When should you transition from SaaS to Service as a Service?

Joining me is a repeat guest. Bryan Kreuzberger came on a few years ago to talk about how he was helping salespeople send out email and get responses. And his approach was so good.

His simple approach for getting an email to the CEO, and then having him forward it down to the right person has been phenomenal for me.

He’s made a transition though. He went from teaching people how to do this to both teaching and doing it as a service. I’m fascinated by that transition because I’m noticing that more and more companies are making the switch. I want to learn from it and I want to feature that here on Mixergy.

Bryan Kreuzberger

Bryan Kreuzberger

Breakthrough Email

Bryan Kreuzberger is the founder of Breakthrough Email, an outbound agency.


Full Interview Transcript

Andrew: Hey there, freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy where I interview entrepreneurs about how they built their businesses, and I do it for an audience of entrepreneurs. And joining me is a repeat guest. Bryan Kreuzberger came on a few years ago to talk about how he was helping salespeople send out email and get responses. And his approach was so good.

I’ve been using it for years, Bryan. I don’t know if I’ve ever told you that, but your simple approach for getting like an email to the CEO or the boss, and then having him forward it down to the right person and when the boss sends an email to the right person, that person responds. It’s been phenomenal for me.

Anyway, he’s made a transition. He went from teaching people how to do this to both teaching and doing it as a service. And I’ve been fascinated by that transition largely because I’m noticing that for more tech companies and for more companies, in general, the switch to service as a service instead of software as a service seem really big. And I want to learn from it and I want to feature that here on Mixergy.

And also because I’ve been really fascinated by chatbots for a long time and I’ve been teaching people how to set up chatbots and how to do marketing via chat, meaning like, the same stuff that we send via email will go through something like Facebook Messenger which is, I think, a faster way to communicate and people seem to prefer it. Anyway, I’ve been teaching people how to do that and I’m now thinking we should be doing services too and just having companies pay us to build it for them and manage it for them.

So I wanted to invite Bryan on here to talk about how he did it. So he is the founder of Breakthrough Email. It’s an outbound agency. They set up appointment for technology companies. He also has a podcast called the Bryan Kreuzberger Show. We’re going to talk a little bit about podcasting, a little bit about service as a service. We can do the whole thing thanks to two phenomenal companies. The first will do your email marketing right. It’s called ActiveCampaign.

By the way, Bryan, one of my guests in the past said, “You know what? No one wants to use ActiveCampaign themselves. I keep teaching them. They’re not going to do it. I’m just going to create an agency that will manage people’s ActiveCampaign or whatever software they’re using.” And that got me started thinking about this path of service as a service too. Anyway, so that’s the first company and the second sponsor that’s supporting us is HostGator for hosting websites. I’ll talk about those later, but first, Bryan, good to have you here.

Bryan: Yeah, I’m excited to be here.

Andrew: Bryan, are you generating more revenue from doing this as a service than you were when you were teaching people how to do this?

Bryan: Yeah. I’d say I am generating more revenue. It was kind of peaks and valleys because you would do a promotion for the online courses and now I really asked myself, “How do I not lose the customer?” because every two months I’d teach the person how to send outbound emails, how to write the copy, how to get the meetings, and they essentially wouldn’t need the help.

Now I could go out and try and have a sales training and have a bunch of their products, but I really wanted to do one thing well and continue to kind of master that and kind of build the moat around. And a lot of the companies’ CEOs were like, “Do you have an agency? Is there a support that . . . I don’t have the resources. I just want it done. I just want the result. I want the meeting. I have a six-figure type of sale? Can you just do it for us?” And so I referred that business for a lot of years.

Andrew: To the students.

Bryan: I referred it to students to other companies who had kind of been through the course and been through the process and I found that they were losing their accounts after like five or six months and I was kind of coming in and helping troubleshoot. And I said, “You know what? If I’m doing this, why don’t I just do it? I’ll just do it myself.” They weren’t doing it at the level I wanted it done. They weren’t focusing on kind of the level of qualified decision maker and really looking for the opportunity for the company, and so I just said, “You know what? Forget it. I’m going to hire somebody great and a couple people and we’re going to just do it ourselves.”

Andrew: And you’re still teaching, right? There’s still that teaching component.

Bryan: Correct.

Andrew: So there’s a group of people who just can’t afford you. They’re not your ideal customer. They can learn from you and they can go out and do it themselves.

Bryan: Yeah. And I mean, I kind of have probably three sets of customers. I have salespeople or startups that it’s a couple people, they’ll take the online course. I do a biweekly training call every other Wednesday. And so that’s kind of like, the one group. The second group it’s the successful CEO, they’re doing about 1 million in sales, they’ve kind of hired and fired half a dozen salespeople over the years and they just want to generate leads. They’ve done . . . They’ve maxed out on search, they’ve tried a bunch of different things, and they know their business inside and out. So then we’ll just generate leads for them. And then there’s kind of that CMO of like a $20 to $50 million company where they for whatever reason have a lead quota. They’re looking at kind of the options to generate leads and they want to support the sales team and really just to hit revenue targets for the year.

Andrew: So can you talk about that . . . Who’s the right person to email format that you taught before? I just want to give people an overview of how that works because, like I said, that approach has been simple and effective for me and I’ve never forgotten it.

Bryan: Sure. So the waterfall technique.

Andrew: Yeah.

Bryan: So what happened was years ago, I was in New York City, I was working for a . . . it was essentially voice media, so similar to like what Pandora or Spotify does now but it’s mobile phones. And I would reach out to say the VP of Marketing at McDonald’s or BestBuy and they would essentially refer me to their agency. And then when I was referred to their agency, there’s probably four or five levels of people at the agency like OMD or Omnicom and the media buyers and they would kick me down a couple notches to kind of this lower level person.

And anyway, I lost a bunch of sales and I later discovered I was never presented to the end decision maker and I said, “You know what? Forget it. If I’m going to spend nine months on the sale, I’m not going to actually meet the end decision maker.” And I equate this to trying to sell a 16-year-old a car, right? Like, a 16-year-old is not the decision maker, the mom and dad are the car buyers. So what I would do is I would write the CMO, write the CEO. And so the CEO or the CMO would delegate it, refer it down to the Director of Marketing, the VP of Marketing. I would never have to meet with the agency or I would meet with the agency very cursory right at the end. So if you think about an organization that you’re trying to get a meeting, I have no leverage because Breakthrough Email is not Google or it’s not Facebook, but there’s a ton of leverage or organizational hierarchy, social structure inside the organization.

Andrew: So you email the CEO or the CMO and you say, “Who’s the right person for me to talk to about ” and whatever you’re trying to sell.

Bryan: Yes, definitely.

Andrew: That person then forwards it down to the right person. And because it came from someone at the top, the right person says, “Well, I better respond right away.” I’ll give you an example of when there’s only one time that that backfired on me because someone picked up on what I was doing. It was Clate Mask of Infusionsoft, I was trying to get somebody at his company to partner with someone at my company, and so I emailed him and I said, “Clate, who’s the right person for us to talk to about?” And I don’t remember what it was. He forwarded it to the right person, but he knew how powerful it is to get an email from the CEO, so he said, “Here’s an introduction from Andrew. He’s a good person. Here’s what he’s asking for.” But I forget how he phrased it. It was something like, “You make your own decision. Don’t take this coming for me as the request that you make this work.” And I thought, “He picked up on it because he knew how powerful that was.” Anyway, in every other case, having an email come in from the CEO has just worked wonders for me and it’s really effective.

Bryan: You bring up an important point. You really have to create an opportunity for the reader, right? So there’s a tactic of reaching out to people above your target, top-down approach, waterfall approach, wherever you want to call it. But the message itself has to really be relevant and create an opportunity and be credible for the reader. Right? So, if they don’t see it as an opportunity, they may refer it but you still may not get the meeting. So it’s like, how can you put yourself in the shoes of the reader and say, “What is this person care about? And what are they trying to do? And what do they want? And how can I potentially help them?”

Andrew: You know what? And that you’re right. I do tend to forget about that because, “I’ve got this one great trick. It’s going to come from the CEO. All it needs is an email from the CEO and we make it happen.” And I have to stop and say, “Okay. That’s just a tactic for getting through. Once I’m through, why do they care? What’s in it for them?” And I do need to stop beyond this quick tactic that I feel is like this magical phrase and think, “Well, let’s get back to the people behind all these emails.

Bryan: Yeah. What does the CEO care about? Right? So you meet with who you sound like? Right. So, if you sound like the CEO . . . If you sound like the lower level person or the actual user of the product, they’ll kick it down. So I look at the actual messaging is kind of the bait for determining who I meet with. The same way this interview, this podcast, whatever video, whatever format is, based on that title will attract a certain audience. So I really I’m very conscious of that.

Andrew: So revenue-wise, how much is coming in from teaching versus the services part of your business? Did I just lose you?

Bryan: I’d say at this point doubled in the first six months.

Andrew: I’m sorry. We just lost each other for a second. What was it?

Bryan: And so, at this point, it’s doubled in the first six months. And I’m looking to double . . . I’m essentially bringing on one to two accounts a month. And the accounts are anywhere from 7,500 to 12,000, 15,000 a month in a month over month, so you can kind of figure out those numbers. But it’s . . . For me it’s really, how can I support good companies? What excites me is like, how can I get a really good product into the hands of the decision maker at a company that needs it?

So I looked at a lot . . . I kissed a lot of frogs. And ultimately, one of the things I learned by teaching this by working with entrepreneurs, the product is really the most important thing beyond the marketing or the sale. Like, do you have product market fit? Do they really want what you have at the price that you want it? I love Steve Blank’s book, “Four Steps to the Epiphany”. He’s a professor at Berkeley. He had, like, nine startups and all of them were funded.

Andrew: Is it Berkeley or Stanford?

Bryan: Sorry?

Andrew: Is it Berkeley or Stanford?

Bryan: That’s a good question.

Andrew: I’ll look it up. I’ll find out.

Bryan: I don’t know.

Andrew: Okay.

Bryan: Bay Area, prestigious school.

Andrew: Stanford.

Bryan: But . . . Yeah, “Four Steps to the Epiphany.” If anyone listening has a new product, definitely check it out.

Andrew: So it sounds like the services part of your business is doing more than the education part of your business, right? The price points are a lot lower for the education. I think it’s . . . What? I forget how much it’s in the hundreds versus the thousands for services.

Bryan: Yeah, 2,000 for the training, 5,000 a year of coaching.

Andrew: Got it? And then for services, you said over 7,500, am I right?

Bryan: Right. Just starting.

Andrew: Just starting, got it. It seems like also you enjoy the services part of the business more than education, right? It’s kind of frustrating to do online educational sales sometimes.

Bryan: What do I say? I like to win and I felt like I was just banging . . . So I do feel like since the last, say, five or seven years, there’s been a lot of people hawking, “Hey, do what you know. Sell what you know.” There’s all these market and all these things you can do that have a business to end. And I found it really difficult growing beyond half a million dollars a year with an online business.

Andrew: Because?

Bryan: Because there’s so many details as far as the execution for the campaigns, the webinars, the conversions, the . . . And I felt like, because I had to be very salesy. Right?

Andrew: All the time. Yeah.

Bryan: Yeah. Just like everything was a trick of a promotion to . . . And those things, some of them work really well, like Jeff Walker’s Product Launch Formula actually works really well, but once people also kind of understand and I’ve seen a couple of them, they just tune out. And so it’s like the message, and it may work, but like, who is it costing? And are you working with the right type of people and attracting the right type of people for your product or service? So I don’t know. Some people may love it, right? They crank out content, they’re already always looking to develop new content. But if I’m going to go out and actually market something, it’s got to work, it’s got to be really good and I don’t want to just kind of sell a bunch of things that they could find elsewhere or just repurposing somebody else’s stuff.

Andrew: Yeah. I’m kind of finding that I’m getting a little disillusioned by online education that it does feel like it’s a constant sales process, which is not, like, what you want to be doing. You want to be supporting your customers and letting the support of the customers be the thing that draws in more customers. You want to spend more time on the product. And then it feels like it’s capped. I don’t see too many people who are teaching online who are doing more than 7 million a year, for example. And the vast majority are just doing enough to make a nice living at it.

It seems like the model that worked really well is the platform model, like, the Skillshare model, or the Udemy model or the Teachable model where you create a platform for other people to teach and there you will make up to 7 million max a year, many of them will make much less, more than will make a living or side hustle. It seems like that’s the model that works.

And then online education beyond that seems like a really good way to show what you’re about and what your messages and then sell something else like software, like services. And the challenge with services, though, it doesn’t scale as well, right? Like, your model is very much more hands-on than I expected. I met a friend at a conference who kind of knew you a little bit, told me you made the transition to services. And my understanding from talking to her was that you had created some kind of SDR system, Sales Development Rep system, where what you were doing was cranking out messages to people to try to get sales leads, and as soon as you did, you’d pass it on to a salesperson. And there are companies that do that, but that’s not you. You’re way more hands-on, aren’t you, with your services?

Bryan: Yeah. I mean, I think where we spend a lot of our time is in that early stage, really understanding our customers’ customer. So, if I look at the messaging, 90% of the messaging is actually about their customer. It has nothing to do with the actual company. So it’s not what they do, it’s what they do for them, right? What’s the benefit in the voice of the customer?

I love doing customer interviews. Like, I love understanding the psychology of why someone’s going to spend a half a million dollars and all their time and change systems, and what had to be in place for them to actually move beyond? Oh, that’s interesting, right? Like this, the chatbot? Right? So what is it that actually get somebody to move the needle? What gets it so they continue for six months, continue for two years, end up spending that much more?

So the fun part is I get to look behind the scenes of all these different businesses, all these different types of companies and I’m like, “All right. Send me your customer list. Who are the decision makers? How much did they spend? What did they bought?” I look at all this data in our process because . . . And so I’m also able to go into any organization that has several dozen of our hundred customers and look at, “Okay. The last two, three, five years, what’s sticking? Who’s . . . Don’t tell me what you think people are going to buy? Let’s look at who actually is buying? Why is this $1 million account and your second account is 175,000? Let’s talk about that. Why can’t we get another $1 million account? Why is that different?”

Andrew: Let’s try to get more specific even if you can’t mention a name of a client.

Bryan: Sure.

Andrew: I’m going to talk about my first sponsor and then when we come back, let’s talk about a specific type of customer that you would have worked with, how you found them, how you understood what kind of clients they should be going after, how you helped them get those connections. But first I’m going to talk about . . . Well, actually, before I even talked about my first sponsor, I did look up Steve Blank to see where he taught. We were both right. It turns out he . . .

Bryan: This is such radio voice.

Andrew: Right. According to Wikipedia, he is an Adjunct Professor of Entrepreneurship at Stanford and he lectures at UC Berkeley Haas School of Business. So he is all over the Bay Area. All right. First sponsor is a company called ActiveCampaign for sending out mass emails. So here’s what I love about ActiveCampaign. I’m going to give you one little technique that people have used. Imagine when someone comes on your website, instead of saying, “Give me your email address and you’ll get this thing.” You say, “Well, what describes you? Are you an agency or are you a marketer?” for example. And you just collect that.

And then every email that you send out, you can have like a fill-in-the-blank that says, “Here’s the thing that we’re selling. It’s perfect for . . . ” And if they said, “Agency,” you say, “Agencies.” If they say, “Marketer,” you say, “It’s perfect for marketers,” because you’re basically creating a product that’s perfect for both of these people. And if you don’t because they happen not to give it to you, ActiveCampaign will let you plug in either an agency or a marketer.

But the idea that you can create one email and then have fill in the blanks based on what people have told you on your site, makes customization super simple and that’s one of the reasons why marketers love this software. It makes customization, at that basic level and at the high level, super easy. And if anyone’s listening to me and they want to do email marketing right, not just to get people on a list and blast them all with the exact same thing, but really understand them, basic customization all the way up to really smart, like, based on how long they’ve been on your list, what they’ve clicked on, what they’ve watched all the way through, and so on, you can send out different messages based on what they’ve done on your site. They make it super easy.

All you have to do is go to activecampaign.com/mixergy. When you do, you’re going to get a free trial so you can actually see this and see for yourself how good it is. You’re going to get your second month for free which means you don’t have to pay. Well, do I have to explain second month free? What am I doing? One-on-one sessions where they will work with you, strategize with you, make sure that the techniques they teach you actually work in personal one-on-one sessions, and then finally, they will even migrate you for free. If you do not like your current email provider, they will move you over. Get started with them or move your email to them. They will make it super easy, activecampaign.com/mixergy, M-I-X-E-R-G-Y.

So is there someone that you’ve got that we can talk about how you found them as a client all the way through to what you did?

Bryan: Sure, if that’s helpful.

Andrew: Yeah, let’s do it.

Bryan: And one thing, we actually have a similar process at breakthroughemail.com. When somebody comes in, we’ll sort them depending on how they answer the different questions and will actually sort them into different campaigns. So, if it’s a startup, they don’t have product-market fit, they don’t have no customers, no revenue, well, actually they won’t be added to the list. I’ll refer them to Steve Blank and his book. If it’s a smaller organization depending on the revenue size, we’ll give them a one-lead a day or online training. And if they’re a larger organization or have . . . that kind of the ideal profile client because we found that we were being inundated with the wrong clients and I kind of just like our what’s the root cause? Like, they’re coming in, they don’t know how to sort them and so we’re personalizing it from that aspect.

Andrew: I see that. And it looks like it uses a typeform to collect information, right?

Bryan: Correct. So we use the typeform. It’s dynamic. So depending on how you answer, if you’re a salesperson, a CEO, your product is 10,000-lifetime value or 100,000, your revenue is 5 million. And I even ask, “Are you looking? Do you have a budget?” And we will sort people differently depending on how they answer.

Andrew: Yeah, I’m going through the list right now. And you asked for LTV. My LTV is . . . Well, I guess it depends on the customer. It could be either below 1,000 or 2,500. It’s interesting that this is a list of questions that you’re going through to qualify them. My guess is what you want to know is, “Who’s worth my time to get on the phone with?” Right?

Bryan: Yeah. And I also want to personalize it to them. I want to personalize the offer and the product to that person. So I would get a lot of people who are like, “Yeah, I’ll take meetings. Do you work on a performance basis? Meaning, like, when I get a sale, will potentially pay you.” And the challenge with that is you don’t know their product. Most of the time they’re just starting out and they just don’t have the budget to do it. And maybe they can find somebody who will work under that guise, but we have 40,000, 45,000 people on their email list. We can support everybody from that capacity.

Andrew: So what you’re saying is a large number of service clients come in because they find your content online, they come through, they fill out the form and because they fill out the form and tell you that they have high sales value, high LTV, lifetime value of customer, high revenue for their business and so on, you’re able to start working with them. Am I right about that?

Bryan: Correct. And one step before that. So I’ve been in the market. So people there’s content out there on cold email and cold email templates, things like that that’s out there, so it’ll point in the direction of the website. I will also do promotions, joint promotions, joint ventures with lot . . . So what I thought about years ago was, “Where are my customers? Who already has all my customers?” And so I started thinking about it’s like, “Well, Salesforce has all my customers. HubSpot, Marketo, Sandler sales training.”

And so then I was thinking like, “All right. Well, how can I work with these companies? What is it that I could do so they promoted me or shared what we’re doing?” And so I did a promotion recently where we got 17,000 downloads in 10 days in a joint promotion between Sandler and HubSpot where it’s like 25 proven email templates. And so we’re all promoting, we’re all then going back and communicating to them on our list. And it grows your list size by 30%. Now, this is one email that I sent to HubSpot. This is one email that I sent to Sandler. Now, I learned this technique because I couldn’t go direct to every customer at a $2,000 or $5,000 price point, so I tried to look for the centers of influence.

Andrew: But let me see if I understand this. So, actually, when you started talking about this, I went to Ahrefs, I typed in your domain, breakthroughemail.com, and I came up with a bunch of these cold email template links. So, for example, on criminallyprolific.com just 26 cold email examples broken down to write your own. And then on HubSpot, there’s 16 templates for sales follow-up email. So how does this work? You create the templates, you publish on their sites, and you promote it, or what’s the deal? How does that . . . How does this whole . . .

Bryan: So really it’s I’d go to, say, HubSpot and I’d say, “We have a list of 45,000 entrepreneurs, marketers, salespeople.” Right? Because I know that scale is important to HubSpot and any marketer, right? If I was like, “We have 450 people, they would not be interested. And if I don’t disclose it, I’m not also thinking in terms of the person that I’m writing to.

Andrew: Okay. So you go to HubSpot, you say, “I’ve got 45,000 people. They’d be a good fit for you.” What’s . . .

Bryan: Well, I will I would never tell them what I think.

Andrew: Okay.

Bryan: So I’d say something more like, “I’m not sure if they would be a good fit for you.”

Andrew: Okay.

Bryan: So I want them to commit to it. Nobody cares what Bryan has to say.

Andrew: Got it.

Bryan: Right?

Andrew: Okay.

Bryan: And so I would potentially come up with a couple opportunities for them. You could promote to our lists, we could do a joint webinar, we could do different ideas.

Andrew: Okay.

Bryan: And then all that is . . . The only goal is to get a meeting with them. It will change four or five different ways or different directions. And what I’ve also learned is if I can get one person, the other one is more likely to join.

Andrew: Meaning once you get HubSpot to participate in something then other people of your audience might participate in it.

Bryan: Other people . . . Another large partner will participate.

Andrew: Got it.

Bryan: Like Infusionsoft, Sandler would be interested, right? Or if I get Sandler, Infusionsoft might be interested because they’re trying to reach this type of customer.

Andrew: So what you’re saying to them is, “I have a lot of different things that we could do together. Does any of this make sense?” Ultimately, what did HubSpot say does make sense?

Bryan: So this is several years ago, but they’re like, “Well, we’re coming out with a new product on outbound emailing on SideKick and we need to promote it, we need to share, and you have a lot of great content.” Right? So they start looking at the content, and so I’m solving a content issue that they have. It’s a relevancy issue for them whereas a year prior, they’re all about inbound marketing. They didn’t want to do anything outbound. And it’s like, “Maybe we’ll do something,” and it’s like, “Well, who else should I talk to?” Well, talk to this marketer and see if . . . And so you’re like a detective looking to see if there’s a way in which you guys want a partner.

One of the things I do is I’ll model like, “Well, what’s the best partnership you’ve ever had?” And they’ll say, “Well, what do you mean?” And I’ll say, “Well, based on revenue or based on audience or however you define, really good.” It’s like, “Well, we did this one that was really successful.” And I’m like, “Okay. Well, why was it successful?” So what I’m trying to do is I want to work within the way that they work, find out how they judge their own success to see if I can help them in that path.

Andrew: So, ultimately, what did you come up with them? What’s the partnership?

Bryan: So the most recent one was, it was a joint promotion where we developed 25 emails, each group develops say 5 and we got another 10 from other industry experts. And we all shared this download with our audiences. And I think we might have had a webinar at one point on following up with how to follow up with people. And then we would all promote it through other channels. Right? So I’ve got HubSpot, which is doing social, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Sandler’s doing the same thing. We’re all emailing our email databases of a quarter million.

Andrew: And you’re all linking people back to this downloadable product and then you all get the email addresses?

Bryan: Correct.

Andrew: Got it.

Bryan: So, at that point, there might be other things. “Okay. We’re going to do a webinar about this. We’re going to do other content in this specific promotion?” We’d all have kind of links to our different offerings within that. And so similar to how people would bring in a virtual speaker Summit Series, 25 to 30 or to 50 speakers, rather than getting kind of a lot of [inaudible 00:30:39]

Andrew: Let’s give it a second. I think . . .

Bryan: We’re doing one big one. Sorry about that.

Andrew: Right. The connection was broken. So, instead of sending people to an online virtual speaker conference, you’d send everybody to this downloadable PDF. And then how do you get it so that you’re sharing email addresses without making people feel like you’re flooding them with spam? How do you deal with them?

Bryan: Yeah. So we’ll just email them like once every five days.

Andrew: Got it. But they go automatically on to all of your lists as soon as somebody subscribes to get this. And who wrote the PDF? It’s you?

Bryan: In this scenario it was HubSpot.

Andrew: HubSpot did it. Got it. Oh, all right. I see how that works. What about this? So I started looking on a bunch of other sites and they were linking to your site to your form . . . What was it? There it is. Directly to go.breakthroughemail.com. How are you getting all these links? Like, I’m looking at Jeff Bolus, for example. He has in the bottom bonus material for you and he has like a screenshot from an email and then he links over to you.

Bryan: Seven years of promoting the business. Just like . . .

Andrew: That’s it. It’s just them naturally linking to you because they know you’ve got the stuff that supports what they’re writing about.

Bryan: Yeah. I feel there’s a point at about 10 years where if people are banging their head against the wall, like, they will . . . You will create a pretty . . . You’ll create a real business, right? Now, sure there’s the unicorns that are out there and you . . . Oh, they’re two years and a half a billion dollar. But, like, if you . . . It’s like the 10-year overnight success, but if you just keep doing it, keep believing, keep adjusting, I think the more interesting question is, like, “When do you actually pivot? When do you pivot? How much do you pivot?”

Andrew: Yeah. When did you decide to pivot from largely education to largely service?

Bryan: I think I’ve pivoted and decided to pivot. We moved from New York to LA and I’ve been, essentially, referring a lot of the outbound business to other agencies. And I talked to them and, like, “Oh, these accounts that have been running they’re canceling.” It’s like, “Well, why are they . . . ” It was like, I was getting so much into the weeds of helping the program work just like, “Why don’t I just do it?” Right. And I hired somebody who was great and taught her the system. We essentially started by tag teaming. And I already had the leads coming in because I was offering it, so kind of tweaked that and just started offering it myself.

Andrew: Okay. So the people who are coming in and filling out your form and registering for your product, you’d start picking off the ones who had the budget and offering to do the work for them. You said you partnered up with someone to help you do it. What was the relationship? What did that person do?

Bryan: Oh, actually, one thing before we get there. This is . . . I can’t remember the marketer who talks about this. Anyway, I think . . . So my instinct is, if 95% of people don’t work with me, that doesn’t mean I can’t refer that business out to somebody else. Right? So, in my business, it’s like an email database, it’s like an email system, it is virtual assistants. There’s also . . . It’s actual sales training. It’s CRM systems. It’s marketing automation systems. Like, they’re all buying all these other things, so whether they decide to work with me or work with somebody else, I decided to stay in my lane with just outbound email like LinkedIn, right? A lot of people use LinkedIn. And I would just . . . So I set it up. So I’d refer business to other people.

Andrew: Meaning, if somebody said, “I need to reach my target customers via LinkedIn,” you’d say, “Great. I’ll find someone who could do it, but what I do is cold email.”

Bryan: Yeah. So I explain why cold email, like, why I prefer cold emailing. But if they’re like, “Listen, I’m good with email. Really happy,” then I’d say . . . And they’re like, “We need a LinkedIn program.” I’d say, “Great. I’m not the person, but here’s the person who is.”

Andrew: Okay.

Bryan: And I would just refer that business and potentially if there’s a referral fee or not, there were certain incentives to bring business to other people and really look at . . .

Andrew: Meaning they might refer back to you. So even if they’re not paying you a commission, they’re referring people to you when they can’t handle cold email because that’s not their focus.

Bryan: Yeah. How can I cooperate with the market? How can I work with people? Because, like, I came from a sales, this is, I’m going to win. How do I win? Forget those guys. Oh, they’re not going to buy. They’re dead to me. Maybe they’ll buy in nine months, so they’re not dead to me. And now . . . I have to say, it’s just so much more fun. I mean, I have another partner who’s like, “Hey, I’ve got a new promotion, I got a new thing. I think it might be really good for your audience.”

And so ultimately, if it’s good for my readers, it’s good for our audience, it’s good for me. And I also found that a lot of the larger organizations that was their litmus. I don’t know if litmus is the right word. But that was the thing that was most important to them. Like, if the content is good, if it’s good for my audience, if it’s somehow unique and novel and great, they don’t care about conversions, they don’t care about the dollars per click. Sure, that’s nice, but first and foremost, they want to be valuable for their people.

Andrew: Okay. So you had people fill out your form. One of them was someone who was a good target for you, like, you could service them, you did the work that they were looking for. How did you get started with them? Let’s talk about one specific client.

Bryan: Sure.

Andrew: What did they do and what did you do for them?

Bryan: So, first, we’d have, it’s like, right to a phone call with them. So we typically have three or four phone calls. They want to know what it’s about, they want to know who it’s worked for, they want to know if it’s going to work for them. They see their business and product and audience very different.

Andrew: What do they do?

Bryan: So there’s all sorts of different technology companies. I’ll . . .

Andrew: Let’s pick one just so we have concrete company to talk about.

Bryan: Yeah. So let’s see. All right. So I’ve got a company in mind.

Andrew: Okay. What do they do?

Bryan: So I can’t really share what . . .

Andrew: We could say something as broad as software company, for example, just so I have a sense of it.

Bryan: Yes. So, to say it’s a software company that has a . . . Gosh. I mean, everybody is kind of like . . . And all these NDAs. I’m trying to think of a way to make interesting and describe it.

Andrew: Software for enterprise. Could we say that?

Bryan: Yeah. So it’s enterprise software company targeting, say, a VP, Director level of a certain segment within a business. And they’ve been in business five years, they’re doing $10 million, $15 million in revenue, they’ve got a sales team of 15, 20 salespeople. In this capacity, this specific client, we just did all the copywriting for them. So the copywriting will range from $15,000 to $20,000.

Andrew: And this is a copy, meaning that their salespeople or sales development reps sell SDRs are the people who send out offers to people or field in inbound requests, and they pick the best ones, and then pass them to the salesperson to close the sale. Right?

Bryan: Right.

Andrew: So you were writing the emails for one or two of those groups of people, either the SDRs or the salespeople. Am I right?

Bryan: So I’ll write a playbook for that.

Andrew: Got it.

Bryan: So one of the first questions I ask people is like, “Well, do you want to build this in-house or do you want to outsource it?” Right? And I’ve interviewed my customers and “build this in-house” are the words that they use to describe this scenario.

Andrew: Got it.

Bryan: So they’ll say something like, “Well, we couldn’t decide if we wanted to build it in-house or outsource to an agency.” And so I’ll have an email and my email marketing, do you build . . . Building in-house versus outsourcing. Right? And so what I do is I address in the marketing or in the questions of the sales call what their preference is and I’ll explain the pros and cons of each. I offer both. And it depends if they have the resources. Do they have the resources? Have they been trying to do it? Do they have the outbound system? And they just . . . They’ve hired people but those people don’t know what to say, which is often the case because you hire a recent grad, like, they don’t even meet the customers.

Andrew: Okay. So you write . . . They say to you in this one example, enterprise software company, they want to reach enterprise, they want to reach the right customer there. They don’t know what to say to them. You write not just the emails that they send out, but you also write what you call the playbook. What is the playbook?

Bryan: So we skipped an important step. Right? So the first thing I do is we say, “Hey, we’re going to do this?” And so the first thing we do is we look at their customers, their top customers, right, their top 10, top 20 customers over the last 18 months in the last, say, three to five years. Who is the highest performing revenue?

Andrew: Right, right. Because what you want to do is figure out what is their ideal customer.

Bryan: I want to understand . . .

Andrew: Yep.

Bryan: I want to figure out why these companies paid so much more. And they’ll say, “Oh, well, don’t look at the top two.” And the words I . . . That’s an anomaly. That’s an outlier. It’s like, okay, but what I know for outbound is we get to actually pick who we target. So, if we picked 10 accounts that were another $1 million a year account, their best type of account, they can make a lot of money, is incredibly profitable. So, like, let’s start there. Let’s start with . . . Since we can meet with anybody, like, let’s determine it’s been a lot more time . . .

Now, this is not how everybody else . . . most people approach it. It’s like a spray and pray scattershot. And they also . . . They don’t have necessarily the confidence that they can actually get those meetings with those types of decision makers, so we’ll look at those accounts. We’ll look at what was different. We’ll interview those customers. And when we interview we want to understand what was their situation before they worked with them, before they went on a first date with that company, right?

So, for your chatbot products, for the customers that have purchased that . . . So people will say, like, “Listen, I’ve done a lot of interviews. I’ve interviewed my customers. I know my customers.” But they typically don’t know them from before they were working with them. So not like when they went on a sales call why they picked you. Not why you’re great and how responsive you are. Right? And you want some of those testimonials. But what was going on? What was the situation? How . . . So for us . . .

Andrew: Sorry. Let me just come back to this example of the enterprise software company. What you did with them was say, “Tell me about your ideal customer.” They probably said the typical thing, which is, “Okay. I’m not your ideal, your biggest customer.” They probably did the typical thing was to say to you, “You know what? The top two are really anomalies. Let’s not look at them. Let’s look below.” But you said, “Wait, let’s look at the top two because maybe there’s something in there that we can reproduce and find other people.” You will go through and you understand what their top customers are and now you’ve got to do what? Write the playbook. Meaning what?

Bryan: So we interview them, we record the interviews and ultimately I want to know before you were working with them, what was frustrating you? So say they’re the head of manufacturing at a $500 million company and they spend $1 million a year with my client. “Well, we’re trying to do this and I wanted to do this and having all sorts of issues here.” And it’s like, “Well, tell me about why it’s frustrating. Tell me about what you wanted. Tell me about what you’re concerned about.”

Right? If you were to describe in your own words what this company does and what they do for you to somebody at a bar in a similar type of role as you, what would you say? What was the straw that broke the camel’s back? Like, it was bad, but it wasn’t until your wife cheated on you with your best friend that you decided to divorce her, right? So I want to understand kind of the thing that led them to the decision. We also know that at the end, they became a customer for whatever reason, there’s a really good fit.

And so we record it, transcribe it. I look at then, say, 5 to 10 interviews of other customers, other companies, other titles within the organization, the number you meet with, who you sound like. And then I have this . . . I’ll create a messaging because I’ll start to hear the same things like, say, your chatbot, like, “Oh, we really needed to connect with our customers and get meetings,” or, “We really needed to respond to customer inquiries quickly,” or I don’t know what it is, right? But you’ll start to get certain buckets.

Now they have all these themes that they can use for their website or their content, their email marketing in the voice of their customer. Then I’ll then synthesize that into an email campaign typically four emails, and then I’ll also give them a playbook of all the follow-up emails that they’re going to need so that they are then giving their team 30 emails. So, whether we use those emails in their customer’s voice or they use the emails, they’re going to be much more likely to get responses and it’s all about the customer’s pain. Right?

Andrew: Got it.

Bryan: So only the people that have the issue, they raise their hand are going to respond. And so you have a much more . . . So we know the . . .

Andrew: Sorry. What’s an example of a customer pain that will get emails opened and responded to?

Bryan: Everyone is different. So an example would be . . . Let’s see. What have I done recently? Recently, it was an events company. I interviewed their customer yesterday and I’ve got a couple interviews later today. And they had a new product, it was going into . . . It was in a grocery store. They were the CMO and they wanted to do couponing and trial. They want people to like, actually try the product. And the real driving pain was they had a contract with the grocery store and that if after a year they weren’t selling one to two boxes of this product per week per grocery store, they would cancel the contract with this company and the company could go out of business.

Now, that was the major driving force, like, the North Star of the CMO for that year, but they were doing all these events. They had different events in different locations. They needed to staff the events. They couldn’t ask their people to work weekends and Saturdays. And some events were the same day because it was like a frozen product and was a summer promotion, so it was the same day, multiple cities, multiple locations. How do you get the product out there? How do you staff all these events? And that’s what this company did. Right? So rather than hiring people full time to go around . . .

Andrew: Sorry. I’m not following. What’s the pain that you were writing about?

Bryan: Well, say you’re the CMO, you got a staff of four or five people and you have to do . . . you have to staff all these promotional events to give out your product all around the country all summer long. How are you going to find the people in Toledo and New York and Seattle and Los Angeles and in Phoenix in every single location on the same weekend?

Andrew: And so the people that you were reaching were the people who would work at these different locations. Am I right?

Bryan: The people that I was representing would staff all those events.

Andrew: Got it.

Bryan: Would handle it all for them.

Andrew: Got it. Got it. And so the pain was somebody who was a CMO who needs to find staff and otherwise they missed that opportunity. Got it. Okay. Let me talk about my second sponsor and then we’ll talk . . .

Bryan: Wait, wait. Just real quick.

Andrew: Oh, sure.

Bryan: So the point is, I wasn’t even talking about the company that does the staffing. It was all about the pain of the customer and the CMO. Right? So the CMO reads the email and he’s like, “Oh, I’ve got a similar issue and I need to talk to this company.” Right? And so how people normally communicate is like, “Let me tell you about my staffing company and how great we are and we’re the best price and you’ll get ROI and you can trust us.” Right? And so what we need to do is we need to link to the customer’s issue to make sure it’s relevant.

Andrew: Okay. I’m with you on it. I’m going to talk about my second sponsor. I’m fascinated by pain because I do find that people respond better to pain. They’re more likely to buy if you address their pain with your product. They’re more likely to listen, to pay attention to your email to open it up and respond to it. And it’s a tough thing to identify someone’s pain so that you could repeat it back to them in a way that shows that you understand it and that you care enough to try to at least solve it.

Bryan: So what’s the pain of our next sponsor? What’s the pain of the customer buying from HostGator?

Andrew: There are two different pain. One is somebody whose hosting company just stinks. They can’t even log into their hosting company’s website to make an adjustment. They have a problem like their site goes down and there’s nobody there to respond to it. That’s a great question. I love that you said it.

Why don’t we stick with that? I’ve been there. Somebody gave me a free hosting package with a major hosting company and I said, “Great. It’s free. It’s major. I’ll stick with them.” I had a problem, my site just went down. I had to file a ticket online in order to get my site looked at. And the ticket had this little dropdown, it was so cutie, “How urgent is this?” It’s just easy. I need a quick response or a hair on fire. I selected hair on fire because my site was down. And they said, “Great. We’ll respond to you in the next 24 hours.” I go, “24 hours? My site is down. Can you help me out?” And they couldn’t. I had to go and find a friend and beg people to go and help.

And that’s a typical issue with web hosting where your site is down or there’s a problem or you want to make an addition and they will not talk to you. The nice thing about HostGator is, it’s very easy to find their phone number. I’ve done it before on past interviews where I was able to call them up and within 90 seconds get a human being on the phone with me.

Now, since then I have heard that their calls take a little bit longer to get answered, they’ve gotten it back under . . . They’ve gotten . . . They’ve sped it up . . . They took a little bit longer to get their calls responded to but they were always there to respond and now they’re getting it back closer to that 90 seconds. And to me, the fact that they even have a phone number, even if it means I have to wait another couple of minutes before I get a human being, is huge because when my site is down, when I need to change, when I need to get someone prepared for big inbound traffic, I need it fast and I need somebody who understands it, it could help me.

So, if you’re out there and you hate your hosting company, just go to hostgator.com/mixergy, they’ll give you the lowest price possible and they’ll even migrate. They got a lot of other benefits, but to me those are the big ones. And finally, if you go to hostgator.com/mixergy, you will be tagged as somebody who comes from me which means that we will be looking out for you and helping you out. We always with every one of our sponsors ask for a direct contact in case anyone signs up because of these ads and has a problem. We want to be able to directly get you to someone else. You’ve got a lot of layers of protection when you go to hostgator.com/mixergy. Phone number, email, online and us, hostgator.com/mixergy.

It’s a great point, Bryan. I was going to talk about something else. I can see we’re out of time.

Bryan: So that’s like divorcing message, right? Like, my current host is not good, the trigger event is . . . My site went down probably with, like, the rest of the internet at that point. And that’s important to me and that can’t happen again, so now I’m going to switch, right? Similar to why people buy dog food.

Andrew: Because . . .

Bryan: I met this CMO of a dog food company and . . . It was years ago. And he’s like, “There’s only two reasons people change dog food brands.” Any idea what they are, Andrew? Do know dogs?

Andrew: I imagine it’s the dog is unhealthy or the owner, the human is unhealthy, that at that point, like, if you’re overweight, then you say, “I’m going to get better and I might as well take care of my dog.” Or if the dog is unhealthy and you say, “All right. I better switch food and take care of my dog.”

Bryan: Yeah, you’re correct. So the first one is definitely a dog is unhealthy. Right? And the second one, it’s a new dog, it’s a puppy.

Andrew: Makes sense.

Bryan: You’re going to change. So people are obsessed with their products, they forget the instigation of why people actually make a shift, make a change. I work with a lot of credit card processing companies and it’s like, “All right. Well, if I have a credit card processor and most people do, then why would I switch?” And is that even something that happens if we look at your accounts? Right? Or are they brand new, net new customers that had never worked with you? Like, what does that really look like?

So we start to look at, like, the different nuances whether it’s a software company and they’re switching from another software because that company is no longer supporting it at the enterprise level and they have to re-up. And you know what? If we’re going to have to re-up, we might as well look around and see what else is on the market. This has been five years and it kind of sucks now and they don’t really listen to us and we’re mildly dissatisfied. Right? So what we’re looking for as marketers is from the customer’s perspective, what is actually driving them in the door and how can we repurpose that and re-communicate that and put that on the website? Right?

Andrew: Yeah. You know what? I’ve got to find a way to do that for us for the whole chatbot thing that I was telling you about. There’s one thing that I . . . My easy takeaway from this conversation is this. So we run Bot Academy where we train people to create chatbots. The easy takeaway is, on the site, the call to action needs to be replaced with a question about who you are. So instead of saying, “Here, get this guy that shows you how to create a chatbot right now,” it should be, “Tell me what are you? Are you looking to start an agency or build an agency or are you a marketer who just wants somebody to create a chatbot for them?” Right?

Bryan: So it’s like, what is creating a chatbot do for them?

Andrew: It lets them reach their customers using chat the way they’re currently reaching them via email.

Bryan: And what’s the benefit of that?

Andrew: Higher open rates, higher click rate, faster responses.

Bryan: Great. So it’s like get this guide of how to get higher opens and click rates and responses then email.

Andrew: Right. And so then I was thinking . . .

Bryan: And you’re linking to the end outcome, and then your solution is this, like, let me . . . You’re introducing a new category. Right? So, when I first started my business, it was coldemailing.com, right? And then $150 million, $200 million in venture money went to all these outbound emailing software, so I had to reposition it. So you’re kind of creating a new category, at least in my eyes, and so it’s like, what is a chatbot and what does it mean for me as a reader?

Andrew: Right.

Bryan: And then tell me more about it.

Andrew: And then we should be finding . . . And tell me if I’m wrong, it seems like we should be then figuring out if they want it done for them or do they want to figure out how to do it themselves. And if they want it done for them, then that naturally leads into the done for you service that we’re launching.

Bryan: Yeah. Like, do you want to manage it yourself or you want to outsource it?

Andrew: Yeah.

Bryan: And then you ask them and it’s just like, are they asking them . . . Are they asking that question already?

Andrew: The question of, can I just get somebody to do it for me?

Bryan: Yes.

Andrew: They are and they’re coming to us via email and asking that or they’re coming to us via chat and asking it, and then we route them to somebody, where what we should be doing is understanding it before they say, “Hey, do you have somebody who can just do it for me?” And I like the way that you’re breaking down your audience based on who they are and where they are with their business. So they come to your site and it’s not just, “Here’s how I could teach you how to do this,” or it’s not, “Here’s how you can hire me.” It’s, “Tell me about yourself first, and then if it’s the right fit for consulting, I’ll get on a call with you. If it’s the right fit for online education, I’ll link you to something.” And if it’s not the right fit for any of it and because they’re too early, you send them to “Four Steps to the Epiphany.” Right.

Bryan: Right.

Andrew: Yeah, we should be doing that.

Bryan: And I only did that later after I’d taken dozens of calls. Right? And I realized, like . . . And it started with the calendar forum like, “Okay, we’re going to talk. Tell me a little bit about yourself.” And I can pretty much look if I ask the right questions at the calendar forum and know if it was going to be beneficial for them or beneficial for me. And so I just started moving that further and further in the beginning of the process.

And so what I do in the beginning is just like, “All right, well, what questions do you have?” And I’ll write them down and I do that over and over again and it’s like, “All right. Well, I don’t want to keep doing the same thing over and over again. Why don’t I start communicating these things upfront in my marketing collateral and just making my life easier in the actual sales process because I’m answering the questions before they’re able to ask the questions? And realizing . . . ” And so then that can be part of your guide which is what are all they’re questions I’m going to ask . . .

Andrew: Because they’ve been asking it on calls. Yeah.

Bryan: Yeah, just try to make it relevant for the reader. Right? Like, not, “What does Bryan do and what is Bryan care about? What does Andrew do and what is Andrew care about?” but like, “What does the reader care about and what are all the questions? And what’s going to link them to your product?” Right? And so when I’m marketing I focus primarily on educating them on all the alternatives, cold calling. Well, it’s a 4% pickup rate. Most people aren’t going to pick up even if you’re good, right? And the people that are actually representing you as a company probably don’t know that much about you if you get somebody on the phone, right? Not against it, it’s just it’s not very effective.

Andrew: Yeah.

Bryan: Outbound emailing software, you can send thousands of emails but the response rate is 0% to 1%. I wonder why that is. Is it the subject line? That’s what they . . . When I interview people is like, “What’s the story you’re telling yourself about why it’s not working?” “Well, it’s the subject line. It’s the time of day.” And so I will address all those thoughts and concerns and objections, and so at the end, it’s like, “Well, what do I do?” And then I start to walk them through how to kind of rethink the thing. So the marketing becomes the education on like, why they’re in diagnosis. Right? So, at the very least, they understand like, “What’s the real problem I’m having? And how do I . . . And then what are my options to solve it?”

Andrew: Let’s talk a little bit about the Bryan Kreuzberger Show, the podcast. Why are you doing that?

Bryan: Sure. And I only have a couple more minutes.

Andrew: Yep.

Bryan: I do it because it’s been in my burning soul to like, interview people. Like, I interview customers about marketing, but I wanted to interview and understand what makes people tick, what motivates them, how they deal with failure, how they deal with themselves, how they . . . what they learned. I wanted to do a cross-discipline, so Olympic coach, Olympic athlete, producer of Twilight, CEO of Warby Parker, True Religion Jeans, like, all sorts of different backgrounds. And I was listening to Tim Ferriss do it and just thinking, “I’d ask different questions. I’d bring on somebody different.” I loved how I built this, but I also felt like it could be a little bit longer and I wanted a little bit more process. And so I just wanted to do it and I wanted to share it and also talk about something else, like . . .

Andrew: Other than email and sales.

Bryan: Other than marketing and email. And everyone’s like, “Well, you should have sales and email marketing podcasts and it’s like, I’ve talked about the [inaudible 01:00:42]

Andrew: Yeah. You . . .

Bryan: I need to talk about and learn . . .

Andrew: Yeah, I could see you have a passion for this. I remember you and . . . I wanted to become a better interviewer and you said, “Well, Inside the Actors Studio is doing great job for performers. I know the producer of the show.” And you introduced me to the producer of the show, Jeremy Kareken.

Bryan: Kareken.

Andrew: He was so incredibly helpful for me because not only did he help me by going through my transcripts and giving me feedback, he also was good at naming the techniques he was teaching me, and so I have this big Google Doc that I kept filling at the end of every one of our calls with techniques that he showed me. It was incredibly helpful, but it showed me that you’re someone who cared about conversation to that degree that you would know him that you’d be able to connect me with him. What was your connection to him? What was your interest in this before you doing your podcast?

Bryan: So I had him on my show.

Andrew: You did?

Bryan: I think he’s like a . . .

Andrew: I’m looking through . . . I had no idea.

Bryan: Yeah, like a third or fourth episode, maybe fifth. And I had actually taken a writing course at NYU and he was the teacher and I met him and we talked more and it turns out he asked all the questions for Inside the Actors Studio. And the instinct here was there’s something about those videos that show where the guest is so much better than any other time I’ve ever seen them. Like, I really feel like I got to know Tom Cruise or Gwyneth Paltrow or Steven Spielberg. And so as I talked to him and it’s like, “Well, what do you . . . ” And as you listen to the episode or talk to him, there’s a lot of thought that goes into that whole process and kind of creating those moments. And it’s like, I don’t know it until I see it, but since I see it there, like, there’s something about that. And that’s . . . I do have to go. I have a hard stop.

Andrew: Let’s close it out right here. It’s the Bryan Kreuzberger Show for anyone who wants to go check it out. And I want to thank my two sponsors who made this interview happen. The first will host your website right. If you hate your hosting company, if you’re in pain, go switch to hostgator.com/mixergy. And the second, if you want to do email marketing right, check out activecampaign.com/mixergy. Bryan, thanks so much for coming back on.

Bryan: Yeah. And Andrew, I just want to thank you for dealing with my scheduling, just getting up doing what you do every day sharing. I know, it makes a big difference. I do hear people talk about Mixergy. I love the interviews.

Andrew: Thanks.

Bryan: And so I think it’s awesome. You’re really sharing a lot of goodness with the world and making a difference and I think that’s pretty awesome.

Andrew: Thanks. I’m glad to hear that. I put a lot of time and effort into this. I’m glad that it’s working. Thank you so much, Bryan. I know you’ve got to run, so I’ll let you go. Bye. Bye, everyone.

Bryan: All right. See you, guys.

Andrew: Thanks. See you.

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