Lead Generation Tactics for SEO & Internet Marketing Agencies

Tom is an SEO strategist and the host of The Sure Oak Podcast. Go check out his podcast, like I have. He is the founder of Sure Oak an SEO agency in New York City that grows companies with search engine optimization to get businesses more traffic and drive their revenue growth. Tom has been published in many well-known publications, such as The Huffington Post, Search Engine Watch and SEMrush.

Episode Resources

Meet Tom Casano of Sure Oak

Phil Singleton: Tom Casano, welcome to the show.

Tom Casano: Thanks for having me Phil. I’m psyched to be here. It’s going to be fun.

Phil Singleton: Oh, yeah. This is going to be … These are my favorite ones, and talking to somebody of your caliber is always going to be really fun. Who knows what directions we’re going to go on, but I would love to know, just for myself, little bit of your path about when you got out of school or wherever your last stop was, and got into the business world, what got you to where you are to today and got you into SEO and digital marketing.

Tom Casano: Yeah, it’s a great question. I studied philosophy in school. When I graduated, I wanted to be a rock star. Tried doing that for about a year and, after making $30 for playing at a bar, and no one cared too much, in giving me music lessons, I traded on Wall Street for 10 years. And then once that got pretty meaningless and unfulfilling, then about four, no, six years ago, I started a business. I went through a program to develop a SaaS. I had never developed a SaaS, but I created a lead generation website for life coaches, and that’s called Life Coach Spotter. That’s kind of where I started cutting my teeth in digital marketing, and ultimately, SEO.

Tom Casano: So initially, I struggled like crazy to get traffic to the site to generate leads, because here I am supposed to be the marketer for the life coaches who don’t know how to do marketing. It took me a long time to get to two, three, four, five thousand organic visitors per month. Then we could talk about this. I did link building strategy. You might be familiar with that scholarship. And then the traffic to the site went up literally 500%, 5X in two months, which I’m usually afraid to say because it just sounds too good to be true, and I don’t want people to have the wrong expectations. Also did a lot of Skyscraper pages on there and a lot of cured research and optimization.

Tom Casano: So like the onsite stuff was just like ready to go. And then the link building happened and then it went to like 25,000 organic visitors per month. And then I was like, “You know what, I’ve spent so much time grinding away at SEO and doing tons of stuff that doesn’t work.” I have to bring this to other people. The businesses that are making millions a year and we moved their organic traffic by 10% or 20% as meaningful for their business. So then I started the SEO Agency Sure Oak. And that’s what I’m deeply involved in and focusing in today, which is doing SEO as a consultant, as an agency, and helping businesses to grow their traffic.

Phil Singleton: That’s so awesome. So when you were at the Search Engine Spotter, is that the name?

Tom Casano: Life Coach Spotter.

Phil Singleton: Life Coach Spotter.

Tom Casano: It’s for life coaches. Yeah.

Phil Singleton: That’s right. Okay. That sounds like when the fire was lit a little bit, right? Cause you kind of self studied your way. It sounds like I’m hearing also some people that you may have studied from skyscraper it was reminding me of Brian Dean, and some of these other guys. Did you kind of dive in self study? And some of these … you take some courses and you just test some things out. How does that get rolled in for you?

Tom Casano: Yeah, totally. Totally self education. I’ve always loved to read and learn and teach myself new things. And that’s the funny thing about SEO. I mean, I would hope today there is a college class like search engine optimization 101….

Phil Singleton: I doubt it…

Tom Casano: It’s one of these things, right? Like if you’re in college right now, where are you taking a class in Chatbots, it’s cool that some of those things might be evolving. So yeah, basically as you know yourself and then the worst part is everything you can possibly read and learn. You could pay for courses and classes and mentorship, but then you go and do yourself a practice and it’s like not even driving the results that you know. And part of that I think is not out of someone trying to mislead you.

Tom Casano: But this, the context and the situation is different. So someone might say like, you need to get all the technical stuff on your site, really good. The 404s and a 301s and the, I don’t know, the image all tags, image all tags like those ones drive me crazy cause it drives in results. But that might be very true for a site that has like a hundred thousand pages. But for your little site with like 20 pages that hasn’t even done keyword research and has two backlinks, you really need to focus on your backlinks and the content. So it’s tough like to learn this stuff. But actually, I think all that failure along the way makes you stronger and you realize like, okay, this is what actually works and moves the needle.

Phil Singleton: Awesome. So, that’s really cool. Coz I mean, for some of this stuff it’s like, this is kind of my world where I live. So it’s you get talking to somebody else who’s kind of taking their own path. It’s really exciting to talk about. But how about just getting the agency started doing that kind of thing? I mean like I know for me, deciding when to maybe get some physical office space, or taking that first plunge, or maybe actually hiring somebody, whether it’s a full time contract or even an actual W-2 employee, that kind of thing. It’s a big step. Right? Can you maybe explain how you got started with that, did you get the same feelings? And we are trying to build a team, whether it was a remote team or a local team, whatever it was and … because at some point you’re making money for yourself and all of a sudden you’re starting to feed other mouths to feed type of thing and the kind of … the responsibility becomes I think a little bit gross.

Tom Casano: Yeah, now it’s a great question. So I guess in some ways I’m an entrepreneur at heart and I learned along the way with that first business, the life coaching one that is using Upwork to hire freelancers and writers. And we created like 10,000 words of content and like I’ve realized that it wasn’t the best use of my time to sit and write this content. I was outsourcing and finding freelancers to help. And then, when I decided to start the SEO agency, I mean it’s just … and the thing I learned, I did a program called the foundation from being Maxwell, Andy, Trish, and learned a ton about business and a lot of mindset, like these limiting beliefs and these emotional blocks. If you’re afraid to kind of take those first steps on what’s holding you … a lot of it is like the inner game.

Tom Casano: But then … I lost my train of thought. Oh, basically I knew it’s just about getting the first clients, right? Once you get that first client, even if it’s like 500 bucks or a thousand whatever, it doesn’t matter what it is. Now you start to build a little momentum. Like a first little testimonial, you get some experience, you figure out how to create a proposal. And then for me, again, it’s just a matter of like finding a freelancer, finding someone that can … I think like a subcontractor. Like, “Hey, can you help me with Keyword Research?” “Hey, can you help me with … do a technical audit?” And I’m slowly starting to get one or two or three or four clients and starting to pass off some of that work.

Tom Casano: And first I’m doing all the work myself, right? So first I’m just a consultant, then I’m passing that work off. And over time it grows and grows. So now as there’s more clients, then there’s more freelancers. All of a sudden the freelancers are full time people. Our team is all remote. So it’s pretty interesting. Yeah, it’s been really a-
Phil Singleton: Everybody’s moving the nuts. I love it. I love to hear more about that and how you kind of manage it. But that’s-

Tom Casano: You know, exactly, that’s it. Someone was asking me recently, and what’s really been the most helpful is we have this like one half hour meeting once a week, and we just have this vibe and attitude of being like a family and helping each other, loving each other, just being open and honest.

Phil Singleton: How do you…

Tom Casano: That’s a Skype call with no video. I don’t know why, but it’s just the idea of like, just being honest and caring for each other and loving each other and somehow it just brings us more close together. And even though we’re remote, people love it, they work from home or wherever and it hasn’t really been a problem. So yeah, now we have like a full team. There’s over a dozen full time people, I don’t know how many people…

Phil Singleton: I think in my experience it seems like that’s a huge perk for one, to get the best people, and the best people that are really good at what they do. They want to be able to work from home. They don’t want to come into an office or work in a cubicle. That’s the main reason why I got into this business in the first place I was … I got a soul crushing cubicle job my first four years out of college. “I Don’t want to do it anymore.” But yeah, it seems like the best people, seem like they want to work from home or remote cause they can. Do you feel if or not the same way here?

Tom Casano: 100%. And I think also you find such quality and talent and people like if you’re living in the middle of nowhere in Montana, you can’t like commute to a city to get some SEO strategist job. But you know, we got one for you. And you know, I live in New York City in Manhattan, and if I want to hire an SEO strategist here, it’s going to cost me a fortune. But when I find people in other places of the country, so I think there’s just all these benefits, and then there’s also challenges. Like there’s time I wish … so many times I wish I could just give someone a big hug and I can’t. So we need to have yeah, like a get together. But yeah. It sounds like you understand this stuff. Your team has is remote or local?

Phil Singleton: I’ve got local, we have some W-2 employees that are here, but, we also have remote people and like basically full time contractors so. I actually have an office. The only reason I have an office really is for local clients to come in and come to our conference room, have a meeting, know that there’s kind of that investment kind of here locally. But then it’s really just all for them. Because then most of the work’s not done in the office. So I’ve got me, then I’m here with … as I’ve trained my boys were talking about before the show, and the summertime, I kind of have to be here. But other than that, I’m at home when I can be and then my sales guy is in here, we have meetings. Other than that, there’s no reason to have like a physical office, you know what I mean? So.

Tom Casano: Yeah, now that’s a cool thing about the online world nowadays.

Leveraging Upwork

Phil Singleton: Love it. Let’s get into something that’s near and dear to my heart because at the end of the day, it almost all comes down to lead generation for quality clients. Whether it’s for our own agencies or what we’re trying to do for our own companies. All sorts of other things can help people manage and scale and do this all kind of stuff. But at the end of the day, I mean really doesn’t it all come down to lead generation in some shape or form?

Phil Singleton: So you’ve had some successes generating leads in different ways. I’d love to kind of dig into it. And some of the ones that you mentioned before, I think in this call right now even before we started recording. Upwork, Linkedin, you’re a great podcaster you do a lot of video, good video content that goes along that as well. So those kind of things that are kind of working for you in terms of like drawing in ideal clients.

Tom Casano: Yeah, I’ll tell you honestly, 90% or so of our clients and business and revenue and everything is from Upwork. And it’s still kind of surprising to me to hear my own story, but I used Upwork to outsource work. To offshore it, maybe someone in India or the Philippines can do something for a few bucks an hour-

Phil Singleton: First to get help basically is that right?

Tom Casano: Exactly, yes. So, they call it the client and the freelancer. So I’d be the client, and I’m putting in whatever, a hundred bucks to get some work done and I get the work back. But then, I don’t know why or how, but I became a freelancer. So now I’m the consultant or the person looking for the work. And honestly, like that’s, I can’t tell, like I think in the last, 12 trailing months, over $100,000 of transactions have happened through Upwork, but that’s not counting everything that’s happened off of Upwork, off of their platform. Because they take a fee and all that stuff. So I’ve really scaled that up and I spent enough time as an SEO, like you understand, you just want to optimize the heck out of something once you start understanding the mechanics of it.

Tom Casano: So I can walk through that, but we’re maybe getting, I don’t know if it’s 10 or 20 leads per week? And then it’s a matter of filtering, because a lot of people when they’re on Upwork, they’re looking to like outsource, sometimes they’re looking to do it cheap. And so there’s a lot of people that are not the right kind of client for us, but those ones that are, where you go that extra mile to show how much you … how smart you are, how much you care or your experience and your skills and you make your profile awesome and you make your pitch awesome. And you filter out for those bigger projects. But it takes time cause day one you’ve got no reviews, and you’ve got no profiles either build it up over time. But it’s like anything, the more you put into it, the more you get out of it.

Phil Singleton: Are talking about sampling from your first a little bit? Or did they kind of come in and be like, “Hey, we love what we hear. We’ve done some research, let’s sign you up for like a retainer based thing for the rest of them.”

Tom Casano: No. Yeah they started like small terrible projects and to be honest, I have had like zero sales experience I’m like, “What do I know about pitching them and making it compelling and proposals and stuff?” So yeah, I started $500 or whatever I could get to get those little projects and building stuff out.

Phil Singleton: Awesome. And was that to build like reviews and things? A smaller transaction or those turn into bigger projects from the people that bought the smaller project from you?

Tom Casano: Yeah. The way it worked for me was just getting that traction of some reviews, so you have like a score, and I figured that it’s called, a Top Rated Freelancer. And then once you have that credibility, and they have their own algorithm. So it’s just like SEO all over again, like how do I rank higher when someone’s ranking SEO on the platform. So yeah, that actually wasn’t from those same client, cause those initial clients were smaller projects. And I could never a upsell them cause I never had the budget. I was like a little local printer in Australia and his budget was $1,000 a month. I could never upsell him to $2,000 a month cause it was just out of his budget. But having that experience and credibility in the platform then, would allow me to get the 2000 a month to 3000 a month.

Phil Singleton: Awesome. So Upwork’s one another’s contract it under some degree or some shape or form. Which one do I want to hit on these next? I mean we did talk a little bit about cold calling before the show started. I know in your team you’re not the person responsible for that, but to the extent that you can, love to hear more about it, cause I’m always intrigued about that piece of it was always believed that if there’s a way you can reach somebody on a phone, if you’re good at it, there’s just always going to be an element of timing. We were just thinking about doing and you show yourself, you get that ability. That’s just almost like a numbers game type of thing too. But I also know there’s a lot more noise these days and it’s just so much you’ve got like a really big give or a good angle is hard to get anybody’s attention.

Phil Singleton: Love to hear if that’s working for you or something you guys continue to do now, is it still kind of one, this is up in the air? Is it a core part of kind of like your sales and marketing efforts? How’s that going for you?

Tom Casano: Yeah. Honestly we haven’t even started it yet. And we have two guys that were hiring and we have sales training and I’m not a huge believer in it. It’s not that it can’t work and it won’t work. And I have a friend Ed who’s over in Brooklyn and he’s been doing a lot of it. And when I think of the types of leads, there’s, I think at the top you have like referrals or networking and then layered, like the next level down second level would be like inbound or someone’s found you through content marketing or saw you somewhere on social media.

Tom Casano: And then the third one is outbound. And I tend to think that outbound is the one you can have control over and you can be very proactive in. Because if no one’s coming to your website or you are going to have to pay. But I just think that it’s like a needle in a haystack. And if you call a hundred people, maybe one to five of them or one to ten … It’s a numbers game. And I’m not a huge fan. I’m not a huge believer but I know it’s possible. I know whole businesses built on it.

Phil Singleton: Yeah. Well it’s also funny, it seems like some of the clients that we end up getting seemed like they maybe if they were unhappy from their last digital marketing company, nine times out of 10 they were cold calls. How they kind of got on the hook for them. It worked for the company even though maybe they didn’t have their sales and marketing work. So always interested in talking about anybody that’s got a way. Cause there’s other people that swear by it and I’ve interviewed a ton of entrepreneurs where it seems like no matter what at some part of their early career they kind of had to roll up the sleeves either to like save their business or to get it going or just to try and generate something. Lots of them, nine times out of 10 hit the phones, but one time I guess in their life.

Phil Singleton: And maybe that’s a little bit different now because for us trying to do it, we don’t hit the phones. We’d go to another place where we’d try and start off with small gig or something like that to get better clients I don’t know how that works, but I’m definitely still interested in cold call. Cause I told you before that we failed miserably at it, but there’s some tenacity there to see like see how there’s other ways to make it work. I just know the way that we initially tried it didn’t work very well for us.

Tom Casano: No, I know exactly. And it’s like anything, if we try to do too many marketing initiatives, then we’re not giving anything enough attention to like really make it work. And then if you really have conviction on something you can double down on, You start to see the inklings of it. Like working and you get a lead out of it. I mean, like I’m telling you, I think 80-90% of our business is from Upwork. There might be a couple of referrals or partners has been working with those take time to build those relationships. Like if you’re just starting out, even for us to build relationships with potential partners, it’s a process, which I’m okay, I love longterm things, but at the same time I have like an urgency and I always want to see the growth chart to be as vertical as possible, even though it’s ridiculous.

Tom Casano: Another thing I’ve experimented with this clarity about us, have you heard of that Phil?

Phil Singleton: Yes.

Tom Casano: And that works well, no, it doesn’t work right. I guess some phone calls, but none of them really become retainer clients. Maybe like one or two have you could do get hourly work out of that. You could build relationships, you can actually optimize your profile. I’ll be frank with you, the algorithm all these platforms of algorithms, clarity’s algorithm. It’s like you can just keyword stuff your profile and your rank higher. I think for SEO I’m ranked number two, you want to get more reviews and more calls that’ll help you-

Phil Singleton: That’s another, I mean I’ve heard of it. I’ve never like actually used it, Is that’s a kind of another gig based kind of-

Tom Casano: It’s a cool platform. I wish they would market it. I want to help them because you can just hire any consultant on a minute by minute basis, you could talk to someone for a dollar a minute who is an expert in Facebook ads and just like boom, start talking. I think it’s a great idea. And so I’m on there as an SEO consultant. Anyone could be on, there’s any kind of consultant. So it’s another way to get potential leads. But that one doesn’t really drive us retainer leads or retainer clients-

Phil Singleton: Doing that now a while or is it still kinda up in the air is it still?

Tom Casano: Yeah, I’ve been doing that maybe six months or a year-

Phil Singleton: Are you getting like the engagement and starting the conversation, but it hasn’t like-

Tom Casano: Well, what will happen is these people want to pay by the minute, so they want to do a 30 minute call, great. They got what they needed. Maybe they’re doing it themselves for doing it in house and then they’re gone. And it’s like, hey, you want to spend $3,000 a month with me, It’s like not in their budget is not in their mindset. It’s not really the right targeting.

Phil Singleton: Gotcha.

3rd Party Webinars ie “Webinar Guesting”

Tom Casano: And then, oh, I did a Webinar for SEM Rush and I think I got four or five leads at that and two of them I think closed and became pretty good, retainers. And then I got another lead from a podcast I was interviewed on. I know this is your thing, so you can-

Phil Singleton: That’s great. I mean, I know that somebody else to like, confirmed that it’s actually working and it wasn’t just luck for me, but that’s awesome. Because a webinars almost to me, almost a very similar type of idea. Where you get exposure and other audience through being a guest somewhere, sharing knowledge bit-

Tom Casano: I think a topic matters too because the one that worked so well for me. It was all about the ROI of SEO. I think that can speak to like a CMO or a business owner. I did another Webinar with SEM Rush and it was all about how to be a great freelancer on Upwork and I think that’s going to get all the freelancers on Upwork it’s not gonna be targeted to my ideal prospect.
Phil Singleton: There’s value in that too though, right? Because all of a sudden you’re getting your name out there more than personal branding and authority and stuff that hopefully will come back-

Tom Casano: Yeah. I think it’s not as much, but yeah, and then we didn’t touch on yet, but I think, I mean I’m working on this now so it’s still too early for me to be like, “I’m getting leads and it’s growing my business.” But, Linkedin we could talk about, we seem to already be aware of….what’s that?

LinkedIn Lead Generation

Phil Singleton: The Cherry on top, let’s get it to Linkedin is something we’re excited about and I think you’ve got much more of a head start than most of us there. So tell us about how that’s working for you and what’s working for you.

Tom Casano: Yeah, for sure. So Linkedin, Microsoft bought them two years ago and change a lot of platform and now people probably notice it’s more like Facebook. There’s the news feed that’s on the homepage and so-

Phil Singleton: Some people were a little bit afraid they (Microsoft) were going to mess it up. It’s just like they actually like hit a home run with it.

Tom Casano: Yeah, exactly. I was like, why is Microsoft buying this? This makes no sense. But the challenge is if you look at Facebook, not only is it like saturated and every marketer kind of knows about it, but also, you get like basically almost zero organic reach through your company page. It’s like basically if you want to be seen, you have to pay for it. Linkedin is still kind of a baby and oh my God, Linkedin is every, in the first of all, the targeting is amazing, right? Like you could basically find anyone you want to find, you want to find the CMOs, you can find them and everyone is on there and it’s much more one to one.

Tom Casano: And it’s also like, it’s not a one way street, like with, Facebook, you’d get followers, but with Linkedin I connect with you and once we’re connected, we’re both automatically following each other unless we unfollow. But there’s like no content. It’s like if you look at your Linkedin feed, it’s terrible. Typically for most people’s feed, it’s like someone share something that gets zero to one likes and it’s like people are promoting it. It’s like garbage.

Tom Casano: There’s this opportunity of all these content creators that are coming on now and it’s an algorithm like, other social media algorithms that if you start getting engagement with your posts, like within the first hour, I don’t even know. I need to study the algorithm. I don’t fully understand. Within the first day or so, the algorithm starts to think like, “Wow, everyone’s liking this to commenting on it. It must be really good. We’ll share it across more, give it more visibility.” And there’s so many fascinating things in this. You could tell getting passionate about it because they’ll show your stuff the second and third degree connections. And you’ve probably seen it like it’ll say the topic, someone commented or someone like such a such a thing. All of a sudden your network just starts like moving further and further out of people that are not directly connected to you.

Tom Casano: And a creative video a week ago, as of the time we’re recording this now and it’s gotten 12,000 views and I think like 200 comments and 200 likes. And it was a very transparent, vulnerable video about spike own self worth, which has nothing to do with business or Linkedin. But if it can resonate and if I can get that initial … I tell the guys in my team like, “Hey, like, or comment on my thing.” That’ll tell the algorithm that this is a good piece of content.

Tom Casano: And so basically I’m very hyper aware now people that have grown, tens of thousands or a hundred thousand plus followers and they put out a piece of content. It gets all these likes and views, and I was telling you in the green room right before this, that if I would have be on YouTube, it might be lucky to get five years right and put the VR on Linkedin, it got 12,000. But that’s because I’m really optimizing the crap out of it. I’m scaling my connection. I’m connected with a hundred people a day. I’ve grown from like 2000 to 4,000 connections in the last month. There, there’s a lot and I’ve been putting a lot of too much time and energy into learning about it, but I just think the opportunity is just amazing.

Phil Singleton: Yeah, that’s awesome. I mean, that’s so good. There’s other ones, I don’t use it, yes ave looked at at all, but it seems that there’s a lot of Linkedin lead generation services where you’ve got people that are, I’m not exactly sure how it is they’re doing it but I guess they’re targeting people helping to do the outreach stuff, setting up meetings and calls and that kind of stuff. Is that something you’ve tried or looked at? Have you done any kind of your own outreach or that kind of thing?

Tom Casano: That’s something I’m starting like literally next week for, we’re moving into the fourth quarter because I don’t know exactly the best process, but I do know a few things. I do know that templated or like copy and pasting and junk just I don’t think works so well. I think it has to be personalized and I think it has to start from a place of like, “How can I help you?” or “What’s in your world-?”

Phil Singleton: All the time, I’m sure right now, I get it like, all of a sudden somebody can do it. It’s like, now, you know?

Tom Casano: Yeah, exactly. It’s like spam. It’s a cold email. Like we talked about cold calling. There’s cold email, it’s the same concept, right? Just copy and paste as junk and then the person’s like, “I don’t … who are you?”

Phil Singleton: We’ll do a followup with you on that to see how it kind of works I know there’s something, I mean I even tried to think about the ways that people have actually … that I’ve actually ended up buying from. Because they get pitched all the time. Sure you do. And the ones that really only works when then the gift has been pretty good. Like, “Hey, some people say I want to guest post.” Or when somebody comes and says, “I read this post, it was really awesome. We actually linked from it from our side.” and I said. “Oh Wow. Okay. Well that’s cool.” they already starting to give me something. Now I feel obligated to come back and do that.

Tom Casano: So now all your listeners now they just need to send you a backlink.

Phil Singleton: I guess we’re doing that right now, but anything, yeah, another guy said that, their posting or their blogger outreach was so good that he was willing to give me three of them to like, “Hell yeah, I got to try that.” And then all of a sudden it was good. So we tried them out and that kind of stuff. That stuff really works right? Cause they’re investing in themselves, to do that kind of thing versus “Hey, we just connected with you. I want to tell you about how I can make your company more money. You’re saving money.” It’s like never, it has never worked once for me. I don’t think it will ever work. Has it worked for you? Has it worked for some people? Because it’s a numbers game for em but-

Tom Casano: No, I have the same philosophy you got to give first. You have to add value, create value. I’ve been also tracking this as I connect with more people. I get more of these things and I’m actually starting to record there’s like four of them that got me to engage. And I was almost intrigued. I was like, “Ooh.” And one of them was just an open question of like, it’s a personalized message. So it can be templated it’s like, “Hey Tom, thanks. We’re going actionable.” And they’re like, “What’s new in your world?” And I feel like I have to respond to that. I don’t know why and two of those guys said. And I was like, “I wonder if this is like a thing that people are doing this?” Like, “What’s new in your” … it doesn’t have to be that phrase, but I was just like … or they say, “What can I do to help you?”

Tom Casano: And I usually say that and then like, “Oh, do you know anyone who needs help with SEO?” I’d love to …. But you are not adding value, and this is now … we could talk about it for a second like … cause I want to actually you to teach me when you’re in my podcast about how you’re becoming a guest on podcasts. So there’s been some … I have a podcast as well as fill in and some people have pitched me like, “Hey, I want to be a guest on your podcast?” And it’s just like you’re saying, and I heard you say this in the Larry Kim episode, like, “What’s in it for me?” Like, “What’s the value?” Like, “If I get 10 pitches, why would I pick you? I don’t have all the time in the world.”

Tom Casano: And, so I watched another agency like pitch me in to be a guest. On their podcast, I took the guest, it was the guy who’s the founder of Manychat, the chat-

Phil Singleton: Okay. Yeah, sure.

Tom Casano: And what she said, it was a great email and I copied the whole thing. I was like, “This is beautiful.” It was like she left her review, and then she talked honestly.
Phil Singleton: Wow that’s good.

Tom Casano: Yeah. And she said like something very specific, like I could tell she must have listened to an episode for at least 10 minutes. Oftentimes people will say that when they’re doing outreach for link building, like, “I liked your post about it.” and then insert title and then you’re like, “No, you didn’t.”

Tom Casano: Who Cares? Right? So it’s adding value. It’s giving first building a relationship and then finding that synergy and connection. But, so that’s what we’ve been doing. So for me to become a guest on podcasts on it, I need to hear your strategy. We’ve been doing that and just being methodical or having a list of podcasts and creating a rela … a lot of it is building relationships like you and I met through a relationship through my colleague, who’s been a guest on your podcast, and on mine too. So it just becomes a small world where people want to help each other and all that.

Phil Singleton: Exactly. And it’s so genuine stuff like that. I’d love to kind of dig into that a bit more. But yeah, the Linkedin things very exciting and I think it’s going … it seems like it’s getting, it’s almost like early, it’s getting better.

Phil Singleton: I mean, I don’t wanna spend any time on. The only place I ever spent anytime right now is Linkedin because it’s cleaner content. It’s more interesting. It’s more focused on stuff that I like. I just not never have really been into Facebook. I am there because you know, clients and customers need to be there, that kind of stuff and there’s some group things that work. But I love Linkedin but I also feel like I’m leaving money on the table.

Tom Casano: Well I think-

Phil Singleton: Only participating and not doing it with enough strategy.

Tom Casano: Yeah, I mean I think it’s like anything, it’s like to really make it work for you, you really have to invest time or energy or money. You have to give it some focus. Right? And I’ve struggled with this too, because I’m too focused on too many things I’m not. But I think the other big thing is to, when we talk, like Gary Vaynerchuk talks about like optimizing to the platform or like being native within that platform.

Tom Casano: And so with Linkedin you can’t put an external link in your post because Linkedin’s algorithm will not give it as much visibility coz Linkedin doesn’t want people to leave the platform. So you really have to create content for Linkedin. Like specifically, you can’t take your blog post and just paste it in the link and say something about it. You’ve got to, craft that Linkedin post in the same way that if you’re writing a blog post for your blog, you’re just making it just for that blog. So does that make sense? I think a lot of people like doing that.

Phil Singleton: Totally. And that’s something I’m probably doing you no wrong too, coz I’m always wanting people to come back to our site so I can tag them now with Linkedin’s got their own remarketing tag too, so I can see how people would do it the old fashioned way.

Phil Singleton: But I totally get what you’re saying it’s like, well you’re also, it’s a little give and take there. They want you to put your best con … you want your best content on your site. They want the best content on their platform and they’re going to reward you more for it. So-

Tom Casano: Exactly. And it just takes more time and effort. And the other thing is like they give you like the preview, like if it’s a text post, you see like the first. I should know the number of characters are down that need’s to click see more. And so the real, it’s almost like the headline or the Clickbait and you have to have something in there emotional that will grab people. And the other thing is like transparency or vulnerability, which people, I think there’s fear because on Linkedin you feel like you have to be professional.

Tom Casano: It’s your professional network. But I think once you start to just say something like raw and honest and the other thing that’s really amazing, is like when you go on Instagram or Facebook, you know everyone’s posting like their vacation pictures and this perfect life, life like the filters on. But like, then it makes all the rest of us kind of feel crappy like, “Man, these people have awesome lives.” Like, “Mine sucks.” But then when you go on Linkedin and no one’s doing anything like remarkable, and then you start to say something that’s like, “My client just fired me yesterday.” Period. It’s like, well, you want to start your … see more. Or like, “I just had the worst day of my life yesterday and I cried for two hours.” Well like you can click see more and your students are reading it and getting the engagement. So it’s like marketing and other platforms as well.

Phil Singleton: That’s awesome. Let’s let them wrap up here and then kind of also just tell our listeners where they can find you and that kind of stuff. Before I do that, I want to ask one more question. One of the things I noticed in after we made a connection, of course I checked your website. That’s great. I checked out your podcast with some episodes. You’ve done a fantastic job of being able to start a podcast in your niche and be able to invite and get people on your show that are pretty much the Who’s who in the SEO, like kind of in the inbound marketing world in particular in SEO. How does that … how did you do that? What? Did you do direct outreach? Did you engage with these people first? What … you saw one of the tricks Larry used again when he came on my show. Did you do … was it that extravagant or did you use something else? Spill it man. Tell em how you do it.

Tom Casano: Oh you know I didn’t finish Larry King episode, and he told to listen to the rest of it. Yeah, so, I have kind of like a template, and you have to, like we talked about adding value and giving you have to position that so that like, “Hey, would you like to be featured as a guest on my podcast for all my listener?” It has to be of extreme value to them, but the relationship building is even first and foremost. And even with any templated email, I’m always personalize in the beginning. If you have an existing relationship, you have to have that human connection that they like you and they want to be on.

Tom Casano: But if they’ve never heard from me, I might cold email them or I might try to like get some kind of referral or some kind of like connections was not direct. So like for instance, Brian Dean, I think I first emailed him in like September of last year. And I replied to one of his like automated marketing messages, and then he went on Hunter.io. I tried to find … he had like three email addresses like, “I don’t know what or it he’s even going to reply. So and then I replied to one of his automated marketing messages, and then he said something, he was taking like a podcast holiday for two months and he was busy. Okay. So I marked it on my calendar and I followed up again and then he was busy. Okay. And then … Sometimes the opportunity just presents itself. Like there’s a, a company I mentioned to you called conductor, which is … you’re not that familiar with them and probably a lot of people aren’t.

Tom Casano: But I want to interview the CEO, his name Seth. And so I’d emailed him in the past and then the opportunity presented himself. I just randomly … Sorry shared on Linkedin that he was interviewed in some podcast and shared. And then I liked it and I commented, I said, “Oh great. I’ve had Pat from your team, from your company on the show and I’d love to interview you and … sorry the guy too.” And then he responded and then I emailed them and they emailed me back to set up a time. It’s like … and the other thing is having the credibility. So what I’m asking someone that I want to interview on my podcast, I have a landing page and I could share with you and it’s like, I’ve got the most credible figures I could think of, at least in my or in our world of SEO and stuff like that.  Eric Su, you know, maybe I’ll change things or add people if I have some of those types of people or internet famous. What’s that?

Phil Singleton: If they click on it and they are of that caliber, then all of a sudden they see everybody else to it. Now it’s kind of like snowballing on itself, right?

Tom Casano: Exactly. Yeah. It’s like street cred, right? And you build your way up. And then, but then what I’ve learned, Phil, I’ll be very honest, is I thought that like, what’s cool is one, it’s influencer marketing. So you’re building relationships, right? Like now I feel like I can email Rand Fishkin or Brian Dean and then I’m not going to be some stranger weirdo guy. But the other thing is I thought that these people would kind of like share it. And he even got Brian Dean’s tweet it, but like did nothing, I don’t really think it had any impact. So even my concept and what I heard and thought about influencer marketing, it’s not really driving results for the podcast, which makes me realize Mm-hmm (affirmative)- okay. That’s not really the best strategy for me. What other strategy should I do?

Phil Singleton: Awesome. It’s great stuff. Gosh, we have to have you back again to once now that we’ve had this kind of initial one to kind of really maybe drill down on one or two things the next time if you’re willing to come back on the show. But for now I just want to thank you and I’d like for you to tell us where people can reach you in terms of your website, and I’m assuming Linkedin’s going to be one of the places that we’ve got to make sure that we are link to because you’re active on. What any other social channels that you spend time on too?

Tom Casano: I spend a lot of time on twitter, but it doesn’t really do anything. You thinking like a con. I don’t know. People don’t really engage or maybe I’m just too late to the platform. I Dunno. But yeah, and it’s been a pleasure. I-

Phil Singleton: You do it just to … so it will include that link, but that’s one of the ones that you just kind of-

Tom Casano: Well it’s, yes. Some people say it’s a ghost town, or it’s overly bullish on Linkedin.

Phil Singleton: I just … Yeah Linkedin seems like it’s more for like the people out there that are actually getting the work done. Twitter just seems like such an … just like a major influencer platform.

Tom Casano: It’s too noisy. That’s the other thing, like you could-

Phil Singleton: Unless you are a Celebrity, and I mean the rest of us, is it really the best place for them now?

Tom Casano: But it’s too competitive. It’s too noisy and competitive, like maybe there’s … in someone’s feed, they might have like a thousand tweets an hour or 200. Like how are we going to stand out in that? You’re not.

Phil Singleton: Once I was talking to some other guy, I was saying, yeah, like the twitter or something … twitter’s the shelf life’s like minutes?

Tom Casano: Yeah.

Phil Singleton: Facebook, It’s like maybe six hours or so I don’t know what it is on Linkedin, but at least on some of those-

Tom Casano: Linkedin is like, oh, it’s like a week, it’s two weeks. Like you look in your feed and you might see like something from four days ago.

Phil Singleton: It’s still in…

Tom Casano: It can still show it because they’re so hungry for content. There’s nothing better that happened in the la … I mean that video is still getting views. It’s still increasing cause it’s, yeah. So people can find me anywhere. Google my name Tom Casano or connecting with me on-

Phil Singleton: Can you spell it out for us?

Tom Casano: Sure Oak. Yeah, for sure it’s Sure Oak Yeah. It’s S-U-R-E like you are “sure” about something and O-A-K like an Oaktree.

Tom Casano: So yeah, connect with me. Follow me, reach out. I’d love to say hello and see what I can do to help you. And thanks so much for having me, Phil. It has been a pleasure.

Phil Singleton: Awesome I also got so excited about this too. So and Tom Casano tell me I’m saying it the right way hope I didn’t say it … mispronounce it. I didn’t, I just rolled the dice and said, I think I can get this one. But thanks a ton of time.

Tom Casano: Yeah. I’ve had a blast Phil you are awesome and we’re kindred spirits, so thanks for having me.

Phil Singleton: Awesome.

How to Get Content From Your Clients

About James Rose & Content Snare

James Rose is a reformed Australian digital agency owner and the co-founder of Content Snare.

Content Snare is an online software service designed to cut down the time and headache wasted on chasing up clients for website content.

Content Snare is one of the best content marketing tools helps digital agencies and web designers get content from their clients.

One of the biggest bottlenecks in the web design process is waiting on clients to send their content through.

After countless follow-ups and an email trail longer than your to-do list, it’s still common for deadlines to be missed.

Content Snare helps you get the content back on time and in the right format, in a process that’s simplified for the client and your agency.

Instead of wading through different files, a massive email trail and Dropbox, Content Snare provides a central place where you and your client can access everything.

Episode Resources & Links

 

Meet James Rose

Phil Singleton: Hello everybody, and welcome to another episode of The Local Business Leaders Podcast. I am your host Phil Singleton. Today our featured guest is James Rose. James is a reformed Australian digital agency owner and the co-founder of Content Snare. Content Snare is an online software service designed to cut down the time and headache wasted on chasing up clients for website content.

So, wow. I’m a website, SEO, digital marketing owner myself. And I can tell you that this is one of the most difficult things that us agency owners run into. We’ll get a website, you know, 90% done and then be waiting weeks and weeks on content from the clients, who are busy during their own thing, right? The website’s a really important part of their business and it’s the hub of basically anybody’s modern digital marketing program. Yet getting that critical content up onto a new website can be like pulling teeth.

So anybody who creates websites for a living and knows how tough it can be to get the content needed to complete and launch a new website is gonna love this. And I think other folks with small businesses that listen to this podcast as well will kind of understand some of the challenges that we have in … Or in getting this kind of content. Really probably for websites but just maybe ongoing, you know, content for the website and other projects as well. So we can’t wait to really dig into this.

James, welcome to the show.

James Rose: Thank you for having me, Phil.

Phil Singleton: Awesome. I can’t wait for this one. ‘Cause anytime we get the chance to talk about our own company’s pain points and stuff like that is always a treat. But before we get into that kind of stuff, can you give us a little bit of background about yourself? I mean, literally your first kind of job out of school or what have you? How did you get started into the business world? And what was kind of your story in terms of getting to where you are today?

James Rose: I think I have one of the more boring stories here. Like, I always hear people like … Oh, they like selling things to people in school and stuff like that and always have had the entrepreneurial thing. But I did not at all. I was fully in the system, you know? Go to university, college as you guys might say. And then get an engineering job, ’cause I was really into that sort of stuff, like super logical and liked working stuff and I liked working on that kind of … Sorry, moving stuff, you know, like machinery and all that. And I was just fascinated by it and I wanted to make it.

So that’s where I went. But yeah, I just did the thing. I went to college, got my job. Was doing … Just did that for a few years. And then a friend of mine was going to an online marketing conference and he had a free ticket. And you know back in the day when online marketing conferences were basically pitch fests?

Phil Singleton: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

James Rose: But yeah, I went to one of those kind of things. And … But it actually provided a fair bit of info on like how to sell other people’s products for a commission online. And that sort of … It was one of those like Matrix red pill moments where, you know, I couldn’t get back now that I know that I can make money on the internet. Yeah, that’s pretty much how it all started.

Phil Singleton: The conference basically lit the fire, huh?

James Rose: Yeah. Like, so I went home and started building websites and trying to monetize them with … Back in the AdSense gold rush as they called it, where you could just throw up rubbish websites and put AdSense on ’em and try to get them ranking in Google to make some money. And yeah, that was my start. Like, in hindsight we made some terrible, terrible websites. I mean, we were probably putting a lot of crap on the internet and I’m glad it went away. But …

Phil Singleton: How awesome was it for a while? I mean, as it was kind of easy to make a little bit of money back then, or a lot of money. You know, just by getting started up. They were sweet. So then what happened? And then you got … I know you’ve had an agency or had an agency for a long time. What was kind of the …

James Rose: Yeah.

Phil Singleton: Like when you first got that started and how you kind of maybe amped that up?

James Rose: Well, the first thing we actually did is I met my business partner at my day job. And we built some software for that industry. Is a long time ago now. So we always liked software and building stuff, and that’s where we started. But eventually-

Phil Singleton: So you actually had some skills? I mean, in terms of like, you know, build stuff and participate in that kind of, you know.

James Rose: Well, we learned it. We learned it, you know? Like, we wrote software as part of our job, but very, very different style of software then writing something for a computer, you know? Like these industrial things that have their own special programming languages that most like web developers and stuff would have never even seen half of these languages before.

But so there, we learned C Sharp, it was, and we built a product for … It was in the SEO space, and eventually it kind of … We just decided we didn’t want to be in that space anymore because this product was kind of dodgy. You know, like now it’s a grade of black hat and back then everyone was doing it. And we saw that shift happening and we were like, “No, we cannot be in this space. We don’t really want our names on it.”

So, yeah. Then we started networking just around the local area to just try and find another problem to solve, really. That was it. I was just talking about what issues they had. They asked what I did, and I’d say software. And most people seemed to associate anything with computers as the same thing. You know, like IT, websites, software. So as soon as we said we did software they’d be like, “Oh, my web guy’s like disappeared and we’ve got all these problems with our website.” And blah, blah, blah. Everyone focused on websites.

So that’s how we got started. We went, “Ah, well, we’ve been building websites for years. So how about we do that for people and charge them for it?” So that’s how we got into the agency side of things.

Phil Singleton: Nice. So that kind of … It looks like you had that going for years. Five, six, seven, eight years. Something like that? Or …

James Rose: Yeah, I think it was about … Oh, actually, no. It was only about four and a bit I think now. Because we’re winding that down now. But yeah, so we started doing websites and obviously had that capability for software and eventually mobile apps, which we learned over time. But to be honest, we always had our head down, like ear to the ground looking for ideas for our next product.

So we … Actually, it really early on in the whole thing we found a problem with … A client needed to set up a payment system and send invoices out with Xero using Stripe, the payments … Sorry. The payments went out with Stripe, invoices went out with Xero. And there was not a really easy way to make this happen. Like, we were trying to use Zapya and Triumph, and things together to make it work. But the reconciliation process was really awful. And we ended up building a product for that called Silver Siphon, which we actually sold to an investment firm in Silicon Valley last year. So that was-

Phil Singleton: Nice.

James Rose: But it was only like a side gig. It was never going to be a huge app, ’cause it was a single feature app type thing. Yeah, so … And that sold last year. And then around the same time we started work … Actually, it overlaps quite a bit, but we started work on Content Snare, which is our product which you’ve already touched on for digital agencies to get content from clients. Because we obviously had that problem quite a bit in our agency life.

Phil Singleton: Right. So that’s what I was gonna ask. Is it … Is that something that you went around and asked? Or obviously you had a niche building websites, you felt that pain on your own as any of us still feel to this day. So loved to hear about how kind of, you know, that started and the kind of problems that you had at your agency in terms of getting stuff out of clients to launch.

James Rose: Yeah. Well, I absolutely cannot take credit for it, because my original idea was something around the briefing process, like website briefing. Because that was one of my biggest issues. I was really trying to get websites down to a really sort of … Like, I’m very process-minded, and I wanted all these parts that took a while to be automated somehow. So I had this pretty cool idea for a briefing app. And in our software circles, they talk about doing client interviews, where you go and talk to your potential audience and find out what their biggest problems are.

So I did that. And the idea is you go in without any … Like, you don’t guide them towards what you want, you know? Like, I wasn’t sitting there going, “Is the briefing process really difficult?” I didn’t … I just wanted them to talk about their biggest problems.

So I just went down that path with about 15 different local designers. And every single one of them focused on content as the biggest bottleneck in their process. ‘Cause that’s … I just talked about their process from start to finish. From talking to a client or potential client to signing off a job and them going on their way. And every single one of them focused on content as the biggest problem. So even before we’d started, the idea was kind of flipped over and we basically moved on Content Snare instead of a briefing tool.

Phil Singleton: That’s awesome. So let’s talk about like what it does and how you guys help people and what kind of traction you got and a little bit more about Content Snare. It’s one of those things, too, I think that … You know, I’ve been doing this for years myself and it’s always been an issue and we try different ways to do things. And we found certain ways I think to kind of ease the pain. And some of it is trying to do whatever we can actually to take it away from our clients.

So part of our process would be like, “Okay, we’ve got 10 or 15 questions. We do interviews on Zoom. We record ’em. We transcribe ’em. We send them to a write and we just basically … Part of our contract is we’re gonna write you like seven or 10 pieces of content, you know? Get some stuff out. So if takes a long time, we’re just gonna be able to like stamp this out. Even though that’s probably not the best way to do it. It’s almost like just a way … Like, get some really high-quality starter content on the website. Which isn’t great, but you can see how … I can see how people are out there just trying to figure out how to get things done.

The Problem: Getting Content for a New Website

‘Cause if I step back and look like, “Look, if I just … If every new client I had just already had 10 or 15 pages worth of content, some great images and maybe a couple of videos, we could be turning out really awesome websites in like a couple … Custom websites in like two to three weeks.” You know?

James Rose: Oh yeah.

Phil Singleton: But you don’t have that piece. So that’s the X factor that takes a website … You know, instead of two or three weeks may take two or three months. Or four or five months. Or six months or … You know, like we were talking about before the show, everybody’s got one that they’re probably really embarrassed about. It’s like, “Wow, we’ve worked for like months and we can’t get it launched.” And I’ve got two right now that are from 2017, you know? And we’re still trying. Which is like scary. So-

James Rose: And it’s definitely a story we’ve heard a lot.

Phil Singleton: Yeah, yeah. So tell us … And then you hear things like, you know, “Cool, alright. There’s a new software or service that you got.” Which almost sounds … I don’t want to like, you know, always hit it … Is that too good to be true type of thing. How have you guys solved it? Like, what does it do? Let’s dig in a little bit and tell us how it’s made our lives easier as agency owners.

James Rose: Yeah, and it’s funny you say that too good to be true thing. Because I’ve actually … The first email that goes out now and to clients’ Success Pack, this sort of thing that I send out to people that sign up, I make sure that I say that it’s not a magic bullet, right? Like, nothing’s just gonna magically get you content. I think that is actually one of our biggest issues at the moment is people sign up expecting they can turn it on and magically all their content problems go away. And suddenly clients start providing content in like three days. But it’s not the case.

So essentially we just try to make it much easier for clients to provide content. And that also requires a bit of work on the digital agency front. So at its core really it’s just a lot of different places for a client to put their content in. So that might be file uploads or text fields or WYSIWYG, which is for those not familiar, What You See Is What You Get. So just like formatted texts so they can bold things and italics and all that sort of stuff. You know, and you can constrain everything, so like with images … You know, it’s always funny when you get a logo that’s like 20 pixels high or something and you’re trying to use it on the site.

So you can force clients in … ‘Cause this is one of … Like, the biggest problems we found people had were the delays. Getting bad content. You know, whether that’s the wrong images or content that’s not long enough or short enough, or, you know, it’s waffling. Or it’s just not good content at all. Or it comes back really strangely formatted, like probably a lot of web designers can probably resonate with this. But getting like Word documents back that are full of highlighting and red text with like instructions saying things like … Yeah. You’re laughing because I’m sure you’ve had it before.

Phil Singleton: Oh yeah.

James Rose: Yeah. So … And you get these weirdly formatted documents. And that was what we were trying to squash, is those three issues in one. So it’s a place … It’s a central place to manage all the content where you don’t need to have instructions throughout the actual content like you do with Word documents. So the instructions sit separately in their own little boxes where you can guide your clients through the writing process and what kind of content you need. You can constrain them into the right kinds. And then obviously the automatic reminders, because that’s the biggest thing is sometimes they just forget or, you know, you don’t want to have to sit there and constantly email them and chase them up.

Phil Singleton: Yeah, right.

James Rose: So yeah, I mean, one day maybe we’ll even do some text message reminders or something, I don’t know. But we want to turn it into a bit more of a management platform where it helps you manage your clients a bit more. At the moment it’s kind of just email reminders, you know, on schedules based on due dates.

Phil Singleton: Awesome. So it’s like a central repository kind of where you can put stuff and then you’re actually structuring the content that you need and then the clients are basically getting reminders. And once it’s filled, does it stop the reminder?

James Rose: Yeah, absolutely. So … And you can actually send out different reminders based on like whether they’ve not started at all or they’ve filled it out just a little bit. Or whether they’re done. So in the future, I think we’re gonna make that even better. But, yeah, that’s pretty much it. Like, I never know how much detail to go into with this. But yeah, in one sentence, it’s a central repository with a structure and the automatic reminders. So yeah, what you said.

Phil Singleton: And then it’s like I see … I totally get what you’re saying about it. It’s really any of these tools. I mean, there’s so many things out there that I guess can work or can’t work for you. And it’s like none of them usually are like, “Buy something and solve all of your problems.” But anything that can kind of give you the structure and you actually like use and make part of your routine, is huge. Right? I mean, that’s just a big thing.

But the other side of it is that I can see … This is an agency designer myself that’s … Look, I’m really intrigued by this and I’ve actually signed up for it myself. But we’re already like, you know … Always seems like we’re in a game running around. So you get that part where it’s like, “Which tools do you kind of give it a try?” ‘Cause every trick that we try takes some time, is a learning curve, right?

James Rose: Yeah.

Phil Singleton: And then you know you need to do some of these things so that can improve your process. But at the same time, it’s like … Okay, sometimes we put things off, right? And then-

James Rose: Absolutely, yeah.

Phil Singleton: And even on new things that we know can help … Any challenges with that or any success stories that you can relate to people that are taking the time to work this into their routine? And some of the things your happy clients say after kind of incorporating it I guess?

James Rose: Yeah, and this is why we have to spend a lot of time trying to make that onboarding process, like getting people to use it, as easy as possible. And because if they put it in the too hard basket, I don’t know, do you guys say that in America? Put it in the too hard basket?

Phil Singleton: Yeah, I’m gonna start saying that. But, had to explain it, yeah.

James Rose: Yeah, yeah. So that’s … You know, if you have to put all this work in to get it going out of the … Especially as a busy person already, which most agency owners are, they’re not gonna have the time to do it. So that’s pretty much where all my time’s going right now is making things easier. And I mentioned the Client Success Pack before. And that’s essentially like a video that helps people get started as fast as possible. Some explanation on how to make it work the best. And some actual templates, you know, and copywriting instructions. Because I find that is the biggest thing.

And I was speaking to a client … To answer your question … I was speaking to a client just like a week ago who sort of hit this aha moment. They’d first started using it a while back. And didn’t really realize the best ways to use it. And to him that was realizing each section. So in Content Snare you have a content request, and then you have sort of pages, which could be used for pages on a website. And then within those, you have sections.

So in a website header, you know, the hero header might be a section. But he hadn’t … In my mind that was really clear, ’cause that’s how we designed it. But he hadn’t realized that was a … How it was supposed to be used. And when he realized that you could put a screenshot of a website section as like a section in Content Snare and then put fields in that corresponds to that like a headline and a subheadline and a button, that was his aha moment where it clicked in. So that’s a big thing now.

Like, I’ve … We’ve created built-in templates for common website sections like navigation sections and headers and, you know, about blurbs and contact pages and all that kind of stuff to get people to that point faster. And he actually said it really well. ‘Cause we were just talking about the time spent to get up to speed. He said, “You know, putting in a few minutes work now can save you hours later. And now I’m trying to work out how to put that in our onboarding.” Like, get … Make people realize that that’s the case.

Phil Singleton: Yeah, that’s awesome. So I can see as you’re talking about this, I’m also thinking about how many of us … And you’ve probably done this yourself, too, James, maybe … Where I’ve bought things or started trials or even bought things where, you know, you are … You’ve got this thing, this service page you’re paying for. And I’m actually thinking right now, every once and a while I think we go back and I take a look and like, “Are we actually even using this?” ‘Cause you start doing your own agency or whatever, all of a sudden you start building up this like list of monthly payments that you’re doing. And then not even realizing that you haven’t used it.

And not that the product’s not good or anything, it’s just you never took some time. I think it seems like some online software providers, they must have some way to like tag their notices. ‘Cause some of them I notice if you don’t start using them, they basically are like … They know that they’re at risk of, you know, maybe canceling the service because you’re not even using it at all. You haven’t really given it the chance. Like, you went on with the best intentions. You buy and it kind of sat there. And all of a sudden it starts dinging your credit card.

James Rose: Yeah, you’ve just given me an idea of like … ‘Cause that’s definitely one of our things at the moment is people forgetting about it or not using it and not having the time. And then canceling. And I was like, “Man, the CRM we’re using has that ability to email people who are” … It’s called the segment’s slipping away. So it’s like built in, right? So that’s something I need to start doing.

Phil Singleton: Well, even still just myself, I was just thinking, “Gosh, that I could see how that happens.” ‘Cause we all want the next edge and you have to keep investing in technology and stuff like that. But I can see that being a tricky … How about just making the … I mean, you didn’t really make a transition I guess from … You always kind of had the agency in the background, but you always seemed like you also had the ability or you had a product that you were actually selling and, you know, kind of a scalable piece where you could have it out there and resell it. And I was gonna ask…

James Rose: Yeah, I think that’s where our heart’s always been, you know, like in the software side of things. Agency stuff was like … I enjoyed it, but not as much as software.

Phil Singleton: Right. And that’s ’cause you like building that stuff? Or you like actual process of being able to kind of put something out and market it and sell, you know-

James Rose: Yeah-

Phil Singleton: Lots of them versus having to kind of … You know, it is kind of tough. Everyone wants to scale their agency. But at the end of the day, we’re still consultants to some degree, you know? It’s really, really hard to like completely automate like a website.

James Rose: Oh yeah.

Phil Singleton: Especially if you want to use it as a tool to do recurring income type of thing. But-

James Rose: Definitely.

Phil Singleton: So you can scale and have more, maybe you can go from 50 to a hundred or two hundred. But you can’t do like a product where you could literally sell thousands of ’em, right?

James Rose: Yeah, that’s right.

Phil Singleton: And that’s kind of where you guys are at with this thing. And … Can you give us some examples about how you … You got this, you got a product, you have something that almost seems like it’s really geared for agencies, right? Digital agencies?

James Rose: Yeah, well, that’s like the marketing. There’s definitely other markets for it.

Phil Singleton: So how are you going about, like, getting the word out? Marketing that now? Maybe a website for it? You’re doing your own content for it? You doing any AdWords? I mean, you’re out there both … How’s … What’s working for you that way?

James Rose: Oh, this is a touchy subject.

Phil Singleton: I’m sorry.

James Rose: No, no, no. I’m kidding. It’s like the bane of my existence right now because the big thing with any sort of productized thing is they say … Especially in the beginning … Finds one or two channels that are really working well for you and just double down those. And right now I have about 15 channels that are working a little bit. So I don’t have any one channel that’s really like exploded or … You know, it’s all working a little bit and it’s fine and it’s growing. It’s just like I wish I knew where to focus. But yeah, we’ve tried … We’ve done a little bit of AdWords. A little bit of Facebook Ads.

But a lot of our stuff comes from people searching for the problem. Whether that’s by actual on Google going like, you know, hitting a point of frustration and going, “How to get website content from clients”, but that’s really, really low volume. Like, not many people actually search for that. To the point where we couldn’t even target it on AdWords ’cause it said too low volume or whatever.

And the other thing is if they hit that same point of frustration and go to like a Facebook group or a community and say, “Look, I’m so sick of this. Like, what have you seen that helps or how can we streamline this process?” And people might mention Content Snare if they’ve heard about it. Or, you know, ’cause I find some groups that we haven’t sort of gotten into yet where people are talking about Google Docs or product management systems. And they’re probably our biggest competitors in these tools that can be used to do it, but probably not in the best way. And then people find out about Content Snare and suddenly we get recommended.

But that’s … They’re our biggest channels. I spend a lot of my time on content marketing, so we definitely have a few blog posts that rank well for terms that digital agencies would be searching for.

Phil Singleton: Nice.

James Rose: But there’s not many of those, you know? I’ve spent … Oh, man, I don’t even want to know how much time I’ve spent searching and reverse engineering other websites that target digital agencies to find what they rank for and come up empty-handed. It’s crazy. So yeah, that’s why I said it’s a touchy subject, ’cause I just … It’s all these like small channels. Nothing’s really just gone gangbusters yet.

Phil Singleton: Have you guys ever tried … Like, you mentioned at the beginning … And I’ve never really been … I mean, I’ve actually never been to one single industry event type of thing. So anyone out there … And I know a lot of people go ’cause they end up making … You know, a lot of people … I mean, I’m sure of the States anyway … They’ll go after a certain vertical or whatever and the big part of their business is just going to like, I don’t know … If you’re doing … If you want to do marketing, you want to focus on like dentists. And you go to like a dentists, you know, event or some trade show or something like that. And I just go with them. And that’s great.

But I don’t know. Have you been … I mean, I know you went to some early on. One kind of sparked the fire for you. But have you ever gone to any of them yourself just in general? And have you ever gone to any of them with the purpose of pitching Content Snare?

James Rose: No, not really. So I go to a lot of events, but more like general entrepreneurial stuff. Mostly just to be around other business owners, ’cause it’s like a different head space. But I’ve been to a WordCamp, which is sort of 50-50-

Phil Singleton: Sure.

James Rose: Our target audience. And I’ve looked up a lot of agency conferences. Unfortunately, a lot of the big ones are not in Australia, obviously.

Phil Singleton: Such a roll of the dice, too, ’cause they’re so expensive to-

James Rose: Oh yeah.

Phil Singleton: Travel to and go to and …

James Rose: And it’s a bit hard to justify I feel when, you know, software products might be 30, 50, whatever, a hundred bucks a month. So let’s say your lifetime value is somewhere between, I don’t know, 300 bucks and a thousand dollars. For us, like, it’s … You know, I don’t know if how worthwhile it is to spend all this time, you know, all the money to travel to a conference. To stay there. To … You know, there’s a lot of costs, right? For the ticket-

Phil Singleton: Exactly.

James Rose: And all that sort of stuff. And if you’re only there talking to a few people … If the entire purpose was pitching, which it rarely is, you’d have to convert … You’d have to get a lot of people onboard to make it worthwhile, right?

Phil Singleton: Yeah.

James Rose: Whereas if you were doing.

Phil Singleton: A hundred dollars, sure.

James Rose: Yeah. And you know, if you’re doing dental marketing stuff and you can charge five, 10 grand a month or something, then you’re gonna pay back that much faster by … With just one client. Exactly. Exactly. So that’s why it’s not something I’ve really looked at too much. I’ve looked at sponsoring some events. So far the sponsoring thing hasn’t done real well. I think that’s more of a branding play that you gotta do long term. And if you’ve got lots of money … Like, yeah, that hasn’t really been a big part of our play yet.

Phil Singleton: And then that’s a great time to segue into something that’s actually worked pretty well for me, which is podcasting. Both-

James Rose: Oh, yeah.

Phil Singleton: Having a podcast and being a guest on a podcast, you know.

James Rose: Definitely.

Phil Singleton: Even in front of lots of targeted audiences. Sometimes I guess in maybe small pockets, but you’re still doing it from your home office or your office in Brisbane or in Kansas City or wherever you are. And all of a sudden you’re getting in front of targeted audiences week in and week out.

James Rose: That’s it. And after having you on our podcast last week, I … We sort of talked about this offline and I’m really starting to think about doing that again. ‘Cause that’s how we did that in the beginning. And we got a lot of traction. Well, you know, relatively sort of compared to zero. At the beginning, you know, that was how we started is going on various podcasts. And you can use the people you’ve already spoken to to introduce you to other podcasts, ’cause everyone’s connected. And then suddenly … And as a lot of things that that … A lot of benefits for that where it’s not just getting in front of the audience but the backlinks obviously. So rank better across a lot of-

The Agency Highway Podcast

Phil Singleton: Ding, ding, ding, ding. That’s actually the reason I got started. And I was like, “Holy cow. There’s so many other things that come.” You know, once you start getting clients from it, I was like, “Okay. All in.”

So tell us now about how you’re … You’ve got your own podcast. This is a great time to talk about it. You know, you’re talking about your … I’m gonna butcher it … But it’s Agency … What is it?

James Rose: Agency Highway.

Phil Singleton: Exactly.

James Rose: Yeah, and that’s cool. And it’s brand new, right? Like, well, I think brand new. We’re at about 12 episodes or something. But the reason we started that is people have been telling me to podcast for years. Saying that, “You know, you’ve got the personality for it. It’s be awesome. Blah, blah, blah.” And I never knew what I was gonna podcast about. That’s why I never did it.

But now it seems to make sense, because Content Snare as … We do a lot of content marketing around Content Snare, right? I could have done a podcast under that brand, but the thing is a lot of agencies might not need Content Snare, so they might have an in-house copywriter or whatever that uses their own systems. They know how to provide the content and the right format, whatever.

So they might not benefit unless they need a sort of collaborative tool to work with their clients. Which is, you know, that’s a whole ‘nother topic really. But which is where we’re going to be moving Content Snare. Not moving, but adding features for that kind of workflow as well. But because I feel like a lot of our marketing then is wasted because we’re here getting in front of these agencies that don’t need Snare where if we had another resource or place for agencies to go, it becomes … I don’t know. That’s just more helpful in general.

So it will … I plan on it being a resource website. A bunch of content as well as the podcast. But yeah, that’s what we’re doing now. It’s more just so my marketing isn’t … I don’t know. I can help more people and not waste marketing, really. It makes sense.

Phil Singleton: This is a great, you know, just such a … Every agency owner can relate to some form of pain. I don’t care how big or small the agency is, but there’s always some parts of … ‘Cause you’re dealing with people and people get busy. Especially or obviously … Especially when you’re in smaller companies where people know that the website’s a really important part of it. But they get locked down ’cause they’re actually executing some other owned work, right?

No matter what it is. If it’s a plumber or….layers, all that kind of stuff. So … Your company’s are saying, “Wait, I have some resources in-house. It’s a little easier for them.” But still, coordinating that effort, I can see that as a big challenge. But yeah, I love that. ‘Cause one of the reasons we started the podcast is one, so I can pick the brains of smart people like you and get hacks and ideas and get access to new tools and that kind of stuff. It’s gonna make us more profitable and more scalable.

But it’s also such awesome access. I mean, we try to do some outbound marketing last year and got no one. And then as soon as we, you know, go to an ideal potential client and say, “We want to be on The Local Business Leaders Podcast“, they’re just like, “Yeah”. You know what I mean? ‘Cause they want to be … So same thing I think with you, obviously, right? I mean, you could start interviewing folks and some of them might be either ideal clients or if they’re influencer agencies where people are trying to follow them, at least they’re not gonna use it, then you get to tag their out answer, do all that kind of stuff. So …

James Rose: Yeah, well, it’s definitely a good networking tool for sure. And that was one of the first sort of things I was thinking about. And, you know, if I want to have a partnership with another company, like an influencer agency that you were talking about that’s connected with other agencies, it’s hard to go in and go, “Hey, we’ve got this product. Would you like to try it? Blah, blah, blah”. And it’s all on the take, right? It’s you just trying to take all the value.

But if I can go in and say, “Hey, look. We’ve got this audience and I want to put you in front of them. I come on the podcast, we’ll put you in the Facebook Group. Obviously gets shared everywhere. We can do a guest post if you want. Whatever.” But, you know, lead with all this value and then they go, “Oh, you’ve got this cool product. Like, I think I should share that with my audience.”

Phil Singleton: Awesome. Well, really cool, man. I love all of this kind of stuff. Yeah, we’re kind of … Throw us in that group of folks that like … I have every intention to use Content Snare. We’ve signed up for it. You know, we’re gonna try and obviously use it and give it a try. But it’s funny. It’s one of those things that’s like we’re constantly in … I’m one of these agents … I know a lot of them are like it … But I don’t … You know, we don’t like hire for growth type of thing. We hire after we’ve been doggie paddling so long that we’re drowning.

I don’t know … That’s probably the worst way to do it, but I’m so conservative. ‘Cause I mean there’s so many agencies out there, especially here like here where they basically hire based on feast or famine type of work. And then they go out of business because they had a couple of really good clients an office and hired a bunch of people, and they couldn’t “feed the beast”. And they close like a year or two later. So I’ve always…

James Rose: Yeah, totally.

Phil Singleton: I’ve been doing this … The only way I’ve survived is kind of being … That means a lot of times we’re doggie paddling, you know? We’re, you know, “busy” kind of thing that works. So … The other thing I was wondering … I’ll tell you this about myself, as I’ve got a great, really smart guy in-house that has tried to build something on his own. I think we talked about this before on active campaigns or something.

And I’m thinking like, “Gosh, all a sudden if you’ve got somebody who’s got their own process, and now you’re gonna say, ‘Hey, I got this really cool thing that’s probably gonna be better than what we have'”, do you compete sometimes a little bit with somebody that’s either got their own thing and you’re introducing something new? And I’ve never really had that discussion yet, but I’m just throwing it out there if that happens or how do you get around it. Tips that I can try to get internal buy-in to try and sell it, too, right?

James Rose: Yeah. And I mean, yeah, that’s almost another story than I was going to mention. Because then there’s a person involved, you know, and people tend to enjoy like creating … If they’ve gone and created this awesome process, then they’re not gonna like to have that be taken away or whatever.

Phil Singleton: Even if it is better.

James Rose: Yeah, but I mean, they can always get involved in that new process themselves, right? Like, they could set up … You know, it’s still their little baby … But like I was saying before, it’s … These things are definitely our biggest competition. Things like Google Docs or project management systems like Basecamp or whatever. Like, we have people say, “Oh yeah, I just get them to come into our project management system and do it there.” And I’m like, “And that goes well for you?” And they go, “Oh, no.”

Phil Singleton: But that’s how we do it.

James Rose: Yeah. And like, I’m a big fan of not having clients in project management systems. That’s why I’ve always been a big fan of team work, ’cause it integrates with team work desks so that clients can keep using emails to talk with you. But it comes into your system as … Not into your project management system. I love that. Yeah, so I … And Google Docs, I mean, obviously everyone’s or most people are familiar with that. But it’s got its inherent problems as well. But yeah, these are our competition and some people don’t have the time or want to change. And then other people do change and go, “Oh, man. This was like … I wish I’d done this earlier.” So yeah. I think that answers it.

Phil Singleton: James, look, I really appreciate you having and kind of sharing all this insight and kind of what Content Snare is and how it’s helped and how you got, you know, why you started it and kind of where you guys have … Are today with it. Tell our listeners where they can find you online. At what places you hang out, what opportunities that you have. Content Snare, that’s something people can try out. Is there a trial thing? How does that work? And kind of tell us … Our listeners how to follow you and connect with you.

James Rose: Alright, cool. Well, I guess the best way is probably go to ContentSnare.com. That’s obviously the tool itself. But if you go down to the footer, there’s a bunch of free resources. We’ve got like a Facebook Group for web designers. And agencies, obviously AgencyHighway.com. That’s pre-launch at the moment. But if you to … Just search The Agency Highway Podcast, you’ll find that. If you want to subscribe to that. Me on Twitter is @_jimmyrose. I was really late to that and didn’t get my name or my nickname. But yeah, I think that’s pretty much it.

Phil Singleton: Yeah, your Facebook … You have like thousands of people on that thing.

James Rose: Yeah. 3800 in there. And it’s called Grow Your Web Design Business. Very originally named.

Phil Singleton: So awesome.

James Rose: Yeah. Jump on in and say hi. That’s where I spend most of my time hanging out, for sure.

Phil Singleton: Alright, James. Thanks so much for coming on the show. And we appreciate the time that you spent with us.

James Rose: And thanks for having me, Phil. This has been awesome.

 

Building a Million Dollar Website Business with No Employees

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.

WhatIsMyIPAddress.com Resource Links

Chris Parker Resource Links

 

Meet Chris Parker of WhatIsMyIPAddress.com

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.

Kansas City Advertising Agency Expert

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:

  • Creating and implementing marketing strategy
  • Strategic “New Market Entry” communications
  • Brand strategy
  • TV & Radio Advertising
  • Direct mail campaigns
  • Crises management
  • Social media marketing
  • Reputation management
  • Web design
  • Pay-per-click advertising

Learn More About Dave Wieser

 

Meet Dave Wieser of DW Creative

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.

Bidsketch Proposal Software Founder Ruben Gamez

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.

Learn More about Ruben & Bidsketch

Meet Bidsketch Founder Ruben Gamez

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 …

More About Bidsketch

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.

Ruben’s Favorite Software Tool

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.

Brad Burrow Real Media Kansas City Video Production Services

Lear more about Brad Burrow and Real Media:

Meet Brad Burrow

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.

Real Media’s Stream Stage

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.

Real Talk – The TV Show

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.

How to Use Podcasting as Your Ultimate Sales Trojan Horse

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.

Episode resource links:

 

Meet Stephen Woessner

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.

The Trojan Horse of Sales

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.

Podcast Encore Interview & Following Up

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.

 

 

How To Get Influencers to Say Yes to Your Outreach Pitch

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.

Outreach Fail with Brian Dean

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”:

brian dean outreach

 

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.

Wow.

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.

Outreach Win with Larry Kim

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):

 

influencer marketing

 

Listen to Larry Say Why He Said Yes

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.

Public Relations, Social Media & Local Kansas City Influencers

Episode Resource Links

Meet Jenny Kincaid

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”

HARO, Alex Flash Briefings & Cutting Edge Website Leadgen Technology

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.

Episode resources

 

Meet Mike Kawula

 

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.