Transcript of Taking Relationship Marketing to the Next Level

Transcript of Taking Relationship Marketing to the Next Level written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

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John Jantsch: This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by ZeroBounce, an email validation system that integrates with all the major ESPs to make sure, hey, your mail doesn’t bounce. Check it out at zerobounce.net.

John Jantsch: Hello, and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch, and my guest today is Zvi Band. He is the Co-Founder and CEO of the CRM platform, Contactually. He’s also the author of a book we’re going to talk about today, Success Is in Your Sphere: Leverage the Power of Relationships to Achieve Your Business Goals.

John Jantsch: So, welcome to the show, Zvi.

Zvi Band: John, thanks so much for having me on today.

John Jantsch: So, I’m going to start with a hard question. A lot of times we just do some warm up, but I’m going right after a hard question for you.

Zvi Band: Let’s do it.

John Jantsch: Then you’re free to say the answer is both. But, would it be safe to say that you have learned a ton about networking from, you know, the power users of Contactually? Or would it be safe to say that you wrote this book, because people still don’t get how to network?

Zvi Band: Both.

John Jantsch: I thought it was going to be hard. Anytime a guest hesitates like that, I know I’ve asked a hard question.

Zvi Band: Yeah. I mean, well, I hate to say, I felt like I could pretty easily answer that. I was checking, like wait, is there a got you in there? Yeah, I mean, listen, you know, we wrote the book, you know, for those two reasons, you know? I would say it’s kind of, you know, the reverse in that, so many people, you know, in the seven half years that we’ve been running Contactually, so many people were coming to us saying, “Hey, I get how to use your software, but how do I grow my business with relationships?” Right?

Zvi Band: It’s almost like, you know, I’ve used this before. It’s almost like we’re giving a chef’s knife to someone who didn’t know how to cook. So we realized, and the purpose of the book is to essentially, you know, teach people how to cook, teach people how to grow your business leveraging relationships, how to apply strategy behind it. The content for the book came from, you know, observing how, you know, tens of thousands of professionals who have been able to successfully grow their business, you know, via relationships. So, it went hand in hand together.

John Jantsch: Yeah, yeah. I’m sure you did observe some people doing things that you hadn’t thought of that were pretty cool uses.

Zvi Band: Oh yeah, absolutely. I mean, there are things that are totally counterintuitive that even came across in the book. Like this notion of the Ben Franklin effect that, you know, in order to build rapport with someone, you know, that you actually asked them for a favor. That’s something I’d never even heard of or thought of. I didn’t realize, and it was only kind of after, again, after years and years of years of doing this, and we spent four years, you know, researching and writing the book.

Zvi Band: But the biggest blocker for people is really consistency, is like they kind of can get what to do, but they’re not able to personally act on it. So it was all of these things, and it was such a gift writing this book, and such a great journey.

John Jantsch: So, maybe for those people that aren’t familiar with Contactually, you know, I use the term generically CRM platform. But maybe you could set the table for how you feel Contactually is different than what many people might think of as a typical CRM platform.

Zvi Band: Yeah, absolutely. So, I mean, when most people think about CRM’s, they think about it in a sales context, usually a transactional sale, right? I’m trying to get someone from one end of the funnel to the other, to them being a customer or them being totally disqualified, and that’s it. But if you’re in a relationship-driven business, it’s not necessarily thinking about just the transaction, it’s about that overall relationship, right?

Zvi Band: You know, a real estate agent, for example, gets most of their business via people they’ve worked with in their past, or people they already know. You know, you and I as consultants, you know, and we get our most speaking opportunities from people in our sphere of influence, people in our network. So it’s important to nurture those relationships on an ongoing basis, not just kind of, you know, one time push them through a process.

Zvi Band: So, the way that we think about Contactually, is it’s everything’s about the relationship, not about the deal. So some people call us like your contact manager on steroids. Sure, you can think about it. But it’s instead of thinking like, all right, if the most important asset in your business isn’t necessarily the deals in your pipeline, but the relationships in your database, that’s what Contactually has really been focusing on.

John Jantsch: So, one of the things I think that’s been funny over the last few years is … because as you described, kind of this relationship I think, and my father was a bag carrying, you know, sales person that had his accounts. I mean, really had his relationships, because they were happy to see him. They did see him, you know, once a quarter, you know, that kind of thing.

John Jantsch: So I mean, the idea of specialty for salespeople, you know, treasuring those relationships, I think that’s always been a big deal. What I think is kind of interesting is that technology has actually made it, I think, harder in some ways, I should say the way we use technology, has actually made it harder in some ways to have what you call intentional relationships.

Zvi Band:  Oh, yeah. No, you’re absolutely spot on. I mean, I think we’re living in this absolutely amazing world where we can work with anyone around the world, but it also means that our customers, you know, and the people that would otherwise be working with us, can work with anyone around the world too. So that knowledge gap is gone, because, you know, the consumers I work with can obviously know more than us. That skills gap is gone, because, you know, we’re no longer that unique person in our industry or in our neighborhood that has that skillset.

Zvi Band: So that reputation becomes all the more important. But the problem is, is that, you know, while we can be so connected with so many people, you know, most social platforms are geared around getting us to have, you know, 2,000, 3,000, 4,000 LinkedIn connections or Twitter followers, or things like that. Well, that means we’re going a mile wide and an inch deep, because the human mind can only remember so much information about so many people in there.

John Jantsch: Yeah. I see, I’m not going to point fingers at any generations or anything of that nature, but I see, you know, folks scrolling through their phone, you know, like, like, like, like, like, you know, 300 a day. It’s like, is that engagement? You know, are we really doing anything with that? I mean, so, let me ask you, in this intentional relationship game, I mean, what is the role of social media?

Zvi Band: Yeah, and you’re right. I mean, there’s a part of this book that’s kind of seemingly come out of that, you know, our intent is also just to help people rebuild those social skills, right? I don’t necessarily know my neighbor as well as I do. You know, someone who’s, you know, across the world. So it’s no surprise that Cigna released survey results. They surveyed 20,000 adults age 18 and over in the United States, and most American adults are considered lonely, which is crazy in this world where I’m surrounded by these social objects.

Zvi Band: But I see it, you know, I see it in myself, you know? Open up, you know, Facebook and I’ll flip through, and, you know, I realized like, I don’t know about any of them. It’s kind of that, you know, that test on social media of, you know, pick any random, you know, LinkedIn or Facebook contact, and really ask yourself like, “All right, do I know this person well enough that if they reached out to me and asked for $20, would I lend it to them? Or vice versa, if I were in a position where I needed $20 all of a sudden, would they be willing to give it to me, right?”

Zvi Band: So, yeah, I think the important thing with social media is to use that as a source of information, to then identify what are the relationships, or what’s going on with the people I care about, and then make sure that you’re going deep enough beyond just a like or comment here and there.

John Jantsch: So, there have been a lot of books written on networking, and I think that … well, let me ask you, how would you differentiate relationship building and typical networking?

Zvi Band: Yeah, absolutely. I think they’re definitely very closely related. What networking or what do people think of networking? You know, let’s be honest. They think about, you know, the more the act of going out and building new relationships, right? You know, whether it’s connecting with people on LinkedIn or you know, going into kind of, you know, a poorly lit room or conference CEO ballroom and trading business cards, and trying to create net new relationships.

Zvi Band: What relationship marketing is more focused on as well, how do I grow my business or achieve the goals I’m trying to hit, leveraging the relationships I already have? You know, what we oftentimes miss out on is that, you know, the best relationships and the most valuable ones, are usually the ones that we’re already connected to, you know, relate to networking.

Zvi Band: You know, one issue I had when early on in my career, and I still encounter from time to time, because I’m not perfect too, is, you know, you’ll go to a conference and you’ll do lots of networking, and you’ll exchange business cards with people, and you’re like, “Great, I have all these new connections.” You put those business cards in your back pocket, and the next time you see those business cards is when you’re fishing them out of the laundry machine, because, you know, you didn’t even take them out of your pocket, right?

Zvi Band: So that’s kind of the issue that we face these days. That’s why relationship marketing is that strategy behind leveraging the relationships that you already have in your sphere in some way.

John Jantsch: Well, and it’s interesting, you’ve used the word leverage several times, and I was gonna ask about that specifically, because, I mean, I think everybody knows this. Our existing customers, for example, are probably a greater source of new business, as long as they’re happy, than, you know, that world out there that we want to go seeking. But everybody likes the new chase, or it feels that way anyway.

John Jantsch: I mean, how do we get … because here’s the basis of my question, because it’s hard to maintain those relationships. I mean, it takes work. You can’t just, you know, phone it in. I mean, a strong relationship is built on caring, on checking in, on, you know, having a rhythm. So, how do you get the leverage to put in the work that it takes? Because, you know, it doesn’t necessarily feel like, “Oh, I’m going to get a sale or I’m not going to get a sale.” It’s like, “No, I’m doing this because some point down the road this will be important.”

Zvi Band: Yeah, no, that’s a really great question. I think, and let’s face it, you know, and if anyone were to read the book, and you look at any one particular step, this isn’t rocket science, right? We’re not doing trigonometry here. This is very basic kind of human interaction. The reason why it is so hard, per your point, is that, you know, as human beings, you know, we’re wired, you know, to look for those short term gains, right?

Zvi Band: This goes back to, you know, us as, you know, caveman, right? Where we had to think about how do we put food in our bellies now and find shelter now? Otherwise we’re dead meat, right? These are the big challenges that we face these days, is that well, you know, our needs right now are taking care of, but those longterm benefits, that’s what we’re really like, you know, need to be focusing on.

Zvi Band: So yeah, of course we’re much more interested in the lead that just came in, because that might be business tomorrow, versus a past client that may not transact with us for three or four years, therefore I’m much less likely to be interested in that. That’s why it’s no surprise, and the National Association of Realtors publishes information. They say that 88% of consumers say that they work with their agent again, but when you look at the follow up stats, only 12% of consumers will use the same agent they used before. So what’s happening in that big gap? What’s happening, is that years go by and there’s no follow up.

John Jantsch: You know, email is still a very important marketing channel, but it’s gotten harder to get in the inbox, even of people want your email. Zero Bounce is an email verification system that will validate your opt-ins. Check them out zerobounce.net. They integrate with all of the major services that you might be using already, like MailChimp or HubSpot. Check them out at zerobounce.net.

John Jantsch: Okay, here’s the … I’m trying to figure out how to word this question without it sounding as bad as it probably will. You know, I’ve got 100 contacts that I need to stay in touch with, but I just don’t have the time to stay in touch with them the way I’d like to. How do I make a decision about who’s worth spending time on? See, I told you it’s going to sound terrible.

Zvi Band: Yeah, yeah. At first, in terms of why it sounds terrible. I think, you know, we oftentimes have this icky factor. Like, oh, you know, all of a sudden if I’m treating these people as assets. Let’s face it, you know, we only have so much time on Earth and we want to make sure that we’re focusing our efforts around the people that, you know, not only can provide value to us, but the people that we can be of service to, that we believe that we can help, the people that give us lots of energy.

Zvi Band: You know, one of the ways that I sometimes categorize people is, I look at people, and if I get off the phone with them and I just can’t stand speaking with them. Well, those are people, I don’t care how important they may be, those are people that I choose not to surround myself with, you know? But, in truth, and this is something that we talk about in the book where, you know, it’s not necessarily going by, you know, whether they’re important or not, but it’s instead like taking a step back and asking ourselves, “Well, you know, what am I goals? You know, what am I really trying to achieve?” Then starting to figure out, “Okay, who are the types of people that can help me with those goals?” Then focusing on those types of people, right?

Zvi Band: For me, for example, as a CEO for Contactually, you know, for a number of years I was very focused on fundraising. So very clearly, a lot of my time was focused on, not only engaging and networking with investors, but also with founders who could give me introductions to other investors.

Zvi Band: All of a sudden, that was a goal that was deprioritized. So I was able to start phasing that out and stop engaging less and less with investors and other founders, and focus much more on my customers, because customer retention was much more important for me. So I think as long as we take a step back and try and figure out what our goals are, then of those 100 or so people, we can better identify which of those people fit into those buckets.

John Jantsch: So, you mentioned at the outset this idea of the Ben Franklin approach or theory, that actually asking for help was a great way to kind of be a bridge to relationship building. Expand on that a little bit, because I think a lot of people feel like, “Oh, if I’m asking somebody for help, you know, they don’t owe me anything. You know, how do I start there?” You’re suggesting that it’s actually the other way around.

Zvi Band: Yeah, it’s actually funny. I mean, so related to actually fundraising, one of the piece of advice that I got very early on was if you want money, ask for advice. If you want money or if you ask for money, you’re going to get advice instead. That’s definitely what I had seen as well. So, the interesting thing, yeah, if you read Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography, you know, rather than trying to win a political adversary over by being nice, Franklin asked him for a favor just to borrow a rare book. Then after the man invested effort in Franklin by delivering this book, the two end up becoming friends.

Zvi Band: It’s hard to figure out kind of, you know, what the real reason is for, or what the real reason behind. But it’s more thinking about … it’s also called the Ikea effect, in that if you put time and effort into doing something, you’re much more invested in that. Just like if you spend, you know, an hour walking around Ikea, you’re not gonna walk out empty handed, because you’ve done it. So, you know, that’s why asking someone for advice, something happens, right, in that like, okay, we’re showing that we appreciate that person, we appreciate the advice, we solicit their knowledge. That’s a valuable experience to that person.

John Jantsch: Well, we’re also perhaps suggesting that we believe they have that knowledge and that they are smart, and that they have that advice. So I think there are probably a lot of things in there. I can just state, and I don’t know if I’ve ever stated on the show before, I’ve never been into an Ikea, and I’m hoping to keep that streak alive.

John Jantsch: So, I get a lot of, or a number of solicitations. I wouldn’t even call them solicitations, connections, let’s say, on LinkedIn. One of the first things they suggest is, what can I do for you? You know, what can I do to help you? On the surface, that to me, somebody told them that that was a good relationship building tool, but on the surface it comes off very negative to me, because I don’t know that person. They haven’t suggested anything that specific, so I don’t even know what they could help me, you know, with.

John Jantsch: So, do you have a similar experience? I know a lot of people on LinkedIn do, because that just has become sort of a common thing for people to do. It seems like when people make connection requests. So, how could we do that better?

Zvi Band: Yeah. I struggle with this, because you’re right, I have the same visceral reaction when someone says, “Hey, how can I help you?” I’m like, “I don’t know. I could use a refill of my drink maybe, right?” What are you really trying to offer? In fact, you’re making me do more work by trying to think about what I need help on and how that person could help out.

Zvi Band: But I mean, the interesting thing is, it is rooted in good intentions, and that, you know, they are trying to be, you know, meaningful and valuable to us in some way. But you’re right. I mean, that’s where, you know, I think one of the key aspects of relationship marketing is to try and identify and be proactive, in terms of identifying what people really want and what people would benefit from, and then solving that.

Zvi Band: Now of course, you can ask, you know, very pointed questions, you know, as you’re talking with someone for their first time, you could talk about what your business challenges are. I love that [inaudible 00:19:32], you know, throws out the champagne question. You know, if we’re celebrating with a bottle of champagne a year from now, what are we celebrating? That’s kind of a good open-ended question.

Zvi Band: But, a lot of the work, you know, goes into just gaining that intelligence on someone and trying to understand how you can be helpful. For me, for example, you know, with the book coming out, you know, one thing that I’ve seen a few people reach out and do proactively is they’ll write a review online. Because they kind of know that, “Okay, that’s something that Zvi probably would benefit from.” I’ve obviously done the same thing too.

Zvi Band: So, you’re right, it’s the lazy man’s approach to be able to just kind of say, “Hey, how can I help you? And maybe I’ll be able to do something about it.” It’s come a completely different experience to figure out where you can add value, and do it for them proactively.

John Jantsch: Yeah, if I’m feeling particularly snarky, I write, “Well, send me $500.”

Zvi Band: Have you got it yet?

John Jantsch: Well, I delete it. I don’t ever send that, but I’ve attempted. I mean, a lot of what you end up talking about is, you know, staying in touch. I mean, having a, you know, a plan to make sure that you’re not completely, you know, out of mind. But, how do you develop a rhythm that makes sense? I know that that’s a, well, it depends … But, you know, is there a rhythm of staying in touch that, as a general rule you should think about as a minimum?

Zvi Band: Yeah, and you’re right. This is I would say probably the meat of what we talked about, and honestly why I wrote a book, in that there are so many scattered best practices and good ideas. So what we’ve spoken about so far in this conversation, you know, there are probably a lot of people saying, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know.” Nodding your head. But it’s can you assemble that into a cohesive strategy that you can operate on a regular basis?

Zvi Band: That’s the point of the capital strategy, and that every one point, you know, nothing is groundbreaking, but it’s, can you do that consistently? So, for example, it does start off with, all right, you know, are you able to block time in your calendar? Or find some way of doing this on a repetitive basis? You know, whether it’s having reminders or triggers or something that you’re doing on a regular basis.

Zvi Band: But to answer your point around, you know, making sure that we’re staying in touch with people, you know, on a periodic basis, clearly there’s the ability to nowadays, whether it’s using LinkedIn or Google alerts, or something like that, just to kind of keep a prize of them and their business. You know, whether they’re mentioned in the news, something about their company mentioned, or maybe you see, you know, something about sailing and you find which of your contacts are interested in sailing. Of course triggers like that happen.

Zvi Band: But then, you know, one of the root questions is, “Well, how often should I follow up with people?” There’s no right or wrong answer. Going back to our point around, you know, “Hey, if I have 100 people, how often should I stay in touch with them?” Well, you know, naturally as you’re prioritizing relationships, the ones that are higher priority and hopefully fewer number, you’re able to spend more time on. The ones that are lower in priority and hopefully more of, you’re able to stay in touch less often.

Zvi Band: We’d like to say listen, you know, push come to shove, you know, say, “Hey, I want to follow up with, you know, my, you know, high priority contacts at least once a quarter and ones are lower priority once a year.” That seems to be based on, you know, just watching, you know, tens of thousands of people in Contactually, that seems to be a good general baseline, and then you can tweak from there.

John Jantsch: Zvi, it was great catching up with you, and talking about Success Is in Your Sphere. So I appreciate you dropping by the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. Tell people where they can find out more about you and your work, and the book, of course.

Zvi Band: John, it’s always great chatting with you. Yes, you can go online, to any bookstore, or wherever books are sold, and just do a quick search for Success Is in Your Sphere, and you’ll be able to find information. Feel free to buy a copy for yourself or for someone you care about, or maybe don’t care about. All proceeds go to charity. Of course, my name is band Zvi Band, Z-V-I, B-A-N-D. Luckily I’m the only Zvi Band out there, so it’s pretty easy to find me.

John Jantsch: The URL was available too. So, Zvi, appreciate, again, you stopping by, and hopefully we will run into you soon out there on the road.

Zvi Band: Thanks so much, John.

Taking Relationship Marketing to the Next Level

Taking Relationship Marketing to the Next Level written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with Zvi Band
Podcast TranscriptZvi Band headshot

Today on the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I chat with Zvi Band. He is a the founder of Contactually, and a hacker and community builder.

Contactually is a smart CRM tool that can help you manage relationships in the long term. He’s also invested in growing relationships and connections in his own backyard, in the Washington, DC area. He co-founded Proudly Made in DC for local startups and the DC Tech Startups Meetup group.

His book, Success Is in Your Sphere, delves even further into the topic, providing a step-by-step approach to leveraging your existing relationships to your advantage.

On today’s episode, Band shares what he’s learned about networking and relationship building over the years, and teaches listeners best practices for getting the most out of their existing contact list.

Questions I ask Zvi Band:

  • How does technology make it harder (or easier) to have intentional relationships?
  • What is the role of social media in intentional relationships?
  • What is the difference between networking and relationship marketing?

What you’ll learn if you give a listen:

  • Why your business’s most important asset might be your contact list, rather than your pipeline.
  • How to prioritize our contact efforts.
  • Why asking for help can actually help you to build relationships.

Key takeaways from the episode and more about Zvi Band:

Like this show? Click on over and give us a review on iTunes, please!

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This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by ZeroBounce.

Email is still an important marketing channel, but it’s gotten harder to get into inboxes. ZeroBounce is an email verification system that will validate your opt-ins. They integrate with all of the major services you’re already using like MailChimp and HubSpot. Check them out at ZeroBounce.net.

Transcript of The Ins and Outs of Marketing Automation

Transcript of The Ins and Outs of Marketing Automation written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

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John Jantsch: This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing podcast is brought to you by Gusto, modern, easy payroll benefits for small businesses across the country, and because you’re a listener, you get three months free when you run your first payroll. Find out at gusto.com/tape.

John Jantsch: Hello and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing podcast. This is John Jantsch and my guest today is Jason Vandeboom. He is the CEO and founder of the CRM and marketing automation platform known as ActiveCampaign and we’re going to talk about how CRM and how relationship building and how email marketing and marketing automation have changed for the better. Jason’s going to talk about some of the things they are doing there at ActiveCampaign. So Jason, thanks for joining me.

Jason Vandeboom: Yeah, thanks for having me. Looking forward to it.

John Jantsch: So you know, marketing automation has been with us for a while and it certainly was a real boon I think for a lot of folks that were at least attempting to kind of help drive the funnel or drive people down the funnel or whatever the term that they used for it, but it’s really not that personal or at least in the traditional way. I think a lot of people have found a lot of ways to abuse it, let’s put it that way. So what is your take on marketing automation space in general right now?

Jason Vandeboom: Yeah, I think if you look in the past, it started from a good place, saving time, maybe personalizing experiences and whatnot, but ultimately the focus has been so much on kind of the time savings, replacing humans as much as possible and that leads to experiences that are less than ideal. Also, as an industry, we always talk about personalization, we talk about highly personalized to the contact level, but then when we look at what you can build within marketing automation platforms, it’s oftentimes personalization doesn’t mean personalization by the individual. It means a grouping of people or a segment of people getting these unique experiences. So that makes them not actually that unique at all because there’s so many other contacts or customers going through that same workflow.

John Jantsch: Well, and I think there’s no question that at least… You know, you go to the conferences today and everybody’s talking about personalization, personalization, and I think that for some people it’s not gone beyond, Hey, first name, here’s my email.

Jason Vandeboom: Exactly. Yeah.

John Jantsch: And I think that that’s the nut we have to crack, isn’t it? I mean, it’s great talking about personalization, but how do we do it? I started the show off talking about customer experience automation and predictive sending. So let’s just lay that out. I mean, how does that work that’s any different than designing campaigns so to speak?

Jason Vandeboom: Sure. Yeah. And I think there’s those two focuses, it’s the bringing humans in at the right time and then functionality that can be developed and predictive sending is a good example of that where instead of thinking about messaging that’s delivered at the same time for a group of individuals, really learning from the contact level when is the best time, and not just when is the best time to open, but when is the best time for someone to be willing or open to respond to the engagement from the brand.

John Jantsch: Let me stop you right there because I just want to clarify that. So how would… Let’s say we send out, we have this list, we think they all care about the same thing or they care about the same product and we send them an email or something that explains a new offering. I mean, how would then timing be changed? Would it be changed based on the behavior, how they interacted or didn’t interact or what they did would, would actually automatically sort of put them in another timing?

Jason Vandeboom: Yeah, so a couple of different things. If you don’t know a lot about them, then we have to go to baseline ideas that have been done in the past of just like overall time zone, overall characteristics, compared to other contacts that kind of follow the same attributes and whatnot. But then as you get a better understanding of that individual, the timing should change. So predictive sending is very much about a message going out, right? But where we’re going with that as well is not just like in terms of a message, but think about predictively figuring out the optimal time for a sales rep to reach out. So really finding that blend of like automation and human touch, because timing plays such a key role with most any sales process and also post-sale process of getting someone to actually see value out of whatever you’re selling.

John Jantsch: So another thing that’s very common is we’ll have an ebook. It has a great promise, a great message, and people want to get it, but just because they downloaded that, I mean doesn’t necessarily mean… I mean they were solving a different problem. They were in a different stage of their journey or searching. I mean how do we then kind of take this thinking and say, “Okay, let’s add what we think they need in terms of content”? I mean how do we actually, so not just send different timing but maybe different content altogether? Is that part of kind of the new norm?

Jason Vandeboom: Yeah. No, I think that’s something that has been talked about for years and years and years and it’s ultimately fallen into the idea of just like then use split testing or something like that. Split tests down emails is nothing new. Split testing within an automation workflow is something we’ve had for quite some time and some others have started to grow their own versions of that, but ultimately that still is trying to figure out like one solution that’s going to work well for everyone or for a group or for a segment of contacts, when in reality what we should be thinking about is within that content of the message, whether it be an email, whether it be on another channel, determining based on that individual contact what type of content would work best and not necessarily trying to find the number one winner across a variety of options.

Jason Vandeboom: So doing that for messaging is very much… that’s kind of where we’re spending a bunch of time right now and then also taking the concepts and fundamentals of like split testing actual workflows, but doing that in a way where it’s not split testing to some singular end result, but actually finding the right paths and the right content by the individual contact.

John Jantsch: And so the implication, if we’re going to use the word automation here, is that I’m not just sitting here with a giant spreadsheet of all my split tests and plugging in data and then redirecting or remessaging. The idea here is that there’s an automation aspect of that.

Jason Vandeboom: Exactly, yeah, and that there’s an intelligence built in where to try to create those, like right now it’s very static experiences that you have to try to create to create these personalized workflows. Instead of having to build out thousands, tens of thousands, of workflows to try to get that granularity and personalization, that trust can be enabled within a platform to help you get there faster.

John Jantsch: For those that aren’t familiar with the backend or workings of ActiveCampaign, they use something they call automations where you can kind of drag and drop, do this, then do that, if they do this do that. So how, with that really, really brief explanation, how has now… how has the artificial intelligence that’s being built in here and the decision making process, how does that change that kind of drag and drop approach?

Jason Vandeboom: Yeah, so the approach is still there. It just provides… That’s the general theme of a direction. Meaning a good way of thinking about automations is just thinking about a flow chart. You have a start with your flowchart, that’s typically the trigger. Something happens to create the automation and then you have a sequence of events like you said, and then the only time you have actually different experiences would be if you have like if and else, so like if an action occurs then do something, otherwise go down a different path. And that’s how you create that like tree looking situation within a flowchart.

Jason Vandeboom: So taking that but making the actual paths vary by the contact and the independent timing between those actions, whether it be sending a message or when’s the optimal time to get sales or customer success involved, and then also within the content. So you’re personalizing the paths, you’re personalizing the actual content, you’re personalizing the timing, creating a really going from a static experience that everyone sort of hits all those check boxes at the same time with the same content to something that is far more dynamic and individual to the individual contact.

John Jantsch: And so then is the software platform merely making recommendations to me as the user that hey, we’re seeing this or this format of content is getting all the play. You ought to move this direction or is it just automatically making those alterations for me?

Jason Vandeboom: Yeah, so we believe that nobody would really trust it out of the box if it was just like we’re going to make all the decisions for you. So instead of that, you still know your business more than anyone else at the end of the day. So you probably know your customer propel, you know what will probably work one way or the other. So allowing you to kind of set that up and then choose as you gain more and more confidence with the platform what you want to allow the platform to play around with, so whether it be the timing aspect or if you want to… you like the idea of personalized content, you don’t necessarily want to split test it and you want it to actually be a little bit more dynamic by the contact, allowing you to sort of enable these different pieces as you gain more and more trust.

Jason Vandeboom: Now we’re also working on ways where we can make suggestions. Things that maybe are not thought of today or maybe you have automations that are currently running and we’re seeing something with the data that just, you know, maybe you haven’t analyzed quite yet or just something that may not make sense outside of what the data actually tells and to surface some of those as recommendations, but still then allowing that business owner or that marketer to choose to opt in on some of those things. Eventually the idea is it should not… like a true platform that’s focused on CX automation shouldn’t feel like a tool. It should feel more like a business partner, it should feel like it’s actually adding value, enabling you to do more.

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John Jantsch: So one of the things that I think a lot of business owners struggle with obviously is you hear about a platform like this and you think, “Oh this is great. This is going to do all the work for me.” But in reality, if we don’t set our businesses or our lead capture processes up on the front end right, I mean it’s probably not going to collect anything that you could do anything with. So what are some best practices for say, routing and segmenting and capturing somebody… enough data about somebody so that we can kind of understand what bucket to put them in even?

Jason Vandeboom: Yeah. So a couple things. I would say one err on capturing more data than you may even think you need right now. By having that capture and having that capture historically allows you to actually be able to do something in the future. The other thing I would spend a lot of time, not so much thinking about tactically how you’re going to cause a conversion or how you’re going to cause certain actions to take place, but what are those key pieces? What are those key conversions that you care about?

Jason Vandeboom: Sometimes it’s obvious, like it’s actually purchasing the product or whatnot, but then with your own insight and knowledge into, going back to you know your business more than anyone else or any other platform from a different vantage point, what are those influencers you think that may assist along the way? Like what are those key points where someone starts to find value and whatnot? And that isn’t always like a quantitative sort of thinking. Oftentimes it’s much more qualitative in the way of you just think something has some sort of a weight to it. Where all the sudden they start seeing the value or they become a little bit more hooked with the product or service you’re offering.

Jason Vandeboom: When you start figuring out what those are, then you can build out more tactical execution as to how do you drive more of that behavior and how do you drive ultimately to that conversion. But if you’re not thinking about those and if you’re not thinking about the key conversion events, you’re really just going to struggle quite a bit and there’s nothing that can really help, because everything has to work to some end goal.

John Jantsch: Yeah, and I think one of the things that I’ve always struggled with frankly is I have a couple of very unique segments and some listeners are probably going to say, “Yeah, you’re not doing this well,” but they need very different messages, but it’s not always obvious who they are. I know that sounds really vague, but how hard is it in that kind of initial, hey, here’s a piece of content that you found really compelling. You wanted to give me your email address, but now I want to know who you are. And you know, common wisdom is, hey, just get the email address and don’t put any more friction up, but by taking that path, I’m also not learning how to serve them.

Jason Vandeboom: Yep.

John Jantsch: So help me out. What’s the best practice for should… Once somebody gives that and they get the content, should we immediately go to asking them to sort of self identify?

Jason Vandeboom: I think it’s a couple of things. One, I do believe in the less is more up front to get the process going. So maybe you just start with that email address. Based on that, ideally your first couple of pieces of content or first messages going out have some clear… like if it’s actual content that’s enabling something, there’s a couple of different varieties in there. So based on engagement with that, you can classify and don’t just treat it as like there’s a link click or something like that and now you know that someone has something. You can set maybe a tag or something to that contact so you have a general understanding, but then trying to find different ways, just basic like profiling of as they take more action over time to get something, either from their action or them to fill something out additionally in the future.

Jason Vandeboom: But it also goes back to just kind of testing overall, because there’s the what content are they interested in, which I think a lot of people focus on, and there’s the how do they actually like to consume the content, which I think more people need to focus on sooner than later. And that could be simple as like some people like to consume heavy content and versus like more of a CliffsNotes style and a bunch of different similar types of variations. But I think that piece focusing on both at the same time in small iterations, not trying to get it all at once, is probably the best path forward.

John Jantsch: So let’s outline just kind of a very typical use case. It’s really common these days to have an indoctrination series. So somebody is new to you, they come and they say, “Hey, I like what you’re doing here. I want to get this checklist. Get on your list, start getting stuff from you,” and then we kind of drip out, typically been written as an automation. Maybe we put two days or three days between each and we drip out what we think will be useful information in a sequence of maybe over 45 or 60 days. They should know, assuming they read it all, a lot more about us. How would that very common practice be changed in a CX automation predictive sending way?

Jason Vandeboom: Sure. So for one, instead of having a single piece of content each step of the way, ultimately having the ability to have multiple versions but not testing for a single source of truth. So as you have a better understanding of both what types of content they’re looking to consume but how they want to consume it, it can start personalizing to that behavior. Additionally, there’s different types of people for consuming the content and maybe different levels of maturity if you will or want for consumption in terms of timing.

Jason Vandeboom: So based on interaction, based on if we can start grouping things up based on attributes that are known prior, even if they’re anonymous attributes such as like the pages they visited, sources, things like that to possibly accelerate that entire process that you’re talking about, but to do both of those things at more of an individual level instead of just trying to get like the one overall, and I think that’s the theme of where things are going in the future is all too often in the past we’ve really tried to optimize for this one overall workflow or this one overall like drip set of emails that overall is the best. But we’re leaving a lot on the table by really having to just focus on the overall instead of thinking about it at a far more personalized level.

John Jantsch: So the typical sort of person that actually is very engaged, ready to solve their problem, they want to consume the content in five days instead of five weeks would get that experience because they demonstrated that behavior.

Jason Vandeboom: Yes. But then ultimately, you know, at the end of the day, try and get all of this to tie to like going back to those key pieces that you know that are going to be drivers for your conversions and your actual conversions as well, because at the end of the day that’s what we should all be optimizing for is those known sort of events or transformative moments where they’re actually converting.

John Jantsch: Yeah. So it’s just a matter of of how we deliver them to that event.

Jason Vandeboom: Exactly.

John Jantsch: Great. So what’s in the future then? I know we’re talking about stuff that is new and people are still wrapping their heads around, but I’m guessing that you’ve road mapped an evolution of this even.

Jason Vandeboom: Yeah, so quite a bit, and it all revolves… there’s a lot more to do with timing. When you start thinking about when humans are involved in any form of a process, the timing is so critical, whether it be a phone call or reach outs and whatnot. So really digging into that further. The content piece, we’re just sort of scratching the surface of. We’re investing quite a bit into that right now. Making a truly personalized content where we’re not just testing to a single end result, but really the best variation and trying to get predictive content across channels as well and not just stick to just email.

Jason Vandeboom: And then there’s the concept of like dynamic routing, so like we have, you know, as marketers, we create these funnels and whatnot that you’ve been describing and they’re not like normally just thought up of from nothing. They’re, to your point, it’s well thought out, been doing these for quite a while, and so allowing a marketer to create a couple of these and then dynamically placing context down them, but not necessarily testing for the single one answer, but finding the optimal one.

Jason Vandeboom: After that, it’s very much about how do we take all of these practices and provide predictions and provide ideas. So seeing all the data, so you know, all the movement doing these personalizations and whatnot, we should be able to predict more and more. So even as you start off as a marketer using the platform, you should be able to get guidance as to like, here’s something, here’s a recipe for a sequence of events that we think would improve sales by X or save Y number of hours building off how do you make more and more of these predictions and how you actually follow up with the outcome, that’s ultimately where we’re looking to go.

John Jantsch: Of course it means you have to pay attention to what’s actually going on behind the scenes doesn’t it?

Jason Vandeboom: Yeah.

John Jantsch: And I mean that sort of facetiously, but sort of not. Because it’s not a matter of setting these things up if you’re not going to analyze them and learn from them, then you know you probably won’t get nearly as much out of them.

Jason Vandeboom: Yeah.

John Jantsch: So Jason, I know people can find all they want about ActiveCampaign at activecampaign.com but are you… this is June of 2019 so dependent upon when people are listening to this, are you doing conferences or any kind of roadshow or anything that people need to know about?

Jason Vandeboom: Yeah, sure. I’m at a couple of things in the upcoming months. I think Traction is the next conference I’ll be at. Otherwise we have, we’re doing over 200 marketing events this year throughout the world where we’re really talking about marketing strategy and whatnot and helping people grow their business. That can be found at activecampaign.com/events, .com/events and then other than that, anyone wanting to reach out, I can always be reached at jason@activecampaign.com

John Jantsch: Awesome. Thanks Jason, and hopefully we’ll run into you next time I’m up in the Chicago area.

Jason Vandeboom: Sounds good. Thank you.

The Ins and Outs of Marketing Automation

The Ins and Outs of Marketing Automation written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with Jason Vandeboom
Podcast Transcript

Jason Vandeboom headshotToday on the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I visit with founder and CEO of ActiveCampaign, Jason Vandeboom.

ActiveCampaign is an SaaS solution built in the cloud that is focused on marketing automation. Managing everything from email campaigns to SMS messaging to sales and CRM is possible through the platform, and their predictive technology can help you to send highly individualized content to the right customers at the right time to generate the best results.

Vandeboom and I talk all things marketing automation and personalization on this episode.

Questions I ask Jason Vandeboom:

  • How do we really ensure personalization?
  • How do we manage customized timing and content within automation?
  • What’s the best practice for getting more information about customers after they’ve initially reached out?

What you’ll learn if you give a listen:

  • How to strike the right balance between automation and human touch.
  • Why it’s important to think about content delivery method as well as the message.
  • Why the future of marketing automation is about individualization.

Key takeaways from the episode and more about Jason Vandeboom:

Like this show? Click on over and give us a review on iTunes, please!

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This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by Gusto. Everyone loves payday, but loving a payroll provider? That’s a little weird. Still, small businesses across the country love running payroll with Gusto.

Gusto is making payroll, benefits, and HR easy for modern small businesses. You no longer have to be a big company to get great technology, great benefits, and great service to take care of your team.

To help support the show, Gusto is offering our listeners an exclusive, limited-time deal. Sign up today, and you’ll get 3 months free once you run your first payroll. Just go to Gusto.com/TAPE.

How to Craft the Perfect Email

How to Craft the Perfect Email written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Some small business owners are intimidated by email marketing. Having to write an individual email is scary enough if you don’t consider yourself a writer. The thought of sending an email out to an entire mailing list can be downright terrifying!

Fortunately, the perfect email is about more than just writing. And even for the written elements, once you’ve figured out the essential components, it’s easy for even those more timid writers among us to excel.

Here are the steps that go into crafting the perfect email.

Start with a Strong Subject Line

According to Campaign Manager, the average office worker receives 121 emails per day. That’s a lot of activity in just one inbox, and it means that you need to do something from the start to catch your readers’ eyes.

This starts with a strong subject line. There are a number of approaches you can take to make sure your subject line stands out. Consider including one of the following elements:

  • Create a sense of urgency – “Sale ends TONIGHT at 9pm”
  • Make an offer they can’t refuse – “Free shipping on orders of $25 or more”
  • Pique their interest – “What’s the secret to maintaining a healthy lawn?”
  • Provide value – “5 Tips for Hosting the Perfect July 4 BBQ”

An eye-catching subject line just might include an emoji, too. Of course, including emojis won’t be the appropriate choice for all businesses, but for some it can be a fun way to stand out in a text-heavy inbox.

Personalize the Message

There are a few steps that go into personalizing email messaging. You should begin by segmenting your lists. By breaking your customers and prospects down into groups based on demographics (like age, location, or gender) or by behavior (past purchases, most recent interaction with your brand, etc.) you can target different subsets of your population with messaging that will be most relevant to them.

This doesn’t mean you need to reinvent the wheel for each variant, but there are little steps you can take to tweak the messaging to best appeal to each group. Let’s say you own a landscaping business. You’re offering a big start of the summer promotion; anyone who schedules regular yard work appointments at the start of the summer will get 10 percent off each session.

This is great news for all of your customers, but you can tailor the messaging based on how you’ve segmented your list. Let’s say you’ve broken your list down by types of services those customers currently receive. For those who take advantage of your gardening services, make the messaging about how you’ll keep their flowers in bloom all season long, for a fraction of the price. For those who use your lawn mowing services, the email can say something like “The only thing better than the smell of fresh-cut grass is saving 10% off your lawn care services this summer.”

To further personalize the messages, take advantage of merge tags, which allow you to include the name of the recipient in the greeting, rather than a generic “Hey there.”

Write Smart Body Copy

This is where those non-writers start to get intimidated. What is good copy, anyway? Really it’s about being concise, clear, and helpful.

Keep sentences short, eliminate jargon and technical speak, and make it very clear what you’re offering in your email. Because we do all get so many emails each day, no one has time to sit down and read a thousand word email. Keep it to 250-500 words maximum, and devise ways to draw attention to the most important keywords. This can be as simple as bolding relevant text or including an image that draws the viewer’s eye to the most critical part of the message.

If you’re feeling shaky in your copywriting skills, check out this list of dos and don’ts.

Incorporate Elements Beyond Text

Creating the perfect email is all about standing out from the crowd. And what better way to do that than to add elements beyond text? A stunning photo, an informative infographic, or a quick video are all ways to add other media into your messaging.

If you’re going to go this route, set it up with a brief sentence or two, and then let the media speak for itself. If needed, include captions on images so that viewers have more context. Videos should also include subtitles, so that those viewing in a place where they can’t turn their volume up can still grasp the content (a service like Rev can help you with your transcription needs).

End with a Call to Action

Once you’ve dazzled your readers with relevant, personalized content and exciting visual elements, it’s time to bring it on home. One simple, clear call to action that’s tied in with the rest of the email is the way to do that.

If your email was about a sale going on right now, include a “Shop the sale” button that takes readers to your e-commerce site. If your email was an offer for a free ebook, end with a “Get the book” link. Whatever the case may be, make sure that the call to action flows with the rest of the email content and is set apart visually so that readers can’t possibly miss it.

And Don’t Forget the Unsubscribe Option

Last but not least, you want to give your readers a chance to unsubscribe. Not only is it the law to give folks a chance to opt-out of your marketing messaging, it can also help you maintain a clean email list. When your email is going directly to spam folders or getting deleted without being opened week after week, that puts you at risk of being punished by ISPs. A clean email list, with higher open rates and fewer people marking you as spam, ensures that your messaging is ending up in the inboxes of your most engaged subscribers.

Once you get the hang of creating compelling marketing emails, you must keep it up! Staying in regular contact with your subscribers is the best way to remain top-of-mind, so establish a cadence for your email marketing and stick to it.

Weekend Favs June 15

Weekend Favs June 15 written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

My weekend blog post routine includes posting links to a handful of tools or great content I ran across during the week.

I don’t go into depth about the finds, but encourage you to check them out if they sound interesting. The photo in the post is a favorite for the week from an online source or one that I took out there on the road.

  • Krisp – Mute background noise during calls.
  • Press Hunt Boost – Use AI to get your company noticed by the right journalists.
  • HelpDesk – Track and respond to customer service requests.

These are my weekend favs, I would love to hear about some of yours – Tweet me @ducttape

Transcript of How to Create a Successful Business Event

Transcript of How to Create a Successful Business Event written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Back to Podcast

Transcript

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John Jantsch: Hello, and welcome to another episode of The Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch, and my guest today is Rich Brooks. He is the founder of flyte new media, and creator of The Agents of Change Digital Marketing Conference. Something we’re going to talk about today.

John Jantsch: So, Rich, thanks for joining us.

Rich Brooks: Hey, it’s a great pleasure to be on your show, John.

John Jantsch: So, you’ve been doing this conference for a few years, and I guess the first question I have is, what’s with the name?

Rich Brooks: That’s a good question. So The Agents of Change came out of a previous conference I put on for a few years called Social Media FTW, with a few friends. But after three years, the band broke up. I was thinking about doing another conference, when I happened to run into Chris Brogan, who said, “Oh, I’d love to do something sometime.” So I’m like, “I know I have to do this conference.”

Rich Brooks: I couldn’t use the same name, and I wanted to bring in search and mobile marketing to the mix, because I feel like social is just one aspect of what we should be doing. I started going through the thesaurus, which is always a tough word for me to say, and I had this idea of, you know, an accelerant. Social media’s an accelerant. So I went on there, looked it up, but I’m like, “Accelerant World, Accelerant Expo, doesn’t roll off the tongue.”

Rich Brooks: That lead me to catalyst, which is a nice hard K sound. So I’m like, “Catalyst …” Still wasn’t working for me. I looked it up one more time, and I saw Agents of Change. If you saw my office right now, John, you’d know I’m a huge superhero nerd, and I could already envision the three Agents of Change for search, social and mobile marketing, and that is where the name came from.

John Jantsch: So, in preparation for this, because you do the conference and have your business in the city of Portland.

Rich Brooks: Yeah. Portland, Maine.

John Jantsch: Yeah, I was going to go there, because I did a little search, I said, “Fun facts about Portland, Maine.” You know how the little search snippet, you know, position zero that Google puts up there? It was five fun facts about Portland, Oregon. So even Google doesn’t know necessarily where Portland, Maine is. So I’m guessing that The Agents of Change Conference is kind of a big deal in Portland, Maine.

Rich Brooks: I like to think it is. I mean, we like to think ourselves as one of the coolest conferences in New England. It is more of a regional thing, although, we do get people from all around the country, and sometimes all around the world to visit. But I would say the majority of people who attend in person are from New England, and then we also have a virtual pass with a live stream. We actually get people literally from all over the world, including, you know, places like Australia. I’m like, “I guess they’re getting up in the middle of the night to watch.”

John Jantsch: So, we’re going to talk about conferences and putting them on, because you’ve got a little experience doing so. But, is that the only conference that you currently put on?

Rich Brooks: Yeah, I mean, we do other workshops, and I just recently started a new brand called Fast Forward Maine, where we’re putting on business workshops around the state. But the big tent pull event is definitely The Agents of Change Conference.

John Jantsch: So, let’s talk specifically about that one. Who should go to your conference?

Rich Brooks: Every human being. No, we really focus on digital marketing. So, especially in Maine, that tends to be people who have social media manager or marketer, or marketer in their title. But of course a lot of small businesses around here, so we get a lot of people who might be owners or entrepreneurs. We get a lot of agency owners who show up too, I think because they listen to my podcast for new ideas. So, in the last few years we’ve gotten a lot more agency owners and consultants.

John Jantsch: So, let’s flip then to events in general. You know, first off, I’m just going to admit, events are hard.

Rich Brooks: You said it. They are hard.

John Jantsch: So, is that something that a lot of businesses should be thinking about getting into?

Rich Brooks: I wouldn’t say a lot of businesses. But people ask me, “Why do you put on a conference? It seems like a lot of work.” I’m like, “It is. That’s the beauty of it.” I mean, how hard it is to put up another Facebook post or an Instagram photo? Anybody can do it, and everybody is doing it. But to put on an event, and I’m not saying that you need to make it as big or as small as our conference, we average between 350-400 people. But I’m saying that it immediately elevates everything that we’re doing in the state to another level.

Rich Brooks: So when people come to The Agents of Change Conference, suddenly Rich Brooks and flyte new media get a lot more visibility. Flyte new media is our digital agency. So because of that, then we get into a lot more conversations around the state, and even outside the state, about, “Oh, we should be talking to Flight about our website, or SEO, or social media.”

Rich Brooks: So if you’re struggling with maybe some of the digital marketing stuff and outreach, especially if you’re new, I strongly recommend taking a look at events, because a lot of your competition just don’t have the stomach to put it on.

John Jantsch: Yes. It sounds, as I heard you describe that, it’s a little bit of the advice where people say, “You should have a book, because it sort of elevates your status as an influencer.” In some ways that’s what you’re saying about the conference.

Rich Brooks: Absolutely. I’ve written a book, and I’ve gotten work directly out of it, so I know that works, and I’ve gotten work directly out of The Agents of Change Conference. Just as a side note, I had, for years, a friend of mine’s business, and I kept on saying, “You really need a new website. Your website was built in 1724, it’s time for an upgrade.” This person wouldn’t spend $5,000 on it. They ended up winning a ticket to the conference, of all things, came to the conference, ended up talking to my creative director, and ended up signing a deal for $21,000 work of design.

Rich Brooks: I’m like, “I couldn’t convince you after five years, and you come and you meet him for 15 minutes.” So again, it elevates you, it puts you at another level, and I think that’s great for business owners who are looking for a competitive edge.

John Jantsch: So, in web terms, 1724 was five years ago, right?

Rich Brooks: Exactly.

John Jantsch: So, what was the huge thing that you learned when you first started doing this?

Rich Brooks: So, what I tell anybody just starting off is, first of all, it’s totally okay to start small. You can start with 12 people in a room, if they’re the right 12 people. That’s one aspect. There’s no size too small, it’s about putting yourself in front of the right audience, or building the right audience.

Rich Brooks: But the other thing that I found over time as people started asking me questions, is there’s three main categories that any successful event should focus on, which I now call the three S’s. It’s speakers, sponsors, and seats, as in putting butts in them. I can speak to any one of them, but it’s about having the right people on stage, and that could just be you. It’s about bringing in some sponsors, especially when you get to a certain size, to help kind of bring down the cost, and then it’s also about making sure that you’ve got a way to make sure that you fill the seats. Because you could have the best speakers and a lot of sponsors, but your event’s going to fail if nobody shows up.

John Jantsch: So let’s talk about balancing those folks a little bit, because sometimes what a sponsor wants out of … you know, what’s a win for them, may not be a win for attendees. I mean, is that a constant struggle?

Rich Brooks: That is a struggle, and I’ve definitely made the mistake overpromising something for a sponsor, and then realizing that maybe I’ve not really treated my attendee they should have been treated. This is something I’ve learned the hard way. Of course, now with GRP, this becomes an even bigger issue. But, you know, one of the things that we say with our sponsors now is we can’t share emails anymore. That’s just not something we do, we’ll share the contact information.

Rich Brooks: But I have had some pushback in years past. With the sponsors, I think it’s just about getting up front with them and having intelligent conversations, “What do you want to get out of this event?” I’ve had people come to me and they’re like, “I just want to be associated with your brand,” other people are like, “I’m just looking for my own personal brand awareness.” Then I’ve got people who are like, “I need 15 leads out of this.”

Rich Brooks: Based on what they’re looking for, then I can help them and create something customized, so that even if I’m not giving them the name, address and blood type of every single attendee, I’m giving them the opportunity for them to succeed. Maybe that means that I’m doing something special from stage for them, or maybe it means that we’re creating some special videos that kind of pump them up, or talking about them on the podcast. But it’s about finding those wins for them, where you’re not selling your soul or the information of your attendees.

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John Jantsch: I mean, what’s been your ability to stand out? I mean, “Yay, another digital marketing conference,” right? I mean, have you found that the secret to success is maybe something bigger that … I mean, a bigger reason for doing it, maybe than, “Yay, another digital marketing conference.”

Rich Brooks: Well, I will say that when I first started, there weren’t a lot of digital marketing conferences, or there were certainly less. I’m definitely seeing that there’s some fatigue out there when it comes to digital marketing, because it seems like every week there’s five events in Portland, Maine, about digital marketing.

Rich Brooks: So, that is a challenge, it’s one that I kind of avoided to a certain degree by getting in early. But I would say that if you are looking to put on an event, my recommendation would be to niche down, and maybe to … you know, one of the challenges we have with Agents of Change is it’s not industry-specific. So if I were starting off, if I’m one of your listeners, I would be thinking about, “How can I go into just one industry and really succeed there? Whether it’s my own industry, or I just choose one of my client groups, and really focus more narrowly on that niche.”

Rich Brooks: Then you’re going to be able to attract, I think, more interested attendees who feel like the content’s been tailored for them, as well as people willing to pay more, because it’s like, “Oh my goodness, there’s a juggling conference in town, you don’t get that every day.” So, you know, they might be more willing to sign up.

John Jantsch: So, 350-400 is still a very manageable number. But as a conference grows, and as yours grew, is there anything that you’ve done to sort of intentionally keep that intimacy? I mean, you go to a lot of conferences, like I do as well, and, you know, those first year, you know, just 100 of us, you know, was really cool, and then it grew to 10,000 people, and it wasn’t the same thing anymore.

John Jantsch: Have you done anything to keep yours intentionally intimate?

Rich Brooks: Yeah, well, I think part of it is, living in Maine, you know, we have one area code. There’s only so many people around us, so that partially keeps it down anyways. But we have it in a space that we absolutely love at the University of Southern Maine, and although it can sit 500 people in the auditorium, you can really only comfortably have 400 people in the atrium during lunch or something like that. So that’s basically been our line in the sand.

Rich Brooks: The virtual pass allows us to grow a little bit bigger, but you still have that intimate feel at the event. I have no desire to be the next Inbound or Social Media Marketing World, two excellent conferences by the way, but just, that’s not what I’m looking for. I’m looking at this event as a way of raising the profile of what we’re doing here at Flight, and what I’m doing, so this is the right size for us.

Rich Brooks: There’s definitely other conferences that are going to grow, and they may have a reason to grow, but that’s just never been the focus of what we’re doing. I think everybody, as they put on their own events, needs to decide, “Why am I doing this?” Like we talked about, events are a lot of work, and there’s at least three sleepless nights I have where, “Oh my God, my speakers aren’t going to show up, or I’m going to lose money, or nobody’s going to show up for my conference.” That’s stressful.

Rich Brooks: So it’s only that it makes sense at the end, from both an enjoyment standpoint, and a business standpoint, that I keep moving forward. For me, I’ve been told by a lot of people that this is a right-sized conference. Now that means different things to different people, but for us it’s that, you know, yes, we have a Green Room, but the speakers tend to hang out with all the regular people, and they end up talking. It’s just a very intimate, friendly group. That’s the conference I always wanted to go to, so I ended up creating it myself.

John Jantsch: So you talked about the sort of addition benefits to hosting this conference. Does that, in some ways, you know, the business that comes out of it, the sort of raising your profile. Does that in some way suggest that you don’t necessarily need to be a profitable conference?

Rich Brooks: Profitable is a very important part of it, but it depends on how you’re looking at profitability. I’ll be very candid, when we look at, or transparent perhaps, at the end of each year we’re like, “Were we profitable?” Depending on the way you run the numbers, we might have made $10,000 or lost $10,000. We always make money, the question is, do we make money after we charge ourselves at our regular rate, or discounted rate? Or do we just consider that to be marketing work, and we’re not going to charge for our time?

Rich Brooks: So that’s where it’s a little bit blurry. But we usually end up somewhere around break-even, after we’ve paid for our own time. Then, like I said, we almost always get one to two jobs a year out of that, and then there’s also just … some people when they come into our doors, and I’ll be like, “So how did you hear about us?” They’ll be like, “Oh, I went to The Agents of Change a couple years ago, or I’ve gone for the last three years.” So that’s how I know the long-term game is really paying off.

Rich Brooks: For some businesses, the event has to be profitable, because that is a profit center. But for us, if we can get our marketing to pay for ourselves, I’ll sleep well.

John Jantsch: But I think that’s a big consideration, as you’re looking at, you know, the big picture of it. So, you mentioned this that people come back, or go year after year. I mean, how do you, this is a two-part question, how do you get people to attend? Then, how do you get them to come back?

Rich Brooks: So, getting people to attend is actually the trickier part, because of course, if they don’t know you, you’re trying to convince them to part with $50, $100, $500, you know, depending on the price of your conference. So, you know, we’ve had some discussions about, “Well, is it about bringing in the biggest speakers?” Maybe it’s just where I am, but speakers don’t generate sales.

Rich Brooks: We’ve had a few people, because they’ve come from Maine, like John Lee Dumas and Chris Brogan. They’re from Maine, so they pull in a certain audience. But most of the other speakers that we bring in, no matter how awesome or cool or smart they are, they just don’t bring in ticket sales, per se. So, I’m always looking myself more about the content and the delivery, than it is specifically the name. Although, I like to try and mix it up a little bit.

Rich Brooks: So, it’s about finding what people are looking for, and then trying to build a community. So, these days, I think of Agents of Change as a 365 brand, that we’re around every single day of the year, we’re putting on the podcast that kind of helps raise awareness and keep awareness up and running. We’re sending out a weekly newsletter, above and beyond the conference itself.

Rich Brooks: In terms of getting people to come back, we’ll offer incentives both the day of the conference, as well as early bird discounts that first get sent out to what we call alumni as part of it. We’re trying to develop a Facebook Group, which I have to admit is kind of my achilles heel, I’m just not great about Facebook Groups. But that’s something that we’re trying to develop as well.

John Jantsch: That’s like running a conference year round.

Rich Brooks: Exactly.

John Jantsch: So, let’s talk about sponsorships. Even if it’s not for a physical event, you know, a webinar, or, you know, a piece of content. What, in your experience, makes a great sponsorship?

Rich Brooks: I think it’s a combination of somebody who has a product or service that is really in alignment with what you’re trying to accomplish. So, you know, without naming specific names, we’ve had a bank who has been a great sponsor for us for years, and not only do they give us money, which is certainly, obviously, a critical part of it, but they’re in the community and they’re looking to build their business portfolio. So that makes this a really good place for them to be.

Rich Brooks: From a local aspect, that’s really helpful. Like I said, they’ve been a great partner, and they’ve really been part of everything that we’re doing. Then, because we’re a digital marketing conference, we also have email service providers, and CRM companies that are interested in getting in front of our audience too, especially ones that target small businesses.

Rich Brooks: So, I like to bring in those kind of companies, A, because I want people to know about the tools and services they offer, but B, also because it’s good for them to get in front of this type of audience too. My goal is to educate people like me, who might not be spending all their time on digital marketing. So, it’s, I mean, I hate to say it’s about the money, but it is about the money. You know, otherwise I’d have to charge a lot more for ticket sales. But then it’s also about are their goals in alignment with ours?

Rich Brooks: I’ve definitely pushed off a few sponsors over the years, because I just didn’t get the right vibe from them. I felt like they were just there to scape as many names as possible, and they weren’t really going to participate. There have been people who did speaker-sponsor deals in years past, and they barely gave a presentation, and that was the end of that relationship right there.

Rich Brooks: If you are going to do speaker-sponsor deals, which are pretty common, you need to expect that the person’s going to come in and act as if they were a speaker anyways, that they’re going to deliver high quality content, and not some sort of veiled sales pitch.

John Jantsch: I love the idea that you have a, especially because you’ve identified as sort of a regional conference, that you have a regional bank. Because going back to your point about, you know, additional business, well, you know, I’m guessing that there are a lot of bank customers that would be good customers of your agency.

Rich Brooks: Absolutely, and vice versa. I mean, the bottom line is, this bank has been a great supporter of ours for years, and anything I can do to help them out, also just makes me feel good. They believed in me, and I believe in them, and I think they’re a great bank. So I’m trying to do everything I can to also getting people, especially from Southern Maine, where they don’t have as big a footprint, you know, to make sure that people from Southern Maine, business owners, are thinking about them when it comes time for lines of credit, or whatever it may be.

Rich Brooks: The other thing I’ll just say about sponsorships, in terms of if listeners are thinking about this, barters are also excellent sponsors. So, we do a lot of media share, but we also do, at the end of the event, we have a networking event, and we get free beer, free pizza, and free spirits from three local companies for a couple of tickets. So they come in, they give us all this free product, things that would cost us thousands of dollars, are costing me $150. You can get a lot of mileage out of those barters, and really start developing some long-term relationships with some local companies.

Rich Brooks: For me, local is a big part of who we are and what we do. So that, again, just kind of fits in with your question of what’s important in a sponsor.

John Jantsch: Yeah, and I think that starts to shape maybe a picture for somebody that this doesn’t have to be, you know, a giant conference. I mean, you can do that same sort of model in something that’s going to maybe have 50 people come this year, and still have that same sort of small community feel.

Rich Brooks: Yeah. We put on a version of Agents of Change that was specific to the wedding industry, I did it with a friend of mine, and we found local vendors that were really trying to target those wedding professionals, and we started to develop some really nice relationships with them as well.

Rich Brooks: I love putting on live events, it just feels good, and I love bringing people together, especially because, in my job, I’m behind a computer so much of the time. When you can really, in your local community, start develop these relationships, where you start introducing people, you become much more valuable as well. So again, people are always going to be thinking about you when they need to make that next business decision.

John Jantsch: So, we’re getting close to the end of our time. Let’s start with a real negative. Bring the thing down to a crashing halt here. So, if you’re going to tell somebody, “Here’s the one thing that will doom your conference. Don’t do this, or don’t forget this.” What would it be?

Rich Brooks: One thing that would doom the conference, I would say not enough planning, or trying to go too big, too soon. Because I definitely have talked to people who have asked me to come in at the last minute to help them with their conferences, and it’s three months out, and they’re putting on something on Vegas, and they don’t have a list yet. I’m like, “That’s just not how you’re going to do it.”

Rich Brooks: There are people probably who might have been able to salvage that, but I would say, you know, start small, like you were talking about. If you start with 50 or 100 people, or even 12 people, that’s not a bad starting place. Start to understand what people are looking for. Ultimately, you need to put on an event that are going to track those three audiences of speakers, sponsors and seats. So, you really need to be paying attention to what people want, and sometimes the best way to do that is to start small.

John Jantsch: So, dependent upon when you’re listening to this show, the next Agents of Change event is going to be in the fall of 2019. You want to tell people about that, and I think you even said you might have a special offer for listeners.

Rich Brooks: I do. If people are interested in the whole digital marketing thing, you can find more information out at theagentsofchange.com. We have a physical conference on Friday, September, 28th, we also have pre-conference workshops on the 19th, and a VIP ticket as well. Right now, depending on when you hear this, either tickets will be early bird, or at least heavily discounted.

Rich Brooks: But for Duct Tape listeners, if you enter in DUCTTAPE, all one word, when you go to buy your ticket, whatever the ticket is, whether it’s a physical ticket or the virtual pass, because we have a live feed, people can tune in, you’re going to save $25 off the ticket price. Right now, they’re already pretty low, so it’s a very good deal.

Rich Brooks: Oh, so just go to theagentsofchange.com, and you’ll find all the information there.

John Jantsch: Then we’ll have it, of course, in the show notes, like we always do.

John Jantsch: So, Rich, it was great catching up with you again. Sounds like a great event, and I appreciate you spending the time. Hopefully we’ll run into you out there on the road soon.

Rich Brooks: Sounds good, John. Thank you.

How to Create a Successful Business Event

How to Create a Successful Business Event written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with Rich Brooks
Podcast Transcript

Rich Brooks headshotToday on the podcast, I visit with Rich Brooks. He is the president of flyte new media and the founder of The Agents of Change conference and podcast.

Brooks created the conference in Portland, Maine to build an event for digital marketers and to get flyte’s name out there as an industry leader. Now in its sixth year, Brooks has learned a lot along the way about creating and hosting successful business events.

In this episode, he shares what he’s learned about events. We cover everything from why a business of any size and in any industry might want to start an event, to how to manage sponsorships, to how to create an event that people are excited to return to year after year.

Questions I ask Rich Brooks:

  • Events are hard. Should all business owners be doing them?
  • How do you create an event that really stands out?
  • How do you get people to attend your event, and how do you get them to come back?

What you’ll learn if you give a listen:

  • Why the three Ss of events (seat, speakers, and sponsors) matter, and how they’re interconnected.
  • What is the role of community building in creating a great event.
  • What makes a great sponsorship for your event, podcast, or content.

Key takeaways from the episode and more about Rich Brooks:

Like this show? Click on over and give us a review on iTunes, please!

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Transcript of Flex Your Curiosity Muscle to Grow Your Business

Transcript of Flex Your Curiosity Muscle to Grow Your Business written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Back to Podcast

Transcript

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John Jantsch: This episode of The Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by Gusto: modern, easy payroll, benefits for small businesses across the country. And because you’re a listener, you get three months free when you run your first payroll. Find out at gusto.com/tape.

John Jantsch: Hello and welcome to another episode of The Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch, and my guest today is Diana Kander. She is a keynote speaker, innovation coach, and co-author of the book The Curiosity Muscle: How Four Simple Questions Can Uncover Powerful Insights and Exponential Growth.

John Jantsch: So Diana, thanks for joining me.

Diana Kander: I’m so excited to be here John. Thank you so much.

John Jantsch: So I’ve been doing this show for about 13 years, hundreds and hundreds of episodes, and I do believe you are the first husband and wife team that I have now had on the show [crosstalk 00:01:04]. Your husband Jason was on a few months ago. So it’s a first.

Diana Kander: Well we like setting records. So on behalf of the Kander family, thank you so much for this honor.

John Jantsch: So the book, The Curiosity Muscle is written as a fable, a business fable about institutionalizing curiosity. So maybe set the plot up for us.

Diana Kander: Yeah, absolutely. I mean the plot is what happens to most companies once they experience success, is they get really comfortable, very complacent, and they lose their curiosity. They start thinking that they know their customers better than the customers know themselves.

Diana Kander: And what happens is you quickly lose touch with your customers and start becoming irrelevant. And this happens frequently with large organizations when they find out that it is much harder to stay at the top than it was to get there.

John Jantsch: And you wrap it around a fictional character. That’s-

Diana Kander: Yes. A gym franchise.

John Jantsch: … And so your previous book, I think you did the same thing. Maybe you don’t have a lot of experience to answer this question, but I was once asked to write a fable type of book on referrals. And I started the process, and I found it so much harder than just telling people what to do.

Diana Kander: Well that’s how I feel about non-fiction books John. So I started writing non-fiction books, and I’m like uh, I can’t really talk about my former clients and what they went through because I’ve signed all these non-disclosures. But if I write a fiction book I can talk about everybody and everything as long as it’s a fictional story.

John Jantsch: And wink, wink. The characters in this book do not represent anyone in real life, right?

Diana Kander: No. They’re an amalgam of lots and lots of companies that have gone through very, very similar experiences. In fact, Jim Collins wrote a amazing book called How the Mighty Fall, in which he describes the same process, but in a much more scientific way. And there’s a very similar kind of loop that companies that go out of business, and this is like the fictional version of that.

John Jantsch: A lot of my listeners are small business owners. And I’m going to tell you one of the biggest problems with owning a business is that nobody promotes you to that position. You pretty much decide I’m going to do this thing. And now everybody thinks you should have all the answers.

John Jantsch: And I think a lot of small business owners feel like they have to have all the answers, and that sort of leads to not only shutting off curiosity but a whole heck of a lot of stress. So how, as a small business owner, do I get over that idea of feeling like I have to have all the answers? Everybody’s looking to me.

Diana Kander: Well I feel like it’s no different than most people who get promoted to manager. They feel like they got promoted because they had the right answers, and so they have to keep generating them.

Diana Kander: So in both of those cases I will tell you that the most successful people ask much better questions than they give answers. And they know that curiosity is the secret to unlocking exponentially better answers than whatever their gut initially says.

John Jantsch: Yeah. As one of those small business owners, it took me a lot of years to learn that. I mean people would come to me and ask me, people who worked with me or were trying to do a project for me, would ask me a question. I felt like I had to tell them what to do.

John Jantsch: In fact, I felt like that’s what they wanted. And I later leaned that they actually didn’t want the answer. They wanted me to say what would you do?

Diana Kander: Right. No. I mean you can get so much further just by asking better questions, is one of my sayings, you know. If you’re unsatisfied with the results in any part of your life, what you need to do is ask better questions, and you can significantly change them.

John Jantsch: So let’s unpack the four questions. I’m going to go over them real fast, but I want to ask you questions specific to them.

John Jantsch: So they are: what are my blind spots, am I prioritizing, am I measuring the right thing, and how can you involve others to get what you want? So we’ll tackle each of those.

John Jantsch: The first one, what are my blind spots? It actually takes a degree of vulnerability to even admit that you have those.

Diana Kander: Absolutely. So most people think of their blind spots. They relate them to their weaknesses. And so they’re like well, I know what I don’t do well, and I’m terrible at showing up on time, or whatever.

Diana Kander: But blind spots are not your weaknesses. Blind spots are things that you think you’re doing well, but are actually impacting your work. And so whatever problem it is that you’re trying to solve, or if you’re trying to understand your customers better, you always have blind spots and what you think you know about them.

Diana Kander: So creating some kind of a process or systematizing staying in touch and understanding your customers, even as they evolve and change, that will help you not have blind spots that, if you don’t uncover them, you might get blindsided one day by your customers.

John Jantsch: It’s a terribly practical thing too. I mean how many people have created a product or a service and packaged it all up and went out to the market, and the market went I don’t need that. What were you thinking? And it’s like-

Diana Kander: The majority John.

John Jantsch: You’re right. Right.

Diana Kander: The majority of people.

John Jantsch: Yeah. And so, really great question. Am I prioritizing? Number two. And boy, this one is so hard because people will have that strategy meeting to come up with the 19 things they need to get done this quarter. And I think one of the best things that question probably begs is what should we not be doing?

Diana Kander: Yeah. I mean they never teach you want to not do as a manager, a small business owner. And you cannot be busy and curious at the same time. You cannot be busy and creative at the same time. You cannot be busy and innovate at the same time.

Diana Kander: And we, as a society, are busier than ever before, and we’re producing less than ever before.

John Jantsch:  And I think one of the things about that idea of not focusing on am I prioritizing is you can make yourself busy. It’s really easy to make yourself busy.

Diana Kander: Super easy.

John Jantsch: Yeah. And so if you don’t take… I mean a couple of years ago I started the practice of taking two days a week where I just don’t do any appointments, no of these calls. They’re supposed to be my kind of focus time. And that made all the difference in the world in terms of actually getting real, important stuff done.

Diana Kander: Yeah. I think about my days as offense or defense. And defense is like when I’m answering email, when I’m doing things that other people have asked me to do. And that’s not when I’m creating valuable content, creating work for my clients.

Diana Kander: And that’s offense, right? Offense is what scores points. You’re not going to get to your goals on defense alone, by checking your email.

Diana Kander: So I always think about my days like, am I having the right proportion of offense to defense?

John Jantsch: Yeah, because let’s face it, defense pays less than minimum wage usually.

John Jantsch: So… I’m sorry for all the defensive people out there. It’s just the truth. Defense does not win championships in business.

Diana Kander: It does not score points. No.

John Jantsch: All right. So the third one, and I think people really struggle with this. Am I measuring the right thing? I mean how the hell do I know? There’s so many things I can measure. How do I know I’m figuring out the one that has impact?

Diana Kander: Well I think this is particularly integral to your licensees and people who do Duct Tape Marketing, and even small business owners. It’s so alluring to measure what are called vanity metrics. And these are numbers that make you feel good about the initiatives that you’re taking. Like how many visits to your website, how many people attended a conference, like numbers that can only go up.

Diana Kander: But they are not related to any actual substantive values for your company. So how do you measure numbers that can actually look bad for you? And to know whether or not you’re actually going in the right direction or whether you should change course.

John Jantsch: Well sometimes, though… And here’s what I struggle with: sometimes I find things that are kind of intangible to actually make… I mean they’re more the marker towards the fact that yeah, you’re making progress. And I know that sounds… I mean because it’s intangible. Right?

John Jantsch: You can’t really put a spreadsheet around how many smiles we got today as something goofy like that.

Diana Kander: Well I like to introduce two questions. I call these failure metrics. So everybody has success metrics for their projects. And those usually take a while to figure out, whether you’re going to be successful or not.

Diana Kander: The failure metrics you can figure out much sooner. And that is asking yourself how would I know if it’s not working and when would I know that? And in that case, you can measure the intangible.

Diana Kander: So if you have a speech that you’re giving, and everybody’s on their cell phones, how would you know if it’s not working? Well people aren’t requesting you to give other speeches. Or they’re just not paying attention to you during your speech.

Diana Kander: So failure metrics are those intangible things that you’re talking about. And you can find them much sooner than looking at your business at the end of the year and figuring out if you’ve hit the numbers.

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John Jantsch:  Let’s talk about failure since you keep mentioning it.

Diana Kander: Yes.

John Jantsch: You know, it’s a hot topic right now in the startup world. And I’m sort of over it. I’m sort of sick of it, because I think a lot of people have used it as this fail-fast. Or figure out, don’t be afraid to fail. And I think that that’s sort of a cop-out. I’d like to turn it around and say figure out how to succeed.

John Jantsch: Obviously if something doesn’t work, it’s teaching you something. But I’m sort of tired of the word failure, so there. I think it’s overrated.

Diana Kander:[inaudible] that entrepreneurship and innovation. You know, all these words that get used. Look, I believe in the growth mindset, which has not yet been really corrupted. And that is, no matter where you are today, you could always be better. And you can’t be better without taking missteps.

Diana Kander: You know, if I meet somebody and then we’re talking about ice skating, and I say have you ever fallen while ice skating? And they say no, I’ve never fallen. It’s amazing. I’m really quite good. Then I can definitively say you are not good at ice skating if you’ve never fallen, right? Because you’ve been hanging onto the edge. You’re not really trying anything interesting.

Diana Kander: And that’s how I feel about failure or missteps. You have to have some things that don’t work out, that push you forward to learn better. But with that said, I believe in the concept of deliberate practice, which is not just failing for failure’s sake, but figuring out your blind spots and what you need to improve at in order to increase the results of what you’re working on.

John Jantsch: Yeah. I know it’s become sort of cliché to say, but I mean to me, there is no failure. It’s just a learning moment. For me, at least.

Diana Kander: That’s right.

John Jantsch: That’s just kind of a mindset, that I’m never going to stop doing what I’m doing. Just hopefully I’m taking in the feedback and using it to get better.

Diana Kander: Yeah, but that takes a really long time for people to grasp and feel that way. And I think that they’re never going to feel that way until they experience some success. And once you experience success in your life, you can always point to a pivotal failure in your life that created it or stems from it.

Diana Kander: So my first book was a very successful book, sold a lot of copies, and kicked off my speaking career. But I never would have started writing it if I didn’t have a startup that was going horrible. And I was so ashamed and embarrassed that I started journaling as a way to deal with my feelings around it.

Diana Kander: So I think every big success stems from some kind of failure.

John Jantsch: Yeah. And we’re just talking semantics at this point. It’s really more like what you do with it that really is the only thing that really matters.

John Jantsch: So I think we’re on question number four, we haven’t tackled yet. And this is actually my favorite, because on the surface it seems pretty simple. But I think it’s more complex than that. How can you involve others to get what you want?

John Jantsch: And what I meant by the more complexity, it’d be pretty easy to say yeah, be a team player. Give others credit. But I think where this question gets really hard is how can you get others to hold you accountable as a business owner. I think that’s one of the biggest challenges. I have nobody to hold me accountable, and that would be a great way to get other people involved in helping me get what I want.

Diana Kander: Yeah. So there’s two parts to this question. The first is exactly what you’re talking about. And that is there’s been research done that if you have a goal and you share that goal with somebody you care about, you are 65 percent likely to reach that goal, which is amazing. But if you setup a regular check-in with that person where you just tell them how it’s going and what you’re planning to do next, you are 95 percent likely to reach that goal.

Diana Kander: And that is the power of accountability, on being able to reach whatever crazy dreams you set out for yourself. So that’s kind of the first element.

Diana Kander: And the second element of it is, back to how everybody puts pressure on themselves to come up with the big ideas. Oftentimes when you involve other people in coming up with the ideas, they’re going to have way better ideas than you. And they’re going to feel an ownership stake in those ideas.

Diana Kander: So if you have a small retail location and you’re trying to figure out how to get customers through the door, rather than you yourself thinking about how to do it, have a meeting with your team. And just have them brainstorm. And sometimes they’ll come up with crazy ideas, and then they’ll work on their ideas in their off time, and feel really, that sense of ownership to execute on them, much more than if you had come up with an idea and put it on them.

John Jantsch: Yeah. And I think that over time particularly, people just stop coming up with ideas if they never get asked or they never get involved. And so it’s a vicious cycle. You kind of shut down the innovation that you could have.

Diana Kander: That’s right. And they’re closer to the customer, oftentimes, than you are. So they’re going to have much better insight into opportunities than you will.

John Jantsch: So, in addition to your writing and speaking, you’re a podcaster as well.

Diana Kander: Yes. I’m a brand new podcaster.

John Jantsch: So you were telling me, and again I’m not sure when people are listening to this, if you’ll have new shows that you’re publishing. But tell me the premise for the show. Because I think, in addition to being incredibly useful, I think it’s a rather intriguing idea of what you’re doing.

Diana Kander: So in the course of writing this book, The Curiosity Muscle, I gave myself a crazy, audacious goal. So one of the subplots was a character in the book was trying to a 10 minute plank. And I thought well I’ll try it. I’m not going to get it, but if I try it I can at least write about it in a much more realistic way.

Diana Kander: And at the time, I could do a one minute plank. So 10 minutes seemed completely ridiculous to me. And I started applying these things, these principles that I teach organizations, to myself. And in four and a half months of struggling with it, but sticking with it, I did an 11 and a half minute plank.

Diana Kander: And when I tasted that level of goal achievement, I was like oh my god, what can’t I do?

Diana Kander: So I sat down with a piece of paper and listed… Okay, here are all of the things that I want to fix about myself. I have confidence issues and I have anxiety that I struggle with. 49 different items of… horrible at making eye contact and terrible at taking compliments. Oh, my god, I have insecurities about being a mom. So everything I wanted to improve about myself as a professional.

Diana Kander: And then I use the podcast as a way to hold myself accountable to working on each of these things. So every week I talk to an expert who will help me uncover blind spots in those areas that I would never have guessed on my own, and try things that I never would have thought to try.

Diana Kander: And you know I’ve been having some very significant results.

John Jantsch: So in addition to being a podcast, it’s sort of a self-improvement project that you have somebody holding you accountable in some ways. I mean, because-

Diana Kander:  That’s right.

John Jantsch: … you’re putting it out there to the world. So it’s awesome.

Diana Kander: I have this formula in my life, John, which is the scarier something is, the more people I need to hold me accountable to it, so the more I’ll broadcast it. So working on 49 different things is very scary for me and very vulnerable, so I just try to tell as many people as possible.

John Jantsch: So Diana, where can people find out more about you and your work and hopefully tune into the podcast?

Diana Kander: Yeah, they can find everything at dianakander.com. Links to books, speaking, and the podcast. And the podcast is called Professional AF, which just means really professional.

John Jantsch: So the AF means nothing, huh? Just-

Diana Kander: People ask me what it means, and it means really, really professional.

John Jantsch: … Awesome. And so that’s dianakander, E-R, .com. And we’ll have it in the show notes as well.

John Jantsch: So Diana, great book. The Curiosity Muscle. You have a t-shirt that I tell people all the time that curiosity is my super power. And I guess I need a t-shirt from you. But I’m not sure-

Diana Kander: I wanted to bring you one, but I only have them in women’s cut. So I can offer them to your daughters or your wife John. I don’t have a unisex version yet.

John Jantsch: … So I have a story, that it may or may not be true. I grew up with… I have seven brothers and two sisters. So 10 of us. And my mom used to tell a story, and like I said, I have no idea if it’s true or not. But when they would take us all somewhere, dad would say you watch the other nine and I’ll watch John. And that’s because I have a very strong curiosity muscle.

Diana Kander: Well I think that can only get you into trouble when you’re young, but get you into a lot of opportunities as an adult.

John Jantsch: I agree. I credit it with… The 30 year journey I’ve been on is just bouncing from one thing I’m curious about to another. So that’s why the title of this book intrigued me so.

Diana Kander: Thank you for being curious about the book and for inviting me on the show, and this is the most fast-paced interview I’ve ever done, but also the most exhilarating. So thank you so much.

John Jantsch: And we didn’t mention this, but you’re just down the street in Kansas City, Missouri. So it’s always fun to interview somebody in my home town, which I don’t get to do enough.

Diana Kander: I know. There’s a lot of us authors lurking around.

John Jantsch: I typically end this show, as some listeners will recall, saying I hope I bump into you soon out there on the road. And I’d say it’s probably more likely with you than many others.

John Jantsch: So thanks for joining us Diana, and again, I will end it as I always do. Hopefully I’ll see you somewhere out there on the road.

Diana Kander: Ditto John. Talk to you soon.