Tips for writing copy that converts by Joel Klettke

  • Customer driven copy, what does that mean, exactly?
  • It's amazing how saying the same thing but slightly different clicks a whole different set of switches in somebody's brain.
  • You can never trust one data source on its own. You have to look at multiple sources to get the real story.
  • Both of those clients just saw great results because they were open-minded and open to being wrong. Too many businesses are defensive, they're scared.
  • I used to get a ton of pushback about doing the research, doing the homework. People said, “Just write the thing.”
  • One of the things that you cannot be a great conversion copywriter and have a huge ego
  • But copy remains I think for way too many businesses an afterthought
  • Case studies are one of those things that everybody needs, most people know they need.
  • But I truly believe if we're going to exist as a company five years from now, we have to be a video first company.

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Joel Klettke on writing copy that converts into sales

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Doug: Well, welcome back listeners, another episode of Real Marketing Real Fast. Today, I am pleased to have joining me in the studio, another fellow Canadian Joel Klettke. Now, Joel is an interesting guy. He is a copywriter, but if you read his bio on his Twitter account, it says “pray for your competitors, after you hire me they'll need it.” So, he is a conversion specialist, and a copywriter, and a consultant to B2B businesses. He is the founder of Casual Copywriting.

One of the articles I read on Joel prior to inviting him and having him on my show was a case study that he did for a company named HubSpot, so I'm sure you've all heard of HubSpot. The case study was how a customer driven copy helped HubSpot increase their conversion by nearly 100%. So if you want to know how Joel helped HubSpot increase their conversion and how they can help you and increase the conversion of your landing pages and sales pages and all the online marketing tactics that you use, I would suggest that you tune in.

If you stay at the very end, we're going to have a discussion about something new that Joel's doing that I think is really cool, that you may find interesting as well. He started a new venture called Case Study Buddy and what he does is he works with businesses and he manages the entire process of building out case studies for you to use both internally and externally for your marketing.

So, with that said, I'd like you to join me in welcoming Joel to the Real Marketing Real Fast Podcast today. Hey, Joel, I'm super excited to talk to you today, for a couple reasons. First of all, I love copy and copywriting. But more importantly, I like copy that converts. I couldn't help but notice your introduction that you have in your Twitter account. It says, “Pray for your competitors after you hire me.” So, it should be a great conversation and as well as what you're doing with case studies.

I had a guest on a while ago saying, “Hey, If can give you a tip to get your business fired up, you should make sure to do case studies early.” So, here we are talking to you. So, welcome to the Real Marketing Podcast.

Joel Klettke: Yeah, thank you so much for having me here.

Doug: So, why don't you give us a little bit of background? You've got a number of skills, but obviously, one of the biggest skills is moving the sales dollar for people. So, why don't you tell us how that works?

Joel Klettke: Yeah, certainly. I'm a conversion copywriter in my own consulting firm. As you mentioned, I spun off case study a few years ago. Where I come at it from and what I'm really passionate about bringing to businesses and evangelizing and getting people to see the value in, is customer driven copy and how you can essentially steal all your best copy from the mouths of your customers.

How going from paying lip service to the idea of talking to your customers and actually doing it and finding structured ways to do that. How can you take that and move the dial and improve conversion, find new ideas and unexpected things you can test? So, I'm really passionate about running websites, landing pages, and email series on that front and doing a lot with [inaudible] and build out these research programs, so they're constantly learning more about their customers in really practical ways.

Doug: So, I saw the article that you had written on HubSpot, how customers that are in copy help HubSpot increase their conversion by nearly 100%. So I'm curious when you say customer driven copy, what does that mean, exactly?

Joel Klettke: Yeah, so I think a lot of marketers have this weird Don Draper-esque notion that good copy comes from locking yourself away in a room and slinging whiskeys and it's really a creative pursuit. I found out, yes, there's elements of creativity. You have to be a creative person to write well. But, when I say customer driven copy, it's exactly what I was kind of eluding before in that … For example, with HubSpot, the way that we got such an incredible result is by talking to the customers and letting their customers tell us in their own words, “These are my pain points, these are my anxieties, these are my objections, these are my priorities.”

So when I go to sit down and write, it's the opposite of huddling around the boardroom table brainstorming. It's going out and actually talking to the customer and letting the customer drive the narrative, letting the customer inform the way the page is put together.

That's exactly what we did with HubSpot and such an exciting case study for me to have been a part of and to see such a phenomenal result. That's my whole approach is getting the customer to be at the core of informing what gets written, how it gets written, and why.

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Joel Klettke on writing copy that converts into sales

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Doug: Yeah, it's a funny concept when you think about it. It makes sense that you'd want to talk in your customer's language. But, traditionally, I come from being in the ad agency's side. It's focused on creative, how can we come up with some great new crazy creative thing, which is a bunch of us sitting in room not talking to anybody, just dreaming up something that would work, which is kind of a ridiculous idea without getting any feedback from the people that we're actually trying to serve.

Joel Klettke: Yeah, to bring it down to sort of brass tax, it's incredible what you can learn, if only you listen. When I say listen, I don't just mean conversations. So, yes, we survey customers. Yes, we interview them. For example, to give you a real look at how different worlds collided to come up with really brilliant insight.

I was doing some work for this client who's in the online divorce space. We were wondering, we have this curious question, “Why do men convert so much better than women?” So we dug into the data, we looked, and by cross-referencing a few different things we saw in chat logs, a lot of the women were mentioned in chat that they're single parents. We thought that was interesting. Then, we looked at the hours of chats. So, when is chat live? When is it not live? We realized, “Oh, a lot of these women are working two jobs to support themselves.

So, chat was such an integral part of conversion, but it was down by the time they got off work to actually engage with the site. So by making some simple changes surrounding that and just by investigating and trying to live in the customer's world, we were able to make changes to the copy. We were able to make changes to the flow that appealed to that audience more. We were able to drive a real change.

So, that's the kind of stuff that really gets me fired up because it's not what you would expect and it's not what you'd traditionally label copywriting, but it's really where so much of the ROI that I'm able to get and so much of the results that we'll generate come from. It's just that research and listening.

Doug: Well, that makes a lot of sense. I think we've got some lift from one client and all we did was simply increase the font size because their target audience was over 55.

Joel Klettke: Yeah, brilliant, right? That's the kind of super fun stuff that you only see when you're paying attention, I love it.

Doug: Yeah, it's like they can't see. I have glasses, my wife has glasses, we're of that age group, we can't see the font. So, make the font bigger. Oh, guess what. Big surprise, higher conversion.

Joel Klettke: Totally. It's amazing too how even just saying the same thing but slightly different, clicks a whole different set of switches in somebody's brain. Phrasing something for example, like a lot of companies, they drown in their own jargon and they get so excited about the way that they say things. So in the CMS world a lot of the time it's all about doing things more efficiently and so on and so forth. So, with HubSpot, for example, we were talking. All we said is make more sales in less time. That's not really … There's nothing eloquent to it, but that's what a salesperson wants to do.

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Joel Klettke on writing copy that converts into sales

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Doug: Yep, absolutely.

Joel Klettke: Love that side of exploring how small changes have a big impact.

Doug: So in addition to talking to people, I'm assuming or maybe, I'm assuming incorrectly. You're using some form of analytics as well because I see in looking at your services and your scope, that your website as well, build websites. So I'm assuming that you're looking into some of the data and the conversations and searches to gather data, is that another source for you?

Joel Klettke: Yeah, absolutely. I don't build the website, but I do help clients collate all of the data and cross-reference and make it meaningful. So, there are two big buckets we look into. There's the quantitative which helps us see what's happening, and then the qualitative, which helps us understand the “why” and fill in the gap.

So on the quantitative side, I would call it quantitative. I'm looking at things like Google Analytics and common user paths. Probably my favorite source of information because it's always shocking, guaranteed, always shocking. Never goes away, is recorded user sessions. So actually watching people engage with the site that you built. Nobody, I promise you, nobody engages with it the way you thought they would.

So recorded user session, heat maps, Google Analytics, and then, of course, they'll be testing that sort of thing. Then, cross-referencing that with those surveys, the interviews, the chat logs to see page-by-page. What questions are people asking and is that because there's a gap in the information we're actually sharing? It's taking these disparate data sources and I always tell clients, that they'll tend to see one little data upload and get all excited about it and say, “Our conversions on mobile are so much worse. It must be because it's a browser thing.” Whatever.

You can never trust one data source on its own. You always have to kind of triangulate between quantitative, qualitative, never just look at the heat map and go, “Oh, this is what's happening.” You have to look at multiple sources to get the real story.

Doug: So, fair enough. So, how much data does a company need to have? Are you talking about brands that are established in this work, if you're going to go into a new space or you're going to do a new launch or a product launch where you don't have a lot of data yet?

Joel Klettke: No, I think it's both using what you have to the maximum potential. Obviously, the more data you have, the more you can reference. But there's such a thing as too much, where you're just now drowning and a whole bunch of different insight stuff to make them talk to each other. So for clients, let's say a smaller business who has some data, they've been around a while. As long as we can do a customer survey and watch recorded user sessions, we can get insights we otherwise wouldn't have.

But let's say that you're brand new to the game. You've got none of this stuff, what's a company to do? I always make the analogy of a snowball, where you start small and you just start rolling and rolling and you have a plan for the future. So, for people that are brand new to the game, it's about looking, for example, at what do your competitors have. So, competitor review, positive. What do people like about them, but negative, what people don't like about your competitors?

That gives you a clue to say, “Okay, this is something we can position ourselves against. Or I promise you, your business is not the first way that people have ever solved a particular problem in the history of mankind. They're using something, but it might not be another service just like yours, you might be the first to do it the way you do. People are addressing that problem somehow today.

So there's going and looking at the reviews of those complementary products or services, whether it's tracking people down and just interviewing a small handful of people, using a competing service. There's always somewhere to start, always something you can draw upon. Then, just put out a baseline and start measuring meaningfully, and lowball it. Never consider yourself finished. There's always something new to learn, new to bring.

Doug: That's a great comment. So, listeners, I just want to reiterate it. Like Joel said, “You get started with where you are, with what you've got.” So, I've often seen people say, “Oh, I've built this new site or I built this new landing page. I'm done.” No, you're just starting. You have no data because it's new. Now, you're going to go to work because you're going to have to listen and learn.

Joel Klettke: Absolutely. You can't learn until you start. So a lot of people get so paralyzed of the notion, “Well, I've got to get it perfect, straight out the gate.” News flash, I've never gotten it perfectly out of the gate. None of the copywriters have gotten it perfect out of the gate. We're always learning, iterating, and improving. So your mindset has to shift, “Well, I'm going to be paralyzed until I nail this.” To, “I'm not going to nail it out the gate and that's okay.” Because I forget who the quote comes from, I think it was Edison, somebody said, “I haven't failed, I just found 99 ways that didn't work.”

Doug: Absolutely. That's what I tell people in terms of my media buying services. I say, “I know more ways that don't work than you do and that's why you hire me.”

Joel Klettke: Totally, that's a great way of putting it. Yeah, great.

Doug: Well, the other thing that I've seen, that we've done as well is I've looked on Amazon and Amazon reviews. If you're in a business, you're launching a new product, even if you have an existing brand, you can go and find books on the topic, you can look at the language of the testimonials and the reviews, who the best sellers are. You can start to understand how your potential customers think and talk in your space.

Joel Klettke: Absolutely. I love that, and that's something that early on in my copywriting career, I got that tip from [Johanna Weeb] and maybe she got from Kennedy. But I love the way that you put that up and because it just illustrates the fact that you're never at ground zero. You might feel like it, but people are solving this problem somehow. There's something that speaks to that situation. So your job is to be like a bloodhound and go, “Who needs this? How are they solving this now? How do they talk about? How do I connect with even a handful of people that I intend to help?”

When you do that and when you start learning how to have structured conversations with those people, how to ask the right questions, you'll learn more in a single interview, in a single conversation, than a lot of companies learn in years of huddling around a boardroom table, trying to be brilliant. Because you're doing the hard work of trying to live in that person's head and that's where great conversions come from is having so much empathy and having so much understanding for that person, and their pain, and their situation, you can write like you're writing a love letter to the person.

You can write like you're them. That really is what I think separates a lot of the best copywriters from those who are just the middle of the road, is like their chameleons. They can take on someone else's skin and live in their wold for a bit.

Doug: Well, I've also found that … Recently, I was speaking to somebody. I was being interviewed in their podcast and he was asking me some background questions about my business. He said, “How are you going to monetize that?” I explained what my plan was. So, it's not done. He goes, “Well, I'd buy that. How much is it?” Well, you know, there's an opportunity just doing some research where I actually made a sale. He said, “Will you take my card number?” I said, “What I'm building isn't done.” He goes, “That's fine, I just want to be first in line.”

Joel Klettke: Yeah, fantastic problem to have, that people want to buy a thing you're not done.

Doug: Yeah, I was totally surprised. It's like, “Wow.” Talking to people before you've launched, before you've got everything complete, in that particular case, pay off in cold hard cash.

Joel Klettke: Totally.

Doug: So, you want to share a case study with us? Being that it will transition by being … That's your second side of your business, there's a case study that you walk somebody through this process and maybe somebody … We talked about HubSpot, is there someone else that you want to share, a client you want to give a shout out to?

Joel Klettke: Yeah, I mentioned that divorce client. I think what was so cool about that is their openness to having someone else come in and look at their data objectively. So, we wanted all kinds of really interesting things from the research that were counterintuitive. So at the time I came in, they really thought that their DIY product was the one people wanted. It was the cheapest, it was getting the most clicks.

When we looked at the data and when we looked at the conversations we had, something interesting began to emerge. That all these tools they built to try to sell people on one thing. So they had these different quizzes that you could take to see which product was right for you. They had all these different elements intended to push people in the right direction.

The more people engaged with the things they've built with the intent to be helpful, the less likely they were to buy. That was really curious. So the hypothesis began, “Well, why don't you just push them through the sales page? Why don't you show them the thing, instead of trying to roundabout lead them there?” So that's what they did. They changed the copy around to put emphasis on their managed service. They sold the benefits of the managed service. They started talking about who this might be ideal for as opposed to just giving them a spectrum of things. And sure enough, they've added over 11,000 pounds per month to the revenue by giving people fewer options and trying to help them less.

Doug: Wow. That's amazing.

Joel Klettke: That's what I love about this niche, there's so much creative problem solving and it's almost never what you expect. So, they were a fantastic client and I also got to work with a fellow who … He's a Canadian as well. His company does driving tests for the U.S., so they have sites all over. I love it because it's not a sexy niche. When you think of big money making niches, you're probably not thinking driver testing, quizzes online to help people prep for their driver's test.

What I loved about working with them is they were so open to new ideas and so open to their core offering, not being similar to the divorce people, not being what the market actually wanted. So we looked at their landing pages, their sales, they're just really pushing these cheat sheets. They thought these were the reason people were buying from us. Almost instantly, when we started talking to real customers, that wasn't why they were buying at all. They just wanted more quizzes, more questions to help them prepare. Some of it sounds obvious on its face, but it wasn't.

So again, we revamped things, we change things, and results followed. So, both of those clients just saw great results and it happened because they were open-minded and open to being wrong. Too many markets I think are defensive, they're scared. They feel like, “If we put all of this energy into this direction and it's not the right one, I'll look bad.” These people weren't like that at all. They just said, “We could be wrong, we're probably wrong, it's okay to be wrong. Let's find out what we should do to make it right.” That mentality changes everything for a business.

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Joel Klettke on writing copy that converts into sales

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Doug: Sure, it makes sense. The end goal is to run a profitable business. I guess the challenges and I'll ask you in a second for your feedback as well, is that we have egos. So, we were working with a client, we did multi-variant testing, and everybody had bets and was obviously cheering for their copy. The reality was when we ran this multi-variant testing, the customer told us what was right and most of the guys in the room didn't score, but who cares? At the end of the day for that client, it moved the sales dial. So where do you get the most pushback, trying to implement this with a company?

Joel Klettke: The thing that drives me crazy, it's an instant red flag. I know the minute this happens, I'm not going to be a good fit for the client. The most pushback I get is people … I've learned tricks around, I'll share in a moment, but I used to get a ton of pushback about doing the research, doing the homework. People said, “Just write the thing.” There's this mentality, “Just change our headlines or just restructure of the page.” Then it's like, “Well how do you propose I do that? Do you want to pay me to guess? That doesn't feel right.” So companies who have toxic mentalities, I'd like the way that you brought in Eagle because that is where I get this a lot.

For example, particularly with bigger software companies. Someone in the organization usually feels they need to have their handprints on it. Whether it's researched or not, they feel like they've got to have their fingerprints on the end product for them to get the back pat and for it to be valid. So these days, I deal a lot with that. I have a lot of strategies for mitigating that. Probably the most important one, the change that I made in my approach that has paid dividends is where people used to push back on the research, now from the very beginning, I never call it research because no one ever wants to pay for research. It sounds like busy work you do in a cave. I call it an analysis phase, and I get every single stakeholder involved. Everyone who has to sign off on this thing has to be part of that process or the project doesn't move ahead. Now, whether that's just reviewing the research together and agreeing upon what it's telling us that we're aligned in the direction we can move forward.

That's taken so much stress off of my shoulders, because now when we disagree down the line, we're looking at it through the same lens. I can say, “I wrote it this way because of this. We agreed when we looked at the research together, this is what it was telling us.”

So it's no longer, “I don't like that word or I don't like that headline.” It's we're testing this because of what we learned together earlier. And doing that again, it's one of those things that simple on its face, but it's made a tremendous difference in the amount of no head-to-head combat I do with internal CMOs and those types of people.

Doug: Well, and I guess the opportunity there really is to test. So if somebody is really entrenched in their position, it's really simple. You're not going to throw their entire online strategy out the window. You're going to say test it. And then at the end of the day, you're looking at the data and say, “Well, which one's making you more money?”

Joel Klettke: Exactly. And, and that's what those egos again, that you mentioned, come in. One of the things that you cannot be a great conversion copywriter and have a huge ego because the variant that you love the most often performs the worst. You're too close to it. So you do a whole lot of killing your darlings in this business. And if you treasure any one of them too much, you'll burn out. So the novelty of being able to test the concept and get [inaudible] answers is part of what I love about this type of writing in particular.

Doug: So how long does it normally take for you to go through this process with the company? Maybe it's a question you can't answer, I don't know. But I wanted to ask.

Joel Klettke: I think a lot does depend on their starting points. So for example, there are certain things that have a natural leg time to them. So if we're running a customer survey, for example, it takes time to get responses. Or if we're setting up a recorded user sessions tool, depending on how much traffic they get, it takes a while to get the amount of data we need. But I would say typically in a situation with a company who's let's say even just been around for a short amount of time, they're getting maybe a few hundred visitors a month and they have a few hundred happy clients.

We can do this whole research phase typically in the span of one month, sometimes less depending on how much research is already available. So this research phase, it's not something you have to do a six-month plan for. You can get it done meaningfully in a single month.

If you're really on a crunch, if you read the HubSpot case study, for example, that whole site had to be done and pushed out live within two and a half months. There was no time check everything. Right? So in those situations, you just have to be an assassin when it comes to knowing exactly what you need to learn to do your job. So in an ideal world, we'd have a full month to collect and analyze, and put together. Sometimes a little more if there are lots to get, but there's absolutely no reason that it should take you much longer than that.

Doug: Well, that's great news. You're not talking about taking a whole quarter to do something. By the end of the quarter, you're going to have a bunch of new results based on the research or the analysis that you did, and then implementing the recommended changes and testing your hypothesis.

Joel Klettke: Yeah, and you know what Doug? The thing that people don't realize that I wish more businesses realized, it doesn't have to be expensive. It doesn't have to cost a fortune to do this type of research. Let's look at some of the tools that I actively make use of. So survey tools like Typeform. You can get a month of Typeform or SurveyMonkey for $30. That's all you need. Hotjar. Similarly, you can pay by the month or by the year. We're talking tens of dollars, not hundreds of dollars.

You don't need to hire a crazy market research agency to buy the best in class analytics software. You just need to have a way to connect with customers, see how they're behaving on your site, and interpret that. So tools wise, yes you might be more to have someone sit down and analyze it. But there's no reason that cost should be a huge inhibitor. Even if you're a small business, you can do this stuff. If you can afford a phone bill, you can get someone on an interview. So it doesn't have to be cost prohibitive.

Doug: Yeah. And we've talked to customers before. What's interesting is for our listeners, I'm sure when Joel when your people call, you're going to get a different response than if I called my customers. My customers because I have a personal relationship, might be a little bit more sensitive and reluctant to give you honest feedback of what they like and don't like. But I'm assuming you're gonna get more goods then I'm going to get.

Joel Klettke; Yeah. We see that a lot on the case study side of things, and that's why a lot of companies choose to bring in an outside third party is it's disarming to have someone else asks you questions about your relationship because you don't hold it quite so tightly. I think you can still get really meaningful results from customer surveys and those types of things, but you're absolutely right. When it comes to the interview piece, putting somebody on that job can be really, really helpful. Now that being said, that doesn't have to be cost prohibitive either. For example, if we look at one of the trends that's really unfortunate, a lot of journalists out there aren't as busy as they could be. Some are out of work, some are freelancing. It's a tough gig.

Journalists are trained to be polite and dig, at the same time. They're really, really good at asking people questions, and getting to the heart of the story. So if you're looking at it through the lens of, “We need somebody to talk to our customers who can be detached, who can ask the tough questions, who can get this honest feedback.” Journalists might be one place to start looking as somebody who could contract to do some of that work. And it's not again, going to be this huge, huge bill at the end of the day. You just have to be smart about how you go about it and ask the right question.

Doug: Well if you think of your entire marketing budget of a company, so whatever company. So whatever the size of your budget is, and you look at how much money you spend on advertising on Facebook and Google and email lists, and all the other forms of advertising, and you're trying to drive traffic to your landing page and your website. You're going to probably spend, I don't know what the numbers are, but you're going to spend exponentially more advertising than you are on making sure the right information's on the landing pages are going to show up.

Joel Klettke: Yeah, isn't that a thing?

Doug: Yeah. I interviewed a guy out of California, Brendan Kane. And he built a million followers on Facebook in 30 days. He's worked for a bunch of celebrities, and he talked about Facebook ads. And to your point, the days of ad people trying to guess are gone. So enter talking to customers. What a new concept? And artificial intelligence. What are the moods and the conversation that people are already having when you're not there?

Joel Klettke: Yeah, brilliant.

Doug: So they're talking about running 500 ads with a super small budget instead of running one ad with a huge budget, which is basically the same thing we're talking about with you is making sure the messaging's right before you drive people there and go, “Hey, you know what? Facebook ads don't work.” It's like no, your web copy sucks because you're not listening to customers.

Joel Klettke: Yeah. And that is honestly one of the most annoying bees in my bonnet, is there's still a transition that has to happen. Especially when it comes to say a website, companies will pour thousands and thousands of dollars into the design of a site, into the development of a site. But copy remains I think for way too many businesses an afterthought where it's like, “Oh shoot, we've got the pretty pictures. But now we need to tell the story.” That is so backward to me, and there's such this idea we need more traffic, more traffic, more traffic. Yes, you do.

Maybe you should make sure that there are no holes in your bucket before you start pouring more water into it. Because that's what a lot of companies do is they go, “We need more leads, more leads.” So they spend huge sums of money driving traffic where my work and the conversion work that I get to do, that's a multiplier. If you can move your conversion rate even a few percent, the result is so much bigger than just dumping thousands, and thousands, and thousands of more people into your broken funnel.

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Joel Klettke on writing copy that converts into sales

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Doug: Well, I also guess that once you help people with their conversion and get the copy down right, you're going to take that same information, that copy, and move that into your ad. So it's got the proper format. People are going to see the ad, they're going to click on the ad. They're going to go to the landing page. The language is going to be the same. And it'll be an easy transition from hey, I don't know so I've clicked on your ad. Now I'm on your landing page and we're having a conversation.

Joel Klettke; Absolutely. It just plays into everything, but there's still this resistance to putting in the time and the effort to get the information that you need to make it all work. People have this mentality of wanting it done yesterday, and they've had this thud factor, the things like design and development. Really, I'm seeing it little by little, more and more, people are waking up to it. But the whole notion of making sure that you're presenting the right offer the right way with the right language, from the get-go. Or as close to it, starting that little snowball and learning as you go. I think people are finally getting there, but it's still so frustrating to watch priorities be so out of whack with so many marketing teams and founders and businesses.

Doug: Well now you've got me feeling guilty, so knowing that hey, just more Tim the tool man. More power, just more leads. “Who cares if the conversion rate is only one half of 1%, we'll just spend more on advertising instead of moving it from one half a percent to 1%?”

Joel Klettke: Totally.

Doug: “And doubling our sales.”

Joel Klettke: It's like a conveyor belt, right? If the end of the conveyor belt is broken, you're just going to dump more and more product that's going to go nowhere. More stuff you pile on, it's not going to make a huge difference in the end because so much of it is falling off. But anyway, I could talk about that forever. But I'm guessing there are other things you want to cover.

Doug: Yeah. I wanted to transition and talk a little bit about what you're doing with case studies. So I've heard this conversation this week. I've been to several meetings. People said, “We need a case study. We did a case study, we need a case study.” I didn't know that the services that you guys provide even existed until we connected. So why don't we just transition? You tell us a bit about Case Study Buddy and what you're doing, and how you're helping customers to make this an easier process.

Joel Klettke: Yeah. So I love the example you just gave because that's where the idea came from. So case studies are one of those things that everybody needs, most people know they need. And yet when I was looking around I said, “Why don't more people have these?” So I had been asked to put together a case study for a software company and in doing that process, I realized like, “Hey, not only is there a huge need for this, but these are harder to do than people think.” So it was the right mixture of here's a product that people value, that they need, that has so much utility for every part of the funnel. Here's a process that I can build. It's repeatable. I can build a company that does this over, and over, and over and becomes the best at doing it.

And when I looked around, I had the same reaction. I thought, “Surely somebody has already built this thing. Somebody must have built a case study only company.” So when I looked around and I googled and I search, I found almost nothing. I found one woman who was very prominent, who had made it her whole space, but she's just one person. She can't possibly satisfy the whole market. Then I found a lot of marketing agencies that had added that as it's just one more piece of content they do. But these are so specialized. There's so much more that goes into them than people realize that, “I've got to build this thing. I've got to be the guy to the plant the flag and build the company that says we are the best at these and we get them done.”

So what Case Study Buddy does is we make the entire process of finding good candidates, talking to those candidates, capturing their story, sharing it and cashing in on customer success stories. As frictionless and dare I say fun as it gets, both for our client and their customer. So to walk you through what that process looks like in a nutshell. From the moment you contact us, whether you have someone bought in and ready to go or not. We work with you to identify, get people to put up their hand and say, “Yes, I'm willing to share.” And get them to actually share, which is a huge stumbling block for companies. They almost block their own shots assuming they'll never say yes or we're under NDA, so it's a nonstarter. Which is not true. So we help get the buy-in.

Then from there, our customer gives us a couple of briefs. So you tell us your side of the story and your perspective on this story. Then we go out and take care of everything else. Scheduling the interview, running the interview, sending a recording and a transcript so you can repurpose and use them other ways. And there are tons of ways to repurpose them.

Writing up the story, managing revisions from both sides. And I'm hoping that as people are listening, then realizing there's already way more to this process than I thought went in. Managing revisions from both sides, doing up a designed pdf or similar marketing asset, making sure that proper release has been secured. And then now, we're starting to do more and more with actually helping clients use them and put them to work.

Because the thing that we quickly realized is that our success really relies on people being successful with these. And as much as I want to say that marketers have that down, people still don't really know how to maximize the ROI of a single case study. So that's something we're venturing into as well.

Doug: I would think there are a couple big wins here. One is your conversion consulting because you're coming from a place of this isn't just be another report to sit on a desk or sit on a shelf. At the end of the day, it needs to do something. Generate a lead, generate an inquiry, close a sale. At some point, you're using this for marketing. But I think the big win probably is that you do the contact with the customer, and you walk them through the process. So I've always seen that as for example, a public speaker. It's very tough for me to phone and get myself booked as a speaker. I can't say, “Hey, I did this great presentation and people were sitting on the edge of their seat begging for more.” I can't say that. That'd sounds ridiculous, but you could say that. So when you're talking to the customer, it makes sense. There's a lot of conversations that you can have that I couldn't have if I had my in-house team do it.

Joel Klettke: Yeah, absolutely. We talked about surprises we see on the conversion side. We've had surprises on this side as well. We've had clients, customers agree to be in a case study. We got them on a call, and when the rubber hits the road, they're actually not happy at all and they're thinking about leaving. It's like why did you agree to be in this case study if that's the case? But we can go there. So the thing is, case studies and these case study interviews, they're sneaky valuable ways of not only doing that customer research we just spent a while talking about for the conversion side. But also finding out how could you improve and where are you falling on your face, and what do customers like best or wish you would introduce next. So while the end deliverable is this case study that is fantastic for sales or great for marketing and has all this utility, there's even more to it than people expect because we're doing that hard recon that they could never pick up the phone and go, “Are you thinking of leaving us? Tell me more.”

So it really has been just this really cool and surprising journey of how much you can get out of just talking to people. Then of course with the case studies themselves, even I've been surprised at some of the ways that customers are using them and finding utility for them and baking them into the rest of their operations.

Doug:    For business owners and CMO's and C-level executives that want more exposure, case studies are a great way to secure a column at a trade publication. They're a great way to get a speaking engagement at a trade show because they don't want you to get up and talk about your business. They want a case study so there's evidence for the audience. So I was just listening to you and all the things that you do and the releases. And I'm thinking, “Oh man, I never thought of that.” Getting all the proper permissions and what data you can share, what data you can't share when you're out speaking. So there's a ton of ways that you can leverage this obviously to drive sales.

Joel Klettke: Yeah. I think the thing that's been surprising too is when we think of case studies, usually, we're thinking of them in this sales and marketing perspective, and rightfully so. I think that's where they're most powerful, but we're also seeing companies use them in really innovative ways internally. So companies who have made case studies part of their sales team onboarding process. Companies who've turned them into internal documentation to just keep the culture alive and improve morale, and get people excited about the impact they're actually having.

At the core, these are human stories. Yes, they involve businesses, and metrics, and ROI, and numbers. But at the core, they're really just stories about how you helped X person or X group people accomplish something they wanted to or do the thing that they needed to in a way that really worked and made them happy. So there's so much. I just get really excited about how much utility there is for these and how many ways just having one good story can benefit a business. It's nice to have 10, or 20, or 100, or 1,000. Even just one, but the number of doors that it opens for you in terms of speaking or marketing or all of these different facets.

Doug:    Well, I hadn't even considered the cultural side. I'm unashamed to say that I'm a sales and marketing guy first and foremost, and I tend to spend almost 100% of the time they are. But it makes sense that you've got a team, you've got a company, you've got people all throughout your team that are not customer facing. So they don't get to have the experience and the conversations that your sales and marketing team do. So this is a way for them to say, “I play a part in helping people solve this problem in their life.” So that's a great example.

Joel Klettke: Yes. For us it was unexpected, and we keep seeing new ways people are using them. Quickly, I want to share one of my favorites because I think it's really practical for people listening if you have a study now or you're thinking about getting one. One of the ways that we're starting to see these be quite effective is resurrecting dead leads. So when you engage with someone, you've spent the money to get them into your email series or to try your demo, or to talk to your team. And the interest was there, but for whatever reason, it went away. As a salesperson, you're looking for a natural feeling way to reach back out to them. A natural feeling way to re-engage with them. Sending them a story that features someone like them and tells about the outcome that they were intending to have when you first had contact.

We're seeing software companies bake these into cold … When the demo ends type of emails. We're seeing sales team use them to re-engage with leads that they thought were gone. We're seeing these companies get results with that, turn that into new customers and recover that relationship, and bring these leads that they thought were gone right back in.

So again, that's just one of the myriad ways that these become so useful. And I think really the reason for that is again, at the core of these, their stories. We're wired to appreciate and respond to a good story that we can relate to.

Doug: So what's some of the bad advice that you hear in this space?

Joel Klettke: So much. So the first is to write case studies without your customers. Not only is this laziness, but this is also liability waiting to bite you.

So a lot of companies they think, “To go through the process of interviewing my customer and getting their approval and yadda and yadda.” This is one industry where it is not better to ask forgiveness than permission because you are putting a relationship on the line. You are putting financial on the line, just all kinds of … Not only that, a story of what your customer can't be compelling if you don't involve the customer in the story. So that's one of the big ones that I see all the time.

I think another one, it's not necessarily bad advice, but it's something people don't realize that they're doing. I think in the beginning, a lot of companies get into case studies. They have no strategy, and that's okay. But it's bad advice to just tell every story you possibly can because you don't want to replicate all of your customer base. Some are inevitably more profitable or better than others. You don't want to tell the same story 20 different times. You want to write specific stories to specific rules, about specific problems and specific outcomes.

So not necessarily that it's bad advice. I think just start is great advice because one is better than none. But for companies who are a little more sophisticated, not having a strategy starts biting you because your sales team ultimately wants to have an arsenal of stories that they can apply to specific situations and specific outcomes. So I think generic stories are a great starting point. It's better than nothing. It's a great way to get going, and there's still lots of utility there. But for companies who are further down the chain, not having a strategy is probably the second biggest problem I see to not getting permission in the first place.

Doug: So just going to wind this down as we're coming to the end of our time together. So a couple more questions for you. So what are you most excited about in the next six to 12 months?

Joel Klettke: I am really, truly excited for delving into video as a company with case studies. So we feel we've nailed the written piece. But I truly believe if we're going to exist as a company five years from now, we have to be a video first company. I'm excited not only for my self, selfishly to learn more about telling great stories with video and to get some of the technical knowledge. I'm really excited to see more companies getting on board with video and getting excited about storytelling with visual components. So I think that's really neat. And then I'll cheat and give a second one as well.

So I'm really excited to see, this is oddly specific, but both the cost and complexity of personalization coming down. So over the past year, I've seen a huge shift in the tools available and the talent it takes to do more personalization on your site, in your emails, in your ads, in your offers, that sort of thing.

You have platforms like RightMessage coming out that in my view, have blown the doors wide open for companies to start doing this. It's so exciting for me because as someone who believes in that customer-driven copy, the more specific the conversation with the person, the better the results. So I'm really excited to see how the technology and the appetite for personalization continue to evolve and how the costs come down and it gets more accessible.

Doug: Yeah, that's a great point, 'cause I see the same thing. The costs are coming down and the tools are getting better, and they're getting smarter. We just need to have the desire to not live in the past and to embrace the way that the marketplace has changed, and move forward. So where can people find you, Joel? Where's the best place that people want to connect with you? What's your favorite social platform to connect in? What websites should they hunt down to track you down?

Joel Klettke: Yeah. So if you want to chat with me, Twitter is honestly the best place to do it. @JoelKlettke, K-L-E-T-T-K-E. And I will respond. Whether it's a message or a tweet, I will get back to you. If you're curious about some of the services I talked about and not necessarily just to hire, but I try to publish a lot of useful information for doing it yourself. We have a free guide for a case study for example, that outlines the process we spent years refining. Check out I'll make sure that I give you a link to the guide for the show notes.

And on the conversion side, I've got a blog there, it's a little bit neglected at the moment. Been so busy doing work for clients, but there's a lot that you can sink your teeth into and to help you just start, just get going, start making some of this a part of your process and the way that you do things. So that's where you can reach me.

Doug: And if you take a look at Joel's twitter feed, you'll see the command center that he's got set up in his living room with the cute little person wearing a plaid hat.

Joel Klettke: That's my son [Linus]. So yeah, pretty soon here the way the tools are getting simpler, he'll be doing personalization for clients. But I absolutely love to talk to people about this stuff. It's been so fantastic having an opportunity to share here and talk about these trends and things going on.

Doug: Yeah, it's great to see the tools, and just to bring them to light. That's the goal really is to expose our listeners to a wider opportunity of sales and marketing tools to help them to do their job better, and to serve their customers better. So who's one guest that you think I should have on my podcast?

Joel Klettke: There are so many brilliant women in the conversion space that I feel I would be doing a disservice not to mention at least one of them that stands out to me. Her name is Val Geisler. I think it's Geisler, maybe Giesler. She is brilliant, brilliant when it comes to emails and onboarding series. She does some fantastic teardowns of companies and their series, and I've learned so much just by reading her critique the way people do things, that it's impacted how I work. I've also had the privilege to work with her on projects and to see her process, and see the way she breaks things down. So if you've never talked to Val, she's somebody well worth exploring the concept of email marketing with.

Doug: Well excellent. So I just want to say thanks so much. Really appreciate your time. Great to connect with you. Looking forward to carrying on the conversation and diving deeper. I've had a chance to look through your website and your social, but to get a deeper look and to see what the opportunities may be in the future for working together or working with our clients.

Joel Klettke: Yeah, thank you so much for having me and giving me this opportunity to share. I'm excited to share this episode and to push this as well. And as I said, anything on conversion or case studies or customer driven copy, I am excited, thrilled to talk about. So thank you so much for having me.

Doug: So there you go listeners. This is another episode of Real Marketing Real Fast. I hope that you found some great value here. As usual, we'll make sure that the show notes are transcribed so you have all the links that we talked about with Joel today in this episode, and we'll get this pushed out to social media. So thanks for tuning in, thanks for listening, and I look forward to serving you on our next upcoming episode.

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Joel Klettke on writing copy that converts into sales

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