Monthly Archives: December 2017

Weekend Favs December 30

Weekend Favs December 30 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.

  • Social HorsePower – Help your sales team with prospecting, energize your recruiting efforts and give your employees a voice on social media.
  • unDraw Illustrations – Browse to find the images that fit your needs and click to download. Take advantage of the on-the-fly color image generation to match your brand identity.
  • Tall Tweets – Turn your Google Slides into a GIF presentation and Tweet!

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

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Why Link Building is the New Networking

Why Link Building is the New Networking written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch About Link Building

Despite what you may have heard, link building is not some technical SEO-type of under-the-hood tactic. It is the new networking, and no matter what Google does to try to devalue backlinks, they remain an important factor in terms of your site showing up when people search for the things that you want them to find you for online.

The Game Has Changed

Certainly, the game has changed. There are a lot of SEO folks that charge a lot of money and do a lot of “evil things” in the eyes of Google to generate links because they’re so important.

Here’s what you need to remember: People link to things worth sharing. It really is that simple. It’s not some black hat SEO practice or way to trick people into linking to you. You’ve got to work at this.

You’ve got to create something that people want to link to. That’s why I say it’s the new networking because people want to share great content. They want to share it with their audiences, networks, and visitors.

If you give them something to share and target the right people for links, you’re going to acquire the links that you’re going to need to rank, or at least outrank, your competition.

Keep an eye on your competition

The first tactic that I want to talk about in terms of link building is to keep your competitors close. To find the best resources for where you might find great links or people that might want to link back to your content, search and review your competitors, and find out who’s out-ranking you.

This doesn’t necessarily have to be the person in your town that you go head-to-head with as a competitor. This is anybody who is out-ranking you for the search terms that you want to rank for whether that’s locally or nationally.

Find those people. Do some searches on some of the things that are important terms to you and you’re going to find a handful of competitors or other high authority sites that rank already and that have links.

How do you find those links? I use tools like SpyFu and Ahrefs. What these tools do is allow you to go to any website or any URL and see who is linked to this site, who is sending traffic to this site, and who is linking to their content.

I like to look at the last 30 days because you want to look at recent activity. It might not be that relevant if somebody linked four or five years ago. Look at the recent activity and start finding the content they link to and then start thinking about how you could make a pitch to this website or influencer in a way that would make them want to link to you.

For example, if you see that a particular site links to a lot of guest posts or writes guest posts, think about pitching them on a similar idea. Take an article from a competitor that has written something and really expand on it and make it better. Introduce them to somebody in your network that might be a good contact.

There are tremendous relationship-building tactics that you can do once you start identifying some of these sites that link to competitors. In many cases, they’ll be very motivated to link to you if you’re producing good, relevant content.

Get added to roundups

I don’t see a lot of people doing this, but this is one that I think can be quite easy and quite effective as a way to both get links and also get people sending traffic to your content. About once a week, I get a request from a content marketer who is working on something called a roundup-style blog post.

What they do is they’ll go out and they’ll try to round up a bunch of experts, tools or resources and create a post, because as it turns out, people love roundup posts. They’re like list posts but with more detail and a little more depth. The search engines like them better as well.

They can also draw a lot of shares and links which are two of the main reasons that I think people produce these roundup posts. Let’s say a post features 20 or 30 experts. The hope is that each of these experts is going to spread the word.

It’s a great link building strategy to find sites that routinely assemble these roundup posts, particularly if it’s in your niche or industry. Network to have them quote you, link to a post that you have or include you in their next roundup article.

To find these roundup posts, just turn to Google. If you were trying to find people that do roundup posts, say for link-building, you would just type in Title, Column, Roundup+link building, and you would find a bunch of roundup-type of posts or a list of sites that run roundup posts.

Once you find a suitable list, you’ll want to spend time networking. Don’t just simply reach out and say: “Hey, include me in your next post.” Follow them for a couple of weeks. Read up on them, comment on them and share them.

Do all the things that equate to networking as it’s an effective way for you to start getting noticed and start building strategies. I’m much more likely to link back to a person, pay attention to what it is they’re doing, or in some cases, think about including them in something that I’m doing or sharing a link to some of the content that they’ve written if they’ve shown prior engagement.

Network with local businesses

This is one of my favorites because it’s just solid business content relationship-building and referral building, and it covers so many areas. It’s particularly effective for local businesses and new business owners that are trying to find people in their community.

One of the things you’ll want to do as a business development and business-building strategy is to start networking with local businesses, particularly those that could be potential strategic partners.

Think about also building an online platform with them. If there’s somebody you work with, buy from, or network with that’s local, think about ways that you could link to and from each other.

Let’s say you’ve produced a great ebook. Think about all the strategic partners that you might be able to share that with and let them co-brand it and send it out to their entire network. Think about writing testimonials for each other.

Think about that business that you love and do business with, and write an unsolicited testimonial which becomes great content. They’ll want to put that on their website and in many cases, they’ll give you a link back. If you expand that whole tactic, there’s no reason you couldn’t be doing eight, ten, or twelve of those a month to start drawing links back to your site.

Don’t forget the organizations you belong to either, including:

  • The Chamber of Commerce
  • Your local chapter of your business organization.
  • BNI groups
  • Charitable foundations
  • Alumni chapters

All of these are great ways for you to get links back to your site. One of the benefits of being able to support charities in your community is that in many cases they will create sponsor pages. Those will automatically generate high-quality links back to your site.

Don’t Forget Local Print and Offline Options

Many print publications have online press release portals for local news. Find these sites and learn how to submit press releases to them. Do this every month and you’ll soon start to see some nice links coming from highly relevant, local sites.

There’s no question that link-building has become a hand-to-hand combat of sorts. But again, it is very much like effective networking, if you think a little bit outside the box with some of these tactics. People aren’t just going to shower you with links because you buy them or because you sign up and list your article in a directory. Those days are over.

Today, Google wants to see what feel and look to them like handcrafted, organic links between businesses that support each other through content producers that are writing and producing great content.

Use these three strategies to really ‘up’ your backlink quotient.

If you enjoyed this post take a look at our Ultimate Local Marketing Guide.


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Transcript of A Systematic Approach to Creating Meaningful Goals

Transcript of A Systematic Approach to Creating Meaningful Goals written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Back to Podcast


John Jantsch: Everybody loves to set new goals for the New Year. Depending upon when you listen to this show, I have got a very systematic approach, that might help you not only create meaningful goals for the new year, but also break them down into monthly, weekly, and even daily activities.

I talk to one entrepreneur about his systematic approach to doing just that. Check it out.

Hello and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing podcast. This is John Jantsch, and my guest today is Colin Gray. He’s a speaker, teacher, podcaster, and founder of, among other things.

I saw him speak in London this last fall, when I was there speaking at the Youpreneur Summit, the first annual event help by Chris Ducker. Met and really enjoy his talk about goal setting. So I’ve asked him to come on the show and talk about that topic again.

Colin, thanks for joining me.

Colin Gray: Happy to come on, John. Thanks for inviting me.

John Jantsch: We’re recording this at the end of the year. That’s a very traditional time for people to think “Gosh darn it. Next year’s going to be different.” (laughs)

“I’m going to set some goals and I’m going to stick with them.”

Of course, we all know that… I don’t know what the stats are. I bet it’s somewhere in the 90%. They give up within the first couple weeks.

Colin Gray: Yeah.

John Jantsch: Let’s talk a little bit about not just goal setting… I think most people universally accept that it’s a good thing to do, but I don’t think people universally stick with them.

You talked about a process that allowed you to set some goals, but then stick with them. So I’ll let you riff on that.

Colin Gray: Yeah, sure. I think the thing that seems to resonate with people and the talk I did was splitting it up into the four levels. I think that’s really where I found a bit more success with them as well.

I pictured around the bosses that you have to create for yourself. We all kind of aspire to be our own boss, but we never actually act like a boss for ourselves.

Often, it’s a good thing having a boss, because bosses tell us what to do. They direct what we do and they make sure we’re doing things. They also think a bit more strategically. Looking at that big picture and planning it out, and then doing those kind of monthly plans, the weekly plans, and the daily plans that we can stick to.

That seemed to resonate with the people: the fact that, because we’re aspiring to be bosses, we want that flexibility, but that flexibility comes with costs, I suppose. You end up being a bit directionless, and not really knowing where to go.

I quite enjoyed setting up that structure, the four levels of bosses from a yearly plan to a monthly plan to a weekly plan to a daily plan. That seemed to work for people.

John Jantsch: I agree. It’s not only different thinking. There certainly are different to-dos, tasks, whatever projects we want to call them, that go into each other those.

What would be some traditional things, or typical things, that might go on the yearly plan?

Colin Gray: The way that I’ve done yearly plans, long ago, when it wasn’t really working for me, was coming up with a set of random things I wanted to achieve in a coming year. It’d all be related to the business, but there was nothing really linking them together.

I remember, the first couple years, I had something like 10 to 12 goals. For example, get my email list to 5,000 subscribers, get on TV to promote what we do, speak at three different events. They may have related tasks, or they may have related themes, but I never really thought about it that way.

I’ve found that when I had a set of goals that were picked out, they can relate to KPIs, they relate to the business, but they had no relation to each other, I struggled with them. There was nothing to tie them together. It was hard to direct your work because there was so many different goals to go for.

More recently, the thing that I’m doing nowadays is setting themes. So much fewer themes for the year. What I do is I think about, maybe, three or four big themes for the year that I want to achieve.

For me, this year, in 2017, one of my big themes was visibility, visibility for the company.

We were doing well. We were getting a lot of traffic, a lot of attention for the business. But I could see there was a tipping point where, if we got over that tipping point, we’d be up to a next level. So I had a few goals within that one theme. One of which was I wanted to speak at a few events. Another one around our website traffic, to attain a certain level in our website traffic.

I just find that having goals that are in, say, the theme, they relate to each other. It helps me direct my work because it means that I’ve only got four themes that I need to make sure that I am achieving every month.

For me, it’s making sure that you’re taking a step forward, with these goals, every single month. You can take a step forward with 10 goals every single month, but, if you have them in themes, you know that you’re taking a step forward with each of those these each month. Therefore, those goals that are related within those themes, they’re all kind of working with each other.

That helped me direct my goals a lot more, made me feel like I was making more progress. Because of that progress, that helped me stick to those goals and keep working towards them.

John Jantsch: I like that idea, too, because it also offers you some filters. One of the challenges with entrepreneurs is we may be presented with 10 new opportunities a week, of things we could do, and some of them might not be on your goal sheet. But you might say, “You know what? That fits in my theme. I hadn’t thought about that, but that’s going to support my theme.”

Or, vice versa. You’re going to also say, “You know what? I really want to do that. That really sounds fun. I could spend a lot of time doing that. But it doesn’t fit in my theme so I’m going to say no.”

Colin Gray: Absolutely. That’s exactly it, yes.

Your goals are directed by your theme, but you’re not subservient to your goals. You’re not a slave to them. You can alter them and work with them within those themes. As long as you’re working towards those larger themes, then you know you’re growing your business.

John Jantsch: So the monthly theme… I should say the monthly activity sheet, or goals sheet, really is something that’s very fluid. You’re not planning out: “Okay. In March, I’m going to do this. In April, I’m going to do this.”

You wait till April 1, then you’re planning. Right?

Colin Gray: Yeah, yeah. This was the tool that I found that really made the biggest difference to my planning in the last two years. It’s probably something that a lot of your listeners will be familiar with, which is the board pack.

If anyone’s worked in a corporation or really big business, they’ve probably come across a board and a tool that a board uses. The board being your chairman, your CEO, your financial directors, all that kind of thing. They get together every month, and they set the strategy of the business. The set the direction for that month. They make sure you’re going toward your yearly goals.

They way they do that is their board pack. The board pack is quite a short document, just two or three pages, which lists what happened last month. What tasks were we trying to achieve? How well did we do with them? What are we going to do next month? What are the tasks we’re trying to achieve in the coming month?

A few things are in the strategic decisions. That’s things like the challenges that we can see coming up, the opportunities that we can see coming up. Things we have to keep an eye on.

I set up my board pack in January the first time I used it. I had the themes in there. I had my themes in there, and I started setting tasks that I thought would go towards my goals. That’s the key thing: you could set those tasks in there, and every task had to be aligned with one of my goals.

I didn’t have to be going towards each goal every single month, because I had the themes on the board pack. I knew, as long as I was spreading my tasks relatively evenly across the themes, and I was being as clever as I could about going from month to month to month, making sure that it’s aligned each month, because I looked back at the previous board pack before I created the next board pack, that was a big factor in making a lot progress.

I could align stuff much more easily. I know I’m always making progress, in each of those themes, towards the related goals. There’s always a bit of enlightenment from month to month because I’m looking back before I look forward.

That was a big thing for me, that alignment. That was what I’d been missing before. Just going off in random directions at any given time.

John Jantsch: You are essentially doing this activity on your own, right? There’s no team members that you’re doing it with. Is that right?

Colin Gray: No. At the start, I was actually doing it on my own. It does work for one person on their own. But, these days, it’s for our team. We’ve a team of five, in total.

John Jantsch: Do they participate in the process of creating that document?

Colin Gray: Not everyone. But my kind of second in command does, yeah.

Generally, it’s me that creates it. As the director, the CEO, I suppose I’m responsible for creating the board pack, but I’ll meet up with him. At the start of every month, we’ll have our kind of own board meeting, just the two of us.

He’ll give me feedback on it. He’ll see the direction and we’ll talk it through. It’s him that I kind of back and forth with the strategic decisions, the opportunities, the challenges, and get feedback on what I’ve put together.

John Jantsch: How has this changed your daily activity?

I’ve been in business for almost 30 years. I’m pretty sure, every single day, I have made a to-do list for that day.

Colin Gray: (laughs)

John Jantsch: But that list has changed. What goes on there, what doesn’t go on there.

How is your daily planning been impact by the fact that you have a monthly and a weekly plan?

Colin Gray: From the monthly plan I’ve got a set of large tasks. A lot of them, those tasks, will take a few days to complete, like create an automated emails sequence for a particular purpose. It’s something that’s going to take a little while to put together.

Every week, what I do, at the start of the month particularly, just after I create that pack for the coming week, on a Monday morning, I’ll spend a couple of hours. I’ll look through the board pack. I’ll transfer some of those monthly tasks into my week.

I say, “Here’s what I’ve got on this week.”

I’ll take out five or six things, and I’ll put it into… I actually use a Google Doc for this. Really simple. Just a bullet point list of the five or six big tasks I want to bring out in my monthly pack into my weekly schedule. That’s my starting point.

It’s the only way that I’ve found to organize my week and feel in control. It’s having a spreadsheet that aligns every single day. I have a spreadsheet, which has Monday through Friday, left to right. I have slots in that week where I’ve got the regular stuff.

Every Tuesday morning I’ve got email list, so I need to either send out an email to our members or our general newsletter. One Wednesday morning I’ve got blogging, so I need to write a blog post or refresh a blog post or something to do with the blog. On Thursday, podcasting. I’ve got a whole morning to put together a podcast. They’re slots that are in there every single week.

I also have, on that schedule, open deep-work slots. I have at least one every day, at least quarter of a day, but more like half a day. Maybe a four-hour slot. At the start of the week I actually slot these big weekly tasks into one of those slots.

Say that email sequence task that I’ve brought from my board pack. I’ll put that in on Wednesday afternoon, thinking that’s what I’m going to do Wednesday afternoon.

So my days tend to be planned ahead of time. They’re planned on a Monday.

When it gets to Wednesday, all I do is open up that spreadsheet, and I’ll look at what I’ve got on that day.

I said at the time, at the talk, I’m not naïve enough to think that I’ll stick to this every single day. Things come up. Things break. That kind of stuff. But, I think, having this start or plan for the week, and reviewing it each day, just to say “Realistically, is this feasible? Is it still what I need to be doing today?”… Having that to start with, as a starting point, it makes me feels so much more control. It makes me feel like I’ve got this little boss sitting there, telling me what to do, which takes away anxiety, takes a way a lot of the stress. It just makes me achieve a lot more in a day, I think.

John Jantsch: There’s two things that I think trip a lot of people up, even people that do what you’ve done. They’ve planned it down to the minute. Then something takes three times longer than you thought it would.

Colin Gray: (laughs) Yes.

John Jantsch: But you’ve got to finish it because it’s do that day or something. That, number one. Number two: I’m curious how you deal with things that, maybe, support the yearly plan, but they’re kind of moving targets.

An example of that would be your speaking. That’s something you want to do. You get booked for a gig. Then, at some point, you look up and go “Oh. I better make my slides for that.” That became a whole project that just got slotted into that month or that week or whatever.

I’m curious how you deal with those two fluctuation.

Colin Gray: The bigger picture in the speaking, for example: I think this really helps with that stuff a lot. It makes me prioritize a lot more effectively. Suddenly, I see the themes. I see the goals within those themes.

If somebody offers me an opportunity that I know is going to take up time, like speaking… I know that’s going to take up preparation time, slides time, all that kind of stuff. I know I’m going to have to fit this in.

I work on my weekly schedule every week. I work on my board pack every month. I can see what I’ve got to do. It makes me much more cognizant of whether I can fit something in. It also makes me think much more about how aligned an activity is with those goals.

If that speaking opportunity comes up, and it is really aligned, I’ll fit it in and I’ll plan it at least a month or two ahead. It’ll fit into the board pack in that way.

But, because I can see that board pack ahead of time, because I can see those tasks ahead of time, those goals ahead of time, I know that it’s got to put something else back. It makes me prioritize things much more effectively. It makes me value my time a lot more because I can see those activities that I’ve got to move.

I think that applies to the weekly schedule as well, like if something takes twice as long. If I end a day and there’s a slot for… Again, take that example of creating an email sequence. I thought that was going to take four hours. I’m only halfway through after those four hours. I can look at the rest of the week and say “I need another four hours for this. Where am I going to put that?”

I can look at this calendar. I can look at my spreadsheet. I can say, “I’ve got this here, this here, this here.”

It makes me prioritize. I’ve got to get rid of something else to fit this in. Either move it to the next week or get rid of it altogether.

There’s something around that schedule that helps me prioritize, that helps me keep on track. There’s so the simple fact that, putting these together every week, it makes you a lot better at estimating time. You suddenly start doing a lot better at knowing how long something’s going to take you.

There’s a lot of power in that, actually. I think that that’s what leads to a lot of stress. A lot of anxiety for people. You’re not that good. I’m still not brilliant, but I’m a lot better than I used to be about guessing how long something’s going to take. That helps me out a lot. It just makes me a lot calmer when I can estimate quite well.

Having that week schedule in front of me, you can estimate a week’s worth of work really effectively. It just helps me progress much more quickly, I think.

John Jantsch: As your team has grown, it probably helps if everybody’s playing with the same sort of rules.

With small business owners this is probably not the right word, but I’m going to use it anyway: have you mandated that everybody on the team use a similar system?

Colin Gray: I have, yeah. Not mandated. Like you say, it’s not the right word. I show everyone how I do my work. I recommend that they do the same thing. And everyone does a variation of it.

I don’t think that the exact same thing works for every person. Some people are more organized naturally. Some people don’t enjoy working within that. So no, not everybody on my team does the exact same thing. But everybody has a structure within which they work.

They all at least have that regular slots approach that I talked about. Matthew, for example, has a certain date where he does client podcasts every single week, a certain day where he does a blog post every single week.

That’s important to me, that all of my staff at least have those regular slots in their calendar. I feel like that’s a definite massive bonus to having this weekly schedule, the fact that you get those regular things. It makes you prolific with your content.

That’s the minimum. But most of them at least do a little bit of the scheduling that I talk about.

John Jantsch: How do you, as the founder and leader, stop from blowing people’s schedules up?

Colin Gray: (laughs)

John Jantsch: A very, very typical thing is everybody’s working this way. They have their dependencies. Everybody has got their goals for the week. Then you come in and say, “I’ve got this great new idea. We’re going to do this and this and this.”

You throw a grenade in there.

Colin Gray: (laughs)

This stops me doing that so much. You know what it’s like. When you run a company, when you’re an entrepreneur in nature, you have these ideas, these shiny objects that you want to run towards. This stops me doing that so much.

If I have something, a great idea that pops into my head, the first thing I think is: is this great idea aligned with one of my themes?

If it is, that’s great. Keeping thinking about it. Is it aligned with one of my goals?

If it is, great.

If it’s not, then I need to think really, really seriously about whether… Well, no. I don’t. I was about to say [inaudible 00:19:20] your goal, but, actually, I don’t. It doesn’t align with this years goals. So I don’t do it.

If it does align with a goal, I don’t put it in in the next couple of weeks. I put it onto the next section of my board packs. When it comes to the start of the following month, I got through and I do my month board pack planning, and it’s sitting there in the next section. I’m then in that strategic frame of mind. I’m in that planning frame of mind, planning ahead the big picture, the strategic mind, whereby I can sit and think, dispassionately: “Is this really a good idea?”

I’m brought away from that overenthusiastic, “jump at every shiny thing” state of mind, so that I can really think logically about whether it’s a good idea to put it in there.

I find that this stops me doing that so much, ruining my schedule and ruining my whole teams schedule. It brings you out of it and makes you really think about whether it’s worth it.

John Jantsch: We have spent most of our time today talking about your process, but people are probably wondering what type of business do you apply of this to?

Colin Gray: (laughs)

I run a podcasting business. I get to be talking on a podcast.

We help people to start their own show through That’s the website I’ve run for the last six years now.

We do blogs. We do podcasts. We do a lot of video as well. We’ve got a coaching academy. We’re developing software on podcasting too. It’s exciting stuff. Really enjoy it. Creating our own shows as well as helping other people start their own.

John Jantsch: I think, when we were in London, you shared some documents or templates or starters for some of these tools. Is that something that you would share with our audience? Or could share with our audience?

Colin Gray: Yeah, absolutely. Happy to send them to that same starter page that I gave out at the conference. You can find it over at For Youpreneur.

John Jantsch: We’ll have that in the show notes as well.

Colin, thanks for joining us and sharing your… I think these systems entrepreneurs share are so valuable because they typically have been wrestled with and tested and tweaked. Obviously, everybody’s going to make it their own, but this is the kind of stuff you really can’t find in an MBA book or class or something. So I appreciate you sharing.

Colin Gray: Happy to. Happy to. Like you say, it won’t all suit everyone.

I think the thing that really excited me at Youpreneur was the fact that people were picking out the bits that really caught their imagination. They were using either the weekly plan or the daily plan or the board pack. The themes.

It was one bit that would help people go a little bit faster. That’s great. That’s job done.

John Jantsch: Colin, thanks so much. If I don’t see you before that, maybe we’ll see you again in London.

Colin Gray: Indeed. Talk to you then.

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A Systematic Approach to Creating Meaningful Goals

A Systematic Approach to Creating Meaningful Goals written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with Colin Gray
Podcast Transcript

Colin Gray

My guest for this week’s episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is Colin Gray. He is a speaker, teacher, podcaster, and founder of The Podcast Host, among other things. He and I discuss his effective approach to goal setting.

Gray creates and produces his own podcasts, helps others to create their own, and speaks regularly on podcasting, new media, content marketing and storytelling. He teaches businesses and individuals how to grow their business through podcasting, starting with cultivating a fanatical audience. He also helps educators to use podcasting to enhance their teaching.

Questions I ask Colin Gray:

  • What’s the process you use to not only set goals but stick with them?
  • What should go on a person’s yearly plan?
  • What does your monthly goal sheet look like?

What you’ll learn if you give a listen:

  • Why themes are important for goal setting
  • How to plan around tasks that took longer than you thought or unanticipated tasks that weren’t factored in
  • How his daily planning has been impacted since he has a monthly and weekly plan

Key takeaways from the episode and more about Colin Gray:

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

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How to Create Local Content for Local SEO

How to Create Local Content for Local SEO written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Pre-internet days, it didn’t take a lot for local businesses to notify a prospect that they are located in the same city. Handing them a flyer with business details and an address was pretty much a giveaway as to where you did business. Running an ad in the local daily newspaper or the Yellow Pages was how you got found in your town.

Times have changed. Search engines are one of the primary ways that people find nearby products and services. In this digital era, it’s not always so obvious where your business is located or who it is that you serve, and this can be a real challenge for local business owners.

While there is a growing list of local SEO tactics that you must implement, one that often goes unnoticed is the use of local content. You must genuinely put in the time and effort to create local content to alert website visitors where you are so that you hit your ideal clients in town, not somebody located across the world.

The problem I often see is that many local business owners either aren’t aware of how much effort goes into making content to make their business known locally online, or they’re aware, but just don’t know where to get started. So, instead of playing the guessing game, below are some helpful hints that could help to point you in the right direction.

Creating local content

I’ve said it often, and I guarantee I’ll continue to say it. . . Content is no longer king – It’s air.

Yes, it’s that important for your marketing. Without it, the ability to get discovered and rise above your competition in search engine results pages becomes significantly harder.

While the majority of your content can be general and focused on your audience and how you can solve their problems, it’s important to sprinkle in some material that also focuses on your community. When doing this, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Embrace the community beyond what you sell – Show that you are involved and know what’s going on in your area, whether it’s supporting a local sports team or discussing neighborhood news and events. Talking about community, customer, and employee-related local news is a great way to mix up your local content in authentic ways.
  • Develop case studies that address the different neighborhoods you serve. Show that you’ve had successes in the areas of people you’re trying to reach.
  • Write about local things that people care about – Don’t just write about what you’re interested in. Write what your audience would be interested in.

One important thing to keep in mind throughout your content development is intent. What do you intend to accomplish with every piece of content your produce? It’s easy to get spammy if you just list a bunch of random local content, so tying it into your business is ideal. Remember, if you want to use content as a tool to drive local traffic then you have to make it useful and local.

A good example of a piece of local content done well was by my client, Jackson Tree Service. They wrote a blog post titled, St. Louis Suburbs Giving Citations for Unkept TreesThis post was educational and helpful for members of the community, but it also tied into their business effortlessly.

Now, you don’t necessarily need to develop all the content on your own. Having local guest bloggers and contributors post on your site is a great way to add content, while also expanding your audience to the contributor’s audience as well.

In addition to blogging, don’t forget to incorporate local content across the rest of your website:

  • Use the names of your city and suburbs across your site pages.
  • Add your NAP (name, address, and phone number) to the header or footer of your site so that it appears on all pages.
  • Add a Google map so that people can see exactly where you’re located and the areas that you serve.

More than ever, your website is at the core of how you get ranked and found locally online. Make sure that your content is tailored specifically to the search results you want to show up in.

Best practices for local content

Link building and keywords

Keyword research is a huge game changer when it comes to local SEO. Be sure to add local keywords to the text used to link back to your site from places like LinkedIn or in article directories. Be sure to also add local keywords in the internal links on your pages as well.

Link building from external sites has changed over the years, and it’s now much more about quality than quantity. Getting inbound links from core businesses in your community, such as chamber directories, tourism directories, and local strategic partner pages, can be huge and a big win for your business.

On-page elements

Be sure to optimize your pages and posts with local keywords in the following areas:

  • Title tags
  • Meta description
  • Body copy
  • Anchor text (linking to other content)
  • H1 tags (Usually your headline)
  • Bold and italics tags
  • URLs
  • Alt text in images

Use rich snippets

By using rich snippets, you can help Google find geographic information, information about people in your business and reviews of your products and services. They essentially help users find your website when it references a local place.

Don’t forget about reviews

Reviews are a form of content that many local business owners neglect. While you need positive reviews for social proof, you also need them as a pillar of your local SEO efforts.

You must put consistent effort into getting reviews. Even a business with raving fans needs to work hard to get reviews from happy customers. The key is to ask often and make it as easy as possible for happy customers to log in to the sites that matter, such as Yelp and Google, and leave a review.

You can repurpose these reviews into other forms of local content on your site as well.

Make creating local content a priority. By continuously putting time towards it and striving to make it better, you should start to see the rewards come in.

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Weekend Favs December 23

Weekend Favs December 23 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.

  • LyrWP – WordPress themes, plugins & services, from independent developers.
  • Facebook Sound Collection –An exclusive collection of original tracks and sound effects that you can use on Facebook and Instagram.
  • Botletter – Send newsletters on Facebook Messenger.

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

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How to Use Google AdWords for Local Businesses

How to Use Google AdWords for Local Businesses written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch About Google AdWords

Today I’m going to address Google AdWords for local businesses. This is going to be pretty prescriptive. I’m not going to try to teach you everything there is to know about AdWords today. I’m going to outline what I think is the best approach for small local businesses, who are probably on a small, local business budget.

Why AdWords?

First things first: Why Google AdWords? Well, the thing about AdWords is that when somebody turns to Google and types in, “I’m looking for X in my town,” the buying intent is very, very high. Showing up on Google Maps or a mobile device when somebody has very high purchase intent can lead to a lot of new business.

It’s also a great place for you to balance out your SEO efforts. I’m a big proponent of showing up in search engine results pages because you’ve written great content that is very useful for that thing that people are searching for, but in competitive markets, that’s going to take some time. By filling in your SEO efforts with keyword phrases that you know you’re trying to win, that you know have high-intent or commercial intent, with Google AdWords is a great way for you to ‘stack the deck.

It’s also a great way to claim more of the page one real estate. You could show up maybe in the ad; you could show up hopefully in the three pack at some point, or even show up on page one. You overwhelm the page, if you will, by doing this, so it is a great way for you to make sure you are capturing the phrases that you know turn into business.

Do your homework

So, how do you get started with it? Do some research first instead of just going out there and saying, “Well, here’s my product, here’s what I think people search for, I’m going to bid for those terms.” That might lead to some business, but it might also lead to you wasting a lot of money.

So the first place to look is the competition. Now, that’s not always the person that you compete with across the street or across town that you know of. In a lot of cases, what we’re talking about is the people that are already bidding for the key search terms that you want, that maybe are already collecting business because they are in the number one, two, or three spots on Google for the right search terms.

You’ll want to figure out who they are. Click through to where they’re sending people. What does the ad say? What’s the call to action? When you get there, what are they doing to help convert you to a client? Some businesses are an immediate sale, like a plumber. If your pipe breaks, you’re looking to hire a plumber right now. Or let’s say you lose your keys, you’re looking to hire a locksmith right now.

Now, there are other businesses, let’s say a remodeling contractor, where remodeling isn’t something that you’ll do tonight, it’s going to be something that you might do over the next couple months. It takes time. So your strategy for AdWords will heavily depend on your industry.


Looking at who is already bidding for those terms is a great place to start. Now, if you want to dig in, you can see a lot from what Google shows you, but you can also use a tool like SpyFu, that will not only tell you what people are bidding but also how much they’re spending and how many clicks they’re getting.

You can get a real sense of how committed they are to pay per click. In some cases, you’ll find people that are very big SEO competitors and very big pay per click competitors as well, so they’re playing both sides. You’ll also find people who aren’t showing up for organic searches that are very heavily invested in pay per click because in some ways that’s their only option.

So, do your homework first. Find out who’s doing what in your community, find out what they’re doing that is converting or at least attempting to convert people regarding landing pages and such.

Invest time into keyword research

Step number two is to do your keyword research. Now, I talk a lot about keyword research for content and organic search results, but it is extremely important to know what people are searching for when they go out there to find a product or a service that you offer. Again, there are some free tools for this.

The first one Google offers us. So if you have a Google AdWords account, you will find in there, under the tools section, something called the Google Keyword Planner. This is a tool that allows you to play around and put in search terms and then discovers related search terms. Discover how much you might have to bid for that search term to discover the volume of searches related to those search terms.

This is a great way for you to put together your keyword list and to start pruning down and finding what might be the most potent keywords for your product or service. To some degree you probably know what those are, you probably have an idea of what people are looking for, but this tool helps you expand that list and the variations and ways in which people do all of those searches. (Here’s a list of some alternative Keyword Tool options)

Then, you want to start looking at things like related searches. So you even turn to Google, and they will show you searches related to your searches. What you’re trying to do is find keyword phrases that have the most potential to turn into clients. Pay attention to what Google tells you the bid is for those, because in some cases the higher that they’re suggesting you’re going to have to bid, the higher the commercial intent might be. In other words, maybe other people in your industry are ignoring some terms because they don’t ever turn into clients and they’re bidding up other terms because those are the ones that turn into buyers and to clients.

There are some other tools you can employ to round out your search. I love one called Answer the Public to find out what questions people are asking for.

It’s very tempting in your keyword research to think, “Oh, here’s the three or four phrases that get the most, they get all the volume.” It can be tempting to try to win those, but there’s an excellent chance that they’re going to be much more competitive. Maybe they’ll be a little broad. For example, if somebody’s searching for ‘marketing consultant,’ there’ll be a lot of volume in that term, but do I know if they’re looking to hire a marketing consultant, to be one, to know what it takes from a training standpoint? It’s hard for me to know what their intent is from that search.

Look for some searches that are very specific say questions. There may not be much volume in that, but they make it easy to tell what somebody’s after. Part of the game in AdWords is to get your ads as relevant and close to the search that somebody is making. So what that requires is a little extra effort, having small ad groups, having very relevant ad copy, and then doing it over and over again in many types of search phrases. You’re looking to fill out 20 or 30 terms, but you might put those into small groups of four or five keywords that would be very specific to an ad. The closer your ad is to the search, the better off you’re going to be. (Here’s a lesson on keyword research)

UnGoogle Your Campaigns

Now let me go into an area where hopefully nobody from Google is reading because I’m going to tell you how to un-Google your default account. There are a few things that Google has set up to guarantee that you will have to spend more money than you need to, and pretty much stack the deck in their favor.

There are a couple of things when you’re getting into there. The first one is campaign type. There are several places that you can show your ads. You can show display ads on their display network, or you can show them in their search network only. For the most part, you’ll want to start with a search network only. Make sure that is the only box that is clicked in your campaign type because otherwise, you’ll get a bunch of junk.

The next one is match type. As you’re setting up your keyword phrases, there are ways for you to tell Google exactly what type of match you want to make. The match types show your ads to more people, being very broad in their approach, to being very exact. You have the ability to dial that in, and for the most part you want to be more on the precise, relevant side than the broad side, because people type a lot of weird things in when they’re searching, and you don’t want to get caught up in a whole bunch of clicks that have nothing to do with your actual product. So the default type is what is called the “broad match.” That is the default match type that if you just put a keyword in there, it’s going to get you things that are not related.

AdWords match types

The graph above goes down the different match types so that you can get more precise with your match types and you can tell Google that if you sell marketing services like I do, that you want somebody who is searching only for buying marketing services.

If they’re searching for ‘how to learn how to do marketing services, they would not show my ad. Or worse; ‘free marketing services.’ I don’t want anybody that wants free marketing services! So I can dial down my match types so that Google won’t show my ad, even though it had the term ‘marketing services’ in there because it had ‘negative keywords.’

Take a look at the match types. Study it, and remember, for the most part, you want to be closer to modified or exact match. So, broad modified, or exact match, are the ones that you’re looking for. Phrase match is another one that’s kinda in between those two, but never leave it just at broad, or you’ll get a lot of junk.

Optimizing your campaigns

Let’s get into optimizing your campaigns. If you are a local business you want to make sure that you’re very dialed in on the location of your ads. If you serve a full suburban area, you might just want to set a radius. But if there are certain zip codes that you serve, certain zip codes that you know your clients don’t come from, you have a very granular level of setting for location. So you want to make sure that you are setting it up correctly. Location comes back to optimizing our campaigns in our ad groups too.

I already mentioned the idea of ‘negative keywords’ in the match types. You want to make sure that you are building a list if you don’t want your ads to show for those. One of the things that you want to make sure that you’re doing is check your search terms tab. As you roll out your campaign, you’re going to find that there are negative keywords that you never thought of. You’re getting some clicks from things that are not related to what you want. So you can adjust that, and you should certainly adjust that as you optimize and continue to look at your campaigns.

And this is a point where I probably should throw in; this is not a ‘set it and forget it’ type of thing. You constantly want to be monitoring and figuring out what words are converting, what search terms are converting, because in the end that’s all you care about. My experience is that no matter how well we plan out and strategize, there’s always going to be probably 30-40% of your search terms of your ads that just don’t produce the results that you want. You want to make sure that you are monitoring those in a way to cut the losers and maybe double down on the winners.

AdWords ad copy

Now let’s move to ad copy and the things that you can do to make your ads very, very compelling. One of the challenges with Google AdWords, of course, is that you don’t have a lot of real estate. Your headline is 30 characters, and then you get 80 characters in two description lines after that, and then a URL. And that’s pretty much it.

You’ve got to grab people’s attention very quickly, so if you’re in one of those businesses where somebody’s intent is very high, they’re going to want to know, ‘how much is this going to cost me? Can I trust these people? When will they get here?’ Those are the kinds of things that you can cram into your ads to get as much information communicated as possible.

Don’t forget the URL. One of the tricky things in the URL is that you get to put a display URL and then you get to put an actual URL. The actual URL is where people go when they click on your ad, but the display URL can be just about anything as long as it’s on your domain. That’s a place where you can put some extra keywords in there or maybe some extra branding in that URL. So don’t forget to do that.

Test, test, test – no matter how good I think I get at any of this, I don’t always know what’s going to be the best ad.

Do your best attempt to write three really great, compelling ads that you think are going to make people want to click. When you run them, Google will rotate them through for you, and they’ll show you the ones that are getting clicked on. Google wants lots of clicks, so they want you to run the most compelling ad.

They are going to, actually within a few days in some cases, be telling you, “Hey, here’s the ad that you should be running.” If you just let it run, they will ultimately default to the ad that is getting the most clicks, because, again, they want to get paid. What we do with a lot of people is say, “Start with three, test them, but you can always come back, and once you have that winner, there’s nothing to stop you from trying to beat that winner.”

Understanding extensions

Extensions are another topic around optimization. If you enable them, and you should enable as many extensions as you possibly can (there’s a process for doing that in AdWords), Google will make a determination about which of those extensions they show in your ads, dependent partly on the type of search and the proximity of the search and a number of variables. What it ultimately does is it gives you more real estate. It makes your ad look bigger and more prominent. If you’re in a competition, essentially, with two or three, in some cases, other ads, say at the top of the page or even in mobile search, your ad, hopefully, is going to stand out a little bit because you’ve added those extensions to it.

adwords extensions

Now, if you’re in one of those businesses where somebody’s going to be on their phone and they’re going to want to click to call right away, then you also want to have your campaign set up by device type as well. There is an extension where you can say, “I want these ads to run for mobile and I want them to be ‘click to call.”‘ So in other words, somebody wouldn’t even have to type in your phone number or click and then find your phone number, they would click on the ad and they would then call you.

It’s not for every business, and if you’re not one of those businesses that answer the phone when people call day and night, then this may not be for you, but there are a lot of little tricks and settings like that.

Focus on conversions

The last topic I want to cover about is conversion. You want to set it up so that you know precisely what’s working and what’s not working, and the good news is there are a few things that can increase your conversion, and certainly a few things that will help tell you what’s working and not working.

The first piece is something we call ‘landing pages.’ Now, I know this isn’t a foreign concept to everyone, but I find very few local businesses that take the time to set up landing pages for their ads. And what this would mean is that if you run an ad for a very specific set of keywords and your ad has very specific copy, the closer you can match the landing page, the page that somebody clicks through to, to what that search term was, or at least what the intent of that search term was, the higher chances Google will give you a quality score, and the ad will convert, or turn somebody into a customer.

So if you have different products, different services, different offers, different campaigns that you’re running, it helps to build pages specific to those things. Instead of sending somebody to your homepage where they now have to figure out what it is that they’re looking for or even find your contact information, send them to a page that is very, very related to the ad, to the keyword groups, and has a very specific call to action that is related to what that ad was about.

This takes some extra time. You may have to create five or six pages just for your campaigns, but the conversions and the return on investment for your ads spent will go through the roof if you do it.

There are a couple of other things we highly recommend, including call tracking. We use a tool called CallRail and what that allows you to do is if you’re in one of those businesses where you’re trying to generate phone calls, or form fills, so if somebody comes to your website and fills out a form, this will actually allow you to know exactly where those are coming from, all the way down to the ad level to the keyword search term that they typed into Google before they picked up the phone and called you.

This kind of tracking allows you to eliminate the campaigns that aren’t producing for you and again, if they’re turning into phone calls, you can even record these phone calls, you’ll know if those phone calls were good phone calls or great ideal prospects. You could get it to the point where you can find the campaign, the phrase, that is actually producing clients for you.

When you know that, then all of a sudden you can make sure that you bid that up, that you are winning that, that you’re increasing maybe your bids for those key terms and then turning other ones off. That makes you far more competitive for the things that are turning into clients.

You will also need to connect your Google AdWords account with your Google Analytics account, and turn on something they call ‘auto-tagging.’ This will start immediately as people are clicking on your ads and will start producing campaigns inside of your Google Analytics that will help you show what clicks are producing what results.

One of the things that you’ll want to understand and learn how to create are conversion goals in Google Analytics. A simple goal might be to fill out a form or click through to another page where they can find out how to buy that product or service, and by taking that action, they are completing that goal.

Those conversion goals can give you very, very precise information about what your ads are doing regarding goals and achieving those goals.

That’s it for today!

Like this post? It’s part of our Ultimate Guide to Local Marketing.

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Transcript of How to Market a Product Idea That Nobody Has Heard Of

Transcript of How to Market a Product Idea That Nobody Has Heard Of written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Back to Podcast


John Jantsch: Let’s say you have this idea for a product that nobody has ever heard of before. Nobody else has created. This innovation now has blue sky opportunity for you, but at the same time, now you’ve got the immense job of educating people about an entire new category of business, both treacherous and intriguing, at the same time.

You’re going to hear from Jonah Lupton, who did just that. He created a company called SoundGuard, which is producing soundproof paint, something nobody else offers, and we talk about his journey.

This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing podcast is sponsored by Podcast Bookers, Podcasts are really hot, right? But you know what’s also really hot? Appearing as a guest on one of the many, many podcasts out there. Think about it. Much easier than writing a guest blog post. You get some high-quality content. You get great backlinks. People want to share that content. Maybe you can even transcribe that content. Being a guest on podcasts, getting yourself booked on podcasts, is a really, really great SEO tactic, great brand-building tactic. Podcast Bookers can get you booked on two, to three, to four podcasts every single month on auto-pilot. Go check it out.

Hello, and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing podcast. This is John Jantsch, and my guest today is Jonah Lupton. He is an entrepreneur, advisor, and also a podcaster, who has started numerous companies and he admits that some were a success and some were failures. He’s currently the founder of a company called SoundGuard.

So, Jonah. Thanks for joining me.

Jonah Lupton: Thank you, John. Appreciate it.

John Jantsch: Give me a little bit about your background. I’m always intrigued. This is from your bio. Started numerous companies. So, tell us I guess the two or three minute version of your entrepreneurial journey.

Jonah Lupton: Absolutely. I actually spend nine years after college working for the Wall Street investment banks, the Morgan Stanleys, the Smith Barneys, managing money for wealthy individuals and non-profits and foundations. Halfway through that, I realized that I wanted to be an entrepreneur, but I couldn’t give up my salary. So, I started figuring out how to launch some projects on the side. My first venture was back in 2007, failed miserably, and I did a couple more while I was still employed, all failed miserably. Then I realized, the only way I’m going to be able to be a successful entrepreneur is if I do it full-time. I can’t do nights and weekends.

So, in 2011, I walked away from the investment business, started another company, and over the last … I guess it’s six years, I started a few different companies. Some were successful. Some were not. Some were in the, let’s see, nutritional supplement space. I did a couple payment startups or fundraising startups like Crowdfunding. Then a couple years ago, when I was just trying to find a solution to my own problem, which was noisy neighbors in an apartment building, and I could not find anything out there that really solved my needs at an affordable price point, that’s when I came up with the idea for soundproof paint, hired some chemists, and for the last two and a half years, we … Well, spent about a year and a half doing product development and testing. Then, we filed all the patents, and now we’ve been live in the market for a few months.

John Jantsch: This is a silly question because it sounds like one of those things that seems obvious enough that someone would’ve tackled it before. Why has nobody tackled soundproof paint?

Jonah Lupton: It’s a good question, and it’s usually the first question I get when I tell someone what I’ve been doing. They all say, “Why isn’t Sherwin-Williams doing this? Or, why isn’t Benjamin Moore? Or PPG? These 30, 40, 50 billion dollar companies, why haven’t they done it?”

I don’t have a good answer. I’d like to think that they’ve tried, and maybe they couldn’t figure it out. Maybe it was just too difficult. I know a lot of those companies … The Silicon Valley … The saying is, “If you want to beat the big boys early on, do things that don’t scale.” I heard that five or six years ago, and that always stuck with me. I think there’s some truth to that ’cause these big paint companies, they want to develop a product, they want to put it on their shelf in their own retail-branded stores, or they want to put it on the shelf at Home Depot and Lowe’s, and they want you to come in and buy it and put it on yourself, so it’s all D.I.Y. That’s not our product. Our product will never be D.I.Y, ’cause it has to be sprayed on by a high-pressure sprayer.

So, maybe that’s one reason, is that they just saw too many headwinds going into this market, but to be honest, I just don’t know. I mean, it was very difficult coming up with a formulation. My guess is we probably tried 20 or 25 different formulations with all types of different pigments and resins and fillers. I don’t come from an engineering background or a chemistry background, so I barely understand half of this stuff. I can’t even pronounce half the things that are in the product. Luckily, I partnered with some really good chemists early on. We figured out after these 20 or 25 formulations that there was a combination of three or four ingredients that, when put together, blocked out the most sound. We put all of those ingredients into this product, of course, meaning I don’t think any other company out there could come up with a product that was as effective as ours without using one of those ingredients and impeding on our patent.

John Jantsch: Well, yeah. When you go out and tell somebody in more of a sales conversation rather than a chemistry conversation, how does this work?

Jonah Lupton: We are blocking or deflecting sound. We are absorbing a little bit of sound. It’s hard to know exactly how much sound is being absorbed, but the majority is certainly being blocked or deflected. Where we see the best use cases for our product are on walls that are separating two spaces. So, you’re blocking the sound from passing through the wall. So, hotel rooms, apartments, condos, town houses, offices, dorms and student housing, those are all the markets that we’re starting off with. So, we’re starting off B2B. We’re selling through our sales reps, through distributors, going directly to the end customer. So, the ownership group of the hotel, the ownership group of the apartment complex. We’re going right to the facilities managers at the universities. I’m talking to two or three very, very large universities about doing all of their dorms in student housing when summer comes along.

John Jantsch: Right now, you are doing … do we call this installing? Or, the application of the … You’re actually doing it with your own people?

Jonah Lupton: No. Right now, and I don’t know if this will be the case in three or four years. It’s hard to know, but at least for now, we are only selling the products. We’re manufacturing and selling the product, and then we partner with contractors to actually install it. We have a training process. Any painting contractor in the country right now that handles commercial projects can fill out our application. We have to do a little bit of due diligence on them. I want to know who are the employees, they all have to go through background checks. I refuse to let some painter go into a hotel with key cards and cause a problem that we could have found if we had just done the appropriate background check. They have to have the right equipment. They have to have the right insurance coverage, and they just have to watch some videos, so they know how this is sprayed and, most importantly, how it’s measured. It’s very important that we get 90 wet mils of product onto the wall.

John Jantsch: I’m just going to ask you, what’s your measurement of success? So, when you go up to somebody and you say, “We’re going to make it soundproof.” Clearly, the wall’s so thick, it’s got so much on it today, it’s got a sound rating of some sort today, so what’s the measure of success for how you make it soundproof?

Jonah Lupton: We do a sound test up-front. That’s part of our … We have a two or three step process before we can even sell them any product. Obviously, we have a lot of leads that come into our website. Sales reps are out there generating leads. We’re going into a lot of different marketing channels to all generate leads. Once we get interest from the property, then we have to diagnose the problem. Is it something that we can help with? Is it a wall problem? Is it room-to-room? If there’s noise … If they’re on a busy intersection in downtown Boston and there’s street noise, that’s a window problem. That’s nothing that we can really help them with. Same thing if people are running up and down the hallways or slamming doors. We can help a little bit with that, but that’s more of a door problem.

So, as long as we diagnose that it’s a wall problem, we need them to send us some pictures. If we think that it’s an appropriate wall, meaning there’s no weird vents or something going from one room to the next, which you see once in a while, but assuming that it’s a project that we want to take on, I would say to one of my sales reps … I have 65 sales reps around the country in every major market. They’d go to the property, take some pictures, make a video, shakes some hands, et cetera, and then they’re going to run their own little amateurish sound test. Each sales rep has a portable speaker system with a built-in amp and Bluetooth and all that. Then they have a class 1 sound level meter, so they can essentially run their own sound test from room to room to determine, at least, how much sound we think is coming through the wall.

From that, I can sort of predict, if we put our product on the wall, how much sound we can essentially take out. In most cases … Well, I should say in all cases, it’s somewhere between 80 and 100%. It averages out around 90% just depending on the loudness of the noise, of course, and then the frequency range. Mid-frequency, we’re the best. We obviously do a great job on the high-end and the low-end, but the higher the frequency, the better we do. The lower stuff is a little bit harder to work with, but we still do.

So, I’d say we’re blocking out 60 to 70% on the low end, and 80, 90, 100% on the high-end.

John Jantsch: Many of the listeners of my show are small business owners and marketers. I know that one of the things that I’m guessing some of them might be thinking is, are their extra challenges in essentially creating a category? I mean, you would think, okay, this is blue sky opportunity out there, but there’s also challenges because nobody’s ever bought soundproof paint before.

Jonah Lupton: Exactly. That is one of the challenges, and that’s why we’re spending a lot of money on PR and brand-awareness and educating the market, and a lot of cold email outreach. I know a lot of people want to call it spam, but at the end of the day, I mean, we really did create a product that solves a problem for the hotels and the apartment buildings. I do believe that some of them want to hear from us, and we can’t get to all of them through conventional Facebook ads and PR and SEO and all that stuff. So, sometimes, we do have to buy some lists of general managers and blast out a cold email, and we actually get some really good response rates. We get great open rates. We get good click-through rates because I think people in these markets are genuinely intrigued by what we can offer them.

Now, and then the challenge is, of course, no one’s ever heard of soundproof paint. No one’s ever used it. There’s very few searches every month for soundproof paint. So, I can’t just create a bunch of content and have a nice website and put it out there and expect people to find us because it’ll take too long. We really have to be aggressive and proactive and go find them, bring them to the website, educate them, engage with them. It is a learning process, especially as we start going into the architect and the interior designers. I mean, we can’t drop them an email and expect to see us spec’d into a project two weeks later. We really have to nurture those relationships for a while, build up their confidence before they feel they can use us on a job, and it’s not going to come back and bite them.

John Jantsch: How much skepticism do you encounter? In other words, somebody saying, “Oh, yeah. Great. No way that works.”

Jonah Lupton: I think there was definitely a lot of skepticism in the last couple years as i was developing the product before I knew or anyone knew if I could actually pull this off. Once we did a project in Connecticut this past summer, and we hired independent acoustical engineers to come on site and do all the testing before and after the treatment, as well as having employees from the hotel in there before and after, it was like … The quote that I actually … I don’t think I put it on the website, but one of the housekeepers actually said to me, “When you start selling this and you start making your millions and you buy your mansion on the beach, can I come be your housekeeper?”

I was blown away. I really was speechless because that was our first real, real-world test. I had no idea how good it was going to do, how good is perform, and the way the acoustical engineer performs the test is similar to what my sales reps do. They bring in their portable amps and speakers. They hook it up. They play white noise at 95 to 100 decibels in one room. Then they go into the next room and they take readings, and this is before we put any product on the wall. So, 95 to 100 decibels in one room was translating to about 75 decibels in the next room. 75 decibels is still very obnoxious. So, if someone was in that room trying to sleep, they would have been very, very annoyed.

Then, we put our product on the wall, three coats, 30 wet mils each, let it dry. We do all that in less than a day. Then the next day, the acoustical engineer came back, and did the same test. We had dropped the decibels from 75 down to 55. At 55 decibels, you almost can’t hear anything unless you get really, really, really close to the wall.

That’s where you do have the perceptions of a soundproofed room.

John Jantsch: What did some of your previous businesses, and you may have not thought about this, but you may have an opinion. What have some of your previous business successes and failures been able to inform you on this venture?

Jonah Lupton: I actually posted about this a couple days ago. I guess it was last week on LinkedIn. I talked about my first failure, which was a company called Social Track back in 2007, when I … I mean, this is the early days of the internet, I guess, for guys like me that are non-technical, and in 2007, I was trying to find a couple co-founders. I knew I had this idea of … I wanted to create a dashboard that aggregated all of your social media feeds into one place. So, you’re Facebook feed, your LinkedIn, your Twitter, your YouTube, all in one pretty, nice-to-read dashboard. You could see all your activity, your connections, and messages, et cetera.

I was bootstrapping it because I was working full-time in the investment business, so I was making 100 grand, 120 grand a year and paying for rent and everything else. At the end of the month, whatever I had left over, I tried to put into Social Track.  I found two co-founders literally off of Craigslist. We split up the equity one-third each. I had no idea what a vesting schedule was, so we didn’t do one of those, and quickly realized that neither one of these guys was going to be a good co-founder. They were both working full-time jobs. They were both married. They both had kids. One was getting read to move from Boston to New York, so he wouldn’t be very involved. He still owned a third of the company, and I had no way to really get it back.

I learned a lot of hard, hard lessons, where if you have a great idea and you realize it’s going to take a lot of capital to take that idea to the market and grow it, you have to go out and fundraise. I mean, as much as it sucks giving up equity and the company, that was not the kind of company that I should’ve been trying to bootstrap from the beginning.

Basically, a year after I shut the company down, Hootsuite launched, with essentially the same setup, the same idea, and they’re now a billion and a half dollar company. Not that I necessarily could have grown a Hootsuite. I mean, they’ve executed incredibly well. They have great investors, great employees and everything, but it was just a lesson that, I mean, if you don’t have the right co-founders and you’re not well capitalized, it is very, very, very difficult to scale a company in the technology space.

John Jantsch: I suspect that SoundGuard has been a bit capital intensive.

Jonah Lupton: It was. Yeah. Certainly developing the formula, all the testing. I did not appreciate how expensive all the testing would be, from lab testing to field testing, hiring acoustical engineers, doing fire testing, testing on the ingredients to make sure that we could pass all the EPA standards. We’re considered an environmentally friendly and low VOC product. We’re about 105 grams of hazardous material per liter, and the EPA says you have to be below 250. So, we are well, well below the EPA standards for eco-friendliness, which is good. I mean, that was obviously one of my goals from the beginning. It’s a water-based product.

So, coming up with a environmentally-friendly, water-based product that could block sound that didn’t infringe on any other patents out there, that could be sprayed onto a wall, could dry within two hours, that didn’t sag, that didn’t bubble … I mean, it was not easy, and it was expensive. I mean, in the last year and a half, I’ve probably spent 50 or 60,000 dollars just on legal work. Filing all the patents, having a manufacturing agreement set up and sales rep agreement and warrantees and all that stuff. Probably 50, 60,000 in legal work, 50, 60,000 on testing, 50, 60,000 on product development, maybe more than that, probably more than a 100. It has been expensive. I bootstrapped it with just my personal capital and business loans, more business loans than personal capital. My last couple starters basically wiped out my personal capital.

I went to a couple friends that are not even high net worth, but they just believed in what I was doing and they were willing to take a chance on this before we even had the product. I just did the classic Kevin O’Leary from Shark Tank, like, “Hey, give me $50,000. If this thing actually works and we start producing revenue, I’ll pay you back double your money.” Because a banker’s not going to give me any money. That was my only option. Then once we had the product, we did the test in Connecticut, we knew this stuff actually worked, I went back to them and I said, “Give me another $50,000, but now I’ll pay you 75% return on your money.” Then the last chunk of $50,000 was, “I’ll pay you 50% return on your money.”

Because as we took risk out of the company, obviously I was not willing to pay him the same terms that I was up front.

John Jantsch: What do you ultimately see your team looking like?

Jonah Lupton: I’m in the process of hiring right now. I would say of all the things that we are trying to tackle, hiring is the one that scares me the most. From running my own podcast for a couple years and doing 200 interviews, almost across the board, when I asked the founder, “What’s been the most critical aspect to your success in growth?” And it’s always the people. First, it’s people. Second is focus. So, those are the two things that I’m really, really honing in on is one, don’t get distracted by other meaningless ventures and projects that are going to come my way and two, I have to get the right people in place. I’ve never had to hire at scale before, and that’s what really scares me.

So, I don’t know if I should be trying to do it all myself or if I should try to bring in a part-time recruiter. There’s a couple companies out there that are trying to invest in us or form strategic partnerships. If I did something like that, one of the reasons would be so I could plug in to their HR staff and have their HR team help me hire the right people. We have 65 sales reps across the country, commission only guys, great people, but it’s very hard to get production from them unless you’re right in their face all the time. You’ve got to stay top of mind. I can’t manage 65 sales reps and then we’re probably bringing on another 50 distributors. That’s too many people and relationships for me to manage by myself. I need to hire at least a couple sales manager. I need to hire an operations manager, at least one or two, to help me go around the country and act as a project manager once things are up and running.

Right now, I’m outsourcing everything else. So, bookkeeping’s outsourced, obviously the legal work. I’m currently working with a digital marketing agency. Although, I’m getting ready to hire someone a little bit bigger and better. I’m quarter-backing a lot of things. I’m trying not … I can’t micromanage every little aspect of the company, so I really need to get the right people in place and then act as a manager of managers.

John Jantsch: Do you have, and again, maybe premature to be asking this question, but do you have an end-game in mind, or do you just want to see where this can go?

Jonah Lupton: Yeah. I mean, a little bit of both. I mean, I’ve certainly thought about it. I mean, I’ve put together spreadsheets of projects and everything else that may or may not come to fruition. Right now, with B2B market, like I said, so the hotels, the apartments, et cetera. In five months, we go B2C, so the homeowners, the small business owners, et cetera. I think this year, we can do at least 15 million in revenue, two-thirds of that coming B2B, one-third of that B2C. I think 15 is actually a little bit conservative, and we bring on the right distributors. Right now, I have a couple $250 million companies from Canada, Europe, and Australia asking to be the exclusive distributors in those areas. There’s so many good things that can happen over the next few months that could take that $15 million number up to 20 or 30 million.

I’ll say right now, I mean, I’ve already declined offers for $10 million for the company. It took me all of three seconds to say, “No thanks,” but each of those companies that wants to buy us would also be a great partner for us. Whether they make a strategic investment or whether we put together some sort of a joint venture partnership … I mean, all that stuff’s on the table. I’ll be in Boston all week meeting with a couple companies to discuss those things. VC firms are starting to call me, but right now, I’m just not ready to go down that VC channel. I don’t think it’s every going to make sense for us. I’d rather focus on strategic partnerships and strategic investments from big, big paint companies.

One thing to mention. We are not the finish coat on the wall. We’re a base coat or primer. So, that customer still needs to buy the blue paint, the purple paint, whatever’s going on the wall. Sherwin-Williams and Benjamin Moore and Valspar are really not our competitors because they don’t have a product in this space, and the customer still needs to go buy the product from them. I mean, it’s very easy to see the path of acquisition some day from one of them. If we’re able to prove that there’s a valid market for product like this and we can grow our revenues to 20, 30, 40, 50 million dollars over the next couple years, then there’s no reason to think that they wouldn’t want to buy us for four or five times that and plug it into their ecosystem and put it in their stores and turn it into a billion dollar product.

John Jantsch: So, Jonah, where can people find out more about SoundGuard and your journey with SoundGuard, if they want to check in?

Jonah Lupton: If anybody wants to email me, I’m always happy to talk to anybody or go back and forth. My email is Jonah, J-O-N-A-H, @SoundGuard.IO. The website is SoundGuard.IO. Obviously, we’re on Facebook and LinkedIn and Twitter and Instagram, too, under different handles, but certainly, come to the website, sign up for the newsletter. Right now, over the next six weeks, if you sign up for the newsletter, you’ll be entering into a drawing for $3,000 of free soundproof paint. It doesn’t cost you anything. Just have to sign up for the newsletter and put up with our content.

John Jantsch: Thanks, Jonah, for joining us today, and I’m going to continue to follow your journey. I always find it really intriguing when people have an idea and an innovation and they bring it to the world. Hopefully, we’ll see that thing take off for you.

Jonah Lupton: Awesome. Thanks, John. I appreciate your time today. Thanks for having me.

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