About This Episode
In this episode, we spend some time talking about empathy in the client/agency relationship with Will Russell of Russell Marketing. Along the way he highlights how having empathy for his clients (mostly entrepreneurs launching their first product via a crowdfunding campaign) is essential to ensuring their buy-in to his agency’s marketing approach. And he’s had HUGE wins with that agency including launches such at:
- WeatherFlow TEMPEST (a cutting-edge weather station that raised $2,149,547 at launch)
- COFFEEJACK (a pocket-sized barista that raised $1,610,835 at launch)
By creating an environment that is very flexible, where if someone is feeling incredibly stressed out or anxious, they feel comfortable taking the afternoon off, taking the day off, taking a few days off, and there’s going to be no limit or consequence to that. They know they have ownership of their own time and kind of lifestyle and, and they’re gonna have time to step away if needed.
– Will Russell, Founder & CEO of Russell Marketing
This episode is for you if you are launching a brand or product on crowdfunding platforms like Indiegogo, Kickstarter, or if you want to know how to create a culture of empathy among your employees and integrate that empathy into your work process.
In This Episode, You Will Learn
- Using empathy can build stronger human relationships and be more persuasive.
- How to work with your clients to get them to buy into your work process.
- How to launch on platforms like IndieGoGo and Kickstarter with Russell Marketing’s Five Step High-Profit Launch System (Validation, Audience Acquisition, Audience Engagement, Audience Conversation, Scale & Optimize).
Connect With Will
- Visit the Russell Marketing website
- Visit the Russell Gives Foundation website
- Connect with Will on LinkedIn
- Follow Will on Twitter
- Never Split The Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It
- Crowdfunding Calculator – How to hit your goal
- Social Media Customer Service: Developing a process and plan
Thank you for listening!
If you’d like to know more about change-makers in digital marketing, celebrate their wins, and discover how they built a breaking ground career, subscribe, share and comment on the Digital Marketing Victories Podcast.
Katherine Ong 0:03
Hi there. So today we’re going to be joined by Will Russell. Will as a marketing expert who specializes in helping entrepreneurs, validate their ideas, execute successful launches. He’s got a company Russell marketing, which specializes in e-commerce launch marketing. They have this five step marketing launch system that they use, his company has actually helped hundreds of entrepreneurs and creators raise 10’s of millions of dollars. So, platforms like Indiegogo, and Kickstarter, which you’re probably familiar with. And particularly launched this Weatherflow Tempest, which is a cutting edge weather station, that raised 2 million at launch was amazing. And Coffee Jack, which is a pocket sized barista that raised 1.6 million at launch.
So, this episode is going to be perfect for you if you want to learn more about:
How empathy is important and how you can build stronger human relationships and be more persuasive by being empathetic with your client to your end customer.
How to work with your clients to get them to buy into your specific work process.
And then obviously a little bit about how you could launch on platforms like IndieGoGo and Kickstarter. So without further ado, here’s our interview with Wil Russell. Well, thanks for agreeing to be on our podcast.
Will Russell 1:44
Hi, Katherine, thank you very much for having me. It’s a pleasure.
Katherine Ong 1:48
Great. So, can you tell me a little bit more about yourself and your marketing background?
Will Russell 1:53
Certainly, so I’ve been marketing for about 10 years now. It’s an industry I moved into, straight off to college. And I ended up being involved in all sorts of different marketing acquisition channels. But it all seemed to focus on companies or events or products very early at the start of their journey, or their life or their lifespan. And so, through experience, I kind of realized, Oh, hey, all this ties together under a broader launch marketing, kind of category.
And around the time that I was thinking about quitting my job and doing my own thing, starting my own business, a colleague of mine, a friend of mine, and we waited for Indiegogo who introduced me to the crowdfunding space. And that just that married very nicely with the kind of marketing strategies that I’ve been doing up till then.
So that was about 2016, I got introduced to the crowdfunding market, and started to translate some of my experience and strategies into this product based launch space. And it’s really good, it’s really gone from there, it’s a great space to be in launch marketing, I feel that a lot of the, there’s a lot of mystery to the strategies required for most entrepreneurs. And it’s nice to be able to shed light and educate people at an early stage in the journey and really see products and businesses come to life and be a part of that.
And in the same vein, from a service business standpoint, it’s a nice little niche within the industry. So, there’s a million advertising agencies marketing agencies out there, but only maybe a dozen or so in my opinion, good ones in the launch marketing space. So, it’s a space that we’ve been able to really specialize in. And I’ve taken the early experiences ahead in marketing and developed it into this launch marketing system now that we’re able to support entrepreneurs with. So that’s my journey so far. And now we’re in 2022. And, things are going pretty well.
Katherine Ong 4:04
Awesome, can you tell me a little bit more about the agency in particular? So, like, what kind of I obviously introduced to launches that you did, but what kind of launches? Have you seen in general, do you work in particular industries that are kind of across the board? And what kind of clients do you work with? How big have they ever done any marketing before? You know, that kind of thing?
Will Russell 4:26
It’s really a spectrum. I think that we certainly have a kind of a checklist of what makes clients we think we can support to the most success or with the most success. For example, product based offers, such as, you know, physical tangible offers like cell phones, earbuds, whatever the case may be tend to perform better in our system than software or apps.
And in the same vein, I think that our system can work better with certain budget ranges. The AI system relies heavily on ads, which obviously requires investment. So there are certainly some checkboxes that we look to when working out who we can support and who we can support to lead to the most success.
But in the same, in the same vein, a lot of people at this early stage of their business don’t really know exactly what they’re looking for exactly what kind of help they need, or, you know, may not tick all the boxes that that make a client perfect from our standpoint, but at the same time, they have all sorts of other attributes they bring to the table, you know, we often work with clients who maybe have zero marketing experience, zero community to work with.
So far zero customer base, which woo challenges when preparing for a new launch, but they might have an incredible commitment and dedication to driving success. And that personality trait for entrepreneurs is very, very valuable, and one that we really like working with. So by and large, I would say product, physical, tangible products, maybe $100 to $340 range, tend to work best with our systems. So, we’re looking at things like technology, audio, apparel, home design, you know.
Katherine Ong 6:25
Yeah, I think that’s really interesting. You know, you talk a little bit about how you’ve got a process for these launches. And I know previously, we talked about how you think it’s math, not magic. So, you can tell us a little bit more about your, like the 411 of how you approach these launches, because I found that really fascinating in our previous conversation.
Will Russell 6:47
Yeah, that’s one way to go back to my earlier years, when I was kind of dabbling in all sorts of different marketing areas. When I launched my business, I really wanted to define, you see a lot about specialization versus generalization. And I didn’t want to be a marketing company that tries to do everything, because I know that we’re never going to be able to be the best at all these different things. But I felt strongly that if we focused on a really specific niche and type of marketing strategy, I feel we could become the best in that space. And so, the reason I chose the kind of system, the launch strategies that we use, which is predominantly a lot of advertising, a lot of conversion rate optimization, is because of the data. And that same, the data is there, it’s trackable, it’s you can understand it, there’s a lot to, to pull from, in comparison to perhaps PR, or organic social media marketing, which is a little harder to attribute and understand the data behind it. So that’s why we chose the strategies we chose, which as I said, a lot of paid ads and those kinds of funnels. And that also ties in nicely with the industry.
I mean, when we’re building our strategies, go-to market plans, we want to be able to plug in data into certain models, in order to estimate what’s going to happen. The other thing, one of the most important pieces of launch marketing, that’s different to normal regular marketing, is the ability to preemptively spot problems or challenges in the data that will affect you in the future. If you’re running ecommerce, just to a regular website on Shopify, you can kind of learn these mistakes as you go. And you can iterate and you can optimize. And you can make changes, When you’re launching, you really only have that one shot you launch. And that launch day, that moment of launch, you don’t get that back. And a lot of work goes into that launch. So, we can’t really afford not to have prime positioning. A prime audience will be in a perfect position ready to go. Therefore, we need to be able to predict and preemptively address any of the challenges we’re going to face. And in order to be able to do that. And to see that, we need to have the data. So, when we talk about math, not magic, that’s really all it is. We have models, there are some really good industry models for crowdfunding as to kind of your cost of acquisition or marketing budgets required in order to deliver certain results. And those are really useful models.
And then when we bring on clients, we integrate them into our own models as well. And ultimately, we’re just plugging numbers into spreadsheets in order to make assessments on what’s going to happen next.
So if we have a product, and they want to sell 5000 units, we want to be able to estimate within reason, how much that’s gonna cost them a marketing standpoint, how many prospective customers we’re going to need to make that happen, what sort of strategies we need to implement to it to ensure that success So it really is just mathematics, then there’s a piece of our launch collaboration.
At the end of step one step one of our systems is called validation. At the end of that step, we’re going to have collected real purchase intent data about a particular product offer. We’re going to plug it into our models. And we’re going to present that data to the client. And we’re going to look at it together and basically make a determination.
Do we think looking at these, this math model? These numbers good for you? That’s a question we can ask the client, you know, is this something you’re happy with? Does this look like a viable business model to you? And if everyone looks at it and likes the numbers, then we can all move forward, confident in the data and not kind of leaning too heavily on hope and luck for a launch, which many people do.
Or on the other side of the spectrum, we might do the math, and the client looks at the numbers and says, Well, this isn’t viable for me because my cost of goods are X dollars, and I need to have a bigger margin than what seems to be able to, and what these models seem to suggest a possible. So, when that’s the case, we’re able to either go back to the drawing board with the client and work on pricing models or business models so that they can readjust and end up in a better position.
Or maybe they need to go back to the drawing board a little bit with their product, and reduce the cost of their goods or something like that. But the whole purpose of that kind of math in that kind of model, especially early on, is the reduction of risk. Because if we can put it into a model, and we can use that model to identify future results, with reasonable accuracy, we can either show the client, hey, this is a slam dunk, feel good about investing more money here. Or we can tell the client, hey, this is going to be a difficult path. Maybe you don’t want to remodel your house to make it happen. You know, and really a lot of that math, and those models are focused on minimizing and reducing risk as much as possible. And making it all a very predictable, systematic process whereby there aren’t as few surprises as possible.
Katherine Ong 12:12
Or you just said remortgage their house? I mean, have you had people that would do that for their product? Yeah.
Will Russell 12:18
yeah, yeah, people. Yeah, people mean that the I guess the sunk cost fallacy comes to mind, but it’s not necessarily quite the comparison to make. But I guess people follow their passions. And, and rightly, they believe in their idea. Of course, they have to believe in their ideas. Otherwise, why are they pursuing it? But you can very easily get selective vision when something’s yours. And it’s your product and your idea and your baby and your, your project. And so, they make big bets. Yeah, we have clients mortgaging houses and taking out big loans.
And that was one of the reasons in fact, we had a campaign where a client said they did take out a second mortgage on their home. And the data we collected early on, showed that to be not a good idea. But at that time, we didn’t have these validation models in place. As a step we can review the whole process and the whole model, well in advance of launch. And examples like that. Were actually one of the reasons why we introduced this pause after this validation phase, where we all look at the data together, because a lot of these campaigners, you know, to do a crowdfunding launch or a product launch these days can be very expensive. And it’s astonishing how many people pursue that path and invest that money, and time and energy and emotion without actually validating and getting real purchase data about the idea that they want to launch.
So our responsibility, I think, is not only to help them launch, but successfully, but also to raise those red flags if we spot them, and then allow the client to save, or at least give them the opportunity and the option to step away and save a lot of time and money and investment pursuing an idea that may not succeed. Sometimes they listen to us, and sometimes they don’t.
Katherine Ong 14:20
Yeah, it really strikes me that your clients potentially have a higher level of emotional state than a lot of other clients, other marketing agencies could have that are not in the launch space. You know, like, you know, like, I work with big, you know, association type clients where, yeah, their job is to manage the website, but I wouldn’t say they have that much emotion. Right. So, I mean, what kind of processes have you guys put in place to understand that level of emotion and because it would, I would assume it would, you know, create it or would impact their decision making process. Right? So yeah. So, what do you do to understand the emotions that they have? And do you have different processes to get them to listen to you that you might not feel like you’d have to do if it wasn’t like a launch thing like that?
Will Russell 15:19
Yes, I mean, I think that there are two sides to handle with regards to the amount of emotion that people have. One is their emotion. But also, the other is, our emotions. And I think that when we have new team members joining, for example, it can be very, I guess, anxious. anxiety inducing might be the way of saying it. But it can be a surprise to people how passionate the communications we receive from clients can be, and just the sheer level of urgency around a lot of the work.
So from a client standpoint, I think the, you know, when I was preparing for this, for this podcast, I was trying to come up with some things that were really unique, but a lot of when I thought about our processes and thought about what we have in place to deal with these kinds of high anxiety levels. A lot of it boils down to a common commonly heard advice, and that is that people want to be heard, they want to be respected, they want to be recognized.
And so, whenever we’re dealing with clients who are stressed out, you know, let’s say a launch day doesn’t, doesn’t achieve the success they wanted to achieve, they are going to be freaking out. Most likely. Our job primarily is to recognize that and understand that and hear and make sure that they know that we know how they’re feeling. Because I think that the last thing they want to do is be dismissed or feel like they’re not important. And we want to make sure number one that that’s crystal clear to make sure that happens.
We are very, very flexible, especially during certain time periods over launch in our accessibility. And during key launch periods, we will be speaking to clients if they need to, or want to on weekends, late at night, urgently, whatever the case may be, we don’t like that all the time.
But during those key periods, we will be because even though it’s difficult for us from a process or scalability standpoint, it means a lot, in my opinion, to the client that they’re being heard. And we’re not just pushing them away, and we are doing everything we can or appear to be doing everything we can to help them move forward. So, from that standpoint, I do think it’s just listening, you know, spending a lot of time listening, hearing, respecting, recognizing everything that’s being said, I would say that, that becomes challenging.
When a client has expectations that don’t match what’s happening, usually wrongly, in my opinion, they have these expectations, they see big launch campaigns and think that that will happen to them. And those are, you know, anomalous, those are rare.
So, when they see something that’s not quite what they expected, or then they will start criticizing or questioning what we’re doing. And that can be tough, because, you know, they’re driven by this passion and this belief that they really want to be successful. And when we also have confidence in our system, we can’t simply say no, you know, because then you’re not hearing, you’re not listening, you’re not engaging with someone, you’re just dismissing them.
So, the way we really get them to buy into our processes, even in times of trouble, is we try and paint similar pictures that they can align with other campaigns. So, we’ve done a lot of campaigns. And so, any challenge we’ve come across, we can probably point to a previous example of and share with a new client. What happened, you know, what, what, what we did, what we didn’t do, what worked, what didn’t work in that particular example. Often, we’re going to try and use an example that that client might aspire to. Maybe it’s a similar industry, maybe it’s an entrepreneur, they respect our company, they’ve heard of something like that. And we use that as a use case. So rather than us looking like it’s us kind of determining and dictating what needs to happen. We’re using other real life examples to follow in their path, which is our system, but it’s just portraying our system through a third party through another campaign through another launch. That doesn’t feel as much like when dictating something and
I’d also there’s a really good book actually, that came to mind. When I was thinking about this, it’s called Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss. And essentially, he’s a negotiator. And it’s actually more of a sales based book. But the way he talks about things, is exactly what we spoke about Katherine, when we when we last, when we last chatted about persuasion, emotional understanding, getting people to buy in, that’s just, you know, that’s selling.
The way this chap, Chris Voss talks a lot about doing this and persuading people or convincing people when in his book is, you want them to be the ones making the decision or leading them to the decisions, but they’re the ones making the decisions, or they at least feel like they have control and ownership and agency over the process.
And so when a good example of that is asking, you know, using the question how, and if a client wants a certain result, or someone wants to get to a certain destination, then probing them with how questions tends to allow you to maneuver them in the right direction, you to end up with a decision that you would have said in the first place, but they’ve actually been the one to come to it, because they’ve seen through your process through the kind of flow of conversation that that is the right decision to come to. And it is just that they’ve come to it rather than we’ve come to it.
So, I think, all that’s to say, whether it’s with a client, and dealing with the anxiety that they might have, or whether it’s even with our team members who also get anxious and upset and disappointed when things don’t go well. The main thing points back to people being as I said, at the start, people want to be heard and recognized. And people want to have their own agency, their own opinions, and they want to be listened to. And so, a lot of those stressful periods, those anxiety ridden days where things aren’t quite going right, or dealt with and solved by listening and being inclined and respectful.
I guess it’s kind of like marriage, isn’t it, where if there’s a problem with the husband or wife, you recognize you’re not working against each other, you’re working together against the problem. And so I think that’s kind of a similar way as to how we try and look to solve problems with clients in this space, and get them to buy in. It’s that, you know, we’re together, we’re a team, we’re not opponents. We’re not working against each other, we’re all working towards the same goal and we have faith in each other that we’re going to, we’re going to get there and listen to each other.
Katherine Ong 22:40
So, it just kind of strikes me that some of the heightened emotion that you have to deal with would be similar to some of the instances in social media customer service. So, thinking back to when I helped the New York Obamacare Exchange launch. You’ve got all these people on social media, they’re frankly ticked off that the websites are down, they’re desperate to sell health insurance, emotions are high. And I think to counteract that, and I saw on our staff, the stress level of dealing with those types of interactions.
And I’m just kind of wondering if you have thought about or put in place, some of the ways to counteract that?
So, on my side, we had short shifts, so that you could get a break. I think everybody was on the handle for four hours total.
And then we had protocols for when things got gnarly, so you could escalate. We had standard language you could use for common questions we saw come in, so that way everybody’s responding the same. It was important because of the organization we were working for.
But do you have any of those things in place for your team to sort of help them deal with the stress? It’s hard being like a recipient of that kind of emotion regularly?
Will Russell 23:51
Yeah, I’m thinking, is there anything I’ve introduced as a direct consequence, to combat that? I don’t know if there’s anything immediately that jumps out or whatever.
But I do think that the approach of listening and empathy and understanding and recognizing values or characteristics that we have in all sorts of areas and the businesses is kind of built on. So when we talk about you know, for example, we have a very flexible remote work whenever you want however you want type policy, unlimited time off, no questions. So, I think by creating an environment that is very flexible, where if someone is feeling incredibly stressed out or anxious, they feel comfortable taking the afternoon off, taking the day off, taking a few days off, and there’s going to be no limit or consequence to that. They know they have ownership of their own time and kind of lifestyle and, and they’re gonna have time to step away if needed.
In the same vein, there’s a lot of support from the rest of the team. So I feel that early on, spin up new employees coming in certain positions, it can be very stressful, just like an account management position can be very stressful for the when you’re doing it for the first time in this industry, and we have things in place to make sure that more senior team members are there to support and recognize and help solve some of these problems as they come in. Because, you might have one client, but the anxiety triggers are the same for every single client.
So, we do have a lot of processes in place, I think, just as a company that allows, gives a bit more breathing room or bandwidth or freedom or kind of empathy to, to someone in that kind of position.
In terms of you mentioned, question and answers. That’s something we have for our clients. So, in the same vein, as us dealing with stressed out clients, you talk about people being the end consumer being stressed out, like with the launch of Obamacare, for example. I mean, we see exactly that when we launch products, you know, let’s say, there’s a bug and one of the browsers they’re trying to use to purchase a product, which has nothing to do with us or nothing, no, you know, but they’re stressed out, and they’re blaming us and this and that, and the other and then by then, I mean, the consumer, maybe there’s a discount code that didn’t work, because they missed out on it, or something like that, or shipping to that country. There’s something that is outside of our control, but people are annoyed about it. Again, it’s the same things over and over again. So, we do have a lot of resources for our clients to deal with exactly that. And like, like you mentioned, FAQ type documents, so the responses are consistent.
And we say kill them with kindness. Generally, when we’re talking about dealing with online strangers, however, mean those people can be, just kill them with kindness, and just be very, very kind all the time.
And then, in terms of, you know, we talked about, you talked about shorter, shorter shifts, that brought to mind something we have. We have a process that, again, we share with all of our clients, which really identifies the types of support and the types of roles that would allow this community to be dealt with in the best possible way.
So, for example, during a pre-launch phase, there’s maybe four or five kinds of roles, quote, unquote, that we will recommend the client takes on and with someone on their team, each having a different role that requires different attributes and different levels of communication. And so we really lay that out, so that we can hopefully allow the client to match their team with each role in the best possible way to make sure that all of that communication, all of that potential urgency of stressful as you know, some people are just better at customer service than others, some people are better at being in front of a camera than others. And so, there’s different roles that we will categorize and introduce to the client for them to kind of mix and match their team to best fit.
So I think overall as an internal team, that the team in general is set up and the business is set up frankly, from what I set up in the first place to minimize my stress. So that just is exuded throughout the rest of the team in the process. We really do as a team try and focus on life rather than, you know, work and, and focus on having our own lives and living our own lives and doing what we want to do with our time outside of work, remote work whenever and wherever type philosophy. So, I think that a lot of that foundational work helps people deal with some of the more difficult situations that we handle, with clients.
But even with all that, some people did it just a very, it can be a very overwhelming space to be in and whether it’s my company, which alternative reality is very low. Most of the team now have been with us for years. But when we look at other agencies, or even the platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo, you see a lot of turnover because you’re constantly dealing with people who are for them, this is the most important time of their life. And therefore, their anxiety levels match that urgency. And it can be just like you talked about and you know, it can be to get a habit over and over and over again. It can be very exhausting. And so, making sure we have enough time to sit back, relax, recuperate, take our mind off of work and focus on other things is super important.
Katherine Ong 30:01
Have you noticed any change in behavior since you started your company before the pandemic? I mean, I’ve read the news about how people’s anxiety in general has gotten bad over the pandemic. Are you seeing some of that?
Will Russell 30:19
I don’t know if I could directly point to examples of that. Neither. But I think the biggest, the biggest challenges the pandemic has caused, companies like us, is just indecision. Maybe that’s tied into anxiety, but a lot of people’s experiences in the last couple of years. And a lot of the challenges that are still co-occurring, such as supply chain issues, manufacturing issues, people were feeling less confident about taking risks. Or feeling like maybe now isn’t the right time to be pursuing something or the unpredictability of shipping costs make it very hard for new entrepreneurs to really estimate how much something could be to create and deliver. So maybe that’s partly anxiety.
But that’s mostly what we’ve seen, we’ve seen a lot of people have a really hard time, a lot of our clients have a really hard time making real decisions about the future, especially around financial costs, because it’s just so unpredictable right now. And, because of that, they’re less likely to commit to launching, less likely to be signing contracts with launch agencies, and so on and so forth.
Katherine Ong 31:29
That makes sense. So switching gears just a little bit, realize that you have more experience than other agencies, I believe, in trying to help a client figure out who their target audience is. You do it again, and again, and again. I’m assuming.
How many clients come to you understanding accurately who their target audience is? What is your process for helping them figure out who their target audiences are? And how do you deal with it when there’s a you know, cognitive dissonance between who they thought they were marketing to and who their real audiences are?
Will Russell 32:08
I think a lot of that comes down to communication, in the first place — communication. I feel like most problems are solved with a frank and transparent and honest conversation oftentimes, so.
But I would say most clients come to us with a fairly good understanding or fake good estimation of who they’re looking to target. Very rarely do we get people coming to us saying something like our product for everyone, you know, we people don’t think like that, generally, they’ve been able to have a clear understanding or a clear thought process as to how they want to position this launch and who they want to position it to.
Now, there might be dissonance, because we’re going to click away information from them right at the start in our onboarding surveys and onboarding process. And they’re going to tell us what they think about everything, their audiences, their positioning, and so on, then we’re going to go into our research. And we’re going to do our own research, looking at competitor brands, looking into some of our previous campaigns, looking at things like Amazon reviews, and understanding how people are talking about similar products, who those people are. And we’re going to then present our kind of strategy or plan of action based on our research.
And sometimes there’s a close relationship, positive relationship between their assumptions and our research, and sometimes there’s not. So, we’re always gonna be presenting our plans. And if it’s contradictory to what they think we’re what they propose, we’re going to be pretty clear about that.
Now, a lot of it comes down to opinion, until we have actual data to prove things. So, whenever there’s a big dissonance about something, I mean, it’s very hard to convince someone without showing them real data. And even when we show them real data, it can still be very hard for someone to believe in something.
For example, where we have these pre-launch pages where we position the product. And we don’t like putting the price point on, at least not very clearly, because consumers get turned away by price without even giving the product a chance. And we want them to give the product a chance. And then we can introduce the price point so that even if they don’t like the price point, maybe they’ve seen things that keep them giving them an open mind already about the product. And maybe they can sit on the fence for a little bit, rather than just dismiss the product.
But a lot of clients really want to show the price. Why are we hiding the price? And that makes a massive difference to the conversion rate on that landing page, which can make a massive difference to the models that we’re going to build and how many people are going to get into the community and so on.
What we can always say in that example — is let’s test it. Let’s collect the data. You have this idea, we have this idea . Let’s run a test and see what the data comes back saying. And that’s usually the path we’re going to take if there’s big dissonance because if the client believes strongly in their opinion, and we believe strongly in ours. Then the only way we can decide it is by collecting that data.
So, we’ll collect data, we’ll run a test. And we’ll present that data sometimes even when the data shows us to be right in a certain use case, or certain situation declines still, like the pricing, clients still say, “Well, I still want the pricing on that landing page.”
So sometimes, even the data doesn’t win us the conversation or let the strategy allow the strategy to follow exactly how we want it to. But our answer to anything like that, any sort of disagreement in what should happen is data, we just follow the data. And sometimes the data shows the clients are right. And that’s a learning process for us. But more often than not, the data shows that we’re right. And most clients, not all, but most will also agree to follow the data. And so that’s kind of our let’s test, it is kind of our answer to any sort of disagreement on hypotheses.
Katherine Ong 36:15
Are you testing messaging as well, like the value of the product, the reason why people should buy the product, that kind of stuff?
Will Russell 36:23
Absolutely. The main thing we want to test is a product offer, in my opinion, that’s going to be the deal breaker for a successful launch. Obviously, if you’re targeting the wrong country, then you’re not going to get any sales.
But generally speaking, I think the most important piece of the puzzle we need to determine early on is not just the people like the idea of this solution, obviously someone comes up with a product idea, it’s generally a solution to a problem. It’s not just consumers like this solution, but it’s our consumers willing to pay the price for this solution that you as the entrepreneur want to charge. That’s the offer.
And along with that comes the messaging angles. If it’s a higher price point product, we’re likely to be pushing hard on a messaging angle about it being the premium nature of the product, and the durability or the materials or the lifetime warranty, or whatever it is.
If, let’s say it is an expensive product, but I don’t want to consider themselves super premium, maybe we’re looking at a unique selling proposition or focusing on an angle around practicalities or the portability of a product, stuff like that. So usually, during that early stage, we’re going to maybe focus on three or four key different messaging angles and we’re going to test them against each other and see which one comes out on top. And it’s important to know, there’s not just one way, there’s not one messaging angle, necessarily, there’s going to be the only successful path for a particular offer, not just one price point or just one business model.
But when we, especially when we’re launching, we’re really looking for, which is going to be the best performer because when we launch on, let’s say crowdfunding or Kickstarter, you have one campaign page, you have one headline, one tagline, one video, one hero image. And even if a product can be sold with three or four different messaging angles, there isn’t space for three or four different messaging. And so, we need to focus on a primary angle and a primary unique selling proposition.
And so, like I say, during that early validation testing period, we’re going to look to test some of them against each other, and identify which messaging angle which product offers, which price point, do we see the best response. And again, we talk about modules and math. We can plug, let’s say, 2% of people convert at 199 price point, whereas 1.6% of people converted at a $299 price point. We can rule that out and work out which price point is more profitable for the client. And so, we build from that. And we can do that same with messaging with audiences and so on.
Katherine Ong 39:03
Rely a lot on this because it sounds like all that testing is with paid advertising. Yes. You’re not doing focus groups with folks.
Will Russell 39:12
No, paid advertising is the main thrust of new traffic. Yes.
Katherine Ong 39:19
Yeah. Well, and then validating, validating what you were talking about that all sounds to me like a B testing with some paid advertising.
Will Russell 39:27
Yeah, it is. It’s paid advertising funnels that we’re using, I mean, with that we do try and collect both qualitative and quantitative data. So most of the data we’re going to look at is going to come from the advertising funnels, and it’s just going to be kind of that raw data we’re looking at.
However, while we don’t do focus groups, per se, there are components of what we do where we’re collecting more verbal feedback through surveys through livestream Q&A sessions with us. So there is a human behind some of our some of our kind of test data.
And it’s not always you know, the data doesn’t always tell the whole story, we do think there’s an important piece of it, where we need to get people’s feedback and actually see language and hear from people as to how they’re talking about something. So, there is a bit of both in there. But you’re writing that if someone’s going to work with us, or someone’s going to take on the kind of strategies that we work with paid advertising is certainly going to be a big piece of the puzzle.
Katherine Ong 40:33
So, this has been utterly fascinating. Thank you for taking the time, I’ve got a couple standard questions that I asked everyone on the podcast. So as a marketer, obviously, we’re thinking about what makes our audience tick. Have you had any recent aha moments about the target audience of any of your clients? Did anything surprise you?
Will Russell 40:54
Yes, actually, that’s a, that’s a, that’s a great question that we do have a client right now. Who wants to launch, and has developed a kind of a laptop, laptop projector lock and we live in a very remote world nowadays, people work away from the office. And they’ve created a great device that allows you to basically secure your laptop in public places better than the kind of Kensington locks, or the other ones that exist out there. Now, it’s a really obvious and needed solution. In this remote world, I think the statistic they have is a laptop gets stolen every 52 seconds or something like that. So, it’s a very needed solution.
However, interestingly, when we’re looking at who feels the pain point of this the most, and therefore, who might be the best market is actually, it’s not really the consumer that seems to be bearing the pain for a lot, or at least gaining the benefit of this kind of solution. Yes, consumers obviously don’t want to have their laptop stolen. However, perhaps other ways of dealing with that, such as putting a laptop in your bag while you go and get a coffee or something isn’t the end of the world.
However, what we have seen is that, from a B2B standpoint, these kinds of products and these kinds of solutions can be a phenomenal purchase for convenience, because it can help things like reducing their insurance costs, by having that kind of level of security for their employees. And so, there’s a real pain point there, and a really obvious winning scenario for these businesses that, hey, you buy X of these products, and you can reduce your insurance premiums for Office safety, or whatever the case may be by y percent.
That’s a really strong messaging angle, and lesson as to who the target audience might be long term for that product. So that was a, that’s just a really interesting one where the client thinks, Okay, this is B2C, this is a really great product for everyone.
And I think it is, but interestingly, it seems like following the validation period, the actual kind of sweet spot or pain point that might be the most scalable, is actually that B2B path and looking at those decision makers and companies purchasing the products on behalf of employees.
Katherine Ong 43:27
That’s fascinating. Okay, so what we asked everybody, what kind of win or resource Do you want to share with our audience today?
Will Russell 43:38
I just jumped back, I guess, to the book I mentioned earlier, because I think it’s a wonderful book. And as a marketer, I think anyone can benefit from it. But I think from a marketing standpoint, especially benefiting from persuasion around how to speak to people around empathy. So that is, I would highly recommend that if you haven’t read it, check out Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss, because that’s been one of the best books I’ve read in recent times to help me in all sorts of areas.
Katherine Ong 44:09
Great. And then also for our listeners, our last episode was actually with somebody who talked about Ben Bressingon. So, if you’re interested in upping your sales game, and adding that to your marketing, check out the last episode.
So how can people learn more about you?
Will Russell 44:29
Sure, you go to our website, our website, russellmarketing.co. That’s where you will learn more about what we do and how we help. It’s also a nonprofit arm of the business where we divest profits to early stage 501 C 3 so that would be RussellGives.org if you want to check out a bit about that. Of course you can find me or us on any social media platform and DM or contact us there. If you’d like to sell, we’re very responsive across all sorts of channels. But the main point of reference would be, of course, the website, RussellMarketing.co.
Katherine Ong 45:09
Great. This has been fabulous. Thank you for taking the time and sharing all these tips with our audience today.
Will Russell 45:14
Yeah, well, thank you very much for having me.