Content Strategies to Help With Sales With Tyler Williams of Mammoth MarketingSep 07, 2021
Tyler is an inbound marketing powerhouse and definitely gets the value of building relationships before a sale. Originally a creative and now the owner of Mammoth Marketing, Tyler breaks down how he approaches agency sales, how he's juggling scaling and fulfillment, and how being open and saying yes can open the door to future opportunities.
Natalie: Tyler, Hi, welcome to the amplified agency podcast.
Tyler: Hello! Thanks for having me. Yeah, of course.
Natalie: How are you today?
Tyler: I'm good. My office is way too warm. It's like 80 degrees and I always want to kick up my A/C, but I'm worried it's going to make too much noise while I'm recording.
Natalie: Over my shoulder is the same thing. That's awesome. What were you doing before you hopped on this call today?
Tyler: I was having a meeting with one of my account reps over how we need to price our digital services. We're moving into a package structure, and it's something that is relatively new for us. I bought this agency and it was an hours-in and hours-out kind of shop and the owner was like, “you never lose on hourly,” and I was like, “until you do!” So we're really spending a lot of time strategizing the pricing model and trying to understand what our current clients can transition to while we look for new clients and eventually get us more into a recurring revenue model because it's not where we are right now. I have to wait until you know the end of the month to figure out if we are solvent or not.
Natalie: Yeah. Yeah. I feel like a lot of us as agency owners have this phobia of moving to the recurring model or the package model because so many of us do start out in that hourly place, and it's like, “well how much will people pay? Does that price scare them away?” How are you navigating that?
Tyler: So that was actually one thing because I tend to be the one who deals with that fear and my rep is there going like, “no you don't understand how much work we put in to make this stuff happen,” and I'm like, “okay educate me.”
We're pitching it to a few select clients first, and she was like “I think that we just make this an all-encompassing thing. We price it at this and I think they'll go for it, and when you consider what their customers bring them--if we can bring them customers we’ll be fine.” Which I know in my head, but I always do that battle of wills because I'm a people pleaser. I want people to say “yes” so badly. Which is also why I started talking to my reps instead of me trying to figure it all out of my own.
They're the most client-facing in my agency, and there's a select few who were like, “no I want to talk to Tyler.” But it's an interesting shift and ultimately I said okay you know what to pitch, and what you think it's worth because you're the one who understands the sort of the stress going into it. And then my philosophy is if they say “no,” we ask them, “well, what would this be worth to you?” and then we come back and we figure something else out. Yeah.
I mean anytime you're pitching somebody stuff, prices are flexible to some degree, right? It shouldn't be like, “should you figure out what your baseline is?” But if you're especially where we're at, I feel like we have to poke at the market and go, “okay, is this too high? Too low? How are we doing?” And so we're running some clients on a test of this package already. And I said, “listen we'll do it at this because this is kind of where you're normally at but, it's likely going to jump up in three months.”
So um yeah it'll be an interesting thing because I have overhead. I'm trying to, you know, I don't want to lose clients and not be able to pay my staff. So it's that whole like how do we do this transition smartly and look ahead while looking behind and going okay, where are we going?
NatalieSo you bought the agency, did you have a pretty good portfolio of clients at that time or did you have to bring a lot of new people in?
Tyler: Yes, I'll give you a little bit of the history.
So we started out Technically a year after I was bor--like 1985. And the agency was called Neumuth Advertising and it was run by a guy named Steve. He hired me in 2008 when he needed a videographer and I worked here until 2015 just sort of collecting more and more skills as I went, and you know, working my way up the internal corporate ladder of eight people. And he sold the agency to me because he wanted to retire and I just had twins. So I was like, I don't want to retire.
So I took the jump, but we were primarily print, radio, and tv and so we were a traditional agency through and through. That's what he knew. And he was wheeling and dealing every little placement deal he could and we served statewide in Alaska here. So when I took over, I was like, all right cool, there's this whole thing called digital marketing that I've been freelancing--we probably need to rope this in. And since then, it's been this interesting hybrid model of both digital and traditional media services and sort of making sure that if we do something on traditional, we leverage it on digital and vice versa.
So I don't remember what the original question was, but that's the history of how I got started.
Natalie: Did you get to bring a lot of clients with you?
Tyler: So it was surprising to me because I was really nervous about people going like, no, we only want to work with Steve because he's the guy. But I think, luckily, I had been here long enough and every single client we had to redo contracts because they changed the name-- because no one knows how to spell Neumoth so that we became Mammoth Marketing instead of Advertising and every single client signed the new contract. They all came back and it was a breath, a sigh of relief and I went, “oh I should be able to make these payments.”
Natalie: Oh yeah. So it's interesting you've touched twice now on this idea of people wanting to work directly with the owner. And I think this is something a lot of us try to figure out where do we fit in the big picture of it? Like a lot of us are doing sales in the beginning and then we reach a point where we can bring on staff, and then that becomes the question that should staff do fulfillment or should we bring on somebody for sales. How have you navigated that over the years?
Tyler: So it was really important to me when I first started to be client-facing as much as possible because I was effectively replacing one service vendor for another service vendor and I wanted it to be as smooth as possible. But you know, it's been about six years and, over time, what I've tried to do is instead of keeping my reps as basically task managers,I turned them into their own being of marketers. I mean we've had some turnover, but like the people who are still here, they've really just kind of come into their own on that and started to really own the account.
It does make it, when somebody leaves, a little bit more of a bummer. Then I get involved again, and then I sort of fade away as they get stronger. But it’s like, you know, I was super client facing and part of that was because I had freelanced so much. I had worked in this agency before, so everybody knew me and eventually I realized that I was burning the candle at both ends and I could not continue. My wife said I could not continue. So now what I try and do is I try and be the strategist for the reps and the reps go and you know, they are the ones who present that to the client and ultimately get buy-in and most of our clients, they know us.
So it becomes a question of, “hey, here's what we're working on for you right now. What do you want to do in the next few months? Do you have anything coming down the pipe?” And we're trying to line up our objectives with their goals. And they really appreciate that. When the reps go out with that mentality, the client doesn't need me anymore. And but you have to, what I found is I was going into meetings being like, “okay, cool, you're going to do this.” And then “I'm terrible at that.”
I will run the meeting and I had to just say, nope, “you gotta do this on your own. Sorry, have fun with the wolves.” And every time it worked out because we have nice clients. We don't have very many problem clients.
Natalie: Oh, You're one of the lucky ones.
Tyler: I know I am. I don't know if it's an Alaskan thing or what, but it's like most of the people we serve, you know--we had a few that were problems. They've fallen away and we've really tried to be careful what we bring in.
But now what I do for that transition is I'm the guy who is the point-man of, “yeah, let's talk to you. Let's figure out what you need. Let's see if we can serve you and um during that meeting, I tell them, okay, this is what you need, let me go back. I'll draft up a proposal. Here's how we work. If you accept my proposal, then I introduce you to your account rep and your account rep will be your main point. You can contact me if you have an emergency or if you need to talk about our service.”
But for the most part I need you to talk to counteract. And I really push them to go through the account rep--go through the proper channels, and I tell them “I'm so busy and I get so many pieces of communication that I'm going to drop the ball and I really don't want my team or myself to be responsible for that for you.” I'd say 95% of business owners understand that because they deal with the same thing. So when they hear that too, I think it gives them a bit of trust in you because you're really trying to shepherd them through and they realize they know that you can't do everything.
And then if they see that you're doing web dev and you're doing placement and you're doing creative, they're going to go like I feel like I'm just getting the b-version of everything because you can’t be good at all this. So that's another segment. Yeah.
Natalie: So that's interesting. So then you really do the preliminary sales, but then your reps are also positioned to always be looking for what is the next opportunity with your existing clients. So kind of have that. Not necessarily a direct Upsell but always on the lookout for how do we keep the relationship forward moving and growing.Does that sound about right?
Tyler: Yeah. Because our services should be opportunity-driven, right. I don't I don't want to sell a client something that they don't need. I don't want to feel icky about that. I don't want my reps to feel icky about it. And that's why we never had a commission-based sales model. I stuck to that when I took over. Even when we were doing print, radio, and tv, you know, if you work for an agency sometimes it's like, “yeah okay we'll give you a kickback of whatever you sell or how much your client places.”
We never had that because we never wanted our rep to walk in and go, “oh, you know, I'd like to buy that new bicycle, I just need to sell this thing. Maybe I can get the client to bite off a little bit more that they don't need.” Right? So, and then that lets the client also just feel like we're taking care of them. And this is also why we're looking at the recurring revenue model because then it's just a flat rate and they don't see this up and down and you don't end up having a call and have to be like yeah. “You know that facebook ad was a dud. We'd like to make another, can we have another X amount of money in order to build that for you?”
Those conversations are are a bummer to have and it would be I would just rather calm and go like, “hey, we're seeing that this thing's not converting--well let's just jump in and make you something else.” And that's our goal in the grand scheme of things. We got a few clients on, we're in the middle of transitioning, that's what all these conversations are about right now.
Natalie: That's smart. That's exciting. I think that's really exciting, and getting people on board with that and transitioning that within your whole agency can completely change the dynamic of your client relationships.
Tyler: Yeah, because you're more of a helper and a strategist, a salesperson. I don't want to walk into a meeting, even with a new potential client, and say, “wel,l let me sell you something.” It's more like, “oh let me see what you need, okay, this is how our services can dovetail with what you need.”
And usually at that point the client is sitting there going, “okay cool, you're gonna help me out. This sounds sounds better than hiring somebody in house who might or might not know what they're doing.”
Natalie: So speaking of new potential clients, how do you currently grow the agency? Do you do direct mail? Cold calling? Email? We all have the cold email method. What do you guys do right now?
Tyler: So I'm fortunate that I get a lot of referrals from the community around me. We have picked a niche that we're leaning into and that is going to take something different.
But I'm big on being pretty present. I believe advertising really is, what it boils down to, I believe in advertising, I believe in making content and pushing yourself out there. I have a billion videos of my face talking about things and get attention. The more consistent I am with it, the better it works. And I mean I tell the clients the same thing, like consistency over time builds momentum, and it's the same thing for me, you know, sometimes you can, I feel like you're shouting into the void, but I also take opportunities as much as I can.
I got a random email for a speed coaching session and I'm like, sure, let's do that. It's a bunch of young professionals--they may have businesses in four years, right? Doing this podcast, I was like, “yeah, that sounds fun, let's do it.” But I try and make sure that I'm present. The previous owner of this agency was not present and he just, he got referrals from his existing clients, but no one knew the business existed, and that's, I also believe, that no one should ever go dark completely and I've been guilty of it myself because you get busy.
So you know, a lot of our stuff is content game, build a presence and then when I roll in with a packet, like if the new business opens up, if I can go see them, I will, but if I can't, like if they’re remote, we got like a guy in Chicago, it was cool, “let’s hop on a call, let's discuss.” But I'm at least able to give them resources that I've developed, right, and say, “hey, I think this is what you need,” and I really try and take care of them before I sell them, and give them resources. 90% of the time, people get overwhelmed with what it takes to do marketing. So it's an easy thing to say, “Oh well I got a team, we can just do this for you. Yeah, we could do this for you.” And then they're like, “okay, that does sound like a good idea.” But it's a longer sales cycle as from like cold calling. Although we are going to spin up a lot more like cold outreach us along with the content game, when it comes to our niche. It's just going to be a different ballgame than like a small community advertiser. So just different words.
Natalie: I think that is the beauty of content strategies, it does position you as an authority in the space, which a lot of people overlook, you know. I know so many young agency owners that are chasing the new hottest client that's going to make you the really cool portfolio piece, and don't realize that it's those long term clients that you can work with for years that create the stability in your agency, give you the experience and the bandwidth to keep working on that content
Tyler: I'm not looking for star-pillar clients. I don't need feathers in my cap when I want a good working relationship. And I mean we have served small businesses of like one or two people who can afford our services due to whatever industry they're in and, and sometimes they're the best because you're just friends and nobody else. I don't need something where I'm like, ah yes, we have this client. See um I mean those are, those are nice to throw out there occasionally, but usually those are whales too. And I don't like putting my agency in the presence of a whale.
Natalie: Yeah, it definitely makes it a little bit more tricky. You start to rely on them so much and they take up so much of your team's bandwidth. So in terms of content marketing, where do you see that going in the future? Like what's working really well for you now? And where do you think that's going to move to because it really has become this behemoth that folks are really leaning on.
Tyler: I can't predict the future, right?
No one thought that TikTok would do what it's doing right out of the gate. And I think what's funny is I'm just going to end up parodying what other people are saying, which is, I think video is a huge thing. I've always loved video. It's what got me into marketing and advertising in the first place. Podcasts are huge. So I think that's going to be a thing like what you're doing here is obviously content marketing play, and it's supposed to be, but if I was running an agency and I wanted to see what other agency owners we're talking about.
There we go. So I think that we're still sort of going along this path. I think, you know, blog content and articles are becoming things that people just use as cliff notes--like you click on it. “Hey, what's the information I'm looking for.” Okay, I'm out where, something like this, I'll put it on in my truck on my drives, I'll it put on, like when I do a run. I'll be doing some menial task on my computer and pop it up. So they have a tendency to sort of work a little differently.
I do kind of, I'm super curious as to, in a year, I'm going to go all tight. Well, I'm down to short form portrait based videos for Reel and Tiktok and Youtube shorts and that's the only thing I'm focusing on. I don't think we're there yet. I mean, I do find myself doom scrolling those platforms, but I think there's, there's both pros and cons: they're short form, so easily digestible. But then the con is you aren't able to really go into the depth of your expertise to the same degree as you can with like a 15 minute youtube video explaining how to recruit.
So it really varies. So in the future, I think videos are a mainstay, I think it's going to keep being a mainstay. I think audio only is going to be pretty big too, luckily you can repurpose those. But I am, I am curious as to sort of like that short form 60-second portrait video. I hate the fact that there's two different frame sizes. But it is what it is. So we're always poking at it. Just sort of going like, okay where are people watching? But typically I found that if you take a video and then you write a post around it for your site, you can get some form of traffic there. I like dovetailing those two quite a bit.
Natalie: Yeah. Yeah. I mean it's really making use of both--being able to syndicate pieces. I think YouTube shorts coming out has definitely made us all wonder like, is this here to stay like we kind of thought it might just be a fad and they have some interesting ways to make sure that the people who like your long form video aren't going to be shoved into your shorts videos, but it's still just like, man, this is, this might stick around for a while.
Tyler: I know and I try and not be platform dependent, right? Because who knows what's going to happen. We all have an idea of like, we've seen it, okay, this is the next big thing. I'll go, okay, it's gone. It’s just be nimble and don't be afraid of having to say the same thing in two different places. Twice that sometimes is what you gotta do. So it's a goat rope. It's fun. I love content.
Natalie: Yeah. And I think that you have to play with it and see what resonates with your audience.
Where do you get that traction? I mean there's some podcasts who have more viewers or listeners through YouTube than they do on their podcast themselves and then others, it's completely the other way around. So I think when people are making that content play, it really is iterate, test--it doesn't have to be perfect and just figure out where does it click with your ideal customer.
Tyler: Yeah, I think a lot of people don't do because they're looking for perfection, right? Perfection is the enemy of execution. So I have fallen prey to that myself where I'm like, okay, I need to bang out content for my agency, I'll get to that. And then I procrastinate and that doesn't happen for a month, and then it's like, okay, wait, I gotta get back on it.
I have found that in order to avoid that, momentum is key and just do it, keep doing it like you get your sea legs and then it's like you can just hit record and go. A lot of times if you stop, you got to learn to ride your bicycle again, and that, that sucks for that. So I kick myself every time I slow down. Okay, wait, no, no, no, no.
Natalie: So I guess instead of sales hurdles, you're really dealing more with content hurdles of yourself and I mean I'm being consistent
Tyler: totally, I mean I'm too scatterbrain too.
I mean I have to really watch myself, but the, yeah, you know, content is sort of the precursor to sales. I want to walk into a room or a zoom call where people go, “oh yeah, no, I know what this guy is kind of like”--the content is your icebreaker, It's your long form icebreaker, right? I think it also helps with your own recruitment if you're out there. So yeah, I want people to, you know, like, and trust me before I go into the room because then I'm having a conversation and I'm not constantly positioning myself, which is exhausting.
Yeah, that's why I like doing content as sort of like my herald before I come down from the clouds of the mountain.
Natalie: So that's it, that's amazing. So I have three questions that I like to ask every agency owner. I'm going to start you with: what was the worst sales call you've ever had or sales meeting?
Tyler: Okay, so I thought of this one. So I was in, there's a guy who owned a restaurant, this is a number of years ago and back when Facebook advertising had just sort of gotten legit like people are going, “yeah, all right, we should think about this.”
And he was die hard cable television like in and out and I was like, “hey, I think we need to start transitioning some of your budget over to Facebook.” And he was like, and he was a restaurant, it was just like standard American food and he was like Tyler, “why would I try and sell a hamburger on bleeping facebook?” And you know, immediately you go, “okay, this is gonna be contentious. He doesn't believe in my recommendation.” So that I get all like I feel my heart going, boom, boom, boom, a little bit.
And I was like, “because when my wife is doom scrolling Facebook and your hamburger shows up, she knows she doesn't have to cook dinner that night and she goes, where can I eat? I could eat there, and she ends up at your restaurant.” And it was just about that way and he was like “Hmm. I don't like it, but I think you're right.” So I ended up winning the argument but it was, I was surprised at how combative he was to shift his budget over to digital and that I would have to sit there and he was a big client.
Like he was a client that's been with this agency since before. I was like you're going back 25 years. And so I really was nervous. I was like okay if my recommendation falls flat, how is he, what is he gonna think of me? We're still working with him today. He takes all of my advice. I had big long conversation with him about SEO the other day, and he was like “okay I learned a lot.” I'm like “yeah, awesome.” So he's coming around
Natalie: So it worked in that case.But how do you deal with failure?
Tyler: So failure, failure hurts, failure stings. It's very difficult not to take failure personally. And not to let it define you for a little bit right? Um I struggle with that where I'm like, “oh, they hate me but no one wants, I'm a fraud.” And so you kind of got to realize that, okay these are the emotional emotions that I go through and then you sit back and go all right, so what was the problem or was there an actual problem?
There's a difference between like, oh no, I slipped up and I messed up? I had the best intentions that, that I'm fine with. I'm like, oh, client, we've got a problem. I'm going to fix it for you, 99% of the time they go, oh, “that sucks. But thanks for getting on it.” It's usually when people don't accept like a pitch where I feel the sting of failure, I feel like I couldn't convince them, but honestly, if I sit back, I go, okay, I don't need to convince them.
You know, I want to because I want them to become a client. But maybe the people that you're fighting against so hard usually aren't the good client. They usually aren't the one that you really want to spend your days in and out with. And I view my clients like I view my people Can, I trapped myself in a room with these people for eight hours and feel good about it, right? And so we tend to shed the people that we don't like pretty quick and it's usually mutually were like, hey, yeah, this, this isn't gonna work.
Let's, let's just walk away. Um, Yeah, luckily were established enough where we can do that. Um, and, but you know, for people who are just starting out, I get it. Sometimes you gotta work with some interesting people just to get rolling. Um, but, so yeah, I think failure is a time to kick back, reevaluate, figure out really what failed did you fail or was the client not a good fit and also realize that it's just it's just a step, it's just part of it, like okay cool, I pitched that person, they don't want it, but you know in another week you might have another person say, yeah, let's do that.
Um And when you start getting those, yes’s you start getting more and more confident in yourself as you start going out and talking to people. A lot of early agency owners are super nervous and I get it. I was too, but after you get some wind, do you realize? Okay, I'm gonna win some, lose some and we're just gonna keep on going,
Natalie: yep. So you talk about taking that step back. My last question for you is how do you take those? Step back and stay focused?
Because there's an agency owner, there are a million different places you need to be at once and then there's also your life outside of the agency which you hopefully have is an agency owner. So how do you just kind of keep that clarity in what you're doing?
Tyler: It's a struggle. Um I luckily have some very logical sequential people in my life that helped both with my wife and some of my staff, They'll help me go like wait, why are you looking at that when you should be over here looking at this first you're like cart before horse?
Right. Uh I don't always make the best decisions and I'm completely aware of that when it comes to like how I'm like what my goals are for the agency and sometimes I need a little bit of a check. So sometimes I'll ask. But keeping the clarity is tough. I think if I I find this this is one of the hardest things for me because you have so many pieces been put in communication and synapses firing all at one time that you just start going okay, I'll do this, I'll do that.
And then I forgot what I was doing before. Um And I've found I used to do this before. Covid the restaurant that I used to go to shut down. But I used to just absolutely Wednesday usually um get out of the office, grab my laptop, go have lunch a long lunch, like a two hour time to just sit and think about how the agency is doing how I am doing how things are progressing where we're going. And those are always super helpful. I don't operate well at night like so it either happens early in the morning or midday and if I see a window, I should do this more now.
But if I see a window, try and go all right, I need to Carve out a 2-hour block just to focus on me and the agency and whether or not we're both like aligned and moving towards what we want and then okay if we aren't what steps do I need to take to do it? But being that methodical for me at least takes like I have to concentrate and I have to make myself concentrate otherwise I get distracted.
Natalie: But I think having that self awareness is so key, right?
Like knowing who you are and how you operate and that some of the things we sometimes hear like you know just hustle into the evening, it's like that doesn't work for everyone. So recognizing like okay these are my best hours and I just have to block out that time to do it, sticking to it is a different story, but just making sure that you know that that's something you need
Tyler: I think um I prized prize my sleep, sleep is super told me otherwise I'm cranky, I'm no good to anybody if I don't have a good sleep.
So um I like that's a huge component for me to just be able to wrap my head around what I need to do. Yeah. And so yeah, but finding your own space and time is sometimes hard because you have so many things coming at you and you know, I found that if you get better at delegating that holy cow makes a big difference in your own mental fortitude. So I've worked on that quite a bit over the past three years.
Natalie: Yeah, as soon as you can stop doing it all yourself?
Tyler: You should Yeah. You know, it's hard because I got into the work, I like creating things like making things for people and I like saying, hey, look at this thing I made you and the clients is like, yeah, well that's badass. Great. Thank you. Um, like that's, that's the feeling that I live for. That's why I'm in here. I think it's very service based servant hood style industry and that speaks to me. Um, and so sometimes it's difficult to say, okay, you go design that. Okay, okay.
And then what's great though sometimes you do that, you cut people free to do that and you realize they're better than you. Like I got in doing video, my current videographer, I watched a cut today of a long form he did and I was like, cool, those are choices I wouldn't make because they're better than my choices and I think it's great.
Natalie: That's amazing. I love it. Well, thank you so much for taking the time to chat today. This has been so just absolutely insightful, especially understanding how you leverage your team to help with the sales as well.
So really building that inbound report with people not having to do the cold sales, you know, already having that warm, here's who I am, but also here's who my team is and they're going to help you in really focusing on the true opportunity, they’re not just the hard sell. Just buy more stuff even if you don't need it. But how do you truly make your customers grow? So they continue to work with you? I mean that's really the ideal place that we can be in his agency owners.
So thank you again. I just, I really appreciate it.
Tyler: You're welcome. Thank you for having me. It's been fun. I like to talk shop.