Hey, one of the things that we find that our clients struggle with a lot is just, you know, getting new clients, right? I mean, building a personal brand is exciting. Having a message is exciting, but there’s a big difference between having a message and having an audience and making money. And so one of the people that I’m honored to introduce you to today is bill Cates. So I’ve known bill for years. We actually met through a group at the national speakers association called the million dollar speakers group. So he has run multiple successful enterprises over the years and, and it’s been, you know, decades that he’s been in this space. He’s actually a hall of Famer a hall of fame in the hall that speaking professional speaking hall of fame. He’s also a certified speaking professional. He’s the author of many different books or I guess three, three books.
I think this is your, this is your fourth book is actually my sixth book. But that’s cool. Six book. Yeah, he’s cranking them out. But so historically Bill taught referrals, right? He is one of the, the, the most recognized thought leaders in the space of referrals. But his new book caught my attention. It’s called radical relevance. And so it’s more about sharpening your, your marketing message, cutting through the noise and winning more ideal clients. So I think he has adapted a lot of his expertise here in this book. Radical relevance to I think very much a modern approach to how business is being done. So anyways, bill, welcome to the show, man.
Thank you Rory. I appreciate it. Always good to see you.
Yeah. So let’s start with the radical relevance concept, right? Like, so that’s, you know, I think that’s a, that’s a pretty catchy concept. Can you explain exactly what do you mean by radical relevance?
Yeah. So a couple things. First of all, I believe we live in a, a radically relevant world. And what I mean by that is that our prospects are inundated by messages, right? The beauty of the internet has made it easy to get our message out. And, and the double edged sword is that because everybody’s getting their message out, nobody’s getting their message out. Right? So it’s that people are a deluge by messages. And so we’ve got to find a way to cut through all that. And if you look at the way the world is moving, I mean, relevance has always been important. Anytime anyone tries to influence someone else, you gotta be relevant. But look at Google. Google is built on relevance, right? You start to type in a message and you’re two words into the seven word search and it already knows what you’re looking for. Amazon bought this book. You, you want to buy this book, et cetera. Everything is about relevance. There’s even you know billboards on the, on the side of the road that,
Well, yeah, like the bud, the bud light. I’ve seen the beer where they do like hyperlocal marketing. Like, Hey, Nashville. Yeah. Or, Hey Titans fans will, they know based
On ways and Google maps and all those, you know, a map functions. They know the demographics of who’s driving by the sign and everything get any given part of the day. And so they, the, they adjust the message for who their market is at that moment. Some billboards even have pollen sensors in them, so they detect when the pollen count gets to a certain level, it automatically triggers a ads for allergy medicines in the local pharmacies. So we live in a world where the way to get through is to be really, really focused and to have the right markets selected and not that, you know, to be all things to all people and everybody knows about having the right market. And that’s kind of the target. We’ve got to have a target. But we also gotta have the bullseye. The bullseye on the target is what I like to call the right fit client.
Now people probably heard the term persona or avatar or ideal clients, pretty much the sure thing who you are meant to serve, who was meant to be served by you, who appreciates your value for all the reasons you want them to appreciate the value. It’s kind of the, you know, the, the your business soulmate, if you will, is your right fit client. And so the more narrow we can go, the more relevant our messaging becomes. And one of the mistakes I found, there’s a lot of people, you know, in an effort to kind of include a little more, to not exclude this group or this group. They make their message a little broader. Well what does it do? It actually diffuses the effectiveness of the message. So that’s what I mean by being radically relevant.
So I want to talk to you about that for a second. Cause I think that, you know, this is something we walk clients through is, is identifying their core target audience and getting really clear on that. And in every scenario, every single time we do this, there is like this emotional bond that people have to, you know, the, the, the world at large that they feel like there’s somehow, you know, they’re disserving people and they’re, you know, not being inclusive and there. So how do you get over the emotional side of this?
Yeah, that’s, and that is the toughest. And some of it’s based on fear in the, in the fear is if I just work on this group, this segment of the market, I’m going to miss all this opportunity. And the truth is, if you pick the right market, yeah, you’ll miss this opportunity, but you’ll be so successful here and help these people so much better than if you’re the fuse. You won’t even notice that you’re missing that. So part of it’s fear based, part of it is you’re right. Just that emotional attachment to your message and wanting to help as many people as you possibly can. However, the problem or the fallacy with Adam mistaken thinking is that if you don’t come up with the right messaging that’s going to attract the right people, you’re not going to be helping anybody. You’re going to be helping actually fewer people then what you want to do.
So what you can do over time is you can develop more than one target market. You can develop more. One bullseye someone just starting out probably doesn’t want to try that. You want to start with, with your, with your strongest position. But over time you can do that. I’ve done that with my business in a number of ways over the years. You just, but for instance, a website’s a good way to think about this. If someone comes to your website and you’re, you’ve got a message that’s trying to serve like three different masters, right? Three different types of visitors, then everything’s going to be, it’s going to be too much. You’re probably gonna use too many words. People are going to get confused. What we want people to see when they get to our website is that we know them, that we get them, that we understand them.
Empathy is huge in this, right? And it’s hard to do that on a website unless you help them self identify. So for instance, on my website I have three personas, three avatars of people who are coming to my site. One is corporate folks who bring me in to speak at conferences and do training and our video training and all that. And I have individuals, individuals, solo preneurs, individual salespeople, reps, advisors who also looked for the content we have. And other people are planning a meeting and they want a speaker. And so what I do is I have them self-identify who they are. They click on that appropriate link and then everything that they are given, all the messaging is geared towards them. So you can have more than one, but you got to treat each one differently and separately. So
Do you think that by narrowing the market, like narrowing this focus is sort of like, you know, that saying the riches are in the niches, do you think that you make more money by serving fewer people or do you think that you actually are serving more people? It’s like you’re, you’re, you’re reaching us a bigger percentage of a smaller pie rather than a smaller percentage of a bigger pie.
Yeah, that’s a hard question to answer because it’s probably gonna depend a lot on, on the niche, the market you go after. What I do know is that you’re going to bring more value because not just perceived value because you have the right message, but real value because you’re actually going to know them better. You’re going to go deeper and wider and you’re gonna, you may come in with a certain level of expertise, but as you serve those people, you’re going to learn about other problems they have and you’re going to help him solve this problem, this problem that creates a new problem or new opportunity. That’s why I wrote the book because I was helping people generate more referrals and introductions and that borrowed trust would get them in front of more people and the borrowed trust would carry them a certain distance into the new relationship, but eventually they had to build their own trust and they have to have the right messaging and the right a trust-building mechanism.
And that’s what radical relevance does. It takes a deeper with my clients. And that’s the same thing in any niche. As you get to know the niche better. Now you may just decide to serve a sub niche niche within that niche, which is just the high most successful companies in an industry, let’s say. And there may not be a lot of those, but you get really deep in them and there’s a lot of opportunity there. And you serve them really deeply. So it’s hard to say. You could end up serving more people. You’re gonna end up serving fewer. One thing I know for sure is you’re going to serve them better.
That’s value. Yeah. I mean it’s interesting if I, if I use me and Aja as a case study, you know with brand builders group, it’s like, you know, we’re under somewhere underneath the topic of business and then some are underneath the topic of business you’d have like sales and marketing. Our former company, you know, that we exited, used to do sales. So now it’s like we’re somewhere under marketing. And then under marketing you would have branding and then under branding you would have personal branding and then under personal branding you would have like specific niches. And it’s like this company in our first full calendar year, we have gotten in to the same revenue point as what has taken us five or six years in previous endeavors. But our niche is so narrow.
It is. And what, what, what’s happening is your, the way you’re messaging your value, the way you’re talking about what you do. And who you do it for. It resonates so well with the right people that it attracts the right people to you. I hate to use this word, but it repels the rest. In other words, some people say, all right, that’s not for me. And that’s what you want, right? You want people to identify very quickly to see that you understand them. And now thank God we live in a large country and in the great big world that there are enough of those people there that allows you to create a very robust business. I mean, it’s possible to select and go so fine tune that there aren’t enough people in that niche to sustain a business. So that obviously has to be considered.
But it’s pretty hard to do that. Well, that’s pretty hard to do that like in the world we live in and how connected. But it’s funny you say that because like our vision is what we call a thousand messengers. And so our, our core offering, right, is that we, we work with people, we see them four times a year. They talk to a strategist every month. They get virtual trainings for us, that’s like our, our signature program. It’s called pro quarterly. And we know like our vision is we want to just a thousand people. Like we only need a, a thousand is a, is a huge business for us. That is, you know, more than what we would ever need. And it’s only a thousand people out of however many, 8 billion on the planet. So you don’t need to reach millions and millions necessarily. And I think, I think that’s what a lot of our clients, you know, they see Tony Robbins, they see Lewis house, they see Oprah, they see, you know, even even like Bernay Brown in the Simon cynics and they go, Oh, I want to do that. I want to reach millions of people. And you know, they’re, they’re stepping over probably the likelihood of having a very wonderful income by just finding a narrow, narrow focus in just really serving those people at a high level.
And it doesn’t mean they can’t get, eventually get to that point, but to get from here to there, you know, you don’t do it in one step. And if you find that niche, you find that target market, you Excel at that and you create those, those thousand raving fans, if you will, then there are other opportunities will open up and you can start to leverage that great will that you have with those people and create more opportunities. You just have to take it one step at a time. Another way to think about this for the folks who really just love serving as many people as they possibly can understand, especially if you’re in a B2B kind of situation or even a B to C can work. You know, if by you serving whoever your client is, remember that by helping them be better at whatever it is that you do, you’re serving other people, you’re serving the people they come in contact with. So for instance, I’ve been helping affirm who does peer groups with a CEOs. And so they know when they help the CEOs come to the peer group and, and get better and become better leaders, they’re impacting all the employees and all those companies
Are being impacted. Oh, I see what you’re saying.
Right. So there’s a, there’s a follow on effect or benefit. If you’re serving an individual and you help them become a better individual, whatever it is you do that makes them better, you’re impacting their family, you’re impacting their friends. So, you know, I don’t think that the impact you have just stays with that one client. It really impacts a lot of people. And when you think that way, you realize you really are affecting a lot of people.
Yeah. Like consider the indirect impact that you’re making. That’s really good. That that’s a cause. I think a lot of this is just an emotional, it’s a fear. It’s a, Oh my gosh, I can’t narrow like I need to, I need to reach more people. And there’s various reasons why. So, and I think if you get this right, like if you nail the audience, it’s exactly what you said, you, you, you’ll, you will serve them better. So how do you know which audience is the right audience to go deep on? Right. Cause it’s like this is you know, this is a part of in our, what we call our phase one experience, we call it, you know, finding your unique Randy and ne is going, you’ve got to find your audience. And it’s like there’s all these different audiences you could serve,
How do you pick the one or like what’s the criteria you use to say, well this is the one I’m going to attack or you know, or,
And my answer to that is going to be a little bit of my own personal experience. It’s a little bit trial and error. It’s, it’s rare that someone comes into a and immediately knows exactly what their message is and who it’s for. And as the perfect flow. I mean, some people probably do that. Sometimes it’s based on what you did before you came into this new business. You know, what other industry you worked in, what contacts you have. There’s a lot of that that goes into it. You know, that natural market, some people call it. So for instance, in my own business, I’ve been at this for over 25 years. When I sold my second book publishing company and decided to get into coaching and training and speaking, I knew the printing industry because I bought printing, I sold printing. So that was my natural place to start.
And so I knew what to say to those people to help them, et cetera. But I eventually outgrew that industry a little bit. The profit margins are low, et cetera, et cetera. And I was looking for the next thing. And so sometimes [inaudible] we have to take action looking for the clarity, right? We can’t always wait for perfect clarity to take action because if we do, we may never take action. And so we just act and we, and we, and we deliver our value to different groups and we see the resonance. So in my particular case, when I wrote my first book on referrals and I had an opportunity to speak with some financial professionals, financial advisors, it was like immediately love it for a site, for both of us. Right? Cause they, they wanted what I taught, I believe in the value that they brought to their clients.
And I always tell my staff that when we’re helping these financial advisors and planners help their clients, you know, we’re, we’re helping a lot of people get their financial house in order and it’s very important for everybody to do that. So that was like the perfect match and it’s expanded a little bit since then. I do a lot of different types of professional services now, but that’s, I w I was doing what I was doing, looking for the right match. You, you, you might not know it sitting in a seminar, you know, you know, you bring tremendous value to your clients, but a lot of it just getting out and do it and see how who had resonates with,
Well, I think that’s, that’s a, I think that’s an interesting insight is it’s like don’t wait for the clarity to come before you take action, take action. Knowing that the clarity will come. Mmm. As you walked down the path.
Yeah. Looking for the clarity. I mean, when I, I knew I wanted to write a book but I didn’t know what I wanted to do on, I knew I wanted to go deeper into a topic. I was kind of a generic sales speaker and I’d like to prospecting, but I didn’t know it. And then eventually, too long of a story to tell here. But this idea of referrals and introductions hit me and it like resonated immediately. So it’s like I was acting, doing my thing, looking for the clear vision. Now you’ve got to have a certain amount of clarity. You won’t do anything right now and you give that to your clients. Right. But you don’t have to be perfectly crystal clear. It doesn’t have to all be figured out. You got to take action.
Yeah. It’s, it’s, it’s sort of like, you know, come up with something that’s like 80% right. You know, or 70% in a, and then just start walking towards the direction and then figure it out. Now as you were talking, I’m actually coming up with my own little checklist. Here it is, is going okay. How do you find your right audience? You know, one thing would be going, okay, what do I have? W who do I w who do I have knowledge to serve? Another is like you said, who do you have relationships with? I think another one would be what audiences do I have access to? Right. That was one of the things about brand builders group where it was like, you know, we’ve been serving salespeople for so many years, but it was like, I know so many people in this space and Aja knew so many people in this space of authors and speakers.
It was just like, gosh, this is an audience that we have access to. That’s, and, and, and, and then also like there’s a need, like who has the need that aligns with your expertise? Those are some of the clues. But so anyways, I want to, I want to, I want to come back to something directly in, in the book. So in chapter three, well the title of chapter three is the neuroscience of relevance. Mmm. I want to talk about this cause this is interesting to me because I think when we hear relevance are we here niche? Are we here target audience, we think of marketing strategy or like brand speak or like business best practice. But I thought this conversation is fascinating. What does the, how does neuroscience affect this? The context of what we’re talking about here?
Yeah, it affects it intimately in a lot of different ways. And you know, the way I think and the way I structured the book was there are certain principles that that that should guide us. Marketing principles, principles based on how the brain works. And so I start off with the principles and then from there we derive the strategies. And then from the right strategy, we tried to strategies, we derived the tactics. The problem most people do is they go straight to the tactics, right? And, and if something’s not working, they look for a new tactic. But it could be a flawed strategy or it could be based on it just a flawed belief or principle in the first place. So with that as kind of a, an umbrella to this conversation I, I wanted to learn how the brain works because I know the more we can understand how the brains of our prospects work in our own brains for that matter, the more we can tailor the message properly.
And there’s a couple of quick things I’ll give you the [inaudible] from that chapter. One is just understanding what the brain’s main function is, which is to keep the organism alive, which is to conserve energy, to conserve calories. That’s the brain is designed to do that. And so whenever you come with a message for your business, that might be a little too clever, a little confusing, a little convoluted. The brain goes, Oh, confusing. It takes more energy. I don’t want to go there. And it’s not relevant. It’s not perceived as relevant. It’s almost perceived as a threat and it moves on. And so that’s why we know that the brain craves clarity. Now it doesn’t mean we can’t use cleverness sometimes and headlines and how we’ve discussed what we do, but it better get into the brain immediately if you could. I use it as a kind of a back to the billboard scenario.
It’s like if you’re driving down the road and the billboard has a message and it’s 30 seconds later, you finally get the clever message, it’s on the billboard. Well it didn’t do its job. It’s too late cause she missed the exit, right? And so it’s got to resonate quickly and that’s what the brain is looking for. The brain is also a scanning six times a second. That’s pretty fast. Am I safe? Where am I? Am I safe? Am I safe? And then three times a second is, is there an opportunity? So the brain loves an opportunity, but only if it feels safe. Well guess what? No wonder most marketing messages that are most effective start with what’s the problem? I understand your problem. I know you have this problem. And then there’s an opportunity that comes from that. So that’s how we structure our messaging based on how the brain works.
There’s one more real quick, it’s a concept called [inaudible]. So hold on one second. You said, you said it’s six times a second. The brain is asking the question, am I safe? And then three times, three times a second, the brain is saying, is there an opportunity? Exactly. And, and the brain is built for opportunity. It loves opportunity, but only when it feels safe, it’s subservient to safety. It is. Absolutely. Because what happens is it’s like the, the reptilian brain is just looking say, am I safe? I’m safe. If it’s fear-based, right? Am I safe? I’m gonna say once it feels safe, that’s when the cerebral cortex can start to come into play and thought can start to come into play and aspirations for things we want to accomplish. Start to come into play, but only when the organism feels safe. And so, you know, no one, this sort of stuff really directs how we talk about our value, right?
How we message it, the questions we asked, you know, how we display empathy for our prospects situation, so will resonate with them. The other one real quick is called cognitive and fluency. And what it says is, let’s say if someone goes to your website and your website is a little convoluted, it’s not as clear as it should be. Everybody’s always saying, well, when you look at my website, you know where it’s under construction. Yeah, I get it. Everybody’s website is always under construction, under construction, but if it’s, if it’s lacking a certain amount of clarity, the brain is going to immediately make the leap that this is confusing, confusing. To me, dealing with that company is going to be complicated. It just makes that immediate leap. And so the clearer and simpler we can make all our messages, all our steps, everything that we convey to people, the easier it is for people to take that path to us. Otherwise the brain will just say no too much. Which again, to me, all of that is sort a natural byproduct
Of narrowing the niche. Because if you narrow the niche, like you automatically are speaking to a specific subset of people and they quickly go, Oh, this is for me. Or they quickly go, this is not for me. Exactly. That’s what we want. We want them to say, this is for me, this is not for me. And if they say this is for me, we’ve earned the right to a few more seconds of their attention. Yeah. It’s just slowly pull them through. That is so interesting. Thinking about brand builders group, again, just as a, as an example of we have co clients because you know, my background, I come more from like the corporate world and speaking and stuff. We have people going, Hey, can you help our company do branding? And it’s like, no, we don’t do that. Like we don’t do company logos. We don’t, we, we, we work with personalities, we work with people.
And then you know, that definitive decision is really, you have to have discipline to make a decision and especially to follow through cause. Cause here’s the other thing that happens. Bill, is like our clients say, all right, I’m going to serve this audience. I’m going to go in this direction. And then all of a sudden one client shows up and waves a little money at them and says, Hey, I, and, and that’s a real issue too, right? It’s like, we gotta pay the bills, but agent, I had this conversation the other day, pretty soon we’re going to be free to get back into the world of sales training. Like, you know, R, R, w, w we’ll just, we’ll, we’ll be able to do that, but we’re probably won’t. But she gets calls every day of some like some of the, Hey, you know, we need help, our sales team needs help.
And we’re just like, Nope. But, but that, that money is super enticing to pull you off track. Well, and that’s where you’re forming an Alliance with someone who can, who can serve the client, and you make the introduction and maybe you make some money out of that. Maybe you just create some Goodwill, but either way the client gets served and, and you can say, no, and, and I get it. Look, we’ve all been the place where, you know, we’re attracted by the money, especially when we’re getting started. And, and I, I’d say that sometimes there may be a reason to do that, but first of all, if somebody comes with a big check and you’re able to serve them and do a good job, you don’t want to take it. If you can’t do a great job, there can, can possibly could be some synergy there because in that large company you might also be able to like for in your case, yeah, help it all.
A lot of their employees create their own personal brands, right? Salesforce great there. So there could be a synergy there but in all your outbound marketing and all your outbound messaging, it has to stay on focus, right? You may take your ideal to help keep things going for a little while, but, but here’s what I found. Here’s what I found about the side deal and I wonder if this is true for, for you. Like speaking is a good, the speaking business, a good example of this, right? Like some company shows up, they pay you some money to come speak to some audience outside of your core thing. It’s like w G sometimes there is a, there is a natural fit and it kind of makes sense. Sometimes you have to do it financially and you just go that this is not a longterm strategy thing.
This is a short term desperation thing. But if you’re financially stable, what I have found is every time I’ve chased one of these, it begets more of the same. And so it’s like, it takes you further and further off the path that you are on. Yup. It’s, it’s true. And, and and your [inaudible] probably going to spend more time trying to serve this company or person that’s not quite in your niche, so it’s not going to be as profitable. You’re probably not going to be as good. I mean, there wasn’t a time when I did, I took anything. Anybody, you know, put it in the just, that’s what happens. Yeah. But it’s a sign of neediness, right? It’s not an abundance mentality for sure. And, but I, I’m never as good when I take something outside my main focus. I won’t take a speaking engagement or training engagement if I feel really good that I can do a great job for these people.
And then I also don’t have to spend, you know, triple time trying to figure out their business and, and, and do the right thing for them. Cause I don’t want to do a half ass job. Right. And so, right. It’s an abundance mentality and sometimes it takes working with someone like you and your firm and your coaches to stay on track, right. To not be teased by that. You know, one of my first mentors in this business, a guy named David Rich out of South Carolina, he says, it’s like a garden hose, right? It’s this shooting, this fountain of energy of this water that’s going out. But if you start taking this little over here or this little idea and a little pinpricks right into the garden hose and then the water starts to sprays that and then the water coming out again isn’t as strong.
And so we just have to be careful with all those distractions. Easier said than done. I know. Yeah. Well. I think it, I th I think it, I think it really is. So one list kind of off topic question, but Mmm. It’s relevant and then we’ll kind of what kind of land the plane. A lot of, a lot of our audience, we know they are people who have the, the desire to do paid speaking [inaudible] and just being that you’ve been in the industry and you know, you’re in the speaking hall of fame, what is, what is some of the advice and, and speaking to relevance, right? Like the industry has changed dramatically even in the last five or 10 years, let alone 20 years. The, what’s the advice that you would give to somebody who’s saying, gosh, you know what? I really do want to pursue the profession of paid speaking. You know, what, what do you, what would you tell them? Well, there’s
So much, but a few things. First of all, be very clear on what the problem it is you the solve, right? Do you solve a problem that people want solved? Right? You’re going to be much more successful, much more quickly solving problems than you are helping people hit aspirational goals. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with hitting aspirational goals. That’s a great thing to do. But usually if someone has a goal and aspiration to, to go somewhere, do something at the heart of that is actually a problem, right? They don’t like where they are. They don’t like something right now. And so we got to know what problem do we solve. And then, you know, what’s the result of that transformation? That’s one thing. Another thing is you gotta be, you gotta be really good at, at, at doing what you do and conveying your message.
And you know, everybody thinks they’re pretty good as a speaker and most people don’t really work on their craft. You know, I have a certain natural ability, but that only carries me so far. I’ve worked with coaches, I practice, I hate practicing what I practice to get better and better. And you’ve got it. You’ve gotta be willing to do that and pay the dues, if you will, in terms of building that craft as a, as a speaker. And then the treat it like a business. You know, it’s, most people in this business don’t make very, because they don’t treat it like a business. They they don’t have a business mindset. And, and I guess the final thing as we approached the the landing strip is, is you got to get good at talking about your value, you, you in, in a way that isn’t arrogant, but in a way that displays confidence. There’s a fine line I think between arrogance and confidence and we know people that have both, but your clients need the feel that confidence coming from you, right? It’s okay to be humble and modest and I’m a pretty modest kind of guy, but at the right time, I’ve got to turn on that confidence and people have to see that. And so that’s part of the sales process, right? Of just showing up with confidence and making confident recommendations to move someone along in that process.
Yeah. Well, I love it. The book is called radical relevance. Bill, where do you want people to go if they want to get connected with you and, and stay in touch.
Thank you. I appreciate it. So a radical relevance book.com radical relevance book.com will, that’s the page for the book. You’ll learn about the book, see if it’s a good match for you, see if it resonates with you. And then my main website is referral coach.com referral coach.com and a lot of free resources. There are a lot of ways to get into my world to see if I can bring any value to you. I appreciate it.
Absolutely love it. There you have it. My friends the one and only it’ll Kate’s and talking about narrowing the niche. What a great conversation. Well, bill, thanks for being here, my friend, and as always, we wish you the best.
Thank you Rory.