Michael Jans: Jerry Jones, thanks for joining us Jerry how are you?
Jerry Jones: I’m fantastic, how are you doing Michael?
Michael: Well, I’m doing good so let’s give a little background on our relationship and then, of course, your area of expertise. You and I have known each other for goodness’ sakes, I’m saying 20 years, but maybe 15, what do you think?
Jerry: I’m going to push almost 20.
Michael: Almost 20, yes.
Michael: Our relationship largely has been knocking around very similar circles, the direct marketers, the coaches the marketing advisers, not in the insurance industry, but in a variety of verticals. You and I were learning from many of the same mentors two-three decades ago and we ended up just knocking around in the same mastermind groups; some formal, some informal and ultimately, learning from each other and learning from a lot of our peers. Your area of expertise, you are one of the premier “marketing gurus” in the country for small business and have chosen largely to focus most of your client work on the dental industry.
Michael: Somebody might be saying– The listeners might be thinking, “Well, you said dentist guy. What am I going to learn from him?” I want to hear your response to that one. Why should an insurance agency principal or an insurance pro, why should they pay attention to what’s happening in the dental world?
Jerry: I think probably the easiest relationship gap builder there how are they related is going to be consumer. They’re both consumer-oriented businesses that require a high level of trust. One could argue that a dental practice or a dental business requires an even higher level of trust. However, I don’t know if that necessarily be the case because I think about the power my insurance guy, the guy that I buy all my policies from, which he’s done a great job cross selling me by the way.
Michael: [chuckles] Good.
Jerry: Phenomenal job. Frankly, he’s got my life in his hands, if crap hits the fan, right?
Jerry: Much more important to me then than a dentist, but to get inside someone’s mouth is a pretty intimate process. Right?
Michael: [laughs] Right.
Jerry: Those are the base level. I think the bigger one that’s maybe a lot more understandable, more conversational, simply is that they both rely on repeat business from the same customers. The better we are doing our marketing thing, the bigger the book of business or the tribe or the patient base that we build. Some of the same principles apply, there’s few that don’t apply. There’s fewer that don’t than do.
Michael: You know that back in the day, it was common for somebody to say in a marketing conference, “Gosh, everything you’re saying sounds great, but my business is different.” We probably heard that until we were blue in the face. I’m sure you’ve heard that from dentists and I know I’ve heard that from insurance agents and brokers. Yes, certainly we can find points of difference, but it’s almost like DNA, most of what we’re doing is exactly the same. The insurance consumer and the dental consumer, you know what? They’re the same person, right?
Michael: It’s the same person who is, perhaps, back in the day, in the old school method, they would say, “I need a new dentist. I’m new in the area or I had a bad experience with my dentist,” or whatever, “I have a toothache, what am I going to do? I’m going to go find the yellow pages and see which ad mysteriously appeals to me and make a phone call or two and then boom, I got a dentist.”
Not too different than perhaps what the insurance consumer thought many, many years ago. Now, they’re the exact same person, “I need a dentist. I need an insurance agent. What am I going to do? I’m probably going to kid online. Unless I have a referral from a colleague or a friend, I’m probably going to get online and do some research.” I’ll be influenced by many things about which I am unconscious, maybe the number of five-star reviews or the copy, the offers, the phrasing, perhaps the overall appropriate attention to branding and then I’m going to make my decision.
Ultimately, just scratch a little bit deeper and because they are the same person, it seems that regardless of the media. The media has changed a lot. You and I have been through numerous media that came and went, but ultimately, the human being doesn’t change that much. I know we say that, “The values of the Millennial may be different than the values of the Boomer or the values of certain individuals, they’re different,” but ultimately, we are largely comprised by similar psychological motivations and the job of the marketers to reach inside their mind and heart and make an offer they can’t refuse. [laughs] Lesson number one, I don’t–
Jerry: You made a very convincing case for me. [laughs]
Michael: What’s that?
Jerry: You made a very convincing case for me.
Michael: I’ve made a really good case. Sure, you’re right. What I wanted to establish was that, you and I know marketers in virtually every field and we probably could jump from one to the other to the other of the other and discover that, “Gosh. Very, very similar things are happening in every single vertical because changes in consumer behavior,” caused, at least in my argument, largely by changes in technology. The technology changes the way they research, the way they communicate, the way they network, the way they shop. [laughs]
Jerry: Which by the way, you and I have talked, we talked a little bit about this not long ago, about the changes in the retail insurance industry and the changes in the dental industry and they parallel each other. Right now, what’s happening in insurance is happening in dentistry. Some changes for the better, some temporarily painful and for the worse, but like any industry, they mature and they change.
You got to get on your horse and be ready for the ride wherever it may go.
Michael: Let’s take a moment and talk about this. Tell us, and maybe this is just a point of curiosity for me, but I suspect some of our listeners may want to look for– Let’s just do it. What’s happening in the dental industry that is causing some concern, consternation or disruption? Because there’s plenty that’s happening in the insurance industry that’s causing concern, consternation or disruption. That is partly out of curiosity. What’s happening over there?
Jerry: The biggest change in the last 5 to 10 years, and I wrote about this 15 years ago, is a move from small solo practices. What I mean by that is one doctor opened three to four days a week, maybe five if he’s industrious, but small business guy, he’s doing 50 to maybe $120,000 a month in business, in revenue. That’s a small dental practice. Those are becoming dinosaurs.mThey’re being gobbled up by private equity firms. They’re being gobbled up by consolidation. There are a number of moves afoot within the industry to build groups of practices that have loose alignment.
Michael: Pace of consolidation in the insurance industry fastest it’s ever been, presence of private equity in the insurance industry as robust as it’s ever been by probably a factor of 10x and a number of these, like your last point clusters and networks over half of the industry is a member of a cluster network, maybe well beyond half. I’m curious about something. I may get into trouble with some of my friends and colleagues who run private equity firms, but let me ask you a question about this.
In our space, I’m seeing that the private equity strategy largely is to increase volume, but I have not seen a lot of evidence so far that they are game changing through innovation or through absolutely superior marketing that what they’re doing is that they’re taking a lot of the old-school agencies or really good agencies who are trying their best to come into the new age. They’re aggregating them or bringing them together in some larger organization, but they haven’t turned the world upside down in terms of the quality, the marketing, the messaging, the mastery of media and so on and so forth. What do you see over there? Are some of these dental practices actually killing it, the big ones?
Jerry: I’ll answer that with a statement from a dear long-term client of mine. I’ll give you some background on him. He owns multiple dental practices. He employs 8 or 10, I don’t know what the number is the dentists, 30 some hygienists. He’s got a big business, big for a dentist, all by himself. He’s got a big business and he’s slowly been selling his business piece by piece to the other docs, a very smart strategy by the way. He is one of these guys that can’t sit still. He’s in his 60s, he’s antsy as heck. He no longer practices dentistry.
He hasn’t practiced probably in 10 years. He’s on the side lines watching the stuff happen. He’s like, “Hey, I had to go and work in the fields where I want to know more about,” so he gets a job with a dental insurance company. He builds a dental insurance organization within a huge insurance company. Then he leaves that job, learned a bunch, left it. Then he goes and he works for a big DSO. What a DSO is, they call them Dental Service Organizations or Dental Support Organizations. What they are is they’re an aggregator of practices.
They go and they buy up, maybe, 100 practices. Anyway, here’s what he learned. He said, “The large groups, the DSOs, they have two advantages. One is they get supplies cheaper. Two, is they have economy of scale or two other areas at most. The problem that they have is the same problem that every business has and that is the people.” The skill levels of the doctors that these companies are employing are not the greatest.
Michael: Are they different than they are anywhere else?
Jerry: A lot of the doctors that are attracted to the big companies are attracted to the big companies because they promise student loan payments. They promise a fixed salary. It’s security. You’re not getting the best of the best.
Michael: The entrepreneurs. Okay. Got it.
Jerry: You’re not getting entrepreneurs for sure, but you’re not getting the best of the best. A personal experience of mine, I can attest to that on a very micro-level, personal experience, I won’t get into it on here, it could get me in trouble. I totally understand where he’s coming from. Skill level is different. If somebody said to me, “Hey, Jerry. Would you rather go to a dental practice that advertises on TV that has 300 locations or would you rather go to John Smith DDF solo practitioner guy, has 3 staff people, he’s 55 years old.” I tell you. I’ll go to that guy any day of the week.
Michael: Got it.
Jerry: Does that make a comparison in what’s happening as far as– They’re not marketing better, they’re worse. They’re horrible marketers, horrible, but they have money.
Michael: Okay, look, the average dental practice is not like a killer marketer that’s making the front page of Wired or Inc Magazine either.
Jerry: Oh, no. Definitely not.
Michael: All right, fair enough.
Jerry: Definitely not.
Michael: Let’s zero in. Our listeners are largely going to be retail agents, so they want to grow. Here’s what we’re looking for. Over the years, I have often found that the solution I’m looking for isn’t in the industry I’m working in. The solution I’m working for was figured out by somebody else and it’s my job to patch it into this industry. I’m looking for corollaries about what’s really working for a small business known as a dentist today. Let’s start at the beginning.
My sense, in the insurance industry, you’re going to have a hard time picking up a trade magazine or listening to a reasonably thoughtful message from an insurance carrier or you’re going to have a tough time going to a conference without hearing people tell you that the world has changed, that you need to master certain digital technologies and that you got to wake up, you got to get woke and come into the modern era because there is a modern consumer. Is the dental industry experiencing that difficult waking up period?
Jerry: Yes. I think so. A lot of the methods that we’ve used in the past to attract patients still work with some change. There’s been some modification over years but when it comes right down to it, a dental practice without a website, without a lot of reviews, a lot of positive five star reviews, some fours maybe in there, but definitely a lot of fives, is not going to generate the phone call that they could otherwise.
Michael: Okay. Presumably, maybe everybody just absolutely knows it. You think in our space everybody absolutely knows you’ve got to have a website. Now, unfortunately, for a lot of people, that means check the box. Got the website? Cool. Got the Facebook page? Cool. Maybe send something out once every week or two, cool. Maybe got my marketing automation, so now we’re communicating with their list frequently and adding value. We’re starting to get a little more sophisticated there. In your space when you’re working with your clients, take us to the very beginning, what are they absolutely? Is it the website with the reviews? Is that? You need that?
Jerry: I think you’re going to have it. You’re going to have it.
Michael: Okay, that’s not like marketing 202. That’s barely marketing 101.
Jerry: Yes, you got it.
Michael: Okay, is there a pretty good recognition?
Jerry: Yes. There is, and it’s getting better. We’re onboarding two members right now onto our digital side that they have websites, but they’ve had the same website for probably 10 years. It’s a $99 a month website. They’ve been paying $99 a month for 10 years.
Michael: All right. Sure, just getting killed with traffic, right?
Jerry: Yes. It’s overwhelming, which is why they’re calling us, right?
Jerry: [unintelligible 00:25:59] I guess I need to do something. You think? It’s a good idea, [unintelligible 00:26:03].
Michael: Okay. Obviously, it needs to be a website that meets minimal criteria, at least. Let’s talk about beyond that, reviews, critically important?
Jerry: Huge. You can have a Facebook page only and have reviews and still get calls, but reviews are huge, they’re critical. They are the equivalent of having testimonials on your printed offline marketing pieces 5 years ago, 10 years ago, 30 years ago. They’re more important [unintelligible 00:26:43].
Michael: In working with your customers, with your dental clients, how do you tell them to get reviews?
Jerry: Most of these things today are automated. As an example, we have a software that we resell because there’s no point in trying to fix something on them because there’s nothing broken that they do. We’re a reseller for a software that is used actually in probably seven or eight industries. Dental is one. Audiology, chiropractic, whatever. It’s actually a company that could work with any industry at all, but that company has so many things that they’ve built into their software from generating reviews to appointment reminders. It’s just crazy.
We use an automated system like that. You’re looking at 10 bucks a day tops. It’s going to solicit reviews and rather than send them to Google or Yelp directly, it puts them through, what’s called, a review gate. If you get a one-star review, it isn’t going to necessarily go on Google, it’s going to go to a review gate where the individual can complain, whine or whatever the case might be or have a legitimate beef and have that delivered directly to the business owner rather than have it go online. It gives the business owner an opportunity to fix what’s broken before it goes public.
Michael: Okay, got it. All right. They need a modern website and if they haven’t refreshed it in whatever–
Jerry: A couple of years.
Michael: A couple of years. Okay. Then, let’s talk about attracting traffic, what do you tell your clients to do to get traffic to that dental website?
Jerry: The reviews actually are a huge component of that. What we’re seeing, at least, at the moment that we’re recording this, businesses that have high review numbers, a lot of reviews, they don’t have to be all five-star, but just a lot of– To me, a lot of reviews is over 50. We have dental practices that have hundreds of reviews, they cannot be beat at the organic search game.
Michael: Got it. Okay.
Jerry: They just can’t.
Michael: Now, what about content? It’s a little bit challenging sometimes for me to convince insurance agents that they need to blog, not because they don’t realize the importance of it because once it’s explained, it’s obvious, but it’s a change in behavior and changing behavior is hard. What do you do there, Jerry?
Jerry: That’s a tough one, Michael. The big reason why I’ve got the same challenge you just enunciated. Talking to a dentist about, “You need to have a podcast, you need to have a blog, you need to have an Instagram account, you need to have this, you need to have that.” All these digital assets, you got to have them, but then, you got to do stuff with them.
It’s very difficult and I understand this, I totally get it, but in their mind, “I understand I need to do all the things, but today I need a butt in my app. I need a rear end in the chair that I can diagnose and potentially do some treatment on.” That’s where their heads at. To get them to focus on doing activities that are going to generate future opportunities much more challenging.
Michael: Let me throw one at you here. The regular listeners of this particular podcast series, will recognize that from time to time I interview a very successful insurance agent, generally a client of Agency Revolution or a client of Michael Jans. As often as not, they might say something like, “I haven’t sold an insurance policy in 10 years, 20 years, or, in the case of Ellie, 35 years. They really perceived themselves first as entrepreneurs, and second, happen to be in the insurance industry.
Now, it’s a tough transition for people to make. In your case, I’m sure that you’ve got an overwhelming percentage of clients who are thinking just like you said a moment ago, “Gosh, I would love to spend more time on my marketing, but what I really need is a butt in a seat and a mouth open with a drill on it or whatever.” To some extent, that might be comfort level. “It’s what I’m trained to do.
I went to school for 16 years to do it.” Or it may be that it’s the business model. Like, the cash flow is “put people in the seat for me, because I’m the practitioner”. It might be easier for some insurance agents to build a business that doesn’t rely on them. I’m curious, how do you deal with that one? That’s true, in every single small business, going back to the E-Myth and Michael Gerber, we know that. That being a technician tops out, being a leader never tops out. What do you do about that?
Jerry: You can leave the horse to water, but good luck getting him to stoop his neck down and start drinking. Michael came for me at a point of self realization. I heard that enough. I read Gerber’s book two times. I bought his second book. It’s like when you’re exposed to something new, and you really start drilling down what you learn, far exceeds what you ever thought, there might be of value in a certain area.
There isn’t really anything you or I can do, other than to continue to demonstrate the difference between being a technician and being a business owner. Quick story, here’s how I’ve tried to make the impact in the dentistry. 16 years ago this month, I opened a dental practice, a dental office. I had zero patients, I didn’t have a doctor. He quit. Actually, he sent me a fax from five miles away, telling me he decided he didn’t want to do it.
Michael: You’re not a dentist.
Jerry: I’m not.
Michael: People should be aware that.
Jerry: Right, it’s not like I could go in there and see a patient.
Michael: [laughs]You could put on– I mean, you had the equipment.
Jerry: I know I could have at least shone a light in there. I had nothing. I had a $250,000 investment in a leased business suite, that’s what I have. No patients, no doctor, no staff and anything, no team, no nothing. I had to build it from scratch, but 15 and a half years later, 6 months ago roughly today, no not quite 6 months, 5 months, whatever. Five months today, I sold the business. For 15 years, I didn’t see a single patient, yet I own a dental office and I built one of the most successful dental offices in the state.
That was hard. It wasn’t easy, but I did it outside looking in, I did it as a business owner would do it, not as a technician would do it. I didn’t have any choice. I wrote about that a lot. I shared what I was battling a lot. I think it gave, and it still gives a lot of people a different perspective about building a business, building a practice. Many of them get hung up on the fact that, “Oh it’s got to be me doing it.”
Actually, no it doesn’t. That’s your ego talking, that’s your insecurities talking, that’s not reality. You can only do so much but by demonstration. You show them what they should be focused on if they want something bigger. Some guys don’t, and that’s another hard realization I had, Michael, is that, not every business owner wants to be out of the technician’s seat. That’s comfort is what they know.
Michael: They probably want to have a reasonably good business that allows them to be a technician that’s always got to, like, next.
Jerry: Right. I’m in demand, look at me, I’m successful. I got a business, [crosstalk]
Michael: Fair enough.
Jerry: That’s fine. That’s fully fine.
Michael: Let’s say your dream customer, your best client, they’re growing and they are leaving the industry behind. Which is what we see in our space is that there seems to be a small and growing tribe of agents who are just willing to leave the insurance, the rest of the insurance industry behind, because they know that the pace of change is faster in the world than it is inside most agencies, and that’s not acceptable. They want their pace to be at least as fast as the world. Presumably let’s say you’ve got one of those guys, or more. What’s going on? What are they doing that is working so well, and perhaps what are they not doing anymore?
Jerry: I think there’s a two-part track to this. One part is accepting an almost blind or maybe it’s split, I’m going to say it’s split. Half of the docs that are in that pool you just described. The ones that I call them giraffes, their heads stick out and they’re seeing things nobody else is seeing. [crosstalk]
Michael: I like that. Those are the giraffes of the industry, right?
Michael: Okay, that’s a good one. Those are the listeners of this podcast.
Jerry: We’re talking of the giraffes.
Michael: They are the insurance giraffes.
Jerry: I love it man, that is a great term. They’re doing one of either on one track of the other when it comes to this part of it. They either blindly accept all new technology and just implement it in math. In other words, it might not even be 100% great to have, but by God they’re going to go on experiment with it and bring it into their practice and try it. They’re trying everything from a tech standpoint.
Michael: By the way, we see. We see, and I think more than I did three or four years ago, agents who recognize the technology multiplies productivity and multiplies capability, and they’re willing to test it. Maybe if from time to time try a technology that’s before the curve.
Michael: All right, fair enough. Sometimes it’s a home run, sometimes it’s a single and sometimes it’s a fall out and they get rid of it.
Jerry: I mean, they get bloody and whatever.
Michael: The other half?
Jerry: That’s part of the group. The other part of the group is, they have identified a business model that throws off so darn much cash, they don’t care what’s going on around them. They’re literally ignoring everybody else. If you think about this, this is more like not an ostrich, but this is a critter that would borough and make– He would be 200 yards ahead of you, and you won’t even know it because he’s underground. He’s not visible, he’s not making waves, waving his arms saying, “Hey, look at how great I am.” He’s keeping his mouth shut. He’s got his nose to the grindstone, he’s got a formula that’s working and he’s just pranking. He or she is just pranking.
Michael: What is he doing? What can be the nature of the business model with the unfair advantage?
Jerry: I think it’s the power of understanding your ideal customer for you. For you, not for Michael Jans, not for Jerry Jones, but for you. I’ll give an example, he’s now retired and you’ll know why in a second. This guy struggled for 30 years in dentistry. He never did more than about a million bucks.
Michael: I don’t know what that means.
Jerry: In dentistry, million bucks a year is not a huge milestone anymore.
Michael: Net that out, what does he take home?
Jerry: Maybe 250, 300.
Michael: Okay, fair enough.
Jerry: 25% roughly. This was that guy and he struggled and really tried, really tried. One day, things just melted together for him. He was exposed to the right people at the right time. The old saying, when the student is ready the teacher appears. He had multiple teachers appear at once. He was smart enough to stop, look around, understand what has just happened and understand what was right for him at that moment. In a space of two years he went from about a million a year to over 4 million a year where he was netting a million a year. He did that for about four, five years straight and then sold out.
He found a formula that worked for him, that nobody else was doing and other people would look at and look down their nose, “You do that? You don’t do implants. You don’t do dentures. You don’t do orthodontics. Well, what do you do?” “I do fillings, which I’m going to name off common dental procedures. I do crowns, fillings, and we prevent dental problems. I have a strong hygiene department.” His hygiene department, by the way, was putting up all his profits. All of his money was coming from hygiene.
Michael: All right.
Jerry: You’re going for your dental exam and your hygiene as in they clean your teeth. That’s where he’s- [crosstalk]
Michael: What did he do that was different?
Jerry: A hyperfocus on what the obvious was. He looked at, in my dental office, in my business he did 80, 20, where’s 80% of my profits coming from? The 20% where he wasn’t generating profits sloughed off to the side, which was all the things I just said; dentures, orthodontics, big cases, implants, all that stuff. Those are all big dollar per procedures, but they’re not great procedures to be doing a few of. You know what I mean?
Jerry: There’s a misconception. Dentists are misguided about this. He said, “What’s the most profitable procedure for me to do?” Turns out it was a sealant. A sealant does not require him to apply it, it requires a hygienist or a dental assistant. Once he found out that he could charge $50 per tooth for a sealant, and people would pay it and he did not have to deliver the work. He got out of his own way, put his ego aside and re-engineered his business, and it blew up by a hyperfocus on the most profitable procedures for him.
Michael: All right. Clearly, the business model matters, the focus on the ideal customer matters. He must have done something to generate more leads.
Jerry: Surprisingly, no. Here’s what he did to differentiate himself in his community. He did it for about the last six years that he was in practice, and it’s wildly successful.
Michael: What did he do?
Jerry: He held an event once a year. The last year he held the event, he had the local hospital, he had the local TV station, he had major sponsors that I actually helped him gather them up because he wanted to go out with– big events and I said, “Look, shouldn’t come from your pocket. Let’s find sponsors.” Whatever you need, let’s find a sponsor that will provide it which is what we did. Sent letters to about 20 companies. He did not have a single penny into his last two years of putting on these massive events. The events they’re kid focused.
Michael: Okay. Got it. [crosstalk] Right. Okay. I’ve got clients who do that, very similar things, focusing on safety and family and community. Community engagement, then became his lead gen?
Michael: Okay. All right. Again, back to your ideal customers, let’s go through a few things and you mentioned a few here. Typically, when we think about digital marketing, think about any kind of marketing, we could divide it into three buckets. One is, who’s the market? It sounds like focusing attention on who you want is going to matter there as it is over here in the insurance side, and then you’ve got the messaging. There you’ve got content, and then you’ve got the media. We’ve got the market, the messaging and the media. Talk to us for a moment about messaging, about content, the guys who are really killing it, what content are they putting out there?
Jerry: I think a vast majority of their content is generated by their customers. I think they are not generating the content themselves.
Michael: Okay. Are they writing books? Are they blogging? You mentioned podcast and Instagram, what stuff are they putting in the world?
Jerry: Books are getting bigger all the time. We have more dentists with the credential of an author- [crosstalk] we ever had and we’re helping them with that. Push that narrative. It lends credibility and trust. I call it the Dr Oz phenomenon. If you want to be Dr Oz, you got to get yourself out there with trust-based stuff like books, like shows, like interviewing expert, and those kinds of things. Those are all big.
Michael: Sure. Right. That’s a good name, or the Dr Phil phenomena could be right. Is Dr Oz a better doctor than other doctors? A lot of people would say, no. Is Dr Phil a better psychotherapist than others? He’s pretty solid. He seems to be pretty good, but he’s making 100x more than the average psychotherapist. What’s the difference? He’s putting content out there through a media that reaches a lot of people. Talk to me. I’m curious about this.
Because the analogy is important. If I were a dentist, and Jerry said to me, “You need a podcast,” and I’m thinking, “Who wants to listen to a podcast about teeth?” What’s your answer to that one?
Jerry: If it’s all about teeth, you’ve got your content totally- [crosstalk] Because it’s not. People don’t listen to Dr Phil or Dr Oz because all they want to know about is medical or psychotherapy topic. That’s a fraction. That’s a slice. They tune in because for some reason, Dr Phil is very entertaining.
Michael: Well, there’s entertainment value there for sure and their story. Like on Phil, there’s always a story and that’s interesting. I don’t know if you’ve got dentists with podcasts, but–
Jerry: There are a handful. Most you would have to drag, screaming, kicking, bloody, nails dug in, they’re not going to do it.
Michael: Okay. They won’t do it. Well, there are insurance agents with podcasts and the ones who are doing it right, clearly, they’re having success. I guess, since I’ve opened up that can of worms, the quality, the content matters, the preparation matters, the messaging matters, and they don’t just talk about insurance. They talk about what matters to the audience that they want. They’re listening to that audience.
I was on a webinar not long ago with an agent who has not a podcast, but a video series. One of his niches is truckers and his most popular content tends not to be about insurance, shocking, but it tends to be about sore backs. Because that’s a constant problem. I’m only slightly diverging from the topic here, but when we look at content, there’s top of the funnel stuff, which appeals to everybody in that niche.
Then there’s middle of the funnel stuff that appeals to those who now you’ve earned their trust, they want to learn a little bit more about you and maybe, you can answer some serious questions, in this case, about insurance, or at least about protection. Then there’s bottom of the funnel stuff, which is, “Here are three things you need to know about my agency that are just radically different than what you’re going to find anywhere else.” Presumably, a lot of the podcast stuff tends to be top of the funnel, middle of the funnel, not bottom of the funnel, where we’re talking about me and presumably, similarly, on the dental side.
Jerry: You just outlined a strategy behind any media. Most people have never heard what you just said that there’s actually strategy behind a podcast, a strategy behind picking the title. Because you want the most eyeballs to see the title. That means more people listening. Once you get them on the podcast, it’s trust building. Once you’ve built trust, then the message begins to filter through to them.
What you’re looking for as a business owner to sell them. Let’s be blunt. That’s very strategic. You don’t start at the top. If you need a life insurance policy, or if you need an auto policy, or if you need a home policy. That’s not where you start. You might start with 10 mistakes, 99% homeowners make, when they renew their homeowners insurance as an example.
Michael: Or you might even go higher and say 10 ways to protect your home from burglary.
Jerry: Absolutely- [crosstalk]
Michael: Real top of the funnel stuff.
Jerry: A far more broad appeal. Yes, absolutely.
Michael: First of all, your business does solve some problems for dentists. I mean you’ll actually do some of the stuff that they don’t want to do?
Jerry: Yes, exactly.
Michael: Yes, okay. Ultimately, your ideal customer has to do something. So I’ll give you an example, for example, with Agency Revolution, you set up the campaigns, they’re going to run by themselves. I mean, boom, they’re going to get triggered automatically by changes in the agency management system, but the power user, and what I mean by a power user is often they’re not just 10% better, they get it, they’re 10x better.
At some point, they’re going to say, “I’m going to create some original content because I’m the only one that really totally fully understands my relationship with my customers and my ideal prospects.” The more customized it is, the more powerful it is, the more universal it is, the little more watered down it is. In your ideal world, what are the kinds of things that you want your best customers to actually get their hands in and do?
Jerry: I think authorship is one. I mean it comes to mind just because we’re just talking about authorship of some kind. I mean you have to be willing to just sit down and do some writing, or you have to be willing to pay the price for ghostwriting. [crosstalk]
Michael: Right, right. Okay. No, ghostwriting is legitimate. If somebody says, “I’m not a writer,” that’s fine but just you have to be a thinker.
Jerry: You have to be a thinker and you have to be a communicator. If you’re neither, you become all tech and no business. Yes, you’ve got to have those. There’s authorship, you’ve got to be aware of the marketing technology that’s out there and you got to play around and experiment with new stuff that’s coming. You have to know what’s working. I could go on, I mean I could talk about Direct Mail, we could talk about market automation.
Michael: Okay. Well, it’s interesting you say. In this world, in this podcast world for which I am the host, the principles of digital marketing and marketing automation are a given. From time to time, people think, “Oh, that means that nothing else works,” and, frankly, some other stuff doesn’t work. There may be a few pockets left in the country where you should be advertising in your yellow pages, but it’s not enough for me to pay attention to.
There’s nowhere in the country where I think you shouldn’t have a website, you shouldn’t have appropriate mastery of your social media platforms, and there’s no place in the country, or in the continent, where you shouldn’t be regularly routinely adding value through email marketing and marketing automation.
From time to time, for example, I interviewed a client of mine, gets all of that stuff, Mike Alexander, he was a guest in the podcast not long ago. He’s growing at a clip. H,e’s very comfortable with more than 20% per year, year after year after year. Basically started from scratch and, now, over $3 million in income. Because 20%, that adds up after a few years, right?
Jerry: Oh man, yes, that’s huge. Yes, that’s a significant growth.
Michael: People were surprised when he said, “Oh yes, we still do Direct Mail.” He says, “I know how many leads I’m going to get off my postcard campaign based on how many I’m going to send out. Period.” How many can my system handle? So that’s interesting to me. Of course, he uses all the digital media, it’s like, “Yes, have to do that,” but haven’t given up on this other stuff because it’s still working. What do you see? In the surprise element here, what are some of the, “old-school technologies” that people are still getting traction from in your space?
Jerry: Well, my company’s mailing hundreds of thousands of postcards. We’ll mail millions of postcards this year. Millions upon millions of postcards. There’s another company, a huge company that is in a number of niches that all they do is mail postcards. That’s the name of the company, it’s like postcards.com or something, I don’t know what the name of the company is, but that’s all they do. So to think Direct Mail is dead or is going to die anytime soon, that’s a grave error in thinking. Now, I don’t encourage people to just go out and start doing direct mail without any knowledge, strategy, training–
Michael: Oh well, that part hasn’t changed. [laughs]
Jerry: That’s like losing money as fast as on a casino almost.
Michael: Right, right, right. No, the skillset, it does still need to be mastered. Because you can throw a lot of money away on it, buy some crappy list and send some awful copy and then say, “Oh no, Michael. I’ve done Direct Mail, it doesn’t work.”
Jerry: Yes, right. That’s Direct Mail, but more important than marketing strategy, I know this might be a hard one for some folks to even contemplate but-
Michael: Wait. Did you say, “More important than marketing strategy?”
Jerry: I did, yes. So here’s where we’re going with this. This goes back to the, I don’t know what years, and I’ll guess the ’50s. There was a famous guy, you’ve heard the quote, John Wanamaker, he was an ad man, from what I remember and what I understand about the guy, he was an ad man in the ’50. He had a famous quote, “50% of my marketing is wasted, I just don’t know which 50%.”
That is the problem that plagues every business and that’s a problem that, here at Jerry Jones Direct, we’ve solved, we have literally solved that problem. Now we’ve created a piece of software that gives us data that we’ve never been able to ever before have. Now, more important than strategy is the money I’m spending making money. Because if I’m not making any money on my marketing, I’ve got problems, but a lot of us are just guessers, “Oh well, I did this or I did that and it brought in a couple of clients and helped my book of business, I wrote 10 policies and I’m going to cross down on another 10.” That’s great but show me the money.
What happened to your profit/loss statement and what happened to the equity build in your business for every one of these new clients that you added? What kind of value are you adding your business? Beyond the PNL, what is happening to your business when you add 20 new clients a month? What does that look like? What’s the lifetime value of a client? The software we’ve developed gets into that, and the cool part is we’re getting information to our clients, our members, in a way that they’ve never seen it before.
Michael: Let me ask you four superfast questions. The average dental client, do they know how many leads they got last month?
Michael: Do they know what their conversion rate was from inbound inquiries per month?
Michael: Do they know what their revenue per client is?
Michael: Do they know what their annual retention is or renewal is?
Michael: Okay, got it. All right. [laughs]
Jerry: No. I can give you averages, industry averages, but no, they don’t know. By the way, they don’t talk in terms of leads, they just talk in terms of conversion. They only talk in terms of new patients. This is a fundamental issue in dentistry that they haven’t quite, as a group, figured out yet. In other words, it’s not something that one dentist talks to another dentist about in a regular conversation and that is how many people called your practice yesterday, or last week, or last month, that were not converted into a patient? Now, if we talk about those numbers, it’s sickening. I know, Michael, years ago, you developed a frontline training program for people who answer phones at agencies.
Michael: We did. Well, the CSR Mastery Program was incredibly successful because, well, we all have only a handful of skills or so many skills, so, most agents weren’t prepared to train, and mentor, and coach, and incentivize, monitor the behavior of the CSRs who answered the phone. We fixed that problem. So, I’m presuming.
In fact, I seem to remember that this is a story that I heard, I think it was in the dental field. You may know who I’m talking about, I forget his name, it’s been that many years. Got in front of an audience, it was an audience, like a boot camp. You got 300, 400, 500 and I think they were dentists. Essentially, he was saying, “Here are the seven most common things that Sally receptionist does wrong when she answers the phone.
One, two, three, four, five, six, seven.”
Then, he’d look out to the audience and, “How many of you do you think regularly, your staff, regularly commits these sins?” Well, not too many, maybe one or two. We’re bad on two of them, but we’re good on five. Then he says, “Well, I called call a bunch of your offices and this is what I heard.” [laughs] He starts playing recordings. Like, “Hello, ABC dentist,” Then, it’s just like boom, she commits all seven sins in the first 30 seconds, and everybody’s thinking “Well, that’s not my shop.” Then, it’s like, “Okay, I’m going to play another one,” he just totally brutalizes the audience.
Jerry: The whole audience, yes.
Michael: [laughs] Pretty common situation, wouldn’t you say?
Jerry: It’s absolutely true.
Michael: Okay. Because right now, I think most people, in the insurance industry, yes, we maybe are beginning to recognize that there’re CSRs who can sell and there’re CSR’s who can’t sell. We’ve run an omnia profile on them, so, I’ll put the CSRs who can sell on the phone. Boom, you’re on your own. Sally does it differently than Nancy and Nancy does it differently than Bob and, of course, everybody’s closing rate is different.
The great irony here is if I were the principal, there’s a direct line between my income and the health of the business and what Sally, Nancy, and Bob actually do for eight hours a day; answering phones, but they don’t have scripts, they don’t have processes, I’m not monitoring their performance. [laughs] They all get to do it their own way, it’s not a business. It’s a similar problem I presume.
Jerry: Well, it is.
Michael: Okay, got it. All right. I have an almost final question for you here, Jerry. I know you’ve read a lot of books in the marketing field, over the years, if you were going to recommend one or two books or maybe the books you’ve most gifted or the books that you recommend to your own clients, right now, what inspires you or what has inspired you either lately or over the years?
Jerry: Oh, there’s two books. I’m going to go for right now, because there’s always the classic book. If you’re bored and you don’t know what to do, go back and read Eric Hoffer’s The True Believer. Go back and read the classic books, Think or [unintelligible 01:01:55]. Your life today isn’t what it was 10 years ago when you read the book, so the perspectives you have now changed and the information that you interpret now and internalize changes.
Reading those books again is a huge tremendous value, most people don’t do that, they read a book once and that’s it, “Oh well, I’ve read that book,” is what they say. There’s always that, but there are two books, right now, that I have gifted 10 of each in just the last two weeks. One is Ray Dalio’s Principles, it’s an absolute killer book. You and I talked about this, the first third of the book is tough to get through.
Michael: Well, you’ve got to be interested in the story. It gives credibility to the second part of the book which are the principles. I think, essentially, let’s jump on that one for a minute because I do think people should read it, at a minimum, they should get the summary of it, which is cheap. The book itself, it’s definitely a worthy book, Dalio he’s always recognized as 100 influential people right now. He did grow from scratch, from his bedroom, the most successful hedge fund of all time.
Jerry: Legit billionaire.
Michael: He’s a legit billionaire. He didn’t get it from daddy. I think the fundamental premise is that most people go through their life and their business life without well-tested, well-refined, well-articulated, challenged principles that guide their decision-making. He provides a model with which you can do that. I love the book, I highly recommend it. What’s the other one?
Jerry: The other one is Perry Marshall’s 80/20 Sales and Marketing.
Michael: Oh Perry. Okay, I haven’t read that one. So yes, tell me about it?
Jerry: I would put a copy in the mail to you today.
Michael: Oh, you’re too good.
Jerry: I will, yes. Here’s the deal. 80/20, I just mentioned it earlier in our conversation here, everything in Perry’s and the guy, the original author of 80/20 who’s name- [crosstalk]
Michael: It’s on my book shelf. Right.
Jerry: He also wrote The Star Principle, which is a fantastic book. Everything can be broken down 80/20. Everything. Sales, marketing, people. 80% of the productivity comes from 20% of the people, so why not get rid of 80% of your staff. I mean these wild crazy assumptions that you can make using 80/20. What’s interesting is that it’s evolving, the internet is compressing this to more like 95/5, 97/3. If you really get into the nitty-gritty and what’s happening, you look at, on the internet, name the top three search engines. 97 other ones out there but nobody knows what they are nor do they care.
It’s changed things significantly and that’s business, in general, is going from 80/20 to 90/10, 95/5. I think this book exposes how that looks in sales and marketing and where you should be looking in your sales and marketing at this 80/20 principle. It’s an exercise that I go through now. When I’m reviewing my PnL, when I’m reviewing where’s all my money coming from in the business, where is it not coming from, where it’s coming from last year- [crosstalk]
Michael: Right, it’s always the 80/20 is the ratio of the input to the output. So it’s not just where did the money come from but where is the leverage. [laughs] I got to ask this because I don’t know when I’m going to talk to you next. When you went through that exercise, or you put your clients through that 80/20 exercise in today’s world, what are the insights that you think you’re having these days?
Jerry: I think we’re unpleasantly shocked at really where our income is coming from. We don’t want to believe it, we don’t want to accept it. Because, well, what about, what about, what about? We argued ourselves, we lose. That I think is probably the most frustrating thing when it comes to this concept, and my clients do this. They’re like, “Yes, but I know how to do invislign. Shouldn’t I be offering it?” [laughs] Or, “Shouldn’t I be selling life insurance policies? Because look, last year, I made $25,000 in commissions.” Well, so what? You made $300,000 in commission from home policies, what’s the time involvement? Life insurance is a tough sell.
Home policy, if you own a home, you got to have it, the lenders require it. It’s like a far different sale. It’s also about understanding where the path of this resistance is in selling and following that path and understanding yourself enough to know when you’re pushing water uphill, to stop. Through some self-realization. These books go in tandem. Dalio is going to show you and explain to you why you are where you. 80/20 gets you past where you are.
Michael: Where do you want to go?
Jerry: Yes, but I think they go well in tandem.
Michael: I have one last question for you, and it’s a weird one for you. Because I often ask this of people in the industry. Recognizing that you’re not in the industry but you are a marketer, and you’re quite aware of how the field of marketing has changed in response to changes in consumer behavior, it’s the billboard question. Jerry Jones gets to put a billboard up on insurance highway. It’s the insurance industry’s driving down the highway at 75 miles an hour, if there’s many more than 8 or 10 words, they’re not going to read it, but Jerry gets an opportunity to say something that matters to the insurance industry, what would you say? Right now.
Jerry: Oh boy. That’s a good question. I would probably focus that eight words around demonstration of trust. I don’t know exactly what it would say but- [crosstalk]
Michael: No, no. I get it. I mean that has been universal.
Michael: Well, every industry always needed trust and insurances always needed trust. The manner and the opportunities to get trust are really radically different than they were before. In other words, I can be present in the lives of tens of thousands of people, delivering value 24 hours a day, earning trust, whereas I couldn’t do that before.
The internet initially, and related technologies, threaten the independent agent, they also open up tremendous opportunities for the independent agent, just as, I’m assuming, they do for the dentist. You can be meaningful, you can be a meaningful presence in the lives of everybody you want to; your leads, your marketplace, your community, and your customers.
You can do it all day long because, if you’re willing to somehow get that one thing done, that piece of content, that lead gen, that nurturing message, so on and so forth, if you can get that done, then it’s like, “Oh, I’ve got the goose that lays the golden egg and dog gonnit the Internet’s good people putting it out there over and over and over again.” Good example of an 80/20. Just like getting online reviews. Really good example of an 80/20 because once I get that five star review, it’s going to keep laying golden eggs forever.
Michael: Got it. Jerry, I know you don’t want a bunch of phone calls from insurance agents. Maybe, you don’t want anything. [chuckles] For somebody wanted to find out more about you, or maybe an email, we didn’t talk about this in advance.
Jerry: The easiest way to get in touch with me is just go to my website, jerryjonesdirect.com. Any submission on there, I’m copied on it.
Michael: Right on.
Jerry: If somebody has an interest or wants to talk, whatever.
Michael: Got it. All right, my friend. Hey, appreciate your taking time out to talk to the insurance industry. Very generous of you.
Jerry: My pleasure.
Michael: I do look forward. You and I actually have a mastermind meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia next week. First one we’ve had in a long, long, long time.
Jerry: Oh, man, yes.
Michael: I’m looking forward to getting together with a handful of world class marketers.
Michael: Looking forward to that. All right, brother.
Jerry: Thanks, Michael.
Michael: Thanks for joining us and have a great day.