Using lazy marketing and “Making Conversations Count” around rip-off self-serving marketing agencies with ‘lazy marketing’ expert behind forward-thinking brands
We're Making Conversations about using lazy marketing Count!Episode 70 - Al Tepper
Are you using lazy marketing in your business? We’re making conversations about lazy marketing count with Al Tepper!
Big take-away quote from this conversation about using lazy marketing:
“What happens if you could have a strategy created by you internally?
Well then, there’s no bias, there’s no risk is there, because it’s your strategy, not been built by anyone with a vested interest…”
Al Tepper, Making Conversations Count (February 2022)
(Hard of hearing? Transcript here).
Strapped for data? You can hear a lower-bandwidth version of the episode here.)
Are you using lazy marketing? No? Time to start!
Using lazy marketing can be a boon for smaller businesses who want more control over their budget and results.
In the latest episode of the “Making Conversations Count” podcast, we’ll discuss how using lazy marketing can help you avoid overspending on unnecessary services while still getting the results you want.
We’ve all heard of ‘lazy’ people doing nothing but watching TV and playing video games all day long – so why would anyone think having that attitude could benefit their business?
It’s simple: lazy people have time to think about what they’re going to do next instead of just jumping right into it!
There’s a real benefit to having spare bandwidth for this stuff.
Are you lazy?
Lazy is a perception.
Is a multi-millionaire who takes time to enjoy four months holiday (vacation for our US listeners!) in the Caribbean lazy?
Is that successful business owner who does his deals over a round of golf lazy?
You’ll probably find that they’re more hard-working than you are.
They’ve just found a way to get their business thriving more efficiently, and without needing to be in it 24/7.
You can get there too.
Without wishing to give you too many spoilers, this episode once again has the power of conversations sitting firmly at its core. It’s unsurprising really. Everything we do in life somehow comes back to effective conversations.
Are you using conversations as part of your strategy in business?
Well, don’t worry – there’s great news!
Wendy‘s currently running a 12 week blueprint programme which outlines her ‘four R formula’.
Want to overcome that fear of rejection or guide your teams towards having better conversations?
Well, then you need to click this.
Sign up now to make sure you don’t miss the opportunity to improve every aspect of your lead-generation.
Using decades of knowledge and experience, Wendy can help you get the results you want, quickly.
Follow and listen on Apple Podcasts now by clicking this:
Seriously? Hey, “Making Conversations Count” podcast team! Are Wendy and her guest actually suggesting that using lazy marketing can be of benefit to a struggling business?
Absolutely they are.
First of all, get yourself out of the mindset that being lazy (at least in this context) is a negative thing.
There are a lot of really good benefits enjoyed by someone who gets to wake up lazily, and have a lazy start to their day.
They can afford the time to do stuff that serves them, and their health.
They can go to the gym whenever they like, and enjoy a guilt-free work out.
They can have a nice relaxed breakfast.
They can spend more of their morning with their family.
They can enjoy more time to think, without the constant pressure of having to make decisions that keep their business in ‘survive’ rather than ‘thrive’.
This allows them make decisions based off facts instead emotion or impulse which could lead down an expensive road with no return on investment (ROI).
Al Tepper explains this common struggle he finds in businesses he’s working with.
“So lazy marketing, when you think about it from a marketing context, what it does is it says, “Imagine if we could make you not just a business leader, but a better marketing leader”, because you’re already a marketing leader.
If you’re the CEO of a small start-up and you’ve got five staff, unless you’ve got a marketing director in the business, maybe you’ve got a marketing manager, or even a marketing executive with two years’ experience out of university, they would be the marketing leader. But most start-ups don’t start up with a marketing function.
So therefore, the MD’s probably the marketing leader, but they don’t know anything about marketing.”
Right, so what IS using lazy marketing? What does that even mean.
Well, you’re going to have to listen to the episode to fully understand that, but here is a super quick summary.
Using lazy marketing means, ‘get educated with marketing knowledge that is specific to your brand’.
This means you can maximise your marketing power without distractions from opportunist agencies trying to sell you your services.
How do agencies get you to buy their useless products?
They use your lack of knowledge and insight around the subject matter to sell you something that’s not in your best interest while promising results you’ll never fully understand or even witness.
Watch the episode promo!
Managed to catch the previous episode yet? Click play on the player below to listen!
Ok fine. I know I have to avoid using agencies and start using lazy marketing. So can I just start?
Whoa! Hold on there a second.
We’ve now had seventy episodes of “Making Conversations Count” podcast, and have you ever known us to suggest you just start doing something without listening to the full conversation first?
There’s a lot to this.
Using lazy marketing is not something you can just read a blog post on, and start taking action.
You need the context.
And here’s an example of why you need to listen.
Without these insights, your taking action will simply lead to more inaction.
“I can’t tell you how many organisations I’ve been in where they are as misguided about the customer, about the value they provide.
They don’t understand themselves, so what chance have they got in communicating anything about themselves to the customer?!”
(Full transcript here)
Sales is not marketing, and should not be the priority either
In this episode, Wendy and her guest Al also explain the difference between marketing and sales.
“The challenge is, sales does come after marketing, not just in the dictionary, but in reality; and most good sales leaders will accept that. Most great salespeople I’ve spoken to have said, “Absolutely. I don’t want to do marketing’s job”, and marketing’s job is to get people to salespeople so they can close them.”
You can listen to the episode to get the full explanation of that, but essentially, marketing is about creating a relationship with the customer, while sales is about closing a deal with the customer.
As a business owner, it’s important to understand the distinction between these two roles in order to create an effective marketing strategy.”
During this episode you’ll learn:
- What does using lazy marketing actually look like in a business?
- Why you need to think very seriously if you’re considering using a marketing agency
- Why you need to stop thinking negatively when you’re thinking of the word ‘lazy’
- Why using lazy marketing keeps you in control even when you outsource
- Why you need to stop deluding yourself that your marketing is currently working
- Why your claims that you’re too ‘busy’ to do marketing are more than likely a fiction you’re telling yourself
Do you have any tips for how you’ve been using lazy marketing, or any thoughts on those marketing agencies who just want your cash?
We’d love to mention them and you on a future episode.
Share them with us, by clicking here.
Al’s advice for using lazy marketing
Al has advice for anyone who might be thinking of getting started with using lazy marketing.
“Using lazy marketing means we can turn business leaders into marketing leaders.
Let’s help them do less and get more.
Let’s help them have control over their marketing so that they can outsource it and still maintain control of it”
So, Wendy’s takeaway from the conversation in this episode about using lazy marketing with Al Tepper?
“Al does a great job of helping us understand that using lazy marketing is about identifying which is the best priority.
Because you don’t have to be the best at all of them.
It’s like seeing all the different marketing channels a little bit like all the different tasks within a business; you’re not going to be brilliant at them all..”
Did you enjoy this conversation about using lazy marketing and Al’s thoughts around using it to avoid being ripped off by marketing agencies?
Wil you now consider how you’re going to be using lazy marketing in your own business?
We love to hear from you.
Please do let us know your take-aways from this episode by leaving a comment at https://makingconversationscount.studio/Review-Al-Tepper
Want to carry on the conversation with Al?
Al’s website: https://www.tepfu.com/
Al’s letter to listeners
Hi, my name is Al Tepper and I have decades of proven experience helping large and small businesses tackle the marketing challenge head-on.
I was given 600 words to write you a letter to accompany the podcast. If it’s ok with you I want to tell you a story and some key truths about marketing that will change how you approach everything in business.
If you would like me to tell you what your biggest marketing quick win is then this is for you.
We have turned countless business leaders into marketing leaders over the last 20 years.
It all starts here with our free 20 question scorecard showing you quick wins to grow your business.
And don’t forget to message me at the end to find out what I think your biggest quick marketing win is. Start here:
I got into marketing for so many reasons but the one that resonates the most is about my Mum and her small business.
She was a hard-working and busy housewife whilst Dad was a company director.
She wanted to achieve even more than running the home for us all.
To prove to the world what she was really capable of.
So she convinced my Dad to help fund a business idea.
He said yes. She was so happy. For the first time in her life, she was in charge of her own destiny.
But no one told her about marketing and so she was a WELL-KEPT SECRET.
When the business inevitably collapsed she was devastated.
Her business had collapsed because she like so many others believed:
If you build it they will come.
And in marketing, it is one of the biggest lies.
Here’s the truth on that one and a few others:
1. If you build it they will come? They won’t! Why? Because they have no idea you even exist sadly let alone what you do and why you’re awesome.
- If you launch it, they’d support you? They didn’t! Not because they didn’t want to, they were just too busy, and let’s face it we all get easily distracted.
- People love you? I’m sure people do love you. But nobody makes business decisions on that basis. And even if they did, how many people do you think love you?
- Marketing & Sales is easy? Nope. With 10s of 000s of marketing messages hitting us each day, it takes a minimum of 17-25 touchpoints to move people to action.
- You just need to sell more and harder? Marketing comes before Sales for a reason. Selling is easy with great marketing. Delivery then becomes essential.
- Don’t spend time and money on marketing. You can just wing it? Hopefully, you take your business more seriously than that and are coachable.
- Definitely don’t spend effort on brand? You are probably operating in a crowded competitive space and if your brand isn’t remarkable, sadly, no one will care.
- You need to buy attention? If your content isn’t driving your markets conversation, no one will be engaging you and when the paid spend stops so will the business.
- Stay flexible, no need to have a plan? If you’re not proactively leveraging a marketing strategy into campaigns, your target will not notice you.
- Markets are conversations. So you need to focus on how conversational your marketing is and get better at being a conversation master for the business.
Thanks for reading. Which lie resonated the most for you? Find me on LinkedIn here https://www.linkedin.com/in/altepper/
“Making Conversations Count” is a podcast from WAG Associates founder and telemarketing trainer Wendy Harris.
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Full Episode Transcript - Conversation about using lazy marketing - "Making Conversations Count"
|Title:||Making Conversations about Lazy Marketing Count|
|Guest:||Al Tepper, TepFu|
00:03:19: All about TepFu and lazy marketing
00:08:47: How Al became a strategist
00:11:20: Conversations around client expectations
00:14:30: Marketing precedes sales
00:16:02: All people in all businesses are in marketing
00:21:08: Chasing the “no” is as important as chasing the “yes”
00:22:46: Using audio/phone calls for building relationships
00:26:51: Understand your customer and what they want
00:28:22: Marketing is all about the feels
00:31:02: Hunting for clients the correct way
00:35:21: Know your strengths and involve the right people
00:38:50: Al’s pivotal conversation
00:44:53: Final thoughts
Wendy Harris: Sales and marketing can be such an overwhelming topic. Everybody has to do sales and marketing. It can be consuming for the social channels, for the strategy, for the sheer time that it takes to get your head around what you should be doing. We’re joined by Al Tepper of TepFu, and he says we should be doing less for more, and it’s all about how you go about doing that.
What’s new, Wendy Woo? Well, I’ve been coaching around a dozen call centre agents, and one of the key barriers for them to dial out and reach customers was in their introduction, whilst recording calls for GDPR training and monitoring purposes has been able to help me coach them and feedback on the call. It’s also really important that you lead with the reason for the call first, gain the customer’s attention and then casually mention it as part of the framework for the call. Their call rate and success to get through, not surprisingly, has gone through the roof.
What’s new this week, Wendy Woo? Well, those call centre agents that I mentioned and their introduction have moved onto the follow-up process, and of course whilst having a process and a framework to follow, the chances are that when you’re following up that key hot prospect, you’re still going to struggle to reach them the first time you attempt it. So, a key message from me to anybody that is doing those follow-ups is to keep going, keep trying, because the resilience that you will show will be in the reward when you do get hold of them.
So, let’s get Al to tell us more about how we can be Making Conversations about Lazy Marketing Count. Al Tepper, 20-odd years’ experience in marketing in your field, owner of TepFu, tell us a little bit more about you help us be lazy at marketing, and I love that!
Al Tepper: Yes, me too. There’s a great story about where it came from as well. Well fundamentally, we’re all business owners and we’re all busy and we’re all specialists in what we do and we’re crap at everything else. That’s the bottom line and if you disagree with me, you’re wrong, because you can’t be good at everything, it’s not possible; it’s just not possible. And, getting out of my own way has been my single biggest challenge over the last five, six years of business.
So, what TepFu does is bring the marketing piece. Now, what we don’t do currently is press buttons. I’m not interested in the operational side as much as I’m interested in the strategic side, because operations with our strategy is a bit like getting in a car and randomly asking your sat nav to take you somewhere. You might think that you know where you want to go, but you probably don’t, and the sat nav will take you there. The flip side of that, with strategy, is you get in the car, you know exactly where you want to go, you tell the sat nav to take you there, it plots out the best route, and then you execute the route.
Wendy Harris: Yeah, and you can even put pitstops in.
Al Tepper: Yeah, you can build in time, you can build in stopovers, because it’s proactive as opposed to being reactive. The philosophy of lazy marketing is all about helping people do less and get more. And the reality is that works all the time.
Wendy Harris: I love that.
Al Tepper: Absolutely, because most people subscribe to the school of thought of, and this is best illustrated from a bumper sticker I once saw in America in the 1990s and it said, “Look busy, Jesus is coming!” In business, what we do is we’re like, “Right, business is good, but it could be better; get busier, we must work harder. It’s going wrong because we’re not working hard enough”, and the reality is that’s not true, it’s about working smart, not hard. There’s efficient things you can do, there’s automation, there’s outsourcing, there’s out-tasking, you can employ people, there are so many ways you can do stuff.
But the problem is, when a small business starts, let’s look at who it’s started by. It’s started by an entrepreneur and/or somebody who needs to make some money. They’ve lost their job or they’ve left their job, they want to go out on their own, they might not be that entrepreneurial, but they definitely want to make their own living. So, they’re sick of being told what to do and everyone that told them what to do didn’t know what they were doing, and so they know how to do it better. So, they now build something and they don’t let go of anything, because the way they build it is by not letting go of it.
Wendy Harris: Because they don’t trust anybody else, because that’s what happened before.
Al Tepper: Correct, and they know how to do it best, “I don’t need anybody else, I’ll do what I need to do”. So, what they do is they build the business through control. In the early stages of a business, you build it through control, because you can control it because it’s small, and sometimes it’s nascent, it’s not even born yet and you can control it. But the biggest single reason why small businesses fail to turn into medium businesses is because entrepreneurs fail to let go. So what happens is, it falls apart around them, because they can’t do everything and they get so busy, things fall apart.
So lazy marketing, when you think about it from a marketing context, what it does is it says, “Imagine if we could make you not just a business leader, but a better marketing leader”, because you’re already a marketing leader. If you’re the CEO of a small start-up and you’ve got five staff, unless you’ve got a marketing director in the business, maybe you’ve got a marketing manager, or even a marketing executive with two years’ experience out of university, they would be the marketing leader. But most start-ups don’t start up with a marketing function.
So therefore, the MD’s probably the marketing leader, but they don’t know anything about marketing. And it could be a 50-strong law firm, where the senior partner is in charge of marketing, but they don’t know anything about marketing. They got the gig, they pulled the short straw because back in the 1970s, somebody had a picture of them at Woodstock in a tie-dye T-shirt, therefore they are the creative hippy, give them the marketing brief.
Wendy Harris: Yeah, it sorts of falls under press and communications really, doesn’t it?
Al Tepper: Yeah, press, comms, marketing, anything creative, design, art, anyone with any of those backgrounds, if you’re a senior partner in a law firm, you’re going to get lumbered with the marketing brief, but they don’t know how to do anything. So, someone has to come along, before agencies pile in and relieve them of their budgets and start delivering to one degree or another, or not, because one of the options of employing an agency is nothing happens, obviously. Before that happens, let’s accept that right now, you don’t have a strategy.
So, when you go out to an agency straightaway, what you’re going to do is you’re going to let them tell you what the strategy is. Is it possible they’ve got a vested interest in telling you what the strategy is to make it suit what they offer? It’s possible. If it’s an SEO agency, are they going to tell you that SEO’s irrelevant? If they’re a Facebook ad agency, are they going to tell you, “Actually, you don’t need Facebook ads now”? Some agencies are ethical and would say, “Actually, we’re not right for you, you need to go here”, but there’s a lot of agencies that will just take the money and do their best.
But what happens if you could have a strategy created by you internally? Well then, there’s no bias, there’s no risk is there, because it’s your strategy, not been built by anyone with a vested interest. The only vested interest I have is in your strategy working, because then you’re going to tell everyone I’m amazing, hooray and I get more customers, it’s brilliant and it works, it just totally works.
So, lazy marketing means, “Let’s turn business leaders into marketing leaders. Let’s help them do less and get more. Let’s help them have control over their marketing so that they can outsource it and still maintain control of it”, and that’s effectively what we’re doing; that’s what TepFu does.
Wendy Harris: What got you into the strategy side of things then, Al?
Al Tepper: Well, I started in 1998 as a marketing assistant in a publishing company, and I was constantly aware that my boss was — my boss was a marketing manager and they were constantly fighting fires. One thing I learned in the first five years, if I learnt nothing else, was this: no matter what plan you have in business, especially in marketing, as a famous general once said, “The best plan doesn’t last longer than the first five minutes in any battle”.
So, one of the biggest challenges in marketing in a small business was fundamentally, we’ve got a plan, but every ten minutes, the MD is going to come out of the office with another brilliant idea and tell us to stop doing everything and just focus on this. So, what happens is the marketing manager says, “No, we can’t do that, we’ve got to do this, because that’s the plan” and the MD says, “No, we’ve got to do that”, and the plan gets overruled and thrown out. So then, the marketing team are just bouncing around, reacting to whatever the MD wants.
I looked at that and I thought, “That’s a really silly, inefficient way of doing this. Why wouldn’t we have a plan?” And then I started to realise that we didn’t have a plan because actually, there was no marketing strategy beyond, “How are we going to leverage a channel to reach an audience?” That’s not marketing strategy, that’s marketing plan. And I realised that if we had a strategy, if we could be clever about this, if we could do something different that none of our competitors do, if we could use messaging cleverly to get across our message in a way that communicated what we were about and outpositioned the competition, wouldn’t the marketing plan be more effective and easier? Yes.
I tested it and 23 years later, here I am, and the result is I have countless clients who, within days, if not weeks, of doing stuff are seeing the fruits of their labour, no big risks on spending lots of money on lots of channels. They don’t have to do anything that isn’t organic. All of my strategies start off organic, because if you can get organic working for your business, that’s when you accelerate it with paid spend.
Now, sometimes that’s not true. Sometimes, if you’re a start-up and you’ve got to hit the market really hard and you’ve got £1 million in the bank, sure, go nuts, spend loads of money on Facebook ads, or whatever other paid mechanism you want, pay-per-click, whatever. But most small businesses aren’t that, they can’t afford that.
Wendy Harris: It’s that famous phrase of, “Well, it depends, doesn’t it?” And the decision to spend has got to be considered, so you need to understand all of the facts and ramifications of what it is that you’re going to be doing. So, I imagine that you have some interesting conversations with clients, where they have an expectation themselves that they’ve formulated and you have to unpick that. How does that affect what you do, Al?
Al Tepper: Brilliant, because I’m a very nice, kind human. I put kindness and love first, I have a rose quartz heart next to my desk to remind me all the time to choose love, because love wins, and I’m just honest with people. I had a marketing agency ask me to help them. Actually, they were a branding agency and they asked me to help them. When they approached me they said, “I need 20 people in by the following month, I need it asap”, and they gave me all these stats and they told me where they want their business to be”.
I said, “That’s all great, but that’s all made up. You’ve got a piece of paper and you’ve said this is what you want. What’s reality today?” and they said, “What do you mean?” and I said, “Where are you against those numbers today?” and they said, “Nowhere”. I said, “Right, and what’s the size of your email list?” “We don’t have one”. “What are you doing on the social?” “We’re not doing anything”. I said, “Well, why are you deciding to go from nobody’s ever heard of me, to Olympic athlete, in a month; and do you think that’s realistic?” “No”.
Then we get to the point where they accept they don’t know what they’re doing and they say, “Right, what is realistic, Al?” “Thank you, now you’re starting to leverage what I know. So, what’s realistic is we’re going to go through this process, we’re going to do this and we’re going to do this”. The end result, they pushed back about three or four times during the process, “I don’t see how this is relevant, I don’t get this”. And at the end, when everything comes into full view, I get a message from them saying, “Oh my God, you’re a genius!” “Thank you very much”.
I don’t think I’m a genius, for me it’s common sense, I’m just following a process. And the reality is, I can only work with people who are coachable. I can’t work with people who know more about marketing than me, because if they know more about marketing than me, first of all, why do you need me; and secondly, you’re just going to disagree with everything I say, and I’ve been doing this an awful lot. And I’ve said this to people, “Why don’t we save ourselves the hassle. You’re good at marketing, go for it for six months, let’s check in in six months, no stress”.
I’m not just going to sell stuff to people. There’s lots of agencies who would, but I’d rather walk away and invariably what happens is, six months later or about four months later, I get another message saying — I’ve had this from the founder of one of the UK’s leading SEO agencies who I did a piece of work for. They went away, tried it on their own and I got a message from them on LinkedIn from the CEO saying, “I give in. All roads lead back to Al Tepper”, and then we do the engagement and on we go.
I’m not making it up to make money, I’m not making it up at all, I’m saying it because it’s true. So, I go into every conversation with just truth and kindness, and you can’t really go wrong.
Wendy Harris: Going back to what you were saying about when entrepreneurs start a business and they are the marketing, often they concentrate on the sales, don’t they? And I’ve had this conversation with many guests before, that it’s umbrellaed and it’s “sales and marketing”. I was talking with Vicki Carroll about it and numerous guests, and it was like, “Actually, the marketing comes first, because that’s what helps the sales”.
Al Tepper: Of course it does.
Wendy Harris: So, it should be “marketing and sales” and that’s a vital piece of the puzzle that gets left behind sometimes, isn’t it?
Al Tepper: And it’s understandable. It’s because marketing is long term and sales is short term. So, when you’re an MD and you’re focused on bringing in money because you’ve got to pay your bills, marketing seems like it’s going to take too long, because if you don’t know how to do it and you don’t know how to move quickly, yeah, it will take long, of course it would. If I tried to engineer a plane, it would take me forever. Whereas, if I just went to an engineering company who know how to build planes, it would take a couple of weeks, they’ve got the blueprints already.
The challenge is, sales does come after marketing, not just in the dictionary, but in reality; and most good sales leaders will accept that. Most great salespeople I’ve spoken to have said, “Absolutely. I don’t want to do marketing’s job”, and marketing’s job is to get people to salespeople so they can close them. Now, it needs to get relevant people, qualified people, but people live under the illusion they don’t need to do marketing, they can just do sales, and then they say to a salesperson, “Go and find your own leads”. Well, that’s marketing. Or, “Take this phone book and start calling everyone”. Well that’s marketing.
The bottom line is, what is comes do is you’re either doing your own marketing, or you’re doing your competitors’ marketing. There is not a situation in your business where you’re not doing marketing. You are doing marketing for someone, the question is who.
Wendy Harris: It’s an interesting point that you make there really, Al, because the couple of days’ work that I did recently, the director was calling the internal outbound team his “telesales”. And I had to say, “Well, therein lies some of your problem, is that they’re not sales, they’re marketing. They’re the people that are going to get them in front of your salesguys. They’re looking to introduce and qualify, that’s basically what they’re doing”. So, I had to say, “Telesales is when you’ve got a product and you’re looking after a customer, that’s customer service, it’s account management, that’s telesales. Telemarketing is different”.
Al Tepper: Yeah, telesales is when you’re selling on the phone, isn’t it?
Wendy Harris: Yeah.
Al Tepper: Yeah, telesales is when you’re selling on the phone, “Give me your credit card details and we’ll get that dispatched”. That, to me, would be telesales.
Wendy Harris: Yeah, order completion.
Al Tepper: Absolutely. I always ask this question, especially when I’m in front of a room of people, I say to them, “Right, who’s in business?” so everyone puts their hands up. I say, “Right, who’s in sales?” Everyone puts their hands up. I say, “Who’s in marketing?” 40% of the people will put their hands up. Of course, it’s a trick question. Who isn’t in marketing? We’re all in marketing.
The most boring person in your organisation doing the most boring work is in marketing, whether they are in any department, whatever you think — your caretaker is in marketing. I’m not saying they’re boring and I’m not saying it’s boring work. It would be to me, because I hate mopping stuff, but your caretaker’s in marketing, because when your client’s walking around your office, if your office looks crap, or if the caretaker’s there and he stinks of booze, or if the caretaker’s there in reception chatting rubbish to the receptionist and distracting them from dealing with the client…
Everyone’s in marketing, everything you do is in marketing, every piece of paper you send out. Everywhere your brand appears, it’s all marketing.
Wendy Harris: Yeah, in perceptions.
Al Tepper: Yeah, you’ve got to own that.
Wendy Harris: I’ve got to ask then, Al, do you ever make calls yourself for your business?
Al Tepper: If I’m honest, I haven’t made a call outbound probably since 2016. Since I started and worked on my initial core of people that I had known in business and was talking to them about moving out and doing my own thing. That doesn’t mean I don’t value it, I do. The reality is, and there’s no way to say this without sounding like an arrogant arse, but I’m really good at what I do, I don’t need to. I’m just at that place where I’ve got so much organic coming in all the time, I’m blessed.
Wendy Harris: I raise the question for a really good point, Al, because entrepreneurs, and I know this, they need the skills, but don’t want to admit that they need them, so they don’t do it. But they want to be in a position where they have got returning customers and referrals and inbound enquiries. So, it’s kind of fundamental to getting that ball rolling, isn’t it?
Al Tepper: Oh, there’s no way, certainly if you’re a starting business in year one, I’m the only person that’s me, so maybe I’m an exception, but 99.9% of businesses, especially in year one, but the reality is not everyone’s in the same industry as me, not everyone’s got the same mouthpiece as me. I’m very shameless and extrovert, I’m very able to speak easily, I speak at a lot of events. Not everyone has the same personality as me, so you’re not going to have the same marketing and it’s not going to have the same impact.
For most people, if you ask them that question, they are doing outbound, of course they are. I’m an exception, not the rule. And when I see it, as a marketing person, and I see them doing outbound calls and I listen to what they’re saying and it’s proper facepalm, because it’s just damaging. And they don’t see it and they won’t work with other people, because of course they know their business best. They have trust issues, Wendy, they have massive trust issues. Entrepreneurs have the most trust issues in the world, because it’s about money and they’re worried about people nicking it, right.
Wendy Harris: The thing is, it’s personal, isn’t it? When it’s your business, it’s personal. It’s not the same as taking the money out the cash machine that the employer has put in there for you. It can be faceless, can’t it, being an employee; but when it’s your business, it’s so personal. But I think it’s right. I mean, this is kind of the message that I’m looking to encourage, really, talking to guests like yourself, Al, is that the conversations that you have outbound and how you set yourself up from that cold starting point translates to being in the room with strangers networking, it translates when you strike up a conversation out of the blue, a serendipitous moment at the bus stop, for example.
If you don’t have those fundamental skills, then how do you translate what you say into what you say online and through your marketing?
Al Tepper: Most companies can’t, and they don’t. They have to get help. And if you’re a sales organisation, if you’re a sales-led organisation in the sense that, let’s say you’re a double-glazing business or a software company or even a restaurant, almost every business could have more customers, but they don’t have enough people and they don’t have enough marketing. So, if you’ve got a list or you’ve got a defined target, why wouldn’t you be speaking to them?
Now, you’d be speaking to them on email, you’d be speaking to them on social; why wouldn’t someone be picking up the phone and talking to people? Not, “Hi, would you like to buy our stuff?” but relationship-building, telemarketing, “Hi, you’re an MD. We think we’re relevant to you. Are we correct? No? No problem, we’ll go away”, qualified out, lovely. I always say to people, chasing nos is way more valuable than chasing yesses, and yet we all focus on chasing yesses. But if you just chase the nos and get rid of the nos, what you’re left with is yesses, and that’s a much easier way to get to yesses, because then you’re not hassling the yesses, you’re hassling the no, in a sense. You’re speaking to the no, qualifying them out, great, let them go.
Someone once said to me, “The easier you make it for people to leave, the more valuable it is when they stay”. So, radical call strategies around almost forcing the opt out, “I just wanted to call and check that our event on this date wasn’t of interest to you? The MD thought it might be, I’m not sure, because you haven’t responded to anything else in the past. I’m just checking, that event isn’t of interest to you? Oh, it is?” or, “It isn’t?” Great, confirmed, gone. It’s not rocket science. People buy from people. So, the human voice is still the most powerful marketing channel people have, by miles.
Wendy Harris: And interestingly, 2022 is seeing a lot more audio coming through on all platforms, all social media platforms now, isn’t it?
Al Tepper: Yeah, well Clubhouse raised the bar. Clubhouse, I don’t think, will survive. I mean, it’s never going to be much bigger than it is today, I don’t think. But if you look at the impact on Facebook, creating Spaces; if you look at Twitter, I think they’ve got Spaces too. So audio has a place, because some people prefer audio, some people are auditory first. We’re talking right now, I’m listening. I could look away and I can still have a conversation with you by not paying attention visually, but I can still hear everything you say. And I think it’s very underrated, isn’t it?
I think the problem with the industry, and I think you hit this right at the start, is people don’t understand the difference between telesales and telemarketing. So, they think anything to do with the phone is going to be salesy and aggressive. It’s not at all. Relationship-building, you can’t be aggressive.
But if you’ve got 500 customers on your books and there’s 50 staff, you can’t, especially the MD, the MD cannot speak to 500 people a year, it’s not going to happen, you’re going to miss someone. So, why wouldn’t you have a check process for some kind of outbound calling, even if it’s just checking, “Hi, it’s Al here from TepFu. It’s your birthday today. John is in meetings all day, but he asked me specifically to call you and wish you a happy birthday on behalf of the team here. Are you doing anything nice? What’s your favourite cake?” Great, we know what their favourite cake is, put that in the CRM, “What, you’re into Star Wars?” Brilliant, we’ll put that. It’s just relationship-building, isn’t it? Why don’t people do that? We do it on LinkedIn. When it’s someone’s birthday, we send them a message, on Facebook we send them a message.
Wendy Harris: This is why I loved LinkedIn so much, is that LinkedIn has actually been purposely built with psychology behind it, with the human interaction behind it, to encourage that, and that’s how it’s been developed. So, when you get that notification to say it’s somebody’s birthday, send the happy birthday.
Al Tepper: Why wouldn’t you?
Wendy Harris: Exactly. And when people say, “I hate it when I get 200 messages saying happy birthday”, you grumpy git. Why would you not want? You don’t have to reply to everybody.
Al Tepper: Well, what’s the alternative? The alternative is no messages, so how would that make you feel. Again, this comes back to what we take for granted. People forget how lucky they are. I once had a photography client, they were a photo studio, and they really struggled to position the value of photography, and I understand why, because it’s expensive at the start. It’s not expensive, but you’re going to lay out some money for some images.
Wendy Harris: Yeah, the return on investment can be a little bit invisible, can’t it?
Al Tepper: Right. So, I came up with a strapline for them that was basically, “People don’t value photographs until that’s all that’s left”, then they value photographs. When your gran’s passed away and all you’ve got are the photos, how much are those photos worth? They’re the first thing you’d rescue in the first, right?
So, the reality is, it’s about messaging, it’s all about strategy and messaging, and that photographer took that away and started talking about that, and you’re not paying for them today. I mean, I’ve got a picture on my wall here that I bought when my son was born from some company on the high street that did the old free photoshoot, and then they get you with the photos, because the photos are amazing. I’ve got this photo there, I mean this picture’s 16 years old, and we spent a fortune. At the time, we’re like, “Oh my God, we can’t spend this, but we have to”. Now, how glad am I that I’ve got this picture? Oh my God, it’s when my son was a baby.
Wendy Harris: Yeah, it’s priceless.
Al Tepper: It’s something that happened that I can’t even replicate it. So, what’s it worth to me now? Way more than what I paid.
Wendy Harris: That’s the magic of marketing, I think, when you can key into the emotions of people, that you don’t leave regret on the table, that it’s the best decision to make, even if it’s more than you want to spend. It doesn’t matter, don’t regret it later.
Al Tepper: And that’s when marketing and sales works beautifully, doesn’t it, when a consumer, when a customer says to you afterwards, “Thanks for pushing me on that, that was the right decision. Thanks for keeping on at me. We got there in the end and I needed to get there”. The real art, and Steve Jobs talked about this, the real art of marketing isn’t even in giving people what they want. In fact, the real art of business, sales and marketing is in knowing what people want when they don’t know what they want, really understanding your customer and knowing.
So, I know things about marketing, and I know if someone’s here and they want to get to here, they’re going to have to go through these stages; I know that fact in my head, so I just try and tell people that, and it’s the same thing. I don’t want anybody to feel pushed into anything. I’ve walked away from plenty of prospects, because I can feel I would have to push them to do it. I don’t want to be pushy, I want them to get there and understand it.
Wendy Harris: It’s hard enough doing that at home with the family, isn’t it?
Al Tepper: What, getting them to do stuff? Well, I’d better be careful, because I may be one of the guilty parties! I should have to be cautious in choosing my words judiciously! But ultimately, everyone wants to buy, no one wants to be sold to, and so if you’re the company that helps your prospects buy most frictionlessly, most effortlessly, without negative emotions, Maya Angelou said, “People who are at your funeral, people won’t talk about what you said and they won’t talk about what you did, they’ll talk about how you made them feel”.
Marketing a business is all about the feels, it’s all about how you make people feel. If you walk into a shop and they’re on you, they pounce and they’re salesy, you aren’t going back. If you walk in and they say, “Hi, here if you need me” and then carrying on doing what they’re doing, lovely. Or, if they’ve got a little treat or — it’s about how you make people feel. So with calls, Wendy, I’m sure you would agree that those calls, and you’ve already pointed this out, you can’t be angry, aggressive, needy, urgent, demanding, stressed, presumptuous, but you wouldn’t do that at a dinner party either.
Wendy Harris: No, absolutely, it’s kind of like the LinkedIn invitation to connect, isn’t it, or going into a networking room with your business cards in your pocket. You’re not going to just walk up to somebody and go, “Hi, here’s my business card, do you want to buy this stuff?”
Al Tepper: Not if you want to get invited back anyway!
Wendy Harris: No, exactly, you’re going to get lots of nos then, aren’t you, and a few choice words, quite possibly. But for me, it’s about reframing the positioning. And often, the emphasis is on how many appointments we’ve got to make, how many quotes we’ve got to create, so they’ve got that target.
Going back to what you were saying, they wanted to get to here, they wanted 20 inbound leads, so they’re going out for them. I’m going, “Well, it really doesn’t matter how many appointments you need, because if your approach is going to be all about how brilliant your business is, and if you’re going to go ‘we’ing on them, ‘We are this brilliant and our customers say we’re wonderful because…’, the person at the other end of the phone that you’re trying to influence is going, ‘So what?'”
Al Tepper: “Why is he talking to me about him? I’m busy. When’s this going to be about me?” and I’ve seen that done, I’ve seen calls done wrong, where they’re just barking at you down the phone and it’s like, “You guys are nuts. Does this work; does it work?” and they also get defensive, “Yeah, it works really well”, I’m sure it does.
Wendy Harris: Very, very low percentages.
Al Tepper: I’m definitely not your customer then!
Wendy Harris: No, absolutely.
Al Tepper: If your customers are the ones responding to this…
Wendy Harris: Yeah, imagine the success you could have if you just did it a bit more humanly.
Al Tepper: Yeah, you’re trying too hard. Imagine if you could try less hard and get more? I mean, what a crazy idea.
Wendy Harris: Lazy telemarketing. I love it!
Al Tepper: Lazy telemarketing, there you go. You heard it here first, people. But I suspect you’re already practising lazy telemarketing. I suspect that your people will be very well trained to be relationship drivers as opposed to hunters. And you know what, sometimes hunting is fine too. In a certain context, if you’ve got an event next week, you can close the sales cycle down and say, “Look, I’m not going to waste a lot of your time. Hi, John, thanks for taking the call. Big CFO next week with Deloitte [or whatever] they’ve asked me to make sure you’re on the list. Are you free on Tuesday or not?”
Sometimes you can shortcut and get to the point, and it’s still not being hunty; you’re still not being aggressive about it. I think people value people who get to the point actually, especially business owners. They don’t have enough time.
Wendy Harris: I hear this sort of hunter/farmer analogy and I always say, I fish. So, I have my spear and I look in the pond and it’s a big pond.
Al Tepper: I like that.
Wendy Harris: Sometimes it can be a small pond, but you know which fish it is that you want, so you calculate it. I got asked a question, “How do you stay upbeat when you have 50 calls to make?” Well actually, you’re not going to speak to 50 people that you want to speak to.
Al Tepper: If you make 50 calls and do 50 effective calls, that would be impressive!
Wendy Harris: Absolutely. You’re going to speak to probably 48 voicemails. So, you have to learn to deal with the machine.
Al Tepper: Very definitely. I think that’s a skill in business, you’ve got to be undefeatable, you’ve got to be ever hopeful, and you’ve got to be focused on not taking anything personally, especially so. I mean, I used to work in publishing and there were often ad sales teams and at events, they would delegate acquisition teams, and they’re just burning through lists, just pillaging lists. We got them to shift that around, because those people would never speak to that organisation ever again.
I think one of the challenges in your world, especially when it’s inhouse and then they’re outsourcing it, is culturally they’re used to cracking some skulls and, “Let’s go and get them”. If your clients, if your prospects heard what salespeople and marketing people say about them in the business, so many companies would be out of business. A long time ago when I was going at, what was his name? Ratner, do you remember Gerald Ratner, the jeweller? He was famously quoted as saying, “We sell rubbish jewellery”, and it killed his business.
But I can’t tell you how many organisations I’ve been in where they are as misguided about the customer, about the value they provide. They don’t understand themselves, so what chance have they got in communicating anything about themselves to the customer. That’s why working with specialists is vital, because I know marketing and you’ve got the tele end of it; anything to do with the phone, why would I do that myself? I don’t have the systems, I don’t have the processes. How many calls have you made in your life, Wendy? Hundreds of thousands?
Wendy Harris: I think last I looked, it was about 1.5 million.
Al Tepper: Well, there you go. So, having done it 1.5 million times, I’m pretty confident you’ll know more about it than me. At the very least, why wouldn’t I pay you for some strategic consultancy to help me set it up internally, because I want to keep it internal. Why would I just wing it myself and, “Let’s do it our way”? Even if they’re not going to use you to do it, why wouldn’t they get the consultancy from you to set it up right?
Wendy Harris: It was a conversation I had with Brad Sugars where he said, “They’ve given up because they’ve made five calls. It doesn’t work”. Well, it won’t, because it’s likely that you didn’t actually speak to anybody either. Translating that to your world, Al, is about getting people to shift from networks and perhaps audiences and creating your own audience and bringing that data internally so that you can be having the right conversation through those different channels.
That’s kind of how I see the positioning, and it’s then about identifying which is the best priority, because you don’t have to be the best at all of them. It’s like seeing all the different marketing channels a little bit like all the different tasks within a business; you’re not going to be brilliant at them all.
Al Tepper: You can’t be good at everything, it’s not possible. And it took me three years to get that through my thick skull, actually, because I was guilty of it as well. I’ve outsourced my marketing myself to someone in the business who’s now in charge of it, because I became the bottleneck, not because I don’t know about marketing, but because I’m too busy growing the business, coaching and consulting 99% of my time that I couldn’t own my own brief anymore.
You have to be very humble in business, you have to really be very emotionally together in the sense of, you can’t take things personally, you just can’t. You have to make the best decision to achieve your objectives, and most of the time that’s involving other people. You can’t do it on your own.
Wendy Harris: It’s important to say that best decision can be changed and altered and guided in a new direction when it’s not the best decision anymore, but you’ve got to make the best decision at some point, haven’t you, to be able to make some form of progress, to take some action on something?
Al Tepper: Yeah, it has to result in action. People always say they’re busy, “Tell me about the last five meetings you had? What was the agenda; how long did it last; what was the outcome? You can’t remember? Oh, it was a really good coffee talking about your holidays, and you think you’re busy? You’re wasting time”. And we enable that, we do that an awful lot, because we want to get busy, we want to feel busy because, remember that bumper sticker at the beginning?
Whether it’s Jesus or your boss or whoever, whoever’s watching and is going to critique you, and even if you’re your own boss, your family’s watching, because they want to go on a nicer holiday. So, there’s always someone watching so therefore, we make ourselves busy. And I’ve discovered recently, especially people-pleasers do this, and I’m a recovered people-pleaser, by the way, we make ourselves busy, because that’s the way we know we’re doing things that are going to generate positive rewards for us.
Actually, what I’ve discovered recently is that people-pleasing is a mild form of narcissism; its very passage, you’re trying to influence how people think about you. So, in business, we try and get busy because if everyone thinks I’m busy, then surely I’ll be more successful, but everyone will be more sympathetic because I’m really busy. Wow, everyone needs way more therapy than they’re getting.
Wendy Harris: Well, Al, I could talk to you about marketing all day long, but we need to stay on track because we’re busy, aren’t we?
Al Tepper: Indeed we are.
Wendy Harris: So, it comes to the point where I need to ask you about that pivotal conversation that you can recall that created a turning point, and why it did?
Al Tepper: I’ve thought about this a lot, there’s quite a few, it’s hard to know which one to focus on. It could be the one where a colleague told me not to name my business TepFu; it could be the one where a colleague reminded me to be humble; it could be the one where somebody, for the first time in my life, told me to get out of my own way.
But actually, the more and more I think about it, the pivotal moment was when my mum ran a business. My mum was a housewife and of course, back in the 1980s, housewives had no value. Of course, now they’re starting to be perceived as having slightly more value, but they’re still not equal to those lucky chaps that go out to work every day, right, so Tudor housewives, and dad ran a business.
Mum was a very passionate, engaged, wonderful human being. She’s just there actually, I keep them near to me. There’s my mum, “Hi, mum”. She’s not here anymore, so I keep their photos close.
Wendy Harris: Yeah, I’ve got the same.
Al Tepper: What did I say earlier? When they’re gone, the only thing that matters is the photography. She said to my dad, “I’d like to set up a business, will you help me fund it?” and he, as a loving husband that he was said, “Yeah, of course I will”. So, they set about doing this. Now, he probably thought it was going to fail and she probably thought it was going to fail, but she thought, “I’ve got to give it a go, because if I can do this, I can prove that I have more value”.
So, she opened up a shop and a couple of years in, it died. And my mum was really devastated. I remember at the time, she was upset. She felt unloved, she felt unseen, she felt unheard, she felt unvalued, she felt invisible, and that really affected me. That was the first time in my life where I thought it’s not fair that some people get what they want and deserve and some people don’t.
On analysis, what I realised was, they did zero marketing. They just plopped up a shop on the high street and thought, “We’ll put it in the Yellow Pages and that’s it”. In reality, of course, what happened was her business died from being a well-kept secret. Honestly, raise your hands if you think you’re a bit of a well-kept secret, and I suspect most of your hands are going up, because most people are well-kept secrets.
What do I mean by a well-kept secret? You deserve more business, you’re not getting anybody, you don’t understand why, it’s not fair, you’re really good at what you do, you’re a good person. There’s a million reasons why just not enough people know about you, it’s not fair, so you’re a well-kept secret. And that really impacted on me.
I knew I was always going to end up in technology and helping people. I’d done a careers aptitude test when I was about 11, and they said to me, “You’re going to end up using technology to help people”, so I knew I was going to do something cool, something interesting to me, helping people, using tech. But what happened with mum, I remember thinking at the time, if ever I run a business, I have to make sure that doesn’t happen; that lesson really sunk in.
I think that’s my why now. I just don’t want anyone else to feel that way. If you’ve left work, started a business on your own, taken that risk, put your family at risk, put your family home at risk, put everything on the line, I really don’t want you to have to go back and drive a cubicle, because it’s got to be the most soul-destroying feeling in the world, to try and do it on your own and fail and have to go back, to crawl back possibly to the last boss, who you probably gave a finger to on the way out going, “Ha-ha, I’m going to do it myself, you’re all losers!” We all have that day of leaving drinks, don’t we? To have to go back cap in hand and say, “Actually, it didn’t work, can I have a job?”
So, I just really have a passion for that, and I think actually I’ve just realised, that’s why most of my clients tend to be women, funnily enough, and I think that may be why, because maybe in my head, I’m trying to support people who have got more at stake.
Wendy Harris: Making sure history doesn’t repeat itself.
Al Tepper: Most female business owners have got more at stake, because the reality is, women have always been held to a higher standard and to a higher bar. And for a woman to compete with a man in business, typically they have to work harder, and that’s why we still have unequal pay. I mean, it’s mad that you have two people doing the same job and you’d have different pay? I mean, it’s Victorian, isn’t it? So, I just think that’s where it all comes from.
Wendy Harris: I applaud what you’re doing there and I would add, actually, that the fear of speaking out so that you’re not a secret, is often that you can feel way too salesy.
Al Tepper: Yes.
Wendy Harris: So, make sure you find your voice, get help finding that voice, reach out to somebody that you would trust to tell you honestly how it works already in reality for everybody else, and then adopt what’s going to work best for you, because we’re all unique.
Al Tepper: Yeah, and it comes down to being coachable. Open your ears, stop talking, listen to somebody you trust who knows what they’re talking about, because anything else is suboptimal. If you listen to people you don’t trust or if you listen to people you don’t know what they’re talking about, suboptimal. And if you’re not listen to anyone, that’s even worse, you’re just in the echo chamber and you won’t find out until it’s too late.
Marketing is long term, so you don’t want to find out that your marketing was broken six months ago, because you’re six months into that dive off of the cliff. I would say to people, the best time to do marketing is now, because when you don’t need it, that’s the best time to sow seeds. The best time to have someone go fishing for you, Wendy, is when there are plenty of fish on the table and you’re not desperate for more fish, because that way you can be picky, can’t you? You can be more selective about the fishing you’re doing, they can be more selective about the clients they’re taking on, everyone wins.
Wendy Harris: Al, I’ll leave it on that note. Let’s have a lazy day and go fishing!
Al Tepper: I like the sound of that. It will be lazy-ish, and there might be some fishing in a metaphorical sense, but sadly not real fishing on a riverbank; that would be lovely, wouldn’t it?
Wendy Harris: What’s the best way for them to carry on the conversation, because that’s all that we’re about, is that if something’s resonated and they’ve got a question, that they should be able to reach out to you; where’s the best place for them to find you?
Al Tepper: If they type Al Tepper into Google, I pretty much have every link on the first page. Obviously, LinkedIn for me is the best place, so if you search for Al Tepper on LinkedIn, you’ll find me. You’ll see this face sat at this computer. If you just go to altepper.com, you’ll find me.
Wendy Harris: Brilliant, and we’ll pop everything in the show notes. Have you got anything for our listeners to take away?
Al Tepper: Yes, I’ve got a fantastic marketing mastery scorecard. So, if you want to find out where your marketing is today, this will help you assess that. It takes about two minutes and at the end of it, it will give you my mobile number. If you WhatsApp me your score, I’ll not only send you a quick win, but I’ll work out with you what the marketing opportunity is for you, regardless of whether you work with me or anyone else. At least you’ll start to understand how much more value marketing could bring into the business for you.
So, if you go to altepper.com, you’ll find it via LinkedIn, or you can just message me and ask me on LinkedIn.
Wendy Harris: Brilliant, that’s absolutely brilliant, thank you, Al. It’s been a real, real pleasure to chat with you today.
Al Tepper: Likewise, it’s been really fun. Thank you so much.
Wendy Harris: Thanks for staying tuned with us. This is where I will reveal who we have next time. Well, we’re going to be making conversations about cheap thrills and legal pills count. Well actually, my guest is way more serious than that, and he’s going to be explaining how he turned his business into an online business with Amazon. So, I should really say, we’re going to be Making Conversations about Building a Business on Amazon Count. We’ve got Shaahin Cheyene joining us on the show.
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