We caught up with the brilliant and insightful Lane Rizzardini a few weeks ago and have shared our conversation below.
Lane, appreciate you joining us today. What was the most important lesson/experience you had in a job that has helped you as a business owner?
The lessons I learned at past jobs that most impact my work now all revolve around client service psychology. They fall into two buckets:
1. Clients Trust The Person They Agreed To Give Their Money To – This typically means the salesperson, which becomes a problem when your salesperson is so inundated with client requests they don’t have the bandwidth to go make more sales. If they ignore the client and go sell, the clients get mad and churn immediately.
This was a major pain point that both of my previous companies had to work really hard to solve, and I wanted to make sure my operations were set up, so our Digital Strategists are the people our clients trust. This means bringing them into the sales process, granting them a lot of authority, and establishing the fleeting role of the salesperson from day 1. This has been big for our retention and ability to free up our other team members.
2. The First 90 Days is Everything – You either lose a client or make a client for life in the first 90 days. After a big commitment of trust (possibly after being burned before), the client is understandably nervous and needs validation they made the right choice quickly. We’ve established a number of touchpoints upfront that include a thank you note, lead validation, proof of improvements, surprise gifts, and an Executive Business Review to ensure we’ve met client expectations to date. It reinforces our commitment to service stated in sales meetings, demonstrates immediate value, and results in longer-term commitments.
This doesn’t mean we coast after day 90 – we still do video reporting reviews, so clients hear our voices and see our faces every month. But once trust is established, the client can focus on their business, knowing they have a marketing partner working hard for them as promised.
Lane, before we move on to more of these sorts of questions, can you take some time to bring our readers up to speed on you and what you do?
My company Marion Relationship Marketing executes marketing strategies that help you build a thriving business. Our clients work hard to build great businesses, and we work hard to make sure people know it.
More directly: That means we drive leads via digital marketing efforts such as SEO or Google Ads, ensure you have the means to make the most of those leads and know how they got to you with our Foundational Marketing Program, and work closely with you as marketing consultants to help you grow. We’ve had the privilege of helping clients hire new employees to handle all the new business we’re driving.
We set ourselves apart with:
Transparency – Our clients have top-level administrative access to everything we build and dedicated logins for clients to see real-time results on their time. We tell clients we can’t hide whether your marketing is working or not.
No Handcuffs – Too many agencies hold websites and major data hostage. Our clients own everything we build for them and can take it with them if we decide to part ways.
Demonstrable Results – We don’t just report numbers. We review and rate our clients’ calls and eliminate duplicates in forms to give them accurate accounting of real leads driven via marketing down to revenue generated.
I’m most proud of our increasing number of video testimonials from clients, backing up the claims we make of great results and great service. The fact clients are excited to do these for us and are willing to talk to potential clients as referrals is a huge testament to the quality of work our team delivers. In our business, it’s hard to differentiate yourself in a sales meeting. Our clients do it for us.
Clients always come to us saying their marketing sucks and their last company burned them. So we put a guide outlining the three main reasons why and how to fix them! You can get it here: https://marionrelationshipmarketing.com/3-reasons-your-marketing-sucks-guide/
What’s worked well for you in terms of a source for new clients?
Our current clients! To date, we’ve been entirely referral-based. We don’t have a sales team, and only very recently (like this month) started any sort of advertising efforts.
There are a million digital marketing agencies out there because the barrier to entry is owning a laptop and an internet connection. And it’s hard to have many unique differentiators when you’re all advertising Google Ads, Facebook Ads, Websites, etc.
So it’s no surprise businesses have a hard time figuring out who they can trust with their business. The best thing to do is to ask other business owners, So it’s no surprise referrals are so successful.
Knowing this, we have emphasized video testimonials and reviews in our own marketing efforts to build authority and assets prospective clients can trust.
Alright – let’s talk about marketing or sales – do you have any fun stories about a risk you’ve taken or something else exciting on the sales and marketing side?
We have a private jeweler out of Austin who started a Dallas location within his wholesaler’s office. After years of struggling, I made the boldest recommendation I’ve made to date: Give up the free location space and move to his own in a high-end part of town.
This wasn’t just ad spend I was asking him to commit. This was close to $100k in rent and renovation costs and effort I was telling him to put in.
My rationale was that search and SEO are getting more local, so moving the address to a different part of town away from other jewelers would give us more visibility.
Sure enough, his search rankings increased immediately, and so did leads and revenue. Years of built trust allowed us to make the risky but right move for the business that could have otherwise failed and potentially the brand’s growth plans as a whole.