In this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I interview Chase Buckner. Chase is the Director of Marketing at HighLevel, the all-in-one, white-label sales & marketing platform for agencies. Prior to joining the team at HighLevel, Chase and a partner built a full-service agency from scratch that grew to over 7-figures in ARR.
Artificial intelligence and marketing automation isn’t something of the distant future anymore – and those who leverage it today are seeing the benefits unfold. In this episode, I talk with Chase Buckner, Director of Marketing at HighLevel, about how businesses today can use marketing automation and artificial intelligence to their advantage to grow and scale.
Questions I ask Chase Buckner:
- [1:32] What are some of the best ways you are seeing using the automation technology that’s available to us being used?
- [3:24] How do business owners deal with the communication channel overwhelm today?
- [5:07] How do we use AI without making it feel robotic?
- [6:56] What advantage is there to the business that responds immediately or at least very quickly?
- [8:37] I would suggest that SMS has actually become the preferred method of communication for a very large segment of the market and that if we’re not actually viewing that as a primary channel, we are probably missing out. What do you say to that idea?
- [12:35] How are you finding agencies really standing out and differentiating themselves today?
- [14:32] If I as an agency take the SaaS model – do I have to now have a support department for the clients that I bring on?
- [16:35] How can people think about automated ways to scale?
- [22:32] Where can people learn more about HighLevel and the work that you’re doing?
- HighLevel.com – Get a 14-Day Free Trial
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(00:48): Hello, And welcome to another episode of the duct tape marketing podcast. This is John Janz. My guest today is chase Buckner. He’s a director of marketing at high level, the all in one white label sales and marketing platform for agencies prior to joining the team in high level chase and a partner built a full service agency from scratch that grew to over seven figures in annual recurring revenue. So chase, welcome to the show.
Chase Buckner (01:15): Thanks for having me, John.
John Jantsch (01:17): So let’s talk first about marketing automation. This is a topic I’ve been talking about for a while. It’s a topic that some companies have embraced some haven’t some for good, some for bad. What are some of the, and you can go anywhere you want with this. What are some of the best ways you are seeing people using the automation technology that’s available to us today?
Chase Buckner (01:40): Yeah, I mean, I think for the folks that aren’t yet they will be, I feel like it’s an inevitable part of the growth of an agency is you get to a point where you’re like, why is this still not working? Why are we still turning clients? Like we know we’re delivering good leads at a good price, but yet there’s still something not quite right. And when you start to dig into that, you know, you find studies like the one done by the MIT professor that basically show look, there’s a five minute shock clock, right? You generate a lead, you’ve got five minutes to engage in. And if you don’t statistically, you’re never going to. And then when you look through that lens at what’s actually happening at your client’s businesses, there’s just no way that they can reply to every lead within five minutes. And so once you understand that, then your mind opens up to other solutions and you start realizing, Hey, we need to find ways to automate some of this and take it off of their hands. And so it’s as simple as really just automating text messages, emails, voicemail drops. We have this really cool thing called a call connect that I can talk about. But yeah, it’s just basically like doing something more than just sending the lead as an email to your client and thinking that’s your job done?
John Jantsch (02:54): Well, particularly because
Chase Buckner (03:29): Well, I mean, I don’t wanna, I don’t wanna, I didn’t my attention wasn’t to come on to just be a commercial for high level, but we’re very cognizant of that. And that’s why we’re trying to pull ‘em all into one chat stream. So right now we’ve got most of them, we’ve got email SMS, Google chat, Facebook messenger, Instagram, DM, WhatsApps, and beta. And then stuff’s, you know, TikTok, all that kind of stuff is coming down the line, but yeah, a hundred percent because you can’t expect them to manage it all over the place who could, it’s insane. So we’re trying to pull ‘em all in including reviews. It’s important that they go in there too, because then they’ll actually reply to reviews.
John Jantsch (04:05): Yeah. To reply. Yeah.
Chase Buckner (04:06): All that stuff. Yeah.
John Jantsch (04:07): Reviews are a conversation
Chase Buckner (04:09):
John Jantsch (04:12):
Chase Buckner (05:12): Yeah. That’s a great question. And I think in a couple of different ways, like we have like an AI booking thing that you can turn on that you can conversationally book with, right? So let’s say, you know, you claim a promotion and I automate you a text that says, Hey, John, you know, thanks for claiming that free teeth whitening voucher. Next step is to get you booked is now a good time to, to find a day and time that works for you. If you say yes, AI can take over and go into the calendar and say, okay, great. Here’s what we have over the next two days. And you could say, all right, I’ll take Tuesday at nine and it will understand that in book, but there are other ways, right? I like to talk about starting with FAQs. You know, when you work within a niche, you quickly find out, Hey, my customers get asked these same questions over and over.
(05:57): So then I can just ask my clients, Hey, when someone asks you this, how do you guys reply? And then I can build a, just a simple little workflow that says, Hey, if a message comes in from any of these channels that contains the word, gluten free, just reply with their, yes, we have, you know, here’s our, the link to our gluten free menu or whatever it may be. And you can really make a lot of progress right there with stuff like that. You know, imagine how much time you can save a restaurant. If they don’t have to respond every gluten free vegetarian, these types of questions that they get over and over every single day,
John Jantsch (06:32): I thought you were going with the gluten free teeth whitening.
Chase Buckner (06:35): So I switched niches on you. You made metaphor.
John Jantsch (06:38): Prob probably somebody is selling that though. Right? Let’s talk a little bit about speed today. And again, I know your answer to this, but I want to hear what kind of your research you’re thinking, you know, is on this topic. I think when somebody goes to a website or goes to the Google and you know, asks a question, you know what advantage is there to the business that responds immediately or at least very quickly. And again, I know it’s a stupid question
Chase Buckner (07:10): Well, again, statistically, the studies will show you that if you respond within the first five minutes specifically, let’s say you respond in the first one minute. I think you have like a 90 something percent chance of closing that lead as opposed to after five minutes. And I think a lot of that is because when you get a reply right away, you don’t go to the next competitor or down the list, right? Because you’re engaged. Whether you know, that reply was automated or not, you in your mind, you’ve engaged with the business, which was your goal. And so, you know, to me, it’s everything and statistics will back that up. And again, when you go look and see what your clients are actually doing with those email lead notifications that you’re sending it’s hours or days that they’re taking to reply to folks. And by that time, for sure, they’ve gone on to the next competitor. And that’s why when you take an honest look at what’s happening in most marketing agencies and relationship with their clients, that’s what’s going on. And that’s what leads to the churn, right? And the clients are telling you, Hey, these leads stink. None of ‘em closed. And you dig in and you’re like, what do you guys think of following up? Like, and it’s just never gonna work.
John Jantsch (08:22): Yeah, yeah, yeah. Let’s talk about SMS or text in general. You know, I think that, I think a lot of people saw that we’re on the cutting edge, you know, because we, you know, we have a short code or, you know, that’s another way people can communicate. I would suggest that in where we stand today in 2022, that has become actually the preferred method of communication for a very large segment of the market. And that if we’re not actually viewing that as a primary channel, we are probably missing out. What do you say to that idea?
Chase Buckner (08:57): A hundred percent. This makes me wanna bang my head against the desk because we, when somebody calls me, I literally inside feel my blood pressure rise, right? It’s like, why didn’t you just text me? And so if that’s the case for most of us, which I think if we’re all honest, it is why are we doing it to our customers? Why are we expecting our customers to pick up the phone and call us when we know they just want a text? And so, you know, we get it excited about all these new channels that we’re gonna add, like TikTok messaging and this and that. But like the reality is text messaging alone is a quantum leap forward for most businesses. Most businesses do not have the ability to text their customers yet without using somebody’s personal cell phone in a two way conversation. Right? And so that’s why the first step that we always tell agencies to do is put the chat widget on your customer’s website because the high level chat widget is just a gateway into an SMS conversation when they fill out the form, it comes in and as an SMS.
(10:00): And when you reply, it goes back as a text, just putting that on a client’s site alone is oftentimes enough to keep them from churning because all of a sudden they’re getting what they think are like these new leads. When in reality, it was just traffic that was bouncing off the site because they didn’t want to have to pick up the phone. And then you do that again with Google chat. And now those two things combined for a significant amount of new leads. But again, it was just traffic going to their Google property. That was just bouncing. So yeah, I think it’s absolutely should be the number one thing that marketers are thinking about right now is, Hey, how do we text enable every new client? Because that alone could be enough to keep them from churn.
John Jantsch (10:40): Yeah. And I think, I think anyone who’s listening to this take a stroll to your Google analytics. If you haven’t for a while, your client’s Google analytics, if you haven’t in a while and go to that little tab that shows you the device, their traffic is coming from, um, and you will find that most businesses have topped the majority of their traffic being on a mobile device, summer as high as 80% on a mobile device. So, you know, that device they have in their hand, you know, is text enabled. And it’s definitely the way that people prefer to communicate. I mean, I don’t know what the statistics are, but the actual phone part of the phone
Chase Buckner (11:59): Agents primarily. I mean, I think there’s
John Jantsch (12:02): Probably some franchises, things out
Chase Buckner (12:04): Franchises, a lot of folks, Hey, I’ve been a chiropractor for 35 years and now I wanna take my knowledge and sell it to other chiropractors. Well, now you’re an agency. Congratulations, Dr. Bobby.
John Jantsch (12:12): Yeah, yeah, yeah. It’s
Chase Buckner (12:14): A small,
John Jantsch (12:15): So let’s talk about some of the ways that, that you are helping agencies differentiate because, you know, I tell agencies this all the time. I mean, if you’re still hanging your hat on, we’ll do your WordPress website for you. You know, you’re probably on a race to the
Chase Buckner (12:41): That’s such a good point. And that was me for years. We did WordPress sites, one off projects, you know, happy to get five grand to do the site course. It turns into a nightmare, you know, and here you are 13 months later going, why are we still working on this? It’s a mindset shift. And I think if you haven’t looked around recently and realized that the world is in a race to the SAS model news flash,
(13:29): Literally every company in the world is like, how do we get into this recurring revenue model around software? And so for us, it makes all the sense in the world, right? Because we know every business needs software to succeed. The business owner has no idea what software they need, nor do they know how to set it up and get it running correctly. So they traditionally turn to the agency for this advice. The agency usually picks the software, sets it up, maybe they get paid for the setup. Then the agency loses the client statistically three to five months later, but the client continues to pay for that software for years. And you know, so that’s kind of what we’re all about at high level, which is, Hey, how do we make it so that the agency can provide the software themselves, retain the clients for years. Maybe they don’t retain ‘em on that Facebook ad package, but they retain them on a software fee for the automated stuff that we know everybody needs like two, a text messaging.
John Jantsch (14:32): All right, let me push back just a bit because to help some folks out on this. So it’s like, wait, I’m gonna sell software. Um, how big of a support department does high level have just to take like support technical billing software questions. Right. And what I’m getting at is like, do I have to now have a support department for the clients that I sign up for this?
Chase Buckner (14:56): Yeah. You
John Jantsch (14:57): Do not, not for high level. I just mean if I’m gonna take the SAS model. I mean, how am I gonna support that?
Chase Buckner (15:03): Yeah. And that’s why, you know, again, there are lots of ways you can do this, right? I’m not telling you that have to use high level in the high level world. You’re absolutely right. We support you, but we don’t support your customers. Now that’s created opportunities for folks in our community to solve that problem. And so there are several entities within the high level community who run white labeled support programs for high level. So they’ll install ticketing system and live chat within the app for you. And they will handle all of the software related support, pretty affordably. I think the one charges, I think $300 a month and they’ll support unlimited clients. So it’s not something that you know, is as scary as it sounds. Yeah. And the, the pros definitely outweigh the cons. I would say if you think
John Jantsch (15:51): About well, but I’m sure you’ve
Chase Buckner (15:53): A lot of it’s automated. Right. So as long as you get the onboarding, right. You know, text messages come in and out, it’s not like, you know, how often do you have to call Facebook because you can’t figure out how to send the message back. Right. Like, you know, so a lot of it is if people kind of overthink it.
John Jantsch (16:10): Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So let’s talk a little bit about scaling. You know, I talk to a lot of agencies, people that, you know, they get to a certain point and they’re just like, I can’t scale this thing cuz I, you know, I got everything I can wrap my arms around and I can’t get any bigger or I try to hire people now I lose ‘em and what, in what way? I keep talking to these softball promotional questions. Um, but
Chase Buckner (16:46): So I’ll give you a story from my past life at the agency. I remember doing, we used to host our WordPress sites with WP engine and they make you buy slot like blocks of 100 website packages essentially, right. To get the best pricing. So it was very important to us that we weren’t wasting slots. So every so often, you know, I would go in there and do a cleanup and say, oh, this client left us. Then get rid of that. That’s a free slot now. So I remember very vividly one day going through and looking at the total count, going man, there are hundreds of websites in here. There are hundreds of people and we used to charge $50 a month as a hosting package, came with like a half an hour worth support if you needed it or something. So I’m like, holy smokes.
(17:37): There are hundreds of people in here paying us $50 a month. Many of whom, I can’t even remember who they are. Like it’s literally been years since we built the site, they haven’t reached out to us in years, but yet their credit card has run every month since for $50. And I, I literally remember going to Matt, my partner, the CEO being like Matt, this is our best revenue. We should really think more intently about what’s going on here because there’s enough revenue being generated here to literally support you. And I alone, if you know, we went into like nuclear scenario or whatever, and of course, like a fire popped up and we ran and you know, that was the last we spoke of it. And, but it’s always stuck in my mind because that’s what lit the light bulb for me is, okay, what’s the better version of that.
(18:24): Like how do what’s the higher ticketed version of that? Because that’s scalable. Well, it was semi scalable, right? But what’s the more scalable version of that. And that’s what it is at software. The problem is with traditional agency services, like you said, you, every X amount of projects you sell, you have to add an employee enable to deliver. And we were caught in that. I call it scaling sideways phase for several years where the top line revenue kept going up, but I’m looking around going, where’s the profits going down?
(19:18): And when I got the opportunity to join the team, I jumped on it because I knew every agency, this is what we’re looking for. Right. So if I were to go back and do it again, I would still sell websites cuz I love to build websites and I know how to sell them. And, but I would sell them as a website on demand. It would cost $300 a month. It would be more than just the website. You know, it’s the chat widget on there. It’s the CRM behind it. It’s whatever. But just like Netflix, if you stop paying, the whole thing goes away. Right. You can’t watch movies anymore. And so that’s what, when I go back to like, it’s a mindset shift, you don’t sell website projects, you sell websites on demand. Like that’s, I think the shift that most people should be trying to figure out how we can make, like what did, what do we do now? And how do what’s the on demand version of that look like?
John Jantsch (20:06): Yeah. And I think one of the things about that positioning is it actually positions the website as the tool. It should be
Chase Buckner (20:22): A hundred percent. I always tell people like, you’d be stupid to go buy just a website today because yeah. You know, what’s gonna happen when the people get to it, right? Like where’s the CRM, that’s gonna house the lease. Where’s the automation. That’s gonna convert them into bookings. You know, where’s the reporting. That’s gonna show you actually, what’s going on here. And that’s why, you know, a lot of people in the high level community think of it, not as software as a service, but as a system, as a, a service it’s a little bit more than just software. Cuz when you combine it with the expertise of an agency, you’ve got a system and that’s kind of, I think where you want to get to, the other thing is typically the person who builds the website and or introduces the CRM is yeah. The most trusted person.
(21:10): And if you think of that, I like to think of it as like the digital general contractor, you know, when a supermarket or a mall’s being built, a general contractor gets hired and then they bring in the plumber, the electrician, the, you know, the whoever. And if let’s say the plumber is the Facebook ad guy in this example, this metaphor here, let’s say the plumber does a bad job. Well, no worries. I’ll fire him and I’ll bring in another one. And you know, we won’t lose too much time here. And that’s really where you want to be. You want to be the digital general contractor who never gets fired, who always gets paid. And if your client says, oh, I, you know, we also want SEO or we also want Google ads. Oh great. I’ve got this. I have an awesome network of folks. I trust, you know, I’m gonna introduce you to three SEO companies. You tell me which one you wanna go with and you know, we’ll take care of it. That’s the kind model that I would be in with my website as on demand business. And I’d have a nice network of ancillary service providers that I can bring in and out. And you know, if they were to do a bad job, it’s not me. That’s on the topping block.
John Jantsch (22:15): Yeah. We’ve always hung our head on strategy. The person who develops the strategy, you know, is really the producer, the director, you know, every, you know, bringing in every piece to then implement it. But it’s, uh, it’s really the same idea. Chase chance, chase. I keep getting your name wrong.
Chase Buckner (22:39): Yeah, for sure. Thank you for having me. John go high level.com is our website. We have a 14 day free trial over there. We’d love for you to check it out. If you’re, if this is resonating, we are what, you know, we are kind of trying to invent a new world of SAS entrepreneurship. So we would say if the SAS entrepreneur model sounds interesting to you, come check it out and uh, hopefully we’ll be back soon, John.
John Jantsch (23:02): Yeah. Awesome. And for those of you out there listening, we are users. We are on this journey with high level, our self building out a white label version. So, you know, questions, thoughts want to hit me up? You know, my email is just John at duct tape, marketing.com. We’d love to talk about it. So thanks for stopping by. We will see you someday out there on the road. Hey, and one final thing before you go, you know how I talk about marketing strategy strategy before tactics? Well, sometimes it can be hard to understand where you stand in that what needs to be done with regard to creating a marketing strategy. So we created a free tool for you. It’s called the marketing strategy assessment. You can find it @ marketingassessment.co. check out our free marketing assessment and learn where you are with your strategy today. That’s just marketingassessment.co I’d love to chat with you about the results that you get.
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Bio: John Jantsch is a marketing consultant and author of Duct Tape Marketing[www.ducttapemarketing.com] and The Referral Engine[www.referralenginebook.com] and the founder of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network.[www.ducttapemarketingconsultant.com]
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