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LAIRE Digital's Marketing Founder and Managing Director, Todd Laire, sat down with John Jantsch at Duct Tape Marketing for an episode of the Consulting Spark podcast! Listen below for more about changing the way you engage with your clients by focusing on strategy and not just "the stuff."


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Read the full transcript here.


What You'll Learn

  • How a passion for video production turned into a career in marketing
  • What LAIRE specializes in
  • Why finding a niche is important for an agency’s success
  • Why you need to prioritize strategy over tactics
  • How putting strategy before tactics changes the way you engage with clients
  • Why the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network is so valuable
  • Why a career in marketing can be so rewarding


Where to Get More Information

Curious about how LAIRE can drive results for your business? Get a sneak peek of our process and services with a free marketing assessment. Our experts will discuss your current marketing activities, your goals, and actionable items you can begin implementing today!

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Full Transcript

[00:00:14] Hello and welcome to another episode of the Consulting Spark Podcast. This is John Jantz with Duct Tape Marketing, and my guest today is Todd Laire, CEO and founder of The Laire Group, now LAIRE, somewhere in the hills of North Carolina. So, Todd, thanks for joining me. 

[00:00:31] Thanks for having me, John. Glad to be here.

[00:00:33] Are there really hills? They're just sounded right. 

[00:00:37] There are hills. Yes, not right where I'm at. But yes, they're closely around. 

[00:00:44] So how did you get started in this marketing business? 

[00:00:48] That's a great question. So let me be quick and condensed with it. I have always had a passion for video production and probably, gosh, almost 20 years now, where does the time go, I started a small video production business. This is pre-YouTube and streaming video and Netflix and all that it is that we know today. And that's what I wanted to do as a business. And I quickly found where the perils are of owning a business, and I couldn't really work enough hours to make the kind of money that I wanted to make. And so I started looking for any opportunity that I could take to use my camera and my equipment and my experience, you know, to make an income source out of it. And it led me to small business marketing. Started working with small to midsize companies, mom and pop shops, primarily who wanted video content and that started to develop into more of an online need. As you know, Google started to gain prevalence, and more and more people were using search engines. And, you know, these small businesses wanted to compete, and the only way to really level the playing field with their large competitors was to get on the internet. And so I had more and more requests for an addition to video, getting online and developing a website, and developing email strategy. And I quickly found, you know, for me where the pay dirt was that I could really develop a nice income source. And I was coming out of college with, you know, starting a business, working in small business marketing and then that led to eventually owning an agency. And here I am today. Yeah. 

[00:02:43] So what's the Laire Group, now LAIRE, look like today, then? 

[00:02:46] So today we're an agency of six, including myself. We are digitally focused. So you know, from designing and building websites to crafting and implementing social media strategies to gaining organic SEO or search engine optimization for our clients, whether they're local, you know, trying to promote, let's say, like a dental practice to regional or national as well as content marketing, which is something that we've really been aggressive with in the last, I'd say, two and a half years or so and even have made a goal over the next year to be really proficient in social ads, primarily Facebook ads. Such a tremendous value there. I'm convinced the cost is going to go up and you know, it's, you know, John the reach and the opportunity based on the cost and their overall platform and being able to target, you know, their ideal clients to that platform is really second to none. So that's where we are today. Most of our clients, I would say, are in the professional services area from, I'd say the majority of our clients are in the dental space. Don't ask me how we got there. But you know, coming from a niche marketing perspective, we've really been able to do really well with dental marketing. And that's led to kind of shoulder industries within that market where. We've got a client that brokers dental practices, they help connect buyers and sellers on the dental practice side. We've got another potential client actually I just got off the phone with who is in the dental supply business, so that's been really great for us. But real estate, construction, commercial insurance is a good sample of our, you know, our client base right now. 

[00:04:48] So we met at Social Media Marketing World. Is that right? You saw me speak? Yeah, yeah, yeah. 

[00:04:53] Yeah, three, three years ago, OK. 

[00:04:55] And shortly thereafter you joined the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network. So tell me a little bit about what that has done for the Laire Group, now LAIRE, as we know it today. 

[00:05:08] Well, I would say, you know, I don't know who wants to claim this quote, but I can definitely tell you that I would, you know, if anybody asked me where it came from, I would say John Janssen Duct Tape Marketing. And that is the whole premise around strategy before tactics and when I went to Social Media Marketing World, I went into that event wanting to be an expert or position my consultancy soon-to-be agency as a social media marketing implementation expert. Like we, you know, if a client needs social media marketing posts or social media posts, or maybe some content written, we're their company and, you know, really focused on tactics first, that's all I knew. You know, I really never thought of strategy as an important role in overall marketing. I just thought marketing was tactics. And so I went to that event with some expectation that I would come out of it knowing how to be a better tactical marketer. And I, when I went into that event with some failure, you know, on my mind, I had lost some engagements with some bigger companies that today would go with us in a heartbeat because of our mindset and our focus. But I lost them because I was too focused on tactics, and so I knew something was missing. And so I saw that you were speaking at the event and what you were covering. And I went to it and I realized what the missing piece was, and that was the marketing component or the strategy component to marketing. You know, the strategy determines the plan and the plan drives the tactics. And that completely changed my whole focus and my mindset. And I wanted access to experts. I wanted to learn. I wanted to learn how to be a marketer knowing that I had a, you know, a level of comprehension on how to implement tactics. But I wanted a focus and was just so relieved that you weren't just an author with a book to sell. You were actually really invested in, you know, changing the whole world of marketing and had this consultant at work. And it was just, I mean, I couldn't have been a better fit for it at the time. And even today, I wouldn't change anything. I was really needing that, that network and needing access and wanting to not only talk to you, but talk to others that were leading with strategy before tactics. 

[00:07:51] So, how has that changed your engagements today and maybe even the way you serve your clients? 

[00:07:59] Okay, great question. And you know, really two ways is my answer. One is, you know, and you know this, is so much of the time, you know, a company or a business as we don't have enough sales, we need more revenue where we want to grow. And so what do they do? They think that tactics is the answer. They're going to run AdWords on Google, you know, they're going to run Facebook ads or they're going to start posting on social media with really no plan in place. And so, you know, whether they do it themselves or they hire somebody or hire an agency like I used to have a consultancy like I used to have, you know, they call a vendor, if you will, and say, we want X amount of social media posts, we want any website. Here's how much we're going to pay for it. And here's when we want it done. And you know, a company will gladly take their money and give them what they want, regardless if it's going to be a value to them. And that's what I found myself in in the past. And now I can go to that company and I can talk so much differently than the other vendors that they're talking to. Because the way our process works and a lot of that process I've learned from being in the consultant network is how to set them up to understand the value of a strong marketing plan, that the marketing plan determines the tactics that you're going to use to ultimately drive results. So, you know, I can have a conversation with a potential client of mine and they may say, 'Well, we want to be on the first page of Google under this keyword." And my question to that would be great. They click your link and they come to your website. Then what happens? And most of the time, they don't have an answer. They don't have a plan of what that user supposed to do. They just, they think successes being ranked number one on a keyword that they may feel that is a value, but it may not be the keyword that their actual ideal client is searching under. So my answer is, well, without a plan, without a solid marketing strategy, it doesn't matter if you're, you know, no one under the most popular keyword out there in your industry, if you don't have those website visitors converting into actual leads, then it doesn't matter how much traffic you're getting to your site, whether it's 500 visits a month or 5000. You're not capturing people with a solid net that can be developed by having a solid marketing plan. So that's one area. The other area, which has been such a delight, it's not a mindset that I had, you know, joining your network. Like, I didn't think like, Well, hey, if I don't join the Duct Tape Network, I better get leads or business. I just wanted to be a better marketer. But what's cool, John, what you've established, what you developed, you know, you have a huge following or a renowned author. You're kind of like my definition of the godfather of business marketing and you interact a lot of attention. 

[00:11:05] I'd rather be Obi-Wan if that's okay. 

[00:11:09] Okay. Yes. Yes. Now you are The Master. There are always two, the master and the Padawan. So yes, you are the Obi-Wan of business marketing and you're attracting a lot of attention and ultimately traffic. And what I found, the traffic that you're attracting are businesses and companies and managers and owners and vice presidents that have tried doing tactics before strategy and have failed miserably and are looking for a better best practice way to get there, get the word out there. And so they find you. They like what, what, what the content you're putting out there. You know, your website and your approach is all strategy before tactics and you know, they're funneling through. And ultimately, some of them are looking for help and they're finding the consultant network quite easily. And when they find us, they're already warmed up. They're already sold on what they need to do. Now it's just a matter of, you know, is it a personality fit between, you know, this consultant and the next consultant? Because we're all offering the same thing, we're all using the same best practices that you've developed in your system. And we're all students of it. But, you know, it really just boils down to, you know, all right, I can find a consultant that's in my backyard, or I can find a consultant that is specifically experienced in my industry, or in my niche, or what have you. And I can tell you some of the biggest engagements that I've had come across my desk and ultimately have brought clients on have come from the network because they have tried and failed. They've wasted their marketing dollars on tactics first and now they're looking for a solid roadmap and a partner to help them not only create the roadmap but implement it. And it's been such a huge win for us. I couldn't be happier to be part of this network now going on in my second year now. Yeah. So you can't kick me out, I'm not going anywhere.

[00:13:17] So I'm curious. I love to ask entrepreneurs this. What is your favorite thing about what you get to do in the business that you're in? 

[00:13:26] Oh, yeah, great. Another great question. I love being creative. I love the creative aspect of it. It can get really monotonous, focusing on tactics, you know? You know, there's really no creativity or strategy that goes into developing an AdWords campaign. It can be creative if it's part of a bigger, overarching strategy. But, you know, talking to a customer or client and talking to them about what does success look like to them? I learned asking that question by being part of the network. You know, it might be timeless and tried and true, but it wasn't part of my vocabulary before I joined the network, and that gets them excited. And then we can get into, OK, well, then how can we help you get there? And what makes you unique over your competitors and what makes you remarkable? And we can go to work as their marketing partner, coming up with some really cool, really creative ideas that ultimately can help us choose the right tactics to get that message or that mission or that vision across. And it works. It works. And not only does it work for the client, but it works in our onboarding process or our sales process because they're not hearing that from their other local marketer or national vendor or what have you, because the, you know, the tactics before strategy and it's boring. And we're able to be super creative and I love it. It keeps me engaged and entertained and I have a super short attention span. 

[00:15:05] So Todd, where can people find out more about your work in the Laire Group, now LAIRE? 

[00:15:10] Yeah, sure. So we're online. And we are. Our website is lairedigital.com. We're very active with our blog. You can find us on social media and subscribe to our blog and get it delivered right to your inbox on a weekly basis. We're all over social media, on every one from Facebook to Twitter to Instagram. You know, I would invite anyone listening to go to the Duct Tape Consultant Network website and look at the other consultants that are in different areas, and you'll see that there's a similar theme that runs between all of us. And that is, you know, How can we help you differentiate? How can we help you dominate and ultimately win and whatever your endeavor is, and you'll find that we all say the same thing the same way, but with our own unique creativity and our own unique spend that, you know, helps us differentiate from each other. But we're using the same foundational principles that you know, John, you've laid out with the Duct Tape Consultant Network, and we all speak highly of each other and we've shared referrals with each other. You know, I've had some people contact me and tell me that they're talking to somebody else that may be the next town over the next state away and there are not enough consultants. I can tell you that I know you're growing network, but the opportunity and the abundance are just tremendous. There's just no point of saturation that I can see in my lifetime with it. But I encourage, you know, any potential client that comes across me as a, as a network consultant to talk to others, you know, because we all support each other, we all share information and we're all trying to make a difference. And it's been great and so much fun to be part of such a cool, cool group and with you being our Obi-Wan and Jedi leader. It's just it just keeps growing. So glad to be a part of it. 

[00:17:23] Thanks, Todd. So it was great catching up with you and hopefully, we will see you soon out there on the road. 

[00:17:29] Absolutely. Thanks, John.

Todd Laire

Todd Laire

B2B Sales and Marketing Leader | CEO at LAIRE, a Digital Growth Agency - Co-Founder, Entrepreneur, Public Speaker, Marketer, Sales Team Builder, and Change Advocate.