Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Mastering Email Deliverability: The Crucial Changes You Must Make in 2024

Mastering Email Deliverability: The Crucial Changes You Must Make in 2024 written by Tosin Jerugba read more at Duct Tape Marketing

The Duct Tape Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch

In this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I interviewed JT Beckham, a senior manager of deliverability at ActiveCampaign, leading the Deliverability team and collaborating with other teams across the organization. Prior to his current role, J.T. worked at Acoustic as a Global Manager, focusing on deliverability services and overseeing complex technical implementations. J.T. also worked at IBM for a significant period, holding various managerial positions. In this episode we discuss the intricacies of email deliverability and the essential changes required in 2024. As the leading expert in deliverability, JT provides insights and guidance on navigating the evolving landscape of email authentication and strategic practices.

Key Takeaways

Emphasizing the importance of email authentication, Beckham and I go into the technicalities of DKIM and DMARC, highlighting the need for proper configuration and SPF best practices. The episode underscores the significance of incorporating a visible one-click unsubscribe option within the header to enhance user experience and comply with RFC standards. Beckham also warns against ignoring these best practices, as it may lead to increased spam complaints and potential deliverability issues. The key takeaway is clear: businesses must proactively implement these crucial changes to safeguard their domain reputation and ensure successful email marketing campaigns.


Questions I ask JT Howarth:

[01:18] Tell us about what in email marketing will go into effect in January 2024 that people should know about?

[02:17] What does authentication mean?

[04:09] Will your emails bounce if you fail the authentication test?

[05:21] Are there tools out there than can help make this process easier?

[06:11] What do businesses have to watch out for when using a Gmail also on a domain?

[07:42] Are there things to be looking out for when using a service like Active Campaign?

[08:45] What is a DKIM?

[10:28] What is DMARC in email marketing?

[12:33] Where does one obtain information that should be in the DNS records?

[14:07] What is SPF in email marketing?

[15:25] Tell us about how DNS records are part of the onboarding process in Active Campaign

[17:26] Tell us about how having Unsubscribe in your header is shaping up to be requirement in email marketing

[20:11] What happens if a business chooses to ignore all these new recommendations?



More About JT Beckham:


Like this show? Click on over and give us a review on iTunes, please!

Connect with John Jantsch on LinkedIn


John (00:08): Hello, and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch. My guest today is JT Beckham. He is currently a senior manager of deliverability at ActiveCampaign, leading the deliverability team and collaborating with other teams across the organization. So JT, welcome to the show.

Beckham (00:29): Thanks, John. Pleasure to be here.

John (00:31): Deliverability is a hard word to say actually, but that's what we're going to talk about is email deliverability, and we're going to talk about some technical things. I'm going to lean on JT to not make it too crazy technical, but there's some things that you need to know. Email still the best channel for most marketers today, or at least the best online channel today. So it's important that we get that email into the inboxes. They're obviously, we know all the privacy and spam and issues that a lot of organizations will work on. It has kind of come to a forefront with Google and Yahoo in particular, introducing new email authentication requirements. So JT, and by the way, depending upon when you're listening to those requirements, go in effect February, 2024. So jt, is there a way to summarize what is going into effect in January, 2024 that's important to people that maybe haven't paid attention?

Beckham (01:24): Yes, sir. So there's three main things with email authentication. We want to make sure that DKIM DNS records are defined for any from domain or from email address domain you're going to be using when you send out your emails. The next thing is DMARC . You need to have a basic DMARC record in place. Those are the two key things that have to be done for authentication. And then of course, there's two other parts of the requirements that are coming out. One that you can't address unless you're sending email from their platform and you need to watch your spam complaint rates at Google. So those are the three main areas.

John (02:09): Okay. You nailed it. Those are the three main areas. Now, 5% of my listening audience knows what you were talking about. So we need to back up and say, what does all that mean? So when we talk about authentication, I mean, what we're essentially talking about is ways that because people are sending spoof things, we all get 'em all the time. It's like I get an email that's supposedly from me, from somebody out there who's trying to rip me off or something. I mean, so it's really just an effort to make sure that you are who you say you are, especially, and it's really focused on bulk senders, right? People that are sending five, 10,000 person lists, right?

Beckham (02:46): That's been the guidance that has been laid out by Google and Yahoo is the 5,000 limit. However, they have come back and said in other conversations, that's just like a soft number. Their basic guidelines is that if sending a single email to multiple recipients, then you are a bulk sender. And so it's advised that everybody follows through and makes sure that you do what you can to make sure that the mailbox providers and ISPs out there in the world know that this email is from you and that you authorized it to be sent from certain IP addresses. And that when you do dec, IM signing, you are basically adding a digital, an encrypted signature to your emails that if that gets damaged or broken along transit, then it fails to check when the ISPs and mailbox providers look at that and do a lookup on it. And so that would fail your authentication. So like you said, it's really key to make sure that you prove that you are the one sending the email, and that helps your recipients and your contacts that you're trying to reach know for sure that's you, that it didn't get spoofed.

John (03:57): And even if it's not being spoofed, you're not spamming. I mean, you have the ability to send you these records. The setting up of these DNS records are really how you prove that you are who you are. And if you don't prove you are who you are, then it's, it's going to bounce. Right? I mean, that's what's going to start happening. Your mails just won't go through, right?

Beckham (04:17): That's correct. They're going to start out slowly with warning signals, letting people know, or letting ESPs like ourselves know through the bounces coming back, what would happen if they were to flip the switch and enable it. So they say that they're going to slowly roll this out and starting February 1st is when they said, so a lot of interesting times ahead.

John (04:43): Alright, so you mentioned these, and I don't know, don't know if people need to know what these DKIM and DMARC stand for? Probably they don't because everybody just calls 'em DKIM and DMARC. But these are essentially records that are created in your DNS settings. So if your DNS is hosted by Google, that's where you make those changes. If it's hosted by CloudFlare, that's where you make your changes. Some hosts, some actual domain hosts or website hosts, I should say host, DNS. So that's really the first place to go and look. Right?

Beckham (05:13): That's absolutely true. You want to focus

John (05:15): On that? Tell me, if I'm listening to this and I don't really know if I've got these records or if they're set up, are there tools out there that I can take my domain and say, tell me if I need these things fixed?

Beckham (05:28): Yeah, there is. So there's third party tools, like D Martian their website, they have a domain checker tool on their site. There's one called DNS info. The MX Toolbox is a commonly used one that many people use. My team, we use several different ones just to make sure that if one is not reporting something correctly, we always have others that we go and check. Because sometimes these tools do have issues, but most of the time they work very well. And you just define your domain and say, show me the records, and it'll tell you if it sees the DKIM records or any other DNS.

John (06:07): Right? So couple scenarios. Let's say I'm using Google Workspace and it is a Gmail, but I'm using it on my domain. Are there any things I have to do? Because in my DNS records, I'm using Google's MX records for sending, but is there anything that, does Google actually tell me what my DMARC record needs to say, or my domain key needs to say,

Beckham (06:34): If you have a problem that your chem is not there or it's failing at any point in time? One of the tools that Google has is a free tool to everyone is Google Postmaster tools. And that's a tool that we and the deliverability base highly recommend every customer to take advantage of and sign up with their domain. You just define your domain, it will give you a text record that you need to add in to your DNS to authorize their system to be able to use your domain and pull data for it. As they see data coming across their servers will show you more insights on it.

John (07:14): And I love using Google tools because you're basically saying, here's what Google sees. And no matter if you have it all set up and you've hired a consultant to do everything, if Google doesn't see it right, then it doesn't matter, right?

Beckham (07:28): That's right. That's right. That's again, another reason we like to use other tools, and specifically if a mailbox provider has a tool for themselves like Google, we really strongly want you to use

John (07:40): Those tools. Now, let me give you another scenario. I use Google Workspace tools, but that's really more for individual emails than I'm sending out. I happen to be an active campaign customer and we send out bulk emails to people that have opted in to receive those, and other people are using other email service providers. Are there any special things that you should be looking for if you're actually sending most of your bulk mail through a service like ActiveCampaign?

Beckham (08:09): Yeah, so whichever service you're using, DKIM keys. The DKIM records are unique to each service provider and their platform. So you couldn't take and put our DNS or DKIM key that we give. You could put that in there and then send from our platform and they'll sign it. If you try to use that key and send it off of Google or another different solution, the DKIM is not going to work. It's not going to pass. It's specific, like I said, to the mailing infrastructure of the BSP that you're using.

John (08:45): And essentially what it's saying is this email says it's coming from Duct Tape Marketing in my case, but it's actually being sent by this company. And so you're essentially saying, I authorized this company to send on my behalf, essentially what's going on? So in that case, would you potentially have, let's say you're also, I don't know, you're using MailChimp for some other things too, so there's a third player. So would you have DKIMs from all three of those places?

Beckham (09:13): That is correct. Yeah. Any platform that you would be sending from MailChimp into it, whatever it is, they're going to give you the same type of DNS records.

John (09:21): It's basically just a long encrypted code is what it amounts to. Yeah, that's

Beckham (09:26): Right. And it is unique again, to that service provider.

John (09:30): And then underneath, behind the scenes and stuff, that code is actually part of your email. It goes out in the header of your email.

Beckham (09:37): That's correct. So when you look at, if you're looking at your Google Mail and you say view source, then you can see your header information and absolutely see is deam signing or is it passing or failing? And again, I want to stress, you can have multiple dms in here for any platform as long as you've got it for each platform you're actually sending from. That's the key.

John (09:58): And that's actually what you should do is have it for all the platforms you're sending from. Yeah, that's correct.

Beckham (10:03): And you should always make sure you maintain, right? If you change platforms, for example, one of the things you really want to be diligent about is making sure you update these records and remove any platform you're not sending from anymore so that no one could potentially take advantage of that.

John (10:20): Okay. So I think we've unpacked the understanding of what the DKIM record is. That's kind of the encrypted authorization. What does DMARC do? I understand the settings for it. What does it do?

Beckham (10:32): Yeah, so DMARC is another DNS record and it's commonly referred to as a policy. What this basically does is it gives instructions to the mailbox providers or the ips on what to do if your email does not pass authentication. So there's a couple of parameters to it that there's a couple of different ways you can configure it to look at your DKIM key, for example, and enforce it in a strict mode or relaxed mode. This is going to be probably one of the most challenging areas for many people because you're not real sure how to set it up unless you've got DMARC experience and you understand what's going to happen. When you implement A DMARC DNS record, there's usually an email address that's associated and defined in that record. So when you enable or define this record for a domain, every email you go out that goes out and gets processed at every mailbox provider is going to report back what happened. So if you're sending out 500 emails, you're going to get 500 responses or reports into your email address that you specified. So we highly recommend working with a company like DMARC digests to ingest that data. Oh,

John (11:47): So it's sending it to their URI?

Beckham (11:50): Yes. Yeah, exactly. And the users a much more user-friendly way to interpret what's happened and can see very easily who is sending on your behalf using your domain. And if you are failing on DKIM, if it's failing, you'll get a report.

John (12:08): So you'll get reports back that's correct. From those tools that will give you basically a health report on your deliverability. So in addition to that being a requirement, that sounds like a good best practice anyway.

Beckham (12:23): Absolutely. It is like the third step of authentication to help reduce the likelihood of being spoofed, having your email spoofed.

John (12:33): So where does one turn to, and maybe the answer is, well, it depends and that there are multiple places, but where does somebody turn to find out what should be in those records? Because there's syntax and things like all kind of coding things that have to be done. How does somebody get that information?

Beckham (12:52): Yeah, the best site would be That is the main site that defines what DMARC is, every parameter about it, how it works. It should answer any and all questions you have. However, you may find that you might be better off working with a consultant that specializes in implementing DMARC. I've worked with several companies in the past that are very large with multiple brands under them, their IT team gets involved and things like this. And putting a DMARC record in place in enforcement mode instead of reporting mode can be damaging if you don't do it correctly.

John (13:31): We've had a client that did and all of a sudden nobody was getting email.

Beckham (13:34): Yes, yes, I've seen that happen. Somebody thought that they were doing the record setting the record up for their subdomain that they were using on their from addresses in turn. But what actually happened was they implemented for the root domain and that caused major headaches for a very short period of time until they fixed it.

John (13:52): All right. So if you're still with us listeners, I'm getting ready to confuse you a little deeper. So we've been talking about DMARC and one of the important parts of DMARC is it's going to check the DKIM to see that as part of its reporting. There's a sender policy framework. SPF is another element that's a record in DNS. We haven't talked about that yet, but is that part of these new requirements or is that just a good best practice to have that set up for the right servers?

Beckham (14:18): So great question. It is best practice to have that set up and defined. The SPF record is where you specify the ips of the machines that are allowed to send your mail, right? So most people will see an include colon SPF under or something to that effect. And again, you want to only have one SPF record for a domain. It's not like DKIM keys where you can have multiples. It's one record and you just have to add to it and update it. You

John (14:47): Just depend it

Beckham (14:48): With, yeah, correct. And so DMARC does have an option, a parameter where you can say, look at the SPF record and make sure it passes. You can assess on the DKIM, make sure it passes. You can say both of them have the pass. So it can get complicated when you're trying to implement that. But yes, SPF best practices always make sure you're diligent again on making sure it's updated and doesn't have IPS or platforms defined that you're no longer sending from that way you're making sure nobody's potentially using your phone

John (15:24): Domain. Now, I'm guessing most certainly the bigger name ESPs active campaign certainly has this. I mean, I know when I set up my account, part of the setup was actually setting up these DNS records, and I suspect most people, most of their bulk email is being sent from somebody like an active campaign. Is that you want to talk about a little bit about how you all view that's part of the onboarding, right? As far as you're concerned?

Beckham (15:50): That's correct. We try to work very closely during the onboarding process to ensure that we help you get your accounts set up correctly. We help you check your SPF Your DKIM DMARC policies for you. And so it's critically important that we do this so that you can get started right away. We commonly have in the industry what we call a custom mail server domain, and the custom mail server domain allows you to brand your mail server that is sending the mail on from our platform or any other platform. So you might see an email come into your inbox that says, from John via sent by or sent via, and then some unique name. That doesn't make any sense. And that's where the SPF is checked on your DMARC policy. It's looking at that mail server's name and what that SPF record looks like. So many of the platforms like ours, we actually do this for you. We provide the SPF by default for that weird looking mail server name. That's our name, our domain. We do have the ability to help a customer set up a custom mail server domain and rebrand it. So then now your domain and your subdomains all line up. And so when that SPF check is done through the DMARC policy, it will see, oh, okay, your SPF is there for your subdomain of your mail server that you're using.

John (17:18): Yeah.

Beckham (17:19): And I know sub domains and domains can get a little confusing too. So

John (17:24): Yeah, we'll stick to just domains right. Now, the one other thing that's not a DNS record, but I am understanding it to be highly recommended by at least Google, and that is to have unsubscribe in your header. A lot of for years, people would bury it down at the very bottom, maybe make it even hard to find. It's kind of goofy because then people just hit spam. But talk a little bit about that. I'm not even calling it a requirement. I think they're just suggesting it as a deliverability element and maybe how you guys address that.

Beckham (17:56): Yes, sir. So what they're referring to is one click unsubscribe and it has to be part of your header. We've had that as part of our platform for years, that it is part of making sure your emails are RFC compliant. And so we want to make sure that everyone understands that it's usually already built in, and usually your provider that you're using can tell you pretty easily, yes, we already do it for you, or no, here's how you need to enable it. This is a requirement. It's buried into the other parts of the documents, but they're not calling it out per se other than you just have to make sure you're RFC compliant. And this is

John (18:39): Part of that. So when we talk about it in the header, I mean it is still visible, but it's really, we've all probably seen those where you've wanted unsubscribe to something. It was right there almost in the subject line. And so that's what we're really talking about and it's really, I still get emails from people that don't have an unsubscribe anywhere, which is just amazing. I mean, those people will probably get swatted down pretty quickly, won't they?

Beckham (19:03): So it's a good call out right there. So if you're doing transactional messaging where you asked for a mail be sent to you like password reset kind of thing, then those emails don't have to actually have an unsubscribe in it. It's actually not required. So there are some types of emails you can send that will not be looked at or won't be scrutinized in that manner, but it is still a good practice to put 'em in every communication you send out just to make it so people don't say, this is spam. That's the worst thing we want. We don't want

John (19:37): That to happen. Yeah, absolutely.

Beckham (19:40): Yeah. We make it easy as possible. And some with the unsubscribed, there are some customers and users that would like to have a preference center where you can choose which list you want unsubscribe from that is not filling, fulfilling that requirement. In other words, you can still do it, but you have to have that one click unsubscribed so that you have it at the top

John (20:03): Of email and that unsubscribes from any list, right? Yes. Okay. So let's end this by scaring people. What happens if I just go, ah, that seems really hard. I'm not going to do it. What's going to happen to, let's say by summer if you just ignore this?

Beckham (20:20): So if you ignore it, you are most likely going to start seeing most, if not all of your emails bounce and not be delivered. If you have your DMARC record in place, by chance, you're going to start getting flooded with a lot of failures, but the bounce messages will be very clear that come back to your provider. They can see, we can look at the syn logs and see the messaging and say, yep, you are bouncing because you don't have DKIM and plot implemented. You don't have SPF implemented. You haven't done anything. So you're going to see a major impact, especially Google and Yahoo. But we also know other mailbox writers are going to follow this example.

John (21:03): Well, and I suspect you started having 50% bounce rates, your ESPs or somebody's going to start blacklisting your domain period, right?

Beckham (21:12): That's right. And active campaign, we actually have automated systems in place, so we monitor that across all accounts. And if an account hits a certain threshold on their bounce rates for a particular campaign, we actually have a compliance team that will reach out proactively and say, Hey, by the way, we've observed your bounce rate went a little higher than we were expecting. Let's have a chat and figure out what's going on and see how we can help you recover from that. Because this also has a risk of if you don't do anything damaging your domain reputation, which ultimately hinders your ability to deliver email.

John (21:50): So I guess we could also do a whole nother episode on list hygiene, but I know that's not your area of expertise, but we certainly, when you talk about the bounces, I know we routinely clean those bounces out because they're going to bounce again, and so they're just going to add up. jt, I appreciate you taking a moment to share info. Obviously we didn't tell people exactly how to do this because it is a technical aspect, but hopefully we've given you enough information to go out and buy it done or to talk to your ESP or talk to your IT folks to get this done. So I appreciate you taking a few moments to stop by the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast.

from Duct Tape Marketing

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Strategic Fitness: Elevate Your Acumen, Allocation and Action

Strategic Fitness: Elevate Your Acumen, Allocation and Action written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

The Duct Tape Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch

In this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I interviewed Rich Howarth, a renowned business strategist, and CEO, known for his groundbreaking work in strategic thinking and leadership. Rich Horwath is founder and CEO of the Strategic Thinking Institute He is the New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of eight books on strategic thinking, including his most recent work, STRATEGIC: The Skill to Set Direction, Create Advantage, and Achieve Executive Excellence. Rich reveals his game-changing 3A Method to elevate your business acumen, resource allocation, and strategic action. Join us as we explore the intricacies of strategic fitness and how it can revolutionize your approach to business success.


Key Takeaways

In this episode, Rich and I discuss the transformative 3A Method, emphasizing the mastery of business acumen, strategic resource allocation, and purposeful strategic action. Learn the importance of consistently evolving your business acumen, reallocate resources strategically throughout the year, and prioritize actions aligned with your strategic goals. Rich introduces the concept of the Strategic Quotient (SQ) as a tool to measure and enhance strategic thinking skills. Whether you’re a seasoned executive or an aspiring entrepreneur, these insights provide a roadmap to elevate your strategic fitness and navigate your business towards unparalleled success.


Questions I ask Rich Horwath:

[00:51] What’s your definition of strategic thinking?

[01:52] Periodic or Lifetime practice, how often does a leader think strategically?

[03:37] How do you balance the reality of long term and short term planning?

[04:53] How would you differentiate between strategic thinking and strategic planning?

[06:31] Why use fitness as a metaphor when describing strategic thinking?

[07:34] What are the 4 fitness arenas of strategic thinking?

[10:38] What areas would you suggest strategic thinkers focus on?

[12:23] What are some practical examples of organizational fitness?

[15:19] What are some practical examples of communication fitness?

[17:19] How do you begin consulting a beginner in strategic thinking?

[20:40] Where can people connect with you and obtain a copy of your book?



More About Rich Horwath:


Like this show? Click on over and give us a review on iTunes, please!

Connect with John Jantsch on LinkedIn


This episode of The Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by ActiveCampaign

Try ActiveCampaign free for 14 days with our special offer. Sign up for a 15% discount on annual plans until Mar 31,2024. Exclusive to new customers—upgrade and grow your business with ActiveCampaign today!


John (00:08): Hello and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch. My guest today is Rich Howarth. He's the founder and CEO of the Strategic Thinking Institute, where he is a strategy facilitator, speaker, advisor, and coach to executive leadership teams. He's a New York Times and Wall Street Journal, bestselling author of eight books on strategic thinking, including the most recent work we're going to talk a little bit about today, strategic, the skill to set direction, create advantage, and achieve executive excellence. So Rich, welcome to the show.

Rich (00:42): John, great to be with you. Thanks so much for having me.

John (00:46): So I'm just going to start with this because if I ask 10 people, I'll get 10 different answers. What's your definition of strategy or strategic thinking?

Rich (00:55): Yeah, so strategy for me is the intelligent allocation of resources through unique system of activity to achieve a goal. So simply put, strategy is how you plan to achieve your goal. And as I've read your books in the past, going back to Duct Tape Marketing, you talk about strategy before tactics, and I love in there you always talked about the how, not the what. And I think I'm a big believer in that as well. I think too often, as you talk about in your books, and I share a little bit as well in my books, we sometimes see people mistaking their mission, their vision, their goals, their objectives for strategy, trying to be number one in the market, trying to be the premier provider of X, and instead we really need about think about how are we going to get there. That's really the strategy. So again, I've appreciated all the insights you've shared over the years on this. I think it's really helped a lot of us in the field.

John (01:46): Well, I appreciate that. So let's get into a few more kind of logistic aspects. Is this something that you do once a year, once every three years? I mean, is there a rhythm? Does it never end? I'd love to hear your thoughts on kind of the how often question.

Rich (02:03): Yeah, John, and you hit it on the head initially. You talked about strategy and strategic thinking. So to me, strategy is something that you set and really, if you've done your thinking, it should be something that stays in place for a long period of time. Where I think a lot of people could use a jumpstart is the strategic thinking part. So just because we have our strategic direction doesn't mean that we want to take our eyes off the road. And I know in one of your last books you talk about the importance. You've got a great five step process, map, and uncover are two of the first steps in your process. And I think those are great starting points. When we think about strategy, when we think about mapping, as you talk about, you've got to understand what's my situation around me. And I think too often we get our head buried in the internal stuff or we're so reactive to fire drills with customers that we fail to remember what is the long-term strategy that we've got in place. And so strategic thinking for me is really our ability to generate new insights or new learnings on a regular basis that help us keep and achieve that competitive advantage. So I think it's a great point that you bring up to me strategy, something that we set, but strategic thinking is something we should be doing day in and day out. We need to stay hungry on how we're going to get better and learn.

John (03:23): It is funny, there are some models out there that talk about strategic planning. I think there's one very popular one that talks about what's 10 years from now look like. I've had a lot of small business owners, they don't know what next quarter looks like. How do you balance long-term and reality of short-term? Right,

Rich (03:42): Right. Yeah, it's interesting you bring up, there was just a study by pwc, they surveyed 4,700 CEOs and it was interesting, 45%. So nearly half of the CEOs said that they did not think they would be in business in 10 years unless they significantly evolved the way that they do business. So one of the things that we've got to be thinking about is how are we evolving in, what I like to think is the business model, but it's really simple. It's how do we create value, how do we deliver value and how do we capture value? So what I like to do is really create that strategy tuneup. So just like we get our car tuned up on a regular basis, what I recommend is quarterly get together with your team, take a couple hours, maybe it's over lunch and go through just some of the basic fundamentals of the business. Have the customers thinking and actions changed? Has the competitive landscape changed at all? What's going on within our company? What's working, what's not? That takes a couple hours, but that's a great way to tune up the strategy, to understand should we be doing things differently, especially when it comes to creating and delivering value to our customers.

John (04:55): And I guess that's probably as good a description of strategic thinking as opposed to strategic planning. You might have a strategic plan, but the strategic thinking is something, it's the flexibility, it's the adaptability, it's the need to have to evolve and mature, isn't it?

Rich (05:12): Yeah. I love the words you used there, flexibility, adaptability, that's something too. It's that catch 22, as we get older, as we get more experience, we tend to lose that adaptability and that flexibility. And so one of the things I recommend to people is get some perspective outside of your industry. So read a journal in architecture or science or technology if you're not in those fields, and think about how are those people assessing their problems, their challenges. I'm a big believer too in studying nature, this whole idea of biomimicry, how can we take the challenges that we face? So getting more customers, creating a better sales funnel, closing more leads. When we think about nature, how has nature accomplish some of those things? How does nature, how does a species, how does a duck go from the winter to the summer? What do they do? Do they drop feathers, do they get faster? All of those things can teach us if we take the time to step back and think about how other people are doing some things as well. So I think that's a big thing. Like you said, adaptability and versatility are really important, but we need to remember as we gain more experience, we have to continue to push ourselves out of that comfort zone.

John (06:26): You use the fitness metaphor quite a bit. I want to talk about the way you've broken the book up a little bit. Is there any particular reason why the fitness metaphor works in strategic thinking in your mind?

Rich (06:38): Well, one of the reasons is, again, we think about CEOs and you work a lot of CEOs. I work with some as well. What's interesting is the average CEO exercises for 45 minutes a day, which I found was pretty impressive. I mean, that's a good chunk of time each day to be exercising. But what we find is that when it comes to practicing or building our business fitness, and you've seen this, John, I'm sure in your world, people, we don't tend to practice. We tend to play all the time. So you've got football playoffs or baseball playoffs, they're practicing 90% of the time and they're in competition 10% of the time. But in business, we're on that activity treadmill all the time. And what I've found is the best leaders, they jump off that treadmill, they take their team with them and they think about how are some ways that we can get better? And they devote some time to training, to development, to a lot of the things that you've talked about and you've helped people with over the years as well.

John (07:34): Taking that a step further, you've actually broken up into four arenas. And so maybe I'll let you walk us through those. Obviously picking up a copy of strategic is how you're going to get the full compliment, but walk us through those four fitness arenas.

Rich (07:50): Sure, John, and the reason I came up with these four areas, and I use a compass to represent the four areas, is I've looked at my coaching notes over the years. The one word that popped up again and again was the word navigate. A lot of folks that I was talking to said, we're having trouble navigating our competition, we're having trouble navigating these new market changes. And so I tried to come up with this compass based on the folks that I was working with in the four areas of strategy, leadership, organization, and communication. Because the reality is, even though strategies, my passion, if we're just good at strategy, we're going to be a failure. Long-term, we've got to be good at communicating, executing, we got to be great at marketing, we got to be great at sales. So there's so many things to be a well-rounded, strong leader. So I created those four areas to help people almost create a checklist to say, as a leader, am I checking off these areas? Do I have a strategy in place? Am I building leadership capabilities for myself and my team? Do we have a good culture? What's my emotional intelligence? Do we have our value chain figured out? So all of those things are important, so I try to simplify it, give people a checklist so that they can kind of walk through that.

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(10:08): Now, this offer is limited to new active campaign customers only. So what are you waiting for? Fuel your growth, boost revenue and save precious time by upgrading to active campaign today. So maybe without, again, I know there are a lot of elements in here that rather than just reading a list, but give us a sense of, so you mentioned strategy, leadership, organization and communication. What are some of the elements in each of those buckets? So beginning with strategy, fitness, what are the areas that we would focus on if we were going to maybe make an assessment in that area?

Rich (10:43): So yeah, let's think about strategy. The one thing that comes to mind, especially when we think about marketing and sales as well, is this idea of resource allocation. So we all know we've got resources, we've got time, we've got budget, we've got people, we need to move those around. What's interesting though, John, is the research shows that 92% of companies allocate their resources once a year when they do their plan. But the best companies, the research shows they reallocate resources, time people, budget programs, projects throughout the year. So that's one key element that I talk a little bit about in the book is just this idea that look, we need on a monthly basis to think about where are we spending our time, our money, and our programs, and how can we change that so that we're putting more fuel on the things that are working and less fuel on the things that are not working.

(11:34): And then the other piece on strategy I would mention is I talk about competitive advantage. And again, kudos to you from Duct Tape Marketing. You talk a lot about being different and the importance of differentiation, and I've done some research on that following in your footsteps as well. And again, even going back to science, this idea of the principle of competitive exclusion, meaning no two species can coexist that make their living the identical way. So you think about two male lions in the same area in Africa, after a while, one of the male lions isn't going to be there because trying to do the same thing in the same way. So one of the things we talk about in the book is this really importance of idea of differentiation, which obviously not a new idea, you've talked about it 10, 15 years ago, but it is still something that we need to remind ourselves of, how are we different in ways that customers value?

John (12:22): Awesome. So in leadership, fitness, what are some practical examples of ways somebody might, I mean you talk about mental training and emotional quotient and time management even. What are some practical ways that we can be looking into that bucket,

Rich (12:39): Especially for the small to midsize business leader? One of the things to think about is your time allocation. And obviously there's lots of stuff on time management, but when you look at the best CEOs that have run multiple companies at the same time, people like Elon Musk with SpaceX and Tesla, Jack Dorsey who runs Twitter and Square, one of the things they're really big on is batching their time. So they'll pick a couple things and they'll work on those things for 2, 3, 4, 5 hours out of the day. And I know what people are saying, geez, rich, I've got a million things to handle. But the most effective leaders say, look, if I've got to do one-on-one meetings with my team, I'm not going to spread 'em out over the week. I'm going to do those all on Monday morning from eight to 11. Because what that does, John, is it reduces the number of mental transitions that we have to make. And what the research shows is that the mental transitions jumping from one topic to the next, that's the thing that burns people out that causes the fatigue that we feel at the end of the day. So if you can say, Hey, I'm going to do email five times a day in these 15 minute chunks, I'm going to do my performance reviews here, that's going to simplify your life a lot. So that just that idea of batching our time can be helpful.

John (13:54): Alright, organizational fitness, I'm guessing culture goes squarely into that, developing your people, processes, talent planning for what's next, innovating. So give us some practical examples of what we might focus on in organizational fitness.

Rich (14:12): Yeah, you're right on the money, John culture is a big one. And the thing I think we miss a lot of times is we will take the time to do our values, we'll do our mission statement, our vision statement, but what we really need to be aware of as a small to mid-size business leader is what are the three or four behaviors that you're seeing the most from your team? Either things that are productive or not productive. Because at the end of the day, behaviors are, so if you want a better culture, you've got to pick out two or three behaviors that you as a leadership team really believe in are going to best serve your customers. And then you've got to find ways to build those behaviors within your team. Let's say customer centricity, that's a popular one. It's all about the customer. Okay, well we can say that on paper, but what does that behavior look like? That might mean we're going to answer a phone call, we're going to return a phone call within one hour. We're going to return an email within three hours and we're going to return a text message within four hours, whatever it might be. But putting some specific parameters around what do those behaviors look like?

John (15:20): Alright. And then the last one, communication fitness. So I'll let you kind of pick out a practical example there.

Rich (15:26): Yeah. So communication, fitness, it's funny, I never used to talk about meetings at all, but ever since we've come out of the hybrid and the remote work the last few years, people still have meetings stacked one upon the other. And so one of the things I found is just taking a strategic approach to our meetings. And what we mean by that is when you have a meeting, there should be three things in mind. Number one, what's the intent? So what's the purpose of this meeting that should be shared with people two days, three days before? And I recommend giving one or two key questions that you want people to think about so that when you get together, it's a true dialogue. It's not a monologue. Too often I sit in on meetings and one person's talking for 30 or 40 minutes, that's not a meeting, that's a monologue for a late night talk show.

(16:13): So we need to make sure that we're really creating that interactive dialogue and meetings. And then the other big part is having insights. So when we finish up the meeting, you got to ask yourself, what was my takeaway? What did I learn from that meeting? And if we're not walking away from meetings with learnings, then we're wasting our time. We've got to either change that meeting or get rid of the meeting. So I'm a big believer as a leader out there, create a meeting inventory. So take an inventory of all the meetings you have on your calendar and for one week score those meetings on their value. Zero is no value, three is high value. And at the end of the week, total those up. If you've got meetings that are around a zero or one average, get rid of those.

John (16:58): Yeah, that's an interesting point because I think there are people that have gotten into this meeting rhythm where they're just like, no, it's Tuesday at noon. We do this meeting every week. And it's gotten to the point where it's of no value to anyone attending fact mag might actually be negative, but the idea of just canceling and I think really kind of freaks people out, doesn't it? Alright, so in your work, your coaching work, if somebody said, gosh, I'm listening to this, and there's some stuff making sense here, but there's also a lot that we've just hit the surface of when somebody says, can you come in and talk to us, rich, do you have a process that you walk everybody through on where do you start?

Rich (17:42): Yeah, so the one thing I'd recommend is to keep it simple, and you made a great point earlier about the difference between strategy and strategic thinking. So when we're trying to create strategic thinkers in the organization at all levels, I would keep it simple like three a's acumen, allocation and action. So that's where I would start. As acumen always be asking yourself, what's the new value in this situation? So if you're talking with a customer, if you're having a staff meeting, what's the new value here that you can either create or deliver or capture? So always be thinking about what's the new value here? The reason a lot of businesses wind up failing in the long run is because they started with a good strategy, but then everybody else started to catch up and they didn't create any more new value. So why don't we think about that new value?

(18:31): And then the second a allocation, I'm a big believer, and I know you've talked about this in the past, John, this idea of the not to-do list. What are you not going to do? Who are you not going to service? Who are you not going to focus on? Too many of us are trying to serve everybody and we're minimizing the real value we can bring to that select few that are going to find the most mutual value. So big believer, we got to be really selective in who we're focusing on, where we're focusing to be as valuable as possible. And the third A is action. We just got to think about what are we prioritizing today? If we've got a list of 17 priorities, we've got nothing prioritized. So just really thinking about what's my priority, the one or two things, and then am I matching my time spend to those priorities? If you look at the end of the day and a good exercise for folks to do, track your time for one week in 30 minute increments, add it up at the end of the week, graph it out, and then look at that graph and see if that matches up with your priorities. Too often I'm seeing people say, 50% of my time is spent on stuff. That's not really my priority. So take the time to assess your time where you're spending it, and that will really help I think with priorities.

John (19:46): Now you have, and I can't remember if it's in the book or if I just saw it on your website, you have an assessment, people can go through and measure some of where they are on some of these things.

Rich (19:56): Yeah, absolutely. So the strategic quotient, we've all heard of IQ forever, measuring intelligence, eq, emotional intelligence. So what I've tried to create this strategic quotient SQ really measures how people think, plan and act strategically. So it's an assessment of your behaviors and your mindset, and it's a good starting point for people to say, yeah, I'm doing a pretty good job here, but maybe I could be doing a little bit differently there. So it really matches up too with those three a's acumen allocation action that we've talked about. So again, just a simple way takes about five to seven minutes, but can start to shed some light on areas that you as a leader might want to spend a little bit more time on as you develop.

John (20:37): Awesome. Well, rich, I appreciate you stopping by the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. Is there someplace you'd invite people to connect with you, find out more about your work, and obviously about your books?

Rich (20:45): Yeah, John, thanks for asking that. I appreciate it. So there are a lot of free resources, articles, white papers,, so strategy, lots of free resources there.

John (20:57): Awesome. Well, again, I appreciate you taking a moment to stop by and share with my listeners, and hopefully we'll run into you only these days soon out there on the road.

from Duct Tape Marketing

Monday, January 29, 2024

Weekend Favs January 27

Weekend Favs January 27 written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

My weekend blog post routine includes posting links to a handful of tools or great content I ran across during the week.

I don’t go into depth about the finds, but I encourage you to check them out if they sound interesting. The photo in the post is a favorite for the week from an online source or one I took on the road.

  • Parma – Parma is a streamlined CRM tool designed for simplicity and efficiency in managing customer relationships. It’s minimalistic yet effective, helping you remember key details about your customers – who they are, their preferences, and your last interaction with them. The tool is user-friendly and aims to make CRM a seamless part of your daily workflow, ensuring you stay connected and engaged with your customers effortlessly.
  • Julius – is an AI-powered data analysis tool that acts like a personal data analyst. It simplifies complex data analysis tasks, making it accessible even for those without a technical background. The tool is designed to help users make informed decisions by providing clear insights from their data. It’s user-friendly and efficient, aimed at enhancing productivity in data-driven decision-making.
  • Smartly – is a comprehensive advertising platform that streamlines media buying, creative automation, reporting, and optimization in one place. It’s designed for agencies and marketing teams to manage campaigns across various platforms efficiently, offering tools like automated workflows and predictive algorithms. The platform’s dynamic creative capabilities and insightful reporting dashboards empower brands to engage audiences effectively and glean actionable insights for improved performance.

These are my weekend favs; I would love to hear about some of yours – Tweet me @ducttape

If you want to check out more Weekend Favs you can find them here.

from Duct Tape Marketing

Thursday, January 25, 2024

Future-Proofing Your Consulting Career: AI, Trust Triangles, and Colorado Pricing Strategies

Future-Proofing Your Consulting Career: AI, Trust Triangles, and Colorado Pricing Strategies written by Tosin Jerugba read more at Duct Tape Marketing

The Duct Tape Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch

In this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I interviewed David A. Fields, a seasoned consultant and the Co-founder of Ascendant Consulting, specializing in assisting large corporations entering new markets. With a wealth of experience, David has transitioned from a marketing career at Glaxo Smith Klein to becoming a trusted advisor for consulting firms.

Our conversation delves into the future landscape of consulting, touching on the transformative role of AI, the crucial aspect of building trust, and the innovative pricing strategy known as Colorado Pricing.

Key Takeaways

explored the transformative impact of Artificial Intelligence on consulting, delved into the crucial role of building trust with the Trust Triangle, and uncovered the innovative Colorado Pricing strategy. From understanding the dynamic landscape reshaped by AI to gaining insights into client trust-building strategies and implementing unique pricing models, this episode provides a roadmap for future-proofing your consulting career. Join us for a deep dive into the intersection of AI, trust-building, and groundbreaking pricing models that are shaping the future of the consulting industry.


Questions I ask David Fields:

[01:37] What is it that you bring as a consultant, do you feel you have a unique point of view?

[03:34] What 3 things do consultants do to obtain the clients they need?

[05:18] Do you believe it’s hard for people getting started not to say yes to every opportunity that comes their way?

[07:04] How do you sell a solution to somebody who isn’t aware of the problem?

[08:37] Do you believe that every consultant needs a framework?

[09:50] Project versus Retainers, what are your thoughts on that?

[11:45] Explain Colorado Pricing

[13:00] How do you develop a high level of trust with your client, early on?

[14:43] How do you see AI changing the Consulting Industry?

[19:30] Where can people connect with you and grab a copy of your book?


More About David Fields:


Like this show? Click on over and give us a review on iTunes, please!

Connect with John Jantsch on LinkedIn


John (00:08): Hello and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch. My guest today is David Fields. After a nine year marketing career at Glaxo Smith Klein, David transition to consulting, becoming a partner at a boutique firm before co-founding Ascendant Consulting, specializing in helping large corporations enter new markets. He introduced a general contractor model focusing on winning engagements, ensuring quality and managing relationships while subcontracting expert work. He's also the author of a book we're going to touch on a little bit today, the Irresistible Consultants Guide to Winning Clients. So David, welcome to the show.

David (00:50): Thank you. Wow, that intro goes way back. Of course, I haven't had sending consulting even for eight, nine years. So my firm David, A Fields'

John (00:59): Group, I don't know where we got that then.

David (01:01): I'm sure my group provided, or a came from somewhere, it doesn't matter. But yeah, I came out of marketing and then co-founded a firm co-founded consortium, but eight, nine years ago we transitioned almost exclusively to working with other consulting firms, with advising firms on how to grow. So we haven't had corporate clients in probably at least eight years.

John (01:22): Nice. Alright, well, as we were talking about off air, we have similar models and I think similar beliefs. In fact, let me throw a really hard question at you, or maybe you've got a perfect answer for this already. If you're going to describe your point of view about consulting or what it is you bring as a consultant, do you feel like you have a unique point of view

David (01:42): For our group or do I think consultants should have a unique point of view?

John (01:46): I think you personally,

David (01:47): Yeah, I think that's an

John (01:49): Interesting question. Going to start with a hard question.

David (01:51): Yeah, it's an interesting question. Do I have a unique point of view? I think I have a point of view, which is people tend to say, oh yeah, that makes sense. I don't know that it's unique as much as it's kind of a reminder of what people know deep down. So the most fundamental principle we teach is what we call right side up thinking, which means consulting is not about you. And this is the same for all professional services and probably all businesses, but I say consulting is not about you, it's about your clients, it's about your prospects, it's about them. So we call that right side up thinking and it's really easy in concept and people tend to say, oh yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Of course in practice it actually proves to be quite difficult.

John (02:39): It's interesting, I work with a lot of startup consultants. I mean, they're jumping out of corporate or something. They're going out and telling people, here's what I charge. And I will say that what you just touched on right there is probably one of the hardest things at first because it's all about what do I know? Do I know enough? Am I an expert? Am I worth whatever amount I'm charging? And what you're talking about is actually how you overcome that, isn't it?

David (03:03): That's exactly right. That's exactly right.

John (03:06): So one of the things that we teach a lot of, I'm sure you get this all the time. There are definitely people that are good at delivering consulting. They get very good at sharing their expertise, bringing third outside view to the world. They're not so great at getting clients necessarily. And part of that is they see so many bad examples of what people are doing out there and they think they have to mimic just for consultants. If you're going to say, here's the three things every consultant should do or could do and now have all the clients they need,

David (03:39): Wow, you're right. People really struggle. And in part I think it's because they approach consulting. You need to sell it, and they try to be salespeople. And consulting is not sold, consulting is bought. You can't sell someone a solution, a consulting solution to a problem they don't have. So all you can do is approach people and be out there in the world in the right ways for the right people so that when they have a problem that you can solve, they're thinking, Hey, you know what? I need to call John, John can help me solve this problem. So consulting is bought. You don't sell at consulting, which is why being right side up is so important. Listening for most folks that are small that are under call it $5 million, and especially for startups, their biggest challenge tends to be that they're too broad. That they make this crazy ironic mistake of saying, well, but I need to keep my market as broad as possible so that I can win business. And it's the exact opposite. I mean, I've got all the evidence in the world, and even though it's really hard to do, you have to give up 90% of your possible audience so that you are exactly right and attractive and credible for that 10% or 1% that will then say, oh, you are the person. Your firm is the firm and up to about 25 million. You find the larger the firm, the more specialized they are.

John (05:18): I think that's hard, particularly for people getting started. That's hard because it means saying no a lot, right? And nobody wants to say no to what they think could be an opportunity. And that the challenge.

David (05:28): Yeah, well, you don't necessarily have to say no. You can still be opportunistic. What we tend to tell people is be narrow in your marketing and broaden your capabilities, which means especially if you need to keep the lights on, if you need cash, and at the beginning you need cash. If someone comes along and says, Hey, I'm willing to pay you 25,000 or a hundred thousand or whatever to do something, it's okay to say yes. However, in any of your marketing, in any of your discussions as you're telling people, here's what I do, you want to be very narrow resonates and narrow is memorable. Does that resonate with you

John (06:06): Or Yeah, I love that too because also, yeah, no, absolutely. And one of the things I love that you said was about taking the a hundred thousand dollars because frankly that's how you develop your experience. Sometimes you go figure out something you don't know how to do and you end up deciding, Hey, we're pretty good at that. Absolutely. Or we develop an expertise to do that.

David (06:24): And also it would be crazy if you decide what I'm going to do is I'm going to focus on water bottles and you get 12 requests from, I don't know, people that want you to advise 'em on how to build chairs. I'm on water bottles. It's like, dude, listen to the market. The market is telling you something. So just listen to the market.

John (06:47): I want to back up a minute to something you said that you can't sell somebody who doesn't have a problem. I essentially sell strategy. Most businesses we work with don't ever wake up and say, I'm going to go buy strategy today. So how do you sell something? And I know you've written about this, how do you sell something to somebody who has the problem? They just don't know they do.

David (07:08): So I don't know if you're going to like my answer to this one because what we typically tell people is don't, and we have a whole thing we call fishing where the fish are, and your prospects are either aware they have a problem or don't or they're not aware. And also, so that's one way you can think of them. Another way you can think of 'em is if they have a problem, how urgently do they want to solve it? They want to solve it now or maybe in the future or no urgency at all. And we highly recommend you target people who are aware of the problem and want to solve it now. And the reason is they're really easy to win business from trying to convince people they have a problem. That's hard work. You can do it. There are ways at it, I can tell you some ways at it, but I would much rather just go after the people who are saying, oh yeah, I want to solve this problem you're talking about. It's just easier.

John (08:01): And I guess probably what ends up happening, or at least for us is they don't wake up and say, I want strategy, but they wake up and say, how come I have to compete on price all the time? How come my competitors show up in search results and I don't show up? And it's like, well, those are strategy problems. And so it's really selling. It's understanding the symptoms. Right.

David (08:22): That's exactly right. That is a hundred percent right. And again, we run into this all the time. Consultants at least like to talk about themselves, these big terms, general terms, but that's not how clients are describing their symptoms.

John (08:35): Yeah, absolutely. Do you believe that consultants need, I guess this is a yes or no answer or this might be a depends. Do you think they need a framework? Do you need something that's repeatable that you can take out to somebody and say, here's our framework,

David (08:51): Yes, there's my yes or no answer. Yes. Would you like more behind that? Yes. For two reasons. Two reasons. One, unless you have some sort of framework repeatable approach, you have nothing scalable. So you cannot scale a hundred percent bespoke. And second, a framework, a view of the world creates credibility. It shows that you understand this problem, this challenge, and that makes you a more reliable solution. You don't need to be different, you just need to be credible. And the framework creates credibility.

John (09:29): I also find that you get better at it. I mean, if you're practicing the same process or methodology, you get better at delivering results. Right,

David (09:37): Exactly. Like I said,

John (09:38): Three. Okay, let's throw another one out then. Projects, three reasons. No, go ahead. We have a little delay I think in our thing, so I'm stepping on you a little bit there. Yeah,

David (09:47): I not sure why.

John (09:49): I'll throw out another one. Projects versus retainers, tuck that one through

David (09:53): Just different types of, so you're talking about different contract structures or what happens frequently is this conflating of contract structures, meaning how you get paid and work structures. And it's understandable that they get conflated because certain types of projects or work fits better with certain fee structures, project work. By and large, you want to be paid a project fee, which can be determined in front or advanced variable or fixed advisory work or ongoing work tends to be better set up as what we would call a stipend. We don't really talk about retainers. Attorneys get retainers, which is a lump of money them, and then they draw against it hourly. A much better model is what we would call a stipend, which is a periodic payment. You don't draw down against it, it's just a payment. And that keeps you available to give advice or what have you, or work on the client's issues for a month or a quarter or a year. If you can get a decade long stipend, that would be good. So matching the right contract structure with the right type of work helps. That's one that's complex enough. I would advise folks go and grab an article or look at it like my second book or even my first book to see different pricing structures.

John (11:19): The one that we've fallen on for years, you and I, again, we're talking before I hit record, but is we like to deliver strategy upfront. So that's like everybody buys that product. You don't pass go without doing that if you're going to retain us. And then it's like, well, for the next year, how much could you pay us on a monthly basis and we'll check all the boxes quarter by quarter. You actually gave that a name that I had not called it. So you want to describe that in your words.

David (11:47): Yeah. Well, we call that Colorado pricing, where you ask the client basically what fee would you feel comfortable paying on a periodic basis pretty much forever, at least for the next couple of years or three years? What's going to feel comfortable paying monthly or paying quarterly, paying twice a year and whatever that price is, we will figure out then how do we create value within that. And if at any point you feel like you're not getting your value, you let us know or we'll cut it off. We call that Colorado pricing.

John (12:23): So one of the things that I discovered early on is to do that pricing model, you have to have a very high level of trust with a client because you're essentially saying, trust me, you'll get the results for this price. So how do you develop that level of trust, particularly early on?

David (12:42): Yeah, so you develop trust. That's a big topic. There are ways to develop trust quickly. What anybody will tell you is the way you develop trust is by being trustworthy. And that means a lot of things, no question. So we talk about trust as being a trust triangle. There are three points in the trust triangle and in the middle is me. But from this client's point of view, client client is always thinking me. They're thinking, there's three questions. The client is thinking, do you have my best interests at heart? Are you thinking about me? And the client is thinking, are you going to help me? And separately, it sounds similar, but it's actually different. Are you going to hurt me? And so very quickly you need to demonstrate that you're putting their interest first. For instance, by not saying you can do things that you can't actually do by recommending, perhaps they find a different expert for certain things that shows you're putting their interest above yours.

(13:43): You show that you can help them by showing your credibility, by case studies, by pointing out the value of working with you, but also really important. And this is even more important in certain cultures. When you get outside the us, you just show you're not going to cause harm. That can be a little bit harder to demonstrate, but it can come across in your emails and how you phrase things. And if you're ever in a meeting where there's your client and multiple people, you go out of your way to make sure even if someone says something dumb or wrong, that you never embarrass them, that you help everybody look good. And if you can do with those, you can focus on that trust triangle, then you can fairly quickly build the kind of trust that allows you to create these relationships where you do Colorado pricing. Of course, you can also start out and say, let's give it a three month trial.

John (14:38): Yeah. I'll tell you one that I'll throw into there, and it's maybe because of who we've tend to work with over the years and my point of view about systems demonstrating that you have a process really goes a long way towards building trust.

David (14:53): Yeah, I agree with that. I think that's a really

John (14:55): Good point. I think a lot of people have been burned by consultants who were winging it. Let's face it.

David (15:02): Yeah, I agree with you. I do think that's a really good point showing you've done it before, showing results. That's all part of the credibility. And you can help me bucket being able to say, yeah, we've got this thing all mapped out. Here's our 25 step diagnostic or 25 point diagnostic on this. Yeah, that makes a big difference.

John (15:22): We've gone 15 minutes and 32 seconds into our interview, and I've not mentioned AI yet, so I'm going to do that now. How do you see it changing the industry from the consulting industry?

David (15:36): Yeah, John, my point of view is anybody who prognosticate on this, anybody is setting themselves up to be wrong. We all know it's going to affect the industry and however we predict it is going to be wrong. It will have a massive impact where exactly how clients will use it and how consultants will use it. Boy, it's hard to tell. I'm seeing so many fascinating applications of ai. I mean, it's just extraordinary things I wouldn't have imagined. I will tell you, I would not like to be an entry level consultant in today's world because entry level analysis, I can interview a dozen of my clients, the end customers to get feedback, run it through AI and have one hell of an analysis in no time as opposed to paying what was a junior consultant to do that kind of thing. But where it's going to go, gosh, I don't know. Where do you think it's going to go?

John (16:38): Well, again, I wasn't asked really to look futuristic as I'm with you. I mean everything will change next week, but I'm seeing immediate impact right now. And you just mentioned one of them certainly on entry level, but I think in a lot of ways what it does is I think it makes the informed consultant actually more valuable because there is a lot of misinformation, there's a lot of misuse, there's a lot of misunderstanding. And I think that somebody applying the tools appropriately is actually going to become more valuable.

David (17:10): And since AI hallucinate, I think is the term right, they just make things up. Unless you're informed enough to know and be able to recognize the hallucination, AI becomes quite dangerous. And yeah, I'm not terribly concerned about AI replacing consulting. I think what's more interesting is going to be how consulting firms effectively use AI to create more value for clients. And again, I've seen some pretty wild and fascinating attempts at that already.

John (17:43): Yeah, I mean, I know from our standpoint, we are expanding some of our deliverables because we can things like trend analysis and threat analysis and opportunity analysis. There are some things that can be added that I don't know if they immediately add a lot of value, but they certainly add more substance to the deliverable for

David (18:05): Good, bad, and indifferent. And it's good thought starters. We have clients who are building experts for their clients who are saying, look, you have a question. What we'll do is legally we will load the top 10 books on this particular topic. We'll create a custom bot for you, and it will just tell you, if you were to ask these top 10 authors what they think, here's what they would say. And that's handy. I mean, that's an interesting piece of tech.

John (18:35): Yeah, you and I have been writing online, so a lot of our content has been consumed by these learning models. So I think that we've actually been using it to repurpose some of our own original content, which I think it's actually very good at Currently. It's not good at producing original content, but it's good at consuming and understanding original content.

David (18:58): Yeah, it's pretty interesting. I was a little freaked out the first time I went on the chat GPT and said, write an article on the style of David A. Fields. And because I published books and I published something like 400 odd articles, it was like, okay, and it knew who I am and it's not graded original, and it did an okay job, but it's a little freaky.

John (19:22): Yeah, it is. David, again, I appreciate you stopping by and the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. Talking a little bit about marketing and consulting, where might you invite people to connect with you, find out more about your work?

David (19:35): They can always go to david a So David a is in apple or check on LinkedIn. We run a 15 minute q and a every Monday, consulting best practices q and a on LinkedIn. And of course, I would encourage 'em to take a look at the book that you mentioned at the top, the Ible Consultants Guide to Winning Clients. It has done very well and well received, and I think most folks will find it quite helpful.

John (20:00): Yep, absolutely. I concur. Well, again, thanks for stopping by the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast and hopefully we will run into you one of these days out there on the road.

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