Ep033: Outsourcing, Podcasting, and Cold Email, Oh MY! (November Update)

In my monthly update for November 2018, you’ll hear how I’m outsourcing, my podcast growth, and using cold outreach to acquire clients.

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Full Episode Transcription:

Hello and welcome to another episode of the Liston.io show. I, of course, am Liston and I am here to help you build a better agency, to help you scale up your sales and go beyond the referral. In today’s episode I will be giving you my monthly update. This is the first Monday in November so I’m going to kind of refresh you on the state of my business. I’ve realized that I need to have a little bit more focus here, so I’m going to continue to pick up where I left off in the last month’s update. If you didn’t hear the October update, you can go back and listen to that, but I will be picking up there.

Before I get into the rundown of what’s going on in my business, I did want to let you know that if you’re looking to scale sales at your agency and you have some questions about how to do that and you’re looking for an outside opinion, I would love to talk to you. All you have to do is go to liston.io/strategy…to apply for a strategy call with me. I have some times available coming up in the next two weeks so you can go ahead apply for a strategy call with me right now. You just go out, fill out a form, it will take you less than two minutes and if there is a potential fit for us to work together, then I’ll send you a booking link and we can get on the phone and talk for an hour, at which point I promise you, I absolutely promise you I will give you some insights that you can apply to your business immediately. Once again that URL is liston.io/strategy.

Now in today’s episode I’m going to give you an update of what’s been going on in October. Somethings have been steady, some things have been changing, some new things are on the horizon and so I want to get through all of that stuff and focus on what’s been going down. The story of this podcast has partially become the podcast itself. As you may or may not know, I launched the podcast back in early July, I think July 5th was the first day I made any announcements about it. Just kind of looking at the month by month of the podcast, it’s been a really amazing channel for me and for my business. In the first month it got 721 downloads, in the second month I was up to 2600 and I spent about two thousand dollars in ads during that month.

The month of September…about flat. I didn’t produce as many episodes, but in October, if you’re a regular listener, you would have noticed that I’ve been on a tear. I’ve been publishing at a clip of three episodes per week. Every Monday I do a solo episode, every Thursday and Friday I’m doing a two part interview and that has driven up downloads substantially. In the month of October I eclipsed 5000 downloads for that month. And so now, as of this recording, the podcast has over 11000 downloads, approaching 12000 downloads. So I’m pretty happy with that progress overall. I would like to see next month to increase by about 30-40%. Let’s just go ahead and commit to 30% at the time of this recording. That would be a really good clip if I could continue to improve by that number, obviously I’ll be doubling my listenership every three months or so. That would be amazing.

The podcast is going well. One thing you may have also noticed is that I was giving several calls to action on the podcast. I was giving you a download option, I was saying book a strategy call, I was promoting other things and what I’ve gone to now is just a single call to action on the podcast episodes where I ask you to book a strategy call if you think you need some help with me. The point of this podcast isn’t just to sell stuff. Obviously I do want to bring great content to you, however, the main thing that I want you to do if you actually do need my help, is to go book a strategy call with me. It’s not for me to build an email list, and so it’s hard to make hard choices where I want to email you and I want to talk to you on the phone, but what I really want to do is talk to you on the phone.

I’ve gone to this model of just one call to action and I think that’s actually driven quite a few more calls as a result of the new focus. Overall, podcast growth is good. I did buy an ad this month on Overcast. I will say that I’ve seen some really, really strong diminishing returns on the Overcast ad and I think the reason for that is the install base for Overcast isn’t that big. It’s not like iTunes where there is maybe hundreds of millions of people who have the app installed. I guess it’s more in the low millions, which obviously is a feat in itself for a small app like Overcast, but what I’ve seen is just a diminishing number of people who are subscribing to the podcast and I think that’s a result of now this is the first time I’ve bought an ad on Overcast, so I think it’s just not as effective now. People have already been exposed, it’s being show to just as many people, but fewer people are interacting with what is the same exact ad that I had before.

The only thing that’s changed is they’ve seen this ad two times previously already so I think it’s just getting less interaction. So in terms of future promotion for the podcast, I would not go the Overcast route again. I will look at other services that will allow me to both increase listenership and boost the podcast in rankings. There’s a variety of reasons why I would do that. And then I’m looking for cross promotion channels as my next kind of big idea for promoting this podcast. So stay tuned there, I’ll give you another update next month, of course. But overall I’m getting fantastic feedback on this podcast. It’s now rare that I get on a sales call and people haven’t listened to the podcast at all unless I reach them through cold outreach and I’ll be talking about what I got going on there in a little bit here.

I did next want to update you on a client success story. I’m not going to name this client, but I did work with a marketing agency and I helped them start a bunch of new conversations, get some meetings on the calendar and really utilize their existing network in order to leverage more work, more conversations, get back in the good graces with people they’ve already worked with, and even land a couple projects as a result of the work that I did with them. That was in the first three months of working with them and what I’m looking at is I’m seeing a lot of agencies having issues that could be really solved in a couple days with a combination of coaching and some done for your services as well.

For instance, what does the form look like on your website? Is that connected to your CRM? Are you actively seeking follow on conversations with past clients or existing clients? Do you have clients now who haven’t bought things that they could benefit from but you just haven’t offered them? Is your LinkedIn automation and calls to action in place? What does your sales process and CRM itself look like? Are you dropping things after one or two follow ups? These kinds of things can make a gigantic difference. With this one client I mentioned a second ago, we spent about four hours together in person and I was able to implement a lot of changes for them to get them going on some automation, to get them set up and I’m also excited about another project I’m working on now where I’m setting up a client on their own, cold email outreach campaign.

So lots in the works here in terms of evolving the types of help that I can leverage and give to people and I think underlying it all is a revenue growth strategy. I’m not looking at it strictly as sales help or marketing help. I don’t really care what you call it. All of these things are applied with the express purpose of creating more control and predictability within your agency or professional services business. I’m really, really excited about those things because I’m offering a combination of training, coaching, and some “done for you” implementation and consulting work that’s going to make a really, really big impact for people in a very short amount of time. Super excited about that as a service line and how that evolving within my business.

Last month I said that I was spending a lot of time on social media. Truthfully I don’t really enjoy it that much, I like interacting with people, I like helping people, I like seeing what they say about my content. I’m truthfully not wild about consuming an endless stream of content on social media. I think it puts me in the position of being a consumer rather than a creator and I really don’t like that so much. I do consume a lot of content online, but I’d rather consume the content that I curate rather that what Linkedin is feeding me. In addition to that I’ve been running some Linkedin automation which I haven’t talked about too much publicly, but I am running some Linkedin automation. Some tools that are helping me grow my network on Linkedin. I’m not going to get into the details, but if you’re interested in that and you’re looking for some help setting it up you can just go ahead and email me or fill out a strategy application. I’d be happy to chat with you about that and maybe bring that into your company.

What that’s allowed me to do is expand my network, it’s a single touch to a lot of people who could be a fit to work with me, but it’s very time consuming even to monitor my inbox, get back to people who have questions for me. Really understand who need my help, who doesn’t, and identify the people who need a response from me and the people who don’t. I have brought on my assistant who is awesome, who has been going through my inbox and replying to people who ask questions that she can answer and flagging messages within Linkedin that in need to respond to, especially if someone wants to have a meeting with me or something like that. Obviously she’s letting me know and we’re getting that scheduled much quicker. That’s been really, really great because that’s probably freed up, I’d say like four hours a week for me, which is a huge win. That’s been great that my assistant has been able to do some of that. She’s also even, and if you’re listening to this and we’re friends on Linkedin, yes this is true, she has been commenting as me in some situations, so there is a chance you could have gotten a comment from me that I didn’t actually write.

Blasphemy, I know. Gary Vee would be very mad at me. But the truth is I really don’t live social media that much and it’s a great tool and it’s a great way to reach people, to honestly deliver a lot of value to them, but at the same time I don’t have enough time to spend there as I would like, though I do like it as a channel. So that’s my Linkedin update. Lots of enhancements, productivity improvements, some outsourcing and that’s been going really well. Maybe I’ll have to write about that some time soon if you’re interested let me know about that. The next thing I want to talk about is I’ve been selling more via email. Now, one pledge I made on last months update, was to sell more to my email list. That has not happened for reasons I will get into shortly, but I have started a cold email outbound campaign. If you missed it I highly recommend you listen to last week’s episodes with Jason Bay from Blissful Prospecting.

I’ve applied a lot of the concepts that he talks about. I’ve done cold emailing before, I’ve been a copywriter in a past life. I think I do have an advantage in some ways in this area, but I hadn’t been doing cold email. I had been mostly relying, in terms of outbound, on LinkedIn, but what I really wanted to do was be able to have more predictability within my own business, right? I’m helping people scale up sales. One of the best ways to do that is manual prospecting. It’s really time intensive, it can be very consuming in term of the demands of it and the number of activities that you need to execute everyday, but if you’re selling things that are expensive enough it doesn’t need to be a gigantic burden.

Here’s what I learned in the first two full weeks of doing these outbound campaigns. In the last two weeks I have emailed a bout 130 contacts. I haven’t been totally happy with the data that went into it. I think I am focused on prospecting the right people, however, I’ve had some bounces. I don’t want to get into the technical details, but I’ve emailed about 130 people. Out of 130 all of them have only received two total emails maximum, each individual contact that is, has received a total of two emails maximum and I have a reply rate around 8% and I’ve booked four meetings. You can do the math on that. I have a bout a 3% booking rate at this point. I haven’t had all of those meetings quite yet, but overall really happy with that given that this is only two weeks into this. My feeling is if I could be sending at a clip, like my monthly goal for meetings is 16, so four a week. If I just did this and nothing else that would automatically account for all of the meetings I needed, which is pretty amazing, right?

If I were emailing about 120, 130 people once a week, if these numbers held up, which obviously they’re going to change and I’m testing so I’m improving, but if I could get that number of meetings that would be all of my business. I’m really, really, really pleased and actually quite floored with the results so far. There are definitely some things that I need to tweak. So far I’ve tested subject lines. I had one subject line that got an 80% open rate in the initial week. In week two I’ve had emails that they’re kind of leveling out at around 60%, 65% opens. I’m getting people booking meetings directly from that first email. Overall, super, super pleased with that. I think that looks like a major success and I’m going to continue to do it and play around with the messaging. I first tested the subject line, second I tested the call to action. The next thing I’m going to do is test out the messaging and see if I change the message in particular, the hooks of the emails like, the problems and the solutions that I’m offering.

If I slightly tweak those I’d be interested to see what happens. Right now the testing of them is going really well. I’ve adopted a new tool which has been insanely helpful in getting these done faster but what I am finding is personalization really has been the key in driving responses. I feel really, really good about that. The cold email is working. Like I said though, the one thing I’m not doing is selling to my email list even though I have group of people there who could definitely buy from me. I will continue this experiment of cold email and I want to get it up to a clip of right around where I’ve been. Maybe a little bit more, let’s say a hundred a week. Which means 20 a day, which right now I’m able to get out 20 a day in an hour or less. It’s not a huge load, but obviously it makes a difference in terms of the other things I’m doing.

I really believe that this is something I can do that will work for other people. A, is scalable and more predictable and here’s the big, big thing; this is something that I can hire someone else to do and even if they’re only doing, say, 50 or 80 contacts a day, that would really accelerate my ability to reach a larger audience, a larger market and so I’m looking forward to that. I’ll continue to do that, and I’ll keep you posted on what happens. As I mentioned in the beginning of the show, I do have a client who I’m helping set this up for his agency. If outbound and cold outreach is something that you’re thinking about in your agency I’d be happy to talk to you about it. Again, all you have to do is go to liston.io/strategy. I’d be happy to talk to you about outbound and I think more importantly how that would fit into your overall revenue growth strategy.

The last thing I want to update you on is packaging and my website. I spent a lot of time on updating the website, I think it’s looking really, really good at this point. I think there is some tweaks I can make. One big thing that I did in the last month is with a writer that’s working with me who has been really great, he’s going in and he’s typing up these podcast episodes that I do solo as individual articles and then I optimize those articles in order to get search traffic. While I’m not seeing explosive overnight growth, I have seen a very, very large uptick in my overall organic traffic. Another thing that I’ve done is I know have … You’ve probably noticed, if you go to liston.io/podcast, I now have all of my podcast episodes being published on the website so that when I promote them in other places, people are sent back to my website and they can discover things about me in addition to the podcast right on my website. I think that’s been really important. There are definitely some design and conversion tweaks that need to be made in order to get more out of those podcast page.

I’m really happy with those and I am going to be launching a couple new kind of service line, packaging of services on my website on the near term. That’s something that needs to be done. So that I will update you on next month because it’s not ready right now, but I am looking forward to getting that released soon. I did say last month that my overall goal for the month and kind of my soul metric that I was looking at was having 16 sales calls, so four a week in the month of October. I’m happy to report that I had about 22 form completions in the month of October and 17 of those were people who were qualified and I actually wanted to talk to so that feels really good. I am meeting the lead generation goal an the sales meeting goal. Many of those now are in my sales pipeline actively and I’m engaged in ongoing conversation with them to engage in a consulting capacity with them.

Super stoked about that, that totally worked well. Let me recap all of the different sources of leads that I have at this point I have this podcast, I have LinkedIn, I have my email list. I’m totally neglecting my Facebook group and I have my cold email outreach. If my numbers hold up in November and I add cold email outreach that should add … If I’m doing 100 a week, let’s say that adds three meetings every week. That would be 12 meetings. My goal last month was 16. Right here, on the spot, I am going to make a commitment to drive 30 meetings for my business in the month of November. There is a slight complication and I am hedging here, the slight complication is Thanksgiving week, so I’ll be gone. I’ll still be working, but it’s a short week and people will be reluctant to schedule anything that week, but I’m still going to target 30 sales meetings in the month of November. I’ll let you know who that goes in the next monthly update.

That concludes my monthly update for the previous month looking back on October, but of course this is titled, The November Monthly Update, so if you enjoyed this I would love it if you told someone about this podcast and if you need anything from me, or you have a question, one things you can do is go to liston.io/podcast. Leave a voicemail right there. I will answer your voicemail on the air if it merits that, otherwise I’ll just email you back. Thank you so much for listening and I hope you have a fantastic day. Bye.