By: Rob Drummond
The 30 Second Summary
I’m back now. It may not be apparent that I ever went away, but I did…
It’s been a while since we created any new Maze Mastery courses. The business has drifted for a while. At the start of February I completely paused our membership programme. The value proposition had become unclear, and I needed some space to think.
Do you ever find you have to take a sabbatical from your work to gain perspective on it? 2020 so far has been one of those times. It’s hard to see the hamster wheel when you’re busy running in it!
So I’ve taken some time out. I’ve taken advice on the business. I’ve spoken to friends and mentors. I’ve done some thinking.
The end result? I’m back on board. Jonathan is on board. But we’re making some small changes. Simplifying things.
This post explains the story to date, the plan going forward, and the benefit to you. It’s scattered with marketing insights and life lessons! If you want to:
- Develop your remarketing skills
- Develop your copywriting and storytelling skills
- Nurture customers across multiple media
The Story So Far
I’m what you might call an ‘accidental entrepreneur’. I got into business by accident. I didn’t like my job any more, and the internet makes it possible to start a business with no money whatsoever.
The year was 2012. I had worked in marketing for all of my professional life, initially for a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software company. Those early years were an education. At the CRM company we did almost everything in-house… created direct mail, stuffed the envelopes, tracked the responses, managed the website, ran Google Ads, took a stab at SEO…
Working for a CRM company meant everything we did revolved around the CRM system. Customer data was paramount. Integration – getting customer into the system accurately – was practically an obsession.
I’ve reflected since that the importance of customer data has only grown over time. Media and attention has fragmented. Lead costs have gone up. Click prices have gone up, at a faster rate even than train tickets or childcare fees! But I am getting ahead of myself…
I left the CRM company, and got into business initially as a Google Ads consultant. I went to networking meetings and Google Ads was what people wanted help with. Google was making it exceptionally easy to waste tremendous volumes of cash. You could even phone them up, and a Google rep would make things even worse! (Sound familiar??)
I had followed Perry Marshall’s work for a while. If you’ve not heard of Perry, Google him. And grab a copy of his book – http://robsentme.com/perry.
Though Perry’s work (and many others: Ken McCarthy, David Rothwell, Ben Hunt all come to mind) I discovered there was a difference between what Google wanted you to know, and what you really needed to know.
(Oh, how little things have changed!)
I learnt most of the key lessons the hard way. For instance, I learnt that a ‘conversion’ often doesn’t mean much.
I remember losing a Google Ads client who was generating conversions well within his cost per conversion target. One day he admitted that none of the leads had converted into deals, so he needed to end the project. “I bet he didn’t even bother calling them,” I fumed to myself.
A key fact became apparent: the purpose of running ads on any platform is to increase the size of your email list. It’s nice if you can do that at an up-front profit, because list growth is then essentially free. But email list growth is the goal.
By 2014 I needed to make a change. I needed more control over the full marketing and sales process. I stumbled across a guy called Jermaine Griggs, who explained how he automated his marketing and sales follow-up systems using Infusionsoft. In my head I was like, this is the missing ingredient!
I made an emotional decision that day to ditch my previous email system AWeber, and jump into Infusionsoft with both feet. I took on a couple of Infusionsoft-related projects, and did the certification to become an Infusionsoft Certified Partner.
So suddenly I had a business that involved managing Google Ads, selling Infusionsoft, implementing Infusionsoft campaigns, building out sales funnel automation, writing emails, telling stories, creating and running Facebook ads, creating websites and landing pages, for anyone with a few pennies to spend.
All of which was too much. Too general an offer. Too many strands of expertise. I suffer from the affliction of being quite good at a lot of these things, without being an out-and-out anything.
I’m not an out-an-out ads manager (although that currently is what I’m mostly paid for). I’m not an out-and-out copywriter, although I love to write. I’m not an out-and-out marketing automation person, although I’m good at it. I’m not an out-and-out storyteller.
I’ve tried over recent years to focus down on particular strands of my work. This had led to a spew of domain names, much to the frustration of my mentors. Rjdrummond.com turned into rear-end-ppc.com (tagline: PPC For Back End Profits!)
Which turned into confusionclinic.com (really a play on ‘Confusionsoft’, which I somehow got past the Infusionsoft brand police). Which turned into truestoryselling.com. Which turned into magneticexpertise.com. Which finally has turned into mazemastery.com!
It’s like a snail-trail of domain-name carnage. I sometimes call it ‘Rob’s Grand Tour of Marketing’.
The motive behind all these changes has always been to gain traction with one particular thing – to be known for something more specific. Every time I try to do that, I rebel against my own decisions. My work is more holistic than that. More multi-disciplinary. I’ve never been able to drop any core aspect of my work, whether that’s Google Ads, copywriting, storytelling or marketing automation.
These things interlock – and tie together. More today than ever before. To run Google Ads profitably you need some insight into storytelling and marketing automation. And vice versa. It isn’t enough to solve one part of the puzzle.
I had known Jonathan Wilson for a few years. Jonathan was active in Perry Marshall’s forum, and also ran a Google Ads agency. He specialised in a lot of the work I didn’t want to do any more. Things like the detailed aspects of campaign planning, conversion tracking, remarketing setup.
(That’s an insight actually – every agency specialises in different things, even if they claim to be ‘full service’. There is a growing space for agency specialisation and collaboration…)
We’re a long way apart geographically, but not in perspective. For a while I had sent Jonathan little messages, saying “pssst… we should create something together… it could be really great!”
Eventually, at the end of 2018, my nagging and nudging paid off. Jonathan is a busy guy, with a large young family. It took a while for the planets to properly align. We initially launched the Maze Marketing Podcast together.
The idea of ‘the maze’ comes from Perry Marshall. It’s the closest framework I’ve ever seen that summarises all of my work. (We actually asked Perry’s permission to name the podcast after his framework).
The key idea behind the maze is to follow up with potential customers across multiple media, where customers with the highest amounts of recency, frequency and money receive more attention.
How recently somebody engaged with your stuff is the biggest indicator of future purchase behaviour. How often is the second biggest. How much they’ve spent (in time or money) is the third.
This principle holds true across all walks of life. The most likely person to call you next is the person who called you last, followed by the person who calls you most often, followed by the person who spends the most time on the phone with you overall.
The most likely person to walk in a pub is the person who just walked out, followed by the person who frequents the most often, followed by the person who spends the most time in the pub overall.
RFM applies to database marketing too. You can organise and prioritise all your marketing efforts by RFM. Remarketing and marketing automation make this possible for even the smallest business.
The Maze Marketing Podcast started as a way to get knowledge out of our heads about this. We both have a lot of experience getting this right and wrong, across a wide range of industries.
Since the early days of the podcast we’ve switched to more of an interview format, inviting on guests from different fields. We’re now building a holistic base of maze-building knowledge. Most of the episodes talk about fundamentals rather than specifics, so won’t go out of date.
(If you haven’t yet dug into the podcast, you really should! www.mazemarketingpodcast.com)
In summer 2019 we took content from the podcast and converted it into the first edition of our Maze Remarketing book. We also ran a 5-week online remarketing training, which now forms the basis of our Remarketing Basecamp course.
What I’ve Realised…
When I looked back on what we’ve done, I realised a few things:
- The Maze is here to stay. Like it or not, you need to nurture your highest value customers across multiple media. Paid ads is the most reliable way to do that.
- Remarketing is (by far) the safest way to run ads on Facebook, Google Display and LinkedIn. And to a lesser extent on YouTube. Generating sales from cold traffic on these networks is extremely difficult.
- While email open rates have undoubtedly fallen, email is your best source of ‘last click’ conversions. The best way to get potential customers over the line.
- You need to serve your email list, not burn it. You need to tell stories and build trust.
- Tool and media fragmentation will be ongoing. (I recently heard Perry Marshall talk about Reddit ads… Reddit ads!) You’re more likely to be running ads across multiple platforms. The Maze is a framework you can use to prioritise and organise your efforts.
- You’re more likely to use a stack of connected marketing tools than an ‘all in one’ CRM system. (You might even have two CRM systems: one for marketing, and one for sales.)
- You can’t specialise in all of this. Most of the people in my audience self identify as primarily content people (you like writing emails, ads, blog posts etc), or systems specialists (you’re an expert in the mechanics of marketing automation, Google Ads, Facebook Ads, or some other platform).
- By and large, content people and systems specialists aren’t talking to each other, when in fact they desperately need each other’s support.
- There’s no shared space for these two groups to connect. No shared framework, understanding, values and language.
- The majority of business owners in the world desperately need these two groups of people – and need them to collaborate more!
Another insight from Perry: a wildly successful 21st Century business strategy is to build tribes of two separate groups who need each other, and connect the two with technology. Think of Uber, bridging the gap between drivers and riders.
Maze Mastery now exists to provide this connection between content people and systems specialists. To provide a foundational understanding of core principles. To provide a shared language and understanding. To build a community where people can collaborate.
This isn’t going to happen overnight, because it’s a big job! But that’s what we’re doing here. That’s the work and the direction.
I’m back on board with delivering and building this. Jonathan is on board. I’m hoping you’ll want to be on board too.
Over time there will be different levels of involvement, at varying price points. But for now we’re simplifying things, and starting with what we can deliver at a valuable but low-level membership.
On 26th March 2020, we’re relaunching our Maze Insider membership group. Each month we’ll deliver a member’s only webinar, where Jonathan and I riff on a pay per click or copywriting topic (alternating each month between technical and content topics).
Unlike previous trainings we’ve done, each webinar will be informal and held on Zoom. We’ll be offering hot seat time, where we’ll trouble shoot specific issues you’re struggling with. You can apply for a hot seat in advance, or raise your hand on the call if demand is low. We’ll answer questions that have come up in the Maze Insider community. We’ll riff on trends and things we see happening in the marketplace.
Each month in the print newsletter I’ll write up my notes and summary from the last monthly webinar. If you’re too busy for an hour-long webinar, you can skim the notes and get 80% of the value.
So put the date in your diary: 26th March. If you can’t join us live on the webinar, you’ll get a recording. And a print newsletter two weeks afterwards.
If you’re an existing annual customer, you’ll get access by default. If you’re a paused customer, we’ll be sending out a special invite in the next few days. If you’re neither of these, we’ll be making an special offer to join us in this initial enrolment – details to follow shortly.
Who Is Maze Insider Membership For?
If you’re a marketing professional, you’re finding that:
- Your expertise is commoditised. Thousands of people offer what you do (even if they aren’t as good as you).
- Client engagements tend to fizzle out after a few months, in part because you can only solve part of the client’s problem.
- Writing good ads or emails is a bottleneck. You rely too heavily on content provided by a client, which nearly always sucks.
- You’re overwhelmed by the more technical aspects of pay per click or marketing automation. The Facebook Ads interface is an ongoing (and deeply frustrating) mystery.
- You know you could help your clients do more with remarketing… but you don’t know where to start.
- You’re spending too much time doing work that doesn’t play to your strengths.
- Good long-term clients are hard to come by, hard to sell to, and often don’t see why they should pay your fees.
- You’re ready to work, and ready to learn. You’re not looking for quick fixes.
If you’re a business owner:
- You’re a part-time marketer. You’re engaged with the marketing aspect of your business. You don’t believe you can just outsource it.
- You like to be in control of your systems and message.
- You’re not doing much remarketing.
- You’ve got an email list, but you’re not emailing as often as you should.
- You want to keep things in-house, or perhaps build an in-house team of specialists.
P.S. Is This REALLY for you?
I’ve noticed over the years that our best customers share certain core values…
- You like to study fundamentals rather than fads
- You’ve at some point at least attempted to study copywriting
- You’ve bought multiple Google Ads books and courses
- You’re a voracious reader – at least when time allows
- You believe you can do anything yourself, if you really want. You also know you don’t have time.
- You value flexibility – the ability to work on your own terms from anywhere.
- You value collaboration. You proactively build your network, even if (like me) you aren’t a natural networker.
- You’re interested in developing a holistic, multi-channel approach.
- You question so-called ‘best practice’. You do things that seem against the grain to other people.
- You can generate leads for other people, but struggle to do so for yourself.
- You’re modest about what you don’t know, and quietly confident about what you do. Deep down you know you’re exceptionally valuable.
Still reading? Good. Details to follow.