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.


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,

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.

How to Use Digital Knowledge Management with Rev Ciancio

David “Rev” Ciancio serves as Director, Industry Insights for Yext, where he works to ensure customer success as they deploy the Yext Knowledge Engine on behalf of their businesses.

Over his 20+ year career, he has managed business development, digital marketing, and social media strategies for a wide range of entertainment and hospitality companies.

When not preaching the gospel of Digital Knowledge Management, you can find this expert burger taster discussing the virtues of what makes a truly great hamburger on his Instagram account, @revciancio and hospitality marketing tips on his blog,

Learn More About Yext & Rev:


Meet Rev Ciancio

Phil Singleton: Hey Rev, welcome to the show.

Rev Ciancio: Phil, it’s a pleasure to be here, I sincerely appreciate the opportunity.

Phil Singleton: We read through your bio here and I want to just take a little bit of time at the beginning to just understand your story, tell us your first steps out of school, out of college, what have you, and what put you on the path to where you are today.

Rev Ciancio: Man, I grew up in Detroit and I desperately wanted to be in the music business, desperately. And I was obsessed with radio and with music and there just wasn’t enough of it happening in Michigan, and it was like, “All right, well, LA or New York?” And it was like, “Well, if somebody’s gonna say, ‘trust me’, I want them to mean it so I guess I’ll go to New York.” And I got a job out here with a very small agency that no longer exists, doing radio promotions so I was calling radio stations around the country and getting them to play heavy metal bands, it was really cool. I moved out here for $17 thousand dollar salary, it was crazy.

Man, misadventures. But anyway, I did that, I was in the music business for about 11 years. I was a serial agency owner, I owned a couple different agencies hopping around. And then one day I was just like, “Man, I hate music. I hate it.” I was like, “I can’t be around it, I can’t do it. I can’t figure out how to make money in it anymore.” This is after downloads and at the time, I’d also opened a bar which is like another college dream is to, “Oh man, we should own a bar, that would be so cool.” Just like, “I should be in the music business, it’s gonna be so cool.” Boy man, the things I thought when I was a kid. Anyway, I went on this-

Phil Singleton: All of us, right?

Rev Ciancio: Yeah, totally. I own this bar and I had started to take some of the skill sets that I had learned running an agency and entertainment business and applying it to the bar and hospitality. And at the time, food bloggers didn’t really exist and influencers weren’t really a thing, social media was really just getting its feet wet, it certainly didn’t have the catchiness that it has now. Facebook timeline was still chronological, right, Instagram didn’t exist. And I was having traction understanding the hospitality universe and running this agency where I was working with artists. And restaurants started to call me and say, “Hey, can you do what you’re doing for your burger blog, for my restaurant?” And I realized, “Oh my god, there’s a crazy opportunity here to take all these things that I learned about brand building and building an audience and the catchiness of that, and apply those entertainment marketing tactics to restaurants. And I just immediately Segwayed my whole car into getting into that.

Much longer story shorter, I ended up working for a ground beef manufacturer for a number of years as the Director of Marketing, where I rolled right up to the CEO and basically I rebranded them from this multiple decade old family brand, to a brand that they were able to actually launch retail product. They saw about a 27% lift in sales the last year I was there, it was pretty cool. One of my main priorities thereafter we did this rebrand and relaunch, their customers were primarily restaurants and one of my primary functions was to provide a marketing consultancy service to their top customers. So, instead of paying an agency or paying a consultant, they could just call me and go, “What’s the best strategy for review and reputation management?” Or, “What kind of growth hack ideas do you have for Instagram?” Or, “How should we think about doing our Facebook targeting ads?”

Rolling Up His Sleeves and Doing Local SEO

I became this jack of all trades in the marketing area because what I would learn from one customer … and they were working with huge national brands and also those SMBs, and I took all of that and learned all of this really important information. And to tie this story together, I was like, “Wow, this could actually be its own business, this hospitality and marketing consultancy thing.”

As a former bar owner, I have had the pain points that their solution solves, so I knew the power of [Yext].

-Rev Ciancio

And you could probably guess what happened, I left, started that agency, and it was primarily like, “I’ll do digital knowledge management for you”, type agency. That’s not how I branded it and that’s not how I would brand it now, but that’s what it was. And I was super successful super quick, and the people at Yext, I was using their software to help my clients. They called me and they were like, “We haven’t had this happen in the history of the company, you seem pretty passionate about this. Would you be interested in hanging up the agency and coming here?” And I jumped at the chance.

I love Yext, I love what they do. As a former bar owner, I have had the pain points that their solution solves, so I knew the power of it. Then ultimately, at the end of the day, what I’m really passionate, other than pizza and rock and roll, is I like helping other businesses. It really does fuel me to get out of bed in the morning and I thought coming here would give me an amazing opportunity to really help all kinds of businesses just be better at what they do.

Phil Singleton: That’s so awesome. Your first trip, your first gig out of Detroit was in New York and you’ve been there ever since, is that right?

Rev Ciancio: It was technically in Jersey, but yes.

Phil Singleton: Okay. Right, right. Close enough. You’re up in the area. That’s really awesome. I really do want to dig in a little bit into your personal experience, and you’re talking about the pain points, what’s going on, what challenges do people have in the hospitality industry and specifically restaurants. But before we get to that, a little more, I guess understanding or description of what Yext does. I’ve been working with Yext for years, a very powerful solution. Although I think I have probably narrow, more practical view of why it’s important to my clients and that is really from a google standpoint, getting the name, address, and phone number lined up across the internet. We all know in digital, this is really important, google ranking signal for trust and a lot of other different reasons, helps with your local rankings. From that perspective, it’s almost a no-brainer and very powerful, but I know it’s evolved and does a lot more than that now.

If you can help our audience understand what we mean by digital knowledge management and all the things that Yext can do beyond just maybe managing and making sure that you have consistency on the major directories across the internet?

What is Digital Knowledge Management?

Rev Ciancio: Sure. Let’s define digital knowledge, that’ll probably help since we’ve already dropped that bomb in here a few times. Digital knowledge is basically, it’s all the public facts about a business, like their name, their address, phone number, but even their hours of operation, their products, their services, if you’re a restaurant, your menu. Basically any information that lives online for a customer to look for and search, right? And therefore, digital knowledge management, then that’s the process by which you’re sourcing and managing all of that digital knowledge to make sure that it’s available for customers in those moments that matter.

So, when you talk about what does Yext do and how does it work, we’re witnessing this major platform shift out there, I’m sure you’re seeing it as well, the rise of these services like Siri, and Alexa, and Google Assistant that are build on AI and information servicing all over the internet. Well, it turns out for 20 years, how did the internet work? You put in a query and you got 10 blue links, organic search. And now what happens is you don’t get 10 blue links, you just get one answer, right? So if I said, “Hey Siri, best burger joint near me.” What’s gonna happen?

Siri: The highest rated one I found is McSandwich, which averages four and a half stars and is moderately priced. Want to try that one?

Rev Ciancio: There’s no web result there, there’s just an answer, right?

…how do any of these services know how to put that answer there? They’re getting it from something called a knowledge graph and the knowledge graph is essentially a brain-like database that all of these things have.

-Rev Ciacio

Phil Singleton: Right.

Rev Ciancio: How does that answer get there? How does Siri, or Google, or Waves, or any of these businesses … how do any of these services know how to put that answer there? They’re getting it from something called a knowledge graph and the knowledge graph is essentially a brain-like database that all of these things have. Whether it’s Yelp, or Facebook, or Siri, or Cortana, or Google Maps, or Apple Maps, the knowledge graph is this brain-like database that lives beneath them. That contains everything that they know about the world, including what they might know about a business. So, they service that answer based on that information.

Now, the difference is you can’t control the AI of the future and you can’t control the UI of the future, but you can control what these services know about your business.

-Rev Ciancio

Now, the difference is you can’t control the AI of the future and you can’t control the UI of the future, but you can control what these services know about your business. And that’s essentially digital knowledge management. We have a central repository, a software system, where you would put as the business owner, that information. Name, address, hours of operation, your menu, your services, your bio, literally anything that people want to know about your business. You put it into Yext, the knowledge engine, and then we power that all over the internet. We’re updating Facebook, Bing, Yellow pages, Google, My Business, and hundreds of other sites on your behalf so that you don’t have to do it. And so that information is perfect, literally everywhere.

Then once you’ve done that, which is sorta like getting off on the first level of the hotel, to get up to the penthouse, we have a whole back level system where you can manage your reputation, you can generate first party reviews, you could sentiment analysis inside of your rues that tells you what the customers actually think about your business. We have a competitive intelligence tool that’ll let you know … and Phil, this is awesome. We launched this tool where you can go in and you could say, “Okay, these are the five businesses that are my competitors.” So if you’re Subway, you’re like, “Oh, it’s gotta be Jersey Mikes and Quiznos.”, and whatever other sandwich brands are in your area.

In 100% of the cases where we’ve had a customer start to use that tool, they’ve never been correct about who their actual competitors are. Because we’re actually mining information, so if you feel like, “I’m going to eat at Five Guys today.” We’re like, “Oh, Phil likes Five Guys, he must like Burger King, and he must like Wendy’s.” If you then the next day search for a salad place, we know that, to Phil, Five Guys and the Salad Place are actually in competition for your business. It’s not that you happen to like burgers, I’m not saying you don’t, I’m just saying we see the truth. And so our information can actually tell a business who their real competitors are and then they can track how they’re performing in search based on their own keywords. See what I’m saying?

Phil Singleton: Yeah.

Rev Ciancio: It gives you this really, really deep level of analytics that lets you think about your marketing.

Phil Singleton: That’s really awesome. The one thing to take it back a step, ’cause some people … you covered a lot of ground, there’s a lot of things that I think I picked up but maybe some people that are just trying to get their head around this a little bit, don’t really understand the fundamentals of how it works. And I’m gonna explain to you how I think it works and

I want you to tell me where I’m wrong.

Rev Ciancio: I love this conversation.

Phil Singleton: I think what ends up happening is, I’ve been in Yext many times and we populate and there’s a lot of rich information you put there, tons of stuff about your business. Like you’re saying, pictures, hours of operation, special offers, all sorts of stuff, that’s richer pretty much than anywhere else you would see maybe in a basic place where you would fill out information about yourself let’s say. But somehow, over the years, you guys have been able to develop relationships and almost direct API access to all the major places around the internet. So the power to me on Yext is, I go in there, literally update my stuff, click a button and update my information in this one place, and all of a sudden in the matter of, I don’t know, an hour, minutes, maybe 24 hours, all this stuff’s pushed out to the rest of the internet, and boom, everything’s really consistent. Now, is that true or false? Tell me that part where I got wrong or how even it works.

Rev Ciancio: Yeah, that’s absolutely true. We have a really rich set of APIs and robust workflows that connect into those systems. So, Apple Maps, Google, Bing, Yahoo, whatever, we have a direct connection, they open up their back door, we stick whatever our plug is in the back, and then we can update almost in real time in most places. So yeah, you definitely have that direct control.

Phil Singleton: And that’s really, I think one of the powers what you guys have in the back ’cause that’s what I think makes Yext unique in a lot of ways is you can’t go out and find another company really like Yext that has this ability to have this instant access into this many influential places where they can directly connect and update information like that. That’s really, really powerful.

Rev Ciancio: Yeah. I believe in technical terms, that’s called a patent. But yes.

Phil Singleton: I mean, that really … and that’s one of the reasons, I don’t think people really realize or you talk about Yext, I think it’s just part of digital marketing now, it’s become a standard. I’ve told you, brought it up in conversations before, in our business it’s essentially a mandatory requirement ’cause it’s so important that people have this around the business. But it’s funny because Yext has been around a while in digital and it’s grown really fast and now it’s one of the true success stories in SaaS digital marketing place, you guys went public a year or two ago. It’s like a billion dollar company now? How many hundreds of employees? 500 employees or something like that.

Rev Ciancio: Definitely north of that.

Phil Singleton: And a true, true success story and I think a lot of that’s built on how powerful and how much value it brings to businesses, all businesses really. Talk about big businesses, I think need this. Small businesses especially need it. But the company’s a true, true success story. Let’s dig into a little bit about your personal experience and where you think … you’re in the hospitality and it’s like you were talking about the pain points, what opportunities and what things people are still missing today in that space because it seems like it’s almost hit or miss. You see some people in the hospitality, especially restaurants that are really nailing it, but there’s a ton of them that seem like they’re almost not doing anything. Can you speak to some of that? And what some of the things that you see and how a solution like Yext can help solve some of those problems pretty quickly?

Rev Ciancio: Sure. I’m gonna give you that through a story. Anybody that follows me on Instagram knows that I’m a bit of a food influencer and so I have a couple thousand followers or whatever. Restaurants and agencies will reach out to me and say, “Hey, will you come in to our other restaurant, take photos of the food we’re serving, share it with your audience?”, in hopes that the people that follow me are gonna take the recommendation that, “Hey, you saw this pizza from East Village Pizza that I posted last night, which by the way was awesome.” And then you’re gonna go to East Village Pizza and eat it, right? That’s the idea.

Well, I went to this event one night and there was 15 influencers there and it was a high end place, and they come out with 10 courses, top shelf liquor, it was amazing. And I’m doing the math and I’m like, “This is $150 bucks a person.” So multiply that, “That’s $3000 dollars they’re spending.” Plus the agency’s there, they spent all this money in hopes that we’re gonna attract these customers for them. I reached in my pocket, I pull out the Yext app, I do a location scan, their information is 94% in accurate, which means all that digital knowledge, like name, address, phone number isn’t correct everywhere on the web. In fact, it’s in correct.

I go over the publicist and I was like, “Hey, pull out your phone. I want you to open up a browser and search, ‘cocktail bar near me’.” Now, what you need to know is that for the last 10 minutes, they’ve had their mixologist present to us how important their cocktail program is, and just the Gideon’s Bible of Drinks. I’m like, “I get it, I get it. You’re a cocktail bar.” So she pulls it out and she goes, “Cocktail bar near me.” Now, Google knows where she is, they know she’s by this bar and guess what doesn’t come up in the three pack? That bar. So we click to expand-

Phil Singleton: Right in the bullseye, like swimming in it?

Rev Ciancio: Yeah. It’s like literally you can tell where we are, “Google, come on. We were leading you to the answer.” Anyway, she doesn’t get that answer, we remove the top three, we look at the top 20, it’s not in the top 20, we remove the 4.0 rating, it’s not even unrated. Literally, if you don’t search for that restaurant by its name, you’re not gonna go there. So, what do we call that? That’s a leaky budget because here they’re spending $3000 or $4000 dollars. Now, what if you see this beautiful branzino that I post a picture of and you’re like, “Oh, cocktail bar with branzino, open for happy hour in Tribeca.” And you do a real life search, and you don’t get that place, what was the point of all that effort? What was the point of all that money, right?

Phil Singleton: Totally.

Do you know what the half-life of a tweet is?  It’s about five minutes. And the shelf life of a Facebook post is reported to be about five hours.

-Rev Ciancio

Rev Ciancio: To me, that’s what DKM is and that’s the problem that Yext solves. So I looked at her, and this is the funny joke, I was like, “You know it would cost you about $50 bucks a month to fix that.” Meanwhile you’re spending $3000 dollars to put branzino in our face. I mean, that’s what Yext does. It’s a background or a foundation to your marketing and look, I’m sure most of the people that are listening to this podcast are doing some level of social media. Do you know what the half-life of a tweet is?

Phil Singleton: Seconds? I don’t know. Minutes?

Rev Ciancio: It’s about five minutes. And the shelf life of a Facebook post is reported to be about five hours. So if you’re out there doing social media marketing for your business and you spent all this time, you have a photo shoot, and you have a link, and an ad, and I don’t know, whatever you’re doing for your business to promote it online. And you’ve put all this effort into it and then somebody goes to search it and they can’t find it, was that worth it?

Phil Singleton: It’s totally. I mean, I talk about this everyday to folks and I think some people think in this inbound world that we live in, they’ll preach and they’ll say, “Hey, some of this event marketing, trade shows, traditional media, radio, advertising, none of that stuff works. You should be doing all digital.” I don’t think that’s the case at all. I mean, I think stuff works really well and probably as good as it ever has. The problem is if you go out and create the demand, everybody comes back to the internet. So if you don’t have your ducks in a row in order to capture your own demand, it goes to the other cocktail bar you were just talking about, right?

Rev Ciancio: Yeah. Phil, I mean look, I am clearly a food influencer and half the text messages I get in the day are, “Hey, where should I go eat for burgers?” I’m almost my own search engine, but if somebody recommends something to me, I still go look it up myself.

Phil Singleton: Exactly.

Rev Ciancio: I still search it.

Phil Singleton: I don’t think anybody … I mean, the old days, any type of reference … I mean, referral marketing has changed. I think even to some extent, some influencer marketing has changed ’cause some people probably are a little bit skeptical and it’s like, “Okay. Rev said this but who knows if he’s getting paid or not. I believe he’s telling us the truth or whatever, but I’m still gonna look it up online, see what everybody else is saying.” It used to be in the old days, it’s like, I’d ask for my house, first time I bought a house or whatever, I asked my dad, “Who should I get for this or that?” And I would just do it. Or the pediatrician says, “Go to this place for your … go to this specialist for your doctor.” You would just do it. Not anymore. No matter what anybody says, everybody’s doing their own research and if you can’t find it, or if you don’t like their website, or if their reviews suck, you’re going somewhere else ’cause the power is in the searcher now. I mean, that’s-

Rev Ciancio: But let’s take that one step more, right? If we’re talking about a B to B model, we’re in the middle of the funnel. Even if we’re talking about going to get pizza, we’re in the middle of the funnel, we haven’t made the decision. Once you make the decision, the only way you’re gonna have confidence then is, “Well okay, you told me to go to this pizza place, now I’m gonna go.” But I might get in my car and I need directions, where does that information come from? Or I might need to call to make a reservation, how do I get that information? Even after you’ve made the decision, “Yes, I want to go to that business.” I still need digital knowledge, I still need the hours of operation, I still need the phone number, I still need directions.
You know?

Phil Singleton: Exactly. Tell me a little bit about … I know some of the things on your list here that we were talking about before is reputation management. How does the Yext solution fit into the reputation management strategy for business?

Rev Ciancio: Let’s talk about the importance of reputation management first, I think that’ll help answer the question. We’ll look at it just from a Google perspective, so in 2016 Google came out and said, “Okay, we’re gonna add a third factor into how we determine what answers come up in the map pack.” It used to just be distance and relevance, they added this third thing called-

Rev Ciancio: The map pack. It used to just be like distance relevance. They added this third thing called prominence. Okay? And prominence is basically your public reputation. What Google is saying there, is they are literally ranking businesses against each other for search results based on recent positive ratings and reviews. So, if you’re not managing your positive ratings or reviews, you’re risking not even coming up in search at, right? So, there’s that. Besides that, not only is there the SEO benefit to having good ratings or reviews, it informs customer decision. Like we just said, if you said, “Rev, you got to try this pizza joint,” and I go look up their ratings or reviews and everybody’s talking about how good the pizza is, that’s helped making my decision, right? That moves me down the funnel.

Thirdly, the other reason why reviews are important is they can also inform a business. If you’re like, “What’s the next thing I should do with my business?” Your customers might already be telling you. Just go read your reviews. The reviews have like a three-pronged approach in terms of why they’re important. But from my Yext perspective, what can you do to manage that? We have a fully baked dashboard that’s pulling in the reviews from all of those sites that we work with. TripAdvisor, Yelp, Foursquare, Facebook, I don’t even remember them all. But they’re all in there. And then you can go in there and you can read them, you can respond to them, you can generate first party reviews, which are reviews that live on your website. So you can have your own review platform. You can look at them by star rating, you can look at them by location, you can look at them by sentiment.

And so, not only do you have the ability to manage them in Yext, but you have the ability to analyze them and come up with strategies that can help improve your business. And then, I’m sure you’ve seen this stat floating around on the internet. But every star rating increase that a business sees is worth approximately 5 to 9% in business. So, pretty valuable.

Phil Singleton: Yeah, I couldn’t agree more. To me, the holy grail of at least local is you’re showing up on search and you’ve got the social proof via reviews. And once you have those two things, man the phone usually ends up ringing like it never has before. So, preaching to the choir there. That’s the one thing.

The thing is, with reviews, which is … I think, and I’d like to hear your opinion on this. I look at it and I think, “Man, reviews are really actually pretty rare.” Because if you look at it a business that ends up getting them, you see a bit local business that has 100 or 200 or even 500 reviews, or a restaurant that’s got a lot of them. It’s still only like a tiny fraction of the actual transactions or clients that they’ve had over a period, right?

Rev Ciancio: Oh, truly.

Phil Singleton: So, having some type of way where you’re easily found, or some type of a system where you can actually collect them or something. [inaudible 00:23:38] well like they incentivize people that are going to be jealous have to be proactive. Because to me, the whole systems really kind of geared for negative reviews in some ways. People aren’t really incentivized to leave positive reviews unless that’s their thing. But if they’re ticked off, they’re going to have all sorts of incentive right to bash stuff. So, I think reviews are really rare, but the fact that they’re so rare makes them so valuable.

It’s really funny. It’s like in our own businesses, we don’t go out, I think enough to say we really need to be doing this and committing to this and committing to our local online presence, this kind of stuff. Yet, it’s like a Jekyll and Hyde thing, right? When we go out and buy stuff on Amazon or we go look for a new hospital, a place to eat or something, we’re look at reviews. That’s all we do, all of us, right? So, give us some ways that you can motivate a small business owner and the things that they could do maybe on a budget, big bang for the buck to kind of help them either take the first steps forward or solve some of these problems?

Rev Ciancio: Sure. You’re definitely right. The majority of people that would be willing to leave a review for business don’t, and that’s because businesses aren’t either asking for them or giving a signal. Look, are you a parent?

Phil Singleton: Yes.

Rev Ciancio: So, I have a two-year-old, right? I look at it the same way. My kid is not going to say thanks to his mom every time she does something nice, but if I go, “Jack, why do you say thank you to mommy?” He’ll say it. You know what I mean? It’s not any different doing reviews for your business. But some ways that you can sort of get more reviews out of your customers is A, you can ask. There are some rules and regulations around that. Google and Yelp have some governance around how you can ask.

But some ways that you can ask is, if you’re a business owner and you’re responding to reviews, that’s part of what you do, and you’re responding, positive, negative, doesn’t matter. As another customer, if I see that somebody in the business is responding, I’m more likely to leave a review. There’s a stat out there and I don’t remember when it is. But people who see that the businesses responding are more likely, because A, they want to re-responded to because it feels good, right? But also, they know it shows a signal that somebody in the business really cares. That’s number one. That’s for me, ground level.

But some other ways you can do it, you can take your social media ID. You can say on Facebook, like, “Hey, people love us on Yelp. Here’s our Yelp link.” Or, you could write a blog post on your business, like, “Hey, we really value reviews and this is what reviews mean to us.” And so, you’re not saying give me a review, you’re just sending a signal to your customers that, “Hey, I care about reviews and these are the sites I care about.” Or, you could do something as simple as, Phil comes into my pizza shop and says, “Man, this is the best darn Stromboli I ever ate. I wish I could have when every morning underneath my pillow when I wake up.” I can take that review and share it to a different format and go, “Hey, check out what Phil says about our Stromboli.”

So, there are ways to tell your customers that reviews are important to you without having to ask for them.

Phil Singleton: Awesome. Before I ask … Bringing back the comic, I’m going to ask you something about another passion of yours, which is To me, I don’t know how much you guys can get into this or talk to about it, but I think it’s clear to me that when somebody uses Yext and goes into their panel and really thoughtfully fills out all the information to the fullest, to the extent and makes it as accurate as possible, that there does almost always seem to be some local ranking or local visibility effect.

I don’t know how much you can speak to that or if there’s any type of stats that you have on it. But to me, it’s pretty clear. I don’t have like a budget where I can go and say, “I applied Yext to 100 different companies in the average local visibility ranking or local rankings went up X percent,” type of thing. And you guys, I don’t know what you can speak to, but I’d love to hear any comments you have on it. Because I think it’s pretty clear that when people set it up and set it up right, that they almost always get some type of local ranking benefit. Is that something you can talk to or not?

Rev Ciancio: Sure. So, there’s no average number or no guaranteed result. Because it’s all different, right?

Phil Singleton: Right.

Rev Ciancio: Here’s the thing. In New York City, we’re I’m 23rd Madison. There are no joke, I’d have to count 15 restaurants alone just on our block. If you’re trying to score for best lunch and you’re using Yext, it’s going to be harder just because of the competition. Whereas, if you’re the pizza joint around the corner from my house, it is the only restaurant on that street, it’s going to be much easier.

So, we can’t guarantee a result because it’s a situational to that business. But there is without a doubt an SEO benefit to managing your DKM. It’s why we built this. Is we knew, hey, restaurants don’t know how to do this, or any business really doesn’t know how to do this. And there’s no tool exists that puts them in control of that information. And ultimately, what it comes down to is Google specifically and all the other intelligence services. They’re looking for a confidence signal. So, if I go in there and go, “Best pizza, Rutherford, New Jersey.” If Mr. Bruno’s, which is the best pizza in Rutherford, New Jersey, if they don’t have their information everywhere, it doesn’t give Google a confidence signal.

So, Google looks at Yelp and it looks at Bing and Yellow Pages and your website. And the Hours of operation are different on Mr. Bruno’s. And then they go look at Angelo’s Pizza. And Angelo’s Pizza has the same information everywhere. Well, which one is Google going to trust, right? Well, information looks correct everywhere on this one. That’s the answer I’m going to give to my customers. And then what happens over time, and this you can actually track inside of Yext is how strong is that signal of confidence? The more times that Google gets an answer that is pleasing to the person who’s searching the query, the more times it’s going to surface that answer. So, you build signal strength overtime. One of the ways that you can do that as with Yext.

Phil Singleton: That’s so awesome. One of the things I’ve noticed too, and again, I don’t know if you can speak to this or not, but I noticed last year that when you go into the Yext panel, and you fill out the complete form, and you actually offer a special offer promotion link and a separate link under your website, and about 30% of the listings up in there in the power listings pack, you end up getting something really special that you don’t get if you don’t use it. That is an actual standard link versus a no follow link.

So, I thought that it for my … I don’t know if that’s changed, by I do see this quite a bit where on some of the directories you get listed on, I don’t know if this is because you guys have some special API access, and you be able to put more rich data in and that’s something that doesn’t come with like a paid listing, whatever. But for sure, I’ve noticed that. Because I would tell all our clients to do this, when you go in, make sure that we fill in, have some kind of a special offer, because it seems like you get a little extra benefit from some of these sites when you have it. Any comments on that, or is that just kind of one of these little SEO hacks I think that I found?

Rev Ciancio: I don’t know that there’s aggregated data to give you what that looks like over a series of time or businesses. But I’m going to come at it a different direction. If you have a tool and we give you access to update it, you should update it, because there’s a reason why that publisher has it, right? Google doesn’t have the featured message that I think you’re talking about, but Yahoo does. And Yahoo has users and people use Yahoo. And so, if I look up on a business-

Phil Singleton: And Google crawls Yahoo.

Rev Ciancio: Yeah, exactly. If I go to Yahoo to find the tacos I want for dinner, and I see, “Hey, make sure you try our new Teresa Potato egg breakfast taco.” Well, you had my attention, because I was looking you up anyway. You might as well promote to me while you have my attention. By the way, I would totally go for Teresa egg taco, but that’s a whole other story. But yeah, there’s definitely a benefit to that.

Phil Singleton: Awesome. Let’s bring it back. Because I could literally talk to you all day on this kind of stuff. Talking shop, talking about how important it is.

Rev Ciancio: Me too.

Phil Singleton: I still think at the end of the day, it seems like it’s one of these things where it’s out there and people know about it. But at the end of the day, so many businesses I think, still need help. So many businesses don’t … As many customers as Yext, it’s really probably only a small percentage of the total small businesses in the country, right? Which tells me that there’s so many businesses out there that need help and aren’t even doing the basics. We see them every single day. They come into our small agency here in Kansas City. They’re not even doing the basic stuff. They come in and even on their website, they still have the page titles like home, right? Some of them maybe don’t even have websites still. So, it’s pretty funny.

So, a huge opportunity here. People just come in. And Yext is one of those, really for the agency side, it’s one of those very awesome high value for the cost. Almost, I would say, puts it almost kind of in the quick win category. So, if you’re looking for a hack or a tip where you could go out and actually get something directly, any small business can go in and sign up for one of your packages. It’s really easy to log in and fill in your information. You can immediately solve tons of problems in a short period of time. So, if you’re looking for a special kind of a hack today, that’s it, man. Go to Yext and sign up for it because we couldn’t recommend it any more highly than we do. Like I said, [inaudible 00:32:55] get the top is it’s basically a mandatory third-party service that we put on all new clients that come in.

Rev Ciancio: Let me tell two stories here that I think will frame this up in a similar fashion. I left that well-paying job with the Ground B manufacturer to go start my consultancy, to basically, I’ll do Yext for you as the agency. I went in there with no customers, no leads, nothing. And I was building about 22 grand a month in 90 days. Why? Because I knew how powerful this was, and I knew what it could do. Ans a small business, they don’t have the time to think about this stuff. They don’t have the time to learn what you and I know. They are out there, whether they’re a retail shop, or it’s an attorney or a plumber or a pizza shop or an automotive place, whatever, they’re doing what they do. They’re bringing their trade or they’re bringing their service or they’re bringing their product, and they’re selling it to customers.

They don’t have the time. They’re too busy worrying about the actual business to do this stuff. And I was like, “Oh, I could figure this out real quick. I’m good at this.” As an agency, I was super successful because it’s solved real problems, it was easy for me to manage, and I could strategize on it and then serve a consultancy fee, right? But here’s where this comes from. Why did I know all that? Where did I learn all of that? I used to own a bar. I remember being on Avenue B between second and third, and thinking, “Holy smite, there are six other bars on this street, just on the street. Never mind there’s 25,000 bar licenses in New York City. How do I get customers here? I’m just on this street.” I was like, “Well, we may not be the most creative people, we may not have a famous chef, we might not have the best service, we might not have the cleanest floors, we might not have all these other things.” But I was like, “But we are better marketers. And we are smarter than all these people.”

Honest to God, Phil, we won at two things. We won at SEO and we won at ratings and reviews. We crushed it. We were like top 10 most checked in bar in New York City for like three years running on Foursquare.

Phil Singleton: That’s awesome.

Rev Ciancio: Because we were all agency guys that bought a bar.

Phil Singleton: You knew it. You put the effort in, right? Some of this stuff, if you just have the discipline to do it, it’s surprising how it can rack up, right? I think a lot of people still just kind of leave it and they just don’t do it. They don’t make it part of the routine. But you did it, right? And it paid off big time.

Rev Ciancio: Yeah. Well, here’s the thing. But at the time, there was no Yext, right? I literally had to go to Yahoo and make an update. And then I had to go to Google and make an update. And then we would add something to our menu, and I’d have to go update our website. And then I’d have to go update Foursquare. And then I have to update Yelp. It would take-

Phil Singleton: No wonder. When you saw Yext, you were probably, “Oh my gosh. Here it is.”

Rev Ciancio: Yeah. It was like all I had to do is push a button.

Phil Singleton: Where were you?

Rev Ciancio: I think how much time I would have saved, and we probably would have had even better efforts than we gotten had I had something like this. So, I wouldn’t be here, I wouldn’t have born that agency, I wouldn’t be having this conversation had I not been a small business owner and I know the power of this. Because I had the hardest at a manual level.

Phil Singleton: Got you. That makes perfect sense why you’re so passionate about it. That’s where the fire comes from. You’re literally doing it yourself, but you also saw the power of what all that hard work does and now it’s like, dude, we’ve got this packaged up in a pretty affordable thing that’s accessible I think any business pretty much. It’s like people just knew about it.

I think it’s one of the problem with small businesses too, is they get pitched so many services, so much SEO snake oil. Buy this, they try stuff and it doesn’t work. They don’t always know which ones. Yeah, but this is one of those ones that just basically works for everybody. It’s so cost effective for the amount of value that it brings for a business. This is just kind of one of those no brainer things. But at the end of the day, like you said, guys are doing this. You look at the SAS chart from the martech collages they have, I’m sure Yext is in there. If you look at that thing that’s on a PowerPoint slide, there’s like 5000 logos on it now. If you look, that thing is passed around on LinkedIn, people just don’t know.

But that’s what I’m saying. That at this point, even as famous as Yext is in the space, like basically the unicorn, the category killer, still there’s not enough people that use it, I don’t think. If they did, like I said, this is kind of one of those no brainer kind of foundational fundamental marketing pieces that I think everybody should have, because it brings a massive amount of value for the cost.

We’re going to put all these links and stuff at the show here. I do want to ask you at the very end here now that we’re here. If I were to go to New York for a while … And it’s been a long time, I actually went to school in Connecticut Fairfield University. And I went to the city all the time, but this is going back like 20 years ago, more than 20 years ago. Tell me, if I was going to New York tomorrow for three days if was going to eat a burger a day, the places I have to go.

Rev Ciancio: Oh, man. Well, I’m glad you-

Phil Singleton: I’m putting you on the spot. It has to be. I know your mind is going crazy right now. But you have to pick three now.

Rev Ciancio: I’m just glad you didn’t say, “What’s your favorite burger?” Because I literally don’t have an answer for that question. I like all burgers, and they probably change on a weekly basis. I’ll tell you the burger I probably eat the most is a place called Schnippers. They have four or five locations here in the city. Now, I do love Schnippers, let’s not mistake that. They also have a location in the same building as Yext. So, the frequency is high because the proximity. So, best burger in near me, if we were doing a search would be Schnippers. If we were asking the Rev search engine, I really do like the Schnippers.

There’s another place here called Andrew’s Classic Roadside Hamburgers. He’s had a change of name a couple of times. It’s also been Hardtime Sundays. But it’s literally a stand in a food court just north of Grand Central. I love what he does. It’s awesome.

Phil Singleton: That sounds awesome.

Rev Ciancio: He’s taken like three rounds of patties, he’s smashing them on a season grill, serving him with some onions that have a special sauce he cooks the in.
Martin’s Potato Roll Cheese. That’s a super old school. It’s the way it should be. I do really really love those burgers. And then you know what? Honestly, the last answer probably changes on a weekly basis.

Phil Singleton: What’s this week? Tell me.

Rev Ciancio: There’s a place called San Matteo Pizzeria e Cucina. I need to back the story a little bit. It is one of my two favorite pizzas in New York City. I can’t get enough of it. And there’s certainly a lot of pizza.

Phil Singleton: A lot of pizza man.

Rev Ciancio: There’s certainly a lot of pizza here. But the pizza there’s phenomenal. It’s without a doubt, it’s my favorite pasta in New York City. The two reasons I go there primarily are pizza and pasta. One night, I’m in there, and Fabio, the owner and chef, he’s like, and has this thick Italian accent, “You know, we have burger.” I’m like, “Well, okay, I want to eat it.” He made it for me, and it was unbelievable.

Phil Singleton: You were like, “What?”

Rev Ciancio: Yeah. He’s using Piedmontese beef, which is the Italian style beef. Go look it up. It’s a really high-end animal. He’s using the special cheese, and he’s using special onions, and there’s really nothing like it. But it’s somewhere between a steakhouse burger and a really high-end chef gourmet burger.

Phil Singleton: Awesome. All right, let’s wrap this up and tell us best way to follow you, where we can find more information, about Yext. I also want to put the show link in for the … You guys have an awesome app that you mentioned. It’s probably more for agencies. But the location scanner, which I obviously have on my app right here, right now, where we can go get that. And in fact, give it to me after show, I will make sure that we got a link as long as it’s still available and still free.

Rev Ciancio: Oh, yeah. No, it’s definitely free and definitely available and it’s awesome. Just to tie that together for people that are listening, if you download the app, you can put your business in it, and it will tell you how inaccurate or accurate your listings are. But you can also put any business you want. So, your competitors, your best friends, whatever the business you happen to like. It also has a location scan. I should say that a different way. If you walk into a business, it knows where you are, and you could just pull it up from a list. You don’t have to type in any information. So, you want to check places on the go, I’m a nerd like that, I do, you could just open it up and pull and see how those businesses are doing.

Phil Singleton: So, we’ll say immediately your shortcomings are your own business. But that’s kind of cool. I hadn’t really ever used it for competitors. But that’s a great thing. It’s not just for agencies, it can be for anybody. That’s great.

Rev Ciancio: Well, if you’re an agency and your prospecting, it’s a great way to prospect.

Phil Singleton: Yeah.

Rev Ciancio: Hey, Mr. business owner, look what I just saw. Information.

Phil Singleton: Exactly.

Rev Ciancio: But, yeah. You download that, it’s in Google Play, it’s definitely an iPhone as well.

Phil Singleton: Awesome.

Rev Ciancio: The best place to find out more about Yext is just, If you want to ask me a question, I throw my email out there all the time. I really don’t care. I love talking to people. It’s, You can email me anything, I’m happy to answer questions. And then if you just want to consume gratuitous amounts of food porn, follow me on Instagram, it’s my screen name I’m @revciancio, but I’m also that screen name on everything. So, you go to Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook.

Phil Singleton: You get I was looking at the site, are most of those pictures your own pictures or they’re just a bunch of stuff?

Rev Ciancio: No, they’re not. It’s almost all entirely mine.

Phil Singleton: Pictures, or are they just a bunch of stuff?

Rev Ciancio: No, it’s almost all entirely mine.

Phil Singleton: That’s awesome. There’s some really cool pictures on there.

Rev Ciancio: Yeah, and then it’s sort the difference between my Instagram account and anybody else’s. If you just look at it, yeah, it’s burgers, pizza, steak, you know French fries, chicken sandwiches, but typically a couple times a week, I don’t just write, “Hey, go eat this burger. It was good.” I write marketing tips. So it might be like, “Hey, here’s what you need to think about if you want to be voice search ready.” Then it’s underneath a picture of pizza with pepperoni sliding off the sides.

Phil Singleton: Awesome. And those pictures on your site, it that just off a camera, or are you taking a big camera around your neck you’re taking out?

Rev Ciancio: No. It’s an iPhone. I will not upgrade to a DSLR. It’s not that I don’t love them, I’m just not a photographer, I don’t want to be a photographer.

Phil Singleton: Well, they look pretty awesome.

Rev Ciancio: I’m happy to do it on my phone.

Phil Singleton: All right, Rev. You’re the man. Really enjoyed talking with you. And hope to have you back. Because it feels like when you start to open things up, and there’s so many different things we could talk about, but this was a great episode with tons of knowledge bombs, and I’m sure our listeners are going to really enjoy this one. So thanks for coming on today.

Rev Ciancio: I appreciate. I know this almost became like a Yext commercial. And I hate that if somebody walked away thinking that. I truly am passionate about this solution. It really does what it’s doing. And for you and I to sit and talk about this, to me it’s no different than me and my best friend talking about our favorite movie.

Phil Singleton: Again if it weren’t, like I say, it’s basically a mandatory service. It’s so important that I think all businesses do this, and i hate, I don’t want to make this sound bad, but you guys essentially have cornered the market. You’re a category killer. You’re essentially almost a monopoly in this space, so that, I guess, has some good connotations and bad connotations. But, so does Google. So it’s just one of those things I think people need. If there’s something that’s that good, and it’s like that because you guys have set it up the right way and added that much value. I wouldn’t make it like an advertisement unless I truly thought, and there’s few tools out there that provide a monster amount of value for what you pay for them.

There’s other ones that you pay a lot for, and they don’t either do enough, or you under utilize them, or they give you a lot of information you don’t use. But this one truly is one of those things that you pay for and you don’t have to pay a lot and you get a ton of value off of it. So that why I don’t mind really highly recommending it. Because nobody’s going to go out there and buy this and then regret using it or not use it or not get some kind of benefit out of it. I’m not an affiliate marketer for you guys, or any other type of benefit other than they do this because it adds a tremendous amount of value.

I think the real hack there is, I mean there’s a lot of agencies out there that probably use Yext and either upsell it or upcharge it or do that kind of stuff, which is a normal thing for people to do, but any business owner that’s listening to this, you can go out there and buy this directly and manage it yourself. I mean, that’s where the knowledge piece of this is, is you can go sign up, and it’s really easy I think for anybody to go and pay for it. For me, I think of things that we do, I think it’s within just about anybody’s capability to sign up for this and actually fill up the information, as long as their going to take the initiative to maybe upload and take a couple pictures and figure out where their logo and stuff is. It’s not like you need coding knowledge to fill it out. You just need to be able to commit and put the time. In. It’s pretty easy. And maybe you and I are too far up and we think, but I think it’s really easy and anybody can use this.

Rev Ciancio: Yeah, I mean, I played with Legos a lot as a kid, and the more I played with them, it felt like the harder it got to use them. And I couldn’t do it without an instruction manual, but this is like Duplo blocks, man. You just open it up, fill in information. It’s super easy.

Phil Singleton: Fill interesting blanks. I mean it’s like anything. Awesome really great stuff, and thanks for kind of pulling the curtains behind it a little bit and telling us how it works and why it’s so important. We all know voice is all coming up so the extent that you can get in early and maybe build up a lead, because you’re doing this stuff, more power to you. So thanks again, Rev.

…if you’re a business owner that’s super focused on actually running your business, and you know you need marketing and you have a budget, get an agency.

-Rev Ciacio

Rev Ciancio: Yeah, here’s the last piece of advice I give if basically you just listen to this commercial for Yext and you’re considering it, here’s how I would look at it. If you’re a small business and you have a passion for marketing, or you have time in your day for marketing and you think you can manage this on your own because you’re managing other things. Yeah, sign up, get in there, do it. But if you’re a business owner that’s super focused on actually running your business, and you know you need marketing and you have a budget, get an agency. Because you probably need more than just this. You probably also need content or social or PPC, or Facebook ads. And let an agency mange this for you, and let it be part of your overall solution that you’re hiring them for. So call that agency and go, “Hey, do you have Yext? No? Get it, or I’m going to another agency.”

Phil Singleton: We’ll take the agency commercial. All right, man. Thanks a lot, Rev.

Rev Ciancio: Thank you.

Using Print Media To Build Trust, Authority & Personal Branding with Katie Bean

Katie Bean is President and Editor of Thinking Bigger Business Media, a resource for Kansas City small business owners. Her background is in the newspaper journalism industry, which she supplemented with an MBA from UMKC in 2017. She loves to learn about businesses, and help connect business owners with people and strategies that they the need to grow.

Learn more about Katie Bean:


Meet Katie Bean

Phil Singleton:  Oh, this is going to be really awesome. First of all before we even get started, because I want to hear a little bit about your background, and kind of what you first started to do out of school, and what brought you to your current position with Thinking Bigger Business Media, but before we do that, I mean, just a special note to folks that … we have listeners kind of all over the place, but a lot of them are in Kansas City … people are going to be familiar with the magazine Thinking Bigger Business. I actually just got the newest, latest issue in my mailbox today. It’s sitting right in front of me, but certainly this has been a fixture in the Kansas City business area for years. I’ve been able to contribute to it a few times in the past with articles, and we’ve had lots of clients we referred to, and everybody’s had great things to say.

You guys, I know, do a lot more than just the magazine, and we’re going to get into all those other types of services that you guys do and how you help local business owners in the area. But first, I’d like to hear a little bit more about Katie and what your journey was that got you here today.

Katie Bean:  Sure. Well, I would say my journey started with a focus on journalism back in eighth grade when one of my friends told me, “I’m going to be on the high school newspaper next year.” I was like, I want to be on the high school newspaper, so I went through Journalism 101, got on the high school newspaper, worked from a reporter to a copy editor to editor-in-chief of the high school newspaper, and just have continued that focus on journalism in my career. I chose to go to KU, which has an excellent journalism school, and especially for me, who I really love copy editing, so they have a very strong program there. I learned all about fact checking, and you know, all those tips and tricks that lay people might consider stalking, but journalists consider a part of their job. I went to KU, and then when I got out, a lot of my professional connections were in this area, even though I grew up in Texas.

My first job was at a weekly newspaper called the Lansing Current in Lansing, Kansas, outside of Leavenworth. I was a reporter there, did a little bit of copy editing. From there I went to the Lawrence Journal-World, and was there for probably seven or eight years doing copy editing, moved up to assistant features editor toward the end, and at the end of my tenure there I had a friend who was working at the Kansas City Business Journal. I had worked with her at the Lawrence Journal-World. She said, “Hey, I got a new job. Do you want this job at the Business Journal?” I also had another friend working at the Business Journal who, same day, contacted me, and she was like, “Katie, you need to apply for this job.” I did, and it was great there working at the Business Journal.

When I first started working there, I had enjoyed working in community journalism because it’s very important. I think it’s important to know what’s going on in your community. A city like Lawrence, a lot of things revolved around KU, the university, and then you also need to know what City Commission is doing. How else are you going to find that out unless you attend every City Commission meeting or are somehow very plugged in? So I thought community journalism is what people need to know, but every time I would go and talk to people and say, “Oh, did you read about such and such that happened? It was in the Journal-World.” People would all the time be like, “No, I don’t read that.” What? Where do you get your news?

..if I say why do you do this, no one says, oh, I’m just in it for the money. No one’s ever said that.

– Katie Bean, Thinking Bigger Business Media

As soon as I moved to the Business Journal, which at first I thought, well, you know, business journalism might be a little bit boring, you know, just writing about earnings and how much money businesses make. I don’t know if it’s as important as what I was doing before, but the hours are better and I get Christmas off, so we’ll see how it goes. I found out when I started working at the Business Journal that it’s really the same. We’re telling people stories, and especially talking to business people in Kansas City, they love what they’re doing and no one has ever once told me when I’m talking to them or interviewing them for a story, if I say why do you do this, no one says, oh, I’m just in it for the money. No one’s ever said that.

They all have greater goals of job creation, or creating something lasting for their family, being able to give back to the community, whether they do that just by the services that their businesses offer or a lot of times businesses have philanthropic goals, too, and programs that they use to implement that, and of course, the money that they do make, a lot of people are reinvesting it back into the community through their business and through philanthropy. That’s one thing that I really have loved about working in Kansas City and in the business community is getting to know all these stories like that.

Moving from the Business Journal to Thinking Bigger, it’s the same kind of stories that we get to tell, except we’re telling it about the small business community, which are working on a different scale than some of the companies that the Business Journal covers. But I love writing about small businesses, because all of these small business owners have a niche and a reason for doing what they do. A lot of them are very specialized, and so it’s just cool to learn about all of these businesses and, you know, that people can have a business that just designs water slides, things like that.

Phil Singleton:  Yes, I’m sure. You mentioned a lot of different reasons people, what motivates them and stuff. I’m sure passion is probably one of them, too, because a lot of folks get in there and kind of find something they really love. Hearing those stories has to be really inspiring. Of course, that’s what I get out of your magazine, too, sometimes is kind of hearing what people’s journeys have kind of been to get them to where they are, you know, to be able to look up to that. It’s got to be part of it, too, I’m guessing.

Katie Bean:   Yeah, absolutely. The passion is what drives a lot of entrepreneurs and small business owners, because a lot of them get into their business by looking at the market and saying no one’s doing this thing that I want them to do, or people are offering this service, but not to the level that I want it, so they get in and want to offer that to the community and other businesses. They do have that passion because their whole reason for doing it is because they wanted to do whatever they do the best.

Phil Singleton:  Awesome. I’ve got one question before we continue on with a few other things. When we say at a newspaper like copy editing … I know this is going to be a silly question … is that like transcripts of an interview? Is it more somebody else writes it, and then somebody goes in and makes it like better and more readable? What’s the technical definition of copy editing? Sorry to ask that, you probably know that.

Katie Bean:  Oh, no. I think there’s a lot of things about journalism that most people probably don’t know because there’s a lot of things about accounting in businesses that I don’t work in that I don’t know. How copy editing works is generally, especially at a newspaper or magazine like here, a reporter will write a story. So they create it the way that they think it should flow and with the most important facts and interesting stories from the person that they interviewed, and then they send it to a copy editor who (a) will fact check. That’s the person who is going to be double-checking name spellings, your company name spelling. If the story says that the business is on Main, but it’s actually on Walnut, the copy editor’s the one who looks that up just to make sure.

Then, also, the grammar, the spelling, the flow of the story to make sure it makes sense. What I find myself doing when I copy edit is if I start reading a story and I can’t get into it, I just power through and then figure out what is the interesting part of the story, because that’s what needs to be at the top to draw people in and keep reading.

Phil Singleton:  Okay. I was guessing it was something along those lines. Thanks for clarifying that. In my mind, I’m thinking about the reporters out there are kind of like the hunter, and the copy editor is kind of like the chef or the cook.

Katie Bean:   Yeah, I like that analogy.

Phil Singleton:   Awesome. All right. Let’s get into and talk a little bit about Thinking Bigger. A lot of people, small businesses in town, of course they’re going to know the magazine, because that’s one of the kind of flagship products, one that we’ve all kind of been a part of us in growing and doing business here in Kansas City, but I know … and I haven’t been a part of them as much as I think some other companies … there’s a lot of other things that you guys do. Can you expand on that?

What we’re really doing is connecting people to people and businesses to businesses.

– Katie Bean, Thinking Bigger Business Media

Katie Bean:  Yeah, absolutely. I just joined Thinking Bigger in November, so I’m kind of newer here, but it really makes me happy when people tell me, like you do, that they love Thinking Bigger, and that it’s been an important part of their business or telling the story of their business. That’s what we do is we tell stories about businesses in our magazine, which we have a monthly magazine. We also, in the monthly magazine, have a section called Smart Strategies. That’s where we try to find local experts who are able to talk about a part of their core business that they’re expert in that if you were in a plumbing company, you are probably an expert in plumbing. You aren’t necessarily up-to-date on all the legal aspects, and HR, and tax finance, that maybe you need to be, because when you’re an entrepreneur, you have to do all those things. You wear all those hats. We find people who are experts in all the different topics you might need to know as a business owner, and have them submit content to help other business owners. What we’re really doing is connecting people to people and businesses to businesses.

The other products that we have, one is an annual issue. It’s called the Thinking Bigger Guide for Entrepreneurs and Growing Businesses, which has a lot of those strategy and tips articles, as well as a directory in the back of all kinds of resources that you might need to access as a business of resources that you might need to access as a business, from chambers of commerce to the Women in Construction Association to … you know, incubators or funding resources, if it has a compendium of all that information in one place that you can keep on your desk all year and refer to it, especially if you are a person who likes print more than just Googling. You know that that’s a curated list that you can go to and we double check, like we talked about with copy editors, we’ve looked up all their information and we know that it’s accurate and the most recent contact info.

Phil Singleton:  It’s a great resource, I mean it’s one of the ones I think I have on my desk here, and yeah, I think one cool thing about Kansas City, and again, this might be my own perspective. I think a lot of us if we can, we prefer to do business with other people in Kansas City, of course if you’re looking for somebody that’s really an expert to grow, you basically go wherever you need to go and that’s why business is kind of cool these days, where you can hire somebody in a different part of the world if you need to. That being said, you know, when you can buy something or work with somebody local, that’s just much better, a much better option. I don’t know if that’s uniquely Kansas City, it feels like it is, I hear it from other people. They like to kind of buy local too whether it’s business to consumer or even business to business thing.

So having a resource like that where you can go to it and find somebody where there might be a local alternative to something is something I think is really cool.

Katie Bean:  Yeah, I hear that a lot to, that when possible people like to work with businesses that are also in Kansas City because they … you know, you kind of get them, you know what they’ve been through, you know the funding challenges that they might have had or finding the right office space. So you just have something in common with them automatically and so another way that we helped to connect businesses is through our events and that’s where you might meet someone in person who you could do business with potentially or at least learn something from. So we have events throughout the year including our big breakfast, which is a panel of CEO’s, people who have been on our cover of the magazine and those are really good. Obviously I’m a little bit biased, there are a lot of other good events in town, but what I really like about ours is that these entrepreneurs come and they are always willing to be real with you, so we ask them questions about what are some of the challenges that they’ve run into, they’ll tell you and they’ll say I did this, you should not do that.

And so I think it’s been very valuable, a lot of people come up to me afterwards and tell me I really enjoyed that, I definitely got a few things out of it I didn’t know before.

Phil Singleton:  The “Big Breakfast” series, are those monthly or …

Katie Bean:  That’s quarterly.

Phil Singleton:   Quarterly, that’s right, okay.

Katie Bean:  And another quarterly event we have is called Brew 30, where we go around the city to different breweries, distilleries, and wineries and the next time will actually be at a coworking space with our brewery and our winery serving because neither of those had locations where we could host the event, but we are bringing them to our audience.

Phil Singleton:   Is that a newer one or maybe I just haven’t been paying attention, sorry?

Katie Bean:  It’s been remote for about two years, so it’s newer, and yeah.

Phil Singleton:  It’s probably really popular I’m guessing.

Katie Bean:  I think we have about 70 people each time.

Phil Singleton:  Nice.

Katie Bean:  And so that’s one thing that is really cool about it, that there’s so many people, but that also means we can’t go to every brewery because their tap rooms don’t always hold that many people, so we’re looking for other places like East Brook Collaborative is hosting us this month and that way we’re able to bring in a brewery and Joller Creek Winery, which … they have a winery in the north land, which might be a little bit of a drive for some people, especially if you work or live south. So we’re bringing it to a little bit more of a central location.

Phil Singleton:   Awesome.

Katie Bean:   Should be fun. Also, at those … some people who have been featured in the magazine also get to speak and we just ask them each a few questions including if there’s one thing that you could ask from people here, not sales, what would it be, you know. We could all use more sales but people are able to say like well, what we’re really looking for is a new space because we’re offering our current space or we are looking for people to hire in these areas, and again, that’s where we really see the connections being made because people will come up to them afterwards and say oh, you should talk to so and so, I know they have a building and they are only using part of it, so there might be enough space for you to work in that same place.

Phil Singleton:   Awesome, I know you guys also have the 40 under 40, right, that’s pretty well known … wait a minute, it’s the 25 under 25, am I right?

Katie Bean:  That’s right, so our event is the 25 under 25 for 25 outstanding businesses with 25 or fewer employees.

Phil Singleton:  And that’s another kind of a fixture, it seems like it always gets pretty good buzz around town every year?

Katie Bean:  Yeah.

Phil Singleton:  So it’s an award but it’s also an event ceremony?

Katie Bean:  That’s right, it’s an award and we have a big … we have several events leading up to the award ceremony and there’s a big gala, it’s on a Saturday night, it’s black tie, and that’s in February, and we’re just getting ready to start the cycle for 18th annual 25 under 25 awards.

Phil Singleton:  18, that’s awesome.

We have a lot of alumni of our 25 under 25 program who end up making connections through the program and have ended up working together.

– Katie Bean, Thinking Bigger Business Media

Katie Bean:   Yeah, nominations begin August 1st and, and you know, what I learned from working at the business journal and now doing the 25 under 25 awards is … if you can get your name out there by winning an award, that is so valuable as far as the marketing you get out of it, you can’t pay for it. We have a lot of alumni of our 25 under 25 program who end up making connections through the program and have ended up working together. We have heard stories of people who invested in each others businesses, you know, and just growing and doing better business together, so that’s one way that people are making connections but also I see it on a lot of peoples marketing. They have like 25 under 25 award winner, and people in town know what that means, because it’s been around for 18 years and they know that’s a great small business.

Phil Singleton:  Yes, that’s a great segway into some of these other things we were talking about, kind of in the green room before we started recording. Is the … you know I was talking about it, it seems like everything out there, especially in traditional media, gets under attack by some inbound or new form of marketing out there and I’m going to step back and say I’ve been web designing SEO for quite some time and every year I hear that SEO and Google is dead, and we all have to deal with that, but print is the same thing to some degree because part of it is just driven by some of the stories or the mass media … bigger newspapers probably have struggled quite a bit on that piece. On the other hand, I know, we know locally, and I’ve actually seen this myself, that there are a lot of local and or niche magazines that are actually really thriving way more so than kind of the big, the giant magazines that are trying to be everything to everybody or newspapers too. I think those ones probably are suffering and continue to suffer.

But the niche ones seem to be doing really well, you guys have been doing it for 18 years, and obviously still like you said, a fixture in the very important part of the business community here, comments on that. I mean you’re coming from the industry, what do you think has changed, what do you think print kind of fits into small business owners kind of overall marketing these days?

Katie Bean:  Yeah, I mean I have been hearing that print is dead or print is dying for my whole career, but it’s been like 18 years and it’s still here.

Phil Singleton: Right.

Katie Bean:   So it’s not dead yet, one thing … people still like to pick up a newspaper or a magazine or a book, so it’s not dead. Some of the benefits of advertising in print is that it sticks around for a long time, so with our monthly magazine and with a lot of magazines, you know, people get it, they read it, they put it down. Somebody else gets it, they read it, they put it down.

Phil Singleton:  Yeah, nobody throws away a magazine or you know, that kind of stuff, it stays around for a while.

Katie Bean:  Exactly, you know, that’s why when you go to your doctors office there’s a people magazine from 2013 because no one ever throws them away. So it has that longevity to it, especially with a glossy magazine like ours, so you know … that’s one way that … that’s one of the benefits of print advertising. I know some of the criticism is that you can’t measure how many people see it, you know, that’s why some places are really leaning towards digital advertising, because people who are into data and metrics know this is exactly how many clicks our ad got and this is how many clicks I wanted and it either performed or it didn’t perform. So with print advertising it’s a little bit more of an art, we can’t tell you the exact number of people who actually looked at your ad, we can tell you our circulation numbers and that you know … since we send our magazine to other businesses, a lot of times like we said, it gets picked up and put down and passed around the office and so more than one person sees every copy of it.

We also can tell people that our advertisers tell us that every time they run an ad they get a response. We’ve recently had someone say, you know, I can’t run my ad right now because I don’t have enough capacity for the calls that it gets, you know.

Phil Singleton:  Nice.

Katie Bean:   Every time I run that ad I get a response and we just have too much work right now so we can’t run an ad.

Phil Singleton:   Awesome. There’s just so many intangible things that come along with what I think what’s become really important with marketing these days and everybody, especially small businesses, but really anybody that’s trying to become a leader … things like building authority and personal branding, the branding side of the company. That stuff is a little bit intangible but with the magazine, the magazine cover that gets distribution, especially around Kansas City, once you get that kind of coverage in a magazine that’s been around as long and is know as well as Thinking Bigger, I mean that obviously adds to this thing that’s helping, that’s becoming kind of a standard piece of inbound marketing and that is how do we build, how do we separate ourselves, how are we perceived as an expert, you know, in our … in the space that we’re in. I think some of those things are just kind of intangible but you can … it’s proof of it when it lands in your hand, right, when they are in there and you see that and somebodies stories is in there or somebody gets coverage in it. That’s just a physical proof that there is branding and authority building that goes along with that, that doesn’t come out in an analytics report.

Katie Bean:   Yeah, exactly, I mean we consider the magazine a premium product as far as advertising, and part of that is because of the cache that you get from being in a magazine. So when your ad is flashing online 10,000 times, people might see your logo but they don’t necessarily know if you’re local ….people might see your logo, but they don’t necessarily know if you’re local. They don’t know, is that a real business or is that one of those things where, if I click on it, I just go to this weird website, that I got into this weird rabbit hole and I don’t know I got here, but when they see your ad in a magazine it lends some legitimacy to it, because it’s one of those weird rabbit hole websites. It’s not going to pay the money to be in a local Kansas City magazine, so when they see your ad in Thinking Bigger, they know that you’re real and you’re local, and that if they call, somebody is going to answer the phone. It’s not just like some bot online.

Phil Singleton:   Another cool thing that you guys have been doing for a long time, at least since I’ve really started reading it, is like you were saying at the beginning, which is there’s a lot of sharing. There’s a lot of expertise that comes into it, which is the way that I think a lot of us, if you’re going to get a lot out of any kind of a print or maybe kind of a sponsored type of a strategy is that you’re essentially kind of selling by teaching.

So yeah, you want to have that brand building and stuff that you maybe see in a traditional ad and that kind of really supplements stuff, you’ll see it over and over again. Eventually you get the numbers, if you’re committed to a strategy where you’re out there, getting in front of people all the time. So like usually, I’m going to say for most cases I’m thinking that one ad in the magazine not as beneficial as having one that’s consistently there overtime, where you’re almost kind of in a way building a relationship with somebody each time they read it.

But what I’m really getting at is, some of that educational content that’s in there, like you were saying, where people are sharing some of their background and giving some of their best tips and advice out there, as almost kind of like contributors and stuff, or even that they’re getting covered in the story, telling that some of the things, the stumbling blocks, the way they succeeded or things they’ve done around stuff. That, I think is really helpful and really helps you, I think build a relationship with the people that are in there, even if they know it or not.

Katie Bean:  Yeah, absolutely. Just to clarify, in our magazine you can’t pay for coverage, so the people that are on our covers, we have chosen editorially, but the point is still true that being in our magazine, if we have contacted you to write about your company, to be a cover story or the Made To Last, which is about small businesses that have been in business a long time, or entrepreneurial journey, any of those stories, or if it’s one of the smart strategies where, like you said, you’re sharing your expertise with other readers. You know, we ask you to do that and we don’t compensate you and you don’t have to pay us to be in that. But it is part of a marketing strategy, if you use it well, because you’re getting your name out there in the community, and you’re sharing what you know with all the other readers and other business owners, and people really connect to that.

Phil Singleton:  Awesome, and also as a second piece of it, which is you’ve got a web presence, a lot of the information. Is all this stuff in the magazine end up on the website at some point or another or is it-?

Katie Bean:   Most of the stories do end up on the website. Some of our briefs in the front on the magazine don’t make it online, at least right now. That’s something that I’m kind of weighing as far as our strategy. Some of those are just such small bits of information.

Phil Singleton:  Sure, kind of hard to make a full….

Katie Bean:   Yeah, exactly. So some of that is just trying to weigh what’s the most useful for readers of the magazine and of the website and things like that. But for the most part, our main articles all go online after the issue is published. And the smart strategies are there too.

Phil Singleton:  Awesome. Anything else that you guys have coming up that’s new, that you might want to talk about or anything else you want to like maybe promote that might be coming up in the next-? This might be a good time to just kind of tell us what’s on the horizon, the things you guys might be kicking around or have announced recently?

Katie Bean:   Yeah, our Brew 30 is coming up this month. I mentioned that earlier. So that is July 26, and we’ll be at Eastbrook Collaborative in the Northland with Torn Label Brewing and Creek Winery. So it’s a great place to meet and connect with people.

Our 25 under 25 awards, the nominations open August 1st. So there’s only a few weeks, and then you can start telling us who the best businesses are that have less than 25 employees.

Then, I guess the only other thing that’s new is that, we’re working on raising our visibility, because there’s a lot of people like you in town who have been reading it for a long time and are aware of the value that Thinking Bigger has. Then there’s also a lot of people I’ve met since I started who … I would say it’s about 50/50, people who know and understand and love Thinking Bigger, and then there’s about the other 50% say, “Oh, did you just start that?” Or, “Oh, you have a print component, too?”

Phil Singleton:  You guys got to do marketing, like the rest of us have to do, right? I get it.

Katie Bean:   Exactly. Yeah. So there’s still that same aspect of getting our name out there and making sure people understand what we’re bringing to the table and how we can help them.

Phil Singleton:  Awesome. So the only other piece I like to kind of bring it the end is, you’re from Kansas City or you live in the Kansas City area, anyway. Any kind of favorite places that you like to go?

It’s pretty funny because I asked this a lot and I had, embarrassingly enough, never gone to Q39. I’ve been asking this question to a lot of people who live in Kansas City and like five people were telling us this is a favorite restaurant. I had never been. But I actually went 4th of July, was my first time and it was awesome. So I actually like asking this question selfishly, just to figure out what place great places are in Kansas City that I haven’t been to. I still think there’s plenty.

But just other ones that, places you like, companies that you admire. Anything that somebody would come out of town, it’d be like, “Oh, you gotta go here.” Give us some Katie Bean Kansas City favorites.

Katie Bean:  Okay. So let’s see, if you’re coming in from out of town, I highly recommend the World War One Museum. That is a great museum, one of the new museums that’s interactive in the way you experience it. So it’s really cool. I highly recommend that. If you’re not afraid of heights, it’s also pretty cool, because you can go all the way up in that tower and get a great skyline picture.

I also really love the Nelson Atkins Museum, our local art museum, which is free every day, and they have a great collection. They also have been working on different ways to get people engaged. I think it’s coming up later this month, there’s the Big Picnic, which is a picnic right outside on the lawn of the Nelson Atkins. So that’s where they have all the shuttlecocks, which you can’t touch, because they’re sculptures, but you can get a great picture with it. I mean it’s July and it’s hot, but there’s actually a lot of shade on the sides of that lawn. So, that’s what I recommend, if you go is get-

Phil Singleton:   Age groups?  What age, can kids go? My kids, I’ve got twin boys that are eight. We didn’t take them to a lot of stuff yet in Kansas City, because they’re still … but now they’re kind of the age where … and we have been taking them more places, several … but those are two places we haven’t taken them yet. But I guess eight’s probably, just wait little bit longer?

Katie Bean:   For the picnic, it’s definitely a good time to go. There’s food tracks, and I think they have badminton set up outside, with  regular size shuttle cocks that you could play. So that’s kid friendly.

I would say, because the museum is free, it’s a good one to go to, because you can do just one or two sections at a time and that way you can gauge your kids’ interests. So if you take them in, you go through the African art section, because that has some cool, weird stuff. You can take them through there, see how they do, and say like, “Okay, now we’re going to go back through the modern art piece.” Take a look, and if they’re done after that, you can leave and you don’t have to feel guilty because you didn’t pay anything, and you can come back again later to see all the other parts.

Phil Singleton:  Awesome. That’s on the list now. It already was on the list. A few other people, at least one or two, that was one of their top Kansas City faves.

Katie Bean:    Oh, they also have this cool glass maze outside. That’s one of the outdoor sculptures. So that’s cool. I thought it was cool, but I’m sure eight year olds would like it, too. Just make sure they don’t run, because the last time I was there I did see this poor little girl who started running towards her mom and just smacked her face.

Phil Singleton:   Wipe out?

Katie Bean:  A little bit. It was a little traumatic for her.

Phil Singleton: Awesome. Well tell us, as we wrap up here, tell us the best place to kind of read more about the Thinking Bigger and kind of where the best places are to kind of follow you, and how you guys, maybe, where you’re most active on social media and stuff like that.

Katie Bean:  Yeah. So our website, and that has links to all of our content that we talked about already. We also are active on Facebook, if you like to follow Facebook. We’re on LinkedIn as well, and so you can see a lot of our stories posted there. That’s good access point to remind you about what we’re writing about. We also have Twitter. I know not as many people have Twitter, but we’re on there at, @ithinkbigger, and I’m on Twitter as @katiebeankc.

Phil Singleton:  Awesome. Katie, thanks so much for spending time and sharing your story and the great things that Thinking Bigger is doing. We just really appreciate you having you on the show, and we’re going to make sure that we’ve got all that stuff, links back to your site and things in the show notes. And thanks once again.

Katie Bean:  Yeah, thanks for having me Phil. It was fun.


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