Lee Wochner is the CEO and creative strategist of Counterintuity, a full-service marketing agency based in Burbank, California. We discuss how to launch successful marketing campaigns, craft eye-catching messaging, and how to identify and measure social impact.
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Speed Up Into The Curve with Lee Wochner
Our guest is Lee Wochner, He is the CEO and creative strategist of Counterintuity in Los Angeles, which is a full-service marketing agency. He, prior to founding Counterintuity, he was the president and CEO of LA Stage Alliance and Theatre LA. So he’s been an entrepreneur for a while. And he is a graduate of the University of Southern California. So, Lee, welcome to the show.
Nice to be here, Steve. Thanks so much. And I, you know, I love your backdrop. It is every bit as colorful as we know Burbank is. So that’s nice to see.
I was hoping it may not be up to date. This may be a couple of decades old. I’m not sure, but I’m going to check it out because my wife and I are flying out there in a couple of weeks to visit our daughter who goes to UCLA. And then we’re going to check out Burbank as well to see what it looks like today. So that is about Burbank, but what I’m really interested in is your entrepreneurial journey. How do you get here? What, you know, what it’s been like, how do you become from a writer, an entrepreneur, the theater company, and then a marketing company? So tell me about your journey.
So, I do come from a family legacy of entrepreneurship. My grandfather and my father built roads and bridges and gas stations and schools on the East Coast in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. My brother worked for himself for decades and grew his company into a nice size. My brother-in-law worked for himself. And now two of my three children also have businesses of their own that they’re running successfully in addition to their regular jobs. So it seems to be in our family culture. And it’s well, we’re hardworking, friendly, but determined, stubborn German Americans. What can I tell you?
I can relate.
The other thing, but I will tell you my personal entree into entrepreneurship. So I’m a lifelong comic book fan. And when I was 11 years old, I wanted a copy of Fantastic Four number one. So that was in the early to mid 1970s and it was $60 at the time and the cover price of a comic book was 20 cents. So I wanted this comic book. $60 was a lot of money. And by the way, here’s the first sort of hurdle that an entrepreneur would run up against because we run up against hurdles all the time.
My mother was horrified. Horrified that I wanted to spend $60 on a comic book. And so she said to my father, your son wants to spend $60 on a comic book. And my mother said, well, you know, it’s his own money and he should be able to do what he wants, my father said. And so, you know, let him do that. So she didn’t like that answer. So then she went to the church pastor and pastor, my son wants to spend $60 on a comic book. What do you think? And the pastor said, well, it’s his money.
He should be able to do what he wants with it. So my mother got no support for this. So I mowed lawns all over the area for a summer plus and saved up $60. And I mailed it off to this man in Long Island, New York, and he wrote me back and he said, I don’t have one. So he didn’t have one. So then I got my father to take me to New York to a convention and one was $85.
The price had gone up. And I bought it for $85. So now my mother’s beside herself, right? $85. And Steve, I held onto it for two years and then I sold it for $200. Wow. And then she had nothing to say and then I started becoming a comic book dealer. So, I was a comic book dealer for about 10 years because when you’re 12 or 13 and you turned 85 into 200 like that, it makes a big impression.
Well, you know, that’s art and art can go up in value If it’s a good one.
Now, of course, it would be, I’m sad to tell you, like $100,000.
I sold too soon.
But maybe you use the money well and maybe you invested it in your companies and that’s why counterintuitive is where it is. So where does this name come from? And maybe that’s not the question. The question is, what is your exact message when you named your company, CounterIntuitive? What are you trying to convey to your customers or prospects?
So, I’ve been on this twin arts, writing and business track my whole life. And when I stopped running a couple of nonprofits and decided to, I actually got a phone call from someone asking, would you consult for me? And so that led into the formation of this company. And then I started getting more calls and started doing business strategy consulting, marketing consulting. I’ll never forget one day I asked myself in the mirror and tried to figure out what’s the commonality among the things I do for them.
And then I realized that essentially it’s the Socratic method. The Socratic method of asking questions back and forth to get to the core problem or opportunity or identity and that that was a counterintuitive approach. And so I came up with this name counterintuity and I ran it that way for I guess a year and a half two years and then my business partner and I merged our companies and she liked the name and wanted to keep it and so we kept it.
So, what do your customers expect when they hear counterintuitivity? What kind of delivery do they expect? Is it easy to live up to that?
Well, I think what it really means is we’re not going to start out by doing the same thing in the same way as everyone else and we will investigate the best way for you and your actual goal. people will say, I need a website, or I need a new logo, or I need whatever it is, I need to do this campaign. And really, Steve, the question is, what are you trying to accomplish? What is your goal? Right? Where does this take you? Because if I can save you the money and the time, I will, because we’re all about impact.
Or if I can say, you know, really, you should be doing a content strategy, because the way you talk about what you do is smart and you have a lot to say and you’re an expert. We can build your acknowledged expertise on this issue. And so we put it out there. And some other agencies, I think, will start right out by saying, if you came for a website, I’ll sell you a website. But our goal is not the sale. Our goal is client improvement, making a positive impact on the world. And so that makes us a little bit different frequently from most other agencies.
I love that, improving clients. So let’s go a little bit about this entrepreneurial side before we go on to the marketing side. You’ve been running this company for about 17 years, so it’s been in the making for a while, according to your LinkedIn page. And how did you build this company? Is it just organic, just doing the trade and it’s just organically grew or did you use, did you put some intentionality in there and did you use some frameworks that you felt like was a good underpinning to this company?
Well, certainly a combination of both. And, you know, building a company, your company will grow and change and evolve. And there are things you will do and things you will stop doing and new things you will start doing. And I will tell you, I’ve been married for a long time and I like my wife a lot, right? I mean, we’ve been in this for three decades. Our relationship, we’ve grown and changed. It’s not the, I’m not the same person I was at 25, right? And a company is kind of like that too.
Well, we used to do this and the times have changed and the clients have changed and the capabilities and the opportunities have changed. And so you always have to be forward-looking. And so I do my best to be forward-looking with my wife. What are we going to be doing next? How will we be enjoying our relationship and our children and at some point, perhaps grandchildren? And I do this with my business partner here and we do it with our team. And so when Amy, Amy Kramer is my partner, and by the way, she’s brilliant.
Never partner with anyone who isn’t better than you are. Right? Otherwise, don’t go get one. So she’s terrific and I’ve been a business partners with her for a long time and it’s a great part of my life. She’s terrific. So we spent time talking about this business and what we would be doing and we wrote it up on big sheets on the wall, right? Great big jumbo post-it pads with markers. And then as a business idea, we tried to shoot it down. So what’s the problem with this?Never partner with anyone who isn't better than you are. Click To Tweet
And after three weeks of this, three and a half weeks, because we met two or three times a week doing this while running our individual companies, she said, well, it sounds like we’re doing this. Are we doing this? And I said, I can’t find a reason not to do this. And that was important. That was useful. And looking at what the problems might be and who we were as people and what our values are, EOS is based on values, core values. We believe strongly in core values. And so that was very important for us even before we found EOS, we were values focused.
So, are you guys running on EOS?
We sure are.
Okay, so how long have you been doing this and what are your favorite tools of yours?
Well, I will tell you we self-implemented for a while and we had the worst implementer ever. That was me Terrible just terrible and then we we have someone we work with he’s great and I had a breakthrough meeting with him last summer where I realized I was the dumbest guy involved here. And Amy is our integrator. Far better. She’s doing a terrific job as an integrator. And right here on my wall, I have our core values posted. And by the way, they’re also on our website.
And the beautiful clarifying aspect of EOS is running everything from your core values. It makes life beautiful. Because if there are people who don’t share these core values of being collaborative and heartfelt, as an example, then they’re not the right people for us and vice versa. We’re trying to make improvements. And when we work with you, when we sign a client, we are committed to that client. And if the client isn’t committed back, it’s not so collaborative, it’s not so great, it doesn’t help us succeed, and they’re wasting their life force and ours. And you know, you asked me about systems, right?
So when Amy and I merged our companies, we had this discussion about what our values were and who we would be serving and how we would be working. And we set up the company for that pretty early on. And then we found our way to EOS, which has really helped us tighten things up and do even better.
So, what is your 10-year target or core target as a company? What is the big North Star that you’re going after?
Well, the interesting thing is we just refined our positioning. And so we’re in the process of adapting that with the new positioning. Very interested, the world is in an interesting place. And so we’ve got all the problems that you and I could list right now. And the pandemic is one of them and economic disparity and all sorts of things, right? And at the same time, Perseverance landed on Mars and takes incredible shots of the Milky Way and the stars and the planet, and look what we can achieve when we work together. It’s incredible.
Anybody looking at that footage has to be blown away by the mysteries of the universe and our part in it. And so now that we realize we want to work even more with nonprofits, public agencies, and social good, we have our shorter-term target and we know we want to manifest improvement and we’re working on how does that codify into a better, more relevant 10-year target.
So, you’ve worked with nonprofits and public organizations. How is it different to work with non-profits as opposed to for-profit organizations? Do they need different marketing or do they need a different approach?
Well, certainly the ownership and management structure is different. So when you’re working with, and we have a number of for-profit clients, you are frequently working with the owner and he or she pulls the checkbook out of his or her wallet and writes a check, right? So we’ve seen that happen at times. And with a nonprofit, you’re working with a board, a board chair, a CEO or executive director.
And most of the metrics wind up being the same. How many unique visitors and what was the success of the campaign? What were the goals of the campaign? All of those sorts of things. The one thing I do bear in mind is that the members of a nonprofit board are volunteers. And so they’ve come into this making a sacrifice. They’re volunteering their time and frequently their money to solve a social problem or create a social good. I have enormous respect for that. We all do here.
And we do our best to help them with that and to be especially sensitive to their time. We want to take input always with clients. We want to make sure anything we ask of a client is relevant and useful. But other than that, you know, you might, I think if you are a closely held for-profit, you can take some sorts of risks that a nonprofit might be a little more wary of in terms of being a little snappier with your messaging.
But, you know, early on, Steve, when we set a strategy, we also set a voice and a tone and we find out the comfort level because we want to match it up with the organization. And certainly some very well-known profits, you and I could both name, some of them are very risk tolerant with how they will put their messages out and some aren’t.
So, you talk about this snappiness on your LinkedIn page as well. And I want to ask you, what does it mean? What does it look like when you have a snappy, maybe it’s just my vocabulary is not up to snuff here, but what does it look like to have a snappy campaign and why is it important?
So, we have a white paper, a downloadable white paper on our website, seven ways to grab people in four seconds. And it’s about grabbing people’s attention in four seconds. And it’s important because the metrics vary and the reporting, some of them say you have eight to 15 seconds to make an impression on a website, on mobile it’s more like 4 seconds and if it doesn’t load within 4 seconds 53% of people are gone. I know right, so there’s a good and a bad to this right.
The good is you get more done perhaps, the bad is people develop attention deficit perhaps because they’re not paying enough attention. So by snappy I think what we’re meaning is you have to grab people’s attention right away. And when you look at some writers, they will drop you right into the beginning of the scene in a novel so that you get grabbed right away. And others, writers from the 19th century, there’s a slower lead in. And today, with visuals, with writing, with something, you’d better get people’s attention pretty quickly.
So that’s really what we mean by that. And then for ourselves, we’re walking the line. We try to do live writing for ourselves that has a little more electricity in it, a little more crackle. And we also want to communicate to people that we’re friendly and upbeat and want them to succeed. We’re not sarcastic.
So, there’s a fine line. You don’t want to be, you know, don’t offend anybody, but you also want to be a little bit out of the box and a little bit surprising so that you get their attention. Something like that.
So large nonprofits will have different groups. When you think about large social groups. Right, they have different groups. They want to be able to speak to their group and maybe not speak to the general public. It depends on what their goals are. And so for any organization, whom are you trying to reach? So this podcast that you and I are on, which I watched a whole bunch of your podcasts, I thought they were very interesting and very well done. They’re not for my daughter.
My daughter is a crafter. She makes beautiful handcrafted, in addition to her job, she makes beautiful handcrafted items that she sells on Etsy. This podcast isn’t for her, but it is for millions of other people potentially. And so you and I will speak to the people who are correct for this. And if she were to find her way on it, trust me, she has no interest in hearing me talk for an hour. She might check in for 10 seconds to see how dad’s looking these days, and then she’ll go back over to something else.
I can relate to that. I don’t think my children are helping the download statistics on this particular. So let me ask you about this idea of strategy marketing and design being the three legs of the counterintuitive stool. Why did you pick this and how do they work together?
Let’s say that you didn’t start with strategy. Let’s say that you started with marketing. So now you and I are doing a campaign. Well, we don’t know who it’s for. We don’t know who it’s supposed to reach. We don’t know how they’re gonna interact with it. We didn’t set goals for success. And so what’s happening, Steve, is we’re burning your money and your time. And by the way, you can make more money, you’ll never get more time. Time is the resource we can never replace.
So you have to start with strategy. So now that we’re doing strategy, you need marketing to effectuate the strategy, right? And now that we have marketing, to go back to the previous question you asked, we have to make sure that people see it, that they grab onto it, that they pay attention. And that’s design. And by design, we really also mean the creativity, the writing and design, the messaging. All of the creative that goes into that marketing has to come through in that way.
And so if you have a two-legged stool, what you have is an accident waiting to happen. You just fall over and hurt yourself. But a three-legged stool will support you really well. And the first leg that you have to have in that stool is strategy. Otherwise, you may learn from your mistakes, but it may take time and it may be costly.A three-legged stool will support you really well. And the first leg that you have to have in that stool is strategy. Click To Tweet
So, strategy is how you’re going to do this, what you’re going to do. Design is what it’s going to look like, how it’s going to grab people. So the marketing piece, is it the media through which you direct your message or is it something else?
Marketing is the effectuation of that campaign. And so in strategy, we may say, our goal is to get a whole bunch more listeners onto a podcast as an example. Okay, so we’ve developed a strategy, we’ve set some metrics, and now we’re going to run that campaign. And so the campaign is going to take a whole bunch of different places, kind of like a flow chart. We’re going to fill up the flow chart with that. And then every box in that flow chart has to look attractive in its individual way that appeals to the person who will find it there, and that is design.
And the different boxes is the marketing. It’s essentially the channels that you’re going to use to spread the message and the timing and the structure of the message, perhaps?
Channels is the word. So I write a 1,500-word blog post twice a month. We put it on the blog. We send it out in an email, reference it in social. We will do a roundup email twice a month as well. So there are various places that we’re sharing it. When I’ve done speaking and it winds up on YouTube, as I’ve done for universities as an example, we will share that YouTube link. You said LinkedIn. So LinkedIn is a great place. And so all of those are part of the marketing campaign.
And then how do you make those individual channels and nodes and the way that you’re connecting them with people, how do you make them stand out? And what I would say is it has to look eye-catching. Like your backdrop is very eye-catching. I did not expect it. And as I said to you before we started, your backdrop makes a statement about you. And what it says to me is you’re invested in me in this conversation. And it’s a very friendly signifier about you. So you try to make an impression and you immediately make an impression. So you understand what I’m talking about. I know it.
Let’s change the subject because I’m going to blush in a minute.
But it’s true, right? It was very thoughtful.
Yeah, I guess. I take the credit, of course. Thank you. No, I appreciate the comment. So Lee, it really grabbed my attention on your website and you said that you craft an identity that is unique to your client. Can you elaborate a little bit about this, what it looks like, what does it mean, crafting an identity? How do you make it unique?
Yes. Four of us here, well, three of us here come from the theater. We’re theater people. And two of us are playwrights. And when you’re a playwright, you hope you’re creating unique characters. So what we do is we kind of put people through a variation of the Socratic method. And then also, I was a newspaper reporter many years ago. The newspaper reporter method of who, what, where, when, why, and how. We have a process for this, which unveils people’s true character in the organization.
And so what we do is we have a process where we gather them together, the senior leadership team. And so sometimes it’s three people, more frequently it’s eight or 10 people in a senior leadership team. We gather them together, we take them through a process that I’ve been using for about 20 years. We ask them lots of friendly questions. We try to break their attachment to old thinking. That’s the counterintuitive part. So we have exercises that help them think about things that they see in their daily life, including a supermarket, think about them in new ways. And then we funnel that down into talking about their organization.
And in the discussion about their organization, we’ll ask them, what do you do, who do you do it for, and all, et cetera. All of their responses are individual, and we have a system that allows us to gather them at the same time, so no one is checking to see what the boss said first. Everybody gets lifted up, nobody gets criticized, because in brainstorming, you want to keep people open, you don’t want to shut them down.
And then what happens is, what you find out over the course of that session is that there’s a lot of internal agreement about what that organization is and what it does and who it’s for, but they have never coalesced it into a single message. And so that’s what we do. We take all of that together, and we’ll ask them some other questions. What color would it be? Do you have adverbs that would describe it? How would it sound? What would it taste like, things like that. And then you wind up with actually a lot of agreement, enormous agreement about what the organization actually is, but no one had expressed it before.
And from that then we write a one-page positioning document. And the one-page positioning document is the story of that company. And if they agree on that, agree that, yes, that is the story of their company and we’ve had great success with this, then we go from there. And okay, now we understand the story of this company, how do we reflect that in a tagline, in a logo, in design, in branding? How do we put that campaign out? Because I have met certainly tens of thousands of people in my life, and I like people. I generally like people.
There are very few people I don’t like and I’m trying to find the goodness in them. Everyone I have met in my life is unique. And I work with all different sorts of organizations and there is something that makes them each special and unique. And our goal is to help them define that and then to spread the word about that and match it up with the people who would care the most and therefore buy from them or donate to them or help them in their mission.
That’s really cool. You know, in EOS we do something similar. I think it’s a simplified approach, but we call it the three uniques. So what are the differentiators that in combination differentiate your organization from all the others in the eyes of the ideal client? But it seems like you are starting from a different direction. You start from the individuality of the organization and then you go to the market. So that’s my next question. It’s a great segue here. When you say that you find the ideal market for your customers and you figure out what it takes to align them to the customer, how does that work? How do you do that?
Well, so there are a couple of ways. The people who are already with the organization have some sense of who they are the right fit for. We all do. But they haven’t really talked about it. And so our own company here, when we were going through this repositioning exercise end of last year, we had not done that work in a while. And it was only when we put up a list of a whole bunch of clients of the past five years that my partner actually was able to lasso in and say, you know, when you put a lasso around these, these are the best clients who we have the most success for.
This is really where we succeed the most. And our goal is to make a positive impact. And so that helped drive that for us. So the one answer is you look at the people you’ve succeeded with and how you could succeed more, and then you also look at market need. Where are there needs that you feel that haven’t been met? How does that match up? Because everybody has a resource bucket.
Here’s something that people reflexively say, I don’t have any money, so I can’t do that. You hear that so frequently, Steve. We don’t have any money, we don’t have any funding for that, we can’t do that. And I call that lack mentality. Why would we focus on what we lack? Why wouldn’t we say, I need to do this. How do I get, what do I have that I could use to do that? Or how do I get what I need so that I could do that? And so when I started my theater company in 1992, I reached out to eight people and asked them for $1,000 each. That was it.
And seven of them sent me $1,000 each and one sent $500. It’s all he could do. And 29 years later, we’re still in business. What I did not do was say, oh no, I don’t have the money to start this theater company. How are we doing this? Because the goal was to open. The goal was not ever about the money. The goal was to open. Because once we could open, we could get it going. And that’s why you always start with a strategy. What are you trying to achieve? How could you achieve it? I’m gonna show you a note on my desk I look at every day.
Direct and upbeat. And if you practice directness and upbeatness, which is positivity, people respond to positivity, they want to accomplish things, everybody wants to be part of success. And if we would stop having our first question be, or our first reply being, I don’t have this, so I can’t do that, and turned it into, here’s what I want to do, how could I do that? We would all achieve more success.Practice directness and upbeatness, which is positivity, people respond to positivity, they want to accomplish things, everybody wants to be part of success. Click To Tweet
I agree. You basically have to assume that you’re gonna find a way. There is a way, it just needs to be found. That’s right. And then you ask the question that’s gonna help you get there. I totally agree with this approach, but I’m still interested in how do you align this customer? So you have this customer, you came up, you crafted their character, you expressed their individuality, and they have a sense of their target market that they wanna go after. How do you make that customer aligned to the target market? What does it look like?
So in terms of the services that we provide, we certainly do marketing campaigns, we do social media, we do websites. There are many tools at your disposal. We do a lot of design, annual reports, and et cetera. And so, depending on the goal, we will look at where the people that they need are. Sometimes we will do a digital partnership for some advertorial to link them up online. Sometimes we’re a big believer in content strategy, that they have some area of expertise that they could put out.
I really believe in expertise and putting it out. And everyone I know is really good at something. So whatever organization, client, company we’re working with, they’re really good at something. How can they engage with more people? I’ll give you an example. So one of our private sector clients does pet supplies. They’re the nicest people. And you know, we don’t talk about it, but during this pandemic, pets have been really important.
Pets have given… I would get choked up talking about pets. My wife and I have two dogs. We love our dogs. Dogs give so much joy and comfort to people, and it’s been really important during this pandemic. So I know what our client is doing with that. And so we’ve run contests for them of send in photos of your dog or cat or some other pet and we’ve run fun contests like that, ways to engage with people. We try to put out information about how to care for your pet and then how to improve your pet’s life with you and such forth.
Those are the ways that we’re spreading the message about our client’s expertise and then also how to enjoy your life with your pet even more. I know how important that has been to some people, because when you look at the metrics of how involved they get with the pet brand, you understand that the pet is an important family member, much loved family member, and they’ve never needed or loved that pet more than right now.
Pets are much loved and very little troublesome family members. So, they are no maintenance and always loving. They are great. So, I’m going to steer you back to this topic again. So when you created that alignment, so you articulated that persona of your client, which is kind of interesting. It’s counterintuitive because normally a company’s marketing firm starts with figuring out the client persona.
Now you start with the persona of your client that is going to attack the market. You kind of blend it into the, you align them yourself to whatever the market needs in terms of communication. And then you say, you then create a high-performance marketing machine. And that really triggered my curiosity. What does it look like? I mean, who doesn’t want a high-performance marketing machine? I think that’s a very attractive idea. But put some meat on the bone here. What does that look like?
It’s about constant process improvement. And I am, you know, my business partner and some other people here are aces at process and process improvement. We’ve got a guy here who has set up a project management office. These folks really know how to work process. And this is why I’m no longer doing any of that because I’m hopeless. But I will tell you, I can give you a broader view of some of this.
So let’s say that you’re driving a high performance car, eight cylinder, maybe even 12 cylinder. If you’re driving a 12 cylinder Jaguar, right? One of those beautiful old Jaguars. And it’s running on 11 cylinders, 10 cylinders. You can not only hear it, but you can feel it. And what’s going to happen here, so if you don’t pay attention to that, it gets worse and worse. And what happens is you stop enjoying the ride. And if you have one of those Jaguars, you’ve spent a lot for that ride and a lot for maintaining that ride.
And so you either get it tuned up or you go get a new car, because at some point, you’re going to be on the side of the road with it. So, if you have a 12-cylinder and you’re using 11 cylinders, you’ve lost 8%, right? But it feels like a lot more than 8%. So, even a 1% process improvement makes a huge gain. And so, we have our L10 meetings here through EOS. We have our leadership meeting on Thursday. We have other departmental meetings throughout the week.
Our sales and marketing meeting, which I’m also in, is on Tuesdays. We’ll look at why things worked, why things didn’t work, why did it take so long? That’s a frequent question of mine. Why did this take so long? Or where is this going? Or why are we doing this? Just to check in on it. How can we make it a little better? One of the things we’ll do with clients, so let’s say that clients, are you getting a lot of leads or donors or are you getting few, right? If you’re getting few, you have an awareness and marketing problem. If you’re getting a lot and making no sales, you have a sales problem. And so you track down where this sort of thing goes. And I will tell you how we tackle that to start.
Frequently, it’s a human error. If something came in and someone didn’t act on it. And so we will diagram it when we’re meeting in person, which we hope to get back to soon, we’ll diagram it up on the wall. So when a lead comes in, what happens? And then what happens? And then what happens? And you diagram it. And at some point, everybody looks at each other because nothing happened and we circle it in red.
And then where did the lead come from? Who did it go to? How was it worked? Or did it all come to this place and you can get this in analytics and then no sale happened? Ah, it’s that page. It’s that landing page. It’s that place where people didn’t convert. We will pay attention there. And so again, Again, somewhat like our Socratic method of unveiling identity, what we do with this is we are pinpointing where the problem areas are through this process of asking questions and tracking to try to find where it is, and then you just fix it.
You say, okay, well, in this area here, could Bill have called them back or answered the phone or such? And I will give you an example. Some years ago, we were driving millions of dollars of leads for a client. And the client called up and said, we’re going to end the campaign because it’s not working. And we said, what do you mean? We’re sending you millions of leads, yeah, but I don’t have any sales. And so I said, what’s your sales sold one rate? What’s the rate at your close rate?
And he didn’t know, and I said, call me back, or I can help you figure that out. He called me back and he said, it’s 8%. I said, oh, so I send you a million dollars and you close only 80%, 80,000? So I said, let me take a look at your sales process and see if I’m not a genius, right? And if you came to my office, you would find things I can fix. So I go in knowing these are good people who’ve just made mistakes, right? We all make mistakes. And I go in and here’s what I find out. All of their leads are going nowhere.
They have no system for accepting leads, no system for tracking leads. They just wind up in their email bins and sometimes three weeks later, they’ll respond to a lead and then they never respond again because they worked it and they deleted it. And I’m like, you’re losing millions of dollars of revenue by doing this. Why don’t we fix this for you? So that’s what we did. And again, friendly, direct, upbeat, trying to be problem solvers and help people.
Okay, well, don’t we all need that. So, what about this marketing for now approach that you talk about on your LinkedIn page?
We all have to be careful not to get stuck in the past, a little bit of pain, right? And I have my fond feelings of my past in college with friends and such, right? But you have to be forward-looking. The times I grew up in are over. We’re in this time now. And by the way, today’s Thursday or today’s Wednesday, Tuesday is over. We cannot be acting as though it’s Tuesday. And the human brain, by the way, is conditioned to stay in the past. That’s why this happens, because from an evolutionary perspective, we survived in the past.
We were alive then and we’re still alive, so the past was good. But that doesn’t work so well in the 21st century because things change rapidly. And so you have to always be looking ahead. And I tell clients, the high-performance race car drivers who win speed up into the curve Most people they come to the car and by the way, Steve while you’re driving around, please slow down going into the curve But you pick it up and my wife goes crazy when I do that. I love the feeling, you know what? You are you are like me because my wife my wife will go like that, okay.
So entrepreneurs know, thank you, you speed up into the curve because you come out faster. And so in this economy, everyone should be speeding up because the better economy is coming and we’re speeding up here as well, by the way. But your brain is wired to say, oh, no, things are bad, let me not do that. And so you have to be focused on the immediate future and the longer term future, and you have to be heading there every day. And so when we say marketing for now, that’s what we mean. We mean that we’re marketing you for now, we’re not adapting what we did yesterday. We’re focused on right now for you and your present day and your immediate future because change has gotten faster and faster and will continue to do so.
I really agree with you. And this is why I hired a marketing agency last week, because I realized that however much I read about marketing, it’s always going to be historic because I’m not in the market. I don’t experience what’s happening in real time. So even if it did make sense for me to do anything, which it doesn’t, because I have better things to do, it’s worthwhile tapping into the resource of someone who knows how it’s done going forward. What are the latest trends? What is the latest techniques? How do what do people respond to and tap into it? So I totally relate to that.
Many years ago, a colleague said to me because I was building a new theater. We were going to build a new theater. He was my board chair at the time. And I come from a family of builders. So I wanted to be part of building the theater. And he said to me, Lee, if you are the best lawyer in Los Angeles and the best window washer, what do you do? And I said, I know, don’t be a window washer. And he said, no, don’t split your focus. And I never forgot that. And see, you’re smart enough to know you should be focused on what you do and what you’re good at and you should weigh in on your marketing, but you’re better off being marketed by someone else. So you didn’t split your focus.
Well, I’m not splitting my focus, but I have to tell you that I have a client who is in the nonprofit space and I’m struggling a little bit about how to help them because they are different for profit company and they have different needs. You know, to round up this discussion, I’d like to ask you about the social impact. You mentioned that you measure social impact, you create campaigns that create the social impact. Give me some examples of what kind of social impacts are your nonprofit clients go after and how do you measure it?
Right. So we have some higher education clients. In that case, they’re looking for enrollment. By the way, the students are all in programs that the world needs more of. I mean, really impressive stuff. We did a campaign in support of the Los Angeles River last year about how people can participate and access funding for their communities to beautify the river. So our hope with that campaign, because we know that we spread a lot of awareness about it, was that we will see areas of the LA River improved. You will have visible proof of the campaign.
So that’s pretty exciting. Some of our clients need to make a better impact. They need to get wider recognition of the success of their programs. So one is a very important jobs and housing program for disadvantaged youth. And so for them, what we want is we want to make that point right away to help them get additional funding so people can see, oh wow, my money is well spent here. It welcomed people into the economy. You know, we would all be better off if more people were actively vibrant in the economy and get them some housing. Housing is a major issue in California.
And so if we can help them make that point very quickly, they should be able to get more funding to develop even more housing and create more jobs. So depending on the client, we set the goals very differently. Sometimes it’s donorship, sometimes it’s awareness, sometimes it’s out in the community visible impact regarding homelessness or beautification, pollution. It really depends on the client and the goals of what their specific mission is and how to help them.
Yeah, okay, that’s good. So that’s some good ideas for me to work with. Thank you for that. So Lee, if my listeners would like to get in touch with you or learn more about what you do, explore the stuff that you’re involved with, where should they go?
Well, they can find me on LinkedIn, at Lee Wochner. And I would love it if they would go to the Counterintuity website and check us out and download the white paper. It’s a four-minute read, Steve. We know people are busy. We timed it. It should take no more than four minutes to read it to help people get more engaged with your marketing. And we put it up there to try to be helpful.
That’s very valuable. So they can just go on the website, they download that white paper, and then they basically get a sense of what you can deliver for them?
That’s awesome. All right, well, Lee Wochner, and I mispronounced your name. I pronounced it the German way, I’m sorry.
Sounds so good, I love that.
I said Vockner, but it’s Wochner. So great to have you visit the show. And you brought some counterintuitive answers to some questions. So thank you for that. And for my listeners, please stay tuned because another, maybe not as counterintuitive as Lee, but a good entrepreneur is going to come next week. And I’ll ask some probing questions there too. Thank you.
Steve, I appreciate it. I think you’re just wonderful and it’s been a great joy.
- Pinnacle: Five Principles that Take Your Business to the Top of the Mountain
- Lee’s LinkedIn
- Lee’s Website
- Lee’s Marketing Whitepaper
- Steve’s soon-to-be-published book
- Steve’s blog