Weekend Favs December 8

Weekend Favs December 8 written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

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

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

  • Everlance – Track and manage all business and travel expenses, company-wide.
  • OpinionLab – Gather customer feedback across website pages and various channels.
  • Good Sales Emails – Get inspired by reading through successful email campaigns from great companies.

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

Transcript of Managing an Expanding Business, With Your Mission Guiding the Way

Transcript of Managing an Expanding Business, With Your Mission Guiding the Way written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

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Transcript

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John Jantsch: You know the CrossFit brand is an amazing, powerful brand and if you were a gym owner and you started a CrossFit Box or gym, there was a lot of power in that. But, there was also some negative that eventually came with that. In this week’s episode of The Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I visit with Matt Scanlon. He is the founder of one of those CrossFit gyms that is now expanded and grown into be something entirely different, into a really a healthcare or wellness mecca. Check it out.

Gusto Logo_full berry_smallStuff like payroll and benefits are hard that’s why I switched to Gusto and to help support the show, Gusto is offering our listeners an exclusive, limited time deal. You sign up for their payroll service, today, you’ll get three months free once you run your first payroll. Just go to gusto.com/tape.

Hello and welcome to another episode of The Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch and my guest today is Matt Scanlon. He is the founder of The Hill KC, CrossFit Memorial Hill. It’s also referred to as, happens to be a local person. I rarely get to do a Kansas City show, so, even though we’re just across town, it doesn’t get much closer than this. So, Matt, thanks for joining me.

Matt Scanlon: Yeah, I appreciate it, John. Thanks for having me.

John Jantsch: So, I would kind of fumble around and say what The Hill is but I’m going to let you describe in the glorious terms that you now tell people when they say, “So, what do you do, Matt?”

Matt Scanlon: Yeah. The Hill has gone through a lot of different iterations. We are a health and wellness facility here in Kansas City. Under that umbrella, we do your standard group exercise classes, personal training and things like that. And that was sort of the bread butter of how we started out but since we’ve formed in 2012, we’ve kind of expanded to do some things on the corporate wellness front. We actually have some digital products that we now do remotely with some different offices around the Midwest. We have started a non profit organization under our umbrella that serves people with disabilities, cancer survivors and senior citizens on a fixed income and most recently, we have expanded that non profit organization to include some veteran services for veterans coming out of active duty service.

What basically started out as people working out has grown into a little bit more complex of an organization like it has.

John Jantsch: So, under the umbrella rather than just being a gym. I mean you’re calling it a wellness facility or wellness business, right?

Matt Scanlon: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah.

John Jantsch: So, let’s go back to your beginnings. You were initially, at least my understanding and I have a little bit of history.

Matt Scanlon: Yeah.

John Jantsch: You were initially a CrossFit, I think you might even call it a Box at the time.

Matt Scanlon: That is correct. Yeah.

John Jantsch: Talk to me a little bit about that. CrossFit has, you know, I’m one of those people that, you know, CrossFit has had a lot of its negative, it’s had a lot of positive. I happen to think that it revolutionized this whole idea of the social aspect and group exercise aspect but as far as it being where it was 2010, 2012, it’s kind of come under, I don’t know even know the right term but it’s certainly not what it was maybe five years ago, was it?

Matt Scanlon: Yeah. 100% and actually I would even say, on a more fundamental level, John, I think it’s a crazy thought to think that the fitness industry as a whole probably was more predicated on people not going to the gym than people actually stepping foot into a gym. If you were to think about your typical, your typical, I won’t name any brands or anything like that but you pay-

John Jantsch: Nothing like 24 Hour Fitness or Gold’s Gym or I’m sorry, I’m naming them for you.

Matt Scanlon: No, you’re spot on. So, you had to think, you know, for 50 years of this industry, these businesses survived on low utilization rates. If less than 10 people that pay me actually use my business, I’m in good shape. So, I would say on a very fundamental level, CrossFit came on the scene and is like, “Guys, this is a joke. If people are going to have a gym membership. They should actually be getting in shape. They should actually be going.” And so because of that, it was a very disruptive voice in the fitness industry and along with that came certainly some negative attitudes.

John Jantsch: And I think that, it was probably was compounded by the fact that they started cropping up like mushrooms everywhere and so unfortunately, that meant there were some people that weren’t as committed to people’s safety as maybe they should have been and there weren’t necessarily people who ran businesses like real businesses and so you had a lot of fall out, I think from the industry as a whole didn’t you?

Matt Scanlon: Most certainly. Yeah, the roots of CrossFit were, it was an open source community that started on the internet, first and foremost. So, by nature it was wild west. You had people opening affiliates in their garage and really taking, it was kind of first time that, you know, we’re talking 2001, people are taking this information off of the internet and turning into these brick and mortar locations where people were working out. So, the best practices did not really become evident for probably five to ten years after that first organic wildfire took off.

And it’s something that we’re certainly, now it’s very evident what best practices and coaching and teaching and business are and that’s become more widely available to the affiliates and it’s matured a lot since then I would say.

John Jantsch: And, you still offer the CrossFit programming, right?

Matt Scanlon: Correct. Yeah. That’s the core of what we do. About 55% of our business is what you would consider to be your traditional CrossFit classes.

John Jantsch: So, have you, how have you or have you, I should say, kind of shaken the sort of what people’s perception of, people who didn’t know necessarily, their perception of CrossFit and maybe the fact that somebody who wanted to get into shape was sort of intimidated by CrossFit.

I mean, you’ve changed the name, you in your intro didn’t mention CrossFit so, you’ve clearly are positioning your gym, even though that’s the programming, you’re positioning it for maybe somebody else?

Matt Scanlon: It’s an interesting thing, John, that I would say even today, I am still struggling with how do I interact with that brand. On one hand, you as a marketing expert, you understand that for somebody to have that instantaneous brand recognition and almost that like. “Choose a side.” Really you can’t pay enough money for that kind of brand recognition. So, on one hand, I’m struggling with that, like the general public knows what that means, whether they like it or hate it, there’s still recognition there and that to me is, an important factor.

But, then there’s this other side of the coin to where I realize we started to have people coming into the gym who were stroke survivors and I remember talking, I mean, in our gym, it is not uncommon to see people walk for the first time after an accident and these are people doing CrossFit and learning to walk and learning to stand up and learning to training [inaudible] wheelchairs and they identify as CrossFitters. But then, I would turn around and maybe reach out to their physical therapist or maybe they’re on colleges and I would say, “Hey, listen, I’d like to get a confidentiality signed so we could integrate this treatment protocol a little bit.”

And I realize if I was emailing them from matt@crossfitmemorialhill.com, I’m never getting a response. Now, if I’m emailing them matt@thehillkc.com, oh, I’m immediately getting a response from these physicians. So, I’m stuck between these two very different worlds where the thing that’s occurring inside of our four walls versus the perception of what’s occurring are two pretty desperate experiences. So, I’ll tell you what, this is definitely something I’m wrestling with at this very moment to be honest.

John Jantsch: And I suspect that it will continue to mature and who knows where the brand will be in five years but my guess is the reality of CrossFit is quite than the perception particularly the perception from five years ago.

Matt Scanlon: You know, I had this moment where, we were, as we’re transition, we’re in the middle of expanding our space and really kind of bringing all these businesses under the same umbrella and so we’ve been having this conversation of branding a lot lately and I realize that, I started to ask some of our members, take them out for coffee and ask them about their experiences and I realize that all of these people, whether they came in for CrossFit or not, once they were in the door, they began to identify themselves as CrossFitters.

And, I realize that they weren’t, they don’t identify as a CrossFitter because of the methodology or because there’s this perception of it being dangerous or hard. They’ve created that identity because they did something that they were maybe afraid of doing. And maybe like this idea, this CrossFit was such a massive mountain that they could never climb and then all of a sudden they did it and so there’s a part of me that I don’t want to necessarily take that away from them. Maybe I don’t want to remove the fear or the hesitation that they have because once they conquer, that feeling of accomplishment is amazing, right?

Nobody identifies as a, nobody has a Pilates bumper sticker. Nobody feels that doing a Pilates class was the biggest fear of their life that they conquered and so I’m kind of, that’s not something I want to take away from my members, you know?

John Jantsch: And I think, I mean, I think the key and you’ve certainly headed down this path is education, education, education.

Matt Scanlon: Yes. Certainly. Yeah. And it’s one of those things where it’s, we’re trying to tell a story of it’s quality coaching, it’s good programming and relationships and whether you’re a personal trainer at Gold’s, got a internet certification and they could be an amazing coach, they could be a terrible coach. It really just comes down to those relationships.

John Jantsch: Wouldn’t it be great, if in your business, all you had to do was the stuff you love? The reason you started the business and not all that administrative stuff like payroll and benefits. That stuff’s hard especially when you’re a small business. Now, I’ve been delegating my payroll for years to one of those big corporate companies and I always felt like a little tiny fish but now there is a much better way. I’ve switched over to Gusto and it is making payroll and benefits and HR easy for the modern small business.

You no longer have to be a big company to get great technology, great benefits and great service to take care of your team. To help support the show, Gusto is offering our listeners, an exclusive limited time deal. If you sign up today, you’ll get three months free, once you run your first payroll. Just go to gusto.com/tape.

So, let’s talk a little bit about where you’re trying to take The Hill KC. You alluded to some expansion and not just expansion of physical space but of programming in general.

Matt Scanlon: Yeah. The idea, we’re trying to bring more people under the umbrella of what we’re doing and we’re actually bringing in a lot of healthcare providers into the mix. So, my background prior to owning and operating the gym was in healthcare management and I realized very early on in managing some different healthcare facilities and state programs that there’s a big chasm in what the general population needs for their preventative health and the infrastructure that traditional healthcare has. And so the goal is to begin to bridge that gap.

Now, we’re having conversations with physicians and chiropractors and dieticians and acupuncturists. I mean really everything is on the table because our ultimate mission is to solve preventative health issues and that’s what we do. That’s the core of exercise and nutrition so we’re realizing, okay how much can we bridge the gap between traditional healthcare model and preventative and so this expansion is bringing as many people that actually care about solving that problem to the table as possible.

John Jantsch: So, my question is, I think a lot of people are headed this direction and I think ultimately, I don’t know, seems like it should have happened already but in 10 years, this will be healthcare I think but at what point do, you know, it’s still looked at as alternative in many circles. At what point do we cross over to where actually this is traditional healthcare?

Matt Scanlon: That’s a great question. This is the stuff that gets me going, John. So, it’s at the point that it becomes, it’s at the point that the current model becomes cost prohibited and we’re at a pretty close tipping point. I mean, I am in my mid 30s, super healthy. I don’t know that I’ve been to the doctor in two years and I’m paying health insurance premiums that are absolutely ridiculous. It’s almost $500 a month in catastrophic health insurance premiums and as people bring more creative solutions to the marketplace, the cost of care as it exists now bloats so much, I think it will hit a tipping point towards no longer considered alternative.

And I hope, like really my hope and what we’re trying to solve here is that this model of healthcare isn’t reserved for a privileged few but that there can be a proof of concept I guess to kind of show how to deliver good preventative health services to people.

John Jantsch: And I think it’s like everything. I mean, you’ve got generations on both ends of the spectrum, right now. I have aging parents and so I spend some time in the traditional system that is ill equipped to do anything but give out drugs and beds and it pains me to see but I think we’re, I think because these things don’t, you don’t like stroke a pen and it’s changed. I mean, I think we’re a generation away from what ultimately is obvious.

Matt Scanlon: You nailed it. My mother in law recently had a very extensive emergency surgery that most people her age really don’t recover from. I mean, it results in significant interruption of life and you go in her garage, she’s got a barbell in her garage, she’s swinging kettlebells. She’s up at five in the morning, like getting after it everyday. When you see things like that and you see, oh because of her daily preparation and caring about her nutrition and working out, all these things that you should be doing, her quality of life now and her ability to still work and travel and do the things that she wants, it’s still there.

She’s able to do these things with 40 minutes a day of just preventative maintenance. It’s a great value proposition when you see it occur in that way.

John Jantsch: Absolutely. So, a lot of businesses, I mean your business has evolved dramatically as we’ve just talked about it. A lot of businesses come up with a real challenge when they attempt to do that and you had some of those original people that wanted to hang out in the Box, right? That were some of the folks that were originally attracted to you. How has and maybe it hasn’t changed at all but how has your client today changed and how have you kind of managed growing into something that you weren’t originally, when it came to obviously keeping your existing clients happy?

Matt Scanlon: Yeah. Oh great question. It’s had more, honestly it’s had more to do with me figuring out what I want out of this thing than it has had to do with my clients themselves. And, it’s sort of me kind of finding. I mean, you know this, John. You build a business and it takes everything from you especially in the first five years. You are sacrificing pretty much everything for this business and there were plenty of moments where I had to ask myself, “Is this sacrifice worth exercise? Do I truly enjoy exercise to the extent that I’m willing to make this sacrifice?”

And the answer that I came to is like, “No. I don’t actually enjoy the fitness industry. I don’t necessarily, I’m not that passionate about exercise.” So, I had to figure out, well what is the thing that I’m trying to do here. What initially drew me to this thing? And it really was, it was the health and the mental fortitude like getting better, trying new things and overcoming difficulty. Like, these are the things that I personally got out of bed for. And, so then I kind of realized that our clientele either they were the same people that sort of followed suit and got fired up about that or maybe they left and they were replaced by new people that got fired up at the prospect of this holistic betterment of oneself and their community.

John Jantsch: So, one of the things that, particularly a lot of what I would call traditional brick and mortar businesses suffer from is you can only attract clients for whom your geographic location works for them and their life and so in some ways your market’s a little restricted to that but you have taken what I think is a very wise step for almost any business today and that is to start creating digital projects, products, to start actually creating products for the industry. I think you have something called 321GoProject that is just that.

What’s been your thinking in terms of trying to expand in that manner?

Matt Scanlon: Just what you said. There’s the geographical issues. There’s also this element of scalability and relationships, realizing that the secret sauce of what we have is the fact that, you know, I’ll walk outside my office right now and I’ll see some members. I’ll know all their first names, I’ll know what their kids are up to, I’ll know where they went to college and know what they did over the weekend and there are very real limits on the amount of people that you can have a relationship like that with and so realizing that if I wanted to scale this thing up and provide additional career opportunities to other people under this umbrella, that we would have to figure out ways to do that without sacrificing our core competency which is relationships.

So then, we kind of moved into creating a ton of digital assets and content, pulling a lot of stuff online, working with companies remotely and really thankfully, we live in a day and age where that’s not terrible difficult to do and at the time that we opened the, I mean, 2011 and 12, there’s no way that that would have even been on my mind.

John Jantsch: So, Matt, I’m running to the end of our time, here. So tell people where they can find out more about what you’re up to, whether they’re in Kansas City or not.

Matt Scanlon: Yeah. So, thehillKC.com. It’s got everything there. It’s got all of our programs there. There’s a cool little feature called Coaches Corner that people can go to. That’s were a lot of our digital assets live and then for the work that I do on the industry side of things, I’m a part of a company called 321GoProject where we take best practices, we’ve recently developed a really cool software on behavior change in businesses like ours so, yeah, 321GoProject.com and thehillKC.com is where I’m at.

John Jantsch: Awesome. Well, thanks for joining us, Matt and I have no excuse not to stop by and see you.

Matt Scanlon: All right. Thanks, John.

Managing an Expanding Business, With Your Mission Guiding the Way

Managing an Expanding Business, With Your Mission Guiding the Way written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with Matt Scanlon
Podcast Transcript

Matt ScanlonThis week on the Duct Tape Marketing podcast, I sit down with Matt Scanlon, owner of The Hill KC in Kansas City. Formerly known as CrossFit Memorial Hill, the business began as a CrossFit gym. Once Scanlon began running the gym, he started to notice other ways to serve the community.

His business today is a hybrid: While they still have traditional CrossFit classes, they have also expanded into offering corporate wellness products (with digital products to support an audience outside of the Kansas City area). Additionally, Scanlon has created a nonprofit that enables people with disabilities, cancer survivors, veterans, and seniors on a fixed income to get access to preventative wellness care through The Hill KC.

It was a treat to be able to talk to a small business owner in my own backyard. The challenges Scanlon faces will look familiar to any entrepreneur, as will his passion for the work he does.

Questions I ask Matt Scanlon:

  • Have you changed people’s perception of CrossFit in order to open your business up to a wider range of people?
  • How are you hoping to expand The Hill KC in the future?
  • How did you manage keeping your existing clients happy as you transitioned to a new business model?

What you’ll learn if you give a listen:

  • The pros and cons of working within the bounds of an already established brand.
  • How focusing on your mission can help clarify the next steps you should take to grow your business.
  • What brick and mortar businesses can do to get creative about scaling.

Key takeaways from the episode and more about Matt Scanlon:

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

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This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by Gusto! Payroll and benefits are hard. Especially when you’re a small business. Gusto is making payroll, benefits, and HR easy for modern small businesses. You no longer have to be a big company to get great technology, great benefits, and great service to take care of your team.

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

Why It’s Time to Embrace a Real CRM Tool for Your Business

Why It’s Time to Embrace a Real CRM Tool for Your Business written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Using a spreadsheet or index cards to manage your clients may make sense when you’re first starting out: there aren’t that many to keep track of, and the clients you do have don’t have a long history with your business.

However, as time goes on, your client list grows, your track record with existing clients becomes longer and more complex, and you need a better way to manage these relationships.

That’s where a client relationship management (CRM) tool comes in. CRMs are not just for big multinationals. There are tremendous benefits to the technology even for small local businesses. The tool is designed to make it easier for both your sales and marketing teams to work effectively and drive even more conversions. Read on, and I’ll take you through all the benefits of incorporating a CRM tool into your workflow.

Scale More Easily

A lot of small business owners are happy to manage their client information in a spreadsheet or word document. At the same time, business owners hope to see their companies succeed and grow. When you’re creating your own haphazard method for tracking your customers, you’re practically ensuring an information bottleneck as your business continues to expand.

CRM tools are designed to grow with your business. When you acquire new prospects, upsell existing customers, add new products and services, or begin a new outreach campaign, these tools are designed to meet you where you are and then keep pace as you broaden your horizons.

A spreadsheet doesn’t have the same flexibility; you’ll soon find yourself struggling to add new columns and tabs, and information will get lost in the shuffle. A spreadsheet also doesn’t integrate with your other marketing and sales tools or provide reports and analytics in the same way that a CRM tool can.

Enhance Customer Experience

Customers today are won and lost based on the experience they have interacting with your business. There is a lot of competition out there, and with the digital landscape being what it is, it’s likely that your customer can find another business that does what you do. So it’s a highly personalized customer experience, with strong attention to detail, that will allow you to stand out from the pack and turn your prospects into return customers.

CRM tools allow you to track all interactions with a customer across platforms. When did they last make a purchase with you, and what was it? Did they submit a review of the product or service they bought? Did they reach out via phone, email, or online chat with a question about their recent purchase? Are they on the mailing list for your newsletter?

There are so many ways in which you interact with customers, and it’s near impossible for a human to track all of these touchpoints effectively and accurately. Having this information all in one place allows all members of your team to better serve customers.

Marketers can send targeted messaging to users who have expressed an interest in a particular good or service your provide. Salespeople can be more proactive about reaching out to customers that they haven’t heard from in a while, and can make a thoughtful reference to something they discussed in their last conversation when they reach out to reestablish contact. Your customer service team can see a history of issues a user has had with a given product and can meet them where they are, rather than making the customer rehash their issue each time they contact you with a question.

Knowing what your customer has done in the past allows you to be thoughtful about your interactions in the future. Adding a personal touch to your interactions is what distinguishes your brand. You increase trust—a key part of the customer relationship—when you show that you not only know what you’re doing, but that you care about the customer and their individual needs.

Send Targeted Messages

As I mentioned briefly above, one of the major benefits to marketers using a CRM tool is the ability to undertake customer segmentation based on past behavior.

Customer segmentation is what gives your marketing efforts that personalized touch. CRM tools allow you to group prospects and clients based on a variety of different attributes: where the lead came from, how they’ve engaged with you in the past, what they’ve purchased from you, or demographics like age or location.

You can then easily send relevant messages to those who meet certain criteria in a given group. All leads that came from attending an event you hosted last month can receive an invitation to your next event, complete with an early bird registration discount. All customers who purchased a given service in the past year can be sent a free copy of your latest white paper on a related topic. All of your customers in the Northwest can be notified when you’re speaking at a conference in Seattle.

Now, sending a message about your Seattle conference appearance to your clients in Pennsylvania might lead them to unsubscribe, since you’re clogging up their inbox with irrelevant messaging. But if that same client receives a personalized note from you, following up on their recent purchase and providing them with a training video about how to better use the item that they bought they’ll likely have a very different reaction. Email segmentation allows you to not only build trust, but also make sure that the right offers are getting in front of the right people, thereby increasing the likelihood of a conversion.

Manage Your Sales Pipeline

CRMs don’t just allow you to track the behaviors of existing customers, you can use them to manage your prospects, too. When you can see where all of your prospects are in the customer journey, you can better understand what changes you need to make to your approach to win over more new business.

CRM tools can allow you to see bottlenecks in your sales pipeline. Is there one particular area where conversions just don’t seem to be happening? Once you can see that issue, you can begin to address it. Maybe lots of prospects are eager to sign up for a free trial of your service, but then they’re not converting. That means you should focus on what’s happening with their free trial experience—are they underwhelmed with their experience, or are you not providing adequate follow-up after the trial in order to get them to commit to the paid version?

These tools will also allow you to parse your data based on factors like deal size, expected close date, and last point of contact so that you can direct your sales team to go after the most promising leads or those with the most pressing deadlines attached.

Finally, you can keep better track of the deals that you’ve lost. When you understand when and where you lost out on business, you can then begin to gather the information around the why. Did you drop the ball and wait too long to provide them with information? Did they find a similar product or service at a much lower price? This is the kind of information that allows you to improve your approach with future prospects and ensure your success next time around.

I’m Sold! How Do I Find the Right CRM?

Hopefully I’ve convinced you of the many benefits to adding a CRM tool to your business. But now the question becomes, with the myriad of options, which one is best for you? The systems run the gamut in terms of capabilities, so the real key to finding the right one is selecting the tool that best aligns with your goals and needs.

Just because your friend uses and loves a given CRM for their business doesn’t mean it will serve you just as well. Find the CRM that allows you to collect the data that you most want to track and provides the marketing automation features that are most important to you. You’ll also want to consider your team’s level of tech-savvy and workload and select a CRM that lines up with their abilities and bandwidth.

A tool like Hubspot’s CRM is free to use and is very comprehensive. The downside here is that the tool is complex. There will be a learning curve when you implement any new tech, but some CRMs are more involved than others. No matter what program you settle on, you’ll want to be sure that you’re providing your team with the appropriate training and support to make sure that you get the most out of your new system.

A nice middle ground for small business owners is ActiveCampaign‘s CRM. The system allows for marketing automation alongside more traditional sales and CRM features. The platform is fairly intuitive and they offer a variety of pricing options based on your needs and budget.

Today’s business owners are able to collect a lot of information about their customers and prospects, and it comes from a lot of different sources. As a business continues to grow, it’s nearly impossible for a person to accurately track, manage, and analyze all of this data on their own. And when you’re not able to see it all in one place, you’re missing out on valuable conversion opportunities. Turning to a CRM tool to help you manage the information, streamline the way you interact with customers and prospects, and get specific about the way that you approach each individual can empower you to take your business to the next level.

Weekend Favs December 1

Weekend Favs December 1 written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

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

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

  • Kolay – Handle all employee management tasks—from HR to reviews—in one place.
  • Publica.la – Seamlessly convert any PDF publication to a mobile edition.
  • Prisync – Track and monitor your competitor’s pricing on their e-commerce site.

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

Transcript of Becoming a Great Leader, No Matter What Field You’re In

Transcript of Becoming a Great Leader, No Matter What Field You’re In written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Back to Podcast

Transcript

This transcript is sponsored by our transcript partner – Rev – Get $10 off your first order

John Jantsch: Leadership is leadership. Doesn’t matter what role you’re in, if you’re running a company, if you’re an elected official. In this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I visit with Jason Kander. We talk about his book, Outside the Wire, getting outside your comfort zone to learn the lessons of leadership. Check it out.

Gusto Logo_full berry_smallStuff like payroll and benefits are hard. That’s why I switched to Gusto, and to help support the show, Gusto is offering our listeners an exclusive, limited-time deal. You sign up for their payroll service today, you’ll get three months free once you run your first payroll. Just go to Gusto.com/tape.

Hello, and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing podcast. This is John Jantsch and my guest today is Jason Kander. He is husband, father, former Army captain who served in Afghanistan. He is also Missouri’s former Secretary of State, and the president of an organization called Let America Vote. He is also a candidate for the mayor of Kansas City, Missouri, and we’re gonna talk about his book called Outside the Wire: Ten Lessons I’ve Learned in Every Day Courage. Jason, thanks for joining me.

Jason Kander: Thanks for having me.

John Jantsch: So, I’ve had a lot of authors, thousands of authors I’ve interviewed and I don’t think I’ve had one that has written a political biography yet on the show, so this is a first, but in reading your book, which I really loved, there’s so many lessons in there that are really leadership lessons in the truest sense, and I think entrepreneurs in the truest sense, the successful ones anyway, are leaders at heart, so I want to unpack the book really in that vein, if that makes sense.

Jason Kander: Yeah, it makes sense to me. Thanks.

John Jantsch: Let me start with the title, “Outside the Wire.” In kind of common military jargon, that’s sort of the idea of being beyond the safe base camp area, so how does that metaphor really kind of set the subtext for the book?

Jason Kander: Well, for me, the experience of going outside the wire in Afghanistan, going like you said, off the safety of the base, that’s an event in my life that a lot of times I kind of think about my life I guess as before and after that moment, and I think that’s true for a lot of people who have experienced anything like that, anything that can be just scary to do and forces you to get literally outside your comfort zone. At the same time, the book is mostly about … I mean there are stories in the book as you saw and lessons in the book, from my time in the military and specifically from my time in Afghanistan, but mostly what it’s about is my time going figuratively outside the wire in politics, going out and taking positions that may or may not have been unpopular, may or may not have been what I was advised to say but it’s what I believed, and so really the book is just about the idea that if you want to create change, if you want to get anything done, you’re never gonna do it from within your comfort zone, either literally or figuratively.

John Jantsch: There’s … and I don’t know if you’ll be able to do this, I’ve written a number of books and sometimes I’ll be interviewed, and they’ll say, “You know, you were telling that one story,” and I’m like, “Gosh, I wrote that a while ago. I don’t know if I remember that.”

Jason Kander: I’ve only written one book, so don’t worry, and it wasn’t that long ago so I’m probably gonna be able to get it.

John Jantsch: Awesome. Well, I’m gonna try to set it up and then you tell the story, because one of the really great things about why the book works so well for me is you’re a really good story teller and I’d love to have people hear the story part, so there’s one of the early lessons that you basically said you went out and kind of failed at this training thing, and you thought you were gonna get really taken to task over it, but it went a different way when you actually met with the sergeant. The lesson in that was really that here’s how real tough guys act, and I think that there are a lot of leaders and companies that feel like they have to be the authoritarian, dress everybody down, use fear in some cases, as a leadership tool. I wonder if you’ve … hopefully I’ve jogged your memory enough to know that story I was talking about.

Jason Kander: Yeah, absolutely. One of the lessons … the book’s organized into lessons which are just the chapter titles, and one of the lessons is experience is good, but perspective is golden, and that’s one of the early stories in that lesson. What happened was I was pretty new to the Army, I was an Army ROTC and we were doing land navigation training and we were doing nighttime land navigation training, which means that I was out in the woods, pitch dark in pretty heavy woods at an Army base and I had a compass and a protractor and a map and I was supposed to find these very difficult to find points, which are just like little sticks that stick up in the woods. They have little numbers on them and you’re supposed to write them down on your card to prove that you could navigate to these points. It was pouring rain. It was pretty quickly evident that I wasn’t doing well at this, it was my first time doing it at night. My map disintegrated in the rain. It was just a bad scene and it was a low morale moment, so to speak.

What the context of this is that that weekend out in the woods, we had with us an instructor who had only been with us this one time and he was this guy, Master Sergeant Matt Eversmann, and while most people listening to this will have no idea who that is, a lot of people actually have seen him portrayed on the big screen by Josh Hartnett in a movie called Black Hawk Down. The main character in that movie, it’s based on a true story, and the main character in that movie is Matt Eversmann, who at the time was a very young sergeant, and now by the time that I met him, he’s this Master Sergeant with a lot of combat experience and this was pretty soon after 9/11 that I had joined, so at that point very few people had deployed, so he was very unique. Now, somebody with that level of experience would be a lot less unique, still commendable, but a lot less unique. At that time, he was like … we were all like, “Oh my god. That’s Matt Eversmann.”

So I’m scared to death because I’m going back to turn in my score card which has nothing on it. I actually didn’t know whether I’d see him. I was just expecting, okay, some sergeant’s gonna get up in my face and tell me how awful it is that I got lost and how if I got lost in combat while I was commanding troops everybody would die, so I just figured, “Okay, I’m about to be humiliated. That’s fine. I’m soaking wet. I just want to change into dry underwear. Whatever.”

So I’m in line, I get to the front and I realize it’s Master Sergeant Matt Eversmann who I have to turn my card into and then I’m just feeling humiliated because I figure all he’s about to know about Cadet Kander is that he sucks at land nav, and that seemed mortifying. So I get up to the front of the line and he looks down at me and he says, “How’d you do, Cadet?” I said, “Not well, Sergeant. I got zero points.” I’m bracing myself. He says, “Well, you still got your weapon.” I had it over my shoulder. I said, “Yes, Sergeant.” And he slaps me on the back and he says, “Success. Get in here. It’s freezing out there. We got coffee in here.”

So I get in there and some officer comes in, a lieutenant comes in, and is demanding to know why a bunch of cadets have been given hot chocolate and coffee and Master Sergeant Eversmann pipes up and he says, “I did it, sir.” He says, “You don’t have to train a soldier how to be miserable, they already know.” Of course, given his level of experience, the officer had nothing to say to Master Sergeant Eversmann about that.

For me, the lesson was a guy like Sergeant Eversmann with what he had seen and done, he had no desire whatsoever, no need to feel that he had to prove himself to any of us, and he had the perspective to understand that we all knew that if we didn’t get any points to turn in that we knew we screwed up and we were soaking wet and we were freezing, but there was no learning point in being hard on us, and in fact I think the learning point he decided to teach us was you gotta care about your people, and you don’t gotta prove yourself, because that’s what it is to be a real tough guy is to not have to show anybody.

John Jantsch: Yeah, and you obviously learned and probably grew in your respect far more than him getting in your face, as you said, would have ever done.

Jason Kander: Yeah, absolutely.

John Jantsch: I think that’s a true, again, going back to entrepreneurs, I think that is a true leadership lesson. Part of it is reading the situation, but also clearly taking care of your people is a big part of what you have to do in a company.

So, there are a lot of lines where you have bolded them or put them in bigger text, and they just really jump out inside the chapters. There’s one that I think applies to so much of what we’re experiencing today I think, and it is “Your dignity, unlike your integrity, is negotiable.” I think that’s a lesson then, I don’t know if you have a story that I can bring forward with that, but I think that’s a lesson that, boy, integrity seems to be hard to find in a lot of corners today.

Jason Kander: Yeah. What I was trying to get across there is that there’s a lot of people who when they run for office or as entrepreneurs when they start going out to pitch or … and I think this is particularly true by the way both of politicians and entrepreneurs who have been in an environment where, maybe it’s a corporate environment where they were successful and they had a lot of help around them, and they didn’t really find themselves in a position where they had to ask for things and had to put themselves out there, that they frequently will … it feels like they are mistaking dignity and integrity for being the same thing when they’re not. You should never compromise your integrity under any circumstances. I make that point several times in the book, but I also make the point that it ain’t the same thing as dignity.

One of the stories I tell in the book is about when I was Secretary of State of Missouri and I had to go into the office of a state legislator who controlled the purse strings of our office, who chaired the committee on appropriations that decided whether we had the resources to do the important work that we were doing, and there were many things about that experience, and I’ll let people read the book, there’s some funny parts to that where it’s pretty demeaning, but nothing about it is compromising my integrity, it’s just … it’s a little demeaning and so it compromises my dignity, but that should be completely worth it. I should be … if it is a good cause, if it doesn’t compromise my integrity at all, I should be more than willing to cash in any level of personal dignity to do the right thing for somebody else. It doesn’t hurt me at all to do that.

Another place where I talk about that a lot is I’m pretty open in the book about what it’s like to have to go around the country and fund raise for a competitive United States senate campaign, and just one of the things I talk about is dragging my little rolling suitcase behind me everywhere I go all the time and how I always wanted to just plop it up on the table at the beginning of a meeting and say something like, “Wait until you see these vacuums.” Because I just felt like a traveling salesperson, but I believed in the mission and I never would have compromised my integrity to raise money, but look, it’s not always the most dignified process. You gotta get over that.

That’s what I see new candidates for office struggle with a lot. When they tell me things like, “I think I could do all of it. I’m really good at all of this, but I’m not very … I’m not sure I could do the fundraising.” I always tell them, “Why not? It’s just staying on the phone. That’s all it is. It’s just being willing to be dogged.” They’re like, “Well, asking people for money.” I’m like, “Well, you should never ever compromise your integrity. You should never do anything for a contribution, but that’s how our system works right now until we change it. If you want to do the right thing for people, you’re probably gonna have to go out there and do the work that it takes to win your campaign.”

John Jantsch: Wouldn’t it be great if in your business all you had to do was the stuff you love, the reason you started the business and not all that administrative stuff like payroll and benefits? That stuff’s hard, especially when you’re a small business. Now, I’ve been delegating my payroll for years to one of those big, corporate companies and I always felt like a little tiny fish, but now there is a much better way. I switched over to Gusto and it is making payroll and benefits and HR easy for the modern small business. You no longer have to be a big company to get great technology, great benefits, and great service to take care of your team.

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I don’t know if I’ve ever gone to the back cover of a book and read one of the blurbs, but I want to do this one because I think it’s … it works. “After reading this book, I concluded Jason Kander is too funny and too smart to be in politics. His motives are suspect and he should be removed from public service immediately,” Jimmy Kimmel. Where did that come from?

Jason Kander: It was very nice of him. I know Jimmy through a mutual friend and got to know him a little bit and asked him to read the book and he did and I guess it made him laugh, which made me feel really good about the book to be honest. That was a big compliment coming from him.

John Jantsch: That’s awesome. I want to dive into another one of those things that jumped out at me, and again, I think a lot of business owners, they get so, “Here’s our idea. We’re going this way. Who’s with me? We’ll never quit,” and at some point somebody has to tell them, “You know, you might be wrong about this idea.” I think that admitting that you might be wrong and that doesn’t mean giving up on your dream, but not always having to be right is an amazing leadership lesson. How did that … hopefully I again jogged your memory again on the point you were trying to make there, but that one really stood out to me.

Jason Kander: Yeah. There’s a few different stories in the book about that and it definitely is relevant … before I get into the story, it’s definitely relevant to entrepreneurs. I have not been an entrepreneur but as you know, I’m married to one, and Diana now, my wife, does a lot of innovation consultant work, and it’s always interesting to either overhear or to hear about her conversations with entrepreneurs who are just sure that they have a billion dollar idea, and when someone questions it, not in a mean way, but just the way entrepreneurs need, just sort of, “Oh, have you thought about this?”, the ones who are gonna be successful are the ones who don’t take that questioning as “I just need to convince you,” but instead are the ones who are like, “Oh, let me think about that. Let me go back and see if that works.”

My favorite story from that section of the book is I talk about how my mom picked my brothers and I up, my brother and I up from baseball practice and we were in seventh grade and we’re driving back home and she asked, out of nowhere, she says, “What would you boys think about it if a girl played on your baseball team?” We didn’t quite understand at that point yet that the objective in our life was soon to be to spend more time, not less, around girls and so we very stupidly and immaturely said, “Well, that doesn’t make any sense,” and she was like, “Why not?” I think my brother said, “Well, it’s tradition. Girls don’t play baseball.” The lesson that my mom then taught us was she pulled the car over and she kind of smiled and she opened the car door and said, “I guess y’all better walk.” We were very confused and she said, “It’s tradition. Girls don’t drive.” She didn’t make us walk home, but we got the point.

It also was just kind of a way of delivering to me the message that something that you were really sure of might not be right at all, and really, my mom had … she was a huge supporter of ours, she came to every game and every sport, but until that moment, she had never had an opinion on anything we did in sports, because I don’t think she really cared. She just was there to support us and that was the first time she did and it really stuck out to us.

Then I talk about how I carried that through life in a lot of different ways in the book, but probably one of the more fun stories there is a story I tell … fun now, in retrospect, a story I tell about when I was in Afghanistan. I was working as an intelligence officer and I was sitting with the Attorney General of Afghanistan and I was in this meeting with an FBI agent and she and I were meeting with him, talking about these things and he had this gentleman sitting next to him who was from eastern Afghanistan, spoke no English, the Attorney General of Afghanistan spoke English very well, he had gone to school in America, and he says to us at one point, because he’s talking about this gentleman, he says, “Don’t worry. He doesn’t speak a word of English,” and he says, “He is very corrupt and has been involved in several unsuccessful attempts to kill me,” assassination attempts. We were a little weirded out by that but we just made sure not to make eye contact with the gentleman. We all kind of laughed, like, “Oh, this is funny,” and in fact this gentleman he was talking about even laughed to indicate he understood a joke was told, but clearly didn’t seem to understand any English.

So then my partner I was with, the FBI agent, she goes outside to have a cigarette and this other gentleman decides he’s gonna leave, and he leaves and then she looks kind of shaken when she comes back and when we get in the vehicle to leave she tells me that she got out there, bummed a cigarette from her or something and they stood there in silence for a while, and then in perfectly unaccented English asked her where she’s from and tells her about his farmland in Nebraska. To me, that was a lesson I learned in always be very careful of what you assume is absolutely right because the Attorney General of Afghanistan had clearly made some dangerous assumptions about his subordinate there.

John Jantsch: I’m gonna give you one more and, again, this just hits so home for me with what it is … you know, a lot of times as entrepreneurs, certainly in politics, it’s easy to get caught up in people telling you how great you are, but you live your life with your family and friends and not your accomplishments.

Jason Kander: Yeah, that’s actually a quote from Royal’s third baseman, hall of famer, George Brett, from his Hall of Fame induction speech and I’m a big George Brett fan. Yeah, to me, in that … I don’t remember the exact story really that comes out though there’s several. I guess for me, the biggest thing I remember from that lesson that I was trying to get across is that it’s important, and everybody has said this, everybody always says, “It’s important to be able to slow down and appreciate your family and those things,” and I was getting that point across but I also wanted to get across some things like the most memorable stuff for me has been the human moments where I’ve been able to make a difference in people’s lives.

A big part of why I decided to run for mayor of Kansas City is because every campaign that I’ve been a part of, every office that I’ve held, it feels like so often when a voter or a constituent brings me an issue so often, I’ve actually had to respond to with “Well, you know, that’s more of a city issue,” because I’ve been at the state level. I think that the best opportunity I have to make a meaningful difference in people’s lives is if I’m fortunate enough to be elected mayor.

One of the stories I tell there is that when I was Secretary of State, we were able to do a lot of things that looked big and so much sweeping policy changes, but one of the things that sticks out most to me is driving home one day from Jefferson City and I see this gentleman on the side of the road holding a sign, and it was pretty clear to me that he was a veteran, he was my age and sometimes we can just kind of spot each other. It’s a military [inaudible] thing. He was homeless. I got out and I talked to him for a bit.

I won’t tell the whole story, but at the end of it what was clear was our office was able to help him and he ended up getting on his feet and a few months later he came to the office to visit and we talked for a while and as we were walking out, he asked me not only why I had stopped to talk to him but why I had stopped several times. I kind of kept at it to convince him to accept our help and I told him, I said, “Look, it’s just timing. If things had gone a little differently for me in Afghanistan, had gone more like how they went for you in Iraq,” he had been wounded and struggled with PTSD afterwards and traumatic brain injury. I told him, “It would have been me standing on the side of the road and it would have been you driving by,” and he said, “Yeah, I would have stopped for you.” I said, “I know.”

That’s the kind of stuff that really stuck for me is we were able to make a difference in his life and that’s only one person, but it was the relationship that I had the opportunity to develop with him that … that’s one of the things I’ll always remember from being Secretary of State.

John Jantsch: You want to tell us a little bit about Let America Vote?

Jason Kander: Sure. Thanks, I’m happy to. So about a year and a half ago I started Let America Vote. Our mission is to create political consequences for voter suppression, which really means that it’s our job when there are politicians in office who make it harder to vote, we make it harder for them to get reelected, and we do that by running boots on the ground campaigns against them. There are folks, unfortunately, across the country and I’m not trying to be partisan, it’s just a fact. This is a Republican party strategy. I am a Democrat and all that, but this is just a fact. Republicans have decided, the top of the party Republican officials, have decided that if they can make it harder for certain groups of people to vote, groups of people who they think have a bad habit of not voting Republican very often, then they can make it a little easier for themselves to get reelected. I just think that’s un-American and wrong and so rather than just battle them in court, which is still important and there’s a lot of good groups doing that, we decided that we wanted to also take that argument beyond the court of law and into the court of public opinion, so we knock on doors and make phone calls for pro-democracy candidates who are running against candidates that are making it harder to vote.

John Jantsch: Is there a website for folks who want to support?

Jason Kander: Yeah, thank you. I appreciate it. Yeah, they can go to Letamericavote.org.

John Jantsch: So you kind of touched on this, you’re running for mayor in Kansas City, Missouri. That would be in the spring of 2019, is that right? Did I get that right?

Jason Kander: That’s right.

John Jantsch: Dependent upon when you’re listening to this is why I put that date in there, you were a statewide office holder in Missouri. You ran for senate and quite frankly had it been a little different time you probably would be serving in the United States Senate right now. President Obama called you the future of the Democratic Party. It didn’t seem like this is where we were gonna see your name on a ballot next. Any thoughts on that?

Jason Kander: Yeah. A lot of people had some very flattering theories and ideas as to what they thought I might do next, and just as I was saying a moment ago, over the years so many people have come to me with issues that were really city issues that I really wanted to be able to dig in and solve because they seem to be the stuff that was making the biggest difference in people’s lives and that’s what I’m most excited about, is being able to here in my home town, my family got to Kansas City in the 1880s, I’m a fifth generation Kansas Citian. My wife and I are raising a sixth generation Kansas Citian, my son, True.

The opportunity to try and make a difference for people in a real meaningful way in my home town is really exciting to me and it’s something I’m really passionate about and I’m really enjoying the campaign quite a lot. My vision for the city, where I want us to go, is I want to take all this progress that we have and it’s been great, my friend Sly James, our current mayor, is term limited, he’s done a tremendous job. I just want to take as much of that progress as we can and leverage it, continue that progress, but also leverage it to make a difference in the lives of people who haven’t seen that progress in their lives yet. There’s plenty of places in our town where that’s the case and we’ll know we got there when there’s nobody in Kansas City who feels like in order to live the life they want and they deserve who feels like in order to do that they’ve got to move out of town or across town to make it happen. I’m pretty passionate about that. Thanks for the chance to talk about it.

John Jantsch: Well you bet, and we’ll have links to all the stuff we talked about in the show notes, and just one parting thing. A couple years ago I went to the Royals fantasy camp down in Arizona prior to the season and George [inaudible] was my coach.

Jason Kander: I went this past January. He was not my coach, but it was a great experience. He was there and at one point … I went with my brother and my brother’s 6’5″ and a really good athlete and I was at one point okay at baseball. Now I’m less good. It turns out a lot of these skills are pretty perishable. Anyway, so we played Brett’s team and so I come up and I hit it straight back to the pitcher and I’m coming back from first base and George Brett’s like, “It was a good swing, though, Jason.” I’m like, “No, it really wasn’t,” and he’s like, “No, no it wasn’t.” He was being honest but trying to be charitable and then my brother comes up and he misses a home run by like a foot and I’m shooting video on my phone and immortalized, what we will always have, we idolized George Brett growing up, and we will always have this video of Mel just stroking this ball and you can hear in the background George Brett go, “Oh, nice hit, Mel,” and clearly really means it. So he’s got that over me now.

John Jantsch: Well Jason, thanks for joining me. We probably better let people go and hopefully we will catch up with you and have a beer in KC.

Jason Kander: All right. Thanks so much.

Becoming a Great Leader, No Matter What Field You’re In

Becoming a Great Leader, No Matter What Field You’re In written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with Jason Kander
Podcast Transcript

Jason KanderSince recording this interview, Jason Kander announced that he was taking a step back from political life to deal with depression and PTSD symptoms he was experiencing as a result of his tour in Afghanistan. Kander bravely and candidly addressed his decision, in an effort to destigmatize mental illness and to encourage others to get the help they need.

My guest this week on the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is Jason Kander. He is a former Army Captain and New York Times bestselling author of Outside the Wire: Ten Lessons I’ve Learned in Everyday Courage. In the book, he discusses his time in the military and how he applies the lessons he learned while serving in his everyday life.

Upon returning from his tour in Afghanistan, Kander returned to his hometown of Kansas City, Missouri and became involved in politics. He served as a member of the Missouri House of Representatives from 2009 to 2013 and became the 39th Secretary of State for Missouri in 2013; a position he served in until 2017. At the time of this interview, he was running for mayor of Kansas City.

In addition to his work in Missouri politics, Kander founded Let America Vote, a grassroots campaign to combat voter suppression nationwide.

Questions I ask Jason Kander:

  • What’s the benefit to admitting that, as a leader, you might be wrong?
  • What are some of the specific takeaways from your military life that one can apply to entrepreneurship?
  • Why are you drawn to local politics?

What you’ll learn if you give a listen:

  • Why fear is not an effective leadership tactic.
  • The difference between dignity and integrity, and why one is negotiable while the other is not.
  • Why it’s dangerous for leaders to forget about humility.

Key takeaways from the episode and more about Jason Kander:

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

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Why You Should Focus on Designing an SEO-Friendly Website (And How to Do It)

Why You Should Focus on Designing an SEO-Friendly Website (And How to Do It) written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Your website is the heart of your online marketing efforts. So it stands to reason that it should be built with marketing, rather than aesthetics, in mind. Yes, there is something to be said for having an appealing website, and you should certainly aim to design one that has both form and function. But the mistake that a lot of small business owners make is focusing on form exclusively, and that is where they miss a major opportunity.

Your website can be the most beautiful one in the world, but if you don’t focus on its function, then it’s all for naught. If you want to build a successful website, you need to start with a solid SEO framework to build a site that is easy to find and works seamlessly with your other online marketing efforts.

Why SEO Matters

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is what gets new prospects onto your site. If someone does a Google search looking to solve a problem that they have, and your business is capable of solving that problem, you want your website to be the first one that they see. Think about your own browsing habits: How often do you look at the second, third, or fourth page search results on Google? If your site isn’t ranking on the first page of results, you’re not being seen by the majority of people.

Start with Keyword Research

Ensuring high rankings on search results is why it’s critical to begin the website design process with keyword research. Start by brainstorming the terms you would search for if you were looking for the good or service your business provides. This can and should be a long list—write everything down and don’t self-edit. Google Search Console can also help you identify the terms that are already driving users to your site, which might help you reframe your own thinking on the list.

Then begin to winnow the list down to 12-20 terms; some that speak to the fundamentals of your business and some that speak to a specific intent a user might have when searching. These keywords will inform all of your website design choices from here on out.

Think Like a Search Engine

The way that a human sees your site is very different from the way Google sees it as it crawls through sites looking for information relevant to a given search. You want to make sure that as much of your content as possible is in HTML text format. Images, Flash content, and Javascript are often not seen by search engines as they’re crawling sites, so if all of the important information about what your business does is displayed on your page within these dynamic formats, it’s possible that Google is skipping right past your website when looking for relevant words or phrases.

Using a tool like Google Cache Checker will allow you to see what your website looks like to Google. If your pages are showing up mostly blank, you know that search engines are missing out on crawling the majority of your content, so you’ll want to restructure your site to be more HTML heavy.

Consider Website Structure

In addition to thinking about the way a search engine will see your site, you want to make sure you’re building a structure that makes sense for SEO and for visitors.

Creating a site map can be a helpful way to think about content and flow. What information do you want to group together? What is the logical path that visitors will take when navigating your site? How can you make it easy for users to get from one relevant piece of information to another? And how can you structure your website in a way that enriches the customer journey and encourages users to move down the marketing hourglass?

Once you’ve thought about the user experience aspect of your site, it’s time to think about structure from an SEO perspective. Creating a site with crawlable link structure is critical to making sure that all of your content is seen by search engines. There are a number of reasons why your links might not be crawlable, including if they’re for pages that are hidden behind submission forms, if the links are within the aforementioned Java content that search engines aren’t able to see, or if there are hundreds of links on a given site (search engines will only go through so many links before hitting a limit).

Create Rich Content

Of course, this effort you’ve put into creating a site that’s easy to find, functional, and appealing will all be useless if your site has sub-par content.

As I’ve said before, the goal of this content should be to establish your business as a leading authority in your field. This valuable content will serve you across the board. It makes prospects come to trust you and moves them to the try and buy portions of the marketing hourglass. When you continue to generate new, rich content, it drives existing customers back to your site for more information, keeps you top of mind with those customers, and makes them more likely to repeat and refer.

Not only that, but when your website is filled with valuable content, and you continue to add more on a regular basis, you generate a stream of information that you can use to drive users to your site. You should be housing all of your content—blog posts, webinars, case studies, podcasts, white papers, and infographics—on your website. Then, as you share links to all of this valuable content on social media or via your newsletter, you’re directing all traffic back to your site.

A website, no matter how good it looks, is nothing without a solid approach to SEO. Your website is the most important piece of your online marketing strategy, and so investing the time, energy, and money in creating a site that ticks all of the boxes for form and function is a worthwhile endeavor.