Communicate! – transcript – Maggie Van Dagens with Kurt Baker
Written by Kurtis Baker on December 9, 2018
00:09 Kurt Baker: You’re listening to a podcast of Master Your Finances with me, Kurt Baker, a Certified Financial Planner Professional, Sunday mornings at 9:00 AM on 1077thebronc.com.
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00:45 Kurt Baker: Good morning and welcome back to another edition of Master Your Finances, presented by Certified Wealth Management and Investment. I’m Kurt Baker, a Certified Financial Planner Professional hosting your show today. My office is located in Princeton, New Jersey. I could be reached through our website which is www.cwmi.us, or you can call me directly at 609-716-4700.
01:10 Kurt Baker: Last time on the show we had Sandra Toussaint-Burgher, who is the President and CEO of United Way of Greater Mercer County. We talked a lot about the importance of giving from a corporate as well as individual levels. So if you happened to miss that show or any of our episodes, you can go to masteryourfinances.us and listen to the podcast there. It was a very good show. So we encourage you to do that.
01:31 Kurt Baker: This week, we’re very pleased to have with us Margaret, or Maggie Van Dagens, owner and creative director of J&M Marketing Communications. She has been a writer and creative director of major international advertising agencies like BBDO, and the Inter-Public Group. She has worked on accounts like Dodge, Chevrolet and CarNation, and started J&M Marketing Communications after winning Prudential’s $500,000 retail account. She competed for the account against four New York ad agencies. Later Prudential Client told her that Prudential felt she has been the only one who understood retail. Maggie attributes that work to BBDO where she learned both creative and overreaching strategies… Excuse me, overarching strategies and saw an immediate benefit. She follows those two guidelines in the website she and her J&M team create for small businesses.
02:27 Kurt Baker: So Maggie, this is interesting. You’ve been in advertising for quite a while. It’s interesting you… This is the cutting edge area. We all have to have a website now. And I personally remember when nobody had a website. A website was like was, “What are you talking about? What do you mean… Well I don’t need a website, that’s something else somebody else has.” Now it’s pretty much mandatory, right? But a lot of us in the business world tend to, I guess for lack of a better word, don’t focus enough attention on it. We put something up and we forget about it. And I know I’m guilty of that. You set it up and then you gotta come back and you got… But you have to maintain these things. So how did you start off in the advertising world, and what brought you to coming into web design? What made you feel passionate about that?
03:09 Maggie Van Dagens: Well, I after 2008, we lost the Prudential business, and Prudential really decimated its advertising department at that time. And so I was sitting around the office thinking about getting a job as a greeter at Walmart, and then that didn’t seem like what I would be good at. So a former Prudential client called and said, “Do you do websites?” And I said, “Yeah sure.” And she said the new place where she was working needed a website. So after I got off the phone, I turned on my computer and I looked at the websites and I thought, “These are terrible! I can do this, we can do this.” And so J&M, it was called at that time J&M Advertising. We morphed over into J&M Marketing Communications. I put together a team, and we’ve been doing websites ever since 2008, and they’re really fun, and it’s so exciting to take the classic advertising principles that I learned and use them in websites for small businesses. They work, they work for everyone. And you talk about putting up a website and leaving it, that’s just what too many businesses do. You can’t do that. You can’t.
04:34 Kurt Baker: Oh, I agree. It sounds like you use your network that you created by working at Prudential and by having a good reputation, and then somebody thought of you as being a person who knew how to do things, and wasn’t even sure if you could do it or not, and you took the opportunity and said, “What the heck? Why not, right? Why don’t we take… ” sometimes you gotta take a chance, right? You gotta take a leap of faith and say, “Well, I know the basics of advertising. I know the basics of marketing. This is just through a different medium,” And so you said, “Oh okay, yeah. This is just a different place.” You’re no longer putting in a magazine or in a newspaper, but it’s the same. You’re still trying to sell something, you’re still trying to get the word out about something. You’re still trying to market something, it’s just a different way of doing it, so you’re changing your medium, right? Is that what the thought process was?
05:15 Maggie Van Dagens: You’re absolutely on target there. You’re absolutely right. The classic advertising principles don’t go away. And I’ve had people say to me something like, “Well, I had my son do a website, and that’s fine. It’s good enough for me.” And this was a guy whose business was really floundering, and I don’t know what’s happened to it since, but that’s not what you need to do. You need to get someone who understands marketing principles and put a website together, because it’s the same message, it’s the same. You have to have an overarching strategy, you have to have good design, you have to have good writing, and you have to have a coder which we do. We have an outstanding coder working for us at J&M. So all those things are critical, critical.
06:04 Kurt Baker: So kinda take me through the process. Somebody says, “Hey, look, I have a small business and I’m probably not paying enough attention to my website, whether I’m selling pizzas or I’m designing buildings or I’m a lawyer, I’m an accountant, or whatever the case may be.” We all have different business models, but the web is the web, so we all need to connect. So how do you… If somebody comes to you and says, “I think I need to have my website looked at, or maybe I’m not doing enough with my website. Or maybe I am doing something with it but I need to tweak it a little bit.” What’s the process you walk through to help people understand maybe what’s working and what’s not working? How do you walk through that process, when somebody is thinking about maybe improving their web presence.
06:42 Maggie Van Dagens: Well, first of all, it’s the same thing we would do for Dodge, who I worked for at the Chevrolet account… At the BBDO. Or Chevrolet or CarNation or any big client. You put together a strategy and you get the client to buy off on that strategy, and usually, the client doesn’t buy off right away. He has input. It’s not something you do yourself and say, “Here, this is your strategy. Now, take it or leave it.” He has some input, or she has some input. They have some thoughts about who they are. And then, you work together to develop the strategy that tells their public who they are and why it’s best to do business with them. Then, after that, the creative kind of falls into place. I don’t wanna say that it falls into place, because it is hard work. It’s hard work sitting down there, writing the exact headline and the exact piece of copy. And the same with the design; it doesn’t fall into place without some work. But with a strategy behind you, then you can really get to where you’re telling your public something important about you that they will care about.
08:01 Kurt Baker: Oh, I agree 100%. And one of the things I hear all the time when we’re trying to set up any type of marketing, whether it’s sending out a newsletter or an email, or whatever the case may be, the website is like, “Who is kinda my ideal client? Who am I really trying to connect with that it’s gonna be a mutually beneficial relationship?” Because if I’m selling a Chevy, I may not be… If it’s a car, I may not be selling it to a farmer who needs a truck. I might sell him a Chevy truck, but I’m not selling him a Chevy car. But if I’m marketing a certain thing… In fact, sometimes you watch commercials… Every once in a while, my wife and I look at each other and go, “They’re not targeting us.”
08:35 Kurt Baker: Or sometimes you just get a notion that, “I guess this works for somebody, but they’re certainly not appealing to us, as far as this particular commercial”. And that’s by design. Not every commercial is designed for a specific person that may be watching it, because I may not be their market.
08:50 Maggie Van Dagens: Yes, yes. It’s probably not a good buy, a media buy, for them, if you are watching it and you’re way off their market. But sometimes, people will…
09:00 Kurt Baker: Maybe I’m watching the wrong show. I drift a little sometimes.
09:05 Kurt Baker: Go ahead, I’m sorry.
09:07 Maggie Van Dagens: But it also is a good way to see if you’re trying to figure out what’s important to teens, if you switch to a channel that has more shows to them, that are directed to them, you’ll find out more from the commercials about what’s going on in their world.
09:24 Kurt Baker: Oh, that’s fascinating. I never thought of that, so… [chuckle]
09:26 Maggie Van Dagens: Yeah, yeah.
09:27 Kurt Baker: Not exactly my personal target market, but I could see how that might be beneficial, is watching what other advertisers do, and see maybe how they’re trying to reach. So we see what kind of message they’re using. ‘Cause every once in a while, and I can’t think of an example, but every once in a while you see these odd commercials, you’re like, “Somehow that worked.” And you’re like, “Really? That worked?” ‘Cause it’s so counter-intuitive. Some of these commercials are just like, I don’t understand why people are buying the product, but they do, because they’re raising awareness about it in kind of a real odd way, so to speak.
09:56 Maggie Van Dagens: Well, that is one of the great things that advertising does is it raises awareness. That’s the first thing that advertising does, is it raises awareness and then it sort of primes people for future sales. And then, third thing that it really does is it creates a sale now. But you’re not really doing that on TV, you’re not creating a sale now. On the Internet, on your website, you can create a sale now. But I wanna go back to something you said that was really interesting, as how do you figure out what to say to people? BBDO had a four-step creative process that I still use today. It was, first, know your prime prospect, know who would be a good person for this product. Second, know your prime prospect’s problems. Not his desires, his problems. Then, the third thing is know your product. The fourth thing is break the boredom barrier. So maybe that kind of odd thing that raised awareness was breaking the boredom barrier, but the…
11:00 Kurt Baker: Boredom barrier, okay. [laughter]
11:01 Maggie Van Dagens: Yeah.
11:03 Kurt Baker: That sounds good, yeah. They certainly break the boredom barrier with some of the commercials now.
11:07 Maggie Van Dagens: Yes.
11:09 Kurt Baker: That’s fascinating. So you take it through the four-step process. That’s a great way to really kind of identify what we need to do, and we’ll maybe break into that a little bit more when we come back from the break here in just a few minutes.
11:19 Maggie Van Dagens: Okay.
11:20 Kurt Baker: Thanks, Maggie.
11:23 Announcer: It’s all about how you manage your money. Now, let’s get back to learning how, from Kurt Baker, of Certified Wealth Management and Investment with Master Your Finances.
11:32 Kurt Baker: Welcome back. You’re listening to Master Your Finances. I’m Kurt Baker, Certified Financial Planner Professional here with Maggie Van Dagens.
11:38 Maggie Van Dagens: Dagens.
11:40 Kurt Baker: Dagens, excuse me. Owner and Creative Director of J&M Marketing Communications. And we’re talking about the importance of your presence on the web and the marketing. She started up J&M… Started off as advertising, but it’s more marketing because, I guess, the web is really more interactive, right? So you’re putting out information and you’re trying to reach your audience. And one of these we talked about just before the break was, you talked about I guess the four points that we need to go through as far as how to find a marketing strategy for somebody, right?
12:10 Maggie Van Dagens: Mm-hmm.
12:11 Kurt Baker: You wanna know your prime prospect, their problem, their product and then to break the boredom barrier, I believe is what you said, right?
12:18 Maggie Van Dagens: Yes.
12:18 Kurt Baker: So how do we go… What is the process of each one of those? Can you take us through how we define maybe who our prospect is? I assume that’s interacting with your client, right? ‘Cause you definitely know what your client is, right?
12:28 Maggie Van Dagens: Yes, yes, yes. You know your… You work through this with your client. But sometimes the clients, especially small business, might not really understand who their prime prospects are. So you… Today we have the web and we have all this free research, that secondary research that’s out there and Wikipedia, to give them a plug. They are so great for finding out information. So you go and you go online and you look for information about who the prime prospect is. And for example, I had a product that was sold in a store, a client who had a product that was sold in a store and I spent maybe a couple of days wandering around the web thinking who might be the best person for this client’s product. And after about the third day I had a pretty good idea who I was talking to. That third day I also found out what the store that this product was sold in. Am I getting a little convoluted here?
13:37 Kurt Baker: Little bit. Little bit.
13:39 Maggie Van Dagens: The store.
13:40 Kurt Baker: Right.
13:41 Maggie Van Dagens: The people who bought at that store I found their demographic and it matched exactly the demographic I had come up with as the prime prospect. So if I had found out earlier, I wouldn’t have had to do so much work. But I was very glad that I found it and they dove-tailed. So I felt very confident with the strategy that I was going towards. And so that’s the first step. We knew the prime prospect. Now, what are the prime prospect’s problems? You can think about them and come up with them usually. Someone who’s been in the business for a while, advertising is not as simple as it looks. You have to do a lot of thinking. Then after that, the third BBDO premise was to know your product. So the people you’re selling to, for the advertiser, come before what the product you’re selling them is. Okay?
14:41 Kurt Baker: That make sense.
14:42 Maggie Van Dagens: Yeah, yeah. And then, finally, you do something that breaks the boredom barrier. So the prospect enjoys finding out about the product.
14:50 Kurt Baker: Right, yeah, it’s interesting, right.
14:52 Maggie Van Dagens: Yeah, it is a very interesting business. Very thoughtful business.
14:57 Kurt Baker: Things are coming to mind. The gecko… The GEICO gecko, right? That was like…
15:04 Maggie Van Dagens: Oh my god, she’s wonderful.
15:04 Kurt Baker: That was like, “Okay, you’re selling insurance,” but it’s interesting, right? You watched the commercials? [laughter]
15:07 Maggie Van Dagens: Yes.
15:08 Kurt Baker: You really have no interest in buying insurance, you still watch the commercials generally. They get very creative with some of the stuff that come up with.
15:14 Maggie Van Dagens: Yes, I was fortunate enough to have met the man who came up with that idea and he was just the nicest gentleman and very, very respected in the business.
15:26 Kurt Baker: I can see why. [laughter]
15:27 Maggie Van Dagens: Yes, yes.
15:28 Kurt Baker: Very creative.
15:29 Maggie Van Dagens: Yes.
15:29 Kurt Baker: Very creative, but you still get the message across, you make it interesting. It’s definitely break the boredom of barrier.
15:34 Maggie Van Dagens: Yes.
15:35 Kurt Baker: You target… You get your audience, you understand your prospects with their problems of course, and then each…
15:39 Maggie Van Dagens: Yeah.
15:39 Kurt Baker: Right? So it kinda fits all of those little pieces.
15:42 Maggie Van Dagens: It does.
15:43 Kurt Baker: So once we kinda understand… And, honestly, I go to… Obviously, the people in our business, you kind of go to these things to try to learn, but that’s one of things that constantly try to dwell, try to get into our heads. Is like, you really gotta understand who you’re really trying to serve.
15:56 Maggie Van Dagens: Yes.
15:56 Kurt Baker: Because if you don’t understand who you’re trying to serve it’s hard to provide them with the best service if you’re not understanding really what they want from you, so to speak, as a business owner. And the more time you spend on that… I know I remember Sam Walton used to stand outside of Walmart and ask his client… Ask the people walked out of the grocery store, “What did you think? Did you find everything you want? What you think about the experience?” He would basically ask questions of the people walking right out of the store. And he obviously began to understand very well who his clients were, who his customers were and did a pretty good job of serving those. But we have to constantly get feedback and understand them and this is a great process.
16:30 Kurt Baker: So once we do this, now, how do we convert that into a web presence? How do we move that online? Because one of the things I’ve noticed about the web, it’s interactive, right? I don’t just put something up, but they can actually communicate with me, they can message me, they can e-mail me, they can make comments about what’s out there, they can get content from me, things like that. So it’s more interactive than just putting up an ad in a magazine.
16:51 Maggie Van Dagens: Yes, yes, yes. And that’s why it has become more interactive with the client as well. It used to be, in the old days, ad agencies just brought in a bunch of storyboards and clients said yes or no. Now the client becomes more part of the process. Because I will often write things with my client, which we never did in the old days. And it’s very interesting and it makes the client much more human. And it’s a… A client shouldn’t be stiff. I think of the Internet websites as being much more retail, and it’s a person selling to another person, and yes, the client can’t really do that by themselves, because the hardest thing to do is to sell yourself. So they come to an ad agency, hopefully. Maybe J&M, even.
17:51 Kurt Baker: Right.
17:51 Maggie Van Dagens: And we sit down, we work together, and we figure out who they are and sell who they are to our prime prospect. And I’d like to go back to GEICO for a minute.
18:03 Kurt Baker: Okay.
18:03 Maggie Van Dagens: If you listen to the message, the message is always very straight, it’s very, “We can save you money on your car insurance, on your motorcycle insurance, on whatever kind of insurance you need.” But then, there is this charming gecko that is doing it, so that adds the charm, but the message is very, very straight.
18:24 Kurt Baker: Right. Keep it really simple, right?
18:27 Maggie Van Dagens: Keep it simple. Yes, that’s a classic rule that you should never…
18:30 Kurt Baker: All I remember is the old commercial. Where’s the beef?
18:32 Maggie Van Dagens: Yes, yes.
18:34 Kurt Baker: Wendy’s, but most of it know this commercial, but that still resonates with me when you go by a Wendy’s, and it’s probably been off the air for 20 to 30 years. Been off the air for a long time, right?
18:44 Maggie Van Dagens: At least, at least, yes.
18:46 Kurt Baker: But certain commercials, you just never forget, even as a kid like, “Plop plop, fizz fizz”.
18:51 Maggie Van Dagens: Oh yes.
18:52 Kurt Baker: “Oh, what a relief it is” in Alka-Seltzer’s. But there’s certain commercials that you almost can’t get out of your head. They’re so successful at getting the message across and coming up with some way to do that. So how do you transition that to the web? ‘Cause those are really short phrases. You kinda incorporate that into the web presence? I guess, on the web, we have a couple of components that I can think of. So you have the text, the writing, which is important. And I understand, as an owner, the more content you put out and the more you’re communicating with your clients, as far as information about your business, is important. But other things that I’ve seen now that are becoming more important are things like photos, and even video is now becoming more of an aspect. How do you develop a site that speaks to that? And then, how do you keep the owner of the business from becoming overwhelmed with like, “Oh, I don’t know… I have to produce five videos a week or I have to do content.” ‘Cause you could get overwhelmed with how much you have to service the website too. So first of all, how do you decide what pieces might work for a certain business? Where to influence? What types of things to put on the site to get your message across? And then, how you maintain that once you get it all going?
20:04 Maggie Van Dagens: Okay, well let’s…
20:04 Kurt Baker: Let’s hear your thoughts about that. I know it’s a lot.
20:07 Maggie Van Dagens: It is a lot. Let’s get back to the strategy. Once you have the strategy, that’s your framework, that’s your architecture, that’s your plan, that’s your game plan. So you create a website right from the beginning that allows for changes but doesn’t go off strategy. For instance, one of our clients is a daily newspaper, so the editor has to go in and change that every day, and we set that up at the beginning, of how he would do that, where would the old stories go. They have to stay on the site, but they go somewhere that’s easy for people to access. So that he is probably the most complicated one, as far as changing and updating the site that we have as a client.
20:55 Maggie Van Dagens: For other people, pictures, yes, pictures are important to update and… For instance, we might take photography for a year ahead, so the client would have ongoing changes that we could put up for the client as the year goes by. Another thing is articles. We can write articles. Articles are a little hard to write ahead of time, because they take so much time, they take more time. And you ask about how you condense a slogan to a website. Well, slogans are great on a website, because I… The first year I was writing websites, it was back in 2008, and this is after some years in the business and being a creative director on CarNation, I did find that it was a whole different style of writing. On the website, people want information now, now, so it’s get that information out there fast and make it succinct.
22:00 Kurt Baker: That makes a lot of sense. Our attention span has gotten much, much shorter, with much more information coming to us. You’re basically overwhelmed with content, so you only have a split second, really, it seems to… In my case, I know… You don’t have a lot of time to catch my attention, because I’m literally… If it’s a message, I’m delete, delete, delete, delete… “Okay, I’m gonna read that.” Delete, delete, delete, read that.
22:17 Maggie Van Dagens: Exactly.
22:18 Kurt Baker: Delete, delete, delete, read that. And you’re doing that with everything, all this content, because you have to very quickly sift through what’s actually important, so you get down to the things that you actually need to focus a little bit of attention to. So I guess the same strategy applies to the website. When you’re on the website, you wanna make sure, I guess, you’re getting that main message out and making it easy for them to answer whatever question they might have. So when we come back, we’ll talk a little bit more about, I guess, your website strategies and how we implement that strategy, when we come back in just a few minutes.
22:50 Announcer: It’s all about how you manage your money. Now, let’s get back to learning how, from Kurt Baker, of Certified Wealth Management and Investment with Master Your Finances.
23:00 Kurt Baker: Back at listening to Master Your Finances. I’m Kurt Baker, Certified Financial Planner Professional. Here with Maggie Dagens.
23:10 Maggie Van Dagens: Van Dagens. [chuckle]
23:10 Kurt Baker: Van Dagens, thank you. And we’re talking about building a website. [laughter] And some of the more important things. And it really comes down to really the basics of marketing, right. So it’s marketing is what it is, but that’s not really… That’s a complicated thing. It sounds simple, but it is a process you go through and you mentioned you have to know your prospects, their problems, their products and then you have to break that boredom barrier we talked a little bit of the GEICO gecko and how effective that commercial is. They keep the message very succinct and they make it interesting for us. So now that we’ve got that and we set up the strategy and the framework of the strategy and then we go down to the actual implementation of some of the content to push that strategy out. And you mentioned how on a newspaper page they wanna maintain that content, but they need to keep the most recent things front and center, so to speak.
24:04 Maggie Van Dagens: Yes.
24:05 Kurt Baker: Still wanna be able to access yesterday’s story, if you really need to. And I know I’m constantly on the news sites where you’re like, “Oh, there was a story a couple days ago. Where was that?” You could search by keywords and you go find them. And usually it’s pretty easy, fortunately, to find it. So I guess you guys are doing a good job out there.
24:19 Kurt Baker: Because you could usually find those stories because they do have a pretty long shelf life, I find, at least from my perspective. Because you’re searching a content. You’re trying to find something, if it’s still out there you wanna make sure you’re taking advantage, that you put that content out. That people can find it and find your site, which is really important. And then we talked a little bit about how some of the other areas where you talked about taking photos a year in advance, right?
24:42 Maggie Van Dagens: Yes.
24:42 Kurt Baker: So you don’t have to overwhelm with like, “We’re gonna come out every week and take a photo.” You build up your library, but then you talked about how articles are a little bit more difficult ’cause you want that to be timely as far as what you’re trying to do.
24:51 Maggie Van Dagens: Yes, yes, yes.
24:52 Kurt Baker: And then you talked about how the slogan is important. And it’s great on a website. So where do we go from here now that we got this all set? So now what do we do next? How do we make sure it’s working?
25:04 Maggie Van Dagens: Well, we don’t have it all set yet, because after…
25:08 Kurt Baker: No? Okay, we don’t? Alright. Do not run out, we’re not done yet.
25:10 Maggie Van Dagens: After you’ve got the strategy, you’ve got your prime prospects figured out and their problems, then comes the hard work where the writer and the designer that just have to go off and scratch their heads and figure out, “What are we gonna do? How are we gonna make it different? What are we gonna come up… Oh, how about a little animal called the gecko?” And that’s where the creativity really comes in and you put that all together, you show the client some static layouts with some text, copy, content, whatever it’s called at this moment and the client says yes or no. Or then the client usually says, “Well, I like this, but I don’t like that. Look, can we fix this? Can we move a little more in that direction?”
25:58 Maggie Van Dagens: And then you have to go back and rethink again. Because sometimes clients will tend to go off strategy and you don’t wanna do that because you want the viewer to walk away with a really definite feeling of who you are and what you’re offering them. So you wanna keep it on strategy. And so you work with the client and it’s a work in process at this point. Then after all that’s done and the client says, “I love this. This is just… You’ve shown me all the pages in a static vision.” Then we give it to Joe, our beloved coder, who is a genius. He is really a genius. He can make anything happen. If Gordon and I, Gordon’s my designer, come up with this idea and say, “Joe, we’d like somebody to jump out of the computer.” Joe will say, “Oh, yeah, I can make that work.” Actually we’ve never…
26:54 Kurt Baker: That’s a little scary.
26:55 Kurt Baker: I think I want that content to stay in my computer.
26:58 Maggie Van Dagens: We’ve never really suggested that to Joe because it probably wouldn’t work. And he’d probably have to say, “Are you two crazy?” So we don’t do that, but he is really great at making things work. And that’s like a shopping cart. What kind of a shopping cart do you want? You can get many different kinds of shopping carts. You can stay with your bank, you can use PayPal, you can use… There are shopping cart companies, but they usually give you a format and you have to stick with the format. Now we have done a custom website which is an out-of-format. So how do we work with that? Well, Joe, converts the format into our custom website. So we can give people a custom e-commerce site. Which is kind of a big deal.
27:50 Kurt Baker: It sounds pretty cool. ‘Cause this strategy almost sounds to me almost like a mission statement on how you’re gonna connect with the client. ‘Cause you’re talking about the strategy. And then you have to talk about the process. So how are we gonna get that person to pay attention to the site? And then how do we stay in touch with them? I’m trying to understand what maybe some of these strategies are, “Okay, well, I want them to read the site.” I’m thinking some examples of what I would say, and two, “I want them to have an opportunity to connect with me,” so maybe sign up for a newsletter or get some content from my site so that maybe I can capture some information from them. And then I wanna stay in touch with them and find out what they’re interested in and then I wanna try to stay in touch with them. And then, hopefully, if there’s a point in time where they may want to use a service or buy a product that the company has, then you’re front and center. I know some companies, I feel they almost overdo it. Like Best Buy, I think, kills me with their stuff that they send me. So to me it’s almost like overkill at some point. But certain businesses are… Amazon’s known for this. They kind of like, what you buy or search they… Even what you search, they remember it and then they’ll come back and almost attack you with your own information, okay?
29:01 Maggie Van Dagens: Yes, yes.
29:04 Kurt Baker: Which scares me sometimes.
29:05 Maggie Van Dagens: Okay, let’s go back to a strategy being like a mission statement. I would say no to that.
29:12 Kurt Baker: Okay.
29:13 Maggie Van Dagens: I don’t like mission statements. I think they’re usually very self-serving. And remember before we… Our client… Let’s call our client Mr. Jones. Before we talked about Mr. Jones’s product we talk… Or service that he’s offering, maybe Mr. Jones is a lawyer say, we talked about who his prime prospects were and what his prime prospects needed, what their problems were. So a mission statement is usually Mr. Jones telling you how great a lawyer he is. But what a strategy is, is summing up something, it should be able to be summed up in a sentence. Now, people do not give up their strategies statements. This is not… The public never sees a strategy statement. But GEICO strategy statement, we’ve been talking about them, let’s imagine somebody wrote down, “sell hard in a fun way”. That is a good strategy for GEICO. I don’t know that that’s their strategy statement. But if you kind of dig down into what GEICO is actually doing, they’re selling hard in a fun way.
30:33 Kurt Baker: Okay.
30:33 Maggie Van Dagens: So that would be what the strategy statement is. And a strategy statement should boil down to one or two sentences. There’s a lot of… When you give it to the client, you give it in a piece of paper with a lot of backup of why the strategy will work and because you and the client have talked about these things, but the strategy statement should boil down to this very simple thing that you can fit other things so that when a client wants to go off strategy, you say, “Well does this fit selling hard in a fun way?” Now, a lot of things can fit selling hard in a fun way.
31:13 Kurt Baker: Maybe that’s why their commercials are so diverse.
31:18 Maggie Van Dagens: Yeah.
31:19 Kurt Baker: Cause their commercials are very diverse.
31:20 Maggie Van Dagens: Yes.
31:21 Kurt Baker: I mean every once in awhile, you’re like, “What?” Then you go “Oh, it feels like a GEICO commercial,” but you don’t even know it is one until you get half way through it. You go, “Oh, yeah, I guess it is a GEICO commercial.” [chuckle]
31:29 Maggie Van Dagens: You know what, I would add another sentence to the GEICO strategy at this point. So hard in a fun way and use the gecko. That’s probably their strategy because they are exclusively, pretty much exclusively using the gecko. So that’s what’s a strategy statement, something very simple that gives you the direction of how you’re gonna make a commercial if we were doing it for GEICO or a website for doing it for most of our clients.
31:57 Kurt Baker: Okay. So everything that we do on the site now has to kinda fit this strategy statement that we’re making. And so that kind of simplifies the yes/no decisions. ‘Cause then you’re like, “Well does it fit our strategy?”
32:09 Maggie Van Dagens: Yes, you’re right.
32:10 Kurt Baker: And then you can kinda easily say, “Well, no, that doesn’t… Maybe a great idea, but it doesn’t really fit the strategy.”
32:14 Maggie Van Dagens: Yes. I have an interesting story to tell you. Way back when I was a junior writer at Campbell Ewald in Detroit there was a senior… We were working on a new calculator, it was, and there was a senior writer who came in to help us and he had this brilliant idea. It was hysterically funny, it was taking place in a medieval castle and the defenders of the castle were counting up how much boiling oil they had or how many stones they had to throw down at the enemy, what they had. And they did it on the calculator, it was great and we were sitting there laughing. We, junior writers, we were sitting there laughing, “This is so funny, I hope I can write something this funny one day”. Well, we came back to work the next day and the senior writer had been fired.
33:09 Kurt Baker: Oh.
33:11 Maggie Van Dagens: Yes.
33:11 Kurt Baker: That doesn’t sound so… [chuckle]
33:13 Maggie Van Dagens: Yes.
33:14 Kurt Baker: That doesn’t sound so good.
33:14 Maggie Van Dagens: And the reason why is his commercial was not on strategy. And he knew better, he knew better.
33:21 Kurt Baker: Okay, okay.
33:24 Maggie Van Dagens: And the night before, when we were working, he left early because everybody was cheering his commercial and he said, “Well, I’m going home I know I’ve really done it”.
33:32 Kurt Baker: But he didn’t stay on strategy.
33:33 Maggie Van Dagens: He didn’t stay on strategy. He was way off strategy. He was fired for being off…
33:38 Kurt Baker: Wow, yeah, that… [chuckle] I think he was upset.
33:43 Maggie Van Dagens: That was a big lesson to all of us, of the importance of a strategy.
33:47 Kurt Baker: Right, right. Absolutely. So, anyway, we got the strategy and then… So now we have the strategy, so then what do you do next? Now you have the strategy, you have to implement the strategy. What happens next?
34:02 Maggie Van Dagens: Well, that’s when Gordon and I go off and scratch our heads and start working to make it look right on paper. Well, on a static website. And, as I said, a time that there will be a lot of process back and forth with a client, maybe more than in developing the strategy because we’re showing pictures the websites are very visual medium we’re starting to show pictures we’re suggesting pictures, Gordon’s doing layout with pictures, I am suggesting lines that might go with the pictures, all of that sort of thing is moving along, and that’s when there is really time spent, back and forth. I would say a custom website the kind that we do probably takes about three months and the first month is going back and forth working with the client, making sure it’s exactly the way he wants then we get it over to Joe and he does coding and the coding is very tricky, it’s all very personal to that website, it does things that other formatted websites cannot do. And that’s probably another two-month process.
35:23 Kurt Baker: So actually to get down to the site itself right, and make it function? So first you start off with the function, basically the layout in a static way that almost sounds like the story boards situation right.
35:35 Maggie Van Dagens: Right. Yes, it does it does, yeah.
35:36 Kurt Baker: So you start off with just putting pictures and things like that and then we go on from there, and then it takes about three months. ’cause you’re doing customize because the inner the back end of this thing is far more complicated that most people think, they see the results, right.
35:50 Maggie Van Dagens: Yes.
35:50 Kurt Baker: They don’t realize that there is a lot of functionality goes on behind that. So you start off with, you want the look and feel of it set up once the client agrees to that, then you can work on the functionality underneath and making all of it actually operate the way they wanna operate it and we could talk a little bit more about all of that when we come back in just a few minutes.
36:09 Announcer: It’s all about how you manage your money. Now, let’s get back to learning how from Kurt Baker, of Certified Wealth Management and Investment with Master Your Finances.
36:21 Kurt Baker: Welcome back you’re listening to Master Your Finances. I am Kurt Baker, Certified Financial Planner Professional, here with Maggie Van Dagens and we’ve been having a lot of fun here, and we’re now down to the process where just before we left before the break, we’d set up a static website, so we have good feedback from the client. We understand what our strategy is, and have a hidden strategy statement that we’re gonna follow and make our decisions based on that, which really kinda dictates the things that we’re gonna use as far as how we present and how we try to connect with our clients. So now that you got the static right, you said this takes a bit of time and then you gotta actually turn that into a functional website, right?
37:00 Maggie Van Dagens: Yes.
37:00 Kurt Baker: So this thing that kinda looks changing from a photograph to something that’s actually interactive it does what you want it to do, and that’s far more complicated than I think most people realize you can’t just necessarily plug things in, ’cause everybody’s process is a little bit different. So how do you kinda work through that and do you have any examples of how maybe that works out?
37:18 Maggie Van Dagens: Yes, so I do. This is… A lot of people will go to a simple… To a formatter to create a website, if you come to a company like J&M or another advertising agency website developer, they should have the ability to create these functions that formatted sites don’t have. An example is we did a site recently for someone who had some space they wanted to rent. The client wanted to have a certain set of criteria that the renter had to follow before the client could approve it and the client wanted to be able to approve it online.
38:03 Maggie Van Dagens: So Joe, our beloved coder went through all these steps, Joe and I worked with the client in writing the steps, because the client’s initial steps were kind of convoluted, and we simplified it and then with each step that we wrote, then Joe would set it up so that it would come up another page or whatever or a pop-up on that page or whatever so that the viewer could rent the space as simply as possible. And then not only did we rent the space as the client… We put up a contract that the client could sign online, this is becoming more and more frequent that there are things that you can just sign online and then that all went to the client the client could improve it online and send it back. Or say, you didn’t fill out… Well, of course, we made things that you couldn’t go to the next page without filling out. The client, could approve it online and it became a pretty simple transaction.
39:13 Kurt Baker: So something that probably took them, I would assume more time is now simplified into something that takes a lot less time. So this help with their time efficiency?
39:19 Maggie Van Dagens: It helped very much with their time efficiency, very much with the staff of this place that wanted to rent the space. Yes, it was a big boon to the administrative people, and it actually took days to get it all set up, just the way that both the client and our marketing recommendations coincided and hopefully the clients… The prospects like it and are filling it out online.
39:49 Kurt Baker: It’s good. I think these processes are kinda good because you’d mentioned that it simplified their process, it forces the business owner to really think about, if I’m trying to rent this space and whatever it is, what is my process and does it really make a lot of sense from my perspective or does it make a lot of sense from my potential customer or client’s perspective? Am I putting more barriers in the way, am I making this thing more difficult than it needs to be? So when you systematize it like this, it really makes you think about each and every little step that you’re going through and what may or may not happen at each of those junctures, right? Because the programmer has to put it in the programming. [chuckle]
40:27 Maggie Van Dagens: Yes. Kurt, you’re absolutely right about that. This is another one where there was a lot of back and forth between the client and us because what… Is this gonna make it more complicated for the prospect to rent the space? What do we do? How do we adapt to this? Is it written up in a too complicated a form? Does this belong on one page or another page? So there was a lot of back and forth in getting it just the way the client wanted it.
40:55 Kurt Baker: Right. So ultimately it was very successful to save them a lot of time and now I’m sure the people that are trying to rent the space, they’re probably having a better experience as well. Probably better access to the space, right?
41:05 Maggie Van Dagens: Yes, yes.
41:06 Kurt Baker: So I’m gonna guess here, are they keeping the space more rented now?
41:10 Maggie Van Dagens: Well, it was…
41:10 Kurt Baker: Because it so much easier. Did it help or didn’t it matter from that perspective?
41:13 Maggie Van Dagens: [chuckle] We really don’t know because it was a brand new space so we can’t… We have no past comparison.
41:19 Kurt Baker: Oh, okay. So you don’t know. No historic data, okay.
41:20 Maggie Van Dagens: Yes, but they are renting the space. So I think that’s a good thing, I think that would say success.
41:27 Kurt Baker: Right. Okay, good, well then it worked. That’s what matters. It’s key to set up the process. Do we talk about videos at all? How do you see video impacting websites and how do you see business owners use it or not use it, do they overuse it, they underuse it? ‘Cause that’s one of the things I just hear about now, that we should have more content.
41:46 Maggie Van Dagens: Yes, yes. I have some strong opinions about video. They have to be good, they can’t be boring. Nobody’s gonna watch a long boring video for two minutes or three minutes. They should be short, they should be good, they should spend some money on getting a good videographer, getting a good director, doing it right. If you’re gonna do a video, do it right.
42:10 Kurt Baker: Okay, so you’re saying that the quality of the content still matters. So you’re trying to sell us, right? [chuckle]
42:15 Maggie Van Dagens: I’m telling you that, yes, the quality of the content always matters, always.
42:21 Kurt Baker: Right. So there’s services out there, I’m assuming, that can help with somebody that wants to do video content. So you can say, “Hey look, I want to do videos.” And I’m assuming they can help walk through that part of it, just like you did with the writers. You can outsource this, somebody can help you do this stuff.
42:37 Maggie Van Dagens: Well, we would pick a videographer that would fit the client. Some people are better doing interviews and we wouldn’t pick that if you were showing a lot of product in a video. We would pick a videographer who would be good at that, showing products. If you wanna scan down a lot of products. And we are always… Gordon is the director and I’m always on a video shoot as well. We don’t outsource writers, I’m the writer.
43:11 Kurt Baker: Right. Yeah, you mentioned that. You are right. That you’ve been doing that for years, right?
43:14 Maggie Van Dagens: Yeah, yeah. So we don’t outsource design or writing. Gordon will often use stock photos and he will do the Photoshopping, he’s retouching as well.
43:29 Kurt Baker: Okay, so a lot of it is done in-house, it sounds like, ’cause you have expertise between the group… The team you have, right?
43:35 Maggie Van Dagens: Yes, the team. It’s a great team.
43:36 Kurt Baker: Right, right.
43:37 Maggie Van Dagens: Maybe the best team I’ve ever worked with in all my years in the business.
43:40 Kurt Baker: That’s pretty amazing considering some of the places you worked. That’s pretty amazing.
43:43 Maggie Van Dagens: Yes, they really are top notch all of them. Gordon also has the same big ad agency background that I do. Joe has been a coder since the ’90s.
43:55 Kurt Baker: Since the ’90s? [chuckle]
43:57 Maggie Van Dagens: Yeah, yeah.
43:58 Kurt Baker: So shortly after Microsoft went public. [laughter]
44:00 Maggie Van Dagens: Well, you know what? In 1994, I was sitting in the boardroom in Prudential and they were saying only 10% of the public has been on the internet. Now, I would say only 1% of the public has not been on the internet.
44:18 Kurt Baker: I think 90% is on the internet constantly it seems like. [laughter]
44:20 Maggie Van Dagens: Yes, yes.
44:22 Kurt Baker: If you go to any kind of open area place where you see lots of people, it seems like they’re all walking with their phones in front of their faces these days.
44:29 Maggie Van Dagens: Yeah.
44:29 Kurt Baker: And that’s the other thing. Mobile content, I guess, has become important. The website design has to be friendly, right?
44:34 Maggie Van Dagens: Yes, yes, absolutely. And I would tell anybody out there who happens to be listening, if they don’t have a responsive website, it’s called a responsive website, that opens up automatically full screen on any device that you open it on, from your mobile phone to your iPad to your laptop to your PC. If they don’t have that, they need to get a new website now. Google is penalizing you for not having a responsive website, you’re not ranking as high and the public is just gonna turn away from that because the public expects that now, they don’t expect… Remember how a few years ago on the mobiles, you had to do your fingers apart [laughter] to make things big. Now they expect it… People expect your mobile site to fit the screen.
45:29 Kurt Baker: I agree, I agree. So it’s very important to stay up to date ’cause I know this, more stuff than ever was sold on Black Friday mobile, right?
45:37 Maggie Van Dagens: Yes.
45:37 Kurt Baker: It was some enormous number of money, I don’t know what it was. It was some ridiculous amount of money we spent sitting on our mobile device. I think that included the iPads, but the phones and the iPad type things and the tablets I guess now. So that’s becoming more important so it’s important.
45:51 Kurt Baker: Maggie, I appreciate you coming on and talking to us today, it’s very exciting. So you’ve got kind of the small marketing agency really with the big ad agency background so you guys are really taking to this new format this new thing with the mobile and the web designs and stuff, and taking all your many, many years of expertise in marketing and really using the web as a way to understand your prospects better, right? Their problems, their products and breaking that boredom barrier, right?
46:20 Maggie Van Dagens: Yes.
46:20 Kurt Baker: Then getting out there and making the site really customizable ’cause I know we’ve all seen these formatted sites, which are kind of a basic thing, but if you really wanna get serious about using the site in an interactive way you kind of have to customize and really make it, the process work for your clients and understand who your clients are and what your marketing strategy is. So that is really key. And of course, last but not least, we talked about how it really has to be mobile responsive because more and more people are really using their phones and tablets to do commerce and to really interact with people. So we appreciate that again.
46:52 Kurt Baker: And I am Kurt Baker here and I can be reached at 609-716-4700 or the website is www.cwmi.us, our Facebook page is facebook.com/masteryourfinances. Again, you can listen to all of our podcasts, including this one at masteryourfinances.us. Together we can master your finances so you can reach financial peace of mind.
47:19 Announcer: It’s all about how you manage your money. Now, let’s get back to learning how, from Kurt Baker, of Certified Wealth Management and Investment with Master Your Finances.