Aderson Oliveira: I had a great conversation with Anfernee Chansamooth. He is the founder of Simple Creative Marketing, which is a company that offers outsourced CMO services to time-constrained business owners. At the beginning of the conversation, he shared with us a story of how he moved from a 9 to 5 corporate job to doing his own business. Just a hint, it has to do with brain surgery. He went on to explain what a virtual CMO is and how to select the right one for your business. He also said that outsourcing is great, but you have to make sure that everybody involved is on the same page so expectations can be met properly.
Hello, hello, Aderson Oliveira here. This is another interview for the OuchSourcing Podcast where I talk to business owners, to experts, to business consultants, to people like you and me about outsourcing and all around the subject of doing that, and how to make that process easy for us. Today, I have with me another expert. His name is Anfernee Chansamooth. I got this right, I hope, Anfernee. He is the founder of Simple Creative Marketing, which is a company that provides a service called outsourced CMO for time-poor business owners. Anfernee, thank you very much for being here.
Anfernee Chansamooth: Thanks for having me, Aderson.
Aderson: I love how you described there, time-poor business owners. I love that expression. To be honest, I haven't seen that expression before, but I love that. What are you saving for your clients?
Anfernee: Really, there's two major issues that my clients face. One is they are usually the directors, CEOs, founders of fast-growth businesses. We're talking $250,000 to maybe $3 million in revenue per year. How they got there isn't necessarily what they need to get to the next stage of their business, and what the issue looks like is they get overwhelmed when it comes to marketing. So, they don't have the knowledge, the expertise. What they did that got them there, maybe, was word-of-mouth, maybe it was just a really great service, and that got a ton of referrals.
But then, what they realized is that if they want to grow to a larger organization, they're going to need some additional help, and typically, they usually have a virtual assistant, or a PA, and that person doesn't have the marketing skills, so then they're kind of feeling overwhelmed by just too much going on, and too many projects to juggle.
That's just marketing alone. We're not even talking about the rest of what they need to do, which is operations, sales, customer service, all these other things they need to be doing, and that means that they're very time-stretched, so they don't have a lot of time to be doing social media, writing blog posts, reaching out to partners, getting them on your podcasts, and interviews like this, getting them onto stages, and events, and thinking about the next promotional campaign. So, they actually need to bring in someone to, essentially, project manage all of that, and that is traditionally the role of the chief marketing officer in a traditional business.
Now, traditional chief marketing officer role, if your client has someone full-time to come into your business, it may cost you, at least in Australia or in the U.S., anywhere from $70,000 a year up to $250,000 a year depending on their expertise and their credentials. A lot of small businesses in that initial growth phase, they don't have that kind of money. So, this outsource CMO is really a solution to that problem, which is, "How do I hire someone with the expertise to drive my marketing and build my systems and processes and my team capacity, but not have to pay that kind of investment when I don't have it just yet?"
How this particular service works is you essentially can hire someone with that skill set at a fraction of the cost. So, typically around a third of the cost, and that person will work in your business part-time. So, I'm working in my clients' businesses some three hours a week, and I have one I'm doing for one day a week. We do that for an extended term, so usually 12 months, and the goal, really, is to build the capacity of the business, documenting all the processes and systems, getting as much automation in there as possible, and also training up their VAs and someone to essentially replace me. My goal is to make myself redundant within 12 months, if that makes sense.
Aderson: Okay, so Anfernee, I think that we jumped too quickly here to the nitty gritty details of outsourcing, and I want to step back for a second. Let's hold our thought there on the outsource CMO, but I would like to have people knowing a little bit more about you. So, go about to about 10 years ago when you decided to move from your corporate job to your new life. Give us a summary of that time, and try to do that within a minute or so. Give us a snapshot of what happened to you back then.
Anfernee: That's a really tough challenge, and let's see what we can do in a minute. 10 years ago, I was working as a project manager in a Fortune 500. Hewlett-Packard, many people would know. They make printers, and PCs, and things like this, and I'd been in the company for about six years, and moved from being someone taking customer support calls into becoming a manager of a team of 10, and then eventually becoming a global project manager and working on projects across three global centers.
At that time, I was dealing with a lot of high-pressure implementation projects, working sometimes 14, 16-hour days, and then traveling to India. I went to India in 2006 three times that year for our what we call Go-Live implementation projects, and my role was to facilitate training for the team there and also quality assurance to make sure that our processes were being standardized across multiple regions.
There was a lot of work involved in that, a lot of stress, and not a lot of sleep. That eventually led to me in the hospital for two months with an infection in my brain, which is called Cryptococcus gattii, for those who are interested, and that put me out of commission. I was at the threat of either going blind or losing my mobility from that surgery, and I had no choice, had to do it.
I went through that and I spent the next, I'll say, two months recovering and really thinking about what I wanted to do with my life. I was relatively young, still had my career ahead of me, saved some money in the bank account, had just bought a new home, and then had a mortgage on that, and just was wondering, "Is this what life's about?" I was single, I'd been single for four years, and I was having some family issues as well, which I won't go into. But, just everything was starting to crumble around me, and that ended up with me sitting, lying in a bed in the hospital looking up at the ceiling wondering what went wrong.
I made a decision to do something meaningful with my life, and not waste all my money on alcohol, and bars, and going out and all these things, and really look at meaning and finding meaning in my work, and helping do things that I would be proud of or my grandkids would be proud of one day. So, that's when I made a decision to book a one-way ticket to Toronto, got my passport, bought that flight, and ended up -- I actually got a transfer within that company to Toronto, negotiated that, and then about a year after I arrived, the GFC, global financial crisis, happened, and I was made redundant from that role.
Then, I was pretty much in a situation where I was thinking, "What do I do?" because I've used up most of my savings. By that time, I had some money in the bank from the company, but I still needed to pay my rent, and living expenses, and everything else, and I was in a precarious situation where the visa I was on, I could not go and get another job at another company. So, I had to get creative, so to speak, and my housemate at the time suggested to me, "Well, I've been wanting to be teaching salsa dancing at a local school, at a local church," and she said, "Why don't you just do salsa lessons out of our living room?" and I did that.
I actually went to Meetup.com down this website, put up a Meetup group, and called it "Beginner Salsa Toronto", and within two weeks, I had 200 new members, and then I pursued our first event, if you will. You know, beginner salsa lesson, pay what you want, come to this address. I didn't tell them it was my house because I didn't want to freak people out. Then, I had five students come in, and they paid whatever they could, and it was my first experience of entrepreneurship, if you will. It was my first experience of, "Wow, I could actually do something that I enjoyed and that other people would get value from that and would actually pay me for it," and that kind of led me down a path of becoming a consultant not in salsa dancing. I eventually gave it up, but I did get hired to teach salsa venues around in the city, but whilst I was doing that, I was also learning, skilling myself up on social media, especially in Twitter and Facebook at the time, and I was helping some non-profits.
So, I was volunteering with some non-profits in the city, and helping them with their social media campaigns, and that led to my first consulting gig as a social media professional, a consultant, and then that just, from there, led me into the world of digital marketing and spending a lot more time over the next seven years really exploring that and getting to where I am today.
Aderson: To be honest, that's awesome because I didn't realize that you have been to Toronto before. You know that I'm in Toronto, don't you?
Anfernee: Yes, I do know that, and love that city. It's my new place, but I don't like the winters, which is why I ran away.
Aderson: I get it. I know the feeling. The feeling is mutual. Okay, great, great. I didn't realize that, and it's very good to know, and we can talk about places where you have been around here later, but not right now. Okay, that's great. You gave us a little bit of perspective on who you became during your process of moving away from a 9 to 5 job back in 2007, 2008, 2009 in that time frame.
Now, let's jump now to the present and let's carry on with the outsourcing and that side of your business. I read a very good article from your blog, and again, Anfernee, you wear many, many different hats, and one of those hats is a writer. Again, you write very well. I read a blog post called "11 Reasons to Add a Virtual Symbol to your Marketing Team". I think it's a good segue to talk a little bit about that, why, and maybe you go through the 11, maybe you just go through a few, but why would you rather have a virtual CMO, an outsourced CMO, instead of hiring someone full-time to help you out in marketing?
Anfernee: To answer that question, let's start with the why would I even think about hiring a CMO, and really it comes down to two primary reasons: one is that the business owner is struggling to find time to do their marketing and focus on marketing because they just have so many priorities and multiple hats, as you say, from trying to grow a team, trying to hire the right people for your team to managing the finances, working with your accountant and your bookkeepers, getting your numbers straight, getting your personal -- a big element here around managing your own mental state, and your mental health, and your physical health as well as you're going through this journey.
Running a business is very stressful. There's this whole movement around everyone wants to be an entrepreneur, or it's cool to be an entrepreneur. I actually called BS on that. I say it's one of the hardest things you can ever do, so let's get real and understand -- to comment on the story when the narrative was shared with me leaving corporate 10 years ago.
Very recently, I was back in corporate because my first business failed. In 2012, I had another business with a partner, a business partner, and we ran that for two years, a Facebook marketing agency, and we were not profitable. I mean, we made revenue and we covered our expenses, but both he and I did not make a salary from that, so we ended up splitting ways and I went back to corporate, because after some real internal angst and a month traveling back to Portland and then to Toronto, because I had a comfort zone, if you will, back in Toronto, and then friends living over there, I needed that support. I went over there and just, "Am I going to do this again and what should I do?"
The decision I made was I need to go back into an environment where I didn't have to stress all about these different decisions, and I could just do my work, develop more skills in marketing, and get paid to do that, and that actually afforded me to have the good lifestyle, and then eventually, that led to me meeting my wife, or who's now my wife, and then building this business on the side, what we call now a side-hustle, right? Just wanted to clarify that for people who listen to this because I don't want to put out this idea that it's easy to do this stuff, because it's not.
Now, having gone through that experience myself in developing my own business, I realized the struggles and frustrations, and also because I worked for another company, and they had a team of 12 distributed across three cities in Australia, and they were making about $3.3 million a year from that business. One of the biggest struggles they had was somebody to drive the marketing. So, that's why they hired me. They basically brought me in full-time as a marketing lead, and I learned through that process if this business is having that issue, other small businesses -- it was a coworking space, so I ran the marketing for one of Australia's largest coworking communities, and their client was experiencing problems too.
Coming back to your question, Aderson, it's about time and money. As a founder, you want to bring someone in who has marketing expertise, who can lead your marketing, but you don't want to hire someone full-time because you don't have $70,000 to $250,000 to invest in that person right now, the business is not at that stage. The other issue is you don't have the time to actually focus on the marketing because you have to focus on everything else. So, what do you do?
In recent years, in the last five years, there's been the rise of what's called the virtual CFO, the chief financial officer, so that's a lot of people in accounting offering that service. Basically, they step in as a part-time or an outsourced financial officer for the business. Now, what we're seeing is the rise of the virtual CMO, the chief marketing officer.
This is becoming a trend at the moment, and I've jumped in on that because I realized that my business started off being a content service in providing -- we have a team of outsourced writers. We're a team of writers that write blog articles and whatnot for our clients, and then I realized by working with those clients that they didn't have a marketing strategy, and they didn't know what to do with the content after it was produced. So, they were starting to complain about, "Hey, we've been writing all these great blog articles and things for us, but it doesn't seem to be doing anything for our business," and I had to say, "Wait up, hold up, let's have a conversation and see what's going on," and I realized that they didn't have the marketing strategy, but they did know how to develop the marketing strategy.
We did that first, and then once we did that, then I realized that actually I didn't have anyone who had the ability to lead to help their teams or help introduce systems and tools to automate a lot of the marketing that they needed. So, that naturally and organically led to me saying, "Well, why don't I just step into your business for 12 months and do that for you, and I'll charge you a fraction of the price?" which is typically a third of the cost of a full-time chief marketing officer, and it gives them access to someone with the expertise like myself, but at a non-full-time commitment. It's usually a few hours a week and for 12 months at a time. That's the way it works.
Aderson: Let me ask you this, Anfernee, is the virtual CMO, the outsourced CMO a hands-on position or it's more of a planning and then, "Here is the plan, and you take it, and you execute with your team"? Tell me a little bit about that.
Anfernee: Great question, Aderson, and it varies depending on who's delivering or offering the service, because I have done some competitor analysis before I launched this to see what was on the market, and there's no standard offering, if you will. It depends on which business is offering it. To use my business as an example, we have a content writing team, therefore if the client requires content writing and content production, we have the team to do it. So, I can say, "Well, that's easy," and the fee for that is separate to the CMO fee.
I'll make it very clear to the business owner, what I'm saying is, "Look, you're hiring me for my brain, essentially, and to help you formulate the strategy, but then also, because I have the project management skill set, I'm also going to do project management on all the different campaigns and different elements of your marketing strategy that we developed together," and usually what that looks like is they would have -- one of my requirements is they have at least the VA on the team who can do a lot of the admin work behind marketing, like putting posts on social media and scheduling emails to go out, and that kind of stuff. You don't need a high-level marketing person to do that, okay? A lot of it is just repetitive tasks that can be outsourced to the VA. So, what I do is I come in and help develop the training material to train the VA up, and then that way, I'd also train the VA using videos or one-on-one or whatever it may be.
Now, there are some services, actually, within that marketing plan that I need to deliver myself. I am actually doing the work, like I'm setting up landing pages. Like, right now, last night, I was doing a website audit and a website review for one of my clients, and we're looking at their kind of website and what can be changed and tweaked for better conversion, and we're recommending to their web designer and developer to make those changes. In some circumstances, I'm developing marketing collateral for the business, or sales collateral, and I will go out.
The team that I bring, not only do I bring a content team, but I bring a bunch of suppliers, a group of suppliers that I've trusted and vetted that I've spent a lot of time and energy making sure that I find people that I trust that can deliver great work, and I have access to this network of people that I can leverage at any point in time, and I would say, "Well, if we need a graphic designer for this project at this point in time, I'm going to call on this person," Colleen, for example, my project designer, I would go to Colleen, and say, "Colleen, can you give us a quote for this job?" she'll give me a quote, I'll pass that back to.
I manage the budget that the business has that's allocated for marketing, I say to the business owner, "This is what it's going to cost for this SEO consultant, or this social media agency, or this PR person," whatever it is, and then the business owner has the final decision-making step, and they will say yay or nay, and they will let me know, "Maybe, we'll go and find someone at a lower price point or better skill set or whatever." I'm really managing that whole marketing side of the business, but also, yes, I do also implement what I can.
But, when I come across things I'm not the expert in, so if you were to ask me to go and spend a whole day on analytics and breaking down your analytics, I would probably say, "No, that's not the best use of my time and your investment in me. It's better if I find an expert in that area and we just pay them to do that." Does that answer your question, Aderson?
Aderson: It does, and what you're really saying is that, again, there's no standard in the market for that, and some things, you do hands-on, and you do it yourself, some things, you count on your team to help you out, and some things you actually refer other experts to fulfill that part of the marketing strategy. For instance, if I would ask about Facebook advertisement, would that be you and your team doing that, would it be someone else that you would recommend?
Anfernee: Absolutely, so we have two Facebook advertising agencies that we work with, and they offer different services at different price points. So, I would present both of those, I would go to both of those with the project and say, "Okay, this is what we're trying to achieve, how much is it going to cost and how would you price that?" and I would go back to our CEO and say, "These are your options," and what I've just done now is saved them a whole bunch of time trying to do that themselves, and in many cases, they don't even know who to go to. They would just Google "Facebook advertising agency" and then they're going to get overwhelmed with 20 or 100 different options. They just want someone who already has the connections to say, "Look, just pick one or two, that's it, and here's our budget. Go run with it."
Aderson: I get it. You have your preferred vendor list, pretty much, the list of vendors that you trust. Let me ask you this, Anfernee, do you work mostly with local businesses or with remote business as well?
Anfernee: We predominantly work with remote businesses only because it's an easier sell and they understand the outsource model a lot more. In most cases, a lot of these businesses are already working with outsourced staff, where which they have a virtual assistant, or it's a content writer, or someone running Facebook ads, as you say.
So, it's easier for us to come in and say, "Well, you're building a business," and that's also where my capability is, because like I said, I've worked for two years as a marketing lead for a distributor team. Even though they had local offices in Sydney, Melbourne, and Adelaide, the team was distributed across those three cities, so there were 12 staff, and we were using tools like Slack to communicate, and we were, for the most part, running our team meetings on webinars and not physically in a room together.
Because I had that expertise, it just makes sense for me to work with companies that resemble that, and all my clients -- well, one client is a financial advisory based in Sydney, and they've been writing for about 20 years now, but the way we work together is completely online. I'm in Malaysia right now; he's in Sydney. We do our calls through Zoom, and all the implementation work, I do whilst I'm here completely online, and he's helping me do his digital footprint. So, it's also about booting up his digital marketing, his website, his opt-in, his email nurture sequences, and getting him onto the right email tools, and that kind of stuff.
That's what, basically, I prefer working with: businesses that are either fully online or are moving towards an online model that works within our strengths, and we want to make sure we're working with the right client that can get us the best and we can help them get the best result.
Aderson: Let's try to get a better feel, Anfernee, of how a week working with a client, working with one of your outsourced CMO clients, how the week would look like working with you. Tell me a little bit about the dynamics that goes on. Are there meetings, are there checkpoints? What does it look like, a week working with you as an outsourced CMO?
Anfernee: Great question. Essentially, what that looks like is I will allocate my schedule. I have four clients that I'm working with right now as an outsourced CMO and I've pretty much hit my capacity to be able to take on any more clients. I'm spending, for each client, anywhere between three to six hours each per week on that particular client, and how that looks like is we set up a weekly work-in-progress meeting, so that runs within 30 minutes over Zoom, enough to check in with the client, and it's really giving them an update on where we're at with our marketing strategy, and the plan that we've put together.
When we start the engagement, I actually take them through a strategic planning session. You see it run for about two hours, and I get very clear on their brands, their value proposition, who their target audiences are, what tools they already have in place, where the gaps are in their marketing, and any priorities that they have, and goals that they're trying to achieve. One of my clients right now, his goal is to get 50 new clients in the next 12 months for his business, and it's actually a repositioning of the business. So, I'm helping with the rebrand but also attracting the new type of clientele to that business and building up all the digital assets to do that.
I've allocated three hours a week for that particular business. Within that three hours, 30 minutes of that time is spent meeting with the clients. But, my goal is to not waste time in meetings. I just hate meetings. I come from corporate, so there's a lot of waste in meetings. So, I don't like to replicate that in the startup or the business world. So, in that 30 minutes, it's more of a, "What are the blocks that we have, what are the approvals that I require to move the project forward? Any discussion around budget, and any person certified at this point in time."
I would then use that time just for an update, if you will, and then the rest of the time, I'm actually in the business implementing. So, whether I'm putting together a next campaign, or I'm reaching out to suppliers and trusted vendors, or I'm, like I said -- for one client, I'm mapping out their whole email marketing series, automated email marketing. I use a visual tool to do that. So, I just spent an hour going through it and broadening it out for the client, and also not only for the client, for the VA and the other people who are going to help us implement it, and then just sent that to a copywriter yesterday, and the copywriter will then go and write all the emails.
I'm actually doing the work, if you will, in that three hours, and each week, with the client, we come to an agreement of, "I've basically mapped out here are the two or three key actions that need to happen each week over the next three months." We do 90-day cycles, and then I have the client approve it, and then that's what I'm speaking to every single week, and then I'm doing a status update at the end of time. At the end of my three hours, I send an email to the client saying, "Here are the things that I've done today," and just to let them know the progress update, and I'll also put in that, "Here are some challenges or blocks that I'm coming up against where I need your support," and then we bring that into meeting the next meeting. That's how the engagement works.
Aderson: It makes sense. Now, there is a cliché question or cliché point that I want to make here, but how are you able -- again, I don't know if you are worried about that, but I'm going to ask that anyway. How are you able to scale that format, that model, because it seems to rely a lot on you personally, on your time, on your three hours? Tell me a little bit about that. How do you scale that?
Anfernee: You can't; it's not a scalable model. Essentially, the business relies on my expertise. Same as the virtual CFO, same deal. The business owner or the business it's paying for and investing in, that human asset, that human resource. It's not scalable at all, which is why I said I'm at capacity now, about four clients and I can't take any more because I'm also managing the other part of my business, which is the content service.
Now, the content service, I've designed that to be scalable, because the way that works is, really, I've got a team, and a process, and a system. So, when a new client comes onboard, they move through everything from an automated questionnaire to then getting to my VA who then assigns and works with the writers, and has a process that they follow to follow up with the client, and the writers, and the editors to get all the jobs done. That's much more of a scalable model for a business than the CMO service.
But, financially, the CMO service brings more revenue to the business because it's a much more in-demand and less competitive service, even though there are more going through CMOs now and outsourced CMO coming into the market, and that's okay because there's more than enough of us to support all the businesses that are out there.
Aderson: Of course, and you brought a good point there. There are more CMOs, outsourced CMOs, virtual CMOs out there. If someone is watching this and they have the intention to hire a virtual CMO, and you cannot accept any more, and I know how great you are, but they may have to go to another option out there. How would you recommend, for a business owner, to evaluate, to assess a potential virtual CMO.
Anfernee: That's a great question, and I've got some various blog posts on this topic on my blog, so I would recommend that's the first starting point for people to go and read like the one you talked about, deliveries, add a CMO to your team, but let me give you some breakdown in what I would recommend. First of all, look at your own business, and let me just break down a bullet point, if you will, whiteboard it: what are your marketing requirements and understanding what are your gaps. So, what are you strong at? Some business owners are naturally good at marketing or they're really skilled at marketing.
One of my clients is a former director for a caller in Australia. He did that for about 15 years, and then he left to start his own business, and he's strong in marketing. But, the problem is when you are running your own business, sometimes, because there's so much going on, that skill set that you have, you kind of have to leave it part for a while so you can focus on other areas, and you get stronger at leadership, you get stronger at different things.
I would be looking at, as the business owner, what are your strengths, and what are your weaknesses, and then look at what weaknesses that you have in marketing that you're trying to fulfill? Not all CMOs are created equal and not all founders are created equal, so you need to then look at, "Okay, what I really need is someone who can help me with --" For example, maybe it's SEO that I need help with, or Facebook ads, or I need help with these specific things, and then what you're looking for is a specialist in one particular area that you're looking to grow in, but also a generalist who can manage the other areas.
Typically, this is what happens with CMOs anyway is you'll find that they're skilled in one area already and then they just have the capability and the network, or the trusted suppliers who can fill in the rest. Using me as an example, I'm great at content. I have a background as a writer, so I write, and I write proposals, and I write blogs, and I write emails, and other things. So, I know all about that content world, but you ask me about SEO, I'm not your guy. I'm going to fall flat. You ask me to run your Facebook ads, even though I had a Facebook ads business, my business partner was stronger at that, and that was his strength.
It's almost like thinking about your ideal partner, where you sit down, you write down, "Well, what are the 5 or 10 things I want in my partner?" you're doing the same with your CMO. You're going to write down what are the traits that you're looking for, what are the skills and capabilities, what's the experience that I'm looking for? Am I okay with someone who's only doing this for a couple years, or am I looking for someone who's had 10 years of experience running as a CMO inside a large corporate organization?
Then, also, what's my budget. How much am I willing to invest in this? As a sort of ballpark figure for a lot of businesses, small businesses, we recommend at least allocating 10% of your revenue to marketing, and that's going to include the cost of hiring someone as well. Beyond that then, I would say, "Do your research to find three or four different CMOs that are out there and then actually go and interview with them." So, most of them will offer some kind of strategy call or something like that to understand your business and what you need help with. Do that with multiple respected CMOs.
You're essentially kind of baiting these people for a bit, then you're working out, "Well, do they have what I'm looking for against my checklist, but also, do we have that connection where we actually get along and we can work together, and I can trust, and if I had the ability to hire them full-time, I would?" That's a very important thing to think about because they're someone that you're entrusting with your business and your marketing, and also your passwords, and your marketing spend, and all these different things. You want to make sure you put the right person on board and also understand what are the terms of engagement.
The way that I structure it is I say to the client, "Okay, the engagement is four months, but you pay monthly." Because I understand cash flow is a challenge for the business, so I'm not going to say to you, "Pay me $35,000 up front," because I don't know what businesses can do that. So, I'm going to say, "Well, you pay monthly, and at any point in time, you're allowed to say, 'This isn't working. Let's end the contract.'" Basically, he'll be de-risked and letting them understand that they're in control, which is important for the CEOs.
You want to make sure you're engaging other potential CMOs that understand how they work, because if they say it's you, "I need you to commit for 12 months," then that might not be the right person for you. But, if you can do it and you want to do it, then that's more security for you, then go and do it. It really depends on what the business owner wants.
Aderson: Anfernee, one of the ways that I think that we learn as business owners, as people in general, is with our mistakes, and problems, and expectations that were not met for some reason, and I would like to ask you if you are open to share with us, maybe, a problematic problem or situation, and what you have learned out of that. It might have been dealing with a client, it might have been even dealing with an outsource partner that you said that you outsourced as well. Any scenario comes to mind that you want to share with us and the lessons learned from that?
Anfernee: Sure, happy to. Recently, with one of my CMO clients, we had an issue from my side of things what I call scope creep. The client was expecting -- the challenge with the service or the way I present the service is I don't like to work on an hourly basis. I don't like to frame the relationship as, "You're hiring me for eight hours a day or eight hours a week." I never say it that way because I think that devalues the service and it puts the client in a mindset of looking at it as, "If I was to compare three people or three businesses, which one's going to give me a better return on investment?" or whatever.
Coming from my corporate background, I understand that employees spend eight hours in the office, but they're not productive that entire eight hours. A lot of that time, as we talked earlier, is about plenty of times in meetings and wasting times in meetings, going to have a coffee break or a smoke break downstairs, or walking around and talking to other people and not really getting anything done.
For me, what I said to my clients is, "Are you happy with actually just getting the result? We agree to a plan, and if I can execute the result, and I don't necessarily marry that to an amount of time, but it's more around sometimes you're going to do a launch or campaign, for example, it may require that I'm actually doing that work for 12 hours straight. So, if you're okay for me to do that, which means that the following week, I don't do that three hours the following week, because I've used my 12-hour allocation, are you okay with doing that? So, it doesn't really matter if it takes me five hours to do it or two hours to do it, as long as you get the result.
One of the challenges with this is, this one particular client, they came from a corporate background as well, so they were still attached to this time for money exchange thing, and that caused some issue. They gave me some feedback and they said they felt like I did not perform well enough according to what they were expecting of this. This is an early engagement which was a learning process for both me and for the client.
Then, I realized what the problem was. The problem was I had not clearly defined what each activities were going to be each week, and I hadn't done that from the beginning, and I learned from that real fast, which I have applied now with my latest client, and now they're basically road maps here for the next 90 days here, two or three things I'm going to do every single week for you, and this is how you're going to measure up whether or not I'm performing. If I've done these things and you've agreed to them, then there's no confusion around, "What is the work that he's doing? Is he just wasting the time on social media and not doing anything for me?" right?
That was a key learning and that also involved me having some real honest conversations with that client and jumping on a call together and just really discussing, "What are your expectations, what are my expectations, what did we agree to in the proposal, and how can we work together to make sure that we both are meeting what we agreed upon?" So, we've addressed that now, and like I said, the way that we addressed it is I've mapped out now the 90-day period for them, and they can clearly see, "Okay, these are the two or three things he's working on each week."
That's really what it's all about, and from the client's side, to me, being the one who's outsourced writers and other people, VA, whatever else, it comes down to, again, managing expectation, and understanding that whatever you think is the time frame that a project's going to be delivered, chances are that what you're thinking in your mind is you're missing some key points to it, and you kind of have to allow an additional time, if you will, for that to be implemented.
For example, it's I wanted to launch a new course, an online course, to help people with getting around the digital marketing strategy, and I thought, "I'm going to do that in February," and then when I realized that, through the planning process, and having to create the content, and the videos, and all that kind of stuff, and working with outsourcers to do it is that not only am I being too aggressive in my timeline, but it's also that I need to understand that they're being outsourced service providers. They've got other clients that they're managing as well, so they've got time challenges as well, and I need to make sure that my expectations and their expectations are aligned.
That becomes a clear frustration if you don't manage it well. So, it really just means that you need to improve on your communication between you and your client or you and your outsourcer to get clear on what you're agreeing on. So, if you say that you can finish this graphic design for me in the next two weeks, that's fine. But, if you can't meet that deadline, you need to update me and let me know that there's going to be a delay. In most cases, when the communication is clear and timely, then the business owner doesn't stress out too much, because they're aware that that can happen.
But, the issue comes when the outsourcer doesn't communicate effectively enough and is not raising the flag and saying, "Actually, what we thought is going to take two weeks is going to take four weeks." It just helps the business owner plan better. If they've got campaigns, or the marketing manager has a campaign that needs to go out by this date and that the deadline's going to be pushed, they need to know sooner rather than later.
Aderson: It boils down, a lot, to proper communication and in-sync expectations. It really boils down a lot to that. That's a great point there. Anfernee, let me ask you this. We're coming towards the end here. If there's one thing that you'd like people to leave this conversation knowing about, "This is the one thing I want people to know after they listen to this," what is it? What is that one thing from this conversation here today?
Anfernee: I would say the one thing is that outsourcing is a brilliant model, and it does help small businesses, and even larger businesses address concerns and issues like time, money allocation, and things like that, and being able to access to the teams a fraction of the cost, if you will. So, if it can work and it does work really well, but in order for it to work, you need to really get clear on what your expectations are, what you're wanting your outsourcer to do, and then express -- also, within your agreements and your contracts, get very clear on what happens when things go wrong.
How do you manage that when things don't go according to plan, and how do they manage that? One of the questions you should be asking is, "If we're not going to meet a deadline, what does that mean? How are you, as the outsourcer, going to help our business or help me manage that?"
For example, how I address my clients is I say, "If I don't meet a specific deadline for a specific month, I'm giving you another month of outsource CMO at no additional cost so that I could actually complete that for you. What that says to the client is I'm putting with my client first, and it's about doing work to move this forward, and it's not about me necessarily just making money from them. It's really not about that.
So, that would be my key takeaway is just get clear on what you're wanting and get clear on what your engagement looks like. Have that all documented and brought out in the open so there are no doubts and concerns in your mind that you're not expressing.
Aderson: Perfect. Again, coming back to communication to proper expectations here. Anfernee, thank you very much for your time. I really appreciate the time and the knowledge shared in here, but before I let you go, how can people reach out to you, where are you available? Email, social media? Tell me a little bit about where people can find you.
Anfernee: Sure, thanks Aderson. Probably the easiest way to get to me is www.simplecreativemarketing.com. That's one word, and through there, you can access all my social media profiles. I'm somewhat active on LinkedIn, Facebook, and you'll start to see me. I'm actually putting out a lot more content on LinkedIn, so I'm just actually testing the LinkedIn algorithm and how that works, because a lot of my clients are working in the business to business space, so I'm also doing some R&D, if you will, on how LinkedIn works while going into a business. So, that's the way to connect to me. I'm also active on Twitter as well if you guys want to tweet me.
Aderson: Perfect. All the links mentioned by Anfernee and by myself as well on this conversation will be posted in the show notes. So, everything will be there. Anfernee, thank you very much for your time. Again, really appreciate your willingness to share your knowledge, spread the goodwill of outsourcing. Outsourcing, sometimes, has a bad vibe associated with it, but I think it's because of past bad experiences that people had, and again, you are just a great example of an outsourcing provider that does great quality work out there. Thank you very much for your time and bye for now.