How to Operationalize Your Marketing - Sara Nay, Duct Tape Marketing

marketing operations tools / process systems podcast strategy and planning Dec 15, 2022

In this GYDA Talks, Robert talks to Sara Nay. Sara is the COO at Duct Tape Marketing, Founder of Spark Lab Consulting, and host of the Agency Spark Podcast. With 12+ years working in the small business space, it is her passion to install marketing and operating systems for small business owners so they can get more clarity and freedom in their lives. Outside of work, Sara tries to spend as much time as possible outdoors with her daughters and husband - from skiing and hiking, to biking and camping.

We see too many agencies focusing simply on tactics and therefore, not being as effective as possible for their clients. It all comes down to focusing on your customer journey - which will ultimately provide you more clarity and control of your marketing.

Sara will take you through:

  • What's wrong with marketing today, how to focus on the customer journey, building your marketing systems
  • The marketing hourglass (know, like, trust, nurture, refer, repeat)
  • Lack of CTAs or a plan
  • Help the customer understand their journey, where they can get with you.
  • Paint the opportunity
  • Combine digital assets with a human touch

Have a listen to their discussion.

Find out more about Spark Lab Consulting or Duct Tape Marketing? Click here:




Robert Craven  00:07

Hello, welcome to GYDA Talks. Today I am doubly delighted to have with me Sara Nay. Sara is associated with Duct Tape Marketing, she also is associated with a consultancy, she can tell us more about that ourselves. But this is going to be a fantastic conversation because we're talking about two words I adore operationalizing and marketing. How to operationalize your marketing. So without further ado, Sara, hello, tell us all about yourself.


Sara Nay  00:38

Thank you for having me, I'm really excited to be here to chat with you today, I think we're gonna have some great conversation. So Sara it's my name. I worked at Duct Tape Marketing, I've been with Duct Tape Marketing for about 12 years now coming up this December. And so always been really passionate about the marketing side of things, but over the years have grown into our position of the CEO and so, have also fallen in love with the operations side of our business. And so as you mentioned, I work at Duct Tape Marketing. And then we also have a second business that John, who is the founder of Duct Tape Marketing, and I co founded. And that second business is called Spark Lab Consulting. And that business is set up to help people grow in terms of their operations side of their business. And so we're able to help businesses with everything from generating new leads to converting new leads to actually serving leads through Spark Lab Consulting as well.


Robert Craven  01:33

Awesome. So we have an audience here of digital agency leaders, and they, they bang on about a couple of things, you know, one of them, one of them is all about, you know, why can't we get more business? What do we need to do to get more business? What are we doing? What are we doing wrong? Is it our website? Why can't we get more customers? What's the matter? And then the other thing they go on about is, and when we've got the customers, Oh, my people, my processes, my systems are so deep. It's like fishing, and you pull them in, and then it's like herding cats. So, I think we're gonna deal with both sides of that, really, in this conversation. So where would you like, where would you like to start?


Sara Nay  02:25

I think it all comes down to the very beginning that addresses both of those things. You know, when someone's starting to get established in the first place, as an agency or consultant, it's you have to understand who you're serving, you have to understand your ideal client market first, above anything else? Because that will help dictate what your marketing packages look like? Because who your ideal client is in their industry and their needs, will dictate how you're actually going to serve them effectively. And so I think that answering that question, well, will help you with the rest of the pieces that fall into place.


Robert Craven  02:59

Okay, so how do they do that? Because as you see, they always I mean, in my kind of stereotype, they, there's this tendency to go, Oh, what are all the other agencies doing? Oh, we better do something like that. And let's be safe. We'll also put together a website with people climbing trees, talking about our team with photos of beanbags and telling everyone, we've got a we've got a dog, as if, as if anybody really cares whether you've got a dog, but we'll hold that one back. So how do you think that those agencies should be understanding the market and designing their proposition? Because of that, then comes the operation side? In order to make that happen? I mean, are you going to be a fan of niching? Or are you a fan of just finding out what the searching for a niche or searching for a need? Or how do you see that piece happening? And coming together?


Sara Nay  04:00

Yeah, I think there's a lot of different perspectives on should you niche or not? And I think there's no absolute right way. I think it really comes down to you as a business, and what are your goals? And what is your background experience? And what are your strengths? What team do you have in place to offer certain deliverables? And so I know there's some people that are, Yes, absolutely niche down to a very specific industry. And there's other people that serve everyone. So again, I don't think there's wrong or right, it comes down to what you're trying to accomplish as a company, ultimately. And then from there. I think you can consider things like I mentioned, like, as a company, do you have background experience in a specific niche that it makes sense you have relationships you have, can you talk the language is it easy for you to network in that space, because you have the background experience? Like that's a good Getting Started point for some people, I think, do have interest in certain industries is another way you can go and then in the beginning, it's about doing as much research to understand the industry deeply I think is a good starting point. If you're an already existing agency, and you're serving a number of people in different industries, I think actually sitting down and having conversations with your best clients is what we recommend, and understanding as much as you can about them, but also about their experience of working with you. And so client interviews are a huge piece of strategy that we do for all of our businesses that we work with. And it's honestly it's like, it's again, asking questions about like, how did you find us in the first place? Why did you decide to go with us? How were we different from competitors, like, the initial, like awareness type of questions, but then asking them about them as people and humans and their behaviours and their purchasing decisions? And that will ultimately help you clearly understand them on a deeper level?


Robert Craven  05:44

Do you think this client interview should be done by yourself? Or do you think you should get an external person to do that? Because of all the obvious reasons really.


Sara Nay  05:55

Yeah, we often recommend external person to come in and do that. Because then that way, you're not bringing a a, your thoughts, your influences to the conversation, you're you don't have any biases, I guess, that we're you're trying to guide people is one key benefit, but also people we found our will be willing to be more honest, if they don't feel like maybe they're hurting your feelings on things. And so we often use those interviews also to understand things like, What can this business be doing better? And if it's me asking one of my clients, did it go your grade, like, you know, they just don't like, and oftentimes, they don't wanna hurt my feelings. But if they're, you know, telling an outside consultant, and they're just being true and honest, like, I think people are willing to do that more.


Robert Craven  06:36

I think that's spot on, we literally at the moment, we've just done a survey and, and interviews with people on something which we assumed in the business was really poor, which was our discussion, which was art, our communication. So we've been really worried that our communication to our clients is confusing. And that they must therefore feel quite frustrated with communicating with us because of emails, and it's slack and different programmes and stuff. And now, nine times out of 10 we're happy, and it's like, Okay, but that then brings another question, which is, is that nine of a 10? That they're giving us? Is that, because you just like everyone else your average? Or is it because you're excellent. So my point really is, is it only in an interview, which you could actually dig out, when someone gives you a nine out of 10? Is that nine out of 10? Nine out of 10? Because you are world class? Or is it nine out of 10? Because our expectations are incredibly low? Because on average, people are pretty mediocre. So I totally need an interview.


Sara Nay  07:46

Yeah, and you made a couple of great points. When you're serving a group like you are your whole audience, obviously, you can get more responses. But I think the powerful thing about the interviews is you're able to say tell me more. So yeah, so like, as I say, Okay, you're a nine out of 10 on communication. Can you give me an example of one time that you felt like we communicated? Well, would it be like a follow up question that you could ask in an interview? Or what is your performance for the channel of communication? Like, why do you like Slack the best? How do we do that? Well, so the interview is you're able to just expand on versus just reading a list of questions, which is what a survey does. So I'm not saying surveys aren't worth it, I think they're great tools. But the combination of sending out a survey and interviewing your best clients, your most important clients is better.


Robert Craven  08:35

That kind of joins up with it's a bit of a butterfly thought, but it's still relevant. It kind of joins up with, you know, digital agencies think that everything can be done digitally and whacked into a spreadsheet. And, and yet, we're dealing with people, you know, so. So, as we were saying, just before the top of the show, it's like they kind of think that they can spend their whole life behind a screen and not actually have to talk to someone or go to a meeting. And if they can just polish up their website for another five or six days, then perfect, as opposed to actually just getting out there and getting feedback. So my point really is about it is actually a people business. And yet the people who run digital agencies tend to have pointy heads, they tend to be quite sort of techie nerdy, sort of systems processes larry logic, they're not don't tend to be touchy feely, soft, caring, gentle people, you know, I'm not wearing size 12 Wellington boots now, but you get you understand what I'm saying? And yet, yeah, clients are people. So when we look at the marketing and when we look at the operations, I guess my question is, how do we make sure that we treat people like people not as, not as numbers?


Sara Nay  10:01

Yeah, it's really, it's an important point. And what we were talking about earlier in the show, like I've worked with a lot of consultants, agency owners over the years where they just want to hide behind their screen and get all their funnels and automation set up and do paid advertising. And then hopefully someone pays for their services at some point. But you really have to have a lot more of a human connection in my mind than just automations. Like that, in order to be successful to continue to grow. And so one of our core concepts is the marketing hourglass. And so that's nurturing people all the way from know, to like, to trust, to try, to buy repeat refer. And so we map that out for all of the businesses that we work with in our strategy as part of our strategic direction. And it's really important, because when you start working with businesses, often, like they're doing a lot for like the no phase of marketing, because that's what they think of marketing. And then they like to hope people buy. And then they have some stuff in line for like, repeat, and then they hope people refer. And so a lot of what I see when people haven't put a lot of thought behind their whole marketing strategy is they're missing a lot of the relationships, the trust, building the education, the nurturing pieces that can be done in an automated way, like an email nurture campaign, but often also should include a human touch as well. And so for example, a lot of marketing consultants, coaches, they should be out there speaking, they shouldn't be in front of audiences, whether it's a webinar, or it's in person, you know, establishing credibility, building trust, and getting their name out there. And so I see people doing that, but then they don't have any thought process behind, like, what happens after they speak. It's like, hopefully, you resonate with the audience. And some people call me like, You got to have more thought behind that. So what's your call to action? At the end of a webinar? For example, let's stick with webinars. And then once you have a call to action, what are you going to do to nurture that relationship? So what are you going to do to Like and Trust, so are you going to send them to a landing page that puts them in an email campaign that offers a discovery call that you're going to do one on one, and you're going to provide so much value at that, that you hopefully then go to a pitch call, then between the discovery and pitch call, you're going to send them more valuable information in the pitch call, you're going to blow away, and then they're ready to be a client. But it's important to map out that's where I think of operationalizing marketing, you put systems behind your marketing that are a mix of automations and people guiding the customer, where you where they're trying to go ultimately.


Robert Craven  12:39

This is hysterical, because this is not the British way. I mean. Yeah, I think what people do, both sides of the, of the, of the big big pond, is they do tend to put the banner out, go out of the presentation, my work is done. And that's how, let's hope we get some leads. And clearly, not everyone is totally in love with you. But they might be interested in you. And I think, you know, certainly on this side of the sea people don't like they don't like overt selling. You know, you kind of have to reposition it to say you're not selling, you're helping people to buy and they go, Okay, I can do that. Fine. That's all you're doing. You're just saying, yeah. prospect, you've got a problem, rescue hurt, need a scratch, and I won. And I've got something here that can sort out and let me show you how. And then they go, Oh, yeah, that's to tell them all about the features and you can earn and it's not about. So I think it's I think there's I think that's kind of universal, that you have technicians who are kind of more interested in the techie bits. And I guess my question is, How do you? How do you get people to realise that people aren't buying what you do, but they're buying what you do for them? When I'm not buying the hammer, I'm buying the nail into the I'm not buying a drill but on drying up by holding the wood whatever it is. But how do you, I mean, how do you get people to understand that that's, you know, No one wakes up in the morning and says I want a PPC campaign, but they do wake up in the morning, say I need more clients.


Sara Nay  14:32

Yeah, I think it is just for me, it comes with time and experience and learning. So I run our sales and I have for 12 years. If you would have told me 12 years ago I was gonna really run ourselves out of them like absolutely I'm not a salesperson. I don't I don't want to be pushy. I don't want to like you know, I don't want to have to sell. So I had those similar feelings. Understanding a person, understanding their pain points today, and understanding where they're trying to go ultimately. So it's a big problem solving opportunity. So here's where you're at today. These are your challenges. These are what you should do moving forward from a marketing perspective. And this is what life could look like if you follow this path. And John, our founder, actually wrote a whole new book, The Ultimate marketing engine that came out last October. And the whole foundation of that book is the customer success track, like, help your clients understand like they're here today. But if you do these things, this is where you ultimately could be in the future. And that's how you can be effective not only in your engagements that you're shaping for clients, but as part of the sales process as well. And so to give you an example, you know, we have a consultant network, a lot of people join our network, when they're just establishing a business as a consultant or agency owner in the marketing space. And so I understand they're, they don't have leads, they don't have their website, they don't know, they don't have their packages mapped out, they don't know what they're selling, they don't know who they're selling it to, like, I know all of these problems, because I've worked with enough people over the years, and I'm able to say, Okay, you're here, if you do these things, you will be here. And so I'm able to paint a clearer picture of the opportunity of the path they could go on. And so I think understanding those things are going to help you sell a lot more effectively and be more comfortable selling as well.


Robert Craven  16:26

So can that whole piece be done? Does that whole piece have to be done in person? Can that whole piece be done digitally? I mean, can you just have a campaign of white papers, PDFs, explainer videos? And so on and so forth? Is that good enough? Do you want to explain to people the journey?


Sara Nay  16:53

I think it's a combination of, as you said, assets, and you can create, so videos, PDFs, emails, in a thoughtful, educational valuable way, but also, in most cases, depending on what you're selling, should have a at least zoom conversation virtually with the person to help explain and have conversations and answer their questions and provide value and establish yourself as an authority and someone they'd want to work with. And so it's I think, I'm a strong believer, it needs to be a combination of the two, ultimately. And for us, it's often you know, all the funnel, your typical funnel of like video and content, and then a discovery call, and then often a second call just to expand on things even further. But you can't, like people don't know if they want to work with me as their consultants until they actually have a conversation with me in most cases, and understand that I'm human and my personality and that we'd be good working together.


Robert Craven  17:52

So your, I guess your position, your positioning statement. Reading between the lines, I'm not reading between the lines, is the best agency for most people in professional service firms, I guess. But most agency folk get preoccupied with the nitty gritty of the tactics rather than the big picture. Is that what you're saying?


Sara Nay  18:18

I have found that over the years, yes, people just want to dive into certain tactics, whether that be for their own agency or for their clients, ultimately, and we are a very firm believer in strategy before tactics. And so if someone comes to me for a website build, I will say, Absolutely, we can do that after we do strategy. Same thing, if someone comes to me for paid, and they're like, I'm doing paid, and it's not converting, and people are coming to my website. And I'm like, Well, where are you guiding them? What's your call to action? What value add how you know, okay, we need to do strategy. And so I see that with a lot of agencies, not only in their own businesses, they get so big because they get so busy working with their clients. So even if they're doing strategy, they're doing it for their clients, oftentimes, and not taking the time to focus on their business. But I've also worked with a lot of different small businesses over the years that worked with other agencies out there other marketing agencies out there that haven't done strategy or haven't done strategy well, and so they've spent all this money on marketing, and they're very frustrated. Honestly, I'd probably say like, 90% of my sales calls these days with small businesses, like they haven't been happy working with other marketing organisations out there. And oftentimes I discover it's because they didn't take the time to understand their ideal client, their core message, their customer journey, their content execution calendar, they just dive into shiny objects.


Robert Craven  19:49

But that's, I mean, you've just you've just nailed it in every sense, because that's, I mean, that is the dilemma. You know, why your PPC agency because So that's what I was doing for five years. And it was five people, then it's 10 people. And now we're 20. And I'm now the CEO. And we sell PPC. Okay, fine. Okay, I get that. So. So it's like that thing about if, if your solutions are hammer, every problem is a nail. And it drives me bonkers, you know, absolutely bonkers. That it doesn't matter what the client comes up with, they'll say the answer is a PPC campaign, you know, and the answer isn't always a PPC campaign. And you'll you'll do, you're doing a disservice to the clients. So that's the first thing that this this, I do what I do mentality. I think the second thing is, and there's been a real push from the large platforms, who will be nameless, that that agencies should do consult, business consulting, not marketing, consulting, and I agree 100% with that, where's the best place to be is to be in the boardroom of your client, with your CEO, the board, the client doesn't say to you, can you do $1,000 of PPC a month for us? That's just being a supplier. The next level up on that is the client says to you, we've got $1,000 a month to spend on on PPC. How do you think we should spend it on which products and which services should we be selling? That's better, that's almost being an advisor. And then there's a level above that, where the client comes to you and says, You're the agency, you understand how to reach customers and clients, bearing in mind the products and services that we're trying to sell? How do you think we should go about it, that's the if you're in the boardroom there, then one, you're not charging any kind of hourly rate and you're on a consultancy rate, and you're, and you're talking to the right people, and then your agency is delivering, delivering the tactical solution. But you've got an abstract decision. And my point is simply that most agency people find it hard enough to do a digital strategy, and may not have the experience or the skill set to do the marketing or the business strategy for a client.


Sara Nay  22:06

Yeah, it's such an important piece of the puzzle. And so I would say if you are an agency out there today, and don't have the skill set, like there's a lot of great training out there, to adapt and evolve to offer that. Because there are so many benefits for a client to do strategy for when to do it with your clients in terms of like, they're going to stop wasting money on marketing, learn to stop chasing tactics, there's, like, so many things, so many benefits, but then also for you as a consultant or agency, it establishes you as an expert, in the very beginning. So you're the advisor, you're coming up with the plan, you're leading the engagement, you're not just a doer. And so strategy, I think benefits both you as an agency, but also the clients that you're serving as well, in so many ways that if you're not doing it, I think you're doing a disservice at this point to you and your clients. And I'm a very strong believer in that. So I think it's a really important piece to absolutely be focusing on.


Robert Craven  23:05

I think that for me it is that I just see it all the time. I mean, I spent years running strategy workshops, and nine out of 10 people what they thought was strategy is actually is actually not even a plan. It's like, Okay, just give me a definition of what strategy is what business strategy is, and they kind of go to plan. Goals are like... And, you know, your mind keeps on going back to you know, the basics of strategy one on one day one hour one in terms of understanding what it is.


Sara Nay  23:49

Yeah, I often see my clients, at least that say they've done strategy before working with us and like, great, show us what you have. It's like a list of tactics. It's like, we're gonna be on Facebook, and we're gonna send these emails and we're gonna use just like literally a list of tactics. I'm like, how did you get to these tactics? Like what is direct? Like, why should you be on Facebook? Are your clients on Facebook lazy, you have to like to take a step back. That's what I see a lot of times 


Robert Craven  24:13

Who are your real competitors, who are your customers?


Sara Nay  24:16

What's your message like? Your message is so important.


Robert Craven  24:19

Okay, so we started with starting to grumble, I could feel the grumble so, so how can you just explain you've got the strategy piece, the big picture piece in and I think, hopefully everyone who's who's listening and watching understands what strategy is, how do how do you connect that to, to customer journey because in as I see it in your mind, you've got the strategy, you got to actually it's got to be presented in terms of from the customer's point of view or we design our process and the customers fit into it, I'd be fascinated to see where you see the customer journey fitting into the design of your, of your service.


Sara Nay  25:14

Yeah. So, strategy for us is we talked about marketing in a systematic way, like we've always talked about it. And so we have a very systematic way to uncover a marketing strategy for a client. And so pretty much every client goes through the same process for strategy, because it's a proven process that we know works from there is when we can get more custom and exciting in terms of their marketing, because strategy dictates what we will actually do from an implementation standpoint. And so in strategy, we are doing ideal client core messages, competitive research, mapping out their customer journey, we're building a whole execution calendar based on their biggest opportunities. Like that's in a nutshell, what we do. And the execution calendar then dictates what we do for the next 90 days from a marketing perspective, based on where they're at. And so strategy is a set process, it gets custom after that based on where you're at as a business. But then there's the kind of phases that businesses go through. And so let's say we do strategy. And they have, their website needs to be redone. They're not doing anything from SEO or social or email, like, it's, we got to lay the foundation first. And then from there, we can help them scale and organise and grow. And so marketing again, kind of, I think it gets more excited as you go. It's like you got to strategy, you got to lay the foundation, you have to have a really nice looking website and assets and branding, consistency and helpful content, it's like, that's step two. And then from there, it's okay, how can we be more creative? How can we do some different things? How can we incorporate different projects, once the foundation is laid, because for us, you know, you don't want to do paid advertising, for example, if your website's terrible, or not set up to convert or not telling your story or not having a clear call to action. And so if someone's coming to me for pay, but their websites and mes will say no, we're not gonna help you with that, because we can't at this point, like we can in the future, very near future once we fix some other things. And so it's understanding again, I think some of those keys, those key phases in marketing, will help guide the customer journey, because it's always, where are you today? Where are we trying to take you? What do we need to do to get there?


Robert Craven  27:36

But it's down to still down to, and I'm agreeing with you coming to thinking as you talk, it's still down to? Does the agency owner? Or the consultant or almost any professional service firm? Do they understand what thinking strategically really is? And the answer is, in most cases, no. One. And secondly, do they have? Do they have management consulting skills, so like yourselves, we take on people who think, Oh, I'll become a management consultant, I can go in and tell people what to do. And it's like, can you just stop, just stop where you are, I've got a story. I'll tell them what I've done. And they can replicate what I did in my business in my world. And if they do that, and it's a rinse and repeat, everything's fine. And it's like, you, yo don't understand any kind of sense of nuancing, between coaching, consulting, mentoring one to one word, he said, understand the nuance about between what the client needs, and what you want us to deliver, and so on, and so forth. So it is a real challenge. And you can see why agency leaders go wow, that's, that's an awful lot. Maybe we'll just stick to the business plan we did last year, which was to do what we did the year before, but add 20% Because that kind of works, because what you're being asked to do, which is to be a grown up and do consulting. And doing strategy work is like hard work.


Sara Nay  29:23

It is hard work. I mean, I understand I completely understand that. But I just think it's where we can provide the most value to our clients by taking the time to understand it fully. And maybe you don't come out the gate running tomorrow with like this whole comprehensive $10,000 strategy package. Maybe you start with you know, okay, we're gonna start doing more research in terms of ideal client and messaging before we'll do execution. And so I think you can start smaller and approach it and get more comfortable and learn what it's like and continue to increase from there. I think that's a great way to do it. When consultants join our network, for example, they follow our strategic process step by step for their clients, that's one of our core benefits. But they often start charging a lot less and doing it in exchange of things like a case study, or a testimonial or review in the beginning, and then they charge more every time until they're at the point where they want to be for strategy. And so I don't think it has to be this, if you're not doing it today, it doesn't need to be okay, you're all in tomorrow, start small, start incorporating it more, get more comfortable practice, something like working on messaging for clients like that comes with practice, and then continue to put an emphasis on it and grow in that space moving forward.


Robert Craven  30:44

So, I mean, I 100% agree with that. I'm just so what we're talking about, what you're talking about is, I know, we've jumped between marketing and operations, but there is a wrapper around apologising to the audience, if they feel it's been a bit all over the place. I didn't think it was at all. By putting systems and processes into your marketing, by putting systems and processes into your operations. Everything becomes more predictable. You can't do that until you've got the bigger picture. So step one is you understand the outside world and you understand where you want to be and what you want to be and how you want to deliver it and how that's different from other people and how you're going to present it and how you can deliver it. Which is actually, once that piece is sorted out, you can then systematise and process pretty much everything. So it becomes like a rinse, rinse and repeat. So it's a you learn what works, you do more of that you learn what doesn't work, you do less of that. And are you saying that's the case for marks for the marketing side on the operation side?


Sara Nay  31:59

Yeah, I think it's, it's, it's exactly relevant for that. So let me give you an example. Because I provide a little bit more clarity. So our package, our strategy package, we call strategy first. And so we have mapped out visually in a chart, literally what happens from the second someone signs an agreement and completes the payment all the way through when we deliver the final presentation. And so it's literally like sending them an intake form, schedule, the first meeting, get client interviews, booked, research the competitors following these steps and using these tools. So it's literally the step by step process for the entire engagement. And we have that mapped out. And the reason behind that is now we can deliver the same experience to everyone. One of the main benefits, we're not making any mistakes, we're not missing any steps, we're able to train new team members more effectively, because it's literally all mapped out. It's like following this checklist in this process. And so that's one main benefit. But it also allows us to hold people accountable for things on our team, and see how successful we are on each of the stages as well. And so we're firm believers, and that's the whole thing with operationalizing, your marketing and your operations, it's for each of your core services that you're offering your core packages that you're offering, they should be mapped out on that level, I think from an operation standpoint, but every then core service that you're offering should also have a marketing system that's mapped out because you have to market what you're selling. And so that's how all of our systems and processes are mapped out. It's like, okay, we're gonna do this webinar. It ends when someone becomes a client, like that's the end of that marketing system. And then an operations system starts because now they're a strategy first client. And then the strategy first operations ends when we deliver the final presentation. And then we have systems in place for another retainer client, this is the path they need to follow. And this is who's going to be involved. And then usually the team members we're bringing in and these are the systems and processes they're, they're following, essentially.


Robert Craven  34:10

Okay, so I love that. So bearing in mind, we all have the power of googling to do anything. Whether it be putting up prices, putting together a marketing campaign pricing, a product, onboarding, a Client Onboarding a consultant. Why do you think that so many people aren't able to do the execution bit? They talk a good talk about processes and systems? But then I'm just trying to understand what's the reason that they're not able to actually implement the systems and processes within their business within their agency?


Sara Nay  34:52

Yeah, I think it feels like busy work, mindless work. In some cases to get started. It's hard to get started. And I also will share, you know, I would say about seven years ago, before we kind of shifted our thinking, we pretty much documented everything. We're just like, Oh, you're requesting time off. Here's the process, oh, you're doing like we thought we were quite like we documented everything. And that way of doing it felt very busy, it didn't feel like there was a purpose, it felt like extra work we were making our team do. Now we've taken a step back in the last few years, and we've mapped out these key marketing and operations systems. And when you do that, it's not a you're mapping out a process for every single stage in your system, you're identifying what are the most important stages that we cannot make mistakes on, whether it be marketing or operations that a human is doing. And we're mapping out just those processes and systems. And so then when we're coming to our team, and we're saying, like, strategy, first is our core offering, we can't make mistakes in these steps, we all need to be consistent in these steps. So we can deliver an excellent client experience, we found that our team is way more bought in and understanding of why they're actually documenting and following something versus just being like, document everything you do. So you never make a mistake. So it's not that you have to have a system for everything you do. You have to have a system and process for the most important things that you're doing.


Robert Craven  36:18

I'm not in my head furiously, because this is what I spent the last two weeks kind of stuck in my head saying, how is this going to work? But what happens if they do that? What happens if they don't want to if they say so? It's, it is punishing, you know what I mean, to, to, to actually do it to actually, but I think it's absolutely the right thing to do. And that way you give, you know, the same systems and processes are in place in McDonald's, as are in a three star Michelin restaurant, you know, the fine tuning of how long it's cooked and when it's cooked and with the price points different. But the, you know, the detail of how stuff is put together is the issue about making sure we can do it again and again. And everyone gets the same standard, whether it be McDonald's, or Gordon Ramsay.


Sara Nay  37:19

Yeah. And I think it's been easier to learn, you know, next time you're doing a task that's repetitive, it's important that you need to document a process, just do the process then. So it doesn't need to be like you're sitting down and you're just mapping all these four sprites, like next time I onboard a new consultant, for example, I record a video of me doing it. And then I put a checklist below of the steps. And so that's what I always include in that process. It's like, video, someone can watch that once when they do this for the first time. And then moving forward, they just use the checklist and steps because they visually already saw what I did. And so it doesn't need to be this massive project that you have to sit down and do in a week. And everyone's documenting all the processes. It's like, we know, this is a process that needs to be documented next time you're doing it, do a video, write out the steps, and then you're done.


Robert Craven  38:09

Do you use a piece of software like process street or something like that? Or do you just drop it into a spreadsheet?


Sara Nay  38:15

We've done a number of different tools over the years. Right now we're mainly putting in and we'll link to it like Google Drive. But is our project management tool. I've tried tools like Notion and Process Street and it's just like another tool for our team to learn. But we're already integrated with Monday we're already using Google Drive every day. So it's like I've found that like less, more out of the tools you're already using and less tools is often better for buying.


Robert Craven  38:46

Yeah, absolutely spot on. We're running out of time. I have two questions to ask you. I always ask people these questions. The one is: What's next for Sara, what's on your list of things you're about to be doing? And the second question: Which you can come to in a moment is? What are the things you hear yourself saying to people all the time? What are the things that you've been saying for the last however many years and for some reason, people still don't get but you still have to face what are the little golden nuggets that people should be recognising you know what, Sara?


Sara Nay  39:23

Of course so for what's next for me a couple of things just getting more and more involved in Duct Tape Marketing is a key piece and what we're doing from a marketing and system and training standpoint I absolutely love that work. So that's always going to be something that I'm passionate and growing and evolving in and but also Spark Lab is that I mentioned earlier our second businesses a new business and so I'm really going to go all in to growing the operations side of our offering because I love marketing but my mind is definitely systems processes, organising things, helping people simplify like that's that's where my mind goes. So I'm definitely passionate about that work as well. And so you'll see a lot of emphasis on Spark Lab over the next few years. So that's what's next for me. And then, in terms of what I say all the time, like we've talked about it a lot in this interview, everything you do from a marketing standpoint should be based on the customer journey. I feel like I can't say that enough. And it needs to be said often, for people to really understand and grasp it. So that's what I'll leave you with today.


Robert Craven  40:26

Well, you're leaving with us. You're leaving us with a lot more than that. Actually. Sorry. Because I think there's a hole there's a whole piece around, do we really understand what business strategy is, and I believe that most people don't. And there's another whole piece around what it takes to be able to consult nevermind, about digital marketing, but just to be a consultant, that consultancy skill set. And the final piece for me that I'm taking away either about is it's just simply about the customer journey about that, that simplifying the steps a customer goes through to make sure that they get a consistent service to make sure we're adding tremendous value and so on and so forth. Thank you very, very much indeed. It's been an absolute pleasure to talk with you. And I kind of feel like there should be a part two and part three.


Sara Nay  41:25

I'm here for it. 


Robert Craven  41:26

Well, if you're here for it, then let's do it. But for today, thank you very much for being a really great guest. Thank you very much for sharing very honestly your views and your opinions about how people can run better businesses, better agencies. So I just say thank you very much, sir, for being great. Pleasure to work with you. Thank you.


Sara Nay  41:48

Thank you for being a wonderful host. It's fun chatting with you.