Master Class:
How to find your business idea
(Even if you’re afraid of starting something stupid)
Taught by Richie Norton of The Power of Starting Something Stupid

Master Class: Starting Something Stupid

 

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Transcript

Andrew: This session is about how to start a great business idea by using the power of starting with something stupid. The session is led by Richie Norton. He is the author of the “Power of Starting Something Stupid, How to Crush Fear, Make Dreams Happen, and Live without Regret.” I will help facilitate. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy and it’s an honor to have you on here Richie.Richie: It’s an honor to be here. Thanks for having me, Andrew. I’m really excited. It’s going to be fun.

Andrew: So we pulled out a few ideas from your book, here they are that we’ll be talking about today. And walking people through the framework that you’ve outlined in your book. But it happened that a few years back something terrible happened to you that set you on a new path. What was that thing? What happened?

Richie: It was actually a couple of things.

Andrew: Mm-hmm.

Richie: We were living in Hawaii and my brother-in-law, he lived on and off with us for about five years. And, to make a long story short, one day he just didn’t wake up. He passed away in his sleep.

Andrew: Mm-hmm.

Richie: And it was totally unexpected. And this experience literally just crushed us and made us really rethink what is life? We say that life is short and that’s cliche, but even though that’s cliche doesn’t make it any less true, right? And we just started rethinking everything we were doing. Life really is short and we think we’re going to have all this time to do all the things we want to do, when reality for my brother-in-law, it just wasn’t that way.

Andrew: Yeah.

Richie: A few years later, you know, we had our fourth son and we named him Gavin after my brother-in-law, Gavin…

Andrew: Mm-hmm.

Richie: …who had passed away. And this Gavin, he brought so much joy into our lives and he kind of filled the hole that his uncle had left in his own little way. Well, Gavin, over time, he ended up getting cough and we didn’t know what it was. We took him to the doctor and they said he’d be fine. We took him to the doctor again and they said maybe it was something called RSV. It just kept coming and it persisted.

And we ended up one night going to the hospital real late and we thought we’d be in and out of there. That they’d say, oh, he just has this cough. It’s going go away. They ended up admitting us into the hospital and we were there for quite some time. And after a number of tests, it turned out that he had something called pertussis, which is also known as whooping cough.

Andrew: Ah.

Richie: And, you know, I heard of whooping cough before, but I thought it was something from the past. You know, he had his shots and everything, we thought, was fine. He was a healthy little boy, but now he has this disease. And you never expect this to happen. It’s your worst nightmare.

But, one night the nurse came in and let us know that he probably wouldn’t make it. And we did everything in our power, just loving him and praying and just everything we could. Just hoping and wishing that this wouldn’t be his fate. And I remember my wife and I literally just holding hands over our little baby and promising to each other that we wouldn’t let this experience destroy us. That somehow for him, for his sake, we would make it bring us together.

And, unfortunately, he did end up passing away. And you can’t imagine, like, coming into the world and coming into this hospital with this wonderful baby boy and then leaving empty handed. It was horrifying. And, again, this experience just crushed us to the core. And people sometimes ask, Richie, what did you learn from your brother-in-law passing away? From your son passing away? And I boil it down to this.

I call it Gavins’ law, in their honor, which is live to start, start to live. Because when you really live to start those ideas that are pressing on your mind, you really will start living. And again, we have a limited amount of time and so when these ideas do press on our mind, a lot of times we push them away thinking it’s something for later or it’s a stupid idea.

But, because of this experience, that life is short, I realized, you know what, we should embrace these ideas and do something with them now so we can live a life without regret.

Andrew: And at the time you were president at a financial services company and you decided I’m going to do something that maybe sounds stupid. What was that?

Richie: So I started really looking at my life and saying, “What am I doing and what do I really want to be doing?” And I was president of a financial services company and life wasn’t terrible, but I wanted to be in a situation where I could be writing and be an author and make an income and make a living doing that, that I could go speak to people all over the world and inspire others and to tell Gavin’s story.

It was just kind of what I wanted to do, so I ended up looking at my life and talking to my wife about it and I did, I quit. I quit being the president of this financial services company and we went on a three month long road trip. We traveled from Hawaii to Florida and we went all the way up, then we went over to the West Coast and we went up into Canada and I went on a surf trip into Costa Rica.

We were doing projects along the way that helped provide the income we needed to make this work, but we can get more into that as we go. In reality, I started living the life I wanted to live instead of waiting to live that life I wanted in the future, which I knew was an illusive future. We think that all these things are going to happen; when I finally do this, when I finally finish that. Because of the deaths of my brother-in-law and my son I realized, ‘No, I need to act on it now.’ and I moved forward and then created a business around that lifestyle.

Andrew: And I’ve seen so much of what you’ve done because you’ve taken that step. I have it here. . . I don’t how much of this I could even read in here. Let me get a few of it in. His book Resumes are Dead, which is a previous book and What to do About It, hit number one on the business and investment list, number one in careers, number one in job hunting, and broke the top 100 of all free Kindle books. His book, The “Power of Starting Stupid” also broke the top 100 books on Amazon and hit number one in multiple categories.

In 2013, San Francisco Book Festival named “The Power of Starting Something Stupid” the winner of the business category and the grand prize winner of all book categories in its annual competition. He’s a strategic adviser to businesses, organizations, and individuals, and an international speaker and CEO and Founder of Global Consulting Circle. Richie has been featured in Forbes, Business Week, Young Entrepreneur, Huffington Post, and other national publications both printed online.

There’s so much more. 2010, the Pacific Business News recognized Richie as one of the Top 40 Under 40 best and brightest young businessmen in Hawaii and so much more. And it’s because you wanted to do this for a long time and you finally said, “I’m going to.” This is what we’re going to be talking about here today. How to figure out what it is that we even want to do and then get ourselves to do it without feeling a sense of overwhelm.

This is where you are today, but you started out small and we’re going to talk about that. I’ve got a list of ideas, as I said, that we pulled from the book that we hope, that we know actually, will directly apply to our audience. And here’s the first one, you say, ‘Look through the stupid filter to find a smart business idea.’ One person who’s done that. . . I always like to see examples. Here’s. . . Who’s this woman who’s really happy?

Richie: That’s Sara Blakely and she’s the founder of a company called Spanx. And she. . . It’s a crazy story. She, to kind of boil it down, she had this idea to basically cut off the feet of pantyhose, hosiery, and turn it into a product for women that was different than what was traditionally out there. She started shopping this idea. She went to many factorers [??], she went to lawyers, and she went all around telling what she was trying to do.

I remember one instance in her autobiography or interview that she did where she says that. . . It’s so funny. That even the lawyer said to her, they asked, “Am I on Candid Camera?” They thought seriously like the stupidest thing they ever heard. It became something that she really wanted to do and so she kept pushing through it, pushing through it, pushing through it, until she finally talked to one guy who could help her make it happen.

I believe he was one of the owners of a manufacturing company that could help her make this happen. He actually went and asked the daughters if her idea. . . If it was something that they would use and his daughters said, “Yeah, that is something that we would use.” So, that totally changes paradigm and he said, “Okay, let’s try it out.” And Sara Blakely became the first self-made female billionaire in the world. And so. . .

Andrew: And here it is from this idea. There she is on the cover of Forbes.

Richie: There you go, from this idea. And it was a stupid idea and that’s the interesting thing, is that sometimes it’s the stupid ideas that are actually not necessarily inherently stupid. It’s just that they’re perceived as stupid because we’re afraid of them, they’re different, they’re unconventional. When in reality, it can be the smartest thing you could do. I actually call it the three T’s of stupidity. Everything from the telephone to the Model T to Twitter were at one time called stupid or crazy but they turned out to be these fantastic, you know, services and products and all that.

Andrew: All right and in order to get to that, one of the things you suggest we do is write down all of our ideas, turn off that part of us that says this is stupid, this makes sense, this is a billion dollar idea. Just write them all down. You did that early on. What was on your list?

Richie: Oh that’s a really good question. I actually, when I wrote it down, I actually broke it up into areas of my life. I literally sat down and said, okay, what I want to do with my family. You know, I’m married, I have kids. That’s not everyone’s situation so whatever your situation is think about that. But I started with that and then I went over about to my education and what I want to do with that.

What about giving back to the world? What about my finances? And I started going through this whole thing and I wrote down things with my family about how I wanted to be there for them. I got specific. I want to be able to drive them to school, pick them up from school, I want to be able to go on vacations when we need to. I got into education and I started writing down, I had a dream to go to a school called Thunderbird it’s the number one international business school in the world. All they do is international business and that was a dream of mine. I wanted to go back and get an MBA there.

So I wrote that down. I wrote about different charities I wanted to work with and sports programs I wanted to coach. And I wrote down how much money I wanted to make in a year so that I could support this lifestyle. I literally wrote it all down and by doing that it was really interesting because that’s what triggered us to go on this, that three month long trip.

Then I mentioned, it also triggered, and this is kind of a double-edged sword. I was living in Hawaii at the time but this school, Thunderbird, was based in Arizona. So because I wrote this down, we packed up and left Hawaii and moved to Arizona because that was the right thing to do for us at the time. My wife was on board, my kids were on board. And it was interesting, you can write down all the so-called stupid ideas that you want but it’s important to recognize that you’re not necessarily going to do them all.

You need to write them all down, just get it out. Download, so to speak, and then you can look at them and start evaluating which ones are most important, which ones you need to do first and then create a strategy of how you’re going to move forward and make them happen.

Andrew: Okay, just write them down, think about which ones are the most important, which have priority and then start doing them.

Richie: That’s right.

Andrew: All right, here’s another thing that we’ve pulled out of the book which is to work on an idea that excites you. I’m not sure if I can show this. Let me see if I can. I’m going to actually, oh here we go I can here and then mute it so that you and I can talk. I don’t know if you’ve seen this. Do you recognize this guy?

Richie: I know who that is but I haven’t seen this one. Oh my gosh.

Andrew: Look at what he’s doing. This is him in his company, just, who is this person?

Richie: That’s my friend Jace, Jace Bennet [SP] and he’s a crazy guy. Who would have thought you would skateboard on a skateboard ramp on one of those things? Whatever that things called.

Andrew: I don’t even know what that’s called.

Richie: Right.

Andrew: Usually you’re told by the guy who runs the company, “Do not touch it, we have insurance issues, you know, we can’t.” This is the same guy here. Let me show you a head on photo from his Facebook profile. Thankfully his Facebook profile is public so I was able to grab it. There he is.

Richie: You know what’s funny about that? That was actually a dare. We’ll talk about his company but part of his work is they have a road show in Costco and he was getting his hair cut and we dared him to actually shave his head in a Mohawk and go to Costco like that. Can you imagine the owner of the company walking into Costco like that? But he did it, man, this guy’s a crazy guy. It’s pretty cool.

Andrew: So what did he do? He at some point in his life, he ran over your son’s skateboard, right?

Richie: Yeah, he pulled into our driveway and ran over my son’s longboard skateboard and I was like, it’s okay, it’s not your fault, that kind of stuff happens, my son shouldn’t have had it in the driveway anyways. And he felt terrible. So he went home and over a number of weeks he started, he actually, created, cut out a new longboard skateboard for my son.

And I thought that’s really cool, that’s really nice, thanks so much, you know, we appreciated it. Then he took it one step further he said, “Do you think I could start a business out of this?” And I was like, “I don’t know, I don’t know.” And it was something that did get him excited and it was something that he could talk about. Before that on the skateboards, he was doing real estate at the time.

And it was interesting because as he was doing his real estate, he would talk to people, too, about what he did on skateboards. And he ended up meeting someone who knew about manufacturing overseas and locally, and as they talked and because he was so excited about what he was doing, he was able to transfer that passion from him to others and create this network of people who could help him trim this one-off skateboard into an actual company. So he did that.

They’re now in Costco. They’re selling, literally, thousands – I can’t disclose their numbers – but they’re selling skateboards all over the United States and then online they’re selling them all over the world. They have reps all over the world. What’s interesting is it was a saturated industry. There was a lot of people doing, obviously, skateboards, but he went for a market that was different. He said, “You know what? I don’t want to be grunge and skeletons and skulls,” and he knew that it was moms buying skateboards for their kids . . . Andrew: Mm, yeah.

Richie: . . . for the youth, so he went more for this bamboo feel, clean feel, and he went somewhere like Costco, where they weren’t selling skateboards and it was somewhere that other people weren’t going, and so he was able to turn that excitement into an affluent business.

Andrew: I see. So do follow your passion in this case. It worked for him and if you do do that, one of the suggestions you have is to aim for those small wins. And also, speaking of, this is another guy, see if I can pull this up, too. Got this off of his Twitter profile. I don’t know if you recognize that photo, but I think that’s Andy Price.

Richie: Andy Pearce, yes.

Andrew: Pearce, excuse me.

Richie: Yeah, yeah. So Andy Pearce, he is an amazing – as you can tell by the picture – an amazing surfer. And he was surfing at Sunset Beach on Oahu. Waves were about twenty feet and he’d surfed big waves before but this day was a little different and the wind was blowing really hard. And when the wind blows hard, the board kind of stays up higher on the wave sometimes and you kind of get caught before you can drop in.

Anyway, he got caught up on the lip of this wave and then kind of thrown down, almost like being thrown or jumping off a violent waterfall. And the board came up flying behind him and almost like an axe, just smashed his leg and actually broke his femur in half. And . . .

Andrew: Wow.

Richie: . . . he thought he was going to die. I mean, wave after wave after wave kept pounding on top of him and there was no one there to help him. And he literally thought, “What is going to happen to me? Is this the end?” Fortunately, somebody came and grabbed him and they kind of got on the same board and they would hold him really tight, so when the waves would hit them, they would kind of spin around together until they could get out of the impact zone and to an area where they could get in to the beach.

Now that’s a scary story, but what’s interesting is he, after getting a new shiny metal pole put in his leg, he ended up surfing again just a few weeks later. And he was surfing big waves again. Now he’s a fast healer, but what really got me thinking was why? Do you have a death wish? And what was interesting was he said, “You know,” and I said, “Are you scared?” And he said, “You know, everybody’s scared out there.” And I said, “Well, why do you do it?” And he explained that he did it because he loved it and he basically, in my words, his why was bigger than his fear.

And so sometimes, whatever we’re trying to do, if our why is bigger, if we’re more scared of not doing the thing we want to do than we are of actually doing it, we’ll end up making it happen. So as I looked at what his situation was, I realized that you don’t just start surfing if you don’t know how to swim, right?

So he started off learning how to swim, started on small waves, two-foot waves, four-foot waves, five-foot waves, eight-foot waves, ten-foot waves, he built his way up. And along the way, he would fall. He would catch a wave; he would fall. Small waves, but he learned how to handle these spills, so to speak, in a way that when he was at a twenty-foot wave, he could overcome that challenge and stand back up. You don’t just all of a sudden go from zero to twenty feet.

You start and you go incrementally. So when you’re starting a project, a lot of times we think, “I have this great idea,” and we go from zero to twenty feet. We go from zero to building our company. We go from zero to, in Jason’s experience, Costco. We can start thinking from zero to the biggest thing and we’d say, ‘Oh, that’s too big. I can’t do it.’ That’s not the way you go. You start small incrementally. First, learn how to swim, then you do the smaller waves and you work your way up.

So with whatever project you’re trying to do break it down into small, more manageable parts. Start with the first piece that you can do and then if you fall it’s a learning experience that helps you to be able to get back up. So, as you work your way up that ladder you’ll be able to handle yes, the big success, the big failures and move forward.

Andrew: A lot of times though, when we have those small steps that we need to take we feel like, “Well, that’s too small. That’s not where I want to be.” Speaking of swimming, I remember actually when I was learning to swim. The instructor taught me how to kick. I said, “I don’t want to learn how to kick in place, I look ridiculous. I want to learn how to actually swim. You know, like show me how to move around.” But, you know, you have to learn how to kick and you have to learn how to move, you have to learn how to breathe in order to put it all together and swim.

And then once you swim you’re saying, “That’s just one small step for him.” And then he takes it, right. The same things happens for business. How many times do we get a small win and we feel like, “Well, that’s too small. Sara is on the cover of Forbes magazine. Why am I here if she’s over there? Maybe I’m in the wrong place.” You got to start somewhere. You got to start by cutting, you’re saying.

Richie: That’s the problems we. . .

Andrew: Cutting the. . .

Richie: You know, these magazines are great, but when you read them you think, “I can never get to that spot.”

Andrew: Mm-hm.

Richie: You have to go back and look at everything they did. They started. . . Everyone started at somewhere and it started small. And the guys who are doing big deals over and over and over again, that’s because they went from small to the big deal and then they already learned how to ride those 20 foot waves. So they are able to jump from 20 foot wave to 20 foot wave and do big projects every once in a while, but it does, it starts with that first small baby step.

Andrew: All right, onto the next big idea which is to ask yourself, will I regret it when I’m 80? And one person who did that was this guy, Jeff Bezos. How did he do it?

Richie: So this story will kind of tie other things we were talking about together. Jeff Bezos was working on Wall Street and he had a great job and he had this idea to sell books online. And he did his research, saw that the internet was growing fast and he ended up talking to his boss about it and his boss took him on a walk around Central Park and his boss said, “Well, that’s a great idea, but it’s not for someone who already has a job.”

And so it became an idea, but it was a stupid time for him to do it. But he realized that if he didn’t do it he might be missing out on something. He asked himself this one question, he asked, “Will I regret it when I’m 80?” By asking himself that question he realized, “Yes, I would regret not trying to start this Internet business that’s selling books out of my garage.”

He figured it would be something that he would regret and he ended up quitting his job in the middle of the year, which is a crazy time to quit because then on Wall Street you don’t get your annual bonus, packed up his car and moved from New York to Washington and started Amazon.com from his garage.

And now, there you go another example of a billionaire and someone who is changing the world, but what’s interesting about it is, as we talked earlier about creating that list of all the things you want to do, that’s a good way to narrow down which one of them you want to do. Which one would you regret most not doing?

In fact, when Jase Bennett, Jase Boards, he talked to me about starting that company, I asked him that question. I said, “Well, will you regret it when you’re 80?” And because he narrowed down the process to that he said, “You know what, I would regret not doing it.” So he ended up trying it out. So, it’s just a great way to narrow down what you’re trying to do.

Andrew: All right, onto the next one which is to experiment then move forward or move on.

Richie: Okay so, this is really important because yeah, we talked about writing ideas down, we talked about it maybe if it’s stupid, it might be smart, we talked about narrowing it down to something you might regret, but here’s the thing, a lot of times what I found is people will wait to do something they really want to do for so long that when they finally go and do it sometimes it failed, but they built it up to be so big and they wasted their whole life on a dream that never pans out.

So it’s important, like we talked about earlier, to start early, but to experiment so that way you know if it works move forward, if it doesn’t move on. That’s what Darren Rouse did. Darren Rouse, he is the founder of Pro Blogger and also Digital Photography school, a number of other blogs and internet businesses.

What’s interesting about him is if you go back and read his story what you’ll find is that he started small. He started with a little website that was making maybe $5, $10 a day. He started working his way through it trying to see what worked, what didn’t work. He experimented, he told his family about it, and, he thought he was insane. Especially when he said he wanted to turn it into a real business. But, he didn’t just jump ship and neither did Jeff Bezos, and neither did Jase Bennett, and neither did I.

We first experimented on the idea and when it became something that we know could work, then we moved out of our old businesses and into our new businesses to make it work. So we started small and we turned it into a multi-million dollar franchise, and, it all started by experimenting.

Andrew: Was the original idea for Pro-Blogger, that was just a series of pokes that he did on his personal blog. Is that right?

Richie: I think he had a number of blogs, even before Pro-blogger and I don’t know the history of Pro-blogger specifically, but, I know that it was a number of Internet businesses that he started. And, then, I think he took those principles and moved over to Pro-blogger, what he was learning.

Andrew: Okay, and when you say, moved over, it means, obviously, continue building it, or move on. I mean, it’s okay, sometimes, to just say, this idea didn’t work out, I’m closing it down. Instead of continuing because you will not take the loss, because you don’t want to quit.

Richie: It’s important to call it quits when, I think Zack Gooden calls it a cul-de-sac, in his book, “The Dip.” If it’s a cul-de-sac, you need to quit, if it’s not going to pan out, maybe it was a really stupid idea. Or, at least, a stupid timing. But, at least, you can live your life knowing you gave it a chance, and it was a small scale, you know, we talked about ramping up. So, that it wasn’t waiting around you whole life to do this big thing and it’s a big fail. It was a small fall, and you learned from it, and now you know what to do moving forward.

Andrew: Alright, on to the next one. And, that is, to weed out non- essential tasks and work on your idea. For you, you set an alarm to ring every fifteen minutes, is that right?

Richie: Yeah, so, what I’ll do, it’s something that helps me get focused. If I wake up and I have my routine, but what happens is, that routine can get all changed up, depending on if a kid has a rough night sleeping, or if a number of things happen, I find myself opening up e-mail and getting trapped in e-mail, lan, and then I can spend my whole day doing these activities, and I felt like I was productive, but I didn’t actually produce anything.

And so, what I try to do is narrow down that. Will I regret it when I’m 80 project, we narrow that project down, and, then we say, I’m going to spend, because we have other jobs, other things we’re doing, and it may not be a full time thing. So what you do for yourself, is, I’m going to give myself a 15 minutes of undivided attention to this project. And, you turn a timer on, this is what I do, that helps me, and, I just crank on it until I’m done. And, in 15 minutes, it goes off, hey, wow, that’s amazing, I got it done.

And if I want to do more time, I give it 15 minutes again, and, I keep moving and moving and moving until I have to move on to other things. But, this also works for time you want to waste, of browsing the internet, or in e-mail. If you set yourself a time-limit, and say I’m only going to do it for this amount of time, you know that you’re able to manage your time well and balance so you can focus your priorities and do the things that actually produce and not just feel productive.

Andrew: It looks like you have a fly in the room or something there, huh?

Richie: My hands are going everywhere.

Andrew: Isn’t that distracting when that happens?

Richie: Maybe that’s a good analogy there, right, if the fly keeps bothering you, so you can’t get anything done that you want to get done. It’s true, and, everything’s always going to temp you to move away from the projects that you want to do. But, if you get serious about the project that you want to do, set yourself some dedicated time, and, actually work on it. You will make some real progress.

Andrew: I imagine that must have helped you when you were writing the book. Writing a book is really tough.

Richie: It’s a beast. And, if you think writing a book is going to be this great, awe inspiring, wonderful thing, you’re going to sit in this little man cave and get it done, when, in reality, it’s just hard, it’s just so much work when you get into it. But, it was so important to find ways to dedicate time to it. And, you know, I’d pull all nighters, and I’d do all those things to meet deadlines, but, in reality, I didn’t set aside time to get it done, it never would have gotten done.

Andrew: This is cool that you attended, and I see that they’ve got you, that you wrote up the book and your success with it. It must be great to actually see that, after all that hard work.

Richie: Yeah, now, looking back, after I did write down those things I wanted to do, and made the time to actually make them happen, it really is amazing to think that I’ve now accomplished that, I’ve done the executive MBA program from Thunderbird, I’ve written this book, I’ve gone around the world. I spoke to more than 20,000 people last year from Bali to the Dominican Republic, all over the United States. It’s amazing and it all started with my own stupid idea. So I really believe that embracing those ideas, you can make magic happen.

Andrew: Onto the next one which is START with what’s right in front of you. What does START stand for?

Richie: Okay, so START’s an acronym I created after researching what successful people did. I literally spent six years studying what it was that successful people did. And I came up with a number of principles and I tried to encapsulate it with this word START, which stands for Serve, Think, Ask, Receive and Trust. Start with service. When you have an idea, serve others in the capacity that you can in alignment with the project you want to do.

People always think they have to wait to get paid if there’s something they want to do. Successful people don’t wait to get paid. They start doing it anyway. Serving the people you want to serve – and you thank them, even if people should be thank you, you thank them. And by doing that you show you’re grateful and that gratitude creates this wonderful influence and people want to start working with you.

And you create this relationship of trust where you can finally ask people for help because asking can actually burn bridges in a lot of ways, but if you ask by first having served and thanked, you ask them in a way that I call mission matching. You align your mission with their mission and you ask for something that’s in line with what you want to do.

Then you can be open to receiving and you can receive what you’re trying to do graciously, gratefully, kind of like in football. There’s the receiver, the quarterback throws the football to him, he’s meant to receive it, not to just [??] it down. And so we need to be open to receiving. And lots . . .

Andrew: I have such a hard time with receiving. That’s why I’m smiling.

Richie: It’s so hard because people will offer things to you, and you might be, “Oh, no, no, I’m okay. I’m okay,”Because you don’t want to put someone out, you don’t want to be a mooch, whatever it is.

Andrew: Yeah.

Richie: But in reality, successful do. They receive all the time. But they’ve also been giving, right? They’ve been giving this whole time. So the idea of receiving, it’s different than giving. When you get, it’s like getting a present and not opening it. When you receive, you get the present, you open it, and you do something with it.

Going back to the football analogy, you catch the ball and you run and score a touchdown with it. So if I were to offer you something and you were to receive it gratefully and then do something with it, that’s a win for both of us. So that’s really important. Serve, Think, Ask, Receive and the last one is Trust. If you can trust this process, everything goes faster. Everything moves fluidly.

When there’s distrust, then there’s lawyers and contracts. Not that those are necessarily bad. Sometimes they are, sometimes they aren’t, but everything’s slowed down. But when you trust, everything moves forward in a more fluid manner.

Andrew: And that last part, which is Start with what’s in front of you . . .

Richie: Okay.

Andrew: . . . comes from a section of your book where you talk about Muhammad Yunus. There he is. A student said to him, “There’s so many things that concern me, so many problems that I need to work on. Where should I start?” And he said . . .

Richie: He said, “Start with what’s right in front of you.” He’s one of my heroes. I love Muhammad Yunus. He . . . you know his story . . . he was in Bangladesh and he was an economics professor and he saw all these people literally on his doorstep and they were kind of like . . . he described them as living skeletons, people that were so poor they couldn’t feed themselves.

And here he was, preaching these great economic theories. So he went out into the villages and he found that for only $27.00, he could help a number of villagers get out of the loan shark situation and work on their own businesses. Over time, that idea – they call him the Father of Microlending – turned into this massive, I guess, you can call it an industry, where they’re helping the unbankable be bankable.

Basically, he’s helping people work their way out of poverty, using their own skills. And he started with what was right in front of him. He could have been in the classroom, just talking about these great theories and what the governments can do, but instead he went out and he went, “$27.00,” and then it turned into this massive enterprise and that model has been used over and over and over again. He started with service.

So you do whatever it is you’re trying to do, look at what’s right in front of you and start with that. Don’t try and reach for all these things you don’t have. There’s a lot of stuff that’s right there you can do right now.

Andrew: Okay. I used to be overwhelmed, too, with I want to start somehow not just doing interviews on Mixergy but teaching something. How do I get it? Where do I get the software done?

Then, I had this software that I’m using right now to do things like put the camera on me, put the camera just on you, this and that and all this stuff. I just had it on my computer. I said you know what? This is just some free piece of software that’s available online. It’s called CamTwist. What if I just push myself and come up with some way of adding teaching sessions to Mixergy with whatever I have, without trying to think of how do I rent a studio, without trying to think of how do I fly someone in or fly someone out?

Or, just say whatever software I have, I could do it. So, much of what’s around here was actually originally created using Keynote, because that was available, and CamTwist because I had that. And, the recording was with Call Recorder because I had that.

I see what you mean. I get so overwhelmed sometimes with all the big ideas that I have. But, you’ve got to start with what’s there.

Richie: That’s a perfect example. If you hadn’t started with what you had right in front of you, you may have gone out and spent a lot of money on things you didn’t even need. You may not have even started at all.

Andrew: Right, right.

Richie: So it’s really important. Just start with what’s right in front of you and then work your way up. It ties back into that wave theory. Just start with the small ones and then progress incrementally.

Andrew: I do have one other point here that was actually kind of hiding underneath for no good reason. There it is. The final point that I wanted to bring up is to leverage existing resources. You give a great example of the woman behind this product. Let me see if I get… I can, of course, bring it up. There it is.

Richie: Yes.

Andrew: Do you recognize those moccasins?

Richie: I do, I do. This is…

Andrew: [??] by this woman who…

Richie: This is… So, her name’s Susan Peterson. This is a great story. She got married, started having kids, and their family was struggling financially. Her husband was in school. She wanted to figure out ways that she could help contribute and take care financially and also take care of the kids at the same time.

Her husband at the time was replacing windows for a job. She had this idea where she asked can I take the aluminum from the windows that are being taken out and recycle it for money. The owner of the company said sure.

So what was she going to do with this money and why does she do that? Well, someone told her you should start selling stuff online. So, she’s like okay I should sell stuff online. That’s like the 50,000 foot level. She started trying different things. Some things worked, some things didn’t.

Then, she had this idea. Oh my gosh, there’s… Sorry, this fly’s still here.

Andrew: I see it. It is haunting us, taunting us.

Richie: The fly doesn’t want me to tell this story.

Andrew: Right.

Richie: She looked at her baby’s feet basically and said there are no cute shoes for my baby. She got a pattern for shoes and said what if I did them out of leather, what if I made moccasins. So, she made moccasins for her baby and then she started selling them online I think on Etsy. People thought it was cool.

Andrew: …[??]…

Richie: So many people thought it was cool that she started making more and more and more. With the cash flow she got she was able to buy more products instead of having to recycle the aluminum. She was able to create more.

One day, I don’t know if you knew this part, she got a call. I think it was from Parent magazine, Parenting magazine, one of these magazines, that one of the Kardashians wanted to use her shoes in their photo shoot. She being naive was like I’m not going to give you shoes for free.

Andrew: So she charged them?

Richie: Well, she was going to, then they went back and said let me tell you how this works. She ended up giving the shoes. Now not only do the Kardashian babies almost every time you see their babies, go back and look if you want to, they’re always wearing these moccasins, but several celebrities are using them.

And, her business has started booming. She does a lot of her marketing on Instagram doing a lot of contests and things about baby moccasins. Recently she was on “Shark Tank” and…

Andrew: By the way, here, while I’m looking for the Kardashian photos I automatically will try to tee stuff up.

Richie: Yeah.

Andrew: I can kind of see it, but I don’t know what the Kardashians look like. This is Penelope wearing chambray one piece…

Richie: …[??]…

Andrew: …no gap. Oh,…

Richie: [??] might be wearing moccasins.

Andrew: Moccasins by Freshly Picked.

Richie: Yeah, that’s it, yeah.

Andrew: Where is it? More moccasins.

Richie: There you go.

Andrew: There we go. Kim Kardashian, Freshly Picked moccasins on Kim Kardashian’s blog. Yeah, wow.

Richie: Isn’t that crazy and again, it started with a stupid idea to sell things online. She didn’t know what it was going to be. She experimented. She started small. Everything that we’d be talking about she did, but bringing you back to the principal, leveraging existing resources. That’s what she did.

She didn’t have the money to buy leather to make the shoes, so she recycled aluminum from her husband’s company. That’s what we’re talking about. Starting with what’s right in front of you and leveraging those existing resources.

We always think that whatever we want to do is outside of us when in reality it might be right here, right in front of us. So, it’s very cool.

Andrew: Alright, well, these are . . . I think these are ideas that entrepreneurs need to hear that we do keep thinking that we’re one big thing away from getting started. One big idea, one big customer, one big funding round, one big something outside of us and always out of reach when in reality you’re saying, start smaller.

Don’t be afraid to jump on ideas that seem stupid and pursue a passion that you’re willing to stick with and it will give you a life that you want like, one that will allow you to do this. Sorry, you were about to say something.

Richie: No. Yeah, like you’re getting whatever you want right there. That’s so true. There’s one more thing I might add.

Andrew: Yeah.

Richie: Is when you’re doing it, whatever you’re trying to do, call it a project, name it a project. So instead of saying I have this idea for X, Y, Z, call it the X, Y, Z Project because a project can fail, a project has a beginning and an end. A project is an experiment.

So whatever you narrow your idea down to, call it the whatever project. Set yourself some time to get it done in a deadline to hit different milestones and then you’ll start getting on track because a year from now when you look back you’ll either have done something with your idea or nothing and it’ll be way better to have done something to know it’s not going to work out and [??] held onto it for that whole time or to have started, to get to a point where you can leave whatever you’re doing now to do exactly what you want to be doing. So, start small and call it a project and just make it happen.

Andrew: Great advice. The book is called The Power of Starting Something Stupid. If you click over on the home page and go to Amazon you’ll see Richie’s got a bunch of really positive reviews. They’re like this 115 customer reviews. Almost five stars. No one’s going to give you even if you wrote the new . . . even if you wrote the Bible, you aren’t going to get five stars.

People have to come in and rag on you a bit, but frankly this is really positive reviews from a book that’s full of great examples some of which we’ve covered here in this program but there are many more, much more depth to even the ones that we did talk about. The book is available everywhere. Go out, get it, grab it, read it and start something stupid, right?

Richie: That’s right.

Andrew: Alright.

Richie: Absolutely right. Make it happen.

Andrew: And the website if people want to follow-up with you. This is the site that I’ve been going to. It’s just RichieNorton.com. He’s one of the few lucky people out there who has his . . . Did you have to change your name to Richie Norton? Was it like Richard Norton? Someone else had RichardNorton.com so you went for Richie Norton?

Richie: I didn’t even look for Richard Norton. I just stuck with Richie.

Andrew: Alright. Well, congratulations on getting your name. Makes it so much easier to send people over to your site and right on the site we can see that there’s these 37 page action guide to make your stupid idea your smart reality and the 76 day challenge right at the very top of the page. Thank you so much for doing this.

Richie: Oh, it was my honor. Thanks so much for having me on. I really do appreciate it. It’s been great.

Andrew: Thank you all for being a part of it. Go do something stupid.

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Master Class:
How to grow sales
(By using database marketing)
Taught by Dan Fagella of Science of Skill

Master Class: Database Marketing

 

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Transcript

Andrew: In this session we’re going to talk about how using database marketing will help you increase your sales. And the session is led by Daniel Fagella. He is the founder of Science of Skill, an online membership site that teaches Brazilian JuJitsu fighters how to beat their opponents.Everything that he learned there, to grow this little community of a small audience to help him get large revenues, everything that he learned there, he is now teaching on a website called–here, let me bring up that site. CLVBoost.com. CLV, of course, stands for Customer Lifetime value. He teaches this whole stuff in depth, how to get more value out of your customers over the life that they have with you.I’ll help facilitate this course. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy where proven founders like Dan teach. Dan, thank you for doing this.Dan: Yeah.

Andrew: And I wanted to show this photo that you shared with me before we started.

Dan: An old favorite.

Andrew: Where were you when you took this photo?

Dan: Let me see. Hold on. Let me see. Oh it’s coming up. Man, this is great. This is in the back of Rawlings Floor Covering, a carpet store in Wakefield, Rhode Island. You can see the carpets in the background. You got the forklift over there to the right. Actually that’s my buddy and my right- hand man, Tim, over on the left who actually works with me on the online business now.

Andrew: Okay. So you’ve got a business now. Back then you had a business.

Dan: A very small one. Yeah.

Andrew: What’s the problem that you had that maybe our audience will identify with? I want to understand the problem, and then how the solution can really help.

Dan: Yeah. The problem was I wanted to teach martial arts and to be able to have that be my full-time shebang. Really the real problem was, Andrew, I went to U of Penn for grad school, and then I got the bill for it.

Andrew: Okay.

Dan: So that was really the problem, and I realized I need to do different things in this small town martial arts academy to make the kind of bucks to be able to pay that off. So we were in the back of the carpet store. We actually had to leave there because there was a new owner. So now it was, “Alright, paying rent on that building, paying rent to live and eat, and then also Penn coming up and having those payments.”

And then essentially realizing we not only need more folks coming in the door but we have to find a way to catch up with all of these people and make sure they, at least, get an appointment. They, at least, come in because there’s no chance to sell them unless that happens. That was the biggest thing for me.

Andrew: That was the town, by the way. We always talk about having small mailing lists. Your whole town, the whole of people that you can reach, was how many people?

Dan: It was 8,000 folks in our town of Wakefield, Rhode Island, which technically where we’re based. Yeah.

Andrew: Eight thousand people. So 8,000 folks. Most of us maybe have 8,000 people on our mailing list or more. Your whole capacity was 8,000 people. That’s as big as you could get. You still were able to grow. This is where you moved into using some of what we’re going to be talking about here today. Are you able to share where your revenues are on the site, just to give us a sense of what can be done?

Dan: In May?

Andrew: Yeah. What kinds of skill and this new business that you’ve built based on the database marketing we’ll be teaching?

Dan: I think I sent the Science of Skill… I think I sent it over in the initial interview. So we’re right now on pure info product level cruising at 30 something G’s a month for information products at Science of Skill. And then there’s consulting and other things that kind of make that messier that we have to pluck out of there because I also need to clean that up because I’m also working on a sale of that business there as well.

So I need to make sure that stuff doesn’t show up in these fences that don’t belong there. That’s what we’re doing there. Black Diamond was at about 17 or 18. We had a couple of months where we were above 20. Now that’s about as good as we got, and then I sold that business on my way out and moving up here to Boston.

Andrew: Is Black Diamond the studio that you had?

Dan: Yeah. Now it’s under the physical control of one of my purple belts. His name is Joshua LaBossiere. He runs it now. He’s sort of transforming it into a little bit more of a kid’s martial arts gym, more so than the adult’s kind of MMA side things that we had. But it’s still in existence today.

Andrew: Okay. Everything that we’re showing here today about segmenting, about audiences, about reaching the right person with the right message using database marketing, it’s not something you’ve invented. You actually have noticed that this existed before. I want to get into the tactics, but first I want to get a quick overview. This existed before with companies like this one. Can you describe how L. L. Bean does it just so we understand what’s coming up here in this session?

Dan: Yeah. So now I did the database marketing which is really what L. L. Bean’s ballgame is in terms of… I wouldn’t say it’s their entire deal, but I think L. L. Bean is better known for that than anything is the fact that L. L. Bean, they do marketing that’s tremendously expensive. They are involved in marketing that involves mailing calendars. Or, what do you call those big old rigging…

Andrew: Catalogs.

Dan: Catalogs, yeah. I knew it started with a “C” and it involves paper. That’s how much coffee I had this morning.

They mail those bad boys to people’s houses. That’s very expensive for ink, and paper, and postage. When they send one of those, the cover… They have obviously multiple variations of the catalog that they’re testing very succinctly, very scientifically. They have millions of folks on their list. They’re sending along postcards and ride along mailers with those.

They are varying their frequency depending on gender, demographics, location, all those various bits of information. And, they have to be calibrating how all of those various campaigns do so that they can do it over and over again each campaign, which is millions of dollars that they actually have to spend outbound to even have a chance of selling these boots, and coats, and backpacks, and everything else that they’re doing.

They are doing very, very expensive and higher level database marketing. This has been happening well before email even existed.

Andrew: That means that if I’m a man I’m not going to get a catalog that features clothes for women.

Dan: I would sure hope not.

Andrew: Right. That’s the kind of basic segmentation that we’re talking about, but it gets much more, much more, much more in depth.

Dan: Yeah.

Andrew: And, we’re going to show how to do that. One thing that you told me before we started here… Let me bring up the big board with the topics that we’ll be covering. One thing you told me is you want to start off by asking people about their intent,…

Dan: Yeah.

Andrew: …and you do that right here. Can you explain what we’re looking at and how you’re asking for intent here.

Dan: Yeah. This is one of our recent internal product launches. We’re replicating this. We’ve done this on a number of different occasions. We’re replicating this with an upcoming product launch where folks are selecting. They’re getting in on a free escape video series. I did sort of a newer video series based on a number of seminars. I was out in Oklahoma and some other places.

To get these videos we just simply ask them hey, let me know what position you’re having the most trouble escaping from. Also, let me know how you actually like to learn. Do you prefer drilling? Do you prefer strategies? Or, do you prefer specific techniques?

So they’re giving me an email address, which for most of these guys I had, and then some additional bits of information just about what they actually care about. Then, they go right into actually watch the video.

What that allowed us to do was when we started selling that course or just showing people the other free educational content, it wasn’t just for the actual sale. It was also just for the other videos in case they’re not buyers but they still want to learn – still calling out to them. We would target hey if you’re interested in escaping mount this is a particularly important technique for you. Or, this is a style of drilling that would work well with this particular move. Or, this…

Andrew: I see.

Dan: …ties in well with this other mount escape. So, we could change up the subject line and the body copy of the emails just slightly to get better opens and better click throughs from literally every single person that came through that squeeze, as opposed to just the general email list. Hey guys, if you generally like escapes here’s generally how it’ll generally help you. It doesn’t exactly have the same ring to it as really tuning into precisely what they just told me they actually care about. So, very, very big difference there.

Andrew: What about this, that most people who see this say I have a hard time getting an email address at all from people, and I feel bad asking them for that? You, Dan, are suggesting that in addition to asking for an email address we also all ask for more detail.

I can see how you do it. You want to know what kind of escape people want, how they like to learn. Does this reduce conversion rates? I mean does it reduce the number of email addresses that we get?

Dan: On the front end it can. So, if you do split tests most people… If most folks do a split test if they just have name and email they may see a drop off, or they may see an increase, or they may see a decrease if they take away, let’s say, first name and just do email. That’s especially common in niches where name and email are… Like the internet marketing niche, for example, where everybody’s been squeezed 8,000,000 times and they just want the stuff, so they’re just give me the email address, you know.

But ultimately, testing is what tells you, so it’s the same example here. Just so you know, Andrew, this form was not a front end squeeze page for, let’s say, a random guy off a blog. It could’ve been, and if I really wanted to succinctly test it over a couple of months I would – or even over a week if I want to dump a bunch of traffic on it.

But instead of doing that, I just sent my existing list through this form before I released this product. So, many of them had not given me this information yet. If they did they did not get that survey, because I already know that about them.

However, if they didn’t give me that info I just said hey guys we’re going to be coming out with a cool video series. I’m going to give you a little bit early access to the first video. Just let me know what you actually care about learning about because we have a lot of content here. [??] And, then just sent the existing email list. Now anybody that likes me well enough to give a couple of bits of info and is interested in that kind of thing will fill it out.

Yes, I would say should you make an eight step opt in on your front end page? Not necessarily. But, is it worth split testing a quick drop down with three options? Yeah it is. It’s very, very tough to make the bold assumption it’ll inherently dip your opt in rate.

And, to be frank, I’d say, 80 percent of the time I’d make the bolder assumption that your increase rate of purchase within the first two weeks or whatever your metric is would more than make up for the nominal dip in front end conversion. A little bit of tweaking on the subject line, higher ROI, so testing is the king, but you know, especially if you’re existing, there’s really no risk.

Andrew: If someone is afraid or gets dated that says, “Don’t ask for more information than an email address, we’ll show them in a moment what else they could do,” but before I move onto the next point where we show them what they could do, what is contextual parsing? You created this great image here that I want to look at. What’s contextual parsing?

Dan: Yeah, contextual parsing involves determining what people are interested in or care about, based on where they opt in and where they find you, what they select themselves that they hold as a particular interest. In my business, I have a number of YouTube videos that link to Squeeze pages, relating to what that video is about, so I have videos about leglocks, and then I have Squeeze pages underneath those videos about leglocks. I have blog posts about leglocks, and then I have products, and Squeeze pages related to leglocks in those blog posts.

If you go to places like HubSpot, they’ll do the same thing. You know, you were just mentioning, Andrew, there’s some folks that either…maybe they have a business or maybe they don’t have a business, or maybe they have an online business or they have an offline business.

If someone is selling business training, they might have blogs about each kind, and then they might have opportunities for folks who are particularly interested in that kind of thing to get in there, so it’s not just a martial arts idea, obviously. It’s just about where are they finding you, and by that alone, what can you know about them, and what do you know about how you can follow up?

Andrew: If there’s a YouTube video that’s directed towards say, leglock, when we link it, we want to link it to a Squeeze page where we get their email address, and tag them as being interested in leglocks. That’s what you’re saying.

Dan: Yes. I tag them more if it’s in a different email functionality. I work with all email clients. Some people are married to the email software their using. Different people can do it in different ways. AWeber would be an entirely different list off in times, and get response would be a different campaign, and Infusion software it would be a tag.

But yeah, you’re just categorizing them, and making sure that your succinct targeted follow up to your first offer, whatever that is is hyper-tailored to what you already know, based on where they even found you in the first place. You’re not watching my YouTube video for seven minutes or opting in on a button down below, unless you like leglocks, you know, if that’s a leglock video.

Andrew: I see, and again, for blog posts on our site related leglocks, or whatever our topic happens to be, underneath, you wouldn’t the same box asking for an email address for all topics, you would have one directed towards a topic of the post.

Dan: Yeah, because I mean, A, you’ll get a better opt in rate, especially on blogs, there’s no downside. You get a better opt in rate if it’s “Whoa, I just read this blog about this topic I’m super interested in,” escapes, leglocks, whatever your, you know, criteria are, and then “Whoa, I’m getting emails every day about that same topic too.” It’s different than “Hey, martial arts email number one,” I don’t really know, but leglocks, “Oh, I just read a post about that. This is a greet video,” boom.

Andrew: I’m glad that you made the point of…when I said the word, “Tag,” you’re right, that’s very Infusionsoft related. When I first saw that you launched CLVboost.com to help people do this. I just assumed that you were going to say what everyone else says, which is “If you’re serious, you have to get involved with whatever your software preference is.” I like that you’re saying, “There is no single software that’s going to be perfect. If you’re married AWeber, and you’re happy with it, here’s how to use all this with AWeber.”

Dan: Exactly.

Andrew: “Give me a different list. If you’re married, and are happy with Infusionsoft, you can use tags to do this.” It’s concepts that matter, not the specifics of the software. Cool?

Dan: Completely, yeah. Yeah. I’m totally software agnostic with my own work, and I think that concepts, again like you said…I mean they’ve existed so long before these software even existed. It’s just about plugging in the principles.

Andrew: All right, onto the next point, which I brought up earlier, which is you can segment further…

Dan: Yes.

Andrew: With a mini survey.

Dan: Yes, you can.

Andrew: That’s what you were starting to say earlier. Let me see if I’ve got…here’s an image that you created to show this point. In a moment I want to show how you do it. Why don’t you describe the point first, and then I’ll show how you do it.

Dan: Yeah, so when you ask for…the best time to get information from folks is when you just ask them for information just like the best time to ask for someone to buy something is after they’ve bought something, in general, right. I’m making a generalization here, but it works really darn well with surveys.

When somebody opts in in a way where they’re giving you…even if it’s as simple as just an email address, right then and there is a great time to say, “Hey, let me know a little bit more about you, and what you care about, and at the same time, I’ll give you a little extra something, I appreciate it, you know, it’s important for us to understand who we’re talking to, and what you actually, you know, want to hear about from us.” It can be a think of courtesy in addition to better targeted marketing, and then obviously you have the example of my own survey that I use.

Andrew: Here, let’s take a look. This survey that I’m looking at here has way more questions than you probably want to put on a squeeze page.

Dan: Oh yeah, many more.

Andrew: I don’t know if the audience can see it. I can see it here, very tiny. At the very top I can see that this went out through Infusion soft. So this went to your existing list, people who had already given you their email address, right?

Dan: Yeah.

Andrew: This is how… Sorry. You describe it. I’ll just zoom in so that people can see it better.

Dan: These are people that have already been on my list. So instead of linking this at the bottom of the blog post which is seemingly a lot of information, I normally wouldn’t do this. Now I didn’t test it. For all I know, it may have done just as well.

In terms of best practice, I wouldn’t go for it, but this is sent out to folks who have already opted in. It gets sent out immediately if they make their first purchase and they haven’t filled out the survey, or it follows up with them about two weeks after opting in and say, “Hey, now that you’ve been with me for a bit…”

We do a lot of different interviews and a lot of different techniques on what are your major goals? What are your major areas of interest? And what is your weight class, and I’ll make sure I send you things that are a little bit more tailored and relevant to you.

Andrew: Okay. So now we’re starting to really get to know what the audience wants, I’m wondering if I can even show this next time. Let’s go to the next point and we’ll see how the visual works out. The next point is actually… Here it comes. Where is the next point? There is the next point, right once and then customize. So the reason we’re collecting all this data is so we can create some customization. And, again, you did a great job of getting us some visuals on how to do that.

Let me show this before we show specifically how you do it. This is the front end email request. What is this describing?

Dan: Yes. Okay. Great. So if you look here, we just used an example of that escape squeeze page. It said, “Are you interested in or it asks for their preference in learning. Do you prefer drills? Do you like techniques, or are you more of a strategy person? You’d like to learn more of the strategy of escapes.”

So if they select… Let’s just say each one of those correlate with a color. So drills will be green, techniques will be blue, and strategy will be red. Now if they say they’re most interested in drilling and they opt- in, I’m essentially going to send oftentimes a relatively similar email sequence, maybe, with some different videos but especially different subject lines to get those clicks up.

So this first on the left hand side, you see it says, “Six front end emails sell an initial offer,” right?

Andrew: Mm-hmm.

Dan: Those will all be tailored and talking about drills to the drill guy, techniques to the technique guy, and deeper strategic concepts to the folks that have selected that for their choice. So they select red on the form, they’re going to get those red drops, beep, beep, beep, those six initial emails are the ones that they get.

Andrew: Each one of those dots represents an email sequence.

Dan: An individual email within that square sequence. So they’re essentially only hearing about the kinds of video content, the kinds of ideas that tie into the way that they told me they prefer to learn, which is very, very difficult to screw that up in terms of getting any worse open or click through rate. In fact, it’s remarkably simple to just change the subject line, change a little bit about some of your paragraphs. You’re essentially sending out the same thing tailored to getting a lot better response.

Andrew: Let me bring up a text editor. This is how I was wondering how I can show. It’s a little hard to really see here.

Dan: Yeah. Yeah. It’s tough to see unless you have it side by side. It’s hard.

Andrew: Actually, maybe, we should just do it side by side. Maybe I can get to the audience. Are you okay with that?

Dan: Yeah. Bod-a-bing. Send it right out.

Andrew: Here, let me show two of them side by side since that could probably show best. This is essentially… Am I looking at the same email but it’s meant for [??]

Dan: This is a lazy email, Andrew, I’ll be honest with you. There’s very little changes between these two.

Andrew: Here, let me bring them out so that they’re similar layout, and then we can see it. Okay. So one subject line says, “Back now to escape time, open before tomorrow.” This one says, “Side control escape.” This should all be easy. So this one on the right is meant for someone who told you they’re interested in side control. The one on the left is for back now. Did I understand that right? Back now escape?

Dan: Yeah. I ended up on this particular internal launch giving away sort of some extra little back now fingers for the folks that are interested in back now and wanted to get in on a digital course that I’m no longer doing the DVDs for. And the side control folks, I was giving them some extra thing-ers when they ended up buying the course related to side control.

So I was giving them both a little bit of extra bonus for the purchase, but the email, as you can see, is very similar, but as you can imagine, Andrew, if you, let’s say, it’s cars and you’ve selected your favorite kind of car. I imagine it’s very difficult to sell luxury cars online but maybe posters and memorabilia.

And you said you really prefer Maseratis and you’re going to one that says. “Maserati fans, open before tomorrow tonight.” That’s a lot better than, “Hey, muscle car folks, check out this email.” It’s very different.

Andrew: I see. So even the content is the same, we don’t have to rewrite the whole thing for each segment.

Dan: Not at all.

Andrew: Just small changes. Ferrari in the subject line for the Ferrari owner, Maserati for the guy who loves Maseratis. Gotcha. That’s what you’re going for.

Dan: And the folks that are general, Andrew, the folks that have not given you that info, maybe they didn’t go through the survey or they didn’t come in that front-end form, go ahead. Let’s send them the general one.

Andrew: Gotcha.

Dan: But we more or less know for a fact, even if they’re buyers, they’re not going to have the same response rate as the folks who we’re hyper- tailoring. So we are going to do that whenever we can, but if you have another swap of your list and you don’t know that about them, give them the generic.

Andrew: I really like seeing the actual example and we’ll show it to people because, you’re right, I can see that this is so similar. Saying here’s the same intro paragraph, same intro paragraph. Paragraph number two is the same. Number two is the same. I’ve got it at different text size.

Dan: That third paragraph, there’s only one word difference, back mount and side mount.

Andrew: Oh, yeah. Here, back mount is here. Side mount is here. I see. So you’re basically just keeping the same message, but showing them that you understand what their main focus is, what their main passion is.

Dan: Yes. The core sort of involves all those different things. And then again, I would give a separate little bonus to the folks with those different little interests. But that little bit is tailoring and customizing to what they actually care about. And it boosts sales. I mean a little bit on sales matters, especially when it’s an email sequence that goes out to everybody.

Andrew: All right. So we collected data. We started to use it. Now people are starting to buy for, let me see, actually, no wait, before we even when get to buy, it’s not just the email. It’s also the sales page for each customer that you create is different.

Dan: Ideally, yes.

Andrew: Here, let’s take a look at this image.

Dan: Yes. And I want to set something clear for the folks out there who are aiming to apply this idea, Andrew.

Andrew: Yeah.

Dan: I think this is a very powerful notion, especially when you have a main funnel that gets a lot of traffic, or when you have a bigger launch that’s going to get a lot of traffic as well. Or if you have a main channel for your business that gets hundreds of folks a month consistently and it’s going to be that way for months and months and months . . .

Andrew: Mm-hmm.

Dan: . . . this is more than worth doing if there’s any ability to parse in the front end at all. And oftentimes, there is. So just to explain, you had the picture up there, you had those sequences leading up the sales page relevant to that person. I’ll give you an example of something I’m doing. If I’m selling a marketing automation. At CLB Boost we have a DVD set that involves marketing automation database, marketing principles. Right?

Andrew: Mm-hmm.

Dan: So if someone says that they have an internet marketing business, as you can see CLB Boost actually does have a drop, down on the front end. So I definitely eat my own dog food here. So they tell me, oh, I have an internet marketing business but it’s just an idea phase. It’s not really a business. And then they opt in. Ideally, they are going to land on the DVD sales page.

They’ll say, hey, you know, they will have a bunch of bullet points and maybe an adjusted title. They’ll speak a little bit more specifically to the internet marketer crowd. Doesn’t have to be a totally different sales pitch. Doesn’t even have to be a different product. I’m certainly not going to tell them this is different than what I’m giving these guys. Because it is the same product.

But I am going to tell them, this is why it matters to you. I know who you are, and this is my product. But this is why it’s a fit for you. And the title might say, internet marketers, blank, blank, bla-, blank, blank, blank. Or, you know, the seven key blanks that internet marketers should blank. And the bullet points will all line up to exactly what they’re interested in. If they’re in a startup and they’re looking to scale, which is often the case to CLB Boost, we tailor to that kind of thing, then the sales page, ideally here, we’d have a different headline that would call out to start-ups eager to grow.

And then we’d have bullet points that tie into things that are going to appeal to them, you know, marketing that’s more scalable. You know they like words like scalable. Right? Everybody in the start-up world.

Andrew: Yes.

Dan: Got it. There’s an appeal to that. Right? Growth hacker is a word that they’re going to like more than the internet marketer, so we’ll talk about it. We’re not going to tell them I’m giving them something different than the internet marketers.

Andrew: Interesting. Yes. Right. Internet marketer and start-up entrepreneur are both looking for more users, more customers, but the way that they talk about it is different. One would use a term like growth hacker and the other would actually say internet marketer.

Dan: And literally, just by changing the headline on the sales page that category one gets versus category two, if I can get them to stick on that page for long enough to read the headline, Andrew, as you know, copyrighting, I mean, that’s a good enough step for me.

Andrew: What about then once someone actually gets the product? So I understand if I’m a start-up guy and you appeal to me by using the word growth hacker which is kind of trendy today.

Dan: It is trendy.

Andrew: I’ll buy it. But then if I come in and I see online marketing in the actual product that you’re selling, I might feel like, ooh, did I just get suckered into an online marketing scam and I didn’t even know it?

Dan: Yeah. So here’s how that’s dealt with. Number one, if you’re telling them that it’s something it isn’t, obviously there’s an issue. So my escapes course – luckily,right? – involves a swath of techniques from every single one of the positions listed there and many, many more. So when I say, “Hey, there’s a number of fantastic drills and escapes related to the mount,” they’re going to dig into that product, and they’re going to know there are a bunch of other things. But they’re going to say, “Damn, he’s right.

There’s a freaking ton of mount escapes here; there’s a ton of back mount escapes in here; there’s a ton of side control escapes here.” So, if I said, “Hey, this in only about side control, and man, this is a full two hours dedicated to that, that would be… I use the friendly term scoundrel. That’s sort of a scoundrel-esque technique there, which isn’t all that conducive. So, do it in a way that’s going to speak to what the product actually is.

For me, for a CLVBoost, when people are looking through the slides and going through those videos, I’m not talking just about Ryan Deiss, Frank Kern, and I’m not talking just about Drop Box and Facebook. I’m speaking to principles and tenets of marketing. Whether you want a user on an app, whether you want to sell e-commerce, whether you’re looking to book appointments and sell big ticket items, it’s going to be the same tenets and principles. It’s not only language to one person.

So the product is relatively agnostic, but the marketing on the front end, I want to speak the language of who the heck I’m talking to.

Andrew: Okay. So, now we’ve gotten information about them. We’ve gotten even more through the follow up survey. We’ve sent them an email that’s customized based on what they’ve told us when they registered. And, we’ve created a sales page that spoke directly to them and, again, based on what they’ve told us before. It’s time to sell. Why don’t we start with non- buyers before we go into buyers. You say for non-buyers, people who don’t buy, sell them down. What does it mean?

Dan: What I refer to here is that, if you have an initial, what I call a “yellow brick road,” and that’s an initial email sequence, an automated marketing sequence that presents a particular product, you should not go home with your tail between your legs. You should continue to educate them, continue to present them with testimonials and other things that are going to be entertaining. But then at the same time, you should take another swing, and that could be from a slightly different angle.

Andrew: So this is after making an offer to people; some of them will buy, others will not. The people who will not is what we are trying to address right now?

Dan: Yes. The people who don’t, that’s fine. Let’s educate them some more and present a different offer. Maybe it’s a lower price point, maybe it’s a totally different offer all together at a similar price point. I generally will drop down a little bit, and I’ll also change the positioning of the product. So, I won’t say, “This is the same product just less of it and smaller. Are you willing to spend less money?” It’s not like that.

The way that I prefer to present it – and ultimately testing is what tells you – but my default is, “Hey you came in for the four basic leg locks major course, and you didn’t take it.” The drop sell, or the next twelve emails, after I give you six emails where I’m mentioning this one course. The next twelve are going to educate you, talk about other things.

And then I’ll bring up a smaller specialized cool course. It’s one DVD, but it’s entirely about a particular knee-bar technique that I really like and I have some great highlight videos around it. It’s a cool, unique little shard, a cool different proposition. It’s not just lesser value proposition. It’s different, but it’s lesser in price. That will often scoop up the card and you have a customer on the list, not just a prospect.

Andrew: Gotcha.

Dan: And, of course, then you have the opportunity to up-sell.

Andrew: Okay. And we’re going to get to that in a moment. That explains why, even though you don’t deal in cheap-o products Well, I just got that way too big. There it is – why you have something like this on your site. This $1 opportunity. Why is there a $1 offer? That’s a button on your site that leads to this, which I’ll show as you explain it.

Dan: We don’t have $1 offers because they make me wealthy. We have $1 offers because, when someone gets in with us enough to become a customer, their response rates to further email offers are going to go up. Their going to be able to build a little bit of trust and decide if they like my stuff or not. Right? If the lowest barrier to entry for me is $97. Your average guy who’s a martial artist, he’s at least got to think before he slaps 97 bucks in the cart.

But if it’s, alright, I got a buck, and he’s giving me 30-day trial of this program, or he’s giving me a couple of these front end DVDs in downloadable format, or I’ve even done crazy things like mailed out a couple DVDs for just a $1. Just to get people to get the things. Then if they enjoy that content, that’s someone who’s more likely to be a customer again.

So I like to drop the barrier of entry. It might not be the best strategy, front-end, for every business. But I happen to think, even if you start high, I prefer to have some semblance of a drop down later on to scoop that person up and build back up that trust, and then sell them back up again.

Andrew: Alright. And then, the people who do end up buying, then you say you want to sell up. And you do that. I’ve actually brought up the page a moment ago. Here, I think, is how you do that. What is this, this page where you’re offering something for $597.

Dan. Yes. This is an external hard drive that contains essentially all of my martial arts programs, and it’s all bundled into one branded little external hard drive to get some mailed out to the people. We have people, geez, from South Korea to Canada order these bad boys up, and I found that I haven’t had 600 of them sold, but of the nominal number I’ll normally call these people right up and say, “Hey, thank you very much. I appreciate you getting in on this course and program.”

We found a lot of them are interested teaching and interested in having a breadth of their curriculum. So we decided to add a tailored version of it that would speak to teachers. So it says, “Teachers, blankedly blank…

Andrew: For instance, “Teachers get my full curriculum and access to my best instructionals to help your students grow. Launch special offer only, the black box.”

Dan: Yep. So this is actually going to appear after a current product launch for a skilled development course that we’re launching. So we’re going to have three different variations of this. I’m going to have another one for competitors. I’m going to have another one for folks that are just interested in moving up in the belt ranks or skill level, so general improvement.

Andrew: Okay. Alright. So now we’ve gotten some orders, and we move them up. If we didn’t buy, we scooped them up by selling down. Up next, we still have this list, and the next suggestion is or the next step is to recycle the list. And you do that with… Let me see if I can bring up his page to give an example of who you do this with.

This is a page of-I’m sorry, I forgot his name.

Dan: It’s Steven Whittier [SP[. Yep.

Andrew: Steven Whittier. Okay. So how does Steven Whittier help you recycle your list?

Dan: Yes. Well, there’s a couple of different ways. By recycling the list, I essentially mean just maintaining contact with them. So a lot of folks, after people go through your marketing automation sequence, they’ll just end up on the list, which is , “Here’s the x number of thousand people that get a monthly broadcast from me when I do what I call a monthly broadcast.

Instead of doing that, I like to take the information I know about these people, let’s say, their age, let’s say, their preferred method of learning or skill level, whatever it might be. In this case, it’s age. I really don’t have any products per se tailored to the older gentlemen, even though I have many of them on my email list. So what I’ll do is I’ll write some blogs and send out a couple emails to an offer like Steven Whittier’s offer where I know he appeals specifically to 40 plus folks because he is 40 plus, I’m not.

So they will be more likely to snap up that offer. It’ll be more relevant to what their situation is, more relevant than I could do. And then in exchange for that, Steven will send some of his folks over to one of my offers. So I have plenty of areas of technique that maybe he doesn’t cover.

So instead of seeing ourselves as competitors in that kind of negative sense, we’re kind of collaborating to kind of hopefully provide a better experience and also profit more both ourselves by essentially exposing our list to each other’s content and offers.

Andrew: I see. His site is called 40+BJJSuccess.

Dan: Yeah.

Andrew: What’s BJJ?

Dan: Brazilian JuJitsu.

Andrew: Brazilian JuJitsu. So you guys focus, not just on martial arts but on Brazilian JuJitsu and he, not just on Brazilian JuJitsu but Brazilian JuJitsu for 40+. You know what’s interesting is that information marketers, like you, are so much better at this automation, so much better at dissecting than even software vendors. You’d think that software vendors would be huge at this, but…

Dan: It’s a shame. To be honest, in my opinion, it’s a borderline crying shame. For example, if you opt-in on HubSpot who I happen to respect a lot and I mention them often, no matter which size of company you select at, I think, industry as well you get precisely the same follow-up. And their selling automation software, it almost hurts my feelings. So I believe you are correct there.

I think in many regards there are some older school marketing tactics that for some reason haven’t… There’s a lot of great grill packing things, but there’s a lot of these older school tenets and principles that are really one and done, set in stone, kind of things that can really improve our life that are just not moving into or haven’t found their way into software.

Andrew: Frankly, I would have loved to have had a software entrepreneur talk about this kind of customization, this kind of segmentation. I don’t know of any who do it this way, and the fact that frankly we use the term, growth hacking, and I use it, too. I like the term. It’s cool.

Dan: Nice.

Andrew: But it sets us up, I think, for a monumental set of hacking, coding up, and then we end up doing extra work as opposed to just saying, “It’s all marketing and now let’s figure it out. What marketing works best? And if it’s segmentation using software that already exists, then let’s segment using software that already exists…

Dan: Yeah.

Andrew: …to promote the software that we’re creating.

Dan: Yeah, it’s not necessarily just building new things or…

Andrew: Right.

Dan: …I mean finding a way to leak Craigslist people out to build your platform…

Andrew: Right.

Dan: …[??]…

Andrew: Because Air Airbnb did it then we all have to now find a way to do it, too.

Dan: Yeah.

Andrew: Right. And, hopefully, now there’ll be a software entrepreneur out there in the audience who uses this. I’ve got one more point, but hopefully there’ll be a software entrepreneur who uses this and comes back and says here’s how I did it. It’s all basic stuff. I didn’t add more to my software. I didn’t add this marketing component to do it. The software already exists to do it. Instead, I focused on using the software that exists to market in building my product to do something that never existed before.

All right, on to the last point which is to stick to it. Stick to the regimen. Let me bring up this… Oh, I’ve got actually… Oh, you’re so good at just giving out stuff. Why don’t I start with…

Dan: Hey, let me know, man. I mean, you know, yeah, I don’t want to get too weird with you. But, yeah, whatever you want to…

Andrew: Get weird with me, buddy…

Dan: …know, like I said…

Andrew: …Get weird, Dan.

Dan: …I’m happy to share whatever’s going to be helpful.

Andrew: I mean by that you also even gave me this text doc that I’ll show in a moment. But, why don’t we start with this overview, this image.

Dan: For sure.

Andrew: What is this?

Dan: Yeah. This is a representation of an email list, a list of prospects, it could include customers as well, where you see various groupings here represented by these shapes.

My preference, as I mentioned before, is that normally when we talk about a regimen… And, of course, we’ll get deeper into regimens with the standard operating procedures which I think, obviously, any business would require and need.

Part of my whole gig is developing those depending on the business, because it’s going to differ business to business. If you run a software company you’ll have a different regimen of weekly, monthly communication than you will if you are in a niche like pets or something like that.

We do a little bit of both. But, let’s just use this as a very simple sort of bland example. It’s going to just point out the point.

The idea is that you have a big old bucket of folks. Everybody’s got a different length of time involved with you, a different set of interests, different factors that differentiate them, different ways to build a group and clump them. Most people will say hey, it’s April 1, let’s send out that broadcast message we send out to everybody and their mom to just, you know, send them out our monthly thing because that’s what we’re supposed to do.

Instead of doing that, my preference is even if it is as bland as a… By the way, I prefer to go a little bit more L.L. Bean and to think about systematically coming up with unique offers, education, and testimonials for different list segments. But, let’s say we’re getting so boring as to just doing a monthly email.

If that’s the case, instead of sending one out I will find the three or four major categories that all of my folks fall into. If all I have is very limited info maybe I’ll send them the bland one. But, the green people… Let’s say we’re in software. The green folks are in a range of zero to ten employees. They’re going to buy your software for their very small business.

The folks in red are 10 to, let’s say, 50 or 10 to 75 employees. Then, the folks in blue are over 75 employees. These might be people with a couple hundred employees even for a larger company.

Instead of sending out the same broadcast to everybody, let’s send out the same broadcast but tweaked per what they actually care about. So, let’s say the smaller folks if you’re giving them a monthly update, why is there a case study in the example of how some gargantuan company used your software? Why aren’t you talking about how other smaller software folks are very succinctly using what you’re providing them with?

With the mid-size people, why aren’t we doing case studies and learning examples and news updates that are really going to be most applicable to where they’re using your software?

For folks that are in bigger companies, why aren’t we communicating to them about… have articles that relate to how to leverage this software even despite the hierarchy and bureaucracy of your business? Why aren’t we relating to the problems they have, the benefits they seek that are unique to them?

Why are we pushing a button and sending the same email to everybody? If you have 600 people, well, you know, maybe you just don’t want to write that many emails. Depending on your price point maybe it’s not worth it for you. But, if you have 2,000, even 1,000, never mind 10,000; 20,000; 30,000 people, taking the extra seven minutes per breaking that message up into a couple of tailored ones is going to jack your open rates. It’s going to jack your click through rates. If you have additional offers in there it’s going to bump your profits pretty big time.

Andrew: I could see how that would make sense. This is essentially what you’ve told us to do throughout this session. You’re just saying…

Dan: Yeah.

Andrew: …keep sticking with it even with those weekly,…

Dan: Yeah.

Andrew: …monthly mailings.

Dan: Exactly. Figure out your regimen. We’ll get into the standard operating procedure in a second…

Andrew: Yeah, let’s show that.

Dan: Yeah.

Andrew: What is the standard operating persistence…procedures.

Dan: Procedures, yeah. Standard operating procedure for us is what we do within given periods of time to keep the business running and afloat. So if we scroll down a bit, this is just lead sources.

Andrew: Mm-hmm.

Dan: It’s sort of boring stuff.

Andrew: I see daily here, the way emails are handled, Facebook posts.

Dan: Twice a week is YouTube things and then down in weekly we have marketing. So we have two branded whole email lists on Monday and Thursday. Every now and again I’ll switch this up a little bit because I like to tinker with various open rates on various days. Or sometimes I’m doing so much sub-segmenting I don’t want to do another full list blast.

In general, I’ll do two sort of more overall branded emails that are going to applicable for more or less a good swath of my list. So it might not go out to everybody, but it will go out to more or less everybody. And it will cover a variety of different things. Something fun on Facebook, maybe a cool article that I checked out or just something else to learn that I just kind of get out there.

Then I’ll pick, at least, two various sub-segments, and I’ll present them with sub-segmented offers which are either going to be one or two emails along. Then I’ll pick one or two sub-segment affiliate offers. So I have a bunch of affiliates who I want to keep great relationships with, so I consistently on a weekly basis will promote my affiliates.

This week I’m promoting two or three people. There you see it’s one or two. Sometimes if I have a little bit more to do, I have a launch coming up, I try and make sure I’m really helping out everybody else.

Andrew: By affiliates, you mean this is someone who’s sending you business. You make a point of once a week helping out them.

Dan: I pick one of my random folks. Exactly. I should have made that a little bit more clear.

Andrew: I see.

Dan: These are people that pass me business. So I just make the point on a weekly basis. I’ve got to start sniping out segments of my list who might be interested in this affiliate, this affiliate, this affiliate, products I don’t have that might be useful to this group. Then they’re going to get a micro targeted either a one or two email bump specific to the in their situation and this affiliate offer.

Andrew: I see. And then does the affiliate pay for that, or do you get a commission when you introduce them to this.

Dan: Yeah. So I just get a commission when the money comes in and then in exchange I have a lot of arrangements where they in turn will send emails or put up Facebook posts for me and drive in additional opt-in business for me. So that really helps us keep the tornado going.

Andrew: Okay. Alright. How about one more? I think I’m getting a sense of how this works. What about the section right here?

Dan: Okay. A monthly marketing. So you have a four email chain for continuity push to front end. So in our business we have a lot of membership programs.

Andrew: Mm-hmm.

Dan: And just as I had mentioned before, we like to vary the membership programs per the interest of the person, and we especially like to vary the front end giveaways or bonuses that we’ll give to folks to check out the membership areas and say, “Hey, this costs x amount of money. You can buy it if you want.”

Say, “Hey, I believe in this so much that I’m more than willing to send out these cool things and give you a free login for a span of time to dig into this material and also get your hands on these cool new courses.”

So we’ll present a new unique course that will be exciting for the list, exciting for the folks that are tuned it, and at the same time it’ll drive towards one of our core membership programs. And we’re going to promote that to our entire list, just to keep those membership programs at a nice, healthy level and keep that run rate where it needs to be.

So that’s one of the big monthly pushes that we’ll do with every month with basically no exceptions.

Andrew: I see. And so you created the standard operating procedures as a way of making sure that you stay consistent and keep promoting and keep doing the things that work.

Dan: Exactly. And I’ll say this much, too, this is a fluid dock. It’s not something that has to stay the same forever, but again if you go to L. L. Bean, I haven’t been back there but they don’t randomly on one random Thursday say, “Hey, guys, you want to do catalogs today? Yeah. Yeah. Let’s do catalogs. Alright. Should we cut the trees down?” That’s not how it happens. Like get the saws out, boys. Like, that’s not what goes down, right?

They have their seasonal consistencies. They have their sub-segments that are getting marketed to more tailored. And they’re collecting and pulling that information, and they’re validating, “Okay, is this a good frequency of this sub-set? Are these kind of good offers for this sub-set. Okay. Great.

Well, how about the next quarter let’s keep working these folks because it’s going to be the winter and I know we’re going to get a lot of sales on this. So let’s test it with them.” And then, boom, they have their own set of a template which is modular. They’re able to adjust it, but they hang with it.

L. L. Bean has no winters where freaking catalogs don’t go out, you know what I mean?

Andrew: Versus how many people do you know online who collect their email addresses but they go months not sending it, and then you get that email that I hate which is, “Sorry I haven’t emailed you in a while, and I’m going to send it out now.”

Dan: And Frank Kern told me to do this to you. Yeah. Yeah.

Andrew: I don’t need an apology from him, is that right?

Dan: If you stick to the ledger I know what works for your list. It’s kind of embarrassing to have to pop out that email. It’s better than nothing, but at the end of the day find a consistency that your list happens to like, not your list as a whole but your overall list. Sure. But then the sub-sets of your list. Maybe there’s buyers. Maybe there’s more frequent openers who want more communication, who want higher priced offers, who want potential affiliate offers.

Find a regimen that’s nice and consistent and keep that communication pump going, because that’s a whole another revenue pump that most people are just leaving in the corner. No money, no [??]. For science of skill, I’d say 70, 80 percent of our revenue in any given month is from consistently re-marketing to people who have been with us for maybe a month and a half, two months, and are no longer getting any automated emails. But they’re still getting all these emails targeted to their interests.

Now, I email a little bit more often than other folks, but it’s at a cruising level where my opt outs aren’t terrible, my charge backs aren’t terrible. It’s a hobby level that people are into, and I keep that regimen and modulate that regimen. And that is responsible for more than half of the money we make every month. Most folks think it’s all about that new traffic. Sure, I focus on that all day, but I tailor and customize messages to my existing customers and prospects.

And any software company, any start-up business that’s even focusing on an app and has people of different levels of registration should and could do something precisely the same. Find that regimen and stick to it.

Andrew: All right. I started off this interview talking about the science of skill where you use this, where you really got good at it. But I think maybe what I should suggest that anyone who’s listening to this and wants to follow up with you do is they should just go to clvboost.com. On this site, they can actually see you not just teaching, what we’ve talked about here, but using it. And you go much in depth about this. Right?

Dan: Big time. Yeah. So, on this page we have, some folks will just want to contact me directly at the button down at the bottom. People who already kind of have an idea of the build outs, or the advice they’re really going to need. And then other folks will just want to get in on the white paper and learn it in a little bit more depth. So again, this is what we do. For some people who already have marketing automation software . . .

Andrew: As you do?

Dan: . . . it’s really making sure. Yeah. So there you go. Yep. It’s making sure that they have the software set up right to get a good ROI, and the good news is we can put that stuff on autopilot and then your business is making more money from then on out. And they can learn to do that themselves with the white paper, or they can contact me right there on the site.

Andrew: Even this contact form? I’m going to say this. This contact form is an Infusionsoft form, and even here you are asking them to segment themselves.

Dan: Of course.

Andrew: Are you in a start-up? Do you have an internet lifestyle business? A start-up idea with no business yet? Oh, this is great!

Dan: All day long. Now, every single time there’s an opportunity to tag them because they’re going to get different broadcasts, Andrew, two, three, four months from now. And you know what? If that person doesn’t get in on any kind of strategy call for, let’s say, four months, but they learn fantastic things about other internet businesses or other start-ups I’ve worked with who have had great success. How much more likely are they to be interested in, you know what? Maybe I’ll get in touch with this guy.

Andrew: This is so cool to see. Anyone who wants a followup should go check out . . . I’m looking at my monitor here where I’ve got . . . Here, let me just show it, clvboost.com. Dan, thank you so much for doing this. I know you’ve got another meeting to run to, so I’ll let you go. But thank you so much for doing this. Everyone else, thank you for being a part of it. Thank you, Dan.

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Master Class:
How to grow your company
(By using a remote team)
Taught by Jason Fried of Basecamp

Master Class: Remote Teams

 

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Transcript

Andrew: This session is about how to grow your company with a remote team. It’s led by Jason Fried. He is the founder of Basecamp, whose project management software helped over 285,000 companies in 2013 alone. Our conversation today is based on his book, Remote: Office Not Required. Here’s some of the screen shots and the illustrations from the book. I’ll be here to help facilitate.My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy, where proven founders like Jason teach. Jason, I’d like to illustrate the problem with the real world example, and you just told me what happened when you put up a help wanted ad on your job board. What were you seeing?Jason: So, we are currently looking for another product designer, interface designer. And we’re getting really interesting results this time. We’ve gotten about 130 applications so far in about a week. So, it’s a lot. But what we’re seeing is a fair number of people are applying for the job because we allow remote working.And so they’re actually saying in their applications, and their emails, and their cover letters, that one of the reasons they’re looking for a new job is because they’re current employer does not allow them to work remotely. And they actually like their job a lot. They like their current job. They feel good about it. But it’s not satisfying completely for them, because they don’t want to have to go to the office every day. They don’t want to fight the commute and the traffic every day.

So they’re actively looking for a new job, even though they love their job, and they’re looking for a new job because they want to love the new job, and they want to be able to work remotely. And so, we’re seeing a lot of really interesting applications. People that normally wouldn’t be looking for work but are, because they’re being forced not to be able to work at home.

Andrew: I see. And I can see in that, the duality, the danger, and the opportunity. The danger is the people who you want are going to be looking elsewhere, even if you give them a great job that they’re happy with, if you just don’t let them work remotely. And you’ve got a job board right here, where you allow people to look for remote work. And that’s the opportunity. If we allow our people to do that, then they’re going to be much more likely to work with us.

By the way, I saw this just moments before we talked. Here is a post by Tim Bray, who is leaving Google. He says he loves Google. The reason that he’s leaving is because they will not allow him to work from Vancouver. Everything else he loves about it, but they’re missing out on great talent. Even Google has this problem, because they don’t allow remote work.

Jason: That’s amazing. I hadn’t seen that. Was that just posted today, or recently?

Andrew: Just minutes ago. It hit the top of Hacker News, which is the reason why it caught my eye. It said, wait someone’s leaving Google? And that’s the top, and now I understand why. Alright. And so we’re going to allow people to capitalize on some of this. As I said before, I pulled out some ideas from the book that I wanted us to talk about. And the first one, this is an important one, you say allow overlapping schedules.

By the way, the images in the book are so good. I just want to show people. Right there. Allow overlapping schedules. Why should we allow overlapping schedules? If people are working remotely, especially if they’re all over the world, what’s the problem with just saying, show up anytime?

Jason: Well, I think you want a little bit of overlap, but most of the time you don’t want to overlap. The reason you want a little bit of overlap, is because you want those moments during the day when you can have rapid fire back and forth. Discussion, review, conversations. But if you have that all the time, what ends up happening is you end up disrupting each other, interrupting each other non-stop.

So it’s nice to have a couple hours, three hours maybe, where you can get feedback nearly immediately from somebody. But then the rest of the day, the next five hours, or whatever it might be, you can go off and do your work in a quiet environment where you’re not being bothered. If you don’t overlap at all, let’s say you’re working in Chicago, and someone’s from New Zealand, and there’s very little overlap. It ends up taking about 24 hours to ever get feedback on something, and that, ultimately, ends up being too slow.

So by just having a few hours during the day, when you’re overlapped, you get enough of the bandwidth for quick feedback, and then the rest of the day you actually have enough time to do the actual work.

Andrew: You know what? And that explains why so many people don’t like having out-sourced teams, or remote teams, because the idea of sending something at the end of your day and not getting to check back on it until the following morning is pretty frustrating, because then you have to wait till the end of the day again before you can send out for feedback. What kind of

Jason: By the way, I think that’s one of the issues people have always had with out-sourcing. When they think of out-sourcing, sometimes they’ll think of out-sourcing to India. And in the U. S. And one of the big problems with that is not necessarily just quality. In some cases the quality is fine. In some cases it’s not. But the problem is that the feedback cycle is basically twice as long, which is difficult and frustrating if you see something that you changed or you need to kind of stop someone before they go down the wrong direction.

It feels like forever to get a response back and to be able to correct course and stuff, and I think that’s one of the tough things. So outsourcing is a concept that’s strong, but I think at a certain point if it’s too far away and there’s not enough overlap you run into really weird situations.

Andrew: Okay, and so at Basecamp you look for four-hour overlap, and that way there’s enough time for people to interact but basically a little more than half the day is no interaction, quiet time.

Jason: Roughly, if it’s three it’s fine, but we’ve gotten some applications from people in New Zealand that were quite good, but I think it’s tough, it’s just a little too far away and the time zones don’t overlap. If we had, for example, a designer in the U.K. and then someone in New Zealand we could make it work, because there’s some more overlap with someone else. But we don’t have anyone that’s really within the 12-time zone and so it’s difficult.

Andrew: So it’s not that the whole team needs to have a four-hour block that everyone is working together. You’re saying within the people who work together there should be a four hour block overlap?

Jason: Yes, for example, our support crew, we just hired someone in Australia and we have some people in Germany and like there’s enough overlap throughout the whole team to have continuity. So there’s always someone else around when someone else is around. But if there’s no one else around when someone’s around it becomes really challenging.

Andrew: Okay, on to the next big point here, direct from the book, Remote. Share your work with your team. This is a program that I’m using right now, frankly, to record a backup of our conversation. How do you use this and how is this an example of how to share your work with a remote team?

Jason: Yes, we use ScreenFlow a lot. ScreenFlow is great. There are a lot of tools like it. Often times when we’re presenting progress on something rather than just describe it or share static screen shots, we’ll just flip on ScreenFlow, record the screen, put our head in the bottom right corner and just talk through what we’re doing.

So when we show the work the words match up with what’s on the screen so it’s just easier to follow, especially for someone who’s not involved directly in the project. If you’re just trying to describe the project it can be complicated; but if you’re showing it it’s great.

We just upload a movie to Basecamp screencast to Basecamp, and then the whole company can watch it and get up to date on what’s been going on; it’s fantastic.

Andrew: What kind of things are you taking ScreenFlow videos of?

Jason: Like for example, right now we’re working on an iPad app for Basecamp, and we just completed one of the most complicated parts of it, which is the to-do functionality. And the team that’s been working on that has been sharing some screen shots of it along the way, but when it was all wrapped up they recorded a video of themselves using it. And you just connect the dots better when you can just watch the thing being used rather than trying to imagine how the screen interacts with the screen.

So that’s a great example when there’s a flow, when there’s a process, when there’s a desired outcome and there’s progress being made on something. Seeing it visually, seeing it move is just a much better way to communicate it. But if you’re just showing a few static things that aren’t linked together and aren’t pieced together in any coherent way, it’s not necessarily better to do it in video, and it might be more distracting in fact. But if you want to show progression through something video is great for that.

Andrew: I see, otherwise something like Sketch would be helpful, you take screen shot arrows. What are some other tools? We have ScreenFlow. Snag It, I think, is a program that a lot of people like for taking screen shots or videos. What else is there they can use?

Jason: A lot of us use the built in Mac OSX image capture. I’ve lost my memory here. It’s shift-command-4, or whatever it is.

Andrew: Yes, shift-command-control-four I think to save it.

Jason: That saves it to the clipboard actually, and then I think just command-shift-four will save it to your desktop and then you can get a selection marquee. It’s funny, like I’ve been doing this for years, and I have a hard time explaining it because it’s just muscle memory. But that alone is great. And then we’ll either throw in the campfire or throw it in to BaseCamp or [IMed] or whatever it is. It doesn’t matter what tools you use, just like that’s a great way to do it.

We use Skitch sometimes; the support crew uses Skitch a lot to point things out to customers when they have a question about how something might work, so they’ll take a screen shot of that, throw some arrows on it, highlight some stuff, throw some text on it and shoot it over to a customer. That’s handy.

There is also a tool called [intellect lice MCE] or something like that. That’s not quite right. It saves a screen cast as an animated GIF, which then we can upload somewhere to put it on a web page really quickly if you want to show some really quick short animations or quick interactions, which is handy. Something else called like…

Andrew: Is it QuickCast?

Jason: No. I’ll tell you right now. It’s called… There’s also one called GIF Brewery.

Andrew: Okay.

Jason: And then the other one is called LICEcap, L-I-C-E-C-A-P.

Andrew: Got it.

Jason: That’s the other one. It’s kind of a weird open source thing.

Andrew: Ah, there, and we can see it right there at the top of the screen how…

Jason: Yeah.

Andrew: …they’re creating it. Got it.

Jason: Yeah. It’s cool because you basically just draw a square around something on your screen that you want to share. Then, you record it just like you’d record video, but it’s saved to an animated GIF instead. It’s just nice because you can quickly pop that on any web page and someone can view it without having to hit play and that kind of stuff.

Andrew: I never heard of that. Alright. The big idea here is to not just show with text when someone’s not there to look over your shoulder, reproduce that over the shoulder feeling with a screen capture app.

Jason: If you can.

Andrew: All right. Let’s go onto the next big idea here. The next thing you say is to keep all important documents accessible. You guys use this program which you happen to also make. There it is. How do you keep it all organized? How do you know what to keep, and how do you keep it all organized?

Jason: For us there’s a lot of stuff that goes into making a project. We will often put the keepers in Basecamp, the stuff like the final work. Or, if we’re asking for review or we’re asking for feedback on work we’ll put that out there, but we’ll tag it as like request feedback, or requires feedback, or not final, or something like that.

Out of the potentially it could be a thousand documents of some sort, either files or images or whatever it might be that go into a project, we’ll typically just put the final ones there. Or, we’ll label them as for review or something like that.

Because I think if you have too many things going on in one place it’s hard to follow what’s important and what isn’t. Things get kind of pushed away and that sort of thing. You can star things. You can label things. But, still, it’s just I think better to keep it as tight as possible with only the things that really matter for everybody or for like final deliverables, that kind of stuff.

The key, though, is however you work, because everyone works differently… Some companies want to document every last thing. We don’t do that, but you can.

What’s important, though, is that everybody knows where everything is. They know that there is a place to go to find the latest version of something, or there is a place to go to find the PDF of something. It doesn’t matter what tool you use. There’s thousands of them out there. Well, that’s maybe an overstatement. Hundreds of them out there. But, whatever it is, use that tool and make sure that everybody knows where everything is so nothing falls through the cracks. That’s kind of the big deal behind this.

Andrew: So, Jason, this is something that we’ve done here at Mixergy. One of the challenges is that someone will have a great PDF up there that’s helpful. Then, we’ll need to update it but we don’t want to delete it. We’re not even sure if we should. So, we add a second one. Or, maybe we make a mistake…

Jason: Yeah.

Andrew: …and we add a second one that’s different. Keeping track of what’s most up to date, is that someone’s job? Or, is it something that everyone needs to have a process for doing? We’ve been having trouble with that.

Jason: It’s a challenging thing. One of the things is it depends on the type of thing. If it’s a text document, Google Docs is actually quite good at that.

Basecamp also, for example, has a text document feature which saves all the past revisions of every single revision for a document. You can go back; you can compare differences, that sort of thing. If it’s a spreadsheet, Google Docs is great for that. There’s some PDF stuff that has track changes and annotations and stuff.

It’s complicated. I think we’re sort of in a weird phase of the world right now where a lot of documents are stored locally. Some are stored in the Cloud. Some are able to be modified live. Some are not. We’re in this weird thing where everything’s shaking out right now, so I think there’s a lot of confusion.

Basecamp Classic, the first version of Basecamp, had file versions. We pulled that out of the new version because even though it’s logical to someone like you who might understand what a file version is, a lot of people don’t understand file versions and what would constitute a version, like maybe a small change shouldn’t be a new version.

It’s very complicated for a lot of people, so we just felt like the way that most people do it is they’ll post a message. They’ll maybe attach a file to that message. If there’s any future versions of that file, they’ll just post new comments below with the latest version of the file. That way you have a full history of all the different changes and you can see what changed and people can make notations about what changed along the way.

Andrew: Okay.

Jason: That’s kind of how we do it and how others do it. But, I imagine more sophisticated solutions will come out. The key is… Like, there’s a lot of great stuff. You can use GIT for this too and stuff. But average people working with GIT, it’s not going to happen. So there needs to be something simpler. At the same time, I imagine in a few years, you’ll be able to edit all these documents live anyway.

So it’s kind of like how much work do you put in the meantime where there’s sort of just this temporary time when things are a little bit weird. And things will get better in a few years. I don’t know. It’s kind of a messy problem.

Andrew: We have one process, for example, for editing this conversation down. Someone else could say, I have a better way, but I don’t want to delete what Andrew created. I’ll just create a new document. And then we end up with two. We haven’t found anything that works, but what we ended up doing is there’s someone here in the organization, AnneMarie, who’s just really organized.

She’ll go in and delete and just say it’s okay to delete because everything is saved somewhere anyway, so go for it. But I guess what you’re saying is, Andrew, we are 80 to 90% of the way there, don’t sweat the last 10%. Just keep going and the software will catch up with what you need.

Jason: I think you pull in 20 companies and you ask them how they do things, they’re all going to tell you slightly different ways. And it’s fine. As long as whatever you’re doing works for you, that’s fine. The key is making sure that everybody on the team understands how you do things.

So if AnneMarie is in charge of just organizing stuff, because that’s her forte and she’s excellent at it, everybody just needs to understand that AnneMarie’s going to make these calls.

Andrew: Mm-hmm. I see.

Jason: Everyone has to just know. Everyone’s got different systems. It’s funny. We’ve been doing a lot of customer calls with base camp customers. And it’s amazing to see every single person we talk to uses base camp completely differently. And it’s just kind of fascinating. And it’s, like, sometimes I’ll see the way they’re using it. There’s a much better way to do that, but I don’t say that.

Because it doesn’t matter if there’s a better way. For them, it works. They’re comfortable with their method and their process. So as long as they understand how to use it that way, it’s great for them. Who am I to say that you’re using it wrong? You’re not using it wrong. You’re using it right for you.

I think that’s how software is in general. A lot of people will use Photoshop in dozens of different ways. You might be, like, that’s how you sharpen that mask. That’s not how I do it. But it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter because as long as it works for you, it’s fine. The trick is when you’re working for an organization and a group of people. They all have to be on the same page about how you do things. Otherwise you’re going to have total chaos.

Andrew: Okay.

Jason: So I think that’s key. It’s more of a communication and cultural thing, more so than it is good software is going to save the day.

Andrew: Speaking of AnneMarie, for this next point, I asked her to find a visual and she found one that she wanted me to bring up to you. Let me bring up, the next point is to create a virtual water cooler. Did you post this? I couldn’t believe it. I said, let’s check to make sure.

Jason: Hasn’t loaded yet.

Andrew: Hadn’t loaded yet. Huh?

Jason: Did we post that? It looks like we did. Those are our people.

Andrew: And it looks like you personally, Jason F. Right?

Jason: That would be me.

Andrew: Okay.

Jason: Okay.

Andrew: I’m such an anal person sometimes, that if you even just relax and kid around me, I think you’re wasting my time and you’re wasting your own time. Let’s get down to business. And I look to you as the organized person who does not allow stray pixels on your website. Everything’s clean. And still you do this. Why is this such an important part of running a remote team?

Jason: I think it’s an important part of running any team. Human beings are meant to screw around here and there. We’re not meant to be buttoned-up for eight hours a day. It’s very frustrating. So we use our campfire chat room for all sorts of stuff that is crazy. We have separate rooms for these things too.

We have a room called All Pets where people throw silly pet pictures and animal pictures in one room. We have a room for comic book lovers. And they talk about comic books. We have a room for film nerds who talk about film and stuff like that. So I think this kind of stuff brings people closer together.

People bond over these things more than they bond over work. And I think if you want to build a strong team and a loyal team and a team that understands each other, these moments of letting off steam and just kind of goofing around and getting to know each other on a deeper level than just simply like the work that needs to be done is not only valuable, it’s critical.

So if you were to look at our campfire rooms, you would find a lot of, let’s just call, culture. You’d find a lot of things that make sense to us that are inside jokes, that are goofy, that on the outside would look like just screwing around in a bad way.

But for us, it’s like this is all who we are and we have fun with it. And we can do stupid stuff together because we know each other, and it just forms deeper bonds between people. So I have no problem with that all. I would rather that happen than not happen.

Andrew: Then I want to start to structure it too much, but I think what I need to understand and take away from this is, create a relaxed atmosphere, a place for people to post this stuff, that’s not directly related to work.

Jason: Let people be themselves. And I think, if you try and squeeze this kind of behavior out of your company, you’re going to create a scary place.

Andrew: But you’re almost saying, Andrew, squeeze it in.

Jason: Yeah.

Andrew: Because it belongs in. Even if it doesn’t naturally happen, using the tools that you have, create a tool that would allow it to naturally happen, right?

Jason: Give people some permission. And this is you, leader of the company, give people some permission to screw around a little bit. If they’re afraid of doing that, that’s not going to be good. You don’t want repressed people working for you. [laughs] It’s going to affect the work itself. So, give people an excuse to goof around here and there, and I think everything will turn out better. Even the work itself.

Andrew: All right. That’s something I’m going to come back to in the final point. But, let’s continue here. Next big idea that I pulled out of the book, out of Remote, is, “Create weekly check-ins.” I was trying to find a good image. I just copied one out of the book. You guys always have great images in there.

Weekly check-ins. I used to do that at my last company. And then, we all would sit around. And the first session was great. We had stuff to talk about. We were excited that we were all talking together. Then the next week, it was a little bit less exciting, more work. And then, by the 10th week, we were done. We were just sitting and going through the motions.

What happens in these weekly check-ins to keep people engaged and to keep them useful?

Jason: Well, they’re not in person. So, I think, sometimes when you do them in person, you have to come up with things to keep people busy.

Andrew: Mm-hmm.

Jason: And then, you end up either doing busywork or like you said, there’s nothing really to talk about. So what we do is every week or roughly every week, it’s not always every week, but we have whoever’s leading a project, write what we just call our, “Heartbeat,” a lot of companies call it something else.

Andrew: Mm-hmm.

Jason: Check-ins, dailies, whatever, we call it a Heartbeat. And it’s basically a summary of what’s been happening since the last Heartbeat, and what we’re planning on working on next. And we post that to Basecamp. And it goes out to the whole company.

So every project that we’re working on, everybody in the company gets the Heartbeat. So they have a sense of what’s going on. But they can read it on their own terms, and we’re not pulling everyone into a room, and feeling like we’re forced to talk about something.

Andrew: So it’s asynchronous? It’s not . . .

Jason: Correct.

Andrew: . . . all even in the same Skype chat at the same time?

Jason: Nope.

Andrew: It’s . . .

Jason: A-sync. A-sync, although sometimes, groups in the company, like, the programmers or the designers or Ops or support, will use Google Hangouts or something, and they’ll all come together every couple of weeks and just mess around for an hour talking about stuff, like ideas or wherever it might be.

So that does happen, but that’s not on a regular, automated basis. It’s, like, “Hey, it’s been too long. Let’s do this.” But the Heartbeats are becoming more and more automated. And they’re just write-ups. Sometimes, they have video, if we’re talking, like, earlier. Sometimes, they’re a screen cast, sometimes it’s just text, sometimes there’s screenshots.

Andrew: So it’s an update on what they’ve been working on over the last week, related to the project that they’re discussing?

Jason: Yes. That’s it.

Andrew: And is there . . .

Jason: Sometimes . . .

Andrew: . . . a goal?

Jason: . . . I’ll do . . . I’m sorry?

Andrew: Do you also set goals one week and then come back the following week, to not just do an update, but to match it up against the goal you set the previous week?

Jason: That’s up to each Project Manager, Project Leader to decide how they want to run their projects. Some of the goals, the scales are different for some of the goals. One of the projects that’s been going on for a long time, is we’re opening a second data center. So we have full geographic redundancy. And that’s a long-term project. And it’s not about weekly goals, as much as it is monthly goals.

But then, there’s other projects that are definitely evaluated on a weekly basis. It just depends. We try not to have too many rules, other than, use your best judgment about what you need to convey to the rest of the company, so people understand what’s going on in the company, what projects are happening. Also, every Monday, we have a product called, “Know Your Company,” and every Monday, everybody in the company’s asked to simply write up what is it they’ve been working on.

Andrew: Mm-hmm.

Jason: And it’s just one text field. And they write that up, and that goes out to everybody in the company, as well. So Project Leaders will write up the Heartbeat of the overall project. And then, each individual person on Monday will write up what they have been working on. And that could be a bullet point, it can be one, it could be three bullets, it could be a whole paragraph. It could be a short story. It doesn’t matter.

Sometimes, mine are just three or four things. They can be really general. So, it could be strategy thinking and interviewing candidates for the design job. And some people are really specific about how they detail the work that they’re doing.

The point is, is that I think you just got to let people be who they are. And forcing too many layers of, “You must work this way,” on people, I think, it’s just not really . . . this is a weird way to think about it. But it’s more, like, federalism. The U. S. system, you have federal government, but then you have all these individual states. And the idea behind federalism, and the individual states is that each state gets to run slightly different experiments.

One state might deal with education this way, another state might deal with healthcare this way or another state might deal with insurance requirements this way. And the idea behind it was that when you have a lot of experiments going on, you’re going to learn more. And certain things are going to bubble up and become the way other people do things. And certain things aren’t going to work as well, and you can adopt someone else’s idea.

And so, I like the idea of running the company in that way, in federalism style, where, I haven’t really talked about this before, maybe I’ll write this up, but where people are free to experiment with how they want to tell their own stories, and how they want to share their own work.

And what’s cool about that is that different people will come up with different ways of sharing work. And someone will be inspired by the way someone else did something. If we prevented people from having unique ways of presenting their own work, then we’d all be doing the same thing all the time. And we wouldn’t have a chance to grow, and new ideas wouldn’t come up.

So I really like the idea of not having too much structure. The only structure is, like, “Hey, keep people updated on what’s going on. How you do that is up to you.” But the regularity is what we’re more interested in. And the reminder that it’s important to keep everyone updated is what’s important.

Andrew: Gotcha. This is it, right? The “Know Your Company” product?

Jason: Yes.

Andrew: And it’s still not public, right?

Jason: No . . .

Andrew: It’s . . .

Jason: . . . it is.

Andrew: Oh, it is?

Jason: Yeah. It’s actually something that we’ve spun off into a separate company now.

Andrew: Okay.

Jason: But it’s a very different story. It’d be fun to talk about this some other time, but so, Claire Lew now runs the product. Separate company, now.

Andrew: Saw that.

Jason: We own a piece of it. But the idea behind that site, was that it was actually a letter. We didn’t show any screen shots, it was all about, “Who are the companies that are really motivated to use this thing? And then, we’ll give them a personal tour.” And anyway, that’s a whole other thing.

Andrew: Okay.

Jason: Yeah.

Andrew: I love the post that you did about how you’re doing that. That you want to talk to them, you want to see them, you want to hear them.

Jason: Yeah.

Andrew: Alright. Onto the next one, which, almost shouldn’t be on here, but I’m embarrassed to say, well, first let me read it. It says, “Judge people based on what actually matters.” I’m almost embarrassed to say that when I work remotely, that naturally happens to me. Now that I have someone who’s working here in the office, I mentioned Ann Marie, I find myself judging myself, and thinking that she’s going to judge me based on how much time I’m here, based on what I show. It almost feels like, when you are working remotely, and there’s nothing else to judge you, based on no face time, etcetera. That’s more natural.

Jason: Yeah. Hey, I was going to say, “Loosen your tie,” but you don’t have one on. I mean . . .

Andrew: I put on a nice shirt and jacket for you.

Jason Fried: Well, I mean, it sounds like you’re kind of uptight about some of this stuff. And you don’t need to worry so much. And you don’t need to control so much. And, yeah. Just don’t worry about that so much. I think, what people want to see, I don’t think other people are thinking about how you spend every minute of your day, and exactly what you’re doing. What they want to see is what are you producing. What are you working on? What are you making? How are you pushing the company forward? How are you making progress together? That’s the kind of stuff.

And that stuff is not directly tied to, “I was here for an extra 25 minutes or an extra hour,” or “I got here at 9:00 a.m., and you got here at 9:30.” It’s not about that stuff. It’s about the actual work and the output and the thinking and the creativity that you bring to the company. And that stuff’s not measured in time, in my opinion. It’s measured in output and “What’d you produce?” And so, I think that’s what people want to see from one another. That’s what inspires them.

I mean, work ethic can inspire, as well. But just being somewhere is not work. Just showing up and being there for eight hours, doesn’t mean you’re working for eight hours. That sort of thing.

Andrew: I think the first time that we spoke, years ago, you threw this “remote work, work on your own time” idea out there in the world, and people all battled it. And my question to you, at the time, was “What if people start to procrastinate when they’re sitting at their desk?”

I remember the example, even, specifically, was, “So Jason, what if someone sits down to do the work that you hired them to do, and then they go out for tea? And then, they make another cup of tea, to avoid work. But they are thinking that they’re doing something important? And they have to go the bathroom, and then they have to come back.”

And since then, what I’ve realized is that hasn’t been an issue. People aren’t shirking work. What is more of an issue is what we’re going to talk about in a moment, which is overwork. And I’m wondering, is that just lucky for me that I ended up working with people who like to work a lot or is there something that you can do to encourage and foster this environment of caring so much that people are involved?

Jason: I think people blow stuff off when they don’t want to do it. And they’re looking for excuses when they don’t want to do it. And a lot of people are procrastinators naturally, I am, as well. But all the stuff you explained, like, “Well, I want to avoid work, I want to go make some more tea,” or “I want to go to the bath.” All these things, it’s just probably because they’re not enjoying the work itself. And the work itself isn’t motivating.

And look, not every day are you going to be doing something that’s just totally amazing and blowing you away. So there are going to be lows in creativity and the work that you do is not the highest level all the time. You’re not always working on the most interesting problems. But, on balance you want to make sure that the work that people are doing is interesting enough that they want to do it.

I believe people want to work. People want to make things. People want to contribute, and they want to create. I think it’s a human thing. If they’re given interesting things to do I think they’re going to prefer to do that than prefer to blow it off. But, if you’re not giving them interesting work to do and there’s nothing stimulating about it then they’re going to find something else that’s more stimulating, and that might mean just walking around the office, or making some tea, or whatever it might be.

It all, to me, comes down to the work itself. That’s what ultimately we have to motivate people. If the work doesn’t do it you’re going to have to come up with a bunch of artificial motivators, and those aren’t going to last. Those are going to dry out, too, and you have to come up with more and more fake artificial things. That’s not going to lead you anywhere.

Andrew: You know what? I have found that exact thing to be true. I’ve now worked with enough people that if there’s one thing that I can see that someone doesn’t love, and they’re procrastinating, I almost realize that if they’re not producing it fast it’s because they don’t love it, and they’re procrastinating, and they’re going through their own little hell…

Jason: Yeah.

Andrew: …that spiral of feeling guilty for not doing it, and then not doing it because you feel guilty, and then feeling more guilty. So, at that point I try to reach out and say you know what, if this isn’t your thing I can find someone else to do it and it’ll be perfectly fine. People when they hear that feel really a sense of relief.

Jason: I think if you do that people will respect you, too. Because they know that you’re paying attention and that you’re being a human being. You’re like hey, you know what, maybe this isn’t… It’s not that you’re bad. It’s just like this work, I get it, maybe it’s not for you. That’s totally [Inaudible 0:01:39]. We’ll find something else for you to do that’s more for you.

I think people appreciate that, too, that they know that you’re watching and that you care. Otherwise, it’d just be like hey, do this work. I don’t care if you like it or not. Like, I’m going to crack the whip. Who wants to work for someone like that?

Andrew: It’s a different mindset, though. It’s a mindset of understanding that there are good people that do want to do good work as opposed to feeling why doesn’t anyone work as hard as me, why doesn’t anyone care about my thing. Once you shift that mindset I think it becomes a lot easier to accept this person isn’t crazy about it, let’s see if we can find something else.

Jason: I think so, too.

Andrew: All right. Final point: beware of overwork. Last night I had some Mixergy interviewees over at my place for scotch to, like, whiskey tasting. We had five different whiskeys we tasted. It was great. I wish you were in the area to try it.

Jason: Where do you live? Where are you now, by the way?

Andrew: Yeah, when we first talked I think I was in LA, then Argentina, then DC. Today I’m in San Francisco and, hopefully, going to establish a family here and live here forever.

Jason: Got you. Cool.

Andrew: Yes. There are so many things to do here for work after hours. I stayed up late at my place with the scotch. Then, I got up this morning and ran into work and was here at 9:00 showing up for a conference call. I think I’m overworking myself.

Now, you give… Here’s something that you guys do. You’ve done this now for a while. This is from March 2008. Do you still run workplace experiments and specifically shorten up weeks some part of the year?

Jason: Yeah, we do. From May through October we just do four day workweeks. That doesn’t mean compressing the other four days into, like, ten hour days. It means actually a shorter workweek maybe. We don’t count hours, but let’s just call it 32 hours instead of 40, that sort of thing. We do that in the summer.

Andrew: Okay.

Jason: Yeah.

Andrew: What about, then, the rest of the time? Because the rest of the year we’re still all working normal hours. Even, frankly, as you said, it’s easy to start to compress more into the days that you’re working in the summer if you’re working fewer days. What do you do to help people not get sucked into the work?

Jason: What’s sometimes hard about remote working is that people end up doing more work because they’re so close to the environment where they do the work. So, people work from home, sometimes it’s hard to close at 5:00 or 6:00, because they basically just move rooms in their house. Compared to if you work in an office, you leave the office and it’s easier to leave work behind. It’s harder to leave work behind when it’s in the same place that you are doing the work and where you live.

Sometimes you have to just spot over work. It’s subtle, though. Because one thing you’ll notice is sometimes some people’s tone will change. Sometimes people are like we’re very, very friendly and accommodating and cool, and then all of a sudden they’ll get a little bit passive-aggressive.

This has happened to me in the past. I’ve always noticed that it’s [Inaudible 0:04:35] I’m busy. Like, I’m overworked when I’m acting this way and my tone changes. So, you can spot that either in a Basecamp message, or Campfire, or email, or whatever you use. You might spot someone who used to give really thoughtful, long answers is now all of the sudden getting really short, short answers – like yes, no, that kind of stuff.

Andrew: Yeah.

Jason: You’re like something’s up there. Let me just talk to them and see what’s up. Almost always it’s overworked, frustrated, I don’t have the patience to be patient anymore.” And then you’re, like, “Okay, man. You should take a couple days off. Just take a few days.” Or in some cases, we said, “Take a sabbatical. Go away for 30 days. Just get out of here for a while. Leave . . .

Andrew: And your company can still run, Jason, when you have someone take off for a couple of days or 30 days?

Jason: Yeah, for sure. Everybody who works here, I think, I’m trying to remember the exact rule. But I think it’s if you worked here for three years, might be four, three or four years, I think it’s three though, you get 30 day paid sabbatical. And so, we just work that into our schedules on our calendar, and we know someone’s going to be gone. And other people fill in. And then, that’s just the way it is. Now . . .

Andrew: What happens if your co-founder David needs to take a month or two off?

Jason: We’re the same way. That’s just the way it is. If we need a sabbatical, then we need it. Just like if someone else needs it, they need it. And we manage. It might be different for you, because you’re doing these interviews. And maybe you’re so attached to the interviews, that you couldn’t have someone else do those interviews.

And that would be difficult for you, to have someone else fill in or for you to take a month off. But I’ll tell you what, if you took a month off, your business would not go out of business. You just wouldn’t do interviews for a month. And you’d survive. Things would be okay. People would understand. Of course, you’re . . .

Andrew: People would be devastated and destroyed. They would be burning themselves in the street, are you kidding me?

Jason: [laughs] You’re right.

Andrew: [laughs]

Jason: So I think, in most cases, people will pick up. Good organizations are flexible. And I think they can fill in the gaps if there’s a crack in their organization or if someone takes off. They’ll fill in the gaps, and they’ll be fine until that person comes back. That’s, I think, just a healthy sign of an organization.

If one person leaves and the s*** hits the fan, your “hit by a bus,” factor is too high and that’s a sign that you’re spread too thin or there aren’t enough people doing the right things or you don’t have a framework in place to handle this sort of stuff. So, I think it’s just a sign that your organization needs to be more flexible if you can’t handle someone being gone for a couple days.

Andrew: All right. We’re getting better and better at that.

Jason: Mm-hmm.

Andrew: And I do plan to take a month off and record . . .

Jason: It’s hard.

Andrew: . . . programs ahead of time.

Jason: By the way, in last August, I took about ten days off, two weeks off, which is the first time I’ve taken two weeks off in maybe, ten years. So I take a lot of short weekend-style vacations, three or four day things. But it had been, I think, about ten years since I actually took a full, two week vacation. And you know what? For a long time before that, I’m, like, “The company can’t afford me to do that.” But that’s an egotistical way of thinking about things.

Yeah, you know the company can survive just fine without me here for a couple of weeks or even a month or more. I’m sure it could. It would have to. If I was building a good company, it should be able to survive without me here. And I took two weeks off, and everything was great. And in fact, I came back with renewed perspective and a renewed point of purpose. And I felt better about things, and we made this big change where we renamed the company and the whole thing.

That all stemmed from taking some time away. That gave me some new perspective. And that’s very valuable for me. Actually, taking a vacation made the company better in the long run. And, so I think that’s the other way you have to look at it sometimes.

Andrew: The change, of course, from 37signals, is the company name, to Basecamp, and the focus on this Basecamp Project Management Software that we talked about earlier . . .

Jason: Yeah.

Andrew: . . . for the company.

Jason: Yeah.

Andrew: By the way, I asked my researcher, can you find pictures of Jason on vacation? And we found Jason Fried on Instagram, all these great pictures, people with their shirts off partying.

Jason: [laughs]

Andrew: And I said, “That cannot be Jason.”

Jason: No.

Andrew: And I zoomed in, it was not you.

Jason: No.

Andrew: You’re not . . .

Jason: First of all, I don’t send any pictures of my personal life outside of, so that’s one thing. I don’t have an Instagram account. But, yeah. I’m not a big vacation guy.

Andrew: I figured.

Jason: There might be a few pictures of me on a tractor, because I have a farm. And I do that sometimes. But that might exist.

Andrew: What happened to my researcher? We should’ve found him on a tractor. Final question is this, these sections came out of our conversations with the Mixergy audience, and frankly, as you can see, we’re running an organization here, too. And we need a lot of this, ourselves, and so we picked what would work for us. Is there anything that I missed from this, that you wish we would’ve included or that you wish more people knew about from the book, “Remote,” and the concept behind it?

Jason: I think that two things I would say that are especially important about the idea of remote working, I’ll talk about one from the employer perspective, and one from the employee perspective. From the employer perspective, you get a chance to hire the best people in the world. You get exposed to more and more talented people because they’re not all around the corner. They’re not all in one physical location.

There are great people all over the place and when you permit yourself to hire anybody, anywhere, you’re just increasing the talent pool available to you. What business wouldn’t want to have access to more talented people? That’s one of the great things about allowing your company to hire remotely. From the employee point of view, you have the opportunity to work in more places for more companies. You can live anywhere you want.

We have some people who live in small rural areas who could never have a software job because there are no software jobs around where they live. They couldn’t actually live there, so they’d have to go live somewhere else. They don’t want to live somewhere else. They want to live on a farm.

Andrew: Hmm.

Jason: They want to live in a small town. They grew up in a small town. They want to live near their parents. Whatever it is, it doesn’t matter to me, but they get to live anywhere and they can still have a great job with a great company and that’s meaningful to me as a person who provides those jobs but it’s really meaningful to that employee who gets to not only live in a place where they want to live but work for a company they want to work for and have it all, which I think is just awesome.

It’s also great because, from both perspectives now, we’ve had an employee, Kristin. She runs our support group. She started off working here in Chicago. She’s awesome. She moved to Portland, Oregon. She didn’t lose her job and we didn’t lose her. That would’ve been a terrible outcome for her to say, ‘I want to move to Portland,’ which would mean that we would have to lose one of our best employees and she would have to quit a job that she really liked. But, instead, we said, ‘Go ahead. Move to Portland. That’s cool. We still get to work with you, you still get to work with us.

Everything’s worked out great. It’s just about respect and treating people fairly and understanding that people’s lives don’t revolve around their job. If you make people move for a job, that’s saying that their life revolves around the job, that the job is the most important part of their life and I don’t feel like that has to be the case. I think there are a lot of great things on just a pure human level and a respect level that companies can benefit from hiring remote workers and employees can benefit from working for companies who allow them to work from anywhere.

Andrew: Mrs. Hearn [SP]?

Jason: That’s her.

Andrew: That’s her.

Jason: Yep. That’s Kristin.

Andrew: Alright. I think there was a time where we limited our customer base to whoever happened to be close enough to our location and then we realized how ridiculous that was and, through the internet, we were able to reach out, not just outside of our location, but outside of our state and country and so on. I’d like the same thing to happen for workers, for co- workers, for employees, and so on. It’s not as easy. It takes some time.

I appreciate you talking here about how to do it and not making it sound like, “Oh, it’s a snap. Just go do it.” It’s a process. There are things that you’ve learned . . .

Jason: Yes.

Andrew: . . . and we get to learn from you.

Jason: Let me just say something about that, too, real quick. This is not easy for companies who are not used to it. We sort of grew up as a company this way and so we understand it really well, but it is not easy. It’s a big change. You’re probably going to hit some stumbling blocks. You’re going to be like, “This isn’t working.” It’s hard. You’ve got to practice this stuff, just like anything you want to get good at, you have to practice, so you have to keep trying it.

There’s some really good information in the book on how to do that. It’s all about small steps. Just take it one thing at a time and you’ll find out if it’s right for you, but you’ve got to give it a chance and you’ve got to give it a chance to go wrong a few times, too. It has to have the room for you to adjust and get used to it, but I believe it’s absolutely worth exploring and trying and I think your company and your employees will be better off for it.

Andrew: Alright. We just pulled out, as I said earlier, a few ideas from the book that we thought would be most relevant to the Mixergy audience and to you, the person who is listening to us right now. The book is Test Remote, the company now is called Base Camp. There it is, getting great reviews on Amazon and other places. Thank you so much, Jason, for doing this.

Jason: My pleasure. It’s always fun to talk with you.

Andrew: Thanks. Same here. Thank you all for being a part of it. Bye, everyone.

DOWNLOAD TRANSCRIPT

Master Class:
How to create habit-forming products
(So your customers will be addicted)
Taught by Nir Eyal of Hooked

Master Class: Habit-Forming Products


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Course Cheat Sheet

Message from Nir Eyal:

On March 25th at Stanford University, a gathering of experts, entrepreneurs, and industry insiders will share their hard-won insights on how to build habit-forming products.

We’ll hear from best-selling authors like Gretchen Rubin (The Happiness Project) and Gary Taubes (Why We Get Fat). Technology innovators like Josh Elman (formerly of Twitter and Facebook) and Jeff Atwood (co-founder of Stack Overflow) will also be speaking, and a number of VCs, investors, product leads and other phenomenal speakers are also on the roster.

As a member of the Mixergy community, you are eligible for a $50 discount by using code “Mixergy50” at registration. More information about the summit is available here: HabitSummit.com, and you can register at: https://habitsummit.eventbrite.com/?discount=Mixergy50

See you there!



Transcript

Andrew: This session is about how to form habit-forming products, how to create habit-forming products. And the session is led by that man over there, Nir Eyal. He’s the author of “Hooked”, the book on how to form habit- forming products. Nir Eyal is also the creator of Habit Summit, a gathering of people who share information about how to form personal habits and form technology habits. And if you go over to the website, habitsummit.com, you can see all these great speakers who will be at the event.My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy. I’ll help facilitate. And Nir, thanks for teaching us.Nir: Thank you so much for letting me be here, Andrew. It’s a pleasure.Andrew: You bet. Nir, the problem that you’re trying to solve is one that …. Let me bring up this gentleman right here. This is Bobby. Am I pronouncing his last name right, Gruenewald?

Nir: Gruenewald.

Andrew: Gruenewald. Oh, okay. So Bobby Gruenewald had an issue. What is that he … What app did he create?

Nir: Well he created the world’s largest Bible reading app. There’s many versions of the Bible online in the app store. And Bobby’s app not only was one of the first Bible apps. In fact, he started the company as a website. But his challenge was he wanted to help people do something they wanted to do anyway which was read the Bible daily, to make a habit out of the Bible. And what he found was is that people were having a very difficult time making a habit out of reading the Bible. It’s something they wanted to do with all their best intentions but had a lot of trouble making it into a habit.

Andrew. Okay. And because he followed this process that you’re going to be describing to us, what happened with this Bible app that he created?

Nir: Yes. Well to correct slightly, he didn’t actually follow this process because it didn’t exist. But his ….

Andrew: I’m not saying he followed because you to him it. But what I’m understanding from reading your book is you analyzed the process that Instagram went through, that Pinterest used, that even Coca-Cola, to some degree, used. And you said, “Here. I’m not inventing something brand new that never existed before” and telling the world, “Try it.” You’re noticing what’s working and making sense of it and giving us a framework so that we can use it. Am I right?

Nir: That’s exactly right.

Andrew: Okay. So now, because he did this, what happened to him with this Bible app? I tend not to think of Bible apps as being tremendously successful except that maybe some people who are into the Bible like it. So what happened to him from a business perspective?

Nir: Yes. So his app is one of the most successful apps in the world in fact. He has over 100 million downloads of the Bible. It’s not really a business. He doesn’t intend to make money from it. It’s owned by a church. And his app is touching hundreds of millions of people’s lives and the engagement is tremendous. And he’s really been successful in helping people do something they wanted to do anyway which in his case, was read the Bible.

Andrew. Alright. And that’s exactly what I want for us. Not necessarily to read the Bible, but if you want it, of course, go on and read the Bible. But my goal for this audience is to say, “What did Bobby do? What did all of these companies do that we can do to make our stuff more habit-forming, more engaging, more repetitive?”

And so, I did my best to pull some of the ideas from your book that we can share with our audience here and give them the process. And here’s one of the first things that you say, “Create an external trigger.” And I mentioned earlier Coca-Cola. I think this was going to be one of the only offline companies that we’ll talk about here in this session. But I want to understand, how is this an external trigger that we should learn from?

Nir: Yes. So external triggers, by definition, are things that give the user information for what to do next where the information itself is contained in the trigger. So in this case, we can learn from Coca-Cola when we ask ourselves, “How is the coke machine telling the user what to do next?” Well, there’s a few things. If you look carefully, it says, “Thirsty” there on the machine. And of course, people have certain associations with the Coke brand. But if you look even a little closer, you’ll see that in that picture there on the top right of the machine, there’s actually a picture of a person giving you a coke, right? That man is handing you a coke.

So it’s pretty explicit there what the next action that the user should take. So external triggers are all around us. There all these things in our environment that give the user information for what to do next. So calls to action on a website, click here, down load now, buy this, all these queue to do the next intended action. Even things in the physical world like a police officer directing traffic or you friend giving you a piece of advice about great new app that they’ve downloaded. All these these things are examples of external triggers.

Andrew: Give me another example of an Internet company. How about Mint.com as a company that you’ve looked at? What does Mint.com do to create an external trigger that we can learn?

Nir: Sure. So some things that they do is to send notifications so that when you have certain things occurring in your account, when they need to tell you something has happened and they want you back to the app, they’ll send you notifications. We receive them all the time on our phones. We get these little notifications that either push information to us or through a little jewel icon tell us we need to re-engage.

Andrew: Okay. Let me speak to the audience right now and say, guys, I know we’re not blowing your minds yet. The problem though I see it in here. You correct if I’m wrong. The problem is that most of us do that, but then we stop right there. We have the external action that’s the external trigger that says come to my site. Maybe, it’s an ad. Maybe, it’s email. Maybe, it’s something else. And then we maybe stop, but what you’re going to do is show us how that can be the beginning of a cycle that creates a habit. Am I right?

Nir: That’s exactly right. And so what I want to kind of tease the audience with is that we’re going to show you how to get to the promised land of what I call an internal trigger, an association with… a trigger that queues action just as reliably as that call to action, as that click here now button. However, the difference with an internal trigger is that the information for what’s due next is stored as an association in the user’s mind.

Andrew: Okay.

Nir: And that’s the promised land. To form a habit, we want to figure out how we can create those associations, and that’s what we’re going to do through successive cycles, through what I call the hook model.

Andrew: Okay. I intentionally picked Coca-Cola in the beginning to show that this doesn’t just apply to apps on phones and doesn’t just apply to web apps and software. Does it also apply beyond and maybe this is something we can answer and show examples of later on in this session. But does it apply to blogs? Does it apply to furniture? Does it apply to other things or are we just talking about ideas that can be narrowly focused on software?

Nir: Yes. So things that have repeat engagement, what I call unprompted user engagement. By that I mean users picking up a product and engaging with that product without a lot of conscious thought. That’s really the definition of habit, behaviors with little or no conscious thought. And we should say as kind of a disclaimer here, not every product needs habits.

There are plenty of businesses out there that do wonderful work that are very profitable that don’t need habits. However, when we look at kind of these companies that epitomize habit-forming technology, the usual suspects of Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and Pinterest and Snapshot. These companies that profoundly change people’s day to day behaviors, those companies’ business models can’t survive without habits.

Andrew: Okay. Okay. Alright. Let’s go on, speaking of the social media companies, let’s take a look at the next big idea, which is we’ve created the external trigger. Now we want to get the user to take action. You mentioned Twitter so I’m going to bring up another screen shot that I just copied shamelessly right out of your book. But I think it’s important. Tell me about this. How is this now an external… What is Twitter doing here that we should learn from?

Nir: Sure. The intended action here for Twitter, in this case, is to have people tweet the article. So in this case if I’m on the Wall Street Journal’s All Things D and I decide to share a piece of content, by making that Twitter button so easy to use and that all I have to do is push the button. It’s pre-loaded a piece of text here for me. They’ve made the action very, very simple.

So that’s really the basis of the principle of the action phase of the hook model, which is what’s the simplest behavior that you can take in anticipation of reward. How can we design an experience for the user that is as simple as possible for them to do?

Andrew: That’s why you’re showing the pre-populated tweet. It’s not just make it easy for people to tweet, it’s we’re going to make it so simple that we’ve even pre-populated it. Can you give me a few other examples? What else is an action that we can learn from here and see what you’re talking about?

Nir: Sure. So another example might be every time I want to take a picture with my iPhone, they’ve done something very nice where they know that people take pictures with their phone quite frequently. And so they put that little icon of the camera right on the home screen so that with a quick flip I can use the phone’s native camera.

Andrew: Okay. Do you have another one of maybe a smaller company, something a little less intimidating than Twitter and Apple, multi-billion dollar brands?

Nir: So I think there’s, let’s see, I like to look at the companies that are well known brands. But I think that these companies that can make that action as easy as possible and the principle here that I want to impart is that when you think about the history of innovation, really it’s all about just contracting the space between the need, the recognized need and the reward.

And that’s what the action phase is all about. How do you squeeze that space between the recognition of the need and achieving that reward? So I do care if it’s the cotton gin or the iPhone, the action phase across the board, is all about decreasing the time it takes or the effort it takes to do a particular behavior.

Andrew: I see. Actually, I remember talking to the founder of Optimizely who told me that one of the first that they did was that worked really was they put on the homepage just a box where you could put in your URL. And as soon as enter your URL and hit submit, you could automatically start messing around with the site and create a AB test.

So that’s what you’re telling me to do. Is that just in there for the first action that the user takes? Or are we talking about every interaction with them needs to be about reducing the work that they do? Because it seems what you’re about say is, “Increase work.”

Nir: There’s a sacred cow of interaction design which says that everything has to be easy. And I believe that in a certain phase of the hook model, before the reward is achieved, that’s actually true. So in anticipation of the reward, we need to make the behavior as easy to do as possible. And I’m borrowing here from the work of B.J. Fogg [SP] who has this behavior model of B equals MAT. That for any given behavior, we need sufficient motivation, we need the behavior to be easy enough to do, sufficient ability, and a trigger must be present.

So before the reward, it’s all about simplicity of the behavior and boosting motivation. Now, we’ll get to it in a little bit, because I see the lineup of questions you have there. What we’re going to find is that, actually, the right time and place to ask the user to do a little bit of work is after the reward. It’s after the user’s itch has been scratched. That’s when we want to ask the user to, actually, invest in the product.

Andrew: Okay. Let’s get into that. But for now, what you’re saying is, make it very clear for them to understand what action you’re asking them to take. You talked about the button and the emails that mint.com sends out, the thirsty, and the mention of a coke in the coke vending machine. So you want to be very clear about what action you want them to take. Then you want to make it very easy for them to take that first action. You’re also saying, give them a …. Actually, let’s move on then to the next point.

Nir: Before we go on, it might be helpful to think about this principle of, how can make that behavior simpler? Simple in this big world, but how do you do that? What does it actually take? And so Fogg gives these six factors of ability that is useful for designers to consider which are how much time something takes?

Andrew: Tell me more, because I know you’ve got this in the book. How much time?

Nir: How much time something takes. So the more time something takes, the less likely it is for that behavior to occur. How much physical is required? If something is physically very difficult to do, it becomes less likely to happen. How much money something costs is another factor that reduces the likelihood of a behavior. And then there’s some less factors of ability. For example, cognitive load. This is a big one in technology.

So it turns out that the more difficult something is to understand, the less likely it is for that behavior to occur. So simply making something easier to understand will increase the likelihood of that behavior occurring. Then we have social deviance. So if I see people like me doing a behavior, I become more likely to do it myself. And then finally, and perhaps most importantly in my opinion at least, is non-routine.

So it turns out that the more familiar a behavior is, the easier it becomes. And this isn’t rocket science, this principle is called, practice. The more we practice a behavior, the more familiar it becomes to us, it literally becomes easier to do and the user becomes more likely to do it. So what this means is that many times novelty is a liability. And technical people hate when I say that, right? Because isn’t technology all about the new thing and these amazing abilities that we can give users to do all this fancy stuff.

But it turns out if the behavior is too different, too weird, too outside the norm, it actually makes it less likely the behavior will occur. So we want to look for ways to prompt that action through interfaces that are familiar to the user as much as possible. Because, again, non-routine decreases the likelihood of a behavior occurring if it’s unfamiliar.

Andrew: Okay. On to the next big point. I almost gave this away and gave it away poorly actually. Because this is counterintuitive. The next point is to give them a variable reward. I was about to say, create an external trigger, ask them to take action, and then give them a reward. But you’re saying, no, a variable reward. What’s the difference between a reward for taking action and giving them a variable reward?

Nir: Yeah. It turns out that with habit-forming technologies to change the habit, this becomes less important over time once the habit is formed, but to change a habit it turns out these habit-forming technologies entice us with some kind of variability.

Andrew: Mm-hmm.

Nir: If you look back at your notes from college if you took Psych 101, you may remember the work of B. F. Skinner and B. F. Skinner, the father of operating conditioning did these studies where he took pigeons and he put them in what today is known as a Skinner Box and originally he gave them a predictive reward. They would click the lever and a food pellet would come out. And what he found was that they would click so many times based on when they were hungry.

But them Skinner did something a little different. He introduced variability, an intermittent reward. The pigeon would click the lever, and nothing would come out. And then the pigeon would click the lever again, and hey something would come out. And it turns out that what worked for pigeons and other lab animals actually works for people, that we find that a bit of mystery, that variability, that bit of guesswork, about what’s going to happen actually increases our focus, increases our engagement, and actually can be a driver for new habits.

Andrew: Okay. So let’s take a look at how that’s done online. How is – let me see if I can zoom in. Core likes to keep their columns really tight. This is a Core search for Mixergy. What are they doing to use this idea that you’re pointing out, the variable reward?

Nir: Yeah. So there’s a few things going on here and maybe it would be kind of useful to give the broader framework around variable rewards that we see in different products we use. I look at variable rewards in just three types when it comes to products.

Andrew: Mm-hmm.

Nir: We have rewards of the Tribe, rewards of the Hunt, and rewards of the self. Now rewards of the Tribe are all about social reinforcers. So things that feel good, that have an element of mystery, that have an element of variability and come from other people. So when you think about social media at large, there’s a tremendous amount of variability associated with social networking.

Now I use Facebook. What am I going to find? What have people posted? How many people will like it? What will the comments be? A whole lot of variability with what I might find every time I log into Facebook.

Andrew: Mm-hmm.

Nir: And so that’s also occurring with [??] or Stack Overflow. Several Q&A sites use this element of rewards of the [??].

Andrew: As I scroll through here some of these articles will be interesting. Some of them will be useless to me and boring, and you’re telling me that the reward of finding the good one is only valuable or more valuable if there’s a couple of clunkers in there.

Nir: It increases our focus. It increases our engagement exactly when we have that variability. It doesn’t means that we should make things more difficult because if the user doesn’t find that reward interesting, if scrolling through those pages isn’t fun, then we’ve missed the point.

Andrew: Okay.

Nir: So may we want to use a different reward type. For example, rewards of the Hunt are all about the search for material possessions. So rewards of the Hunt stem from our primal search for food and resources. In the wild, of course, these things have a variable component. There’s a lot of variability to that hunt that our ancestors did 200,000 years ago when our species first emerged.

And we see that today translated into rewards that are around money. We don’t hunt for our food anymore. We buy it with money. So money is a currency many times that’s used to keep us engaged. So when many people think of variable rewards, they think of Las Vegas where gambling, of course, uses this currency of monetary rewards to keep us playing, keep us engaged.

And so what we find translated into the online environment is that information rewards is hunt for information as you described in the feed type of environment. It’s very similar so that the slot machine experience is very similar to this scrolling experience, of scrolling and scrolling and searching for that next reward.

Andrew: I see. What about the difference then between this and Maholo which created a Question & Answer site much like Core which we’re looking at right here, and Stack Overflow which did very well. Maholo created the same thing except they said, “You know what? These points are good, but let’s all let people make money if they give the right answer, they deserve to get some money for it. What’s the difference there?

Nir: So there were a number of factors there. So there’s no silver bullet. There was a whole bunch of things that help a business succeed or not succeed. One of the things that I believe didn’t work for Maholo [sp] is that the people who are posting answers on Core in the early days weren’t motivated or the type of people who were well know, kind of Internet celebrities or prominent VCs weren’t incentivized by money. Where Maholo was giving cash for answers, Core had a very effective simple system for giving social recognition.

It was about the value that I was providing to people whose opinions I cared about. And so to those prominent question answerers that became a more important currency. So it’s really important to not just sprinkle on variable rewards or gamify the experience blindly, we really want to make sure that the rewards satiate the user’s itch, that if we don’t align those two things we’re bound to fail. It’s going to be a meaningless reward.

Andrew: Gotcha. Okay. I get it. Mark Andreesen is not going to be tempted to answer a question so that we can three dollars from someone on the Internet, but he might be and apparently is engaged if you give him social credit on Twitter and other sites. Core, I think, is on there and so on. Alright. I get what you’re saying. So not just rewards, variable rewards and not just variable rewards but ones that are connected and make sense to the community. Alright.

Let’s move on to the next one. So we said earlier make it easy but now we’re saying have the user invest or put value into the product.

Nir: Yeah.

Andrew: What do you mean by that?

Nir: So this is, I think, the area that I think starts to have the most potential for improvement. I think people don’t think enough about this area of investment, this fourth step of the model. The investment phase is all about these simple actions that users take to increase the likelihood of the next pass through the hook.

And there’s two ways that this works, two ways that investment increases the likelihood of the next pass through the hook. One is by loading the next trigger. So if you think about email, for example. I think email happens to be one of the mothers of habit-forming technology. I don’t know about you, but I find myself constantly using email with little or no conscious thought. I’ve definitely developed a habit, at times a bad habit, around using email.

We can talk about stopping bad habits later on, but when we think about using email, the trigger might be boredom. It could be the internal trigger of some emotion like boredom. The external trigger could be notification that you got a new message. The action, the simplest behavior in anticipation of a reward is to just open the email.

Now the variable reward, let’s think a minute. We’ve got Tribe, Hunt, and [??]. Rewards of the Tribe come from the fact that email is a communication medium. It’s what people whose opinions I care about. Hunt, well through email I’ve got, of course, information rewards. I’ve also got many times monetary rewards because email is connected to my workplace.

Andrew: Mm-hmm.

Nir: So that becomes an important factor. And then rewards of the self, we didn’t get to talk about them. Briefly rewards of the self are all about the things that I do for mastery, consistency, confidence, completion. These are, if you’ve read the work of Daniel Pigg who cites Desi and Ryan, their work on self-determination theory, it turns out that we’re highly driven by the search for mastery, consistency, competency, control.

So every time I flip through those unread messages I complete this task. I finish something that, of course, has its variability of this constant stream of new emails. That’s rewards of the self.

Now let’s think about the investment phase. What’s the thing that I do with email that makes me more likely to use it in the future? Well, when I send a message to somebody, I’m loading the next trigger. I don’t get it, points and badges if I send an email. There’s no immediate gratification in sending an email.

Andrew: Mm-hmm.

Nir: I do that in anticipation of a future reward, and the more I do that the more likely that I am to use that system in the future. And by the email, I use email but if you think of an app like MessageMe or WhatsApp or an SMS service all of these systems use the same type of investment because every time the user sends a message they’re loading the next trigger to use it in the future when someone replies to them.

Andrew: Here’s another example that’s not communication. It comes out of your book. This is iTunes. How is software like iTunes using that?

Nir: Okay. Great. So we talked about the first way that investments load the next trigger. This is an example of the second way that investments increase the likelihood of the next pass which is by storing value. Now storing value, I think, is really exciting, and to me it’s one of the reasons I love working in technology so much because if you think about things that are made out of atoms, things in the physical world. Your chairs, your iPhone, your computer, your furniture, all these things depreciate with time. They lose value the more we use them.

However, habit forming technology, by getting users to invest in the product, should appreciate. They should get better with use. That happens through this process of what I call Stored Value. In the iTunes case here, every time the user adds content to iTunes, they’re improving the service. They’re increasing the likelihood of them using the service in the future because it becomes their one and only music library.

Other examples of open content might be data. The more data I give a site like Pinterest, for example, by pinning and repin, I’m literally changing the way that site looks just for me. If you were to log into my site, Andrew, and you log into Pinterest or my Facebook, it wouldn’t mean anything to you because it’s been customized just for me by storing value. There are a couple of other ways that stored value that can increase the likelihood of the next pass in the hook.

Andrew: I know that every time that I use Netflix and rate it, I feel like I’m suckering myself into never being able to leave Netflix because now all my ratings are there. If I go start somewhere else, it’s not there. I have to start all over.

Let’s take an off line example just to show another way that this works. Ikea. Look at this. This is all the different people who have posted their instructions from Ikea on the web. How is Ikea doing this?

Nir: Yeah, so this comes out of some work that Dan Ariely did. He’s a professor at Duke and wrote a great book called “Predictably Irrational” as well as some other books. He’s a behavioral economist who dubbed this effect that some products have on us whereby when we invest work, when we invest labor into something, it turns out that we love it more. We gain an affinity for it. He calls this the Ikea Effect.

Andrew: It’s in Wikipedia here. I don’t think that people can see it, but the Ikea Effect.

Nir: Yeah, it turns out that we have, as you can see there, a cognitive bias towards things that we put effort into. That’s what the investment phase is partially about. The more people put something of value, a bit of time, effort, money, something of value into a service, it turns out we psychologically value it a bit more. Through successive cycles, through the hook, we tend to build up a lot of investment in these products.

Andrew: I see, so the first action needs to be super simple to get them engaged and to give them a variable reward, but later on you do want them to invest, to spend time, to make it their own. The more they do that, the more hooked they are into the product.

Nir: That’s part of it. Through these rapid cycles through the Hook Model, you’re exactly right. By getting users to invest…That actually kind of goes against the pedagogy of everything needs to be simple, that I told you about in the action phase. If you ask any designer today, they’ll tell you that sites need to be “slicky,” that everything needs to be getting users to check out as quickly as possible.

I’m telling you that actually checking in is more important than checking out — that sometimes you want users to engage with the service, add something of value, invest in that service, and that will increase their likelihood of coming back to use the service in the future.

Andrew: This, Nir, is one of the reasons why I love the book. I said at the top that it’s easy for someone to see the first section of our conversation here about creating an external trigger and say, “I know all this stuff,” and move on.

What we don’t realize is that until we get deeper into your work and really get to understand it, so much of what hooks us into the products we love is counter-intuitive. It’s not what we’d originally expect.

Let’s move on to the next one. We talked about external triggers. Now we’ve created a cycle which I’ll show a screen shot of in a moment, but I want to understand what you said earlier. You said we go from external triggers where the product has to advertise, the product has to send the message out, to internal triggers.

You give an example of someone in your book who you named Yin who is a student at Stanford, and she has these internal triggers with Instagram. What is an internal trigger, and how does Yin have that?

Nir: We all have these internal triggers. Internal triggers I think is an area that I think product designers don’t think about nearly enough. It turns out to get to this Promised Land of forming a habit, we don’t create the internal triggers. The internal triggers are already there.

What we’re going is creating an association with that internal trigger so that every time a user feels this internal trigger, and it’s said to be either emotions, routines, situations, certain places or people, every time they experience that internal trigger, they’re prompted with doing the next action. They do the net intended behavior.

These internal triggers are things that we feel throughout our day to day lives, and it turns out that some of the most powerful internal triggers, that just as reliably queue our next action, come from emotions. So what we do when we feel bored, or lonesome, or fearful, or lost, or uncertain. What we do when we feel these negative emotions just as reliably queues our next action as that big honking “Call to Action” button that we’re all so familiar with as an external trigger.

Andrew: I’m not trying to get the person to feel a sense of loneliness and use it. You’re saying I am supposed to understand that they have these feelings, and connect my product to them.

Nir: Yes, that’s absolutely right. So what we are doing here is not creating pain, God forbid. We are solving pain. Creating pain, that’s not my forte, I don’t want to get people to do anything they don’t want to do. What we want to figure out how to do, is how to look for people’s existing pain points, i.e. their internal triggers, and find a solution to that problem.

That’s, in a nutshell, what the Hook model is all about, is connecting your user’s problem to your solution with enough frequency to form a habit. That promised land starts with figuring out what’s the itch that you’re going to scratch. What’s the emotional need that your product is serving for the user?

Andrew: So then, what is the emotional need that leads to this? I see tons of food photos up on Instagram, and it’s not because Instagram is emailing people daily and saying, “Take a picture of your food, take a picture of your food!” What internally do you think is going on, that Instagram connected to, that is leading to that?

Nir: Absolutely, yeah. So, it’s interesting because you remember, the definition of the external triggers was something for the information for what to do next was in the trigger. In the case that you saw, you know that plate of food wasn’t crying out, “Andrew, take a picture of me with Instagram,” right? That would be pretty amazing, but that’s not what happens.

What happens is people see something they want to capture, they want to hold onto, that in fact they fear losing. The solution to that fear of losing that moment is Instagram. So Instagram wins, because they’ve created an association with a particular moment in time. Now you may think about, well, actually that sounds familiar, right? This talk of moments probably is ringing some bells with another company, that about 20, 30 years ago also owned the moment. Of course I’m referring to Kodak. The Kodak Moment.

You remember these commercials, right, where they’d have the puppy dog running through the grass, and the kids playing outside, and grandma blowing out maybe her last birthday candles. You remember these ads, right? So what Kodak was doing over the span of about 100 years and billions of dollars, was to create those associations with internal triggers. That when I see this moment, I fear losing it, and I capture it with Kodak.

Now Instagram, to their credit, did the same thing. They created that association with these internal triggers, of this fear of losing the moment, but they did it by having users teach other users what the Instagram moment is all about. Now, Instagram’s also much more than just a way to capture photos, right? It’s not just about picture taking, it’s also a social network.

So the more times users went through this hook of trigger, action, reward, and investment, they started to figure out that, “Wait, actually, Instagram can also solve these other internal triggers I have!” So when I’m bored or lonesome, or fomo. You know what fomo is, right? Fear of missing…

Andrew: Fear of missing out?

Nir: Yeah, exactly! Fear of missing out is painful. It doesn’t feel good. That’s a user problem. And whenever I feel this fear of missing out, Instagram is my solution.

Andrew: Gotcha. Alright, I see it. We need to figure out what our users are already experiencing internally, and then connect our product to it.

Nir: Exactly.

Andrew: Let’s go on, then, to the final point that I’ve got up here on the board, if I can get it up there. There it is. Final one is repeat, and I’m actually going to show the hook model that you show earlier in the book. This is what you want us to keep going through, keep cycling through this, is that right?

Nir: That’s right, yeah.

Andrew: So we always start with an external trigger, I imagine. Then we get the user to take a simple action, then we give them a variable reward, then we ask them to make an investment, then we hopefully are at a place where they’re internally triggered and continue, continue, continue. Companies that don’t get that internal trigger keep sending out too much email. Companies that don’t figure out the reward, what happens if you don’t figure out the reward? People don’t come back?

Nir: Every company has their own opportunity for improvement, let’s say. If they haven’t formed the habit, then there’s usually one part of the hook that’s not working for them, in some way or the other. They haven’t figured out a way to show effective external triggers, or the action is too difficult, or the variable reward isn’t actually scratching the user’s itch, or the investment doesn’t bring the user back by loading the next trigger or storing value. So it’s very contextually specific to each individual business which part of the Hook Model may be lacking in their particular case.

We know a few things. One, that frequency matters. The more frequently users can go through this cycle, the more likely they are to form a habit. When I say frequency, it turns out the research is telling us that within the span of a week’s time or less — that seems to be this crucial tipping point where if we can’t get the user to do something to engage with our product within the span a week’s time or less — we got a problem.

When you think about the products that we think of as most habit forming, Twitter and Facebook and Instagram and Snapshot, these are intra-day behaviors. We do them multiple times per day. That’s one point is the frequency of behavior.

The second is the speed in which we go through these four steps. If there’s a huge gap between a trigger and the action or the action and the reward, we have a problem. We want these things to happen as quickly as possible, the speed with which users go through the Hook Model.

Andrew: Can we get an overview of this whole process that you just described using an example? Maybe the example that we started this conversation with, the Bible App. Would that work?

Nir: Sure, we could do that.

Andrew: The original external trigger might have been what?

Nir: Let me just differentiate that there’s on-boarding, by the way, which some companies can actually make the on-boarding of their product part of the Hook Model. In fact, Twitter does this. To some degree, Pinterest does this. I think, also, the Bible App does.

But many companies actually just…Before people get scared, on-boarding can be its own separate experience. The Hook Model is not really so much of a growth, which is where I would bucket on-boarding. It’s really that engagement.

In the Bible App case, the external trigger would be somebody telling another person about the app. It’s a word-of-mouth product. Or within the Bible App, you can actually share to Twitter and Facebook. Many people find out about it through this external trigger of seeing something in their feed.

The action would be to open the app once you’ve been on board it and you’ve installed it. To open the app becomes the action. The variable reward is what you’ll find. Within the app, there’s actually, surprisingly, quite a bit of variability because you’re on a reading plan.

What Bobby figured out in his development of the Bible App, was that just giving people the entire Bible to read — too difficult. It’s just too hard. What he started to do was to create these reading plans which made the action of opening the app and getting to see what verse you should read today became variable, became more interesting. There was this hunt for information around, “What’s the verse that’s going to mean something to me today?” For people who are developed, that’s actually pretty interesting.

The investment phase comes down to checking. He has this system that he’s built of checking what you’ve read for that day. You’re checking off that you’ve done your daily reading for that day. That, of course, increases the likelihood of the next pass. Because every time you’ve checked that you’re done with something, that’s got the variable reward of the self, this completion mechanic.

You’re investing in the future because now the app has the opportunity to trigger you, to send you an external trigger that says, “You’ve finished Section A. Now it’s time to move on the Section B.” They’ve loaded the next trigger with every investment.

Andrew: So there we have it. Let me bring it back up on the screen. It’s very simple. I’d like the audience to all get a screen shot of it mentally so that you can see it. It’s so simple that if you take a look at these four quadrants, you’ll just memorize them.

My hope is that now having gone through this program with us, that you will understand it and start to see it in other apps and start to think about those apps that you’re connected with so much more differently.

You’ll understand why they’re hooked, and you won’t be one of those people who walk around saying, “The Bible’s doing well because people love the Bible, right?” As if just putting the Bible in an app is the solution. You’ll now be able to understand the thought process that allowed it to be much more compelling, much more of a continuous engagement.

By seeing how other people do it and understanding how you could do it yourself, my hope is that you all will get to do it. If you want to follow up…I’ve only scratched the surface. We’ve talked here for less than an hour, right, Nir?

Nir: Yep, that’s about right.

Andrew: I have tried to pull in as many stories…Actually, no, I didn’t try to pull in as many as possible. I tried to give people one specific example per section, maybe two. There’s so many more in the book. I hope people will go to your website and get it. The site is nirandfar.com. Do I need to spell that? No. I just want people to know that Nir is spelled like your name — N-I-Randfar.com where they can buy it. They can also go to Amazon and buy it. And if they’d like, they can go to the Habit Summit when you click right there and be a part of it. Will you be meeting people at the Habit Summit?

Nir: I sure will, yeah…

Andrew: What’s one benefit that people could get if they go to the Habit Summit?

Nir: Well, the Habit Summit is all about bringing together, really, people that I wanted to hear from. These are friends of mine and fellow practitioners, where people are going to share their hard won lessons from how to form user habits and how to boost engagement with their products or services. I would like, Andrew, if you’ll let me just for a second, to talk about this disclaimer I have around how to use habit formation responsibly, which is something which is something we haven’t talked about.

Andrew: Yeah, let’s never use it responsibly, only for evil! Go out there and really hook people in like the cigarette manufacturers. That’s what you were going to say, right?

Nir: Well, not quite. [laughs]

Andrew: [laughs]

Nir: But it should be noted that we have a tremendous power as entrepreneurs, as designers, as product makers, that we’ve never had before. I believe that we have more power than ever to affect people’s day to day lives, and we have to use that power responsibility. Half my writing, if you look at my blog, is about how to build habit forming technologies, and the other half is how to prevent unwanted manipulation.

In fact, I’ve used the hook model to build good habits and break bad habits in my own life. What I’m hoping will happen, is that your listeners and my readers will find ways to improve their lives by using the hook model personally, but then also to build products that help people live happier, healthier, wealthier, more connected lives by using habit forming technology. It’s all about making things that people want to do easier to do by turning them into habits.

Andrew: All right, fair enough. I do remember even in the book that you had a disclaimer, and I said, “I don’t need the disclaimer!” [laughs] Let the audience run rampant with this! But I do appreciate that you did that. It’s great to have you on here. How do you feel that this went for you?

Nir: Fantastic, this was a pleasure! Great questions, and I really enjoyed it!

Andrew: Thank you! Thank you all for being a part of it, let me know what you end up doing with this, and let Nir know, especially if you go to his conference, let him know in person. Thank you all, bye.

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Master Class:
How to profitably launch a web app
(Even if you want to start small)
Taught by Rob Walling of Drip

Master Class: Profitable Product Launch


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Transcript

Andrew: This session is about how to profitably launch a web app, and it’s led by that man right there, Rob Walling, whose latest profitable launch is this, Drip. Drip allows you to easily capture email addresses on your website using a box like this one. Let me see if you can see in the bottom right corner right there. I’m going to move it down. I’m going to move it up. Down. Up. There. That’s what it does. It also allows you to do this Drip email campaign you can see right there on their website.I invited him here, because this, like I’ve said, is one of many profitable launches that Rob has done. I want to learn from him. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy where proven founders like Rob teach. Rob, I’m excited to have you on here, partially because you have so much credibility having done this a lot, but as I’ve told you before you, we started there is a danger in that, and that is that the audience is going to say, “Anything that Rob launches succeeds,” and they can’t relate, but not everything did work out.Rob: Yeah, I had a string of failures before I had any successes to be honest. I think the one that you and I spoke about before is Flogs.com, which was a social network I tried to launch, and I made so many mistakes that I’ve since corrected, which is why I’m able to now launch products with a little more success I think.Andrew: You have a clear plan for launching. In fact, many of the steps that we’re going to talk about today that are here up on the board, when we talked about them, you said, “Oh yeah, I always do this four step. Oh yeah, I always do this.” Did you do a four step email campaign for Flogs?

Rob: Absolutely not.

Andrew: No.

Rob: I did a one-step email campaign, which is something I would advise people never to do. It just doesn’t work very well.

Andrew: One step meaning, “Hey…”

Rob: “Hey, we’re live.” Yeah, exactly.

Andrew: All right, so that’s the first thing that we wanted to get out of the way. The second thing is, all right, if you’ve done it how effective are you? How effective is this launch here?

Rob: I was pretty pleased with this Drip launch. The first month out of the gate we did just over $7,000 in revenue, so it’s definitely a good start for month number one.

Andrew: Okay, and how long has it been around?

Rob: Publicly launched now for about 60 days.

Andrew: Sixty days.

Rob: Mm-hmm.

Andrew: How many profitable apps or sites have you launched in the last, I don’t know, decade?

Rob: Well, between launched and acquired, because a lot of them…you know, I will acquire them, and relaunch them. It’s…at one point…it’s got to be more than 10. At one point I had counted them up, and there were 25, but some of them are smaller. You know, I had some small niche sites that only did a 1,000 bucks a month, but in terms of like more substantial apps there’s been half a dozen to a dozen for sure.

Andrew: Okay. That’s what I wanted to establish, that this is something you’ve done before, and we’re not talking about anything in the hundreds of millions of dollars. This is attainable. Everything we do here can be done with a small operation. Let’s get into now how someone who resonates with this can do it for themselves. The very first thing that you say is we need to choose one value proposition that fills a specific, specific need, and you had a way of doing this, and it started with a text doc. What did you do there?

Rob: That’s right, so the idea here is that I’m at…especially at the time, I was working on Drip, really a one or two person show. I don’t have a large operation, and so in order to be able to build in a features, and to be able to market, I need to basically pick one thing to be really good at, and be laser focused, so that’s what this encompasses.

The way I did this with Drip is I pulled up a text doc or a Google doc, and I brainstormed headlines for the app. I knew that the app would capture leads, capture emails, send Drip sequences, and prove conversion rates. It does a bunch of things. What is the one thing that I need to focus on?

Andrew: Could you give me a few examples of what would be on there?

Rob: Sure.

Andrew: I want to see what a value prop looks like when it’s expressed in a potential headline.

Rob: Sure, so one example is “More leads, more customers.” That’s one headline, and that can fit in a Facebook ad headline or a Google AdWords headline. Another one is “Create a double digit jump in your conversion rate.”

Andrew: Okay.

Rob: That’s another one. Another one is “Epic auto responders,” or “The future of auto responders.”

Andrew: Okay.

Rob: Each of those is quite different, but if you think about Drip it actually, at least in my opinion, is all of those things at once, so I had to figure out which one do I double down on, because I don’t have the marketing budget, and the team to focus on all of them.

Andrew: This is before you even started developing the app?

Rob: Yeah.

Andrew: You just had this idea, and you wanted to see, how do I position it? And in the end you came up with this. I found this on a blog, I think actually on betalist [sp], from the launch.

What am I seeing here in the headline, that came out of the doc?

Rob: Yeah. So the full headline that you’re seeing which I split tested to get to this one. This says, let’s use email and years of best practices to create a double-digit jump in your conversion rate. And so the initial seed of that was that, create a double-digit jump in your conversion rate, and then though some testing I landed up with the longer headline which my designer hated because it warps so many times but…

Yeah, this one worked well for us.

Andrew; But the key point, and I’ll zoom in again. The key points are the parts that are bolded, and I see three words right there, double-digit jump, to get to that and to know that that was the phrase out of all the phrases that you put in the Google doc or the text doc, the one that worked, you did something on Facebook. What did you do?

Rob: Yep. I bought Facebook ads and I tested headlines with at least, I think I tested between 10 and 15 different headlines on Facebook and targeted different audiences as well. Some of it was email marketers. Some of it was startups. Some of it was enterprise sales and that kind of stuff.

Andrew: How much money are we talking about?

Rob: Oh man. Not a ton. To test this? It was less than $500.

Andrew: Less than $500, all those different, and here’s the other thing that I said. It could be intimidating. Your design is beautiful and when I pointed that out and said, this should be the first thing people create, it’s going to be a little bit tough. What did you say?

Actually, you know what? That isn’t the official, very first thing. Let’s come back to that because I do want talk about what that very first one was and I think I’ve got a screenshot of it and I see the problem. We’ll come back to that.

Rob: Okay.

Andrew: Let me go over to the next big idea here, which is, we found that value proposition by writing out potential headlines that appeal to potential target audience, tested them on Facebook to those audiences. The next step is, you say build your lean prototype to validate the value. Let’s see where that is here. This is, here it is. This is what it is. What site is this on?

Rob: So this is on hittail.com, which is one of my other products.

Andrew: Okay.

Rob: And the idea behind this bullet point is that,

Andrew: Let me go to that site.

Rob: If you’re going to make a claim, like, it creates a double-digit jump in your conversion rate, it damn well better do that. And so, realistically, these two steps are actually out of order. I did this part first. We actually had a prototype built on Hittail and I had seen how much it impacted our conversion rates. And then I used that as a way to then brainstorm some of the headlines.

Andrew: Let me zoom in. So what you did was you created, this is now the official version right here but

Rob: It is, because I don’t have a screen shot of the old hacked-together version.

Andrew: You hacked together just a pop-up that would come up in the bottom right like this?

Rob: Yep.

Andrew: And you said, can I really get email addresses from it. And when you could, that’s when you said, alright I will now start offering this to other people. And that’s what you want us to do. To find that simple way to test it.

Rob: Yep. Find the simple way. Yeah. And we did send, we captured email addresses and then we also sent emails and we saw how it impacted our conversion rate. But it was about two days of developer time to build this. Two and a half days. And then it took off for us, so I knew there was a lot of value there.

Andrew: Suppose I wanted to take this little pop-up, and I didn’t have a development team and I wasn’t a developer myself but I had access to oDesk. Roughly speaking, we can’t obviously be accurate on this. What would it cost to create this MVP that just popped up and asked for an email address on a blog?

Rob: Yeah, that just did that? I mean, less than $500.

Andrew: Okay. So, less than $500 bucks, again, test out.

Rob: Yeah, yeah.

Andrew: OK. What else, what else, what else? I don’t think Hittail got an enormous amount of traffic because it’s a homepage. I think where, I think a blog would even get more traffic, so we’re not talking about an unfair traffic advantage there.

Rob: That’s right. Hittail gets, I think at that time was getting maybe between 10,000 to 20,000 uniques a month.

Andrew: Um-hmm.

Rob: This is not a major media site of any kind.

Andrew: Okay. And I can see, if I didn’t have that advantage, where I didn’t have a second site, I might go and partner with someone else and say, if I build this for you will you put it on your site, I’ll give you all the email addresses.

Rob: That’s exactly what I would have done.

Andrew: Okay.

Rob: Absolutely.

Andrew: And the idea is to keep it as simple as possible. What did you keep out of that first version that’s our way of validating.

Rob: Oh man. So much stuff. I mean we, it was cobbled together. It used JQuery and just had a pretty basic design. You couldn’t split test anything. You couldn’t update anything without updating code. You know, I mean it was all just hard coded in there, and you know, now with Drip it’s like you can edit everything in a web interface, you can split test, et cetera, et cetera. It was just…I won’t say, “It was hacked together,” because it was solid code, but it wasn’t sophisticated or flexible.

Andrew: Okay. Let’s go to the next big idea. Now, we got this hacked together code, or something we got on oDesk, or something that’s in MVP. We test out different value propositions to see what works. Let’s see what’s next for us. Where is that? There, that button. Next, we reach out to warm, potential users to validate the market. I asked you for…actually for an email that shows how you did it. This is what you sent me. There’s no way we can read it on the screen, and frankly, I can read it to people, but I want to understand not the words that are on here, but what happened here? What are you doing?

Rob: Yeah, so this is to combat what I call, “The scratch your own itch fallacy,” which is where people say, “Well, if you have a need, certainly other people have that need too,” and I’ve just found that to not be the case in most situations, and so I wanted to go with a market first approach where I ensure that there were at least a handful of other folks who would be willing to pay for this same thing, that they also had this itch that needed to be scratched.

This email, in retrospect, I just read through it as I was scraping it for you, and it’s a little longer than it should be, because it requires a bit of time from a startup founder, which is who I mailed these to.

I knew 17 people that I thought could feasibly use Drip, and so I sent the email, and all the email says is “This is the bulleted list of what I’m looking to build. You can see an example of it here on hittail.com,” because I already had the thing compiled together. Then I said, “The value will provide increase conversion rates. It will capture more leads. Would you be willing to pay $99 a month for that?” That’s what I’m doing.

Andrew: You know what’s interesting is you actually said to them, “I’m doing customer development on a new software as a service idea. Even if you only time to answer with a yes or no it would be a big help. My idea” And it was just four words, “One click email marketing.” Then the summary, “If you visit hittail.com, and look at the lower right hand corner you’ll see an email signup form that stays dormant for X seconds, then prompt you to subscribe to our free Long Tail SEO email course, et cetera,” and then you give them the list of the benefits, and so on. Can I copy this, and give this to the audience?

Rob: Sure.

Andrew: I’m looking at this, and I don’t think there’s anything private in here. OK, and so you’re being very open, and you’re saying, “I want to see if this is an idea that anyone cares about. Here are the benefits. Will you…”In fact, is this the ask? Let’s see. The ask at the bottom is “The plans will start at $99 a month. Would you pay for this, why or why not?” Gotcha. 17 people, you’re saying, “Would you pay for this?”

Rob: Yeah.

Andrew: What do you say to someone who says, “Seventeen is not statistically relevant. It’s not a real representation of all of the sites that are out there.”

Rob: Sure. Yeah, it’s not, but as a bootstrapper I don’t need all of the sites that are out there. You know, at 99 bucks a month, 100 customers is 10,000 bucks. Is that right? Yeah, that’s right. That’s not a bad way to get a bootstrapped app off the ground. If I can find 100 customers…so to me, to even find 10 paying, which is what I found out of those 17, I got 11 who said, “Yes,” and then six said, “No,” or “Maybe.” Some people said, “It was too expensive,” et cetera, et cetera.

I don’t need the whole world to need it. I just need to find a group that does in fact need it. The interesting thing is out of the 17 that I emailed, a bunch of them, the ones that said, “Yes,” they were mostly SaaS, and downloadable software founders, whereas the people selling courses, info products, WordPress plugins were in the six that said, “Yes, no, maybe,” and so instantly knew, “Boy, I need to…who’s my marketing going to be? Where’s the value here?”

Andrew: How do you know if they’re just being nice, or they’re really going to buy?

Rob: You don’t, except for…at least these folks that I emailed, I would hope that they would be candid with me. I also wrote back, when people said, “Yes, I love this idea,” I wrote back and said, “I’m going to build this,” in a nice way, “Can I hold you to that, to at least try it out, to at least give me a test? I should have something in four months.” I gave them a time frame. I gave them a price, and I tried to get a verbal commitment, you know? Yeah, you’re right, they could totally bail, but most people, I mean I have at least loose affiliations with these guys, aren’t going to tell you, “Yes,” and then back out. If they’re total unknowns they might.

Andrew: My temptation would be, Rob, to say, “I’m going to launch it. I plan to charge 99 a month but if I give it to you for free, will you give me feedback on it after you put it on the site.” Rob: Sure.

Rob: I have to be honest. I don’t think anyone in the audience is going to own up and say that’s how they are. Let’s all speak up. I believe we do this.

Okay. So the reason, I didn’t want to do that. I’ll admit it. It’s tempting. I won’t say I’m immune to that. I got a lot of feedback when we started getting customers in and I really wanted feedback from people who were willing to pay for it. That’s the bottom line. If you give it to someone for free, they just don’t value it very much.

There were a few people that I did comp for reasons. Either they couldn’t afford it. There was one blogger who wanted to use it and I was like, guys, feedback will be valuable but, sure enough, it wasn’t. It was way off the mark of what the cluster of paying customers were saying. It was way off the mark. I would really discourage people from doing that.

Andrew: How did you come up with 99 dollars? I got to move on to the other pints but why 99 dollars? How do you know what to ask?

Rob: In the end, the pricing is not 99 dollars. It’s actually 49 dollars. By the time I got to launch, I had changed that. I wanted to move up market and I wanted to figure out what I had to build to get to a 99 dollar price point because you can scale an app at 99 bucks a month. It’s really hard to scale an app up at 10 or 20 bucks a month and I’ve already gone down that radio so I wanted to step it up a little.

Andrew: Alright, let’s step it up here too. Next is put up a landing page for warm traffic. Who’s warm traffic?

Rob: The idea here is, I have this thing that I call Concentric Circle Marketing. You start by spreading the word to the inner circle. That inner circle is your warm traffic. It’s anybody who knows you. It’s your audience. It’s things like Twitter. It’s your blog, if you have one. Maybe you have a podcast. Maybe you have an email newsletter. Anybody that you can easily reach, you test it out by starting to spread the word to them first and that’s what they mean by warm.

Andrew: How many people did you send it to who were warm?

Rob: There were some podcasts has several thousand listeners and I started mentioning it there. Hey, go check out the new app that I’m working on. I had about 6,000 email subscribers that I sent it to, again, just as a heads up like, hey check this out. If you think it’s interesting, sign up. It’s in the 10 to certainly not 20,000. Probably like 10 to 15,000 and of those, it’s pretty loose because you might send 6,000 emails and only get 500 of them even opened. Then you might only get 300 clicks so it’s not like thousands of people saw this landing page. It was maybe 1,000 people from the audience that actually clicked through and saw it.

Andrew: And what you’re trying to do is get them to come to this page and give you their email address as a way of gauging their interest.

Rob: Yes.

Andrew: There’s that phrase that you checked out.

Rob: That’s right. To be honest, the warm traffic is a bit of a double edged sword. I call it the curse of the audience because when you have an audience, they often just want to see what you’re up to and so they’ll sign up so you’ll get abnormally high conversion rates. It might be people who are never really going to buy from you. I had to be careful with it.

The conversion rates of this early first circle, the people who had businesses that converted really high because they trust that I’m going to do it and do a good job with it. There was also a really low conversion rate portion which is everyone who just kind of wanted to check out what I was doing and see how I was going to launch it.

Andrew: I must admit, I do that with people all the time. I have a special email address that I use just to stay in touch so if I ever need to reconnect with them, I can go to my inbox, do a search and say ah, that’s what you’ve been up to.

Rob: Yep. I do as well.

Andrew: I showed you this and you said two things about it, or I said to things and I want to get the responses that you said before. The first I said is this is beautiful and you said two things. The first is, there’s not. There’s a mistake that I already see on this. What’s the mistake that you see on this that I, Andrew, do not see?

Rob: The text box is not the right width.

Andrew: The email address box.

Rob: That’s right.

Andrew: This part right here.

Rob: It should be the same width as the button below it. We just have a CSS screw up there.

Andrew: Okay and then the other thing you said was, this is not the actual page Andrew. I was moving so fast, I didn’t screen shot every step of my way for when I’m on Mixergy.

Rob: That’s right.

Andrew: The actual page looked like?

Rob: The actual page I don’t have a screenshot of, unfortunately but it was a clean design but it was not really something that a professional spent a bunch of time on. You can tell that one with the envelopes, I hired someone to do that. The other one was thrown together in just a couple of hours. Frankly, I would have gone to Theme Forest and paid seven bucks for a landing page if I didn’t have this one.

Andrew: You would go to where?

Rob: Themeforest.net

Andrew: Theme Forest. Yes. I love that site.

Rob: Yeah, they have plenty of really nice landing pages for five to ten bucks and that’s what I’ve used in the past. I happen to have a designer handy on this one. But the one that didn’t look as good as this outperformed it in a bunch of tests and I had to do a lot of work to get this one up to snuff. So the theme forest approach is potentially superior in the early days.

Andrew: Here’s Theme Forest. When we go to these page here for 11 bucks. I’ll randomly click over here to show people what it looks like. I think theme forest landing pages are just beautiful. Well, when we do. What are we trying to put on there? This is a whole page that you can get and this is maybe even more complicated. We don’t want, the elements that we want to make sure we keep in there are what? The headline that we tested that works. Email box so we can see if people really care. What else?

Rob: Really just one sentence, just enough to peak curiosity and to give enough information that people understand how you’re going to do that, cause you look at that headline, Create a Double-Digit Jump in Your Conversion Rate, that really a lot of ways. You could do it twenty different ways. I would like to get at least a little bit more information. For example, we could use email to do that. So you’re peaking curiosity but giving just enough to get their interest. And frankly…

Andrew: And so, that’s the part of the sentence that says Buy Reconnecting with Website Visitors via email.

Rob: That’s correct. Right Yep.

Andrew: And so, the longer landing pages that I’ve tested against this, you know, that have even testimonials and product logos and other stuff, it doesn’t tend to do as well in this early stage. You really want to minimize the amount of information. Two to three sentences, tops, is what I found works best.

Rob: Okay. So it’s value prop and then maybe a sentence that includes by or though. So value prop is buying whatever, give me your email if you want to know.

Andrew: Yep.

Rob: Alright. Um, next. Now we’ve got all the information it’s time to act. Build out a full version but be flexible’

Andrew: Actually, drive page…

Rob: Right. I just jumped over that one.

Andrew: Drive pay traffic. And I actually see one of your ads. Can I put the ad up now?

Rob: Sure.

Andrew: Let’s do it. And I’m going to zoom in because this ad campaign from where, because it’s so small.

Rob: Facebook.

Andrew: Facebook. Why Facebook?

Rob: Um, Facebook has cheaper clicks than Google Ad Words and you can target demographics with Facebook instead of just intention. So obviously with Google Add Words you’re typically targeting search keywords and any actions someone has taken. For example, when I went onto Facebook to test this out, you know, I could run increased trials 30% and run this for startup and fast founders specifically. And it would appear in front of them.

I also had some ads that said more leads, more customers. And I ran those against both sass people and enterprise people and digital marketers and tried to figure who cares about leads, who cares about trials, Who cares about conversion rates. So in order to test different value propositions across demographics.

Andrew: Okay. How much would you actually, I have the price here actually but, I’ll say it. You were able to acquire a lead for $3.50.

Rob: Right. And that means a email address for $3.50. Clicks were around, I know that was going to be your next question, so…

Andrew: Yeah. I was trying to get the whole understanding of how you knew that this was going to pay off based on the ads.

Rob: I didn’t know. I tested.

Andrew: Okay.

Rob: No, I just figured… I’ve done Facebook ads in the past and I had an idea that you could get clicks between, well there are a number of factors, but between 0.30 and 0.70 is completely doable. That’s that you can be a beginner and get in that range with this audience. And so I kicked it up and got a bunch of clicks and then looked at Google Analytics and it showed me how many conversions I was getting and it’s pretty simple math.

So it was about $3.50. There you can do easy math and say wow, I’m charging $50.00 a month for a product I don’t need and I don’t need a ton of conversions to make back this money.

Andrew: Cool. Got it. By the way, you and I grew beards roughly at the same time. Don’t you miss being able to do what I just did there?

Rob: [laugh] Stroking the goatee. Yeah. I do it. I shaved it last night. Maybe I should have left it on for 1 more day.

Andrew: [laugh] No. No competition or the beards.

Rob: Okay.

Andrew: Maybe I should ask if you tested that with a Facebook ad. Which will you click on more? Which will you trust more?

Rob: Right.

Andrew: On to the next. This is the one that I was jumping the gun on. Build out a full version but be flexible. You spend how long building it out?

Rob: It was, so I have a developer working for me at this point. In the past I would have built it myself but I’m working on so much other stuff that I had a guy working half time for a while and I’ll put him full time once we launch. It was about five man months to build it. I originally estimated three to four, but as you know it always expands.

Andrew: We got this image here. Why did you pick this image to represent this point?

Rob: With my original viewing of Drip, with that very specific value proposition that I said, I felt that all it was going to do is increase conversion rates. All it’s going to do is capture more meat. And as soon as people had a look at it -I let in one or maybe two users early on — they said, “I need to be able to configure this. I need to be able to add it in mobile. I need to be able to sent broadcast emails. I need to be able to…”

Suddenly it was turning into a different product than I had envisioned. So – and this is simplifying – right away I had to add settings that I really wouldn’t have wanted to add. I would have just wanted to default all these to what I had split tested as working the best. But people want more. You need to be flexible as a founder.

Andrew: How do you know where to stop?

Rob: It’s a really good question. It’s a hard balance. When I had folks using it who were of similar demographics – a lot of SaaS and software operators – they tended to ask stuff in the same domain. As soon as I got bloggers in there, they started asking for totally different stuff. And it was an obvious break between asking for more analytics and asking for something that would parse on our assess feed and automatically sent emails to the list. No, that’s just not even on the radar. It quickly became obvious what we were and were not going to implement.

Andrew: On to the next point, “Bring influencers in early.” You brought in a couple of sites, including this one. I wasn’t able to bring it up on Plan Scope, but Ambassador I see right here. I hope people can see it as I bring it up and bring it down. Maybe I need to move it. That will show it right there in the bottom. These two sites are influencers who started out with you. Then you got a phone call from a site called WhenIWork.com. How’d you get that call?

Rob: It was an email actually. It was a recommendation. As soon as Ambassador and Plan Scope started using DRIP they started spreading the word. That’s what I meant by, “Get influencers using it early,” because they spread the word. They have folks who listen to them. So when I work [??] basically said, “I saw it on Plan Scope and I’m interested in checking it out. How can I get in?”

So at this point here I am with basically an alpha product with two unpaid trial users, though they’ve committed to paying, but aren’t paying yet. I already have people I don’t know, and have successful fast apps like When I Work, cold emailing me asking to use my product.

Andrew: I’ve actually seen that with influencers. Even if they don’t end up using your product themselves they talk to so many people that, if they find someone who’s the right fit for your product, they end up telling them about the product. As a general rule do Influencers get the product for free? No, they pay.

Rob: I’m just not big on giving products for free, to be honest. I pay for everything. I have students who I’ve trained or mentored and advised, and they’ll build a product. I will absolutely pay for that if I can get value out of it. I will tell them not to call me specifically. I’ve had comps that I’ve rejected. I feel the same way. It’s like we’re all in a big community here. Where do you draw the line at comping and not comping. Do you comp someone so they spread the word? Are they now obligated? If it provides value for them they should pay for it. I know that I like to do that.

Andrew: You’re lean. Everything’s bootstrap. It’s all you own money. If the money didn’t go to this app, it might end up going to a vacation for the family. Sometimes I have dinners and drinks with people who are funded and they have the ability to pick up checks because of that. Their ability to do all kinds of stuff without it is out of this world.

Rob: We’re in the wrong business. No, I’m just kidding. [laughter]

Andrew: I don’t feel that way too. I think that they will often admire what you’re doing. They’ll sit around and talk about their lifestyle business idea, but it’s a whole different way of spending money. It’s a whole different way of having to be aware of it. Actually I have one more thing. So many people are trying to reach Influencers. How do you get through to an influencer and say “Here’s my product. Would you please just check it out?”

Rob: I’ll admit I stumbled into this one. Most of these other ones that we’ve listed are thing that I’ve done very intentionally. But this one I kind of stumbled into. I meet a lot of influencers at conferences to be honest. I mean, I [??] you just kind of get to know people. So I don’t know that I have a one day secret of how to do it. I didn’t cold pitch influencers via email and have this magically happen. It was relationships for the most part. So….

Andrew: Sometimes when I try software the person who runs the site will email me back and say, “Andrew, you might like Mail Parser. I just tried that out and the founder emailed me and said, “Hey, you checked out my site” and he started asking me some questions.

Rob: That’s cool.

Andrew: I just interviewed someone who had a similar experience too where he just was watching…oh, the founder of what used to be Tweaky. I think it’s now called Elto.

Rob: Okay.

Andrew: And he said he saw that – who was that – I forget which influencer he saw was using it. Ah, the founder of the Next Web. And he said, “I see you’re using my site.” I just want to check it out. That’s how we got on good terms.

Rob: That’s definitely the way to do it. Yeah. To do a lot of hand holding, really.

Andrew: He’s coming in. So, we got the influencers. Next big idea is we’re going to go to build your onboarding process. Onboarding is one word, isn’t it? I should just combine it.

Rob: Yeah.

Andrew: I like to combine it. I must have before, but Apple has its own opinion on how I should be writing things.

Rob: That’s funny.

Andrew: Thank you, Apple. Onboarding, what do we need to do? Why is onboarding even important? I’m just trying to build a profitable web app. Don’t I just need to get people in the door to pay and I’ll improve the onboarding later on? But first I need it to be profitable. Why do you think onboarding is important?

Rob: Well, because if you have this landing page and you’re building up an email launch list, you’re going to be eventually sending people this app and you want to take advantage of all that hard work of building that list. And if your onboarding sucks, people will not get value out of your app. They just won’t work through it and get that first “ah ha” moment, that first unique experience that just blows their mind.

And that’s what this onboarding is designed to do. I see how some people can think of it as maybe it’s premature optimization. It’s the cart before the horse, but if you don’t do this you will get dramatically less. Maybe in order of magnitude maybe it’s only 50% less people to get value out of your app and thus you will bleed customers out of the bottom of your file.

Andrew: Okay. I know that we had one point. You said, “Andrew, let’s remove it from the conversation here. It’s too far in the process, but the onboarding process is early on. It’s part of making sure that your launch is profitable. I asked for a screen shot of one part of your onboarding process that shows, that gives us a sense of what the process is like.

This is what you sent over. What are we looking at here and how does this help us understand your process?

Rob: Yep. So the thing to do if you’re looking at your own app and try to figure out how to onboard is figure out what are the one, two, three steps someone needs to accomplish in order to get value out of your app. And so with this app Drip you need to do three things. Two are required and one is optional. And so in the upper left if you look at the red X it says activate your campaign. That means that they’ve actually set up an email campaign with a couple of emails to be sent out in a sequence and that they’ve made their opt-in form visible.

Andrew: Okay.

Rob: So once they’ve activated that I know that’s happening. Step two which is next to it – let’s see. I’m lagging a little bit on the video.

Andrew: Oh yeah. Install your JavaScript?

Rob: Install your JavaScript. So they have to have a little snip of the JavaScript installed from Drip in order for the opt-in form to appear. Until they do that, zero value. They will cancel. They will either cancel during the trial or maybe they’ll make a payment and just say, “Oh, I never had a chance to set it up.” So that’s a critical thing. Every time they log in until this is done this is the screen they see.

And then the third thing is an optional thing. It’s setting up a goal so that they can see how many people actually become paying customers, and that’s more of a retention mechanism of hey, if they know that they’re selling three, four, $500 worth of stuff every month because of their direct sequence, then obviously they’re going to stay customers. So we want to encourage them right at the top…

Andrew: Right at the top and that’s what I zoomed in on, and I’ll zoom out to give people a perspective of how it unfolds. That is what’s important. You have your whole page right there, and you zoom them in on one step and you say, “First, I want you to activate your campaign. Then I want you to install the JavaScript. And then I want you to define a goal. That’s the onboarding and…

Rob: Yeah. And even below that, if you scrolled back down you can see that finished setting up your campaign, that’s the same thing, activate and setting up. It’s really guiding you too. You can get around this screen if you want, but it is urging you desperately to do that. In addition, there’s a sequence of emails being sent out to bring you back into the app so that you just don’t have to log in. Also if you’re just checking email you’ll be reminded as well.

Andrew: Alright. I was going to ask you about how you keep from going crazy as your onboarding, especially when you’re just getting started. You can’t do the perfect onboarding process. You get people to do everything, and now I see it. You'[re focusing on the most important parts and that’s it. In order. Most importantly activate is nothing else is happened afterwards second most important is install the java-script because otherwise you are not going to care and the third to find the goal alright lets go on to the next big idea here.

The next big one is there are highlighted right now using email sequence you have this four step sequence you said use it all the time I am about to bring up one of the page here from the sequence moment but what is this Can you give me some overview about this four step sequences

Rob: Like you said I use it to launch book conference and all my membership site multiple software products just of it is that it is four emails over question about two weeks and you are building anticipation is what you are doing and if you ever seen one of those long form sales letters that have you know, paragraph after paragraph text. You almost trying take a piece of that long form thing and spread it out of multiple emails.

Andrew: Okay

Rob: And so the first email will typically say hey you have been in the list for x months and we are going to be launching next week and here is a sneak peek bring up behind the scene what we have been up to. And then you presume what your apps what is the sense of your app value propositions you know whatever it is you found to resonate to people you start talking.

Andrew: Number one is you then on the list a long time here’s what we have been working on. Is that right? And you include screen shots anything else.

Rob: You like to meet them next week. You don’t have a chance to get access to the help.

Andrew: But this is the list of people who are in that landing page. Alright. Okay. We do that the next thing we do is begin the data launch but they can’t yet buy right.

Rob: That’s right, that’s right. I don’t actually give a specific date. I typically say next week you will hear from me with more details basically. An then number two is gets more specific and provides some additional details about the app more value prop more screenshots and then it says the press so you kind of built a case for the price so you kind of built a case for the price you haven’t mentioned price yet because you wanted to build value first.

Andrew: Okay.

Rob: And then, it says tomorrow at x you know, you need to time whenever you expect to hear from me and from there you have 72 hours to get a discount and no one else will receive this discount.

Andrew: Seventy-two hours.

Rob: Sometimes just a week.

Andrew: To get a discount.

Rob: Right, the time for dependence forty eight hours to a week and then number three is the launch view.

Andrew: The 42 hours to a week.

Rob: Forty eight hours a week.

Andrew: Is that make sense? Okay. Number three.

Rob: Number three is the actual the doors are open you know, the gates are open and this is a very short email because you would play the ground work by now. You’d have to show the app how it appears the value provides shown the price so there is no price shot and so the doors are open to get your specialty that only last 72 hours click link these below look forward to see me on the inside some think like that. So it is way shorter than the other too. And the fourth email you sent is just about twelve hours before the sale ends.

Andrew: Okay. I scrolled it up, 12 before and it’s to say, it’s about to close.

Rob: That’s right. No need of information here.

Andrew: Okay. You sent me to show people where is the page to emails. This is one of those emails which actually is little bit hard to see I am in strain but is it okay? I give these to the audience.

Rob: Sure.

Andrew: I could see I see screenshot on here I can see details I see multiple screen shots. Okay.

Rob: This is email number one. You see it very long it really tiring to lay ground work of what app does? How it’s valuable? You noticed, no price is mentioned, no specific launch date.

Andrew: Okay.

Rob: That’s when, this is the email sequence getting started our whole process before allowed us to build the mailing list now we are going to send four emails to this list to get them good. Let’s go to the final point then, this is launch slowly so you can hit the rate of your product. What is slow launch for you? So our email list was 3,500 people by the time it came around to letting everybody in. I was letting them in. Early on I let in 300 at a time and then I started letting in 600 at a time once I had confidence that we could actually on-board that many people successfully.

Andrew: And this is after you did the four series email or is . . . You open it up to a lot of people with a discount, any number of them could come in from the 3,500.

Rob: Nope.

Andrew: Oh no.

Rob: I did the four series email over and over and over to groups of three to 600.

Andrew: Oh, I see.

Rob: That make sense? So about every three weeks, which is how long a trial would run, we had a three week trial. Every three weeks I would send this forward sequence email to the next group and let them in. It was in order of sign up so I started early on and just moved all the way through.

Andrew: Why not just email everybody and say, “Hey, my thing is ready.” and just get all of them in at once?

Rob: Yeah, that’s a good question. There’s two reasons not to do that. It’s a really bad idea actually. There’s two reasons. One, is because your on- boarding sucks still. No matter how good of a job you think you did, you’re going to tweak the crap out of it until you get it to where you’re getting 50, 60% of people who come in actually sticking around.

Second thing is, you don’t know if you can handle that many people period. 3,500 people is a lot. That’s an enormous support burden. As soon as you, as a bootstrap company without a lot of support folks, you just can’t handle the burden. And the last thing is, as, so I guess there’s three things, as you let people in they’re going to start asking for feature requests and all types of stuff. It gave time to build a bunch of those and therefore retain more of the next group. We saw retention rates go up in every group because we had just had a more mature product. It bought us time.

And I call this the slow launch. I mean it worked out really well. It took us about 90 days to launch to 3,500 people and one of those months I was in Europe and I was barely working. By that time it was the third of the three months. My team, who was at that time just two people, one support dude and one developer, we knew what to do. Everything was set up to do it automated.

Andrew: And you just kept doing it over and over and over and over.

Rob: We got better each time, yeah.

Andrew: Three hundred emails got you, at one point, 30 replies?

Rob: Yeah, that’s right.

Andrew: What does that mean, a reply? I mean, people responding or people going to the site?

Rob: The first that was email replies that I got and it was that first email of that first four email sequence to the first 300 people I sent that out just like you saw it and 30 people replied and said, “Can’t wait to see it next week. I’m loving this. Are you going to integrate with apps?” There were questions, but there was a lot of encouragement and that showed me right there, wow, people are engaged to get 10% reply rate on a list that was months and months old was a good sign for me.

Andrew: All right, I think we’ve got everything. Who else does this work for? This whole process that we just went through, you had other people go through it, it’s not just you.

Rob: Sure. I don’t know that everyone has done every single step of it, but I know, especially the launch sequence has been used, like I said, with a ton of my products. Pretty much everything I do now follows this same basic thing. Reuben Gomez with BitSketch early on used a version of this. A friend of mine, Phil Dirkson, he has a Word Press pin it button plug-in, he uses this sequence. A lot of people in the academy, the Micropreneur Academy, my membership website, use it just because it’s something that I espouse pretty heavily.

Andrew: I called it. This is my name. How to profitably launch a web app.

Rob: Mm-hmm.

Andrew: Is it safe to say because this has been used for book launches and conference launches, that it’s just how to profitably launch?

Rob: Yeah. Yeah, I mean, it is.

Andrew: Am I, not safe? I don’t want to just be safe, I want to be honest. If it’s not honest and it’s more narrowly targeted towards web apps, perfectly fine. But is this something that will work beyond web apps?

Rob: It will, absolutely.

Andrew: Okay, yeah, all right. How to profitably launch a web app, an eBook, a conference. And thank you so much for doing this. The site, if people want to go over to it is Getdrip.com. Getdrip.com, go in, play around, check it out. And if people want to be a part of your community, if this isn’t the right tool for them where do we send them?

Rob: Yeah, if folks listen to podcasts, startupsfortherestofus.com is a place I talk every week for about 30 or 40 minutes about pretty much what we’ve talked about today. It’s very nerdy and very start up and marketing focused, but it’s what I live and breathe.

Andrew: I’m very nerdy and very start-uppy focused, you never have to apologize for that. Thank you so much for doing this. And to the nerdy and start up focused person who’s out there listening, thank you for being a part of this. If you’ve used any of this and it has been helpful, if you’ve used any of this and it opened up ideas let us know in the comments and find a way to let Rob now. Rob, what’s a good way for them to contact you and say, ‘Dude, it worked.’?

Rob: Twitter @RobWalling.

Andrew: I think that’s how we actually ended up doing this program. I saw you talk about something on Twitter, I said, ‘Would you be interested?’ And actually the first thing I said was, ‘Why didn’t we freaking think of this internally?’ Why do I have to discover this on Twitter and I think we might have gone back and forth on Twitter, but thank God for Twitter. Thank you for doing this program. Thank you all for being a part of it. Go use it and tell me how it worked. Bye.

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Master Class:
How to Win People Over
(Without Manipulation or Coercion)
Taught by Bob Burg of “Adversaries into Allies: Win People over Without Manipulation or Coercion”

Master Class: Adversaries into Allies


 

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Andrew: This session is about how to turn adversaries into allies. And it’s based on this book, my notes from this book, “Adversaries into Allies: Win People over Without Manipulation or Coercion.” The book is written by Bob Burg, which I’m happy to have back here on Mixergy. I’ll help facilitate. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy. Bob, welcome back.Bob: Thank you, Andrew. Always great to be with you. Thanks for having me back.Andrew: Do you have an example of the mistake that we’re trying to avoid here, with what we’re talking about and what you’ve written in the book?Bob: Well, when it comes to mastering people skills and influence, and what I call ultimate influence, there are certainly things not to do. And we have examples of that in the book, and one of them is the time I was driving with a friend of mine who had just recently moved down from Massachusetts. And he was driving, and got stopped by a police officer. And it was something, and I… you know, it was so long ago, I hardly remember what it was. But it had something to do with a four stop, you know, and maybe he didn’t wait till someone else went through. I’m not sure. But anyway…

Andrew: Mm-hmm.

Bob: …the police officer told him what he did wrong, and my friend actually said, “Well, that’s not the law in Massachusetts.” And, you know, I was just waiting. Was the police officer going to say, “Oh, well, I’m sorry, I didn’t realize that,” you know? “Oh, well I didn’t realize that’s not how it was in Massachusetts.” Or was he going to say, “Well, this is Florida,” you know? “This isn’t Massachusetts.” And of course that’s what he did, and he gave my friend the ticket. And my friend was absolutely flabbergasted that he got a ticket.

What he did was he established a very negative frame with this police officer. It was very adversarial, even though he certainly wasn’t trying to be adversarial. He just really said the wrong thing.

Andrew: I’ve done that, too, actually. Especially moving from New York to California, you just say, “Well, that’s not the way it’s done over there. Why are you catching me here?” So how would have handled it right? If he were to have read your book, and have been in the right frame of mind in the moment, what’s the proper way to handle it?

Bob: Well, he would have apologized. He would have said, “I’m very sorry. I did just move down here from Massachusetts, but I need to respect the fact that I’m in another place, and in that case, this being the law, I was absolutely wrong. I apologize.”

Andrew: Do you have an example of someone who turned an adversary into an ally at business that we can use as an example of what’s to come?

Bob: Oh, it’s done all the time. It’s almost to come up with an example is something I’d have to think of. I mean, any time that you are working with someone who maybe, let’s say, has an objection. And what so many people try to do is simply answer the objection. Actually, they try to overcome the objection.

Andrew: Mm-hmm.

Bob: And I tell people you can’t overcome an objection, because to overcome… the word “overcome” comes from the same Latin root as the word “convince,” which is “convinciere,” which means “to conquer.”

Andrew: To conquer.

Bob: And [??] your prospect doesn’t want to be conquered. [laughs] So it’s probably not going to happen. So you can’t overcome an objection. But what you can do is you can work within the context of the objection in order to complete the transaction.

What it comes down to, more often than not, is not necessarily having the answer for the objection. Let’s face it, there’s the other four, five, six objections we typically get, you know, in your business, and you’re going to probably hear them during your first or second conversation or presentation.

So you usually know what they are. And so you’d imagine that once you hear it once or in training, you know what it is or how to answer it. The person asks it; you answer it. Okay. Case closed. Sale made.

And yet it usually doesn’t happen like that. And the reason why is because typically, the answer to the objection isn’t the issue. In fact, often the objection itself isn’t the issue. In fact, often the prospect doesn’t know what the true objection is, only because they don’t know the process as well as you, the professional salesperson, does.

So they might say they need to think it over, or they might say the price is too high, or they might say… only because to them, there’s something that isn’t quite right. In other words, in their mind, even on an unconscious level, the value is here and the price is here.

Andrew: Mm-hmm.

Bob: Well, when that’s the case, they’re not going to buy. But so what I like people to do is, rather than try to just answer the objection, is to really get to the root of what that objection is. And you do that by focusing not on making the sale. You focus on providing value to that person, and understanding what it is they need, want, and desire, or what the challenge is they’re having, and you ask questions.

For example, if you want to just use an example, you know, the person says… A realtor shows a home, the person really seems to like it, but then says, “I think the house is too, you know, far from town.” Well, someone who’s just trying to overcome the objection might say, “Actually, it’s only 10 miles away. Not really far at all.”

Andrew: Mm-hmm.

Bob: “Well, I like to be close to where everything is.” “Not a problem. It’s a 25-minute ride on a bad day, and without traffic you can make it in 15.” “Well, I don’t know.” “But you like the home itself, right?” Well, you know, that’s not listening. That’s debating.

Andrew: So how do you get, then… I could see doing that. Someone gives me a logical reason why what I’m offering doesn’t make sense. I want to respond with logic. And I feel like, all right, at that point, I’ve responded, and we’ve eliminated the problem. If that’s not the answer, if it’s not to say, “Hey, let’s pull up Google Maps and I’ll show you how even Google says you’re not so far from town,” what is the right answer, then?

Bob: Okay. So let’s look at that, and see what the right answer is based on what the actual objection is.

Andrew: Okay.

Bob: And one of the things we’re going to talk about within the five principles of ultimate influence is the clash of belief systems.

Andrew: Okay.

Bob: And that is we think, as human beings, that everyone sees the world the same way we do, but they don’t. And so we need to ask the right questions to figure that out. So when the person says, “I think the house might be too far from town,” then you might say… you might say, “Could be. What are you thinking?”

Andrew: I see.

Bob: Now, [??] “could be,” you’re not saying, “It is, and let’s move on.” No. But you’re saying it could be. You don’t know. And it’s up to them. It could be too far from town. “What are you thinking?” So let them now kind of go and just, “Well, you know, we love the home itself, but we really like to be close to where everything is.” Well, again, that’s a little better, but it doesn’t really tell us what does that really mean.

Andrew: Mm-hmm.

Bob: So we might say, “Sounds like that’s really important to you. If I may ask, when you say ‘close to where everything is,’ are there some specifics you’re thinking of?” “Well, yeah. With our, you know, little girl on the way, and a couple more kids over the next few years, we want to make sure, you know, we’re near the, you know, restaurants, and entertainment, and shopping.

Well, you know, my spouse and I, we grew up in the city, where everything’s so close. So to us, 10 miles might as well be a lifetime away. And heaven forbid we have to get our kid to the hospital, right?”

Andrew: I see.

Bob: So at that point, I say, “Ah, well, that makes a lot of sense. So if I’m understanding this correctly, as much as you love the idea of living in this home, we need to balance that with your and Pat’s comfort level, being this distance from town.”

Andrew: I see.

Bob: “Let’s focus on that. Because, see, we grew up 100 miles from the city, so to us, ten miles is very close. What’s she talking about?” Okay?

Andrew: [??]

Bob: But to her, you know, she and her husband grew up right in the city, so to them, ten miles might as well be a lifetime away. Unless we ask the right questions, and unless we ask it in a way that’s tactful and empathetic, and we control our emotions and don’t get defensive, but instead we let that person… now we’re turning a potential adversary into an ally. She feels comfortable with us.

Andrew: Alright. Then let’s look at these points that you’ve got in your book. I’m going to bring out a big board. The first one, as you said earlier, is to control your emotions. So I came across this article earlier in the week… excuse me, earlier in the year. This is from a few weeks ago. Look at this. A man shot and killed in a parking dispute in West Philadelphia. They get into an argument, one person loses his temper, boom.

And I’ve never gotten to that place, but I’ve gotten frustrated there. You’ve also been in a situation like that, in a parking lot, where suddenly I think you guys were arguing over a parking spot, you said in your book?

Bob: Well, it wasn’t quite arguing, but it was… what happened was I was about to pull into a parking space, and I wasn’t paying attention as well as I should have, and I nearly clipped the guy with my car as he was getting out the driver’s side of his car. It was my fault. And he looked at me, gave me just a, you know, nasty look. You know, argh, you know, if looks could kill, I’d have been a dead man.

Andrew: Mm-hmm.

Bob: And what happened was, he reacted to that based on emotion. Hey, who can blame him? He was scared, you know. And he unconsciously set a frame of anger, and of hatred. And had I bought into that… first of all, had I been reactionary, right?

Andrew: Mm-hmm.

Bob: Had my emotions been in control of me, instead of me being in control of my emotions, and had I bought into that frame, you know, I might have said… and had my ego gotten, I might have looked at him and said, “Well, what are you looking at?” And he’d have said, “Watch where you’re going,” right?

Andrew: Mm-hmm.

Bob: And nothing would have happened as did in West Philadelphia. But hey, you know, stranger things have happened, and we hear about those things all the time. At best, it would have been very uncomfortable. At worst, you know, who knows what would happen. But I didn’t buy into his frame, and I was able to control my emotions. And what I did is I, you know, put an apologetic smile on my face, I gave him a wave, and I went, “Sorry.” And he

immediately went, “No problem.”

Now, the interesting thing is he was walking into the hotel, and I was fiddling with some things in the car getting ready. I walked in the door, and I didn’t expect to see him again. But I saw him standing outside, I guess the meeting room where he was having his own meeting. And as I was walking past him, I was going to say, “Hey, I’m really sorry. I should have been more careful while I was parking.” Before I could even say anything, he said, “Hey, I’m really sorry. I should have been more careful getting out of my car.”

Well, you know, what happened was we just took what could have been a very uncomfortable situation and reframed it, and reframed it from adversaries into allies.

Andrew: What about this, though? Sometimes it’s not so easy to catch yourself. I’ll give you an example. I once walked into my office, and I had a temp in here, and I looked, and she had all the things in our drawers over there on the floor. And she said, “Look, I can put this in…” What did she say? “In shelving units that we can buy and make it easier.” And all I saw was, those are my files. Some of them are pretty personal. That’s a hard drive. I wanted to just be really upset. And I don’t remember what I said. It wasn’t yelling, but it was rude. And I caught myself later on, and I said, “Why did I do that?” And frankly, this stuff is not that personal, and I do need someone with an outsider’s point of view to shake things up. And if that means tossing things out of the drawer, that’s good for me.

I only recognized that later on. In the moment, I was rude. In the moment, I was angry. How do you catch yourself in the moment, and keep from turning someone a little hostile? Turning an ally into an adversary? How do you catch yourself in the moment, is the short question?

Bob: And it’s a great question. And the answer is, you don’t wait until that moment to happen to try to change yourself, okay?

Andrew: Mm-hmm.

Bob: You put yourself into… really, you change your brain, in a sense. But it’s a lot easier than it seems. The first thing is understanding why it’s just simply not helpful to lose your temper and not be in control of your emotions. And that’s the key. See, it all starts with controlling your own emotions. It’s only when you’re in control of your emotions that you’re even in a position to be able to take a potentially negative situation and turn it into something positive. As human beings, we are emotional people.

Andrew: Right.

Bob: And we’d like to think we’re logical, and to a certain extent we are. But we’re pretty emotion-driven.

Andrew: I know I am, at least.

Bob: Yeah. And, you know, emotions are a great thing, and I don’t want anybody to ever think that I’m thinking, oh, you should be an unemotional robot. No. Emotions are great as long as we’re in control of those emotions.

Andrew: Mm-hmm.

Bob: I love what my great friend, Dondi Spumacci, says. She says, “By all means, take your emotions along for the ride, but make sure you are driving the car.”

Andrew: But so how do I do it if… when you say get your emotions in control ahead of time, what does that mean? Does that… what does that mean? What could I do so that in the moment, when something that’s unexpected happens, I am in control of my emotions, instead of just reacting to the experience I’m having?

Bob: Yeah. First, it’s understanding why it’s not a beneficial thing to stay the same way. Which obviously you’ve done.

Andrew: I get it.

Bob: And I did at one point, too. I had to, because I had a very anger… you know, I had some real anger challenges. Then it’s deciding that you’re going to now be in response mode rather than reactionary mode.

Andrew: Mm-hmm.

Bob: Then it’s rehearsal. It’s practicing a situation in your mind’s eye. It’s seeing that situation that would normally push your buttons.

Andrew: I see.

Bob: And we all have situations that would push our buttons. It’s, you know, we can… if we can’t think of one, think back to a situation like that. And see what happened, okay? And then go back to it, and picture yourself handling it perfectly.

Andrew: Got it. Got it.

Bob: Then…

Andrew: So maybe on my walk home later today, I might think of the time that she just had all the stuff out, and think, what’s a better way to handle it? It’s to say, “What’s going on here? What are you trying to do?”

Bob: Yeah.

Andrew: But in that mind’s eye, just keep practicing it that way.

Bob: Yeah. And there’s one more thing. And I want you to think of astronauts. An astronaut that, before they go up into space on a mission, they might simulate it 100 times.

Andrew: Mm-hmm.

Bob: Why? Because they want to get to that point that by the time they’re up there in space, when the real situation happens, if something comes up, they’ve been there and done that. You might say, “Well, it’s not quite the same.” No, it’s not quite the same, but it’s close. And as you know, of course, because you teach these things. The unconscious or the subconscious doesn’t know the difference between what has actually happened and what is a very strong suggestion.

Andrew: Alright. Let’s go to the big board. The next big idea we want to talk about is to understand the clash of belief systems. In your book, you tell the story of… what are their names? Dave and Margaret are two business partners. Dave says to Margaret, “I need these proposals soon,” and that causes a problem why?

Bob: Well, because, you know, a belief is simply a subjective truth.

Andrew: Mm-hmm.

Bob: It’s the truth, it’s subjective truth. It’s the truth as we understand the truth to be, which doesn’t mean it’s the truth. It means it’s our truth. Our beliefs as we…

We actually are run by an operating system. I call it our belief system. Our belief system is a combination of upbringing, environment, schooling, news media, television, movies, popular entertainment, popular culture, cultural mores. Everything we see, and touch, and taste, and smell, and hear, all these things. But, it starts when we’re very, very young. We get this information fed to us. We’re not thinking of it critically. We’re not checking premises. We’re not asking why this is true or why it’s not. As we grow up it’s the same thing. So, we tend to take in all this information which forms our beliefs, the way we see the world.

Now, the other person who you may have a potential conflict with, same with them. They’re also run by a belief system they’re not even conscious that they have. Here’s the next thing, though. We all as human beings tend to believe that everyone else sees the world basically the way we see it. How could it be any different? We don’t know any different. We just know our way is the way the world is.

That’s, by the way, Andrew, why you hear people saying things like oh nobody likes that. Or, everybody feels that way. Or even I would never say that to someone. Well, no, because it’s your belief system.

Well, it’s the same when it comes to misunderstandings like that. Somebody says it needs to be done right away. What does right away mean? For one person it means drop everything. It’s the next thing that happens. It’s got to be done overnight. It means I’ve got to not go to the ballgame with my kid like I was going to because I’ve got to do this and get it done. And then you bring it in and you’ve done your part. The other person hasn’t come through. Why not? Well, right away next week, you know.

What you can do is basically you need to ask people what they mean, but in a nice way. You need to ask them to define their terms. It might be something like Dave, just for my own clarification… Because that’s a tactful way to say it so it’s not a you message that puts them on the spot and makes them defensive. Dave, just for my own clarification, when you say right away, is there a specific date you’re thinking of?

Andrew: I see, yeah.

Bob: Now, it’s also the same when you make that point, when you say something has to be done right away. You need to make sure to say by the way, just so there’s no misunderstanding, just so I don’t confuse the issue, when I say right away what I mean is within the next two days by the clock.

Andrew: Got it.

Bob: Then that works, you know.

Andrew: I see, yeah. I find myself doing that all the time in this specific type of example where someone just started here working in the office, Anne Marie. I said can you, Anne Marie, figure out how we can, what was it, raise the volume on our interviews.

I said can you see how to raise the volume. She went and she raised the volume. I came back and I have someone actually check everyone’s work. I said look, the wave is kind of low.

I realized it’s because to me raising the volume means go all the way up. The green line needs to be at the very loudest. People can always lower it when they’re listening. To her, it means something different. It just means higher than where it is.

Bob: …[??]

Andrew: So, we need to define our terms. Always go back to that. If there’s an argument I might say what did you think I meant by raise the volume.

Bob: Exactly, exactly.

Andrew: Okay.

Bob: Of course, the best thing is to handle it before it happens.

Andrew: Right.

Bob: When I say raise the volume… Here’s what I do…

Andrew: Yeah.

Bob: …and you bring up a good point. When I hear a term, when someone uses a term, says a term, or I say a term, I try to remember to ask myself how many meanings could that possibly have. First, based on someone’s, different people’s belief systems and their interpretation. Also, different words do literally have different meanings.

I can’t tell you how many times, on a more serious note, where someone brings a challenge to me and they ask me this and I’ll question them. Because the first thing I’ll say to them is, you know, based only on what you’ve told me I don’t have enough information to provide an answer based on knowledge. So, there’s going to be more questions.

I can’t tell you the times I’ve heard, and I cringe when I think of it, people being asked questions that were really important to someone, and they just answered the question. But, they answered it based on their belief system.

Andrew: I see.

Bob: See, what our belief systems cause us to do is to fill in the blanks…

Andrew: Right, right.

Bob: …based on what we believe the world is. So, we make major decisions based on very limited information. Two people can think they’re talking about the same thing when they’re actually talking about two different things. While all these principles are important, if you’re going to be an effective communicator you’ve got to make sure both parties understand what the other person means and where they’re coming from.

Andrew: All right, let’s go back to the big board. The next big idea is to acknowledge their ego. You were at a… You were talking to a customs officer where it was an issue over your profession. What happened there?

Bob: Well, I was at the Toronto airport and…

Andrew: Mm-hmm.

Bob: And I was doing a program for a financial services company the next morning and when I went through immigration, when I went into immigration, I was stopped and they were checking, like they do, and she was very nice. She was very kind, but when she asked what I do, I said that I’m a speaker. And she said, “Oh.” And I was thinking, oh-oh. That wasn’t exactly the response, but she said, “What kind of speaker?” And I told her and I said, “A business speaker” and she said, “On what topic specifically?” She was asking questions that I knew there was a little bit more behind it.

She asked if I was receiving a stipend or a fee? And a stipend meaning a little bit of money and a fee being a lot of money. I got the feeling she probably would have been happier if I had said stipend, but first of all, I don’t like to fib. And also if she had checked she would have found out it was not a stipend but a fee. And so I said it was a fee, and she goes, “Well, we might have a problem here.” It was so very obvious to me that the problem wasn’t so much that I certainly speak enough in Canada to know what is needed and so forth. And they’re always lovely people. They’re wonderful people.

So I could tell this was a personal thing, and there was something going on. Well, I knew, first of all, I had to respond and not react. I had to be in control of my emotions rather than my emotions controlling. Remember if this didn’t go well, I could be sent right back home and my client would have been pretty ticked. I wouldn’t have been so happy myself.

And so I had to also understand that we were coming from two different belief systems. There was something going on. I also got the feeling – and I didn’t know this for sure – but somehow the ego had something to do with it. She was offended by something somewhere that I do, something going on. And obviously the correct frame had been reset somewhere in a negative way. So I knew I had to utilize tact and empathy and do my best to speak respectfully and kindly which I would always do, but also had to be really empathetic and try to find out what was bothering her.

Well, it came up fairly naturally. After a while she asked if I was familiar with a well-known American speaker, and I said I’ve never met him personally but I do know of him. And she goes, “Well, he was the rudest” and she went on a litany about this guy, about how rude he is. Well, that was it. That was the problem.

Andrew: Ah, okay.

Bob: I’m an American. I’m a speaker. He’s an American. He’s a speaker. Well, that was enough right there to trigger something. Remember, as human beings we are emotional creatures. And often our egos run us. And so that’s what it was. So I certainly couldn’t say anything negative about the other speaker, of course. It would be gossip, but what I said was, “Well, I’m very sorry you had that experience. I’m very grateful for your help in doing what needs to be done to help me get through so that I can respect the law and do my best.” She was fine after that. She was wonderful but I felt bad that that had happened.

Andrew: I’ve had that in business where I feel like especially in the tech world there are levels of greatness. Some people are considered better than others. I remember early on when I did Mixergy people would want to meet with me. We’d set up an appointment and then they’d just bail, and I thought they just don’t see me as a high enough level. They don’t see me on their level. They think that I’m too junior. They think that I’m not successful enough and they would just dismiss me.

And I realized only later on that that was my ego. They had issues just like I sometimes have issues, that they have problems. It’s not about me. In fact, what made me realize it was one person who bailed on me I found out later on he and his partner were splitting up. So it had nothing to do with me at that moment. There was no way he should have talked to me, but here’s the problem though.

I’m sorry. I’ve become much more understanding where anything that people do I’ve become very understanding of. Someone copied my website. I said, “You know what? Maybe it’s not me. I’m going to be understanding. And someone did something else. I was very understanding. Finally I had a friend of mine, Rami Sethi, over for dinner. He said, “Aren’t you upset that this happened to you?” I said, “No.” He said, “You’re being way too understanding. You’re starting to become a doormat. You’ve got to stand up for yourself.” At what point does my ego need to be expressed too?

Bob: Well, we’d first need to know. Is it the ego or is it something else? I mean, when someone does something like steal your intellectual property, steal your design, I don’t consider that a good thing. But that’s just me. That’s my belief system. It’s not something that in my belief that I believe is right and I’m assuming your friend felt the same way. It just may not bother you or it may bother you, but you’re wanting to so control your ego… I don’t think it’s a matter of ego, I think.

Andrew: At what point is it a matter of ego or anything…

Andrew: Excuse me. At what point is it my ego and so it’s wrong to react that way? And at what point is it just the right reaction because I’m analyzing things properly? How do you know the difference?

Bob: Well, I think you have to continually question yourself if that’s the case. The good thing is being aware and conscious that it’s something you should question. Most people will just go along and have feelings of either resentment or allow themselves to be walked on or their ego will be out of hand and they will insult someone else necessarily.

They’ll never be questioning themselves, asking why am I doing this. Now I want to go back to something that’s very important with your friend, saying that you’re being a doormat. Being a nice person should never be confused with being a doormat.

People often ask, “Do nice people necessarily finish last? No. Of course not. Well, “Do they necessarily finish first? No. Not that either. Finishing first somewhere, I think what they mean is being successful. Being successful is more than just being nice. Being successful is doing the right things in the successful process that allow a person to be successful and finish first.

But what happens is sometimes we confuse being nice with being a doormat. Oh, that person’s so nice they got taken advantage of. No, they’re not getting taken advantage of because they’re too nice. They’re being taken advantage of because they’re doing things in such a way that allow them to be taken advantage of. If you were taken advantage of by the people who took your website which, again, I don’t believe they were correct in doing that. I don’t think that’s a good thing at all. That’s your intellectual property and you did the work so it’s yours.

Again, if that’s something that you want to do because you want to give someone your word, that’s up to you, if that’s your belief system. I don’t think it has so much to do with ego as what’s congruent with your value system. So we have to keep all of that in mind when we do things.

Andrew: Alright. Let’s go on to the big board. I know we have just a little more time left and two more points to cover. The first is we need to set the proper frame. What does that mean?

Bob: Well, a frame is simply the foundation from which everything else evolves.

Andrew: Mm-hmm.

Bob: A quick example that I share in the book. I was in a Dunkin Donut store and there was a little boy, probably two years old, a little bit older, and he was walking toward his parents and he suddenly fell to the floor. I don’t think he was hurt, but he was obviously a little bit shaken up and stunned only because he intuitively knew that that wasn’t supposed to happen. So immediately he looked toward his mom and dad for their interpretation of the event. What happened happen but he was looking to them to see what happens from here.

And I really believe, Andrew, had the mom and dad panicked and started to get upset, “Oh no, my poor baby. You must be so hurt.” I think he would have started crying, but they handled it just beautifully. They clapped and they smiled and they laughed, “Oh, what a good trick. That looks like so much fun.” He immediately started to laugh and have a great time. Well, what the parents did is they set a very productive frame.

Andrew: Okay.

Bob: We can do that. Whenever we are about to interact with someone, whether it’s that person at the customer service desk, the government bureaucrat, or the person with whom we are about to be in a negotiation, when we go in with a genuine smile or a friendly hello, when we’re in a group and someone comes over, it’s a matter of opening up our body language to welcome them into the conversation. All these things create a good frame. The key though is resetting another person’s already negative frame.

Andrew: How do you do that?

Bob: Well, let’s go back to the person in the parking lot. That was a good example. I did not buy into his frame. Instead what I did by controlling my own emotions and decide to determine, not buying into his frame but determining my frame, I was able to reset his frame. And most people will react/respond what you do because remember they’re not necessarily conscious of it. If you’re conscious of it, man, you’re nine steps ahead of the game in a ten step game.

Andrew: Okay. Alright. Actually you know what? There’s one other story that I heard recently that is similar to one of the stories in your book. This guy, Larry King, when he started on radio I recently heard him say he was really nervous. And this audience is going to judge me and this audience is going to be critical. I need to do something.

And he said what he ended up doing was going on mic and saying, “This is my first day. I’ve never done this before. I’m not sure how I’m doing this. We’ll figure it out together. And he said by framing things that way they were on his side, and they couldn’t hold any of his mistakes against him because he said this is my first day. I’m trying to figure it out, and they were rooting for him to do well.

And he said that kind of openness is what set the frame for the rest of his career.

Bob: What a great story. And we have that on a similar level in the book when I talk about my fourth grade teacher, Miss [??].

Andrew: Who did the same thing.

Bob: Right. She addressed the class and she said… You know, where we’re all looking at her and wondering what she was going to say. She said boys and girls I just want to let you know I’m only 23 years old. I just graduated from college. This is my very first class, and I’m scared to death.

What she did is she welcomed us into her world. She let her guard down. She let us know she was fallible. Yeah. She let us see her sweat.

We’ve had that commercial for a long time ‘Don’t let them see you sweat’ by the antiperspirant commercial which is on two levels. One is don’t let… The antiperspirant will help cover up the sweat stain. But, the other intention is that well if you let people know you’re nervous the dogs and the lions will be upon you and they’ll pounce on you.

Most of the time that’s not the case. Most of the time if you are yourself, and you are fallible, and you let them into who you really are they’re going to be rooting for you. Now, let me just say a couple of things very quickly to this.

Andrew: Yeah.

Bob: Things are situational and in context. Sometimes, not letting them see you sweat is the absolute right thing to do. So, you’ve got to choose the situation. But, usually, nine times out of ten, no, let them see you sweat. Be yourself. You’re more relatable that way.

The other thing is that Professor Adam Grant in his excellent book “Give and Take” mentioned that in this situation where you do let your guard down and let them see you sweat you’ll have more credibility providing they also see that you have a high level of competency. Because if they see you’re nervous but you also don’t show competence, no, they’ll eat you up.

Andrew: Yeah.

Bob: But, it’s when you show, when you communicate competence while at the same time you’re letting your guard down, that’s when it’s really powerful.

Andrew: All right. Back to the big board for the final point here which is to communicate with tact and empathy. Lincoln had many moments where he should have just blown his stack, where people thought he was weak for not doing it, where they thought he was weak for not telling people off.

But, he kind of did. He used to tell them off in writing. But, he did something different. Can you talk about that?

Bob: Well, there are a couple of things. I think what you’re referring to, and this is a great point, is that he would write scathing letters to people. I mean he would let it all hang out. He’d have every invective, and every insult, and every point of disgust, and so forth and so on.

He’d write it. He’d sign it A Lincoln. Then, he’d put it in an envelope. Then, he’d tear it up into a hundred pieces. It was never going to be sent.

But, he was able to get that out of his system. But, what he also did which was very tactful is he knew how to deflect. He knew how to take criticism and really deflect it and take the energy out of the criticism.

One time he was approached by a reporter who told him how a fellow member of the government had criticized Lincoln. What did the President have to say about that?

Lincoln said hey, you know, I have a great deal of respect for that man. If he feels there’s a problem it’s certainly something that needs to be considered.

Andrew: Wow.

Bob: Well, the thing is he took the energy right out of the insult. He didn’t insult the other person. He didn’t act offensive. So, he was fine. It’s that sort of thing that really endeared people to him. Here’s a guy who was really… The cabinet he hired. Most of us know the story that they were enemies. They were his competitors. They were his adversaries. He turned them into the greatest of allies.

Andrew: Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book was about that. I’m listening to the audio book of her latest book, the audio version of her latest book, which is “The Bully Pulpit.”

She tells a story about how when he was governor of New York there was this parade against him. It was there. It was mocking. It was insulting. Because people were so upset with him. He went to the parade. He cheered people on. He clapped at them, and he laughed at what they were doing. By the end of the parade he won them over. It’s unbelievable.

Bob: Who was this? This was Lincoln?

Andrew: Sorry, not Lincoln. I apologize.

Bob: …[??]

Andrew: This was…

Bob: Roosevelt? Roosevelt?

Andrew: Roosevelt. Teddy Roosevelt. Thank you, yes.

Bob: Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely. I can see that.

Andrew: Yeah. Alright. Actually, I’ve got one more example.

Bob: Sure.

Andrew: We usually call these programs courses. You don’t refer to programs like this as courses. It could have been such an argument for us where you thought I was taking advantage, where I thought well why is he being so difficult.

The way you handled it was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. You called me up. You understood what was going on with us, how we communicate here on Mixergy. You handled it instead of with argument with such tact in saying hey you know what, Andrew. For me, a course means a whole other thing than what you’re doing. You won us over. We changed the title. We… Do you remember that?

Bob: I do remember it now…

Andrew: Yeah.

Bob: …that you bring it up. Yeah, but you all were very…

Andrew: …[??]

Bob: …nice about it, too. It was very, you know. I felt great about you all. But, I had the whole way, because the whole way everybody had done everything with class and with grace. So, to me I didn’t think anything negative. It was just a matter of our belief systems were different – in that case…

Andrew: You know what, though…

Bob: …defining the term.

Andrew: I guess maybe there’s a part of me that’s cynical. I used to believe that people would write these books, but in private they would act differently. That they would say be tactful, but in private they were aggressive.

One of the pleasures of doing this work here is interviewing entrepreneurs who say one thing in public, and then I see them in private and they’re the exact same way.

In this case seeing an author whose books I’ve read for a long time, and getting the behind the scenes situation where you could have been upset. Where, believe me, other people might have been upset. I know other people would’ve been upset. You just handled it with such tact that it makes me feel really proud to have you back on here and really proud to introduce your ideas to my audience. Thank you.

Bob: That means a lot to me. You just made my day. Thank you.

Andrew: Thank you. The book, I’m going to put it right here up on the screen, “Adversaries into Allies.” Bob, thank you so much for doing this.

Bob: Thank you. Thanks so much again, Andrew.

Andrew: You bet. Thank you all for being a part of it. Bye, guys.

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Master Class:
How to Work a Room
(Especially if you’re not a natural)
Taught by Susan RoAne of How to Work a Room

Master Class: How to Work a Room

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Transcript

Andrew: This session is about how to work a room. You know how you go to events, they’re full of strangers and it’s kind of hard to start a conversation with them, figure out what to say and how to make a good impression on them? Well, that’s what this session is about. Today, we’re going to talk about how to do that with Susan RoAne. She’s the author of “How to Work a Room.”Let me bring that book up on the screen. I read this so many years ago and loved it. There it is. “How to Work a Room: The Ultimate Guide to Making Lasting Connections In-Person and Online,” I read it years ago. It’s being re-released in its silver anniversary edition. I recommend you grab it. She’s also an in-demand speaker who speaks to large companies, universities and groups where people really want to learn how to engage, converse and build their networks. Thank you so much for doing this.Susan: It is my pleasure. Thank you for having me.Andrew: So, we got this big agenda here. We’re going to talk about how to start a conversation, how to exit gracefully and everything in-between. But here’s my concern. The audience is going to look at you and say “She’s probably a natural.” But you’re not. You’ve had mistakes before.In fact, there was one organization, whose name we’re not going mention here. Tell me about them. What happened there?Susan: It’s just, because I want to say it so badly. I went to an event in San Francisco, where I’m located. And it was for a charity, it was at a very hotsy-totsy department store.

I went to the event and literally nobody talked to me. I went up to people and it was the wannabe A-list people. And they didn’t know who I was. Because I wasn’t of their breeding. And nobody talked to me.

Finally, at the [??] break, I went over to one gentleman, who I found out, actually also went to the University of Illinois and we chatted a bit. And he was there because his wife, who didn’t talk to me, was one of the people involved. And I was thinking “My book had already made number one on Book of the Month Club,” but they didn’t recognize me.

And I literally was ignored, rebuffed. I’m 4’11”, I swear, I felt like I was 4’2″ by that evening. But then, I happened to, at the coffee hour, sit with two women who were older women, very congenial. And they happened to ask me what I did and was the week I learned “How to Work a Room” had been number one on Book of the Month Club’s list.

And for the first time, I was able to say “Oh. I’m an author.” And it made me smile. And they asked me what the book was about and they would look at me like nobody was else to talking to me but them. And I said “It’s a little uncomfortable here.”

And those two nice women made me realize that it was the group and not me. Along with my mingling skills. But it was so uncomfortable. I kept on saying “Why did I write on page 246. That would have helped me.”

Sometimes, it’s other people that make us feel very little.

Andrew: You know, I had many situations like that years ago. Where it wasn’t other people, it was me. In fact, I remember this one time, I went all the way from Queens, where my office was, to Manhattan where this networking event was. I spent an hour getting there, I paid my $45.

I said, “I’m now running a successful company. I should get to meet people.” And I remember standing there and the whole time, I was miserable, I was out of place. I didn’t know what to say. I said “They all know each other and they’re talking to each other.” No one’s going to talk to me and no one did. And then, I went home miserable and saying “I’m never going to go out again.”

It wasn’t until years later that I realized “Of course they don’t know me. I went there to meet a bunch of strangers. I need to learn how to get to know people like that.” And I used what we’re going to talk about today and I’ve gotten much better. Today, I can walk into a place and people feel like I’m the host of the party because I’m so gregarious and I’m so social.

Susan: Well, can I just play off of what you just said?

Andrew: Yes.

Susan: Because you just said the magic word. They think you’re the host. Please, I’m saying this to everyone watching. Every time you go to an event, and I learned this from Dr. Adele Scheele who wrote “Skills for Success.” She wrote this in “SUCCESS Magazine” in the 1980’s.

“Act like you’re the host. What do hosts do? They make you feel welcome. They extend themselves. They make conversation with you. They introduce you to other people.” That’s for free that we could all do.

We could all say, “Oh, have you met?” “Well, I haven’t met you yet, but you have met?” You become, one of the chapters I wrote in “Secrets of Savvy Networking,” “Yenta the Networker.” That’s what you do. You extend yourself. What you just said, I want to underscore that. You can be the host everywhere you go, because all you’re doing – and this is how we can switch our attitude – is you think of what you can do to make people comfortable with you instead of vice versa.

Andrew: You know what? Let’s jump right into that. That was going to be the middle section of our conversation. I was going to talk about it. But, this is a good time to talk about it now.

Don’t act like that guest. Or, move from the guest behavior and the guest mindset to host behavior and mindset. For me, what that means is, like you said, I’m introducing people to each other. I will even say have you had a drink, and walk someone over and help them get a drink, and…

Susan: [??]

Andrew: …just greet them. Walk over when they’re not talking to anyone and say good to see you here, did you see the beers or the wine or whatever there.

But, here’s the thing. I can do that now because I practice it and it’s comfortable. I think the person listening to us is going to say wait, who am I to walk up to a room full of strangers and talk to them one at a time like it’s my house, like it’s my event. That feels uncomfortable. Then, what do I say?

Susan: Now, the truth is it is uncomfortable for 90 percent of us. According to research on shyness, 90 percent of us feel uncomfortable in a group setting, especially strangers.

So, what I want everyone to remember is that you may be uncomfortable, and you haven’t heard this, and now you’ve heard it, they haven’t, so you have a leg up. If you will be thoughtful of the people that you see standing alone and realize they are more uncomfortable than you are, they’re probably one of the 90 percent, and if I use the language of business, it’s strategic, you can leverage all that.

But, how about it’s a very kind thing to do what you just said you did – is go over to someone standing alone and saying oh I’m glad you could have been here, have you seen where the beer is, did you see those chocolate desserts. It’s a little bit of small talk, but if you extend yourself to that person that’s alone and it…

Here’s the other thing. You said well who am I to say this. Well, how about who are you not to say hello? Let’s do the reverse on that. You’re smart. You have information. You have a network of people you could share. Plus, you spent all that time from Queens to New York. I drove into the city over the Golden Gate Bridge, and I had to pay a toll for that to be treated so awfully. But, we all have something. That’s, I think, what you miss.

Andrew: Give me an example of this. In fact, in your book you talk about a time where you went to the Northern California National Speakers Association. You saw a woman who looked nice and uncomfortable standing alone. What did you do with her?

Susan: What I did is I went up to her. She was standing alone. I didn’t know her at all. I just said oh is this your first time. She said well yes. She was really very shy. I just started to talk to her. I wasn’t on the greeting committee, but how do you see someone standing alone looking uncomfortable and not go over to them? So, I just went over and chatted.

We found out we had a couple of things in common. She’s a talented singer and I’m not, so that’s not what… But, I’d like you to know that I did not know that that woman was the daughter of the founder of the National Speakers Association. The most important thing is it’s 25 years later. We are still really good friends. We’ve opened doors for each other. We have connected. We have supported each other through life’s experiences and professional experiences.

If you look at the person and say well they don’t look like they’re dressed for success… I remember I went to an event and I was being a little bit of a snob. I said to one of the gentlemen who invited me to a partners retreat from a big firm… Everyone was wearing the same blue blazer. I don’t know. They must have had a bargain or something.

One guy was just wearing a blue sweater. I said oh look at him, he’s wearing a sweater. The managing partner said to me Susan, don’t be a snob. He can buy and sell everyone in the room. He’s not our client. We’d like him to be. He said something I hope I say over and over in my books. He doesn’t have to dress for success; he already is one. So, while we all want to look good, remember the person that might be a little under dressed, give them a chance. You don’t know.

Andrew: Especially in the tech industry. You should see. Dave McClure walks around, I think, in sandals, jeans, and a tee shirt that’s tucked into his jeans and belted up.

Susan: [??]

Andrew: One of the most successful people in the business. Tell me this. We now have the big idea here. Act like a host, not like a guest. Give me a few specific tactics that we can use. What are a few things that we can say as ‘hosts’ at these events?

Susan: Well, when we go up to someone very often they’ll be wearing a name tag. When you get a name tag put it on the right-hand side, that’s the link of sight with your handshake. So, it will be easier to catch a peek at your name if you r name tag is on the right hand side. Catch a peek. What do they say about themselves? What’s their first name? Where do they work? Is it their own business? You start with small talk so, the first thing, “Oh I see that you’re from wherever.” If you notice something, if they’re wearing a pin that indicates that they’re in some club or something, I don’t mean that…

Andrew: So, what you’re saying is as the host, your job is to go and meet people and hosts would welcome guests and that’s what you mean by mindset. I’m even looking for more specifics, like can I say to someone who walks, or someone who I just see standing around, “Hey would you like a drink, I see that they have interesting drinks there? ” Or can I say, “Can I introduce you to a friend of mine, it’s good to have you here. Is this your first time at our event?” That kind of thing is what you’re talking about. These are specifics, how about one more specific to someone who is in a room full of strangers, wants to play host?

Susan: Okay. What you do is if there’s food in that room, what you could say, “Gee, have you tried the Brie whatever?” Recommend something that’s in that room, walk them over to that table that has the dessert. And I’m going to tell you why you start with food. Food is something we have in common. Start with what everyone already knows something about. Food is a great conversation piece. And then it’s not really small talk. It’s something you’re inviting them to participate doing. And you can recommend and that is, I want to know that something is good. If you tell me it’s good, I’m going to try it.

Andrew: Alright and we’re going to get to small talk in a bit. Let me just close this part of our conversation out with one last thing. In your book you also say, you don’t just have to play host, you can also be host. A lot of organizations, especially meet-ups and organizations that have ongoing meetings, like to have volunteers. When you’re a volunteer, it’s your job to meet people. They will have you standing at the door so you can meet people. They will just have you as one of the hosts and encourage you to greet people. It’s your job it becomes easier. Conferences also, they will have volunteers be there and it becomes your job, much easier to do it.

Susan: Sign up [??]

Andrew: On to the next. Let me see if I can get this right. There, I did get it right. We’re going to go on to that first section which is don’t listen to your mother. Those are my words based, I think, on your book. I’m paraphrasing. What do you mean by that though in your book where you tell me don’t listen to my mother?

Susan: Okay. What every mother and father says, and it’s good advice, “Don’t talk to strangers.” That’s great advice when we’re five, it’s great advice even when we’re 15. When we’re a little older than that, and we’re walking into a meet-up, we’re walking into a tweet-up, we’re going to a conference, we’re going into a party, we’re going into a client’s event, that is lousy advice.

So, you have to look at the room differently. It’s not you’re walking into a room full of strangers, so I want to give the remedy. Every time that you know that you’re going to an event, in your brain redefine the term stranger. Who’s going to be in that room? Is it someone that works for the client? Is this going to be a group of your colleagues? Is it going to be an organization that you want to join and you’re considering joining. If you redefine stranger, think of what do I have in common with the people in that room, you’ll feel that they’re already not strangers. And that’s what our goal is. Redefine a stranger.

I never go anywhere with women, business whatever, we can’t have a conversation for hours and it’s always about our hair and the weather. And we never finish, it’s an ongoing conversation. Same around the food. Calories. It’s also about sports, oh here’s what I wrote in a tweet the other day, “Don’t assume every man talks about sports and every woman doesn’t.”

Andrew: Yes, I can’t talk to you about sports. One of the things that you say about, I tried. I tried learning about it just to have conversations, didn’t work. But one of the things that you say is that of course when you go into big events, you’re there to meet strangers, you want to get comfortable doing it. But in preparation for it, I really like this idea because it’s something that’s worked for me. You say go to places where strangers are encouraged to talk to you where it’s easier, like the supermarket, the movie theater, you say out on the links, I’m not a golf player.

But here’s what’s worked for me: Going to a Banana Republic where the sales people are supposed to talk to me and just talking to stranger’s and practicing there. Going to malls and go from store to store and just talk to strangers. I was really super shy but doing that made me so comfortable talking to strangers that then that momentum carried forward into events.

Susan: Well now you’ve heard out audience, you’ve heard proof. You know what I’ve also found? If you, sometimes talking to people in those incidental places . . .

Andrew: Mm-hmm.

Susan: . . . the supermarket, the places that we seem to be and always with a smile. You’ll see the feedback on their faces and you’ll hear what they’ll say and then you’ll realize you have made their day. You know how good that feels to you and I do this. I often will talk to senior citizens. Just because sometimes you might be the only person saying two words, they respond. I have learned phenomenal things because they’ll tell me a story that I didn’t know and I’ll learn some history.

So, I think what you’re saying with Banana Republic, how about this? We used to go to the coffee shops and talk to people but now everyone’s looking at their phones. You know what we’re missing? We’re missing what you just said, that incidental informal conversation that happens. I’m going to say I’ve been in New York and I get lost. People on the subways are so helpful.

Andrew: Yes.

Susan: Talk to them.

Andrew: And believe me. I go into coffee shops. They will put down their iPhones and iPads if I’m there starting a conversation with them. It’s all about the practice. For me, practice, I remember going to Vegas like I said, there was a mall in Vegas. I went to every one of those stores and just talked to people and then when my brother and I had to go out at night I was in like, talking party mode. I was all so practiced I could talk to anyone. Alright.

Susan: That’s it. That you [??] stayed in Vegas but you took the skill with you.

Andrew: All right, take that mom and let’s go onto the next point because I think this is an important one. Start off right. So now we’re telling people they should go to conferences, they should go to events and start talking to people. Big question is, what do you start to say when you walk to a stranger?

Susan: But you just start really incidental. Sometimes people [??]my name is [??] nice to meet you but really more casually, oh, hey. I see you’re wearing that or hey, that’s a great tie. What an amazing star for pin. Noticings. When people are wearing something interesting, they are inviting you to have conversation with them. I call that a gift of gab. So, really if you are observing and you’re noticing and playing off of that even if it’s a name tag that says from a city that you like or a city that you’ve heard of that has great ribs. Anything that you say.

Andrew: So, what do I say? If I notice that someone has say an interesting watch on like Steve Wozniak always has an interesting watch on or I see that they happen to come from an interesting place, Saskatchewan because it’s kind of fun to say. What do I say with that? Do I just walk over and say, nice watch? Kind of cool that you’re from Saskatchewan. What do I say?

Susan: Well, is it Saskatchewan, you know? That’s a . . . what you just said.

Andrew: See I can’t even pronounce it. What do I say?

Susan: What you just said. If you haven’t been there just say, that’s a province I’ve always wanted to visit or I have fun saying that. Is there a correct pronunciation or am I saying it correct?

Andrew: I see.

Susan: Really, sometimes it’s the off the cuff. I think what happens is we sometimes think of oh, my God, what am I going to say that’s brilliant? By that time the person’s walked away and we’ve missed the opportunity.

Andrew: Yes.

Susan: They’ve done research what they’ve found. You know what is the biggest conversation opener? A big smile and you are not going to believe these two words. Hi or hello. Now, for this generation might be hey.

Andrew: But I would feel a little bit uncomfortable. Now I’m walking over saying hi. The other person says hi. Now I got to talk. What do I say? You know what? Here’s what’s worked for me. Tell me if there are more ideas like this because I think this is a helpful path. I walk in and I say, “How did you find out about this event?”

I walk into a place and I say, Is this your first time at the event” or if it’s for a conference chances are it’s someone who’s a blogger who organized the conference. I say, “How long have you been reading their site? What do you like about their site?” Something about where I am right now I ask them how they came across it or what they like about it. That’s my hook.

Susan: That’s exactly the best thing you could do. How did you hear about it? Is this your first time? Are you a member? Would you recommend this? I think if we link our questions and comments to where we are and what we have in common . . .

Andrew: Yes.

Susan: . . . we give people a context to have conversation with us, but asking only questions is not conversation. So what I suggest is always say, bring your oar, O-A-R, observe, ask and reveal. So while you’re asking questions if the person doesn’t ask you questions because they might just be shyer than you are, offer how you heard about it, who told you about it, the people that you know. If you know that there’s a speaker that you think would be great . . . you know, hey, I heard so and so speaking here. That would be one that you might be interested in. So . . .

Andrew: Got you.

Susan: . . . bring [??] and questions to an event. Bring information, bring yourself, and bring your stories. Let them get to know a little bit about you.

Andrew: Got you. All right, so I go to Chris Guillebeau’s conference, World Domination Summit. I walk over. I see a room full of strangers. Or, actually in his case it’s a zoo full of strangers because he rented a zoo.

I say what made you decide to come here, or how long have you been reading his site. They tell me the answer to that. I don’t even wait for them to ask me a question, because they may not be asking me questions. I come back in and say hey, you know, I discovered him when Seth Godin linked to one of his eBooks because the eBook was so well designed. Don’t you think that Chris designs everything beautifully like that sign back there [??]? Then, I continue from there.

Susan: That’s perfect.

Andrew: Yeah? All right.

Susan: That’s perfect. Sure, because what you’re doing is you’re saying something about yourself. You’re also bringing in a third party who they most likely have heard of, Seth. Then, they can respond because they can respond to this, and why they’re here, and a bit about Seth. Then, you can get off into this conversation of design.

Andrew: Yes.

Susan: It can go any different number of ways. But, you help them.

Here’s the other thing. Help people make conversation. When you give them a little bit, you don’t know what the hook will be that will snare them in. Give them a little bit more. I know people, though, that’ll say things like get to the point. I remember saying to someone if I knew the point I wouldn’t have to have this conversation. Don’t get to the point. Bring, like you did, a little bit more in so someone can find what interests them.

Andrew: How do I do that? How do I give them these nuggets to use to ask me questions or to be interested?

Susan: Well, one of the things is you could say what brought you there and why you happen to have been a fan of that blog.

Andrew: Yes.

Susan: You could even bring in what you did that made you interested in the first place or who you heard about the blog from. Give them something. You could even say…

I don’t know exactly where this conference was, but there’s more than one occasion where I walked in saying the Golden Gate Bridge was so socked in with fog I didn’t know I would even be able to find my way on the other end. You can actually even talk about the weather. Because guess what? That’s what’s happening to everyone there. Give people a little something. It’s a little small. Focus it somewhat on business, but help broaden the conversation to pull them in. To do what? Make them comfortable.

Andrew: All right. Let’s go to the next point, because what you just said here is causing me all kinds of anxiety. We’re talking about small talk right now. You like small talk.

Susan: Oh, I love it.

Andrew: Why? When you were talking about the weather, you said tell them about the fog on the bridge. I thought oh now we’re going to get sucked into a conversation about the weather. I don’t want to hear them talk about the weather. But, that’s intentional on your part, because you want to draw them out with something that they could talk about.

Susan: Right.

Andrew: I’m offering…

Susan: …[??]…

Andrew: …them a gimme, an easy.

Susan: Yeah, that’s what it is. What you do to start is find the thing that has happening to everyone.

I once heard the research on CNN. The weather guy said oh we have one weather joke. And, they really do only have one. It was based on research of how you start conversations. One of the topics was the weather. Why? It’s happening to everyone.

Your goal: make people comfortable. People walk into an event. They don’t want to hear a thousand questions. They want to kind of get themselves oriented. What you have in common is the starting point. Should you stay on the weather the whole time? Only if you’re at the convention of meteorologists.

Andrew: I see.

Susan: Otherwise, then move. You segue. You move. But, you do start with small talk.

Unfortunately, if we always denigrate small talk… I want to tell you, when I wrote ‘What Do I Say Next,’ informal research, 100 great conversationalists, two very interesting points on the survey. One, not one of them denigrated small talk. They saw it as a way to get to know people. Two, of the 100 people I thought were great conversationalists, 75 percent said they were shy. But, they moved through it because they had to.

Andrew: All right. I feel bad about small talk because I feel like it’s a waste of my time. But, you’re telling me Andrew, it’s no more waste of your time than stretching is when you want to run. You stretch to get comfortable, and then you go for a run.

It’s not that I care about the weather or their opinion about the weather, and I don’t really, frankly, to be honest with you, even though I love them. It’s I need to give them an opportunity to get comfortable talking to me. Give them something that allows them to chat. Then, we can transition to something that’s more meaningful.

Susan: Exactly. The whole idea is you’re developing relationships. Okay. Now, I’m going to go to this next point about conversation.

Andrew: Yes.

Susan: We have a lot of questions we can ask people but if we’re only asking questions, by the way that’s not conversation. It’s generally an interrogation and someone like me, you get to that . . . I’ll give you a four question for tradition sake. When you get to that fifth question and you’ve brought nothing in about yourself, I’m going to go back to my Chicago self and say, hey, what’s it to you? What are you picking my brain for?

So if you don’t bring something of yourself in . . . so asking a lot of questions. You should have a lot of interesting questions in your mind in preparation, but if that’s all you do that is not conversation. That does not build relationships.

Andrew: Alright. I do a lot of that. I am an interrogator and just because I do it by profession, I need to slow it down. What do I talk about that keeps things interesting?

Susan: Well, we live in a world with so many interesting things going on. First of all, if you’re in an industry event . . .

Andrew: Mm-hmm.

Susan: . . . so much is going on in the industry. You could talk about the regulations. You could talk about the taxes. You could talk about the issues. You could talk about the latest eblast that they put out, who’s been getting awards, whatever is happening. Maybe there’s been a downturn in the industry. I noticed in the meeting planning industry there was a down turn now it’s back up. The speaking industry. I once was a speaker. The name of the group was NAPA and I’m thinking, I don’t live that far from there but it was like the National Asphalt Association of Asphalt Administrators. I don’t even know what that was.

There’s so much to talk about and I am going to share with all of us. We do need to be well read. I don’t care if you read it online, on your phone, on your wristwatch because you’re Dick Traci. If you just go through some of the top points, go to a curator, a [??]. I think I have the talk on the week, the daily beast. Some people do drudge. Pick up a couple of points of what’s going on in your community, in your industry, in your world. You have something to talk about.

Andrew: Alright. Well, actually I don’t know that what I’m reading is interesting enough. I feel like . . .

Susan: How would you know if you don’t throw it out there?

Andrew: All right.

Susan: I know. It’s like, I know. It’s like, okay, we want to be so interesting and so clever . . .

Andrew: Yeah.

Susan: . . . and sound so brilliant, but you know what? Sometimes it’s just really having the conversation where you find out that both of you lived on the same block. I went and spoke for Boeing. They were doing a leadership for some of their potential leaders. I did an exercise with them and we found out two of the engineers, PhD’s, yes rocket scientists, grew up in the same community a block and a half from each other.

One went to Catholic school. One went to public school. They didn’t know each other but they knew everybody that each other knew and that sounded great. I walked away thinking, how did you work together nine years and not have the conversation that figured that out. The conversation they started was about the crown molding in the room, go figure.

Andrew: I wish everyone was as good an interviewer as I was so that when I was out at parties they would ask me the kinds of questions that I would ask them and draw out and make me interesting.

Susan: A lot of people, in fact I’ve heard people say this in social and business situations, a lot of people don’t ask a lot of questions but there is a way to frame it so that you could present the information. You know, I’m often asked, that’s what we do at [inaudible 00:03:36]. You know, I’m often asked this and where you could share what you know. You are an interviewer by trade.

Andrew: Yes.

Susan: A lot of people won’t ask questions because they don’t want to appear to be nosy, etc. and if we say, well, we’re not interested then here’s my other thought and I had someone at an event that I was speaking at said, Susan, I don’t like to impose on. I don’t like when people come up to me, so I don’t want to do what I don’t like. So, I don’t want to impose on them and I want to say to them, really? Why didn’t you stay home? You don’t want to talk to people?

Andrew: Actually, I take it back. I do come up with stuff to say. What I’m looking for is more of a systemized way of knowing what to say. Like I have these systemized questions that are almost internally that I can start a conversation with a stranger with. I was in Cincinnati. I went to a conference. I didn’t know anyone at this bar in the middle of nowhere that they decided to organize their party in. I walk right in like a host like you say. I asked people how they found out about it. I started talking and then the conversation went from there, but I don’t know what I do after that.

What I’d like is some process that I could hand my audience and say, boom! Here, take this and this will tell you what to say after the first couple of questions and beyond that.

Susan: I think there are people that say that but here’s what my thought is. When you are listening to what people are saying, I think it’s an individual individualized package.

Andrew: Yes.

Susan: You have to be thinking of what are they saying that I can take out and then if you want to segue the conversation, how you do that is within the context of the sentence you put in a phrase that you can launch something that if they’re interested they can pick up and move on. That may not be of interest to them so you have to keep on doing it. I wish there was a system but there is one. Oh, I know what it is. It’s called listening. People tell you what they want to talk about.

Andrew: Okay.

Susan: You may not want to talk about it with them, but if you want to get to know that person because there’s another reason and they may have different interests, I think listening is the best system we have. Then what you hear is what you based your next question or comment on and let’s just say you know nothing about it.

Andrew: Mm-hmm.

Susan: I can’t tell you how much I’ve learned from people who know a lot about things I know a little. Think of it as a learning experience. It is a great movie called the Big Kahuna. Danny DeVito and I just forgot his name oh, Kevin Spacey. Two guys, they’re at the hospitality room. We want to meet the Big Kahuna. We want to meet the Big Kahuna and they bring the scientist with them and he goes out on the floor, comes back. I met a nice man and he talked about his dog dying and I actually yelled at him. How could you talk about the dog when we’re launching this product.

Well, I have his card. Turns out, coincidentally he was the Big Kahuna talking about his dog that died is what connected them, got them the sale. So, I think we have a lot of people with the mindset of drill, drill, drill and they’re forgetting some time opening up.

Andrew: All right. Here’s something that we can practice. We say practice your self-introduction. I wish everyone would do this. How many times have I asked someone about themselves. I try not to ask people what do you do, but if it comes up they go into these long explanations that don’t help me understand anything. What’s a practice self-introduction?

Susan: Practice. There’s three points to a self-introduction.

Andrew: Yes.

Susan: And an event. It’s not your one minute pitch because no one wants to listen to 60 seconds about you at a social situation especially if you have a beverage in your hand.

Andrew: Yes.

Susan: First thing about it, it’s seven to nine seconds. It’s a pleasantry.

Andrew: Mm-hmm.

Susan: Second thing is, it’s keyed to that event so you could help the other person by giving them context for why you’re there. The third part and I learned this from Patricia [??], Executive Speech Coach and phenomenal speaker. Instead of giving people your title which can be really boring, give them the benefit of what you do. If you can come up with the encapsulated benefit of what you do and even say it a little lightheartedly . . .

Andrew: Mm-hmm.

Susan: . . . you are helping people ask you the next question. They feel they started the conversation and you’re in one [??].

Andrew: Can you give me an example?

Susan: Oh, sure. When I was writing “What Do I Say Next”, I was writing in a coffee shop. It’s mandatory in Lauren and one day someone was sitting in my seat, so I couldn’t write and I saw this guy there every morning, 7:30.

Andrew: Yes.

Susan: I went over to him. I said, “What do you do?” He gave me the best. He looked at me dead pan and said, Susan, I help rich people sleep at night. So, naturally I thought he was a pharmacist but the reality is, he said, he’s a financial analyst, financial planner but what he did is by giving me that he pulled me in and gave me something to ask him a question about. It was brilliant and that’s what we need to do. Give people seven to nine seconds that little benefit that allows them to ask the next question that intrigues them but if you just say your title, that’s not so intriguing.

Andrew: So, can you give me those . . . I tend to unprocess things when I see them. Let me go to the board here. Can you give me those three sections?

Susan: Absolutely. First is self-introduction, is seven to nine seconds.

Andrew: Okay.

Susan: It’s a pleasantry.

Andrew: Oh, look. You can see everything above there. Yes, seven to nine seconds. Ah-huh.

Susan: The second is that you key it to the event at hand.

Andrew: Okay. I’m typing in the wrong places here. Key it to the event at hand, yes.

Susan: And then the third. Instead of your title give the benefit of what you do.

Andrew: All right. Let me make that a little bit bigger.

Susan: Especially when this is a business event and you might even be open to looking for new positions to go to. Give the benefit of your expertise.

Andrew: Okay. Actually, keep to the event. How do I do that at a conference? How do I do that at a meet up?

Susan: Keeping to the event is why you’re at the meet up. What brings you to this particular meet up? There are like, 30 meet-ups going on in San Francisco.

Andrew: Yes, I know it.

Susan: Yes. Why are you there instead of somewhere else?

Andrew: Okay.

Susan: What brings you there?

Andrew: All right. Let’s go back to the big board.

Susan: [??] that sounds like we’re on TV.

Andrew: I’m sorry?

Susan: No, that sounds like we’re on TV. That’s fun.

Andrew: I know. I like that. I play here like I’m on regular TV.

Susan: That’s good.

Andrew: Take risks.

Susan: Yes.

Andrew: What’s a risk I could take at a party?

Susan: Well, first of all every time we walk into a room full of people we don’t know, we are risking. We are risking egos because here is the fear. You’re going to go up to someone and talk to them and they’re going to either give you the look or the stare like who cares. You’re not that important. I’m not interested.

Andrew: Yes.

Susan: I’m not interested in hearing about the weather. I’m not interested in why you came here. I’m not interested in anything you have to say, so really we risk our egos. That’s the absolute first and that’s one of the reasons that I wrote How to Work a Room. We don’t go over to strangers. We don’t want to give them the opportunity to throw us out of the conversation or to make us feel belittled.

Andrew: Yeah.

Susan: Then it really is a risk.

Andrew: That’s the big one that I think of.

Susan: Yeah.

Andrew: Is there anything more risky that we could do? Let me see. You once went into an elevator and you saw three strangers.

Susan: Oh, that’s my best story.

Andrew: What happened?

Susan: I went into . . . I just was in New York. I had just finished a talk for Time Warner. Walked into this tiny little elevator and I faced three strangers in a tiny elevator. I was starved so I was on my way to the Carnegie Deli for a corned beef, so I didn’t know what to do. So, I just said to them, “Are we all going to the Carnegie Deli for a corned beef” and then I said, “And heartburn”, but I didn’t put that in the book.

It started a conversation and we got out of the elevator and we started to talk and it turns out they were all friends and they were all in PR and one of the gentlemen happened to be working at Comedy Central and he gave me his card and I went, “oh, my goodness”. This was if not when he is as popular as he is now. I said, “Comedy Central. One of my favorite stations. I watch South Park and I’m a fan of Jon Stewart. Oh, my God. I love Jon Stewart” and he said well, the next time you come let me know and I’ll get you a priority pass to his audience.

Andrew: I see.

Susan: Sure enough, that happened. So, you know what? You never know if you walk into a . . . if you walk into an elevator and do your elevator speech, I would like to tell you don’t. Do something impromptu off the cuff. Say something, but now here’s the other caveat and I wrote this in the book. Sometimes you walk into an elevator and you think, oh, my God. This is my opportunity but if you listen to the conversation it is not your opportunity. You will be interfering and you will annoy people.

So, what you have to do is read that tiny little room and make sure that what you have to say will not be considered not only inappropriate but interfering.

Andrew: Okay, good point. Onto the next. Use charm and chutzpah.

Susan: Yes.

Andrew: You have a couple of examples of charm in the book. Let’s see which one we should . . . is there one that you can give us as an example?

Susan: There’s so many. I think, first of all let’s define it. Charm is just something that you can’t put your hands around, you know it. It’s like that porno definition. When someone’s charming what do they do? They make us feel comfortable.

Andrew: Yes.

Susan: They have good manners. They never are off putting. They never put us on the spot. They make us feel welcome. They have a smile. They’re engaging. They’re embracing. That’s charm. They can spill soup on you, but they recover enough that you don’t even mind. The person that has chutzpah, it has to be in combination with his charm because if you have too much chutzpah as my grandmother would have said, that would be a terrible thing. It has to be balanced, but the charm . . . well, let’s just say, recently Nelson Mandela. What they’re saying about him is that they saw the leader but the of great humor, the man who put people at east on so many levels.

Andrew: How do you do it? How do you get to be . . . What do you do to be charming?

Susan: Well, number one, I try to be a little more vulnerable. Here’s what I tell my audiences.

Andrew: Mm-hmm.

Susan: Bring who you are to what you do. So when you walk into that room and this might give you a little extra confidence, put your favorite grandparent on your left shoulder. Put your favorite aunt, the person who thinks that you can no wrong.

Andrew: Got you.

Susan: Walk in with that person. On the other hand, if you put that favorite grandparent on your shoulder and you walk in a room, don’t do anything that they would say, “Tsk, tsk, tsk. What were you thinking?”

It’s a wonderful guide, but the charming people, the focus is not on themselves. The focus is on what can I do to make you have a good time? What can I do to make you feel at ease? What could I do to make you feel welcome?

Andrew: But then those people are often obsequious. I know that someone is going to listen to that, and they’re going to come to me at a party and say, “Well, Andrew, what do you need? Can I get you any water? Do you need another drink? I know you like whiskey. There’s a good whiskey over here.”

That’s a little too much. That’s not charming. That’s overbearing. How do we give enough guidance that someone could…That I could go and be charming? I would like to be more charming. I’d like the person listening to me to thank me for putting you on and say, “I can’t believe it. Now I’m charming because you put Susan on.”

Susan: You know what? If that were only the case. The truth is, there are people who in a room they say all the right things, and they’re still nails on a chalkboard. It’s not just about saying the right thing, it’s how you comport yourselves so it feels like it’s — I can’t believe I’m using this word — authentic. Just saying the words doesn’t mean anything. People can read and tell if you actually mean them. Start with saying them, but also practice saying them in front of a mirror and see if you believe yourself.

If you are constantly at a person…I know someone — boy, would I like to say her name, but I can’t — says all those right things, but none of it rings true. What we want, and that’s maybe the lesson of a charming person, no matter what they do, it rings true.

Andrew: I see. So the person who really wants to get me all those drinks and all the everything else, they’re not…If they really sat and were aware of their truth, they’d realize, “I just want to be liked right now.” That’s the truth, not that “I want to get you a drink.”

Susan: If someone want to get you a drink and they know your favorite bourbon, let them buy you a drink. But if the person that’s constantly doing it…Don’t do overkill. Don’t overwork a room. Be in the room. Make nice in the room. I once had an old friend from Chicago say to me, “They gave your book the wrong title.” “Really? What should they have called it?” “How to Make Nice in a Room.”

That’s what you’re talking about, because nice leads to business contacts. Nice leads to exchange of information. Nice leads to the relationships where people feel comfortable recommending and referring to you. Competent too, but nice where other people feel at ease around you.

Andrew: Alright, on to the Big Board because we’re very professional over here. The next one is Practice the Handshake, and then we’ve got one other one we’re going to talk about. Here’s something that I notice the politicians do. I think you’re going to catch what they’re doing. I could find any number of politicians who do this. What’s going on here? You know what I’m looking at.

Susan: I see. Let’s point out the positive. It’s a web-to-web handshake. That’s what politicians know. It’s not…

Andrew: What does web-to-web mean?

Susan: You give them grip. You don’t give them mealy, eww, jellyfishy or too much of a clench on the hand. The President goes over and he taps them on the arm. I think that’s what you’re saying. That, for some people, is an extension of being warm. Some people would say that’s a power play.

Other people will say when you really want to show your power, you put your hand over the handshake because that shows you’re more important. I think we play a lot of handshake games. I think the resident…At the time he was the President. He is the person in power. When I saw it, I thought it was a warm greeting. I don’t think it was a planned…

Andrew: I don’t think it was a power play, but it’s habitual it feels like with politicians. What you’re saying is web-to-web means all the way through, and as long as I’m doing the handshake… You’re a toucher, so maybe a touch on the arm… Here, let me if I stand up… Hand like this, and then…Wait, now you can see that I leave this unbuttoned.

Susan: [laughs] Yeah, I’m not getting up either.

Andrew: I only pretend to be on television. Usually, I’m sitting here in a t-shirt, and I say “I’ve got to look nice.” I put a shirt on, but I don’t button it all the way. But here, we’ll tilt in down here is what you’re saying. Put the hand out, and then the other one touches, or maybe I’ve even seen them clasp this way.

Susan: Yes, but I think it has to come from “Is this feeling right for this situation?”

Andrew: I see.

Susan: I’m from Chicago. I come from ethnically a long line of touchers. I’ve had to watch my touching, because in these politically correct, et cetera, am I being inappropriate? So I watch it. But if I have to think about it too much, that’s a whole lot more thinking than I’m will to do for just a hello.

I think if you what comes naturally, but you get your cues from other people. By the way, there are some people that their “Hello” is 18 inches from you, and there are other people where it’s 8 inches from you. Pay attention.

Andrew: Alright, finally. We have gone through this conversation at an event. Everything’s good. It’s time for us to move on. How do we get out but not make it awkward and not make the other person feel like we don’t like them anymore?

Susan: That’s the number one question I’m asked. Everyone wants that James Bond button at the bottom that they could just push and eject people from the conversation.

Andrew: Yes, what do you do?

Susan: That’s not going to work. What we have to do is have a couple of exit strategies in mind. Number one, people come to these meet-ups, they come to these conventions, to meet a number of people. What you do is when you see that they’re becoming a little impatient or they need to see someone, read their body language, but also know that it’s time to move on. You are not hurting their feelings. If you notice this, you’re actually helping them because they are probably a little less adept at exiting.

What you do is you interrupt yourself, not them. You put out your hand, because that also indicates a close of a conversation. “Hey, it was great to talk to you about the price of gasoline dropping in three of the five top states where it was costly.” I’m just making that up.

What you do if you take a couple of words and summarize what you talked about, they will then know you were listening to the conversation and not planning your grocery list or next IPO in your head. You’ve done that. “It was great talking to you about…” You summarize. If you want to exchange cards, whether you do it with your mobile or an actual card, “Oh, do you have a card?”

I had someone say to me, straight to my face, “Yes.” I’m standing here like an idiot. You said “yes.” How about giving me a card? I later said to him, “How come you did that to me?” He said, “You didn’t ask for one.” Please don’t do what he did. Let’s not play card games with people. “Do you have a card?” “Yes.”

Now what if the person hasn’t asked you for yours? You could say, and this is where I’d like to emphasize nothing will fail us if we use good manners. “May I offer you one of mine?” The person might toss it, but very rarely will someone say, “Oh, actually, no I’m not a bit interested,” unless they are completely off the social radar. See what…

Andrew: You’re saying the part I interrupt is I’m talking and then I say, “You know what, actually, I’ve got to interrupt myself and do…” What? Here’s what I say. I say, “I’ve got to go and say…” Actually, what do I say? It’s so tough. You tell me, because…

Susan: [laughs] Go.

Andrew: I think what I say is “I’m going to go grab a drink. Let’s talk in a little bit.” Or I’ll even come out and say, “We spent so much time talking here because I love talking to you, but we should go and meet other people. I’m going to go grab a drink, and let’s chat later on.” What do I say?

Susan: I have a friend that does this. She will say someone, “I’m having such a great time talking to you, I could monopolize your time all night, but I know other people are going to want to meet you, and you’re here to meet other people.” Similar to what you said.

Andrew: Yes.

Susan: I know people that said, “Oh my God, I could never say that.” You say what’s comfortable for you. When you’ve show up at an event, you’re implicitly saying “I came here to meet people.” So if someone talks to you, makes you feel comfortable, and then recognizes that it’s time to move on, that’s wonderful. If you pull off that, Andrew, that’s really probably the best thing you can say.

Andrew: Just be that. Move in and say it, and it’s…

Susan: I had one woman, she was great. She happened to be 92 at a speech I was giving. She said, “Excuse me. I must go mingle.” At 92, she could say whatever she wanted, but that was it. We were happy to see her be able to walk around the room. But say that. Say to the people, “Do you have a card? I so enjoyed talking to you.” By the way, this is the follow-up savvy networking tip. If you said to someone, “Hey, I’ll send you the URL to that article.”

Follow-up is key. When you get back to your office and home, do everything you said you were going to do when you said you were going to do it.

Andrew: Okay, all right. It’s been great talking to you. I’ve got to give you time to go talk to other interviewers. Thank you for doing this.

I’m kidding around here. Actually, that is one thing that I say. Here’s another thing that I say. I will not end it so abruptly. Instead, I’ll say I’ve got to run, but let me ask you one other question because I’ve been so curious about it. I’ve got to run, and then I give you one other opportunity to talk so that you have the last word and I’m not just disappearing on you all the sudden.

Susan: That’s excellent. That actually is excellent. I would say to all our listeners that’s wonderful. I would underscore that.

In fact, I’m going to quote you in the next book on that one for no royalties whatsoever. But, I just have to ask you one more question. That makes people feel important that you’re listening, that you care, and that you are not just running off.

Andrew: Yeah.

Susan: I want to give you, for those people that have other things, here’s how you do when you exit. When you leave someone walk a quarter of the room away. If you stand in the same physical area it does look like you’re turning your back. So, if you walk over to another person standing alone or a group of three or four that makes more sense.

But, there’s another exit. You may see someone. You could turn to the person you’re talking to who his alone and say hey, I see Joe, and I haven’t seen him in a while. Would you like to come over and meet them? That’s called the bring along.

Andrew: Okay.

Susan: If you help someone expand their network, especially someone who’s alone, very memorable.

Andrew: All right. I picked out just a handful of ideas from the book that has so many more. If anyone wants to follow up and read it, as we said, there it is being re-released, “How to Work a Room.” And, the website, of course, let’s bring that back up, too, just your name.

Susan: Just my name, Susan RoAne. Actually, we even have the URL howtoworkaroom, too. It’ll go right to the same place.

Andrew: Oh, you do?

Susan: Yeah.

Andrew: That’s really good. I also have andrewwarner.com. They’re very tough to get these days, to get your actual name. You have to jump on it.

Susan: I’ve got to tell you. I jumped on it 16 years ago. I’m like in my fifth iteration of a website and pictures. That’s the other thing, touched up pictures. That works really well.

Andrew: Good move. I ended up paying $1,000 for andrewwarner.com. And, I had to have a previous girlfriend go get it for me so it wouldn’t come from Andrew Warner trying to buy andrewwarner.com. And $1,000 is cheap.

Susan: Oh, I know someone who actually sold a URL for a million bucks and bought a home in La Jolla.

Andrew: Who?

Susan: Yes, he was one of these people buying URL’s years ago. Sold it for a million bucks to the person who actually should have it, and bought a home in La Jolla.

Andrew: What’s the URL?

Susan: You know what? I think it was his name that was the name of someone else very famous.

Andrew: Wow.

Susan: That was it, yeah. See? Now, I just want to say, listen to what Andrew and I just did. Off the side we had a sidebar conversation that could be considered small talk, but we found we had something interesting in common where he revealed a little more. I didn’t know that. I was like oh my God if someone would only offer me money for my…

See? That’s how conversations start. In your responses you have a great laugh and a great smile. I see your smile and I go oh he thinks I’m funny. First of all, then, I think you’re brilliant. Then, you have this connection. That’s what this is all about, connections.

Andrew: Well, it’s great to meet you. Thank you so much for being here. As I said, I read your book years ago, and I’m glad to introduce it to my audience. Thank you all for being a part of it. Bye, everyone.

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Master Class:
How to increase social media shares
(So influencers are promoting your idea)
Taught by Jason Galoob, Kyle Patrick McCrary, Stanley Lee, and Steve Young

Master Class: Social Media Sharing


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Transcript

Andrew: Hey, this session is about how to increase social media shares and it’s kind of a different one for us. We’ve got a team of people here who all helped promote a Mixergy Infographic that Lemonly created for us. I want to introduce you to them, and then we’re gonna work together to show you the process that we all went through to promote this Infographic and get tons of shares for it. Up on your screen you’re going to see Steve Young, Stanley Lee, Jason Galoob, Kyle Patrick McCrary, and Anne Marie Ward.Let me show you guys the significance of what we did here. This is what our typical shares are like on Mixergy. We don’t really feature it. We don’t really get much of it, but if you can look, you can, tiny, tiny, letters, see that we’ve got, what, 50 shares at our height, five Facebook likes, 19 for that one on the bottom, so we don’t get that many. And then, we did what we are about to show you today and got suddenly this many. Over, here let me zoom in, over a 1000 Facebook likes, hundreds of tweets, promotions on sites like Pinterest and places that are all over the place online.

What we want to do today is walk you through the process that we did as a team to promote this Infographic. And I want to show you one last thing before we get started and teach you how we did it. This is the Infographic. Let me zoom out a little bit here. This is it. But, whether you do it for an Infographic, or a video, or a new business that you’re running, or anything else, it doesn’t matter.

The idea is if you use this process that we’re going to show you today, you’re going to be able to get influencers to help promote it. You’re going to be able to get your friends to help promote it, and you’re going to create this swarm of people who will all help you grow. And we know that it works, because it worked for us. And here’s the process we’re going to go through to show you how we did it. And the first step is start with the spreadsheet.

Anne Marie, you’re the one who helped us get started with this. How many days were you working, or weeks or months were you working at Mixergy before I said, “Hey, let’s start this and would you be a part of this project?

Anne Marie: I believe it was a couple of days but then you had told me oh, 30 minutes before. I’m meeting with these guys who are doing some creative project. Do you want to be involved? I guess. So I really, when I stepped in, I didn’t know much about the project and what we were doing but I was game.

Andrew: Thirty minutes notice, you were pulled in, and by the end did you feel confident about it? Were you getting results, or did you still feel kind of new and shaky?

Anna Marie: It was exciting and I was confident because we were watching the increase in the number of tweets. I would go home at night and say, “Look, look, it’s working!”

Andrew: And one of the things that helped us do that is right here. It’s this, let me zoom in, what is this?

Anna Marie: It is a great spreadsheet that Lemonly had handed over to us, to say, “Okay, look guys, this is how you could get started. You enter in the names and contact information of major influencers,” and as a group, we brainstormed who would those influencers be? What target market do we want which we decided basically those who used webcams, and then, from there, all the guys filled out the spreadsheet, and this spreadsheet motivated me to create one of my own, which included all the people that you, Andrew, have had as guests on the show. And then I went on and emailed the guests.

Andrew: And this spreadsheet really became our guide, that we use this spreadsheet and I think some of us used additional spreadsheets to just keep ourselves organized. To help us know who we’re going after, how to contact them, and then, we just got to work.

Anna Marie: And then the date that it was completed so I would go online occasionally and look at the spreadsheet and see, “Oh, great, Okay. Now we have contacted all the people that we said we are going to do, what should we do next?” So it was a really good way to keep track of our project.

Andrew: What are the key elements on this spreadsheet? It’s names of the person, URL of what they do, what else? Email address that we filled out and we’ll show everyone later how to get email addresses. Anything else that’s critical to keep on this spreadsheet?

Anna Marie: Well, who wanted to do…

Andrew: Right, since it was a big team of people.

Anna Marie: So who wanted to contact…

Andrew: Who was going to contact them? Okay. And the idea is, over days, if not, if you have it, do it over weeks. Before the launch date put this spreadsheet together so you know where you’re going to target, right?

Ann Marie: Correct.

Andrew: Okay. Anyone have anything to add to that before we go to the next point? Nope. Okay. So then the next thing that we did was we said we have this spreadsheet, we have to fill it out. Where is that? So we want to find influencers, influencers who are going to help promote it, influencers who are going to help tweet it. And, Jason, you had this idea. Do you want to walk us through…what is this?

Jason: Okay. So this is a really… Well, when I was looking to finding influencers, the first question I had was, well, influencers in what area because what we were trying to do is we were trying to promote something that was related to webcam interviews, right? So that wouldn’t be as obvious as some other things. So my first step was to find relevant keywords.

And so I found this tool on a site called Twtrland. It’s T-W-T-R-Land.com, and they have a really great keyword tool. So what I did was I just started typing in “interview” on their search bar basically because their keyword tool is connected all throughout their site. And it gave me this list of really relevant keywords actually. So I was surprised. I was like, this is really great. So I wrote down all of those keywords, and then I wanted to search through Twitter bios to find people that would mention those keywords and connect to relevant influencers.

So the next thing I did was actually used a site called Followalong which is a Moz company. And I was able to search through all of the Twitter bios, and I got a bunch of influencers that I’d never heard of. A lot of them had more than 10,000 followers…

Andrew: Okay.

Jason: …when I searched through all my keywords. So I thought that was really interesting, and then the third step I did to find keywords was I went through… I guess actually there was two steps included in searching through the bios, and that was looking through the keywords that were relevant that I found on Twtrland, but also kind of poking around the landscape of what I found trying to find other relevant keywords. And I was able to find that actually Jobseekers was another really relevant keyword. So I just tried to get a sense of the landscape with those keywords, and I found more influencers as well…

Andrew: Okay.

Jason: …instead of poking like on the borders of it.

Andrew: And the reason we want influencers is if we’re going to ask someone to share it we want someone who will actually influence others to share it too, or, at least, check out what we’re sending out. So we wanted as many influencers as possible and in order to think through what kind of influencers to get and where they are, you said I’m going to use some tools that will help me think through keywords. And then I’m going to look for people who have their keywords in their Twitter bios, right?

Jason: Definitely. And if you don’t have keywords you can just use that Twtrland search bar, and it will give you a list of keywords. And I found that super helpful.

Andrew: Okay. That was this bar right here I’m using now. Wow, that’s giant; right there, right?

Jason: Yeah.

Andrew: Okay.

Jason: Yep.

Andrew: And, Stanley, you used this as a personal guide. What is this? To help you find influencers?

Stanley: This is logically all the situations that I could think of when it comes to… These are all the situations where all the people would want to look good in the webcam and also not have any of the issues that are mentioned in the Infographic.

Andrew: Right. Mm-hmm.

Stanley: So… Go ahead.

Andrew: So, for example, if someone who uses live stream to broadcast live video of themselves is probably going to want our Infographic which is aimed at helping you look good on camera.

Stanley: Exactly.

Andrew: Gotcha. You were thinking anyone who uses platforms like Wistia, Skype, Citrix. Citrix makes GoToMeeting which is what we use now, okay? And what did you do to put this together? Was it just a brainstorm session where you sat down and wrote it all out?

Stanley: Well, it’s kind of like a… The first version started as, let’s say, like a brainstorm session where I don’t access anything online, to just think about things, and then when I come across new ideas I just added it into the list.

Andrew: Okay. Of all of these, what was most effective? Who was the most effective group of people?

Stanley: The most effective group of people that I found so far, it’s probably the podcasters who also filmed video on the interview shows.

Andrew: Right. For example…

Stanley: For example, I actually approached Jaime Tardy of EventualMillionaire. She also has video streaming, an interview component, along with audio interviews for podcasts.

Andrew: Mm-hmm. Okay.

Stanley: So I actually sent her an email telling her about Mixergy has this Infographic out. I think it’s going to benefit you. If you like it, can you please share it on the social media.

Andrew: Okay. And we’ll take a look at that email in a little bit, but the idea is that you were saying to yourself, “Who’s using video and podcasters who do video based interviews are very likely to use video, of course. And they have big audiences because they’re podcasters and their job in life partially is to find big audiences. And so you went after them.

Stanley: Yeah.

Andrew: Anyone have anything else to add to this to finding influencers? This was where we spent a large amount of time. Kyle or Steve? Uh-huh?

Steve: I just want to say that the offline brainstorm is a great idea, and if you took the podcaster thing… I really fell in love with that Twtrland tool. So take podcaster and plug it in there, and it will probably give you other relevant keywords, too.

Andrew: Gotcha. That we might think of them as only podcasters but maybe they think of themselves as vloggers, for example, or something else.

Steve: Yeah. Exactly.

Andrew: And once we find that alternate, that synonym almost, we can start hunting for people who use that synonym in their Twitter bio.

Steve: Mm-hmm.

Andrew: Okay. Alright. On to the next point. Let me bring it up. Here’s the big board. The next big idea is now we’ve got all these influencers. We know who we want. It’s time to get their email addresses, and the thing about influencers is that they don’t make their email addresses publicly known because they don’t want them to be flooded.

And, Steve, you have this really cool process for finding email addresses that I’ve used ever since you showed it to me. Here is a spreadsheet that’s based on what you gave me, and I kind of expanded on it so the whole team understands exactly what it is. And we’ll give everyone who’s listening to this a copy of this spreadsheet. Please only do good things with it, but, Steve, what are we looking at it here?

Steve: Yes, this is a spreadsheet that will put in the different variations. If you think about email addresses, there’s probably about seven or eight very popular variations of an email address. So it could be Steve.Young@Marchew [sp] or Steve@Marchew, whatever it is, and I’ve just made it easy. So all you’ve got to do is put in the first name, last name, and their website, and this spreadsheet will give you all the different variations, other email addresses, along with what I think their Gmail address may be. So I’m assuming that most people join Gmail a little bit later in life. So maybe it’s first name.last name@gmail.

Andrew: Okay. And then what you did is you have that last yellow line there is a combination of all the variations that are likely to be the person’s email address. We actually plugged yours in. We plugged in SteveYoungSmartShoot.com, and we came up with potentially Steve@SmartShoot.com, Steve.Young@SmartShoot.com, SteveYoung, et cetera. So you copy all that and use a tool called – Where is that? There it is. How is Rapportive intended to be used before we go into what you do with it?

Steve: Rapportive is sort of intended for you to sort of build a rapport. That’s why the name “rapport” is in there. But anyone that we’re communicating very often with, you get to see their social media profile. So from their Facebook, their Twitter, everything. Their online presence, you’ll see it on there. And so one way to build a rapport in a case you’re trying to close a big sales deal is to kind of look through their Twitter profile and see what they might be tweeting about or what they may have problems with. You can incorporate that into your email. And so that’s the right way to use Rapportive.

Andrew: So you type in Steve Young’s email address. Now instead of having to hunt through Twitter for his recent tweets and Facebook for information about him and LinkedIn for his recent job, Rapportive just shows it on the right margin. So what are you doing with it?

Steve: [laughs] I like to use it to find different people’s email addresses. And so Rapportive, what I’ll do is I’ll copy that spreadsheet, all the different variations, and I’ll put it into the “to” field of your Gmail. Rapportive, you’ll got it solid within your Gmail, first and foremost. And then after you do that you can then copy and paste all the different variations, and you hover each different variation.

Andrew: This is what it looks like…

Steve: Yeah.

Andrew: …when it’s right.

Steve: Right. And so here, this is where we found it. And so Steve@SmartShoot didn’t work but Steve.Young@SmartShoot worked, and it showed me a picture of who I am, all the links to my social media profiles, and then my title, everything else. Now I get a sense that this is Steve. This is the guy I want to reach. I’m going to email Steve right now.

Andrew: And you just mouse over each one of those variations that the spreadsheet gave us, and the right one will cause a photo to pop up on the right margin. You also gave me this screenshot. What is this?

Steve: Yeah. So, this is the Gmail auto populator. I don’t know if there’s a real name to this but essentially I’ve used this where Rapportive didn’t find any match. And so, on the right hand corner of your Gmail you would just see blank pictures. But, if you look over at Gmail, and this is great when you have somebody’s Gmail account, they’ll show you their Google+ image. That’s one way where I couldn’t I find their @mixergy.com domain email but when I found their Gmail address, the different variations that I have, I can actually see a picture pop up for their Google+ profile. And that’s when I know that I have the right email address.

Andrew: Okay. I wanted to interview the founder of GoldieBlox on Mixergy because she was in the news. I didn’t know her email address. I don’t think we have any friends in common. I just did this exact process and I came up with her Gmail address. I came up with two GoldiBlox email addresses. It totally works. Anyone find a guest through this process or another process? Kyle, I see you’re nodding.

Kyle: I just use the Google+ by typing in the name, the different emails, drawing a few separate emails, and see the picture pop up and you know that’s the jackpot through the email. If you don’t receive an error back then hopefully it got through.

Andrew: So you aren’t even installing Rapportive, just the built-in Gmail ability was enough for you?

Kyle: Yeah. Yeah, it was.

Andrew: Okay.

Steve: I can usually find an email address just by taking the suffix like ‘@smartshoot.com’. If you take the first name, space last name, space ‘@smartshoot.com’, and do a Google search a lot of times it will come up. I’ve had a lot of luck with that formula.

Andrew: So, if you wanted to find Andrew Warner via Google this process, what would you do? It’s Andrew, space Warner, ‘@’?

Steve: I would do Andrew space ‘@mixergy.com’ and see what came up.

Andrew: Gotcha. Okay. And just pop that into Gmail and there’s a good chance that you’ll come up by email?

Steve: Yeah. Sometimes you can extend it by just using the first initial or the last initial and put that into the variables. And yeah, a lot of times it’ll come up. In articles, you know, different places.

Kyle: Yeah. I second that. I use the exact same method and to be quite honest one thing that I did after hearing the ways that Stan, Steve, and Jason, the ways they found people, I also just Googled how to find to find people online and that actually popped up with a few extra things.

Andrew: Anything thing that was especially helpful that we can share with the audience? If it worked for you, I want to know about it.

Kyle: No. You all hit the key ones. I don’t think I found anyone else through the other methods.

Andrew: Okay.

Kyle: So I think you all hit on the most important one.

Andrew: For me I find that spreadsheet and this Rapportive process gets it so fast that I almost don’t want to check anything else and don’t need to check anything else. GoldieBlox is a great example. I just typed it in and got her email address. Okay. Anything else before we move on? Nope? Let’s do it then.

Next big one is now we got their email addresses, it’s time to draft the email itself. We talked about this before guys and we could have tweeted at them. We could have LinkedIn them. We could have Facebooked them, but we all used email and it worked best. Right? Ann Marie, you’ re nodding. Best approach email.

Ann Marie: It’s true. Yes.

Andrew: Okay.

Ann Marie: I even received responses email back from people saying, “Oh, I tweeted it.” I didn’t have to go check to see if they tweeted.

Andrew: That’s the cool thing.

Ann Marie: Everybody was awesome. Your guests are amazing.

Andrew: What you did was you said, “You know what, Andrew? The people who you’ve interviewed are really connected to you. You should ask them to tweet this Infographic out.” And you put together a list of all the people I interviewed recently. You got their email addresses because they were in our address book and they tweeted it out. I think, by the way, I want this to be universally applicable. You don’t have to have an Infographic. You don’t have to have to do interviews the way I do.

I believe that if someone has, say, a new product or before we get into this drafted email let’s talk about this. If someone has a new product, a new video, a new blog, a new whatever, if they just contacted people who they know who are in their address book and went through this process, do you agree that it would work for them too? Yeah? You’re all nodding?

Ann Marie: Yes.

Steve: I think you’d have to find people that are willing to spend the time on it. That would be the only challenge, I think.

Andrew: You mean, find a team of people who help out?

Steve: Yeah. That would be open to really helping. I mean, take the time to do it.

Andrew: Yeah. You’re right. We did this as a team. If we did it individually it would take at least six times as long and maybe produce fewer results because each new person brings on a whole new kind of creativity that more time couldn’t compensate for. Right? So, Jason, for example. You’re coming up with processes that I could spend twice as much time and still never come up with them.

Jason: Yeah. And one thing that you have going for you is that we all love what you do. So hopefully you can find a way to get people interested in the process.

Andrew: Thanks. That’s a good point. Alright. So get a team together if you can, work through this process, either way. Yes, Kyle?

Kyle: Also I want to note that one thing I take from this was even if you’re trying to reach out to one person, say you just wanted to contact that person using this metric, after doing work on this project now probably constant, that I can get you a hold of a lot of people that I had known forth with that I don’t have any connection to if you just use this method. You don’t necessarily need a team. Yeah, if you want to promote but just using it as a networking tool You can use this method with the same process.

Andrew: All right. So let’s talk about now drafting the email, asking them for results. Kyle, since we’re talking with you now, who is this Brian? Walk me through what you did right here.

Kyle: Let me see what they’re… Brian from CopyBlogger. Let’s see, he was on the spreadsheet. I’m going to pull the spreadsheet up real quick.

Andrew: We were thinking CopyBlogger is a site that’s aimed at podcasters and bloggers whose audience is filled with people who broadcast. If he can tweet out it’ll help us.

Kyle: Exactly. So I got the name off the list and… You actually sent a template. I don’t know if you have that pulled up but you sent a small kind of, “Hey, guys, send out emails. People want to use this method.” So I kind of used a little bit of that method. It was compliment them to begin with. Tell them what you’re doing and compliment them again and thank them. That’s basically the method I used. The keys that I pay attention to were I want to be first. Of course, that’s one of the biggest ways that you can gain rapport immediately. I suggest being very personal.

So I was really honest with Brian, and I got a hold of a couple of other people who responded through email. And really what I did was I started the compliment after checking out their website or whatever they did. Brian, for example, I went to CopyBlogger.com or Chris Tucker, I got a hold of him. I went to his blog and I would read some of his blogs. I would take the time to read or find something I was personally attracted to.

Obviously, they have some good content. So I wanted to get a hold of that content and figure out what they were offering to their viewers, and then at that point I had something to compliment them on. It wasn’t just I came up with a compliment. It was, “Hey, I really like this.” For example, in Brian’s email it was, “I really enjoyed the influence your site offers to entrepreneurs like me, and your content is top notch which is why I decided to contact you.”

That’s a very broad statement, but it’s completely true. That’s the key. I don’t want to make up a compliment to him. I told him exactly what’s going on. I’m friends with Andrew Warner. He asked me to find following websites to share this Infographic with, and I picked you as one person that I figured would be interested. I gave him the link and, let’s see, the rest of the email consisted of just letting me know that I think CopyBlogger and his followers at Google would benefit from it. I really wanted to stress that point. So I tried to make as concise as I could while still having some really pertinent information to ask why he would want to share it with people.

So I complimented him. I told him what I was doing very briefly and then told him how he could use it. It’s not so much how he could use it but how his followers could use it. Of course, that’s why most of these people that we were trying to get a hold of, they’re bloggers. They’re getting key information to their bloggers so keywords letting them know that this information was what their followers needed. So that’s basically the method that I use. It works pretty well. I got a good response.

Andrew: Okay. And we’ll get everyone that’s listening to this a copy of the template that we used. It was just a guide, but it was a helpful guide. I’m glad that it worked for you. It just didn’t result in CopyBlogger, one of all of our favorite bloggers tweeting out. He also sent this out. He emailed you right back and he sent this to you. “Kyle, thanks, just tweeted it. Tell Andrew I’d love to be on the show some time if he’ll have me”…

Andrew: Of course, I’ll have him. I love Brian. One of the guys who helped me understand how to blog, how to write, how to be a human being, not just be a robot online. And because it was so heartfelt, what you sent out, the response that we got from him was so positive. Alright.

Kyle: Well, that’s where the networking thing comes into play, we know you know a lot of people for the promotion and end up actually evolving our force and next time, say you’re promoting something else, you have this one person that, if they like your content, they’re very likely to promote it again.

Andrew: We have one other email that we talked about earlier from Stanley.

Stanley: Yep.

Andrew: This is to Jaime, what is your thought process behind the way that you contacted other people? Jaime Tardy, who also does interviews on her site.

Jason: Right, so I just went on her website and saw she’s having webinars, and the first sentence just asked, “How’s it going?” And then it kind of stands out from probably most other emails that influencers get, which it’s asking them to promote something or sell them something. So I think that would stand out. And then I just used the basic copy, added some benefits that were relevant to her based on the previous process I just talked to you about. And then in the PS, I listen to one of the interviews and she mentions something, and I thought about adding that personal note in there. Usually, the PS, it’s actually read by a lot of people, like direct mail or email pieces, so I just thought adding that all in when it’s applicable.

Andrew: Yes. I like how you and I think, everyone here basically said, check out the website of the person who you’re asking for a tweet or asking for help with promoting, and you did a great job here of including what you saw on her website. “How did your webinar go? Hope it went well.” And then you ask, as a result, here is what she sent back to you. She tweeted, and she liked the Infographic so much she asked where was it made because it looks nice and not only did we learn this whole process from Lemon.ly, but they also taught us how to promote. So we’re able to give them a recommendation with Jaime. Alright, anyone else? I know, one last thing, Jason, you’ve got to go, do you have a couple more minutes, Jason?

Jason: Of course.

Andrew: Okay. Great. So anything else, anything about email, any other tip about what to say in an email, what to do to get results? Yeah, Steve?

Steve: Andrew, I think it’s important to point out that the subject line that you crafted is beautiful. It says, I added the person’s name, but it says, “I thought of you and website when I saw this”, and I think that’s very compelling in terms of “I got that email address, somebody’s actually thinking about me”, makes you want to open it a little bit more, and whatever website that it…

Andrew: Okay. We’re going to include that and make sure to give that to everyone. Again, it’s a guideline and it’s just a way of saying, “Hey, think about the person and also think about their site before you send out the email” Jason, yeah?

Jason: You know, one of the pieces of gold that I got from Mixergy that I hold with me, is that when you’re asking one of your, a lot of times these influencers will be kind of like our idols, so to speak. You know they’re like guys like one day, I’ll talk to that guy, one day I’ll work with that guy. So you can kind of ask for anything as long as you give them an easy out.

And I don’t know, if that’s applicable here because it’s just a tweet. It’s not like a big deal, but one of your guests once said, “if you’re asking someone for something and you give them an easy way to say ‘no’, you kinda, and you don’t give them, “You don’t want to do it, that’s cool, I still love you” or your blog, whatever it is, that’s really helpful because that keeps the relationship kind of smooth. And I always remember that when I’m asking someone, through email, to do something.

Andrew: You’re so right. I grew up reading Guy Kawasaki’s books. When I wanted to start a business, or I did start a business, I remember reading his books about entrepreneurship and thinking, “This is so practical, I wish that everything I learned in school was like that”. I asked him to help out this conference in LA by coming out and speaking there, and I gave him an easy out and he actually took it, he said, “no, I’m not doing it”. But because of that, I was able to then go back and reconnect with him, and reconnect with him, and over the years, he’s one of the people who has helped me out more than anyone by doing interviews, by being there for a course, by doing all kinds of stuff. And its just like you said, give them the easy out. It’s not about the result today, it’s about just continuing that relationship or starting it.

Jason: Mm-hmm.

You know what I actually did? I think the first email I sent out was, “Would you do this, speak at this conference that’s coming to LA that I’m volunteering with?” He said, “no”, and we went back and forth a little bit afterwards about other things, like how much I love his books. I think the next time I asked him to do an interview or asked him to do something, I just hit reply on that original thread, just to show, “Hey, I’m not just a guy out of nowhere. We had this great conversation.” But if you’re interested in doing a Mixergy interview, here’s all all you have to do. So he got to see the context and got to respond.

Alright, I want to be aware of the time, so let’s go back here to the very last section here which is, “Learn from our mistakes”. Here at Mixergy, we weren’t perfect, we were just following a process. We did it well, but we also learned some things from it. I have one mistake in mind, but I’ll save it because maybe one of you has a mistake. Maybe one of you has thought of this exact mistake, but is there one thing that you think that you wish we would have done differently? Or when we do this again or when you do it again for your project you could do differently? Anyone want to start us off? Ann Marie, maybe?

Kyle: I can, so one thing.

Andrew: Mm-hmm.

Kyle: Or one thing that I mentioned earlier, I related to you, Andrew, was maybe just trying to promote it again just to see, after we go through our initial list of people, trying it again, just because it never hurts, playing around with it, experimenting with it.

Andrew: I see. We went through one round where we really focused on that one day that we launched, which was Thursday, and then continued Friday, petered off by the following Monday, but you’re saying, “Hey, how about another round where we come back and you hit the people who said ‘no’ or didn’t respond and say ‘would you tweet it?'” Or maybe actually I found myself a week later thinking, “Oh, I wish I thought of this guy”. So you’re saying, “Don’t just make it about the initial launch, you could keep it going.” Okay.

Kyle: Exactly. And it doesn’t hurt, if it’s the main thing there.

Andrew: Hey, Ann Marie, how about the fact that I just grabbed you here to be on camera and I just tossed it at you last minute and said, “Hey, do you have something before we even discussed it”? Does it stink to work here at Mixergy?

Ann Marie: Does it stink to work…

Andrew: Does it stink to work here at Mixergy because I just keep tossing stuff at you out of the blue?

Ann Marie: I love it.

Andrew: Oh good.

Ann Marie: I actually love it. And one mistake that we could have but the spreadsheet prevented us from having is contacting one person multiple times. Like we all could have hit up one person but we have the spreadsheet to really give us a way of saying “We’re doing this person, and so we won’t hit them up as well”. That could be a possible mistake but we prevented it through that spreadsheet.

Andrew: Yeah, you know what, I didn’t think of it at the time, but that would have been so painful if I don’t know, Jason Calacanis might have gotten five emails, one from each of us, “Hey, would you tweet this out?” That’s a good point. Jason, yeah?

Jason: Well, another idea, just following up, for example, like I reached out to one of your past guests without saying his name on air, but he just happened to be very busy, but I really think that if I were to follow up with him and say “Hey, did you get my email. I just think this is a really useful Infographic. Maybe you want to help spread the word.” I think he probably would, knowing his personality. So I think following up, keeping a list, and if people don’t tweet about it, just ask them again, “Did you get my email, and if not, cool, but I just want to make sure you saw it”.

Andrew: Yeah, that’s a good point. Sometimes, I miss emails or I wish I could get to them and I don’t get to them in time. A reminder helps. So follow up without being a jerk. How many times would you say following up is okay or how many days in between?

Jason: For you, like every day, for two weeks.

Andrew: [laughs]

Jason: I would just do like three days later I would just do a follow up, I wouldn’t for these kind of guys, I wouldn’t probably follow up more than that.

Andrew: Okay. Yeah, Steve?

Steve: Hey, Andrew, so one thing I would have liked to test is making it easier for people to tweet. There’s a site called “click-to-tweet”, and I use this very often when we’re at a conference. I meet somebody. I’m like, what we’ve been doing is giving out free head shots, and I’ll say “Hey, thank the conference of organizers”, and spreadsheets to that for the [inaudible 33:53] conference, and I just put this little click-to-tweet, little button at the PS and they do it. It does great, and so I think one thing I would love to test is make it easier for them to tweet, and just say, “Hey, click here to tweet it out. They don’t really have to go into the content. They just wanted to share the content.

Andrew: That’s the one that I was thinking of. I really regret that we didn’t do that, that we didn’t give them one link that they could click on that they could automatically pre-populates, doesn’t tweet on their behalf, but pre-populates a tweet with the words that we found worked best. And so that we’re more likely to get clicks on that tweet and also to just make it easier for them so they don’t have to write the tweet themselves. Or even copy and paste our tweet into the Twitter box. Yeah, I got a few responses from people that said, “If you do this, your conversions will be higher” or “You’ll make it easier for us”. How about you, Stanley, any big mistake or anything that you think other people can learn from?

Stanley: Yeah, I think Jason already kind of mentioned it. It’s following up with the influencers on whether they had a chance to look at our email and I would suggest alternating between, let’s say, email versus Twitter or Facebook depending on the influencer because they have multiple mediums, but if we got at them at the same time, they’re more likely to at least take action to what you have to say.

Andrew: Okay. And let me give one more thing that I learned from you. And then afterwards, to close it out, how about if each one of you just gives a website or a Twitter handle where anyone who connected with this wants to follow up, or maybe ask you to tweet out their Infographic, can follow up. Or just check out who you are because we didn’t get a chance to go through full introductions, even though we’ll have links on the site.

But first, here’s the thing that I wanted to close out with. This I learned from you, Stanley. That Stanley, you emailed Moniche Sethi, and you said, “Would you ask Wired? I know you’re connected with Wired. Would you ask them to write about this, or tweet it if you think it’s useful.” I forget the exact words that you used.

But Moniche emailed me afterwards and said, “Hey, do you want to chat?” And we got on the phone, and last Thursday, he and I spent maybe about half an hour, maybe even 45 minutes, just catching up. He showed me what he was working on. He was in his lab. He was in his office, and he showed me this new project that he’s building, and we got to talk about that. And we got to talk about where I was with Mixergy.

And then he showed me his computer screen and showed me how he does his work. I showed him my computer screen remotely, and showed him how we keep track of all these interviewees. We got to learn from each other, and then we talked about reconnecting in person and about him potentially doing a Mixergy interview.

Wired did not write about this. He… I don’t know if he even tweeted, if Moniche did. So… but we still got to connect. We still got to help each other out. And the reason I want to bring this up is because at the top of the interview, I showed all these different share numbers. Because numbers are important, and because we’re here to talk about shares and get people to help promote the work we’re doing.

But I want to close out with this to remind everyone, and myself, that it’s not just about shares. It’s about those relationships that you can start off or you can continue building, if you ask for this in the right way. You just connect with people the way that Stanley, you helped me reconnect with Moniche. And throughout this process, I’ve been really lucky to meet Brian, whom I’ve admired for a long time, and to reconnect with people who I’ve known. And that, to me, is one of the best benefits of this.

It’s about the numbers, but if you’re doing this at home, if you’re following this process, and you don’t get this super huge numbers like we have, remember, make it also about those relationships because they will help you in the future, the way Guy Kawasaki did… I think it was three years later. All right, so how do we reconnect with you? Who wants to give out a URL first? Or… Steve, I see you’re smiling.

Emery: Mixergy.com.

Andrew: Yeah. Emery works at Mixergy. The first full-timer at Mixergy.

Emery: Yeah.

Andrew: Yeah. Thank you. Who else Steve or Kyle?

Kyle: I’ll just go ahead and go. I’m Kyle Patrick McCreary. Some of you all might recognize me as the note taker from Mixergy. I’m the new kid on the block, so don’t check me out now, but check me out in another year. I hope I’ll be doing bigger then. I will be doing bigger then.

Andrew: Is there a good way for someone to connect with you now? Do you want them to connect with you on Twitter?

Kyle: I kind of want them to use the methods we mentioned.

Andrew: Okay.

Kyle: If they even want to. But, yeah, Kyle Patrick McCreary. And they should be able to find me by checking out that name.

Andrew: Okay.

Kyle: Facebook.

Andrew: How about you, Jason?

Jason: Yeah. You can just email me. JasonYoung@gmail. That’s probably the best way. And I’m on Twitter, I’m on Facebook. But my… that’s the best way for sure, yeah.

Andrew: Okay. So that email hack that we showed earlier would work with you, for sure.

Jason: Yeah. You can find all sorts of, you know, dirty laundry. But just reach out directly.

Andrew: Stanley, how about you?

Stanley: Well, my website, it’s @ssylee.com. I’m going to give you the URL. It shows me what I do, not just promoting Infographcs but helping you capitalize on the traffic that comes to your Infographic or whatever else you’re promoting, after you get the traffic. and you can also email me at stanley@sysil.com. I can also give that email out as well.

Andrew: Cool. All right. And Steve?

Steve: And, yeah, I’m smiling because I didn’t want to go first. But you can check out SmartShoot for all of your video/photo needs. And I also host a podcast of my own called Mobile App Chat, and you can check out all the information that you need.

Andrew: What’s the URL for that?

Steve: MobileAppChat.com.

Andrew: All right. Good. Great. Thank you all for doing this with us. If you’ve listened to this and you used any part of this, please reach out to me or any of the people here and just show us what you’ve done with it. We’re always eager for you to not just hear this but to use it. And it’s also a good way to reconnect. Thank you for being a part of it. Bye, guys.

DOWNLOAD TRANSCRIPT

Master Class:
How to launch top-ranking products online
(Even if you’re intimidated by iOS, Kindle Store, and Google Play)
Taught by Abel James of The Fat-Burning Man Show

Master Class: Online Marketplace


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Transcript

Andrew: The session is about how to launch products in major online marketplaces, like the iOS App Store, Google Play and Kindle Store. It’s led by that gentleman who you see up on the screen, Abel James. He is a musician, bestselling author and founder of The Fat-Burning Man Show. He’s also the creator of “Caveman Feast” and Gluten-Free Dessert apps and so much more. I’ll help facilitate. I’m Andrew Warner, founder of Mixergy. Where proven founders teach.Abel, I know my audience.

Abel: You do. Thanks so much for having me, Andrew.

Andrew: I know my audience and they’re going to say. “Alright. Who is this guy to teach me how to do it? What has he done and so”? I have a certain kind of audience, “What has he done”?

And so, I’d thought we’d lead with this. Brag a little. What are we looking at here?

Abel: Yeah, so this is all in the past few months, actually. Is getting to the number one spot in most major marketplaces that are out there. This is using entirely free traffic using white hat techniques. It’s just engaging your community in a really interesting way.

And this company that I have right now and pretty much everything behind it didn’t even exist like a year and a half to two years ago. I just had a fire under my butt. I was working at a strategy consulting firm.

And I wanted to do something bigger. I wanted to build a company and I had been dabbling for a while. But once I started focusing on it and learning some of the advantages that we have being small and nimble, I started to take advantage of those. And start to move ahead of some of the people who are trying to own the marketplace, which is a lot of the old media companies, but they don’t really understand this whole Internet thing.

And so, I try to use that to our advantage and do something that’s a little bit different. And so, what we’ve been able to do is launch a podcast–

Andrew: This is the podcast right here, I’m going to circle it as best I can. The podcast right there, where were you in the podcast store? It’s not really a store, right?

Abel: Yeah. Number one in health, it’s more than a half-dozen different countries. A lot of times when I check, it’s number one. It doesn’t always stay number one. But I pretty much know how to get back up there when I want to.

But that’s not the most important thing. Hitting number one is more important than staying number one in a lot of these marketplaces. And we’ll explain why later on. So, you’re circling now Amazon, that’s kind of a cool story.

I put this book together in a weekend and then iteratively expanded it and kind of crowd sourced the biggest paying points and some of the other things that people really wanted to have included in a book that would be actionable. And so, when I put this out, it’s called “Intro to Paleo” and it hit number one in “Men’s Health.” Which means that it outsold, as a Kindle book, all hard-copy books as well. So I was totally stoked about that.

Andrew: We also see the iOS store right here. That is the top paid iPhone apps.

Abel: So that one was pretty nuts. Because I applied some of these frameworks when we launched our first app, which was “Caveman Feast” and we’ve launched a few others since then. And I wanted to see how well it would work in the apps store.

And it worked ridiculously well. When we launched in the first hour, it hit number one in all food and drink. It took down the Food Network, Martha Stewart, a bunch of people like that. And then, it kept going up all the way to number six in the world on the iPhone.

So Angry Birds at that point I think was number 45. You can see their Contra and Minecraft and all of the other apps that everyone knows of. And all of a sudden, instead of competing with the little guys or other podcasters or something, you’re competing with Warner Bros. and Disney. And that’s way more fun.

Andrew: And then, we got this right here, actually. This is essentially the same, right?

Abel: Yes. So, that’s number one in Food and Drink. And we were able to maintain that for a really long period of time. We can go back up there when we want to, too. Especially with “Caveman Feast.”

But the coolest thing, too, is the top iPhone paid apps. This was on Thanksgiving and Black Friday. We had two of the top five in Food and Drink, which was pretty rocking. We were stoked about that.

But all of this, it’s not about where you hit in the rankings. It’s about what the long tail looks like. And that’s why we really do this.

Because if you do it with the podcast, you build an audience. If you do it with a product, then you continue to get generally reliable sales as long as your app doesn’t break or something like that. And you’re focusing on making sure that you still have a relevant product for the years to come.

Andrew: The next thing they are going to be saying is, ‘Well, this guy just has it easy. It comes easily to him.’ But is does not. What of this?

Abel: My approach has really been a [shock-out] approach. All of the things that do not work disappear pretty quickly. I am surprised that you found that interesting. This is kind of funny: when I had first launched my podcast, it did really well really quickly. A lot of people asked for the ability to make it more portable than being truly digital.

A lot of people asked for CDs to give as gifts to their grandmother, their mom, or what have you. I was like, “Okay. I will do this.” I designed the cover and worked with a firm to put it together and do print on demand. I printed a bunch up, and then it was like crickets. No one bought anything because it is available for free and you can download it. It is kind of obvious why it did not work, but I was just amazed by how many people asked for it and then did not actually end up buying it.

Andrew: I know what you mean. It is the kind of thing that people ask for all of the time, and anyone who tells you how to succeed online says, “Listen to what people tell you to do.” You listened, and it does not work. Many of us have listened, including me, and it does not always work.

Abel: Listen to what people do.

Andrew: No. Let’s talk about what does work.

Abel: Yes.

Andrew: This is what you did to get all of those high rankings that we talked about earlier. The first step is kind of what did not work for you: ask customers about what they want. What are you doing differently than you did before, when you were listening to the CDs?

Abel: It is always important to hear people out. You do want to listen to them and let them know that they are being listened to. However, what you really want to do in terms of action steps, especially as you are building a product, is to make sure you listen to what your customers do. What do they purchase? What do they consume? What actions do they take? That is true in interpersonal relationships as well.

Andrew: Give me an example. What is a product where you did that for- where you listened to them and you heard them in the right way?

Abel: The one that I brought up before, the “Intro to Paleo” book, I put that together literally in a weekend. It was a short guide that was based and built around the questions that came in from people who listened to the podcast, read my blog, and had purchased some of my other products.

Based around those pain points, those areas of interest, I filled those in with relevant information. I did not have all of that information then. I researched it or reached out to someone who knew. That is really useful too, because you do not want to give people something that is incomplete. You want to give them exactly what they want and need.

Andrew: This is the book, right?

Abel: That is it, yes.

Andrew: By the way, dude, you are ripped.

Abel: Thank you.

Andrew: I hope that that is not inappropriate to say here.

Abel: It is all good.

Andrew: What you are saying is, you just started out by putting it out there, asking people, ‘What do you think of this,’ and improving?

Abel: Pretty much. At first when I put it out, it was free. It was as a favor to my followers, as a special thank-you.

Andrew: OK.

Abel: Then I figured, “Why don’t we build this out a little more and just see what happens in a marketplace?” I put it on the kindle store. I went back and forth a little bit and came out with a new version that was a little more complete and on target with what people wanted. It is still very brief- about 70 pages. When I released that and launched it, it actually hit number one in ‘Men’s Health.’ That is when people really started rallying around it. It made more of a splash in the marketplace because all of a sudden people are finding a book that is hitting all of their pain points.

Andrew: Yes. I understand putting something out there for free. People are going to accept it. It takes some work, but they are going to try it out. Asking them for feedback and expecting them to actually give you something useful and doing something with it, that is a tough process. People do not just give feedback. When they do, their feedback is sometimes more about what they think they want than what they really want. You get so many different opinions that it is then hard to integrate it. What do you do to make it work out well and not end up creating another CD in a digital world?

Abel: I think it is the ones that resonate. It is the ones that make sense. There is a difference between the complainers and the people who are trying to help. Some people just want to get their complaints out. They want to feel like they are being heard by someone. Maybe they are frustrated, so they will just get something out. They will say something terrible. They do not even really mean it.

Andrew: Right.

Abel: That happens all of the time. What you want, though, are the people who you can tell have thought about this for a little while. What they are saying is on point, if you hear that same theme a few times. A really popular one in health is that people have so much trouble getting off of sugar. Sugar is an addiction. And that’s one that comes up all the time, but very few books and resources really focus on that as a major problem, there’s like, oh yeah, sugar, don’t eat that and that’s all they say.

Andrew: Okay.

Abel: But what people want is a lot more. They want people to engage with them and embrace that this is one of the biggest struggles that they have. So, how do you deal with that? And so, that’s what we try to do. You look at the feedback that’s coming in and then you find the major themes and then you take those themes and build upon them and try to, try to expand upon them in a way that most people aren’t expecting. That makes it feel like you’re talking directly to them and answering the question that everyone has, whether they’ve asked it or not.

Andrew: Okay. You gave me this before we started. What is this image?

Abel: So I do this all the time. My show, I really want it to be high value for people.

Andrew: Mm-hmm.

Abel: And so, it’s important to me that I am hitting upon those main things. Because I’m not, as someone who, like you said, is ripped or whatever, that’s because I’ve been doing this for a while. I like, know what works for my body and if you’ve been doing something for a while, like, for you, for example, you’re a successful guy, you have a platform, you make good money, but because of that, it’s very difficult for you to converse with someone who’s trying to start a business right now from zero, has nothing. Because if you don’t keep in touch with those people, which is what you do, by the way, but if you don’t keep in touch with those people, then all of a sudden, you can’t talk to them anymore.

You don’t know what their struggles are and so, it’s really important at strategic moments, or even if you just need like fodder for content, to put this out there and social media is a really good way to do it because people engage very quickly, but I found, actually, just sending out a blast on my newsletter saying, “All you have to do is respond to this e-mail. I really want to hear from you. What are you struggling with right now?” I actually have that built in to the auto-responder of products that people buy as well. It’s just, you know, like, on the fourth day, it’s just like, “How is your day going? What can I help you with? What’s your biggest struggle?” and so…

Andrew And do you respond to everyone who does that?

Abel: I respond to almost everyone. Like, the number is enormous, so I have a community manager who helps me out a lot, but a lot of people know that she’s on the team and it’s Emily and if she’s listening, you’re awesome, Emily. Totally love you…

Andrew: Alright, on to the next point and I already, I actually was going to edit this out quietly, but I got to call myself out publicly. It’s just tease[SP], it’s a typo. Alright, tease.

Abel: I noticed that, but I wasn’t going to call it out.

Andrew: Did you? No, you should. You should keep calling me out. If I’m going to be the person who calls everyone else out, I’ve got to be called out to be called out too. There it is. Tease, only mention your product in passing at first. How do you do that?

Abel: Especially when you have a lot of different things competing for people’s attention…

Andrew: Mm-hmm.

Abel: … so you have a lot of free products, you have a lot of products in general, you want to make sure that you’re not asking people or telling people to buy all of the time all of your products because what you’re going to do is just dilute your whole message.

Andrew: Okay.

Abel: And so, what you want to do there is, especially if you do have those kind of like, competing interests with the way that you run your business, or your platform…

Andrew: Mm-hmm.

Abel: You want to make sure that you’re bringing it on to people’s radar, but you’re not just shouting it at them because it’s annoying. You don’t want to be marketed to. No one wants to be sold to, but they do want to know if you’re, for example, like, we just built an app that was gluten- free desserts from my girlfriend Allison and myself.

So literally from my kitchen and a lot of people, when they listened to the show, they were just like, “Well, I don’t really care what all these best- selling authors and health experts eat. I want to know what you eat. What do you eat for dinner. What are these desserts that you’re always talking about?” And so, we listened and we built an app for them that are exactly what they asked for.

Andrew: Mm-hmm.

Abel: And so, being able to do that and staying nimble with it is kind of a cool way to do it. So, the way that you bring it up is just like, oh yeah, so, three weeks ahead of time maybe, I’ll be like, “By the way, we’ve been working really hard behind the scenes on this new cool thing that you guys have been asking for us, all the desserts from our kitchen, and we’re really excited to bring it to you. Stayed tuned, it will be coming out in the next few weeks.”

So what that does is basically says, it’s coming, we built it for you, it’s what you asked for. It’s all about them, as opposed to saying, “We’ve been working on this new app and it’s totally cool and you need to buy it on Friday, December 22nd because of blah blah blah,” and it’s just a very different approach. It’s still a call to action, but it’s a softer one.

Andrew: This is, I think, from your podcast, when you launch, I’m actually crowding on my own logo here, my own hashtag.

Abel: Oh no.

Andrew: It’s important to do it. I want to crop properly. Let me do it. Crop from the top, boom. There we go because I need to zoom in and just move it up right there. Right here on the bottom, this is where you’re linking to it.

Abel: And then this is where you announce it but it’s not the first time you actually talked about it on your podcast. You would intentionally say, “Hey, you know what, Alison? I’m going to mention that we’re working on something this week. Next week I’m going to mention that it has to do with gluten free deserts.”

Andrew: Is that kind of a roll out?

Abel: Yes. It’s like, a lot of times it would start with, you’ll see a twinkle in my eye, talking about working behind the scenes. Not ready for you guys yet, I can’t even talk about it yet but I know you’re going to love it.

So that’s ramping it. It’s fun to ramp it up that way because a lot of times that’s totally true and we don’t really know where some of these projects are going, we don’t know when they are going to be coming out. So you [??] and you get more and more specific as you get closer to releasing it.

So a lot of times we are talking about it as we’re developing it, asking people for the features that they want and need, as we’re developing it.

Andrew: I see.

Abel: So if you do that, then they’re kind of a part of the process of building these things. You’re not just throwing products at them, you’re incorporating them into building the products themselves.

Andrew: Okay. All right. I think we can do that. Tease it.

I’m looking also on your site to see are there any other mentions that we could bring up. It looks like you started talking for a while there about gluten free desserts. This is August, 2013. Here is one from April. Alright.

OK. I see the build up. Let’s go on into the next big point which is hopefully spelled correctly, it looks like it is.

Abel: You got it.

Andrew: Run a giveaway. Here’s one giveaway that you ran. Tell me about how this works and then let’s understand what the bigger idea is. But what’s going on here?

Abel: Okay. So what you’re looking at here is the share-able social media graphic that we use across Pinterest, Instagram, in Facebook specially. You can also get to it through Twitter but usually you focus on photo based social media because it’s much more share-able and our demographic shares it a lot more if it’s a photo. That pretty much applies to everything but specially applies to what we do.

So what we’re looking at here is we launch, this is for Caveman feeds which is a collaboration I did with George Bryan of Civilized Caveman. Totally awesome dude, great marketer, pay attention to him. So we launched Caveman Feeds the app in the Google play marketplace. We came out for the Android, which by the way people have been asking for for a really long time because we released on the iPhone first.

When we released this, we also did a giveaway at the same time. We didn’t make purchase necessary. That gets complicated legally but we did it around the same time and if you notice it’s a 16 Gigabyte Nexus 7, which runs Android. And so the things that we’re giving away are very much relevant to the products that we’re coming out with.

So for example, I have a launch coming out in just a couple of weeks for another product that I’m doing called Fat Burning Chef. And that’s like a digital cookbook and video, cooking classes and that sort of thing and we’re giving away like 25 pounds of bacon. So the more relevant and fun and exciting you can make it, the more luck you’re going to have with getting it to more people. It’ll become more viral that way.

So doing giveaways is something that’s like really effective for us, especially if you pull favors at the same time. So for me I don’t really have any affiliate relationships, I don’t really ask people to mail for me, I don’t really mail for anyone, I keep all of this very close to my chest but what I do do is when we release an app and I’m really close to someone or I’ve had them on my show, I’ve tweeted about their new book or something like that, I’m just like by the way we’re releasing an app this week and we’re doing a giveaway.

Would you mind helping us out by sharing this with your audience? And more people would be like Yes, of course. I’ll send a tweet or I’ll post this on Facebook or I’ll share this image because it’s a very small ask as opposed to saying Hey, can you blast this to 100,000 people, which is a big ask.

Andrew: I can see people posting on their Facebook pages. I mean, your friends doing it and then you get Likes on your friends pages. I can see you posting it and getting Likes and comments. But ultimately, wow, what’s going on with the camera here? There we go. Ultimately, though, what’s the point of it? How does that help you get higher up on the charts?

There we go with the camera again.

Abel: So the way that that works is the more people who engage with something on Facebook, for example, [??] for a Like on Facebook or a share on Facebook, because the more people do those things, the more people see it. As a direct result it becomes viral if you do that. And if you ask other big thought leaders, they’re very likely to help share your post as well.

Andrew: I see. So it’s just to get the word out and get people to see that this new thing is coming out. I’m looking now at the image, and on the bottom of it, it says, “Cavemanfeastapp.com.” And so, the more people like it, the more their friends will see that URL, the more they influence or share it, the more likely their followers are to see it.

Abel: Mm-hmm.

Andrew: Look at that. Something’s up with Skype today. This is all just straight-up Skype. All right, on to the next.

Number one, before we started you said, ‘Hey, Andrew, what’s the technology that you’re using to do all this cool stuff?’

[laughter]

Andrew: Now you don’t want to know. Forget it.

Abel: It’s kind of working.

Andrew: It’s working. Except, you know what, Skype for some reason goes letter box and squares, letter box and, you know, squares. So strange. Not always, but with some cameras and I can’t figure out why.

Abel: Yeah, it happens to me, too. We’ll get the hang of it one of these days.

Andrew: One of these days. All right, discount for early customers.

Abel: Yeah, so what we do around a launch is we will launch something for less than it actually costs. So, if it’s an app that usually costs $2.99, we might discount it to $1.99 or even $.99…

Andrew: This is one example of that.

Abel: That also applies to Kindle eBooks. That applies to pretty much everything we put out there. The way that we frame it is Fan Appreciation Sale, which is just totally true because our fans to be able to get it for, you know, as close to free as possible, but still allowing us to, you know, move up in the market place.

But this is a favor for them for helping us out, build these things through the crowd sourcing, or just being our fans. So, it’s something that, you know, that even the discount…technically, it applies to everyone, but the only way that they’d know about it is if they are our fan, is if we move up the market place.

So the way that we frame it, and what I truly believe, is that we’re coming out with this to get it to people for less than it actually costs because we appreciate their help so much. You can use that in your own marketing as well for pretty much anything that you come out with, and it’s just a really good move for a number of reasons.

At the beginning, when you launch something, at least that the way that I do it, I focus more on the velocity and the momentum and making a splash in the market place than revenue generation straight from the get-go.

So like, I don’t care what it costs to develop. I’m going to price it at the price point that is appropriate for the consumer and for the fan, or for whoever is on the other end of that so that we can make as big of a splash as we possibly can.

If you want monetize that later. It’s much better to do that on the back end, because if you launch it, and, you know, if your app is $6.99 because you’re worried about how much it costs you to develop, where competing apps are at, like, $1.99, then you’re going to have a really hard time getting momentum and making a splash in that market-place because it’s just too expensive, and it doesn’t really…

Andrew: It’s supposed to just see how many orders you can get quickly. Because the more orders you get quickly, the more likely you are to rise up in the charts. So, as you’re going to email your list, you might as well give it to them at a low price because what you care about at first is not so much the money, but the ranking that comes from people buying, right?

Abel: That’s right.

Andrew: If you give them, hey, here’s a deadline. In this case you gave them the deadline of November 27, then they’re more likely to do it all quickly. And if they all do it quickly, then you’re more likely to rise.

Abel: Exactly. So, that has a discount built in, so it’s a great offer, and there’s also scarcity there. But it’s not like fake scarcity. This is real. We up the price after that, and usually…

Andrew: Actually, I went into the store to see did you really up it, and this is what I found now. It’s right now, I don’t know that people can see it, but I will tell you that it is $2.99.

Abel: [??]

Andrew: But, actually, this is a different app, isn’t it?

Abel: It’s a gluten-free desserts. I believe it’s $1.99.

Andrew: It’s $1.99. Exactly. $1.99. Here, let me see if I can grab that. You can’t give it away for free in the iOS app store because then that won’t count toward your paid rankings later, right?

Abel: Yeah, and it’s a whole different…Like, releasing a free app is fundamentally a different move. It’s kind of a different market place, and I’m more excited about the paid market because with a free…I mean, yeah, you can certainly monetize, and we’re going to do some free apps as well I would like…

Making a big move in a pay marketplace just means so much more. Like having a best-selling free eBook or something, doesn’t really mean that much. But if you have best-selling app, and people have paid money for it, then it says something. And you can build more, and it’s easier to get developers who are doing great work because they know that you’re doing great work. You know?

Like, the more serious you can make it, the more major of a move you can make, I’d say go for it.

Andrew: Abel, some marketplaces will count those freebies towards the overall charge which would then allow you to be able to boost and bring more people in because you’ve hit the top of the charts. Is it the Kindle marketplace that does allow that, that if you give it away for free…

Abel: Yes.

Andrew: It does. So how do you know, where do you find out which marketplace allows you to do it and which doesn’t and all the other subtleties of these marketplaces? Who do you talk to about that?

Abel: I stay focused on one first. There are so many experts in Kindle, in app marketing, in SEO. All of these things have their own idiosyncrasies, but within each of these marketplaces the fundamental algorithm is pretty much the same. You’re looking for velocity, momentums, reviews, whether it’s a subscription or clicking “like” or what have you.

You want all these things in a compressed [??], and you also want consistency. When it comes to like hacking it and saying, “Well, this needs to be free on a Tuesday so that we launch the paid version on a Wednesday at this price point then we upped by this much,” that stuff can totally work. But the problem is it doesn’t work two weeks later, like literally. [laughs]

Andrew: Is there a forum that you go to to talk to people about this? Are there other people somewhere that you talk to about this?

Abel: I talk to my close friends about this. And a lot of my close friends are people who are really into cooking. They have their own blogs, a few masterminds as well. But really if the information is out there I don’t really pay too much attention to it less a book, to be quite honest.

The most useful information I received has mostly been from books that some of them are 30 years, 60 years old about copyrighting and marketing.

Andrew: There’s no book that’s going to keep you updated enough to tell you, Abel. Now Amazon suddenly will take care of you. I will include those free downloads in their overall rankings.

Abel: No problem.

Andrew: So you’re saying, for that you go to your friends.

Abel: No. I’ll go to my friends if they know about it, but if no one seems to know about something than you have to figure it out on your own. You have to try different things. There are different blogs that you could pay attention to that would be on top of something like that.

An example would be in some marketplaces all they care about is the raw number that hour, and nothing else enters into it. Another one is more of an average. It’s not just an average of that day or that hour. It’s an average of that week, that month. So it’s really hard to build that out. The problem is that if you focus on that too much than it changes, and it’s costly changing.

So since I’ve launched in Kindle I’ve seen so many things change there, and that’s exciting because every time something changes the big guys [??] and aren’t small like you. All of a sudden they’re very slow and bureaucracy and red tape won’t allow them to adapt and learn that new algorithm as quickly as you can.

So I get really excited about this. When something stops working, I’m stoked about it because that means we need to figure it out again.

Andrew: And when you figure it out, you want to figure it out ahead of everyone else at the [??] and you get the advantage before they do. Do you do this as a consultant, too?

Abel: Yes. So I coach other people. My background is in strategy consulting. I just do launches for Fortune 500 companies and even launched a $4 million website for the government. In interview cases, I’ve seen this work on a …

Andrew: Does this have anything to do with the health care launch, this launch for the government?

Abel: No. Fortunately, it did not.

Andrew: It does not have your name on it.

Abel: It does not.

Andrew: Alright. Let’s continue with the big board here.The next one is we want to stack those early reviews. Here you did it. I’m going to again show the big screen shot and then I’ll zoom in. This is one of your apps. Let me just zoom in properly here. Let’s see what I can do if I do that. Is this where you got 1100 reviews within a couple of days? Is that what you did there?

Abel: Yep. It was actually like 1,000 reviews in the first few hours of our launch.

Andrew: Okay.

Abel: So you can see on the Apple app store, the ratings every time you update it or add a new feature, they kind of dilute your ratings which is pretty annoying, especially when you have like 1300.Twelve hundred five are ratings plus and then you go down to…

At the same time the point is you want to have a good amount because you don’t have to have the full 1100. That’s absurd. We probably even got too many because we want to save those calls to action for something else.

Andrew: How do you incentivize people to give you reviews without doing anything that gets you banned from the marketplace?

Abel: So that’s the hard part. This works the best when you have a platform and when you have people that listen to you and love you and are really interested in what you do. What’s really interesting about this app, for example, we put it together based on recipes that were available for free, like on George’s website and my website as well.

Usually there’s a lot of those that are free as well. The sheer amount of content that I put out for free on my podcasts, videos, YouTube, the eBooks, blog posts is enormous. I give 95% of them away.

Andrew: [??] If you say, “Hey, I”m launching this,” can you review it? Does that do it?

Abel: Yeah. If they can’t buy something, a lot of people will be like, “Get them off your list. We don’t care about those people. They’re not going to help your business.” I take the opposite approach to that. If people can’t buy from me, I think that’s great.

I’m not worried about it one bit. I believe in this message. I don’t care about making money as much as I care about spreading this message. So if someone can’t buy your app for $2.99, that’s okay because when you ask for review on some other market plan, it’s for your free product, for example for podcast review. They’ll do it because they believe in what you do and they want to help you.

Andrew: Maybe they feel guilty that they never bought from you, but they still got all of this value over the years. Without enough of an incentive people don’t do anything. So how do you incentivize them to go and click and to then write a review?

Abel: So in most marketplaces you can’t directly tie in some sort of a giveaway or rewards into reviews. That’s how a lot of people gain it, and they do it that way. What we do is… I guess it kind of simulates that, doing a giveaway around the same time. People might implicitly think that they need to buy it in order to win an iPad or a Nexus seven or something like that, but mostly I just think it’s when you have a bunch of attention and these people care they will leave reviews.

It doesn’t matter really if you have 1200 or if you have 50 or even if you have five. If they’re solid and they’re believable and they’re coming from real people, that matters so much more than the other garbage. What happens is – I’ve seen this happens many, many times, especially in the Kindle marketplace.

A friend of mine had like, it was 1800 plus reviews, and they had put an incentive onto leaving that review. And Amazon noticed and they just like blocked him. That’s what happens in every marketplace. As soon as someone knows that you’re gaining the system all of a sudden you have zero long tail. There’s nothing you can do, and you’re gone unless you try to do it again and figure it out. That’s really not a sustainable business.

But the reviews are powerful, and they’re important so just get some of them, but get… Everyone has a platform now. Everyone has a brand. Everyone has a Facebook account, a Twitter account, an aunt, a brother. So if you’re serious about those people get some reviews.

As long as you have a handful of them you’re going to be just fine, but in terms of tactics to incentivize it, the best one that I found is raising awareness about what you’re doing, what you’re launching is, and between giveaway and [??] time. That’s the best one that I found.

Andrew: But not a giveaway tied to reviews, just a giveaway to get…

Abel: That’s right.

Andrew: I see. Okay. Alright.

Abel: And you can kind of like subtly ask for reviews, but you can’t like say, “I’m going to give you a carrot if you give a review.”

Andrew: Okay.

Abel: Depending on the marketplace.

Andrew: Okay. Is there a marketplace where I am allowed to bribe people?

Abel: [laughs] I’m sure there is.

Andrew: I don’t know of any one.

Abel: There might be a few.

Andrew: This next one I wasn’t sure whether to include or not. The way I put this together for the audience is [??] and I were talking before. I said, “What are you doing?” Then I said, “How are you doing it?” I just started taking notes, and then I said, “Can you show me that you’re doing this? Don’t just tell me that you’ve got featured. Can you prove it because I’m a bit of a jerk?” I don’t trust anyone. I said, “Show me.”

That’s how I just walked through it. I take obsessive notes, and then I pulled out the key ideas and then I put them together, and he helped me find all these visuals. This one, I wasn’t sure we should do because I don’t know if we can promise to people.

You said, “Get featured.” After you do all this you’re get to start to get featured if you get reviews, if you get those early users from the discounts. And I was shocked. This is a spectacular feature. Is it in the iOS store?

Abel: Yeah.

Andrew: Yeah. This is unreal, but can we promise that to people. How do we get them featured, too? What do they do?

Abel: You can’t promise anything like that because there are so many inputs there, but you certainly can stack the stack. And I say that we’ve been featured in most countries across the world in the app store, featured in most podcast stores as well, and featured on Amazon. People have sent me emails that come from Amazon saying that they should buy my book, like, at the top of the email.

So it’s like, once you get enough momentum, once you get good reviews and you have a solid product, that, by the way, people, employees at that company have probably gone through, once that’s established, then why wouldn’t a marketplace love you?

Because what you’re doing . . . every time I promote an app, every time I promote my podcast, every time I promote a Kindle book, I’m promoting Amazon and Apple, right? Or if I say I’m releasing an Android app in the Google Play Marketplace, and right now it’s a best-seller in the Google Play Marketplace. That’s like an advertisement for them. So they like that, because you’re bringing them loads of business, and most marketplaces will keep 30%. And so it’s to their advantage to feature very well-performing products that are high-quality.

Andrew: Okay. Well-performing products, look good, etc. Is there anything to do to make sure that they know that we exist and make sure that we kind of ask for the sale? It’s not enough to just be good.

Abel: Yeah.

Andrew: You have to ask for the sale sometimes, right? So what do you do? Do you have a contact there? Is it something else?

Abel: I have no contacts at any of these companies that I’ve used, although some have come after I’ve been featured.

Andrew: So they feature you, and then it results on them calling you and saying, “Do you have artwork so we can feature you?” That’s how you get the contact?

Abel: Yes. I mean, they emailed us asking for artwork before they featured us in the ad marketplace, but they featured my podcast many times without ever asking me for anything. And same thing for Amazon. So they don’t always tell you.

But the best thing you can do to stack the deck is start with a very, very solid product. Whatever marketplace it is, whatever product it is, it should be amazing. If it’s not, you’re not going to get featured. If you do it, you totally . . .

Andrew: What about your product? You don’t have a developer on your team, do you?

Abel: I have a lot of collaborations. And so the way that my business is run, quickly, is mostly as a result of those collaborations. So one of my partners, his name is Andreas, he’s a kick-butt dude. And we decided to build apps together a few months ago. And so he handles the whole design and programming team, the development team. And basically, he manages that process. So they’re not on staff, although we’re thinking of bringing them on.

Andrew: Actually, before we go to the final point. Did I come across as a jerk earlier, where I kept saying, “What about this? Well, can I see that you were featured?” You can be honest, just like I asked you to be honest with the teasing typo.

Abel: Oh, I don’t think that’s being a jerk at all. Especially in this industry, people say a lot of things, right?

Andrew: Yes. It’s got to be tough.

Abel: People say a lot of things.

Andrew: I’m always worried I’m going to get it wrong.

Abel: Yeah.

Andrew: But I don’t want to be a jerk.

Abel: And I think that’s really important. I’ll tell a quick story. There’s a podcaster who I know and love. Very sweet guy, been doing this for a long time, and doing great work. But he was asked to be on someone else’s show, and that other person just wanted to talk about being low-carb. And that’s totally fine, right? You think that someone with a platform and a show does pretty well, would be a good show to go on.

So he goes on, and after he goes on the show, he starts getting hate mail from his own listeners, all these horrible comments from people. It turned out the guy’s a well-known white supremacist.

Andrew: Oh, no.

Abel: So he goes on the show, and all of a sudden he’s sharing the platform of a white supremacist. And that’s an issue. So you’re fact checking all this stuff, tip of the hat. I think it’s really important. We don’t have enough of that today.

Andrew: Thanks. And you know what? And I think you were saying earlier, where some people end up getting a lot of positive reviews. There’s one guy, I wish I could think of his name, not so I could say it publicly here, but so I could talk about it privately when I have people over for scotch. This one guy, clearly he was gaming the process. All the reviews were five stars, and they all said the same thing.

Abel: Yeah.

Andrew: And one of the things that Anne Marie here is doing to check on guests when we consider them is going in and seeing are there reviews, what do the reviews say. And she said, “You know what? We have to make sure that they’re not cheating. Because here’s what I saw.”

Boy, that is . . . it’s funny, and I’d love sometimes to catch people on that publicly, but that’s not my thing. My thing is if that’s what they’re doing, I should just keep them off. I don’t want to catch the white supremacist and say, “Hi, you’re a white supremacist.” I want to say, just no. Avoid him.

Abel: They’ll catch themselves.

Andrew: Thanks for going through all that. And we have one more, but thanks for going through all that.

Abel: Of course.

Andrew: Here’s the last one. Build your own database. What is the problem that we’re avoiding here? That we’re trying to protect ourselves from? Or here, let me show you the image so that you know. This is from my notes. This is what I noticed that you do. All these [??] for people.

Abel: Yeah, sorry, I was just getting . . .

Andrew: Illustrator to illustrate for the people.

Abel: Yes, sorry, I was just getting a little delay there. Yes, so what you want to do is, you know, a lot of these market places…If you do it right, you wind up with many, many customers, a lot of times tens-of-thousands of customers.

The problem is, Amazon, Google, Apple, they’re their customers. They’re not yours. That’s the way that they see it, right?

Andrew: Mm-hmm.

Abel: So, there are usually little things that you can do. You can do this in Kindle Book. You can have live links that go to an opt-in form. You can do this in apps as well, and that’s what we did. We knew that people would purchase our apps, and we can still send, like, push notifications to people, but you don’t have them on an email list unless you do something like this.

So on the side of all of our apps, we have this area that it says “Bonus Content: or “Get Your Free (X) Here,” or whatever. Then it has something like this, which is an opt-in form, and it offers them a bribe for signing up for your email list. Which is, you know, any internet marketer is very familiar with that process.

But then, of course, you give them a lot of value, and so what you can do there…This is where it gets really interesting. The reason that I play in most of these major market places is because it’s all lead generation for my premium products. Because when you get a customer who has already seen you on their phone or on their device, and they’ve been really happy with what they’ve purchased for $.99 or $1.99 or $2.99, don’t you think they are a heck of a lot more likely to buy your product that’s $495.00 or join Master Mind or something like that?

Andrew: I see.

Abel: Because they see that you’re delivering value all over the place, and so if you capture that lead, they’re an extraordinarily valuable lead and one that may not have come through your own funnel or your own affiliate connections or anything like that. They’re coming from the market place itself. And so, all of a sudden, you’re using free traffic, and people are paying you to get that lead as opposed to paying for leads.

So, it’s a really cool way of doing it and I have…

Andrew: I see, and it allows you then to have all that mailing list that you can go back and say ‘I’ve got a new product. Will you review it? I’ve got a new product. Go download it while the discount’s there.’ And it just creates this virtual circle.

Abel: Exactly.

Andrew: All right, and the products are right here, right? These are some of the products that we’re talking about?

Abel: Yup.

Andrew: They are right on your site, and we’ll link to them. Do any of these products use Skype to create, because I hear Skype is very weird, as you could see.

[laughter]

Andrew: You don’t use Skype?

Abel: Only the podcasts.

Andrew: Only the podcasts. Way to go. Does this ever happen to you when you record a podcast where the screen goes narrow and wide and narrow and wide? No?

Abel: I’ve had it been…It’s been a little flickery, but I’ve never seen it do what it’s doing right now for you. This is novel. [laughs]

Andrew: It is. Well, that’s one of the reasons why I’m glad that we have all of these visuals. Thank you so much for doing this. I will, of course, link to all of these products, all of these apps, so that people can see them directly.

But, the site to go to, is it fatburningman.com? Is that the best place for people to see what you’ve been working on?

Abel: That’s the best place for the health vertical, but also I have a number of projects that are in, like, the business vertical. If you’re interested in consulting or publishing type things…

Andrew: Yes, that’s what I meant.

Abel: It’s ablejames.com. Also, I have a project that I’m pretty excited about that’s done with Jaime Tardy of Eventual Millionaire, and that’s called Done Cast. Basically what that is, it’s going to go over a lot of the stuff I talked in terms of launching in the new media.

Andrew: I know that. Where’s that site?

Abel: You know, so it could be a podcast. It could be an app. It could be something else, but, yeah, we’re really excited about that. And that’s at donecast.com.

Andrew: How do you spell that?

Abel: Actually, we’re building it right now. [laughs]

Andrew: Ah, sounds great. Sounds right up my alley. I’m curious to see..

Abel: But, it’s d-o-n-e-c-a-s-t.

Andrew: All right. Thank you so much for doing this. Thank you all for being a part of it. If you’ve got anything of value from this besides learning not to record using Skype…Actually, Skype is really good. This is just a one-time thing. It’s one of the…

Abel: And the audio is going to be stellar.

Andrew: Sorry?

Abel: And the audio is [laughs]…

Andrew: The audio is going to be stellar because you have a good mic, and the content is…

Abel: Forget I said that.

Andrew: If you’ve got anything of value, please let Abel know. abeljames.com. Thank you all for being a part of it. Thank you, James. Bye.

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Master Class:
How to create company culture
(By going beyond customer service)
Taught by Robert Richman of Culture Blueprint

Master Class: Culture


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Transcript

Andrew: This section is about how to create a corporate culture. It’s led by Robert Richman who launched this,’Zappos Insights’, the Zappos family company dedicated to helping businesses with their cultures. Today Robert is working with fast growing disruptive companies to co-create their cultures, he is also the author of this book ‘The Culture Blueprint’, a step by step guide to shift and design your company’s culture. I will only be here to help facilitate.My name is Andrew Warner; I’m the founder of Mixergy, where proven founders teach. Robert, we all think of Zappos as being this giant of a company that everyone studies but it launched back in the late 90s, what was the problem with selling shoes back in the late 90s?Robert: You take yourself back to that time period, people were really hesitant to buy things online, even books, they put their credit cards, do this type of transaction and you take that and imagine it with shoes, something that’s very, very tangible, people couldn’t even imagine that and why would they do it?To get over that hump they said okay, well what’s so great about buying shoes in a shoe store, what’s the experience of it that makes it so great? It was well, you get it immediately for one and two that there’s great service, somebody’s right there helping you.

So the idea was what if rather than spending the marketing dollars on Super Bowl ads which the company didn’t even have, was if that was invested into the service experience so getting the shoes there the next day, having somebody available, an 800 number on the front of the site, which was revolutionary at the time, no call limit times, call answered in under a minute and free returns both ways.

By creating an experience, heavily based on service that was as close as possible to the shoe store buying experience, that was what was able to cross the hurdle and get people to spread word of mouth that a company was just so dedicated to being of service rather than just trying to get your transaction and money out the door really quickly.

Andrew: So, I’ve got all these principles that we’re going to be talking about but I know that the person listening has got to be thinking, alright if service is the way to do it, why couldn’t Zappos or why can’t the companies that are listening to us just say, we’re going to be in the customer service business, here are the five things you need to do to give good customer service, address people by name, offer them a toll free number and so on. What does culture have to do with all this?

Robert: It’s a great question. The biggest misnomer with this is having the word customer in there. The word customer isn’t even in the Zappos corporate values. Their value is deliver wow [??] through service, the word customer is intentionally not in there because what happens is, anybody whose focus is just on customer service, tends to be of service only in front of the customer so it ends up being like acting, we’re going to put on our smiling face when we’re talking to the customer but on the side whether it be the vendors or bosses or co-workers, we’re not going to be of service.

The secret ends up being creating a culture of service such that everything came from that place because that’s what’s necessary when a call rep or whoever it is that’s of service, is going to have to make a call on the spot. When you make a call on the spot, which is constantly happening at Zappos up to twenty thousand times a day with the calls, you’ve got to have that instilled in you which is why the value is to be of service and the company actually looks for people who love to be of service rather than training people in service, that makes sense.

Andrew: Yes, and I can see the before and after, here is the site as it was back in 1999. This is before culture became so closely identified with Zappos, it’s before so much of what we know about Zappos was actually built and you can see right from the top that we got that from archive.org. Today as you say, the phone number is right on the home page.

I don’t know if people can see it if I zoom out, it’s right at the very top there, 800-927-7671 and it’s just a part of the way they communicate their culture and we found this. I usually talk about how big companies get as a result of what they do but it’s more than that, the company is regularly featured as one of the best companies to work for so their people love working for them, it built up a company that was worth over, what is it, 1.2 billion dollars they sold to Amazon and people who work there love it so it’s obviously worked for them.

Alright so now the next thing I think about is, maybe because I’m just a selfish guy, and I imagine that my audience is here saying how do I apply this to my business, and that’s the next thing, right great for Zappos, what do we do, how do we do it, so in your book The Culture Blueprint, you have these principles that I thought we can talk about.

Robert: Yeah.

Andrew: First is to co-create your culture. And when I take a look at… You talk about how one of the first things you did when you joined Zappos was take a class on culture. I went online, and I looked at videos like this one. This is like a video done in one of the classes by someone holding onto what seems like a phone with video capability. What I go to is the tiara on the guy’s head and the wackiness in the environment, but there’s something else you noticed right from the first day when you went in to learn about culture. What was that?

Robert: Yeah. Let me just preface this by saying these principles that you’re talking about here, this is like the shortcut. This is the short code after years of studying this, of finding what the principles are that make it work. So this is the real high value stuff to understand culture very, very quickly without taking years to study it.

This principle is around co-creation like you said. I really started to discover this at the culture class. This was rather than it being a class and saying, “This is what the culture is” and dictating it and saying, “This is how you’re going to have it.” The first conversation was actually a question; what is culture? And we sat there and discussed, not even what is Zappos’ culture. What is culture? What are we really talking about? It’s amazing how many conversations you’ll see. People aren’t really defining their terms, and people can be having different conversations about the same thing.

Andrew: So then wouldn’t it make sense for Zappos too to tell you here’s what culture is, write this down and remember it?

Robert: No, no, no. A discussion, what does it mean? How do you see it? Where is it? What is it? And if you ask anybody, just ask anybody the question, especially in an office, what is culture, you’ll get 30 different answers. It’s a really rich conversation to be had because culture can be so many things.

That was the idea. First, we’re going to define it and discuss what it means. And then we’re going to say, “What is Zappos’ culture and what is that like and why?” And I realized that we were co-creating this idea that rather than them dictating to us what culture is.

Andrew: Remember in Tony Hsieh’s book, “Delivering Happiness”, he said that when he wanted to write down what Zappos stood for, those corporate principles, he emailed everyone who worked at Zappos and said, “What makes us great.” And then he got a big list from them and then he picked the ones that he thought made the most sense. I’m over-simplifying it, but it was, “What do you guys think”, here’s what I think and it was a back and forth, and that’s what you mean.

Robert: That was the core values creation process, yes. The idea behind this is you just co-create, anything from a meeting to the entire core values process. That was definitely a vast simplification. It took a year. The process I do with clients takes about seven months, and it’s a whole system though, back and forth co-creation.

Andrew: So give me an example of how if someone’s watching this or reading your book and they say, “Alright. I want a culture that’s meaningful here. I want a culture that I get excited about working for and that my customer and my co-workers are excited about being a part of. I was told by Robert Richman I should be co-creating. What do they do to co-create? Where do we start?

Robert: Yeah. It can start anywhere. For example, one of the things I did… People stop and say, “I’m only a company of one or two. This doesn’t apply at all” For example, when I first had my assistant on, we didn’t do any work the first day. The first day our meeting was, “I want you to tell me what makes for a great boss. How do you communicate well? How are we going to disagree with each other? How will I know that you’re growing and doing well and happy?” And it was an entire conversation where I, as manager/owner, was just asking questions.

Andrew: I’m sorry. Were you asking questions waiting for the right answer? And then going, “Yeah. That’s great” and giving positive reinforcement when you get what you want, or how do we do it without being chaotic? Otherwise, then they want one thing and I want something else.

Robert: Because this is going on you know it whether or not, and this is just bringing consciousness and shining a light on it. So all things are happening. There is a conversation going on in the back of his mind, and it’s just bringing it to light. One of the great questions to ask him is, “What is your expectation? What is your expectations of me? Now I’m going to cover my expectations of you. Let’s see if we’re even on the right page before we start off a whole relationship.”

Andrew: I see. Alright. You say to the very first person even if it’s just a two person operation. It’s what do you think this company is about. What do you expect of me and so on? Alright. Let’s go on to the next big idea which is to share what you want. Again, I went online and I found tons of photos from Zappos. Here is a photo by thisbrandnewcolony.wordpress.com, someone’s personal site and he took this photo as he was walking through Zappos’ office.

You guys allowed… You’re not with Zappos anymore, right?

Robert: Right. Right.

Andrew: Zappos allows people to come in and tour the office and see this stuff. Why? What’s the purpose of showing everyone else how to create a culture? Why not focus on selling shoes?

Robert: That’s right, yeah. You know, people would say wow, you can do this despite sharing all this. I started to realize being there for several years that in a lot of ways it’s because of. The idea with it, a lot of people say wow this is a mass distraction.

But, what happened was having that many people – when I was there it was 25,000 people a year coming through – it really holds you accountable to it. People talk about values just being on the wall. Or, people are talking about culture but not really living it.

But, people are coming in day after day interacting with any employee – and by the way, anybody from the press can interact with any employee. So, everybody is constantly in an authentic state. To do that if you’ve got people coming in constantly you actually have to really truly live it and breathe it.

That’s why it really sustains the culture, and it keeps it in people’s minds. When everybody’s on the tour and they’re talking about it, and people are asking about it, and you’re saying the answer, it reminds you. So, it’s like this actual free refresher that comes in reminding you why you started the company and why you’re doing what you’re doing.

Andrew: I see. One of the things we here at Mixergy believe in is systemizing. You write down what you do. Then, you keep thinking about how you can get it better and better and better. If I tell everyone else this is what we stand for, then it’s a dictatorship. If we all decide why we stand for it and how we do it, then we’re co-creating. Great.

Robert: Exactly.

Andrew: The next step you’re saying is maybe invite people who are struggling to document and keep their team together. And, to come into our office and see how we document. And, to allow anyone on the team to just open up our documents and say here’s how we screen guests, here’s how we read books so that we really absorb what we’re learning, and so on.

Even though that’s going to take an hour, maybe a precious hour, from one other team member’s time, you’re saying it’s worthwhile. Because it’s going to reinforce the way that she does it, and it’s going to reinforce the message of systemization in her when she teaches it.

Robert: Yeah. There’s that. There’s that you don’t know what to expect when it comes back. Some people might have more new ideas on systemizing that you didn’t know about.

Andrew: I see.

Robert: The other thing is it’s for your own guests. Your own super fans, they want to know what’s behind the scenes and what does it take to make this show. They feel like they’re a part of that process by seeing it happen.

Andrew: I see. All right, I get it. Okay. And, you’re talking about even simple things like that. If I’m running a small operation where I don’t have this kind of interesting background and all this, even if all I do is I love to systemize, even if all I do is I love to read books and turn them into programs like this, that’s something that I stand for and I believe, and someone would want to watch and come in and learn from that.

Robert: Oh yeah, absolutely. I’m sure so many of your viewers are asking how do you get through a book so quickly, what’s your tip on how to read it, how do you ramp that up, and what are the programs you use. I’m sure a ton of your audience is curious about all of that.

Andrew: You know what? I’ve wanted the team here to do that, to share how they do it, for the same reason that you’ve just talked about. I think maybe I punked out of doing it. Because I thought, well, it’s going to take too long. Maybe I thought too much like we should make a formal program out of it.

You’re saying no, just invite them in. Maybe I’m thinking, too, if it’s not in the office we could just do a screen share where someone who reads the books here… We have a couple of people who read your book, believe me, at least a couple. Maybe Alex Champagne who read it can, say, do a GoToMeeting with someone and say here’s how I do it.

Robert: Yeah.

Andrew: Here’s what I’m looking for. This is how I find the good stuff. All right. I like it.

Let’s go onto the next point. I’ve started highlighting this point so people can see where we are and follow along. The next one is to let culture feed culture. Here’s what I saw. By the way, we go and we hunt so much to see is this true, is this something the company really does, and how do they do it.

Here’s what I found that I think you’ll understand. Right now Zappos has a help wanted ad on some site for an audio visual college intern. I looked at it to understand what’s going on here. I don’t know if people can see it. I’ll just read it. There’s a little line there that I’ve highlighted with a red box. It says shooting and editing videos to magnify the Zappos family culture to the world.

So, there’s a team of people who do this, and an intern now who’s going to be hired on to shoot video of the culture.

Robert: Yeah.

Andrew: And, this is something that you talk about in your book. What’s going on here? Help us see behind the scenes what they’re doing.

Robert: Yeah. In a way it’s like a much more extensive example of when you hang out with your friends and you all recount a really funny story that you just loved. You get to retell it again and re-experience it that way.

That’s what happens when a culture decides to actually take the time to document in whatever ways, video is one of the best, and say this was a moment in our time and we get to relive that because that was something that can’t just be passed down orally if you’ve got generations and generations coming through and you can show them these examples of the company, another one is the Zappos Family music video that was done that was really incredible.

We even did that on my own team where we did like a reality TV show style introduction that highlights each of our personalities and we would just love watching it every now and then because it reminded us of each other’s personalities, why we liked each other, why we like working together and so it’s this idea that culture really feeds on itself so do what you can to document it and make it fun so that you can use what to re- invigorate the culture.

Andrew: Ah, I see, okay. So if one of the things we stand for is having fun on the job, it’s not enough to just have fun on the job, you’re suggesting also document is so you know that it’s precious, document it so that a year from now you can go back and look at it, that twenty years from now people who still continue this culture of fun can go back and look and say here, we’ve always been like this. Culture feeds culture meaning document it, save it, and keep sharing it within the organization.

Robert: Exactly.

Andrew: Alright, so what about a smaller organization? You work with companies that are smaller, that are just getting started with their culture. What do you do for a company of say five people, small funding, a few hundred thousand dollars, and they say we’re on the verge of doing something great, we want to implement this, is it just a matter of taking iPhones and taking photos?

Robert: It really can be that simple. You wouldn’t believe how long at Zappos we were doing it just with Flip Cams, before there was even an A/B team. It’s that whole idea that, yeah with an iPhone everybody’s got an incredible camera now, if you want to you can even edit it on there but [??] it has the software as well, you throw in music, it’s even got movie preview stuff things you can do, it’s just so incredibly simple to do it that anybody can.

Andrew: I’m imagining of course it’s not just photos of what’s going on day to day but it’s photos of what you stand for or what you want the culture to represent, right?

Robert: Yeah.

Andrew: Okay, so it’s not just here’s me on the job today, here’s me with my brand new computer, we don’t stand for [??] new computers and what we stand for it’s those areas that signify that show and expression of what you stand for.

Robert: Yeah. Like it would be great if somebody on your team, after you got on the phone with like a fantastic interview and you’re like feeling great, they just popped out the phone, they said Andrew what’s up, well what was great about that interview, and in that moment when you have all that energy, you’re just showing it and sharing it.

Andrew: You know what, we’ve had those situations and we haven’t captured it, and you know what, and I always think that the parts that are really serious to us, that are important, I don’t want to document because I want to be more in the moment but I always regret it later on.

Like last night some people from Mixergy audience came over to my house and we talked and we had this really great discussion, and at the time I thought I shouldn’t be taking photos, now I’m really regretting not doing it, that personal conversation is one of the things that I want to preserve and I want to remember later on when hopefully we’ll do more and more of it.

Robert: Exactly.

Andrew: On to the big board again, this is one of my favorites, make culture game like. The reason this is one of my favorites is because first of all, I love games like, I love games like this one, this is my favorite game. And second because there is a guide, a table in your book that helps me understand where I’ve screwed up in the past. Right, there is it. Can I actually give this screenshot to the audience from the book because I don’t think they can see it on the screen as clearly? Are you okay with that?

Robert: So, I’m going to take them through it, is that what you said?

Andrew: Well yeah there is, first of all what I’m asking is can I give this to the audience this[??] screenshot?

Robert: Yeah.

Andrew: Help me understand how culture should be game like and then we can talk about this box.

Robert: Sure. I think the key distinction here is, this is not gamification[sp], gamification is like adding badges and scores and points and things like that which does have its place absolutely. This is about game dynamics and a lot of this comes out of Jane McGonigal’s work from “Reality is Broken”, she studied gaming and it has these core four elements that if you see it you can see it anywhere in culture and if the culture breakdown is happening it’s usually in one of these four areas.

So the idea is that every game, and not all games are fun, again it’s about the dynamics of the game because if you have the dynamics then you know how to play and you know how to win. If you don’t know how to play and you don’t know how to win the game that’s where it becomes really frustrating. So, in order to have a good game, it requires that one, a clear goal, what does a win even look like, you wouldn’t believe how many employees are just thinking, how do I know if I’ve done my job well, how do I know if I’m succeeding here? Many people don’t.

Andrew: Okay.

Robert: So, a clear goal both for an individual as well as the team and as well as the company.

Andrew: Did you always know what your goal was when you were working on Zappos Insights?

Robert: It kept changing. It kept changing. It didn’t change every day, and we would talk about how it would change. For example, when I got in there the verse was just approve the business model. We weren’t even sure this was going to take. Doing the first event and seeing if people would pay for it, that was the first win.

Andrew: Okay. And, Zappos Insights is where you taught the Zappos way to other companies, right?

Robert: Exactly. It wasn’t only Zappos way. We really were studying culture entirely.

Andrew: I see.

Robert: All companies would come through, and we would learn from them as well, so not just the Zappos culture.

Andrew: Okay. So, the first one is here, and I’ll zoom in on just that top one. There it is. The first one is have a clear goal. Unhealthy companies, unhealthy games, have fuzzy goals. If you want to have healthy culture everyone needs to have a clear goal.

Robert: Yeah. When people say we’re going to be the best blah, blah, blah, what does that mean? How do we know if we’ve achieved it? And, even defining that, if it’s fuzzy, or if some people know the goal and some don’t, or some people have one goal but another group or department or team has a competing goal, that’s, again, another area where culture goes wrong.

Andrew: Okay. The next one is clear rules versus vague rules.

Robert: Yeah. One of the rules, for example, if you’re playing soccer and somebody decides to pick up the ball, then it becomes a really bad game. Suddenly, it’s not a lot of fun when people are just making up their own rules. This is what can happen if they’re not clearly defined or if they are defined but they’re not enforced.

Some companies have core values as rules, but they’re more like guidelines. They just say this is what we recommend, but if you happen to be a high performer who’s making us a lot of money and you break one of these rules, that’s okay. We’re going to overlook that. But, in case we need to enforce them we will.

That’s where things get really vague. It’s where some people have some rules, other people have others. Some are enforced. Some are not. That’s when people start to check out or say, you know what, I’m going to make up my own rules. They start to play politics and realize, oh, Andrew really plays by these rules, but John over here plays by these other rules.

That’s when they start having to navigate the corporation to understand what rules people are playing by rather than everybody just having clear rules, and playing by those, and there being consequences for not following them.

Andrew: You know what? It is hard. So, one of the rules here at Mixergy is whatever you do you document so that you teach other people on the team how you do it. I’m tempted sometimes to just say if this is too hard don’t document it. Or, if you’re too important and you’re too bored with documenting then don’t do it. You’ve got to stick with those rules. It’s so tough, because I don’t want to be a rule master. I want to just create.

Robert: Well, there may be another rule there to explore, like in which case is it absolutely a must. And, maybe there are certain things that need to be documented that don’t, and you establish a clearer rule about that. So, it’s just more clarity on the rule rather than everything gets documented.

Andrew: Got you. Okay. On to the next one which I’ll bring up here in a second. I’ve just been pulling them out and copying and pasting as you can see. Accessible feedback. Healthy companies, healthy games, have accessible feedback. Unhealthy companies have no feedback. What kind of feedback do you have in a game, by the way? What do you mean?

Robert: In a game it’s just the score. It’s how many goals do you have. It’s a very easy process. You understand. Everybody is on the same page of if we’re winning or if we’re not by that feedback mechanism of the score.

Andrew: Okay.

Robert: In a company it becomes a little more tricky and complex where it’s, again, on an individual level, a team level, and a company level. Many employees complain in surveys that they don’t know how well they’re doing. I’ve had star employees say to me, well, I’m not even sure if I’m doing that well. I said, are you kidding. Because there wasn’t an institutionalized way of giving them feedback so that they know that they’re doing well.

On a team and especially company level, the more visual that can be the better. So, if you can actually see on walls how are we doing economically in terms of our customer score, in terms of just anything that you want important, make it visual and in front where you’re keeping that score. That’s going to keep it front of mind, whereas if it’s not available people really start to freak out. Because they don’t understand how well the company’s doing and they don’t understand how well they’re doing as employees.

Andrew: I get that. Okay. Then, the final one is, oh, I’m grabbing the wrong image here. There it is. The final one right there is healthy companies and healthy games have opt in. Unhealthy companies, unhealthy games are mandatory enforced.

Robert: Absolutely. The idea with games is you get to choose whether you play them or not. What companies tend to do is force people to do things. This is happening at every level from assigning projects without even saying, hey, do you agree to do this. Agreement is just assumed. They don’t actually get that agreement.

One of the best examples or stories of this that I’ve seen of why this is so powerful and how it breaks down of actually opting in consciously is what happens with restaurants. A study was done that showed when a maitre d’ or somebody on the phone says, “Hey, Mr. Johnson, we’ve got you down for four people at 7:30 p.m., call us if anything changes, a high percentage of the time they would not call. The table goes unused and they lose money.

Whereas when it was changed to an opt in style conversation the person said, “Hey, we’ve got you down for 7:30 p.m., will you call us if anything changes, and actually waiting to see if there’s agreement. They’d wait, and the person would say yes. Now that they’ve actually opted in, the percentage shot up of people actually calling to do it. Because they actually agreed.

That opt in is happening in everything from levels of assignments to who’s going to be in on a meeting to even coming in for the job. That’s why Zappos has the famous offer $4,000 sometimes to quit so that people could say okay, I’m completely here by choice, rather than I have to be here for money. If they got in the door and said oh my God this is way overwhelming, I didn’t know it would be this crazy here, but this is my job and I have my bills to pay and I’ve got my family.

No. Let’s take that off the table and say do you really, fully want to be here, are you fully opting in.

Andrew: Okay. On to the big board. The next one is build your culture on systems. I’m going back to this image that I showed earlier. This does not look like a company that’s systemized. It looks like a company that’s just having fun. There are streamers. Do you mean the same thing by systems as I would? What do you mean by that?

Robert: Yeah. A system is an institutionalized habit. So, when we create habits it means we don’t have to think about it anymore and we do what we need to do. For example, if you have a habit of going to the gym every day, every morning…

Andrew: …Yeah…

Robert: …and you do that, you don’t have to think about getting in shape. You are just simply doing it as habit. So, what systems do are institutionalize habits.

For example, when Zappos as a company decides, you know what we’re going to do, we need to meet four times a year and check in. Everybody gets together. We’re going to have fun. We’re going to go over the company numbers. We’re going to get educated.

That’s done four times a year no matter what. That’s just one system example. The entire recruiting process, the entire training process, each of these there was a long while before determining the core values, and then really creating processes that make the core values a part of everyday living rather than everybody having to think constantly how am I living the values.

Andrew: You say the three parts of a system are elements, interconnections, and purposes. What do you mean?

Robert: The idea with this is the elements are like, for example, people. The interconnectedness is what’s the relationship there. Then, the purposes is why.

Like any system, you want to have a purpose to it. For example, a system would be onboarding and recruiting. So, onboarding, you’re getting people within there. For example, what’s being paid attention to are the people there, but what are the connections to them?

So, rather than just onboarding where people are coming in and learning what they have to do, a lot of time is spent building the connections between people and building the connections between teams. Because this is the system that’s going to get it done. So, when people kind of come in assuming okay, I’ll just train people to do what they do, that’s all going to happen.

But, it’s the interconnectedness of the elements and to which purpose so to which value create fun, a little weirdness, deliver [Inaudible 0:03:48] service whatever those values are. Each of those values is a purpose. So, this kind of gets to high level systems thinking. But, you know, if you really…

Andrew: …Can you give me an example of how a smaller company would use this.

Robert: That’s a good question. Let me think about that. The idea with it is just to start rather than getting overwhelmed with it. That’s why I use the example of somebody’s first day.

Andrew: I see.

Robert: What are you going to use, no matter what position it is, no matter when they’re coming in, and say okay this is what we need to do to bring them in? Even something I think that’s important is how you start off the day.

What I used to do with my team was we’d have 15 minutes of just saying what it is that we’re really excited to be working on, what’s the thing we’re going to focus on, and any updates. We would do this every morning as a ritual, as a system, to get people to connected to what each other are doing and to build excitement and energy for the day.

Andrew: Got you, okay. So, we’re talking about much simpler systems than I imagined. Especially when we were talking about the Zappos system I started to feel, oh, this is overwhelming, it’s going to take a long time to build it and I should spend that time building my company. But, when you bring it down to the level of a system for how you start your day, a system for how your day. A system for how you on-board a new employee.

Then I’d really understand the importance of it it, first of all for us, and also I can see that you can start simply. In my mind I’m thinking alright; just make sure that we give them their GMail account or the internal Google app account with our domain. Let’s make sure that we give them access to Google docs and show them how that works. Alright. So we start simple, we go from there. But it’s a system that reinforces this culture and makes it easier for people to work with us.

Robert: Exactly.

Andrew: Okay. Let’s go on to the Pen Ultimate. It’s one of my favorite words apparently. Pen Ultimate point here, which is to use the currency of culture. What is that currency? What I’ve come to realize is there’s actually set [??] petal. Culture currencies that are going on. So one that actually isn’t so much focused on the book, but I’ve seen as just one of the most important is energy. Energy. Energy is hugely important.

And, I mean, just think about it on the simplest level. You know, if you come to work, and you’re energized you can take on the world. If you come to work and you’ve got no energy, I could give you your favorite book, your favorite project and you would just say, I just want to go home and watch a movie.

Robert: Okay.

Andrew: How many business schools are really focused on energy? I don’t hear of any, really. I mean, some work like Tony Schwartz’s, but they’re not really drawn into the same way nutrition isn’t taught to doctors. But it’s really the core of it. So, what, you know, one of the things that we would do is that, of course, is have a three minute dance party. We’d throw on a song. Everybody dancing for three minutes and then going back to work. Because energy’s the currency. Energy is what’s really running things.

Robert: I see. What other currencies are there? Actually, I think I’ve got one. One of them is one of my favorites that I keep trying to empathize to interviewees.

Andrew: Mm-hmm.

Robert: Which is storytelling. And I love that this article did so well on Life Hacker. The power of storytelling. Why is story telling such a power currency?

Andrew: It’s so powerful because it’s essentially, it’s a currency that carries values without telling people what to do. And, so people can actually see themselves in the story. See the company in the story. When you should see like. When you hear a story, for example, about how the company had to sacrifice everything for a core value.

Robert: Uh-huh.

Andrew: And then it’s not . . . Well, there’s an incredibly story about that. That at Zappos where 25% of profits were let go of in a day. And over into dedicate itself to service. And when you do that, you don’t have to actually say to employees, we value service here. And you should too.

Robert: What is that? What is that story?

Andrew: That story is when during the early days when it was expanding to become one of the biggest, to become the biggest shoe store. Every brand would allow Zappos to ship shoes out. So some would drop ship on Zappos’ behalf. But if they would do it right, there was no way that the company could do anything. They’d say, hey, I got my shoes two weeks late. Why not? And you really couldn’t throw the vendor under the bus.

So the choice was, does the company would work with every single brand and say, hey you know what, some people may get their shoes two weeks late, but we’re using every brand. Or cut off the brands that will not directly give the shoes to the warehouse and have a top level service experience.

And in one day, 25 percent of brands were cut. Huge percentage of revenue, just dropped off the table, to say, you know what, we are more about service than we are about revenue and becoming the biggest shoe store in the world. And that play ended up being a move, that not only got it to be the biggest shoe store in the world, but also #1 in customer service according to American Express’ customers.

So those [??] were achieved by really committing to value. So when you have a story like that, you don’t have to say to people, hey values are important and we value them and we value service and tell people what to think. That’s that whole mandatory, non opt-in kind of style. If you tell a story that’s really inspiring, people immediately get that it’s important and they get all the emotion and energy that comes with it.

Robert: But isn’t it just faster to say, we value service over money? Versus saying, there was a time where we lopped off 25 percent of our revenue because that came from companies that didn’t deliver to our customers fast enough. And, you know, them tell them the story they way that you told it. Shouldn’t we just go for the faster, more efficient way than the story telling?

This is, by the way, what becomes just like the devil’s advocate. Obviously I don’t believe it. But, I should keep challenging this way because I don’t want to keep reinforcing what I believe. I want to challenge what I believe. And in this case . . .

Andrew: My whole thing whenever I speak to any audience is I say don’t believe anything I’m saying. Don’t believe any of it. Try it. And see what happens. And try those two techniques. And you’ll see, if that works for you great. I really seriously doubt it will. If you have the access to a story. If you don’t have access to a story, that says something, too. Because it usually means there wasn’t that full commitment that it became tested. If you have both, I would try it. If it works for you just to tell people and [??] all-star service. Great.

Robert: Alright.

Andrew: Finally embrace the secret to innovation. I did a search for Tony Hsieh. I came up with this. Tony Hsieh, of course, the founder of Zappos. I shouldn’t even have to say it even in a whisper. The audience should know. Right there on the bottom it says learn from failure advises Zappos’ Tony Hsieh. What does this have to do with the secret of innovation?

Robert: Sure. The big secret to it that I was surprised to learn – because I thought that I had a great team that was fantastic and there weren’t any issues going on there – but, when we really looked underneath we found that people were actually kind of scared, scared to try something new, scared to do something different.

We can say all day to people hey you’re empowered, do it differently, try new things. But, if people don’t actually feel safe to do it they will not. They’ll find any kind of reason not to, all kinds, even good ones. Hey, I’m way too busy with this other stuff. I’m not going to do it. All kinds of issues if they don’t feel safe.

But, when that happened… For example, at Zappos somebody made literally a million dollar mistake. Tony said we just had a million dollars’ worth of learning. There are all kinds of things that could’ve happened if we didn’t learn it this way. That said to the company and the world hey we value learning, we value innovation, and if you screw up but learn and have great intentions it is okay.

Andrew: I see. So, the way to encourage innovation is to allow for failure. And, of course, the way to communicate that we allow for failure within the organization is to tell stories like the one that you heard about the person who lost a million dollars.

Robert: Exactly.

Andrew: All right. The book is “The Culture Blueprint.” If people want to check it out, is the best place for me to suggest that they go cultureblueprint.com?

Robert: It’s going to be coming up there. They can go to robertrichman.com and find information there. Right now I’m offering 10 culture hacks for free. The book hasn’t come out yet. I decided what I’m going to do is launch it early next year in a crowd funding campaign…

Andrew: …Okay…

Robert: …as well as by Kindle. Because my big thing with this is I don’t really care so much about best seller list. I want people who are really excited about this, and want to use it, and are going to share stories back about how they used it.

So, I’m going to launch it to a very limited audience first. If you want to find out about how to be a part of that you can go to robertrichman.com and download the culture hacks there. I’ll be sure to keep you updated.

Andrew: So, we’re talking about this page right here. Where do I click to get that?

Robert: That’s under, I’ve got to look myself here.

Andrew: I know where to find the culture hacks, but I don’t remember where it is over here.

Robert: If you go to engage, and then go to culture blueprint.

Andrew: Engage, and then culture blueprint. Where is that?

Robert: Oh my gosh. Sorry, folks. I think we put it under speaking…

Andrew: …Oh I see, engage, and then culture blueprint…

Robert: …Yeah, I did…

Andrew: …at the top right up here. You know what? I’m going to just link people directly to that so that they can get these culture hacks.

Robert: Great.

Andrew: Alright, I’m going to put it right here. Boom, I have it now in the notes. What are the culture hacks?

Robert: The culture hacks are things that I realize that people can make a change very, very quickly. What happened was people would come in and say you know what, I don’t have a year to work on a big culture change, especially from big companies. To do a real core values process that I guide people through, it does take seven months or so to really, really get it, understand it, and develop it through the company.

But, I didn’t want that to be a limiting factor for people not to create shifts in their culture. So, what I did was I said if somebody was to just read this, go to the office immediately, and make a big impact or change on the culture, then what would that be. That’s what I put those tips together for.

Andrew: Alright. And if people want to hire you? How about if they say you know what, screw it. I don’t want to read the book. I don’t want to wait for the book to come out. I just want you to do it for me. Is there a place? I’m looking on your site. Let me see if I can find that.

Robert: Yeah, you can just contact, I think there’s a contact button there…

Andrew: …Just contact you. Are you doing that now that you’re not with Insights?

Robert: Yeah. Basically, I’m doing keynote speeches and then culture assessments which is like a due diligence of culture.

But, the real excitement now is in the core values work. Because when companies do that it lasts for essentially decades, potentially a lifetime, when you have the core values implemented through the whole company. That’s what we’re doing now is actually going into companies, excavating those core values, and then getting them implemented throughout the organization.

Andrew: I like the way you say it – excavating. They’re there.

All right. Thank you so much for doing this. Thank you all for being a part of it. If you got anything of value from this or any other program that I’ve put on, or any other program you see online, find a way to tell the person that you learned from.

In this case, it’s Robert. I would actually suggest if you got anything of value just go ahead and email him. The contact form is right there on his site. His email address is on his site, the same one that I always use for him. Robert, thank you so much for teaching.

Robert: My pleasure. Thank you, Andrew.

Andrew: You bet. Thank you all for being a part of it. Bye, guys.

DOWNLOAD TRANSCRIPT

Master Class:
Marketing for small businesses
(Using a step-by-step marketing system)
Taught by John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing

Master Class: Marketing for small businesses


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Transcript

Andrew: Hey everyone. This session is about giving small business owners a step by step marketing system. It’s led by John Jantsch. He is the founder of Duct Tape Marketing, an education and consulting company which teaches real world, proven, small business marketing ideas and strategies. He is also the author of this book, “Duct Tape Marketing.”I’ll help facilitate. My name is Andrew Warner. I am the founder of Mixergy, where proven founders like John teach. These ideas come directly from John’s book. We’ve pulled out a few that we think you as a member of the Mixergy community will be especially interested in, and we’re going to go over them and give you an understanding of John’s process for marketing for small businesses.Welcome, John.John: Hey, thanks Andrew.

Andrew: One of the problems that we are here to address is an issue that Laura Frazier had. What was the issue that she had when she ran Espresso Escapes?

John: She had a coffee shop, an espresso business. It’s probably a business that really relies on that everyday customer coming in. That’s how they build momentum. But, she really suffered from the same problem every business has. What do I do that’s cost effective? How do I promote my business in a way that allows me to build that regular customer?

Andrew: I see. So, what did she end up doing to get regular customers for her business?

John: She tried a lot of things, like advertising and different things. She said one day on a whim she came up with this idea. A couple of people told her it was crazy. She made up these cards. She played on the potty humor, if you will. She played on the being regular in those types of areas and being a regular customer.

She printed up cards that had a message. It was something like nothing feels as good as being regular, or something of that nature. On the other side it had a coupon and information about her shop. I don’t know if she paid people to do it or she did it herself, but she left them around town in various bathrooms.

I think people thought it was funny. This was before social media of any sort. You can imagine today how people would be tweeting this. She found that people came into her shop. It cost her very little.

When I interviewed her she swore it was absolutely the biggest thing she’d done from a promotional standpoint. She even got a couple of articles in local newspapers about the idea. It turned into a real hit for her.

Andrew: All because she printed up these coupons where on the back of the coupon it said nothing feels good like being regular, and she passed them out in bathrooms. I can see how that would be shocking and get attention. But, I’m curious. Before we get into the specifics of the ideas that we’ll be talking about today, what about this makes it into “Duct Tape Marketing?”

John: The idea behind it, and it’s the metaphor of the name quite frankly, is that it’s simple, effective, and affordable. I’d owned my own small business for at least 10 or 12 years already before I wrote the book “Duct Tape Marketing” and really refocused my business totally on small business. It’s kind of the perfect metaphor that a lot of small businesses go through.

I’m sure a lot of your viewers, listeners, and subscribers go through that same thing. What can I do that’s cost effective that I can bootstrap, that I could try tomorrow and see if it works? We’re going to talk about strategy, too. But, those are the kinds of tactics that really get my attention. I think they’re fun. Quite frankly, they’re very practical.

In my mind they’re one of the key advantages that the small business has. Can you imagine Starbucks doing what we just described? They’d be ridiculed. But, a small business owner who’s trying things out and really has the ability to change on the [??] that kind of thing.

Andrew: All right, let’s get into these ideas right now. The first one is you say to put strategy before tactics. At your company, what is your strategy?

John: First, let me describe what I mean by that and why that’s really point number one.

Andrew: Okay.

John: For maybe hundreds or thousands of small business owners that I’ve worked with, the first question was always some tactical thing. Do I need a website? Nowadays, of course, it’s should I be on Facebook? What social network should I jump into? They really get pulled by kind of the idea of the week. I tell people when I consult with them you can’t pass Go unless you have a firm strategy and that firm strategy says here is who our narrowly defined ideal customer is. And, here’s how we’re going to tell them or get them to understand how we’re different than everybody else who says they do what we do.

That second part, of course, is crucial because there has to be some difference. There has to be some way that you stand out, that you offer value, and that you do what you do in a way that nobody else does. A combination of those two elements really makes up a marketing strategy. For a lot of small businesses it’s really their business strategy.

It is the thing that we then can hang all of the tactics on or be a filter for the tactics. A lot of times, when somebody will develop a really strong marketing strategy it makes it very easy then to say we’re not doing that, we’re not going into Facebook or whatever the tactic is just…[SS]…

Andrew: …But, once you come up with your strategy you’re able to express to others and to yourself what you’re going to do and also understand what’s just not right for you.

John: Exactly. It’s like everything, all the tactics that you do, then just become the voice of a very well defined strategy. So, you’re right, [??] decide what not to do as well as what to do.

Andrew: Here’s how you put it in your book for your business. I’m always curious about how the people, the entrepreneurs who I interview, use the ideas that they teach.

You said, when I created “Duct Tape Marketing,” my stated strategy was to create a recognizable small business marketing brand by turning marketing for small businesses into a system and product. This strategy contained a narrowly defined ideal client and a clear point of differentiation. Our mission was to radically change the way small business owners taught marketing, and our marketing as a system strategy became how we do that.

So, marketing as a system – that is your strategy, and that’s the kind of thing that you want us to do.

John: Yeah. What I did to create that point of differentiation was… Nobody in the small business world was really talking about marketing as a system. We went as far as to suggest when somebody [??] – and we’re going to talk about the talking logo or a way to really describe your difference – I would tell them I install the Duct Tape Marketing system.

What I found was for my business I actually created this point of differentiation quite selfishly for myself. I was tired of walking into a business and saying what do you need. Okay, we’ll write a proposal. Then, we’ll come back and tell you what we can do.

So, I said what if I created this turnkey system where I’d say, look, here’s what I’m going to do and here’s what you’re going to do. Here are the results you can expect. By the way, here’s what it’s going to cost.

I was, of course, addressing my frustration. What was interesting about that – and when I knew I was really onto something – was that I ended up addressing the greatest frustration most small businesses have. That is how do I buy marketing, how do I acquire marketing services. Because everybody was essentially making it up on the fly. Nobody was walking in and saying every other part of your business is a system so why isn’t marketing.

Andrew: Here’s the way I see that strategy expressed on your website. I happened to show it earlier, so I still have it up on my screen. Here it is, the ultimate system. One of your products includes the word system in it. You are not just teaching marketing. You’re giving people a system.

John: You bet.

Andrew: Now I understand it, this tactic illustrated through your business. How does the person who’s listening to us right now come up with their strategy?

John: One of the ways I have, a really simple way, may not be the only answer. But, it can be a great start. We’ll come back and dissect that idea of an ideal customer. But, the way I have been successful in getting small business owners to identify and then, hopefully, embrace that difference is to talk to their customers. Talk to six, eight, or ten of your ideal customers [??] ones where, and this is the easy test, ones where you said if I had six, eight, or ten more just like that then life would be great. Ask them why they hired you in the first place, and why they stick with you, and what you do that nobody else does.

A lot of times you’re going to get generic answers like, well, you provide good service, things like that. You dig a little deeper. You say tell me a story about a time when we provided good service. You ask what does good service look like to you.

Here’s what my experience has been in doing now thousands of these interviews for small business owners. You’re going to start hearing themes over and over again. A lot of times it’s the little things that you didn’t know were so valuable, that you thought maybe everybody else did. A lot of times that’s what you have to embrace and say here’s how we’re different, here’s how we’re going to tell the world that we’re different.

Sometimes it takes some guts. Because we all want to sound really, really important, right? And our business does this, and it solves this world problem. Then, our customers tells us, well, that’s great. But what I really like is that you return my phone calls, right? [laughter] It’s the little things like that.

I’ll give you an example. We had a remodeling contractor. This is one of my favorite stories. They did great work. They had carpenters on staff, they did great craftsmanship, and they would swear, when asked, that that’s our key difference is that we do great work.

We started talking to their customers, and their customers said, well, yeah. They do great work, but they’re expensive. We expected them to do great work. What they do that nobody else does is at the end of each day they clean up the job site like nobody else that we’ve ever worked with. They are nice to our kids, they don’t let the dog out, I mean, it was all this stuff that they didn’t think to really promote, and yet it became an essential part of their overall message, that the process of how you get your project done is just as important as the end project.

It really changed their entire marketing message, and really their entire business mentality, to the extent that allowed them to grow in the period we worked with them about 300% just with that new focus and that new message.

Andrew: All right. Great example. Let’s go on to the next big idea, which is to identify your ideal client.

John: Yeah. I …

Andrew: Uh-huh. I was going to show … [??] …

John: I was just going to say, you can tell I’m a little giddy about this stuff. I love talking about these concepts, because I’ve seen the power that they can have. Even if people have heard some of these things over and over again, the whole packaging of them as a system is really a very powerful concept. The idea of the ideal client is that you can’t serve everybody. You can’t be all things to all people.

So often, I talk to larger audiences all the time and I’ll ask people repeatedly who’s your ideal client. I can’t tell you how many times people have said, “Anybody who says they’ll pay us.” Right? That’s kind of the typical response so often. What happens is, of course then I say well, do you want this kind of client or that? Well, no. We don’t want those people. We don’t want people to beat us up on price, or no, we don’t want people that don’t sit through our process so that we can deliver [??].

We start narrowing that down, and it turns out that there are certain not only demographics, the type of business, or firmagraphics as we call them now, or the type of individual. Those are interesting characteristics, but what always happens is, when we really narrow it down to that, tell me about six or eight or ten customers that, if you had six or eight or ten more just like that. There’s always a behavior. A certain type of thing that they do. A certain type of thing they appreciate.

For example, in my business, or my marketing consultants, we have determined that if a small business owner also participates in their industry association, is on committees, or serves on the board of their chamber, or something of that nature, that that’s a really good marker of a behavior that suggests they understand lifelong learning, they want to grow their business, and they want to make their industry better.

So a lot of times you can get really good at creating that narrowly-defined ideal customer. It doesn’t mean that you’re not going to take work outside of that, but if you know who you’re looking for, then you can use all of your marketing and all of your decisions about where you’re going to advertise, what shows you’re going to participate in, what trade shows you’re going to go to, and really focus on attracting more of that ideal customer.

Andrew: Here’s an example of that that I saw in the book. This is Malinda. I’ll zoom right into her site. This is Malinda Bartling [SP]. She’s a real estate agent who is focusing on people who have changing lifestyles. She knew that it worked for her, that this message worked for her, when a friend of hers introduced her to a new client.

She said to this friend, “Mary, why didn’t you refer this person to your son?” And Mary said, “Well, it’s because this person was changing lifestyles, and I know you specialize in that.” Another real estate broker didn’t get that business. Malinda did because she focused on that point in people’s lives.

John: Yeah, and what’s interesting about that example is, I think in that case there are probably some specific details that are really helpful. You get into some of the finances say of a divorced couple or something, you know. There can definitely be some particulars that somebody with experience … but the big thing is that the perception is certainly that hey, if this is my situation, if you only work with companies of this size or you only work with people that are in a changing lifestyle, and I myself identify as one of those, at least the belief is that you are going to know how to meet my needs.

Quite frankly, or quite often, that belief turns into the expectation that I’m actually going to pay you a premium to do so, because [??] after all the BS, you’re going to know what I need, and that’s going to get me a better solution.

Andrew: In your business, if you say, “I help anyone with marketing,” you wouldn’t get as many referrals, and you wouldn’t be able to charge as high a premium as if you say, “I help small businesses with marketing.” And that’s what you want us to do. Find that ideal client, communicate that that’s your ideal client, and people will send those clients to you and you’ll be able to charge a premium because you specialize.

John: Quite often, that’s the case, and you can even go farther than that. I’ve chosen to focus on the small business that wants to go to the next level that understands the idea of a system is very attractive, too, and so we hear that time and time again from the folks that hire our consultants is “I want that system in my business.” But you can take that a step farther.

I can be the marketing consultant that specializes in working with plumbers, for example. That would be another great way to niche down even farther. The key is that you’ve got to be able to make a living in that niche, but the narrower you can go, the better in many cases.

Andrew: Real quick. This is a magazine I wouldn’t expect you to read, but there was a period there when you were reading it. You don’t care about the Olsen twins, you don’t care about most of the topics in there. Why did you read People Magazine?

John: Well, I use that example in the book, and quite frankly, now there’s so many only examples, but the thing about People Magazine, if you’ve ever stood in a grocery store aisle, you’ve got all these kind of magazines. Cosmopolitan is another great example. The men’s magazines, like Men’s Fitness, and the National Enquirer. One of the things that these magazines do is they know how, their existence is sucking people in by the headlines that they have on the cover. And they really understand the formula for how to do that.

And the other thing that I think that, particularly in the case of People Magazine, is that if your business relies at all to any degree on pop culture, and what’s going on, and the trends, how silly the world is being, then this is sort of the leading edge of that silliness, but not in a hip way, at all, but more in a, “it’s tipped,” right?

The mass market is now on board with whatever that trend is, so it’s one example of how you have to broaden your horizons, and particularly to get outside of your industry and don’t just focus on the websites and the blogs and the magazines and the newsletters in your industry. Get out there and read everything, particularly anything that your customers are looking at.

Andrew: Here’s the next big point: Discover your core marketing message. This company did it. Again, I will zoom in. Steve, I hope I’m pronouncing his last name right, [SP] and Neil Harris Heating and Cooling. They developed a consistent core marketing message that separated their company from the competition, positioned it at the top of consumers’ minds, and their message is, “Technicians you can trust with your house keys.”

And I can see that right up in the upper left, they have those house keys, there’s an arrow that [??] pointed to a sign there, where they have a picture of house keys on it, too, so I can see the consistency of the message. I see the power of it, “Technicians you can trust with your house keys.” How did they come to that? How [??]

John: Yeah, that’s a great story. I think they’ve actually changed their name, now, so it’s not Neil Harris anymore, but, they came to that by doing those interviews, actually. They had, repeatedly, you think about people coming into your home, and that’s why people rely upon referrals so much. That’s kind of a hard, potentially scary thing to have somebody show up, and come in, and a lot of times you need to leave for a while, while they’re working on a project.

And they just repeatedly heard people say, “Your technicians are just so great. We’d have them over for coffee.” And they even had some people say, “We just give them our keys, because we’re going on vacation, and we want them to finish.” And so they said, “We’re going to run with that theme,” and it’s because of that idea, what they’re playing on, of course, is they’re using a catchy slogan, so that’s different from your point of differentiation.

Their point of differentiation is that their technicians are so clean and professional and friendly, that that’s their differentiator, but they turned that into a slogan of sorts that drove that message home in a way that made people–That’s like saying, “You can trust us,” but in a way that certainly brings it home from a marketing standpoint. So, that’s surely where they came up with that slogan. It’s a great example of then how to turn that into your core message into something that delivers for you from a marketing standpoint.

Andrew: Okay, so I can see how it originates with phone calls and conversations with customers. I want to get a more tactical approach from my audience so that we know how we can also come up with a short message. Maybe this is a good time for us to talk about a talking logo.

John: Sure.

Andrew: What is a talking logo?

John: Well, it’s a device that I really came up with to really help and it’s really just a tool to help in this idea of creating a core message. So, it starts with . . . well, you now understand a logo of course, is that your identifier that should say something about you and should be recognizable and all those things. So, the idea of a talking logo is that same thing, but it’s the answer to this question. What do you do for a living?

Andrew: When people ask you what do you do for a living you want to [inaudible 00:00:58] their answer for them?

John: Yeah, when people ask you, but in terms of using it as a tool, I’ll pose that question to a client.

Andrew: Mm-hmm.

John: What do you do for a living? Well, they always say, well I’m a chiropractor. I am a dentist. I’m a plumber, right? It’s their title.

Andrew: I’m a web designer.

John: Yeah, I’m a web designer, right? So, imagine you’re at this fictional cocktail party or networking event and somebody asks you that. Oh, you’re a chiropractor? Okay, don’t need one of those. You know, see you later, right or you’re a plumber or you know, whatever it is. They already believe they know what that is, so the conversation doesn’t go much farther a lot of times.

I’ll give you an example of an architect, right? That’s what he used to say.

Andrew: Mm-hmm.

John: You used the answer you know, I’m an architect. Well, we interviewed the clients and after about the third . . . and then his clients were all commercial construction contractors. After about the third, one of them said this, we had to say, well tell me more about that. So, they said, yeah. They do good work. You know, they’ve got those letters by their name. We expected them to be able to design our buildings, but what we really love and you can almost feel them lean into the phone. What we really love is that they help us get paid faster.

Again, after I heard that about three times I had to dig into it. Well, it turns out this architect, their firm had three or four of their architects involved in city councils, on zoning boards, different things around the community and so they really understood the whole red tape game and how to get stuff through [inaudible 00:02:22]. So, consequently their plans got approved much quicker and because of that the contractor got to start to work earlier and got to get that first draft.

So that became their talking logo. Now when somebody said, what do you do for a living? Instead of saying I’m an architect you would say I help contractors get paid faster. Now, if you’re a contractor who has all the struggles and challenges of a normal contractor, are you going to at least say, tell me more about that?

Andrew: Right.

John: You know, as opposed to oh, you’re an architect. I got four of those. Get in line, right? So, it actually became a big part of their core message, but what it did is it captured the chief benefit of how they were different.

Andrew: So, here’s what I see, three parts to that. I help, contractors, get paid faster.

John: Yes.

Andrew: So, it’s I and then the verb of what I do. I show. I teach. I help.

John: Yes.

Andrew: Contractors is who you’re addressing. So, I help web designers. I help plumbers. I help, etc. That’s who you’re helping. Then the final part is, part three is, what you helped them achieve? What’s the problem frustration that your market has? So, I help web designers get paid faster. I help web developers get jobs that are meaningful. That’s the three parts. I didn’t make it up and I didn’t just break it down right now. I obviously read it in the book, but you also talk about it here on your site.

John: Yeah.

Andrew: What I can do is to make sure that people who like this or think that this is useful can see the breakdown of it. I’ll include this in the tool box section of our conversation so that they can come directly here and see how that happens.

John: Yeah, there’s actually a little form there that they can download, worksheet to help them through it. The one point that I want to make on that is you know, for a lot of people that benefit when they get the idea of the formula, but then they say I help small business owners with websites that actualize their core value and blah, blah, blah. It’s like . . .

Andrew: Yes.

John: . . . you basically told me your entire business. So, it’s got to be a real . . . here’s how you know you’ve really nailed it. The person on the receiving end says, really? Tell me more about that, right? I mean, they have to know more. Then you get to talk about your special process or your special experience you know, once you’ve kind of peaked their interest.

Andrew: Okay, not a full description, just a way of peeking people’s interest. Let’s go onto the next big idea. Well, we have so many here, but we’ll get to them all. Next one is to wake up the senses with an image that matches your message. You give an example in the book. This is [laughs] …

John: [laughs]

Andrew: … just an image that I saw online, and you know where I’m going with this, of a boss who wears Chuck Taylor shoes, the ones that I have up on the screen, to the office. His chocolate lab greets everyone who comes to the business, and this person and the people at his company would rather eat uncooked meat than throw recyclables in the landfill. That’s the way you described this person. It’s right down to his outfit and the dog that greets you where you get his message. What’s going on there? Help me understand that process.

John: I intentionally went maybe a little over the top with that description. Do you get a real sense of this business? You get a real sense of this person, what they care about, their vibe, their sense of style, you get a lot of that. If that business that I just described, their clients were corporate CEOs of fortune-500 companies that were looking for a special type of [??] consulting, that’s probably not the match, right?

But, if that business was a software company that designed software that educational institutions used, and again I’m just making up an example there, but the key to that was that if we have this core message, if we have this narrowly defined ideal customer, a lot of what goes into the image elements to the branding really is more effective if it matches.

Now, I’m hesitating because I’m not saying that if you like dogs and your clients don’t like dogs that you can’t have a dog in the office. But I do think that there are certain expectations with … all of those pieces go into what the perception of your brand is, and they should at least be thought out and be a true representation of what your business stands for.

Andrew: So the brand doesn’t end with the logo, it doesn’t end with the website, and it doesn’t end with the product. It extends even to the way you’re dressed, the way you function in the office. I have an example of this …

John: To a large degree, even the core values that are put into action. I used that example of recyclables, and obviously some people jump on the whole green thing because it’s the politically savvy thing to do, but that idea of believing in renewing the planet, that goes deeper than just having recycling bins. Many people are attracted, quite frankly, to businesses where they share their beliefs or they share why they do what they do. So, a good part of your brand as part of that can really be sharing what’s our higher purpose for this business.

Andrew: Where else? What’s our higher purpose is one. You also say on the phone, the way you greet people on the phone. I remember even as a kid calling up Tony Robbins’ phone number to buy a CD or to ask about a CD, and they put me on hold and it wasn’t music. It was Tony Robbins talking, self improvement. What else? Where else would we not …

John: [laughs] You can be a better person today.

Andrew: Right. Exactly. That’s his message, and it’s there on voice mail. What other aspects of our business would we forget to have our brand influence?

John: Well, here’s the over-arching global approach. Any way, shape, and form in which your business comes into contact with a customer or a prospect, you’re performing a marketing or branding function, right?

Andrew: OK.

John: So, that’s the over-arching thing where a lot of people, especially in this day and age when a lot of organizations have found that it’s easy to get virtual workers and to outsource things. Those folks are an arm and a branch of your organization. Are they representing your brand the way you want?

Finance. That’s another one of my favorite areas to pick on. How many companies have incredible branding, incredible marketing, everything is just laid out to a T that touches the customer. Then, they’ve got Olga back there in finance that’s pretty much ruining the whole deal with any interactions [laughs] that the customers have with that department. That’s how you have to look at it.

Andrew: My buddy Noah Kagan from AppSumo, when he sends money as refunds, or just sends money to compensate someone for helping out, it doesn’t come from his main email address or just some billing@whatever, it comes from yay@appsumo.com [laughs] or something. Right down to the email it’s a fun personality.

John: Absolutely. Absolutely.

Andrew: All right. Let’s go on to the next big idea here, and that is to create products and services for every stage of client development. You talk in the book about, and I’ll go again to the example. I always want to show the examples because I understand and I visualize better when there’s a concrete example there. Here’s the one. This is vision space and we can see that they have a white paper for perfect coaching, how companies are maximizing software delivery ROI through Justin Time Training, etc.

So, what are they doing here that we should be studying?

John: Well, there’s a concept. As we were talking about [inaudible 00:00:30], there’s revision of the book. I’ve added this concept that I call The Marketing Hour Glass.

Andrew: Mm-hmm.

John: It’s something that I’ve been working on for some time. It’s probably the thing I’m probably most proud of in terms of you know, original creation. So, the idea behind this is that there’s a logical path or journey that the ideal customer needs to go down. What typically happens is those customers that are referring business, they love you, they’re evangelists. They’ve probably whether it was intentional or not, walked down that path. So, the idea behind this is that obviously the first goal is to get them to know you, right?

The seven logical steps are know, like, trust, try, buy, repeat and refer. In a perfect world as somebody comes to know you whether it’s because they read an ad or they did a search and found your website or a friend referred them that you actually have your marketing set up not in the funnel fashion that’s really just aimed at trying to you know, squeeze a few of those people that come to know you through that small part of the funnel, but that you actually spend as much energy on getting them to like you and trust you and understand the value of your brain. Maybe even having a process where they can try what you do.

Obviously, once somebody comes to buy or decides to become a customer, what do you do to keep that experiences high? What’s the orientation process? What’s the new customer process? What’s the process after the sale for making sure that they got the result that they were after? What’s the process after the sale to sell them more stuff? What’s the process of the sale to actually turn them into a referral customer?

So the idea is that you think out each of these stages and that you intentionally create campaigns and products and processes and services that move people through those stages logically. Most people want to run an ad and you know, call us up and we’ll come out and sell you something. That’s actually how you know, the problem is at works sometimes, but that’s how you get that customer that’s not an ideal customer. The way you get more of those ideal customers is you actually teach them to be ideal through your process.

Andrew: Here’s the hour glass. I just found this online.

John: Yeah. That’s it. You [??].

Andrew: I understand the steps, but how is this different from a standard sales pipeline where you get someone to know you, like you, trust you, try what you’ve got, buy it, keep coming back and refer other people? Why the hour glass metaphor as opposed to a pipeline?

John: Well, the reason I use the hour glass, most people actually use a funnel.

Andrew: I know, right?

John: I mean, it’s probably the most common. The problem is it ends when somebody says, okay. Yeah, I’ll buy, right? I mean, that doesn’t mean that they don’t do other things in their company to keep them a customer. What I suggest is and the reason for the hour glass shape is that from that point they decide to become a customer and that you do things to make them a repeat customer and a referral customer, you focus on the customer experience.

Andrew: Mm-hmm.

John: The shape expanding back out really demonstrates the idea that a happy customer, a satisfied customer is actually your best lead generation source. That’s the idea behind this shape. Imagine if organizations spent as much time on even lead conversion, but certainly customer experience and referral generation as they did on trying to make the phone ring which is where everybody focuses their attention.

In fact, what I generally tell people to do to make this really effective is to flip it on its head. If you can and you’re really good at this Andrew, so if you could like turn that over for me it would help this presentation. Imagine if you said to yourself, okay we got this new product coming out.

Andrew: Mm-hmm.

John: We want to launch this thing, right? Everybody’s first feeling is, okay. You know, what’s the email copy? What are we going to do to get people interested? Imagine if you started with what do we want people thinking, doing and feeling 90 days after they buy this product from us?

Andrew: I see.

John: You know, 45 days after at the time they buy it. So, the idea is that if you worked backwards like that and you focused first on the customer experience [inaudible 00:05:50] referral generation, it would first off you would make a better product, but you would certainly create a better experience.

Andrew: I was also grabbing the link to the eBook that you wrote on this to make sure to include that in the tool box so the people could find that after the session.

John: Great.

Andrew: Whether it’s just so many different sites about this or so many different pages online referring to the marketing hour glass which I’m seeing on this computer right. I said, what’s the best one to link and I think I found a good one.

John: Yes.

Andrew: We’ll include the eBook. All right.

John: Great.

Andrew: Let’s go back to the big board here and now we’re talking about producing marketing content that educates. In your first book, you actually talked about a man called Victor Gonzalez, the logic of success. Actually, here it is. This is the guy. I didn’t see it in the second version, the most recent copy of the book. Do you remember him?

John: I do, but as you and I were talking offline some, the first version of the book was written in 2006. I’m [??] and I’m old. So, I don’t remember everything . . . [SP] . . .

Andrew: Two different things here at Mixergy to make sure that we got this right, Alex Champagne who read the copy of your book that he had for a long time which was the older version .

John: Yeah.

Andrew: I read the most recent one which I got on Kindle because now I prefer Kindle and so he pulled that. I couldn’t even find it in the book, but now I understand why. Well, I’ll quickly tell the story and people will see why it’s not included in the latest version of the book.

Basically he said, people aren’t coming to my website. I’m going to take the content that I think is best, most useful, most educational, put it on the CD-ROM, send it out to potential customers. He did that. Total cost, $3200 back in the CD-ROM days, but because of that he ended up getting 15 customers at an average of $2500 plus travel per engagement. So, 15 customers at an average of $2500 just because he decided to take his educational material and send it directly to users.

So, the format doesn’t work. The main idea still does of educating. Talk about that if you good.

John: Yeah. I do remember it now especially when you reminded me of it. He was a pioneer of sorts, right?

Andrew: Mm-hmm.

John: We are all now. You know, content marketing you can’t get through about eight blog posts than you are assess reader now without somebody writing about content marketing. I mean, everybody’s really accepted this idea that we have to be producing content. It’s not just because you know, we have great things or that we’re all great writers, it’s just that the market now expects to be able to find anything about any problem or solution.

That eBook that you mentioned you know, that’s the CD-ROM now.

Andrew: Mm-hmm.

John: Right? So, you know, we have to be [inaudible 00:02:44], we have to be producing high quality educational content that answers you know, that doesn’t just sell or promote, but answers those burning questions that are prospects that customers have or that teaches them actually how to do what they want to do so that they realize we know what we’re talking about.

Andrew: Do you think that it’s enough to just have a blog where you teach or do we need to go beyond a blog and do what you did which is create eBooks?

John: Well, I think you need and again this can get almost silly, but I mean I think you need a blog. I think you need to be producing videos. I think you need to be on YouTube. I think you need to be creating eBooks. I think you need to be on Facebook promoting all of those things. I mean, it really has gotten to the point where once you have this marketing strategy you know, then you need to figure out where are all the [??] that we can create exposure and drive people back.

Still today you know, we’re in many cases trying to drive them back to our home website to capture an email address in many cases so that we can continue that journey you know, through the outer bus.

Andrew: Now, here’s an interesting thing that I saw about you in preparing for this interview. One of the most interesting concepts for me is tactics. In your book was have a testimonial party.

John: Right.

Andrew: I’ve seen actually restaurants. There was this authentic New York pizza in Washington, D.C. where the founder said, when I open I’m going to throw a testimonial party essentially for people who are big on Yelp and have them come out, enjoy the pizza and hopefully they’ll give testimonials. I’ve seen restaurants do it.

You say any business can do it. Hold the party, hire a professional videographer and have the videographer record professional looking testimonials from all of your guests who are willing to participate. Even kick in a benefit for them you say. I love this tactic. That’s why I’m repeating it with such enthusiasm. Even you can say, offer to have the professional videographer record video for their own businesses and their own websites as long as they’re helping you, you should help them too.

I said this is a great idea. Let me go to John’s website and see what I can learn about this, so I can really be prepared in case we talk about it. What I found was the section of the book where you talk about that tactic along with others that are similar on your website.

Then I said, I see John’s process in action. He says, take the content that you put in one medium, put it in whatever mediums make sense,” and you did. You had it almost, maybe even exactly, word for word like it was in the book on your website, and I think in one other blog it was somewhere else. That’s the message that you’re leaving us with. Educate, and forget about one single medium. Put it out there.

John: Yeah. You know, the example I use all the time, and it always boggles me, but I have a podcast that I have had for years. You can go to my site, you can put on the podcast link, and listen to them for free all day long. An organization approached me and said, “Hey, we want to create a podcast app for you.” I was like, OK. Fine. No cost to you. We’ll sell it on iTunes, and it’s $2.99. Thousands of people buy that app and listen to my podcast. It’s the same feed that goes into that.

Andrew: Wow.

John: The message there is, they are getting the content the way they want to get it, and the way they want to control it and have access to it. That, I think, is the important thing. It’s like in the days gone by when people said, do we need to take checks and credit cards? Within reason, you’ve got to be catering to the way people want to get information.

In my business, I have people that buy from me that are 25, and I have people that buy from me that are 65. I guarantee you that they are, in most cases, consuming content and finding me in much different fashions. So, if I want to be able to be available to that slice of the market that fits my ideal prospect, then I’d better make myself available in the ways that they want to consume content.

Andrew: All right. Produce marketing content that educates. There’s a big idea, there. We’re going to go on to the next one, which is to get your entire team involved. Again, I’m going to pull out an example. This example maybe was 20 words in your book, and I still decided I was going to bring this one up. So, no surprise, I will just tell you what it is and tell the audience. This is Conference Calls, Unlimited, a telecommunications firm in Fairfield, Ohio.

John: Actually, Iowa. But yeah.

Andrew: Oh, where is it?

John: In Iowa. Yeah. Fairfield, Iowa.

Andrew: Right. I said Ohio, even though it clearly says “Iowa” in my notes here.

John: [laughter]

Andrew: What they did was they wanted their whole team, contractors and employees, that’s where their focus was, and they wanted them to focus on making customers happy, prospects happy, and making each other happy. Very [??] right?

John: Yeah, right.

Andrew: Do you want to take it from there, or should I continue to read?

John: No, go for it.

Andrew: All right. The goal of each employee when answering the phone was to give callers more than they asked for and play nice with each other. Everyone focused on that goal. They found that employee-based focus worked wonders for the customers, their calls for … boy, I should not be reading this out loud.

John: [laughter]

Andrew: Basically, everyone had more fun, was more productive, had a better experience, and their customers were happy. But, what we’re trying to say here is it’s not just the boss who did this and said, “This is the way I’m running it.” He got everyone involved in the process. You can go to their website and see the phone numbers up there, the focus is on this, and you say that’s what we should be doing. Even if we have one extra person we need to recruit them for our mission.

John: Yeah, and what’s interesting about this particular organization is that not everybody answered the phone. That was not their job, right? But everybody, including the CEO at the time, would rotate through and make sure that they were actually talking to customers, and that they actually had some metrics of how many high-fives they got was kind of in their language.

They actually gave all of their people leeway to, if they had a customer that maybe had a particularly tough challenge, or had something going on that didn’t quite work that they helped them through, they would send them flowers and stuff. Everybody had license to do that.

But where that really starts, quite frankly, is having this marketing strategy and making sure that everyone understands it. I can’t tell you how many organizations I’ve worked with over the years that you walk outside of the marketing department or the board room where the executive team meets, and ask them who an ideal customer is for this company, and they couldn’t tell you. Even if they’re a sales person. Ideal customer? Well, I don’t know.

I just go out there and get new business, right? It’s amazing how engaged people will become if you include them in here’s what we stand for, here’s how to talk about our business, here’s our talking logo. I’ve had some organizations where we did this talking logo as a group, and it was actually the first time they all wanted to hug each other instead of kill each other.

Andrew: [laughter] Do I have your permission to link to the page in the book where you talk about it? Because I think I didn’t read it as clearly as I should, but if people want to read it more clearly they should have a way to do that, are we good with that?

John: You bet, you bet.

Andrew: All right. It’s directly to your book, from Google book search, thank God for Google, for situations like this they are priceless. All right, back to the big board, and the next big idea we’ll talk about is, use direct mail, you call it an ideal target medium, why direct mail?

John: Well Sarce(SP), I get a little heat for this because I’m still the promoter of this, frankly. When you think about your own, again, this is going to go with some assumptions that we’re doing it effectively, but think about first off, in your own world, we don’t get a lot of mail that we want to open anymore. First off, we don’t get very much period. People don’t send catalogues and things, or what we used to call junk mail so much.

And so, particularly if you are highly targeted, you know who your ideal customer is, and you are going after the small slice of that possible, and you are sending something that is highly personal, that is valuable, that is leading them to, say, educational content. So an example might be, that you would send to a highly targeted list, you have a new eBook that tells them how to do something.

You send a direct mail piece, maybe 500 pieces, to people to actually offer them this free eBook, which is then going to be followed up by a webinar, or in person seminar that you’re going to do. It does have a hard cost, but what I love about it is you can really stand out doing it effectively, particularly when you combine it with some online tools. You’re driving people online, even if you’re then trying to drive them back off line, into a seminar or workshop.

Andrew: We’re not talking necessarily about buying a list of names, I think you gave an example of one person in your book here, this is Donald Levin, Levin Public Relations, in New York. What he does is, he uses something that he calls the Levin 10 letters a week method, I like that he named it after himself. First he researches 10 companies, for who he thinks he can provide profitable service, profitable to the company, and profitable to his own business. He studies their websites, calls them to confirm the single best person to write, then he starts writing to them.

Then he gets the follow up with them. But what he’s doing here that stood out for me was, he’s manually looking for these people, he’s manually making sure it’s the right person, he’s not sending out thousands of letters to a list that he bought, he’s just doing it one at a time. To me that feels more connected to the work that we do, easier to do, more manageable.

John: Well, it’s far more effective, I think a lot of people want the push button method, send out 10,000 letters and make the phone ring. What he’s doing is, he understands who’s an ideal client, and he is personalizing the experience in very, very small batches. The other thing I love about it too is, he probably spends a couple hours a week doing it, and it all comes down to the type of business, what business you need, or how many leads you need.

But that type of prospecting, personalized prospecting can be done by an individual sales person, and greatly increase their chances of getting in front of the right person, with the right need, and having that person really being receptive to actually now talking to you about their issues and challenges. Now I believe that you also have to have that in this day and age, you have to have that.

Here are some resources, you know, here’s an online video you can watch, because we have to build that trust, we have to establish that trust. You can do it with that letter, but then you have to back it up with some things that allow people to experience your brand, before they ever invite you into their world.

Andrew: Here’s the final point that we pulled out of the book. Ramp up your referral machine. How do we do that?

John: Well, you know this is a great segue, I’ve written another book since Duct Tape Marketing, called The Referral Engine, so you just go buy that book. Actually, this is one of my favorite subjects, because so many businesses I work with will tell you that a significant amount of their business comes by way of referral. But it’s what I call, the accidental referral, you know, they do good work, somebody else needs what they do.

And so they tell a friend, and next thing you know they’ve got a referral, right? So, what I’m suggesting, and really that entire book was about, that you have to have a very systematic approach to that. It’s part of the hourglass, that I talked about, so you’re going with every customer with a referral in mind even if that’s you know, I give one really tactical thing that has worked for thousands and thousands of people that I’ve worked with during the sales process as you’re actually agreeing to here’s what we’re going to do for you today customer that you actually would say.

We know you’re going to be so thrilled with the result that we’ll promise today that in 90 days I’m going to come back, we’re going to make sure you’re thrilled and we’re going to ask you to tell us about five more people that you think need this result as well.

Just even a simple thing like that of putting referrals in the lead conversion of the sales process is one really simple way to make a focus on referrals. It’s amazing how many companies I’ve talked to that they get a significant amount of their business by way of referrals and yet they do nothing to actually amplify their refer ability.

Andrew: You know, I did an interview with a top salesman at this company. There it is, Cutco Knives. I said, how did you become a top salesman? He said, you know, one of the first things I did was I didn’t call on customers and said I want to sell you. I said, I’m here not to sell you. I’m here to get a referral from you and so I’ll show you my knives and teach them and show you why they’re so important, but my hope is at the end of this if you know someone who could use it then you’ll refer me.

Obviously, often people buy from him, but he asked for the referral upfront that way. Here’s the other thing that he did. He said most people would just ask for referrals. What he would do was, he would put a list numbered 1 to 20, I think and he said, who do you know who would benefit from this? The implication was if there’s 1 to 20 that you and I are going to fill out 20 names.

John: Yeah.

Andrew: That’s one of the reasons why he did so well asking for referrals that way right up front like you’re suggesting.

John: Well, I worked with a financial planner years ago and his referral system was he would have a client, he knew maybe what country club they belonged to, what church they went to, what school maybe their kids went to. So, he would actually prepare a list of 20 names and he would say, hey. You know, here’s some people I think I’d love to meet. Do you know any of these people? Well, nine times out of ten if he did his list right they knew half of them.

A lot of times what the mistake people make is they say, hey. If you know anybody who needs what we do, you know, send them our way, right? You know, we can’t. Our brain can’t process that. If you say, do you know any of these ten names on this list, all of a sudden it’s like, oh yeah. I just played golf with him yesterday, you know? I’ll introduce you. So, you make the job really easy for them. That’s a little . . . you know, we could go on. We could do an entire show about this.

Andrew: Just on referrals.

John: Yeah.

Andrew: And I hope we’ll . . . [SP] . . . to do it. This was really helpful. The big ideas were right there. If you want to follow up, my suggestion of course and you guys know where I’m going with this is to check out ducttapemarketing.com. Not duck, no quack quack. I’m so proud. I’m very carefully articulated. Duct Tape Marketing just to make sure I don’t make that quack quack mistake.

John: Well, I do own the URL though for that.

Andrew: Oh, is that right?

John: Just in case people do.

Andrew: Let’s see. If I go to D, U with a K.

John: Yeah.

Andrew: Oh, there we go. That’s a smart move. Thank you so much for doing this. Thank you all for being a part of it.

DOWNLOAD TRANSCRIPT

Master Class:
How to design user interface
(Even if you’re not a designer)
Taught by Firat Parlak of Awesome

Master Class: User Interface Design


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Transcript

Andrew: This session is about how non-designers can design user interface. The session will be led by Firat Parlak. He is the – there he is. He is the founder of this website, Awesome, which specializes in crafting beautiful and engaging UI and UX designs for text startups. Their website is awesomenyc.com. I’m going to help facilitate.My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy, where proven founders like Firat teach. And Firat, you’re about to show us a whole lot. These are all the things that we’re going to be talking about today.Before we get into that, there’s someone whose name you’re not going to mention here because of what happened to them, who didn’t go through this process. What did they do wrong, this company?Firat: Yeah, we had a potential client who didn’t want to follow our process, which we strictly advised to entrepreneurs. One of the reasons we believe nine out of ten startups fail because the way they approach the execution, especially the digital process of designing their products in terms of UI/UX.

Long story short, he ended up failing, and last time I should run into him, he was sleeping on his friend’s couch. He was living the startup life [??] but I thought, you know, he’d been through the right process, not enough spending a lot of money in the wrong direction, then he wouldn’t be bankrupt and wouldn’t be probably sleeping on the couch. But, you know, that’s when –

Andrew: What do you mean? What did he do wrong about his user interface process? The process of creating his user interface.

Firat: Nothing in terms of that, but the way he approached the process and how he used his resources, how he spent the capital he had in [??] led him towards that. That was the problem, I think. I mean, if you follow the process, you can lower your cost of designing a product.

Andrew: Okay.

Firat: And not just with [??] because if you have everything laid out professionally, you can talk to a developer and you can negotiate the price as well. If you don’t follow the UI/UX [??] process, you’re most likely going to spend twice the money that you would originally do.

And if this is all the money you have, that you put in for your product, you might end up sleeping on your friend’s couch.

Andrew: It happens. It happens. There is one company though that did it right, that followed this process that you’re about to walk us through. And I think this should be their website right here. What’s Date My School?

Firat: Date My School is a website for educated people and educated dates. You can sign up as an alumni or as students using your college e-mail. And you can search people through their majors. You know, let’s say you want to date someone in Harvard studying finance. Or you want to meet someone [??] college studying marketing. And because you had the same interest if you’re studying the same major, there’s a conversation opener, therefore it leads to a better connecting.

Andrew: I see. So it’s a dating website for people who care about the school that – not just the looks, but the school of their particular dates? Is that right?

Firat: Exactly, exactly. Best thing about this product, it’s you’re not embedded in the search results. Nobody can see you. That’s their approach and I think it’s a great, smart approach.

Andrew: Okay, and so I’m looking at their website right now, the screen shot that I took of it, and they have 336,000 users.

Firat: Right.

Andrew: And that’s because they followed this process that you’re about to show us, everything including the hand-drawn sketches that you’re going to tell us to do, the mock-ups, et cetera. The mock-ups that actually work, the user testing.

Firat: Absolutely, absolutely.

Andrew: Okay, alright, let’s see how we do it.

Firat: [??] processes.

Andrew: Alright, I’m glad that Date My School did well, because it adds a lot of credibility to this conversation. But I know the person listening to us goes, “Great for them. What about me?” Alright, person listening, we’re going to get to you, and the first thing is you’re going to say, “Talk to your customer, but don’t go overboard in talking to your customer.”

Before we understand what you mean by how to do it right, tell me about this last part, where you say, “Don’t go overboard.” Who went overboard?

Firat: I mean, sometimes you can spend so much time on market research and talking to your customers, market changes. Let’s say you’re in the market for fashion. You designed an iPhone app to solve a problem that you realized.

But if you spend six months, maybe less that even – three months, but the market changes. You depend on your information that you collected six months ago and apply that to user interface design, because the consumer needs a change since six months ago. So, keep it short. Keep it effective. Don’t spend a lot of time because it just…

Andrew: You worked with someone who took six months? This is not an exaggeration, of customer research and talking to them?

Firat: Yes.

Andrew: I see.

Firat: They came back to us and the first question we ask our clients is how long have you been working on this project? If they say that I’ve been working on it for a year and a half or six months, you know, I will go like you shouldn’t be spending that much time because whatever you’ve collected is not going to be valuable maybe next month or next year.

And it’s going to take you maybe three or four months to develop this app, to build this app and you’re going to ship this based on what the metrics were a year ago or six months ago. So, it’s not valuable. Whatever you put together is not going to be as valuable.

Andrew: Alright, I’m looking at the big board here and in a moment you’re going to talk to us about how you do user testing in person. I don’t want to get to that yet, but talk to me about when you say I need to talk to customers, what are telling me that’s different? Everyone says talk to customers. Give me a little more direction. Give me a little bit more of the awesome process. How do you want me to do it?

Firat: Sure. So, talking to your customers is literally asking them to set up a meeting with them. You know, show them that you are really interested in their ideas and value their opinion and show them some ideas, sketches. Ask them some questions. Again, this is not intensive market research, but understand what the needs are as a consumer that you are talking to. If they are talking about I need a solution for finding a babysitter, ask them how would you approach this?

Would you care if it’s really important to have a platform where it’s invitation only or is it more open to everybody because as a parent, if you are looking for a babysitter maybe you want to sign up to a website where you know the babysitters are handpicked. So, ask them questions like that. Do you think will be something that you would use? Do you think this is a product that you are going to use as an ongoing process?

Andrew: Let’s be a little more specific and then, I want to see more of the… We’ve got some really good visuals here. Let’s talk about this site right here. This is Dog Amigo, you guys are done building this or done designing this. It’s not yet launched, but this is what the site will look like. How did they do it?

Firat: So the client went to dog parks. There are eight dog parks in New York City. They went to all of them and they researched. They asked questions to the people that were walking their dogs in these dog parks. They had a survey of fifteen questions on a piece of paper.

They went up to dog owners and asked, “Can you fill out this survey?” Because they didn’t want to this discussion-based, they had a paper which was just checks. It was just quick because these people don’t have time. They are walking their dog.

Andrew: So these people walked into a dog park and said, “Will you fill out my survey? It’s only check marks. All you have to do is check off what you think.” That’s the kind of customer research that you are suggesting we do?

Firat: Exactly. It’s effective because you know that they own a dog. You can’t just stop people on the street and ask them, “Hey, do you own a dog or do you own a cat, or whatever?” It’s difficult to find that.

Andrew: What was on the survey that was checklist only? Do you remember one of the questions?

Firat: Does your dog have a Facebook profile?

Andrew: Really?

Firat: Yes.

Andrew: And they were hoping that people had Facebook profiles for their dogs?

Firat: Yeah, actually, seventy percent of the results that came in said yes and the reason Dog Amigo was created because Facebook used to delete dog profile pictures, non-human profiles. So, these people were homeless, they were looking for a place where they felt more comfortable. So, they were targeting these people. They wanted to understand dog owners. Have a Facebook for them.

Andrew: Alright. My dog does not have a Facebook profile page. I understand that some people would want that. Alright, so this is what you are talking about. Keep it simple. Do it quickly. Move on to the next step and the next step, if I look up on the big board, is draw every single screen on a piece of paper. I actually have here, let me go over to my second monitor here. A lot of buttons I press during these sessions. It’s lot of work. It keeps me busy, but I like it.

So, here is the way that you did it. Sketching on a piece of paper. Alright, here’s the thing that I would notice if I were watching in the audience. This looks like it’s some kind of special piece of paper. Where do you get this paper that has the browser on it, a place for notes.

Firat: Actually, what you are looking at is the digital version of what it would look like. It’s not that it shows drawings; we had to put this in our website to showcase how the process was.

Andrew: I see.

Firat: I didn’t want to show some napkin drawings and so on. So, to answer your question, it will be just a basic piece of paper and a pen.

Andrew: Just like the listing that I got from the drug store.

Firat: Exactly…

Andrew: Without lines on it.

Firat: Yeah without the lines on it would be ideal.

Andrew: So when I draw the screens and I say, here’s how it works, do you like it? Or what’s the question that I would use?

Firat: Well this is actually for you to see how many screens are out there, so therefore you can relax, because sometimes you think about, you know, your product is about 10 or 15 pages, but it could end up being 40 or 60. If you draw every screen, including [??] from the loading process, to you know, the dashboard and everything else, you can get to see what’s missing.

It’s just like writing a business [??]. If you’re writing a business [??], [??] spot analysis, you get to see your weaknesses, right? Same thing. If you write something, if you draw something, you’re going to see what’s missing, so you can fill in the blanks and make sure that you’re prepared for the rest of the process.

Andrew: Okay. So every single thing, on a piece of paper, so I know what all the screens will look like, and then…you sent this to me in Dropbox, no one’s going to be able to see all the details. It is ok that they can’t see it. What we’re looking at here is, well, you describe, what is this?

Firat: So this is one of our recent projects, we finished a couple of months ago, it’s a project management iPhone application too. Let me start the project we usually put together for our clients. Obviously we do all the customer research, market research, we draw our ideas onto paper for every screen. And then here’s the step where we turn our user [??] into digital format, and that’s what you’re looking at right now.

An entire blueprint of the iPhone application that needs to be designed. The next stage of this is the [??] design; but right before that, we’ll put together an entire user experience. [??]. So what you’re looking at right now, is a very detailed user experience documentation, showcasing the entire user phone. So what happens is when you tap here, one screen opens up and another one opens after that, and so on. It’s very detailed.

Andrew: Okay. What software do you use to build this?

Firat: Well we use, actually, Illustrator. Everything’s handcrafted. But for [??], I would recommend them using Balsamiq, it’s a very popular user [??] tool. This is [??] our design agency, so we don’t use template markup or user forms, but we put together our own. However, if you know basic Photoshop and Illustrator, you can put this together as well. There are templates that you can download…

Andrew: Balsamiq, it’s mock-up software, this is what you’re saying, but basically what you want us to do is…

Firat: …It’s the same thing. Ours is pretty, because we’re designers. [??], and so it’s a part-time job to make [??] next. But you can achieve that same thing using Balsamiq, without going to a design agency like us. And…

Andrew: …I know. Sketch it out with a piece of paper so you know every screen that needs to be built, and then lay out the flow of what happens when people do this, what happens when people do that, what do they see, etc. OK.

Firat: Exactly.

Andrew: Alright. Next is: Turn your designs into an interactive version. Do you guys do this for people, by the way, or…you do this for your clients, you’re saying if we’re doing this ourselves you want us to do it ourselves.

Firat: Exactly. We do it for our clients, but you can also do it, because there are tools out there. You can sign up too, and usually they are free to a basic level, but if you really want to do something advanced, obviously you have to pay. However, if you’re designing your own product on your own, this is a great way to make it interactive, so you can get to see your ideas actually in a user experience perspective. You can really click on your designs now. So it’s…

Andrew: Let’s look at how this works. This is the site that you sent me before we started. I’m going to click on the latest example right here. There it is. Proto.io [SP] is the tool. And what it does, is it turns screenshots into experiences, actually like a chef on TV. I clicked ahead…no this isn’t going to work…no, OK. Continue. There it is. Alright.

It turns screenshots into interactive experiences that look like the finished product, that act like the finished product, even though there’s no intelligence behind them, beyond clicking from page to page. Is that right?

Firat: Yes, that’s correct. You can interact in the line of [??]. You can input your designs here, link them here, and you can get to see how it will look like. How it’s actually built.

Andrew: I see.

Firat: Obviously this is not dynamic. You can import some dynamic data, but it is limited. However, it will give you an idea of what app is going to apply, I think, or is going to look like. So you can make adjustments and changes, and understand the entire approach that you’re having, if it’s right or not. You can go back to the drawing board. In fact, actually launching it and coming back and changing things is a lot harder, and it will cost you more.

Andrew: So this is the tool, Proto.io?

Firat: It’s very important to test it out as much as possible before you launch.

Andrew: Yeah. Okay.

Firat: For the product.

Andrew: So we lay this out. It’s done. Is the idea to let real users interact with this Proto.io design that we’ve created to see what they think of it?

Firat: Absolutely. That would be a great feedback for you. So you can come back and make changes, update your designs, and maybe even your user experience. They may not know what to tap or click. Maybe mainly focusing on right now on iPhone app, but it could be a website as well. You can use this tool, same thing. It’s good to see what they think about the products, and coming back to the drawing board, and then the designing of changing, making updates accordingly.

Andrew: Right. Do you have an example of someone who saw a document that looked like this one, or who showed it to their users and, based on user feedback, adjusted it?

Firat: Absolutely. Yes. We have clients coming to us actually having prototypes like this, and saying, “Here is what we put together so far, and here is the feedback we have received. Can you design it?” So we take these into consideration and design our UI/UX [??].

Andrew: What’s the most surprising thing that you learned, having gone through this process?

Firat: Whatever we think, it’s not always right, so you’ve got to ask your consumers. It’s surprising to know that, what you put together sometimes is not what they’re looking for. They’re like, “I don’t understand this, what it does.” So that’s a red flag.

Andrew: “I don’t know what it does,” is a big one. Do you think it’s going to make sense?

Firat: “I don’t know what it does,” or, you know, learning about the user experience mainly. The focus here is to understand, actually, how your user’s engaging with your products. Were they able to figure out that icon? Were they able to figure out that Home button that you put in there.

You thought it was so obvious, but when you give it to somebody else, they can’t find it as quickly as you did. So you go back to the drawing board and make that better. So that’s what we’ve learned by doing this strategy. You know, making it attractive and giving it to people hands-on and then we can collect that feedback, and come back and make the changes accordingly.

Andrew: All right. The next big idea is to let your competitors do the research for you.

Firat: Yes.

Andrew: And for that, you’re saying that we should use this site, Dribbble. Dribble with three Bs. And I always thought of Dribbble, by the way, as a site to go to just to see designers showing off with beautiful designs. And you’re saying that it’s a place to see what my competitors are doing?

Firat: Right. Dribbble is actually not only a platform to showcase your designs but also designer process and progress. So you can see what your competitors are doing by searching similar ideas, similar products, and see how they’re approaching their user experience.

Andrew: And they’re showing what they do online, and saying, “Hey, what do you think of this?” Here’s a guy you sent me. What’s he doing right here?

Firat: So this is an iPhone application, and there are some comments. Specifically, you need to read those and understand the feedback from other people, if this is something that you are doing similar to. We can get to learn from this feedback from online. We don’t have to do the research on your own. You should, but we can also gain more metrics and information from looking at your competitors and what they’re doing.

Andrew: You had someone who tried to bring an outside idea and copy that, and bring that into their space. What’s wrong with that? Why are we looking specifically at our competitors and what they’re doing, and not being broader in what we’re trying to copy?

Firat: Because they already did their homework. They already amassed their resources, and it’s important to look and understand that, that doing it from scratch. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel and do the entire process, but looking at what they’re doing and do something better, is the approach you should have.

Andrew: Do you have an example of something that you were able to see your competitors do or one of your client’s competitors do, and then brought that back in, and basically let your competitors do the research.

Firat: Yeah, you can. If you’re designing an iPhone application for finding a babysitter, for example, you can look on Dribbble and similar ideas and see what they follow and what their feedback is from the hits and get the,,,

Andrew: And you did that?

Firat: Right.

Andrew: Did you guys do that at the babysitter site that you worked on?

Firat: Well, I use an iPhone application in this. It’s a citified project, a project called Citified.com website, but you can do the same approach by looking at other competitor babysitting directory websites and see what they are up to and gain from their research [??].

Andrew: Okay. Let’s go on to the next big idea. This is to have a clear direction. Who doesn’t have a clear direction? That seems almost too simple for us to keep on the board, but it was important. Why is it important?

Firat: It’s very, very important to have a clear direction of your products’ features and all the details of what you want to incorporate for your initial launch. A lot of entrepreneurs [??] design are fortunate in incorporating a lot of features like [??]. I want to have this. I want to have that.

But then they spend a lot of time doing it, and it’s important to have a clear vision and plan what you want to do, what you want to incorporate of the features at first launch. It’s very important so you don’t actually fail. This is part of the process. Our approach in this process is not having our designer audience not fail by not doing their part of the process. So having a clear vision is a very important part of this process so you know exactly what you want to design.

Andrew: Here is one of your clients who did that. This is WonderFly [??]. This is the work that you did for them. You said to me before that these guys came to you with a clear direction. What was the clear direction that they came to you with?

Firat: So they knew actually the features of the app they wanted us to design for them. They had exactly the wire frames. They had user [??]. It’s great to have that kind of vision. It makes the designer’s job easy and if you’re the designer and also the product person you must have a clear vision, know exactly what you want to do and make clear decisions. [??]

Andrew: This is what you want us to do. You mean, be clear in the direction we give you by giving you, the designer, specific wire frames, specific guidance. Most people don’t do that. They say, “I have this vague idea. I need you to help me clear it up. I need you. Help me figure it out.” That’s what you’re saying?

Firat: Exactly. They think it’s ten pages. They think it’s very simple. It can be done in one month. Have a clear vision. Do your research. Do your homework. This is all part of it obviously. Having a clear vision is part of it, even going through this process. User [??] that it will shape you, your direction, and have you on a [??].

Andrew: Okay. Onto the big board again and the next idea is do user testing to get feedback. Again, before I started, I said to you, “Everyone does user testing, no?” What can we leave people with that’s different, that opens them up to a different way of doing user testing. And you sent me… I’m going over to my second monitor to show you. You sent me this. What is this?

Firat: So this is an event that’s held at Beaver Flats [sp]. Beaver Flats is a [??] space. A lot of other startups are working in a [??]. It’s a great environment and one of the members put together a great musical to test events, and they do this frequently where other people can come in and bring their products and get real accurate feedback from other people.

It’s like speed dating. You sit in the front of a computer and you record it. Your screen is recorded. Your video is recorded and you can have ten, 15 people testing the product every four days on screens. And then you can go back to get these and then understand what you did right, and what you did wrong. And, therefore, you can go back and update your designs and user experience.

Andrew: If we copy this can we just have, do you think, entrepreneurs in a room, so maybe ten entrepreneurs get together, they each check out each other’s software and give each other feedback? That’s the goal.

Firat: Mm-hmm.

Andrew: That’s the way you guys did it. They were all entrepreneurs.

Firat: Right. They were entrepreneurs or founders, the majority of the people going to do the feedback. However, you can set this up on your own as well. You can create a meetup.com [??] or ask your friends and family. It’s not ideally like that because your friends tend to give you good feedback regardless. They’re not going to tell you the real feedback, but…

Andrew: My friends better say everything I do is great.

Firat: [laughs] Exactly. So it’s important to actually go up to the people that you don’t know and they don’t know you so they can be objective because that’s going to be, the feedback you’re going to get is so valuable that it can change your entire success.

Andrew: And so I would just bring ten people into an event to gather, have each of the ten people check out my site or my app, watch them as they use it, and you also said earlier record them. What did you guys use to record?

Firat: There are a few apps out there you can use. However, you can record it basically with any recording. But mainly I would highly suggest screen recording, than video recording.

Andrew: So you can watch where their mouses go and what they’re clicking on.

Firat: That’s the point. Because you don’t want to sit next to them. That’s another thing. You don’t want to pressure them. You want to give them the directed prototype and say, I’m not going to tell you anything about this product. Here it is. Just tell me at the end what you thought about it. You’re going to leave them alone for 5,10 minutes. Not a lot. Don’t give them 10, 15 minutes.

Maybe at a maximum ten minutes. And then watch their recordings afterwards. See how they were interacting with your product, with your initial design tool. Because you put together some process, thought process, of user experience and see actually if it was easy to use [??] or not.

Andrew: Okay. Alright. So don’t even have them look at it. I’m thinking, all right, so you could do a party over at your place and have people over, not friends and family but potential users, say the computer’s over in the corner, at some point tonight everybody go over and try this out and let’s talk after you try it out but I’m going to hover.

I’m not going to tell you what to do, I’m just going to let you experience the site and know that whatever you do is being recorded so don’t do anything embarrassing.

Firat: Exactly. And you don’t have to do this maybe 10 people at a time. You can do 1 person at a time at different times as well. It doesn’t have to be a big event. You know, you can find someone, schedule a meeting, you know, meet them at a coffee shop, anywhere, your office, and then the computer, and then, you know, get feedback from that. And then do this repeatedly until you’re satisfied.

Andrew: Okay. Get all these nice designs that we talked about. They’re all set up. And then you tell us we need to have the design sliced. What does it mean to slice them and who does it?

Firat: So once the design process is finished, the next thing on the assembly line is the product developer who is going take your source files and slice them. And it’s important for our audience to understand that. After the design stage is finished, finalized, before that there’s one more step. What a lot of people doesn’t understand is that we have to slice every individual elements of your design including icons, buttons, fonts, everything.

They have to be sliced up and handed to the walker. This is actually the walker’s job, responsibility. I advise, as a designer, or as a venture set- up [??] to have your walker do it versus the designer doing it because it’s important for the walker to understand every component of the website.

Once they do the slicing, they will go over the entire process and understand your design image, your user experience versus handing them the sliced file and asking them to do it. So it’s important for the walker to do it. But it’s mostly important for our audience to know that there is something in between, not just design at the moment but there has to be process for slicing.

Andrew: On your website you say, we’re no IKEA.

Firat: Yes.

Andrew: Right next to this. What does it mean that you’re no IKEA? And then I want to understand this left object here.

Firat: So not every designer group is very organized. So we work pretty loose and name every folder, every layer nicely. And readability is really important so when you go into production, it’s important when you’re slicing these units you understand where each layer was.

Andrew: So you’re saying that IKEA makes it so tough, that you’re stuck there trying to figure out sometimes where a piece goes because they use no words on their, on their guides, on their how-to-do-it.

Firat: They don’t label them properly. They don’t tag them properly. So we’re no IKEA. It’s like you bring an IKEA furniture, it could take up to a couple days, depending on what you put together.

[both laugh]

Andrew: I call a company called Exec to come and do it. There’s a company called Exec here in San Francisco. I call them and let them do it. I hate doing that. But I see what you’re saying. Side bar, all properly labeled. Player, properly labeled. You’re saying cut it up, label it properly, make sense for the next, for the developer to understand what it is.

Firat: Exactly.

Andrew: Just like you, as a designer, wanted a process that makes sense for you with all the screen shots, you want the same thing to go to the developer. I say, thumbs up.

Firat: Yes. It will save you time and money.

Andrew: All right. I like saving time and money.

Firat: Um-hmm.

Andrew: On to the big board, again. Final point is, have a separate person on the back end development.

Firat: Yes.

Andrew: What’s back end versus front end development? Let’s start with the basics.

Firat: Sure. So they’re two different areas, therefore two different professions. It’s like being a doctor. You can be a doctor but you specialize in certain body parts. So same in the developers. That’s why I give that example. It’s very basic to understand. Not every developer can do everything, the entirely. Not everybody offers the front end. Not everybody offers the back end.

They’re two different animals, therefore you have to look at them separately. You have to approach them separately. So you shouldn’t be hiring one individual who says I can do front end and back end for you because it’s almost impossible to have both talents. Or you can, but you won’t have enough experience or approaches as, you know, being specialized in front end or back end.

So it’s important to separate these two when you’re hiring the person who’s going to implement your designs so they can be really good at what they’re doing.

Andrew: Okay. Alright. There it is. I know that people are going to come to your website after we’re done. I know that some of them are going to be a good fit for you to work with and some aren’t. Who is a good fit? By the way, did you notice I just fidget, I just double click, triple click.

It’s so weird that if you watch people use a website, they just click around. And I just notice now with the camera on my browsing habits that sometimes I’ll just do funky habits like this, or maybe I just move this around. I can’t do it for you.

Firat: That’s cool.

Andrew: Okay. So what size clients do you guys take on?

Firat: [??] approach is to help start-ups and entrepreneurs.

Andrew: But the corporate clients have the big money?

Firat: Yes, that’s it. That’s exactly why we don’t want to represent them. It’s not about the money. It’s about passion and people. People that are smarts, and want to actually do something in the industry. They’re very innovative. We love their ideas. And as a designer, you want to see your designs actually implemented. Working with big corporations, they hire five or six agencies at the same time and your designs will be picked partially.

And they’re going to take your designs and adapt with the other designers’ work and so on. So you never get to see your actual work being implemented. As a designer, your motivation is to see the feedback. That’s your real [??] So working with start-ups is really actually great because they execute and because of that, we prefer working with start-ups.

Andrew: Right. If I came to you with an iPhone app idea and said it was ten screens, what would you charge to design that?

Firat: Well, usually it’s not ten screens. As I mentioned earlier…

Andrew: Ten screens seems…

Firat: …it could be, you know, 30 or 40 pages because there’s a lot of screens that…

Andrew: How many screens in this? That we showed earlier.

Firat: This is close to 35 pages, I believe. But the client told me it was about 15, 20 pages. Double the amount of pages for any project.

Andrew: It ends up being more than they think. So what does this cost to develop? To design the user experience for?

Firat: So this is just a UX card. We also designed the actual user interface as well.

Andrew: Okay.

Firat: It was around $15,000 dollars.

Andrew: $15,000 dollars for something like this.

Firat: Fifteen, yeah. 1-5.

Andrew: 1-5, right? Fifteen?

Firat: Fifteen. Sorry, I have an accent, so. [laughs]

Andrew: I want…it’s not even just about the accent. I want to make sure the transcribers write it down and people don’t think that it’s 50.

Firat: There’s no way. If you’re spending $50,000 dollars in design, some companies do and I don’t want to name them but you’re getting ripped off. There are a lot of very talented designers or agencies out there that can deliver good results.

Andrew: Alright. And you will not allow me to share this PDF that I’ve been showing up on the screen with anyone, right? You’re okay with me showing this…

Firat: It’s the blueprint for a project. Unfortunately we can’t show a case, I mean we can’t show a case, I mean a video but not an audible.

Andrew: All right. If people want to follow up with you, what’s a good way for them to contact you?

Firat: Email would be great. They can contact me through Hello@AwesomeNYC.com.

Andrew: Hello@AwesomeNYC.com.

Firat: Yes.

Andrew: Fraught, thank you so much for doing this.

Firat: Thank you for having me. I appreciate it.

Andrew: The viewer. I interrupted as you were saying thank you to me, I apologize. Thank you for doing this. And to the audience, thank you all for being a part of it. Bye, guys.

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