Ep 462: StoryBrand 7 Step Method with Dr. JJ Peterson

RV (00:02):
I am so excited to interview my, my good friend Dr. JJ Peterson. We’re gonna be talking about StoryBrand and the StoryBrand framework. I take credit for the success of the StoryBrand book because we did the book launch party at our house. Donald Miller, who was the original author, wasn’t gonna do a book launch. And we’re like, Don, are you crazy? We gotta launch this book. We launched it at our house, and I think it’s gone on to sell a million copies, or, you know, close to, if I think it, I think it sold a million copies. So that’s all because of where Don hosted his book, launch party. And that night I got to meet Dr. JJ Peterson, who now is the head of StoryBrand. He’s also the host of the Chart topping Marketing Made Simple podcast. And JJ is an amazing guy.
RV (00:49):
So he has a PhD in communication. He spent the last 20 years studying and teaching communication theory. He’s also an adjunct professor at the Owen School of Business at Vanderbilt University. And I mean, he’s, they, they, they’re, these guys are involved in so much with, you know, helping politicians and filmmakers and business owners and, and academia. I mean, StoryBrand has become mainstream. And it was like, I can’t believe we haven’t actually had you back on the show in such a long time. Never. J’s never been on this show. So we have to do this. Dr. JJ Peterson, welcome to the show, brother.
JP (01:29):
Oh my goodness. Well, thank you so much for having me. And yes, we still to this day absolutely give you 100% credit for that book, selling a Million . So
RV (01:38):
Yeah, we we’re gonna start charging a package. Like, if you just wanna sell a million copies host, you can host your book party at the Vaden Villa.
JP (01:46):
I will give you a testimony right now, , I will give you, we can record a testimony and make it happen. So,
RV (01:52):
I mean, obviously I, I feel like StoryBrand has become mainstream pervasive. It, it, it’s, it’s become a verb that people use. Like you got a story brand it, but if, if someone’s listening and they’ve, they’ve never heard of the book story building a StoryBrand, what is, what is StoryBrand exactly? Like, give us, you know, take us there.
JP (02:12):
Well, the, it kind of all goes back to when Donna Miller, who was a, you know, he was an author and had written a bunch of, you know, bestselling books, and most of them were memoirs. And he ended up putting on this conference where he was inviting people to come and kind of become the hero of their own stories to like, basically create these life plans, find purpose in their life. And, you know, he’d sold millions of books at that point. And so they were like, yeah, the conference is a no brainer. He rented out an auditorium for about 1500 people and sold 700 seats for the first event, and which was great, profitable, wonderful. And got great reviews. And then all of a sudden, the next time the conference came around, they’re like, well, we’ll sell out this time. And sold about 700 seats again, Uhhuh, and then sold about 700 seats again. And through the process began to realize that they weren’t able to actually articulate the value of the conference. Like people were coming. ’cause They knew Don they were coming because they’d heard from friends, just word of mouth. But it wasn’t growing because nobody could actually articulate the value or why people needed it or anything in the conference itself. So Don actually went off to a cabin to try to kind of figure out what his next book was going to be, as he
RV (03:38):
JP (03:38):
He, as he does, as
RV (03:39):
He just disappears to the cabin and comes out with another bestseller. Me off, like,
JP (03:43):
I’m, so, I know it’s a bit annoying. His genius is a bit annoying in that way. But he goes off and he kind of begins to, he gets distracted and starts watching movies and he, he tells the story, you know, and he really, he had been studying story for a while, been he had written a screenplay, and he began to realize that, you know, there really was formula to all movies, formula to all stories. Hmm. And in the moment, what he started realizing is, what if we could apply story frameworks, which really were, you know, the, the, like, they’re powerful mediums. You know, movies are making millions of dollars. Story has been studied for centuries, and there are rules to story. And he thought, well, what if we could take these rules and move it out of the screenwriting space and actually put it into marketing?
JP (04:34):
And through that position, the customer as the hero of the story, instead of what most businesses do is position themselves as the hero. And so he began to change his marketing for the conference and position the customer as the hero was able clearly to articulate how it worked clearly articulate how the conference was gonna benefit them, help them survive and thrive, all these things that you do in marketing. And the next conference did not spend any money on marketing. The very next conference sold out, then went to a bigger venue, sold out, went to a bigger venue, sold out. And he began to realize that when companies or thought leaders or authors were able to actually articulate the value of what they bring to the table in a way that through their marketing positions, their customers, the hero that both people win out.
JP (05:31):
Mm-Hmm. Because if a thought leader actually has something that’s gonna change people’s lives, or a business has something that’s gonna change people’s lives, then it actually, it does not serve the world if nobody under nobody knows why they need it or what they’re supposed to do with it when they get it right. And so he wanted to start helping people clarify their message using story as the foundational framework so that companies and thought leaders could actually communicate more clearly their value proposition. They could position their audience or their customers as the hero, and ultimately they could grow their companies. And so that’s kind of how it started. And since then, we’ve worked with thousands and thousands all over the world.
RV (06:14):
I know you guys do. And, and it’s, it’s funny because it’s like one of the toughest questions for people to answer. And, and I’ll say for mission-driven messengers, like for personal brands, right? Like, the people that we serve are these, like, oftentimes they’re almost like these bleeding heart. I, I wanna change the world, I want to help people. And then someone asks them, what do you do, ? And they just fall apart, right? It’s like, it takes 40 minutes to explain what, because they’re like, well, I have a nonprofit and I have this methodology that I’ve created and I’ve worked over here in this country. And, you know, I work sometimes with educational institutions that sometimes with corporate people and, and you know, like, because, or they just go I don’t know. Like, it’s, it’s so, it’s so much like, how do I communicate that quickly and, and succinctly?
RV (07:02):
And, you know, I remember the first time I read you know, I still have the, one of the galleys, one of the advanced reader copies of StoryBrand and Mark the whole thing up. And I, I, I called Don and I was like, dude, this is gonna be a game changer. Because it’s, I mean, why do you think we have such a hard time JJ communicating? Like when someone asks you, what do you do when you’re on a airplane, or, you know, you’re at you at a dinner party or whatever, a networking event, it was like, what do you do? Like, why do we fumble that up so much?
JP (07:34):
I think some of it, if, if I’m, if I’m really digging in, some of it is trying to be, it’s insecurity and also trying to be humble. Like, there’s two things in that. Like, there’s some insecurity about what you do, so you start fumbling through that, or there’s, you’re trying to be, you don’t wanna come across as cocky. Yeah. And so you’re trying to be humble in that. And what we’ve just found with all of that, and what I would say is that when you try to shrink in what you have to offer the world by not coming, you don’t wanna come across too cocky. You don’t like, you’re insecure about the fact that you can make a difference when you actually shrink in that moment, not only are you not serving yourself, but you’re not serving the world, you’re not serving your potential customers.
JP (08:17):
Because if you actually have experience, if you have things that you figured out along the way that can help pe make people’s lives better and easier, and you don’t know how to, and you lack confidence in your way of communicating that what you’re doing is by shrinking, you’re actually not serving people. And so we teach people how to explain that through through the whole StoryBrand framework really is there are seven talking points really that are essential to every good story. And these, like I said, have been studied for centuries. They go all the way back to Aristotle and Plato who argued that the best way to move people to action, the best way to change culture was through story. If you go back, you know, all the way to poetics it. Like,
RV (09:04):
No, you guys better be careful. I’m just afraid that Aristotle is going to bring a plagiarism lawsuit against Don here. And I, I don’t know if we should be sharing that. Well,
JP (09:13):
We, we cite him. We cite him. So we c him.
RV (09:15):
Him. Okay.
JP (09:15):
We cite him. Okay. So we definitely cite our sources. You
RV (09:18):
Tag him. Do you tag him on Instagram?
JP (09:19):
A hundred percent hash hashtag Aristotle Poetics hashtag Aristotle.
RV (09:22):
JP (09:23):
And , you know, and these, the, it’s, the formulas have been refined over the years, but really every good story has seven elements to it. Seven talking points, there’s a formula. And when you follow that formula, what you do is you ensure that your story actually is clear and compelling. That’s really what we’re looking for when we’re trying to create good stories, is it has to be clear and it has to be compelling. And so the seven elements, okay. Do you want me to go into those or
RV (09:53):
I, I, we are gonna, I do want to go into those, but before we do that, you know, you’ve touched on this idea that I think one of the big mantras of StoryBrand, and one of the thing that works really well, and one of the reasons why we believe in it and like we become such emphatic fans about it, is the idea that you as the business owner, as the mission-driven messenger, you as the marketer, you are not the hero. The customer is the hero. And I just wanna connect this back to what you were talking about shrinking. When people shrink themselves, or they wanna be humble, the reason they’re doing that is because they think the conversation is about them, or they’re making the conversation about themselves. And I think a huge, like the big central thing is to go, if, if the conversation’s not about you, if, if the goal of the conversation is not to impress the other person, but to simply help the other person to serve the other person, now all of a sudden there’s no reason to shrink. ’cause It’s like you’re showing up as like, the best helper in the world versus like the most important person in the world. And, and, and so I just wanted you to talk on that part a little bit. ’cause I think, you know, the tactics of StoryBrand are super practical and actionable. I wanna talk about the seven points, but to me, the real heartbeat is this idea that customer’s the hero.
JP (11:20):
Yes. And you know, you would never see, well, let, let me just say this. We all wake up pretty much every day as the main character of our own story, right? That just really is how it is. Like you’re the main character of your movie. I’m the main character of my movie. And so we’re all kind of walking through life that
RV (11:39):
Way. And in my head, I have abs that are more defined than what I actually see. But like, yes, I, I wake up, you know, I think of myself as like Brad Pitt, but you know, it’s not
JP (11:49):
Way Oh, you
RV (11:49):
Are, you’re, but I’m, but I’m, I I, I get what you’re saying. Keep kick your
JP (11:52):
. Yeah. Yeah. In my, in my version, I’m six two and I’m really five three . So you know, but we all are heroes of our own story. And what happens in good movies is that the hero, actually in most, in all movies, is actually one of the weakest characters in the story. And they have a lot of self-doubt. They make a lot of mistakes. They are up and they are down, and they’re insecure through the whole thing. They don’t actually become the strong hero till the end of the movie. That’s what the Hero’s Journey is all about, is becoming the hero. But in the beginning of the movie and the rest of the movie, they’re actually very weak and insecure and scared and Ill-equipped. But at some point in the movie, they meet in a good story. They meet a guide, they meet somebody who has been down the path that they’re trying to go down before they’ve, but they’ve also won the day.
JP (12:48):
So in Star Wars, Luke Skywalker is the hero, but he comes in contact with Obi one Kenobi and Yoda wi in Lord of the Rings. There’s Frodo, but then there’s Gandalf in Hunger Games. There’s Katniss. But then there’s Hamid. There’s always this older, wiser guide who comes along to help the hero win the day. And when thought leaders position themselves as the hero, and what I mean by that is when you start talking, quote unquote about just yourself making the conversation about you, what you’re actually doing is positioning yourself as weak. ’cause You’re positioning yourself as a hero in the story. The best people who are equipped to help other people win are always the guides and guides are confident. They are s strong, they’re actually the strongest character in any movie, right? Obi one, Kenobi, Yoda, Gandalf, strongest characters in the movie who are helping other people win.
JP (13:50):
Now, they’re not out there bragging about themselves. They’re not even talking a lot about their history. In fact, we usually don’t know a ton of their history in a movie. All we know about them is that they are equipped to help the hero win because they’ve been where the hero has been, and they’ve overcome the same obstacles. So when you’re a thought leader, or you’re in business, when you talk about yourself and just make it all about kind of your insecurities, or kind of shrink a little bit, you’re making yourself the hero of the story. And you’re actually positioning yourself as weak, which means you’re actually not able to help other people. But when you talk about yourself in a way that talks about how you’ve overcome the similar problems that the people in your audience or your customers have experienced, right? So if you say, look, say you’re a thought leader on finance, and you stand up in front of an audience, and you don’t have to say, look, I’m really good at finance all this stuff.
JP (14:46):
But if you get up in front of an audience and you say, Hey, I used to be overwhelmed by finances as well, I get it. I was actually depressed, I was really struggling. What you’re doing in that moment is you’re positioning yourself beginning to position yourself as a guide to your audience with empathy. So when you say, I get it, I was like, you, and then you say, but actually, I was able to figure out a system where I was able to budget and invest in a way that actually has made me a millionaire in the past 10 years. And I wanna share that with you. Mm-Hmm. , that’s not bragging. That’s positioning yourself as a guide to your audience or your customers. You are saying, I am like you. I’ve experienced what you’ve experienced, but I’ve also found a way forward, and I wanna bring you along in that journey. Mm-Hmm. that what say power
RV (15:33):
Is one of our, one of our flagship, you know, probably most repeated quotes at Brand Builders Group is your most powerfully positioned to serve the person you once were.
JP (15:45):
Yes. I love that.
RV (15:46):
It, it anchors to what you’re, it anchors exactly to what you’re saying here is to go. You, you can be the guide if you actually are teaching people and selling people something that you know something about because you’ve been there, it automatically, like the default is you are the guide, and it it sets, it sets you up, like in that position perfectly.
JP (16:09):
And because everybody’s the hero in their own story, they’re looking for a way to overcome their problems. They’re looking for a way to win the day. They’re looking a way to move forward. And so, again, going back to your initial question when somebody says, what do you do? And you start fumbling and you start kind of trying to shrink a little bit and going, well, it’s really complicated. Immediately in their brain, what they’re doing is, oh, I’m not sure this person has really anything to help me move forward. Not in a, like, not, not in a,
RV (16:39):
In a subconscious
JP (16:39):
Way. Yeah. But it’s very subconscious. They’re going, this person, it is not gonna help me move ahead. And quite frankly, they’re not interesting . And so you might go, oh, great, nice to meet you. All right. Hey, I gotta leave. I gotta go get a drink. You know, like, it’s the conversation’s over because the person being introduced is not making them curious about what they offer, curious about their product, curious about their thought leadership. And so the best way to answer that question, a very simple way to tell what I would argue is a short story, is the way that you wanna always answer the question. What do you do really is three parts. I mentioned that overall stories, when you create good movies and stuff, there are seven parts. But to tell a short story, there are actually three parts to it. It’s very formulaic.
JP (17:28):
All right? In order to position your customer or your audience as the hero, what you wanna do is the very first thing you wanna do. And somebody says, so what do you do? You don’t answer that question. You start with a problem that they or your customers are experiencing. So if you asked me, just like, jj, what do you do? I would start, I wouldn’t say I work at StoryBrand. I would start by saying, so many businesses and thought leaders have a hard time explaining what it is that they do in a way that can actually make them a ton of money. So I just start that like, people have a hard time explaining what they do to grow their business,
RV (18:06):
Articulate the problem,
JP (18:07):
Articulate the problem. What you’re doing in that moment is you’re actually making the story about the person you’re talking to, not about yourself. So you start with the problem, then you come in as the guide and position yourself as a solution. So I’ve said, you know, a lot of thought leaders and businesses have a hard time explaining what they do. So they’re actually missing out on a, on a lot of money. What we do at StoryBrand is come in and help people create a clear message using the elements of story. So now I’ve just positioned myself as a guide to, to you the hero. And then I finish out the story with my customer success. So then I say, when people go through this, they’re able to not only articulate what they do in a really powerful way, but they’re able to actually help more people and grow their business. So it’s what the, the three elements are problem, solution, success. That’s a short story. So I’ll just put it all together. I would say so many thought leaders and businesses out there have a hard time explaining what they do to people in a way that makes them money. We help people clarify their marketing and their message by using a story framework so that then they ultimately have a clear way of explaining their value proposition can help more people and grow their business. Mm-Hmm. .
RV (19:26):
Got it. So yeah, give us the seven points. I wanna make sure that we at least hit, hit high level on ’em. I know you, they go deep in the book and in the course. Yeah, yeah. And the training that you guys do. But like, walk us through the seven parts. ’cause, And I want for you listening, these are the seven parts of a story. But then this is also like a checklist for like how you would write out the copy of describing whatever it is that you do. So all right. Hit us, jj.
JP (19:53):
All right. So the seven elements of any good story are that in the first bit of the story, right at the very beginning, there is a hero. And that hero wants something in a movie within the first nine minutes of a movie for the story to be good. We have to know what that hero wants. And we could probably all think of movies where we just could say, oh yeah, the hero wants this. It should be very clear, it should be very obvious, and it should be really one thing. Jason Bourne wants to know his identity, but he can’t also open a cupcake shop and want to run a marathon. And all these other things has to be one thing, right? How that
RV (20:32):
Someone wants to get married, couple wants to have kids, somebody wants to be rich. Well, someone wants to find their dad. You know, finding Nemo wants to find their parents like Uhhuh.
JP (20:41):
Yep. Very, very clear. How that then applies to marketing is the principle is that companies need to, if you’re positioning your customer as the hero, companies need to be able to clearly articulate what they offer. And it actually has to be one thing. It can’t be 50 things. And that is what enters your customer into the story. So you have to be able to say, not just say like, I help people achieve a great life. No, no, no. What do you actually offer? And it needs to be clear. So you need to create talking points that articulate what you offer. ’cause That is really what your customer’s looking for. The second element of any good story is that once the hero, we know what the hero wants. A problem has to get in the way. The only way a story gets interesting is if the hero encounters a problem, right?
JP (21:32):
It’s like, if Liam Neeson’s daughter gets kidnapped for the eighth time, and he gets that phone call that says, you know, I have your daughter. And then all of a sudden she hops on and goes, just kidding. It’s a joke. Do you want to come over to Europe and we’ll just go shopping and look at colleges? And then the rest of the movie is about that very boring movie, right? We’re not interested in it. The hook of the story that makes the story interesting is the problem. The bigger the problem, the more interesting the story. How that applies to our marketing is the only reason people are paying attention to your marketing or coming to you to buy a product or service is because you solve a problem for them. So you have to clearly articulate what problem your customers are experiencing that is gonna hook them in the marketing.
JP (22:25):
These two pieces are the two biggest pieces when it comes to writing a good story and creating good marketing. If you don’t articulate what you offer and you don’t constantly talk about the problems your customers experience, then people won’t pay attention to you. And if you can get those two things right in a movie and in marketing, you’re gonna do great. But the story keeps going and gets even more interesting. So then the element comes in that we’ve already talked about. The third principle of the StoryBrand framework is that the hero meets a guide. Mm-Hmm. They meet somebody who comes along and helps them win the day. Mr.
RV (23:02):
Miyagi, here you come. Yes, here he comes. Daniel son, Mr.
JP (23:05):
Mgi. Yes, exactly. , yes. And so that say, we’ve already talked about this, but the really, the paradigm, big paradigm shift in the StoryBrand framework is you’re not the hero of the story. You’re the guide. So stop talking about yourself and talk about your customer’s problems and talk about how you understand them. You have empathy for it, and you have authority to fix it. You have, you kind of give evidence that you’ve solved it for other people, testimonies, awards, things like that. Then the fourth element of a good story is that the guide gives the hero a plan. In every movie, I actually wanna do like some dissertation research to see how many times or in how many movies, the phrase what’s the plan, or here’s the plan appears. Hmm, I bet I mean, you, if you think about it, it’s in every movie, and it doesn’t matter how complicated the plot is or how complicated the problem is, they’ll go, but here’s the plan, right?
JP (24:01):
And what that does in a movie is show the audience that there is a clear path forward, easy and clear path forward for the hero to win, right? Even in Oceans 11, they’re gonna rob the Bellagio, it’s never been done before, it’s impossible. And then they go, but here’s the plan, right? . And then they follow the plan. Nice. The principle for that in marketing is you need to show your customers that there’s a clear and easy way to do business with you. What are the three steps that you guide them through to either purchase your product or work with them? So it can be schedule a call, we create a plan, then we meet monthly to make sure that that happens. You know, something in your, you know, we do an intake session, you join a mastermind group, and then we meet one-on-one after that, right?
JP (24:50):
We just have three steps to show them this is how you win the day. Then the fifth element in a good story is that after the hero gets the plan, there’s a moment where they have to be called to action. They have to be either in or out. And so the, in a lot of movies, there is a ticking time bomb that is gonna force the hero to act, right? Like, it’s gonna go off in five minutes and they’ve gotta be in or out, they’ve gotta run towards it. Or runaway a tsunami’s coming to de destroy Los Angeles, and they’ve gotta get their daughter out of the city. You know, there’s all of these kind of this countdown that says you need to act or there may be consequences. The principle for that in the marketing is we actually need to have clear calls to action in our marketing, our heroes.
JP (25:40):
Our customers need to know exactly what they need to do in order to buy our product and service. There is a study that was done recently that said 70% of small businesses in America do not have a clear call to action on their website that people are losing money if they don’t know if, if your customers or your audience doesn’t know what they’re supposed to do next. If you’re a thought leader and you’re up on a stage, you better at the end of your talk have something that they’re supposed to do that will connect them to your products and services. What’s the next step they’re supposed to take in order to work with you?
RV (26:16):
Yeah. And I, you know, it’s interesting. It’s never really dawned on me the, the, the, the, the dynamic of the ticking bomb part of it, right? So there’s a clear action, but then, you know, obviously, like you know, we do a lot of copywriting, like sales copywriting, like to, you know, how do you create page that gets someone to pull out their credit card? And you know, urgency is like a really big part, is people, people always procrastinate. And I’ve never thought about that with the relation, like the connection to StoryBrand in movies, how it’s like, you know, he, he’s about to get on an airplane and leave your life forever, or you know, you better ask her out on a date before she like gets on the train That there, like that kind of a thing. So do you guys advocate kind of like deadlines and countdowns and that kind of stuff?
JP (27:07):
Absolutely. Absolutely. Because if you allow people to delay action, it often becomes inaction. So I, I say that a lot. Delayed action usually is inaction. And so when you, it’s always in a movie, like you said, it’s very clear, there’s a moment, right? It’s, it’s not kind of wishy-washy of what the hero is supposed to do. They have to go get the girl, they have to disarm the bomb, they have to hop in the helicopter. There’s something that they have to do. And all the sports very,
RV (27:35):
Very clear. Every i’ll I have the built in clock, like
JP (27:37):
Exactly. And if, if you’re saying, okay, so let’s say Tom Cruise is running through the airport to disarm a bomb, and all of a sudden he finds out it’s going off in a month, well, there’s no urgency for that action , right? He’s just like, what am I doing? I’m not gonna sprain my ankle doing this. There’s no urgency. So that’s why there’s so often like literally a ticking time bomb. So in calls to action, when you can create a sense of urgency that in, in your emails and on even on your webpage or on your social media, then absolutely. But even almost, I would argue more important than that is most people, their calls to action are often like, well, if you wanna learn more or it, or, you know, or, you know, Hey, let me know if you have any questions. No, no, no.
JP (28:21):
What you’re doing again, in that moment is you’re shrinking. And again, I’ll remind everybody, you shrinking does not serve your customers or the world . And so what you’re saying when you’re just like, well, you know, if you have any questions or blah, blah, blah, what you’re actually doing is saying, I’m not quite sure I believe in my product or what I’m willing to offer you. I don’t believe that it’s actually gonna change your life or make a difference. And our customers subconsciously feel that. So be strong, buy now, schedule a call, sign up. You know, any of those kind of things, you need to be very
RV (28:53):
Clear. And I think of it, you know, so like, as a parent of two toddlers, I go, if my son is about to pick up a marble and put it in his mouth, I don’t kind of politely say, Hey, you should maybe not do that. Or like, I reach over and I smack it out of his hand like now. Right? And so, mm-hmm, , when you have that, when you truly have that service centered mindset, there’s urgency on your part to create urgency on their part. Yes. And, and, and I think, I think a lot of people miss that, especially the mission driven messengers. ’cause It’s like, I just want to help everybody and I just wanna encourage ’em. And it’s like, yeah. And a part of that is giving ’em a freaking deadline. Yes. If you don’t give ’em a freaking deadline, they’re not gonna do your thing, which means they’re not gonna change their life, which means they’re gonna do exactly what they’ve been doing, which means they’re gonna continue to be a mess. So it’s like a part of a creating a service is giving people a deadline. Absolutely. That’s what you’re gonna change their life.
JP (29:54):
Absolutely. Clarity is kindness and showing people where they’re supposed to go, what they’re supposed to do is actually an act of service. So if, if , I would almost say literally, if you hear nothing out of this out of this podcast, make sure that your calls to action are clear on your website and your social media and in all of your marketing, that is actually a gift to the people you serve. The last two elements of the StoryBrand framework are what we call success and failure. These are what are really in a good movie, the stakes in the story, and they’ve kind of been forecast through the whole foreshadowed through the whole movie. We know what a happy ending looks like for a hero, and we’re rooting for that. But we also know what tragedy can look like for them. That, you know, they’re gonna win the day.
JP (30:42):
They’re gonna get the girl they’re gonna hit the home run, or that actually they’re gonna strike out and everybody loses. They’re gonna miss out on the girl and she’s gonna marry his brother. You know, like we know what the tragedy, what we’re pain we’re trying to avoid, and what success we’re cheering for. And it’s the same thing in marketing. You need to create talking points and value proposition around what their, your customer’s life will look like once they do business with you. That’s called success. So what, what are they gonna save time, save money? Are they gonna be more confident? Are they gonna be able to get ahead? What are the things they’re actually gonna be able to benefit from, from your product or service? And we need to write those out and articulate those, but we also need to articulate what they’re going to miss out on, or what pain they’re going to continue to experience if they don’t work with us, that they’re gonna continue to be tired, they’re gonna continue to be overwhelmed.
JP (31:38):
And that might get a little bit worse where they actually struggle with burnout, right? You can kind of forecast what can happen to them if they don’t work with you. And mainly it’s that their problems either are solved if they work with you or are not solved. If they don’t, and they either can get then a little bit better or a little bit worse. And those really are the seven elements of a good story. And a seven, the seven elements of good marketing. So what we actually do is then teach people how to create talking points for all seven of those elements so that you can make sure that on your website emails, when you’re giving keynote addresses, when you’re doing webinars, that everything you’re talking about is very clear. It’s positioning your customers the hero, you as the guide, and showing how you can make their life better if you work with them by giving them a clear call to action. Mm-Hmm,
RV (32:30):
. Yep. Yep. So I mean, on that note, jj, where should people go if they wanna learn more about you guys and all things StoryBrand and Donald Miller and like all, all the stuff you guys got going on?
JP (32:44):
Yeah, we actually have a little a little gif for everybody who’s listening is that you can actually go to storybrand.com/brand script. And when you go to storybrand.com/brand script, you’re actually gonna see what we call an online brand script where it has these different elements that I’ve just been talking about. And there are boxes to be able to create, start working on your own story, your company story, your entrepreneurial story, to try to create talking points around those pieces. So it’s actually like an online version of everything that I just talked about. So you can go there and practice creating your marketing and your messaging, and that’s storybrand.com/brandscript.
RV (33:27):
So Cool. Yeah, so we’ll link up in the show notes. And you know, I guess this last thing, jj, like, if, if someone is starting out, you know, right now and they’re hearing this and they’re going, oh my gosh. Like, you know, I, I I’m, I I I struggle with articulating what I’m doing and y you know, like, I don’t know, you know, I’m not a great writer, et cetera. I mean, you’ve given ’em some really great tools and, and stuff, but just kind of more like on the emotional side, you know, what, what’s kind of the encouragement or the reminder that you would want that person to hear?
JP (34:05):
Yeah, I think, you know, I, for me, for a long time, ’cause I’ve been in marketing and public relations and things for a very long time, and the thing that I struggled most with was I, I never wanted to brag about myself. I never wanted to elevate myself. And it, it meant much of that came from kind of a false humility. Truthfully, , it was like I was a little arrogant, but then I didn’t want people to think I was arrogant, . And so, you know, it was like, almost like a false sense of humility. And so I didn’t know how to talk about myself. And when I discovered the StoryBrand framework and realized that actually I am not the hero, I don’t want to be the hero of my own story. I want to be a guide for other people to help them win this, their story that changed everything for me.
JP (34:54):
And it actually lifted a huge weight off of my shoulders and allowed me to talk about myself and the things that I do in a way that really serves others versus serving myself. And so if you’re in that spot where you’re like, I don’t know how to do this. I’m, I, I feel weird talking about myself getting on podcasts or going, getting up and giving speeches ’cause it feels like, what do I have to say? Well, the first thing I would say is you have amazing things to say, everybody. A lot of times people think they don’t have anything new to offer the world. And I’m telling you, you may not have a new idea, but you have a new way of telling it because you’re the only person who’s ever experienced what you’ve experienced. So stand in that authority that you have that there is only one you.
JP (35:39):
And then the second thing is, stop thinking about what you do and start thinking about the problems that you solve for other people. What pain are people experiencing? What problems are they experiencing? And what wisdom do you have, or tools or tips or tricks do you have in your arsenal that can help them solve their problem? If you start just thinking in that way, the weight will come off your shoulders. You’re gonna get so much more excited about talking about what you do and selling your services because you are going to make the world a better place. People need you. They need your wisdom, they need your experience, and they need what you have in order to make their lives better and the lives of the people they serve. So,
RV (36:25):
JP (36:25):
Think about that and solve problems. Don’t talk about yourself. Solve problems.
RV (36:31):
Yeah. Amen, brother. Don’t, don’t be the hero. Be the guide. Dr. JJ Peterson, thank you for coming and for sharing your wisdom, brother. We love you guys. And we, we, you know, we always want the best for you guys, so keep kicking butt.
JP (36:45):
Oh, thanks. It’s such an honor to be here. Love you guys too.

Ep 453: When to Slow Down So You Can Speed Up | Elizabeth Stephens Episode Recap

AJV (00:02):
Hey, everybody, AJ Vaden here. I am continuing the conversation that I got to have with the one and only amazing, wonderful, Elizabeth Stephens, who is our VP of Member Experience at Brand Builders Group. And I invited her on to our podcast to have an hour long discussion on customer journeys. And I wanna follow up that conversation here to talk a little bit more in depth about what is a customer journey. And even if you’re not working with us as a client at Brand Builders Group, but you’re, you know, absorbing our content, which is what you’re doing if you’re listening to this, if you’re listening to our podcast, social media email list, you’ve gotten one of our free resources, or you’re just a friend of the company, I think there’s some things that you can really take away that mean a lot as you’re thinking about your brand building journey and how does that fit in alignment with something that has some structure and some process to it.
AJV (01:03):
And so that’s what I wanna talk about today. And at Brand Builders Group we exist to empower Mission-driven messengers to get their message out into the world. Like that’s why we exist. Like little known fact. We did not have a business plan for this company. We did not intend to start this company. We did not have dreams of starting this company. This, this company was created out of a, what I would say, a God orchestrated divine intervention in our lives. And he used people around us. He used Lewis Howes he used our former business partners. He used a lawsuit. He used all different types of things to call us to this work. This was not work that we set out to do. This is work that we were called to do. And when I say that this is a, a missional job and a missional company, I mean it from the depths of my soul that we exist to give a voice to people who have a desire for their voice to be heard. Because we believe deeply, deeply that someone, you who is, who’s listening right now, you have the power to change one person’s life with your message. And that person has the power to do the same for someone else. And that by sharing your message and by giving hope, inspiration a plan a technique, a process, whatever it is, like you can, you can create pivotal change that can truly be the tip of the spear of changing the world. I don’t say that halfheartedly, I don’t say that as marketing language. I believe
Speaker 2 (02:58):
That to the depths of my soul. And when I say that we have spent 20 years doing this work to figure out how to do it more efficiently, how to do it more productively, how to do it, more passion and heart led, I mean it. And our entire team at Brand Builders Group has spent the last five years of figuring out the order and the sequencing and the cadence and how to streamline this and building the right processes and tools and systems to allow somebody else to do it better, faster, and more impactful than we did. That’s why we exist. That’s why these customer journeys are a really big part of our work at Brand Builders Group. And it doesn’t matter if you work with us as a client or not, I believe that these have the ability to help you, to help impact you, and to help you move forward with your desires with your missional work.
Speaker 2 (03:58):
And so, high level, what is a customer journey? A customer journey is a roadmap. And I know there’s lots of different definitions of customer journey out there. So I’m just telling you ours, it’s a, a roadmap. A roadmap of how you’re going to encounter everything that you encounter at Brand Builders Group, right? So that’s content, that’s community, that’s our team. There are different intersection points that happen in this roadmap, this journey that we believe have critical benchmarks. And the way that we built this journey is that it’s built in 90 day increments. And we believe that our curriculum can be the majority of it can be consumed and completed in 90 day sprints. And so that’s how we built it. Now, our, you know, normal track is a three year journey. And I share that not to frighten you , but to inspire you that it takes a minute to lay a solid foundation and a solid framework and infrastructure for something that’s going to be grand.
Speaker 2 (05:10):
It just takes time. And that’s not a lot of time in the overarching scheme of your life or your business, your work. It’s not it’s really a short amount of time. But if you just relate this to architecture and construction for a second, I think this will give you some basis points, right? Like when, when architects and contractors, commercial contractors, industrial contractors are going to build a high rise most of them, depending on the size of the company, are digging and laying the foundation for years before they ever start building up years, not a year, years. That’s with an s. And I think I was, and don’t
Speaker 3 (05:56):
Hold me to this, but when the Burge Khalifa that that was being built in Dubai, I believe that they were building that foundational infrastructure for five, maybe seven years, and maybe 10 years. I could be way off, but I know it was like multiple, multiple years before they ever started doing anything else. Because big things require a solid foundation and a very clear infrastructure, right? That it requires a plan, it requires a team, it requires communication, it requires time, and some things just shouldn’t be rushed. But if you spend the upfront time to build that foundation and to build that infrastructure, it allows you to grow and scale infinitely once it’s built. And so the way that we built these journeys is like, hey, the first three years, it’s not that you won’t have revenue, and it’s not that you’re not gonna get your message out, that starts happening immediately.
Speaker 3 (07:00):
We believe that as soon as you are doing that, you know, what we call your foundational work, finding your brand, DNA, it’s like you, the clearer you get, the bigger your impact automatically happens in conversations and content and creation in your team, in your beliefs, in your passion. Those things start to happen immediately. So dollars are coming in. That’s not what I’m saying. What I’m saying though, is that to complete that foundation, to complete that infrastructure with all the things in place that would, that would allow you to have something that goes beyond you, it takes a minute. And for us, we, we have built in a way that’s about three years to get it all complete. And it’s not that we wanna see you leave after three years. We wanna continue to work with you. But we also, we wanna be realistic of going like building your personal brand.
Speaker 3 (07:50):
It’s, it’s more than even building a business. This is a part of building a legacy. It’s a part of building your ministry. It’s a part of living into your mission, your calling. And that is not to be rushed. It’s not to be rushed. But we also know that looking at something in th in a three year scheme, it could be overwhelming. It’s overwhelming to me. So we broke it down into these 90 day sprints that allows you to have a micro focus on a certain topic, a certain curriculum, 90 days at a time. And at the end of each of those 90 days, there are benchmarks. So, you know, at the end of these 90 days, at each topic, at each curriculum, if I have set, if I have hit these set benchmarks, then it’s like pass, go and monopoly, right? Continue to the next square. If not, go back. You don’t keep moving forward if the initial work has not been completed, right? And so the way that we see this for all of you who are listening who don’t know all of our curriculum pieces, which is fine, and it doesn’t matter what journey you’re on, we have four very distinct customer
Speaker 4 (08:54):
Journeys at Brand Builders Group. We believe that we are most and best well positioned to serve the person who wants to become a highly paid professional speaker. We know that world. We are these people. We, we know we can help you. Number two is that we are best and most well positioned to help people who want to be published authors. Doesn’t matter if it’s self-published, hybrid published, or traditional published. We know that world. We know that space. We have a passion for it. We have a desire to help you in that we can help. The third is we believe that we are the best and most well-positioned people to help you generate new leads for your business, your existing business before anything else, we’re salespeople. That’s our biggest, strongest background. We find sales as an honorable profession. It is one that we admire, we respect and is necessary to all business.
Speaker 4 (09:48):
And if the idea of sales makes you cringe when, then that’s where you need to lean in because you’re thinking about it wrong. Sales is a necessary function of mission, ministry, work, money, all things must master the art of sales and lead generation. Nobody wants to be the world’s best kept secret, and you don’t either. You’ve gotta master that. And last but not least we think we are the best and most well positioned person to help you as you’re building your personal brand. Figure out your new revenue stream right now. I will say that’s the smallest amount of people that we work with, because we believe we need to capitalize on what you have currently, which is for most of you, your existing business. We don’t need to start something new just because you want to. Just because you can’t, doesn’t mean you should.
Speaker 4 (10:38):
But sometimes it’s the right necessary place. And we, we know how to do that. We’ve started a lot of businesses, we enjoy doing that. But we also know how much time at work it takes. So we are discerning with helping you decide those. But I think the thing that we have found amongst all of those is that there are, there are critical elements, no matter what your unique journey is of how our curriculum comes into play, right? And so, no matter what journey you’re on, no matter where you are in your business, no matter where you are in your journey, when you come to Brand Builders Group, our foundation, right? What we do, everything based off of is what we call finding your brand DNA, which is determining these four things. What problem do you solve for the world that only you can solve in the way that you can? How do you solve that problem in your own unique way? Who do you solve that problem for your audience? And how do you make money solving that problem? So what is the problem that you solve for the world? What is your unique way in solving that problem? Who do you solve it for? And how do you make money solving that problem? Now, there’s other components
Speaker 5 (11:53):
To it, but that, that’s, that’s the foundation right? Now at the end of that there’s some things that we need to figure out. Like what’s your message? What’s your uniqueness? What are the payoffs? What what business are you trying to be in? But those are the nitty gritty details. But if you don’t know the answer to those four questions, you cannot, should not move forward. But once you do know the answer to those questions, that would take you into what we would call next, your content creation. So now, if you know what problem, your message, who you solve it for and how you wanna make money, now you start creating what we call your body of work, right? And that’s what you have to say about it. That’s what you have to say to the world. It’s what are your stories? What are the points?
Speaker 5 (12:36):
What are the lessons? What are the frameworks? This is building your original thought leadership, and that happens after that foundational work of what problem, what message, who’s the who and how do you make money? Then it’s content creation, right? So it’s what you have to say about it. The next step is what we call world-class presentation craft. But in normal terms, it’s just how you wanna say it. So the first thing is those four things. What problem, what message, who and how you make money. Part two is your content creation is your body of work. It’s your original thought leadership. So it’s what you have to say. Part three is how you want to say it. It’s the art of the spoken word. I just wanna kind of pause right there, because all of those are pretty much the beginnings of the entire first year, right?
Speaker 5 (13:30):
If each one of those takes 90 days you’re at month nine, right? And yet we have not talked about anything, website anything, brand identity. We haven’t talked about funnels, webinars, checkout processes, CRMs, all of that. Why? Because those first nine months are the things that last the test of time. Those are the things that go beyond a funnel or a website or social media. These are the things that are integral to who you are, who you were built to be, why you’re here, and why you have this calling on your life. And to get all of that in nine months is extremely fast, honestly. But that is that core foundational work that it pretty much doesn’t matter what journey you’re in, we know that that is the work that has to happen before you keep moving forward. Because if you start building and growing on a weak foundation, you’re gonna start finding inconsistencies. And when there’s inconsistencies, there’s wasted time, energy, resources, and money. And we’re not trying to waste anyone’s time. It’s a finite, precious commodity that there’s just not a lot of. And so we take it super seriously. So as you’re just walking through this, as someone who is a, a consumer of this content, I would encourage you to just kind of pause for a second and go,
Speaker 6 (14:51):
Am I rushing things? Or better yet, where am I rushing things? Where do I need to slow down and just let the process be the process? What can I do as other things continue to happen? Where can I carve out time that that needs to happen? And maybe you don’t get to do this full-time. It’s not 40 hour week endeavor for you right now. Maybe it’s a two hour week endeavor. That’s okay. There is a path and a pace for everyone. You just have to find yours. My, my message though, my, my plea to you though is don’t rush the foundation. Don’t rush the infrastructure. ’cause That is what is going to allow you to grow faster and scale better once you set it in place. And as we mentioned on the full call, if you’re going, whoa, whoa, whoa, like something clicks, something dinged I would just encourage you to continue listening to these podcast episodes tons of free resources there.
Speaker 6 (15:51):
You can also go to our website, www brand builders group.com, and click on the button at the top that says, free resources. We got you free resources for days. We can keep you very busy with free resources. But as you go through those, or you’re going, man, I, I, I just, I want a little more than that, then I would encourage you to go to free brand call.com and schedule a free call with our team. That’s the first touch point with all of us. We are not a fit to work with everyone, and not everyone is a fit to work with us in that type of way. This call helps you sample what we do. It helps you get to know our team, and it helps our team to get to know you, to decide if we’re a good partnership. And if not, we wanna support you. So we’re gonna keep sending you free resources, until you say, please stop. That’s enough. So please continue listening to the podcast. Check out our free resources. And if you’re looking for more than that, visit free brand call.com and schedule that free call today. I’ll see you later.

Ep 452: Building Your Personal Brand Journey with Elizabeth Stephens

AJV (00:02):
Hey everybody and welcome to the Influential Personal Brand podcast. Super excited today to have on a fellow BBGA very good close personal friend. But also Elizabeth Stevens is the VP of our member experience here, brand Builders Group. And so there’s so many fun things about this exciting interview. And before I formally introduced her, I just wanted to share why I wanted to have Elizabeth onto the show today. And I think there’s a couple of different things that are really important as we look forward to wherever you are in your journey or wherever you are in your year. But as you just look, look forward to the next 12 months, there should be some things that you are always asking yourself, such as, what should I be working on? And what order should I be working on these things? Where should I be investing my money, my time, my energy, my resources?
AJV (01:01):
And am I doing these things in a way that actually is going to benefit me in the end? So it doesn’t matter what year of what month of the year it is, it doesn’t matter where you’re at in your journey. There’s always things that you should be asking yourselves as you’re looking ahead to those next 12 months. And so I thought having Elizabeth on the show today would be so helpful to talk about how we can do the right things, but in the wrong order, and then we’re confused. And then we, we stale. We kind of, kind of become stale and stagnant. So that’s gonna be the conversation today and a lot of fun things in between. And so as we get into this, I just want you to know that as you’re listening this is one of those conversations that is applicable universally.
AJV (01:47):
Doesn’t matter how beginner you are, how advanced you are, doesn’t matter what you’re working on, why you’re working on it, this is one of those conversations that has a very holistic approach. So if you’re tuning in, this is, this is a conversation for you today. So stick around and don’t leave because it’s going to be well worth it to the very last second. Now, let me introduce you to the one and only Elizabeth Stevens. Elizabeth is a personal brand strategist and an expert at that. She’s also the vice President of Member Experience here at Brand Builders Group. Woo woo. I would say that she has also worked with brands extremely closely on a personal level like a personal brand level, as well as a large corporate level like Charles Schwab in Southwest Airlines. She’s worked with New York Times bestselling authors, eight, nine-figure entrepreneurs top ranked podcast hosts. She has done all these things. Not to mention, she is the founder of a nonprofit. She is helped people craft Ted Talks. She has three amazing kids. So she does all these other things in the midst of being a mom, like all these different things. Plus, she’s a speaker and an all around amazing human being. So, without further ado, Elizabeth, welcome to the show.
ES (03:05):
Oh, thank you so much. I get exhausted hearing that, especially the part about the three kids and all that stuff as we during the time of this podcast. It’s right before the Christmas season. And as any parent knows, it is complete insanity on all fronts. So I can Thank
AJV (03:23):
You, . I can relate. Mm-Hmm, . So I just kind of wanna hit this with a couple questions that I’ve been getting asked a lot here lately. We’ve actually been doing a lot of interviewing for new team members at Brand Builders Group. We’ve actually added 10 new team members to our team this year, which just feels impossible and extraordinary all at the same time. And from almost every single interview that I’ve had, I’ve had one really consistent question. And then being in our events and being a part of all the different things in our client community, I started noticing like, oh, our interview candidates aren’t the only ones asking this question. So here’s the question that I think is important for everyone. Why do some personal brands excel? Why others fall flat, right? If everyone is coming in with this mission and its passion and this message that they feel like is a calling on their heart, and they’re all, and I’m just thinking about in Brand Builders Group where they’re all following a similar curriculum, a similar path, kind of why are some taking off like a rocket? And why do others still still feel stuck in the garage?
ES (04:33):
Hmm. That’s such a great question. And it’s one I think we ask ourselves a lot and finally got to this point where we really realized it’s all about giving them those parameters, right? It’s really understanding, and you said this earlier, you referenced it at the beginning about a, a lot of people decide what they want to do. They make a decision. I want to be this thing. I want to create this piece of work. I want to excel in this area. But the question we often don’t ask ourselves is, when do we do that thing, right? How do we create a timeline that aligns with the, what the big overarching goal that we want? And so we come into these ideas and these businesses saying, and these personal brands saying, this is what I wanna be, this is what I wanna do. But we don’t ask ourselves. The most important question is, when do I do the things that are going to make this happen? And I think that is one of the biggest mistakes personal brands, entrepreneurs, businesses make, is we have a good idea of the what, the passion, the purpose, and deep inside of us, but we have not created a timeline to where that works for us and for the people we serve very effectively.
AJV (05:50):
Hmm. So I know, and for all of you who are listening who don’t know, but Elizabeth also holds a really special place in all of the client’s journey that we work with at Brand Builders Group because she does annual planning calls with every single one of the clients, our members at Brand Builders Group. And so she gets to have these unique conversations of let’s reflect on the last 12 months as we plan the next 12 months. And so I imagine a lot of that feedback, those insights are coming from these calls. And so that kind of leads me to another question that you kind of mentioned. It’s, you know, we know that there’s a timing and a sequence to things. And so what is that timing and sequence of things?
ES (06:32):
Yeah. Yeah. You know, one of the things that we developed and really I think wrapped our minds around very intentionally and specifically even in the past year specifically, are our customer journeys, right? Really identifying the goals that people had. That what, like, this is what I’m running after. And then saying, how do we reverse engineer that goal into a timeline with parameters of knowing when to do the right thing at the right time? And you, you referenced this earlier too, is that so many people do the right thing, but at the wrong time, right? We’re either pushing things too fast when we’re not ready, or we’re maybe moving a little slow when, when we could really aim our sights on something different. And so developing these customer journeys for our members has been, has been really enlightening and eye-opening, and it has allowed them to achieve success so much faster, right? It’s moving towards the what at the right time. And so our customer journeys that we have developed are super specific, right? It’s based on that overarching goal. And like I said, it’s a reverse engineering, right? If this is what you’re running at, what do you need to do in the next 12 months? What do you need to do in the next 24 months, 36 months to reach this objective?
AJV (07:53):
Hmm. So before we talk about what these customer journeys are, I would just like for you to share in your perspective, ’cause you’re so close to the member community. So like Elizabeth, you’re touching hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people every single year who are out there building their personal brands. I would love to know, it’s like as we like, kinda like delve into this customer journey, and as people are reflecting on their 12 months and they’re entering into the next 12 months, what, what would you say are the biggest pain points of like, if we have these journeys and people are supposed to be following , that keyword’s supposed to be like, what, what is happening there? And then on the flip side, what is happening for those people who are breaking through some of those barriers and seeing extreme success? Have you noticed any patterns regardless of journey? And we’re gonna step into that next of what, what is working and what is not working for people building their personal brands?
ES (08:53):
Well, something just super practically speaking is that a lot of our clients and members are feeling still very diluted, right? We have a saying at brand builders group, diluted focus yields, diluted results. It is the biggest pain point by far that our members experience in their brand and business, right? They are wearing too many hats. They’re focused on too many different ideas. They have spread themselves very thin. They’re unable to get traction. And even, and I would say that the people that I talk with that are still struggling, like they are, they’re given the right information. They have an accountability partner, they are still getting really diluted, right? They’re chasing a lot of ideas. They are definitely living in the, the present, but with lots of distraction where we wanna really temper yes, be where you are. ’cause There are ramifications of moving too fast or turning around, but, but living in the present and being distracted by everything, literally enveloping them I see is the biggest detriment to their long-term success.
ES (09:56):
There is still a little bit of diluted focus, right? And, and it’s, it’s shiny objects. It’s running after, oh, I just got this call to potentially run after this big opportunity. And it’s really tempering that back and asking, is this aligned with my overarching goal with that long-term plan that I have created for myself? If it’s not, and it doesn’t follow into my customer journey or trajectory, I need to know when to say no. Right? There are things to say no to and to say yes to. So I think the biggest thing I’m seeing is still that chasing the shiny object that all entrepreneurs struggle with so, so consistently. But that I think is the biggest thing I’m seeing on a consistent basis in my calls.
AJV (10:39):
No, I think that’s so insightful. And it’s interesting because we were on a call yesterday with one of our clients who’s had extreme success this year with her new book Forever Strong. Her name is Dr. Gabrielle Lyon. And I asked her, I said, Hey, if you’ve had an incredible breakthrough year, what would you say is like the number one thing that other people could do to have a breakthrough year next year? And she said, easy become undestructible.
ES (11:09):
Hmm. So
AJV (11:10):
Good. And she was like, that’s the number one thing. She goes, every, like, I encounter this with my clients, with my friends, with business partners. She goes, people are so distracted, right? And she goes, I don’t see shiny objects. I don’t, I don’t see squirrels. She goes, I am undestructible. And I asked her and I said awesome. How do you do that? Right? Mm-Hmm. . So it’s like, how do you do that? Because she also has two young children. I think she has a three-year-old and a four and a half year old. She’s got a three thriving business going through a book launch. She is being booked out to speak. Her husband is a, a surgeon, so it’s not like she’s not susceptible to distraction. And she goes, it’s easy. I filter all my decisions through the message that I feel called to share.
ES (11:56):
AJV (11:57):
And I’m like, that’s so good. And she’s, I’ll give you a quick example. And she goes, I am speaking at a healthcare conference this upcoming week. And she goes, personally, I don’t wanna do it. She goes, I don’t wanna be away from home. I don’t wanna travel to this particular location. I, these are not necessarily my target audience for additional revenue. It’s not the speaking engagement fee that I wish I was getting. And she goes, so a lot of people are going, why are you doing it? And she goes, because I’m undestructible and this is a part of my message, getting into the right hands that can to change the world. Hmm. She goes, I filter all of my decisions through what message do I feel called to share in this world. And anything that interferes with that gets a hard no, but anything that fits in that gets a quick yes. Yeah. Even if I don’t feel like doing it.
ES (12:44):
Yeah. Yeah.
AJV (12:45):
That’s, that was really good. Of like, people who are seeing breakthroughs realize it happens because they have removed shiny objects they have removed. And that was the other thing she said that I thought was so good. She goes, I don’t care what anyone else is doing.
ES (13:00):
Mm mm
AJV (13:01):
I don’t, I only care about what I’m doing. Mm. I don’t care what other people are doing. I know there’s other things I could be doing, but what I’m doing is working so I don’t care. And she was like, I’ve learned to not care what the industry says and what other people in my space say, I’m just focused on what I can do, what’s working for me. And I filter all my decisions through the message.
ES (13:24):
Hmm. You know, that’s so good. I, I love hearing stories like that from our clients that understand the, the one thing that they need to focus on. ’cause That truly is, I mean, it’s what we preach. It’s what we teach. It’s, it is what we know works. Right. And it, and it’s needing to be constantly reminded of that. You know, the human brain needs to hear something seven times for it to stick. This is no different. Like, we need to be reminding people that are running at a passion, a purpose, and a calling that they need to stay true to the path. And something else that I have realized in these calls with our members is that it is really hard work. Like it takes a lot from deep within you to stay the course. And I’ve thought about this a lot and, and it comes back to this missional mindset. And I’ve seen this very subtle nuance between people that are successful with the mindset and people that aren’t. And it’s the people that aren’t necessarily as successful as they want to be in their journey to building a personal brand or a business, really treat it like a job or an idea. Mm-Hmm. And a job and an idea you work for and you work at, right. That’s the mentality. But when you are truly viewing it as a mission or a vocation, you make it work.
AJV (14:41):
ES (14:42):
And I think that is a big difference, right? You are so called deeply to something that you believe in that purpose, you were just speaking to that you have to make it work. Like it is work and you make it happen. While the, this i this mindset of this is my job, this is the next step for me, it’s an idea I have. You just work at it. Right. You chip away at it and there’s a, there’s a difference there. And it makes a big difference long term in success.
AJV (15:13):
Mm. That’s so good. And I love that. ’cause You know, like one of the questions that I had kind of outlined earlier, which is why do some things feel like work and others don’t? And I think it’s all through the filtering of like, is this missional right? Mm-Hmm. And I love that like, concept of like, is what you’re doing missional or is it just the next step? Is it just another idea of, versus like, is this in your core, what you were put on this earth to do, and are you doing it right? And it’s like one of those things that’s like, you kind of have to get to the level of I can’t not do it. Like, I can’t not put this off anymore. It’s like, it’s just like coming out of me no matter what. And it, it made me think about, you know, so often when, when people come to Brain Builders Group even as, even as podcast listeners for everyone listening, it’s like, there is like this deep down like knowing or calling.
AJV (16:07):
It’s like, man, I, I just feel like I’m, I’m supposed to do something else. Hmm. I, I feel like I I’m called to share something or, or do something more. Or I just feel like there’s something in me that’s not being utilized. Mm-Hmm. Right? It’s like we hear that all the time, which is usually how people come across our path. It’s like, man, I just, I know I’m supposed to be doing something more, something else. And I think a lot of it stems from finding that missional thing of going, like, there is that inkling that calling somewhere within you. But let’s don’t be mistaken. It is work. It is work. It’s not gonna just magically happen because you, you followed your calling. It’s like, no, it’s work a lot. I love that. I think that’s so good. So, all right, so talking about the work, tell us what are these customer journeys that we’ve identified and how do they work?
ES (17:02):
Hmm. Yeah. I, so I’ll talk a little bit about customer journeys, but something really interesting leading up to this idea of, of why did we develop customer journeys? Why were they so important? And I just learned this recently, so it’s really relevant to the conversation today. And there have been studies that have shown that retention, which is what we developed customer journeys for, right? This idea of, we know the journey is a journey, right? It, it’s not a magic pill that you take, or you launched something once and you’re skyrocketed to success. Like anything that’s missional you’re working for Mm-Hmm. Right? You are, you are making it work on this trajectory, but retention actually dips when your culture is really strong, right? And so we have this strong culture at Brain Builders group of all of these members that are, are in it for the same reasons.
ES (17:50):
They’re scrappy. They’re, you know, they’re pulling theirselves up by their bootstraps with this purpose and this mission. So our culture’s strong. And I read this study that says, retention dips the stronger your culture gets if you don’t acclimate people to the mission. And I thought that was so interesting because that is really one of the main reasons we developed these customer journeys was saying, our culture’s really strong. We know people need to stick with us, with brand builders group with what we have created for people for the long haul. Like we believe in it that much. It’s not a get rich quick, it’s not come with us for a couple months and you’re set. We know it’s the long game. We believe in that so much. So when our culture’s that strong, we have to figure out some way to really align and acclimate people to what that looks like for them.
ES (18:37):
Like how are they implicated in that journey? Which is why we developed the customer journeys and we really built them based around what our customers were coming to us for. It’s really pretty simple. Like, not always easy, but very simple of what are the most of our, our clients, our members coming to us to build, right? What is that consistent through line? And so we developed really core four customer journeys. There’s one around authors because Brain Builders Group, we just get a lot of people that wanna put their message into the world in a written word. Like they just, they have this desire to write a book. Sometimes it’s their first, sometimes it’s their second or third. But they really wanna have the alignment. The next is speakers, right? We really work well with people that want to get their message into the world through voice, through the spoken word.
ES (19:27):
So those are kind of two of our really granular customer journeys of people really wanting to reach that elevated status of getting a book into as many hands as possible and getting on big stages to spread their, their word and their mission. And the other two are lead generation, right? And so this, what, what is that? It’s for mostly all of our professional services people, people that are in insurance, real estate. There’s a replicable model with lots of potential buyers, right? It’s how do you separate yourself in the market, right? We don’t build BA businesses based around what you do. We base a a brand around who you are. And that’s the differentiator. And I would say a lot of our clients fall into lead generation. ’cause Everyone needs leads no matter what you’re doing. If you own your business, if you’re working underneath a company at a high level, and then we have new revenue streams, right? This is for the person that comes into Brand Builders group saying, I have an idea and I wanna build it out for the first time. I’m gonna create a new business model, a new revenue stream that I wanna put into the world. So those are the four typical customer journeys we see our clients really align with and fall seamlessly into.
AJV (20:43):
No, I, you know, I think that’s one of the things that you said that’s so insightful is like categorically speaking, like this is roughly like the four main areas of what people come to us for. And as I sit and reflect over the last five years, you know, and, you know, as a part of like this joint venture and creating these, like, one of the things that I was really curious about, like to see in my own brain is well, why, like, why is it those types of people that gravitate towards brand builders group rather through social media or the podcast or as paying clients? And we have this saying at Brand Builders Group, which is, you are always most well positioned to serve the person you once were. I’m gonna pause, let that sink in for all of you listening, that you are always most well positioned to serve the person you once were or currently are.
AJV (21:41):
And as like it was, I don’t think it was coincidence. I don’t think it’s irony that the majority of the people that have found their way to us are actually who we are as people at Brand Builders Group, right? It’s like, we are speakers, we are authors, we are people who at the, at the core, every single person in our company if they know it or not, they are salespeople. Mm-Hmm. , right? It doesn’t matter what you’re doing. If you’re a strategist, you’re in customer care, you’re in member experience, you’re in operations like you’re a salesperson, right? You’re selling ideas, you’re selling employee retention, you’re selling services. But like that is lead generation. And then the new be the new revenue stream. It’s like, well that’s kind of like what we do every day, . It’s like there’s these, these little known fact we’re just like a bunch of little idea factories at Brand Builders group.
AJV (22:34):
We have to learn the discipline of saying no more often than not. But I think it’s like, it’s one of those things that it’s like, I bet if all of you who are listening just paused and said, if I take a really good hard look at the people that I’m serving in my current business, whether it was on purpose or on accident, I bet you would find some really common themes of characteristics of who you once were and who you are. Mm. And if you put a little bit more intentionality into actually going after those people, because you know them inherently because you are them I bet your work would be more enjoyable, more missional a little easier, probably even a little simpler. Mm-Hmm. . And I just think like, in addition to like, this is just naturally who our people wanted, I think there was some bit of reflection of their naturally coming because that is who we all are. And so we just naturally gravitate and understand the nuances, which kind of makes our job, again, simpler. Not always easier, but it makes it simpler.
ES (23:41):
Yeah, for sure. And I think anyone thinking through creating customer journeys for their own brand and business need to take that into account. You never wanna teach someone to do something you’ve never done yourself. I mean that is I think a recipe for disaster long term. Like, you know, we always wanna be learning at, always learning, but always exceeding who we’re teaching, right? In that area. And I think you brought up such a good point that we are naturally attracting these members because we have done what they want to do so exceptionally well.
AJV (24:16):
Now that we’ve talked about the journey, so there’s an author journey, a speaker journey a journey for generating new leads, lead generation, and then a journey for that person who wants to create a brand new revenue stream which is like starting a brand new business. But we really haven’t talked about what is a journey? Like what is this journey like, tell me where am I going? So tell us like what is a customer journey, at least through the lens of Brand builders group. Yes.
ES (24:45):
So in any type of membership and Brand Builders group is a very robust membership. So if you are a brand or a business that has something like this where you have members paying you for information application, you want them to leverage your membership, like you have spent time, effort, and energy creating courses, creating trainings, creating touchpoints in real life time workshops, there’s so many facets of your membership and what leads to retention utilization, right? We want people taking us up on what we have to offer. And I think what we realized was we have so many great things to offer that people were going, what do we do? Where do we start? Should we take this course or not? It’s all so good. And people were spreading themselves thin, even with our incredible content, you know, it was just so good. They wanted to consume it all.
ES (25:36):
And we had to really scale back and say a customer journey really increases, increases utilization in the specific areas of which these members want to grow, right? And so when you identify goals, say you say, I wanna be a paid keynote speaker and get my first paid gig in the next six months, nine months a year, great. That’s a great goal to have. Let’s reverse engineer it. If that is your long-term primary focus to be a paid keynote speaker, then you’re gonna be on the speaker journey. Like that’s a no-brainer. That is your long-term focus. So what does that mean? That means we are gonna create year by year, quarter by quarter exactly what you should be consuming, engaging with people. You should be meeting workshops you need to be attending and exactly what you need to be doing at those workshops to reach that goal.
ES (26:28):
Right? It’s this reverse engineering, but it’s super hyper-specific because we don’t want you in the first three months to go take a podcast course. It’s there, it’s fun, it kind of looks shiny. But do you need that to reach your overarching goal right now? Probably not. It’s going back to doing the right thing at the right time. And so we have created a three year journey for our clients to really look at a, this three years in full of what are the milestones I need to be reaching and attending and using in order to get to where I want to go. So it’s just a real big reverse engineering of a goal.
AJV (27:11):
Yeah, I know. I love that. And I think I think it would be helpful for people to go, ’cause I know that some people are going three years. What? Oh, God’s green Nerf, I’m not gonna be doing for three years. What? So I do think it’s worth talking about that, but also I think it’s worth talking about. It’s like, I think that people often, you know, they underestimate what can be done over the course of say, 10 years, but they severely overestimate what can be done in the course of one year. And I could even say people underestimate what can happen in a year, but they overestimate what can be accomplished in three months. Mm-Hmm. . And so why, why would you say that the quarter, like the 90 day sprints are important when you’re looking at focus, which is what this is, is we’re providing a benchmarked focus every 90 days. So why 90 days or why three years?
ES (28:10):
Yep. So I, when I explain and when I show the entire customer journey for each, you know, area of focus and I showed three years, I always, ’cause I know anyone looking at that goes and it’s mostly, I want that to happen faster. Like, why can’t this happen faster? ? And I think we live in a world where we want really quick wins and quick wins aren’t bad. They just have to be intentionally quick. Right? Like you can acquire a ton of quick wins and get nowhere. You really can. And so we live in this society though that says, do this in 20 days and you’re gonna have a million followers. And I think we understand and we value the long game, right? But when you look at three years, it’s actually so much shorter in retrospect than even what you took to build your personal brand or Rory.
ES (28:58):
And, and it’s again, learning from people who have been there and done that, right? Rory has, and you have built these personal brands and it has taken decades. Decades, right? To break through what we call she hands wall to get on the other side where people are approaching you and, and grabbing from you and wanting to hire you and pay you the highest fees that they can. And we have really shortened that learning curve. I mean, if you look at 10 years or 15 down to three, it’s incredible. But we also tell people, and I’m really quick to do this. Look, you can go as fast as you can or as slow as you have to, which is something that Brand Builders Group teaches our clients. If you want to move faster and you have the capacity and you have a team behind you and you’ve got all of these things that are really aligning, you can potentially do this faster than three years.
ES (29:45):
However, if you’ve got a full-time job and all these different areas of focus, and this is just something on the side that you’re building long-term, you can take five years, you can take eight, really, like we are here to temper that for you. But the most important part in all of that timeline is staying hyper-focused in those 90 day sprints. A lot can be done in a quarter, like we think about quarters really naturally in the business world. And thinking through how can we take our big overarching goal and create subset goals within quarters that makes it digestible and makes it doable. And not only both of those things, it makes it done well. Mm. Which at the end of the day is what we really want for people because well equals longevity.
AJV (30:30):
Mm. I think that is so good. And I think that thing too that you just said, it’s like it also ensures that you do it well. Right? It’s like if you’re not going to do it, well, why are we doing it? Because this is missional work that is like, that’s what we’re here for. And you know, one of the things that I was just thinking to myself as you were talking is it’s like it took us the better part of 20 years to figure out how other people could do it in three we, we might be slower than others, but it took a long time to go. Why is it taking so long? Like, there’s gotta be a better way. There’s got to be a simpler way to learn these things and to figure out these things. And in addition to 20 years of doing it and trying to figure out the path at Brand Builders Group, it has been five years of fine tuning and streamlining to not only go, how do we do it in a more succinct fashion, but how do we ensure that the order is correct? Right. And I think that’s what you said. It’s like, you know, you can go faster, you can do multiple things, but why? Right. Because that’s not gonna ensure that you do it. Well, that’s back to shiny object syndrome. And I do think there is a, a, a giant lesson in patience in all of this, of going, sometimes it’s just not meant to be hurried.
ES (32:01):
AJV (32:01):
It’s just not meant to be rushed. Mm-Hmm. . And when you’re doing this level of internal work as well as external work, it needs to sit and it, it needs to settle and you have to have time to process it, not check a box and move on. And I do think there is a, an era and an aura of speed and urgency due to technology and AI and all the other things in life distractions. But I think there is a, an essence of slow down Mm-Hmm. slow down and it’s like slow down to speed up. And it’s like once you get that infrastructure in place, it’s amazing if you spend three years building the infrastructure, how quickly it can grow after three years. And it’s like we’ve seen the fruits of those labors and our clients and in, in our own company as you know. And I think that so many of us, we wanna hurry to the next thing that we forget. We’re learning so much in the process. So don’t rush the learning, don’t rush the process. Let the process be what the process is. ’cause You’re gonna come out on the, on the other end in a much better place. Better
ES (33:12):
End. Yeah.
AJV (33:13):
Yeah. I love that. Okay. So next question I have for you is, I think it, and this would just be like in your opinion, right? In your opinion, what, what do you think people need to know that are listening for them to go, okay, I may not be working with Brand Builders Group as a client, but I listen to the podcast, I’m absorbing free information. So as a non-client, how, how do I know what journey I’m on? Mm-Hmm. Like how would you say that anyone who is listening and ’cause I think a lot of people even in our own community have selected the wrong journey. So it happens even in a, a client relationship, but how do people determine, Hmm, what is the journey that I should be on to pursue this missional work that I feel called to?
ES (34:02):
Hmm. That’s a really good question. And I would echo the fact that yes, a lot of people really gravitate towards one particular journey. And I’ll share which one that is and why that reason is in my own opinion is a lot of people gravitate towards new revenue stream. And I think we look at those clients a majority. I mean, when you look at our number of clients that have said and declared a journey, it’s like declaring a major in college, right? When they’ve declared their journey, I think it’s about 50 50 if not, you know, 60 40. A lot of our clients are picking new revenue stream. And it’s so interesting to me because you, we talked about this earlier, a new revenue stream is like building a brand new business. And I don’t know if any of the listeners out there have ever built a business.
ES (34:48):
It is exceptionally hard. When you look at a three year journey and you’re building a brand new business, it’s gonna take longer than that. I can almost guarantee you there are so many things to think about. It’s a slower, you know, revenue stream that’s coming in. You have to have certain things in place to make that work in an efficient and effective way. But a lot of people think, well, I’m building a personal brand and so that means I’m starting a new revenue stream. And that is usually, typically not the case. And so what we often ask people to do is to step back and we an exercise we walk our members through called the Golden Grid. Even before that, like a revenue streams assessment. Like that’s kind of the first iteration of saying, what are all the things that you’re doing right now that are making money?
ES (35:36):
Could be making $10 a month, could be making a hundred thousand dollars a month. I don’t care. I want you to list them all out, right? And then I want you to tell me how much time you’re spending on all of these things. And then I want you to tell me how stressful they are on a scale of one to five. And then I want you to tell me how much future potential these things have on a scale of one to five. It seems so simple and it is, but looking at that document and saying, oh man, there are things on here that I’m doing that have no future potential and bring me excessive amounts of stress. It really helps you identify opportunities and things that you need to get rid of. And so once you’re starting to look at that, you might think to yourself, huh, like, I’m speaking a lot for free and I really love it and I’ve got like a really great opportunity to grow that piece of my business.
ES (36:23):
You know, I can create courses or I can, you know, start a podcast. I like to think of it as majoring in minoring, like I’m majoring in keynote speaking because it brings me a lot of joy. I don’t have to spend a ton of time on it. It could potentially bring me a lot of money in. And it’s not a high stress for me. Like the I’m already doing it. Like I should, I should continue to roll in that direction. Doesn’t mean I can’t create a course, doesn’t mean I can’t start a podcast. Those are just things that are not taking all of my time, effort, and energy. I don’t need to create something new. And same for lead generation. Like most people should focus on lead gen. They already are driving people to something naturally. I think 90% of our clients either are driving them to something that already exists, something they’ve built, or to their business that currently already exists. Why are we not pumping wind into our biggest billowing sail? Why is it always our natural inclination to hoist another sail up and hope that wind goes in that direction?
AJV (37:21):
So true. So true. Right?
ES (37:23):
Right. And so it’s just thinking through, like taking a big assessment of what we’re already doing, but knowing that things are already working for us. Like there is typically something already in the mix and how can we double down on that and build something then start something totally new from scratch. So I think it’s just this mindset thing and really identifying and taking inventory of, of and level setting of where we are.
AJV (37:48):
No, I think that’s really insightful. And you said something that I kind of wanna like come back to, which is people naturally associate building a personal brand with starting some sort of new revenue stream. And that’s not what a personal brand is. And I think people are associating a personal brand with a business model
ES (38:09):
That’s so good,
AJV (38:10):
Right? Mm-Hmm. and a personal brand is not a business, it’s not what you do, it’s not what makes you money. A personal brand is who you are. It, you know, it’s like, and that extends universally over all things you do. Not a thing you do. And I think that kind of comes back to like one of our core beliefs that brand builders group, which is if you’re asking do I need a personal brand, you’re asking the wrong question because you already have a personal brand, you just may not know it. Right? Mm-Hmm. It’s like we all have a personal brand. ’cause In our world that is just it’s the formalization, digitization and monetization of your reputation. Mm-Hmm. Right? But we all have a reputation. Some of us, like the one we have, some of us don’t even know the one we have , right?
AJV (38:59):
But it’s like we all have a reputation, right? If you just sit, she’s sitting there and ask yourself, what do people think of when they think of me? That’s your reputation. And that in is in the essence is also your public personal brand. The art of personal branding is putting intention behind it of going, I can influence this by what I talk about, my research, where I spend my time, what I, I post about what I do, where I put my money, how I organize my calendar. It’s like I actually can influence how others view me and what they associate with by where I choose to spend my time, energy, money and resources. Mm-Hmm. . Like, you get to do that. But that takes time, effort, energy, resources and attention, which is the art of personal branding. And I think that is where people get confused and they come and they go, okay, I’m ready to build my personal brand.
AJV (39:58):
I’m gonna launch X, Y, and Z. And it’s like, why? Why are you doing that? You don’t have to do that. You don’t actually need to do that. In fact, you should not do that. Instead, it’s like, we need to put fuel and ammunition behind what you already have. Right? Right. How do we help more people learn about what you’re doing? Now if you don’t have anything, well then of course that makes sense. But I think that is a great distinction that you made. It’s like people get caught up with, oh, I’m building my brand so I have to start something new. And that’s just not true.
ES (40:33):
It is not true. And I would say the other thing is that people in that same vein will often say, gosh, I need to put my personal brand on hold ’cause I really need to pay attention to my business. And that blows my mind all the time. I’m like, what do you mean? Like your personal brand is literally your business. Like you are driving people to your business. Because we know at the end of the day, people don’t do business with products, services, marketing companies. People do business with people, right? And so when people always say, gosh, I need to take time to really focus on my business. I’m like, what do you mean? Like, you are doing that right now and you’re doing it more successfully than most everyone around you by building a personal brand that builds trust. And so that, that is a big, like external facet of what you’re talking about. Now.
AJV (41:24):
Oh my gosh, you just reminded me of and I’ve heard this quote a hundred times, but Rory and I just did a weekend long goal planning session for the next 12 months of our life, and it got us thinking of like, how many people actually take two days of every year and plan what the next year’s gonna look like? And he reminded me of this quote that we heard when we were engaged and our, you know, marital counselors that we had leading up to our wedding said, I just want you to remember this and never forget it, is that most people spend more time planning their wedding than they do their marriage . And most people spend more time planning their annual vacation than they do their life. Hmm. So what you’re doing right now is putting intention into your marriage, and I would encourage that your marriage be more important that your and than your wedding and your life be more important than your vacation.
AJV (42:19):
And that stuck with us so clearly. And so ever since then, we’ve done these two days just me and him for a weekend of going, what do we want our family to look like? And what do we want our business to look like? And what do you know? What does my my faith walk look like? And mm-Hmm, as you were talking, it made me think it’s like there’s a great parallel to that with what you just said, is that people spend more time working on their business than they do on what I would call their reputation, which is with you for a lifetime.
AJV (42:50):
It’s with you for a lifetime. And it’s like, do we ever spend time potentially everyone listening on the wrong things? You know, like, do we I do. I know, I do. Sure. And I think it’s one of those things of going, it’s not an either or, it’s an and, but by working on yourself, you’re always working on your business. And by working on your dreams and your goals and finding something that fills your cup it impacts everyone around you. Positively. Generational change comes from I have found my purpose. I am living into my work. Right? My work has become my ministry, and it’s then it doesn’t feel like work anymore. Hmm. And so if you’re gonna working on my business, maybe the question should be, is that what I really should be working on? Right.
ES (43:38):
So good. Really good. I love that.
AJV (43:40):
All right, Elizabeth. If people are asking themselves a question of, okay, okay, well if I do have this personal brand , maybe I should, maybe I should do something about it. Where should people go to learn more about Brain Builders Group? And specifically it’s like, if, if you heard something that resonates today about, man, I do have a calling to speak on stages one day, or I’ll publisher book or, you know, I do wanna figure out how to more organically generate leads for my business based on who I am and who I wanna work with. Or maybe I, I am in this unique stage where it’s like, it’s it’s time to expand my revenue stream and add something. Where should people go to learn about? That’s
ES (44:17):
A great question. If you go to free brand call.com, you can put in a request for what we call a brand strategy call. These are complimentary, they’re about an hour long. And our strategist will really help identify these opportunities for you. They’ll learn a little bit about your goals and what you’re looking to do with a personal brand. They’ll answer some questions around that, and they will do it all through the lens of the customer journeys we talked about. So your customer journey conversation can start on one of these complimentary free brand calls with our team. So it’s free brand call.com.
AJV (44:54):
I love that. And if Elizabeth, if people wanna connect with you your awesome self, where should they go to connect with you?
ES (45:02):
Yes. Well, you can connect with me on LinkedIn, Elizabeth Stevens with a pH. I always have to differentiate that I’m married into a name, which is so easy, but I have to, I have to tell people how it’s spelled. Or you can follow me on Instagram. It’s at EAS 2 8 8 3. You’re gonna see a lot of my, my work life and my home life and all of the fun things that happen there. But I would love for you to follow me both places.
AJV (45:27):
Elizabeth, thank you so much for joining in as today. And for those of you who dunno, Elizabeth actually was a part of our team prior to starting Build Brand Builders group. She’s been a part of the founding team and an integral part of every single move, pivot, shake up, shake down that we’ve had since we launched this. And we’re so honored that you are the face of our community. We love you. We’re so grateful for you. Thank you for being on today. And for everyone else, stay tuned for the recap episode, which will be coming up next. We’ll see you next time

Ep 451: 5 Keys to Using Customer Experience as a Differentiator | Will Guidara Episode Recap

RV (00:03):
Well, I have done hundreds of podcast interviews over the years, and without a doubt, this is one of my all time favorite podcast interviews. Maybe, maybe my number one all time favorite was this interview I did with Will Guidara on his book and the concept of Unreasonable Hospitality. I love it so much. I agree with it. I believe in it. I underscore it. I, I I, I would add exclamation points to everything he said and say, this is what we want to be. This is what I want to be a student of. This is not only how I want people to think of Brand Builders Group when they do business with us and they talk about us. This is what I want people to think about us as people. And so we’re gonna talk about, I’m gonna share with you here in my, my own little recap of five keys to using customer experience as a differentiator and as a competitive advantage.
RV (01:05):
So this is important, right? Because if you, if you go back, go listen to this interview. If, I mean, if there’s one that you go back and listen to, go back and listen to this interview with Will, it is so good. But if you, if you go, okay, what do we do at Brand Builders Group? Part of what we do is we help people find their uniqueness so that they can exploit it in the service of others, right? That’s a huge part of what we do. That’s based on a quote that I learned from a gentleman named Larry Wingett. Well, finding your uniqueness, one of the benefits of that, one of the byproducts of it is that you separate yourself from all the other people who do something similar to what you do. And here, this, this story Will’s story and his content and his expertise is so relevant because he’s talking about what we typically teach in terms of how to differentiate yourself from the market is basically through your content and through your delivery and through your own stories.
RV (02:06):
But what he’s talking about is separating yourself from everyone through customer experience, meaning by changing the way that your customers interact with you, and more specifically the way that you interact with them, you can make them feel a certain way. And by doing that, that is going to separate you from everybody else that they could refer or do business with, or, you know, come back and, and be a repeat customer of. And so here’s five keys to doing this, and these mostly come directly from Will. So the first thing that he said that really hit me as I went back and reviewed this interview was again, if you, if you haven’t listened to it, go listen to it. But he was the co-owner of 11 Madison Park. So this is this very high end restaurant in New York, but he wanted to be the best restaurant in the world. And what he said was,
RV (02:58):
I decided that we weren’t going to compete by trying to be the best product in the world, meaning we weren’t gonna try to have the best food in the world necessarily. They knew they needed to have world-class food, but he picked a different area of the business customer experience. And he said, I wanted to compete on experience. The way that Will said it was, he didn’t wanna be unreasonable in the product, but he wanted to be unreasonable in how they treated people. And he defined it as unreasonable hospitality is targeting and zeroing in on the human desire for people to feel seen, cared for, and welcome. What a brilliant observation and what an intelligent insight to go. You can compete not only on, on what you do, but how you do it. That’s what customer experience is all about. It’s not just what you do.
RV (04:01):
It’s one thing to be innovative in what you do, which is its own separate conversation and also worth aspiring to. But there’s this whole other conversation, which I think is so often ignored, which is how you do it, how you do what you do, not just the expertise in, in the case of personal brands. This isn’t just about you becoming well known. And it’s not just about you producing insights that are better or more powerful or more poignant, or more sharp or more clear or more actionable than the other people who are in your space. It’s about your customers being made to feel a certain way as they encounter you, as they interact with you, as they exchange commerce with you, as they engage with your, your content or your events, or your products or your services. How do you make your customers feel? And that, to me is amazing to go.
RV (04:58):
I mean, there’s perhaps no more commoditized you know, space in the world than restaurants, right? People who serve food. There’s lots and lots of competition people who do that. So to be the number one restaurant in the world by choosing to not compete on the food now, now, amazing food was like the price of admission, right? So that had to be there. But to find this other point I thought was, was extremely, extremely powerful from a tactical standpoint. So that’s point number one, right? Is, is to be exceptional at making people feel seen, cared, and welcome. That’s how you, that’s the first key to using customer experience as a different, as a differentiator, be exceptional at making people feel seen, cared for. And welcome. Number two is to isolate all of the customer touchpoints, to audit all of your customer touchpoint.
RV (05:55):
So this is the tactical component of how to do this is go through you, your team and audit, and we’re gonna have our team do this at Brand Builders Group like this for us. This is where we’re at. This is perfect for where we’re at is going, how do we get to the next level, right? So part of it is being brilliant at the basics, mastering the fundamentals. Those have to be in place. Once you have those things, you go, okay, how do we go next level? This is, it is go, we need to audit. We need to, meaning, we need to think about, we need to document, we need to transcribe every touchpoint our customers have with us. And this isn’t that. You could do this in your marketing as well, but what I took from this interview from Will specifically is it’s actually once they become a customer, too often personal brands are overly consumed and worried about just getting new customers, attracting new customers, growing their reach, they’re following, signing up new people, and then they work so hard to bring this person in.
RV (06:51):
They make the sale, and then it’s like they basically forget about ’em. And it, they just kinda like, you know, the, it’s just fumes when it comes to delivering to their customers. And so they’re always having to constantly chase new customers and new business because they do such a crappy job of taking care of their past customers and their existing customers. And instead of over-delivering with their existing customers and letting their customers become their sales force to bring them new customers, they’re just focused on new business, then they, they make the sale and they kind of like deliver C minus work with their existing customers. And so they have to do the hard work of finding new customers versus letting their past customers become their sales force. Well, so how do you do that? You have to audit every touchpoint that you have with your past customers.
RV (07:39):
And the way that Will said it was, he said, you want to isolate them and then elevate them. Meaning, okay, let’s look at the list of every single interaction, communication touchpoint we have with a customer, and let’s figure out some of the ones that are, you know, routinely mundane and add creativity to them. So this is really a two-part process, right? It’s audit the steps, and then it is figure out how do we, how do you add creativity to certain ones? And you maybe can’t do all of them, but maybe you can do one or two or three. But to go, where can we take the routine, boring, monotonous experience that customers are used to having in their onboarding or in receiving their, you know, their invoice or in their welcome or, or maybe in their cancellation, or maybe it, it’s in their, their their you know, the first email they get or whatever, whatever it is, and going, how can we add creativity to this moment to make this moment magical? Creativity is what makes the moment magical. And thoughtfulness is what makes this magical. So that is
RV (08:55):
The second key to using customer experience as a differentiate differentiator, is to audit each touchpoint you have with your customers and add creativity where you can. Number three is to be audacious in your ambition, but patient in your pursuit. I loved that quote right from Will Gera in our interview together. And by the way, if you can’t tell, like, I’m so convicted on this, we are, we are sending this interview out to our entire, all of our employees at Brand Builders Group, right? We have dozens employees. This will be a mandatory listen for employees. They will be required to carve time out of their daily work schedule to listen to this interview as a condition of their employment here, because this is a place where we can do a better job. And what Will says is to be add audacious in your ambition, which is to basically, you know, set a high bar, but be patient in your pursuit.
RV (09:56):
And I think that is a key, a key here is to go, okay, I wanna have high goals and I wanna reach for, you know, something that feels maybe impossible or something that’s gonna stretch us, something that’s gonna push us, push us to our limits, and yet I’m gonna allow myself the grace of getting there slowly. I’m gonna, I’m gonna, I’m gonna focus more on consistency than intensity. That’s one of my mantras from Take the Stairs, that consistency is greater than intensity. And so he’s just applying that same principle to the idea of customer experience to go, okay, one day we wanna be 11 Madison Park, right? Like, one day we wanna be Nordstrom, one day we wanna be, you know, whoever pick your, pick your, your brand that has incredible customer experience right? Now, we might not be able to get there, but let’s choose one touch point with our customers where we can really, really exceed their expectations, where we can surprise them, where we can knock their socks off, right?
RV (10:55):
Where we can really blow it outta the water by simply over-delivering in a very unexpected way on something that is normally trivial and mundane. So be audacious in your ambition, but be patient in your pursuit. Be slow and, and forgiving if it takes time to achieve this, right? You don’t do this overnight. It takes years and, and, and to transform your culture, right? Whether it’s your own personal mentality of service and hospitality, or if it’s, especially if you have a small team or a big team or a huge company, right? It’s gonna take time to transform the culture. And, and, and so you can’t do this overnight. You have to be patient in your pursuit. So I love that. The fourth thing is another principle that I believe in and share a value here with Will. Now, the way that Will said it is one size fits one, one size fits one rather than one size fits all.
RV (11:58):
So this is a key. This is, this is the next key. This is the fourth key to using customer experience as a differentiator. One size fits one. What does he mean by that? He means do something for your customer that is unique to them. Go out of your way to do something for them that is so hyper customized that they know it was only for them. It had to be just for them. It, it’s not something that you can standardize. Although you could maybe standardize the practice. It’s, it’s got to be something specific to them. And I’ll give you an example of this is a place where our team did a great job of this one of our early clients, that Brand Builders group was a gentleman named Kiir Weer, and Kiir was a client of ours for a couple years.
RV (12:47):
And we love Kiir and we, we, we loved working with him. And, and his story was, you know, he has this amazing story a heartbreaking in some ways that, you know, he had a boating accident, he was driving and he went to prison after one of his friends died in a boating accident when, when he was driving. And so when he got out of prison, he couldn’t get a job and he couldn’t get into any you know, like graduate schools. And so then you know, it goes on and years later, he becomes very, very successful and very wealthy. And he got into the graduate school of his dreams, and then he happened to graduate while he was a brand builders group client. And that was a big dream for him that he had sent many years in advance.
RV (13:33):
And our team noticed that. And we sent him a sweatshirt from that university, right? And it was just a special moment for him. He was super grateful because what, because why? He felt seen, he felt heard, he felt cared about. He felt like more than a customer, because he is that he, he he is that to us. He, he’s someone that we, he was one of our very first customers, right? Brand builder. He was one of the very first people who ever took a chance on brand builders group. And so he meant means a lot to us, meant a lot to us. And so we took a, a moment and some budget and some time to pay attention, notice this opportunity, and then to invest those dollars, a few dollars to do something for one of our original clients to make them feel special. That was transformational. We can’t operationalize that for everybody. Not all of our clients are, you know, have that story. Not all of them are graduating, you know, from, from the college of their dreams or the University of their dreams while they’re an active client of ours. So we can’t just operationalize that. And, and that’s the point, right? That’s the point that Will is making, is that one size fits one. The way that that we say it around here is the more specific,
RV (14:50):
The more terrific. If you wanna fe make somebody feel cared about, the more specific, the more terrific. It’s gotta be specific to their circumstance, specific to their timing, specific to, to their unique tastes and preferences. It’s not wrong to send everyone a gift on Christmas. But what’s more powerful is, like in this example of Keir or in the Dirty Water dog , you, you’ve gotta listen to Will Guerra’s dirty water dog story in the, in the interview, right? That dirty water dog story is a perfect example. I, if he served a, a hotdog, a New York City Street hotdog to every one of his customers, it would be a waste of time and it wouldn’t be impactful. But in, in that moment to that one person, it was so powerful, even though it literally cost like $2, it was so powerful. So the more specific, the more terrific one size fits one.
RV (15:46):
John de Julius is another past interview that we had here on this show. And, and he has a, his, his concept here is called Secret Service, and he’s been someone that’s been transformational in our career. Go, that’s another interview you should go back and listen to on this same topic, but the more specific, the more terrific Do something unique to that person is gonna be more powerful than doing the same thing for everybody at the same time. Really, really powerful. But the last thing, okay, so the fifth key to using customer experience as a differentiator is my favorite thing that Will said in the entire interview. And this was about creating an unreasonable hospitality culture. And he said this about his team. He said, our goal wasn’t just to inspire our people to be better at their job. Our goal was to inspire our people to be better human beings.
RV (16:50):
Our goal wasn’t just to inspire our people to be better at their job. Our goal was to inspire our people to be better human beings. Meaning to be better at seeing others, caring for others, making others feel welcome. That’s what hospitality is about. That requires you to be a better human. It requires you to be less self-centered and more service centered, less focused on you, and more, more focused on them. In order to have this moment of unreasonable hospitality, and, and in order to create this magical moment, you first have to be outside of yourself enough to be paying attention and listening. Not not just hearing what they’re saying, but listening for an opportunity to go there it is. Here is a, in this little moment, this, this little opportunity that has shown up that I can go a little bit out my way to make this person feel so special.
RV (17:47):
That’s what Unreasonable Hospitality is all about. And you can do that with a small budget. You can do that with a small team. You can do it with a, with a big budget and a big team. You, you know, will, I asked him that question and he said, well, you know, just the level of hospitality should probably match in some way the size of the bill. Right? And otherwise it’s not gonna be totally sustainable, but go over the top to do it. It’s not the price of the gift that matters, it’s the level of thoughtfulness. It’s the level of customization. It’s the hyper-specific nature of what you’re doing. That’s what makes people feel special. And this is how you do amazing customer experience. This is how you do amazing employee experience. And as a, as a husband and a family man, I can tell you guys, listen up.
RV (18:40):
This is, this is what, this is something I think a AJ does. An amazing job of this for me and for our boys, is she does things like that to make us feel special all the time. Men, we probably need to work a little harder at doing that for our kids and for our spouses, right? And, and for our, you know, the people who are important to us in our life is recognize these moments, these opportunities to do something magical for somebody else. It’s, it’s really, really transformational for them. So that’s what Unreasonable Hospitality is all about. Those are five keys to using customer experience as a different, a differentiator. Be excellent at making people feel seen, cared for, and welcome. Audit the touch points, and then add cre, add creativity. Be audacious in your ambition, but pa patient in your pursuit. Remember the more specific, the more terrific and inspire your people, not just to be better at their job, but to be better at being human beings. I loved it. I’m so inspired. Get the book on Reasonable hospitality. Go listen to the interview, share this recap. Share the interview with somebody who you know, who will appreciate it, and show some love to Will Guera online. If you get a chance, let him know that you heard him right here on the Influential Personal Brand Podcast. We’ll catch you next time.

Ep 450: Unreasonable Hospitality with Will Guidara

RV (00:01):
Well, I’m honored to introduce you to someone who I love to hate because I am so jealous of this man and so inspired by him. Will Guera is the author of a book called Unreasonable Hospitality, which is an incredible book, and it’s doing something that we all aspire to do, which is to sell thousands and thousands of units every single week without knowing how , and whenever I ask, whenever I ask an author, I go, how are you selling books week in and week out? The one answer I hate to hear is, I don’t know. I have no idea. and will, will came to this private bestselling author meetup that Donald Miller and I and a couple other buddies hosted this summer. And when the Will’s name got thrown out about being invited to this, I was like, absolutely. ’cause I’ve been tracking this book Unreasonable Hospitality for years over, you know, a couple years now.
RV (01:02):
But before he was an author, will was the co-owner of 11 Madison Park. And if you are a foodie, you know exactly what I’m talking about. So this is a restaurant one of was actually named in 2017, number one on the list of the world’s 50 best restaurants. It earned three Michelin stars while it was under, his leadership had four stars from the New York Times. And that was why Will was, you know, handling and managing the hospitality there. The co-owner of that restaurant. So not an easy place to get a reservation at, from what I understand. I had to research it. I’m not even hoity-toity enough to have been invited to this restaurant or even know about it. So that shows you like the, the level of people that get in there. But he also hosts a conference called the Welcome Conference, which is also something that just has so much street cred.
RV (01:57):
It’s so much legit, like so many legit people I know talk about this conference. So it’s an, it’s an annual hospitality symposium. It brings together, you know, just amazing people from all different kind of walks of life who are interested in hospitality to sort of share ideas and, and, and best practices. But will also is a graduate of the Hospitality School at Cornell University. He has co-authored four cookbooks, was named one of Crane’s Business 40 under 40. He’s the recipient of the Wall Street Journal magazine’s Innovator Award. And turns out, even though I don’t like him, it turns out he’s hard to not, like he’s an amazing guy. We’ve gotten to know each other a little bit. And my team, here’s the other thing, true story. My team was talking about this book before I ever met Will, and that’s how I know an author is really making dent a dent in the world. So, bro, welcome to the show, man. It’s so great to have you .
WG (02:55):
Well, I, I just wanna say that while you may love to hate me, I just love to love you, my friend , and, and I’m happy that we met however many months ago that was. And you know, what, what I think is so cool is when, when a couple people gather together other people, and in that gathering, like with intention and creativity, create the connection or the conditions for connection, it’s pretty remarkable the relationships that can come out of it. I mean, we were together for, I don’t know, 36 hours total, including when everyone was sleeping. And, and the relationships that came outta that for me are, are nothing short of extraordinary because you guys were so good at leading with vulnerability which begot vulnerability in return. And, and I think it was a lot of people that were excited to be there, but invariably when new people show up in a room, their walls are up to some extent. And you all did such a good job of getting people to lower their guards quickly enough that real relationships could be built. And that’s the only time we’ve seen each other in person. We’ve seen each other on the screen a bunch of times since. But I, I feel much closer to you than the number of hours I’ve known you should normally merit. And so it’s a pleasure to be here. I’m excited to spend some time together.
RV (04:28):
Well, thanks brother. And I, and I feel that’s like, I mean, that’s kind of the, in many ways the message of your book, you know, unreasonable Hospitality is like you create these bonds so quickly with people. So just explain, start at the beginning. Explain what’s the premise of Unreasonable Hospitality? What is it? How did you come up with it? And like, before we get to how to apply it, just define it for me.
WG (04:56):
Yeah. So how it kind of came to pass was I was at that restaurant 11 medicine park, and in 2006 I got there and the restaurant was, was fine. It was a mediocre restaurant served delicious food, but it was not all that significant in its technique or its ingredients and all that. The service was very friendly, but not all that precise. But the dining room, man, anyone listening to this who has never seen a picture of the dining room at the Madison Park, you should look it up. It’s truly one of the most beautiful in the world. And so I was brought in as a part of a team that was charged with elevating the restaurant experience to live up to the room itself. And we initially did that, at least we started out doing that by focusing on excellence, right? I think anyone who’s ever sold anything, whether it’s a product or an experience, when you want to make it better, you focus relentlessly on the product itself, on how to make it as good as it can possibly be focused on training and sourcing and techniques and education and discipline and all that stuff.
WG (06:06):
Got fancier plates and silverware and glassware and, you know and it started working pretty quickly. I mean, listen, like anytime you’re trying to do anything of consequence, you need to be pretty audacious and your ambition, but patient in your pursuit. And we were, we were pushing hard over a number of years, but in the grand scheme of life, it wasn’t that long before we went from two stars in the New York Times to three Stars and then to four stars and zero Michelin stars to three Michelin stars. And both of those rating systems, those represent the most stars you can get. But there was this one list that we really wanted to be on, and just my nature, I’m a competitive person. I wanted to be at the top of which was the 50 best we set out to create one of the best restaurants in New York and then in America.
WG (06:55):
And once we had done that, I wanted to create one of the best restaurants, not only one of the best restaurant in the world. The thing about that list though, and even as you hear me say it, perhaps it sounds as ridiculous as it is, I mean, how can one restaurant be the best restaurant in the world, right? It’s too subjective, there’s too many restaurants. But that list acknowledges when you, when you reach that top spot, is you’ve become the restaurant that’s having the greatest impact on the re on the world of restaurants at any given time. And so in order to do that, I needed to figure out what our impact was gonna be. You know, I looked at the people that had topped the list before me. They were chefs, chefs who were unreasonable in pursuit of the food that were serving, relentless in pursuit of innovating the kind of techniques that would evolve the craft of cooking forward into the next generation.
WG (07:54):
But I’m not a chef. I’m a dining room guy. I’m the guy that likes to be out there throwing the party, welcoming people, making them feel at home. And I decided that if we were gonna become their number one, number one, it was not going to come by being unreasonable in pursuit of the product we were serving. It was going to come by making the choice to be unreasonable in pursuit of people and relentless in pursuit of the one thing that will never change, which is well, our human desire to feel seen, to feel cared for, to feel a sense of belonging, to feel welcome. And so that first year when we were put on that list, we came in last place, we were number 50. And that night on a cocktail napkin, I wrote, we will be number one one of the world.
WG (08:39):
And then I also wrote those two words, unreasonable hospitality. And that became my mission statement going forward. I mean, simply put, what does it mean? Listen, I believe if you’re trying to be extraordinary in your field, excellence is required. But at the end of the day, excellence is table stakes When you get to the top tier unreasonable hospitality means that you are making the choice to be just as focused, just as creative, just as relentless, just as intentional in pursuit of how you make people feel, as you very likely already are in pursuit of the thing you’re selling. That you don’t reserve your best efforts only for the thing, but for all the feelings and emotions that surround that thing.
RV (09:30):
So is it, and so at its essence, is it that, is it, if somebody feels special and somebody feels seen, then mission accomplished?
WG (09:46):
I mean, Yeah, basically, right? Like, listen, we’re in the midst of so many transitions just globally right now, whether it’s the digital transformation which is being supercharged by artificial intelligence, whether it’s the post covid hangover with either our collective remembering of our need for connection or our coming into this new reality where we’re either working remotely or in a hybrid world. I think now more than ever, people are craving human connection. And so yeah, if you can make the people around you, you, not just those you’re serving, but all those that you work alongside in order to serve those people, feel valued, feel seen, feel cared for, feel that genuine sense of belonging, if you can accomplish that, not by accident, not organically, but with intention, if you can give people memories, if you can make them feel a genuine part of what you’re doing and who you’re trying to become. And I know I’m speaking very philosophically, and we’ll impact this and get the weeds on it in a moment, but yes, a hundred percent mission accomplished.
RV (11:13):
Yes, it’s ironic. I mean, you, you even see like the explosion of social media over the years, and it’s like, what is that? More than people just wanting to be seen, recognized, valued, appreciated for who they are, what they know, what they could do in the world. So yeah, I wanted, I wanna know how to apply it, right? And so I, I told you a lot, most of the people listening are small business owners, but in this one we’re gonna be, I’m gonna be super selfish and I want you to consult Brand Builders group because you know, we’re, we’re starting to scale. We’re gonna hit right around eight figures this year. It’s our fifth year in business. We got about 40 people on our team. And you know, so we’re, so we’re growing and we’ve been, we’ve been on the excellence journey, right?
RV (12:00):
I mean, really we’ve been on the survival journey. Like startup is like mm-hmm. You move from survival, and then we try to streamline and then we, you know, excellent. But like, where we really want to get to is making people feel special, right? Every person, the, the, the podcast listener, the person who reads a book, the person who subscribes to the blog, all the way down to the people who become customers and affiliates, and then ultimately team members. But if you’re a small business, and my guess is most of the people listening to this are even smaller than us, and you don’t have unlimited budgets and things like that. How do you do this tactically? And, and what I’m really curious about is how to operationalize it, right? Like the founder of the company can make people feel special a lot of times through their words, or they just have this passion, but like, how do you create a culture of it? How do you, how do you systematize it to where every person who walks in the dining room has this amazing experience that they all, they all feel that way? How do we create that in our small businesses?
WG (13:09):
So the first thing I did when I got home from those first awards and I had that cocktail nap napkin with the big ambitious goal and the strategy through which we were gonna achieve it, I sat down with my team at our daily premium meeting. If anyone out there has worked in a restaurant, you may know what premium is. That’s the 30 minute meeting. Most restaurants have together in a circle right before we unlock the doors and welcome people in for dinner. Most restaurants do that meeting, although many of them waste it by talking about something that’s so like, clearly could have been accomplished via an email, a new menu item, or a new glass of wine or whatever. I think that 30 minute meeting, a daily huddle within any organization is one of the most transformational things any company can do. And it’s an opportunity not to talk about the what, but about the why and the how.
WG (14:02):
It’s an opportunity for a leader to share moments of inspiration, invite the team to do so in return. It’s an opportunity not just to talk to your team about what they need to learn to be better at their jobs, but about all the things they can think about or learn from or be inspired by to be better human beings. I think that meeting is when the people you work with cease being a collection of individuals and come together as a trusting team. And only when everyone on the team like, you know, falls into that beautiful pocket, can you unleash their most fully realized collective creativity and capacity. And so I go deep into that because any single business out there that serves other people, if you don’t have some version of a daily huddle, I think you’re leaving so much opportunity on the table. Think of it like a daily locker room speech, like Al Pacino and any given Sunday, there’s a beautiful opportunity to fire pet, make sure.
RV (15:04):
Fight for that. You gotta fight for that in
WG (15:07):
. And so I got to together with the team and I said, Hey, we’re gonna be the number one restaurant in the world, and we’re gonna do it by focusing unreasonably on hospitality. And so the first thing we did is we started going through like the main touch points in the guest experience to try to figure out how to make each of them more awesome. How we were welcoming people at the door, how we were taking their order, how we were delivering the food, whatever. But then one day I had this, this moment where I kind of realized we were focusing only on the most obvious touch points and the guest experience, which were invariably the ones that are competitors were focusing on. What I’ve come to realize is most people in the service industry don’t understand every touchpoint in the experience because they’ve never paused for long enough to interrogate it.
WG (16:01):
And so what we did is we closed the restaurant for lunch one day, brought every single person on the team in. By the way, I think brainstorming as a group is always a beautiful opportunity to balance the gap between information and authority if you engage every single person on the team. And we did an exercise that I now call interrogating the guest experience, where for four hours this team broken up into a bunch of groups, tried to identify every little touch point everything from picking up the phone to call and make the reservation, to walking through the door to going to the bar to have a drink. If your table wasn’t ready to getting up and using the restroom in the middle of the dinner, you get the gist, every little touch point. And then once we’d isolated every single one of ’em, then we got to do the fun part.
WG (16:53):
We got to figure out how to make every single one of them, or at least as many of them as humanly possible, a little more awesome. What I came to realize is the smallest enhancements, the least likely touch points in the guest journey can have the greatest possible impact. Because if you focus on creativity into a part of the experience that no one else has ever paused for long enough to consider the impact can be significant. I’ll give you an example, A story I tell in the book. The check was close to the end of the list, right? That is a touchpoint when you’re serving someone the moment you drop the bill on their table. And yet it’s one that very few people have ever invested any creativity into, right? A because it’s transactional, and we generally tend to believe that if something feels transactional, it can’t feel hospitable.
WG (17:45):
But b, because it’s just a hard moment to get right at a restaurant when you ask for the check. If it takes us too long to get it to you, people get really impatient when they’re ready to leave. We can undo all the goodwill that we’ve built. We can’t drop the check on your table before you’ve asked for it, otherwise you feel like we’re trying to rush you out. That’s also the moment at a fine dining restaurant where you realize how much that meal cost, which makes it a lot harder to appreciate how much you loved it moments earlier. Uhhuh ,
RV (18:12):
You open it and you go, okay, brace for impact. Oh God, brace for impact.
WG (18:17):
I mean to the point where no one’s really ever done anything creative with the check. I mean, you know, I actually read in John Lin’s book, another one of our buddies from that, from that day Giftology. Yeah. He talked about Cornell University did a study where they studied a bunch of restaurants that gave a mint with the check versus a bunch of restaurants that didn’t. Yeah. And the restaurants that gave out mints got on average 18% more in tips than those that didn’t. This beautiful display, that generosity begets generosity in an asymmetrical way. But anyway, we identified that touchpoint. So then as a group, we figured out how to make it more awesome. And this is what we came up with when I knew you were done. You didn’t ask for the check yet, but you were done. I went over to your table with a bottle of cognac and a glass for each purse, and I poured a splash of cognac into each glass.
WG (19:08):
Then I put the bottle on the table and said, Hey, this is what their compliments help yourself to as much as you’d like. And then I put the check down and said, and your check is right here. Whenever you’re ready for it, what do we do? Well, no one ever had to ask for the check again. No one could ever feel like we were trying to rush them out. We’d just given them an entire bottle of free booze. At the moment when they realized how much the meal cost, we’d matched that moment with a gesture of crazy generosity, which maintained the value proposition we were trying to offer. And at the end of a very long meal where we had been serving people immaculately, we gave them the gift of being able to serve one another, which is the very essence of hospitality. I’ve met so many people over the years who, in spite of the fact that we were serving some of the best food in the world, don’t remember a single thing they ate that night, but they remember the cognac and the way it made them feel. So the first answer to that question, and I have a few different answers, is look at the entire experience, interrogate it and find a couple of those really unlikely touchpoints and make them profoundly best in class. Because if you focus on something that no one else has, it gives you an unfair competitive advantage. By definition, you win because you’re doing something somewhere where no one else has done anything before.
WG (20:36):
Does that make sense? Uhhuh
RV (20:37):
, I love, I I I love that. I mean, even, even just the exercise of identifying every touchpoint in your entire customer experience is super enlightening. And you go, oh, when was the last time we updated that voicemail? Or when was the last time we updated that email responder? Does anyone even check that inbox? Like, does what, what does, what is the first message that somebody gets when they sign up for our program? What, what is, what happens when their credit card payment declines? Like even just identifying those is super
WG (21:12):
Well, yeah. And what you’re gonna find is you probably do a bunch of stuff really badly. You probably don’t do anything in a bunch of areas. Yeah. And you’re probably really proud of the way you do some things. I did this exercise with an automotive with an auto sales group. It’s like a group out in California that has a ton of dealerships. And when you’re interrogating all the touch points after about an hour, you think you’re done, I urge you to keep going for another two hours because it’s when you finish picking the low hanging fruit and you have to climb a little bit higher up in the tree, that’s when you find the real stuff that gives you the real opportunities with them. It was like a bunch of like big, you know, manly car dealers. About 45 minutes in, they were bored with the exercise and I kept on pushing ’em and they were annoyed with me.
WG (21:57):
But by the end, well, we realized that the first time you get a flat tire three months after you buy the car, maybe that’s a step, that’s a touch point in the journey. The first time you opened your glove compartment, maybe a week after you buy the car. That’s a touch point in the customer journey. Once you isolate those things, now you can elevate them. Like everyone talks about extending and experiences as far into the future as they possibly can. And so, and if a week later you reach into the gove compartment for the first time and you see a beautiful little note and just a nice, thoughtful, not overly expensive gift waiting there for you, the way that you’ll feel about the people that sold you, that car jumps so dramatically because their thoughtfulness and their care becomes so much more evident.
WG (22:50):
So, okay, that’s one. I think another practical which this came, I’m going to go chronologically way out of order, but for the cadence of the conversation is a similar exercise, but instead of interrogating the touch points in the customer journey, I call this one pattern recognition of recurring moments. So, okay if you and your team sit down and you say, okay, I don’t wanna think about the touchpoints, the things that happen as a part of the guest journey for everyone we serve, instead, I want to spend the next couple weeks identifying the five things that just happen often. So in a restaurant that could mean that oftentimes people are on their way to the airport right after their meal. It could mean that man, you know, like twice a week a party of four shows up as a party of three because one of the people’s spouses got sick and is at home in bed with, with the flu.
WG (24:01):
Or it could mean man, like once every week, someone is getting engaged here. Okay, now you’ve identified recurring moments. These are things that just happen often. Every single business has recurring moments. If you identify them in advance, then along with your team, you can determine how you’re gonna react to those moments and even develop the stuff you might need to make those reactions more awesome. In my world we had a graphic designer design and we had these beautiful boxes, made 11 Madison Park airplane food for every single person that was gonna the airport after their meal. We had this amazing thing packaged, prepared and ready to deploy easily for our team. So every time someone mentioned that, we hit them with this beautiful gesture of hospitality. We had an amazing chicken soup recipe ready on the dessert screen of our micross terminal. So when a server was entering desserts for a table that showed up one person short, ’cause they were homesick in bed, chicken soup ready to go.
WG (25:07):
So that person, even though they missed the meal, could still quote, eat at 11 Madison Park, or, man, my favorite one, I tell this story all the time because I just think it embodies the idea so well, is that a lot of people get engaged at a restaurant. Yeah. And if you go to a decent restaurant, you propose to your person and they say, yes, there, they better pour you a free glass to champagne like we did. But that’s just reasonable. Once he’d identified that as a recurring moment, we could figure out how to make it unreasonable. Tiffany and co had their offices across the park. I started knocking on doors until I found the chief marketing officer convinced her to give me 1000 of those baby blue boxes each with the two champagne flutes in them, put ’em in a closet in the back that we emptied out and called the Hospitality Toolkit closet, which is where we put all the stuff we needed for these gestures.
WG (26:02):
Next time someone got engaged, we poured in free champagne just like we always would have. But what they wouldn’t notice was that their champagne glasses looked a little different from everyone else’s. And when they were done with their champagne, we brought the glasses back, washed them, dry them, put them back in the box, and gave them to them on their way out the door. Again, I’ve met so many people who got engaged at our restaurant and years later don’t remember a single thing they ate, but they’ll never forget how we made them feel with those glasses. Maya Angelou has a quote. She says, people will forget what you say, they’ll forget what you do, but they’ll never forget how you made them feel. That is the essence of hospitality. And so the second piece of advice is to get together with your team people all the way at the bottom of the hierarchy, very much on the frontline, as well as all the way at the top of the hierarchy, not quite as close to the frontline. And come up with five, just five recurring moments and with creativity and intention and a little bit of investment. Figure out how to make your reactions to those moments fricking bonkers. Awesome. And watch what happens.
RV (27:13):
I mean, that’s so good. You used this term earlier, and I wanna come back to this. You said we’d match that moment with crazy generosity, which is like what you just described, right? I mean, leaving a bottle of cognac on the table for every single person, that’s a lot of dough. You added up now and you know, certainly Tiffany’s champagne glasses. Now if they donate ’em that sure, that sure helps. But like how crazy is the crazy generosity and how do you, how do you justify it and not be scared that like, I’m gonna go bankrupt, just like doing all this stuff.
WG (28:01):
Well, so it’s a good question. I mean, listen, the chicken soup, the impact of that was just as significant as anything else. And that cost us maybe a buck 50. I
RV (28:12):
Know that’s brilliant. Mm-Hmm,
WG (28:14):
The bottle of cognac actually didn’t cost us that much because at that point in the meal, people had had so much wine, they weren’t having more than the sip or two of cognac.
RV (28:21):
Yeah, that’s what I was thinking. They’re not gonna sit and chuck a whole bottle. They’re probably drunk already by the time he gets there.
WG (28:27):
I mean, like with most of these things, and yes, the Tiffany glasses were free, but I’d say a couple things. I mean, the story that I’m most known for because it was such a turning point, is the hotdog story, which I, I’ll, I’ll tell in a moment ’cause I think it helps answer the third way to deal with this all. And that’s one of the most impactful gestures and it cost two bucks. We’ve done a bunch of gestures of unreasonable hospitality for people that have been totally free. It’s not the cost of the gesture that counts, but the thoughtfulness. And obviously you need to look at your average check whatever your average bill size is, and tailor the moments of systemized hospitality accordingly. We are a very expensive restaurant. We could afford to put down a bottle of cognac. You look at five guys what do you think of when I, when I say five guys? Well
RV (29:22):
The burger, but I’ve never been there, but just the ,
WG (29:25):
You’ve never been to a five guys. I’ve
RV (29:26):
Never been to a five guys, but should
WG (29:28):
I go? Okay. So anyone listening who’s ever been to a five guys? I would say half of you just probably thought peanuts because five guys. Okay. You think about the customer journey interrogation is the only fast food place I’ve ever imagined that has the wherewithal to recognize that the time wait spent waiting for your burger to be cooked is a touchpoint in the guest journey. They’re the only ones that have ever done anything for you during that wait. And what do they do? They put out a big, big box of peanuts and it’s still in the shells. And you just help yourself to some and eat them while you wait. That doesn’t cost them anything. At the end of the day, it’s so inexpensive that because they gave you something during a part of the experience where no one else has ever given you anything, it gives them an unfair competitive advantage.
WG (30:15):
I’ll give you another example. I went to speak at the Sundance Film Festival this year, and like many travelers over the past year, I’ve been consistently plagued with flight delays. I ended up getting to my hotel the night before my talk at like two in the morning after delay, after delay and got outta the car in front of the hotel ready to go through the whole normal rigmarole, which feels like it’s gotten even more insane recently. Driver’s license, credit card, phone number, email. And this guy named Oscar was in there overnight manager. He said, Mr. Guera, welcome. You must be exhausted. Here’s your room key. Go get some sleep. We’ll check you in in the morning. Found the hotel GM the next day, said, Oscar deserves a raise. That was amazing. He goes, yes, Oscar is amazing. That had nothing to do with him.
WG (31:08):
We had a meeting a couple months ago. There had been so many delays. We just decided to try to figure out how to systemize a bit of hospitality. And anytime anyone checks in after 1230, we would just give ’em their room key to tell ’em they could check in in the morning cost zero. It just required a bit of thoughtfulness. They did some simple pattern recognition and decided to try to figure out how to be more warm, hospitable, gracious, and welcoming to people who are checking in really late at night. That’s a recurring moment. They identified it and then they figured out how to treat it more responsibly and more hospitably.
RV (31:46):
Yeah, I think, I think so much of this, it’s like the, the enemy of hospitality is almost just like speed and rhythm and convenience of just being in the motions and not, not stopping long enough to go, how can I, what could I, what could I do for this person in this, in this moment to make them feel special? ’cause We’re so busy just like cranking the machine, running the process, getting the people, getting the people through. So I love that. I love it so much. So yeah. So tell us, tell us the hotdog story. ’cause I wanna make sure that we, I wanna make sure that we hear the hotdog story before we let you go. So
WG (32:29):
My big breakthrough in all of this, and again, we’re, we’re chronologically all outta whack here ’cause I discovered some of these exercises later. But I was in the dining room helping out the servers on a busier than normal lunch service. So they were getting just crushed. And I went out there and was just busing tables. I think sometimes the best thing a leader can do to support their team is the most menial task. And so I love busing tables and I was clearing ta appetizers from a table of four foodies people who were on vacation to New York just to eat at great restaurants. And while I was at their table, I ever heard them talking about the restaurants that’d eaten at all the fanciest restaurants in New York. They had a blast and this was their last meal. They were gonna the airport to head home right after their lunch.
WG (33:19):
But in the midst of their conversation, a woman at the table jumped in and said, yeah, but you know what? We never had, we never had a hot dog from one of those street carts. And man, it was like one of those light bulb moments in a cartoon where, you know, the character has had a good idea how we ding like light bulb. Yeah, exactly. So, ran back into the kitchen, dropped off the plates, ran outside, got a hot dog, ran back inside, somehow convinced my fancy chef to serve it. And we cut the hot dog up into four perfect pieces, added a little s swish of ketchup, a little s swish of mustard and a canal of sauerkraut and relished to each plate. And before their final savory course, which at the time was a honey lavender glazed muscovy duck that had been dry age for two weeks, utilizing a technique that had taken us years to perfect.
WG (34:03):
I brought out what we in New York called a dirty water dog . And I explained it. I said, Hey, I just wanted to make sure you didn’t go home with any culinary regrets. And Rory, they freaked out. I mean, it was one of those breakthrough moments for me because I realized in spite of the fact that I’d served every fancy ingredient under the sun, I’d never seen anyone react to any of them like they did to that $2 hot dog. Athletes always go to the tapes and they’ve had a bad game to see what they did wrong, to see what they could have done better. But what they, what honestly none of us do often enough is go to the tapes and we’ve had a good game to see what we did well to make sure we keep on doing that thing. So I went to the tapes and the hotdog.
WG (34:47):
What it, what like, what happened so that that could happen? Well, the first, it just required me being present, not being so focused on what I needed to do next that I couldn’t fully focus on the thing and the people I was with. Then if I wasn’t present, I wouldn’t have heard the line about the hotdog. Two, listen, if you wanna be the best, you better take what you do seriously. And also we need to all stop taking ourselves so seriously. Way too often in customer service, we try to build these like beautifully articulated brands and then we let those brands stand in the way of us giving the people around us the things that will bring them the most joy when a hotdog in a four star restaurant is sacrilegious until you look at how it made them feel. And third, hospitality is about making people feel seen.
WG (35:38):
And if that’s the case, the best way to do it is not to treat them like a commodity, but a unique individual. I could have given them a fancy bottle of champagne. It would not have had the same impact as the hotdog because it would not have been specific to them. And unreasonable hospitality, one size fits one. Okay, the hotdog was the true north in those three things. We now had a roadmap. This is where it gets good. Now I turn to my team and gave them the permission and the resources to start doing this stuff themselves. We gave ’em a little budget, brought a person onto the team called the Dreamweaver, who is just there to help them bring their ideas to life and encouraged them to go out into the dining room and be present with their guests, not to take themselves too seriously and find one size fits, one gestures to deliver to their customers.
WG (36:30):
And with that, we were on fire. I mean, we did the craziest stuff. We sent people who were there with kids who were seeing snow for the first time to Central Park with sleds in the back of an Uber to go sledding. We turned our private dining room into a beach complete with 500 pounds of sand for a couple who was in our restaurant because their beach honeymoon got canceled. We bought people teddy bears for their kids ’cause they forgot to do it. We set up train sets on tables, all this stuff. All of which made the guests happy, all of which was amazing for our bottom line because yes, we did spend money on this stuff, although not all the gestures cost that much money. In fact, the one that started at all cost 50 cents a person. But every dollar we spent on Unreasonable hospitality had the point of John Bruin’s mint reference on that check and asymmetrical return.
WG (37:26):
Because the moment you give the people you’re serving stories like that, they want to go out and tell them over and over and over again. And suddenly you look up one day and you have the legions of ambassadors out there preaching your dharma. And it also made us happy. ’cause For the first time, the people in our team were no longer just serving plates of food that someone else had created. We were imbuing the experience with our own creativity. We felt agency, we felt empowerment. We are no longer salespeople. We were product designers. And I have yet to meet an individual who won’t give more of themselves to help something succeed than once they feel they have a genuine hand in determining what that thing is. So that is the third way to systemize this into your culture is one, tie space. Give your team, well, yeah, no, but give your team the permission and the resources to color outside of the lines. Empower them to do the things that are right. Allocate whatever budget you can afford. It doesn’t need to be that dramatic. In fact, sometimes smaller budgets lead
WG (38:34):
To, to more creativity. But you can systemize this stuff through touchpoints. You can systemize it through determining in advance how you’re gonna react to recurring moments. But the most powerful and profound and transformative way is to look at your team, choose to trust them that become more trustworthy, give them more responsibility, they’ll become more responsible, and make it zone defense. Get everyone in the game and let everyone have fun starting to play.
RV (39:07):
Man. So good. I know why your book sells a lot and it’s the, it’s the answer that I hate. It’s a really good book. . It’s, it’s it’s the, it’s the, the answer that is the hard, hardest to replicate. And man will I just, I I love this. I just love it so much, brother. And what a magical thing to be remembered for helping other people feel special versus trying to be remembered yourself. And I think that’s why people are so drawn to you. It’s such a magnetic and it’s such an unusual, it’s an abnormal trait that you carry to go in a world full of people who walk around going, look at me, look at me. You’re literally an ambassador walking around going, how can we help? Say, look at them, look at them. And I just, I think that’s magic about you, bro. And it’s, it’s lightning in a bottle and it’s fun to, it’s fun to be a part of,
WG (40:12):
Hey, lemme say one more thing. And by the way, I feel the same way about you. The amount of time you spend, I mean, you’re, I think it’s super important to identify the importance of your work and the nobility of it. The capacity you and your team have to impact others. You guys are literally working your butts off to help other people’s dreams come true. And if I’m on your team and there’s ever a day that just feeling grumpy or I woke up on the wrong side of the bed and I’m having a hard time bringing my most fully realized self to the table, that is what I’m tapping back into. There are a few things more powerful you can do with your time than unreasonably supporting other people’s dreams coming true. And I think that’s pretty powerful. But the one thing I wanna say, we talked about budgets and just for people who are still not convinced listening to this, who are like, yeah, I can’t afford to do this.
WG (41:13):
I wanna see two things. Well, if you can’t afford to do it, you’re probably the person that actually needs to start doing it because this does drive revenue and business and will put you in a position where you can afford to do more of it. So if that’s your first reaction, just check yourself a little bit because that’s not the attitude that’s gonna get you to the top. A like, there’s that old adage, it takes money to make money, I hate it, but you know what, there’s some truth in it. But the other thing is that most people already spend money on this stuff. And so as a starting point, just take the money you were already spending and spend it better. If you send out some nonsense Christmas gift to everyone in your list, and it includes some dumb water bottle with your company’s logo on it, or a hat or a shirt, take the same budget and just be more thoughtful, be more connective, be more human.
WG (42:08):
Be more unreasonable. Instead of spending three hours picking the right water bottle, spend an entire week picking a different gift, using the same budget for every single person on that list. Or if you don’t wanna go that far, pick out three gifts and then just categorize the people you’re sending the gifts to into three groups and give the proper gift to each group. You don’t need to jump into the deep end on this stuff, but I guarantee you, if you’re a little creative, you can find a way to wade into the shallow end and then see for yourself whether or not it works.
RV (42:45):
Yeah, I love it. Well, the book is called Unreasonable Hospitality. Clearly that’s what it’s about. It’s a, it’s a game changer. We’re, we’re in on this and this is something that we see as a, as a way to take ourselves up to the next level. Where do you want people to go? Will, if they want to connect up more with you and stay, stay tied into what you’re doing?
WG (43:10):
I’m on Instagram at w Guera. Most of our stuff [email protected], including our newsletter that you can sign up for there which is called Premium based on that meeting that I hold so near and dear. And then yeah, hopefully I’ll, I’ll see you at, at Rory’s place one day in the not too distant future.
RV (43:32):
I love it, bro. We wish you all the best.
WG (43:34):
Thanks brother.

Ep 441: Is this the Golden Age of Publishing | Allison Trowbridge Episode Recap

AJV (00:02):
All right, so I have a question for you. Are we in the golden age of publishing, like right now? Is this the golden age of publishing? And this is a question that came up in a recent conversation that I had with Ali Trowbridge of, if you think about it, we as authors or aspiring authors are in one of the most opportunistic times in history when it comes to getting your message out into the world. As few as 20 years ago, there was an absolute gate, right? There were gatekeepers that prevented authors from just publishing books and getting them out into the world. But with the emergence of self-publishing and hybrid publish publishing, almost anyone who really, really wants to can write and publish a book. And I said, almost. But if you can’t write your book, there are more mediums, more formats, more opportunities to get your message out into the world than ever before.
AJV (01:05):
You can be blogging. You can post blog like messages on medium. You can do LinkedIn. You can have, you know, micro posts happening on a social media. You could have your own YouTube channel. There’s free ways to do it, but then there’s ways that you can pay to get it out there with the self-publishing and hybrid publishing. That’s not to say traditional publishing is not an option. It is. But if you really think about it, this is the golden age of publishing. There are more opportunities, more ways to get your message into the hands of your audience than ever before you have more access to your readers or potential readers. We’ll just call ’em your audience than ever before. You can actually build relationships with the people who read your books. 20 years ago, that wasn’t a thing. You didn’t know who was reading your book, you didn’t know what they had to say about it per se.
AJV (01:58):
But now, on a, on a daily basis between podcast reviews and comments to blog comments to comments on social media, to Amazon reviews and Yelp reviews, it’s like you actually know what’s resonating. You know what people are thinking, and you can create a real relationship with your reader. That is amazing. And just the idea that there is not this, you know, ivory tower of publishing anymore that’s being broken down with the emergence of self-publishing and hybrid publishing. And so, as we think about this idea for the author and the aspiring author that we live in this opportunity ti this opportune time, this golden age of publishing, what does that mean for authors? And so here’s a couple of things that I wanted to share that I thought were really awesome takeaways from my conversation with my ally. Number one, you have to remember that if you’re an author, you are simultaneously an,
AJV (02:59):
A book is a product. And that means that it has to come with the same intention of what a business would do to sell a product and a service. As an author, you are creating a product, IEA business, which means that to do it well, right? There’s research and development, right? That’s your writing time. There’s the publishing time, right? That’s the production. But then you need a marketing plan. You need a sales plan, probably someone who is going to sell it and someone who is going to market it. There needs to be an operations component of like, how are we gonna get this distributed and fulfilled? How are we a finance person? Like, how are we gonna pay for all of this? How are we gonna collect money? How are we gonna pay money? Like, those are all entrepreneurial things that are required when you start a business, IE right?
AJV (03:53):
And publish a book. So as an author, you are simultaneously starting a small business with a product. That’s your book. That’s the first thing. Second thing is that, and knowing that, knowing that it’s not just you on your laptop and coffee shops writing words on pages, it’s so much more than that. You have to remember that writing a book is not a career move. It’s a calling. And it is not about the end result of having, you know, a giant business card or something that’s going to make you tons of money. It’s like, no, you have to go, I have to share this message.
AJV (04:34):
I have to get this out into the world. It is compelled from within me. It is a calling, it is a passion. This is not just something I’m doing to make money or to get a promotion or to raise my speaker fees. It’s like, no, I’m, I’m doing this because I have to. And that’s gonna make the rest of us a little bit more tolerable because there’s a lot of work. And writing the book is step one of a mini step process. Writing is just one small part of actually getting a book out into the world. And so you’ve got to love the process. You have to fall in love with all the parts of it. And mostly you can only love it if you know that it’s going to make a difference. It has the potential to make a difference. It can change a life, which means it could change the world. Those are things that you have to remember as you step into this. And if you’re not there yet, it’s just not time. And that’s okay. There is a time and a cadence for all things. But when you think about writing this book and launching this book, you need to think about also is do I have the time, energy, and resources to also build a business? Because a book is a business, right? Third thing, I think this is really important, and Allie talks a lot about this in
AJV (05:56):
Our, our podcast interview that’s called the ent the author entrepreneur podcast episode on the influential personal brand podcast. But how you get that book out into the world makes a difference. And she shares the three different ways you can publish a book today, self-publishing the hybrid publishing model, or a traditional publisher. And I love the way that she likened these to business. And she said, think about it like this. Self-Publishing is like bootstrapping. This is your self-funded startup. You’re bootstrapping and you’re scrappy. And it’s the entrepreneurial startup that’s self-funded. That’s how you need to think about self-publishing. Hybrid publishing is like going after an equity partner, right? You retain the ip, you have more creative rights, you make more money but you’re also paying for it, right? So like, somebody else is coming in to help with this, but you’re paying for it.
AJV (06:50):
So you’re putting together an equity partnership with this hybrid publisher, right? I love that example. And then a traditional publisher, publisher is like going after venture capital, which means you have to prove to them that you are a worthy investment because they’re taking a risk. They’re going one outta 10 of these, maybe one out of a hundred of these are actually going to make us any money. So you need to prove that not only is the content awesome, that’s a given. That’s the, you know, you know, that’s just required for entry, right? But they gotta know that you have the platform, the reach, the marketing, the sales, the operations, and the finance team behind it to pull this off. ’cause They’re looking at you going, is this a good investment? Which is why a book proposal is such a necessity. And I believe that a book proposal is helpful if it’s a self hybrid or a traditional publisher, because it, it’s the discipline of putting together your business plan for your book.
AJV (07:52):
And if you really want people to read your book, then you gotta have a sales marketing and distribution plan of how are people gonna hear about it and what’s gonna cause them to want to read it, right? What’s gonna make it a spread? Why would people recommend it? And that’s all marketing, positioning and sales. So I book proposals important in all three of those levels. But just thinking about self as the entrepreneurial, bootstrap, startup hybrid is you’re looking for an equity partner, and then a traditional publisher is a, a venture capital, right? I, I’ve loved those examples, and I think one of the things that came out of all of this conversation is that you just have to fall in love with the process of writing and the business part, right? This is something that you’re gonna have to learn. You figure it out, it’s trial and error.
AJV (08:40):
And that’s why it takes time. So give yourself some grace and patience in this. And as a part of loving the process, it’s a great reminder that those mountaintop moments are far and few between, right? Getting that book in your hand and that feeling when you’re like, it’s here, that’s somewhat fleeting a little bit, right? And if you’re gonna do all of this work and all of this preparation just for that moment to hold that book and go, it’s here that, that feeling’s gonna be pretty short, right? Because the next thing you’re gonna have to do is like the next step of the plan, and you gotta fall in love with the process. Not just those mountaintop moments of, oh, I wrote a book, or, oh, I hit this amount of revenue, or, oh, I did this thing, or, oh, I got this award. It’s like those are short, finite moments. And if you’re living for those moments, you’re missing the best parts of your life and the process and the journey. So you have to fall in love with the whole thing. If you wanna check out the entire conversation about this concept of the golden age of publishing and being an author, entrepreneur, head over to the influential Personal Brand podcast and check out my full interview with Allison Trowbridge. We’ll see you next time.

Ep 440: Be An Author Entrepreneur with Allison Trowbridge

AJV (00:03):
Hey everybody, and welcome to the Influential Personal Brand podcast. This is AJ Vaden here, and I’m so excited to introduce everyone to a new friend of mine, Allison Trowbridge, who also goes by Allie. Ubut if you’re gonna look her up online, you’re probably gonna find her by Allison. Now, before I do a formal introduction of Allison, I wanna make sure you guys know who this episode is for and why you wanna stick around. First and foremost, if you have a dream, a passion, a goal, or you’re even on the road to being an author, this is an episode that is curated for that person who wants to write a book and get it out into the world. So that’s who this is for. It is for the established, the aspiring, or the one day, maybe that might be a thing I wanna do. This is who this is for .
AJV (01:07):
You’re an author of any sort. This is an episode for you. Second, it’s for everyone who considers themselves an entrepreneur or a solopreneur, and they’re going, well, how does this personal brand thing and content and writing, like, how does this fit into my entrepreneurial journey? That is also something that we’re gonna talk about. And then third and definitely not last, we’re gonna talk about how authors are entrepreneurs. And I think that’s really important. Being an author is like starting a business, and so it needs to be treated like one. And we’re gonna talk about everything that it means to be an author and an entrepreneur in this world of marketing and personal branding. Now, let me introduce you to the one and the only Allison Trowbridge, .
AT (01:59):
Aj, I’m so thrilled to be here with you. Oh my gosh. I just have to say, I have to say, AJ and Rory are officially hands down my new favorite people, favorite people in Nashville, probably favorite people in the world. I adore the two of you, and I’m obsessed with your content. I, I met AJ and Rory recently, and I started just going down the rabbit hole on everything you guys do online. And I have learned and gained so much from everything that you, you share so generously. So thank you for being you and everything you do for authors.
AJV (02:35):
You know what I love connections like this because Allie and I were connected by a mutual friend. And you know, it’s kind of one of those things too, when you get a random email, even though it’s from someone that like know and trust Jason totally. It’s like, he’s like, oh, I have this friend. She’s moving to Nashville, y’all should meet. And I’m like, everyone’s moving to Nashville. There’s lots of people I should meet, but for whatever reason, I was like, why
AT (03:02):
This one
AJV (03:02):
? Yeah. But you know, it’s like one of those things. Sometimes it’s just like a God prompting of like, take the meeting woman, take the meeting, make the comment. Wow. And so when we met for coffee that first day, I didn’t tell you this, but I went home and Rory was like, so who is the coffee meeting with? And I’m like, oh, it’s a new friend. And he was like, well, who is it? And I’m like, actually, I think she could be like a really good friend. Oh, and then when Rory got to spend time with you, he goes, I really think I want you to be friends with Ally . Well,
AT (03:32):
The biggest the biggest thing is I, I just learned before we started recording that their son, Liam actually asked after me at church on Sunday. And so that for me, I’m like, I’m in
AJV (03:45):
. Got love all around. Well, I’m so excited to have this conversation and for everyone listening, I want you guys to get to know a little bit about Ali and her journey and why I invited her on the podcast. But I think there’s a few things that are really important for you guys to know, contextually speaking as we start this interview. Number one, Ali is an author. She has a book called 22. That was her first book. Honestly, one, this is a conversation coming from someone who has been through this journey. Number two, she’s an entrepreneur. She’s the CEO and founder of Copper Books. So even before you were an author, you have like this love and passion of books. Yes. And I love that there’s been like this intertwined journey between being an author and an entrepreneur from really the very beginning. Number three, she’s a podcast host. And so this is also a part of that journey. So y’all, y’all cannot just meet her here, but you can follow her online and check her out in all the different places. But then also she’s wicked smart. She has her MBA from Oxford, which is like, just puts you in a whole nother level of, oh,
AT (04:52):
It was just Harry Potter mode, .
AJV (04:55):
So there’s all these different things that really kind of led to like, why are you such a well positioned person to talk about this author entrepreneur concept? So let’s hear it from you. Like, tell us a little bit about your journey.
AT (05:10):
Oh my goodness. Well, aj I got started actually in the nonprofit world. So I spent my, I mean, I grew up with a deep love of books and I always had this dream of writing a book someday, but I got my start in my twenties working in nonprofits, working in anti-trafficking, anti-human trafficking. And when I was 22, I was graduating from college and I pulled in all-nighter with one of my best friends. And I said, there has never been a book, like there needs to be a book called 22 that speaks to all of these existential questions that we’re wrestling with right now. There needs to be, we need a mentor and it needs to exist, and I don’t see it anywhere. And so whatever I do career-wise, I’m going to write that book someday. And it was, gosh, it was seven or eight years later before I actually got a book deal on that idea, and it started to come to fruition.
AT (06:02):
But it’s so interesting because I’ve, I’ve heard you and Rory say a lot that you are, you are most equipped to serve the person that you once were. And so it was so interesting to be going through that season of life saying, I need guidance, I need direction. Someday I’m gonna come back and I’m gonna do that for someone else. So just one thing I wanna say. If you’re, whatever you’re in the midst of right now, maybe you’re like, I have no idea if I will ever write a book, but I’m like, I’m just in it and I’m wrestling with certain things right now. Pay attention to what that is. ’cause That may be directing you to where you’ll go back and help someone else someday. But that was really, that was really my origin story. So spent my twenties in human rights also as a partner in an impact investment fund.
AT (06:49):
So I was in the business world, and then I always knew in the back of my head that I was gonna write this book. It wasn’t a career move, it was just, it was almost a, a soul calling it that I felt like I had to, I had to follow through on this. And so went down the, the route of, I, I mean, first I built a, a really meaningful network of other authors and people doing similar things. And I just wanna call that out too because I think a, a lot of a lot of aspiring authors have the dream of publishing a book and they just get kind of stuck with it, and they kind of sit in a silo thinking about it. And I think becoming an author starts with becoming a good literary citizen and actually supporting other authors supporting the community of, of that was so strange.
AJV (08:36):
That was so weird. But I know the last thing you said was being a good author, so, okay, we’ll just pick up there. Okay. So it’s still recording. Okay, perfect.
AT (08:48):
Becoming an author really begins with becoming a good literary citizen. And so I, I really got my start in the book space by befriending and supporting other authors and championing them, making connections for them, supporting their book launches. And so I just wanted to call that out just to be thinking, if you have this dream of, of writing a book, how can you begin by supporting others who are further along in that dream knowing that someday down the road, that community will also rally around and support you. So fast forward am able to find an agent, put together a book proposal. I didn’t have any social platform. I wasn’t a well-known figure, but it was really based off of this, this concept that I knew there was a huge audience for and really identifying and communicating that effectively. Now, I made the ill advised ti life timing decision to publish that book while I was doing my MBA at the same time.
AT (09:58):
Which I, I would not advise. That was a very, very intense year of intense year of life. But going through, so I did the book with Harper Collins and, and going through the process of publishing while being in business school got me kind of wrestling with these ideas of why does it feel like a challenging time to be an author? This should be the best time in history to be an author. And so feeling those problems, feeling those pain points got me thinking about what I could do in the book world to help and serve other authors, which I did not ever intend to start a company. I was planning to go back into nonprofits and stay in my social justice work. So life throws you curve balls.
AJV (10:39):
Well, I love, well, I love too that all of this is kind of organic and following your calling, and I love what you said that it’s like more than a career move, writing a book is a calling. Yes. And I often feel like being an entrepreneur, entrepreneur should be like that too.
AT (10:58):
A hundred percent. It’s not worth it otherwise. It’s too hard.
AJV (11:02):
It’s not. But often I think people use this as, Hey, I’m gonna do this thing so one day I can get this thing, which is freedom of time, freedom of money, it’s whatever. But then you realize, oh, snap. Like this is all consuming. And if there’s not like that deep calling, it’s when we feel burned out, exhausted, spent tired, whatever is the word you wanna use. But you know, those are, those are the same. Those are synonymous. It doesn’t matter. It’s like whatever you do in life, it should be a calling, not just a career move. So I love that you called that out.
AT (11:42):
Yeah. And something else that AJ did my wifi.
AJV (11:49):
Yeah, you’re breaking up. All right. You’re back.
AT (12:10):
I have, I have no idea what’s going on. I think I, I, it says I have full bars on my wifi and it’s Google fiber, so maybe I’ll switch to my iPhone wifi just to,
AJV (12:23):
I mean, we can, whatever you think. I mean, we can just keep rolling with it if it
AT (12:26):
Okay. I’m sorry about that. That’s okay.
AJV (12:30):
AT (12:30):
It’s like a little trap door keeps dropping me out.
AJV (12:33):
AT (12:34):
Well, I heard the last thing you said. I, I can run with it.
AJV (12:37):
AT (12:38):
You know, aj what that, what that makes me think of, I actually, so right now at Copper, and we’ll fast forward to this, but, but we’re hosting an accelerator for aspiring authors, and we had my friend Donald Miller on earlier this week talking about his writing practice and, and the process of writing. And he said something that, that really, that really kind of shook me, which was about, he, he carves out certain, a certain set of time every single day to focus on writing whatever book he’s writing. I was asking him how he produces so much, and he said, you know, he is like, you’ve gotta love the process. And it’s funny because if I were to tell you, if you were to ask what is 22, about 22, the book, my book about, I would say the, the moral of the story is that the journey is the destination.
AT (13:30):
It’s about learning how to lean into and love the journey of our lives instead of thinking we’re gonna arrive at some point. And I think that that is such an important piece of wisdom to apply to authors, also to apply to entrepreneurs. I think the, the big temptation is to think that we’re doing these things for some end result. I wanna be an entrepreneur because I want the big payout when I sell my company someday, or I wanna be an author because I want the credibility of hitting some bestseller list. And you are really going to, to hate the entire process if you don’t fall in love with the journey. Fall in love with the actual creation and the writing. Fall in love with learning how to reach your reader, your, your audience, and identifying what their pain points are if you’re an entrepreneur, learning how to enjoy the building. So it was something that was a, a really important callback for me this week of, of just this reminder to, to love the process of these things that we feel called to create.
AJV (14:34):
Yeah. You know, it’s so funny, as soon as you were talking, it made me think about this quote, how, and I think I saw it on Instagram, but you know, you look around at everything you have today and you realize that many times you have today what you once dreamed of and what you have today is what drives you nuts. And it’s kind of like, man, the thing that we wanna dream of is now the thing that is crazy. And it’s like so true. I think we all need to be taken back sometimes to falling in love with the process and not this desire for an end destination. Because if it’s all about that one day, you’re gonna look around and be like, wait, what was this all for again?
AT (15:14):
Totally. Totally.
AJV (15:15):
It’s Hannah Montana. It’s all about
AT (15:18):
Time. Totally.
AJV (15:18):
It’s all about time.
AT (15:20):
Yes. And, and the thing that’s that’s funny is that if you want to continue on that journey, you’re gonna begin again and go through the process all over again. I know authors who not only have hit the New York Times bestseller list, they’ve been selected by Oprah as part of her, the Oprah’s book club, and they still are like, it feels like the first time every time. And I don’t know what I’m doing and I’m still learning. And so I, I think it’s the falling in love with that process because those mountaintop experiences are gonna be short-lived, and few and far between. But if you love the journey of getting there, if you love the hiking up the mountain, then you’re gonna, you’re gonna really enjoy your life a lot more, I think. Oh
AJV (16:02):
Yeah. So tell us about ’cause I know we’ve had conversations about this, but I, what I love is your take on being an author is being an entrepreneur. Yes. Yes. And it needs to be treated like that. This is a business, it requires a business plan, it requires that, and most people who are writing books, unless you’re a full-time author, likely don’t know that going in . And so tell us about that.
AT (16:26):
Yes. Well, I, I think a lot of the frustration around becoming an author starts starts with this point. So a lot of people will say to me, how do you write a book? How do you get published? Tell me how you get published. And they get frustrated because they think that there’s a silver bullet. Like, why isn’t everybody telling me how this actually works? And that’s like someone, an aspiring entrepreneur saying, how do you start a company? It’s, the answer is, there’s a lot to it. And it’s, it’s, you have to be able to give that full life commitment into the pro.
AJV (17:41):
AT (17:42):
I’m, I’m gonna switch to my phone wifi. This is ridiculous. And I’m gonna call Google Fiber after this. I’m sorry. I dunno. Okay. It says it’s paired. Can you hear me Okay?
AJV (18:12):
Can. All right. So the last thing you said is it’s a commitment.
AT (18:18):
Let’s see. I, I think I’ll go back to the beginning of the author, entrepreneur thing. Okay. how did you tee up the question, the idea of just
AJV (18:29):
The fact that most people don’t know that being an author is like starting a business
AT (18:35):
? Yes. Well, the, the, the thing is, I get so many authors who, or aspiring authors who come to me and they say, how do you publish a book? And the reality is that’s kind of like somebody saying, how do I build a company where it’s, there’s not a silver bullet, and I wish there was like, nobody is hiding the answer from you, because it is a multi-year, whole life commitment to bring this book into the world. But the good news is, is that it’s not, it’s not rocket science. Rocket science. And there are best practices and you can learn the process. It’s just gonna take time, commitment, energy, and attention. So I think about writing a book, like building a company, and the actual writing of the book is like developing a product. Gone are the days of Hemmingway where you sit in a cafe in Paris and ship the manuscript off to the publisher, and they just take it from there.
AT (19:33):
The author really needs to be the entrepreneur. So if you think about the book writing as being the product development, after you develop the product, then you need all the other parts of the business. So you’re gonna need marketing, you’re gonna need sales, you’re gonna need partnerships, business development, operations, finance to make this all happen. And I also think about when it, when it comes to choosing your publishing path, should you self-publish? Should you go with a traditional publisher? Should you go the hybrid route? I really think about that just like taking an equity partner. So if you work with a traditional publisher for your book, that’s like being a startup that’s taking venture capital. It’s not for everyone. It’s for a small percentage. And that, that finance partner is gonna give you money upfront, which is fabulous, and they’re gonna take a lot of ownership, and they’re going to expect a huge result.
AT (20:30):
And they’re, they’re investing and making these risky betts hoping that one outta 10 books that they invest in are gonna pay for all of the ones that they lose money on. So it’s understanding those economics. And if a traditional publisher isn’t jumping at your book, it doesn’t mean it’s not a great book or a great idea, or that you’re an amazing author, just means they’re looking for that like venture return, then it means that they’re not seeing that based on the market, based on your reach. And that’s okay. So, so traditional publisher is like having a venture investor. Self-Publishing is like bootstrapping where you’re, you have a startup and you’re like, I am going to learn to do all of the pieces of the puzzle, and I’m gonna do it myself. I’m gonna own the whole thing myself. I’m gonna figure it out. Or I’m going to hire for the pieces where I don’t have natural strengths.
AT (21:20):
I’m gonna hire brand builders group to help me with the book launch part and to understand the, the branding and marketing piece. So I’m, I’m gonna, I’m gonna get support in different areas. And then you have the, the hybrid publishing down the middle, which I kind of think of like having an equity partner. You get to own your intellectual property, you get a lot more control over the process. You still get the high-end professional results, but it’s a higher cost of capital. You’re putting more in on the front end. So I think shifting our thinking as, as authors and creatives realizing that if you just wanna write, there’s plenty of spaces to just write. There’s ck there’s, there’s blogging, there’s newsletters, there’s LinkedIn, there’s you can journal, there’s a lot of spaces to write, but if you wanna be an author and publish a book, you’re actually selling a product to a customer. And because you’re selling a product, the book, you’re gonna have to think about it in the same way that ACEO thinks around selling the product in a business.
AJV (22:31):
Oh my gosh. Every single person in the world needs to hear that . Like they do. It’s like, I, I love, I love that whole concept of traditional is venture capital, hybrid is equity partner and self is like bootstrapping, entrepreneur, startup. Right, right. I love so much because it’s so true. But regardless of how you look at it, like if you just go through those lens of things, it’s like imagine what it would be like if you were truly going after venture capital, what they would require of you Yes. What documentation they want, what planning you want, what forecast they want. Like y’all, that’s called a book proposal.
AT (23:12):
Yes. No, it is.
AJV (23:14):
You know, it’s like,
AT (23:16):
Yes. And, and I spent as much time, so I was able to get that traditional publisher, Harper Collins chose to work with me, but my book proposal took about as long as it took to actually write the book, which is crazy. But it’s because I had to show them that this is a worthy investment. Mm-Hmm. . Especially because I wasn’t a celebrity or a superstar that had a baked in audience that was gonna want anything I put into the world. So I had to show them how I was gonna hustle, and the people who were gonna hustle on behalf of me, and how I’d identified this audience that was gonna actually activate and purchase this product I was creating, that it was solving a pain point for them, and that they would exchange money in order to solve that pain point.
AJV (24:03):
I mean, that’s so important for everyone who is listening to realize of as you’re, you know, thinking and dreaming of one day, you know, I’m, I have all these books in my office, but it’s like holding up this book, and it’s like, that’s a product.
AT (24:18):
AJV (24:18):
And businesses produce products, and in order to make the product get into the hands of other human beings, there needs to be a sales pitch, a marketing plan, a distribution plan. And those things take human resource, human capital, capital and dollars. They take dollars. Yes. Yes. And it’s treating it like a business. So I would love to know from you, in this world today, as you think about this author, entrepreneur, what do you see? Because I think this is a great opportunity for you to also share like, what is Copper books and what does Copper Books do? Because you have so much access to authors aspiring and current, but what are they doing well, and what do you know they should be doing if they wanted to be doing better?
AT (25:11):
Yes. Well, my, my heart in this journey has always been for the author. I, I believe for one, that a book can change your life. Like, quite literally, can, can change your life. It can change the world. I, and, and it sounds like a cliche, but I really mean it. I I mentioned earlier that I began my career in anti-trafficking and human rights, that entire social movement, the reason why you as a listener know about that issue right now is because of books. There were a series of books published in the early mid two thousands on, on this issue, and it laid the groundwork for an entire social movement. So I get so passionate about the way that, that a book can move the needle, but then even more so, I think there is no more transformative or meaningful process for a human than to write their story and to write a book.
AT (26:05):
So, wherever you are, however many people you think may wanna read your book, I could not encourage you more to do it, because going through the process, it will transform you. It will be a before and after. It’s a meaning making journey. So I, I love the transformative process. I also think that this should be the golden age of publishing. It used to be that that publishing was an industry of gatekeepers, because it takes time and energy to determine what content can potentially sell. It takes a lot of time to read a book, right? And so the industry has operated off of gatekeepers and a small group of people being able to publish their work that has gotten blown open, blown, wide open over the last decade. It has never been easier to self-publish a book. It has never been easier to reach readers yourself to build an audience yourself.
AT (27:04):
20 years ago that wasn’t possible. Authors weren’t able to build their own audience. And so a lot of people get frustrated by the fact that they need to build a relationship with their reader. I think it’s the most liberating thing possible. You need to be more intentional. You need to, to really strategize it, you need to develop your personal brand and think about how you’re gonna outsource that trust so that people are coming to you to solve these problems that they have. And there’s consistency in all of that. But I think it is the most exciting time. If you have a dream of writing a book, now is the time to do it. Okay. So fast forward to, to Copper. So we built actually a tech platform. So, so you’re in the, in the iOS store, you can download the Copper Books app. We, we made it a place where authors and readers can connect and build community around books in a way that was centered around the author.
AT (28:00):
So with, we always say the author is the star of the show. If you are a, an author with a book, however you published it, self-publish, hybrid, traditional, you get verified. We link your book. There’s a all of this book data on the back end of it. And then readers can connect directly with the author of the books that they’re reading. We have a live events feature. If you’re a reader and you just love books, it’s a really great place for recommendations. You can track what you’re reading, create bookshelves, all of these things. So that’s the, the platform we created. And I actually did that with venture capital backing, which was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my entire life to, I think the number is about 2% of, of all venture funding goes to, to female founders. So, I mean, you wanna talk about a steep mountain to climb that was, was not the most enjoyable the entire way.
AT (28:50):
I’ve gotten a lot of rejections, pitching, pitching this company, but was, was able to build raise the capital, hire engineers, build the platform. Here’s what we learned, seeing all of our community and our users. I realized that the people who were leaning in the most, who needed the support, who needed, who needed the tools and the resources and education, was actually the aspiring author. And so I built this platform thinking it was a two-sided marketplace for authors and readers. What I discovered is that the aspiring author is the most underserved group. And so I say all that in that we have shifted the entire focus of the company into how do we serve the aspiring author? How do we serve the person who is getting woken up in the middle of the night because they have this dream, this calling in them, this idea that they wanna put on into the world and they don’t know where or how to begin with it.
AJV (29:53):
Mm. I love that. I love that you said that too. They get woken up in the night with this at least once a week. I will wake up around four or 5:00 AM like looking for Rory, looking for my husband on the other side of the bed, and he’s missing. And then I’ll usually like go back to sleep. ’cause I know where he is, . And then he’ll come in at like six 30 when I’m getting up and he goes, I’ve been bursting. I just couldn’t sleep. I’m bursting with ideas. , he’s like, he bursts with ideas and he knows that he’s gotta get up and go write them down. But it’s, but it’s like what you said, it’s like when you do, when creating content and writing messages and just writing is yes. Calling, it’s like, you do, you, you can’t sleep. It’s like they’re emanating out of you even in your sleep and Oh
AT (30:40):
My gosh. Yes. Yes. I would say I, all of the best parts of, of my last book 22 were like one-liners that I voice noted into Evernote in the middle of the night. Like, so much of my writing process is sitting up in bed being like, oh my gosh, I have to get that down and, and I’ll, I’ll voice note it into voice to text. So then I get up in the morning and it’s half gibberish, but I’m like, that’s a really great idea. Buried in there. I gotta put that in the book.
AJV (31:10):
But a lot of that comes back to enjoying the process. Yes. The process. And it’s a calling. Yes. It’s not a career move. It’s a calling that needs to be one of your signature lines, ally. It’s a calling, not a career move. Oh,
AT (31:25):
That’s good, aj. That’s good.
AJV (31:28):
It’s gotta be one of your signature lines. But I think all of this is so important because for the author, right, it doesn’t matter if it’s your first book or your 10th book, the same business planning is required for every single book. So tell us about this new awesome course that you are launching the author entrepreneur.
AT (31:49):
Yes, thank you. Well, so one of the things that, that we’ve experimented with this, one of the things we experimented with this year was helping to solve this pain point for aspiring authors. And we launched an accelerator this fall for aspiring authors nonfiction specifically who are working on their book ideas. And AJ it was one of the best, most fun, most life-giving things I have ever done. Everyone who went through it said that it’s, I mean, it’s totally rocked their world. It’s been the fav their favorite thing in their life right now. It’s, it’s been an incredible, incredible ride. And that was kind of my test ground to see is this a real felt need and can we, can we solve it? Is this you know, are these the questions that aspiring authors are really asking? And so, coming off of the success of the Accelerator, we’re, we’re, we’re wrapping it this week.
AT (32:47):
We’re gonna transition that content into an evergreen course where someone can go through it on their own time. So, so the accelerator was a live accelerator twice a week, every week. It’s a, a much bigger commitment. And a lot of what I heard from these aspiring authors was, oh my gosh, I want to do this, but it’s, you know, I don’t have capacity right now, or I, I’m gonna focus on the book next year, or Is there any way, are you gonna do it again? And and so instead of trying to do the accelerator all over again, I, I said, well, what if I can make this easier for that aspiring author and cheaper, honestly, to do it on their own time? So that is this course that we’re launching, we’re announcing it and opening up registration on December 12th. And because we love Brand Builders Group, we wanna give a discount to anyone who comes through Brand Builders Group. So just use the code bb g Yeah. For $200 off the course. We would love, love to have you in it. Oh,
AJV (33:49):
That’s awesome. And if you guys are listening and you wanna check this out, you go to copper books.com/course. I’ll put that in the show notes, and then use BBG as a discount codes copper books.com/course. Use BBG for the discount code. Now, what I, I know we’re almost out of time, but what I wanna talk to you about is kind of what you just said. It’s like, are these the questions that these aspiring authors are really answering, and what are the answers they need to know? So if you were to highlight one or two things that an aspiring author needs to know, what would they be?
AT (34:27):
One of them would be get to know your reader, who identify who your reader is. So thinking about your audience is one of the most important parts. If you wanna write just for you, that is beautiful, and I could not encourage you to do it more, but if you want to sell a book and actually create meaningful transformation in the lives of the person who decides to read your book, then you need to, you need to write with them in mind. Mm-Hmm, . So I would get specific into the, the psychographic, the demographic of who that reader is, and then start building a relationship with them now long before the book comes out. And this goes back to the idea of building your personal brand. Think about what the pain points are that they have. What is keeping your reader up at night? What are they wrestling with?
AT (35:23):
What are they struggling with? Because that is going to be the big umbrella idea that’s gonna be the consistent line through the book that you write. It’s gonna be the, the shareable the way that, that people talk about your book and share it with others is to, to solve that pain point. And then it’s gonna help you start to, to speak on that content and attract that kind of reader, that kind of audience now long before your offering something to sell to them. So, so that would be one. And the second, which is related to that is I would really get clear on what your big idea is. So if you could distill your book down to one sentence, I think that the books that go the farthest in the market are ones that can be easily distilled down to one big idea.
AT (36:16):
Because I know when I buy a book, I’m usually buying into the big idea that I know that the book stands for and saying, I want more of that. So I agree. Let me give an example. 4,000 Weeks by Oliver Berkman. I’ve given that book to so many people, and it’s, it’s about how, it’s about the shortness of life, and yet how you can expand your days. I, I call it the anti anti productivity productive productivity book. And so it’s easy for me to share the concept of the book with other people and encourage them to buy it. And many times I’ll buy a book because I love the idea. Maybe I read part of it, but I’m buying into the concept. So I would encourage you to really get clear on who your reader is and start to build a relationship with them now and then. And then really, once you’ve identified their problem, identify the big idea of your book that’s gonna solve that problem for them. And that is gonna help you make decisions around the content that goes into your writing.
AJV (37:19):
Hmm. I love that. And I think I love that. It’s just clarity. All right. You gotta know what yes. What it is and who is for
AT (37:25):
Yes. And, and it’s an act of service. It’s an act of service.
AJV (37:30):
I love that. All right, one last question. Yes. what is your favorite book?
AT (37:36):
Oh my goodness. Oh, I have so many. I would say my favorite book is Vitor Frankl. Man’s Search for Meaning. Okay.
AJV (37:45):
AT (37:45):
Obsessed. I’m obsessed with this. I with meaning, with meaning making. Mm-Hmm. And, and I think it is, is the most beautiful. I think it’s one of the greatest books of the 20th century and the most beautiful journey in how you create and build a meaningful life. And everything I do in my work is around trying to help people build meaningful lives, whether it’s through reading incredible books or creating them.
AJV (38:12):
Oh, I love that. Well, I always love a good book recommendation. Ooh, A man search for Meeting. I just wrote it down. Put it on the list.
AT (38:19):
Amazing. And 4,000 Weeks, too. You’ll love that one. All right.
AJV (38:23):
I’ll put that down too for you.
AT (38:24):
AJV (38:25):
, thank you so much for being on the show and getting us your time and introducing us to the platform that is Copper Books and the discount for the upcoming course. And I think most importantly, what I’m most grateful for, for this audience is a great reminder that a book should be a calling, not a career move. Yes. This is important. It’s like, if you wanna be an author, then you’re also saying, I’m ready to be an entrepreneur. Yeah.
AT (38:56):
Yeah. And
AJV (38:57):
Those are not exclusive. Those are, those are, you know, together. And we have to treat it that way. And that was such a good reminder to all of us. It’s one thing to write a book, it’s another thing for someone else to read it. And so thank you so much. Ally. If people wanna connect with you online, where should they go?
AT (39:16):
You can find me on Instagram at Allie Bridge also at Copper dot books, on Instagram and LinkedIn. All the places, all the normal places. Would love to chat with you all. Would love to hear what your book idea is. And lastly, I just wanna say, if, if that dream won’t let you alone, it’s, it’s there for a reason and follow it.
AJV (39:40):
Hmm. Love it. So good. Everyone please check out Allie go to copper books.com. Visit her online, chat with her on Instagram. Do whatever you gotta do. But get connected and stay connected. And also catch the recap episode, which will be coming up next. We’ll see you next time on the Influential Personal Brand. See you later, y’all.

Ep 437: How To Get Better Outputs Using ChatGPT | Kyle Stout Episode Recap

AJV (00:02):
Do you want to be better at using AI to write copy? Well, I do. And if you happen to be in the category of me and millions of other people, all around the world, this would be a worthwhile quick 10 minute conversation to listen to. So, and by conversation, I do mean monologue because it’s just me talking to the camera. But with that said it’s still worthwhile content that we’re gonna be talking about, about how to get better outputs using chat G p T. So if you have used chat g p t to try to help you with content ideation content creation, emails, landing pages, websites, bios, blogs, show recaps captions, Phil could go on and on. I bet you have experienced some of the following. One would be it doesn’t sound like you at all. Two, it uses a verbiage and vernacular that you would never use.
AJV (01:09):
It also sounds a little stiff or perhaps a little static or generic, or it feels like you could have read that anywhere else on the planet. It doesn’t cater to your avatar. And probably just generally speaking, it doesn’t sound like you it doesn’t sound like you. Well, we’re gonna talk about a few tips that you can start using right now to give chat g p t better prompts in order to get you better output. So here, here we go. You ready? I’m ready. Let’s do this. Number one, start by training chat, G p t. You can train chat, g p t and that means you have to teach chat, G p t how to write for you. It has to get to know you, your company, your products, and your avatar. So start with having it create your ideal avatar.
AJV (02:02):
So actually start by saying like, please create my ideal customer avatar based on blankety blank, blank, blank. Based on, you know, and this is just an example of mine. Hey, please create me a, an ideal customer avatar that is a female age, 35 to 45, who is successful in her career, lives in the United States, makes over six figures who is super ambitious and driven, but struggles with feeling not worthy, not enough, feeling invisible. You know, you kind of just go through the process, right? So first of all, you have to know who your avatar is. It cannot make it for you. But what you wanna do is you want to have it create your ideal profile by you telling it all of the demographics and psychographics, right? Where do they live? How old are they? What’s their industry? What’s their,
AJV (02:59):
Their socioeconomic status? And then the psychographics. How do they feel? What are their goals? What are they looking for? What are their fears? All the things. But by feeding it into that and having it create your profile, it will remember that as you start giving it new prompts, or you can just copy and paste those, that prompt or that output that it gives you and copy and paste and saying, Hey, please create me a landing page for X product that caters to, and then you can copy and paste and insert your ideal profile. But the thing is, is like, the more that you teach it, the more that it remembers. So the more that you do in there, it’s gonna remember that time after time again. So step one is train it on your ideal avatar. Step two is train it on your products, right?
AJV (03:46):
So the next thing you’d be is, please write me a product service or program description that is fill in the gaps. If I’m just using a brand builders group, it would say, I would say, Hey, please write. I wouldn’t say, Hey, but I would say, please write me a service description for a one-on-one personal brand coaching program that includes unlimited events to two day live experiences in Nashville, Tennessee. That includes 14 course curriculum access that in, you know, I would keep going on and on, and then it’s gonna write that. So I’m going to feed it my current descriptions. Now, if you don’t have a current, you know, product or service description, it can help you. But it’s gotta know your avatar and it’s gotta know who you are, what it’s for. It’s gotta know your company all the things that it’s gonna do.
AJV (04:39):
And so this is better suited for once you have your clear right service offering, your product offering, then have it go in there and have it build that this is a part of training it. It’s not that you’re u using chat g p T to create everything. You don’t have some of that work you gotta do yourself, right? That’s your job. And that’s why companies like Brand Builders Group exist, is we help with that part of the strategy, but it’s to help feed it into chat G P t to train it. So it’s now it’s learning who your avatar is, what your product is all about, or your service is all about. Then you wanna also teach it about your company, right? So for me it would be, you know, help create a company profile for brand builders Group who blank, right? So I’m going to help help it learn about brand builders group. So in my case, I would say like brand build create a pro a company profile for brand builders group who specializes in servicing the bur the personal brand strategy arena, who we cater to, coaches, consultants, speakers, authors, entrepreneurs, small businesses, small business owners, buy dah, dah, right? So I’m gonna feed all of the things that we already have established
AJV (05:57):
About our avatar, about our offering, about our company is an effort to train, chat, G p T. So that’s step one. That was a long step one, but that’s step one. Step two is keep everything in one chat thread so you can build off of each new prompt. That’s a quick and easy one. Number two, use prior prompts in your new prompts to get more specific. So you can just copy and paste, use the little clipboard icon right there in chat, g p t, copy and paste the avatar. And you say, Hey, write me a email that caters to this avatar for this service offering, right? And you could just copy and paste the whole thing in there. It’s long, right? So some of those prompts are gonna be long, but the more that you do that upfront, the less you have to do it later on.
AJV (06:45):
Okay? That would be the the third thing. Fourth thing, be specific with what you want, right? So if you’re going, Hey, write me a landing page an active voice use X copywriting formula. So for us, it’s like, Hey, please write me a landing page, an active voice using the 15 Ps of copywriting from brand builders group who caters to blank avatar. That is not a discount oriented service offering that blank, blank, blank, right? And so I’m talking about be specific. So I would include things like please use humor, be concise. This is for a first time buyer. On and on, right? I’m gonna give you some of those examples in a second, but be specific, right? The more you do this upfront, the less you have to do it later on, or it changes, right? Use things like, are you looking for active voice, which is what most of us are probably wanting, or is it passive voice?
AJV (07:51):
Is this for a first time buyer? Is it for a repeat customer? Is it a, a re-engagement campaign of some sort for people who showed interest but never purchased or they did purchase, but it was X amount of years ago. Is this a discount, seasonal discount type of thing? Do you include a discount or not? Is this seasonal or not? Right? Is this something that you do every summer or every winter, every Christmas, every back to school, whatever. Do you want it to include humor? Do you want it to be serious? Do you want it to be verbose? Do you want it to be concise? Do you want it to be in the voice of a certain person, right? So it, you can say, write it in the brand voice of AJ Vaden from Brand Builders Group, or write it in the voice of c e o of Brand Builders Group. You can be that specific. In that case, you would also need to train it on you as a personal brand. You can say things like, oh yeah, I mentioned this. Like, is there a certain copywriting
AJV (08:55):
Formula that you want it to use? Use things that say, I like it. Please use an email. Like, and you could use examples of other people or other companies. You can give it feedback, right? Rewrite this with more humor or less humor, or make it longer. Make it shorter. Make it more nuanced with different things based on who they are in your list. It’s like these are long-term clients that I’m catering to for this. You can do it for the sales pipeline, you can do it for nurture. All of those things. You have to be concise that this is a, the first email of a five email series, or this is the second email of five emails. All of those things are the things that we need to think about that most of us aren’t thinking about when it comes to using chat G p t.
AJV (09:50):
So there’s a lot in here, but here’s what I would say as your takeaway from this is number one, train chat, G p t. Help it get to know you, your business, your product, your avatar. Number two, get specific. No upfront, is this a funny email? Is this a short email? Is it serious? Is that with an offer or not an offer? Is it for a first time buyer or an existing customer? Is it for a past customer? That does no, has no longer has any engagements with you? All of those things are what you wanna think through, detailed out first, because those are a part of the prompt that you need to get or give to get the output that’s actually going to be usable. And just note too, it’s like, it’s not gonna write it perfectly, but it will take you from a copywriter to a copy editor, which most of us can edit in our voice. But we struggle with writing it from top to bottom. That’s where chat g p t can help you, save you thousands of dollars, save you tens if not hundreds of hours and help you get something that you can use right away. So how do you get better outputs with chat G P T? You learn how to tell it what you want upfront, and that’s what we did right now. So go test it out. Go use it and tell me what you think.

Ep 436: Become A Better Copywriter Using AI with Kyle Stout

AJV (00:02):
Hi everybody. Welcome to the influential Personal Brand podcast, AJ Vaden here. Super excited to have a conversation around something that everyone is talking about and continues to talk about. And so we’re gonna continue that conversation here today on the topic of AI and your personal brand. And so, before I introduce my awesome guest, Kyle Stout, I wanna tell you guys just a couple of reasons why you wanna stick around for today’s interview. So here are some things to ask yourself. And if you have the answer is yes to any of these questions, then this is an interview custom designed for you. Number one, do you want to use AI better? If you answer yes to that, stick around for this interview. Do you want to figure out better questions, better prompts to be putting into AI to get what you actually want? The answer is yes.
AJV (00:57):
Then you wanna stick around. And if you wanna talk about how AI can improve your email marketing, content marketing, or anything else that you’re doing online, then this is probably the conversation that you wanna stick around and listen to. So without further ado let me introduce you to our guest who’s going to make us better not only at using ai, but also becoming better email marketers for everything that we’re doing in our business. So Kyle Kyle Stout is the founder of Elevate and Scale, which is a marketing agency that helps with direct to consumer brands improve their revenue and put their sales on autopilot. Who does not want that ? He’s also an expert on using email marketing to increase revenue and leverage AI to help you scale production. Kyle, welcome to the show.
KS (01:52):
Thank you for having me.
AJV (01:54):
Yeah, this is gonna be a great conversation. I know everyone’s been talking about it. Everyone Conti continues to talk about it, and I feel like the same questions continually get asked from everyone in our community, everyone in our audience, which is, how do I become better at using ai? And so I would love to hear a little bit of your backstory about how you got to where you are and how have you learned so much about using AI in the most efficient and effective way?
KS (02:25):
Okay. So my background is in copywriting, and there have been a lot of these AI copywriting tools that have been out prior to what everyone now knows as like chat, G P T and that level of, of ai. And honestly, they weren’t really very good. I had, you know, but I was always kind of keeping an eye on it just because I thought, well, it would be really useful if it was really good someday. And then chat G p t, of course has changed everything and all of the new you know, technology that’s come about since then has changed everything to where now you can actually get really good copy. But what I have found to be the most important thing for getting, not just copy, but the best outputs in general from the AI tools that you’re using, is the detail in the prompts that you give it. And being specific with what you’re looking for in an answer as opposed to just asking a very broad question. Because you have to think that, okay, while this AI is very smart, it’s considering so many different possibilities of answers like way beyond the what we would ever consider in our mind. And it’s trying to come up with this, you know, generalized response that will cater to all those things instead of honing in on the specific, you know, variables that you really care about.
AJV (03:39):
Yeah, I love that. And I think that’s, well, one, I love that you have such a, a strong background in copywriting because I feel like you still have to be a copy editor to use ai. Well, and I still, I just know from our community at Brand Builders Group, we’ve got, you know, 750 monthly members and one of the biggest struggles that people still have is copywriting. And most of the use cases that we’re encountering from our community and even just increase from this podcast is, man, where do you find good copy? How do you write good copy? Who can, who can do it affordable and make it quality? And so I’d love to hear your take on just the AI generated copy as a copywriter, because I think what a lot of people think is, oh, this is going to solve this problem I have, or it’s gonna replace, you know, all of these people. And it’s like, I don’t agree with that. So I would love to hear your take on being a copywriter and using ai.
KS (04:39):
Yeah, so it’s definitely not as good as a, as a trained copywriter. And you know, I still have copywriters on my team who are writing the copy for our clients, but it is, I mean, it’s honestly pretty good to where in a lot of cases you can get copy that’s good enough to where you just need to go in, make some tweaks, of course, add in the personal language that fits your brand, that that’s the biggest piece is you want to mm-hmm. actually humanize it and, and, you know, use language you would actually use and phrases you would use, things like that. And I find I, a lot of times I’m changing the order of the copy, so I might have it say I wanted to write you know, if it was like a video script or an email or something, I might ask for three different variations and I might mix different pieces from the different variations together to get one that I really like in the order that I like.
KS (05:31):
So yeah, I think that you, it, again, it’s not as good as the copywriter, but you don’t have to have a copywriting background to use it. One thing about great copy is that it is very conversational. Mm-Hmm. . So if it just, if it seems off to you, then that’s a sign. It’s probably gonna sound kind of off to your target buyers. So, you know, it might be a case of the copy’s just nowhere near usable yet, and you need to have it, you need to follow up with details of saying, Hey, can you use more humor or can you exclude, you know, and give a specific example of what they said in there that you, you don’t wanna exclude. Like a lot of times, for example, a lot of times with emails, it always wants to throw in a discount, you know, and so I’ll have to tell it in the prompt, you know, don’t mention any discounts ’cause we don’t wanna have a discount in this email.
KS (06:17):
So things like that. So you’ll learn just by practicing little tricks of like your go-to things that you always include in the prompts, but really it’s gonna get you the, the base level of information you’re trying to convey. It’s pretty good at getting that. Then you just need to kind of massage it and humanize it to your brand. And that’s where you can really save a lot of time and money and you know, be able to produce really good copy without having to go hire a full-time copywriter if you’re, you know, not in a position to do so.
AJV (06:47):
Yeah. No, I love that. And I think you kind of nailed it on the head and a part of our conversation today is you have to know what you want in order to put in the right prompts so you get the right outputs. So let’s talk about that for a minute. Like, how do you get the best outputs? Like what’s the key to putting in successful prompts and like, how do you get better at telling it what you want so you actually get something that’s more usable?
KS (07:16):
So there’s a couple of pieces here. So before jumping to like, having this really detailed prompt, I think it helps to actually train the AI a little bit for, so let’s say for example, you’re using chat G P T and you open a new chat thread if I, for any business, any whatever it is, if it’s your personal brand, whatever, you keep all the conversation in that one chat thread. And I initially like to start off by having it do some research on creating an ideal customer profile for that business. Mm-Hmm. . So then it, so this is just like a prompt where you can, you can put in just like ask it to you know, so I’ll tell you word for word one that I use is provide a detailed example of an ideal customer profile for a and you fill in a little bit of details about your business.
KS (08:01):
So you know, a business that sells t-shirts online or, you know, whatever your business is. And then I put including information on demographics, psychographics, behavioral patterns, and customer needs and pain points. And that will give you a really detailed output of all of these demographics. And like, especially the really important stuff are like the big pain points, the, the wants, needs, desires, all of that of your ideal customers. So now the AI is familiar with, okay, the prompts you give, it’s going forward, it’s going to take into consideration this profile that you’re targeting. And then not only that, but you can take that output you just got from it, and then you can copy and paste that back into a prompt and say, now give me, you know, 10 topic ideas for videos or for emails or for whatever it is. And then that will usually give you 10 kind of broad ideas for your category where whatever, you know, industry you’re in, and then those broad ideas, you can actually go back and have it give you 10 more or even more than that.
KS (09:00):
But I like 10, you know, 10 more specific pieces of content. So now you have 10 different kind of angles to take to talk about that broader topic. And that’s how you can scale up the, or or solve the problem of, okay, what do I, what do I say in my content? So at, at this point now, there’s unlimited ideas for topics. And when you drill down to those specific subtopics and then you have the AI write the email or write the video script or whatever about that, now it’s gonna be a lot more refined. And so you can copy and paste in your ideal customer profile, in your prompt, you can copy and paste in the specific smaller, more refined topic that you wanted to write about. And then below that I would give it some details of like what, what type of content this specifically is.
KS (09:46):
So if it’s a, if it’s a sales email, if it’s a nurturing email, if it’s a, a video that’s, you know, and I tell it what objective I have for the video, and then I’ll, that’s at the end of that I’ll put in my little personal notes. So for example, I always tell it to use active voice because I find that a lot of times it uses passive voice, which is just not good copywriting. I might tell it to use a specific copywriting formula, and you can Google these if you don’t know any copywriting formulas that you might like. Little details like that. So other, other things would be like, don’t mention this, you know, ’cause you find that it kind of gets into patterns where it does certain things you like and does certain things you don’t like. So I always tell it not to do the things I don’t like. And with that kind of prompt, that’s how you’re able to get a really good rough draft of copy that now it only requires a little bit of editing and you don’t, you, it is not just completely off the mark to where you feel like you’re having to start from scratch each time.
AJV (10:39):
How long are your prompts ?
KS (10:43):
So here’s the thing, if you do this upfront as you go, because it remembers all your, your chat history, you don’t have to do that every single time. So for a while I was doing that every single time because I, because I was getting such good outputs, I started to think, oh, I guess I have to do these really long, detailed prompts every single time. What I have found is that if you take it through that journey of doing some customer research, then doing some topic research and then having it write specific types of content for you from that point on, I can say, Hey, write an email about this, this particular product or whatever. And it’s, it’s already on point. It remembers all the stuff I told it before, so I don’t have to be that detailed every time. So yeah.
KS (11:22):
But it does help to at, at some point be that detailed and to give it feedback of, I don’t like, you know, use less humor, use more humor, you know, be more concise, like whatever. And it, it just kind of picks up on on your preferences. And then from that point on, that’s where, that’s honestly, I think is the biggest difference where some people have a really bad experience with AI and some people have a really great experience and the people who are having a great experience, they maybe didn’t know this is why it happened, or they aren’t sharing that because they just spent so much time practicing and doing all these iterations that they’re, the, the AI is just working more effectively for them than for someone who just starts and they try to jump right into write a script for this video right from the very first prompt without a lot of detail of, you know, considerations of your brand and your target customers and all that.
AJV (12:13):
Oh, that’s so good. But it’s, you know, it’s like the more specific and the more detailed you are in the beginning, it’s gonna remember that and it’s, you’re gonna have to be less and less of that over the course of time.
KS (12:24):
Exactly. So I always, on my in chat, G P t I have like all my saved chats. So for whatever it is, whether I’m planning my YouTube videos, I have a chat that I only use for that. Or if I you know, for certain clients, you know, stuff I’m, if I’m researching ideas for emails, I have a certain chat for each one of them. So, and then that way I don’t have to go through that whole learning curve again. I just save it and go back and just pick up where we left off. And it’s, it’s super easy.
AJV (12:49):
Oh, love that. Super, super insightful. And although I’ve heard tons of people talk about you gotta just ask better prompts, you gotta have this, you gotta have that. No one has made some of the comments that you just did, which I think is really helpful because you have a copywriting background such as use more humor, be more concise, use an active voice, like those are all the things that I’m like, yes, that right there would even help. Like, you know, it’s like we do a ton of copy and we’ve been using custom G P T to kind of like train our own copywriting, like bot mm-hmm. . And, but even some of those things I’m like, we need to go back in there and be like, for these you use active voice. And for these it’s like, be concise for these do do, like, all of that is so helpful when you look at it through the lens of like true copywriting. And I think most people aren’t doing that, which is why they’re like, you can read, you know, when it’s a chat g p t copy text, like, you know, I’m like, yeah,
AJV (13:52):
You know, it’s like, but it’s because people aren’t using these type of nuanced just little tips. That’s awesome. So, so, so, so, so super helpful. So that kind of like leads me to my next questions, which would be, what do you think are some of the, the strengths and weaknesses of using AI to generate, you know, content and, you know, and I would say just content in general, but then super specific to email marketing content.
KS (14:22):
Yeah. So the biggest strengths and the things that I really love about it the most are doing the initial ideal customer profile type of research. Because when I first am am working with a client, that’s a, that’s a big time consuming task that we do. Before we write any copy, we need to nail down the messaging strategy. And a lot of that is just really dialing in on what are the big wants and needs and pain points, because that’s what’s gonna drive all of the topics we write about. ’cause Even if we’re, you know, if we’re selling supplements or, or t-shirts or whatever, it doesn’t matter what it is. If it’s a an online course, whatever, we’ve got to write the message in a way where the person who’s receiving the email feels like you care about them. They wanna know what’s in it for me.
KS (15:02):
And so you always wanna frame it around those things that, those desires and those problems that never go away for them. So that’s the first part, just saves a ton of time and helps us be, you know, really thoughtful and strategic with that. Then coming up with, you know, sometimes you just, especially if you’ve done a lot of emails for, you know, for your business or for a particular business, you get to where you’re like, okay, now you know, how do we find another way to talk about the same things? And that’s where chat PT is really mm-hmm. creative. It’s like you can ask it you know, come up with email campaign topics based around the time of year that we’re in, or based around something that’s going on in the world or based on a, a recent promotion they had or were targeting certain types of customers of theirs, people who have never purchased or v i p buyers.
KS (15:48):
So adding in those little, ’cause at first, if you just ask it for topics, it’ll give you a bunch of topics, but then you’ll run through those. So that’s where you start. You have to start throwing in extra things like, you know, I need topic ideas with this extra little detail to, you know, narrow down the list of topics. So that’s a, those are the two best things. I really like it to, to get alternative headlines, subject lines, things like that. So copy we’ve written, but we’re like it’s good, but we don’t love it. Let’s get some ideas. And it doesn’t always mean that we’re gonna use what chat p t gives us verbatim, but it will give us ideas. I’m like, oh, I like that thing. I didn’t even think of taking that angle and I’ll write my own version of it based on what I got from chat p t, but I would’ve never got the idea in the first place if it wasn’t for chat p t.
KS (16:35):
So those are the things I, I use, if those are the things I would say are the biggest strengths that I have found personally. And also just saving time and, and all the processes, actually, I guess that’s the biggest strength. The weakness would be that the copy is still not to the level that you can just copy and paste it in and, and send it off and, and be good to go. Like you, you’ve, you do need to, like you said, not everyone can, but every, all marketers can, you know, they can tell whenever it’s AI copy and it is a little bit more generic. And so it’s not like, it’s not a matter of will your customers know it’s AI or not, it’s just not going to resonate with them in the same way as if you personalize it more and you add in your personal touch and your own signature phrases and how you say things, that’s what’s going to take it from just okay copy that explains what you’re trying to communicate to copy that really connects with the person and forms that emotional connection where now they wanna do business with you over the other coaches who offer the exact same service you do, but they just like you better.
KS (17:38):
Right? So that’s what we wanna do with our copy. So that has been I would say that’s not a huge weakness. It’s, but that’s something to keep in mind. A weakness, another weakness just for me personally is there are some tools that are great for creating original art, but for creating the kind of graphic design I need. So designing really nice emails and I just haven’t seen one yet. There are some that are kind of, you know, testing the waters right now, but I have not seen any that come close. I mean, just, it’s just nowhere close to what a good graphic designer would do on our team. And so that would be a huge
KS (18:20):
Time and money saver if, if we had that. So, you know, hopefully in the near future. But that’s definitely something where, I mean, if you’re just, if you just need original artwork, mid journey is amazing.
AJV (18:31):
KS (18:31):
But again, it’s like there’s a learning curve of how do you even put the prompts in to get the output the same way that I know copywriting and I know the little nuances to ask it. If you’re not a photographer and you don’t really know the nuances of a lens and different colors and aperture and all that kind of stuff, which I don’t know anything about, then you won’t be able to get as good of a prompt as someone who does have that background.
AJV (18:54):
Yeah. Like one of the things, and I’m so glad that you brought that up too our team plays around with Mid Journey a lot with just like, like we’re, we’ve been making, like taking all of our clients’ photos and turning them into like superheroes mm-hmm. , right? It’s like great for little things like that, but like real graphic design. No, not so much.
KS (19:11):
AJV (19:12):
But one of the things that you kind of said, it’s like, and this is what I heard anyway, so tell me if I’m wrong, but it’s like, almost like you already have to be an expert in your field and then AI can just help save you time. But if you don’t know some of these nuanced things, it’s not gonna give you what you want. So instead of, you know, you don’t have to be a copywriter, but you still have to be able to copy edit, right? It’s like,
KS (19:36):
Yeah. You
AJV (19:37):
KS (19:38):
That, that’s exactly how I feel about it. So a lot of people, they, they feel threatened by ai and I’m not saying it won’t completely eliminate marketers, right? So it’s, it’s possible. But for the time being and, and in the near future, what it looks like is it’s just gonna make us way more efficient and effective at what we do. And like you said, so a a good copywriter with AI is gonna be way better than someone who is has no copywriting background using ai and they’re gonna be way faster than a great copywriter who is not using AI ’cause they’re just not saving as much time, right. So mm-hmm. , it’s definitely a tool to be used. And I, I would say though, I think that, I think copy is a little bit easier for someone to pick up with no training in copywriting versus the visual side of, of graphic design. ’cause It is like most people, I mean, we talk every day, so, you know, like yeah,
AJV (20:32):
KS (20:32):
Have an idea of how we would like our company to communicate to us and how we would like to be communicated to versus you know, photography and graphic design is a lot more technical in nature. And if you just have, if you’ve never had any experience with it, you would just never even even learn the terminology. So I definitely think it’s easier for the average person to pick up the copy side of ai.
AJV (20:53):
Yeah. And I love that too, where it’s well I have a question. Do you think that using like chat G P T and other AI sources is going to allow copywriters to lower their prices because now they can do more volume?
KS (21:10):
I def Well, so yeah, I think it’s gonna affect different parts of the market. So you definitely will have a lot of those people, you’ll have a lot of those services where it’s gonna be high volume, low cost. Mm-Hmm. , they’re, you know, because of, because of the, that price point, they’re not gonna be able to put as much time into editing it. Right. And, and the same thing on, I think there’s gonna be probably a higher premium for the truly artistic copywriters who don’t use any AI at all. And there’s gonna be the rest of us in the middle, which is some combination of both. And it’s really for, what I find with clients is they, they care about the quality of the output. Yeah.
AJV (21:46):
KS (21:46):
Don’t, they’re not really, I, I thought people would not like the idea of us using ai. I found that they kind of, their attitude is, well, if you’re not using ai, you’re like, are you really even keeping up? Are you gonna be able to, you know, keep, are you, are you gonna be innovative and be able to help us keep up with everyone else? And they don’t seem to be like bothered by it at all as long as the final output, which is the emails we’re creating for them. As long as they like those mm-hmm. They like how it represents their brand, they’re performing well. They never really ask questions about about that.
AJV (22:19):
Yeah. No, that’s interesting. I think our response has been right nor wrong is yeah, I’m still happy to pay your full prices, but can you get it done faster? , it’s like ai, can you just get it done faster? It’s like, instead of it taking, you know, three weeks, I’m like, how about like next week? You know maybe unrealistic. But I think those are some of the expectations that we’re seeing in the marketplace too, of like, it’s requiring people to speed up and that’s not always a good thing. I don’t always agree with that, but it’s definitely creating that higher level of responsiveness and speed potentially at a lower quality product potentially. But I just, I still think, yes, it’s gonna be a huge time saver and for the people who can’t afford that, it’s, if you learn how to ask the right prompts, you’re gonna get something that’s usable, which I think is the end goal here for people as they’re, you know, trying to get all the things done.
AJV (23:11):
And they’re on a limited budget, which most of us have budgets. So super helpful. So I wanna kind of expand beyond AI before we went outta time. ’cause I could talk about this for a really long time ’cause I find it fascinating. But I would love to just talk about email marketing in general of, I think this is one of those things that over the last few years, at least in our circle in our community, that people have kind of stopped talking about. I think there has been such a unbelievably heavy focus and emphasis on social media that people have stopped talking about the value and the importance of your email list and email marketing. And at least for us, we find that we would much rather have a bigger email list than a big than a big social following. I care much more about our email marketing than a do just having a new, you know, social media campaign. I’m not saying it’s not important, I’m just saying I think there is, I there has been a devaluing on the importance of your email list and email marketing in the digital landscape. And I would love to kind of just be like, let’s, let’s talk about the importance of your email list and the importance of email marketing and let’s bring it back to, hey, don’t forget all this other stuff is not yours, but your list that’s yours.
KS (24:28):
Exactly. That, that’s really what it comes down to or comes back to for me, is that your email list is really the only channel that you own and control where you can directly communicate with your leads and customers versus social media. And so to your point, the, the two things I see the most often as far as, you know, why do people neglect email marketing is one, they’re just, you know, there’s so many new and sexy things out there with social media and AI and all this stuff that they know like, email’s always been there, it’s always gonna be there. I’ll get to it at some point. And so they think that, and they haven’t actually personally seen firsthand how valuable it can be. So it’s, it’s a lower priority for them. And then for other people, I think that it’s, it’s just kind of taken for granted. Like they maybe they have been doing it, but they didn’t realize that they haven’t been strategic about it. So maybe they do a monthly newsletter and so they’re like, yeah, we have a list and you know, we don’t really generate very many sales from it. So they’ve kind of written it off, but they, they never really did the deep dive into, okay, what can I actually do with email mm-hmm.
AJV (25:34):
, whereas
KS (25:35):
They did that with everything they did on social media. They were just a sponge and they wanted to learn everything and they didn’t take that same attitude with email. So they haven’t gotten the same results out of it. And you know, I mean, truthfully, social media is awesome and a lot of businesses have have built their businesses off of social media and they get almost all of their sales from there, if not all of their sales. And so they might be thinking, why do I need email? But I can tell you on the other side, so like with the types of businesses we work with, email typically generates 30 to 60% of their total revenue.
AJV (26:09):
Hmm. And
KS (26:09):
It’s a lot easier to do than social media. It’s a, it’s a lot cheaper to do than social media and it’s a lot more reliable month to month. And you don’t have to worry about, you know, all of a sudden they make a change in the algorithm and now your people aren’t, aren’t getting your content as much, or you have to pay more for them to see your content. You don’t have those issues that you have on social media. Yeah,
AJV (26:31):
No, I love that. And you said something that I wanna dive into is people don’t know what they can do with their email marketing. So what can people do with their email marketing? I would, would, I would love to kind of bring this back to the focus of, you know, what we talk about at Brain Builders Group because it’s a huge part of our business. Like, I think less than 1% of all of our clients come from social. It’s like we track all of that so super diligently, not most of ours come from podcasts, but it’s, it’s so interesting of how we’re tracking it, but if we were to go to our email engagement and our email, it’s like, so monumentally more significant to us. So what can people be doing in their email list with email marketing? Like, what are some of the things that are really working?
KS (27:18):
So the first place every business should start is, I call it optimizing your sales process, which is really just creating all of the automated email sequences that make sense for your business to get someone to go from being a stranger to being a customer. Mm-Hmm. . So what you can do is just first audit your sales process. So if it’s, say you’re a coaching business and people typically they land on your site, they maybe they sign up for some sort of lead magnet or maybe you don’t even have that. Maybe the process for them to, to become a client is they have to first do a sales call and then maybe there’s, you know, follow up where they make a decision on the call and they sign up. Or maybe you have a webinar that they have to go to before they get to the sales call.
KS (27:59):
Whatever your sales process is, map it out step by step. And in your analytics, look at how many people make it to each step. And then there’s gonna be typically at least one area where there’s a major drop off where lots of people make it to the webinar, but very few sign up for the call on the webinar. That’s gonna be the first place where if you put in an automated sequence to do follow up right there, where you’re gonna get the, the most immediate return on your effort because there’s just a lot of low hanging fruit. But ideally you won’t wanna have that follow up in place in between every single step in your sales process. And what it does is, is just more follow, you’re giving them relevant information for where they’re at in the sales journey. So depending on the software you’re using, for example, if you, if you have a webinar or a free training, typically there’s, you’re gonna have a pitch at the end.
KS (28:47):
You might have some value content for most of it, and you have a pitch at the end. And if the, so if you’re using the right software, you can see if people make it to the end or not. So if people don’t make it to the end, you can send them follow up information to send ’em the information that would’ve been in the pitch that they didn’t see. So a lot of times we assume, oh, when no one signed up, we assume they weren’t interested. Well maybe they didn’t even see the offer in the first place. So yeah, that’s, that’s the first place and that’s really where, I mean, to me that’s the, not only the highest priority, but you’re gonna get the most return for your effort. ’cause Once you set it all up, it’s just running 24 7. Beyond that, you wanna look at, okay, now how are we gonna start doing email campaigns on a regular basis to the different people on your list?
AJV (29:31):
Yeah. No, I love starting with the sales process because at the end of the day, most of this is for some sort of conversion. It’s nurturing, conversion, nurturing, conversion. So I love, love starting there. What would you say for the people who are going, okay, I have something in place, but it’s not really working, what would be some of the best things to put in the emails as you’re thinking of like, okay, maybe you have a webinar and they didn’t show up. Or maybe you have an application that people have to fill out and maybe they have to schedule a call and like all the things. And if they didn’t buy, what’s the follow up? What, what would you say for the people who are going, yeah, I have that, but it’s not really doing it, it’s not working. What would you say to go back and look at in terms of like, the actual words and content in the emails?
KS (30:19):
Okay, so let’s say if you had the webinar people sign up, but no one’s really responding afterwards. First thing is, ’cause you might need to, there’s multiple tests you might have to do here. But first let’s just assume that they like the webinar. And we, and we’re just gonna try to change the outcome with the emails, is I would look at, okay, at this stage, what information do they really need? Mm-Hmm. , if these are people who have signed up that aren’t really very familiar with you, or maybe they’ve, maybe they’ve, you know, followed you on social a little bit, then you want to have an introduction to your brand. Tell a brand story. If you don’t have one, I would create one. There’s a, a great book called Building a StoryBrand, which should walk you through this framework of like, how do I talk about my brand in a way that’s interesting to people?
KS (31:01):
Let them know about all of the, you know, unique value props of your business. But really you also want to make sure you are addressing questions and objections. So all of the big questions people have, all of the sales objections address those early and often in those emails because a lot of times you won’t get the opportunity, they won’t give you the opportunity to a, to answer those questions, right? So you’re not gonna hear them ask, but they still have those questions. So all of that stuff needs to be given to them early. So it’s very easy for them to make a decision to move forward. And then the, the overarching thing here is that all of the emails should be framed around them. Mm-Hmm. So even though I said you wanna introduce your brand, tell your brand story all that, I don’t mean you just go on and on about yourself and how great you are.
KS (31:43):
It’s all about what you bring to the table and what that means for them. What, what they are going to get out of it, what they are going to experience. So talk about the, you know, before and after of this, of their scenario. So if you offer some sort of you know, service, whether it’s coaching or professional service or whatever, know people are paying for outcomes. They’re not just paying for the service. So you wanna tell stories and you know, and involve the emotions of what someone is experiencing in this before state, before they have the results they want and what they’re going to feel and experience after they have those results. And so that’s gonna make, that’s just gonna resonate a lot more with people and it’s gonna make your, your marketing a lot more powerful. And then if that, if all of that doesn’t work, maybe it’s the offer, maybe you just need to try a different offer on the front end and the people who already signed up and didn’t engage with the first one, they’re not lost.
KS (32:35):
You can always just try to, you can pitch them on a new free offer and then get them involved in a new sequence. And you can bring of course, other new, new leads into that as well. But that’s a great way. Sometimes it might take two or three offers before you find the one that really resonates. And so if you keep testing these emails and nothing’s working, it’s not always the emails. Sometimes it’s just the, the way you started the relationship with them in the first place was either targeting the wrong people or it just positioned you with the wrong offer for what they’re looking for.
AJV (33:06):
Yeah. Super insightful. And I subscribe to all kinds of weird offers just so I can watch the email sequences , just so I can read them. This is the business that we’re in. And one of the things that I find is that the people who focus so much on what problem am I solving for you and what is life gonna look like after, even if I’m not interested in buying, I’m kind of like, oh, I like that. Or that is me. Mm-Hmm. versus the people who just talk about, you know, and here’s the great, you know, things that we do and here’s who we work with. And I’m like, I don’t care. Like I want to know what you’re gonna do for me. And even if I, you know, I subscribe to so many of these just to audit them. But it’s interesting how often I’ll find myself going, yeah, tell me more .
AJV (33:49):
Yeah, tell me more. It’s like, I’m not a prospect, but yet I’m interested and it’s really easy. And I would just say like, for anyone listening, if you don’t do that, do that. Right. Be a study of this process. There are plenty of people who do this well and plenty of people who don’t do it well. So just start kind of like testing things out out there and just, you know, kind of like put yourself in a bunch of funnels. ’cause You’ll see really quickly like how many are they sending? How long are they? Which I have a question for you about that. But also just reading like the meat of the emails is so insightful. And I love what you said. It’s like you can’t make it about you, you gotta make it about them. And that’s where looking at the analytics makes a big, big difference.
KS (34:32):
Yeah, definitely.
AJV (34:34):
Okay, so here’s the this is an ongoing debate in our company about email link. And there’s two schools of thought on this and I’m probably much more into tell ’em exactly what they need to know, what they need to hear and nothing else. And my husband, my business partner loves to tell them all the things. And so I’m gonna use you as our tiebreaker here. What would you say that you’re seeing in terms of trends when it’s like, how long should the email be?
KS (35:04):
So I would, I would say is the rule of thumb is to be concise. Like more often than not, lean towards keeping the emails short and to the point. But I will say the emails we do tend to be longer. On average, they tend to be a little longer. And, but it’s more challenging to have a really effective longer email ’cause you have to hold their attention. Mm-Hmm.
AJV (35:27):
KS (35:28):
So it depends on what you’re selling. So for people, for a personal brand, I actually prefer just text only shorter emails, keep ’em brief, keep ’em specific around a specific topic. One call to action and, and keep it pretty simple. And, you know, if you, if you don’t get to cover everything you wanted to just send another email later to, to take that other angle. Just because again, people have short attention spans in the personal branding space. Whether you’re a coach, consultant, whatever it is they really, really wanna know about you and like they want to, it’s not just about your service because you probably have, you know, insane competition, whatever you’re offering. There’s just, there’s a ton of coaches and consultants. So it’s not always just about your unique mechanism. They have to relate to you. And, and so if you can keep these emails, you know, if they’re, if they’re not reading the emails, they’re not gonna relate to you.
KS (36:20):
So you want, if you keep ’em shorter, keep ’em specific, keep ’em friendly, conversational, that’s a great way. But just, just to throw it out there. And maybe this will give your husband some fuels. I will say a lot of our emails are longer and, but a lot of times it’s because for example, if we’re, ’cause we work with a lot of product-based businesses, so a lot of times we’re doing a combination of having educational content in the email with an offer, with a relevant offer at the end. So for example, if we’re selling supplements, there’s a million, you know, angles we can take for topics around, you know, you could, it could be as general as, you know, fat loss or building muscle, but we like to get specific into things like, you know, how to shop for healthy groceries on a budget, you know, those kind of things.
KS (37:03):
Mm-Hmm. . So the email will have an intro, it’s gonna catch their retention resonate with them. It will have maybe, you know, three to five tips. And because we do a lot of heavy graphic design with our e-comm emails, you know, the copy is broken up, so it’s very easy to scan the content. But if you were to actually see the copy written out on a blank page, you would think, wow, that’s a lot of copy. It just doesn’t seem that way whenever it’s designed out because it, it flows seamlessly. There’s graphics to point their eyes into each direction. There’s subheaders to where they don’t need to read each paragraph. They can get all the information for the most part by just skimming it. So that’s the thing I would say is that the longer the email is, the more there’s a burden on you for every line to be really good to keep moving them forward or to use some graphic design to assist in the readability of the email. ’cause Ultimately, again, if they don’t read it, you’re not getting your message across, you would be better off just keeping it short and making sure they actually get the information you want them to get rather than knowing that you’re holding a little bit back that you’d love for them to have. But if you know they’re not going to, they’re not gonna consume it, then you might as well just save the space.
AJV (38:12):
No, those are super great. I think one of the things that I’ve noticed I don’t know if this is accurate or not, but the higher the price point, the more the coffee.
KS (38:22):
So that’s definitely, that’s all, that’s been a, a long time thing with copywriting. So like the, the really, you know, if you go to a long sales page for a big offer especially if it’s like, you know, multiple thousands or 10,000 plus. Yes. So you’re expecting this super long sales page with a, maybe a really long video sales letter on the sales page. But what’s interesting is that that doesn’t have to always be the case with the emails. In fact, I actually learned this from Frank Kern. I I did this program with Frank Kern and it was a huge investment and his, his emails were all very brief, but of course it was Frank Kern. He is, he is a legend in the marketing space and the copywriting space. So, so I was already pre-sold based on that, but he kind of taught us this format of, you have the, the offer section of the email stays pretty consistent from email to email when you’re selling these high ticket services.
KS (39:17):
Meaning that you’ll say like, you know, in this program you’ll, you’ll get, and then you list off like four or five bullets of the, the benefits, but it’s the copy that goes before that where you’re having a different conversation each time. So you’re trying to target a specific pain point specific benefit each time, then you lead to the offer. But really the email itself is pretty short, but he is having you do a high frequency of emails. So as opposed to it being one long email or maybe five long emails, it’s like 10 shorter emails Yeah.
AJV (39:46):
You know,
KS (39:46):
Within a certain timeframe. So yeah, I definitely feel like that, while that is the rule of thumb, you don’t have to go, you don’t have to feel the pressure of doing really long copy if you’re selling something high ticket.
AJV (39:59):
No, I love that. And I think in general, I, I find myself anyway preferring, I’d rather get a higher frequency and keep it short if I can. We follow the, the window pane policy, right? It’s like if I have to scroll, I’m probably gonna come back to it later, but if I can get the gist of it and just like what you see as you’re pulling up your outlook it’s like that’s gonna give me the gist of, oh, I do wanna read that. Versus my goodness if I see some of these emails where I’m like, I’m scrolling, I’m scrolling, I’m like, I’ll get to it later and then eventually I just end up deleting it. But that’s just me. That’s just, no,
KS (40:34):
No. I mean, that’s,
AJV (40:35):
You find
KS (40:36):
That that’s pretty normal. And I, I think really it’s like you have to have a, usually there’s a sales call involved with a high ticket offer mm-hmm.
AJV (40:42):
. And
KS (40:43):
I think that that’s where you need to have a really good sales script and, and sales call, you know, experience dialed in for people and those short emails. It’s just, it’s not so much selling the full high ticket program. It’s like, we’re just trying to sell the call right now in those shorter emails and then let the sales call do its thing. Right. So, ’cause people will try to do too much in email and like you said, if you don’t read it, then the whole purpose was defeated.
AJV (41:09):
Mm-Hmm. . Good, good, good tips. Okay. I’ve got two last questions for you. Okay. What would you say is the number one, or even number two, like number one and two, but what are the top biggest mistakes that you are seeing right now when it comes to email marketing?
KS (41:25):
The, probably the most common mistake is relying too much on discounts and emails. A lot of people have this idea that if I’m, like, they think that they’re going to be annoying their list by sending an email. So they think if I’m going to email them, I have to make it really good, I have to make it special for them, or they’re not gonna buy, which is not true at all. But, you know, if you have that preconceived notion, you’re gonna, you can see that play out because that’s will, that will frame how you write your copy. But a lot of times, you know, people get addicted to the spikes in sales that come with offering a big discounted promotion, and then you end up training your list to only buy when there’s a discount when you do that. And so I see this, I mean, I see this all the time over and over where it’s, it is difficult to wean people off of those discounts. So you’re better off not getting to that place in the first place if you haven’t already done that yet. So that’s that’s probably the most common one. Another one, which is maybe a little bit lesser known would be that not sending every email to everyone on your list. Hmm.
AJV (42:25):
KS (42:25):
I, it is another assumption people, people make, which, you know, I can’t fault them because if, if you don’t, if this isn’t your world and you’re not nerding out on email marketing stuff, then you would just assume, well, I have this really valuable asset, which is my email list, and so I’m gonna get the most value I can out of this. So every time I send an email, I want it to go to everyone that can possibly reach it, because that’s how I’m gonna get the most amount of sales.
AJV (42:47):
KS (42:47):
And again, that’s, that’s actually not true. What would be better is to segment your list and create different segments of groups of buyers so you can segment them based on how recently they’ve engaged with you, based on their past purchase history, based on where they live, their gender, all kinds of things. And then you craft the content of the email more specifically to that group. And now you can actually send out more frequent emails, but not everyone is getting every email and the emails they are getting are a lot more personalized to them. So that’s a way to not only get more sales per email send, but have a way to scale up the volume of emails you send without annoying your list. Because not everyone in your list is going to be getting all of those emails.
AJV (43:30):
Love that. I love, just don’t try to make it so general that applies to everyone, but cater to the different segments of your list so you can make it more personable. Love that. Such a good tip. And all right, here’s my last question. So I love those, those are really good. What would you say that you would tell someone who’s asking, okay, but what kind of emails do I send to my list now that I have all these people on the list? Let’s say they’re not in like a sales funnel, but I just have a large list. Like, or even if I have a small list, what do people want? Like what do people want when it comes to emails today?
KS (44:08):
Okay, so you first have to have the attitude of, i I call it always be testing. Kinda like salespeople say, always be closing, where you have to be willing to have some emails just not perform well. Mm-Hmm. And know that you’re, you’re testing new topics. So if you’ve done the initial research of, you know, defining your ideal customer profile, you have some idea of the big wants and needs and pain points they care about, then first just start with the big ones and start crafting some content around a specific pain point or a specific benefit that ties to what you’re selling. And just first start with those. So keep it more like evergreen. These are, these are emails that would be relevant today and a year from today, and they would always be true. So first just start testing those to get an idea of, okay, of the big topics, what does my list care about the most?
KS (44:59):
And you’ll know, because you can’t judge the first email because if you haven’t sent an email in a long time, or if it’s the first one you’re sending, you have nothing to compare it to. So send one email a week for a month at the end of the month, look at, out of those four emails, okay, which one performed the best? What, what was said in that email? What was the offer if it was different? And then the next month, keep that same type of topic in rotation, but try talking about it from a different angle and then maybe mix in a couple of other, you know, slightly related topics. And then try something completely, you know, brand new left field as another one to test. And as you go on, you’re gonna start narrowing it down to certain benefits or certain things about your service that they care about most.
KS (45:41):
And there are a lot of times it’s surprising a lot of times the things that you think are most important are not really what they care about. And so that’s where a lot of times we have to give them what they want mm-hmm. before we can give them what they need. ’cause Like again, if you’re selling a service, you know what they need, but a lot of times people don’t want what they need. They want what they want. And that’s usually like, you know, faster results than are what are realistic or mm-hmm. , you know, whatever it’s like. So those emails, especially if you can give them tips that give them quick wins, that’s a great way to, to win them over. But just to give you something specific to use, I, I call it having a conversation starter. So it’s just, you start the email around a specific topic.
KS (46:20):
So I’ll, again, I’ll go with, you know, I always use supplements as a, as examples. So well, let’s just say jewelry for, for example. If say you’re selling jewelry, a specific pain point might be that people have a hard time defining their style. Mm-Hmm. So you just write an email, just give them a little few tips about how they could define their personal style. And then at the end of the email, you share some jewelry options that are great for matching with different outfits or different styles or whatever. They’re very versatile. And so now you have a very, it’s a non-salesy, very relevant offer for them. And if they’re not in the market to buy today, they at least got those tips and hopefully they learn something interesting. So they’ll keep coming back to open future emails. And if you, if you just take that, that framework and that attitude and just test different topics each time, after two or three months, you’ll have a pretty good idea of what works for your list and what doesn’t
AJV (47:14):
Love that. I just, even like, as you were talking, thinking about fun and creative ways that just thinking about our list, even at Brand Builders group of, you know, we cater so super specifically to people who are trying to build their personal brand to increase brand awareness for lead generation or speaking or writing a book of even doing something that would be super heavy incentivized for just people who are in the book stages of wanna know how to sell this many books. Here are the 10 things you can do right now. And that would be a super easy thing just as you were just even talking about that, about how to reengage people that we’re not doing. And so again, it’s just those little reminders of like, oh yeah, like we should do that.
KS (48:00):
Yeah. That’s and that’s exactly what I’m talking about, where the, the tendency is to, oh, we need to tell them every single time about the book part and about the public speaking part and about everything else. And what I always tell people is, well, you can do that sometimes, but hone in on one specific thing at a time. And when you see the reaction to it, you start to learn which aspects of your offer they really care about most. And you, then you can just lean into that more.
AJV (48:23):
Love that. So awesome. What an amazing conversation. Thank you so much. This has been so helpful and so insightful. And for everyone listening I will put all of this in the show notes, but also there is an awesome free resource that Kyle has provided if you go to when before you send.com. So when before you send.com, you can download a really awesome checklist that you can go through before you launch your next email marketing campaign. So go grab that resource. It’s going to be what we covered today and so much more, but win before you send.com. Grab that resource. And also if you wanna learn more about Kyle and his business, go to elevate and scale.com. And Kyle, if people just wanna follow you on social media, where should they go?
KS (49:18):
Yeah, the best place would be my YouTube channel, which is Elevate and Scale.
AJV (49:22):
Elevate and Scale. You got it. Kyle, thank you so much. This was so awesome. So many awesome tips. And for everybody else, stick around for the recap episode and we will see you next time on the influential personal brand.

Ep 433: Building Your Consulting Practice by Positioning Your Expertise | David Baker Episode Recap

AJV (00:02):
All right, y’all. We are gonna talk about how to build your consulting practice by positioning your expertise. And I say consulting but you could be a trainer, a coach, a speaker, an author but this is consultative approach to what you do. How can we build that by positioning your expertise? And this was motivated. This was inspired by a conversation that I had with David Baker, who was a recent guest on the influential Personal Brand podcast. And I thought this was relevant enough to a break it away and have a separate conversation around this idea of expertise and really overcoming the challenge of being a generalist, which really just means overcoming the temptation to say yes to everything I suffer from that. I know you suffer from it. we all do. It’s like we, we see opportunities come in and we have scarcity mindset.
AJV (01:04):
So we say yes to all of them most of them not in our wheelhouse, not where we feel like we’re a, you know, a deep expert, but we feel confident enough or well versed enough that we can go learn it, figure it out, or do good enough. And then what accidentally happens, and I see this happen all the time, all around me, is that all of a sudden, without effort and without intention, you have become known for something that you don’t want to be known for. You have strayed away from your natural giftings, your uniqueness, and the things that you do better than anyone else because you have said yes to the wrong things for long enough that now people come to you for things that you aren’t as good at. It’s not your passion, it’s not your expertise. And you wonder why you feel like you’re working all the time.
AJV (01:58):
You’re burnt out and you’re tired. You’re tired. I know that because I have felt this way many times in my life. And often when I feel burnout approaching I know that it’s, I’m saying yes to too many things, and I’m saying yes to the wrong things. Because when I say yes to the right things, it doesn’t even feel like work for me. It feels like I am doing what I was made to do, what I was called to do, what God put me on this earth to do. It feels like my divine purpose. But when it feels exhausting and tiring and never ending, it’s because they are things I’m not naturally good at. It takes work. It takes effort, mentally, physically, all the things. And I don’t know it well enough. And so I have to try harder. I have to read up on it.
AJV (02:49):
I have to study, I have to ask questions, ask. But when I stay in my lane, my expertise where I have knowledge like nobody’s business, right? It’s like, I could do this in my sleep. I could talk about it in my sleep. I live it, I eat it. I breathe it. Yes, I can help you with that. I feel a hundred percent confident in it. It doesn’t feel like work. Why? Because it comes natural to me, because I have spent most of my life doing it, learning about it, talking about it. And that’s what I do now. So the question is then why do we say yes to all this other random stuff? And I believe it’s for one of two reasons. One, we have a scarcity mindset, or we’ve got fomo, , right? It’s like, you know, it’s like this scarcity concept in the terms of like, if I don’t say yes, something else isn’t coming, do I have to say yes to this?
AJV (03:39):
Because I, I don’t know if my next deal or my next client, I don’t know, right? I’m scared of the economy. I’m scared of the money in my banking account. I’m scared that I can’t generate a lead. I’m, I’m scared, right? It’s scarcity in this fear induced pattern, or it’s this kind of FOMO thing of you’re, you’re in the middle of a land grab, right? You’re like, I gotta take it all. I gotta grab market share why? It’s up. It’s like I’m new, so I gotta take everyone. It’s like I gotta get my reputation built up. And that happens by saying yes to everything. And it’s like, that’s also not right. I’m, and there’s some middle ground in there. And yes, I know that there are some times where we gotta take on business because we gotta, we have mouth to feed and bills to pay.
AJV (04:21):
And it’s like, you just gotta take it. But there’s a, that’s a finite amount of time, and it should be in only desperate situations. Because what we should be doing is narrowing our focus, honing in on that expertise. And so people know when to come to you because they know what you do. And it is crystal clear because you have made it crystal clear because your positioning is right. Your branding is right. Your talking points are right. Your, your conversation is right. Who you work with is, right? It is clear. But what muddies up the water is when you start adding in stuff that now your expertise is just broadened to the point of, well, I can do a little of sales, I can do a little leadership. Sure, I could probably talk about billing and some customer service. And all of a sudden that honed in focus on sales is so broad that you’re like, well, sales is everything.
AJV (05:20):
And so people go, well, I don’t know what to hire you for. And now you’ve muddied the water so much that people aren’t clear. So don’t do that. How do we do that? How do we not do that? Right? Here’s a few things that I thought was really wise from this conversation with David Baker. And I thought, this is fascinating and interesting. ’cause I hear people at Brand Builders group say all the time, well, man, I just, I think I’ve run out of things to say. It’s like everything that I have to say about it, it’s in my book, or it’s in this. And it’s like, well, maybe that’s not true. And I love David said, the, with a narrow focus, you always have more to say with a narrow focus. You always have more to say. The more narrow your focus, the more you have to say.
AJV (06:12):
And as I was listening to him, I just had this immediate thought about my husband and business partner, Rory Vaden. Now Rory is seemingly an extrovert, seemingly but really he is a secret introvert. And I have given him a hard time, most of our marriage and even dating relationship of he’s not a great general conversationalist. And I am like, baby, like you need to learn how to make small chat. And he’s like, I don’t know how to do small chat. I don’t wanna do small chat. I’m not good in a networking social. But here’s one of the things that I think is so fascinating. Every so often we’ll meet a new couple or meet a new set of friends or, you know, whatever. And when a topic of his expertise comes up, he is the ultimate chatterbox . And I’m like looking, and I’m like, who are you?
AJV (07:10):
And where, where did all these works come from? He’s like, we could go weeks when he’s like, I, I got nothing to say in these meetings or these environments until something comes up where he has something to say. And while David was talking, I immediately thought of Rory of going, that’s it. He has so much to say about a few things because on those things, he feels like I have something of value to give here. I have deep experience, I have deep expertise, I have a deep passion about it. And it’s like when those topics arise, you know, because the words are flowing, right? He is chatterbox central and when he doesn’t have anything to say on topics he doesn’t feel confident in or he is not interested in, he’s like, I got nothing to say on this. I’ve got nothing to add. I’m gonna let those around me who have interest in that share.
AJV (08:05):
And I thought that was a really good example to me of going, man, you don’t run out of things to say when it’s a topic that you feel like you have true expertise in, because you’ve done the research, you have these conversations. You think about it, you research, you read about it, you talk about it. So there is always something to say. And so there is always more to say when that topic is narrow, because that’s where your focus is. So you look at the, look at things through the lens of that narrow focus, and then new things start to rise all the time through that. And that was just a great highlighted moment of like, even in my personal life of going, and there is so much power in the value that you provide when you narrow in your expertise, when you narrow in your focus of going, man, it’s like, I know when I wanna talk about anything X, Y, and Z, who to go to, right?
AJV (09:01):
Because I know that they are a deep expert in it. They are read up. They are ready to share and provide value that happens when you choose something that has a more narrowed focus and it gives you more opportunity to provide value. So back to that, it’s like talking about a narrow focus gives you more to say, not less to say. And I love that. And David actually said in our conversation, he said, an author is just someone who uses a book to force you, the author, to think about what you have to say. He said, that’s the power of writing a book on a narrow focus is that you spend all this time trying to say a lot about a little versus saying a little about a lot. It’s like, go deep in a subject matter, not wide go deep, right? But an author’s goal is to figure out how do I have enough to say about this narrow focus that I can fill 200, 250 pages of words that are about this singular thing?
AJV (10:04):
So you have to learn how to say a whole bunch about a little, right? A a generalist says a little about a lot. An expert says a lot about a little. And that same thing could go, you don’t have to be an author to do that. Speaker a blogger a content creator for social media. It doesn’t matter, but it’s honing in that focus. And the gist of this really comes down to you have to be willing to talk about what you have to say in order for you to figure out what you actually have to say. There is an art and a practice of the more you write about it, the more you talk about it, the more you learn about it, the more you read about it, the more you research it, you figure out, you distill, right? You filter through all of this stuff for you to figure out, this is what I actually have to say.
AJV (10:59):
And the more that you do that, you are positioning yourself of being a true expert. And the more that you do that you can charge more and have fewer clients, which means you can have more time to expand on other things that you have passion and interest in. So back to the topic at hand, it’s like how do you build your consulting practice By positioning your expertise is you become known for one thing. And that’s because your branding is, your branding is aligned, your conversation is aligned, your clients are aligned, your service offerings are aligned with a narrow focus. ’cause You don’t have to be a big firm to make a lot of money, and you don’t have to have millions of followers to make millions of dollars. Being a small firm, being a solopreneur is not a bad thing. It’s the right thing
AJV (11:53):
For the right person. So you don’t have to go big to be really, really good
AJV (12:00):
At what you do.