Josh Turner | Compelling Marketing Creates Consistent Growth

When you have a business, it’s tempting to be all things to all people. But when your target market is too big, says Josh Turner, you don’t reach anybody effectively. This B2B marketing expert recommends ways to laser focus your marketing so you can generate as many leads as you can handle.

Josh is a big fan of one social network in particular. He shares how he’s learned to use it to turn more prospects into lifelong clients and customers.

You’ll also get details on…

  • The forgotten impact of your physical health on mindset
  • Ways to generate leads on social media without “spamming”
  • How to get referrals on autopilot by building your reputation online
  • The 15-Minute Rule for overcoming negativity and getting back to work
  • The people you need in your business so you can focus on “needle movers”
  • And more…

Mentioned in the show

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We’re talking with Josh Turner. Josh is the Wall Street Journal bestselling author of Connect and Booked, and he’s the Founder of LinkedSelling, which is a B2B marketing firm that specializes in outsource LinkedIn lead generation campaigns. They represent clients like Neil Patel and Microsoft and a whole host of others. If you haven’t found his book, you need to go find it. LinkedSelling operates, a bunch of online training programs, and they do it for you. I’m excited to have Josh. We’ve known each other for awhile. I believe in the stuff that you are doing on LinkedIn. Sometimes it’s sometimes a forgotten platform with all the focus on Facebook, but for those of us selling B2B, it is the most valuable tool. Welcome, Josh.

Steve, thanks so much for having me and I couldn’t agree more.

We’ve talked a little bit about who you are, but let’s dive into the real back story of how you got to this point in business. I’m pretty sure you probably didn’t wake up one day and say, “I’m now a LinkedIn expert.” You didn’t graduate from college for that, so how’d you get to this point?

No, it wasn’t like when I was four years old, I realized LinkedIn was where I needed to focus my energy. Before starting this company, I was the CFO of a construction and manufacturing company. While I was working at that company, I had started using LinkedIn pretty early on in LinkedIn days and I realized that you could use this tool for business development. I was connecting with all sorts of people that would be good clients for the company that I worked for, good referral partners like architects and things like that. I built up a pretty good network and started to see how LinkedIn could be used in a very powerful way, aside from how most people use it, which is basically nothing more than an online resume or a Rolodex.

Fast forward to 2009, that company was hit pretty hard by the downturn in the economy and was forced to shut its doors. I had the decision to make, go find another job somewhere or go out on my own. I had been itching to do my own thing for awhile and so I did. I started working as an outsource CFO. One of the things I started doing right away that was the only thing that got me results was tapping into LinkedIn and going out and connecting with more prospects. I took it up a level. I started getting focused. I built a LinkedIn group. I was connecting with lots of people. I was putting my name out there, and it created this real flywheel momentum effect. I started getting lots of leads. I started getting lots of referrals from people that didn’t even know who I was.

At the time I was 29 years old and when you’re a 29-year-old who is trying to put himself out there as an outsource CFO and most of your clients are older grey-haired men and women, it’s hard to gain credibility. Within six months of starting the business because of the presence I created for myself on LinkedIn, I was getting referrals into businesses from people that I hadn’t even heard of before and didn’t even know because they were seeing all of this stuff I was putting out on LinkedIn. I realized that I had something pretty powerful here.

One of my clients that I was doing finance work for asked me if I thought that this LinkedIn system I had built for myself would work for them and that was a light bulb moment for me that I bet there are other businesses that could use this system. I saw that in the social media landscape, what was being taught was a bunch of fluff and frankly BS that wasn’t stuff that move the needle. It was like spray and pray and posting content and soft stuff that might have a place, but it wasn’t the stuff that was going to generate leads consistently.

I thought that I had something special. I helped this first client generate over $30 million in sales through the LinkedIn system that I was using. From there I said, I bet there’re more companies that would be interested in this. I built in 2011 and the company has taken off since then. We’ve been on the Inc. 500 two years in a row these last couple of years. What we do is we specialize in helping business owners, entrepreneurs, sales and marketing leaders to utilize LinkedIn to position their brands as leaders and experts in front of their target market. Build lasting relationships by doing things the right way, not taking shortcuts, not being what we call a leg humper, who connects with people on LinkedIn and then immediately send them a sales pitch, but building relationships with people.

 When growing a business, there's lots of ups and downs. It's not a straight line all the time to the magic Promised Land.

When growing a business, there’s lots of ups and downs. It’s not a straight line all the time to the magic Promised Land.

We found that when you do things the right way and you play the long game, you’re results are dramatically greater over time. That’s what we help our clients do so that they can have a consistent flow of appointments and leads coming in off of LinkedIn a week in and week out. We have an agency side of our company that we do that for people and then we have a training program called Linked University where we teach people how to do it themselves, so that’s pretty much it.

Clearly it wasn’t a straight path from birth to where you are. There were some challenges along the way. What are some of the things that you’ve drawn on particularly as you had to make this jump into entrepreneurship when you lost the job because the company went out of business? What are some of the things that you looked at to give you strength, to push you through, keep you staying persistent?

In those days, it was like a survival mode mentality where you have to be laser-focused on the goal. That was a very traumatic experience with the company closing in 2009. A lot of great people lost their jobs. There was a lot more that went on that I won’t get into that was very traumatic, but at that time, you can either wallow in it or you can push through it and stay focused on whatever your next step is and that’s what I chose to do. I had to be focused because at the time, I didn’t have a bunch of money in the bank. I started the business with $5,000 in my bank account and a couple of credit cards to work with. I didn’t have a huge runway, so I had no choice but to be laser-focused on what I need to be doing every single day to put myself in a position to get some clients signed. At the end of the day, that was my focus.

These days, it’s not a survival mode mentality as much for me, but when growing a business, there’s lots of ups and downs. It’s not a straight line all the time to the magic Promised Land. Sometimes it’s two steps forward, one step back. There’re two things that I find have been big for me. One is that I have to remind myself that where I’m at is where I’m supposed to be. What’s going on is what’s supposed to be happening. There’s no changing it and this the path I’m supposed to be on and all of these things that are happening are happening for a reason and are going to make me and make the company stronger in the long term.

The second thing that I have to do is I have to take care of myself. By that I mean I have to work out, I have to eat right, stay away from drinking too much or anything like that, live a clean lifestyle. I find that for me personally, if I don’t work out, if I’m eating poor, if I’m having a couple beers at night, the next day, my mindset is not where I need it to be. To be at a peak mental state so that I can be as sharp as I can possibly be, so that when negative things are happening or when things aren’t going exactly as planned, I have the energy and the strength and the fortitude to not let that effect me because my mind is sharp.

I’m energized, and I’ve got the ability to push through those things and have the clarity to see all of the great things that are happening even when there’s some negative things happening. We have a tendency as humans to focus on the negative. You can have so many great things happening, but then one little negative thing can happen that can put you in a terrible mood. I’m no different than anybody else when it comes to that stuff. I have to remind myself of all the amazing things that are happening in business and in life and get recentered when shit like that happens.

It’s so easy to focus on that negative stuff and get sucked down into it. I don’t think anybody is immune from that. The difference that you see in people is some people will spend a lot of time there and others will come out of that quickly. I’ll never forget, probably around 2009 or 2010 when things weren’t going so well for a lot of people. I was at a conference and Dan Kennedy was speaking and he said whatever’s happening in your world, that’s bad, that’s great. If you want to wallow in it, that’s fine, but schedule it. Put all your wallow and all that in this little box and give it about fifteen minutes and go in your room and cry about it. Then when the alarm goes off, the fifteen minutes is up, you’re done, get back to work. As funny as that is to say, there’s a lot of wisdom in that and being able to recover quickly.

You talked about exercise and diet and all that other stuff and you’re the first person I’ve interviewed over 40 people and had a similar conversation with, you’re the first person that’s mentioned the physical side of that. I think that’s critically important. Our energy is the resource that we have. That’s the one renewable thing that we go out and we create with. We use that energy to create in the world and to me, that’s the one most important thing to pay attention to, but it can be also the hardest to pay attention because it requires some discipline.

There’s a spectrum that you could be on of health. It’s from peak physical condition, totally tuned in, high energy, etc., to when you’re sick and you’re on the couch and you’re totally incapacitated. The last time I was at that bad end of the spectrum was I had sinus infection or something that I didn’t treat for a couple of weeks. It got way out of hand, I ended up on the couch for a week. In that state, my mindset was terrible. That experience taught me that mindset and health are very much correlated and to be able to run my company at the highest level, I need to pay attention to trying to stay healthy and keep my body at a level of being able to perform. I’m not perfect or anything, but I try and work out every morning. I try and eat right. I don’t punish myself too much. You got to have some fun every once in a while, but it is something that’s super important to me.

You have so much going on. You’ve had unbelievable growth in the last few years. What’s the big push now and what are you working towards at LinkedSelling?

We’re in a phase of focusing on the core things that are going to make the biggest impact for our business. Over the years of growing at a pretty good rate, you don’t get on the Inc. 500 without having a pretty significant growth. Along the ways, we’ve tried a lot of different things and tested different things and rolled out new programs and this and that. Over this last year, our biggest focus has been identifying the things that are moving the needle for us and focusing on those. If you’ve got too many things that are all your number one priority, none of them are going to get to the level or achieve the growth that they could if you were focused on one or a couple of them. That’s something that we’ve learned. For this year, we’ve got a three core programs that we’re putting all of our energy into.

I’ve learned a great lesson along the way in business that the ceiling for what we can achieve is so much higher than we think it is. When you surround yourself with other people who are doing big things, you hang out with people who are at the level that you want to get to, you start to realize that. That’s something I’ve realized over the last few years as I’ve seen our company grow to levels that when I was starting out a few you five years back, I didn’t have expectations that we would create a business that could get to this level. We have 39 people that we employ in our company and it’s an amazing thing. I look at our business and we’ve gotten to this certain level, but there’s still so much more potential out there. So many more people that haven’t even heard of our business that should, that we can help, and that’s what our focus is.

 Mindset and health are very much correlated.

Mindset and health are very much correlated.

Going through such rapid growth, how has that changed you or how has it forced you to change and grow? It’s very different starting off, doing a solo business where you started, and delivering all the services yourself and now you’re a CEO with a team and a lot of fast growth.

There’re a couple of things. One is that I spent a lot of my time in marketing and sales because I learned from businesses I was a part of that failed that if you’re not bringing in new prospects, if you don’t have a marketing system in place that’s going to continue to bring people through the door, you’re putting your business at risk because relying on word of mouth or referrals that come in happenstance. I know, Steve, you have systems for how to generate referrals on autopilot in a way that most businesses aren’t doing. The way most businesses sit around and wait for referrals to come in, word of mouth, etc., most small businesses, at least, that’s a recipe for disaster. I spend a lot of my time in sales and marketing to make sure that I don’t repeat that same mistake myself.

I would say the second thing that I’ve realized is that, in EMyth, they talk about the different roles that you have to play as an entrepreneur. I believe in your infancy when it was just me working by myself out of my house, I had to do all of those things. As the company grew a little bit, I realized that I can’t do all of those things and I have to surround myself with great people. We have an amazing leadership team at our company that’s allowed us to get to this level that there’s no way in hell we could’ve gotten to without them.

Probably the biggest, the most critical role that we have in our company is the role of COO, because if you’re going to be the CEO, you need somebody else who’s going to be the integrator as they call it in EMyth so that you can be the visionary and do all the different things CEOs are supposed to do. In our company that’s been critical. We have a very strong COO who is able to do the things within the company to keep the company moving, all of the operational things, client fulfillment, etc., so I can stay very focused on the other side of the business and working on the future where we’re going, new marketing strategies, and all that stuff. Those are some of the biggest lessons I’ve learned along the way.

Definitely, as you’re growing your business, you have to be ready for the challenge of changing, of how you’re showing up and what your responsibilities are in the business. I have to consciously work on things like tending to the culture of the company. It doesn’t come natural to me. I’m an ex‑finance guy. Things like culture and stuff like that are not second nature for me. It’s still a learning experience, but at the end of the day, I find that when we treat people right, a lot of that stuff takes care of itself.

The ability to find and select and bring in good people is such a multiplier in a business. It’s funny a lot of businesses completely ignore it as a real tool. They see employees as a cost, as a thing that they got to have them and it’s a necessary evil. I’ve always looked at it the other way. In my first business, we were much bigger in terms of size because of the service we were delivering. Having those key management roles, so that as the CEO, you can be out there and working on the future, is probably the key move that separates people who stay small from ones who grow. If you don’t make that move, if you can’t have somebody minding the shop while you’re out creating the future, it’s impossible to have a leg on each side of that fence. It’s too hard to do.

Absolutely especially if you’re running a marketing agency. We have a lot of common friends in the industry, Steve, and I hear from a lot of people often who hate the done-for-you model as it’s called by some people. There’re two things that most people don’t get right, which causes them to hate it is. One, what we just talked about. They don’t have that integrator, the person to take care of the operations side of that, and then two, they don’t have it systematized so that when clients come on, it’s a repeatable process. Those two things, you could say that about any business, but especially if you’re running a marketing agency. Doing client work can be tough.

Earlier this year, we launched a done-for-you service around our specialty and we did it out of necessity because the clients that we were working with, while they love the approach, struggled with doing the work, which is I’m sure what you found as well because it’s not their expertise. I started thinking back. My first business was in engineering and all of our clients hired us and we had clients for life, like 25 plus years, where we had a single client paying us every month for that entire time.

We had lots of clients that stayed. I call them clients for life. To get to that point, you’ve got to create a situation where you’re plugged into their business. The best way to do that is to deliver them a result again and again and again that they need. It’s one thing to show up and have ideas and advice and that’s all valuable, but if you can get yourself in a position where you’re delivering the result for them and you’re taking their headache off, it’s pretty hard for them to turn it off.

That’s absolutely what we’ve found. If you can find something that they know that would generate lots of value for them, but they don’t want to do the work, there’s probably a great business in there somewhere.

It’s like the dirty businesses philosophy. All kinds of very wealthy, very successful entrepreneurs who are doing the dirtiest of all businesses that most people wouldn’t want to touch, but they’re sitting back, smiling and laughing and carrying buckets of money to the bank every day. You got to get in and do the dirty work. Let’s talk a little bit about LinkedSelling and Linked University. I know you have focused some of the offerings going into 2018. If an audience is thinking, “I think LinkedIn is probably the place for me,” start with who’s the best fit to be marketing on LinkedIn and how should they get started? What approach should they be taking?

If you’re listening to this, you probably already know whether or not you should be doing it, but at the end of the day, if you can go on LinkedIn and you can do a search for the people that you want to be doing business with and you can find them there, then you need to be figuring out how to tap into that. The biggest problem that people come to us with is they see all these prospects sitting on LinkedIn that are the perfect fit to do business with and they’re not sure how to even start with approaching them. If you go on LinkedIn and you can’t find anybody that looks like a good fit for your business, then don’t do it. Otherwise, you probably should consider getting something going.

What do you do to start getting something going? How do you start putting the pieces in place? There’s a couple things that I would say. The first thing is to go back to what I said, have a clear picture of who you want to go after. If your criteria for who can be a good customer or client of yours is way too broad, then you’re going to struggle. The reason is because on LinkedIn, to break through, you need to be positioning yourself in a way to where the prospect is perfect for your services when they see your information come across the screen, when you reach out to connect with them, when they see the LinkedIn group that you’re the founder of.

 If your criteria for who can be a good customer or client of yours is way too broad, then you're going to struggle.

If your criteria for who can be a good customer or client of yours is way too broad, then you’re going to struggle.

They need to think that this person is speaking my language, so that they want to connect with you, so that they want to see the content that you’re putting out, so that they are incentivized to want to stay connected with you over the long haul, continue seeing that content, so that you can stay top of mind. When you start reaching out behind the scenes and start implementing some of the messaging strategies we teach, they are going to be open to having a conversation with you because you will have positioned yourself in an amazing way. That all starts with being very clear about who you’re going after. If you’re trying to go after all people, then you can’t create a message that’s compelling to any of them. That’s the foundation of where it all starts for us. Steve, I’m assuming you probably see that with a lot of your clients too, the most successful are laser-focused.

We go through this with every client and I’m sure you do too. They almost all come in with this broad definition of who they want to work with. I call it the heartbeat and wallet definition. They come in and say “W really good prospect for me is anybody that has a heartbeat and has a lot. If they can spend money and they’re alive, I want them.” That’s a little bit tongue in cheek, but it’s not far off of what most people come in with, but the instant you can get them focused, which is a difficult conversation to have, they speed up because focus gives you speed, it focuses all that energy on a target and it’s so much easier to get results.

The big fear we see with people is they come in thinking they have this big, broad, wide market and we’re telling them, “No, we want to narrow that down as much as we possibly can.” I’ve yet to find a market that’s too small. We haven’t been able to define one that’s too small yet. When you get focused, life becomes easier. You only have to have one message. It’s easy to figure out what the message is because you’re focused on such a tight group of people and stuff starts to work, but this fear of giving up all this other perceived opportunity that’s out there by narrowing gets in a lot of people’s way.

No doubt about it. There’s a number of ways you can go about doing that. We talk about a lot of those ways on the masterclass. We got a free workshop where we teach a lot of these strategies in depth, but there’re probably some audience who are thinking like, “That’s great. I’m focused. I’ve got my avatar. Now, what do I do?” What you need to be thinking about is how can you position yourself so that when you reach out to a prospect, they see you as somebody that’s going to be adding value to their world, a leader in your market. Somebody they will want to connect with and not somebody that’s going to start trying to sell them something.

The thing you want to avoid the most to put it plainly is when you reach out to somebody on LinkedIn, because that’s a big part of our strategy, is getting connected with people that don’t know who you are yet and then building a relationship with them. How do you get connected with them in the first place? How you don’t get connected with them is having your profile set up in a way where they see a red flag coming across the screen and they see somebody that looks like they’re going to start pitching and trying to sell on them.

 Connect with people that don't know who you are yet and then build a relationship with them.

Connect with people that don’t know who you are yet and then build a relationship with them.

What are some examples of that? In the IT space for example, LinkedIn is notorious for IT companies basically spamming people on LinkedIn. If you’re an IT company, you’re thinking, “How do I differentiate myself from this?” One of our clients is a guy named Tom Swip, and he targets and works with manufacturing companies. He builds ERP systems, the software development, all sorts of stuff for them. Instead of reaching out to them and positioning himself on LinkedIn as another IT, company, we helped him create a group on LinkedIn called Midwest Manufacturing Leaders, and because Tom’s headline on LinkedIn shows him as the founder of Midwest Manufacturing Leaders, when he reaches out to CEOs and CFOs of manufacturing companies, they are much more open to connecting with him.

The difference is 20% connection acceptance to 50%. It’s a massive increase as a result of this strategy. You can apply that thinking in market that you’re in. It comes back to having a philosophy of positioning yourself and putting content out there that is based on what your prospects care about and not constantly talking about what you do because the CEOs of manufacturing companies are not interested in immersing themselves in content about IT stuff. It’s like a small sliver of what they care about.

When Tom is sharing relevant content on LinkedIn and dripping out status updates and postings in LinkedIn groups, etc. on a variety of manufacturing topics, all these CEOs and CFOs of manufacturing companies that he’s connected to see value in this content, they see his name on a very regular basis. They see him as a leader in the space, and then when he works the messaging strategies that we teach to line up phone calls with them. It gets a very high percentage of people saying that they’re interested in having a conversation. At the end of the day, that’s what we do.

It’s a brilliant strategy. It’s one that we use. We’ve talked about it before. What I love about it is that it turns you into a good citizen on LinkedIn. You’re not one of these sleazy, creepy people that show up with an email that it’s clear they’re trying to sell you something. I get these connection requests all the time that the minute that you accept it, that person is pitching you on business. I had one the other day and I’m like, “Did you even read my profile?”

He referenced the fact that it’s great to meet somebody else from South Florida while I live like 400 miles away from South Florida. Read the profile and simple stuff like that. What we’ve seen with our lead flow through LinkedIn, and that’s one of the three big places that we drive leads, has been dramatically better because we’re reaching out and we’re being valuable to folks and we’re showing up in a way that says, “We’re an authority here,” and it’s dramatically different than what most people are doing.

How much business would you say that you’ve generated off of LinkedIn?

We’ve been doing this for two and a half years now, something like that. We’ve easily into the six figures and probably multiple six figures directly off of LinkedIn or maybe more than that. For awhile we were running ads, not following this process, but we were running ads in conjunction with the ads as well, probably another $300,000 or $400,000.

I should do an interview with you sometime and do a little case study on what you are doing.

It works well. Josh, where’s the best place for people to go? You mentioned a masterclass, where can they go and watch that?

If you go to, on the homepage there you’ll see a big picture that’s got an invitation to sign up for that free masterclass workshop. It is a three-hour workshop where we dive into three different strategies for getting some great results on LinkedIn. We start from ground zero all the way up to more advanced strategies for folks that are more experienced with LinkedIn. If you’re getting started, there’s a lot of great stuff in there for you to how to put the right foundation in place and get things rolling. That’s probably the best resources that I can point people to and I’d love to have anybody sign up for that that’s interested.

I recommend everybody to check it out. Of all the stuff that’s out there on LinkedIn, and there’s a lot of garbage out there, the stuff that I turn to again and again and that we send our clients to is Josh’s stuff. They’ve got a great process. Josh, thanks so much for being on. It’s been a pleasure to invest a little time with me and all this value.

I appreciate it, Steve. Great to be here.

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