Today’s guest on the podcast is Mike Yan, CEO of chat marketing platform ManyChat.
ManyChat is a platform that allows you to automate chat and bring together Facebook Messenger and SMS to reach your customers on their terms. Their simple templates allow you to build a chatbot in minutes, where you can do everything from managing appointment booking to selling products to capturing contact information.
Yan sits down with me to discuss where chatbots have been, where they’re going, and what any business owner can do (even those who aren’t familiar with the technology) to get started harnessing the technology today.
Questions I ask Mike Yan:
- How has the chat and bot landscape changed since you founded ManyChat?
- What’s the best way to use messenger bots?
- How can less digitally-savvy business owners get started with chat?
What you’ll learn if you give a listen:
- How to strike the balance between live chat and automated bots.
- The role that AI plays in messenger bots.
- The risks to ignoring chat as part of your marketing efforts.
Key takeaways from the episode and more about Mike Yan:
Like this show? Click on over and give us a review on iTunes, please!
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Transcript of How to Integrate Chat Into Your Marketing written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing
John Jantsch: This episode is a Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, and is brought to you by pixelz.com. You’ve got to make those images look great. If you want them to pop, if you want them to represent your products, this is a retouching service to make your images look great.
John Jantsch: Hello and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch, and my guest today is Mike Yan. He is the CEO and co founder of the messenger marketing platform known as ManyChat. So Mike, thanks for joining me.
Mike Yan: Thanks for having me.
John Jantsch: I wonder if you could give me a little bit about your origin story, how you…I do a little research obviously for these, and your work history on LinkedIn is a little brief. I’m almost guessing this is one of your first kind of big ventures?
Mike Yan: We actually have been doing startups for over… Close to 10 years. So for the nine years we’ve been doing different projects and it’s anywhere from eCommerce to entertainment, consumer websites, to kind of like a mix between the messaging apps and a almost entertainment app. And then went into messenger marketing.
Mike Yan: And the reason we started on messenger is because in 2015, Telegram Insta messaging app, similar to Facebook messenger, WhatsApp, just popular in different countries, opened up their API in 2015, and we saw an opportunity to help 65 million monthly active users, be connected with businesses they want to be talking to and help those businesses achieve better business results by using this new channel.
Mike Yan: Because, at that point, it was 2016, nobody was talking about bots. There was… Like nobody had any idea about how big this was going to get. So we started with that. And yeah, in 2016, transitioned to Facebook messenger because Facebook messenger opened up your API, and now very honored to be the number one platform on Facebook messenger. You know, we power over 800 thousand Facebook pages in over 190 countries around the world. So…
John Jantsch: So the growth has been pretty astronomical, then, from… I actually followed ManyChat from the very beginning, and tinkered around with it because I tinker around with everything, as part of doing this. Not only has the platform changed, but certainly the landscape has changed, hasn’t it, in terms of how people are using chat and bots?
Mike Yan: True. That’s true. People started… People thought about chat bots at first as this shiny new thing, as this, kind of like a toy, that’s interesting, but not very valuable. And when everybody… When every other company was building chat bots for the sake of building chat bots, we were actually… We came up with this term “messenger marketing” and now it seems like everybody’s using it. But if you go to messenger marketing.com you will actually reach our blogs.
Mike Yan: We believe that messenger is a great way to actually drive business outcomes and to help you with marketing, with sales, with support, to help you convert better, and not just, “Hey this as something fun, that has this novelty, but doesn’t have any value.” And that’s why I think… I think that’s the part of the ManyChat success.
John Jantsch: Well, so my first experience with the bot at all was… I don’t even remember the company… But I ordered something and they communicated through Facebook messenger with me about the… When it was going to get there. So really a service kind of a function. And this is a few years ago.
Mike Yan: Yeah.
John Jantsch: How are people using it? You mentioned some of these things, that you can use it for marketing purposes. I also see a lot of really bad uses of it, I mean, that I think are kind of annoying. You know, unfortunately marketers ruin everything. Right? But, what are some great uses of… If you were talking to businesses in different industries, how would you tell them to use messenger bots? Cause I think it’s pretty easy to abuse them too.
Mike Yan: Yeah, it’s true. I think the marketers will abuse any channel that they get their hands on. I think this is a bit of a generalization. I would say bad marketers will abuse any kind of that they get their hands on. If you think about a marketer’s job, and a marketer that has good intention, their job is to understand customer needs, and to match the customer needs with the products that the business has, if there is any match, and to create that value, that transaction where somebody wants something and they get it and they feel empowered and they feel like they’ve achieved, they moved closer to their goal, with the help of the product or service that the business provides. I think it’s all about that communication.
Mike Yan: So when you think about good marketing, it’s based on… It actually follows similar… People think that marketing is this… Like some really esoteric type of discipline that you have to learn, that is really complex. It’s really not. He just wants to be helpful to the people that you’re talking to. You have to figure out what are their needs, and you have to present your products and services in a way that actually speaks to that. And actually given the fact that your products and services can address those. So you should… I think that chat marketing, specifically, creates this… It just becomes a more intimate and personalized channel, where businesses start to understand, that actually it’s more like friends talking to each other. And it’s more… Marketing is much more about understanding what the customers like.
Mike Yan: You’re, for example… Let me give you an example. You’re talking about the best uses of marketing. Usually when people think about the bad use of marketing, they think about spammy deals, for example, things that people don’t want. But actually, turns out, there is a cohort of people that actually really, really want those daily deals.
Mike Yan: So the question is, not about the content itself. The question is always about the match between what the person wants, and what the marketer and what the business does, in terms of their communication. And those people who really, really want one of those deals, they will be actually angry if one day they did not receive their daily deal message.
Mike Yan: So it’s more, much more about segmentation and it’s much more about being smart about who you message, what that message is, what the channel is, what the timing of the channel is. And I think that’s why ManyChat is so powerful, is because we, in comp… Like we started with messenger, but right now, just a few months, like one and a half months ago, we’ve announced that we actually going beyond messenger, we’ve just added SMS. So text marketing. And we also added email, because those are the two of the biggest channels, marketing channels that’s we see in the world right now. And people are… Our users are… A lot of them are using email in this mass marketing, and we under… We saw that it’s actually becoming… It’s actually really hard to merge those systems, and to make sure that they are working together as an orchestra. Like playing their notes at the right time, if you have different platforms.
Mike Yan: So we decided to build a omnichannel platform, that allows you to seamlessly go from one channel to the other. But the fact like… Our origin from messenger allow… Like, we’ve been born into the interactive world. So when we went into, for example, SMS marketing, we instantly were much more capable than even the best of breed solutions. Because the best… When people thought about this mass marketing, usually it’s a one way communication. So you have a message, you send it out. Maybe there is segmentation, maybe there is something that allows you to send us a message at the right time. So maybe there’s some triggers, but that’s like the furthest that you’re going to get. But what about inter activities? How about actually having a conversation with a person, and not only a manual conversation but also an automated conversation? And yeah, that’s something that wasn’t done there before. And then, but the more important part is how do you actually also triangulate between these channels?
Mike Yan: So say for example, you have something to say to your people. You can start with an email. Email is usually noninvasive, because usually people do not check their email at the point of receiving it. People expect that you can check your email, not that often as messenger. Messaging apps and text messaging are much more invasive because people usually respond to those notifications faster. So if it’s an irrelevant notification, then actually, let’s say, it creates more frustration for the customer.
John Jantsch: Yeah. Cause we feel like we have to respond to that.
Mike Yan: Exactly. Exactly. So how do we decrease that? How can we, for example, communicate with people who want to be communicated through email, and communicate with people who want to be communicated with a text messaging, and the ones who want to be communicated with through Facebook messenger, differently? And how do we make it easy for the business to do that?
Mike Yan: And given the fact that there is many more channels that are coming up. So WhatsApp is coming up, Instagram is coming up, iMessage is coming up, Google RCFs and also the cross carrier messaging initiative that’s coming up. It used to be that you could be doing only one channel, only one digital channel, that has direct marketing, which is email.
Mike Yan: And now you’re entering into this world where 2.5 billion people around the world use messaging apps and is the defacto standard, of how people talk to each other. How does a business and SMB thrive in this environment where there is all this complexity? And we believe that our mission is to simplify that by bringing all those channels into one place, and by helping the SMB just by saying, “Hey, you don’t need any other marketing automation platforms or direct marketing platforms. Or all your customers are inside ManyChat, no matter what the channel is. And you can create beautiful orchestrated campaigns, where it actually respects the choice of the channel with a customer, but is easy for the people to not get swamped by messages and also it reduces your costs and increases our line.” So yeah, that’s, that’s how we’re thinking about this.
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John Jantsch: So let’s talk a little bit about the conversational aspect. As you said, a lot of these are automated. We probably all have gone on and the little bubble pops up and says, what do you need today? And you tell it what you need and then you… And hopefully in a very fluid conversation. But I also see a lot of those that don’t end well, that they haven’t been written well, they haven’t been thought out, and it’s… So, where do you strike the balance between this idea of a bot, if you will, and a human being responding.
Mike Yan: So I think it’s up to the business to decide what they want to start with. Some people actually start with a full human agent, and some people start with a full automated solution, and depending on what their task at hand is… So if you’re, for example, if you’re doing lead generation, I would start with an automated solution because lead generation is something very, very repeatable. You can ask the same questions. Basically it’s filling out a form through a chat interface, which is more interactive and more engaging. Like the… Usually the convergence to actually filling out the form go higher, when you use a chat interface. But then when… If you are doing something that has a much more diverse in terms of what the customer intent is, then you can actually go out and start with live chat. And this is a really good point because, for example, what we do, we don’t believe ads in one way or the other.
Mike Yan: Like I think that the best customer experience is created with a mix of automation and human touch. And it has to be because automation is really, really helpful when it works, when it’s responsive, when it actually does what you want it to do, and it gets you to your desired results.
Mike Yan: A human agent is a great addition, when you have a certain question and you want somebody to talk to, that can understand your specific inquiry and can help you out, and for more complex queries or just sometimes you just need a person to talk about the thing that you have at hand. And so I wouldn’t say that there is a specific path that you should take as a business. I think there is… You should look at your task that you’re trying to solve, at your goal, and ask yourself “How is that… Like, what is the best way to solve that?”
Mike Yan: And, and again we are seeing in terms of our customers, we have both solutions on the platform. So we do have the automation part, obviously, and we do also have the live chat part. And we see that from our customers, is that, people usually automate the things that are easily automate able, and then they also go through the live chat, when somebody, for example, for some reason, somebody could fall out of the conversation flow. They started to type something, they ask a question or something. That’s actually, at ManyChat, that will open up a conversation and, as an admin, you’re going to be notified that somebody is outside the automation and you should pay attention or maybe respond to them and bring them back into the flow, or actually continue the flow manually. And so we tried to reduce those costs. We tried to make sure that things that could be automated are automated, but then also give you the option to do human manual responses.
John Jantsch: Well, I think you made a really good point that people need to really, I think, focus on. Automation, when it works, is a beautiful thing. When it doesn’t work, it’s really irritating. And so I think that that’s… I think people need to understand that. Tell me a little bit about AI’s function in this. I mean, are we in a world… Because a lot of the responses are, that are currently available are, it’s almost like a database. I mean they’re built in, pre-written, so they can only respond to a certain thing a certain way. How far are we away from a world where a chat bot for example, can understand the intent of a question, and make its own answers up.
Mike Yan: Yeah. So I don’t think that the chat bots will be able to… So first of all, the chat bot can already understand the intent, that just depends on the technology. So, ManyChat tends to [inaudible] dial workflow. So you could actually use something like Dial-A-Quote from Google, that understands the intent of the person and can be much more flexible in terms of how you set up those automations. So it’s not just like rigid keywords, where “Hey, this is… If this word is mentioned, then reply with this message.” It’s much more if the person’s intent is close to… Like asking about the working hours, then respond with this message. But you’re still responding with a message. What you’re talking… When you’re talking about actually responding with a message that is generated by the AI. So, that’s actually further… So there is already a artificial intelligence model that can generate… Like they can generate a picture, they can generate music, they can generate text.
Mike Yan: So there is already a lot of progress technologically in that. It just doesn’t feel like… There’s not a lot of use case for that, at this point, for types of FAQ questions, or let’s say for types of asking questions about a certain missing information. So for example, if you’re, if you have an AI model that gets reservations. So an AI model is just a really fancy way of saying like, if there’s a type of algorithm to, for example, take reservations, automatically, the person could say, “Hey, I want to book a table for two people.” Like okay, so we know that you need it for two people, but we don’t know the dates. We didn’t know the time. So now we need to ask for the missing info. So you have the intent, you need those two parameters to start asking, “Okay, what’s the date, what’s the time?” And also maybe for some other additional info, like an email or a phone number to reach out to the person.
Mike Yan: So, and for those types of things, you don’t really need a generative model that will actually… You can actually static program those texts. And staying with the FAQ, once we know what question you’re asking, it’s actually… You don’t need a different response every time somebody asks in a different way about the working hours. Are you open today? Are you open right now? You can actually respond with the same message of, Hey, we work from this to this, et cetera, et cetera. So you don’t need to generate that message. But I think in the future, in a few years, there are a lot of cases to make chat bots more natural in terms of what they can be talking about, and to make those conversations more unique, that will also listen to the context of the conversation. And in that regard, yes, those models will be very valuable, and I think it’s a matter of a few years to actually be implemented. So in terms of capturing intent, that’s available right now in terms of generating texts, I think we’re a few years out.
John Jantsch: So if you’re a small business, and I’m sure that a lot of small business owners are hearing a lot about this, and they’re thinking, is this for me? How would you tell somebody who maybe was… Maybe not as digitally savvy, who’s thinking, “How can I try this out?” Where would be the first place that you kind of say, “Hey, here’s a use that just about every business could use?”
Mike Yan: That’s a great question. I was wondering, if we went into this AI wormhole and I’m wondering, are the small businesses even interested in the technological details of this? I think all of this seems very complicated and very techie, et cetera. Like, the simple fact is, that 2.5 billion people are using messaging apps. Everybody is using text messaging. Every b… In the U S for example, 55% of people use iPhones, and iPhones have not only text messaging but also iMessage installs, which is a messaging app. If somebody was wondering what are… What is the difference between those green bubbles and blue bubbles. So, the blue bubble means that you’re sending this over data and not over the carrier. And basically, that’s a messaging app that’s just built into the messages application. And actually, what I’m trying to say is that, all your customers are using messaging apps and most… Probably you’re also using messaging apps when you’re talking to your friends and family, your children, and your colleagues.
Mike Yan: Slack is growing really fast. Microsoft Teams is growing really fast. Those are the two messaging apps for the work force. So, the number one thing that businesses have to realize is, messaging as a form of communication, is here to stay, and it’s growing rapidly. So that’s number one point. And now the question is, “How can my business benefit from adopting messaging apps and chat as the channel of customer communication?” Let’s say, I’ve been using email. Should I be starting to use SMS? Should I start using Facebook messenger? And what is going to be the benefit? And to be honest, for different businesses, it’s going to be a different use case. Most businesses actually, will have to start using messaging apps in the next three to five years, because all the consumers are going to expect that they can actually message the business on any platform.
Mike Yan: Like you know how everybody expects that you have a phone, and you have a website. It seems a bit strange to a lot of people, but it’s actually, for me, it’s not even a hypothesis, it’s a fact. In three to five years, everybody is going to expect every business to be able to text any business. You, as a consumer, you’re going to be pissed off, when a business will not have an option to text them, and to not have a phone conversation, because phone conversations are actually, in terms of their popularity as a customer communication channel, they’re dying. They’re very much declining. And the reason, if you look at the data, I can send over some links of the research, but if you look at the more senior people, their approval, like their preference for voice communication, is 60 something percent. It’s really high.
Mike Yan: But if you look at the people from 18 to 34, their preference for voice is 20%. So it’s three times lower. And the same goes… And the same transition happens for text, but other way around. The text communication for people 65 and older, is 20% preference. But for people… And this one actually covers two age groups, so it’s not from 18 to 35 it’s more… It’s from 18 to 44, and their preference for text communication is 61%.
Mike Yan: So as a person, you want to be able to chat with a business, but that business has to be responsive. That business has to be able to reply fast, automate some of this stuff, manually process the other stuff. And you’ll be doing all of this because you don’t want to live like… You don’t want to be wasting your time being on the line with a business that is scrambling to answer all the phone calls.
John Jantsch: And I think phone support is actually gotten worse too, maybe because of this. But, speaking with Mike Yan, he is the CEO of the messenger marketing platform ManyChat, and you heard it here; Three to five years, you better be in the text game, or you risk the… You run the risk of being obsolete. So Mike, tell people where they can find, and I know you’ve got lots of great resources and education there as well, but tell people where they can find out more about ManyChat.
Mike Yan: Sure. So if you go to ManyChat, M A N Y C H A T.com, you will find we have a free plan. We can start building out your messenger and SMS automations and chats. And we have a great beginner course on YouTube. It’s free for everybody to watch. It walks you through how to build this out, what is it for, et cetera.
Mike Yan: And if you’re somebody who is not like into the whole marketing thing though, that’s back to the question, “Why are you listening to this podcast?” But, maybe you just want to be… Stay on top of the technology stuff. Then we have a bunch of agencies who are really, really good at building out of these types of experiences, and you can also find a partner that will build this out for you. And we have a list of certified experts on the websites and you can talk to them, you can ask them all sorts of questions.
Mike Yan: So I would go to ManyChat, either find a partner or just register for a free account and go through the YouTube course. It’s all free. And once you’re convinced, then you can actually convert to a Pro account, and it’s going to be… We’re very aggressively priced, and because we want to build the most ubiquitous platform on the market, that’s why we start with… Even the Pro plan. We have all this stuff for free, but if you convert to the Pro plan, it’s like $10 a month.
John Jantsch: Awesome. So thanks for stopping by, Mike, and encourage people to check out ManyChat; We’ll have the links in the show notes. So hopefully we’ll catch up with you next time I’m out there on the road.
Mike Yan: Thank you. Thank you.
John Jantsch stops by the Content Heroes podcast to share his entrepreneurial journey and how it led him to write his latest book, The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur.
On this episode, Jantsch and host Josiah Goff talk about what it means to be an entrepreneur, how establishing habits of mindfulness and contemplation build a foundation that keeps creative energy flowing, and why that mindfulness is also a key to maintaining resilience and energy throughout your journey.
Today on the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I visit with Deanna Singh, speaker, author, and founder and Chief Change Agent at Flying Elephant.
Singh defines her purpose in life as shifting power to marginalized communities, and through Flying Elephant, she does just that. By building opportunities within underserved communities, she helps people, companies, and communities discover and recognize their full potential so that they can truly thrive.
She’s the author of several books, including Purposeful Hustle: Direct Your Life’s Work Towards Making a Positive Impact.
Today on the podcast, Singh and I talk all things purpose. Why is it important to discover your own purpose? How can you find it? And once you’ve found it, how do you start fully living it? Singh has insightful answers to all of those questions.
Questions I ask Deanna Singh:
- How does purposeful hustle differ from regular hustle?
- How do you define impact in the context of a business?
- What role does curiosity play in a purposeful hustle?
What you’ll learn if you give a listen:
- How you can discover your own purpose.
- What four characteristics every purposeful hustler needs.
- How Flying Elephant helps underserved communities thrive.
Key takeaways from the episode and more about Deanna Singh:
- Learn more about Deanna Singh
- Order your copy of Purposeful Hustle
- Follow on Facebook
- Follow on Twitter
- Connect on LinkedIn
Like this show? Click on over and give us a review on iTunes, please!
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Transcript of Paving the Path to a Purposeful Hustle written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing
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John Jantsch: Hello, and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape marketing podcast. This is John Jantsch and my guest today is Deanna Singh. She is an authority in building innovative opportunities within underserved communities, and she’s also the chief change agent and founder of Flying Elephant. She’s also the author of a book we’re going to talk about today called Purposeful Hustle, Direct Your Life’s Work Towards Making a Positive Impact. Deanna, thanks for joining me.
Deanna Singh: Thanks so much for having me. I’m excited to be here.
John Jantsch: Hustle is a pretty popular topic right now. In fact, there are a number of books that I’ve seen over the last couple of years that have that in the title. How does Purposeful Hustle differ from hustle hustle?
Deanna Singh: Sure. I love this word hustle, but I have to tell you that when I first was writing the book and I shared it with my editor, she’s like, “I don’t think you should use the word hustle.” And I’m like, “No, I’m absolutely going to use the word hustle,” because there is a very specific meaning to me. When I think about the idea of purpose and the idea of purposeful, for me, that’s the why. Why do you do the things that you do? So what is that? And the hustle part is how. If you know what your purpose is and why you show up in the world, the hustle is how do you show up in the world, and how do you get through some of the challenges that you will inevitably face if you are living in your purpose? So those two words together meant a lot to me, and I think really got at the crux of this idea of making it through life and moving through things with a purpose in mind.
John Jantsch: Well, I do think that unfortunately I think hustle has a very positive connotation, but I think it’s taken on a negative connotation in some circles because it does sort of imply get there however you can. Sometimes hustle in that vein is not altogether healthy or positive.
Deanna Singh: Absolutely. Absolutely. And this really is this idea of get there but do it in a way that is going to make the world around you better.
John Jantsch: So you define, I’ll read this directly from the book, Purposeful Hustle is directing your life’s work towards intentionally making a positive impact in the world. So let’s talk about impact. How do you define impact particularly say in the context of a business?
Deanna Singh: I think that impact obviously has a lot of different ways that you can break it down. When you’re thinking about purposeful impact, what you’re thinking about is what are the ways that by me being in business, by us being in business, that we are moving forward this human agenda. Moving forward this idea of being able to connect more with one another. When we think about impacts, there’s this larger sort of a requirement I think that’s on all of our lives, which is how do we connect ourselves to one another? That to me is this impact. Are we creating more connectivity and are we creating more positive connectivity?
John Jantsch: Yeah. I don’t think… Sometimes people get bogged down by that because they’re thinking, oh, I have to go start a nonprofit agency and save the world-
Deanna Singh: Absolutely not.
John Jantsch: … to have impact.
Deanna Singh: Absolutely not.
John Jantsch: I think that’s a healthy message. I guess any business that is making one or a hundred or a thousand people’s lives in some fashion better, that’s impact, isn’t it?
Deanna Singh: Right. You think about all of the businesses that are operating, well, they’re all being operated by people. And so whether it’s in the direct work that you’re doing or the service or product that you’re putting out into the world, and you can find the purpose connection there amazing, that is where you get some of these social enterprises and nonprofits. But also just in the way that you’re treating the people who are part of your team. Are you giving them the opportunity to go out and make the changes in your communities? Those are all important questions and I think really all come down to the heart of what a business is.
John Jantsch: If somebody writes a book with the title purpose in it, or the word purpose in the title I should say, I guess it’s fair to say, how would you define your purpose?
Deanna Singh: I am so glad you asked. I always tell people, if you stand still long enough, I will happily tell you what my purpose is. I define my purpose as shifting power to marginalized communities. What that means to me is that, I’ve had a lot of amazing experience with a lot of different factors. I’ve been in leadership levels and have seen all of these different things. But one of the things that I’ve noted in my career and also my personal life is that the minute that somebody feels like they have the self-efficacy, they feel like they already have all the things that they need, but they see it and they recognize it in themselves. That’s where real power, that’s where real change happens. For me, it’s about how do I help companies? How do I help individuals? How do I help communities find that inner power so that they can thrive and really reach their full potential?
John Jantsch: All right, so I do have to ask what’s up with the Flying Elephant?
Deanna Singh: Sure. Really, the concept of Flying Elephant there’s a funny story behind this. My husband and I have been best friends since we were 10. We’ve been married 15 years. For my 10 year anniversary, he gives me this beautiful, ornate elephant, and I was like, thank you. But why an elephant? He said, “Well, to add to your elephant collection.” And I was like, “I don’t have an elephant collection.” Then he gently took my hand and walked me through our house. And I have an elephant collection, John. I have elephants from all over the world and didn’t realize it. You have to have sometimes people who are so close to you that they can actually see you more than you can see in some respects.
Deanna Singh: But the idea of the Flying Elephant really comes from this notion of how do you take something that is heavy and big and majestic and it has all of those beautiful characteristics and put wings on it? And so for me, the idea of Flying Elephant and working with the clients that I have and the individuals that I work with, what are the big, heavy, majestic, amazing ideas that you have and how do we put wings on them? How do we get them off the ground so that everybody can see them and can benefit from them?
John Jantsch: So I’m sure you run across people, I do all the time, when we start talking about this idea of finding your why and your purpose, that a lot of them say, “That’s great.” I don’t know what it is. I can’t find it. You know, I’m searching for it and I don’t think I’m living it. Is there a way that you’ve been able to help people discover their purpose?
Deanna Singh: I’m going to tell you something that I tell people all the time. It’s going to be so simple. It’s like such a simple thing. I’m always shocked by how little leaders do this, which is schedule some time to do some absolute reflection where all you’re thinking about is your purpose, and you don’t have people who say, I don’t have the time for that. I don’t have… I’m like, yeah, maybe, maybe. But what’s happening, because you’ve haven’t scheduled some time is that it’s just nitpicking in the back of your head. It’s making that noise, right? So it’s kind of just like buzzing back there. When you actually schedule… It’s always there, and it’s kind of distracting you, but if you schedule some time to really sit down and then ask yourself some important questions. In the book I give a whole list of questions and things you can go through, but there’s some big ones.
Deanna Singh: Number one, what is something I could talk about endlessly? What is something that keeps me up at night? What are the things that are skills that I’m like the go-to person for? People will say, “You know, I’m going to go to Jennifer. I’m going to go to Deanna for this,” and are things that they’re really easy for me to do but might be challenging for other people. What are some things and maybe even individuals or experiences or events that have happened in my life that have shaped my character that make me really unique? Because when you start to go through those things, you start to see them and especially if you put them on paper. I always require any client that I’m working with to put it on paper. You’re going to start to see some themes. It’s not so much that you don’t know what your purpose is. I always tell people, you just haven’t uncovered it. It’s there. You’ve just got to sweep off some of the dust so you can get to it.
John Jantsch: Well, do you also ever find that there are people that maybe don’t want to discover it? And I don’t mean that they don’t want what it might bring them, but they might not want what they would have to do to live it. So in other words, there’s some fear of like, “Okay, if this really is my purpose, then I’m going to have to make wholesale changes in my life, and I’m not ready to do that.”
Deanna Singh: Absolutely. You know, one of the things that I do in the hustle section of the book is I talk about four characteristics that every purposeful hustler needs, their initiative, curiosity, courage, and resiliency. And so what you’re getting at, really, is this idea of courage, because a lot of times people are like, hey, I’m really comfortable where I am. I’m not necessarily aligned with my purpose, but I’m comfortable. I like my title. I like my pay, I like my… and I am not ready to give it up. It’s kind of along the lines of what you were mentioning before about do I have to start a nonprofit organization.
Deanna Singh: A lot of times it’s really walking through what are… Would it be a complete change of your life for you to get into purpose? Maybe 10 years from now, 15 years from now that’s maybe what your life looks like. But maybe right now it’s just a small change. Maybe now it’s like, “I’m going to take 15 minutes a day and I’m going to focus on my purpose.” And that doesn’t really change the dynamics that are going on around you. I tell people that that’s an excuse, and it’s a challenge that people see often, and they allow it to just stop them as opposed to them saying, “Well, that’s not tomorrow. “Right? Or maybe it’s never, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t take little bitty steps that are going to get me closer to what that purpose looks like.
Deanna Singh: I will say, too, just full disclosure, one of the things that I’ve realized is that people are afraid of it because it’s something new and it’s different and we’re always kind of afraid of something new and different. But the minute people start to kind of be in that space, I mean realize the joy and the rejuvenation that they’re getting from being in that purpose, one of the things I hear all the time is, “Man, I wish I would’ve done this X number of years ago. Man, I wish I would’ve done this. I feel more complete.”
John Jantsch: Don’t you think a lot of people suffer from being comfortable? That’s what I find. It’s like, why shake up the apple cart? Everything’s okay. It may not be great. It may be mediocre, but it’s okay. I feel like a lot of times when people really decide to go on this search, it’s because something dramatic has already happened that has kind of given them the wakeup that they’re just sort of wandering through life.
Deanna Singh: Absolutely. I definitely think so. But you know that’s a really bounded way to live. To be living in a state of comfort is okay, but state of fear of something else, I don’t know. At least to me, I can’t see how that could ever be stress free or ever be acceptable.
John Jantsch: Well, again, I’ll go with I think a lot of people… I think some people recognize what they should be doing, but it just looks like a lot of work. And the fact that nothing’s really wrong, even though they’re not kind of maybe living the life they should be living, I think that resistance is greater than some of the fear of can I actually do this.
Deanna Singh: Absolutely. Because it looks like… And I think the other challenge that I hear all the time is people say, “Well, I’d like to do that thing, and it’s so far away to the top of this big mountain. How would I ever climb up that big mountain?” They’re just looking at that mountain top, but they’re not looking at the next step and the next step and the next step. And so we take these really big things, they are big and audacious sometimes, and kind of like, “Whoa, could I do this?” or, “Oh, that’s just too much work, or, “I don’t have the time,” or whatever the challenge might be, but instead of looking at it in just these little bitty tiny steps. One of the strategies that I talk about a lot is what could you do in 15 minutes?
Deanna Singh: Could you just commit to yourself and give yourself a gift for the next 30 days of 15 minutes and say every day I’m just going to do 15 minutes that are just going to be… Maybe it’s just some reflection time. Maybe it’s making a phone call. Maybe it’s listening to an amazing podcast, right? Maybe it’s whatever. But what could I do in just these 15 minutes? And then see what that feels like. Is it overwhelming? Have you learned something about yourself? Because once people get into this space, then it’s really hard to get out because you’re like, “Wow, this is a whole different way of living my life and I feel so much better.”
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John Jantsch: You have chapters on specific words. You talked a little bit about this idea of being courageous. I know as an entrepreneur just rather you’re living your purpose or not just getting up and going out there everyday takes a level of resiliency. But you spend a lot of time talking about curiosity. I tell people all the time that’s kind of my super power. I think it is what I bring to the world is that I’m just really curious about stuff and I break it down and bring it back and say, “Here’s something interesting.”
John Jantsch: How in your experience does… Why is that such an important trait in your opinion, about being this idea of purpose?
Deanna Singh: I think that being curious is incredibly important in all aspects of life. Whether you’re an entrepreneur or a business leader, whether you’re just a human being, just being curious, it is part of the thing that makes us human. I think it’s just an important skill and characteristic to nurture. What I talk about in the book is actually it’s directed at people who are like you and I who are curious, but thinking about how you take that curiosity and add it into some kind of an action plan.
Deanna Singh: Because one of the things that I see will happen is people will say, “I’m really curious,” and then they go down a rabbit hole. I did this all the time. So let me talk about myself. I’ll go down a rabbit hole. I love this rabbit hole. I find so many things in it, and then I find another one.
Deanna Singh: And then by the time I’m finished I have this whole little city of rabbit holes, but I don’t have any action underneath it. One of the things that I talk about a lot is, yes, it’s important to be curious. And here are many of the reasons why it’s important to be curious, and here’s some different ways to push yourself into some places where you can learn something new and kind of expand what your comfort zone is. But here’s also some ways that you can make sure that you tie that into an action. So it’s not just curiosity for the sake of curiosity, it’s curiosity with some movement behind it.
John Jantsch: So it’s curiosity that doesn’t just look like attention deficit disorder.
Deanna Singh: You said it, I didn’t.
John Jantsch: Do you want to talk about some of the projects maybe that you’ve worked on with people particularly in underserved communities?
Deanna Singh: Absolutely. There’s a couple of companies that we’re running out of Flying Elephant. One, is we do coaching and consulting specifically for women and people of color who want to go into the social enterprise space. For your listeners who may not know what social enterprise is, it’s really organizations that are created to solve for a social issue. So really trying to make sure that that sector has a lot of diversity, equity and inclusion.
Deanna Singh: Another company that we run out of Flying Elephant is called Story to Tell Books, and there what we do is we focus on making sure that there’s books out in the world that feature positive images of children of color. Right now, children of color, and we’ve got more than 50% that are school age kids, but are represented in less than 14% of books, which is a real problem because you ask a reading teacher, “How do you get a child excited about reading and, therefore, excited about learning?” And they the number one thing they’re going to say, “Help them find themselves in a book.” So we have this book in print that does just that, and it’s really trying to get at changing the narrative.
Deanna Singh: The third company that I run is, I’m a doula. I started with a business partners a company. Doulas are people who will coach birthing people through the birth and labor process. We started a company called Birth Coach Milwaukee, which is where I’m from. The whole point of that company is to try and eliminate the disparities in birthing outcomes. The research shows, again, you introduce a doula or midwife, you can really eliminate those disparities.
Deanna Singh: We have a one-to-one model for every person who is able to pay full price we’re then able to provide services to women who otherwise could not afford it. So those are three companies that we’re working on specifically out of Flying Elephant. A lot of diversity there, a lot of fun, super amazing. Looking at some of the impact, it makes for incredibly interesting days if you can imagine.
Deanna Singh: Some of the other companies that we’ve helped with really kind of run the gamut, but a lot of them have to do with economic development. Creating new economic development opportunities for individuals who might not have the same kind of access to social capital, actual capital, network, and those things. And really trying to create the environment that allows for them to take their ideas and put wings on them.
John Jantsch: If somebody was… I know we talked about you don’t have to start a nonprofit, but I do think there are a lot of businesses, a lot of entrepreneurs, that actually would like to help in, as you described them, underserved communities. I’ve heard from people say it’s actually kind of hard to know where to start. Any advice for somebody who’s listening who thinks, yeah, I would like to reach out and maybe help entrepreneurs that are having trouble getting started, that I’ve got something to give there. What are some ways that you kind of figure out how to do that?
Deanna Singh: I think that’s an excellent question. A lot of cities will have places where there’s economic development boards. They call them different things in different places, but looking at where are the agencies or organizations that people who don’t have, again, those networks or those experiences, their own personal wealth to be able to get their ideas off the ground. Where are they going? And if they’re not going any place, one of the things you could do is create that space. Create that conversation or that space where people could come to, but hopefully… My hope is that there is something like that that exists in a lot of different communities and then reaching out to them and saying, look, this is my expertise. This is something I’m really, really good at, and I would love to be able to share that expertise. What’s the best way for me to connect with the people who are coming through your organization? So you don’t have to start anything, but you can bring your expertise to bear.
John Jantsch: I have to tell you a story about the word underserved. It makes me nervous every time I see it. Early in my business, I was doing a directory for a nonprofit. Actually, it was United Way. I somehow in the text turned underserved into undeserved, and gosh darn, it changed the meaning-
Deanna Singh: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. It was actually… I see that.
John Jantsch: The problem was the thing got proofread about eight times, but that was a normal word. It just wasn’t the right thing. It was just a couple of characters mixed around. But boy did it change the meaning. So every time I see that word now I get a little cold shiver. So apologize, I had to share that.
Deanna Singh: Yeah, no, I just got a bad shiver for you, but you survived.
John Jantsch: I did. I did, I did. So Deanna, tell people where they can find more about what you’re doing there at Flying Elephant, and, of course, how to pick up a copy of Purposeful Hustle.
Deanna Singh: Sure. Purposeful Hustle can be purchased on any of the normal avenues that you go to, Amazon or Barnes & Noble or any of those places. But you can also get it directly from our website, which is Deanna, D-E-A-N-N-A, Singh, S-I-N-G-H dot com. Deannasingh.com. You can get the book. You can see the children’s books. You can kind of see all of the different things that we’re doing and sign up to get the weekly blog just to hear how other people are really living in the Purposeful Hustle. And then also any social media platform. Almost any social media platform. Love to connect with some of your listeners.
John Jantsch: Well, and we’ll have all those links in the show notes both to the site as well as links to Flying Elephant. Deanna, thanks for joining us and hopefully keep up that great work, and hopefully we’ll run into you out there on the road.
Deanna Singh: Awesome. So grateful to be here. Thanks.
The customer journey is at the heart of all marketing efforts. I wrote last week about how the marketing hourglass and the marketing maturity model are the two frameworks to guide you through the creation of your entire marketing system.
While the marketing maturity model helps you to establish and grow your own marketing assets, the marketing hourglass teaches you how to interact with customers throughout their journey with your brand. In today’s digital world, where things change quickly, the customer journey continues to grow and evolve. And it’s critical that you’re aware of these changes so that you can continue to deliver an effective marketing message to customers, even as their journey shifts.
Let’s take a look back at how the customer journey evolved in 2019 and where we might expect it to go in 2020.
The Omnichannel Experience Expands Further
Digital marketing allows you to create multiple touchpoints with your customers. From your website to social media to video platforms to paid advertising, there are dozens of channels for you to explore. And in 2019, you gained even greater options.
Voice search continues to grow. Experts expect that 200 million smart speakers will have been sold by the end of the year. While smart speakers and voice assistants provide another way for you to get discovered by new prospects, you may need to pivot your SEO efforts to get noticed by Alexa and Siri. Things like having a mobile-friendly site that is fast and secure, and making sure you’re listed on relevant local listings sites (think Yelp, Facebook, and Google My Business) can all help you to be the brand that’s suggested by a voice assistant.
Augmented reality (AR), which first gained widespread attention as the tech that powered the popular Pokémon Go app, is now being used by marketers to sell products. We’ve seen retailers in the fashion, beauty, and home furnishing spaces develop apps that allow people to virtually try before they buy.
Visual search is also something to keep on your radar screen. Social platform Pinterest has added visual search to their site, allowing consumers to upload a picture of a product they like and presenting them with suggestions for where they can purchase the item—or something similar—online. For tips on how to make Pinterest work for your business, check out this Duct Tape Marketing podcast episode with Pinterest expert Alisa Meredith.
Data and Automation Are More Important Than Ever
Data and automation are buzzwords we’ve heard tossed around for several years now, but they’ve established themselves as critical elements of business operations and marketing. On the marketing front, they allow you to better understand the unique shifts in your customer’s journey, so that you can modify your approach and direct the right message at the right prospect at the right time.
As the technology becomes more widespread and costs of implementation decrease, small businesses are able to tackle personalization on a level that was previously only possible for giants like Amazon.
This year, 80 percent of regular shoppers indicated that they’ll only do business with brands that serve up personalized experiences. So if you’re still sending the same emails to everyone on your mailing list, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity.
Understanding customer data allows you to segment your customer base into different personas. Very few businesses serve customers that are all exactly alike. For most of us, we mean different things to different people. Let’s say you’re a florist. Some of your clients purchase flowers only for special occasions, like birthdays and anniversaries. Others are event planners who place large orders on behalf of their clients. Others still are individuals with standing orders for arrangements at their home or office.
Each of these customers have very different needs, and so they should be getting very different marketing messages from you. By using the data you already have on your customers to better understand their behaviors and actions, you can craft your marketing messaging to speak directly to each segment of your customer population.
And with marketing automation tools, you can set your system to send certain messages to customers that are triggered by specific behaviors. That means everyone is always getting the marketing message they most need and want, and you’re likely to generate more business.
Online and In-Person Worlds Collide
If you’re a marketer today, there’s so much to think about in the digital world that it’s possible to get carried away and forget that your customers still exist in the real world! That’s why it’s important that, even as you keep an eye on digital trends, you work to bring the digital and real worlds together for your customers.
Eighty-eight percent of consumers who do a local search on their phone end up calling or visiting the business within 24 hours. This means that the online portion of the customer journey is leading directly to in-person sales.
How can you better facilitate the customer journey from online browsing to in-person purchasing? Make sure your business is present on local listings sites like Google My Business so that you can get found in the first place. Have your contact information and hours listed prominently on your site and local listings, so that prospects can actually call and visit.
Webrooming is another digital-to-real-world trend that local businesses need to be aware of. Webrooming is the practice of searching for a product online while you’re physically in the store. I know I’ve done it myself to check out specs and reviews on the top one or two items I’m considering. Reviews and ratings are important to any small business for SEO, but they’re also relevant in the real world as they have the ability to sway a webrooming consumer in real time.
Engagement is Key
As the customer journey has grown more and more complex, engagement has become even more important. When prospects or customers reach out to you via any channel, you must respond quickly and effectively.
Engagement is your opportunity to capture more of your audience’s valuable attention. If someone comments on your social media account, don’t just let it sit there or simply reply with a like. Instead, ask a question or write a response that invites them to engage in conversation. The longer you can keep that volley going, the greater their sense of connection becomes with your brand. If you’re able to make a good impression now, it’s the kind of thing that will make them think about you later when they’re ready to make a purchase.
Building Loyalty is Critical for Long-Term Success
Because the customer journey is no longer a straight light, you need to build loyalty. Otherwise, people will abandon you when a better offer comes along.
Be honest: How many times have you done your product research on one site, settled on your product of choice, and then opened up a Google tab to search for the same product elsewhere, cheaper?
Digital enables people to go through all of the steps of the journey with you, and then at the last minute jump ship to go with a cheaper competitor. The only way to combat this is to offer an incredible customer experience. Your brand has to be about more than your products, or you’ll lose your differentiation (and your customers). And you need to be going above and beyond at every stage of the customer journey, because they can slip away at any point.
The Journey Can’t Just Happen, You Need to Guide It
With so many marketing channels in place, you can’t leave customers’ paths to chance. Instead, you need to take control of your destiny and guide the customer journey.
This starts with mapping to understand your current customers. When you know how your existing ideal clients behaved on their journey, you can work to recreate that experience for others. Not only is it more likely to lead to conversions, it also means you’ll be attracting new customers who fit your ideal profile
When you’re refining your approach, it’s good to use testing. Research your existing customers, posit a theory, test it out, and measure results. A/B testing is a great way to run side-by-side comparisons of different approaches to see which resonates best with your target audience.
The customer journey is constantly evolving, and I’m sure we’ll see even more changes—big and small—in 2020. No matter where the customer journey goes next, if you keep the marketing hourglass and a commitment to serving your customers as your North Star, you’ll be able to weather any ups and downs in the marketing landscape.
My weekend blog post routine includes posting links to a handful of tools or great content I ran across during the week.
I don’t go into depth about the finds, but encourage you to check them out if they sound interesting. The photo in the post is a favorite for the week from an online source or one that I took out there on the road.
- Dollar Eighty – Use this Chrome extension to help you implement an effective Instagram growth strategy.
- Product/Market Fit Survey – Measure your company’s product/market fit with this tool from entrepreneur and growth hacker Sean Ellis.
- Webiny Form Builder – Create forms with this free drag-and-drop form builder.
These are my weekend favs, I would love to hear about some of yours – Tweet me @ducttape
Profit By Design Podcast – The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing
John Jantsch, author of six books including his latest, The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur, stops by the Profit By Design podcast to chat with host Dr. Sabrina Starling about his latest book.
The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur is inspired by Jantsch’s reflection on his own entrepreneurial journey. He’s crafted 366 daily meditations to help entrepreneurs discover their sense of self-reliance and trust in their own voice and vision. Check out the episode to learn more about his book and the process for creating and writing it.