We are technically in an economic recession right now. As the market experiences a major downturn, it is up to you to do a complete mindset shift and embrace a perspective of success. Bill Courtright and Chris Snellgrove share how they handle the recession by spending time and resources to differentiate themselves from the rest. They discuss the best ways to make your business trustworthy in this challenging market. Bill and Chris also talk about keeping a positive attitude despite the negative energy and the importance of consistent improvement.
Listen to the podcast here
The Importance Of Mindset Shift During Tough Times
Recession Proof Marketing
We’ve got an exciting episode in store for you. Apparently, there’s a recession going on. Chris and I have decided not to participate. We are going into this looking at it as an opportunity. We thought we’d share with you our views, opinions, and insights on what it takes to thrive in tough times. Tough times happen. We get that, but tough people either get going or get going the other way.
Chris and I have committed that 2022 is going to be our best year. We are going to use this as an opportunity. We see this as an opportunity for the herd to be somewhat leaned out. The cream will rise to the top and there will be fewer players in this space at the end of what typically is only a ten-month recession. If you look at the last four recessions, do you know that they’ve only averaged ten months? We’ve had two negative quarters in a row. We’re technically in a recession, but how we react to those negative economic quarters is the difference between success and failure, in our opinion. Chris, we’re allegedly in a recession. Are we going to participate?
No. I refuse. I don’t believe in it. In 2008, we lost $1 million in annual reoccurring revenue in the span of two weeks. It was September 2008 and it was Black Friday. We fought hard during that time. The bubble burst and it was bound to burst again. When it burst, people went into panic mode and were living in fear. We said, “We’re going to expand instead of retracting.”
We opened up three markets in 2009 when everybody else was retracting and Auto Trader magazines shut their operations down. It was the mindset. We said, “We’re going to grow during this time.” Two years later when the smoke was clearing, there was one competitor magazine on the street back then. We survived. Not only did we survive, but we also opened up multiple markets. Our revenues weren’t crazy but we went out and grabbed market share. That was the key. It all begins with mindset.
I 100% agree. We’ve talked about this. We acknowledge that we’ve had some of what they call negative economic growth. That means you’ve had a couple of quarters or six months where things have regressed. Here’s the thing. Recessions don’t affect everyone, and they certainly don’t affect every business. Tough times don’t always have to be a recession. That’s the one everybody is talking about. It’s inflation, recession, what’s going on in the economy, the job market, or the Great Resignation. It’s all noise. Ultimately, it is an opportunity. We see it as an opportunity.
In order for us to thrive in tough times, we first have to focus on what makes us better, what makes us different, and where are there going to be unlimited opportunities even if there is a recession or a downturn and even if times are tough. Think about it. Recession can cause tough times, but everybody goes through tough times.
There’s a quote. It might have even been from The Honeymooners where, “If your neighbor’s out of work, it’s a recession, but if you’re out of work, it’s a depression.” Ultimately, it’s how you look at it. It’s how you live within your own space. There are going to be businesses in the next six months that, as Chris has correctly pointed out, are going to grow. They’re going to look at this as an opportunity or as a leaning of the herd and a way to differentiate themselves and their value proposition. They’re going to focus on the areas for which they’re the most valuable and they’re going to stay there.
We define focus as following one course until successful. We’re going through this. We are reintroducing ourselves at a time when we feel this is our time to make the big move. We are aware. We have a lot of friends in the space. We have a lot of strong businesses. Guess what they’re doing? They’re crying in their soup. They’re laying people off. They’re complaining and moaning. They’re nagged out. They’re looking at other opportunities. They’re weak. In our opinion, we got to thrive.
Talk to me a little bit about when it comes to mindset, the world is nagging you out, there are people crying in their soup, or they’re taking your energy, what do you do? How do you stay so upbeat and positive? How do you seemingly get stronger when everyone around you seems to be getting deflated?
First of all, I make sure that I surround myself with only positive-minded people. If you’re a negative Nancy or talking about stuff that I don’t believe in, I’m not buying into that. I’ll give you an example. I called my good friend Marc Budnik who’s in the mortgage space. He’s crushing it. I said, “Are you worried?” He said, “Worried about what?” I said, “A lot of people are talking about the recession.” It depends on what side of the aisle. One side of the aisle is saying there’s no recession. They rewrite the definition, which is hilarious.
The fact is we’ve got record inflation. There are going to be job layoffs like Tesla laid off 10% of its workforce. The reality is we are moving into some more challenging times. When I called my good friend, Marc Budnik, who is Mr. Positive from the time he gets up to the time he goes to bed, he said, “What are you talking about? It’s not going to be a recession for me. There are always going to be people buying houses. I’m going to make sure I’m in front of those people and realtors and that my network is not going to affect.” From that mindset, I was like, “This guy isn’t going to get hurt.”
There are going to be people that do get hurt because it starts here between their two ears. If you believe it so, it shall be so. Mindset is critical. As David Goggins said, “You got to stay hard.” That means staying the course, being committed, and being determined. How are you going to fail if you operate on that mindset?If you believe something, it shall be so. Mindset is absolutely critical. You have to fight and stay the course. Click To Tweet
There’s a quote Chris has heard me say 100 times. I don’t know if I said it on the show yet. It’s like, “Isn’t it amazing that a person with definiteness of purpose walks through life watching first as people step aside, and then come beside to help them with their aims?” It focuses on that definiteness of purpose. Everybody reading can relate to a time in their life when they were passionate, driven, and empowered to accomplish something. Jordan talks about it. Athletes talk about it. It is that feeling of being in the zone where you’re in perfect flow, opportunities, awareness, your peripheral vision opens up. You see and hear more when you get into this place of flow, but it starts with defining a purpose.
That quote empowers me. Chris and I talk about it. We define ourselves in our leadership style and the way we cultivate the culture within our organization, the way we lead our teams, and the way we support our clients. It’s, first of all, understanding the intention of where we are going beginning with the end in mind, defining a purpose, crafting a course, and staying true to that. That is when a lot of that noise that Chris referenced goes away.
We focus on that firm foundation that Chris developed of reputation, reputation marketing, more importantly, customer experience, earning the right to get reviews, having those reviews exemplify your differences in the marketplace, and attracting more people. Where things get a little more difficult, do you know that people will spend more time researching a purchasing decision? They’re going to spend more time on review sites. They’re going to spend more time on your site because in their mind, it’s like, “I have to do this. I have to find a pediatrician. I have to select an orthopedic surgeon to get my knee fixed. My wife is going to need a gynecologist. I’m going to spend more time right now.”
My dollars might be more valuable to me, but there are so many purchasing decisions that we will continue to make, so we are going to spend more time through our due diligence phase. We’re going to be more critical and scrutinizing in our decisions, which means more time online. We’re taking more into consideration when we make those decisions, like the opinions, statements, or public validation that you might find on Yelp, Bing, Google, or your website. What do you think about this time as an opportunity to take stock and audit? What are people saying about you online because your next customer is going to be looking?
I love what you’re saying because the most successful people in the world expand during times of economic downturn. You look at the Warren Buffetts of the world, the people who invest when everybody else is pulling out of the market. It’s the absolute best time to buy. It’s also the best time to take your positioning online and make it superior.
What is your online presence like? Do you dominate local search results when people are looking for the services that you offer? If you don’t, take this opportunity right now. When everybody else is retracting, expand your online presence. Make sure you have more reviews, higher ratings, and a more dominant position in local search results. If you’re not in the local 3-pack and you’re a service-based customer for a client that serves a certain area, you need to be in that local 3-pack. You need to have more reviews and ratings than your competitors, and then you dominate. That is so important.
The other thing that we talk about continuously is the coaching of your staff, whoever is interacting with your clients or patients. Are you having staff meetings regarding patient experience? Are you focused on that as a company? Are you looking to improve it? Are you getting feedback from customers, clients, or patients? If you’re not getting that feedback and doing something with it, then you can be missing out in terms of churn. People can be leaving your business and you not even knowing it.
We know it takes a lot to earn a new customer or patient. The most important thing after you’ve earned their business is retaining it and keeping it. How do you do that? Do you have regular meetings on a regular basis to focus on that? Most companies don’t. That’s why people love what we do because we offer that as a side benefit of doing marketing for them. That’s what stands us apart.
It’s interesting. You could call it karma, providence, or good fortune. I used to work for a guy and he used to call it the deserve factor. This will be the third recession for me as a professional. There was one in the Bush-Clinton years when I wasn’t working. I was in college. In the first one I experienced, my boss told me, “There’s a thing called the deserve factor. If you are doing everything you can do to make yourself the best version of yourself, are you listening to tapes in your car?” At that time, I was a salesperson. That’s when we had tapes. He was like, “Are you setting yourself up to deserve to win?”
I believed it. It was a difference-maker. I thought, “If the number one seller in the region was spending nine hours in the car and every time they got back into the car after an appointment, they’re listening to Zig Ziglar or Brian Tracy, naturally, they’re going to have a better attitude, a better mouthpiece, and a better word track. They’re going to have better service of their potential client than someone who’s listening to sports radio or rock music.”
That was something that we focused on in that deserve factor. Sometimes, during tough times, you have to give yourself the certainty and the confidence to look in the mirror and say, “I’m doing everything I have to do to be one of the few left standing.” That means focusing on continued education. To your point, focus on training your team. Focus on what makes you different and what makes you unique. Establish a culture and a mindset of that deserve factor that you’re like, “We’re going to put in the extra time and resources. We’re going to devote ourselves to making sure we’re the best version of this company we can be.”
Here’s the bottom line. A third of them are going to be gone. Let’s face it. This is not recession-related. Twenty percent of businesses turn over every single year. During a recession, you’re going to see about a 10% increase in individuals and organizations going away. That’s an opportunity for you to be one of those left standing.
What are you doing every day to incent that deserve factor and enable that providence or that Karmic boomerang to come back to you in opportunities, closes, presentations, and consultations? What we’re doing is we’re pouring into our people. Chris is going to talk for a second about what we’re doing to the organization forward-facing. Let’s go into that.
Although we’re putting a lot into the CE of our people and we’re making sure every one of our people has the tools and resources to do their best work, explain to the audience a little bit about what we’re doing to reintroduce ourselves as an organization during these tough times. These things will hopefully catapult us above and beyond the people who are just scratching their heads and having that poo-poo attitude.
It’s interesting because we joined a mastermind. The big benefit of a mastermind is you get the brain trust of people that are excelling in your industry. Most people that are in mastermind are successful people. You can model these behaviors the way that they’re operating their businesses. The one thing that we’ve come to learn is all of our teams don’t need to be internal.
We can utilize outsourced talent and contractors and increase our efficiencies and our expertise on many skill levels. That seems to be the new model of choice in the agency world. It is finding specialists and experts in your field, aligning with them, and developing a partnership. We’ve done that and we’ve got twelve outside contractors that are experts in their field that do it far better than we could ever internally. Now they’re on our team. We’ve expanded our team and not expanded the payroll.
I’m excited about the direction we’re going. We started as a company that sold reputation in social media. We started playing around with local SEO and helping people get found in local search results. We then started dabbling in email marketing, which was lead nurturing and then got into lead gen with some PPC. We’re doing it all, full service, from WebDev to SEO to PPC paid search. It’s exciting because we’re going to move from a model of many clients to fewer clients, but a little bit different type of clientele.
Our new target is someone who is very serious about scaling. They have growth goals of 25% or more. They’re willing to invest on the minimum side of $2,500 to $20,000 a month. It’s exciting. With that, we’re going to introduce some new branding. We’re about to do a major rebrand for Sensei that we’re excited about. It’s the right time. We’re going to make a new website. It’s important that people stay up-to-date and refreshed. We recommend a refresh of a website every 24 months and a total rebuild every 3 to 5 years. You need to stay current. This will be our 4th website in about 6 years. If you count the first one, the first one was put up pretty fast and quickly to have something. Our third real one is the website.
It speaks to this commitment to evolution and this commitment to Kaizen. How can you always be improving if you’re not improving? It’s cool that we can feel that improvement within our walls and we can see the improvement in the offices occupied by our team members. Even with the teams that we collaborate with here, we can see it. Every once in a while, you need to share with the world what’s going on. It’s cool and refreshing. Speaking to the team of rivals, if you will, we realized right away that being inch-wide and a mile deep is much more attractive in this economy having a real specialty and expertise in an area that we could be proud of.
What that means is if one of our clients confides in Chris or me where they’re going and they’re focused on growth. They are focusing on new locations and expanding into new markets or maybe they’re trying to be saleable or set themselves up for an exit or a retirement, these people have already said, “We’re going to do this. You’re going to be my CMO. You’re going to be the one pulling the levers and twisting the knobs. We want you to rely on the best and brightest in the industry. If there’s an organization that can better or more efficiently deliver what I, the client or the business owner, need in order to make sure that I can accelerate without looking in the rearview mirror, that’s what you do.”
That’s why strategic alliance partnerships are so powerful. It’s because you have one visionary representing the goals, dreams, and aspirations of the client. They’re able to come together with what used to be competitors but are then collaborators. It’s coopetition. Everybody gets to do that which they do best.
We have companies that are the best at Pay-Per-Click. They’re the best Google Pay-Per-Click people we’ve ever met and they happen to be in South Florida. We’re in Atlanta. We have an SEO relationship with a gentleman out of Austin, Texas. What he’s doing in the gains that he’s receiving, we couldn’t even match. We are going from left Coast to right Coast all over the world to put together a team so our clients and the relationships that we nurtured get the absolute best results.
That’s why, in my opinion, people want a relationship with one captain, but they want that captain to call upon the best and brightest in the industry to deliver the growth solution that they see fit. It’s not SEO for SEO’s sake. They’re like, “Don’t build me a website because it looks great. Where’s the ROI? How many new patients, customers, or clients did I receive from working with you?” That’s what we like. We don’t hide behind traffic data. It’s all about, “What did this amount last month in new business?”
We’re moving to a results-driven agency model. We want to be comprehensive and take care of everything.
If Chris asks the question, “What are you trying to accomplish in the next 90 days? What is a solid patient acquisition target for you? How many new patients this month would make you feel good about the work we’re doing?” When they come up with a number, you don’t want to have that conversation 30 or 60 days later with less than what they were describing to you as successful. We want to come back and over-deliver.
The biggest problem that I see in the industry is so many people focus on activity. They’re like, “Look at how many clients we have. Look at how many impressions we got, how many clicks we got, and how many this and that and likes and shares we got.” That’s all they care about. At the end of the day, I want to be held to an account based on how much money I put into your pocket that you didn’t have before you met me.
If it takes 40 clicks, but my competitor got 400, who gives a rip? I don’t mind being vulnerable and almost naked feeling out in front of the data. I want to be known as a growth consultant, not a digital marketer. I want to grow businesses for a living. That means you hire us when you need more customers, patients, or clients. That’s what we’re in the business to do.
We will craft a strategy that works right away and works every time. We’re going to rely on the best and brightest in the industry to deliver that for you. In our view, it’ll be affordable, but if you can give me $1 and I can give you $5 back, what difference does it make in how many dollars it takes? We love doing these episodes. Chris is going to be traveling. He’s going to be out of the country, so we won’t have one for a while, but we’ve got a bunch in the can so you shouldn’t feel it at all.
We should do one live from Costa Rica.
That would be awesome. Chris is going to be in Costa Rica for his commitment to sharpening this organization and making sure that we’re getting the CE, the input, and the proximity to other strong digital agencies. He’s going to Costa Rica to learn. I’m sure he’ll have a good time. It’s nice to know that we’ve got an owner who’s committed to being the best and brightest he can be. Sometimes, you’ve got to invest in that.
It’s nice that he and I have a double-edged sword here or two-headed monster, or however you want to refer to it. I’ll be manning the shop and he’ll be out sharpening his sword. When we get back together, we’re full tilt boogie into making it happen. I’m going to end the episode with how I began it. Apparently, there’s a recession going on. However, Chris and I have decided not to participate. With that, this is the show. Chris, send them away.
Thanks. I’m committed to The Commitment Summit. That is an agency-focused summit that the Hite Agency is putting on in Liberia, Costa Rica. I’m looking forward to that. I’m looking forward to networking with those folks and bringing back some golden nuggets for us to use. Peace out. We’ll see you next time. Bye.