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Transcript of Business Lessons Learned on the Baseball Field

Transcript of Business Lessons Learned on the Baseball Field written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

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John Jantsch: This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by Zephyr CMS. It’s a modern cloud based CMS system that’s licensed only to agencies. You can find them at, more about this later in the show.

John Jantsch: Hello and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing podcast. This is John Jantsch. My guest today is Joel Goldberg. He is a speaker, MC and a television announcer with 25 years or so under his belt, the last 12 with the Kansas City Royals. So we’re going to talk today about lessons learned in sports that translate to business. So Joel, thanks for joining me.

Joel Goldberg: Thanks for having me John.

John Jantsch: I have to tell you, first off, a lot of my listeners know that I’m in Kansas City and that I’m a Kansas City Royals fan that I got a solid single off of Monte at fantasy camp. And every time I see you guys back up there in left field, I let him know it.

Joel Goldberg: Well come by again next year and we’ll really let him know it because the good news is he’s pretty humble. The reality of it is if he threw you a legitimate slider, you wouldn’t have had a chance, I wouldn’t have a chance.

John Jantsch: I think that thing he threw to me might’ve reached 65 miles an hour. I mean, it had some heat behind it.

Joel Goldberg: Yes, some [inaudible 00:01:28]. Isn’t it quite the reminder of how, even when we think we have talent along those lines that we’re not close, never have been?

John Jantsch: Nope. But to your point, he is a fine human being as well.

Joel Goldberg: The best. I’ll tell you, I mean, he’s been my broadcast partner for better part of 10 years and I still haven’t had a bad day with him. And that’s really hard to say. Most people can’t say that about their spouse, their relatives, anybody. But that’s just life. I’ve never had a moment where I’m like, “Oh, well this guy,” and I travel with him and hang out with them and the whole works. I mean, that’s a former three time all star, all time stage leader for the organization and you’d never know it.

John Jantsch: No, that’s absolutely right. It looks like he could still go out there and throw it a little bit too. He keeps himself in great shape, doesn’t he?

Joel Goldberg: Yeah, better than his partner. But it is amazing, when the team struggles and they go through their cycles like everybody else and bullpen struggling, inevitably there will always be someone, fan that walks by and says, “You ready to go?” And he’s 57 years old now and I think that the response usually is, “I’m done.” Every now and then there’s a, “Maybe I can help a little bit.”

John Jantsch: So let’s talk. We’re obviously going to talk about some of the leadership and culture stuff that you’re working on these days. But maybe give people a little bit of insight into, I’m sure a lot of people think, “Oh, baseball announcer. What a glamorous life and glamorous world,” and in many ways it probably is a dream job, but it’s probably a grind at times too. I mean, I know the baseball players talk about the months and months and months of travel and season and you’ve kind of experience that as well, don’t you?

Joel Goldberg: I experience every bit of it minus the physical part that they experience. But I’m pretty sure that we experience the same mental grind. I think it’s a grind because there’s just no let up. When I moved to Kansas City in 2008 I’d come from a job where I was a year round salaried employee in television. And now essentially I’m a freelance reporter, TV host, working a full year’s worth of work in six months. On a good month you have three or four days off. But there are stretches, and thankfully for the baseball union, for the players, they can’t play 30 straight days. But I think it’s 20 something they’re allowed. So there’s stretches where you might work 20 straight days, get a day off and then go another 15 in a row.

Joel Goldberg: For me, what I learned, it helps when you’re doing what you love and they’re paying me to talk about baseball and travel on charter flights and all that stuff and nice hotels. But you’ve got to pace yourself because if you don’t, that’s what I learned early, take deep breaths and take time for yourself and then your family when you have that is that you’re going to to get to June and be ready for the season to end. And there’s no break. Outside of a four day All Star break in July, there is no relief in sight.

Joel Goldberg: That’s the grind. But again, I don’t say that, ask them for people to feel sorry for me because I’m living my dream and my passion. I think that one that people would empathize the most with is that it can be very challenging and tough being away from family and kids and missing events and all that type of stuff.

John Jantsch: You spend a lot of time on the road. There have been many people that, I mean obviously the analogies of sports to businesses, they’re so rich. But in a lot of ways sports teams like a little mini business. I mean it’s not even mini. I mean it is a sort of odd shaped business, isn’t it?

Joel Goldberg: 100% and I’ll take it a step further, John. I mean, there’s plenty of business in every sports franchise at every level from the corporate sales and the suites or the tickets to the marketing and on and on. I mean, that in itself is the big business.

Joel Goldberg: But if you just look at a major league baseball club house or any locker room in professional sports, to me it is very much a microcosm of any business because you have different personalities, you have diversity, you have different roles. I mean not every team is going to have 25 superstars. Not every team is going to have everybody being the top salesperson and to make it work and to make it mesh in the amount of leadership and determination and skill and passion and all of it, to me, what I’ve learned in my last three years as a speaker, it’s very similar. It is very similar. It just happens to be in a world where there’s a lot of spotlight on them.

John Jantsch: And I think probably a different element, is a lot of businesses can think in terms of wins and losses, but probably not in the dramatic fashion every day that a sports team might experience. How would you say that that element of managing the wins and losses and the emotional roller coaster, the sort of ultimate, did we make it to the World Series? I mean how does that parallel a traditional business in your opinion?

Joel Goldberg: It’s all process based. On the end you’re going to be measured by your wins and losses, your final sales numbers, your goals. But what does it take to get there and all the things behind the scenes and progress that oftentimes doesn’t show up in the numbers that may show up two years down the road, three years down the road.

Joel Goldberg: I think what I love most about baseball, and I love all the sports, I’ve always been a guy and I covered a lot of other sports over the years, still a little bit of hockey, but it is whatever sport I’m in is my favorite. I just liked them all growing up. So baseball is my favorite because I’ve been nonstop in that for 12 years. But baseball is different than the other sport. And I’m not saying that they work any harder. That’s not it. But when you have a bad day in baseball, you go for four, you strike out four times, you give up three home runs as a pitcher or whatever it might be, you got to come back and do it again tomorrow and the next day and the next day.

Joel Goldberg: In football, for better or worse, you’re going to sit on it for a week. You’re going to work and build up to that. But this whole baseball thing is very much representative to me of the real world because it doesn’t stop. And you have a bad day at the office, a bad day at home, you still have to answer the call the next day. If you’re lucky, you get a weekend off. And so that to me is, if you think about in the course of a baseball season, ultimately you’re measured by did you win the championship or not? Then 29 teams out of 30 in baseball are going to be failures that those odds aren’t very good.

Joel Goldberg: The Kansas City Royals finally won a world championship. Hey, they got more world championships in the Yankees in the last 10 years. That doesn’t mean that they’ve been a better team, but how do you measure success beyond just winning that championship? Are you growing? Are you getting better? I think to me that’s very much like most companies that know that they’re not going to suddenly be what they want tomorrow. It is a very long process.

John Jantsch: There’s a lot of talking I think when the Royals won in 2015. There was a lot of talk about how the culture of the organization maybe carried them to a place where purely the talent couldn’t. But then there’s also a lot of naysayers to that idea. I think the same is true in business. There are a lot of folks that are very bottom line, here are the numbers and there’s a lot of people that know this is a place where people want to work.

John Jantsch: I know you talk about culture a lot and so I guess I could ask this sort of a multi part question. What role do you think culture plays in a sports team? What role did you think it played in the excellence that the Royals were able to achieve in the mid 2000s?

Joel Goldberg: Well, I think in terms of the Royals and certainly smaller market teams, it’s huge, if they want it to be huge. I know that the group here that built this team, they just changed ownership, you know that, but they still have the same general manager in place and there’s an incredible consistency to that of having a general manager that has been here since 2006. That’s pretty hard to do in sports. [crosstalk 00:09:31].

John Jantsch: Well not just one who’s been here a long time. I mean, one who puts vocally puts culture out there ahead of a lot of those.

Joel Goldberg: I’ll give you a few examples, John. The first time I ever met Dave Moore was 2007. I was in visiting. I was working in St. Louis that year and so I was in visiting with the Cardinals, which doesn’t make people happy in Kansas City. A big rivalry there. I walked in, I introduced myself to Dave Moore. I knew he was the new GM and I said, “What are you trying to build here?” And he said, “I’m trying to build a championship culture.” I said, “Well what do you mean by that?” He said, “I’m not talking about the 25 players in the locker room. I’m talking about the ticket takers and the vendors and the scouts and people outside of the building and the fans and not just fans in Kansas City, but the region.”

Joel Goldberg: One of the things I always like to say is that that showed up in the form of a big picture of 800,000 people gathered around for a parade. That was everyone included in that. But to me, what Dave Moore has told me is that that culture is a focus of theirs every single day. How you treat people, how you roll off the red carpet when a new player, even if he’s not a star, comes in. He says to me all the time, “You’re part of the culture. People see your face and hear your voice, and so you’re involved in it too. People are more likely to stop me in the street in Kansas City then the 24th guy on the roster because maybe that guy hasn’t been here very long and I have.” It all feeds together.

Joel Goldberg: If you’re the, I don’t know, if you’re the New York Yankees, the Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers, any of those deep pocket, think about in terms of companies, and I don’t know if it’s fair to call the Yankees Amazon, but they can afford to get it wrong at times. I think that in a smaller market it becomes a competitive advantage to be able to focus on people and to be able to focus on culture. That’s what I’ve seen.

Joel Goldberg: It doesn’t mean that just good guys finish last or good guys finish first, in this case. You have to have talent, but if you can’t compete for the top, top, top talent or, and let’s be honest, these owners all have plenty of money. The Royals were just sold for $1 billion. They could go out there and afford any player. The difference from them and the Yankees, like the Yankees just signed Gerrit Cole a $324 million deal, which is insane. If it doesn’t work, they’ve got a higher credit card limit than everyone else. It might cost them some luxury tax dollars, but they’ll go out there and find someone else.

Joel Goldberg: The Royals are [inaudible] make and fill in the blank, the Royals, the Twins, the Brewers, the Cardinals, Pirates, the smaller market teams, if they go out there and attempt to buy a player like that and it doesn’t work, they got nothing left. So they have to be able to win with character developing talent, which is cheaper to do that, and find those competitive advantages.

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John Jantsch: What are the elements then when you go out and talk to business leaders as you do today? What are some of the elements then that you emphasize as parts of building a championship culture?

Joel Goldberg: Well, first and foremost, the number one word or topic along with culture that I talk about is building trust and trust really on multiple levels. Building trust within an organization. And again, I mean I got back to talking about diversity. You go into a baseball clubhouse and guarantee that you’ll have American players, guaranteed you’ll have Dominican players, there’s a good chance you’ll have some Venezuelans, maybe some Cubans, Puerto Rican, Mexican, maybe Japanese, Korean. You’ve got to find a way to make that work. To me, when you could build that trust within each other, and that doesn’t start by the way in the major league clubhouse. So the Royals have lost over a hundred games each of the last two years and people say, “Oh they’re back to where they were before.” And my argument is that in terms of wins and losses, yes, but all of these young players that are coming up through their system were able to watch the way when the guys won here, the way things were done. They saw from afar, they saw it in spring training.

Joel Goldberg: I always say that what a team has a culture, you could put their franchise name and the word way after it, the Cardinal way, the Yankee way. There was no Royal’s way when I got here in 2008. There is now a Royal’s way of doing things. The [inaudible] ball players, the fundamentals, they work on the attention to detail and the way they go about that. And that’s all been passed on. So when kids are getting up here and now at 22-25 years old, this is how we do it. And so they still have that culture.

Joel Goldberg: You build that trust within the organization. I’ll give you this example. They just hired a new manager, Mike Matheney. He had spent the last year in the organization working throughout the minor leagues. He’s already built relationships and trust with all of these prospects. When they get here, there will be an understanding.

Joel Goldberg: To take that a step further, I was told that the day that he got hired as the manager, long day, press conference, all the meet and greets and everything, by the time his head had hit the pillow he had reached out by phone and was able to contact by phone 39 of the 40 players on their roster that are on their 40 man, major league accessible roster, and he spent the last, I think, month just traveling around the country connecting with guys over coffee or lunch, so that on day one there already is trust.

Joel Goldberg: To me, it all starts with trust with each other and that’s what I do every day, John. I mean, the end result is the interview and the product that we see on TV. I’m spending every day trying to earn these guys’ trust to be able to get a better interview, to be able to get access. So that’s what I’m doing in building these relationships. I mean, I don’t care what business you’re in, sports included, it still comes down to people, every single day. It’s a huge part of the culture.

John Jantsch: Here’s the most important question. Does Gordon come back?

Joel Goldberg: I would be shocked if he didn’t. Alex Gordon really is the franchise player, not in terms of their best player anymore. There are lessons, by the way, with him too, phenomenal leader. He’s oftentimes the most quiet guy in the room. But he’s the only guy here that was here as a player when I got here and he made his debut in 2007. He’s kind of that sage guy in the club house now. He still is a good player. His contract is up. He doesn’t want to go anywhere else. He’s a Midwest guy, grew up three hours, three and a half hours away in Lincoln, Nebraska, raising his kids here. They’re in school now, married, all that beautiful family. It’s one of two choices. He’ll either retire and go coach his kids, he’s made plenty of money, or he’ll come back. I would be stunned if he wasn’t back. I really would.

John Jantsch: I hate to derail our conversation about leadership, but I just can’t help it.

Joel Goldberg: [crosstalk 00:16:49].

John Jantsch: What are the Royals have to do to make him feel like they want him to come back? I mean, I know he and Dayton have a good relationship. I know he wants to keep playing, if he thinks he can play at the level he’s supposed to. Are they obligated in some ways to make a gesture of a certain amount?

Joel Goldberg: Maybe. I mean, I think from a numbers standpoint, it’ll just be one of those things where, I’m guessing here, but it’ll be one of those things where they’re not going to want the most ridiculous discount ever that they disrespect him, and he’s not going to want the most ridiculous amount of money that he disrespects them. They understand that there’s a level of respect that they need to show him, and vice versa.

Joel Goldberg: I think more than anything, first off, I feel like his decision could already be made. And I don’t know that. I mean, I did talk to him recently, intentionally that didn’t come up. He’s not going to tell me. I tried to read the tea leaves. It gives me no equity to try to push on things that I’m not going to get an answer to. So you dig around a little bit and you talk to people that are close and all that.

Joel Goldberg: I think for me, other than the fact that there were so many conversations that I would have with him last year away from the field where he’d talk about, “We need to do this, we need to do that.” And I always thought the we part was interesting, almost, and that might just be semantics. But I just think that they need to show him that they’re on the right path. They’re not going to with a new owner suddenly just flip a switch and say, “We’re going to go buy everything and the heck with the process.” They’re not a cutting corners type of organization. I don’t think that’ll suddenly happen. I just feel like he’s going to need to be taken care of more respectful standpoint. They will. He’s got a phenomenal relationship with the organization and the GM. And then just have a feeling that they’re trying to advance this in the right direction and then once that happens, I think he fully understands his place in helping advance it.

John Jantsch: He almost becomes another coach on the field.

Joel Goldberg: He is. And beyond that too, just real quick, because it is important for culture too, and I speak about this a lot, is that the organization will take his work ethic, what he does in the weight room with his health, the way he’s eating, they won’t tell guys never eat a carb and sugar. Nobody’s going to do that except for Alex Gordon. But they’ll watch the way he goes about batting practice at the plate. But before he goes to the plate, the way he shags fly balls like it’s a live game situation, they’ll take video of that and they will show it to the young guys as young as 16-17 years old in the minor leagues and say, “This is the Royal way. This is the way we do things.” He has a major impact on all that.

John Jantsch: I selfishly hope he comes back so that we get to watch him for another year.

Joel Goldberg: Well, I do too. And my selfishness is more than yours because I feel like I’ve watched him grow up on a personal level. I’ve watched him raise his kids and marry his wife and all that and he’s just, he’s one of my favorite people in the world. And a lot of media stays away from him. They all get along with him. He’s just a little bit more introverted, a little bit more quiet. But when you get to know him, he’s funny, he’s thoughtful, he’s respectful and it’s one of the things that I really enjoy is the relationship that I’ve been able to build with him. I know that once he’s gone I won’t have that in terms of the baseball setting.

John Jantsch: His personality reminds me a lot of Salvie kind of doesn’t it?

Joel Goldberg: No.

John Jantsch: No? I meant that completely facetious.

Joel Goldberg: I know you did. I was with you on that one. But I will tell you this, I mean there is a really short message there. Two guys that can lead and do it with extroverted and a bit of a more of an introverted personality and they’re both really affected the way they do it.

John Jantsch: And I think from a culture standpoint, one of the things that a lot of organizations, you talked about the diversity in baseball. I think a lot of organizations lack that diversity to their detriment. I think that’s another great lesson from kind of the team concept of diversity. I think a lot of, I won’t say it’s forced in baseball, but it happens because of the nature of the game. And I think there’s a great lesson in that for organizations because those two styles of leadership we just talked about, everybody, the whole organization, benefits from the fact that those two styles are there.

Joel Goldberg: They’re more than those two styles too. It just, it’s finding people that have a passion for whether it’s the game or that profession that have a passion for whatever that why is. That’s the one thing that the Royals have done really well in recent years is that they go out there and find people that love to play the game. They’re good people and sometimes it’s easy to just go for the best talent out there and say, “You know what?” You get sucked into that talent and you start to ignore some of those other little things that again, a smaller organization can’t afford to ignore.

John Jantsch: So Joel, I know you have a podcast called Rounding The Bases. You hinted you’re working on a book, which will be a great, I think, for your career in the leadership field. Tell people where they can find out more about you.

Joel Goldberg: So certainly on all the social media spots, I think Twitter, it’s Goldberg KC, and then all the other ones it’s Joel Goldberg KC, some version of that on. I post a lot of content on LinkedIn and Instagram. Twitter is more of a baseball thing for me. Facebook, certainly Facebook business page or whatever they call that nowadays. I’ve got a website, I’m still learning every day. I’ve been doing this speaking thing for three years. It’s kind of become a a, not just a side hustle but my other main business and getting in front of all types that want to learn about culture through story driven [inaudible] storytelling messages and strategy. I’ve got the bug, I’ve got the entrepreneurial bug. I don’t know what took me so long to get there, but now it’s one of those things I think I told you before that I wake up every day learning something new and it’s awesome. It’s a lot of fun.

John Jantsch: I tell people, being an entrepreneur is the greatest self development program ever created.

Joel Goldberg: Well it is. I never knew that, but it’s made me a better person. It’s made me a better listener. It’s made me more curious. It’s made me understand that I don’t know anything. Everything that I do know, there’s so much more to know. But more than that, it’s made me a better television host and reporter because I go to the stadium now every day more curious about what’s going on. Where’s the leadership looking like, the culture? Why are they doing this? How does this come about? How are these guys meshing? What did you like about him? I totally agree with you on that. I never thought of myself as an entrepreneur before, I guess because I wasn’t. I was a TV guy. And now suddenly there’s something out there. You know what it is? Becoming an entrepreneur to me was taking off blinders and just seeing more of what’s out there, more of what’s in front of you and to the side and it never stops.

John Jantsch: It’s easy to get very much in your lane. Listen Joel, thanks for stopping by the Duct Tape Marketing podcast and hopefully we’ll give you a shout out when I’m out there at the fountains at the K.

Joel Goldberg: No, for sure do that. And I’m going to have you on my podcast soon. You can taunt Jeff Montgomery, but as I told the previous owner, David Glass, who used to blame both of us for all the losses. I said, “He’s a Royals Hall of Famer. Just blame me. Okay, I’ll take it.”

John Jantsch: Awesome. Well, thanks so much, Joel.

Joel Goldberg: All right, thanks John.

Transcript of Using AI with Human Touch to Create Great Social Content

Transcript of Using AI with Human Touch to Create Great Social Content written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

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

John Jantsch: Hello, and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing podcast. This is John Jantsch, and my guest today is Kate Bradley Chernis. She is the CEO of Lately, an AI-powered social media writing software, that can be found at We’re going to talk about social media, and maybe AI, and just, who knows what else?

John Jantsch: Kate, thanks for joining me.

Kate B. Chernis: Hey, John, thanks for having me. How are you?

John Jantsch: Great. I said you were the CEO of Lately, but, like most people that come on this show, you had a life before Lately. Maybe tell us, how did you get here?

Kate B. Chernis: Yeah. It seems so long ago, doesn’t it?

Kate B. Chernis: In another, other life, I was a rock and roll DJ, John.

John Jantsch: Well, I had a little hint, because I think I was looking up your Skype handle, and it had music in it. I had a little hint, there.

Kate B. Chernis: Ah. Outlandos, right? Because I’m a huge Andy Summers fan, so this tells you how old I am, I’m in my mid-40s, and I’m a ginormous Police fan. Andy Summers is a great guitar player. I opted, or co-opted Outlandos for the name of my first marketing agency.

John Jantsch: Awesome. So, you ran an agency? Well, you were a rock and roll DJ, you ran an agency. Did you, like a lot of people, stumble into Lately because you needed a solution for something?

Kate B. Chernis: Yeah, exactly right. How I got from … I was actually at XM, so broadcasting to 20 million listeners a day, crazy town. How I got from radio to marketing is a little bit of a longer story, so I’ll just jump into time.

Kate B. Chernis: Here I was, with a marketing agency, and my first client was Walmart. It was an interesting collaboration, because it was Walmart with United Way Worldwide, National Disability Institute. They had AT&T involved, and Bank of America, and the IRS, and 10s of thousands of small and mediums businesses. Suddenly I was like, wow, this is a complete, giant mess. I built us this monster spreadsheet, and my boss was like, “Oh, you’ve got to show that to the team.” I had just built it, at first, for my own brain, to sort this out. The spreadsheet system that I built ended up getting us 130% ROI, year over year, for three years.

Kate B. Chernis: Lately is the automation of that. It’s the idea, to give you the ability to do what I did for Walmart, through the use of AI, for way less money and a fraction of the time.

John Jantsch: Yeah. Let’s talk about the AI part. Everybody is talking about AI, but I think everybody has a different idea of what it means, how it actually works. I mean, is it really a computer, or is it just a bunch of people in a building somewhere, that are spitting out this stuff to look like artificial intelligence? I think we’re in a transition period, where all of that’s on the table.

John Jantsch: At the risk of sounding like an ad for Lately, I do want you to explain, how does it work?

Kate B. Chernis: Yeah, for sure. You’re right, in the scope of AI, just to back up, we’re at the baby, baby, baby steps. If AI was a human, we’re not even toddlers, we’re infants, here. There is autonomous AI, which is true machine learning, and then there’s pseudo AI, which is where the machine still needs a human to move things along, which is really where we are, as a race, for the most part.

Kate B. Chernis: With Lately, the way it works is we … First of all, when you connect all of your social channels, we go ahead and we look at a year’s worth of content, and this happens instantly. We’re looking at everything you’ve published, and we’re analyzing all the words, all the keywords that resonated from your highest engaging posts, and we’re looking to replicate that model.

Kate B. Chernis: We extract short form content from long form content. Short form, in this case, being social media posts. Long form could be anything that has text. It could be a book, a newsletter, a blog, a press release. It could also be anything that we transform into text for you, like a podcast like this, or a webinar, or a video. As we’re looking at those long form content, we’re looking for similar patterns and keywords that we found already resonate with your audience. We also, then, start to learn from your analytics, and suggest additional keywords as you go forward.

Kate B. Chernis: So, there’s a coupling between the human and the AI. It’s very much a partnership where we give you the opportunity to not only curate what words we’re looking for, but then enhance the content with that magical human touch, that only you and I, and the rest of the humans have, John. So, putting that emotional component in there, so that gets you to that one plus one equals three, magical scenario.

John Jantsch: Yeah. So, the problem then is, let’s say I have a transcript of 3000 words of this podcast. The promise, then, is that the tool, the platform, can actually turn that into a bunch of tidy little social type posts, and put it in a platform that would actually allow me to schedule those posts. Is that a good summation?

Kate B. Chernis: Yeah, exactly. From this podcast, you might get 100 social posts. They’re drafts. We start you at third base, and about 60% will be ready to go. The other 40% requires a little human touch, so you might want to trash them, or you might want to be like, I just want to finagle one word here, and it’s going to be ready to rock. Then, we do give you the ability to publish those posts, across your various social platforms as well, yeah.

John Jantsch: Let’s say I’m a person that likes to read lots of blogs, and news sources, so I’ve actually aggregated them into some sort of reader. Theoretically, could the tool, then, take that feed, and produce a lot of content from other people’s content?

Kate B. Chernis: Yes. We do that automatically, so you can add an RSS feed. Every time a new blog is posted there, it automatically generates a pile of content, just waiting for you in a holding pattern. So, whenever you come back to the platform, it’s ready for your eyeballs.

John Jantsch: Okay. I’m sure there are a lot of listeners who are thinking, oh, this is great. I can just automate everything, I’ll have hundreds of posts that I can just spray everywhere. I can also see, from my standpoint, five years ago I would have thought, yeah that’s how I’m going to get all this stuff out there.

John Jantsch: I think people, because there’s a flood of content now … How do you make that type of practice useful, today? Instead of just, yeah I can schedule this stuff for two years out, and never have to think about it, there’s no real thought of engagement. It’s just, publish content. How do you stay away from that trap, of just producing stuff that nobody actually looks at?

Kate B. Chernis: Sure. Well, a couple of ways.

Kate B. Chernis: Number one, this is not just automation, it’s AI. It’s actually compelling, relevant content. We’re researching specifically what your audience is already raising its hand, saying I want to engage with this content, and analyzing that for you. It’s high quality content, and that’s the big difference. This is where everyone’s been making the mistake, in the past.

Kate B. Chernis: More is unavoidable. We all have to do more, we want more, more, more, more, we’ve already gone down this path. The only way to be good at more is to cut through the noise with quality. Doing what I did for Walmart as a human, alone, no one could possibly do what I had done 10 years ago, now. Everything is just growing, growing, growing. You need the coupling of the AI. That distinction of the quality is an important thing.

Kate B. Chernis: Lately is not a social marketing tool, Lately is a content writing tool, an AI powered content writing tool. We focus on making marketers better writers, and we help them do that at scale.

John Jantsch: Let’s use … I’m sure you’ve seen lots of ways that people have used it very effectively.

Kate B. Chernis: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

John Jantsch: Let’s talk about a couple, and I already mentioned this. As a podcaster, I produce a transcript of this show, it produces 3000 to 5000 words per show. We do publish that, in a lot of ways, for SEO purposes. But, I could certainly see a tool like yours being able to turn around the quality bits of that, in a way that would actually help a podcaster attract more listeners. Now I’m putting words in your mouth. How would you see a podcaster effectively using this?

Kate B. Chernis: Yeah, exactly. You got the point.

Kate B. Chernis: One of the things that it touches on, whether it’s a podcaster or any other kind of use, is that the beauty of Lately is giving you, let’s just say, 50 social posts from your podcast that are all different, still point back to the link of your podcast. This is important, because …

Kate B. Chernis: There’s that old marketing adage, about winking in the dark, right? Not marketing is like winking in the dark, get it? These days, actually, the similar equivalent is marketing once or twice, meaning publishing one Twitter post, you might as well be winking in the dark. Who the heck is reading that? Never. Really? You have to publish multiple, intense, 10 or 20 a day, to hope that I’m going to see that. What are the chances, right?

Kate B. Chernis: Similarly, if you think about marketing in radio, back to radio, we used to play the same … Not saying this is good, but this is how it was. We played the same song, 300 times in one week, with the hope that you would absorb it, and listen to it, and remember it. In marketing, that used to be seven times you would have to hear, read or see an ad for you to absorb it. These days, it’s 12 to 14 times. I have to hope that you somehow see my ad 12 to 14 times, before it’s going to sink in with you.

Kate B. Chernis: Again, the only way to do that is through quantity, but then you have to have the quality as well. If I just sent you the same 40 social posts, pointing to your podcast, I’m spamming you. We hate that. If I give you 40 different access points, what we’ve found is that not only are you able to reach new and greater audiences, because different messages about your podcast resonate with different people, but even the same people will start to share your content in a greater way, because they start getting excited about it.

Kate B. Chernis: One of the ways that we found our customers are using Lately to grow their audiences, and to get that impact, is by, literally, tagging the person you’re interviewing. If you, John, were using Lately to auto-generate content from this podcast, you’re going to get all these quotes. It’s look for the most compelling quotes of what you and I are saying, because there’s some gold in here. Then, it’s going to automatically add a short link to your podcast, on the back of it, plus a hashtag, or whatever. And, you can automatically tag me, as well.

Kate B. Chernis: Here’s the beauty, is that if you publish those 40 posts, once every week, for the next 40 weeks, the chances of me retweeting your post are super high.

John Jantsch: I want to remind you that this episode is brought to you by Klaviyo. Klaviyo helps you build meaningful customer relationships, by listening and understanding queues from your customers. This allows you to easily turn that information into valuable marketing messages. There’s powerful segmentation, email auto responders that are ready to go, great reporting. If you want to learn a bit about the secret to building customer relationships, they’ve got a really fun series called, Klaviyo’s Beyond Black Friday. It’s a docu-series, a lot of fun, quick lessons. Just head on over to, Beyond Black Friday.

John Jantsch: Yeah, even if you have a smaller following, that really actually reads your Twitter posts, I think the compelling idea, here, is that you’re actually … Let’s say they catch five of them, they’re catching a story as opposed to, there’s another read my stuff.

Kate B. Chernis: Yeah, totally. We had a customer, David Allison. He wrote this amazing book called Valuegraphics, which is the death of demographics. It’s the idea of grouping people by what they value, which is brilliant.

Kate B. Chernis: He used to have a marketing team, he would pay them $3000 a month. He fired them, he purchased Lately. When he released his book on a Monday, by noon he was number one on Amazon’s Best Seller global list, and he gives Lately all the credit. That was his book, he was running the chapters through the generator.

John Jantsch: He ran the actually PDF of a document through?

Kate B. Chernis: Yeah.

John Jantsch: Yeah, that’s awesome. Awesome.

Kate B. Chernis: It’s amazing. By the way, we have customers now, who are actually optimizing their content for the generator. So, they’ve asked me, how do they write a blog so that more posts will get picked up, which is interesting. They want to game the AI, I love it.

John Jantsch: Let’s talk about another use case. I’ll give you an example.

Kate B. Chernis: Sure.

John Jantsch: This is going to be a hard one for you, but let’s say a remodeling contractor. It’s a local business, but they’re a pretty good size. They’ve got 50 employees, and do millions of dollars worth of remodels in their community. Is a tool like this something that could benefit them?

Kate B. Chernis: For a contractor? You know, I’m going to probably say no, unless they happen to be a thought leader who is producing a ton of content. If they have a website with tons of content on resources for home buyers, and the content is long form, so blogs, videos, podcasts, then they’re going to be a great candidate for us. If they don’t already have pieces in mind, what we’ve found is that …

Kate B. Chernis: It’s so interesting, John. People hate writing, marketers hate writing, which is also kind of interesting. They just don’t want to do it. There’s this strange thing, where they want to do nothing so bad, they just want to be able to push a button and be done with it, but marketing cannot ever work that way. Marketing only works when there’s an emotional connection tied to it. You like me, you buy my things, that’s the end of it. There’s some kind of liking happening, or sympathy, empathy.

Kate B. Chernis: It’s funny, because people buy QuickBooks, for example. You sit down, and you have to do some work to get QuickBooks to work for you. But, with marketing, people are like, well why can’t I just push the button and have it done? You’re like, no. There is a reason people have a degree in this.

Kate B. Chernis: That’s the way we’ve learned to filter out our customers, by the ones who understand. They have a team in place, they’ve already educated themselves to the fact that the work is part of the deal.

John Jantsch: Let’s talk about the platforms, then. Have you found that … We already mentioned Twitter, I’m going to go with Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, maybe even YouTube. You can throw anything else in there you want to, Pinterest maybe. Have you found that your tool does particularly …

John Jantsch: Well, let me ask this two ways. Do you find that your tool, the AI, does particularly well on certain platforms? Or, do you just merely find that you need to personalize for the platform?

Kate B. Chernis: Yeah. The AI will work on any platform, because the learning capabilities are the same across the board, and they’re applicable no matter where it is. It’s learning for that specific audience, of that platform.

Kate B. Chernis: But, there certainly are tweaks. You can have it create content for the different platforms, or you can say, I want to clone this thing that I made for Pinterest on LinkedIn, and that kind of thing. You have a lot of options, where the AI is letting go at that point. That’s where the human is coming in, and making those decisions.

Kate B. Chernis: For sure, LinkedIn is having a moment with the world right now. If you’re not actively doing social organic on LinkedIn, you are missing out. I can’t even believe it. This is how we got Gary V. to be our customer. Thank you, Jesus, that was a super awesome day. We’re actively pushing our customers to really enhance their LinkedIn, and to promote and publish more there.

Kate B. Chernis: Then, it’s interesting because … I heard somebody say, “Oh, Twitter is dead.” It is not dead. It’s just as mighty as before, it’s just different. Really, the SEO capability of Twitter, I feel, is as powerful as ever. It’s a little bit different in Instagram Facebook land, because that’s so image driven, and that’s not where our forte is. You can add images to Lately, for sure, but we’re focused on the writing.

Kate B. Chernis: Yeah. We’re definitely watching this across, we have data across all of our customers. We’re watching to see, even across the industries of our customers, whose having greater uptick against which channels. There is some ebb and flow, and again it relates to either photos, specifically, or like I said, just trends, like LinkedIn being a great place for organic.

Kate B. Chernis: You know, John, the other thing I should say is, one of the requests we used to get all the time, and we don’t so much anymore, is when are you going to integrate with paid advertising? Of course, organic and paid is connected. We just stuck a stake in the sand, and we stopped doing our own paid ads. We do 100% organic, all dog fooding our own product. Dog fooding, for those who don’t know, means when you use your own thing to do your own thing. We decided to put our money where our mouth is, so to speak. We’ve seen an incredible uptick in our own sales leads, and ability to generate sales.

Kate B. Chernis: We have a 50% conversion from trial to sale. The reason we do is because, by the time we pitch our leads, they’re already warm, because we only pitch leads who like, comment, and share our social. We use the social to get those people, because we’re able to do it at scale. I’m just a little company.

John Jantsch: Yeah. Let me ask you one more thing, about, say, a larger organization. Are they able to segment? In other words, they may have different product groups, or different service offerings, or different target markets all together. Have you been able to effectively allow them to meet all those objectives?

Kate B. Chernis: Yeah. One of our favorite features is called campaign tags, and it allows you to tag all of your content any way you like. This comes from my spreadsheet days.

Kate B. Chernis: Secretly, on the outside I’m a rock and roller, but on the inside I’m an organized nerd. I think that Martha Stewart and Marie Kondo are the end all, be all. I’ve been doing my underwear drawers for years, long before Marie came along. So, organizing is really big for us, and we found that it was our second most used feature, was this ability to literally tag your content and organize it.

Kate B. Chernis: So, for example, say you wanted to see all of your social posts pertaining to your Easter blog campaign, you can literally click a button, and it does that for you. It’ll even, actually, roll up every piece of content by campaign, so you can see all the social post links, images, videos, whatever you want, that went along with Volvo’s end of the year sale, for example.

John Jantsch: Awesome. So, Kate, tell people where they can find out more about Try Lately? I know that you have a trial period, I think, that they can actually kick the tires a little?

Kate B. Chernis: Yeah. We actually just 86d that in the new year, sorry. Anybody can always ask me for a favor, and I’ll probably say yes.

Kate B. Chernis: It’s The best part, John, is on Tuesdays, at 2PM Eastern, we do a free webinar. It is super duper fun, it’s open to public, where we go over some of our top features. There’s an open Zoom channel, so there’s lots of chat, there’s lots of marketing advice. Then, once a month, actually, I get on and I do a writing class, showing people exactly how to get that 70% increased engagement, by adding a little human touch to their Lately AI. It’s super fun, so I hope everyone will come.

John Jantsch: Awesome. We’ll have, obviously, links in the show notes.

John Jantsch: Kate, thanks for stopping by. I know it took us a while to get this one on the books, but I appreciate it. Hopefully, we’ll run into you next time I’m up in the Hudson Valley.

Kate B. Chernis: John, you’re cool as heck. Thank you so much, rock and roll.

Transcript of Incorporating Storytelling Into Your Sales Process

Transcript of Incorporating Storytelling Into Your Sales Process written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

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John Jantsch: This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by Gusto, modern, easy payroll benefits for small businesses across the country. And because you’re a listener, you get three months free when you run your first payroll. Find out at

John Jantsch: Hello and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing podcast. This is John Jantsch, and my guest today is John Livesay, he is also known as The Pitch Whisperer. He’s a sales expert and storytelling keynote speaker on sales, marketing, negotiation and persuasion. He’s also the author of a book we’re going to talk about today, Better Selling Through Storytelling, the essential roadmap to becoming a revenue rockstar. So John, welcome to the show.

John Livesay: Thanks for having me, John.

John Jantsch: I think a lot of marketers, even increasingly small business owners are kind of getting into this idea of story telling as a great marketing tactic. But how would you describe storytelling in the sales, purely sales environment?

John Livesay: Well, the old way of selling is to push out a bunch of information, hope some of it sticks. And it just doesn’t work anymore. So what storytelling does, is it allows you to be memorable and magnetic because we’re wired to listen to stories in a very different way than we do when someone’s giving us a bunch of information of features and things. And stories pull us in and also our defenses go down.

John Livesay: When you tell a good story of a case study and turn that into an interesting story with a little bit of drama or personal story of why you became a lawyer or an entrepreneur or an architect, whatever it is you are doing, that’s what people remember about you. And when you’re going up against competitors, if you really want to be memorable, people say, “Oh well, we hope to go last if it’s a final three, but you can’t control that. What you can control is telling a good story.”

John Jantsch: Would you say that this is sort of new to selling? That it’s not the way that maybe was taught in the traditional sales training of 10 years ago?

John Livesay: I would say it is a relatively new awareness of its importance. Traditional selling was, tell them what the features are and then tell them what the benefits are and show how it solves a problem. But there was no story there. I was working with an architecture firm and they traditionally would go in for these final three, one hour presentations, pitches, interviews, whatever you want to call it. And show their work and think, well whoever has the best design to remodel a law firm or an airport, will get the business.

John Livesay: It was all about … Or an ad agency goes in to pitch to win new clients, “Well, here’s our work.” There was just no story about them, or how they came up with the concept or another story of somebody they helped. And so this awareness that whoever tells the best story is going to get the yes, is something that a lot of people are going, “Wow, we really need to learn to become better storytellers.”

John Jantsch: This is off the topic a little bit, but in researching your work in preparation for this interview. I stumbled upon a YouTube video, of you being interviewed by Larry King. And so I’m curious how that came about. Just because I don’t think of Larry King interviewing sales authors.

John Livesay: Well, he has a show called Breakfast with Larry King. And a friend of mine is one of the elite group of people that gets to have breakfast with him on a regular basis. And one of them is named Cal Fussman who was a journalist for Esquire Magazine and Cal’s also a keynote speaker. And he had said, “I’ve got to learn how to sell myself as a speaker and I’m a journalist, I don’t know how to sell.” I said, “Oh, but Cal, you know how to tell great stories and you know how to ask great questions. So let me show you how your journalists skill of storytelling can help you sell yourself.” And that was a big light bulb moment for him. And then he said, “Oh, I want to have you on the show with Larry King.” And I did my research, as you could imagine, Larry’s done over 60,000 interviews.

John Livesay: And I read that he does not like small talk. I had some things ready to go that were about him and not about the weather or anything. And one of it was, he got his big break interviewing Frank Sinatra when he was just as a radio DJ and not a television personality. And I had mentioned to him off camera, I said, “I really love that story of you interviewing Frank Sinatra caused you to get your big break.” And he smiled and said, “That was a good night.”

John Livesay: On camera, he’s looking at my book and he said, “Your book is called Better Selling Through Storytelling, what makes a good story?” And John, I don’t know what made me have the courage to say this. I said, “Well, you have such a great story of how you got discovered by interviewing Frank Sinatra, would you mind telling that story? And then we can break down the elements of that for the audience?” And he goes, “Sure,” so he told the story and then I broke it down into the four elements of what makes a good story, which is basically exposition, painting a picture, there’s a problem and there’s a solution, and then the secret sauce is resolution. And I’m happy to share that story if you want to hear it, but that’s how that all happened.

John Jantsch: That is fun. You mentioned and maybe we can weave the story in there, but I want to also get into some of the other elements of the book. You mentioned one of favorite words, problems. It’s not really a favorite word necessarily, but I’ve discovered that a lot of times people searching for a solution don’t actually know what the problem is or can’t really articulate it. It’s just, I don’t have enough sales or my business just doesn’t feel right.

John Jantsch: And what I’ve found is that storytelling, a lot of times, or at least telling the story of how they maybe got to this point or something, a lot of times helps them actually understand the problem. And I think there’s such a strong connection, at least I’ve discovered the person who can actually describe or articulate or, you mentioned empathy, have empathy with what the real problem is. I think a lot of times has such an advantage, don’t they?

John Livesay: Well, they really do John. I always like to say that the better you describe the problem and show empathy for the people experiencing the problem, the better the potential buyer thinks you have their solution. That’s when you get that aha moment where someone says, “Oh, you get me or you are in my shoes.” And if someone isn’t able in psychotherapy when people come in for therapy, they say, “Oh, I’m here because I’m having trouble sleeping.

John Livesay: And that’s known as the presenting problem. That’s not really the core problem. The problem is they’ve got money issues or whether something else is keeping them up besides sleep problems. So I think the same is true. As salespeople, we need to think of ourselves as almost doctors a little bit, where we’re asking questions and not just accepting the first problem somebody says is the reason they’re here.

John Jantsch: Yeah, because so often they’re not ready to even hear a conversation about what we sell, because they can’t really connect their problem with our solution. I mean, isn’t that kind of a lot of the danger of just showing up and going, here’s what you need.

John Livesay: Yeah, until you realize you have a problem that needs some help, it’s the difference between Advil for a migraine versus you need a vitamin to prevent you sick. It’s like, I don’t really need an Advil, if it’s just the vitamin. But that’s what storytelling is so great at. If you describe another person that’s very similar to the person you’re in front of, and here’s what I found out. You tell the story, two years ago they came to me, they weren’t quite sure what was wrong with their business, they knew they needed more sales and the problem was just sort of hazy for them.

John Livesay: And after working with them, we define that there’s really three obstacles, and here’s what those three obstacles were and here’s the solution we came up with. And now a year after using my product or service, their life is so much better. That’s the resolution. Their sales are up 10%, they’re not stressed out, they feel better. So you’re giving all kinds of … And if that sounds like the kind of journey you’d like to go on, then we might be able to work together. Now you’re closing question is, because that sounds like the kind of journey you’d like to go on, not do you want to buy my product?

John Jantsch: You just showed me how to structure a story around a problem. What about the what’s every salesperson’s initial problem? I don’t get a chance to tell the story because I can’t get my foot in the door. Is there a way to use storytelling or, I know you talk a lot about elevator pitches for gaining trust. How do you get that kind of first chance to tell the story?

John Livesay: Well, I think a lot of it is to be aware that people have three unspoken questions before they let you come in. Or even when they’re on the phone or in person with them. And the first one is, it’s a gut thing, do I trust you? And that’s really whether it’s a fight-or-flight response came. Is it safe to talk open this email? Is it safe to even have a conversation with you? And it moves from the gut to the heart, do I like you?

John Livesay: Are you showing any empathy, likability? And then it goes into the head and you might be telling a story about how you’ve helped other people. People are thinking, “Well, would this work for me?” And if they can’t see themselves in the story, they still won’t do it. So I think getting your foot in the door, especially if you’re here to, let’s say a networking event, a good elevator pitch is not an invitation for a 10 minute monologue.

John Livesay: I tell people, make it very conversational. Literally start out with, “You know how a lot of sales teams are struggling to make themselves be memorable and not just be selling on price? Well, what I do is I help people go from invisible to irresistible and I’m called The Pitch Whisper.” And that’s all I say, and that usually intrigues people enough to say, “Huh, what’s a pitch whisper?” Or, “How do you go from invisible to irresistible?” But you described the problem of, “Oh yeah, I’m struggling with being memorable,” or “I’m struggling with only being seen as a commodity.”

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John Jantsch: We’ve all probably seen that person that just holds a whole entire dinner party wrapped with their storytelling. They just seem to be really good at it. Is there a way for … Because I’m sure there’s a whole lot of listeners out there going, “Well, I’m just terrible at it, I can’t think of a story to tell. I stumbled through the details,” or whatever they’re thinking. Is there a way to get better at it?

John Livesay: Yes, it’s like any other skill. You practice it, the awareness of what makes a good story are those four elements that I talked about earlier. Don’t just start in describing the problem. Give us some perspective, in order for us to be in the story, we have to paint the picture. And have a little bit of drama in your problem.

John Livesay: Don’t make the problem seem so easy that it’s not interesting, and there’s no conflict or it’s a suspense of whether it’s going to get solved or not. And a really great story has a little resolution bumper surprise to it that makes people go, “Oh,” and you know, you’ve told a really great story John, when other people want to share it with their friends.

John Jantsch: Do you think of readily of an example, that bumper surprise element?

John Livesay: Yes. Let’s go back to the Larry King example. So Larry King gets the opportunity to interview Frank Sinatra at a time when nobody … He wasn’t doing any press interviews because his son had just been kidnapped. This is in the 60s and he was really mad at the media because they were saying it was due to Frank Sinatra’s mafia connections. So Jackie Gleason is a friend of Larry King’s from an interview and offers to set up the interview. Goes really well and Frank brings up the kidnapping and so it was great. And then he invites him to bring a date to come here and sing the next day.

John Livesay: And Larry’s thinking, “Oh man, this is great. Whoever I bring is going to think I’m really hot stuff.” And Larry didn’t have a lot of money at the time. And they’re sitting at the front table by the stage and Frank calls his name out. And, so Larry is just like, “Oh, the evening couldn’t have gone better.” And he’s driving his date back to her place and she’s like, “Oh, stop here and buy some coffee for tomorrow morning, I don’t have any.”

John Livesay: And this is before a lot of ATMs, and credit cards were being used and Larry didn’t have any cash on him. He didn’t want to blow the whole cool guy image, so he walks into the store, comes back a few minutes, she’s like, “Where’s the coffee?” He goes, “They couldn’t change a hundred.” That’s the resolution of the story. Now, he just had the story of, “I interviewed Frank Sinatra, I got my big break.” That’s interesting, but it’s not nearly as memorable as that whole journey of the date.

John Jantsch: Yeah, so how do salespeople … I mean, how do you suggest, because again, that was a great story. Even people that have things like that, that happened in their lives sometimes don’t connect all the dots to that being great story. How do we kind of unearth those great stories? Because I think, obviously with salepeople, sometimes it’s a client thing or, but I always find the best stories or stuff that happened to us.

John Livesay: Well, I can tell you an example of I’m helping Gensler the world’s largest architecture firm, win $1 billion sale renovating the Pittsburgh Airport when they were up against two other firms and they were literally told, “Look, anybody can do … You’re all in the final three. You can all do the work. We’re going to hire the people we like the most.” And that’s when they went, “Whoa,” these soft skills actually make you strong. Soft skills of storytelling, confidence, likability, empathy.

John Livesay: The story that I helped them turn their case study, which they basically had some great before after pictures of another airport and another airline that they had helped, but there was no story there. So we use the same structure, we’d said, okay, two years ago the exposition is, JFK approached us to renovate the waiting for Jet Blue. And the problem was during that time we had to rip up all the floors in the middle of the night, and get it all done so that the stores could open at 9:00 AM the next morning without losing revenue.

John Livesay:  We had all our vendors on call during the night and sure enough at two in the morning, a fuse blew and we had somebody there in 20 minutes to fix it. And at 8:59 the last tile went down and all the stores opened. And then a year after the design, sales are up 15% of the retail stores because people are spending more time shopping because of what we’ve done with our design.

John Livesay: That is hitting all of the elements. The exposition, we know what airline, when all of that. So we’re there, we see it, then we know the problem. Got to rip up all the floors, there’s a little bit of drama. And so instead of just saying, “We used critical thinking when we do a project.” They showed it in a story instead of telling it. And then the solution is the store is open on time, but the resolution of that story is sales are up 15% because of the design a year later.

John Jantsch: Yeah, the value. All right, so I’m telling the story and it’s going really well. I’ve got a great story, but then the objections come. And maybe it’s a different skill, but it’s going to happen. How do we link the story together with maybe the objections?

John Livesay: The two most common objections are, we don’t have enough money or, this isn’t a good time for us to make a decision, correct? So your question is, how can storytelling help overcome one of those kinds of objections?

John Jantsch: Yeah, maybe. Because I’m thinking people get good at this story part, and it paints a good picture, but there’s still quite often in the sales process going to be objectives. And that’s my objections, I’m sorry.

John Livesay: Let’s take the most common one, which is your price is too high. And we can use a story along with the concept of, our client Jet Blue or JFK, when we gave them the bid, they felt that, “Gosh, this is more expensive than we thought.” And we explained to them that when we did another airport in Toronto, that the reason that we needed to have this budget higher than expected. And then they just went on to tell another story, where they describe a problem and a solution and they were so glad they had that money budgeted, so that they didn’t have to go fixing something in advance is much less expensive than having to fix something that you didn’t even plan possibly going wrong.

John Livesay: That sometimes money you invest in things prevent problems now, and all that good stuff. So again, storytelling is a way to handle objections. You just say, you don’t make them feel crazy for bringing up the question. First of all, you listen and you look at it as a buying sign and then you say, “Let me tell you a story of somebody else who felt the same way, and here’s how they ended up justifying the cost or where they found the money or whatever it is.”

John Jantsch: I’ve always been a big fan of case studies. Showing somebody, “Oh yeah, your kind of business, here’s a result we got for them.” I mean in a lot of ways, couldn’t you use this idea of storytelling more effectively in written documents and webpages as well?

John Livesay: Yes, I think you can certainly with … You don’t have the opportunity to present your case studies in person or on the phone. Make sure that the case studies you have on your website use the same story telling structure just went over so that people are taken on a journey and that’s not just a bunch of before and after pictures with no story.

Speaker 2: Right, which is the typical sort of, here’s the problem, here’s the solution. Do you think in terms of companies equipping their salespeople or just a salesperson going out there and training themselves. Do they need to be looking for new skills, different skills?

John Livesay: I think we’re always needing to keep our skills honed and practiced. And when you get to the place where you think you know everything and you don’t need to practice anymore, is when you really are not at your best. If Tiger Woods still gets coaching and actors who’ve won Academy awards still rehearse, we as salespeople definitely need to keep practicing.

John Jantsch: I’m assuming you do consulting on this very idea because you’ve talked about a couple examples of that. Do you have a process when you walk in? Do you have to start unpacking, finding, unearthing these stories and then say, “Yeah, that’s something that you guys ought to be using.” What’s your process for finding those with a company?

John Livesay: Well, if I’m helping a company prepare for this one hour interview against competitors, the process is, we reverse engineer the ending of the presentation. So many endings are, “Well that’s all we got, any questions?” Horrible ending. We work on, what do you want the audience of the [inaudible] buyers to think, what do you want them to feel and what do you want them to do? We develop answers for that and that’ll be our closing. And then I said, “Okay, what’s going to be the opening?” “Oh, thanks for this opportunity, I’m excited to be here.”

John Livesay: Ugh, nobody cares that you’re excited. It’s not about you. Let’s make sure that the opening pulls in our understanding of the problem and why we’re the right people to solve it. And then we look at the team slide, make sure there’s some really interesting stories about why you became an architect or a lawyer or whatever it is you’re doing as opposed to, “Hi, my name is Joe, I’ve been here 10 years.” Nobody cares.

John Livesay: But when I was 11, I played with Legos and that’s what inspired me to become an architect. Now I have a son who’s 11, I still play with Legos and I would bring that passion to this job. Well that’s personal, memorable, all that. And then I work with, as we said, the case studies, turning those case studies into stories. That’s my process, that helps people win because, the problem remember again, is they’re not memorable, stories making memorable and instead of pushing out information, stories make you magnetic that you pull people in.

John Jantsch: Yeah, the process you just described doesn’t sound terribly unlike, you might prepare a keynote speech does it?

John Livesay: It’s very similar, and people have to realize you’ve got to practice it and has structure and there’s pauses and timing. Once we have the content down, then we start working on the delivery.

John Jantsch: Speaking with John Livesay, author of Better Selling Through Storytelling. So John, you want to tell people where they can find more information on you and of course, pick up a copy of the book.

John Livesay: Right? If you text the word pitch, P-I-T-C-H, to six, six, eight, six, six, I will send you a free sneak peek of the book. Or you can go to my website, John Livesay, L-I-V-E-S-A-Y. Or if you can’t remember any of that, just Google The Pitch Whisper and my content will come up.

John Jantsch: Awesome. Well, John, it was great to finally getting this recorded and hopefully we’ll run into you soon, out there on the road.

John Livesay: Thanks John.

Transcript of What Megatrends Will Shape Your Business?

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John Jantsch: Hello welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch. My guest today is Rohit Bhargava. He is an innovation and marketing expert and the founder of the Non-Obvious Company which has spawned a number of books under that title, including the one we’re going to talk about today. Non-Obvious Megatrends: How to See What Others Miss and Predict the Future. So Rohit, welcome.

Rohit Bhargava: Thank you. I love talking to you. It’s always a pleasure.

John Jantsch: This is probably your third maybe appearance on the show.

Rohit Bhargava: Yeah. Let’s go with that. Let’s go with that. That sounds good.

John Jantsch: So give me a little background on the Non-Obvious story. I hinted that this was, it’s book number 10 in that whole series. So maybe give listeners a little background on where that came from?

Rohit Bhargava: Yeah. It’s been kind of 10 years of my life, really. So that past 10 years I’ve done something that I think you as a fellow author will appreciate as completely crazy and stupid. Which is I take the same book and I rewrite it every year with brand new trends and brand new updates. And so typically, I just have a year long horizon where that book kind of reflects the trends of the year, and then I move on and I do a new version of it. And this year it’s been the 10th year. And so we’re doing something really special. And by the way, it’s the last year that I’m doing it too. So it’s kind of my moment to walk away on top hopefully.

Rohit Bhargava: But it also has given me a chance to look backwards over the last 10 years and say, look, what are the big themes that have changed the way that we think and the way that we do business and what do we need to think about in order to survive in the future, both as consumers and also as business owners. What do we need to know about the trends in a practical way, not an academic way to say, Oh, this is what’s going to happen like 50 years from now and we may or may not be alive to see it. But like, how are these Megatrends that are going to change the next decade actually changing life right now and what do we need to do about them?

John Jantsch: I remember one of the first business books I remember reading was a book called Megatrends by a John Naisbitt. Are you familiar with the theme?

Rohit Bhargava: Yeah, of course. Yeah. In fact, I write about it and it’s a fantastic book and it’s funny because I mean, not only has that book and his work been a great inspiration for me, but I learned years after I first read it that he and I actually have the same birthday. And he’s still around. He’s in his nineties now and he’s still around.

John Jantsch: Wow. Wow. Wow. I’ve always, and you see this time of year we’re recording this in the first part of January of 2020 that’s really popular for people to do the trends. Blog posts. And it’s funny because sometimes I feel like there’s this… It’s like, well we’ve got to name something a trend.

Rohit Bhargava: There is. Yes.

John Jantsch: Some of it’s may be prolific, some of it’s kind of dumb. Did you ever feel in the writing of like the next book that, well, I said, “X, Y, Z was a trend last year, so I can’t use that.” And it’s like, “Okay, I got to come up with something.” I mean, did you ever feel pressure or was it obvious to you what the thing, [crosstalk 00:03:38].

Rohit Bhargava: It’s a good question. I mean, I think the way I would answer that is the process that I use every year is, I really spend a lot of time throughout the entire year gathering stories and potential ideas for trends. And part of my process, and I have a couple of kind of viral time-lapse videos out there that kind of show what this looks like, where I’m moving paper around and using post it notes and stuff. But like a big part of that process is narrowing down lots and lots of potential ideas to what are the actual trends and what are the pieces of these things.

Rohit Bhargava: So usually what ends up happening as I go through that process is I end up with maybe 60 or 70 potential trends and I then have to take that, narrow it down to like 30 and then have to narrow it down again to like 15. And what I’ve been doing for the past couple of years before this year is I’ve been writing 10 new trends every year and I’ve been bringing back five previous trends because they hadn’t really, I mean, they evolved, but they hadn’t really gone away.

John Jantsch: And I was going to actually ask you that because you’ve got this 10 year history. Are there some trends that you identified that you said, “Oh no, the stars are all aligned, it’s going to happen.” And it just didn’t happen. It didn’t really materialize. So that’s part A and then I’ll ask part B, are there some that you’re absolutely sure they’re going to happen, it’s still coming, it just hasn’t happened rapidly. For example, we were writing about mobile marketing for about 10 years before it actually became something that kind of thing. I mean it was obvious it was coming, but it’s just, you can’t control the speed at which people, the behavior changes so to speak. So were there any that just you bombed kind of in a way and then are there’s some that you’re just absolutely sure if they just haven’t happened.

Rohit Bhargava: So the point of your question, which is are there hits and are there misses? Yes, there are hits and misses. But I want to just kind of share what it means to me to call something a trend in the first place. Because to me, if I call something a trend that’s not a prediction of something that could happen. Because it wouldn’t be called a trend in the way that I think about trends unless it was already happening. So the prediction is that this thing that only a few people are being affected by or only a small group people are paying attention to is going to be much, much bigger. And that’s the prediction, right? And so in that context, what I’m trying to predict is that this is going to take off and you better be paying attention to it because if you’re not somebody who’s going to start eating your lunch. And in that context, yes, some of them do better than others, like some of them accelerate faster than others do.

Rohit Bhargava: And there have been times in the past where I’ve looked at something and said, “Oh, this is going to take off.” And it hasn’t really taken off. Now, that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t a trend in or taking off at the time when I wrote it, but over time it didn’t actually happen. And so what I tried to do as I thought about this, as I said, look, if I’m going to do this in an authentic way, in a non futurist way, right? Because I often joke that like if you ask a futurist if they were right about the future or wrong, they usually will only give you one of two answers. They’ll say either yes I was right or not yet, I was before my time. Right? Which is sort of a cheating, right? If you think of [crosstalk 00:06:54]. And I didn’t want to do that.

Rohit Bhargava: I wanted to be more authentic with it. And so at the end of every edition of the book, every year, there’s a full appendix with letter grade next to each one of the trends and how they performed over time. Because what I want to try and demonstrate to people as A, I’m not afraid to be wrong or at least less correct, right? And B, I want to put that out there because the more I put it out there and say, “Look, this is what actually took place and this is what didn’t.” Based on conversations we had, the more authenticity there is in the entire project.

John Jantsch: All right, so I’m going to push you one more time on this. Are there any that you feel like you identified, nobody else was talking about it. In fact, some people maybe even said, “Oh, that’s silly or.” That you kind of nailed it. Were you like, “Hey, I’m proud of this. Nobody else saw this coming. I did.”

Rohit Bhargava: I think that some of the writing I was doing early on that related to curation and specifically content and content marketing. Everyone at that time when I wrote about curation was saying, “Oh, it’s all about content marketing. Everyone has to be a creator.” And the problem with that is that there were a lot of marketing people in marketing roles where someone was telling them, “Okay, now you need to start blogging. You need to start with creating video. You need to start doing all this stuff.” And they weren’t good at it. And nobody gave them any training on it. And even if you give somebody training on being able to produce a video that doesn’t mean they’re going to be good at it, right? Because not everybody gets into marketing wanting to be a videographer.

John Jantsch: And many of them ended up hating it, that’s for sure.

Rohit Bhargava: And they hate it. And then that comes through in the work, right? I mean, if you were forced to do something in marketing that you hate, you’re not going to do great with it. Right? And so what ended up happening is you had all these creators and all this creation and people said, “Create, create, create, create.” And what happened? What happened was there was so much stuff out there that it all became noise. And now all of a sudden what became valuable was the few people who had expertise who said, “Look, this is what you should read this, this, this, and this.” And curation became much more important. And I was talking about that super early and I was starting to do that because that was just part of my process for how I was thinking about these trends. And now it’s a full blown thing. I mean that’s what we’re looking for. We’re looking for, I mean half of the articles that go viral are, 10 speakers that you have to have at your next event. Right? Like that’s not creation, that’s just curation of something that’s out there.

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John Jantsch: So one of the things I really enjoy about this particular version, and it may have come up in the other ones as well, but you really spend a lot of time talking about your process. And in a way that sort of potentially trains somebody else to think this way. Would you agree that a great deal of your success comes from a point of view about what you’re looking at?

Rohit Bhargava: Absolutely. And I think that if there is a big mission behind this book, it’s not to tell you what the trends are, even the Megatrends are. The bigger mission of this book is to teach you to see things that other people don’t see. And to be more open minded honestly. I mean, I think that the world needs more people to read things they don’t agree with. It needs more people to think for themselves instead of thinking based on what someone’s told you to think. And if I can try and give people a way of doing that, that isn’t work. Right? Because nobody wants homework. Nobody wants someone who isn’t even their teacher to assign them homework much less than their teacher. Right? But people do want to be more interesting. And that’s really what I’ve kind of landed on. It’s not about being more academic or studying, it’s about being more interesting as a person.

Rohit Bhargava: And you look, I love the advice and I consider myself a pretty good listener. And I love the advice of be more interested. Right? Instead of focusing on yourself. But like at some point we all do want to be more interesting and I think that’s okay. And I want to lean into that and say, look, if I can share more stories with you, more interesting things that basically elicit a response of, “Oh, I didn’t know that. That’s good.” That makes me happy.

John Jantsch: And ultimately I think makes you more valuable to whatever network you’re in.

Rohit Bhargava: Yeah. And I really do… Look, if you write a book called Non-Obvious, you’re kind of putting it out there that you’re going to share something that people haven’t heard. And you’re sort of making this bold promise, right? I mean, it’s like walking up before the game and saying, I’m about to throw four touchdowns just watch me. Right? Now, it’s going to be that much harder to throw those touchdowns, but if you can deliver, people are like, “Well, you said you were going to do it and you did it.”

John Jantsch: What do you think in, in hindsight, what do you do differently because of this work?

Rohit Bhargava: The biggest thing is I think that I don’t dismiss people who don’t think the way I do as being stupid. that’s the biggest thing. I think the other thing that I do because of this work is I don’t consider myself to be in any one industry. I’m not an industry expert. I’m in every industry expert. And that sounds probably egotistical to say. But when you come from the world that I came from, which was marketing agencies where you’re dealing with different clients and different industries every day. I was never part of a vertical group within an industry except for a short amount of time in my career. Otherwise I was working on pitches for all sorts of different things. I was working on B2C and B2B. I was working on small businesses, medium businesses, big businesses. Now I’m a small business owner and I’m used to working with large corporations.

Rohit Bhargava: So like I’ve seen a lot of different companies in a lot of different things. And the perspective that that offers me is amazing. I mean, I’m really happy with that. I can go to any party, any networking event in any industry and I’ll have something that I can talk about with someone with their industry. I don’t need to make it about me.

John Jantsch: That really leads to a great next point. If I’m reading this book, how would you suggest that, let’s say I’m a business owner or CEO or whatever my role is, how would you suggest that somebody profit from the ideas of this book?

Rohit Bhargava: Profit is big because I mean, first of all, we all want profit, right? And I think that there is profit to be had. I mean, there’s one definition from a famous writer of a trend book, Martin Raymond, I believe it was his name who said that trends are profits waiting to happen. And I think that’s a great way of thinking about putting your finger on the future. So the way I would suggest that they could profit from this is first of all by creating almost a stop doing list for themselves. Because a lot of times what happens particularly with small business owners is we don’t generate as much profit as we could because we hold ourselves back. We do the same things we’ve always done because they work. And they work medium well, but not amazingly well. But we don’t want to kill the medium well, and so we keep doing it. And that’s the inertia of kind of doing that same thing and being stuck in it. And so the biggest profit engine I think is for you to stop holding yourself back.

John Jantsch: Because I could, cause I think you could put the flip side of that if you want to take a negative to that, is that some of these trends are threats, aren’t they?

Rohit Bhargava: They certainly can be. I mean some of them, Oh look they’re, they’re double-edged in many ways, right? I mean I write about instant knowledge as one trend for example. And I know we’ll get into them, but you know, instant knowledge is a great example because A, like the positive side is we have everything in our fingertips, right? We can learn how to do anything by watching a YouTube video. The downside is like that’s all we know how to do exactly how to do it. The way like imagine you wanted to like get the pomegranate seeds out of a pomegranate, right? You watch a YouTube video of the guy kind of slapping the back of the pomegranate with a wooden spoon and now you think, well that’s the way to get the pomegranate seeds out and that’s the only way. And that’s kind of where we are now. Like you watch that one thing and you think well that’s the way to do it because that’s what I saw. That’s what I know.

John Jantsch: Yeah. I have a much better way of doing that by the way.

Rohit Bhargava: I everybody does, right? I mean it’s a funny one. Because you lose a lot of the juice. Like it’s fun. I mean I’m a drummer so you know that whole whacking the pomegranate is like it’s a natural thing for me. But even then like and plus it hurts when you whack your finger by accident, that’s the worst.

John Jantsch: So you’ve identified it’s 10, right? Yeah, 10 trend.

Rohit Bhargava: 10 Megatrends.

John Jantsch: 10 Megatrends. And they all have one and two word clever names, which in some cases doesn’t really reveal what it’s about. It’s a rather because I want people to buy the book. I think people should buy the book, Non-Obvious Megatrends. But I thought I would ask you rather than go through the list and give me like one minute on each. I wonder if you might pick one that maybe you’re particularly fond of or you think is particularly relevant for a Duct Tape Marketing audience and maybe just kind of unpack it.

Rohit Bhargava: Sure. Yeah. And you’re right, I mean, I spend a lot of time naming slash branding the trends. And I know you appreciate that. I mean, you’re a branding guy. You have a powerful brand yourself, right? That’s been around for a long time. And people get it. I mean, they know what Duct Tape Marketing is. So like brands matter because they stick in people’s minds. One of the trends that I thought turned out really well in the description and the research of it was a trend that I called revivalism. And revivalism was sort of a description of this thing that has started happening where we live in a world where we just don’t know what to trust. And so we’re more and more skeptical in our response because of that skepticism is to turn the clock backwards and to start going back to the things we used to trust when we were younger.

Rohit Bhargava: So we’re starting to listen to music on vinyl again, we’re playing classic video games, we’re going back to board games, right? Like all of these things are signs of something happening in our culture. And that’s really what I think a trend should describe. Something that’s happening in our culture and how are we going like backwards in time in order to recapture that. And so revivalism was all about that. And so the implication of that, because each one of these trends, like it’s not enough to have the trend itself. I feel like there’s got to be some actionable things you can do as result. And so for revivalism, one of the big things I talked about, and this is particularly relevant, I think for small business owners and especially for marketers, is what’s the downgraded option? What’s the version of what you offer that you might have considered a downgrade, but actually in retrospect might be an upgrade, right?

Rohit Bhargava: It might be actually better. So for example, my phone, I have a Samsung phone, I’m not an Apple guy. And my phone, when it has 5% battery life, I can switch to what Samsung calls ultra low power mode. And ultra low power mode basically turns off all my, like internet services turns off most of my apps, it makes my screen like two colors and that’s it. But my phone works, my texting works, and the basic stuff that I need works in my 5% left is going to last me another six hours. That’s a trade off I’m willing to make any time because it means that my phone is going to last for longer. Right? So that’s an example, right? Of us taking the clock backwards, because you probably remember the time, I certainly remember the time where we had cell phones where the battery power lasts for six days. Because it was just a phone.

John Jantsch: Yeah, yeah, yeah. The idea of charging it was a very much an afterthought.

Rohit Bhargava: Exactly. yeah.

John Jantsch: All right. Let me ask you this, and revivalism is a great one to apply this idea to. Do these repeat, I mean if you asked somebody 75 years ago, were they talking about revivalism or you know, whatever amount of time. Do these… Some of them are obviously enabled by technology and things like that, but I wonder if the concepts actually come back into culture, just on almost on a regular rhythm.

Rohit Bhargava: That’s an interesting question. I do think that there is probably a cycle to some of these. And I think that it’s echoed in the same cycle that you tend to see between government and corporations for example, right? I mean in a world where government is too powerful, people generally say, “Oh, we need the companies and the independent organizations to have more power.” And then when the corporations get too powerful, people are like, “Oh, wait a second. We need the government to actually be able to step in and balance that out.” Because the corporations have too much power. Right? So our culture does tend to move in these sort of pendulum shifts I think. As every culture does. So yeah, I think the answer to your question is there probably is a cyclical nature to some of these.

John Jantsch: So [inaudible] you tell people where they can, and the beauty is because you have this whole body of work, I mean, somebody could get the entire collection, they could get just the Megatrends, they could get… They could plug in a lot of places. But again, I really think that, if I were going to advise somebody, I think the trends are… At this point they’re early interesting. They really give you something to think about. But I personally enjoyed the part where you’re really teaching how to think about these trends or how to spot them yourselves. And so I would encourage people to get the book for that lesson, if nothing else. And then you get the trends on top of that. Maybe that’s not the way you want to book positioned, but that’s how I read.

Rohit Bhargava: No, that’s exactly how I would position it. Because look, at the end of the day, I’m an educator, right? I mean, I teach, and that’s kind of the background that I came from. And really that’s what I want. I mean, I’m not the sort of person that says, “Oh, you want to know what the trends are? Pay me a lot of money and I’ll tell you, right?” That’s not really my business like model. What I’d much rather do is be the force of education, the force of inspiration to try and challenge people to say, “Look, you can do better, you can think in more non-obvious ways.” And by the way, the world needs you to do that. Like we all need you to do that. We need you to put that into the world. So that’s the message. So the book should be pretty easy to find. It’s in booksellers everywhere.

Rohit Bhargava: It should be in the airports as well. If you want to go online and check out a free excerpt of the book and a bunch of other resources, including a time lapse video of me doing this crazy thing where I’m moving all of the papers around and stuff. You can see that at And you can also buy… You mentioned the full set. You can also pick up a full set of a signed copies of all of the books. They look really nice on a bookshelf together because they’re all different colors.

John Jantsch: You’re going to be like the Beatles, the box.

Rohit Bhargava: Hey, I’ll take that comparison any day.

John Jantsch: It was great catching up with you. Hopefully we’ll run into you soon out there on the road or next time I’m in DC.

Rohit Bhargava: I’m sure we will. Thank you.

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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 Tim Staples. He is the CEO of Shareability and the coauthor of a book we’re going to talk about today, Break Through the Noise: The 9 Rules to Capture Global Attention. So Tim, welcome to the show.

Tim Staples: Hey John, how are you doing, man?

John Jantsch: I’m awesome. I guess the first thing we ought to define is, what are you calling noise, that we’d need to break through?

Tim Staples: Yeah, so the way I think about this book is that, 30 years ago, when you looked at communicating a message, most of the megaphones of society were owned by big corporations. So it was your movie studios or your television networks or your radio stations. So if you wanted to become famous, as an individual, or if you wanted to get a message out, as a brand, it was either really difficult or really expensive. And so as times evolved and the internet happened, everything changed. And we effectively now have with the smartphone, we basically have a movie, a studio, in our pocket.

John Jantsch: Right.

Tim Staples: Right? And so now everybody can broadcast to the world. And so we live in kind of this age where everybody’s trying to get YouTube famous and people are broadcasting from their mother’s basement. But what it means is that, in 2019 the good news is that everybody has a megaphone. The bad news is that everybody has a megaphone and they’re shouting into it all day long, every day, to the point that most people have tuned almost all of it out. And so when I talk about break through the noise, it’s how do you crash through those millions of messages and commercials and people trying to come at you all day long and actually get your message heard and out into the audience?

John Jantsch: Well, and I think sometimes people hear that breaking through and crashing through and all that means is, turn up the volume, do something more viral, forget about the fact that it has any value to the brand, you’ve just got to get noticed. And I’m wondering if we’re kind of over that, too?

Tim Staples: Yeah, we are. Yeah. I always talk about the idea that virality. And my firm, we’ve done a lot of big viral hits, so we get asked a lot to go make things viral, which is a tough thing to be asked, repeatedly. But I think we’ve kind of moved out of the age of morality, in practical terms, and we moved into what I think is the age of share-ability. And for me that’s about how do you be shareable and, specifically, how are you worthy of a share?

John Jantsch: Yeah. And is there a formula for that? Can you look at something and say, well we’ve got to build this and then it’s got to do this and then its got to do that and that’ll make people share it. Is it that simple or is it…?

Tim Staples: Yeah. The thing that we always talk about, and the way I start my book is with a simple statement, which is that, nobody cares. And it’s basically this mindset of a default position, where just because you’re doing something that’s interesting to you, don’t assume that anyone else in the world is going to care. Right? And so I think that that’s the default mindset. It’s like, okay, now how do I actually create something that people are going to care about?

Tim Staples: Well there’s a number of things and they’re concepts I think are very consistent with a lot of things that you talk about. But the first one is real simple, it’s focused on value, right? How do I think about, okay, I want to reach this particular audience, instead of focusing on me and trying to project that out to them, how do I think about it, what they want, and then find a unique way to give it to them? Right? Which is a really simple concept, but I think one that most people miss is, what does the audience wants and how do I give that to them, in my own unique voice that will be valuable?

John Jantsch: Well, and I think a lot of the challenges is because we’re wired to think, how do I get them to buy? Or how I get them to like me? How do I get them to share? And sometimes that runs counter to what would be valuable to them.

Tim Staples: Yeah. We do a lot of work with big brands and they’re so hardwired to sell, sell, sell, first. I feel like the last 30 years has been about an advertising approach for brands where they literally beat their chest and try to project their message onto an audience, that may or may not want it. And what we’ve seen is, when you just start with value and value can be a lot of things, right? It could be education, it could be entertainment. It could be empathy. There’s a lot of different ways where you can provide value to an audience. If you take that first step and give them value first, you completely change your relationship. If you try to sell, they’re on their heels, they’re leaning back, they’re moving away from you. If you give them value, now they’re leaning forward and they want to learn more about you. And so you’ve now started a relationship that you can actually move towards a sale, instead of trying to start with a sale.

John Jantsch: I know in my own experience, and I’m sure that different people like different things, I know that I’m expecting X and I get Y, it surprises me. I know those are the things that I remember the most and I’m probably more likely to tell somebody about. Is that one of the, sort of, formulaic aspects of how you get somebody to pay attention?

Tim Staples: Yeah. So we’ve actually done a lot of research on the science side of how the human brain works. And it’s funny, it’s very consistent. Not even amongst the age groups but also across regions around the world. And we’ve identified these emotions that provoke people to share. And we’re human beings, right? We’re very emotional creatures. And the emotional piece of it is just something that’s completely lost in kind of the old school advertising. And it’s, like, okay, how am I going to connect with something and feel something? And then if I feel something, then I’ll be part of that conversation and be leaning forward. And so there’s actually five emotions that we’ve identified. They’re all positive emotions that we’ve found are the most effective, at least for us, to get people to lean forward and share. And so, I can walk you through those.

John Jantsch: Yeah. Do it. Do it.

Tim Staples: Yeah, so the first emotion is happiness, right? And I think we live in a world right now where everybody would agree that there’s a lot of polarization and people are split apart and there’s a lot of negativity on the internet, or at least it feels that way. And so giving people a smile during their day, even just a little smile as they’re going through social media or going across their phone in a break from a meeting, has a really, really powerful concept. So the first principle is happiness or joy.

Tim Staples: The second principle is, we call awe. So awe is a feeling of respect where you just go, Oh wow, that’s something I haven’t seen before. So it could be something that is, you’re literally watching a guy from the moon that you haven’t seen before. Or it could be someone doing an act of a good Samaritan act, that just makes you lean forward and go, wow, what a cool thing that they did for somebody. Completely unexpected and it kind of warmed my heart. And that’s what we mean by awe.

Tim Staples: The third emotion is called curiosity. So this is all about learning things about the world that you hadn’t seen before or you didn’t know. And there’s a lot of kind of educational content that it doesn’t feel like education, where you can provide a lot of value to the audience. The fourth emotion is empathy. And sympathy is feeling bad for somebody, but empathy is actually putting yourself in their shoes and having that shared connection. And that can be really, really powerful.

Tim Staples: And then the last emotion is surprise. And it’s basically giving something that they didn’t expect, in an unique way. And so those are the five emotions. There’s plenty more, John. Anger is a really powerful emotion but probably doesn’t fit most brands, right? Or sadness is a powerful emotion, but it shuts you down. You don’t want to share something that’s sad, right? Because you’ll make your friends sad. So, there are difference of emotions, but we find these to be the most positive, proactive emotions, when we’re creating content.

John Jantsch: So is there a risk in somebody saying, Oh, okay, I need to make people smile so I’ll do something that stops them, makes them smile. But maybe it doesn’t really have anything to do with our brand. Is there a risk in that or is there still value in that, because they associate that smile with, Hey look, who brought me a smile?

Tim Staples: So, we work with a division of AT&T called Cricket Wireless. And basically the wireless space, everybody hates their wireless provider, right?

John Jantsch: Right.

Tim Staples: And pretty much all of them are pretty much the same. Right? So the idea that one, if you’re on Verizon or AT&T or T-mobile or whoever asks you to be your provider, you kind of get the same experience, for the most part, right? And most times people have a negative experience. That’s what all the research says.

John Jantsch: Yep.

Tim Staples: So, you can try to just knock down your price or project a message. What Cricket says is, Hey, if we could just make people smile, just take a moment of their day and smile. That that’s going to have a big impact on our business, right? So we created this whole campaign. It was just called Something to Smile About and it’s literally having 14 or 15 different video campaigns where the whole premise, nothing to do with phones, nothing to do with cell plans or promotions.

Tim Staples: It’s all just instances where we’re taking real people and we’re making a smile through [inaudible] surprise and all on joy and these emotions, empathy. And it’s completely transformed their business. And it’s all because that little thing that seems like it shouldn’t be a big deal, is a massive deal when you compare it to what other brands are doing in that category out in the world, right where they’re trying to sell you. Now this brand has given me a smile. Whoa, why are they doing that? Now you’re leaning forward. Now you’re connecting with them in a different way than you otherwise would. Now you’re open to hearing more about their products and services. Now, you’re open to actually being a customer. And it’s all human emotion, but we found it to be very profound.

John Jantsch: Yeah. And it’s interesting, it’s probably heightened by the fact that they’re running counter, in a way, to how the people perceive the competitors. Right? I mean there’s a little bit of that-

Tim Staples: Exactly, right. And I think that’s why… I mentioned that space, it’s really tough, right? Because the people expect perfection from their cell phone provider, right? And you’re never going to be able to achieve that. So there’s always going to be some level of friction there and everybody’s going one way and you go the other, right?

John Jantsch: Right. Yeah. Well Sprint’s actually, have you noticed Sprint’s actually running ads talking about how bad all the other ads are. That everybody’s saying, they’re the best and they’re this and they’re that. And so it’s like they’ve-

Tim Staples: Yeah. One of the concepts of the book is called flip the script, which is exactly what you’re saying, which is when everybody goes one way, you go the exact opposite.

John Jantsch: Yeah. I’m not sure it’s working though. But anyway, that’s another story. I want to remind you that this episode is brought to you by Klaviyo. Klaviyo helps you build meaningful customer relationships by listening and understanding cues from your customers. And this allows you to easily turn that information into valuable marketing messages. There’s powerful segmentation email autoresponders that are ready to go. Great reporting. If you want to learn a little bit about the secret to building customer relationships, they’ve got a really fun series called, Klaviyo’s Beyond Black Friday. It’s a docuseries, a lot of fun, quick lessons. Just head on over to, Beyond Black Friday.

John Jantsch: So if I came to you and I said, okay, or we’re sitting around the boardroom trying to say, how do we break through the noise? Is there kind of a process to start analyzing where your opportunities are?

Tim Staples: Yeah, I think, the process starts with what’s shareable about me, as a person or a brand? Where can I provide a unique point of value? And so, I don’t know if it’s easier to go through a real life example, but I think, what would be example of a small business that we could talk about?

John Jantsch: Oh, you just mean category wise or something?

Tim Staples: Yeah.

John Jantsch: Yeah. So let’s go with a real true small business. Let’s talk about a remodeling contractor.

Tim Staples: Okay. A remodeling contractor and, I don’t know that space well, but I assume that most of them, on paper, look pretty much the same?

John Jantsch: Yeah. I think people would assume that, that a lot of times the conversation starts with, let’s have somebody come out and tell us what it would cost to do this project or whatever. And some are probably more professional than others, but I think the perception is, Hey, they all just drive in nails, right?

Tim Staples: Yeah. Yeah. And then it becomes a, hey, who’s credible enough to be invited to my home and then what’s the price?

John Jantsch: Exactly.

Tim Staples: Right? And it’s similar to the wireless space, right? It’s going to be heavily price-driven and about who’s in kind of your network to go, actually need. So the way we would think about it is, okay, who’s our audience? Who’s going to buy from us, in this case? It’s going to be homeowners, right?

John Jantsch: Right. Homeowners for sure. Probably somebody who’s going to stay put in their home, probably a little… the neighborhood can take a $50,000 kitchen, that kind of demographic.

Tim Staples: That’s right. So it’s slightly upscale, right?

John Jantsch: Right.

Tim Staples: And so then think about that audience and say, okay, if I was in their position, what would I want from a home remodeler? Right? And in terms of the content, and I’ve heard you talk about how strategy and content are really intermixed.

John Jantsch: Yep.

Tim Staples: Right? And they’re really the same thing. So let’s think about what would be of value to that homeowner, in the suburbs, that’s above average, from a wealth perspective. So, okay. What if we started creating content that was all about how to create more cost effective and more effective remodels of your kitchen, right? And we took you through examples and maybe we created content around what goes wrong with home remodelers or how home remodelers overcharge you or how to think about budgeting for a home remodel.

Tim Staples: And it was all a lot of trade secrets or specific content or educational content that would be really valuable to the audiences, that were maybe remodeling their kitchen. And a lot of people say, well, why would you give that away for free? Why would you spend that time and that resource? And I think, that’s where we say the exact opposite, it’s like, why wouldn’t you provide that value to the customer? So now when they’re searching online and they’re saying, Hey, I need to remodel my home, what are my look outs? What am I trying to accomplish? How do I stay on time and on budget? Now I see your video, where you’re walking me through, with really valuable educational advice and you’re satisfying my curiosity emotion, right? And now you’re building trust with me and now I’m starting to have a relationship with you. And because I’ve gotten value from you, now, when I want to go bid on a house, who’s going to be my first call?

John Jantsch: Yeah. And I think that’s one of the… Anybody who has remodeled, it’s bad. It’s not a good experience. You’re going to be living out of boxes, you’re going to plug your refrigerator in the basement, for a while. So everybody realizes it’s going to be a bad experience, it’s just inherent. So I’m sure there’s an aspect of actually playing up the experience, what they do to make it not such a bad experience, would probably be a great part of that, as well.

Tim Staples: 100%. Yeah. Though it feels like a trust category, for sure. Any category where there’s a lack of trust. I think if you can go the other way and build positive emotions, just like in the wireless space, I think it can be really powerful.

John Jantsch: So, one of the things that I’m sure that you, especially as an agency, find is that, once something starts working, it seems like everybody does it.

Tim Staples: Yeah.

John Jantsch: And so, are you constantly having to sort of zig and say, Hey, this worked this month, but it’s probably over now? Because you see that all the time on Instagram, on social networks, even in ads, it feels like the copycat syndrome is real.

Tim Staples: Yeah. And then you combine that with the way that the platforms like Facebook and YouTube are evolving and their algorithm changes and becomes more favorable for brands in the beginning and then it becomes less favorable as they monetize it more.

Tim Staples: And so, one of the things my partner and I said, kind of from day one when we started this company is, every day is a new day in terms of evolution. And just having that mindset that, no matter what we’re doing today, it’s going to be different tomorrow. And that you’re always going to be learning and you’re always going to be behind the curve, in some regard, because it’s happening so fast and the speed of change is just so rapid.

Tim Staples: I think it’s just a mindset. And I think if you can have a mindset of, whatever it is, however deep you’re into social media or not, or digital and just say, Hey, how do I go to school on it? How do I learn? How do I do research? And just continually get smarter about what’s going on in the space and always kind of challenge yourself to say, Hey, what we did today is not going to work tomorrow. And try to prove that it doesn’t work and prove what comes next. I think the advantage is always going to go to the nimble and the people that are willing to put in the work and just continue to figure it out.

John Jantsch: Do you find that there are significant differences in terms of, not only what they see as valuable or as entertaining, but what they’re willing to share between different age groups?

Tim Staples: For sure. And I think with the younger demographic, they’re just sharing in completely different ways to… And it’s funny, a lot of it’s starting to come off platform with the really young kids, they’re sharing via direct messaging, right? And so they’ll see something on Instagram or they’ll see it on Facebook or TikTok, but they’ll send a group text or it’ll be on Messenger or on Snap. So you never actually see the actual share, it doesn’t actually register because it’s via direct messaging. And so there’s a whole new rhythm that’s happening with people that are under 20 and how they’re consuming and sharing content.

Tim Staples: And then much more reliable, as you get a little bit older, right? And I think Facebook has kind of become the go to platform for the over 40 set. Right? So you see kind of a more traditional, Hey, I saw a piece of content, I like it, I commented, I share it with my friends. And in some ways, targeting say moms, 30 or 40 year old moms, is much more predictable and scalable and easier to kind of crack than to understand how to get inside of the mind of a 17-year-old girl in Chicago.

John Jantsch: So are there some elements that make something more inherently shareable? Are there things that you kind of check the boxes and say, yeah, we need to make sure we have these in there? Because it may not be viral, as we talked about, but at least it makes it more shareable.

Tim Staples: Yeah. So I think the core of us is, how do you find a piece of value, which we talked about, how do we combine that with a shareable emotion and really lean into the emotion, so that we’re getting awe or we’re getting happiness or we’re getting surprise? And I think one of the pieces, and you talk about this, but is finding that voice that you have. What is your strategy, as a person or as a brand, where you can offer unique insight into the world that other people don’t? I think those are the pieces that are kind of fundamental.

Tim Staples: And then once you understand what that is, what your value proposition is, then you get into a more tactical side where we always talk about, and it’s a chapter of the book, it’s called Crush the Headline. And, basically, what that means is, if you treat a piece of content, if you’re launching a video and you treat it almost like a newspaper article and you have to really understand what the headline of your video is. What is the one sentence that will be immediately understood? And so people can engage with it and be a part of it.

Tim Staples: Because, the atmosphere right now is that, I always say that people are rolling through social media, like a serial dater on Tinder, right? They’re just swiping and swiping and swiping. It’s pretty crazy to watch young people go through social and they’ll swipe by everything and they’ll stop for a half second and they’ll see if they’re interested and they’ll keep moving. So you have to be really clear with the headline of what your video is. And so then the headline needs to connect to the visual that they see and they need to be able to immediately understand what the value is for them. So that they’ll check it out. And I think that’s a really important kind of tactical thing is, being super clear with what your value is right away. And then getting into the video, we call it a concept, giving up the dough. And, basically, this is the idea that you put the best part of your video in the front of the video. Because, either you’re going to grab peoples attention in the first five to seven seconds, or they’re going to be gone forever.

John Jantsch: Yeah. I see that on a lot of really good YouTube, how to videos. The first five seconds are going to be, here’s what you’re going to get from this and how much money it’s going to make you. And then they get into the thing.

Tim Staples: That’s right.

John Jantsch: I think you’re right. And in terms of the sharing, I know we have a lot of clients that want to share, here’s what we did, here’s our new project, here’s our blog post, and then they share the, Oh, by the way, so and so won an award or had a baby or found a really weird thing on this project. And that’s the stuff that gets shared, because it’s the personal stuff. It’s the culture stuff. And so, in terms of share-ability, you don’t have to look very far to see what gets the most engagement is kind of the more of the personal stuff.

Tim Staples: Yeah. Well, yeah. If the company is talking about the company, nobody cares, right? The company’s talking about the audience or the company members and share the personal stuff, and then those people are definitely going to care, right? And it’s a whole different perspective, in terms of how it’s received.

John Jantsch: Yeah. Awesome. So, Tim, where can people find out more about your work and about Break Through the Noise?

Tim Staples: Yeah. So, Break Through the Noise, you can find on You can find me on Twitter @micodala and you can check out the company Shareability at

John Jantsch:  Awesome. And hopefully we’ll run into you soon out there on the road, Tim.

Tim Staples: Awesome. Thanks. Thanks for having me, John.

Transcript of Advice for Today’s Marketing Agency Owners

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John Jantsch: Hello and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch. My guest today is Drew McLellan. He owns and runs Agency Management Institute. You might know them as AMI, which offers agency management training, consulting and facilitates agency owner peer groups, networks for small to midsize agencies. Drew, welcome back.

Drew McLellan: Thanks very much. Good to be here.

John Jantsch: Let’s start with the biggest problem that you solve. When you’re working with agencies, what is the biggest problem that you see over and over again? I know you’re getting a lot of little in the weeds and do a lot of training of their people and whatnot, but generally speaking, what’s the biggie?

Drew McLellan: The biggest problem we solve is actually not when we do a workshop for or anything like that. It’s that agency owners are inherently kind of feel like they’re on an island by themselves. They don’t have peers to talk to where it’s safe to have conversations around finance or people. They don’t know who to ask about best practices. So what we really have done, not unlike what you have done, is we’ve really built a community that helps agency owners run the business of their business and provide a safe place for them to ask questions that they go, you know what? I’ve owned my agency for 30 years. I should know the answer too. What’s the financial metric that says I can hire another person? Or whatever it is. But they just haven’t had a safe place to ask it. That’s, I think, the biggest problem we solve is that we give them a safety net and a safe set of advisors and counselors that help them run their business better.

John Jantsch: I’m curious as a marketer, because as you alluded to, I have a network of consultants as well, a community. I will tell you to a person, they all say that’s why they stay, but it’s not what attracts them because they don’t realize the value of that until they’re in it a bit. How do you find a way to communicate the value of community when all they think they’re looking for is a checklist?

Drew McLellan: Yeah. I have not found, other than testimonials and other things, I have not found a way to … It’s like telling someone you’re honest versus being honest. I just think it’s something that they have to experience. A lot of times they’ll listen to the podcast or they’ll come to a workshop and they will feel the comradery and they will feel the relief. I mean, that’s what I see on their faces. Like, “Oh my God, finally I have found a group of people who do what I do and it’s a safe place to not have all the answers.” And so they have to experience it.

John Jantsch: Yeah. That’s the tough thing. You and I have been doing this for awhile. It seems like everybody is selling training on running and growing a digital agency now. I mean, that’s just everywhere. How do you position yourself? I know that you’re different and I know that our organization is vastly different, but to the person out there looking at a $10,000 price tag for this training that everybody’s selling, I’m going to show my cynical side here, even though half the people selling to them have never actually run a digital agency.

Drew McLellan: Or they’re 12.

John Jantsch: How do you cut through that clutter? Because that seems to be the opportunity of the decade.

Drew McLellan: Yeah. The podcast helps a lot. I mean, honestly I think it’s proof is in the pudding, right? I think when you consistently are helpful in a significant way, you demonstrate your knowledge. I think one of the ways that makes us very different is anyone in our organization that teaches or coaches, has owned their own agency for a minimum of 20 years and still today owns and runs their agents. These are people who not only have been through it all, seen it all, but are still walking the path. That to me is one of the ways that we differentiate ourselves. Then you know what? A lot of times we will get people who have tried other things and it just hasn’t been what they wanted. I think there’s plenty of great opportunity out there for agency owners, whether it’s you or it’s me or it’s one of the other organizations out there, they have to find their people and their path. I guess I’m a bad salesperson. I just sort of let them find their way to us.

John Jantsch: Well, and I think most organizations, I mean there are people in the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network that actually also belong to StoryBrand and to Digital Marketer. I think that sometimes, I mean what you have to realize is that you’re going to get something from all of those and there probably is no one Nirvana organization. But I think investing in yourself is a way to look at it as opposed to, “Oh, I’m only going down this path.” I think you need all of those things.

Drew McLellan: Well, and I think one of the ways we’re different is we only focus on the back of the house. We focus on the business of running your business better, more profitably. We’re not teaching anybody how to do branding or how to write a marketing plan or how to use story. I figure they’re pretty good at that already. What they really need to understand is how to read their P&L and make sure they actually make money at the end of the day.

John Jantsch: Exactly. What do you see as some of the biggest trends for agencies? I mean I know that it seems like every workshop I see right now is about AI, for example. What do you see as what I would call … I mean the AI is kind of like the sexy thing. What you see as the real trends for agencies that they better be paying attention to?

Drew McLellan: One of the more interesting trends that I’ve seen for about the last 18 months is as more and more clients are building up internal departments and as work that was normally being given to the agency is being held in house, many agencies have combated that in a really interesting way. They’re embedding employees into their client’s business. Whether it’s two days a week or four days a week, but they literally have an office and a desk and without exception, and I’ve got small agencies, let’s call them eight, 10 people and I have big agencies, a hundred people, both doing this with brands that are small and large. In every case, they have grown that piece of business because what they do is they develop relationships with multiple people in the organization. They’re walking around, they get pulled into meetings.

Drew McLellan: The trick is finding the right employee to embed because it’s pretty easy for them to all of a sudden feel more alignment with the client than it is with the agency. So you have to find the right person, but it’s a great way to combat and do business in house. That’s one of the trends I’m seeing.

John Jantsch: Well and it’s really interesting because there are a lot of organizations, pretty good sized organizations, that haven’t done a senior marketing hire because they’re afraid of it. They don’t know how to manage that person, what to tell them to do. The idea that you’re going to actually give them the workforce but you’re going to manage that person probably to a large extent as well, I think probably has a lot [inaudible 00:07:52].

Drew McLellan: Yeah, and agencies are charging a premium for it. So in a time when so much of our work is being commoditized and being down to the dollar because of all the freelancers and folks. You can get anybody to do anything on Fiverr regardless of quality but that’s a different discussion. But strategy and the smarts of how to navigate this constantly changing sea of marketing opportunities like AI. You know what? That’s always going to be sold at a premium.

John Jantsch: Yeah, absolutely. Where do you feel like social media has landed now? I mean obviously when it started it was like this new thing out here on an island that we needed to do. Where does that fit in your mind into the overall piece for marketing or certainly for agencies?

Drew McLellan: I think it’s interesting because when it started and there were six of us out there tweeting and Facebook and all of that, all the early adopters, it was about creating connection. Then marketing took over and it became about selling stuff. I think now what’s happening is, at least on the organic side, we’re sort of back to making connections again. I think that’s one of the reasons why Facebook groups have been so popular is because that’s a place where people are talking to people and no one’s selling stuff and no one’s promoting stuff. I think in some ways it’s oddly because it hasn’t been that long, but it’s sort of gone full circle. Now it’s wrapped around the pay-to-play side of it. But I think the organic connection side is actually getting to be a bigger deal again than it was a few years ago.

John Jantsch: Yeah, I think you see that in a resurgence of LinkedIn.

Drew McLellan: Yeah, absolutely.

John Jantsch: LinkedIn, there was a point where people were dismissing it as a wasteland. You certainly see, as people have gone back in there and said, “No, I’m going to hand craft some relationships here.” It’s like wow, this is really powerful. I think overall we’re coming back to a much more personalized approach. I think that one of the challenges with all these free new things that got us all … Facebook used to, when the organic reach was great, it was like easy. I think it made a lot of marketers lazy. I think some marketers are bemoaning the fact that, “Oh I’ve actually got to write one email at a time now instead of 10,000.” But I think the opportunity is there and I think the demand of the buyer. I can see it in my own email efforts and things.

John Jantsch: If you’re not personalizing, if you’re not making an effort, you’re just not even going to get open. You’re not going to be relevant anymore. I think it used to be that people would open everything. You’ve got all this great open rate, click through rate but now the buyer’s like, “Hey, I got a lot of options and you don’t have to be one.”

Drew McLellan: Well, and I think this is true regardless of the size of client, but certainly in sort of the small to mid size business range, I think it still boils down to, I want to know who I’m doing business with and I want to like them and I want to have a connection with them. Whether it’s like the depth of connection, like I can text them or call them and they respond, or at least there’s a place where I know I can actually have a real human to human conversation by email or whatever it may be. I think consumers are demanding that more and more. I also think with all the gotcha media and everything else, people want to know that they’re not going to be embarrassed by who they do business with. So they want to have a sense of who that person is.

John Jantsch: Yeah.

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John Jantsch: Let’s talk about hiring and training. You do a lot of work on the back end with agencies. When times are good, like they seem to be right now getting talent, finding people you know to do even basic work gets a lot harder. What are you helping folks do to get over that idea of getting not only people with experience and talent, but people who want to be there and people who want to serve clients? That’s probably the biggest challenge, I would guess, with a lot of the businesses we work with.

Drew McLellan: I think right now it is absolutely the number one challenge that most agencies are facing. Clients are ready to spend money, clients are ready to do work. BizDev seems to be coming a little easier. I’ve had more than one agency say to me, “I have stuff sitting on my desk that I should be responding to and I don’t have enough bodies. I can’t take on more work.” I think the pendulum swings, right? During the recession ’07, ’08, everybody was letting people go and you could hire great people for a dime on the dollar. Well, the pendulum is on the far other end, right? The good news is it’ll come back to center.

Drew McLellan: But right now what agencies are having to do is are having to be much more thoughtful about things like what is a competitive benefits set? How can I be more flexible? One of the great things agencies could do that a lot of corporations are not willing to do yet is we can build a lot of flexibility into the work day into the workplace. So allowing people to have a life and work, I don’t believe in life work balance, I don’t think it exists, but I think a life-work blend where they support each other, I think we are uniquely qualified to do that. So agency owners have to get comfortable doing that because I remember in the last 10 years, I’ve had a lot of agents who are saying, “Everyone will be under my roof,” or fill in the blank. “Everyone will clock in by 8:00.”

John Jantsch: Yeah, yeah.

Drew McLellan: The world is changing. If you want to have great employees that are going to stick around and be invested in you, you’re going to have to find a way to help them have the life that they want to have while serving your clients well.

John Jantsch: Yeah. I think of course this workforce that’s coming up right now, that seems to be particularly, particularly important to the point where they will take 20% less money if they can ski on Friday because that’s the lifestyle they want.

Drew McLellan: That’s right. We did some research. We have this research survey called the Agency Edge. A few years ago we talked to over a thousand agency employees. Our goal in going into the research was to figure out these millennials in air quotes. What we found out is there is absolutely a millennial attitude in agencies, but it’s rarely the age group that you think. So that most people that we classify as millennials chronologically do not have that millennial mindset of I want to travel the world and a job is just a job and I don’t want to work past 5:02 and all of that. But if you treat them that way, they’ll turn into a millennial.

Drew McLellan: But what we found is there are a lot of older people in our workforces that actually have that attitude. So it’s not just the young people. I think everybody is struggling to manage it all and to find a workplace that helps you manage it all, that is a humane place to work. That says, “Look, I’m going to treat you like a grownup and I expect you to behave like a grownup in return. As long as we have that agreement, we can have a lot of flexibility here.” That’s one way to keep great employees for a long time.

John Jantsch: Yeah. Talk to me a little bit about account structure. One of the things that has become very common whether you’re an agency or an individual business owner is we’re delegating a whole bunch of stuff to a third party. I mean we can get the best copywriter for this specific thing, we can get the best designer for this specific thing. I’m sure a lot of your agencies are doing that because you can hire programmers, great talent for very specific things rather than having somebody sit there all day long and go, “Okay, we found another project for you.” How are you finding that the folks are managing that? Some of the work they’re doing is client facing or on behalf of a client? I’d love to hear what you think is the best approach for that.

John Jantsch: Let me preface this with the fact that over the years I’ve worked with lots of clients where I wanted somebody to actually manage that work, but of course I was the guy they hired. I was the rainmaker and then I immediately said, “Here’s Bob.” That didn’t go so well. So I’m curious how you’re finding people navigating that because we’re never going to grow a business until we as the owners can get out of that seat. But by the same token, how do we keep the fact that we need somebody client facing who then is probably also going to manage a whole bunch of third party folks? I think it’s a great opportunity but a tough dynamic.

Drew McLellan: Yeah. I think part of it depends on your size. I think the smaller you are, the harder it is because you don’t have … In a larger agency, let’s say 25 people, they’re going to probably have a traffic manager or a project manager who is shuffling the work to the producers and the producers are going to be a blend of in house and 1099 folks. But there’s one central person who sort of relegated that. In the smaller shops, you’re right, I think of the account service person often has to serve in that role.

Drew McLellan: What most agencies are doing, and again, a lot of our agencies are 10 people or less, they’re keeping the thinkers in house. So they’re keeping them on staff. So the owner is able to groom those account service people to help them become more strategic, less order taker, all of the things that keep the agency owner in the thick of the day to day, so the owner is able to grow up that talent so he or she can start stepping away and isn’t the woobie for every client. What they’re doing is they’ve got a core team of producers in a super small shop. They may be 1099s, but they probably have some contractual agreement with them where they’re buying 20 or 30 hours [inaudible 00:00:18:36]. So they know they’ve got them. In a larger shop, they might have a single producing team in house or a couple of teams and then everything else is [inaudible 00:18:48]. So it’s a very rare agency today of any size that is not a blend of W2 and 1099s.

John Jantsch: Yeah. Okay. Where do you fall on … There’s a lot of folks encouraging people to carve out a niche, go after a certain type of business and certain type of industry and just be the person for that. Where do you fall on that idea?

Drew McLellan: Well you don’t know it, but actually you just sent me up to tell you that I have a book coming out in about a month called Sell With Authority that is all about for agencies of some size, and I’m going to say 15 people or more, that it’s pretty difficult to break out of your local geography if you don’t have a specialty. A specialty can be an industry or a niche, as you said. It certainly can be a geography like where we know the Pacific Northwest better than anybody else. It can be an audience. But to not have any area of specialty pretty much means that you’re a generalist. No one’s going to drive by three general practitioners to get to a fourth general practitioner. They’ll all drive by a bunch of doctors to get to Mayo Clinic. I think for agencies that want, especially today, the way people find their agency or their marketing partner, the way they find them is they’re finding us.

Drew McLellan: In some of our research, what we found is that about 80% of clients found their agency. The agency did not find them. They went looking for them. So if you have no expertise, what are they looking for? It’s hard for them to find you unless you happen to be the local agency, which by the way is a choice. Then you’re going to work the rotaries and all the boards in your local community, which is a fine way to make a living. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s just a choice you have to make.

John Jantsch: Yeah. I do think that you can … A lot of times people when they hear the word niche, they think immediately plumbers, contractors. I think you can get good at developing a niche around solving a specific problem to that business owner.

Drew McLellan: Absolutely.

John Jantsch: To me, the Duct Tape Marketing, you can say all you want about the brand. I mean, the biggest thing that we solve is we were the only ones talking about marketing as a system for the small business. That idea was enough to be very different because nobody else was talking about it. Now obviously you have to deliver, but I always tell people that you don’t have to pigeonhole yourself. You just have to find something where you can deliver more value than anybody else because the idea for me of working in one industry would drive me crazy because it has some efficiencies. It certainly can be very profitable, but to me it’d be terribly boring.

Drew McLellan: Well, and what we advocate actually is a three legged stool approach, which is I saw a lot of agencies in the last recession who only had one area of specialty, either shrink dramatically or go away. But I think there’s danger in being just about this one industry, but I think you can be in three industries that sort of have what I call connective tissue between them. So there’s common threads between them, but you can build up practices and almost referrals in between the legs of the stool. But I’d much rather sit on a three legged stool than a one legged stool.

John Jantsch: Yeah. Drew, where can people find out more about the Agency Management Institute, and gosh, I’d love to have you back talking about your book too.

Drew McLellan: Yeah, that would be great. They can just go to Everything that they want to know, access to the podcast, we produce a lot of content that has no firewall, no gate, anything. We’re just trying to be helpful. If people find their way to us and we can be helpful, then that’s a win for us.

John Jantsch: Awesome. Well, thanks for joining us and hopefully we’ll run into you soon out there on the road.

Drew McLellan: Sounds good. Thanks, John.

Transcript of Building a Fanocracy Around Your Business

Transcript of Building a Fanocracy Around Your Business written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

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John Jantsch: This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by Zephyr CMS. It’s a modern cloud based CMS system that’s licensed only to agencies. You can find them at, more about this later in the show.

John Jantsch:  Hello, and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch and my guest today is David Meerman Scott. He is an online marketing strategist, an author of a number of books on marketing including the classic, The New Rules of Marketing and PR, one of my favorites, Marketing the Moon, there are countless other books he’s going to share with us how many there are. And we’re going to talk about his new book Fanocracy: Turning Fans Into Customers and Customers Into Fans. Depending upon when you’re listening to this, it’ll be out in January of 2020. So, David, welcome back.

David M. Scott: Thank you, John. It’s always, always, always great to speak with you.

John Jantsch: I lost track, but this is probably at least your third or fourth appearance on the show.

David M. Scott: I think so, I think it’s the third. Yeah, I’m pretty sure it’s the third.

John Jantsch: You did a fun thing with this book, you have a co-author.

David M. Scott: I do. My 26 year old daughter Reiko is my co-author. And it’s been fabulous because it’s a book about fandom, and I was talking to Reiko starting five years ago, just geeking out about the things that we love. And I’m like, “Reiko, I’ve been to 790 live music shows, including 75 Grateful Dead concerts. What’s up with that?” And she goes, “I know, daddy, I’ve not only read every Harry Potter book and seen every Harry Potter movie, I’ve gone to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park in Orlando twice, and I’ve been to London to the studio tour, and I wrote a 90,000 word alternative ending to the Harry Potter series where Draco Malfoy is a spy for the order of the Phoenix, put it on a fan fiction site. It’s been downloaded thousands of times, commented on hundreds of times. I’m a Harry Potter geek. You’re a live music, Grateful Dead geek. What’s up with that? And that was the catalyst of us to dig into the idea of how and why people become fans and how companies can tap fandom.

John Jantsch: Well maybe let me back up a little bit. How would you define the term fanocracy?

David M. Scott: So fanocracy is a term we made up, and it’s essentially playing off the words other ocracies out there. So for example, democracy is rule by the many, ameritocracy is ruled by the most worthy, and a fanocracy is an environment where the fans rule. It’s a way that people come around a tribe, take ownership of that tribe and then that becomes a force for helping organizations succeed.

John Jantsch: Yeah, and plus the URL was available, right?

David M. Scott: Yes. And you and I have spoken on the podcast before about the concept of newsjacking, something I invented. And newsjacking, I also own the URL. And I did something that a lot of people think is nuts, which is I don’t try to assert copyright control over it. I don’t try to assert that I own it. Yes, I own the URL. Yes, I’m the first person to talk about the concept. But I want it to become, to use the word, a fanocracy. I want people to say, “Wow, this is a cool concept, this idea of a fanocracy, or in the case of newsjacking, this idea of newsjacking.” And in newsjacking it worked because it’s in the Oxford English dictionary now, and my name is attached to it. So you can imagine creating something so popular that it’s in the dictionary.

John Jantsch: Well and we’re going to get into this, but that’s one of the principles of fanocracy isn’t it? To give it away, or-

David M. Scott: It is, give it away for free, exactly right. Give it away, because if you give more to the universe, you’ll get more back. And if you give to your fans, your fans will give back.

John Jantsch: So while this may have started, the actual idea for this book started maybe with this conversation you described with your daughter. I mean, you have a long history with fanocracy yourself. I mean, you and Brian Halligan wrote a book called Marketing Lessons From the Grateful Dead. And probably would you say that they are the quintessential model of building fanocracy?

David M. Scott: They built a social network before Mark Zuckerberg was even born. Yeah, they’ve created an incredible tribe. But people have been putting groups of people together well before the Grateful Dead. The Grateful Dead is the one I’m most interested in because I started going to Grateful Dead concerts when I was 17, and I’ve been now to 75 Grateful Dead concerts, or the bands that followed the Grateful Dead with original members of the Grateful Dead because Jerry Garcia died in 1995. And you’re right, Brian Halligan and I, we actually met each other because of the Grateful Dead. I was invited to HubSpot, Brian is the CEO of HubSpot, to their office back in 2007. They had just started the company, they only had eight employees and no customers yet. And Brian said, “Please come, you wrote this book, we’re interested in it. We have a company, we’re doing similar stuff, we should chat.”

David M. Scott: And I opened up my MacBook Pro computer and I had a Grateful Dead sticker on it. And within the first minute we knew we were part of the same tribe. We knew we were both fans of the Grateful Dead, and that’s what this idea of fandom, or as I call it, fanocracy is, is you are part of a group of like minded people. And so Brian and I became fast friends. He invited me within a couple of days to join to be the first member of the HubSpot advisory board, and I’ve been with them ever since. And we’ve probably gone to 30 or 40 Grateful Dead shows since then together.

John Jantsch: Well, I am nowhere near the Grateful Dead fan that you are. But I still think Working Man’s Dead is my-

David M. Scott: It’s an amazing album, amazing album. But that’s just one thing. Typically, almost everyone is a fan of something, whether it’s your local sports team or you love to participate in triathlons, or you like classic cars, or you’re into birdwatching, whatever it is, we’re all fans of something. And no matter what business you’re in, you can use the techniques of developing fandom to grow a business. And that’s what I think is so cool is that it’s … As we dug into it, it’s not just for rock stars, it’s not just for athletes, it’s for any organization. And one of my favorite examples to prove that is we talk about an insurance company called Hagerty Insurance, and everyone hates to buy auto insurance. There’s not a single person on the planet that likes to buy auto insurance. Furthermore, people hate to use the product because it meant you crashed your car.

David M. Scott: And McKeel Hagerty founded Hagerty Insurance a number of years ago. And I spoke with him, he says, “David, everyone hates my product category so I can’t market like everyone else does. I had to figure out how I could tap into fandom.” And they actually insure classic cars. And so he and his team go to over 100 classic car events a year and they meet with people who are classic car fans, and they become part of the tribe that way. They have a YouTube channel where they provide valuable information, they have a Hagerty Driver’s Club that people are members of, they get all sorts of great benefits. And they’re the largest now classic car insurance company in the world, double digit compound growth every single year. They’re going to grow by 200,000 customers this year. Fabulous, successful on all levels, in a category everybody hates auto insurance,

John Jantsch: Well, I think that’s a great example too of the fact that it’s really not about the product or the service, it’s about the experience, it’s about the brand. It’s about what people get to feel and think about the brand. And that often isn’t about the product. You talk about a category where people hate the product, hope they never have to use it. I mean, that’s an almost an extreme example. But I think that that’s, isn’t that true across the board? That generally the companies that do this, it’s not about the thing they sell, it’s about how people feel about doing business with them.

David M. Scott: Exactly right. And when we really dug in to boil down 70,000 words in the book and five years of research, building fans is simply about creating a true human connection. And you and I, John, have been talking about social media since the very beginning. That’s how we met actually, is we were among the first people on the planet to articulate this idea of how you can use social media to market a business. And I’m not sure about you, but I’m now feeling like the pendulum has swung too far into the direction of superficial online communications. We’ve got a polarized political world online where the social networks, Facebook and the others optimize for polarization because they want to put you into a tribe. You’ve got people doubling down and sending, if you get on an email list they send so many emails that it drives you crazy and you opt out.

David M. Scott: Someone will connect with you on LinkedIn, immediately try to sell you something, and you don’t even know sometimes if you’re communicating with someone, it’s a robot or not. So I think that when you and I started talking about social networking and marketing, it was like, “Wow, this is awesome. We can communicate with our friends.” And it really was awesome at that point. But it’s become a dark and cold world for many of us. So I think the pendulum is now swinging back in the direction of true human connection. And it’s a lot about what your new book is about too, is really getting back to humanity and what’s important to life. And social media is not going away, it’s still valuable, but it’s not really what we thought it might’ve been 10 years ago.

John Jantsch: Yeah, I remember when I was first on Twitter. I hate to sound like an old fart here with this stuff, but I’d be going to a new city and I’d put on Twitter, “Hey, anybody know any good restaurants?” I’d get 10 great recommendations, and now I could put that same thing. I’ve got 10 times the followers, now you put that same thing on there and not get a single response because just as you said, I mean we’ve gotten to the point where true connections that are going on in very small places again. And probably to me, the most useful social media place right now are a couple of Facebook groups I belong to because they are people that are very engaged and nobody’s selling anything, and it’s all about helping each other. And I think that’s-

David M. Scott: And frequently those, because I’m in a couple of those too, and frequently they’re closed groups.

John Jantsch: Very much so, yeah, yeah.

David M. Scott: Yeah. And I remember doing, remember tweetups? Remember that concept? And I remember, this is again, I don’t want to be the old fart either, but 10 or 11 years ago, I would roll into a city. I remember doing this in Bombay, India. And I said, “Hey, I’m here. I’m going to be at this hotel bar. If anyone wants to come and chat.” And like 30 people show up. I wouldn’t do that now. First of all, I don’t know if anyone would show up and second of all people would show up and try to sell something or try to infiltrate the group. I don’t know, maybe we’re old farts, but-

John Jantsch: Yeah, let’s just bitch for another 20 minutes, shall we? All right.

David M. Scott: But at the same time, people do want to have a human connection, like what Hagerty did, be a part of a tribe, be a part of like minded people, speak the lingo, make a fast friend because you share this same love.

John Jantsch: And I think that the opportunity in that is that people are hungry for it, so people who get that, who take the time and the intention to nurture that, I think are going to benefit. In fact, let’s jump to part two in the book where you really get into the nuts and bolts of how to do this.

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John Jantsch: So I mean, I can read the list, but if you want to jump in like the first one, get closer. It’s just what we’ve been talking about. So maybe unpack the five or six tenets of this idea of how you actually do this.

David M. Scott: Okay. I’d like to dig in deep on one or two and then talk real brief briefly on a couple of them. So, get closer than usual is fascinating. We interviewed … We, my daughter Reiko and I, my coauthor. Reiko did a neuroscience degree at Columbia university. She’s now in her final year of medical school applying now for residency programs in emergency medicine. And we interviewed a bunch of neuroscientists about what goes on in our brains when we become fans of something. And essentially it’s about human connections, about proximity. And it turns out that our brains are hardwired to have the most emotional connection with people the closer we are physically to them. And this is a survival technique, because the people that we know and trust, when we’re in close physical proximity to them, our brain lights up in a very positive way. But if we’re in close physical proximity with somebody who we believe might do us harm, our fight or flight mechanism kicks in. And so that’s hardwired in our DNA, we can’t help it.

David M. Scott: And so one neuroscientist named Edward T. Hall identified the four levels of proximity, the furthest one being further than about 20 feet. And we humans don’t really pay that much attention to people that were that far away. Once you get within 20 feet, we begin to track those people, that’s called the furthest away is called public space. Then social spaces is within about 20 feet. We begin to track people who get that close to us within 20 feet because we want to know are they people we can trust. That’s why when you go into a room that’s filled with people, you immediately begin scanning that room to find out if there’s people you know or if there’s danger. Then further in is within four feet, that’s called personal space. And that’s when cocktail party distance. And if you know somebody, you’re part of the same tribe or they’re your friend or they’re your family member, that’s where their most positive human connections happen.

David M. Scott: That’s also why when you go into a crowded elevator, you feel nervous because you’re with people you don’t know. And that’s hard wired into us. So what we can do as business people is figure out how can we create ways to have physical connections, close proximity, getting into the personal space of our customers or putting our customers into the personal space of other customers. And we talked about Brian Halligan a moment ago, but HubSpot for example, has done a brilliant job with their inbound event. And you and I have spoken there multiple times. They get 25,000 people there. And they’re not just their customers, they’re their fans because it’s a tribe of like minded people who are able to communicate. So all of us, no matter what kind of business we’re in, have an opportunity to bring people closer together. And there’s actually another form of neuroscience called mirror neurons, which are when our brain fires, when we see someone do something as if we’re doing it ourself.

David M. Scott: That’s why we get sad at sad movies, it’s our brain fires as if that action is happening to us. And we can use that in business by making use of photographs and video. You can put yourself in virtual proximity of somebody simply by using video on your website or using zoom to do calls instead of just telephone, putting images on your networks or your websites of you looking into a camera cropped as if you’re in someone’s personal space. And all of these are techniques to create closeness with people. And I find that this one, because it’s rooted in neuroscience, is fascinating. And that’s a deep dive into one of those concepts of fanocracy.

John Jantsch: Well let me ask you to go deep into another one. Sometimes brands find that they benefit from borrowing getting closer, in other words, influencers. So that’s become, you hear people talking about influencer marketing. I mean, that’s become a channel almost.

David M. Scott: Yeah, it has.

John Jantsch: So how does that aspect apply to … Because clearly, getting influencers, people who have a network already, or tribe already, getting them to love what you do maybe is a way to sort of wholesale get a fanocracy.

David M. Scott: Right. Well what we learned by digging in there is that the by far the best influencers or advocates, whatever you want to call them, are people who genuinely love what you do and want to share that with the world. And so the more you can cultivate that, the better. And we also learned that you can’t coerce enforce that because it just doesn’t work. And so there’s so many organizations that pay for it, like the classic is paying one of the Kardashians to talk about you. And so it turns out that if you cultivate influencers by making them your fans, and then they’re eager to talk about what you do, that that’s the ultimate. And that again, it comes back to that humanity, that true connection that people have. And just willy nilly, and I know you get them too, I get them from people who say, “Hey, David, I love your stuff. Please write about me on your blog.” That doesn’t work because that’s not someone who has a true connection with you and your brand.

John Jantsch: So we talked a little bit about this when we were talking about the Grateful Dead, and obviously a lot of people know the Grateful Dead encouraged people to record their live sessions and distribute them freely. And so that’s an element of this idea of letting go of control like you talked about with newsjacking. So that scares people, doesn’t it?

David M. Scott: It does. Letting go of control is a really important concept to develop fans. And what we learned, again, we talked with hundreds of people about their fandom and why, and we all also talked to hundreds of companies that have developed fandom. And what we learned to boil this one down into sort of a sentence is that, once you put your product out there into the marketplace, it’s no longer yours. It belongs to your fans, belongs to your customers. And a couple of examples that I love, one of them is Adobe. So Adobe has Photoshop software. And they actually do not practice this idea of letting fans take control. My daughter is a huge fan of Adobe Photoshop. She does art using Photoshop and she’s part of a bunch of different groups, Facebook groups and whatnot, of people who love to do art in Photoshop.

David M. Scott: All the people in the groups laugh because Adobe tries to control the way that their fans talk about the products. And they actually say, “You cannot say that you Photoshop something. You must say that you manipulated the image using Adobe trademark circle R, Photoshop Adobe trademark circle R, software. And you can never use Photoshop as a verb, you can’t say you Photoshopped something. And so Adobe is trying to control the way that people are using their products and services, and that is not letting go of their creations, it’s trying to control their creations. That ultimately doesn’t build fans.

David M. Scott: I’ll contrast that with the vacuum cleaner company, iRobot that makes robotic vacuum cleaners. One of the models is called the Roomba. And it turns out that people like to do videos of their pets riding on their Roombas. And it’s become a real big thing. There’s millions and millions of views on YouTube of dogs and cats and other animals riding on Roombas. Now what iRobot could have done is say, “No, that’s not a proper use of our product.” But they didn’t. They celebrated the fact that the fans loved to do that, and that’s a really big difference. So all of us need to recognize that once we put a creation out there, once we put a product or service out there, once we put an idea out there, it no longer belongs to us, it belongs to our customers, it belongs to our fans.

John Jantsch: This is probably completely off .it probably fits more in newsjacking than … But I just said I had a great experience yesterday. So I watched a clip of a Saturday Night Live, recent Saturday Night Live episode that had a podcasting segment on it and they were of making fun of … And it was the Father and Son Podcast Mike. And so the idea was that you can’t have a conversation with your son that’s deep and meaningful, get the podcast apps and then you can have this like podcasters.

John Jantsch: And then at one point they went into, “And this segment is sponsored by Squarespace,” and they gave some, “Get a discount by going to blah, blah blah.” Well the folks at Squarespace went, “Ding, ding, ding.” And so they actually lit that coupon code up and you could actually get a discount if you did it.

David M. Scott: Oh, how awesome is that.

John Jantsch: I thought that was so amazing.

David M. Scott: That’s totally newsjacking. Totally newsjacking.

John Jantsch: Yeah. I think you’d like that.

David M. Scott: Love that.

John Jantsch: All right, so part three of the book, if I can just wrap up here today, is a really you telling stories about, or at least that’s how I interpreted it, how you enjoy this idea of fanocracy. So you want to send us out on kind of one of your favorite stories?

David M. Scott: So what we learned in talking to a whole bunch of people is that passion is infectious. And that when you live a life with passion, when you celebrate the things that you love, number one, you have a more interesting life. But number two, the people around you want to be around you because that passion is infectious because you radiate that passion. And one of my favorite examples is Dr. John. [Rosh 00:00:25:03], he’s a dentist. He’s a dentist. And he’s a dentist in Southern California. And there’s so many other dentists in Southern California. But he’s passionate about skateboarding. On his Instagram, he’s got 13,000 followers because among other things, he posts images of him skateboarding. He’s the skateboarding dentist. And that’s incredibly powerful because when people are shopping for a dentist, they see that social media feed of him on Instagram and they’re like, “Yeah, that’s the guy I want working on my teeth. He’s a cool dude.”

David M. Scott: And unlike every other dentist who either isn’t showing what they’re doing or if they do, it’s just the before and after teeth shots. And so we learned that companies that employ people with passion do better. CEOs who hire for passion genuinely get better employees to work for them. And people who have passion live a better life. So that passion becomes infectious. And it in itself, the fact that, “Oh my God, I love to do this thing every day.” And you can get at this when you’re speaking with someone, even in a business environment, and you can ask questions like, “Hey, what do you love to do on the weekend?” And when you get someone talking about the thing they love about the passion that they love, there’s nothing better for a conversation opener. And then all of a sudden you remember, “Oh yeah, yeah, that’s the person who loves mountain bike.” I remember that. And that’s a really, really, really great way to build fans is to understand what people love and share that with them, even if you don’t share that yourself.

John Jantsch: Visiting with my friend David Meerman Scott, author of Fanocracy. It’s going to be out in January of 2020, depending upon when you’re listening to this. David, tell people where they can find the book and find out more about you and your daughter’s work.

David M. Scott: Great, thanks, John. So the book is out in hardcover and ebook, and Reiko and I read the audio book, which is exciting if you’re an audio book person. We have a site at Bunch of free stuff on there that you can check out. On the socials, I am DMScott, D-M-S-C-O-T-T. So hit me up, particularly on Twitter, which is my go to social media of choice.

John Jantsch: Well thanks, David, for joining us, and hopefully we’ll run into you soon out there on the road.

David M. Scott: I hope so, John. We do get in contact at an event at least once a year or so. I don’t know which one will it be this year, but it’s always great to see your crazy sneakers live and in person. Because I know, John, you are a fan of crazy sneakers.

John Jantsch: I am a fan of a particular brand of Converse Chuck Taylors.

David M. Scott: Yeah, I know you are.

John Jantsch: Take care. Take care, my friend.

David M. Scott: Thanks, John.

Transcript of Why Page Speed Matters on Your Website

Transcript of Why Page Speed Matters on Your Website written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

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John Jantsch: This episode is a Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, and is brought to you by 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.

Hello and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch. My guest today is Lukas Haensch. He is a former Google UX manager and founder of Pathmonk at

John Jantsch: And we’re going to talk about page speed, website load speed, all UX factors. If people have go to your website and it loads very slowly, that’s a bad experience and that’s why it’s such an important factor. In fact, it’s such an important factor that Google is, outwardly calling it a ranking factor for SEO purposes. So Lukas, thanks for joining me.

Lukas Haensch: Thank you John. Thanks for having me.

John Jantsch: So how does a person, I mean, again, a lot of times people talk about page speed and there’s so many factors that come into play. Somebody could have a great website that loads fast, but somebody is on a slow, like I used to say dial up. We don’t say dial up anymore, do we? But slow connection. And so they’re having a bad experience. I mean, how do we know where we stand? I mean, how do we measure, what our page speed is?

Lukas Haensch: Very, very glad you asked. So I think maybe first and foremost, I think one key concept to have in mind is, why do we even care about page speed? Just very, very briefly, why do we even care about this? If you compare this to your retail store, maybe it’s very, very nice analogies to compare it to your sliding door in your retail store. If this is opening super, super, super slow, how many people would wait to actually go through?

Lukas Haensch: Just keeping that sort of analogy in the back of your mind, once you’re going through all of this, today. So page feed is basically your door opener to your user. There was tons of metrics there and I know there’s a lot of marketeers listening. So I will basically give you one metric, that we used within Google while we were working with Google’s biggest clients, and that is the speed index. So there’s tons of metrics that you could have, load time, first bites being loaded, when does it start to render?

Lukas Haensch: But if you look at the speed index, and I will tell you in a second how you get it, but if you look at the speed index, what you will actually measure is how long does it take until that first screen, the above the fold content, how long does it take until this is fully painted, which means in turn, a user has a meaningful experience of your website? So, that’s what we really, really focused on within Google in our team to optimize for that first above the fold rendering.

Lukas Haensch: And, all the other actions will go from there, because the call to action is there already, a hero image will be there already, and then, everything else unfolds from there. So speed index is something that you can, very easily get. There is a tool called It’s actually built from in Google. It’s not an official Google tool in that sense, but it’s built from the team within Google, to look at page speeds websites.

Lukas Haensch: And if you put in your URL in there and you will get a metric called page speed index and it will tell you something like 3000 or 4,000, and that’s basically milliseconds. So if you have a page speed index of 3000, you’re above the fold. Content will fully be loaded after three seconds. So that is one really good thing to sort of, put the attention on.

John Jantsch: So repeat that again,

Lukas Haensch: Correct. is like a dark blue website where you can put a couple of parameters, you can pick the network, which is really important to pick. You have to pick something that makes a lot of sense for your user base. Not everybody is on 5G and not even everybody is on 4G. It might be funny to hear, but when we were doing this about like two years ago, one and a half years ago within Google, we were actually, we were testing on 3G fast still because such a large user base actually is on slower and lower end devices. So testing in your offices’ wifi, is probably not the best thing to do.

John Jantsch: Where do you find or what did you find were some of the biggest culprits, I mean, that slow sites down?

Lukas Haensch: And this ties exactly into this concept that we just said before. We’re looking at the above the fold content rendering and there’s just one very high level. There’s one key concept out there that’s called the critical rendering path, which means the browser has to go through a lot of resources before it even can start showing anything on the screen. So if you have a lot of white space before your website is showing anything, then you’re usually blocking the critical rendering path.

Lukas Haensch: You will see that actually visually if you go to, you will be able to see exactly because it’s basically a slowed down version of how your page is loading. You will see in second one, we have a white screen, in second 1.5 we have a white screen and so on and so forth and until you actually show the first content. So the biggest things that affect, these are, is everything that is blocking the rendering because if you’re blocking the rendering, you have a wide page and that usually is a couple of things.

Lukas Haensch: By default, this is going to be always going to be because it’s simply just render blocking. It’s your CSS and your JavaScript in your page. Without going into too detail. But, whenever you have something that has a lot of Java script in it and that can be a video player, it can be a carousel that where you have some flipping marketing messages on the top of your website, that’s very often driven by Java script.

Lukas Haensch: You will have, the techs, an old AB testing tool that you might not be using anymore. That will be Java script. So even if it’s not really needed at the top of the screen there, it will be blocking, what went once you start actually seeing something on the screen. So one of the key exercises is to always to check, is all the Java script files that we’re using, is all the CSS files that we’re using actually required or can you, and it’s called, delaying them or deferring them in technical terms, you can delay to load a couple of those items, which then unblocks the critical rendering path, which then shows the same content earlier without changing anything on the server sites, without changing your anything dramatic.

Lukas Haensch: So the key thing that we learned and communicated within Google all the time is, you don’t have to do those big changes. There is basically every file that you loading has potential to be improved. Is it a CSS file? It might be, not needed at this point in time. It can be loaded later. Is it a JavaScript file? It can be deferred. Is it a font file? Maybe it’s an old font format. And so on and so forth. You can go through all the facts and obviously pictures, there’s one big key trick I think that it’s really helpful for images.

Lukas Haensch: I can go into that, but ultimately it’s about going through those individual items and you as a marketer, if that, it’s maybe something you haven’t been working with all the time, just go to through in URL and you can step by step see, okay, what is actually loading and what can I see on my screen? And that will give you a good feel of what’s going on your page. If there’s tons of Java script, if there’s tons of images, if there is long loading fond files in there, all of that.

John Jantsch: What role, I mean, I know ultimately it plays a role, but what role does hosting play in maybe slowing sites down or delivering a faster load?

Lukas Haensch: I mean, it basically, it affects sort of the first part of the overall equation on how quickly you’re sending, your first bite, basically, how quickly you’re sending information is basically down the pipe. What we though found is again and again, obviously that has plays its role, but a much, much larger role, the much quicker wins are in optimizing the individual files because there is, like we just discussed before, blocking the critical rendering cluster. There’s so many small things that you can do before having to touch that hosting at all. So, I would look at the critical rendering path and how you’re loading the files a couple of times before switching any major setups.

John Jantsch: Do you find that, some of the content management systems that are out there today, obviously WordPress being by far and away the most popular. Are those part of the problem particularly when people start adding themes and plugins and those kinds of things?

Lukas Haensch: 100%. I think you have to think about what is a plugin. A plugin is basically a bunch of JavaScript in many, many cases. Obviously it depends on what it does, but if it comes with a lot of functionality, yes. So for example, and it’s the same logic being applied, let’s take the plugin logic from WordPress. So you’re loading a couple of plugins. Some of them you will actually not even need on this page. Some of them you will only need on one particular page. Or some of them you will only need at the bottom of your page.

Lukas Haensch: So what you can be doing is, you can be, and there’s even a plugin for that sort of a meta plugin. But you can also run this through code. You can conditionally load your plugins. So if my first move, my screen is loading, if my page is loading, what you can be doing is just using that conditioner loader for the plugins and then pick and choose when which plugin should actually be loading.

Lukas Haensch: If you’re doing this through code, you will have even more flexibility to say, okay, which one should be loading right now? And again, and you mentioned themes there because teams comes with a lot of Java script and all of it is loading at the beginning. That in turn is then blocking the rendering. And you could again go file by file through check, okay, which ones can be deferred and loaded later.

Lukas Haensch: So this is where marketing would have to sort of sit together with the developer and check, okay, [inaudible] actually Java script files, let me give you a quick example. You having, Java script that you need on your checkout page. That JavaScript is not being required at all in the first couple of seconds. The user even has to get there. So it’s a combination. It’s really, you look at the plugins, [inaudible 00:10:52], you look at the Java script, you try to defer some, and this is how you chop down second by second basically.

John Jantsch: So I’ve done testing on using the page tests that you shared as well as Google’s page speed insights. And there seems to be a significant difference in the mobile load versus desktop. In fact, I’ve tested lots of sites and rarely do I find sites that get a glowing review from Google on mobile. Are there things we should be doing? I mean, should we have [inaudible] almost separate sites or separate experiences for mobile?

Lukas Haensch: So, it’s very good question. I mean, I think mobile load… I mean, load time on mobile becomes particularly apparent because the devices, and we are on a connection. So there’s much more breaking points, let’s say, or much more points that are, sort of being in danger to be, decreasing the performance. Which means, if I’m looking at my mobile page, I do think, and I think even with WordPress, you can condition your load certain items to just say no, don’t show this on mobile or show it on mobile.

Lukas Haensch: There’s certain elements to it. Let’s take, I think maybe give you the example of a carousel. If the pink carousel with different image at the very top. So you have this maybe on desktop and it doesn’t really impact your performance, but then you look at mobile and out of a sudden it heavily affects performance because you’re loading five or six images, which is quite a lot of stuff to load.

Lukas Haensch: You’re loading the Java script, which is random blocking as I mentioned. As well, which means now you had the situation where basically you have to have, a performance budget where you say, okay, I have this and that budget to play out. And if you’re looking at your mobile page and you’re already spending quite a budget on your six images plus your Java script, you’re already taking quite some seconds that it will take to load while then you would have to even look at your metrics and analytics to people even interact, with the fifth or sixth image.

Lukas Haensch: Or is it just because marketing or somebody else wanted to have the several messages out there? So, I would definitely consider, looking at especially heavy, heavy, items such as, videos. I’m not saying to not use videos, but there’s smarter ways to how to display videos as well. Carousels, these types of items to be really strict on not to use them on mobile because they don’t usually don’t have a strong UX value and definitely they take a lot from the speed budget.

John Jantsch: If you’ve got a website, if you’re selling products online today, you know that the images are crucial to how people make opinions about your products and services. that’s pixel with a is an image retouching service that can take all of your images. They can retouch them, add shape and symmetry, smooth out bumps, aligned shoulders, things like that, that can reduce wrinkles, that can reduce and remove lint tags, everything that just doesn’t really seem to fit. Get somebody to do it for you. Accelerate your time to market because they’ll give you your images retouched the next morning. Go to that’s and find out about their re touching image services.

John Jantsch: Can you, without making people glaze over here, talk a little bit about, AMP in this equation, the accelerated mobile pages. Is that something people should be using, for a better load, better experience, but then you have less graphics, you have less control? So how do you feel about that?

Lukas Haensch: So personally, I mean, how I look at this is it’s basically it is a normal website with all the rules already pre given. It’s already giving you a lot of restrictions on your Java script. It’s already giving you, and then obviously there’s further optimizations in the HTML. So in a way it’s taking this types of rules that we were just discussing and pushing them on you in a way. So, that’s why that’s one piece and one reason why these pages load really fast.

Lukas Haensch: I wouldn’t consider myself an AMP expert, but I definitely think just by the pure what it actually is, it’s basically just a website, a normal website with a lot of rules in there, and to which basically prevent you from overusing your speed budget and hence they’re being fast pages. So I think it’s a great way for somebody if it fits your type of content, If you can get your message across with that, I think is a great way.

John Jantsch: So I know anecdotally, I will give a site three or four seconds if nothing’s happening, I might click away, especially on my mobile device. Are there statistics that definitively say, yes, X amount of people will wait X amount of time, but if your site doesn’t load in that amount of time, not only is it a bad experience but they’ll just leave?

Lukas Haensch: Yeah. There’s just tons of metrics. The couple of metrics that we were using within our team and there probably have been just if not have getting worst, at least their state or we’re getting worse it’s like, 53% of consumers will leave a site if it takes longer than three seconds to load. So that’s half of your traffic already gone on mobile, according to those metrics, if you’re not loading a quicker or within that three seconds.

Lukas Haensch: And when I’m saying three seconds speed index of 3000 being able to paint it for screen within three seconds because then a person has no reason to leave. Because I think maybe also one key element there is when we’re talking about speed index or page speed, we’re also talking about, a person seeing something meaningful. It’s maybe not a good idea to detach that from the human experience by looking at like tons of different metrics.

Lukas Haensch: Like can you show something meaningful to a person, which means they will not leave because they don’t see something. They will leave maybe for other reasons. So 53%, there’s tons of other metrics on how there’s a metrics on that, if you load one seconds faster that a conversion rate would increase by around 20% or more. It’s hard for me to release, it really depends on the use case and the traffic that you’re getting. But I think this 53% if you’re not lower learning quicker than three seconds is a really good one to have in the back of your mind. On whether it’s 100% to in your case, that’s another story about that.

John Jantsch: I think it illustrates those the reason, a lot of times when some businesses, marketers only have so much a budget attention span, time to work on stuff. And I think that, I think it’s important for them to realize, why this should be a priority. And I think that’s a good metric for that.

Lukas Haensch: 100%. Like if you’re running a retail store, if your door wouldn’t open, like you would jump on it immediately.

John Jantsch: Exactly. I think part of the problem is a lot of marketers don’t actually visit their own website. They don’t actually have the same experience that their customers or prospects have unfortunately.

Lukas Haensch: Yup. And if they do, it’s very often a cached version. A cached version or a on wifi. So really do that effort. Go on a tool like, or you can even go do it with Chrome, but to go on and test it out just to see it yourself, what the experiences that most of the people actually have with your website.

John Jantsch: I know that Google doesn’t necessarily, give a list of all the factors they use for ranking. But I think it’s pretty widely accepted that page speed or lack of page speed is a variable in whether or not your pages are ranking. Can you speak to that?

Lukas Haensch: I mean, obviously I do not have all the insights about all the things that are impacting ranking. If so I would be probably, be having not to work anymore. But I think one thing is important maybe to just keep in mind. All of this there is a certain reason for this. So more and more traffic is being on mobile. So mobile traffic has surpassed obviously desktop traffic. So hence, more traffic is coming through the Google search on mobile more and more than on desktop, hence the visitor, hence more market. There’s more opportunity for marketing, in those channels.

Lukas Haensch: But what do we see in general is lower conversion rates on mobile than on desktop. So hence there is quite a significant interest obviously to improve the page speed because it’s one aspect that is affects an experience of a user. So, in a way like the reason why it’s important for ranking is also the reason why it’s good for users, which is the reason why it’s good for conversions, which in turn is good for somebody who’s running advertising on that channel. So, I can’t really, I don’t have any further insights on the ranking factors. I can just say it all comes from a very good reason.

John Jantsch: And what I tell people all the time is just what you said. A page that loads slowly is a bad experience. And so Google doesn’t want people to have a bad experience. So they’re not going to show that page. And I think that that’s the way to look at it. I think that’s always been their intent. And so consequently, things change with the algorithm and whatnot only because they get better at understanding what, all the factors of page are on the site.

John Jantsch: And so I think that there’s no question that, in fact, one of the easiest ways to test this is that when we have clients who have a really bad mobile experience, whether it’s the design or the load speed, I mean, we can’t get them to show up for mobile searches. They just won’t. And so I think that’s as clear indication as somebody would need to suggest that, no matter how, where you put it in the ranking, it is a factor.

Lukas Haensch: I think I would say the biggest thing that I would have taken away from all of this time in Google working on this is, that a lot of teams overestimate the effort that is required to do even small fixes. So page speed optimization on mobile page is to be sort of, titled as a big project. But as I was trying to stress before is, there isn’t a lot of things, a lot of small things that can be done in order to improve.

Lukas Haensch: Like just give me one or two examples that maybe highlight this very drastically. A lot of people try to optimize their hero image. What you can do just very simply as you can do, you take your hero image, you can transfer it into let’s say a string of code. It’s called base 64 in coding and all of a sudden you can send your hero image with the first request in your HTML file. What I’m just trying to say you is, no big changes to be done.

Lukas Haensch: You’d take one image, you transfer it into another format, you send it now with your first file and a big chunk of your first above the fold content can already be painted. So, I think that is probably my biggest takeaway, that there is a lot of small things that can be done rather than making it, to blowing it up unnecessarily as a big project.

John Jantsch: So where would somebody, let’s say a listener is out there thinking, he said a couple of things that make a lot of sense, but I don’t know how to do any of that. Where do you find somebody who, because again, if you just Google page speed consultant, you’re going to get people who are very technical, you’re going to get people who just say they can do that know, but they’re really, all they want to do is move you to new hosting or something. I mean, how do you find the right resource to help you fix some of these little things?

Lukas Haensch: I think that is a really good question. The thing that I can say is, if your team goes reasonably one by one through the files, a lot of this can already be uncovered. Is your font file maybe just in the old font file format? There’s font file format which is TTF. If you transfer it to [inaudible] it’s 30% smaller. Fonts show bigger, faster. So the only thing I can’t really say like one place, what I can say is to go with your team through the waterfall of your website. I think that’s the best source to be honest.

John Jantsch: So we, in the introduction I mentioned that you have recently founded a company called Pathmonk. You want to tell us a little bit about what Pathmonk does.

Lukas Haensch: Sure. So, definitely within Pathmonk, we were looking much closer at conversions on mobile and at desktop. And what we realized is that it’s actually very difficult for marketeers to answer questions such as, how many visits does it take for user to actually convert? Or how many seconds do you have on the page to actually convince them? And I’m not talking about bounce rate, I’m talking about, what is the average amount of seconds that somebody takes until they sign up? Or which user actions show that a visitor is ready to convert?

Lukas Haensch: So we’ve seen that there’s a big gap of being able to understand sort of, anonymous information retrospectively such as, Google analytics data or looking at, heat maps videos like how do somebody behave. But we found that there is a gap that in real time, it’s difficult for people to react to this immediately. What if user X has been on the page and has been doing actions that look like they would be somebody that is converting, can you react to the market? And we found most market is current.

Lukas Haensch: So we build, basically technologies called smart cards that is basically helping, to automatically based on artificial intelligence, learning what a user is doing on the page, what is likely patterns for conversion. So which intents do users have when they’re on the page. And then we show them content about your products, such as, frequently asked questions, testimonials, case studies on what we called smart cards that are sliding and from the bottom or the top. And this is basically how we let a website to react in real time to what is happening on the page with each given visitor down to the level into which type of product or feature they’re interested in.

John Jantsch: And I think if, in the very simplest terms, if somebody is visiting a certain page, they’re probably interested in that topic. And so it really is, instead of just giving them the generic slide in, it really is a way to personalize their experience on pretty much every page or every visit or as you said, their whole path. Because a lot of times on sites, people will do five or six things that certainly indicate that they are exploring a certain topic or have a certain intent. And so then to be able to react to that, as you said in real time, is I think what is becoming a behavior that people are starting to expect unfortunately. And I say, unfortunately, because it certainly ups the bar for marketers.

Lukas Haensch: And it’s funny though, what we see is, there is elements, there’s expected elements, obviously somebody is downloading a certain white paper. But there’s other things, such as somebody deep focusing your page. We saw a strong correlation between somebody going deep with focusing on your page, and then, a submission on one of those refocuses again. And that’s something that the data is sort of reveals and then smart cards can automatically react to.

John Jantsch: And I think that again, because I visited the tool and watched it in action, I think that the smart cards are pretty elegant in terms of how they are delivered. They’re don’t just take over the screen or really, get in somebody’s face. But because they’re kind of personalized, I think they will be seen, I suspect as much more welcomed.

Lukas Haensch: It’s an interesting one. We worked on a lot of UX testing and a lot of UX works because there is a lot of preconceived notions that smart guys had to overcome. It doesn’t shoot and feel a look and feel like a chat bot because there’s a lot of preconceived notions with the chat bot. A lot of people don’t even start a conversation with a chat bot because they think it’s about right, it’s a robot and they don’t want to talk to it.

Lukas Haensch: So the metrics clearly show a lot of people wouldn’t start the conversation. Or if it looks like a cookie banner, we’ve clicked 100 million times on cookie banners. So basically, we work the smart cards to look and feel as a part of your website, so they completely are customizable into what your style and theme of your website is. And then basically just become a part of the website by sliding up and down versus, popping up from nowhere.

John Jantsch: Well, Lukas, thanks so much for joining us and talking about page speed and hopefully we will run into you soon out there on the road.

Lukas Haensch: Thanks a lot. Thanks for having me.

Transcript of Using Story to Win on Social Media

Transcript of Using Story to Win on Social Media written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

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John Jantsch: This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by 1.3 billion people use Facebook Messenger every day, ManyChat is how you reach them.

John Jantsch: Hello and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape marketing podcast. This is John Jansen. My guest today is Claire Diaz-Ortiz.

John Jantsch: She is an author, speaker and former early employee of Twitter. She’s also got a new book called Social Media Success for Every Brand: the five StoryBrand Pillars That Turn Posts Into Profits. So Claire, thanks for joining me.

Claire Diaz-Ortiz: Yeah, thanks so much for having me. It’s great to be here.

John Jantsch: So this is part of your brand. I’m sure you’re tired of telling this story, but I have to throw it out there for our listeners. You have been called the woman who got the Pope on Twitter, so you want to tell that story just one more time?

Claire Diaz-Ortiz: Sure, sure. Yeah. So I mean I basically ended up as an early employee at Twitter after becoming an early user of the platform back in 2006. At the time, I had a blog that became popular about traveling around the world and living in this orphanage out in Africa. And the folks who started were actually the people who had started And if you had a blog back in 2005 2006 you probably were blogging on on Blogspot.

Claire Diaz-Ortiz: And so when they started promoting the blog, when they found it and thought it was great and I started promoting it, then they said, “Hey, we’re actually incubating this little company and we think it’s a cool new tool. Why don’t you start tweeting, you know about the same kind of stuff you’ve been blogging about.” So for me, early on, Twitter was just a fun way to kind of tell the world what I was doing.

Claire Diaz-Ortiz: And ultimately it was becoming, it was the starting as a user that ended me as an employee of the company. I spent about five and a half years there and in the last few years I was really spending a lot of time basically tracking down high profile people and getting them to tweet. And for a while I was working on the vertical of religion. So looking at what kind of religious content and religious influencers we could get on the platform and get using the platform well to kind of encourage their own niches to come on board as well.

Claire Diaz-Ortiz: And so I ended up spending about a year with the Vatican getting Pope Benedict at the time, but then the account transferred over to Pope Francis on the platform and it was a really incredible experience. The thing I always say is that the Vatican and during that entire process of, of working with them and flying out there a few times and really being in this bunker mentality with them of getting this big thing launched, they were so much more fast moving and innovative than people give them credit for.

Claire Diaz-Ortiz: So I really had a fantastic experience working with the communications team there all the way up until the moment where I got to just stand next to Pope Benedict as he sent his first tweet. That’s the long short of it.

John Jantsch: Oh, that’s a good career story.

Claire Diaz-Ortiz: I know, I know.

John Jantsch: I actually started my blog in 2003 if we can reminisce, and I was actually using a software, I don’t think it’s around anymore, it was called Publishing Machine. And it turned into Expression Engine. And then I also had a few I started about 10 blogs for…I was kind of like you. I was trying to get all my friends who are in marketing to say, “This blogging thing is, you know, you need take this seriously.”

John Jantsch: So I set up about 25 Typepad blogs for friends as well. So I have a very long history of this and I think I got on Twitter at South by Southwest in, what was that? March of 2006 or seven. Was it seven? Yeah. Okay. So that was about six months into Twitter’s existence I suppose. Right?

Claire Diaz-Ortiz: Wow. Yeah. That’s really awesome. That’s very, very cool. Yeah. Twitter launched in the fall of 2006 but it was, I would say most of the first year it was kind of a small little experiment still.

John Jantsch: Yeah. My business is called Duct Tape marketing and all my other social media handles are Duct Tape Marketing. But at the time Twitter launched you couldn’t have a handle that long. And so my-

Claire Diaz-Ortiz: Oh really?

John Jantsch: Yeah, so my Twitter name is duct tape. So that’s another little known trivia fact. But let’s talk about social media in general. And I want to ask you this question directly because it is the heading of your introduction. What do most people get wrong about social media?

Claire Diaz-Ortiz: Sure. So I think that the big, big thing that people really get wrong about social media, and this is the real impetus behind why I created this book is that people mistake… They think that social media is a tool for what we call direct marketing and not really for brand marketing. So if you think about the difference between direct marketing and brand marketing, direct marketing is I show you an advertisement and you immediately buy it. So I think of direct sales.

Claire Diaz-Ortiz: Whereas brand marketing is the type of marketing that helps you create awareness around a brand or create engagement around a brand. So one of the biggest problems I see out there with businesses or with individual personal brands who use social media is they get on, they think, “Hey this is like having a tiny little billboard” and they just kind of push market out sales messaging all day and then they wonder why people don’t buy.

Claire Diaz-Ortiz: And the reality is that most of social media marketing, most of the time is about brand marketing. And so in this book I give you a plan for taking that awareness that you are going to garner about your and then moving people up, what I call an engagement ladder to get them increasingly engaged with your brand to the point where they will then take action to buy.

Claire Diaz-Ortiz: So for me, that’s kind of the big idea behind this book and the big plan I give you is about really getting people to understand that social media is a place to make potential customers interested in you and then to get them increasingly engaged over time.

John Jantsch: Yeah. I think one of the mistakes some people make some times, excuse me, is that when they hear people say you can’t sell on social media. And I’m not saying you’re saying that, but that’s the message that a lot of people here and I think my view is you can sell anywhere you earn the right to sell. And that’s kind of what you’re saying in the engagement ladder. I mean the people that you see it all the time. People that do sell directly on Facebook or in social media, in organic situations, not, not in paid situations even. And I think it’s because they have built that know, like, and trust.

John Jantsch: They moved people kind of along the journey to where they now want to get that direct message. That’s the mistake. I think a lot of people make because they just look, “Oh it’s free, there’s millions of people here, blast my message out and I’ll maybe catch some of them.”

John Jantsch: But I do think that that this idea of the customer journey has become even more and more important. Because we have all these new platforms but the buyers kind of in charge of them now and I think that’s the thing that’s changed the most is that, that, you know, people can tune us out, they can turn us off, they can decide to ignore us very, very easily if we’re just blasting out buy messages.

Claire Diaz-Ortiz: Well, I was just going to add that. Yeah. I mean, I think one of the big ways you can kind of think about this more easily as if you start to think of social media as a cocktail party. I like to think of sort of what’s your goal in an average cocktail party? It probably or it should be two to get into that cocktail party to make a potential connection with someone, to get along with someone. And then to create enough interest on both ends that you might want to exchange business cards and then follow-up at a later date. Right?

Claire Diaz-Ortiz: So the goal of you in a cocktail party should not be rushing up to your bosses ex-wife’s husband’s former roommate, and immediately trying to sell him your favorite healing essential oil. Right? And in the same way you need to think about social media. So the goal on social media is not to immediately get in there and start blasting a sales message with the idea that that’s going to get you any results.

John Jantsch: So let’s unpack the model. I’m a huge system person. I think people really like structure and process and find it very effective. So I guess we kind of have to go back to the title. So your model is built on the five pillars. So not everybody is familiar with those. So maybe maybe kind of unpack the model globally and then we can kind of jump into a few things.

Claire Diaz-Ortiz: Sure. So the way it works is my model is called the share model, which is five pillars, but it is based on the StoryBrand framework. So the way we did this is that my model is called the share model, S-H-A-R-E and the first step in that model is all about story. And this is really about digging into the StoryBrand framework. And essentially if you’re not familiar with StoryBrand, this book will give you a 25-page intro that will help you kind of get grounded.

Claire Diaz-Ortiz: But if you really want to dig in Don Miller’s book, Building a StoryBrand is pretty much a marketing Bible. I highly, highly recommended. I love it. And basically what it will tell you is it will give you a way to tell a really clear story about your brand that shows your brand in a positive light, but really makes sure that your brand tells a story that connects with your customer and your customer is the hero. This is kind of one of the big ideas in StoryBrand.

Claire Diaz-Ortiz: So in the first step of this share model that I share in the book, Social Media Success for Every Brand, you’re really just getting a handle on your story. I want brands to understand what they’re really clear story is. And then once you have that story, then you know in this step of the model it’s about understanding the thing I said earlier that brand marketing and direct marketing are different things and that social media most of the time is brand marketing.

Claire Diaz-Ortiz: And then learning about that engagement ladder, which I mentioned. So the idea that social media is about getting people on the first rung of your engagement ladder. So peaking their interest to getting someone to turn into a potential follower and then slowly moving them up that engagement ladder. So the first rung is getting them to follow you. The second rung, these may vary somewhat, but the second rung may be getting them to like a comment you make on social media. The next rung might be engaging with you on social media, talking at you.

Claire Diaz-Ortiz: The next rung might be clicking on a link to your website. The next rung up on that engagement ladder might be signing up for your email newsletter. As you get higher and higher up that engagement ladder, you’re getting towards the point where you’re actually getting that direct sale, right? So you’re getting someone to actually purchase and then to actually hopefully share their excitement for your brand with a friend. So this is really the concept in the first step of the share model.

Claire Diaz-Ortiz: The second step is all about how and in how probably the most important thing that I walk you through in the book is that make sure that you take the social media evaluation I have. So one of the big things I hear often from the startups I advise, they’ll come to me, they’ll say, “Hey, we just launched a new campaign on Twitter I and it’s not seeing any sales and we are totally bombed.” And I say, “Okay, well tell me a little bit about your business.”

Claire Diaz-Ortiz: They share with me, “Well, actually we’re recruiters and we place top HR executives in great corporations.” And if I hear something like that, I immediately think, “Hey, I bet you’re on the wrong platform, because you’re a recruiter. LinkedIn is really going to be your home. So this social media evaluation is going to take you through some simple questions that are going to direct you to understand what your priority social media platform is. Most of us don’t have endless time in this world. And so I want you to know which of the top four social media platforms. So LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook should be your priority.

Claire Diaz-Ortiz: And then you want to really focus in on that priority platform. And then as time allows, get get going on some of the other platforms. And I also in the book teach you some ways to kind of tweak that so that you can streamline things a bit and automate things a bit when it comes to that. So in this audience step, it’s really about figuring out your party platform and then coming up with a social media editorial calendar and then schedule that work.

John Jantsch: Let’s face it, it’s getting harder and harder to reach our prospects and customers, so we have to be a lot of places. We have to communicate using the tools that they want to use. Did you know that 1.3 billion people use Facebook Messenger every day? Would you like to know how you could reach them? Get a free one month pro trial by going to and click get started. Enter the code duct tape. That’s D-U-C-T-T-A-P-E for your free one month pro trial.

John Jantsch: It’s such a great way to engage prospects, build relationships with customers through interactive tailored content in the place that they want to get it. enter the code duct tape for a free one month pro trial.

John Jantsch: One thing that I find a lot of people really miss is that there’s such a focus on the thought of using social media to connect with new people. I find it actually one of the best ways to build deeper relationships and deeper engagement with your existing customers. And I think a lot of people really underestimate the power of that. Because those are probably going to end up becoming your best source of lead generation is your existing customers.

John Jantsch: And we really have a lot of success getting that point across so that, that people are sharing their stories, their culture, their behind the scenes and social media in a way that’s actually keeping their existing customers engaged and thinking about them.

Claire Diaz-Ortiz: Well, so this is absolutely one of the steps. So I’ve just been through the first two steps in this model. And step number four is all about that. So first let me talk about step number three, which is audience. And this is all about understanding that your social marketing should be about your audience, not about your brand, which is again that StoryBrand tenant. And so here it’s all about increasing engagement so that you increase that feeling of empathy between you and your followers. But when we get to the fourth step, which is reach, it’s exactly what you’re saying. Reach and expanding and reach on social media is not about getting new followers.

Claire Diaz-Ortiz: It’s actually about doubling down on the ones you already have. And what I like to say is I don’t know what Mark Zuckerberg is going to do tomorrow with some new terrible tweak on the Facebook algorithm. But I can tell you for sure that the social media platforms are always, no matter how many times the algorithms change, they’re always going to favor more engaged accounts. If you have more engagement, you will get more reach, right? More people will see your content. And so that’s why thinking about reach and how to expand your reach is actually about engagement and about getting your current followers to really care. And so that’s exactly what you’re saying.

John Jantsch: So, so then let’s follow-up with the final part of the puzzle, which I think is excellence. Yeah.

Claire Diaz-Ortiz: Yeah. So the final step in this share model is excellence, which is about fine tuning your social media marketing efforts. And one of the things that I think is probably critical to remember here is that social media started as a real-time platform. And sometimes we forget that, especially as brands because we do so much scheduling and editorial calendaring and marketing planning and relation to our social media. But at its heart, it’s a real-time platform, which whichever platform you use is a real-time platform.

Claire Diaz-Ortiz: And so you need to be able to be agile and to be able to respond both to unhappy customers or global crises or to things going wrong. And you need to make sure that your accounts are appropriately responsive to those things. And so I share some of my favorite social media disasters in my book, but most of them always come down to a brand ignoring what’s going on in real life and then not responding well when kind of something blows up in their face. Right?

John Jantsch: So, so it’s interesting of course we’re talking about the context of social media, but when I look at your model, I mean it’s really the model for marketing in general. I mean, it is what you need to do on your website with your content and your advertising campaigns. I think it applies not just to social media. Would you agree with that idea?

Claire Diaz-Ortiz: Yeah. I mean I think that’s… I actually have not thought of it like that. I think I’ve been so focused on social media. I think I also am so focused on loving the StoryBrand model that the reason that this model developed at all was that StoryBrand is this great kind of marketing framework. But what they really focus on is your website and your email newsletter and I believe that there’s basically three pillars to digital marketing, right? Your website, your email newsletter and social media.

Claire Diaz-Ortiz: And so this model came out of seeing that need and saying to Don, “Hey Don, I think you need to create a plug and play solution for social media.” So I really like what you’re saying and I honestly have not thought about it in that light before.

John Jantsch: So we have a framework we call the marketing hourglass that I’ve been for about two decades preaching this idea of the customer journey and there’s seven stages, know, like, trust, try, buy, repeat and refer. We apply that to the website, we apply that to content, we apply that to social media, we apply that to paid campaigns. Because it essentially suggests that we’re trying to organize behavior and guide people and that their objectives and their goals change at each one of these stages. So I really think it is a framework that that definitely could be applied across all of this.

Claire Diaz-Ortiz: I love that.

John Jantsch: So let’s talk about how paid social fits into this. How do you blend… I mean a lot of what you’re writing about is, is more on the organic front, but we all know that a lot of the reach acquired in social media platforms has increasingly become paid reach. So how do you blend that aspect into this?

Claire Diaz-Ortiz: Sure. So I think you blend it really fluidly. I think if you want to increase your reach on social media, as we mentioned about before, they’re two real ways to do that. One is to create great content and two is to use influencer marketing. But then there’s this third way, which I don’t talk about, which is basically pay for advertising to boost either of those two strategies.

Claire Diaz-Ortiz: So I see paid advertising as potentially super effective. As long as you’ve got your engagement ladder in place and your regular, your standard of marketing and message down in a way such that it is having an effect. I think the biggest mistake you see people use with paid advertising is they don’t have anything organic that’s working. And so then they go in and think that paid will work and that’s not actually how it works.

John Jantsch: Right. if you write a great ad to send somebody to a crappy website, you’re probably not going to get any more conversions are you? These platforms and social media come and go. You talked about the big four that are pretty established now, but are there some that you see or that you’re starting to pay more attention to particularly for certain types of businesses?

John Jantsch: I mean, it’s challenging I think because a lot of these you think, “Oh, this is the next new thing” and then it’s gone tomorrow. But people talked about Twitter that way. At a certain point, it was really stupid. It was going away. It was not going to exist. So are there some that you think are kind of coming that people should be paying attention to?

Claire Diaz-Ortiz: Well, I think it’s interesting because I think probably my, you know, I think those are the big four. But I would say the other two most important platforms are definitely not new platforms, but I would say they’re more niche platforms and one of them being Pinterest, which is really effective for companies that have stunning visuals somehow connected to their business mission. Right? But then the other other one is YouTube, which is by no means a new platform. YouTube’s been around for 20 years now and yet it is really just doing well and it rocks what it does. And so I think those are the next two ones that are most interesting.

Claire Diaz-Ortiz: Obviously there’s new stuff like TikTok, but we don’t have a lot of data yet on what that will look like for businesses. And also if it will stick around. Right? I think a few years ago, obviously we could have had the same discussion about Snapchat say or Vine or Periscope Periscope. Remember how big Periscope was? These things that it’s great to take advantage of them while they are there, but don’t build your house on someone else’s land kind of thing.

John Jantsch: Yeah. Yeah. And I think it’s probably gotten harder for some, social network to come out of left field and, be this huge thing. Speaking of Snapchat, I mean, Instagram, which is a big giant, how can go, “Oh, I like that feature they’re doing, we’ll just do it.” And it kind of squashes them. Whereas 2005, 2006 it was kind of like all of this was new.

John Jantsch: But now these, these kind of giant established players probably make it much harder for somebody to come in and innovate, I would think.

Claire Diaz-Ortiz: Absolutely.

John Jantsch: So you talked about the social media brand evaluation. Is that only in the book or is that something that somebody could actually take and get some insight from your website?

Claire Diaz-Ortiz: The brand evaluation is only in the book, but we do have a free video series at and that gives you five videos and one of the videos talks a little bit about it and gives you some examples of some of the questions. But the actual social media brand evaluation is indeed just in the book.

John Jantsch: Well, tell people where they can find the book and find out more about you. We’ll actually have Social Media Made Simple in the show notes as well.

Claire Diaz-Ortiz: Awesome. So the book is Social Media Success for Every Brand. You can find it on Amazon. You can’t get a free video series about the book at and you can find me at

John Jantsch: Well Claire, thanks for dropping by the show. And next time I’m in Argentina, hopefully we can grab a cup of coffee.

Claire Diaz-Ortiz: Thank you so much for having me. Have a great day.

Transcript of How to Integrate Chat Into Your Marketing

Transcript of How to Integrate Chat Into Your Marketing written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

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John Jantsch: This episode is a Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, and is brought to you by 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 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, 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.