Corey Quinn - The Benefits of Selling to Anyone, Not Everyone

342 Corey Quinn on Ditching Hourly with Jonathan Stark

[00:00:00] Jonathan Stark: Hello and welcome to Ditching Hourly. I'm Jonathan Stark. Today I am joined by special guest Corey Quinn. Corey, welcome to the show.

[00:00:07] Corey Quinn: Thank you, Jonathan. I'm excited to be here.

[00:00:10] Jonathan Stark: We are going to talk about your brand new book, Anyone, Not Everyone. But first, could you tell folks a little bit about who you are and what you do?

[00:00:17] Corey Quinn: Sure. Thanks again. So my name is Corey Quinn and I have about 25 plus years sort of post college. Most of that has been spent in a sales and marketing capacity. The last, um, last in house role I had was as a chief marketing officer at a company called Scorpion. Scorpion's a digital marketing agency.

While I was there, we grew the company from 20 million to 150 million in just six short years. And I'm sure we'll talk about, about some of that, obviously. influence the book that I wrote. Um, I also, uh, so today I've, I've sort of left the corporate world behind and now I focus on working with agency founders to help them to escape founder led sales.

[00:01:03] Jonathan Stark: I love it. Okay. So a huge fan of specialization. We're going to talk a lot about your term, which I love, deep specialization. Tell me a little bit more about your, the agency that you, your ideal agency. You know, you just said you work with agency founders. Are we talking about one person shops, 10 person shops, 100 person shops?

Is it irrelevant? Like, what's your deep specialization in terms of who you can hit the biggest home runs for?

[00:01:30] Corey Quinn: Thank you. I appreciate that question. So the, the, the folks who I can really make the biggest impact in are going to be the agency founders who have, uh, For whatever reason, there's a lot of paths, but they've built up an agency that's maybe doing a million to five million. And they have built the business around the founder's sort of network.

And that typically results in a sort of a hodgepodge of different businesses doing different types of marketing, um, with clients that have different needs and different requests. And the result of that is an agency that is very busy doing synchronous work, uh, and uh, you know, that, the, sort of the, the, the daily fire drill, you know, lifestyle.

And I think at some point the, the founder realizes or lifts their heads up and says, You know, this isn't why I started an agency. And you know, one of the ways to move forward from that situation is to specialize. And the type of work that I do is I help agency founders specialize in serving an industry or a vertical market.

As a way to build scale into their agency,

[00:02:46] Jonathan Stark: Okay. So let's, let's drill into that a little bit before, actually, before I drill into that, I want to know, uh, do you ever work with people to specialize in a particular Skill or area of expertise? Yeah. Some kind of service or is it, or do you find it more effective to focus on like a vertical or a segment of the client market?

[00:03:07] Corey Quinn: I would say that my specialization or my expertise is really helping them to find a specific vertical market. Uh, a one way sort of out of that generalist challenge that I was referencing is to specialize in a service. Could it be SEO or, uh, PPC or Tik Tok videos there that is a viable way to specialize.

Um, however, my, my strength is really helping those businesses to spend, to find a vertical market that they, um, that they have experience with, but more importantly, they, they really believe that they can. Um, specialized in the long term to create a, a big result in that vertical at the same time helping their agency to, to begin the scale.

[00:03:50] Jonathan Stark: Perfect. So how would you define a vertical? Maybe you could give us some examples to make it concrete for the

[00:03:54] Corey Quinn: Sure. Sure. So it really is answering, you know, who, who am I specializing in serving, like which industry or, you know, we call, we call it a vertical, but it's basically a, uh, an industry or a sub industry. Some examples are in healthcare. You have. Um, uh, uh, med spas could be a vertical market, a dentist could be vertical markets, uh, general practitioners could be another type of vertical market.

These are typically, um, groups of businesses within a specific field that have typically an association, they have conferences, they have, uh, licenses in some, uh, some respects, some degrees that you have to get to qualify, not necessarily, but. But that's um, those are some examples in in home services you have plumbers, uh, HVAC technicians, electricians, roofers, each of these would be considered a vertical market.

[00:04:53] Jonathan Stark: Yeah, for a reference listener, we did an episode a little while back about someone who specialized in power washers of all things and had a massive success because I know people listening, the reaction to specialization in who you serve is usually like, well why would I limit myself? Why would I limit myself?

Pass on all the opportunities of all the non power washers or the non, uh, GPs or whatever. And what, what do you say to someone who's like, Oh, well, that's just going to limit my opportunity. Why would I do that?

[00:05:26] Corey Quinn: Yeah, and I think that's the logical sort of reaction that people have when they say Um, you know, when, when presented with this idea of niching down or, or, or taking a vertical market approach. And I think, you know, the, the benefits of taking a vertical market approach vast, far outweigh in my experience, uh, directly and when the clients I work with and other folks in the industry, uh, that you get, um, you know, the, the biggest challenge with any service business.

If you think about. You know, the, you know, the, the typical example is McDonald's, which is they've productized their entire service line such that a person with no restaurant experience can come in and purchase a franchise location and be successful in a very short period of time because they have these recipes and playbooks and so on and so forth.

Well, the, the, the, the generalist agency doesn't have the luxury of being able to separate themselves from the founder directly in this, in these ways. And so it's only for those. Founders who are in that position who realize, Hey, I'm not getting, I'm not getting to the place where I want to be and I'm not going to get there by continuing to, to be a generalist.

And so I think those, that's one of the main ingredients and someone who may be wanting to, to work with me is that I'm not going to convince them that, that focusing on a vertical market is right for them. They have to kind of get there ahead of time and be looking for someone to take their hand and help them along the path.

[00:06:51] Jonathan Stark: Right. How do I do it? Well, let's get into that. How do, what is the first thing you do? Because I can imagine these, you know, you, you gave some sort of revenue. Revenue range. So they have a business. It's probably have a few years of experience. They probably have a client list. As you said, it's all over the road.

So what is the exercise that you would go through with someone to start to look at that and decide which might be the candidates to specialize in?

[00:07:19] Corey Quinn: Well, I'll, I'll answer that by giving you an example of a client of mine. So this gentleman, he is kind of similar to what I, what I mentioned. He is the CEO of a, of an agency. They're about five years old. They do well over a million dollars. They have over 35 clients and the way they've built the business is through his network.

So he's a part of Vistage and EO and he's very active in those communities. And these are sort of professional networking communities. And as a result of those relationships, he's been able to build up this, this, uh, this big agency. And, you know, he's struggling with the things that we mentioned as a generalist.

Every new client is like a tax on the team because now the team has to learn a new business and all these things. Well, you know, we're working together to help this person, um, to be able to identify a vertical market. And in his particular case. He actually, the agency was founded, co founded, um, by a partner at a law firm.

Just so it turns out, they have a small group of law firm clients, right? And so they had an interesting story in that, you know, they, they could talk about the fact that they are attorneys, you know, they're agency owners, but they're also attorneys. There's some positioning, interesting potential there. And so that was more of an obvious one, but for the ones that don't have that type of The, the best place to look is in your client, current book of clients.

Um, what you're looking for is evidence that you have some kind of traction, some kind of success with some vertical market already. So what

[00:08:51] Jonathan Stark: does that look

[00:08:52] Corey Quinn: happens,

[00:08:53] Jonathan Stark: Yeah, what it, how did, how would you detect traction?

[00:08:56] Corey Quinn: So there's a couple of sort of measurable, uh, traits. Number one, you look at, um, uh, retention. You see out of all of your book of business, whether it's current or past, there's a lot You group them into vertical markets, and then you look and see what are the patterns of the trends for verticals that typically stay with you the longest,

[00:09:16] Jonathan Stark: Smart.

[00:09:16] Corey Quinn: If there is better retention, there's, there's a, you know, sort of the assumption that there's a better fit potentially. You also look at things like, uh, revenue is a good one. Um, things like, you know, average, average deal size, contract length, all, all of those sort of metrics can begin to, I'd say, narrow down the universe from all the potential verticals that you could work with to maybe a small list of two to three.

Uh, and then at that point, what you want to do is you want to do more of a qualitative path.

[00:09:45] Jonathan Stark: Mm-Hmm.

[00:09:47] Corey Quinn: by that is as the founder, you have to take a cold, hard look and answer the question. If I filled my, my business with these people, these attorneys, which is a possible future, is this something that's going to create happiness in my life?

Uh, is this something that my team is going to really enjoy doing? Right. And the, the, the fit question is really. You know, is really important because the, the result of specializing and going through the motion of this, you're going to feel you're, you're ultimately going to create that reality. And if you don't like that reality, Uh, then you're going to have a problem on your hands.

So there's a qualitative aspect. You also want to look at some, some market dynamics, things like, you know, is this an industry that's expanding or shrinking? You know, are you dealing with, you know, sort of, um, AI, which is more of a, uh, you know, va va rapidly evolving, um, and changing, expanding industry versus the newspapers.

Um, you know, that, that would be the opposite. And so you want to. You want to look at sort of the, the overall market trends and does this vertical, you know, make sense in the long run? You also want to ask questions around, you know, does, does this vertical have a particular, um, susceptibility to recessions?

You know, if we go into another, you know, heaven forbid, we go into another recession, um, you know, is this, is this particularly, uh, at risk for, you know, um, having trouble? Um, in that situation. And then really the last step in the process is once you've gone through the quantitative client data, done through a sort of a qualitative pass, um, then you want to look at sort of the, they want to validate that the market is big enough, right?

[00:11:33] Jonathan Stark: Yeah. So

[00:11:33] Corey Quinn: What I mean by that is, uh, is, you know, um, are there enough businesses in this industry or in this niche or in this vertical to justify exclusively or semi exclusively targeting. Uh, in the long run.

[00:11:48] Jonathan Stark: Mm-Hmm. . And what does that look like? That's, that's my exact next question, which is how big is too big? How do you know when you need to go smaller? How small is too

[00:11:56] Corey Quinn: Yeah. Well, I'm going to, I'm going to, um, you know, borrow from David C. Baker. He, he has a really great blog post about this and, you know, what he says, which I think is pretty smart is, um, on the low end, you want greater than 2000 businesses. But on the high end, less than 10, 000. And I think what that is really communicating is, look, if you have a vertical that is too small, let's say like 500 businesses, you're either going to, you're going to cycle your way through those businesses, uh, in the short run, um, or, or there's just not enough opportunity in the, in the market to, to bother targeting it.

Um, on the high end, if it is greater than 10, 000, then you're probably targeting a market that's too big. Um, and it's, you're going to limit your ability to communicate your specialty by, um, by just targeting a larger market. So the, uh, the suggestion there is try to find a niche within a niche. If you're in that situation, let's say there are, um, you know, plumbers, there are 64, 000 plumbing businesses in the U S today.

Well, what sub niche within plumbing do you want to, do you want to specialize in? It could be, uh, those people who just do re piping as an example.

[00:13:11] Jonathan Stark: Yep. Sewer rooters. If you know someone, sun them my way.

[00:13:14] Corey Quinn: Yeah.

[00:13:16] Jonathan Stark: Yeah. There, I, we just had, we just did some work on the house and there, there are to a plumber. They see the difference between the different things that a non specialist like you or I would consider plumbing. It's like, oh, pipes and water and stuff.

It's all the same thing. It's not. It's like if you, you put in a water heater, you're a completely different kind of plumber than someone that's like snaking out a drain. So, You can speak to their needs. Well, I'm putting words in your mouth. Like how does that affect your messaging when you do find a, you know, what do we say between 2000 and 10, 000 niche specialization?

What, why does that help?

[00:13:51] Corey Quinn: You're, you're able to, and, and, uh, you, you were, you were definitely going there. So what you're able to do is we're talking to positioning people here on the, on the call. So, uh, so what you're able to do is, is as a result of that focus and working with this population over an extended period of time, you're going to understand the nuances of their business and be able to call out, uh, very specific problems, challenges, uh, situations that only an insider would be able to get, right.

And as a result of that, using that language in your marketing and in your content, those type of thing. You're sending out a signal that, hey, I'm, I'm an insider to this world, uh, which is speaking at a level that the generalist or even the specialist, a couple of sort of, um, you know, altitudes higher are not going to catch and they're gonna, and they're, and they're not going to be able to communicate at that level.

So that's really, you know, one of the big benefits from a positioning perspective is that you're able to break through a lot of the noise out there. You could imagine. Um, you know, uh, what it must be like for an attorney. I was just on a call yesterday with a medical spa. which is a very rapidly growing industry.

And they're, they're, the, the poor owner of this med spa, they're up in Oregon, a relatively small, uh, city or town. And she gets text messages, emails, and cold calls every day, all day, from agencies who are trying to get her attention and try to win her business. You know, it just so happens that there's a lot of excitement about the med spa space.

So everyone's going after it, right?

[00:15:25] Jonathan Stark: okay. So like, oh, a big fish. Or maybe not big, but Yeah.

[00:15:29] Corey Quinn: big with lots of money, right? There's a lot of money going into that industry. And yeah, and, and it's, it's, that's the, that's the day to day experience of the people, you know, my clients are trying to attract. And so just sending another generic email about how you can get more leads is going to fall on deaf ear, deaf ears.

[00:15:48] Jonathan Stark: Okay. So you can just, they, they're immediately going to connect with you. That's going to resonate if you're doing it well, it's immediately going to resonate. They're going to be like, Whoa, this is different. This person's one of us almost, or at least this person gets me, you know, I get, I get cold spam all the time about, you know, we'll edit your podcast for you, or you should really have more followers on YouTube.

And, and they're just so generic and not. my favorite is, is when I get ones that are like, we'll get you more employees, you know, isn't hiring so hard. And I'm like, I don't have any employees. I don't want any employees. And if you did any research at all, you would know that. So it's super, that that's like the opposite example, the more generic and blurry it is, the more insulting it is.

It's like you are wasting my time. It's the spammy end of the spectrum. So if you can speak directly to the needs of This kind of business, this kind of size at this point in their development, it's going to be the opposite end of the spamminess spectrum. It's going to be like relevant and interesting.

Yeah. And the, and probably get a response.

[00:16:52] Corey Quinn: The other thing you could do, uh, that I, that I help coach my clients with, and I talk about in my book is the importance to go beyond just understanding their insider language, but getting involved in their industry. You know, doing things like joining the association and not just joining to, you know, write a check and say that, you know, you can put your, put that logo on your website, but getting like joining the, you know, the, the boards and the community, the, uh, the different opportunities that each of these associations provide.

Because once you're able to do that, all of a sudden you're inside the tent and you are now a trusted provider, again, further distancing yourself from all sort of the, the folks who haven't. specialized in that way.

[00:17:35] Jonathan Stark: Well, that's a good segue into competition. So I think we can both agree that if you are specialized on a particular vertical and someone who does what you do that isn't specialized, I think we can agree that your odds of. Getting at least a sales call or some, something going on is high. But what if you, when you're picking a vertical, if you see that this vertical is already super targeted by people like you, does that, does that happen very often?

I almost imagine it does. It does. Okay. So like what

[00:18:06] Corey Quinn: first one I can think of is attorneys. Like it, it is, they have a big bullseye on their, on their back when it comes to digital marketing agencies. Unfortunately for them, I don't, I don't condone this. But, uh, particularly personal injury attorneys, because There are a lot of them. They typically are not that digitally savvy, uh, and they, um, they typically spend a decent amount online.

Some of them spend a tremendous amount online. We all know the, the, uh, the old mesothelioma keyword, uh, you know, the cost per click is, you know, in the thousands, whatever it is, uh, and so, and so the, a lot of agencies are, are, you know, they, they say, well, you know, let's just go after attorneys. There's a lot of money there.

It's a big, there's a big pool. And the challenge, of course, similar to what we've been saying, there's just a lot of noise there. But what happens when you have two digital marketing agencies, or maybe five digital marketing agencies that are focused on family law attorneys, that's all they do, right?

Which is a subset or let's say personal injury, because we're using that example. Um, and How do you differentiate further and it's becoming that it's good. We're getting to that level almost and so One of the ways that I talk about my book is that you need to have clear Differentiation you need to understand what attributes are important to your buyers and you need to you know, use those in your marketing That's all good However, agencies will steal from each other, they'll steal positioning from each other.

It's really, you know, there's no sacred ground here. And so one of the ways to go even deeper than that is to create a point of view. And use your point of view as a part of your marketing.

[00:19:45] Jonathan Stark: think of an example from a client or maybe from scorpion where just to make that concrete for the listener?

[00:19:51] Corey Quinn: So I have an example, the, there's a gentleman who has a fast growing agency, it's in the construction business, so they do digital marketing for construction businesses. And the dynamic of what's happening in the construction business is it's, there's a two to five. Uh ratio where uh for every five people that are leaving that industry because they're aging out Only two people are coming in and so there is a big challenge in the construction business and it's true for any of the blue collar Uh, industries as I'm, as I'm familiar and, um, this, uh, this gentleman, his name is Luke Eggebraten is, uh, and his, the name of his agency is called Phaser.

I'll plug it. Luke is amazing. He is, uh, he's differentiating and has a strong point of view, which is that the, the the perception of a career in the trades. Um, is, is not looked, looked upon highly for whatever reason. Um, and where in reality, um, you could in a very, by taking a career in the trades, you can be making six figures very, very quickly.

It's a, it's a great, um, great career for many, many people. However, people are not choosing that path. So his point of view is, and part of the, part of the work that he does. is that he is actively working on raising the profile of careers in blue collar jobs and construction. And the way he does that is through, uh, he has a non profit organization where he raises money for high school.

Uh, it's a scholarship that gives money and scholarships to kids who are leaving high school and going into the trades. He's also actively speaking on stages. He wrote a book. He has a podcast and a big part of. The reason why they exist is not only to help construction businesses to get more business and to get more visibility and, and leads and whatnot, but he's also joined the fight to help reverse that negative perception in the trades.

[00:21:52] Jonathan Stark: So that's great. That's amazing. And you can see how that would build a moat around, you know, someone stealing his positioning. Like you're not going to steal that overnight. You know, that's, that'd be some real effort. I want to, I want to point out, or at least clarify that that effort of increasing the profile of the trades, let's say to increase incoming employees or workers is not directly what he does for the construction companies, right?

It's adjacent or it's.

[00:22:20] Corey Quinn: Correct.

[00:22:21] Jonathan Stark: So it's kind of like he's got something to talk about or he's on this sort of mission, but he's not selling. I just want to clarify. He's not selling like recruiting services.

[00:22:33] Corey Quinn: they will, they will run marketing campaigns to help a construction business to, Um, to, to find more employees, but that is, that is one of the ways that they're executing on this vision, on this point of view, but it's not limited to that. So they actually, like I said, they have the, the nonprofit, they have a podcast and they're actively speaking from stages to help raise, raise the profile.

[00:22:56] Jonathan Stark: So that's so cool. I really want to sit on this for a second because it gives Luke, you said, right. It gives them something really feel goody to talk about. It's not salesy because they're not selling it really. It's like a piece of, it's one of the things they do, but it's not primarily what they do. And.

I'm going to guess he picked that thing because he actually cared about it to a certain extent. So it creates, like I've seen other people do this sort of thing where maybe their podcast is a little bit more philosophical or big picture than the services that they sell from the, to the audience or are attracted to the show.

And I find for people who are maybe if you're listening. Dear listener, for people who are really uncomfortable with feeling like they're pushing their services or something like that, I just wanted to call out this, this example, Corey's giving, because you've got this adjacent thing that the target market cares about, but isn't you.

You know, hire me, hire me, like, like pounding your chest, but it's creating a reputation and visibility and name recognition and all of that stuff. It's like, oh, maybe we should talk to those phaser people. We need, we're switching agencies. Let's talk to Luke. So I love that. I love that because I talked to a lot of people who are super uncomfortable.

With any kind of having any kind of conversation with the clients because they feel like they need to always be closing or whatever and they feel like anything else is some sort of waste of time and they don't want to be like that. So they're they're stuck. So excellent example. I love it.

[00:24:27] Corey Quinn: And that, and that only comes once you focus on a vertical market, Luke would never be able to. meaningful impact or even position his agency in a meaningful way. If he, if he was working with a ton of different types of industries, it's only through, um, identifying a vertical market. And then the process that I talk about in my book to get there is that you, um, once you have a focused vertical and you've identified what that is, um, You want to be curious about what are the sort of the status quo problems that the industry itself is facing that, that also you can get behind, right?

You could be a part of the solution. You cannot be the solution yet. You're not, you're not going to save the world, but this is a challenge that they're all facing and that, you know, you could join with them arm and arm in changing this status quo problem. Um, for, for a better future

[00:25:17] Jonathan Stark: it's great. It's so for so many people that approach. I know a lot of my listeners that approach is going to like light bulbs are going on right now. That's awesome.

[00:25:28] Corey Quinn: and that to your point, which, which is, you know, people can still position. Yeah. We're, uh, you know, we're, we, we help attorneys with lead gen by blending customer service and technology. Like anyone can just rip that off, but you can't rip off. You know, the, the, you know, we exist to help the, the underdog small law firms who get overlooked by the large agencies or whatever that is, you

[00:25:52] Jonathan Stark: Yep. Yeah. Okay. So let's shift gears a little bit into outreach. So I know that's something that you at Scorpion did in a very, very surprising way with a huge positive impact. So where, where do you want to start there? You're the expert.

[00:26:09] Corey Quinn: Yeah. So I would say that you have to, um, it's, it's kind of like the broccoli and chocolate. A lot of people want to, you want to hear about the broccoli and all these cool things which we'll talk about the tactics. But when I teach this concept of basically it's, it's, um, using cookies and other gifts as a way to.

To transform your marketing and it does, but the, the, the trick is that you really do have to do the focus work and the positioning work first, start with the focus. Am I focusing on a vertical market? You know, getting clear on who they are, making sure it's validated and then doing the positioning work, trying to understand, you know, what is, what is our messaging?

What is our differentiation? What's our point of view? And then once you have that, Then you can do these really cool different types of marketing campaigns because you're going to have the sort of the advantage of really understanding that vertical and being well positioned. So with all that being a backdrop, uh, the, the thing that, so when I came to Scorpion, it was, as I mentioned, a 20 million company, it was a six person sales team and they would subsist off of these wonderful inbounds.

That was just created through all of the Scorpion websites that were well, that had great SEO. And so this six person sales team was Very well compensated didn't work very hard one call close. It was like a perfect, you know lifestyle business for these sales guys And that was great But I was I was brought in by the founder Who was eager to grow the agency to the next level?

Like they just sort of already achieved that milestone and was there where they were there for a bit And so they want to get the next level. So of course the beautiful thing about inbounds is that it is, you know, the phone rings and someone who may be really well qualified and you're able to close them, the challenge with the debt, the inbounds is that you can't directly control what comes in the door, the volume of that.

And so in order to grow the agency. We brought in, um, Outbound Sales and Marketing. And the, the great thing about Outbound is that you can create a list and you can be very specific about who you go out to, uh, and, and you target in your outbound. Well, at the time when I joined, we were targeting attorneys and, uh, the, the way that it would typically work when you cold call an attorney or any other professional services firm, You typically, uh, reach, the person you reach is the gatekeeper who is the, or the receptionist or the office manager.

And a big part of their job is to make sure that the sales rep from Scorpion does not get to the attorney, like their job is to block that. And so, uh, we were unsuccessful in doing the, sort of the cold calls. So, uh, a way to, uh, experiment around that to try and improve the, sort of the success rate of those calls is.

We had sent, um, gourmet cookies in a FedEx overnight box to the attorney before we started calling. And the, the way that it ended up working was the, uh, anytime you would send a FedEx, it would go past the mailroom, go right to the attorney's desk, because it's an overnight important package. And so they would open this up and they would, be presented by this great presentation of a tin of cookies.

And these were not just any old, you know, everyday cookies. We went through, uh, we went to an amazing bakery who created these just earth shatteringly good cookies, right? That, that's a part of, that's part of the experience. And they would inevitably end up in the break room where everyone in the, in the law firm was, you know, eating these amazing cookies saying, Oh, who brought the cookies?

You know, that type of thing. And then the word scorpion would be buzzing around the law firm by the time we called. Uh, which was shortly thereafter, the, um, the, the, the call was very different. It was, went from obviously resistance when we would call without the cookies, but with the cookies, it would be, Oh, you guys sent the cookies.

Hold on. You know, he'd like to talk to you.

[00:29:57] Jonathan Stark: Yeah. All right. So a couple of things I want to get a little bit tactical. You mentioned the experience, the tin, like not just the cookies were good, but the whole experience in the tin and everything was important. And you considered it, you know, like it's like that sort of Apple unboxing experience. I'm imagining this, like, wow, like immediate, immediate wow.

When it comes out of the FedEx thing, the envelope and then open it up. It's like, geez, these smell great. But how did you. How do you, like, how did they know it was from Scorpion? How did everyone know it was from Scorpion? Was it like a big, obviously, I guess there wasn't a big, ugly logo on the cover because of, you know, or the lid or whatever.

So what, how did, how did you make sure that connection was made? Hmm.

[00:30:42] Corey Quinn: Cause it, it didn't always, we always didn't make that connection, uh, despite our best efforts. And so, uh, yeah, there would be a card inside of the tin. That was handwritten or mechanically handwritten, if you know what I mean, um, that was personalized to the recipient from, not from Scorpion Corporate, it was from a salesperson.

So the optics was, Hey, this is Corey, Jonathan, I'm reaching out to you. Um, I know you're a very successful attorney there in Rhode Island. Is that right? You're on? And, and, um, you know, we're, uh, we'd love, we'd love to connect with you and learn more about your business and, you know, that, that type of thing.

[00:31:22] Jonathan Stark: Got it. Okay. So it was, it was clear that it was from a salesperson and it was a sales thing. But if the experience is a wow experience, then you've got a wow experience on your end. So you've got maybe a, an edge over the

[00:31:36] Corey Quinn: Yes, yes, I think for a minute, I think there's a sort of a, a, a small window of opportunity where sort of the iron's hot if the sales call comes in and they happen to be like, just, you know, downing a cookie at that point, it's like, wow, this is an amazing experience. The challenge of course, is that, uh, we all live in a busy life and we all have cell phones and emails and things go ding and dong and capture our attention.

And so we don't capture that moment. Well, really within the first two weeks, it's, it's, uh, it's a missed opportunity. And so what we learned is that one gift is not enough and you need to think of it more of an ongoing campaign.

[00:32:14] Jonathan Stark: Okay.

[00:32:15] Corey Quinn: Uh, it's typically we would do, uh, effectively quarterly gifts for three years.

[00:32:21] Jonathan Stark: What? Okay. Keep going.

[00:32:26] Corey Quinn: Here's, here's the, here's the rationale behind that. If, if you look at in America, um, statistically speaking on average, Americans buy a house. How many, how many every year? Do you have any idea of what, how

[00:32:38] Jonathan Stark: Wait, how, how often, how many years?

[00:32:40] Corey Quinn: Yeah, between people buying a house. So every

[00:32:44] Jonathan Stark: I don't know. Ten?

[00:32:46] Corey Quinn: it's nine years according to the statistics that I found So every nine years on average American buys a new home Same thing for a car, but it's different So every every American buys a new car every any guess

[00:32:59] Jonathan Stark: Four years.

[00:33:00] Corey Quinn: five years was that was the was the number I got Yeah, four or five years and when it comes to What's that?

[00:33:06] Jonathan Stark: When the warranty runs out.

[00:33:08] Corey Quinn: Yeah. Police, runs out. Um, it, the, when it comes to websites and digital marketing, you know, what's the average tenure of a client. And in some cases it's one year, some cases it's three years. And so what we assumed was that it was going to be a three year time horizon in that, if we, if we, uh, Did a great job of building a list and, and by the way, we didn't really talk much about the list, but you're not targeting every attorney with these cookies.

You go bankrupt doing

[00:33:35] Jonathan Stark: Yeah, we gotta talk about money in a minute.

[00:33:37] Corey Quinn: too much ground to cover.

[00:33:38] Jonathan Stark: Right.

[00:33:39] Corey Quinn: Uh, and so what, what, what you do is you, you create something I call a 20 percent list. And the 20 percent list is out of a hundred percent of your addressable market. You only want to target the best leads, the ones that have,

[00:33:53] Jonathan Stark: So this is already inside of the personal injury lawyers, and then you're gonna take 20 percent of that.

[00:33:58] Corey Quinn: correct. Yeah. And the, and the, the idea is you go through the process of developing this, this list with the intention of sending them gifts over a three year period. And so, Yeah. So you really need to make sure that, uh, when you're successful in getting them on the phone, that they're the right client for you because you're investing all of this, this resource into, into creating that, that sales opportunity.

Um, and so you create the 20 percent list, uh, and then you, uh, create a plan where every quarter you're sending them a gift. And the, the expectation is that most of them will ghost you, or, you know, you won't get ahold of them. Um, on day once or the first day, 90 days later, they get another gift from you.

And then they're starting to

[00:34:42] Jonathan Stark: cookies again, or is it a

[00:34:43] Corey Quinn: no, you change it up every time it's a little different.

[00:34:46] Jonathan Stark: Okay.

[00:34:48] Corey Quinn: And then they get another gift from you. Like, okay, this is interesting. This is different. And I've gotten a gift from a vendor before, but never two. What's going

[00:34:56] Jonathan Stark: pen or a calculator or like a calendar.

[00:35:00] Corey Quinn: and then, and then another, uh, you know, 90 days, another gift, and it's kind of like you're building, it's like interest in the bank.

You're building up this, almost this reciprocity, uh, and, and, uh, if you do it in, in a tasteful way that communicates that you genuinely want to build a relationship with them, it's not a quid pro quo transaction type of thing where I'm trying to buy your time. Um, if you do it for long enough, At some point, they're going to, you know, uh, realize that you're not going to give up and that you're genuinely want to build a relationship with them.

[00:35:31] Jonathan Stark: Right. Okay. So I'm done. I'm going to hold off on asking that. What was the cookie budget question? But, so before we get to that, are the salespeople or like what other activities are happening? Are they hearing your name and other channels in between cookies? Yeah.

[00:35:48] Corey Quinn: Great question. So the, the, the best way to run this is. that you have a 20 percent list where you've gone through the entire addressable market, you've chosen, I think, um, um, Russell Branson calls it your dream 100. It's like, it's that concept where it's like the best of the best because they, they're big, they've got budget, they'd be a great client, they're influential in the industry and so on and so forth.

So, um,

[00:36:13] Jonathan Stark: The logo would look good on your website.

[00:36:15] Corey Quinn: yeah, all, all of those things, that's, that's where you, that's where you start this. Yeah.

[00:36:20] Jonathan Stark: Okay, and so the other where else are they hearing your name

in between cookie shipments?

[00:36:26] Corey Quinn: so in a sort of a fully baked go to market plan for a, let's say you're targeting attorneys, those same attorneys are going to be going to the big conferences. Well, that's where you should be going to as well. Uh, either have a booth or have an experience and be, and be actively, you know, trying to add value, engaging with them.

Um, another best practice is to have a, a, uh, a podcast and the podcast as an agency is typically the blend of, uh, digital marketing and personal injury law. How do you blend those two? Well, it's a great opportunity to also invite them to be a guest on your podcast. And maybe in between those experiences, you're sending them maybe another podcast episode or, you know, a client success story or some article that you found, um, over time.

So that the experience of, you know, that they have is that you're kind of creating like a 360 degree experience where you're just like, it's clear that this company is genuinely one that wants to have a conversation with me because they're everywhere and they're obviously putting a lot of focus on this.

[00:37:33] Jonathan Stark: Awesome. Now we got to talk budget. How much did you spend on cookies and other gifts? I mean, it's, it's great cookies, great experience, overnight FedEx every quarter for three years.

[00:37:46] Corey Quinn: No big deal. Uh, so I'll, before I answer that, I'll, I'll, I'll give you some context. So like I said, we, we were, we started a six person sales team. We grew to a hundred sales person sales, uh, sales team, um, a lot, a lot of cookies were going out. Um. Yeah. Mm. And the, you know, that's not where everyone starts when they, when they do this type of thing.

And so, um, but to answer, to answer your question, we would spend millions, millions of dollars. So I had, you know, let's say a 6 million annual budget for my marketing, about half of it went into these, these gifts.

[00:38:18] Jonathan Stark: Wow. All right. So, uh, and you alluded to my next question, which is how did you convince, cause you were the CMO, how did you convince the owner to start spending lavishly on these outbound gifts?

[00:38:30] Corey Quinn: Well, I, I had the, the, the amazing benefit of having a CEO who was. More aggressive at spending money than I was, made me uncomfortable how much he would spend. I actually, there was, uh, there was an opportunity that, uh, I, I presented him with, which was to give away a Tesla on the floor at a, at the IFA conference.

[00:38:53] Jonathan Stark: Okay.

[00:38:54] Corey Quinn: Uh, and it was maybe a 20 minute meeting. It was like, yeah, go for it type of thing, you

know? So

[00:39:00] Jonathan Stark: that's like borderline

[00:39:01] Corey Quinn: him on it. There was a whole context behind that, but yeah, there was like, he, he saw the vision,

[00:39:06] Jonathan Stark: You guys gave away a Tesla.

[00:39:09] Corey Quinn: On the floor, you had to be present at the booth when we called the name out, we pulled the name of a hat and it was so successful.


[00:39:17] Jonathan Stark: I'll bet.

[00:39:18] Corey Quinn: we, we, we grew the fran that was for franchise, IFA is International Franchise Association. It's like the cattle call conference that everybody in the industry goes to. Well, it was a sleepy conference that was just kind of nothing special until Scorpion came along. We had a double decker booth and our booth had the, Tesla at the, um, at the booth.

People are like, what the heck is this thing? It's like, yeah, you could be, you could be driving home in this in two days if you come back to the, let me scan you. And then, so that was a big hit. We did that a couple of years and we did a BMW and a Range Rover. Um,

[00:39:54] Jonathan Stark: so that answers that question. You had a, you, you had a willing participant

[00:39:58] Corey Quinn: willing participant, the way that I would, so

[00:40:01] Jonathan Stark: how would you normally do it?

[00:40:03] Corey Quinn: Yeah, how would you normally do it? Exactly. That was not normal by any stretch. Um, how you would normally do it is you want to build up to these larger scale, this large scale. And so a new, a new, uh, I think, I think most agency founders or CEOs are frustrated with outbound today because typically outbound is done as a sort of Transcription by ESO.

Translation by Um, net fishing, let's go out and let's spam your Tam or, you know, do, do this kind of broad approach, send a million emails or hopefully 2 million emails and see what comes back in. And it's very low yield, a lot of effort, a lot of just, you know, not, not a lot of good stuff going on there.

And so, um, they're, they're frustrated by. outbound in general. And so this is a different approach that, that they, that, you know, given the right context, if you do it well and follow the specific steps, uh, that set you up for success, I think you can start off with five to 10 to 20. leads or businesses that you want to focus on with this, and then build some traction internally, build some early wins, get some appointments and get some, get some new clients as a result of this.

And then that typically is where it begins to build.

[00:41:17] Jonathan Stark: I don't know if this is relevant to the audience, but I'm dying to ask how were the salespeople incentivized for this longer term? It feels like you'd need, it feels like a culture shift from what I would imagine as the kind of caricatured salesperson who's just like, Oh, just get me more inbound and closed deals.

Like this sounds like a very, the campaign seems like, I mean, it seems doable, but it seems like more work than sitting there waiting for the phone to ring.

[00:41:40] Corey Quinn: Well, I'll, so I'll simplify it to help Um, explain it because it is nuanced, but yeah, the, you had this six person sales team that was not interested in doing cold calls by any stretch because it's not fun and in some respects, and there's a lot of rejection inherently. Um, and so the, the, one of the ways that we encourage them to do that, there's a, again, a lot of nuance there, but one of the things that really helped, two things really helped One is we brought in a sales trainer who brought in a method, an outbound sales methodology, which allowed us to kind of get results quicker.

We weren't kind of figuring it out as we went. We just sort of had this guy, he brought his system in and we ran the system. Uh, we also would sit on the floor and the sales manager would sit on the floor, the CEO would sit on the floor with the sales team and start to do, oh, all the work. outbound cold calls and so on and so forth. The other thing that was really monumental was, Hey, telling them, Hey, you don't have to cold call. You're just following up on cookies.

[00:42:44] Jonathan Stark: That's

[00:42:44] Corey Quinn: easier to, to reach out to someone who just had this amazing experience of receiving an unexpected gift from you. That was truly remarkable. That's a different dynamic than, you know, interrupting someone and trying to convince them to spend 15 minutes with them. So those are, those are some, some, uh, Early things the the the thing that the reason why it made sense in the context With regard to this, this, this, uh, this campaign is the sales team went from having really no quota, which was again, going back to just cold, you know, the, the inbounds that would come in to setting a structured quota and hiring more sales team such that Their ability to hit quota was dependent on them closing, not only the inbounds, but also the outbounds.

And so they had an expectation was, was, um, had changed on them. They're going to make more money, but they also had to embrace this new idea of outbound.

[00:43:39] Jonathan Stark: Cool. All right. So now let's bring this back to the, the world of. The listener who's not hiring a sales team, they're probably solo and they want to keep it that way. Um, I think the, the takeaway for folks like that is just think of how much money Corey and Scorpion were spending on giving away Teslas and, and expensive cookies.

And I know from other conversations, iPods and you know, all kinds of things. And how could they possibly do that without going out of business? It's because they were focused so tightly on the vertical that they knew that the other, you know, I'm putting words in your mouth, but they knew that the odds were in their favor, that revenue was going to come in because these things were going to connect.

So I, you said spam here, Tam, total addressable market. Like that's, that's the, that's the bad hour. That's why you hate, You know, listener, this is why you hate outbound because you're on the receiving end of that from other people. This is like, you're stacking the deck in your favor by picking a super focused market and then even inside of that market, you know, the top 100 and like, how can I, how can I help?

So for someone, maybe Corey, So what would you do if you're listening to the, you know, you're listening to the show, you're a soloist, maybe you're, you know, a dev shop with four people total, none of them salespeople, maybe one account manager, what, what is the version of this that, that let's say they listened to the beginning first half of this show and they're like, yes, we're going to do what Corey said.

We're going to make a list of all of our past clients and we're going to find a focus vertical and go through this. In fact, the steps are laid out beautifully in your book. So folks, you know, even though Corey is targeting agencies that are probably bigger than where you are right now, there's a ton of great positioning, step by step positioning things in the book, how to figure out where to specialize and that sort of thing.

It's really good. So if you take, if you had to work with someone, or if you were working with someone who had a really small team, no sales people, it's still going to be founder led. Or maybe there's one person who's kind of like an account manager that kind of handles everything market, all the non development stuff.

What would be a comparable will be a starting point? Not necessarily with outbound, but what would be a starting? It could be outbound though. But like, what, what would you advice would you have for someone like that? Yeah.

[00:46:01] Corey Quinn: Yeah, I think it starts with the focus. How do we identify a market that we just love working with and we've got great results? And if we could fill our business with just these folks, these type of businesses, Yeah. Yeah, we would be, we'd be successful on all, you know, across all, all different definitions.

That's really where you start, um, and I would revisit your positioning, what you're trying to do is you're trying to, um, position your agency or your business, your, uh, your shop such that you are communicating effectively and, um, succinctly that you are truly a specialist in their world. And you do that through client interviews, trying to spend time with them, trying to understand what their, their primary initiatives are, the pain points that you solve, and then being able to articulate them.

And then once you have that, I would say, uh, two, two things, two areas to focus. One is in content marketing, thought leadership. It's completely democratized now. You could be a one man shop and have a great podcast. That adds a tremendous amount of value to that very specific niche. Um, that's very powerful and I know jonathan you teach about

[00:47:08] Jonathan Stark: Yeah, I agree. I mean, it's totally it's great.

[00:47:11] Corey Quinn: Yeah, it's just a very, very powerful medium.

Um, there's other channels like you could do email, you could do YouTube, um, does not require a whole studio team, not a lot of investment, but it does, it does require having some level of client intimacy and understanding their world that comes with the focus. So that's one, just sort of the thought leadership slash content marketing.

Then the other one is being intentional about who is your dream 100 or who are the, the, the 80 20. Like who are the 20 and the 80 20? Out of all the businesses that you could potentially work with, which are the ones that have an acute pain point that you can solve? There's ways you could identify that and that can afford your services.

Uh, and going through that process of taking the total market and going through and trying to identify who those best ones are and putting 80, putting 80 percent of your time into that 20 percent because those are the ones that are going to create the most leverage for your business over time.

[00:48:07] Jonathan Stark: hmm. Mm hmm. There's something you mentioned earlier. I want to call back up It is sometimes very effective to Uh, do the trade association thing to, to participate in those, depending on the, the market, uh, I have definitely had students who had good results with like going in real life to, you know, an event for, let's say, I don't know, chiropractors or whatever the case may be.

And certain businesses, like a lot of construction businesses, they really focus. On in person, they don't answer the phone. They're out all day in the field. Uh, the last thing they want to do is answer their cell phone, but they're, they they're very handshake, generally speaking, very handshake oriented in person people who will immediately be like, Oh, you're special.

You actually came, you know, most people are just going to spam us.

[00:48:54] Corey Quinn: The other thing is, um, a lot of agencies kind of dip their toe in and they'll go to a conference or an association meeting once. And then they'll get distracted and kind of move along. It's the ones that come back year after year after year, because the, the effect is the first year you go, you're not going to know a lot of people.

Maybe you have a client there, introduce you, but then you show up the next year and people recognize you're like, Oh, Jonathan's here. Like I remember you from last year. And then by the third year, you're like best friends. You're like, Oh, what's up, Jonathan, you're back. You know, type of thing. And so that's, that's the, the sort of the, the, the time horizon that you have to be comfortable with in order to see the big results.

[00:49:32] Jonathan Stark: Yeah, it's a long game. So figuring out a way, you know, this gets into whole business model thing and how are you going to have the cash flow to wait for those tomatoes to start coming out of the garden, you know, so that's a whole separate issue. But, uh, but this has been great. We should probably probably leave it here.

Um, Corey, where can people find out more about what you're doing online and most importantly, where can they pick up a copy of anyone? Not everyone.

[00:49:54] Corey Quinn: Thank you, Jonathan. So a best place to pick it up is the website for the book is anyonenoteveryone. com and that'll take you to, uh, a place where you could download the book, uh, the audio book for version of the book for free, which is wonderful. It's also, there's an online companion workbook that is available as soon as you, um, as soon as you sign up there, you could also.

buy from Amazon, which is also a great place to get the print copy as well as a Kindle copy. And that's also connected to my website where you can learn about joining my daily newsletter as inspired by Jonathan. And I have a podcast, again, inspired by Jonathan. And so there's a lot of great free resources there as well.

[00:50:34] Jonathan Stark: Yes. And the podcast is called deep specialization, right?

[00:50:37] Corey Quinn: That's correct.

[00:50:38] Jonathan Stark: Yeah. Check it out. All right, well, I will link to all of that good stuff in the show notes, but Corey, thanks so much for joining me.

[00:50:44] Corey Quinn: Yeah. Thanks for the opportunity, Jonathan. It's been a pleasure.

[00:50:46] Jonathan Stark: All right, folks, that's it for this week. I'm Jonathan Stark, and this has been Ditching Hourly. See you next time.

Creators and Guests

Jonathan Stark
Jonathan Stark
The Ditching Hourly Guy • Author of Hourly Billing Is Nuts • Former software developer on a mission to rid the world of hourly building
Corey Quinn
Corey Quinn
I help agencies escape founder-led sales by becoming a vertical market specialist. Host of "Vertical Go-To-Market" podcast. Author of "Anyone, Not Everyone.”
Corey Quinn - The Benefits of Selling to Anyone, Not Everyone
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