Monthly Archives: February 2020

Weekend Favs February 29

Weekend Favs February 29 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.

  • Notion – A comprehensive work tool that brings together to-do lists, knowledge base, databases, and notes all in one place.
  • How to Design Infographics That Will Impress Your Boss – Visme shares 9 tips to creating an infographic that will capture your audience’s attention by teaching something valuable.
  • Tag Snag – Pull all of the video tags your competitors are using on YouTube – great for optimizing video content.

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

Crafting Growth-Focused Content for Your Business

Crafting Growth-Focused Content for Your Business written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with Lance Cummins
Podcast Transcript

Lance Cummins headshotOn this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I visit with Lance Cummins, founder and President of Nectafy, the growth content company.

If you know anything about marketing today, you know that it’s all about content. But with that word getting tossed around so frequently, it sometimes feels like it’s lost all meaning. What is content, anyway? And what’s the difference between content that drives growth and content that just clogs up people’s social media feeds and inboxes?

Cummins started out developing websites and along the way, he realized that business owners so often focus on the design that they completely forget about the content on their websites.

It was then that he transitioned to helping businesses create great content. Great content doesn’t just fill up a website page, it drives growth. Cummins shares how to create the type of content that speaks to your audience and gets real results for your business.

Questions I ask Lance Cummins:

  • How did you settle on the name Nectafy?
  • How would you define what content is today for marketers?
  • What is growth content and how is it different from the inbound marketing approach?

What you’ll learn if you give a listen:

  • What litmus test you can use to evaluate whether or not you’ve created good content.
  • How buyer expectations have changed the content marketing landscape.
  • What forms of content you should be focusing on for your business.

Key takeaways from the episode and more about Lance Cummins:

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 AWeber.

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Transcript of Crafting Growth-Focused Content for Your Business

Transcript of Crafting Growth-Focused Content for Your Business written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

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John Jantsch: Want to quickly send amazing looking emails to your prospects and customers in just minutes? AWeber is the market leader in making email marketing powerfully simple for a small business. Visit for a 30-day free trial.

John Jantsch: Hello, and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing podcast. This is John Jantsch, and my guest today is Lance Cummins. He is the president of Nectafy, a company billed as a growth content company. We’re going to talk about his entrepreneurial journey, how his company runs, and maybe what else he’s up to on the side. So Lance, thanks for joining me.

Lance Cummins: Thanks so much, John. I appreciate it.

John Jantsch: So let’s start off with your story. How did you kind of get to this place where you are the president of the company and doing other entrepreneurial things?

Lance Cummins: You’re going to love this. I’m going to give you the full story but super quick. So back in 1996 I wanted to start my own business and I asked my mom, “Hey, what businesses could I do from home?” And she’s like, “Well, this web design thing is actually pretty interesting. Have you thought about that?” And I was like, “Well, okay.” I bought a book called Teach Yourself HTML in 24 Hours, and I didn’t realize that that meant like 24 days of one-hour sessions maybe. I spent like 24 hours and built a website and said, “I’m open for business. Let’s do this.”

Lance Cummins: That business lasted exactly two years because I had no idea how to run a business, but it got my interest in all things web, so learned a ton. I was actually building like ASP custom shopping carts, all this crazy stuff that I don’t even know how to do now. I’ve forgotten everything. It was a lot of fun.

Lance Cummins: I got a real job. Well, I got somebody else paying me, at least, for a little while. This is where my story gets crazy. So I actually got involved being a music pastor at a church in Georgia. I then moved my family to Kansas to be a music guy out there. We did that for six years, and then we decided we would move to Boston because … This is where my marketer brain kicked in. I was like, “There are not a lot of the type of church that we are at out there in Boston. Let’s go out there and start one.”

Lance Cummins: So I literally moved my family, my three kids and my wife and I, to Boston. We didn’t know anybody. I didn’t do like the … I don’t know if you know anything about how people normally start churches, but they raise all this money and do all this crazy stuff. I didn’t do any of that. I was just like, “Let’s see what happens. This is going to be a great adventure.” So we moved out there and I expected to find a job. I was just going to get hired somewhere. Well, I didn’t really think about it. Your resume looks a little odd when you’ve been in church work for like 12 years, so nobody hired me, and I thought, “Oh, I guess I need to start my own business again.”

Lance Cummins: So I, man, I just quickly brushed up on what I remembered. I did a ton of crash course learning, started building websites, and then I realized, there’s this moment when you build a website after you have the design usually, you say to the client, “Hey, can you just send over the copy for the website?” And then there’s this big panic moment because they don’t know what to write, and so I started doing that, and that’s when I realized there was a big opportunity in content, all that good stuff. So that was 2010.

John Jantsch: Awesome. So I built maybe a dozen websites in FrontPage.

Lance Cummins: Okay. Yeah.

John Jantsch: Microsoft builder that … One of the early ones on there, and it just, it scares me to think about that now.

Lance Cummins: That was pretty sweet. Like that was the first time you could use templates because otherwise you were coding in straight up HTML in text editor.

John Jantsch: So I got to know, what’s in the name? What’s up with Nectafy?

Lance Cummins: All right. So, in full disclosure, you mentioned about your name, Duct Tape Marketing, when you and I were offline a second ago. So I actually named my company … You’re going to laugh at me now … Nearly Freelance, because you know, my name’s Lance. Yeah, there’s too many things going on there. And after two years I’m like, “I need something different. I’m tired of people calling me freelance, almost free, completely free.” So we lived in Boston. I love the Boston accent. It’s still one of my favorite things about Boston, and my neighbor Kyle, he’d come over, and he had the strongest Boston accent. And so I loved that, and then I loved the concept in nature, this whole thing with how nectar works is really crazy to me because basically plants are producing stuff that all the little bugs and the bees love, right? They fly in and grab it, and meanwhile pick up whatever pollen the flower has and spread it. And so this is about necta. Yeah, [inaudible 00:05:27] little Boston accent. Nectafy. I don’t know. It’s lame.

John Jantsch: Well, it’s one of those things that is meant to be memorable, but I’m sure I’m not the first person that’s asked you, “What’s with the name?” All right. You are billed as a growth content company. I know this is going to sound like a stupid question, but how would you define what content is today for marketers?

Lance Cummins: Yeah. So I mean, content, as far as I can tell, for marketers, is literally anything that you put out that’s I think particularly designed to educate, entertain, inspire, not necessarily directly sell. That’s what differentiates us from just advertising. What do you think?

John Jantsch: Yeah. Well, I mean, that’s the thing. I think it’s a fine line. I almost have come to say any way in which you communicate is some form of content. Video, email, audio, even sales copy that is meant to sell. I mean, in a lot of ways, I think that collectively is content. Well, let me ask you this. In the time that you’ve had your company, how do you feel like it’s … How has the role of content changed in your view?

Lance Cummins: I think content has gone through some interesting developments, let’s say. So you know, 10 … What was it, 10, 12 years ago, HubSpot really kind of popularized this inbound marketing thing, which it wasn’t new, it’s just they put a term around it, and that was sort of the wave that we started to ride. But we realized pretty quickly that what happened is there was a lot of emphasis on the tactics of inbound marketing, and a failure to recognize that without genuine human quality to what you write and a connection, it’s just crap. I mean, it doesn’t matter if you get somebody to the site. If what they read isn’t something that makes them really be glad they found that, it’s a waste.

Lance Cummins: And so to me that’s one of the big iterations that’s happened with content is that it went from this game where you play and you try to beat Google and trick them to get somebody to your site, and you forget like this is a human on the other end reading this. This is so strange that you would game somebody to become a client.

Lance Cummins: So, for us, the evolution is content now, a computer can generate most of the content that inbound marketers used to just regurgitate constantly, and so this is about, how do we as humans tell a human story? How do we explain something so that … The litmus test for us is if your ideal customer, we call them personas like other geeky marketers, is if when they see that piece of content, they’re glad they found it. Simple test. For us, that’s how it’s changed.

John Jantsch: Yeah. And I think that in the early days it was sort of novel that people had content, and obviously like you said, the search engines didn’t have as much content to chew through so they would surface your content. It was actually a pretty easy game in some ways, and I think that, even on the recipient side, the behavior of consuming content was in its early stages, and so the expectation wasn’t there. People weren’t deluged with it, and so I think what’s happened now is, because it’s become an absolute significant part of the buyer’s journey … I mean, people aren’t buying today without content and without a journey that’s led by that content, that, as you just said, the bar is just so significantly higher than it was. I think you can say that for all the tactics. I mean, email marketing used to be really easy. A lot of people in the early days of social media, it was pretty much an easy game to try to attract people. So, I think the role has changed as much as anything because of the expectation of the buyer, I think.

Lance Cummins: That’s a really good point. Yeah. The thing too that we’ve seen is when people … Because they’re better at it, because customers are better at it, they can identify when it’s poorly done a lot more quickly. Right?

John Jantsch: Yeah. Yeah, and I think that’s the … not that there’s strict divisions for generations, but you look at millennials particularly as a buying group, and because I happen to be a parent of several, I know this behavior quite well. They’ll go to a website and they’ll bounce off of that in a couple of seconds if it doesn’t act like they think it should act, and I think that’s what marketers are up against, whether they know it or not.

Lance Cummins: John, that’s actually how I selected my accounting software back when I started my company, which is pathetic. That’s a terrible reason to choose accounting software. I got to the website and I went, “Yeah, I like this. I’m going to use their software.”

John Jantsch: I’m going to guess it’s FreshBooks.

Lance Cummins: I actually use Xero out of New Zealand.

John Jantsch: Oh, Xero? Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

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John Jantsch: We just talked about what content is, the role of content, how it’s changed. You defined something called growth content as being kind of different than maybe the inbound marketing approach. So you want to elaborate on that?

Lance Cummins: Yeah, absolutely. So it was sort of a response to what we were seeing. We were using the phrase inbound marketing an awful lot, and because HubSpot’s fantastic at recruiting people and recruiting companies in all walks of life, suddenly there’s all these people talking about inbound marketing this and inbound marketing that, and it’s like, “Oh, boy, this is all messed up.” And so we really thought like, “Let’s just think about what we’re really, really good at, what we think really makes a difference in the marketplace, and then let’s figure out what identifies that.”

Lance Cummins: So for us, we decided to call it growth content because it is content specifically designed to grow organic traffic. So we, for instance, don’t necessarily write … We don’t write like narrative pieces on a website. We don’t write just great stories, even though perhaps for some brands that would be a worthwhile effort. That’s just not what we do. So really, it’s like old-school SEO, although we never use those letters ever. I’ll have to go wash my mouth out with soap after this interview. Old-school SEO with really genuine, high quality content that’s created with subject matter expert interviews, but everything is around growth. So like when we’re creating the calendars, this is designed for growth. If it’s not designed for growth, we’re not going to do it. That’s where we kind of married those two words together.

John Jantsch: Well, where’s the separation between growth and just awareness? Is awareness just a step? I mean, because again, a lot of times the first thing we have to do is let somebody know we’re out there or that we understand what their problem is. Is that growth or is that before growth?

Lance Cummins: Yeah, that’s a great question. So for us, to geek out a little bit about the buyer journey, right? That top of the funnel is an awareness stage. So for us, that content is vital, and it probably just serves an awareness function, but awareness is the leading indicator of growth, so we definitely write stuff around that.

John Jantsch: There are many types of content that people can consume, and maybe in some cases their preferred method to consume content. I know when my books come out, for whatever reason, the audio book is a few weeks later or a few months later, and I always hear from people. It’s like, “I only listen to audio books. When’s it coming out?” Are there forms of content that you would say today people need to be doing more of, like audio or video for example?

Lance Cummins: Yeah. So it really depends on your audience, right? Like you kind of alluded to that a minute ago. For our clients, they’re all what we call brainiac B2B clients, which basically means they have a complex product or service. Their persona may or may not be technical. So each one of those, first of all, we just look at like, how do they consume stuff? Right? For a lot of people, ironically, in 2020, it’s still written, which just feels very arcane, but still effective. For younger demographics, you’re getting into video, explanation of what’s even on the page. Like let’s just watch this video instead of reading the two paragraphs, which blows my mind because I’m not that demographic. Then there’s the thing coming that I think is really cool and it’s kind of the marriage of several of these ideas, and basically it’s like the revival of radio, much like we’re doing here with podcasts, right? Is audio content on your website, basically audio content on demand for every type of article that you can do. So I’m familiar with companies that are spinning up content that then you can add it into custom podcast playlists to listen to on the ride home and to work and so forth. Like that’s really a really cool idea and another way to get your content in front of people that I think really marries pretty well with where things are headed.

John Jantsch: Yeah. I’ve been such a proponent of the audio content. In fact, I wrote my obligatory trends for every year post, and I put audio content on there as a trend. That sounds sort of absurd. I’ve been podcasting since 2005, how’s that a trend? But I think what you just mentioned is people, like a lot of things, they saw it as a podcast, as like, that was a thing, but a podcast is nothing more than audio content. I think now people are just finding ways to distribute audio content, and to me, the beauty of it is the portability, like you just mentioned. For me, videos, I can’t sit still in front of a monitor and watch something for 20, 30, 40 minutes, but I could put it in my head and go walk for 20 or 40 minutes, and I think that that’s what … to me, that’s one of the great appeals of audio content.

Lance Cummins: Yeah, I love that. I think it’s also interesting, a friend of mine pointed out that audio content, especially in mass distribution, so like think Kmart Bluelight Special, “Attention, shoppers,” basically that audio content is really coming back into effectiveness because everybody’s face is buried in their own device. The only way to get their attention in mass would be through sound, and I think that’s a pretty interesting assessment.

John Jantsch: So you have a little side hustle that, if people were … This is just an audio-only podcast, as listeners know, but I do record with video too, and Lance has a nice little background behind him because we’re all on these video chats in these interviews and things like Zoom and Skype and different platforms. So you want to talk a little bit about that idea?

Lance Cummins: Sure. So when we started Nectafy, we hired remote team members, and that wasn’t necessarily on purpose that I set out to build a remote company, but that’s what we have, and we love it, and so we also use Zoom for everything, for video calls with all of our clients. I use it for all my sales stuff, marketing stuff. And I realized, “Man, we got to do something about how we present ourselves as a team. Like I just want to present a professional look. It doesn’t have to be formal or scary or anything. It just needs to be consistent.”

Lance Cummins: So I started like, I bought some pipe and drape, I did the video backgrounds you can use for video, photography. I bought all this stuff and sent it to my team, and they would use it for a little bit and then stop using it because they go, “Man, this is just super inconvenient. It doesn’t fit in my room. This is bigger than my room,” all this great stuff.

Lance Cummins: So I’m like, “Okay, there has to be something.” I couldn’t find anything, so I said, “DIY guy, I’m going to figure out a way to build this myself,” and came up with some ideas, and then I realized, “Oh, my, this is something that people could actually use because it’s tailored for remote workers doing video stuff. It’s just the right size, no bigger, fold it down.” So we started a company called Anyvoo. It doesn’t mean anything. My daughter helped me name it. And so the whole idea is that these are portable backdrops that are branded, can break down into a … it ends up being in a 6 x 6 x 26 inch long thing, portable. We’re actually in prototype phase right now. We’re shipping them that … They don’t break down all the way. They’re still kind of a little bit bigger, but we’re getting a lot of great feedback right now. You can go look at and kind of see what we’re doing. If you’re interested in participating in that, you can just fill out the contact form or send me an email.

Lance Cummins: My kids and I are doing this, so this is part of what makes it fun. In fact, my daughter, we’re actually at Anyvoo right now. I zoomed out so you could see the edge of the drop and all this. My daughter’s back there helping me sew. My son helps assemble these things. We’re learning about business together, so it’s been a lot of fun.

John Jantsch: Yeah, that is awesome. It kind of reminds me of the old projector screen that you’d bring in and kind of pop up, kind of the school size, not the giant thing. All right, so Lance, tell people how they can find out more about Nectafy and then obviously Anyvoo as well. And I hope you have your kids designing that website for Anyvoo too.

Lance Cummins: That’s right. We’ve got something up there going. So is our growth content company. That’s if you’re a brainiac B2B company, you sell a complex product or service, and you’re trying to actually grow your leads and traffic with really high quality content in pretty complex areas. That’s is if you’re a remote worker and you want to really present yourself professionally on video, get one of these drops. We’re in prototype phase, so if you mention this and you send me an email,, I’ll send you a coupon code so you can get it really cheap since it’s in prototype phase, and give me some feedback. We’d love to build one for you.

John Jantsch: Awesome. Well, Lance, thanks for coming, sharing your journey and about your various ventures, and hopefully we’ll run into you soon out there on the road.

Lance Cummins: Thanks so much, John. I really appreciate it. It’s been fun talking with you.

Creating Online Courses That Work for Your Students and Your Business

Creating Online Courses That Work for Your Students and Your Business written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with Justin Ferriman
Podcast Transcript

Justin Ferriman headshotToday on the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I sit down with Justin Ferriman, co-founder and CEO of the learning management system LearnDash.

Ferriman became interested in learning management systems (LMS) when he was doing some research for a consulting engagement that he had, and he discovered that there wasn’t an easy-to-use open source LMS.

Today, people are looking for flexibility and ease of use when it comes to creating online courses. LearnDash is a WordPress plugin, which makes it a highly accessible option for those who have WordPress sites.

Today on the podcast, we discuss all the ins and outs of online learning. From how you can utilize it in your business, regardless of your industry, to the best tactics for creating courses that actually inspire your students to take action, Ferriman shares all his insider knowledge.

Questions I ask Justin Ferriman:

  • Where are we in the state of online learning?
  • When it comes to online courses, where do most people get it wrong?
  • Should most companies be thinking about courses, even if they don’t think of themselves as a training company?

What you’ll learn if you give a listen:

  • What a crowded online learning marketplace means for those who are looking to stand out in the space.
  • How to help your students take that final step towards implementing what they learned from your course.
  • How to handle the technical side of a learning management system.

Key takeaways from the episode and more about Justin Ferriman:

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

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Transcript of Creating Online Courses That Work for Your Students and Your Business

Transcript of Creating Online Courses That Work for Your Students and Your Business 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 Justin Ferriman. He is the co-founder of a learning management software called LearnDash, which is a WordPress plugin that we’ve used and continue to use on a number of our courses. I thought it would be great to talk about the state of online learning. Justin, thanks for joining me.

Justin Ferriman: Thanks so much for having me here, John. I’ve been a fan of yours for quite some time.

John Jantsch: Well, thank you. Let me just ask you the big global question. Where are we and I know you’ve been in this space for a while and I know you study it. Is it waning? Is it growing? Is it changing? How would you describe what’s going on in terms of online learning?

Justin Ferriman: Yeah, certainly. Well, it’s growing. I think most people can probably see that just as they go on the internet and everybody’s offering a course, be it a formal institution, now they’re getting towards online courses as a offering for students and also entrepreneurs and folks like yourself who have online courses. The industry as a whole is growing. It is getting a little bit more challenging now in different ways and more so for keeping somebody’s attention, keeping a learner’s attention and keeping them engaged and interested. Gone are the days where you could just kind of put up a video on a webpage and think that that would get the job done. It used to, but not so much anymore.

John Jantsch: Yeah, no, I certainly remember that. But now you see so many people rushing online to produce courses and every consultant is teaching people to create courses. Now you have, as you said, I mean you’ve got the Udemys and the LinkedIn Learning platforms that are, in some ways, I think democratizing course production and creation and consumption because it’s gotten sort of so darn inexpensive as well. The 799 course better be pretty darn unique and pretty full of some stuff. Let me ask you first where do you see most people? I hate to start on a negative, but let’s clear this part up. Where do you see most people getting it wrong?

Justin Ferriman: I think, maybe I’ll make an analogy. It would be the better thing to do for this question, and remember a number of years ago where everybody was getting this advice that they should create an ebook or have an ebook on their site and have a download. That used to be enough to differentiate. You could have an ebook. People would go, Oh wow, that’s really cool. They would download it or purchase it. Then everybody had an ebook. You kind of alluded to the fact that there’s all these different places to have courses. LinkedIn, Udemy and all that. Everybody’s got a course. So, how are you going to differentiate it? I think that if somebody’s selling a course, I’m going to speak from strictly someone that wants to monetize their knowledge. If they’re selling a course, the biggest mistake I see is they think that just creating a course and putting a price on it is going to be enough now. Creating the course is important to put your energy there, but you should also have as much energy, maybe even more going into the differentiation and knowing your market and how you’re going to stand out and what’s your message and how is it more laser-focused than something broad, broad on a certain topic like marketing. Okay. So that’s not going to cut it anymore.

John Jantsch: I’ve produced courses for years, as soon as it was something that was doable. As soon as some of the first membership plugins came along. What always frustrated me was people would start with good intentions and they would never take action on the stuff that they’d learned. I’d follow up with people, “Hey, okay, you went through this, you consumed this, what have you done?” Maybe this is just the human condition that we can’t solve. But you know, why don’t people take action on the stuff they learn sometimes?

Justin Ferriman: Yeah. I wish I had an answer for that. But you’re not wrong. What you observed just for your own courses is actually what plagues the online learning industry in general. I think I’ve heard, there are some studies that have been done with formal education like universities and their completion rates are abysmal when you compare online students to the ones that show up that go to class and have to be there in person. So, that is a trend that we see. I think to counteract that, that’s when you see features like gamification and the points in the badges. Just trying to keep people entertained to some degree. Those touch points, the fact that you are reaching out directly with folks is huge because that probably did keep people invested longer than if you just set up something and set it and forget it and then don’t ever follow up.

John Jantsch: How important do you think that, just on that point, a hybrid course. So in other words the training’s there, but it comes with a coach or it comes with an instructor who is going to contextualize it, maybe personalize it and maybe give you feedback. Is that an element that you think is where we have to go now to kind of stand out a little bit?

Justin Ferriman: Yeah, absolutely. You hit the nail on the head. I think people are seeing that now that they can put out the content, but if you have that, it’s a blended learning approach, right? You have some interaction, be it with a webinar or even it can be like a forum or a Facebook group. Those are huge, now. Facebook groups are kind of that attempting to close the loop between the material, getting the material and then seeing that other people are doing it is kind of social proof, but then also having other people to talk to about it, about implementing the material. That’s that last part that everybody drops off or traditionally they have. That blended learning approach, you’re seeing folks now have conferences attached to their courses maybe once a year, be it online or in person. I think those are the courses that are most successful. I know that you are friends with Troy Dean and he’s got very successful courses because he does do that. He’s very in touch with as learners and his user base and he’s constantly interacting with them, not just giving them course material.

John Jantsch: Yeah, and I think a lot of course creators and instructors have learned that it’s gotten harder to sell courses just blank to people. I think a lot of purchasers have bought, they bought 10 courses they did nothing with, so I’m not going to give the 399 for another course that’s just going to sit there on my hard drive. I think that that idea of, okay, I might pay more for this, but I know I’ll at least get some results if it has that blended learning idea.

Justin Ferriman: Yeah, you’re right I think, and you know this better than anybody, but when you’re selling somebody a course, you’re not selling them the material of the course. You’re selling them the results of whatever that course is teaching. If somebody is looking to buy the course and they see that there’s these actual touch points with the instructor or with coaches or what have you, then they’re going to feel like the result that you are selling them, they’re going to feel like, okay, I can obtain that because I have this extra help. It’s not all on me.

John Jantsch: I know that I’ve seen either you personally or certainly from LearnDash, this concept of story boarding a course almost like you would do an ad back in the day or a video. But you’re talking about actually story boarding the entire flow of the course. I think a lot of people probably do just jump in and go, okay, what’s the lesson one going to be? Maybe unpack that idea, that practice of story boarding a whole course. Explain that if you would.

Justin Ferriman: Yeah, absolutely. It’s kind of funny you bring that up. Actually that whole concept and my allegiance to that concept comes from my life prior to LearnDash, I was in e-learning consultant setting up these programs for a big name companies, Fortune 500s, the US government, et cetera. There was no way that they would let us just start creating courses without story boarding them and getting them approved. This was actually a good exercise because before we got into the tech, which I think is what people make the mistake as they get the tech, because it’s the shiny bells and whistles and it’s really exciting and fun. But before you even get to that, you can open up a Word document. We did it in Microsoft Word or sometimes PowerPoint and we would just start mapping out the structure of the course, the sections, the lessons, how are we going to splice those lessons up.

Justin Ferriman: We call them topics and then checkpoint quizzes and quizzes and assignments if that was relevant and you just start. You don’t have to fill that slide with exactly what you’re going to teach. But you just start going through what you want to cover and making sure that these key points of whatever your topic is, are getting addressed. Then it helps you create a flow, whatever’s in your head. Sometimes it just makes more sense because you’re seeing the final product. But when you actually say, “Okay, we’re going to spend five minutes on this particular topic. Oh shoot, I don’t have five minutes of material.” Then you start thinking more through it. I think that’s a lost art to some degree because like I said, when you’re going looking at software, what are you going to use? Whether it’s LearnDash or something else and you’ll see it being demoed and you’re super excited because you’re like, wow that looks really cool. I can have that right away. People want to jump right in and start tinkering. The story boarding kind of gets put on the wayside. I’m a fan of it. You should take the time to map out your journey for your students.

John Jantsch: Well and I think that going back to sort of traditional academic principles, it also to me starts kind of with what do I want the learner to achieve here? Not like, what am I going to teach? It’s like what are they going to be able to do because of this? I think sometimes if you start there, you might actually create something that’s more useful.

Justin Ferriman: Yeah. You can even start your lesson by saying, “At the end of this lesson you are going to be able to …” That’s a good way to start things out. Now you have to fulfill that promise. As you create your content, you go back to that statement. Am I fulfilling that promise statement at the beginning of the lesson?

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John Jantsch: You mentioned a couple but are there some tried and true practices? The bad thing about this is as the space evolves the tried and true practices stop working too. But are there some tried and true practices for creating more engagement as a general rule? These are kind of like table stakes now.

Justin Ferriman: Yeah, there’s some things that you can definitely do and that can be as simple as, I know a lot of people think engagement, like gamification, which definitely is one. For those that are listening that don’t know what gamification is, it’s when you’re completing different tasks, be it a lesson in a course, maybe you get a badge or some points. Those can be exchanged later on or maybe they’re put on your profile. But before you do any of that, some simple engagement things can just be content variation with the delivery. A lot of times people, if they’re in the videos and do video after video after video after video, I mean at some point you’ve got to stimulate a different part of the brain, break it up with a quiz. Maybe you just have some text now. Maybe you’ve got some kind of drag and drop exercise. Maybe an exercise that people step away and they have to upload something and then go post in a forum. Get people engaging more with the content, with different parts of their brain than just watching, because they’re going to forget most things anyway.

John Jantsch: Yeah, yeah, yeah. You’re right. I mean there are definitely, I’ve seen the course where somebody is able to do three hours of material at one time and break it up into five minute videos. They’ve got a giant program.

Justin Ferriman: Yeah, that’s true.

John Jantsch: Do you think that that everyone needs, and again, that’s really broad. Should most companies be thinking about courses even if they don’t think of themselves as a training company? I guess what I’m saying is, the traditional sense is that I sell a course because it’s part of my coaching program or you know, whatever. But like, would a remodeling contractor benefit from a training program for employees?

Justin Ferriman: Yes. The short answer to that is yes. I think if you’re selling courses, I mean you can sell courses or you can give them away for free as like a lead gen. I’ll give you an example of somebody that was in a completely unrelated field that I was talking to him. I went to go get a new suit and this place, they did do some custom suits and they had some suits there. I’m talking to the owner and he was telling me about his business, very successful guy, really likable. He asked me what I did and I explained, “I own a software company that makes it easy to create and sell online courses.” He started asking about it and I was like, “You should create a course. like how to pick the right suit for you. It’s a free course. People can register, you get their email, you get their contact information, now you can market to them, but you’re giving them something of value.”

Justin Ferriman: Now there is a company or a business that probably wouldn’t think about courses, but he latched onto that idea and I should probably follow up, see if he, he’s probably a busy guy. I don’t know if he did it, but that would be an example of what a course would be good for a B to C that maybe isn’t traditionally with courses. Now, to your point with courses and training and onboarding, every company should do it with online courses because employees can go back and reference that material. In fact, we have a lot of use cases of people using LearnDash that it doesn’t seem as cool. They’re not selling all these courses, but they trained their entire staff, new employees, existing employees with these online courses. That’s an asset for them.

John Jantsch: Yeah. As I hear you talk about that, anybody who sells, particularly sells a high end product or service, there needs to be education. The more that you can, I’ll go back to my remodeling contractor, the more that you can teach somebody, here’s all the things that go into actually remodeling a kitchen. Here’s how to consider what appliances to pick out. I mean, I think that would be a great course for somebody that’s selling $50,000 kitchens.

Justin Ferriman: Yeah, absolutely. Even to the point of, I think, not necessarily selling it. You’re an expertise in remodeling kitchens or whatever. You create the best course on that and you just give it away. Then somebody is going to take the course and there might be a small percentage of say, “Okay, I can do this now with this material.” But there’s probably going to be a large people that would be like, “Can I just hire you to do it?” Then there you go because you just proving you are an expert because you have the best course on it.

John Jantsch: Yeah. Yeah. I think that it does, that’s another element of it. It raises the bar because everybody else in the industry has got the schlocky websites still and now you’re basically training people. It kind of raises your brand I think. All right. We do have to eventually talk about the technology. Walk us through, what does somebody need to be thinking about? Obviously they need to have a website or someplace that there is the home for it. But what are all the moving parts in making a learning management system and signing people up and giving them access? What are all the moving parts?

Justin Ferriman: The LMS space or learning management system is enormous and there’s so many options out there. Naturally, I’m partial towards WordPress because it’s open source and allows you to kind of customize a learning program with LearnDash kind of at the helm. Then you can add to it based on what your unique needs are. But without making it like a pitch or anything for LearnDash, let’s just look at it from a high level. What are some things you should consider when choosing an LMS from the tech standpoint? One would be try to avoid lock-in, vendor lock-in. LMSs, by their nature can be very sticky. Meaning once you’re in, sometimes you’re in there for a long time and that’s even true from a LearnDash standpoint though, much, much less than if you’re with a hosted platform.

Justin Ferriman: That would be number one is getting something that is going to allow you to easily kind of move that content somewhere else if you want to. Secondly, I would say try to find something that branches, out has an API. Maybe Zapier. I mean if they have Zapier, great, then you’re not going to be stuck with whatever internal tool that they use. Now I’ll give an example because this is something that I think we all as people wish there was that all in one product. I mean that’s something we’ve been selling to ourselves since the 50s with the blenders and everything. We wish that was out there. It doesn’t exist for a reason. What happens, I’ve seen this in LMS space, I’ve seen it in other tech stacks as well, is somebody chooses an LMS because like, “Oh, they can do the lessons and the courses and the quizzes. Okay great. But they can also do my email and my touchpoints and my forums and my …”

Justin Ferriman: Then it just, it piles on and on. It sounds good on the surface, but if that company’s focusing on all those very unique disciplines, it’s not going to turn out too well. I would say at a high level, try to avoid any kind of lock in whatever tool you’re using and then make sure it’s flexible. Rather than the API talk, is it flexible? Can you use other tools as you grow? Because here’s one thing I do know for certain, if you have a course or you have a learning program, and you can probably attest to this, it looks different. It will look different a year from now than it does today because your learners are going to have more demands. You’re going to want to meet those demands and you want to offer more things. If you’re stuck, pigeonholed, you can’t do that. Your business, your learning program, cannot not grow and therefore your business can’t.

John Jantsch: Tell us about where people can find out about LearnDash and feel free to kind of talk about why you think you’ve hit on a unique space or unique place in the LMS space.

Justin Ferriman: Yeah, certainly. is the best place to go. We have a great demo site, so I would just say go to the demo site. One of the courses on there, it’s free to take, just sign up. It walks through how to set up like a LearnDash course, your first course. We call it the bootcamp. It’s the same training materials that are actually in the software, so when you get it and install it, you’d have access to that. But it’s kind of a cool way to see behind the scenes and see if it’s something that registers or clicks with you. The reason I think that LearnDash is gaining popularity and is still around after all these years actually is just the fact that WordPress is growing as well. I mean, what is it, 33% now of all websites are on WordPress. It’s open source, which means pretty much any developer can help you out if you get to a point where you feel like you need a developer.

Justin Ferriman: But besides that, there’s all the plugins and the themes and that whole ecosystem where you can tinker and get exactly what you need. It kind of hearkens back to the whole reason that LearnDash started is I was doing some research for my consulting engagement that I had on an LMS and I was going through the usual players. I just kind of wondered if there was an open source one besides Moodle, which people that are out there that happen to know Moodle, it’s a bear. There wasn’t anything on WordPress at the time, which is what prompted, this was back in 2012. This is what prompted the whole project. I think we’re seeing that people want that flexibility for learning programs that grow. There’s no more of these big behemoth LMSs that cost tens of thousands of dollars a year. I mean, they still are there, believe me, but they’re not needed. If you’re looking for something that’s flexible, pretty easy to just jump right in, it has a community behind it, has been here for a long time and has big names trusting it in the WordPress space, then LearnDash is the go to.

John Jantsch: Yeah. I think that idea of, of having the extendability, I mean, even within the LearnDash environment, there are people that are building extensions of LearnDash.

Justin Ferriman: Yeah. It’s pretty funny how that works. I think some of the coolest things I’ve seen are folks that are creating just full blown mobile apps off of LearnDash. I mean, that’s pretty incredible.

John Jantsch: Yeah, that is. I’ll have to look into that myself. That sounds interesting. Awesome. Well, Justin, thanks so much for stopping by the Duct Tape Marketing podcast and talking a little bit about online learning and LearnDash and hopefully we’ll run into you soon someday out there on the road.

Justin Ferriman: Oh, thanks so much, John. It was a pleasure.

Leveraging Thought Leadership – The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur

Leveraging Thought Leadership – The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

John Jantsch visits with Peter Winick on the Leveraging Thought Leadership podcast to discuss his latest book, The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur.

Jantsch is well-known in marketing circles for his small business marketing expertise. He’s written five books in that space, but this latest book is a major departure. The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur is much more of a spiritual why-to for entrepreneurs who are looking to shift their mindset and find meaning in their work and life.

Jantsch shares his experience of writing this new book and having to market the book (as a marketer) beyond the bounds of the industry he’s most closely tied to. While it certainly represented a risk, as he could have alienated his core tribe, Jantsch feels passionately about the link between your business life and your personal life and wanted to write the book he wishes he had to help guide his own entrepreneurial journey.

On this podcast, he talks about the process of writing and marketing the latest book, shares some insights into the world of public speaking (another side of his business), and talks about how he’s expanding into new product offerings within his core business this year.

Listen: John Jantsch on the Leveraging Thought Leadership podcast

Focusing on Gratitude to Build Relationships

Focusing on Gratitude to Build Relationships written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with Chris Schembra
Podcast Transcript

Chris Schembra headshotMy guest on this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is Chris Schembra. He’s the founder of the 7:47 Club and the author of Gratitude and Pasta: The Secret Sauce for Human Connection.

Schembra began his career as a Broadway producer, but after returning from a business trip to Europe, he found himself missing true fulfillment from his work in the theater world.

He started out on a quest to build deeper connections for himself, and along the way discovered the important link between gratitude and forging interpersonal connections. It’s what led him to found the 7:47 Club, where he helps organizations show appreciation for their clients, colleagues, and partners through their signature dinner series.

His book, Gratitude and Pasta, is based around the same idea: that when we bring people together to talk about what really matters to them in life—and what they’re most grateful for—we take steps towards building lasting relationships that pay dividends on both a personal and professional level.

On this episode of the podcast, we discuss the link between gratitude and relationship-building, and Schembra shares how you can create a dinner party experience of your own.

Questions I ask Chris Schembra:

  • How intentional was the creation of 7:47 Club?
  • Why has gratitude become a part of the dialogue in the business world?
  • What are the three acts to throwing a gratitude dinner party?

What you’ll learn if you give a listen:

  • Why EQ, not just IQ, is a critical skill in business.
  • Why intention matters when building relationships.
  • Why gratitude dinners will not be the right fit for everyone.

Key takeaways from the episode and more about Chris Schembra:

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

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