Digital Marketing Strategy: How to Ignite Growth in Your Agency with David Baker

Are you looking for a more effective strategy for growth?

Would you like to hear from a guy who’s analyzed over 700 marketing services firms to figure out what works the best?

Of course you would, and today, that is exactly what I’ve got for you.

In this episode of the Bright Ideas podcast, I’m joined by David Baker of Recourses, Inc. David speaks 30+ times a year and has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Fast Company, Inc. Magazine, Forbes, and many more. He is also the author of Financial Management of a Marketing Firm.

Suffice to say, when it comes to running a marketing agency, David is without question one of the thought leaders in the space.

In this interview, you are going to hear David and I talk about:

  • The top 3 problems that people seek his help to solve
  • How to cause growth to occur at your firm (more prospecting isn’t the answer)
  • The major shift that has taken place in selling and how to adapt
  • The step that most principles neglect when pursuing growth
  • The #1 reason why, as firm grow, profit margins decrease and what to do to stop it

This was a fantastic interview, and I’m sure you are going to love it!

More About This Episode

The Bright Ideas podcast is the podcast for business owners and marketers who want to discover how to use online marketing and sales automation tactics to massively grow their business.

It’s designed to help marketing agencies and small business owners discover which online marketing strategies are working most effectively today – all from the mouths of expert entrepreneurs who are already making it big.

Watch Now

Leave some feedback:

Connect with Trent Dyrsmid:

About David Baker

davidbakerDavid is the leading management consultant to the creative services industry. His work has been featured in the Wall Street JournalUSA TodayFast CompanyInc.Forbes, CBS Business Network, MarketingProfs, and Business Week. He has spoken at every major conference in the field and written for every major publication. He owned a marketing firm for 6 years, and has consulted with 650+ firms since March 1994.

Digital Marketing Strategy: How to Get More Retainer Clients with Mark Sneider

Do you want to discover how to get more retainer clients for your marketing agency?

Did you realize that more retainer income will not only make your business run smoother, but it will also significantly increase its value?

Retainers are where it’s at, and, with the right strategy, you can increase retainer fee income.

In today’s episode, I interview Mark Sneider, President of RSWUS.

In this interview, you are going to hear Mark and I talk about:

  • the biggest opportunities that he sees for agencies in 2013
  • how agencies can increase their recurring revenue from retainers
  • how to get started with an inbound marketing campaign
  • how to automate your inbound marketing
  • and so much more…

More About This Episode

The Bright Ideas podcast is the podcast for business owners and marketers who want to discover how to use online marketing and sales automation tactics to massively grow their business.

It’s designed to help marketing agencies and small business owners discover which online marketing strategies are working most effectively today – all from the mouths of expert entrepreneurs who are already making it big.

Watch Now

Leave some feedback:

Connect with Trent Dyrsmid:


An Interview with Mark Sneider

Trent Dyrsmid: Hi there Bright Idea hunters! Welcome to the Bright Idea podcast. I’m your host, Trent Dyrsmid. And this is the podcast for business owners and marketers who want to understand how to use online marketing and sales automation to massively boost their business.

And on the show with me today is the fellow by the name of Mark Sneider and we’re gonna have an in-depth conversation specifically geared to agencies and some strategies and tactics that Mark uses with his clients to help them grow their business. So Mark is a 25 year veteran of the consumer packaged good and advertising and marketing and services industries here. And he’s MBA from the J Kellogs school of Business at Northwestern where he majored in marketing and economics. And he now runs a firm called RSWUS. Mark, thanks very much for making the time. Welcome to the show.

Mark Sneider: Great! Thanks Trent, happy to be here.

T: So for folks who are listening to this who maybe don’t yet know who you are, please tell us just briefly who are you and what is it that you do.

M: As you mentioned I’m Mark Sneider. In 2005 I started a business exclusively focused on helping agencies when they business. And so our sole purpose is really to help marketing service firms of any type or size find a good qualified opportunities that fit within their sweet spot where their core strengths lie and set the table for them, make sure they’re adequately prepared going into these meetings. And then where we can help them move those opportunities closer to close by coaching and counseling them. Giving them perspective that they may not otherwise have. Often times agencies operate in somewhat above a vacuum and not really fully understanding kind of what makes them different in the eyes of the marketers that they’re reaching out to. And so we see a big part of our world as being kind of that objective set of eyes that deals with lots of different agencies of all types and sizes and can provide some good perspective that can help these agencies better position themselves and better move through the new business pipeline.

T: I know when I was running my technology services firm you’re so head down in writing your to do list everyday and emails everyday. It’s very very easy to lose that kind of higher level objectivity to see hey, is my act sharp? Am I chopping down the right trees? Am I even in the right forest? So it sounds like you’re uniquely positioned to help agencies get a better view and ultimately get better results. So with that in mind I wanna really talk about opportunities that you see and then I’m gonna ask you some questions about some of the things, some of the actual tactics that agencies can use, they can listen to this interview and then they can use some of these tactics to help their business move forward. So for 2013 and I read I think you did a survey, I don’t remember the name of the survey off the top of my head but it was a fairly lengthy and detailed survey and there’s lot of good info and I’ll make sure I’ll put a link to it in the post where this interview is, but you talked about opportunities for 2013. So where do you see some of the biggest opportunities for agencies to pursue in the coming year?

M: You know I mean obviously the social digital space is growing and changing day away. Marketers seem to be getting more sappy in terms of their understanding of how they should be playing in the space but there’s still a lot that’s not understood on the marketers’ side.

T: Give an example.

M: Well just think it really will stand to not understanding how to strategically make the right choices and play in the right spaces, okay. And there are lots of tactics out there and there are lots of things that come and go that are hot but agencies that can stand up and help their clients will get the opportunities more broadly. Help them understand how to effectively integrate online marketing with offline tactics. And then I think the other challenge and opportunity that the challenge as marketers are also being pressed the better to justify their expense in the social and digital space. And so it’s those agencies that come to the table and showcase their ability to provide the analytics.

We represented an agency that ultimately won the Jack in the Box business and they won that business and large part because they were able to help Jack in the Box take the step back and understand where the consumers were gathering their information how they ought to be playing in those specific spaces. They had an offline agency that was doing a fine job for them but wasn’t doing a good job of integrating with social and digital so they were looking for this new agency to help them establish that integration. And then they were also short on the analytics and understanding how to monitor the social space and make that data actionable for their business.

So I think that marketers are becoming savvier because of knowing the right kinds of questions to ask agencies and I think the agency, it’s not just the agency that isn’t playing in the social and digital space with a great deal of depth that that risk today. It’s agency that isn’t looking at it more broadly and strategically to help the client effectively operate in that space and integrate with offline. And then also understand how to measure the effectiveness and respond to these measurements on going.

T: So what I’m hearing you say is one of the biggest opportunities is if you run an agency and you’re not yet big in the digital space, you’re not actively pursuing social media services to your clients, and then giving the deliverables so the measurements, the metrics that you can get, because everything that happens online, the beauty of it is it all happens with clicks and whenever you get clicks there’s a ton of data that you can get. Coz I know I use this on my business. You can very easily see your campaigns this was working this wasn’t working.

M: Right exactly.

T: With that in mind which services, coz I know one of the things and I might be jumping ahead of my questions but that’s okay, one of the things that I read in a report from hubspot was one of the biggest challenges that agencies face is unpredictable revenue. And of course one of the easiest ways to solve that is to get retainer income. So what are some of the services that you think hold that the agencies listening to us may or may not be delivering but probably should be delivering and could be generating recurring revenue for delivering those services?

M: That’s a tough one. I think it’s specific services.

T: Like content creation or social media management or those that I’m kinda thinking.

M: Social media management is fine. It’s certainly establishes kind of reoccurring presence of that agency within that client’s space. The challenge with that is it is overhead intensive for the agency. They need staff to support their clients so it certainly is a good entree. It’s a good way of establishing some sort of reoccurring sustainable relationship. I think that, I don’t know that there is kind of one thing that agencies can necessarily offer to guarantee kind of that on-going retainer relationship other than becoming more of the service sort of the lead agency that’s kind of guiding the overall strategy and developing consistently new campaigns and so forth.

T: What if an agency went to their client and they said “I don’t know exactly what campaigns and what strategies will provide you the results that you need but I know exactly how to find out what campaigns and strategies and that’s accomplished by it seems thru split testing an a b and all that kind of thing”.

M: Sure.

T: Coz I had a conversation with Jay Baer. I think I interviewed him about a week ago from and probably most of the people listening to this may know who Jay is. And that was one of the questions that I asked him and I thought that was a great answer because it shifted the burden or the risk of how long is it gonna take. If I’m the client how long is it gonna take this agency to figure out thru all these testing that they’re gonna do of various landing pages and ways of driving traffic and content generation. How long is it gonna take them to find out what really works for me. Well if I agree to have them on retainer that’s their risk and I know what my costs are gonna be and therefore they’d become more of a partner to me. Do you think that’s, to me that seems like it would be like a good conversation to have, is that something that?

M: Yeah I mean that sure, I think that’s fine. I think it’s one piece of the whole puzzle. Split testing and your a b testing and your social media management, I mean certainly it’s an important part of it but it’s one piece of it. So I think it’s the value that an agency can bring to a client is much bigger than I can figure out how to find the right message within the digital and social space that’s I think much bigger than that which is let me show you how to make all of these elements work effectively for you and consistently for you. Because it isn’t just about digital and social that ultimately is gonna drive every business. Yeah I think it’s a fine entry point and I think it’s a good conversation to have but it’s not necessarily the be all end all for every single client and I think that again I think that the challenges are much broader than just how do you message in the social space. It’s how do you become integral part of your consumers’ lifestyle in every weight of connection with that consumer. And that is the social and how you’re messaging and how you’re touching them at each decision point along that process but it’s also how do other platforms you did into what’s happening in the digital space and vice versa.

Personally I think while the content management component of this and the social component of it are important and that’s where consumers are controlling the conversation. You gotta be there and you gotta be a lead in that. You can’t be so far wrapped up in that and so concerned about that that you lose sight of other things that are going on in the conversation outside of that social space. So I think that smart agencies are gonna be those agencies that not only can bring that expertise on the table socially but can also help those clients that more broadly about their consumer and how they live and how to best connect with them at any given touch point.

T: So kind of the difference between tactics and then strategies?

M: Yes I think that it is that and I think being able to stay ahead of the curve in terms of what’s current for its value. I think the more an agency can convince a client that they understand the broad implications of not just how social and digital operate and how we need to play their massive share but again how that affects and how it interfaces what other elements of what they’re doing. And that isn’t just taking it one step further. It’s not just the marketing space but it’s the sales space and it’s the taking it to an extreme. But it’s the internal communication and how your ambassadors from within your organization embrace that. So yeah I mean it’s an important part of the whole social piece of it and it’s certainly that agencies need to be on top of it but I think that there are lots of agencies out there.

I just got off the phone with a social digital agency client of ours who was approached by a prospect and asked. I have social and digital agencies calling me all the time and they’re all claiming all the things that were just talking about here in terms of a b testing and all that kind of good stuff. But tell me in a one page powerpoint slide what makes your agency different. What other things can you bring to the table that can help me as a client know that you guys are thinking bigger than just this one piece of the puzzle. That’s not diminishing the importance of social but we can’t get so wrapped up in the social space to think that that’s all there is and that’s what’s gonna knowing that as an agency is what’s gonna help me set myself apart long term.

T: So there’s a kind of thought that comes to mind as I’m listening to you because if again I remember running my company when it came time to building a business we had to have a way to get our foot in the door but if you’re trying to sell everything in the beginning it’s like way too much of a conversation. So the concept of helping, coz there’s these tactics to get you to the door and the buzz these days is definitely social and I think to a great degree content marketing as well which I don’t so much see as social but it’s more about thought leadership. And I know that in my research on you one of the things that I think you’re trying to do and you could correct me if I’m wrong is through your ongoing blogging creates some thought leadership and wouldn’t it make sense then that if agencies want to be able to talk about the big picture with their new clients or yeah I would say their new clients coz that’s so much of a conversation to have with a brand new client, if they’re starting to put some time and effort into that thought leadership won’t that position them well.

Coz you just said with the agencies what makes you different than all these other agencies, if someone’s been reading your blog and you’re writing really great content that demonstrates that you have skills, experience and expertise in that area I gotta think that because when people buy stuff whatever it is they’re gonna buy there’s a certain number of questions they wanna get answers to before they buy it. And I know in my experience you can knock a lot of those questions through simply having a blog and sharing really great quality content coz people will consume it and they’ll go “oh that agency’s pretty smart with respect with strategy and branding and so forth because I’ve been reading about it.”

M: Sure sure. Yeah without question I mean the programs that we manage in RSW part of these programs is constructing what we call VA or value added email program. Most agencies are not really good at developing their own content and the old cupboards children syndrome where they do a great job of making the shoes for their clients but pretty crappy job of doing it for themselves. So we try and develop content for agencies to help position them as thought leaders in their space but the space that we’re typically choosing is not necessarily expert in the digital social space. That could be a component of it but it’s an expert in the sector or industry that we’re going after. So it’s an understanding of the trends and issues facing that industry and it’s an understanding of the consumer that operates in that space and how to best connect with those consumers coz marketers wanna know that you get them and that you are a thought leader in their world but obviously they also wanna know that you have the skill sets tactically and strategically to be able to kinda carry them forward.

So what we do in RSW is we talk about thought leadership or we basically give it away. We try and help agencies create better business programs for themselves. So we talk about tactics and strategies and we showcase an understanding of the issues going on in the space. And so we try and employ the same strategies for our clients in our program by writing content or finding interesting insights that we can share with their prospects that show them that they get it and they’ve got current and valued thinking that they can bring to the table. So clearly the content creation is an important part of building that thought leadership. Now that said you can’t just rely on that to win the day okay. Because just part of this part of the findings in the study we just completed was marketers still value traditional means for outreach by agencies and they learn about agencies via traditional means like phone and email and mailings. And so our programs and the program we employ for our own business is to integrate consistent messaging across multiple platforms whether it be mailings or phone calls or emails and sitting underneath it is the thought leadership component of it that starts with the blog but activates and then engages consumers or prospects. We don’t just let it sit.

So yeah I mean the social piece is critical. We rely on it very heavily for our programs and for our own business but I believe that a smart agency is gonna be a real value to a client if they can come in with great entry point, what you’re saying, but I would favor an agency that comes in and talks social and the value of content creation but talks about it in the context of how maybe ultimately we can help you think about how to integrate this program or this initiative across other platforms or across how to use it to better activate your sales force or help engage your internal employees or whatever. So can be a great tactic to open up a door but I think the agency that’s gonna really differentiate itself is one that can let that prospect know that they’re a bigger thinker and that they have the techniques available and the analytics available to them to effectively analyze and react and respond to what it is they’re doing.

T: One of the things that you mentioned and that Jay mentioned in my interview with him and he’s mentioned in the book The Good to Great refers to it as the hedgehog strategy. And it’s the intersection of 3 circles and the common thread was pick a specific niche. Like to say that I wanna be the best marketing agency in Houston is tough to do. But to say I wanna be or we are the best marketing agency for accounting firms in Houston someone could own that space or for biotech firms or autobody shops or whatever niche you wanna be. Do you see many agencies specially the smaller ones, are they spending too much time trying to be everything to everyone and in essence being nothing to no one? Or do you see them getting really nichy like there’s a sale cap I wanna go after just this one niche and I’m gonna own this space because it seems to me you’re gonna have a much more strategic conversation when you know the space that well. You get a lot more referrals. You get a lot more thought leadership. But they’re afraid but what if I’m just doing it for accountant what about all these other people that are just gonna magically just come and knock to my door and they’re not gonna be accountants. I might lose that business.

M: Yeah definitely. I mean the tendency is to try and be everything to everybody and you nailed it, it’s a fear of missing an opportunity. But when we manage programs for our agency clients we’re not suggesting that the agency completely change its face but we do have that agency zero in on specific spaces and really zero in on showcasing expertise within a specific single or limited multiple sectors. Because you can’t be everything to everybody. And if you try to just be a generalist agency across all sectors you’re gonna look like everybody else. So I think that the caution is getting too narrow in your focus.

We had an agency client where we were, basically the agency was zeroed in on service marketing expertise and there were certain group of sectors that we were targeting where we were targeting kind of the unique perspective of that. We brought to the table the agency and only playing in the service sector and we were very successful in opening up opportunities for this client. They hired an outside consultant to come in and evaluate kind of where they were going and the consultant recommended that they narrow their focus even more into a very specific, it was like an engineering sector or something along those lines. And the problem with that is that suddenly their universe shrunk, one, and the problem was the opportunities in terms of the dollar volume of business that presented themselves within that sector was very limited.

So yeah definitely a proponent of zeroing in and you don’t have to, you can zero in and also not be in a position where that random stray thing sort of pops in, you can take those things and still live a life of showcasing expertise and insights within specific sectors. What I mean by that is we have agencies where they play in multiple sectors but they have couple of core areas maybe in health care and finance and we will build programs and communicate to those prospects within those sectors as if those were the only areas that we operated effectively in. So there’s a way of kind of playing both worlds sort of thing but definitely you need to focus if you’re gonna be able to differentiate yourself.

T: So let’s say there’s somebody listening to this and they’re thinking “you know that kinda makes sense but I’m not ready to change my whole corporate website and make it all like I’m just gonna be the agency for accountants”. Is there any reason why they don’t have a separate website which is completely and totally geared and optimized for SEO as a matter of fact for accountants in Houston as an example? And then they’re kinda have their company branding down on the bottom and they can still have their main website but for that particular niche as they’re trying to gain traction for that niche maybe their using this other site which is still the about page is still all about their firm and their principle and so forth. Is there any reason why someone couldn’t go that approach?

M: No I mean there’s no reason why they couldn’t go that approach. I don’t know that they necessarily have to in order to effectively play in a specific space. And I don’t think that marketers necessarily are managing a search right now for a major healthcare institution up in Michigan and these guys are not necessarily just interested in finding agencies that operate exclusively in the hospital space. I think there’s value in perspective that agencies can bring from different sectors but that said we’re looking specifically for agencies that have a core expertise in the hospital system space that can bring the insights and the knowledge. But there’s definitely some trade offs. If all you play is in the hospital space that’s all you know and there can be some limits to the broadness or the vastness of your thinking. You played in different industries yourself and you bring experiences from those different industries that can help you think differently about a sector than somebody who only, it’s like we’re talking about agencies and how they think what’s different really isn’t all that different.

I will never forget one of the first presentations I ever made back in 2006 in Kansas City to a group of 20 agencies and gave them all the overhead projector transparency and I asked them to write down their elevator pitch. And 19 of the 20 we’re different because we’re strategic and we work hard and our clients really love working with us. And so that’s the risk in only operating in one sector. Not suggesting that there’s not value in it coz clearly becoming expert in an area thus that marketers wanna know that you understand their space and you can bring value and you can be forward thinking but I don’t think you have to change your agencies face completely to reflect that sector in order to convince the marketer that you know your stuff and you can help them better than an agency who doesn’t present themselves that way.

T: Okay. Alright I’ve got lots more questions for you. I wanna get the listeners some clues to hear what’s coming up. Next I wanna talk a little bit about inbound marketing. We’re gonna talk about some of the tools that you’d suggest that agencies use. And then coz we’re already closing on an hour, if we have time I wanna talk a little bit about developing more business from existing client. So I think we’ll probably run out of time before we get through all of that. I’ve got even more questions on that but I don’t think we’re gonna have some time for that today.

I know that in my research on you or I should say my producer’s research on you before this were some conversation points around inbound marketing. And in your survey there were some agencies that felt that inbound marketing was effective and there were some agencies that felt that inbound marketing wasn’t effective. I’m interested so the perspective for the question is this, I’m an agency, I wanna get more business for myself, should I be using inbound marketing and if so what should I be doing?

M: Yeah inbound marketing is definitely a great tool to use. I think the challenge I’ll just give you some background and perspective. I became a hubspot partner about six months ago on the agency search side of our business because I’m reaching out to marketers trying to get them interested in our agency search model. And the intent of that partnership was to see to what degree kind of the higher order inbound marketing program could significantly change the dynamics in terms of inbound leads and do business ultimately for that business. And the ultimate goal was to see if what we were doing for our agencies on RSWUS side of our business is related to content generation with the goal of trying to create some inbound activity, if there was something more that we could be doing that we weren’t already doing for those programs. And what I found is that there is value in stepping it up but for an agency to assume the responsibility of trying to develop the amount of content that they needed developed for themselves and the time that it takes to manage a program effectively, it’s challenging.

I mean I’ve got an agency client on the RSWUS side who has been operating with hubspot for a while and whether they took it to its holistic stand or not I don’t know. I know they were blogging 4 times a week and all the things that were supposed to be doing but at the end of the idea they just ran out of energy and they had existing client relationships they had to manage and things just got in the way. So I do believe that content development and creating some sort of whether it’s an automated process to communicate with prospects with the goal of trying to establish more inbound leads, whether it’s that or like we do right now in the RSWUS side for our own business. I have a guy who heads up our sales and social for the business and he is kind of like my human hubspot I call him because he’s writing posts, I’m writing posts, we get people downloading surveys or calling those people. It’s agencies that we’re reaching out to so they’re a little more receptive to the content that we’re pushing out. The need is very well defined and clear in terms of business offering and what we can do for an agency.

So I think it’s important for agencies to have content and to activate that content. I’ve wrote a post couple of years ago that got under the skin of some social folks because I talked about social marketing inherently being a passive medium. And my point was it is if all you do is write it and you let it sit or you write and you don’t think about kind of what you’re writing and how you can use social for SEO or about activating it, pushing it out to prospects. How it’s gonna only have limited value. So I think content creation is critical for agencies because they can use that content then in a lot of different ways. In pushing it out to prospects and using it to bolster SEO so it is important but I think that certain agencies that are wholly committed to kind of the higher order inbound marketing program can do it. I think if they’re offering it specific enough it can definitely be a value but I think it has some challenges. I think it’s right for agencies to look at inbound for clients and using inbound as a tool to help clients. But I think the agency offering it’s a time so amorphous and has so many different ways in which it can help a client that it’s tough to really use it and have it in another shelf being the effective tool to drive business.

Coz the difference that I’m seeing between agency search in RSWUS is that I’m managing the agency search hubspot program and I’m writing 4 posts a week and I’ve got the work flows going and all that kind of good stuff. And I’m getting people downloading stuff and I’m getting reports on who’s clicking up things. I’m not doing a great job of it coz I’m the guy managing a following up of those people coz I have a company I have to run where as we who manages who’s my human hubspot, his job is when people download stuff, call them, follow up with them, stay in touch with them and so he’s much more active on that front than I am. And I think that’s where agencies must be prepared to carry it to that level on their own. That’s where the challenge. That’s where it breaks down for me. I think that so.

T: Something I wanna offer to yourself and to anyone that’s listening. I interviewed a fellow by the name of Peep Laja who runs agency, you can get to that interview at All of their new business comes solely from the blog. He got 50,000 visitors to his blog on the first month. He doesn’t write a lot of posts. In the interview and obviously his particular strategy may or may not work for everyone. I can’t tell you exactly what his agency’s focus is but in the interview you’ll get it all. It worked very very well within the sphere of what he was trying to accomplish. And so I wanted to make sure that people are aware that that’s another resource that they might wanna check out.

M: Yeah absolutely.

T: Alright so I’m gonna finish with this one last question and then get you to tell where people can get a hold of you and so forth. Coz you’re kind of a long answer guy so I don’t think we have time for a few more. But maybe this one is a short one then I’ll ask one more. But in terms of, and I know you’re gonna mention probably hubspot coz you’re partner, tools that agencies could or should be using to help manage the whole I call it life cycle of the lead. You get a lead by one way, shape or form. Maybe it’s from your website or a reporter or whatever. That lead needs to be nurtured to the point when they’re ready to either call you or be called and say yes and become a customer.

And then there’s a whole other phase of client side marketing that happens after that, but what are some of the tools that you would suggest that people use to try? Coz we’re all, especially small business owners, we’re all over worked we don’t have enough time, work work work, and so I’m a big fan of automating that. I call it the sales funnel. I’m a big fan of automating the sales funnel and letting people raise their hand and tell me what they’re interested in. But what are some of the tools that you use for that?

M: Well yeah I mean for our programs it’s not rocket science. It’s a matter of consistency and consistency in messaging and consistency in the outrage and we use all platforms. We use content and blogs that our clients are writing and we’re pushing those out.

T: Is there any specific software tools that you’re using? That’s more what I’m going after.

M: No.

T: No particular. Okay. So you’re a hubspot partner. How does hubspot fit in to, coz I haven’t used hubspot. I use infusionsoft and I know that for me infusionsoft does a very good job coz I can create all these campaigns and have emails go out and they all have links and they go to various landing pages. And depending upon what people click and what people watch, what forms they fill out I can segment my list. I can have automatic additional campaigns get fired off because they clicked on this link which inherently told me they were interested in whatever topic that link was about. Does hubspot do something similar to that?

M: Hubspot has the technology and platforms to enable its customers to do that, yes.

T: It does.

M: So obviously you create the content so that’s again just I think that’s the biggest challenge for agencies. Frankly they need somebody to create the content for them. That’s again part of what we’re looking at. Hubspot of course can reuse that platform to help dial up the outbound activity to increase inbound activity for the program. And I think the answer is yes but it’s yes with a caveat which is if you have the resources and the time to put the program together correctly and effectively. Because if you do it half ass it’s not gonna work for you.

And it sounds like what you’re doing is the right way to be managing it and probably this agency that you referenced is doing it correctly. I don’t know what they’re offering is but I think that if an agency wants to jump into something like that they need to know that they need committed resources to develop the content and manage the intricacies of the program in order to effectively do it. I mean I could use a marketing assistant full time dedicated to hubspot and writing content and developing things that we can be pushing out. So I think that’s my only caution. I think it’s a great, conceptually it’s a great way to go and it is the right thing to do. And it needs to be part of every program. You just got to go in with eyes wide open knowing how much time you’re gonna need to commit to it if that is the sole means by which you are going to generate leads, okay.

Our programs don’t just rely on inbound. We are reaching out to prospects via phone, email and twitter and activating blogs that our clients are writing and hosting surveys on their behalf and then pushing that content out. And getting inbound leads but not just relying on those inbound leads to find opportunities for clients.

T: And that’s something I should comment coz maybe I didn’t make that clear both for my own purposes and Peep’s purposes. One of the things that I spent a lot of time, coz a lot of people, I know I did this when I first started blogging with my previous venture. You know you create all this content but it’s like a tree, if you chop down a tree in the forest will everybody hear it?

M: Absolutely.

T: No. You have to put a lot of time into promoting your content.

M: Absolutely.

T: So if anyone’s listening to this thinking I should just create 4-5 blog posts a week. I would say no you don’t wanna do that. You might wanna create one really good one per week because 99.9% of the world hasn’t read it yet.

M: Yeah right.

T: And so there’s a lot of value in figuring out well who owns the community where my audience hangs out. First of all know who your audience is and then figure out who owns the community and then just go to the community owner and say I have some content that I think that your audience would really find a lot of value in. And have your marketing assistant or whomever is on your team spend probably 4x time promoting the content as it did to create the content the first place. So when I say inbound I don’t mean that people just magically show up and find all of your stuff. What I’m talking about is putting your thoughts and your strategies and your ideas on your blog and then doing everything you can to get people to that blog so that they can see that you’re an expert and they will want more from you.

M: Right. And that 4x the effort is what folks, agencies need to recognize if they want to what we’re calling is inbound as a means by which they’re gonna build a business. Because it takes a lot of outbound whether it’s promoting or whatever it is you’re doing, in our case it’s calling, tweeting and emailing in compliment to any content we’re pushing out. So whatever the means is again it’s not just if I post then they will come. So that’s how I grew up in there.

T: Okay. So I wanna give you the opportunity and I don’t know if you can. Hopefully you can think one off the top of your head coz I did not put this in my questions before. I don’t think I did. Is there a particular success story that you’ve had with a client recently that you wanna maybe talk a little bit about in case there’s people listening to this who are thinking maybe I might like to work with Mark but they might need a little bit more information. Either if there’s a case study on your blog that you wanna point them to or there’s something you wanted to talk about. I just wanna give you the floor to do that for a few minutes.

M: Yeah if you were to ask me 3 years ago what we do I would tell you that we were on the business of finding qualified leads and helping agencies better position themselves. And today when I’m asked that question I answer it by telling prospects that we’re in the business of helping agencies close business. So we have to bring the opportunities to the table. We have to help the agencies better position themselves. We have to be developing the content.

But we have a client that’s been on board for 9-12 months. This gentleman took over the agency from his father a couple of years ago. Brought us on board to help him build his business. One of the first opportunities we opened up for him, he asked us if we would review his presentation that he planned on giving to his prospect. And we agreed because that’s a big part of what we do. We review parts and pieces of proposals and presentations and it was awful. I mean there was nothing in there about the prospect. There was very little in there. We’ve been talking a lot about thought leadership. Nothing in there about thought leadership. No good reasons why this prospect should consider this agency. So we gave him some very hard to swallow but honest feedback on how to improve his presentation. And not only getting end up winning this piece of business but our new business director who represents him sits in on his presentations as webex presentations and he’s like a changed man in terms of the confidence that he has going into this presentations.

And really zeroing in on the needs states of the clients and talking about things that matter to them and not just being another agency that’s pounding your chest and talking about how great you are. And I think the biggest compliment that he received that he passed on to us was that his whatever 70 year old father who run the business for 30-40 years said that hiring RSW was the best decision that he had made since taking over the business. And I think that really is a testament to not only our ability to create opportunities for this agency but also to bring value beyond what he brought us in to do. And that’s helped him become a better sales person and better understand kind of how to approach the prospects that he’s going after.

T: That’s a fantastic story. Thank you for sharing that. So if someone is listening to this and they would like to get a hold of you, what’s the easiest for them to do that?

M: Dropping me a line at or you could just simply visit our website at and there’s contact information or resource to contact us there.

T: Okay terrific. We’re I think in the order of an hour and I try to keep these interviews to about the length that someone could consume in the commute to and from work depending on how long their commute is. I think there’s a lot more things that we could talk about so you’re welcome to come back on to the show anytime you like. Thanks very much for making the time to be on the show with us today.

M: Thanks for inviting me. Appreciate it. Take care.

T: Alright take care.

Get to the show notes for Mark and I’s interview where you can get the transcript and other things that we talked about. Just go to And the other thing I wanna briefly tell you about is the massive traffic toolkit. If you go to and enter your email address you’re going to get instant and free access to the massive traffic toolkit. So what is that? It is a compilation of all of the smartest traffic generation strategies that have been shared with me by my previous guests here on Bright Ideas. And the best part about this toolkit, you do not need to be an SEO expert to be able to execute the strategies that are shared in the toolkit. So go to

So that’s it for this episode of the Bright Ideas podcast. I’m your host, Trent Dyrsmid. Thanks very much for listening. Please do me a little favor. Head over to iTunes and leave a 5 star feedback for us and leave a rating rather and leave some feedback. Coz whenever you do that it helps the Bright Ideas podcast get more exposure and the more people that are able to watch or listen to the podcast, the more small business owners that we can help to discover how they can use online marketing and sales automation tactics to massively boost their business. Thank you very much. I’ll see you in the next episode. Take care.

About Mark Sneider

marksneiderMark Sneider is a 25 year veteran of the consumer packaged goods, advertising, and marketing service industry. Mark earned his MBA from the J.L. Kellogg Business School at Northwestern where he majored in Marketing and Economics. Mark obtained his undergraduate degree in Marketing from Miami of Ohio.

Sneider started his career serving clients at DDB Needham in Chicago prior to attending Kellogg. Prior to starting RSW/US, Mark was General Manager for AcuPOLL, a global research consultancy. Sneider worked in Marketing for S.C. Johnson, Andrew Jergens, and O-Cedar Brands.

Sneider has been invited to speak at numerous Agency events and network conferences including the 4A’s, TAAN, and MCAN.  Sneider has been featured in prominent industry publications including Adweek, Media Post, e-Marketer, and Forbes.

When not working, Mark coaches select soccer, teaches Sunday school, and runs. Mark is married and has three teenage children.

Digital Marketing Strategy: How to Disrupt an Industry and Make a Million Dollars Doing It: An Interview with Jeremy Yamaguchi

Imagine running a company that generates over a million dollars per year in an industry where your competition barely has a clue how to keep up with you.

What would that look like?

In today’s episode, I interview Jeremy Yamaguchi, founder of and in this interview, you are going to hear Jeremy tell the story of how he started his company as a side project 3 years ago, and, thanks to some very smart online marketing, combined with some clever automation, the business is on track for 7 figures this year.

And to think, it all started because his wife was laid off.
This is a fascinating interview, and the lessons that Jeremy is going to share are applicable to virtually any local service business.

In this interview, you are going to hear Jeremy explain:

  • how he came up with the idea
  • what the first version looked like
  • how he knew that the opportunity was bigger than he originally thought
  • what he did next to capitalize on that opportunity
  • how he drives organic traffic to his site
  • how he’s expanding into new markets (and driving traffic)
  • and so much more…

More About This Episode

The Bright Ideas podcast is the podcast for business owners and marketers who want to discover how to use online marketing and sales automation tactics to massively grow their business.

It’s designed to help marketing agencies and small business owners discover which online marketing strategies are working most effectively today – all from the mouths of expert entrepreneurs who are already making it big.

Watch Now

Leave some feedback:

Connect with Trent Dyrsmid:


Trent: Hi there, Bright Idea hunters. Thank you so much for joining me for

this episode of the Bright Ideas podcast. I am your host Trent Dyrsmid and

this is the podcast for business owners and marketers who want to learn how

to use online marketing and sales automation tactics and strategies to

massively boost their business. And on the show with me to tell you exactly

how he has done that is my friend Jeremy Yamaguchi. Jeremy, welcome to the

show.Jeremy: Hey, Trent, happy to be here.Trent: All right, after much trouble I think we have the sound figured out.

So, for the folks in the audience, Jeremy, who don’t know who you are,

please tell us who you are and what do you do?Jeremy: So, my name is Jeremy Yamaguchi. I have a background in user

interface design, web programming, new media marketing, branding, and logo

design, somewhere along those lines. I actually ran a website design and

development firm for a number of years and I’m currently running a company

called Golden Shine Cleaning Agency. And what we’re doing is we’re taking a

high-tech, high-touched approach to a traditionally low-tech sector of

being household cleaning services.Trent: All right. So, gut reaction. Now, I know the story, so I know

there’s a big story here, but somebody listening might be going, “Household

cleaning, yeah, what’s the fun of that?” But you’ve achieved some pretty

phenomenal results, so talk to us just real quick about the business model,

how it works, and how much revenue you’re generating, and how many

customers you’ve got.Jeremy: So, it’s essentially housecleaning. That’s what it comes down to.

It’s as interesting as it sounds, let’s say. And the beauty of the business

model in and of itself is that it’s recurring in nature, so you don’t have

to continually replace your client base. Once you sign up a customer, you

can retain them for years, assuming you’re doing your job well. And in

terms of our performance as a company, we have been revolutionizing the

local industry, to put it simply. We have been around it for about three

years and we have over a million dollars in projected revenue for 2012. We

have over 4,800 customers and really we’re disrupting the space.Trent: Four thousand, eight hundred customers, that’s plenty of customers.

And you really the core of your business how these customers are finding

you, and the whole marketing, and that’s why you’re on the show, is

everything is happening online, is that correct?Jeremy: Oh, absolutely. That’s where the high-tech part of high-tech, high-

touched comes in. Yeah, that’s a story in and of its self, and I’m sure

we’ll talk about that.Trent: Indeed, we will. All right, so for the people – there’s going to be

people in this audience who maybe haven’t started a business yet, and there

are some people in my audience who are already running a business. They

always want to know more about the guest and your background. I know you

just alluded to it very briefly, but what were you doing before you started

this company?Jeremy: Well, I do have a background in web development and interface

design, so that spans prints, old media, new media, all of that. I ran, and

actually still continue to run a new media marketing firm. We build

websites. We do branding. We do SEO. We do all sorts of stuff. I handle

social media campaigns, and that’s my background. I would traditionally

work with I guess you would call it, “clients in more sexy industries,” as

it were.And that is really where the opportunity came in is applying that sexy to

what is probably somewhat less than sexy of an industry – housecleaning.

So, that’s really my background and where my skill set comes in.Trent: Do you think, though, how much of having that background enabled you

to be successful in this business, because building your websites are not

particularly tricky these days?

Jeremy: Sure. Well, let’s just say that we build a lot more than websites.

Part of our advantage in this business – it’s multifaceted. There are two

sides to it. There’s the client side, which is our advertising advantage

and the fact that we can present ourselves in a fashion that a lot of our

competitors can only dream of. And then, there’s the operation side the

back end. And that’s where being a web programmer has been very


I built an operations management system. It’s proprietary web-based

software that automates a ton of our processes, and it not only makes us

more efficient and builds our profit, but it also allows us to provide

profoundly better service than our competitors can through the use of

technology. You know that’s our distinct technological advantage.

Trent: Okay. So, let’s walk through – well, I want to start at the

beginning. So, I know you got this idea I think when you said your wife was

laid off. She – correct me if I’m wrong – she said she liked cleaning

houses, and so originally, you just kind of threw up a quick site, put some

ads on Craigslist and you got some leads and some business from that, is

that correct?

Jeremy: Exactly. It’s a classic recession story, almost. My wife was laid

off for a day at work. We needed to fill that gap and said, “Hey, what do I

like doing? I like cleaning, maybe that’ll work.” And I said, “Why don’t I

build a website and see what kind of traction it gets.” And we posted it to

Craigslist, got a substantially larger number of leads than I expected, and

that’s where I guess the – that’s where it clicked, as it were. And I

realized that this industry is in fact pretty ripe for disruption, and

we’ve been going strong ever since.

Trent: All right. So, the key take away from that, that I really wanted

people to understand is your first version was really cheap and really

fast. Throw up just a bare bones – you didn’t build any of this back end

automation or any of this fancy stuff, correct? You just put up a basic

website, put an ad on Craigslist.

Jeremy: Sure, absolutely. Yeah, it was I mean I’m not going to say it was

hideous, because as a designer and something of a perfectionist it was

okay, but it was okay in that it was built in a day, so you could take that

as far as you can, but it wasn’t amazing, no.

Trent: The point is, is you were able to get a lot of real validation that

you – that this business had plenty of opportunity before you invested a

bunch of money. And that’s something that I think is very – it stands in a

lot of people’s way, in that they think that they have to do too much and

put too much capital at risk. Where they spend doing market research, and I

think that the best market research in the world is to throw up a shingle

and say, “Do you want to buy?”

And in your experience that’s exactly what happened, all right. So, you did

that for a while, and then you figured out, “Okay, we need to grow this

business, and bring in some automation, and some more advanced technology.”

So, kind of walk us through that process. What happened next?

Jeremy: You know it’s not so much as a single next step as much as it is a

continual iterative process of improvement. It goes from improving our

marketing on the SEO front. That’s a story in and of its self. You know how

to rank great, and as someone familiar with SEO you know that all too well,

improving on our rankings, getting a lot of great leads through web search,

through other advertising channels. And then it’s also iterating on the

back end.

Really, it’s in a sense kind of akin to the whole lean startup approach of

building as you learn. You do something. You assess its impact on your

business, and you either replace it with another test or attempts or you

keep it if it’s performing wonderfully. And you have this feedback loop

where you continually try to improve all aspects of your business from your

presentation from the client side, to the operation side, and it’s a daily

process. I don’t think I’ll ever stop working to improve this business on

every end of it.

Trent: Yeah, that’s the joy of being online is that we never lack for data

on what’s working and what isn’t working.

Jeremy: Sure.

Trent: So, what was the next step? And so we’ve got business coming in from

Craigslist, and then you realized that you – did you realize you needed

more business or did you realize you needed more automation, because you

were already finding inefficiency with the first business that was coming


Jeremy: Well, it was probably more business, because while I originally

built this site as an experiment to see, “Hey, can I get my wife a cleaning

job or two?” You know I quickly realized that that wasn’t the end goal,

here, and that there was much greater market and opportunity that I could

pursue. And at that point it was – it started drawing a lot more of my

focus from my other business to this, pursuing all the marketing efforts,

all of which have – well, most of which have been totally web-centric, up

to this point.

And from Craigslist we basically started an SEO campaign. Built out a

sizable website with a lot of great content, and started doing various

things to rank. That was essentially the next step, as far as I remember.

Trent: Okay, okay. That’s what I was looking for was that next step. So,

your SEO strategy was it – well, you go ahead and explain it, I’m assuming

it’s probably a long-tail strategy of some kind, but I’ll let you explain.

Jeremy: You know it’s actually all of the – it’s all of the tail. You know

if you search for the generic term “housecleaning” at the moment, and

you’re in San Diego, Google considers that to be a geo-specific search

term. So, it’ll give you a local result, and we have the number one result

for the head term “housecleaning” if you’re searching from our service

region. Also, we have targeted a ton of long-tail. I mean long-tail being

what it is that it’s hundreds and hundreds of keywords that we ranked for

that are more obscure, but that do add up to quite a significant amount of

traffic. So, we’ve targeted that, as well.

Now as far as how we target that it’s the whole smorgasbord of SEO

optimization from getting authoritative articles and back links, to we’ve

created some amazing info graphics that have actually received some great

traffic for us across Twitter, the social media sphere. And that’s resulted

in some great traction for us, and a definite jump in rankings. We really

tried a lot of things and a number of them have worked sufficiently well

that we are now ranking amazingly for the terms that we care about.

Trent: And how much content is on the site, currently? How many posts?

Jeremy: I couldn’t answer that off the top of my head, but I would say

we’ve probably got 60 blog posts, and we’ve got maybe 40 inner pages across

the site. It’s not a shallow website. It’s got some depth to it. Of course,

it could be. It’s not 10,000 pages or anything like that, but we also have

somewhat of a stringent quality standard that doesn’t allow us to just

explode out with tons of copy. We don’t release anything that doesn’t sound

– that doesn’t have the tone that we’re aiming for as business. We try to

control that – our message very, very tightly.

Trent: And in terms of ongoing content, so do you have an editorial

calendar? Are you continually adding new content, and if so what frequency,

and how long are these articles that are – that make up a post.

Jeremy: Yeah, we add content on a regular basis. We’ve actually expanded.

We’re not just in San Diego. We’ve expanded the operation now Orange County

and Los Angeles, and each of those expansions come with their own website,

complete with unique copy, which is a lot of copyrighting, and their own

blog. So, we try to post at least every other week to our blogs, and those

are three blogs, at the moment.

As we continue to expand we’re going to have maybe five or six blogs

running concurrently, and that’s a lot of high quality that you are going

to have to create. We don’t post anything that doesn’t – that isn’t

awesome. And maybe, it’s not all awesome. You can’t expect everything to be

amazing, but we have very high standards for the stuff that we release, and

that has proven to be one of the greatest challenges that we’ve faced, is

coming up with really great high quality and contextually relevant content

to post across our various websites.

Trent: So, you mentioned more than one blog. You mean not

the only blog, now. There are others?

Jeremy: No, as we’ve expanded to other regions we actually have – there’s a

few different you can take on SEO when you want to target various

geographic regions you can go with the subdomain, or the subfolder. So, you

could do as our Orange County recommended

profile. I opted to go with whole domains, so we have is our Orange County website. We’ve got as our L.A. website, and as we expand we’ve gone the

route of standalone domains, with very geo-specific content. As I tend to

think that that is a better approach to ranking across geographic regions,

rather than just creating more targeted content under the

domain name.

Trent: Okay, and for the listeners who are listening to this and don’t have

access to the web right now, I’m just pulling up some of those other sites,

and the name on them is still Golden Shine, and the branding is still

consistent. So, you’ve kept that consistent across these various blogs.

Jeremy: Oh, absolutely. It’s an optimization effort. In a perfect world

we’d be under one domain, with one brand, but this was something that I

decided to pursue as I think it’s more advantageous on the rankings front

than going with Orange County subsections under the


Trent: Okay. Now, you talked a lot about just a minute or two ago, about

producing this high quality content. So, talk to us a little bit about how

it’s produced. Are you using 1099 riders? Are you going to Elance? How are

you getting it done?

Jeremy: Actually, I’ve tried just about everything. I’ve used professional

copywriters. I’ve used Elance. I haven’t tried Fiber yet, as I’m not

certain that the quality that you would get for five bucks would be – would

meet our standards, but I have a – actually we have some employees who

we’ve hired for a variety of functions, one of which is good copywriting

skills. And they actually write a lot of the copy for our blogs. And we’ve

been very lucky in that they’re pretty good. And they’ve been able to

consistently deliver high quality content, that has been to our standards,

and that’s how we actually get a lot of the content that we post, now.

I do also work with various 1099 copywriters, and freelance copywriters, as

well, because we are kind of an insatiable beast when it comes to web copy.

We can use as much as can get. So, I really – I’ve used most of the options

available at the source for great copy, and while it’s hard to find, you

can find the people who do, in fact, write very well at reasonable rates.

Trent: And are you when you decide to add a new piece of content, are you

choosing the keyword first, and then creating content around that keyword,

or how do you decide what you’re going to write about?

Jeremy: You know honestly I think our foremost concern is to create

something that is interesting to our customer base, and also that’s

contextually relevant. You know that has to do with cleaning of some

variety. Maybe it’s cleaning tips like how to clean your wooden floors, and

that’s somewhat of a niche article in that not everyone has wood floors,

but we found that that’s interesting enough to our client base that we’ll

get some decent interaction from our audience both in the form of shares in

other social media distribution.

And that’s really how we enter into all of this. We want to create

something that’s interesting to the read first and foremost. With SEO being

the secondary benefit. We’re not just creating posts for the sole fact that

we might be able to get some long-tailed keywords stacked up a random

searcher once a year. It’s more that we want content that puts us in a

position where we are authoritative. Where the reader and visitor does

understand that we know what we’re talking about. That we have experience

in this industry, and that boosts our credibility and it also provides a

value to the reader. It’s genuinely valuable content that they will take

away good information from and hopefully share with their friends.

Trent: Plus it’s going that when you have good quality content you’re going

a long way to nurture your needs. I was interviewing a fellow by the name

of Jay [Baer] yesterday, and in the interview we were talking about this

topic of lead nurturing and he said, “You know everyone has questions that

they want answers to before they’re going to buy anything from you. And

there are some people have three questions, some people have 10 questions,

some people have more than that, and your content, if it’s well-written,

I’m assuming for you guys, is doing a good job of helping to answer these

questions, and therefore establish trust credibility and rapport with your

perspective customers.

Jeremy: Sure. Yeah, that’s one of the goals, and certainly, I would say the

primary goal of any content that we write.

Trent: So, in looking at, and I’m on Hello Cleaning, right now. How much of

the traffic is coming to these sites from SEO versus say paid media buys?

Jeremy: Well, it varies per property. So, for, which is our

San Diego website and really the mother ship, if you will. So, it’s

majority organic. So, we get a lot of traffic from organic search, because

we’re ranking so well, organically. The other sites because they’re recent

expansions, organics can take a while to do and materialize, regardless of

how well you optimize. So, that’s a mix of PBC and other media buys across

the web, as well as some offline marketing, actually, some old media stuff

that we’ve been piloting and seeing how it works out.

So, it varies from property to property, but I would definitely say we’re

paying more for our visitors on the newer websites than we are on Golden

Shine, which happens to rank much better.

Trent: Okay. So, when I arrive at Golden Shine, however I get there, I’m

going to land most likely on a blog post as opposed to the home page, if

I’ve come organically pending upon the search term that I punched in. Would

you say that that’s accurate, or where are people landing most commonly?

Jeremy: I think the whole site is pretty well optimized, but the home page

is the authoritative page on the website, as you would expect. So, it

definitely sees the most traffic of any given page across the site, but I

guess that’s the whole long-tail versus head term question. Does a long-

tail add up to substantially more traffic than the head term, even though

the head term in and of its self, it worth more than any individual long-

tail term. I would say that it’s probably almost 50/50. We get as much

traffic from the head terms, the housecleaning, or the San Diego

housecleaning, or housecleaning San Diego, San Diego maid service stuff

like that, then as we do from longer tail terms, like how to clean hard

water deposits, or stuff like that.

Trent: Yeah, so let’s talk about the conversion process. The traffic’s

coming to me the call to action looks like the “get a quote” button or the

phone number. Both are in the top right hand portion of the screen. Is

there another call to action that I don’t see, or is that it?

Jeremy: That’s our ultimate goal for any given visitor. We want them to get

a quote. And they, yeah, they can call us. They can do it through the

website its self, that’s their choice.

Trent: Do you have metrics on the percentage of leads that you’re getting

from the “get a quote” button versus the phone number?

Jeremy: Yeah, I think we get about 50% of what we get by phone that we get

from web based conversions. So, you know if 100 people convert online,

we’ll get another 50% back on.

Trent: Okay. So, when you talked earlier in the interview about automation,

and that’s the area that I want to dig a little deeper into now. Because in

a service business like this where you are using a large number of

subcontractors, are they subcontractors or employees? Because I know we

talked about this a while ago. You had an incident, you had – so, which one

is it?

Jeremy: Yeah, they are independent contractors. We are what’s called the

domestic referral agency, which is a specific big business-type that we can

form in the State of California. And it allows us to refer independent

contractors to homes across Southern California.

Trent: Okay. So, you have a – there’s a reasonable number of people in that

pool of subcontractor so you have a lot of moving parts to manage,

scheduling, quality assurance, payment all that stuff. So, can you talk a

little bit about some of the back end automation, how you’ve made this

business more efficient so that you can actually turn a decent profit at


Jeremy: Well, the system that I’ve built it’s called our operations

management system, for lack of a better name. But it automates things from

scheduling to it’s a CRM, so it handles customer records, feedback. It

handles alerts. It’ll e-mail our customers before their jobs, and they’ll

know to expect our housekeeper, which reduces the lock-out incidence rate.

You know so housekeepers don’t show up and have no one there.

It handles all sorts of stuff from reporting both on our conversion

tracking, and performance on that front, as well as it has some pretty

awesome feedback loops for housekeeper performance, as well, which allows

us to provide better, higher quality housekeepers to our customers.

So, because it allows us to analyze their performance and continue on with

those who are doing amazingly and give them preference when it comes to new

clients. If someone who has a great record and gets like some of the great

feedback, requests a job, they’re going to get it over someone who has a

lower quality performance record. So, that ensures that we’re sending the

best possible housekeeper to our clients, and it’s a great quality boost on

that front.

Trent: So, if I’m understanding this correctly you’ve got for lack of a

more detailed explanation, kind of an Amazon type rating system where your

customer is coming back after the fact and saying, “Hey, that was a four

star cleaning, or a five star cleaning, or no that wasn’t a very good

cleaning.” That information’s then going into the database and in some way

interacting with the record for each of your subcontractors, and assigning

them a score. Would that be fair to say?

Jeremy: Yes.

Trent: And then, when new jobs go into the schedule, and these

subcontractors are receiving I’m guessing some kind of notification that

there are new jobs for them to go and grab, somewhere in the math you have

made it so that those subcontractors who have a higher score can take

precedence in some way shape or form to get the job or do they get the

notification? How does that work?

Jeremy: Well, as part of the system it’s not just on our end. This

operation software actually is extended out to the housekeepers that we

work with, and plus jobs. So, as the job comes in it’ll be visible to all

of our housekeepers and they can say, “Yeah, I want that Thursday at 9:00

a.m.” And we will see that six or seven housekeepers requested a specific

job, and we can dispatch to the highest performing housekeeper as opposed

to just sending to the first person who contacts us and say they want it,

so then – go ahead.

Trent: Okay, so then. That’s what I was trying to understand the dispatch

process is that still a human interaction process where someone on your

team is saying, “Hey, we’ve got this job. It came from 123 Some Street in

L.A. and here are the six subcontractors that are bidding on it. This one

has the highest score therefore I’m going to assign the job to that


Jeremy: Exactly. Yeah, there has to be the human review, because you’ve got

to make a judgment call and say, “Is this the best person for the job?”

There’s also an additional factor in here, which is that across the level

of good housekeepers, there are fast housekeepers who are just very

efficient and get through homes real quickly, and that there are really

slow but incredibly detailed housekeepers that will clean things with a


And what constitutes good, is somewhat relative to the [home]. So that’s

where our office staff has to come in and do a great job. And they do a

great job of this, of pairing housekeepers to customers for their tastes.

So, it can’t simply be boiled down to ratings, the five star housekeeper

always gets the job, because you might have a few five star

housekeepers requesting a job and it’s a matter of interpreting the needs

of the customer, and pairing them with the best possible housekeeper for

their needs. And that’s how you get great result, all around.

Trent: And repeat customers.

Jeremy: Precisely, which is the bread and butter of the business.

Trent: All right. So, we could probably continue on down that rabbit hole

of automation for ever and ever, and ever, but without people being – for

those who are listening to this – without seeing interfaces and so forth,

it would probably be not as beneficial. So, I’m going to shift gears here

and I wanted to ask you about the product launch. Did you have any kind of

formal launch for this? Or was this very much just an organic, it just kind

of built slowly over time?

Jeremy: It’s entirely organic and that’s probably due to the fact that it

was a secondary pursuit for me for a long time, because of the demands of

my website design and development firm. That sucks most of my attention,

and this was something that I saw as an opportunity and pursued kind of

with gradually greater interest. You know as time progressed and then as I

saw more and more traction, and began to realize the opportunity, I was

able to devote more and more time to it. But it wasn’t something that I

spent six months building, and then tech-crunched out of the gate to get

things off. It was very organic in that sense.

Trent: And how about the new site in Orange County, and L.A? Was there a

launch strategy for those? Was there anything you did in particular or did

you just simply put the sites up and then start to purchase traffic, start

to optimize by creating content, and over time traffic just sort of built?

Jeremy: That’s mostly what we do. I mean we’ll throw out a press release

and let people know, but given the noise it’s not exactly brand new news

that’s going to be repeated everywhere that you get your news that a

housecleaning company expanded to another geographic region. So, we haven’t

beaten too many drums over the patch, but it is definitely something that

we throw some stuff out there and we get some interest. And it’s mostly

just launching all of the region is the primary effort there when we do

build a new site and expand into a new region. It’s a lot of work and it’s

getting all of that set up and humming along smoothly that’s really the

launch, effectively.

Trent: Are you building a list of perspective customers with this? Like, I

don’t see what you see is so common. As you know, “Hey, download free

report, give me your e-mail address, that kind of thing.” Are you doing

anything like that? I just haven’t seen it, yet?

Jeremy: No, we don’t have any white papers or anything like that. In a

sense our credibility builder as it were is our blog or our various blogs,

and that’s where we build an audience. That’s where we establish ourselves

as experts in the field, which we quite frankly are. And that’s what we do

in lieu of a download or something like that.

Trent: But, without a list if you wanted to offer a special or a coupon or

this or that or the other thing, you can’t reach out and say, “Hey, come

get this discount coupon for this weekend.” And I know in my business the

list is everything. It’s the most valuable asset, so why wondering why you

chose not to go down that road.

Jeremy: Well, the thing is, is that we do in fact have a mailing list, and

it’s first and foremost we have our mailing list which is our existing

customers, and up until very recently we had an opt-in box on the website,

“sign up for our mailing list for news, tips, tricks and deals from Golden

Shine Cleaning Agency.”

And we did see some interest there, but that was a call that I made to

remove that sign-up list, quite frankly because we didn’t have the time to

reach on the regular basis to our existing list. We weren’t essentially as

much advantage of it as we could. And being that that was the case and had

been for some time, I made a call to remove the mailing list call to action

from the site, because it did detract from our primary call to action,

which is to get a quote for your home.

And as the saying goes, “When you emphasize everything, you emphasize

nothing” and I wanted to reduce the things that we were emphasizing and

kind of pitching to a website visitor in order to focus on the things that

were really the most important to us.

Trent: Okay. Every business owner has a period I call it the, “Oh, beep

moment.” Where stuff hits the fan, things go drastically wrong, and I’m

wondering if you had an incident like that at all in the last three years,

or maybe you had more than one?

Jeremy: The Valley of Sorrow. Yeah, you know we – yeah, I’ve definitely

been through that. In our particular case it came in the form of a letter

from the employment development department letting us know that we were

being audited for employment classification purposes. So, they just wanted

to make sure that the housekeepers that we work with are correctly

classified as independents, so we’re operating under all the regulations

and that we’re in compliance with the civil code that we operate under as a

domestic’s referral agency.

And thankfully, we were. We passed that audit just fine, because we were in

fact compliant, but it’s never a pleasant thing to receive a letter from a

state or government agency, particularly if it has “audit” in the title.

And that I would say is definitely the “Oh, bleep moment,” as it were, so

far. I’m sure there’s going to be a few more occasions where I have my day

promptly ruined by something I received in the mail, but as of yet, that’s

been the primary source of stress. But that’s behind us; thankfully I’m

proud to report.

Trent: So, we’re going to wrap up here quickly – fairly shortly rather. I’m

having trouble speaking today – fairly soon, and before we do that a couple

things. I want to know in case there are people who are listening to this

who are thinking that, “Hey, maybe they want to be able to do some kind of

business with you, or they want to partner with you.” What are some of your

plans for this future, and how can people get a hold of you?

Jeremy: Well, right now it’s now of what we’ve done to date. We are working

on expanding out to other geographic regions. We’re currently focused on

California for the moment, but we certainly are interested in scaling on a

more national level given the opportunity and the time, really it’s what it

comes down to.

And then, we’re also still at the continual process of improvement,

iterating on what we’re currently doing, and figuring out a way to do it

better, whether that’s our customer service, and the way that we deal with

problems when they do arise, or the way that we attract new clients in our

marketing, the client facing end of things. That’s something that I think

there’s always room for improvement on that front. And that’s something

that we are definitely pursuing on a continual basis.

If people feel like they can help contribute in that sense, I am all ears.

I’m always open for new ideas to see what kind of products people have that

can help move us forward in any of those various directions.

Trent: Okay. One last question just popped into my mind. The software, are

you using open source, and putting existing objects together or did you

just start with Note Pad and write from scratch?

Jeremy: Blank slate.

Trent: Really?

Jeremy: Yeah, white screen writing it up from scratch. That’s not to say

that we don’t use tools. We use stuff like JQuery and existing libraries

that developers provide to help make programming easier, but we haven’t

built off of preexisting CRM systems or anything like that. This is all

built from the ground, and it kind of had to be that way I think because of

how specific our needs are. It’s allowed us to tailor things very well to

fit our needs and that isn’t something we could of necessarily could have

done if we went with and out of the box solution.

Trent: Did you look at Infusionsoft in any detail before you built your


Jeremy: The CRM?

Trent: Yeah.

Jeremy: I didn’t. Although, I did look at Salesforce, Zoho, and a few of

these other various CRM systems, and they’re great as far as CRM’s go, but

we needed something that is like a CRM on steroids. The CRM is probably

only about 25% of what our system does. The automation that comes in on the

provider side, on the scheduling, and on the reporting side is something

that it’s too specific to our needs to have been solved with an out of the

box solution, I think.

So, we programmed it. Yeah, it was absolutely a great investment of time.

It’s been years in the making, but it’s our distinct technological

advantage. Having built it, this is what separates us from the competition.

Trent: The only reason I bring that up is there’s going to be some people

who are listening to this who would be daunted – overwhelmed by the idea of

maybe building their own custom solution. If that’s you I don’t obviously

know Jeremy’s back end business processes, but I’ve interviewed quite a few

people that use Infusionsoft. I use Infusionsoft, and it is a CRM system on

steroids, and it is amazing what you can do in terms of customization, work

flows automation.

So, don’t let the fact that Jeremy built software from scratch discourage

you from getting into this or any business where you think that you want

that back end automation, because it can be had without being a programmer.

And there are obviously more than one platform. I just happen to be

familiar with Infusionsoft, because I use and again, because I’ve

interviewed a lot of people that have used it.

Jeremy: Well, I definitely agree. I think you can certainly choose an out

of the box software that will solve your problem for 90% of the use cases.

And it’s just we chose to go this direction to get to the 99%, but if you

can get 90% of your problem solved without investing years into developing

custom software, that might be a better decision, arguably.

Trent: Yeah, okay.

Jeremy: Yeah, do not feel daunted.

Trent: Last thing is how do people – what’s the best way to get a hold of

you, Jeremy?

Jeremy: You can actually contact me at That’s

probably the best way to get a hold me. You can also just LinkedIn me,

Jeremy Yamaguchi, and I’m pretty accessible through that format, as well.

So, pick your choice.

Trent: Okay, terrific. Jeremy, thanks very much for being a guest here on

the podcast. It’s been a pleasure to have you on.

Jeremy: Thanks for having Trent, appreciate it.

Trent: All right. Take care.

Jeremy: Bye-bye.

Trent: All right, if you want to get the show notes for my interview with

Jeremy, just go to, and the other thing that you’ll want

to do is head over to If you enter your e-

mail address there you’re going to get free instant access to my massive

traffic tool kit.

So, here’s what the tool kit is. It’s a compilation of all of the best

traffic generation strategies that have been shared with me by my guests

here on Bright Ideas. And the best part about it is you don’t need to be an

SEO guru to be able to implement any of the strategies. So, you can get it


So, that’s it for this episode for the Bright Ideas podcast. I am your host

Trent Dyrsmid. If you enjoyed this episode, please do me a small favor,

head over to iTunes and leave us a five star rating along with some

feedback. Every time that you do that it helps the show to get a little bit

more exposure in iTunes and with more exposure we can help more

entrepreneurs to discover Bright Ideas to help them massively boost their

business. Thanks so much. It’s been a pleasure. We’ll see you in the next


Recording: Thanks very much for listening to the Bright Ideas podcast.

Check us out on the web at


About Jeremy Yamaguchi

JeremyYJeremy started as a web designer and developer, as the founder of Aeron Creative. Jeremy has a strong design aesthetic and the ability to create highly functional web apps. These skills have provided him with a distinct technological advantage when applied to the household services sector.

As founder and president of Golden Shine, an employment agency for household-related services, over the course of a few short years Jeremy has grown the business to seven figures.


Digital Marketing Strategy: How to Increase Lead Conversion, Work Less, and Automate More: An Interview with Jay Baer

What if I told you that you would have a better chance of growing your revenue if you focused on getting fewer leads?

You’d think I was nuts, right?

Well, not so fast there grasshopper!

In today’s episode of the Bright Ideas podcast, I’m joined by Jay Baer of to talk about his exact strategy for maximizing lead conversion (notice I didn’t say that we were going to talk about his exact strategy for getting the maximum number of leads).

In addition to the above, Jay and I also talk about:

  • how to spend less time working IN your business and more time working ON it
  • which automation tool Jay is using to do this (I use the same one)
  • a great example of content marketing with bricks and feathers
  • how to persuade more clients that going on retainer is a good idea for them (as well as you)
  • Jay’s favorite tools and resources for small agency owners
  • how to ensure your business is worth more when it comes time to sell it
  • what books he’s reading right now
  • and so much more

Don’t forget to leave a comment so Jay and myself get to hear what you think of the interview :)

More About This Episode

The Bright Ideas podcast is the podcast for business owners and marketers who want to discover how to use online marketing and sales automation tactics to massively grow their business.

It’s designed to help marketing agencies and small business owners discover which online marketing strategies are working most effectively today – all from the mouths of expert entrepreneurs who are already making it big.

In this episode, I interview Jay Baer, president of

Watch Now

Leave some feedback:

Connect with Trent Dyrsmid:


An Interview with Jay BaerT: Hey there Bright Idea hunters, thank you so much for joining me for the Bright Ideas podcast. I am your host, Trent Dyrsmid, and this is the podcast for business owners and marketers who wanna learn how to use online marketing and sales automation tactics to massively boost their business.On the show with me today is Jay Baer from Jay, welcome to the show.Jay Baer: Thanks Trent, I appreciate that you have me on the show.T: No problem. It’s an honor to have you here. So for the folks in the audience who maybe don’t know about you yet, can you tell us who are you and what do you do?J: Sure. My name is Jay Baer. I am the president of the social media and content marketing accelerator firm Convince and Convert. We work with major corporations all across the world helping them understand the social media and content strategy. Then we also work with a number of different ad agencies, PR firms, marketing firms all across North America helping them kinda get in price and stuff and sell social and digital services. We have award winning blog at, weekly podcast on social pros and a daily email newsletter called one social thing.

T: Alright so you’re audience and my audience is the same group of people and we wanna help them do the same thing. If you’re running an agency we wanna help you run a more successful agency. More clients, more profits, more revenue and a better lifestyle. So wtih that in mind in the study of agencies that I have done and they’re very similar to the business I was just talking to you about off camera that I used to run, big challenge how to get leads, leads, leads. Everybody wants more leads. So can you share with me what you’ve seen agencies have particular success with when it comes to lead generation?

J: Well I think actually I would debate the premise a little bit.

T: Sure.

J: I feel like agencies are, in many cases too focused on leads and not focused enough on conversion rate. I was in an agency at one point where we just went through the string finishing second over and over and over again, right? And you’re just sort of burning stuff time and burning resources at that kind of point. So I would challenge people and we do this with agencies and corporate clients all the time. We just say you know what, don’t worry as much about leads until you know that you’ve got the conversion process dialed and that you know that you are closing the maximum percentage of business that’s seriously you’ll never gonna get them all, obviously no one converts a 100% of their leads, but figure out whether it’s market automation or the nurturing or being smarter about content or how you interact with leads in the funnel. Spend time making sure that once you’ve spent the time and resources to create a lead that you’re actually closing them.

Setting that aside in terms of the lead generating vehicle I always feel like the best way to do that is demonstrate your expertise in some way but to do it in a, and I just have this conversation with my agency clients this morning, to do it in a focused specifc manner. So agency blogging for example, very popular now, it didn’t use to be but of course now almost every agency has some sort of blog or some sort of thought leadership program which ostensibly creates leads and many cases it doesn’t because the blog doesn’t really have sufficient call to action they didn’t do it.

But I find the biggest problem with most agency thought leadership program is that it’s about everything the agency knows. And if your thought leadership is about everything it is by definition about nothing. So even though your agency might actually offer 25 different services you really ought to pay attention to 3 or 4 that really makes sense that you really wanna go long on and create content, create thought leadership, create ebooks and blog posts and podcasts and videos about those topics because then you can actually get enough density of content and enough lead generating inbound action to adopt and make it work.

T: In other words find a niche and make sure that you go really really deep on that niche or topic whatever word you’d like to use.

J: Yeah and there’s really sort of X Y and Z axis on that potential niche so you can either have a geographical niche were all about Alabama or were all about Houston or whatever your story is. Or you can have a vertical niche or you can have a services niche and I think the best agencies that generate the most consistent stream of leads are those that apply all three of those contents. We’re the best agency at search engine optimization for health care in Texas. Now are you gonna have the most leads? No you’re not. But your lead conversion rate is going to be massively higher because you’re saying this is what we stand for, we are the best in the world at this one thing. And I think that’s a better approach.

T: I’m gonna guess that you have read Good to Great.

J: Yes absolutely.

T: Because this is the hedgehog strategy in the book.

J: Yap exactly.

T: Okay so for anyone who’s listening if you haven’t read that book yet it’s a really fantastic book. Now you mentioned something that is near and dear to my heart early in your answer. You talked about lead nurturing and automation. A whole another interview we could go down with that good one and maybe if the calendar permits we’ll come back to that. But can you give us a short answer for people who might not know what lead nurturing is and how would you automate lead nurturing?

J: I think the easiest way to conceptualize it is to say nobody becomes a customer of anything, of twizlers or an agency or a car or anything in between. Nobody buys anything until or unless the questions they have about that product or service have been satisfactorily answered. Period always. So what you need to do as a business owner of any kind of business and I think that’s even more acute in professional services is to say let’s walk it back and for somebody to higher agency what do they have to be satisfied with? Well they have to be satisfied with their expertise. They have to be satisfied with our deliverables. They have to be satisfied with our price. They have to be satisfied with the talent of our staff. They have to be satisfied with the way we do business. They have to be satisfied with the fact that we know things that apply to their industry and there’s probably 2 or 3 other things in that chain.

So at some point from the lead generation to signed deal process those questions have to answered. The way agencies have historically tried to do that Trent to say let’s get together in the conference room and we’ll have the whole conversation and we’ll kind of throw a bunch of things against the wall and we’ll tell you how great we are and hopefully we’ll convince you. You know, we’ll convince them in the conference room.

T: In other words, we’ll close you.

J: Yeah right we’ll close you over donut or whatever. Lead nurturing marketing automation says sure you’re gonna have that human element at some point but the human element is much farther down the consideration found in this classically kind of the case. What you do is when someone becomes a lead we know that you are interested in this particular agency service because of either information you provided in your lead form or what web pages you were looking at before you filled out that form and then we put you into a business rules governed sequence which then delivers to you information that answers some of those questions that need to be answered without me having to do it face to face.

So in my case we use infusion soft because of marketing automation software company that handles our email marketing and our follow up sequences. If somebody, I just put out a new ebook today and if somebody signs up for that ebook they’ll go into a special follow up sequence, they’ll get another email from us a week later with some different information. Then a week after that we’ll give another email with some other information then a week after that we’ll give another email. So we are leaving them down the consideration path of very strategically and very specifically because not everybody is ready to have a meeting in the conference room 2 seconds after they fill up the lead form which is usually what happens in an agency environment. Somebody says those are our contacts I’ll say call these guys right now get them in, let’s get a meeting set up. And in some cases people want dinner and movie first.

T: I’m an Infusion Soft user myself.

J: Oh great.

T: And I absolutely love it.

J: They have a conference next year. I’m looking forward to it.

T: Terrific. I’ll see you there. And I’ll tell you if I would have understood back when I was running my agency equivalent if I would have a tool like Infusion Soft and understood how much power it had I could have done a lot more. So for the folks again that are listening to this, if you haven’t checked out Infusion Soft yet go get yourself a demo, go sign up on a webinar. It is amazing. When people open those emails and they can click on links you can apply this thing called tags and all you’re really doing is segmenting and segmenting and segmenting and you can cause automated sequences to occur based upon links they click and things they do and all can run on auto pilot for you on the background.

Which segues into my very next question, is that many small and not just agency owners, Jay, but many small business owners they get so consumed with doing everything themselves that they spend all this time working in their business and no time spent working on their business. So with your clients, how do you get them, coz you can either have lots of control and not much growth or give up some control and get a lot more growth. How do you coach them through that process?

J: Yeah I’ve been through that process myself trying, I mean this is my 5th professional company that I had started. I’ve got $5 million agencies in a row from scratch and I read the e-myth years ago, right, which is where that premise comes from and I didn’t believe it at first. I mean it makes intuitive sense that you gotta kind of step away and let people blossom and I literally said you know what, I’m just ripping off the band aid. And I said I’m just gonna try it. I don’t believe it but I’m just gonna try it. And I just went into this massive empowerment phase like I don’t have to do everything and maybe it won’t be exactly how I would do it but it will be just as good as is so why and it was. And we experienced explosive growth as a result of giving up that kind of control and I have subsequently had it purposely done that I’d moved out of state and then a bunch other things that actually prohibit me now from having that kind of control and it’s been really really effective.

And I have agency clients that are really good in that principle and that sort of empowerment principle and working on their business instead of in it. And I have agencies that are not very good at it. It’s both sides. And what I find is it’s not so much about a particular thing you can do in the agency, it really is cultural. It really is about what kind of life do you wanna have as an agency principle and you find it in here to let it go. Coz you can read all the books you want but you gotta believe it. You have to believe inherently that the people you have hired are good enough to put your name out there even if you don’t actually work on that particular project. And some people can get that and other people just can’t. I mean there are people I know who have been trying to get there for 10 years and can’t. It’s not because they’re not smart, they just can’t get past it. They just can’t get past that sense of work. I wish I had a more specific example for you other than just ripping off the band aid as I didn’t say look I’m going to take 2 or 3 projects that I work on now and just stop working on.

And I think the easiest way to get there in theory is to do an audit of your activities as a principle to say okay. And a lot of agency owners don’t do this. They don’t really know how they spend their time. They think they do but they don’t really so a lot of times all I do is say okay let’s actually keep a time sheet for yourself and real strong audit of your involvement and then go back and say are the things that you’re doing things that you are uniquely qualified to do. And for me that’s always the filter. That’s how I try and run my businesses. I try and minimize doing things that I am not uniquely qualified to do. And if you sort of use that as a filter do I get involved, do I not get involved, that helps I think having that sort of light switch approach.

T: And that’s an approach that I’m trying to do here with Bright Ideas. I’m uniquely qualified to host the interview but somebody else can edit it, somebody else can create the post, somebody else can publish, review, share it on social networks. And if you’re listening to this and I talked to a guy yesterday, he was a one man agency, he was doing almost a $150,000 a year, and he said Trent, I’m klilling myself. I work, work, work all the time. So if you relate to that story but you can’t get wrap your mind around hiring a full time employee I really encourage you don’t hire a full time employee, go to Odesk, elance, freelance.

J: I run my services that way. We’re doing a million dollars this year and I’m the only employee. But everyone is 1099. This idea that you have to own a resource, lots stock and buy that resource has to sit in your office is an *inaudible. With the advances that we’ve made and in video conferencing like this and a sacred as communication is much more accepted than it used to be. You don’t have to have mediums of the same kind the way they used to. Things like base camp and other tools allow you to manage projects synchronously. All of those kind of advances that are partially technology and partially cultural in the way that this gets done really allow for partial ownership or resources in ways that was really crazy even 5 years ago.

T: And the really great thing about this and I’m sure that you already understand this and I do now but I didn’t before is when you can give up the shackles of a physical location and the shackles of employees that show up to that location and you embrace online marketing and lead nurturing and so that you don’t have to have that face to face meeting and you get leads coming to you, now you can live anywhere you wanna live. You can get clientsfrom anywhere you want them. And more likely they never want you to come and sit in the boardroom. They’re quite happy because they’ve consumed all of your thought leadership on their own schedule and then they contact you when they’re ready to go. You’re gonna charge a higher fee, you’re gonna work on your schedule and life just gets a whole lot better.

J: We actually won’t go to see clients generally speaking. That’s part of our deal. We’ve got people all over the country, if you need us to come sit in your conference room we’re probably not the right consultancy for you and we say that from the very first call. And now every once in a while we have to fly out and do some monster presentation but I don’t think we’ve ever seen any client more than once ever.

T: Yeah.

J: In 5 years.

T: But you and I, we’re not in the same room, we’re not in the same state. I don’t know how this conversation would be more enriched if we were sitting across the table from each other.

J: Yeah and I think a lot of it is expectation management. For people who are familiar with this kind of technology they’re like great. I don’t know very many people who have gotten involved into this kind of technology and then sit outside for me. I’m sure they exist I just don’t know many of those people. But for potential clients who haven’t done a lot of work like this that sort of expectation management it’s like it’s gonna be fine, trust me, you’re gonna love it. Because ultimately it’s more efficient for them too.

T: Absolutely it is. No commuting and so forth. Alright for this interview and just research in general I came across a hubspot report and it talked about some really pain points for agencies and one of them were unpredictable revenue and we’re gonna get to that in just a second. But before we get to that, for the folks that are listening to this who are also looking for really great campaign ideas that they can take to a client, can you talk about a recent client, could be one of your clients or a client of one of your agency clients, I don’t care who, but if you could think of something where the campaign was particularly successful and we’ll frame this with the content marketing mindset. Coz so many people are talking about content marketing these days and I know I’ve kinda put you on the spot because I didn’t give you more than one minute before our interview to think of this.

J: Oh that’s okay that’s easy. That I can just finish a whole new book about this topic not before last so not a problem. One of the things that we talk about in my company that I think will be useful to yours Trent is premise of bricks and feathers. So there’s 2 kinds of content. There are feathers which are like a feather. They are lightweight, they are a femural, they are disposable. Feathers are things like a blog posts or a facebook status update or a series of photos, things like that. They’re just kind of poof and they’re not gonna get printed out. They’re most likely not going to get printed out and taken to decision maker. They are top of the funnel kind of bait.

And then you have bricks. And bricks are like bricks. They’re heavier, they’re more tangible, they have to be crafted. There’s no brick tree. You have to make a brick. They have a shelf life and they can be picked up and carried and taken places up the decision making chain. They can be passed along to other people in the organization. So where we’re at in this point in the kind of content marketing renaissance I will say because it’s not new, we’ve been doing content marketing for a hundreds of years it’s just we decided to talk about it lately. Where we’re at in this renaissance is that almost everybody is doing feathers. So everybody’s got blog posts and sort of lightweight kind of content but not enough people are doing bricks like the kind of work that you do here with video show, ebooks and slide share and infographics, things that actually has some production value and some shelf life.

So I remember a post not too long ago about how an agency should balance bricks and feathers and I really believe that you’ve gotta invest in 4 or 6 kind of solid bricks a year as an agency thinks that that generate meaningful lead generation and pass along and then have a shelf life and then actually stand for something. Not just a blog post that tomorrow’s another blog and the day after that’s another blog post. But things that are really of high quality.

Soon the question becomes what’s that brick about. Well I’ll give you an example that we did in our own company. So I did a presentation, I do tons and tons of public speaking probably 75 a year and I did a presentation of the content marketing world conference last fall. And it was about how to measure content marketing. What are the metrics for content marketing. So I took that presentation which was in powerpoint and then I partnered with a content marketing institute who puts on that conferences on their popular blog about content marketing. Then we turned it into an ebook. And that ebook we put on slideshare and we’ve now generated hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of leads from people who clearly are interested in content marketing strategy which is what I do and content marketing metrics which is partially what we do because they have downloaded this particular ebook.

So then we took the brick which is the ebook and then created feathers around it. So we’ve got blog posts around it, we’ve got tweets around it, we have facebook updateds around it, we have other excerpts around it so it’s the center point of what we’re doing this quarter. And next quarter we’ll have something else and next quarter we’ll have something else.

T: Very interesting. Mike Stelzner talks about the same thing. If you may have read his book launched he calls it primary fuel and nuclear fuel.

J: Yes exactly.

T: And he uses something called the social media marketing industry report as one of his bricks. I’m working on one as well, the marketing agency industry report which I’ll talk to you about after the show.

J: Yeah research is a really good way to create bricks like that because it’s not terribly difficult to put that together. The other one I like I lot that I’ve just talked about this morning with somebody is rankings to say okay here’s the deal. Well normally a blog post can turn it into a brick by saying once a month we’re gonna publish whenever the top 40, like the one I used as an example this morning was a lady, a small agency owner, who publishes every month on her blog the top 40 I think it is convention and visitors bureaus participating on pinterest by number of followers. So ordinarily a blog post about cvb’s on pinterest is a feather but because she turned it into the top 40 rankings once a month it becomes a brick because people now want to pay attention to that and they’ve sent to their boss and now she can turn it into a pdf which then goes into some slideshare which spreads around. So that kind of ranking idea I think is really really easy to execute and almost any agency can find again with that xyz axis can find a place that they can sort of own the rankings if you will. You can give ap polls for whatever.

And the other one I would encourage people to think about from my brick’s perspective is just what you’re doing Trent, these interviews. Every agency in the world could have a great podcast if they just spend 1 hour thinking about it, right? Say everybody, interview your clients, interview people in your industry and it’s difficult to master but easy to do. And not nearly enough people are plugging along those lines of thinking yet.

T: And I gotta say I’m ambitious and lazy all at the same time and that’s why I do this interview format. I get a phenomenal feedback on these interviews and including post production I’m done in like less than 2 hours. I cannot write a really awesome 2500 word blog post in 2 hours. And edit it, put fun images, and do the research. I just can’t do it. Nor do I want to go and do a podcast where I simply talk for 45 minutes like an extended monologue. But the conversation, we’re all human beings we all know how to have conversations.

J: We use a software program I see you’re gonna ask about tools later but it’s alright I think I’ve blown your format.

T: No problem.

J: You can tell I do a podcast coz I’m used in trying to do a format. So on our podcast, social pros, where we interview somebody once a week who is the social media manager or content marketing manager for a big brand. So today we’re gonna interview Katrina Walter, she’s head of social media strategy worldwide for Intel. So every week we interview somebody. So we use

T: Yap I use them too.

J: And it’s transcripts but not only do you have audio but now you’ve got the full written press and naturally I use speechpad for my book, for my new book. So we did 50 interviews for the book, did them all over the phone and then speechpad records those calls and give me the written transcript so I had a 100,000 words of book interviews fit in html where I just copy and paste in the manuscript. Made it a lot faster to write this book versus my first book.

T: Yeah. Now I actually have a mentor who’s guiding me through that process coz I’m doing the same thing for a book. He’s been doing this. His book is called marketing wizards, sorry market wizards. It’s about this hedgefund manager. And he talks a lot about the importance of editing those interviews prior to putting, coz a conversation like this isn’t necessary as interesting to read as it is to listen to. So did you have an editor go through and get rid of all the ums, yeah, buts and all that kind of stuff out of those transcripts?

J: I just took them out of the transcripts and clean out myself. So I read every interview and then bolded the actual passages that I thought made sense in the book narrative and then cleaned them up a little bit when I paste them in the manuscript. I use scrivener for book writing software which I love. It’s really amazing. And that was enormously helpful. It does automatically compiles it in the manuscript format and you can have multiiple windows open and has kind of like virtual sticky notes and things like that. It’s really excellent for organization. That’s scrivener.

T: Okay I’ll be checking that out.

J: That’s great. I really really wish I would have it with my first book. I don’t even know if it existed then but I wish I’d had it. It’s a lot easier this time.

T: How long did it take you to write this 2nd book?

J: Not very long because I had it all in my head and I mentioned that I do a lot of speaking. And so this book is basically the book version of the keynote presentation I’ve been doing for 2 or 3 months so I actually again using speechpad recorded myself giving that keynote presentation and transcribed it. So I used that as actually the back bone of the book and I put the book around the keynote speech. So between the interviews and again my researches which has helped me a lot with the interviews, between interviews and putting it all together probably took me 6 weeks.

T: That’s pretty good.

J: But I just turned in the first half to the publisher and then hopefully they won’t say we hate it and start over. We’ll go on them next week. The portfolio was published in it so we’ll see how it goes.

T: Oh I wish you the best of luck on it.

J: Thanks.

T: You mentioned the woman who does the top 40 list, do you know her blog url?

J: I’ll probably find it in one second. Do you edit this out when we’re doing searches?

T: No just send it to me. I don’t edit the show in the middle.

J: Hold on a second, I can do it right now. I just talked about it this morning.

T: Okay.

J: Yap it’s cvb’s on pinterest. Her blog is

T: Great.

J: And she’s at DG Morgan, still in that agency, social media and tourism consultant.

T: Okay. Alright so I promised a few minutes ago we’re gonna talk about this challenge of unpredictable and this was in a technology services space. This was a huge problem. And so I’m just gonna preface of my own story line.

J: That’s why I got out of the web design business right there. That exact reason.

T: Yap. If you don’t have recurring revenue in your business, you don’t have a business that somebody else is gonna want to buy.

J: Oh yeah and you have no ways and strategy.

T: Exactly. So in other words you’re leaving a ton of equity, in my case it was over a million dollars worth of equity that I created when I sold my business because I had $78,000 every single month that came in on the first day of every single month. And that was we didn’t have any products that we coded or anything like that. It was delivering services but it turned all the way to automate some of them by using tools but we just convinced our customers that it was a better deal for them to be on a retainer.

So in the agency space I know that this is a huge issue. I know lots of guys, gals out there, they’re web designers, they’re this, they’re that and they’re on the time and materials model, what advice Jay can you give them to help them, first of all they gotta make the transition in their own mind and then they can make the transition in their profit loss statement?

J: Yap. It’s difficult. You have to understand or believe that ultimately it’s about arbitrary. That ultimately the retainer model is going to benefit you just as much as about more than it will benefit the client. What I mean by that Trent is that the reason why some people don’t wanna do a retainer is they’re like what if it takes us 80 hours then we’re only getting paid for 40. Well you have to believe that you’re good enough business. That more often than not it’s gonna go the other way. And if your business isn’t good enough operationally then it won’t go your way more often than not. Then you probably shouldn’t go on retainer. You should really spend some time figuring out how come you can’t predict how long it’s gonna take you to deliver services. You know what I mean?

The agency model really only works if you can deliver services consistently, right? You can’t have purpose in what it requires you to deliver coz then you can’t get absolutely upside down on the retainer model. But assuming that you have a good sense of what it takes you to deliver and you can do that fairly consistently you have to realize that ultimately it’s gonna benefit you as much or more than the client from an economic stand point. Not just from a flatting of the revenue curve but also just from your yield. Coz ultimately when I say it’s about arbitrary it’s about you, it’s about what is the agency actually paid for an hour of time. That’s the whole model. And yes the retainer takes that out of the day that their conversation but ultimately you backed that out. So okay these retainers lump together compared to the number of people that retained and what are we paying those people and that is sort of how you sort of figure out your overall P&L.

The key is to make clients realize that it’s in their best interest. And the way you do that is to not say look if we spend, and this is how agencies typically say about retainers, we’re gonna put you on retainer because that way you know what your cost certainty is and I don’t know they just come up with other weird excuses. I think the best way to do it is to say look, especially if your agency is a little bit or a lot on the digital side of the aisle where higher level of experimentation less degree of certainty in terms of what you’re gonna do day to day, month to month coz new things come along all the time.

So the way we always insist to argue with is, and this is the line I give with every client in my previous digital agencies, I don’t know what’s gonna work for you but I know how to find out. I know exactly how to use testing and optimization to figure out what is the perfect digital marketing strategy for you and your business. But that takes time. And you don’t want to pay me by the hour to figure out what works coz if it takes us longer to figure out the magic formula for you it’s gonna be more expensive. So if we do this on retainer so that you’ll know what you’re gonna pay and we’ll know what we’re gonna get, the time that we spend to figure this out is at my expense not yours. So me being a great marketer is at my expense not yours. That’s how we used to give it and used to explain it.

And the other thing is really important on retainers coz all of our agency clients are on retainers as well is a lot time clients are reluctant to sign retainers coz they feel like it’s a prison cell. So our deal is look you’re on retainer but everybody’s a 30 day out so nobody has a contract. It’s like look here’s the deal, you’re gonna pay us every month come hell or high water but the second you’re not finding value, stop paying us. And it’s amazing when you put that out there how much that takes away people’s inate and natural fear of retainer business. If they’re not getting value stop paying us.

T: So one of the thought I wanna add to that for the folks in the audience, think of your portfolio clients like a portfolio of investments. The big huge stumbling block that you touched on was what if I do to many more hours if I don’t get enough retainer. Well that won’t happen if you get good at your systems and processes which Jay pointed out. You may have lots of work it bleeds over but there’ll be other months when you hardly have to do a thing for some other client in your portfolio so it’s about the yield on the overall portfolio not the yield on every single client you have in your portfolio.

J: That’s right. That’s why when people measure job cost profitability or even individual client profitability you’re kinda doing yourself a disservice mathematically. Yes you wanna pay a 10th to that but I would put much more stock in what’s the revenue per employee or what’s the yield for the entire organization as opposed to what’s the yield for this one client. Coz you’re exactly right that will lead you to say that we need to make sure that we did $42,000 over a month of work for these guys this month but we only got paid 18, that’s gotta stop. Well that only has to stop if that continues for a long time or if that’s happened more than once. So you gotta take a little bit of a mongrel term approach to these kinds of questions.

And in too many agencies, it can be agency owners think about client profitability in 30 day incurrence which is absolutely the wrong way to think about it. We look at it in 6 or 12 months and say okay a year end of this do we feel like we’re making money on these guys. If not we’ll go somewhere else but when we start thinking did we make money this month on this client no you can’t do it, you can’t run this like that. This is too variable of an industry.

T: And it’s not the way you’re selling to your clients coz you’re saying to your clients

J: We’re partners.

T: Correct.

J: We’re partners to the next 30 days and then we’ll see.

T: Yeah. Alright so that last answer pretty much boils down to this. Have a conversation with your customers that says I don’t know exactly what to do to make your perfect campaign but I know how to figure it out. Let me put that time risk on my shoulders and let me give you credit predictability and now we’re partners.

J: That’s right. And that approach very much works better if you agree with the client from the outset on what this success factor is gonna be. If you say look we’re gonna figure out the magic formula you have to agree on what the ingredients of measuring that formula are. Are we looking at leads, are we looking at sales, are we looking at, there’s obviously a number of different ways to measure marketing and that’s a different podcast for a different time but you need to agree with the client on what those measurements are out front.

T: And all of this is stuff you could be producing blog posts on, well in advance with your conversation with your client so that you’re actually nurturing, nurturing. Even your existing clients need to be nurtured to your current way of thinking in the way that you wanna run your business.

J: I would say that perhaps more so. In fact I’ve written about this with a link on my blog that agencies really should turn this upside down and try and create content and blog post more for their current clients and think about blogging and thought leadership as a client retention and client cross sell vehicle as opposed to a new lead generation.

T: Coz I think something that people forget and I probably was guilty of this, I have my customer but my competitors are prospecting my customer. So just coz they’re my customer right now doesn’t mean that I can stop pursuading them to continue to be my customer.

J: Or persuade them to buy something different from you. I can’t tell you how many times this happened and it continues to happen to me and I’m not very good at marketing automation to current clients and very few people are. We tend to do that through blogging in my company which is probably in the state but it happens all the time that current clients read something that I wrote in the blog and I say that I didn’t realize that you guys did that. Let’s talk about you doing that for us. So now you have a blog post that theoretically was written as a lead acquisition tool is actually a retention and cross sell tool.

T: And for anyone listening to this who thinks oh I’m not a good writer, could you have a conversation about your client with something that you did for them that worked well for them? Guess what? Now you have a podcast. You can do it on skype. You can do it on go to meeting as I do it right here. Like you could just do it on the phone and record it. Every conversation can become reusable content, feathers if you will, that really can benefit your business a long term. So if you’re not doing that now I think Jay and I are both gonna say you really need to be doing it.

J: Oh absolutely. And it’s funny you say about the telephy. I’ve worked with a lot of chief officer marketing types and things like that of big corporations and they go we don’t have time to blog. And I go okay if you have time to talk it on the phone for 3 minutes a week you do. You absolutely do have 3 minutes talking to the phone. So press this button talk into the phone, press another button and here’s a blog post while somebody claim to that. So that idea that you don’t have time to create content is 100% untrue. You just choose not to make time.

T: Correct. I couldn’t agree more. Alright so you stole my thunder a little bit on my tools and resources.

J: Oh sorry. I kind of wove it in more like organic. I got more. What do you want?

T: Alright favorite tools and resources, we’ve talked about infusion soft. You talked about scrivener, what else?

J: Scrivener for books. I’ve talked about speechpad for recording stuff. And I love buffer app. Buffer which is a great tool for sticking social media posts. So the content curation, a great way to create feathers. So every morning I read dozens and dozens of emails including Mike Stelzner’s and other people. I can find things I wanna tweet or facebook or linked in status update that day I use my buffer app where I just click click click and it time release capsule them all from today from about 2:00 3:00 5:00 etc. That’s a great tool. Love it.

T: Why use that instead of Hootsuite? I mean they both basically do the same thing. Is there a reason from one over the other.

J: I think buffer is easier to use and sort of purpose built for that. That’s all it does. It’s very specific to that circumstance.

T: Okay.

J: And has really nice kind of web post and the other software things like that. One of the things that agencies are interested in nowadays is finding other bloggers. So maybe you’re gonna do a blogger outreach campaign for your clients, things like that. Actually I’ll write a blog post tonight about these guys called group high. It’s Outstanding I think the best database blogs and bloggers available. It’s 5 grand a year which is a pretty affordable for agencies are gonna use it for a number of clients. And you can find bloggers by type, by city, by number of twitter followers, by number of instagram followers, by number of pinterest followers and then actually create a list of those bloggers that manage those relationships within the tools and send them emails and did we hear back from them and we’re gonna follow up. Very very nice business software.

T: Yeah and very cool. I haven’t heard that one before. So there’s my little nugget for this interview.

J: See there you go.

T: Thank you. Alright so we’re just about finished up here. Two more questions and then we’ll wrap. What are you most excited about these days in your business? Where’s the opportunities?

J: Really excited about the new book and which is all about truly helpful marketing. So what if your marketing was so useful that people would theoretically pay you for it. And there’s a lot of companies that are doing that and talks all about how to do that and how to really make your marketing a utility. Excited about that and there’s gonna be lots of conferences and things about that next year so that’s exciting.

And then we’re also doing a lot of work with corporate clients and I think agencies can really start to offer the systems service over time around employee activation in social media. So social is becoming de-centralized. It started off as a job, somebody is the social media person in the company and now it’s becoming a skill. It started as a job becoming a skill and that’s fairly typical in business. And so one of the things that we get involved with a lot for corporations is finding employees throughout the enterprise who are pre-disposed to using social media and training them, activating them to speak on the company’s behalf across the social network. So how do you train somebody your company to give a respond on twitter or facebook or write blog posts or just sort of broaden the basic social participation. I think that’s an area that agencies can really help their clients with as well. So we’re excited about that Trent as well.

T: Okay. What book or books are you reading right now?

J: What books am I reading? I have the Good Fortune I guess to get sent lots and lots of books from publishers who want me to review them which is fantastic. Hold on, I’ll be back, I’ll show you.

T: Amazing things will happen, okay.

J: I just got this book from my friend, C.C. Chapman. His new book Amazing Things Will Happen. All about how to live a happy life. I very much recommend this for all agency owners. C.C. has tremendous agency experience and you will become a better after reading this book.

T: I think I’m gonna put that one on my own reading list.

J: And I’m also reading a couple of other books around trust. Don Peppers and Rogers have a new book out about trust and how trust is sort of the key currency in business now. And Jonathan Salem Baskin also has another book also around trust. So there’s two great books out on the same time. Don Pepper’s and Rogers Baskin both around trust as a business currency which I think is an interesting trend to look forward.

T: Don Peppers and Rogers, Jonathan Salem Baskin?

J: Baskin like Robin. No relation I don’t think, that would be crazy. Pretty sure he’s not an ice cream scion but you never know.

T: Alright. Well Jay I wanna thank you for making some time for your first appearance here on the Bright Ideas podcast. I sure hope this will not be your last appearance on the show.

J: Hopefully there were bright ideas. Hopefully there were actually bright ideas. I’ll just see through with the comments.

T: I guess we’ll have to wait for the comments to find out.

J: That’s right.

T: Alright. Terrific thanks very much for being on the show Jay.

J: Thank you and I appreciate it. Take care.

T: If you wanna check out the show notes for my interview with Jay just go to Now I think I wanna very quickly tell you about is the massive traffic tool kit. If you’re looking to get more traffic to your website go to, enter your email and you will get instant access to the tool kit. So what is it? It is a compilation of all the very best ideas that have been shared with me by other expert guests here on Bright Ideas. And the really great part about the tool kit is you do not need to be an SEO guru to be able to make all this stuff happen for yourself. So just go to traffic, enter your details and you’ll get instant access.

So that wraps up this episode. I’m Trent Dyrsmid, your host. If you loved this episode please do me a favor. Head over to itunes, give it a 5 star rating and leave a comment. If you do Bright Ideas goes up in the itunes store and more people will discover the show and more people that discover the Bright Ideas podcasts the more entrepreneurs that we can help to massively boost their business. Thank you very much I will see you in the next episode.

About Jay Baer

Jay BaerJay Baer is a hype-free social media and content strategist, speaker, author and the President of Convince & Convert. Since 1994, he has worked with more than 700 companies on digital and social strategy, including 29 of the FORTUNE 500. As social and content accelerators, Convince and Convert helps tie social business to real business.

He is the co-author of the NOW Revolution, 7 Shifts to Make Your Business Faster, Smarter and More Social (Wiley, 2011) a leading book on social business. Jay speaks to more than 75 groups each year about how social strategy is changing business forever. He is also an active angel investor investing in approximately four start ups a year.

Digital Marketing Strategy: How to Get the Attention of the Media: A Case Study with Jaime Tardy

Are you looking for a simple, yet effective method to getting more press coverage?

Would you like to hear from an entrepreneur who’s been on the home page of Yahoo as well as CNN?

To discover how to one entrepreneur has done exactly that, I interview Jaime Tardy in this episode of the Bright Ideas podcast.

More About This Episode

The Bright Ideas podcast is the podcast for business owners and marketers who want to discover how to use online marketing and sales automation tactics to massively grow their business.

It’s designed to help marketing agencies and small business owners discover which online marketing strategies are working most effectively today – all from the mouths of expert entrepreneurs who are already making it big.

In this episode, I interview Jaime Tardy of Eventual Millionaire.

Watch Now

Leave some feedback:

Connect with Trent Dyrsmid:


An Interview with Jamie TardyTrent Dyrsmid: Coming up in today’s episode, how do you make a 6 figure income by the age of 22 and then be $70,000 in debt by the age of 24 and then go on to have your story featured on CNN and on the homepage of Yahoo!? I guess she’s gonna share with us exactly how she did that. Imagine not being well-known, not having many contacts yet wanting to start a mastermind group with millionaires that wanted to participate in. Well, my guest did that as well. Or how about this? Have you wondered how to start building those really pivotal or powerful relationships that are gonna help you to succeed faster? Well, my guest did that as well. All of these and more so stay tuned.Hey everyone! My name is Trent Dyrsmid and I’m the founder of and on the show with me today is a blogger, interviewer, business coach, succeeding in all three, and a mom and a wife and her name is Jamie Tardy. And I got to tell you this has been one of the more fun interviews I’ve done in a long time so you’re really in for a treat. Please join me in welcoming Jamie to the show.Hi Jamie! Thank you so much for making some time to come on and do this interview with me. I’m really excited about our interview today because you’re an interviewer and I’m an interviewer and I’m sure that we’re gonna get to compare some interesting notes and hopefully the audience is gonna enjoy that process. So welcome to the show.Jamie Tardy: Thanks so much for having me Trent.T: So in my research on you, I made a couple of bullet points. I’m gonna throw this up so the audience has some idea of who you are and how you came to be an interviewer. So you did the college path, made 6 figures by 22, racked up a whole lot of debt I think about $70,000 in debt by 24, quit your job in 2007 and nearly failed as a blogger in the first 6 months I think. How am I doing?J: Well you tell me all that crappy stuff. Yes! Oh yeah, exactly right, perfect. Good research.T: So I wanna dive a little bit deeper into the psyche of Jamie because for me this interview like all the interviews that I do is the study of success. You have become a very successful online marketer. You got a lot of press for yourself. You’ve had speaking engagements. You’re building a solid reputation and we’re gonna dive in to how you did all of that. But before we get into that let’s just talk a little bit about so you went to college, you got the career thing and then you went “this isn’t working for me”. Kind of what happened back then?J: Yeah. Hopefully people will take this too because I know I felt really alone when I was in that point. And I know now of course I hear from tons of other people saying “oh I’m going to be that few things” but now it’s not a big deal. Now we’re lucky enough to have the people online telling their stories and stuff but then I did everything I was supposed to. I had a goal to be a millionaire, that was my whole thing since I was 8. I went to school. I know that’s kind of weird for me, a little girl, but I went to school and made lots of money, thought I was a success, I travelled around the US, had a really nice title, expense account, got really fat coz I ate out all the time.And so thereafter a few years of doing like “yeah I don’t like being called at 2:00 in the morning saying ‘oh this is broken, can you fix this right now?'” And I was like “oh this is all there is?” Actually one of the key turning points was a lot of my co-workers, I worked in a video on demand, so like when you go on TV you can order movies, right? And so we’re working I think like 40 hours in a row or something ridiculous where we were up for days. And one of my co-workers just like “you know, Jamie, you shouldn’t be so stressed. It’s not like we’re curing people.” I was like “yeah I’m helping people who don’t have to go to the video store to get real CDs.” Like yeah this was so sort of that whole like “what is my purpose here?” Was it really to help people get more movies online which don’t get me wrong, it was great but that wasn’t really what it was about.So that’s where the turning point of going “okay what am I actually doing with my life?” It’s not about the money so why am I here? And that was sort of the thing that I tipped.T: Okay so at that point in time you had this decision that is I would say the pivotal decision for so many people who make the transition to becoming an entrepreneur and most that don’t make it as the quitting. I mean some of them get a boot, they get laid off, they get fired and so the decision gets made for them which seems really crappy at the time but those that make the transition in hindsight always go “hey that was awesome and best thing that ever happened” like our good buddy, Pat Flynn.J: Exactly. I was thinking exactly as Pat too. I was like sometimes it’s easier, just kicked out and you have to do it.T: Yeah. So in your situation much like mine you made the decision, if I did my research correctly, to quit. So there’s a whole lot of psychological stuff, and for those folks who are listening to this interview, yes we are gonna get to the online marketing techniques and strategies don’t worry but so much as I’ve become older I’ve realized that so much of successes is really what’s happening, it’s your belief systems. So can you talk a little bit about what was happening in your head around this thought of quitting your job and I guess was your original vision you’re just gonna become a blogger and magically somehow you’ll turn that into money? What was the plan back then?J: Okay so I mean the hard thing is that when I had that realization I thought I was successful and really noticing the $70,000 in debt was like oh maybe I’m not actually, maybe I made really bad choices so I couldn’t even just quit. So it took me a good, and my husband is a performer, he does like juggling and contortion and crazy stuff and always worked for himself and so quitting my stable job, my husband hates it and I’m always like, and my husband was juggler like I’m gonna quit a 6 figure job, my husband is a juggler. No offense to my husband. He’s wonderful. Really great at what he does. Makes really good money now but still back then it was sort of like “hhmmm yeah” like good idea Jamie.

So it was more of about like what are we gonna do? Like how can we do this? So it was a good that year of paying up over $70,000 in debt even before I could figure this out. And then I had that realization of going even if I have to sell my house, even if I have to go to extremes I’m gonna figure out a way to do this no matter what. And this worked on my mind, right? No matter what. So it wasn’t this whole thing of “yehey, let’s quit and I’m gonna know exactly what I’m gonna do.”Actually what I did I don’t recommend for other people which was I quit, actually one of the catalyst also was I wanted to have a baby and I couldn’t when I was travelling, you know, no time. So I was pregnant through most of the paying off all that debt and so my goal at first was just to have 3-6 months at home with my son. And then I was gonna figure out business stuff. I’ll figure out what I wanted to do which isn’t really a good idea. We had a good year and a half of expenses so that was great. We took that ton of money so that way it would be possible but yeah it was like “hhmmm now what do I wanna do after I quit my job? I don’t know.” And then it took over a year to even have general idea of what I wanted to do which was really bad.That’s why I don’t really suggest it. I suggest sort of struggling in your job and figuring out what you want to do. That way if it doesn’t work you don’t have to worry about it. Coz I tried, I have an iphone app, I have a provisional patent, I tried like all these different things just because I was curious and I wanted to learn it, figure out business stuff. And so that sort of why I started. I didn’t even start blogging. I mean I started it but it wasn’t even the thing. I’d started the blog almost 2 years before when I started paying off my debt and stuff like that and that was just a whim coz I wanted to start a blog. It didn’t have anything to do with it.T: Okay.

J: That was all over the place.

T: Okay so it wasn’t so much the decision of “hey I’m gonna be quitting and become an entrepreneur.” It’s “hey I’m gonna quit, I’m gonna spend some time, I’m gonna get my life back in order to balance, or whatever word you would like to use. I will spend some time with my new baby and then we’ll figure out the business thing afterwards.”

J: Yeah. Not a good idea but yes. Coz I knew I was gonna be an entrepreneur. I just didn’t know exactly what I was gonna do.

T: Yeah not entirely dissimilar to mine. Quit at $20,000 a year job, sold my house, put all the money in the bank, went back to school and had a plan to get a job. But I came up with a business idea while I was in school, draw out a business plan, got some funding, graduated from school, but the business didn’t succeed because it was a .flop a .com and then in the ashes of that, coz now I’m at zero, everything’s up from zero. I decided to start what ultimately the company that I had last and I built into a couple of million dollar a year company and sold it but again I don’t recommend for that transition or that path to anyone either.

J: You know what’s funny. It makes perfect sense to us now but of course you don’t know that at that time anyway, You’re just looking to do what you need to do and so while I know that now I don’t know if I’ll necessary would have changed it. And you probably wouldn’t do it. Like probably that failure was probably huge for you.

T: Yeah after selling that business it had a really profound impact on what type of business that I wanted to do next. And that’s why I’m online because and I think it’s such a great way for so many people to start because it doesn’t cost a lot of money, because you don’t have to quit your job to do it although it’s definitely helpful. There’s a whole bunch of really good reasons. So and this isn’t my interview, this is yours.

J: Right, sorry.

T: I read somewhere that at about month six of blogging you were ready to give up, I think. Have I got that right?

J: Yap. They say like do your blog for 6 months until you can find your voice and figure out your audience. And so I was like working my butt off trying to do the best blogging job I could ever do and I was a business coach at that time. So I have been a business coach for a couple of years before I started my blog back up. And I was going “this is wasting so much time and now I’m not making any money. Why am I doing this?” Right? Travelling is kind of important and blogging seems kind of them. And then the next week I couldn’t pull the trigger. I had a business coach and he was like “then just send an email to all your subscribers and say that we’re gonna stop this and that sort of thing.” I couldn’t pull the trigger. And shocking short days later I got an email from CNN saying that they wanna feature my site. And then from there it just started going kinda crazy.

T: Out of the blue. You didn’t pitch CNN beforehand, nothing?

J: Nope. The reason I found, I think I found out the way that they found me. I had a guest post on get rich slowly on my story and apparently, quite a few actually, writers for big publications got to read that blog and that’s where they got my story. But yeah I hadn’t pitched them at all.

T: Okay so that’s an important, very important point that you just mentioned and it piggy backs on an interview that I did with Ryan Holiday just not so long ago. So for those who’re listening who don’t know who Ryan Holiday is, he just published a book called Trust Me, I’m Lying… Confessions of a Media Manipulator. And in my interview and in his book, one of the things and we’re gonna talking much more about getting press in your and my interview, but one of the things he really stressed was important is don’t pitch the reporters of CNN, pitch the blogs that those reporters read. And so in your case did you know that get rich slowly was read by so many reporters or was that just a fortune smiling down on you?

J: I was like “hey that’s really big blog.” It took me a while to even go like I was big enough to guest post. Now I know JV well and we met and he’s super cool but at that time I was like scared. And so the funny thing is now I know a lot of reporters that actually read get rich slowly. I have a friend, Lorie Amandacamp that actually featured me in coz she writes there too. And she reads get rich slowly too. So it’s kinda simple, yeah it’s just kinda driven. I just did a conference where I talked about how I think people should guest post on bigger blogs, you know, not necessarily star blogs but bigger blogs coz you really don’t know who’s been reading it.

T: Well let’s divert, I mean coz that’s a very interesting topic, I’m gonna see which questions here in my questions that I wanna skip. Coz I was gonna talk about interviewing but before we get to that let’s sidebar on to guest posting because it is something that I have had some success with and something that I think I need to do more of. I’m sure many people who are listening to this would also greatly benefit from it. So Jamie’s crash course on guest blogging in 10 minutes or less. Go.

J: Okay ready? Well it’s funny. So I guest post in get rich slowly. I guest posted a few times since. The first time I did it it was awesome like 400 subscribers especially when I was a brand new blog I thought that was the coolest thing ever. I haven’t gotten that much fun then except way later someone who kept lingers for slow finance found the article. Even though it wasn’t new, even though it’s not big of a deal I think when people are searching which is one thing that we don’t really think about, when you write a guest post for someone else’s site that is a high ranking site especially with the SEO, when somebody searches for that free or something like that, that has a lot more chance of ranking especially if you’re a newer site. So that’s where I think it’s also very valuable that we don’t really think about stuff so when you’re writing guest post start thinking what the press might be putting in for search terms or when they’re trying to look at blogs, what would they really be looking for. I think that’s really important point for you.

But I might be distinct for guest posting in general in bigger blogs is to build relationships and you probably know that too. It takes a while. Sometimes people will, like JV, except when they’re trying to accept guest post which is great but some of the other people that are harder like Pat Flynn, I’ve known Pat for almost 3 years and I go “Pat, please give me guest post.” Well, I’m finally gonna have one coming up really soon. But in general I now have really good relationship for all the people so it’s really easy to get guest posts in other places because of that. So that I think is one of the big keys.

T: So how does someone begin to build a relationship with whomever at whatever blog? How should they start?

J: Interview them, not.

T: That’s one of my secrets. That’s why I’m an interviewer. It’s the best networking tool in the world coz nobody hardly ever says no.

J: Exactly. Okay I’ve interviewed over 70 millionaires so yeah. I have millionaire friends. I’ve been invited to Greece, to Fiji, and then for Maine. Like come on, so random come over to Maine and there’s like 2,000 people in it. Anyway, so I think you’re right. I think that’s huge. That’s not actually how I’ve gotten most of my relationships because my online marketing buddies and friends like most of them are millionaires and it’s kinda funny. So that’s not actually how I got that. I mean I never tell Michael Hyatt that I’m actually gonna be guest posting in Michael Hyatt’s too but that wasn’t really how I did it.

A lot was when I very first started online at all I knew nothing. Absolutely nothing but I have a lot of video background but I didn’t really know that much about blogging and internet marketing so what I ended up doing was going I need a mastermind group of people that know what they’re doing and I’m just kinda ask them. Coz there is so much stuff online, it’s so overwhelming. I have been online for 3 months going “I don’t know what the right stuff is.” And so I asked Pat Flynn and Mary Kate who actually used to work, well it’s a nice company now but she used to be just a blogger. Now I have millioinaires in the mastermind group too. But I decided that I thought it would be a great idea to start this mastermind group with a ton of really good people.

T: Wait a minute. Let me interject here for a minute and pardon my crass description, you were a blogging nobody who knew nothing and you went to Pat Flynn and said you wanna be in my mastermind group and he said yes?

J: I did. Now I remember this was 3 years ago so he wasn’t as huge as he is now, right? So I looked for people that were pretty big but not too big and I’ll give you one tip on how I got him to say yes. He’s gonna love that I’m talking about him now. Oh I talk to him all the time so it’s no big deal. So the way that I got him was I said what I was good at so I had been part of the viral video sensation called eepy bird who did diet coke and mentos online and so I knew a lot about viral video and I did a whole bunch of stuff to do that. So I’m short of said “you know I’m just getting online but I have a lot of experience and all that stuff.” And then I was like I wanna get really good people so I went on and found, tried to find as many other really amazing bloggers as I could.

So once you get lots of amazing bloggers then the other amazing bloggers want to come in on it, right? And Pat Flynn and I had a bunch of other people say yes that are pretty big. And so that was really cool. And then I set it up so it was very structured. A lot of people are like “hey, let’s start a mastermind group.” Yeah I don’t know, when do you wanna meet? My whole thing was very structured. I had pdf documents. So I had to actually ask Pat twice before he said yes but he said yes.

And so that was huge for me online in general so when I went out to blog world my first time I knew a whole bunch of successful bloggers who introduced me to a whole much other successful bloggers which made me cool, right? I’m now that cool blogger. I didn’t have to speak my first time even though speaking was great. I was sort of to be on the same level as them even though I had an itty bitty blog.

T: Yeah very nice. So you talked about structure and you talked about a pdf can you just give us a little bit more details on what you meant by that?

J: So I have run mastermind groups before and so I had sort of an outline of structure of like okay the first 10-15 minutes were going over the accountability from the week before we’re doing our wins, this is the same thing that we do every single week right now. And then we do a hot seat so every week there’s one person in the hot seat where we really talk about their issues and what they’re going through. And then we’ll do a resource or two so if there’s anything online that you’ve been really using that you really love we share resources. And then we talk about goals for the upcoming week and then we call each other accountable the next week. So that’s sort of the structure and that was laid out in the pdf and also people can’t skip more than 2 meetings. They have to really be dedicated and that sort of stuff.

T: Okay terrific. I like that. It’s nice to talk about wins, put someone in the hot seat, talk about tools and resources, talk about goals and then hold each other accountable.

J: Exactly.

T: Interesting.

J: Pretty simple.

T: So going back to my second tangent, I don’t know if people noticed, my first tangent was guest posting. So you talked about building relationships. You’ve mentioned that several things here that I hope people have noticed. Attend conferences, preceeding those conferences by doing the mastermind and reaching out to people, obviously interviewing is a fantastic way to do that but not everybody maybe wants to be an interviewer. What about in the social networks, did you retweet people’s stuff? Did you tweet at them? Did you comment on their walls? Were you doing anything like that to get on the radar screen of people that did not know you existed?

J :I didn’t do too much of that. It’s hard because if you’re not very big, like I did a lot, you probably too, I did a lot of messages like “oh my gosh, I love you. You’re awesome.” That were just some sort of laughed in the same thing. Like “oh thank you. Thank you so much, it’s awesome.” But it’s not, what you really wanna do is be on the same level with them to make sure that you’re not going “oh my gosh, you’re awesome. Thank you so much for what you do.” That’s it. They’re like “oh thank you.” But make it so that they know that you might be wanna set someone that they wanna know too. So what I actually did when I was first starting is that I emailed a lot of people and sort of what I always look for whenever I build any relationship whatsoever is connection. So what can we connect on? I remember there was a blogger and he used to write about lots of different stuff but one of the things that he liked was buddhism and a couple of other things that I really connected with him on so I sent him an email and I was like “wow, you like this which is the same thing. I did karate.” He was into karate. So I was like “we like all these things. That’s awesome.” Thanks for going over here. And so that makes someone go “oh they like the same stuff as me. That’s pretty cool.” That’s putting me on the same level. That’s not necessarily going “oh my gosh, that’s great. Thank you so much.” So that’s sort of what I try and do too. Even when I meet people now, even when I go to conferences, it’s really interesting to go “oh you like pasta?” Ah I love people. You know what I mean? Coz I all like all that stuff too so it’s pretty easy for me. But I love being able to connect with people and stuff like that so that’s usually the way I try that to start building a relationship with people.

T: Okay so you just email them, here’s what we have in common, do you wanna talk, some of them say yes some of them say no, great, and the ball begins to roll from that point.

J: As a name dropped in times too by the way. So like if I know they’re good friends with someone that I know I’m like “oh I’m friends with so and so. I just looked at your stuff.” And then start building connections and stuff like that.

T: Okay so now when you’ve done this, when you’ve planted these seeds, when you go to a conference it’s gonna be quite a bit easier coz now you’re not walking up to strangers and saying “hey what do you do? What do I do?” Which most people really don’t enjoy being on the receiving end of or on the initiating end of. But this way you’re up to say “hey man, nice to meet you in person first time blah blah blah.”

J: Yeah finally. Exactly, that’s exactly it. From the very first time, the very first blog world or any conference that I’ve ever been to I try and do my research on who’s gonna be there ahead of time and then connect with them beforehand and say “oh we should meet up. Oh I should see you.” So when I message them on twitter or when I see them it’s like “oh I’m supposed to be talking to you.” Not who is this random person coming up to me say trying to touch me when I’m trying to do something else. So definitely, from that very first one. And I’m trying to convince you to go to new me expo, I’m speaking there. Actually I’ll do the interviewing in January. But everytime I’ve gone, I went and spoke at the world domination summit you know I just love doing conferences. There’s actually a conference in Maine, so excited. Gerry Hepburn was there and Amy Porterfield and Chris Brown and then we all got to hang out this past weekend and just conferences are just super fun. I know nobody knows about that conference.

T: No and I tried, it’s late. Derrick, keynoting that, didn’t he? Coz he and I just traded an email coz I’m gonna interview him shortly and he’s like “hey dude, sorry coz I was just on the plane from keynoting something.”

J: He was hanging out with me. I have a picture of him with a big old lobster with his girlfriend eating lobster.

T: Nice. So which conference was that?

J: It’s called agents of change and my friend Rich Brooks put it on. I think Rich usually speaks at new media expo and blog world auction too.

T: Okay.

J: That’s actually how I met him. We’re both from Maine. I met him on the plane kind of I knew him a little bit but we sat together and the thing right down to blog world and he was speaking and I was speaking. I was like “hey wow, that’s really weird.” And we started a relationship that way so.

T: So new media expo, agents of change, blog world and there was another one that you mentioned.

J: World domination summit which is Chris Guillebeau’s. That was the best conference I think I’ve ever been to.

T: Really?

J: That was a very very good.

T: Have you ever been to Ryan Dice’s traffic and conversion summit?

J: I haven’t. Was it good?

T: I haven’t been but a good buddy of mine who had the same kind of company that I had and hands down he said best conference he’s ever been to.

J: Really?

T: Yeah.

J: Oh I love finding out what the best conference people have ever been to. Like that to me that’s what I wanna go to. I think I’m going to south by southwest this year too coz I’ve heard so many things about that so we’ll see.

T: Yeah that’s one on my list. And I attended Yanik’s underground in DC.

J: Oh yeah?

T: Last fall I guess it was now, earlier this year. Man I don’t even remember. It was pretty cool. There was a lot of people there.

J: Was it the best conference you’ve ever been to?

T: I think I might have said that. Hopefully Yanik is listening to this. I did get to meet him. He’s a super cool guy. Kinda short though.

J: I need to interview him. Really? That’s why we were just laughing about that in this last conference how short people are. I’m really tall. Nobody realizes how tall.

T: You’re tall?

J: Like I’m not that tall. But I’m 5’9″ but when I wear heels.

T: Yeah you’re 6 foot.

J: I’m really tall. And so like Derrick, not very tall.

T: Not so tall.

J: That’s very funny. Pat Flynn also. Sorry I’m giving away all these secrets of all these people but when you meet them in person.

T: The blogosphere is filled with short people.

J: Yes. It is.

T: I’m tall. I’m 6’1″. And not even, when I put my heels on I’m even taller than that.

J: I need to see that. Come with me to the expo out.

T: I will. Wow! Okay our tangents are really good and off track.

J: I know. So bad.

T: So this interview was supposed to be about, alright, let’s try and see if we can get this back on track. Hopefully our audience is having a laugh but they’re still listening.

J: I was gonna say one another thing. I interviewed Dane Maxwell just like you did and I’m friends with Dane. It was really bad. So this is not so bad. That was like an hour and a half of I don’t know what to say.

T: All over the place.

J: Everyone loved it. There were people even out, got lots of emails, people obviously were loving it. I was like yeah. He was like hiding the food that he was eating and goes I’m not gonna tell you what I’m eating.

T: Okay wait now I wanna really run and get my cat and just hold him up in front of the camera. I said to Jamie off here that I think my cat was gonna try and sit on my lap for the interview but I had to shoosh him away coz he purrs really loudly and the mic would actually probably pick it up.

J: I love the background stuff, you know what I mean? I love that stuff. I think it’s great.

T: Alright so you’ve had a lot of success getting press. Now so where you talked about how you got to CNN. But you were on the, and I learned all this in our pre-interview call, you’re on the homepage of Yahoo for 48 hours, sadly 46 of those hours ended up being a waste but I’ll let you tell that story. First of all, how did you get on to the homepage of yahoo?

J: Well I was already featured there twice in 3 months. So the first time was because of that CNN article. They had me listed in CNN then they asked me to be on the TV show within the next day or two. So Adam Baker from Man vs. Debt was actually in that same article. I didn’t realized I was the only one that there was about 6 other people talking about getting on the deck. I was the only one that they asked to go on CNN. So I went on CNN with Tony Harris on TV. And then from that a couple of days later they featured the story on yahoo and my face was on Yahoo’s homepage. So part of me was like maybe it’s coz I’m a girl, that kind of thing, that’s why they featured me up or something. I don’t know but that was the first one.

T: That was my next question, why do you think they picked you out of the whole crowd?

J: I don’t know. Yeah I mean there were 6 of them and I looked at the photos of the 6 of them and maybe I had a professional headshot so maybe that was why. I mean I don’t know.

T: Was there any other girls?

J: There were girls and guys but there was not one just girl so. I mean I know it happened again so that was a different picture of me so I mean that might be it too when the second one came about shortly after and watched it. I was in October, it wasn’t 3 months and then in March I was featured again because I was in Kiplinger’s personal finance magazine. And yahoo, the reason why I was in yahoo is coz they were syndicated so they syndicate CNN and they syndicate Kiplinger’s personal finance. And so it was the same of very similar story, dude pays of $70,000 of debt and a whole much other stuff.

T: So it was a good human interest story that obviously many people in the audience especially, and what year was this?

J: Well 2, well yeah.

T: Okay.

J: A while ago. When I first started. So a year after blogging. I’ve been blogging for just about 3 years now so about 2 years ago.

T: So during this current recession so lots of people could relate to being $70,000 in debt and in particular for you to be a young woman who was successful at getting herself out of debt and you’re not exactly hurt on the eyes, all of those things together I’m sure contributed to.

J: Can I quote you on this? A quote from Trent.

T: I told you yesterday I look like John Hem and I go to her and I go “who’s John Hem?”

J: I think I know who that is.

T: It’s the guy from Mad Men, Don Draper. I knew his character name but I didn’t know his real name. So she was laughing at me coz I had no idea coz I’ve been told quite a few times actually that I look like him.

J: I bet you should have a code.

T: A code, yeah maybe. Maybe I can call myself the Don Draper of blogging. Oh I’m gonna get some hate mail. Do not send me a nasty email. Jamie started this.

J: I know. Send him a nasty email, that’s fine.

T: Okay so you should probably tell what happened for 46 of those 48 hours or whatever the number is. Why it didn’t do you any good because while it’s not marketing related at all it’s a pretty important thing for people to understand if they’re going out to get press.

J: Yap. And this is what I tell, and I hate telling it everytime coz I feel stupid but let me tell it again. So both times my server crashed. So the first time it wasn’t that big of a deal, I had about a 1,000 people come because there was no link. Second time I was on the homepage of yahoo for 48 hours and there was a link.

T: Did you have control over whether there was a link or no link or is that up to them?

J: So the second time, everytime now I ask and so with Kiplinger’s personal finance I asked her to put a link online. I didn’t know it was gonna go to yahoo but I asked her to make sure there was a link and she said okay. So yeah, always ask, always always ask for a link. It’s really good for SEO anyway but also nobody, another issue. So the very first time I didn’t have, so I was on yahoo’s home page. When you googled my name my site came up. When you yahoo’d my name, which nobody says yahoo’d I think, someone else’s site came up and then my facebook page came up and I wasn’t even to like the bugs. So even when my site was up when there was no link it was just bad. There was really facebook fan request but that was about it.

T: I think you got a marriage proposal too, didn’t you?

J :I did. I’ve gotten a few more since then. I’m very proud of those.

T: And when you were on the homepage did you by chance dance around your office and say “yahoo!”.

J: No I didn’t. I should have. Maybe I can do it again. So that was the thing. Really, really ask for links and also if there is no link make sure when you google your name just in case they don’t have your website and google or yahoo or bing your name make sure it comes up in search results. So for 2 hours the second time works from going back and forth, the second time I was up in 2 hours, I got 8,000 visitors to my site in 2 hours.

T: That’s a lot.

J: Yeah. And then it crashed. So 4,000 times 46 hours, yeah I know it hurts a lot. So make sure that your site can handle it. I had a hosting site, a hosting company and it’s just a shared server and I’m a geek. I have a degree in IT, I know this, I saw work in the server room at a place and I was just dumb.

T: And you were on a $10 a month cheap skate hosting plan back then?

J: Yes I was. Till I see someone dumb. Yeah really dumb. Don’t do that.

T: Two thumbs up.

J: For me, yeah. Learn from me, don’t do that.

T: Okay so let me go back to my notes here coz we are eventually gonna get, I want people to learn more about this interview business coz it really is such a terrific business but I also wanted to make sure that we keep talking about press. Alright can you summarize for us then just like you did with guest posting the Jamie’s 10 minute crash course on how to get some press?

J: Alright I just did a snitch on this, it was a lot longer than 10 minutes so we’ll see if I can do this.

T: Maybe you’ll do a master class for me hopefully, hopefully.

J: Nice shot.

T: Maybe.

J: I don’t know. I’m kidding. So the first thing that I say is to start with like I don’t know if you guys know too much about it already but it connects journalists with people that are potential sources. I’ve gotten quite a bit of press from them. I’ve gotten fox business, success magazine, like a bunch of kinda cool places from there.

T: Say that url, Jamie please say that url again because I think they missed it.


T: Isn’t it

J: No.

T: No, oh my bad.

J: The name of the service is help a reporter out. The website url is Not very smart but that’s what’s written.

T: No yeah.

J: So I would do that and try and practice right pitching coz you need to get better at pitching before you get bigger stuff. So you can do some of the lower stuff that’s good for backlinking anyway. And then try and get the bigger stuff. And then the reason why that’s good is because when you’ve already had some press it’s much easier to get more of it. So on my site when it says I have all these press, people that come to my site go “oh I already know. She’s okay with the media.” Especially like TV stations and stuff like that don’t want you if you’re not very good on camera. So they wanna know that you’ve done stuff ahead of time or a good resource. So that just makes you a little more credible so that’s also why I say to start up with that and then move forward.

T: Okay so help a reporter out resource no. 1. Try and get some of the low hanging fruit, get some social proof, hone your pitch skills, build relationships with those reporters and over time you’re snowball will get bigger as it rolls down the hill.

J: Yeah. Just like I said with Laura Bandecamp who actually reads get rich slowly but that’s not how I met her. I met her because I was using help a reporter out. She needed a source for her book. I didn’t even know who she was. I became a source for her book. Later she emailed and was like “Oh my fifth for this article I’m doing.” And we’ve since build a relationship again going like “Oh I should take you out for coffee. You’re great.” You know that sort of stuff. So definitely start building relationships even when you don’t necessarily know where they’re gonna go.

T: Okay. Thank you for that. Now you have, I know you’ve talked about other ways we’re only gonna have so much time in this interview. So when we get to the end of this interview or the heck you can even say it now. You know people how can they reach to get more of you to get more of these stuff.

J: My blog is

T: There you go.

J: Yeah. I have a whole thing on press and stuff like that too.

T: Okay. So let’s talk about the interview business for a bit. It’s one that obviously we’re both actively involved in. And it’s your interview so you get to give answer to all the questions. Why is this such a good business to be in? And does it work in any niche?

J: It’s so funny because usually I am on the other side. I love talking. It’s so hard being an interviewer and going and I don’t say anything.

T: I’ve had people write me to tell me to shut up. They say let your guest talk so and here I am talking. So shut me up. Start talking.

J: I had that too. I just sent out a survey and someone said you talk too much and you just need more pictures of yourself on the site. So I’m like “oh you want me to shut up and then you want more pictures of me.” Yeah okay that’s funny. And it’s hard. There’s a fine balance coz you really want your audience to know who you are and there’s people that listen to my interviews love me which is great. I mean not all of them of course, right? But most of the interviews are from millionaires but a lot of them really like me too. So I love interjecting but you really have to make sure they haven’t heard this before because hearing the same story more than once is so annoying but you also wanna be able to build the relationship with like the millionaire. So when I’m talking a millionaire I want the millionaire to know all about me too.

T: Exactly.

J: So that way we can start building a relationship. So I try and look for like those connection points with the millionaire that I haven’t you know same old same old for my audience and not talk too much at the same time. So there’s a lot of different things going on. But yeah I absolutely love interviewing because almost no one, even millionaires, say no.

T: Yap.

J: Coz they’re flattered. You can start building relationship big time because there’s a lot of prep work before he enters the whole interview. You have to tell them later you know when it comes live you’re a lot of different touch points as you go. And you can continue the conversation and go “oh I love to have you on the show again in a little while”. That sort of stuff. So I think it’s huge for building relationships even if you didn’t get any traffic from this. You should interview. My mentor who taught me business coaching, I’m like you need to interview people because it’s the best way for him to get infront of even prospects or people that might be good relationships for him locally, he should do it too. So I think it’s huge.

And I think you can pretty much do it in just about any niche. I have a friend who’s a performer and I was like go interview all of the venues that you wanna be booked at because it’d be great. You’d have a podcast talking about like what they look for, you know maybe how they market so that way other venues can listen to them. And then you’re getting an email. It just makes sense.

T: Yeah it does. I just can’t say enough about all of the perks. I’ll be honest with you I started interviewing on my internet marketing blog called because I was looking for an easy way to produce more content. I knew that people were getting sick of hearing my stuff all the time and so I thought well coz I haven’t been successful at everything obviously. I’ve only had at that point in time I had a limited amount of success and so I thought well I wanna get free lessons, no. 1, I’d like to expand my network and I don’t wanna have to type all the damn content all the time.

J: Thank you for saying that.

T: Voila! The interview business was born and in my case it ended up spawning an entirely new business where this interview will be posted and I think that the potential for that business is just so much more than the internet marketing audience.

J: Yeah.

T: And I gonna give props to you because I took your advice for the people listening to this, in the pre-call Jamie told me about how she’d attracted all these millionaires to be as interview guests for her and some of them opted in to her mastermind and again you know what? I’m not gonna tell the story. It’s your interview. You’re gonna tell us, right?

J: Well what I was gonna say before, the reason why I started interviewing was I never saw myself as a writer. I can write and that’s great but to me, it took me a while and my mastermind group thanking this for them was like you’re really good at communicating and that sort of stuff. And so I was like I should do a podcast coz both Pat and Murin had a podcast already. That’s a great idea why wouldn’t I do that. And Murin was like you shouldn’t interview only millionaires. And I was like that’s a good idea I should totally do that. And it sort of came about from that. So because it’s so much easier to produce content this way too. You get new and interesting. You can have people that specifically know hard core all about that specific thing is huge. It’s awesome for content definitely.

T: And you know we all get transcripts done so this is just a little take away for anyone listening to this. If you still want to have written articles when you do an interview like this you end up with 10-12,000 words of content that you didn’t have to pay for. If you’ve asked your questions in such a way you can just get your VA to go and take the transcript and strip out one question and answer and wala! blog post.

J: Yeah it can be a huge thing. So yeah it’s huge. The transcripts, now I’m writing a book proposal right now who actually found me from my blog because I had all that press on there. Was like oh she must know what she’s talking then. And I looked at how many transcripts I have and each of them are 15 pages and I have 70 of them. Like that’s a lot of content. That’s so much content and it’s crazy. So definitely.

T: You and I are on similar paths.

J: Well you meet me in person.

T: I think I told you I’m doing a book as well.

J: Oh are you really?

T: Yap. And this is again I was attempting to give you props I meant in the go so I wanted to get some, people who’d made the million dollars online. And so I took your advice and I went and put a thing up on haro which was free by the way. And I said looking for people who have an expertise in online marketing and sales automation who are millionaires and would like to be featured in a book. And my book is tentatively titled, I don’t know if I wanna give the title away, somebody might turn off the registry so I’m not gonna give the title yet.

And I got a lot of responses and I did a pre-interview this morning before this interview of this guy, he’s got a $7,000,000 a year business that makes this hot sauce and he was jazzed to talk to me. And he was a really cool guy and he’s gonna do 2 interviews and he’s gonna be in the book and he’s gonna blah blah blah. You wanna make it bad, he’s probably got a mailing list for his $7,000,000 a year company and when my interview goes live it’s just promotion for him. If I have rapport with him, I’m thinking it’s fairly good chance he’s gonna tell his list about my site, his interview on my site which creates all sorts of opportunity for additional opt ins and traction and traffic and all these wonderful things.

And again I’m totally hijacking the interview but I wanted people to understand that this is it. It’s really such an awesome business to be in.

J: It is. It totally is. Congratulations on taking my advice now.

T: Yeah thank you.

J: That’s one of the biggest question I always get from everyone is how do you find millionaires. And as I responded to it, Trent, the very first time I put it out at haro. I thought I was gonna get 2 and I got 30. And I was like oh I should make this once a week instead of I was gonna do once every while, maybe once a month. I didn’t think it’d be that easy to find them.

T: Yeah and now a question that I haven’t asked yet and I’ve been thinking about, do you validate that they’re millionaire in any way, shape or form or do you just take their word for it?

J: I did that a lot. So I specifically asked them if they have a net worth of at least a million dollars or more and I need them to say yes. So I don’t go in a look at stuff. If I do the interview and I feel like they’re not telling me the truth or that they’re sort of shady then I’m just don’t post the interview.

T: Yeah.

J: But in general like if they usually seem really genuine and stuff like that I think it’s good. And I’ll look for stuff. Maybe when the book comes out that’s actually what I’m talking to my agent about. When the book comes out I think there’s gonna have to be more validation, more verification.

T: Yeah.

J: It’s like go through a publisher.

T: Absolutely.

J: Definitely.

T: And we could do, and we should do a whole other interview about publishing a book but we don’t have time for that one today. Maybe if you’ll be kind enough to come back on we’d do that.

J: Yeah.

T: We can maybe share our learning experiences. And a friend of mine who is been a marketer for quite a while, she’s written a number of books and just swears by the kindle platform. She said you know you don’t need traditional publishing around.

J: I know.

T: So there’s just a huge debate of which way to go and honestly I don’t know which way to go yet. I need to talk to more people who are smarter than me.

J: I was gonna say have you ever interviewed Johnny Andrews?

T: No.

J: Okay, Pat interviewed him, he’s a friend of mine and he’s been yelling at me too like don’t do it, don’t go to traditional publishing. You should totally have him on because he’ll give you his opinion. Now it’s just an opinion but he’s hard core.

T: I’d love to.

J: He’s got a lot of really good stories.

T: Can you make an email introduction?

J: I can.

T: Thank you.

J: Send me a note later.

T: I will. So it’s Johnny?

J: Andrews.

T: So if that’s not evidence of the awesome networking of interviewing people I don’t know what is. Alright.

J: And he did interview me way back so I didn’t even interview him.

T: Let’s talk about the interviewing business model for a minute coz I know that when I meet people and they ask me what I do for a living I tell them I have an online talk show coz it’s easy to understand.

J: It’s better. I should do that. I say I interview millionaires.

T: Well that’s cool too. But then they go the very first question is they go you can make money at that? And so there is a business model and not everyone’s is the same. Would you like to talk about yours?

J: Yeah mine’s? It’s fine coz we’re talking about this before. Mine’s a little different than yours. Well I mean not different. What I primarily was before and became online as a business sketch. So I have businesses locally, I have businesses all over the world now that I help. Usually they’re doing less than a million it depends on where they are now. So that’s what I love to do. That’s my passion. But I only work 20 hours a week so there’s always too much coaching that I can’t do. So I’m starting moving on to more sort of internet marketing types of things. So I have a membership site and I’m doing the book. And so doing a little bit more stuff that’s gonna be a lot more passive. And 20 hours a week it’s kind of difficult to do that much.

T: Yeah tough.

J: So it’s a slow process and I’m trying to make it be okay. But in general I’ve got my business coaching practice and then I also have the membership site and the marketing.

T: Okay so let’s just walk through this really simple. The interviews provide the content. You make the interviews available for free, correct?

J: Correct.

T: Are they always available for free or do you do like Andrew at Mixergy and put them behind the wall after 30 days?

J: I don’t but iTunes only shows the last I think 15 or so. You can get the rest if you come to my site.

T: Yeah. Andrew only shows the last 5 as and I decided to take a page out of his book on that one.

J: I just interviewed him and we talked all about interviewing so he care about interviewing. I just interviewed Andrew Warner from Mixergy and he gave really good tips that I have to implement also.

T: Yeah.

J: And so is this stuff.

J: The same thing that people talk about when you start a business like having your ideal customer. Well when you’re first starting you’re like I can’t, I’m gonna take anybody. Anyone that’s willing to pay me I’ll take them. And as a business coach, exactly. You wanna be working with the ideal customers. You wanna be working with the people that aren’t complainers. You know and that sort of thing. You’re gonna be so much happier. It just creates so much less stress with them also. So for your regular business make sure you’re listening to them.

T: And I wanted to take an opportunity to plug Mike’s book, The Pumpkin Plan. If you’re listening to this show and you’re running a business or your business is running you, and you just can’t figure out how to make the thing grow anymore but you’ve got a good product or a good service and you have some customers that really love you, you need to go buy Mike’s book, The Pumpkin Plan. You absolutely must buy this book and then you need to follow what the advice that he gives you because it’s really really awesome advice. And he gives evidence of how it impacted his own business and people he’s coached. And I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the book and that’s why I wanted to get him on the show.

J: I need to write it down too. Make sure you remind me. I don’t have a pen near me. Make sure to remind me to write that down later.

T: Alright I will. So I think we’re like way off topic now.

J: Yeah.

T: If somebody is still listening to this at the end and hopefully they’re fist pumping in their car and going yeah yeah yeah, you guys thanks for rumbling on for a while because I think it’s important stuff. So is there any other questions that I wanted to ask you? There was one tip you gave and we’ll close on this one on using haro to get press. And it was about response time.

J: Oh yeah. I actually ended up talking to somebody at haro because I wanted to find out what the real people did. I actually interviewed a bunch of PR people to try and find out what they do to get it. And it’s the same with enough 15 minute window. So when you sign for haro you’ll get an email 3 times a day which is a lot. And some people just delete them coz it’s really annoying. But if you can actually take a couple seconds to scan through and try to find exactly one that works for you and then within 15 minutes do your reply and send it back. There’s 2 reasons for this. The first is because you get a buzzillion replies and at first you’re like oh look can you read them? Especially somebody who’s a reporter, a bigger reporter. They’ll get a couple and then there’s just so many you have to start moving them into a folder and you don’t have the time. And the other reason is that a lot of times there’s bigger people like the bigger national media are on deadlines and they need to know something fast. So not only respond as quick as you can. You also include a phone number so that way they can call you and follow up too. So those are definitely good tips. I’ve gotten a lot more because of that.

T: And I took your advice on that and the first email for me comes in coz I’m on the pacific coast or pacific coast time it comes like at 3 in the morning so I just ignore that one.

J: What? Come on. Aren’t you dedicated?

T: That’s a lot for right now. The other 2 they come in at the same time everyday within a couple of minutes so I just set an alarm in my google calendar peep peep peep and I flip over to the gmail account that I use for that. Soon as they come in I scan it. It takes me 30 seconds and I’m only on 2 so I get 2 emails twice a day. Well 3 times a day but I don’t even look at the first one. And it doesn’t take very long. Like today for example somebody, they wanted someone with significant start up experience. Well you know hello, I’ve started a couple of companies, sold one. So I thought yeah okay so again I took your advice, I wrote them back , hi my name is, here’s the press I’ve been featured in, here’s my about page, here’s my relevant thing, here’s my phone number, here’s my email, I’m ready to go, if there’s anyway I can help you please let me know.

J: Perfect. Now in my speech if I do that again I’m gonna tell people to set an alarm. Do what Trent did.

T: Yeah.

J: That’s a really good idea. Awesome.

T: And I’m looking actually at my email inbox right now to see if I got a reply and I don’t think I did on this one but it’s a numbers game.

J: Well that’s the thing. It depends, right? So it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re gonna use it right away either. And that’s the thing that’s hard. The success magazine one I didn’t hear back for weeks. I thought I would just assume they didn’t get it. And then she’s like oh you’re in. And I’m like okay good, thanks.

T: Yeah actually now that’s a really good point and I’m gonna hijack you one more time because it’s relevant. So I got myself on Fox 5 news here a couple of times. And the first time that I did it so I met someone who knew the producer. In the subject line I said so and so referred me. She told me exactly how to write the pitch. It was 3 bullet points, you know, my name is blah, I think your audience will be interested in this because point no. 1, point no. 2, point no. 3. It’s the hook. I didn’t hear back from them for like 6 weeks. And then they had a slow news day presumably, a slow news day. And I get an email like 3:00 in the afternoon can you be at the studio tomorrow morning at 5:45 am? Absolutely I can. And once they have you on once then what do they think they did? They invited to come on again.

J: That’s a possibility.

T: And you know what? The funny thing was, this is before my online business and I get to talk about some failure here, this is awesome. In the time between selling my technology services company and going online I spent about a year learning everything I could about real estate coz I wanted to become a real estate investor and I was gonna buy all these foreclosures and flip them. And so here’s a guy who’s I’d never done a real estate deal. I think coz I just was a horrible failure. I just didn’t understand the price these people wanted to pay for these deals. I couldn’t see any profit so my offers never got accepted. But I got myself on TV as a real estate expert because I asked and I knew what I was talking about. I’ve been reading, I’ve been studying these stuff big time. So I bring that up only to say that don’t let your limiting beliefs like my buddy who’s been a realtor for 10 years, he’s a top producer, he looked at me and he goes are you out of your mind? He says you’re going on TV as some supposed real estate expert? And I said I know how to answer the questions. I know the answers.

J: Exactly.

T: And so my point is don’t let any kind of limiting belief get in your way. If you know your material, you know your stuff don’t be afraid to tell people that you are an expert coz the interview was easy and good and it’s not like they’re doing investigative reporting and trying to trip you off.

J: Yeah definitely.

T: It’s not what it’s like. Alright we need to wind this up coz I think I’ve got other interviews to do today but yeah it’s been a really good time. Jamie thank you so much for making the time. Obviously I’d love to have you come back on. You know I’m gonna ask you to come back on. I’m also asking you to do a master class for me on maybe starting a mastermind actually. Wouldn’t mind doing coz you seem to be like that’s something some people might like to do. I’m not gonna put you on the spot on air and ask you to come.

J: You have to ask me when you’re in Vegas when you go to the new media expo.

T: Absolutely I think that’s what I’ll do. Alright so that wraps up this episode. Thanks very much Jamie for being on. Last thing, if people want to get a hold of you, the best way to do it is…

J: Just go to You can shoot me an email there if you ever need anything or you can find the podcasts on itunes which is eventual millionaire podcast. That’s it.

T: And if you’re in a hurry to become a millionaire I think I’m gonna start a new plight inside that says become a millionaire faster than jamie can teaching you .com.

J: Oh I am a brown belt on karate. We will get started on that one.

T: No we’re just gonna stick with Bright Ideas I think.

J: Awesome Trent.

T: Alright folks that’s it. Thanks very much. That is a wrap for this episode. Thank you for listening. We’ll talk to you in another one.

J: Thanks so much.

Here are some of the things you’ll discover in this episode:

Media Attention Made Easy

Jaime’s Crash Course on How to Get Free Press

Jaime is a rock star at getting press coverage.  She’s been on tons of media outlets, including heavy hitters like CNN.  She was also on the front page of

Press coverage has been key to Jaime's success.Image Source:

Press coverage has been key to Jaime’s success.
Image Source:

Yahoo, free coverage which at first she was unable to take full advantage of.

In fact, when Jaime got on Yahoo, she realized she wasn’t prepared to be on Yahoo.  Hear her openly share the mistakes she made.  She also shares

one thing to ask for every time you get press coverage, whether it’s Yahoo or something smaller.

Listen to the interview to hear Jaime share her mistakes so you don’t have to make them.

Jaime’s Crash Course on How to Get Attention from Other Bloggers

Jaime is a master at building relationships with others.  She has leveraged these relationships to get tons of additional free press coverage.  She is a big proponent of guest posts, and sees this as a major component of what helped her grow her site quickly.

Hear Jaime share her tips on getting guest posts.

Jaime’s Crash Course on Interview Sites

I’m obviously a big fan of interviewing and interview sites.

Interviewing is an excellent tool to leverage for business growth.Image Source:

Interviewing is an excellent tool to leverage for business growth.
Image Source:

If you like Bright Ideas, you’ll definitely want to head over to Eventual Millionaire and check out Jaime’s site too.  She’s an engaging interviewer and her site is an inspiring example of how to leverage interview sites for your business.

Hear Jaime talk about why interview sites work so well.

All the Extras

Now, I have to admit that Jaime and I had mad tangents all over the place during our conversation.  I guess that’s what you get when you interview an interviewer!

But that also leads to some great content for you.  Jaime shares all sorts of hidden gems.  She even provides a crash course on mastermind groups.  And this interviewer of millionaires has formed some stellar groups full of millionaire, so you know this is good stuff!

Listen to the interview to hear Jaime share all her best secrets.

About Jaime Tardy

Ever since Jamie was little she’s had this weird feeling that she would someday have a million dollars. While she’s not quite to a million yet, she’s always been intrigued by how to do it.

She started out thinking the only way she could do it was to get a good job with a great salary.  So she went to a great (expensive!) school, and began working full time while still in school. By the age of 22 she was making six figures, and had an expense account. By the age of 24 she was in over $70,000 in debt.

Unfortunately, she hated her work. She had worked so hard, and had some cool stuff. But she was stuck in airports all the time. She dreaded Sunday nights because they marked the beginning of yet another long work week.

Jamie determined that living an enjoyable life was worth far more than a million dollars. So she updated my goal. Instead of just a million dollars, she wanted to find work she loved and the life she loved, and THEN make her million. She took time off to find out what work excited her.

And, she found it. Now she helps entrepreneurs focus their money and their strengths to create an amazing life while they build their net worth.

Jamie’s still learning too, so she interviews millionaires to get their best tips, tactics and advice from their successes and failures.

Digital Marketing Strategy: How to Build a Profitable Software Business Without Writing Any Code: A Case Study with Spencer Haws

Do you have a great idea for a software but you don’t have any coding knowledge and experience to transform it into an actual product?

Are you looking for an effective means of marketing your software to your target market?

To discover how to create and market a software product without writing a single line of code, I interview Spencer Haws of in this episode of the Bright Ideas Podcast.

More About This Episode

The Bright Ideas podcast is the podcast for business owners and marketers who want to discover how to use online marketing and sales automation tactics to massively grow their business.

It’s designed to help marketing agencies and small business owners discover which online marketing strategies are working most effectively today – all from the mouths of expert entrepreneurs who are already making it big.

In this episode, I interview Spencer Haws of

Watch Now

Leave some feedback:

Connect with Trent Dyrsmid:


An Interview with Spencer HawsTrent Dyrsmid: Hey there Bright Idea Hunters, thank you so much for joining me for the Bright Ideas Podcast. I’m your host, Trent Dyrsmid. And this is the podcast for business owners and marketers who want to discover how to use online marketing and sales automation tactics to massively boost their business.And in this episode I am joined by Spencer Haws. Spencer is an online business owner, a blogger and a software developer from Richland, Washington. And back in 2009 he started off by building a portfolio of niche websites that made quite a bit of money with Google adsense. And that led to a successful blog called which then led to an even more successful software development business and that’s what we’re gonna be talking about in this particular episode of Bright Ideas.So Spencer thanks so much for making the time to talk about your product Long Tail Pro and how you’ve made it successful. Welcome to the show.

Spencer Haws: Hey thanks Trent. It’s great to be here. I know we’ve chatted quite a bit over the last year too so I’m more than happy to do an interview here to talk about Long Tail Pro.

T: We have indeed Spencer. I started off much like Spencer did. He was very generous with information for me back then. I’m no longer in that business but I definitely appreciate all that past advices. It was very helpful. So for the people who are in this audience which is predominantly small business owners and marketing agency owners they’re probably thinking who’s this guy, why do I wanna listen to this interview. So please just start off with who are you and what do you do?

S: Okay absolutely. Yeah you gave some brief information about what I’m doing now. Before I was a full time entrepreneur which I am now, I quit my corporate job about 2 years ago, it’ll be 2 years in just a few months. But I was involved in the financial services industry. I got my degree in Finance and worked for a large bank after that in business banking.

And so being involved in the internet and building websites was really nothing that I had a background in. It started as a hobby for me. Probably back in 2005-2006 I built my first site just to see if I could do it if I could get something online. And that led me over the next few years sort of moonlighting after my corporate job to building sites and learning and beginning to understand how Google works, how to get things ranking in Google and that led me then to finding niche sites. And that is a big part of my story.

I started building lots of small niche sites that could rank very quickly for small keywords because the big problem that a lot of people have is they see a really big keyword that gets tons of traffic and they try to build the site targeting that one keyword and the problem is they never rank for that keyword because it’s so extremely difficult. Everybody else is trying to rank for that keyword in Google and they’re nowhere to be found.

T: So this is probably that a lot of small business owners do. Let’s say there’s a guy with a plumber or a flower shop or whatever and they make this mistake of trying to rank for that keyword instead of maybe what we call the long tail phrase where if they were to attach a city name or a town name or something so that they’re drastically reducing the number of competitors that they’re against or are competing against rather and have a much easier time getting traffic to their site.

S: Right absolutely. I mean if you take a flower shop in Richland, Washington if they try to rank for the keyword flowers it’s just never gonna happen. There’s too many big corporations trying to rank for that. But if they try to rank for something like flowers in Richland, Washington they have a much better chance of doing that. So it was understanding the long tail keywords for me and I’m kinda going to why this will matter to everybody else as well but that’s what led me to quitting my corporate job. I did very very well with these niche sites. I built a couple of hundred of these, monetized them with Google adsense and that was in March of 2011 that I quit my job. And then I started a blog at almost exactly the same time where I blogged about how I was building these small niche sites and what was working for me, how others can rank those sites and all sorts of tactics that you could do to essentially do what I was doing.

And also around the same time I started building Long Tail Pro and so I continued to sell Long Tail Pro. It’s a keyword research tool that I built really for myself because I was frustrated with how long and how slow the keyword research process was using other tools. There’s lots of other great tools out there but for my needs where I wanted to find lots of keywords very quickly and be able to analyze if I could rank within Google quickly I decided to build my own tool and now I sell out Long Tail Pro. So we’ll dive into that a little bit more but that’s what I’m doing now.

T: Okay so for the folks who are listening there’s really kind of 2 main ideas that I’m hoping to get across this interview. One of them is for all those small flower shop owners and whatever type of business that you’re in local markets there’s a great benefit to be had by figuring out a plethora of long tail keywords that you can create content for and individually these keywords they don’t add a whole lot of traffic but they’re very easy to rank for and when you do them in aggregate you can actually translate into quite a substantial amount of traffic and it’s really not very difficult to do. However, you have to know which keywords that you’re going to go after because that’s where the science is. And that’s why you created Long Tail Pro.

The other audience is the folks who are thinking hey I might like to get into the software business. I’ve been thinking about creating an application for a long time so we’re gonna really focus in on that. So let’s give some results so that people who again don’t know you think oh yeah hey man, Spencer’s done really well. So how much revenue have you done with Long Tail Pro?

S: Yeah Long Tail Pro and it’s a long story as well because and maybe we can dig in to this with some of the mistakes I made early on and how I fixed those mistakes.

T: Yeah that would be good.

S: Yeah I created a first version of Long Tail Pro which is not the current version that you see today. That I guess quickly to answer your numbers to get the numbers out then we can maybe drill in to what happened. But I had a first version that I launched in right around January of 2011 and I only sold it for about 3 months from January to March. But it’s sold maybe $2,000 or $3,000 a month. I didn’t do much marketing at all. I didn’t have much of a blog or a list at that point but it was enough for me to know that there was interest.

T: Absolutely.

S: So that first version maybe did $10,000 or so. Then I went back and again I’ll explain why I did this but I hired a new programmer to develop an entirely new from the ground up, a new code, everything, new version of the software which I launched in beta form around July of 2011 and really didn’t launch until October publicly October 2011. So from about, with the new version I’ve done about a $150,000 in revenue. About a $100,000 of that this year 2012. So I get you a rough idea of what I’ve done and I’ve got big plans of course for the future as well.

T: I’m sure.

S: In the future there’s more marketing as well.

T: So we should take into account the cost of the first and the second version because it is part of the reality. What do you think that you spent, coz you’re not a software developer, you don’t write any code, correct? Coz I don’t want people to think I don’t know how to write codes so I can’t build an application coz that’s not true.

S: Yeah absolutely. I’m not a programmer by any way, shape or form like I said my background is business and finance. So I hired somebody else to do the code completely. I just had the idea, I paid somebody to do it for me.

T: And what did you spend to develop this application?

S: Yeah the first version was very cheap and this was my mistake. I hired the cheapest programmer that was overseas and he was able to produce something and I really think that he essentially used some code that he already had which was why he was able to do it so cheaply. But it was about $3,000 to $4,000 to just get that first version up and running. It was pretty bare bones at the beginning. But it quickly had lots of bugs and issues that made it stop working. And I guess maybe now is a good time to explain what happened but it needed lots of attention.

And so I would go back to my programmer and say hey this little parts stopped working, it’s got a bug, can you fix it and he would do the best he can but because he was overseas he didn’t speak english well it was difficult to work with him, to communicate and get things done in a timely fashion. And so I decided I think I just want to hire a different programmer to take the existing code that I can work with that speaks english that I know I can count on for the future. And so when I asked the original programmer for the code he said no, not gonna happen. He said pay me $15,000 and the code is yours. And I mean you have to understand I paid like $3,000 to $4,000 and I thought that was it originally. And also when I posted the job I did this on a freelance website I figured hey I was protected and that’s what I paid for was the source code originally or so I thought. And I probably could have gone through the dispute process on, it was and perhaps gotten the original code but it would have been a huge headache probably taken months to go through.

And so I was essentially faced with the dilemma of hey I can pay this guy $15,000 and get the original code which I know is kind of buggy already. And then just hire somebody else to fix it. Or I can scrap the project completely, I can just hey I made a few thousand dollars, just tell people sorry you’ll refund them or whatever. But what I decided to do is fire the old programmer and completely start from scratch. Just hire a new programmer, have him create his code from the very beginning and that cost me about $15,000 to $20,000 to do anyways. So I figured I was about even whether I got the old code or the new source code and because I did it from scratch with the new guy the source code I knew was mine. I hired a very programmer who spoke english. Things have been much better since but that was some pretty trying times. I learned quite a bit in those early days. I made quite a few mistakes that made me dig in too deeper but yeah that’s sort of what happened there early on.

T: I think that that is not uncommon at all.

S: Unfortunately.

T: I know personally I never get anything right the first time. I should call myself Captain Do Over coz I always need another time to assess all the errors that I made and try and fix them on the next go around.

S: Yes. So the one point I will make just very quickly that one of the big things that I learned in software development is that hiring cheap usually is not the cheapest in the long run. I would advice what I do now whenever I hire a programmer is hire the absolute best. Even if they’re more expensive they’ll typically get the job done quicker so they’re spending less hours even though they have a higher hourly rate. They do it quicker. It’s done better and there’s less maintenance down the road. So absolutely I would hire the best from the get go.

T: And how did you find the second programmer? Did you go back to the same site and just pick a higher quality person or did you go to like a local meet up and meet someone face to face? What did that look like?

S: I probably could have gone back to freelancer. I actually went back to elance or over to elance. So it’s another freelance website. But I just did a lot more due diligence and paid a lot more attention to the higher quality high end developers whereas before I was just looking to get the job done. I posted a job and I figured hey if they get the job done I don’t have to release my money until I get my product so right, I’m covered but no. So the second time around I just looked at the higher end developers and hired them.

T: Quick side bar for the listeners I have interviewed another fellow by the name of Travis Ketchum who you can find it on the blog. He developed some software as well and his experience is very similar to Spencer’s and the version 1 was unsuccessful coz he hired the cheapest person. So if you’re thinking about doing software in addition to listening to this interview make sure that you go and do a search for Travis Ketchum on and you’ll find his interview.

Now back to you Spencer, you just mentioned due diligence so let’s not skimp pass that because that’s an important part of how you selected your contractors so can you share with us what did you do to do due diligence?

S: Absolutely. And I recommend this whenever you hire any freelancer not just a software developer. Essentially I tried to communicate as much as possible before I hire anybody. The instant messaging, email and I would essentially ask them questions like do you understand the job, can you restate in your words what exactly I’m looking for. And so I would try to exchange at least a few emails so that a) I knew that I could communicate with them, that their english was good and they understood what I was saying.

I ended up hiring somebody here in the US so that’s not a problem but exchanging those emails helped me to know the depth of their knowledge of what I was looking for and you can really see the good freelancers or programmers when they bring up potential problems. They say hey I see your job but have you thought about this, this and this. And those are the people you want to key it out on. Key in on and say no, I didn’t think of that one, let’s discuss. And so that’s great when they can come up with potential problems before you ever hire them.

I actually spoke to a couple of different people on the phone and that’s a big plus to know if you could develop a good rapport and then basic things. I looked at their past jobs, what they were rated on those jobs, pluses and minuses from previous people that have hired them. I looked at resumes and things like that. But I would say the big thing is definitely pre-hiring interview questions and just getting to know them a little bit better and making sure they fully understand the entire project.

T: Did you check with any other references?

S: You know, I didn’t and that is certainly another step that I could have gone to ensure and that’s not a bad idea at all. But just after talking with the programmer that I hired I felt pretty comfortable.

T: And when you say talking did you have a voice conversation with him as well over Skype?

S: I did yes.

T: Especially if you’re hiring someone from another country it’s not to say that there aren’t any good programmers outside the United States but in my experience you really need to have a verbal conversation with them because when you’re trying to explain post production or after the fact issues chatting and skyping and emailing in a non-verbal form can only go so far.

S: Yeah and absolutely. And what I didn’t fully understand the first go around with Long Tail Pro is that I figured software development was a one time deal. I get my product, it’s a package that’s done I sell it forever, right? But I mean that’s not the way software usually works and particularly something as intricate as Long Tail Pro where we’re using lots of different resources any time there’s a small change we have to tweak our software. And so I understood fully the second go around that this was a long term relationship with this software developer. I needed to know that they would be there a year down the road to continually develop and fix bugs or changes that may come up. So that was very important.

T: So coming up over we’re gonna talk about how Spencer marketed and sold his software but I have one last question for him on how he got it developed and that is when you created the scope of the project, coz I’ve been involved now at 2 software development projects myself. One of them we’re just getting ready to release and it’s done and the other one we’re very early in the development phase. And in both of those projects we put a lot of time into screen shotting so that you could have a conversation with your developer that says when you click this button this is what’s supposed to happen. Did you go through a process like that or did you have a different way that you did it?

S: I would say it’s a similar process. I did a lot of referring to similar tools that are out there. So I say hey here’s some similar tools to what I’m looking to have created. Here’s what I like about them, here’s what I don’t like about them. And yes I did take some screen shots. But I wrote out a very detailed explanation of everything that the software needed to do, what was required of the programmer. And just really divided it up into each function of the software. Here is the keyword research function. Here’s what it needs to do and maybe here’s some examples of other tools that do this and here’s what they look like. So yes I did very detailed write up and even more so the second time around.

T: So the interface design that you ended up with, was that really the developer’s interpretation of your detailed instructions?

S: Yes. And it was something that he came up with that we really worked on together. And that was also part of, that’s one of those points where I posted my job and before I hired my programmer that was one of his points. About hey I see a problem here or this is something else we need to talk about is the overall interface. He asked do you want me to do that or do you want to hire somebody else to do that. I ended up hiring him because he also have a lot of experience doing user interfaces. But yeah that’s something that I worked with him to come up with the design and the look.

T: Okay. There’s a lot more we could talk about obviously with respect to how to build software more than we could cover in a short interview. So I’m gonna leave the development side alone now and let’s go on and talk about marketing. So you obviously, just walk us through your marketing plan and what executed and maybe highlight a couple of things that worked really well and maybe if there is things that didn’t work well maybe you could talk about those as well.

S: Okay. Yeah my primary marketing plan early on and a big part of the reason that it worked for me is because I am the target market. I was the target audience essentially. I created this software for me so I fully understood the needs, the problems, what was going through the head of the potential market. And also because of that I already started a blog at essentially my target audience is for people that are trying to build websites whether they were niche websites or large blogs or local businesses building websites that wanted to do keyword research more quickly and effectively.

And so I essentially started marketing the software to my blog audience. That’s from the get go I essentially emailed out that hey I’ve got this software that’s available and even before it was done I was very open about my developing a software. I made posts on my blog about this. And so that’s essentially how I marketed it from the get go is just to my blog audience. And that’s a big thing for anybody out there is that if they can have a blog that they’re building out and building an audience it makes launching any product so much easier to have the audience built in. And so that was my primary way of marketing was just to my blog that already existed.

I marketed a little bit on some forums like the warrior forum essentially putting up offers on these forums for people to purchase. And then I reached out to a few other bloggers that were in the same niche to do either webinars or get them on as affiliates to help me promote that.

T: So the percentage of your revenue that came from your own list versus affiliates, what would you guess that was?

S: Well early on I mean it was a 100% me starting probably the first several months was essentially just me. I didn’t go out and I probably could have done this better. I didn’t go out and try to do a big launch with other affiliates and all. It was essentially just me. I threw it up on my blog and emailed my lists and said hey it’s ready, go buy it. And that worked enough to know that people were interested. Now the breakdown this year I don’t know the exact number. It’s still the majority is coming from me and my blog but it’s maybe 60% is me, 65% is me and 30-35-40% is affiliates.

T: Okay so people listening to this are gonna know how popular your blog is or isn’t so is there any in terms of size of your list or daily traffic stats or anything that you feel like sharing?

S: Sure I’ve got about 10,000 subscribers to my email list and to my blog so that gives you kind of an idea of that. So it’s a decent amount.

T: Okay so a reasonable amount. And I think that the key take away that I’m hoping that the small business owner, coz I remember when I ran my technology services company prior to this business and this was from 2001 to 2008 when I sold the company, I didn’t blog. I didn’t know what blog was. In hindsight I just wish that I would have understood the power of blogging. You can create so much engagements, so much relationship, you can build that subscriber list and if you’re a small business owner and you’re listening to this and you haven’t started blogging yet you really need to.

And if you’re thinking gosh I don’t have time hopefully this story with Spencer here and the story of other guests and even my own story because the reason that I do Bright Ideas and the reason that I give all of this content away is to build a list for my software application that is in development currently. That’s my monetization strategy. So when you say I don’t have enough time to blog coz I’m doing all these other stuff it can be a really really valuable activity if you learn how to do it right. And there are lots of other guests and interviews here on Bright Ideas that have lots of success blogging. And in those interviews we go into some particular and I’ve got some how you can do that.

So sorry for hijacking a little bit there Spencer but I really wanted and so passionate about it.

S: Absolutely.

T: You wanna talk to so I’ll stop right now.

S: Yeah well I was just gonna say I can tell you 2 other stories very very briefly of people blogging that has really driven sales to their business. And these are both local business owners who own a small company so maybe it will resonate well with your audience. One is Marcus Sheridan who owned a small pool company in Virginia. And I’ve done an interview with him on my blog but he install pools, fiberglass pools and all they had was just a website. I’ll try to make this story short. But essentially they were about to go financially bankrupt. He finally discovered content marketing. He decided to blog about everything and about fiberglass pools. His website started ranking for every single question that the customers could ask about how much does a fiberglass pool cost or everything that his customers were asking. And within a year they completely turned their business around. They’re now doing millions of dollars in sales and it’s literally, and he contracted because he does this very well, that those sales have all come from his blog. And it’s because he’s targeted these long tail keywords, ranked in Google and so literally changed his business.

The other story I’ll tell briefly is actually my cousin. John Haws, who I also interviewed on my podcast, he decided he wanted to build niche sites. He has a background in landscaping so he built some websites about landscaping in his hometown. He was in Chicago, Illinois at that time going to nursing school. He built some niche sites targeting landscaping in Allen, Texas. Within a couple of months people started calling him saying I want you to come on my lawn. He wasn’t even there, didn’t have a landscaping company. He put them off until the summer until he was off school. He built up a customer base before he even had a business. He went home during the summer and he’s never gone back to school. His business now, he’s done like $70,000 in 6 months, his very first 6 months. The majority of it is online that people are typing and finding him because he blogs about landscaping. And he plans to never go back in his nursing degree just to build this landscaping company.

So that’s 2 small examples and I can tell you if I owned a small local company I would be blogging the heck out of it.

T: Yap coz if you’re not blogging you gotta be doing something. And the cold calling while it can be very effective, it’s not a lot of fun. It used to be a bit mind numbing and the direct mails takes and costs a lot of money. There’s a lot of other things that you can do but blogging you can do it from anywhere. You just flip your laptop open. And I’ll refer to another interview, his name is Peep Laja, it’s here on Bright Ideas there’s an interview. He got 50,000 visitors in his first month. He had no list, no affiliates and it’s a very interesting interview because he talks about how he adopted the reporter’s style of blogging. Then again I’m not gonna go down that rabbit hole, just go check out that interview if you wanna learn more about it.

Alright, so in our off camera talks, Spencer, you shared with me that you were getting quite a bit attraction with small business owners. Can you talk a little bit about that and how you think that happened?

S: Yeah absolutely. So you’re right. I’m starting to get a lot of my readers on are actually small companies. I don’t know the total variety of types of companies but at least that have emailed me recently have a pest control company and these are people that have purchased Long Tail Pro and are actually using it. Pest control company, lawyers, real estate agents, small printing company and I’m sure there’s dozens of others that I just am not aware that they’re using my software. But lots of them are starting to really understand the power of the internet, content marketing and ranking in Google just like we described those stories of people that are turning their business around. And the reason for that is because customers nowadays go online and they search everything on Google.

So I mean people used to go to the Yellow Pages now they go to Google. And so these small business owners are becoming savvy and so they found out about me probably from reading my blog, trying to figure out how to rank their business websites in Google because I talk about how I rank my niche sites. And those tactics apply directly. I mean it’s the same process, the same thing just different keywords. And so these small business owners are now definitely very interested in keyword research. And they should be because these are the companies that should be ranking for landscaping in Richland Washington and things like that because they provide the service. And so they’re very interested in doing the proper keyword research, analyzing whether or not they can rank in Google and then making it happen.

So definitely lots of small business owners are using Long Tail Pro and I see that definitely as the future for my own company that they are most certainly part of my target market where I may have not thought that originally when I created the software.

T: That’s one of the things that I really love about being in business and I’ve referred to this previously as I called my green dot theory. You have this idea we’ll call it we’re selling green dots. So you decide to start and a lot of people don’t do that. They let fear get in the way and hopefully this interview will help them to get over that cliff. But once you start to be in business you uncover all these other opportunities which you probably would never have discovered have you not first started to sell your green dots.

And those extra little nuggets that you find can often turn into phenomenal business opportunities and yours is a good story of that. You started off building a software product for internet marketers that wanted to build little itty bitty websites to make money with Google adsense or Amazon affiliates or whatever and now you’re tapping into this market of main stream business customers who have these needs and you’re starting to create brand awareness with them and recognition to the relationship there’s so much that you can do with that for the years ahead. That had you not started you probably wouldn’t be thinking about these things and you wouldn’t be exposed to those opportunities.

S: Absolutely.

T: Alright so we’re getting to the end of our time window for this interview so there’s a couple key things that I wanna cover off. No. 1 is I know that you have recently released, this interview will be published after the release but I think that your special would have ended, but you’ve recently released a very updated version of Long Tail Pro and you have for Bright Ideas listeners you can get the product for $77 instead of $97 if you go to

And I guess the last thing, Spencer, if people wanna get a hold of you they know that they can do that on Is that the best way to get a hold of you?

S: That’s probably the best way. I’ve got a contact page there. They can certainly use that, that will send me an email and we’ll communicate that way. Or leave a comment, I’m very responsive on comments. They can certainly follow me on twitter. It’s @NichePursuits. So yeah those are couple of ways they can definitely get a hold of me.

T: Okay. And I also noticed that you have a free webinar that you’re doing. I guess maybe you do it every week or something like that on how to get traffic. You can find more information about that on Niche Pursuits. So last question I have for you, what books are you reading these days? Maybe give us one or two if you’re reading any.

S: I am just about to finish The Lean Startup which is a good one. I’m sure you’ve maybe talked about.

T: I haven’t read that one yet actually.

S: Okay. Yeah it’s definitely a good one. Other than that I don’t have any books I’m reading. I enjoy reading my wired magazine. That keeps me up to date with some pretty interesting articles as well. But yeah that’s sort of what I’m reading now.

T: Okay. Spencer I wanna thank you very much for making some time to come here on the Bright Ideas podcast and share your experience with building software and turning it into a business. It’s been a pleasure to have you on the show.

S: Absolutely Trent. I appreciate it. It’s been good to be here. Thank you.

T: Alright, if you wanna check out the show notes for today’s episode go to And while you’re at Bright Ideas you may also wanna go and get the massive traffic tool kit. To do that just go to and enter your email address. When you do you’ll be given instant access to the tool kit. So what is the massive traffic tool kits? It’s a compilation of all the very best ideas that have been shared with me by my guests here on Bright Ideas and some of those guests or all of them in this case are absolute power houses at getting traffic to their sites. And the really cool thing about the tool kit is that you do not need to be an SEO guru to be able to execute the strategies that you’re gonna learn. Everyone can do all the things that are in the massive traffic tool kit.

So this brings us to the end of the podcast. I’m your host, Trent Dyrsmid. If you loved this episode or even if you just liked it please do me a huge favor and head over the itunes and give us a 5 star rating and leave a feedback of some kind. Whenever you do that it helps the show to go up of the rankings in the itunes and more people can learn about what we’re doing here at Bright Ideas. And the more people that learn, the more people that we can help to massively boost their business. So thank you very much. It’s been a privilege and I’ll see you in the next episode. Take care.

About Spencer Haws

spencer1-150x150Spencer Haws was a business banker with an MBA who quit his job as a Business Relationship Manager at Wells Fargo Bank to build websites full time. He has more than 200 small niche sites that he monetizes primarily with Google AdSense.

Spencer is the owner of the popular blog, where he details his methods as well as his results. He is also the creator of Long Tail Pro, a keyword research tool that niche website builders can utilize to create the right content that targets the right keywords.

The Story Behind the Creation of with Company Founder Ian Ippolito

Would you like to learn what goes into creating a website that does over $11 million a year?

Do you ever wonder how such a business attracts so many customers?

To hear the story behind, I interview company founder, Ian Ippolito in this episode of the Bright Ideas podcast.

More About This Episode

The Bright Ideas podcast is the podcast for business owners and marketers who want to discover how to use online marketing and sales automation tactics to massively grow their business.

It’s designed to help marketing agencies and small business owners discover which online marketing strategies are working most effectively today – all from the mouths of expert entrepreneurs who are already making it big.

In this episode, I interview Ian Ippolito of

Watch Now

Leave some feedback:

Connect with Trent Dyrsmid:


Trent: Hey there, Bright Idea hunters. Thank you so much for joining

me for the Bright Ideas podcast. I’m your host, Trent Dyrsmid, and this is

the podcast for business owners and marketers who want to discover how to

use online marketing and sales automation tactics to massively boost their

business.Now in this episode I am joined by Ian Ippolito, the founder of If you’ve ever used one of these sites to find outsourcers,

vWorker is one of the most popular of those sites. Now in this particular

interview, Ian is going to share with us his particular strategy for how to

design the perfect product for your customers. Many companies go down the

road and they build in features that customers don’t end up wanting and Ian

is going to share with us his process to avoid that.The next thing is early on in vWorker’s life there was a very deep-pocketed

competitor that came in and they could outspend vWorker 10 to 1, but yet

vWorker prevailed. Ian’s going to share with us the strategy he used to

make that happen.Finally, if you’ve been considering starting an affiliate program for your

site, you really want to listen to Ian’s ideas on how to create the

ultimate affiliate program. Affiliates are the largest source of revenue

for vWorker and in this episode, Ian is going to share with us exactly how

he created it. So please join me in welcoming Ian to the show.Hey, Ian. Thank you so much for making the time to do this interview with

  1. You’ve got a very successful company you’re at the helm of so I’m super

stoked to get into that and find out how you built it.Ian: Thanks, Trent. It’s a pleasure to be here.Trent: Just for the listeners who are, I shouldn’t say “listeners”.

For the people who are watching this, you’ll notice that Ian is a little

blurry. We did do our best to figure that out before we decided to record

but, sadly, neither one of us could make it happen so this is the best

video that we’ve got for you for today.All right. Ian, you’re the founder and, I’m assuming, still CEO of This has become a pretty big site so for the people who maybe

haven’t heard of you and don’t know what this, can you tell me how much are

you doing in revenue right now, how many years have you been in business

and what does the business actually do?Ian: Sure. We’ve been in business since 2001 and last year we did $11.1

million in revenues and what vWorker does is we connect together typically

business, so sometimes small businesses, sometimes larger. A lot of times,

just entrepreneurs with remote workers and these remote workers can do all

sorts of things for them a lot cheaper than bringing someone on-site to do

the same work.Trent: OK. That’s something that’s near and dear to my heart. I’ve had

remote workers on my team for probably 18 months now but, man, 2001, wasn’t

even on my radar screen. I was the CEO of my last company then and I, in

hindsight, probably could have saved a bunch of money if I had known that

stuff like yours existed. So I have to guess that back in 2001, was this a

really foreign concept for people back then?Ian: Yes, it was. It really wasn’t something that anyone would think

about. Outsourcing or just kind of getting a remote worker is something a

really big company could afford but nothing that the typical sized company

or the entrepreneur would ever even think of.Trent: OK. That leads me into the story that many of us think about

is, “How on earth did you come up with the idea?” Let’s go back to 2001,

you’re a coder by training if I’ve done my research correctly. You’re a guy

that liked to write software.Ian: Yes, that’s right.Trent: You started off with, I think, Planet Source Code. Was that

your first kind of entrepreneurial venture or had you kind of done a bunch

of stuff that did or didn’t work before that?Ian: That was the first entrepreneurial venture that did halfway decent.

Yes, I did a bunch of other things beforehand. I think I was like most

entrepreneurs. I tried a whole bunch of things and learned a lot of lessons

from things that didn’t succeed.Trent: Yes, absolutely. I learned most of my lessons from the mistakes

that I make. All right. In the early years, you started off with this thing

called “Planet Source Code” and then did that eventually, because vWorker

started as Rentacoder, that was the original brand, did Plant Source Code,

did it sort of feed you into Rentacoder? Can you talk a bit about how that

transition happened?Ian: Yes, you’re exactly right. It not only physically fit in, like not

only did we physically move the people in but even conceptually. Basically,

the idea for what was vWorker, which was Rentacoder back then, was that, I

owned the Planet Source Code site and I was a computer consultant.I was just, I guess you could say, minding my own business. I would

constantly get these e-mails and these e-mails would be, “Hey, Ian, you’re

the webmaster of this site. I like it. I just don’t have the time to use

  1. Could you do some programming for me?”That was my job and yet I was so busy, I turned it down. I got e-mail after

e-mail, the same thing over and over again, people asking the same thing.

They needed some help and I didn’t even know really where to turn them to.

After probably, maybe, about 20 or 30 of them, turning them down and

turning them down, I finally thought, “Ooh, you know what? I think I’ve got

this all backwards. There’s an unmet need here and people really, really

need this.If I could come up with some way where they can hire someone, obviously

they can’t hire me, but if they could hire someone else and if somehow I

could guarantee it or make it safe because they’d be hiring someone that

they don’t know and do it over the Internet, wouldn’t that be awesome.”That was basically the idea. That’s how it started. I just kind of one day

just did something on my laptop, kind of typed it all up and made a little

prototype and thought, “Hmm, I think that could work,” and I put it out

there to try it.Trent: OK. So for the folks, and I’m going to put myself in this camp,

who aren’t familiar with Planet Source Code, if I did my research

correctly, you had built that into a fairly popular, highly trafficked

site, is that correct?Ian: Yes, that’s right. That’s a whole story in itself, Planet Source

Code, because this was in the first dot-com crash. It was before the dot-

com crash so pre-2001 and back then, as long as you had a high traffic

site, you could make really, really good money just putting up ads.To give you an idea, for example, I remember Microsoft and Oracle were

advertising on this website, this website for computer programmers, and

they would pay 60 CPM, so $60.00 to show a little 468 x 60, which is a tiny

ad by today’s standards and that site was doing at least a million visitors

a month, it was doing very, very well pre-dot-com crash.It was a great business model. Basically, it was just myself. I had a

second employee who kind of handled the paperwork and the accounting and

that was it. It was a great business model but, also, unfortunately, it was

a little bit doomed to failure because the dot-com crash came and all of

the sudden now all of the people that were advertising on the site couldn’t

pay their bills.I had my own bills that I needed to pay because I had purchased these

things called “T1 lines”. T1’s are like high-speed lines because back then,

you didn’t have high-speed to your house or anything like that. Each one of

those was $1,000 a month yearly contract and I had six of those.My advertisers were drying up, my expenses were still about the same and I

was like, “I need to do something here. I need to find some other way to

monetize this audience. I don’t want to end up as a casualty of this whole

dot-com crash.”Trent: As many did. Your decision =then was to transition your

business model completely away from advertising to helping connect people

who needed talent and talent that needed work.Ian: Yes, exactly. Rather than advertising, an actual service, which was a

lot more difficult but it also provided a lot more value, it ended up being

a lot more lucrative.Trent: OK. Let’s talk a little bit about the business model that you

had back then because you had this traffic so that wasn’t really going to

be a problem, per se. Well, let me think this through. Because you have to

connect two different parties, you’ve got people who can write code and

people who are going to need code. The traffic at Planet Source Code was

probably people who were going to write code because they’re coming there

to get snippets of code that they can use in whatever projects that they

were working on. Is that correct?Ian: Yes, that is correct. It was only half of the audience I needed,

basically.Trent: In the other half, you’re pretty much a startup, and these are

the guys with the money.Ian: Yes. Yes, exactly, and without them, it’s a chicken and egg because

it’s like I don’t know which side you have to develop first. You kind of

have to develop both of them at the same time. Yes, the ones with the money

were not there. I had to find some way to generate those and bring those

people in.

Trent: All right. Let’s talk about the first year. You’ve got lots of

people willing to write code, nobody who wants to hire a coder has ever

heard of you. You had to get the word out and that’s a challenge that so

many of us, well, everybody who’s in business is faced with this. What are

some of the things that you did to make that happen?

Ian: This was awhile ago, this was 2001. It was actually before Google ads

were even out there. The equivalent back then was called “Overture”. I put

out a bunch of ads on Overture and it was really cheap by today’s

standards. You might pay $0.05 or $0.10 a click, which anyone that does

Internet marketing today, if you can do $0.05 or $0.10 a click on something

that’s converting, you’re just printing money.

This was the early days of it and it was very cheap. Even then, it was

difficult to drive enough traffic to it because Overture just wasn’t

Google. They didn’t have all the traffic that Google has today. I tried

that. I tried e-mailing to people but a lot of it was actually, and

especially at the beginning, probably more of our customers were like kind

of on a word of mouth thing.

I told you I had all those people in Plant Source Code requesting things so

I was like, “OK. Send out e-mails to them. Get them coming in,” and they

told other people and they told other people so that’s built. It wasn’t

fast but it was something that slowly built. Then we kind of got our first

break, our first lucky break, which was one of those people that they

referred happened to be a guy from The Wall Street Journal.

He used the site and he was like, “Wow,” and he was so amazed by the fact

that he could hire someone that he didn’t know, he asked them all sorts of

questions, got him to send pictures of himself and then wrote an article

about it. That was the first big break that just “boom!” popped up the

visibility of the site.

Trent: What did that do to your traffic, do you think? Yes, let me

just leave the question there.

Ian: Yes, it was instant spike. It was almost too much to handle because

the servers were only built to a certain capacity. It isn’t like today

where you could probably just ramp up a server virtually and things like

that. We had physical machines that all the software was on and it was

tough for them to handle.

I think when that article came out, the phones started ringing off the hook

and instantly the traffic just went “pfft”, through the roof, probably

about four or five times.

Trent: It’s not the worst problem in the world to have.

Ian: It isn’t the worst problem in the world but at the same time, as a

business owner, you are running frantically trying to make sure everything

can keep up because the customer service people couldn’t keep up and if the

website went down it’s almost like not having a building open to welcome

your customers. Yes, it was exciting but it was also worrisome too at the

same time.

Trent: Before that article, do you remember what revenue looked like

on a typical month? And then do you remember what revenue looked like after

that article?

Ian: It started very slowly. I mean, it was profitable from the first

month but it made something like $50 on month one and probably a little bit

before the article I would guess maybe it was making a few thousand dollars

a month, around that line, so it definitely popped it up. What was

interesting, I did that and at the same time I also kind of started a whole

marketing strategy, which was based on a book that my brother had given me

called ‘Crossing the Chasm’.

Which is a book about tech startups, why so many tech startups, kind of,

just start off, and they have this great idea and they get a few early

adopters to kind of be interested in their product. Then, they just can’t

get the momentum to keep going, they kind of fall in this thing that the

author called “the chasm”. Awesome book. It was perfect timing. So we had

that big, lucky break with The Wall Street Journal and then at the same

time, try to take advantage of it with some of these techniques.

Trent: This is obviously now ten years ago, can you think back, was

there any particular strategy that you learned from Geoffrey Moore’s book,

I think that’s his name . . .

Ian: Yes, that’s right.

Trent: That was really helpful to you back then?

Ian: Pretty much all of it was helpful. I was clueless. Like for example

the idea of the whole product, so so many companies will go out there and

they’ll say, “Look, I have a great idea,” and they develop a few of the key

things that are needed. They open up shop and try to get everyone to come.

What happens is people come, and they’ll go, “Wow, you’ve got three of the

things that I need but without these other two things, it doesn’t really do

what I need it to do,” and what they find is these people won’t come back

two months, three months, or a year later when they actually have that

stuff up. They’ve kind of blown their opportunity.

It’s a coupling of the lean startup methodology, which is do the minimum

that you have to get something out there, but at the same time, that

minimum, make sure it really does meet their needs and there isn’t

something in there that’s missing that’s going to make them say, “Oh, why

should I hang around?”

I spent a lot of time thinking about the whole product. It has a good

section in that book explaining how you analyze who your target market is

and you kind of identify what those markets are and then you figure out

what are their needs and what product features did they need in order to

develop the whole product. It worked really well.

Trent: It did. When you were going through this phase and I always

think of cash flow and what a challenge it is, especially in the early

years or what I call “the lean years”, did you have just you as a full-time

employee and then maybe a couple of contractors? What did overhead look

like back then?

Ian: I had the Planet Source Code already, so I already had my CFO.

Remember, I said there was one person doing the books. I brought her over.

There was her and then there was a part-timer who was a contractor. That’s

how it looked, just running out of a room in my house, yes.

Trent: Was it cash flow positive back at that point after The Wall

Street Journal article came out? Were you able to run the company off what

it was bringing in?

Ian: I guess I was very lucky. It was actually cash flow positive even

from the beginning just because, in a way, the Planet Source Code, I had

already invested all of the money in Planet Source Code for the

infrastructure so it was like I already owned the software, I already owned

the computers.

I had this CFO already so then when I brought them over to here, really the

only extra overhead was this extra contractor so it was positive from the

beginning but not much, very tiny, tiny amounts, not enough to make


Trent: Did you take a salary back then?

Ian: No, no. There was very little left over. All that money was being


Trent: OK. If you accounted for your time, it wasn’t cash flow


Ian: Oh, no, no, no. It was definitely cash flow negative. I was investing

huge amounts of time in there. I was probably investing 60 and 70 hours a


Trent: Yes, my first three years of my last startup, I didn’t see a

dime so I understand what that’s like. Alright so you had in your first

year you were very fortunate to get some exposure from The Wall Street

Journal but you also had a really big issue and it nearly put you out of


Ian: Yes.

Trent: You want to talk a little bit about what that issue was?

Ian: Well, it was credit card fraud. What had happened was we were

starting to gain a little bit of momentum and then starting to do a little

bit better and numbers were starting to look better, starting to get larger

and larger projects and just when momentum was going really, really well

there, I thought.

We had a little bit of momentum, we had a really big order and I was like,

“Wow, this is awesome!” Very big order. At the time it was a big order for

us, $1,000. So this $1,000 came in, I said, “Great. Awesome. This is

probably going to be a great month.”

End of the month came, and the way we work is we take money in, so we take

$1,000 from the employer and we give the worker their percentage of it and

we take a percentage of it. We take anywhere from 6.5% to 15%, so we did


The worker was supposed to get paid so they got probably $900.00-something

out of it and we got maybe, whatever we got, $100.00 or something.

Everything seemed fine and then the next day, the credit card company sent

us a fax and they said, “Oh, by the way, that $1,000, that was from a

stolen credit card. That money’s going back.”

Trent: You’ve already paid the worker at this point.

Ian: Yes, yes.

Trent: Wow.

Ian: Not only were we just out the $1,000 but we’d already paid the worker

the amount so not just out our profit but it was a big mess so I was like,

“Wow, this is a crazy concept. They can just take our money back at any

time. That certainly can’t be right.” I called up the credit card company

and ended up arguing with them for a long time but in the end they were

like, “Well, no, this is a stolen card.” I said, “You said it was fine a

month ago.”

They said, “Yes, well we found out since then that it was stolen.” Yes, so

they were like, “There’s nothing we can do. You’ve lost that money.” I

thought, “Whoa, OK. I’ve lost that money.” I was already feeling a little

bit depressed just from that and then next day I got another fax and it

said, “Oh, this $700.00 charge that you thought that you had, that was

fraud too.”

Trent: Oh, man.

Ian: The next day came another one. Within a period of four days, about

$5,000 worth of these fraud transactions came through, one after another

and there didn’t seem to be any end to it. In fact, it seemed to be getting

faster. I guess the big problem is, on the Internet, you don’t know who

anybody is. Everyone is completely anonymous.

What I did was I closed the account of the guy that did the $1,000 one but

then he comes back and creates a brand new account as someone else, creates

a fake e-mail address, pretends he’s from another country and starts over


I thought, “Oh my goodness. We are going to be out of business at the end

of the month if we don’t figure out something.”

Trent: This fraudster, he was his own worker as well. It’s not like it

was a legit worker where you could say, “Hey, man, you didn’t do any work.

Give me the money back.” He was basically using a stolen credit card to pay


Ian: Yes, that’s exactly right. He was using us as an ATM basically.

Trent: Yes. Wow. That’s tough. How did you solve this problem?

Ian: Basically, I did a lot of research. I just sat down with Zoey [SP],

my CFO, and we researched on the Internet and we were like trying to

understand how do people do these things, how do they steal credit cards,

and we found out that actually, it’s very easy to steal a credit card.

You can actually pay not very much, about $0.50 per stolen credit card. You

can go to these sites where people just have thousands of these things. You

buy a bunch of them and then these thieves will then go to sites and try to

use them as quickly as possible before the credit card company finds out

about them and try to extract as much money out of the vendors as they can.

Understanding that, we thought, “Well, you know what? OK. What separates

them from a real credit card user? They don’t physically have the card.” We

were like, “OK. Well, this is what we’ll do. For every person that runs

through a card, we’re going to ask them, turn over your card, take a look

at it and tell us the name of the bank that’s on the back and give us the

bank phone number.” We didn’t know if it was going to work but we tried it

and it did. It stopped that guy and whoever, maybe that group of people. It

worked well for probably about three or four months.

Just as we had kind of stepped up our game, then thieves decided to step up

their game too. Then all of the sudden they were able to pass that test so

we’re like, “Hmm, OK. We’ve got to take it to the next level here. What are

we going to do?” We thought, “OK. You know what we’ll do? We will force

them to give us a phone number because a lot of these thieves, they’re from

another country. They pretend they’re from the United States or wherever

they steal the credit card from. We’re going to require the person to give

us a phone number and we’ll just call them just to make sure that they

authorized the card, that way we know that they’re in the right country,

gives us a little bit more protection.”

Again, that was something that worked well. That one probably worked for

another six or seven months and then they found another way to get around

it, which was there started to become available these phone numbers that

you could buy and you could say, “Hey, I’m going to buy a phone number in

Colorado. I’m going to buy a phone number in wherever you wanted to be.”

So, even that stopped working.

Again we had to go to the next step which was, we were like, “OK. Well what

else can we do? OK. They don’t physically have access to the account so

what we’ll do is we will charge a small amount,” and this is something that

happens on a lot of sites these days but back then we had to kind of figure

it out ourselves because we didn’t have other sites to model, but we’re

like, “We’re going to charge a small amount on the credit card and not tell

them how much it is, a number between $0.00 and $5.00, then we’ll refund it

back and if they can tell us what that amount is, then they have access to

the card.”

That one stopped it for a good two or three years but I regret to say even

today, we deal with people who I think what they’ve done is they basically

hijacked people’s information to log into, for example, like their Citibank

account or whatever. Not only do they have access to the credit card and

can run through everything on it, but they can look up things and go, “Oh,

this charge was $1.27.” It’s always a cat and mouse game.

Trent: OK. There’s no super happy ending. It’s an ongoing issue of

something that you have to deal with.

Ian: Unfortunately not, no.

Trent: OK. How long does it take you to get the company to its first

million in revenue?

Ian: First million in revenue was probably around, I would guess . . . I’m


Trent: We’ll call it like the ‘million dollar run rate’. You’re doing

just under $100,000 per month times 12 months is a million dollar run rate.

Ian: Yes, yes. It was probably, I would guess it was around the fourth

year, third or fourth year.

Trent: Really?

Ian: Yes. It took awhile to get it going. Even with that Wall Street

Journal article, what we noticed is that we had a huge amount of traffic

but then it tapered off so we had to find ways of generating the traffic

ourselves. A lot of it, like I said, was that word of mouth and some of the

marketing that we were doing.

Trent: Expand a little bit on, because I’m really interested, as I’m

sure the audience is, because the lean years are always the toughest years.

People say, “Oh, when you got lots of revenue, you could just buy lots of

ads. How hard can it be?” In those first three or four years, I’m guessing

. . . when you were doing a million dollars in revenue, was it a very

profitable company?

Ian: It was OK. I was still working as a consultant up until like maybe

year two and a half. It was doing OK but not enough to pay me where I felt

like I could let go of all the other work that I was doing.

Trent: OK. It’s not like there was money sloshing all over the place

so you couldn’t just go and be the free-spending maniacs on marketing. What

were some of the other marketing activities that you were doing in those

first three or four years?

Ian: I mentioned some of them. So kind of keeping up with how advertising

on search engines was evolving, so it was evolving from Overture to Google

and things like that and Yahoo. Making sure we were seen on the search


A lot of search engine optimization, so I learned a lot about, “OK, how do

I make my site friendly for these different keywords? What keywords do I

want to target?” creating specialized pages that kind of catered to the

people that would be looking for those things, paying for search results

and at the same time, trying to drive it up from the bottom with organic

results, trying all sorts of things, basically.

What I found was interesting because a lot of times things would work, kind

of like with the credit card thing. You find something good and it works,

it can work for two or three years and then it stops working so you always

have to kind of reinvent. I remember one thing that worked awesomely at the

time, which was that I was like, “Well you know what we could do?” We were

just Rentacoder, so we didn’t necessarily do all the types of things we do

now, people looking for a programmer in my city.

I created this thing that would basically show all the programmers in, say,

New York City and then optimize searching for that, so a very local thing,

which is much cheaper to advertise on. But, again, it was one of those

things that worked great for a few years and then had to be reinvented

because it stopped working as well. Everyone else starts doing the same

thing and then you have to find something new to do.

Trent: Especially with the Internet and really business in general, I

think everyone listening to this who is in business is probably already

nodding their heads up and down going, “Yes, that’s just life. The only

constant is change.” I wish we could just put things on autopilot and have

them work for years and years but it just does not work that way, which is

why I do all these interviews. There’s always new stuff to be learned and I

want to learn it all and my audience wants to learn it as well.

You’re now at third to fourth year, doing about a $1 million, how long to

get to $3 million?

Ian: Let’s see, third or fourth year was a million so I would guess maybe

that was around year five or so, maybe year five or year six. Yes, that’s

what I would guess at. It definitely took awhile. The other thing that was

happening around that time too were competitors, new competitors, new

people popping up. New people popping up that didn’t run their businesses

the same way, vWorker was always run off of profits.

The new competitors didn’t even worry about profits, they kind of had that

spigot that you were talking about where they could just blanket ads

everywhere that they wanted to and kind of crowd out our ads. There were

definitely a lot of challenges.

Trent: Yes, so let’s talk about that because there are probably some

good lessons in there. You’re one of the earlier companies that’s got this

particular business model. Now all these, I’m assuming they’re probably

venture-funded organizations who they don’t care about profits, especially

in the early years, because they’re really just looking to build revenue

and then get acquired.

Ian: Exactly.

Trent: These guys are spending, as you just described, a ton of money.

What was that like? How did you compete with them because you didn’t have

their marketing budget, obviously?

Ian: Yes, yes. The first reaction is, “Oh, this is no fun.” It’s like,

“Not fair. They can overwhelm me with firepower.” I thought about it and

it’s a little bit like warfare in a way. It’s asymmetrical warfare. They

have certain advantages but also because of their advantages they have

disadvantages. They’re larger companies and they take a long time to make

decisions and adjust where vWorker could be very nimble. It’s a smaller

company so we could be more flexible.

I tried competing head-to-head, foolishly, on different things and I was

like, “This is not working. They can just overwhelm. They can outbid me

anywhere.” Then I realized, “I need to be where they are not. So I need to

figure out what they’re overlooking.”

For example on Google, there’s obvious places to advertise and then there’s

kind of what some people might call the “long tail keywords” or the places

that are less obvious where, for us, an obvious place to advertise would be

“programmer” but we can totally get outbid there so instead we will look

for a long tail thing that they haven’t thought about yet. That’s how we

kind of rise up from the nooks and crannies.

Trent: OK. Did you happen to read the book “Blue Ocean Strategy” back


Ian: No. I haven’t read the “Blue Ocean Strategy”. Is that basically that


Trent: It’s been quite a few years since I read it, but essentially,

if I remember correctly, it talks about red oceans versus blue oceans and

red oceans are where everyone’s competing, there’s a lot of noise, a lot of

competition and it’s expensive. Blue ocean is you’re trying to find, as you

said, the nooks and crannies where people, they’re not aware of them yet so

when you’re bidding for keywords, yes, that would be long tail keywords.

The book goes on to give many, many examples, again, a long time ago that I

read it, of things that weren’t so much relevant to keywords as they were

the niche, the type of customer that you would want to pursue versus what

your competitors were pursuing.

Like as an example of that, yesterday I interviewed a guy by the name of

Mike Michalowicz, author of a book called “Pumpkin Plan”. Before that he

was running a technology services company, much like I was. We didn’t have

a lot of differentiation and what he figured out was by going after

specifically hedge funds and hanging out where the hedge fund guys hung out

and reading what the hedge fund guys read and getting a couple of different

skills that the typical IT service guys didn’t have.

Like, “How to set up a trading desk.” He did all these things where his

competitors, they weren’t necessarily going, and he cleaned up, absolutely

cleaned up.

Ian: Awesome.

Trent: Yes. It’s a strategy that I always try and do when I’m doing a

business. I don’t know if I always get it right every time but it’s sure

something that I’m trying to think about.

You went out into the long tail to try and compete against these guys who

were basically happy to spend more money than you. Was that the only thing

that you were really doing that was getting the results at that phase or

was there other stuff that you were doing?

Ian: That was definitely just one thing but the other thing was trying to

compete on . . . it’s like, “Well, if we can’t compete on that kind of

firepower, we can still compete on serving our customers better.” I

invested a lot in customer service, making sure that every single day that

there would be somebody that could answer the phone when people had

questions, improving the speed of the turnaround of the e-mails.

Then the other part of that was also the features of the site so it was

like things that people wanted, I wanted to be able to say, “Look, here’s

us and here’s them and here’s the things that we do differently that nobody

else does. We have a 100% guarantee and nobody else does that,” things like


Spent a long time developing those, then creating marketing strategies to

try to present them, even though I just said that kind of very simply right

now, it took a long time to get even that thing of a free guarantee kind of

in my head and get the company aligned with that.

Trent: Well that’s a nice segue because coming up on our interview,

we’re going to be talking about product development in a little bit more

detail, how did you figure out what features to add, of all the features,

how did you know which ones to choose. Then we’re going to be talking much

more about your current marketing strategy, what’s working for you today,

whether social media is coming into play, PR, that kind of thing. So for

the listeners, that’s what’s coming.

Let’s dive into this a little deeper. So product development, because,

you’re right, you could make features that somebody else doesn’t offer that

might give you an edge in some way, shape or form so you’re got this big,

blank white board but you have a finite amount of resources. It’s not like

you can just throw 10 coders at it and say, “Go nuts, guys.”

What was the process that you went through with either on your white board

or in your head or with your team to figure out, of all the opportunities

for product development, these ones seem like they’re going to have the

least amount of risk and the highest rate of return?

Ian: I think the good thing that we did there was I was kind of inspired

by that book, the Crossing the Chasm book, was understanding who our target

customers were and trying to get into their heads as much as possible,

talking to them as much as possible too because a lot of times we guessed

and we didn’t quite guess correctly. It starts with trying to understand

them first and kind of having a mental picture of who they are, their

needs, their desires, what worries them and what problems they have.

Trent: Did you do this with surveys or did you just literally go into

the database and call people up and ask them?

Ian: Both. Yes. The first thing was kind of like just even just

generalizing and saying, “OK, well you know what? A lot of our companies, I

could say this big buckets of companies are the entrepreneur and these

people who, they’re not 100-person companies but they have very specific

needs. So then I went into the database and said, “OK. Here are all the

people that meet that criteria.”

Sent them surveys but also talked to a lot of them. I still do that. About

once a week, I’m still talking to a customer, trying to keep my pulse on

what they want.

Trent: Yes. So what were some of the things that you learned, say,

around this point in time when this competition was coming on to the scene

that were kind of the bigger takeaways or the more pivotal features? Is

there anything that stands out to you there?

Ian: There were so many. I’m trying to remember if one or two were

pivotal. I remember the biggest thing was just trying to make things

easier. Make it easier. Make it simpler. A lot of people don’t really want

to think about what they’re doing and a lot of the sites at the time

required them to think, or at least to read. Even today, it’s a never-

ending process, always trying to make it simpler, always just trying to

refine it and make it even less and more to its essential core.

I’m trying to think of some key features. One of the big ones was the

rating system. So at the time, we just had a normal ratings system just

like everybody else, just like eBay, and we had the same problems that eBay

had, which is that people lie on their ratings, people cheat, people trade


They might say, “Hey, I’m going to give you a higher rating if you give it

to me,” even though the transaction didn’t work well. The opposite happens

where they go, “Hey, you stink. I’m going to give you a really, really bad

rating,” even though the person didn’t deserve it.

We were like, “We need to solve this problem with the ratings somehow where

we can make it so that other people can rely on.” That was a feature. We

talked with people. We came up with the idea, “Hmm, what if we made it so

that the whole problem with trading ratings and retaliatory ratings and

things like that is the other person knows what the other person rated


What if we made it that both of them have to rate because neither one gets

to see what the other person rated them.” That’s what we did. That got rid

of all the retaliatory ratings. It got rid of all the trading of ratings

because now you couldn’t trust that the other person would actually do what

you were hoping that they’d do. Things like that were features that we


Trent: Let me make sure that I understand that. You and I are on

opposite ends of a transaction and I get the little e-mail and you get the

little e-mail that says, “Hey, go and rate your transactions.” I rate mine

but you can’t see it until you rate yours.

Ian: Yes, exactly.

Trent: Obviously if I’ve rated first, as soon as you’ve rated, I can

see your rating. Once I’ve rated it, I can’t go back and change it. If I

was unhappy with your reciprocal rating, it’s too late. Mine’s done. Is

that correct?

Ian: Yes. That is exactly right. You are rating me just based on your own

impression of me and not based on anything I said about you.

Trent: OK. Were you able to, from a marketing perspective, were you

able to leverage that little piece of differentiation or did you

competitors knock you off so quickly that, yes, it gave better customer

service but it didn’t end up translating into something that we could talk

about to say, “Hey, this is one of the reasons why you should use us versus


Ian: They actually didn’t copy that one, which I don’t know why. One or

two of them did but it wasn’t one that got copied across the board. Then we

definitely had that challenge which was like, “Well how do we communicate

this to people and do in an effective way that makes them want to use us?”

Then the other challenge with that is there’s not only that one feature.

There’s like about 50 of these different things so the competitor matrix

became a really good tool.

Trent: There’s the fly I told you about. He’s been bugging me the

whole time. Like I said, people are going to think I have Tourette’s.

Ian: I can vouch for everyone, it’s a fly. I heard it before.

Trent: Go away. I’m being taunted.

Ian: Anyway, it was a challenge to try to get that one little piece of

information out there to them and so we created a competitor matrix. There

are about 50 different things there, compares us to all the different

competitors and how we are different and the things that we do better than

them. Then the next evolution of that was, “Well, even that’s too

complicated. I don’t want to read 50 things.”

The next evolution of that was, “Well, let’s take just the top main three

things and compare it to each competitor,” and we started marketing that

and then people that want to read more could then read the detailed


Trent: OK. I want to shift now, because we’ve been a fair amount of

time here and I really want to kind of bring this up to speed on the

current stuff that you’re doing in marketing because in online marketing,

everyone’s got kind of a sales funnel, the nurturing process. You’ve got a

lead and then there’s a bunch of stuff that happens between getting the

lead and converting that lead to a customer. In your case, your customers,

they’re the employers with the money. Is that correct?

Ian: Right.

Trent: In your organization, do you see the developers as customers as

well or do you think that they have their stuff up on everybody’s site

anyway and so you don’t necessarily look at them that way?

Ian: A lot of them do have it up on every site but they are our customers

too because we need both sides in order to function. If we don’t have the

developers or the writers or the translators and the designers, no business

is getting done. We have to treat everyone as a customer.

Trent: Let’s talk here first about your number one marketing activity

to attract more employers. What are you doing there?

Ian: It’s actually the same thing that’s worked well for both of those.

Like I said, what’s worked well has changed over time. Things that have

worked a long time ago worked for awhile then stopped working but the thing

that’s working now, and it’s gone through a couple iterations to kind of

get it there to the point where it’s working, is an affiliate program.

This affiliate program, it started off as kind of just the typical

affiliate thing, “Hey send us an employer. We’ll give you a certain amount

of money.” I forget how much it was, $25.00 or whatever it was. We rolled

that out and then so did the competitors. Pretty much everyone had the same

thing so it was a situation that, “OK. I need to take it to another level.”

But the challenge, again, is these competitors are so much better funded,

how do we actually make it so it’s more compelling and yet be able to do


I thought, “You know what? We do have an advantage over these competitors.

We have one of the highest repeat business rates in the industry. It’s

really, really high. It’s above 80%. It’s like 85%, 89%. I thought, “Hmm,

maybe we can take advantage of that.” I thought, rather than giving them a

one-time fee, we’ll make them true partners so that everyone that they

refer, they will get a portion of the money that we make off of them for

the rest of their customer lifetimes.

I thought, “Wow, it’s not us paying an upfront fee but over the long-term

we could end up paying out hugely a lot more than any competitor could.” So

that’s been working well for us.

Trent: OK. We might want to dive into that one a little bit more right

when we finish up if there’s more. So let’s go on the contractor side. What

are some of the things – actually, no. I want to stay back because I’m not

sure yet that I understand. Let’s say an affiliate refers you a lead, well

I guess it’s going to become a customer, otherwise they’re not going to get

paid, but do you have a sales funnel? Does an employer come to the site and

are they opting in and getting a report or going to a webinar or what

happens when someone shows up the first time?

Ian: We have a number of ways that they can come into the site and

something that’s worked really well is exactly what you’re talking about.

You can just bring them to the site and hopefully they’ll sign up but much

better is to bring them in, offer them something of value.

We have something that we give them something for free that’s of a lot of

value to them. What it is, it’s a project management guide that show the

average failure rate in the software industry is really high. It’s like two-

thirds of projects fail. We’ve got it to the point where almost 90% of

projects will succeed using this methodology so, yes, they can just totally

turn around.

We give them this very, very valuable free information, this guide, and

it’s not short. It’s probably about 30 pages long with all these different

things that they can do if they’re interested in it. They sign up for that.

That is kind of the thing that establishes us as someone credible and we

now have the right to kind of talk to them a little bit more. We can send

then an e-mail and they’ll look at it and say, “Hmm, maybe I will consider

signing up.”

Trent: After they get the guide, now they’re into the sales funnel,

are there other things that happen after the guide that are happening on an

automated basis because you’ve predesigned the sales funnel?

Ian: Yes, so there’s e-mails that go out to them so we send out an e-mail

to them saying, “Hey, since you enjoyed this guide, maybe you’ll enjoy this

other guide that we have that’s kind of similar on another topic and, by

the way, you might want to check us out. Here’s how you do it.” Then they

download the guide, maybe they don’t. We send out another e-mail.

The first e-mail goes out pretty quickly. I think it’s like a week after

and then the next one will wait about a month. The month one is like a real

pitch and at the point we’ve kind of established enough trust where they’re

not going to hit delete. “So here’s our deal for you. We can save you this

amount of money. Click here to sign up right now.” It’s a pitch.

Trent: They don’t get a pitch like that before the first month?

Ian: Not a hard core pitch, a very soft pitch. It’s like, so in that

manual for example, on every page it says vWorker and blah blah blah blah”

and on the very last page of that manual, if they read through it, they’re

like, “And if you would like to actually hire someone to do this, here’s

how we can do it and we can guarantee it safely.”

The other way, it’s subtle is in the manual, we point out, “Oh, well, you

can do this yourself or you can just do it on vWorker and it’s done

automatically for you. If you want to be covered with a contract, if you

want to have a guarantee, all these things.” It’s more of a subtle pitch

rather than in the face.

Trent: OK. They go into a drip campaign. How long does someone get e-

mails for if they don’t become a customer? Forever?

Ian: No, I think they end up getting maybe three or four and then after

that point, maybe we’ll change our strategy at some point but it seems like

the ones that tend to actually respond, it kind of dies off the longer it

gets and after awhile, it becomes less valuable. We don’t send them

forever. We don’t want to bug people too much.

Trent: Three to four e-mails, if you can’t convert them at that point,

they just become a dead lead.

Ian: Yes. They’re there, we may decide to use them in the future but we

don’t right now.

Trent: OK. Are you using webinars in your marketing mix at all?

Ian: No. that’s something that actually we have thought about. Maybe it’s

something that we’ll be doing soon. It’s definitely something that people

have asked for.

Trent: OK. It’s something that a lot of people, I’m sure you’re

already aware, a lot of people are using with a lot of success. It works

well for myself and many of the people that I interview. You can do them

live or you can also make them look live. There’s various software packages

out there, Stealth Seminar is one of them.

If you’re going to go that road, I use what I call automated webinars but I

don’t say they’re going to be live. I just say, “Sign up for my next

webinar.” I don’t say, “Sign up for my next live webinar,” because that’s

not true.

Ian: Right. OK.

Trent: They work and the software’s actually quite well developed

where the experience that they receive is very interactive and it saves you

because why say the exact same thing every week? It’s not like you’re going

to say any different or say it any better.

If you record your webinar, it’s not like it’s any less value to the guy

that watched the recording that the person that watched it live because

it’s exactly the same message. It just didn’t seem to me like an effective

use of resources, because I was doing them live, to say the same thing over

and over. It gets really boring, as a matter of fact.

Ian: Now what software do you use?

Trent: I use something called “Stealth Seminar”.

Ian: OK. I’ll make a note of that.

Trent: I think it’s like $60.00 or $70.00 bucks a month. It’s

developed by a guy by the name of Geoff Ronning. I have an affiliate link

for it if you’d like to use it.

Ian: OK. I’ll go to the website. Yes, there we go.

Trent: It works very well. I have one of my low-end products, it’s

just a $10.00 a month product on one of my other sites and every week a

couple more people sign up for that. It seems to work just fine and I know

that in the marketing space, a lot of people use these with a great deal of

success. Live webinars can work incredibly well, also, just depending on

what your frequency is going to be and how often you want to do them.

Ian: That’s a great tip.

Trent: Now, in your sales funnel, what I’m curious about is in every

list, there are lots of people and they don’t all want the same thing. They

don’t all have the same timeframe. They don’t all have the same objectives,

etc. The best lists are lists that are segmented, you know, blue people,

red people, green people, whatever, just to use metaphors. Are you doing

any of that kind of segmenting or someone who opts in, there are four steps

and everybody who opts in goes through the same four steps?

Ian: It’s not as sophisticated as that. I wish it was. I guess there’s a

challenge in the beginning with try not to scare them off by gathering too

much information, but at the same time, you need the information in order

to be able to do that segmenting. I wish I could say we were doing a better

job at getting that information.

Probably right now, we are maybe erring on the other side, which is try not

to bother them but also not being able to do as much segmenting as I’d like


Trent: Yes. OK. Again, I’m supposed to be interviewing you, so I want

you to give all the answers but I do want to throw this out for you because

this might be useful. I use Infusionsoft. It is really wonderful for

segmenting. You can basically allow your list to totally self-segment

themselves by the links they click, the forms they fill out, the pages they

view, all of that stuff allows you to get really, really targeted and then

based upon, and it uses a system called “tagging”, which is really just a

way of categorizing.

Then you can have other follow-up activities and sequences and campaigns

automatically fire based upon what tags get applied and those tags are

applied based upon the actions that the person has chosen to take.

Ian: You have a tag on every page on your site, basically, so you can

watch their behavior and then based on that behavior, they then become

tagged and then you can do actions based on that. Is that right?

Trent: Every time they click their mouse, a tag can be applied. Every

time they fill out a form, a tag can be applied. Depending upon what plug-

ins you’re using, if you’re using a membership site, Infusionsoft out of

the box doesn’t necessarily allow you to apply a tag when you visit a page

but there are certain plug-ins that work with WordPress or if you’re using

an Infusionsoft membership site software called “Customer Hub”, I believe

it is, you can tag based upon pages that are viewed. What precedes a

pageview? It’s a click. They’re clicking a link. You can tag on a link.

I interviewed another fellow who’s the founder of a fitness chain called

“Iron Tribe Fitness” and their funnel is amazing. Ninety percent of their

leads come in through the web and they all go through this funnel based

upon the links that they click and the videos that they watch. Then once

they sit them down for a consultation, their close ratio is 98%.

Ian: Wow! That’s awesome.

Trent: There is another guy by the name of Jermaine Griggs, who I know

of him but I haven’t interviewed him yet and he runs a company called “Hear

and”, which teaches people how to play music by listening to it.

The person I interviewed yesterday, the name’s escaping me because I’ve

been doing a flurry of interviews this week, tells me that Jermaine works

only about four hours a week and his sales funnel is apparently

[inaudible/simultaneous audios 51:58]

Ian: Well, I know what made it not successful at the beginning and I think

avoiding some of the things were very helpful.

Trent: Perfect. You should talk about that.

Ian: One was I really should have thought a little bit more about the

whole competitive landscape rather than just myself. I kind of got into

that where I was like, “Well, this is how it’s going to work and this seems

like a great deal.” Then pretty soon everyone copied it and it dried up.

I think one of the real important things was really taking a look at the

whole industry and thinking, “Well, if everyone copies this idea, what can

I do differently that’s going to make it work?”

The other thing is it didn’t just happen. There was a lot of work that went

into, like, chasing down people that I thought would be good affiliates.

Certain companies might just hire an affiliate manager and that’s what

their job would be but we are a smaller company. I didn’t really know what

I was doing. I kind of wanted to oversee the process. That’s the way a lot


At vWorker, basically pretty much every job, I was the first person to work

in that job and then once I felt that I was doing it well enough that I

could write it down and describe exactly what needed to be done and hand it

off to someone else, then it gets handed off to someone else.

The affiliate thing was the same way and I kind of wanted to try it. Could

I be the affiliate manager and learn what that is and then maybe eventually

we would hand that off to somebody else. That was a big thing. Rather than

just posting it out there and hoping people would come, I would go on

Google and say, “Hmm, it would sure be nice if we were on this keyword or

on this,” and just target these people.

Trent: Let me make sure that I understand what you just explained. You

would chose a keyword, type it into Google. It’s going to give you a list

of results. Did you then individually contact those companies and say,

“Hey, I notice your ranking for this word. Here’s a way for you to turn

some of that traffic into revenue that you maybe aren’t getting at this

point in time.” Was that more or less what you did?

Ian: Yes. That’s it. That’s exactly what it was. If they were, like,

especially high up and on a really great looking keyword or topic, then I

might say, “Oh, well you know normally you would come in on the affiliate

program at this level but you look like you’re going to be bringing in a

lot of traffic. I’m going to bring you in at a higher level.” It kind of

gets their attention, you know? I’m already giving them special attention,

which they like. Everyone likes attention.

Trent: Yes, no kidding. That’s a very smart idea. I like that. It’s

not one I’ve ever thought of and I’ve never heard anyone tell me that


Ian: Oh, good, I’m glad it’s useful.

Trent: There’s our golden nugget. I always like to try and get at

least one real super golden nugget that if people who are listening, they

forget everything else, if they remember that one thing that they go, “You

know what? I’m glad I listened to this interview while I was commuting to

work or riding my bike or sitting in front of my computer or whatever

they’re doing while they’re listening to us.” I want to thank you for that.

Ian: My pleasure.

Trent: Before we sign off, is there any other golden nuggets in your

affiliate program that we would want to quickly talk about?

Ian: I think that was the biggest one. Just not expecting it to work but

going in and working it. Yes, that’s about all that I can think of there.

Trent: My follow-up then on that is when you contacted these

companies, I’m assuming they didn’t all respond to you right away, did you

take on average three contacts? Did you use e-mail? Did you use the phone?

Did you use direct mail? What were some of the activities that you did to

try and make that contact successful?

Ian: I used e-mail and phone. Maybe direct mail might be another way,

another avenue to get them but e-mail’s the fastest and easiest so that’s

what I did first. With one or two e-mails a decent number, maybe about 25%

of them would at least respond and say something back.

If they didn’t do that, then we’d try a phone call, some people wouldn’t

respond favorably to a phone call. Some people don’t really want to be

bothered by a phone call. Everyone’s different. That’s kind of as far as it

got. It never got to the point of direct mail. That might be an interesting

thing to kind of work into the mix there.

Trent: Yes, there are lots of guys out there who talk about direct

mail. I’m reading a book by Dan Kennedy right now and he’s obviously been

around forever in the marketing space. There’s a thing called 3-D mail.

People have a higher propensity to open lumpy mail.

We all get so many e-mails, we don’t get as many letters so I think the

probability that people are going to open your direct mail is probably

higher than they’re going to open an e-mail but, of course, you’ve got to

spend money to do it.

Ian: I know someone, his company is called “Enthusin” and what they do is

exactly what you’re talking about, the 3-D mail. They send just a little

kind of open-up postcard with a link on it and it really kind of gets

people’s attention because they’re like, “What is this weird postcard?” An

invitation for you, and then they open it up and they click on the link and

it takes them to a webpage that’s a customized invitation for whatever it

is that you’re trying to target them for.

Real good way, if what you’re selling is not a low dollar amount thing. It

takes considerable work to customize it but if it’s a higher dollar amount

thing, it’s a really nice way to get a good return.

Trent: Yes, and actually I’ve just been reminded of something that I

read about years ago. I don’t remember the name of the firm, he ran a

market research firm and his data was valuable to large businesses that

wanted to sell their wares to small businesses. The value of his sale was

very high.

What he did was he found the 100 customers that he really wanted to have

and then he bought a drill, like an actual tool, a drill, put it in a box

and the branding on the outside of the box had a picture of some guy’s head

from behind with a drill bit, no blood and guts or anything, just basically

looks like he’s drilling into his head with the phrase, it said, “Get

inside the head of small business.” Everyone who got a drill called him.

Ian: I can imagine. Wow!

Trent: So 100 drills, what are they, like $50.00 each so that’s $5,000

but one of those customers is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars a year

to that guy. That was a pretty awesome campaign, I thought.

Ian: That was awesome. Very smart.

Trent: Yes. I wish I could remember who it was so that I could go and

interview him today. All right. If anyone wants to get ahold of you, what

is the best way for them to do that?

Ian: I have a profile on so they can contact me there. If they

want to call, if they’re interested in vWorker itself, we’ve got the

customer service lines open but

Trent: You said that pretty quickly. You want to spell that out again

just for the folks?

Ian: Sure. It’s

Trent: Terrific. Ian, thank you so much for making some time to do

this interview with me. That was a really awesome golden nugget and I hope

that people who are listening to this are able to put that and all of the

other ideas you shared into action.

I want to thank everyone who listens. It’s a privilege for me to be able to

do these. Of course, if you have any questions for Ian or myself, there

will be a comment form, below the page that hosts this video and I’m sure

that if you make a comment there that one of the two of us will get an

answer to you.

That’s it for now. We have many, many more interviews coming. Thanks so

much for being a watcher or a listener, whatever way it is that you’re

consuming this content. We’ll talk to you soon.

All right. If you want to check out the show notes from today’s episode,

just go to Another thing I want to tell you about is the

Bright Ideas Massive Traffic Toolkit. If you go to and you enter your e-mail address, you’re

going to automatically receive access to the Massive Traffic Toolkit.

What is that? It’s a compilation of all of the very best ideas that have

been shared with me by prior guests here on Bright Ideas. The really great

thing about all the ideas in the Traffic Toolkit is you don’t have to be an

SEO guru to be able to do this stuff. It’s really a very smart collection

of traffic generation strategies. To do that, just go to

That’s it for this episode. I’m your host, Trent Dyrsmid. If you could do

me a very small favor, please head over to iTunes and leave a 5-star rating

and a feedback comment for the Bright Ideas podcast if you’ve enjoyed this


It’s really important because every time you do that, it helps the show to

get a little bit more exposure in the iTunes store and we attract a few

more entrepreneurs every time and the more people who are here to consume

all these great ideas, the more entrepreneurs that we’re able to help.

Thank you very much for being a listener and a subscriber. I look forward

to seeing you in the next episode.

Here are some of the things you’ll discover in this episode:

How to Target Customers with Perfectly Designed Products and Overcome Bigger Competition

An excellent product is crucial to the success of a business. This is true for a business that provides a product to a customer or for a business that brings two parties together to complete a transaction. This is what Ian’s business is all about; vWorker brings employers and contractors together from different parts of the world. He has managed to bring together workers and employers successfully together via his online system.

Listen to the show to learn Ian’s process of designing products that perfectly target the needs of his specific customers.


vWorker was massively successful at connecting remote freelancers with jobs.
Image source:

vWorker wasn’t a large company when it started. It was just Ian himself, an assistant and a part-time contractor. Over the course of ten years, it grew from just $50 the first month to $11.1 million in revenue. Being the small outfit that it was, it was constantly being copied and bullied by larger competitors that had much deeper pockets.

Watch the interview to learn just how Ian not only managed to keep his business afloat amidst all the big competition but actually achieved success far better than his well funded imitators.

Getting the word out is always the necessary step before customers know that your company, products and services exist.

Listen to the show to learn about how Ian got the word out for vWorker in 2001 prior the DotCom crash and how he has kept the business fresh in the years since.

When working with remote customers and remote methods of payment, there is always a threat of fraud. vWorker was at the receiving end of a rapidly growing problem of fraud that posed a real threat of snuffing out the business’ early success. Watch the interview to find out what security measures and system developments Ian and his team implemented to fight against the wave of internet fraud that was threatening to shut his business down.

In business, you need to recognize problems and then constantly adapt and change to these problems in order to survive and become profitable. Through the early years— or the lean years, it can be difficult to make a profit.

Listen to the show to discover the methods that Ian used to sail his ship safely through the tides of the lean years.

Ian beat back big competition.

Image source:

vWorker had no real marketing budget and yet the competition were big and backed up by financiers. It made Ian cry foul, but he stuck to his guns and waged war against his competition. He developed a strategy that his competition didn’t expect. He was a step ahead of his competitors and imitators which allowed him to beat the larger competing companies.

Listen as Ian describes how he blindsided other larger companies with his business strategies.

Ian developed a multitude of features for vWorker that allowed him to compete with his competition and win. He made many changes to his system and added in features that his customer liked. In trying to find out what his customers liked, Ian also developed his system of keeping a pulse to what his customers wanted.

Listen to the show to find out how Ian gathered his information to learn what features and additions need to be put in place.

A Sales pitch is massively important for a business to promote its products and services. This is why emails and offers sent to the database of customers need to pitch customers every now and again. Listen to the show to learn just how often and by just how much Ian pitches his customers to his site, affiliate program and online system.

Increasing web traffic was a massively important part of vWorker’s growth.

Image source:

Attracting customers and achieving high yield marketing is always one of the most crucial goals in marketing a business. Online entrepreneurs need to learn how to increase web traffic to their sites to increase visibility, brand recognition, click throughs, registrations, business and profit.

Watch the episode to learn how Ian attracted customers and increased his business by exploiting his advantages to attract customers through his very own affiliate marketing program.

Ian shares with us his effective affiliate program that has allowed him to turn his hard work chasing down customers and companies into his current $11 million dollar revenue. Communication is key to any business; this is especially true for Ian’s vWorker that has two sets of customers to take care of.

Learn the special twist that Ian adds to his Affiliate Programming to bring in larger customers and companies as high-profit affiliates.

About Ian Ippolito

Ian Ippolito is the founder of (recently acquired by and is a highly successful serial entrepreneur.

While at the helm of vWorker, the company was called “One of the 100 smartest, most innovative, hands-down brilliant companies on our radar” by Entrepreneur Magazine. vWorker was ranked as an Inc 5000 company for four consecutive years, and has done over $139 million in business.


How to Use Infusionsoft to Increase Business Automation, Double Revenue, and Increase Customer Engagement: A Case Study with Samantha Bennett

Are you constantly thinking about how to grow your business?

Would you like to hear how one entrepreneur has been able to double her revenue without killing herself in the process?

To discover how to get more referrals, increase customer engagement, and improve business efficiency, I interview Samantha Bennett in this episode of the Bright Ideas podcast. When you listen, you are going to hear how Samantha used Infusionsoft in her business to achieve a 100% increase in revenue.

More About This Episode

The Bright Ideas podcast is the podcast for business owners and marketers who want to discover how to use online marketing and sales automation tactics to massively grow their business.

It’s designed to help marketing agencies and small business owners discover which online marketing strategies are working most effectively today – all from the mouths of expert entrepreneurs who are already making it big.

In this episode, I interview Samantha Bennett of The Organized Artist Company.

Watch Now

Leave some feedback:

Connect with Trent Dyrsmid:


Trent: Hi there idea hunters. Thank you so much for joining me for this

episode of the Bright Ideas podcast. I’m your host, Trent Dyrsmid, and this

is the podcast for business owners and marketers who want to discover how

to use online marketing and sales automation tactics to massively boost

their business.On the show with me today is Samantha Bennett of the Organized Artist

Company and in this episode, she’s going to be sharing with us a couple of

really interesting ideas. The first is how she used a very unique referral

strategy to boost her business by 10% over about a four day period. The

second is her very own customer engagement strategy that results in a very

high level of open rates on her e-mails.And this is something not like anything I’ve ever seen before and finally,

in 2010, Samantha was nominated as one of the Infusionsoft Ultimate

Marketer of the Year. Or ultimate marketers of the year, I should say and

the reason that that’s going to be such an interesting part of the

interview is that Infusionsoft is a tool that she and I both use. Is a

really powerful software tool that you can use to automate all sorts of the

sales and marketing and execution portions of your business and in the

interview you’re going to learn how Samantha is doing that and the results

are pretty astounding. Her growth rate is 100% year over year and she’s

forecasting to do the same year ahead. So, please join me in welcoming

Samantha to the show.Hi, Samantha.Samantha: Hi, Trent.Trent: Thank you so much for making some time to come and do this interview

here with me. Welcome to my show.Samantha: Thank you. My pleasure. I’m happy to be here.Trent: So, I first learned of you in San Diego here where there was very

recently an Infusionsoft marketers day or some kind thing like that and you

were a case study. Or I don’t even know if case study is the right term,

but you had an awful lot of success with your business, your online

business which we’re going to talk about in just a second. And you won an

award as the Infusionsoft Marketer of the Year which is really a big deal.

Because what that demonstrates to folks in the audience don’t know what

that is, you’ve got to be really good at online marketing and sales

automation to win that award.And so when I heard that Samantha had won. I thought, especially how unique

your background and your niche is, I thought, “I really need to get

Samantha on the show.” So, Samantha, give me the. First of all, how much

revenue does your business, is it going to do this year? And how much did

it do last year?Samantha: Last year was about $50,000 or so and well into six figures for

this year. In fact, I just sent one e-mail that I believe is going to

generate $120,000.Trent: Not bad. All right.Samantha: Not bad.Trent: So, now, everyone’s wondering, “Well, what does this woman do?” And

you do some really, what I’m going to call, unusual stuff. Because for me,

like I’m your black white capitalist business kind of guy and you’re more

kind of like this artsy, fluffy, actress on stage, artist. What is it? Tell

me about your business.Samantha: That’s what I am. That’s my background. My background, talk about

anybody can do it. I do not have a background in business. I do not have a

background in computers. I do not have a background in marketing. None of

that. I know nothing about any of it. Or no training in any of it. I’m an

actor and a writer. And, about 15 years ago, I started teaching a course,

called the Get it Done Workshop. Just to help other creative people get

their work done and out there. Because it’s really hard when there’s no

quarterly review on how your novel is going. So, it’s hard to stick with

those projects. So, and then in 2009, you know when God sends you the same

postcard like eight times in a row?Trent: I do.Samantha: Okay. Fine. I had the Organized Artist Company was one of a lot

of things that I was doing and then all of the sudden, sort of everything

else, fell away. I had a bunch of projects come to their natural

conclusion. I had a couple of other things I thought were going to happen

and not happen. And I was thinking, “Oh, I guess I better get another gig.”

And then I thought, “Or I could see if I could do that Organized Artist

Company full-time.” Then I thought, “I guess I better get some business

cards.” And that year, I signed up with Infusionsoft very early, almost

right away. Much, much sooner than my business warranted it. It’s a

complicated and expensive system, and my business was that big and had no

revenue. I needed Infusionsoft to pay for itself before the American

Express bill came. There was no budget. There was nothing. There was no

safety net, nothing.Trent: Wait a minute. You mean you started this with almost no savings as

well?Samantha: Oh yeah. This whole thing has been bootstrapped . . . It’s had to

pay me. I’ve had to make a living wage off of the Organized Artist Company,

almost from day one.Trent: Wow. That’s such an important point. I hope that the people who are

listening to this . . . I have a mixture in my audience of people who are

running businesses and want to get them bigger. I also know that there’s a

meaningful portion of my audience that’s still working for somebody else,

and they have these, “I don’t know if I have enough savings. I don’t know

if I have enough of this, that, and the other thing.” Yours is a fantastic

story that you went into it with that attitude. You had the courage to do

it still. I really take my hat off to you, for that.Samantha: Thank you. Sometimes, I’m at like that event in San Diego, and I

hear other people be like, “Oh yeah. I spent $30,000 on pay per click

advertising. Oh yeah.” I’m like, “Oh. A lot of people invest in their

business? Interesting.” That would be fun. Gosh, having a marketing budget.

I should look into that. It’s true. You can do it. You can absolutely do

  1. I work with creatives. I work with artists. Some people who are self-

defined as artists, they’ll say, “I’m a singer. I’m an actor. I’m a dancer.

I’m a writer. I’m a ceramicist. I’m a timpanist.” Other people who would

not say necessarily that they were professionally creative, but that they

want to be feeling more creative in their lives.Trent: Okay.

Samantha: It’s a great demographic. It’s a great group to work with. They

are really fun people.

Trent: What is it that, in case there are some of those people listening to

this and wondering, ‘How? What? What is it? What are you going to help me?’

Just explain the business model real quick. I want to make sure people have

context, because coming up, we are going to talk a lot about marketing and

conversions and opt-in pages and sales funnels, and all this stuff that’s

really important. To give context for that, at the end of the day people

are buying something from you. I don’t even know if I know what they’re

buying yet. What exactly do you sell?

Samantha: My flagship offering up until now has been a 6 week teleclass

called The Get it Done Workshop.

Trent: Okay.

Samantha: People come in with a project. They want to finish their

screenplay. They want to get an agent. They want to get back to dancing or

poetry, or whatever. They’ve got 37 projects, and they don’t know what they

want to do. They can’t decide. That’s very common. I have a lot of

questions, worksheets, and exercises because there’s not one way.

Trent: Yeah.

Samantha: There’s not the way. There’s not a way to be an artist, any more

than there’s a way to be an entrepreneur, or a way to be a good parent or

partner, or a good citizen. There’s just your way. It’s not like I’ve got

some incredible method, and everybody should just do things my way. I have

an incredible method for you to figure out what your incredible method is.

Trent: You have a process.

Samantha: It’s all about process and reconnecting people with their

intuition. Really getting good at listening to those half ideas. Because

especially if you put it into an entrepreneurial context, the amount of

things that you could be doing at any moment in time is endless.

Trent: Absolutely. It’s a big struggle.

Samantha: There’s the things you could be doing, the things you really have

to be doing, the things that really should have been done yesterday, the

things that really should have been taken care of three years ago. A list

is enough to make a person crazy. How do you discern? How do you decide

where am I really going to get the most return on my investment,

personally, creatively, spiritually, financially? What can I do that’s

really going to make a difference? That can be very hard to see when you

are in the middle of it.

Trent: You had to make your business pay, right from the start. You were

your own student. In other words, you created this, I’m guessing to a

certain degree, to scratch your own itch, which is why I created Bright

Ideas. I love talking to people like you, because every time I do, I get a

free hour of consulting. I get a little smarter. Let’s talk a little bit

before we get into all this sales automation stuff, that’s going to be the

bulk of our conversation today. You are there, and you are thinking, “Hey.

I want to do this creative artist company. I want to do it full time. I

need to deploy Infusionsoft. I need to come up with marketing. I need to

create my information product. I got to do a sales pitch. I got to, got to,

got to, etc.” How did you figure it all out?

Samantha: Very slowly and one teeny-tiny step at a time.

Trent: But wait a minute. You’re in a hurry. You got to generate cash flow.

You got to make sales. Panic! Panic! Panic!

Samantha: Yeah. The first thing I did was I chained myself to the desk and

made myself learn Infusionsoft. Like I said, I didn’t have any real

background in this kind of thing and I knew I needed to learn it, and this

is back in 2009 when, frankly, it was a lot harder to learn.

Trent: Yeah. That’s how it earned its nickname, Confusionsoft, perhaps.

Samantha: Yeah. Exactly. I just really buckled down and made myself learn

  1. That was step 1, as I sort of dove right into the software right away

and got a sense of what it could do and what could happen with it.

Trent: How long did that take? How long did you dive into that particular

phase? Because, again, I’m still thinking, “Revenue! Revenue! Got to make a

sale! Got to make a sale! Got to get the cash coming in!” So how long did

you allow yourself to dive into that?

Samantha: I spent four straight days learning it, and then it’s an ongoing

and uphill climb since then.

Trent: You’re watching training videos and you’re mucking around and trying

to set stuff up, or what were those four days?

Samantha: There weren’t any training videos.

Trent: Back then there wasn’t any? Okay.

Samantha: There weren’t any training videos. [inaudible 00:11:20]

Trent: There are lots of training videos now.

Samantha: There are lots of training videos now and they are excellent.

Yeah. Yeah. I just made myself do it. Then I just started sending


Trent: You had a bit of a… That’s right. Because you had done this, you’d

been doing this [part-timers], so you had a little bit of a list. Is that


Samantha: Yeah. I had about 700 people on my list. A lot of them were

friends and family, like everybody when they are first starting out.

Trent: Yeah, absolutely. They were just there to support you?

Samantha: Yeah. That’s why I had gotten Infusionsoft to begin with because

every time I offered one of these classes, and at that time I was still

offering them live, I wasn’t doing teleclasses yet, I was sort of hand-

sorting my list. I’m going through the marketing thing going, “Okay, I

should send it to that person. I think that person lives in Chicago. Yeah,

I should send it to that person. I think that person already took this. Who

is that person?” My list was outgrowing my brain.

The other thing I’d learned how to figure out how to do right away was put

up a little web form and it honestly said, “Stay in touch with me.” I

didn’t have a lead magnet. I didn’t have anything. It just said, “Stay in

touch” or “Join my list” or something really lame like that. The first time

a total stranger joined my list, I was like, “[inaudible 00:12:38]. It


So, yeah. I just started the broadcast. I started with a little web form.

It was another year or so before I even added the shopping cart

functionality. I was just going on PayPal [buttons]. Yeah.

Trent: Okay. I love this because I really hope that the people who are

listening to this interview, who maybe haven’t taken the plunge yet, are

going to find inspiration in your story. You thought, “All right, step 1,

forget everything else. I’m just going to learn about Infusionsoft. To the

exclusion of everything else in my consciousness, I’m going to focus on

this one task and thereby eliminating that level of overwhelm that we often

suffer from.” You get a little handle on that, you thought, “Okay. Well,

I’m going to build a web form.”

Samantha: Right.

Trent: “Now I’m going to send an e-mail. One step. One step.”

Samantha: Right.

Trent: So what did the first e-mail say? Did you make revenue off that

first e-mail?

Samantha: I don’t know that I did. Do you know where it really slipped from

me? Honestly, I wrote a poem called “In Praise of the Capable”.

Trent: Yeah. All Internet marketers write poems, definitely.

Samantha: I’m here to tell you. I sent it out. At first I wrote it just for

fun and I sent it out to a couple of friends and they really liked it. I

thought, “Oh, well, this is sort of cute. I’ll send it to the list. Now I

have this list. I should send them something, so I’ll send them this


I got this avalanche of response back. People really felt like I had

written it for them. They really wanted to communicate back with me about

how much it had meant to them. That was when it tipped for me that this

thing that could seem cold or mechanical or manipulative was actually a

device to communicate very personally with a lot of people.

Trent: Yes. Yes.

Samantha: So now my initial follow-up sequence, and this is what got me the

ultimate marketer finalist in 2010, is… Right to this day, if you sign up

on, the first bunch of stuff you’ll get is a

bunch of poems. There’s the Praise of the Capable, the Ode to the

Overwhelmed, there’s one for the entrepreneur, There’s one for the grouchy.

And, by the time, people get three or four of these, like they feel like I

am their sister.

And, what I love about this is exactly what you said. There is not a

business book in the world that says, here’s what you do. Write a bunch of

poems. That’s the ticket to profit. But, because of who I am and because of

who my people are, it’s just makes me a welcome guest in their e-mail box.

It makes them feel like I know that, like I understand where they’re at.

And so when I do try and sell them something, which I don’t do that often.

The response is huge.

Every time I do a JV offering, every time I offer something, the response,

I get these calls like, “What is your list? They’re so responsive.” I’m

like, “I know. Because they trust me.” And they get excited. They see

something in their box from me and they’re happy about it.

Trent: And nobody else is doing it.

Samantha: No higher compliment can a marketer get.

Trent: Yeah. Nobody else is doing what you’re doing, either. You’re off

sounding so much different than what everyone else has got to be sounding

like. I’ve got to think that really works for you. Let’s go into a number

here. Do you know what your open rate is on your typical e-mail broadcasts?

Samantha: I don’t know. We all know the open rate is not a reliable number,


Trent: Why?

Samantha: It’s one of the worse metrics we have because when people open

something on their smartphone it doesn’t count as an open. That little one

pixel bing, bing, bing.

Trent: Really?

Samantha: Let’s somebody know that it’s open doesn’t happen.

Trent: I didn’t know that.

Samantha: So this doesn’t count as an open and when people are looking at

something in their Outlook or their Apple.

Trent: Preview.

Samantha: You just scroll through things like delete, delete, delete. That

does count as an open. Even though nobody’s actually looked at it.

Trent: Oh, wow. Okay.

Samantha:. So that number is not a good, not a reliable number. It is

however, the only number we have to start with. So, yeah, my open rates are

usually between 16% and 35%.

Trent: Okay.

Samantha: Something like that.

Trent: So, that’s still a pretty healthy, for inaccurate number, it’s still

a pretty healthy open rate. Now, by the way, just a little quick, maybe

it’s a take away for you, I use on my sites and I just started to use this.

There’s a plugin called iMember360 which very tightly integrates. Do you

use it?

Samantha: I don’t. I have customer help.

Trent: Okay.

Samantha: But I know.

Trent: Very tightly integrated with Infusionsoft and you can apply a tag

just when someone views a page.

Samantha: Well, you know the new.

Trent: Well, hello, kitty cat.

Samantha: The new, the latest version of Infusionsoft, the one from the

spring release, there’s web analytics in Infusionsoft.

Trent: Yeah, there is.

Samantha: So you want to put.

Trent: You’re right.

Samantha: And it will create, it creates a visitor record for everybody who

visits your page and if they then become a contact, it will still have all

the records of every page they visited. You want to get that snippet and

put it on every page you have.

Trent: But do you, where I was going with my comment, is there a better

number for the open rate? Like can you say, “This is how many people viewed

this page from this e-mail.” And I guess there’s lots of different ways to

do this. You can use.

Samantha: Oh, I just track that off of clicks. To make the link to the page

a clickable link and then just track.

Trent: Absolutely.

Samantha: My clicking rates great. My conversion rate is great.

Trent: That’s another way. Okay. So, let’s get into some more marketer’s

nuts and bolts as it were. So, let’s talk a little bit about your sale.

First, let’s talk about how people find you.

Samantha: Right now, they find me almost exclusively by looking for me. My

Google Analytics are all about Samantha Bennett, the Organized Artist

Company. Samantha Bennett, Organized. Samantha Bennett, get organized

artist. Like the people, it’s really people who are looking for me. So, I

have, while I have thesis on my site, so I’m sort of automatically

optimized for SEO, I haven’t done any deliberate SEO activity. It’s on the

list. You know.

Trent: I know when I typed in Samantha Bennett. You come up first. I think

your site the Organized Artist company comes first. So, therefore Google

thinks that you are the most important Samantha Bennett in the entire


Samantha: Well, that’s good because there’s a couple of us out there,

actually. There’s a writer.

Trent: I’m sure there is.

Samantha: There’s a journalist in Pittsburgh. There’s a couple of Samantha

Bennetts out there with a profile but you should always come up first for

your own name. So, that’s another tip for marketers out there. If for some

reason, you are not showing up first for your own name, fix that.

Trent: What if you are John Smith? That’s harder to do.

Samantha: Become John Fabulosity Smith.

Trent: All right. People find you predominantly, it sounds like, word of

mouth. They’ve heard of you in some way, shape, or form, which is the

natural by-product of when you have content that people love. When you have


Samantha: That’s it. The e-mails are very formidable to those poems, and

the stuff I write about, creative inspiration, and staying motivated. It’s

content people love to send to their friends or their sisters.

Trent: Let’s jump into another nugget, then. In the Infusionsoft e-mail

builder, there’s a share bar, a social networking share bar. I didn’t learn

this until the day that I met you. I want to know if you do this. If

someone receives an e-mail, and they want to share it on their social

network, Infusionsoft puts that content on an Infusionsoft hosted page, and

to the right of it you can have an opt-in form.

Samantha: That’s right. You have to tell it you want that form. You can

have the form on the right or left of the e-mail, but that’s absolutely


Trent: Is that something that you do?

Samantha: Every time.

Trent: Every time. Okay.

Samantha: Yeah. Yeah. In fact, now I almost don’t send out an e-mail

without a link to a form. It doesn’t get used all that often, but I want

people to have the option if it’s there.

Trent: Okay. I just learned about that, so I haven’t done it a bunch. Is

there an easy way to get analytics on how many opt-ins you are getting, as

a percentage of how many e-mails were shared, or that kind of thing?

Samantha: You just tag off the form, submissions on the form.

Trent: Yeah. I guess you could. That would be a unique tag. You could

create a tag for that particular e-mail and that particular form. Then, you

would know. Okay.

Samantha: Yeah. Speaking of tagging, whatever your tagging protocol is,

have a tagging protocol. Have a way that you do it every time. For me, I

put dates on everything.

Trent: How about you give us an example?

Samantha: If I sent out an e-mail today about a beautiful sun shiny day, it

would say, “Beautiful day.” It might say, “Content only.” If it was in

regards to a class, I might have something else in there about the class.

Then, it would have today’s date at the end.

Trent: Okay.

Samantha: I tag everything. If people do something, I want to know about


Trent: Yeah.

Samantha: I’ve got tags from when I first started that say, “Workshop.”

Trent: In hindsight, it means nothing.

Samantha: Try 700 workshops that I have no idea what that’s about. It says

, “Workshop. February 2009,” I’m like, okay. I had some idea that that’s

the last time somebody clicked, they’re not that interested.

Trent: Did you learn that, by chance, from Jermaine Griggs? Or did you just

think, “Hey. This tagging stuff is the coolest thing ever. I’m going to go


Samantha: It was the tagging thing is the coolest thing ever, I might as

well go nuts. Jermaine makes me look like a child, in terms of tagging.

Jermaine’s system is so beautiful and precise. The man is a twisted,

twisted genius. I love it.

Trent: Yeah. I want to get him on the show, definitely.

Samantha: Yeah. He’s brilliant.

Trent: For people who are not using Infusionsoft yet and don’t know what we

are talking about, can you just please tell us what this tagging thing is

all about?

Samantha: Yeah. Infusionsoft is an e-mail marketing machine, like MailChimp

or Constant Contact or iContact, any of those things that you might be

using. It’s also a customer database management system. They talk to each

other. You can create an e-mail, and in each e-mail you can say, “Click

here to read my blog. Click here to find out more about this workshop.

Click here to get the free PDF.” Whatever it is that you are offering. In

Infusionsoft, you can tell that link not only where it goes, but you can

tell the system to apply a tag anytime somebody clicks that link. I can

see. It’s a great way to measure engagement.

Trent: Yeah.

Samantha: You really want to get people used to clicking on your e-mails,

partly for sales purposes. You just want them in the habit of clicking, so

then when you’re selling them something, they are in the habit of clicking.

It doesn’t feel weird to them to click and be taken to a page. Also, for

the Internet service providers, that’s one of the ways they gauge whether

or not your stuff goes in the spam box or not. It’s not just does it get

opened, but is there engagement. Are people clicking on it? Are they

forwarding it? Are they saving it? Are they flagging it? Are they putting

it in a file? That’s one of the ways that you stay out of the trash bin.

Trent: Yes. I didn’t think of that. Very good. Again, just in case folks

still don’t get this clearly, tagging is just a means of categorizing

people, or making a notation on their file as it were, based upon an action

that they took that you asked them to take.

Samantha: That’s exactly right; just slapping a post-it on somebody. They

did this; they did that; they did this; they’re interested in that. So that

then you can really target your marketing. And, again, this is a great way

to get a really high response rate. You don’t want to be selling cat food

to the dog people or dog food to the cat people. You want them to segment

themselves a little bit so you know who is interested in what. Then you can

really be sending specific stuff to specific people.

One of my favorite ways to use Infusionsoft is this; if I send out a

broadcast for example, about a class, and there’s a certain number of

people who open and click, and there’s a certain number of people who

register, the people who click but don’t register, I send them another e-

mail almost right away. Because I don’t want to pester the people who

haven’t opened and haven’t clicked because they’re not interested. I might

send them a second one in a couple of days but I don’t want to be all up in

their grill about it.

But the people who have clicked but not registered, they’re interested.

They’re warm, they’re ready and they just need a little nudge. So I send

them a little nudge.

Trent: Give me an example of a nudge. What does a nudge look like?

Samantha: Just a little, “Hey, I forgot to say, there’s going to be a

special something on this teleclass” or “Wait until you hear me talk about

thus and such . . .”

Trent: So you don’t write them and say, “Hey, I noticed you clicked my link

but you didn’t buy.”

Samantha: No, because I think that’s creepy.

Trent: And especially in the artist’s community; they’re not going to know

anything about this stuff so they’re not going to know that we have this

level of visibility into their mouse clicks.

Samantha: Right. That’s right. But you can say, “I think you’re interested

in . . .” or “I really think you might be interested in this course.”

Trent: I love what you said though: “Oh, I forgot to mention . . .” and

throw in another benefit. I think that’s brilliant. It’s authentic because

you can plan to forget something and that’s just good marketing.

Samantha: In the same way, if you were trying to talk somebody into going

to the movies with you; you’d say, “Oh no, it’s a good movie. You should

come with me. You know what, I didn’t even tell you this, and I’ll give you

a ride. How about that?”

Trent: Great metaphor. So they’re like, “Yeah, all right, I’ll come.” Then

they go to the movie and say, “Hey, you know what Sam. Thanks so much for

getting me to that movie. I had a really great time. That was awesome. It

was a good movie.”

Samantha: But be careful because it is your reputation. If you take someone

to a bad movie, they will never let you forget it.

Trent: I was just going to say, and it feeds right in to what you just

said, if you really believe in your stuff, like you really believe in a

movie, you almost have the obligation to do everything that you can to get

them there, because you know that they’re going to have a positive

experience. Why would you not want to have people do that?

Samantha: Exactly.

Trent: Let’s go back to your sales funnel. So they find you, they come to

your site. It all starts with a lead magnet. I’m looking at your site right

now. The side bar, is that the primary place where people opt in?

Samantha: Yep. You want to have it above the fold, right there in the upper-

right. That’s where most people look for it these days. So you want to have

it right there, very easy and visible. Right now, mine’s usually a free

recording, a free webinar. I think the one that is up right now is called

Ready Set Um. It’s about moving from having a great idea to actually being

in action around your great ideas.

Then they hear from me quite a bit in those first couple of days. This is

all Infusionsoft doing this for me automatically – I am at the beach. It

automatically sends a double opt-in e-mail. It automatically sends them a

welcome e-mail. It sends them that free thing that they’ve signed up for,

whatever that is. It sends them a poem; the next day it sends them

something else. Three days later it sends them something else.

These are almost all content e-mails. There might be a little Johnson Box

or something in them that says, “Oh, they got it done. Home study kits

available,” or “You can buy the book of poems, if you feel like it.” But

it’s very low-key. And it’s actually one of things that I’m trying to work

on; I tend to have the selling style that’s a little like, “Um, you know,

there’s a thing, if you want . . . you could . . .” I think, sometimes, I

need to be a little more aggressive in my selling. But initially not.

It’s a lot of content; it’s a lot of feel-good stuff. I’ve had people ask

me, “Do you worry about turning people off by sending them so much stuff in

the first couple of days?” I don’t worry about that for a couple of

reasons. One, I figure you have about 36 hours before somebody forgets that

they have ever heard of you, been to your website, signed up for anything,

seen you, ever had any interest in anything you ever did. So I really want

them to know right away, like, “Hi! Hi! Sam Bennett, you signed up! Hi!

Remember me the day you signed? You were there, I’m typing in your name,

I’m not spam, swear to God!”

So that’s one reason, is I really want to cement for them that this is

something they’ve requested. But also, I’m kind of an overcommunicator, you

know? You’re going to hear from me, and if that bothers you, you should get

off my list sooner rather than later. God bless the unsubscribes. Go find

your people.

Trent: That’s such an important point. I interviewed a gal by the name of

[Jamie Tardy] a couple of days ago, and we talked so much about that, and

then we talked about a guy by the name of [Derrick Halpern], who I had a

very nice conversation with on Friday…

Samantha: Yeah, he’s a smart guy, that guy.

Trent: Both of whom are super, super smart marketers, and they’re, they,

much like me, believe that you need to figure out who your audience really,

really is, and to heck with everybody else. Trying to please, trying to

please everybody is insane.

Samantha: It’s, first of all, it would be creepy.

Trent: Yeah.

Samantha: If everybody liked what you did, that would be weird.

Trent: Yeah.

Samantha: You don’t want that. You want a small, passionate group.

Trent: Yep. I heard, and I don’t remember where I heard it, but it was in

the music scene, and it was basically, if you can have an audience of rabid

followers, you only need a thousand people, and as a band, you could make a

living off of that. Only a thousand.

Samantha: Absolutely.

Trent: And so many people are focused on, I need 50,000 or 100,000 or 5

million or whatever, and they’re trying to be, trying to appease everybody,

and in doing so, they’re appealing to nobody.

Samantha: Well, exactly. And, you hear a lot of this, you know, my list

size poker, well, my list is this big, and my list is that big. It’s like,

okay. I’m sure it is. But again, I’m much more interested in clicks and


Trent: Yeah.

Samantha: I don’t want to know how big your list is. I want to know how

many of those people are clicking, forwarding, signing up.

Trent: Yeah.

Samantha: Just another fun little metric, and this is something, again,

that if your Infusionsoft people aren’t doing, they should be, and if

people who aren’t Infusionsoft people, you can probably do this without

Infusionsoft if you have a little bit of JavaScripting.

There’s a function on the, in the lists, in the link filter in Infusionsoft

where you say wanted the link to link to this webpage, or this in this case

a form, web form that says, “Hey, sign up for a free class,” and then

there’s a little box of “other” and it opens up a few more options, and one

of those options is “Pass this person’s information along at the end of the

link,” then it says, “For Techies.”

And what that means is that it takes the person’s first name and e-mail

address, and passes it to the web form. So they go to a web form that is

pre-filled out for them. I have had conversion rates of over 100% for a pre-


Trent: How is that possible?

Samantha: Because… Yeah, I know. I did the math a couple of times.

Because if people go to the form, it’s already, they don’t have to type

their name and e-mail, it’s already filled out for them. All you have to do

is press the big red button that says, “Sure, sign me up,” and they go

sure, sign me up, and then they forward it to a friend.

Trent: Oh. That’s how you got over 100%.

Samantha: That’s how you get over 100%.

Trent: Okay. Fantastic. That is a brilliant idea. So people come to your

site, they enter into the sales funnel, you communicate a lot in the first

36 hours. You’ve not generated any revenue yet. You’ve built some

credibility, relationship, and trust.

Samantha: Yep.

Trent: Now what happens?

Samantha: Well that’s, that’s 90% of the game. I mean, that’s 90% of what I

do it’s just keep them warm. Keep them supported, keep them feeling

connected to me. I write articles, I answer advice columns and then a

couple times a year I offer a class, and so a couple times a year I do

affiliate offers, and I’m just really straightforward about it. I say I’m

offering this class, and if you’re the kind and if you’re thinking that you

should do it, then you should do it.

Trent: Yeah.

Samantha: And then I offer a satisfaction guarantee or your money

cheerfully refunded. Most of my stuff is very low-cost. The only thing

that’s not low-cost is working with me one-on-one, working privately, but I

have a membership site that’s really cheap. I have these home study kits

that aren’t very expensive. When I do affiliate mailings, I’m very straight

forward about that. I’m like, “This is my friend. They are offering a thing

that I think is really cool.” They are actually my friend. I don’t do it

for people I don’t know.

Trent: That you don’t know. Yeah.

Samantha: The sort of recurrent thing that we keep coming back to here is

treat your list like they’re your friends.

Trent: Yeah.

Samantha: There’s all kinds of tricks and strategies and stuff. There’s

tricks and strategies to friendship too. If you gave me a necklace, and I

knew we were going to dinner, I might where the necklace you gave me.

Trent: Yeah.

Samantha: So that you could go, “Oh. I gave you that necklace.” I go,

“Yeah. I know. I love you. We have this thing together.” Is that

manipulative? Maybe a little bit.

Trent: Yeah.

Samantha: But it’s also a warm, loving, and considerate thing to do.

Trent: Yeah.

Samantha: That’s really what I think about, when I think about marketing.

There’s a lot of tricks and strategies and games, and things you can do.

The fact of the matter is that people are going to do what they are going

to do, when they’re going to do it, and not one second sooner. Not for love

or money, same as you. Nobody can make you buy anything. Nobody can make

you interested in something you are not interested in.

All you can do as a marketer is just stand there in as genuine a way as

possible, just going, “Hi. I’m doing that thing. That thing that I said I

was doing. I’m still doing that. You know anybody who needs the thing, I’m

the one doing that.” When you put out this clear, authentic and consistent

message about the truth of who you are, and what you do, you become like

the whistle only dogs can hear. Your people start to find you.

Trent: Yeah.

Samantha: Again, those people who are not interested in you, who are not

good clients for you, who are not good customers for you, will not find

you. That’s almost as important.

Trent: Wise words. Very, very wise words. A couple more things I want to

cover off before we finish up this interview. One of them is you ran this

referral strategy. We are going to save that for last, because that was

pretty awesome.

Samantha: That was pretty cool.

Trent: I think you said you grew your list by 10% in a week, or something

like that.

Samantha: 4 days. Yep.

Trent: 4 days. We are going to get into a little bit more detail on that

one. I want to go back to your product for a minute, for a little bit. For

the folks who are listening to this and just want to get organized, let’s

give them something. What do you see as the number one mistake that people

make? When they have that pile of all the things that they need to do to

accomplish whatever their project is, screenplay, book, business, whatever

it is, what’s the number one thing, hopefully there is a number one thing,

that you see most commonly as the big mistake?

Samantha: The big mistake is thinking about everything all at once and

getting overwhelmed, and quitting before you even start because you feel so

overwhelmed. The number one strategy I have, and listen carefully to me

when I say this because the clients and students I have who employ this

strategy, see amazing results, sort of jaw-dropping miraculous results. The

clients and students I have who do not employ this strategy, some have

amazing results, and some don’t.

Trent: Okay.

Samantha: Here it is. This is not unique to me. I didn’t make this strategy

up, but I’m a big proponent of it. 15 minutes every day, before you check

your e-mail, before you check your e-mail, before you check your e-mail.

Trent: So after my e-mail?

Samantha: Spend a few minutes on the projects that matter most to you.

Trent: Sorry. I’m sorry I shouldn’t have said anything. Please say that


Samantha: Spend 15 minutes a day on the projects that matter most to you.

Trent: Okay. Focus. Really, that boils down to focus.

Samantha: Daily chipping away at it.

Trent: Yeah.

Samantha: You sort of feel like 15 minutes, that’s not going to help. It’s

amazing what you can get done in 15 minutes. It’s amazing what happens when

you spend 15 minutes every day for a week, a month, a year, 2 years, 10

years. There’s something about claiming that time and space for yourself,

and for the work that matters most to you, that has a really lovely effect

on your life. It’s a little like when you go to work out in the morning.

You spend the rest of the day like, “I’m so awesome. I went to the gym


Trent: Yep. Yep.

Samantha: It’s a little bit of the moral high ground like that. You just

feel great. We know it’s true. If you spend 15 minutes a day practicing

guitar, it wouldn’t be very much time before you were a much better guitar

player. 15 minutes a day to work on your novel, 15 minutes a day

strengthening your core, 15 minutes a day looking for the perfect life

partner, whatever it is that you’re thinking, “Wow, if this were

accomplished, I think my life [inaudible 00:40:19]. You have that control.

I know we don’t control everything about our lives, and there’s a lot of

other people’s fingerprints all over us, I get that, but you have 15


Trent: Yes, you do. And I want to just jump on the piggy-back on that, and

say that that’s the strategy that I try and do. I try to not check my e-

mail till around four in the afternoon, because you know what? It’ll still

be there waiting for me. If I get sucked into e-mail early, the whole day

is maybe one-third or less as productive as if I can maintain what’s

supposed to be my daily routine, plan my day the night before, think about

what are the key drivers to move me closer to this project’s completion,

and then to the exclusion of everything else, I focus on just those things.

Samantha: Yeah.

Trent: It makes a huge difference.

Samantha: It makes a huge difference, and this is why we created our own

businesses, right?

Trent: Yeah.

Samantha: So that we could be the boss, so that we could determine how we

spend our time, and to give up that control is mind-boggling to me. Why

would you create your own business and then work yourself harder and

stupider than any boss ever would?

Trent: I’ll tell you why. Because people aren’t organized, and they don’t

prioritize. They get overwhelmed. There’s all, there’s a lot of noise.

Samantha: And it’s hard. I mean, it’s really, really hard. It’s no joke,

man, it’s a lot of hard work, it’s a lot of time, and particularly writing

and I think copywriting, good copy, is the key to success, something you

certainly need in marketing, certainly in Internet marketing, I think you

can make videos, you can make audios, there’s other ways to communicate

with people, but predominantly, we use the written word, and to get really

good at that takes a lot of time. To find your authentic voice takes a lot

of time. To really target in on your niche audience takes time. But then

when you’ve built it, it’s yours.

Trent: Absolutely. Here, here. And then some of us will get to the level of

somebody like Jermaine Griggs, who, and I have not met or spoken to

Jermaine, perhaps you probably have, but I know in his messaging videos and

so forth, he at least tells the story, that he has a fair amount of free

time because he was willing to invest the time to learn how to run

Infusionsoft so that the level of automation in his business if phenomenal.

Samantha: It’s jaw-dropping, what he’s created. I mean, it’s beautiful.

It’s really beautiful.

Trent: I think he’s doing, like, 10 million bucks a year, somewhere around

that range.

Samantha: Yeah, and he really does. He works four works a week.

Trent: Wow. Very nice. So, for those of you who are listening and you’re

wondering what’s all the fuss about. Hopefully, that will give you some

idea of what all the fuss is about. That’s where we’re all trying to get


Samantha: And become a hundredaire. Don’t start trying to work four hours a

week and make ten million dollars. Start trying to make an extra hundred

bucks this month.

Trent: Yeah.

Samantha: Well, see what happens.

Trent: So let’s get into, let’s close up on this, because I know we’re even

closing in on an hour now, and I want to try and keep this as close to an

hour as we can. Tell us about this super-duper referral strategy, the thing

that you did that got you, what, 10% or 11% risk growth, like another, I

mean, that’s a big number. If you can take however many subscribers you

got, and grow it by 10% in four days, clearly you did something that worked

well. Tell us about that.

Samantha: Yeah, and this was, I have to actually give a lot of the credit

to Mr. Jordan Hatch, who’s the Head of Training for Infusionsoft and, like,

another sick, twisted genius, and a very lovable person. He’s the

mastermind of webinars for Infusionsoft, and he and I were talking. He had

an idea he wanted to test out, and I had an idea I wanted to test out, so

we got together, and I could never have done this without Jordan, because I

don’t have the technical . . . I wouldn’t have known how to do it.

But what happened was this. I had a project I was launching called the

Procrastination Domination Starter Kit, right, it’s a $47 webinar, great

little product, very tight. So I sent an e-mail to my list that said, “Big

News! Launching the Procrastination Domination Starter Kit, $47. If you

want to buy it right now, $27. Special Introductory offer, $27, click here

to buy now.” That just took them to an order form to buy it, and a lot of

people did that.

If you would like to get this for free, refer three friends. You’ll get the

Procrastination Domination Starter Kit for free. They get an e-book that I

wrote called 365 Reasons to Write, and I get to triple my list. Fun for

everybody. So the people who selected that, they clicked on it, that click,

the first thing I did in Infusionsoft was make everybody, everybody on my

list a referral partner for a program I called Refer-A-Friend. Now this was

a referral program with no commission payout, no nothing. I just needed to

be able to track who came from whom.

Trent: Yeah.

Samantha: Okay, so that was the thing that happened, was everybody became a

referral partner without even them knowing it, and then in everybody’s e-

mail, their link was personalized with their affiliate code. Again, this is

part of the magic of Infusion software. It can do this for you.

So, they click on that, it takes them to a web form that pre-fills in their

name and e-mail address, and asks for their friend’s name and e-mail

address. And then the, okay, yes, please send this to my friend, this

person. Takes them to, normally you fill out the web form and it takes them

to a success page that says “Thanks so much for filling out our form” or

something like that.

The success page, however, was a second web form, almost a clone of the

first one, that said, “Please tell us friend number two’s name and e-mail

address,” submit. Please tell us friend number three’s name and e-mail

address. Submit. The final page had, “Here’s your free, here’s where to go

to get your free thing. Thank you so much.” I also sent them an e-mail that

said, “Here’s your free thing, just in case you didn’t get it from the

success page.”

Now, each of those three friends got an e-mail that said, “Hello, contact

first name, your friend, referring affiliate’s first name, thought you

might like this.” So, “Hey, Trent, your friend Samantha thought you might

like this information from the organized artist company,” and then they got

a little e-mail that said, “Hi, I’m Samantha Bennett, your friend so-and-so

put you on this thing, if you would like to join my list, you can get this

free, 365 Reasons to Write, just click here. If you don’t want to be on my

list, no pressure, you’ll never hear from me again. Don’t worry about it.

Trent: Very, very cool. Did those new people also go through the refer-a-

friend process?

Samantha: They didn’t. They could, I could put it on some kind of a loop. I

wouldn’t want to do it to them right away. I would probably want to keep

them on my list for a little while.

Trent: Yeah. Because I thought about that after I talked to you, after I

heard you explain this. I thought, well, why not make the same offer to

everyone that drops into your list? Why not say, “Hey, if you want to refer

one more person, I have an extra special prize for you, or reward, or

whatever, a piece of content, something.

Samantha: Yeah. You could absolutely, and there is actually two other

things that sort of kept it, kind of speak to what you’re saying. The, I

got e-mails from the people who were referring, the people who were already

on my list, saying well, I want a copy of the 365 Reasons to Write e-book,

too. Can I have what they’re getting? So, I included that for them as well.

So they got that bonus as well.

And at the end of the Procrastination Domination Starter Kit webinar, I

give them a link to a survey, a little three-second, three-question survey

that says, “What three words would you use to describe this webinar? Are

you very satisfied, satisfied, not that satisfied, Sam I hate you?” and

anything else you want to say, just an open text thing in case they want to

say anything else. And that, but their prize for filling out, so it’s take

this three-second survey and get another webinar called “I love money and

money loves me” that’s about creatives and making money.

So that also had, had two important things. One, it gave me feedback and

testimonials right away on a brand-new product. So I can say here’s what

people are saying about the Procrastination Domination Starter Kit,

illuminating, inspiring, fun, helpful, warm, intriguing, blah, blah, blah,

blah, blah. It gave them a second thing, which I’m happy to do, and again,

it gives me some idea about the level of engagement, and that was really,

in some ways, everything about that referral program, the thing that meant

the most to me was that people would do it at all.

I sort of haven’t thought about it until all of a sudden, these referrals

started coming in. I thought, how lovely. How sweet of them. Take the time

out of their lives, we were just talking about how an e-mail can just eat

your life. To take the time to actually think of three friends who might

like it, and send this out. It was really moving to me.

Trent: How much revenue did you generate from the referees, the people that

were referred to you? There’s approximately 650 of those people.

Samantha: There was 600 people referred, and about 150 of them ended up

joining my list.

Trent: Okay.

Samantha: Permanently. The rest of them, I deleted because I don’t have

permission to e-mail them. I have no idea what that number is.

Trent: Really? I would have thought you would have known that. All right.

There’s some portion?

Samantha: I’m sure some of them have bought something at some point. Yes.

Trent: Okay.

Samantha: Or if they haven’t, they will.

Trent: Yes. Absolutely. The point is that those leads were very easy for

you to acquire. You now have them, and have a relationship, or building a


Samantha: Right. The statistic I hear is that a referred client is 70% more

likely to close and will spend about 70% more with you.

Trent: Absolutely.

Samantha: That’s what the numbers I’ve heard out in the universe. I don’t

know if that’s true of those 120 people or not.

Trent: In my old business, absolutely that was true. I had an offline

business. I always met with the people. I knew that data pretty accurately.

Our biggest customer ever, they were a referral from another customer. That

particular customer paid us more than two times per month of our previously

bigger customer. Without the referral, never would have gotten them. Not a


Samantha: Never would have had them. Again, it’s just like all

relationships. To make a new friend, to have a blind date, I’m so much more

interested if you say, ‘Oh my gosh. Wait until you meet my friend Trent.

You are going to love him. He’s so smart and funny and charming. You are

just going . . . ” Okay. Great. That sounds great.

Trent: Yeah.

Samantha: As opposed to somebody that comes cold. It takes time. This

organic search thing takes time. This building a dedicated list takes time.

I would rather have something that takes longer and goes deeper, than

something fast that burns out. That’s me.

Trent: Samantha, you have been an absolutely fascinating guest to have on

my show. I want to thank you so much for making the time and sharing all

this with us. I never want to put anyone on the spot while I’m recording

the interview, but I sure hope . . .

Samantha: I’ll do it. I’ll do it.

Trent: All right. Awesome. There you go. There is a master class soon to be

available. We will schedule that as soon as we hang up.

Thank you everyone for listening. It’s my privilege to have the opportunity

to interview so many really smart people like Samantha, and get a free

education myself. I hope that you find inspiration in these. If you do, and

you have feedback that you’d like to give, please do get in touch with me.

You can find me on Twitter or the comments under the forum. It’s not hard

at all to get a hold of me. Use the contact form on any of my sites.

We will see you again soon. I guess you will see me again soon, because I

can’t see you, here on Bright Ideas. We will have some more. I’ve got just

some amazing guests coming up, founders. I’ve got this one guy coming up.

He’s got this hot sauce company, does $7 million a year in sales. This is

like the world record hot sauce. I got another guy coming up who’s the

founder of V-worker. He’s doing $11 million a year with his show. Not his

show, his site. It’s just awesome. I love doing this stuff.

Thanks everyone for tuning in. I look forward to having you back soon. Take


If you want to get the show notes for today’s episode, just go to The other thing I want to tell you about is if you go to, you are going to get access to my massive

traffic tool kit. This tool kit is chalked full of the very best traffic

generation ideas that have been shared with me by previous guests on the

show. The great thing about all the ideas that have been shared in the tool

kit is that you don’t have to be some kind of SEO guru to be able to do

this stuff.

Go check it out. Just enter your e-mail on the page. It’s That’s it for this episode. I’m your host,

Trent Dyrsmid. Want to ask you a small favor, if I can. If you love this

episode, please head over to iTunes, and give it a 5 star rating. Also,

leave a little feedback comment. Every time you do that, the show gets a

little higher in the rankings on the iTunes store. More and more people

find the show. Therefore, we can spread all these great bright ideas with

even more and more entrepreneurs out there in the business community.

Thank you so much. Thanks for tuning in. We’ll see you in the next episode.

Here are some of the things you’ll discover in this episode:

How to Increase Web Traffic with Marketing and Sales Automation via Infusionsoft

Samantha Bennett, an artist by nature, has created an online business that has gained her recognition in the world of online marketing. She was a finalist for the Infusion Ultimate Marketer Award in 2010. Her unique referral strategy has allowed her to boost her business by more than 10% in just four days. This level of growth for any business is almost unheard of, until now that is.

Listen to this episode to learn just what Samantha did to grow her business phenomenally in four days.

Emails are very much ingrained in the marketing strategies of any business. Your online business will either thrive or perish with how you manage to engage your customers through email. Samantha has developed her very own customer engagement strategy that has allowed her to achieve high levels of “open rates” on the emails that she sends.

Listen to the show to learn what Samantha wrote in her emails and just what she does to compel people to open them.

With the strategies that she has developed and employed herself, Samantha has managed to grow her earnings from $50,000 the previous year to well over 6 figures this year. She has even sent a single email that has generated $120,000 in revenue. These numbers are impressive. If you want to find out more about how Samantha increased her earnings, listen to the show and hear her explain her methods and her strategies.

Before her success as an online marketer and entrepreneur, she was predominantly an artist (writer, actress) with no real background on business and computers. Since she discovered that she had the knack for helping other artists out with their works, she has spent most of her time working on that aspect of her business. It is inspiring to hear what she has done to build her business with nothing but Infusionsoft and a strong desire to succeed.

Listen to the show to find out how Samantha started out with no savings and no training to create a thriving business one tiny step at a time.

Customer engagement and response is really crucial to the success and development of a brand or business. When you send out emails to your target customers, you want them to respond positively by having them click to your site or sales page, having them forward the email to their friends or even having them refer your site or offers to their friends. Listen to the show to find out how Samantha got an avalanche of response to her emails.

If you are running and marketing an online business, it goes without saying that you need to market to people who are interested or who will be interested in what you are offering. Samantha has successfully done this with the help of a customer database management system, in her case Infusionsoft. Listen to the show and learn just how she automated a system that kept her emails out of the trash bin allowing her to get a high open rate and response rate.

With all the distractions in today’s modern world, a typical person or potential customer will usually forget your business in 36 hours. Your goal as an entrepreneur then is to maintain your potential customers’ attention long enough to create a relationship.

Listen to this episode to learn what Samantha does in this crucial time period to create a lasting relationship with her potential customers.

It’s all already been said. Just not by you.

Many online entrepreneurs think that it is mainly a numbers game. They think that the size of the mailing list alone is enough to ensure success. Samantha knows through experience that this is not the case. She has found a way to gain more targeted potential customers and increase her conversion rate by over 100%.

Business is a relationship between the entrepreneur and the clientele. It is your responsibility as business owner to keep a relationship going with your clientele. Samantha shares her views on this relationship and her thoughts on just what it takes to be a successful marketer and communicator.

Samantha is a great communicator and artist. In the interview, she shares how she acquires leads easily and build lasting relationships in ways that encourage referrals. Listen to the show to learn more about her highly effective super referral strategy that allowed her to grow her business by 10% in 4 days.

As a bonus, Samantha also generously shares a piece of advice that has allowed her and many of her students to achieve jaw-dropping results with their art and other projects.

Listen to the episode to learn Samantha’s best secrets.

About Samantha Bennett

49kb-BennettOriginally from Chicago, Samantha Bennett is a writer, actor, teacher and creativity/productivity specialist who has counseled hundreds of artists on their way to success.

The author of the surprisingly popular book of poems, “By The Way, You Look Really Great Today,” Samantha is currently writing “The Organized Artist Book: A Success Book For Creative People Who Want To Be More Organized And Organized People Who’d Like To Be More Creative.”


How an Auto Mechanic Became a Millionaire Business Owner Using Advanced Marketing Tactics, Sales Automation, and Infusionsoft: A Case Study with Bob Britton

Would you like to learn time-tested marketing strategies you can use to market your business and brand to your customer?

Do you even know who your customers are and how to keep them interested in your business?

To discover how to create and grow successful businesses with the use of updated old school marketing methods in a high-tech business world, I interview Bob Britton in this episode of the Bright Ideas Podcast.

More About This Episode

The Bright Ideas podcast is the podcast for business owners and marketers who want to discover how to use online marketing and sales automation tactics to grow their business.

It’s designed to help marketing agencies and small business owners discover which online marketing strategies are working most effectively today – all from the mouths of expert entrepreneurs who are already making it big.

In this episode, I interview Bob Britton, owner of Pro Autocare, direct response specialist and winner of the prestigious Infusionsoft Ultimate Marketer Award of 2010.

Watch Now

Leave some feedback:

Connect with Trent Dyrsmid:


Trent: Hey, everybody. My name is Trent Dyrsmid. I’m the founder of In this interview, I am joined by a fellow by the name of Bob Britton, who got his start actually as an auto mechanic and then became an auto repair shop owner.This was an absolutely fascinating interview because he’s now got this auto repair shop, in addition to two other businesses, and this thing is doing just over $1 million a year. Most auto repair shops make 1% to 2% profit. Bob is doing over 25%, actually closer to 30% net profit and he hasn’t even been to his store in six months. How is that happening?There’s a whole lot of direct marketing, using Infusionsoft and really leveraging automated processes. In this interview Bob and I are going to go on to explain conceptually how he does that. I really encourage, if you have a business, that you feel like you’re working too hard to make the marketing happen and you’re working too hard to attract the customers to the business, or you’re just working too many hours, this is an interview you absolutely want to watch. Please join me in welcoming Bob to the show.

All right, Bob. Thank you so much for making some time to do this with me from your home office. It’s always a pleasure to have the opportunity to interview someone who has been as successful as you have. Welcome to the show.

Bob: Thanks for having me, Trent. It’s really great to be here today. I’m looking forward to it.

Trent: Very first thing I always want to do, I always want to give my audience a reason. They’re 30 seconds into this interview and they’re going, “Why am I listening to this? Who’s this guy? Why do I care?”

Bob: “Who’s this joker here?”

Trent: Yes, exactly. In the pre-interview you told me that you’ve actually built a pretty successful offline business and then you used a lot of online stuff to really make that business successful. Tell us really quickly, what is that business?

Bob: My core business that I started with is an auto repair shop. We fix cars. I used to be a mechanic years ago. I worked on cars myself. I kind of went from being the guy under the hood to a multiple business owner now. A lot of that success has been due to the help I got from using Infusionsoft to build my companies.

Trent: Think back, if you can., how much revenue are you doing and how many locations are there?

Bob: I had two locations at one point. I did downsize a couple of years or so ago into one location. I do about $1.1 million a year at that location. The thing that a lot of people don’t realize, that I’m very proud of, is I’ve got a three-bay operation. It’s got five total employees there. To do that kind of volume in that space is virtually unheard of in the auto repair space.

Net profits typically in an auto repair shop tend to be around one and 3% net profit. It’s not a very profitable thing. We typically run around 28% to 35% net profit. It’s not only huge volume, it’s supremely profitable. A lot of that is because the direct response marketing that I’ve used and Infusionsoft that goes along with it.

Trent: Wow. This is going to be an interesting interview. I’m looking forward to this. I notice that you’re not doing this interview at the auto repair shop. Do you go there every day?

Bob: I have not been to my repair shop in probably six months. I don’t go there on a daily basis. I have no need to. I have a general manager that takes care of the day to day operations. I do some things remotely. But in a weeks’ time I may spend a couple hours working on the repair shop stuff. Very little is required of me at this point.

Trent: Let me make sure I really understand what you’ve just said. You have a business that’s making about a $300,000 a year profit for you after everyone’s been paid and you haven’t been there in six months?

Bob: Yes. That’s correct. I take that back. I did stop in to get mail.

Trent: All right.

Bob: I don’t work there on a day to day basis.

Trent: Alright, folks. If you’re not hooked on listening to this interview now, I don’t know what we’re going to be able to say to get you interested. I want to get into the auto business now.

Bob: Oh, no you don’t. I have since learned there’s a lot easier ways to make money.

Trent: Yes, probably. Probably there is. Maybe you could interview people for a living and put all the interviews on a website?

Bob: You could do that.

Trent: You could do that. I’ve got to make some notes to myself so I can keep asking interesting questions. $1.1 million and $300,000 net. Let’s go back. The people who are going to be most interested, I hope, in listening to this interview are maybe people who have a business that they don’t feel like they’ve got their marketing figured out yet.

Back when I was running my tech company, lead generation was God-awful, customer acquisition was brutal. We were sitting, cold calling all day long. It wasn’t a lot of fun. It was exhausting. It was ultimately one of the reasons why I sold the business. It just was so hard to get customers.

Since I’ve started to learn about direct marketing and not just the concept of it, I always knew about that, but since I started to learn about the specific tactics and tools, it’s getting a whole lot easier to get customers. Let’s go back, pre-Infusionsoft, just for a few minutes and talk about how did you get customers. I want to see if people can relate to the situation you were in.

Bob: I was in a really unique situation. You’re not going to believe it, but I swear everything I’m going to tell you totally is true. I was in my 20’s. I had very big ambitions about being my own business owner, running my own company. My wife and I, a new baby came along kind of unexpectedly, so my ambitions got siderailed. I took a job working as a mechanic literally just to make ends meet.

I had never actually even grew up knowing the difference between an import and a domestic car. I saw an ad in a paper one day and I’m like, “I need a job”. It was an ad for auto repair and I said, “You know what, I could do that job”. I went and applied for the job. I went out to the library that night and checked out every book I could find and read them all in the next few days. I went and got the job.

Six months later, I was working as a manager of the store. Six months after that I was a certified master technician and I worked about eight years under the hood, fixing cars. It was some tough times but it was enough to put food on the table and take care of my young family. It was a growing family at the time.

Along the fax machine one day came this fax. I was working for another owner and I happened to see it. It was talking about how to really explode and get a load of customers for your auto repair shop. I knew I wanted my own business. I knew I was planning that so I kept that paper. I set it aside.

Trent: You stole his fax?

Bob: He didn’t want it. He was going to throw it out.

Trent: Okay.

Bob: He said, “That’s garbage”. I ended up doing a deal with that owner. It was a horrible deal. It was the biggest mistake I ever made in my life. I didn’t understand the terms and conditions of what I signed for, but making a long story short I bought a business that was just about out of business, doing total gross volume of around $20,000 a month for a $1 million dollars. I personally signed on.

The problem was that didn’t include any real estate. It didn’t have any employees there other than myself. I basically bought myself a job for $1 million. I didn’t come to that realization, obviously, until a few years later after paying the bills and trying to grow that company.

There’s that old saying that “If it doesn’t kill you it makes you stronger”. I lived that. I lived it in a very personal way. I went from basically turning wrenches myself, having to put a huge amount of money to the old owner to pay that debt and grow that company at the same time. It wasn’t in a good location and it didn’t have a good reputation in the community. But I dove into direct response marketing. I went and spent tens of thousands, probably hundreds of thousands by today.

In my own education, just really learning what the heck is this direct response stuff and what can it do for my business, I took that single store and grew it to two locations, started doing several millions of dollars in volume in about five, six, seven years. That was a direct result of learning direct response marketing, learning how to get people to come in. That was mostly done with direct mail.

At the time, Google wasn’t really out there yet. Infusionsoft wasn’t even around yet. I was old school by any stretch of the imagination. That stuff still works today and I still use a lot of that stuff. But with the tools that are out there today, it’s a whole new ball game.

Trent: Back then, you basically just, I’m assuming, bought databases or lists of people that were probably in your geographic area, blanketed them with mail so they knew you existed. When they showed up at the store you made sure they had the best possible experience and then you probably kept in touch with them with mail again afterward?

Bob: I wish it was that simple. In a nutshell, yes. That’s what we were supposed to do. Unfortunately, I had hired the wrong people. I had some tough lessons there to learn about hiring the right and wrong people. I hired the wrong people. I drove in an avalanche of customers. We had tons of people coming in and they burned them right back out again. I called them the ‘churn and burn’.

That was another valuable lesson there, about having the right people behind your team, learning how to find the right people and manage them accordingly. I did make a lot of mistakes there, some very painful ones, but the end result was I learned some really powerful lessons in a very short time frame. It gave me a lot of strength moving forward to do new opportunities and new ventures.

Trent: Yes, no kidding.

Bob: Yes, you’re right. I did a lot of direct mail, bought lists of what I would consider my ”A” client, the people that fit my profile the best, that would allow me to make a good profit and all that.

Trent: Let’s dive into that for a moment. Customer profiling is so important. I know for me, when I was running my company, I was frightened to be too focused. I thought, “If I get really focused on just this one type of customer, what about all those other people? I won’t be speaking to them”.

In hindsight, I think I was a dimwit because that’s exactly what I should have done, was get really focused on that one customer. How did you figure out who your one customer was going to be? When I say “one customer” I don’t mean one person, obviously, I mean this profile.

Bob: Actually, in auto repair it boiled down real simple: there are a certain number of people that walk in, they throw you the keys, you have their credit card on file and they say, “Bob, just fix it”. They don’t want you to bother them during the day. What I did is I went through my database of customers and I had a handful of those people. I liked to call them my advocates. These are people that love me, trust me, no matter what I said, they just buy it.

It’s not a hassle. They allowed me to be profitable. I took really good care of them. I gave them everything I could. I would think up new things to give them to keep them happy. What I did was I analyzed those people based on their income, where did they live, those types of things.

I built this picture of an “A” client. I went and bought lists of people that matched that criteria. Lo and behold, we got a successful business. The formula is not that complicated, but getting all the pieces together is sometimes going to be a little crazy. That’s what we do.

Trent: Where’d you learn that? Was there a book?

Bob: I learned that from Dan Kennedy. I learned that from being around direct response marketers. I got involved with a mastermind group at a young age. Thank the Lord above that I did because I was able to really accelerate my understanding with that.

Trent: Let’s talk about that for a minute because I’m a big believer in masterminding. I’ve been a participant of masterminds in the past. I’ve launched my own masterminds. I’m getting ready to relaunch my mastermind. Tell me, why do you think being in a mastermind is such a good thing?

Bob: You don’t know what you don’t know. In the simplest terms, that is the absolute reason you need to be in it. I’ll give you a quick story. This is the power of a mastermind. I’m struggling to grow this business. I’m deeply in debt. I’m charged up to the wazoo on my credit cards and I needed a loan. I knew that if I didn’t get this loan I was going to be in some deep trouble.

I went to the bank, they said “No”. I had made one late payment on my mortgage. It was just over 30 days late. It was a black mark on my credit. It was the only black mark, but they would not loan me any money because of it. I was kind of embarrassed about that.

I look back now and I can smile. At the time, it was a really big deal to me. I was really upset about it. I was involved in this mastermind group. I was committed to it. I flew out. The meeting was whatever, but I was having lunch with this guy. We were sitting there and I was struggling with this in my mind and I was worried about it. The conversation came up so I said, “I’m just going to let the guard down. I’m just going to be honest”.

I told this guy what was happening and he goes, “You know, Bob, why don’t you just call them up and ask them to remove it?” I went, “What? They’ll do that?” He goes, “Yes. It happened for me. Just call them. You have a good payment record. Just call and ask them to remove that. Tell them your situation and see what they do.” It never occurred to me, ever, that I could call the creditor and that they would even consider doing that. That little piece of information twisted my head and I went, “Okay”. I went home and called them.

Sure enough, they removed it, got the loan, boom. I was rocking and rolling. All of that changed because I was in an environment with other entrepreneurs and other business people who have been through and around these types of things. It made all the difference in the world. That’s just one example that I can think of. I could give you 100 more. We could talk all day about it. The power is in other people’s perceptions.

Trent: We could go on and on. I’m sometimes known for hijacking my own interviews and telling my own stories. I’m going to refrain. I’m not going to do it. No. What were you paying, though, for this mastermind, to be a part of it?

Bob: Ten thousand dollars a year was the cost of that one, plus airfare and hotel, meals and so on. I look back now and I did not have the money. I mean, I had to scrape up the money together, every dime I had to get to those things and be part of that. Oh my God. If I hadn’t done I know for a fact I would still be either turning wrenches or slaving away at some repair shop and not where I am today.

Trent: Chances are you wouldn’t have got that loan. If you didn’t get that loan…

Bob: Who knows? I would have gone bankrupt.

Trent: All right. You’ve been doing this direct marketing. This is all pre-Infusionsoft. Back then. Let me guess, lots of moving parts, lots of manual processes, lots of work and things falling through the cracks. Am I kind of painting a reasonably accurate picture?

Bob: I don’ think you’re painting it as painful as it actually was. We were doing a lot of direct mail. I do multi-step sequence mailings to get people to respond. It was our most successful thing. I think you can imagine. Let’s say you get a list of 3,000 people. This is a real world example.

You divide that up and let’s say we divide that into 1,000 each. We’re going to mail it and 1,000 people get letter number one. Two weeks later those same people get letter number two. Another two weeks later they get letter number three. I called it my three step letter. Each letter is specific to that person. It has a specific expiration date and it’s always the same for those people. You get a letter and it says this expires six weeks from now. That’s letter number one.

Letter number two: “Hey, it’s still six weeks from now”. It’s very, very powerful marketing. That’s cool. That itself is pretty complicated to make sure the right person is getting the right letter at the right time. Now, what if you wanted to do multiple mailings at the same time? There’s a two week window. What if I decided we’re going to mail out this letter, letter number one, to this 1,000.

Week number two, in between, we’re going to take the second part of that list and mail them letter number one. We started multi-stepping these things. We had calendars going, I had assistants to try and track this stuff and make sure it all went right. I’ll tell you what, it didn’t always go right. It screwed up a lot.

Trent: I’m seeing landmines all over the place here.

Bob: The process was a nightmare. I tried to outsource a couple of times with minimal success. A lot of times, even the mailing houses would screw it up or they wanted a lot of money to manage a campaign like this. It became the law of diminishing returns when you start doing that. We had some fun in the pre-Infusionsoft days.

Trent: You mentioned you had some assistants. In addition to your own time, you had labor costs associated with all of your hard costs of actually mailing these letters out?

Bob: Oh, yes. Yes, I did. She still works for me part-time. She was responsible to get all those mailings out.

Trent: Where I’m going with this is, for example, when I spoke with Janette Gleason the other day, folks, if you don’t know who she is she’s another interview that I’ve done so look for that interview on the blog, they, pre-Infusionsoft, were spending $15,000 per month.

After Infusionsoft was deployed they were spending $1,500 per month and they tripled their revenue. Can you give me a sense of what was the spend before you put Infusionsoft in place? You probably had much higher labor, I’m guessing, than you did afterward?

Bob: Yes. There’s actually no comparison. I don’t have the exact numbers here but I can tell you it’s probably a third. My assistant was full-time with me at that point trying to manage all these. I gave you the example of the three-step letter campaign but we were doing follow-up mailings, new customer mailings, we were doing all kinds of different moving parts. There was a referral program that she would manage. Even with her working full-time, a lot of these pieces would break. If she took time off, some of the things didn’t get done.

After Infusionsoft I took all of those processes, put them into Infusionsoft for that business, I have 72 individual processes that work now. We’re doing my Infusionsoft app for that repair shop business, and I cut her time down to about five or six hours a week. That’s all she works now. She physically makes sure the stuff gets in the mail but she doesn’t have to know who gets what or when or keep track of any of that stuff. It’s all automatic and done with Infusionsoft.

Trent: All right. The audience is probably saying, “Enough with the old school. Let’s talk about what’s working today.” I just wanted to make sure people really understood the problem that Infusionsoft helps people to solve. In case anyone is curious, yes, I’m an Infusionsoft user as well. I’m a big advocate. As a matter of fact, that was one of the reasons why I started Bright Ideas.

Once I started using Infusionsoft in my business I thought, “Oh my God. If I would have known about this stuff back when I had my tech company” I don’t know when Infusionsoft was started, it was probably available in a more rudimentary form, but all I can say is, “Good Lord”. It would have been exponentially easier. Back then I wasn’t even building a list. I had a website with no opt-in form. Can you believe that?

Bob: I actually know that most businesses these days don’t. Even though it seems like we talk about this stuff all the time, if you stopped 100 people on the street that are business owners and said, “Hey, you got an opt-in form on your website?” They would be like, “What’s that?” This is the thing that really gets me excited, Trent. Anyone who is watching this, you are on the absolute bleeding edge of what I believe is the next revolutionary technology.

Not just Infusionsoft, but marketing automation, along with Infusionsoft, understanding these principles, will transform small businesses. It is going to have an enormous impact not just on small, but on small to medium businesses. It’s going to have an unbelievably huge impact. Those people who are going to take that technology and start to use it and run with it are going to be the next Bill Gates. That’s the impact this is going to have on the American and worldwide business community.

Trent: I couldn’t agree more. Again, that’s why I started Bright Ideas, because I wanted to interview guys like you who can say to my audience, “Look, this stuff works. This is how you do it”. Enough. Let’s get into it. Let’s talk about Infusionsoft. We’re going to need to do a master class, which is when we get into it way, way more details. I’m going to be all over you afterward about that.

Those are only available for my premium members and I’ll talk about that later. As best we can, let’s talk about the overview of the process. I call it the ‘life cycle of a lead’, from how you’re getting the lead, how it gets into Infusionsoft, what happens. We’re not going to go super granular and talk about action sets and campaigns because without seeing it on the screen people won’t have a clue what we’re talking about. But, conceptually.

Bob: Until you dive in there, I won’t go to that depth. You want to start with capturing leads?

Trent: Top of the funnel, yes.

Bob: Start with your website. Here’s the best gift I can give to anyone that’s watching this: 99.9% of the web designers out there don’t know anything at all about how to make money online. If they did, they would not be working building websites for $15.00 or $20.00 an hour or whatever they’re getting paid.

There is such an opportunity to make enormous amounts of money if your website is properly designed by somebody who understands direct response marketing, understands how to capture leads from the web. That is the foundation piece.

All this Infusionsoft stuff is kind of behind the scenes things that happen. It manages all these processes and it markets to your people and it can do all that stuff. If you don’t have a good lead generation thing to start with, that’s going to bring people in. I don’t care if that’s brick and mortar or online business. It’s the same for both. I’ll give you some statistics about that in a second. You’ve got to start with the foundation piece. It’s a properly designed, direct response website. There are almost none out there. That’s part one.

The top of the funnel, you’ve got a lead coming in from your website on an opt-in form or people are requesting more information. That information goes into Infusionsoft, triggers a response. They’re going to either get an email back or get physical mail back, a DVD, a CD, they’re going to get something from you. They’re going to get a phone call from a sales rep. All of those behind the scenes things can be managed through Infusionsoft, but that’s where it all starts.

Trent: Okay. I want to go a little deeper there because I know that 99% of the people who are listening to this are kind of going, “Well, how does that happen?” They fill out the form, name and email, they hit that Submit button. They get an email and it says, “Here’s your report” or whatever it was that you promised. That’s called a lead magnet, for anyone who’s wondering. That then creates a record in Infusionsoft, which is the software that you and I pay to use. Then what happens?

There’s all these processes that we can create to have them fire all on autopilot. Can you give me an example of how that works for you? You mentioned some things that I don’t do. I don’t do direct mail. I don’t mail CDs. I want to know how automated is that kind of thing?

Bob: It’s completely and totally automated. One of the things you can decide to do, a lead comes in, you can say, “Okay, send an email to a sales rep with this person’s information and have that sales rep call them”. You can have a fulfillment list that goes out to a mailing house that says, “Send this person this CD”. You can have a letter that goes out, a postcard, a voice broadcast where an automated call goes out to the person and says, “Hey, thanks for reaching out to us. We’re going to get back to you”. You can do so many different things.

It’s virtually only limited by your imagination. I just recently started playing around with text messaging. If somebody comes into my funnel I’m going to text them and see if I can get them to respond that way. We’re going to do some testing in that area. All of those things are part of this whole marketing system that you’re going to put together for your small business. It really is what makes the difference.

Trent: What I’m trying to get people to appreciate is that back when I had my business, the only marketing that I did was picking up the phone and making cold calls. If I wasn’t picking up the phone, and if I wasn’t making cold calls, there was no marketing happening. Every day that I went to work I had this panic feeling of, “There are no leads coming in. There are no leads coming in”. I hated cold calling with a passion because it was so ineffective.

Bob: Let me put this in perspective for anyone watching this. Forget about the new leads just for a second. It’s super important for every business. I can guarantee you that almost everyone watching this that’s in business right now has a stack of papers or business cards that they’ve collected that they know for a fact there is money sitting in that pile, but they haven’t followed up with those people.

What if you had an automated system that you didn’t have to do anything at all and it followed up relentlessly with those people, those new people, those contacts that you’d made, talking about your products, your services, educating them and giving them free stuff. What would happen? What would happen? Would you make more money?

I’ve never met anyone yet who is in business that doesn’t have that scenario. The reason is that in business you’re busy. The phone rings, you have this going on, there’s all these moving pieces. You, as the owner, are typically running around doing all of that stuff.

Sometimes those things fall through the cracks and that’s the power of having a system in place that works 24/7, never gets tired, never takes a day off, using and putting together all of these marketing sequences to make money and make sales for you. It may not be instant. It may be down the road. It seeds the list. It works the people and educates them for you, so you can continually just make sales.

Trent: That’s why your car repair shop makes so much money, because that’s happening all the time. Let’s go back to that. I know we’re both pretty excited about Infusionsoft and I don’t want people to listen to this interview and think, “Well, that was just one big Infusionsoft commercial”.

Bob: By the way, you can do this all without Infusionsoft. That’s a disclaimer right there.

Trent: It takes a lot more work. What is your website for your auto repair shop?

Bob: It’s

Trent: All right. If anyone is listening and they’re not driving their car, presumably they’ll punch up this. There you are.

Bob: You’ll recognize me right away. You’ll notice that it doesn’t look like an auto repair shop website.

Trent: No, it definitely does not. $200.00 at the top, which is your guarantee, you’ve got your contact info, okay. Walk me through. Someone comes to this site and where do you get most of your leads from on this site?

Bob: Two things. Right on the right column, you’ll notice that there’s an opt-in form for a free report. Also, it should pop up a banner at the bottom offering a free report as well.

Trent: There’s the “Make an appointment” button.

Bob: If you scroll down slightly on the right.

Trent: Free report: learn the seven deadly sins people make when choosing an auto repair store.

Bob: Interestingly enough, and anyone who’s in the internet marketing space would say, “How come you make them scroll to make them see the opt-in?” I’ve tested this. We used to have it right above the headline.

Trent: I was looking at it and going, “I don’t know about this”.

Bob: I tested it. It works better that way, believe it or not. We get more opt-ins on this particular one because the headline is so important. I’m driving a lot of traffic from pay per click and other places and they need to see the headline right away. Obviously, they see the banner. But the headline is very important as well.

Trent: It’s funny you mentioned the banner and I scrolled to the bottom of the page. I’m like, “What banner?” Then I just noticed the big orange banner across the bottom.

Bob: Yes, the other one. That’s the second opt-in that pops up.

Trent: People fill this in, they get a report. What happens next? Does it go by email? It must.

Bob: Yes. I deliver the free report by email. Obviously, we follow up and invite them in. We do a couple of other things. We offer them a discount to come visit us for the first time, so it gives them some incentive to visit us the first time. Here’s the thing that you should really take away from this, tracking is one of the big things we talk about in direct response marketing.

You’re not going to do anything if you can’t track it, which is why I love the web so much because it’s so easy to track everything. I know for an absolute fact that when people find my repair shop on the web, versus coming in any other way, that they spend almost three times more money. I started to look at that. Why would people be spending more when they come from online versus direct mail or other ways they come in? If you think about it, it makes total sense.

The people that are looking for repair shops online have a broken car. Something is wrong right now. This is the beauty of the web and getting all these pieces right. Back in the old day, when I was doing all that direct mail, I would have to front all this money, spend all this money to put the mail out then hope that somebody had a need and they would come in and take advantage of that offer. Now, this whole thing has been flipped upside down.

Somebody has a need right now, they’re looking for me. All I’ve got to do is not mess up the sale. I’ve got to convince them that we’re the best option for them to get their car fixed and it’s an immediate sale. They have a need, they find me and we’re golden. They see that website, I’m putting my money where my mouth is right away. This is the beauty of this whole thing, this whole internet marketing for small businesses. This is where it’s at. This is exciting stuff.

Trent: I’m willing to bet that the 99.99% of your competitors are completely and totally clueless.

Bob: Utterly clueless. I love going and looking at my competitors. I have competitors who are spending humongous amounts of money on pay-per-click advertising with Google ad words and other things. I know where they’re driving the traffic. I go there and I’m like, “These guys are just killing themselves and they don’t even know it.” They see me doing it so they’re doing it too, but their website is never going to convert anyone to buy ever.

Trent: They opt-in. They get the free report. You guys follow. I’m assuming you must have some sequences that include making a phone call. Do you get the phone number at some point in here?

Bob: It’s on the bottom of every email that comes in. Obviously, as soon as you opt-in an email actually goes from my service manager to you, inviting you to come in. He doesn’t send it, but Infusionsoft sends it for him. It actually drives you back to the web to make your appointment.

If you click the “Make an appointment” button, that’s an Infusionsoft web form that then follows up religiously with people once the appointment request is made. He will either call or email. He’ll email automatically from Infusionsoft but we’ll follow up with a phone call to get people to come in. All of those processes that are happening, you can see the front of it is the website. The whole behind the scenes stuff is Infusionsoft.

Trent: I notice you have a tab called “Internet coupons”. Does that work well?

Bob: It works very well. You’ll also notice that the coupons have an expiration date on them. If you look closely and come back tomorrow, you’ll realize that the expiration date is based upon 14 days from the day you view the page. We’re always timely.

Trent: Are you using iMember360 as the plug-in on that? Is this a WordPress site?

Bob: It is a WordPress site. I am using iMember360. I have a membership portal for my customer base there. They can log in, look at their invoices, it actually does up-sells within my membership portal.

Trent: How are you having the date automatically change? Is that just a bit of Javascript?

Bob: Yes. A little bit. Now, we’re getting granular. It’s a little Javascript that does that. That’s an important point from a marketer standpoint. You guys have probably seen this, anyone watching this. You go to a website and you see coupons and they’re expired or they’re out of date. Just that one little tweak and that’s an automation thing. Put a little bit of script in there, we’re able to keep the coupons fresh. I can update them if I want to. The expiration date puts a sense of urgency on the coupon.

Trent: There are a lot of lessons to be learned. You don’t need to be in the auto repair business. I hope that you’re realization that if you’re cutting hair or you’re a florist or you’re an accountant or whomever is running a brick and mortar business and you’re relying on just foot traffic to bring people to your business, there’s so much more that you could be doing, so much more. It’s not terribly expensive to do all this stuff.

Bob: You know what it takes, really? Getting around some people who are doing this stuff and they can show you how. That’s the big thing.

Trent: Back to the mastermind yet again.

Bob: Yes. It really is. Like we started out saying before, this stuff is so cutting edge that nobody knows this stuff. It’s not that many people. You can’t stop people on the street. It’s not common knowledge that this stuff even exists or how to put all the pieces together. I’ve had people come in to my group that have spend 10, 20, 30 thousand dollars on a website and it doesn’t make them a dime. They didn’t know that you could get this stuff done for a couple hundred bucks.

Trent: Are you still direct mailing where you’re just buying lists?

Bob: Absolutely.

Trent: Okay. How much are you spending per month on direct mail versus how much are you spending, I’m assuming you’re doing pay-per-click to drive traffic to your site?

Bob: I am.

Trent: How much on each of those two activities?

Bob: I spend about a grand a month on pay-per-click and I spend about maybe $1,200 on direct mail.

Trent: You said you track a lot of your stuff.

Bob: I track all my stuff.

Trent: How much revenue is coming, and it might be blurry because your direct mail is probably driving traffic to your site, right?

Bob: Well, it is, but it’s a specific offer with a coupon code so when they physically show up in my shop I know that they came from direct mail. I did one other thing, too, that we’re getting a little granular but I think it’s important because people like this. I did something that nobody had done before.

I don’t know that anybody has done it again. I tied Infusionsoft into my point –of-sale system at my repair shop. This point-of-sale, which is a computer, physically, sitting at my repair shop, at my service manager’s desk, is at night synchronized and all the data goes up into Infusionsoft by a special program link that I had created.

When I do all my direct mail now, that entire list is imported into Infusionsoft. There are no email addresses so it doesn’t violate any terms of use. You get a piece of direct mail from me, even if you don’t use the coupon code, you’re in Infusionsoft.

I had a special algorithm written so that the point-of-sale, when you show up at the shop, it says, “Hey, wait a minute. This guy lives at this address. He must have been direct mail. He’s a response to this direct mail”, even if you don’t use the coupon or the offer. I’m tracking it automatically based upon that, using that system.

Trent: Which is giving you the higher ROI: direct mail or pay-per-click?

Bob: It’s definitely pay-per-click, by probably 10 to 1 at this point. The last I looked, I haven’t looked in a while, I’ll be honest, at last look we were doing $45,000 a month in direct from my website and/or pay-per-click combined from the web.

Trent: It makes perfect sense because of what you said before. The pay-per-click is working because people have a problem with their car. They’re looking for a solution right now. Direct mail, you’re just farming. You’re planting seeds. “I’m in your neighborhood. When your car breaks down, think of me. Think of me. Think of me”. Again, that’s why the whole online part is just so incredibly effective. Are there any video customer testimonials? Are they anywhere in your sales funnel? Like, “Bob’s a great guy. I love the store. Blah blah blah”?

Bob: I do not have video but if you go to the testimonials page, there I have pages. I actually built a custom automated system for testimonial collection as well. When a customer picks up their vehicle there’s a nice thank you card that drives them back to the web to leave their remarks. When they do that, they can go right online and put that in.

It’s an Infusionsoft web form that then captures that information and automatically publishes it to my website upon my approval. I’m getting new stuff coming in. Again, the testimonials page is no longer a static thing, it’s constantly being updated by my customers.

Trent: Yes, there’s a gazillion of them on there.

Bob: There’s a gazillion on there, yes. In fact, every couple of days, sometimes there’s gaps, but every few days somebody puts one on there. It’s a great way to constantly have that happen.

Let’s go back to the beauty of Infusionsoft. Back in the day, somebody would send a testimonial in or leave one for us someplace and we’d have to write them a letter saying thank you and send them a little thank you card or whatever. Infusionsoft now automates that whole process.

If somebody fills out the thing it sends them a thank you. I do a little gift card that goes along with it as a thanks for their testimonial. I don’t have to do anything. Nobody has to do anything. It just happens.

Trent: Are you using send-out cards?

Bob: Yes.

Trent: Janette, she has it tied directly into Infusionsoft.

Bob: I do as well.

Trent: You do as well. I think somebody makes a third-party piece of software to do that. Is that correct?

Bob: That is correct. There are a couple of guys doing that now. It makes it real simple that Infusionsoft basically sends an email and they can get a gift card, greeting card, cookies, whatever you want to send. I do birthday gifts, greeting cards, cookies, that kind of stuff, all kinds of different things. Again, the sky is the limit. What your brain can conceive, you can get it done.

Trent: What percentage of your annual revenue comes from repeat customers versus new customers?

Bob: Repeat business is three-quarters of my business, three-quarters at least. It has to be that way, too. Otherwise I’m not doing something right.

Trent: Yes. I don’t want people to think that by hearing that they should just focus on their existing customers. People are always moving and dying. If you’re not bringing new blood into the fold then you’re dying as well. It’s important that you do both.

Bob: I think you do have to do both. Although, most of the time, as business owners, I do think we get caught up in new business, new business, new business and we forget that, actually, if we worked a little bit harder on getting more money out of our existing customers we would do really, really well. There is two really good targets right there.

There’s only three ways to build a business, right? Three and only three; you get more customers, you get each customer to buy more, so a higher transaction size. Then you get them to come back more frequently. Out of those three, 66%, now, the two, are dealing with existing customers, higher transaction size and more repeat business. I think it is a valuable target to go after the new customers and you definitely need to spend time there. It can be more profitable if you focus on those other two areas as well.

Trent: Bob, I want to talk a little bit more about, if you haven’t covered it already, your best strategy for getting repeat business from your customers. Then, if people want to get a hold of you, because I know that you’ve got an Infusionsoft mastermind and I want to give you an opportunity to talk a little bit about that. So, let’s go with those two and then we’ll wrap up.

Bob: The first one was what’s the best idea for getting repeat business?

Trent: Yes.

Bob: The best idea I’ve ever heard or came up with and developed was getting people to pay me in advance for my services. Here’s the thing that I’ve come to realize: we all, as business owners and human beings, actually, accept that there’s boundaries and limits based upon our own thinking. I think if you stopped 100 people on the street and said, “Would you ever consider prepaying for auto repair?” 99 out of 100 would say, “You’re out of your mind. I’m never going to do that.” I get a lot of people to do that.

The benefit to me is that I give them a lot of benefit for doing so. There’s a whole program that goes along with it. It’s a great sales pitch that I put together for it. It actually benefits them tremendously. They get the best price, the best discount all the time, all that kind of stuff. They’re prepaying me every month. Their credit card gets dinged for a set amount that we’ve agreed upon or they’ve opted-in for.

I have money rolling in before I even put the key in the door and open for day one of business at the first of the month. That is guaranteed locking them in to do business with me for as long as they stay in the program. I already have their money. It’s already been prepaid. It’s a great program. I think with a little bit of creative thinking and stretching your own assumptions of what people will or will not do.

Just about any business can come up with something that gets a cash flow system like that in place. In the info businesses we call that continuity. We want to add continuity coming in. I haven’t seen a business yet where we haven’t been able to come up with some way where we have that kind of thing. That’s one. That’s a higher level.

Trent: Can I interrupt you for just a moment? Something I want people to understand: I had a computer fixing business. We built continuity into that business and I was able to sell that business for $1.2 million when I was done. If I did not have that continuity, that business would not have been worth 10 cents because people who are wanting to buy a business, they want certainty. They want predictable cash flow.

If for no other reason other than your exit strategy, which is the time when it comes to sell your business, if you want to build value you have got to figure out some way to build continuity into your business. Sorry, I just could not go past it without hammering that point home.

Bob: Couldn’t resist that one, could you?

Trent: No. It’s so important.

Bob: The other thing you can do is never work in your business and it makes it a lot more valuable to an investor.

Trent: It does. They don’t like buying businesses that are all wrapped around one person. People don’t like that.

Bob: That’s very, very true. The other thing, real quick, is to have some kind of club or membership that people can buy into. Obviously, I call that my VIP program when it’s prepaid. I also have what I call the ‘Car Care Club’ card where they can buy a card and it’s a bunch of services at a discounted price which also locks them into doing business with me.

They’ve basically bought a discount and it’s guaranteed that they’re going to come back to me again and again and again when they have a problem. Those are two quick strategies that pretty much any business can use to get that working for them.

Trent: Okay. Which kind of segues us into the whole mastermind thing because people might be thinking, “Well, yes. But how do I figure that out?” That’s, I think, a great segue. If you want to talk a little bit about your mastermind, this is your chance.

If you have a URL where people can get more information, please feel free to give that. If there’s any kind of coupon codes or anything that you can extend to my audience, mention that and we’ll make sure that underneath this interview there’s whatever links they can click on to get whatever deals there might be available.

Bob: Let me tell you how this came about. I built this whole system with Infusionsoft, took this business to the moon and was kind of bored. I was home and I was like, “This is boring”. I started another business and started another one after that. I’ve got three different businesses now. My second one was in the IT industry like you, Trent. I sell marketing information to the IT industry. That’s completely online, completely automated business.

Then, I won the ‘Ultimate Marketer’ from Infusionsoft in 2012, got a lot of notoriety around that. It talked a little bit about my repair shop and these other businesses that I started. I realized that there was a real need within the Infusionsoft space to have a sense of community. There’s some there now but I wanted to take it to a whole other level.

I wanted to get a group of people who are serious about taking their business to another level and helping other people work together. I kind of felt like it was almost my duty to do so because I had been given so much in the past at my own mastermind that I had been part of and I had some real key people that made a big difference in my life. I said, “You know, it’s time to do the same thing”.

I created what we call the ‘Marketing Automation Group’, or MAG, for short. Some people who are in the Infusionsoft space may have heard of it. It’s not a huge group. I don’t want a great, big, huge group. It’s a small group of very passionate entrepreneurs. We work on all facets of business: hiring and firing, management, sales strategies, marketing, direct response marketing.

The common theme that runs through everything is automation. We take all of these ideas and we say, “Okay, how can you take that strategy and how can we automate as much of it as possible, if not all of it?” We come up with new ideas. Members share with each other. It’s really a fun and exciting group.

You can go to I just have a basic funnel there right now. I don’t really do a lot of online sales for that business. I actually do most of it in person. At this point, we get a lot of referrals from people that are members who have friends and they’re wanting to get in business. Don’t expect a big, fancy sales funnel because it doesn’t exist. But, make no mistake.

When it comes to building your business, we’re very, very serious about helping our members. We’re seeing some tremendous results that people have gotten. I’ll give you another link, too, actually, at the end of it. I don’t want to say the wrong thing in the recording.

I’ll give you another one, Trent, that you can put underneath the video. People can get more information as well. It’s not for everyone. It’s not cheap to be part of our mastermind. It’s for people who understand what we’re doing here and want to be part of something bigger. I think one of our members said it really well. He said, “My sales are up but the most important thing is having infinitely more fun along the way than he ever could have doing it himself”.

Trent: My sales are up but my work is down.

Bob: Yes. And he’s having fun with his new friends. It’s pretty cool.

Trent: How much is it for people to become a member of this?

Bob: It’s $13,000 a year to join plus travel expenses. There’s a whole list of things that you get as part of your involvement in the program. I’ll give you the link that gives that out to everyone. I will make an offer to your people that are watching this or want to join your master class. We’ve got to talk about the specifics of that. I’ll definitely discount that some for people who see this and say, “You know what? This is the kind of thing I’ve been waiting for. I know this is going to be right for me”. They can see the ROI of being part of something like this. I’ll make a special offer to them.

Trent: Okay. Terrific. Thank you very much for making the time. This has been a fun interview. I think that you and I are going to be talking lots more in the months to come. I just love being around other passionate, energetic entrepreneurs who are excited about what they’re doing. That’s why it’s such a privilege for me to be the host of Bright Ideas because I get to talk to you guys every day.

It’s pretty rare that I have a day where I feel like I’m overworked or things aren’t going that well. They have. We’re entrepreneurs. We’re humans. It all happens. But every day that I do an interview, I get this dose. I get my fix basically.

I hope that my audience gets as much of a fix out of these interviews as I do. I want to thank all of you guys for being my audience. If you think this is good stuff, please tell somebody else about it. Put it on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, wherever it helps spread the word. For that, I would be really appreciative.

Bob, again, thank you so much for making the time.

Bob: You’re welcome. Thanks for having me. It was really fun.

Trent: All right. Take care.

Bob: Okay. Bye.

Trent: Okay. If you want to get the show notes for today’s episode, go to The other thing I want to tell you about is the Massive Traffic Toolkit. If you go to and enter your email address you’re going to get instant access to the Massive Traffic Toolkit.

What is the Massive Traffic Toolkit all about? It is a compilation of all the best traffic generation strategies that have been shared with me by all those really smart people that I’ve had here on Bright Ideas. The really great part about all these ideas is that you don’t have to be some kind of SEO guru to be able to implement them.

To get access, again, just go to and enter your email address. You’ll have access right away. That’s it for this episode. I’m your host, Trent Dyrsmid.

If you really loved this episode or, heck, even if you just liked it a little, please do me a favor and head over to iTunes and give it a five-star feedback. Go ahead and leave a comment.

The more people that do that, the more visibility that comes to the Bright Ideas podcast and the more people that we can help with all of the really terrific bright ideas that are shared by the experts that I’m so privileged to have on my show.

Thanks very much for being a member of the audience. I look forward to seeing you in the next episode.

Here are some of the things you’ll discover in this episode:

How to Increase Web Traffic and Stay Well Ahead of the Competition by Marketing to a Huge Volume of Customers

Bob talks about his success building and running a brick and mortar business with the help of marketing strategies that are also applicable to small and medium online enterprises.

You’ll hear him discuss these marketing strategies that can be applied universally to all forms of business.

Marketing plays a big part in the overall success of a business or brand. With well implemented and well planned marketing strategies, entrepreneurs can expect severalfold growth in profit.

Bob’s automotive shop earns exponentially more than the industry norms. Image source:

Listen to the show to discover how Bob managed to create and implement efficient plans that helped him grow his profits both online and offline.

Automation is an important key step in maximizing the returns of any investment. Bob paints a realistic picture that shows just how essential automation in marketing really is for the overall financial success of a business.

A business that wants to dominate in a field or niche will ultimately have to deal with competition. If you want to stay ahead of the competition, you should be able to make full use of all available technologies to market your business efficiently to your potential clients. To do this, you should reach huge volumes of your target clients. Bob makes this clear as he explains the best strategies that entrepreneurs need to utilize to market to their customers.

Bob’s business is so profitable largely because of the marketing automation he’s put into place. Image source:

Listen as Bob shares his extraordinary tale of triumph as he reveals his beginnings as a young man in need of a job to a mature and successful entrepreneur earning $1,100,000 a year in his auto repair business.

Many modern day online methods of marketing evolved from old school strategies. Learn the connection between the old school and the modern-day marketing strategies by listening to the show.

If you wish to build and manage a successful business, whether online or brick-and-mortar, you first need to hire and manage the right people. Learn from Bob’s experience by listening to him recount his beginner’s mistakes in hiring the wrong people.

If you wish to go far with your business, you need to take good care of your clients or customers. Before you do however, you must first know just who your client or customer really is. Bob discusses just how important customer profiling is and relates the techniques he has used to bring him his present day success. He first starts by describing what he calls his “advocates” and later on proceeds to outline his method of creating an ideal customer profile.

Customer profiling has played a huge role in Bob’s success. Image source

Listen to the show to discover just how you can use your creative mind to gather and analyze information required to help you create a clear picture of your customer.

The Mastermind Principle helps individuals achieve their goals with the help of others. Bob describes the importance of a Mastermind concisely by relating it to the single piece of information that changed his entire life.

Listen to the show to learn just how being in a Mastermind has allowed Bob to achieve the successes that he has now experienced.

The internet is an extremely powerful tool for business. It allows entrepreneurs to run their operations faster, more accurately and infinitely more fun. Bob explains the great potential for success that current entrepreneurs have with the available software and technology by comparing the next successful small or medium sized enterprise to Bill Gates- type success.

Bob explains just how to boost your sales with direct marketing and automated marketing campaigns. He shares many proven strategies that defeat the law of diminishing returns that are so inherent with today’s websites and business models.

Direct marketing is an absolute must, say Bob. Image source

Listen to the show to learn why it is important to have an Opt-in Form and just where to place these forms on your site.

Bob boldly states that 99% of web designers and web masters DON’T know how to create websites. He then proceeds to state the common mistakes of average or ordinary websites and web designers that don’t generate and convert leads into profit.

A business always aims to bring in new customers and keep old ones to remain successful in their specific field. Listen as Bob enumerates wise business facts that allow you to do just that.

Listen to the show to learn Bob’s best ideas for creating and keeping leads.

About Bob Britton

BobBrittonFeaturedBob Britton is a business owner, direct response specialist, author and speaker who has 19 years experience building and growing brick-and-mortar companies as well as online businesses.

He started his career as an auto repair mechanic but his ambition brought him to new heights. He soon built and managed his very own successful auto repair business at His business genius has allowed him to win the Infusionsoft Ultimate Marketer Award for 2010.

Aside from running three successful companies he is also actively involved in his Infusion Coaching Group and Marketing Automation Group that allow him to coach and influence other hardcore entrepreneurs.

Digital Marketing Strategy: How to Use Internet Video Marketing to Drive Traffic to Your Business with Chris Savage

Chris is the CEO and co-founder of Wistia. He lives and works in and around Cambridge, MA.

He likes to talk about startups, marketing, video, evolutionary health, company culture and doing a lot with a little.

You can bribe him with coffee, a delicious and healthy lunch or a game of ping pong.

He also likes to play with Instagram.

Listen to the Audio