Monthly Archives: October 2019

Brainfluence Podcast Interview – The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur

Brainfluence Podcast Interview – The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

John Jantsch appears on Roger Dooley’s Brainfluence podcast to discuss his latest book, The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur.

This book is a departure from Jantsch’s five previous works; while those books were focused on marketing strategy and tactics, this book is a series of 366 daily meditations aimed at helping entrepreneurs to find their path and stay true to themselves.

In this episode of Brainfluence, Jantsch shares with Dooley about the book, why it’s important to push through early struggles in entrepreneurship, and how to remain unhindered by the past in order to reach a brighter future.

Check it out – John Jantsch interviewed by Roger Dooley on the Brainfluence Podcast

Tracking Wonder Podcast – The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur

Tracking Wonder Podcast – The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

John Jantsch appears on the Tracking Wonder podcast to discuss his latest book, The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur.

Having spent more than 30 years in business for himself, Jantsch has learned a thing or two about the entrepreneurial life. While his previous books have been more marketing-focused and have provided tips and guidance on how to manage small business marketing, this book is about feeding the entrepreneurial spirit.

Staying true to yourself, believing in your vision, and cultivating a self-reliant worldview are all critical aspects of being an entrepreneur, but it’s easier said than done. This book is designed to offer daily meditations for entrepreneurs, to guide them on their journey as they grow a business and live their life.

Check it out – Mastering the Entrepreneurial Self episode on the Tracking Wonder Podcast, featuring John Jantsch

Getting the Meeting with Contact Marketing

Getting the Meeting with Contact Marketing written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with Stu Heinecke
Podcast Transcript

Stu Heinecke headshot

Today on the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I visit with marketer, cartoonist, and author, Stu Heinecke.

He is a cartoonist for the Wall Street Journal and a founder of, a collective of well-respected cartoonists who donate their work to benefit charities.

On the marketing side, Heinecke has written several books centered around the idea of contact marketing. His first, called How to Get a Meeting with Anyone, and his latest, Get the Meeting! led the American Marketing Association to name him “the father of contact marketing.” He also offers marketing training and consulting services to businesses around the world.

On this episode, Heinecke shares more about contact marketing: what it is, why it works, and what you can do to create your own contact marketing strategy.

Questions I ask Stu Heinecki:

  • What is contact marketing?
  • Can a great contact marketing campaign generate a response rate above 100 percent?
  • What is a pocket campaign?

What you’ll learn if you give a listen:

  • What tactics are at the core of any contact marketing approach.
  • What role remarketing can play in a contact marketing campaign.
  • See several real-life contact marketing examples to hopefully inspire you to create your own approach.

Key takeaways from the episode and more about Stu Heinecki:

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

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Transcript of Getting the Meeting with Contact Marketing

Transcript of Getting the Meeting with Contact Marketing written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Back to Podcast


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John Jantsch: Hello, and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing podcast. This is John Jantsch, and my guest today is Stu Heinecke. He’s a marketer, a Wall Street Journal cartoonist, a bestselling author, and the founder of But he’s also the author of a book we’re going to talk about today called Get the Meeting: An Illustrative Content … Nope, contact. And I’m glad I messed that up, because it gives me a chance to highlight the difference … Contact Marketing Playbook. So Stu, thanks for joining me.

Stu Heinecke: Hey, thank you so much. Thanks for flubbing that up because that’s exactly what we need to do.

John Jantsch: Before we get into the book itself, are you still doing the cart … How do you say that? Cartooning? Is that how you’d say that?

Stu Heinecke: Yeah. I’m deeply, deeply involved in cartooning, not only as a cartoonist, I mean, I’m still submitting to the Wall Street Journal, but also I and a group of New Yorker and Wall Street Journal … I should put it the other way around. Wall Street Journal and New Yorker cartoonists have founded this new thing called, so we’re using our cartoon art to help charities raise funds.

John Jantsch: So you take something that was maybe published and sell the original in a blown up fashion or something like that?

Stu Heinecke: Well, not yet.

John Jantsch: But that’s the plan?

Stu Heinecke: It’s sort of the … Yeah, it’s sort of that … We’re taking cartoons that they might’ve been published or they might not have been. We’re really choosing them based on, well, who would buy this cartoon? Where would they put it into their home? Because now we’re talking about framed, or at least, hanging art. So what cartoons would make sense in what rooms? Cartoons about cooking in the kitchen, of course, and maybe maybe a cartoon about a dinner party going off the rails would be great in the dining room, that kind of stuff. So that’s what it is. They’re all prints at this point, hand-signed prints, but not originals.

John Jantsch: Okay. But also you’ve done a lot of business ones. I could see a lot of office art coming out of some of your ones that have appeared in the Journal.

Stu Heinecke: Yeah, absolutely.

John Jantsch: And giving back a little bit, helping some charitable organizations. So Get the Meeting is really a companion, so we probably should start there, to How to Get a Meeting with Anyone. And those of you that are long time listeners will remember that Stu was on when that book came out, so maybe go back and re-listen to that, but we’ll talk a little bit about it today. So I guess we first should start with the description or definition of contact marketing. What is it?

Stu Heinecke: Well, yeah. I’m glad you asked, and glad you mixed it up a little bit with content marketing in the beginning because it’s not content marketing and it’s a good thing to emphasize that. But contact marketing is a, it’s a fusion of marketing and selling. That’s important because so often in bigger companies, I know your audience is actually smaller companies, but still it seems like those two functions within companies, maybe even within the people’s minds, too, are just highly siloed. And so one doesn’t talk to the other, one doesn’t really interact with the other very well. There’s a lot of friction between marketing and sales. But here, it’s a combination of marketing and selling using micro-focused campaigns to help a sales rep break through to someone of great importance, so really these are top accounts, not prospects.

John Jantsch: So maybe kind of illustrate that. No pun intended because your illustrative book, but kind of illustrate what one, like here’s a couple typical steps in a contact marketing plan.

Stu Heinecke: Well, probably the easiest one to talk about is what I do, what my campaigns look like, but there are many, many others, lots of ways to do this. But as you mentioned, I’m one of the Wall Street Journal cartoonists. So I use my cartoons to break through. Typically what that looks like is I produce something I call a big board. It’s an 18 by 24 inch quarter inch thick foam core board. Actually, it’s Gator Board. It’s just like indoor signage material.

Stu Heinecke: And on one side there’s a cartoon about the recipient, what that cartoon says, and what the humor is, is really, really, really critical to all this as you might imagine. But if it’s on target, then it’s something that they want to keep in their offices, really, the rest of their careers. So there’s that cartoon on one side about the recipient and on the other is all the branding and messaging from the sender to the recipient explaining who they are, what value they want to bring to them and why they want to meet, and then what the next steps are to meet or connect in some way.

Stu Heinecke: And that gets sent in a really cool packet, some corrugated packaging that has cartoon art printed all over it. It’s something that you can’t ignore. When it comes in and when it arrives from FedEx, it’s something you just can’t ignore. It looks like something’s coming in from maybe a cartoon art gallery, perhaps something like that. But the thing that’s really fun about this is that is that usually I’m reaching out to people who have executive assistants, dreaded executive assistant.

Stu Heinecke: But actually, I love assistants. I’m a fan of executive assistants. They’re generally some of the smartest, sharpest people in the organizations. If you think about the executive assistant to the CEO of a company, that person is actually just like any other member of the C suite because she or he reports to the CEO just like the CMO does and the CFO and so on. They’re just incredibly sharp people. So they want to know when you call in that do have something relevant and of importance for their executive to pay attention to. So they’re really a lot like talent scouts.

Stu Heinecke: And so what I have been advocating, and that comes from a lot of gathering of information from what a lot of people have done to break through, is that you don’t want to circumvent these people. You want to include them in your campaign. So the way that I do that in the cartoon campaign is that I … or say any of the reps from any of my clients will call up and they’ll say, “Hi, my name is so-and-so.” I’ll just use my name now, so, “Hi, I’m Stu Heinecke. I’m one of the Wall Street Journal cartoonists, and I have a print of one of my cartoons, and it’s about your boss, that I’m sending.”

Stu Heinecke: Usually, by that time they’re saying, “Wait, what? Really?” And the rest of it is, “Look, I want it to be a surprise to your boss, but not to you. Would you mind if I send you an email with the details? And that way you’ll have my contact information.” Usually, the response is, “Yeah, of course. Sure. Here’s my email address.” So an email goes out and it’s a, “Thank you so much for your help, and here’s what I was saying. As soon as I have FedEx tracking information, I’ll get that to you.” So then, when the tracking information is available, you send that.

Stu Heinecke: In the meantime, you send a card. We usually send a card with a personalized cartoon for the executive assistant as well, so that they can keep it on their desk if they want to, or that’s generally what happens. They get it, they’re thrilled with it. And, “Oh my gosh, thank you for my cartoon too.” So there are four touch points before the big board even arrives. By the time it arrives, and certainly by the time the sender calls for the target executive, a lot of things have warmed up. That’s a pretty good example of what one version of a contact marketing campaign might look like. But certainly that’s not to say that you have to be a cartoonist to do this.

John Jantsch: Yeah, so there were elements of that that were probably universal in the way that you handled that, but what would be some other ideas that … I mean, obviously the cartoon works for you. You can execute on that. That really works. What are some other ideas you’ve seen that would substitute for the cartoon that people have been effective using that same kind of approach?

Stu Heinecke: Well, I think the thing that we want to do always is we want to be getting in touch with something that provides instant value. And then also, and this is the thing that I think we really need to do, is that it ought to be done so well that the person on the other end of this, they’re saying, “Oh my God, I love the way this person thinks.” So you can see that in the cartoon. That happens, but then consider, let’s say, I think you probably know Dan Waldschmidt?

John Jantsch: Yes. Yeah.

Stu Heinecke: Yeah. So Dan is, as you and I know, but he’s the author of Edgy Conversations, both the blog and the book, and he’s a top blogger in the sales space. But what he does for a living is he’s a turnaround specialist, and he has this really interesting way of getting in touch with the CEOs of companies that are in trouble. What he does then is he starts the day by reading the business news, looking for stories of missing earnings estimates. And when he finds one, he has this beautiful sword made up. And, John, that sword is like, it’s a full size sword. It’s made by the prop maker who made the swords for all of the movie Gladiator, if you remember that. They’re really beautiful and ultra realistic. They’re not sharpened, by the way. That’s a good thing.

Stu Heinecke: And the blade is engraved with the CEO’s name, and then one of Dan’s favorite inscriptions, “If you’re not all in, you’re not in at all.” And so that gets put in this wooden box, beautiful wooden box, with a handwritten note that says, “Hey, dear so and so, business is war and I noticed you lost a battle recently. I just want to let you know, if you ever need a few extra hands in battle, we’ve got your back.” And he signs it, and I don’t know if he even puts a business card in there. It’s not done on letterhead, and it’s all handwritten.

Stu Heinecke: Dan reports that he gets 100% percent response rate to this campaign. That’s amazing. And we’re both marketers so we know that … I used to hear all the time at where I started out in direct mail and direct marketing that if you get a 1% response rate, you’re doing really well. That’s kind of a typical response rate. And of course, there’s no such number, but that’s a 1% response rate. Most click-through rates are fractions of a percent. So these numbers are miraculous, I think, actually.

John Jantsch: Well, I think something that we need to point out is probably the key to this is you said it was something of value, it was hard to ignore, it was personalized. It clearly wasn’t something that somebody sat around and said, “Oh yeah, a thousand people got this today.” I think that for a lot of us, six, seven, eight, more appointments a month would make life beautiful. We don’t necessarily need thousands, right?

Stu Heinecke: That’s right. And if you get in with the right people, then they … Think about everything that’s changed in our lives, and particularly in our business lives. It’s changed because we made contact with someone who changed everything. So six or seven of those a year could do a lot for your business.

John Jantsch: Well, and even obviously, you can take it to the million dollar appointment kind of thing. But if you are a small business owner, I’m a marketing consultant, I train a lot of marketing consultants. Really, six or eight $50,000 clients a year is, for an independent marketing consultant, is a nice piece of business. Because I’m thinking people out there might be going, “Oh, well, that’s a lot of work, and look at the investment in that.” But again, 100% response means you send six of these out and you’re going to get six meetings.

Stu Heinecke: Yeah, no. Yeah, that’s kind of an interesting point because Dan gets 100% response rate. It gets 100% to his piece. But that’s not … How do I put it? It’s not typical. However, in the new book I also explored a completely new model. The current model or, I hesitate to call it the old model, but we’ll call it that for now. The old model is you send something that just knocks their socks off or you do something. Podcasts are a great contact device. Getting interviews with the people you’d like to do business with is a great way to connect with them.

John Jantsch: I’ve said that for years. I tell people, “You ought to be calling your prospects because they’ll return your call if you’re calling to interview them.”

Stu Heinecke: Yeah, and it’s a bonding process when you do the interview and so on. It’s a great thing to do.

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Stu Heinecke: So the thing is, though, as long as you … Well, I guess I should say that that’s very effective, and as I just mentioned, Dan’s response rate is already 100%. For some of my clients, some of my actually Fortune 1000 clients, gets them way up into let’s say the 70% response range and 50% meeting range. That’s huge. That’s really huge. But the thing that bothered me was, if we’re using account based marketing, let’s say if we’ve identified the companies that we want to connect with and do business with, and particularly at the highest level, I always think in terms of the highest level anyway.

Stu Heinecke: But if we get a 70% response rate to a campaign, it’s a miraculous number. But it started to bother me that we were also leaving 30% on the table and what could we do about them? And there’s really no reason we shouldn’t be able to connect with them. So the new model also includes a new digital persistence campaign using remarketing, really, to supplement what should be a natural cadence of persistence anyway. But when you have that going on in the background …

Stu Heinecke: If I wanted to reach out to you, John, and we know that Terminus does this and RollWorks does this, but if I wanted to reach out to you and really get your attention, what would be ideal is to start running ads for my books, probably. So get the meeting and then a headline, one meeting can change everything, and then a link to go buy it at Amazon. If I started running those ads to you on the Google ad network, which means really that it would just follow you around no matter where you went, you’d start to get the sense that, “Wow, who wrote this book?” At first you’d ignore it maybe, and then it starts to grow on you.

Stu Heinecke: And by the time two weeks have gone by, that frequency and exposure has gotten you saying, “Man, this must be a big deal because it looks like Amazon’s actually advertising it, but this must be a big deal.” And then all of a sudden, boom, I call you. That effect can continue on from pre-contact through contact through the entire sales cycle so that perhaps we do more than just get a 100% response rate to the contact campaign. We actually start bringing up the sales hit rate as well. But I think now, based on this new contact marketing model, that we should be resetting the baseline for response at a really kind of insane level, at 100%.

John Jantsch:: Well, another key we haven’t really talked about is by thinking of small numbers, smaller numbers, we’re also probably doing a better job targeting, right? A lot of times direct mail campaigns don’t work or Facebook ad campaigns don’t work that well because 90% of the people shouldn’t even be in the campaign.

Stu Heinecke: Yeah. A lot of them aren’t there. Yeah. For many reasons, you’re just going to have a really lossy sort of …

John Jantsch:: Yeah. It’s so cheap, so I’ll throw them in there. But I think when you’re going to send somebody a sword, they probably better be pretty targeted.

Stu Heinecke: Yeah, well, that costs Dan $1,000 every time he puts one of those out, which is also kind of … Yeah. So yeah, it ought to be right on target. But of course his process is to use a trigger event, the missed earnings report, so they are really well targeted and obviously they’re well targeted because he’s getting not that kind of a response rate.

John Jantsch:: Yeah, I’ll bet in his case, and of course this would just be anecdotal, but I bet you people talk about it too, which maybe increases and introduces him to some people that maybe he didn’t even target.

Stu Heinecke: That’s a great point. Actually the highest response rate I’ve seen now to a contact marketing campaign is now 300%. And you might say, “Well, wait a minute. 300%?” But it’s exactly what you just described. They’re so clever, they’re so interesting and compelling, that they get shown off to other people and it’s, “Oh, can I get that guy’s number?” So you send one piece out, it gets shown around, and you get three responses back.

John Jantsch:: In Get the Meeting, you also … You’ve shared a couple examples, but you have, I think you told me something like 60 case studies with pictures and, really, that’s the illustrative aspect of this that kind of shows somebody, walks people through exactly how to do it, don’t you?

Stu Heinecke: I do. In the first book, in How to Get a Meeting with Anyone, I identified 20 categories of contact marketing campaign types. The one I just described with Dan is he’s using a visual metaphor, so they’re visual metaphors and gifts and all sorts of really interesting uses of media exposure. We just talked about podcasts, for example, and video, [inaudible] and so on. There’s all kinds of ways to do this.

Stu Heinecke: As soon as I finished that book, I started hearing from people saying, “Well, you should have interviewed me because, look, this is the way I do it.” [inaudible] There’s a whole lot more to cover. One of the things that I had heard from people who read How to Get a Meeting with Anyone was, “I loved the book, but I really wished that I could have seen what these campaigns looked like.” So this time I wanted to make sure that I honored that. So there are a lot of photographs of these campaigns in there and, yeah, I think it fills it out really nicely that way.

Speaker 1: You also introduce a new form of contact marketing that you’re calling a pocket campaign. Do you want to explain that one?

Stu Heinecke: Sure, yeah. Well, some of the times, because this is about connecting with the people who, in my mind, it’s about connecting with the people who can change the scale of your business or your career. You want to be ready, and sometimes we meet these people in person and you want to be ready with a campaign there too. So the interesting thing for me was that there’s something about business cards that’s not working and it’s bothered me for a long time that we go through these sort of hoops of …

Stu Heinecke: Well, sometimes, go through hoops of producing cards that are pretty expensive, and they’re pretty fancy in the way that they’re produced. It could be embossed or or foil stamped or, maybe it’s laser engraved on on metal or carbon fiber or wood or something like that. They can get pretty exotic, but they still do the same thing, which is they try to make us look important. Of course, here’s my contact details, but it’s all meant to impress the person receiving it, and that’s not happening. I don’t think anyone’s impressed anymore. Usually those cards just get thrown away or put in a box or something.

Stu Heinecke: And I did a really quick informal … I couldn’t even call it a study or a questionnaire, but I just asked on LinkedIn for people to respond, “Who’s using business cards? Who’s not? If you’re not using business cards, what are you using instead? And if you are using business cards, what does it look like? Show us. What makes it special?” And so what I found was about half of the people aren’t using business cards. They’re saying, “Well, what I do is if I’m at a networking event or something like that, we’ll just swap phones and type our details into each other’s address book or we’ll just agree to … Or not agree to. We’ll just connect on LinkedIn right there.” And I think all of those are missed opportunities.

Stu Heinecke: So I started by just looking at what … I know that I’ve gotten a handful of cards in my career that I’ve gotten them, and you’ve gotten them too, we’ve all gotten them. You look at it and go, “Oh my God, wow. I didn’t even know a card could be like that. That’s really cool.” You save it and it doesn’t get the same treatment. And what I realized is that, by and large, what those cards are is they’re engagement devices, which is totally different from what business cards are. Business cards are showing off. It’s plumage. I don’t know, it’s fluff. But these are invitations to play or to use it in some way.

Stu Heinecke: So a couple of examples. One of the cards was for the owner of a bike repair shop. The card is stamped out of metal and it’s, it’s a multi tool, so [inaudible 00:22:43]. It’s a wrench, different sizes of nuts that can be put in there, and it also will tighten spokes and so on.

John Jantsch: Probably open a beer too, I imagine.

Stu Heinecke: I’m pretty sure it had a bottle opener. Yeah. Because what are you going to do? And it’s wallet size, well, I mean, actually, it’s credit card size. You can put it in your wallet. Now that card gets carried everywhere. And it’s not adorned with a special … Obviously, there’s no foil stamping or anything like that. It’s just his name. It’s just stamped into the thing. It doesn’t have to be fancy. I mean, his name and his contact details.

Stu Heinecke: There was one other one that that really, really, really stood out to me. This was a card that was printed on a piece of sheet rubber and they stretched it on a jig, though, before they printed it. So then they printed it with the person’s name and what they do and their phone number and then when the ink cures and dries, they take it off the jig. Now it returns to its original shape and all those details are squeezed together, kind of like a balloon that’s been deflated.

Stu Heinecke: So, naturally, when he hands that out, people will stretch it. They just grab it at both ends and stretch it. And he would tell me that if he’d give it out at a, let’s say he’s at a pub somewhere and he’s just talking, there’s a conversation and, “What do you do?” “What do you do?” “Well, here’s my card.” “Here’s mine.” Well, when he whips out this floppy little thing, it’s like an ambush, really. And the person takes it, they stretch it, and the funny thing is when they do that, it reveals it’s Paul Nielsen’s card. He’s a fitness trainer. And guess what? He has you exercising. So they take that to the office, they show it around. He’s the one who gets more than 300% response. Actually, he gets three or four new clients every time he hands one of those out.

Stu Heinecke: So I wanted to combine that with and integrate it with the digital persistence track of the new model. So what happens is each of these involvement devices needs to have an offer that leads to a page where we can then pixel the person who’s received it. So if you think about the example of the multi-tool card, if that card was, let’s say it had a lot of cutouts but they weren’t labeled, but what it was labeled with was was the fellow’s name and contact details and then also a URL to go view a video to see how it works, just to see how to use it.

Stu Heinecke: Well, then you’ll follow up, you’ll go, and I’m sure he pointed that out, “Hey, go to this site and just take a look. There’s a little video there. It’ll show you how it works.” Well, the recipient will go to that site and view the video, and then a pixel has been set, a tracking pixel, and from that point on then that person starts seeing the digital persistence campaign and draws them in even further. So the combination of these things, we’ve already seen it.

Stu Heinecke: Some of my consulting clients are, or really mastermind clients, are using big … I’m sorry, not big boards, but pocket campaigns right now, and they’re getting sales directly from these devices, which is exactly what I want. So that instead of handing out something that’s inert that’s probably going to get thrown away or tossed to the side into a box, they’re actually handing out a campaign that still launches from their pocket.

Stu Heinecke: But it plies the recipients with persistence and with probably just continued value and certainly continued reminders of who they met, who this was, and even just the involvement device, engagement devices handed out. It’s resulting in sales, which means it’s resulting in ROI and response rates. You can actually maybe test them, one out of one pocket, the other one out of the other or something.

John Jantsch: I’m visiting with Stu Heinecke. He is the author of Get the Meeting. Stu, tell folks where they can find out more about you and your work.

Stu Heinecke: Sure. Well, I guess probably the easiest way to find me is either on LinkedIn, Stu Heinecke, S-T-U H-E-I-N-E-C-K-E. You can come to my other site, same thing,, and get a free preview of Get the Meeting, actually. And those are probably the two best ways to get in touch.

John Jantsch: Well, Stu, thanks for joining us and another great book. Looking forward to diving into it deeper myself, and hopefully we’ll see you someday soon out there on the road.

Stu Heinecke: John, what a pleasure to join you. Thanks so much for having me on.

Beyond IMTS Interview – The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur

Beyond IMTS Interview – The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Steve Miller chats with author and marketing expert John Jantsch about his latest book, The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur. The book is structured as 366 daily meditations; centered around a reading from a transcendentalist author, each entry is designed to help guide entrepreneurs through the highs and lows of the entrepreneurial life.

Check it out – Steve Miller Interviews John Jantsch for Beyond IMTS

Bringing Marketing and Product Development Together

Bringing Marketing and Product Development Together written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with Jill Soley
Podcast Transcript

Jill Soley headshotOn this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I visit with author and product and marketing executive Jill Soley.

Soley has been developing, launching, and nurturing products for nearly 20 years; she’s currently the Chief Product Officer at the agile project management software firm Obo.

Over the years, she’s learned a lot about how critical it is to bring together product management and marketing efforts. She’s brought together all of her learnings into a book, Beyond Product: How Exceptional Founders Embrace Marketing to Create and Capture Value for Their Business.

Soley hopes to help entrepreneurs who don’t have a strong marketing background find success for their products and their businesses as a whole. She shares some of her insights from the book on this episode.

Questions I ask Jill Soley:

  • What’s the difference between marketing for non-marketers and regular old marketing?
  • How does the go-to-market approach vary between  services versus products?
  • What are the five things a company must do once they’ve completed the early research stage?

What you’ll learn if you give a listen:

  • Why it’s important to get market validation and to do product testing with real potential customers (not just your friends!).
  • Why it’s important to start customer segmentation early on in your process.
  • Why companies need to start by defining their ideal customer.

Key takeaways from the episode and more about Jill Soley:

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

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Transcript of Bringing Marketing and Product Development Together

Transcript of Bringing Marketing and Product Development Together written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

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John Jantsch: This episode of The Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by Klaviyo. Klaviyo is a platform that helps growth-focused eCommerce brands drive more sales with super-targeted, highly relevant email, Facebook and Instagram marketing.

John Jantsch: Hello, and welcome to another episode of The Duct Tape Marketing podcast. This is John Jantsch. My guest today is Jill Soley. She is a Silicon Valley based strategic product and marketing executive, happens to be the Chief Product Officer at a project management tool called Obo. And, today we’re going to talk about a book that she’s a co-author on called Beyond Product: How Exceptional Founders Embrace Marketing to Create and Capture Value for Their Business. So Jill, thanks for joining me.

Jill Soley: Thank you for having me. Glad to be here.

John Jantsch: So as as we were deciding on the topic for today’s show, you suggested marketing for non marketers. And, I guess it just makes me as a marketer want to know what’s the difference between non-marketing marketers, or marketing for non marketers and just, I don’t know, marketing?

Jill Soley: Specifically, I’m interested and I wrote a book about marketing. And, its audience is really startup founders, small business leaders, anyone launching new products and new businesses, who doesn’t come from a deep marketing background. And, that’s why I suggested the topic, that what I’ve seen is that most founders don’t come from a marketing background, and it’s, I think, obviously super important to the success of their business to understand.

Jill Soley: So, the idea behind the book is that, particularly here in Silicon Valley, there are lots of technical founders, who they have an idea for a company, they start a company, and they have deep expertise in the domain. They have deep expertise in the technology. They’re focused on building product. Maybe they’re sales people. But, most of them aren’t marketing people.

Jill Soley: And, what happens as a result is there’s … Well, there are a bunch of different sort of scenarios. But, many of them, and most of them, lead to companies that aren’t that successful, because there’s often this belief that if you build it, they will come, right? I’ve got the best product, so of course it’s going to be successful. Or they make mistakes that perhaps wouldn’t happen, and they have to do with hiring or mismatched expectations, et cetera, that lead to major points of failure.

John Jantsch: Do you statistics on startups? I mean, I know a lot of people talk about … When I started working primarily with small business, it was like 50% of all small businesses failed in the first three years. I don’t know if that’s statistics accurate or not. But, particularly when it comes to kind of the work you’ve seen with product startup folks, is there kind of a number that people use that … You talked about it not being as successful. But, I mean, is there a number for down outright failure?

Jill Soley: I’ve seen a few different studies that basically sort of are all kind of centered somewhere around this 80% number. I’ve seen some that go as high as saying 95% of startups fail, and some that are a little lower, closer to 70%. But, the upshot is more than half of … It’s not just startups. But, it’s new products in general. So that’s new products in large businesses fail.

John Jantsch: Yeah. Let’s talk about products and product marketers. I mean, you talked about in some cases that this was a scientist or an engineer or something that had a good idea, thought the world needed it, brought it to the market. Is that really much different than say the person that learned how to do accounting, that started in an accounting firm? And, do you see differences between kind of that service and that product in terms of really even what the go to market is?

Jill Soley: Well, differences in terms of the challenges that they face, or difference in terms of the go to market that they need, approaches that they-

John Jantsch: Yeah. I mean, probably the challenges are somewhat similar. But, in terms of the kind of the mentality of how they’re going to go out there and get clients and market the business.

Jill Soley: At the core, I think it’s pretty consistent, right? At the core, the approach is really figure out who your customer is. Figure out what their pain points are. Figure out what their needs are. Speak to those, right? Make sure you’re solving a problem for them. I mean, the fundamentals of marketing are actually pretty consistent. It’s depending on who that customer is, the approach is going to be wildly different. Are you selling to teenagers who live on their phones? Are you selling to moms or elderly people or you name it? These other demographics who may spend time, business people who are at conferences or whatever, right? Where and how you market may be different as a result, but the fundamentals are very much the same.

John Jantsch: Would you say also, I guess, another dynamic that’s at play here when we’re talking about product companies is that a lot of times … I’ll go back to my example of the accounting firm. I mean, there’s already a market established for I got to get my taxes done. I have to have X, Y, Z done. Maybe now I’m just looking for somebody to fill that need for me. Whereas occasionally, or maybe the majority of the time, somebody who’s creating a product that maybe fills a need for something that didn’t exist before, that they actually have to maybe even educate people as to what problem this solves. I mean, would you say that that’s sort of an inherent challenge with a product company?

Jill Soley: I would say those are … But, both of those companies have big, major challenges. But, they’re very different challenges. And, I’ve done both, right? I ran marketing for a company that sold customer support software, right? Very crowded market. And, the challenge is how do you rise above the fray? How do you show that you’re different and get people to pay attention to you versus I’ve done category creation where nobody is looking specifically for that product that you’re selling, and you have to educate them on what it is, and why they needed, and how you could help them and support them. But, I mean, both are inherently hard. They’re just hard in different ways.

John Jantsch: Because you have the word beyond product in the topic, I’m guessing that a big piece of your work and your education is to teach people that it’s not enough to just have a good product. So, how do you have to go beyond that? Or how do you begin to move beyond the fact that maybe you do have a good idea or a good product, I should say?

Jill Soley: Yeah. And, that’s really one of the common problems that I saw was that first stage of a startup, right? Is very much founders get very focused in on the product, building out that product and get the blinders on to the other things that they need to do, right? There’s a lot of stuff that you need to do, that you should be doing early on, and you could be getting benefit from sort of the work you’re doing early on, hopefully with discovery and testing with customers and stuff, that isn’t happening because they’re so focused on product. But, what happens is then all of a sudden that they deem that they have a product that’s ready to go to market, and they haven’t done all the other stuff that they need to do. And so, that launch doesn’t do so well, et cetera.

John Jantsch: Yeah. How important do you think it is to actually develop a product with an ideal customer in mind, or maybe even with feedback from an ideal customer to … So, instead of you’re just doing something in a laboratory, you’re actually doing something that somebody validates while you’re doing it.

Jill Soley: Oh! I believe it’s absolutely essential.

John Jantsch: I mean, is that a step that you see quite often gets completely skipped?

Jill Soley: Yes. I am surprised how often it gets skipped actually. Or there’s not sort of true validation. It’s, “Let me test this with friendly people, right? My buddies, et cetera, who are of course going to support me,” or who the product doesn’t have the … The founders aren’t truly focused on a segment, and they’re sort of trying to meet the needs of too large a segment. And so, they can’t really meet anybody’s needs super well, right? Because you only have so much bandwidth, right? There are bunch of challenges in there if you’re not really sort of focused on an ideal customer.

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John Jantsch: A lot of, I mean, you see it in the media occasionally. Somebody has an idea, creates a product, it’s a huge hit and they cash out, and exit do. And then obviously, there are people that that build a product, and then they decide they want to grow the category, and maybe they want to add more products, and maybe they want to have impact in a different way. Is there a completely different path to how you would develop those two companies? If I had the goal of, “I want to get in. Cash out on this thing as fast as possible.” As opposed to, “I want to mature this product or this company.” I mean, are are you going to go about building those companies in different ways?

Jill Soley: Potentially. If you’re really trying to get a quick win, and you’re going to cash out, and you aren’t really trying to solve a problem, sort of really solve a problem and be there long term to kind of build it out and support it and so forth, then I guess maybe you cut corners and stuff such that you make it look good and seem good up front, but it doesn’t really scale, et cetera, ongoing. Maybe you can hear my voice the skepticism around that strategy. And, maybe that’s my own personal bias around … I’m pretty mission-driven, right? I mean, this book is mission driven. I’m trying to solve a problem that I’m seeing, right? All this waste products that are failing for the wrong reasons, right? I mean, you don’t make money on a book, right?

Jill Soley: I didn’t write the book to make money. I wrote Beyond Product because I’m trying to actually help people, offer some, some painful lessons learned, right? That I’ve learned, and that other people have learned along the way, to people who I think can benefit from it. So, I think if you’re really trying to go and build something that actually makes an impact, then you go out and really figure out what the problem is, right? What’s a real problem in the market? And then, work towards really solving it, right? Which isn’t going to be an overnight thing probably.

John Jantsch: If somebody came to you, and they really had what seemed like a pretty good idea, they’d done some research, they’d done some discovery, what would be kind of your five things that you need to make sure you do?

Jill Soley: If they’re at the really early stage, certainly, I would look into the kind of research they’d done, and try and just really understand it, and make sure that they had kind of dug in deeply, and they weren’t sort of suffering from confirmation bias, if you will, right? Which is common. The early research is either with people I know or I’m listening for things that confirm my beliefs instead of that refute it.

Jill Soley: And so, once I’ve kind of dug into that, and have some level … Either have a level of confidence or kind of send them back to do some additional research. And then, sort of as they get to that next stage, where they’re trying to sort of really define, “Well, what is that solution now, right?” I’d try and get them to segment among those early customers who they talk to, right? Who are you really solving for? Get a really clear picture. Maybe try and find some of those people who will be early beta testers.

Jill Soley: And then, figure out kind of what are some of the smallest … What’s that smallest thing that they could provide that might solve a problem? And, begin to do quick iterations maybe. I mean, they don’t even have to be product at that point. They could potentially be paper prototypes, et cetera. What can you put in front of people to really kind of test out your ideas in a cheap and quick way to iterate before you spend a lot of money to build out your solution?

John Jantsch: Are there some folks that you think have done this particularly well, maybe they learned while they were doing it, but in the end, they came out and did a really great job with what you think is a great way to go beyond product?

Jill Soley: I think there are certainly lots of startups that do this. I’m trying to … I mean, you can go back to something like a Salesforce even, right? I mean, their initial product wasn’t really much to speak of, right? I mean, at the end of the day, that’s a marketing company. They have done a phenomenal job of marketing. But, what they did early on is they saw a pain point in the market, right? They saw that there were these segment, these parts of companies, right? These departments and all whose needs weren’t being met, and they weren’t going to be met by this big enterprise product that was there, right?

Jill Soley: So, they went in with a smaller cloud-based product that these departments could implement, and they could get benefit from. And then, they built out their product. And then, they expanded, and they built a platform, and so on, and so on, until they became the Salesforce that we know today, right?

John Jantsch: Yeah. Then, they became the big enterprise product.

Jill Soley: Exactly. We argue about whether it’s a great product today or not, and so forth. But, I mean, if you’re looking at sort of a model for this, I thought that’s a pretty good one. There’s certainly lots of startups as well that are doing this today as well as the ones who are perhaps not.

John Jantsch: Yeah. I think HubSpot actually probably copied that model to some degree. I mean, they were voracious marketers as they were building out the product. And, I think a lot of people, a lot of HubSpot fans, I don’t know how familiar you are with them and their product, but early on, it was a pretty clunky product. And now, they’ve really continued to invest and enhance it. But, they were voracious marketers.

Jill Soley: Well, and one of the things … They got the marketing right. And, there are some interesting sort of marketing strategy that they did really well. And, one of the things that they in particular did is, I think, early on, as I understand it, they had some internal debates about who their customer was. And, Brian Halligan has actually written about this online that they eventually kind of had a heart to heart as a company, right? Internally, they sat down and kind of forced that decision. And, as I understand it from people there, right? It was forcing that decision and picking a very specific target market that really helped their business be successful.

John Jantsch: Yeah. I would agree with that. Let’s talk a little bit about Obo. Are you, as a Chief Product Officer at Obo, are you bringing kind of what you’ve learned? And certainly, anytime you write a book, and then you’re in this position, I think there’s going to be some people pointing to you, “Are we practicing what we’re preaching in the real world?”

Jill Soley: Yep. And, that’s exactly what I’m trying to do there. I mean, right now I’m actually … I’ve come in. Product isn’t out in the market yet. But, we’re close. But, I’m coming in, and I’m actually going back, and just validating some of what has been decided, in terms of strategy to, frankly, make sure that I buy into it, and to figure out sort of where we go from here.

Jill Soley: Its mission, and sort of where it started, was this idea of market first product, right? Focusing in on a market need and understanding the market as opposed to product out, right? Product first. And, there are expert market researchers as part of the team and so forth, right? And, that really, really believe this, inherently, and are looking at sort of how we include that in our process as well as include it in our product, right? That’s exactly what I’m trying to do at Obo.

John Jantsch: Jill, where can people find out more about your work, get the book obviously, particularly if you’re a product person out there listening, and really anywhere else you want to send people to find out more?

Jill Soley: Sure. You can learn more about Beyond Product at Dot CO, not COM. And of course, it’s available on and any of your favorite bookstores. I can also be found at And, if you’re interested in software for product managers, Obo is at OBO dot PM. Lots of places to find me.

John Jantsch: Awesome. Well Jill, thanks for taking the time to stop by today, and hopefully we’ll run into you when I’m out there on the road.

Jill Soley: Awesome. Well, thanks John. This was fun.