Today’s guest is a renowned business strategist and a New York Times bestselling author of six books. He’s been an advisor to more than 700 companies since 1994, including Caterpillar, Nike, the United Nations and 36 fortune 500. On top of all that he has started five multimillion dollar businesses from scratch. Now, undoubtedly, all that is cool, but the reason I follow Jay’s work is that he makes me think. Jay Bear is one of a kind and I knew he had to be at the top of the list of people I wanted to interview.
So get out your pen if you can, because he has a simple assignment. It could just be a game changer for you.
Laurie: All right. Welcome Jay to the shake, my brain mini series. Are you ready for this?
Jay: I am ready for this. I feel like I need a helmet.
Laurie: No, no, you don’t. It’s going to be great. Well, first of all, I want to tell you real quick and I don’t want your head to get too big on this, but when I sat down and plan this mini series, I thought to myself who are the people that I most want to tap into their brains. And actually you were the first person that came to mind because every time I listened to you, not exaggerating, I say this behind your back, every time I listened to you, I walk away going, “Ooh, that was good.” And that’s what I want to feel like when my brain shakes it’s like, “wow, let me, let me contemplate that a little bit.”
So I come to you with only two questions and it’s important for the viewers to know, I don’t know, in advance what your is going to be. I have no clue. We have not previewed this. Only two questions. The first one is: Jay, whatcha been thinking about lately?
Jay: All right. Here’s the thing…we‘ve been doing this a long time. Obviously, the pandemic has had a lot of impact, but one impact I don’t think we talk about enough is that there are colossal shifts in market share happening right now that are truly unprecedented.
Market share shifts in times of uncertainty. And if there’s one thing I think we can agree on it’s that we are uncertain right now. 54% of customers have made a purchase from a business for the very first time, since the pandemic and 89% of those customers plan to stay with this new provider.
Laurie: Okay. Wait, pause. I gotta process. 54% have bought from someplace they haven’t bought before. And what percent plans to stick?
Laurie: Interesting. Okay.
Jay: This means is that you’ve got two challenges. One, you’ve got to maintain the relationships that you’ve built with customers over the last one, five 20, 50, a million years, because now they’re starting to get a little loosey goosey right? You’ve got the wandering eye. And second, this is, and I absolutely believe this as terrible as the pandemic is because customers are now willing to change horses in ways they wouldn’t have been willing in 2019 BC, (before COVID) this is the single greatest opportunity you will probably ever have to grow your business.
You will probably never get this chance again, because customer relationships will re-calcify. At some point right now you can go grab market share in ways that you never could a year ago, two years ago, five years ago. How do you do that?
Laurie: And why do we think that is? Why have we become loosey goosey? Cause I know I have as a buyer, I didn’t think about it till you just said it, but I am much looser right now. In fact, even switched doctors!
Jay: We value different things now, right. The order of operations that we use to make purchase decisions has been re-sequenced.
Another interesting stat, 28% of consumers say that since the pandemic price matters a less, and that’s given the fact that we got a lot of people with meaningful financial challenges all over the world. Uh, three out of 10 are like, yeah, I’ll pay more. Yeah. Or if I feel more comfortable, if I feel less uncertain, if I do whatever the circumstances are.
So, so the decisions that we make are now made on different criteria. Part of it is this lack of hassle. Right? Right. Now the last thing anybody needs is hassle and friction. So we tend to seek the least friction option at this point. Um, and that is a huge opportunity for everybody, but here’s how you start.
I’m going to shake your brain now. You ready?
Laurie: I’m ready.
Jay: Nobody knows nothing about nothing anymore. I’ve been doing this for 30 years and there has never been a greater information asymmetry between what you know about your business and what your customers know about your business. That chasm has not been this great since the invention of the internet.
I’ll tell you a story from my own life to kind of frame this up for you. I am a 50-year-old man. Two months ago, I got my first haircut since the pandemic. Being 50, I thought as a reasonable person would conclude, that I knew exactly how haircuts work, but I discovered Laurie that I do not anymore because I had to have approximately 16 questions successfully answered in order to get my haircut.
Is the haircut place still open?
Does the woman who cuts my hair still work at that haircut place?
Are appointments the same length or have they been extended for sanitation between clients?
Do I just pop in when I get there or do I have to text ahead of time?
Where do I park now?
Are the parking meters downtown still working?
Do I wear a mask?
Does she wear a mask?
Do I have to shampoo my hair ahead of time? Or do they still wash your hair?
Speaking of shampoo, do they still sell shampoo? Because I’m out speaking of buying shampoo, how do you pay for shampoo now? Do I have to use filthy paper currency, or can I actually tap my phone to pay and on and on and on, this is to get a haircut.
Imagine if you’re trying to buy a heart defibrillator or something, right? Nobody knows nothing about nothing. And here’s a little more evidence. So on my podcast, Social Pros, we had on as a guest a few weeks ago, Laurie Meacham, one of the great Lauries—the second, my second favorite Laurie, clearly. Laurie Meacham is until recently—she just left this week—the head of social media customer service for Jew Blue airlines. Okay. She told me that their digital marketing team discovered a search term that they had never seen before. And I said, that doesn’t make any sense to me. Jet Blue has been around, I don’t know what, 15 years now, something like that. Uh, and you guys are really good at digital, how could you possibly find something that people are typing into Google that you never saw before? That there’s no way. Here’s the search term: Are airlines still in business?
Jay: “Are airlines still in business?“
Laurie: That you shook your brain when she told you that, didn’t it?
Jay: Totally! Cause I was like, okay, that’s not a search term you would have seen in February. Nobody knows nothing about nothing. Yext, which is a company that does software that helps people find answers does a lot of research on this topic. They found between February and April of this year, an 88% increase in questions asked on a website, right? So a lot of websites have little search box on it. 88% increase. Why? ‘Cuz nobody knows nothing about nothing. So the number one thing you can do right now, and I don’t care if you sell hot pockets or scarves or construction equipment or, you’re a barber. It doesn’t matter. I don’t care. The number one thing you can do right now is have the ultimate FAQ.
You’ve got to sit down with a piece of paper and a pen, and I actually think this works better when you do it longhand instead of on a keyboard and write down, literally every question that your customers have, starting with…
Are we still in business? And you to take the answers to all those questions, you need to put them all over your website and you take the top questions and you push them out social, email, and otherwise, because if your customers don’t understand how to buy from you, they’re not going to buy from you and somebody else is going to figure this out.
And because of this loosey goosey nature of buying decisions, you’re going to be the loser and they’re going to be the winner. Well, how you handle your business for the next six months, it has a material impact on your success over the next six years. This is your chance. You want to grow your business? Do it now, right now.
Laurie: And what’s so exciting to me about this is when this all first happened, I felt that our playing field was leveled. You might’ve had a chock full calendar at really high fees. And mine was not as many and not as high fee, but guess what? For a period of time, you and I got leveled at the same time. And my calendar looked just like your..
Jay: Zero is zero!
Laurie: But then we watched as some people in our industry climbed out quickly. And I had to figure out, same thing you’re just saying nobody knows nothing about nothing means that I get to start over in a different way. And for me, I chose to say, what can I do in a virtual world that can’t be done on platform? And once I started to figure that out, I got excited and I think the same rule applies to all the businesses listening.
What can you do in a unique way that maybe you couldn’t have done before? And by golly, these FAQ’s that you’re doing, your team better be able to articulate it in their customer service performance. When people are calling up and saying, Hey, are you guys still open? You don’t want the one on the other end going… well….Yeah…
They need to know. What’s the classy way to answer that question to grab, hook, and reel that customer in because everybody’s seeking. So that is absolutely spot on. I love it.
Jay: It’s a really interesting state of affairs and your point about how do you reconfigure—reimagine is how I like to say it—reimagine your products and services for a virtual world that doesn’t require a face-to-face interactions is, is spot on. I’ll give you another stat that completely shook my brain. On October 5th of 2020, we will surpass in North America, their totality of 2019 e-commerce revenue. That’s before Halloween candy, much less Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas, night before Christmas, blah, blah, October 5th!
And guess what guys? We’re not going back.
Laurie: I believe that.
Jay: We’re not, we’re not going back. I mean, speaking business, not withstanding, look, are there going to be events in the future? Sure. Are there going to be as many events as there used to be? Absolutely positively, no way.
Laurie: And so I think the other thing that comes of this is creativity, reigns Supreme. If you can dream it up and it’s a solution to somebody’s problem. Well, that’s sales one Oh one, right? So now we have this beautiful kind of level playing field to some degree of where new ideas can be big ideas. And that shakes my brain.
Jay: It’s terrible, right? Pandemic. No one’s pro pandemic. But trust me when I tell you, you will never get this chance again.
Laurie: Wow. I love it.
Now my second question, I think you’ve already answered. My second question was going to be, so when I ask you to repeat it, so it’s real clear to everybody. I’m an action girl. You know, I like to take action, not just talk about it. Let’s go do something about it. So if somebody has listened to us all the way through and they’re ready to go take an action, what do you want them to do for the biggest impact?
Jay: I really think it is to write down those questions and answers, right? To say, what are all the things that customers need to know? And you can’t take anything for granted. In the past, six months ago, we would say, well, of course they know that. Of course they know how to get a haircut. No, they don’t. They don’t know anything. Nobody knows nothing about nothing. And if you’re not sure, go ask the customers you still have. And Laurie, you made a terrific point, which is: you might write these questions down because you’re the manager or the owner or the whatever, but you’ve got to make sure that everybody who works for you knows those answers too, because the fastest way to lose a customer is for them to ask a reasonable question and your team doesn’t know the answer.
Laurie: Right, or they answer it with the tone that means “how stupid are you Jay, for asking, are we going to wash your hair?” Because you might’ve gone to a different vendor if they had made you feel foolish for asking in the first place. And I also think when people are making these FAQ’s, don’t rely on your own brain to think like your customer. Go one step further and be asking your customers, what are the questions you always want to ask us that you haven’t or what have you been asking that you’re not getting an answer to because you gotta dig deeper than just what your own brain comes up with. I think.
Jay: Yeah, if you, if you add, well, that’s why, if you look at people who actually have FAQ’s on their website, it’s five questions. And I’m like, bro, why even bother at that point? Right. I can come up with five questions before I finish this sentence. If you don’t have 25, 50 questions on there, you’re not really doing it right.
Laurie: Exactly. I think I’ve got some FAQ’s to go write! So Jay, anything else you want to say before I sign off?
Jay: I have enjoyed this program immensely. I think you are doing a service to the community. So I appreciate you as always my friend.
Who doesn’t want to have their brain shook from time to time? It’s where the good things happen. And we want every episode to end with somebody going, “Ooh!”
Jay: I use tequila for that, but if you want to do it, you know, watching the show, that’s fine. But you know, together, there you go. It’s a marriage.
Laurie: It is a marriage. Yeah tequila and watching the show, it’ll shake your brain.
I always try not laugh really loud when I interview people because it’s so annoying when you listen to your tape back and you’re laughing, have you ever done that? You listened to it. And it’s like, Oh, this is so annoying. So I try really hard, but I have to admit you really had me going with your 12 steps to the hairdresser I was really having to pull back. If we’d been having tequila I would’ve been laughing hard all over.
Jay: Yeah. I was, I was initially ashamed. Like literally I was like, you know what? These are m things I should know. But then I realize, no, I don’t, I shouldn’t know that that’s the whole point. I don’t know. And if, I don’t know, nobody knows. Uh, and you know, it is, uh, I mean, think, look. We’re not going back. And so you got to redo all these FAQ’s we’re not going to have a full-on conversation face to face with the guy delivering your pizza ever again, not going to happen.
Laurie: Never again, last time we had a pizza delivered—I’m not making this up—he threw it onto the front step and ran back to his car and we’re all looking at each other like, “Whoa, that’s, that’s a whole new way to get a pizza,” but you know, that’s a story for another day, Jay. Thanks for being with me as always. It’s a treat. Thanks for shaking my brain, but that was awesome. Thank you so much.
Jay: Thank you!
That Jay, I could listen to him all day. Now don’t forget to subscribe to this series on my YouTube channel and follow me on your favorite social media platforms. More great episodes are coming up when you’re ready to make sure that your team is connecting with your customers.