It’s been a long time coming…we welcome the Wizard of Ads himself, Roy H. Williams to To The Point! Roy is President & CEO of Wizard of Ads, and he’s a name many of you will be very familiar with already. He’s one of the biggest names in branding and marketing in the world and has worked with some of the most legendary names in the home services industry, including several of our former guests such as Ken Goodrich. He’s author of several best-selling books, and the brain behind some of the world’s most successful ad campaigns over the last 40 years across multiple industries.
Roy fell in love at 14 years old, and was married at 18 – a marriage that is going strong 46 years later. When he was 19, he found himself needing a side job to keep food on the table. That ended up being a gig changing tapes at nights on a radio station. This was the shift no one wanted – it was from midnight Friday night to 11AM Saturday morning, and paid $3.35/hour. Roy would come home from his normal job, go to sleep, get up at 11PM, and drive to the radio station to stay up all night after working all week. After taxes, this was an extra $21 a week.
All the while, Roy would get up every single morning and do something special. Back in the 1970’s when you had to rent answering machines from your phone company, there was something called an “announce-only” machine. Essentially, someone could call the phone line and get a message without being able to leave one as well. Well, Roy would get up and spend a few hours writing a message of encouragement for anyone that needed it. He called it “Daybreak”. No one knew his name or who was behind it. Enough people would call in every day that Roy was paying for a second phone line, running him $50/month all in all. That was 25% of his household income! If you want to hear more of this amazing story, Roy told it in The Monday Morning Memo – something he’s been doing for over 40 years.
Well, one day the General Manager of the radio station walked in and told Roy they had this guy from Amir’s Persion Imports in Tulsa, OK that needed an ad, and did Roy know anything about writing ads? Roy told him he’d been doing it for years! It was essentially true, as Roy’s Daybreak message was adwriting in a nutshell – taking a complex idea and condensing it into a small, powerful message. After a couple thousand hours of doing this, Roy was pretty damn good at it.
So Roy wrote the ad for Amir’s Persian Imports, and it was amazing. He used present-tense verbs and second person perspective, and painted a 1,001 Arabian Nights picture of the rugs being sold taking you on journey flying above the city. It was suge a big success that the GM offered Roy a full-time job, which he accepted.
Within a year, people were coming to Roy to buy ads. They didn’t even know what station he was with, they just knew they wanted Roy to write their advertisement. These clients were buying huge ad schedules with the radio station, and Roy started wondering – why am I working for 15% commission when all these businesses want is the ads I’m writing? The demand for Roy was so much that the station was turning down potential clients left and right; working around the clock just to meet the demands of the clients they already had.
Roy is genuine, and has a heart for helping people. He hated seeing all of these people who wanted his help and not being able to do something about it. So, he and his wife began renting a ballroom at the local 4 Seasons once a month and hosting a 1-day seminar retreat. What do you think Roy charged? NOTHING. This was completely free. Roy actually felt bad that people were spending money on hotels and plane tickets, and was buying the attendees lunch. Pretty soon, Roy was spending $20,000+ on lunch for strangers once a month, and earning nothing back.
Nowadays, Roy has 70 business partners around the world that work with hundreds of businesses. But back then, even though business was good, Roy was spending $20,000 a month on these seminars with no ability to recapture that money. Still, he didn’t want to leave people ignorant of what works, what doesn’t, and why. He was able to explain that to people, and they loved it.
Roy’s wife Pennie was noticing that each month, people were coming back to Roy’s seminars and bringing their staff with them. She saw the demand, and also saw how much they were spending feeding all these people just because Roy felt bad not being able to take them on as his clients. So, Pennie bought the land for what is now the Wizard of Ads Academy campus in Austin, TX. She designed all the buildings, they hired a construction crew, and since 2004 they’ve been working 365 days a year. There’s even more planned in the future! It’s a 501c3 nonprofit, and one of the many ways Roy continues to give back and educate businesspeople and entrepreneurs every single day.
Roy has been in this business for over 40 years now. He’s worked with lots of home services companies, and he’s even more well known for selling more diamonds and rolex watches than anybody in the world. What he wants people in the home services industry to understand is that short-term thinking can be dangerous and poisonous. If you’re advertising today to sell today, you’re not going to build a brand. You can build a revenue stream – which is important – but you’re not going have a brand.
“If you’re advertising today to sell today, you’re not going to build a brand”
Roy mentions his partner Ryan Chute, who talks about high-cap and low-cap sales. A high-cap sale is much like a branded keyword. It’s high conversion, high average sale, high average profit margin. A low-cap sale is the opposite, and more like an unbranded keyword. When people type in “plumbing repair” into Google, they’re telling the search engine “I don’t have a preferred company, just give me whatever’s fastest and cheapest”. Everyone’s trying to get their foot in the door to upsell later, but the smart strategy is building your brand so they’re not just telling Google they need a product or service, they’re telling Google they want your product or service. You’re spending way less to get that lead, and it always converts.
There are some products and services that have short purchase cycles. Roy mentions food and entertainment – two things that people want every single day. You have to eat, right? Well, that is an item with a short purchase cycle. Now think about jewely, or cars, or air conditioners. How often are you buying a new car? An engagement ring? An HVAC system or water heater? These are things with long purchase cycles.
Why is this important to understand? If the product or service you’re selling has a long purchase cycle, you need to utilize mass media (i.e. radio or television) to sell people long before they every need your product or service! You have to be a household name; the one they think of first and feel the best about. Roy understands the need to fill today’s booking. You have to have jobs to keep those trucks going from place to place. It’s not that you can’t think short-term to survive, but if you want to thrive? You have to also think long-term to build your brand.
If you use mass media, Roy says it will blow you mind how cheap it is when you do it correctly. It’s also going to break your heart at how long it takes to start paying off.
Roy tells every client he takes on upfront to put their hand on the check they’re about to pay him with. He puts his hand on their, and tells them “I want to make you a solem promise. 120 days from now, you’re going to know in your heart that giving me this money was the biggest mistake you’ve ever made in your life”. That’s because Roy has seen it time and time again. 120 days is simply not enough time for this approach to work. It’s much like Search Engine Optimization. You’re planting seeds, watering them, tending to them, and with enough time, plants will grow. It’s a matter of patience and persistence.
120 days in, results aren’t going to be happening yet. That plant still has barely sprouted. People are hearing the mass media message, but they simply won’t have heard it enough to be convinced. Certainly not enough for you to be top-of-mind. Even when they started being fully convinced, well now you’ve got to wait for that first person who needs your product or service. That’s doubly true if your product or service has a long purchase cycle.
Think about working out and eating right. After three weeks, you’re just tired and hungry! But that’s not how things work. When you get an immediate payoff, that thing tends to work less effectively the more you do it. Conversely, those things that take a lot of hard work and persistence? They tend to get easier and work better and better if you can stick with it. That’s what the “chickening out period” is all about. It’s a make or break time. You have to survive in the short-term, surely. But you have to plan on building something for the long-term. That even makes the short-term goals easier–ask any reputable digital marketer if well-branded or unbranded keywords are better for the bottom line.
Roy isn’t oblivious to the perception of mass media for many. In fact, he is well aware that this perception that it doesn’t work is perpetuated by the very people in the industry. There’s a lot of selling that happens where people are being misinformed about how long it takes, and then they get frustrated – and rightfully so – when it doesn’t pay out right away. Roy has spent a lot of time trying to combat this and talking to the industry, begging them to stop doing that!
“People stay reached the same way grass stays mowed.”
Mass media is an approach that takes time. You have to continue to reach your audience day after day, year after year. If you can power through that chickening out period, you start to see results. If you don’t understand this going into it and aren’t prepared, you’re going to waste a bunch of money and see no return. Roy doesn’t want that for anybody! After 6 months, you’ll see a light at the end of the tunnel. You’ll hope it isn’t a train about to run you over. After a year, you will never want to get out of mass media because of how miraculously it’s working. After 2 years, Roy’s clients are ready to send him and his family on vacations around the world.
How much do you think it costs to use mass media to advertise? Well, the upfront cost might be significant, but Roy tells us that he can reach someone 156 times a year for 40 cents. 40 cents for a year to own that person!
At any given time, Roy estimates that there are roughly 3,000 TV and radio campaigns running. These go every day, every week, and every month. Each month has the same budget. Mass media isn’t a seasonal thing. If the purchase cycle for your goods and services is long, you aren’t seasonal, either. You might have peak-seasons and off-seasons, but you have to make payroll every month. In addition to that, you have to understand that a person has to hear the same ad 3 times in a 7-day span, 2 weeks in a row for it to be effective. Ideally, you’re reaching that person for 52 weeks in a row. That’s where we get this magic number of 156. If Roy is saying that cost ends up being 40 cents for the entire year and we’re spending money to get costs per sale from 220 dollars to 15, don’t you think we have the budget for mass media?
Mass media isn’t just a supplement to your digital budget. It’s how you win the hearts and minds of the people you can afford to reach relentlessly. Repetition matters more than reach when it comes to mass media. It’s a game of persistence.
Want to hear the rest of Roy’s story and his advice for the home services industry? You won’t have to wait long! We’re coming back next week with part two of this incredible conversation with the Wizard of Ads, Roy Williams. See you then!