How Typeform Stands Out In A Crowded Market

How Typeform Stands Out In A Crowded Market written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with Karrie Sanderson

In this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I interview Karrie Sanderson. Karrie is Chief Marketing Officer at Typeform, leading brand strategy, advertising, PR, internal communications, and DEI efforts as well as overseeing the internal creative studio.

Questions I ask Karrie Sanderson:

  • [1:12] How did diversity, equality, and inclusion land in the CMO job?
  • [2:06] Another aspect in your bio too is the internal creative studio – is that a product or a part of your own marketing?
  • [2:48] Has design been a key differentiator for Typeform?
  • [3:23] As CMO, how do you look at the customer journey?
  • [5:26] Typeform really seems like more of a conversation in comparison to a regular form– how often do you fight the idea that people perceive it as ‘just a form where they only need the data’?
  • [7:55] Would you go as far as saying a form experience could be a part of your culture?
  • [8:26] What do you feel is your core differentiator?
  • [10:50] I remember the first, probably 10 years ago first time I came across Typeform and most people probably had this reaction – “Wow, that’s different.” Do you ever fight the urge to say we have to be different again?
  • [12:29] Where do you stand on your messaging for client acquisition?
  • [15:49] If you were advising a form builder, what should the experience be as soon as I hit submit?
  • [20:08] What are some of the things that you’ve found that make Typeform surveys more enjoyable or more relatable?
  • [21:49] Is there anything on the horizon for Typeform that you want to tell my audience about that you guys are working on?
  • [22:55] Where can people connect with you and learn more about your work?

More About Karrie Sanderson:

Take The Marketing Assessment:

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

John Jantsch (00:00): This episode or the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by the Nudge Podcast, hosted by Phil Agnew and brought to you by the HubSpot Podcast Network. You can learn the science behind great marketing with bite size 20 minute episodes, packed with practical advice from admired marketers and behavioral scientist. Nudge is a fast pace, but still insightful with real world examples that you can apply her recent issue. Talked about the, the idea of getting your customers, your prospects, in the habit of buying from you, or listening to you or following you. Habit based marketing, download, nudge, wherever you get your podcasts.

(00:47): Hello And welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch, and my guest today is Karrie Sanderson. She’s chief marketing officer at typeform, leading brand strategy, advertising, pr, internal communications and d i efforts, as well as overseeing the internal creative studio. So Carrie, welcome to the show.

Karrie Sanderson (01:09): Thank you. Glad to be here, John.

John Jantsch (01:11): So that’s a lot in the CMOs job, particularly diversity, equity, inclusion. I’m kind of curious how that landed in the CMO job.

Karrie Sanderson (01:20): Right. So I’ve been bene type for about a year, and one of the reasons why I joined Typeform was, was that early on, a lot of times startups don’t think about that until they Sure. Like, Hey, let’s get this business going. And the Met go, right? And then speaking with a leadership team, they were very upfront in the very beginning about how they want that to be a part of everything they do from day one and we live it. And so starting up the coms PR function, you know, we’re at that stage and really assigning someone and really thinking through how we embed it truly into our marketing motions, our internal culture. It’s been really important. So that sits with my team and I’ve got someone who’s dedicated to it and we’re in the middle of planning right now, and we are keeping that front and center as we think through our plans.

John Jantsch (02:06): So another aspect on, uh, in your bio too, that I’m obviously, I think a lot of people who know Typeform certainly know about its core functionality, But I’m curious, what’s the internal creative studio? Is that a product or is that just part of your own marketing?

Karrie Sanderson (02:19): Yeah, this is the marketing team. So we have a phenomenal studio team. And you know, part of why people know Typeform is the fact that we really did change the game in how you show up in the world and how you can show up as a brand. And so a lot of that’s been driven by just a brand expression ourselves. We can’t expect our customers to know how to do that if we aren’t doing that ourselves. So we’ve got an in-house team that really cares for and leads our brand expression across all dimensions, product, marketing, other things as well.

John Jantsch (02:48): And we can get into the specifics, but I mean, that design aspect has really been a key differentiator for Typeform, hasn’t

Karrie Sanderson (02:55): It? Yes, it has. And it was really the founder, our founder David, and he, it was really about, there has to be this better way, right? Yeah. As we get into this digital world and so much of our interactions are online, it just was feeling so one way. It’s like, why can’t we make this more back and forth, more human feeling? And it’s built into the actual design of the product. And when you do it that way, then it makes it easier to express it both for ourselves, but also let our customers express themselves that

John Jantsch (03:22): Way. So, So as a cmo, how do you look at the, the customer journey, you know, at at Typeform? I mean, you know, a lot of people would say, Well, you know, it’s a SAS online form product, you know, , I mean, there’s one way to do it, right? How do you look at the customer journey? Uh, I’m guessing maybe a little more holistically.

Karrie Sanderson (03:41): Yeah, so for me it’s about the mindset of customers. We, you’re thinking it through. When I first joined, we spent a lot of time talking about, you know, what is the promise of Typeform? You know, what is the brand? And when we think about that journey and this, it’s okay, it’s no judgment, but there are gonna be some customers or potential customers, like the TAM is still huge. So we have a lot more potential customers than we, than we do hundred 35,000 customers. But it’s people who care about that experience, right? If you’re moving out of brick and mortar into online, more and more businesses, whether you’re B2B or you’re b2c, are realizing that digital is a primary channel or at least equal. And so if you care about that experience, then what we’re trying to do with that journey of a customer who works with us is find those who are trying to lean in and provide a differentiated experience to their customers, not just at that first digital touch, but every touch along the way.

(04:34): And the way that Typeform is designed is to do that, is to make it feel, you know, two ways to build that trust. And it has inherent value for the person who’s filling out the form, because they feel like, Oh, they really want my opinion, and they took care about this experience, and it builds that trust. They’re more likely to fill out the forms, they’re more likely to have a positive brand impression. And then for us as Typeform, it’s amazing because people fill out a type form and Wow, what was that? And then they come check us out, and then like, Hey, so we have a pretty good viral product led growth experience as well for us internally.

John Jantsch (05:07): Yeah. And if you’re listening and you have not experienced Typeform, I mean, it really feels more like a conversation. It’s like, Hey, let’s get to know each other. What’s your name? Then it goes to the next field and it’s like, well, you know, how are you feeling? Did I mean it really, obviously you can make it do whatever you want it to do, but I think on its surface it feels much more conversational. How do you, I mean, I think people that get it go, Wow, that was a better experience, but do you often fight kind of the idea that people are like, Eh, it’s just a form. I need the data. You know? So I mean, and again, maybe that’s not your customer, or do you feel like that’s a fight you can win?

Karrie Sanderson (05:40): Well, it’s interesting. It’s part of the evolution of Typeform, and we’re a 10 year old company, and we have type forms, our primary product. We have Alzheimer, another product called Video Ask, which is like a video version of that back and forth conversation, which is great for asynchronous when you want video. Yeah. But we’re in this, that’s part of what I’m undertaking as cmo and we’re looking, looking at, is how do we get people thinking about it, not just as a form one time use case and gone, but that embedding within in motion, say for B2C or with b2b, or within a emotion for like customer, you know, education and helping them select the right product for Forc b2c. So we’re definitely changing our language a little bit, as opposed to like, we’re a form, we’re a survey. It’s like, no, we’re a way to humanize your brand, right Way to humanize your business, bring some human manatee back to, to your digital experience. So we are in the middle of kind of revamping and leveling and kind of expanding what people think of us and just getting started. But there are many customers who’ve already found us that way and use us that

John Jantsch (06:39): Way. Yeah. And I think also, um, you start trying to expand the use cases, right? I think a lot of people think of a form as, Oh, that’s lead capture. Yeah. You know, is we’re talking about the customer journey. It’s like, that’s who they got to know us, and now they’re starting to trust us, so they’re gonna give us their name and email. But I see people using your forms in onboarding, you know, in, you know, maybe even prep for a sales call, you know, in trying to get, you know, specs for, you know, how to quote, you know? So I mean, I think you really can use it all the way. I think people should expand how they’re thinking about using this form of data collection, I guess, you know, through the whole customer journey.

Karrie Sanderson (07:17): Yeah, and that’s actually right. Like we do see that primary is either like somebody has a research project or they need to do LEGIA and lead capture, but the opportunity is to provide that same sort of human experience at every digital touchpoint because customers are, they’re fickle and they expect a good experience all along the way. So we do integrate with a lot of the common MarTech stack, and so we’re able to be that touchpoint along the way, whether it’s legion or research or onboarding or education. And also for employees, a lot of, actually some of our larger customers use us both for employee, you know, use cases as well as for their customers,

John Jantsch (07:54): . So would you go as far as saying a brand, or I’m sorry, a form experience could be a part of your culture?

Karrie Sanderson (08:01): Yes, absolutely. If you do it right. I mean, we’ve seen so much creativity of folks using us for things that are really educational, like embedding videos and you know, quizzes or Right. You know, things that you can embed your own brand or you can pick from whatever. We have a way to show up and those folks don’t actually realize it’s a form, it’s an experience, and you can capture whatever you need to capture.

John Jantsch (08:26): If somebody was, you know, just the typical sort of sales kind of questions, like what’s the key difference between years and X? You know, how do you feel like, you know, what do you feel like is your core differentiator? Yeah,

Karrie Sanderson (08:38): I mean, I think it’s embedded into literally the DNA of the product, which is it’s, it was built to build that trust, to build that conversation. So just even the setup of it for the experience that you’re building, for whoever’s filling out the form, it can have conditional logic. So depending upon what somebody chooses, you can can take ’em down different path paths, all those types of things. But it’s that conversational one at a time, questioning that questions that really work well and build that trust. And so the differentiation is, and we know this from data, not only from ourselves, but we hear it from customers when they switch to Typeform, they get much higher response rates, they get better qualitative, please.

John Jantsch (09:13): Sure.

Karrie Sanderson (09:14): Yeah. Along the way, you know, a lot of folks are using us as part of lead gen process right now to ask people, how did you hear about us? And because they’re providing it via type form, people are more likely to fill it out and they get richer information. But the other thing too that’s differentiating is not just for the respondent, the person who fills out the form, but for the creator, like it’s so easy to build. I mean, it’s almost like a block drop in and load. So, because a lot of our customers are small businesses, you don’t have an IT department, so you wanna be able to easily set it up. You wanna be able to do this on your own. If you’re small and you have wear my money hats that you wear, or if you’re in a big company, you don’t have time. So we spend as much time focusing on the person we call the creator, and the person has to build the forms, connect the forms into MarTech stack. That’s also part of our dna, is building in that to be a great experience. Because if it’s hard to use, it doesn’t matter how great it is sometimes. And then the business value of course. So you try to pay equal attention to both of those on both sides of the software. So we show up well, no matter how you’re interacting with Typeform.

John Jantsch (10:16): And now let’s hear from a sponsor. You know, today, everybody’s online, but are they finding your website, grab the online spotlight and your customer’s attention with Semrush from content and SEO to ads and social media. Semrush is your one stop shop for online marketing, build, manage and measure campaigns across all channels faster and easier. Are you ready to take your business to the next level? Get seen, get Semrush, visit Semrush. That’s semrush.com/go to try it free for seven days. I remember the first, probably 10 years ago, the first time I came across Typeform, and most people probably had this reaction. Wow, that’s different. Do you ever fight the urge to say, we have to be different again? I mean, because everybody knows what a type form type of form is, right? You encounter one and you know, almost immediately that’s what you’ve encountered. Yeah. Do you fight that urge? Sometimes? I

Karrie Sanderson (11:09): Don’t think it’s necessarily fight the urge to be different. Again, it’s just more, are we constantly pushing the boundaries? We have design principles that we live by, you know, by being bold and pushing the envelope and being expected both, again, not only in how the product shows up to the customers, but how we show up with the people who have to build it. So it’s part of our DNA that we are design led and data informed. Sure, we do AB test todos type things. But I think when you think about the human experience first and you keep that first, then we can develop the best product because that’s what we’re telling our customers that we’re doing for them. So if we want them to be able to humanize their customer experience, we should be walking the talk. And who you are on the inside is what you show on the outside. So it, it’s, it’s, it would be easy to coast and rest. But we are a fairly restless bunch about innovating

John Jantsch (12:01): In terms of your own marketing for the firm. You know, the typical SAS acquisition model of, you know, users, you know, new users or trial users, that’s all that matters. And so people, most of the advertising, most of the messaging is about, you know, come try this for a dollar for free. You know, that kind of messaging. I’m seeing a more and more SAS companies, particularly more and more that, that have a core difference, are doing more what we might have called brand advertising for user acquisition. How do you, where do you stand on your messaging, you know, for, you know, for client acquisition?

Karrie Sanderson (12:35): Yeah. Well for me, my background is very heavy in brand. Yeah. And so I’ve, you know, worked in brand roles at some of the, you know, big players, Coke, Starbucks, some of those ones. So brand is like, just inherently in my dna. And I think it’s a matter of, um, of timeframes, right? There is absolutely a need and a place for new business development, the typical demand gen motions, you know, to kind of Google search and all the other things that you might be doing. But if you don’t invest in brand, you’re hurting yourself in the long run because it takes time. And it, and especially today where we are to be able to rely less and less on that cookie data and all those other things. Yeah. Like you don’t, aren’t clear what you stand for and people can’t have a positive experience and know who you are.

(13:19): It’s gonna be really tough to stand out. It will really get lost in that seed sameness. So we have invested in brand and we are doing work, you know, putting media out there. Mm-hmm. doing things like even this podcast, right? Yes. Like how do we show up as understanding that, that people need to know who you are as a company. People need to understand what you stand for. They need to know broader business value, where you fit in their ecosystem. Those are motions that you should be putting out there. They pay off in the long term and they create buyers down the road. Yeah. Not everybody’s ready to buy right now, but when they are, if you’ve created a good impression and if they’ve had a good positive experience with you, or they’ve learned something from you along the way, or you provided some undated content that they used and they went away and they didn’t buy, it’s a great, it’s a great way to kind of create customers of the future and then give your current customers confidence that they made the right choice in sticking with you in the first place.

John Jantsch (14:13): Well, and I think your product certainly has a playful, approachable , you know, kind of brand already. So obviously if that’s, I’m sure you lean into that, you know, that aspect, don’t you, with your branding from a marketing standpoint.

Karrie Sanderson (14:27): Yeah, we just, we did a little bit of spring and we’re doing some now a campaign about hello, Right. And it’s talking about, and we used some illustration animation in the market. We got phenomenal, you know, just views even of the video. People wanted to go watch the video on, you know, YouTube just to see what it was about. And it was really, it wasn’t, you know, didn’t have a CTA that said sign up now. It was just, what if it was different? What if you were giving your customers a different experience online? What if you’re saying hello and just starting a conversation every time you talk with them, every time you interact with them digitally? It’s possible. And uh, that’s part of what we’re doing, right? So we’re starting up some PR motions that are doing really well and executive communications, things that are usually a little bit make people nervous because you can’t get straight to the cost of acquisition, the ltv. But, you know, I’ve been marketing for a long time and I remember the days when we didn’t have all that data. Yeah, You got to think about if you keep your customer front and center and you’re really thinking about their experience when you’re putting yourself into their shoes, you’re talking to customers regularly, you’re what is your, what is working, what is not you, You can come up with the things that you know are gonna work for you if you’re listening to them. And it doesn’t always have to be an AP test.

John Jantsch (15:45): So let me address one of my pet peeves, and I’m curious how you’re advising, If you were advising a form builder, what would you advise them to? What should the experience be? As soon as I hit submit,

Karrie Sanderson (15:58): But after you hit submit.

John Jantsch (15:59): Yeah. So I’m done filling out the form here. Let me line up, Let me tee up the pet peeve. I hate forms that I have no idea what happened. Did it go anywhere? Are you gonna do anything? Is there anybody out there? So, so what are some best practices, or not even best practices, better practices for, you know, for making somebody feel like the experience is continuing after I’ve submitted the data?

Karrie Sanderson (16:22): Well, again, depends upon where in that funnel you are, right? But I think some kind of a confirmation that it’s been submitted is standard and it’s built in form of course. But then you can also offer, you know, when somebody builds a type form, they can put as many pages as they want after that submit. So you can say, somebody will follow up with you, here’s more information. You can send it to websites, You can do different things. I, I do, I think that’s an interesting pet peeve. I just learned something from you that I’m gonna be thinking about a little bit more about what that’s practices of what to do. You do wanna know, did it go through? I do know that I don’t like it when I submit a form and I go straight to some marketing page about something. I’m like, it doesn’t connect, right. Yeah, yeah, yeah. To connect. But the experience is interesting. We don’t, you know, require any field, it’s up. It’s totally up to the type form person. So if they wanna make it anonymous, they can, If they want to ask for emails, they can. So it really is up to the business Yeah. To decide.

John Jantsch (17:17): So, okay, well I will give you my, um, my take. And, and again, you’re right, it depends on where this is. Yeah, I’d love hearing, but particularly somebody that’s just now maybe for the first time requesting some information from you, I love it. To go to a video of, you know, a one minute expression of you know, how thrilled you are to meet them or how thrilled you are that you’re interested in this content and here’s exactly what’s gonna happen next. You know, to me that is just a great, it’s a great way for them to continue to build, for you to continue to build trust, which is really, you know, in many stages of the journey, that’s what you’re doing.

Karrie Sanderson (17:50): Yeah, I think that’s a great suggestion. One of the things that, that probably why I wasn’t visualizing what you were asking is that you can do that up front in Typeform. You can add that in at the very beginning along, hey, this is next question. It’s all about this. Here’s a short video you can watch before you answer it if you’d like. So the way that you can embed it, it is more like a conversation. So, or it can be just a straight up form if that’s what you want. Yeah. With your logo and branding and some cool pictures.

John Jantsch (18:15): Well, and I love some that I’ve encountered where, you know, people are clearly in some ways making fun of the experience that we all go through now and really kind of making very light about, now I’m gonna ask you for all this, you know, personal information and . I think the more you can do that, actually I’m sure your research would show this as well, more responses you’re gonna get. Because people are like, this is not a form, this is , you know, this is fun. True

Karrie Sanderson (18:41): Thing that’s super interesting that we find out in this brands are different than they were 10 years ago or 15 years ago, 15 years ago or longer. When you had a brand and you had the messaging, it was a one way you were like, Here’s what I want you to learn about me and you would just put it out there. Yeah. The consumers today, because everything is digital, they really expect it to be a two way conversation. They wanna give their input and they wanna see that you’re hearing them, whether that’s through a social channel or through a form or whatever that is. And you can only get that. Is it that feedback is such a gift if you’re running a company or you’re running a marketing department because there’s signal in there about what you’re doing. Well, there’s signal in there about what you may need to improve, maybe what competitors are doing well.

(19:23): And if you listen to it, your customer becomes a part of evolving the brand and they feel more vested like, Oh, this brand is changing along with input. I’m giving them, I they get more loyal and more likely to recommend, you know, I was thinking about the stages you were talking about for what you talk about, like buy, repeat, refer. Right. If they feel heard, if they feel like, like that you’re evolving along with them and, and if you aren’t giving them an experience to give that feedback along the way that feels human, it’s a lot harder to get that information.

John Jantsch (19:53): Yeah. So, so, so let’s talk about surveys and then we’ll probably run it be out of time. But you know, a lot of times forms people will slug through them because I want the thing on the other. So sometimes we’ll do that surveys, a lot of times it’s like, nah, I’m doing you a favor, , you know, to fill out this survey. So what are some, some of the things that you’ve found that make Typeform surveys more enjoyable, if that’s the right way to say that, Or at least more completable?

Karrie Sanderson (20:16): Yeah, again, it’s that it’s the way that you can set it up, right? So what you, there’s plenty of room to put a video element in and give context and say, Hey, this next question’s about this, or to show a visual or to say you’re this far along, to skip questions easily if the based on their answers. So, you know, nothing worse than taking a survey we’re like, Yep, Ana answered above. Like, nope, you can skip all that behind the scenes. The creator can set it up and to your point, you know, at the end what happens next is a good thing to do. Yeah. And then, you know, surveys are tricky cuz it depends upon how long they are, there’s best practices and that kind of thing. But putting yourself in the customer’s shoes, whether it’s a form, a survey, Legion, anytime you do that, an employee, you know, thing will inform how you build it.

John Jantsch (21:02): There’s an interesting, I’m sure you’re familiar with Survey Monkey of course. And there’s an interesting attribute that they have that I’ve always find puzzling, not puzzling, but not sure what I find , but they, you build a survey and as you get ready to publish it, it tells you, eh, about 50% of the people will fill this out , you know, I’m like, Huh, what are they ba obviously they basically, if you ask a bunch of demographic questions or if it’s too long or something like that, but always find that interesting that they can calculate that kind of on, on the spot. But obviously it’s a, you know, it’s a tool meant to help you build a better survey I guess. But uh right.

Karrie Sanderson (21:36): Um, yeah, there’s definitely, you know, depending upon what it’s for, but again, I would say for that form, it maybe it’s part of, it’s just a format. You web a wall of questions, you don’t know where the ends I would maybe leave too .

John Jantsch (21:48): Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. So, so what’s anything on the horizon for Typeform that you want to tell my audience about that you guys are working on?

Karrie Sanderson (21:56): Yeah, I mean we’re always innovating with Typeform, which is great. One thing that we just released, which has been a very popular request, but something that, you know, we wanted to make sure we got it right is something called Brand Kits, which is essentially, especially for some of our customers who across the organization, they have different people using Typeform and you want it to all stay on brand, you know, so you can make sure everybody’s using the right logo, you can make sure there’s the visuals and graphics and that so people can use the form anyway. They want the Typeform any way they want, but with within their branding, which is nice. And we also have a product called Video Ask, which is phenomenal. It’s a, it’s more of a back and forth kind of video ay way that a lot of folks use for customer service. We have a lot of realtors using it, but it’s a way to get that in more personal one to one feedback in a, in a video way, which is fantastic and people can also respond via text. But that’s a product that we launched not that long ago and it’s really getting some traction and an exciting thing.

John Jantsch (22:53): Nice. Awesome. Well, Carrie, I really appreciate you taking time to stop by the, the Duct Tape Marketing podcast. I always invite people to tell if you want to connect with you, obviously it’s typeform.com for the company, but if you wanna invite people to connect with you anywhere in particular.

Karrie Sanderson (23:07): Yeah, I’m LinkedIn is definitely my preferred social channel, so Carrie Sanderson, I’m just at LinkedIn, you’ll be able to find me easily. I would love to hear from folks and yeah, it’s, it’s been a pleasure. I really appreciate you inviting me on onto the podcast. Thank you.

John Jantsch (23:23): Awesome. Well hopefully we will run into you one of these days out there on the road in real life as well.

Karrie Sanderson (23:28): Yes, in real life would be good.

John Jantsch (23:31): Well thanks

Karrie Sanderson (23:31): Gary. Thank you so much, John. Thank you.

John Jantsch (23:33): Hey, and one final thing before you go. You know how I talk about marketing strategy, strategy before tactics? Well, sometimes it can be hard to understand where you stand in that, what needs to be done with regard to creating a marketing strategy. So we created a free tool for you. It’s called the Marketing Strategy Assessment. You can find it @ marketingassessment.co. Check out our free marketing assessment and learn where you are with your strategy today. That’s just marketingassessment.co. I’d love to chat with you about the results that you get.

This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by the HubSpot Podcast Network and Semrush.

HubSpot Podcast Network is the audio destination for business professionals who seek the best education and inspiration on how to grow a business.

 

 

Everybody’s online, but are they finding your website? Grab the online spotlight and your customers’ attention with Semrush. From Content and SEO to ads and social media, Semrush is your one-stop-shop for online marketing. Build, manage, and measure campaigns —across all channels — faster and easier. Are you ready to take your business to the next level? Get seen. Get Semrush. Visit semrush.com/go to try it free for 7 days.

 

A Startup Journey With GrubHub Founder Mike Evans

A Startup Journey With GrubHub Founder Mike Evans written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with Mike Evans

In this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I interview Mike Evans. Mike founded GrubHub in his spare bedroom and grew it into the multi-billion-dollar online food delivery colossus that is a household name. Since leaving GrubHub, he founded Fixer.com, an on-demand handyperson service focused on social impact. He lives in Chicago with his wife, daughter, dog, and bike. He’s also the author of a book that is to be released later this year —Hangry: A Startup Journey.

Key Takeaway:

The journey of GrubHub began late one night in Mike Evan’s spare bedroom when he was hungry and tired and looking to get pizza delivered. At the time, there was no seamless way to know what places were open and which restaurants delivered. So, as an avid coder, he created GrubHub in his spare bedroom to figure out who delivered to his apartment. Over the next decade, Mike grew his little delivery guide into the world’s premier online ordering website. In doing so, he entered the company of an elite few entrepreneurs to take a startup from an idea all the way to an IPO. In this episode, I talk with Mike about his founding of GrubHub and he shares details of his entrepreneurial journey.

Questions I ask Mike Evans:

  • [1:46] Could you give us a high-level overview of the startup of Grubhub to IPO to what you’re doing now?
  • [2;47] When you did this was it kind of a like lark – meaning you created it because you could?
  • [3:38] Did you knock on restaurant doors saying ‘I have this idea, do you want to be a part of this?
  • [6:06] Was there a moment where you thought this is actually going to work?
  • [7:15] At what point did you say we’ve gotta go get money?
  • [7:52] Was there competition that you had to buy up, and/or what type of acquisitions did you feel like you had to make?
  • [9:19] You put in a lot of hours – there are a lot of entrepreneurs and startups some of who don’t achieve anywhere near the level of success you did – what toll did that take on your personal life?
  • [12:51] Right up to IPO at which point you quit, which I think some people would actually say, you made it now, why are you quitting? So what’s the story behind that and how do you position that story?
  • [15:53] Are you an investor in GrubHub still?
  • [16:08] Let’s talk about the bike across America, how many days were you riding?
  • [16:23] Did you meet people along the road that knew who you were?
  • [18:48] Where was the best beer?
  • [19:45] What can you tell us about Fixer.com?
  • [20:46] Will the expansion of this be much slower?
  • [23:25] Where can people find the book and connect with you?

More About Mike Evans:

Take The Marketing Assessment:

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

John Jantsch (00:00): This episode or the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by the Nudge Podcast, hosted by Phil Agnew and brought to you by the HubSpot Podcast Network. You can learn the science behind great marketing with bite size 20 minute episodes, packed with practical advice from admired marketers and behavioral scientists. Nudge is a fast pace, but still insightful with real world examples that you can apply her recent issue, talked about the, the idea of getting your customers, your prospects, in the habit of buying from you, or listening to you or following you. Habit based marketing, download, nudge, wherever you get your podcasts.

(00:48): Hello and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch. My guest today is Mike Evans. He’s the founder of GrubHub and he founded in his spare bedroom and grew it to a multi billion dollar online food delivery. Colossus, that is a household name, probably be, became even more so the last couple years says leaving GrubHub. He founded fixer.com and on demand, handy person service focused on social impact. He lives in Chicago with his wife, daughter, dog, and I bet you it’s more than one bike if I had the gas. Yeah, that’s true. But any , I mean, Mike, Mike walk into the

Mike Evans (01:25): Show, you can never have enough bikes. That’s not true. You can have enough. I just haven’t hit that theoretical

John Jantsch (01:30): . Thanks for having enough. I should have wanted to mention also that we’re gonna talk about is a new book hangry a start up journey. So for people who don’t, certainly, I mean, again, GrubHub house, household name, people don’t know your story though. Maybe just give us kind of the high level startup to, you know, IPO to now what you’re doing.

Mike Evans (01:52): Yeah, so it started cuz I wanted a pizza and I could kind of just stop there. I, I literally just wanted a pizza and I was a software developer and so I wrote a version, one of, of a neighborhood delivery guide showed me all the restaurants delivered to me. That hobby turned into a business. That business grew, you know, I obviously spent a lot of time and energy on it about about 13 years and grew it all the way through the ipo, after which I, I literally quit and literally rode off into the sunset. I rode my bicycle from Virginia to Oregon. And so yeah, that’s, that, that’s the story that’s detailed in the book. Sort of a personal journey a lot more than the bus. You know, there’s some business elements to it, but it’s really about the personal experience of starting something from nothing.

John Jantsch (02:36): It, it’s really more of a memoir than I suppose a business guide.

Mike Evans (02:40): Yeah, it is, it is. Definitely. It’s a business memoir, in fact. Yeah. So it’s sort of a mash up of those two things. did some like travel writing thrown in too. Totally.

John Jantsch (02:48): All right, so let’s go back to the, well, I, you, I was gonna go back to the early days, but now you made me go back even farther when you did this, was it just kind of a lark, like, because I can, I’m gonna create this thing.

Mike Evans (02:59): No, I literally was hungry and the yellow pages was a disaster. Certainly, and I talk about this a little bit in the book, that it’s true for most entrepreneurs that there’s a push and a pull to starting a business and the push is like pushing you out of being able to work for other people. It’s very hard for people about have that mindset. It’s, I’m kind of unemployable. I can’t handle having a boss. And so I was like, well, I better be my own boss then. So there was a push and then there was this thing that was a hobby that I was like increasingly aware, had legs and I, and it could run. And so I decided to sort of cast caution to the wind, quit my job and go for it with starting this food delivery.

John Jantsch (03:38): So, so I’m envisioning because you, you actually, both of your businesses really are, you’re creating the supply end of demand in a lot of cases, right? You have to balance that because without restaurants you kinda ha not gonna have customers. Without customers, you’re not gonna have restaurants, Right? So did you, I’m envisioning you like going down the street in Chicago somewhere knocking on restaurant doors and saying, I have an idea, you want to like be part of this.

Mike Evans (04:02): I did do that. I literally did that. But you know what you’re talking about a little bit right now. So when you have these kind of businesses that have these two different sides of a network, they’re called marketplaces and, and they suffer, they all suffer from this problem called, you know, the, you know, called the chicken and the egg problem. Like if without any restaurants it’s not valuable, it’s diners. Diners, it’s not valuable to restaurants. My answer to this problem is to cheat. You have to figure out a way to cheat to get an unfair advantage. And for me, what that was, I actually went and picked up the paper menus for restaurants and scanned them. And so when a customer came to the website to when a diner came to the website, they would see all of the re all of the menus for the city. And then the ones at the top of the list were the ones that they could order online from. Uh, so I literally had to walk the entire city of Chicago and the entire city of San Francisco and pick up every single menu. And so that was my way to cheat is I, as I sort of bypass the chicken and the egg problem by creating value for one of the sides. Yeah. Before I sold anyone.

John Jantsch (05:00): Yeah. So a lot of the restaurants were already seeing something in it for them before you really even got them to sign up, I guess.

Mike Evans (05:07): Yeah, I, it was true that when I started selling online ordering as like a package, the restaurants knew who I knew who the website was already. A lot of them, I had never talked to ’em, I had just put the menus online and they loved that we sent them traffic, but then it, that made it certainly a softer like opening when I walked in the door. It certainly, it wasn’t super hard, although restaurants get sold a lot of stuff and so I got kicked out of a lot of restaurants

John Jantsch (05:30): Early on. Yeah. And it’s a lot of people walking in the door at lunchtime trying to sell ’em stuff, right? Yeah. You don’t

Mike Evans (05:35): Do to sell restaurants, You don’t walk into noon, you walk at 2:00 PM after the long dress is over. And actually, and I literally have an anecdote about this in the book. I actually read like as a tip, like as a joke, you can walk in through the alleyway instead of the front door. And so I started doing that. I started actually walking on the alleyway behind the restaurants and walking in the back door, which got me, I won’t say violently kicked out, but it was certainly a little bit more emphatically ejected out of a few restaurants. But that’s just part of the rejection of doing sales.

John Jantsch (06:05): Yeah, yeah. So was there a moment, and probably this is in hindsight, where you thought this is actually gonna work.

Mike Evans (06:12): Yeah, when, So it was started as a delivery guide and we tracked the orders that came into the restaurant through a phone system, which was great at the time. And that phone system ended up being like sort of a, people really hated it later in the businesses, in the business life cycle, like politicians and attorney generals, everybody hated that phone system. But the restaurants liked it at first cause it tracked how effective their advertising was. And I was kind of onto something. I had quit my job. I was making about half as much money as I did as a software developer, which wasn’t great, but it was like, okay, this is all right. But when I switched from that to online ordering the revenue and the business tripled with the same customer base and, and I realized just how much friction there was in the ordering process. Like people say, Why don’t you just call on the phone? And actually it turns out there’s a lot of reasons you don’t want to call on the phone. Yeah. Or an inaccurate busy restaurant, right? Like phone calls are inaccurate. There’s a lot of reasons. And so when that revenue tripled and suddenly I was like, Oh, I can hire people to help me, like this thing is gonna work. That was a big moment That was, there was several, but that was probably the biggest one.

John Jantsch (07:15): So at what point did you say, we’ve gotta go get money?

Mike Evans (07:20): So I ran the business for four years without taking investment where it was just whatever we could grow based on the revenue you’re generating. Now that’s, it’s a little bit misleading in the sense that the investment, I could write the software myself because I got a software engineering degree from mit. So in some sense that was the investment, right? Learning how to code myself was the investment. But in terms of actually taking outside like cash from a venture capitalist, it was, it was four years in, it was in 2006. So I started in 2002 and in 2006 we took financing in.

John Jantsch (07:52): So I know that you talk about acquisitions in the, uh, in the book, but were, did you buy up competition or was there competition anywhere? What type of acquisitions did you feel like you had to make

Mike Evans (08:03): There? It was a, it was the kind of a business where there was always competition. I mean, I think there were probably a hundred other companies that were trying to do what we were doing at one point. Simultaneously, there’s probably two or 300 that came and went over the course of that, you know, 13 years. And you know, there were little ones, like there was a company called Order Up and there was another company called Quick Order and Quick Order did the online ordering for Domino’s Pizza. And so they already had a pretty robust technology and then all the way up through Living Social and Group on started competing with us. And then ultimately Uber launched their own delivery thing, Uber. And so there was always competition. And so the thing that really we focused on when all these sort of competitors came up was how do we just make the best possible product for the customer? And that way we don’t have to outcompete them by spending we, you know, it’s not just marketing dollars spent Unintelligently, it was about repeat purchase rates and referrals and retention of the customers that we had spent so much money to acquire. And then, and so that was a big part of the Secret of Success and why we outgrew everyone and we’re the first one to ipo.

John Jantsch (09:08): And now let’s hear from a sponsor. You know, today everybody’s online, but are they finding your website, Grab the online spotlight and your customer’s attention with Semrush from content and SEO to ads and social media. Semrush is your one stop shop for online marketing, build, manage and measure campaigns across all channels faster and easier. Are you ready to take your business to the next level? Get seen, get Semrush, visit Semrush, that’s semrush.com/go to try it free for seven days.

(09:43): You do talk in the book about the amount of hours I’m, you know, I’m thinking the walking all of Chicago, walking all of San, So, you know, you put in a lot of hours. What, like a minute, like a lot of entrepreneurs, startups, some of who don’t achieve anywhere near the level of success you did. What toll did that take on your personal life?

Mike Evans (10:02): Yeah, it was certainly, it was challenging. I didn’t have kids at the time, so certainly I didn’t have that like competing for my time. But in terms of my marriage and my friendships and things like that, yeah, it took a really bad toll. It’s very hard to, it’s hard to spend that much time on a business, um, and then develop healthy relationships. I prioritized my marriage and so that, that did fine. But I ended up hiring a lot of my friends. And so I ended up not having really a lot of relationships outside of work, which I think is actually a pretty typical story for most people who start businesses that, that sort of take off. You wanna share in the upside share the wealth, right? Yeah. And so you wanna include your friends, but what that ends up doing is it, it ends up for very rich work relationships, but actually a sort of a posity of personal relat. Right?

John Jantsch (10:44): Right. Yeah. Plus I’m sure you had many times when even when you weren’t working, you couldn’t stop working because you’re always thinking of what’s next, right,

Mike Evans (10:52): . Yeah, I, there’s different types of, you can’t stop working. There’s, the website went down and no one can order or the my, the worst one, I was on a camping trip and this story is actually not in the book. This anecdote didn’t make the cut, but I was on a camping trip and after we place, after an order, the orders or in the early days got faxed to the restaurant. So we had fax and then our phone confirmation system will call and say, you know, type in the four digit number on the bottom of the page to confirm that you got to the fax one all the way through that system got like bugged out one day and it just started like spam calling the restaurants like 10 times a minute.

John Jantsch (11:27): So, Oh

Mike Evans (11:28): Man. And so for like 36 hours, cause I was on a camping trip and so talk about like not being able to take him up. I came back and like half of my restaurants were like, We’re done. We can’t, we can’t. I’m like, well I went, I left for one day, but what happened? And so it does, that kind of stuff does happen. And so there’s the, I can’t stop thinking about it because I’m thinking about the next thing and then there’s the, I can’t stop working on it. Cause literally when I go away, everything falls apart.

John Jantsch (11:55): Are you a fan or have you watched the show? The Bear

Mike Evans (11:58): The Bear? No, I haven’t seen The Bear.

John Jantsch (11:59): Oh, okay. Well it’s filmed in Chicago. It’s about a restaurant and one of the episodes they, they turn on online ordering. They were like an old school restaurant that somebody talked to me. They turned online, online ordering, like the thing just exploded and all these orders were coming out of it. They didn’t know what to do or how to handle it. So I’m envisioning that a little bit.

Mike Evans (12:15): I mean that was an experience, you know, when we ran super, we, you know, we started with, it was in my apartment. It got to the point where we ran a Super Bowl app and the amount, just the amount of traffic that your web servers like get hit with, I mean, it was millions of people are going to our website. It was very effective from a branding and awareness perspective. But like conversion did not work. Like the site crashed, like yeah, it was, it didn’t quite crash, it just bogged down. But people also weren’t ordering by the time the Superbowl started, you’re not ordering pizza. So didn’t result in a lot of orders right away. But yeah, I mean it was, it was a whole experience to sort of see that, those kind of volumes.

John Jantsch (12:52): So you mentioned this, so I’ll just ask you to tell us a story that, that you know, right up to IPO at which point you quit, which I think some people would actually say, You made it now, why are you quitting? Yeah. So what’s, what’s the story behind that? Or is there, you know, I know there is a story behind it, but, uh, how would you, how do you position that story now?

Mike Evans (13:12): Yeah, I think one of the things that surprised me the most about when people talk about that moment when I decided to quit, they usually ask me the question, Well, why did you quit? And I respond with, Look, you should have a reason to stay at things, not a reason to quit. Right. You should, there should be a reason that you’re act, There should be a clearer connection between my activity that I spend every day and my goals for my life. And if I can’t draw a line between those two things, I need to either change my goals or change my activity. And that’s just where I ended up after the ipo. Like, there was nothing else I wanted to accomplish with that business. I wasn’t in it for the vanity or for the, um, you know, so the bells and whistles of running a public company, that that wasn’t super appealing to me.

(13:52): And so I finally had this opportunity to like go do a long bike ride. Like I, I, I had thought about doing, you know, hiking the Appalachian Trail or doing some sort of big adventure thing. And what I ended up doing is riding my bicycle across the United States. It was great. It was a great decision, especially coming after the investment banks and the IPO and the wealth and the private jets that are all involved in that process to, I’m having a peanut butter Jan peanut butter and jelly sandwich at a campsite in rural Tennessee. Like it was, it was quite the contrast. And I, I think it was healthy for me.

John Jantsch (14:25): Well, and I think, again, this is with me not knowing, I mean, in the 20 minutes you and I have been together, I, I’m guessing that the culture of that company would’ve been hard to keep.

Mike Evans (14:38): Yeah, I think it’s true. I mean, culture’s never static anyway. The, I any, at any company, it’s dynamic. Yeah. And if you’re not controlling or influencing where it’s going dynamically, then it’s going somewhere you don’t want it to go. Right. And it’s true that, you know, know at that time we had close to 4,000 employees, which is a big difference in

John Jantsch (14:55): The one you were out of friends at that point, right? Yeah. To hire

Mike Evans (14:58): . And so is that’s absolutely, and we had merged with another company and so it, it had developed a lot and there were a lot more sort of cooks in the kitchen in terms of where that culture was going. And then layer on top of that, you know, the public investors add a lot of pressure to a company, uh, to make quarterly earnings numbers. And those sort of come before anything, before customer service and before product. And, and so those kind of things, like, it’s just this sort of pressure over time that changes the company. And I don’t think for the better. I don’t, I think it’s really hard for public companies to keep that level of sort of their cultural touchstones. It’s, I think that’s really hard.

John Jantsch (15:33): Yeah. Yeah. It’s sort of a different set of masters at that point. This is just a curiosity question. Are you an investor still?

Mike Evans (15:40): I have invested disastrously in a number of startups.

John Jantsch (15:43): Well, no, I actually met in GrubHub, little shareholder.

Mike Evans (15:46): No, I, I sold the last time I shared about a year at Dry Luck. So I haven’t, I have not had a horse in that race as the gotcha as DoorDash He Eats and Gro Hub has sort of gone head to head. I’ve been like just eating popcorn from the side like everyone else, like okay, Wells. I mean, I do still order on the Gro Hub app, obviously I’m not gonna like switch apps, but yeah, I don’t know in any of the company. Anyway.

John Jantsch (16:08): So let’s talk about the Bike across America. How many days?

Mike Evans (16:12): It’s 79 days, which is typical. It takes most people between 80 and 90 who do it. Okay. There’s a few hundred that do it every day, every

John Jantsch (16:19): Year. And you, you told people obviously of your plan. So what kind of, did you meet people along the road that knew who you were, knew what you were doing? Or was it just like you’d bump into somebody and you’d strike up a conversation?

Mike Evans (16:32): Yeah, there’s, there’s a website with a really weird name. It’s called Crazy Guy on a bike.com and Okay. It’s like a, it’s like a website to meet up with other people who are into this long distance touring idea. Okay. So I had met like maybe online, I had probably met like 15 people who were planning to do the trip of that 15, only three or four of us actually started. So there was a lot of people who wanted to do it. But when you get down to like actually on the bike pedaling, there’s a lot of barriers between I am two and I’m actually there. So I knew maybe I think three or four people before I started and then I met like six or seven. And what ends up happening is you end up leapfrogging the same group of people, like they get in front of you a bit, then you get in front of them. And so you really, whoever you meet by day seven are kind of the people that you’re gonna meet most of the most that are gonna be with you sort of as you go across the coast. Yeah. And so I started solo, but by the time I got to Kansas I was riding with two other guys 24 7, we became close friends.

John Jantsch (17:30): Yeah. I actually have heard people describe what you just described for people that go like out on the at or the Pacific coast that you end up bumping into the same people. I live in Colorado and like I can’t imagine riding over who’s your pass.

Mike Evans (17:42): Yeah. It’s funny because after riding over who’s your pass? I bought a house in Silver Thorn because I loved it so much. So who’s your, your pass was easy, which is weird. Yeah. The reason it was easy cause I is, because I rode 2,500 miles before I got to pu. Right. And so the Appalachians were really hard, they were steep, I wasn’t ready for ’em, I wasn’t physically conditioned, but I got over them. I took some rest days and then I rode across Kansas and then, uh, the sort of the last city, you’re in the plains, you sort of get through the east southeastern Colorado desert and you get to Pueblo and then from there it’s just three days straight up. Yeah. With 9,000 foot climb and it’s stunning. And then after you pass through your pass, it’s like a 50 mile per hour downhill into Breckenridge and it’s just amazing. It’s so much fun. . So yeah, I mean it was, it, the mountains were tough, but by that point I was much stronger. It was really

John Jantsch (18:30): Rewarding. Yeah. Yeah. That makes sense. No, it is gorgeous. I am, I’m about, I don’t know how many miles, 50 miles maybe ish west of Silverton.

Mike Evans (18:38): Yeah. That year in Golden, right? Is that

John Jantsch (18:39): I I, that’s my town address, but I’m up in rural area, but at about 9,000 feet. So let’s talk, Oh, I did have one question. Where was the best beer

Mike Evans (18:51): ? Oh, you know, it was funny. There was a, I know exactly the answer to that question. There was a brew pub that, that was like, right, right before the border into Colorado. I think it was Nickerson, Kansas. It was like a AST pub and it was like this amazing burger and this and these, like these, there was a brewery and so they had like, I remember it was like two in the afternoon, I had like three beers and then I tried to get back on my bike and I was like, I’m done. I’m like, I gotta find a campsite. This is not working. It was really good.

John Jantsch (19:21): So I’ve spent a lot of time in Kansas. I can’t imagine that there was a gastro pub in Nickerson, Kansas.

Mike Evans (19:26): Yeah, there, there was. It was right before we hit the Colorado sign, the pass on the border and it was like in the middle of nowhere. But it was a really, Were

John Jantsch (19:34): You on 50? I don’t

Mike Evans (19:35): Remember. No, it wouldn’t have been an interstate. Cause it, all, the roads are quite, so the next town was Sheridan Lake in Cuba County.

John Jantsch (19:43): So a little bit south.

Mike Evans (19:44): Yeah, it was really far south.

John Jantsch (19:45): Yeah. Yeah. All we better spend some time talking about Fixer. You’re late at Adventure I guess. So maybe I’m actually familiar with it because I, we have some clients that are in the remodeling space, but others may not know about it yet. So maybe give us a heads up on what fixer.com is.

Mike Evans (20:00): So Fixer is an on-demand handy person service. Similar in some ways to Grow Hub in that you can go on, you can see exactly when people are available, schedule it, have them come up to your, come to your home. The big difference is that instead of working with, you know, in Grub was existing restaurants with Fixer, we actually employed the workers full time. And so it’s not just a contractor like sort of matching service. We actually take responsibility for the quality of the work and we train people from scratch. And the whole idea behind it is we’re trying to reboot and entry path into the trades and the gender inclusive and create a great consumer experience in the home because we have a lot of control and a lot of influence over the actual experience in the home. It’s in Denver, a Chicago, a Seattle, Phoenix, and Dallas.

John Jantsch (20:45): Yeah, that, that was my next question. The expansion, you know, will be much slower won’t it, because the fact that you’re actually building both sides of it now. It’s like you’re going in every town and building a restaurant.

Mike Evans (20:54): Yeah, I kind of feel like saying, hold my beer, watch this , it’s not gonna be slower. It’ll be much faster. And part of that is because our, the first couple of fixers that we hire in a market are experienced people because they become the mentors for the trainees who join, you know, as the fourth and fifth and sixth employee in the market. And so we’ll be opening up the hiring platform across about a hundred cities over the next two years. So it should be actually quite a bit faster at the expansion and that, that’s the plan anyway. And it’s great because, you know, the, it is like, I don’t have to, I’m actually pretty handy, but I don’t like doing it . And so it’s really nice to like have somebody be able to come in and do the work. And then it feels really good that I know it’s a really good job. It’s high paying, it’s oriented towards training new people and bringing new people into the trades. And so it’s a really satisfying experience in addition to it working. Yeah,

John Jantsch (21:43): It’s really interesting because obviously, I mean, you’re tapping into this, that’s obviously an area that, I mean, you talk to remodeling contractors or anybody needing skilled labor and they can’t find people right now.

Mike Evans (21:53): Yeah. That’s, that is the problem we set out to solve is, is creating an entry path into the trades. You know, the handy person work is typically, you know, it’s uh, there’s, it’s very broad, so you have to be able to do a little plumbing, a little electrical, little carpentry. We, you know, you develop what we call core skills, but, but the specialist jobs like electricians and plumbers and things like that, they need a broad base to, to be able to hire from, to even be able to train somebody to be an electrician. You have to, they have to have a certain set of core skills before you can even start there. And so, I mean, my hope is that this really ends up being a very large business that creates, that starts to rebalance um, the supply of skilled trades people relative to the demand. Cuz it’s all outta whack right now. There’re just aren’t enough people in the trade. Yeah. Which means they should be paid more by the way. They

John Jantsch (22:38): Well, yep. Obviously they are being paid more I think now . Yeah,

Mike Evans (22:41): I mean that is, yeah, that is true. The, the rates are certainly going up for trades people.

John Jantsch (22:46): Yeah. It’s funny as I listen to you talk about that, I’ve lived in mostly older homes, my home ownership life and we’d have people come in and work on something and they’d pull a wall off and go, I don’t even know what I’m looking at. You know, , it’s like knob and tube wiring or you know Yeah. Lead plumbing pipes, . Yeah. That’s definitely need that breath of experience, don’t you?

Mike Evans (23:07): Yeah. We tend to do work in older homes as well. I mean, most, most of the homes in Chicago are about a hundred years old. Sure. So not like really old homes like they’d be in Boston, but because the city bounced, burned down at the turn of the century, the previous century. And so, but yeah, I mean, it is true that you just have to see a lot before you can know how to have the confidence that you can walk into any home and, and do the work.

John Jantsch (23:28): Talking with Mike Evans, the founder of fixer.com, author of hangry, his startup journey to founding GrubHub. So Mike, you wanna tell people where they can certainly find the book, but also if you wanna invite people to connect with you somehow.

Mike Evans (23:41): Sure. The book, the easiest place to buy the book is on Amazon or Barnes and Noble. It’s available pre as of November 1st. And I’m not sure when exactly this podcast will publish. It’ll be available for order, in addition to pre-order. And then if you want to connect with me, you can go on my website @ mikeevans.com.

John Jantsch (23:56): Awesome. Well really appreciate you stopping by the Duct Tape Marketing podcast and hopefully we will, uh, run into you one of these days soon out there on the road, either on a bike or in a car. Although I must admit, I spend most of my time riding over rocks these days.

Mike Evans (24:10): That’s awesome. Yeah, Thanks for having me. I really appreciate it.

John Jantsch (24:13): Hey, and one final thing before you go. You know how I talk about marketing strategy, strategy before tactics? Well, sometimes it can be hard to understand where you stand in that, what needs to be done with regard to creating a marketing strategy. So we created a free tool for you. It’s called the Marketing Strategy Assessment. You can find it@ marketingassessment.co Check out our free marketing assessment and learn where you are with your strategy today. That’s just marketingassessment.co. I’d love to chat with you about the results that you get.

This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by the HubSpot Podcast Network and Semrush.

HubSpot Podcast Network is the audio destination for business professionals who seek the best education and inspiration on how to grow a business.

 

 

Everybody’s online, but are they finding your website? Grab the online spotlight and your customers’ attention with Semrush. From Content and SEO to ads and social media, Semrush is your one-stop-shop for online marketing. Build, manage, and measure campaigns —across all channels — faster and easier. Are you ready to take your business to the next level? Get seen. Get Semrush. Visit semrush.com/go to try it free for 7 days.

 

Weekend Favs September 24

Weekend Favs September 24 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 I 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.

  • Tango – Easily create step-by-step guides for your team while you work. Tango documents your actions with automated screenshots and written instructions that you can edit and share smoothly. Creating documented processes has never been easier. 
  • Gox.ai – Saves you tons of time by compiling data from different sources into a simple report in minutes. Schedule automatic data transfers in Google Sheets, send PDF, Excel attachments, or your entire report as an image in an automated email.
  • Xnapper – Allows you to easily share beautiful screenshots centered on a nice background with rounded corners or a watermark.

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

If you want to check out more Weekend Favs you can find them here.

Speed Up Your Business Growth Through Experimentation

Speed Up Your Business Growth Through Experimentation written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with Andrew Warden

In this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I interview Andrew Warden. Andrew is the CMO of SEMRush – an online visibility management SaaS platform that has been used by millions of marketers worldwide including this one.

Key Takeaway:

A crucial component of growth is experimentation. Experimentation is the engine that drives innovation. It helps businesses implement and test ideas quickly so that you can learn and define failure and success quickly and pivot accordingly. In this episode, I talk with the CMO of Semrush, Andrew Warden, about leading a mature organization and how experimentation helps push its growth as an organization.

Questions I ask Andrew Warden:

  • [1:40] Setting the record straight on how to pronounce “Semrush”
  • [2:44] What prepared you to take on this job at Semrush, a really somewhat mature organization?
  • [4:52] As a CMO, given the DNA, and all these acronyms of the organization, do you feel a tug to just do more SEO sometimes?
  • [6:38] I want to talk a little more about your experimental process – do you have a process for saying, you know, we’re gonna throw these 10 things out there and this is how we’re going to measure them?
  • [11:41] Today, Semrush offers many more solutions other than an SEO tool – what’s been the challenging part of redefining what people view your company as?
  • [14:08] As a mature organization, how do you balance the need for branding versus the need to acquire more users?
  • [17:16] Is there a small set of metrics that you rely on?
  • [19:43] So pretend you are speaking to a group of CMOs in an audience only today and somebody said, what do you think is the biggest challenge for most CMOs today? What would your answer be?
  • [22:44] Where can people learn more?

More About Andrew Warden:

Take The Marketing Assessment:

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

John Jantsch (00:00): This episode or the duct tape marketing podcast is brought to you by the nudge podcast, hosted by Phil Agnew and brought to you by the HubSpot podcast network. You can learn the science behind great marketing with bite size 20 minute episodes packed with practical advice from admired marketers and behavioral scientists. Nudge is a fast pace, but still insightful with real world examples that you can apply. Her recent issue. Talked about the, the idea of getting your customers, your prospects in the habit of buying from you or listening to you or following you habit based marketing, download, nudge, wherever you get your podcasts. Hello, and welcome to another episode of the duct tape marketing podcast. This is John Jantsch and my guest today is Andrew Warden. He is the CMO of Semush. Semrush. We’ll talk about that. Yeah. Time in the second square we’re on behalf our conversation, right? it’s an online visibility management SaaS platform that is used by millions of marketers worldwide, including this one. So, uh, Andrew, welcome to the show.

Andrew Warden (01:14): Great. Thanks so much. So good to be here. And let me just clarify, let me just jump really quick, cuz this is like one of the hottest contested things in our community, I would say. And beyond it is Semrush here, it here, here, the way that it sounds the way it rolls off your tongue, you think people it’s true historically it was Semrush and it didn’t help when we went public because our stock checker is S E M R so people automatically, but if you wanna know where the brand and the heart is, it’s with Semrush.

John Jantsch (01:40): Yeah, I actually was gonna ask you that directly and then I actually blew it in the intro but I know I’ve even seen some of the videos you’ve produced of, you know, making fun of the idea. Is it, I’m curious since we got on the topic, even though it’s a goofy topic, is there a regional preference? Like do Americans use one or the

Andrew Warden (01:59): Other? No, you know, I think it’s, I actually, I don’t think it’s necessarily linked to geography. Yeah. I think that’s linked to history. Right? Number one, because originally right, the founding of the company was, it’s always like square in the search engine marketing at the yeah. Yeah. Kind of die hard SEO community. And that’s true. And that’s still very much a core of our community, but you know, now gosh, 14 years later, we’re 55 plus tools. Not only SEO, not only at the sweet spot. So I think it’s probably more linked to his history and maybe our, maybe our diehard SEO fans. Right. S SCM. Right? Yeah.

John Jantsch (02:34): So you’ve been, in fact, I think you had a LinkedIn post at celebrating your one year anniversary mm-hmm so you’ve been there a year. I’m curious, just because I didn’t give a lot of background, obviously, what prepared you to take on this job as you know, really a somewhat mature organization?

Andrew Warden (02:49): Yeah. Well, I mean, this is my third time as a CMO, right? So it’s not my first rodeo. I would say, I think you’re referencing this, this LinkedIn post. I, you know, it’s taken me so many years to be absolutely comfortable with being vulnerable as a leader, wearing my heart on my sleeve. There’s a lot of people who totally go against this concept or they say, no, you should always be rather stoic and be very, you know, but I, you know, after years and years, you know, working with people from all different backgrounds know late state later stage career, early stage career at the end of the day, you know, people just want a path to grow. They want a path to grow themselves. They want, obviously we want to earn, but people wanna be engaged, you know? And so that post I was reflecting after a year, you know, it’s like all of the things, all of the points in my career of the super Heights, you know, being at Cisco when I was in my early twenties, you know, promoted several times in a couple of years to crashing and burning effectively with a startup, with our own money and you know, several other people’s money.

(03:46): And we’re all still friends, but the points of the, kind of the peaks and the valleys, and even some of the troughs it’s like, you know, had this moment, this illuminating moment a couple weeks ago where it’s like, this was all preparing for this exact moment actually. Right. And that’s really resonated with I’m. I’m really curious and happy that you bring it up. Cuz a lot of people have been talking about this, right? It’s like not many officers of public companies are making such statements, but I have to, you know, and it resonates with our team internally. It resonates with people outside. Yeah.

John Jantsch (04:13): Frankly I think self-awareness is the new like key leadership skill, frankly.

Andrew Warden (04:17): I, I couldn’t agree with you more. I, you know, really, you know, I, I, for years it’s always kind of this player, coach mentality, you know, people at the, my job at the end of the day, again, I am a very hands on CMO. I get stuck into at any given day, I get stuck into ad copy or going to board level to add copy. I’m always there to jump in and help a junior and to senior member of the team out. But at the end of the day, you know, I just try to remove as many blockages and those can be sometimes budget or resource blockage, but it can also be psychological blockage. Right. Sometimes people get in the way of themselves how to unlock people. And that’s where I think the awareness that you’re talking about, you know, really comes in. Yeah.

John Jantsch (04:53): So as a CMO, given the DNA, all these acronyms of the organization, do you feel a tug to just do more SEO sometimes?

Andrew Warden (05:04): So I feel a tug to do more SEO. No, actually it, yeah.

John Jantsch (05:08): I mean to use that, like as your core

Andrew Warden (05:09): Channel, I got you. Yeah. That’s a great question. Actually. I can tell you something. No, cuz it’s been the opposite this year. Right? I can tell you that this year, this past year we made significant, I mean incremental significant and material investments into large scale paid campaigns. And actually that was a really interesting inflection point for us as a company. It’s like, you know, we, we are on a rocket ship trajectory, right? We have the, again, all the DNA, as you said of a startup culture, right? High educated risk taking high experimentation, fast fail and like a matter of weeks versus quarters and quarters. And I really look at the whole mix, but one of the things that I noticed as soon as I came in September of 29, excuse me, 2021 is that we were not experimenting as much as I would like to with paid. Right. Because we have very, very competitive, I’d say ad positions compared to other others in our sets. But I will tell you that the organic piece for next year and for the others, there will start to be more balance. But no, I don’t, I don’t, I don’t face any problems of inertia if you will, on, you know, given that SEO is at our core, but at the same time, it’s also something that we should be pretty damn good at. Right. Because we that’s how we started

John Jantsch (06:20): Yeah. I hate to say it. I always, you know, I get pitches like everybody from SEO experts that are gonna put me on page one and it’s like, I can’t find you ,

Andrew Warden (06:29): It’s a big deal. And also anyone promising a silver bullet like that, especially so quickly. Right, right. It’s always something to be very wary of. Yeah.

John Jantsch (06:37): Yeah, absolutely. So, so let’s talk a little more about your experimental process. Yeah. I mean, do you have a process for saying totally. You know, we’re gonna throw these 10 things out there. Here’s how we’re gonna measure. ’em I’d love to hear

Andrew Warden (06:47): That. We absolutely do. So I’d like to, we have a, a system set up and this was already in place before I joined. I’m just putting, I’m just adding more fuel to it. I would say at least from a marketing side. So we have a quarterly bets and experimentation program. And I like to think of it. These are totally my words. I was like O OKRs on steroids, right? This is like, you know, BES are what we believe is possible. And we have a format that’s really clear. It’s like, what is it that we wanna do? Why is it needed? Why do we believe X is possible? And here’s how we measure success. Like here’s what success is. And here’s what failure is. And the most important thing is crucial for me is that it’s okay for a bet to fail. And when, you know, for me, this is also the big difference, in my opinion of like on a big corporate, uh, versus a company like Sam, right.

(07:39): I would rather a leader usually, you know, that can be conceived by anybody in the company. Right. But I will hold our VPs or heads of accountable for, for the mixture between experiments. And that’s the, I would rather somebody focus on two, three or four bets, you know, if one of them pans off, you know, pans out, like we’re off to the races, I’m always after a sign of life, you know? And so it is so helpful to hear how teams think about bets on a quarterly basis of, yeah, we think that we can capture more people through advertising on Hulu. We think that BEC, which is a new channel, right. We think that’s possible because you know, X percent of our demographic for this persona hangs out there. Right. And we believe it’s possible to achieve X number of registrations trials, subscriptions, or payments.

(08:27): And if it makes less than a certain amount, we’re like, you know what? It just didn’t work out. And we should not do that for another couple of years. And it’s very similar with experiments. I would say are a little bit, even more further afield. Like it’s could even liven more out there. Right? We have a hypothesis that actually, we just did one of these experiments. I don’t have the result yet, which is kind of a let down for this kind of conversation. Sorry. But we did a direct mail experiment. How’s that for a SEO or for a digital marketing company, you know, it’s like, I wait to the team and I said said, has anybody sense, literally, a mailer to small business owners, you know, cuz I had this contention that small business owners, it’s not necessarily like me or like you or somebody else who hangs out online. Right. The barber. Yeah.

John Jantsch (09:08): They’re not reading search engine land, the barber

Andrew Warden (09:10): Who’s cutting my hair, who I love. Right. Is opening the door for me, cutting my hair, sweeping the floor register, you know like this person is on LinkedIn, you know? It’s like, how are you reaching that person? So, so we did two different tests over the summer or sorry one over the summer. I think one just went out as well. So I’m waiting to see, I have no idea, but this is what I, you know, you ask about experimentation and you always have to make sure that you’re carving out, you know, 10, 10, 15% of your budget of your spend to try new channels. Because the moment that you rest on the laurels of the channel, that’s working so well for you is the moment it stops doing that.

John Jantsch (09:46): No question BEC if it’s working well for you, other people are using it too. Right. To me when I hear that, it sounds like, like if I came to you and said, Hey, I have an idea. We should do both. It sounds to me like the hypothesis is gotta be really soft. Like you really believe this is going to work

Andrew Warden (10:01): Because absolutely right. Yep. Yeah, no, you can’t just like you can’t just be like, Hey John, I wanna, you know, I want to go and take out and add in the wall street journal. Okay. Why do you wanna do that? I don’t know. I mean a lot of people read it. No, you know, you know, you have to be able to, I mean, look, you could, there are ways to make that more scientific. You can say, you know, during this period there or the wall street journal, you know, more for financially focused people, it’s like earnings typically happen between this day and this day tech earnings come out between this day and this day. So we want to run this and with this type of promotion, because people in that demographic tend to buy around that period. It all has to be, it’s quite, it’s a lot more scientific than I had anticipated. I’ll put it that way, but I love that. You’re

John Jantsch (10:42): Gonna, you, you’re gonna get a sales call from the wall street journal. Now I

Andrew Warden (10:45): Guarantee you. Yeah, well we’re already talking to him. That’s okay.

John Jantsch (10:49): Now let’s hear from a sponsor, you know, today everybody’s online, but are they finding your website, grab the online spotlight and your customer’s attention with Semrush from content and SEO to ads and social media. Semrush is your one stop shop for online marketing build, manage and measure campaigns across all channels faster and easier. Are you ready to take your business to the next level? Get seen, get Semrush, visit Semrush that’s Semrush.com/go to try it free for seven days. All right. You kind of may alluded to this already, but I was going to ask you, I mean, it’s certainly, I’ve been, uh, a Semush user for many years. Thank you. And I certainly saw it as, uh, as an SEO tool. Mm-hmm over the year. Well, it was more than that years ago, but it is certainly more than that. Now what’s been the challenge of getting of changing. People’s thinking that, oh no, it’s 50 tools and it’s, you know, it’s a, in fact, I think you even called it an online visibility platform. Yeah. As, as a differentiator, is that Mo moving the definition of what your company is? Yeah. Has that been

Andrew Warden (11:57): A challenge? It’s a, it’s a huge, I mean, it’s still very much in progress, right? I mean, again, we are so, and thank you for being a user for all these years as well. You know, I don’t take anything for granted and there’s so many solutions out there. I would say that, you know, we, we believe, you know, over the next several years and we, I mean, if we see it right now, we feel it right now in the, but we also know, particularly with small business owners that breaking through the noise in today’s market, right. This, and that’s, it’s not even necessarily new, this kind of like fragmented view for a consumer and, you know, people spend on average seven hours online, you know, it’s but how do you actually get through all of that noise and reach a perspective customer? How are you building your audiences?

(12:33): And, you know, again, all respects like that started out with SEO, you know, but at the same time we realized over time that there’s a need amongst our own user base and our future customers for content creation for marketer, you know, you name it, you know, for traffic analytics, right? It’s not only about finding what your audience is looking for, what they’re searching for. It’s also like how do I solve the problem of now figuring out how to talk to them and engage them. Right. So if you’re asking me, is it a challenge to change how we’re, how we are viewed in the market? Absolutely. You know, but at, you know, at the same time and we’re adding, uh, we’re adding our growth rate has not slowed over the last couple of years. So when you think about a comp, a KR, a compounding annual growth, we are, our velocity is not slowing down. So we are adding more and more people and expanding our own audience and reach. So I would imagine the days where this is a big, you know, question for the future, the days where, you know, this kind of Semrush or the core of SEO, I think that will always remain amongst, especially our initial users. But I think that there’s also a future people join because they have like myriad problems they’re trying to solve. Right. Not only SU yeah.

John Jantsch (13:41): Yeah. And that’s how they’re introduced to you. Yes. Yeah. You know of the brand is different. Yeah. Let’s move a little bit to cuz, cuz I know you’re running some, you know, some television that is, I would call it very branding oriented as opposed to say growth oriented. But has that, is that a conscious, in other words, it’s not saying by this because it’ll get you this result. Mm-hmm , it’s more like your CEO will think this, you know,

Andrew Warden (14:03): That kind of, are you talking about that kind of thing? Are you talking about the most recent one? Yeah. Okay. Okay. I call this

John Jantsch (14:08): And that’s just an example. My real question is, you know, how do you as an organization, that’s this mature, how do you start? How do you start balancing mm-hmm the need for branding mm-hmm versus the need for just like we gotta have X amount of new

Andrew Warden (14:20): Users. I think the problem starts is that we think they’re separate

(14:24): Because those campaigns are the goal for those campaigns are new users and they’re achieving them. The first one we did in the year will exceed the target. The second, which the second campaign, which is, which was a dedicated for a small business owners. And we’re, you know, this year is as much as it has been are, you know, about growth. We’re also doing what I call these grown experiments, large experiments. So these foray into connected TV advertising the, using the same creative that can be used for, of course banners and digital classic. We can also then use that. There’s so much production value. You can turn around to Hulu or YouTube connected TV, Disney plus like you name it. And you can like literally upload that ad and set a budget and go. So this year is also about testing new audiences, new ideas, new ways to engage.

(15:12): And one of our big bets is looking at what I would call and I didn’t mean to correct you, but what I mean is that there’s like brand, you are right. That like the approach is more about positioning the company and how it can help you grow. Right? This is this I call, these are, this is a customer needs based play versus a classic like, you know, every tool you need for X per month, right? That’s more of what you call the classic performance or growth marketing. Yeah. Those hacks. But guess what? We’re really good at the ladder. Like we’re pretty okay at that. Right. In terms of digital and paid and even on the organic side, but we have incredibly aggressive growth plans over the next five to 10 years. And so I’ve gotta be able to lay my head on the pillow at night, knowing that we’re testing every new channel, every new style of marketing and advertising that we can to keep new or existing and new customers engaged. So, but I do love how you distinction. You make a distinction right. From off the bat. Cause I get that a lot. People are like, well, you know, but this is a big kind of like kind of branding push on connected TV. And it’s like, yeah, but we can trace back the connection that we acquired, that, that user, the attention of that user from that ad. And we can trace it through to visiting us. We can trace it through to registering doing a trial and eventually becoming summer’s customer. So

John Jantsch (16:31): Yeah, you, I think you can almost make a case for saying it’s targeting. It is in a way, because I think your core acquisition person that says these tools for this much and they know what those tools are. Right. that’s right. Whereas your typical business owners actually like I don’t really wanna know what the tools are. Yeah. I wanna solve this problem. Yep.

Andrew Warden (16:48): Yeah. And again, these are very large place and I, I’m not here saying every single one of these is gonna knock it outta the apartments goal obviously. But I think that I can tell you that the entire team, the entire its 200, 200 marketers in the organization every day, we’re learning every day, we’re stretching what we thought was possible again on our existing user base, what people want to expand for their relationship with summers, but also like net new people who have totally different needs and value sets compared to existing. Yeah.

John Jantsch (17:16): So couple maybe these are your easy questions. Maybe these are hard. Sure. Couple more questions. Is there a small set of metrics that you rely on as

Andrew Warden (17:26): A C a small set? No, they’re only big. Yeah.

John Jantsch (17:29): I wanted to say small because , I didn’t wanna see what you can. Yeah, I, yeah,

Andrew Warden (17:34): Well, yeah. I, I would say small at Semrush is big and it would be, I would, I wouldn’t want in any other way, but the ones that I really live in the stress or get excited, you know, we measure very much on new user. Mr. So look, you know, know as a SAS based company, you’ve got SA classic SA SA metrics and we are a very different organization in terms of marketing than I would say at other kind of corporations or big company. You know, a lot of companies marketing is assisting with sales and kind of provides M QLS or SQLs to sales leadership. And then they carry on and close the deal at Semrush. Actually it’s a little bit different. We are responsible for bringing in new user acquisition, right. And that’s a material difference from other companies. So the emphasis and the laser focus on metrics is like not optional.

(18:22): You have to know every day. So I’m looking at, I’m looking always at registrations at trials. Trials is always a leading indicator. If, you know, if we see a swell in trials, there will be a, certainly a bump in new subscriptions. But new user MRI is my first, the first kind of traffic light. If you will, I’m also looking at increase or decline of our own spending, right? Because sometimes we slow down the engine either during holiday periods or periods where we don’t think people are gonna have the propensity to buy and that’s, we don’t always get that. Right. You know, it’s hard to know when to pull, pull or release that lever. I’m also looking at global dynamics, like different by different markets. Like right now the dollar fluctuation, you know, is difficult for a lot of companies. Right. And yeah, yeah. You know, in Europe, gosh, I just came back from meetings with the team in Amsterdam, in London.

(19:07): I got back late last night and you know what, you actually, you see and feel not only inflation, but also the currency of fluctuation, you know, in London, it’s like 1.15 to the dollar. I mean, even when I was in grad school in 2007, it was never that low, you know, it’s like, it hasn’t been that low in, in 30 years or something. So, so there are different dynamics about the global economy. But I would say if you’re asking for the shortest list, the shortest list, I get nine emails every morning at 7:32 AM that give me the holistic view of the business, but I would tease those as the kind of the ones that really matter. Yeah.

John Jantsch (19:42): Yeah. All right. So pretend you were speaking to a group of CMOs in an audience only today, and somebody said, what do you think is the biggest challenge for most CMOs today? What would your answer

Andrew Warden (19:55): Be? I would say the loss of innovation culture, and I would say too much emphasis on having to be the smartest person in the room that is to the CMO audience. I would say that it is increasingly more and more difficult. Look as marketers. We are, it’s almost like encoded in our own DNA, our personal DNA, every single action you take must yield an outcome, must yield a financial improvement right. To, to the top line even. And I think that the reality is, you know, again, it depends on which stage of growth you’re in as a company or even if you’re even as a small business or large business. The fact is marketing is a constantly evolving and field. Literally the pitch, the field, the markers change every day. You know, as soon as, like I said before, as soon as you find a channel that works, it doesn’t work anymore.

(20:44): Or you say something that your audience doesn’t like, and then you kind of get like temporary put in the timeout box. You know, it’s like it happens. But I think that is also conditioned people. And I would also, I do say this to my peers, that it conditions us to like be a risk averse and to not take, take too much time on experiments. I mean, I have, for example, every month I have what I call elevator pitch sessions. Like anybody can turn up to this call. It’s like 15, 18 minutes long. You get two slides, you get five minutes, you know, it’s like, what’s your idea? What do you wanna do? What do you, you know, and it can be a request for like a 50 K campaign. It can be a request for a $5 million acquisition doesn’t or 10 or whatever, you know, that’s not the point.

(21:23): And it’s funny, these are they’re meant to be intentionally very snappy very quick. Like if anybody’s kind of drowning on, it’s like, come on, tell me that, what’s the point, what’s the point. But you know, I’ll tell you, like, we’ve done real things based on those, like we’ve done, we’ve made that’s cool, real investments, material investments. And so, yeah, I would just say that, you know, I think especially as a CMO, it’s very easy to get kind of stuck in your own routine and rhythm of what works. And I think that’s why I was just reflecting after a year. Like I have more energy John than when I started. And usually like, you know, you kind of know yourself at this stage in your career. Usually you’re like, okay, I found this works. We’re gonna go head into budgeting season and then we’re gonna, we’re gonna keep going. But like I make stuff. I make shit every single day, you know? And as soon as, as the CMO, I think is an executive leader, as soon as you stop doing that, like, like you personally, I think you have to kinda reevaluate what’s going on. Right? Like

John Jantsch (22:15): I think those little mini pitches sound really empowering, especially imagine somebody who like got their deal.

Andrew Warden (22:20): Anybody. Yeah. No, but really, but we have like junior PR ex execs within the team, like with a handful of years of experience, like I want to do, I wanna try this, you know? And I’m like, why is that a good idea? Well, are you sure? Tell me why you believe it, you know? And it’s like, it’s even just going through that experience early in your career, it changes you. Right. It opens your mind and that’s also, you know, really important to me.

John Jantsch (22:43): Yeah. Awesome. Well, Andrew, it was really a pleasure to have you sub by the duct tape marketing podcast. And we can, you can tell people how they can reach Semrush. You can spell it for them. if you like, we’ll have it in. Well, it’s, we’ll have it in the show notes. It’s on your shirt. Yeah. Semrush

Andrew Warden (22:58): Semrush.com Semrush. Do. Yeah, I can’t. Yeah. So I, I would that’s as simple as it can be.

John Jantsch (23:03): Yeah, absolutely. Well, hopefully we’ll run into you one of these days out there on the road. In fact, the end of this week, I’m gonna be in Austin. Oh,

Andrew Warden (23:10): Great. Stop by. Yeah.

John Jantsch (23:11): Which I know you are

Andrew Warden (23:12): For, for a drink. Cool. All right. Thanks for having me. Cheers.

John Jantsch (23:15): Appreciate it. Hey, and one final thing before you go, you know how I talk about marketing strategy strategy before tactics? Well, sometimes it can be hard to understand where you stand in that what needs to be done with regard to creating a marketing strategy. So we created a free tool for you. It’s called the marketing strategy assessment. You can find it @ marketingassessment.co. Check out our free marketing assessment and learn where you are with your strategy today. That’s just marketingassessment.co I’d. Love to chat with you about the results that you get.

This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by the HubSpot Podcast Network and Semrush.

HubSpot Podcast Network is the audio destination for business professionals who seek the best education and inspiration on how to grow a business.

 

 

Everybody’s online, but are they finding your website? Grab the online spotlight and your customers’ attention with Semrush. From Content and SEO to ads and social media, Semrush is your one-stop-shop for online marketing. Build, manage, and measure campaigns —across all channels — faster and easier. Are you ready to take your business to the next level? Get seen. Get Semrush. Visit semrush.com/go to try it free for 7 days.

 

How To Use Marketing Automation To Your Advantage

How To Use Marketing Automation To Your Advantage written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with Chase Buckner

In this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I interview Chase Buckner. Chase is the Director of Marketing at HighLevel, the all-in-one, white-label sales & marketing platform for agencies. Prior to joining the team at HighLevel, Chase and a partner built a full-service agency from scratch that grew to over 7-figures in ARR.

Key Takeaway:

Artificial intelligence and marketing automation isn’t something of the distant future anymore – and those who leverage it today are seeing the benefits unfold. In this episode, I talk with Chase Buckner, Director of Marketing at HighLevel, about how businesses today can use marketing automation and artificial intelligence to their advantage to grow and scale.

Questions I ask Chase Buckner:

  • [1:32] What are some of the best ways you are seeing using the automation technology that’s available to us being used?
  • [3:24] How do business owners deal with the communication channel overwhelm today?
  • [5:07] How do we use AI without making it feel robotic?
  • [6:56] What advantage is there to the business that responds immediately or at least very quickly?
  • [8:37] I would suggest that SMS has actually become the preferred method of communication for a very large segment of the market and that if we’re not actually viewing that as a primary channel, we are probably missing out. What do you say to that idea?
  • [12:35] How are you finding agencies really standing out and differentiating themselves today?
  • [14:32] If I as an agency take the SaaS model – do I have to now have a support department for the clients that I bring on?
  • [16:35] How can people think about automated ways to scale?
  • [22:32] Where can people learn more about HighLevel and the work that you’re doing?

More About Chase Buckner:

Take The Marketing Assessment:

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

John Jantsch (00:00): This episode or the duct tape marketing podcast is brought to you by the nudge podcast, hosted by Phil Agnew and brought to you by the HubSpot podcast network. You can learn the science behind great marketing with bite size 20 minute episodes packed with practical advice from admired marketers and behavioral scientist. Nudge is a fast pace, but still insightful with real world examples that you can apply. Her recent issue. Talked about the, the idea of getting your customers or prospects in the habit of buying from you or listening to you or following you habit based marketing, download, nudge, wherever you get your podcasts.

(00:48): Hello, And welcome to another episode of the duct tape marketing podcast. This is John Janz. My guest today is chase Buckner. He’s a director of marketing at high level, the all in one white label sales and marketing platform for agencies prior to joining the team in high level chase and a partner built a full service agency from scratch that grew to over seven figures in annual recurring revenue. So chase, welcome to the show.

Chase Buckner (01:15): Thanks for having me, John.

John Jantsch (01:17): So let’s talk first about marketing automation. This is a topic I’ve been talking about for a while. It’s a topic that some companies have embraced some haven’t some for good, some for bad. What are some of the, and you can go anywhere you want with this. What are some of the best ways you are seeing people using the automation technology that’s available to us today?

Chase Buckner (01:40): Yeah, I mean, I think for the folks that aren’t yet they will be, I feel like it’s an inevitable part of the growth of an agency is you get to a point where you’re like, why is this still not working? Why are we still turning clients? Like we know we’re delivering good leads at a good price, but yet there’s still something not quite right. And when you start to dig into that, you know, you find studies like the one done by the MIT professor that basically show look, there’s a five minute shock clock, right? You generate a lead, you’ve got five minutes to engage in. And if you don’t statistically, you’re never going to. And then when you look through that lens at what’s actually happening at your client’s businesses, there’s just no way that they can reply to every lead within five minutes. And so once you understand that, then your mind opens up to other solutions and you start realizing, Hey, we need to find ways to automate some of this and take it off of their hands. And so it’s as simple as really just automating text messages, emails, voicemail drops. We have this really cool thing called a call connect that I can talk about. But yeah, it’s just basically like doing something more than just sending the lead as an email to your client and thinking that’s your job done?

John Jantsch (02:54): Well, particularly because , you know, email is a terrible place to, to try to do, do business, right? Cuz it’s so cluttered. So have clients that, you know, one of their biggest complaints right now is that I’m everywhere, right? Because they told me I should be everywhere. And now unfortunately that means everybody’s communicating with me everywhere. You know, how do I like even manage it? You know, I’ve actually had clients not let me turn Google business messaging on because they were like, even if people want to talk to me there, I don’t, I like, I don’t know how I would handle it. So, you know, how do we deal with that? How do business owners deal with that? Because it’s a real thing.

Chase Buckner (03:29): Well, I mean, I don’t wanna, I don’t wanna, I didn’t my attention wasn’t to come on to just be a commercial for high level, but we’re very cognizant of that. And that’s why we’re trying to pull ’em all into one chat stream. So right now we’ve got most of them, we’ve got email SMS, Google chat, Facebook messenger, Instagram, DM, WhatsApps, and beta. And then stuff’s, you know, TikTok, all that kind of stuff is coming down the line, but yeah, a hundred percent because you can’t expect them to manage it all over the place who could, it’s insane. So we’re trying to pull ’em all in including reviews. It’s important that they go in there too, because then they’ll actually reply to reviews.

John Jantsch (04:05): Yeah. To reply. Yeah.

Chase Buckner (04:06): All that stuff. Yeah.

John Jantsch (04:07): Reviews are a conversation

Chase Buckner (04:09): yeah. Yeah. Totally. I imagine that right.

John Jantsch (04:12): yeah, yeah, no that’s yeah. Yeah. And I think that’s, there’s no question. I think there’s some other people trying to tackle that, that as well, but there’s no question that is a great use of automation. Cause I, again, a lot of times people think of automation, it’s like, oh great. I never have to talk to anybody ever again. You know, I can automate all my processes. Right. Yeah. And I think the way I always tell people, look at automation is how can you create a better experience? Like, you know, things like making scheduling appointments. I wanna be able to go on in the middle of the night. Well, that’s not true. I’m never up in the middle of the night. I’m gonna go on at eight o’clock in the evening and schedule an appointment with my eye doctor or whatever. I don’t wanna have to make a call. So that’s a place where automation is a better experience, but there are times when we want that hug, we want that, you know, people interaction. So, you know, how do you, because the technology will allow us to automate everything right. To some degree. I mean, we can start bringing in AI to even automate it more. Right. So how do we use this stuff without making it feel robotic?

Chase Buckner (05:12): Yeah. That’s a great question. And I think in a couple of different ways, like we have like an AI booking thing that you can turn on that you can conversationally book with, right? So let’s say, you know, you claim a promotion and I automate you a text that says, Hey, John, you know, thanks for claiming that free teeth whitening voucher. Next step is to get you booked is now a good time to, to find a day and time that works for you. If you say yes, AI can take over and go into the calendar and say, okay, great. Here’s what we have over the next two days. And you could say, all right, I’ll take Tuesday at nine and it will understand that in book, but there are other ways, right? I like to talk about starting with FAQs. You know, when you work within a niche, you quickly find out, Hey, my customers get asked these same questions over and over.

(05:57): So then I can just ask my clients, Hey, when someone asks you this, how do you guys reply? And then I can build a, just a simple little workflow that says, Hey, if a message comes in from any of these channels that contains the word, gluten free, just reply with their, yes, we have, you know, here’s our, the link to our gluten free menu or whatever it may be. And you can really make a lot of progress right there with stuff like that. You know, imagine how much time you can save a restaurant. If they don’t have to respond every gluten free vegetarian, these types of questions that they get over and over every single day,

John Jantsch (06:32): I thought you were going with the gluten free teeth whitening.

Chase Buckner (06:35): So I switched niches on you. You made metaphor.

John Jantsch (06:38): Prob probably somebody is selling that though. Right? Let’s talk a little bit about speed today. And again, I know your answer to this, but I want to hear what kind of your research you’re thinking, you know, is on this topic. I think when somebody goes to a website or goes to the Google and you know, asks a question, you know what advantage is there to the business that responds immediately or at least very quickly. And again, I know it’s a stupid question but I just wanna hear, you know, what you’ve seen in the impact of that?

Chase Buckner (07:10): Well, again, statistically, the studies will show you that if you respond within the first five minutes specifically, let’s say you respond in the first one minute. I think you have like a 90 something percent chance of closing that lead as opposed to after five minutes. And I think a lot of that is because when you get a reply right away, you don’t go to the next competitor or down the list, right? Because you’re engaged. Whether you know, that reply was automated or not, you in your mind, you’ve engaged with the business, which was your goal. And so, you know, to me, it’s everything and statistics will back that up. And again, when you go look and see what your clients are actually doing with those email lead notifications that you’re sending it’s hours or days that they’re taking to reply to folks. And by that time, for sure, they’ve gone on to the next competitor. And that’s why when you take an honest look at what’s happening in most marketing agencies and relationship with their clients, that’s what’s going on. And that’s what leads to the churn, right? And the clients are telling you, Hey, these leads stink. None of ’em closed. And you dig in and you’re like, what do you guys think of following up? Like, and it’s just never gonna work.

John Jantsch (08:22): Yeah, yeah, yeah. Let’s talk about SMS or text in general. You know, I think that, I think a lot of people saw that we’re on the cutting edge, you know, because we, you know, we have a short code or, you know, that’s another way people can communicate. I would suggest that in where we stand today in 2022, that has become actually the preferred method of communication for a very large segment of the market. And that if we’re not actually viewing that as a primary channel, we are probably missing out. What do you say to that idea?

Chase Buckner (08:57): A hundred percent. This makes me wanna bang my head against the desk because we, when somebody calls me, I literally inside feel my blood pressure rise, right? It’s like, why didn’t you just text me? And so if that’s the case for most of us, which I think if we’re all honest, it is why are we doing it to our customers? Why are we expecting our customers to pick up the phone and call us when we know they just want a text? And so, you know, we get it excited about all these new channels that we’re gonna add, like TikTok messaging and this and that. But like the reality is text messaging alone is a quantum leap forward for most businesses. Most businesses do not have the ability to text their customers yet without using somebody’s personal cell phone in a two way conversation. Right? And so that’s why the first step that we always tell agencies to do is put the chat widget on your customer’s website because the high level chat widget is just a gateway into an SMS conversation when they fill out the form, it comes in and as an SMS.

(10:00): And when you reply, it goes back as a text, just putting that on a client’s site alone is oftentimes enough to keep them from churning because all of a sudden they’re getting what they think are like these new leads. When in reality, it was just traffic that was bouncing off the site because they didn’t want to have to pick up the phone. And then you do that again with Google chat. And now those two things combined for a significant amount of new leads. But again, it was just traffic going to their Google property. That was just bouncing. So yeah, I think it’s absolutely should be the number one thing that marketers are thinking about right now is, Hey, how do we text enable every new client? Because that alone could be enough to keep them from churn.

John Jantsch (10:40): Yeah. And I think, I think anyone who’s listening to this take a stroll to your Google analytics. If you haven’t for a while, your client’s Google analytics, if you haven’t in a while and go to that little tab that shows you the device, their traffic is coming from, um, and you will find that most businesses have topped the majority of their traffic being on a mobile device, summer as high as 80% on a mobile device. So, you know, that device they have in their hand, you know, is text enabled. And it’s definitely the way that people prefer to communicate. I mean, I don’t know what the statistics are, but the actual phone part of the phone is what, like the fourth or fifth, you know, used component on most used component on the phone. So yeah. And now let’s hear from a sponsor, you know, today everybody’s online, but are they finding your website, grab the online spotlight and your customer’s attention with Semush from content and SEO to ads and social media. Semrush is your one stop shop for online marketing build, manage, and measure campaigns across all channels, faster and easier. Are you ready to take your business to the next level? Get seen, get Semrush, visit Semrush that’s Semrush.com/go to try it free for seven days. So let’s talk a little bit about, I know you work primarily with agencies, if not exclusively with

Chase Buckner (11:59): Agents primarily. I mean, I think there’s

John Jantsch (12:02): Probably some franchises, things out

Chase Buckner (12:04): Franchises, a lot of folks, Hey, I’ve been a chiropractor for 35 years and now I wanna take my knowledge and sell it to other chiropractors. Well, now you’re an agency. Congratulations, Dr. Bobby.

John Jantsch (12:12): Yeah, yeah, yeah. It’s

Chase Buckner (12:14): A small,

John Jantsch (12:15): So let’s talk about some of the ways that, that you are helping agencies differentiate because, you know, I tell agencies this all the time. I mean, if you’re still hanging your hat on, we’ll do your WordPress website for you. You know, you’re probably on a race to the the financial bottom, because I guarantee you, somebody will do it for $147 today. So, you know, how are agent, how are you finding agencies really standing out, differentiating themselves today?

Chase Buckner (12:41): That’s such a good point. And that was me for years. We did WordPress sites, one off projects, you know, happy to get five grand to do the site course. It turns into a nightmare, you know, and here you are 13 months later going, why are we still working on this? It’s a mindset shift. And I think if you haven’t looked around recently and realized that the world is in a race to the SAS model news flash, the world business is around the world are racing to find a way to get into SAS. I, I recently saw a tweet. I don’t know if you saw this, but BMW is now a SAS company, because in order to turn on your heated seats in next year’s models, you’re gonna have to subscribe to the heated seat subscription and enable it through the app. So that’s where we’re at, right?

(13:29): Literally every company in the world is like, how do we get into this recurring revenue model around software? And so for us, it makes all the sense in the world, right? Because we know every business needs software to succeed. The business owner has no idea what software they need, nor do they know how to set it up and get it running correctly. So they traditionally turn to the agency for this advice. The agency usually picks the software, sets it up, maybe they get paid for the setup. Then the agency loses the client statistically three to five months later, but the client continues to pay for that software for years. And you know, so that’s kind of what we’re all about at high level, which is, Hey, how do we make it so that the agency can provide the software themselves, retain the clients for years. Maybe they don’t retain ’em on that Facebook ad package, but they retain them on a software fee for the automated stuff that we know everybody needs like two, a text messaging.

John Jantsch (14:32): All right, let me push back just a bit because to help some folks out on this. So it’s like, wait, I’m gonna sell software. Um, how big of a support department does high level have just to take like support technical billing software questions. Right. And what I’m getting at is like, do I have to now have a support department for the clients that I sign up for this?

Chase Buckner (14:56): Yeah. You

John Jantsch (14:57): Do not, not for high level. I just mean if I’m gonna take the SAS model. I mean, how am I gonna support that?

Chase Buckner (15:03): Yeah. And that’s why, you know, again, there are lots of ways you can do this, right? I’m not telling you that have to use high level in the high level world. You’re absolutely right. We support you, but we don’t support your customers. Now that’s created opportunities for folks in our community to solve that problem. And so there are several entities within the high level community who run white labeled support programs for high level. So they’ll install ticketing system and live chat within the app for you. And they will handle all of the software related support, pretty affordably. I think the one charges, I think $300 a month and they’ll support unlimited clients. So it’s not something that you know, is as scary as it sounds. Yeah. And the, the pros definitely outweigh the cons. I would say if you think

John Jantsch (15:51): About well, but I’m sure you’ve

Chase Buckner (15:53): A lot of it’s automated. Right. So as long as you get the onboarding, right. You know, text messages come in and out, it’s not like, you know, how often do you have to call Facebook because you can’t figure out how to send the message back. Right. Like, you know, so a lot of it is if people kind of overthink it.

John Jantsch (16:10): Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So let’s talk a little bit about scaling. You know, I talk to a lot of agencies, people that, you know, they get to a certain point and they’re just like, I can’t scale this thing cuz I, you know, I got everything I can wrap my arms around and I can’t get any bigger or I try to hire people now I lose ’em and what, in what way? I keep talking to these softball promotional questions. Um, but which I don’t mean to do, but I know that you’re really, you’re really addressing this. I mean, how can people think this way think differently about scaling? You know, it’s not just like get more clients, get more people to serve the clients. How can they think automated ways to scale?

Chase Buckner (16:46): So I’ll give you a story from my past life at the agency. I remember doing, we used to host our WordPress sites with WP engine and they make you buy slot like blocks of 100 website packages essentially, right. To get the best pricing. So it was very important to us that we weren’t wasting slots. So every so often, you know, I would go in there and do a cleanup and say, oh, this client left us. Then get rid of that. That’s a free slot now. So I remember very vividly one day going through and looking at the total count, going man, there are hundreds of websites in here. There are hundreds of people and we used to charge $50 a month as a hosting package, came with like a half an hour worth support if you needed it or something. So I’m like, holy smokes.

(17:37): There are hundreds of people in here paying us $50 a month. Many of whom, I can’t even remember who they are. Like it’s literally been years since we built the site, they haven’t reached out to us in years, but yet their credit card has run every month since for $50. And I, I literally remember going to Matt, my partner, the CEO being like Matt, this is our best revenue. We should really think more intently about what’s going on here because there’s enough revenue being generated here to literally support you. And I alone, if you know, we went into like nuclear scenario or whatever, and of course, like a fire popped up and we ran and you know, that was the last we spoke of it. And, but it’s always stuck in my mind because that’s what lit the light bulb for me is, okay, what’s the better version of that.

(18:24): Like how do what’s the higher ticketed version of that? Because that’s scalable. Well, it was semi scalable, right? But what’s the more scalable version of that. And that’s what it is at software. The problem is with traditional agency services, like you said, you, every X amount of projects you sell, you have to add an employee enable to deliver. And we were caught in that. I call it scaling sideways phase for several years where the top line revenue kept going up, but I’m looking around going, where’s the profits going down? our margins are shrinking. Yes. The company, you know, is on that path to seven figures and beyond, but it’s just more stress and less margin. And so that combined with the hosting thing really got me thinking, and that’s why I went, as soon as I saw high level, I knew what was gonna happen.

(19:18): And when I got the opportunity to join the team, I jumped on it because I knew every agency, this is what we’re looking for. Right. So if I were to go back and do it again, I would still sell websites cuz I love to build websites and I know how to sell them. And, but I would sell them as a website on demand. It would cost $300 a month. It would be more than just the website. You know, it’s the chat widget on there. It’s the CRM behind it. It’s whatever. But just like Netflix, if you stop paying, the whole thing goes away. Right. You can’t watch movies anymore. And so that’s what, when I go back to like, it’s a mindset shift, you don’t sell website projects, you sell websites on demand. Like that’s, I think the shift that most people should be trying to figure out how we can make, like what did, what do we do now? And how do what’s the on demand version of that look like?

John Jantsch (20:06): Yeah. And I think one of the things about that positioning is it actually positions the website as the tool. It should be , you know, as opposed to nice, pretty thing that has content that people come visit and more of a, no, this is the hub of like generating a lead

Chase Buckner (20:22): A hundred percent. I always tell people like, you’d be stupid to go buy just a website today because yeah. You know, what’s gonna happen when the people get to it, right? Like where’s the CRM, that’s gonna house the lease. Where’s the automation. That’s gonna convert them into bookings. You know, where’s the reporting. That’s gonna show you actually, what’s going on here. And that’s why, you know, a lot of people in the high level community think of it, not as software as a service, but as a system, as a, a service it’s a little bit more than just software. Cuz when you combine it with the expertise of an agency, you’ve got a system and that’s kind of, I think where you want to get to, the other thing is typically the person who builds the website and or introduces the CRM is yeah. The most trusted person.

(21:10): And if you think of that, I like to think of it as like the digital general contractor, you know, when a supermarket or a mall’s being built, a general contractor gets hired and then they bring in the plumber, the electrician, the, you know, the whoever. And if let’s say the plumber is the Facebook ad guy in this example, this metaphor here, let’s say the plumber does a bad job. Well, no worries. I’ll fire him and I’ll bring in another one. And you know, we won’t lose too much time here. And that’s really where you want to be. You want to be the digital general contractor who never gets fired, who always gets paid. And if your client says, oh, I, you know, we also want SEO or we also want Google ads. Oh great. I’ve got this. I have an awesome network of folks. I trust, you know, I’m gonna introduce you to three SEO companies. You tell me which one you wanna go with and you know, we’ll take care of it. That’s the kind model that I would be in with my website as on demand business. And I’d have a nice network of ancillary service providers that I can bring in and out. And you know, if they were to do a bad job, it’s not me. That’s on the topping block.

John Jantsch (22:15): Yeah. We’ve always hung our head on strategy. The person who develops the strategy, you know, is really the producer, the director, you know, every, you know, bringing in every piece to then implement it. But it’s, uh, it’s really the same idea. Chase chance, chase. I keep getting your name wrong. for taking their moment to stop by the duct tape marketing podcast. You wanna tell people it’ll be obvious probably, but, and we’ll have it in the show notes where people can find you and uh, learn more about, uh, what you’re up to.

Chase Buckner (22:39): Yeah, for sure. Thank you for having me. John go high level.com is our website. We have a 14 day free trial over there. We’d love for you to check it out. If you’re, if this is resonating, we are what, you know, we are kind of trying to invent a new world of SAS entrepreneurship. So we would say if the SAS entrepreneur model sounds interesting to you, come check it out and uh, hopefully we’ll be back soon, John.

John Jantsch (23:02): Yeah. Awesome. And for those of you out there listening, we are users. We are on this journey with high level, our self building out a white label version. So, you know, questions, thoughts want to hit me up? You know, my email is just John at duct tape, marketing.com. We’d love to talk about it. So thanks for stopping by. We will see you someday out there on the road. Hey, and one final thing before you go, you know how I talk about marketing strategy strategy before tactics? Well, sometimes it can be hard to understand where you stand in that what needs to be done with regard to creating a marketing strategy. So we created a free tool for you. It’s called the marketing strategy assessment. You can find it @ marketingassessment.co. check out our free marketing assessment and learn where you are with your strategy today. That’s just marketingassessment.co I’d love to chat with you about the results that you get.

This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by the HubSpot Podcast Network and Semrush.

HubSpot Podcast Network is the audio destination for business professionals who seek the best education and inspiration on how to grow a business.

 

 

Everybody’s online, but are they finding your website? Grab the online spotlight and your customers’ attention with Semrush. From Content and SEO to ads and social media, Semrush is your one-stop-shop for online marketing. Build, manage, and measure campaigns —across all channels — faster and easier. Are you ready to take your business to the next level? Get seen. Get Semrush. Visit semrush.com/go to try it free for 7 days.

 

Weekend Favs September 17

Weekend Favs September 17 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 I 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.

  • Gamma – is a fast and simple alternative to traditional decks. Instead of formatting content boxes to fit on a slide, they use flexible cards and layouts that expand and automatically adapt as you add new content.
  • Stability – is a community of AI builders creating open AI prototypes for developing humanity’s future. They have developed cutting-edge models for Image, Language, Audio, Video, 3D, and more.
  • Closely -is a sales automation platform that allows companies to organize LinkedIn connections, automate lead management processes and build effective outreach campaigns.

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

If you want to check out more Weekend Favs you can find them here.

Why Marketers Should Start Integrating AI Into Their Work

Why Marketers Should Start Integrating AI Into Their Work written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with Sam Garg

In this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I interview Sam Garg. Sam is the Founder and CEO at Writesonic – an AI writer that helps you write SEO-optimized, long-form (up to 1500 words) blog posts & articles in 15 seconds.

Key Takeaway:

Artificial Intelligence is sort of like the human brain – our brain slowly remembers things we reiterate, picks up on similarities, notices patterns, and essentially creates new neural pathways in the system that is our brain over time. AI does just that, but at the speed of light. In this episode, I talk with the founder of Writesonic AI, Sam Garg, about AI today. Writesonic is one of the best AI writers out there today that helps you write SEO-optimized long-form content along with many other use cases. We talk about how AI isn’t here to replace the work we do as marketers. It’s here to work in tandem with us, making our work more effective.

Questions I ask Sam Garg:

  • [1:17]What has your entrepreneurial journey looked like that led you to want to start Writesonic?
  • [2:53] How do you hope to differentiate WriteSonic, particularly in the AI writing space?
  • [4:12] When you’re talking to a complete novice and they ask how AI works – what’s your simple explanation?
  • [5:34] So you talked about Writesonic being in the top tier of AI writers – what have you done from a marketing standpoint to gain traction with users?
  • [6:18] Do you use Writesonic in all of your own marketing?
  • [6:49] What are some innovative ways you see people using Writesonic outside of blog posts and landing pages?
  • [7:44] What mistakes do you see people making when it comes to using AI technology?
  • [9:04] What are some tips to get the best end product when using AI?
  • [10:18] What are some of the end use cases really going to be with images in AI?
  • [12:07] What technology is driving all of the image creation?
  • [13:22] What does the future look like for AI in the next 3-5 years?
  • [14:03] What do you tell a copywriter or an illustrator – are they gonna be out of work in three years or is there some way in which they need to participate strategically in using AI?
  • [15:09] What’s coming for Writesonic in your roadmap?
  • [16:03] Where can more people connect with you and learn more about Writesonic?

More About Sam Garg:

Take The Marketing Assessment:

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

John Jantsch (00:00): This episode or the duct tape marketing podcast is brought to you by the nudge podcast, hosted by Phil Agnew and brought to you by the HubSpot podcast network. You can learn the science behind great marketing with bite size 20 minute episodes packed with practical advice from admired marketers and behavioral scientist. Nudge is a fast pace, but still insightful with real world examples that you can apply her recent issue. Talked about the, the idea of getting your customers or prospects in the habit of buying from you or listening to you or following you habit based marketing, download, nudge, wherever you get your podcasts. Hello, and welcome to another episode of the duct tape marketing podcast. This is John Jantsch and my guest today is Sam Garg. He is the founder and CEO at Wright Sonic and AI writer that helps you write longform blog posts and articles in 15 seconds. Quite a promise. We’re gonna dig into that. So Sam, welcome to the show.

Sam Garg (01:08): Thank you very much, John. Very glad to be here. I

John Jantsch (01:10): Always like to, you know, we talk, we’re gonna talk about your current product service company, but I always like to get a little bit of backstory on what, what is your entrepreneurial journey looked like that led you to, to want to start this company?

Sam Garg (01:22): For sure. Yeah. So I’m sort of like a software engineer by background. I’m graduated in 2019. And since I was like 12 years of age been building multiple different websites and apps. So I started building, you know, like simple websites, like personal websites and lots of other things possibly I’ve built like 10, 15 different micro startups as I like to call them or the last five, six years. And then what kind of started right? Sonic was like, whenever you’re promoting any digital product on, you need a landing page, right? Like if you’re not launching a product and, or hack a news, wherever you’re launching, you’d need a landing page. So that was the point pain point that I was having personally. So I wondered like, you know, how about I train an AI model that, you know, kind of learns from the copy of the top brands like apple and Stripe and CocaCola and all that. And then kind of writes the copy for me, cause I didn’t have any marketing or copywriting experience at that point. So that was the starting point. So I built it for myself. People started liking it and then yeah, we, we sort of grew and you know, we have a good amount of team members now and we’ve got some funding by Y Combinator and stuff.

John Jantsch (02:25): Yeah. It’s amazing how I bet you it’s 50% of the companies are started out there as somebody saying, well, I needed this thing for me and I couldn’t find it so I thought, wow, they might, I better just make it

Sam Garg (02:36): Exactly,

John Jantsch (02:37): You know, everything. Like I, I get, you know, these marketing emails from people all the time now, somehow they’re working AI into everything. Like, you know, it’s whether it actually uses AI or not. It’s kind of cool to say that it does. So it’s becoming a crowded space really. How do you hope to differentiate right. Sonic particularly in the AI writing space.

Sam Garg (02:58): Yeah, no, I mean, I get asked that question a lot, you know, there’s lots of companies in this space, you know how email marketing is right there. There was MailChimp and then there’s like hundreds of different companies now. So what I like to kind of say there is, you know, we were, I would say the second company who got started in this space and we are in the top three right now. Yeah. Our core strength is the AI background that I bring. And then the team members that we have there. So we are constantly experimenting with, you know, state of the art, AI models and our core strength is the product and the features that we build. So we have a very fast shipping speed every week. We are pumping new features out. Yeah. Lots of cool stuff there. Yeah.

John Jantsch (03:34): Yeah. I’m actually a user and I’m amazed by that. It’s like every time I go, there, there’s something new. In fact, I think you just added an image editor, didn’t you?

Sam Garg (03:43): Yeah. So we just launched photo signing. So that’s like, you know, generates digital art and images using AI. So that is one thing we are exploring very excited about that space. Yeah.

John Jantsch (03:51): That sure. That’s in its infancy, I think, but it’s certainly getting a lot of that, that idea, you know, especially with Dolly with open AI is really getting a lot of, uh, buzz these days. So we’ve only got a couple minutes for you to answer a question that probably would take hours to answer sure. So I’ll let you decide which direction you wanna go with this when you’re talking to a complete novice and they say, how does AI work? What’s kind of your simple explanation if there is one.

Sam Garg (04:20): Yeah. So I mean, the way I like to think of it is, so AI is sort of like human brain, you know, it’s just like how a child learns when it sees, you know, when you were a kid, you would see images of things, you know, you would learn from there. Couple of times you repeat it, let’s say you’re kind of learning ABCD the alphabet. So you start with, you know, a, for apple and stuff. So you kind of, you reiterating it in your brain. Like you’re just remembering, and then slowly the brain picks up like the neural pathways become and you kind of pick up the patterns. So that is how sort of AI works. It’s sort of like this, you know, think of like this computer that sees something again and again and again, and then sort of picks up that pattern and it kind of gets edged and it’s kind of neural pathways on in its sort of like system. And then it is able to replicate that for any new scenarios or any new things that you throw it through at it. So, yeah.

John Jantsch (05:13): So I, and obviously I think that’s a good analogy, but you forgot the part where it does it a lot faster than human right.

Sam Garg (05:20): Much faster. Yeah, for sure. For sure.

John Jantsch (05:22): Yeah. So, so I like to tell people that I, it’s basically a computer that’s read everything and then is able to access everything and decide what, you know, what to bring back from that, you know, obviously at the speed of light. So you talked about right. Sonic being in the top, you know, top tier of particularly AI writers. What have you done from, uh, marketing standpoint to gain traction with users?

Sam Garg (05:43): Yeah, so, I mean, we have been trying a bunch of different things. So for example, EO has worked very well for us. You know, we an on the first page of Google for a lot of terms works very well and being a content focused company, we need to be good at content marketing and ATSU. Cause if we don’t do it, then the customers won’t trust us and they won’t kind of, you know, believe what we are building. So that’s one thing. We are also working a lot on social media. So Twitter, if you see there’s so many people making tweets and stuff about us now, influencers some PR and stuff as well. So lots of different factors that we tried.

John Jantsch (06:17): So that was really gonna be my next question. But I think you halfway answered it. Do you use right Sonic in all of your own marketing?

Sam Garg (06:23): We do. Yeah. So, I mean, if you check our landing pages, those are written by right. Sonic yeah. You check our blog. Most of them are written by right. Sonic with some, you know, improvements from humans. Like, you know, some fine tuning and some polishing, but yeah, we use it for everything.

John Jantsch (06:38): So you just mentioned blog posts and landing pages. What are some other ways that you see? I mean, you, I’m sure people are creating ads and social media tweets and you know, all that. What are some innovative ways you see people using it? And again, maybe you don’t, maybe you don’t really have access to the ways people, but maybe you’ve heard.

Sam Garg (06:56): Yeah. So I mean, apart from the 80 different use cases that we support, so people also tend to kind of mix and match different use cases. For example, we don’t have a book writing use case right now where you can, you know, just write a book, but people kind of combine different tools and people have written like eBooks and stuff. People have written songs and compose like, you know, proper lyrics and stuff and written that, or they have written like quite big like stories for children or stories in general. So lots of different use cases people are trying out for sure. And we are amazed to see things people are doing there. Yeah.

John Jantsch (07:28): Yeah. I bet writing an entire book. Now that that’s gonna be, that’s gonna be an interesting use case someday. Isn’t it. So on the flip side of that, what mistakes do you see people making when it comes to thinking about using, you know, AI technology?

Sam Garg (07:43): Yeah. So, I mean, there are some like set of people who think that, you know, AI can just do all of their jobs. So without them kind of doing any editing or kind of any thinking, it just would do everything for them. You know, it’s like a miracle, it just works and you don’t do anything. But whereas what we are kind of doing here is we are targeting ourselves as an sort of like a tool that helps writers that increases their productivity, right? So we come up with the first draft, that’s 80% there and then remaining 10 or 20% is where you add your own unique writing style or your unique sort of insights, and then improve that before you publish it out. Essentially.

John Jantsch (08:18): Now let’s hear from a sponsor, you know, today everybody’s online, but are they finding your website, grab the online spotlight and your customer’s attention with Semrush from content and SEO to ads and social media Semrush is your one stop shop for online marketing build, manage and measure campaigns across all channels faster and easier. Are you ready to take your business to the next level, get seen, get Semush, visit Semush that’s Semrush.com/go to try it free for seven days. Yeah. And that’s actually the way I tell people as well that, you know, don’t think of it as done. Just think of it as, as you know, you now don’t have to do the research. And so some of the grunt work, right? So, so the flip side of that, then, you know, what are some tips to get the best end product,

Sam Garg (09:08): The best ones, the best results that you get out of any AI model, whether that’s for image or text is when you give it good inputs, right? So the better the inputs, the better your outputs would be. So with these generative AI models, whether that is for text or image, the quality of the input sort of is directly proportional to your output. So the more in depth and like detail and very specific prompts or descriptions that you give to the AI, the better the text of the output would generate,

John Jantsch (09:36): Especially, yeah. I have found as a user that each step, if I iterate a little more, so if it gives me an introduction, you know, from a headline, I’ll actually edit that introduction a little bit. And then let’s say, I want five steps to do blah, blah, blah. I will actually probably edit each of those five steps. And I find that way I really get the best. So it really is kind of a four or five step process to get a blog post written. Isn’t it?

Sam Garg (10:01): Yeah, absolutely. I mean, it’s like you work together with the AI sort of like as an assistant. Right. And that’s where the magic happens.

John Jantsch (10:09): Yeah. Yeah. So, so talk a little bit about the images and the image product. How are you seeing, you know, right now I feel like it’s almost just a playground for a lot of people that, you know, they’re just going in and seeing, wow, it’s amazing. It did that, but what are, what are some of the end use cases really gonna be? I mean, do you see people actually creating images that they want for, or illustrations that they want for their websites that could go with their brand? I mean, how far do you think that the image creation can go?

Sam Garg (10:39): So yeah. I mean, it has come like a long way. Just lasted. If you were to kind of look at da or clip models, right. They were like, not there that the images were very bad, but just in the last two months, since da came and now stable diff fusion and mid journey, all these different models came up. Yeah. So the quality has improved by a lot where we are seeing the most amount of use cases, right. And of course the models are still developing, you know, every day the improvements are happening, but what, where we are seeing, uh, people using it is for stock images. So earlier where you would get it from Unsplash or these sites, same image, you can find on like a hundred different sites. Right. So there’s no personalization, there’s no kind of unique thing there. So now people can basically, we are even building this thing, right?

(11:20): So shutter stock and all these sites, they charge you like hundreds of thousands of dollars for one image. So what you can do is basically take the same description on that link. You put it in photo and it’ll give you a same image, like similar image for that same context, but it would be like hundred times cheaper than that. Yeah. So these are some of the use cases and then beauty, not beauty, like fashion and stuff like, you know, you have different clothes, so you can kind of try it out through the AI, you know, different combinations or furniture you can, you know, let’s say on Airbnb or something, you have a flat, like an empty apartment, but you want to show it fully furnished. So basically you tell the AI, you know, put a couch there, add some lighting and these kinds of things and to make it look very cool. And then that, that you can put on zoom plow all these platforms. So, so,

John Jantsch (12:06): So who’s driving or what technology is driving all of the, this image creation. So in other words, people talk about G P T three, you know, for the, you know, for the article writing. But so what’s driving the images.

Sam Garg (12:18): So images basically, there’s this technology called kind of latent diffusion where, you know, all these models, daily, stable diffusion, all of them are based on that.

John Jantsch (12:29): And Google also is very deep into, to, you know, their own image recognition. Aren’t they isn’t that a lot. What drives us?

Sam Garg (12:37): So not image recognition. I would say image recognition is sort of like a different space. Okay. But yeah, Google recently released this model called image gen that is sort of like similar to dally and it’s kind of doing a similar sort of thing. And

John Jantsch (12:50): Part of that, part of their rationale for that is, is for SEO purposes or for search purposes. Right. To be able to recognize what’s in a photo.

Sam Garg (12:59): Exactly. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Everything is related to that for

John Jantsch (13:02): Google. Yeah, exactly. Some more ads somehow. Yeah. so absolutely

Sam Garg (13:07): What’s

John Jantsch (13:07): Coming in AI in your view. I mean, a lot of people, you know, three, four years ago, it was still talked about almost like science fiction. Now people are seeing it every day or not even realizing that they’re experiencing it every day, but what’s so what’s out there three to five years from now.

Sam Garg (13:24): Yeah. So the, where the way we look at it is almost everything will have some sort of AI element in it. So right. Like last year kind of this whole AI writing industry blew up now it’s time for images and then next year it would be videos and then music and, you know, so sort of like all of these fields would sort of democratize by AI. Yeah. And yeah. So that’s what we see video probably in a couple of months or maybe an ear down the line, we’ll see videos also being made using AI, like movies and all sorts of stuff happening through AI, PowerPoint, presentations and everything. Basically we can see creative fields essentially coming up to,

John Jantsch (14:02): So what do you tell a creative, what do you tell a, a copywriter or an illustrator? Are they gonna be outta work in three years or is there some way in which they need to participate strategically in using AI?

Sam Garg (14:15): So yeah, that’s one thing that, that many people ask us. Sure. So the, a AI where it is at right now, it is not here to replace jobs is basically here to augment the, you know, the way that people work. So instead of, for example, for writers, instead of the AI, replacing them, it’s more like augmenting them. Yeah. And basically, for example, you know, freelancers, Lance writers, what they used to do in like one month with help from AI. Now they can do it in like one week. Yeah. Or even lesser like couple of days so they can get kind of more projects. They can make more money, they can kind of make more clients. So it’s a win-win for them as well if they kind of use it productively and in a good way. So that’s what we say.

John Jantsch (14:55): You know, I’m really advising, I coach a lot of marketing agencies and we’re, you know, we’re just telling everybody that will listen. You have to be using AI to become much more efficient with clients in the marketing space. I mean, it’s just a given what’s what’s coming for right. Sonic in the, in your roadmap.

Sam Garg (15:14): Yeah. So I mean, of course there’s the writing space. So right now we are focusing solely on blog and long form writing. Right. We do have 80 other use cases as, as well, but 80% of our users are using our blogging tools. Sosu and this is all that will be focusing on how can we produce very EO, optimized articles and blog posts that can be ran on Google easily. So that’s one thing. And then apart from that, as I mentioned, you know, we, we are right on, we are kind of experimenting with images and then next it’s coming for videos and then photo Sonic. So then video Sonic, and then we have kind of lyric Sonic or something and then slide Sonic for PowerPoints and stuff. So we are going to kind of explore all these different things where we can kind of the whole marketing pipeline or the whole pipeline we can sort of, you know, optimize using AI essentially.

John Jantsch (16:01): Awesome, exciting stuff. Well, Sam, thanks for joining the duct tape marketing podcast. You wanna tell people where, where they can find out more about right. Sonic and maybe connect with you even.

Sam Garg (16:11): Yeah, for sure. First of all, really glad to be here. Lovely chatting with you, John. Yeah. And, uh, yeah, so right, son, if you can find at right. so.com that’s w R I D E S O N I T. Right. so.com or you can just Google it and yeah.

John Jantsch (16:25): Awesome. Well, great. Hopefully we’ll, I’ll keep reaching out to you, Sam, just as I experiment with AI and with right. Sonic and hopefully we stay connected.

Sam Garg (16:35): Yeah. Awesome. Thank you very much, John. Really appreciate it.

John Jantsch (16:39): Take care. Hey, and one final thing before you go, you know how I talk about marketing strategy strategy before tactics? Well, sometimes it can be hard to understand where you stand in that what needs to be done with regard to creating a marketing strategy. So we created a free tool for you. It’s called the marketing strategy assessment. You can find it @ marketingassessment.co heck out our free marketing assessment and learn where you are with your strategy today. That’s just marketingassessment.co I’d love to chat with you about the results that you get.

This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by the HubSpot Podcast Network and Semrush.

HubSpot Podcast Network is the audio destination for business professionals who seek the best education and inspiration on how to grow a business.

 

 

Everybody’s online, but are they finding your website? Grab the online spotlight and your customers’ attention with Semrush. From Content and SEO to ads and social media, Semrush is your one-stop-shop for online marketing. Build, manage, and measure campaigns —across all channels — faster and easier. Are you ready to take your business to the next level? Get seen. Get Semrush. Visit semrush.com/go to try it free for 7 days.

 

A Simple Guide To Sparking Your Creative Energy Every Day

A Simple Guide To Sparking Your Creative Energy Every Day written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with Todd Henry

In this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I interview Todd Henry. Todd teaches leaders and organizations how to establish practices that lead to everyday brilliance. He is the author of five books (The Accidental Creative, Die Empty, Louder Than Words, Herding Tigers, The Motivation Code, Daily Creative) which have been translated into more than a dozen languages, and he speaks and consults across dozens of industries on creativity, leadership, and passion for work. He’s the author of a new book — The Daily Creative.

Key Takeaway:

Even if you don’t think of yourself as creative, you’d probably be surprised by how many creative tools you use every day. You solve problems, design, write, invent, or in other words―create. But the pressure we feel to continually create value with our minds can cause tremendous stress and eventually neutralize our ability to be effective in our roles long term. In this episode, Todd Henry talks about thriving as a creative pro and how to establish practices that help spark your creative energy every day.

Questions I ask Todd Henry:

  • [1:50] Could you describe Daily Creative in your own words?
  • [5:28] How did you collect and organize thoughts for each daily entry?
  • [7:22] Are there more words than a traditional business book?
  • [7:54] Talk to me a little bit about how much harder it is to write short.
  • [9:03] Would you say you have to pay more attention to your writing when it is short?
  • [10:52] Did you feel like you had to kind of bring yourself out of the advice category and position it as though you are going to walk alongside them through the journey?
  • [17:53] Who did you write this book for?
  • [19:12] Where can people learn more about your work and grab a copy of your book?

More About Todd Henry:

Take The Marketing Assessment:

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

John Jantsch (00:00): This episode or the duct tape marketing podcast is brought to you by the nudge podcast, hosted by Phil Agnew and brought to you by the HubSpot podcast network. You can learn the science behind great marketing with bite size 20 minute episodes packed with practical advice from admired marketers and behavioral scientist. Nudge is a fast pace, but still insightful with real world examples that you can apply. Her recent issue. Talked about the, the idea of getting your customers or prospects in the habit of buying from you or listening to you or following you habit based marketing, download, nudge, wherever you get your podcasts.

(00:48): Hello, and welcome to another episode of the duct tape marketing podcast. This is John Jan and my guest today is Todd Henry. Todd teaches leaders and organizations, how to establish practices that lead to everyday brilliance. He’s the author of five books, including the accidental, creative and die empty and hurting tigers. I’m just trying to think I’ve probably had you on here for most of them today. We’re gonna talk about a new book called the daily creative. So Todd, welcome back.

Todd Henry (01:15): Thank you. It’s great to be here and I am a huge admirer of your work. As you know, we’ve had many conversations about that. So it’s always a joy to talk with you. I know you’re a huge admirer. You’re also a huge copycat cuz I invented the daily book. So you did it. Wasn’t you know, Thomas Merton it wasn’t he had a cracky.

(01:34): Yeah, exactly. Yeah, no, it was definitely John Jantsch with the ator of the format. And I appreciate I, I am following in your footsteps, so thank you.

John Jantsch (01:42): No, I, I absolutely love it. The format is proven. It is a very different kind of book. So let me, well, well first let’s do this. I’ll ask you to just describe the book in your own words.

Todd Henry (01:52): Sure. So daily creative is a daily reader for creative pros to help you be prolific, brilliant and healthy. The idea is that every day you’ll open up basically a surprise package and it will challenge you or provoke you in some way about how you approach your life and your work that day. And there’s very intentional. I mean, and there’s not really a rhyme or reason to it. It’s not like, oh, this week we’re gonna talk about focus and next week we’re gonna talk about, you know, relationships.

(02:15): Instead. I want it every day to feel like a surprise because that’s often what life feels like. You know, you, you don’t, I mean, work is not predictable. And so every time and my hope is people go through this multiple times, right? It’s not something you read it. And then you’re like, okay, I’m done with it. It’s something that hopefully you can go through multiple times every time you read it, it’ll be like stepping into a new stream.

John Jantsch (02:33): Yeah. I used to say that too, because the thing about a daily book it’s dated, you know, there are three, did you do 360 6 or 360? 66? Yep. Yep. Nice. Gotta get those leap here. People um, the next year on September 7th, that’s when you and I are recording this I’ll be a different person. Yeah. And so it will hit me differently. You won’t, it, it will.

Todd Henry (02:54): Absolutely. And you know, this is what’s interesting is yeah, I know we’re sort of joking about, you know, kind of being the originator of the format, but there are a number of daily readers that I’ve been going through for years and years. And I still go through them right. Every year I have, one of my favorites is by CS Lewis or it’s not by him, but it’s a collection of his writings from just all of his different works. And every morning I pick it up and I read something from it and it provokes me in a different way every time. And so, you know, in the middle of the pandemic, you know, I think a lot of us kind of felt a little bit like we were drowning a bit, you know, with all of the uncertainty and the last thing you wanna do when somebody’s drowning is drop them a 300 page manual about how to swim.

(03:32): And I felt like, as I was thinking about what my next book was gonna be, I thought, you know, there are a lot of people right now who just need to build some daily practices to help them stay engaged. And so I thought instead of dropping another 300 page manual about how to, you know, create on demand, maybe what I’ll do is just take some of the best stuff that I’ve written over the years and kind of divided up into daily actionable nuggets since that’s really, that was kind of the Genesis of it. I wrote the book that I needed, honestly. Yeah. And I’m, and what’s interesting is I’ve never written a book, John, you know that when you write a book, you have to be ready to read that book about 20 times before it comes out, because it’s basically what it entails when you’re editing and all that.

(04:08): Um, I’ve never written a book that I immediately started reading the moment it was published. And this book I’ve been incorporating into my daily practice because I wrote the book that I need to read. I need to remind myself of all of these things as well.

John Jantsch (04:19): Yeah. And, and plug for my own book, the self line entrepreneur. I, I did the exact I’ve said the exact same thing. Yeah. I was burned out frankly, as a writer. Um, and I needed something felt like I wanted to do something different and this kind of my, actually my agent is Ryan holiday’s agent Ryan holiday, the daily stoic, of course. So, and actually my agent, Steve Hanselman, curated and participated in the creation when he was an editor at Harper of the daily Drucker, which is a big inspirational book of mine, of Peter Drucker’s work. Right. And I think that, I mean, I think there’s so much to that idea of you, you get to the point where you can, you’re mature enough to write a book that you needed. Right. I mean, mature enough to understand that

Todd Henry (04:59): That’s exactly right. And also, I think often, you know, like in your case, you’re stepping into a deeper stream and you’re drawing from not ancient wisdom, but you’re drawing from aged wisdom right. In your case. And you know, in my case, it’s the same thing. You know, a lot of the stories or the essays in the book are drawn from anecdotes or stories or illustrations of things that I had heard or experienced over the years that had been helpful to me in some way. And I didn’t wanna, I didn’t wanna forget about those things. You know, I wanted to make sure I continued to apply them well.

John Jantsch (05:28): And I noticed some accidental, creative showing up some Ty showing up. I mean, so I think I don’t mean passages, but I mean certainly themes and ideas from it.

(05:36): And I was gonna ask you that, you know, how did you collect and organize? And you already kind of let that out a little bit, that it was, I wanted surprise, but you clearly had to have a spreadsheet somewhere that said, here’s what my 366 doubts are, didn’t you,

Todd Henry (05:49): you know, what’s interesting is I didn’t have a spreadsheet sheet actually. Right. But I did have a plan going in. I wrote this book in about three months. Wow. Well to about two and two and a half months, which, you know, you can appreciate how crazy that is. That was basically five entries a day, Monday through Friday for two and a half months is what it took me to be able to do this. It was a really crazy time, you know, trying to get this done. But what I would do is once a week I would sit down and have a planning session and I would look at what I had written.

(06:18): And I would think about what I had yet to write about or, you know, ideas or stories that I had yet to share. And I would map out the week on Sunday evening and say, okay, Monday, I’m gonna write these five Tuesday. I’m gonna write these five Wednesday. I’m gonna write these five. And I mean, there’s a lot of words. Normally when I write a book, I write about 500 words a day over the course of about a year. That’s about what it takes me to write the drafts typically. And in this case I was writing, you know, thousands of words a day to try to get these done. But, but it was a really interesting and stretching experience to do this. And I think in the end it ended up, I think, I think I captured everything I wanted to try to capture. There was a, an underlying organ organizational principle, which was focus relationships, energy stimuli, and hours, the five elements of what I call creative rhythm.

(07:03): So, you know, many of the entries tie back to focus. Many of them tie back to relationships, to energy, to stimuli or the things we put in our brain to help us spark ideas and how we use our time effectively, not just efficiently. So that was kind of the organizing structure, but it wasn’t like, oh, today I’m gonna write about focus and tomorrow it’s gonna be relationships. It was kind, kind of bounced around a little bit intentionally

John Jantsch (07:22): and total word counts probably more 30, 40,000 more words than a traditional business book. Right? Yeah.

Todd Henry (07:29): Yeah. I always tell people, I wrote a book that was a third longer than any book I’ve ever written in about a third of the time has ever taken to write a book. So, yeah.

John Jantsch (07:36): And that’s really interesting because I think I took longer to write my daily than any book I’ve written because I’ve found it grueling mm-hmm .

(07:45): And talk to me about this idea. I mean, every entry is, I don’t know, four or 500 words maybe tops in your book, right? Couple 300, probably 2, 2, 300. Yeah. Two, 300. Right. So talk to me about how much harder it is to write short .

Todd Henry (08:00): It is well, and that’s kind of the secret to it is the, I’ll say the final entry was about 300 words. The first draft of the entry, however, was probably six or 700 words. The hard part was getting down to that 300 words because it’s hard to express an idea in 300 words to really do an idea justice in just 300 words. So the hardest part was the editing. When we fi, when I finally got the draft done, and then I’m like, oh, this is gonna be a 1500 page book if I don’t do some editing to this.

(08:30): And so that was really the hardest part as you know, you very well it’s that, um, I forget the source of the quote, but it’s the old thing of, you know, if I have more time, I would’ve written a shorter letter. Yeah. And that’s kind of the way it felt with this book, you know? Yeah. But I think we got down to the essence. I think we got down to the core of it, but yeah, we wanted to include, you know, all kinds of other stuff that we just weren’t able to. I mean, maybe that’ll be version two, right? Yeah. Version two will be, you know, 366 more ideas or something.

John Jantsch (08:57): I, I find that it’s just going to, that. I would’ve read a short letter. It’s actually easier to write longer because you can be lazy when, when every sentence has to at least like two or three sentences and there have to deliver a gut punch, so to speak, you really have to pay attention to what you’re writing, don’t you

Todd Henry (09:15): oh. A hundred percent. And you have to really know what you’re trying to say. You have to really understand the kernel, the essence of the paragraph, and be able to deliver that almost poetically. It almost has to feel like poetry in a way, because if you don’t, it’s just gonna feel like you just rambled on for a couple of paragraphs and then, you know, okay, well, what was that? I have no idea what that was about. And so it is really hard to do that. I think that’s the hardest part of any job or any business, right? I mean, think about the people you work with and you’re trying to help them get down to the core of who they are in the value that they deliver their customers or, you know, how they position themselves in the marketplace. I mean, the hardest part is getting down to that core essence and being able to describe it very succinctly.

(09:59): You give somebody five minutes and they can tell you what they do, but can they do it in five words? That’s a lot harder to do.

John Jantsch (10:06): And now let’s hear from a sponsor, you know, today everybody’s online, but are they finding your website, grab the online spotlight and your customers attention with Semrush from content and SEO to ads and social media. Semrush is your one stop shop for online marketing build, manage, and measure campaigns across all channels, faster and easier. Are you ready to take your business to the next level? Get seen, get Semrush, visit Semrush that’s Semrush.com/go to try it free for seven days.

(10:40): Let me ask you this also because it really, the intention is somebody is going, you’re gonna be with them every day. I mean, that’s the goal, right? So, um, there might be a tendency to say, here’s what you should do.

(10:52): Did you feel like you had to kind of bring yourself out of the advice category and more like I’m gonna walk alongside with you?

Todd Henry (11:01): Yeah. It was really difficult to do that because you do wanna be prescriptive. Right. Right. And the reality is people don’t need, it’s not 366 commands, you know, like do these things. I’ll give you an example. Today’s entry with, I mean, again, which I read right along with everybody else who’s reading the book right now was about how you define greatness. And the entire injury was about, you know, how you define greatness, defines you. And if you haven’t really thought about how you define greatness, you’re gonna spend your life chasing vapor. You’re gonna spend your life chasing everybody. Else’s definition of greatness. And so the prompt or the question today was how do you define greatness for yourself and for your work?

(11:33): What does that look like? Don’t care what everybody else thinks, what this greatness look like to you today this week, you know, this year. And then chase after that, that doesn’t feel like advice or a command. It feels more like somebody saying, Hey, remember that thing that you once knew very well, but have forgotten because you’re so busy and you lose sight of it. Well, I’m here to remind you of that tap on the shoulder. Hey, remember, you know, you need to have a clear sense of what you’re aiming for. You’re probably not gonna hit it. You’re gonna hit somebody else’s target, not your own. So that was, that’s really kind of the tone I tried to strike in the book is more of like, it’s more of like 366 helpful reminders or provoking thoughts along with a corresponding challenge. Like my friend that is, you know, I’m sort of hugging you, but I’m also sort of kicking you in the butt at the same time.

(12:20): That’s kind of what I wanna do because I think that’s what we need sometimes. Well, and

John Jantsch (12:24): I think as I read that, which I did today, uh, one of the things that comes out in that is like, not like you have to have these great, you know, Harry audacious goals, you know, type of language. It’s like, no, you get to define it, but you better. Yeah, that’s right. I mean, it can create somebody else’s definition of mediocrity, but you get to decide

Todd Henry (12:43): that’s right. Or, you know, greatness to, you can mean, I am able to show up fully and freely for my family every single day. Right. That can be greatness for you. And you know what your job is a means to that end for you. And that’s fine. That’s great. Maybe your job’s the way you make money. You don’t have to go out and build an empire.

(13:01): You just have to make enough money that you can show up for your family every day. And that’s your definition of greatness. Congratulations. If you did it today, you pursue greatness in your life. Right. You know, for other people, they have different understandings of that. They have a different sense of calling and different arenas and that’s fine too, but you have to have some understanding of what you’re trying to do, or you’re gonna spend your entire life chasing everybody else’s definition of greatness.

John Jantsch (13:22): So one thing that I did with the self-reliant entrepreneur, and I wonder if you would, uh, allow me to ask you to do the same. Why don’t you read today? Do you have the well, I’d love to .

Todd Henry (13:31): I do. Let me turn around and grab one out of the shelf.

(13:37): I have one right here. Okay. And I will tell you, I’ll just, why don’t I start with January or I could read the entry.

John Jantsch (13:47): We just talked a little bit, let let’s read the one we talked about, cuz there’s some context and you and I are recording this on September 7th.

Todd Henry (13:53): We are, let me look the September 7th. And by the way, that was part of what, and I’m sure you had the exact same thought with your book and the format. Part of the coolness for me is I wanted to create a cadence of thousands of people or hopefully eventually tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of people thinking about having the same conversations on the same day. You know, every single day, like September 7th is the day that we think about greatness and our definition of greatness and teams can talk about that. Or people can talk about that.

(14:20): I think there’s something cool. I think you create that cadence. That’s how culture begins to change inside of organizations and you know, just in the world in general. So, so September 7th, how you define greatness? What does the word greatness mean to you? Think of someone you consider great. What qualities do they exhibit? What really makes them great in your mind? Is it what they’ve accomplished? How others recognize them or what others say about them? The work they leave behind some inevitable quality of character or personality. I believe that how you define greatness will determine a lot about the direction of your life and career. In fact, how you define greatness ultimately defines you because it determines well, you will choose to spend your time, energy focus and finite resources. Have you ever considered what greatness really means? How will you know when you’ve achieved it? If you don’t take time to define greatness for yourself, you might spend your entire life chasing vapor or someone else’s idea of what it means, how you define greatness, defines you. And the question for the day is how do you define greatness for yourself and your work and how will you know, when you’ve achieved it?

John Jantsch (15:18): So I’m wondering if there are any listeners, am I asking this hypothetically that actually gave you a little scare because I think that, you know, again, our mutual friend, I think Steven Presfield wrote a blurb for your book. You know, that whole idea of, if you felt that feeling of a little bit of fear, that’s the thing you definitely better look at and chase and understand. And I think that’s the hard thing about that kind of entry or not the hard thing. I think that’s the job of that kind of entry, right. Is to spark some sort of reaction.

Todd Henry (15:49): Yeah. I, well, it, and it is meant to be not provocative, but evocative. Yes. And I always strive to do that with my work. I wanna evoke, I don’t wanna provoke provoking just means I’m gonna stick a finger in your chest and force a response.

(16:01): Right. But I want to call out of you something that is great in you call out of you, something that you deeply suspect to be true, but maybe have never been able to put language to. And I think that’s what, you know, what your work does for me. John, is you give me language for things that I know, but just don’t know how to talk about sometimes or I suspect. And you know, I just, but I just don’t know how to really articulate. And you do that for me. And I think that’s what good writers do is they give people language for things that they’ve always felt, but didn’t necessarily recognize. And so that’s, again, that’s kind of what I’m trying to do with this. And so if people feel that sense of weight, oh my goodness. You know, that sort of really evokes something in me.

(16:40): Good. That’s exactly what I’m trying to do. And that doesn’t mean you have to come up with the answer today. It doesn’t mean, you know, oh, if I don’t define greatness right now, my life is gonna be, you know, way off course. But hopefully it does inspire you in some way to at least consider what are you trying to do? What are you aiming for you? Who are you trying to become? Cause I think it’s a much more interesting question than what are you trying to do? Who you’re becoming is way more important than what you’re doing because ultimately that’s how you’re gonna step into and, and then really envelope the calling that is put in front of you. Yeah.

John Jantsch (17:10): And of course the first step to that is awareness. Who am I is right. Absolutely. Is the first question to who am I becoming? Right.

Todd Henry (17:16): That’s right. And we discover who we are by doing things right. Yeah. By going out, but not by sitting around thinking about it or wondering, or Naval gazing, but by going out and doing things and trying and failing and adding value and figuring out, oh, maybe I don’t, I’m not really all that good at that. Right. And that’s how we, that’s how we discover ourselves. And then we figure that out and we start trying to find ways of adding value and building a portfolio.

John Jantsch (17:39): So you, you mentioned at the very beginning of this, that you felt like you wrote the book you needed, but I assume at some point you were, you had a thought here’s who needs this book or here’s, you know, here’s the ideal person or, you know, here’s who I’m writing this book for. So how would you describe that person in a way that might help them realize this is a book they need?

Todd Henry (18:00): I wrote this book for people who are somewhat into their career. So they have responsibility that they carry on their shoulders, but they haven’t yet arrived at their ultimate career ambition. And they’re facing the weight every day of having to create under pressure, having to deliver value under pressure. And that weight never relents. They lay down one weight and somebody piles two more on their shoulders. And that’s what it often feels like when you’re working in an organizational role. And so that’s really who I wrote this book for it’s people who are creative professionals. There are two words as part of that name, creative meaning, Hey, we get to solve problems and make things. And that’s wonderful professionals means we have to show up every day and do the work, whether we feel like it or not. And so I really wanted to help creative professionals have some framework for how they approach their days, that would help them to be prolific brilliant. And most importantly, I think healthy because if you don’t get the healthy piece, right, you’re gonna lose the prolific and brilliant piece as well.

John Jantsch (19:03): I think that’s a great place for us to wrap up Tom, thanks so much for stuff. And by the duct tape marketing podcast, uh, we were talking about his book, the daily creative, where would you like people? Well, I will sort of ask you another question on our going out here. Where would you like people to connect with you? Obviously the book will be available anywhere, but also what are your plans for maybe trying to build a community around this?

Todd Henry (19:22): Yeah. So you can learn more about me@toddhenry.com. That’s my personal site, but we’re building@dailycreative.net. We’re actually building out an entire community. Then we have tremendous plans around what we’re gonna do with daily creative, including, you know, building out some tools for creative pros to use in their day to day life as well to implement a lot of this stuff. So I’m very excited about that, but right now there’s actually a community@dailycreative.net and go and join your fellow creative pros and even get daily, creative delivered every day, you know, audio and email and have some conversation around these topics with me and meet up and all those kinds of fun things.

(19:55): So we have big plans right now for daily creative@dailycreative.net.

John Jantsch (20:00): Awesome. Well, thanks again for taking the time and hopefully we’ll run into each other one of these days. Soon out there on the road

Todd Henry (20:06): would love that. Thanks John

John Jantsch (20:07): Hey, and one final thing before you go, you know how I talk about marketing strategy, strategy before tactics? Well, sometimes it can be hard to understand where you stand in that what needs to be done with regard to creating a marketing strategy. So we created a free tool for you. It’s called the marketing strategy assessment. You can find it @ marketingassessment.co check out our free marketing assessment and learn where you are with your strategy today. That’s just marketingassessment.co I’d love to chat with you about the results that you get.

This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by the HubSpot Podcast Network and Semrush.

HubSpot Podcast Network is the audio destination for business professionals who seek the best education and inspiration on how to grow a business.

 

 

Everybody’s online, but are they finding your website? Grab the online spotlight and your customers’ attention with Semrush. From Content and SEO to ads and social media, Semrush is your one-stop-shop for online marketing. Build, manage, and measure campaigns —across all channels — faster and easier. Are you ready to take your business to the next level? Get seen. Get Semrush. Visit semrush.com/go to try it free for 7 days.

 

Weekend Favs September 10

Weekend Favs September 10 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 I 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.

  • SwipeWell – compiles hundreds of marketing and copywriting examples to use for inspiration. It has templates and samples from social media ads and pricing pages to lead nurture emails.
  • Skybucket – is a mobile and desktop app that allows travelers to collect, visualize, and control their travel bucket lists. Just create a board, and you can save content from all external sources and get notifications and reminders.
  • Spinach.io makes daily standup meetings more straightforward by helping teams with icebreakers, saving all the discussion topics for the end, sending daily summaries through Slack, and more.

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

If you want to check out more Weekend Favs you can find them here.

Building An Effective Board For Your Startup

Building An Effective Board For Your Startup written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with Brad Feld

In this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I interview Brad Feld. Brad has been an early-stage investor and entrepreneur since 1987. Prior to co-founding Foundry, he co-founded Mobius Venture Capital and is also a co-founder of Techstars. He’s also an author of a number of books including — Startup Boards: A Field Guide to Building and Leading an Effective Board of Directors.

Key Takeaway:

The first time many founders see the inside of a board room is when they step in to lead their board. But how do boards work? How should they be structured, managed, and leveraged so that startups can grow, avoid pitfalls, and get the best out of their boards? In this episode, author, investor, and entrepreneur, Brad Feld, shares his advice and guidance with CEOs, board members, investors, and anyone aspiring to serve on a board on what it takes to build and lead an effective board of directors.

Questions I ask Brad Feld:

  • [1:31] Why did you create a second edition?
  • [4:38] Could you talk a little bit about the research you’ve done on the evolution of boards?
  • [6:52] What are the mistakes people tend to make when building a board?
  • [10:38] What point do you tell someone they need a board?
  • [12:15] Are there things that need to be in place if you’re a startup company before building a board?
  • [13:45] If I’m asked to be on a board, what should be expected of me and vice versa, if I’m a founder, you know, what am I expecting a board member to ultimately contribute?
  • [16:30] How important is it that board members like and respect each other?
  • [18:46] Where can people find out more about startup boards and the work that you’re doing?

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

John Jantsch (00:00): This episode or the duct tape marketing podcast is brought to you by the nudge podcast, hosted by Phil Agnew and brought to you by the HubSpot podcast network. You can learn the science behind great marketing with bite size 20 minute episodes packed with practical advice from admired marketers and behavioral scientists. Nudge is a fast pace, but still insightful with real world examples that you can apply her recent issue. Talked about the, the idea of getting your customers, your prospects in the habit of buying from you or listening to you or following you habit based marketing, download, nudge, wherever you get your podcasts.

(00:47): Hello, and welcome to another episode of the duct tape marketing podcast. This is John Jantsch and my guest today is Brad Feld. He’s been an early stage investor in entrepreneur since 1987. Co-founder of Foundry Mo’s venture capital and tech stars, but he’s also the author of a number of books, including one we’re gonna talk about today. Startup boards, a field guide to building and leading and effective board of directors. So Brad, welcome back to the show.

Brad Feld (01:14): It’s great to be 4,000 feet below you. Can’t always, I think I’d rather be 4,000 feet higher than I am right now. I’d

John Jantsch (01:21): Rather be a little toasty out there. So I have authors back that update books quite often, and sort of the logical sort of cliche question has to be, you know, why a second edition, if I own the first edition, what am I gonna get by getting the next one?

Brad Feld (01:36): A couple of things. First, the first edition of startup boards was good, but I was not proud of it. It was a unique book. There really weren’t any books written for entrepreneurs about boards, but I wrote it during a time period that I went through a six month depressive episode. I was very function, but it was a real grind. And I wasn’t really enjoying the, the work of the book. And my co-author at the time, me Hendra did a great job, including putting up with me, but in the end, you know, when I reflected on the book and read it, you know, I usually read a book I write a year later and just sort of think about it again. Good, but it wasn’t one where I’m like, wow, I’m really proud of it. So we took the opportunity to really improve it. We added a third coauthor coauthor, Matt Bloomberg, who I’m sure we’ll talk about.

(02:19): And Matt really was extremely helpful, but I was also very motivated to turn it into a great book this time around the other big thing was that we wrote the book in 2013 and the book didn’t age. Well, in terms of yeah, temporary boards and specifically, we had a bunch of sidebars from board members and CEOs and experienced entrepreneurs and almost all of them were from men. And we had a bunch of quotes and they were also almost all for men. And so when we started talking to people about a second edition of the book, a couple of the women that we reached out to, you know, made comments like one, one of ’em said that I don’t encounter a woman until page 82 in your book. And so it doesn’t really make me feel like the books for me. And of course, you know, there’s been a lot of discussion in the last three or four years about diversity, both gender and racial on boards. And that would be an example of the book, not aging. Well, yeah. Yeah. So we took advantage of writing a second addition to really change the voices, changed the language. I discovered a pronoun dynamic called the singular, they, which is totally fascinating. And sort of, I went down a multi-hour rapid hole on the evolution of the English language. And it turns out the singular, they is a much more accessible way to write than alternating. He and she, or trying to do he and she, or he slash she. Yeah.

John Jantsch (03:36): It gets a little clunky, doesn’t it?

Brad Feld (03:37): Yeah. And on top of all of it, right, you also have people who are, who don’t identify as either he or she at this point, just making the book accessible in a way where the idea of a board, uh, and being on a board is something that anyone should feel like in the context of entrepreneur ship, it talks to a handful of other things that we really improve. We make chapters a lot shorter. We refactored a lot of stuff in terms of how we organized the thinking. The first book had much too high, a wall to climb every book I’ve ever written. You know, you try to get the reader into the book in the first 50 to a hundred pages, right. Without making the wall too high. And then you can, after 50, 60, 70 pages start introducing some stuff that is a little bit harder, a little chewier, we had too much chewy stuff up front.

John Jantsch (04:21): Yeah. That’s interesting. My last book, my editor said, we need to take this stuff in the back and put it in the front. I mean, it was the first time I’ve really, and that was really the idea. It’s like, you really give the value of the book here, you know, say it in the first paragraph, you know, so people get in right away. You also did a lot of research between 2013 and 2022, wherever we are today on kind of the evolution of boards in general, haven’t you?

Brad Feld (04:47): Yeah. Although I would say most of my research has been living it. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. So I’ve been on boards, you know, going back to 1994 was my first board shortly after I sold my first company. I guess I was on the board of my first company, but we didn’t really, we didn’t have a board. We had three founders and it was myself, my partner and my dad and we were the board, but I joined a private company board in 94. That was incredibly enlightening experience. And it was a lot of fun. There was some definite challenges and in the end, the company got acquired and it was a good outcome. And so I felt like I participated in contributed meaningfully, but then since then both private company boards and public company boards, I’ve been on a large number of them. And I don’t have any idea what the number is.

(05:26): It’s, you know, the wide range would be greater than a hundred, less than a thousand. And I’ve been on some spectacular boards. I’ve been on some tragically, awful boards, the vast majority of boards I’ve been on have been somewhere in the middle, right. They’ve been, you know, adequate, and I’ve spent a lot of time as a board member individually, but also as a participant in a board, reflecting on what makes both a good board member, but also makes a good board. Yeah. Or the board as a team. And I’ve tried to weave a lot of that experience into this book. And this is another place where Matt, Matt Bloomberg was really helpful for two reasons. One is, um, he’s been a multi-time CEO. So he’s had several boards. I was on his board of his prior company return path, which he ran for 19 years or 20 years.

(06:16): I was on it for 19 years. Huh. So a very long experience with him. And that was his first company. His company that he runs now is a company called bolster, which is an executive marketplace for both full-time and fractional execs, including board members. And so he spent a lot of time thinking hard about not just what makes a good board member, but how somebody becomes board ready. And so all of that kind of experiential research was what came into the book versus a bunch of academic research. You know, that says, this is, you know, we did a statistical study in blah or qualitative assertions, not based off of lots of experience.

John Jantsch (06:52): So the book is mostly about what you should do, but I find that people, you can get leverage. If you actually talk about the problem with most boards, like the mistakes they’re making. So, so, you know, what are the problems that, that if somebody buys this idea, oh yeah, I need a board because people say, I should, what are the mistakes they make?

Brad Feld (07:13): Yeah. Well, we have a fair amount of that in the book too, because we’ve tried to balance it between positive and negative. And we also tried not to be in the language of you should, you know, in terms of it more giving people a framing of how to think about it. But to the specific question, there’s some very simple things that people make mistakes around. When they think about the board, including reasons why early stage entrepreneurs and startup entrepreneurs don’t create boards. One of the mistakes is this sort of desire need for control. And his view is that I want to control my company and therefore I wanna control my board and sort of the implications of that. Another example of a mistake is to not think of the board as a team, but to think of them as individuals and Jeff Lawson, who we quote in the book had a great quote for this, which is as I get to build two teams, my leadership team.

(08:01): Yeah. And my board and yeah, my board can fire me. So I need to just sort of deal with that reality, but that’s fine. You know, until they fire me, I have an opportunity to build a second team that can really help me and the company be successful. Another mistake people make is, and this is sort of a cliche, it’s become cliche. You say to an entrepreneur, well, who do you wanna add to your board? And they say, well, I wanna make sure that I get, you know, I want diversity on my board, but I want to get someone who’s been on a bunch of boards and has been a CEO multiple times. I’m like, all right. So, you know, you’re already starting with a pool. That’s smaller because you’re trying to get a of non-white men, for example. And you know, all the people that have those characteristics are already on too many boards, cuz there’s a lot of demand for them.

(08:42): And so you’re not really sort of thinking about it from the standpoint of what functional value do you want to get out of the board member versus the, you know, the sort of reputational value. And I could keep going the last ID end with though here, which I think is really interesting. It was interesting when it came up, Matt came up with an idea that he calls the rule of one and or the rules of one and fundamentally boards become very imbalanced. Uh, a lot of times founders try to control the boards at the beginning and then you start raising money from VCs and with each round and other VC ends up on the board. And all of a sudden you got founders on the boards and VC’s on the board and it’s just not a healthy board. You’re not building a team, that’s a board.

(09:21): And so Matt’s rule of one includes the idea that for every VC that you add to the board, you had an independent director and his idea of a balance board is the CEO who could also be the founder and then an independent director and a VC director. And for every VC director, you add an independent director. Now there are definitely, I don’t necessarily agree with him that there should only be the CEO on the board, especially the, CEO’s not the founder. A lot of times there’s a lot of value to have a second founder on the board or if the CEO is not a founder, but his framework was really helpful, like in clarifying this idea that even at the very beginning, you’re trying to build this team of highly effective participants rather than create a controlled dynamic or defend against a control dynamic.

John Jantsch (10:04): Yeah. And now let’s hear from a sponsor, you know, today everybody’s online, but are they finding your website, grab the online spotlight and your customer’s attention with some rush from content and SEO to ads and social media. Semrush is your one stop shop for online marketing build, manage and measure campaigns across all channels faster and easier. Are you ready to take your business to the next level? Get seen, get Semrush, visit Semrush that’s Semush.com/go to try it free for seven days. So at what point do you tell people they need one? I mean, should somebody have an idea for a business and start thinking a board’s gonna be an aspect of it?

Brad Feld (10:45): Well, from a purely legal perspective, once you create your company formally, whether it’s a, you know, incorporated or it’s an LLC or even an S Corp by definition, your company has a legal thing called a board that might have one person. Yeah. You, my general view is if your intention is to grow your business beyond just you having a board from the early stages is very helpful. Um, at the minimum, it gives you a group of people other than you and your founder or founders to engage with you. As your thinking through the business, it also creates some accountability for communication and some rigor around stepping back and thinking about what’s going on with your business. There are plenty of people who think that, you know, creating a board at the earliest stages is too early. I just don’t, I’ve never, I’ve seen the opposite happen so many more times, which is delaying creating a board results in the company going off the rails.

(11:40): Yeah. I very rarely there, I can think of a few cases where a board was not, you know, as harmful to a very young company for some reason, but very few, most of the time, if the board members know that their job is to help the founders be successful, their job is not to torture the founders. Their job is not a purely governance one, cuz there’s just not a lot of governance stuff that needs to happen at the very early stages. If you have the right mindset as a board member, which is you have some formal responsibilities, but really your job here is to help the entrepreneurs be successful. Early board can be very powerful.

John Jantsch (12:15): So a little bit of the flip side of that, are there things that need to be in place if you’re a startup company? I mean, rather than saying, yeah, let’s just go get a board. I mean, are there some things that you need to have worked out first?

Brad Feld (12:28): I mean it sure, but not in a, again, other than the legal creation of a formal company. Yeah, not really. I mean, most of the time when you create a board, even if it’s relatively early in your life, you’re gonna create some structure around that board. You’re gonna create indemnification agreement. So the directors liabilities are covered by the company. You’re probably gonna have some rules of engagement for how the board members and the company interact. Whether even if they’re informal, you know, you’re gonna wanna be in a position where you can grant equity, uh, to board members for service. Because generally speaking for private boards, you know, you should compensate your board members with, you know, a non-zero but modest amount of equity for their board service. So, but you know, it’s very variable. I mean, I think about situations where a lot of times at the very early stages, somebody says, well, I’m gonna just create a bunch of advisors or an advisory. Right. And that’s fine. And we talk about that in the book. Like that’s a useful sort of way to wander into creating a formal board with the nuance that if you create something like an advisory board, be serious about it. Yeah. Versus just having lists of advisors that you can put on your website, you know, to give you social, social benefit, but nothing else.

John Jantsch (13:45): So what should a board, I guess this could go either way, what should a board member expect to bring? So like if I’m asked to be on a board, what should be expected of me vice versa. If I’m a founder, you know, what am I expecting a board member to ultimately contribute?

Brad Feld (14:00): I think there’s two different, two different things to ponder. One is, uh, what your role and your own expectation and your philosophy of how you’re gonna show up as a board member. So I’ll just describe mine. I think everybody can define their own, but here’s how I define mine. When I’m on a board, I really only wanna make one decision. And that decision is whether or not I support the CEO. Huh? If I support her, my job is to work for her. If for some reason I stop supporting her because of whatever’s going on. My job is to try to get back to a place where I support her and that doesn’t always happen. I mean the one decision that I wanna make as a board member is do I support CEO? And if I ultimately, don’t the one tool I generally have as a board member, not unilaterally, but as a member of a group of people would be to replace a CEO. So I bring that mindset because every CEO I’ve ever worked with needs different things. And the idea that I’m showing up with the generic playbook of

John Jantsch (15:02): Right,

Brad Feld (15:08): Just not EEO should look at, look at their board from the frame of reference of, I want to get different things from different board members. And ultimately I want that board to be a functioning team. So for example, if you add people to your board and every single person on your board is a deal, chunky, loves to do transactions, loves to buy and sell. Companies loves to do deals. Guess what? Your board’s always gonna be pushing you to do deals. Yeah. And you’re always gonna be spending too much time talking about doing deals. If your board is full of people who are finance, financial oriented, either investor or CFO types, you’re gonna spend an awful lot of time on your financials. Yeah. Having a blend of people that have product experience, go to market experience, finance experience, deal, legal, whatever. And having that spread across the board so that the board really can bring different things is powerful. And I think this then comes to the other piece of this, which is a lot of people add board members because they want help with networking or they want help with financing or raising money. And most good board members can be helpful with that. But if that’s a primary reason, you want that person on the board and there’s nothing else that is causing you to want to add that person to the board, it’s worth rethinking whether that’s the best person for the board relative to the other things that somebody could be bringing.

John Jantsch (16:30): So you mentioned the idea of, of this being a team, a board, how important is it that they like each other, that they, you know, that they respect each other? Is that important?

Brad Feld (16:38): Really? I’m gonna separate respect and like you

John Jantsch (16:41): Sure.

Brad Feld (16:42): I think that’s the key nuance. I think respect is critical if you don’t respect each other as board members, who’ve got a fundamental problem. And I have definitely been on boards where there were people who didn’t respect each other and you know, that created a lot of dissonance. And in a lot of cases, just fundamental dysfunction when you ran into situations that were challenging and difficult, right? That’s in the context of respect, I’ve also been on boards where people, you know, people lied, people were disingenuous. People, you know, did things behind other people’s backs, whether it was the CEO or board members that were very destructive and very hurtful to the company, not just emotionally hurtful, but fundamentally problematic. Those things are, I mean, those things exist. Those are problems. And the tone of the board and the tone set by the, whether it’s the chair or the CEO or the lead director, whoever is responsible for driving the board behavior that, that has to be paid attention to.

(17:38): I’ll separate that from like, I definitely have been on lots of boards of people who I would consider them business associates, but they’re not friends. Yeah. And they probably consider me a business associate, not a friend or they’re people who you get along with, but you know, you don’t wanna spend time with them. And then there’s the other end of the spectrum, which is people who you have just real genuine affection for. Yeah. And you know, you’re emotionally engaged with and, you know, in alike kind of way. So I, I think it’s critical that every board member respect every other board member, I don’t think it’s necessary that every board member, like every other board member, but it sure does help when in a team like any team. Right. If even if you don’t necessarily quote like the person, if you don’t at the same time, don’t hate the person right. It doesn’t have to be the opposite of it. You can, you know, all right, this person’s fine. And I, but I respect them and I respect what they’re bringing here that works. Yeah,

John Jantsch (18:36): Absolutely. So Brad tell people where they can find more about startup boards and really the work you’re doing. I think you’re doing work with bolster with Matt as, as well is

Brad Feld (18:45): Yeah. I’m an investor. I’m an investor in Matt’s company bolster. Yeah. The books available, you know, online at any online bookstore that you happen to, like it’s called startup boards. And if you just do startup boards Feld as the search, I’m sure it’ll show up. The Google will deliver you. Lots of choices. We, uh, we also@feld.com, which is my blog. I’ve got links to all the books I’ve written. So it’s got a link to startup boards there with a bunch of additional content. And then Matt’s company bolster, it’s, uh, bolster.com. He’s got various again, links there and he’s written two other books, one called startup CEO, and one called startup CXO. And they’re both really effective books if you’re a startup CEO or you’re an executive at a startup for helping sort of process through and think through different ways, uh, to approach your job and the role and responsibility that they have in these three books, startup, CEO, CXO, and startup boards are kind of a trilogy makes me think of token I wouldn’t put myself in that category, but it’s sort of a trilogy of things for any CEO or executive to really absorb.

(19:48): Yeah.

John Jantsch (19:49): Awesome. Well again, thanks for taking time to stop by the duct tape marketing podcast. And hopefully we’ll see you one of these days out in the mountains,

Brad Feld (19:56): John, it’s always a pleasure.

John Jantsch (19:59): Hey, and one final thing before you go, you know how I talk about marketing strategy strategy before tactics? Well, sometimes it can be hard to understand where you stand in that what needs to be done with regard to creating a marketing strategy. So we created a free tool for you. It’s called the marketing strategy assessment. You can find it@ marketingassessment.co. check out our free marketing assessment and learn where you are with your strategy today. That’s just marketingassessment.co I’d love to chat with you about the results that you get.

This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by the HubSpot Podcast Network and Semrush.

HubSpot Podcast Network is the audio destination for business professionals who seek the best education and inspiration on how to grow a business.

 

 

Everybody’s online, but are they finding your website? Grab the online spotlight and your customers’ attention with Semrush. From Content and SEO to ads and social media, Semrush is your one-stop-shop for online marketing. Build, manage, and measure campaigns —across all channels — faster and easier. Are you ready to take your business to the next level? Get seen. Get Semrush. Visit semrush.com/go to try it free for 7 days.