Monthly Archives: November 2019

Weekend Favs November 30

Weekend Favs November 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.

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

What Brands Need to Think, Do, and Say to Stand Out

What Brands Need to Think, Do, and Say to Stand Out written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with Ron Tite
Podcast Transcript

Ron Tite Headshot

Today’s guest on the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is a speaker, author, and founder and CEO of the agency Church + State, Ron Tite.

Tite is an award-winning advertising writer and Creative Director who has worked with clients such as Kraft, Air France, Hershey, Fidelity, and Volvo.

His book, Think Do Say, is a guide for brands who don’t know how to stand out in today’s marketing landscape (and really, who does)? With ads coming at consumers from every which way, it’s hard for them to know who’s worthy of their attention.

Rather than trying the latest marketing trick or hanging your hat on strategic jargon, the secret to standing out is really “think, do, say.” What’s the driving belief behind your brand, how do you behave to back up what you believe in, and how do you talk about your central purpose?

Questions I ask Ron Tite:

  • Do we have to state what we believe in order to connect today?
  • What does Times Square have to do with the modern marketing landscape?
  • What should we be doing today that we’re not yet doing when it comes to marketing?

What you’ll learn if you give a listen:

  • Why you need to create a brand belief that goes beyond just your product.
  • What a “pitch slap” is (and why you don’t want to be someone who does it).
  • What the problem is with modern marketing communications.

Key takeaways from the episode and more about Ron Tite:

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

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

SEMrush is our go-to SEO tool for everything from tracking position and ranking to doing audits to getting new ideas for generating organic traffic. They have all the important tools you need for paid traffic, social media, PR, and SEO. Check it out at

Transcript of What Brands Need to Think, Do, and Say to Stand Out

Transcript of What Brands Need to Think, Do, and Say to Stand Out written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Back to Podcast


John Jantsch: This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by SEMrush. It is our go-to SEO tool for doing audits, for tracking position and ranking, for really getting ideas on how to get more organic traffic for our clients, competitive intelligence, backlinks and things like that, all the important SEO tools that you need for paid traffic, social media, PR and of course SEO. Check it out at And we’ll have that in the show notes.

John Jantsch: Hello and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing podcast. This is John Jantsch and my guest today is Ron Tite. He is the Founder and CEO of an agency called Church+State. He’s also the host and the executive producer of a very short-run podcast called The Coup and the author of Think Do and Say, a book we’re going to talk about today, how to seize attention and build trust in a busy, busy world. So welcome Ron.

Ron Tite:  John, thank you for having me.

John Jantsch: So we’re recording this in mid November, depending upon when people listen to this. This may or may not make sense, but I think that I’m going to close my office on Black Friday. Are you with me?

Ron Tite: Yes, I think you should.

John Jantsch: So, you tell a story about, and I’m a huge fan of this, of REI and I’m a huge fan of what they did with this. And so why don’t you, because I think that, well, you gave this story so much space very early in the book. So I’m going to at least assume that, to you, it sort of frames kind of the entire book in a lot of ways or at least the point of the entire book. So, you want to kind of unpack the REI Black Friday story and kind of contextualize it for Think Do Say?

Ron Tite: Yeah, it is such a great example of the model and it’s a great example of the model delivered in that first launch spot in 30 seconds where you get to know everything about the organization within 30 seconds. And so the model of Think Do Say is that the ‘think’ side is that… Well, sorry, I’ll back up. Given the world that we’re living in, people don’t know who to trust. They don’t know where to look and they don’t know who to trust. So with that, and that’s at all levels of the organization, that’s consumers, that’s B2B clients, they don’t know where to look, they don’t know who to trust. So how do you respond to that and how do you bubble up to the surface where you can win attention, sees attention and build trust along the way for having a business with longevity?

Ron Tite: Well, I thought REI did such a great job of that in that on the ‘think’ side, what do they think? Well, they believe in something that goes beyond what they sell. Because what they sell is outdoor equipment, hiking boots and tents and stuff like that. And other people sell that stuff. It’s not like they can claim to have the best sleeping bags, the best hiking boots. Other people sell that stuff. So they have to believe in something that goes beyond that. And the original CEO of this initiative says this line, “We believe that a life lived outside is a life well lived.” So they believe in something that goes beyond what they sell. Secondly, he doesn’t just believe it, but he actually acts with intent. He takes decisions that reinforces that belief specifically.

Ron Tite: So one of the things that REI did was they closed their store and all eCommerce channels on Black Friday. So we believe this, this is how we behave to support that belief. And then the third part is if we believe in something more important and we behave in a way that reinforces that belief, that’s not only worth talking about, it’s something that people want to hear about. But so if we are going to talk about it, then we should talk about it in a really authentic way. And they do that. They talk about it in their own unique voice. And so that initiative of #optoutside started in 2015 but it still exists today. They will be closing this Black Friday. And it has grown. They’ve increased other partners. But I think it’s such a great illustration of this is what we believe, this is what we do to reinforce the belief and this is how we talk about it.

John Jantsch: And I think it’s even maybe a little deeper, because it’s what their clients believe. It’s what their customers believe too. I think.

Ron Tite: Yes. And what’s really interesting about that is that, I mean, we can say it’s their customers. I think what’s important about it, it’s who conceivably would be their customers. Because if you just say what you believe, what your customers believe, then well, that’s a little opportunistic, right? That you’re aligning your beliefs with the people who give you money opposed to saying we’re going to align with people who share our values and our belief. We know that enough of those people will convert to being customers. And those that don’t, that’s totally cool because that’s not where our alignment is. But I think there has to be a confidence that when you align on values and beliefs, enough of those people will convert to being customers and clients.

John Jantsch: Over the last couple of years, and I know you do a lot of work in retail, but over the last couple of years, REI is really transitioning their business. they still sell the clothes and the tents, but they seem to be moving just kind of headlong into travel and experiences. And would you see that, and maybe you’re not aware of that, but would you see that as a transition of retail for them or do you see that as an expansion of where they think the world’s going?

Ron Tite: I think that what it is, is it gives them the opportunity to diversify their portfolio in a way that still reinforces their brand belief. So if you’re General Motors and all you do is sell cars and your brand belief is that you should make the best car in the world, that’s amazing when people are buying cars. But with ride sharing and autonomous vehicles, well, now what do you do? Your product-focused brand belief is useless and doesn’t protect you from the dynamic forces of the economy or from cultural interests.

Ron Tite: So when REI were saying, “We believe in a life lived outside is a life well lived,” that immediately set themselves up to broaden their horizons, diversify their portfolio because the new services of travel and they’re also doing classes of teaching people how to canoe, that still reinforces their belief. So yeah, I think, I mean in culture a great example is Lady Gaga who doesn’t believe in being the best singer in the world. Because if she did, she’d never be an actress. But she believes that people should be free to express themselves. And she lives that through acting, through music, through choreography, through visual arts, and now through a fashion line.

John Jantsch: So one of the threads that runs through your book, and quite frankly a lot of books over the last couple of years, is this idea of, tell people what you believe. Do we have to state what we believe in order to connect today? I mean, is that just we just have to get over it and do it?

Ron Tite: No, I think that what’s getting confusing is that brands and leaders representing those brands are thinking that we have to align corporate purpose with social issue. And that’s just wrong. Now in some cases-

John Jantsch: That sort of leads people to doing stuff that sounds good, doesn’t it?

Ron Tite: It really does. And they go, “Well, what is everybody talking about?” “Oh, they’re talking about the environment.” “Okay, yeah, yeah, we believe that too.” Which is fine if it’s strategically aligned with what you sell because what you sell is your do. So if you’re Nike and you say that everybody’s an athlete and your purpose is to support those athletes in their pursuits, you’re morally obligated to run that Colin Kaepernick ad. But if you’re Pepsi and you say that the world should come together in unity and you hire Kendall Jenner to be a spokesperson, you’d be like, “What does that have to do with pop? There’s nothing strategically aligned there.” If you’re Audi and you say that the world should… we should experience gender equality in the workforce, that’s not why you may need cars. I mean, come on. It’s not that those issues aren’t important.

Ron Tite: But I don’t think so. I think if you do a good enough job like REI to say, we believe in this thing, which is strategically aligned with what we sell but is elevated, then I don’t think you have to say that whether you’re a Trump supporter or not or whether you support Title IX, whatever, all those things, all those public policy things, which can be divisive. So no, I don’t think they have to.

John Jantsch: I was in New York recently and I was speaking at an event that was right in Times Square. I stayed in Times Square. I hate Times Square by the way. But you actually have a quite lengthy explanation of, or kind of using Times Square as sort of a metaphor for our times today in the marketing world. So you want to kind of unpack that.

Ron Tite: Yeah. I think I agree with you that if I’m in New York and I have to stay in Times Square, something has gone wrong, but I certainly have done it. There’s two sides to Times Square that I think represent the modern marketing landscape. The first side is up top and up top there’s nothing but promotion and it’s really expensive to be there. And it is filled with legacy brands who have big budgets, who can afford the billboards and the video boards and they’re really slick and they’re polished. Of course, they’re really slick and polished. They had to spend all that money to buy their space. Of course, they’re going to make it absolutely perfect.

Ron Tite: And so it’s filled with opportunity. 400,000 people walk through Times Square or drive through Times Square every single day. It’s really expensive and everybody wants to be there. But to the consumer, to the person that that entire ecosystem has been built for, they have no idea where to look. They have no clue where to look. Nothing catches their attention because everything is screaming. And so all those brands up top are paying a lot of money to just contribute to the noise. Now, that’s one on level.

Ron Tite: The second level is down street level. At street level, that’s a whole other type of entrepreneur. That entrepreneur, they don’t have the funds to live up top, but they can be more nimble, and they can be more authentic, and they can be more aggressive, and they can be more targeted, and they don’t have the baggage of those big legacy brands, but they also don’t have the credibility of those big legacy brands. And often they have new business models. You’re not exactly sure who’s making money, what, where, right?

John Jantsch: Yeah, those guys handing out like the tour pamphlets, I’m always leery of them.

Ron Tite: Yes. Yes, so you’ve got the pamphlet guys, you’ve got somebody else selling you a fake Gucci, you’ve got somebody telling you the end of the world is coming. You have someone selling street meat, you’ve got someone selling watches. And the street meat guy, that may be the best sausage or hot dog you’ve ever had in your life, but he’s stuck down on this entrepreneurial level with all these nimble folks where you’re not exactly sure who’s valid and who’s not.

Ron Tite: So up top you don’t know where to look, down below, you don’t know who to trust. And so in the middle of marketing is the sweet spot that can we bring with us and dial up legacy aspects of credibility, responsibility and history with the nimbleness and the authenticity that a customized and personalized delivery can bring us. That to me is the sweet spot where most brands and most leaders need to live.

John Jantsch: Okay. It sounds exhausting. We’ll get back to that. There is a term that you use throughout this book and you kind of said that you didn’t make it up and you weren’t sure who did. So I coined the term pitch slap just so you know.

Ron Tite: It was you!

John Jantsch: It was me. So what the heck is that?

Ron Tite: A pitch slap is any overt or subtle pitching of your product when the sole focus of a piece of communication or a series of communications is to actually pitch your product or your service. And often we can smell this coming. It’s the person who connects with you on LinkedIn who says, “Oh John, you’re such a brilliant person. I’ve been following you for years. I read all your books. It must be so enlightening to just breathe the same air as you.” And in your brain you’re going, “I know where this is going. You’re blowing smoke up my ass because you just want to pitch me your thing.” Right? And so opposed to, “Look, John, I’m going to connect with you and I’m going to add value over time until it gets to the point when you like what you hear and you ask me how you can hire me.” Those are two very different things.

Ron Tite: Now, I think a pitch slapping is the result of people gaming the system because the promise of digital communications was that we’d be able to put the right products and the right services in front of the right people at the right time by being able to produce communications never before, cheaper than we’ve ever been able to do it and distribute that in ways to people all over the globe. And what we’ve done or what a lot of people have done is they’ve tried to game the system by going, “Screw it! I’m not going to customize this. I’m just going to blast a million different people and I’m going to pitch slap everybody. And I don’t care about the innocent bystanders who are offended or who get frustrated or who hate me for doing it, because two people are going to convert and that’s fine for me.” And I think that’s the problem with modern marketing communications. This was supposed to be the promised land and instead it’s a wasteland.

John Jantsch: So, correct me if I’m wrong, but you do some standup don’t you or have?

Ron Tite: Well, yeah, I spent 20 years as a standup and then hosted a comedy show up until the point that my wife and I had our first child just close to two ago. But it’s weird. It’s speaking… There’s this diversion of standup when I do about 70 keynotes a year. So kind of.

John Jantsch: And obviously it comes through in your writing as well. In fact, I didn’t realize what a literary researcher that you were and you turned up some new quotes from Confucius and John Rockefeller that I really was not familiar with. So listeners, you’re going to have to get the book to enjoy those. But let me ask you to share, since we’re kind of picking on the people’s use of some of the digital tactics, you spent a lot of time talking about LinkedIn in general, so you want to go through some of the various characters that we might mean on LinkedIn.

Ron Tite: Oh, I would absolutely love to.

John Jantsch: Like the gopher for example.

Ron Tite: Yeah. Yeah. Well, there’s a… I’m going to call them up here because I want to make sure that I do them justice. So the groper. Yes. The groper is the person who right out of the gate, it’s like they’re all over you, right? They’re all over you with that invite to connect [crosstalk 00:16:03]-

John Jantsch: Yeah, I was going to say, I actually get some invitations that they don’t even wait for me to accept. It’s like in the invitation they’re pitching me.

Ron Tite: Yeah. Yeah. They’re saying like, “Are you available for call next day between 12:00 and 14:00?” And you’re like, what? I mean that is just so aggressive and I don’t know who is teaching this.

John Jantsch: My favorite or actually least favorite is the ones that always have in there somewhere, “I’d like to learn about your business.” I’m like, “If you don’t know everything about my business that has been on for 20 years online, then you’re not trying very hard.”

Ron Tite: Yeah. What I love about that is, what I call in the book the Howdy Partner, right? Which is the, “Not only do I want to know about your business, but let’s partner John. I mean I’m a real estate agent and I can send clients your way and you can send clients…” Like, “What? I don’t partner with well-established organizations because there’s not a fit. You think I’m going to partner with some random person. That’s ridiculous.”

John Jantsch: Unless there’s synergies.

Ron Tite: No, no. The other one that I think is really funny is what I call the Stumble Upon because I don’t know if you get this a lot, but it just seems like every third invite is people going, like, “I stumbled upon your profile and thought that we should connect. And like, “Really, you just stumbled upon my profile,” and it’s like, “I think I want to connect to people who are a little bit more targeted in their browsing. Go home and StumbleUpon you’re drunk or you’re supposed to be on [inaudible 00:17:36].”

John Jantsch: I used to love to StumbleUpon then. I don’t know if you remember that app.

Ron Tite: Yeah.

John Jantsch: It was in the early days of the internet. You’d basically say, “Show me your website.” But things have changed.

Ron Tite: You know what though, I think we’re in need of [inaudible 00:17:52]. Don’t you think StumbleUpon should make a return, but it should be StumbleUpon for TV shows, right? StumbleUpon, here’s a Netflix show that you never thought… We need that curated experience.

John Jantsch: Yeah. Well, that’s a good point. I actually got a pitch from somebody who’s creating an app for podcasts that that’s kind of the idea where they’re going to, based on your interests, curate a whole bunch of stuff and then just give you like one minute snips so that you can decide. I thought that was clever.

Ron Tite: I was chatting with our friend Jay Baer last week and we were discussing this thing of like, “Oh yeah, jeez and me, where do you go for stuff because there’s so many shows and so many good things?” And I said to Jay, “I think we need to start a magazine called TV Guide.” Like, we could just find out what the heck is on all the different streaming services.

John Jantsch: Yeah. It’s amazing, I’ll go out to dinner with somebody and they’ll say, “Oh yeah, we just started watching this show,” and it’s like, “I never even heard of it [crosstalk 00:18:57].” All right. So we got knocked off course here a little bit, but I really wanted to come back with the money question. What should we be doing that we’re not doing today?

Ron Tite: What we should be doing is I don’t think we’re putting enough emphasis on the foundations, especially on the two ends of the spectrum. So really, really large organizations where kind of the bureaucracy has come in and said like, “Let’s just check a box. Let’s just check a box and say that we did the thing and see if we can pursue those metrics even though it has no foundation to growing our business whatsoever.”

Ron Tite: The second thing is that, within entrepreneurial mindset, where people are like, “I want to get to the thing that allows me to beat my chest and say I’ve got the thing.” And often that means we’re chasing these vanity metrics and we need to play the long game. We just need to play the long game. And this is not rocket science. If we believe in something more important that allows us to diversify our portfolio and be nimble and pivot and all those things. And then we actually focus on what do we actually do to reinforce it. And that can be products, but that can also be based on who we do it for and what they want us to do. What problems can we solve for people and how do we acknowledge who we do it with?

Ron Tite: And then the third part, I’m like, “Look, let’s just talk about it in an authentic way. Let’s have real conversation with real people.” There’s nothing that’s brilliant about that. There really isn’t. But it takes a commitment and it takes focus on business foundations and slowly over time you will build the business. You will build your profile.

John Jantsch: It’s in the subtitle, but we haven’t really talked enough about it. I mean, I think the real game that we’re all involved in, maybe always have been, but it’s gotten harder and messier, is trust, isn’t it?

Ron Tite: It most certainly is. And as marketers, marketers have spent a lot of time, and I’m just as guilty by the way, of saying, “How do we cut through the noise? How do we cut through the noise? How do we get people’s attention?” It’s a goldfish universe above all those things and it’s like, look, if you just want to gain attention, kill a puppy. Just kill a puppy. You’ll get attention. People will talk about you. But if you want to grab attention and build trust so that that new business cost, that acquisition cost decreases over time, then that is about trust. And trust is based on actually delivering. And it’s actually delivering in a way that people in one way expect because it aligns with your beliefs and another way don’t expect because it goes well beyond what they’re used to getting from brands.

Ron Tite: And when you can do that, I think you know what, you’ll be good. You will continue to grow the business. If you’re a thought leader, you will continue to grow your influence. Now, are you going to get that massive spike in traffic? Maybe not, but incrementally you will continue to grow over time and where it should be the long game or in Simon Sinek’s new word, The Infinite Game, that we really should be focused on.

John Jantsch: Amen to that. So Ron, where can people find more about Think Do Say and some of the other work you’re doing there at Church+State?

Ron Tite: They can go to the Church+State website, They can go to or because I’m an equal opportunity URL giver.

John Jantsch: I’m assuming you’re in Toronto today?

Ron Tite: I’m in Toronto. I’m on my way to New Jersey and then to Procter & Gamble in Cincinnati and then Arizona. No, back to Toronto and then Arizona.

John Jantsch: But the book is available in both Canada and the United States. Isn’t that an amazing world we live in?

Ron Tite: It’s part of the North American Free Trade Agreement or whatever we’re calling it now.

John Jantsch:  It’s certainly not that, I’m sure. Ron, great catching up with you. Hopefully we’ll run into you soon out there on the road.

Ron Tite: That was good, John. Thanks so much and thanks everybody for listening. Really appreciate it.

John Jantsch on the Local U Deep Dive Podcast – The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur

John Jantsch on the Local U Deep Dive Podcast – The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

John Jantsch sat down with Mike Blumenthal and Carrie Hill, hosts of the Local U Deep Dive Podcast, to discuss local marketing, reviews, and his latest book, The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur.

Jantsch gives an overview of his career—he founded his own marketing firm 30 years ago and has developed a system for small businesses marketing—and segues into why he chose to write his latest book specifically for fellow entrepreneurs.

The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur is designed to help those running their own business develop a trust in themselves and their work and find greater purpose in their work. To learn more about the book and hear the whole interview, check out the link below!

Listen: John Jantsch on the Local U Deep Dive Podcast

The Shaun Tabatt Show – The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur

The Shaun Tabatt Show – The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

John Jantsch appeared on the Shaun Tabatt Show to discuss his latest book, The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur.

Jantsch sits down with Tabatt and shares his own personal entrepreneurial journey and how that led him to write this latest book. As someone who started his own marketing consulting firm 30 years ago, Jantsch understands how challenging the entrepreneur’s life can be. While his previous books have been about how to do marketing, this book takes a look at the why behind a business owner’s life. How do we discover our purpose, as business owners and as human beings?

Check it out – John Jantsch on The Shaun Tabatt Show

How to Attract and Hire the Best Talent

How to Attract and Hire the Best Talent written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with Dr. Sabrina Starling
Podcast Transcript

Dr. Sabrina Starling headshotToday on the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I chat with Dr. Sabrina Starling. She is the founder of Tap the Potential and the author of the How to Hire the Best series.

Dr. Starling became a psychologist to better understand people, and she now uses those skills to help entrepreneurs and small business owners grow their business in a healthy and sustainable way.

In this episode, Dr. Starling focuses on the hiring process. Most business owners struggle to attract and hire the right people, and it’s probably because they’ve experienced a poor hiring experience in the past as an employee.

Dr. Starling shares lots of practical tips for creating a culture that attracts A Players and how to think like a marketer when it comes to selling your business as the kind of place employees would want to work.

Questions I ask Dr. Sabrina Starling:

  • Where are most business owners making mistakes in hiring employees?
  • What if there’s a shrinking labor pool in your industry?
  • How do you gracefully handle the process of attracting talent away from your competitors?

What you’ll learn if you give a listen:

  • How marketing skills play into the hiring process.
  • How to turn the traits inherent in a small business into selling points for prospective employees.
  • How to structure salary in a way that attracts A Players.

Key takeaways from the episode and more about Dr. Sabrina Starling:

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

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Klaviyo helps you build meaningful relationships by listening and understanding cues from your customers, allowing you to easily turn that information into valuable marketing messages.

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Transcript of How to Attract and Hire the Best Talent

Transcript of How to Attract and Hire the Best Talent written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

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Klaviyo logo

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, and my guest today is Dr. Sabrina Starling. She’s the author of How to Hire the Best, and the CEO of Tap the Potential. She also goes by the moniker of the business psychologist, so that’s probably my first psychologist on the Duct Tape Marketing podcast. Sabrina, welcome.

SSabrina Starling: Thank you, John. I’m honored to be the first psychologist on the Duct Tape Marketing podcast. There’s so much commonality with marketing and psychology.

John Jantsch: There’s no question there. But we have to answer the burning question that I am sure you’ve been asked many times: what is the difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist?

Sabrina Starling: Well, the simple answer to that used to be that psychologists don’t prescribe. The basic difference is that psychiatrists go through medical school, years and years of medical training, and then they specialize in psychiatry at the end of medical school. Psychologists go through graduate school and don’t go to medical school. The majority of our training is focused on understanding people, and how people function in the world.

John Jantsch: Well, certainly small business owners could probably use a dose of that. I know over the years working with thousands of business owners, I’ve have at times felt like I was providing … certainly wouldn’t call it psychology, but I would provide some sort of talking them off the ledge, or …

Sabrina Starling: Yes. Yeah. I always say that people are so complex that I decided I needed to get a PhD in psychology just so I could understand people. As small business owners, we need to understand people because that’s how we grow our businesses. People are the heart of these businesses.

John Jantsch: Well, I have talked to many, many entrepreneurs and I will say that … I’ll bet universally, I know a lot of people say, “Well, gosh. Marketing’s hard.” But I bet you universally there would be agreement on hiring and managing people is probably the hardest part of growing a business. Because most entrepreneurs, it’s just not their strength.

Sabrina Starling: No, it’s not. I think what’s interesting is once we’ve cracked marketing and we figured that out, then we need to know people. Because we have to add team to scale with all the new business that we’re bringing in because we’ve learned marketing.

John Jantsch: I sometimes find that people learn from the negative side before they’re ready to embrace the positive side. I think a lot of the hiring that people do, and where they’ve had it not out, is because they were hired a certain way and they’ve seen other people do it. They’re just kind of copying what they’ve seen done and what they think is supposed to be done. How are business owners getting it wrong in the hiring process in general?

Sabrina Starling: Yeah. Well, I mean, that’s just exactly it. We don’t really know what we’re supposed to be doing. We just kind of copy what has been done to us in the past and what we’ve experienced. The typical hiring practice, if we follow that, that sets us up to mis-hire about 75% of the time. What I mean by the typical hiring practice is we get really busy and we decide, “You know what? We could use some help around here. Let me write up a really quick job ad, and put it out there everywhere, and see which applicants come in. I’ll pick from the best of that group, and then I’ll invite some of those in for an interview. Then out of those that I interview, I’ll pick the best person.”

Sabrina Starling: Well, the reason that causes us to mis-hire is because that is out of alignment with A-player behavior. A-players are not on job boards reading job ads. They’re not sitting at home in their jammies doing that. They’re employed elsewhere right now, they’re probably very busy in their other job that they have elsewhere, and they move from one opportunity to the next. We have to use all of our good marketing skills to figure out how do we get in front of the right A-players for our business, and then attract them to want to work with us.

John Jantsch: Okay. Obviously now I need to say, “Okay. What should we be doing?” You kind of set up the … I think you’re absolutely right. I mean, the people that we really are after are not looking for us. How do we kind of turn the tables then and attract that person?

Sabrina Starling: Yes. It’s about being very, very intentional and setting ourselves up to really differentiate ourselves as employers in the marketplace. Again, using everything we know from good marketing, we have to be different and we have to stand out. We need to know what it is that the A-players we want to attract would value about us, and what are we … and rather trying to create that and just … “I’m not doing this now, so I should go out there and do that.”

Sabrina Starling: Start with what are we doing well. We can ask our current team members, who are our better team members, what is it that you appreciate most about working here? What’s different and unique about this role versus any other jobs you’ve done in the past? That is going to start cluing us in to how we as employers stand out.

Sabrina Starling: What’s, I think, really surprising for a lot of small business owners is we don’t have to do grand things like have pool tables, and let our kids … our team members. I’ve just been talking about kids recently. We don’t want to have to our members playing pool for them to feel like, “Wow, this is a great place to work. I get to play pool on my lunch breaks.” It’s the simple things, like just being respectful, and having a respectful work environment, treating team members like family, giving them flexibility to take care of work life balance and family needs that they may have.

Sabrina Starling: We as small business owners kind of take that for granted. It’s just kind of how we do things and how we roll, and we don’t realize that that’s very different than corporate America. If we’re talking to somebody who’s had a corporate job, it could be a breath of fresh air for them to come to work in a small business.

John Jantsch: I think you’re absolutely right. A lot of the small businesses just do that because they think that’s the right way to do that … do things. That’s who they are. How do you actually communicate that in a way that then starts attracting? I mean, you can’t go out there and necessarily say, “Oh, we’re like family here.” I mean, to me that doesn’t play very well.

Sabrina Starling: Yeah. And it kind of can sound kind of empty. The best thing that we can do is getting our current team members to talk out there about us, and get the word on the street about the business going. With social media now, we have really simple tools at our disposal. First, we need to understand A-players hang together. If you have an A-player on your team … and by A-player, I mean someone who is highly motivated, who’s a get go-getter, who solves problems, and doesn’t just stop, and give up, and wait for you to tell them what to do.

Sabrina Starling: Those kinds of people know other A-players. John, look how you and I connected. You commented on Mike [inaudible 00:07:57]’s post, I commented back. I like to think I’m an A-player. I like to think you’re an A-player. I think Mike [inaudible] is an A-player. That’s how A-players work.

Sabrina Starling: Our team members are like that too. If we have some sort of … something they do that we’re really proud of, and we feature them in our social media and we say, “Joe really went out of his way for this customer this week, and look at what he did. I’m so proud of Joe,” and you tag Joe in that post. Well, Joe is going to want to share that post with all of his friends and family because he’s feeling really proud. Now all of a sudden, your business is getting in front of all of Joe’s A-players in his network.

Sabrina Starling: When you have an opening later on and you start sharing your job ad, and you ask Joe, “Would you mind sharing this with your network?” Well, now Joe’s network is like, “Oh, yeah. Joe has that boss who brags about him all the time. That’s very different than my boss who gripes at me all the time.”

John Jantsch: Yeah. And the beauty of that too is that’s … yes, that’s attractive to maybe a potential hire. But that’s also a really pretty attractive message to the market in general about what kind of company you are.

Sabrina Starling: Absolutely. That’s the beautiful thing is the things that we do to really position ourselves as a brand that our ideal clients and customers would gravitate towards. We just need to be a little bit more mindful of incorporating our best team members in that, and pulling them in whenever possible, and letting them take center stage in our marketing.

John Jantsch: I want to remind you that this episode is brought to you by Klaviyo. Klaviyo helps you build meaningful customer relationships by listening and understanding cues from your customers. This allows you to easily turn that information into valuable marketing messages. There’s powerful segmentation email auto responders that are ready to go. Great reporting.

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John Jantsch: So, your most recent edition of How to Hire is the contractors edition. I know for one that right now in that particular industry … and I’m sure there are others like that, but it seems to me like there’s such a shortage of people that want to do that kind of work. That are going to school to get into those trades. What’s a company … I mean, I guess on one hand what we’re saying is that it’s makes us even hyper important in that industry. But what do you do when it’s not simply a matter of hiring A-players? It’s: how do I get anybody that’s interested at all?

Sabrina Starling: Absolutely. We have to understand that in any population, about 10% of the population is going to be A-players. When you have a shrinking labor pool like the construction industry is dealing with … because for years, kids were encouraged to go to college instead of go into the trades if that was their inclination. Not only have we had a lot of people leave the construction industry when the recession happened, they never came back. Now we also are missing an entire generation of workers in that industry.

Sabrina Starling: It’s a very small labor pool, and we have to really get resourceful when it comes to filling open roles in our businesses. It is not about hiring skillset. It is much more important to hire for fit with our core values or our immutable laws. The A-player personality, that resourcefulness, as well as to excel day in and day out. Skillsets can be trained, and there may be entry level positions that we’re going to have to look at in our businesses and create apprentice programs.

Sabrina Starling: I know for a contractor looking at doing that, you’re working 90 hours a week to keep up with the demand as it is. You’re like, “What? This lady’s telling me to start an apprentice program? Who has time for this?” What I would really encourage you to consider doing is niching down. Get a very specific niche that you focus on, that you have the opportunity to be the best in the world at in that niche. Because the projects that you do will be very similar over time, it makes it much easier for you to train somebody … because they’re doing a lot of repetitive work, and that makes an apprentice program much more doable.

John Jantsch: Well, I actually have a client in Kansas City, Missouri that did just that. They were a pretty good size remodeling contractor. They actually partnered with a couple local schools, and are running six or eight apprentices through a semester, and a couple have turned into really great hires.

Sabrina Starling: Absolutely. I really think that’s going to be what a lot of contractors are looking at doing. In my book How to Hire the Best, I include sample job ads. One that I included this time around that I didn’t include in the previous edition of How to Hire the Best is a job ad that is positioned for hiring for growth. That would specifically target someone who has come out of a trade school program … even at, like, a six to eight week program, and now you’re bringing them in the business. Here’s what you expect them to be able to do right away, and here’s what you expect them to be able to grow into doing.

John Jantsch: I mean, one of the ways you get A-players is you take them from somebody else. I mean, let’s face it. That happens, right? How do you kind of skirt that potential sort of community scar?

Sabrina Starling: Oh, yeah. Here’s the thing. Poach is a bad word, so we don’t say poach, we say ‘attract.’ If we are going to become employers of choice and really be that leader that is respectful of our team members, that creates a good work environment, that’s going to be attractive. When you’re out on job sites, and you’re dealing with the other trades, and they see how you conduct business and how your team feels … and really thinking about what is the word on the street about your business?

Sabrina Starling: Like, when your team members are at a barbecue on Friday evening, are they the ones saying, “You won’t believe what my boss had me do this week. He had me work all this overtime, and then this happened, and then he yelled at me.” Is that going to be the word on the street? Or is it going to be that your team member says, “Oh my gosh, my boss is so nice. He told me thank you for doing this simple thing the other day. It was really no big deal, but he actually stopped told me thank you.” Is that going to be the word on the street? Because if that’s the positive interaction with team members is the word on the street, you are going to be in a much better position to attract great team members to your business.

Sabrina Starling: In the book, one of the resources that I share is a very simple method of having a business card, and it says on there, “I see you doing a good job. I want to acknowledge you for that.” On the other side of that business card is: if you’re ever looking for an opportunity, come talk to me. You can just hand that whenever you’re out in public, or you’re on a job site, and you see someone doing a good job. You’re just simply acknowledging them for doing good work. They’ll hang on to that.

John Jantsch: One of the things that happens amongst businesses when things get competitive is they start lowering prices. The flip side of that, I suppose, in hiring is at what point is sort of offering the highest salary play a role, or is that just like lowering your prices? Is that a bad practice?

Sabrina Starling: It’s a bad practice. I advise against it, and I think all small business owners everywhere are breathing a sigh of relief on that one. When we think about it, money only goes so far as a motivator. Once our base level needs are met … and depending on where you are in the country, it’s about $75,000 is the annual income that someone needs to just feel covered and taken care of. Once our base level needs are met, money quits being a motivator. What is motivating is how we are treated, how we feel a part of something, and having a larger purpose that we’re taking part in.

Sabrina Starling: That’s really what we want to be building in our businesses is the story of the business, and what is it that we do that has an impact, and the work we’re doing as a team member with us. How were you the hero in that story? And the piece about what to pay to attract great employees is you want to be above the 50th percentile. The Bureau of Labor statistics has this data on their website for pretty much any role that you can think of in a small business.

Sabrina Starling: You can see what the 50th percentile is, the 75th percentile, and the 90th percentile. I suggest … I like starting at the 65th percentile. And saying, “You start out here, and if you do really well and you hit these results with us, then at three months time we’re going to bump you up here, and that’s going to put you in about the 75th percentile of pay.” And then gradually bumping them up over about two years time, and showing them how if they deliver the results you’re looking for, you’ll have them at the 90th percentile.

Sabrina Starling: That in and of itself … if you put that on paper, that really differentiates you. Because most large organizations and small businesses will say, “We offer opportunities for advancement.” And it’s lip service. They don’t do anything to back it up. But if you document it, now you’re different. And if on the other side of that piece of paper you put team member comments about why they appreciate working for you, and their pictures, now you’re standing out again. If you really want to stand out, I recommend bright orange paper and scratch and sniff. When they leave the interview with you, they have this big, bright orange piece of paper. It shows their opportunities for advancement, how they’re going to get to the 90th percentile. Translate that into dollars for them so they really … don’t just say 90th percentile, because that means nothing to a candidate.

Sabrina Starling: Then on the back of that, they see team members who currently work for you. They look like they’re having fun, which that’s kind of different too. Maybe this maybe this is really an opportunity I want to pursue. That’s what it’s going to take to get an A-player who’s employed elsewhere, who may be is having a few bad days at work. Maybe I’ll stay because it’s always easier to stay where we are than make a move. We have to show them that making the move is really going to be something good for them. That is going to be enough to convince them. This is a real opportunity.

John Jantsch: Just like all things today, there’s so much information out there and transparency. You know who’s good and who’s bad. But what do you think about sites like Glassdoor? I know a lot of small businesses … they don’t have a lot of employees and like a lot of things in life, the employee that that was disgruntled for some reason leaves a terrible thing on glass door. Now I’ve got to deal with that. What do you think about … not necessarily what you think about the sites, because you know they are reality. It doesn’t matter what you think of it. But how should a small business address sites like that can maybe damage the story that’s real?

Sabrina Starling: It is really about doing the work on the front end, and showing up, and being authentic. By that, I mean if you’re having regular one-to-one conversations with your team members, then you’re going to ward off a lot of what would be put on Glassdoor as a negative review about you. If you are doing good things, team building activities, and dinners with your team, and pizza parties, and fun things … that is going to ward off a bad review. If you get a bad review and you have plenty of positive PR going on about the company, it actually can be … kind of like what they say to us, John, about book reviews. If somebody leaves that one bad review, it’s more authentic. Because now it doesn’t look like all your friends went on and left you a good review. It gives some context, and I think most team members that we would want in our have an understanding that not everybody is going to be a great fit for our businesses.

John Jantsch: I know you do a lot of coaching on businesses, so that they can get free of having to be there all the time. You talk about the four week vacation, things like that. What are the hardest roles to fill and the ones that … if you’re going to get that four weeks vacation you must?

Sabrina Starling: Yeah. Yeah. It is that it … the construction business project manager really seems to be a hard role to fill, or the person who will do the sales in the owner’s absence. Actually, the sales in the owner’s absence is not as hard to fill. It’s getting the owner to let go of doing the sales. That makes it harder. But project manager overall is a harder one to fill.

Sabrina Starling: The critical roles in the business that pertain to serving the top clients around the most profitable product or offering need to be filled. It’s not just a business owner themselves who needs to be able to take a four week vacation for that business to be healthy. But every single team member deserves the opportunity to be able to leave, and go on vacation, and not have their work pile up while we’re gone. If the work is piling up for a team member and they feel like, “I can’t leave. I have too much of a critical role here.” That is a sign that work needs to be spread out and there needs to be additional training for other team members, so that things can be handled in that team member’s absence.

John Jantsch: Great point. Sabrina, where can people find out more about you, and your work in How to Hire the Best?

Sabrina Starling: Thank you, John. My business is If you want to get How to Hire the Best, you can go to If you want to know how you’re doing with getting your business lined up to be a highly profitable, great place to work that lets you take a four week vacation, you can take our assessment at

John Jantsch: Awesome. We’ll have a as always a those links in the show notes. Sabrina, it was great having a chat. Hopefully we’ll catch up with you soon out there on the road.

Sabrina Starling: Thank you, John.

A Small Business Guide to Instagram Stories

A Small Business Guide to Instagram Stories written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Instagram has quickly become one of the best social media platforms for small business owners. With more than 1 billion active users each month, Instagram provides a tremendous opportunity for businesses looking to reach a new, relevant audience.

While you do have the option to create static posts on Instagram, one of the fun features that started on the platform (and has since expanded into Facebook) is stories. While a post is displayed in your followers’ feeds and remains on your profile forever, a story is ephemeral—it only lasts for 24 hours.

Some business owners are at a loss for how best to use stories. What type of content should you share there? When do you choose a story over a regular post? And how do you get the greatest reach for the content you do share in stories?

Here, I’ll walk you through best practices when it comes to using Instagram stories for your small business.

Supplement Your Posts

The biggest question for a lot of small business owners is determining what belongs in a story versus a traditional post. It’s best to remember that posts are forever. So, the type of content that you share in a post should be totally in-line with your brand. Plus, it should provide long-term value for anyone who views it, whether that’s today or two years from now.

Let’s say you own a bakery. Among other things (like culture posts, which give viewers a real look at the behind-the-scenes of your business), it makes sense to share edited photos of the finished baked goods in your posts. Sharing that content in posts gets prospects’ mouths watering and lets them know the kind of baked goods to expect if they stop by your shop.

In the story, though, you can be a little more irreverent. Show the work that went into getting the picture-perfect post, where your apron is covered in flour and your kids are running around the shop in the background. Or take pictures throughout the baking process, showing the step-by-step creation in stories and revealing the final product in a post.

Stories are also a great way to advertise short-term offers. Let’s say you own a retail store and have big sales coming up for Black Friday. Rather than clogging up your posts with advertisements for the sale, consider creating one post announcing the sale, to serve as anchor content for your stories, and then get into the details about what will be on sale when in stories.

Use a Mix of Photos and Video

You can post either photos or videos in stories. While it’s often easier to capture a still image, it’s a good idea to share a mix of both types of content.

Sharing content regularly on stories is a great way to stay top-of-mind with your followers. The way that stories are displayed on Instagram means that people will often scroll through the stories of everyone they follow all at once. And because the queue of stories is at the top of the Instagram app, if you’re regularly producing stories, your business is often greeting viewers every time they log in. So if sharing still images in stories makes it possible for you to share a steadier stream of content there, then that’s a good way to go.

But video does have the ability to create an even deeper, more personal connection with your audience. It really brings what’s happening in your business to life, and it boosts those know, like, and trust factors, that make up the early stages of the marketing hourglass. So consider incorporating video into your stories as many times per week as you can.

Utilize Stickers Wisely

Once you create your content—be it video or photo—to share on stories, you can dress things up with stickers. Some of the stickers are gifs and images that are fun ways to add visual interest to your posts.

Other stickers, though, can serve a greater purpose in spreading the word about your business. You can include hashtag stickers on posts, which can open your content up to a broader audience. By including hashtags, your content becomes discoverable by any Instagram users who have searched for or follow that hashtag. If you’re strategic about the hashtags you use, you can gain new followers in the process.

You can also create your own hashtag to promote a specific event or product within your business. For example, if you’re throwing a conference, featuring industry experts and great speakers, consider creating a hashtag for the event. You can use the hashtag in the lead-up to the event to spread the word about tickets. You can use it during the event to share live content from the stage and behind-the-scenes interviews with speakers. And you can use it after the event to share meaningful recaps and continue to get even more life out of the content you captured on the event day.

Location stickers are critical for businesses that have brick and mortar locations. These stickers allow you to tag your business by name. Then when someone clicks on the location sticker, all other posts where your business was tagged with a location sticker will appear. This means that anyone clicking the sticker will not only see your content, but also user-generated content from others who have visited your business.

Finally, there are mention stickers, which allow you to tag another business or person in your story. Mentioning influencers on relevant content might catch their eye and get them to re-share your story.

Get People Talking

Instagram stories shouldn’t be a one-way conversation. Instead, they’re an opportunity to engage your followers in a real dialogue.

That’s where some other stories features come in. It’s possible for you to create polls through Instagram stories. You can ask viewers to select which product they like best out a handful of options. Maybe you start a contest to name your newest product, which you’re about to announce. Or perhaps you create a poll asking viewers what their biggest questions are about your area of expertise.

People love taking quick, fun polls online, and this is often a great first step in engaging your audience. From there, you want to take the results and broaden the conversation. For example, if you asked about favorite products, create a video post where you share which product won out and demonstrate some of the best features of the winning item.

If you created a naming contest, announce the winner in a video. Then, share some photos of them stopping by your store to pick up their prize. Or, if you asked viewers to submit questions, use them to create a live Instagram video where you answer these questions and any that come in in real-time.

Take Advantage of the Highlights Feature

Instagram stories only last for 24 hours, but there is a way to preserve them forever on your profile. While this won’t be appropriate for all stories, for those with meatier content or information that is relevant long-term, it makes sense to save them as highlights.

The highlights feature appears below your profile picture and above your regular Instagram posts. You can create categories for your highlights, which allows viewers to easily find the type of content they’re looking for (see this example of stories highlights on SEMrush’s Instagram page below).

As you can see, they created highlights for a number of industry awards events that they host. Plus, the saved information about topics that are relevant to their audience, like voice search. Saving these stories in highlights allows them to continue to share the content with new visitors after the 24 hour window has passed.

Create Ads Alongside Organic Content

Running Instagram story ads is a great way to supplement the organic content you create on the platform. The rules of the game here are much the same as they are with advertising on other social media platforms.

Begin by setting one clear, measurable goal for each ad. From there, you can hone in on the best audience for that ad. Then, create content that will resonate with those people and drive that one conversion goal. And once your campaign is up and running, track results. That allows you to understand what’s working, what didn’t go as planned, and how you can improve next time.

Instagram stories are a unique way to stay top-of-mind with your audience and generate content that gets people talking. When you follow these best practices for creating stories, you set your business up for success on Instagram.

Weekend Favs November 23

Weekend Favs November 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.

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