In all of our work with clients, there’s a theme…
And I believe it extends to virtually all businesses…
The theme? That you’re sitting on, and ignoring a valuable asset in your business.
Your existing database of prospects.
The story of leads generated, then forgotten is an epic tale of missed opportunity and lost profit in business.
Because it’s damn hard to follow-up consistently.
In fact, three big barriers tend to freeze most people before they ever get started…
Writer’s Block - As the kid’s say…The struggle is real! Trying to figure out what to say in a newsletter, a simple follow-up email, a LinkedIn message, or even a voicemail keeps many professionals from ever following up.
Being Boring - Boring follow-up is almost the same as not following up at all… ‘cause your boring follow up won’t be read. :-(
Being a Pest - We all know that it’s hard to annoy a prospect into become a paying client. And you run the risk of being mightily pest-like if you show-up with self-centered, ill-conceived, or salesy follow-up.
So, most business owners just punt and do nothing.
Yet, they’ll work tirelessly to fill the pipeline with new leads. (The single most difficult and expensive activity in business.)
Today, in Part 3 of our podcast “mini-series” on escaping the curse of being “the best kept secret in your market” we bring it all together…
And I’ll explain how to do it without ever putting quill pen to parchment or even mousing-over the Microsoft Word button on your laptop.
After you listen to this episode, take a deeper dive into this topic so you can get it working in your business over at our new mini-site: sellingprofessionalservices.com
Announcer: You're listening to the Unstoppable CEO Podcast with Steve Gordon.
Steve Gordon: Welcome to the Unstoppable CEO Podcast. I'm your host, Steve Gordon, and today we're back with part three of our series on getting out of obscurity and escaping the curse of being the best kept secret in your market. Today, we're going to bring it all together and we're going to talk about how to package up the ideas that are in your business and use those to consistently market your business, to stay in front of prospects, and we're going to show you how to do it in a way that is actually really, really easy to do and I promise will be mostly painless.
I'm excited to share this. We've shared this with a few folks in our new e-mail course over at sellingprofessionalservices.com and had just tremendous feedback on it. I think you're going to get a ton of benefit out of this. Really what we're talking about, and if you haven't heard either of the previous two parts of this series, you're going to want to go over to theunstoppableceo.net, or excuse me, unstoppableceo.net/podcast and listen to part one and part two there, where we set the stage for what we're going to talk about today.
Today our focus is really on how to take what we talked about in the last episode, which is coming up with big ideas in your business, and every business has them. I mean that sincerely. Every business has them. We've gone through this process with dozens of businesses, and I have yet to find one where we can't uncover big ideas that are important to prospects. The truth is, if you didn't have any big ideas that were important to prospects, you wouldn't sell anything. So they're there. They're out there. Sometimes it takes an outside eye to be able to recognize them, because often you're too close to it, but they are there.
We're going to talk today about how to package up those ideas and more importantly, once you package them up, how to use them to give you a reason to show up and to follow up with your prospects, with the people that are in your network that can refer you, and with your clients over and over and over again. Follow up consistently and follow up over the long haul. For months and for years. Because in our types of businesses, we all know that sometimes it takes years for a client to get ready. Maybe they've got an incumbent provider in place, I mean the story in professional services of, “Yeah, I've had to work with my sister's brother for 15 years and he finally retired from the business. Now that I don't have that family obligation, I can pick whoever I want and I really want to do business with you.” We've all heard those sorts of stories, right?
They're real, and sometimes there are obstacles in the way of prospects coming and doing business with you that you can't overcome. You can do all that you ... you can try all that you can to overcome them, but sometimes it just takes time, and you've got to find a way to be there over the long haul. This, what we're going to cover today, is going to give you the ability to be there over the long haul and I'm going to bet money that right now, you're sitting on a list. Might be a big list, might be a small list, it doesn't matter. You're sitting on a list of people that have contacted you or that you have been in touch with that you've failed to follow up on. What we're going to cover today is going to give you a very easy way to follow up with that asset that you've already created and to reignite that asset and do it in a way that isn't going to annoy them, it isn't going to aggravate them, it isn't going to make you feel salesy.
That's where we're head today and I'm looking forward to this. It's just going to be a lot of fun to go through this. All right, so again, you want to start with a big idea, and a big idea ... a lot of people think that, "I’ve got to come up with all of these ideas," and over time you will. But really, you want to come up with one idea to begin with. That idea can really act as a theme for your communication with the marketplace. It's interesting, because that idea doesn't necessarily have to be about what you do.
Let me give you a couple examples. If you look at this podcast that you're listening to right now, The Unstoppable CEO Podcast, the big idea there, which is really what we've built all of our different media platforms on, is the idea of the Unstoppable CEO, which is you as you listen to this. It was built out of a conversation that I had with a good friend, who recognized as I described, he asked me, "Who do we really want to do business with?" And I said, "Well, really, you know, the person that I have in mind," and I had some specific people in mind that were our ideal clients at the time. They were business owners who had built a successful small business. Not a micro business, but a successful small business. They had a team in place. They were doing well. They had scratched and clawed and they had been through hardship and difficulty and success to get there.
I kept coming around to this idea of perseverance and the friend that I was speaking with at the time said, "You know, I think the word you're looking for is unstoppable," and that was it. That's been the theme. That's been the big unifying idea behind everything we do is that we show up to serve the Unstoppable CEO. The business owner who has pushed through and despite all of the adversity, hasn't quit. That not only drives all of our media platforms, it drives why we all get out of bed in the morning.
That's an example of how you can use the big idea, and we'll get in a minute to the point where we talk about how to package that and then use it to create content over the long haul that you can use to stay in front of people and not be annoying. Another example, a client that we've just started working with here in the last few months is an IT consultant based out of the Boston area, and part of what he wants to do is reach out to other Boston area businesses. Those are his ideal clients, and particularly in a few different niches. We've crafted a title and a theme that we've plugged into his media platform, which is a podcast. That theme is all around why it is awesome to do business in Boston. It's not about the five things you've got to do to be a cutting edge business when it comes to technology, which is what he sells. It's really something that is going to capture the attention of and hold the attention of his ideal clients. Because in this case, it's about them.
With the Unstoppable CEO, it's about you. When you start with a big idea like that, that is really focused on your ideal client, now it gives you a lot of power and it gives you a lot of room to maneuver within that and create content. If you want to go deeper on how to find that big idea, I really recommend you go over to sellingprofessionalservices.com, because before ... there is an e-mail course there that you can opt into, but before you even get to that opt in, we've got just a whole series of pages that will help educate you on how to come up with these. And then if you want to, it's totally optional, there's a free e-mail course where we actually go in even deeper on some of these ideas and so if this is something that's interesting to you, that you want to figure out how to put into your business, I recommend you go over there. Again, that's sellingprofessionalservices.com is the site where we've got that.
Once you've got this big idea, this theme, now we need to use it to create content because we need to show up in the lives of our prospects again and again and again over time, for the long haul. In the past, the idea of that has been pretty intimidating for businesses, and I know that because we've talked to many of them and the story of the newsletter that got created with a great deal of fanfare and motivation and after two months suddenly disappeared is epic in small business. Because it turns out that having the idea to create the newsletter is a whole heck of a lot easier than actually creating the newsletter every month and coming up with the content that you think will be interesting to your prospects every month.
There's a big difference between knowing that you need to follow up and then actually being able to execute on it. We've been beating this drum for almost eight years now, or a little over eight years now, that the single best thing you can do for your business is come up with a way to show up in front of your prospects every month or multiple times a month. Over and over and over again. That puts you in the best position to win. You can do all kinds of other things that are really great, but if you don't have that piece in place, everything else that you're going to do is largely going to be wasted, because you have a giant hole in the bottom of your bucket. You're pouring leads into it, but without this piece in place, it's all really a waste of time.
The big limit that people have run into with this is the writing. For a long time, I just thought, "Well, just write it. It's not that big a deal," and then I began to realize that that's actually something that I both enjoy doing and have some skill for, but not everybody has that. And that's okay. It's not required. We've spent a long time trying to figure out a way to create really compelling content and have our clients be able to create really compelling content without them having to write. I think that's a really important distinction here, because that's the Achilles heel for most business owners. What we're not talking about today is how you can go create a newsletter that you're going to hate that you created very shortly thereafter, because now you don't know what to write and you're staring at a blank screen.
No, what we have found is that the most effective way to do this, that I have yet to find a business owner that can't do it, the most effective way to do it is to use conversations. It's so easy to use these conversations and record them and then let the world eavesdrop. The technology to do that is very accessible. There are some moving parts to it, but it's pretty accessible right now, and I've yet to meet someone who has conversationalist block. I haven't heard anybody have a talking block. Most everybody can sit down and simply go back and forth.
You know, we used to call these things interviews. In fact, we called them interviews in the exponential networking book that we put out earlier this year, and what I quickly discovered is that even interviews create too much tension for most people. Because then they think, "I've got to have these great questions and I have to do all this preparation," and that's really not what it's about. It's about having a topic and a theme and having a conversation. When you have a conversation, particularly with another business person who has some expertise to share and is intelligent and interesting, it's really easy to have that conversation and have it be compelling.
If you look at what we do on this podcast in normal weeks, when we're not doing one of these special series where it's just me, when you look at our regular interviews, those are just conversations that I'm having with somebody that I wanted to have a conversation with anyway. We just happen to record it and I get to have conversations that I probably couldn't have had conversations with otherwise if I wasn't recording it and if I didn't have a media platform on which to publish it through the podcast. But the act of having the conversation is simple. It's easy. And it's fun, actually. It's a hell of a lot of fun. It's amazing the energy that comes out of that and the relationship that is created with that other person. The recognition that is there.
We do all of these remotely. Most of them over Zoom with a video conference, and so I go to conferences now and we've interviewed some fairly reasonably well known folks in the marketing and business world, and when I run into them at conferences it's like we're old friends. They saw my face on the video conference and they recognize me from across the room. Before that, before I had that interview, I was just another face in the crowd to them. But because I had that conversation and I used my media platform, which in a lot of cases with the people we've interviewed, our media platform is infinitesimal compared to theirs, so size isn't that important. The important thing is that I went out of my way to help promote them and help share their ideas with the world and have an interesting conversation with them. And usually that's enough to get a relationship started.
It's really powerful from that perspective, but it's so easy to do. Now, we publish that as a podcast and one of the things that I've noticed in talking with business owners who have read the Exponential Network Strategy book or who have attended one of our webinars and then get on a call with us, is that there's a lot of focus on the podcast idea. Thinking, "That's the main focus." But the podcast is just the means to an end. It's just a distribution channel, and the thing that is sometimes difficult to get across to people is that this strategy is like an onion, and there are so many layers to it that you have to just keep peeling and peeling and peeling. The podcast piece is really the least important strategy of all. The least important layer of all. It's necessary, it's foundational because it creates a media platform.
When you go to have these conversations with people and you tell them, "I have this media platform and I would like to talk to you, have a conversation with you, and record it and publish it on this media platform and use it to help share your ideas out with my network," now you have a powerful way to invite them to that conversation. Far more powerful than, "Hey, can we get a cup of coffee?" There's now a reason for them to come and show up and bring their A game, and you're telling them right off the bat that, "I want to have this conversation with you, but more importantly, I'm committed to developing a long term relationship with you. And I'm going to prove it from the get go. I'm going to prove it by going out and going to the trouble of recording this conversation and publishing it to everyone that I know, so that they now know about you."
That's a powerful way to open a relationship. So that's the first little layer to this. Now, you need the podcast to be able to do it, but it isn't about having a podcast. You know, one thing that people believe with these podcasts, they get focused in on, is that this is really a lead generation strategy. But it's really not. Yes, you will generate some leads from it, but way more important than that is that it is a lead nurturing strategy. Because it gives you the content in a very easy way, and it gives you very interesting content most of the time. It gives you an easy way to create that content and then follow up with and send that to all of your prospects, your clients and your network of referral partners and nurture those relationships over time. And actually increase your authority in the minds of all of those people over time.
Most businesses get so focused on going out and getting new leads that they ignore the asset that they already have. For most of our clients, they have enough people within the database that they've already created, and in many cases it's a pretty small database. But in most cases, they have all of the leads they lead, at least to hit their goals this year within the list that they already have. Within the database they already have. But they're doing nothing to stay in front of that database on a regular basis.
This is really the best way to get back in front of those people again, and again, and again, and again. And every time you get in front of them and you hold their attention for a little while, you get the opportunity to move them to a next step. That piece, that middle piece between, "I've created a new lead and now I’ve got to stick with them until they convert," that piece in the middle is what's missing in virtually every business. Because we all get so focused on generating the leads and closing the sales, but there's this middle gap that if you invest a little bit of time and energy into building that, everything else becomes easier because you quickly eliminate the waste in your business development.
We talked about the lead nurture quality of this. In addition to that, there is a huge networking benefit to doing the, having these conversations and doing it this way, built on a media platform. And it far surpasses going and having lunch or going and having coffee with someone, because again, you're going out of your way to promote this person. To share them out there. It requires that they come to that conversation at a different level. They can't just show up like, "Oh, I'm just going to go have coffee with Joe." No, "I've got this conversation with Joe and he's recording it for this podcast, and then it's going to be published out to all these people and I want to be in front of them." They're coming with their A game. You're coming with yours as well because you're going to share them.
It's just a much stronger way to network and an easier way, frankly, to network. I went cold turkey on the old shaking hands and kissing babies approach to networking back in 2012, and I was largely able to do that based on the networking I did with our first podcast, which, and I've told this story over and over again, I mean that first podcast, though we didn't get a huge number of listeners to it, I made 50 fantastic relationships. We ran it for a year. I made 50 fantastic relationships and 15 of those relationships turned around and a year and a half later helped me promote my first book and helped drive over 5,000 leads to us in a week.
That wouldn't have happened had I not gone around and built those relationships through those interviews, and that's the next little layer of this onion. You set yourself up to have these big wins. I'll talk more about those wins later. I call them lead generation landslides.
Now, as we dive deeper into this, so you're following up with these conversations and you're sending them out to your prospects. Something else really interesting happens here. They're hearing your voice, just like you're hearing my voice now, and there's just this amazing quality of the human voice. You can convey so much more information, unspoken information, about your nature. About your character. About your demeanor. When you're able to do that with all the people that you want to do business with, you build trust rapidly. It's amazing how it happens. You build familiarity rapidly and at scale.
I go to conferences now and because we publish this podcast and we've been publishing it now for over a year, almost a year and a half. Or over a year and a half now. I go to conferences and people will walk up to me because they're listeners to the podcast and they begin having a conversation with me as if we're long lost pals. Which I love, I think it's wonderful. I don't mind that at all. So if you see me at a conference, please introduce yourself.
What I find funny about that is that just like you and just like the folks that walk up to me, I'm in business. I just happen to have these conversations in a way that we share them with the public, and because these people have heard my voice week in and week out, they feel like suddenly that they know me because I've shared stories throughout these conversations, and they recall that. They know a little bit about my life and that is a powerful way to create that familiarity and to create relationship. And it's real. It is very, very real. The feeling that those people have in their minds is real. It's not just a perception, they really feel that they know me.
I'm not the only one that's experienced it. I've talked with other folks who publish a lot of audio content. The same thing happens. It gives you a very powerful way to deepen relationships with your market at a scale that you couldn't otherwise do. Now, I mentioned a few moments ago this idea of lead generation landslides, and you know, I said earlier that the podcast medium is not a great lead generation medium. It's not. Let's just be honest about it, but the relationships that you create with other people in your network who are selling to the same audience that you're selling to create the opportunity for you to go and give value to their network. Now that you've given value to them and shared them with your network, you create opportunities to go back to them and to offer to deliver a higher level of value.
Maybe it's to deliver a presentation to their clients or to the people in their network or a webinar. Maybe it's to have them interview you on your expertise and have them share that with their network. And at this stage now, because you've given so much and so freely right up front, they're open to it. Reciprocity kicks in and you're not just hoping that it's going happen. You know, in the old days, when I would do this, I'd go around and network and I was part of one of those strong contact networking groups where you show up for a breakfast meeting once a week and you're supposed to bring referrals to people and they're supposed to bring referrals to you and all that stuff. Those were great. But it takes a lot of time and I found that often the reciprocity didn't flow my way. Even though I was going out of my way to give into those networks.
Our experience with this approach is really very, very different. Now, do we do a webinar or presentation with every guest that we have a conversation with? No, of course not. But often times when we have those conversations, we'll either get a reciprocal interview on their podcast, which is fantastic. It means we're getting referred to their entire network. Or they'll refer us to a podcast that they're aware of or that they've been on before. Or we'll do a presentation. In fact, in one of the webinars that we present, an example that we give is just from the first part of this year. Just out of three of the interviews that we did in the first quarter of the year, those turned into two different webinar presentations to audiences, and in the course of two days, we generated 2,600 leads.
Now, is everybody going to generate 2,600 leads? It depends on who you're interviewing and what their audience is, but chances are you don't need 2,600 leads. We don't need 2,600 leads. But it's really easy to go get 20 or 30 or 50 of exactly the kind of leads that you want when you follow this process, and really what you're doing is you're training the people in your network on how to refer. We talk about this in the Unstoppable Referrals book and I talked about it again in the Exponential Network Strategy book. You have to train the people in your network how to refer and you do that by example. This is a really unique way to do that and it's a very powerful way to do that.
Now, I've talked about this idea of focusing on the asset that you have. And I want you to think for a minute, I want you to think about the prospects that you have touched over the last two years. Think about how many of those people you've actually stayed in contact with. And if you want back and warmed them up with something really interesting around a big idea that they might care about, and if you went back and warmed up those relationships, I want you to think about the value that might be hidden in that group of people.
Chances are there's tremendous value there, and often what we see with our clients when they come into our program where we do all of the behind the scenes marketing for them and set their podcast up and create their webinar for them and do outreach for them, when they begin that process, often what they find is that just the simple act of going back out and warming up the people who were already in their world stimulates new business right away. Because there are a bunch of people there who once upon a time had the thought that they might need your help, but they either got busy or they forgot about it or you just didn't follow up. Maybe they're still sitting there and haven't done anything.
Chances are, some of them are still sitting there and haven't done anything, and they still have a need. It's up to you to show up. This approach, for folks in professional services, I mean I grew up in this business. I literally grew up in the business. My dad had an accounting firm from the time I was, I don't know, eight or nine years old. Grew up crawling around the floor on his office, so I feel like I've grown up in professional services. My first business was a professional service firm. My current business is a professional service firm. I get the challenges that we all face. You need a way to market that is comfortable for you, that's not salesy, because that's going to ... if it gets salesy it's going to eliminate your authority and you need authority to sell at premium prices. To get the fees that you really deserve to get. You need an approach that's relationship centric.
There's a lot of noise out there about going out and getting cold traffic or having people cold call for you and do all this lead generation for you, but the fact of the matter is that when you're dealing with a transaction as large and complex as most of us are dealing with, the biggest limiting factor is trust. If you think that a Google ad or a service doing cold calling for you is creating trust that will support someone hiring you, I think you've got to question that because most of the time it won't.
Trust is actually I think a bigger issue than, you know, a lot of people say sales is a numbers game. I disagree. At least for our types of businesses. If we're selling hot dogs, yes, it's a numbers game. You talk to enough people, you're going to sell some hot dogs. But in our types of businesses, this is really more of a trust game and everything that you do needs to create trust and it needs to create relationship, so that when you get the opportunity to be in front of a prospect, that they're already pre-sold. That they already feel like they know you. That they already feel like they trust you. That they already will say that, "Yeah, Joe's my guy or Mary's my gal. That's who I want to do business with." They've already made that decision, because if they've made that decision, you don't have to sell and everything becomes easier.
That's how you package up this big idea. That's the simplest way we've ever found to do it. Are there other ways? Yeah, absolutely, there are other ways to do it. Lots of other ways to do it. This is the simplest, easiest to implement way that we've found to do it, and I think it's very accessible to really everyone. I would love for you to go, if this has made any sense to you whatsoever and you want to explore a little further and get in to some of the details that because of time we just weren't able to cover today, go over to sellingprofessionalservices.com. We set that site up for the specific reason, for educating everybody that's in our world on these ideas.
We think they're important, and based on the feedback we've had from folks that have both gone through the site and then gone through the e-mail course, they seem to think that these ideas are important and are worthy as well. I hope you go over there, and we'll be back next week with an awesome interview and it's going to be amazing. In fact, it was one of my favorite interviews and it's a little bit different. I'm not going to say any more about it now, but we've got a great interview coming up next week that I know you're going enjoy and thanks again for listening to the podcast. We're just really grateful that you're here and so happy to have you as a part of our audience. Take care.