Episode 16: Marketing and Meaningful Connections
What you’ll learn about in this episode
As the Pandemic landscape evolves and trade shows, travel and in person visits shifted to digital , gaps in our sales and marketing processes emerged. How do we adapt and find new and better ways to fill our pipelines and keep our connections? In this episode we’ll dive into the definition of “networking” and meaningful connections when it comes to the business sales and marketing of the future. We’ll talk about sales and marketing for the debt collection space, and ideas for adapting our sales and marketing to fit today’s challenges.
Trade shows what’s working and what isn’t
Planning and hosting your own events
Ideas for reigniting dormant ties.
Utilizing the customer journey and Client Segmentation for a better experience in your messaging and landing pages
Strategic search retargeting for building pipeline and mitigating lawsuits
In this episode we’re going to answer these questions and many more with our Guest Lacey Kuhlmann a passionate industry advocate and ally and experienced sales and marketing professional.
Guest: Lacey Kuhlmann
The first 10 years of Lacey’s career was emphasized on the perfect blend of integrated web-based software applications and payment processing technology in the ARM industry. Now at Genesys, she is able to take a consultative/holistic approach to working with Creditors and Collection Agencies, specifically as it relates to their accounts management system and operations. Latitude by Genesys is a fully mature, stand-alone solution for collections, recovery, and outsourcing of delinquent debt to 3rd party agencies. Best yet; it fully integrates with our Omni-Channel Contact Center Solution; scalable for all sizes of clients.
With extensive success in customer acquisition, product launches, market strategy, partner and re-seller relations, and business development, I have been blessed to work with great teams along the way who have helped me achieve all of my goals. My appetite to help organizations is fueled by a passion for the people in this industry; who deal with heavy regulations, but lack applicable solutions.
LinkedIn Personal: https://www.linkedin.com/in/laceykuhlmann/
LinkedIn Company: https://www.linkedin.com/company/genesys/
Lex Patterson: 0:11
kindred force media Hi, everybody. I’m Lex Patterson and you’re listening to fair debt. My podcast about things overlooked and misunderstood in the debt collection space. In this episode, we’re going to take a look at marketing and networking in the new normal, will answer questions about trade shows, adding value to our networks and explore ideas on using client segmentation and website retargeting to combat lawsuits with Lacey Kuhlman, a passionate and experienced industry ally, and sales and marketing veteran. Here we go. Hi, Lacey. Thank you for joining today.
Lacey Kuhlmann: 1:04
Hi How are you Lex?
Lex Patterson: 1:05
I’m doing great. So tell us tell the audience where does this podcast find you?
Lacey Kuhlmann: 1:10
Oh, goodness. Well, I’m home, just north of Spokane, in in a town called Clayton on our 230 acres, but deems that it’s the middle of January. There’s nothing else to do. So I just hide in my right. I had somebody tell me many, many years ago, we work hard to the winter so we can enjoy our springs in this country. Yeah, yeah, me too. I hate this. But you know, like you say, work hard and then enjoy the spring in the summer.
Lex Patterson: 1:46
well, you know, I wanted to start this podcast off by, you know, you and I connected. We’ve been talking about doing this stuff and whatever. And I put a post out on LinkedIn talking about what drew you to the industry. And you were gracious enough to respond to that. But I wanted to ask, you said it has it has I think you kind of refer to it as a way of grabbing you or it was unescapable or something. And I was just I wanted to know, tell us more a little bit about the journey. And then what you meant by that? Yeah.
Lacey Kuhlmann: 2:18
Well, so I started in the industry about 15 years ago, and it was probably a fluke. I mean, right place, right time type of a situation when I lived in Wenatchee. And there was a small, I call it a startup that I think there were five or six years old at that time, a software company there called Client Access lab applied innovation. And I found myself with an opportunity to go to work for them. I thought, this is exciting. I don’t know, what climaxes live is, I don’t know collections other than my we growing up, we were turned into collections a lot. You know, and I interviewed and, and we just kind of hit the ground running. It is such a kind of a niche industry, we have our own set of terminology, we have a very tight knit network, we have, you know, a very finite number of solutions available to us within this industry type of a thing. So once you’re in, you’re just in and I know many, many people who have tried to exceed that. And they only last a couple of years before they’re back in here.
Lex Patterson: 3:32
Yeah, well, it is. It is it is all that for sure. tight knit very niche, and does have a way of grabbing into it. I think a lot has to do with the people. You know, it’s just they’re just something about the people, which is a big reason why, you know, I wanted to do the podcast and get some of these stories out there because it is about people. And they’re real people. And they’re people that are trying to solve problems and help other people you know, and that, that a lot of times doesn’t get out in in the media the way it portrays our industry and whatever. So yeah, yeah. So you’ve been doing this quite a while and and I appreciate you joining me today. I just wanted to kind of dive into the area that I know that you’ve been involved with a lot in terms of the sales and marketing side of things. You’re a veteran in the industry, you’ve seen it from probably a couple different angles. Because you you you’ve made some jumps, right. So you started with applied innovation Client Access web, and then tell us about what’s going on. Tell us a little more about that journey.
Lacey Kuhlmann: 4:33
Yeah, so I started there as VP of market development. And I mean, I, I was young, I don’t even know if I knew what exactly that meant. But basically it was, you know, customer success, sales margin. We, I was able to participate in a lot of the development conversations and the new products that we developed. I stepped into the role of building partnerships then and not building the integrations themselves, I’m not that smart, facilitating new integrations to be built in, and so on and so forth. So I’m kind of, you know, a big hat is so to speak. And so I took a short detour working for Columbia ultimate. What wasn’t quite my cup of tea, I like to call myself like, I just I felt more like a John Wayne being from a small town, I like to shoot from the hip, I like doing what needs to be done, it was a little bit maybe too large of an organization. And in hindsight, that was probably because they were, you know, ramping up to be acquired by Ontario systems. I didn’t know that at the time. But I left and went to work at EFT network where I worked under one of my very good friends, Bonnie Finley, and we’re very much the same hat that I did at Applied innovation at that first company, a lot of sales, a lot of marketing, a lot of partnership building a customer retention. Billing, you name it is as well as, you know, working with them to develop new products and make sure that what we are putting out there is viable and relevant to the industry, because those needs have have been should evolve.
Lex Patterson: 6:19
.Lacey Kuhlmann: 6:21
Okay, now, I met latitude, which is all full. It’s been a lot of fun I ingest in sales for the first time in my life. That’s all I have to do this. Whoa. No, is that we have a lot of marketing. We do have a marketing staff on board. Now for the first time, I think in latitudes existence. I don’t know, somebody might correct me on that. But it’s been really exciting. But there are days that I’m like, Hey, we should be doing this and this and this. And I’m like, Oh, my job now. But I still have many ideas.
Lex Patterson: 6:57
Yeah, yeah. Well, that’s what we’re going to talk about is some of those ideas. And let’s maybe start the conversation by talking about. Okay, so you’ve been at this a long time in some various different role roles, as you mentioned, you know, so how do you feel the landscape has changed in regard to sales and marketing in our space? And I’m talking about when we talk about this, let’s think about it too, from the concept of, you know, because you and I have been on it from the vendor side quite heavily. But we also work a lot with our clients. And so we see it from their side, too. So how do you think the industry’s changed over the especially over the last few years? How does this evolve? Was the landscape looking like to you?
Lacey Kuhlmann: 7:41
Yeah, well, it’s interesting, because when I first started, a lot of the marketing efforts that I put out, there were things that I saw other people doing. So that’s industry publications, we did a lot of the trade shows, and such. Social media wasn’t huge, especially from a business to business, you know, perspective, our businesses, leverage it great to target and speak to consumers, but not so much from business to business perspective. And so that really hadn’t grown a lot. Social media wasn’t huge in that business to business base at that point. And so I just kind of learned as we went, and it was a lot of the same things. It has not evolved a lot until just the last few years.
Lex Patterson: 8:26
And that interesting. Yeah, yeah. So and when when you say evolving, what would you say? Okay, so we had pre pandemic, maybe let’s, let’s go back there. And then all of a sudden, the pandemic hit? What what happened in your, in your words, or in your mind? What happened there? What I mean, of course, we were all in lockdown. A lot of people went remote, there was all this stuff, you know, couldn’t go to trade shows. Right. But I mean, it that changed a lot of things, and I think gave us a lot of time to to sit back and maybe think about things, right? Yes. When when we talked before Lisa, you had mentioned that it may be identified some of the holes that we have in our processes, maybe talk to that a little bit,
Lacey Kuhlmann: 9:16
so many holes, so many holes in the biggest one in AI. And I think we just got very complacent or lazy because this is a smaller industry compared to some right. So we got so comfortable in our in person networking opportunities, and our industry trade shows, and we pay to get a booth. Sometimes we didn’t even pay to get a booth because we knew the attendees were going to be there. And we had a great network to play off of and we showed up in we hope to meet new faces. We hope to have some meaningful conversations, but we relied on seeing them face to face. The pandemic happened in that office portunity just completely disappeared, when the only other things that we were really doing, and not thinking about at latitude, but previously, the only other things that we’re doing with the print advertising and industry publications, but print advertising, I don’t think that many of our industry publications, send out a physical catalog anymore. And people really don’t take the time to write did I know I don’t read digital catalogs, you know. And so we’re not seeing those advertisements. We weren’t leveraging the social media, we were anything digital, to be completely honest, not the way that we should have, and the way that other companies did, and had much success with. So that’s the biggest hole there. I again, I just I feel like we had gotten a little lazy
Lex Patterson: 10:48
Yeah, yeah. Well, you know, I think there’s part of that. But I think also, like you mentioned before, when we were doing the lead in niche, very close knit. People knew who, who each other was. And maybe it was, maybe it was partially lazy. But maybe it was also just that what we were doing seem to be sort of working, you know, it was, I think we could have done it better. I hear what you’re saying on that there was definitely ways to improve it. But you know, that when they say, necessity is the mother of invention. And it’s like, you know, I don’t think there was enough pain may be driven towards, you know, having to change change too much, you know, because that seemed to be working what we were doing a lot of it
Lacey Kuhlmann: 11:34
right? Well, in being such a small industry, I know some of you out there don’t take offense to the same but there’s that old saying a small town, you never miss your wife, you miss their turn. So that was kind of true. Kind of true in our industry. Everybody knows all the, you know, 10 payment processors in the collection space. Everybody knows, you know, the 13 collection software platforms that are developed for that industry and for the space. And so there’s really not a wait for a big sales pitch, because we already know that you’re just your few differentiators. Some have a lot. But a lot of times your your dialers, and your payment processors and your letter vendors come a bit of a commodity. And so the only time people were going to make a change is when their current vendor raise the prices, they current vendor made a very big mistake, compliance changes needed a compliance needs changed, client needs changed. Those are things that are going to drive the, you know, what were our prospects in the industry to make a change, not my sales pitch, they already know who I am and what I do. And so we just drove to these events. And the main reason that we did that is because if we were not there, our competitors would be there. And they would be ready when it was, you know, term time for the next person. So we had to be there and, you know, be ready and willing and able. But without the in person opportunities, how we had to really think, how do we make sure we’re still there and still in front of them waiting for that next opportunity? Yeah,
Lex Patterson: 13:20
and you know, I think too, if I put on that other hat again, so that that’s looking at it, you know, the vendor side and that too, but if you look at it with our clients, the ones that I’ve talked to a lot is kind of the same thing, right? Because they’re local, its niche, they’re part of the community, the community they work in, they know I mean, there’s national companies, I get all that to, you know, you have that segment of it, but they know your name, you’re in the door, people know, they can come to you for that certain thing. Unless you have a CFO change or some sort of a shake up in management. They’re referring accounts to you and so you’re going to the association’s that they belong to it’s the same game, right? You know, everybody’s going to the trade shows, they’re showing up, they’re doing in person visits, you know, maybe some client appreciation where you drop in with a gift and you say, Hey, how’s things going or I’m here to pick up accounts, I’m going to drop off the trust. I’m going to hand deliver your trust check to you, which is a nice touch that people do, you know, there’s all this kind of things that then the pandemic hits, bam. And now all of a sudden, okay, trade shows were while we’re not even having them, they went to virtual a little bit. I don’t know about you, but you know, I tried a few of those. They just were not the same.
Lacey Kuhlmann: 14:44
No, not from like a networking, sales perspective, maybe marketing. There’s a little bit of brand awareness you might get from the attendees. They see your logo, other than that, so it wasn’t the value that you know, we need From the in person events?Lex Patterson: 15:01
Yeah. Yeah, it’s crazy. So, you know, a lot of that a lot of those holes do come forward. So you know, here we are, we’re kind of, we’re in 2022. Now, it’s been a couple years, this is evolving a little bit. Doors are starting to open up a little bit RMA, I understand has a pretty good attendance rating going here. You know, and we’re planning our year, you know, we’re looking at this and saying, Where are we going to be? What are we going to do, but yet, I still feel likely see things have shifted from pre pandemic. And so I’d really like to think about this in terms of I think it’d be really easy just to fall back into that mode of okay, well, things are going to turn back to normal, you know, or what normal we thought number was. And so I was recently reading this Harvard Business Review article by Derek Coburn, and I’ll share a link to this in the show notes on our episode here. So people can kind of get a gist for this. But in it, he says this. And I thought this first part was really fascinating, too. He says the definition of networking is any activity that increases the value of your network, or the value you contribute to it. And I was like, wow, that resonated with me. How about you? Oh, yeah,
Lacey Kuhlmann: 16:21
absolutely. I mean, there. I’ve been doing it for a long time. And I think for the first 10 years in the industry, I was at one to two trade shows a month. I know there’s a lot of people who do a lot more than that. But how many times that there’s another cocktail reception. And I’m standing there and I’m, we’re having the same conversations over and over with the same people that you saw last month. And I don’t discredit that I love the people in our industry. And I love saying hello, and hi to them. But in some degree, you’re there for a purpose. And that 16 Is your network. And that’s to add value to your network, and you just kind of have to take a different approach to that. And just going through the motions
Lex Patterson: 17:04
Yeah, so that thing of value, just I thought was really pertinent. But then the author this, Derrick Coburn, drops this, okay, he says, The best way to increase the value of your network, or the value you contribute to it, is to avoid traditional networking events almost entirely. Wow. When I hear that, what are your thoughts?
Lacey Kuhlmann: 17:31
Well, I mean, I’m all for that. No. Um, when I first started in the industry, you know, you’d have your you go to the trade trade shows, I think is what we, you know, keep talking about in terms of networking events. The thing that I go back to all the time, you have your Expo Hall, you have your cocktail reception, you have your big client dinners, where you have 2030 people and I would do all those things that I really avoided going to the bar, I’m thought you know what, I’m a young professional, I’m in my 20s That’s the last thing I need, I have an image to uphold. And in a number of years later, it wasn’t until after I have my daughter, I go to choking, I deserve a drink. Right? So go going to the after our drinks that everybody else was going to and I realized I had been missing out on probably the most valuable networking sessions of the whole tradeshow because people talk about real things at that point, right? You get to know them you get to know their families you get to know the true challenges that their business because they’re complaining about it to a friend over a drink rather than having a formal you know conversation where you try to be a little more politically correct and want to throw anybody under the bus. That’s when you know the the gloves come off and the real information comes out and on top of that, I don’t recommend starting to smoke but same thing for the smokers corner outside some of the most meaningful connections that I’ve made industry events have been outside on focus corner I kid you not. Yeah. So it’s just I can’t say that he’s wrong
.Lex Patterson: 19:20
No, no, I think one I think in terms of you know, when you look at those opportunities, you really touched on it great because it’s it is the real the real stuff comes out the real problems are being solved you know and I think part of that problem too is that you’re in the the hall the exhibition hall there’s a different feel and also other competitors might be in your booth their competitors or you know, they’re not going to let that guard down like you say and really share the the intimate parts about what’s happening. So it’s a whole different piece. Um, I’m not I’m not advocating I mean when I heard him say that make that read that comment, you know, to avoid them altogether. I was like, Well, I think that’s pretty drastic, right? I can see what he’s saying, though. Because in the past couple years seems like attendance has dropped down, there’s been, you know, some problems to overcome, and the opportunity, especially in virtual, those opportunities that you and I just talked about where you’re out there, you know, either smoking or drinking, or even just hanging out at dinner, that’s another really great thing. You know, those opportunities are not there, they’re really not there at all in a virtual environment. I mean, I’ve tried the even the virtual cocktail hours and stuff, and they’re maybe one step up, but they’re just not the same, you know. And so maybe we could talk about in this new normal, you know, some ideas and he had a couple, I can just maybe go through here, again, I’m going to put this link in the show notes. But he talks about, you know, hosting your own events. And, and maybe being mindful about the difference between business development and client services or client retention. And then sometimes even, you know, to go further with that, maybe mix it up a little bit. And asking, asking your client or someone that you know, to bring a friend, and not to make a sales pitch, again, it’s with that thought in mind with the first part of that is the value that I can bring to the conversation. And the value they’re bringing is I’m trying to expand my network so that I can connect people that I know are, are going to help each other, I think is a good way to look at that, you know, so, and I think and Lacey probably got some stories about this, too, but, you know, making it fun. It’s more about camaraderie and connection building than it is doing your sales pitch, you know, and so I don’t know if you’ve been to any in particular that you can think of that stood out in your mind that did that?
Lacey Kuhlmann: 21:59
Oh, my goodness. Yeah, well, actually, some of the latitude, user conferences, do a lot of that. And so they haven’t had one since I’ve joined. They haven’t had one, I think since pre COVID. But when I worked at EFT network, I had been to several of their user conferences, and there were boating excursions, and there were different things happening. That is something that we have changed coming into the RMI conference, that’s going to happen next month, historically, we’d go we’d invite a number of customers out to drinks. But we do maybe one or two dinners. But outside of that, we’d really just stick with a networking practice in the Expo Hall, and the opening reception, and you know, those kind of cocktail, scheduled networking occasions, but this year, we’re going in, and we have invitations and appointment set up to go on a special excursion with some of our old customers, we’re gonna take them shooting machine guns, we’re gonna take, I’m gonna take somebody out to get a pedicure, and we’re, you know, because these are when you have the real conversation. I remember at an industry event, I had turned to somebody that I’ve seen, it’s probably, I don’t know, 15 other trade shows. And he said, Hey, how are you doing? You know, how are you doing? He’s like, he just lost it. I wish I could tell you a good. And that’s all everybody says around here is things are good. Business is good placements are up and headed. And he’s like, but it’s not. You know, what, you know, what I want to talk about when you asked me how things are, I want to talk about that my son died last year, I want to talk about, you know, the struggles, I want to talk about this and that he’s like, I’m just sick of all this fakeness. And it just really struck me and hit me that, you know, again, I’d fallen into that routine of openness. It’s like it’s great. The kids are growing, how are you? I’m in I had not taken the time to get past that with most of the people out there. Having these other you know, one on one events is your opportunity to have those conversations. So from you know, that whole in person perspective, that’s going to be our goal moving forward is make it meaningful.
Lex Patterson: 24:14
Yeah, wow. That’s powerful. I think that’s super cool. I think you’re onto their client training events, too. Like when we’re talking about our clients, I know that I’ve talked to several of customers, past customers and whatnot, where they would say, you know, hold a training event, a self sponsored event where you get with a hotel, you rent a room, you do lunch, and you invite your clients and maybe tell them to bring a friend again. And then what you talk about is educating them about how they can improve their AR processes, or how you can improve the handoff that to make the transition going better on those late stage receivables. You know, it’s all in the spirit. Again, it’s not a sales pitch. It’s just how can I help you be better And those events, I think, are really successful to that kind of stuff. You know, and another one that he mentions in his article is offering free passes to an event. So if you have more, you can either purchase a few or, or if they this has been a really cool idea for the for the people that are out there Rmi, you know, ACA to think about that maybe offering a few free passes that the vendors could give out to their customers, you know, to draw more people into that, I think, you know, it’s just a good way to increase the worth of the network by doing that. Yeah. And then one of the biggest ones that I wanted to touch on is reigniting dormant ties, you know, you and I have been in this industry together for a number of years. And I’ve seen this happen a lot through the pandemic, Lacy, you know, we’ve connected, and we’ve had now what, two or three conversations that have been great, it’s just been great to reconnect with you. And I think about that in terms of, actually, you know, creating a list, you know, and I’ve kind of got this thing going with a podcast, you know, my dream, 50, or whatever, you know, I think about the people that I want to have on and I try and create this, who’s going to be interesting, who do it who have I known throughout my career that I would like to bring on, and then abs, taking some initiative and being really mindful about trying to reach out to those people and and see if they’ll reconnect, and just, like you’re saying, learn about what’s going on in their life. And, you know, that’s a really cool part. I mean, have you have you experienced any of that through this pandemic stuff?
Lacey Kuhlmann: 26:43
Yeah, so and I do have a little bit of a unique perspective, too. So in 2019, I was got pregnant and had gave birth to her son Hardy. So I had told me, if I’m going to do, I’m going to have another child for you, I’m gonna take a year off of work, my first child, I got, I think, five weeks off work. And I’m like, I’m going to take a break. And we’re at a good point, or like, I can do this. And so I took the time off, and other folks to come back COVID. And so he ended up with another, you know, really a year off, because when COVID first started, I thought that in the business development role, this is the worst time to come back in the industry is April of 2020. So I took a little bit more time off, coming back into the workplace. So I had spoken with a colleague, while I was gone on my extended maternity leave. And he was also on a brief hiatus from the industry. And he was telling me about all the phone calls he’s been making to people in the industry, and I’m like, You’re not even working anymore. Why are you reaching out to all these people? I feel horrible. Now. Fast forward to starting, you know, work again, I realized, I have so many people that I have considered friends, yes, a long time in the industry that I have not spoken to for two years. Why? Because there hasn’t been a need. And I haven’t seen them on the conference all and I just have completely lost track. Other than maybe an update on Facebook, but that’s, you know, here and there. And those aren’t real, either. I had a lot of catching up to do, and I loved it. But you definitely have to keep on top of those relationships and hunt down the dormant ones and bring them back to life because there is a reason they were, you know, a contact and in your network. And there was a reason you had a relationship to begin with. And that’s because there’s there’s value.
Lex Patterson: 28:44
Yeah. So if you look at if you look at the 500 Plus, or however many contacts you have on, let’s say, just LinkedIn, you know, for instance, you know, and you really go and scan, not that and you look at those people and you say geez, I wonder what’s going on with them, you know, the thing is, it’s therapeutic to you, as well. But it’s also so meaningful to them, like you say, just to have someone reach out and say, Hey, how you doing. And in this area where we’re so isolated, I just think it’s really an important thing. And the other thing I want to share at this point is when we’re talking about networking is just, you know, I think how many and I know we all get this, you know the request from maybe someone not in your network, but it’s someone not in your network, saying, hey, connect with me, right? And so you do you think well, you have to think about pretty hard first for a minute, you know, and then you say okay, maybe I will and then the very next email is some damn sales pitch. That you’re like, Okay, well, thanks a lot. I’m sure glad I connected with you. I mean, I think here’s the thing. People do business with people that they like, and they trust. So Think about that in every interaction that you’re doing, if you reach out to connect with them, so that you can give them a sales pitch, are they gonna trust you, you know, how about instead you deliver deliver something to their mailbox that has value to you, you research them a little bit, you, you, you offer them some opportunity or some connection or some something of value to them prior to trying to pitch them. I don’t know, I just, I just that kind of stuff just irritates me. But you know, I think a little more transparency, a little more thought into the connections and the network building goes a long way. With that. I agree. So, um, any other ideas before we leave that topic on the networking stuff, any? Anything else we want to you want to bring up there?
Lacey Kuhlmann: 30:53
Well, I know I’m excited to get back into it into in person events. And like I said, we’ve just learned a lot, we’ve had really had to hit the drawing board and those two, two years that we weren’t able to get out there and build the pipeline in an in person format. We had to figure out other ways to, to do that. And I think that the most important thing we can do moving forward into 2022 is not forget those guerrilla strategies, if you will. So as we go back to travel, don’t forget the things that we’ve had to do over these last two years, which is like nice, the dormant relationship and get really creative to get in front of
Lex Patterson: 31:36
Yeah, with social media, you know, which we’ll jump into a little bit here. But I mean, as long as we’re on it, I guess, you know, the importance of social is is big, of course. And you know, so you’re on how many are you on multiple you’re on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, are you on everything? Are you are you trying to cover all that
Lacey Kuhlmann: 31:57
I you know what, I have never gotten into Twitter, I am LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram. And I’ve never been on Twitter, and I’ve never been on Tik Tok. And I hope that I can claim that so I know. These are all very important. So but you know, I just enough boy. Yeah,
Lex Patterson: 32:19
I mean, I’ve heard tick tock is incredibly addictive. I mean, my kids have been on that. And they say, Man, you start on that and you’re blowing through a lot of hours and stuff. But to think, I guess the thing to note about that is that trying to understand where your network where your customers where your prospects are hanging out, and, and it’s the same thing as in collection, right? You’re trying to, to connect with them where they want to be connected with and where they’re hanging out, and where they’re getting their content. And, and so creative content, use of video, all of those things are way important, probably more now than ever, because that’s, I saw a stat somewhere that it was a big stat, it blew me away, actually, that a large percentage of people actually get their news from Facebook, and they get it from the Facebook feed, which disappears. So it’s, it may be it may be not even a trusted news story source. In fact, a lot of times it’s not. So it’s crazy how that shifted. You know?
Lacey Kuhlmann: 33:25
We do not have to go down that route.Lex Patterson: 33:28
Right, right. that could be a whole episode. Yeah. Yeah. So anyway,
Lacey Kuhlmann: 33:35
no, I’m, I look at social media in terms. So you know, talking about building our network, we talk about marketing, we talk about branding, in sales. And I, somebody told me once, they said that sales without sales is just marketing. So even as a salesperson 90% of the things that we’re doing is from a marketing perspective, and in marketing, we have something called drip campaigns. And it’s just like, you know, a leaky faucet. It’s a drip, drip, drip, it’s not full for sale. It’s just a nice little drip. And I think social media is the best way to have your own personal drip campaign going. It’s just a little tidbit of yourself and a little tidbit of your life here every once in a while. Here’s a little on LinkedIn, here’s a little bit of my personal stuff going on Facebook, and I’m here, you know, and I’m in front of you. And you’ll remember me for for more when you have you know, those business needs, or you’ll remember me you know that I have been an active member of our network until the time that I need you as well. So I think you know, it’s just the CNC drip campaign for your personal brands
Lex Patterson: 34:46
Well, yeah, that I’d never heard of, but like that, that’s awesome. I love that because it’s really true and and what you’re really doing in that same thing with the drip campaigns and that you’re really if you look at the customer journey because we all have that we all go through those phases on the customer journey, which is where you know, we’re hunting, we’ve got a problem, we’re looking for a solution, we’re not really sure yet, we’re gonna vet something out. And then we’re trying to find the ones that maybe we’ll pay attention to. And then Okay, let’s take the next step, you know, there, it’s all the way from just attracting the customer all the way through, you know, making a deal with them, hopefully, at some point, turning them and turning them into now a customer that can help spread your message, you know, and grow the tribe. But the thing about it is, is with that drip campaign, and like you said, on the social, is the importance of telling your story. And you’ve got the personal story of you the personal story of Lacey, a person that I can trust that I can trust, and I like, right, yeah, but but the same thing is the same thing with your company, you know, what’s your company brand, your company persona? What story do you want to tell with your company that you want them to remember about? You know, so victories, obviously, are a cool thing. But I mean, what are your thoughts on that?
Lacey Kuhlmann: 36:05
Yeah, well, Americans, I think it’s American profit recovery does a phenomenal job of this on LinkedIn. And I don’t know if it’s every day or once a week, they take a testimonial from a consumer. And you know, they put it in a meme or whatever they put it and make an image with the text that is a reference to the phenomenal customer service that they had with that consumer, right, somebody called in and just said, I want to tell you that your collector, Joe was the most compassionate person, I was so stressed out, there’s no way out of my debt. And after five minutes, I realized that he was there to help me, right. They’re putting this message out constantly. And I mean, that’s such a wonderful example of putting the positive image out. Don’t let people assume you’re just a debt collection agency, you’re there to collect debt, when somebody needs that collected, right. When somebody has places, they’ll send it to you, you’ll go through the motions, you’ll collect the money, you pass it off, there’s so much more to your collection agency story than that. And you have to use social media.
Lex Patterson: 37:12
And we had talked before you had brought up such a cool thing, because you said, don’t just say, in your tagline, or whatever, that I’m a debt collection agency from Wisconsin, and this goes back to even message on the website. You know, the story that you’re telling, you know, and I think that all comes back to you know, we’ve had a little bit of education on keywords and stuff. And we think about, you know, debt collection that has to be in there somewhere and all this stuff. It’s kind of shifted a lot from that those days, you know, but But talk to that a little bit about, you know, some creative ways that you’ve seen, and I know you even told me a story, Lacey that maybe you could convey about an example you had about trying to maybe convert your garage and all that.
Lacey Kuhlmann: 38:00
Yeah, well, I mean, 15 years, isn’t I not into the Dark Ages, when I started this industry, right? It’s like, agencies were working off of postcards. We were modern. And when I started, it was still a long time ago from a technology technology perspective. So I mean, has anybody Googled debt collection recently, just go to google and type it in? Or have you Googled your own agency name, I, again, ABC collections, Wisconsin, you’re not? If I were a consumer, or if I were a prospective customer looking for a collection agency in Wisconsin to help me collect with my medical debt. And I type in that collection company, Wisconsin, the first seven 810 results are going to be are you being harassed by a collection agency? Call us and we’ll help you do them. Are you having problems paying your debt, click here? And we’ll consolidate it for you. And I mean, none of them are a collection agency in Wisconsin, let alone and your collection agency in Wisconsin, right. So how do you change that? One, you could certainly pay with your Google Ads debt collector debt collection agency, Wisconsin, pay your website up. So you’re going to be the first in the rankings. And I do suggest you do that, too, is get creative with your AdWords and your tagline so that when they do collect it, you can do this again, I pay people to do it. I don’t do it myself. But Facebook, Instagram, Google, they know everything about you. So when you google collections, Wisconsin, they know that you’re a medical off by your browsing history, that you’re Googling this from a medical office. And so as a collection agency have a landing page does that But speaks specifically to medical collections, and how you’re located in Wisconsin, you have local touch, but you specialize in medical collections and, and so on and so forth and really speak to them. There was a company and payment processing company that did this. It was the first time I’ve seen it done in our industry, and it blew my mind. I mean, we’ve seen Pay Per Click ads, where you’re reading, you know, news on MSNBC, or whatever. And you see an ad for payment processor in the company. I see. And for Genesis all the time, because I work at Genesis, I searched in Genesis stuff, they think I’m really interested in Genesis. But what this company did was totally different. So if you typed in ACA International, the first result was ABC payment processing company, we will be at the ACA International Will you be there, click us to schedule an appointment and see how we can save you money. You think AC internationals website would be the first one to pop up. But they paid because they knew if you were looking at AC International, you’re probably a need in the market, or have a need to some degree for payment processors that work with collection agencies. If I were to type in and search, latitude soccer, for example, the very first result was ABC payment processing. Like your first demo of our interface with latitude, if I were to search, any of the other five software companies that that payment processor integrated with, I would see the same thing, right click here to see how we integrate with, you know, Columbia ultimate soccer or whatever other platform it was right. It was phenomenal. And it blew my mind. And I do know agencies that are doing this to combat the consumer attorneys. And they’re spending tons of money and search engine optimization, but the return on investment versus lawsuit that they were seeing. I mean, it’s it’s worth it, their lawsuits have gone way down because the consumers who are searching for the agency website aren’t being spoon fed. Well, if you received a letter from them, you need to sue them call us a zoom call us. They just don’t see that when they Google and look up the agencies online anymore. I mean, if they’re doing that, it’s phenomenal. It’s it’s such a paradigm shift for us, because so much of our industry doesn’t even want a website. They’re afraid of a website because they might get sued. Right. still sad everything in our industry.
Lex Patterson: 42:46
Yeah, that’s so cool. That’s That’s some good stuff. Right there. Lacey? I mean, it really is. And you touched on Google business actually, in that you know that Google knows who you are, they know your business. If you haven’t gone on and put your business into Google business, you should do it. For sure. There’s a lot of information there, I can put a link to that in the show notes as well. Another creative thing I’ve seen an agency doing DRS of Ohio, when you’re talking about that story that they’re telling is the same thing. Because I know one of the hard things in the industry, too, is his complaints. And we’re going to get them and on Google reviews. There’s some bad ones that can happen. But what these guys are doing that’s really creative, I think is taking those Google reviews, and actually doing video segments responding with a with a representative from their company responding to the Google reviews, and putting that out on social. And so not only are they Yeah, not only are they responding to it on on Google review, which I think is a great thing, you need to monitor that keep track what’s happening, respond to all of them, no response is still a response. You know, even if you think there’s I mean, you got to be careful because of lawsuits. And you got to be careful what you disclose and all that. And there are rules, get some legal advice on that, of course, but responding to that, and then turning that into that story is a great thing. But I love that that’s so cool, you know? Yeah, yeah. Well, wow.
Lacey Kuhlmann: 44:20
It’s, again, we’re, we’re in such a niche industry, then we have such a unique that have language in terminology in it as well. That I think a lot of times and I know that us as vendors get caught up in it and I see it a lot with agencies as well, we get so caught in industry specific messaging, that if you have the, you know, the AR clerk or the CFO at the hospital where their job is thinking about, you know, revenue, profits, billing, billing, billing, but they don’t know a lot about collections when they get on There was no question you just use website, they’re gonna get lost a little bit in the dark. And I feel like I this is a thing that really happened. And so they’re going like, Okay, well, you know, what’s a place? That wasn’t any letter? What’s this this and we’re talking about such a technical process to them where we should just break it down into very layman term, and very specific terms on how to build a relationship and move forward with that agency as well, instead of just call us. Yeah, a lot of these decision makers are becoming more and more millennials, and millennials don’t like the call. to Google, I can’t believe I just said we I ended the answer, like within the first three sentences, we want the answer anything? Yeah.
Lex Patterson: 45:51
Well, it’s the way that it’s going, which is a great segue into into that next piece of really being specific, I was talking to Tim Collins, on a recent podcast, too, and it was more on the consumer side with the payment portals and self service and some of that stuff, but it hit me Lacey, I’m thinking, you know, because we were talking about how important it is in that process to kind of segment your inventory. And know kind of what you know, where you can send people for that digital connection, meeting them where they want to meet and what and whatnot. And I was thinking, man, you know, really, we should be doing that same thing with our clients, we should look at our clients that we have, and the ones that we hope to gain and we should say, what categories? Do they fall into type of debt location? You know, what are the needs that they might have, as they’re going to approach our site and then realize, like, you just said that we’re scanning, we’re not reading, we want to hit that page, get it solved, within less than 10 seconds, we got to see is that solve my problem, or else I’m bouncing on to the next thing, you know, and we do ourselves a big favor to look through that lens of First of all, go back look at your, who you’re serving, and what your story is, and what solution you provide to them. But then come back to say, how easy is it for that person? Like you just said, don’t make them wade through a bunch of stuff they don’t even care about, you know, to solve their problem.
Lacey Kuhlmann: 47:17
Yeah, like I was telling you it was it’s been a month. It’s been at least a month since I got online and I we have a four car garage. We never parked it. I mean, we have big trucks. They’re so dirty. I don’t want to park in our garage. And so it is not heated in the garage doors not insulated, and that we wanted to put our gym out there. So I googled heaters for for garage. And then I well first I Googled how to turn a home garage into a gym in the crap battery. And I literally I had five minutes had I googled that and somebody said by this, it will keep your your garage warm enough to work out in I have my credit card out, I would have bought it it would have been done that have been great. I don’t care if it cost $5,000 It just say what it was this one off my back is what I want and such. It’s been a month I haven’t gone back online, that I wouldn’t spent the money that day if I were able to find a quick answer and just make that decision and order it and it shows up in a couple of weeks. Right. And same thing goes for and this is a little bit off topic. But when you look, if you ever looked up a recipe online, yeah. How long do you have to scroll through the pictures and the story about how well her husband doesn’t like spicy food and she flashes intolerant and her kids are really picky. And so she tried this, but it just didn’t turn out great. So she thought she put a new twist on it. And this time she used the castor skillet, on and on and on. And then finally you have the recipe. Hi, so have rolled through Pat. Um decision making is happening so quickly these days and you go to the car dealership, and you talk to a salesperson, and you ask them about what’s the fuel economy on this car versus this 120 years ago, they tell you everything about car. But those sales people at car dealerships are actually trained nowadays. Not to do they don’t have to do all that stuff. Because we’re not person walks on sure a lot to test drive. They’ve already done all the research. They already know the difference between the cars and factions, because they just yeah, we want instant answers. When we’re sitting on the couch at home thinking about it. You find it
Lex Patterson: 49:45
that is crazy.
Lacey Kuhlmann: 49:47
Again, this is something that we’ve just really has been slower to adopt, I think from a business to business perspective. And, you know, business to consumer companies have been doing really well. But it’s a business to business. company and industry we need to do better. Yeah.
Lex Patterson: 50:04
How about? How about that outbound stuff? We touched on that a little bit with drip campaigns and stuff? I mean, do you find I mean, are there any tips that you can speak to on those drip campaigns that would make things maybe a little bit better? What’s your thoughts on that whole thing now,
Lacey Kuhlmann: 50:23
I’m trying so hard to be old school, I don’t have Facebook and Instagram on my phone anymore. However, from a business perspective, like it’s, I still have it, and it’s still phenomenal. And I still use LinkedIn a lot. One thing that I have a goal for in 2022, is to make LinkedIn a little bit more personable, and a little bit more of an insight into my own personal life. And I did that for the very first time, in the 15 plus years that I’ve had LinkedIn, in September. And I posted a picture of a personal trip that I took, and, you know, a little blurb about it, and how it was me going outside of my comfort zone and going to this big competition with my horses, and on and on, the response that I received from what I thought was a very dormant network was astounding. And people that hadn’t talked to in years reached out, they’re sending messages, and there’s like, Oh, hey, you know, good for you, or my daughter, right? courses also. And it was just this huge breath of fresh air. And again, it kind of goes back to where we get caught up in professionals as being like, I have an image to portray, and we’re gonna be professional, we’re gonna talk about business and keep everything just nice and impacted neatly. But we’re past that now. With social media, the lines blur, I think a lot more. So that’s my goal for 2022 is to bring in more elements of my personal life into that LinkedIn side.
Lex Patterson: 51:52
That is so great. I mean, man, there’s another nugget, right? I mean, I love that. I want to share a story to Donald Miller. Story brand marketing, I follow him, he’s got some very interesting ideas about marketing through story. He’s an author, you know, and then he’s gone into this consulting area talking about using story to, you know, sell your products and move people and make them feel something and all that. And he has, I follow him on Instagram, interestingly, interestingly enough, that you just mentioned, and he’ll do these little clips where he read something or he learns about something. And then he tries to teach it back to the audience. Right. So and I’ll share this on the show notes. You can see it yourself. But he talks about in this particular one, Alfred Adler, theorize that we all have this human fuel or drive to connect. And that we all really want to feel connected, right? So we’re all out here trying to connect, like you’re saying, and he says, but here’s, here’s the fascinating thing, that out of every 10 people you meet, one will like you, seven will see you as inconsequential, meaning not nothing derogatory, there, they just means that they won’t like or dislike you. So seven of them see you as inconsequential. Two of them. Will not like you. Yeah. And, and so he goes on. And again, you can watch the clip, I’ll send it over to you. But the takeaway from this that he says, and I love this is focus on the one focus on that one person that connects with you that reaches out that says, hey, Lacey, that’s great, good for you. You know, you’re putting it out there focus on that one. And I think that’s so powerful. It is so cool.
Lacey Kuhlmann: 53:41
Yeah, yeah, it is. And that goes, kind of back to Account Based Marketing that more you know, more and more people are adopting right now to focus on that one or that select view that, you know, it’s going to like you and they’re going to be receptive, and they have a unique business needs that you can solve. Focus on those.
Lex Patterson: 54:03
So what you’re talking about with the account basin is really kind of doing your research up front, this goes from looking at your databases from the shows you’ve attended, looking at the people that have subscribed to your newsletter, looking at the people that have interacted with you in the past, setting up those accounts and being very intentional about the message that you send with them and staying connected with them and, and speak their language to them. Right. I mean, is there anything I’m missing on the account base so that you want to know that
Lacey Kuhlmann: 54:34
you’ve got it? It goes back to in the industry is collection agency for so many years that you wanted to know the propensity to pay, right using analytics to determine the propensity to pay that may not be the same as profitability, per account. Right. Right. And so I’ve seen a shift for a lot of agencies are like what is this propensity to pay stuff like? Let’s talk about the accounts. that has the most profitable margins. And let’s focus on those. Because Wow, the propensity might be a little bit slimmer, the return is so much higher on those. In really it’s a mix of both of those numbers, but it has been a shift I’ve seen in the last few years.
Lex Patterson: 55:17
Yeah, that’s cool. That’s cool. Okay, well, I’m gonna shift gears on you. Let’s, let’s go with a couple more questions, and we’ll wrap it up. But what do you think is the most valuable thing a marketing team could do this year to gather customer insights through the community built?
Lacey Kuhlmann: 55:33
Oh, my gosh. That’s that. That’s a big one. One thing that we’ve done through the pandemic, because we didn’t have an opportunity to meet with our customers face to face. And typically, that’s when you would get a lot of the really good feedback, right. And when you have that opportunity to sit down face to face and buy Milan curry breakfast with them or or have a legitimate sit down scheduled with them. It we’ve done our broader benchmarking group. And some of our kind of more treasured clients, if you are those that are involved, not just within their organization, which is very successful, but also within the industry that has their own large network, but we get them together on at least a quarterly basis over zoom. Again, we can have the eye contact, and to some degree, and really tough questions, not just about are you happy with our services? But how do you feel about what’s happening in the industry today? How do you feel about you know, the recovery rates, how to, you know, go a little bit deeper and ask them about what is happening within their business? Because those are indicators in how your business is doing for them? Or how you can improve your business that you’re doing for them? Or I mean, there’s just, you have to understand your customer.
Lex Patterson: 57:00
Yeah, yeah. Really, really, you know, seek to understand and be an active listener. Right. And just, that’s great. I love that. I love that. Okay, well, I got one more for you along, it’s a little different twist to this. But what Mark, what marketing practices? Do you think we ought to ditch in 2022? If you’re doing something, like, what’s a pet peeve, I think, hey, we ought to ditch this for sure. Either. It can be with conferences, it could be with marketing practices that are happening, is there something you think that we should just quit doing?
Lacey Kuhlmann: 57:35
Um, you know, other than what you mentioned earlier, with the LinkedIn sponsored email, that you get the messages, and the email campaigns and everything that’s cystic and marketing message, you know, they sent it to 500 other people today, within, you know, with similar job titles as you guys. I do know, people have good success with it. But it’s just not for me, because all we talked about today is the meaningful connection. And this is more and more important as the pandemic is hit. And as we ever, you know, emerge on the far side of the pandemic, I think the one thing that we’ve all realized, is the importance of having the personal connections with our customers and our prospective customers and our friends and our family. And it made us realize, Okay, do we have these meaningful relationships? Is it going to survive the two years that I haven’t been able to see these people in person? And other than that, I have to say, nobody was met me in real life. Well believe this. I’m technically an introvert. And I was deathly shy until I was probably 19 years old. And well,
Lex Patterson: 58:55
I Yeah, it’s hard to believe. Yeah,
Lacey Kuhlmann: 58:58
yeah. Let’s get them all. Let’s ditch all the marketing. No, I’m kidding. I’d rather hide under a rock and be a fly on the wall. But I do my job. Well.
Lex Patterson: 59:09
Yeah. Well, let’s see. Let’s maybe wrap on this. What’s been a silver lining through this whole pandemic for you? Is there been one? What’s What’s the silver lining?
Lacey Kuhlmann: 59:20
Oh, man, there’s been so much introspection done through this whole process. And I was talking to a friend early on, and I get this kind of muddle through the pandemic. And she’s just like, without being able to travel for work without being able to go to your clients, visit the trade shows and then going home and working in a home office. It’s almost a little bit of an identity crisis, especially as a mother and as a wife and all these things when you’re just your home office and you walk out into the kitchen. You when You truly have that opportunity to put on the professional hat and how many of us are even dressing up at our home office. I know No, I don’t. The silver lining has been to go back to what I said on LinkedIn understanding that you have like, we have value in our connections without wearing that professional hat. People don’t care process professional. People want to know the real you. And this has given us an opportunity to, to put that out there and it’s gonna be the real you, if you will, your authentic self that went. So way too touchy feely.
Lex Patterson: 1:00:33
Well, I think this podcast is helping us to see the real you. I really appreciate you coming on.
Lacey Kuhlmann: 1:00:39
Well, thank you so much, Lex. It’s been fun.
Lex Patterson: 1:00:43
Yeah. Well, hopefully we can do it again soon, huh?
Lacey Kuhlmann: 1:00:45
Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. Marketing is fun. I mean, I really, it’s something that we could spend so much time talking about within this industry. That, yeah, you can happen on a guest. Let’s do it.
Lex Patterson: 1:01:01
Yeah, that’s another topic what we did compared to what we prepared for this, we really only did touch the surface. So yeah, I think we’ll see how this resonates. And it’s definitely an area where I think people can learn some stuff and you gave some great, great tips. So thank you.
Lacey Kuhlmann: 1:01:18
Thank you like.
Lex Patterson: 1:01:40
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