- Podcast host: Julie Ewald, CEO at Impressa Solutions
- Guest: Max Traylor, B2B Marketing Advisor & Inbound Agency Coach
In this episode of the Allbound Awesomeness podcast, host Julie Ewald interviews Max Traylor about how he helps agencies productize their consulting services for more significant impact and less effort. They discuss Max’s book, The Agency Survival Guide, his podcast of beers with Max, and how he got started in the marketing industry. Max also shares a lesson he learned from his father about building a business around your personal life. They conclude by discussing the challenges of leading a fulfilling personal life while working in the professional services industry.
[00:04:25] Productized services vs. customization.
[00:08:57] Streamlining the sales process.
[00:12:49] Charging for intangible services.
[00:17:41] Credibility through publishing.
[00:20:53] Marketing Efficiency.
[00:25:02] Vacant job roles.
[00:01:24] Productizing consulting services.
About The Guest
Max works with agencies to help them productize their consulting services for greater impact and less effort and he also has a great book out, The agency survival guide, and Max also has his own podcast of beers with Max.
Check out his book- The Agency Survival Guide
Check out his Podcast- Beers With Max on Spotify
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Hello everyone and welcome to the allbound awesomeness podcast brought to you by I impressive solutions I am your host Julie Ewald and I am here today with the brilliant max Traylor hey max!
Hi and thank you for the kind words.
Thank you for being here So Max works with agencies to help agencies productize their consulting services for greater impact and less effort and he also has a really great book out. Ah, the agency survival guide, and max also has his own podcast of beers with Max. So welcome. Yeah so speaking of beers with Max.
I’m happy to be here.
I’m assuming you have a beer at the ready.
I I do I’m going slightly off Brand This is a high noon I’m a golfer So the golf world has sort of been taken over ah by these delicious little vodka soda shooters.
Awesome! So beer ish with max this afternoon. Perfect. So I gave you a quick intro but I’m going to turn this over to you to tell the listeners What it is. You do give us the skinny.
Well, um, when I was five years old I would go into my father’s office and he would say or I would ask him where do you make the money and he he realized that I I thought he was printing money out of his printer. And so the lesson was put your personal life first and build a business around your personal life. He was working from home before working from home was a thing and um I always I always was really into marketing I was a creative person so I started running an agency when I was. Just out of college about 23 years old and I very quickly realized that the professional services industry is quite hard ah to lead a fulfilling personal life for me that means golf and like I have kids so like do all those things and also run a professional service business.
Which doesn’t have the same profit margins as like ah software companies. Um, but I was ah blessed to have ah stepped on a few things that changed my life one was starting to offer strategy and that was a complete shift of what I was able to charge you know. We we were going from writing blogs and building websites tangible um, commoditized things in a lot of ways. There’s thousands of agencies popping up that that we’re doing these things but strategy I could charge whatever I want and so that was a life changer. Um, and then the second thing that happened is other agencies are. Seemingly competitors started to see value in licensing our strategic process from us and using it in their own business and and I started to make money from other people doing the work licensing money people. Ah. Mailbox money and so it it opened up this whole world of opportunity for me that you know there are agencies out there that are incredibly focused, incredibly knowledgeable. They have systems. They have templates and ah I can help them. Package those things up into really cool revenue streams that I accidentally stumbled into when I was 23 years old and so so that’s what I’ve been doing for 8 years is is helping agencies sure make a little bit more money. But honestly the the more fulfilling part.
Is do it in a way that strengthens their client relationships and um gives them a little bit more free time.
And that is really awesome and I may or may not be taking some notes as we as we talk some ah some pointers for team Ipressa. So overall you know the folks that you work with how would you say they benefited How would ah how would you say they.
Benefit from product high services over more traditional service offerings.
Well, it’s a matter of ah simplicity versus complexity like that word productize is such a big word for the meaning is you just do the same thing every time. Um. Nike knows what it costs and how long it takes to make a shoe and so we have to treat our services the same way we would treat a product and far too much far far too many organizations. Ah, hide behind the idea that it has to be customized or it depends on what the client wants. Yeah, if you want a complex life low profit margins and a really poor differentiated value proposition. Sure ask what the client wants we got to figure out what we do best and then go find the people that are willing to pay for that. That means similar process every time that means templated deliverables that means training for our people so that we can ah we can count on how long it takes in the hours and the skillsets that are required. It’s going to require saying? No. Um, but you’re saying yes to some other. Cooler things.
Yeah, it’s very hard for agencies I can speak from Firsthand experience to say no, but sometimes you have to so in terms of oh go ahead.
I was going to say it’s even harder because we’re creatives we like doing creative things.
It is yeah very much so we have a pretty solid creative team and sometimes it’s having to rein them in pull them back and really stick to you know what? we’ve put on the table. So. In terms of marketing again. Productized services is a big is a mouthful um was anything different for agencies marketing productized services versus you know, kind of the more traditional free for Allll and.
Yeah, ah well, it’s it’s I mean I think I think this is answering your question. Um, it’s a completely different paradigm and so it really the question like if you look at a consultancy see these are my dogs. They just I don’t know what doctor. Stop it doctor Dr Marvin ladies and gentlemen clinical psychologist and golden retriever um, where were we the question was on. Ah yeah, productized services. So.
Like marketing productized services versus threshold.
You see this in how consultancies which sell strategy sell their stuff and and marketing agencies. Ah clients buy things from marketing agencies because they have a budget and and somebody says hey we need people to work on our website or we need marketing content or we need somebody to manage our ads. So. Marketing services are bought and and so you have a ah very competitive landscape of freelancers agencies people but people are out there buying things. Not not many times. Do people say ah hey I’m I want to go by strategy. Um. So when you have 1 specific thing when you commit to 1 thing. Ah the name of the game is how do I um, go and have conversations with my ideal clients. How do I keep tabs on them. Ah, how do I continue this conversation with my ideal clients and then map. My offering to what they do and so you’ll see marketing agencies that are bidding on common products. They’ll have a menu of services because they’re casting a wide net and they hope somebody needs one of those things of their list of 20 things and um there you are to.
Bid The lowest price and win the deal and if you’ve got a system something that has been ah, uniquely positioned in the marketplace. It’s also unlikely that someone is looking for it so you have to get intentional about.
Identifying your ideal customers maintaining a list of those ideal customers reaching out to those ideal customers speaking to them providing value via workshops and things. Um and when an opportunity comes up say hey we’ve got this super special thing. You’ve never heard of. We think it’s perfect for you. Let’s talk.
So it sounds like overall in terms of the sales process. This is also really just it’s It’s a much more beneficial place to be in because you’re able to. There’s not that no man’s land I’m assuming this accelerates the sales process a little bit.
It does because you only sell 1 thing so there’s either you get to? yes or no very quickly. Um, or you should. And if you don’t then you need some sort of introductory offer that is the first step of the process and you can break that off so that it it can accelerate sales usually like a leadership alignment workshop or something like that. But um, what it really allows you to do is charge a premium.
Because the downside of having a menu of services that people are buying. They also have some competitive expectation of what they are to pay. They know what expensive is they know what cheap is but they don’t but you can’t charge something way way above expensive. Because they can go with a competitor that’s offering the same thing. So if you’re truly selling something and you’re listening to a client and you you can help them determine. What’s most important and you have a unique solution that is aligned to what’s most important that is truly value-based pricing. But people think oh I’m going to do value-based There’s ah, there’s a second piece of the value-based pricing equation and that is replaceability just because something is valuable doesn’t mean it’s worth whatever you say it’s worth if I can get the same thing or if I can perceive that I can get the same thing. From somebody cheaper.
This is all such really valuable information that I think a lot of agency owners really need to hear and even folks in other types of consulting being able to so dreamline things and have I guess in a. Opinionated way that you provide your services. Ah, really allows you to bring something to the table that gives so much more value. Um, you know an actual value ad so now this is great. How would you recommend for agencies like team and press or anyone else. If they wanted to make this shift from to to productize offerings. What are some tips you have or maybe how to get started.
Yeah, well, it’s all going to sound ah very logical. The reason most agencies do it is psychological. It is a mental thing and so um. The answer is actually ah a mind trick. Really the first thing to do is have a third party interview all of your customers and ask them what are the most valuable and least valuable things that you do for them. Your best clients will say things like strategic direction I can call them when. I don’t know who to spend money with or blah blah blah um, and then you have a chance at getting your entire organization to rally around this idea that maybe we should do that. Maybe we should charge for that intangible thing that we currently don’t have a line item for.
They’re currently just getting it for free as part of our commoditized ah tweeting package if I sound condescending I’m not actually con tosing I’m just highly Opinionated. Ah. Yeah, but that’s the thing like you’re doing you offer a spectrum of services that live ah somewhere in between tactical and strategic and if you want to charge a Premium. You have to start.
Positioning yourself and doing more of the things on on the strategic end of that spectrum and so one is interviewing your customers and 2 is taking every single one of your services and splitting it the tweeting package that I’m so condescending of. Ah, social media strategy would be the strategic equivalent of that you know tweeting this service and then you’ve got a you’ve got sort of a hierarchy of how strategic is strategy social media strategy is lower than marketing strategy which is lower than go to markete strategy which is lower than um. I don’t know business way. What is our business strategy. Um, but the mindset of the organization should be like how do we? How do we get in deeper with our clients. Um, unless you’re just trying to make a factory of ah tweets.
This is all really helpful again taking some notes here. Ah so let’s make a hard shift really quick. Ah so we’re going to talk a bit about your podcast. So One of the things you know. Our agency and a lot of other B Two B organizations are looking at different ways for getting themselves out there establishing their brand generating leads all of that kind of good stuff and podcasting is something that we’ve been recommending and decided to you know Start. Walking the walk and literally talking the talk. Um, so for folks like us who are getting started podcasting are looking at how to to get there. It usually starts with the idea. You know for us we’re we’re passionate about inbound marketing and outbound marketing and sales Efforts So allbound awesomeness made sense. But for you. How did you come up with their concept and your format for the podcast. Yeah.
Well I think I think it would benefit everyone to think more broadly about this concept because podcast is just the new blog which was just the new news I don’t know. Ah, radio. Whatever um, we’re all just contributing helpful stuff to the to the ether and hoping somebody sees it and says wow Julie’s pretty awesome. You know so um.
The first question that I had in in running my own business was what how am I going to create content in a way that um also gets me conversations with my ideal buyers.
Because at the end I sort of like to end begin with the end in mind the end in mind is the conversations like so I don’t want to I don’t want to do interviews and then wait for clients to show up wouldn’t it be much better if I could interview my interview my ideal customers. But the initial idea is I needed access in a very important question. Maybe the most important question is how are you going to gain access to your ideal customers full stop write that down figure that out. For me I said what’s an email that I would answer no matter what I’d put myself in my customer shoes I ran an agency if I got an email as an agency owner that said would you like to have a beer I would open it no matter what? So that’s the first achievement access. And I didn’t have to lie about anything or do anything you know say hey your mother’s in the hospital. Ah, and that’s step 1 gaining access step 2 is having some conversation so beers with max was a great format to get people talking about life about business. Um, they generally open up after ah, a beer or 2 so it. You know more of a fun conversation and if I was asking questions that were insightful. They would often ask you know what do you do for people. How could you help someone like us. You obviously know about our situation. We’ve just done a podcast about it. Um.
Of course the content benefits of that rack up after 8 years it’s provided content for 3 books now. Um I didn’t think anybody would read them but turns out you take a bunch of blog articles put them in between 2 hardcovers and you’re a published author and everyone thinks you’re the man. So ah yeah. Cred credibility because of a book is is a real thing and the other thing you get is like you just get so many awesome relationships with people that are way more popular than you are ah and cooler in some cases and so ah, it’s like it’s. You have to learn if you’re selling knowledge. Every service provider is selling knowledge. Um the value of what you’re selling goes up the more you learn and so ah, it’s an incredible muscle to exercise speaking with people in your target market. It hits every area of business benefit from innovation to marketing. To sales to the value that you provide to customers I think it’s essential, but it doesn’t have to be a podcast you could do research you could write a book. You could do a podcast you could you could do a I don’t know ah a blog I guess but just talk to the people.
And that is really insightful and I think that’s a ah, really good way to as you as you said to reframe everything. Um, it’s really being able to tap in and build those connections in whichever way is going to make the most sense for the people you’re trying to connect with um. So in terms of your other marketing efforts. What the heck else? Do you do just in just in general to promote your services.
Like which once what do you? What do you mean? That’s like ah.
How do you maybe does the podcast fit into that or.
Yeah, well I mean as you’ve gathered I’m pretty opinionated and a lot of my opinions surround simplicity because I want to put my personal life first. So I feel the same about my marketing efforts as I do services. 1 thing Beers with max is not a podcast. It’s a concept. The process is you know is um I identify the people I want to work with I interview them for every reason under the sun. Those interviews ah turn into 1 podcast which turn into 5 snippets which turn into Linkedin posts that I asked them to cope promote which turns into me taking over other people’s Linkedin Networks which turns into a book for me which turns into workshops on the things that I talk about so I see it all as 1 thing. And ah, you know, even in agencies that are you know twenty-thirty people you don’t have a team of people that are dedicated to marketing your own services. So do 1 thing really good first pick one network. It’s probably going to be Linkedin picked one concept. It’s the podcast and get the absolute. Most out of that podcast like every bit of meat off of that bone.
And I think that’s a really important point because a lot of the folks you know a lot of other agencies and a lot of the folks we work with they try to do the most they want to do all of the things there just isn’t the budget the bandwidth the time the energy like none of it to do all of the stuff. So when you’re able to put something out that you are able to as you said, get all the meat off the bone but look at all of the different ways you can repurpose it and reinvent it. You’re able to get so much more and you’re able to get so much more value from the marketing efforts that you’re doing by picking the 1 thing doing it. Well. And then kind of dissecting it a little bit and spreading it out and seeing how you can repurpose so that is pretty awesome that that’s how you’re looking at it.
My only caveat is go ahead and try new things. But if you fully dedicate yourself and make the make 1 thing work First you will take that mindset into all the other things that you do, you won’t just try things. You’re going to say okay, we’re going to do this other thing and now we know how much effort and how many you know pieces we need to apply to that one thing so the way you consider and activate different things is far more mature if you really give. You really take 1 thing to fruition.
I Love that So You know what is your advice so you know again Beers with max not a podcast but a concept for folks who are thinking about this is the way we want to start out I Want to use this. As the center is similar to how you do want to see what we can spin out from it. Get the most value from it. How to get started.
What’s something that you would like and you would do without getting paid for it. Ah beers with max because it is beers with max and not max’s super fun marketing podcast I I love doing it. I I Love just having a beer with people and talking about life and as an added bonus I get to I get to learn about you know their Business. So I don’t you really have to mix your personal passion. Into your business If you’re going to do something sustainable and I do not agree that you can separate your personal life and your business. Um I thought that before the pandemic Now. It’s even more apparent you have to bring things in that you’re personally passionate about into the business. And we can’t sit here and say that I’m personally passionate about marketing if you were independently wealthy. You would not be doing marketing Stuff. You’d be surfing I’d be playing golf you know, ah so pick something that you really are going to be passionate about and the added benefit of that is that you will um.
Personally connect with the people that are that are involved with that. It’s not all about business. We can talk about business but I’m also going to learn about you I’m going to learn about you know what? what beer you like or what golf clubs you hit. Um so you got to make it fun. You got to you got to make it you got to make it personal.
And do it because do it because of that personal element.
That’s really good advice and you know it made me made me think a little bit I’m like what is the dollar point where I stop caring about marketing. We’ll see um so on that note.
Yeah, yeah, yeah.
I’ve exhausted all of my prepared questions. What maybe would you want to leave us with did I miss anything any parting words.
Thousands of people are getting laid off my father always said I can sell anything to anyone as long as there’s an impending event.
It’s terrible to think about ah and there’s a lot of ways to think about it positively. But how are you going to be in the right spot at the right time during something as significant as these layoffs or as something as significant as. You know the pandemic because people need to be helped there. There’s all these vacant roles. They’re not going to shiver up and die maybe they will if you’re not around. So um, we got to be able to to have those conversations in React. So do something because most people won’t.
Now very true. So that’s a that’s a pretty powerful last final bit to end on so max. Thank you? so so much it was an absolute pleasure to have you an allbound awesomeness. And let’s see tune in to beers with max. It’s definitely worth your time It’s always enjoyable and and educational as well. Learn some good stuff and pick up the agency survival guide. It is a so. Dela read. Um you may have to do some highlighting and things like that get all the good stuff out of it.
It’s only it’s only a 2 beer read. It’s not too painful.
Ah, well it depends on how quickly you drink I mean I live in Wisconsin so.
Ah, well on average nationwide average 2 beer read.
Perfect all right max. Thank you? so so much so everyone we will see you next week on all bound awesomeness. Thanks so much for tuning in.