How to Narrow Down Your Target Market

Episode 86: How to Narrow Down Your Target Market, with Corey Quinn

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How to narrow down your target market? Refine your business strategy by exploring these techniques on how to narrow down your target market.

For this episode of Sell With Authority, we are going on a bit of a mining expedition — and unearthing some super valuable golden nuggets that you can take and apply straight away.

My guest is Corey Quinn — and if you’re meeting Corey for the first time — he has a 25-year record of extraordinary success as an entrepreneur, sales leader, and marketing executive. His most recent in-house role was serving as Scorpion’s Chief Marketing Officer, which is a small business-focused agency that Corey and his team grew from $20 million a year in recurring revenue to $150 million in under seven years. Holy Bananas — right!

Corey is also the host of The Vertical Go-to-Market Podcast, where he interviews 7, 8, and 9-figure business owners who have been widely successful because they niched down.

How to narrow down your target market? If we go a mile wide and an inch deep — we deplete our resources before we can have any impact. Instead of going wide and attempting to attract a broad audience by writing generic content that is suitable for everyone, true authorities do the reverse. They go narrow.

That’s where the gold is!

Not only did Corey help lead an agency that was niched, and they crushed it — but he’s also a curator and collector of stories and data points of other agency owners who are also crushing it because they niched.

If you take and apply the golden nuggets that Corey shares during this episode, you will be positioned and ready to crush 2024 and make it your most successful and profitable year yet…because you went narrow.


What you will learn in this episode is about how to narrow down your target market:

  • One of the biggest misconceptions that often derails biz dev efforts
  • Leveraging both inbound and outbound sales tactics
  • Why specializing in specific customers and industries helps you differentiate
  • The benefits of taking a vertical marketing approach to your agency
  • How to narrow down your target market
  • How to avoid some of the roadblocks to taking a vertical marketing approach


Additional Resources:


How to Narrow Down Your Target Market: Full Episode Transcript


Welcome to the Sell with Authority podcast. I’m Stephen Woessner, CEO of predictive ROI, and my team and I created this podcast specifically for you. So if you’re an agency owner or strategic consultant, and you’re looking to fill your sales pipeline with a steady stream of right-fit prospects and get the at-bats that you need in order to build and scale, well, then you’re in the right place. Do you want proven strategies for becoming the known expert in your niche and attracting all the clients that you need? Yep. We’re gonna cover that. You wanna learn how to step away from the sea of sameness so you actually stand out and own the ground you’re standing on. Yep. We’re gonna cover that too. Do you want to future-proof your business so you can successfully navigate the next challenge that you know is going to come your way?


Well, absolutely. We’ll help you there as well. I promise you each episode of this podcast will contain valuable insights, tangible examples, and best practices, never theory, from thought leaders, experts, and owners who have done exactly what you’re working hard to do. So, I want you to think practical and tactical. Never any fluff. Each of our guests has built a position of authority and then monetized that position by growing their audience, nurturing leads, and, yes, converting sales. But all the while, they did it by being helpful. So every time someone from their audience turned around there, they were with a helpful answer to an important question. So the Right Fit prospects never, ever felt like they were a prospect. I also promise you every strategy that we discuss and every tool we recommend will be shared in complete transparency in each episode so you can become the known expert in your niche and fill your sales pipeline with that steady stream of Right Fit clients who, again, were never, ever made to feel like one of your prospects.


Okay, so for today’s episode, buckle up because we’re going to go on a bit of a, let’s call it a mining expedition. And I promise you we’re going to unearth and find some super valuable golden nuggets that you can take and apply straight away. But before we do that, let’s rewind the clock a bit. So, our industry cut its teeth on the idea of casting a wide net with the goal of exposing the message to as many people as possible. It was called mass media for a reason, but as technology made personalization possible, media channels and options quadrupled, and we had all of this data that allowed us to micro-target, and then our language and our strategy and our recommendations all shifted as we help clients build their marketing efforts, which makes sense, right? We understand the idea of minimizing waste and then only targeting the people who are potential customers when it comes to our clients.


Learn more about how to narrow down your target market by tuning in to this podcast of Corey Quinn: How To Build an 8-Figure Agency In One Vertical Market


How to Narrow Down Your Target Market: Corey Quinn’s Introduction


But here’s the irony: when it comes to our own agencies and our own bank accounts, it’s tough to ignore any dollar, even a bad one this idea that every dollar is a worthwhile pursuit is one of the misconceptions that often derails our biz dev efforts By going a mile wide in an inch deep, we deplete our resources before we can have any sort of impact at all. Instead of going wide and attempting to attract a broad audience by writing generic content, that’s a suitable effort for everyone. Actual authorities do the exact reverse. They confidently niche down, they go narrow, which also allows them to go deep. There’s nothing superficial about the substance of their content, its relevance, or its helpfulness because their cornerstone and cobblestone content is micro-targeted to their particular audience. And that’s where the gold is, which is why I am super excited for you to meet our very special guest expert today, Corey Quinn.


He’ll be our guide on today’s mining expedition. If you’re meeting Corey for the first time, he has a 25-year record of extraordinary success as an entrepreneur, a sales leader, and a marketing executive. His most recent in-house role with serving as Scorpions Chief Marketing Officer, which is a small business-focused agency that Corey and his team grew from $20 million a year in recurring revenue to $150 million a year in under seven years. I know that’s like holy bananas, right? When you hear those numbers. Corey is also the host of the Vertical Go-to-Market podcast, where he interviews 7, 8, and 9-figure business owners who have been wildly successful because they niched down. So, we have this really unique opportunity during this conversation with Corey. Not only did Corey help lead an agency that was niched they crushed it, but he is also a curator and collector of stories and data points of other agency owners who are also crushing it because they niched. I promise you, if you take and apply the golden nuggets that Corey shares during this episode, you will be positioned and ready to crush 2024 and make it your most successful and profitable year yet because you went narrow, and going narrow is where the gold is. So, without further ado, welcome to the Sell with Authority podcast. Corey.


Stephen, I’m super excited to be here, and thank you for the opportunity to share some of my stories.


Learn more about How to Narrow Down Your Target Market by tuning in to our tutorial: The “HOW” Framework


How to Narrow Down Your Target Market: Navigating Growth and Learning


Well, holy bananas, when you said yes, I’m like, we get to have this conversation. This is just gonna be so awesome. So, thank you for saying yes. Um, yeah. And excited about, uh, the opportunity to have it. So, but before we do that, before we dive in, um, actually take us behind the curtain and in, you know, a couple of minutes and mm-Hmm, and share some more, uh, context around your path and journey and, and then we’ll dive in.


Sure. So, as you mentioned in the intro there, I’ve got about 25 years. Um, most of my experience has been in the sales and biz dev world and then marketing. Most recently, as you mentioned, I was at Scorpion when I joined in 2015. There were about a hundred employees. Hmm. Uh, we grew that to a thousand employees. We grew the sales team from eight people to a hundred people, and we grew our clients from a thousand clients to 14,000 clients. 


How to narrow down your target market? I know. It was a lot of growth, a lot of, um, intensity, a lot of fun. I definitely got grey during those six-plus years. Uh, but I learned a lot, and I’ll tell you a story to hopefully kind of frame up the, um, the, the significant learnings that I got from that experience. Okay. Or at least some of them, which was, you know, I’ve been in the agency space for about 15 years, and the, the first two agencies, basically three stints, uh, three companies. Um, the first stint was an agency that was founded by a Harvard Business School, MBA. Hmm. And the way that we grew the business was primarily by leveraging his HBS network. Okay. As a result of that network, we were able to get meetings, and I personally closed deals, SEO and PPC deals with Lululemon and re max and Hyundai, and, you know, all the, of the men’s warehouse, like all these big, big brands that were driven mainly by this CEO, this charismatic networked CEO who did a really good job of, of, uh, of, of helping us to grow.


Learn more about How to Narrow Down Your Target Market by tuning in to our tutorial: The “HOW” Framework


How to Narrow Down Your Target Market: Lessons from the Journey


The second agency that I worked at was an agency that was founded by the ex-CEO of Myspace, another very well-connected and networked individual who was able to pick up the phone and get us leads that we would close and use to grow the agency. And by the time I’d sort of been through this experience, what I learned through, through just observing this, is that the way you build an agency is that you have a charismatic, connected founder who uses his or her network to drive the new business leads. It wasn’t until I got to a company called Scorpion that, in 2015, the primary focus of the business was serving personal injury attorneys. And what I found was you had, like I mentioned, an eight-person sales team. The phone would ring with an attorney who, uh, had a marketing problem.


How to narrow down your target market? The salesperson would close the deal on that call, and then they would hang up the phone and then go over to the big metallic gong and hit the gong, and there’d be high fives all around on the, on the sales floor. Right. Okay. And the thing that’s interesting, what I, what I was different than my previous experience before Scorpion was that the attorney didn’t know or care who the founder of Scorpion was. What they cared about was working with an agency that was an expert in solving the attorney’s specific problems. Right. And so, uh, we did a lot of things, obviously, to grow the agency. I’m more than happy to talk about some of the things there. But the, uh, the big takeaway that, um, that I’m, that really kind of excited me and energized me was this concept of taking a vertical market or, you know, a specific industry focus to your agency as a way to escape founder-led sales.


Hmm. Okay. This is going to be such a fantastic conversation, absolutely. Um, so, so let’s go back to 2015. Let’s stay on the Scorpion path for sure. For a few more minutes. ’cause I’m sensing there’s a ton of gold there. So in 2015, you mentioned, uh, private injury attorneys who would call. So awesome inbound. Um, you guys were doing something from a content perspective, which we’ll get to in a little bit about planting the flag of authority about how you could be helpful, helpful, excuse me, on the business issues and challenges, and then the, the inbound. Awesome. So then, did the niche around PI attorneys stay consistent from 2015 through 2022 during your tenure? Or did that broaden? Did you go deeper? Yeah. How did that work?


Learn more about How to Narrow Down Your Target Market by tuning in to our tutorial: The “HOW” Framework


How to Narrow Down Your Target Market: Niche Expertise in Diverse Markets


So, what we were really good at was solving, um, digital marketing challenges or problems for personal injury attorneys. And we, the reason why I was brought in was the CEO, as I mentioned, it’s a $20 million agency, really successful by, by many, by many, uh, definitions. But he was eager to have a, a larger impact in the, uh, you know, with his, with this agency that he is built. And so, uh, the challenge that I had was, we’re at 20 million. That’s great. Where are we going to next? Let’s go, let’s, let’s continue to grow this thing and grow it aggressively. And so, some of the things that we did to do that was to take an inbound-only sales team and to formalize that inbound. ’cause it was very organic at the time. We could talk about what we did there. We also introduced an outbound-based program, which effectively helped us to almost double the business just by introducing outbound.


How to narrow down your target market? That’s specifically in the legal vertical if you call it. And then we went to the next vertical, um, which was home services. And then we went into medical, and then we also went into franchise or multi-location businesses. But effectively, what we did was we took what was really working well for our attorney clients, and we asked ourselves, what adjacent market has a similar or the same problem that we’re already an expert solving? And who else can, who else can we serve with this? Um, you know who, who else has this problem and who else can we serve using our expertise? And the tool sets we built for attorneys. And, the next logical vertical for us was home services, which are, um, residential plumbers, HVAC, roofers, electricians, and that whole industry who were similar to attorneys. They were local service businesses that had a need to be able to market themselves online. People shop for plumbers, uh, in the similar way that they do for, uh, for attorneys in that moment of need. You go to Google, and that’s where the good business is. Right? So, um, they also had decent budgets, uh, and they were underserved. We also had a couple of home service clients that we had sort of said yes to along the way. So we knew that we, uh, we knew we had some, uh, the ability to, to do good work there. So that wasn’t the next logical vertical for us, was home services.


How to narrow down your target market? I think that’s such a great lesson. And the reason why I think it’s such a great lesson is this, is that, um, you know, when, when Drew McLellan and I wrote civil authority, uh, and then, and then we talk about a niche like in our workshop, immediately the assumption is, oh, great, well, I’m gonna only work with, uh, you know, personal injury attorneys for the rest of my career. And that’s not what it means at all. It could undoubtedly mean industry personal injury attorneys, but it could also mean that you solve a problem better than anyone else. And you mentioned digital marketing challenges to attorneys, and then smartly, I think this is brilliant how you thought then, okay. What are the adjacent verticals that have the same problem where we can use our same methodology where we’re crushing it here Yeah. And not doing anything different and crushing it for these verticals over here. Yeah. I think that’s brilliant. It is still niched, right? Yeah.


Learn more about How to Narrow Down Your Target Market by tuning in to our tutorial: The “HOW” Framework


How to Narrow Down Your Target Market: Finding Success in Specialized Markets


Correct. And our go-to-market, uh, what we learned is that the attorney is very different than the home service business owner when it comes to, um, what they care about. The actual product itself. We were building websites and doing local marketing and, uh, ratings and reviews and all those things, but there were things that were, we had to modify when it came to the product. But I think more importantly, what we found a lot of success in is the, what we, what we realized is that the attorneys loved us because we were only working with attorneys. We understood what it’s like to run a legal practice. And the challenge is, in many cases, we were more of an expert in running their business than they were. Uh, and so that was, that our, that provided us an opportunity to, to add additional value outside of just, you know, PPC.


How to narrow down your target market? We talked about things like intake and, um, lifetime value and all those great concepts. What we learned with, uh, home services is that while a lot of those conversations still happen, we had to, um, also build a separate team of salespeople, marketing people on my team. We had to build a, separate account management team who only focused on plumbing, plumbers, or HVAC technicians. Uh, and the reason why is because the real value that they got from us was not just in the tactical PPC and SEO, it was in the business advisory that we were able to provide them at, not at the, um, marketing, internet marketing level, but at the internet market, the intersection between internet marketing and running a plumbing business. So being an expert in their business and in their vertical really helped us to, uh, differentiate.


Oh my gosh. And, and you, you, I think you so nailed it on, on the head when two minutes ago you said attorneys loved us because we were more of an expert in running their business than they were Mm-Hmm. what a powerful position of authority, right? Yeah,


Learn more about How to Narrow Down Your Target Market by tuning in to our tutorial: The “HOW” Framework


How to Narrow Down Your Target Market: Transforming Inbound Processes


Yeah, a hundred percent. And they, that’s not something that they were coming to us saying, Hey, we need a business coach here. They said, Hey, we need more leads. But in the sales process, we began asking them different questions. Mm-Hmm. about their business and about the, you know, what happens when the phone rings? Like these things that most of the other agencies at the time we were competing with, they weren’t talking about these things. Right? Right. And so we were able to, uh, immediately differentiate, but also increase the value of that sales phone call. They’re gonna walk away learning something about their business that they hadn’t, uh, they, they didn’t, they didn’t know, which is an excellent way for us to build trust.


Yeah. I’m, I’m sure your team, when they’re having a conversation with attorneys or whatever the vertical is that the prospective client walked away from the call. If they didn’t say yes, they probably thought, huh, that was interesting. No one has said that to me before. Nobody asked me that question before. Nobody showed me that data before, or Mm-Hmm. Or whatever. And they walked away wiser. So maybe they weren’t ready to hire today Yeah. Engage you today, but they probably came back in whatever period of time. Yeah. And as Drew, and I like to say it could be a day or a decade, but you’re planting really great seeds, obviously closing some deals quickly, but then also filling your pipeline for another day.


Correct. And the Exactly. They walked away, knowing these guys knew their stuff.


Right. Okay. So let, let’s chat, uh, about like, when you first shared, uh, or, or a few minutes ago, back when we were just getting started, when you said a hundred employees became a thousand employees, uh, eight-person sales team became a hundred person sales team, a thousand clients became 1400 clients. And then I, I quickly wrote it in my notes when you said that you took, uh, an inbound sales team and then formalized it, and then you added outbound. And so would really love to dig into both of those. First, how did you formalize the inbound sales process using your words?


Learn more about How to Narrow Down Your Target Market by tuning in to our tutorial: The “HOW” Framework


How to Narrow Down Your Target Market: Formalizing Processes for Growth


How to narrow down your target market? Sure. So we, um, it was an eight-person sales team Okay. Where the phone would ring, and then there would be, you know, a salesperson would pick it up and then they would, you know, they would do the pitch. Um, the formalizing is in, we had to, as, as we wanted to scale, we had to formalize things like territories. You have eight salespeople, uh, all clamouring over the excellent lead. Well, you have, in order to scale, you have to, uh, create different territories. We introduced things like quotas. So there was an expectation, not just that you answered the call, but that you are making the most of that, uh, of that phone call. Right? Yeah. There’s all of a sudden some accountability there. Uh, and that was two of the biggest, the more significant things when it comes to marketing itself. We actually started doing best, bringing in best practices around, um, doing more content marketing, eBooks, and, uh, we actually started going to conferences and those types of things. So that was, that was part of the things that, a few of the things that we did to formalize it kind of.


Okay. So, as I’m hearing you say that, I, I’m hearing you, or what I’m thinking in my head is, um, you know, the, the, the excellent book by John Warlow built to Sell and, um, in, in, in taking a service and really, uh, simplifying it and so forth, he, in his example, he called it the Five Step logo design process. But, you know, he created territories, and there were quotas, and they hired salespeople in the FIC agency, the, the Stapleton Agency, I think, if I remember correctly. But anyway, when he was looking for salespeople, he was looking for people who are great at selling a product, not necessarily sort of the quintessential agency service person or service or the experience in selling services. So I’m curious, like, what type of person, what were the attributes that you were looking for when you went from eight people to a hundred people? Sure. What were their qualities?


It’s a great question. I think we, we, our eyes were opened when we went into home services, where we were, um, kind of beginning that process. We took one of our salespeople, uh, who were focused exclusively on personal injury attorneys. Okay. And we, uh, we had them focus on home service businesses. And what we learned was the exciting thing about this person, T Rev or Travis Carter, he is still there. Uh, he used to own a home service business himself. Hmm. Okay. And so what that meant was when he was on the phone, on, on a phone call, on a sales call with a, um, a plumber or an HVAC technician, he was able to relate directly to what it’s like to be in that, uh, business owner’s shoes in that trade, and was able to completely, completely disarm that conversation. And he, Travis, had already been selling the product to another, uh, vertical.


Learn more about How to Narrow Down Your Target Market by tuning in to our tutorial: The “HOW” Framework.


How to Narrow Down Your Target Market: Leveraging Industry Expertise for Success


He just didn’t have that background in in-home services. When he stepped over into, um, he didn’t have that background, excuse me, in legal, when he went into home services, that’s when he started crushing it from a sales perspective because of that direct background. And so, some of the things that I, uh, I talked to agency owners when they’re thinking about verticalizing is to consider looking for people who have, yes, they have sales skills, but they also have direct experience in that vertical market, whether it be a personal connection, a professional connection, um, you know, those type of things really help to build, uh, a lot of trust early in the sales process.


That’s so smart. Uh, in one of our, um, most recent episodes where we interviewed, Hannah and I, actually on our team, interviewed, uh, John Emerson, who’s the founder of London Agency based in Melbourne, Australia. And their particular niches, they work alongside, uh, manufacturers of medical devices and so forth, large global companies who are then trying to sell into the Australian and New Zealand market. But they try to do it in such a way that it’s sort of like a one-size-fits-all cookie cutter approach that, well, if this content works in Boston or Chicago, surely it’s gonna work in Melbourne or in the Outback, which clearly it doesn’t. Yeah. And, and so like, when you’re talking about like, not only speaking the language, but you have all of that context around the market, it just removes friction from the sales process. Right.


Completely. Because, because what buyers in my experience, what buyers care about is that you can solve their specific problem, not a generic version of their problem. And so when you’re able to contextualize the, uh, your, your service or your solution to the nuances of a specific vertical market, you’re effectively giving the buyer what they’re looking for.


100%. Yeah. , okay. So when you, when you just said that, uh, here again, that reminded me of a conversation with Carl Sakis, uh, yeah. Who, and, and, and Carl was talking about how early on in his agency experience, uh, he was listening to one of, uh, the agency’s AEs talking with a law firm. The agency had never worked on a law firm’s website, but that was the pitch. And so the law firm, you know, the person, the marketer at the law firm who was pretty sophisticated, said, well, tell me about other law firms that you’ve designed websites for. And, and, and Carl said, he is like, and I just watched the AE Tap dance about how well we just, we did this over here, and it’s almost sort of the same, which clearly it is not. Right. And then all, and then the friction starts to build up in this, this process, right? Yeah.


Learn more about How to Narrow Down Your Target Market by tuning in to our tutorial: The “HOW” Framework


How to Narrow Down Your Target Market: Specializing Your Agency


Yeah. Absolutely. And so that is one of the many benefits of taking a vertical market approach to your agency. When you think about specializing, and I know you talked a lot about this in your programs and your content, you can specialize in what you do. Mm-Hmm. , SEO or PPC or whatever, uh, that might be where I’ve seen a lot of significant impact in helping an agency to grow is to specialize maybe in those things, but also in a, in a who, like as you talk about, right? So what is the, what is the vertical that we specialize in working with? And as a result of that, um, that specialization, as we’ve been saying, it removes a tremendous amount of that that friction and that buyer’s resistance. Because ultimately, what you’re saying, you’re communicating is, Hey, we know how to solve your specific problem. And by the way, we’ve done it for a lot of people just like you. And here’s the evidence.


Right? And, and that’s powerful because, like, let’s say that somebody from Scorpion was invited to go, and I’m sure this happened, invited to speak at a conference or teach in an event, or, you know, run a workshop or, you know, whatever. Yeah. Uh, and, and it happened to be for, you know, a rounded particular vertical that you’re talking about. Then that person could step into what we call that pond and be able to teach Yeah. And tell stories and share helpful things that are all super relevant and in the same, not just the same language, but the same dialect for the people who are there. Right?


Yeah. And what the, what’s interesting, so we sold into the franchise. We had to learn the franchise world very quickly. It is a small community. It really is like a village, the franchise world. And they would have these acronyms like LMP and, um, the NAF and all of these things where in a sales pitch, they’re gonna ask you at some point, is this, you know, is your marketing program typically funded by the NAF? And if you do, your answer to that will immediately confirm or deny you’re an insider to their world.


Yeah. And if you pause and go, um, you’re done. Yeah. Yeah.


Learn more about How to Narrow Down Your Target Market by tuning in to our tutorial: The “HOW” Framework


How to Narrow Down Your Target Market: Mastering Vertical Markets


Right. Exactly. ’cause they’re gonna prefer to work with someone who they don’t have to teach what an NAF Is. Right? Yeah. 100%. And, and, and, and, and when you’re stepping in, you just said like, learned it rapidly. So let’s talk about that. When you guys were adding these, these adjacent verticals. Yeah. What was that deep dive like? Because a prospective client doesn’t want to be your first hip replacement. Sure. Doesn’t want to be your first knee replacement. Right. , they wanna be the 10000th knee replacement. So, a hundred percent. Right? So tell us about that.


Yeah. So, in-home services, we had people like Travis. We actually had, uh, one of the, one of the senior, uh, sales, uh, uh, people on the team. His dad was a home service business. So we had enough of a start to be able to figure that out. But ultimately, the thing that really, uh, allowed us to deepen our specialization was in the fact that we actually created a separate business unit exclusively focused on home services. Hmm. What that means is you don’t, we, we didn’t approach it where you have a resource, let’s say an account manager who on the one call is talking to a personal injury attorney on the next call, they’re talking to a plumber. Yeah. We would, we would, uh, se segment out each of the verticals, uh, throughout the entire sort of lifecycle of a client. Everything from marketing to sales, to, uh, account management, were all, uh, segmented.


And so that gave us the ability to go deep with them, to understand their preferences, um, their language, what type of leads that they wanted, what type of jobs that they wanted to, to attract. So it’s through that focus and that, uh, that segmenting out the business that helped us to sort of accelerate and really go deep with that learning. I think also we, you know, you just kind of dive in. I’m thinking about the franchise world. For us, we actually had a direct relationship with a franchise brand that resulted in a client that, uh, was kind of a, uh, an a-list client in the franchise world, which led to a lot of different, uh, referrals and growth for us. And I think we had to just kind of dive deep into their world. We had to modify our product, our approach, uh, through a lot of client intimacy. Uh, and this, this segmenting out approach where we would have just separate people, we’d hire separate people for the franchise, um, and they would be dedicated. That allowed us to get up kind of to speed more quickly than if we kind of, you know, um, did more of a shared resource approach.


Learn more about How to Narrow Down Your Target Market by tuning in to our tutorial: The “HOW” Framework


How to Narrow Down Your Target Market: The Power of Outbound Sales


Uh, I think that’s so fantastic. Um, because literally, structurally, you mentioned business unit, it’s, you’re, you’re, you’re taking a deep dive, or excuse me, you’re jumping into the deep end of the pool. Yeah. Uh, right. And totally. And we’re gonna make this work, and we’re gonna make the investment. Yeah. Uh, so really, really, really smart. Um, so let’s, let’s dive into, would really love to, uh, peel back some layers on outbound, but then also would love to shift to your podcast today because, you know, these conversations that you’re having with 7, 8, 9 figure owners, it feels, I mean, it feels like when, um, it feels sort of like a lab like you’re collecting all of these data points and stories Yes. And all of that. Yes. So, would really love to get your insights there. So before we do that, tell us a little bit more about the outbound and how you started the outbound effort.


So, I inherited the sales team, which was inbound only, as we mentioned, the way that was driven by every Scorpion client got a brand new website. It was an SEO-optimized website. At the bottom of the client’s website was a logo, a scorpion logo that would lead to our website. And then a warm phone call that was, that was the primary, um, source of new, new leads for the business, which is fantastic. Uh, but you just can’t scale that. In other words, um, you can’t force more attorneys to find our websites. But what you can do is you can proactively go into the market and have conversations with your target customer. Uh, my, my sales mentor, Rory Clark, he talks about, uh, the, the, the challenge with inbounds is that if you, like, if you like donuts and the only thing that’s coming in the door are cookies, well then all you’re going to eat are cookies, right?


So if you like donuts, I eat a specific type of client of a specific profile and size and budget and so on and so forth. That’s what outbound does. It allows you to go out and get those donuts. Uh, and so, especially with the CEOs, um, the founder, you know, the founder-led agency, the CEO Rustin, he really wanted to grow the agency. We couldn’t just depend on these inbounds. And so what we did was we had to bring in an outbound focused sales culture. Okay? When you have a, uh, sales team that is used to waiting for the phone to ring and not having a quota, and being able to just, you know, make, I’ll tell you the, the sales team, when, when I arrived, they all drove really nice cars. They didn’t work that hard. ’cause they didn’t have to. And they had just our overall great life.


Learn more about How to Narrow Down Your Target Market by tuning in to our tutorial: The “HOW” Framework


How to Narrow Down Your Target Market: The True Costs Behind Gourmet Cookie Marketing


And that’s fine. There’s nothing wrong with that. But again, we needed to be able to put the foot on the accelerator. And so we had, we brought in a sales coach, Rory Clark I mentioned was, was our sales coach, uh, for that. Uh, we also had Jamie Adams, who was, um, who helped to run the sales team. He came over from another company, a very sales-led company called Reach Local, to run the sales team. And so we had to introduce this concept of going outbound. And what that means for most people, if you think about it, is you are cold calling. And people do not, people don’t wake up in the morning excited to go and do a bunch of cold calls, do your 50 calls a day, And so the way that we did that was, uh, a couple of things I think would, that worked for us that I’ll, I’ll call out number one, um, you know, Jamie and the sales team, they would, uh, the, and the sales coach, they would do a big offsite, train ’em up on how to do this.


Gave ’em scripts, give ’em a lot of tools to know how to do this. And then would, um, people like Jamie himself, the, the head of the sales team, he would actually do the sales outbound for, you know, with the team. He would be on the sales floor. Identical with the founder, uh, CEO, uh, Rustin. He would, he would do the outbound. He would, he would actually do the work that he was expecting his sales team to do. They also, um, did a really good job of incentivizing wins. So, significant incentives, incentivizing. I think we gave a car away to a salesperson at 1.0, like a Corvette of all things. And, um, and so there was a really big incentive. Salespeople typically are very motivated by incentives and money. Mm-Hmm. And so you, you sort of, you use that as, as a way to do it. And I think the other thing that was really instrumental in sort of bringing in this new sort of, uh, be a set of behaviours and approach and mindsets around outbound is we introduced this concept called sending a USI, and a USI stands for a uniquely striking impression. What we found was when we would go outbound through cold calling attorneys, we would get immediately to the gatekeeper. The gatekeeper is the receptionist or the person who’s responsible for making sure that people from Scorpion don’t actually talk to the attorney.


And, so we would do that a lot and we would not get any results. And so, the thing that we did that was different was that we would send a gift in the mail to the attorney. And, um, in, in many cases, we did a lot of different gifts, uh, over the years. But the big one that really had a, an early impact on this was sending gourmet cookies to the attorney in an overnight, uh, FedEx box that would arrive at their desk. ’cause FedEx typically skips the mail room. ’cause it’s an urgent documentary, urgent package goes right to the desk. That attorney opens it up and is presented with this fantastic, delicious box of cookies that would eventually end up in the, uh, in the break room where everyone’s having these amazing cookies saying, who brought the cookies? You know, and, and the word scorpion would, would make its way around the, the, the office. And by the time the Scorpion salesperson would call them, the conversation went from a lot of resistance to, oh, you guys are from Scorpion, you sent the cookies, Sher, lemme put you through.


Learn more about How to Narrow Down Your Target Market by tuning in to our tutorial: The “HOW” Framework


How to Narrow Down Your Target Market: Maximizing Outbound Success


Okay, so what did that cost? Mm-hmm. It was like a box of cookies and obviously effort. I’m sure it was very, very small in comparison to the win, but I just don’t want that to be a hurdle.


So I would say there are different costs involved in making this work. The first one is the list. Now I am a big, big believer that you need to do the work in scrubbing down the list. Yeah. First, what is a traditional sort of approach today is you buy a massive list, and then you, you spam your team, and then you see what comes, and then you’re having to scrub the appointments, uh, meaning you’re gonna have flaky appointments and bad fit and so on and so forth. So that’s the big cost at the, on the sales team. I know that that gets done on the marketing part before it gets to the sales team. So we would spend a lot of time building a list in-house of the, let’s call ’em Elite, a-list clients that we knew that if we can get on a call with them, that we had a really good shot at closing them.


Okay. Uh, and so we looked at things like, um, you know, ability to pay, right? Where there are the large law firms in the big cities that we would love to have as clients suitable? So we would segment, so we would look at segment based on that as well as, um, the, the likelihood that they had a problem that we can solve. Okay. So, we would spend a lot of time on building that list. And we would, I’m on the, I was the, uh, on the marketing team. So we would source the list, we would scrub it down, and we’d actually share it with the sales team. Mm-Hmm. , there were territories at this point. And within their territory, they’d get a list of 200 to 400, um, law firms that we thought that was pretty good to focus. And they would go in there and they would choose a hundred or 150 that they specifically really liked on that list.


Learn more about How to Narrow Down Your Target Market by tuning in to our tutorial: The “HOW” Framework


How to Narrow Down Your Target Market: Building Lasting Relationships


And they thought, yeah, if I could talk to this guy, um, it would be great. I can close the deal, I’ll hit my quota, and everyone’s happy. And so we got this sort of buy-in from the sales team to choose which 150 of these attorneys would get the cookies. Okay. Okay. So that’s a lot of sort of, that’s the work that goes into it. Okay. And then the cookies were sent typically as a, effectively, first touch, right? So it wasn’t like, you know, Hey Stephen, it’s Corey from Scorpion, I wanna get your address so I can, you know, send you a gift. It was more like, uh, the cookies arrive out of the blue as a, uh, as striking as a US side. It’s unique, it’s striking. It leaves an impression, it interrupts their day in a positive way. Um, and those would go out, it was a very coordinated effort where it was a list of 150, let’s say attorneys would get, uh, the cookies, and then the sales team would follow up on the cookies for a period of two to three weeks. If there were no real traction there, um, they would, those, those attorneys would get another gift in another, uh, the next quarter. And we would continue to gift them until we got a no. Okay. You know, uh, or, you know, uh, or they became a client.


Yeah. It’s, it, it’s funny, drew always gets laughs uh, when during our workshop we’re teaching about the, the nano 25, and people inevitably ask, well, well, how long Drew should it the person stay on the nano 25? And he says, uh, until they say Yes, or they file for a restraining order. Yeah, exactly. , right,


Right. Because in many cases, you know, you’re, you’re reaching out the, to help them. Like, this is not a, uh, this is not something that’s you’re trying to take from them. You’re trying to help them to be more successful. Right. Right. And that’s, that’s the energy that we wanna put out. Uh, and so we found that if you look at like, sort of the, uh, the product lifecycle of a website, let’s say it’s similar to, let’s say, a house in America, I think a person buys a new house every, not a, you know, uh, sales and buys a new house every nine years. They buy a new car every five years. And so it turns out that everyone buys a, you know, people typically buy a new website every three years. Okay. So we knew that if we kept someone on the list for at least three years, and we, we, uh, showered them with amazing gifts and bought full content and all those things, and we would go to the conferences and so on and so forth that we’re gonna get on that shortlist, the shortlist of agencies they’re gonna talk to when they’re ready to buy.


Learn more about How to Narrow Down Your Target Market by tuning in to our tutorial: The “HOW” Framework


How to Narrow Down Your Target Market: Common Mistakes in Agency Growth Strategies


Wow. Brilliant. I love how not only how specific you were in the list and all the things Yeah. Uh, but then, also, you knew the timing. You knew the timing that if we’re just patient and every quarter we send them something that’s yummy to eat or something smart or something that every quarter, they’re gonna know that we care about them. Yeah. And, and, and that we’re not trying to be interesting, or excuse me, we’re not trying to show them that we’re interested. We’re trying to be interesting. Right. Correct. We’re trying to do the USI, which is really smart. That’s interesting.


Right. Exactly.


Really, really cool. Really cool. Okay. So I know that we’re quickly running out of time, and maybe that means that we’re kind of getting set up for an encore, which would be so much fun, uh, to be able to have an encore with you, but in, in our, as as we need to start to come in for a landing. When I think about all of these fantastic strategies and tactics that you and the Scorpion team put into practice, I know that when you’re having conversations on the podcast, you’re talking with owners who are doing a lot of those things. Yes. But, but tell me, tell me about some of the pitfalls, some of the roadblocks, some of the obstacles, some of the potholes that you see too, that, that agency owners are maybe some of the mistakes that they’re making, uh, in, in that sort of data collection that you’ve got going on through either episodes or clients that you work with.


It’s funny, I asked that question of all my guests, like, you know, what’s the downside to taking a vertical market approach? And a lot of them have a really hard time giving an answer. And these are, again, agency owners who’ve taken a vertical market approach. And as a result of that, they’ve, they’ve seen, uh, a lot of really great business success. I would say a critical factor in success in becoming a vertical market specialist is that you have to give a mm-Hmm.


Learn more about How to Narrow Down Your Target Market by tuning in to our tutorial: The “HOW” Framework


How to Narrow Down Your Target Market: The Power of Agency Perspective in Vertical Markets


So it, you, it’s easy to kind of take a mathematical approach to, well, how big is the addressable market and what’s the average revenue? And so on and so forth. All of that is important. It’s part of the process, but you really have to care about not only the, uh, the business owners that you’re serving but also the industry itself. Um, you have to, I, I would say that I would encourage folks who are thinking about taking a vertical market approach to find a vertical they, they, they care about, and they want to not only, um, uh, be successful, they wanna help elevate the, the industry they’re serving. Yeah. Time and time again, successful agency owners who are verticalized care about creating a positive impact in the industry that they’re targeting. It’s not transactional as transformational


That’s exactly what I was gonna ask you. Yeah. Uh, and, and is that why you think that it’s, so you called it a critical factor because when you’re talking with that perspective client, they need to know that you give a rip, that you give a. And, and if you don’t, that’s blatantly obvious. If you’re just there to stick your finger in their wallet, they can sense that right away. Right. A


Hundred, a hundred percent. And that needs to come through everything you do. And the, the, what I call it is your, your point of view. Yep. The point of view is just based on what is the status quo problem in the industry that you serve, that you’re, that you exist to help solve. It goes beyond the differentiation, uh, which is, which is table stakes. You need to do it, but then it’s having a strong, uh, perspective on the market that you’re part of the solution.




And when you can communicate that, uh, you know, an example is, uh, there’s a, there’s a great, uh, agency called Phaser Marketing. Uh, Luke is the CEO of that. And his whole focus that one of his reason for being is to help, uh, remove the stigma of a career in the trades. They work, sorry, they work with, uh, construction businesses. And so his why is that you know, he, he is, uh, passionate about helping to exp grow the, uh, grow the industry and, and reverse this, this per this negative perception of a career in the trades. And he, uh, says it on his website. He also has a foundation that he has launched, he has a sponsorship where he sponsors a high school student who’s going into the trades every year. And so when you, when you’re, when you’re a construction company, and you’re looking at who do I work with as an agency? Uh, and you come across phaser marketing, uh, and their, and their positioning and their POV, it’s different. It’s, it’s not just another kind of slick agency that’s promising a lot of results. This is like, Hey, we’re committed to this industry and we’re, we want to be a part of the solution, and this is how we’re standing behind that.


Yeah. it takes the digital and takes it to a completely different level because it can completely


Different level. Yeah.




Exactly. Yeah.


Learn more about How to Narrow Down Your Target Market by tuning in to our tutorial: The “HOW” Framework


How to Narrow Down Your Target Market: The Power of Vertical Market Specialization


Well, it goes back to, um, let me just grab my notes here really quick. It goes back to where you said, uh, attorneys loved us because we were more of an expert in running their business than they were. So, like, Luke can talk about what it’s like to run a successful contracting business or, you know, whatever types of construction companies he works with. Yeah. Like, he can speak that language again. They’re like, oh my gosh, we found our person.


So I think that the advice that I would have to listeners is that as you’re going through a process of identifying, let’s say, you wanted to target a vertical market, it can’t just be a mathematical equation. You also have to include the heart. You have to figure out who I care about. And what could I get behind?


Yeah. The calculus of, well, that’s a significant total addressable market. Let, let’s go after that.


Right. , and then you just show up like everyone else who’s doing the same thing.


Yeah. Well, and that’s another thing that I, that I love too, when we were talking about, uh, like when you broke down the, uh, outbound sales process, you mentioned starting with the list and building the elite, a-list clients using your words. Yeah. But right before that, you said, you know, the typical approach is you buy a list and you, and then you spam your total addressable market. Well, that, that’s not being, that, that’s not a good outbound effort.


No. And if you are targeting a niche, uh, and you come off as if you are just trying to, you know, spam them, uh, it’s a small, you know, a niche, and a vertical specifically is like a village word gets around. And so you can’t approach it from that sort of the volume perspective as much.


Hmm. Well, I love the cookie strategy. Unfortunately, cookies are a food group in our house. So, I mean, but you know, I think you get the dairy, you get, you know, great. Right. Yeah, of course.


It’s a staple. You got to have it.


All joking aside, it was a brilliant strategy and conversation. Yeah. Thank you so much for sharing your insights and wisdom. Before we go, before we close out and say goodbye. Yeah. Any final advice? anything you think we might have missed? And then Corey, please share with our audience the best way to connect with you.


Thank you. Yeah. So I, I would say that I am, I am, um, convinced that taking a vertical market approach is, an excellent way to scale your agency, to build in operational efficiency, to escape founder-led sales, and all those really great things. It’s not the only way to grow, and that’s fine, but it’s one thing I’m super passionate about. So, uh, I encourage folks to, um, to, to consider that if they’re looking to scale their agency, uh, a way to get in touch with me is, uh, and to get more sort of content around this idea of taking a vertical market approach. I would love it if you would, um, join my newsletter. Hmm. It’s a daily, five, five days a week. I sent an email out about this topic of what I call deep specialization. And that’s taking not only the vertical focus but it’s also the care and the strategy that we’ve been talking about. And, uh, and so it’s my deep specialization daily email, and you can find that at my website at corey


Awesome. Okay. Everyone, no matter how many notes you took or how often you go back and re-listen to Corey’s words of wisdom, which I sure hope that you do. The key is you have to take all of these golden nuggets from this mining expedition. You have to take these golden nuggets and apply them because when you do, you will accelerate your results. And Corey, we all have the same 86,400 seconds in a day, and I’m grateful, my friend, that you said yes. Yeah. To come onto the show, to be our mentor and guide to help us raise the bar of excellence. Thank you so much. Thank you.


It’s been a wonderful conversation.

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