Monthly Archives: February 2024

Unlocking Your Leadership Potential: From Hero to Human Leader with Empathy

Unlocking Your Leadership Potential: From Hero to Human Leader with Empathy written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

The Duct Tape Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch

In this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I interviewed Hortense le Gentil, a world-renowned executive leadership coach, speaker, and author. With over 30 years of experience across various industries, including media consulting and advertising, Hortense guides CEOs and senior executives on their journey from hero leaders to human leaders.

Key Takeaways

Join Hortense le Gentil on a transformative journey as she discusses the evolution of leadership in today’s world. Learn to identify and overcome mental obstacles, embrace authenticity and vulnerability, and lead with empathy. Gain actionable insights into unlocking your true leadership potential and thriving in both your personal and professional life. Whether you’re a seasoned executive or an aspiring leader, Hortense’s expertise will empower you to inspire and connect with others on a deeper level, driving sustainable growth and success in today’s rapidly changing landscape.


Questions I ask Hortense le Gentil:

[01:08] What is a mind trap and how does it impact us?

[02:06] How is a mind trap different from a limiting belief?

[02:48] Tell us the personal case study of when you were stuck 15 years ago?

[04:46] What do you do when you can’t trust that inner voice?

[06:41] Explain the concept of transforming from a hero leader to a human leader ?

[08:58] What does the process of unlocking yourself as a human leader look like?

[13:54] How does a leader help their team adjust to their embracing empathy?

[16:25] Is there a level of self awareness needed to embrace empathy as a leader?

[16:56] Do you get some pushback from experienced leaders who deny the relevancy of developing their consciousness?

[17:47] What is the one tip you have for beginners looking to start unlocking their leadership potential?

[18:45] Where can people connect with you, learn more about your work and pick a copy of your book?


More About Hortense le Gentil:


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

Connect with John Jantsch on LinkedIn


This episode of The Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by Work Better Now

Visit mention the referral code DTM Podcast and get $150 off for your first 3 months.


John (00:08): Hello and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch, and my guest today is Hortense le Gentil. She’s a world renowned executive leadership coach, speaker and author. She guides CEOs and senior executives on their journey. From hero leaders to human leaders guided by 30 years in business, working across industries, including media consulting and advertising. And as an entrepreneur, she’s the author of a book we’re going to talk about today, the Unlocked Leader, dare to Free Your Own Voice, lead with Empathy, and shine your light in the world. So Hortense Bienvenue.

Hortense (00:49): Thank you for having John. Happy here.

John (00:52): That’s all of the French that I’m going to attempt today, but I nailed that one, didn’t I?

Hortense (00:57): Oh, you did great. You just love this one.

John (01:01): Alright, so in the book there is a concept called you call Mind Traps. That’s a big part of the book. So let’s start there and let’s define what a mind trap is and how it impacts us.

Hortense (01:14): I’d like to say that the mind trap is, it’s a mental obstacle that is on your way to move forward. This is something that holds you back. It can be something that you used to be, for example, like I used to be perfect or to try to reach perfection. It was a driver for me, but now I feel like it doesn’t work anymore. So when you feel like something is hold you back, holds you back, and you can even feel unhappy and satisfied, you cannot be completely yourself and journeys happen to everyone. I dunno if it happened to you, but every moment, a lot of moment in our life, it happened to us and it happened to me and I remember it was more than 15 years ago.

John (02:04): So let’s get into that. But I want to clarify how is that different than excuse, than a limiting belief? I’m not good enough to lead or something. How is it different from that?

Hortense (02:14): So let’s say that can be cousin. They can be cousin because mine trap is really for me, it’s where you are stuck. So limiting belief when you think I’m not enough, for example, yes, that could be because this is a consequence, let’s say because you are trapped somewhere and then you begin to think, okay, why do I think like that? What is behind that? The scene. So behind the scene you will find the real reason, and this is what I call the mind trap.

John (02:48): So let’s use your example that you were starting to bring up there from 15 years ago to maybe even help clarify that further.

Hortense (02:54): Okay, yes, no, I just wanted to explain that. 15 years ago I felt completely lost and stuck in my life, personal life and professional life. And then I was lost, John, I didn’t know what to do. And then of course everything went south and I went stuck in bed for months. So I had plenty of time to think. And then at that time I had the dream. I had the dream. And my grandmother, it was a grandmother that I just loved and she came back in my dream and she told me something very simple. She told me, you have to find the bus of roses. And I had no idea it was a pass of roses. So I asked her in my dream and I said, okay, where is that and where is it? Because more important, where is it? I want to find the rose.

(03:46): And she said, you just look at me and smile. And she said, you know where it is. And then I woke up. Of course I was furious. She didn’t give me the answer, but I will understand later what she meant was very important. She meant that I had to listen to my inner voice. And very often this is why we are stuck somewhere because we are not listening our own voice. We are not confident enough because it can be risky, it can be difficult. You need to be courageous to take sometimes difficult decision. And then this is what I learned and when I began to listen to my own voice, yes I could do that. Yes, I could change my life personally and professionally. Yes, I could do that and that this is what I did and I began to free myself.

John (04:35): Alright, so what if you can’t trust that inner voice? I mean there’s a lot of things that we call an inner voice that are telling us things that aren’t together altogether positive. I mean, how do you tell the difference between yeah, that’s the right guidance as opposed to that’s just continue to keep me locked.

Hortense (04:51): Interesting. Okay, listen. So what we know, I think it’s more a feeling. So when you want to take a decision, whatever the decision is, I think we know the decision. And when it’s a hard decision to take, we need someone with who that shares this decision. And you’re looking for someone who say yes, do it. But sometimes you can wait a long time before anybody is like, I agree with you. So I will say that this voice is the one that you feel. So we all know exactly what we should do and sometimes we are not ready. But one day when you are stuck, it’s time to face that and to listen to that voice. So what do you really want to do and not the voices behind that because of course when you are stuck somewhere, you need to track the source. So who said you that, for example, who said that you cannot be a CEO, for example. I had a client like that and who said that it was a professor, it was a teacher years ago, this professor was told that young person that you will never be a CEO because I can see all the emotion on your face.

(06:12): And so it was so surprised. So we are making association because we are living with the voices that the community authority, whatever the voices around us and also our brain is cooking voices for us because we are looking for meaning. Okay, why? Yes, I should do that. No I don’t all the time. So silence,

John (06:38): I think I read it in your intro, but it certainly shows up in the book, this idea of taking people from the hero leader to the human leader. Explain that concept.

Hortense (06:49): You know that we need to free ourself from those mind trap to become human leader. And what should we become human. It’s because the world has changed and the expectation has changed. Also, people now they want to connect with you. They don’t need another hero like said, no, we don’t need another hero. We need someone with who we can relate, we can understand, we can connect. And the only way to do that is by being human, by using your secret weapon. That is the empathy. And you need that. And I think that every leader know that because a lot have been said about why we should lead with empathy. But when it comes to the how do we do that and you need courage to do it, it’s very courageous because you have to unlearn what you learned. But it’s another dimension I would say. So now you have to inspire and take care of people. It’s completely different.

John (08:00): And I think a lot of leaders fall into the trap of believing I have to have this strong front that I’m in charge of everything, I have all the answers. And that’s probably an aspect that right or wrong holds a lot of people back, doesn’t it?

Hortense (08:14): Exactly, exactly. Because we are raised like that. Your education at school, I’m sure everyone was telling you, oh don’t show your emotion, right? And how all the answer, but who has all the answer? John, tell me. Who could predict a pandemic? Who can predict every, can we say that we are living in a crazy world today, every day something happen? How can you alone have all the answer? That’s absolutely not possible.

John (08:48): So the core concept of the book of course is unlocking yourself as a leader. What does that process look like? Obviously it’s very drawn out in the book, but give us the high level. What is the process of unlocking yourself as a leader look like?

Hortense (09:01): So it’s going to this process of, okay, be aware that we are locked and okay, are we ready to start this journey? Because it’s a journey, it’s not a destination. And how we do that. So we face our fears first because we are afraid. Maybe we are used to do another way. You need to change. And then we go to, okay, where am I trap? Where I am stuck? And you track the source like who said? And then when you track the source, you found the source. Then you go to what I call the mind shift. So you change your mindset and with some questions, powerful questions you ask yourself. Okay, so you track the source and you said, is it true? Is it relevant? Is it helpful? What I’m thinking right now? And then you’re let go and then you are free yourself and you are able to write your own story.

(09:57): But maybe let me share very quickly an example. So I have this client, he was considered to be the next EO of the company. And so he went through a process in front of a panel of their leaders in order to be the next CEO. And then out of nowhere, out of the blue, his behavior changed and he became very talkative. He was talking all the time, didn’t listen, he changed completely. So he was surprised. Everybody was surprised. And of course he didn’t get the job. Then we had this conversation and he told me, I don’t know, I don’t know what happened, tto, I don’t know. I said, okay, so let’s figure out. And then revisiting his life, he remembered that years ago he had to pass an exam, not to pass an exam, it has to be in front of a panel of teachers.

(10:54): And then one of the teacher didn’t let him talk. So he was shocked. It was a trauma, one of the cos when what is behind it became a trauma. And then it was the same story that I shared before. This teacher told him, I don’t know what you’re going to do young guy, but you will never be a CEO because I can see all your emotion on your face. Young guy, very smart, begin his life thinking that you don’t have to show your emotion. And second, he was not aware. He forgots his conversation, but his unconscious didn’t. And the way the day, the first opportunity that unconscious has to remember that talk in order to not have the same situation that he had before. So going through this process of you track the source, where it’s coming from, it was coming from there. In this case there were trauma and voices.

(11:58): So they are the two main families, the source of your mind trap. So he found the source and then I asked him is the three question, is it true? Is it relevant? Is it helpful today that you cannot be a CEO and you don’t have to show your emotion? He said, no, I know. I said, okay. So we let go. So we walk on, let go. And then you begin to write your own story. What is important for you? How you want to be? Remember, how do you want to show up as a leader, what difference you want to make in the world or around you and all that? What have your values? And you begin to write your own story because you don’t. You live your own life. You don’t live the life that someone wants for you.

John (12:48): And now a word from our sponsor, work better now. Work better now provides outstanding talent from Latin America, hand matched to your business with over 40 roles across various industries, including marketing. They’re a reliable partner for consistently finding the perfect fit for your business. Simply tell them what you need and they’ll handle the rest hassle-free. We have two work better now, professionals on our team, a marketing assistant and a marketing coordinator. And we’ve been blown away by their abilities, responsiveness, and professionalism. They’ve really become an essential part of our growing team. And to top it off, each dedicated and full-time work better. Now professional is 2350 per month and there are no contracts to schedule a 15 minute consultation with a work better now rep and see how they’ll support your business growth goals, visit, work better Mention the referral code DTM podcast and you’re going to get $150 off for your first three months. That’s work better And don’t forget that DTM podcast code. So after you’ve worked with somebody or somebody goes through this process and they are embracing empathy, they are becoming maybe more human, but that’s not how their team has experienced them to date. Is that a bit jarring? It’s like, where’s the old John? Or does it just take consistency and proving that you mean it

Hortense (14:16): So good? Of course, but what I recommend very often is it’s difficult to change how people think about you. So what I always recommend is to share with your team. So at fun point you say, okay, my name is, and I want to work on being a better leader and connect better with yourself and have more empathy, whatever it is, or communicate better with you. And then your team or your environ is aware, oh, oh great, she want to change, okay. And you ask for help and say, and I need help. And then everyone wants to help you. No worries about that. And then they say, okay, so let’s do it together. Then it’s faster for two reasons. First, they’re aware that you’re doing something and they appreciate the fact that you want to be better. Then you give the tone so they can also be, okay, I can walk also to be better.

(15:17): It’s all right to not be perfect. Then you set the tone and also they help you because you are in the middle of a meeting and things like that. And after you maybe you ask for feedback and said, what feedback do you have for me? Maybe not every day, I mean, but when you feel it or when you decide and then it’s all together that you’re going to work on that. So on your side you do your homework of unlocking yourself and in fact of telling, be sure of the message and vision that you have and really who you are. Connect with yourself because empathy begin to start with yourself first. You have to connect with yourself. Who am I? What do I want? Can you really say how you are to yourself? Can you say that? Who are you? And then when you are very clear on that, because that is a personal walk, when you’re very clear on that, you’re ready to practice, you’re ready to do it. And after, again, it’s a journey. It’s not a destination. So every day we learn something and every day we evolve and then it’s, it’s wonderful because it changed everything.

John (16:25): I imagine a level of self-awareness, or at least a desire to uncover some self-awareness is really the starting point for all this, right? I mean you can’t really do that. You can’t do the work you’re talking about unless you discover some level of self-awareness. Exactly. I mean, would you say that’s accurate

Hortense (16:41): If you don’t know where to start? Yes, that’s absolutely accurate, right?

John (16:45): So a lot of the leadership I have, a lot of people have written books on leadership. I speak with people that have development programs and a lot of them really try to focus on competencies and skills. Do you get some pushback when, I mean you’re literally telling people that they have to develop their consciousness. So do you get some pushback from people that feel like, how is that relevant?

Hortense (17:08): Not that much in fact, because I think if we are honest with ourself, all of us, we know where we have to evolve and we know that part is very hard and we don’t know where to begin when to start, as I said. So no, I don’t think so. And because most of the leader that I know, they know after you need courage to come and to ask for that. So if you’re not ready, if you, but most of the leaders, they are courageous so they can do it, but it’s because you did courage.

John (17:42): Alright, so I’m going to invite people or ask you to invite people where they can connect with you. But what’s one thing, if somebody came to you and said, give me one thing I could start doing today to really unlock my leadership potential, what would that be?

Hortense (17:56): The first thing I think

John (17:57): Everybody always wants the one tip, right?

Hortense (18:00): I know. So the one tip would be, okay, reflect and do the three colon exercise in your life, personal, professional, whatever, both of them is even better. And do first colon, what do you want to keep? What is good in your life? What gives you energy? Second colon, what do you want to drop? What you drain? You don’t want that anymore. And third colon. So what do you want to add to live to your life today? And then begin your journey. What is the first step? Look at that and begin your journey to the process of maybe unlocking yourself.

John (18:41): Love it. Well, I appreciate you taking a few moments to stop by the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. Is there anywhere you’d invite people to connect with you, learn about your work, and obviously pick up a copy of The Unlocked Leader?

Hortense (18:51): So I have a website, so it’s my name, And also we can on LinkedIn, everywhere. On LinkedIn, on social Instagram. So I try to be active.

John (19:05): The book is, we’ll have a link to your website in the show notes, but the book could be purchased pretty much anywhere people purchase books. Again, I appreciate you taking a moment or dance and hopefully we’ll run into you on these days out there on the road.

From Generalist to Specialist: The Blueprint for Vertical Market Domination

From Generalist to Specialist: The Blueprint for Vertical Market Domination written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

The Duct Tape Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch

In this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I interviewed Corey Quinn, former CMO of Scorpion and now a dedicated agency coach, Corey specializes in guiding agency founders to scale with vertical market specialization. At Scorpion, he played a pivotal role in growing the agency’s revenue 8x in 5 years to a remarkable $150M. Corey is also the author of ‘Anyone, Not Everyone,’ a comprehensive guide for agency founders looking to move beyond founder-led sales. He is currently on a mission to empower 1,000 agencies to become vertical-market specialists, leveraging his extensive experience and insights.

In this episode Corey provides a comprehensive blueprint for agency founders looking to transition from being generalists to specialists in their field, paving the way for vertical market domination and sustained growth.

Key Takeaways

Corey Quinn underscores the significance of vertical market specialization in transitioning from founder-led sales to scalable growth for agencies. By honing in on a specific vertical, founders can position themselves as experts, differentiate their services, and attract ideal clients. Corey outlines actionable steps for identifying the right market, validating its potential, and building relationships with key influencers. With a focus on long-term success, agencies can leverage vertical market specialization to achieve sustainable growth and dominance within their niche.

Questions I ask Corey Quinn:

[00:57] Explain the concept of anyone, not everyone

[02:52] What is vertical market specialization and how is it different from picking a niche and getting specialized?

[05:45] How does one position themselves as the go-to agency for a specific market?

[10:00] Tell us about the strategic gifting outbound approach

[12:58] What are your favorite platforms or tools for building the ultimate list of who to target?

[15:57] How important is it to network with big names in the target industry and how is it done?

[19:24] Is it advisable to repeat the approach with other markets or stick to one?

[20:37] Where can people connect with you and grab a copy of your book

More About Corey Quinn:


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

Connect with John Jantsch on LinkedIn


This episode of The Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by ActiveCampaign

Try ActiveCampaign free for 14 days with our special offer. Sign up for a 15% discount on annual plans until Mar 31,2024. Exclusive to new customers—upgrade and grow your business with ActiveCampaign today!


John (00:08): Hello and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch. My guest today is Corey Quinn. He’s a former CEO of Scorpion and now a dedicated agency coach. He specializes in guiding agency founders to scale with vertical market specialization. At Scorpion, he played a pivotal role in growing the agency’s revenue eight x in five years to a remarkable $150 million. He’s also the author of a book we’re going to talk about today, anyone, not everyone, A comprehensive guide for agency founders looking to move beyond founder-led sales. So Corey, welcome to the show.

Corey (00:47): John, it is a real treat to be here.

John (00:51): So let’s start with the title. I find myself always doing that because authors picked every word of a title so carefully. What’s the big picture you’re trying to imply with this idea of anyone? Not everyone.

Corey (01:03): So the big promise or the transformation that I wrote the bill to really help agency founders with is this idea of escaping founder-led sales, which is a challenge that many agency founders will go through in the sort of the lifecycle of their agency. And the way that I’ve personally seen this happen, both in the work that I do as well as in dozens of other agency owners I’ve interviewed, is one way to become sort of independent of sales and also to help scale your agency is to get really clear on who you’re targeting. Not only just get clear but specialized in serving a specific vertical market. And the funny thing is that title did not come day one. It was a much different title, and it wasn’t until I was working back and forth with my editor and I was saying we were using the term, it’s like something around you could do anything but not everything type of thing. And that’s where it was born from.

John (02:07): Well, if you don’t nail this getting out of founder led sales, I mean you’ll never be able to sell the business. I mean, to me, that’s kind of job number one, isn’t it?

Corey (02:16): Correct, absolutely. And there’s a saying that I love somewhere that I think is super interesting, which is that you want to build a business that everyone wants to buy that you don’t want to sell, right? And that’s a business that probably creates the freedoms in your life as a business owners that you want to have. So a hundred percent if an acquirer is looking at your agency and you are instrumental to the growth of it, that is not as interesting of a value proposition versus otherwise.

John (02:48): So I know you go very deep into this idea of you actually, I think I read it in your vertical market specialization. How is that different from the sort of well-worn advice of pick a niche and get specialized?

Corey (03:02): Yeah, I think it’s a good question. The idea of niching down is very common. There’s a great saying, the riches are in the niches, and I think there’s a lot of truth to that. I think the challenge is that it’s today it’s a very vague idea of what does that mean exactly? Does that mean I’m targeting females between 35 and 50, who like donuts or am I targeting flight attendants or what does that exactly mean? It’s very vague. And so what I wanted to do is be much more literal and specific about when you want to scale an agency. One of the great ways to do it, it’s not the only way, but one of the great ways to do it is to specialize in a vertical market. So in a way, vertical specialization is a type of niching down by the way, you can specialize in what you do, like SEO, that’s another type of specialization. But I personally like to help agencies and I’m really obsessed with this idea of taking a vertical market approach and I really care about helping people get there.

John (04:04): So one of the challenges I think is I think a lot of people hear that advice and they’re like, okay, where’s the opportunity lawyers or dentists? And having never worked with those markets, they just charge into ’em. And sometimes it works. Sometimes they realize, I hate working with Dennis. No offense, Dennis, but how do you make sure that you’re making the right sort of decision because it is a decision to send your business down a track

Corey (04:30): A hundred percent John. And there are situations where it makes sense as an agency founder to start down that road on day one, but generally that does not the way it works usually it is an agency owner who opens their doors and does business with their family and their distant family in the local chamber of commerce, and they say yes to a lot of different businesses. And I think that makes a lot of sense. As you’re launching your new business, you want to have revenue and you want to get it off the ground, but it is only until they realize that they can’t get beyond a certain point because they’re serving a wide variety of clients. They’re a jack of all trades, and they lack expertise in any one area, which has a direct impact in their ability to do things like operationally scale, but also their positioning becomes very watered down. The market doesn’t see their true value for what they are. They compete on price and they lose deals to lesser firms. And that all of that results in slow and inconsistent sales and all of those aspects bring the founder right back into sales because when the sales isn’t happening, that’s the founder’s responsibility at the end of the day. Right?

John (05:40): Yeah. So what are some of the key steps? If I’ve decided maybe I’ve been out there, I’ve had some success, I have some ideas about markets that I like, I’ve been able to serve, I’ve been able to add value. What are some of the key steps to really kind of positioning myself as the go-to

Corey (05:55): Absolutely. So in that case of that generalist who’s been around for a while, you have a lot of sets and reps. It’s important as you’re going through this process of verticalizing your agency to look at your current book of business and see who do I like working with? If I was going to fill my business with dentists as your example, what kind of life would I be enjoying at that point? Right? The whole outcome you’re trying to create is you want to fill your practice with a whole bunch of this type of business. And so first thing you want to do is you want to look at your experience. You want to look at, like I said, who you like working with, what problems are you really good at solving for them, and are they willing to pay for those problems? That’s number one. You want to look at your current business.

(06:38): Number two, you want to look at the market because you don’t want to target an audience that is too small or maybe too big. If you’re targeting an audience that says that, let’s say that has a small budget inherently then, and you charge $10,000 a month, and on average the average business owner in that industry makes a hundred thousand dollars a year, you’re going to have a hard time finding clients. And so there’s an aspect of it where number one, you have to feel like you’re good at it and you want to do want to work with these folks. But then number two, that the market that you’re going after is what I call, you have to validate it. You have to validate it’s not only large enough, but that it is a good fit for the kind of business you want to create.

John (07:22): I have people come to me all the time and say that I want to work with X, and I’m like, well, they don’t spend money on marketing at all. That might be a slog for you.

Corey (07:31): Yeah. The number I like to use as sort of a benchmark is when you’re doing the market research, does the average business in this vertical make a million dollars a year? This is specifically in the context of marketing agencies, and the math is if they make a million dollars a year and they spend 10% of that revenue on marketing per year, which is a hundred thousand dollars, you divide that by 12 months, that’s $8,333 per month. And you think about marketing today, you have to have a website, SEO content, PPC book, reputation management, do a podcast. All of a sudden you’re stretching that $8,000 pretty thin. And so depending on the type of service you have and the type of revenue you want to generate per client, a million dollars is a good barometer to make sure that they actually do make enough money for you to justify targeting them.

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(09:32): Now, this offer is limited to new active campaign customers only. So what are you waiting for? Fuel your growth, boost revenue and save precious time by upgrading to active campaign. Today, we have worked for years with various agents or various industries and certain industries, certain verticals are just getting hammered by people that have taken this approach. Remodeling contractors, for example. I mean, get 10 pitches a day from somebody that says they’re an expert in their industry. You have an outbound approach that uses gifting as a kind of unique approach to really stand out, right? They get the 10 emails. How are you different? Yeah, talk about that approach.

Corey (10:13): Yeah, absolutely. So the prerequisite is number one, you have a vertical market that you specialize in, that you position your agency around, and then what you do is you want to, and this is based on my direct experience of working at an agency where we sent literally millions of dollars of cookies to attorneys. Another one of these markets that is oversaturated that you could argue, but the way that I teach my clients, what you do is, number one, you build up a 20% lead list. And what I mean by that is out of all the attorneys in the us, let’s say you are targeting personal injury attorneys, you want to take that list and then you want to qualify it to identify what’s the top 20% of this list that if I can get them on the phone, then I have a very high likelihood that they’re going to be a great fit.

(10:59): They’re going to want to work with us. And so you create that list that becomes your lead list for this gift based outbound. The next thing you want to do is you want to identify a gift that would be unique, it would be striking, and it would leave a positive impression. You don’t want to send a ballpoint pen with your logo on it because that’s too easy to ignore. And as a result of this 20% list, it’s not very much of a spray and pray approach. It’s much more of a quality over quantity. I’ve done things, everything from sending gourmet cookies to sending alcohol to attorneys, to sending flowers to dentist office, you name it, video brochures. We’ve sent books. We’ve written books. Lemme share with you the impact of this. When we sent cookies to attorneys, this is again an industry where there are gatekeepers whose primary job is to prevent me from getting in touch, talking to the attorney.

(11:57): So that’s their job is to weed me out, screen me out. And so what we would do is we would send the cookies into the law firm, and these are again, not generic cookies. These are amazing mouthwatering cookies. They would be put in the FedEx box, sent to the law firm, addressed to the lead attorney. Of course it would go right past the mail room. It’s a FedEx box, it’d go right to the attorney’s desk, it’d be sitting there. The attorney would open it up, be this amazing presentation of cookies which would end up in the break room. And then people would be eating these cookies and everyone’s saying, gosh, who brought these amazing cookies? And it was like, oh, this company’s scorpion. And everyone’s like, well, who’s scorpion? There’s this buzz all of a sudden about this company that sent this amazing gift. By the time a salesperson called, which was right after the gift arrived, the gatekeeper would, the energy would be shifted from who are you and who do you want to talk to? Oh, you’re from Scorpion. Let me put you through, he wants to talk to you.

John (12:51): So this may be a little in the weeds, but your research piece, like the list targeting the top 20, and do you have some favorite kind of go-to list sources or platforms or tools?

Corey (13:04): Bring up a really great point, which is that the list is typically thought of as a check the box, go do Apollo or go to ZoomInfo and download a list or just use their interface. The list is the strategy, meaning you have to spend some additional time on the list than you otherwise would. And so what I recommend doing what I teach people to do is to source a list from these third party list vendors like a ZoomInfo or Apollo download leads into your own software like Excel or Google Sheets, and then you want to qualify those leads even further from what they gave you. You want to look for things like what are some objective signals that I could see that would indicate that these businesses can afford my services, that they actually have the pain point that I saw? And you need to go through these on a very manual basis.

(13:59): Unfortunately, I know we all like to go super fast, but if you’re planning on sending cookies, and by the way, it’s not just sending one gift, it’s sending gifts for three years. It’s not a one and done. It’s an ongoing event. Every quarter you send ’em a gift. So that’s even more reason why you want to just slow way down on the list on list build. So that’s kind of how I do it. Another place where you can find a high quality list is every vertical market has associations. They have conferences. And as you begin to target these folks, you’ll be going to these events and you’ll begin to build lists from those experiences where you tend to get really high quality leads from.

John (14:38): And I tell a lot of people, there are a lot of agencies out there, like 10 more clients, good clients that would move the needle significantly, but they’re trying to a list of 5,000 as opposed to that’s list of a hundred. Let’s spend 500 bucks on each of them as opposed to $5 on spray and pray approach. Approach. And

Corey (14:58): That focus, and I think the focus is kind of the thing that helps you to stand out. The fact that you are sending a thoughtful gift, it can be a personalized gift to them. As I said, it’s not just once. They may ghost you on the first gift and that’s okay, but then the next quarter comes, you send ’em a second one and the next quarter comes, you send ’em another one. Eventually you’ve built up all this reciprocity and they’re going to at some point say, okay, I got to talk to John over there at Duct Tape Marketing, because clearly they want to talk to us and they’re being very persistent in a meaningful way. And we also know that people, every attorney, every dentist, they’re going to shop for a new agency once every three years, let’s just call it that. And that’s why the time horizon behind this strategy is it’s a three year program. By the time that every single person on your list has been gifted over a three year period, all of them had an opportunity to go back to market, and you want to be on that list.

John (15:57): So every industry has key people. Everybody knows maybe their authors, they’re big consultants, they’re advisors or accountants or something in the industry. First off, how important is it to get into some relationships with those folks and then second part of how do you do it?

Corey (16:17): Yeah, great question. So the part of the strategy, once you become a vertical market specialist, the benefit of targeting a vertical or one of the unique benefits is every vertical is kind of like a village and everyone kind of knows everybody else. There’s definitely a gossip train and so on and so forth. And in any one of these type of social circles of a vertical, there are going to be people that Malcolm Gladwell calls Mavens, and these mavens are people that everyone else looks to make a decision on who to hire. And so as a vertical market specialist, as you’re trying to build your reputation and visibility in that market, it makes sense to try and build a direct relationship with these mavens versus just going out to market and talking to anyone. I’ll give you an example. One of my clients was focused on the chain restaurant industry, the industry of restaurants that had multiple chains, and there was a maven in that industry.

(17:15): He’s the editor of a magazine called QSR, and he is prolific on LinkedIn and he’s at the keynoting, the conferences on the stages and whatnot. He’s everywhere. Well, as a result of identifying this person as really a maven that people look to as a tastemaker, we made a decision to try and find ways, genuine ways to build a relationship with that person. Of course, we did that over time, and that resulted in a lot of opportunities for my client. That’s number one. And then number two is what I call influential brands. And influential brands are effectively the same as a Maven, but it is sort of a big brand in that vertical that everyone else looks to. If it’s good enough, if this company’s going to hire this agency, well, they’re probably good enough for us. And I saw this firsthand at my last company when we were getting into the franchise world, multi-location businesses, and we landed the biggest, the most well-respected, multi-location franchise business in the industry as really our first client. It was through a relationship. And as a result of that, that led to a lot of really almost frictionless introductions in the franchise space, which ended up being a big growth engine for us.

John (18:29): It’s funny, over the years, I’ve targeted manufacturers that have distribution networks, and the same thing is bring them something, build a relationship, provide value, and they’re very motivated to help their distributors. And so all of a sudden it’s like you’re the person. And as you mentioned, it’s a layup to get the business because in some cases they even had co-op dollars to give them.

Corey (18:53): Yes, yes, exactly. The reason why these things are important is you need to focus first. Once you get clear on who you’re targeting, marketing becomes a whole lot easier. Which keywords to target, which conferences to go to, what associations to get involved in all these things become super clear. It’s those agencies that haven’t made this decision to narrow their focus on this vertical market that are challenged with this things I said, the water down positioning, the ineffective marketing.

John (19:23): So is it safe to say once you get good at one market, you can actually repeat this approach, or should you just stay narrow?

Corey (19:32): It completely depends on the founder and their ambitions. I’ll give you an example. The last agency I worked with where we ran this play, we started off with attorneys, and then it was home services and then franchise. And I think the way that I coach agencies on how to approach this is, number one, you want to get to about 3% of the total addressable market. So if there are a thousand businesses in this market, once you get to 30, that’s a signal that you probably have enough momentum in that vertical that you as the founder, could lift your head and go find another adjacent vertical. What I mean by adjacent is it’s a business that has the same problem that you’re already solving, or it’s a vertical that has the same problem but is not well-served. So the example, my last company was attorneys, local service businesses, and then home services, local service businesses, both depended on Google for new leads, both needed a great website, reputation management, all of those things. That’s what I mean by adjacent.

John (20:32): Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Well, Corey, it was great having you stop by the Duct Tape Marketing podcast. Is there someplace you want to invite people to connect with you and obviously find a copy of anyone? Not everyone.

Corey (20:43): Gosh, John. I appreciate that. So the best place to get plugged into more of this type of content is my book, which is called, as you mentioned, anyone, not everyone. I have the website, anyone, not, where you can go and learn more about the book. So I invite you to go there.

John (20:59): Awesome. Well, again, appreciate you taking a few moments, and hopefully we’ll run into you one of these days out there on the road.

Unlocking the Secrets to Premium Pricing in Professional Services

Unlocking the Secrets to Premium Pricing in Professional Services written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch

In this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I uncover the intricate world of pricing for professional services. Pricing in the realm of professional services can often feel like a nebulous task, as unlike tangible products, services are intangible and the value they provide can vary greatly from client to client.

Join me as we explore the secrets to unlocking premium pricing in professional services by crafting messages that sell solutions, not services.

In this episode, you’ll learn:


1. The importance of messaging: Before even considering pricing, it’s crucial to nail down your messaging. Communicating the problem your services solve and how you uniquely understand your clients’ challenges is the first step towards charging a premium.

2. Differentiation is key: Standing out in a crowded market isn’t just about being different; it’s about showcasing how your unique approach directly addresses your clients’ pain points.

3. Building trust through personalized interactions: In today’s competitive landscape, automated solutions are no longer enough. Clients crave personalized experiences and a deep sense of trust before committing to premium pricing.

4. Productized packages for long-term relationships: Offering productized packages not only simplifies your offerings for clients but also lays the foundation for long-term relationships built on trust and value delivery.

5. Embracing monthly recurring revenue: By focusing on solving specific problems for specific clients in a consistent and reliable manner, you can shift towards a scalable business model centered around monthly recurring revenue.

These key takeaways provide actionable insights into the nuances of pricing professional services, empowering businesses to navigate this tricky landscape with confidence and clarity.

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John (00:08): Hello and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch and I’m doing a solo show today. Today I want to talk about how to charge a premium for your services, how to charge more. So we’re going to talk about pricing, but more specifically how to price professional services. Professional services are tough to price, right? I don’t know, you’re essentially selling air in some cases. There’s nothing tangible that you’re going to set on somebody’s desk and say, here it is. However, you’re also in many cases, selling the hope or the promise of some massive result, help you get your life back, put your business on track, help you make more money, change your relationships. It’s something that has a massive potential result attached to the pricing. But here’s the thing that I think a lot of people get wrong. It’s not simply a matter of having some service that is just awesome and gets a great result.

(01:15): Obviously that’s got to be there, but before pricing or before charging a premium anyway really comes messaging. And what I mean by that is in many cases, whether you’re selling accounting services or consulting or like me marketing services or training, you got a lot of competitors essentially saying the same thing, promising the same result. So how do you rise above that? I think one of the real keys is differentiation. Now, I know many people say, you’ve got to have a point of differentiation. USP, whatever, all the other things people call those. But I think where people get this wrong, of course, is nobody really cares that much that you’re different. In some cases, that can be the thing that allows them to say, oh, okay, I know why I would pay you as opposed to them. But a lot of times what we get stuck in doing is explaining how we’re different.

(02:12): Nobody really cares that you’ve got some different framework or different approach until that difference matters to them. And the only way to really help them understand that is not to explain your difference, not to explain your framework and your process even. It’s to first help them understand that you get what they’ve been doing before, why it doesn’t work, that you totally understand. You’re essentially communicating the problem that they have. And a lot of times we get really caught up in communicating the solution that we have and there’s no kind of connection to problem solutions. So by first helping them understand, look, I get why what you’ve done to this date has it really worked? And here’s another key sort of transition, and it’s not your fault. I also get you’ve got all these people screaming in your ear, you’ve got this going on, you’re distracted with this.

(03:08): I, I understand why it’s so hard to solve this problem, and here’s the real issue. Now here’s the solution. For many years, marketers have been talking now about the hero’s journey that’s been around for hundreds of years, and essentially that’s what it is. I understand what your challenge is, why what you’ve done to date hasn’t worked. It’s not your fault, and I’m here to actually guide you to get the solution that will actually finally work for you. And now that differentiation actually means something because they can connect what it is that you do to them solving the problem. You’re essentially in your messaging, you’re promising to solve their greatest problem. So now all of a sudden that differentiation means something to them. So you have to be able to state that in very clear terms. I don’t tell people I sell marketing services or I don’t tell people I license my fractional CMO system until they understand that we work with agencies that are tired of working more and making less.

(04:17): That’s the problem we hear all the time. That’s really what we do. Now here happens to be the different way that we do it, but that’s the start of messaging that allows you to charge a premium. I know I said this was about pricing, and it is, but you can’t have that without the proper setup. You solve a specific problem for a specific person in a specific way. Now I want to listen. Now you can charge a premium for what it is that you do because you are talking about something that nobody else is talking about. And what’s funny, premium pricing, there’s actually far less competition charging premium pricing than there are people that are charging an increasingly falling price point because they don’t have that message. They don’t have that differentiation. They don’t understand the problems that their ideal client is trying to solve.

(05:13): And even if it feels today like, wow, could I really charge that much? Pick a number, $5,000 a month, $10,000 a month, whatever it is that you do as a service that you provide. In many cases there’s some amount of fear holding you back because you’ve felt the pressure of being like everybody else. And you go in and you say, I do this. And the next person says, I do this. And what’s the buyer going to do? How much? And so there’s a lot of pressure, downward pressure on pricing in that kind of lower tier. You start getting this messaging right? You start going out and saying, no, we charge a premium because we deliver an amazing value. In fact, we know our value and we can stick to it. You’re going to have far less competition for the ideal client at that level. So it’s kind of counterintuitive, but it makes a ton of sense.

(06:02): And then of course, you can start doing all kinds of the math calculations on this. You want five clients at X price or you want three clients at a much higher price. It’s probably not that much more work to serve clients at that higher price. So even if you get especially initially more nos at that higher price, who cares? And now a word from our sponsor, work better now. Work better now provides outstanding talent from Latin America, hand matched to your business with over 40 roles across various industries, including marketing. They’re a reliable partner for consistently finding the perfect fit for your business. Simply tell them what you need and they’ll handle the rest hassle-free. We have two work better now, professionals on our team, a marketing assistant and a marketing coordinator, and we’ve been blown away by their abilities, responsiveness, and professionalism. They’ve really become an essential part of our growing team.

(06:57): And to top it off, each dedicated and full-time work better. Now, professional is 2350 per month and there are no contracts to schedule a 15 minute consultation with a work better now rep and see how they’ll support your business growth goals, visit work better Mention the referral code DTM podcast, and you’re going to get $150 off for your first three months. That’s work better And don’t forget that DTM podcast code, the math will actually help itself work out. If you’re stuck in low pricing on your services today, start going and telling your clients why you need to double and triple what you’re charging them today. You’re going to lose some of them, but again, work the math on it. Probably in the long run you’re actually better off and certainly as you go out to new clients, in fact, I’ll challenge you if you’re listening to this today, and this resonates, this idea of I’m stuck in this price rut.

(07:57): Just the next three people you talk to, next, three prospects you talk to, just shoot a much higher number for your services and see what happens. You might actually be pleasantly surprised that you get no resistance, and maybe the resistance was here right in your own head. I know it sounds really simple, but you get that message part right? And you’re going to have different conversations. Now, another thing that I want to throw in here, this is going to add on, but if you want to have clients for life as opposed to just going out there and doing a project, then going out there and filling the pipeline again and starting over again, here’s one of the things I would urge you, regardless of what you sell, if you’re a marketing consultant, this will really resonate with you, but certainly any service business, professional service business can take this approach, create a productized package.

(08:49): So figure out the real value you bring, the real problem you’re solving, and figure out how on the front end to sell a very repeatable productize. Here’s what you get. Here’s what I’m going to do. Here’s what you’re going to do. Here’s what it costs, has a very set timeline to it, and that’s going to be your initial offering. That’s how you’re going to attract clients. What happens is, first off, it becomes very easy to explain. Everybody else is out there saying, we had this process and we’ll do discovery and we’ll figure this out. And you’re saying, no, we’re going to solve this problem in this way, and here’s what it costs. You’re going to attract some clients that just if nothing else, because of the ease of being able to explain that. But here’s what also is going to happen. You’re going to get really good at delivering that productized initial package.

(09:39): You’re going to be able to deliver far greater value. You are going to actually be able to potentially start delegating some of that consulting work that seems very hard to do for a lot of people because of this productized approach. But what you’ll also do is in that first phase one engagement is you will develop so much trust with your client that the idea of an ongoing client for life relationship is probably a foregone conclusion because of that trust in the relationship that you’ve built. Now, the second piece of that is then a lot of people talk about long-term retainers, and in many cases, they are scoping out what the work is or doing. A heaven forbid, a proposal about what the next six month follow on project might be. And the way that I would suggest that you consider is if you want to have a client for life, what if you mentally asked yourself or maybe actually asked the client at that point, what’s the amount of money that you would feel good or you would feel capable of paying me every month for the rest of your life?

(10:56): Heard another consultant. We’ve been doing this for years, and I finally heard another consultant actually give it a name. He calls it Colorado pricing. I can’t remember actually why he used that term. I haven’t live in Colorado, so that’s probably why I remembered it. But the idea here is that you now have that level of trust that you are going to actually scope out what needs to be done. The client’s not saying, how many hours do I get for that? Or, what are you going to do next week for me? That you are actually saying, look, we’ve got a level of trust. We’ve worked together. I’ve delivered an amazing result. Would you like to have that amazing result as we mature and do more and more for you each progressing month, I’m in charge of the scope. I’m in charge of what that costs me to deliver.

(11:40): Obviously, all of the profit equations that have to go into what you can afford to deliver, but you’ll find that clients get very used to getting that result. They get very used to paying that amount. There’s no more monitoring as long as you’re delivering, obviously. Hopefully that’s a given. But it is a way for you. We have clients that we have kept in that relationship for in excess of 10 years. The business has grown. We’ve matured with them. We’re able to continue to deliver value, but the relationship is such, that becomes their expectation. It becomes a builtin cost for them because they see the return on investment. So let’s wrap this up. Charge more for professional services by having the right message that’s not just, here’s how we’re different or here’s our solution, but it is, here’s the problem that we promise to solve for you because we get it.

(12:31): Nobody else gets it. Nobody else is communicating it. We get it. We’re going to solve your problem in a very specific way using this packaged approach that gives you the first phase of our engagement so that we build this amazing trust and an amazing relationship. Then you’re just going to be a client for life. That is our expectation. Lots goes into what that package looks like. Lots goes into what that fulfillment looks like on an ongoing basis, but this is how you build a monthly recurring revenue model that allows you to scale a professional services business. Alright, that’s it for today. Hopefully we’ll run into a listener or two out there on the road.

Navigating the Challenges of Scaling

Navigating the Challenges of Scaling written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

The Duct Tape Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch

In this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I interviewed Jason, the CEO of ActiveCampaign, a leading platform for intelligent marketing automation.

A lifelong entrepreneur, Jason has been named to Crain’s Chicago Business 40 Under 40 list and was named EY’s Entrepreneur of the Year Midwest. He is a member of the Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO) and The Economic Club of Chicago. Jason also serves on the board of the Future Founders Foundation, a Chicago-based organization that empowers the next generation of business leaders and entrepreneurs. He is also a regular contributor to Fast Company and Forbes.

Having founded ActiveCampaign as a means to fund his education, Jason pursued a degree in fine arts until shifting his focus entirely to growing the company. He is a self-taught software engineer and technologist. Our conversation dives deep into the challenges that businesses face when scaling up, offering valuable insights and strategies for navigating this crucial phase of growth.

Key Takeaways

Jason emphasizes the importance of maintaining customer focus, embracing change, learning from failure, building a strong team, and staying true to your values when scaling a business. By prioritizing direct interaction with customers, fostering a culture of innovation, viewing setbacks as learning opportunities, investing in employee development, and upholding integrity and ethical conduct, businesses can navigate the challenges of growth and achieve sustainable success.

Questions I ask Jason Vandeboom:

[01:02] Is there a reason why ActiveCampaign was decided to focus specifically on small to mid-sized businesses?

[02:33] Have you been able to keep that self-taught view in the value system and culture of your company?

[03:52] How has your personal life changed since running such a demanding business?

[05:10] When it comes to failures do you have any business advice for people starting out?

[07:37] Do you have a management philosophy as a first-time manager of people and teams ?

[09:10] How do you make decisions about how to innovate?

[12:10] What are you hoping to communicate in positioning yourself as the marketing automation CRM of small teams powering big businesses?

[13:40] What role does AI play in your road map as a leader?

[14:52] Is it an oversimplification to say it’s just better lead scoring?

[15:54] Describe the Leap Year special event ActiveCampaign is organizing?

[17:57] What’s your secret to never getting bored with what you do as a CEO?

[20:16] What’s on your bucket list in the next 5-10 years, outside of work?




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This episode of The Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by ActiveCampaign

Try ActiveCampaign free for 14 days with our special offer. Sign up for a 15% discount on annual plans until Mar 31,2024. Exclusive to new customers—upgrade and grow your business with ActiveCampaign today!


John (00:08): Hello and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch. My guest today is Jason Vandeboom. He is the founder and CEO of ActiveCampaign. Founded in 2003, ActiveCampaign helps small teams power big businesses with the must have platform for intelligent marketing automation. Today, ActiveCampaign is the market leader in intelligence driven marketing automation with customers in over 170 countries leveraging the platform to grow their business. He’s also a regular contributor to fast company in Forbes. Having founded active campaign as a means to fund his education, Jason pursued a degree in fine arts until shifting his focus entirely to growing the company and his self-taught software engineer and technologist. So Jason, welcome back to the show.

Jason (00:57): Yeah, thanks for having me. Looking forward to chatting.

John (01:00): So this is at least your third time on the show, and I think we were laughing about it off air that the company was just a couple of years old now. It’s obviously grown in many ways, so it’s really been fun to watch and really be a small, very small part of that growth. ActiveCampaign is very focused on small, mid-sized businesses, SMB market, which a lot of the bigger tech companies kind of ignore for enterprise. Is there any reason that you said no, we’re going to go after that segment and focus on it?

Jason (01:32): Yeah, I think there’s the couple of things. One, just a big believer in this idea of over-delivering on value, and if I think of how do you do that or who can you serve and do that the most, it’s a small team. It’s that individual marketer, small team of marketers looking to do more. It’s almost being that additional team member within that company. One of the most impactful things that I’ve found at least building a business is just the impact. If you can see the impact you’re having on brands throughout the world and on the teams themselves and whatnot, that’s the thing that drives not just myself personally, but selfishly that drives my team as well, right? Because doing something, you can see that immediate impact and so I think that’s part of the reason for it. And then also I think there’s just a huge opportunity and need to help that part of the market. All too often I think people look at that as hard to serve larger companies, that’s fine for them, but there’s a real need opportunity and it’s a challenge, which is exciting.

John (02:33): Yeah. So I mentioned in the intro that you have customers in over 170 countries today, but you essentially were bootstrapped in the very beginning. It sounded like self-taught, which means you were making it up as you were probably going that kind of scrappy mentality. Have you been able to keep that in the culture and the values?

Jason (02:54): I think it’s challenging as you scale, because as you scale, all of a sudden it becomes more about, success can be sometimes function role, you start to get further and further away from the actual customer. And so I think the key for me is how do we keep everyone as close to the customer as possible? If I’m not talking to a customer, if I’m not directly interfacing with the customer in a given week, I’m just going to get farther and farther away myself. How to replicate that across lots of people, across lots of departments, lots of teams, certainly a challenge, but I think it’s easier when you’re focused on so many interesting brands that we work with. And you can take these stories, you can bring customers to meet the team. It’s like the purpose behind what you do is something I think people don’t always focus enough on. And that purpose can be very motivating. It can be kind of a rallying cry. It can help drive what you’re looking to do as a business itself

John (03:52): Personally, how has your life changed? You didn’t have kids when you started this company, you’re now the CEO of really a leader in a very large industry. What’s that done to, I don’t know, work-life balance? I hate that term, but what’s that done to? How have you maintained sanity? Let’s put it that way.

Jason (04:10): Yeah, I think it’s changed, right? And I think the only just embracing just constant change. I think that’s what makes it exciting. If there was a moment where I thought I had it all figured out, if there’s a moment where there’s not something new to try to solve for, then it’s kind a boring operating model in my mind. And so I think it’s building team, but it’s building team and keeping them close to that customer experience, close to the customer and ultimately having to focus on different things over time. But it’s not up to any single individual, but having the right people, building the right team, having the focus to the customer, to the problem that’s being solved, that’s where I put a lot of my time and energy, which is very different than earlier on where it would be actually writing code or doing something.

John (05:03): So a lot of times when people look at companies that have really been very successful or at least certainly outwardly appear that to them, we don’t have all the behind the scenes. Are there any kind of personal or business failures where you went, well, hopefully we learned something from that, but that was a disaster? Anything along the way that I think it’s actually helpful for people to hear that when they’re growing a business?

Jason (05:28): No, I think there’s, it’s just a countless running list of maybe not, I don’t want to call ’em all disasters, but of these learning moments. But I think to your point, I think it’s the most helpful thing to embrace that. And then so one thing I like to do is I like to surface If we’re doing a company update, if I do weekly emails to the entire company, try to surface obviously the wins and the positives and stuff like that, but also try to surface and celebrate. We tried this thing, we all rally behind it, total failure. Cool. We realize that success in itself and keep moving. That’s really hard to get people to be able to embrace it though, because oftentimes through our work there’s a very personal attachment to a lot of the work. And so failure is not even thought of as we didn’t do something right business wise, but it’s like people take that on as their personal connection.

(06:23): We spend so much time working, we spend so much time in this work atmosphere, so it makes sense, but I think it’s this, you have to both as an individual, but then try to get others to identify failure, call it out in not a terrible way, but just if we can call it out quickly, that’s success. To just build this idea of iteration. And that’s something that’s always been obsessed with is just how do you just continually iterate and find these little moments of progression. When I think of failure moments that stand out, it’s like when we get too locked into an idea, we want to do something, maybe it’s a marketing type of campaign, maybe it’s a certain type of product offering and we’re like, we’re going to do this, and we just get locked in. We get blinded to the reality of we different data points, different things that are showing us maybe it’s not the right move or the customers are not responding to it, partners utilizing people that have a different view into your business. If you don’t listen there, that’s when you’re going to just start to extend that time duration of spending time on something that isn’t value add. And that’s when it moves from failure is kind of a good thing. Realize it to you just wasted a bunch of time.

John (07:38): A lot of startup founders have to actually learn to be managers sometimes have never managed people and certainly have never managed managers of people. I mean, is there any kind of one people management philosophy that you swear by

Jason (07:52): Not a singular philosophy or framework that’s out there? I think everyone is learning in their own way. One thing that I didn’t do a lot of early on was just reach out to other people thinking that they wouldn’t want to actually share or they wouldn’t share a reality. What I found is it’s quite the opposite, both when it comes from founder to founder, but then also different functional roles. There is a people that have gone through different experiences of learning going from not managing anyone, demand your managers, to your point, there’s all sorts of trials and celebration, all sorts of failure, all sorts of interesting pieces. And so to learn from others in addition to just constantly pushing yourself, I think that’s really the only way of doing it. And then the only other piece is just having that comfort level with people that you work with to be able to give really direct continual feedback versus holding in a thought to an annual cycle or something like that.

John (08:54): I’ve had a fellow Chicago on the show, Jason Freed founder of Basecamp, and one of their philosophies was, you don’t build features in just because people ask for ’em, but I’m sure you feel pressure all the time. People are wanting just make it do this little thing or do that little thing. How do you make decisions about how to innovate?

Jason (09:14): It has to be guided. So customer feedback is so important. Partner feedback is so important. It helps guide the themes of where you should focus, but if you do it exactly how someone is describing it, it’s probably been done before. You’re going to lack innovation by the very fact of it’s trying to replicate something, right? So to try to get to that root cause of what is actually trying to be solved, how can we do it a little bit differently? And then also to your point, how do you not actually feel compelled to do what someone is asking? And that is not easy. We had a situation once years ago and we had a potential deal that would’ve been a million dollar plus type of contract type of deal. It was just like they’re just going to take a quarter or two of our roadmap, so get certain things and it was this real testing moment of the team was playing.

(10:09): It would be nice to have some of the stuff actually kind of like we want to do anyway, but they want to do it in such a specific way that we think it would actually be muted in value for 80% of the population. And if we’re starting to think of something is not valuable for a material portion of the customer partner base, then that’s a distraction. It could be the short-term win, but long-term, we’re probably not going to appreciate it in that situation. We actually chose to not pursue and not go forward with that opportunity. Probably looking back at it, the right call in the moment, painful, sad, kind of happy we made the right call. So promotions.

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John (12:09): Yeah, awesome. So you’ve recently leaned into positioning, obviously marketing automation, CRM still, but small teams powering big businesses. What are you hoping to really communicate through that?

Jason (12:22): So we’ve always been about how do you unlock more, how do you allow that individual or that team of marketers to be able to do more With the idea that we’re doing a lot of the feature function, we’re doing a lot of the execution of work, we’re trying to tap into the genius of the marketer and try to extend that, right? And so we’ve always been trying to describe ourselves of we’re SMB friendly, we’re helping people in mid-market companies as well. And ultimately the commonality we have across all of our customers, across all these countries in the world, it’s these teams that are doing remarkable things that are doing more than they could have done before. And so this idea of small teams building a big business that just resonates. And at a time like today, most every marketing team, every marketer I talk to, they’re being asked to do a little bit more with less. And there’s this sufficiency. There’s also this, there’s a lot of businesses trying to figure out how do we grow in this new situation that we’re in? And you put all that together and it just creates this opportunity to help unlock growth, help be that partner, that additional team member in a way to the marketer, to that marketing team.

John (13:32): I think that’s some of the initial allure or promise, whether it’s true or not, we can debate of ai. And what role does AI play in your roadmap as a part of the tool, as a leading edge of the tool? How do you see it?

Jason (13:50): Yeah, so I think a lot of people have been focused on AI in the way of content, and I think that to be helpful, it’s like a helpful tool for the marketer, but I think that’s a small piece of it that in reality what we’ve already been trying to do is how do we take these ideas marketers have build upon them to give them the next kind of light bulb moment. So when I think of our product roadmap of where we’re investing from the AI standpoint, there’s some of that in terms of content, getting content very personalized down to the individual contact, but kind starting with the root of what the marketer thinks it should be, and then focusing even more time on what is that next part of the journey the marketers should be thinking about, what’s the next part of the journey the marketers should be crafting? How can we start to preset some of that for them? So then give them these light bulb moments that’s already kind of like in a structural format with content, everything like that. But then they can take their own, they know the business better, they know their customer better and craft from there. I think that assist type of mode is where I have the most excitement.

John (14:52): I mean, is it an oversimplification to say it’s just better lead scoring?

Jason (14:57): I think so because I think lead scoring by itself is just thinking about typically trying to group people into segments or buckets and rally the different types of paths one can create at a customer experience, the different ideas of what are you not already doing? Maybe it’s something you’re not doing for repeat customers or maybe you’re just missing nurturing in different parts of the life cycle. Figuring out based off of where others have had success and where things could make sense to explore ideas like that that you are not thinking about. But to your point, I think part of it also is here’s a bucket of contacts and that just should be marketed a different way, should be having a different customer experience. But I think it can be far more of this. The best way I can describe it’s this light bulb generating machine with that also gives you some of the structure as well.

John (15:51): So 2024 has an extra day in it. February 29th leap day in leap year, you guys are doing a kind of fun event, an audacious event. Maybe I’d let you describe it, but a little about your leap day.

Jason (16:07): Yeah, so we see it as leap day provides extra time, it provides an extra ability for people to get more done through the use of automation. That’s also building on this idea of save time, let’s be able to do more with it. And that allows you to do other things in your business, other things in your personal life, whatever it may be. And so yeah, we have this very subtle idea of doing a very long online event all focused around the marketer and how to build out more for your business customer experiences and through automation. And we have an exciting array of sponsors all lined up that have all gotten together that we’re all working together on, and tremendous amount of speakers as well, providing something that not only fits an entire day, which is pretty crazy for an event, but across all these different regions as well. And the exciting part about that, at least that I’m personally really excited about too is there’s different tactics, there’s different ways, there’s different themes, there’s different macro situations throughout the world that’ll come to life as part of this as well. It’s going to be pretty exciting.

John (17:13): So you didn’t say it as directly, but I mean you’re literally going to run for 24 hours. The event is going to go when people are sleeping in one part of the world and watching it in another part of the world.

Jason (17:26): And actually longer 29 hours we’re going to hit all the days around all the, a

John (17:33): Lot

Jason (17:33): Of, I think there’ll be a couple people that are around for the whole thing. The expectation is not everyone watching it live all the entire time, but it’s going to be quite an interesting event

John (17:44): And there ought to be some sort of award for that. If somebody can actually do it for 29 hours, you got to have some prize for that. That sounds amazing. Really, like I said, very innovative, very clever. Should get tons of attention. When we were talking, again, I think off air, this part of it, you’ve been the CEO of this company for 20 plus years and you mentioned, and I thought this was really exciting to hear that you still don’t get bored. I mean, you don’t get bored with what you’re doing on a day-to-day basis. I tell people that about my work as well. What’s an average day for a CEO of a, I’m going to get the number wrong, 750 plus person organization.

Jason (18:24): It’s very much around some of the themes that we’re working on. I take a particular interest in the product side of the business. Where are we going? How does that influence, how does that work with our customers, our partners? I won’t be talking to them all the time. And then how do we really get alignment just as a company? We’re spread out across the entire world. We’re in 170 plus countries in terms of customers, we have team around the entire world. How do we get this rallying point of how are we going to actually help make more time for all of our customers? How are we going to help give more of those light bulb moments for customer experiences and then just continue to scale all aspects of the business? So a good portion of my time also is just on team and building, aligning all sorts of things that it’s very different than a few years ago, but as I was describing, it’s just continual evolution of challenges and experiences and continuing to see that impact we’re having on so many brands.

(19:24): And that’s exciting about the event coming up for the Leap Day event as well. It’s just this, if we’re able to help anyone find, make more time and their day-to-day or to be able to do more with their business, automate more with their business, that can be truly changing for someone’s, just what they’re able to do within that role career at the business as a whole. And that’s something that they can only build on over time. It’s never done. I think that’s the both building a business, but then also this idea of marketing, customer experience. What can you automate the blend of automation, human touch, you’re never done. Every time you find a little more ability to craft it, that next thing is all of a sudden the new light bulb pops up. And that’s why we’re trying to play that role of here’s this next idea of to make more time for yourself and for your business.

John (20:14): Awesome. All right, one last question in a personal question. Anything on your bucket list outside of work next five, 10 years?

Jason (20:22): That’s a good question. Nothing that

John (20:23): You got young kids, right? You’re just trying to survive.

Jason (20:26): Honestly, it’s like where I’m at right now in life with young kids. My bucket list is what they want to do in life and making sure I can make enough time to both try what they’re trying to do. Whether that be something I can totally fail at and hurt myself with or not in terms of sports and activities, but really finding, and that’s why I love automation as well. It’s this idea of how you more time for those moments in life that matter the most.

John (20:54): Sounds like since you’ve moved to Colorado, you’ve taken up mountain biking. That’s what I’m guessing.

Jason (20:58): A little bit of biking. Yeah.

John (21:01): I myself have taken up mountain biking in the last five years and when you said try not to kill yourself, that’s kind of where I am at Mountain bugging. Yeah. Awesome, Jason. Well, it was great having you stop by the Duct Tape Marketing podcast. We will have a link to the Leap Day extravaganza in the show notes. Anywhere else you want to invite people to maybe connect with you and find out more about what you’re up to.

Jason (21:22): Yeah, no, definitely check that out. I’ll be around during most all of the events. I’ll try to make it 29 hours. We’ll see. Feel free to reach out directly through that online email, anything. But appreciate having me and really enjoyed the conversation.

John (21:37): Awesome. Well hopefully we’ll run into you out there on the ski slopes or something. In real life.

Mastering SEO in the Age of AI

Mastering SEO in the Age of AI written by Tosin Jerugba read more at Duct Tape Marketing

The Duct Tape Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch

In this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I interviewed Stephan Spencer, an acclaimed SEO expert and founder of net Concepts, an interactive agency specializing in search engine optimization. Stephan is also a bestselling author, serial entrepreneur, and host of two popular podcasts, “Get Yourself Optimized” and “Marketing Speak.” With a wealth of experience in the field, In this episode Stephan and I uncover the evolving landscape of SEO in the age of AI, sharing invaluable insights and strategies for success.

Key Takeaways

Embark on a transformative journey with Stephan Spencer as he discusses the intersection of SEO and artificial intelligence. Learn how to leverage AI to optimize your website for search engines and stay ahead of the competition. Discover the importance of adapting traditional SEO tactics to accommodate the advancements in AI technology, from content creation to technical optimization.

Unlock the secrets to mastering SEO in the age of AI, and position your business for sustainable growth and success in the digital realm. Whether you’re a seasoned SEO professional or a business owner looking to enhance your online presence, Stephan’s expertise will guide you towards achieving your goals in the ever-evolving world of search engine optimization in 2024.


Questions I ask Stephan Spencer:

[00:58] What are the highlights of the new edition of The Art of SEO?

[04:45] What are some of the core tactics that are still proving effective in 2024?

[07:57] How would generative search impact SEO tactics?

[13:37] What do we need to prepare for and come to expect from voice search?

[15:08] What new updates have come to light concerning local search?

[17:41] What are your favourite AI tools for optimizing content?

[22:10] Where can people connect with you and grab the latest edition of your book?



More About Stephan Spencer:


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

Connect with John Jantsch on LinkedIn


This episode of The Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by Work Better Now

Visit mention the referral code DTM Podcast and get $150 off for your first 3 months.


John (00:08): Hello, and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch. My guest today is Stephan Spencer. He’s an SEO expert founder of the Interactive Agency, net Concepts and bestselling author, serial entrepreneur, life hacker, podcaster, and contributor to Harvard Business Review and Adweek. He also host his own podcast, in fact, two podcast shows, get Yourself Optimized and Marketing Speak. He’s the author of three books, including one we’re going to talk about today that is now in its fourth edition, the Art of SEO, mastering Search Engine Optimization. So Steven or Stephan, welcome to the show.

Stephan (00:48): Thanks for having me.

John (00:49): I have a brother that spells his name that way, but it’s Stephan, so forgive me if I say it wrong. It

Stephan (00:55): Happens all the time.

John (00:57): I bet it does. So I guess if there’s a need for a fourth edition of a book as big as the art of SEO, it must be that some things keep changing. So what are the highlights? We’ll drill down into them, but what are some of the highlights of this new edition?

Stephan (01:13): Yeah, was so much. I mean, it was pretty much a rewrite from the bottom up. So actually the previous edition, the third edition was a thousand pages, and so we had to cut down quite a lot because the more material in a book, the fewer copies that sell it gets a little bit ridiculous. Who wants to read a thousand page book?

(01:33): So there’s a whole chapter now on AI that wasn’t present in the third edition, and that’s using LLMs generative AI to create everything from keyword strategies and processing your keyword lists into different kinds of use cases, categorizing and grouping keywords together, everything like that to doing the more technical stuff like writing blocks of Etre Lang tags. I’m getting a little geeky here. I don’t want to make this full of acronyms and buzzwords and so forth, but there’s a lot of technical stuff that you can do the heavy lifting using AI now and not have to do it the old fashioned way. So there’s a lot on that. There’s material on things like page speed and core web vitals or three different metrics and core web vitals. That’s a Google innovation that’s coming out of Google. They want you to have a fast loading website, and that relates to what they call their page experience update.

(02:41): So there’s material on that. There’s material on the helpful content update, and that’s actually a series of updates. They want to ensure that people are not creating a huge RAF of content using LMS AI that will fill the internet with a bunch of croft things that are not really that valuable or are not properly fact checked. There’s already lots of issues with AI creating and just making up facts, references, studies and that sort of thing. So if you’re putting out AI material as if it’s handcrafted, you could end up getting by the helpful content updates or by other algorithmic adjustments from Google or a manual penalty even. So you got to keep up with the times.

John (03:28): And there’s a few things you mentioned. Again, I’m getting off of the order of my questioning here that I’ve had prepared, but there’s a few things you mentioned that I’ve seen immediate impact. I mean, we’ve had a couple websites that for whatever reason got really slow. They fell off the core web core vitals threshold and just immediately started seeing results tank when you fix ’em and they come back. So there’s no debating that that’s a ranking factor, is there? So

Stephan (03:59): Maybe let’s, yeah, actually sometimes less is more. So there’s this tactic or this approach in SEO called content pruning, which means you actually take old obsolete content off of your website, or at least no index it, so it’s not part of Google’s search index anymore, and that can actually help your overall website perform better in the search results.

John (04:23): Yeah, we had a 2000 page site that we did just that to 1400 pages and immediately lifted their results. They had a lot of stuff on there that just was probably just not relevant anymore to the reader. So let’s talk about, maybe if we can categorize what are some of the core tactics that are still proving effective in 2024?

Stephan (04:45): So it’s important to understand that the tried and true techniques and tactics of SEO still apply in terms of identifying good keywords, topics that resonate or relate to your audience. So we don’t want to lose track of these tried and true things, optimizing title tags and the body copy and all that sort of stuff, doing proper keyword research, optimizing the technical underpinnings of your website, doing all the configuration of your server and so forth using Yost SEO plugin for WordPress. These sorts of things are still applicable, but now with the advent of ai, we need to find ways to differentiate your website to make it seem like it’s handcrafted, it’s fact checked, it is authoritative and trustworthy. So there’s this acronym from Google Quality Rater Guidelines. It’s EAT, it to be EAT. This is a Google acronym, and it stands for experience expertise, authorit and Trustworthiness.

(06:05): And AI does not have any experience. It cannot write about its experiences, learning how to downhill ski or how to basket weave, or how to, I don’t know, train for an Olympic sport. So that’s where the experience of a human really differentiates. And if you can prove that to an algorithm at Google, that’s going to be very important. So it’s not just about showing your credentials of the different degrees, diplomas that you’ve earned and all that, but actually having the experience displayed in a way that looks super legit. It’s almost like you’re going to look super credible. And this idea of being super credible, I am going to steal a page from Peter Diamandis playbook, and that is that when he announced the xprize, he did not just, and it’s a $10 million purse, so the winning team would get $10 million. Well, guess what? He didn’t have the money. So he announced it without the funding, but he had super credibility because he had on stage with him making the announcement, multiple NASA astronauts and the former deputy director of nasa, it was super credible. Nobody asked him, do you have the money? So for years he didn’t have the money until finally he found the donor, the patron. So if you can show yourself as super credible to an AI and a human visitors and do that in a way that doesn’t look like you’re being bragga, braggadocious, whatever, that’s really the winning formula.

John (07:55): I mean, just from a practical business standpoint, would you say things like case studies of real life, examples of doing the work that you’re describing, or even FAQs, I mean things like that, does that add another level of experience

Stephan (08:08): Potentially? Yep. I would say if you can provide, let’s say a testimonial that’s not just a written testimonial with a person’s first name and the first initial of their last name, but you actually have all their details, their full name, their title, their company, their location. You have a video of them, you have a headshot of them that looks really quite credible, and if you can even better get them to talk about what didn’t work or why they almost didn’t sign up with your service or buy your product, that’s really quite compelling. So anytime that you can augment your and your assumptions with hard data and with real world examples, screenshots, charts, graphs, stuff that helps build your case and substantiate your claims, you’re going to be in much better shape.

John (09:10): You know what I think is always funny is over the years, what you just mentioned, that’s how you are more credible to a potential buyer, even without search. I mean that just comes to your website, sees the data, sees the proof, and it just feels like with every change in SEO or optimization techniques, it’s really just getting it closer to what would be good for a human period,

Stephan (09:34): Right? That’s right, yeah. But on top of that, you have considerations now that you are writing for ais as well as for humans. You’re not going to write primarily for an ai. You’re not going to try and keyword stuff. Your article. I hope that’s been done in the past and it’s never worked well and it won’t work in the future. But if you are keeping in mind a core audience of ais as an audience, reading your quote, reading your article, I think you’re going to end up with a better outcome. So that includes things like how do I interlink these different pages together? How do I lead people on a story arc or a hero’s journey? Because leading the AI through that hero’s journey too.

John (10:22): So you mentioned AI’s reading and playing a part in search, so this might be a good time to ask about the whole concept of generative search and how that’s going to impact probably two things, not only SEO tactics, but certainly search

Stephan (10:38): Behavior. That’s right. If you go to search generative experience, SGE from Google and you start asking it questions, you can get some misinformation from it, just like with any ai, because remember, we have hallucinations. Those are not going to go away in the future. Those issues of it’s essentially an auto complete, it’s an auto complete on steroids, what’s the next word? What’s the next word? What’s the next word? And if it doesn’t have an answer ready and available, we’ll just make it up. So there’s going to be a lot of fact checking and gatekeeping to make sure that wrong information isn’t served up, especially when it relates to financial matters or with medical advice or anything like that. So I personally don’t anticipate search generative experience being the primetime kind of answer engine that people have been touting it to be because of those risks.

(11:37): I mean, think of the liability for Google. If it tells you to take some sort of pharmaceutical and there’s a contraindication or some sort of side effect, lawsuits will abound. So I think that it will be more of an add-on feature for who knows how many months or even years. But I do see it as the future, and we’ll be talking to our computers and our devices more than we’ll be looking at them I think, in the future. So it’ll be like Star Trek computer, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And if your website has that future in mind when you’re creating content, then you’re going to be in a much better position. You’re going to lead competitors when they’re just writing for today. You know the Wayne Gretzky quote, skate to where the puck is going to be, not where the puck is at.

John (12:29): And now a word from our sponsor. Work better now. Work better now provides outstanding talent from Latin America, hand matched to your business with over 40 roles across various industries, including marketing. They’re a reliable partner for consistently finding the perfect fit for your business. Simply tell them what you need and they’ll handle the rest hassle-free. We have two work better now, professionals on our team, a marketing assistant and a marketing coordinator, and we’ve been blown away by their abilities, responsiveness, and professionalism. They’ve really become an essential part of our growing team. And to top it off each dedicated and full-time work better now, professional is 2350 per month and there are no contracts to schedule a 15 minute consultation with a work better now rep and see how they’ll support your business growth goals, visit work better Mention the referral code DTM podcast, and you’re going to get $150 off for your first three months. That’s work better And don’t forget that DTM podcast code. So you led really right into my next question. We’ve been talking about voice search probably since Syria came around. So where do we stand in voice search? You just talked about talking to our computers more than viewing them. So where do we stand today in that? What do we need to be prepared for? Because again, it’s one of those things I feel like we’ve been talking about for 10 years and

Stephan (13:56): We’re still talking about it. It’s still coming when you have a result that is less than awesome. When you’re asking, for example, your Amazon device, I’m not going to say the word begins with an A and she’s listening right now for it’s wake word and it’s going to start chiming in on this conversation. So that device, when you ask it simple questions that Google would just nail on the first try and it completely gets it a hundred percent wrong or just doesn’t give you any answer whatsoever and say, I don’t know the answer to your question, that’s frustrating. And it makes people just not want to even try this. There will be a tipping point though, where you get much more than just, or a recipe or a timer from your Amazon Echo. And that is the point. That tipping point is where this will completely take off. And if you are not prepared for that, you’re going to be chasing after a train that’s left the station. So plan on this being an eventuality because it is an eventuality. It’s just a matter of the timing.

John (15:06): So talk a little bit about, I know you cover local search, obviously there are a lot of businesses that they’re only trying to people in their town find them. So what are some new realities, if you will, in that kind of business that’s the remodeling contractor that just wants people to find them?

Stephan (15:23): Yeah, there’s been a lot of innovations with local search, and if you’re familiar with that world, there’s this kind of a blending of paid search and local SEO with LSA

(15:40): Local search ads. You’ve got these tools that I just can’t imagine not using them for local SEO, like local Falcon, which will show your physician in Google Maps results, the three pack, the local pack and the Google results. If you are, let’s say even 10 miles away from your current location, your headquarters, your local results could be markedly different. And how are you going to know without VPNs or traveling around town and doing searches from your mobile phone? You need to use a tool like Local Falcon. It’ll show you a grid of whether you’re in the top three positions and what position you’re at, and it’s kind of like a heat map sort of thing and across a whole metro area. So you can see, oh, I’m really strong in this part of town, but not at like I’m invisible in this other part of town.

(16:41): Maybe I need to start up a satellite office by appointment only. Not a sketchy thing like a UPS store location, but a real legit office there. And you don’t have to pay a fortune for that. It might be under a thousand dollars a month for an office that has signage that is really a real office, not a PO box, and that could make a world of difference. And now you’ve got two locations and now you’re really strong in that other part of town that you were invisible for. How are you going to know this and track this without a tool like Local Falcon? So yeah, you need different tools and strategies for local search than just regular SEL.

John (17:27): You said 10 miles. I’ve seen half a mile in a very competitive, like I live salon, a hair salon or something where there’s one on every corner. Really, geographic proximity is tough. You mentioned tools like Local Falcon. What are some AI tools, business people who are trying to optimize their content, create new content, be more efficient in creating content? What are your favorite current tools? I know tomorrow I’ll ask you and it’ll change, but what are they

Stephan (17:55): Today I’m going to start with the tried and true obvious AI tools, and that would be Chat g, pt, and Claude, which I would think I consider to be, it’s it’s big rival or Arch Enemy. Anthropic is the creator of Claude, and Open AI is the creator of Chat, GPT. And some of the folks, some of the top leadership at Open AI left and started Anthropic and created this competing Claude AI tool. And it’s amazing. It’s got a hundred thousand at this point in time, a hundred thousand token limit on input, meaning that you could upload an entire book and have it use that as part of your input. So you could upload, let’s say a manifesto or how you think and operate in the world and your values and philosophy on life and business or whatever for your industry. You have that manifesto, you upload that and you ask Claude or chat GPT questions based on your understanding of my company, my brand from this uploaded manifesto, come up with a voice and tone guideline for me, come up with a social media strategy for me, come up with an editorial calendar for my blog for me, and it will do incredibly well.

(19:19): And that is so much better than just typing in a prompt. I mean, yeah, you get sophisticated with prompts and do your prompt engineering, but why not upload something that’s really representative of your company, your brand, your unique differentiating point of difference, and then you let the AI come up with all sorts of different things, social media posts and draft blog articles and strategy documents and positioning statements and so forth based on its understanding of you from that kind of cornerstone piece of content that you’ve uploaded. So there’s that. There’s using super prompts, which are prompts, the input that you type in. It’s on steroids because everything has been thought through, and you don’t have to think through all these things yourself. You don’t have to come up with like, please ignore all prior prompts. I want it to not be influenced by a whole series of previous questions that I asked.

(20:23): I want it to create, let’s say a table marked down table. So it’s nice pretty formatted table. I want it to not display any kind of narration or explanation around why it’s outputting particular things. Just want the output file of whatever my editorial calendar is that I don’t want to explain. Its thinking as it’s going along. So all these things baked into what’s called a super prompt, which might be 250 words of stuff. If you can paste somebody’s super prompt, whether it’s on creating a keyword strategy or on even creating other super prompts or on writing a blog post or something, you are going to end up with such better output because the old adage from the programmer days of garbage in, garbage out still applies. If you write a lousy prompt, you’ll get lousy output. So that’s the difference maker right there. And you don’t have to go to all the fancy new tools, which may not exist in six months. They might go out of business. So if you’ve got a podcast, you could be using, let’s say, cap show or Cast Magic or decipher without, it’s like decipher without the E at the end. It’s just R without ER. So these tools are awesome, and who knows which ones will exist in six months from now chat, GPT, that’ll exist, Claude will exist, Google Bard will exist. So you get masterful at those. Wow. You’re going to be definitely leapfrogging your competitors.

John (22:05): Yeah. Awesome advice. Well, Stefan, I appreciate you taking a moment to stop by the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. Is there somewhere you’d invite people to connect with you, learn about your work? Obviously pick up a copy of the latest edition of The Art

Stephan (22:16): Of sel? Yeah. In fact, if let’s say, if Handful, I’ve got the publisher is O’Reilly, and so I can’t just give away copies of the book, just add infinitum. But I did get permission from my publisher to give away a handful of copies. So if somebody wants to email and just say they want to kind of put themselves into the lottery for a free art of SEO fourth edition digital copy, I’ll send some of them and actually everyone can get a copy of Google Power Search, which is in its third edition, which I do have a hundred percent of the rights of. So I can send that to everybody who sends an inquiry. My personal website’s, stephan and net is my agency. And you mentioned at the beginning my two podcast shows Marketing Speak, which you’ve been on, john marketing, and then get yourself optimized, which is get yourself Not an SEO podcast may sound like one, but it’s actually personal development.

John (23:20): Nice. Awesome.

Boss Beauty Unveiled: Empowering Women Through Inspiring Stories & Strategies

Boss Beauty Unveiled: Empowering Women Through Inspiring Stories & Strategies written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

The Duct Tape Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch

In this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I interviewed Lisa Mayer, an entrepreneur, philanthropist, and co-founder and CEO of Boss Beauties, a media and entertainment brand with roots in digital collectibles that inspires women and girls to be everything they want to be through impact programs, content, and consumer products.

With a mission to inspire women and girls worldwide, Lisa shares insights into the power of women’s empowerment and the strategies for fostering it in today’s world.

Key Takeaways

Lisa Mayer, CEO of Boss Beauties, shares actionable strategies for women’s empowerment in this episode. Drawing from her book: Boss Beauty: Inspiration to Be Everything You Want, we uncover embracing the fearless pursuit to cultivating confidence and kindness. In this girl powered episode listeners gain insights into the Boss Beauty mindset. Through mentorship and taking proactive steps towards empowerment, women and men can make a meaningful impact in their lives and communities. Join us on this transformative journey towards a brighter, and equal future for all.

Questions I ask Lisa Mayer:

[00:51] Describe this very visual book in your own words?

[03:09] Would you say that men can learn a lot from this book as well?

[03:40] With this book what does Boss Beauty hope to accomplish and bring into the world?

[05:29] What are digital collectibles, how and why are they featured in this book?

[08:14] What was the selection process like for the inspirational women that feature in this book ?

[14:30] Would you say that overcoming adversity is a common characteristic the women featured in this book share?

[16:54] Do you have some advice and strategies for the particular kinds of challenges women face in business as opposed to men?

[18:38] Would you say you have a superpower?

[20:33] How would you define boss beauty?

[22:05] Where can people connect with you and grab a copy of your book?



More About Lisa Mayer:


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

Connect with John Jantsch on LinkedIn


This episode of The Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by ActiveCampaign

Try ActiveCampaign free for 14 days with our special offer. Sign up for a 15% discount on annual plans until Mar 31,2024. Exclusive to new customers—upgrade and grow your business with ActiveCampaign today!


John (00:08): Hello and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch. My guest today is Lisa Mayer. She’s an entrepreneur, philanthropist, and co-founder and CEO of Boss Beauties, a media and entertainment brand with roots in digital collectibles that inspires women and girls to be everything they want to be through impact programs, content and consumer products. We’re going to talk about her recently released Book Boss Beauty Inspiration to Be Everything You Want. So Lisa, welcome to the show.

Lisa (00:43): Thank you so much for having me, John. I’m excited to be here.

John (00:46): So the book, obviously we do video snippets, but most people are listening to this. So describe the book because it’s obviously a very visual book, more so than a lot of books. So describe the book.

Lisa (00:59): Yeah, absolutely, and I’ll show it on screen a little bit. I know you do some clips and so you can see it as well. So Boss Beauty, inspiration to Be Everything you Want. It officially launches on March 12th, just in time for Women’s History Month. We thought if we’re going to have the book launch at a special time, make it happen in Women’s History Month, which is exciting. But the book features inspiration advice, real world wisdom and quotes and inspiration from Incredible Boss Beauties that I’ve met along the way. Just many different role models from a lot of different industries. So we have Olympian, Allison Felix, who has some inspiration and a quote in the book. We have one of our board members, Randy Zuckerberg, so she’s featured in the book. We have a NASCAR race car driver, Julia Landor, who I attended actually one of her races a little over a year ago.

(02:05): And to be a female NASCAR race driver in that industry, it’s very competitive, so we wanted to feature her, but basically the book features a lot of wisdom and advice from incredible women role models in all different industries. The book also features the artwork from our Boss Beauties digital collectible collection. So we have 10,000 unique portraits, our Boss Beauties, and the book artwork is really bold and vibrant and bright, and so the book actually can live on coffee tables, desks, bookshelves, you name it, schools in boardrooms of women and girls of all ages. And I hope that it really inspires them when they’re going into a big meeting or maybe a big pitch or something that they’re a little nervous for. We want that book to be like, it’s cheering them on during those situations.

John (03:09): What about us guys? Don’t you think some men should actually acquire this book as well?

Lisa (03:14): A hundred percent I do. Yeah. And we have a lot of people in the Boss Beauties community that have gotten the book for their daughters, or maybe a woman they mentor, someone that they work with. So a hundred percent we’re building a community of women and men all over the world.

John (03:36): It’s probably self-evident somewhat, but I always like to ask a lot of authors, what would be a perfect accomplishment for this book? What do you want it to actually help bring to the world or do?

Lisa (03:48): Yeah, for me, the book is something where it’s really special to me that this book is getting our digital collectibles artwork that started in the digital realm out there into the world in a physical format. So I love that our digital collectibles will now live in this book and can be in bookstores, on desks all over where women and girls can pick it up physically. So just the fact that we’re getting this book out there is really special and meaningful to me. But my dream is to get this book out there to millions of women and girls all over the world. I dream really big. You never know if you put that dream out there, but I’d love it to be in schools, in businesses, colleges, all over the world and really to reach millions of women and girls. But the stories that I hear even about Boss Beauties reaching various girls in the community, it’s always really special. So even when we reach one woman or girl or motivate them, I love hearing those stories too. So of course any way we can make an impact at a grassroots level too that’s really meaningful,

John (05:13): Just need to get it in the hands of Taylor Swift at this point. I think that’s hundred percent.

Lisa (05:18): Yeah, that’s true. That’s a good point. They called it the Taylor Swift Effect, I think. Right?

John (05:27): It’s the new Oprah Effect. You’ve mentioned digital collectibles a few times. I know what they are, but maybe some people in the audience don’t really understand what that concept is, so maybe talk a little bit about what that actually is, and of course then how and why it’s featured in the book.

Lisa (05:43): Yeah, of course. Absolutely. So Boss Beauties, the way our company originally started, and right now we’re really building a media and entertainment brand. So we’ve branched out of where our roots were in Web3, but for anyone who’s listening that’s not familiar, boss Beauties initially started in the fall of 2021 and my son was about three months old. I’m going to share a little of the story too. That’s perfect. So my son was about three months old. It was not actually the most ideal time at that moment to start a new company, launch a new venture, but I had followed John, I’m sure you saw it’s super interesting to follow what was happening in the Web3 space with NFTs. We are now calling them digital collectibles, but just seeing the rise of digital assets with digital artwork. I mean, people were really buying digital assets. And so at that time, we launched Boss Beauties.

(06:48): We launched 10,000 Digital Collectibles again at that time known as NFTs, and we sold them and we built this global community. And what that really means is that people were able to acquire a digital asset. I mean, we all understand when we’d go to the store or buy something on Amazon maybe, or to buy new clothing, or maybe we buy a new phone or we all understand and really grasp what it means to buy and purchase a physical product that we can hold in our hand. That’s not something that any of us need explaining, right? But digital assets, that has been something that’s been growing over the last few years. And so consumers started to buy digital assets in the form of digital collectibles. And it’s really interesting because you can actually track who owns a particular digital asset on the blockchain. So if you’re looking and if you’re listening and you don’t see this, I’m showing it to John, but I’m showing him one NFT if we can actually see who owns these particular boss beauties because there’s a certificate of ownership, which is really cool.

John (08:14): How did you go about selecting, you mentioned some of the people that were going to meet in the book. Did you have a criteria or a process, or did you just want a lot of diversity in who was represented, or did you have a process because there’s obviously a fair number in the book.

Lisa (08:34): Yeah, the way I first started is thinking about some of the real life Boss beauties in my own life and people that mentored me and just people that I really looked up to. So I had been reading a lot about Allison Felix, who’s actually the most, Alison holds the most medals of any track and field athlete that has competed in the Olympics, I believe of all time. I’d have to look up that stat. But Alison really inspired me with her journey, and Allison in particular, she actually had to hide her pregnancy while she was competing and training for the Olympics, and I just thought there’s a lot to her story that was really inspiring and how she’s spoken out for athletes that are also moms. I mean, anyone who’s listening, you can look up Alison, but just read her story. It’s really inspiring, but that’s just one example. I really wanted to feature Real Life Boss beauties and different role models that have a story to tell and that inspire me personally and a lot of different careers too. I wanted this book to inspire women and girls from all different industries and careers. So even if you don’t want to be a NASCAR race car driver or be an Olympic athlete, you can still learn a lot from the stories of the women that are featured as well.

John (10:09): It’s my pleasure to welcome a new sponsor to the podcast. Our friends at ActiveCampaign. ActiveCampaign helps small teams power big businesses with the must have platform for intelligent marketing automation. We’ve been using ActiveCampaign for years here at Duct Tape Marketing to power our subscription forms, email newsletters and sales funnel drip campaigns. ActiveCampaign is that rare platform that’s affordable, easy to use, and capable of handling even the most complex marketing automation needs, and they make it easy to switch. They provide every new customer with one-on-one personal training and free migrations from your current marketing automation or email marketing provider. You can try ActiveCampaign for free for 14 days and there’s no credit card required. Just visit tape. That’s right. Duct Tape Marketing podcast listeners who sign up via that link. We’ll also receive 15% off an annual plan if purchased by March 31st, 2024. That’s tape. Now, this offer is limited to new active campaign customers only. So what are you waiting for? Fuel your growth, boost revenue, and save precious time by upgrading to active campaign today. You have mentioned mentorship a number of times. I’m guessing you’re a big fan of the practice. Do you believe that that’s an essential development tool for, I mean for anyone, obviously you’re talking about women and girls, but really do you feel like mentorship is something everybody ought to pursue, really from both being mentee and mentored?

Lisa (11:50): A hundred percent. Yeah. I think, and mentorship is something that’s really helped me in my own career and just reaching out to different role models and asking them their advice and asking them for their feedback, and really getting into those rooms where I could meet with mentors that have been further along in my own journey. But I think one of the things I would mention in addition to mentorship is actually just getting access to people in these professions. So let me give you an example. Our company, boss Beauties, recently hosted internship. It was a paid internship for five students that are studying computer science, and it’s actually called the Sprint internship. It’s like a sprint internship. We hosted it in partnership with this nonprofit Breakthrough Tech, which has an incredible mission. But in that internship, what we tried to do is set up ways for those students to get access to people from all different industries and careers.

(13:00): One of our investors, he actually was on the founding team at founding Macintosh team. He was a longtime advisor to Steve Jobs building, iTunes, and a lot of the technologies that Apple launched. So that’s just one example, but we set up those interns to have a mentorship chat or conversation with that investor of ours, James, who’s just a phenomenal role model. And we like those types of things to be set up in a lot of the things we do because they’re then getting access to incredible people from different industries, getting to learn from them, even just getting to meet them and ask them questions or spend time with them. We’ve brought students down to the New York Stock Exchange to meet women in the finance industry, and sometimes not just the mentorship side, but getting to go into those buildings and see themselves in the New York Stock Exchange or in Apple or in these boardrooms and the companies that they want to work at. We also think that goes a long way as well as paying them paid internships, opportunities like that, that also compensate them for their work and their talents.

John (14:28): Did you find that of the women represented in the book, did you find that there are common traits, common characteristics, grit, overcoming adversity? Are there a handful that show up a lot?

Lisa (14:40): I love this question because I would absolutely say that’s true, John. What’s really interesting is that some of the women featured in this book, their actual, their expertise is very different, like their technical expertise, right? Right. Alison Felix is this Olympic athlete that clearly can run a lot faster than I can. And then you have someone like Julia who is this competitive NASCAR race car driver. Her skill sets are very different than Allison’s. And then you look at some of the others that are in the book, there’s Olympic softball player, there are CEOs, women in technology, but there is a common thread of what I’ve observed in all of these boss beauties and women, and I a hundred percent agree and go into your question and saying, I would say that grit and resilience, those are the two things that I notice that’s common in everybody in this book. And just the fact that they don’t give up, and they might have different technical skill sets and different knowledge and things they’re actually doing in their industry, but they all have those common traits of having that resilience and not giving up and continuing to keep going.

John (16:11): Yeah, I mean, I think you could mark those as just success traits in general for people who overcome, because you start a business, you have to have a lot of grit. You’re going to have a lot of resistance, you’ve got to get up. Again, people, everyone starts in a different place. Some people have great advantages to be able to get to where they are. Some people really have to overcome things that are unimaginable and sometimes in some cases. So do you ever coach people on strategies in particular women, because unfortunately, as you’ve noted, women have to in business even still today in 2024, still have to overcome a lot of things that men don’t. Do you ever give any advice or strategies for how to overcome those types of challenges as women, particularly in the business arena?

Lisa (17:03): Yeah, I do actually. And I’ve talked a lot to different women that are entrepreneurs and founding companies specifically, but not just for entrepreneurs. I think one of the things that I’ve coached them on is showing up with confidence. So I learned a lot about confidence early on in my entrepreneurial journey because as an entrepreneur, you’re not going into a big meeting with an established company name behind you. You’re not going into that pitch with saying, I worked with Apple, or I work with Disney or Barbie, or whatever the brand is. As an entrepreneur, you’re going in without that recognizable name. That’s an established brand or corporation that someone already knows. And so a lot of it is the confidence that you have and the conviction that you have in your ideas and in yourself. So that is one of the things that I’ve coached other entrepreneurs on as well as other women in business. And I think that’s a big part. Of course, knowing, having the expertise, there’s a lot of technical expertise and knowledge about finance and business that comes into play. Clearly can’t just be confidence, you need to back it up. But I would say that’s one of the things that I’ve coached women that I’ve mentored on along the way.

John (18:38): Would you say you have a superpower?

Lisa (18:41): That’s a great question. I have to think about that. Oh my goodness. I think all of us have a superpower, right, John?

John (18:49): That’s where I was headed because a lot of, when I heard you talk about you have to have that confidence, well, a lot of that confidence comes from knowing your unique ability or your unique strength that you bring. And so a lot of people do characterize that as a superpower. So that’s where I was headed with that.

Lisa (19:06): Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I think, you know what one of my superpowers is goes back to that last question because one of my superpowers is being able to envision something that’s not happening today, and maybe it seems almost impossible that you could achieve it at the stage you’re at right now. But I do really put those things on my vision board. A few years ago, I put it on my vision board that Boss Beauties, which was a brand new company which partner with Mattel and Barbie. And clearly Barbie was a much larger company. Mattel is a much larger company than Boss Beauties was. But I wrote that down and a lot of people said I was a little crazy. I write down some of these big dreams and goals, and then I don’t see it as impossible. I truly feel like nothing’s impossible if you really keep going and don’t give up and find the right way to achieve those dreams.

John (20:15): And I mean, it’s improbable if you don’t at least start with that thought, right?

Lisa (20:21): Yeah, definitely.

John (20:23): So tell people where, well, one of the questions I probably should have asked you in the very beginning was even just this idea of Boss Beauty. What is a boss beauty? How do you define that? How does somebody become their own boss? Beauty? Is there a true definition or is that up to me to define?

Lisa (20:48): So two answers. I’ll share with you how we’ve defined Boss Beauty in our book, but I don’t want it to stop there. I really want people to form their own definition of what that means to them. So I’m going to show you the book. Here’s one of the pages and some of the artwork definition of a Boss Beauty. And again, this is just how we’ve defined it, but we said Boss Beauty is a woman who is in fearless pursuit of her dreams, one who is kind. I added the kind. I thought that was important, kind, confident, bold, brave, has grit and never gives up. She is pursuing her many passions and knows her worth. So that’s how we’ve defined it. But again, I want it to feel personal to anybody. What do you believe being a boss beauty means to you?

John (21:49): Yeah. So it’s really, rather than a definition, it’s more of an attitude probably. Right. Would be a way to look at it. That’s

Lisa (21:55): A great, yeah, I’m going to start using that. I’ll credit you though, John. Don’t worry. That’s

John (22:01): Quite all right. So Lisa, I appreciate you taking a moment to stop by the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. You want to invite people where they can find the book and maybe connect with you and learn more about your work?

Lisa (22:10): Yeah, absolutely. So you can find Boss Beauties online at boss beauties com, and then from the Boss Beauties website, you’ll find links to pre-order the book. You can find us on social. Our handle is Boss Beauties, and then my handle is Lisa Mayer. And then finally, I want to share one really cool thing that I’m passionate about and excited about for the book is that we are going to be hosting different book chats. We’re calling them Book Boss Beauties. Book bashes, kind of like a Boss Beauties book party. But we’re bringing together different women in business, different industries where they can bring their daughters, they can bring women and girls they mentor or maybe a mentee at their company, bring together and gather the boss beauties in their world. So we’re going to be setting these up virtually and even in person. So if anyone who’s listening is interested or wants to be a part of what we’re building here, would love for you to reach out. There will be parts of our website where you can sign up to get involved as well. Right.

John (23:26): Awesome. Well, again, I appreciate you taking a moment to stop by the podcast, and hopefully we’ll run into you one of these days out there on the road.

Crafting Your Leadership Story: Lessons Around the Campfire

Crafting Your Leadership Story: Lessons Around the Campfire written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

The Duct Tape Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch

In this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I interviewed Tony Martignetti, a leadership advisor, coach, bestselling author, podcast host, and speaker. With over 25 years of business and leadership experience, Tony brings a wealth of knowledge to the table. Our conversation dives into the intricacies of crafting a compelling leadership story, drawing inspiration from the metaphor of traditional campfire stories.


Key Takeaways

Key Takeaways: Embark on a transformative journey with Tony Martignetti as he emphasizes the power of storytelling in crafting compelling leadership narratives. By overcoming self-limiting beliefs, fostering a culture of continuous learning, and embracing remote work dynamics, leaders can navigate challenges, drive innovation, and build resilient organizations. Tony’s insights empower leaders to unlock their true potential, unite teams, and thrive in today’s ever-evolving business landscape.


Questions I ask Tony Martignetti:

[01:27] Why the metaphor ‘campfire stories’ ?

[02:22] Explain the concept of Intentionally creating your own world

[03:35] Would you say storytelling has become an essential leadership skill today?

[04:46] Would you agree that the power of stories helps achieve understanding in an authentic way?

[06:18] Would you say building trust is a key element in telling stories?

[07:17] What is disruptive thinking and what are some examples of how to apply them in business?

[10:38] How do businesses overcome self-imposed limitations to leadership?

[12:27] What habit or practice do you believe would help businesses build confidence in achieving their set goals?

[14:20] How can businesses foster a mindset and culture around learning and teaching new things?

[14:20] What is a great medium to cultivate and share campfire stories?

[16:24] Where can people connect with you and grab a copy of your book?



More About Tony Martignetti:


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

Connect with John Jantsch on LinkedIn


John (00:08): Hello and welcome to another episode, the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch. My guest today is Tony Martignetti He’s a leadership advisor, coach, bestselling author, podcast host, and speaker. He brings together over 25 years of business and leadership experience an extreme curiosity to elevate leaders and equip them with the tools to navigate through, change and unlock their true potential. We’re going to talk about his latest book, campfire Lessons for Leaders, how Uncovering Our Past Can Propel Us Forward. So Tony, welcome to the show.

Tony (00:43): Well, thank you so much. I’m thrilled to be here.

John (00:45): So I see your very Italian last name. You told me you’re from Boston, so I’m envisioning some of the South sider kind of accent coming out of you. Have I been watching too many movies?

Tony (01:01): Too many movies. I actually grew up in the suburbs, so I don’t have that real Boston accent, but I’ll do my best if you’d like that.

John (01:12): Okay, yeah, yeah. It’s the Matt Damon line. Let’s go up to Hava and beat up some smart guys or something. That’s what I was envisioning. I

Tony (01:19): Like them apples. I like them apples.

John (01:22): Alright, so right off the bat, I mean I want to get into part of the title. You use the concept of being drawn into the campfire. Just help me understand a little bit of why that metaphor.

Tony (01:34): Yeah, I mean, campfire has first of all been something that for me has meant a lot throughout my entire life. I’ve always been someone who loves being outdoors and around campfires. But let’s be honest, there’s campfires have been this place where the most powerful stories get told, and it’s been since the beginning of human history, since we found fire, we’ve decided to gather around it. And it’s not just for the superficial stories, it’s more for the deep, more transformational conversations that happen there.

John (02:11): We would go camping. My dad would always tell scary stories. I just married scare the heck out of us around the campfire. It was kind of fun for that too, but it was also a great bonding, right, A bonding moment too. So early on in the book you talk about this idea of creating your own world, in fact intentionally creating one’s world. So help us understand that idea.

Tony (02:34): Yeah. Sometimes we have this expectation that the way things are the, that the environments are put into are what we have to accept. Reality is that that’s not true. That we have more agency over crafting our environment and also creating things that didn’t exist before. So I think that’s an important way to think about how to navigate your own life and create your own story about what you want to have. So I think one of the things that I often connect with, and you’ll hear from some of the stories in the book, if you pick it up, there’s this idea that if something doesn’t exist, you may have to go internally and say, well, maybe I’m the one to create it.

John (03:27): Yeah, yeah. So I think you’ve mentioned storytelling a number of times. Obviously the campfire brings up that idea of storytelling. Has that become an essential leadership skill in your mind?

Tony (03:40): Yeah, I think that we, and sometimes people, they get it on the surface of this idea of like, okay, yeah, we need to be able to tell stories in order to pitch to investors and such and such and such. But then they lose the idea that storytelling has to be ingrained in everything we do. What’s the story we’re telling our employees? What are these stories that our employees are telling each other and how are we ensuring that they’re all coming from a place of wanting to ensure that we’re all connected around what’s real? What is the drive us to a better connection? So storytelling when done, can get people aligned and also motivate people to move in the right direction.

John (04:33): I mean, I know we’ve all experienced this, right? You go and you hear somebody maybe a speaker at an event and they’re trying to communicate an idea or a concept and they always, because it’s kind of speaker training, go into some sort of story to help illustrate the point. And I think a lot of that’s just a realization that people learn better that way. I mean, is that really part of the power of storytelling is that you can get a lot more across in a much more authentic way?

Tony (05:03): Yeah, I mean it is, but I think I want to start with something a little bit more internal first, which is that the story helps to solidify for us the speaker and the person who’s sharing the concept, and we get it inside of us when we realize that the story we’re sharing helps us to understand the concept better. And so we’re able to connect with the idea on a deeper level and therefore we’re able to communicate it more effectively. So it starts with the person who’s sharing the idea, and then that helps to bridge the divide, if you will, between that person who’s sharing it and the person who’s receiving it. Whether or not it’s the same message that is not in our control, but what is in our control is that we feel the message and the message is then being portrayed and connected to somebody else.

John (06:04): And I think there’s also a level of trust building that goes on is in there in storytelling. I mean, I know when I’ve gone to a website and you see, first thing you see is a video and it’s the founder talking about what problem they were trying to solve or why they do what they do. And there’s kind of this immediate trust that to me goes far beyond a great marketing message trying to sell me something. I mean, is that probably an element as well?

Tony (06:30): Yeah, I mean, I’m glad you went to trust. I think there’s an element of that which is so important, is to trust that this person’s intentions are coming from the right place. And I came from an industry where I was working in biotech for a number of years, and so oftentimes you want to know, is this person doing it just for the money or they doing it because there’s someone standing behind them or a patient that they have in mind that this is driving them forward and saying, I’m doing this for my mother, I’m doing this for my child. And that is what at the center, and not just in their mind, but in their heart is what’s driving them to do what they do.

John (07:15): One of the chapters is actually titled Your thinking. So do you have some examples? I know you have examples in the book and in your own podcast this where you’ve gathered some of these examples of what disruptive thinking looks like and how we should maybe even approach that idea. It sounds sort of radical to some people, but you’re not putting it out there as a radical idea as much as a practical idea.

Tony (07:41): Yeah, and oftentimes we think of disruption as being this, oh gosh, we have to be the disruptive child in the background in the class, or it has to be this groundbreaking thing, but disruption can be a small act that then changes everything slowly over time. So I think we have to think of it that way too because when I think about personal disruption, it’s looking at things from saying, I’ve always been doing X and I’ve always been seeing these results come through this. What I need to do is maybe stop what I’m doing and really reframe the whole trajectory of what I’m doing and think about how could I pivot and move in different direction using what I’ve already known. It’s completely changing the game. I think of Whitney Johnson as the person who comes to mind almost immediately because she wrote the book about disrupting yourself, and I think she disrupted her own self by taking herself out of Wall Street and doing investment banking and then deciding to go off and become an author and a person who helps to shape the world of personal development and growth. It’s kind of an interesting concept

John (09:00): In marketing circles, a lot of times a disruption’s just looking at your industry and saying, well, everybody’s website that is in this industry looks just like this. How could we zig and look different? So it doesn’t have to always, as you said, be so disruptive. It can just be how can we be different?

Tony (09:18): Exactly. Exactly. Yeah. Think of your small active of disruption and use that as just a starting point, right? Because I know a lot of people get scared about putting up to and for skin to a new move.

John (09:32): Well, and there are some disruptions. I mean, example I like to cite all the time is newspapers got killed by Craigslist because they weren’t willing to disrupt their model. So instead of figuring out a way to change it in a way that would keep them still relevant, I suppose in the classified ads world, they basically just hung onto it and then lost everything.

Tony (09:56): Yeah, and I think that’s a perfect example, this idea of if you’re holding onto tightly to a story that you’re telling yourself or to a thing that you think is part of who you are, and maybe it’s time to let go of that and start to move in a different direction because that other direction could be what propels you forward.

John (10:22): So I work with a lot of entrepreneurs, some that are starting, some that have been around business a long time, and there are a lot of what stops them from trying something new from growing, even things they know, they know this is what I should do, is that there’s some self-limiting beliefs, and I know you write about that quite a bit. I mean, what are some ways that people might overcome some of the self-imposed limitations that they have that are stopping them?

Tony (10:51): Yeah, I mean one of the best ways to start that is to really look back and look at some of the ways that they’ve done things that are incredible in the past. We sometimes lose sight of the brilliant things we’ve accomplished, I think sometimes of this concept called the gap in the game, which is if you’re always focusing on what you haven’t done yet or how much further you have to go your gap, there’s a challenge that you’re always feeling less than you’re always feeling like, I can’t do that or look how much further I have to go. But if you think about all the things you’ve accomplished and you think about how you overcame that, more than likely you overcame limiting belief by taking action. And so I think the key thing is to stop and look back and see where have I done things that I didn’t know how to do before and what did I have to disbelief unlearn to then move forward in the uncertainty of that?

John (11:55): A great other book that you just referenced there, the Gap in the Gain by Dan Sullivan and Ben Hardy really goes very deep into that specific practice. Chapter nine or chapter eight, take the Courageous Leap. For a lot of people, maybe these things kind of intersect each other, but I mean that’s really easy to say. That’s a really easy one. Leap in the net will appear. You hear all the things like that, right? What’s going to practice or what habit is going to get somebody to the point where they say, yeah, I can do that. Do they have to have their back against the wall? Do they have to failed so badly that they’re like, what if I have to let to lose? I mean, what motivates somebody to do that thing that is so scary or at least scary sounding?

Tony (12:45): Yeah, I mean, one of the starting points I always think about is to really look at the risks first and get informed. The framework I use throughout the book is this idea of the three Cs, which is curiosity, connection, and compassion. And I think if you use those three Cs as a way to look at the landscape before you take the leap, you’re trying to understand, well, what’s the worst that could happen? If I take this leap, what are the potential risks that I’m going to be jumping into? Is this something I can come back to, come back from? Sorry, those are the things you’re looking for. And also know that if you do leap out, what can I do to make sure that I’m supporting myself along the way, or if I make a mistake, am I going to beat myself up about it? No, I mean, I got to be okay with making mistakes. I just had a conversation about startups and how many failures there are out there. People only think about the ones that have naked, but there’s billions upon billions of startups that don’t make it. And luckily,

John (13:55): You’re right. We never do it.

Tony (13:57): So I think that’s part of

John (13:58): It. So I’ve always felt, whether I call myself a continuous learner, I think I just like it. I’m curious. I love learning new things. That’s actually what I’ve done this career for 30 years, and a lot has changed. Technology has changed, and I think what’s allowed me to stay in the game, frankly, is that I enjoy learning the new things and teaching the new things. But how, in your mind, how can leaders foster that mindset, not just themselves, but really with all their teams, with their entire company? Because I think it becomes a culture asset to have a group of folks that think that way.

Tony (14:33): Yeah. I think the starting point of being in that place of the continuous learning is to really understand what is it that I’ve come to believe is true, and where do I want to challenge my understanding? Because sometimes the best learning comes from this place of where have I become settled and not really challenging? Maybe those are the areas where I really need to push the envelope or question again. And so I think pushing on those elements are important, and you can do that best in a collective nature. When you’re with other people and you’re like, Hey, I’ve always thought that this is the truth. What do you think? Who has another idea? Who has another perspective? And this comes to something that I mentioned at the very end of the book. When I originally started this, the concept of my podcast called The Virtual Campfire, which led to the book, I had this idea of bringing together what’s called Divergent Minds and then Convergent Hearts, different thinkers coming together and sharing ideas so that people could challenge themselves to see different perspectives. Not that we have to agree, but it’s about thinking different. But converging hearts is about respecting each other and leaving connected by this way of like, Hey, if we get together, maybe at least we can honor.

(16:01): That was the idea.

John (16:02): Need a good facilitator? Good facilitator for that. Right?

Tony (16:05): Absolutely.

John (16:06): Keep the knee jerk reactions in it.

Tony (16:08): No doubt. I think that’s why it’s important. You have to have a safe space. You have to make sure that it’s a community that is willing to be okay with that. You can’t be breaking into fist fights and such.

John (16:20): So increasingly today, myself included, my entire team is distributed. Our campfire metaphor is slack. Does that bring some different dynamics? It certainly brings different dynamics, I guess I should say. Does that require some different practices to make this work?

Tony (16:39): It does, but I want to also say even though it’s always better in person, let’s be honest, there’s something about being in person with people that brings a new dimension. Dimension. That’s right. But I think you can do a lot through Slack and you can do a lot through virtual communication, but it’s all about how you approach it, and it’s all about setting the stage. And so the key thing is to make sure that you are not just weaving it back into all the other business and saying, okay, now we’ve done that. Let’s all sit around and talk. But you have to create a moment for that. Maybe it’s about connecting through a special event. You just say, Hey, let’s have a campfire conversation, and that’s where we’re going to sit down and talk about what’s new, what’s going on with you, and what are the things that you haven’t talked about in a while, but you think would be great to share.

John (17:38): Yeah, we have discovered it takes intention. Of course, it takes consistency. We have a couple channels that are set up specifically for sharing things outside of work specifically for, we pose a question every week that has nothing to do with work and everybody answers and things like that really do kind of allow people to feel like they can. It’s not all business all the time. For sure.

Tony (18:07): Yeah.

John (18:08): Yeah. Tony, I appreciate you stopping by the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. You want to invite people where they might connect with you, learn about your work, and certainly learn about how they can pick up a copy of Campfire Lessons for Leaders.

Tony (18:22): Fantastic. Well, first of all, I want to thank you. This has been really a great conversation. I love your questions, and the best place for people to find me is my That’s I with a letter I, not BI. And you can find me there, and if you go there, you’ll find out all types of great things. I have an assessment, so I have all types of cool stuff to check out. And then the other places is on LinkedIn. I’m really active there, so you can find me under my name Tony Martini with a one at the end instead of an I got to make things difficult, I guess. And then the last place, Amazon’s a great place to find my books. You can find my new book, campfire Lessons, and also my previous book, which is called Climbing the Right Mountain.

John (19:08): Awesome. Great. Again, appreciate you taking a moment to stop by, and hopefully we’ll run into you on these days out there on the road.

Smart Strategies: How to Get Leads That Convert

Smart Strategies: How to Get Leads That Convert written by Shawna Salinger read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Leads are the fuel that drives the growth of every business. Without leads, you don’t have clients. Without clients – there’s no business! In this post, I’ll show you how to get leads through strategic messaging, increasing your visibility, and a systemized approach.

This post will walk you through shifting your mindset from selling to solving, and crafting messages that resonate with your target audience. Plus, we’ll dive into lead generation strategies, how to create content that actually gets leads, and how to network strategically by building relationships.

You’ll leave with actionable insights on attracting sales qualified leads online, nurturing them effectively via email marketing, and using lead magnets wisely—all without getting lost in complexity or hype. You’ll also understand how to use online lead generation to connect with your ideal clients. 

Table Of Contents:

Embracing the Mindset Shift for Effective Lead Generation

The journey from self-promotion to a customer-centric strategy is like moving from being the hero of your story to becoming the guide in your client’s narrative. This mindset shift focuses more on increasing trust than proving yourself, especially important for newcomers.

The Importance of Trust Over Proof

In today’s market, building a relationship based on trust with potential clients holds more weight than showcasing endless qualifications. For new consultants aiming to increase their lead generation success, it’s crucial to understand that people are looking for solutions they can believe in—not just another service provider trying to prove themselves.

Adopting this approach means prioritizing understanding and empathy over hard sells and cold facts. By focusing on solving customers’ problems rather than pushing services, professionals position themselves as trustworthy advisors—a key factor in turning prospects into loyal customers.

Solving Not Selling – The Key to Customer Engagement

Nobody wants what you sell, they simply want their problems solved. You need to flip the script from selling your solution to solving their problems instead. It’s not about you; it’s about how well you understand and address their needs. 

Rather than spending time talking about your own expertise and what you do, it’s more important to connect with a potential client about their pitfalls and challenges. What keeps them up at night worrying? That is what you should craft your message around. 

For example, As a personal trainer, market yourself not just as offering workout sessions, but as boosting confidence and empowerment. It’s about selling a better lifestyle, not just a workout session.

This approach also transforms how we network, fostering real relationships centered on mutual success rather than quick wins. Keep in mind, when you genuinely focus on helping others thrive, attracting new leads becomes seamless.

Crafting Your Talking Logo for Clear Communication

Developing a concise and impactful talking logo to effectively communicate your value proposition. You can think of the Talking Logo as a quick answer to that familiar question, “What do you do?” Remember, your talking logo should be about how you help your clients – not about you. 

But how do we get there? You want a phrase – ideally 15 words or less – that hooks people’s interest and clearly explains what problem you solve. If they have that particular problem, your Talking Logo should have them saying, “Tell me more about that…”

Establishing an Online Presence That Builds Trust

A foundational piece of lead generation marketing is establishing an online presence that builds trust. When  someone looks you up online, you want them to find plenty of evidence that you really can solve their problems. 

Especially now with AI noise and security concerns you want people to know you are the real deal and you are the trusted expert they needed. 

So how do you do this?

First, you should be creating content that solves customers’ problems and that means you need to provide value. They’re not just looking for products or services; they’re searching for solutions to their problems. This is where valuable content steps in. By crafting content that addresses their specific issues, you offer them the solution they are looking for. 

Let’s say you’re aiming to help real estate agents generate more leads. A post like “5 Mistakes You’re Making with Your Online Listings and How to Fix Them” directly speaks to a common problem and positions you as someone who can solve it. Remember, it’s all about solving, not selling. The latter happens naturally. 

The secret sauce? Make sure every piece of content has actionable takeaways that readers can implement immediately and it is so valuable to them that they want to give you their information. 

Your website should also showcase testimonials from existing customers. Ask your current customers how you’ve solved their problems and include these responses throughout your site and in all the content you produce.

Gaining Visibility and Authority Through Speaking

Speaking is a great way to build trust by positioning yourself as an authority and demonstrating your ability to solve your customers’ problems. One of the biggest advantages of speaking is the ability to get in front of a large audience in a short amount of time. Whether it’s a room full of potential clients at a conference or a global audience via a webinar or podcast, you have the chance to extend your influence far beyond one-on-one meetings or networking events.

There are a few ways speaking opportunities can help you reach new leads:

Hosting Your Own Events: This is an excellent way to educate potential customers on the problems you solve. These events can be tailored specifically to your target audience, providing them with invaluable information and establishing your business as a go-to resource in your field.

Webinars: With the digital age in full swing, webinars offer a versatile platform to reach out to a broader audience. Webinars are an effective way to demonstrate your expertise, engage with attendees through Q&A sessions, and generate leads that are already warmed up to your offerings.

Podcasts: Whether you’re hosting your own show or appearing as a guest on other podcasts, this medium has exploded in popularity. It’s a fantastic way to reach new audiences, share your knowledge, and establish a personal connection with listeners. Podcasts also provide the added benefit of being consumable on the go, making them highly accessible to a busy professional audience.

Networking Strategies for Lead Generation

Building strategic partnerships is a great way to amplify your lead generation efforts. It’s not just about attending in-person events and exchanging business cards anymore. The focus on networking has shifted towards creating meaningful relationships that can provide a steady stream of referrals.

To make this work, start by identifying businesses or professionals whose services complement yours but don’t directly compete. This way, you can refer clients to each other confidently, knowing it’s mutually beneficial. For example, if you’re a real estate agent, partnering with local home inspection services or mortgage brokers could be incredibly fruitful.

The key here is consistency and providing value first before expecting anything in return. Hosting joint webinars, co-authoring blog posts on topics relevant to your shared target audience, or even running collaborative social media campaigns are effective tactics to draw attention from potential customers while strengthening your network ties.

Mastering Social Media to Generate Leads

While Social Media is more top of the funnel it does have its place and if done right can be very valuable to your business and leads overall. The trick? Knowing how to effectively use lead gen forms on platforms where your potential clients hang out.

To convert visitors into leads, your social media strategy needs more than catchy captions. It requires value plus frictionless conversion. What do I mean by this? Make it as easy as possible for them to give you their information. Picture this: You’re scrolling through your feed and see an offer you can’t refuse, but the form is longer than a Monday morning meeting. Chances are, you’ll pass. Short, sweet, and mobile-friendly—that’s the winning formula.

Quality leads go beyond the form itself. It starts with engaging content that positions you not just as a seller but as a problem solver in their eyes. Focusing on solving customer problems rather than pushing sales pitches will make those lead gen forms work harder for you because when people feel understood and helped, they’re more likely to share their email address or contact info willingly—a win-win situation where trust builds even before any transaction happens.

Email Marketing Techniques for Nurturing Leads

Developing a sequence of emails is like telling a story. The goal here is to keep potential clients not just interested, but eager to see what’s next or even engage past clients. This journey begins with segmentation.

With email segmentation, you can tailor your messages so they speak directly and personally to different groups of people in your audience. For example, say you’re a marketing consultant with clients across different industries, including healthcare and real estate. By segmenting your email list based on industry, you can send customized emails that provide targeted advice, case studies, and insights relevant to each sector. For instance, your emails to healthcare clients might focus on patient engagement strategies, while your communications with real estate professionals might highlight the latest trends in home buying.

It’s powerful stuff that can turn lukewarm leads into hot prospects ready for conversion. In fact, according to HubSpot, segmented emails result in a 30% higher open rate and a 50% increase in click-through rates than those that are not segmented.

A killer email welcome series for your audience is the bread and butter of nurturing these relationships further. They guide potential clients through every step, from introducing themselves as problem-solvers in their first email, offering valuable insights in subsequent ones, providing value maybe a lead magnet or free training and subtle and overt CTAs throughout. Each email should be crafted carefully—concise yet packed with value—to ensure readers find them too good to ignore.

Utilizing Lead Magnets to Attract Quality Leads

Gated content is like the secret sauce in your lead generation recipe. It’s that irresistible piece of valuable information potential clients can’t help but want, tucked behind an opt-in form. Think of lead magnets as a trade-off: they give you their email address, and you give them access to something really useful—whether it be an insightful white paper, a handy checklist, or exclusive video content.

To craft gated content that truly draws people in, start by understanding your target audience’s biggest challenges. What keeps them up at night? Once you’ve got that down, create content that not only addresses these issues but also positions your brand as the go-to expert for solving them. Remember, this isn’t about just any leads; it’s about getting quality leads. Those are the folks who are genuinely interested in what you have to offer because it solves a problem they’re facing. If you can craft lead magnets that do this, you’ll always have a way to connect with potential clients. 

Solving Not Selling – The Key to Customer Engagement

Focusing on solving customers’ problems rather than pushing for a sale right off the bat is key in today’s market. Trust plays an enormous role here—trust that you understand their needs and have the solution they’re searching for.

A solid lead generation strategy considers not only how many eyes see your content but also how effectively that content speaks to potential customers’ pain points. Whether it’s through insightful blog posts or engaging social media interactions, showing that you get what keeps them up at night builds trust—and qualified leads will follow naturally.

You don’t have to do it all – in fact, consistency in just 2-3 of these lead generation strategies will prove to be far more effective than dabbling in a bunch of different areas. If you can commit an hour per week to the methods you enjoy most, you’ll see how your efforts lead to consistent growth over time. 

FAQs in Relation to How to Get Leads

How do I start getting leads?

Pick 2-3 lead generation strategies and commit 1 hour per week toward them. Want to stay consistent? Choose the activities you enjoy most:

  • Speaking
  • Networking
  • Attend or host events
  • Have conversations with potential clients
  • Cultivate a clear, trustworthy online presence
  • Be a guest speaker on podcasts
  • Join an industry trade group and volunteer as a speaker

How do I generate leads for free?

Create killer content that solves problems. Blogs, videos, and guides shared widely can attract leads without spending a dime.

How do people find leads?

Folks scour LinkedIn, engage in forums like Reddit or Quora, and join Facebook groups to unearth potential gold mines of leads. You can also get in front of potential leads through speaking engagements, networking, and podcasting. To be successful, make sure you start with a plan for how you’re going to guide those leads. 

Is it worth it to pay for leads?

That depends: do you have a plan in place for how to capture, nurture, and sell to those leads? If not, paying for leads won’t do you much good. Start with Strategy.


So, mastering how to get leads isn’t as hard as it seems. But you have to build the strategy first. so you can talk clearly about what you do (hint: if you are confused they will be too), and use online platforms wisely. Take advantage of industry events and places where your ideal clients hang out (both online and in person).

Remember, it’s all about solving problems—not just selling. Trust is your best friend here.

Networking can open big doors; don’t overlook it.

Email marketing? It keeps those leads warm. And lead magnets? They’re golden for pulling in quality contacts.

In essence: Solve, engage, grow. Rinse and repeat. That’s the way forward.

We share more tips like this in our newsletter– join 25k subscribers here to get marketing news and resources delivered weekly.

The Future of Remote Work: Navigating the Talent Crisis, Harnessing Diversity & AI Upskilling

The Future of Remote Work: Navigating the Talent Crisis, Harnessing Diversity & AI Upskilling written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

The Duct Tape Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch

In this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I interviewed Rob Levin, a seasoned entrepreneur and co-founder of WorkBetterNow, a company specializing in providing talent from Latin America & The Caribbean for US-based businesses. Prior to that he started and built a media company serving small businesses in the New York area. Rob has served as a CEO and CFO of several fast growing businesses and began his career as a CPA.  Our conversation dives into the future of remote work, addressing the challenges of the talent crisis, the need to harness diversity, and the role of AI upskilling.

Key Takeaways

Embark on a transformative journey with Rob Levin as he talks about strategies for navigating the talent crisis, harnessing diversity, and implementing AI upskilling in remote work environments. Discover the importance of accessing a wider pool of talent, integrating remote team members into company culture, and investing in continuous learning initiatives. Whether you’re a business owner seeking to optimize your remote team or exploring opportunities in the remote work sphere, Rob’s insights will empower you to build a thriving business that stands the test of time.


Questions I ask Rob Levin:

[01:03] How was WorkBetterNow founded?

[02:48] What did you learn from the difference between your first and second assistant?

[04:33] Why the decision to focus on talent from Latin America?

[06:50] What have you observed trend-wise in the virtual assistant industry?

[12:21] What is Upskilling and how do you apply that as a value at WorkBetterNow?

[16:53] How important are documented processes in WorkBetterNow?

[20:02] How does AI come into play in the smooth running of your business and the efficiency of Virtual Assistants?

[21:25] Where can people connect with you?


More About Rob Levin:


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

Connect with John Jantsch on LinkedIn


This episode of The Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by Work Better Now

Visit mention the referral code DTM Podcast and get $150 off for your first 3 months.


John (00:08): Hello and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch and my guest today is Rob Levin. He’s a co-founder and chairman of Work Better Now, which provides talent from Latin America for US based businesses. Prior to that, he started and built a media company and serving small businesses in the New York. Rob has served as the CEO and CFO of several fast growing businesses, McGann’s career as a CPA. He lives in New York City plays guitar, has seen over a thousand concerts and even promoted Big Rock Xmen in college. That’s new to your bio, but Rob, I didn’t know that about you, but welcome back to the show.

Rob (00:46): Thanks, John. It’s new to the bio, but it actually happened quite a long time ago,

John (00:50): So let’s just talk about music then.

Rob (00:52): Sure. Let’s do it

John (00:54): Actually. So I’m curious, going from your media business before then, starting a placement for all intent and purposes company, what’s the origin story of how you got work better now going?

Rob (01:06): Yeah, I hired my first assistant in 2013. First assistant didn’t work out. It was part-time, which I don’t recommend except it, except if it’s really necessary. The second assistant just changed my life, actually. The first assistant was pretty good, but the second assistant changed my life because I was now free from so many things. I can’t believe I didn’t think about this sooner. It was free from so many things that were keeping me from the things I like to do and the things that really added value not only to my business, but even to my personal life. And as time went, and as you know John, I know a lot of business owners like you do, and everybody was asking me, and this assistant was from El Salvador and everybody was asking me constantly, where’s your assistant from, et cetera. And I was referring them to another company. So what happened over the years is I just realized that the assistance that my friends were getting from this company just weren’t as good as my assistant.

(02:02): I said, you know what? I think I can do this. I was on the west coast on a business trip and a friend of mine from college joined me and I was saying, I’m going to start this business. And I was telling him every business owner should have an assistant. And he goes, I’m in. And I said, what do you mean you’re in? He goes, I’m doing this with you. And I said, okay, well, you’re going to do all the work and we’re going to split everything 50 50. That was 2018 actually about six years ago, February, 2018, and we started the business and we were providing assistance by the end of the year. And then I think as then, I’m not going to say we pivoted, we evolved into not only providing executive assistance for business owners, but providing over 40 different roles for small and mid-sized businesses.

John (02:47): I’m curious, did you learn anything, or maybe in hindsight you learned something like why the first assistant worked? Second one, I’m sorry, didn’t work out as well as the second one worked? I mean, was there some dynamic in either what you did or who they were or did you learn anything from that?

Rob (03:04): Yeah, I did. In this case, the first assistant I had was part-time and she ended up taking a full-time gig with the other client that she had. So there were two reasons why I decided that I don’t really like this part-time option for not only for me, but for anybody. Number one for that reason is that they’re going to have another client and they’re probably want the security of full-time work. And number two, well actually three reasons. Number two, what I also realized after two months is you think you only have 10 hours a week for an assistant, and then that gets blown out of the water very quickly, and before you know it, you’re well over 40. There’s plenty of work for them to do, and you even think about hiring another one. And then the last one is, and this one’s really important, I want somebody who’s dedicated to me. So when they’re working from nine to five or whatever it is, I want them just thinking about me and my business.

John (03:55): Yeah, that second point that you made I think is a really valuable one because I’ve talked to a lot of business owners and I’m telling ’em all that’s the first hire you should make is get yourself out of the grunt work so that you can focus on marketing or sales or client fulfillment. And a lot of ’em say, well, I just wouldn’t have that much for ’em to do. And I think you’re absolutely right. Once you actually started experiencing somebody taking some stuff off your plate, you start thinking, oh, well they can do this and this. I hadn’t even thought of. We’ve done the same thing. I mean, we’ve hired part-time folks, and fortunately some of ’em have worked out and grown to full-time roles because we realized that you have particularly focused on finding assistance in Latin America. I’m wonder if you could talk about is there something unique about folks that come from some of those parts of the world that make them such a great fit for us businesses?

Rob (04:47): I think there’s a few things. Let’s see where to start. So number one, there’s great talent in Latin America. They have great experience, they have incredible attitudes. People who just show up ready to work, they’re focused on your mission and just dedicated to helping you and with a smile on their face. Also, if you compare it to other parts of the world, the culture is a lot more similar in Latin America to the US as it is compared to other parts of the world. And then I think their English, there’s plenty of people with fantastic English. And then the last one, which a lot of people don’t talk about is time zone alignment. And that’s really important because in other parts of the world, either people are working when they should be sleeping or they’re working at a different time than you are. And our clients, they kind of embrace the talent that we provide to them, the professionals we provide to them as part of their team, they just integrate them in part of their team. And it’s hard to do it when either A, they should be sleeping or when they’re not working at the same time.

John (05:51): Yeah, I know over the years, many years ago I hired an assistant out of the Asia area and the only way to align, as you said, was that they were going to work overnight. It was like, that’s part of the culture, that’s what everybody does here. And I was like, I’m not sure I want to make somebody work overnight, like you said, when they should be sleeping. So I think the time zone alignment is huge, especially if you’re going to have them start doing things with clients and things like that. I mean obviously they’ve got all aligned that way. Before I go any farther, listeners should know that we actually employ to work better now full-time folks on our staff. And I think some of the things you mentioned are very true. We have fully integrated them into our meeting rhythm on Slack and our standup calls and our culture building type of activities. And I think that if you were to ask them, they feel like they are a part of the team as much as really anybody on our team. So it’s definitely very, very doable.

Rob (06:50): Happy to hear that. Let’s

John (06:51): Talk a little bit, yeah, let’s talk a little bit about the landscape in general remote work. I mean, there’s some pretty obvious things that have gone on, but is there anything that you’ve observed from a trend standpoint right now?

Rob (07:06): Yeah, so it starts first with what’s going on here in the United States, and this applies to Canada as far as we can tell as well. And we have been and we will continue to be in a talent crisis. What do I mean by that? I mean several things. Number one, productivity of the US workers actually dropped despite all of the technology that is out there. Number two, there are more job openings than there are people looking for work. So just the numbers are not in the favor of the smaller mid-size business. By the way, I don’t know if big companies are in a talent crisis. Quite frankly, I don’t care. My world is small and mid-size businesses, companies seem to be laying off people, and yet small businesses can’t seem to hire small and mid-size businesses seem to hire the salary expectations here in the states are way up. And the time it takes to hire somebody is according to LinkedIn is like six or seven weeks, which in the world of a small business is years. So there’s a challenge finding exceptional people. And as you know John, in a small and mid-sized business, you can’t get somebody who’s just good. You’ve got to get somebody who’s exceptional because every single role counts. So you have

John (08:16): That and they got to wear a lot of hats

Rob (08:19): And wearing a lot of hats and just somebody who says, Hey, whoever it is you need me to do, I’ll do it. And at the same time I, I do think having had talent from Latin America now for over 10 years, I can start to see an inflection point. So if you think about it, large companies were offshoring, I don’t know, 30, 40 years ago they started. And that trend has picked up small and mid-size businesses have started to do it. I would say maybe 10 years ago, slowly in different parts of the world, Asia was really big. But now we’re starting to see a trend of two trends. Number one, more small and mid-sized businesses being open to offshoring. And I think that all happened in the pandemic when they got comfortable with remote because after all, going offshore subject, a couple of things, going offshore is really no different than going remote. And those couple of things are if you hire directly and you have your own payroll, that can get a little complicated. But if you use a talent provider, companies like work better now. That’s no longer your problem. And then we’re now starting to see trends of more companies wanting to hire from Latin America. So it’s a combination of all of those things happening. And I’m really knocking on wood, happy to say that we got a little lucky with the timing starting this business in 2018

John (09:37): When everybody all of a sudden realized, hey, maybe this remote work thing might actually be something to it.

Rob (09:44): It’s really about access to a wider pool of talent. It’s about access to the wider pool of talent which businesses need today.

John (09:51): And I think most people, you’re absolutely right, have realized that if I can get somebody that can do X, Y, Z, it really doesn’t matter the world we live in where they are. Talk a little bit about some of the cultural diversity that it brings. Again, large organizations have HR departments that help create diversity in the organization, right? Small businesses, I mean, again, that may be a goal that may be part of something they believe in, but much harder to achieve as a small business. Have you felt that at all? Did bring some diversity actually to the organizations?

Rob (10:27): So it’s a really good question, John. I think when it comes to small and midsize businesses, as I mentioned earlier, every position counts. And I think what’s most important to business owners is how can I find somebody amazing for this role who’s going to help me deliver a better customer experience, who’s going to fit in with my culture and is going to help the company achieve its goals? That’s how I feel that we are helping people. Yes, they’re from Latin America. They speak in at least one other language, which is sometimes advantageous. But I really think that what business owners are trying to do, whether they’re working with us or in general and not working with us, I think that everybody really just knows how important it is to get the best talent they can at any given time.

John (11:15): And now a word from our sponsor, work better now. Work better now provides outstanding talent from Latin America, hand matched to your business with over 40 roles across various industries, including marketing. They’re a reliable partner for consistently finding the perfect fit for your business. Simply tell them what you need and they’ll handle the rest hassle free. We have two work better now, professionals on our team, a marketing assistant and a marketing coordinator, and we’ve been blown away by their abilities, responsiveness, and professionalism. They’ve really become an essential part of our growing team. And to top it off each dedicated and full-time work better now professional is 2350 per month and there are no contracts to schedule a 15 minute consultation with a work better now rep and see how they’ll support your business growth goals, visit, mention the referral code DTM podcast and you’re going to get $150 off for your first three months. That’s And don’t forget that DTM podcast code, you mentioned the word offshoring or outsourcing, but I’ve also heard you talk about a term that I don’t hear too many people saying, and I think it has an implication of something bigger and broader and that’s the term upskilling. You want to talk a little bit about how you apply that idea?

Rob (12:40): Yeah, upskilling. So upskilling is a trend that I think over the next five years you’re going to start to see a lot more of, right upskilling. The way we look at upskilling is you are looking for somebody with certain types of experience, certain types of skills, and you might find somebody that has most, but maybe not all of them. And what the smart employers are doing, and a lot of our clients are doing this, is they’re saying, alright, I know I needed A, B, C, D and E. This person only is A, B, and C, but culturally they’ll fit within our company. We’ll hire them and then either we will train them or we’ll use some outsource training, whether it’s LinkedIn or any of these other training platforms to acquire some of those other skills that they need. That’s a much smarter approach rather than trying to find that right person, which might take six or 12 months, which will have a huge negative impact on your company.

(13:38): And there’s another part to this too, which is with the talent that you already have. So the pace of change in business keeps increasing when you’re running a smaller mid-size business. To get good, you have to be better at so many more things today than just five years ago. So where is that expertise going to come from? And if you follow the who not how principle of Dan Sullivan and Strategic Coach, it should’t all be on the business owner. So the idea is you have really good people, get them trained again, whether it’s internal training or external training, and then they can bring those new capabilities into your company. And by the way, when you do that, you’re accomplishing two other goals, which is today’s workforce wants advancement opportunities and they’re also looking to learn more on the job. And so it’s like a triple win. You’re getting the capabilities you need, you’re keeping your employees really happy because they’re advancing and they’re acquiring new skills.

John (14:43): So particularly somebody who’s listening to this and hasn’t hired maybe remote at all, but certainly hasn’t hired an assistant, what are some of the things where I could ask this the negative way or the positive way, but how do you get them started or obviously what are the things that you’ve seen that have really made it not work for people?

Rob (15:05): Well, okay, so let’s start with what works really well and then what doesn’t work well is actually pretty short list. What works really well is really good onboarding. So we assist with that. We have a whole onboarding program. Some clients need it more than others. Other clients, they probably onboard better than we do. So it starts with really good onboarding and then it starts with something I alluded to earlier, which is integrating your remote professionals, whether they’re in Latin America or anywhere else, integrating them within the company, they’re like any other team member. That’s definitely a best practice. What tends not to work well?

(15:49): Oh, let me just add to one other thing that works well, and this probably goes for anybody that you have working in your company, which is clarity on communications in terms of how we communicate in the company, clarity, how we work, what are some of the cultural norms in the company, and also clarity on what if you do your job well, this is what it looks like. A lot of people can skip that step. And of course, on the contrary, what doesn’t work well is not setting up your remote professional for success, not being clear on how we communicate, not integrating them into the company, not explaining to them what success looks like and not also empowering them with just enough training so they understand in this remote world where you don’t have somebody next to you, where do you find, who do you go to when you have a question? Because when you start, you’re going to have questions. So really what doesn’t work is just the opposite of what works,

John (16:51): Right? Right. How important are documented processes? I know a lot of companies are big on here’s our user manual or here’s all these documented process, but that also that can be a distraction, that can be maybe a lot of work that isn’t really that valuable. How important do you think that is for getting a remote person going?

Rob (17:14): Yeah, so I’ll start with, I think the first thing, the most important thing that a company needs to do is establish its core values. And I’m going to explain why. Because you’re thinking like process core values, what do they have to do with each other? The core values, which shouldn’t only be just a list that’s up on a wall, it should be things that are actually adhered to and appreciated throughout the company day in and day out. When you start with those, what good core values do is if somebody doesn’t know what to do and they don’t have somebody to ask at a time that they have to make a decision, they should be able to turn to those core values for the right answer. So that’s where you start. As far as processes go, we’re big on with our team of about 30 or so people, most of which by the way are in Latin America as well, almost all.

(18:01): And what we’re really big on is processes. In some cases they have to be very detailed in terms of how to use HubSpot, for example, the way we’ve set it up. But in general, what we do, we don’t want to over go crazy with the details on the processes. We want to just basically say, here’s a general idea of how you do it. That’s enough enough for somebody who understands the core values and has some talent and the experience that you want to follow that and then do what they need to do. But I’ll take it a step further too.

(18:37): We still provide executive assistance in addition to those 40 other roles to people. And a lot of business owners, when they’re getting their first assistant, they’re like, Hey, I have to try to, I don’t have a manual, right? Well, one of the things we always do is say, that’s great, and I know you don’t want to create one because you’re a business owner. Last thing you want to do is create a manual, have your new assistant do it, and they will just have them document as they go along. And that’s very handy. First of all, the first few times they can go back to the documentation where they’re doing a task, but if they’re out for a maternity or paternity leave, somebody else can then just pick up that process manual. Very important on the executive assistant side, yeah,

John (19:20): I’ve become pretty obsessed with using video tools like Loom and stuff to just go through it. And I’m doing it. I just recapture myself doing it, and it’s a lot easier to create a process out of that. The other term that I read one time that I thought really made a lot of sense, a lot of times we’ll give people, here’s what done looks like. This is the definition of this being done. And then a lot of times they can go, oh, okay, well how I get there probably doesn’t matter to some degree. And I think that’s a great guidance too. So looking ahead, crystal ball, right? What’s up for maybe something you’re actually working on or watching? Obviously every show, I think in the last two years I’ve said the words ai. I don’t know if that comes into play into your business, but what’s the future look like for work better now?

Rob (20:11): So I have two answers to that. The first one is we trying to become a talent partner for our clients, and many of our clients now see us as a talent partner. What that means is if they have a job that can be done remotely and it’s not too specialized, let’s say like a software developer, they just start us. And that’s exactly where we want to be and we’re constantly orienting ourselves to do that. But getting to your AI question, we just launched a pilot of what we’re calling the WBN Academy, and that’s going to be a continuous learning program for our professionals so that they can expand the capabilities of our clients. And AI is obviously one of the core elements of that academy. We should be rolling that out to, all right now we’re up to about 330 or so professionals working for our clients. We should be able to roll that out to them by the end of the year, and we’re really excited about it.

John (21:07): Yeah, that’s really, when you think about it, you look at resumes and they say, oh, I know how to use Word in Excel or whatever programs. I think today it’s going to be, I have a full understanding of AI prompts. That’s just going to be a pretty mandatory skill these days, I think. Is there anywhere we’ve mentioned work better now? Several times work better, but is there anywhere else you’d invite people to connect with you

Rob (21:34): On LinkedIn? Rob Levin, Rob Levin, work better now. There are a few Rob Levins, but if you type in Rob Levin work better now. You’ll definitely find me and you can also reach out to me through the website work better

John (21:49): Awesome. Well, again, I appreciate you stopping by. I think if you actually mentioned, you heard this on the Duct Tape Marketing podcast, I think that Rob might even give you a special offer of some sort. I believe so. Keep that in mind.

Rob (22:03): Yeah, thanks for, I totally forgot about that. John just mentioned Duct Tape Marketing and you get $150 off for each of the first three months for each professional that you

John (22:13): Hire. Awesome. Well, again, it was great catching up with you and hopefully we will run into you soon, one of these days out there on the road.

How To Produce Better Content With Collaborative AI

How To Produce Better Content With Collaborative AI written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

The Duct Tape Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch

In this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I interviewed Kate Bradley Chernis, former rock and roll DJ turned founder and CEO of a revolutionary AI tool reshaping the landscape of content marketing today, Lately AI. With over two decades of experience in media and marketing, Kate brings a unique perspective to the table and shares invaluable insights on the evolution of content marketing and the intersection of aesthetic versus functional answers.

Embark on a transformative journey as we discuss the evolution of content marketing and the role of AI in shaping its future. Discover how Kate’s background in radio and storytelling paved the way for her innovative approach to crafting personalized social media messaging.

Key Takeaways

In this episode, you’ll gain actionable strategies for cutting through the content clutter, leveraging AI to boost engagement, and understanding the symbiotic relationship between humans and machines in content creation.

Learn how to harness the power of collaborative AI to enhance your marketing efforts, navigate the challenges of data privacy, and stay ahead of the curve in an ever-changing digital landscape. Kate’s expertise provides a roadmap for marketers to adapt, evolve, and thrive in the dynamic world of content marketing.

Stay tuned as we uncover the secrets to crafting compelling content, driving meaningful engagement, and achieving sustainable growth in today’s competitive marketplace.


Questions I ask Kate Bradley Chernis:

[00:57] Exactly how did you go from DJ to business founder?

[06:06] What’s your take on, how AI is changing the whole landscape of content marketing?

[11:53] As a social selling platform that uses AI what is Lately’s key differentiator from other brands?

[15:39] How much does the market currently understand the difference between public data vs privacy?

[18:59] How do you best describe what Lately does?

[20:15] Do you think that working in an industry that is evolving so quickly, makes it even harder to evolve as a business?

[21:52] Where can people connect with you?


More About Kate Bradley Chernis:

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

Connect with John Jantsch on LinkedIn


This episode of The Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by ActiveCampaign

Try ActiveCampaign free for 14 days with our special offer. Sign up for a 15% discount on annual plans until Mar 31,2024. Exclusive to new customers—upgrade and grow your business with ActiveCampaign today!


John (00:08): Hello, and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch. My guest today is Kate Bradley Chernis, former rock and roll, DJ, turn founder and CEO of lately, AI tool that uses proprietary language models to craft personalized social media messaging. Lately, AI ensures data privacy by not relying on public data sets. Kate’s also been a guest speaker at numerous industry events and organizations including Walmart, Ericsson, and Harvard University, and I don’t know, maybe third time back here on the Duct Tape Marketing podcast as well. Welcome back, Kate.

Kate (00:45): Hey, John. So great to lay eyes on you. I feel like it’s been a little while.

John (00:50): It’s been

Kate (00:51): So,

John (00:52): I know you get tired of telling this story because it’s the first thing everybody always asks you, but I know people are going, wait a minute, rock and roll, DJ now founder of a company. How do you do that?

Kate (01:01): I’ve gotten better at telling the story too, which is important I think. And my co-founder teases me. I do often bury the lead. So yes, guilty is charged. I was broadcasting to 20 million listeners a day with XM Satellite Radio. I was the first music director for a channel called The Loft. But what was interesting to me about radio was the Theater of the Mind, which a lot about being in podcasting, but to clarify for everybody else. So the theater of the mind is the act of the imagination playing a role either when you’re listening or reading, not when you’re watching tv, for example. And what you’re doing is your imagination is filling in the blanks that you can’t see, right? You’re imagining what the characters look like or what they’re doing. It’s why the reason when you see a movie and you’ve already read the book, you’re kind of mad because it’s never as good as what you’d imagined, right?

John (01:55): Well, or a lot of people, I love to listen to baseball as opposed to watch it because baseball announcers are so much better at describing what’s going on because they have to.

Kate (02:04): They have to. And they’re so crafty. I mean, that’s a real sport in itself. Exactly. Great point. And when I was in radio, I’m old enough so that there wasn’t social media when I first started or the internet and you couldn’t look people up. And so we would kind of mess around and play tricks on the listeners and make up these scenarios. It was fun. And I had written hundreds of commercials because I learned quickly that was how you made money in radio. And I was a fiction writing major, and I saw these parallels between wielding the mic and wielding the pen and listening and reading. And my boss, I was number one in our format, which was very rare because it was called AAA or Adult Album Alternative. There’s only a handful of stations in the country, but

John (02:53): We were, and even fewer women.

Kate (02:55): And even fewer women. Yeah. It was just totally random thing I fell into. But country and rock, those stations are number one. And so my bosses were like, what are you doing? And I’m like, well, I did know what I was doing. I threw out their playlists and I was running the whole show because all the content was produced by me, all the commercials, all the drops, everything during my time, but I looked into it more. This is a long story. I hope it’s interesting, and I read this book called This Is Your Brain on Music. You guys remember, I think Daniel Leviton did that hard read. It’s a F read, but it’s about the neuroscience of music and music listening. And I learned something interesting about the parallel of music listening and theater of the mind. All of this relates to lately somehow, but I’ll share it. So when your brain listens to a new song, John, what songs do you like, by the way? Are you classic rock guy like I am?

John (03:48): Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I listened to The Loft and occasionally jump over and listen to Earl Bailey.

Kate (03:53): That was my station. Yeah, I love Earl. He’s so great. Yeah, so great. Oh my God, you’re making me reminisce. So great quality music, rock and roll. That’s for I’d say intelligent rock and roll. Let’s say what I was learning from Daniel was that when your brain listens to a new song, it must instantly access every other song you’ve ever heard before. And it’s trying to index that new song in the library of the memory of your brain. This is happening in a moment, right?

John (04:22): Makes sense. And of

Kate (04:22): Course, in order to access all that memory, it’s pulling on nostalgia and emotion, obviously memory, all those things that create trust and trust is why we buy now. Guess what? The theater of the mind kicks in. Same thing happens, nostalgia, memory, emotion, trust. And when you’re doing a good job on the mic, John, you actually make your listeners feel as though they’re talking. You’re to them directly that this one way street is a two way street and they have ownership in the conversation and writing is the same thing, and it’s a complicated feat to do it well because you’re talking to nobody but also somebody specific. That’s the magic. So I took these ideas to a little company called Walmart and I got them 130% ROI year over year for three years with what became the prototype for lately.

John (05:19): Screw it. We’re not going to talk about lately. Let’s just talk about the Jay Hawks latest

Kate (05:24): Novels talk. Oh my God, you’re so funny. I took out their last, well, I dunno if it was their last record, but the one with cloud something cloud, it was their last really poppy record from the nineties. And I had that in my, I still have a CD player in my car and I was rocking to that record. I love it so much. Any other Jayhawks fans listening to us, I wonder

John (05:47): Of a certain age

Kate (05:49): Of a certain age. Yeah, for sure. But I love that record and it got panned for being too poppy, but I think it’s a real lot of gold in there.

John (05:57): Absolutely. So let’s talk about content marketing. AI seems like daily is changing. I mean, content marketing has changed dramatically over the last decade or so, but certainly AI seems to be changing it every day. What’s your take on how it’s changing really the whole landscape of content marketing?

Kate (06:14): Well, I mean, thanks a lot chat GBT, because now everybody can make more garbage than ever before. They made our jobs a lot harder. The task for marketers, the challenge has always been how do we cut through the noise? And now there’s just so that certainly has changed the landscape. One thing that I’m seeing, and I wonder if you are, which is astonishing to me, the laziness is not changing. So it’s specifically regenerative AI and text generative ai, which is where I live. People still hate writing. They don’t want to do it. But also their value behind it is save time as opposed to be more effective. That’s shocking. And honestly, I’ll ask our own clients this question all the time and the CEO or the CRO, they want to make more money, but the actual users are thinking of save time and getting them to be aligned is a challenge.

John (07:11): My take on this a little bit, I agree with you, at least we’re in this phase right now of more noise, but I think eventually all things people are going to go, it’s pretty easy to separate noise from signal, maybe even more so now, right? Because writing quality content still takes strategic thinking. That’s right. And I think it makes people who do strategic thinking even more valued, even though right now there a lot of ’em are feeling sort of undervalued.

Kate (07:39): So on parallel with that, so there’s this symbiotic relationship between AI and humans who can think strategically and analytically and they rely upon each other and it’s called collaborative ai. This is the year of collaborative ai, in my opinion. We built collaborative AI into lately from the beginning, which, but it’s the idea of a human analyzing and course correcting what the AI generates so that it can boost the learning. Fascinating about what you said, which is the number one vacuum of skills across the globe is guess what? The ability to analyze. And the reason that is is because we have, this is back to laziness too. We’ve become a culture unable to identify problems because for so long, especially in corporate life, it was like, don’t bring me a problem, bring me a solution. So even when I have a friend who has some teenage daughters and when they need to go, they know they can Google the answer to anything, but they don’t know what to type in, right?

John (08:49): Well, and that’s so many things brought up there. What I tell people all the time is what we’re left to provide is context. That context cannot be provided by chat GPT. And so to your point of the search, I mean a lot of it is the right context produces the right answer, but these machines are basically just going into a database and saying, here’s what I think the answer is. Whereas we are saying, well no, here’s the real problems the customer is telling us they’re struggling with and why our solution or whatever it is we’re selling is the answer for them. And I think short of having that understanding, it’s a crap shoot what you’re going to get back.

Kate (09:29): Yeah, I mean that, thank you. I’m going to steal the context because it is so true. Someone was just asking me the other day, well, should I second guess everything that lately generates for me? And I said, yes, you are still the king, the humans. We are still the king of the food chains. Of course. And he’s like, well, won’t AI know better than me? And I’m like, never. No. All AI is good at doing is now is synthesizing scale really,

John (09:56): Right? Yeah. In fact, I’ve been for a long time because I don’t really think it’s AI yet to be truthful. It’s not really artificial intelligence, turn it around. It’s more informed assistance is kind of how I talk about it. It’s my pleasure to welcome a new sponsor to the podcast. Our friends at ActiveCampaign. ActiveCampaign helps small teams power big businesses with the must have platform for intelligent marketing automation. We’ve been using ActiveCampaign for years here at Duct Tape Marketing to power our subscription forms, email newsletters and sales funnel drip campaigns. ActiveCampaign is that rare platform that’s affordable, easy to use, and capable of handling even the most complex marketing automation needs. And they make it easy to switch. They provide every new customer with one-on-one personal training and free migrations from your current marketing automation or email marketing provider. You can try ActiveCampaign for free for 14 days and there’s no credit card required.

(10:57): Just visit active tape. That’s right. Duct Tape Marketing podcast listeners who sign up via that link will also receive 15% off an annual plan if purchased by March 31st, 2024. That’s tape. Now this offer is limited to new active campaign customers only. So what are you waiting for? Fuel your growth, boost revenue and save precious time by upgrading to active campaign today. Alright, so I’m going to ask you a really hard lately question. You and I started talking about lately three or four years ago at least, and at that 0.3 or four years ago, what lately was doing was very cutting edge. People didn’t necessarily understand it, but it definitely produced a result that was very cutting edge. Fast forward to today, everything you buy now has AI in it, supposedly like your detergent now has AI in it. I think if you buy it, so what’s the differentiator or what’s your stay ahead cutting edge play.

Kate (11:59): Yeah, yeah. So I told you it was going to be a hard question. Great question. Well, a couple of things. Yeah, it’s a hard one and there’s functional answers and then there’s kind of aesthetic answers I’m going to call them. But so functionally we’re the only generative AI that I know of where we have a continuous performance learning loop plugged in so that the results that we generate for you are always tied to your personal analytics or the analytics of your company, which is to say it’s never out of thin air. All other generative AI doesn’t know you in any way and can never give you results that are essentially really meaningful. The other component there is the collaborative ai. So because we built that into the product, the whole product originally we have kind of pole vaulted over everybody else. Harvard Business Review just released an article about collaborative AI citing lately as a leader and one of the studies they did show that collaborative AI outperforms AI alone two to seven X every time.

(13:02): But on the sort of aesthetic side, again, what’s really interesting to me is that the save time piece. So of course we save time everywhere else, but that is not our cutting edge leg up. The leg up is we show you why it’s effective, what’s the DNA of the messaging that will get you the highest response. And I think what we’ve done a poor job of is actually leveraging how well we do that and what that value is. So I’ve called upon my engineering team for this year to actually do a better job of getting people to understand this information and how to use it. Fascinating to me is I can show you these words, John. I can show you the ideas, the send, the structures, all the things that will get you the most engagement, but people then don’t know what to do with it, which is like to me, duh.

(13:58): But that is the crux, right? The last answer to your question is going even deeper here. So I’m planning an integration with my friend David Allison, who owns the value graphics database and value graphics are identifying how to group people by what they care about as opposed to demographics, which is more insightful, radically more insightful, and they consult the United Nations. And so some characteristics would be like if I care about the environment and you’re selling me lipstick, you want to sell me lipstick that talks about how great it is for the environment, or if you’re selling me lipstick and I care about family, you want to mention that the family company has been around for a hundred years passed on by daughter, whatever. And so we’re working on a way of integrating these values inside lately, so you can get more of that why and understand who your target audience is and why are they responding to the content we’re generating for you? Kind of nerdy, I don’t know. I’m excited about

John (15:02): This. No, but I think you’re absolutely right. I mean, I’ve been saying for years, I mean my target market is based on behavior, not on how old somebody is. It’s what they value. It’s do they invest in the community? I mean do they invest in their industry? Those are how we actually identify some of those behaviors. And I feel like that’s a way to actually niche down is to focus on behaviors. So having obviously tools that, and I’m guessing that you’re going to go into personalization at some point with that level of segmentation as well. Let me ask you, I said in the intro, in your bio I mentioned the idea of data privacy. I know it’s a big deal. How much has the market perceived this idea of public data sets versus privacy versus, I don’t know what you’re talking about.

Kate (15:46): Yeah, pretty huge. And it’s another arena of AI where everybody thinks they know all about it but they don’t, which is kind of the whole trend of the last year. So some companies come to us with an AI task force and that has to be part of one of the initial calls where we’re checking the boxes for them, the safety boxes with their legal and IT teams, which we check a lot of those boxes. Then there’s other companies like PWC who’ve gone full on into AI and they don’t seem to really care, which is, and then there’s a lot of companies where they know people are using it even though there’s maybe a ban on Chachi PT throughout the company, but people are using it anyways. So there’s nothing consistent for sure. My husband actually just bought Chachi PT for his phone because he didn’t want to put on his work computer, but he wants to be able to use it for work to help him do things faster, smarter, better. Of course, I think there’s a lot of that going on. What I understand,

John (16:52): I mean it’s stupid. It’s stupid. I mean it is like I can write a formula in Excel or I can just dump all this in and say give me the answer. So I use it all the time for stuff like that. But maybe we better back up just a minute because I asked that question assuming a lot and assuming that people knew what that really meant. So when I go to chat, GPT, everything that’s being put in there is helping teach the entire language model and everything from my statistics to my Google analytics that I’m getting analyzed. I mean that’s all just being fed. And then theoretically in some fashion, anybody has access to it that, I mean not specifically to it, but it’s feeding the machine that then is going to produce something. Whereas the private data set that is if I come to lately and I put that same kind of information in there, it’s only going to be used to build my personal model. Is that the way to sort of explain it? That’s

Kate (17:46): Right. That’s correct. Yeah. We don’t take any of your information and muddy it with anybody. And the one thing we can see is the patterns that if things are working well for you and they’re working well for another customer, we can see those patterns but we don’t share them with you individually. We would take the knowledge and share it at large. And so that’s been a real win for us by the way, because I’ve been asked to actually give courses on AI to educate companies on why that exact thing matters. I think David, not David Allison, David Meerman Scott who was investor and friend, he put it succinctly where to help people understand, he was like, listen, there’s only two questions that matter whose data and whose math with chat CBT, it’s the world’s, it’s your data, it’s the world’s data, everybody’s data and general math like a general generic math with lately it’s your private data and then our math on top of it.

John (18:49): So I need two more questions. I’m going to ask you the first one just because we haven’t, you and I have talked a number of times, it’s that idea of like, oh yeah, we have listeners too. If somebody came to you and said, lately I kind of heard of that, what does lately do? How would you describe what lately does?

Kate (19:05): Oh, I’m so bad at this. It’s like the shoemaker has no shoes, but I’m evolving. So lately learns the patterns of when you write well, what helps you do that. And it also learns the patterns of what your unique audience will actually reply to on social media. And then we help you evolve that model by repurposing long form content and identifying what part of that content will actually get you the highest possible engagement on social. Awesome. How did that go? That was

John (19:35): Great. So the output could be a blog. No, that was very good. It was still maybe a little philosophical. It’s long.

Kate (19:42): I know.

John (19:43): So the output, the end output is a blog post or is a LinkedIn post or is a X post, right?

Kate (19:49): Yeah, the output is a social media post and so much more. I mean it’s really the insights to know this is why we have investors like you and David Merman, Scott and others, is like there’s so much potential in what we’ve identified. How can we evolve the product to really give you more

John (20:07): So an entrepreneurial question to send us out. Do you think, I know you haven’t done this a hundred times, do you think that working in an industry that is evolving so quickly makes it even harder to evolve a business?

Kate (20:24): Oh, I mean the challenges are, yes, for sure, but there’s so many other smaller challenges that I didn’t expect that seem to me to eclipse that some of it’s being a female entrepreneur, let’s be honest. Some of it’s working through a pandemic. I think the way that we come at this from radio, from this totally unfathomable background gives us a huge insight as a company, not just me at how we go at AI and we go at it very humanly. That’s just how we did it from the beginning. So I love that what we’re able to see about the benefits of it our often inside out of what everybody else is seeing. And I feel really proud about that.

John (21:10): Yeah, that’s really interesting because I do think a lot of people approach this as what can the machine do? And I think that you’re actually saying our point of view is how do we get the output that’s going to have the most impact from a neuroscience point of view? And I think that’s a harder one to explain probably, but it’s certainly more impactful than a machine view for sure.

Kate (21:33): I just got a Kennedy chill, so not what can machine do for you, but what can you do for your machine?

John (21:40): I like it. I like it. Okay. T-shirts. Start printing right now. We have to. Alright, Kate, it’s great catching up with you. Obviously we’ve mentioned lately do AI numerous times. Is there anywhere else somebody should connect with you?

Kate (21:55): They can find me in all the places LinkedIn. I’m just playing Kate Bradley and tell me that you met me with John and that we can be friends.

John (22:03): Okay, awesome. Well it was great catch up with you again. Hopefully we’ll run into you soon out there on the road.