Check out our latest custom WordPress web design, created using WordPress Multisite with the parents site, and over 40 chapter “micro sites”- all that operate as separate websites within a single install of WordPress!
Check out our latest custom WordPress web design, created using WordPress Multisite with the parents site, and over 40 chapter “micro sites”- all that operate as separate websites within a single install of WordPress!
Chris Parker is the founder & CEO of WhatIsMyIPaddress.com, the number one website in the world for finding your IP address. According to the Alexa ranking, Chris’s website is one of the top 3000 websites in the United States with over 6 million visitors a month.
Chris started the website on January 4th, 2000 and for the first five years, his revenue didn’t even cover his internet bill. In 2005, Chris made $30 from display ads and he knew he couldn’t give up!
In 2014, Chris was laid off from his corporate job and was faced with the scary opportunity to make his website a full time business. Since then he’s aggressively grown his site to generate just under seven figures a year in revenue with no employees, no office, and no inventory!
WhatIsMyIPaddress.com has granted Chris and his wife time and financial freedom that they use to travel the world and raise their mini schnauzer, Bailey.
Phil Singleton: Chris, welcome to the show.
Chris Parker: Great to be here, Phil.
Phil Singleton: Awesome, so I’d love to hear right off the bat, like just what got you into the business World in general, those first steps out of high school or college, or whatever it was. What was your first job? And kind of just give us the quick story in terms of how you got involved in the business world, and what brought you to here today.
Chris Parker: Sure. Yeah, my first job was in 1984. I was 12 years old, and I delivered newspapers.
Phil Singleton: Nice.
Chris Parker: I think I had like, I had the smallest route in the neighborhood. I had like 30 customers, so to speak. I made four bucks a month or whatever it was, but grew that, took over all the neighboring routes, and did that for number years, and then realized I don’t want to ride my bicycle every morning and every night delivering papers.
Phil Singleton: Right.
Chris Parker: I think my first business that I tried running was a website called discountbibles.com, back in 1999.
Phil Singleton: Dang.
Chris Parker: That was just around the time, I think, Amazon had launched not too long before that, but I was competing against Amazon, selling Bibles. It was fun. I was working a day job at an online, or I guess at that time was a mail order catalog, a computer reseller called Club Mac. I thought, you know, I want to sell Bibles of the side.
I put together a website, got some databases of things, and put together something fairly clever, and started, put up the server on my own DSL connection in my home. Over the course of a couple months, I realized it really sucks to have to pick up the books, box them up at night, and on my lunch breaks take them over to FedEx, UPS, and the US Postal Service. And on the weekends, I was boxing and running credit cards, and trying to do all this out of my apartment. I realized, oh my gosh, this is not scalable. I don’t want to be doing this.
I think I was making maybe a couple of hundred bucks a month at the end of the day, which is nice to have some extra spending money, but way too much work for what I was making. So my next thing that I tried was, well, if you can’t beat Amazon use should join them. And so I switched over to the site. Called it “The Bible Finder,” you know, keeping your niche when you know what you’re doing. And rather than packaging them up myself, and doing all that, all the credit card processing, the chargebacks, all that fun stuff, I just became an affiliate for Amazon. No more, you know, no more books lying around the house, no more dust. I thought, oh, this is awesome. It’s totally scalable, until Amazon decided, “We don’t want to have to charge sales tax to all the orders that we ship to California, so we’re dropping every California affiliate.”
Overnight, my business disappeared.
Phil Singleton: Wow.
Chris Parker: I think, during all that time, I’d actually started whatismyipaddress.com back in 2000, and it was totally a hobby. I’d never thought of it as as a business. I just put up the site because it solved the problem that I was trying to figure out for the company I was working for. I just kind of let it run in and, honestly, didn’t really pay attention to it for a while.
Once I saw there was some traffic to it, I was originally like just showing people their IP address, like no welcome to the site, just eight characters, 12 characters, whatever it is. Just effectively one word of text on the screen.
Phil Singleton: One point there, before we could continue on there. Just as a refresher on an IP address. Can you explain to people kind of what that is? I think most people have heard about it, especially if you got a job or something, and you know we’ve all heard about, “Hey, what’s your IP address?” I think, definitely for marketers, it’s become something that they’re familiar with for a variety of reasons. But can you explain just in simple terms to the layman, that really doesn’t maybe spend a whole lot of time on the computer, what an IP address is, and why somebody might want to look it up?
Chris Parker: Absolutely, it’s the internet equivalent of your home mailing address. When you’re at home and you want to mail something and get a response back from someone, you put their name on the envelope, you put your return address on the envelope, you send it off. It gets to that company. They want to send whatever they want back to you, they need that return address in order to get the envelope back to you. That’s the internet equivalent of an IP address. It’s so websites and email servers and all the things that we do online, games, data, it knows how to get back to us when we put a request in.
It can reveal a little bit more about you than you realize. It provides someone with a database. They can figure out what who your internet service provider is, and with some more advanced databases, they can actually probably figure out within a few blocks of where you live, just based on your IP address.
Phil Singleton: Some practical things I’m thinking of, like we run into all the time, is for our websites we a lot of time will put some additional layer security for against malware and hacking. There’s ways to kinda block access to people, maybe add them to the back of your, say WordPress example, WordPress website. You need to know, basically, your IP address of the people that want to walk in there, if you want to like white-list them, allow them in, right? So that’s one thing I know that we’ve used your site for, to lookup an IP address, so that we can white-list people to be able to access, and through the security settings that we have for our website.
I can also think of other things that are like hot today. You hear people talking about geo-targeting, geo-fencing, all this kinda stuff that’s based on maybe a device and a location. I’m guessing that probably has something to do with an IP address for some of these things. Is that right?
Chris Parker: Yep. When it comes to mobile devices, primarily it goes based off of the GPS data that you’re intentionally sharing, but even if you turn off the GPS data, you kinda fall back to the geolocation based off of IP address. Not as accurate, but nevertheless when you’re surfing the internet, it can give you ads for your local neighborhood, as opposed to the wrong country.
Phil Singleton: Awesome, okay. So thanks for that kind of refresher there because I think, again, most people have heard about it. A lot of people have kinda looked it up for certain different things, but I think that kinda helps put things into perspective. Get you back onto the trail of kind of where you were, you said that you had kinda started whatismyipaddress.com kind of as a hobby, still had kind of a day job, and where would you take it from there?
Chris Parker: Yep. I, at some point, put an email address on the site, and said, “Hey, if you have questions, ask me questions.” So I started answering questions about IP addresses via email, and I realized that, “Gee, I’m getting an awful lot of the same questions over and over.” So I put up a FAQ on the site. That was the beginning of my content development days, of rather than one-off … and I’m thinking scalability here, rather than one-off responding to these emails, but put the information online, and that’s kind of how the site started to grow.
Like you said, back in 2005, you had the launch of ad networks and AdSense. So I put a little ads on the site, and realized, “Oh my gosh, I can make a little bit of money doing this, and offset my bills for my hobby.” Then it, you know, finally started being more than my bills, and making a little bit of vacation money, some travel money, and little of investment money.
Again, it was never really on my mind as this is going to become a full-time gig. At this point it had become a side hustle, until the day that the company I was working for started struggling in the financial crisis. Over the course of a couple years, and multiple rounds of layoffs, they finally came to me and said, “Well, Chris, we can’t afford to keep paying you full-time. We’re going to have to let you go,” which is I don’t think what anyone wants to hear. I suppose some people want to hear it, but I didn’t want to hear it.
So I was faced with a decision. Do I try to turn whatismyipaddress.com into my full-time gig, or do I look for another corporate job? Asked my wife, we sat down and talked about it. We set up some milestones of like, okay, can I grow the business enough in the course of the next year or so to offset the loss of my full-time income? We set up some milestones every three months or so, to kinda reevaluate and see how things were going. Lo and behold, by putting 30 to 40 extra hours a week into the website, I was able to earn back my day job, I haven’t looked back.
Phil Singleton: That’s awesome.
Chris Parker: It is a blast being able to work from wherever I want to.
Phil Singleton: Yeah, I mean, you’re definitely living the dream from that respect, to be able to kinda … Yeah, you’ve solved a bunch of different things. You solved a problem. You turned it into a website. You got traffic, and then it sounds just kind of like by the force of the economy, or outside economic forces, that you were almost forced to to turn it into a revenue generator, and you really got serious about it, and found ways to make it, and turn it into a nice profitable business.
On that note, I’d love to talk about like what … because as you’re talking, I’m thinking, wow, okay, at some point you really knew you were onto something because the traffic probably really started to take off. You were definitely one of the first ones on there, so from a search engine standpoint, and we can talk a little bit later, you had kinda the first move or advantage, and you’re working on it. And there are probably people linking to you, and your traffic grew.
You mentioned AdSense in the beginning, so it was probably the first thing that you did to try and monetize it, right? And you realized, okay, not a whole lot of people get rich just from AdSense money, or just from display ads, but there’s all sorts of other things I’m taking that I’d love for you to talk about. Did you try … Was there any affiliate marketing, you know, upselling people, email lists, all these other things that probably have come into play maybe in recent times, or that you looked at, since you kinda did this full-time? Can you talk to us a little bit about how, how do you start monetizing a site like this once it starts taking off?
Chris Parker: Absolutely. Actually, one of the biggest challenges has been to actually monetize the traffic. Everybody jokes of like, “Well, if I just had lots of traffic, then I could make lots of money.” I’ve actually had kinda the flip problem that most people have. It’s, “Okay, I’ve got lots of traffic, now how do I make money off of this?” People immediately go, “Oh, well, all you have to do is just throw ads on the site, and you’ll make lots of money.”
Well, when 70% of your internet, when 70% of the traffic to your website isn’t in the United States, it hurts. There’s not a whole lot of money to be made in banner ads to people in India, China, Russia, Poland. There just isn’t money in that. So it’s really been an interesting challenge over the years trying to find the right ad vendors, the right ad networks.
There’s been a few tried-and-true ones, but most of them I’ve been able to work with them for a couple of years, and then they become less effective. It’s been a very unique challenge with most of the people I’ve talked to about it because that international element to it makes a complicated. The other side of it is that whatismyipaddress.com does not draw really targeted, intense traffic.
It’s not like they’re coming to my website because they’re researching a camera that they’re about to buy, and I can, “Hey, here’s a camera I can buy,” whether it’s via ads, or by affiliate marketing. That’s not the case. People are coming, “I just want my IP address. I’m going to get it, and I’m going to go. I’m not going to look on any other pages. I’m not going to look at any of your ads.” So it’s been difficult to manage that.
One of the exciting things that’s happened over the last couple of years, is a new infrastructure technology that kind of can be used to compete against Google AdSense, and that’s called Header Bidding. I’m not sure if you’ve heard about it or not.
Phil Singleton: I haven’t. I’m all ears.
Chris Parker: It’s basically when someone hits your website, it sends off a request to a variety of ad networks, and they can bid against, bid for that impression. “I’m willing to spend this much money for the impression, and then if you’re using, like I have been, Google’s DoubleClick for Publishers as an ad platform, it could then turn around and compete against AdSense. So not only do you have the ability to monetize impressions that maybe AdSense wouldn’t, it creates a little bit of competition, and right and pushes the AdSense rates up a bit.
Phil Singleton: Yeah, takes some money off the table for them, basically.
Chris Parker: Takes some money off the table, lowers their margins a little bit, and pushes your revenues up a bit. It’s kind of … the technology’s a bit in its infancy, so there’s definitely some hiccups. I think over the next year or two, they’ll actually be a lot of consolidation in all the ad networks as they and they … you just can’t have 500-600 companies competing on exactly the same product, exactly the same space. There’s going to have to be some consolidation there, but I think over the next couple of years Header Bidding will really, really coming into fruition. A lot of it’ll be done on the backend, and not on the client browser. It’ll help website owners who are monetizing with display traffic a lot.
Phil Singleton: I love that because it really seems like, and even now, when I think about it. I think of, geez, it just seems like you really can’t make the majority of your revenue, again, this is from the outside in because we don’t do a whole lot of it, but you just think, well, somebody’s … if they’re on their way they’re monetizing the website is through AdSense, then you know that that’s probably not, no matter how big, unless it’s like super huge. They’re probably not making a whole lot just from that, right? I mean because it takes a lot of displays to make to make those checks really big.
Chris Parker: Yeah, and anyone who’s been doing AdSense for more than five years can attest, the rates that publishers are making for traffic has just been dwindling over the years. We get a smaller and smaller, smaller and smaller bang for our buck for those that are in kind of that general … If you’re really, really nichey, and have really good intent, you can get some crazy good ad rates. But if you just have a very general interest news site, a general information site like I do, it’s hard to get good rates on the ads.
Phil Singleton: So a couple of things there I’d like to ask. One is, what’s interesting from the advertising perspective, from the banners and things like that, over the years Google has changed their algorithms, and just been more scrutinized a lot more, you know, what’s being presented on the space in terms of like above the fold and things like this, right?
Chris Parker: Yeah.
Phil Singleton: So, you get a lot of stuff where you maybe you get more impressions, or better ads, then they want you to push them down, and if you don’t, you kind of have this game that you’re playing versus how do I satisfy the search engine to keep my rankings up, versus they don’t want you to have a bunch of ads above the fold because they’re going to say that’s not most beneficial to the user. I guess, have you thought about that, and had to play that game a little bit? It makes it a little bit tougher for people that are selling ads, right? Because it’s like, wow, you just took that away. You’re gonna take our rankings away, and you’re going to make us put what’s valuable down below the fold. It makes it even a little bit harder, I think, if you’re relying a lot on organic traffic.
Chris Parker: Yeah, it is a challenge, the balancing act of that is a lot of give and pull. You’ve got, you know, the ad network who want as many ads and as high up the fold as possible, covering as much of the real estate as possible. You’ve got the users who want no ads whatsoever because it’s on the internet it should be free. And then me, who, well, I’ve got to pay my bills. I have to make a living. Trying to balance all that out, and my general approach has been I want as good of a user experience as I can provide, and still make a living. I definitely tried in the early days, “Hey, let’s try these pop-ups that were paying your $20 per thousand impressions, or $50 per thousand impressions.” Yeah, I could make a lot of money very quickly, but it disenfranchises the users. I’d get hate mail. I’d get, “I’m never going to use your side ever again.”
I kinda took that to heart, and said, “Okay, I can’t do that.” I’ve gotta find that balance that keeps my users engaged, and doesn’t turn them off, and hopefully they’re going to understand that I need to make a living. There has to be some ads on the site, but not so much that it becomes a horrible experience.
Phil Singleton: Yeah, that’s what you get-
Chris Parker: We’ve all been on those sites. You open it up on your phone, and there’s like one sentence on the screen, and all the rest of it is ads. That’s a horrible experience. Those sites should be penalized.
Phil Singleton: Right, right, right. Next, we got the ads … these are when we’re talking about … Sorry, what we’re talking about right now is the banner and the ads that show up, that you’re basically being paid on the amount of impressions that you receive. Have you tried any, or do you have any where like there’s affiliate relationships, right? I’ve heard some people, obviously back in the day it was a huge thing, I think even now. I think people still do really well with it in some areas where you’ve got a banner ad you’ve got a relationship with the people that are the advertisers, and if they click through to their website, it carries over a cookie. A sale is made, and then you get a piece of the sale, right? Is that something that you’ve tried? Is that part of your current model? I mean, that’s changed a lot over the years. Can you talk to affiliate marketing a little bit?
Chris Parker: Yeah, I definitely do affiliate marketing, and it’s probably been the the quickest growing segment of my revenue over the last couple of years. I’ve tried doing it with ads, with ads kind of competing against the ad networks all in an ad server software. It’s a lot of management. I very quickly realized that I was spending a large portion of my time tweaking, a little bit more here, turn that one up, turn that one down. It really just became too much time consumption to manage the affiliate relationships within display ads. Again, I think part of it is because I have such a a non-nichey site, only in certain place up on my site could that even potentially work. In most cases it just doesn’t work at all.
But I have really worked really hard on affiliate relationships over the last couple of years, and building content which promotes particular products, which are in the same sort of vertical of a portion of our users. A lot of that is privacy, online safety; have done really well with VPN affiliate offers. I’ve tried newsletters.
Phil Singleton: That was gonna be my next question, is like build an email list, and trying to have another thing, I guess, to monetize.
Chris Parker: I have a fairly large mailing list that is really hard to get them to do anything. Again, I think that comes down to it’s a lot of international people as well on the mailing list, and while it might be more targeted than the website, it’s a pretty hard mailing list of to move to do stuff. I’ll get a lot of … great open rates on my emails, but really hard time getting clicks into affiliate offers in the newsletters, and so it’s something that’s like, there’s more bang for my buck to do other things, work with more strategic, like exit intent pop-ups, things that engage users after certain amount of time on the site through OptinMonster, and there’s a bunch of other platforms that do it. But try to catch people with with other types of interactions when it’s less intrusive than like right when you get hit the homepage.
Phil Singleton: Right, the next thing I was gonna ask is have you tried or thought about any type of premium service, upsell, software-as-a-service type model, where somebody comes in and you got the … I mean, I see on your site now, it looks like up in the bar, I haven’t checked too many of them, but there’s other things we can check on whatismyipaddress.com now, right? Are any of those premium, or is it just another way to draw more traffic, and have you thought about that model?
Chris Parker: I definitely thought about the model. Again, some of it, I’ve questioned the scalability based on the amount of effort that I’d have to put into it. So currently all the tools, all the functionality that’s mine on the site is entirely free. I just kinda like that model. I’m in talks with a couple of different data providers who provide … let’s call it the the background checks type of stuff. A little bit more in-depth than information that I can provide and an awful lot of work for me that to build it out in-house, that are offering like a white-label solutions where I can start the brand that. They’ll handle all the billing. So, I think there’s a great opportunity there. It’s something that we’re looking at in Q1 of next year in order to grow that.
A lot of it has been the amount of work to get a subscription.
Phil Singleton: Right.
Chris Parker: It’s one thing if you’ve got this great master class, and you can charge $5,000 a year membership. Hey, if you get a couple of members, you know, you get a couple of dozen members, you don’t have to scale it up. Anything that I do, just because of the niche, I’d have to scale it up to tens of thousands of people for it to be profitable. And kind of dealing with, okay, credit card processing on 10,000 transactions a month, or annual subscriptions in order to get $10 a month from people. It becomes … I don’t think the metrics work out in the long run for me.
Speaker 3: Interesting question.
Chris Parker: Oops, sorry.
Phil Singleton: That’s all right. So it’s safe to say, I mean, it’s been great. You mentioned in your bio that you’ve grown this to essentially a seven-figure business. So the majority of that seems like it’s coming from some shape or form of advertising. Is that safe to say?
Chris Parker: Yep, at this point it’s either display ads or affiliate relationships. There’s a few data things that I’m doing, but it’s kinda that one percent on the backend sort of things.
Phil Singleton: That’s really cool. Then I wanna get into a little bit in, I don’t wanna get too deep into SEO stuff, but kind of in the green room before we were talking about … Somebody that’s had a site since 2000, has seen it grow. You had a ton of organic traffic. I looked at Ahrefs, which is a tool that we’re both familiar with, that we use here at our agency. I’m looking at it, I think I can still pop it up right now. I’m going to share a screenshot of what I see, but they show that you’ve got … and this is just for organic traffic. I’m looking at it today.
You know how these things are. I mean, it’s not analytic, so it’s not gonna be like your exact numbers, but they’re showing organic traffic of four million unique hits a month. So that’s just only organic. I’m sure you guys have direct links, direct traffic, referral traffic, social media traffic, all sorts of stuff that gets you up to six million and above. Of course, we know, a lot of times these external ones aren’t as accurate as some other things, but it also shows one of my favorite metrics inside of Ahrefs is your monthly traffic value in terms … I don’t if you’re familiar with this one, but it’s one of my favorite ones in SEMrush and also Ahrefs, where they assign, basically, an AdWords value to your organic, free traffic that you’re getting.
I’m looking at it right here, and it says your monthly organic traffic’s worth three million dollars a month. I’m like, wow, okay. So they’re basically, because you get so much organic traffic, they’re cobbling together lots of probably diverse stuff that your ranking for. Obviously, to see that’s one thing, to be able to monetize into is something else, but it does show the power of what you have in terms of what you’ve been able to build and the amount of organic traffic that you’re able to get. I’m sure it’s really probably only getting, building and getting more over time, as more people get familiar with IP addresses.
It’s become a hot topic, since the last election and stuff. Things that are going online, what people are looking for, what do people know about us? It’s just more in the media right now, more people trying to understand about what people know about certain things. The more they become familiar with it, the more likely they’re going to be looking up like, “Well, what is my IP address?” Right? I’m sure you guys have benefited a little bit of that as well. On the topic of SCR, I’d just love to hear about … because you’re starting way back in the day, 1999-2000, things that you’ve seen in terms of these massive Google updates, them going after links and content, Panda, thin content.
Even in recent years, you see great sites doing really good things, but for whatever reason, you’ll see good sites with great content still get hit randomly by one of these Google updates that they do every day, and then once or twice a year they do a really big one that sends a tremor pretty much that everybody feels. Can you talk a little bit about your experience with Google, and has it frustrated you over the years? Have you had to kind of move things and change things? Did you ever experiment with stuff? Have you changed your site strategy and content based around SEO and Google and this kinda stuff? Just kind of give us a little bit of a background about how SEOs impacted or affected this business.
Chris Parker: Yeah, I mean, definitely, like you say, there’s a crazy amount of natural search traffic. I think when you are so reliant on natural search traffic, there is always that kind of underlying fear of, you know, if I get slapped by Google, this is gonna be a problem. I think every time there’s been a major update, it’s always kind of like, “Okay, I hope this doesn’t impact me.” I think part of why a lot of these haven’t impacted me is I really tried to use kind of best practices. I don’t buy links. Maybe 20, maybe 15 years ago, 10 years ago, played around a little bit in that space, but it’s, honestly, it’s not cost-effective for me. I’ve tried to avoid just a lot of the practices that were sketchy to begin with. I’ve never paid companies to spam my links in forums and comments and-
Phil Singleton: Did you ever try and build out tons of pages that were kinda thin that way, or did that ever happen?
Chris Parker: You know, I never tried to do it as intentionally thin pages. There were some stuff that, looking back at it, that there’s definitely some pages on the site that have very thin content. But it wasn’t like, “Hey, let’s-”
Phil Singleton: Let’s build a 1,000 pages for each keyword here, and try and-
Chris Parker: Yeah, yeah, yeah. It was never that. It was, “Well, I had an article written on what is SMTP,” the way mail servers communicate, and it was like 300 words, 250 words. In my mind, it’s like, “Yeah, it’s really pretty thin. I don’t really know if that article’s that helpful to anybody who reads it.”
So algorithm changes which affect that sort of stuff have concerned me over the years. One of the ways that I’ve addressed it to go back to a lot of that content, and either get rid of it entirely, and just 404 the page, redirect it somewhere else, or have a better writer come in and write better content that’s-
Phil Singleton: Beef it up, yeah.
Chris Parker: … that’s just more useful to people. And so that’s kind of been my way of dealing with that. The one algorithm update which scared me the most, and I think all businesses and some sense should be kind of scared about it, was … I don’t know, when Google directly started answering questions. If you google right now, “What is my IP address?” Google will actually tell you what your IP address.
Phil Singleton: The knowledge boxes, now they’re starting to work in more direct stuff, and basically answering things on the page, and bypassing the source of where they’re getting the answers from.
Chris Parker: Yeah.
Phil Singleton: And that’s just been something, I don’t know the we can specifically call that like an update, where they just did this, and did it. It’s almost been something that’s been creeping into the search results, where more and more it seems like they’re trying to provide, really to me, data that has answers to it without as much maybe commercial intent to it. So it’s like you ask a question, you get an answer, so there’s no reason for you to go to a separate page. Yeah, I think a lot of people … Here, it’s funny, because this is one of those things with Google where here they don’t want you scraping content, but they can scrape content from you and show it directly in the search results before going to your page. But, yeah, so some of that stuff I could see, I guess, how that would be concerning for some people that are supplying answers to people like this.
Chris Parker: Yeah, informational sites kind of run the risk of either being scraped by other people, or being scraped by the search engine, and the search engine’s just totally bypassing you. The interesting thing about that update and subsequent traffic, is that I saw maybe a 10% hit in traffic due to that update with Google starting to answer that question. It really made me think of a couple of things. Do people just not trust Google that much that they’d rather go to my site instead of trusting a result from Google? Or, that I’m actually providing more information beyond that, which is what I’m doing.
Phil Singleton: Yeah, right. When I look at your site. I mean, I see some of the Google, sometimes when you do the Google one, it either gives you, and I don’t … and you can maybe explain this little bit better, but sometimes the IP address looks different. It’s like a longer string with colons in it versus you an actual whatever that multiple digit with the period numbers is. And it doesn’t give you like the carrier, and the map results, and I kind of stuff. So, obviously, a site like yours is giving you a lot more information than just a number.
Chris Parker: Yep. So, as a segue, or as a tangent, the short one with the period, the four numbers with four periods, that’ IP address version four. It was designed as, “We’ll never need more IP addresses than the 16 billion. I think it’s 16 billion that IP4 supports. Then magically all these internet of things devices started connecting up, and everybody’s got 20 internet-enabled devices in their home now. So slowly the transition has happened to IPV6. That’s the one that could be a lot longer with colons and sets of four digits, and you never kinda know whether you’re connecting via IPV4 or IPV6, and for the vast majority of people, it’s totally behind the scenes, and they don’t really even ever need to know. But you visit my website, and I’ll tell you IPV4, IPV6, carrier, where in the world it is, and some other interesting things that we might be able to determine about the user of that IP address based on available information.
One of the weird side effects of Google actually answering that is the quality my traffic went up because the people who were, “I just want the number, and I’m going,” didn’t come to the site anymore. So, average pages used per session went up. The click-through rates on all the ads went up because, effectively, Google carted off the worst traffic for me and kept it for themselves. So it really only upgraded the quality of my traffic. I saw almost no revenue hit from losing that traffic, which was really kind of crazy.
Phil Singleton: Nice. Alright, let’s … This is fascinating for me, I mean, just to kind of see how somebody that’s gone through it … Like I say, there’s a lot of people out there that are side-gigging, wanting to build up their own internet asset, so that they can one day step away, make a seven-digit income, and be able to do whatever they want. In a lot of ways you’re basically living the dream.
That being said, it’s like a lot of these quote-unquote overnight successes that’s taken many years to get to the point where you are today, right? It’s not like you just had an idea, popped up a website, and then made a million bucks one year. I’d love to know on that, we’ve got the $10,000 question. If you didn’t have any of your assets right now, and had to build something from scratch, and I gave you $10,000 to do so, where would you start? I mean, if you were gonna try and rebuild the empire?
Chris Parker: You know, if you were telling me I had to go into the whatismyipaddress space…
Phil Singleton: Something similar, yeah, something similar to this. How would you-
Chris Parker: I would just and wouldn’t do it, yeah.
Phil Singleton: If you’re coming late to the game, you might have another idea of it, right?
Chris Parker: I think I could probably do something in the affiliate space where I could build up content around products, and really provide some insights about those products, comparisons versus others. There’s a lot of sites that do that, to find a really nice … maybe it’s even the VPN niche because I have experience there. But to really find a really tight niche where I can really get a good understanding of the audience, really zoom in on who they are, what they do, why they do it.
Today, the ad targeting that you can do these days through Facebook and Google AdWords is just amazing. If you really know your audience, you can … I’d rather have 10 people who want to buy my product coming to a site than 10,000 people who have no intent of buying a product. I think these days there’s some crazy opportunities to make money being super nichey, super targeted. I’d probably go that route, and try to-
Phil Singleton: So you’d build a site, build some content around it, and then start just giving a lot of value, and maybe doing some really highly targeted advertising.
Chris Parker: Yep, and start working out from there.
Phil Singleton: So just off of that real quickly, you mentioned VPN. I think we talked a little bit about that in the beginning too, or you mentioned that once or twice. What’s going on in that space where there’s some interest? Why is that kind of a hot area for you, and something that sounds interesting?
Chris Parker: So the 10,000-foot view of what a VPN is. A VPN is a network, not your internet connection like your internet service provider or your wireless carrier, but it’s a company that provides transit for your data. So rather than you appearing to be surfing the web from your AT&T mobile phone, your traffic gets routed through your VPN provider, and it pops out the internet, kind of almost wherever you want it, wherever your VPN provider has servers. If I’m traveling in Singapore, and I want it to look, to the internet, like I’m on the internet in California, I can use a VPN company which routes my traffic through a server in California. So as far as the rest of the world knows, based on my IP address, I’m in California and not in Singapore.
Where this is really impacting things these days is you’ve got oppressive governments who are trying to limit access to social media and information, and so people in those countries don’t want their government spying on them and watching what they do. So they’ll use VPNs to route their traffic elsewhere, so they can get access to content which they otherwise might not get access to. I think even more so, people are are becoming more concerned about that even here in the United States as well. “I don’t trust the government. I don’t trust these big companies with my data. I wanna make sure that I’m protected,” and things like that.
Then you’ve got people who are expats. That are US citizens living abroad, and they wanna be able to access US Netflix. Well, you can’t do that from many other countries, so if you get a VPN which routes your traffic through the US, your traffic to Netflix and Hulu and the common streaming services appear to come from the US. There’s a bit of cat and mouse going on with that because the Netflix and Hulus, there’s licensing issues. They really don’t want to be distributing US content to people in other countries. So there’s a little cat and mouse game going on there as well. Usually, the use of VPNs revolve around, “I want to access something I can’t access my country. I want privacy. I don’t want people who’s website I’m visiting to know where I am, know anything about me.” Or security, like, “I’m on wifi at Starbucks or my local mom-and-pop café, and I don’t trust their ability to keep their network secure, so if I use a VPN, my devices are protected. My traffic is is encrypted, and no one can kind of sniff out what I’m doing while I’m gone at the café.”
Phil Singleton: No, it makes perfect sense. As you say this, I’m also thinking, geez, earlier this summer, you know my wife’s from Taiwan. We took a trip there, spent a couple weeks. Of course, we’ve got kids, and we have a Netflix account. Of course, if you go overseas and are trying to access your Netflix account through there, it’s like you can’t access it because you’re outside the country. I’m wondering if, okay, I wonder if a VPN would kind of solve that problem, where you could actually access something you already should have access to. They just don’t tell you, or aren’t explicit about you can’t use this traveling or traveling outside of the country type of thing.
Chris Parker: Yep, a VPN is a good solution for stuff like that. You gotta test it to make sure it works, but each one is a little bit funky, or can be funky in how they implement it.
Phil Singleton: Well, Chris Parker, this has been really awesome. Of course, I guess we’re kinda geeking down a little bit more, maybe than we do on some of the shows, but I find this really fascinating because some of this stuff also is a great lesson for … it just happens to be IP addresses, right? But it could really be anything. If somebody gets on to something that their passionate about, and able to build up traffic. It all comes back to, if you’re gonna do it full time, it’s gotta be profitable, and you got to monetize it. A lot of the lessons, I think, learned here today could apply to a lot of different folks, especially when it comes to advertising.
Can you give us … what’s the best way to kinda follow what you’re doing? I know we mentioned whatismyipaddress.com a couple times. What else do you have going on? What’s your favorite social media channels that you kind of act and distribute and share content on? Are there any other websites where people can follow you?
Chris Parker: Definitely, you can get all the social media profiles for whatismyipaddress.com down in the footer of the website, and unfortunately whatismyipaddress.com is too long to be a social media handle, in most cases. So you can find it there, we’re on all the main social media channels. If people wanna follow me personally, and kind of some of my behind the scenes and my journey, they visit cgparker.com, and find all my social media there.
Phil Singleton: Is there any particular one that you spend a little time on than others? Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, or they’re all kind of mixed up?
Chris Parker: You know, if anyone is personally trying to get ahold of me through social media, LinkedIn is probably the best way. I will provide a link for you for the show notes.
Phil Singleton: Awesome, we will definitely place it. Well, thank you very much, Chris. This has been really awesome. I’m so glad we get to have a person with your experience and of your caliber on the show. I just want to thank you one more time.
Chris Parker: Thank you, Phil. I had a great time. It’s always fun to geek out on some of the technical aspects of the site.
Phil Singleton: All right, bye now.
Chris Parker: Bye bye.
Dave Wieser the founder of DW Creative Marketing, a Kansas City-based marketing agency that helps local businesses increase leads and sales through effective marketing strategies and systems. Dave is one of Kansas City’s top advertising experts. He has a decade of previous working experience as an account executive for Kansas City area TV stations.
DW Creative Marketing, LLC has a strong reputation of providing marketing and advertising consulting services in retail and home services. These services include:
Phil Singleton: Hey, Dave. Welcome to the show.
Dave Wieser: Thanks, Phil. Thanks for having me.
Phil Singleton: My pleasure. Let’s just kind of get into, before we start talking about marketing and some of the services and things that you do around here in Kansas City, which is nice to have somebody that we’ve got somebody local with me we can talk shop with, tell us a little bit more about kind of your background and maybe those first steps out of school and maybe some of your early career things and what brought you to your own agency today.
Dave Wieser: Sure. Yeah, so I was actually a finance major in school. I had no ambition to go into marketing or advertising, and wanted to be a CFO or do something with managing corporate cash flow or some kind of training. We were going through kind of a mini recession when I graduated, and so a lot of the positions were not that desirable right out of college.
I needed a sales internship to graduate and the local TV station was advertising a sales internship, and I’m like, “Oh, that’d be cool to go work in a TV station.”. And I had done sales before. I had actually worked one summer in upstate New York [loss od audio]called Southwestern and did door to door book sales so that summer it was tardo I thought maybe let’s check the sales intern thing out and I worked under the national sales manager kind of learning the language of the TV. What a rating is, what shares are, what HUTs and PUTs are and when I graduated they offered me a job. And like I said, the finance jobs at that time weren’t that desirable so I said, “Yeah, let’s give it a shot”. So I worked for literally selling local air time right out of college for about two-
Phil Singleton: When you say local college was that here in around Kansas City or was that in another state.
Dave Wieser: University of Nebraska at Carney; go Lopers. So it was in the sticks really, my … the t.v. station was 13 miles south of town in the middle of a corn field. So I had to drive 15 miles before I could even get to a business. So when I started I had no, basically no billing. You’re starting from scratch and when I say I’m talking to local business owners, it’s literally Main Street. Main Street of Carney is paved with brick, so it’s everything you can think of in terms of mom and pop, right?
So that was … but the finance background actually helped me, I don’t know, maybe speak the language of business. You know, long story short, kind of cut my teeth in that small market and really kind of held accountable for selling these campaigns to, directly to the business owners. It has to work so you have to figure out how to write ads, figure out copy, placement of schedules, because we didn’t have a creative services department.
I sold there for two years and then moved to Kansas City and worked for the ABC affiliate KNBC for eight years and it was really quite different because in Carney, everything was direct pretty much. You’re dealing with the business owner directly, that’s where your sales come from. That’s who you’re held accountable to but when I got to a bigger market, well medium, it’s bigger in my eyes being from small town Nebraska, but in Kansas City a lot of the buys are transactional so you’re dealing with the media buyer, who has a media supervisor, who deals with an account planner, who deals with the actual client. So I went from 100% pretty much direct billing to 75-80% agency billing.
And that was just a big change for me so I worked at Channel Nine for eight years and then moved on to a small ad agency called Proof and learned a lot about research and brand positioning and then was there for maybe a little over a year and started DW Creative four years ago.
Phil Singleton: Awesome. And since then you’ve just basically been providing general marketing services to mostly local businesses here in Kansas City?
Dave Wieser: Yeah, yeah. And we’re … we kind of look and see ourselves as an external marketing department. So I’ve had to beat the streets and try to find my strategic partners who have various areas of expertise whether it be PBC-SCO, web dev, graphic design, all that, and so I kind of have my team, quote unquote. And-
Phil Singleton: Awesome.
Dave Wieser: Like you said provide any and all of the above services that the client needs to grow.
Phil Singleton: So let’s dive if we can a little bit into … cause I’m really intrigued, I don’t know much about it, I’ve always been really interested in … traditional advertising because you know I think a lot of folks think, “Oh, it doesn’t work and it doesn’t work like it used to”. My personally think that creating demand out in the market place is never gonna go away. Somebody’s got to go out there and try and like spur sells … stuff that’s open … and yeah, sure it’s changed a lot because people come back online to research stuff or verify or look for social proof, but somebody’s always got to be out there creating demand.
And then you’ve just gotta make sure that I guess you’re in the right places to capture it if you create it. But how’s that changed to you? Just TV, TV advertising … how do you see things people are doing right and wrong and kind of where are we with it? How would you explain it to somebody who hasn’t used it for their business or even a marketer like myself. I have no experience with any form of TV advertising, I just kind of love to hear your thoughts on it.
Dave Wieser: Yeah, it’s … traditional has really been beaten down. Kind of feel bad for the traditional media reps. It’s kind of like Apple/Mac commercials, you’ve got the kind of stuff [inaudible] versus digital to start where everything’s trackable too so, but when you look at the numbers. When you look at really at how people consume media these days, and that’s I think a place that really gets overlooked. The latest I think I read was people are on TV seven hours a day. The average adult. People are still spending an hour a day with radio; over the air, terrestrial radio. So that’s a lot of time. That’s a lot of consumption and obviously they’re consuming with the phone in their hand or their on a laptop and that’s obviously changed the approach that a local marketer has to take. In terms of dying, TV or these traditional channels, they’re still very, very much alive but it’s how a local advertiser approaches it.
So one of the biggest issues I see with local advertisers and traditional approaches is dipping their toe in the water. TV is definitely not a platform where you try it, quote unquote for a month or two or three. It’s a long term game. You need to be … you need to understand that you’re building a awareness. You’re building a brand. You’re building that type of mind but it doesn’t happen in a month or two.
Phil Singleton: It’s probably always been like that to some degree, no? Or is this-
Dave Wieser: Always. And that’s the challenge because in the digital context you get immediate analytics right? I know how many people came to my website off this display ad, or I know how many people downloaded a PDF for some kind of dated content. So that’s a completely different part of the funnel for a local advertiser who … if they’re not on the list, if I’m shopping for whatever category, could be tree service or a piece of furniture … if you’re not on the list in the consumer’s mind you really have no [inaudible] but again that’s where the digital approach comes in. So that’s what I think has for right or wrong has changed.
Phil Singleton: Right.
Dave Wieser: But the advertisers, they need to understand that it’s not dead, and the two pronged approach, the traditional impacted with a solid digital footprint, can be very, very powerful. And if you look at the top leaders in any market, most of the guys who are number one, number two, share wise within a category, they’re doing some sort of traditional.
Phil Singleton: Yes. And just like I said … of course we’ve got listeners all over the place, but a lot of them are in Kansas City. Just out of curiosity … I know the answer to this is all over the place but I mean if somebody did want to like to get started and dip their toes into a way that was like perhaps could be somewhat meaningful, what is it like investment wise? I mean is it usually like a few couple thousand dollars a month to tens of thousands a month? Is it like almost like some of these people come out like myself, you go out and try to build a website, well it could be a $500 website or $50,000 website depending on who you call and what you’re try to do. Generally start calling around figuring out what people do and you kind of understand, okay, I get an idea of like what an investment might cost to make sense but-
Dave Wieser: From a dollar perspective it’s really, really tricky. Because in Carney, Nebraska I remember selling Good Morning America 30 second commercials for $35.
Phil Singleton: Wow.
Dave Wieser: I mean that dollar is the same there as it is here, right? But you’re paying for the high balls. It’s just far less high balls in Carney, Nebraska versus Kansas City.
Phil Singleton: How does it work in Kansas City? Are you doing like a zip code or a city or is it city wide or is it like one channel, multiple channels? How does it … how does one even go about like figuring out who’s gonna see what, where, and what channels?
Dave Wieser: Well any station can provide you with the coverage map and the way Nelson breaks it up is what’s called DMA’s. Designated marketing areas, and for Kansas City it’s gonna be your major counties and beyond. So you’re gonna have some spill over. There’s no doubt.
Phil Singleton: Look, I’ve seen some commercials that seem to be like, when I’m flipping around or even on a cable station, they seem to be playing on different channels. Is that something because you’re buying it through like a cable … how does that work? Or should it only … am I not seeing this right? Am I only seeing it on one channel and thinking that I’m seeing it on multiple channels?
Dave Wieser: So your local broadcasters … that like your ABC, CBS, your big four. If you buy an add on the ABC station, that ad is gonna run on the ABC station in that market. It’s not gonna matter if you’ve got Comcast. It’s not gonna matter if you have Sure West or AT&T or Google Fiber, or any kind of paid TV for provider. That ad is going to run the whole market.
Phil Singleton: Just on the one station, okay.
Dave Wieser: Yeah, just on that one station and that’s why they talk … that’s why the reach is so powerful. But let’s say-
Phil Singleton: So do most companies pick a station or do they do all three or how does it-
Dave Wieser: So you asked on the approach to what’s the cost, and I’ll back up a little bit and I’d completely ripped this off from Jim Doyle and Associates. You can look them up. They have what’s called the glass theory. So local advertisers should really look at their whole budget, and it doesn’t even really matter what it is. And most of the time … and you even see it in bigger advertisers … is they’re splitting up that budget between glasses. And each glass is a different platform. Your PPC might be a platform, your SCOs a platform. Any kind of traditional, so a radio station is a glass. All these are different glasses and they take their budget which is a pitcher of water and they just dip a little bit in each of these glasses. What they should do is, from what my experience is … the biggest impact if you’re kind of approach this tradigital approach is just strip away a bunch of glasses and just overflow one TV station. One program, and own it. And be something to somebody. As opposed to just, how many of these direct mail opportunities are there. These shared mailings … there are thousands of opportunities locally for any advertiser to spend money. It’s overwhelming. But from what I’ve seen the biggest success are those advertisers who strip away those glasses and just vest in very few areas.
Phil Singleton: So then what … the company like yours … I don’t know how this would be more … let’s say the you’ve got a company like mine that wants to do perhaps … I don’t know if it makes sense for a web design internet marketing company to do a television ad … but let’s say you do and he comes in and says, “Okay, I want to do a TV ad in Kansas City”. Is it like you gotta do research to see make sense on what station. Do you just pick one? Is there like you go over a business channel? How is that part of that approach? I guess some of it might be … is there anything where there could be a couple different channels and there’s somebody might give you a better deal that they’re running on right now, so you run with that or? I know I’m kind of throwing a bunch of stuff out there. I’m just kind of thinking how does this even work?
Dave Wieser: Well you’re gonna approach it the same way you would any kind of marketing planning. Is you start with the customer, right? Who do you sell to? Whose your ideal customer? What do they look like? Describe them for me? What’s the age, demographics, psychographics?
Phil Singleton: Do they have better data now because stuff runs through cable a lot? Do they know stuff really better than they would without cable or does that make a difference? I’m just wondering how well stations like know what their demographics is versus like-
Dave Wieser: A lot of them will commission … I mean have you heard of Scarborough … that’s probably the biggest one where it’s qualitative research. So they’re gonna be doing surveys throughout the market a couple of times of year. Marshall Marketing is another one. You can dip into what is the demographic profile of a certain program. And with TV, because programs change from every half hour or hour or whatever it is, you’ll see audience changes between those programs. So we have to do the homework up front to understand what program might make a lot of sense to reach the ideal customer.
Phil Singleton: Interesting. And then, how … cause I can imagine … and we talked about this before … working on our previous conversations, Dave, and kind of even before we started recording the show and that is … to me it makes no sense to do any kind of traditional demand creation if you don’t have something on the internet to make sure that you capture your own demand. Cause it’s like … So kind of speak to that a little bit. Do you agree with that? Is it like when people are out buying media now … do you think they could do a better job of driving stuff to a website or is that something that’s still missed? Is people doing a better job of that? How has that kind of changed since you originally got in the business versus how it is now.
Dave Wieser: That is massively important. I think I even heard you, Phil, on another podcast talk about this. And it makes zero sense at all to invest in mass media and have a very weak digital footprint.
Phil Singleton: You think people are still doing that? It seems that some do.
Dave Wieser: I absolutely think they’re doing it. I see it every day.
Phil Singleton: I mean I can give a perfect example of a company that I know that I’ve seen recently do advertising and then go to look them up on line and they haven’t really worked on their reviews at all. So it’s almost like they do this thing, sounds compelling, do a brand search, they pop up. They’re getting killed on reviews because they’ve only got three reviews and they’re not so great where they should have like 50 and all of a sudden that money that they spent just went to the competitor. [inaudible]That has 50 or 100 reviews that’s been working on their digital presence and all of a sudden those guys just stole the TV dollars from the guy that I just saw.
Dave Wieser: Happens every day. Something as simple as buying your own brand and Google ads which cost nothing, you know. The SCO part is again massively important because that’s automatic trust. Consumer’s gonna Google and if the maps don’t show up or if it’s not that kind of relevant search but you’re in the top … you’re ranking for these key words … well Google says they’re, I should be seeing them right away then I should probably put them on my list. There’s a little bit of … I don’t know if the local advertisers are thinking that my TV advertising or traditional advertising is kind of going to take care of that for me. It won’t. You have to have a completely separate digital strategy to-
Phil Singleton: It’s almost like what good is the brand awareness that you create if you haven’t stacked the deck in your favor on the internet. If your website sucks, no good content, you don’t have good reviews, you’re not participating in social media, I mean you could do brand awareness all day long on mass media and all of a sudden the guys that are doing it right look ten times better than you. So that’s what I was getting at in the beginning is yeah, I think demand creation works. It’s like, “Oh, yes I do need a plumber”, but I’m not gonna go from the TV to the phone like I used to. I’m gonna go from the TV to the internet to the phone. So it’s like-
Dave Wieser: Well, nobody ever goes from the TV to the phone unless your somebody-
Phil Singleton: They probably used to though to some degree, right?
Dave Wieser: Maybe if you’re [inaudible] pets right? It’s just not that kind of platform. I have never thought of it like that. It’s an influencing, perception changing, attitude changing, platform. It’s ones that shapes opinions about a brand over time, whether it be positive or good based on the message. If you look at … I cannot stand bringing up political … we’re in a mid-term … you’re gonna see a lot more political ads. But these politicians have one chance, one chance to win. They’re gonna put three-fourths of their budget into TV. That can be backed up. Look at any study. And they do that because they’re trying to change the perception but obviously-
Phil Singleton: That works, right? Obviously they wouldn’t put so much money into it.
Dave Wieser: So that’s for a local advertiser. They have to be committed if they wanna … they can’t dip their toe in … they would have to be committed on almost in perpetuity to be committed to these traditional platforms.
Phil Singleton: Yeah, you never see in a mid-term election or an election, one advertisement. I mean those guys are of course are going on a time frame but they are doing a lot of it consistently over the time that they’re going after versus just kind of dipping their toes and hoping oh that one or couple commercials is gonna do what it takes to get the vote. It doesn’t work like that.
Dave Wieser: Exactly.
Phil Singleton: Well, one thing I was gonna say is it seems like it’s gotten better, although maybe not … over the years it was almost laughable where the quality difference between a national commercial versus a local one, was almost comedic in terms of how bad it was. And I’m sure there’s still some of that to this day but it seems to be that it’s gotten a little better. There’s local companies now that have TV commercials that seem like the production quality has gone up some, that are really good, but you don’t see so much the really, really bad ones, I guess. Or maybe I’m noticing less or maybe I just don’t watch as much TV anymore, but any comments on that? And how do you go about making sure that you’ve got a good quality commercial if you decide to do something let’s say in a local market?
Dave Wieser: Wow, quality commercial … equipment technology has gotten so much better and cheaper so there’s a lot more I guess, democratization of the creative services opportunities. So you can get really good production for a relatively low cost. Local advertiser for the best local TV commercial might be spending 25 grand or even more. Can get something easily less than 5. No problem. I’m definitely not an expert in that area, in terms of the actual technology and how they shoot. It’s just, I look at the ad. Is it distractingly bad? Does it pass that test? Is the message crystal clear?
Phil Singleton: Well that’s when it helps to have a marketing person like yourself come in and actually try and … cause I could see some companies saying, “I’m either gonna like go direct and do my own commercial” and maybe the TV station says, “yeah, sure, we’ll do the” or somebody will just say well … and it’s just kind of like the production is just kind of whipped together just to kind of get it going. Almost like if you do like a magazine ad in some cases. I don’t know, I’m just saying sometimes you can spend some time on the good advertisement for the magazine. Do it up or sometimes you can just be like okay the magazine got you to commit to it and all of a sudden everybody else says we’ll whip something up for you and put something in there and all of a sudden it’s done just to get it done, type of thing. Or am I oversimplifying?
Dave Wieser: Well still, all the stations, all the platforms are gonna have … they’ll approach you to do the ad for you.
Phil Singleton: But you can do your own I guess, is that how it works or they’ll do it for you?
Dave Wieser: You should do your own. You should definitely … and that’s something I had to learn over time is what is the point in investing all this money into shaping perceptions and not and just … it’s almost like the message is an afterthought. So yeah, it never made any sense to me why a local advertiser shouldn’t put a little more thought and effort into the actual ad itself.
Phil Singleton: Awesome. Well look I’m just gonna bring it back to close the interview out and just kind of things that … anything you want to talk about or like about. I ask people favorite things in Kansas City. Is there … it’s funny cause I’ve asked people that have lived here … what they’re favorite restaurants are and like five people in a row told me Q39. I’d never been there until last night and it was really good. I don’t know if it’s my favorite BBQ place right now. I still like Smoke Stack, probably feels a little more like … maybe it’s been part of growing up type of thing … but yeah, any types of places that you like, anywhere? Businesses you admire? Anything, just tell us what you like about Kansas City.
Dave Wieser: I like Kansas City because it’s a big little town. You have … commutes aren’t terrible, you do get some kind of the small town kind of neighborhood feels within different pockets. But you still have national things going on with professional sports and the arts and entertainment districts that make it feel bigger, so I mean that’s why … it’s still got the Midwestern feel though.
Phil Singleton: Any places that you like in particular that are you favorite local … no national franchisey type things but any favorite restaurants or nothing you can ring off.
Dave Wieser: Well-
Phil Singleton: Bars, anything, I don’t know.
Dave Wieser: There’s so many good restaurants but I’m a big … I love MicroBrew … and so Beer Station … it’s actually right across from John’s office.
Phil Singleton: Yeah, exactly, he mentioned that in his … he likes Beer Station too so that’s-
Dave Wieser: If you like good beer, these guys always have rotating taps and it’s the best beer selection in town in my opinion. I know that would probably get me blown up in the beer tasting KC social media page but-
Phil Singleton: Naw, that’s cool. That’s a favorite. That place has already got like two or three votes on my podcast so-
Dave Wieser: One thing that I do kind of want to close out with is … we talked about what works the best and that’s a hard question to answer because of all of these different influences that drive a consumer purchase. So there’s two key metrics that every business should be looking at. The first one is the advertising to sales ratio. So a retailer, a furniture retailer is gonna have a different threshold of pain as to how much advertising they can spend, versus maybe an air conditioning company or plumber. You should know that number. So if you’re spending money on advertising whatever in all of these places, and you’re growing and you’re still hitting … you’re not overspending, then your advertising is working.
Phil Singleton: Right, okay.
Dave Wieser: If you are not growing and you are … one, not growing or you’re over spending and not growing. You’re over that advertising to sales ratio, then you really need to look and see what’s going on.
Phil Singleton: It gets tricky though, cause if you do the advertising say on traditional media and mass market and it works and it drives people back to the internet where a lot of them are gonna go. And they click on SCO or they click on PBC or they click on PBC on social or whatever, there’s a cost to that but it’s all kind of working together, right, cause you-
Dave Wieser: That’s where messaging comes in. That’s where positioning comes in. Like how are you different. And so there’s this eco system of marketing … it’s really complex and it’s just never as easy as we’re gonna advertise in this place or do these things and expect to grow. So there’s just so many factors that we need to look at and that’s probably-
Phil Singleton: So look at advertising to sales, and if the sales and if the stuff’s working-
Dave Wieser: Advertising to sales ratio. And different businesses would have different thresholds. If you wanna grow maybe that ratio is higher. It just depends on how mature the business is and your propensity to grow … put more money into it.
Phil Singleton: You mentioned one thing as I close out … I’ve done this for some of my clients before … is there are a lot of businesses out there that spend money on TV and some of the ones I noticed that don’t do a good job on the back when it’s my client, we’ll go out and if we see somebody doing a campaign, we’ll bid on their words while they’re doing TV. Especially if they’re not doing a good job picking up on the web presence.
You gotta kind of look out for that stuff too. So if you’re out there creating demand and you’re not catching it online, there’s gonna be other people that are in, especially digital marketing, that are gonna see you create that digital demand and they’re gonna try and steal your marketing dollars when they come back online if you’re not taking care of that other piece of the pie basically. You mentioned, Dave, and I really should have been on your own bat, your own brand works … you should because smart other guys that are trying … are gonna probably bid on your … if they see you doing mass marketing, they’re gonna come back online and bid on your words if you’re not. Or in addition to you. Just kind of another thing that I’ve done myself so I know people are doing it if I’m doing it, other people are doing it.
Dave Wieser: Oh absolutely. And that’s another thing that a local advertiser … if you’re bidding on competitors key words are those really converting. That’s where call tracking comes in and that’s where recording conversations come in, so it just gets more complex by the day.
Phil Singleton: Well, that’s awesome. Some really great conversation that we haven’t had anybody come on the show and talk about these pieces and kind of how they tie together. Tell us where we can learn more about you online and follow what you’re doing.
Dave Wieser: Twitter is @DWCreative and can find me online at DWCreativemarketing.com.
Phil Singleton: Awesome. We’ll put all that stuff up on the show notes. Dave, thanks so much for sharing your experience and all these great tips.
Dave Wieser: Thank you, Phil, really enjoyed it.
Ruben is the founder of Bidsketch, a bootstrapped SaaS app that’s used by thousands of freelancers, agencies and sales teams to create professional looking client proposals. He launched it on the side nine years ago, working nights and weekends, and grew it into a profitable product shortly after it launched. He’s also now starting a new SaaS called Docsketch, which is an electronic signature product that gets sales documents signed 40% faster.
Phil Singleton: Ruben, welcome to the show.
Ruben Gamez: Hey. How you doing? Thanks for inviting me.
Phil Singleton: Yeah, it’s going to be really fun. First, I’d just love to get just a little bit of your background, like whatever happened your first steps out of whatever your last stop and kind of the academic world is. Whether if it was high school, college, graduate school, whatever that was like and jumping into the real world, like how you started. Was it in a different direction, jumped somewhere else? Tell us kind of how your path that led you here today was.
Ruben Gamez: Sure. I never went to high school, so I was 15-ish or something when I was done with that and I started working construction actually, in California. That’s how I started out. It wasn’t until years later where I moved to South Florida and I was working … I was at the time, I think it was in my early like 20, 21, just getting into all sorts of trouble. I sort of grew up in a bad area in California. Lots of gangs and all that stuff.
Ruben Gamez: Moved to Florida to kind of get out of trouble and got back into trouble a bit for a little while. Then just got tired of it. Decided that I needed, I should probably go to school or do something. I decided to get a job as a security job, because that’s a good … I could do that at night, do my homework, get paid, then eventually get a job in something. At my job being a security guard, I met this programmer at it was an American Express building. He asked me what were my plans, what was I thinking of doing. I told him going to school. He said, “For what?” I said “I don’t know.” I didn’t really come from that world. I didn’t know any people who had gone to college or stuff like that.
Ruben Gamez: He took out his paycheck from his pocket and showed it to me. He said, “You should get into programming.” I saw that and said, “Wow.” As far as legit money made, that was the most that I had ever seen. I didn’t know that people actually made that much money, so I decided okay I think I’ll check into this. I did, but I went to this really crappy technical school where they have programming. I did that for about a year, and then …
Phil Singleton: What was that like? Pulling your hair out? Did you figure out it was something you wanted to do? Was it like I’m not sure about this?
Well I didn’t know anything about computers. I didn’t have a computer, so my biggest fear was that I’d start school day one and they’d ask us to turn on the computers and that I would just be standing there not knowing how to turn on a computer.
– Ruben Gamez
Ruben Gamez: Well I didn’t know anything about computers. I didn’t have a computer, so my biggest fear was that I’d start school day one and they’d ask us to turn on the computers and that I would just be standing there not knowing how to turn on a computer. So because I didn’t have a computer. What I would do is I would write out programs on a notepad at home, and then when I got back to class I typed them all out and of course they had errors and stuff like that. It was about six months before I was able to get hold of a computer to be able to start thing that way.
Ruben Gamez: Then I met somebody and got a job doing technical support for Compaq. It was just like $12.00 an hour or something like that, but it was a lot of money to me at the time. I thought I made it. That’s it. I stopped going to school after about a year. Through there I met somebody else who had his own website. I asked him how he did that. He just like…you can teach yourself all sorts of web stuff. I just got fascinated with it and spent a lot of time doing it. Built up a couple of websites. Did a lot of stuff with computers and all that stuff. Just self-taught. Actually I’m studying between calls and all that stuff at that place.
Ruben Gamez: Now after about a year, year and a half or something like that, I created a thick portfolio and got certifications for the past and got certifications for programming for different things and got a job doing development. They hired me at a payroll company. It’s a privately held payroll company in the United States. They hired me … At the time it was small at the time. Just a very small amount of people. They didn’t have a developer, so I was the first one that they hired. They said that they really didn’t plan on building their development team around here. It was kind of like a test for them. Definitely a test for me. Then over the next few years I spent there eight years. I learned more-
Phil Singleton: At that time you must have really been picking up some hard skills at that point, so that was a nice-
Ruben Gamez: Yeah. Once I got into it, like when I first got the tech support job I spent all day, all night just programming.
Phil Singleton: Wow okay. You’re off and running then.
Ruben Gamez: I have an obsessive-type personality. Over the years I hired a couple people. I became a dev lead then hired more people. Then I had dev leads, eventually I ended up where I was managing the web development department, managing managers as well as business and other things like that. That’s where I realized that I was making a lot of money, but I didn’t like what I was doing because I wasn’t programming anymore and all that stuff. Read a couple books about just starting your own business and doing products and did that on the side and had some success. Grew it for about a year and a half, and then there was enough to replace my salary. Then did that and grew a team there and all that stuff.
Phil Singleton: So that last job at the payroll company was when you started the sketch on the side that was the birth of …
Ruben Gamez: Yeah. After being there many years and getting promoted and getting bumps in salary. I got to a point there like okay money isn’t really … Because when you’re poor it was a big deal. But then once you start getting at once you have it, if you’re not doing something that you don’t really enjoy, then …
Phil Singleton: Days get really long.
Ruben Gamez: Yeah.
Phil Singleton: That’s so awesome, dude. That’s the most, probably the most amazing story I think I’ve heard in tech firsthand like that. Really cool and inspirational how you totally … You bootstrapped the app. You have it up in your bio, but you basically bootstrapped an entire career from … It could have gone a totally different direction if you didn’t have the ambition and tenacity to make it happen. That is so awesome. Wow. I’m blown away. I didn’t know that was your whole story. I mean, I’ve known of you and known you kind of, for a few years now, but I didn’t know that part of your story. Thanks for sharing that. That’s amazing.
Ruben Gamez: Yeah of course. It’s always hard to know where to start when somebody asks about … Go back to where school or wherever you started and say …
Phil Singleton: That’s the thing, is like where you’re … yeah. So awesome. Let’s talk a little bit about what Bidsketch is, because like I said, a lot of our listeners, probably half or more are digital marketers and they have their own agency, whether its web design or SCO or that type of thing. We played around with doing … I never really committed to getting one, course I probably now am going to sign up for Bidsketch and really make this happen. We still, embarrassingly enough, still do stuff in documents, right. We do a lot of proposals. Tell us what, how Bidsketch would make my life different and maybe some other freelancers or agencies that are still doing it the hard, old-fashioned way.
Ruben Gamez: Sure. Most people that really like Bidsketch, they use it because basically the biggest benefit that most people get is that it cuts their proposal time by a lot. On average we say in half a lot, but there are a lot of people that say they go from hours to really just minutes. That’s the reason we do that in Bidsketch is because it lest you save up parts of proposals and entire proposals. It lets you set up not just templates, but also sections of proposals and sort of piece together, mix and match sections, images, stuff like that very quickly to create proposals. Then also automatically as you’re doing that … Let’s say as you’re putting information or templates that you have, it will automatically replace the main address, different fields, so that you’re not manually having to update that. Also getting to update that because it’s a common thing. When people are working with proposals, where they’re renaming or copying to update something. Of course that’s an embarrassing situation when you’re unable to Along with that, also helps in notifications. You get to know when they actually open the proposal, when they read it, how long they read it, if they downloaded it. Then it makes the whole-
Phil Singleton: Are you sending them to an HTML place to look at, or is it a PDF?
Ruben Gamez: It’s a link. Once it’s done, they can either send it directly through Bidsketch or they can grab sort of and share the link.
Phil Singleton: Then when they open the link, that’s how you snag the analytics of how often they checked it-
Ruben Gamez: Right. They email all that and it’s viewable on the Bidsketch website.
Phil Singleton: Then they can download it? It sounds like they can download it-
Ruben Gamez: Yeah, they can download the PDF version of it as well. Then once they’re okay with it, they approve it, there are things like optional fees so they can just select, which is good for upselling and stuff like that. That’s helpful. All the people like that. Then the electronic signature part of it where they can just approve, sign really quickly without having to download the whole print, fax, email back.
Phil Singleton: Is there anything like, hey okay I did it online. I signed it, let’s say electronic signature, something that would trigger say some of us have a web development project we do fixed fee and half down type of thing, tie-in to an invoice-type situation, or …
Ruben Gamez: Yeah, we integrate with Fresh Books with Zapier, and then we have the zap integration so that taps into over a thousand apps at this point. Most any invoicing app can be integrated using the Zap integrations.
Phil Singleton: So it kind of works like that, where you could get a down-payment right like on an action or something? Let’s say I signed a proposal. Then what?
Ruben Gamez: Then you can either send the invoice through Bidsketch, but if you have an integration tied in, then you will send it through your integration. Or, some people they have an embed or payment for link that they add to their approval message. In Bidsketch, you can have approval …
Ruben Gamez: Their approval message, so in Bidsketch, you didn’t have approval messages. Once something gets approved, you can have like, “Okay, great. The next steps are steps; download this or whatever, and please fill this out” and you can have a payment button or link there. You can basically put in HTML in there.
Phil Singleton: Sweet. So most of your clients, what are they like? Professional Services? I could see that some might not work for a home services or a plumber or something like that, but for agencies, freelancers-
Ruben Gamez: Definitely we do have a fair amount of home services as well. We have-
Phil Singleton: Oh for like, okay they’re doing projects or something like that, like maybe a remodeling, right? And then they would have a proposal.
Ruben Gamez: Yeah, like remodeling … All sorts of stuff. It used to be very specific to mostly freelancers and agencies, marketers, web designers. Over the years, we’ve gotten more variety. We still have that segment as well, but we not necessarily having more sales teams join the system, and home services and different types of businesses, and basically anybody at this point that sends out client proposals.
Ruben Gamez: At the very beginning we were for creatives, specifically.
Phil Singleton: Awesome. Let’s get into how you got this launch and how you ended up getting clients and the digital marketing part of it because, here you’ve got a great tool that can help people grow their businesses by helping them save time and streamlining the process, but at some point, even still today we all wanna grow some more. What got you started in terms of getting new customers and getting the ball rolling, getting some traction sales wise, and what thing are you doing today, to keep new clients and leads coming in?
Ruben Gamez: Sure. At the very beginning before I had started building out any part of the app, I was reading books about marketing and starting with marketing first. So I don’t remember what I had come across but there was something related to SDL that I’d read and I thought it sounded too easy. You do a little bit of research, you find out what people are searching for. Then write some content that targets that key word, or those key words and then you’ll start getting traffic.
Ruben Gamez: Before building the product, what I did was just do a test. I did that exact thing. I wrote a post, I put it in out there and within two weeks it started ranking on Google and getting some traffic, so I thought “wow, this actually works. This is actually pretty cool.” I put a landing page of small email us, and just started with content a little bit. Then immediately did some research to just figure out if this is something people will pay for because at the time, there was nothing like this. Initially it was a little rough to where I wasn’t sure if people … I was getting mixed feedback, but decided I was getting good enough feedback more importantly, from the traffic that I had gotten. I started getting not a lot, it was just a little, but from when you’re starting from zero, any amount of traffic is great. And just the people that were signing up to email us, when’d they’d reply there was excitement there. That’s where it was like encouragement.
Ruben Gamez: Then I started building the product out and at the same time I was doing some back and forth, of product work and marketing. I didn’t wanna just entirely … I kind of understood and it made sense that marketing was important. So it was mostly SEO I did some AdWords back then too, just learning about AdWords and started off with the really high cost-per-click and through a course that I was taking at the time. I’m like “Okay you can get that down like with most things in marketing, your first attempt is probably not going to be the best, right?
Phil Singleton: Right.
Ruben Gamez: It’s gonna start off a little rough, but as long as it’s close, it’s like “Okay, I can improve on this, and get it better.” And that’s exactly what I did. Not having the experience, for me, just trusting the stuff I was reading online or wherever out I was coming across it. Just doing the work. With doing the work and making a good effort and doing some research, it started working a little bit too. Nothing was working to this huge amount. It’s just a little bit of traffic, some traffic through paid ads, some traffic through FCO, but certainly enough to keep me interested and it’s like, “Wow, okay, I’m getting something. Some people are setting up to the email list.”
Ruben Gamez: When I got to the point of where it was time to launch, I followed a game plan that from Balsamiq mockups had done a year before, and he wrote about it, which was basically just email a bunch of blogs and tell them that you’re launching … This is funny, back then, this was way more effective than it is now, as are a lot of things … and offer discounts, ask them if they want to write a review about it, and all that stuff. People would. So I only got three people, I emailed I don’t remember how many, we’ll say fifty blogs, that got a good amount of traffic, that had the right type of customer and I got almost no replies, at all.
Phil Singleton: Wow.
Ruben Gamez: It was not … my pitch probably wasn’t the best and that was not very encouraging, but I did get a couple of replies and one of them was a write from About.com and they said yeah, they’d be good. So that was just-
Phil Singleton: That’s a nice one, yeah.
Ruben Gamez: Yeah. It was really big back then. Then they wrote about it; I launched it in … it wasn’t until weeks later that I got one reply back and then another replied back, some of it was from the original emails. I don’t know why they were so delayed, but it’s like “yeah, well write a review about it.” At the time I was just focusing on designers, so it was like design blogs mostly. The way it works, a lot of times, is that once one writes about you, or once you’re being seen in the right place, the others immediately start following.
Phil Singleton: Okay. Snowball a little bit.
Ruben Gamez: Yeah. So that got like that. That counted for some good early traffic … customers. When I launched I did a whole beta period for two weeks, and then the first day I, by the end of the launch, it ended up with 22 paying customers. I did a whole drip campaign that I just ripped off from a friend of mine, who had launched a educational product, but he was following … What’s the guy that’s really famous for his … He’s known for his launch sequence … I think it’s called Launch, literally. I can’t remember.
Phil Singleton: I’m drawing a blank myself.
Ruben Gamez: He’s an internet marketer type guy, but basically, the method is you take a self letter and you put it in a drip campaign, is what it is. Following that, got some good results for someone who’d never done it before, or anything like that. Then after launch, I started getting good reviews, and I started emailing other apps that had similar audiences to us, asking them if they were interested in cross promoting.
Phil Singleton: By this time though, had you had a big break or was it slowly snowballing a little bit?
Ruben Gamez: Yeah, just snowballing. There was no explosion of anything; just pushing, pushing, pushing, hustling. But this is all within the first few weeks of it launching. Got those write ups all within let’s say the first couple of months. I’m emailing a whole bunch of blogs, I’m emailing people who had similar products asking if they wanted to cross promote. Started doing integrations, started doing some integration marketing to where we’d ask them, “we’re thinking of building out an integration with you. You’re one of our top integrations but we’re trying to find out which ones to prioritize so just wanted to check in and see what you can do on the promotional side to help out.”
Phil Singleton: Wow that’s great.
Ruben Gamez: Most of them promoted us because we did that. The biggest one was Fresh Books.
Phil Singleton: Yeah they’re great!
Ruben Gamez: They said, “Yeah we’ll promote you” which is really cool because they had millions of users at the time.
Phil Singleton: Sure.
Ruben Gamez: And when they send out their email to their email newsletter, I was getting so many sign ups, I though our server was hacked.
Phil Singleton: That was a great break!
Ruben Gamez: That one was a good one, and it was just through sending a bunch of emails doing integrations, but [crosstalk 00:23:51] integrations, but actually before we even did the integration, making sure that the ones we’re gonna do first are the ones that are gonna promote us.
Phil Singleton: Right. That’s really smart.
Ruben Gamez: Then more SEO; we worked on proposal templates which that was a big focus and just created a lot more of those because people were searching for that.
Ruben Gamez: SEO. All throughout this period we’re still also doing SEO, but all those other things helped because they helped us get mentions and links, and things that just help Google say, “Hey, there’s a lot of activity around this brand” so any SEO efforts we had going on would be more effective as well. SEO turned out to be the thing that was working the best. All the other stuff was pretty manual, but very useful when you’re getting started and when you’re starting from nothing or very little.
Phil Singleton: Yeah.
Ruben Gamez: Then once well sell, okay, we can get a lot more leverage through creating content focusing on very specific types of key words and where the intent is closely aligned to somebody who will pay for a product, and that’s where we just spend all of our time and had the most growth through that.
Phil Singleton: Nice. You still do that a lot today, but on the content I see, you’re obviously blogging on your site. I see blogging on authority websites as well. I mean you put-
Ruben Gamez: Yeah, but I would say the blog side of it would be more of an indirect benefit, more branding related actually, than for customer acquisition. Other content that’s not on the blog is much more effective for converting to paid customers. This is the same for most people that I know that have a blog.
Phil Singleton: You mean when you’re getting published on other people’s websites?
Ruben Gamez: We did that. A lot of guest postings and stuff like that. But I just mean on.
Ruben Gamez: We did that, a lot of guest postings and stuff like that. But I just mean on our site, like by other people, they’re not typical, like what you typically see on a blog. Which is a lot of top of funnel content, you know?
Phil Singleton: Right.
Ruben Gamez: Just content like what they, even content within the blog if it’s closer-aligned to somebody who’s going to be a paying customer. So, we might have, so something that did really well for us in the early days when we were focusing on designers was how to write a web design proposal. Right?
Phil Singleton: Okay.
Ruben Gamez: And it’s because there’s somebody who’s searching for this and that’s what they have to do right now. And a lot of them find the information useful but if they also come across a tool that helps them do this…
Phil Singleton: Yeah.
Ruben Gamez: Right, just, it’s perfect for that. Compared to like how to do proper upselling for your client. How to follow up on your proposals. How to…
Phil Singleton: Gotcha.
Ruben Gamez: Even though it’s proposal related, it’s a little more top of funnel, and the conversions are less. So we have content that does, so we have content like, we have a post on networking, we have a post on creating sort of like customer profiles and narrowing down and targeting your ideal customer as, you know, as an agency or whatever. And each one of those, let’s say, gets, one of them gets about 2500 uniques a month, the other one lights up, gets about 3000 uniques a month. Not that many conversions compared to content that maybe gets 500 uniques a month. But that is more closely aligned with…
Phil Singleton: Right.
Ruben Gamez: …somebody who’s going to be a customer.
Phil Singleton: Gotcha. I mean, I’m putting you on the spot there but you think of one that’s like a topic that’s more, so top of funnel ones I can get more traffic, less conversions. But is there one you can think off the top of your head that’s, here’s a like a sample and we could actually link to, there’s like, oh here’s one that’s got, you know? Maybe not as much traffic cause it’s not top of funnel, but, you know we can…
Ruben Gamez: So just like our proposal templates.
Phil Singleton: Those get, okay.
Ruben Gamez: Yeah. So we have…
Phil Singleton: A page on that, that gets good…
Ruben Gamez: Yeah. So I’m just thinking about like our agency proposal template. When I did the keyword “research” for it, there were at the time, it changes over time, but at the time it was pretty low. It was not that high. And of course it was easier because nobody was really targeted because there’s just not that many searches for it. Created something for it because it’s like, “Okay, this is the right type of customer even if we’re not going to get a bunch of traffic.” I see this all the time. This happened to us several times.
Ruben Gamez: So something that’s, okay, there may be 90 searches a month or something. And generally, nowadays I wouldn’t target something like that as much unless it’s just really perfect.
Phil Singleton: Yes.
Ruben Gamez: And created it, put it out there, started getting traffic to it over, nowadays it takes a lot more time to get.
Phil Singleton: Right.
Ruben Gamez: Starting from zero. But then, turns out, oh, we’re getting more than that. Let’s say we’re getting like 500. So five times or ten times the amount that is shown on there. It’s just better. But not just that, it converts really, really, really well.
Phil Singleton: That’s awesome.
Ruben Gamez: The type of customer is good. So we have pieces of content that are like that.
Phil Singleton: That’s awesome. Is there anything else that you’ve tried? I mean, do you ever try any, like, traditional things? Trade shows or any kind of paid stuff? I don’t know. Any like cold calling back in the day? You ever try any of that? Just out of curiosity. Anything that kinda?
Ruben Gamez: Did a lot of AdWords, and it just over time got really expensive, so…
Phil Singleton: Right.
Ruben Gamez: Do a little bit of it nowadays. But not as much. It used to be more effective for us. Facebook ads, have done a lot with Facebook ads and we’ve just not been able to make it work at scale. So we can make it work for, so, if we were starting out from nothing, or had very low volume, then it would be worth the effort to continue to do the Facebook ad campaigns that worked for us.
Phil Singleton: Facebook’s really, really tricky like right now. I hear a lot of people complaining that, you know…
Ruben Gamez: Yeah, it’s getting harder and harder.
Phil Singleton: You’re not, people aren’t seeing stuff they even want to see now. It’s like so scaled back organically. Like just recently.
Ruben Gamez: Right. It’s all leaning towards ads. But we, so we can get ads to work, but at a small scale. Once we turn up the scale, like they stop working, they get too expensive. But because we were sort of like a SAS business and we need a large number of trials and large number of customers to move the needle, if, you know, we’re just adding five a month or ten a month, it’s just not worth our time.
Phil Singleton: Got, yeah, ends up being more to…
Ruben Gamez: Yeah. But if it was the early days, then, you know, great.
Phil Singleton: You gotta do it.
Ruben Gamez: Right. But once you get to a certain scale you sort of stop doing the things that, you know, take, it’s about like opportunity costs. Okay, how much time is this taking compared to other things that we could do that are just come out? Give us a bigger return. But like my wife is starting to do photography and I experimented with Facebook ads, the Messenger Facebook ads, recently.
Phil Singleton: Like the chat bot stuff, yeah?
Ruben Gamez: Yeah. Those were really good. Those were super effective for her. And very cheap. Very cheap. I was surprised. So I think I’ll, you know, I’ll be trying some of that with our software products as well. But as far as like a services business, that was pretty easy. Now that’s kind of newer, so that’s the way it kind of works, right? Like…
Phil Singleton: Right.
Ruben Gamez: Things that are newer, or just cheaper, and Facebook sort of wants to encourage people to do that more. So they’re gonna be more effective. Then everybody gets on board and they get less effective, you know? Then you have to look for the next thing.
Phil Singleton: Exactly. Dude, this has been really awesome. I really appreciate sharing this much insight with us. How, where’s your favorite places that people can find you and follow you, you’re most active? Is it LinkedIn, Twitter, socially? And tell us again your website?
Ruben Gamez: Sure. Probably Twitter, @earthlingworks on Twitter.
Phil Singleton: Okay, I’ll make sure I include that.
Ruben Gamez: Bidsketch of course for proposals, and Docsketch for electronic signatures.
Phil Singleton: So is that, yeah, Docsketch, is that out yet, or what’s the?
Ruben Gamez: It’s in early access. So it hasn’t launched yet, but… So that one was interesting because we’re just starting, we’re starting from scratch. Right? So it’s a new website, new brand, no traffic, and we’re now up to like 5000 uniques a month.
Phil Singleton: Nice.
Ruben Gamez: And starting to scale that up. But it’s really the same sort of strategy that I laid out in a recent post, where we basically said, “When you have competitors, it’s really nice.” With Bidsketch we didn’t have this luxury, there weren’t that many, there weren’t any competitors, direct competitors. But the way I think about competitors now differently nowadays. It’s just like anybody that has the same type of traffic that you want, look at their site through tools that can tell you about how they get customers and traffic and all that.
Phil Singleton: And what are some of your favorite tools to do that?
Ruben Gamez: My favorite, number one, is Ahrefs.
Phil Singleton: Yeah.
Ruben Gamez: That’s really the best tool for that. And it’ll tell you what are the top pages, how much traffic are those pages getting, what keywords the site is targeting, where are they getting links, links are really important. And you’ll find all sorts of stuff that is accidental for other companies that you can just sort of double down on.
Ruben Gamez: So like I was doing research on this other product that I’m probably going to be building out. And it’s just for sign up forms, you know? So it’s signup.com and SignUpGenius are the two biggest companies. And they had a couple of pages that were like, that they had written and posted about sign up sheets. But they didn’t have anything else on their site about sign up sheets. Just drilling, using Ahrefs, it’s like, “Okay, this gets some good volume, it’s not very competitive, and they wrote a post about it but they weren’t really targeted. Sort of like an accident. And then they don’t have any other content targeting it.”
Ruben Gamez: So then I just, using a keyword research tool, just sort of like, what types of sign up sheets are people searching for? I found all sorts of different types of sign up sheets, a ton of volume, not very competitive. So we’re gonna be, over the next few weeks, building that out. But it’s, that’s…
Phil Singleton: Just a serendipitous…
Ruben Gamez: Happens all the time. All the time.
Phil Singleton: We see an opportunity through just knowing SEO.
Ruben Gamez: That’s why competitive research like that is really, really, really good. Because a lot of sites get traffic by accident that they’re not taking advantage of. And tools like Ahrefs can tell you where it’s coming from, and you can, like, maybe it’s an accident for them, but we can do it on purpose.
Phil Singleton: In your case you can not only create better content and outrank them again, but you can build a new business around it.
Ruben Gamez: Right. Exactly. Yes.
Phil Singleton: That’s really awesome. So we’re gonna check out Docsketch too, and, you know, link to that and stuff, and any articles that you have as an example of anything else that we talked about, please send those so we can put them in the show notes as well. But Ruben, so awesome man. This has been really, really cool. I so much appreciate you joining us and sharing your experience with me and our users, listeners. Great, great episode. I can’t wait to promote this one.
Ruben Gamez: Alright, well, thanks, thanks for inviting me. It was fun.
Phil Singleton: Hello everybody and welcome to another episode of The Local Business Leaders podcast. I’m your host Phil Singleton. Today our featured guest is Brad Burrow. Brad has a full range of experience and a wide range of production disciples from broadcast, film and TV commercials, to high end B2B and B2C communications. He’s directed national spots for Biton USA, did I say that right?
Brad Burrow: Biton, correct, yeah.
Phil Singleton: All right. ESPN, Lowe’s and the Golf Channel. Experience as a writer, director, producer and editor. 18 years building a successful production company. Has a variety of working experience with a range of talented people including Ken Griffey Jr., Trace Adkins, Joba Chamberlain, did I say that right?
Brad Burrow: “Jobba” actually.
Phil Singleton: Joba, sorry. I thought that sounded wrong when I said it out loud. Josh Beckett, Bill Curtis and George Brett. He’s also worked with a variety of clients including the Cincinnati Red, the KC Chiefs, woo! The KC Royals, Kansas University, Maryland University and many more. Brad, welcome to the show.
Brad Burrow: Yeah, thanks for having me.
Phil Singleton: I don’t think I even mentioned your company name here so I’ll make sure I mention that at the beginning. It’s Brad Burrow from Real Media, right here in Kansas City.
Brad Burrow: Yep, you got it.
Phil Singleton: Awesome. Well give us a little bit background about how you got started into the business world. Your first days kind of walking out of college or what have you and kind of what put you path to where you are today.
Brad Burrow: Well you know it’s really interesting, I paid my through college playing in bands and really my goal was to try to get signed and become a recording artist so I spent many years working on that. I played full-time for 15 years and wrote music and did all everything you could do in the recording industry outside of getting signed. Through those processes I learned the creative process. Learning how to write music and lyrics and things like that which then kind of translated into learning how to connect with an audience. Learning how to create content that people enjoy and would respond to and that was kind of how I cut my teeth into getting into video production and storytelling.
Phil Singleton: Awesome. And then tell us about Real Media, how did that come about?
Brad Burrow: Let’s see how. I started Real Media in 97, before that I’d actually, like I said, played in bands and stuff but I had started a little company called Video Doctor, which I fixed video tapes for Blockbuster Video and ended up having every Blockbuster from Minneapolis to San Antonio and Houston sending their broken video tapes to my house in Olathe, believe it or not.
Phil Singleton: Wow.
Brad Burrow: I was on the cover of the Business Journal. It was a pretty crazy thing. The problem with that business is that it was pretty short lived because video tapes were going to go away. Technology was changing so I realized that I needed to do something different. I’ve got a marketing, bachelor’s degree in marketing from Wichita State, computer science minor. One of the things you learn in case studies is that business there’s a cycle to the businesses and so I knew I’d better do something, learn something different so I went out and bought a video camera and a little editing system and I learned how to make videos and that was the beginning of my career as a director and video producer. That was probably 25 years ago.
Phil Singleton: So that’s pretty much self-taught almost it sounds like. I know the internet didn’t probably have a lot of courses and things like that and blogs that could teach you. YouTube where you could basically self-study your way in a short period of time.
Brad Burrow: Very true. Actually the interesting thing about that, I made a lot of mistakes. I had to learn from my mistakes a lot and but I also don’t have kind of the baggage that comes with somebody that’s gone through film school. When you go through film school you think there’s only one way to do something. Well I never had that so I didn’t ever have that one way. My style was a lot different and still is today because of that. I go, I’ll work with somebody that’s actually come through a legitimate film school and will say, “Well you have to do an edit just like this.” Well no you don’t. You don’t have to do it like that. A lot of my work is based on feel and if it doesn’t feel right I keep working with it til it feels right and then usually it’s pretty impactful at that point.
Phil Singleton: Awesome. And how do you think things have, obviously you’ve been doing it for 25 years and 25 years ago the internet wasn’t what it is today so I’m assuming that’s changed video a whole lot. The way it’s consumed. Where it is. How it’s produced. Any comments on that piece of it from your perspective?
the quality of video on the internet now is way better than it ever used to be.
– Brad Burrow
Brad Burrow: Well technology in general but even the internet has changed. It used to be for example that if I wanted to have the potential of getting work from somebody, I’d have to send out a VHS tape with our demo reel so they could watch it see, oh yeah, these guys are good. None of that anymore. I can be on the phone with somebody and send them a link and they’re looking a video piece or whatever it is. It’s changed the selling cycle a lot which makes it a lot easier to sell. And the quality of video on the internet now is way better than it ever used to be. We used to spend hours compressing video to try to get it optimized so it play back good. It would take forever. Now, none of those things are issues.
But I tell you one of the challenges that we have as a business is that the barriers to entry to get into video production have come way, way down and it used to be you’d have spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to get high end cameras, editing systems, edit bays, all the stuff that would go into just making a basic high end piece of video. Now you can go to Best Buy and buy a little camera and laptop and you’re a video production company. It’s really forced us to rethink our business model and rethink how we deliver content and all that. It’s the way technology changes and you got to roll with it and you learn to adapt. Ultimately still comes down to being able to tell a story and being able to impact somebody.
Phil Singleton: That’s a great point. One thing I think we can segue into, from my perspective doing web design, digital marketing, videos has become so hugely important right now as a way that, all talking about trying to get, everybody wants to get targeted traffic to their website or drive demand and drive traffic back to generally speaking the kind of companies that are doing it right, you’re trying to some way, shape or form are driving you back to the web presence which is usually their website. Video’s become so important because once you get somebody to a website, well you got to get people to know, like and trust you quickly and video’s one of the best ways to do that. Like you said, to tell a story or maybe see who the people are behind the company and get really quickly, build that trust up as quickly as possible.
Even though we and you and a lot of people in marketing know that’s really important, I still think not nearly enough of small businesses are doing this. I have my own personal opinion and that is I think people think a lot of this stuff these days is actually still expensive like it was and they’re just thinking, okay, man to write a book, that’s a huge project, maybe I’ll do it someday. To get it right, like a proper good commercial quality video for my company cost prohibitive. I’d like to do that. Sure I know it’s important but way too expensive maybe for the small business owner or podcast or whatever it is. The barriers I think are small but I still think they’re much more attainable than maybe some of the business owners or the small business community thinks they are. Can you speak to that? And what things small businesses can be doing to start incorporating video into their marketing and their business model.
Brad Burrow: Yeah. The first thing I would say is that the power of video and converting even in a eCommerce site. You have companies like eBags, I don’t know if you’re familiar with them.
Phil Singleton: Yeah, we’ve got several of their bags.
Brad Burrow: Yeah.
Phil Singleton: And I think largely because probably my wife saw their videos and bought them.
Brad Burrow: Exactly right. You see they’re very simple. One camera, sometimes two cameras but it’s somebody on camera that’s demonstrating all the features of a backpack or something like that. And you’re like, “Wow, that’s cool.” Well, they’re conversion rates are way higher than their competitors because of those videos. We’re visual learners that’s the big thing about video. It’s like I think one second of video is worth 1.8 million words. Our minds process the visual images so much faster and at so much more depth and retention with video and movement than from reading something that we can make decisions quicker.
If you’re not using video you’re missing out on a big opportunity especially on the eCommerce side of thing. Any small business. But most, like you said, most small businesses think it’s I can’t afford to do something like that. Well actually can. One of the challenges that we’ve had as a business model is figuring out okay, we’ve been a high end production for over 20 years. We’re doing TV spots. I’ve had spots with a 80 to $100,000 budget before. What happens is, the big, big brands are spending that kind of money. Well a lot more than that actually, on production but a little small business can’t really do that.
I wanted to come up with solutions for small businesses so we came up with a business model called Stream Stage which basically is about 10% of the cost of normal production. The great thing about it is, is you can create all this video content that’s still high quality. It’s still broadcast quality, you can see it on a national network but it’s very affordable. The way we do that is by doing it more in a live production environment. Understanding, we understand that there’s a big need for video and it’s only going to increase but the challenge is how to provide that at a cost that a small business can afford.
Phil Singleton: That’s awesome. I definitely obviously full disclosure here, Brad and I met a short time ago, I think we’re already kind of like minds and very excited about collaborating and do a bunch of things. I am so excited about Stream Stage. Already referred clients to them and we keep doing so because I think this is such an important of the business. I’ve done some video, if you visited our site, our homepage, you’ll see that we’ve tried to do a little bit. I’m looking forward to work with Brad to do some more that’s better and more thought through because in the video that we’ve done on our website, we’ve noticed our conversion rates have gone up quite a bit. And we just barely scratched the surface.
And that’s one thing, like Brad you’re going to talk about a little bit more too, I think it’s like, it’s one thing to be careful I think about any type of content that we put out there that people will say is important or is helpful in terms of maybe generating leads or helping conversion. Sometimes we’ll say things like, every company needs to be blogging. I do believe this is really important to be blogging but once you just kind of say that word blogging then people just think like, they just do more blogging. I think it’s just like video. You just go out there and say, “Oh he said video important. Just go run out and do videos.” So they’re out shooting mindless stuff on an iPhone and dropping it on their website. That’s not really what anybody’s saying. You got to be thoughtful about the things that you’re doing.
Some of the things I think, and you can speak to this more, I think might be important forms of video are something where a person sees you talking. I always think it’s important to be able to see the staff myself. If it’s a doctor or a lawyer are somebody, at least at some point you can see the person talking. See their voice. Look into their eyes. Also, testimonial videos where you have other people saying you’re awesome, I’ve worked with you. And then maybe some types of things, you have a lot of experience with is just trying to figure out marketing message or maybe even trying to build story into something, some marketing videos.
Can you speak to those types of things? What people should really be working on ’cause I think it’s like, you just don’t want to always say video’s important, just go run out and get some video. Then you get price shop some video and then you get something that doesn’t have a lot of strategy baked into it. You put it up on website. You said more video, we did more video, we put it on our site. Nothing happened. Well it’s not just about the video. There’s got to be some strategy behind it. Can you speak to that a little bit?
It’s just like that in storytelling. If you’re going to create content that really impacts an audience, you’ve got a message and you need to know as much about your audience as you can because we want to know what kind of fish we’re trying to catch.
– Brad Burrow
Brad Burrow: Right. Yeah, you’re exactly right. I use the analogy a lot of fishing. If you’re fishing let’s say you want to catch bass. Well you have a pretty good idea where you’re going to fish. You know what kind of bait you’re going to use. You’ve got a good idea of how you’re going to get them into the boat. It’s just like that in storytelling. If you’re going to create content that really impacts an audience, you’ve got a message and you need to know as much about your audience as you can because we want to know what kind of fish we’re trying to catch. Are they a stay at home mom? Are they a business owner? Are they a millennial? For example. And then what’s your message and how does that message need to be communicated to that audience so that they’re going to be interested? That’s the bait.
The type of fish is the audience, the message is the bait or the lure and then the call to action’s how we get them in the boat. What we do to get them to bite? The more that we can know about those things up front, the more effective we can be in telling a story that’s going to impact. I call that storytelling with purpose. We want to tell them a story and there’s all kinds of studies and things that talk about how storytelling can impact our brains. It actually a story impacts our retention in different parts of the brain much more effectively than reading or even watching something.
There’s real power in that but if you know your audience and you know your message and you can tell a story that is going to really impact them in a positive then your call to action’s going to be a natural thing that’s just going to automatically kick in. You ask them to do something, they’re going to do it ’cause you’ve impacted them and you understand them. That’s what we try to do is really, really understand the audience and then everything are just tools that we use to do that.
Phil Singleton: It’s so awesome because that’s it’s such a deliberate repeatable process that you can just, that makes perfect sense. Okay, you go through this. We’ve got these steps. It pretty much works for everybody. Obviously I think storytelling’s really big all the way around and marketing in general is a really hot topic but you really help bring it to video in a way that’s really easy to understand. But then I kind of even see in my mind right now, it’s like okay, you got this process with the fish kind of analogy and then you bring that into a production environment that’s lower cost for small businesses. Let’s just say if you’re in Kansas City. I don’t want to hone too much in on Stream Stage thing. I do think it’s really exciting to talk about that because it just makes it so much more attainable for small businesses to get that really crucial piece of video content that I believe will really, really help people convert sales a lot more.
If you’re in a small business and you end up figuring out a way to get a good website, maybe get good traffic to your site and you’re just really trying to get that way to get people to convert, well some of things Brad’s talking about like the storytelling or having something quality enough that really resonates, that’s sometimes all you really need to help get people, push them that little extra distance to get them into the sales or the education funnel. You think about the things that really work for folks and you’re just like, gosh, I wish I had this piece to be able to put on my website to be able to benefit the way like some of these really high end production pieces are. Man, if you’re a local small, medium size business, got guys like Brad with his great company Real Media, it’s attainable. You can do it. It’s a great investment and I think it’s really important.
That’s one of the things we’re so excited with working with you because you finally got this piece of the puzzle in a way that can really help clients out. Really appreciate you coming to the show and sharing your story.
Brad Burrow: Yeah.
Phil Singleton: Where can we learn more about you in terms of like your website and maybe places that you like to hang out social, online? So people can follow.
Brad Burrow: Yeah, at Real Media we have our websites realmediakc.com, not Real Media but realmediakc.com/streamstage if you’re interesting in seeing how that works. That’s a place you can check that out. Go to our website. We have a LinkedIn page. We’re actually doing a, we’re using Stream Stage to create a show on LinkedIn called Real Talk. If you go to our LinkedIn page you’ll see show where we’re interviewing CEOs. Actually we’ve got Joel Goldberg from Fox Sports that comes in and interviews CEOs so we release videos every week on that which is going very well. And then Facebook page, Twitter and all those things as well. It’s a full-time job just keeping up with the social media side of this thing.
Phil Singleton: Right, right. And before I let you go, I like to ask all my Kansas City based guests, just kind of some of their favorite places to go, things to do in Kansas City. Places that kind of make them love being here. Places I guess if they’ve been away awhile that they’d either come back to and one of the first places they’d go maybe to eat or grab a bite or get a drink or refer a friend from out of town to.
Brad Burrow: Yeah. Well I’ll tell you, I have people come in from out of town all the time and everybody’s here’s about barbecue. Of course we’re the barbecue mecca. My favorite barbecue place right now is Q39 which I know you’ve heard about too. We live out in on the south part so they just moved out to the Antioch & College Blvd there.
Phil Singleton: Sweet.
Brad Burrow: Man that place is awesome. We could eat there every night every night.
Phil Singleton: That’s awesome.
Brad Burrow: And be just happy.
Phil Singleton: I think I was telling you, that’s like you’re probably the third or fourth person that’s been their favorite. I have yet to go there. It’s pretty funny ’cause on Father’s Day I was trying to figure out a place to give my parents. And I think they’d said they’d been there, maybe the original one once and it was like, ah, kind of too busy. They didn’t have good, super good impression of it. Course here it’s like, I’ve heard like three or four times it’s like the people’s favorite restaurant. I got to get out there and try this place out.
Brad Burrow: Yeah.
Phil Singleton: Sounds really awesome.
Brad Burrow: Yeah, you need to try it out for sure.
Phil Singleton: It’s on my list on the short list.
Brad Burrow: Yeah.
Phil Singleton: Thanks again for being on the show Brad. Looking forward to hear more from you. We want to welcome you back maybe and dig a little deeper into some of these other video marketing topics.
Brad Burrow: Yeah, love to do it. Thanks for having me.
Phil Singleton: Awesome.
Stephen Woessner is the founder and CEO of the Digital Marketing agency Predictive ROI and host of Onward Nation, a top rated daily podcast for business owners. He’s also the author of several books, one on search engine optimization, another one on viral social media and viral social networking. And his most recent one, which we’ll talk a little bit about today is Profitable Podcasting, a book that I just recently read and loved and we’re going to talk some more about that as well.
Phil Singleton: Stephen, welcome to the show.
Stephen Woessner: Thanks very much for the invitation to join you and thanks very much for being such a great guest on Onward Nation, you know, a few weeks ago. I really appreciate our time together and that was just awesome for our listeners. So hopefully I can return the favor for yours.
Phil Singleton: All right. Just to get started here, can you kind of fill in the gaps and let us know how you got started in a digital and what brought you here today into the business that you have?
Stephen Woessner: I think kind of like, you know, most business owners sort of being an accidental business owner but yet entrepreneurship really truly is in my family DNA. Predictive ROI is the fifth company that I’ve owned but I come from a long line of entrepreneurs. I mean everybody, back from when my grandfather immigrated here from Istanbul, Turkey and so we’ve all, you know, the 10 grandkids, we’ve all been business owners and so it truly is part of our DNA in my family.
And Predictive ROI really started when after I wrote my first couple of books that you just mentioned, I was at the University of Wisconsin at the La Crosse campus. So as part of faculty and academic staff and when the first book came out and then the second book came out, you know, it turned into consulting opportunities and speaking engagements and I wasn’t pursuing any of those.
And I just said thanks, but no thanks. I didn’t want there to ever be a conflict of interest with the university or anything like that. I was concerned about that. But then after a while it was, it was like, Gosh, you know, this could be kind of interesting. And so you know, one weekend one of the readers of my SEO book said, “Hey, could you help me build a keyword list?” And I said sure. And I said, “But you gotta pay me up front.” “Okay, how much?” And I said “$300,” and he hit me up for $300 on PayPal. And I’m like, oh my gosh, this is awesome. And then it just kind of started from there. And that was, I don’t know, about 10 years ago now. And Predictive ROI has been growing ever since.
Phil Singleton: Awesome. So that’s how you get started. It was basically just helping somebody off basically some SEO and it’s rolled into your own agency. And now, I mean, what do we do now? Can I ask like what’s your agency look like? What’s your ideal client look like? What kind of services are you providing?
Stephen Woessner: Well, you know, when we started the business here again, like most entrepreneurs, when you’re just starting out, you know, prospective clients come to you and say, “Hey, could you do this,” and “Hey, could you do that?”
And the typical response is “Yes we can and it’ll be this much.” And then pretty soon, you know, two, three years in, we’re doing all kinds of stuff in digital, right? And in just about everything that would fit into the quote unquote ‘digital bucket’ we were doing. And I don’t say that from a braggadocious perspective, I say that as a “Geez, that was kind of a problem in our business model,” perspective because, you know, we’re doing all of this stuff and doing it okay, but probably not doing it as well as if we really focused on a few things. And now we’re really focused on a few things.
We really focus on helping clients get very, very clear about what their point of view is, like, why they do what it is that they do, what their thought leadership is. And then we help them plant that flag firmly in the dirt.
– Stephen Woessner
We’re not a creative shop. We really focus on helping clients get very, very clear about what their point of view is, like, why they do what it is that they do, what their thought leadership is. And then we help them plant that flag firmly in the dirt. Like, “This is what we do here, this is who we do it for, this is who we don’t do it for.” And then we helped them develop thought leadership around that. We call that cornerstone content: content that we’re creating on a consistent basis, likely weekly and as either, you know, audio, video, blog content, whatever, that really pounds that stake solid in the dirt.
And then we’d create a channel agnostic strategy around that. So if it’s a podcast, we turn that into a hub that, yes, there’s episodes, but then there’s so much more than that, like you and I talked about during your episode on Onward Nation where the podcast episode like that one piece of audio, that’s cool, but can you turn that into Google reviews? Can you turn it into a blog post that drives then organic search? Can you turn it into a social campaign? So, we take all of that stuff and then ultimately how does that drive revenue back into their core business? So there’s always a monetization strategy. So that’s what we’re focused on now. And it’s been really, really good for us, being that focused on it.
Phil Singleton: Are you finding, is podcasting a part of it for a lot of these folks that are your clients or is it a part of … Does it work for some, not for others? Do you think it’s one of these things it’s more universal for most companies? Can you speak to that a little bit?
Stephen Woessner: I don’t think it’s universal for everybody. And the reason being is because certainly there’s some skill sets involved. Not everybody’s going to feel comfortable having a podcast and I totally get that. And and so there is some comfort level there, but it also needs to fit well with the business model too. And so we’re super, super focused on business to business.
So you had asked me before, and I didn’t answer it, I’m sorry, you asked me what our ideal client is and that’s typically an owner of a business to business professional services firm, across the number of different industries, but typically a B2B professional services firm owner that is doing about a million to $20,000,000 a year in revenue. They’re beyond the startup, but they’re not too big that we can’t support them any longer.
And then the podcast and the monetization strategy around it needs to drive business back into or drive revenue, excuse me, back into the core business, whether that is interviewing their top prospects as guests on their show and having a system that doesn’t feel schmutzy, but having a system downstream that then opens the door for an opportunity to do business together.
Perhaps it’s sponsors, perhaps it’s live events, perhaps it’s books or webinars or workshops or whatever. But there needs to be that strategy that absolutely without a doubt connects with the content and into their core business.
Phil Singleton: Awesome. And that’s really what I want to dive into a little bit more today, is kind of pick your brain on podcasting in general. And the first thing I want to ask is how you get about talking to somebody like me who say a little over a year ago I felt that podcasting was almost kind of a fringe marketing tactic or something that I didn’t realize was as mainstream that it is or becoming.
And then of course I got involved with it and it’s like, oh my gosh. Like, holy cow, what have I been doing and literally I tell people some of the things we’re doing with podcasts and is the highest ROI things I’ve ever done in the 12 years I’ve been doing this. But how do you get some … I mean, you know, for me, I did a little self study, read things from some thought leaders like yourself, but it didn’t take until you actually step into it and realize what’s happening
How do you convince people now that are like, that were like me? To be like, “Hey, this isn’t a fringe type of a thing. You do have to look at it.” And how do you get people to jump into it where I think a lot of people still just kind of have that like wall where they’re like, “Okay, podcasting. Yeah, sure,” type of thing?
Stephen Woessner: I think you’re exactly correct that sometimes there is a wall. So we certainly go through a process of sharing data, sharing what growth rates are, talking about expectations.
Phil Singleton: Do you get that though, when you bring something to a business owner that’s and they’re kind of scratching their head like, “Do we, would we consider?” And you know in your head that they’re probably like a super awesome prospect for it because they are a thought leader. Maybe they come out, they got the skills, they’re charismatic, but they’re still kind of thinking, “Yeah, yeah, yeah.”
I didn’t mean to cut you off, but you must run into that sometimes where where people are are feeling like that. I’m just curious how you can get them to get over that.
Stephen Woessner: I think part of our strategy is that we’re never trying to sell a podcast just like we’re never trying to sell search or we’re never trying to sell a video. So our business development strategy, if you will, our pitch is we’re always focused on, the client’s data points, the client’s metrics, the client’s business, how they make money, how they’re helpful to their clients, how them being helpful to their clients helps their clients be helpful to their clients, and really understanding their industry. And once we understand that and how they drive revenue into their business and what their growth and so forth is, or what their goals are, excuse me. Then and only then do we talk about video, podcasts, SEO and so forth and how we might be helpful in how we can help them with point of view, thought leadership, cornerstone content, so forth. So we never ever, ever are out to sell somebody-
Phil Singleton: leading on a tactic, so to speak of type of thing.
Stephen Woessner: Right. Never ever, ever, ever. We’re always focused on how we can be the most helpful and then through that conversation we uncover, well it might be a podcast, it might be a video series, it might be none of those things.
Phil Singleton: And then when you bring it … I’m just curious. When you do do the research and you come up and you do come up with a list and podcasts might be one of the tactics that can be good with it. Do you do have to almost sell or pitch why it might be useful because you’ve already identified that it would be good for them? I’m just wondering how you get … or do they normally come around once they’ve seen that and you show them the benefits and all this kind of stuff?
Stephen Woessner: I think if we’re at that stage of the conversation and I’m not talking about a 10 minute conversation, then all of a sudden we sell a thing, you know, typically our conversations are over a period of time, there’s trust building. They’ve had some familiarity with who Predictive is. I mean that’s what’s given us the permission to have that conversation in the first place.
And so sure, there are certainly are going to be some questions about what is the right strategy? Is it a podcast? Well, what’s the advantage there? But again, we’re not selling a podcast. What we’re showing them, our client or prospect, I guess at that point is how this piece of cornerstone content, in this example, a piece of audio in a podcast, how that piece of audio can then become, if they have a vision or desire to become a best selling author, well, how can we structure the editorial calendar behind that show to create the chapters of the book?
How can we use that as a way to have influential thought leaders on your show that can compliment the content that you’re creating for your book? How can then lead to workshop content? How then could it lead to webinar content? And so forth, so it’s never about “Geez, Phil, I’d love to sell you a product.” It’s always about how that cornerstone content can really take their thought leadership and explode it over time?
Phil Singleton: And also I’m thinking you’re … I mean, you’re actually practicing what you preach too, right? Because you got all this great stuff and education, but you’re doing all of it yourself and you’ve been able to grow your business based off of some of these things yourself. You’ve got a book, you do podcasts and you’ve got your own substantial audience. You are a thought leader in your space. So it’s really easy for you to say like, look, you know, if you’re a good candidate for this, it does actually work because we’re doing it for our own business. Right? I mean, so that’s a great thing to kind of be able to fall back on.
Stephen Woessner: Well and that’s a great lesson that you’re sharing with your audience right now and I hope your audience takes what you just shared and puts that into their business that no matter what it is that you do in your business, you need to be the supreme example of that.
Last week, I was back in Ohio visiting some family and my cousin took me to the gym where he normally works out, Powerhouse Gym, and he has a professional trainer who works out with him and it was oh my gosh, an excruciating workout. This guy really knows what he’s doing. Okay. But during a side conversation, Jerry said to me, like my cousin’s working on his sets and Jerry says to me, he’s like, he goes, “I got to stay in tip top shape because I am a walking billboard for what it is that I do.” And I’m like, “Oh my gosh, that’s exactly what Phil just now said,” you. We are all walking billboards for what? Like you could not go out and sell SEO if you sucked at it.
Phil Singleton: Exactly. In my case-
Stephen Woessner: If you sucked at it.
Phil Singleton: Exactly. In my case, I really only feel confident selling things that I’m actually using that work for me and I know some people are good at not … they’ve got the cobbler’s use story and they’re able to market and do things and maybe not do it for themselves, but I’m just not that.
Yeah, I don’t have the sales part in my genes so I’m able to say, “Look, I’m doing this.” I’m not the ideal guy that can go out and so you know, the whatever they say, the ice cube to the Eskimo type of guy, but I have to be able to show, “Hey, I’ve done this. It’s working for me.” I’m actually an introvert. I wouldn’t be on podcasts or building on my own personally unless it didn’t work and there was a lot of ROI attached to it and that’s the only way I can really sell it and prove it.
Of course you’ve taken it to another level type of a deal, but I think … It really does show that it works.
Stephen Woessner: Yeah, I completely agree with you so that when you’re sitting across the table from, you know, a prospect and you’re talking about his or her business, not only can you show the results that you’ve generated for clients, but you can also tell your own story and how you have to show how Google reviews, how asking a host like Stephen after finishing the interview to give you a Google review in the impact of that review has had for you and your business and now using that as a, “Hey, Mr. or Ms. Client, this is why we need to do this within your business and my team? Yeah, we know exactly how to do that,” because you do it.
Phil Singleton: Exactly. Now I really want to dive into something I’m really super excited about because again, it’s one of these things that you talk about in your book. And I was like, yes, I’m doing something right and you gave me tons of great ideas. I mean, anybody that has any thought about doing their own podcast or trying to understand why it’s so important and how it opens up so many other doors than just the podcast. When people hear podcasts, it’s like this one dimensional blinder thing. Like it’s just this audio thing, but there’s just so much. So many different angles and so many things that give … You’ve gotta read Stephen’s book. It’s just awesome. It’s the one book I wish I would’ve read a year ago. It’s already making our process better and is enabling us to squeeze more ROI out of it. But the one thing that really lit me up in the book, a money thing, but one thing that I’m excited about is the way I’ve been using my own podcast.
I think I told you when you interviewed me, a big part of my initial strategy for podcasting was being guested because the hosts do all the work and would access to their audience and all those things that we talked about, the benefit of being a guest. But then there’s this other whole part of having your own show, right?
And I was dumb in a way because I didn’t have my own show at the beginning when I did this guesting campaign because I could have had access to all these other podcasts consumers on the sixth year shows that I’ve been on or whatever. But my point I’m getting at is, last year I tried to do some outbound marketing. I hired a person for four straight months. I figured, “God, I’ve got this. We’ve got 100 and some odd reviews. Bestselling book. I’ve got a plugin that’s been downloaded on SEO 150,000 times. If I just go call people even around our city and just tell them what I do will just be like, be able to double or triple our…”
I had hired somebody that made phone calls, 40, 50 phone calls a day, one meeting, zero sales informed us.
Stephen Woessner: What?
Phil Singleton: It’s just hard to call somebody up and try and pitch. It’s just hard. But then we came back to it and I said, “You know what? I’m going to use this podcasting way as a way to ask,” you’re going to love this because this is exactly the things that you teach and coach and help people do. As soon as we started this podcast up and I chose the name specifically, I didn’t call it SEO something or web design or WordPress Gurus, this and that. I called it the Local Business Leaders podcast so that when we started making calls to book guests who are, again, this is coming right out of your playbook, potential clients because half of our guests are experts like you where I’m literally picking your brain, trying to get very valuable, free advice for myself and my listeners, that’s half of my guests.
The other half are ideal clients that were hanging the phone up. Now when we call people up and say, “Hey, can we have your executive be on the Local Business Leaders podcast?” Can you guess what the response rate is? It’s like eight out of 10.
And just the fact that they’ll engage and talk with you and understand it. I mean, the value of that is immense and I want you to talk to our audience about how that’s worked for you, how that works for your guests. It’s explained in the book. And just talk about how it works for folks. I’m just starting to see the kind of the power of the access I guess. But again I’ve just been doing this for a few months and I want to get some coaching tips for myself and my listeners because I have been talking a lot about podcasting because it’s just been a huge boom for a business over the last year and I think I’m just scratching the surface.
But I want you to help me with some advice now on what else we can be doing. Are we doing it right? What are the types of things that you’ve seen for yourself and your clients in terms of using this tactic as an access tool? Sorry for that long winded question.
Stephen Woessner: No. It’s a great setup to the lesson for your listeners and, and we call this strategy the Trojan horse of sales and you really illustrated the power of the Trojan horse and I think most people know that story out of Greek mythology but the reason why that’s so impactful is because you are no longer Phil the owner of an agency in Kansas City who’s looking for the new account. You are now Phil the host of a media channel, which represents an audience who that fellow business owner wants to be in front of, you know, he or she was like saying yes to you because now you are a journalist.
You’re not a salesperson. And that is a game changing moment when that happens. And so the reason why that yes is so much easier is because you’ve changed the context of that relationship. Now, what’s really important for your listeners to know too, is that, you know, I think that what you’ve done, Phil, is really smart. You’ve got half your guest list as your dream prospects. Awesome. You’ve got half your guest list as thought leaders who are going to add value to your audience, and certainly your prospects are going to add value to your audience.
Phil Singleton: What do you think about it? Is that the right … That’s just me.
Stephen Woessner: Absolutely, that’s right. It’s absolutely right. Now, the important thing that your listeners need to know too is that just because you have your best prospect or your dream prospect on the show, it’s not, “Hey Stephen, thanks very much.” You hit stop record and or stop on the recording button and now all of a sudden it turns into a sales pitch. That’s going to get schmutzy in a hurry.
And so your listeners need to know that that interview is the Trojan horse you’re now past the city gates of Troy. That’s great, but you don’t jump out of the belly of the horse and start trying to sell and so forth. No, that’s going to get schmutzy.
Instead, what you’ve done is now you’ve architected the start of a two, three, four month relationship where you can send them ongoing content, other great episodes. You can send them eBooks. You can send them other pieces of your thought leadership that tie back to the show so then three or four months later Phil can loop back and say, “Hey Stephen, thanks again for being a guest on the show. Really loved our conversation. In fact, my team and I were just listening to it this morning and you know what? When you mentioned x, that got us thinking about Y. We do Y really well here. Is there a day or time next week that we could sit down, maybe have lunch or whatever and talk about why and how we might be able to do that for you?”
Phil Singleton: And this is again, you’re kind of a couple of contacts later until you get to that point where it’s-
Stephen Woessner: Exactly. Because otherwise, it’s schmutzy. And then of course Stephen’s going to say, “Well, yeah, I’d love to sit down with you and talk about that because you know what? My team is struggling with Y.” And then he or she feels really great about that because you’ve nurtured the relationship. You started off with a really solid give by having them on your show and then you’ve loved on them for months since then. Why wouldn’t they say yes?
Phil Singleton: Awesome. Just in terms of like specific steps as an example, I know everybody’s probably a little bit different, but is it a thank you email? Is it a gift? I mean, what are some typical things that you would do over the course where you think you’d soften them up and how much would you contact them? You think it’s not annoying? I mean, your show is so awesome because it’s so professional in terms of the lead up and the follow up and some of the things, of course I’m just going to steal directly from you. I haven’t done quite yet, but I am curious because … What things that you recommend to potential clients in terms of, you know, setting up, is it like a three or four email sequence?
I’ve got one of these things. Again, I’m trying to give them stuff away in terms of free advice, that idea, this might be cheesy, you tell me how it works, after every show I have a guest on, I’m holding this up, I give like a, it’s like a stone coaster that I make featured featured guests and I send them out.
It’s another thing to kind of follow up and get in front of them and have something to hold type of deal and then maybe it will be an email or something, you know, following up and again, social tagging and things like that. But again, for me, I’m kind of just testing things out, see what works, but I know you’ve got some things that probably work in terms of how many touches and what kind of touches and what things do you do after maybe in terms of that kind of an access podcast. Can you give any insight there?
Stephen Woessner: You bet. It’s about five to six, you know, different touches. And you mentioned a couple of them already. Certainly a sincere thank you email and certainly the social tagging. And so we’re writing Facebook posts, LinkedIn posts, we’re writing a lot of tweets, you know, 10 tweets off of each of the episodes. We’re tagging the guest in all of those and lots of times in that first conversation I’ll hear, “Hey, thanks for all the tweets,” you know, because people like that, right?
And it’s not about me on the episode. It’s about their nuggets and pearls of wisdom that they shared during the episodes. Right? Okay. So then, I mean that’s just like kind of the ante, that just sort of gets you in the game. That’s just being a good host. That’s just a nice thank you.
And we have a Dream 25, you know, that as part of our overall guest list, the Dream 25 who we are really, really loving on. And so then this is how we take that even further.
Phil Singleton: And Dream 25, is that thought leaders or that’s a client? Dream 25’s a … prospects?
Stephen Woessner: Prospects. Yeah, these are the people we would really, really love to do business with. 25 of them and they’re seeded into our overall guest list. I mean, we’re airing 200 episodes a year, so about 10% of our guests lists are in that category. Okay?
So then then how do we take that deeper? Next is, we’ll take the 25, we’ll break that into five or six different eBooks. So we’re highlighting nuggets and pearls of wisdom. Again, it’s not about me and what Predictive does. It is about we’re taking those … across the 25, we’re seeing commonalities and we’ll come up with five groupings and five guests featured in each ebook.
Phil Singleton: Wow, that’s great.
Stephen Woessner: Complementary thought leaders. And so then there’s the book of like, “Oh my Gosh, I’m …. holy bananas. I’m in an eBook with Gary Vaynerchuk or you know, Kevin Harrington from Shark Tank. Wow.”
And so there’s the coolness factor of that. Right?
Phil Singleton: And how do you go about, do you set it up? Do you tell them you’re doing it, you just send it to him and say, “Hey, we’ve included some of your stuff in the ebook?”
Stephen Woessner: The latter.
Phil Singleton: Okay.
Stephen Woessner: Yup. The latter. And now when we’ve got this really cool ebook with their stuff in it. Awesome. Then, we highlight each of the Dream 25 in our weekly email list that goes out to our full distribution. We make sure that they’re on that distribution list, so they receive it and then we also forward it to them to make sure that they saw it.
And again, another thank you. So, so now we see that we selected their episode. Out of all of the episodes we selected their episode as amplification to the entire Onward Nation community over 120 countries. So that’s cool, right?
And then we’ll take that and turn that into like a LinkedIn article and we’ve got 24,000 plus connections on LinkedIn, additional amplification of their thought leadership. Maybe we’ll invite them to co-teach a webinar. Right?
So there aren’t you know, like tangible gifts and not that that’s a bad strategy, right? Your strategy of sending that out is cool. And I have some like, you know, that people have sent to me on other shows, right? So I think that that is cool and that’s a nice touch and then being able to amplify the insights and wisdom that they shared with your community, the audience that-
Stephen Woessner: -and wisdom that they shared with your community, the audience that they said yes to in the first place coming onto your show is huge.
Phil Singleton: Yes. That’s awesome. Another thing I noticed you do on your show that gave me an idea, too, is you interview a guest, and I don’t know if you do this on every one or just on occasional ones, but I was invited back to do an encore. That’s awesome because then you get somebody to come back. Now they’ve kind of … it just makes you feel … it definitely changes the game. That’s the only person that’s done that in the 70 shows I’ve been on, but it also kind of makes you feel like you’ve got an upcoming deal and more attached to the whole part of it. I don’t know if that’s my feeling or that’s by design or how … why do you do that, I guess, basically, because it seems really smart.
Stephen Woessner: It is by design. Well, a couple of things. You were a guest who shared phenomenal insights and strategies, but in my mind, what really made you different is you weren’t afraid to get tactical, and I love that. I love it when guests do that. So when I think about that, I’m like oh my gosh, I know there’s more here, and I want to learn more, and I know our guests, excuse me, our listeners are going to want to learn more, too. So that’s one piece of the encore.
The second piece of the encore is I walked out of that interview thinking this is a guy I need to learn more about personally as a business owner. Are there opportunities between predictive and what he’s doing in Kansas City? I want to explore those. An encore opportunity is a good way to keep us in our own sort of intersecting spheres. So that’s the other thing.
And then we also use the encore for our Dream 25.
Phil Singleton: That’s what I was thinking, too.
Stephen Woessner: For prospects. And so we reserve that, and that is a way for, again, for our Dream 25 to come back so we have an opportunity to learn more about them, them learn a little bit more about us, and vice versa. It’s just a circle of goodness.
Phil Singleton: That’s awesome.
Stephen Woessner: But it’s never ever ever a sales pitch. It’s always about how we can be helpful to our guests, to our audience, to our partners and all of that, never ever ever a sales pitch.
Phil Singleton: And how much do you think in terms of your experience are opportunities coming as a result of the process and that followup, and how much of a part of your process is maybe actually taking that initial step to be like you had mentioned before, hey, you’re kind of being a little more proactive on trying to initiate a meeting or a call, versus a complete inbound thing. Like you went through the process. They were like okay, I understand, you guys are what we need, let’s … you know what I mean? There’s that two-part thing where you’re maybe trying to push it a little bit and they’re the ones where they’re coming right at you because they fell into the inbound funnel and it worked totally passively.
Stephen Woessner: Yeah. I would say it’s 90% proactive.
Phil Singleton: Really?
Stephen Woessner: Yeah. And it isn’t because everything downstream doesn’t work or anything like that or whatever. But when it comes to [biz 00:29:15] [dev 00:29:16], we will never leave something to like well, we didn’t get any calls today. You know, I mean, we are … I don’t want to say ambitiously pursuing, because now it sounds like we’re selling. But we’re ambitiously developing relationships with our Dream 25, so they know that we want to do business with them.
Phil Singleton: But that’s just a huge, huge lesson, because I mean that’s a weakness I think that we have, maybe a lot of owners have is that you get something good, and you’re still waiting for the stuff to come in. It’s a huge missed opportunity for you, not following up and doing stuff, because that’s probably where most of the business is, I’m thinking, if you’re not proactive about it. And that’s just one of those things you’re telling me right now where I’m just like that makes perfect sense, knowledge bomb, where it’s a waste. It’s a total wasted opportunity if you just think you’re going to keep putting stuff out there and it’s just going to come and fall on your lap without any kind of proactive … because these guys, like oh their business, and some of the things you hear and you know, you know you need to be doing it. But unless somebody’s prodding you along and making sure that you keep it top of a mind, you’re just going to fall off with one of these other tactics or opportunities, or maybe they just get back into the work zone, and they don’t realize [crosstalk 00:30:24]
Stephen Woessner: Yeah, we kind of take it for granted. It’s like how often do any of us wake up, feet hit the bedroom floor, thinking, wow, I have got to call that vendor about whatever, I can’t wait to get in touch with him. It’s narcissistic for us to think that our prospects are sitting there just obsessed with us and can’t wait to pick up the phone. Stop it. They have businesses to run. They have the same challenges in their life just like you do. You, you need to court them just like your spouse did not chase you down for you to marry him or her. Right? There’s a courting period to that. You need to show some interest. You need to demonstrate some value. You didn’t propose on the first date. It’s the same thing here.
And somehow business owners get that all discombobulated in their brain thinking that somehow it’s going to be different with this type of relationship. It’s not. We’re people.
Phil Singleton: That’s blowing my mind a little bit, because I’m actually sweating a little bit on this. I’m just like … it’s like there is no real benefit to the full inbound marketing process, which I’m really just realizing right now which is kind of embarrassing, unless there’s an element of that pursuit. Because we do well at our range, but it’s literally the stuff that falls in our lap. Our followup is terrible. Great access and great in the lead generation, probably really terrible on the followup and the touches because I’m thinking, well, we do stuff well enough that they’ll just come to the door when they’re ready. That’s just such a …
Stephen Woessner: It does happen, 10%.
Phil Singleton: Right. And it’s guys like you are out there that are doing it saying there’s got to be the followup, there’s got to be that pursuit, otherwise, and it makes perfect sense, because people pursue us. People close stuff on us as a result of their persistent pursuit, because if I’m really not interested, I’m going to shut them down.
Stephen Woessner: Right.
Phil Singleton: If I’m kind of thinking about it, I let them kind of pitch me for a while. Maybe I don’t do it, but it might take a long time, right? The other guys that are doing it successful to us, we’re not doing it to our prospective clients, and that’s really an eye opener and an action item that I’m going to take right away, and thank you … I should be writing you a check for this episode. That’s some really great insight to really open my eyes up. Some of these things we have to be open to because like I say, a year ago, podcasting was not on the radar. Now it’s the third largest source of our leads and sales coming in. It was not even on the books. SEO, referrals, and now it’s coming off podcasts, which was huge, because there’s other things that we have to generate leads and sales.
So this is another one of those things, like how much money have you left on the table, but not having a followup pursuit process in terms of … because you open these doors up with these great opportunities that work, and these guys, especially those guys, they’re not going to say oh I went on your show, looked at your website, we’re going to hire you next week type of thing unless we’ve got some really good followup plan in place. So that for putting something at the top of my list today.
Stephen Woessner: You’re welcome, my friend.
Phil Singleton: So that’s a ton of stuff. My head’s spinning right now. I’m sure our listeners are too. How, in wrapping this up, tell us how people can reach you and something you’re doing right now and how we can learn more about things you’re doing?
Stephen Woessner: Some pretty simple ways. Your listeners can find my books at Amazon. Just go into Amazon, search for Stephen Woessner. You’ll find all three of them there. At predictiveroi.com, that’s our hub. You’ll find our podcast, our blog, all of our helpful resources and whatnot that are free there at predictiveroi.com, and then please feel free to look me up on LinkedIn and drop me a connection request, and I’ll accept.
Phil Singleton: That’s pretty much your favorite social channel. It is mine now.
Stephen Woessner: LinkedIn is my favorite. That’s where deals get done, and deals get done really quickly. And so we’ve invested a lot of time and effort in building that. Those are probably the three best ways.
Phil Singleton: Awesome. Everybody, Stephen Woessner. Thank you so much for coming on the show today. Really, one of the things I’m most passionate about is talking about podcasting, which is kind of funny because podcasts about podcasting type of deal. It has been a game changer, and you’re one of the guys who’s really helping folks like myself and businesses all over the place set it up and do it right, but make sure we’re doing … you don’t just do podcasting for the sake of podcasts. It’s got to be worked into the whole business strategy, and you’ve also got to be talking about making sure that you’re taking advantage of all these other things, and not just doing that one-dimensional piece of it. And this is all stuff that you cover in Profitable Podcasting, which is why I recommend that everybody that is interested in podcasting, is thinking about doing a podcast or everyone has, should we be doing this type of a thought in their head, you definitely should read this book, and it will open your eyes on why a guy like myself, who doesn’t like to spend money on anything unless there’s a huge ROI involved, why I’ve gone hook, line, and sinker into podcasting. It’s really changed my business and everything that we basically do in terms of our own business and even delivering services to our clients.
So Stephen, once again, thank you very much. We’re going to put all the notes here up and links to your book and website on the show. I hope we can talk to you again at some point once I unpack some of this and figure out more questions I want to ask.
Stephen Woessner: Well, thank you very much for the invitation. I look forward to crossing paths again when the timing is right. But thanks for the invitation, and thank you again for when you were my guest on Onward Nation and our listeners, I hope, had a very similar experience to what I was able to share with your listeners. I know that they did. You were so practical and tactical and step by step, which again, we love.
Phil Singleton: Thank you for the kind words, sir.
Stephen Woessner: Oh my gosh, it’s awesome. Thank you, my friend.
This is going to be one of my favorite episodes because in the process of convincing Larry Kim to come on my show, I found a really cool outreach process.
I tested a new outreach technique after I failed to get one of my SEO idols to come on the show, Brian Dean of Backlinko. Seriously, when I grow up, I want to be Brian Dean (although I’m probably 10 years older than him already ha ha).
I did a cold outreach to Brian on LinkedIn (total rookie move on my part), and he was really kind in the way he turned me down. Guys like Brian are pitched dozens of times each day and few are gracious enough to even reply so I thought that was really cool.
Note to influencers: check out the way Brian said no, this is the way to do it! He was friendly, he replied, and he said no in a way that did not give up hope. This guy is a class act as much in public as he is in private – and trust me, not all influencers are cool one-on-one.
Note to wannabe influencers like me: don’t do this totally rookie form of outreach that I did which was all about my “ask”:
This did not discourage me though, it inspired me to find a way to get influencers to want to work with me.
I have relied heavily on inbound marketing to grow my business and have never even tried any type of outbound outreach until this year.
Outreach seemed really hard, especially influencer outreach.
But then it dawned on me, like most companies, we were focusing on the “ask” and not the “give”.
If you focus on a give that is so compelling and helpful, it’s almost impossible for anyone to say no.
More importantly (and this was an aha moment for me this year) I have come to find that most influencers are givers by nature – in fact, they’ve given their way to influence by sharing their knowledge and helping people day in, and day out.
When you make a big, valuable “give” to an influencer, there is actually a lot less risk than you think, because more often than not, they will pay it forward – especially when by helping you they are also helping themselves.
My next attempt to get an influencer was even more of a reach: Larry Kim.
Larry is an all-time digital marketing influencer, but unlike many in the space, he is a multi-million dollar entrepreneur!
Larry started WordStream, the global leader in Google Ad management (formerly Google AdWords) and recently sold it for $150M.
Not too long ago, he started another company, Mobile Monkey, a Facebook Messenger marketing technology that uses chatbots.
Larry gets pitched 10-20 times per day.
I knew he would say no if I did a silly outreach pitch like the one I did for Brian Dean.
This time, I focused hard on creating a compelling give and I put time and effort into a strategy that would align our interests.
I’d like you to compare my outreach effort to Brian and my email Larry (ask vs give):
Phil Singleton: Larry Kim, thank you for joining us today, I want to talk about influencer marketing, we finally got rolling on this a little bit and I’d like to talk a little bit about how I got you on my show, because I know … you just mentioned in the green room before this that you get pitched all the time, you delete a lot of them, you just don’t have time … I’m sure you probably want to, if somebody reaches out to you and likes you so much that they’re trying to get you onto their … obviously there’s part of you that’s like I wish I could talk to everybody but I can’t … so I’d love to talk a little bit about why you said yes to me, because I think I tried to come up with something clever and you thought it worked too and what other things people could do to actually reach people and maybe get them to you know, participate and engage with them like this?
Larry Kim: Sure, well thanks Phil, you know, it’s true … I want to do them all but I get pitched … 10 to 20 per day, so it’s really hard to do that because it’s not like my full time role is in content creation, like that’s kind of … I’m a CEO of a start up company, I have to raise money or run different departments and marketing is a small part of it, so the things that kind of go through my head when I look at these things …
Phil Singleton: What do you get pitched … like what … when you said yes, I mean you said yes to me, maybe talk about that. I reached out to you in a different way and you said there were a couple things that you thought were creative about it, what did you like about the way I pitched you and why’d you say yes?
Larry Kim: Well you kind of ticked the box on all of my screens, so the things that I’m looking for is what are they asking for, is it directly related to the business that I’m trying to build right at this moment, okay, so right now I’ve got this start up, Mobile Monkey, and you were asking about chat-bots and Mobile Monkey, and so I’m like okay well that’s kind of more interesting because it’s more on topic to what’s top of mine … and you can definitely figure that out by just looking at the person … doing a little bit of background work to see what …
Phil Singleton: What they’re hot on and what their agenda and where their minds … okay, that’s one thing.
Another thing that you did really well was that the pitch was really unique, you created some content that referenced Mobile Monkey, like you created a blog post saying something like these are some really great chat-bot tools and you mentioned something, you were kind enough to mention Mobile Monkey, so now I feel like oh boy, this guy really …put some work into it
– Larry Kim
Larry Kim: You know, people will ask me can you help me give some ultimate tips of Google analytics or entrepreneurship and all this … and I’m like, well, I could, but I just … I don’t have the time right now. Another thing that you did really well was that the pitch was really unique, you created some content that referenced Mobile Monkey, like you created a blog post saying something like these are some really great chat-bot tools and you mentioned something, you were kind enough to mention Mobile Monkey, so now I feel like oh boy, this guy really …
Phil Singleton: Put some work into it?
Larry Kim: Put some work and I can’t turn this one down because I’ll be like a jerk if I … there’s a little bit of you …
Phil Singleton: Reciprocity almost, right?
Larry Kim: Yeah, like … it’s a well known fact that people are more likely to re-engage if you give something first rather than asking for something first.
Phil Singleton: With your permission I’d like be able to do a blog post and also I’m going to share it, when I send an email I said how I got you on my podcast before you even got on it, was that clever to get you … obviously maybe doing a guest post, getting it ranked, naming you at the top of that kind of stuff probably hit some check marks too?
Larry Kim: Yeah, so …
Phil Singleton: But I was wondering is it too risky, this guys got … is that too ballsy?
Larry Kim: No, it was fine, it was great, I did get half a dozen other pitches that afternoon and I deleted them all, so you know, you’re … it was a really great idea and …
Phil Singleton: It worked. Any other tips, how do guys like us who are on the ground doing this stuff, maybe have agencies and stuff, how do we reach influencers and … I mean I came up with something but I mean … is that the idea, is to go main frame, do some work ahead of time? The only time I’ve actually had influencers really buy in is when I’ve gone out on a limb to try and to do stuff like that, I mean, just work for them, do something really cool, and just hope that that effort was good enough, and a lot of times people who are influencers like yourself, I mean you’re there for a reason, you’re there because you probably at some point leveraged other influencers … you saw how it worked for you by gaining access or doing stuff or at least maybe sharing influence with other people that are … right, I’m just guessing out here because I’m an aspiring wannabe influencers versus somebody.
I still think the key to a lot of us is to try and get access and snowball this over time where you’re meeting with people and kind of leveraging their work.
Larry Kim: I don’t do a lot of influencer marketing, mostly I just do blogging, like I just do … I don’t do a lot of podcasts, I don’t do any video, it’s just blogging.
Phil Singleton: When you say get, you don’t do your own podcast and you don’t guest a lot on pods, is that right?
Larry Kim: I don’t have my own podcast and you know …
Phil Singleton: You’re not on a lot of them either?
Larry Kim: I usually turn them down because podcasts … the thing about podcasts are like … it’s like a lot of them have 10 viewers or something like that, and a lot of times the pitch is like … I’m starting a new podcast, you know. Okay, well that means you have 0 following and if I was going to spend an hour I would probably just create some content of my own for my own blog or something like that.
Phil Singleton: Right, awesome.
Larry Kim: But you know, you make exceptions from time to time and the things that kind of are on my hit lists in terms of things I’d look for is like what’s the topic, is it something interesting, or I have something that I want to share or …
Phil Singleton: Or cold outreach … in fact I read a post from you a few months ago where you were just like, hey man, don’t be afraid to … if it works for you right, you found the email, you pitch somebody, and you get a pretty … I think if you got it smart enough you will get responses from people more often than you think, right?
Larry Kim: I’ve like … cold emailed Reid Hoffman, the CEO of Linked In, and he gets back to me.
Phil Singleton: That’s awesome.
Larry Kim: I just guessed his email.
Phil Singleton: And you’ve done that more than once, because I remember … that’s awesome. So that stuff kind of works but you didn’t send it without some kind of a compelling idea, you probably thought about it and did that kind of stuff and …
Larry Kim: Yeah and another thing you can do is … another tip is a shorter ask sometimes might work, okay, so the whole be a guest on my podcast, that’s a difficult one because it’s like an hour or two filming things, but you know sometimes people just ask me to just do a little comment on something, so …
Phil Singleton: Awesome, so that … I didn’t … really appreciate getting your feedback on that because obviously I sent it, fingers crossed, and you answered and said yes and I was like yes, it worked typed of thing, and I’d love to share with people how that worked because I mean I did put some time and effort … it’s not like I sent you a cold email, I actually worked on this for like two months hoping that I would have something good enough to show you and you were great just enough to come on and share some really awesome tips and really get me fired up because I haven’t really been fired up to take action on something this whole year, so now I’m like cool, chat-bots is like totally ingrained in my head right now.
Larry Kim: You know, you’re like an agency, correct?
Phil Singleton: Yup.
Larry Kim: So you really need to be the first to do this as an agency.
Phil Singleton: Well that’s why I feel dumb right now too but I don’t …
Larry Kim: No, no …
Phil Singleton: I’m not the only digital agency that hasn’t done this, it’s probably the majority of us.
Larry Kim: Oh, 99.8 percent of them haven’t done it, but I’m saying like … you know how an agencies just like … they already have somebody doing their PPC, right, so like, it’s all about discovering the new thing that’s like new and that’s kind of your … you land and expand. It’s like okay, you don’t have this, can I do this for you, and then you do a good job and…
Phil Singleton: I’ll take it a step further and say I think the reason we don’t get that heavy into Facebook is because I can make AdWords and SEO work for almost everybody but Facebook, especially because of the old fashioned way like you were talking about, it’s hard to make it work anymore unless you do … but this is like … aha, this is how you get it to work, maybe I can even get it to work even better than some of those other channels because this makes perfect sense and if you do it like the old school way, you can see why a lot of people are like, well we tried Facebook and it doesn’t work, right? That’s what a lot of people say, a lot of businesses are like it doesn’t work, it works for this kind of business, works for that kind of business, because maybe they’ve got pictures or something, real visual, or more engaging, but they say for some traditional type businesses it doesn’t really work, well this could work literally for anybody whose got good enough … right?
Larry Kim: I just think it’s a really nice vector for agencies to kind of sneak their way into an account and then kind of, you know, make stuff happen. You always have to have something new to offer.
Phil Singleton: Well then you can come in and … I’m thinking right now, I’m thinking I could use this right now to kind of go in and offer something with a better ROI and actually move the needle and get more leads and sales basically because people just might not be using it because this is the best way to probably use any form of … that’s what I’m thinking and if you’re doing it, it’s got to be that way, but this is the way to maximize ROI in Facebook advertising. It’s just so clear.
Larry Kim: I think so, yeah, awesome. Alright.
Phil Singleton: Alright man, well, appreciate it, Larry Kim ladies and gentleman, thanks so much for being on the show.
Larry Kim: Alright, bye.
Phil Singleton: Hello everybody, and welcome to another episode of the Local Business Leaders Podcast. I’m your host, Phil Singleton, and today our featured guest is Jenny Kincaid. Jenny is the owner of Socialworx Public Relations, a Midwest media relations agency with strong local and national media context, and community connections. Jenny is mostly known for her expertise in public relations, and for her unique approach on community engagement, or what she calls social relations. Her agency takes relationship one step further by seeking people out who their clients should meet to help them further the business goals. And by building relationships that benefit clients personally, professionally, and philanthropically. Did I get that out right? Continue reading “Public Relations, Social Media & Local Kansas City Influencers”
Mike Kawula is the founder of , and co-founder of Dinner Table MBA. Michael is an entrepreneur whose last three businesses each hit seven figures in under three years, with this past being ranked the number 144th fastest growing company by Inc magazine in 2012. He’s an author. He’s been featured on CNN, interviewed by Anthony Robbins, and featured in over 100 publications in over the last few years. Michael has been an entrepreneur since September 10, 2001, has a strong passion for marketing, start-ups, his family, and the Florida beaches.
Phil Singleton: So, we were already kind of in the green room, initially talking about some things I thought I wanted to ask you about. Then, we got on the topic of personal branding, authority, specifically in how important I think and you think becoming an author and using that as a platform for your own business and personally to build up authority and branding, and all the stuff that comes with it. Can you speak to how important you think that is?
Oh wait a minute, before we do that, I’m going to take one step back. Fill in the gaps and tell us a little bit about your journey, and then were going to jump into the, I got so excited about talking about the book that I forgot to even ask you about your background.
Mike Kawula: Yeah.
Phil Singleton: I do want to fill in the blanks and tell us a little bit about kind of how you got your start out of school or whatever, in business, and what brought you to kind of where you are today.
Mike Kawula: Yeah, natural-born entrepreneur, I guess you could say, back to seven, eight, nine years old doing the lemonade stand, doing newspaper routes. Just always a strong passion for really to be honest with you, money.
Phil Singleton: Sure.
Mike Kawula: I remember at age nine, I bought my first stock. It was Toys R Us, ticker TOY. Unfortunately now it would have been a bad investment. In the early 80s it was a really smart investment. And I remember going to my Dad to ask him to teach me how to buy stocks, and he had said, “Well, if you want to learn, go learn how to learn.”
So yeah, I went to school, spoke to my teachers, one of my teachers took me under his wing and after school every day taught me how to read the Wall Street Journal. So yeah, I was super excited about that. But throughout high school I had done different things. I had worked at Cutco selling Cutco knives, had a perception that I wasn’t a good salesperson. So, I figured how could I make a lot of money doing this. Let’s say if I was 50% worse than every other good sales guy out there, how could I still get the same results? So, what I ended up doing was over the border in New York was a place called Mansi. There were a lot of Hesitic Jews, and they all practiced being kosher. And so, if they bought one set of knives, guess what? They were buying two sets. One would be kosher, one wouldn’t. So, ended up, leaned a lot about sales, became a good sales guy, and was one of their top distributors. Even had the opportunity to open my own office.
So, bounced around, did different things. Worked on Wall Street ten years. Nine, teen, 2001 came home. Learned my wife was pregnant. And we were about to have our first child. Went in on 9/11, quit my job right before 9/11 even happened. Thank God that they loved me and asked me to stick around, because it’s probably one of the worst times to start a business. But leaped into it.
Since then I’ve owned several businesses. Some have been big wins. Some have been big lessons, I like to say. But I’ve done everything from online to offline, do a local cleaning company where I had 50 plus employees throughout South Jersey. Online office supply stores selling 20 million dollars plus in office supplies. To our software company where you and I met, I believe which was where we helped people on Twitter. But throughout that process, there’s one thing that’s always helped me in every business, and that is having my own brand, right? So, and how have I don’t that? It’s being really everywhere. A podcast, writing a book, being on social media. Really letting people know who I am and what I stand for.
Phil Singleton: Awesome. I’m really interested too, and it always seems like my first job, so my first professional job was basically an internship when I was in college. And it was basically working for a company called Paine Webber that was bought by UBS. I don’t know what it is now. But anyway, it was essentially doing cold calls for investment guys that were in the organization that basically said they would come in and work for us during school and just make a bunch of phone calls. So, that really, doing that kind of really just thickens your skin.
Mike Kawula: Oh my God.
Phil Singleton: Doesn’t it?
Mike Kawula: I used to do, and this is, you’ll be blown away by this, 150,000 phone calls a year. So, we did 500 phone calls a day, six days a week, sometimes seven if we were bringing a company public. It just didn’t matter. Every day, didn’t matter how you feel. You get up, you go into there, and you just dial and smile. And like you said, it builds a lot of thick skin. My very first real J-O-B, I think I was 13 or 14, working above a bagel shop making cold calls to sell ads for the yellow pages at the time, I think it was. I don’t even know what the company was. But every night I remember after school just heading over there and for three hours would be on the phone and yeah, it taught me a lot, but I think everything. Today people are soft, right?
Phil Singleton: Exactly.
Mike Kawula: With online, I think. “Oh, let me go behind Twitter or let me go on Facebook and make a post and wait for the business to come in.” And they just forget. You had mentioned I was interviewed by Tony Robbins, I was actually interviewed by Tony Robbins and Chet Holmes together. And Chet Holmes wrote a book called The Ultimate Sales Machine and it was very humbling, because they tore my business apart. I’d just made Inc’s fastest-growing company and thought they were going to come on and just talk to me about my journey and success, and instead they just tore my business apart. And one of the things that Chet had said is, he had called me soft. He’s like, “Why don’t you have a sales team for your online business.” It just hadn’t crossed my mind. I had done direct mail, which most people weren’t doing in the online world, but I never thought of building a sales team, and during that one hour interview with them, immediately afterwards I put together a sales team and that took our business to the next level.
Phil Singleton: That’s really awesome. Actually I mean, I’ve only interviewed, and I’ve probably interviewed probably for the show now about 40 different entrepreneurs. Some of them haven’t been published yet. But one thing I’ve noticed, I think just about every single successful one that I’ve had on the show has had some experience with hitting the phones. You know what I mean?
Mike Kawula: Yeah.
Phil Singleton: There’s nobody out there that seems like that hasn’t had to either struggle at one point and said, “I own the company, I got to step up here and really do it,” and they just go back to the phone. Or have some experience with the cold calling and reaching out. I just think that’s a really important piece.
Mike Kawula: I’m doing it with my new business, I mean, it’s you know what I mean? Here’s a thing also. And I forget who it was, this morning I was listening to a podcast interview, and even he had said, and his company’s doing 80 million dollars a year, that he still gets on the phone. I still got on the phone with my previous company and my previous company before that, because you learn the most when you’re speaking to either prospects or customers about feedback on your product or feedback on your pitch. And as an owner, I think we all have to be doing that.
Phil Singleton: So it never stops, but I also think when you’re young, I mean that’s what thickens the skin. It also builds confidence. You do it enough and you hear no enough, then you stop hearing it or you start feeling, you want to kind of, it just motivates you versus kind of makes you feel bad about yourself, I would think. I’m probably not saying that the right way, but I do think in most cases, it really is a great lesson. Because if you can figure, that first time that you’re able to get a real lead or close a sale over the phone, I mean I think it changes you to some extent, and it really is very important.
Mike Kawula: Oh my God. I remember getting my first seven figure client. And I’d never met the guy. And this was through a cold call and dialing and smiling. He was a cardiologist and he invested with a company that we had bought public and then eventually moved over a little part of his portfolio to us. And it was all through cold calling. To me, sales, they say don’t begin until you obviously hear that word no. That’s when sales begin. Otherwise, you’re just a glorified customer service rep.
Phil Singleton: Exactly.
Mike Kawula: But good sales people, they know what to do once you hear no. And I think that helps also when it comes to creating websites and copy, right?
Phil Singleton: Sure.
Mike Kawula: Because now you’re talking –
Phil Singleton: Well, you’re right at the ideal customer, you know what the challenges are,
Mike Kawula: Exactly.
Phil Singleton: you know what they need to hear, all that kind of stuff. Great idea, what content to write, and stuff like that. But you mentioned before, I do think what I see in some of the younger folks that maybe we’ve tried hiring is there is a reluctance to get on the phone. There is kind of more like, “Hey, if we do this stuff,” they go off and think about the influencers out there that just have one piece of content or one photo or whatever and can do stuff passively. And the great things happen to them. They just fall in their lap. Not the way it words for most, I think entrepreneurs.
Mike Kawula: No.
Phil Singleton: And that’s never going to change probably right? What do you think?
Mike Kawula: I don’t think so. And I think again, it’s the big reason for a lot of failing is that people are just looking at social media and thinking social media and ads is the only way to do it. And I just think people are forgetting cold calling still works. I’m a huge fan of still direct mail. I think the mail box has become less cluttered, which creates more opportunity for the savvy marketer, right? So –
Phil Singleton: Yeah. Good targeted stuff.
Mike Kawula: Oh my gosh.
Phil Singleton: I mean, if the message is right, then it works really good. Doesn’t matter what it is.
Mike Kawula: Exactly.
Phil Singleton: Emailing works awesome. It sucks if you mass mail. If you can send a direct cold email to somebody that’s a decision maker and pack value into it, I mean that’s how I’ve got some of my best clients. You know what I mean?
Mike Kawula: 100%. Does mass emailing work? Obviously it does. I mean, that’s why folks do it. But there is nothing better than looking at somebody’s website for instance, and sending them a 20-minute review of stuff that you think is pertinent to them. They’ll find value in it, and it works.
Phil Singleton: Awesome. Well, let’s segue into the book, because that’s the thing that I’m most excited about. I share with you kind of before the show in the green room that I’m a big believer, because I see it working for myself in terms of, and I’m a guy, I’m going to step back one. You sound like you’re a bit more outgoing, got a lot of charisma. I came out of this a scared guy at a high school. I’m still kind of introverted by nature. Of course, Google changed a lot of things and I went from being able to do some stuff in the bat cave and never have to talk to anybody to now having, because things have changed quite a bit and the importance of personal branding and authority building. That just almost can become like a foundation of modern marketing almost to me.
Tell me your experience, because you were, so there’s a bunch of passionate things about at the end of your current book, tell us the title, tell us what it’s about, and tell us some of the things we were talking about in terms of how its helped you generate leads and then use it as a platform to kind of grow your business and your own brand.
Mike Kawula: Yeah, so the name of my current book is Self-Employed. NOW WTF. And WTF stands for where’s the future? Where’s the flexibility? Where’s the freedom? I mean, isn’t that why we all get into business and entrepreneurship, right? But a to of folks I feel when they step into entrepreneurship, they don’t have the flexibility or the future or even the freedom that they have expected. They’ve just got themselves another J-O-B that’s doubled the number of hours and doubled the amount of responsibility. So, the book just walks through my philosophies on building businesses. And the beginning part goes through the mindset because I believe there’s a lot of obstacles that hold us back such as, I talk a lot about even when on LinkedIn this morning, I spoke about I wasn’t eating my own dog food. In other words, one of the parts of the book, I talk about is eliminate the naysayers in your life. Those who are just putting constant negativity on us. And we all see it in business, right? We go to somebody, as them for advice..we all see it in business. We go to somebody, ask them for advice. Maybe we’re thinking of launching something or making a new website. It’s like, you know, those naysayers that just kind of like … They get under your skin. Sometimes that naysayer could be the person in the mirror. It’s the self-doubt that we have.
The first part of the book we go through that. Then the second part of the book we talk about my four part strategy of growing a business, which is how do you get traffic? How do you activate that traffic? Once you activate it, how do you wow and delight the customer? Then how do you create virality into a product. I think it’s if you do those four things, it doesn’t matter as long as you have a good product or service. That’s obviously number one. But anybody, if they follow those four steps, can grow a business.
The problem is, what I like to call, shiny object syndrome. We all get it. It’s like, “Oh, what everybody says I have to be on Instagram,” so they run over now on Instagram. “Everybody says I have to be on Twitter,” so they run over there on Twitter.”
That’s only one part of the strategy. When somebody hits your website, everybody’s first thing they should do, I think before they even make a website, is make some type of opt-in that really speaks to your customer and what their pain point is, what they’re running away from, or what they’re trying to run towards faster. When you can identify that and create a piece of content around that, and now people start coming to your website. They’re giving you their email. We spoke about that earlier. I still believe email is king. Get that email address.
In this book, we walk through this whole philosophy on how do you do this all and how do you stay focused to assure that eventually you do have the flexibility, the future, and the freedom that entrepreneurship can bring you.
Phil Singleton: Awesome. We’re definitely going to check that out and have the links to the book and going to recommend that everybody that listens to the show read it because some great nuggets of advice in there. But tell us, now that we’ve got that part of it, tell us how the book has helped you. It’s like to me, writing a book these days is partly about writing a book and putting your best content in there. But it’s not really ever to me anymore, for most people, about trying to make money off of the book. It’s about using it for other thing-
Mike Kawula: It’s leads.
Phil Singleton: Right, it’s leads. It’s sharing your knowledge.
Mike Kawula: Opening your door.
Phil Singleton: Right. Tell me how’s that … You mentioned before that you felt like the book had actually generated leads for your business, your businesses, and other ways maybe it’s opened doors. Tell me about that part of-
Mike Kawula: I was speaking before of this thing in the bat cave when we were talking before we hit record here. Yeah, I told you I was speaking to an agency in New York recently, telling them they should do this for all their key salespeople inside of the company. Because it literally helps you stand out above your competition. The word, I know folks may be listening to this who might be a little bit more savvy, might say, “Oh, well it’s uploading a book onto Amazon and then having CreateSpace print me out my book, it’s so easy nowadays.”
But you know what, the fact is, is that 99% of the world still has never written a book. Being a published author sets you apart from everybody else and builds your authority. Imagine this that there’s five people going to get an account, whatever your business is, and you’re the only one with a book that walks into that presentation or is able to after getting off the phone, send your prospect a book. That literally makes stand above all of your competition.
I know a marketer who just markets for resorts, golf clubs. He has a book. His book has helped him propel his business unbelievably because of the fact that he is the only one in his niche that has written a book specifically towards golf clubs and how they can actually market their business. He wrote exactly to them. It’s not a huge audience. That’s the thing. Let’s say if your audience size is only 5,000. It doesn’t matter. Write that book to those 5,000 people that will help them, and it makes you stand above. It’s so easy.
I told you earlier that my book, we are now going to have on the website, and we’re going to give the book away for free and just charge shipping. There’s two reasons for that. First of all, every marketer out there that says they’re giving you their book for free, they’re really not. Because if I charge 7.95 for shipping … Well to ship a book, I used to ship tens of millions of dollars a year online. I know how much shipping is. This book is going to cost me anywhere between a buck 90 to $3 max to ship. How much does this book cost me on CreateSpace, because I’m the author, to buy it direct from them? $2.50. When we add that all up, what is that? $4 and change. If I’m charging, $7.95, I then have $3 extra that I can then use to run ads on Facebook to drive traffic to that page.
Phil Singleton: Yeah, that’s brilliant.
Mike Kawula: I don’t want to make $3. Then when they come and they buy the book and they put 7.95, guess what? On that 7.95 page, there’ll be an upsell. It’ll say, “Hey, do you want the audio version? Add that here for an extra $39.” Then inviting them into a group. Every marketer does it out there. They do that because it’s a lead funnel. It makes you stand above.
Number two, inside of your book you can also have calls to action to get people back to your website and give something away for free. My very first book drove me a tremendous amount of leads. Here’s how I wrote the book, which is kind of funny. Are you familiar with HARO, Help a Reporter Out?
Phil Singleton: Yes.
Mike Kawula: Okay. I love HARO. I recommend everybody does it on a regular basis. It’s probably one of the best ways to build links that most folks never talk about.
Phil Singleton: Do you still use it now? I’ve used it in the past. I probably should get on it. I haven’t used it recently.
Mike Kawula: I use it tremendously. Right now with my new business, Entrepreneurs GSD, it’s a podcast, I want to get links to it. Here’s what I do. I tell folks everybody says in the PR world, “Oh, it’s a great way to sell your product or service.” Listen, you’re never going to sell your product or service by being featured in Forbes, CNN or what have you.
What it does is it builds your authority, number one. Number two, if you’re really good in answering the reporter’s question, and then you sprinkle your keywords into the response that you have, that you want to rank for. Think about it this way. If I want to rank for business coaching, which is important for me, and I’m going to start trying to rank for it, if I have … Let’s call it domain authorities. Forbes is, I don’t know, they’re probably in the 90s, right?
Phil Singleton: 90s, yeah.
Mike Kawula: TechCrunch, whatever, so Wall Street Journal … Think about it this way. If I have 50 different domain authorities of 80 and above pointing to me for three, like a key word phrase of three words that I want to rank for, what’s going to happen when somebody goes to Google? Google’s going to say, “Well, my website talk about this. Oh, and all these important sources are pointing to him.”
Help a Reporter Out, I think, is so useful. But here’s the thing. Back in 2013 or 14, if you have a domain, if you have an Alexa ranking, meaning you are in the top one million websites in the world, you can use HARO also as a reporter. What I did is because my site was in the top 100,000, is I became also what is considered I guess somebody in the press. I could go on there and ask questions. What I did is I asked, “How do you use Facebook as a small business? How do you use Pinterest? How do you use Twitter?” I did it for the seven main-
Phil Singleton: What’s the limit on that? Is it you have to be in the top million or the top 100,000?
Mike Kawula: You have to be in the top million. As long as you’re in the top million, you can also be considered a reporter-
Phil Singleton: Then you apply? I never even thought of, that’s brilliant.
Mike Kawula: Oh, but here’s the thing. I had hundreds and hundreds, every time I basically went and asked a question, you would get 50 to 100 responses. If you’re CNN, CNN gets thousands of responses. It’s real important when you do get the email from HARO, whether you do the morning, afternoon or evening one, to be one of the first people to respond. So CNN came out to my house, Christine Romans … I don’t know if you know her?
Phil Singleton: I kind of remember that name, sure.
Mike Kawula: Yeah, she’s big in business. She came out to my house and did an interview. It was funny. They were at my house for four to five hours for a three minute interview. But me and her were just sitting there chitchatting for a while. I had said like, “When you put that question on HARO, how many responses do you get ’cause you’re CNN?” She’s like, “Mike, after I look at the first like 20, 30, we don’t even look anymore.” She goes, “We’re probably getting thousands.” That’s why it’s real important if you want to get on something big, is that you respond as fast as possible, number one.
Phil Singleton: So, just step back there. I haven’t been on HARO for a while and when the way it works, or the way it worked, hopefully it still works, is you basically sign up, for your account, for the list or whatever, you come in, you get an email three times a day and you see it, right?
Mike Kawula: Right.
Phil Singleton: You basically have to be, if you really want to get involved, don’t you have to basically be looking at the emails and then jumping on this as quickly as possible, I guess? Is that still the way it works?
Mike Kawula: Exactly. Today, I actually just did a podcast on it. But what I recommend is pick whatever. So for me, I’m not in the email during the day. I just find email a distraction. I do the first one in the morning, which comes at 5:30 in the morning because by then I’m done with my coffee and I’m ready to go for my walk. But I won’t leave for my walk until I get that HARO email. Once I get it, I answer the questions that are applicable, and then I’m off and I’m gone for two hours.
Phil Singleton: That’s the key, right? If you get one, say you got a bunch, let’s say I got one, I haven’t my email in a couple of days and I’ve got like five or six. Well, go ahead-
Mike Kawula: Don’t bother.
Phil Singleton: Don’t even bother. Yeah, that’s makes sense.
Mike Kawula: It’s a waste.
Phil Singleton: Somebody’s already answered and moved on. All right.
Mike Kawula: They’ve moved on. Then also, when you respond, make sure that you response to add value. For instance in Forbes, there was a writer, her name’s Cheryl Snapp O’Connor. I wanted to be interviewed by her. What I did is when I saw a question that she asked, it was about mobile marketing in 2014. Now, I didn’t know much about it, but I knew this guy named Greg Hickman, who at the time had a very big podcast on mobile marketing. I said to her, I went to Twitter, I said, “Hey, I saw your question on HARO. I can’t help you. However, I’m very good friends with the leader in mobile marketing. His name’s Greg Hickman. Do you want me to make an introduction?” She was so appreciative of that.
What I did is, between you and I, is I kept a Twitter list of every major reporter that I wanted to be interviewed by. Occasionally, I would favorite their content or retweet their content. I used a lot of automation to do this also. But then what I would do is when she asked another question, I not only replied right away, but I went to Twitter and followed up with her and said, “Hey, I just responded to one of your questions. I hope you like it. If it’s not what you were looking for, let me know. I’ll find you somebody who is.” She’s like literally said, “Give me a few minutes. Let me go find you a response.” She replied back. She’s like, “That isn’t what I was looking for, but I love it so much, can I write an article about that?” She did an article.
Anyway, here’s the thing. 2013-14, what I ended up doing was I asked a question about each one of these major social media sites. Then I took all the answers that I loved, put it into a book. I had a ghost writer basically put it all together. We quoted everybody’s tips. It was just a book of tips. But what we did is the day the book was released on Amazon, we reached out to the 70 people quoted in the book and said, “Hey, you’re now a featured person in this book. I want … Here’s a logo you can use on your website to say that it was top ranked. Although we’re not top ranked yet, we need at least 50 reviews. Guess what? We need at least 50 reviews. And guess what? Of these 70 people, 50-plus of them left me a review, and the book shot up to number one. And then, now you can use that and say I’m a top ranked author, so for my new book, it was ranked number one under business entrepreneurship, right? I can use that now, and so it makes you stand out as an individual. So that’s why I think whether you’re a solo-preneur or even if you’re working inside of a corporation, your company should pay to have somebody help you create a book and brand yourself, because it’s going to make you as an individual stand out among the competition.
Phil Singleton: Absolute no-brainer. I couldn’t agree more on that. I want to ask one more thing on HARO.
Mike Kawula: Sure.
Phil Singleton: First, how much time do you think is reasonable to spend on it because it gets … There’s a lot of stuff. You can spend a lot of time on it if you wanted to, I think. But you’re probably, what, saying I’m going to read it, see what applies, apply that, and move on really quickly, or-
Mike Kawula: Less than five minutes, so that one in the morning is … A, I love the ones in the morning, because again, I’m up early, and not as many people are, number one. Number two, I love Friday nights, the one that comes out, because most people have left for the evening, so like last Friday I answered one and had a response over the weekend from the reporter, and she scheduled an interview with me.
Phil Singleton: You’ve got to be disciplined about it, right? Because some of them just don’t apply, so you might get three or four days in a row or just say no, no, no, no, so you hit … How often do you think you’re replying on average?
Mike Kawula: Probably three, four times a week. But here’s the other thing that I do. I’m a very big … I believe relationships is everything in life, right? So what I also do is whenever I see something that’s applicable to a friend, or somebody I know online, I message them and I let them know. I’m like hey-
Phil Singleton: This is for you, yeah, they’re looking for this.
Mike Kawula: Yeah. I thought this would be useful, and that just strengthens the relationship. I do it for customers, too, like I have people who I’m coaching that I’ll reach out and just send them a quick email, and they’ll be like, oh, it’s just so, it strengthens the relationship, so-
Phil Singleton: That’s awesome.
Mike Kawula: … so it’s less than five minutes, it’s awesome, and plus it’s fun, too. You learn a ton, and it also gives me ideas on content that I want to create. So for instance, one of the things I’m all goo-goo over right now is the Alexa Flash Briefings, and I just did a podcast interview with somebody on it, on how you can have your own Alexa set up in under an hour, and so every day you could be on Alexa basically, people’s news in the morning, right? And not a lot of businesses are doing this yet. So similar to podcasting that you and I are doing, imagine had you been one of the first podcasts back in 2006, right? Your podcast would be huge. Right now it’s a very competitive space, right, to rank.
Phil Singleton: Alexa Flash Briefings, that’s something that’s new to me. I’m gonna check that out as soon as we hang up here.
Mike Kawula: Yeah, listen to my podcasts on it. The lady I had on, her name’s Jane-
Phil Singleton: Well, we’re gonna link to that one for sure.
Mike Kawula: It’s phenomenal, and literally it takes less than an hour. We have one being set up right now that I think’s gonna be a lot of fun, and again-
Phil Singleton: Is that audio? Video? What’s the medium?
Mike Kawula: Audio.
Phil Singleton: Audio, okay.
Mike Kawula: So it’s just like you would say, in the morning, somebody would roll over in bed, and for me, I love Alexa, and so my whole house is all of it. And so I get my news that way, and then this way also I don’t have to listen to the biased news, because mine is motivational folks, business people and business. I don’t have to listen to the negative media about garbage I don’t want to listen to, right?
So it’s just a lot of fun, and again, it’s being an early adapter. And what’s interesting just so you know as an SEO guy, you can rank for certain keywords in Amazon and even in Google for Alexa, and again, it’s brand new. I don’t foresee that happening long term as more of us get into this space, because marketers as what’s his name, Gary V, says ruined everything, but at the moment we haven’t ruined this platform, so I really think it’s something. Think about it from your business standpoint, whatever type of business anybody listening to this is, I mean, if you’re in the fitness niche. What if you just gave everybody a one to two minute tip on fitness every morning, or whatever your business is, there is something out there, and there’s an audience that will love to listen to it. And the number one gift this year for the holidays was what? Alexa. So it’s a … Oops, and she’s turning on now. Sorry.
Phil Singleton: That turn it on. That’s funny. One other thing, I just want to jump back to the HARO really quickly, because this ties in. Do you think it helps, since we’re on the book topic, too, when you reply to a reporter that you have a relevant comment or some advice to give that you put in there, Phil Singleton, author, best-selling author of SEO for Growth, or your book or whatever where you’re actually a published author and putting that in there. Does that make you more attractive, you think? Or when you reply, what’s the … Obviously, you gotta give some information about yourself, right?
Mike Kawula: I really don’t very much at all. I just make sure that I know that I am honestly answering that question the best possible so that I stand out above everybody else, and then I’m also, again, I’m following up on Twitter. Nobody does that. So I go find that reporter, and I’m putting them on a list, and then I’m also tweeting to them, so now it’s kind of like they’re gonna recognize my name-
Phil Singleton: I love that.
Mike Kawula: … looking down, and that’s just one hack, but two is definitely, like, everybody’s pitching themselves, like, oh, I’m an author, I’ve been featured here, and they don’t care. You know what? A writer for a publication has a job, and part of their job also now in the press, whoever they write for wants to see that they’re sharing the publication, right, and that’s getting out there, and that they’re getting love. So they really just want to know that you can provide the most value to help them look good, and then if you’re sharing their content also, that makes them look even better, and they love you.
Phil Singleton: It reminds me of a hack that I have right now, which is going after the guys that are contributing and writing on Forbes or wherever it is, and then finding out if they’ve got a book or they’ve got an e-book, right? Then going to them separately and saying, “Hey, I’d liked to book you on my podcast and talk about your book,” right? Then they’re really-
Mike Kawula: 100 percent.
Phil Singleton: Yeah, same idea, right? You’re following up and making the … You’re offering them something of value, and then hopefully they get to know you, getting on your show, I mean, well, this guy’s an expert. Maybe I can write about him.
Mike Kawula: Do you have sales people listening to this?
Phil Singleton: A little bit, but it’s mostly other agencies and small business owners.
Mike Kawula: Okay, and so other agencies, whatever your niche is, whoever your target customer, who’s trying to create a podcast also, invite those people onto your show. You build that relationship, and then when the show is over, guess what? There’s an opportunity to possibly do business, right? And now you have that know, like, and trust, so that’s what a book is. That’s what Alexa is. It’s all about just being everywhere that you can without overwhelming yourself.
Phil Singleton: Awesome. Well, this is already one of my favorite episodes, because there’s just so many nuggets that you shared with us. This is awesome. Can you tell us just as we kind of wrap up other things that you’re doing, other ways that we can kind of contact you? What’s the best way to follow you and keep up with you?
Mike Kawula: Yeah, so it’s, again, be everywhere, right? So I’ve got a podcast. It’s called Entrepreneurs GSD, and GSD obviously stands for get you-know-what done, but also stands for we all grind, we all sacrifice, we’re all determined, but do we actually all GSD, get shit done in our business? And so that’s what the podcast is about. It’s a six to eight minute show every day that share something that you can do in your business to move your dial forward, so that’s very good.
I’m working on some new technology right now, which is kind of interesting, and it’s the ability for if somebody hits your website, wouldn’t you love to know who that individual is, because the fact is, 98 percent of people that hit websites leave, right? And a majority of them leave without even filling out a form, so you don’t know who that is. So if you’re in a B to C space, what I’m able to do is identify who that individual is, because they’ve opted in somewhere else throughout the worldwide web or possibly offline also for their information to be shared, and I’m able to figure out who that individual is, what their email address is, what their physical mailing address is, and a ton of other data points like wealth, and what type of car they drive, and everything. And so we’re working on that technology right now to share that with people in the B to C space that want to know more about who’s hitting their website.
Phil Singleton: That sounds really amazing, so I’m looking forward to learning more about that. We’ll make sure that we maybe have you on as a follow up once if and when you release this new product, because that’s killer.
Mike Kawula: It’s rocking right now. We’re doing it for a jewelry store that’s having amazing, amazing conversions and a couple of auto dealerships, and they’re loving it.
Phil Singleton: Awesome. We’re looking forward to learning more about that. Is it public? I mean, can you share that right now, or is it not fully launched yet?
Mike Kawula: Yeah, just hit me up. Just go to my site, mikekawula.com.
Phil Singleton: Awesome.
Mike Kawula: You’ll link up in the show notes, and we’re out there and selling it right now. Believe it or not, it starts at just under 500 bucks.
Phil Singleton: For all that info?
Mike Kawula: Yeah, depending on the website traffic, so the bigger the site, it’s really based on traffic, so for sites that are getting 100,000 or more visitors, it’s more, but the data is king, right? And now, again, imagine if somebody hits your website, they’re thinking about your product, you know, like when you’re on Amazon, and you leave, and you haven’t bought that product, it follows you throughout the web.
Well, now, not only can we target for you so is that you can remarket to them online, but imagine if the next day, you’re able to send them an email that is adding value, right? And then they’re like, “Oh my God, I was just on that person’s website, ” and then two days after that, they get a postcard or a piece of mail that says something from your company. It’s just touchpoints, right? It’s staying in front of folks. And I know a lot of folks sometimes might be like, oh, that’s kind of creepy, but it’s the world we live in. And for marketers that really want to get in front of their target avatar, this is an incredible way to do it, I feel.
Phil Singleton: Because it’s like you said, one thing is the awesome lead tool where you can now follow up on cold traffic because you have some information on it, but then also, many, that kind of data’s killer because for all of us they’re trying to … My business, being able to set up a website and get targeted traffic is a big part of it, but any more, man, we gotta figure out ways to convert that traffic, right, into sales and leads. So people that bounce off, you don’t get a lot of good information on it, right? But if you can get that kind of data off the people that are bouncing off of your site, well, then all of a sudden, great, we can go and maybe do some more on page conversion stuff, better content, more understanding of the cold traffic type of thing versus a lot of what you’re gonna get off of analytics and some of these other third party tools that don’t give you a whole lot of that information.
Mike Kawula: And detecting is that traffic really real, which is something else we can do. So a majority of the web is, as we all know, is bots, right?
Phil Singleton: Sure.
Mike Kawula: So even when you go and you are paying sometimes for traffic to your website, a lot of that could be bots. So now we’re gonna be able to actually give back to agencies, is this … So you can use it against your competitors. Is it really the real traffic that they were getting? And they’re gonna want to know that.
Phil Singleton: It’s so awesome. We’re definitely gonna have a link to your site to learn more about that, because I’m actually interested in it myself.
Mike Kawula: Thank you sir.
Phil Singleton: Thank you very much, Mike Kawula, for coming on to the show. This has been absolutely fascinating. You’re very generous in sharing some of Awesome X, although my feeling is we probably only scratched the surface, and you’ve probably a ton more ideas on how to generate business and get more leads and sales for people, for entrepreneurs and sales folks, as well. So thank you very much for coming on this show, and I hope to have you back sometime.
David “Rev” Ciancio serves as Director, Industry Insights for Yext, where he works to ensure customer success as they deploy the Yext Knowledge Engine on behalf of their businesses.
Over his 20+ year career, he has managed business development, digital marketing, and social media strategies for a wide range of entertainment and hospitality companies.
When not preaching the gospel of Digital Knowledge Management, you can find this expert burger taster discussing the virtues of what makes a truly great hamburger on his Instagram account, @revciancio and hospitality marketing tips on his blog, burgerconquest.com.
Phil Singleton: Hey Rev, welcome to the show.
Rev Ciancio: Phil, it’s a pleasure to be here, I sincerely appreciate the opportunity.
Phil Singleton: We read through your bio here and I want to just take a little bit of time at the beginning to just understand your story, tell us your first steps out of school, out of college, what have you, and what put you on the path to where you are today.
Rev Ciancio: Man, I grew up in Detroit and I desperately wanted to be in the music business, desperately. And I was obsessed with radio and with music and there just wasn’t enough of it happening in Michigan, and it was like, “All right, well, LA or New York?” And it was like, “Well, if somebody’s gonna say, ‘trust me’, I want them to mean it so I guess I’ll go to New York.” And I got a job out here with a very small agency that no longer exists, doing radio promotions so I was calling radio stations around the country and getting them to play heavy metal bands, it was really cool. I moved out here for $17 thousand dollar salary, it was crazy.
Man, misadventures. But anyway, I did that, I was in the music business for about 11 years. I was a serial agency owner, I owned a couple different agencies hopping around. And then one day I was just like, “Man, I hate music. I hate it.” I was like, “I can’t be around it, I can’t do it. I can’t figure out how to make money in it anymore.” This is after downloads and at the time, I’d also opened a bar which is like another college dream is to, “Oh man, we should own a bar, that would be so cool.” Just like, “I should be in the music business, it’s gonna be so cool.” Boy man, the things I thought when I was a kid. Anyway, I went on this-
Phil Singleton: All of us, right?
Rev Ciancio: Yeah, totally. I own this bar and I had started to take some of the skill sets that I had learned running an agency and entertainment business and applying it to the bar and hospitality. And at the time, food bloggers didn’t really exist and influencers weren’t really a thing, social media was really just getting its feet wet, it certainly didn’t have the catchiness that it has now. Facebook timeline was still chronological, right, Instagram didn’t exist. And I was having traction understanding the hospitality universe and running this agency where I was working with artists. And restaurants started to call me and say, “Hey, can you do what you’re doing for your burger blog, for my restaurant?” And I realized, “Oh my god, there’s a crazy opportunity here to take all these things that I learned about brand building and building an audience and the catchiness of that, and apply those entertainment marketing tactics to restaurants. And I just immediately Segwayed my whole car into getting into that.
Much longer story shorter, I ended up working for a ground beef manufacturer for a number of years as the Director of Marketing, where I rolled right up to the CEO and basically I rebranded them from this multiple decade old family brand, to a brand that they were able to actually launch retail product. They saw about a 27% lift in sales the last year I was there, it was pretty cool. One of my main priorities thereafter we did this rebrand and relaunch, their customers were primarily restaurants and one of my primary functions was to provide a marketing consultancy service to their top customers. So, instead of paying an agency or paying a consultant, they could just call me and go, “What’s the best strategy for review and reputation management?” Or, “What kind of growth hack ideas do you have for Instagram?” Or, “How should we think about doing our Facebook targeting ads?”
I became this jack of all trades in the marketing area because what I would learn from one customer … and they were working with huge national brands and also those SMBs, and I took all of that and learned all of this really important information. And to tie this story together, I was like, “Wow, this could actually be its own business, this hospitality and marketing consultancy thing.”
As a former bar owner, I have had the pain points that their solution solves, so I knew the power of [Yext].
And you could probably guess what happened, I left, started that agency, and it was primarily like, “I’ll do digital knowledge management for you”, type agency. That’s not how I branded it and that’s not how I would brand it now, but that’s what it was. And I was super successful super quick, and the people at Yext, I was using their software to help my clients. They called me and they were like, “We haven’t had this happen in the history of the company, you seem pretty passionate about this. Would you be interested in hanging up the agency and coming here?” And I jumped at the chance.
I love Yext, I love what they do. As a former bar owner, I have had the pain points that their solution solves, so I knew the power of it. Then ultimately, at the end of the day, what I’m really passionate, other than pizza and rock and roll, is I like helping other businesses. It really does fuel me to get out of bed in the morning and I thought coming here would give me an amazing opportunity to really help all kinds of businesses just be better at what they do.
Phil Singleton: That’s so awesome. Your first trip, your first gig out of Detroit was in New York and you’ve been there ever since, is that right?
Rev Ciancio: It was technically in Jersey, but yes.
Phil Singleton: Okay. Right, right. Close enough. You’re up in the area. That’s really awesome. I really do want to dig in a little bit into your personal experience, and you’re talking about the pain points, what’s going on, what challenges do people have in the hospitality industry and specifically restaurants. But before we get to that, a little more, I guess understanding or description of what Yext does. I’ve been working with Yext for years, a very powerful solution. Although I think I have probably narrow, more practical view of why it’s important to my clients and that is really from a google standpoint, getting the name, address, and phone number lined up across the internet. We all know in digital, this is really important, google ranking signal for trust and a lot of other different reasons, helps with your local rankings. From that perspective, it’s almost a no-brainer and very powerful, but I know it’s evolved and does a lot more than that now.
If you can help our audience understand what we mean by digital knowledge management and all the things that Yext can do beyond just maybe managing and making sure that you have consistency on the major directories across the internet?
Rev Ciancio: Sure. Let’s define digital knowledge, that’ll probably help since we’ve already dropped that bomb in here a few times. Digital knowledge is basically, it’s all the public facts about a business, like their name, their address, phone number, but even their hours of operation, their products, their services, if you’re a restaurant, your menu. Basically any information that lives online for a customer to look for and search, right? And therefore, digital knowledge management, then that’s the process by which you’re sourcing and managing all of that digital knowledge to make sure that it’s available for customers in those moments that matter.
So, when you talk about what does Yext do and how does it work, we’re witnessing this major platform shift out there, I’m sure you’re seeing it as well, the rise of these services like Siri, and Alexa, and Google Assistant that are build on AI and information servicing all over the internet. Well, it turns out for 20 years, how did the internet work? You put in a query and you got 10 blue links, organic search. And now what happens is you don’t get 10 blue links, you just get one answer, right? So if I said, “Hey Siri, best burger joint near me.” What’s gonna happen?
Siri: The highest rated one I found is McSandwich, which averages four and a half stars and is moderately priced. Want to try that one?
Rev Ciancio: There’s no web result there, there’s just an answer, right?
…how do any of these services know how to put that answer there? They’re getting it from something called a knowledge graph and the knowledge graph is essentially a brain-like database that all of these things have.
Phil Singleton: Right.
Rev Ciancio: How does that answer get there? How does Siri, or Google, or Waves, or any of these businesses … how do any of these services know how to put that answer there? They’re getting it from something called a knowledge graph and the knowledge graph is essentially a brain-like database that all of these things have. Whether it’s Yelp, or Facebook, or Siri, or Cortana, or Google Maps, or Apple Maps, the knowledge graph is this brain-like database that lives beneath them. That contains everything that they know about the world, including what they might know about a business. So, they service that answer based on that information.
Now, the difference is you can’t control the AI of the future and you can’t control the UI of the future, but you can control what these services know about your business.
Now, the difference is you can’t control the AI of the future and you can’t control the UI of the future, but you can control what these services know about your business. And that’s essentially digital knowledge management. We have a central repository, a software system, where you would put as the business owner, that information. Name, address, hours of operation, your menu, your services, your bio, literally anything that people want to know about your business. You put it into Yext, the knowledge engine, and then we power that all over the internet. We’re updating Facebook, Bing, Yellow pages, Google, My Business, and hundreds of other sites on your behalf so that you don’t have to do it. And so that information is perfect, literally everywhere.
Then once you’ve done that, which is sorta like getting off on the first level of the hotel, to get up to the penthouse, we have a whole back level system where you can manage your reputation, you can generate first party reviews, you could sentiment analysis inside of your rues that tells you what the customers actually think about your business. We have a competitive intelligence tool that’ll let you know … and Phil, this is awesome. We launched this tool where you can go in and you could say, “Okay, these are the five businesses that are my competitors.” So if you’re Subway, you’re like, “Oh, it’s gotta be Jersey Mikes and Quiznos.”, and whatever other sandwich brands are in your area.
In 100% of the cases where we’ve had a customer start to use that tool, they’ve never been correct about who their actual competitors are. Because we’re actually mining information, so if you feel like, “I’m going to eat at Five Guys today.” We’re like, “Oh, Phil likes Five Guys, he must like Burger King, and he must like Wendy’s.” If you then the next day search for a salad place, we know that, to Phil, Five Guys and the Salad Place are actually in competition for your business. It’s not that you happen to like burgers, I’m not saying you don’t, I’m just saying we see the truth. And so our information can actually tell a business who their real competitors are and then they can track how they’re performing in search based on their own keywords. See what I’m saying?
Phil Singleton: Yeah.
Rev Ciancio: It gives you this really, really deep level of analytics that lets you think about your marketing.
Phil Singleton: That’s really awesome. The one thing to take it back a step, ’cause some people … you covered a lot of ground, there’s a lot of things that I think I picked up but maybe some people that are just trying to get their head around this a little bit, don’t really understand the fundamentals of how it works. And I’m gonna explain to you how I think it works and
I want you to tell me where I’m wrong.
Rev Ciancio: I love this conversation.
Phil Singleton: I think what ends up happening is, I’ve been in Yext many times and we populate and there’s a lot of rich information you put there, tons of stuff about your business. Like you’re saying, pictures, hours of operation, special offers, all sorts of stuff, that’s richer pretty much than anywhere else you would see maybe in a basic place where you would fill out information about yourself let’s say. But somehow, over the years, you guys have been able to develop relationships and almost direct API access to all the major places around the internet. So the power to me on Yext is, I go in there, literally update my stuff, click a button and update my information in this one place, and all of a sudden in the matter of, I don’t know, an hour, minutes, maybe 24 hours, all this stuff’s pushed out to the rest of the internet, and boom, everything’s really consistent. Now, is that true or false? Tell me that part where I got wrong or how even it works.
Rev Ciancio: Yeah, that’s absolutely true. We have a really rich set of APIs and robust workflows that connect into those systems. So, Apple Maps, Google, Bing, Yahoo, whatever, we have a direct connection, they open up their back door, we stick whatever our plug is in the back, and then we can update almost in real time in most places. So yeah, you definitely have that direct control.
Phil Singleton: And that’s really, I think one of the powers what you guys have in the back ’cause that’s what I think makes Yext unique in a lot of ways is you can’t go out and find another company really like Yext that has this ability to have this instant access into this many influential places where they can directly connect and update information like that. That’s really, really powerful.
Rev Ciancio: Yeah. I believe in technical terms, that’s called a patent. But yes.
Phil Singleton: I mean, that really … and that’s one of the reasons, I don’t think people really realize or you talk about Yext, I think it’s just part of digital marketing now, it’s become a standard. I’ve told you, brought it up in conversations before, in our business it’s essentially a mandatory requirement ’cause it’s so important that people have this around the business. But it’s funny because Yext has been around a while in digital and it’s grown really fast and now it’s one of the true success stories in SaaS digital marketing place, you guys went public a year or two ago. It’s like a billion dollar company now? How many hundreds of employees? 500 employees or something like that.
Rev Ciancio: Definitely north of that.
Phil Singleton: And a true, true success story and I think a lot of that’s built on how powerful and how much value it brings to businesses, all businesses really. Talk about big businesses, I think need this. Small businesses especially need it. But the company’s a true, true success story. Let’s dig into a little bit about your personal experience and where you think … you’re in the hospitality and it’s like you were talking about the pain points, what opportunities and what things people are still missing today in that space because it seems like it’s almost hit or miss. You see some people in the hospitality, especially restaurants that are really nailing it, but there’s a ton of them that seem like they’re almost not doing anything. Can you speak to some of that? And what some of the things that you see and how a solution like Yext can help solve some of those problems pretty quickly?
Rev Ciancio: Sure. I’m gonna give you that through a story. Anybody that follows me on Instagram knows that I’m a bit of a food influencer and so I have a couple thousand followers or whatever. Restaurants and agencies will reach out to me and say, “Hey, will you come in to our other restaurant, take photos of the food we’re serving, share it with your audience?”, in hopes that the people that follow me are gonna take the recommendation that, “Hey, you saw this pizza from East Village Pizza that I posted last night, which by the way was awesome.” And then you’re gonna go to East Village Pizza and eat it, right? That’s the idea.
Well, I went to this event one night and there was 15 influencers there and it was a high end place, and they come out with 10 courses, top shelf liquor, it was amazing. And I’m doing the math and I’m like, “This is $150 bucks a person.” So multiply that, “That’s $3000 dollars they’re spending.” Plus the agency’s there, they spent all this money in hopes that we’re gonna attract these customers for them. I reached in my pocket, I pull out the Yext app, I do a location scan, their information is 94% in accurate, which means all that digital knowledge, like name, address, phone number isn’t correct everywhere on the web. In fact, it’s in correct.
I go over the publicist and I was like, “Hey, pull out your phone. I want you to open up a browser and search, ‘cocktail bar near me’.” Now, what you need to know is that for the last 10 minutes, they’ve had their mixologist present to us how important their cocktail program is, and just the Gideon’s Bible of Drinks. I’m like, “I get it, I get it. You’re a cocktail bar.” So she pulls it out and she goes, “Cocktail bar near me.” Now, Google knows where she is, they know she’s by this bar and guess what doesn’t come up in the three pack? That bar. So we click to expand-
Phil Singleton: Right in the bullseye, like swimming in it?
Rev Ciancio: Yeah. It’s like literally you can tell where we are, “Google, come on. We were leading you to the answer.” Anyway, she doesn’t get that answer, we remove the top three, we look at the top 20, it’s not in the top 20, we remove the 4.0 rating, it’s not even unrated. Literally, if you don’t search for that restaurant by its name, you’re not gonna go there. So, what do we call that? That’s a leaky budget because here they’re spending $3000 or $4000 dollars. Now, what if you see this beautiful branzino that I post a picture of and you’re like, “Oh, cocktail bar with branzino, open for happy hour in Tribeca.” And you do a real life search, and you don’t get that place, what was the point of all that effort? What was the point of all that money, right?
Phil Singleton: Totally.
Do you know what the half-life of a tweet is? It’s about five minutes. And the shelf life of a Facebook post is reported to be about five hours.
Rev Ciancio: To me, that’s what DKM is and that’s the problem that Yext solves. So I looked at her, and this is the funny joke, I was like, “You know it would cost you about $50 bucks a month to fix that.” Meanwhile you’re spending $3000 dollars to put branzino in our face. I mean, that’s what Yext does. It’s a background or a foundation to your marketing and look, I’m sure most of the people that are listening to this podcast are doing some level of social media. Do you know what the half-life of a tweet is?
Phil Singleton: Seconds? I don’t know. Minutes?
Rev Ciancio: It’s about five minutes. And the shelf life of a Facebook post is reported to be about five hours. So if you’re out there doing social media marketing for your business and you spent all this time, you have a photo shoot, and you have a link, and an ad, and I don’t know, whatever you’re doing for your business to promote it online. And you’ve put all this effort into it and then somebody goes to search it and they can’t find it, was that worth it?
Phil Singleton: It’s totally. I mean, I talk about this everyday to folks and I think some people think in this inbound world that we live in, they’ll preach and they’ll say, “Hey, some of this event marketing, trade shows, traditional media, radio, advertising, none of that stuff works. You should be doing all digital.” I don’t think that’s the case at all. I mean, I think stuff works really well and probably as good as it ever has. The problem is if you go out and create the demand, everybody comes back to the internet. So if you don’t have your ducks in a row in order to capture your own demand, it goes to the other cocktail bar you were just talking about, right?
Rev Ciancio: Yeah. Phil, I mean look, I am clearly a food influencer and half the text messages I get in the day are, “Hey, where should I go eat for burgers?” I’m almost my own search engine, but if somebody recommends something to me, I still go look it up myself.
Phil Singleton: Exactly.
Rev Ciancio: I still search it.
Phil Singleton: I don’t think anybody … I mean, the old days, any type of reference … I mean, referral marketing has changed. I think even to some extent, some influencer marketing has changed ’cause some people probably are a little bit skeptical and it’s like, “Okay. Rev said this but who knows if he’s getting paid or not. I believe he’s telling us the truth or whatever, but I’m still gonna look it up online, see what everybody else is saying.” It used to be in the old days, it’s like, I’d ask for my house, first time I bought a house or whatever, I asked my dad, “Who should I get for this or that?” And I would just do it. Or the pediatrician says, “Go to this place for your … go to this specialist for your doctor.” You would just do it. Not anymore. No matter what anybody says, everybody’s doing their own research and if you can’t find it, or if you don’t like their website, or if their reviews suck, you’re going somewhere else ’cause the power is in the searcher now. I mean, that’s-
Rev Ciancio: But let’s take that one step more, right? If we’re talking about a B to B model, we’re in the middle of the funnel. Even if we’re talking about going to get pizza, we’re in the middle of the funnel, we haven’t made the decision. Once you make the decision, the only way you’re gonna have confidence then is, “Well okay, you told me to go to this pizza place, now I’m gonna go.” But I might get in my car and I need directions, where does that information come from? Or I might need to call to make a reservation, how do I get that information? Even after you’ve made the decision, “Yes, I want to go to that business.” I still need digital knowledge, I still need the hours of operation, I still need the phone number, I still need directions.
Phil Singleton: Exactly. Tell me a little bit about … I know some of the things on your list here that we were talking about before is reputation management. How does the Yext solution fit into the reputation management strategy for business?
Rev Ciancio: Let’s talk about the importance of reputation management first, I think that’ll help answer the question. We’ll look at it just from a Google perspective, so in 2016 Google came out and said, “Okay, we’re gonna add a third factor into how we determine what answers come up in the map pack.” It used to just be distance and relevance, they added this third thing called-
Rev Ciancio: The map pack. It used to just be like distance relevance. They added this third thing called prominence. Okay? And prominence is basically your public reputation. What Google is saying there, is they are literally ranking businesses against each other for search results based on recent positive ratings and reviews. So, if you’re not managing your positive ratings or reviews, you’re risking not even coming up in search at, right? So, there’s that. Besides that, not only is there the SEO benefit to having good ratings or reviews, it informs customer decision. Like we just said, if you said, “Rev, you got to try this pizza joint,” and I go look up their ratings or reviews and everybody’s talking about how good the pizza is, that’s helped making my decision, right? That moves me down the funnel.
Thirdly, the other reason why reviews are important is they can also inform a business. If you’re like, “What’s the next thing I should do with my business?” Your customers might already be telling you. Just go read your reviews. The reviews have like a three-pronged approach in terms of why they’re important. But from my Yext perspective, what can you do to manage that? We have a fully baked dashboard that’s pulling in the reviews from all of those sites that we work with. TripAdvisor, Yelp, Foursquare, Facebook, I don’t even remember them all. But they’re all in there. And then you can go in there and you can read them, you can respond to them, you can generate first party reviews, which are reviews that live on your website. So you can have your own review platform. You can look at them by star rating, you can look at them by location, you can look at them by sentiment.
And so, not only do you have the ability to manage them in Yext, but you have the ability to analyze them and come up with strategies that can help improve your business. And then, I’m sure you’ve seen this stat floating around on the internet. But every star rating increase that a business sees is worth approximately 5 to 9% in business. So, pretty valuable.
Phil Singleton: Yeah, I couldn’t agree more. To me, the holy grail of at least local is you’re showing up on search and you’ve got the social proof via reviews. And once you have those two things, man the phone usually ends up ringing like it never has before. So, preaching to the choir there. That’s the one thing.
The thing is, with reviews, which is … I think, and I’d like to hear your opinion on this. I look at it and I think, “Man, reviews are really actually pretty rare.” Because if you look at it a business that ends up getting them, you see a bit local business that has 100 or 200 or even 500 reviews, or a restaurant that’s got a lot of them. It’s still only like a tiny fraction of the actual transactions or clients that they’ve had over a period, right?
Rev Ciancio: Oh, truly.
Phil Singleton: So, having some type of way where you’re easily found, or some type of a system where you can actually collect them or something. [inaudible 00:23:38] well like they incentivize people that are going to be jealous have to be proactive. Because to me, the whole systems really kind of geared for negative reviews in some ways. People aren’t really incentivized to leave positive reviews unless that’s their thing. But if they’re ticked off, they’re going to have all sorts of incentive right to bash stuff. So, I think reviews are really rare, but the fact that they’re so rare makes them so valuable.
It’s really funny. It’s like in our own businesses, we don’t go out, I think enough to say we really need to be doing this and committing to this and committing to our local online presence, this kind of stuff. Yet, it’s like a Jekyll and Hyde thing, right? When we go out and buy stuff on Amazon or we go look for a new hospital, a place to eat or something, we’re look at reviews. That’s all we do, all of us, right? So, give us some ways that you can motivate a small business owner and the things that they could do maybe on a budget, big bang for the buck to kind of help them either take the first steps forward or solve some of these problems?
Rev Ciancio: Sure. You’re definitely right. The majority of people that would be willing to leave a review for business don’t, and that’s because businesses aren’t either asking for them or giving a signal. Look, are you a parent?
Phil Singleton: Yes.
Rev Ciancio: So, I have a two-year-old, right? I look at it the same way. My kid is not going to say thanks to his mom every time she does something nice, but if I go, “Jack, why do you say thank you to mommy?” He’ll say it. You know what I mean? It’s not any different doing reviews for your business. But some ways that you can sort of get more reviews out of your customers is A, you can ask. There are some rules and regulations around that. Google and Yelp have some governance around how you can ask.
But some ways that you can ask is, if you’re a business owner and you’re responding to reviews, that’s part of what you do, and you’re responding, positive, negative, doesn’t matter. As another customer, if I see that somebody in the business is responding, I’m more likely to leave a review. There’s a stat out there and I don’t remember when it is. But people who see that the businesses responding are more likely, because A, they want to re-responded to because it feels good, right? But also, they know it shows a signal that somebody in the business really cares. That’s number one. That’s for me, ground level.
But some other ways you can do it, you can take your social media ID. You can say on Facebook, like, “Hey, people love us on Yelp. Here’s our Yelp link.” Or, you could write a blog post on your business, like, “Hey, we really value reviews and this is what reviews mean to us.” And so, you’re not saying give me a review, you’re just sending a signal to your customers that, “Hey, I care about reviews and these are the sites I care about.” Or, you could do something as simple as, Phil comes into my pizza shop and says, “Man, this is the best darn Stromboli I ever ate. I wish I could have when every morning underneath my pillow when I wake up.” I can take that review and share it to a different format and go, “Hey, check out what Phil says about our Stromboli.”
So, there are ways to tell your customers that reviews are important to you without having to ask for them.
Phil Singleton: Awesome. Before I ask … Bringing back the comic, I’m going to ask you something about another passion of yours, which is burgerconquest.com. To me, I don’t know how much you guys can get into this or talk to about it, but I think it’s clear to me that when somebody uses Yext and goes into their panel and really thoughtfully fills out all the information to the fullest, to the extent and makes it as accurate as possible, that there does almost always seem to be some local ranking or local visibility effect.
I don’t know how much you can speak to that or if there’s any type of stats that you have on it. But to me, it’s pretty clear. I don’t have like a mos.com budget where I can go and say, “I applied Yext to 100 different companies in the average local visibility ranking or local rankings went up X percent,” type of thing. And you guys, I don’t know what you can speak to, but I’d love to hear any comments you have on it. Because I think it’s pretty clear that when people set it up and set it up right, that they almost always get some type of local ranking benefit. Is that something you can talk to or not?
Rev Ciancio: Sure. So, there’s no average number or no guaranteed result. Because it’s all different, right?
Phil Singleton: Right.
Rev Ciancio: Here’s the thing. In New York City, we’re I’m 23rd Madison. There are no joke, I’d have to count 15 restaurants alone just on our block. If you’re trying to score for best lunch and you’re using Yext, it’s going to be harder just because of the competition. Whereas, if you’re the pizza joint around the corner from my house, it is the only restaurant on that street, it’s going to be much easier.
So, we can’t guarantee a result because it’s a situational to that business. But there is without a doubt an SEO benefit to managing your DKM. It’s why we built this. Is we knew, hey, restaurants don’t know how to do this, or any business really doesn’t know how to do this. And there’s no tool exists that puts them in control of that information. And ultimately, what it comes down to is Google specifically and all the other intelligence services. They’re looking for a confidence signal. So, if I go in there and go, “Best pizza, Rutherford, New Jersey.” If Mr. Bruno’s, which is the best pizza in Rutherford, New Jersey, if they don’t have their information everywhere, it doesn’t give Google a confidence signal.
So, Google looks at Yelp and it looks at Bing and Yellow Pages and your website. And the Hours of operation are different on Mr. Bruno’s. And then they go look at Angelo’s Pizza. And Angelo’s Pizza has the same information everywhere. Well, which one is Google going to trust, right? Well, information looks correct everywhere on this one. That’s the answer I’m going to give to my customers. And then what happens over time, and this you can actually track inside of Yext is how strong is that signal of confidence? The more times that Google gets an answer that is pleasing to the person who’s searching the query, the more times it’s going to surface that answer. So, you build signal strength overtime. One of the ways that you can do that as with Yext.
Phil Singleton: That’s so awesome. One of the things I’ve noticed too, and again, I don’t know if you can speak to this or not, but I noticed last year that when you go into the Yext panel, and you fill out the complete form, and you actually offer a special offer promotion link and a separate link under your website, and about 30% of the listings up in there in the power listings pack, you end up getting something really special that you don’t get if you don’t use it. That is an actual standard link versus a no follow link.
So, I thought that it for my … I don’t know if that’s changed, by I do see this quite a bit where on some of the directories you get listed on, I don’t know if this is because you guys have some special API access, and you be able to put more rich data in and that’s something that doesn’t come with like a paid listing, whatever. But for sure, I’ve noticed that. Because I would tell all our clients to do this, when you go in, make sure that we fill in, have some kind of a special offer, because it seems like you get a little extra benefit from some of these sites when you have it. Any comments on that, or is that just kind of one of these little SEO hacks I think that I found?
Rev Ciancio: I don’t know that there’s aggregated data to give you what that looks like over a series of time or businesses. But I’m going to come at it a different direction. If you have a tool and we give you access to update it, you should update it, because there’s a reason why that publisher has it, right? Google doesn’t have the featured message that I think you’re talking about, but Yahoo does. And Yahoo has users and people use Yahoo. And so, if I look up on a business-
Phil Singleton: And Google crawls Yahoo.
Rev Ciancio: Yeah, exactly. If I go to Yahoo to find the tacos I want for dinner, and I see, “Hey, make sure you try our new Teresa Potato egg breakfast taco.” Well, you had my attention, because I was looking you up anyway. You might as well promote to me while you have my attention. By the way, I would totally go for Teresa egg taco, but that’s a whole other story. But yeah, there’s definitely a benefit to that.
Phil Singleton: Awesome. Let’s bring it back. Because I could literally talk to you all day on this kind of stuff. Talking shop, talking about how important it is.
Rev Ciancio: Me too.
Phil Singleton: I still think at the end of the day, it seems like it’s one of these things where it’s out there and people know about it. But at the end of the day, so many businesses I think, still need help. So many businesses don’t … As many customers as Yext, it’s really probably only a small percentage of the total small businesses in the country, right? Which tells me that there’s so many businesses out there that need help and aren’t even doing the basics. We see them every single day. They come into our small agency here in Kansas City. They’re not even doing the basic stuff. They come in and even on their website, they still have the page titles like home, right? Some of them maybe don’t even have websites still. So, it’s pretty funny.
So, a huge opportunity here. People just come in. And Yext is one of those, really for the agency side, it’s one of those very awesome high value for the cost. Almost, I would say, puts it almost kind of in the quick win category. So, if you’re looking for a hack or a tip where you could go out and actually get something directly, any small business can go in and sign up for one of your packages. It’s really easy to log in and fill in your information. You can immediately solve tons of problems in a short period of time. So, if you’re looking for a special kind of a hack today, that’s it, man. Go to Yext and sign up for it because we couldn’t recommend it any more highly than we do. Like I said, [inaudible 00:32:55] get the top is it’s basically a mandatory third-party service that we put on all new clients that come in.
Rev Ciancio: Let me tell two stories here that I think will frame this up in a similar fashion. I left that well-paying job with the Ground B manufacturer to go start my consultancy, to basically, I’ll do Yext for you as the agency. I went in there with no customers, no leads, nothing. And I was building about 22 grand a month in 90 days. Why? Because I knew how powerful this was, and I knew what it could do. Ans a small business, they don’t have the time to think about this stuff. They don’t have the time to learn what you and I know. They are out there, whether they’re a retail shop, or it’s an attorney or a plumber or a pizza shop or an automotive place, whatever, they’re doing what they do. They’re bringing their trade or they’re bringing their service or they’re bringing their product, and they’re selling it to customers.
They don’t have the time. They’re too busy worrying about the actual business to do this stuff. And I was like, “Oh, I could figure this out real quick. I’m good at this.” As an agency, I was super successful because it’s solved real problems, it was easy for me to manage, and I could strategize on it and then serve a consultancy fee, right? But here’s where this comes from. Why did I know all that? Where did I learn all of that? I used to own a bar. I remember being on Avenue B between second and third, and thinking, “Holy smite, there are six other bars on this street, just on the street. Never mind there’s 25,000 bar licenses in New York City. How do I get customers here? I’m just on this street.” I was like, “Well, we may not be the most creative people, we may not have a famous chef, we might not have the best service, we might not have the cleanest floors, we might not have all these other things.” But I was like, “But we are better marketers. And we are smarter than all these people.”
Honest to God, Phil, we won at two things. We won at SEO and we won at ratings and reviews. We crushed it. We were like top 10 most checked in bar in New York City for like three years running on Foursquare.
Phil Singleton: That’s awesome.
Rev Ciancio: Because we were all agency guys that bought a bar.
Phil Singleton: You knew it. You put the effort in, right? Some of this stuff, if you just have the discipline to do it, it’s surprising how it can rack up, right? I think a lot of people still just kind of leave it and they just don’t do it. They don’t make it part of the routine. But you did it, right? And it paid off big time.
Rev Ciancio: Yeah. Well, here’s the thing. But at the time, there was no Yext, right? I literally had to go to Yahoo and make an update. And then I had to go to Google and make an update. And then we would add something to our menu, and I’d have to go update our website. And then I’d have to go update Foursquare. And then I have to update Yelp. It would take-
Phil Singleton: No wonder. When you saw Yext, you were probably, “Oh my gosh. Here it is.”
Rev Ciancio: Yeah. It was like all I had to do is push a button.
Phil Singleton: Where were you?
Rev Ciancio: I think how much time I would have saved, and we probably would have had even better efforts than we gotten had I had something like this. So, I wouldn’t be here, I wouldn’t have born that agency, I wouldn’t be having this conversation had I not been a small business owner and I know the power of this. Because I had the hardest at a manual level.
Phil Singleton: Got you. That makes perfect sense why you’re so passionate about it. That’s where the fire comes from. You’re literally doing it yourself, but you also saw the power of what all that hard work does and now it’s like, dude, we’ve got this packaged up in a pretty affordable thing that’s accessible I think any business pretty much. It’s like people just knew about it.
I think it’s one of the problem with small businesses too, is they get pitched so many services, so much SEO snake oil. Buy this, they try stuff and it doesn’t work. They don’t always know which ones. Yeah, but this is one of those ones that just basically works for everybody. It’s so cost effective for the amount of value that it brings for a business. This is just kind of one of those no brainer things. But at the end of the day, like you said, guys are doing this. You look at the SAS chart from the martech collages they have, I’m sure Yext is in there. If you look at that thing that’s on a PowerPoint slide, there’s like 5000 logos on it now. If you look, that thing is passed around on LinkedIn, people just don’t know.
But that’s what I’m saying. That at this point, even as famous as Yext is in the space, like basically the unicorn, the category killer, still there’s not enough people that use it, I don’t think. If they did, like I said, this is kind of one of those no brainer kind of foundational fundamental marketing pieces that I think everybody should have, because it brings a massive amount of value for the cost.
We’re going to put all these links and stuff at the show here. I do want to ask you at the very end here now that we’re here. If I were to go to New York for a while … And it’s been a long time, I actually went to school in Connecticut Fairfield University. And I went to the city all the time, but this is going back like 20 years ago, more than 20 years ago. Tell me, if I was going to New York tomorrow for three days if was going to eat a burger a day, the places I have to go.
Rev Ciancio: Oh, man. Well, I’m glad you-
Phil Singleton: I’m putting you on the spot. It has to be. I know your mind is going crazy right now. But you have to pick three now.
Rev Ciancio: I’m just glad you didn’t say, “What’s your favorite burger?” Because I literally don’t have an answer for that question. I like all burgers, and they probably change on a weekly basis. I’ll tell you the burger I probably eat the most is a place called Schnippers. They have four or five locations here in the city. Now, I do love Schnippers, let’s not mistake that. They also have a location in the same building as Yext. So, the frequency is high because the proximity. So, best burger in near me, if we were doing a search would be Schnippers. If we were asking the Rev search engine, I really do like the Schnippers.
There’s another place here called Andrew’s Classic Roadside Hamburgers. He’s had a change of name a couple of times. It’s also been Hardtime Sundays. But it’s literally a stand in a food court just north of Grand Central. I love what he does. It’s awesome.
Phil Singleton: That sounds awesome.
Rev Ciancio: He’s taken like three rounds of patties, he’s smashing them on a season grill, serving him with some onions that have a special sauce he cooks the in.
Martin’s Potato Roll Cheese. That’s a super old school. It’s the way it should be. I do really really love those burgers. And then you know what? Honestly, the last answer probably changes on a weekly basis.
Phil Singleton: What’s this week? Tell me.
Rev Ciancio: There’s a place called San Matteo Pizzeria e Cucina. I need to back the story a little bit. It is one of my two favorite pizzas in New York City. I can’t get enough of it. And there’s certainly a lot of pizza.
Phil Singleton: A lot of pizza man.
Rev Ciancio: There’s certainly a lot of pizza here. But the pizza there’s phenomenal. It’s without a doubt, it’s my favorite pasta in New York City. The two reasons I go there primarily are pizza and pasta. One night, I’m in there, and Fabio, the owner and chef, he’s like, and has this thick Italian accent, “You know, we have burger.” I’m like, “Well, okay, I want to eat it.” He made it for me, and it was unbelievable.
Phil Singleton: You were like, “What?”
Rev Ciancio: Yeah. He’s using Piedmontese beef, which is the Italian style beef. Go look it up. It’s a really high-end animal. He’s using the special cheese, and he’s using special onions, and there’s really nothing like it. But it’s somewhere between a steakhouse burger and a really high-end chef gourmet burger.
Phil Singleton: Awesome. All right, let’s wrap this up and tell us best way to follow you, where we can find more information, about Yext. I also want to put the show link in for the … You guys have an awesome app that you mentioned. It’s probably more for agencies. But the location scanner, which I obviously have on my app right here, right now, where we can go get that. And in fact, give it to me after show, I will make sure that we got a link as long as it’s still available and still free.
Rev Ciancio: Oh, yeah. No, it’s definitely free and definitely available and it’s awesome. Just to tie that together for people that are listening, if you download the app, you can put your business in it, and it will tell you how inaccurate or accurate your listings are. But you can also put any business you want. So, your competitors, your best friends, whatever the business you happen to like. It also has a location scan. I should say that a different way. If you walk into a business, it knows where you are, and you could just pull it up from a list. You don’t have to type in any information. So, you want to check places on the go, I’m a nerd like that, I do, you could just open it up and pull and see how those businesses are doing.
Phil Singleton: So, we’ll say immediately your shortcomings are your own business. But that’s kind of cool. I hadn’t really ever used it for competitors. But that’s a great thing. It’s not just for agencies, it can be for anybody. That’s great.
Rev Ciancio: Well, if you’re an agency and your prospecting, it’s a great way to prospect.
Phil Singleton: Yeah.
Rev Ciancio: Hey, Mr. business owner, look what I just saw. Information.
Phil Singleton: Exactly.
Rev Ciancio: But, yeah. You download that, it’s in Google Play, it’s definitely an iPhone as well.
Phil Singleton: Awesome.
Rev Ciancio: The best place to find out more about Yext is just yext.com, Y-E-X-T.com. If you want to ask me a question, I throw my email out there all the time. I really don’t care. I love talking to people. It’s email@example.com, R-E-V@yext.com. You can email me anything, I’m happy to answer questions. And then if you just want to consume gratuitous amounts of food porn, follow me on Instagram, it’s my screen name I’m @revciancio, but I’m also that screen name on everything. So, you go to Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook.
Phil Singleton: You get burgerconquest.com. I was looking at the site, are most of those pictures your own pictures or they’re just a bunch of stuff?
Rev Ciancio: No, they’re not. It’s almost all entirely mine.
Phil Singleton: Pictures, or are they just a bunch of stuff?
Rev Ciancio: No, it’s almost all entirely mine.
Phil Singleton: That’s awesome. There’s some really cool pictures on there.
Rev Ciancio: Yeah, and then it’s sort the difference between my Instagram account and anybody else’s. If you just look at it, yeah, it’s burgers, pizza, steak, you know French fries, chicken sandwiches, but typically a couple times a week, I don’t just write, “Hey, go eat this burger. It was good.” I write marketing tips. So it might be like, “Hey, here’s what you need to think about if you want to be voice search ready.” Then it’s underneath a picture of pizza with pepperoni sliding off the sides.
Phil Singleton: Awesome. And those pictures on your site, it that just off a camera, or are you taking a big camera around your neck you’re taking out?
Rev Ciancio: No. It’s an iPhone. I will not upgrade to a DSLR. It’s not that I don’t love them, I’m just not a photographer, I don’t want to be a photographer.
Phil Singleton: Well, they look pretty awesome.
Rev Ciancio: I’m happy to do it on my phone.
Phil Singleton: All right, Rev. You’re the man. Really enjoyed talking with you. And hope to have you back. Because it feels like when you start to open things up, and there’s so many different things we could talk about, but this was a great episode with tons of knowledge bombs, and I’m sure our listeners are going to really enjoy this one. So thanks for coming on today.
Rev Ciancio: I appreciate. I know this almost became like a Yext commercial. And I hate that if somebody walked away thinking that. I truly am passionate about this solution. It really does what it’s doing. And for you and I to sit and talk about this, to me it’s no different than me and my best friend talking about our favorite movie.
Phil Singleton: Again if it weren’t, like I say, it’s basically a mandatory service. It’s so important that I think all businesses do this, and i hate, I don’t want to make this sound bad, but you guys essentially have cornered the market. You’re a category killer. You’re essentially almost a monopoly in this space, so that, I guess, has some good connotations and bad connotations. But, so does Google. So it’s just one of those things I think people need. If there’s something that’s that good, and it’s like that because you guys have set it up the right way and added that much value. I wouldn’t make it like an advertisement unless I truly thought, and there’s few tools out there that provide a monster amount of value for what you pay for them.
There’s other ones that you pay a lot for, and they don’t either do enough, or you under utilize them, or they give you a lot of information you don’t use. But this one truly is one of those things that you pay for and you don’t have to pay a lot and you get a ton of value off of it. So that why I don’t mind really highly recommending it. Because nobody’s going to go out there and buy this and then regret using it or not use it or not get some kind of benefit out of it. I’m not an affiliate marketer for you guys, or any other type of benefit other than they do this because it adds a tremendous amount of value.
I think the real hack there is, I mean there’s a lot of agencies out there that probably use Yext and either upsell it or upcharge it or do that kind of stuff, which is a normal thing for people to do, but any business owner that’s listening to this, you can go out there and buy this directly and manage it yourself. I mean, that’s where the knowledge piece of this is, is you can go sign up, and it’s really easy I think for anybody to go and pay for it. For me, I think of things that we do, I think it’s within just about anybody’s capability to sign up for this and actually fill up the information, as long as their going to take the initiative to maybe upload and take a couple pictures and figure out where their logo and stuff is. It’s not like you need coding knowledge to fill it out. You just need to be able to commit and put the time. In. It’s pretty easy. And maybe you and I are too far up and we think, but I think it’s really easy and anybody can use this.
Rev Ciancio: Yeah, I mean, I played with Legos a lot as a kid, and the more I played with them, it felt like the harder it got to use them. And I couldn’t do it without an instruction manual, but this is like Duplo blocks, man. You just open it up, fill in information. It’s super easy.
Phil Singleton: Fill interesting blanks. I mean it’s like anything. Awesome really great stuff, and thanks for kind of pulling the curtains behind it a little bit and telling us how it works and why it’s so important. We all know voice is all coming up so the extent that you can get in early and maybe build up a lead, because you’re doing this stuff, more power to you. So thanks again, Rev.
…if you’re a business owner that’s super focused on actually running your business, and you know you need marketing and you have a budget, get an agency.
Rev Ciancio: Yeah, here’s the last piece of advice I give if basically you just listen to this commercial for Yext and you’re considering it, here’s how I would look at it. If you’re a small business and you have a passion for marketing, or you have time in your day for marketing and you think you can manage this on your own because you’re managing other things. Yeah, sign up, get in there, do it. But if you’re a business owner that’s super focused on actually running your business, and you know you need marketing and you have a budget, get an agency. Because you probably need more than just this. You probably also need content or social or PPC, or Facebook ads. And let an agency mange this for you, and let it be part of your overall solution that you’re hiring them for. So call that agency and go, “Hey, do you have Yext? No? Get it, or I’m going to another agency.”
Phil Singleton: We’ll take the agency commercial. All right, man. Thanks a lot, Rev.
Rev Ciancio: Thank you.