86: Marketing B2B Tech Companies with J.C. Granger of Infinity Marketing GroupPublished July 13, 2021
Run time: 01:14:20
Managing expectations builds trust. J.C. Granger of Infinity Marketing Group joins the show to talk about the dangers of user data not being siloed, where software companies struggle the most when it comes to marketing, and how to break into new markets, but not without first sharing how he once smothered a computer with a pillow to get online.
In this episode, you will learn:
- How 12 year olds in the 90s hacked the Internet (reportedly)
- How we trade our privacy for convenience
- How data is used to influence our interests
- Why chopping up Big Tech has bipartisan benefits
- How accidental agencies come to be
- Why J.C.’s marketing agency focuses on B2B software companies and will never build mobile apps again
- Where software companies need the most help with marketing themselves
- When to use LinkedIn over email marketing for outreach
- How to break into new markets
- Why money is the result, not the goal
This episode is brought to you by The Jed Mahonis Group, where we make sense of mobile app development with our non-technical approach to building custom mobile software solutions. Learn more at https://jmg.mn.
Recorded June 29, 2021 | Edited by Jordan Daoust | Produced by Jenny Karkowski
Infinity Marketing Group | https://infinitymgroup.com
J.C. Granger on LinkedIn | https://www.linkedin.com/in/jcgranger/
Email J.C. at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Future of BizTech Podcast | https://www.infinitymgroup.com/the-future-of-biztech-podcast/
JMG Careers Page | https://jmg.mn/careers
Connect with Tim Bornholdt on LinkedIn | https://www.linkedin.com/in/timbornholdt/
Chat with The Jed Mahonis Group about your app dev questions | https://jmg.mn
Tim Bornholdt 0:00
Welcome to Constant Variables, a podcast where we take a non-technical look at building and growing digital products. I'm Tim Bornholdt. Let's get nerdy.
A quick note before we get into this week's episode. We at The Jed Mahonis Group have a lot of fun projects coming in the door. And as a result, we're looking to expand our team by bringing on some iOS and Android developers. We place an emphasis on hiring for fit as opposed to skills. Skills are something that we can teach and foster through mentorship and just experience. Fit on the other hand, it's harder to define, but we've outlined some of the traits we're looking for on our careers page at jmg.mn/careers. So whether you have one year of experience, or 20 years of experience, if you're interested in talking with us, please reach out at email@example.com. We'll put that email address and a link to the careers page in our show notes as well.
Today, we're chatting with J.C. Granger, CEO of infinity Marketing Group, a digital marketing firm that specializes in driving new revenue for b2b tech companies. J.C. is also the host of the Future of Biz Tech podcast, and he has gleaned a lot of insights from his interviews with leaders of software companies. So without further ado, here is my interview with J.C. Granger.
J.C., welcome to the show.
J.C. Granger 1:34
Hey, thanks for having me. Appreciate it.
Tim Bornholdt 1:36
We've got our throats cleared. We're all ready to roll here. Why don't you give me a little bit of background about yourself and about Infinity Marketing Group?
J.C. Granger 1:42
Oh, geez, I don't know how far back you want me to go. Are we going like to the womb, are we going more like when I started the company?
Tim Bornholdt 1:49
As far as as far back as you think it's contextually relevant.
J.C. Granger 1:55
Well, I'll tell you this. I've been doing digital marketing for about 21 years. I think it's maybe existed for 24. So if that ages me any, there's that. I started my agency a little over 10 years ago, and I'm just that geek from the Bay Area, right? You know, I was that kid, you know, in my dad's basement hacking AOL when I was 12. Right? Which wasn't that challenging, as it turns out. It was a terrible system. But so, you know, I really got the software, you know. I loved all that stuff. And, you know, once I got into marketing, my agency, we specialize in b2b software companies, so I kind of just went with my passion when it came to who we wanted to help out.
So yeah, you know, I've got a 15 year old daughter, almost 16, which is crazy to me. And, you know, I'm almost 40 myself, you know, so I guess that is the actual age instead of aging me. But yeah, I live in Denver, Colorado right now. And we've got a pretty awesome expert team. And, you know, we really just like to help out software companies. And you know, that's our jam. M personally I'm more of an email marketing guy. And that's kind of where I've always been, and you know, they said that email was going to die like 10 years ago. I was like, it's not going anywhere. Like, it's still not, right. It's still like the number one thing for b2b, period, right? All roads still lead back to email at some point. So that's kind my personal expertise as well.
Tim Bornholdt 3:15
You mentioned hacking around on AOL. So I got to ask, what were some of your top screen names that you had back in the day?
J.C. Granger 3:23
Oh, man. So I don't know if you're coming from a point of, did you do any of this? Like, do you remember these software's that we use to...
Tim Bornholdt 3:30
Maybe I'll neither confirm nor deny.
J.C. Granger 3:35
Yeah. I could tell you might now what I'm talking about here. There was one called Pepsi I really liked, right. So for anyone listening. Back in the mid 90s, when AOL had come out, you know, you had chat rooms, right? You had AOL Instant Messenger, like built in and whatnot. And so, you know, this is the first time you could pirate stuff. I remember one time I pirated the American Pie movie a year before it came out. It was so pirated that at the bottom of the screen, it said, Property of Universal, and at the end, it said, Roll Credits Here, and I was like, Wow, that's really pirated.
We used to do stuff like where we would, you know, we were kids, and, you know, it was the internet age just coming out. And, you know, we had software that, you know, we could post that someone else or if we didn't like someone we could like, we called it aim bombing. I don't if you remember this, but like, you can send 1000 instant messages, like instantaneously, and it will just shut their computer off. Like it was bad. Like, I don't condone this, by the way, I was 12. Okay, like, give me a break. You know, I don't condone this. So nobody should do these types of things anymore. But that's the kind of era that we were in. We were just figuring stuff out and then we figured out how to break into chat rooms in between chat rooms, like they didn't really exist. They were, it was like we could modify AOL's Chat Room Systems. So we'd create our own and then people would just upload files. It was a potluck man. Like right now if you want to go download something illegally, you can do it, you can search for the title. And you'll get that one thing, right? And it'll even show what the ratings are, how many people downloaded that thing. Is it really that thing? You can virus check it if you want to, it's actually pretty safe. If that's what you wanted to do. I don't see the point. Everything's streaming on, you know, for $9 a month, you can have all the content in the world on Netflix, but the point being is you could still do it. Back then, people would just upload files, and zip files, you just downloaded the whole thing just to see what you got, like it was completely random. How chaotic is that? Like, that's insane if you think about.
Tim Bornholdt 5:37
Especially back on our parents 56k or 28A modems. You basically have to get home from school, start the download, hopefully No one calls you in the three hours it takes to download the 10 megabyte zip file with like six horribly compressed mp3s in it. And then it's really like potpourri of like, well, I got one of the 10 things. And then you had to have the challenge of you have a one gigabyte hard drive. So how do you store and choose? Yeah, like you have to choose which of these horribly encoded songs you're gonna hold on to. I know nothing about this. By the way, this is all pure conjecture.
J.C. Granger 6:19
Yeah. Of course now. You read about it online somewhere.
Tim Bornholdt 6:22
Oh, yeah. Yeah, I didn't live it every day for my whole childhood leading me to to this moment. But I love that, establishing that nerd cred early on. Because yeah, it's funny, like, these days, there's really no point to piracy. But it was back in that day, it was still you had all of these record studios and movie labels that did not see the appeal of digital and did the best they could to keep everything off of that because they wanted to sell physical copies of stuff. And people were like, No. And to boot, CDs. Okay, so back in the day, we used to have these things called albums. And it was 14 songs, one of which you wanted, the other 13 were crap. And you had to buy the entire CD in order to get the one song that you wanted. And this was every artist, right? Where nowadays, like if you go on, you can just find the one song that you wanted off that album, put it on a playlist and you're done.
J.C. Granger 7:22
Kids have no idea the struggle that we went through. But you know what they also don't know though. Here's the best part. So my daughter, of course, you know, when she grew up, she grew up with an iPhone in her hand. Right now she can call anyone but you know, we used to put educational apps and stuff on it and whatnot. But you know, they grew up with Internet in hand. I can tell you're probably roughly around my same age since we have these similar stories. You know, we didn't. There was as a point where when one day we were using pager code, right, we had pagers, and we had pager code to text our friends. That's how you text your friends. It was like a little code for them to call you back, but you knew what they were going to say.
And then one day we had the Internet, and we're almost teenagers, and out of nowhere, we could just get online and do stuff. So it was this gold rush of like, holy crap, what is this? And we were old enough to do something with it. We were old enough to be curious and to go dive in. And I remember the addiction level. I mean, it was like they basically gave internet intravenously right? Like it was in a needle. AOL it just had branded needles. You just throw it in your arm because it was so addicting.
I remember one point, my dad literally took the computer from downstairs and put it in his master bedroom, right. Basically it was like I had to rent time. He was like, Listen, you want to be on this thing now, then you know, he could control it. He would say, Okay, you can go upstairs to my room and you can get on the internet. Right? One time I was so addicted to this that at one time, him and my stepmom were asleep. They were asleep in bed. Like two in the morning, I literally snuck into their room. The computer is, I am not kidding you, is three feet from their bed. I took a pillow with me. It looked like I was going in to smother them and I wasn't. What I was doing was I went in there to put the pillow on the back of the computer because when you dial in, what's that crazy noise dialing in on a phone line basically, right, the 56k. I would smother the sound of this. I turned the screen brightness all the way down. I am sitting there three feet from sleeping parents on the internet, like, kids will never understand. I got used to it later in life like as a preteen. It's insane.
Tim Bornholdt 9:36
I think what's so ironic about that story is I have, now I go back to my parents' house and I'll drop my kids off and they watch them sometimes. And when I pop in and just do an unexpected pop in, both of them have clearly not moved from their chairs for hours sitting on Facebook or doing whatever. And it's like, I don't understand how we've gone from this, like, weird switch of like, you know, our parents would constantly tell us like, Don't trust people on the internet, whatever you read on the internet is not true. Wikipedia, that can't be a real thing, because it's not like fact checkable. And now you've got like entire political institutions are being brought down, because those same people that were giving us that advice are spreading memes and disinformation and can't tell the difference. How do you square that in your head? Like, how do you make it so like the same people that were teaching us like, don't put a credit card in on the internet because someone is going to steal your identity now, like, willingly fill out a surveyand giveaway all of your privacy. It's so maddening.
J.C. Granger 10:42
Yeah, just like most of history, you know, we trade privacy for convenience, right? That's kind of always away. You can go as far back as you want, doesn't matter. Doesn't matter what the technology is. Privacy versus convenience has always been a thing, you know, in human nature. And listen, I'm not gonna lie, I'm one of them. I get people want to be super private, and you should. There's a lot of data that should not be out there. I also consider myself a realist, by now, and this happened a long time ago, before I ever thought about privacy. My information was gone so long ago, right? Like, I can't get that back. And with our systems the way they are, there are things that are just public record anyway, like your cell phone is out there, because it's pretty much the only number you have. So you used to have the white pages where people could look up your home line. And then when you got cell phones, well, that was a private number. Well, now no one has private or home lines. So now, it's actually a lot easier. Just you can go on and Google someone and get their cell phone number, because that's the only number attached to them. Right? So it's very public in that sense. You know, my Facebook, I trade, I'm sure, whatever privacy and stats I'm giving away to Facebook, I trade because, you know, I live in Colorado, and a lot of my family's spread around, you know, the US, you know, Louisiana, Connecticut, Maui, you know, in Hawaii. So that's how they keep up with me, you know, and what I'm doing in my life. So I understand, you know, the privacy stuff and data, but I gotta tell you, I think my stuff has been out there for so long, that now I'm like, you know what, if it's already out there, just give me the convenience, okay, just give it to me. So I can like live just an easier life. Like, if you're going to have it, fine, keep it, just give me the fun stuff.
Tim Bornholdt 11:07
And I think that's fair, if you are someone that's been a technologist since they were smothering dial up modem sounds, you know, as a youth, but for our parents who weren't and don't understand these privacy trade offs, like it's so frustrating, as a technologist, seeing people make these trade offs that they don't know about, and don't have the choice. Where like, you know, most people that I know that continue to post on Facebook and share those memes, you know, they would probably classify themselves as libertarian, and they would, from like a political standpoint, again, would probably view this as an invasion of privacy, but they don't even know about it. And it's comforting, I guess, to me to see that people, I guess, in 2021, are starting to become aware of this. And there have been, like, you know, antitrust and other things like regulations coming down, because it's like this stuff has just dropped in our laps. You mentioned, like you are at the precipice of digital marketing, because this is so young and so fresh in the history of human evolution, right. And I think this is just something I've been grappling with for the last few months of just like, how do you reconcile? How can humans who have not been evolved to have this type of change, all of a sudden have to have this like, you need to evolve and stay with the times? And if you don't, like you are going to be seriously left behind?
J.C. Granger 13:34
Well, I think the danger, here's where I will say where the privacy thing becomes a real problem. Okay, you know, I say more in jest, like, Hey, you already have it, keep it, just give me the fun stuff. But on a bigger scale, here's where the issue is. When you have Cambridge Analytica, for example, right, where people realize that they had 1000s of data points per person, right? I can't think of 1000s of traits I have on my own. I know five things about myself. Okay. Cambridge Analytica probably knew more about me than I will ever truly understand about myself. And that is a real statement of fact, right? That's the thing.
So my degree's in psychology. So I understand how, you know, human nature works. I understand how, you know, self awareness works and personality traits. And the amount of data they had, where the danger becomes is when a company has so much data, that they're not just responding to the market, that they're actually starting to move it. And that's where it becomes a problem. And this is what happened. And so where I will say that I have a huge issue with data privacy is when too many data points are shared, especially among these big data companies. And they start, you know, collating all this data about you, especially with AI coming out. AI has the ability to take all these data points and not just say, okay, J.C. watched this show. So let's show him this ad. That I appreciate. I don't want to see diaper ads if I don't have a toddler or a baby, right? I don't need to see that. I don't need to see Ferrari ads if I can't afford a Ferrari, right? So I like having my ads tailored to me, I do. And I'm a marketer, so I can appreciate that.
Here's what I don't like. I don't like the idea of them knowing so much about me that they can create a systematic flow of information that is tailored to push my mind into a different arena. And especially when it comes to politics, that's where it becomes dangerous. It's one thing to say, hey, let's make him want to like Toyota, more than Mitsubishi, right? Fine, whatever. Okay. Great, great cars. Sure. All right, you know, make me a Toyota guy or make me a GMC guy versus Ford, okay, whatever. But when you have that much data on someone, and you can start pushing their mind, because by the way, our minds are very pushable. They are. If you have the right set of information in the right order, and you're hitting the right psychological key points, you can absolutely manipulate someone over time to view things in a certain way. And that's where the Cambridge Analytica became a problem, because they picked a side. And then they push people to that side. They can literally push world politics and you know, and geopolitical issues. You can start wars that way. It's crazy. So that's where I, that's where I have to start coming back and saying, okay, that's too much, right? You want to show me cool ads that I like, great. You want to start pushing my mind towards the left or towards the right, that's when it becomes a legitimate problem. And we really do have to be careful about that. Because when you combine data point technology with artificial intelligence, it can literally come up with the perfect formula to push anyone in any direction they want. And that is absolutely a problem.
Tim Bornholdt 16:41
Absolutely. And I think it's, I guess, I'm trying to figure out what would you like, how do we solve this problem? Like, is this like legislative, is this like society? Because it feels like you can't shame anyone like that. That social tool has kind of flown out the window. So like, does it start with awareness? And just telling people that this is what's going on? Or like, I don't know, do you have any answers?
J.C. Granger 17:12
I'm going to give you the really, really crappy answer. The crappy answer is we've already passed the point of recovery and what we have to do now is hope that the right people are in a position to have this equation. Chopping it up legislatively, the simple answer is legislatively, yes. Right. But see legislatively assumes that the people who make the legislation have not already been pushed in this direction themselves. Remember, every day that goes by, people get a little older, which means that you have new younger politicians coming in, but they are the victims of it also. So when the victim is when making the policy, how the hell do you stop that? Right? So you know, if this was something that we could have taken care of, you know, 5, 6, 7 years ago, sure. We had a shot at it. Now, we might just get lucky. Honestly, we're going to have to depend on luck.
Right now, you know, as of today, anyway, there's legislation, and it's very bipartisan, which is interesting, one of the few bipartisan things in America. Chopping up some of the big tech has benefits for both sides. Right. Republicans like it, because if they could chop up big tech, you know, their main complaint right now is that, you know, they think that they're being censored, right? Democrats don't like big tech, because they don't like monopolies. Right? So because it's more of a labor thing for them historically. Right. So bipartisan, they actually are all on the same page as far as trying to, if they can, anyway, try to split up Facebook, for example, and have their entity split up. So if you can split up this data, and it's not shared in between itself, that helps. Okay, because, you know, Facebook, you know, listen, to their credit, you know, they understood this a long time ago. They said, Well, okay, we know how people are acting on social media, because we own Facebook, and we were the big dogs in that. Okay, so we understand how to do it in social media. But what are they doing when they're texting people? So they bought WhatsApp? Right? They didn't understand how people were doing private one to one because people weren't usually using Facebook Messenger like they were using WhatsApp, right. That gave them an international pull. So there's a lot of data points there. They added those data points to the Facebook data points. And then all of a sudden Instagram came up, and that was the younger crowd. It was more image based, right? So it's like, well, what kind of things do people visually like? And how are they reacting? Right? You know, so they grab Instagram, right? So now they have those data points. So I think the problem is not for example, quote, Facebook as a platform. Facebook as a platform has a lot of data points, but it's still limited to certain avenues. And I don't think that that just Facebook alone would be dangerous enough, but when they start buying up all these other companies and adding those data points together, now they have so much information. And they have one giant platform and arms a different platform so they can start pushing it out and integrating it, that becomes a problem. So legislatively if you can split up their ability to share the information across platforms, if legislativively they said, Listen, you can own WhatsApp. You can own Instagram and you can own Facebook. But those data cannot be shared and cannot be correlated at a top and then used to, you know, make actions and send information and showcase certain things, right. You can keep those separate. And people will say, Well, how do you know they're doing it? Well, that's really would. I mean, the fact is that the penalties is pretty large, if you don't, because they can just essentially break you up completely, if you're not following that. My point is, is that if you can split the data, then you have a better shot. It's when all the data comes together, that it becomes very dangerous.
Tim Bornholdt 20:32
Yeah, and Facebook's a very easy target. But you can look at any big tech company that has all those, like Apple is, even though they're very privacy centric, certainly has access to all those points. And all it takes is a policy change internally. And I guess it'd be a pretty monumental culture shift. But still, it would just take the wrong person being in charge to all of a sudden say, Hey, we can make way more money if we start like actually listening in on your Siri conversations or whatever. And you look at Amazon, you look at Google, gosh, I don't know how Google was lower on that list than they were. But yeah, it's just if you own the search engine, and you know, what everybody's searching for, and you have access to where they're going. I think, like you alluded to earlier, humans are really bad at understanding large amounts of data. And think that because I can't correlate, you know, 12 different data points about myself to make a profile. Just because I can't do that as a human doesn't mean computer do that. In fact, computers are purpose built to do that. So like,I agree, I think that's a really great point of if you can separate the data and keep it siloed, then at the very least, you're still getting to your point of being able to target somebody with a specific ad because it meets their interest. That makes a whole lot of sense. But as soon as you're using that data to move them in one direction or another, as you said, people can be persuaded very easily and you know, it's not instantly overnight. It's over the course of, you know, say, how long has Facebook been around? 12 years, 15 years, something like that. 20 years? Who knows. I guess that's a lookupable fact. But either way, they've been around long enough that they have so much data on you. And if you've been daily scrolling through the feeds, like they're doing stuff, like, as soon as you stop like the finger scroll and look at something, they know that. When you go back in to look up something, they know that. When you go in at certain times of day, they're noting that. They're making an exact point of view and figuring out how to do all that.
J.C. Granger 22:41
They know when you're gonna break up with your girlfriend. I mean, like, think about that for a second. I didn't say they know when you've broken up with your girlfriend. I'm telling you, they know when you're going to, right, because and, you know, we are creatures of habit. But we don't recognize our own habits, right. That's why we have therapists. Therapists can tell us our habits, because they're looking from the outside in. They're asking a bunch of questions over time. They're like, hey, looks like you've got this pattern here. You're like, oh, wow, thanks for letting me know that. Now I get that. A computer by Facebook knew that a long time ago. They understand because they got literally billions, with a capital B, of users to watch human behavior over time. And they know that, hey, when these certain things start happening in this order, this is the most likely outcome. There's a reason why, if anyone listening, this is where it gets creepy, right? You know, if you start fighting with your girlfriend or boyfriend or your husband or your wife, they know when you're gonna cheat, probably, right, the probability anyway. It's not like they're psychic, but then you all of sudden start getting ads for you know, these cheating websites. How about this, if you want to know what you're going to do, just look at the ads you start getting from Facebook, right? They already know. They figured it out before you do. They know when you're going to get a promotion. They know when you're gonna make more money. They know when you are making more money, just because the things you're looking at that cost more, your buying habits, the keywords are using in chat on their stuff. It's like there's someone standing there looking at your profile. It's just mass metadata being put together, but it gets really creepy in that sense. And again, I'm okay with them understanding things about me and serving me up information ads that are relevant. But if they know too much, and they start pushing me in a direction, now that's a problem because for example, what if, for example, they were gonna make a lot of money, let's say, they had a certain price point on, what was it, was it Ashley Madison? What was that website that like, cheater's website?
Tim Bornholdt 24:26
J.C. Granger 24:27
Yeah. Okay. So remember that Ashley Madison, everyone, you know, they got hacked. Good. I'm happy about that. I'm not usually happy about hacks. That one was a good one. That was a win for everybody. But point is, let's say they were getting a certain price point on that, in the algorithm's best interest if you haven't cheated yet, but you're showing signs of cheating, it's actually in the algorithm's best interest to serve you up things that will make it easier for you to do so. Because if you sign up for Ashley Madison, right, they're making more money off that now. Right? And so that's where it becomes dangerous. It's not, do they respond to what you're already doing? If you're already cheating, they're like, Hey, listen, you're already cheating, check out this website, you know. Fair enough, okay. But if they're like, hey, this person is about to cheat, check out this website. Massive issue. That's where that tipping point becomes pushing versus responding. And, you know, I have a really, really big issue with that. And that's where it becomes dangerous, which is why this data needs to be siloed and kept separate, right. You can't stop the flow of data. It's going to happen. We give it voluntarily, because we want to, because we want to share things and show things and we want to see relevant ads. We want to, you know, get promotions for cool vacations. When we know our vacation time is coming up, or maybe just right after we got, you know, a refund from the IRS or whatever, we want to see those. They really do. But to push the market is so extremely dangerous, because humans are in charge of that. And it really just is a roll of the dice of which human, right, versus someone who's ethical, or the person who wants to see the whole world burned down. Because they can absolutely make that happen with enough data, being able to push out, you know, a thought and an idea to people. And we've already seen this happen. Right, you know, not to get too political. But I mean, I think it's pretty obvious which groups in America specifically have been very enabled and pushed in a certain direction. We are more polarized in our politics now than we ever have been. There's barely a middle to even be heard of. It's just far left, far right. And it's like, how do you think that happened? We just woke up one day, we all just changed our minds? Absolutely not. I mean, our behavior didn't change. We got pushed in these directions. And then we held on to it. And now we're cemented in it.
Tim Bornholdt 26:40
One thing I wanted to go back because we're already halfway through this interview, and I haven't even asked you a single question on my list. Which is awesome. I can never get enough of talking with somebody about privacy, especially somebody like you who's in marketing, and you know all of these tricks. And it's like something where I throw something out, you throw something out. It's things that I think people need to be aware about. But one thing you mentioned is like, you know, being on Facebook, when you're voluntarily going through and telling Facebook, hey, I'm super into Space Jam, hey, I'm super into swimming, whatever, when you're going in and making those markers in their platforms, great. But what a lot of people don't realize is different website owners will put trackers on their website for Facebook pixels and so when you're signed in, Facebook is literally following you. And I'm not just again singling out Facebook. Google is also very pervasive in this with Google Analytics. And with all the other systems that they have, they are following you around the internet, every website you go to, every at least major website you go to, is going to have this information on there. Because first of all, Facebook will give that information back to whoever's hosting this platform in the form of, hey, here's what your users are seeing. But you cannot tell me that Facebook is not taking every single thing that you do around the internet and throwing it in your profile as additional data points. I'm not going to believe that for half a second. So there's one thing to be said about you voluntarily giving up that information as you're going about your business on Facebook. But what a lot of people don't realize is you're also giving up a lot of your information just visiting the news websites and information websites, just entertainment, all that stuff. Every single one of those websites, I guarantee you has the Facebook tracker on it and is watching what you're doing at the very least. Not even maybe watching specifically what you're doing. But noting that you went to that and feeding that into their algorithms.
J.C. Granger 28:33
Absolutely. I guess we should get to one of the questions here. But let's start with number 1. 25 minutes in, question number one, here we go.
Tim Bornholdt 28:43
This is what we in the biz call a smooth transition.
J.C. Granger 28:46
Tim Bornholdt 28:48
J.C. Granger 28:49
Queue the violins.
Tim Bornholdt 28:51
So all this way in, we mentioned way back that you work with, the company that you own is Infinity Marketing Group. Why do you focus just on tech companies? Is that because niches get riches? Or is there another reason why you stick with just focusing on helping tech companies with their marketing?
J.C. Granger 29:09
Well, I'll tell you. The riches is in the niches, you know, that is a true thing. It really is. But I've never really been money focused when it comes to that. And I don't, like our company, we don't have revenue goals. You know, that sounds really stupid to some people. But we believe that the money comes when you're passionate about what you do, you're great at it, and you get results for the client, right? So the money is the result, not the goal. The goal is to be remarkable for the client, right? It's to give them everything they hope and dream, right, and the money will come from that.
So why tech? Well, again, like I said, you know, at a certain point, you know, most agencies start off as the accidental agency, right, where, you know, when I started, all we did, you know, because I started to spend more time with my daughter. She was four years old at the time. And, you know, I was making six figures at some, you know, tax firm, you know, as a marketing director but I was working 14 hours. I was missing a lot of you know, her life. And I said, you know, screw this, and I just quit one day, which I don't recommend just quitting your job. Like, don't do what I did, by the way, like, that was very risky. But it was for me, it's how I am. And you know, and it paid off, though, you know. I was working like 20 hours a week for years, you know, but I got to, you know, be the only dad chaperone at the school field trips. I got to go to the school lunches where they allowed parents to come and sit with their kids. And it was awesome, right? I got to go to every gymnastics practice, right. And not just the competition, like the practices, I got to watch it like every time, you know, for an hour. Just it worked out. It was great. I got everything I wanted out of being an initial business owner.
But the first thing that we did was all we did at the time was, you know, you had these big websites, and you had smartphones and smartphones had advanced so fast that everyone was on their smartphone, looking at websites, but none of the websites were mobile optimized. Right. So there was this like, good two year period where everyone just kept zooming in to do anything on a website on their phone. So all we did was convert big sites to little sites, basically, right? So we would go to like a flowers.com type of site, where we had like a flower company and they had like 1000 pages. And they're like, we want people to be able to order on the mobile, but it's so hard for them to do that. So all we did first was just mobile optimized big websites. But then we got really good at that. And they said, Hey, can you make a regular website for us? We're like, yeah, sure, that's not too far off. So we would do that. And then they'd say, hey, that's really cool. Can you make this video? Or can you do social media? We're like, Yeah, sure. So we just kept saying yes to everything, and we became the accidental agency, this full service agency who didn't specialize in anything for anyone, right. And that's how it starts.
But, you know, over time, you kind of realize, you know, well, I don't like working with that industry that much. Or it's just, you know, it's boring to me, so I don't want to work with them. And I don't like providing this service because it's way too complicated, doesn't have a big ROI. And I'm just not passionate about it. So you start dialing in over time. If you make it to the point where I did in my agency, you eventually get down to offer specific services for specific companies. And when I made that pivot to b2b tech, it was because, again, I just found myself nerding out in my mid 30s, you know, at b2b software. I was obsessed with any software that could help speed up my processes internally or for clients, right. And so b2b software was all there was. I just remember one day, I had just fallen down this software rabbit hole, right. I probably killed four hours of my work day just checking out these really cool software's that had like automation tools, like this is so awesome. And it just dawned on me, I was like, these are the companies that I want to help because I'm just so passionate about it. I do it on my own time. And I get it, you know, I came from that industry. I grew up in San Jose, you know, Mountain View, Palo Alto. Right, that's how I grew up. You know, that's where, you know, I really got into into the software stuff. So, you know, we eventually started doing that.
And then we really started to go, I like lead gen. I like getting big wins for companies, right? So we really focused on like LinkedIn marketing and email marketing, right? Because those things are direct result things for b2b lead gen. So really, now, you know, fast forwarding 10 years in my business, we specialize in b2b lead gen for software companies, right? Do we take on companies from other industries from referrals? Absolutely. I've got a roofing client. Right? How random is that? But they heard about us, and we did a good job. So you know, they said, Hey, can you do it for us? We're like, yeah, sure, of course. So you know, our capabilities and our skills can apply to any industry. We just go after that b2b tech because we really love it.
Tim Bornholdt 33:44
I really love the accidental agency phrase because it matches up very perfectly with how we started. When we just decided, hey, we want to build mobile apps. And then all of a sudden, it was, Hey, can you like, you know, help us host them as well? And then build servers? It's like, yeah, we can do that. That's not too far off. And then hey, can you help us market our apps? And yeah, I guess it's app adjacent. So I guess we can do that.
J.C. Granger 34:12
We did apps. It was a nightmare. I'll never do it again. I'll never do it again.
Tim Bornholdt 34:16
What do you mean, you won't do apps? You're on an app developers podcast, and you're telling me that you would never do mobile apps again. I have to hear this story and why you would never do mobile apps again.
J.C. Granger 34:28
Well, so here's why. So when we started, we did apps, you know, again, accident agency. Someone's like, Hey, can you do an app? We're like, Sure. So I ended up hiring like this team out of India, you know, which in itself is not necessarily a bad move. It's just a very complicated one that if you don't know exactly how to hire an overseas team, especially out of India or whatnot, it can be a bad experience. And the team itself wasn't really that bad. It's just that the communication took forever. I didn't understand like, I wasn't a developer, right. Like I knew enough code to hang myself with and that was about it. Right? But I also found that working with clients back then anyway, was very hard. Like we didn't have the right target demographic, right? Remember I said we'd just do apps for anyone.
And so there was this one client came to us who wanted an app for like, it was like a trucking company. And they wanted an app for an internal app for this stuff. Right? And so it's really complicated. I think where our issue was was that we thought it was going to be, you know, this type of issue, as far as, you know, how long is it going to take, how much work. And we grossly underestimated the client's, or overestimated the client's expertise on even what they wanted, right? And how long it would take them to get things back to us or approve things. And we started getting in these situations where the app process was just dragging on so long, that we had a situation once where by the time the client finally was approving things and getting, you know, feedback that, from the time that we started versus the time that we were at at that point, there had been massive changes already in the OS, whether it was iOS or Android, where we would have to go back and redo the beginning now. We would produce this whole app, and it was six months later, we're still working on it. And now it's worthless, because now we have to make it optimized for this new iOS update; otherwise, it's not gonna work on these, you know, phones. And it was insane. You know, and I mean, it was big money, but it was also these big peaks and valleys, you know. So it was just so much stress. And I was like, you know, what, if we're gonna do apps, we have to be just an app company. And I didn't want to be an app company. Right? I really liked marketing. I liked the residual aspect. I like doing the monthly tasks and having predictable income as an agency, right? There's nothing predictable about app income. It's like website design, like, you're either up or you're down, right, like you're big money in, or you're doing the work. And that's that. And it was just all these peaks and valleys, and it was chaotic. And I just got so fed up. I was like, You know what? We're not doing anymore. And like I'll refer people any day of the week, right, but we market app though. So the good news is because we used to actually build apps, and we are a marketing agency, we're actually good at marketing apps, right? So the good news is that if someone comes to us with an app, we know the strategies and what to do, even to this day, right? Because again, we work with software companies and software does fall under apps, you know, some apps, some software is comes in app form. We just don't build apps anymore, because that part, I mean, hats off to you if you do it, because I cannot handle that. I'll market it. But I'm not building any of them anymore, ever again.
Tim Bornholdt 37:39
Well, you've got a new contact of someone you can turn to next time you've got that problem, because that's what I do all day, every day, is deal with apps. And I was just chuckling as you were going down that list of like communication was an issue, a new OS comes out and screws up everything you just worked on. The part about overestimating client's understanding of what they want is another one where it's like, oh, my God, this guy's reading my mind. So yeah, I totally empathize with you on that. So if someone comes to you with an app, you, first of all, you can send them to me, but you would normally shy away from that. Where do you find tech companies, when they first come to you, you know, need the most help when it comes to reaching their audience, promoting their services? Just generally, where do you find most companies are lacking in that department?
J.C. Granger 37:40
I gotta tell you, it's the cold outreach. Listen, most software companies are actually really, really good at selling their client, their prospects once they have the prospect. They really are. I've met very few software companies that didn't have a really good website, right, that they didn't have a really good product. They always have good demos, you know, all that stuff. So you know, once someone who gets there, if they have a need for that service, they're really good at being able to convert that person. Where I find that software companies struggle is, they struggle with lead gen, right. They struggle with putting the right message in front of the right person at the right time that's never heard of them before. Right? They struggle with the people who have never heard of them. Because it's a very competitive market. I don't care what software you have. The odds of you having a software so niche that you don't have any competitors right now is very low. Right? Most people enter a market that's already gonna be very, very competitive.
And, you know, most software companies are born of software people, right. So let's think about this personality type here, right? I said I had an accidental agency. Well, you know what, a lot of software engineers become accidental software companies. Right?
Tim Bornholdt 39:42
J.C. Granger 39:42
Because right? Yeah, cause they were, you know, coding for some other company. And they come up with a cool idea that solves a problem. That's great, right? And they're like, Alright, well, hey, we're gonna build this app. If we build it, they will come. If we build this software as a service, they will come. And listen, again, their idea is brilliant, and their execution is great. And then they get there, and they're like, Yay. Okay, Where is everyone? Like no one showed up to the party. It's like, yeah, because that's, well, here's the thing I tell software couples. I'm like listen, 80% of your equation of success after you built the thing is marketing. Because where else is your overhead going? Right? I mean, you got your own salary? Sure, you got some, you know, customer service, you know, now and if you have enough clients to even rationalize customer service at that point that's beyond yourself. But really, after you built it, what is there? What, server costs? Like it's a really low yield, you know, low overhead company model, if you think about. You're not a warehouse company, right? You're not an e commerce, we got to, you know, house all this stuff and buy a bunch of products first, and then sell it out and pay shipping costs. So you don't have all that. You're digital? Which is to your advantage.
Your disadvantage is that, typically speaking, a lot of software companies are born from software engineers, which their mindset is more technical. It's not as creative. It's not as you know, conversing, right. I was that weird hybrid. I was the kid who could hack a well, but I can also have a conversation like, you know. I was kind of popular, not like in the weird, you know, clique sense, but just like, you know, people liked me. I was just fun. I could bounce around to different groups, you know, that's not really normal for people who are hackers. Right? We can all look at the cliche and say, yeah, that's pretty close. Right? So I think the biggest issue that software companies have is that they're born of software engineers, which have a very specific mindset. And the mindset is fantastic when it comes to building the product, and having the better service. It's not that great when it comes to talking about it, right, when it comes to getting out there. And so I realized that that was a big need, right? And so because I understand both sides of that equation, I was like, well, we can help with that. And we do, right, so I bring in, my company brings in that part of a software compnay that they need that they don't have typically in their own tool set. Because most of the things I've been working on is the product itself. And so we bring in the ability to say, hey, great product. Now, here's what we have to say. And who we have to say it too.
Now once we start bringing that flow of interested people, again, software companies are really good at converting after that point, typically. I don't usually find a whole lot of crazy things they're doing wrong. There's always ways to optimize, right, and we say, Oh, you know, let's add a video here, let's maybe, you know, do a demo over there, you know, let's add some call to action links here. But those are minor things, right, they help with conversion. Overall, my client software's are really, really great, you know, their websites look really, really good. They just don't know how to get anyone to that point, where they're going to buy. So for us, the biggest thing that we've really found is that, that lead gen, that cold outreach to a very laser targeted market, providing that psychological ad copy, right, and sales copy, to walk that prospect through and really hit on the points, their pain points and how this software is their solution. And that's what we specialize in, right. We bring all the horses to water. And then the software company makes the horses drink. Right? Our job is to bring them to the water.
Tim Bornholdt 42:57
I think. I mean, again, you made a ton of good points. I really, again, appreciated the most engineers become accidental entrepreneurs. And I think most engineers also tend to think very, well, let's see. How do I say this diplomatically. Most engineers think of themselves in a very high regard and think of any other businessy person, you know, say a marketer or a salesperson or customer support, as a second or third class citizen within an organization. And that's something that I've seen in my career time and time again just tank companies is when you really overestimate how great and powerful your engineering staff is. But you don't put an emphasis on the other people that are helping get people in the door and using your product. So I thought that was a really astute point.
One question that I had for you around this whole concept is, you know, we're struggling ourselves with cold calling and with doing that kind of outreach on the front. And I wonder, are there like universal tips? Or I'm sure you have a proven methodology for helping tease some of this stuff out. But like, what would be some of the first steps that you lead a company through when they are struggling with like messaging or how do you like reach out to an organization? Because from from my standpoint, again, like running an app development company, I've always found it very weird to just go up and, like 3M's in our backyard, for example, just like knocking on the front door of 3M and being like, Hey, you got any apps you need built? Like I don't think that's going to prove to be a very successful strategy. But I mean, that's what we do is we build custom software for people. And like you had said before, most people don't even know what they want when it comes to custom software. So like, what would be, using me as a guinea pig, for example, or my company, like, what would be like the first step that you would take to getting us to, you know, look at the situation differently, I guess?
J.C. Granger 44:59
Yeah, well the first one is there's two lanes to go into, because there's two main services that I personally like a lot when it comes to b2b lead gen, right. I like LinkedIn outreach, and I like email marketing outreach. Okay, now, which one do you fall into? You can do both. Don't get me wrong. But if you had to pick the first one to start with, it's gonna depend on your price point, right? How big is your win? If you are a company that's selling, like I said, for you, for example, let's say that the minimum app you even touch or software that you build, you're like, Listen, we're not going to take a project for less than $100,000. Right. And I've worked with companies that are like that, right. There was a company in downtown Denver that I worked with, you know, years ago, where that was their bottom line. They're like, we are the high end app company. We only work with these, you know, fortune 1000, fortune 5000 companies who can afford, you know, these big, you know, infrastructure type of apps and whatnot, right. So for them, for example, LinkedIn would be a better shot. Because in LinkedIn, you can build a relationship that takes longer, right, but the amount of information you have on each individual person you're reaching out to is a lot. There's a lot of ways to customize it, right. And you can have your own profile. They can see who you are as a human face, you have a history, so when you're trying to build, if you have a bigger way, if you're doing enterprise level sales, basically, you know, for whatever your product or service is, I really recommend LinkedIn. Because those types of deals are done with relationship building, okay, over time. It helps you get on that phone call. You can get those meetings, you know. You're probably a six month sales cycle minimum. Some people are two years sales cycles, depending how big this win is. I've worked with companies that do Microsoft Dynamics, you know, implementation for Fortune 1000, right. These are $300,000 contracts. So you know, if it takes them, you know, six months to a year to get one, that's fine for them. And they only need one, right? So from my point of view, as a marketing agency, I got to tell you, the bar is set really low for me, right? Because if all the efforts I do in a whole year only get them one deal, they love us, right. And I can get them way more than one deal. Like I can get them way more leads that'll give them way more than one deal. But LinkedIn is really a great spot. Because again, you can build those, you know, relationships slowly and methodically, and they become deeper connections, right? And that's how you get those enterprise level deals.
Now, let's say you're a software company, or maybe, we're gonna keep using you, for example, actually, use your app company. Let's say, you deal with small apps, maybe you work with, do a little game apps or something for, you know, startup companies, right? So maybe it only would cost 15,000 or 20,000, or something, okay, and you have like a payment plan for it, whatever, okay. Well, then, honestly, I think that email marketing would be better. And this also works really good for like SAS companies cause their price point is like, you know, $50 a month or $100 a month, right? I think that taking the time to reach out to individuals and talk with them on LinkedIn could provide an upside down equation. I think you'd be spending too much on labor. And the time that it would take a salesperson to close someone at $50 a month. You know, really if you're going to take that kind of time and be that very specific, you're probably going to have bigger wins if you're doing it. But email marketing can be great because you can either a, buy really good list, or b, you can procure your own list. There's softwares out there, what's that one where, geez, I'm trying to remember it. I just talked to someone about the most popular one where you have a subscription, and you can export these emails every day. I'll remember the name later. But there's a really popular one people use, if anyone remembers.
Tim Bornholdt 48:31
There's probably like five marketers listening to this right now just screaming at their screens.
J.C. Granger 48:36
They're screaming it at me right now. Like, I just can't remember. Anyway, there's plenty of softwares out there where you can subscribe and you can, you know, put in your target demographic, and you can scrape these emails, you know, over time. So you can either build your own list. Or you can buy a list right. Now, even though, you've got to clean the list, right? So then you got to put it through something like, we like Bulk Email Checker. That's a really good one, right? And then you're going to be left with a certain amount of emails. Now, once you have your emails, then say, Okay, now, what's your messaging, right? Before you start sending these emails, you're going to have to decide, you know, what are you going to say to them? So the good news is, though, that's more scalable, right, and everyone has email still, right. We need it for pretty much everything still. So I'd say if you have a lower price point, then you can go with something that's not as quite personalized as like a LinkedIn relationship building.
So that's kind of where I look at it. I take those two different roads. And there's a lot of other services we offer, you know, there's paid ads, there's SEO, there's content, there's social media, and that's great. But those are more like supporting acts, except for paid ads. Paid ads can actually be a very good direct result one especially for SaaS companies, if you can really get a good ROI down. I would recommend like if you know you can get your cost per acquisition to $20, and or even $100, but if it's a monthly service, and you know, you're getting six months out of them at $50 a month, you'll make that money back. Right. So you just have to know your numbers really well. But typically speaking, you know, the LinkedIn outreach is good for enterprise level stuff for the bigger deals that take longer, and email is probably a little bit better for those lower price things where you can, you know, scale that market and get those immediate responses and you can track the link clicks and they can watch a demo and blah, blah, blah, things like that.
Tim Bornholdt 50:08
We've been really focusing on LinkedIn recently ourselves. And that's, I think, proven out to be the right place for us to be. But I do like that there's multiple different ways you can do this and email being one of them. And one that's very underrated, I think, you know, we also have, like, an email list with our company, and we put people on it, and we send them, you know, you don't send them junk, obviously. That would be, you know, the one way ticket to Bansville. But we definitely send tailored information, you know, once a month or so and give people updates. And it's like another way to do it. But I do appreciate that, you know, there's a distinction between when you use LinkedIn, and when you use email. Do you have any tips for companies that are looking to kind of break into a new market? Or if they've got a new that they want to position their product. What are some tips that you have for those organizations trying to break into a new market?
J.C. Granger 51:04
Well, for one, I would definitely suggest email more than anything. And the reason being is because you're gonna want to kind of poll the audience, so to speak. The great thing about email is it's scalable, because everyone has email. You can find emails, right. You can find them by demographics, you can find them by job titles, you know, you can do all the filtering you want, and you can either procure your own email list manually, or someone can hand you one that matches that demographic target. Now, if you're breaking into a new market, there's a lot of things you're going to assume, right? And the key word being assume, because you're gonna think it's gonna be one way, but then people's responses are gonna tell you something different. And so let's say for example, you were to build, you know, cold outreach campaign, which we do. We customize cold outreach campaigns for our clients. But if it's a new market, you don't know, and we don't know what's going to happen. We all are in the room. We're all educated people; we're using our best guesses, right, based on our experience, right? You know, like I said, I've been doing email marketing 20 years, but I'm still technically guessing until I see the data, right? Just my guess is better than most people's that's all.
So when you're doing that, though, I recommend email because you can get a lot of outbound and get a lot of feedback at once, right? Because you can ask a question in email, like, Hey, listen, we're thinking of going into this market. You know, you're in that market. Can you tell me a little bit about, you know, a couple of things that you've been dealing with, you know, that are issues? People don't mind answering quick questions on email, right? If you're engaging, and you're not trying to sell them something right away, you'd be surprised how responsive people can be if you're just honest and upfront and say, Hey, listen, you know, I'm with a software company. I'm not trying to pitch you anything. In fact, I didn't even have anything for you to buy right now. Say, this is what we do right now. But we're looking to go in this market and you match that demographic. I was just wondering, would you mind letting me know like, you know, what's your number one problem that you have with x, y, z? You know, it would just really help us figure out what we want to build, you know. And you'd be surprised how many people will reply with a genuinely good answer to that, right.
And sometimes those polls actually results in leads also, because they say, Well, tell me, what do you? Like, oh, we do this. They're like, Oh, I actually could use that. Or I have a friend who could use that. So when you go into that, you know, a new market, you need to ask the market, right? You don't have to overthink it any more than that, right? You can do all this data and analytics all you want. You can do all this research and everything. At the end of the day, if you don't ask them, you're not going to know anything.
Now don't get me wrong, asking people what they want is also not necessarily what they really want. Right? It's kind of like, what was that movie with Mel Gibson, What Women Want, right? Like there was all the things they would say, but then he would hear the narration in their head, and it was completely different. And that's not even a female thing. That's a human thing in general, right? There's what we think we want, and there's what we respond to. And those are two very different things sometimes. So I do say, ask the market. But also take that with a grain of salt sometimes, because you do need to have both. You need to see what the market is doing. But you also have to see what the market is saying. But neither one of those independently is the right answer. You have to combine those and then let your intuition take it from there. Right. So again, there's what people say they want. And then there's what they end up responding to instinctually or psychologically, or by their needs, you know, things like that, right? So you have to have both sides of it. So I think the important thing is, do your research, do the analytics. And that's great, have that, right? Do your market research, but then ask the market and when you combine those two, that should paint a better picture to give you an idea of what you should be building or providing and whatnot.
Tim Bornholdt 54:36
It always makes me think of that, I think every quote from the early 1900s is attributed to Henry Ford. I'm not sure but there's like that old saying of like if Henry Ford would have asked people back before cars were invented what they wanted, they would have said faster horses or like stronger whips or whatever. Like it's very similar to that, you know. If you're actually building innovative platforms and software, you have to listen to what the market wants, you know, to one degree, but the intuition part like you were kind of alluding to, of how people actually respond to different things. And I think the easiest way to kind of assimilate the two together is just ask them what their problems are. Because if you can at least distill it down to what their problems are, then you can address those problems with a novel solution that they might otherwise not considered. So I do think that's a really great point that you made.
J.C. Granger 55:34
Yeah, it's funny. I remember I had this prospect once, this was years ago, and I'll never forget it. We're talking on the phone, and they're like, Hey, we are looking for, we need social media management. And I said, Okay, why? They said, Well, you know, we're doing other things. So we need social media now is. I said, no you don't. And they're like, What do you mean, we're not doing social media? I said, Let me rephrase this. I'm not saying that, you know, that social media wouldn't benefit you. What I'm saying is, that's not what you need. What do you really need? Like, what do you really want? Like, we want someone to do our, we want someone to make our images and we want someone to put ads on them. We want to get on Facebook and Instagram. I'm like, okay, that's great. That's the vehicle. But what's the destination? What's the real goal here? And I'll never forget this particular call because it went way longer than it should have. This particular prospect could not, they had married these two together. They weren't able to separate, right? They were saying, No, no, we need social media. It's like, No, no, you need more leads. Right. And I wasn't telling them that we wouldn't do social media for them. What I was trying to get to is, what's the real end goal. You think that you need social media, but really what you really need is you need more, you're trying to build more revenue. Nobody just needs social media, right? Social media is a vehicle, you know, to the end destination. So I was trying to figure out what this person's end destination was. And they just they couldn't come off of it. And I just remember that. And they eventually did, eventually, I made them understand that. Listen, I'm not saying we won't provide social media for you. I'm not saying we won't do it. But I'm trying to find out what your actual problem is. You know, and when we got to the end of the conversation, it turned out that, yeah, social media could have helped. But they really needed like email and paid ads, right? Because those are the things that were going to get them to their goal faster, right? Because it turned out that they needed, they were really short on their top of funnel. And they were starting to run out of runway, right? They had like an angel round and whatnot. And they thought, oh, social media is gonna be our solution. It's like, No, you need more leads, because it turns out their sales numbers were good, actually, right. When they were getting leads, they were converting really well. But they were on a time crunch, right? So there's different things. Time is an issue too. If they said, Hey, we got two years to figure this out. I'd say, let's do an SEO play, right? Because SEO takes like nine months to really hit stride. But when it does, it's a freight train, it's impossible to stop in a way, right? Like, it just has that inertia. You're getting all these leads coming in, because you're ranking really high on these keywords that people are searching for. But if you don't have the time, you can't play it, you can't do the SEO play. If you need this tomorrow, paid ads and email, that's it. Those are your only two options, because they're both direct response, direct result in real time. People check their email every day, people click on ads every day, in real time. You can watch it happen in the stats. So they thought they needed social media, but social media was just more of a supporting act.
Now what it turned out was that we said, okay, let's do some social media ads, not management. There's a big difference, right? We're not posting on your newsfeed, because you don't already have a big following. If you had 10 million followers, yes, social media management could really help right now. But they didn't, so I'm like, we have to build that follower base, which means we need ads. We've got to pay to play on this one, right, and email.
So I guess my point is that I always remember that conversation, because a lot of people will say that this is what we need. This is our fix. Can you give us that fix? And it's like, No, no, that's not actually the answer to your problem, because you don't even have the right problem, yet, that you're talking about, you know. So I try to back people up. I try to make them agnostic of what the solution is. And just tell me the problem. Because I'm the person who can tell you what the solution is when it comes to digital marketing. I'm going to ask you a ton of questions. And those answers are going to point me into a direction that's going to be the most suited for you right now. It's not that you won't do all those other things later. But like, where do we focus now? Right? So that's kind of how that plays out.
Tim Bornholdt 59:09
It kind of makes me think of like the metaphorical guru sitting on the top of a mountain and having somebody climb up to ask the question of a guru, and they get the answer. And it's just like, well, that's not what I want. This is what I want. And it's like, well, then why did you climb the mountain to ask the guru if you already knew the answer. You just wasted all that energy, and so to bring it to your point of like, you go to a marketing agency asking for that help. And then why would you fight back on them when they're asking questions about, you know, all the other stuff? It's like, I'd rather listen to the expert who's been down that path for the last 20 years and can tell me, Do I need social media? Or is there a better thing and listen to my actual problem. And yeah, it's interesting, like, that's one thing I've learned becoming an accidental agency owner myself is, early on when I was like being a app developer, you would just get a project from somebody and say, Yep, I'm on it. Like you got a boss. And just kind of go off and build the thing they want. And now as you gain more experience, and you work on more apps, now I've worked on like, 100 different apps, and you start to see the patterns and learn, you know, what is the app actually solving for you? Is there an actual result that we can get you out of this? Or do you just want an app because it looks cool. And that's kind of what struck me with that client that you were talking about or prospect. It's like, you know, you call because you want social marketing or social network marketing? But is that really what you want? Like, is that really going to actually advance the numbers on your business? And so, it's kind of funny, like, sometimes you seek expert advice, and then it doesn't fit with what your narrative in your mind is of what the answer is. And then you just kind of are, you know, pissed, as for lack of a better term.
J.C. Granger 1:00:56
Yeah. And some people, you know, they dig their heels in and others don't, you know. Others will be like, Okay, that's a good point, you know. But not everyone's gonna be a good fit for your agency too. As an agency owner, you know, especially when you get to the point where you can start saying no, right, we can start turning my clients, you know, no, listen, I get it. When you're first starting, you kind of have to say yes to everything, more or less, just because you can't afford not to, like I get it. It's not optimal, but I get it. But once you get to that turning point where you're like, Okay, I could say no to some things, you need to start saying no as fast as you can, you know. We put filters in our sales process to discourage companies from hiring us. I do my best to give every prospect every reason not to hire us. Right, let me tell you why. Because the way I see it, because I'm gonna give them the reality, right? You get these salespeople, though, they paint rainbows and unicorns. We guarantee this. Everything's gonna be great. Oh, my God, you just found the solution to all your problems, okay? And of course, reality never plays out that way, right? Because there's just real things that happen that go wrong.
My sales process goes something like this. Cue the thunderstorms, you know, and cracking of lightning and all the dark paths, you know, that follow in front of you. But I say, listen, something's gonna go wrong. I don't know what it is. It's really gonna suck. I'm gonna make it right. We're gonna figure it out. But there's no scenario, I've been doing this 20 years and had my agency for 10, there is no scenario where everything's gonna go great. And we're just gonna flow through it, you're gonna get all these leads. No, no. We're gonna we're gonna have demographic shifts. You know, someone's gonna get a human error, because we're human. I'll fix it. I'll make it right. You're gonna mess up. I'll try to fix your mess up, too. You know, like, but here's all the things that are going to go wrong, inherently. But here's the payoff, right? When we finally get down that crappy you know, bumpy road, you know, I always tell people, it's a trail of tears to the golden kingdom, right? There's no good story about how uou made it to your first, you know, you're a self-made millionaire or how you grew your company 1,000%. I have heard zero good stories of how it got there. It's just, ouch, ouch, ouch, crap, crap, crap, yay. And so I make sure that I tell them like, this is what you need to expect, right?
The second thing I tell them, and this is just for my company, right? I'm not speaking for any other agency. I tell them listen, we're not order takers. We're more like personal trainers, right? Like, we're gonna do the push ups for you in a way. But you know, this is collaborative. You know, if you say this is what you want, that's great. If you tell us what to do, okay, but if we believe that that's going to be a detriment to your end goal, which is why we ask about the goals, right? Like if your real goal is more leads or better conversions, you know, this, that, and the other. And the thing you asked us to do we think is not going to work or literally work against you, we're not going to do it. Let me be very clear, we will say no. All of our processes, nothing happens with my agency that both sides don't agree to. There is no, Hey, I want you to do this and put this ad out. Nope. Not a chance. That ad sucks. I'm not putting it out. And I'm helping you, like I'm saving you from yourself. Right?
A lot of agencies, they're just going to do whatever the client wants. And the problem is agencues aren't doing them any favors, right? It's like that parent who gives a kicking screaming child in Walmart the cookie? Okay, well, he's gonna do that again. Isn't he? Like that didn't solve your problem. You put a bandaid on a sucking chest wound, okay.You got 10 seconds of relief, because that kid got his way. And it's like, No, no, no, no, no, like, if you want the real long term solution here, you're gonna have to do some hard things. We're have to make some hard choices. We're gonna have to say no to you. You're gonna say no to us. Because I was tell them, Listen, we're never gonna know more about their industry and their product than they are right. But they're never gonna know more about marketing than we do. So we have to work together, right? It's a marriage, right? Husband and wife, right? You have to work together to solve these problems. And so we make sure that we're very clear about that upfront. If you're looking for an agency to just check the boxes, we are not it ever, right? But if you're looking for an agency, they'll kick back on you and not let you get in your own way. If you say hey, here's what we want. We're always gonna take everything you say. And say, Okay, well, let's see how that fits into the goal and the process. If we think that's going to work, 100% we're going to totally do it. But it's not a guarantee, right? I absolutely told clients, Not a chance I'm doing that. It's never gonna happen. Like, I'd rather you cancel on us right now. Because there's no way I'm putting my name on what you just said. Right? I'm not that blunt with them. Don't get me wrong, like I can be,
Tim Bornholdt 1:05:21
J.C. Granger 1:05:21
yeah, diplomatic about it. But we make it very clear up front before they even sign with us, right, that this is how that process goes. And I think that's just important for any company. You're doing apps. I think it's important for you to set the expectations, like listen, this is going to take however long I think it's gonna take, add two months, right? It's like construction. Like, yeah, if we think it is taking six months, it's eight minimum, and here's why, you know, just be upfront with them. And when you manage the expectations, for one, I think it builds a lot more trust, right, a lot of the feedback that I've gotten from clients is that everyone told them all the things to do. No one ever told him what not to do. Everyone told him how everything's gonna go great. No one ever told them where things are gonna go wrong. And I think that's where a lot of times our prospects become clients with us versus the other guy, because we just give them better managed expectations. And then now when those things happen, which inherently always will, they're okay with it. They're like, Well, you know, we talked about this, you did say some of this was gonna happened. So let's work it out. Let's figure it out. And let's push through it. And that's a real relationship in b2b business. And that's kind of how we operate.
Tim Bornholdt 1:06:23
Yeah, it's got to be a partnership. And we've learned that. We've almost been in business for 10 years now. And that's something that we've been really doing on our upfront as well is telling people, you know, I'm human, and I've built many apps before, but I'm, you know, I'm very fallible, and I can't predict all the things that are going to come up. And like you said, I don't know your business as well as you do. So we're going to make mistakes because we make assumptions about your industry or whatever, that we didn't account for up front. And we need to change those or whatever. And, yeah, it reminds me, I've told the story on this podcast before, but there's an episode of Better Call Saul. I don't know if you've ever watched that show.
J.C. Granger 1:07:03
I love that. Love that show. Yeah, the spin off from my Breaking Bad. Yeah.
Tim Bornholdt 1:07:08
Yes. And there's a scene where one of the guys is trying to build a tunnel to funnel drugs back and forth across the border. And they like do these elaborate things to bring in like an expert tunnel builder. And, you know, they blindfold them, bring them in, and they interview the first guy. And he's like, Oh, yeah, we can build that. That's no problem. It'll take this long, we'll get it done. Piece of cake. And so then they blindfold them, send him off on his way. They bring in a second guy and he comes in, and he's like, This is garbage. You do it this way, this is what's going to happen. There's no way you can pull it off with this budget and this timeline. There's no way you can do it. And they blindfold them, send them off. Guess which person that they pick to hire to build the bomb shelter or the tunnel? Obviously the second guy.
J.C. Granger 1:07:52
The no way guy.
Tim Bornholdt 1:07:53
Right. And they instead say okay, What is the right way? And they listen to them. And those are the clients that you want to find when you're in any organization in whatever business you're running in. It's all about the partnerships. It's all about the people and finding ways to work together, you know, in bridging your unique skills that you have, in your case, you're an expert marketer, but you're not an expert roofer. So you have to work with that client to figure out like, what are the things. And you can ask those questions that give you enough of an understanding that then they can push back and say, maybe I'd say it this way, instead of that way. Or maybe you know, my demographic wouldn't care for that messaging, or whatever. You work together and you overcome those problems and finally deliver some success. And that's at the end of the day, why you asked those goals is so you can have some sort of success metric you can push against to say, look, we got to this point, we did it. Hurrah.
J.C. Granger 1:08:42
Yeah, you know, it's in our best interest for the long term. You know, a lot of people think they go in and talk to marketing agency, and they're like, they have this suspicion, like, well, they just want to get my business right now. And it's like, I don't think most prospects understand that, you know, agencies like mine, like we don't make much money off whatever the first thing that we do with you, right. We make money when you grow with us, right? Because, you know, you start off on LinkedIn, like I don't make much money oo one, you know, LinkedIn marketing service, right? I make money when it's LinkedIn marketing, and then you put your whole sales staff on it. So it's 10 accounts. And then you do cold, outbound email marketing, you know, campaigns, and then those are going really well. And you say, Okay, now that we've got the leads coming in, we want help with, we want to convert them better. So let's add on some authority building things so that our sales cycle can be shorter. Right? And we do that with things like social media and content and retargeting ads, right? You know, there's things that you can scale and volume, lead gen, but that doesn't help your conversion rate, right. The ads, the content, you know, and the authority building helps convert people faster, and shortens your sales cycle, whereas the lead gen can just get you more volume on it. So there's an order of operations that people, that certain services fall under certain categories, right, of when you do that, so we make our real money when our client is actually closing those leads and making more money and then asking us, what else do you got? We say, glad you asked. Right? So okay, and you open up the drapes, and you say, look, here's all the new services we can do for you, right? So it's in our best interest that these initial services pan out, period, you know, like, we really are working hard. Sometimes we lose money up front a little bit because we put so much work and labor into the initial product, which we're not making much money on anyway, just to make sure that that can take off, right, that initial inertia to get them off the ground. And then once they're flying in the air, like Okay, cool. Now things are easier. You know, we've got the leads coming in. Now, how do we convert those better, right? How do we get more of them? How do we dial in better? How do we shorten the sales cycle? You know, what can we do from our side to help your side, right? And then eventually, they're making more money. So they're giving us more money, you know, for more things. So we have we have a vested interest in their growth and their success.
Tim Bornholdt 1:10:50
The old I give you one dollar, you give me two, kind of a thing, and then it blows up from there. J.C., this was awesome. I'm really glad we took the time to chat today. How can people get in touch with you and learn more about Infinity Marketing Group?
J.C. Granger 1:11:05
Oh, boy, I don't want anyone to get in touch with me. I'm too busy. No, I'm kidding. So our main website is our infinitym group.com. The M stands for marketing. So infinitymgroup.com. And then, for me, personally, you can reach out to me on LinkedIn, just forward slash JC Granger. You can look me up j dot c dot Granger on LinkedIn. And then if you want to reach out to me personally, you can email me at JC@infinitymgroup.com. And I'm pretty good at getting back on emails pretty fast and whatnot. And I've got a good staff that can help out with any kind of questions that are specific to the silos as well.
Tim Bornholdt 1:11:44
Right on. Thank you so much for joining me today. This was an awesome conversation.
J.C. Granger 1:11:47
I appreciate it, Tim. And I gotta tell you, like, you know, I do a lot of these podcasts. I have my own podcast, The Future of Biz Tech, by the way, for anyone listening. Mine's called The Future of Biz Tech. I interview b2b software CEOs and CMOS, just kind of talking about, you know, what they do, and their software and kind of the future of their industry and their company, which is pretty cool. So that's on all the things if anybody wants to go check that out. But I gotta tell you, of all the podcasts I've been on, I love this one the most so far, because we got to spend the first 25 minutes talking about how we were hacking stuff in our pre teens. And that is easily the coolest part of any podcast I've done. And I don't think you'll ever forget the guy you interviewed who smothered a computer so his parents wouldn't wake up while he was online.
Tim Bornholdt 1:12:32
You know, I think it's one of those things, people listen to podcasts and subscribe to podcasts because they can tell when the hosts themselves are having fun. And we can talk about marketing and everything all day. But it's like those stories that actually humanize everything and make it so it's like, okay, yeah, I think these guys know what they're talking about. And I also had a whole line of questions to talk about podcasting. But I mean, we talked about so much other stuff anyway. So yes, please go check out The Future of Biz Tech podcast because I listened to a couple of episodes of it myself. It is a ton of great information for you if you're in that industry. And again, J.C. thank you so much for joining me.
J.C. Granger 1:13:10
Awesome. Thanks to appreciate it.
Tim Bornholdt 1:13:12
Thanks to J.C. Granger for joining me on the podcast today. You can learn more about Infinity Marketing Group at infinitymgroup.com. And you can hear The Future of Biz Tech podcast by searching for it in any old podcast player, maybe the one you're listening to this show on right now.
Show notes for this episode can be found at constantvariables.co. You can get in touch with us by emailing Hello@constantvariables.co. I'm @TimBornholdt on Twitter. The show is @CV_podcast. Today's episode was produced by Jenny Karkowski and edited by the idyllic Jordan Daoust.
If you love this episode, and could spare a minute of your time, we'd love it if you left us a review on the Apple Podcast app, just had to constantvariables.co/review and we'll get you to the right place.
This episode was brought to you by The Jed Mahonis Group. If you're looking for a technical team who can help make sense of mobile software development, give us a shout at jmg.mn.