talked it up and I used to do it, it was great to me.
Olivia Scott: Emailed afterwards, "Here are a few previous strategies I've created in the past, take a look at them." In different sectors of beauty than the one she was in. And she replied right back and was like, "Oh my God." It was on my letterhead and my template, Omer in July, they were like, she's like, "Okay, can you start now?" Because she saw that I had done the work. So I have found over and over again Max, if you just do the work and showcase you've done the work.
Olivia Scott: Even on my website under O projects, I make sure that I have at least a paragraph blurb around all of my most recent projects I've done. I think a lot of times we get so caught up, we want what's working in the business versus on the business and we don't take the time to go back and create the recaps or to put it on our website and showcase what we've done.
Max Traylor: You know what I find is it when people actually do strategy work and they have trouble selling strategy, what they'll do is they'll say, "Well, strategy is the most valuable thing that we do. And that's where we start." And the client will say, "Show me an example of your work." And then the agency will provide a link to the website that they produced.
Olivia Scott: Mm-mm(negative).
Max Traylor: Or links to the... Right. I mean to you it's just like, "Are you kidding me?" But if you want to be known as a strategist, the work you showcase is strategy, it is your identity, is what you produce. It's what you eat, sleep and breathe is what you love. My takeaway though, which I love, is you're only as valuable as your last contribution.
Max Traylor: Because the other thing that happens is people will start with strategy. Never revisit that. Never revisit the art of decision support, of situational analysis, of providing recommendations. They create a strategy as a one time thing. Now I'm able to work with you, let's go create content for the rest of our lives.
Olivia Scott: Right.
Max Traylor: And six months later, you're a content producer. You're not a strategist, you're a content producer.
Olivia Scott: And I just want to add to that. Last night, I teach competitive strategy at NYU. I also teach campaign to media management. And last night, I teach on Tuesdays I was teaching my students what a strategy actually meant. Strategy, it's a term from the military, which means a plan. There's a particular formation in which we all have to get in line to understand how we're going to achieve our goal.
Olivia Scott: So when you break it down that way, and explain to my students in that way, Max, what you understand is, there is no way that you can achieve anything without a mustard seed of a plan. You've got to have a plan. And I told them all this, a little bit of planning goes a long way. Yeah. But just a little bit of planning. That has to be... And I think what's also interesting to me is, I don't know about you and I'm digressing and what you come back for me back, but over the years I would hear the term marketing plan. Oh my gosh, the agita that that created for many people. Because what does that mean? What does it look like? What's the forma?
Olivia Scott: There's no real formula for it. It's just really how are you planning to achieve the goals for the client? Period. Now whether the execution of that is in a 50 page PowerPoint deck or a one page word document that says, "This is the goal, this is how we're going to achieve it." It's really just having a plan, knowing how you're going to go and achieve something, that's it. And I cannot imagine working with a client, going back to your point about five minutes ago, that would not allow me the opportunity to create that for them. Now I think what can be helpful, people are like, "But how. But how? If they're having issues, you have to help color what is included in the strategy. Because I think the term strategy sometimes can be a little nebulous around what's included in the strategy.
Olivia Scott: I often outline, "Okay, this strategy is me taking time to do a competitive analysis of your five, up to five of your favorite brands that you feel you're competing against. It is taking that in and then breaking it down. So not just five competitors, but then looking at their price points, looking at their unit size, looking at where they're sold, looking at their packaging colors, looking at what's on the packaging, looking at who their target audience is." So once you look at all of that and say, "Okay, this is a competitive analysis." And then creating for them a complete marketing plan against that, that that strategy is a part of the marketing plan. If anybody's having issues with that. Right?
Olivia Scott: Just selling a strategy. I think the term itself is a little bit like, "What do you sell, what am I getting?" I think you want to articulate for people, "Okay, when I say that I'm going to sell you a strategy, it is a part of a larger marketing and media plan, right? Because my strategies, they include an actual media plan, right? So it tells you where you should be brand positioning wise, where you should be competitive wise, but it also tells you from a narrative perspective, what is your narrative that's unique for your brand? What are consumers going to latch onto? Relative to you as the founder," if it's a founder I'm working with, and also relative to the competitors. So I'm going to give you that.
Olivia Scott: Then I'm also going to go a step further and I'm going to tell you in your marketing funnel, vernacular the paid earned and owned media, where you should be from a media plan perspective too. You should not be on Google ads. You should definitely be on YouTube ads and then you should do this kind of frequency for your Instagram ads, whatever. So I think you need to spell out what a strategy is. I think the term strategy is a little bit too vague for people to really understand what they're getting. If you say, "I want $10,000 for trash."
Max Traylor: I feel good. You got anything else? I finished my beer a long time ago. I just like listening to you talk. Usually, I get a lot of clients that I've got to go on vacation. They should just talk to you instead, because you know it.
Olivia Scott: Yeah, it's what you know it too, which is why you're like, "I'm done, and I'm done, and I'm done."
Max Traylor: No, that was it.
Olivia Scott: That's it?
Max Traylor: Bravo. Yeah. Until next time. No, really like that. I just such strong real, those are... Thanks for listening. Talk to you next time. Serious, I'm done.
Olivia Scott: Okay. It's, we're saying the same thing over and over.
Max Traylor: We've complete. No, we're not saying the same thing over and over.
Olivia Scott: Why?
Max Traylor: You're hitting in incredible... Anyway, thank you so much for sharing your knowledge with people, for rolling with the punches on my questions as I just sit back and drink my beer and let me know where to make out the check.
Olivia Scott: It was a pleasure. And I think, I mean if we just kind of punctuate on that and pause in that very last point. I think that when you talk about the book, which I am going to read, The Business of Expertise. Who was the author again? You told me.
Max Traylor: David C. Baker.
Olivia Scott: Baker, that's what I thought. Baker, David Baker. I look forward to reading that over the next, am finishing a book right now. But I should be done by next week. So I'll start with that book next. But I think that, I'm going to say this last thing. I think one of the things that the younger entrepreneurs may be struggling with is that they are watching... We're growing up right now in a world where fame is instant, appears instant, riches, wealth appears instant, and they don't understand the process.
Olivia Scott: So there's an impatience involved with explaining to someone what you're going to give them. And so I think that if there was any advice, especially I would give to my millennial entrepreneurs, it's around really taking the time to develop exactly what you're selling and having patience with articulating to your prospects around, "Okay, if you hire me, this is what I am going to give you." Now, I think some of it is a lot of these guys, we all know this, I love millennials. We know that, and gen Z, they're young. They may not have a lot of experience necessarily to understand what to articulate and how to articulate it, but I would recommend that they do, as you'd mentioned to me, you have a business coach or someone that helps them understand exactly what they're selling, they can actually articulate what they sell. And they'll be a lot more successful in selling their strategy.
Olivia Scott: But I will continue to be vigilant around my point earlier that there's no way that I think people want to work with a client that doesn't want to pay for your strategy unless you are an executer. Now, if you're an executer and you're like, you're a social media writer or you're a person who knows Facebook ads and that's what you're selling, that's fine. But if you're selling strategy, you really want to remain true to that and have someone buy your strategies.
Max Traylor: And know exactly what you provide and don't get impatient?
Olivia Scott: Yeah.
Max Traylor: Yeah.
Olivia Scott: Yeah. You got to know your worth. You've got to. You have, so that may take you going in and being able to like pull out into the case. So that's the media plan part of it. That's a target audience part of it. That's a competitive analysis. You may have to go in to plans you've created and pull them out and bullet point them and create descriptions, and I wouldn't recommend putting that on your website. You shouldn't do it, vendors are going to take it. But that in your overview, I have an Omer in July and this is general capabilities overview, that talks about what we sell. And that document is private. I only send it to real clients who really want to buy from me. I don't put all of that on my website.
Olivia Scott: Our website has like five bullets around what we sell. If you contact me and my work is good enough, then I'll show you it's good enough to you. Then I'll show you, "Okay, this is what you're going to get." So you don't have to be everywhere. This is not a brochure to brag to your friends and you're putting all your knowledge out there and other people will just like cutting and pasting and put on their websites. I'm not advocating for that. Because you're consulting. Like your knowledge, your knowledge, even about what you're selling Max, is proprietary. Right?
Max Traylor: Hey, if this beauty and lifestyle thing doesn't work out, give me a call. I got people that need your help.
Olivia Scott: Speaking of which, I want to answer the point you said earlier that I'm done. I've expanded more into health and wellness as I've evolved where my stop that moment you said, "Well, what I've expanded into?" And I was saying that as I have over the past 10 years as I've gotten a little older and beauty has completely just, it is growing and everyone's in the space, it's over saturated. I've found that the next wave of $42 trillion industry globally is wellness and health.
Olivia Scott: So that is definitely the next place that I'm in. I'm taking meetings with different clients. I have a new project that I'm just beginning now with Essence, which I'm very happy about, which is to produce their wellness houses throughout the country for 2020. So that's the space I'm evolving into. It's still targeting women and there's still a beauty component to it, but it's more of an internal media self care versus a lipstick, eyeshadow, foundation kind of thing.
Max Traylor: Well, I'm glad you talk about that because a lot of people are afraid that if they focus on something and it works, then they're going to be pigeonholed and they're going to be doing that for the rest of their life. But from your story, there's a big difference, like your focus has evolved as it should, but you have never lost focus.
Olivia Scott: No. I've invested too much in that initial focus to completely abandon it.
Max Traylor: Yeah. For example, even if you, two years from now, have no clients that were your existing focus, you have remained focused throughout your career, and that can change, that can evolve. But you never once decided, "Oh Hey, I'm going to, because I want to focus on something else, I'm now going to try a bunch of things." It's always intentional. There's always a story behind it. It's always because of your passion or your experience, so you haven't lost that intentionality. You haven't lost the benefits of focus.
Max Traylor: But I think it's a good lesson for people that are afraid of focusing because they don't believe that they would be able to pursue those passions or pursue new market opportunities that they don't see today. It's not about doing the same thing for the rest of your life. It's just about only doing the thing that you feel you're most valuable doing and you're most passionate about at that particular time.
Olivia Scott: Agree.
Max Traylor: Are we done now?
Olivia Scott: I think we're done.
Max Traylor: I got nothing to do but drink beer and hang out with my son. So, your clients are like, "Where's Olivia? The strategy queen?"
Olivia Scott: Right. It's been an hour. You said we're gone for three to four o'clock and it's right at four o'clock, so it's good. It's good. I appreciate you for reaching out to me. I have learned from you. I love your enthusiasm and I love your passion for educating entrepreneurs around different topics that maybe they don't have anyone to go to. We're all in these different markets and countries throughout the world. And so I appreciate you for launching the series, you have launched, Beers with Max, and making it fun versus something stoic, and uncomfortable. So thank you. And I can only hope that people will be inspired and inspired to go the distance based on what we talked about today.
Max Traylor: Cheers.
Olivia Scott: Cheers. Thank you, Max.