Our guest today is Duct Tape Marketing’s COO, Sara Nay.
Sara Nay is also the Founder of Spark Lab Consulting, Scalable Business Advisor and host of the Agency Spark Podcast. With 11+ years working in the small business space, it is her passion to install marketing and operating systems for small business owners so they can get more clarity and freedom in their lives.
Outside of work, Sara tries to spend as much time as possible outdoors with her daughters and husband – from skiing to hiking to biking to camping.
In This Conversation We Discuss:
- Sara’s experience working with her father as CEO
- What’s not working in marketing these days
- How proper marketing builds the know, like and trust factor
- What mistakes companies are making when looking for the right marketing agency
- Challenges in operations
Connect with Sara Nay: LinkedIn
Duct Tape Marketing – https://ducttapemarketing.com
Duct Tape Marketing Revised and Updated: The World’s Most Practical Small Business Marketing Guide: Buy the book
The Referral Engine: Teaching Your Business to Market Itself: Buy the book
Get Cameron’s latest book: The Second in Command – Unleash the Power of Your COO
Subscribe to our YouTube channel – Second in Command Podcast on YouTube
Get Cameron’s online course – Invest In Your Leaders
Our guest is Duct Tape Marketing‘s COO, Sara Nay. Sara is also the Founder of Spark Lab Consulting, Scalable Business Advisor, and host of the Agency Spark Podcast. With eleven-plus years working in the small business space, it’s her passion to install marketing and operating systems for small business owners so they can get more clarity and freedom in their lives. Outside of work, Sara tries to spend as much time as possible outdoors with her daughters and her husband from skiing, hiking, biking, and camping. Sara, welcome to the Second in Command Podcast.
I am excited to be here. Thank you for having me.
You are in the sweet spot of one of my pain points, which is the whole outsourcing and the automation of marketing. How did you get into that whole space?
A lot of it comes down to the fact that we are focused, over the years, it has always been in the small business world. We work with a lot of small business owners who are wearing one hat in terms of the CEO and the founder, but also lots of little hats along the way. They’re doing marketing, sales, all these different tasks. For me, automating things was always a really important thing when it comes to marketing.
A lot of the business owners were doing things like they didn’t have follow-up campaigns in place when someone filled out a consultation form on their website. They were spending time writing these custom emails every single time to schedule a call to speak to them. A lot of what we do in our marketing work is we look at the whole customer journey, and we look at how we can take things off of the business owners’ plates and automate them so it makes their lives easier ultimately.
I just looked at your tenure, how long you’ve been working with Duct Tape Marketing, 11 years, 3 months. Is John your spouse?
He is my father. We’re a family business.
This is cool. That would have been creepy thinking that he is your spouse. I have a member of our COO Alliance and I said something about, “It’s so great meeting your husband,” and she goes, “Awkward. That’s my brother.”
I used to get that more frequently. My last name used to be Jantsch, and then I was married a few years ago and so I’m a Nay. That question came up all the time. People were like, “Is he your father or husband?” Definitely, my father.
I want to talk a little bit about that component as well. Let’s start there actually. What was it like starting to work with your father and working with him in a business? What have been the good, bad, and the ugly of that? I imagine it hasn’t always been easy. There’s got to be the typical family dynamics parts or the typical work arguments as well, or frustrations. Can you walk us through some of the good, bad, and ugly of that?
For your first point in terms of how it all started, it was one of my first jobs. I was an intern at an email marketing company. I did some traveling after that, and then I came back to Kansas City. I started as an intern at Duct Tape Marketing. Honestly, I was a Psychology major, had an internship before that, didn’t have a ton of experience at that time. I started very slow, and it was a great way to understand if working together with my father was even going to work. Also, it took me about two years to really understand marketing and everything we had going on.
It was a great training period to get up to speed as well. I started out as an intern, and then progressed over the last few years from things like Community Manager, Marketing Manager. I got into operations, run our sales. Now, I’m essentially the Director of our operations and have my hands in a lot of the different areas of our business today.
In terms of working with my father, we actually have a very great working relationship. I’ve heard of this a lot, but he’s more of the innovator, I would say. He has the ideas, and that’s where he makes a huge value and impact in our business. I’m more of the integrator or implementer. I’m very Type-A. I’m able to take these big ideas, which I also hopefully contribute to and put them into a plan and actually make them work and move forward ultimately.
Honestly, we’ve had a really complementary relationship over the years because our different skillsets line up very nicely. The good, the bad, and the ugly, we haven’t had a lot of bad and ugly. I’m not just saying that because I’m on a show. We have jived. We’ve been really fortunate and lucky where we’ve jived working together very well over the years.
It’s funny I talked to someone and they said, “I would never hire anyone who I was related to to work for me.” I’m like, “That’s sad.” It seems sad that you couldn’t work with somebody that you love or care about. That’s the way it should be, right? You should be able to work through that.
Yes. I have a very strong passion for what we do. It was part of my childhood. My dad has run this business for when I was a child, and I saw that. I saw him running. He took the leap to entrepreneurship around when I was born. I saw him go through all of those stages and experiences, and how passionate he has been at serving the small businesses over the years. Naturally, I have that in me as well.
There are oftentimes that I’m working late at night, early in the mornings, after my kids go to bed before they wake up. It’s not because he’s over my shoulder saying, “You need to get this stuff done.” It’s more of I’m just so passionate about who we serve as well. I also care so much about our business, and that’s led to a lot of our growth over the years.
You get it as well. What’s the size of the business right now in terms of the number of employees, etc.? Who are your typical clients?
In terms of size of business, we are small on purpose. There are about ten of us, but John and I are the main full-time employees, and then everyone else is part-time for the most part. It’s small but we do a lot of things. Our typical clients, we’re a little bit different than a traditional marketing agency, where we have John, who’s an author, speaker, he does a lot of training workshops, webinars. That’s one side of our business.
We do consulting and coaching. That target audience are small businesses, really in a range of industries over the years, but we typically work with local service-based industries. Then another branch of our business is we have a consultant network. We have about 150 marketing consultants, agency owners, coaches that are essentially certified in our methodology. They’re able to use our approach to marketing to go and work with small to medium-sized businesses. John launched that a few years ago now, and his goal behind that was to make an impact on as many people as possible.
What percentage of revenue would come out of that third component, the licensing and the 100-and-some-odd consultants?
I would say about 30% off the top of my head.
It’s a meaningful size part of the business. Is that the core growth now? Is that where you’re focusing on scaling?
Yes, we really are. Scaling that group is one of our main focuses. It has been for a while. It’s not ever meant to be thousands and thousands of people, but we want to continue to see growth and have a really tight-knit community there. That’s definitely an emphasis. Everything that we do in terms of creating content and value is always serving small business audiences, but also consultants and agency owners who are also small business owners as well.
Your dad and I have shared the stage before at a group that the Entrepreneurs’ Organization ran back at MIT. How many books has he written now?
Is the book side of it branding and marketing positioning for you? Is it lead gen? Is it a passion project? Is it a moneymaker as well? What’s the thought behind books?
It’s absolutely a combination of the three. Lead gen is a huge component of it. Every time a new book comes out, he gets interviewed on more podcasts. He speaks at more events. People read the book, obviously, and then they reach out to us about working with us directly. It’s a passion project as well. Watching him write so many books, it has to be partially a passion project, especially when you’re running a business. He’s already working full-time and then writing a book on the side essentially. It has to be a bit of a passion. You’re going to get through it. Then obviously, the money-making component as well is a piece of that.
I’m working on my sixth book.
You can relate.
It’s a lot of freaking work. It’s a lot of work, and it does all of the things it’s supposed to do when you use it properly, but it’s a lot of work.
Every time he jokes at the end, he’s like, “My wife is not going to let me write another one for a while.”
When are you writing a book?
I don’t know. That’s a good question. I’ve actually been asked that before, and I don’t think I’m naturally strong at writing as he is. For me, I think it would be a little bit more of a hurdle, but I’m not saying it won’t ever happen. It’s just not on the radar right now.
My books have all been done by me thinking out loud and recording all of my thoughts and then getting everything transcribed and then editing all the transcriptions. I can’t sit down and type anything to save my life. To just walk around talking and transcribing stuff has worked well for me.
That’s great advice. I have hiking trails behind my house, and whenever I need to do some deep thinking like that, I’ll just go out and walk. Maybe, I’ll write a book walking one day.
Maybe there’s a tie-in with the hiking too. I don’t know hijacked hikes. What’s not working in marketing these days?
Good question. I experienced that a lot because as I mentioned, I lead our sales now. One of the things that I have the opportunity to do is I get to speak to small business owners daily, weekly, all the time about their challenges, and what they’ve struggled with from a marketing perspective in the past. The thing that I hear time-after-time is they’re working with different companies that just promise specific tactics, and they dive straight into tactics without understanding the customer journey.
For example, people will spend all this money on a paid advertising campaign, and then they get traffic to their website but no one converted. It’s like, “What’s the experience after they’re on your website? Are you capturing their email? Are you going to continue to nurture them? Are you continuing to build a relationship and trust?” There are a lot of people promising all these shiny objects, “You should be on TikTok, you should be doing this.” It’s like, “Does that make sense for your target audience, first of all? What is the message you’re going to go at those channels on? Then where are you trying to guide people ultimately?” That’s a lot of the work we do.
One of our concepts that we’ve been teaching on for years and years is the marketing hourglass. It’s basically how you can get someone to know, like, trust, try, buy, repeat, refer you. That gives a lot of focus and purpose to your marketing because from there, you can say, “What do we need to do in these stages? What is the customer expecting in these stages? Where are our gaps? What’s our opportunity for improvement?” Then that will help determine what channels you should be on with what messaging because it gives it focus ultimately.
Did you just say know, like, trust, try, buy, repeat, refer?
First, holy s*** that I actually remember in that order.
That was great. I’ve said it for years, so I got it. You rolled it right off.
First, I have a horrible memory to be able to ever do that. I’m really impressed that I was able to do that. The reason I was able to do it is the hourglass concept made sense to me conceptually. I saw the top of it was the know, like, and trust. Then the bottom of the hourglass was the try, buy, repeat, refer. It just logically made sense. Is that what you do then is work with clients on each of those seven stages of that process?
Yes. Ultimately, when we’re doing strategy, which is 100% where we start with all clients, no matter what, is first who’s your ideal client? Then second, what’s your message you’re going to lead with to attract that client and focus on their pain points and your promises? Then it’s the customer journey. When we start analyzing the stages for someone we haven’t worked with, a lot of times they have a lot going on in the know. They’re doing some ads and they’re focusing on SEO. They’re speaking or whatever they might be doing, but then they don’t really think a ton about the like and the trust and the try.
They hope people will buy. They’re hoping people go from know to buy. Then they haven’t done a ton in terms of how are they going to get repeat retainer type of clients. They’re maybe getting referrals naturally in a lot of cases, but they don’t have a referral program in place. Oftentimes, people will have pieces of the hourglass that they’re strongly focusing on but not the full journey in place.
Do you know the brand, Cutco?
It’s Vector Marketing. It’s a sales program where they used to sell knives door-to-door. One of their biggest salespeople was out of Kansas City, and a really close friend of mine. They’re so big on referral-based selling, and they didn’t do cold calling. They just networked marketing. It was like network marketing, but it was not slimy MLM marketing. It was clean.
On that note real fast, the whole referral phase is so important. John’s written a whole book on it, The Referral Engine. It’s so important because if you can get a referral, if we’re going back to the hourglass, that allows you to move from know, like, trust, try really quickly because there’s already a lot of trust built in. People are ready to ultimately move through your sales process faster because of the referral. That’s why putting emphasis on gaining referrals is so important for a business in terms of their existing clients, but also strategic partnerships as well.
Let’s go back and walk through the seven, I think that’s what we should spend our time on. I chuckle every time you say, “John did this, John did that.” When you’re at home like at Thanksgiving or Christmas, do you call him dad?
I do. For twelve years, I’ve been mainly calling him John because we talk all the time in work settings. It rolls off my tongue now. It’s pretty funny.
My brother worked with my dad for years, but ended up buying my dad’s company. For a decade, he would call my dad, John, same name. Five minutes later, we’d be on the golf course. He’d be like, “Dad, throw me my putter.” I’m like, “You just called him John seventeen times today. How does that even switch?” He goes, “We’re at the golf course.”
He’s not trying to call him John or trying to call him dad. It’s just this natural separation of state that happens that I think is really powerful.
I would agree with that. When I’m in a work setting, if I’m being interviewed, even if I’m talking to him in front of our internal staff, I’ll still call him John. It’s natural in the work setting, but as you said, if I’m at his house and we’re hanging out, calling him John would feel awkward in that setting.
I saw Barbara Bush, George Sr.’s wife speak one time, and she said that when she would call her husband for dinner, if the whole family was there, let’s say it was Christmas, and she needed her husband to come into the kitchen, as if she was cooking. She would say, “41, get in here.” If she wanted her son to call, she’d be like, “43, get in here.” If she was calling them both, she’d be like, “84.” That’s so cute. I was like, “There’s no way you were ever calling them into the kitchen. I’m sure you had staff bringing your food.” It’s a cute story nonetheless. Let’s go to the know. What are the critical things, the critical lessons that we can do? Is it for us to know our customer or for our customers and prospects to know of us?
It’s for your customers and prospects to know of you. Typically, when we’re brainstorming the hourglass in each phase, we’ll say, “For your existing business,” I work with a lot of remodelers, for example. That’s one of our industries. Let’s just use this as an example. Let’s say you’re a remodeling company, “How are your clients finding you today? How are clients finding other remodeling companies today?” It’s typically what we ask like, “What are the clients already doing or the prospects already doing?” Then from there, “What should your response be or what opportunity of improvement could you have?”
Some examples, a lot of remodelers, a lot of that comes from referrals or reading reviews online, at least. They want to see trust. They want to hear from someone else. They ask a family, they ask a friend, they ask a neighbor who had work done. Referrals is huge in that industry. To me, that means that focusing on a referral program is really important for modelers.
A lot of people do turn to Google search. Even if they’ve gotten a referral, they’ll still look online these days to read more about them. Again, they’ll read reviews, they’ll look at their website, they’ll look for other helpful content. Google search is an important component of it as well. It’s basically just asking. Google ads is another opportunity for a lot of remodelers. It’s basically asking how can people learn about you or hear about you for the first time, answer those questions, and then you fill out, “Based on that, what should we really be focusing on from a tactical standpoint?”
I agree on the Google review side of things. I’ve been really pushing my clients to stack their reviews. It’s like launching a satellite that it takes a lot of energy to get the satellite in orbit. Once it’s in orbit, it stays forever. If you can be calling every single customer you’ve had for the last five years, asking them to leave you a Google review and you get 100, 200, 300 Google reviews, those are going to help you for the next five years. I’m astounded by the number of companies that aren’t pushing for that.
I agree, especially local businesses. I have a dentist, for example, and she’s in Lakewood, a good friend of mine that I’m working with. One of the first things we did when she bought a practice a couple of Novembers ago was like, “Let’s start getting reviews from everyone you see.” Especially a dentist office, they have a lot of volume. They have multiple people a day that they can be asking for reviews from.
What we’ve implemented with her is an email that goes out, but also a text message. The text message gets a ton of response because people are literally getting it on their phone. They click a few buttons, they type some things, they send it as easy as possible. That’s the best thing we did for her from a marketing perspective because she had got hundreds of reviews, and now she has a ton of traffic coming from a Google business profile because of that. It’s one of the first things we do especially with our local clients. It’s like, “Review strategy, how are we going to get them?” It’s a huge component.
You’re like the online girl for the offline world, it feels like. A lot of your businesses are the offline service-based businesses, is that right?
Yes, for the most part. We work in a range of industries, but for the most part, absolutely. It’s people providing services locally is our niche.
The Google reviews then ties into the trust component as well, doesn’t it? Because of the social proof.
Yeah, that’s a huge trust. Social proof. We recommend in terms of that is having obviously reviews on different sites, industry-related sites, Google, Facebook, different platforms, but also then obviously having reviews and testimonials and stories on your website as well. If you can do case studies, if that makes sense in your industry, actually having case studies with people’s names attributed to them, all of that stuff is such a trust component that highlights success of your clients. It’s not all about just talking about how great you are as well.
I’m not going to look at it now because I’ll get distracted, but I would imagine, is your website as good as it’s supposed to be, or is there stuff to work on? Are you like the cobbler’s child?
There’s probably stuff that we could absolutely work on. We’re actually redoing our website with a new team member that we brought on. Ask me that again after a few months, and it’ll be the model website, I’m sure at that point.
I’ll check it after a few weeks in. Funny you mentioned the remodelers. I built a company called College Pro Painters years ago, and one of my former franchisees started two companies. One called Reliable Remodeler and the second one called Handyman Online. He built both of those companies and sold them well over a decade ago for an obscene amount of money. He was just a resource list of pulling all these types of businesses together. How do you get to the like part? What’s the like in the second step of the hourglass?
Again, it goes down to, “Someone’s heard about you from the know. What are they going to do next?” Typically, that’s some of the things we’ve been talking about. They’re going to look you up online. They’re going to read your reviews. They’ll probably go to your social media channels just to make sure that you’re presenting yourself in a positive way. They’ll go to your website. They’ll look for helpful information. Maybe they’ll opt in for something if you have a newsletter sign up, look at on your email list if it makes sense. Those are the types of actions that really like and trust I think overlap in a lot of ways to me.
Those are the types of actions that someone will continue their learning and education to decide if they want to move forward. In the like and trust, it’s really important to, as we said, generate reviews, highlight customer stories and case studies on your website, have really valuable useful content. Video is huge in the like and trust. If you were a small business, having a video from the founder right on the homepage, easy to take in, sharing the culture, all of that stuff. Any awards or associations you’re part of are helping with trust building. It’s just how you’re going to demonstrate that you’re the best option to work with through storytelling ultimately.
Your dad or John has received a lot of press from his books and stuff over the years. Does press start to fall into the trust component side as well then?
Yeah, absolutely. I tell a lot of people, a lot of my clients’ podcasting is even an easy channel to do. It helps you gain authority. You’re able to be published on different people’s websites. You get backlinks, you get in front of different audiences. Press is important, but also just being interviewed in different places and publishing content on different platforms is a great component as well. That goes across from know, like, and trust.
Then it’s what you can do with that at that point. We get to the try side of things. What’s happening there?
Try is dependent obviously on the industry. Try can be a video if you don’t really have a trial offer just so people can experience you further. A lot of cases for my clients, try can be a consultation of some sort, a discovery call, or maybe if a remodeler goes out to someone’s house and talks them through design work as a first step. If you’re a software company, a free 30-day trial, that’s a very obvious one. There are different ways.
The idea behind try is someone has come to your website, you’ve built trust with them. They want to experience working with you on some level or what it might be like to then make the decision to move to the buy phase. For us, one of the things that we do is actually a strategy session for prospects where we will start mapping out the hourglass with them together to open their eyes to all the different possibilities and to experience us as advisors or mentors. Then from there, we’ll move into more of a sales conversation of, “This is how we can make it all happen together ultimately.”
How do you charge? How does your company work in terms of the consulting side of things?
We start with strategy always. That’s a 30 to 45-day package where we map out a lot of these components that we’re talking about, ideal client, core message, customer journey, execution, and content calendar, the biggest components of that. From there, we go to retainers for all of our clients. We try to stay with clients for years and years. John’s longest client is 15, 16 years now, a remodeler in Kansas City.
Our goal is to stay involved and really be a partner. If you’re thinking of these small businesses, they don’t have marketing team in place in most cases. If they do, we can coach them and train them up. In most cases, they don’t have marketers in place, and they’ve tried to outsource or they’ve tried to do it themselves. We come in and become an advisor, a trusted partner, and our goal is to really take the marketing off of their plates. Obviously, keep them involved in monthly reporting sessions, quarterly strategic planning sessions as well.
What kind of marketing do you take off their plates? What kind of tactical stuff do you then do?
We focus on a range. We’re mainly digital marketing. We focus on paid advertising, email marketing, SEO, social media. Content production is huge. Website work is huge. I’m getting reviews and ratings online. It’s specific to the client and their needs and their customer journey that we’d map out. Those are usually the core channels that we’re focusing on, but we do offline stuff as well like direct mail pieces, if it makes sense.
Are there areas that you stay away from?
Not necessarily. I wouldn’t say there’s something that we shy away from. That’s really where we specialize in is those core groups. If we don’t specialize in something that’s being brought to the table, we might look for another partner or collaborate with someone else versus trying to do something that we don’t really specialize with. Again, going back to our clients, that’s really the core areas they need to lay the foundation and grow on. We try to stay away from big, shiny ideas, and focus on what we know that works.
If a company is out there and they’re looking to hire an agency or hire some freelancers, what are the mistakes that companies are making and how can they find those either agencies or freelancers easier without stumbling through having to try three of them and the fourth one works out?
Really understanding what goes into an effective marketing strategy is an important step. I have a client that I’ve been working with now that we just finished her strategy for, and she was so overwhelmingly thankful because she had been working with other companies in the past, and they defined her ideal client and her messaging and then they dove into tactics. They did the research phase of strategy, but not the actual planning stage.
She had been really frustrated because her tactics felt really random, and they ultimately were. Understanding marketing strategy is the initial research, but you also have to have an execution calendar based on your customers. That’s the next step that I think a lot of people miss when they talk about marketing strategy. That’s one.
Another frustration that I hear all the time that drives me crazy is people will hire a marketing company or an SEO company, not to pick on SEO companies specifically. They’ll pay a certain amount per month for a retainer. Then this company just sends them a report of their metrics, and they have no idea what it means because SEO can be a technical topic for people that don’t have marketing experience.
They have absolutely no idea what it means, what they’re paying for, what results they’re getting, but they just keep them engaged because they know they need to be doing SEO. It’s understanding a couple of pieces, your full marketing strategy, but also the metrics that you should be paying attention to and why will help you ultimately hire someone and hold them accountable moving forward.
It seems to be a huge pain point for so many companies, and it often feels they’re taking the first referral they get as well. We’re often hard-wired as humans to help everybody. If somebody says, “I need a PR firm.” “I know a PR firm, you should use them.” “I’ve never used them before. I don’t really know much about them.” It’s like, “I heard of them.” They end up just hiring that first firm that comes along or the first SEO firm or the first paid search firm.
Another thing that I’ve seen all the time is then they get locked in year commitments. I also think, unless you really feel good about the company that you’re going to work with, I would shy away from signing a year commitment until you know that they’re going to be able to get you the results that they’re promising.
For us, like I said, we try to work with our clients for years and years. They can give us 30-day notice to cancel at any time, no matter what. That gives a lot of flexibility and people being able to start working with us, experience us, but then not be locked in. I’ll hear from people all the time like, “I have six more months on this SEO contract, but they’re not performing.” It’s like, “You probably shouldn’t have gotten into that situation to begin with.”
“I’m leaving the marketing agency that’s been trying to help me for the last eighteen months. We’re not getting the return and the results we’re looking for. It’s been super frustrating. I’m on a month-to-month, so it’s easy to leave, but I have felt for so long pot committed because I’ve been giving them this time. It’s like, â€˜Maybe next month it will get better.’ Finally, it’s like, â€˜It’s just not getting any better.’ I feel like I’ve wasted a bunch of time and money in that process as well, which has been hard.” Then we go from the buy and the repeat. Any big lessons for us there?
Yes. For buy, for us, it starts with making it as easy as possible. For us, we’re selling strategy first to begin with our engagement. We have an agreement that is already built in a proposal software. It takes me two minutes to put in someone’s name, send it over. They can click and sign. We also send a payment link with that. They can click and pay. First of all, making it as easy as possible when someone says, “I’m ready to buy,” I think is a big piece of the puzzle.
Also, you can’t forget about after they buy. That’s where we see a lot of opportunity for clients that we work with is, “What does your onboarding process look like no matter what industry you’re in? How are you going to communicate right away what the next steps are? Are you going to send them a welcome gift? How are you going to surprise them?” Right after they purchase something, especially if it’s a big investment, that’s where you’re most at risk for them to have fears about the commitment they made. Really the buy stage isn’t just about collecting money. It’s how are you going to blow them away from the very beginning.
Do you know the name, Joey Coleman?
Yes, he spoke at one of our events a few years ago. He’s a great guy.
I just spent time with him and his wife down in Antarctica. I’ve been friends with them for a decade. His First 100 Days of the customer journey is amazing. Completely bang on. We talked a little bit about the refer side of things. Let’s go back on the ops side of the business for you. Where do you struggle right now in terms of operations? What are the day-to-day pain points for you?
We are onboarding a couple of people, a couple of new client managers at once. I feel like we’ve done really well over the years in terms of documenting processes and systems, how my mind works, but bringing on two members at once that have different background experiences as project managers and different ways of working. It really gave me a lot of insight on how we can document our processes more efficiently. The challenge is when we bring on someone new, there are so many different parts of our business. It’s how we get them up to speed efficiently and get everyone on the same page. That’s a lot of what I’ve been working on lately, but I think that is one of our biggest challenges.
What are you using to document your processes right now? Are you just doing stuff in Google Docs, or are you using SweetProcess or Process Street or anything?
We used to use Google Docs. Right now, we’re using Notion as a tool. Everything that we do from a day-to-day project management, client management, all my tasks are mapped out in Monday.com as well. It’s a bit of a combination between Notion and Monday.com.
The key with that is to understand the basic framework of it. If you can document a process on a piece of paper, then you should be allowed to use Google Docs or Google Sheets. Then if you can do it there, then you should be allowed to use Monday and Notion. The people that jump right to the software solution and don’t understand the basic process or how to do something, that’s when it all seems to fall apart.
We’ve gotten huge with our processes. This has been a learning of recently. All of our processes now are a video of someone doing it on a Loom or whatever. It’s a video, you can watch the video once, and then below it is literally a checklist of the steps that you don’t want to make any mistakes on. That’s been really helpful. It’s having it visually displayed and then a quick checklist. The third, fourth, fifth time you do it, you can just go through the checklist.
It’s simple. It works out really well. I want to go back to your growth in terms of you growing as a COO, you growing as a Head of Ops. Where have you had to grow over the years? Where have you had to work on yourself as a leader?
There’s been a lot of growth. I started as an intern, who has not a lot of experience. I’ve learned a lot, and I’ve learned a lot about different elements of our business. To start, I had no sales experience. Now, I lead 100% of our sales and I absolutely love it. Sales is a lot about providing value, having conversations, talking about pain points, providing solutions, at least that’s how we approach sales.
I’ve had to practice over the last few years to feel really confident in where I’m at now. That has been a whole evolution because if you would have told me years ago that I would have been in sales, I would have been terrified. That was a lot of growth for me over the years. Then also, operations. My mind works well in systems and processes, but I hadn’t really had any official training on that component other than what I’ve read, what I’ve learned from John over the years, and all that stuff.
I did join the Scalable Business Advisor Program, which you mentioned when you introduced me earlier, and that is all about the operations side of a business. I’ve learned a lot more through that training. What drew me to that was obviously working in our business in terms of operations. Also, I’m able to now provide that opportunity to clients as well.
Some of our clients over the years, we’ve gotten them the growth. We’ve gotten them the lead generation, but then they didn’t really have processes to serve the volume that was coming to them. I was ultimately creating a different problem for them in some ways. Now, we’re able to come in and obviously generate growth, generate leads, lead conversion, but then also look at the operational side of things. It all ties back again to the customer journey, not to touch on that again too much, but the know, like, trust, try, that’s a lot of marketing and sales, but then the buy and repeat and referral, a lot of that’s operations and automation and serving clients. You really have to have both, I think, to be successful.
One of our former COO Alliance members was the second-in-command for Alex and Leila Hormozi. If you know Alex Hermosi from Gym Launch, they’re $100 million marketing agency just for gyms and fitness locations. They had ridiculous success at helping gyms double and triple and quadruple their volume of clients. He said, “All of a sudden they had all these clients and their business started breaking down because they didn’t know how to service them. They didn’t know how to take care of them. They didn’t know how to bring them in and onboard them.” He had to add that whole component, as well. He was like, “It was pointless to just be great at marketing,” because it was going to kill their business if he didn’t help them succeed on the operations side.
That’s when you start getting bad reviews and stuff publicly because you’re not able to serve them on that side of things. Another piece on the operations and service side of things is oftentimes, small businesses aren’t thinking about how they can repeat customers, how can they sell more to their customers that are already fans of theirs, how can they continue to provide value as well. To me, that’s a bit of an operational thing, sales thing. It’s the full piece of the puzzle. It’s not just about generating new leads or business. It’s about taking care and selling more to the people you already serve ultimately.
I want to go back years ago, back to the intern Sara Nay. What advice would you give yourself back then when you were just starting out in your career? Maybe advice that you know today to be true, but you wish you’d known back then.
Back then, I was young. I was still figuring out like, “Do I want to be doing this? Should I pursue this?” I didn’t have the confidence in what I was doing as I do today. Obviously, that comes with a lot of experience. I work with a lot of other consultants and agency owners. When they’re just getting started, a lot of people have, and I’ve actually just talked about this on a Mastermind, is Imposter syndrome. You don’t feel confident in what you’re doing because you don’t have the experience to back you up.
One of the things that I’ve learned over the years is I’ve surrounded myself with really smart people that know a lot, and I’ve learned a lot. Even if I don’t have the answer, I still have confidence that I will be able to get a solution worked out for the person that I’m speaking with. If I was speaking to my younger self, worry less about the confidence piece, you’ll continue to learn and evolve and grow over time.
Sara Nay, the COO of Duct Tape Marketing, thanks so much for sharing with us on the show. I really appreciate your time.