The Modern CPA Success Show: Episode 50
Are you spending money in marketing but aren't seeing the results you are expecting?
In this episode we sit down with Summit CPA Group's COO & Co-Founder, Adam Hale and Stephen Pope, CEO/Founder of SGPLabs to talk about content creation, video marketing and new marketing channel that work.
Jamie Nau: Hello, everybody. Welcome to today's podcast. We are happy to be joined once again by Steven Pope and I'm Adam Hale. So, we were just pre showing a little bit. Adam started asking a question. I had to make him be quiet for a second because I wanted to get this on air. So, we're going to jump right to that because I think this question will take us right into it. So welcome to the show Stephen and Adam, but Adam why don’t you go down the path you were just going down.
Adam Hale: I got an email from another CPA firm, which, you know, we're always talking shop about rates and different things, but the email that came up was, I can just read it. Adam, really love the podcast. Too bad Jamie is the host.
All: Laughing [in audible]
Adam Hale: Oh no. Here's the relevant part. They were just talking about how much money they've thrown away at marketing over the last year or so. And they said that they've tried LinkedIn, they've tried Google ad-words, cold email campaigns, et cetera. They just wanted to know if there's one thing that worked better than the other for us. You know, and so Stephen, I'll just throw that at you. I mean, this sounds like something that a lot of people come to you for and probably say the exact same.
Stephen Pope: So, yeah, that's true. A lot of people just invest in marketing, and it goes nowhere. People are also always looking for the magic channel, right? Is it YouTube? Is it SEO? Is it LinkedIn? Is it TikTok? I think we're going to talk about TikTok here a little bit too. Or cold email, right? I think part of the problem is that what makes marketing effective is that you're saying something that really resonates with people. It's not the same old message that everyone says. Otherwise, you won’t stand out. You will look like everyone else. And so, when you go out and you hire a marketing agency to do this for you, chances are, unless they're really, expensive, they're not going to be able to communicate your value the way you think it should be conveyed. How does a marketing agency convey who you are to the rest of the world? Like I know they all sit down, and they have those options during onboarding calls where they talk to you about who you are and like, what you do? And they give you that questionnaire, but like how deep can that really go? So, then they end up just producing assets. They’re just publishing things. It's more like they're just creating assets and doing actions versus doing the hard work, which is developing the actual message that is going to cut through the noise and get somebody to reach out to you. And so, a lot of the time when somebody says, hey. I tried LinkedIn. I tried this. I tried that. When I go in and do an audit of what they're doing, they're not really trying. They are just checking the box. They're saying, I posted on LinkedIn, and nothing happened. And then I look and it's like, well, it's because of this. It's because of what you're posting. Let me show you 30 other CPAs that are posting the same, sometimes the same generic content because a lot of these companies will go out and just buy pre-made content. And it's like, how are you going to stand out if you're literally pushing out the same content as someone else. So, that's where I'd start. Any one of these channels can work, but you must go a little bit deeper and be willing to figure out what that message is as opposed to just like going out and trying to outsource it to someone else.
Jamie Nau: I know we're going to talk a lot about teenagers in this podcast. I think the word you're looking for is viral, right? If you are just making the same videos as everyone else with no passion, no one's going to buy into it. So, you're really looking for that way to make a video know matter what the platform is that people are going to buy into and want to watch. That’s what I heard there.
Stephen Pope: Yeah. I mean, your content has to be good. Where I see the advantage of going online is you have the ability to create awareness that you can trust, but at some sort of scale. And so, when I talk about viral videos, I don't mean that it needs to be like millions and millions of views. But if you spend a few minutes on a video, you want it to get thousands of views. And so, your content ultimately has to be good, and you have to be committed to figuring that out because there's no perfect form. You want some variety virality to it, otherwise you don't get the scalability.
Jamie Nau: And do you think the views are more important or just kind of the reactions from it? Like, again, I know sometimes I'll look at 200 views on a podcast. If I get like five or six questions on it, I'm like, good. We're generating a lot of conversation.
Stephen Pope: Yeah. You have to look at all of these things in context, right? So, on YouTube, you're probably going to get a smaller number of views, but then if you're getting comments from people and asking questions, that's a great indicator that you're on the right track. And then you take those questions that people are asking you and you create content out of that. On social media you have the advantage, like YouTube is social media, but like on TikTok and LinkedIn, you have the ability to get more views on a daily basis. But then they're usually shorter videos. So, people aren't consuming as much of you. Especially if they watched the full 20 minutes of a video, that's a lot of exposure for yourself. So, yeah, some assemblance of scalability in your content is important because it has to be engaging and shareable to get that scalability out of it.
Adam Hale: All right. Well, talk to me about TikTok then. I'm personally not a user, but I know many people that just fall into the staring at their phone, watching people just play pranks on each other and running into stuff. It usually involves some physical humor.
Stephen Pope: The thing that everyone tells me is it's just for entertainment. There's kids dancing. But the important thing to think about is that it's an application where it’s drawing interested people. It's drawing people to be entertained. So, you have an audience regardless of what other people are creating that has nothing to do with what you have to offer. So, you have people that are attentively looking at this content. So, you have the opportunity to come in and deliver your message. Now, how should you be going about it? You know, some people are extroverted, some people are introverted, some people would dance. I've done a couple of little dances on there. But the thing is it's like you kind of have to find your groove. It doesn't happen just overnight. But you have people that are actively viewing this app and talking about it. With LinkedIn you don't necessarily have people saying, did you watch this content on LinkedIn. I've never heard anybody say that. But I do hear them saying that about TikTok. And where you have attention, that's where you have an opportunity. And because this is a new platform it's less crowded. So, you have an opportunity to come in and reclaim a bigger piece of the pie. You think about Summit CPA, you guys covered the market on SEO for virtual CFOs real early. Took you a little bit of time to do that, but now like, look what happened 15 years later. That has become the cornerstone of what you guys did because you just committed to it early. I think that's kind of the opportunity that you have on TikTok. So, just for an example, I did one video last week and got close to a hundred thousand views. It's got like 7,000 likes. 2,000 shares. So other people have shared it 2.000 times. And there was no dancing involved.
All: Laughing [in audible]
Jamie Nau: What was the content of the video? A hundred thousand people that sounds crazy to me that that many people would watch.
Stephen Pope: I shared the strategy. I did a quick message and said, here's the strategy that I'm using that my clients are using to generate revenue. I mentioned, you know, how much revenue people are generating from this. So, you know, I did get straight to the point. I literally just went to my whiteboard, and I mapped it out visually. So that has a couple of effects. Number one, I got right to the point. So, I'm not wasting your time, and you understand exactly what I'm about to show you. Then it also keeps your attention because I'm using the phone as a real camera going over things. So, there's some like kind of engaging filming going on. I kind of stumbled into that just by doing. When I first did my first couple of TikToks I was a little slower and didn't have any skills, but because I just committed to doing it, I got better. So, yeah, I just broke down how I do content, which is pretty much the same almost from a big picture point of view. And then what's cool is that I also take that same video and I publish it to LinkedIn and got another few thousand shares on that. And I'm also pushing those same videos to YouTube, which is driving a lot of new traffic to my YouTube. I've grown my YouTube channel by 50% using these TikTok videos. The reason why that's happening is because all these platforms want to copy TikTok. So, Instagram, YouTube, they're all coming out with their own like TikTok style of format. And so, people that are publishing videos on YouTube are getting extra attention because the algorithm is pushing people towards that. I've grown faster from those TikTok videos on YouTube than my podcasts videos, which I think id fascinating.
Jamie Nau: Yeah, it is interesting. I think the only times I've ever considered joining TikTok is when I've seen someone I follow on Instagram post a TikTok video. I can see the TikTok symbol in the corner. I haven't pulled the trigger yet.
Stephen Pope: I think the other interesting thing about TikTok, I say this about content creation in general, because everyone always wants to know what it is doing for my business. How much money is it making you? I think those are obviously great, great metrics, but the thing for me, I'm really learning how to communicate my value to people and I'm always doing it. So, I'm getting daily practice on how to communicate. I'm better on this podcast because I make videos every day. It's also because I have a podcast, but I'm living and breathing these things. So, learning how to get on camera and getting over the fear of that, I was afraid of video a year and a half ago. So, learning these skills and then learning how all these younger kids, how are they creating content and what can I absorb from them that I can deliver to a marketplace that has never seen it. So, if you want to stand out go to where the action is and bring it back to places that haven't seen the action yet. To go back to your original question, why do businesses waste a lot of money on marketing? Part of it is just because the marketing companies can’t deliver your message and your voice. It's also because they quit too early. You can’t just post a couple of blogs or videos and expect that to change everything. Otherwise, everyone would be doing that.
Adam Hale: I mean, that's a good point. I think whenever people think about immediate returns, I mean, obviously there's, you know, that kind of relates to pay-per-click stuff, you know, but whenever you're talking about just putting content out there. I can tell you, for us, there wasn’t an immediate reaction to it. It was more of just getting better at putting more and more content out there. You are just planting seeds, and then small stuff from a long time ago starts picking up. And to your point, it's probably a lot more immediate like whenever we were doing a lot with blogging and that kind of stuff. But with the video presentations, obviously that's going to get a little bit more immediate reaction. What I think is cool about that is you can take one of these platforms and then spread it across three or four and really get the bang for your time really.
Stephen Pope: For most firms I suggest instead of hiring an expensive firm, learn some of the basics for yourself so that when you do decide to outsource, which is fine, you're at least doing it skillfully and at a sustainable and affordable rate. Another way to think of content, you've all these different things you might be doing already. You might be posting videos on social media, or you might have a podcast. I think of the podcast as the fire. It's the main burner, and the social media is the kindling. That's bringing awareness to other bigger things that you're doing. So, when you start to think of it that way, and you're committed that payoff is there. I think CEO's and partners should be part-time marketers and really learn what that is. And, and to be honest, like the only skills you really need is to know where your customers are hanging out? What do they want to know? What do they need to know? And if you know those things then you could go out and hire people to help you execute on those things. If you can answer those questions on a basic level, you have the fundamentals of marketing and then you can manage it without having to literally do everything yourself.
Adam Hale: What about the rest of us that aren't as cool as you, that don't feel as comfortable. You are going to get a lot of that feeling in our community and industry. What do you suggest for those people?
Stephen Pope: In terms of video, you mean?
Adam Hale: Video specifically. A lot of what we're talking about is video that can be multipurposed across different platforms. So how would you recommend somebody doing that that maybe doesn't feel comfortable getting in front of the camera or the mic?
Stephen Pope: Yeah, you can always find somebody on your team. Think about long-term. You don't want to build a video marketing plan that's going to completely fall apart if that person decides to move on. I would advocate strongly that you just try it. Ask yourself what it is that's really keeping you from doing it. Some people say, I'm not good at video, or I don't know marketing. There are ways of figuring those things out. That's what I did. So, I would encourage you to figure it out. What's the barrier? Is it imposter syndrome? Is it fear? Do you not know how to articulate your ideas? Is it just, the equipment is overwhelming? Isolate what the problem is, and work that out with yourself and then let's get you on camera. Honestly, early on when I had committed that I was going to do it, I couldn't sleep for weeks thinking about having to do it. So, you can go from being terrified liked I was on, to being on video literally every single day.
Jamie Nau: So, you mentioned earlier being consistent. I know when I follow a podcast the releases episodes sporadically, I stop following. In being consistent, I think there's lots of different avenues. Like for a podcase, it doesn't need to be 30 minutes every single time. There are plenty of podcasts out there that are short. You can create your own thing. It doesn't have to take up your time. You can decide how much time you want it to take. There is no rule book.
Stephen Pope: Exactly. People have all these preconceived ideas. Just wipe the slate clean and be willing to commit and figure it out because that's the trick. Like when we talk about developing a marketing message that really resonates with people that's hard. You're not going to just sit in a boardroom like, this is the tagline that everyone's going to love, right? Only the people in that room like it and that's not your customers. So what is interesting is if you're producing content and you're out on social media interacting, you will hone your message because you'll get feedback from the marketplace. Like marketing is nothing more than a tool. It's a tool to hypothesize on what people are interested in. One other thing you mentioned, the paid ads that the person had tried. Those aren't going to work either until you know what people really want. If you want to be successful online, you're going to have to develop a message that resonates with people and gets them to click that button.
Jamie Nau: I think there's lots of different dynamics that go into it. Just to use us as an example and using this podcast as an example. Early on, we did quite a few podcasts with just two people. Whether it was with Adam and I, Jody and I, or just me and a guest. Those podcasts didn't go as well as when there were three people. So that's why we moved to that structure.
Stephen Pope: And you would have never figured that out unless you tried, right? I just revamped my podcast. I had gotten through like 30 episodes and I was looking back. There were a couple of interviews that didn't go that well. I refined everything. I started doing a few less episodes and started doing live shows. That's a whole other kind of conversation, but yeah, those are the insights that you want. When you're getting on video, it does kind of feel personal. People will give feedback.
Adam Hale: So, I want to ask you about this too. What is up with 2:00 PM for marketing people. I probably get, I don't know, Jamie, you can see if you do this, but I'm sure most of our listeners do. I probably get at least three emails a day, seven days a week that ask, how does Tuesday at 2:00 PM Eastern time work for a meeting? I think our approach to finding and generating new leads and clients might work for your company. Our solutions of blah, blah, blah.
Stephen Pope: The answer to that is everyone's trying to find a hack, right? Nobody wants to really do the work. They want to find the hack. So, you go online and search how do I write a cold email? And it says you should do this, and you should do that. And you should say this. You go down these rabbit holes where you're trying to find the latest hack. And quite frankly, I think hacks can work, but the hacks only work for the people that love hacks. But most of us, including myself, know that's not a thing that can sustain. The reason why those things happen is because there are templates out there that people are copying. Same thing happens with all the LinkedIn automated messaging. It's always the same thing. So, the best thing, if you really want your marketing to work is to ignore all that noise. Wipe the slate clean. Start fresh. Figure out how you're going to just incrementally build on something that works and give yourself enough time to make sure it's working. And, and if you stop, know why you're stopping. Understand why you should pivot. But most of these channels that we're talking about, like LinkedIn people are making a lot of money on LinkedIn. So, if it didn't work for you, it's because of something you did.
Adam Hale: I see some of these messages too, and I'm thinking to myself, I don't want you sending this email to my potential customers. But the point is, I guess, is that you don't have to fall into the trap of spending a ton of money doing a bunch of Google ad-words there's a lot of stuff out there that you can be doing. I mean, we did it out of necessity with the blogging and putting a lot of content out that way. So, I mean, that's still that traditional way of getting things out. But what you're suggesting and saying is you can be on four or five different social media platforms all at the same time using the exact same content. Kind of cutting it and repurposing it for everywhere, and it's not really going to cost you a lot of money. It might cost you a little bit of time. And then, like you said, if you don't feel comfortable, maybe somebody in your office can videotape you or something, you know, somebody that might be willing to do that for you.
Stephen Pope: Yeah, and you can reuse those same videos. You still want to start on one platform. Make sure you have things figured out.
Jamie Nau: That makes a lot of sense. So, we are right up against time. I want to give you guys a chance for a final thought. I appreciate you joining the show, Stephen. Let’s start with you.
Stephen Pope: My final thought is I think marketing as a skill is going to be your competitive advantage going forward. With the coronavirus, it made people think about the digital aspect of their business. I don't think people need to become expert marketers, but I think they should strive to be dangerous. To where they can have a consistent, sustainable, and skillfully executed marketing strategy that exists from now until they sell their business. And having those essential skills in-house so that you can skillfully outsource or hire the people that you need is going to just become pretty much the differentiator between businesses that scale and businesses that don't.
Jamie Nau: Great, Adam.
Adam Hale: Just building on that again, like we talked about. It doesn't cost a whole lot to do it. Everything that you're talking about there is done in iterations and you can do it yourself. I mean you know, that speaks to the cheap frugal accountant in me. As for starting you're really standing in your own way there. You can hone that skill pretty easy, and you don't have to have a ton of people doing different things for you. I do think it would be in your best interest to maybe even find a coach that kind of specializes in that. Someone to just kind of walk you through, because as an industry, we're not the most creative people in the world. Having somebody help us think through that stuff has made a lot of sense. For us that is.
Stephen Pope: Yeah, accountants do understand ROI. I think content marketing is all about that. You know, just little deposits and then you look back a couple of months later and you're like, oh. This is compounding on itself.
Adam Hale: For sure.
Jamie Nau: I think video gives you the opportunity to have that personal touch. I can’t tell you the number of interviews I go into with prospective clients where they walk in feeling like they already know me because they've seen me on video so many times. I think that's the personal touch everybody's looking for. Adam already mentioned, sales email can be annoying. Where the videos are like, oh, okay, I'll watch three minutes of this. They come in a lot more prepared, which is what I think any good salesperson is looking for.
Adam Hale: And they still show up after they've seen Jamie and heard him talk for a few minutes. So, they are solid people.
All: Laughing [in audible]
Jamie Nau: Awesome. Well, thanks guys. I think that was a great episode and thanks for all the information, Stephen.
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