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Transcript of Creating a Winning SEO Strategy

Transcript of Creating a Winning SEO Strategy written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

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John Jantsch: Hey, this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by We do all of our transcriptions here on the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast using and I’m going to give you a special offer in just a bit.

John Jantsch: Hello and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch and my guest today is Brian Dean. He is the founder of a place where you can get actionable SEO advice. In fact, I so highly endorse it and his work, that you can find my picture on the homepage saying so.

John Jantsch: And he’s coming to us today from the little country of Genovia, somewhere in Eastern Europe. So, Brian, thanks for joining me.

Brian Dean: Hey, good to be here John.

John Jantsch: You missed the joke. Where are you really calling from?

Brian Dean: I’m in Lisbon.

John Jantsch: In Lisbon.

Brian Dean: I was just going to let it slide. I was like…

John Jantsch: Genovia is a fictitious country, surely you know this, in Princess Diaries with Anne Hathaway. Great movie.

Brian Dean: And Andre the Giant.

John Jantsch: So no pop culture reference. Just went right by you.

Brian Dean: I would keep those out of the rest of the interview.

John Jantsch: I did actually have a question, this is my own curiosity, a lot of SEO folks do… you have a lot of clients in the U.S. I’m assuming.

Brian Dean: I actually don’t do client work.

John Jantsch: Oh, right. You have gotten out of that.

Brian Dean: Just courses.

John Jantsch: So if somebody was in your shoes or just even somebody like myself. I live in Kansas City, Missouri. I have clients in Canada and different places. What’s the best way to localize results? In other words, if you’re trying to check on results and track results, sometimes it’s a little challenging if your IP address is in Kansas City, Missouri. I was just curious if you were doing work for U.S. companies, are there tools out there that would or hacks that would allow you to kind of see what people in Kansas City, Missouri would see or people in Canada would see?

Brian Dean: Yep. Yeah, there’s a couple ways to do it. If you just want to get U.S. results and you’re not that concerned with the very geographic area like a state or a city, you can use a site I use all the time. It’s like if you open your browser and it suggests the top sites you go to, this is how much of an SEO nerd I am, it’s called I wouldn’t even link to them in show notes, John. It’s kind of a shady site, but what it is basically is it’s like a web proxy so you can go to Google, use an IP address that’s in the States and search through it, and the cool thing is is that it’s not a VPN so it doesn’t have your browser history or any of that stuff implementing it. It’s almost like a virtual machine, like you’re using some other computer so the results are really good. They’re just totally unaltered by anything else. When I think of where do you rank, that’s for me the gold standard.

John Jantsch: Yeah, because a lot of times people don’t realize your browser history. I search all my favorite sites all the time and so in my view of search, they’re going to probably rise to the top, aren’t they?

Brian Dean: Oh definitely. That’s a big part of it, especially a page that you’ve visited before, Google will bump that up big time. You definitely want to go… that’s the easiest way because you can just check. If you want to get really into the nitty gritty, like someone searching in Kansas City, you can use a VPN, like… I don’t want to endorse any, but there’s tons of them. You can just find the city and state that you’re in or near and then search through an incognito window in Chrome or a private window in Firefox, and that’s basically what that person would see if they search for that.

Brian Dean: Rankings fluctuate all the time and all that stuff, but you’re getting a really good idea of what it looks like.

John Jantsch: I’m bummed out sometimes because I see pages of my own. I think, oh look, that’s ranked really high and then I do an incognito and it’s like not on page one anymore. I’m like dang it.

Brian Dean: Yeah, that happens to me. That’s why I go to ProxySite because it’s really fast and I only check through there because then I don’t have that… I’ve had that happen to me a million times.

John Jantsch: We’re in the middle of 2019 when we’re recording this show and you have a new course, or you’ve relaunched your course on SEO training. I guess the question, just because there is some evolution going on all the time, what’s kind of new big news in the world of SEO in general?

Brian Dean: I’d say the big shift that’s happening right now is user intent and Google’s ability to measure that and the importance of creating your site with user intent in mind. Basically what that means is the better your site can match what someone wants when they search for something, the higher it’s going to rank. All the traditional stuff like including your keyword on the page and getting links and having a brand and all that stuff will still help you, but at the end of the day, Google is getting really good at figuring out what people want from a search and making sure those results get bubbled to the top and those that don’t drop.

Brian Dean: Actually, over the last year we increased our organic traffic by like 80% just by going back to old content and totally changing it for user intent. To give you an example, we had a page that was optimized around the keyword SEO campaign, so John when you think of someone searching for SEO campaign, what do you think they are looking for?

John Jantsch: I would say that they are probably… they could be looking for somebody to run the campaign for them, they could be looking for an example of a campaign maybe, they could be looking for tips.

Brian Dean: Exactly, yeah. It’s good that you said that because there’s no one user intent usually for a keyword, there’s multiple. If I’m searching for keto desserts and you’re searching for keto desserts, we might want two different things, you know what I mean? There’s always going to be multiple user intents, but the point is what I had on the page didn’t really satisfy any, so it was… what it was was one example of one link building strategy, not even SEO. Just one guy how he did a link building strategy that I had taught and how it worked for him. I kind of shoe horned that keyword in there because I knew that people search for it and all the other traditional stuff, and it ranked for a while.

Brian Dean: Then about two years ago, it looked like the page got penalized. It went from top five to nowhere and it’s been hanging out in the third page ever since. I was like man, what’s happening? It has the keywords, it has links, it has all the traditional stuff, but it didn’t match user intent. People searching for SEO campaign were landing on it and they wanted what you said. They want an example, they want some sort of template, they don’t want a link building case study. It doesn’t make any sense. So I went back and totally reconfigured the page where now it’s a step by step how to create an SEO campaign.

Brian Dean: I included some of the stuff in the old post in there, just so I didn’t have to delete it all, but it’s literally 90% different and now it ranks number one for that keyword. Literally the next week it was number one. Google was able to measure, people reacted to it differently, it had the updated date which helped it get a temporary boost, and it stuck because it satisfied user intent.

John Jantsch: And you just said a whole bunch of things there that I think come under the category of going back and repurposing your content, because there are a lot of people that listen to folks like you and me and they started blogging a long time ago and they’ve got 100 blog posts that they wrote 10 for the last eight, ten years that they haven’t really gone back and looked at. They haven’t seen ways to sort of internally link them and so I think for a lot of folks, they could get a huge boost just by going back and refreshing old content, couldn’t they?

Brian Dean: Definitely. I would even put that under the category of what’s big right now in SEO, because I just came across an agency that’s all they do. They’re an SEO digital marketing agency. At the end of the day, it comes back to SEO as you know. They’re basically an SEO agency and all they do is update your old content. They position it a little differently. They do X, Y, and Z because there is kind of a lot to it, but the point is that when you sign up as a client they don’t create any new content for you, they don’t set up your social media, they don’t optimize your site.

Brian Dean: All they do is go back to your old stuff and reoptimize it and make it a better fit for user intent, and they’re getting awesome results because it’s so much faster to do that than to start from scratch and okay, let’s come up with 100 keywords. Let’s hire freelance writers. Let’s make sure we have screen shots and then publish it slowly over the course of weeks and months. You can do it in days and you’ll get a huge lift on some important pages.

Brian Dean: I would even put that in the category of what’s working right now at the top, and if you combine it with updating it but also saying how can I make this better and better match the keyword what someone wants, it’s a winning combo.

John Jantsch: I would add to that restructuring too, because I tell you where we’ve gotten huge, huge mileage is by taking that content, updating it, but then linking it all together, I mean in a logical way. So creating what I’ve been calling hub pages that are like the ultimate guide to local marketing and I basically create it as an outline or a course table of contents almost and then link all that content back together so that it becomes a little separate hub on the site and I think that that restructuring, we aren’t even doing as much as we should be doing to refresh the content, but just that restructuring immediately sends it through the roof.

Brian Dean: Nice, yeah. That’s another thing is the internal linking. I’m not… I usually don’t… I would say I don’t recommend internal linking but I don’t say you don’t need to internal link, because most sites don’t have the authority to make it worthwhile. Duct Tape Marketing does because it’s a huge, respected site with tons of links and it’s been around a long time. So when you internal link from page A to page B, it’s sending a lot of link authority to page B, but with most people they just internal link and nothing’s really going around. You know what I mean? It’s like a pipe with nothing in it.

John Jantsch: I was going to say the further part of that though is the structure. It’s not just an internal link. I mean, you’re right, those are nice, but we’re setting these up almost as table of contents for a topic that makes sense. I mean there’s probably 2000 words on that page, but then links off to in a very logical way. I think what a lot of times people, we get so fixated on the SEO value and we forget sometimes about the utility of that for the person who actually comes to that page who then clicks on 10 pages, bookmarks it, shares it, dwells on it for an hour, and I think that to me that’s the part that sometimes people miss when we start talking about SEO is that when you get actual users what they do on the page is so important as well.

Brian Dean: Yeah, that’s a really good point. It’s almost like a resource page 2.0 that you’re creating. The page itself has content to help you but it’s an intro to something greater, your other resources that you already have. Yeah, I’m looking to do more of that myself. I did a little bit of that, I have a guide called how to learn SEO, and it does link out to some other sites but it’s mostly my own stuff and it’s for that exact reason.

Brian Dean: If someone wants to learn SEO, I didn’t have a page to send them to be like here is the stuff you need to read. There wasn’t one place to send them, so now there is. So yeah, it’s a really good idea. I plan on actually doing more of that for these different topics, because that worked really well, kind of similar to what you saw when we approached it with this is a valuable resource, but more importantly it links to all this other stuff so it’s like one stop shopping.

John Jantsch: And then as you pointed out, we do link to some external resources and then we’ll reach out to those external resources and say, “Look at this amazing page that ranks really highly and we linked you. You ought to link to it,” and amazingly some of them do.

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John Jantsch: Let’s debunk some myths. Are there any myths still hanging around from kind of first version of SEO that people are still propagating?

Brian Dean: That’s a good question. I mean, there are so many the issue is choosing one. I mean there’s 100. The thing is SEO, it got people kind of crazy. You were kind of getting there before when you’re saying you’ve got to remember users at the end of the day, but it’s easy with SEO stuff to completely forget users and just kind of act crazy. I was there. I’m not coming from a judgmental place because when I started in SEO, I launched my first site in 2008. I lived in a little apartment in New York. My favorite marketing book was Duct Tape Marketing. I had it in my bedroom believe it or not back then. And I was SEO, you need to do SEO. I didn’t even think about creating an awesome site, creating awesome content. It was all about tricking the algorithm and I didn’t really break that bad habit until 2012.

Brian Dean:  To answer your question, I would say the number one myth that people have is that Google likes a site that has a lot of content coming out all the time, this kind of big site, fresh content, need a lot of content myth that Google somehow has this preference for these big sites. It’s really not true. I’ve worked with sites that pump out 10 articles a day. I’ve worked with some that publish once a week or once every two weeks and there’s no correlation. It’s all about creating stuff that Google users want.

Brian Dean: Sometimes if you can swing it, like if you have a staff and you have a writing staff and you have an editorial process, you can put out multiple pieces of content a day that all check those boxes, but for most small businesses, including mine, it’s better to stay small.

Brian Dean: I’ll give you a good example. Like you mentioned, John, we just had a launch in my course and to do that we sent a lot of emails so we didn’t publish anything on the blog for about a month now, or three weeks, almost a month, and organic traffic has actually stayed remarkably consistent across the month. It’s like 0.5% higher than it was before without publishing anything. So Google doesn’t care that we didn’t publish anything because everything we already have is satisfying users and it continues to rank and that’s where most site’s traffic come from. I’m not saying don’t publish anything ever again, but the idea that you need to have this pedal to the metal publishing philosophy, I think it does a lot more harm than good.

John Jantsch: It actually taught people to publish crap.

Brian Dean: Yep, exactly. That’s what it came… exactly. Because it was Thursday and you’ve got to publish on Thursday and you don’t have anything good to say so it’s five reasons why X is important type of stuff. Yeah, and because it did actually work for a while. There was an update called Google Caffeine back in the day, it was probably 2006, that did give a preference to not just fresh content but sites that were putting out stuff, but then blogs blew up and it didn’t make any sense because every site was doing that. It didn’t need to be in the algorithm anymore.

John Jantsch: Yeah, and it really became important for them to start focusing on quality, them being the search engines, to focus on quality and I think that that probably goes more towards this idea of less but better.

Brian Dean: Yeah, exactly. Because you think Google 2006, 2007, if you searched for a really niche keyword, like how to write a press release or something, there were some results but there weren’t that many. They didn’t have 10 awesome results to put on the front page. Now they have plenty. It’s all about curating the best 10 and if you just put out the 50th best, you’re going to be in 50th place in Google, but if you work the extra mile to make the best, you have a shot of hitting number one.

John Jantsch: Okay, Brian. Not of course in the last 10 years or so, but did you ever put any words on pages and make them the same color as the background?

Brian Dean: No. That was one thing I… I’ve done black hat stuff, but I never did that.

John Jantsch: That was always my favorite. You’d go look at a website and you’d look at the source code and you’d go what is all this stuff?

Brian Dean: They just had the same keyword like 100 times.

John Jantsch: But you couldn’t see it.

Brian Dean: No, I never did that. I’ve done blog networks and whatever. But if it worked, I would have done it but by the time I got into SEO that was already kind of old hat.

John Jantsch: Since you mentioned blog networks, Google has explicitly said they’re a no-no, particularly… there are some ideas that it’s good content that’s curated but there certainly are people that are doing it just as an SEO play and Google is saying no, no, but it challenges… they can’t police it that well and it works. So how… I run across small business owners all the time that have been sold stuff like that that Google is saying we don’t approve of that, but it’s hard to sell them off of it because they’re like, “Well, look at the results it’s getting.” How does one sort of handle the fine line between what works and guidelines?

Brian Dean: It’s a tough one and the funny thing… good rule of thumb that I like to keep in mind is when Google says not to do something it’s because it works. If it didn’t work, they wouldn’t have to warn you, right.

John Jantsch: But I guess it would also eventually signal that they’re going to spank you eventually, right?

Brian Dean: Yeah, it’s kind of a shot across the bow. They warned people for years before 2012. They had an update called Penguin that just destroyed websites, including my own from back in the day. But at the same time they wouldn’t warn against it. So if they’re saying don’t do this, it means it’s working. If it is, they know it and they’re like, “Hmm, well we can’t really stop it with the algorithm so we’ll warn people until we figure something out that the algorithm can do.”

Brian Dean: What I would say to people is just the risk usually isn’t worth it. What I like to do, I usually say, “You know what? It’s up to you.” I don’t want to get on my high horse and start telling people what’s right and wrong. I say, “Look, it’s your business, it’s your site, it’s your call. If I were you, I wouldn’t risk it because what you’re doing is you’re getting a tiny boost in organic traffic and a lot of times compared to what you would do if you put in the same effort with white hat stuff, but you have this sort of Damocles above your head that one day you could wake up and it goes to zero and as someone that’s been through that, I can tell you it’s devastating.” That usually at least plants a seed where they’re like, “Hmm, maybe there’s something to not doing this.”

John Jantsch: Yeah, and it’s a shortcut that is probably zero benefit for your customer and there are a lot of businesses out there, the SEO folks, they’re trying to get their folks to rank, that turns into customers, but that’s the way I always view it is like is this something that would make my site more useful to customers and if the answer is just flat out no, I think that’s a pretty good rule of thumb too.

Brian Dean: I agree. Another one I sometimes… I don’t know where I heard this but it was basically like white hat SEO is when, which is a legit way to go about ranking, is where you could show Google everything you’re doing and they’d be fine with it. Anything that’s not that is probably a black hat. Like you’re getting away with it, but if Google did some sort of audit that shows everything you do with SEO and there was something you couldn’t show them, that’s probably something you should get away from, in my opinion.

John Jantsch: I wonder if we could take about five minutes, and I’m going to put you a little bit on the spot for a case study type of idea, because you can read a book how to do SEO, but the fact of the matter is what your business does, what your business objectives are is going to dictate maybe what your priorities should be in SEO. So for example, a B2B national company that sells say like software as opposed to a B2C local company that does I don’t know, basement waterproofing. Their SEO needs, challenges, priorities are probably different. Given that example, could you kind of say, “Yeah, that national software company needs to focus on X, Y, Z, whereas that local company probably needs to make sure they focus from an SEO standpoint on A, B, C.” Is that enough for you to kind of give us some guidance?

Brian Dean: Plenty. Yeah, the B2B software company I would 100% focus on creating content that your customers, around keywords that your customers search for. You’re a SaaS company, you hopefully [inaudible] and customers all the time. It’s a matter of figuring out what they’re searching for when they’re not searching for your software.

Brian Dean: So HubSpot is a great example. Very few people are searching for CRM software or CMSs, the stuff that they actually sell. Most people that are HubSpot’s customers are small business owners that are searching for stuff like how to get leads, how to blog, how to run Google ad words campaigns, how to run Facebook ads, all that stuff and HubSpot has completely crushed by almost ignoring these buyer keywords, which are only a tiny [inaudible] focusing instead on these information [inaudible] in front of their customers as a lead and then closing them on the phone. That’s the whole business model and it works really well. That’s what I would focus on as a B2B sales company, just tons have grown this way but HubSpot to me is the best example because they’re just absolutely crushing it.

John Jantsch: I think the key there is they focus not… because nobody wants what we sell. They want their problem solved and so they focus on what all the problems are, particularly problems early in the journey that can sort of endear them and get them [inaudible] who are these HubSpot? That’s a real key. Most websites are optimized for that person who’s got their credit card out ready to buy because they think your product or service solves their problem and I think they miss the entire journey up to that point.

Brian Dean: Those people, and you should have pages on your site dedicated to them, but it’s a slice… it’s a tiny drop in the ocean. If you look at the number of people who search for CRM software versus how to get customers, it’s like 10,000 to one. So for every one customer you’re going to get from this direct credit card in hand type of person, you can get hundreds from the how to get leads and how to get customers. It will take a little longer, you’ll have to nurture them, but that’s where the real money is.

John Jantsch: HubSpot is a great example. So on this B2C, this basement waterproofing company that just does business in their town, what do they need to focus on?

Brian Dean: They should focus 100% on local SEO, so Google Local, not… creating content makes no sense for them. For people searching for how to finish a basement or how to prevent leaks and all that stuff, a lot of companies do that because they’ll take the HubSpot approach and apply it to their local business and it just makes no sense. They just put out…

Brian Dean: I had a guy email me last week. It was a locksmith and he emailed me with this article, oh, I’m a locksmith and I just created this awesome post that I know people will share if only I could get the word out. What should I do to promote it? I don’t know, I was kind of bored, so I checked out. I looked at the post and it was like five ways to not get locked out of your house. Like the stupidest thing I’ve ever read. Something like don’t forget your keys and just nonsense. First of all, no one would ever read that, but even if it was good, it wouldn’t really help him. You know what I mean? He’s in a local area and the odds of that person in that area searching for him, needing a locksmith, it just doesn’t… the stars just don’t align.

Brian Dean: I’d focus on Google Local and getting awesome reviews. At the end of the day, [inaudible] sorry. Google My Business, they change their name every week, but yeah, the one they’ve stuck with lately Google My Business, so local SEO. So people searching for your business in city. The reviews are a big part of that and [inaudible] are part of it but you don’t need [inaudible] nearly as many to rank. Instead of like HubSpot creating a blog about this and that or about basements and man caves and all this stuff I’ve seen people do for basement companies.

Brian Dean: All you really need is like one or two pages that people will want to link to. It could be a list of places to visit in your town. It could be… it’s just link bait. Customers will never probably even see this. If they do, they’ll be like, “Oh, this is great. This is helpful.” Things to do in your town or other vendors or have a partnership or go to an event or speak at your chamber of commerce. These are all things that aren’t really content as we usually see it. They’re just pages to get some links that can help your overall website rank higher. That should be the goal for that company.

John Jantsch: Yeah. Unfortunately for a lot of businesses, particularly the consumer businesses, if you’re not showing up in that maps listing, which is kind of small these days.

Brian Dean: It’s a three pack now. It used to be seven. It was called a seven pack and now it’s a three pack. There are instances where you can do, like if people search in Google Maps, you can somehow, it depends on what they’re searching for, you can see more than three, but you’re right, John, for most keywords that are directly in Google if you’re not in the top three, you’re kind of invisible.

John Jantsch: And the 70% of people that are visiting those sites on a mobile device today, that’s the whole screen. It makes it even tougher. I think you’re absolutely right. I’ve been saying it for years and Google now… I do think they’re set on this one because they’re actually investing in it and adding to it and tweaking it so I think… in fact, here’s my prediction. I think they’re going to start rolling out features to make that a social network. In a community, I think your clients are going to be able to actually talk to each other at some aspect through your Google My Business page. That’s just sort of my prediction.

Brian Dean: That would be interesting. So more than just reviews, they’d actually be able to say, “I had this problem. Did they help?” Things like that.

John Jantsch: Exactly. They’ll have the question and answer feature, they’ll have the upload your finished your basement to it. I think they’re going to make it… I don’t know if it will ever be a social network, but I think that’s going to be their approach to network small businesses together.

Brian Dean: Cool. Yeah. I could see it.

John Jantsch: One… this is unfair because this is my last question I’m going to ask you and we could have done a whole show on this, you’ve invested a lot recently in video and so again, thinking of those two… let’s just use those two B2B, that SaaS company and that waterproofing company, how would video help them in telling their story and their SEO play?

Brian Dean: The B2B company, it would be really similar to the content strategy. The only difference would be what are your customers watching on YouTube, instead of what are they searching for on Google. But it’s the same idea. There’s a huge difference, in some cases, between those two things. Because YouTube is a big search engine, yes, but most of the views on YouTube come from people browsing around, come from suggested videos, the home page, so it’s important to create videos around what people tend to watch and not just what they search for, so both.

Brian Dean: With the B2B company, it’s a SaaS company, I mean it depends on what it is, but you basically take those same topics you found for your blog content and see if people are watching that stuff on YouTube. If so, great. If not, it’s time to get back to the users and kind of figure out what they’re watching on YouTube. As long as it’s somewhat related to your business, you can do well.

John Jantsch: Can you do keyword research while just using YouTube for that type of thing or are there some tools that somebody needs to employ to kind of get that discovery made?

Brian Dean: You mean to find search volume, people searching or people browsing?

John Jantsch: Yeah, what people are actually looking at.

Brian Dean: So for the search volume stuff, there are some tools that can do it. Google doesn’t really provide YouTube search volume really so they do impressions and things like that. It’s tricky to know how many people have searched for something on YouTube. It’s not like the Google keyword planner where they tell you a range. It’s really… there are some tools that can guesstimate but none are super accurate.

Brian Dean: What I like to do is just look at how many views those videos have on that topic. If you search for how to write a press release and the number one video has 3800 views and it was from five years ago, it’s probably not… no one’s watching that stuff. But if it has 200,000, it’s like oh, well there’s something here. That’s usually how I determine whether to make a video. If there’s already a video on that topic that’s done well, that’s a good sign.

Brian Dean: So for the basement company, what I would actually recommend is looking to see if there are any keywords that people search for in your local area that have videos that show up. This is an old trick that used to work and it still does in a lot of local areas. I see lawyers use it a lot where what they’ll do is they’ll basically create a keyword optimized video about their service or maybe more helpful, like how to help with the situation, and then the YouTube video will rank in Google results. Then you have two results in Google, you have your three pack or regular organic and then you have YouTube.

Brian Dean: So what people would do for example with a basement company, a lot of times they would create this fluff two minute video about how great they are, show the guys go into the house, hey, how’s it going, go downstairs, they’re fixing the basement, it’s amazing, they fixed it, blah, blah, blah, and you can have some of that stuff but it shouldn’t really be a commercial. It should be some content that is helpful and will keep people engaged. That way YouTube and Google see that people are engaging with the video and they’re more likely to put it on the first page.

Brian Dean: That’s more of a play to get on Google. It’s not really like you’re trying to get in front of your target customer while they’re watching videos. They’ll only need you if something’s wrong with their basement and they’re not going to remember your video from two years ago. It doesn’t work like that, but if you could show up on Google, it’s another spot, more real estate for your business which is important at that point of purchase time.

John Jantsch: Yeah, and then of course that person probably should be buying some ads, too. But that’s a topic for a whole other day.

Brian Dean: Oh yeah. That’s true.

John Jantsch: Well Brian, thanks so much for joining us. You can find everything about Brian Dean at Backlinko. It’s like link with an O dot com. Anywhere else or any other resources you want to share today, Brian?

Brian Dean:  No, that’s a good one. I would head over there and hop on the newsletter. That’s the only thing I’d recommend.

John Jantsch: Yeah, and take a look at how Brian structures his site and focuses on his site because you learn a lot just from paying attention to that. So Brian, great to catch up with you and hopefully all is well and the weather is good in Genovia.

Brian Dean: Thanks, John. I’ll remember that for our next podcast.

John Jantsch: Take care.

Transcript of The Secrets to Impactful Speaking

Transcript of The Secrets to Impactful Speaking written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

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John Jantsch: Choosing the right domain name is critical to ensuring the success of your small business, but it’s gotten a little harder. Now you can choose a .us domain to help your business stand out. Reserve your .us web address today. Go to, and use my promo code, PODCAST, for my special offer.

John Jantsch: Hello and welcome to another episode of the duct tape marketing podcast. This is John Jantsch, and my guest today is Allison Shapira. She’s the CEO, and founder of Global Public Speaking, Communication Training Farm, and she’s also the author of Speak With Impact, How to Command The Room, and Influence Others. So Allison, thanks for joining me.

Allison Shapira: My pleasure. Thanks for having me.

John Jantsch: So, I’m going to ask you a seemingly silly question, but I’d like to hear you frame this. Who needs to speak with Impact?

Allison Shapira: Everyone, in one word. My idea in the book is that every single day you have an opportunity to speak with Impact, whether you’re at a parent teacher conference, or whether you are sitting next to someone on an airplane who might potentially fund your next venture. We never know who we’re talking to, and every day we have this opportunity to make an impact.

John Jantsch: So, I’m sure in some of your work, particularly when it comes around to say working with you, and that’s going to cost somebody a fee, and there’s trying to judge the ROI on this. I mean, how do you first get somebody to realize maybe what not speaking with Impact is costing them?

Allison Shapira: Usually someone comes to me, because something has happened that is not good. Let’s say they [inaudible] presentation, or they didn’t win business that they were hoping to win, and they realize that it’s their communication that’s the problem. Or perhaps that because of their communication skills, the real value of what they do is not coming through. And so, usually by the time they get to me, they’ve already realized there’s a problem, and they’re taking steps to fix that problem.

John Jantsch: Yeah. I guess that’s usually the case, right? We have to admit there’s a problem for wherever we’re going to seek a solution to it, isn’t it? Because, I suspect there’re a heck of a lot of people out there that have risen to CEO ranks, or leadership ranks in big companies, and they are really holding themselves back, or holding the impact back, because they either assume they don’t need this help, or they just don’t bother to get it.

Allison Shapira: Right. And, my business model is based on finding the people who already realized they have a problem as opposed to going up to someone, and trying to convince them there’s a problem that they don’t see. That’s a much harder sell. And luckily, there are plenty of people who recognize they need help. And that’s kind of inward looking leader that I want to work with.

John Jantsch: Yeah. So one of the challenges I’m sure for a lot of folks that are… They’d realize that, and they’re coming for help is public speaking makes people nervous. And frankly, I do a fair amount of public speaking, and I can’t say I certainly suffer from getting nervous the same way I used to. But I think one of the real tricks is probably getting over looking nervous when you’re trying to have impact. How do you help people through that whole fear component?

Allison Shapira: Everybody feels nervous before they speak in public, and this could be having an important job interview with one or two other people, or it could be standing on stage addressing a huge crowd. Regardless, everyone gets some degree of nervousness, or feel some degree of nervousness. The goal is not to completely eradicate that fear. That’s nearly impossible, and unproductive. The goal is to help you overcome that fear, and harness it to create a positive energy that you have when you give the speech, or go in for that interview, or for that presentation or pitch. So, the techniques that I use start with trying to find the source of that nervousness.

Allison Shapira: What are the variables that you can control? Are you’re nervous, because you don’t know who’s going to be in the room? Walk to the room early, and start to meet people. Are you nervous you’re going to forget what you’re going to say? Well, prepare a particular type of bullet points that you can bring with you, and easily use if you lose your place. So, the more you can control the variables, the more comfortable you feel. And then, when you add to that reading techniques, relaxation techniques that I learned as an opera singer, then you can start to use those to calm the nerves to some extent. And then again, harness that energy in a positive way.

John Jantsch: You know, I’ve done this show for almost 15 years now, and you’re only the second former opera singer I’ve had on the show.

Allison Shapira: I’m not the first?

John Jantsch: Oh, maybe you are actually. I’d have to rack my brain, but I think you may indeed be the first former opera singer that I’ve had in my show. So, I know the quality of our connection, even though it is pretty good. It’s still analog, and digital, and whatnot all right? I’d have you sing something.

Allison Shapira: Yeah, like the credit, the sound is not optimal for an operatic performance right now. Nor have I warmed up for such a performance. So, maybe we can provide a link to a video of me performing.

John Jantsch: We will, I promise listeners, go to our show notes, and you’re going to find a link to that, among other things that we discuss today. So in your work, I’m curious how you fall down on this. Obviously in creating a speech, or speaking with Impact. There certainly is the content, and there is delivery. So how much of it is that? How much is the content, how much is the delivery?

Allison Shapira: There is no specific breakdown in terms of which is more important than the other. There are figures that are often cited. Those figures are usually wrong. And so, it really depends on who the audience is that you’re speaking to. And are they going to resonate more with the content, or the delivery of that content. As a general rule, we need both. The lack of one cannot be made up for by an abundance of the other. So, if you have really powerful content that you’ve crafted in a way that’s clear, concise and compelling, and you deliver it in a way that’s engaging, and authentic and confident, that’s when you have an impact, a positive impact on others, and you can’t compromise on either one. You need both.

John Jantsch: Okay, so let me ask that a different way. In your experience, what do people generally need more help with? Content or delivery?

Allison Shapira: Both. It’s really both. There are people who need help with the messaging. They ramble, they can’t get to the point. They are unable to clearly articulate what they do, or the value of what they do. And then there are others who have a clear value proposition, but they mumble it to the floor instead of looking in the eyes of their audience, or their voice is so scratchy because they don’t know how to project, and they don’t know how to protect their faults that it sounds like their words are falling into the back of their throat. And so, we don’t get the full power of those words. At people need both. Some people need more than, more than… one than the other, but it’s such a solid breakdown of both.

John Jantsch: All right. So, if I’m trying to create this clear and concise speech, is there a roadmap? Is there a template for what needs to be in it, or what boxes need to be checked? If I’m trying to figure out, “Okay, how do I do this?”

Allison Shapira: Yes. And in the book I outline a particular roadmap that you can use in a short amount of time. That starts with asking yourself a series of three questions. Who’s your audience? What’s your goal? And most fundamentally, why you? And by why you, I don’t mean why are you qualified? Where did you go to school? What PhD do you have? By why you? I mean, why do you care? What gives you a sense of purpose in your work? What are you proud of in your work? And when you can respond to that question, and answer into your speech, or presentation, or into the introduction of your pitch, then all of a sudden you connect with people on a much more personal, much more authentic level. And no matter how professional the situation we’re in, we’re human beings connecting with other human beings, and we have to bring our authentic self to that relationship.

John Jantsch: And, I think you just went a long way towards answering the fear question too, because I find that a lot of speakers just getting started. The fear is based in, they’re looking at me, you know? I have to perform. And, I think that where you really get over that is when you… Just what you mentioned there is, how am I here to serve? What do they need to hear that’s going to help them? And so, when you turn the focus on kind of serving the audience, whoever the audience is, or how big it is, I think that, I think a lot of individuals that really kind of takes away the fear because it changes the dynamic completely.

Allison Shapira: Exactly. It reduces the fear because it reminds you that you’re not just getting up to look good, or show off or show how many, how much you know. You’re getting up in the service of others, in the service of a mission that has others in mind, and not trust yourself. And, we may not like to be the center of attention, or we’re not. Our idea is the center of attention. Our audience is the center of attention. And once we reframe the purpose of speaking as not to show off but to serve others, then all of a sudden that sense of mission overrides our fear, and makes us stand tall, and animates our body and our language in a way that engages the audience. So, what we find is the right content, and the right mindset drive the right delivery.

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John Jantsch: So when it comes to the performance, or delivery aspects of it, what are some of the really common things that you see so many people do that they need to clean up?

Allison Shapira: I see a lot of people who don’t recognize the power of their voice, and this is something I’m particularly sensitive to as a singer. And by voice, I mean the physical voice. They don’t take care of their voice, they’re at a loud networking event the night before, they their voice, and then they wake up early on chug coffee, and the caffeine is drying out their throat. So, I don’t see enough people recognize the power of their voice, and the fact that their voice is an instrument that needs care, and nurturing. And a lot of… What I write about in the book, and a lot of what I teach is about how to care for that voice. And then how to use breathing, and breath support to project your voice so that it reaches every single person in the audience. And it’s not about creating a false performers voice that’s different than your day to day speaking voice. It’s about finding your most powerful natural voice, and making sure it’s the natural voice that goes on stage, not the nervous second guessing voice, which is what we hear instead.

John Jantsch: When I network with a lot of professional speakers, and professional speakers that are getting paid 10, 15, $25,000 for a performance. Quite often, we’ll actually hire and employ a vocal coach, just for many of the reasons you’re talking about.

Allison Shapira: Exactly, but it’s not only professional speakers who need this. When we think of the fact that every single day we have an opportunity to have an impact through our voice, whether on a conference call, a phone call, a pitch, a difficult conversation, because of that, because we use our voice every day, then we have to care for it every day. And, more and more of us regardless of what industry we’re in, are flying on airplanes, we’re taking the train, we are always on the road, and that takes a toll on our physical body, which takes a toll on our abilities than to speak, and to have an impact. And so, we all need to recognize it, whether or not we get paid for speaking, we all need to take care of our voice.

John Jantsch: How much, and I know that this is sort of reliant on how high the stakes are, but for a presentation that you’ve got a lot riding on it, let’s say, how much is rehearsal a part of that?

Allison Shapira: Rehearsal is a significant part of it, and there are different ways of rehearsing. In fact, I talk about six different ways of rehearsing in the book. It’s not simply about reading the speech over, and over, and over again, and memorizing it. That’s not what I want people to do. There’s the process of reading it out loud to make sure it sounds good to your ear, and you can pronounce it comfortably. And then, there’s reducing it to bullet points so that you don’t have a script in front of you. You have bullet points that you can clearly refer to if you need to. There’s practicing in front of other people to make sure it has the intended effect, and you see other people’s reactions.

Allison Shapira: And then, there are unique methods that I recommend such as mental rehearsal where you sit down, close your eyes, focus on your breathing, and then visualize the presentation word for word in your mind, and visualize it going well. And that’s such a powerful way of practicing, because it tricks your mind into feeling like you’ve already given the speech successfully. So you’re building up repetition, which builds your confidence. So there are different ways of rehearsal, and I recommend people choose at least three methods of rehearsing according to the speech, and the audience.

John Jantsch: So, you are in the DC area, so I’m guessing you work with maybe more politicians than some speech coaches. Am I wrong on that?

Allison Shapira: You’re wrong. I actually don’t work [crosstalk 00:15:30].

John Jantsch: You don’t. Oh, okay. I thought you just might because of your-

Allison Shapira: It’s a fair assumption, but actually I’m not passionate about politics, more passionate about individual businesses having an ability to make impact in their own way. And so, I love working with business, and with the nonprofit sector, and all different sectors, but I don’t work as much in politics unless, I know people running for office, and they ask for my counsel.

John Jantsch: Well, the point of my starting down that track was, I was going to just get your opinion. Is there something that really good polished politician who speaks a lot, typically can have a lot of impact, and a lot of influence? Is there anything that you see that the business owner could learn from sort of the eye that’s on politicians so often? That was the point of my question, but you may not have an opinion on that.

Allison Shapira: I do actually based on why I do, or don’t work in politics. What politicians do really well is, they focus in on core messages, and they repeat those messages, and they stay on message. And that’s something that a business owner of any size business needs to keep in mind. What are the three main messages that I want to keep repeating? Because, whatever I say becomes the talking points of my company that my employees will use, that will determine what our clients say. So this idea of having clear, concise messaging, and staying on point is very important for business owners. Where I don’t want them to sound like your stereotypical politician is in this sense of overly polished, inauthentic delivery style, which is something that politicians are challenged by.

Allison Shapira: How do you come across as genuine and authentic and not overly perfect and polished. And so, for the business owner I want them to know it’s okay to make a few mistakes while you’re speaking to have a few ums, and uhs. It’s okay to lose your place as long as you bring your authentic self to the speech or presentation, which is what the question, why you helps you achieve. And that’s something that we don’t see as much of, but I wish we could in politicians.

John Jantsch: So, you mentioned ums and uhs. There’s an App for that, I understand.

Allison Shapira: There are several. There’s one in particular, there’re a couple actually that I really like. There’s one particular app called Orai, that you can use to practice your fillers, and get feedback, and they have great interactive exercises that will help you reduce the use of ums, and uhs and other fillers like Kinda, and sorta, or minimizers like just, or I think. That’s a great practice tool. There’s another app called Like So, that also helps you connect with your, or identify your fillers and start to remove them. Those are two that I really like, and use personally with my… for myself, and that my clients will use as well.

John Jantsch: Yeah. I really didn’t think that I’d use them that much until I started getting recorded. And then I was like, “Holy Mackerel.” I use those a lot more than I thought I did. And so, I think a lot of people probably suffer from that, watch yourself videoed, and all of a sudden you will maybe be horrified but, I’ve realized that there’s things that you do instinctively.

Allison Shapira: That’s right. And there’s nothing wrong with one or two fillers here or there. They’re genuine, they happen. Nothing wrong with that. The challenge is when you have [inaudible] of them, that they undermine your credibility and your authority. So, if every other word is um or so, it looks like you’re making up your message as you go. The content could be perfectly credible, but too many fillers will make you appear unprepared. And so, that’s why we want to be aware of them. We don’t often hear them when we’re doing… when we’re speaking them, which is why you hearing yourself on a recording is what it takes to prompt your awareness of them.

John Jantsch: So, you mentioned breathing as well. And, a lot of people probably don’t consider that an aspect of speaking, because I mean we all breath, right? But again, going back to my experience, I remember when I first started, that was a serious issue. I’d get about three force the way through making a point and go, “Oh my God, I have to get a breath. Breath in here somehow I’m going to pass out.” And, I think a lot of people underestimate how important that aspect is. How do you start recognizing that and working on that?

Allison Shapira: Breathing is critical. And as you said, it’s something that we all know is important and we do instinctively, which is a good thing. The challenge is, when we get nervous, the first thing that goes is our breathing. We stop breathing, or we constrict our breathing, which means we’re holding ourselves back from getting the nourishment that we need to relax ourselves, and to keep going. So the breathing techniques that I use are [inaudible] to help you use breathing in a very intentional way to relax, to calm down, to center yourself before a speech or presentation. And, the phrase I use with people all the time is called Pause and Breathe.

Allison Shapira: Pause and breathe is what you do before you’ve given a presentation. When you have 40 other things on your mind, and all these unanswered emails, and employees asking you questions that you don’t have the answers to, pause and breathe. And then, that’s what you do in the moment when somebody asks you a question you didn’t anticipate, or you lose your place, pause and breathe, and then keep going. And that’s also what you do before you let all the fillers come out, pause and breathe, and then you’ll reduce the use of fillers.

John Jantsch: Sounds like good life advice anyway.

Allison Shapira: Exactly. It is.

John Jantsch: So, Allison, do you have a great number of resources related to the book on your website, and it is, and we’ll have links to the resources, but do you want to tell people where they can find out more about your coaching work, and obviously about Speak With Impact?

Allison Shapira: Absolutely. The website I’m sharing with people is,, and that takes you to a very specific page on the website where people can sign up for a free download of a chapter of the book, watch a video about the book and also learn more about all of the ancillary services.

John Jantsch:  Allison thanks for joining us, and hopefully I’ll see you someday out there on the road soon.

Allison Shapira: Thank you so much. It’s been a pleasure talking to you, John.

Transcript of Creating Customers Who Are Loyal for Life

Transcript of Creating Customers Who Are Loyal for Life written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

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John Jantsch: Hey, this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing podcast is brought to you by We do all of our transcriptions here on the Duct Tape Marketing podcast using and I’m going to give you a special offer in just a bit.

John Jantsch: Hello and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing podcast. This is John Jantsch and my guest today is Sandy Rogers. He’s the leader of the Franklin Covey loyalty practice and also a co-author Leading Loyalty: Cracking the Code to Customer Devotion. So Sandy, welcome.

Sandy Rogers: John, thank you. I’m thrilled to be here.

John Jantsch: So customer loyalty is one of those things that seems to have maybe gone out of the buyer behavior vernacular. I know my grandfather would about every three years go buy a Chevy Caprice because he was a Chevy person, but now I look at my kids and not so loyal to the companies and the brands that they buy from. Is that part of buying behavior gone?

Sandy Rogers: Well, it’s interesting. Some people argue that loyalty is dead. It’s easier to switch, right? Gas stations, restaurants, you can buy the same clothes from all these different places. But we find loyalty is alive and thriving in so many organizations. And it comes down to the behavior of the people and how they treat us.

John Jantsch: And I think that’s a great point because it was actually harder to leave. You had to go to that one place a lot of times because you didn’t have all the opportunities or the ways to find. So I don’t think that people are less loyal. They just put up with less, right?

Sandy Rogers: Well that’s right. And the competition for our business is definitely greater. Technology is playing a bigger role. But I think good old fashioned how we’re treated can really differentiate organizations today. But it’s all about putting their people into a position to do the things that we describe in the book Leading Loyalty.

John Jantsch: These loyalty programs have been around for a long time. In fact, you spent some time with a rental car company and they, airlines, rental car companies have these loyalty programs. Do those still work to foster loyalty or are they just kind of a holdover from the past?

Sandy Rogers: Well they certainly can help. But they’re easily copied by competitors and everybody’s got these loyalty programs, reward points, discounts and so on and what we’re talking about is not the loyalty that you get with inertia or momentum. We’re talking about the fierce loyalty that is [inaudible] in the heart. The kind of loyalty that gets people to go out and tell their friends about an experience, or about a brand. It’s… they describe these companies and these people as, “I love these guys!” And that doesn’t come from a rewards program. That’s from a personal interaction.

John Jantsch: Yeah, my favorite promotion is the promotion for new customers, right? I’m loyal and I’ve been with you for 10 years and the new person gets the discount, I don’t get anything. I almost think those are disloyalty programs. So since you kind of opened up this idea of the heart being at the center of loyalty in some ways, what role then does company culture really play in customer loyalty?

Sandy Rogers: Well I went to business school years ago and we learned a lot about strategy, right? A brilliant strategy to beat your competitors and be different in the marketplace and I love years later reading Peter Drucker’s comment that “culture eats strategy for breakfast.” And you know been at Apple and at Proctor & Gamble and at Enterprise Rent-A-Car and now Franklin Covey I just can’t agree more. And also seeing the impact of culture across so many organizations. Companies that do the same stuff, but they deliver such different results because of their cultures. Take Southwest Airlines or Chick-fil-A or Enterprise or American Express or Zappos, there are tons of examples of businesses that are one on the surface because yeah, that’s a commodity business and yet the outcome for customers is very different as a result of culture.

John Jantsch: I wrote a book called Referral Engine was one of my books as a lot of my listeners know and I wrote a line in there about referability and I think I said something like, “Your employees are probably treating your customers exactly like they’re being treated.” And I think that kind of goes to… I mean it makes total sense, doesn’t it? I mean the front line people are going to go out of their way… some of them are just going to go out of their way because they’re nice people, but most of them are going to go out of their way because they really believe in the mission.

Sandy Rogers: Well exactly. My friend Shep Hyken who’s written a number of books about customer service, and he says that, “The customer experience rarely exceeds the employee experience.” And Jack Taylor, the founder of Enterprise Rent-A-Car understood that so well. We were out visiting branches one day. I ran the branches in our [inaudible] operation. He was asking people, “Are you having fun?” And I said, “Jack, ask these people about their sales numbers. Ask them about their customer service scores.” And he kept introducing himself and saying, “Oh my gosh, are you having fun here?” And I said, “Why are you asking if they’re having fun?” He said, “Because Sport, if they’re not having fun, nothing else really matters. We’ve got to first earn the loyalty of our employees which then leads to the loyalty of our customers and then sales growth and then profit. And it has to happen in that order.”

John Jantsch: So the title of the book is Leading Loyalty so how does… I mean clearly the leader sets the tone for that. So how does a leader create loyalty?

Sandy Rogers: A leader creates loyalty by first adopting what we call a loyalty leader mindset. And our mindset, the way we think about the world, affects our behavior. And our behavior has to adhere to these three core loyalty principles that we talk about in Leading Loyalty. These are empathy, responsibility, and generosity. And principles are these things that you can’t ignore. If you ignore or violate these things, you’re not going to earn the loyalty of the important people in your life.

John Jantsch: So the principles are a great starting point. Unfortunately that’s where a lot of books end. One of the things that I like about this book is you also have a pretty detailed process. You want to kind of give us the high level view of what the process for earning loyalty of your customers is?

Sandy Rogers: Well it is. So we teach in the book the three core loyalty principles, empathy, responsibility, and generosity, but we teach how to bring those to life through two practices. So for example, the way that I have empathy for someone is that I need to understand their story so I’m feeling what they’re feeling. I accomplish this by first making a genuine human connection and then listening to learn their story. So those are the two practices that go with empathy. With responsibility, I’ve got to discover the real job to be done and then follow up to strengthen the relationship. And with generosity I’ve got to share insights openly in a generous way and surprise people in unexpected ways. And so you’ve got to do all of these things. The process we describe in the book is a series of 11 huddles, you and your team carve out 15 minutes a week to talk about these principles and practices and most importantly celebrate the people who are doing what you talked about last week in your 15 minute huddle.

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John Jantsch: So one of the things I see all the time is that a lot of times customers don’t remain loyal because nobody asks them to. I can’t tell you how many small businesses I’ve gone into and they’ve got a list of 1,500 customers that they haven’t contacted in two years. So what role does just simple follow up play in loyalty.

Sandy Rogers: Chapter Seven and Huddle Seven, so each of the chapters has a huddle at the end, is about following up to strengthen the relationship. And that’s what responsible organizations do and certainly ones that want to earn loyalty. One of the reasons John that I think people avoid following up is that they’re afraid of hearing about problems. And this is not something to be afraid of. In fact this is one of our best opportunities to turn a customer who may be a detractor into a fierce promoter. And so we talk about for example, if you come across a problem, use the five A’s in effective follow up and we borrowed these from the Apple Store. The five A’s are one, assume the other person has good intent. Assume they’re not trying to rip you off. They’re the 99 out of a hundred that are good people. Align with the person’s emotions. You don’t have to agree with them, but at least get on the same side of the table as they are. Apologize with no defensiveness. Ask how can I make this thing right? And assure the person that you’re going to follow through and do it. And so in Chapter Seven in the huddle you learn about these things, you practice. I mean these scenarios are great. It’s mostly fun to be the angry customer but then the other person uses the five A’s, make the person happy.

John Jantsch: So you mention two concepts that I want to go a little deeper in. The one is make a genuine human connection. I think that in some cases the online world we live in, social media we live in, in some ways we’ve lost that art a bit I think maybe just a touch. I mean you can run businesses today without actually ever meeting a customer. So how do we bring that back. I mean you actually have a process that you train people on, but how do we maybe bring that back into the business.

Sandy Rogers: Well we… You’re right. Many businesses that we are loyal to, we don’t talk to people. I’ve bought lots and lots of stuff from Amazon. I do lots of things with Southwest Airlines, and I might do it myself. I do a lot of things with my bank by myself. But when there’s a problem, even Amazon, I had a problem last year, and I found the phone number I needed to talk to a human being, and I was blown away by how well they took care of it, which gave me tremendous confidence to continue to serve myself and use the wonderful app they designed. But this idea of making a human connection happens in the products that we design. We decide when we use the app for the first time whether their designer was doing so with the principles that we talk about. Do they have empathy for me? Are they taking responsibility for what I’m really trying to get done, which is quickly change my flight to a different day. Are they being generous with my time or are they asking me for things they should already know because of my 10 year history with them. And in real life when we’re interacting with customers, that genuine connection is as simple as eye contact. It’s smiling and it’s acknowledging people.

John Jantsch: Yeah. Do you… I know you do a lot of training and I’m sure that organizations bring their teams, their retails staffs to you. Do you find that… I’m going to make all my younger listeners mad here, but do you find that that’s a generational thing that those basic things that maybe we were taught are not taught and expected as much in a younger generation?

Sandy Rogers: Well we know that Generation Z and Millennials have a lot of confidence interacting online with their thumbs and we through this book, one of our goals is to make sure everybody’s equally comfortable face-to-face and not picking on one group over another but it certainly helps to address what you’re describing. And just a little [inaudible 00:12:39], you could be the third person in line and I could be working the host stand and just with my eye contact and a smile and an expression I can let you know I see you, I’m so sorry you’re having to wait, I’m going to take care of you. And you know what? That’s going to make you feel okay. You’re going to be like, “All right. Good. The guy’s acknowledged me.” What is crazy is when people pretend like they can’t see us, like we’re invisible or something.

John Jantsch: One other thing that you mentioned that I want to go back to because I’ve heard this term before and I’d like you to maybe define it a little deeper. Understand the real job to be done.

Sandy Rogers: Well now an example I frequently give, a man comes into a hardware store, “I’m looking for a wrench.”

Sandy Rogers: “Oh, they’re right over in Aisle 14.”

Sandy Rogers: That’s not taking responsibility for anything. So instead, “Come with me. You’re looking for a wrench. What are you working on?”

Sandy Rogers: “Well, I’ve got this old fence in my backyard and I’ve got to pull these rusty nuts off these bolts so I can get rid of the fence.”

Sandy Rogers: “Well sir, do the nuts and bolts look like any of these?”

Sandy Rogers: “They look just like those hexagonal ones there.”

Sandy Rogers: “Ah, to grip the rusty edges of those nuts so you can pull the bolts out and get rid of your fence, you’re going to need a set of box wrenches and this should do the trick.”

Sandy Rogers: And so that’s the real job to be done is to help the guy get rid of his fence, not to sell him a wrench. And so many businesses miss that opportunity to ask a question that would allow their customer who they want to be loyal to explain what job they’re actually trying to do.

John Jantsch: Yeah. I’m almost laughing because particularly you go to your local neighborhood Ace Hardware, and that’s the approach that those old guys have always taken. But today you go to the sort of box store and let’s face it, they’re having trouble actually getting folks. Maybe that person’s been there a week and so how do you… I mean it really… it’s very difficult I think to… well here I’m answering your question instead of asking a question. Does it become difficult for an organization that maybe has high turnover because of the nature of their business to kind of keep that vibe and that culture alive?

Sandy Rogers: Well, you’re right. I mean why should I get in my car and go to some store if I’m not going to do any better than just buying it online and having it delivered to the comforts of home? So what’s going to differentiate that in-store experience are the people. And front line people have notoriously high turnover. They’re the least trained. They’re the lowest paid. They’re the least engaged according to Gallup. And yet they’re the most critical for defining that different between a good and a great experience, right? So it’s all about people and the behavior. So the first thing we’ve got to do is treat our people with the same principles that need to be applied to the customers. We’ve got to earn their fierce loyalty first and the secret to that is to put them into a position to enrich the lives of their customers. Rather than tying them down with scripts and policies they hate, instead encourage them to say, “Hey look, this is the mission.” Jack Taylor for Enterprise Rent-A-Car, founder of the largest car rental company said years ago, “It’s real simple. When people walk out that door they should feel like wow, that was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had.” And so that’s what we got to get more retail stores to be doing with their folks.

John Jantsch: So at FranklinCovey you do leadership, or I’m sorry customer loyalty training. What does that look like?

Sandy Rogers: We help organizations that want to dramatically improve their customer loyalty. And it’s built off the work I did at Enterprise years ago where we measured customer service across all of our branches and then we held people accountable for improving and over the next 10 years we went from delighting 66% of our customers to 80% of our customers across thousands of branches and we reduced the variation which is always the biggest problem in a chain from 28 points down to less than 12 points. We tripled the sales in this 10 year period from two to $7 billion. And this story got Fred Reichheld at Bain & Company to create the Net Promoters Score. It inspired the creation of NPS. And so our work at Franklin Covey in the loyalty practice is to help organizations do what we did at Enterprise. Measure their customer service accurately so they know who on their front line needs to get better at customer service and then give them a training process which we describe in the book so that everybody does these loyalty principles more often.

John Jantsch: Visiting with Sandy Rogers, author of Leading Loyalty: Cracking the Code to Customer Devotion. You want to tell people where they can find out more about the book itself and certainly about your training practices.

Sandy Rogers:  They can learn about the book at their favorite bookseller, certainly at Amazon, Leading Loyalty: Cracking the Code to Customer Devotion. They can go to our FranklinCovey website and learn about what we offer in the area of loyalty and certainly find me on LinkedIn.

John Jantsch: Well Sandy thanks for joining us and hopefully we will run into you someday out there on the road.

Sandy Rogers: Thank you so much.

Transcript of Getting Salespeople and Prospects on the Same Side

Transcript of Getting Salespeople and Prospects on the Same Side written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

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John Jantsch: Hey, this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing podcast is brought to you by We do all of our transcriptions here on the Duct Tape Marketing podcast using And I’m going to give you a special offer in just a bit.

John Jantsch: Hello, and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing podcast. This is John Jantsch, and my guest today is Ian Altman. He is a leading authority on accelerating business growth and sales. He’s also the co-author of the best selling book, Same Side Selling: How Integrity and Collaboration Drive Extraordinary Results for Sellers and Buyers. So, Ian, welcome to the show.

Ian Altman: John, thanks for having me back.

John Jantsch: So, let’s just get the title out there, there are a lot of sales books, lots of sales methodologies, what does Same Side Selling kind of bring that’s new to the world of sales?

Ian Altman: Well, it’s really a modern approach. If you think about it, almost every sales book that’s ever been written either uses a game metaphor or a battle metaphor. And in a game, you have a winner and a loser. And in a battle, the loser dies. And then we wonder why we end up in this adversarial position between buyer and seller. And the model that we put forth in Same Side Selling is a puzzle metaphor that says, “Look, with your client, you have a bag with puzzle pieces in it. They have a bag with puzzle pieces in it.

Ian Altman: Unless we sit down side-by-side at a table and put our pieces on the table, we don’t whether or not we have a fit. So it’s not about persuasion or coercion. You can’t coerce somebody if they’re puzzle pieces don’t fit your puzzle.” And so, it’s much more even-handed. It’s not a beauty pageant, “Pick me, pick me.” It’s more, “Do I have something that’s of value for you? And can I help you better than somebody else?” And if so, we have something to talk about. And if not, may not be worth our time.

John Jantsch: So, I’m picturing the person who just got their quota for this quarter who is listening to the show saying, “Yeah, but … Yeah but … I …” Right?

Ian Altman: Sure.

John Jantsch: I mean, so how do you get that person to think … Because this is probably a long-term approach, right? I mean, you’re saying there are times when you have to say, “We shouldn’t be together. We shouldn’t play together.” So, how do you get that person who’s being driven to make a number?

Ian Altman: Well, so here’s the interesting part. We have all these case studies in the second edition of Same Side Selling that profile companies that achieved extraordinary growth, while actually pursuing fewer opportunities. So, old school was a sales and numbers game. You just have to make so many phone calls. And our approach is, it’s not about … If you recognize that it’s not about persuasion or coercion, it’s about finding the best fit, then instead of just saying, “I want to speak to anybody with a pulse.” You say, “You know what? These are the three problems that a business … as a business, we are really good at solving.”

Ian Altman: And if I can find people who are facing those challenges. I’ve got a pretty good chance of capturing their attention. And these are problems that are significant enough, they’re likely to spend money to solve them. As opposed to the old school was, “Let me get anybody with a pulse. And now that I’ve got them with a pulse, let’s hope that maybe I can get them to slip into a coma and they’ll accidentally sign a contract.” And it’s just a futile way to go about trying to grow your business. So, in many cases, it’s about narrowing your focus, rather than broadening your focus.

John Jantsch: Yeah. I’ve been saying for years that I think a lot of times the company that can explain or communicate the problem the best, is probably the one that’s going to get invited. But what about … I mean, I do also know … Like I get calls all the time, “I have a broken website, come out and fix it.” Well, that’s sort of the problem, but it’s not the real problem. You know?

Ian Altman: Yeah.

John Jantsch: And a lot of times our clients don’t know what the real problem is. They just know where it hurts.

Ian Altman: Yep.

John Jantsch: So, how do we define where it hurts in a way that ties back to what we can do to bring value?

Ian Altman: Well, so for example, let’s say that somebody offers IT services to law firms. So, they could say, “Well, we help businesses that have problems with their IT services.” And the problem is, everybody who does IT service is going to say the same thing. But what’s actually going to move the needle for the law firm? Well, what’s really going to move the needle for the law firm is once they recognize that they’re losing billable time, once they realize that their technology issues are impacting their ability to attract and retain younger associates who they want and need to grow and have succession planning.

Ian Altman: It’s understanding that they might be impacting their firm’s reputation when things don’t go well. So, I wouldn’t say, “Oh, I fix IT issues.” If I was them, I would say, “Well, our clients come to us.” And this is something we refer to in the books as a Same Side pitch. “Our clients come to us when they’re facing one of two or three major problems as a law firm.” One is that they’re having IT issues that’s causing them to lose billable work and billable time. So, they’re partners and associates are getting frustrated because they’re spending time on something. And then it gets lost. They have to recreate it.

Ian Altman: The second thing that causes is, all of the sudden they now miss deadlines. They potentially could lose those clients longer term. And the third thing is that man … because they have all these IT issues, the newer and younger associates they’re trying to attract say, “Man, you guys aren’t relevant. How come I can’t just access this stuff from anywhere, anytime? That’s what we’re looking for?” So, for the right firms, they tell us that we’ve got a solution that streamlines all that, so those problems go away.

Ian Altman: But the way we approach it, “Man, it’s not the right fit for every firm. So, I don’t yet know if we can help you. But if that’s something you’re facing, I’m happy to learn more to see if we might be able to help.” And the whole idea is that at no point am I really talking about the technology.

John Jantsch: Yeah. The fact it’s almost still relevant, right? I mean, if you could fix those problems, I don’t really care how you do it.

Ian Altman: Exactly. If my solution was, I have 1500 gerbils in a back room. You’d have two questions. One is show me 20 other firms that are getting results from that. And the second is, is it legal? Right? And if both of those pass muster, you’d be like, “Dude, you don’t even want to know how we solved it. But our IT is humming.”

John Jantsch: So, one of the kind of core foundational elements of this book or your approach. Is this idea of finding impact together. So, you want to unpack that idea?

Ian Altman: Yes. So, the idea of finding impact is that we used to have this notion of always be closing your ABC, made famous by Alec Baldwin and Glengarry Glen Ross. So, always be closing. And instead, we want to think about finding impact together. Meaning, if let’s say, and using the same example, if someone at a law firm said, “Oh, we have IT issues.” “Well, yeah, but is that really causing enough angst in your firm to make it worth solving this?” So, what we’re trying to do is uncover, is that issue driving enough impact?

Ian Altman: Is it important enough to solve, to make it worth our time to help them find a solution? Because there are some things that people face that are kind of a nuisance, but they’re never going to spend money to try and fix them. And the most frustrating thing in a business is when somebody appears to be interested, and you spend weeks or months working with them. And you lose to a non-decision. And they just say, “Nah, we’re going to stick with what we have.” And you think, “Why did I waste my time with these people?” So, finding impact together is a series of questions that we ask to figure out, is this problem likely something that they’ll spend money to solve?

John Jantsch: So, I can hear Alec Baldwin, “Sit down, coffee is for people who find impact together.”

Ian Altman: Yeah. That’s right.

John Jantsch: Something like that. Anyway. So, one of the … As a fact, you dedicate an entire chapter to this, this idea of finding people that are sufficiently motivated to invest in a solution. Because I think they’re … It’s really easy to find people that are leaking oil. That part’s actually pretty easy. But how do we find the difference between those people that clearly need us to help them and the ones that are motivated to invest in a solution?

Ian Altman: Well, so it’s simple questions. It’s things like … So, someone says, “Yes, we’re having this IT issue.” And you say, “So, what happens if you don’t solve that?” And what you’re trying to do is be curious to see if they can convince you that the problem is really worth solving. So too often what happens is someone says, “Oh, I’d like to solve our IT issues.” And people come back and they forecast it at 90% because someone said, “Oh, they contacted us about IT issues.” But if you ask the question, “Well, so what happens if you don’t solve it?” “Oh nothing, it’s been going on for years. And no big deal.” “Huh, okay.”

Ian Altman: So, that’s a big challenge that if you don’t have these sorts of questions, you can be chasing rainbows all day long. So, you were talking before about, what does the person who’s got a quota, deal with? Well, the reality is, that that person who’s got a quota, needs to recognize that you can … What if they could double their growth rate while pursuing 40% fewer opportunities? And we have case studies of companies who have done that. So it’s just about narrowing your focus to the people who matter the most. And having a method for doing it. Because candidly, the way most people evaluate a good business meeting today, doesn’t really give you good insight. And it’s kind of funny how people do it.

John Jantsch: Well, it’s funny. Again, I go back to my example that happens to me every day, is you know, people will call us and say, “Yeah, we need a new website because the old one’s really outdated. But we’re not probably going to pay that much for it because we don’t really get any leads from it anyway.” You just want to like go, “Well, I know why you don’t get any leads from it.” But you know, that’s one of those cases where I’d rather not even pursue that person. Because even if we … because I think the …

John Jantsch: Of course, a lot of the folks you’re dealing with are sales folks and sometimes they … you know, once the contract’s signed, they walk out the door. But in my world, where maybe we are going to actually deliver as well, the worst thing we can do is sign a client who doesn’t have the proper motivation. Because they’re going to be a pain in the butt.

Ian Altman: Yep. Well, and keep in mind, what you could do is when that person calls up you can say, “So when people call us, they’re usually looking for a solution at one of three levels. At the basic level is ‘Hey look, we know exactly what we want with our new website, we just want someone to be able to execute exactly what we want.’ And that’s what we call the Effective Level. The next level, we call this The Enhanced Level. The Enhanced Level is someone who’s going to introduce some new ideas to you, some new concepts and maybe some new technologies to bring your website to the next level. At the highest level, is what we call The Engaged Level. This is where somebody is tied in with your business goals and objectives. And will recommend digital marketing strategies that can help achieve those results that are measurable and repeatable. So, which level are you looking for?”

John Jantsch: We call those in my world, Build, Grow, and Ignite.

Ian Altman: Yeah.

John Jantsch: Exactly what you just described.

Ian Altman: Yeah. So the idea is that then what you’re doing is say, “Well, so what are you looking for?” Because guess what? The person who just wants billed, probably doesn’t matter. Right? The person who just wants effective, may not be your ideal client, but they may be great for somebody else, just not for you.

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John Jantsch: So, another significant change I think in the world of selling is that because the buyer, in a lot of cases, has access to a lot of information. Some of it’s really good. Some of it’s misleading. But nonetheless, they feel like, in a lot of cases, they’re pretty educated. So, how does a salesperson now, bring their value up by teaching?

Ian Altman: Well, so there’s a couple concepts behind this. A lot of it comes down to helping the client understand, not only, what the other impacts could be to their business of not solving this. But also, how other people may be seeing results that may or may not resonate with them. And so, if we can give people a structure for these meetings, it works really well. Like I said, what happens historically is, somebody comes out of a meeting, and we’ve all heard the sales rep who’s excited about a meeting they go, “Oh, John, I had the best meeting. We had scheduled to talk for only 15 minutes and the meeting lasted for an hour. And oh my god, man, the two of us, man, we got together and we just clicked. We connected. It was amazing. It was magical. And we’ve already agreed that next week, we’ve already set up a time to meet again.”

Ian Altman: And the problem with that is that it would be a fantastic way to summarize a good meeting if it had been set up on an online dating site. But it’s not a good way to evaluate a good business meeting. And so, one of the things we added to Same Side Selling is this notion of something we call the Same Side Quadrants. And in the Same Side Quadrants, the idea is that it’s a method for taking notes in a meeting so we can have mutual understanding with our client about what might be important.

Ian Altman: And the idea is, on a blank sheet of paper we draw a vertical line down the center of a page, horizontal line across it, creating four quadrants. In the upper left, we take notes about the issue that they were interested in talking with us about. And that might start by just saying, “Hey, what inspired you to meet with us today?” “Oh, you know what, Johnny, we’re just thinking about getting a new website.” “Okay.” And you might ask questions like, “How long’s this been going on? What have you tried in the past? What’s working? What isn’t? Great.” And then we ask this great question that says, “So, what happens if you don’t solve that?”

Ian Altman: And now we move from taking notes in the upper left quadrant of issue, now we move over to impact and importance, which is the upper right quadrant. And that’s where we’re trying to quantify the impact of their organization of not solving the problem. And also try, and discover how important is this compared to other things on their plate? So, we’ll get information about that. Then, we have to acknowledge, and I know that you speak about this as well, that just because you pass money, doesn’t mean it’s successful.

Ian Altman: So, what can we measure together? What are the tangible results that would be meaningful? So, that we know we’re successful. Because gee, if at the end of the project I want to have a high-five moment with you. I want to make sure that you and I both agree that it’s high-five worthy. So what does that look like? And that’s in the lower left quadrant. And then the lower right quadrant, we take notes about who else might need to be involved. And of course, sales people have been taught to ask the worst questions on the planet about who else needs to be involved.

Ian Altman: Because they ask a question like, “Well, who’s the decision maker?” When you ask that question, it’s kind of like saying, “So, John, I realize the company wouldn’t possibly entrust that this to you. So, who is the decision maker?” And it creates this instant adversarial tension. Instead of … But what if instead, they said, “So, John, who else would have an opinion about the impact of the organization? Who else is most directly impacted by this problem? And who else would have an opinion about how we measure this? And who might think we’re totally crazy for measuring the things you and I already discussed? Who might chime in at the 11th hour, we haven’t heard from before?”

John Jantsch: Yeah, because a lot of times there are people in companies that maybe don’t have to approve a deal, but they can sure kill it, right?

Ian Altman: Exactly. So, those people, to know who they are. And then ask a simple question which says, “So, what’s the best way for us to include those people in a way that’s comfortable for you?” And so now what we have is we have this sheet of paper that … We actually produce these journals that people can use, these Same Side Quadrant Journals. And the idea is that people can take notes in all these quadrants and at the end you have what amounts to a concise business case for that client that determines whether this makes sense to move forward or not.

John Jantsch: Yeah. And I’m guessing you also advise. I know that I’m sitting here thinking, if I was going to go through that process, I would make sure that that was in a proposal as well. That we agreed on these things. And that’s why …

Ian Altman: Absolutely. Yeah. It’s what we call a concise business case. There’s a whole template and a format for it that we tell people. So this is what you send to the client afterwards, which is all their words. So, it talks very little about your solution. It talks, almost exclusively about here’s what you shared with me. And the funny part is, that the client will often say, “You know, we had never thought about it that way before. But, man, you guys totally get us. This is awesome. We can’t wait to move forward.”

John Jantsch: So, you’ve already provided value, maybe more so than anybody else that’s tried to sell them anything?

Ian Altman: Exactly. So, in terms of educating them, you’ve now helped them understand why this problem is worth solving. Now, keep in mind, you educated them using their own information. But now, they walk away, because here’s the thing, they’ve just convinced you that this is a really serious issue. And guess who else they convinced? They convinced themselves.

John Jantsch: You know, and what’s interesting when you talk about that impact, you know, sometimes you get somebody to see that the impact of growth revenue and profit and whatnot. But we work with a lot of small business owners that are getting the life sucked out of them and if they could solve a marketing problem, maybe they could actually sleep better at night. And I think we could … Sometimes we underestimate the value of those intangible things that have impact.

Ian Altman: Absolutely. I mean, people who are wealth managers, for example, most of their message, because they can’t guarantee a return for people. I mean they’re precluded form even talking about returns. But what they can do is say, “Look, people come to us because they’re just … today they don’t feel like they have a plan.” So, it gives them a lot of angst. They’re looking for peace of mind.

Ian Altman: They want to know that they have a plan laid out that they can count on and rely on. And, “Gee, so zero to 10, how well do you feel you’re positioned for that today?” And it’s like, “Oh, I don’t know, like a five.” ” Okay. Why five?” “Well …” Right? And now the waterworks start. “Well, because I can’t do this. I can’t do that. I’m not sure if my kids are going to be able to go to college. And blah, blah, blah.” “Okay” Now, we got a real conversation.

John Jantsch: So, one of the things that I’ve certainly discovered over time doing this, you know, I have no problem asking hard questions now. Because the opposite is terrible. But somebody starting out, sometimes they may not feel the posture to be able to get in a conversation about impact with somebody because “Hey, I’m just theoretically here to sell you XYZ. Do I have permission to ask about impact?” I’m just suggesting that that’s probably a problem that people feel. Is that?

Ian Altman: Well, so here’s the thing, if I tell somebody your job is to go out there and sell this stuff, whether people need it or not. Then, I’ve just created my own problem. If I say, “Your job is to determine first and foremost if these people have a problem worth solving.” And you can be totally transparent with the clients and say, “Look, we just don’t know whether or not this is going to have enough of an impact for you to make it worthwhile. And if this problem is significant enough to make it worth solving, so, I just want to ask you some questions. Because the last thing we want you to do is spend money and buy something that isn’t worthwhile for you.”

John Jantsch: Yeah. And that should right off the bat, let somebody put their, sort of, salesperson shield up, down, right?

Ian Altman: Exactly. Yeah, because it’s something we refer to as … So, the Same Side Pitch follows the model of Entice, Disarm, and Discover. So, in that example before, when I said, “Well, gee, our clients, these law firms come to us when they’re facing these issues.” Notice that after I describe the problems that we solve with great results, I said, “But, not everyone we talk to is the right fit for how we solve that.” And allows someone to say, “Oh, so you’re not like all those sales people who just swear that ‘Oh yes, we have the perfect solution for you. What’s your problem again?’”

Ian Altman: It’s kind of like if a surgeon came to you and said, “Hey, John. Listen, I can get you a great deal. I can get you in next Tuesday for this tennis elbow surgery.” You know, like, “Well, I don’t think I have tennis elbow.” “Okay, what if I discounted it? What if I can get you in on Monday instead of Tuesday?” And I mean, it’s like, “But I don’t think I have tennis elbow.” “What if we did both arms for the same price?” And it’s like, “Dude, I don’t think I have the condition that you treat.” “What if I got your spouse involved too?” It’s like, you know, just … That’s what it feels like. It’s awesome.

John Jantsch: But I think one of the things that you’re saying and I’m not saying it’s implied. But I think it’s worth reminding people. Is I think we have to have a good handle on what it is that we’re actually good at. What problem we solve, the right situation. I know, again, after years and years and years of doing this, you know within … Excuse me. Five minutes or so I can sort of say, “Yeah, this is going to be a good fit or it’s not. Or we can really help this person. Or we can’t.” And I think that comes over time. But I think that that’s something that people really have to spend some time wrapping their head around. You know, a client that’s not a good fit is probably not going to be profitable, it’s probably going to turn into a detractor at some point.

Ian Altman: Sure.

John Jantsch: So, how do people … This is a simple question but I think, you know, how do you advise that people get a real handle on what they’re good at solving?

Ian Altman: Well, it’s funny you say that. It’s one of the most challenging questions that I ask people. So, I’ll say this to one, “So, give me one of the problems that you solve?” And most often, their response is the description of their service. So for example, if I said to someone, and it wouldn’t be on your team because your team understands this. But if I said to somebody who did digital marketing, “So, what problems do you solve?” “Well, we build websites and social media campaigns.” “Okay. I don’t think that’s a problem. That sounds like a service that you offer. But what problem does that solve?”

Ian Altman: And so the example that I give people is using a term that a buddy of mine Bob London coined called an Elevator Rant. So, the idea of the elevator rant being the upside down version of the elevator pitch. Is that you get on an elevator, the doors are about to close. Right before they close someone sticks their arm in, the doors spring open. Two people representing your ideal client get on the elevator with you. The doors close. What would they be complaining to one another about something that when you hear it, you think, “Man, we can solve that better than anybody else. In fact, they’re lucky to be on the elevator with us. Because we can really help them.”

Ian Altman: And so, if you put yourself in that context, they’re not going to say, “Oh, you know, I need a digital marketing firm because I google digital marketing and nothing came up.” Right? That’s not going to happen. But the might say, “Man, I’m sick and tired of spending all this money on advertising and marketing. But it’s not affecting how many people walk through the door and how many people buy our products.” Or, “I’m tired of spending money on stuff. But I’m not sure which stuff is working, which stuff isn’t. So, I feel like we may be spending money in areas that don’t matter and not spending enough in areas that do make a difference.”

John Jantsch: So, Ian, tell people where they can find out more about your work and Same Side Selling. And you’ve mentioned a couple tools and I think you have those on your website as well.

Ian Altman: Absolutely. So, if you visit you’ll hear all about the book. And there’s the bonus material and case studies and the like. And then, I’m impossible not to find on social and online @IanAltman. So it’s And on just about every social media platform it’s Ian Altman.

John Jantsch: Well, Ian, thanks for joining us. And hopefully, we’ll see you out there on the road. Or maybe, somewhere in the Midwest even, soon enough.

Ian Altman: Oh, let’s hope so, John. Take care.

Transcript of How to Become a Digital Minimalist

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John Jantsch: Choosing the right domain name is critical to ensuring the success of your small business, but it’s gotten a little harder. Now you can choose a .us domain to help your business stand out. Reserve your .us web address today. Go to, and use my promo code, PODCAST, for my special offer.

John Jantsch: Hello, and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch, and my guest today is Cal Newport. He is an associate professor of computer science at Georgetown University and the author of six books, including the one we’re going to talk about today, Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World. Cal, thanks for joining me.

Cal Newport: John, it’s my pleasure to be back.

John Jantsch: Writing a book with the title minimalism in it makes you have to say that word a lot, and, I don’t know about you, but that word’s hard to say sometimes.

Cal Newport: I didn’t realize that until the press tour started because when you’re writing it, hey, it looks nice on the page, but then when you have to say it a hundred times at interviews you realize it’s a bit of a mouthful.

John Jantsch: I know the answer to this, but I’m sure you’ve been asked, is there any irony in the fact that a computer science professor is talking about minimizing your digital footprint?

Cal Newport: I actually think there’s a lot of logic to it. I mean obviously technologies play a massive role in our daily experience and the way our culture unfolds. It seems to me that one of the voices we need in this conversation are the people who actually work on those technologies themselves. To me it was natural that as a computer scientist I’m one of the people that’s involved in discussing what role should tech play, how do we get the value out of it, how do we sidestep the negatives as well.

John Jantsch: Essentially the book is about reducing the time we spend online, focusing on a small number of activities to support the things we deeply value. When did we lose that?

Cal Newport: Well, that’s a good question. We’ve always struggled with technologies, but I think we’re in a particular state of unease that’s really emerged, let’s say, in the last few years when people begin to notice it. I think the core of this unease is about the amount of time so many of us are spending looking at these little screens in our hands. If you talk to people, the issue is not utility. It’s not necessarily what they’re doing when they look at their screen is in itself worthless or bad. That’s not really the grounds on which discussion is happening.

Cal Newport: The thing that seems to be making people uneasy is autonomy, the idea that they’re looking down at these screens way more than they know is useful, way more than they know is healthy to the exclusion of things they know are more important. It’s their sense of I’m losing control over what I’m doing with my time and attention, and as a result my actual humanity is diminished or the enjoyment of my life is going down. I think that’s the crisis that I’m trying to respond to with this book.

John Jantsch: I’m like a lot of people, I mean the book resonates with me tremendously. That’s my job is to be online sort of, and so I find myself like a lot of people really drawn to it. I also find myself sometimes going, “No. Put that thing down. What are you doing?” It’s almost become a chemical reaction.

Cal Newport: That’s the issue that’s going on is that these services have utility. There’s a reason why we signed up for it. The reason why we’re upset is because especially in the case of, let’s say, social media and other attention economy conglomerates, the experience was subtly re-engineered, after most people actually signed up for it, to try to get us to look at these screens way more than we actually were before, and way more than we need to be looking at them, so that the revenue numbers could go up.

Cal Newport: I think that’s the thing that’s getting to people. It’s also why this conversation is so complicated is that we’re used to these type of things being cut and dry, like with cigarettes, where people say, “I don’t want to smoke cigarettes. There’s no benefit to smoking cigarettes. I will do whatever it takes to stop smoking cigarettes.” Cut and dry. Much more complicated now.

Cal Newport: What we have here is network technologies that have deep innovations underlying them and real utility, and yet at the same time our relationship with them has really mutated over time to be something that’s unhealthy. It’s a more complicated net that we have to untangle here.

John Jantsch: For example, I mean it’s easy to say you’re scrolling through Facebook, that serves no purpose usually. I could get on Medium all day long and read stuff that’s really good and maybe useful. It’s still consuming my day.

Cal Newport: Exactly. These are the type of dynamics that are out there. It’s this mix of usefulness with compulsive behavior patterns that go beyond what’s useful and begin to take away from other values. To me this is why what we need is not just a little bit more self-awareness. This is why we need more than just tips or tricks. We really need a coherent philosophy. How do we make sense of all this tech and integrate them into a life well-lived, because if we just allow it to be out there and floating in this world, and just approach it in an ad hoc manner, we tend to get overwhelmed and the net cost-benefit ratio starts to skew too heavily towards the cost size.

Cal Newport: Digital minimalism is basically an attempt to outline a philosophy of technology use, a way to approach these tools with some care so that you can get big value out of it but avoid big losses at the same time.

John Jantsch: I’m sure you have statistics on this. In fact, I’m going to get to that part where you had your volunteers do an experiment. Does this behavior correlate with us just working more, period?

Cal Newport: Well, there’s two things going on here. When it comes to these unintentional consequences of technology, we have two areas we should care about. One is our work life, one is our personal life. I like to think that digital minimalism tries to focus a little bit more on what’s happening in our life outside of work. There’s huge issues about what’s happening in work in terms of the way technology, the role technology plays. They’re interesting. They’re also pretty complicated, and some of them are pretty unrelated to why we’re looking at our phone so much outside of work.

Cal Newport: Now, of course this all overlaps. The way I like to think about it is that digital minimalism is really about the amount of time you spend looking at your phone even when it’s not necessarily for work, even when it’s not about, “I’m trying to talk to a client or post something about my business,” but just you’re at home. You’re with your kids. You’re at the ballgame. You’re in bed, all these other times in which a life well-lived are crafted. The fact that we’re spending so much of that time voluntarily looking at a screen for even non-professional reasons, that’s the area in which I’m seeing a lot of concern, and I’m trying to address with the book.

John Jantsch: You had an army of volunteers, some 1,600 I think I read. Did I get that right?

Cal Newport: Yeah.

John Jantsch: That you put in an experiment. Explain that experiment or what you were trying to find there.

Cal Newport: The experiment was to step away from these type of technologies, these optional technologies in your personal life, so things like social media and online news and streaming media and YouTube, even podcasts, basically everything digital in your personal life. So, stuff you didn’t have to do for work, or it’s not vital to your day-to-day experience, to step away from it for 30 days. Then during these 30 days, more so than just like a detox. I have negative things to say about digital detoxes as being a standalone thing that are somehow useful. I have some real issues with that.

Cal Newport: During this 30 days, it’s about a lot more than just this detox experience of breaking your habit of compulsively using your phone. It also is about having some space to reflect and experiment and figure out what really is important to me. How do I really want to spend my time outside of work? Figuring out those values, figuring out what’s important to you, so that when the 30 days are over you can then rebuild your digital life from scratch, but now do it with a minimalist mindset of, “I want to selectively choose online behaviors and tools that are going to help these things that I really care about, and ignore everything else.”

Cal Newport: I had this idea that this 30-day process was probably an effective way to become a minimalist. I put the call out to my readers to say, “Hey, does anyone want to try this out?” I thought a couple of dozen people would sign up, but I was surprised when over 1,600 people said, “Yeah. I’m ready for that.”

John Jantsch: Everybody I mention this book’s title to says, “I need some of that.” Yet, we’re still having trouble breaking free. One of the things that I love, a topic in the book is that it’s not a matter of just taking more time. It’s high quality leisure. What does high quality leisure look like, that’s obviously lacking?

Cal Newport: Well, these are activities outside of work that you do and enjoy just for the sake of their intrinsic quality. If you get into cooking and you cook something really nice, and you do it just because you enjoy the process of building, cooking and eating good food. If you get really into woodworking, just you’re enjoying working on a piece of wood just because of the intrinsic quality of what you’re trying to do. If you’re into playing an instrument or listening to a certain type of music, that really you’re getting enjoyment.

Cal Newport: It’s not instrumental. It’s not to help you do something else, to help you accomplish something else or get something else. It’s just enjoying the activity for the sake of the activity. These type of activities are crucial. High quality leisure activities are crucial to a good life, a life that can be buffered against the unavoidable ups and downs and different turns of fortune. It’s what allows us to have some sort of meaning and gratitude even when other things are out of our control or spiraling in ways that maybe doesn’t make us happy.

Cal Newport: We know this from the ancients, that this type of activity is crucial. In an age of this really cheap, hyper-powered digital distraction, one of the huge casualties is people have pushed high quality leisure out of their life, because it has a high barrier to entry. It requires effort. It’s not necessarily an easy thing to do.

Cal Newport: Typically boredom, the feeling of boredom would push us to actually make those effort and do these activities, because it was better than being bored. We’re now hijacking that deeply human instinct, because as soon as you feel bored you can just look at this screen. A really powerful algorithm that’s reduced you to 10,000 data points knows exactly what to show you so that you can be a little bit interested in the moment.

Cal Newport: This is one of the huge unexpected casualties of this huge attention economy that we’ve formed, is that people are filling their time with the low-quality digital leisure. It’s a little bit easier than the high quality analog leisure. By doing so, they’re actually leaving a big hole in their soul in some sense. They’re missing from their life something that’s crucial to a thriving human existence.

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John Jantsch: I just finished a great book called A Gentleman in Moscow. It’s actually been out for a while. I don’t know if you’re familiar with the book. The main character talks about something he calls idle hour. Essential his idle hour idea was that you should pretty much have anything that’s going to be serious done by noon and pretty much the rest of the day should just unfold as it unfolds.

John Jantsch: I think another thing that happens to us is, and I’m sure that these digital tools are somewhat to blame, but even when we have that time for leisure we’re packing it. The idea of just maybe taking the space to reflect has gone away.

Cal Newport: That’s why I say 30 days for my declutter process. If you think about it, it’s not self-evident that you need something like 30 days to do, let’s say, reset your digital life, because you might imagine you might approach revamping your digital life, minimizing your digital life, like Marie Kondo approaches minimizing your closet, you do it in a weekend. Put aside some time and make changes.

Cal Newport: I say you need 30 days. A big reason why is exactly what you just pointed out there, which is it actually just takes a while. It takes a while just having some time and having some space to really get back in touch with yourself and the world around you and to figure out, “Well, what do you really care about? What do I really want to do?” That’s not something you can schedule in for 4:00 to 5:00 today, I’m going to put in time and figure out what I care about and what do I want to do with my life. You actually need time and space.

Cal Newport: That’s why I have people spend a non-trivial amount of time away from these tools, because I think without a non-trivial amount of time it’s hard to come up with non-trivial insight.

John Jantsch: Sometimes the way to get rid of a bad habit, which I think some of this is, bad habits, sometimes you replace it with a good habit. Are there perhaps more positive habits that you recommend, or is it highly personal?

Cal Newport: Well, I think ultimately what tends to work with people who are feeling overwhelmed by the role of tech in their life is actually the rip-off-the-band-aid 30-day process we were talking about, where you really go down to nothing. You empty out the proverbial closet, take some time, and then rebuild it carefully. This tends to work a lot better than trying to work from the top down and just maybe tweak this habit there or that habit there, or maybe change your notifications or make your phone gray scale, or put on some tracking software.

Cal Newport: When you work from the top down trying to change things you don’t like bit by bit, it’s really hard to get sustainable change. If you actually empty out that closet, say, “Let’s start from scratch,” everything now has to re-earn its way back into my life and for a purpose, for something I really care about this tends to be really effective. Which is why I really push this 30-day process.

Cal Newport: Now, there’s a couple of things you can do just to get ready for that so it’s not as jarring. A simple habit that helps you get ready for something like that is just take off your phone any app in which someone makes money from your attention when you click on it. I’m not asking you at this point to quit these things. Whatever storyline you have about “I need it for X, Y, Z” is fine. You can still use them, just use it on your laptop or your desktop computer.

Cal Newport: That alone is going to help get your mind in shape for the bigger decluttering, because it’s going to just force you to be in situations commonly where you’re out and about and can’t easily look at your phone for a distraction. That’s helpful. Also, another helpful thing before you try the rip-the-band-aid-off approach is maybe try to get back into your life one or two of these high quality analog leisure type activities.

Cal Newport: Just reengage your taste for things that require more effort but return more reward in exchange, so that when you actually get to the 30 days, when you get to that first morning and there’s nothing on your phone, and you can’t look at the screen for distraction that you’re not just staring into the existential void. That you’re used to this. You’re used to being a little bit bored and you already have some options in mind for what you could do to fill the time.

John Jantsch: I read a lot of books, so correct me if I got this wrong, that it wasn’t in your book, but when you mentioned that idea of bringing in some high quality leisure, I think you wrote about replacing networking, like the typical chamber of commerce networking, with actually people you want to hang out with. Maybe they are work related, but go do something, volunteer together, go play golf together, go climb a mountain together. Am I making that up or was that part of your work?

Cal Newport: I think that was in there. There’s two related points there. First of all, I talk about the value we get out of just joining things and doing things with people. It’s just fundamentally different than talking with people digitally, and abstract virtual groups, to actually in my town I am getting together with these four people and we are doing this project together. It’s physical and I’m with people and I’m interacting with people.

Cal Newport: We crave that, makes us happy. Putting that in your life is really good. Then there was also a specific networking example where I was talking about the cost in time of various activities. I think I gave the example in there that some people talk about their Twitter use as a key way in which they meet interesting people. If you actually do the calculus, they’re losing something like 10 hours a week on Twitter.

Cal Newport: Where, on the other hand, if they just took two hours a month, let’s say, to go to some really interesting event or three hours a month and meet 10 people at this event, they would probably get similar benefit, but they’d have given up much less of their time. I use that example as a exposition on just actually Henry David Thoreau’s concept of don’t just look at the benefits a thing gets you, you always have to ask what’s the cost of those benefits in terms of hours of my life.

John Jantsch: Speaking of Thoreau, one of my favorite activities when I want to, in fact, I just make it a part of my life, is solitude. Once I’d like to say a month, it probably doesn’t happen once a month, I try to get a whole weekend all by myself. I do know that that has tremendous benefits, but also when I talk to other people, it scares them to death the thought of being alone with nothing but their thoughts. Why do you suppose that is?

Cal Newport: Well, we’re in this unique point in, I think, human history where finally with hundreds of billions of dollars of investment and some of the smartest minds in the world working on it, we figured out how to banish every last moment of solitude from our lives. It’s incredibly unnatural and incredibly hard to do. We had to build a worldwide, wireless, high-speed internet network. We had to build these devices you could bring with you every single place, and that at any moment powerful algorithms running on massive data centers could deliver to you perfectly timed content that’s going to capture your attention. I mean it’s a miracle. It’s also pretty radical.

Cal Newport: It’s become problematic, because it turns out we actually need on a regular basis time alone with our thoughts. We don’t need to be in a cave for months at a time. That’s going to make us lonely and unhappy.

Cal Newport: If in the course of a normal day you don’t have at least a few occasions where it’s just you and your thoughts, and you’re not processing input from some other minds, you’re not looking at social media, you’re not looking at your mentions, you’re not looking at news, you’re just there looking at the world around you and thinking, if we don’t have this on a regular basis even 10 or 15 minutes at a time we get anxious, and we get unhappy. We have a hard time generating business insights or self-reflection which all requires this sort of unstructured thought.

Cal Newport: I’ve become a big proponent, you got to get some of the solitude back into your life. You got to have some every day. It doesn’t have to be for a long time, but you cannot exist in a state of complete solitude deprivation. That’s just incredibly unnatural and causes unpredictable consequences.

John Jantsch: I don’t know if you’ve seen this or experienced this, but I hear people talking about it’s like quitting smoking for some people, if they hadn’t had that in their life. 20 minutes alone and they’re starting to go crazy.

Cal Newport: Could be terrifying for people, especially young people who really starting in their early adolescence have never been free from being bathed in algorithmically optimized input generated by other minds. It is incredibly scary, but it’s crucial. I think it’s just crucial for human thriving. You can do it baby steps at first. If it’s really scary, I mean you can do on 10 minutes at a time, “I’m going to go into the drugstore to get the prescription I’m picking up and come back to my car. I’ll leave my phone in the car while I do it.”

Cal Newport: Start small if you have to. It doesn’t have to be, “I’ve rented the cabin and I’ll be back in three weeks.” It can be smaller, “I’m walking the dog, I’m not bringing the phone.” You have to get used to it. That’s why I spend a lot of time in the book talking about solitude is because it’s completely underappreciated right now.

John Jantsch: Of these 1,600 volunteers, I’m sure, because you are a trained scientist, that you had some closure. Did you get some after the declutter 30-day feedback, and what did people experience?

Cal Newport: I got a lot of interesting reports. One thing I noticed that is interesting is that the people who succeeded with the whole 30 days and having lasting change after the 30 days, they really embraced the idea that this 30 days is about self-reflection, experimentation. That they were actively going out there and trying to figure out, “What do I really want to do with my time? What is the things I care about?”

Cal Newport: They were much more likely to end up with sustainable change. The group that had a much harder time was the group that just saw this as a “detox.” Like, “I just want to get a break from my technology. I’m just going to white knuckle it for 30 days. I’m really bored but this is good. I needed to take a break.” They had a really hard time even sticking with it for 30 days.

John Jantsch: I suspect that the first group saw it as an investment, as the second group saw it as a cost.

Cal Newport: Exactly. When you’re just white knuckling it, you’re like, “I’m trying to get away from this thing that is bad.” The problem is that’s not a strong enough motivation, that when you’re really bored and have nothing to do, to keep you away from it. You eventually say, “Nuts to this. I’m going to check Facebook.” If you’re coming at it from the perspective of positivity, “I am trying to rebuild my life to something much better,” you’re rebuilding your life on top of your values, then you’re much more likely to be successful.

Cal Newport: The other interesting thing I noticed from these reports is that maybe half of the people who sent me reports ended up after doing this process deciding they needed essentially no social media in their life. Half of the people decided, “I still need some social media in my life. It connects to things I really value.” Of that 50% that kept some social media in their life, almost none of them ended up keeping it on their phone. That was one of the biggest takeaways is that social media, it plays really interesting and complicated roles in people’s lives.

Cal Newport: Probably its importance is way overstated. There’s probably way too many people using it than really need to be. There’s also millions for which it’s useful. The need for it to be on your phone, and the need for it to be something that is a constant source of distraction, it came across clear as a bell in my studies that that tends to serve only a very small number of people, namely the major stockholders of a social media company. That there’s almost no reason for anyone to need to look at these things on their phone all the time. That struck me as interesting.

Cal Newport: Social media is not completely worthless. Social media on your phone is something that almost no one needs.

John Jantsch: Great point. Cal, where can people find more about the book and the movement, can we call them a movement, of …

Cal Newport: Fine by me.

John Jantsch: …digital minimalism, and anything else, anywhere else you want to send people?

Cal Newport: Well, you won’t be able to find me on social media, because in true digital minimalist fashion I’ve never had a social media account, which turns out that’s allowed. You can find out about me and the book at I’ve been blogging there for over a decade, so there’s a lot to read. I also have a place where you can find all sorts of interviews and articles and videos I’ve done as part of the press tour for the book. You can also find the book itself in any of the normal places that you would buy books.

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

Cal Newport: Hopefully out there in the real world, participating in some high quality analog activities.

John Jantsch: Amen.

Transcript of Why All Business Owners Should Become Authors

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us-logoJohn Jantsch: Choosing the right domain name is critical to ensuring the success of your small business, but it’s got a little harder. But now you can choose a .us domain to help your business stand out, reserve your .us web address today, go to and use my promo code, podcast, for my special offer.

John Jantsch: Hello and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch. My guest today is Dan Janal, he is a publicity and marketing expert and an author of about a dozen books, including the one we’re going to talk about today, Write Your Book In a Flash. So Dan, thanks for joining me.

Dan Janal: Hey John, pleasure to be here. Thanks for having me, John.

John Jantsch: So I find myself, my listeners are probably getting tired of this. I find myself reminiscing these days about the old days and the folks that have been doing this as long as I have. And I think you and I probably first bumped paths maybe close to 20 years ago around your service that I think still is around today called PR Leads. Do you remember that?

Dan Janal: Yeah, it still is and it’s still helping a lot of people. We have a lot more imitators now, which is fine. Every business has imitators and that’s cool. It proves the concept and it also forces me to be more creative in saying, “what else can I do to help more people?” And that’s why I decided to write my new book, which is called Write Your Book In a Flash.

John Jantsch: Yeah, we’re going to, we’re definitely going to talk about that. But let’s just first talk about books in general and writing books in general. I wrote my first, I don’t think I wrote my first book until 2006, so you wrote yours about 10 years before that maybe, on a topic that was just getting started, internet marketing. So what’s, for you, what’s changed about book writing? I mean it was hard, sort of slogging work back then and a lot of stuff’s come along that’s made it easier, hasn’t it?

Dan Janal: It sure has. You know, back then there was no such thing really as self publishing. It was a big, if you were self publishing, it was very long, expensive, difficult. Today many books are self published and it’s pretty easy. You just write your book, show your book around to a few other people to get some thoughts and feedback as well, but the actual printing process is pretty easy. You go to Kindle Direct Publishing, which is part of Amazon, and you upload your book and bingo, you’re in business. You know, you hire an artist on Fiverr to do a cover for you. Maybe a hire someone on Fiverr to lay out the book for you so it looks a little bit better than what Word can do, and your business.

Dan Janal: When I self published my first book, which was early in 1991, it cost thousands and thousands of dollars. And then when my first commercially published book was done, the book you’re referring to, The Online Marketing Handbook, which was one of the first books about marketing on the Internet 25 years ago, a traditional publisher handled that and it cost them thousands and thousands of dollars for proofreading and copy editing and publishing and printing and distribution and warehouse and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Now, anyone can write a book really fast, get it online and start making money and helping people.

John Jantsch: So here’s a question I do get a lot since you talked about self publish versus the traditional publisher. Is there, I mean, is there one way that you should go? Is there one better than another? Do they have pros and cons? I’m curious how you answer that when people ask you that.

Dan Janal: Sure. We could take about an hour answering it, but here’s a short answer. If, you can build your house yourself or you could hire a general contractor. [inaudible] yourself, a lot of money, it’ll be done a lot faster, but you have to shoulder all the burdens yourself, the copy editing, the proofreading, the layout, the ISBN numbers, loading it to Amazon, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. You can do all that and you can do it really, really fast. So if your purpose is to get your book out fast, have a big business card for yourself to help you stand out from everyone else, then self publishing is definitely the way to go.

Dan Janal: If you are so lucky as to get an offer from a publisher who wanted to print your book and publish your book, it will probably take them about two years to get it into their production cycle. So if you want to make an impact fast, self publishing is still the way to go. And if you’re very successful at it, you will attract a publisher who will put it into their publication cycle.

John Jantsch: Yeah, I mean, just for context, I’m just finishing up or just finished, turned in my manuscript for my sixth book and I signed the contract for that book last July. I turned it in May 1st and it’s going to drop October 22nd. So that’s a real, today, timeline still for the traditional publisher.

Dan Janal: Right. That’s not bad. Six months is not bad. And if they publish it then they’re shouldering the costs of printing, proofreading, copy editing and all the other good things. So all you have to do is be brilliant, which is good.

John Jantsch: Well, you know, I’m a sure thing Dan, so that’s why they had no problem with that. So here’s the big question then of course, and it used to be people would sit around in literary rooms and think, “huh, not everybody should write a book,” but you’re suggesting that every business owner, let’s stay in that category because that’s who my listeners are generally, would you go as far as saying every business owner should have or at least think about a book?

Dan Janal: Definitely. I just worked with one of my clients who owns a HVAC company in Ohio and he wanted a book to stand out from the crowd. And it’s a really good book and it’s a book that can make him stand out from all the other competitors who have good jobs, good recommendations, and everyone on this call has the same thing. We’ve all gone to good schools, we all have good clients, we all have good recommendations, so how is a prospect to separate one from another? It might be because you’re the person who wrote a book. And a person who writes a book is an expert. They’re the acknowledged expert.

Dan Janal: And if you give your book away at a networking meeting or a breakfast meeting or you are more proactive and send it out to your top five prospects, they all keep the book forever. It’ll be on their bookshelves. It’ll stand as a silent sales person for you for a long time until they’re ready to say, “you know, I need a new HVAC system. I know there, I met a guy at a networking session, he wrote a book, it had an orange cover, let me see. Oh, there it is!” You know, and bingo, you get the job. So that’s why every business person needs a book, to stand out from the crowd.

John Jantsch: Yeah, I’m glad you used HVAC as an example because I think it’s getting harder and harder to stand out as a marketing consultant with a book. You know, there are a lot of fields that are pretty crowded with that. But the real opportunity is in those industries where people go, “no HVAC contractor has a book. That’s stupid.” I mean that’s the real opportunity, isn’t it?

Dan Janal: It is. And you’re right in saying that for a marketing consultant or a coach or lots of other businesses, everyone has a book. So if you don’t have a book, then you are not even at the starting gate, you’re not to be taken seriously because everyone else does have that entry level requirement of a book.

John Jantsch: So let’s just stay on the HVAC person. Just for grins. You know, I work with HVAC folks and trying to get them to even give me an idea for a blog post sometimes is hard. I mean, how do you coach people, again, I know the answer is obvious, but a lot of people don’t get this. I mean, how do you coach people on the fact that they do have the information? There’s stuff that they know that people would want to write about. I mean, how do you get that out of them?

Dan Janal: Sure. There are a couple of ways. First you have to realize the only reason someone will buy a book, any book, or read a book, any book, is because they have a problem and they need to solve it. So you should survey your prospects and say, “what is your biggest problem?” And then you have eight chapters that talk about those eight problems and you show them that you are the trusted leader who’s been there and done that, who can take them from mess to success because you’ve done that and you’ve proven that with your book.

John Jantsch: You know, I love sharing tips and resources with small business owners and one of them is you’ve got to choose the right web address for your business and it’s gotten harder. All the good names are gone. But you can take a short relevant .us web address and maybe come up with the best possible name for your business while it’s still available. I want you to reserve your .us web address today. So I’ve arranged a special offer for my listeners. Register your .us domain for just $1.49 for a year. Plus you get free website builder and hosting services for six months. So to go get my special offer, go to and use my promo code, podcast. That’s, promo code, podcast.

John Jantsch: How far do you think a book like that, you know, they’re not angling for the New York Times bestseller list, I mean, as you called it, it’s a great business card. It’s a marketing brochure almost. So how far does a person that writes a book with that objective in mind go in terms of selling what they do? I mean, is it, you know, do you educate, educate, educate, and you hope they call you? Or do you educate and then say, “call me.”

Dan Janal: You do you do both. You educate, but people are suddenly learning that they know, like, and trust you. And the last chapter can very much be a call to action that says, “okay, if you need my help, here’s how I help people.” You can even have one sheets that are advertisements in the back of the book that are real direct calls to action, like a page on your website so people can take action. Because you know, think about it. If you’re a reader, you don’t know that the author is actually doing the work. They think that the author is a writer. They don’t know that they’re actually the provider of those services. They don’t make logical connection. You do. I do. We think they do. They don’t.

Dan Janal: So you have to tell them that, yes, you can install their heating system. Yes, you can install swimming pools, you can be their dentist. So yeah, yeah, you have to be overt. But during the writing of the book, you can subtly pepper your stores by saying, “when I consulted with this company,” or “when I installed this deck for, in this subdivision, blah, blah, blah,” then people will say, “oh yeah, he installs decks in subdivisions.” So there are ways to do it that are subtle and effective.

John Jantsch: So if I’m sitting out there thinking, “okay, this sounds like a good idea, but like what’s involved in this?” I mean, what are the steps really that somebody needs to at least count on either doing themselves or hiring somebody to do?

Dan Janal: Well, those are two great options. And I do work with people who don’t have the time or energy or ability to write books themselves and we can walk through that process. But for someone who would like to do it themselves, some people like to write and some people don’t like to write. If you don’t like to write, don’t turn off this podcast because you can dictate your book. In fact, you may be doing 20 minute sessions at the Rotary Club talking about how to choose the dentist, or what’s [inaudible] in building your deck, or hiring a realtor, or selling your home, or all those other ideas. Well record that and then give it to a transcriber who have to their automated transcription services on the Internet now, and then give it to an editor and they’ll turn it into readable material for you.

Dan Janal: But really think about the eight problems that your potential audience has, and those become the eight chapters in your book. The first chapter is an overview chapter that tells your story, who you are, the struggles you’ve had, how you came to be a success in the field you are today, and what people are going to learn by reading this book. Then you use the eight problems that you’re solving, and then the last chapter is the call to action chapter. That’s it, 10 chapters, 20,000 words, 2000 words per chapter. It’s like a very long blog post. Anyone can do this.

John Jantsch: Yeah, I love that you say that about recording too because for some people that’s just a lot easier in terms of them formulating their thoughts. But I’ll tell you, I can talk 150 words a minute. I can type 45, 50 on a good day. So it’s just a lot faster. And I would be remiss if I didn’t note that one of our sponsors of our show is which is an awesome transcription service. Alright, you call yourself a book coach, or at least that’s one of your titles. What does a book coach actually do to help somebody get a book written?

Dan Janal: We do a number of great things were a cheerleader, we’re an accountability partner, and we’re also an editor. So the coaching service can help you write the outline, write your marketing materials, get you focused on what your book should be about when you hit those inevitable dips, as we all do for writer’s block and whatever. Then the coach acts as your cheerleader, your accountability partner to get you back in the groove. And they also give you feedback on your writing and any other questions you have about the publishing industry.

Dan Janal: There’s also something called a content development editor, which is something I did for the HVAC guy cause he only wrote [inaudible] and his copy editor said, “you know, you really need to show this to a developmental editor.” And what she meant by that was, “you told the same story three times in three different chapters. You told this story and it really didn’t make the point that you thought it would make, you know the whole chapter on this topic, but your stories really don’t mash and you need more information. You make these assertions, but you need statistics.”

Dan Janal: So they, they act as your editor and your friend to guide you in the right direction saying, “you know, here’s what your book really needs.” So some developmental editors just give a review of a first draft and say, chapter by chapter, “here’s what’s good, here’s what needs work.” And they’re done with it. Other developmental editors actually work with you more hand in hand and they do that first overview, but then they work with you to make sure that you bring it up to that level that is expected to make it a professional book. And of course most people are aware of proofreaders and copy editors and that’s the lower level work, to be honest, because that’s the nitty gritty and they’re looking for typos and grammar and punctuation and all that stuff. That’s the very last thing you need to do.

John Jantsch: Yeah, they don’t care what you said just as long as you said it right. It’s going to have a look at that.

Dan Janal: Exactly. As long as there’s a period at the end of the sentence, they’re happy.

John Jantsch: Yeah. And that’s, what you just described, is pretty typical of the traditional publishing model. You know, you have that overarching person that wants to make sure the narrative runs through the book in the right way and that the reader gets kind of the impact delivered and then you’ve got that person looking for inconsistencies throughout. And then you’ve got, as you said, the person that’s looking for typos and commas and semicolons. So it really, a lot of people underestimate how much editing, I suppose, goes into a well written book.

Dan Janal: It really does take a village to write a book because if you write a book by yourself, it could be good, but two heads are better than one. So having someone look over your shoulder and say, “hey, you did this, the story goes on too long,” or “you don’t have enough stories,” or “you need statistics to back up your claims here,” or “you have too many statistics, you’re going to bore people to death!” You lose perspective, and that’s where the developmental editor comes in and saves your butt.

John Jantsch: So a really favorite headline it seems of the Internet marketing folks is to say, “I’m going to reveal the number one secret that nobody in the industry wants you to know,” that’s like a hook to really bring people in. So what’s the number one secret that book authors don’t want you to know?

Dan Janal:  Well, book authors want you to know everything and that may be the problem. No one wants to read the encyclopedia about your topic. Today’s reader wants to pick up a book when they get on a plane in New York and finish it by the time they land in Los Angeles, if not before. So books are getting smaller, easier to read, a lot of cartoons, images, things that make the world just easier to understand. So I think a big problem that a lot of people have when they sit down to write a book is they think, “well I have to cover everything about this industry,” and the answer really is no. It goes back to those eight problems that your prospects have. So they come to know, like, and trust you, so they want to hire you.

John Jantsch: So in the title of your book, which is Write Your Book In a Flash, I want to just get a sense, if I’m listening, what’s ‘a flash’ mean? I mean, if I’ve got the book and I’ve got a reasonable, you know, handle on what the topics should be and whatnot, what’s in a flash? From the time I maybe contact you, or from the time that I start writing to the whole publishing, out there, people can buy it now.

Dan Janal: Great question. It’s different for different people because the number one question that I get on my forums is, “I don’t have time to write a book. I have kids, I have work, I this, I that, blah blah blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.” I think if you have 15 minutes a day to write a book, you can write a book in four months. Because in 15 minutes a day you can write about 250 words. So four days you have a thousand words. You need 20,000 words for a book. Do the math yourself. If you can carve out 15 minutes a day by waking up earlier, by going to sleep later, by taking 15 minutes off of your lunch hour, by not watching television for 15 minutes, any of those things, you can write a book in three to four months.

Dan Janal: And if I were your coach, same thing. It can be done that fast. Cause again, books only need to be about 20,000 to 25,000 words. So it’s a whole different world today than when Good to Great was being published, which is way more words. So you can get by with doing less and have more impact.

John Jantsch: Well, and I think a lot of people underestimate. There are very few people sitting around in their robe, you know, writing books. I mean most people write books when they’re done with their day job. So most of the books that you see out there are written in that fashion. They’re not people sitting around writing books for four months in their writing cabin in the mountains. So where can people find out more about not only Write Your Book In a Flash, but about the work that you’re doing? Where would you send people?

Dan Janal: Thank you. I believe in consistent branding. So Write Your Book In a Flash is the name of my book, it’s the name of my website, it’s the name of my Facebook page, it’s the name my YouTube channel where I have lots of questions from people and we answer them through YouTube. So will take you to all of those places.

John Jantsch: Awesome. Dan, thanks for stopping by. You’re still in the Minneapolis area, is that right?

Dan Janal: Yes, I am.

John Jantsch: Awesome. Well, it was great catching up with you and a really important topic. Everybody should write a book and they should write it in a flash. I think that sounds awesome. So hopefully we’ll bump into, you won’t be 10 years or so before the next time we chat.

Dan Janal: That’ll be great. Thank you very much for the opportunity. I appreciate [inaudible] helping your listeners.

Transcript of How to Give a Great Business Presentation

Transcript of How to Give a Great Business Presentation written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

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John Jantsch: Hey, this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by We do all of our transcriptions here on the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast and using, and I’m going to give you a special offer in just a bit.

Hello, and welcome to another episode of the duct tape marketing podcast. This is John Jantsch and my guest today is Michael Port. He is an actor, speaker, trainer, and author. Of course, many of you know his book, Book Yourself Solid, his more recent Steal the Show, and he’s also the co-founder of Heroic Public Speaking, an organization that is really, I think, revolutionizing the training of public speakers and presenters. So Michael, thanks for joining me.

Michael Port: You are very welcome. Thank you for having me.

John Jantsch: So, I always like to start with a hard question. You train a lot of public speakers, so what’s the one thing that you have to work on almost everyone?

Michael Port: There isn’t one thing, unfortunately, I wish … if there was just one thing I needed to work on for everybody, that would be great. But I would say this: if I was going to give you one of my top choices, I would say staging, meaning where you go on stage, when you go there, and why you go there. Because what we see in presenters, generally, is one of two things. Either they’re pacing back and forth like a caged animal, and they’re wearing a path in the rug, or they just stand in one place frozen like a deer in the headlights. And one of the things that is difficult for an audience is the sameness. So, audiences often are most compelled by contrast, changes, things that are different. If you went to listen to Yo-Yo Ma play the cello, arguably our generation’s greatest cellist, and he played the most beautiful note in the world, but then he played it for three hours, just that one note, you’d run screaming out of the theater.

Michael Port: And so if the audience is forced to watch you pace back and forth for the length of your speech, they’re going to start getting lulled into sameness. And no matter what you’re saying, even if what you’re saying is different, it’s going to start to seem the same because what you’re doing with your body is the same. And the same thing is true for if you’re just stuck in one place, like a deer in the headlights, everything that comes out of your mouth will seem similar because your physicality is similar.

Michael Port: So, when we do surveys with the people that we work with, and we work with entrepreneurs who want to book more business through speaking because they know it is such a phenomenal way of advancing their brand and demonstrating credibility, and we work with professional speakers and people who are on that track, and of course we work with executives, professionals inside organizations who know that their ability to communicate is one of the major factors in their advancement inside that organization up into higher levels of leadership. And when we ask people, no matter how much experience they have, no matter which category they’re in, how they feel about their skill with respect to moving on stage, or if they’re in front of a big conference table, or even just a group of 20 people, they always score themselves the lowest across the board. So, that’s generally where we’re able to make the biggest impact, the fastest, so that the audience is getting a visual experience of the material from the speaker, not just an intellectual experience.

John Jantsch: Yeah, and I think most people … well, not everyone does this, but I think most people would say that the big job is to create the content, is to have your ideas concise, and make your point. But I think people probably terribly underestimate the performance aspect of even that conference room presentation. Is that something that … I know it’s because I know you’re training. I know that’s something you work with, but is that something that has to be an intentional part, you believe, for a presentation to be better, that physicality as you call it, has to be an intentional part that’s built in just like the words?

Michael Port: I do. And I think that the word performance or performing can be provocative because if you don’t see yourself as a performer, you may think that a performer is inauthentic, or that performance is inauthentic. And in fact, that’s not the case. What we see in the best performers in the world are the most honest performers, meaning they bring honesty to the stage. But of course, there is such a big focus on authenticity, but authenticity is something that actually can be problematic because, let’s say you are going to give a presentation and you’re sick, and you’re exhausted, and you missed … three planes were canceled on the way there and you haven’t slept in the last day. Well, the last thing you might want to do, actually, is give that presentation. So, if you’re completely authentic, you might walk on in front of the group and say, “Listen, I’m really pissed off that I’m here, I’m sick, I’m tired. I don’t really want to do this, but you know what, I got to do this cause I know it’s good for my business or my boss sent me here to talk to you. So, I’ll just push through it, and then I can’t wait to be done, go get a drink, and go to sleep.” That’s completely authentic. But that’s not necessarily what you’re there to do. And I would venture to say that most people would never, never start a presentation like that.

Michael Port: So, we are always performing in one way, shape, or form if we are trying to get people to think differently, feel differently, or act differently. And the reason that we’re performing is because, in order to get people to think differently, feel differently, and act differently, then we need to make very conscious choices about the actions we’re playing, how we want them to feel, what we want them to do, what we want them to think. And anytime you’re making those conscious choices, you are performing. And so even if you’re trying to get your kid to calm down because they are six years old and they’re throwing a tantrum because they want something that you’re not going to give them, like cotton candy, well you’re going to get really, really clear on what you’re trying to accomplish. If you know what you’re trying to accomplish, then you’re going to choose tactics that you believe will help you accomplish that objective when you speaking to your child.

Michael Port: And so we do this regularly throughout our daily lives. And if we are asked to make a presentation, or we ask to make a presentation, then I think it stands to reason that we would be well served by spending even more time focusing on our objectives, our super objectives for the overall presentation, and then our minute by minute by minute by minute sub objectives as we’re moving through all of that content, and making sure we’re very, very clear on how we want them to feel, what we want them to do, and what we want them to think. And then we’re going to play actions, and make choices, and use different tactics to accomplish those objectives.

John Jantsch: It all sounds like a lot of work. I think I would just give him the damn cotton candy.

Michael Port: Now, I know you as a father, I’ve met some of your daughters. There is no way you are the “I’ll just give you the cotton candy” type of dad, because you had higher expectations for your kids than that. And of course, we’ve all just given in and said, “Here, eat the damn cotton candy because I need to sit down. I can’t take it.” But for the most part, when you have high expectations for the people around you, you’re going to do the work that is required to lean into those expectations. And the amount of work that you put into a presentation, I think, should be directly proportionate to the stakes of the presentation. So, if the stakes are not very high, if you’re going to give a five minute presentation to your kid’s sixth grade class, you could probably go in there and wing that. But if you’re asked to give a 60 minute presentation to people who could have extraordinary influence over your future, the stakes are going to be higher. And to me, I would want to work more on something that has very high stakes.

Michael Port: So yeah, I think there is a lot of work that goes into producing something that is world class or best in class, and if that’s important to you then you’re going to do that kind of work. So, I don’t shy away from the fact that it does take a lot of work, I think, to be really, really quite effective as a performer. And I think one of the reasons that we don’t think it takes that much work is because we speak all the time, and often the things we’re talking about when we give a presentation are things that we’re used to talking about, sitting at a table one on one with somebody or just chatting in the hallway. But just because we have experience with something, doesn’t mean that we are able to present it in speech format to a large group of people in a way that’s going to be extremely compelling.

Michael Port: So, we work, as I said, with people from all different industries and all different levels and we’ll often work with folks who come out of very, very high positions at big name marquee type companies. So, they have extraordinary expertise in their particular area and they have a personal brand reputation that is really impressive, in part because of the work they did at these companies in the past. And so, because they feel that they are experts, they feel like they should just be able to talk to the audience just for 60 minutes and the audience is going to get so much value from it.

Michael Port: But the fact of the matter is, when you have expertise in something, you’ve often forgotten more about that particular topic than most people in the audience know. And so, because so much of it is so intuitive to experts, they often leave really big gaps in their material that they assume the audience can fill, but in fact the audience has trouble filling. Or they make the material overly complicated because they’re so interested in all of the nuances of all of that material. And to them it all makes sense, but without the same kind of context that they have, it’s harder for the audience, even if they’re sophisticated, intelligent, experienced folks. Sometimes it’s just not enough. So, it tends to take a lot more work to produce a really great speech than I think people realize.

Michael Port: And then one other thing I want to say about this is sometimes people push back and they say, “Well, I don’t really want to do rehearsal on a speech because I’ve tried it in the past and it doesn’t work. It makes me stiff, or I feel slower, stodgy, I just don’t feel like I’m on my game.” And that is an absolutely accurate assessment of their experience. I’ve seen this over and over and over again. And the reason that they felt stiff or like they were off their game is not because they did rehearsal, it’s because they only did a little bit of rehearsal. Because when you do a little bit of rehearsal, generally what happens when you’re trying to present, instead of being in the moment, you’re trying to recall what you had worked on in rehearsal and repeat it. But what happens is you’re now in two different places, and what great performers do is they know their material so well that they can completely forget it before they walk on stage and allow it to come to them in the moment, so that, to the audience, it feels like it’s the first time it’s ever being shared or delivered and it feels relevant and spontaneous.

Michael Port: But you get that spontaneity when you are able to mix both preparation and improvisation, but just winging it is not improvisation. Just winging it is just making it up as you go. And I know we think that if we get into a high state where we have a lot of adrenaline pumping, that we think we’ll rise to the occasion, but the military tells us that we usually don’t rise to the occasion. We fall back on our training, because when the stakes are high, and when adrenaline is pumping, when things are moving fast, then in order to be able to deliver what’s needed in that moment, it’s got to be in your bones. If we have to think too hard, then we tend to feel slow, stiff, and out of step.

Michael Port: Just like if you said, “Listen, Michael, I’m going to … I need some help fighting in Syria right now. I know you don’t have military training, you don’t know how to use the comms. Actually, you don’t even know how to use most of the weapons that we’ll use. I know you’ve never done any kind of training whatsoever, but I’m sure you’ll rise to the occasion as soon as we put you in the firefight.” Oh, I’m going to die. It just … I’m going to be dead, and the stakes are higher there because it’s life or death. On the stage, it’s not life or death. So, you feel, “Okay, well if I don’t kill it, well I’m not going to die.”

Michael Port: But you probably are missing some extraordinary opportunities because if you’re an entrepreneur … look, there are some core self promotion strategies. There’s networking, direct outreach, referral strategies, there are web strategies, there are writing strategies, and of course there are speaking strategies. And there are few strategies that give you more credibility than being given some sort of platform from which to speak. And if you’re given a platform from which to speak, I think it is a great honor. And so if you’ve got 50 people in the room and you take an hour, well that’s 50 hours of time that someone has given you. And to me, there’s a great responsibility. I have an enormous amount of reverence for that stage, for that platform, and for the people in the room. And if our job is to focus entirely on serving those people, helping them, not just looking good ourselves, but focusing on producing results for the people in the room by solving their problems, actually, public speaking gets a lot easier, because you’re not as self absorbed herself to centered. The self absorption and the self centeredness is what produces the anxiety, but if you’re not focused on yourself and you’re focused on solving their problems and helping them produce results, you tend to be actually much more relaxed.

John Jantsch: This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by There are so many ridiculously valuable reasons to order transcriptions. You can write entire blog posts. Heck, you could write an entire book by just speaking it and having rev put together a transcript that you can then just bring on home. I mean, if you want to record a meeting so that you have notes, again over and over, there are so many good reasons. If you just want to take notes when you’re listening to something and you just want to record those notes and get it, it’s amazing what the reasons you can find for doing this, and Rev gets those transcripts. As I said, they do our podcast, they get those transcripts back to you lightning fast, and I’m going to give you a free trial offer. If you go to, and that’ll be in the show notes too, but you’re going to get a hundred dollar coupon to try them out, and I suggest you do it.

John Jantsch: Yeah, I think that in my speaking, that was a huge moment for me was to realize what am I here to give as opposed to how am I here to entertain them? Especially in … I built my entire business, I tell people this all the time and I trained consultants on this all the time, doing what I call speaking for leads. And because you’re absolutely right. For a consultant, a professional service provider, I mean really just about any industry, it’s probably the most potent way to kind of move somebody from knowing you, to them liking you, to them trusting you, to sort of trying you because they’ve now seen what it’s going to be like to work with you. So, it’s like you move that customer journey so fast with with this tactic.

Michael Port: That’s right. And you know John, the expectations for speakers differ. So, if you are going to present to a group of 30 people at a business networking event or a Chamber of Commerce, or some other place where your target market is gathered, well they may not expect you to come in and have them rolling in their seats. They’re expecting you to solve their business problems as they relate to your expertise, and their immediate needs. But if you want to be a $30,000 professional speaker speaking at big conferences where your job is to set the key … strike the keynote for 5,000 people in the room, well then the expectations are going to be different. And there will be a higher level of entertainment value expected.

Michael Port: Now, if entertainment value is not expected, but you can still deliver it, well then you really stand out. So, if you can solve their problems, if you can deliver exceptional transformational experiences for them because you’re offering them solutions to things that really frustrate them and challenge them, and you can entertain them at the same time, well then you’re in a league of your own, especially in those environments where the entertainment value expectations are actually low.

Michael Port:  And look, give yourself some credit because you’re pretty darn entertaining. You really are. You’re witty, your sense of humor is dry, and you, I think, are fully self expressed when you’re presenting and you do it in your way. And that’s what’s so important. There is no one style that works for presenting. And any time you try to present like someone else, you’re setting yourself up for failure because you will never be like somebody else. And if you focus on amplifying the most compelling parts of your personality as it relates, again, to solving the problems for the people that you serve who are in the room at that time, well then you can create a style that you feel very comfortable with and really, really shows off your personality. Because there are no expectations with respect to how you’re supposed to be as a presenter. What they’re evaluating is, “Did this person help solve my problems? And do I feel like I can produce a better result because I heard them? And did I enjoy myself while I did it?” If you’ve got those three things, you’re good to go.

John Jantsch: Let’s … because we have been focusing a little bit on winning more business and not necessarily wowing 50,000 people, because the bulk of people will never have that experience. I mean, they’ll sit across the table, they’ll try to convince somebody to buy from them. When creating presentations that are maybe primarily to get business, like I talked about my speaking for leads, what do you find the best way? Because I think this is … sometimes people can have great information and then they get to that call to action part, and they sort of stumble. It either comes out inauthentic or they don’t really get across what they’re trying to say. I mean, what’s the key to writing effective … if we are trying to get business from that talk, what’s the key to writing effective or presenting an effective call to action?

Michael Port: So, let’s back it up a little bit because as you know, the closing techniques that someone uses in say, a sales conversation are often not the things that made the sale or lost the sale. The sale is usually made much earlier on in the relationship. Earlier in the pipeline is when you’ve won or you’ve lost. But sometimes we associate something we did at the end and say, “Well, that’s why I won the business.” And of course there are certainly some tactics that are more effective than others when it comes to actually asking for the business. But if we back it up a little bit and we focus on, “Alright, well how would we … if we’re just doing a short presentation, how would we structure it? What’s important?” Well, there are five elements that we see exist in every good presentation, and I stay away from absolutes, but in this case you can find these five elements in one way, shape, or form in great presentations that you see.

Michael Port: Now, they’re not the only five elements that you’ll have in a presentation, but it’s a great way to start. And very often when we work with individuals who are promoting their businesses through speaking, or if we’re going into large organizations and we’re working with sales teams or anybody else that is out in the world presenting that brand, we’ll work them through what’s called the foundational five. And the foundational five is five elements that, if we are really clear on, then we can make this pitch, this presentation in almost any way, shape, or form in three minutes, or 30 minutes, or three hours. It doesn’t really matter because those are elements that we hit and we can expand or contract them based on the length of time that we have.

Michael Port: So number one, we need a big idea. We need a big idea. And a big idea doesn’t need to be different to make a difference, but it needs to be true for the people in the room, and it needs to be relevant for the people in the room, and interesting to the people in the room. So, what’s a big idea? Well, if I think about a Duct Tape Marketing. To me, Duct Tape Marketing is a big idea because … and I’m not an expert in Duct Tape Marketing, but I know the brand from seeing it out in the world. And I would say this, and you could tell me if I nailed this or if I’m off. I would say that this: most marketing education, seems to me, focused primarily on tactics, but tactics that are ad hoc, often disparate. And what happens is the entrepreneur is fed so many different lines of thinking that they don’t know what to do with it all because there’s no context around it. But what you’ve done with Duct Tape Marketing is you’ve created a system so that any entrepreneur can plug that system into their process, and then they have a repeatable system for booking more business. So, you’ve taken a very systematic approach to it. To me, that’s a big idea. Did I get that? Am I right?

John Jantsch: Of course. I mean, you just wrote my brochure.

Michael Port: Perfect. So, that’s a big idea, and that’s something that people will resonate with. They’ll go, “Yeah, man, I really, I just read a marketing book and it just was idea after idea after idea, I don’t even know what to do with these things. And then this guy’s saying, well no, there’s a systematic approach to it.” So, if you’re somebody who likes organization and structure and order, well now you’ve got something that you can really, really hold on to and use for the rest of your life, your career.

Michael Port: So, that’s a big idea. Then there’s a promise. Each speech has some sort of promise. Each presentation has a promise. So. What’s the promise that you’re making to the people in the room? Because the big idea is a way of seeing the world that if they adopt, will be one of the reasons they’re able to achieve the promise. And so in order for them to get this promise, they got to buy into the big idea. And our job is to demonstrate that this big idea is something that’s relevant to them, it’s interesting to them, and will produce return for them. So, if the promise is, “Well, you’re going to have more clients than your heart desires. You’re going to have as much business as you could possibly handle.” Well, that’s a promise that I think most entrepreneurs that you work with, they want … if someone can make them that promise, they say, “This fantastic. That’s what I want.” So people … if they listen to your presentation, and they buy into the big idea, and they go and implement it, that’s what should happen. So, that’s pretty straightforward.

Michael Port: Now, there are three more elements. Element number three is being able to demonstrate that you understand the way the world looks to the people in the room.

John Jantsch: I’m going to interrupt you. I thought you were going to tell me, but you have to buy the book to get the three adenoids, so …

Michael Port: That’s funny. No, that’s exactly the problem with most speeches is they don’t actually deliver. They just say, here’s a little tease and then that’s it. But I think if you say you’re going to do something you have to do it. It’s one of the things we see happens in speeches. They’ll say, “Okay, so there are five elements to, X, Y and Z.” Then they do three and they go, “Oh shucks, I only had time for three. Too bad. But you know what? In the back of the room you can buy …” And that’s not how Duct Tape Marketing folks do business.

Michael Port: So, the third element is being able to demonstrate that you understand the way the world looks to the people in the room. Because when you have the platform and you’re an expert, it’s the … you’re asking them often provocative questions and you’re sometimes asking them to challenge themselves to do things differently, which means they’ve got to do some work. And some of that work may be uncomfortable, either because it’s time consuming or because it means they have to change something. And if they distance themselves from you because they don’t think you understand them, even if your big idea is interesting and relevant to them, and even if the promise that you’re making is something that they want, they may opt to say, “You know what? He doesn’t really get me or she doesn’t really understand me and my business is different. Whatever they’re talking about, I mean, it probably works, but it’s not really for me.” And then they can get out of doing that work. But if they feel that you’re just knocking one pin down after another, where they say, “Oh my god. Yep, that’s me. Yep, that’s me. Yep, that’s me. Yep, that’s me. Yep, that’s me,” then they see that you really understand the way the world looks to them and they’re more likely to listen to you.

Michael Port: The fourth element is being able to demonstrate, illustrate, articulate the consequences of not adopting the big idea, the consequences of not fulfilling this promise. And often, as you know, people are more motivated to move forward when they’re trying to move away from something, something that hurts. You’re going to move your hand away from fire much more quickly then you’ll pull it out of just sort of lukewarm water. So, we want to make sure that we don’t skip over those consequences because we think that they already know what they are. We want to stoke the fire there. We want to push the buttons a little bit more.

Michael Port: And then the fifth element is being able to demonstrate, illustrate, articulate the rewards of adopting this worldview, seeing the world differently, adopting this big idea, achieving this promise, because that’s where they want to go. So, there are, of course, financial rewards, there are spiritual rewards, there are physical rewards, there are emotional rewards. And if you know your audience really well, then you’ll know which rewards are most exciting to them that are going to get them the most stimulated.

Michael Port: Now, with that said, then the next question is, “Well, you did all of this, they love it. How do you move the conversation forward? How do you continue it?” And there are certainly lots of different ways to do it, but when I was doing those kinds of speeches earlier on in my career, I didn’t like the idea of making any kind of hard sell, because at that point, I wasn’t well known. It’s very different when you walk into a room and they already know you, they’ve already read your books. It’s a very different dynamic. If Oprah walks into a room and says, “Listen, lie down on the floor and act like bacon,” you’d be like, “Alright, sounds like a great idea.” But you know Oprah and you trust her and you think, “Well, she’s asking me to do this for a good reason.”

Michael Port: But if the people in the audience don’t know you, well, do you have enough trust to make sales offers? Because it seems to me that sales offers should be proportionate to the amount of trust that we’ve earned. And so I, when giving a short presentation, 20 minute presentation to say, a Chamber in 2003 when nobody knew who I was, I didn’t feel comfortable saying, “Okay, great. Now, you’ve got to hire me.” So, what I did instead was say, “Listen, every week I do this thing,” and I had a name for it, “and each week I would bring a different topic that relates to you, and the specific issues that you face on a regular basis. And then we, we address it, we discuss it, and it’s free and it always will be. And I don’t sell anything there. And if you love it, you’ll keep coming back. And if you can come next Monday, you’ll come. If not, you’ll come the following Monday, it’ll be there for you. And if you don’t like it, then you won’t come back again but didn’t cost you anything. And here’s how you can sign up for it.”

Michael Port: And that one strategy for me produced 85% of all business that I booked because, of course, once they’re into that environment, now you’re developing really deep relationships with them and they are starting to raise their hand and say, “Hey listen, I’d like to talk to you about working with you.” Because of course they know what you do, and if they think you have the solutions to their problems, they’re going to be looking at your offers. And if you’re in regular communication with them, then you’re continuing to nurture that relationship and make offers as is appropriate based on the amount of trust you’ve earned. So, the more trust you earn, the bigger the offers are that you can make. And so I did it in that form, because it made sense for me, given the kind of work that I did, but it doesn’t have to be in a weekly conference call or a weekly livestream. It could be something that you do one on one really, really simple just with an individual at a time, 20 minutes at a time. So- [crosstalk]

John Jantsch: And obviously that’s a bigger investment of time on your part. But I think it sends such a signal that you’re in this for the long haul. You’re not just trying to sell me something and be done. Obviously once I get to know you, I’m probably going to pay a lot more money, than I might have at that event. So, it- [crosstalk]

Michael Port: No, I mean, that’s exactly right. I mean, we’re always looking at the lifetime value of somebody that we serve. If you’re just a sort of a, like, “Okay, let me just try to get a quick thing here, quick thing there, quick thing there,” that’s one way of building a business, but it’s not particularly satisfying, at least to me longterm. And I don’t think it’s particularly meaningful to the people that we serve. And I think you make an extraordinarily important point because if you … if part of the reason that you’re on a platform presenting yourself is because you’re trying to demonstrate credibility and earn credibility and earn, I think, is really the operative word, we can’t just … we’re not entitled to credibility because of something we’ve done. We have to continue to earn it and every new person we meet, we’ve got to earn it again.

Michael Port: And as soon as we start to feel entitled to that attention or that credibility, that’s when we start, I think, just going down hill. So if I’ve got to earn it, I think it’s really important to people that we serve to see that you’re in it for the long haul, and that what you’re doing is going to be around for a long time to come. Because one of the ways that people infer credibility is by seeing your consistency. So, the more consistent you are, the more credible they will see you. And if what you produce consistently is something that will help them specifically, well that’s a pretty good match.

John Jantsch: Absolutely. So Michael, if I was out there thinking I want some help writing my speech, I want some help with the performance of that, I want some help on how to rehearse, tell us about Heroic Public Speaking and how you might be able to help us.

Michael Port: Well, thank you. I would love to. Look, has got tons of information. has got lots of information and, of course, free tip sheets, resources, videos that you can watch. So, we try to do our best to give you a really clear picture of how we help. But we work with both corporations, and we work with individuals, and we have a 10,000 square foot facility here in New Jersey, in an adorable little town and we run really comprehensive training programs for individuals and for organizations both here on site and at their headquarters as well.

Michael Port: But the thing that I think is important to remember, is that every single person that we work with is unique, is an individual. And we do not work with the same people in the same way, which is one of the reasons that we put so much customization into our training programs, because we think that if you see somebody that we’ve worked with and you say, “Oh yeah, that’s a Heroic Public Speaking speaker,” then we failed. Each person should be unique and what you should see is the extraordinary work that speaker is doing. But most importantly, you should see transformation in the audience. But the craft itself should be transparent.

Michael Port: So, we do a lot of customization for the people we work with and we’ll work with people individually for those whom it’s appropriate. We have online courses, in person courses, short-term courses, longterm courses. We really try to serve the different types of people that we have dedicated ourselves to based on what is most appropriate for them in the timeframe that they have available to them.

John Jantsch: Well, and as somebody who has both watched you work and been been a student of your work. I mean, I think clearly, a lot of the growth that you’ve experienced at HPS has to … is really a telltale sign of the effectiveness of the work that you’ve done.

Michael Port: Thank you so much. We are very … our net promoter score is consistently above 90, and if people aren’t familiar with net promoter score, I’ll give you a framework. Bank of America … Well, so I’ll start with Apple. Apple is about a 65 and they’re a pretty popular company, and Bank of America is about a negative 27. So, you get the … you see the range there. But for us, what we’re most proud of is that 90% of the people that we serve come from referrals from other people that we serve. And that means a lot to us.

John Jantsch: And it’s just

Michael Port: Correct.

John Jantsch: So, Michael, always great to catch up with you and hopefully we’ll see you sooner than later.

Michael Port: Thank you so much, my friend.

Transcript of Everything You Need to Know About Podcasting

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

John Jantsch: Hello and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing podcast. This is John Jantsch and my guest today is John Lee Dumas. He’s the host of EOFire, an award-winning podcast that interviews successful entrepreneurs seven days a week. That’s right. Every single day except over 1,400 interview, a million monthly listeners. It’s really become not only a great place for you to get inspiration just entrepreneurially but also to learn about podcasting. We’re going to talk about a variety of things today including a new passion project that’s turned into a big business all by itself, I think. Something called The Freedom Journal. John, welcome back.

John Lee Dumas: Well, John, I’m glad to be back and to combine over 2,000 episodes which is just mind-boggling.

John Jantsch: Yeah, it really is. I’ve done it the long hard way. Well, you’ve done it the really fast cool way. Let’s start there with my guessing. Is there anything new in the world of podcasting that you’re seeing coming that you are telling people that they need to pay attention to?

John Lee Dumas: Yeah. I say over and over again, if I launched Entrepreneur On Fire today, it would fail. It would fail in 2016 because (1) I was not a good podcaster when I launched. It took me a long time to get my “interview chops” and that’s why I did it daily so I could really get to practice. Now, I’m over 1,500 episodes. If I launched the show today, it would fail because it’s too broad. It’s not niche enough. I land grabbed. I was there early enough. I wasn’t as early as you, of course, but I was there early enough where I was able to land grab and really get a name and momentum that I’ve continued to be able to build momentum, momentum, momentum. I got there because of that.

John Lee Dumas: If I wanted to launch a successful show today in 2016, I would have to find a niche. I’m not just talking like a narrow niche. I’m talking like a narrow, narrow niche where I would just say, “Hey, I’m going to dominate this topic in the podcasting world, and the area that I’m passionate about and that I have some value to give. I’m going to do it in a meaningful way.” People that launch these broad topic podcast, I think, are going to struggle because there’s just a lot of saturation out there in the broad markets, but there’s never enough niche podcast, people that find that unique value distinguisher that’s going to make them win. That’s what’s new in 2016. In my opinion, podcasting is hot. It is the golden age of podcast and you’ll hear it over and over again, but for a host, if you’re starting any time this year or next, find that narrow niche and dominate it.

John Jantsch: One of the things that I have attributed to podcasting that not everybody talks about. Obviously, there are a lot of people out there that would love to have this success in the revenue that’s come with that success directly related to podcasting that you have, but I talk a lot of small business owners and actually tell them that one of the little talked about things that podcasting can bring you is access. There are many, many people that I have gained access to because I said, “Hey, I want to interview you and promote your book” as opposed to, “Hey, I just want to talk to you for 20 minutes and pick your brain.” I think a lot of business owners miss that opportunity. I think there is a place for podcasting for somebody to just interview hot prospects in their community or people that are doing what they want to be doing in their community. What do you think about type of podcasting?

John Lee Dumas: I think that’s great. I think the regional podcast is really powerful. I look back and I’m not honestly, personally, super religious of a person, but when I first heard about podcasting, it was from my friends that were talking about going to church services or more likely missing church services and then listening to the podcast afterwards like on Monday or Tuesday. I was like “What’s a podcast? What do you mean by that?” They described and I was like “Oh.” Churches were, interestingly enough, pretty early in on the podcasting game like back in the mid 2000s. Literally, some churches were doing this for people that would miss church. They proved that it can be a regional win. The people in the community will say, “Hey, I missed that service, but I want to hear what the sermon was about. Let’s do this.” People today are winning regionally as well. I think that’s really important.

John Lee Dumas: I have a couple friends in the City of Portland, Maine where I was born and raised and actually launched EOFire back in 2012 in Portland, Maine that are doing really cool regional podcast that are being listened to because people want to know what’s happening in Portland, not just in the world. They want the niche podcast. They want the specifics. That’s why people like picking up the local newspaper because they’re going to see their kids in the high school basketball game. They’re not going to get that on USA today. That’s why local newspapers are still winning on some levels. I think regional podcast will as well.

John Jantsch: People love to talk about the tools and the technology involved in podcasting. I had Mike Stelzner on recently and he’s a social media examiner. He is always pushing me on the, “Oh, you need to do this to make your audio better and that to make your audio better.” What’s your current mic mixer recording editing software setup?

John Lee Dumas: Yeah. Let me break it down. (1) It’s so much simpler than people think. All you need is a computer, a microphone of some sorts and then recording and editing software. Those are the three things you need. 99% of people that are listening right now, (1) they have that computer. They’re good to go. To be honest, these days, a high-level android or iPhone can honestly work as well. (2) Moving into microphones, I’ll recommend three real quick because I think it’s got a good two different price levels, but my guess to be on my show at a minimum have to have the Logitech Clearchat. It’s 30 bucks. You can get it on Amazon. It’s a USP. It’ll plug into USB ports, to headsets, which is important having a headset and to really quickly get into why that will cut out echo which is really important and feedback as well.

John Lee Dumas: The Logitech Headset Clearchat is 30 bucks on Amazon, if you want to go up to what I consider a really high quality mic. It’s actually my number one recommendation. Combining cost and quality, that’s the ATR 2100. ATR 2100, 80 bucks on Amazon. It’s an amazing quality mic. My number one when you combine the cost and quality. I’m on a Heil PR-40. It’s 350 bucks. It’s not cheap. To be honest, if I was launching a podcast today, I’d be going ATR 2100 all the way downtown. The Heil PR-40 is a broadcast quality mic, but until you really generate significant revenue, the ATR 2100 is all you need. Honestly, people like Tim Ferriss, he was one of the top ranked business podcast, that’s what he uses. People don’t complain about his audio. They just love the show. For recording and editing software, I’m obsessed with Adobe Audition. That is 20 bucks a month. You have to subscribe to the Adobe Creative Cloud for that. I recorded and edited all 1,500 EOFire episodes in Adobe Audition.

John Lee Dumas: If you want to go free, you have Audacity, which is great for MAC and PC. If you want to go MAC because you’re a MAC lover, then GarageBand works really great as well. Again, that’s to record and edit your episodes and then you’re good to go. That’s a podcast. You just need to submit it to iTunes.

John Jantsch: Adobe Audition works PC, MAC too, right?

John Lee Dumas: Yes, it does both.

John Jantsch: It doesn’t matter. Right. Yeah. What about a mixer? Again, I know, now, we’re going down the rabbit hole of making-

John Lee Dumas: Sure.

John Jantsch: …this more complex, but I found that when I switched to just a little simple two-channel mixer, it powered my mic a lot better.

John Lee Dumas: Yeah. I think a mixer can add benefit, for sure. I recommend for people that struggle with the techy stuff, just don’t even go with a mixer, personally. Again, that would be me launching today. Now, I launched in 2012 and I hired people like Cliff Ravenscraft too as a tech geek. I love him for it. He set me up with a PreSonus FireStudio mixer and Firewire that goes into my MAC. This is the setup that I’ve had since 2012. I just pressed the power button. That’s why it works for me because I don’t touch anything. I don’t touch the knobs. I’m just good to go, but with computers, as they are today, with the audio cards in them and with Adobe Audition, Audacity or GarageBand, whichever one you choose, they have FX and that’s just the letter FX that you can just add to improve the audio. I personally don’t think you need a mixer like you use to, but like you said, it can help with the boost and the gain and taking out some of the hissing noises that is best to do at the source rather than after the fact.

John Jantsch: Plus, I sound so much sexier with a little reverb don’t you think?

John Lee Dumas: You do sound sexy, I would say.

John Jantsch: What do you do after you hit stop? Again, I don’t want to go down this whole road of all the technical stuff.

John Lee Dumas: Sure.

John Jantsch: I’m more interested in the fact that you produce so many shows. You, obviously, are getting some help after you hit stop. I’m guessing that, maybe, the last time you fuzz with the actual podcast.

John Lee Dumas: Yeah. I have a whole team now at, again, Episode 1500 four years later. From day one, I learned it. I got my hands dirty. I learned everything. I think it’s important to know how to do these things because if you don’t know how to do these things, you don’t know how to train your team to do these things. I really am glad that I got my hands dirty and I can do all of this stuff. The editing, the exporting, the uploading into the media host, like all of those things I can do, but I have a team in place now that when I hit the stop button, they take it and they run. I do go back. I have my little checks and balances where I’m making sure that everything has been uploaded correctly to the media host and to iTunes into my website, but it’s very minimal, the work that I do after the stop button because my team is in place. It took me years to get here. I think that people should not be afraid of getting their hands dirty to start.

John Jantsch: I completely agree. The technology has gotten so simple to use. Once you know how to do it or once you know how you want your process done, it’s really easy to make a checklist for a virtual assistant to do most of these steps because they all have access to these tools today too.

John Lee Dumas: It’s unbelievable. I actually run the world’s largest podcasting community, Podcasters’ Paradise. Every week, I’m doing a free podcast masterclass for anybody that wants to attend. In that masterclass, I show people the eight steps, all the way from hitting record all the way to submitting to iTunes. There’s eight steps. I show you how to do those eight steps live. I do it live during this workshop in under three minutes. Once you know it, it’s super simple.

John Jantsch: Yeah. That’s so great too because I think part of what holds people back is, they’re thinking, “Oh, who has hours everyday to be doing this podcast?”

John Lee Dumas: Right.

John Jantsch: You’re right. It’s simple.

John Lee Dumas: Right.

John Jantsch: What do you think about the rush to live video that’s going on right now? Again, I know that’s not podcasting but in some ways, it fits into that medium, that space. Are you a fan of it or you think it’s here to stay, you think it’s a fan?

John Lee Dumas: I’m a fan of it. I think that when you have built up an audience, that audience does want more of you. They want more behind the scenes. They want more little tidbits. I actually have a thing that I call JLD rants where I will use video. I’m actually, personally, not a huge, what I would call, “live video person” as much as I am nearly live video person. I say that because I do use, pretty much, daily SnapChat, Instagram stories and Instagram. When I hit publish, it’s immediately available to the world, but I’m not recording it live like I can do a 10-second video on SnapChat and be like, “Oh, that was terrible.” I can redo it and redo it until I like it. Then I publish it, and then it’s available to the world. It’s not, for me, technically live. It’s like near live.

John Lee Dumas: I think some people are fighting a lot of success with stuff that is live like Facebook Live and be a good example. Like Periscope, before Facebook Live came in and butted them out. That is something that I’m seeing people use to build audiences, but I think there’s a really big concern here going back to what I said about the land grab is, there’s a lot of noise out there in this world, a lot of noise. Unless you have an audience that knows, likes and trust you because you built that up through different channels and you have something of meaning to say, then I think you’re going to lose when it comes to live video. Why I think Periscope personally lost and a lot of people within Periscope wasted a ton of time, because they had flip on Periscope and they would bring their face, want it from the screen and they’d be like “Oh, John, thanks for coming. Where are you from? Okay. Yeah. Sarah from Ohio.”

John Lee Dumas: Nobody wants to tune in consistently or something where you’re just welcoming people and shouting out where they’re from. Once you’ve heard your name a couple times, that cool feeling rubs off. Now, people want meaning. They want value. That’s why Gary Vaynerchuck is blowing up. Not to mention, he’s also investing a ton of money boosting his stuff because he has disposable income to put $300, $400, $500 into each one of his videos to really force it into people’s feeds because it’s paid a play when it comes to Facebook. I think the live video is a great way to practice. It’s a great way to really start to try to build that audience who knows, likes and trust you, but just be careful that you’re not just adding more noise to the world. You have to add value.

John Jantsch: Yeah. I think that, again, this sounds so silly to have to keep saying all the time, but there has to be a purpose, there has to be a strategy.

John Lee Dumas: Yeah.

John Jantsch: Am I there to promote other things I’m doing? Am I there to try to give another flavor to the content that people already like. That’s where, I think, you’re right. A lot of people just turn it on and go, “Okay.”

John Lee Dumas: To put an exclamation point on your point is, every time I flip on SnapChat, I have a quote that I’m inspired by. I have a list of 1,000 quotes that I love. What I’ll do is, I’ll say, “Hey, guys. This is a quote that I love from a great entrepreneur. I’ll obviously give the name and the credit to that person.” Then I’ll say, “No, I want to do a rant on this quote about how I think it affects us as entrepreneurs today.” Every one of my SnapChat rants, my Instagram story rants, my Instagram videos, they are all on purpose with a point where I’m saying, “Okay, there’s this great quote by Henry Ford.” Then I’ll go through it and then I’ll say, “Now, this is where I think you can take that quote and use it today.” For me, they’re all mini stories, mini rants off of meaningful words from successful entrepreneurs.

John Jantsch: Let’s now shift gears and talk a little bit about a project that you have been working on, I don’t know, I’m going to say, it seems like a year maybe. It’s been more than a year.

John Lee Dumas: Yeah, two years.

John Jantsch: Two years. Okay,, a different home for what we’re going to talk about today. Let’s describe that. What is The Freedom Journal?

John Lee Dumas:  It was in early January of 2015 where I just hit the tipping point where so many of my listeners of EOFire, what I call, whom I lovingly refer to, I should say, as Fire Nation were just asking met this question over and over again for the years leading up to 2015. Finally, this was like “Okay, this question is so important to people.” That was like “John, you now interviewed thousands of successful entrepreneurs, what’s their secret to success?” My answer, up to that point was always, “They work hard. Hard work is such an important ingredient.” That absolutely, it remains at the forefront of what I say to people to this day. That’s such an important ingredient, but I knew that I wanted to give them more as well.

John Lee Dumas: I really look to people like you, John, who are on my show Episode 563 and other great entrepreneurs like Tony Robbins, Barbara Corcoran, Brian Tracy that I’ve interviewed and I said, “All of my past guests, they know how to set and accomplish goals.” That just kept coming up when I was doing this in-depth study back in early 2015. I said, “Okay, how can I create a tool, a solution? How can I bridge that gap where my guests were successful entrepreneurs are setting and accomplishing meaningful goals and winning and a lot of my listeners are not in losing? How can I fix that? How can I create a solution?” That’s where the idea for The Freedom Journal came. I knew I wanted it to be special. I wanted it not to just be like a PDF or something like an app, like that could be easily replicated or just hitting on a desktop. I wanted it to be special.

John Lee Dumas: I knew from day one it was going to be this gorgeous, stunning, hard cover journal that someone would be proud to hold. I set about learning everything that I could learn about goals and the setting of them and the accomplishing of them. It took me a full year to create the content within The Freedom Journal. Then fast forward to January of 2016, coming up on a year ago, I launched The Freedom Journal via Kickstarter. I didn’t know what people in 2016 were going to think about a hard cover journal. God forbid, it’s not virtual or in the clouds, so who knew but I trusted that this was something that was needed and it just went viral. It became the sixth most funded publishing campaign of all time. It did $453,000 in just 33 days. Again, this is for a $39 journal. We did over 9,000 sales of The Freedom Journal in just those 33 days.

John Lee Dumas: You, being an author, John, you know that book sales are pretty hard to come from. This is what I’ve been told by other big time authors, if you get over 1,500 sales, you’re starting to get into the 1%. In 33 days, boom. On that 9,000 sales as we are speaking today, I’m over 14,000 Freedom Journal sold. Again, this is not a $9 book. This is a $39 hard cover journal. It just connected with people. They saw that they could actually have an accountability partner that wouldn’t let them fail because that’s what it is. It’s a step by step guide to setting a smart goal, specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time bound. Then accomplishing that goal in 100 days through daily tasks, nightly recaps, 10-day sprints. Every 10 days you’re accomplishing a micro goal, quarterly reviews. You’re looking back over the previous 25 days. You’re seeing what worked to amplify that or what didn’t work to make adjustments and shift so that by day 100, you’ve accomplished your number one goal.

John Jantsch: As I listen to you describe that, that’s actually the path that I have proposed for most business owners. You have your annual planning, which, maybe, that’s where you set your big audacious goal for the year but obviously, then you got to break it down into focus priorities for the quarter and then all those priorities break down into many, many little tasks and then you just start going to work on daily and weekly. Not only an individual goal planning, I think it’s a tremendous … maybe you ought to have a sub freedom journal and created as a business planning too.

John Lee Dumas: Yeah. That’s not-

John Jantsch: Then people think that was really boring.

John Lee Dumas: …co-branding, John.

John Jantsch: Let’s do it. Let’s do it. I’m up for it.

John Lee Dumas: Yes.

John Jantsch: I think it’s a great idea. The one thing I want to look back to and then let’s talk a little bit about why The Freedom Journal has been so successful in your mind, this isn’t new information. How many people for years and years and years have talked about setting smart goals? What stops people from doing it? I think intellectually, everybody gets it, but why don’t they take action or stick with it?

John Lee Dumas: I think it’s overwhelming. I think people, when they look at what they want to grow in 2016, they have so many options. They have the website to build, the podcast to create, the blogs, to write the email list, to grow, the YouTube videos, the social media. They have everything. They just get overwhelmed. They get distracted. They lose focus. That’s why The Freedom Journal was incredibly focused on accomplishing your number one goal in 100 days. The subtitle is not accomplish all of your life goals in 100 days because that’s why people fail. They set too many goals with too many different endpoints. They don’t have that time boundedness, which is so critical. That’s why that 100 days is in there. They just get so distracted. Life, frankly, just takes over.

John Lee Dumas: For me, I know, looking back at my journey that setting the one goal of launching EOFire, which I did in about three, three and a half months. It was right around 100 days, which again, back then in 2012, I wasn’t thinking I had 100 days, but looking back on it and I was confused, I was like “Wow, that actually took me just about 100 days, but I really had to stick to a plan.” I had a mentor that was guiding me every step of the way. I know that by me setting the goal of launching EOFire and then accomplishing that goal by launching it about three, three and a half months later, that was me knocking over the one big Domino that was the result for the chain reaction of awesome that happened post EOFire. If I was trying to do 100 different things and I never launch EOFire, I would have been successful at nothing because EOFire was the catalyst for all of my success. That had to become real. That had to become published for me to do anything of significance or substance from that point forward.

John Lee Dumas: Once I did press publish with EOFire, that Domino knocked over all these other things that have since led to us today where we’re generating multiple six figures of revenue every single month from very diverse streams of income. Sometimes 10 and sometimes up to 15 every single month which we report at because we wanted to share how our business has grown from accomplishing one goal, launching a podcast.

John Jantsch: It’s the classic example of doing more by really focusing on less.

John Lee Dumas: Yeah, so much.

John Jantsch: I think that that’s the typical business owner. It’s like “Okay, we’re going to do our annual plan and here are our 12 strategic initiatives” and nobody can hold more than two or three at the most and really have any accountability. It really does apply. Let’s say you accomplish that one goal in 90 days or 100 days. Is it then simply a matter of saying, “Okay, what’s the next big one and let’s put that in the hopper”?

John Lee Dumas: Absolutely. Because that’s what I was really seeing that my guest were succeeding in. They were setting that one big goal, accomplishing that meaningful goal and then saying, “Okay now that I’ve accomplished this incredibly meaningful goal, what’s next?” For me, it was Podcasters’ Paradise, which is now over 3,000 members over $4 million in revenue, but that goal could never have been set without accomplishing the first one first. It’s one step at a time. Now, of course, you’re doing and accomplishing other things along the way. That’s really important to do, but your one clear, concise focus is on one thing. Right now, I have one focus. One focus right now and that’s on the next journal that I’m launching this coming January. Nothing else matters to me. That is my one focus. I will accomplish other things along the way, but I will absolutely make sure that that number one focus gets accomplished for the January 23rd launch because that is my number one.

John Jantsch: Well, what that allows you to do is make choices, right? You get asked to do this. You get asked to do that. You get asked to do that. Well, now, it’s like “Well, this one serves my goal. These two don’t.” Easy choice, right?

John Lee Dumas: Yes.

John Jantsch: There has been a lot written about these dual principles of attention and intention. I’d love to hear your thoughts on that. The idea of intention, meaning, “Here’s where I want to go. Here is my goal,” but then the attention part is, “Okay, so here are the things or the three things that I have to focus on in order to meet that goal.” I think what happens is, not enough people really carefully construct both of those elements.

John Lee Dumas: I think a lot of people don’t construct, sometimes, either of those elements. That can be a really big struggle. I’m curious. I’m turning this back on you, John, because I’m curious about where you’re coming from for this. What’s an example of where you’ve seen this happen, like maybe from your audience?

John Jantsch: Well, yeah. My intention that drives me and of course, it’s evolved over the years, but my intention and what really got me going on Duct Tape Marketing was that I saw a lot of small business owners doing what I think is the funnest thing in the world, owning your own business, but it was taking the life out of them because they couldn’t figure out the marketing part. My intention is somewhat of a mission to save small business owners from themselves, one small business owner at a time or to ultimately have millions of small businesses, small business owners that now have a much richer life because they’ve been able to figure out this marketing thing. That, ultimately, is my intention but that’s a pretty big thing.

John Jantsch: My attention, then, is on quarterly almost, “Okay, what’s going to move me towards that goal? Well, perfecting this system or building this tool or having this conversation.” Those become the things that are the priorities, so to speak, for the quarter that I know are driving me towards that bigger thing, that there’ll be more big rocks that come along each quarter, but that the ultimate thing driving me is that one thing that is the intention of my entire business.

John Lee Dumas: I think it’s important that we do realize that this is the journey. This is the journey that we’re on and a lot of people just have this end goal. You see this happen in Silicon Valley all the time. You have people that literally kill themselves for years and they sacrifice everything else for that one IPO, that one sale. They think that that’s going to just solve everything and change the world, and then they finally … 99.9% of them end up failing and it never works. They go back to ground zero but the 0.1% that actually even does work for, they’re just like “Oh my God, what’s next? Now, I have no purpose in life. This was my life.” They never achieved any kind of balance, any semblance of understanding that is the journey. It’s all about the journey and that’s with your quarterly and annual goals and my 100 days. It’s about recognizing and experiencing the journey, intentionally.

John Jantsch: I think if you have a big enough, what I’ve referred to as intention, it’s like the horizon. It’s going to keep moving away from you. You almost want to have something that you never can actually-

John Lee Dumas: Never.

John Jantsch: …ultimately realize, but then it’s important to turn around and say, “Wow, look how far we’ve come,” occasionally. John, thanks so much for joining us. I’m talking to John Lee Dumas. He is the host of EOFire. Find it at Of course, we talked, today, a little bit about The Freedom Journal, and maybe you’ll come back in January of 2017 and we’ll talk about your new project.

John Lee Dumas:  Well, I’d love that.

John Jantsch: I hope to see you out there on the road.

John Lee Dumas: Definitely.

Transcript of How Reducing Friction Increases Revenue

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

John Jantsch: Hello and welcome to another episode of the duct tape marketing podcast. This is John Jantsch and my guest today is Roger Dooley. He is the founder of Dooley Direct. He’s an author and keynote speaker and he’s got a new book called Friction: The Untapped Force That Can be Your Most Powerful Advantage. So Roger, thanks for joining me.

Roger Dooley: Well, thanks for having me on, John. I’m excited.

John Jantsch:  Let’s start with friction. The word friction, I mean for a lot of people that’s kind of a bad thing. I mean, friction in science is … causes drag, friction in business makes it hard to buy. You’re proposing that it is somehow and advantage.

Roger Dooley: Well if you … it is usually a bad thing, but that means that if you can eliminate it, you will have an advantage over your competition. I mean if you look at what Amazon has accomplished in the last 20 years, much of that has been by reducing friction. Back in 1997, Jeff Bezos was talking about frictionless shopping when most companies were just thinking about getting serious about being online. And throughout the years he’s made that just a point of relentless emphasis. Even things like packaging. About 10 years ago they saw the customers were struggling with these packages. Like if you go to Walmart, buy a product, it’s probably in one of these plastic blister packs. But you see the product and they look nice, they prevent theft because they’re hard to put in your pocket and walk away with, but they’re difficult to open. You may need tools, you may injure yourself by stabbing yourself with sharp plastic. And so they said, “Hey, we can eliminate that.” And they created frustration free packaging. And not only did people like the packaging, the reviews on those products improved. They had 73% fewer negative comments just from that change in packaging. And so eliminating friction can be a big competitive advantage. It isn’t just big companies because often big companies are the slowest to respond. So a smaller company that sees how they can make things a little bit easier for their customers can get that advantage.

John Jantsch: Yeah. And I must admit that my wife will be reading a magazine and she’ll say, “We should get this and,” and it says the website and all that stuff, and I go straight to Amazon and see if they have it because I know it’s going to be really easy for me to get it.

Roger Dooley: Well you and me both. John, just a few years ago, my loyalty to Amazon was tested because up to that point, in Texas, they were not charging sales tax. Then they worked a deal with the state where they would be charging sales tax, which meant that all of my Amazon purchases immediately had an 8% price increase. And I assumed that my behavior would change because of that. In fact, it changed almost not at all. And because of what you’re saying. It’s just so easy, why would I want to go someplace else, deal with setting up an account to have some sort of uncertain shipping process where they say it’s going to be seven to 10 days and … when I know with one click I can get it from Amazon and it’s going to be my doorstep 48 hours later without fail.

John Jantsch: So you mentioned the bigger companies, it’s harder. Some of that can just be the practical nature of making change is harder period. But do you think it has anything to do with that a lot of times friction is felt by a customer, but not necessarily expressed? They may not even realize that their shopping cart is hard to operate.

Roger Dooley: Right. Well, many times customers can’t articulate that there is a problem. It’s only when they see somebody doing it better. I mean, look at the taxi industry. For pretty much our entire lives, we dealt with taxis as something that was a pretty good way to get around, generally better than the bus or the subway and worked reasonably well. And it wasn’t until Uber came along and showed us how every element of that process was full of friction from getting the cab in the first place to getting out of it and paying. They eliminated all that and suddenly it’s like, wow, none of us really saw that before, but now we could. So yeah, I think what businesses have to do, whether they’re large or small, is kind of look at their processes from a third party point of view. Instead of saying, “Well, this is how it’s always been done,” or “This is how our competitors do it and we’re actually a little bit better than our competitors,” for one, you have to compare yourself to Amazon and to Uber and say, “Okay, is my experience as good as theirs? And if not, can I move my experience in that direction?”

Roger Dooley: So it’s just important to focus and also to observe customers. I bet you’ve had the same happen, John. You’re on a website or you’re trying to accomplish something and you just can’t figure out what to do. And you’re wondering, did the people who created this website or this app ever actually watch somebody try and go through it for the first time? Because you’re perplexed and you’re struggling and you’re clicking stuff. And I think the answer is in many cases, they have not watched users go through it. They have an idea of what the users or customers want, or will do, or how they’ll behave, but they haven’t actually watched them doing it. And that’s so critical.

John Jantsch: And I think the one thing that a lot of people underestimate too is that … if you used the taxi example. I mean you and I just tolerated it. We didn’t like it, but we didn’t necessarily think we had a choice or that it was even a problem per se. It was just the way the world is. And I think when you watch, what happens a lot of times is that next generation comes along and goes, “This is nuts.” We’ve been doing it, so that’s all we know. But they’re new to it and all of a sudden they’re like, “Why would anybody do this?” I have millennial age children that are so funny to watch how little they will tolerate from a website because they just, that’s not how they feel like the world should work. And they’ll go find somebody who gets it. I mean, because they don’t have that same sort of loyalty, I guess is what I’m getting at.

Roger Dooley: Right. Well, it’s not even so much loyalty. It’s that they realize how simple and powerful experiences can be. I think a good example of businesses that really don’t get it are cable providers. I have an internet cable provider and I have a satellite TV provider and they both kind of fall into that category of not getting it, making their experience really high friction. On Amazon, I can look at anything I bought in, I don’t know, 10 years, 12 years, beats me. I can go back as long as I want and see every order I’ve placed. On my Internet provider, I can only go back six months. So when I go to do my tax and say, “Okay, well I need those bills for that purpose,” then it’s not there. And you say, well why would a business design an interface that would only let me look at the last six months? Now that makes no sense. But unfortunately businesses say, “Well, hey, why would a customer want that, or we’ve done it this way, it’s been fine.” And they don’t have necessarily anybody that’s forcing them to do it any better.

John Jantsch: Yeah. And that’s actually a great feature of Amazon though. Have you ever done this? You buy a book and they go, “Whoa, you know, you bought this book two years ago,” and I go, “Oh, okay. So it’s on my Kindle. Nevermind.”

Roger Dooley:  Yes. I personally have never had that experience, John. But I have heard from people who have. It happens to me all the time saying, “Ah, book looks interesting,” and “Oh, damn, I bought that, I’ve got it on my shelf somewhere. I better go find it.” Yeah, it’s great. And I think that is an example too of a business that is putting its customers in the forefront because there are certainly some businesses out there would say, “Ha, that jerk just bought that for the second time.” Where Amazon wants you to have a good experience and they know that eventually you might discover that you bought it once, you already had it, and either you’re going to return it or you’re going to feel stupid because you have two copies now and they help you prevent that.

John Jantsch: And I think you just touched on where this starts, right? It’s not just about how can we make this website faster, easier to use. I mean it really kind of starts with what you just said. How can we make sure that our customers are having a great experience? I mean that’s what sort of turns you into the detective to go looking for this stuff, isn’t it?

Roger Dooley: Yeah. And I think just jumping back to taxis, if somebody had just, say taken a video of the taxi experience, you could look at the particularly, I don’t know, I’m sure you get to Europe occasionally and like to pay for taxis by credit card there. If I have to take a taxi and … because Uber isn’t available because it’s illegal or something. And inevitably what you see is the driver first saying the machine’s broken. And then you say, “No, I don’t have any cash.” So you got to use that. And so, okay, they reach under the seat, they pull out this a clunky machine trying to establish an Internet connection, get your card, wait for the thing to print out. And then they’ve got to print out and sign it and they’ve got to reenter it. It’s this horrible process that takes minutes. And if someone just looked at that, they could say, “Well, can I imagine a way in a perfect universe where I could eliminate this?” And it wouldn’t be that difficult to come up with multiple ways of eliminating that process, but it took this really disruptive company to come along and actually do it.

John Jantsch: And I suspect because you pay attention to this stuff that I can envision you across the counter from a young clerk who has a very … a process that is riddled with friction and doesn’t make any sense to anybody. And you point it out to them and they say, “Well that’s the way we do it here. Or that’s how we’ve always done it here.”

Roger Dooley:  Yeah. Or they say, “Yeah, no kidding. We’ve complained about this, but they won’t do anything about it.” More often than not, people inside the company can identify it as friction, but they are unable to get it fixed. And to me the important thing is that businesses develop a friction aware culture so that their employees are sensitized to look forward in the customer experience. But even in their own experience, because oh, there is a huge amount of money, in fact there was a Harvard Business Review article that estimated that $3 trillion a year is wasted in US businesses by what they called organizational drag. Used the word drag just in the intro. And organizational drag is what they call all the time that’s wasted by bad processes, dealing with email that you shouldn’t have to deal with, meetings that served no purpose, or all this waste of time in organizations is a $3 trillion problem. And so businesses that develop this friction awareness will not only improve their customer experience, but they’ll improve their internal experience. And that’s great because the team members themselves do not enjoy wasting your time. They’ll be more engaged if they feel they’re working on stuff that is important or is helping a customer, as opposed to doing stuff that is really serving no purpose other than the fact that they’ve got to do it.

John Jantsch: Yeah, I read a survey, this is going back at least a decade, maybe longer, and it was a giant Gallup survey talking about what made people happy at work. And you would think it would be that they felt challenged and they were paid well, and the number one thing was that they had the tools that allowed them to do the work effectively. So essentially, processes and equipment, and tools, and things are of part of that that causes friction, isn’t it?

Roger Dooley: Yeah. And there’s a lot of work that’s been done on work and motivation and having that work directed in a productive creative way is one key metric. Dan Ariely he did some really interesting work and wrote a short book called Payoff about that, but where they would have people assemble Legos under different conditions. In some cases, immediately after the person assembled the Lego, the experimenter would tear it apart in throw the pieces in the box. Needless to say, the people that had that experience were much less motivated to build more Legos even though there were being paid the same as folks where their creation was not destroyed.

John Jantsch: So you mentioned this friction awareness. I’m just trying to envision, how does, where does somebody go looking for it? Where does it hide, how did you … if I’m listening to this and I think, “Okay, I’m not aware of huge friction,” where do … how do I find it? How do I create this awareness culture?

Roger Dooley: Well, by reading the book for one, but no seriously John. I think that just looking for examples of it, becoming aware of it. It’s sort of like if there’s a background hum noise, which hopefully there isn’t in this recording, but you generally might not be aware of it. But if you listen for that background, how many say, “Oh yeah, okay it’s there.” And friction is kind of the same way because we become just sort of used to it, like that taxi experience and every other experience like that. But if we start looking at it from a more of an absolute point of view and imagining better ways, then we start seeing it. I found that just if I do a talk where I spend maybe 30 or 50 minutes talking about friction, just that exposure will get people for the rest of the day yelling friction when they encounter some difficulty in the hotel or the conference center, something where there’s a line or some form they have to fill out.

Roger Dooley: So it’s really just sort of sensitizing yourself and then once you start seeing it, it’s pretty hard to stop seeing it. Which is in some ways, is kind of bad because you cannot cure all the friction that you’re going to experience, especially when you’re simply the customer and someone else is controlling that. And it can get you, gets me at least, a little bit cranky at times.

John Jantsch: There’s a line from The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. I’m actually doing … my next project involves some of that literature. So that’s-

Roger Dooley: I was [crosstalk] going to say this is taken really literary turn [crosstalk]

John Jantsch: Yeah, I was going to say that that’s why this is right at hand and it was, “She had not known the wait until she felt the freedom.” And I think that really goes very directly to this. A lot of times we don’t realize how much we’re way down until we find this better way. And we were like, “Holy crap.”

Roger Dooley: Wow. I would have put that in the book, had I known that quote at the time, John, so I may still have to use that somehow. So thank you for that.

John Jantsch: And you talked about this thing actually called invisible friction.

Roger Dooley: Indeed. Not … to some degree, all friction can be a little bit invisible if we’re not looking for it. But there is another kind of cognitive friction where we … there’s no rational reason why something should be higher in friction, but it’s all in our brains. And it has to do with a concept called cognitive fluency, how easy it is for our brains to process something. And this affects our behavior in a few ways. If something is difficult to say or read, it seems more dangerous and risky. So when scientists ask people to rate the amusement park rides for how dangerous they were or risky, if they had a hard to say name, the exact same ride description was rated as to being more dangerous. Same thing for prescription drugs. Drugs that were hard to say were seen as more dangerous. But where the friction comes into play is that if something is hard for us to process, it seems more difficult.

Roger Dooley: There is another research project that found people were less likely to follow important medical instructions, now imagine that, medical instructions that are important for their health and perhaps their life, if those instructions were in a hard to read font and it wasn’t that they were so difficult that it was impossible to read. It’s just that when things are hard for our brains to process, even a little bit harder, they seem a little bit more difficult. At the University of Minnesota, they ran this great experiment that asked people how long it would take to perform a simple exercise. It just gave them two short sentences. Exact same text for two groups. One group saw it in a simple arial san serif font, so a very easy to read font. The second group saw the exact same instructions in a slightly harder to read brushy font. Still perfectly legible. You’d have no problem reading it. But the first group that saw it in the simple font said it would take eight minutes to do, the second group said it would take 15 minutes.

Roger Dooley: So what was happening there was that the difficulty in processing that information, the difficulty in reading, translated into difficulty in doing. And that’s really an important message for anybody who is designing websites or apps or print material. Anytime you’re asking somebody to do something, you want to make sure that those instructions are short, concise, easy to read, black on white, or something. And use the simplest font possible because the more difficult it is to read, the harder whatever it is you want them to do is going to seem and the less likely they’ll be to do it.

John Jantsch: Well, I know from a marketing standpoint, it’s pretty accepted logic that while you would think giving people lots of choices would actually make their decision easier, it really creates friction that you’re sometimes better off saying, “You want A or B?” And that’s about it.

Roger Dooley: Yeah, well, Barry Schwartz wrote an entire book called The Paradox of Choice that kind of zoomed in on that issue that in many cases, not in all cases, but in many cases, the more choice you have, the less likely you are to actually make a decision. And it varies, but there’s ways of dealing with that too. One is to just limit the number of choices. If you only need three plans, don’t offer people seven plans, because that may kick them into sort of an analytical mode where they end up making no decision at all. Guiding them to the most popular of the three plans is a great way to show, “Okay, there’s good, better, and best. Almost everybody chooses better.” At that point, that’s a really easy decision for most people to make. But if you’ve got a seven plans and it’s some have different features and they’re overlapping and that’s where it gets confusing.

Roger Dooley: So, but now Amazon has unlimited choice. If you pick any product, they probably carry just about every version of that product that’s available on the planet. But the way they help their customers is by providing a whole series of screens and filters and queues. So first of all, they will rank the products and the way they think that best fits your search. They will show you, “This one is a best seller.” They will show you, “This one is best rated.” They’ll show you that it’s got four and a half stars from 2000 reviews. And all of these things are cues to let you, hopefully, narrow down your choice really quickly and distinguish between two very similar looking choices. So they do just fine because for them, offering a lot of choice means that … you hear about a product, the first thing you do is check Amazon because you figure odds are they’ll have it, but then instead of just presenting you with a big massive products that you have to sort through, they provide you all kinds of tools to choose the right one.

John Jantsch: Now we’ve talked mostly about business, but you kind of wander into how friction shows up just in our lives, in our habits and things. I know that anytime I’m trying to lose a little weight, if I have healthy food sitting around, I will … and it’s easy for me to get, I will do a lot better job than if I have to actually work to get that food. So how does it play? How does friction play out in our habits?

Roger Dooley: Well, it is a very powerful force. I’ve read several books on this topic. My friend Art Markman from here at University of Texas, Austin is a pretty slim guy these days, but he had had a weight problem some years back and he found that his downfall was Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. Those little pint containers that theoretically if you read the label, there’s, I don’t know, like four servings in there, three or four servings. But if you’ve ever actually just pulled one out of the freezer and started eating with a spoon, you find it’s really easy to polish it off in one sitting. You get down halfway and, actually you’re more than halfway at that point, and it seems like a small amount to put back in the fridge, right? So you just keep going and before you know it, it’s gone and you’ve added who knows how many calories into your daily diet.

Roger Dooley: His simple realization was if he did not have that in the house, he would probably not drive to the store to get it. So if he made that decision when he had the willpower for the future, saying, “Okay, I’m in the store. I’m not going to buy that because I know it’s bad for me and I know I’ll eat the whole darn thing.” Then he would not put up with a considerable friction of getting in his car and driving to the store to get it.

Roger Dooley: But going beyond that other habit change experts like James Clear and that BJ Fogg all talk about even just creating moderate friction. Okay, if you have potato chips in the house, don’t leave them out on the counter. Put them on a high shelf in the cupboard, put them in the garage maybe. And yeah, anything that makes it more difficult, even the smallest interventions can make a difference.

Roger Dooley: Some Yale researchers did a study for Google where Google provides free food, which is a nice benefit of working there. But people tend to over consume. And particularly things like sweets, candy, M&Ms, I mean they are something that your brain will taste, say, “Hey that’s pretty good, I want more of that,” and people will keep eating them. They found that just putting the M&Ms in an opaque container and moving a little bit farther away from the front of the shelf allowed them to cut a couple of million calories out of one office’s budget every month, which is pretty phenomenal. And very similar experiments in a cafeteria lines where putting the healthy stuff in front and the non-healthy stuff a little bit farther away. All of these things had measurable effects. And obviously the more friction that you had, the more profound the effect. In one case, in that cafeteria line, instead of just moving it to the back, they created a separate line for ice cream and soft drinks, stuff that you were not supposed to eat. And they found that in that case, it dropped consumption about 90% because most people did not want to put up with the hassle of going to another line, selecting their items, and paying for it separately. So it’s just however much friction you can add without creating a perhaps the rebellion.

John Jantsch: I’m chatting with Roger Dooley, author of Friction: The Untapped Forced That Can be Your Most Powerful Advantage. So Roger, tell people where they can find out more about your work and the book itself.

Roger Dooley: Probably the best jumping off point is I link to all of my stuff there, my blogs at Neuromarketing and Forbes, and have links to the books, of course. And on social media, I am on all of the channels, but I’m most easy to find on Twitter where I am @RogerDooley.

John Jantsch: Well, thanks for joining us, Roger, and hopefully we’ll see you someday out there on the road in a frictionless world.

Roger Dooley: Ah, if only that would happen, that’d be great. John, thanks so much for having me.

Transcript of How to Turn Your Product Idea Into a Business

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

John Jantsch: Hello and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch, and my guest today is Jules Pieri. She is the co-founder and CEO of the Grommet and author of How We Make Stuff Now. So Jules, thanks for joining me.

Jules Pieri: Thanks for having me, John.

John Jantsch: So maybe not everybody’s heard of the Grommet. Let’s start there. Explain what the Grommet is, and maybe more importantly, why you thought the world needed it.

Jules Pieri: Sure, so every day at 10 a.m Eastern we launch and reveal the story of one innovative manufactured product from a small business. Along the way, we’ve come across some products that definitely have become household names like FitBit, and Soda Stream, Otterbox, S’well water bottles. And the reason we founded the company was that as retail got bigger and bigger it was becoming increasingly difficult for small companies to break in. At the same time, technology, even the internet alone, were making it possible for better products than ever to get created from small companies. So there was a misfit in the market and a big opportunity.

John Jantsch: So tell me this, are these companies already in business kind of trying to find their way, and you find them and give them a lift? Or, do you actually somehow partner a little deeper than that?

Jules Pieri: It’s all over the map. We look at three hundred products a week. Some are inbound, most are about to be in production, are in production, or just out of crowdfunding.

John Jantsch: With a name like Duct Tape Marketing, I get asked this question all the time, is there a name story? Why the Grommet?

Jules Pieri: Yes, [inaudible] the silly one is I love grommets, I love hardware. I would say that the more business-y reason, because that’s important too, is first of all, I’m pretty good at building brands and I think we can get definition to this word. It was a word that was easy to say that a lot of people didn’t know what it meant and I kind of like that.

Jules Pieri: For the second reason was that if people did know what it means, that it’s a piece of hardware like a tent and a tarp, the round silver thing. It would be like a wink to them because that would be people who might understand products and creating products.

Jules Pieri: And that third reason is that specific hardware is like a humble hardworking entity and that’s how I kind of saw our company. That we would be kind of surrounding these embryonic companies and protecting and helping them.

John Jantsch: Yeah I fall into the wink camp because I’m doing the skull at about nine thousand feet in the Colorado Rockies, and camping and tarps and all those kinds of things are really important to our livelihood.

Jules Pieri: Oh for sure. I’m very happy to have the wink person on the other end of the line.

John Jantsch: You know the term maker now kind of seems like it’s carved out its own space in business lexicon. How in your opinion is somebody who claims to be a maker different than somebody who claims to be an entrepreneur or a business owner?

Jules Pieri: Well first of all, a hundred and thirty-five million Americans claim to be a maker, and they’re not all entrepreneurs. So clearly it’s a broad spectrum from people who are just doing hobby projects in their garage to people who are going all the way through to becoming what we call a Grommet. Honestly it’s interesting you point out that it enters the lexicon because when we started business ten years ago I was struggling to find a word to describe these companies because brand didn’t cover it, manufacture didn’t cover it, inventor didn’t cover it, entrepreneur didn’t cover it, sure as heck wasn’t going to call people vendors. So we were sort of dancing around a word. We called them partners, but that’s kind of vague. And then this word started emerging and I watched it and waited to make sure it stuck and also that it was broader than craft or hobby. It’s even broad in that it be descriptive of software entrepreneurs, like people who make things, but for the most part it works for us.

Jules Pieri: I will say there are some Grommet makers who wouldn’t identify with the word because it sounds too crafty to them if they produce a tech product. But I can tell you I’ve been pruning in the soups for ten years, I haven’t seen a better word. I do like the word.

John Jantsch: Yeah and I think like you said it’s like a lot of things, you know. There are a lot of makerspaces I belong to. I do it because I’m trying to make some stuff I want. But a lot of people have businesses that they’re running out of those spaces. I think it’s just become more acceptable. It’s kind of like fifteen years ago self-publishing was still seen as a not-so legit way to get a book out there, and of course now it very much is.

Jules Pieri: Right, exactly. Right like people are doing it for themselves and whatever rooted us into creating.

John Jantsch: Do you run across dreamers in this business? In other words, Kickstarters out there, I’m just going to put my thing out there and I’m going to get fifteen million dollars because I saw somebody else do it, and it’s not that hard.

Jules Pieri: Well, a dreamer who stays at the dreamer level won’t succeed. I mean there’s nothing wrong with starting with a dream, but the tenacity and stick-to-itiveness and just the sheer organization it takes to run a Kickstarter campaign would quickly weed those folks out. They wouldn’t see things through to the end of a successful campaign.

Jules Pieri: And yeah we do see people who maybe don’t understand what we do, which is really the spotlight and amplification, and they’ll send us a concept and think we will build the business around it. And you know, it’s just a misunderstanding, but not everyone wants to do the work and it’s a heck of a lot of work. That’s a core reason why I wrote the book to help people do the work.

John Jantsch: Yeah and actually I should backtrack. You have to start as a dreamer or nothing’s going to become of it, but obviously like you said it’s the implementation that is really what differentiates.

Jules Pieri: That 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration is absolutely true.

John Jantsch: So we sort of weighted into this already, what are some of the common mistakes that you see this group of makers falling for?

Jules Pieri: Somebody asked me that because, whether or not someone reads a book, I want to hit off the biggest mistakes. The first one would be not accepting the market opportunity right up front. Really doing everything you can to shape and quantify the potential customers for your product and getting beyond talking to your friends and family who will all tell you your product’s a great idea. You want to find strangers in the hard, cold light of day who will be able to embrace your idea or data that shows the market for your idea. So I would start there because it’s heartbreaking to me if they want a full-time endeavor they’re not looking for a moonlight side gig, they really want to build a business, I like them to go after a big target so that they can have lots of shots and goals. Name the company after your vision, not your first product.

John Jantsch: No, I was just going to say even working with established companies on their marketing the first thing I’m going to know is what problem do they solve and I think sometimes that’s a really good place to start for a product, isn’t it?

Jules Pieri: Yeah, and keep yourself really honest there. Sometimes it’s hard to find the kind of data so you can’t always satisfy that itch and it’s one you should try. There is obviously a kind of data out there about just about any population or market, but sometimes if you’re on something super new it’s hard to find that data. But then you do your best to substitute that with your own labor to satisfy yourself, it’s worth pursuing.

John Jantsch: Yeah, some of the biggest hits have been people that created something that solved a problem people didn’t know they had until it was there.

Jules Pieri: Right, I would say this is a pretty good example. Now, it was hard to quantify the number of people who would want that data on their wrist or in their pocket. Exactly, the prior product would have been a kind of clunky speedometer that had no connectivity to a community or to a manufacturer to your phone. So it’s not a great comp, but it was pretty easy to assume that people were interested in fitness and that steps if they were captured in a convenient sort of waterproof, well-priced, good form factor way, that’s not a hard leap to assume that could be interesting. But some products are a harder leap.

John Jantsch: And the many duplicates are probably a testament to the popularity of that.

Jules Pieri: Yes, the second area though, you asked me for things to avoid. Name your company after your vision, not your first product because retailers like a full line of products and you don’t want to limit your own opportunities with your name. So an example outside of the product area would be TaskRabbit, which was originally called RunMyErrand. Now people think of TaskRabbit for just about anything, whether it’s a handy personal project or assembling IKEA furniture or picking up dog food, which was the original inspiration. And RunMyErrand is way too narrow and it’s expensive and hard to change the name when it needed to be changed.

John Jantsch: Yeah, good point. So one of the challenges I suppose is somebody creates a good product, maybe they raise the money in a Kickstarter kind of way, but distribution is really going to make the difference. I know that distribution, you know if you created say a board game and then you couldn’t crack the New York board game buyer, you weren’t going to get in the market. What’s the best path for that kind of maker to circumvent the traditional distribution channels?

Jules Pieri: Well, frankly that’s at the heart of why we started the business because there wasn’t a really good path in that. The traditional channels, by the way, are still powerful. Going to trade shows is still a very credible thing to do, I wouldn’t discard that. People still do engage reps who will present your product to retailers when they have the relationship. People still do some traditional trade advertising, but the downside of all that is it does kind of feel kind of 1970s in terms of we live in a digital world and everything I just described and looked at, it is not virtual, it’s showing up. So we try to crack that in terms of creating that community who give products the audience and visibility, and that just simply didn’t exist, we start the Grommet.

Jules Pieri: I will say social media was super important to me in starting a business. At first, it was Facebook, primarily a vehicle to climb that audience, and today I think the closest thing or the best route other than some of these I just mentioned would be Instagram. Instagram is pretty brilliant for if you can make the investment, it’s a serious investment, in great content and consistency. It’s the only thing I’ve seen that, kind of gist in the Grommet, this sort of universe of doing it for yourselves and finding the community directly. It’s a sophisticated platform so the imagery must be beautiful, the copy, the video, has to be on par with everything else there. But there are breakouts that happen there and certainly for anyone with a big budget you can master Instagram and all the social platforms. But assuming without a big budget it’s going to be more about sweat equity and putting in the time to create great content.

John Jantsch: But I’m glad you mention that though because I think a lot of people with all these digital channels, the promises there to reach all these millions of people, but I really think some of the most effective marketing is figuring out how to integrate some old school with some new school, and not necessarily depend on one or the other.

Jules Pieri: I would agree with that. It’s still true that, for instance, going to trade shows, there’s a million reasons why it’s helpful. It’s not just for finding buyers, they have showcases of innovative products and competitions, and Shark Tank like environments where you can get a lot of great advice and make great connections. You can walk the booths and not only see competition, but talk to people who maybe aren’t competitive but have cracked some manufacturing issues or packaging issues that you have ahead of you so you can get really smart really fast. It’s like this mini university under a horrible convention center roof.

John Jantsch: That cement floor is no fun either.

John Jantsch: So you already hinted at this idea that if you’re going to play on Instagram you’ve got to have beautiful images and content and whatnot. How often do people underestimate the role of design in the whole picture?

Jules Pieri: That’s like I’m a hammer and you’re a nail asking me that question because I’m a designer. Here’s the deal, whether you’re creating a package or creating a product or some piece of marketing communication, it generally costs the same amount of money to produce something bad as something good. The shortcut you take is the front of skipping the pro, it’s keeping the advice you can get from somebody who has done some of this work before, it’s a costly skip is basically what I’d say. There are very few products that can’t benefit from the designer, which they’re available at the other side of a few keystrokes on the internet in many cases. Certainly, good networking can lead to good designers, so I think it’s a super important investment and certainly consumers don’t overlook it. This is a key differentiator in products so I’m not sure why people would skip that step.

Jules Pieri: Here’s an example where it often gets skipped. Quite often when you’re offshoring and producing in another country there will be a proposal from the factory. You know, here’s your cost all in, they may offer to design product, they may offer to design the packaging, and quite often the results show that this effort was done by people who don’t understand the market you’re serving or don’t have the commitment that you have to quality or don’t even use the language the way you would use it, the materials you would use. So it feels like you’re saving money, right? Have this thing delivered all the way from wherever, but it’s an expensive ten dollars sometimes.

John Jantsch: I always say this to people, listeners have heard this from me before, but I frequently hear my kids when they’re looking, and they’re in their upper 20s-30s, and they’ll pass a company by, oh their website was terrible. The experience was not good. The design was so old school, not even looking into that company. So I think people, especially when that three-four seconds is all you’re getting, it makes a difference.

Jules Pieri: That’s a good point because that’s where what you just described exactly what your kids say is where this phenomenon of the direct consumer businesses like Warby Parker or Harry’s or Cas-Ker are winning because those companies understand that from the very first contact, whether it’s an Instagram post or website or return policy or ability to chat, these are companies that definitely get you in serving what you consider to be a modern experience, a customer-friendly experience. And I suit your aesthetic or your vibe or your values.

John Jantsch: Yeah and that’s why stories are such a big deal too. It’s not just the nice looking website, it’s the story too. So speaking of stories, do you have a favorite one you want to share from your thousands I guess now from the Grommet?

Jules Pieri: One that I think sums up the crazy extremes happening in the world that I’m living in with makers is we have a maker who created a product that is called the Negg and it is a way to at home, little tiny device, about the size of a cup, that peels a hard-boiled egg with a couple shakes. So it’s genius, it really works, and the entrepreneur who created it was a web designer, an entrepreneur who has a web designer consulting firm, and basically she saw a void in the market and went after it.

Jules Pieri: And so Bonnie, who needed to prototype the product, she had figured out how to do this essentially, she miniaturized what commercial egg peelers do for the home in a non-power device. And she signed up for a 3D printing course at her local library. So Bonnie shows up for this class. Now Bonnie, you’re probably going to be surprised to hear, is 76 years old. And she shows up for the class and the instructor walks into the makers space in the library, and the instructor is 11 years old, and therein is born the Negg. It’s made in Connecticut and a very, very successful product thanks to the meeting of those two generations.

John Jantsch: That is a great story and I have to tell you my own little story then. There was a little deli, just a one-two person place that was right around the corner from my office. I love egg salad sandwiches, they make great egg salad sandwiches, and one day she didn’t have anymore and she said, I just got tired of peeling the eggs. So I need to tell her about it.

Jules Pieri: Yes! Oh my gosh, yes. Exactly.

John Jantsch: That’s funny.

John Jantsch: Jules, where can people find more about the Grommet, more about you, but then also, How We Make Stuff Now?

Jules Pieri: Actually it’ll be a website with exactly that title, How We Make Stuff Now, and it talks about what’s in the book, I made a video about the book there, but also it is a great place for additional resources. I list out chapter by chapter the references in the book, but I’ve been adding them every week as I learn things after the publishing of the book. I’m going to keep that as a living document to help me personally.

John Jantsch: Awesome. Well Jules, it was really great to hear your story, great to hear about the book and the work that you’re doing. It must be really gratifying to see some of these folks that are struggling that you’ve really lifted up.

Jules Pieri: It feels like my life’s work and I’m really proud of it.

John Jantsch: Thanks for joining us. Hopefully we’ll see you out there on the road.

Jules Pieri: Yes, thanks John.