Marketing is a system that business owners need to improve in order to make things easier, and strategy before tactics needs to be the foundation. John Jantsch has been teaching this concept to his clients at Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Group so they can figure out their ideal customer. He also uses content as the voice of strategy. Learn why his book SEO For Growth doesn’t talk about the technical aspects of SEO but rather the importance of it being in a strategic spot for marketing. Bryan Eisenberg understood the four pillars of being a customer-centered company, which led him to write Be Like Amazon. The book isn’t just about Amazon but how a business can become big in ecommerce.
This is a special show with two bestselling authors. I have John Jantsch and Bryan Eisenberg. Both of them have been extremely successful. John with his Duct Tape Marketing and all of his other books and all of his work that he does. Same with Bryan Eisenberg. He and his brother are Co-Founders of Buyer Legends. They write lots of very successful books that you’ve seen on the bestseller list on Wall Street Journal and New York Times. I am looking forward to talking to both of them.
Listen to the podcast here:
Duct Tape Marketing: A Systematic Approach To Scale with John Jantsch
I’m with John Jantsch, who’s a marketing consultant, speaker, and author of Duct Tape Marketing, Duct Tape Selling, The Commitment Engine, and The Referral Engine and the Founder of Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Group. His latest book, SEO for Growth: The Ultimate Guide for Marketers, Web Designers, and Entrepreneurs, is changing the way the world thinks about SEO. He created Duct Tape Marketing in 2002 to work with small business owners. What began as a methodology became a book, a course, and eventually a network of consultants around the world. It’s hard to think of anybody who hasn’t heard about Duct Tape Marketing or any of the Duct Tape books. It’s so nice to have you here. Welcome, John.
Thank you. Glad to be here.
I don’t know what it is like to get this level of success from your book. Did you expect it was going to be a big hit like this?
I knew that the world, for what I was wanting to write about, that marketing is a system that can be boiled down that way. There was a lot of hunger for that because I wrote the book after ten, twelve years of working with small business owners doing what I’d call duct tape marketing. I certainly knew there was a desire for people to get this comprehensive and systematic approach to marketing. The book itself certainly benefited from the fact that I had been writing online for a number of years and had built a pretty good-sized following just in the internet world.
What brought you to use duct tape? Was that always going to be the name for it?
I started my marketing consulting practice about 28 years ago, before we had the internet. I did traditional marketing consulting under my own name. I enjoyed working. I had three or four small business clients, and they were always my favorite. They were also the hardest to work with because they didn’t have any budget usually, very little resources and attention span. I decided, to solve that frustration and really allow myself to work with small business owners more fully, I needed to create a way where I could walk in and say, “Here’s what I’m going to do. Here’s what you’re going to do. Here’s the results we hope we get. Here’s what it costs,” essentially turning marketing services into a product. At that point, I said, “I need a name. I need a product or brand type of name.”The idea of Duct Tape Marketing is simple, effective, affordable. That metaphor really resonated with small business owners, particularly there seems to be the odd fondness for duct tape, at least in the United States.
In case there’s a person that has not become familiar with what Duct Tape Marketing is, can you just give a quick synopsis?
It starts with marketing as a system, and if you install a marketing system, marketing gets easier. It is built on a foundation of strategy before tactics, meaning that we figured out who our ideal customer is and what our unique point of difference is before we ever decide how we’re going to attract them. We use content as the voice of that strategy, not just as another tactic. That content is built in a way to guide people along what I call the marketing hourglass, which is essentially the customer journey, which is really the way people buy.
Listening to the options of what people have for marketing compared to that timeframe, does it blow your mind of all the choices and options that people have to decide of how to get their brand out there?
When I started this business, we had five or six places where you could go to get exposure. At present, I routinely talk about sixteen channels that you have to at least be analyzing as a place to play. For people like me, it’s exciting. I like the new stuff. For a lot of business owners, it’s actually very frustrating because they have a lot of stress and pressure about, “Do I need to be on Snapchat?” There’s a lot of pressure about that. It’s great that we have these choices. We have this direct access to our end user. It really requires that we’re more focused than ever in our marketing. It’s very easy to get fragmented and try to do a little bit of everything and not get any momentum. I spend a lot of my time coaching business owners on finding the three or four channels that matter to them. Maybe at some point, we’ll look at other ones, but for the most part, we’re going to focus all of our energy on the ones that are going to have the highest pay off.
One of my last things I did when I was the MBA Program Chair at Forbes was to write a brand publishing course at the Forbes School of Business. It was so complicated to pick what to put into this course because the options are staggering. Everybody’s wanting to pick the easy way to make sure you’re reaching people in a personalized way, but scaled is when it becomes problematic.
The fact is there is no easy way. They look easy like, “Go on Facebook and splatter a bunch of stuff. That’s easy.” That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s effective.
I’m curious about your new book, SEO for Growth: The Ultimate Guide for Marketers, Web Designers, and Entrepreneurs. Can you tell me a little bit about that one?
I didn’t go into that to write a book about all the technical aspects of SEO. If you are an SEO pro out there, there might not be a whole lot in this book that you’ll think is new. What I am seeing a lot of is people talking about SEO being dead and relegating it to this technical tactic. We use the word “growth” intentionally in the title because growth is a strategic word. My whole goal in this book was to get marketers and entrepreneurs to wake up, and web designers particularly, because they’re some of the worst culprits in terms of causing holes for SEO, to wake up and understand, “SEO needs to get a place at the strategic table.”If we’re going to start designing our marketing plan, redesigning our web site, or coming up with any campaign, SEO needs to be one of the primary things that we consider. Not the only thing, but certainly one of the foundational elements. You don’t get a web design and then you get a bunch of content and then you go SEO it all. It has to be a forethought as opposed to an afterthought.
They change every day. You think you’ve figured it out and then something changes and it’s so frustrating. Is it hard to keep a book like this up to date? Are you going to have to keep rewriting it?
There certainly are elements, but here’s the thing that’s never changed. Google’s objective. Google’s objective is that when somebody turns to a search engine and types in a phrase, that they are going to instantly get useful, relevant, authoritative content. That has never, ever changed. How good they are at measuring what is useful and great content, that’s changed, but their goal has never changed. If you go into all of your SEO efforts with that intent of producing useful authoritative content, there are a lot of things you can do to make sure that Google knows what that content is and there’s a lot of things you can do to network to get other people to say, “Yes, that is great content,” and to share it with their networks, that’s where people go wrong. They think SEO is about tricking Google or about using this technique or this under the hood thing that nobody knows about. It really isn’t. It’s about creating useful, valuable content and getting it shared.
You get so much notice out there with your blog. Everybody’s saying you’re the place to go and to listen to. How did you get so much attention? Was it initially from the books? Are you continuing to blog? Where do you stand with that right now?
The bad news is you just have to do this a lot for a really long time. I wrote my 4,500th blog post to date. I’ll be the first to admit, I hit this at the right time from an online standpoint. I had my business before we had online. I saw online was going to be important. It certainly was a way for me to expand my business beyond my community. I jumped on it for a lot of those reasons. When blogs came around in 2002-ish or so, I was already submitting articles to Ezine Directory. The blogging thing, it wasn’t like I went, “This is the next big thing.” It was like, “I’m already doing this. This looks like it’ll make it easier.”I’ll be the first to admit that was a stroke of luck, but what was not luck was that I said, “I’m going to do this and I’m going to do it every day. I don’t care if there are other people saying this blogging thing is stupid.”Two or three years later, those people were saying, “I wish I’d started my blog then, too.”If I were going to start a marketing-related blog today, I would have to think long and hard about how to get any traction starting from scratch. I was a couple of thousand blog posts probably in before a lot of people started.
I have a lot of people ask me the same question about. Should they post an article on their blog first? Say their customers are all on LinkedIn. Are they better off to write within LinkedIn, or just have it the same exact article on both and it doesn’t matter anymore for SEO? What do you think on that?
You always want to have your best content on your site. You own that, you will always own that. You definitely want to focus on that. I hear people talking about, “Why don’t I just put it all on Facebook? That’s where everybody is.” One day, Facebook will wake up and say, “We don’t want to show that to anybody anymore.” Putting it on LinkedIn if you have a lot of customers there, there’s nothing wrong with doing that. For a lot of people getting started, we will tell them, “If you’re going to write a blog post, in a month write two for your own site, and write two that you shop around and try to get on somebody else’s site.” Getting links back to your site and getting maybe some traffic and some viewers from somebody who has already built an audience is really important. It works from an SEO standpoint, it works from a traffic standpoint, it works from an exposure standpoint. That can be a really valuable thing to do as well. If you’re writing four great blog posts every month and there’s not very many people seeing it, you’re not going to feel like you want to stick with it.
It’s important to have an online presence in the market. A lot of people don’t know which online platform to use. Do you say stick with the platform where your customers are, or do you think you should spread it out?
If you’ve got a full staff and you can make it rain everywhere, then do it. If you say, “I’m only going to be able to spend x amount of time,” then you certainly want to prioritize. Where your customers hang out is a great way to prioritize. There’s another element that particularly solopreneurs and people with small staffs, what I like to advise is, “Which one of the platforms do you enjoy? Do you personally like to participate in this? Does it seem to work for you the way that it’s set up?”Somebody is like, “I hate LinkedIn, but that’s where all my customers are.”They’re not going to make it work for them. If you love Instagram Stories, then go for it. Go deep and find a way to make it pay. Regardless of your B2B or B2C, your customers are there in some level. It may be harder for you to engage them, but that element of enjoyment is going to have to be there or you just won’t stick with it.
Are there any platforms that you were surprised by their success? Are there anything that you’re just like, “I want to call that?”
I still think that one of the sleepers is Pinterest. When I look at the Google Analytics of some of my clients, I see a lot of traffic coming in from Pinterest for those folks that have stayed pretty active there. If you’re in a visual type of business, you’re in a collecting business, it makes perfect sense. I know a modeling contractor that I’ve worked with, they get a significant amount of traffic from Pinterest by putting some of their jobs and things up there.
Do you use Pinterest at all for your stuff?
I have a presence there. I’m not very active. For my own business, the platform that I spend the most time on is probably Facebook. A lot of that’s because it’s worked for small businesses. It’s one of the best advertising bodies out there. We spend a significant amount of time of putting our clients on Facebook and running Facebook ad campaigns for them, and so consequently I find myself accessing it more. I don’t know that I find myself enjoying social media anymore. I certainly did from participation standpoint. I was on Twitter in 2005 when it launched at South by Southwest and it was all exciting. I’m pretty bored with it and there are a couple of very tactical ways to use it, but I don’t find myself using it as a way to engage people like I used to.
What do you think about phones, using devices like that in the future? Do you think that’s where everybody’s going to do real quick small investments?
The whole idea of where everybody said, ”Let’s go build these big followings and then blast our stuff on Facebook. If people will come in, we will come in.”A lot of that has worn people out. There are certainly people that that’s where they get their enjoyment. A lot of that’s what maybe bored me with it. There are three or four groups on Facebook that I participate in. That’s where the value is because it wasn’t the fact that somebody followed me or I followed them, it was more people came here because they have like interests or because they were in a certain industry. I see a lot of activity in groups that are curated. That’s where the value in a lot of social networks has gone. I also see some potential and I know people that do this. Instead of turning to Google and searching for whatever it is they’re looking for, I see people really turning into to Facebook as an option to search their networks for recommendations, even content that other people are sharing. Facebook is going to get around to figuring out how to tap into search as an advertising vehicle as well.
Are you surprised they haven’t done more with that?
I am a little bit. What they’re doing is they’re rolling out advertising in the places that are very easy for them to do, like the news stream. I think you’re going to start seeing advertising in the messaging. Certainly, they’re setting it up to put it in the Live video now. I do think that search will be the last frontier.
Every year, something comes up and I think, “I hadn’t thought about that one.”Did you use to have an AM radio show? What was that about?
It’s the same thing that I do on my podcast. From about 2000 or so to 2004, I did a weekly radio show. It was mostly a call-in interview show. I didn’t have guests in the studio. It was very local. It was people that were doing things in marketing and online and authors, people that I wanted to talk to. A lot of people want to be on the radio so it was easy to get access to folks. When podcasting came along, I really felt like there were few people listening to that particular station. It didn’t have very strong signal at all, so I thought, “I’m going to control this myself.”I moved the format and advertisers and everything directly to my show because at that time I definitely had a bigger mailing list to promote my shows than I think the station did. I’ve been podcasting now on a weekly basis since 2005, and I went over my 600th episode.
It’s interesting to see your success. Being on Wikipedia, when did that happen for you? When you first see that you’re on Wikipedia, did you feel like you’ve made it?
Getting on Wikipedia is not that hard. Staying on Wikipedia is harder. It is community-driven. You get that bestselling author list and you get an article written about you in Business Week and the Washington Post and New York Times. They have a category for authors. It’s a little easier for people that have that to draw from. It’s not my business that’s on there, it’s me as an author.
You’ve written for Wall Street Journal, New York Times, CNN Money. Do you prefer to write for your own sake or do you like working with other places like that? Is there any difference or is it all the same?
I like writing my own content because I can pretty much be as personal as I want, and I can do whatever I want. I do know the value in being seen in some of those other places. Forbes early on picked my blog as one of their favorites for marketing and small business when they were giving out awards. There’s no question that that legitimized my brand. I certainly get the value of that. Those are great links back to you. Somebody is Googling you and they find Entrepreneur and Inc. Magazine articles that you’ve written that just adds another layer of credibility and authority.
I’ve had a lot of Forbes contributors and different people on my show. It does add quite a bit. Do you have more books that you’re going to come out with? What’s the next thing for you?
I’m still writing my last book. Anybody who’s done a book, the work is not over once you have written the book. It’s just as much work to promote it. There’s a lot more competition now than there was when I wrote my first book in terms of people writing books and places that books can be promoted. After my last book, it felt like I’ve got three more titles and I’m waiting to put them out there. I’ve written a lot of words. When Duct Tape Marketing came along, I spent twenty years or so of getting ready to write that book, and then it’s been eighteen months on subsequent books. I don’t want to write a book just to write a book. I want to be jazzed about an idea. My publisher wants me to write another book.
If anybody’s listening that wants to be you, what advice would you give them of what you’ve learned in your experience of how you got to where you are? If you had 60 seconds to teach them how to be successful, what would you tell them?
The biggest thing is that I stuck with a point of view that was different than so many other people were saying. I went after a market, small business owners, which at the time, people weren’t really that interested in. Now everybody wants to go into that market. Having a point of view, having a narrow market focus, and then just stick with it. I got a lot of validation that I was onto something, and so that makes it easier to stick with it. A lot of people want to be the authority or the expert or the influencer, and so they jump into a platform and say, “I’m the expert in X.” What you want to do is be the expert in a market and not in a platform.
Do you have a website or contact information you want to share?
The easiest way to find me is just DuctTapeMarketing.com. Got a newsletter and my blog and you can find my podcast there and thousands and thousands of articles and eBooks. It’s all there for free. I also have another place. If you are a consultant or a small agency, you want to find out about our network of independent marketing consultants, that’s just at DuctTapeMarketingConsultant.com. We have 115 marketing agencies that partner with us and using the Duct Tape Marketing methodology and our tools and helping each other collaborate and scale the practices.
It has been really great having you on my show. I’m really honored that you’ve joined us.
It was my pleasure. Thanks so much for having me.
Duct Tape Marketing: A Systematic Approach To Scale with Bryan Eisenberg
I am with Bryan Eisenberg, the Co-Founder of Buyer Legends. He’s also the co-author of The Wall Street Journal and New York Times bestselling books Call to Action, Waiting for Your Cat to Bark?, Always Be Testing, and Buyer Legends: The Executive Storyteller’s Guide. Bryan is a recognized authority and pioneer in improving online customer experiences, conversion rates, persuasion architecture, and persona marketing. You’ve done an amazing amount of work. It’s so nice to have you here.
I’m excited to be here. Thank you so much.
I never noticed the question mark before on your book. It’s a great name for a book though, I love it. What made you come up with that?
That’s the one book that I’ve got to tell you, we had a title before we had a subject. We have three publishers competing for the advance to buy that book from us. They love the title so much. We had to retrofit it to make it make sense, to come up with the story. Luckily the book ended up a number one Wall Street Journal bestseller.
If they haven’t read it, can you give a little synopsis?
The key part of that book, and this was going back 2006, was how the customer is in control of the experience. Here we are now and we’re seeing how much customers can control a brand and experience. We just have to look at United and the citizens videotaping the circumstances to see how much of an impact customers have. The old concept of branding based on Pavlov’s methods of ringing the bell and customers will respond is not going to happen anymore. The customers are really more fickle-like cats, and they were going to react when it’s relevant to them, when they care to come up.
You write with your brother, correct?
I do. We’ve been business partners for over twenty years.
Do you have other siblings or is it just the two of you?
We could have used one more, at least one of us is really organized and detailed-oriented. It really would’ve made our lives a lot easier. I personally have three kids. If they ever get into business together, they’ll perfectly compliment all the skills.
It’s fun to write when you’re close to each other. Did you have any issues with that? Who takes control over what?
No, we’ve never really had any conflicts related to the business side in all our years. We are a strong, Brooklyn-born personality. We’ll get loud a little bit, but we bounce it off and we figure out what makes sense and then make it work.
Your first book was Call to Action, correct?
Our first book was called Persuasive Online Copywriting. We did a little eBook before that was widely successful. We did Persuasive Online Copywriting, which is this little self- published book that we did in 2001. Call to Action was our first real big book. We got lucky that also became a New York Times bestselling book, thanks to Seth Godin who decided to write a blog post called Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover. He went on to tell about how horrible our cover was, but that you should drop everything you’re doing and buy the book, and people did. That put us right away on The New York Times list.
What put you on his radar to begin with? Was the cover that bad that it just grabbed his attention?
People can certainly Google it. It was this mythical Egyptian eagle on there. Part of what happened actually with that book is that we had a commitment from a company to buy 5,000 copies of it. We were self-publishing this book and that was a big commitment. They just wanted it ready in time for their road show. We’re like, “Okay.” That cut the time period by three or four weeks. We had no time to come up with ideas for the cover. We thought, “Let’s go opt for something crazy.” It paid off.
It’s amazing one thing like that that could change everything for you. There are probably some great books out there that people don’t ever notice. To get the attention of somebody so famous as Seth, I’m sure that was a quite the coup.
It was definitely a big change. We’re working on book number six. It’s got released as a Kindle, and it’ll be coming out as a hardcover and audio book and in various translations as well. We have a Spanish translation in the works.
Is that the Brand Like Amazon book?
It’s Be Like Amazon. It started out as Brand Like Amazon, but as people started commenting on it and we had a couple of friends as well who said, “It’s much bigger than just a branding book. Don’t limit yourself.” One of our friends said, “Think about going back to the Michael Jordan campaign and everyone wants to Be Like Mike.” We said, “Why don’t we make it Be Like Amazon?” It seems to fit well. Be like Amazon, even a lemonade stand can do it.
What kinds of things can we learn from Be Like Amazon? What are the main things you can point out from your book?
The fun part of the book is that we don’t spend a lot of time necessarily talking about Amazon, but we talk about businesses such as some jewelers and 1-800-GOT-JUNK? and HVAC, all kinds of businesses that were telling their stories inside the book. The primary thing is if we look at Amazon, it’s become such a dominant player in e-commerce. You think of buying online, you think of Amazon. Over 50% of people, when they start their product, they just go straight to Amazon. 43% of every dollar spent in the US goes to Amazon.
They’ve become dominant not only in e-commerce, but also in their web services. They’re one of the fastest growing companies ever to get$10 billion in sales on web services. They’re also obviously producing Academy Award-winning films and shows. They’re doing such amazing things. Jeff Bezos is also applying some of the same thinking to the Washington Post and turned it from almost bankrupt newspaper to a profitable newspaper. There’s something about the way he runs his company, what we call Amazon’s Four Pillars, that transformed the way you think about business. It’s not something revolutionary because the four pillars have been around companies with GE Healthcare that had been basically running off the similar concepts, but the way they’ve put it together and executed as the world’s oldest startup. It’s not only for business person, but even as an individual, how you always have to be on the move and inventive and authentic and focusing on what you believe.
The four pillars are what?
The four pillars are being customer-centric. They take it to the extreme. They’re customer-obsessive. They’re always worried about, “How can I get products to you faster, cheaper, more reliable, and give you more of a selection?” That’s never going to change for a customer. It is a continuous optimization. They optimize everything, from the type of paper they use to close your boxes, to their marketing, to operations, to finance. They’re always looking to see how they can be very frugal but improve things and still add value to the customer as they’re optimizing things. The whole concept of using robots is, “How can I get packages in and out with less errors faster using robots?” They also have a culture of innovation. They’re always trying to come up with new things. I’m careful to say it. Alexa, that was an experiment that they came out with. Now it’s become such a popular tool in the house. This past year, the CES got 7,000 different skills that it got learned that it’s starting to get embedded into cars and electronics. It’s definitely a huge thing. They had a telephone that failed. That’s okay, they don’t mind. They learned from all those failures. Lastly, they’re the world’s oldest startup because they’re just great at execution. Their corporate agility is second to none. They work in very small teams and they’re always doing things.
How did you learn about all of these?
I’ve been in the online industry for over twenty years and I’ve been watching what they did. I was not a big fan boy in their early days. In fact, it probably wasn’t until about 2003 or 2004 where I started saying, “They’re doing some serious things.” In 2004, a friend of mine who now left the company did a presentation at one of our conferences about Amazon. He talked about how they were doing 200 tests a day and some of the innovative things that they were doing back then. I kept following. I’ve had friends who worked for them and then left back and forth and always put together lots of nuggets and researched about what Jeff Bezos shares. In fact, if you go ahead and you scan his shareholder letters, you could put together pieces of the book. I wouldn’t tell you how to do it. This past year, the one he just released, he talks about the value of innovation and artificial intelligence and using data and customer centricity. A couple of years ago, he talked about how much they spend on innovation and experimentation. If you go back to 1995, he talked about why you have to focus on customer over the long-term. He never deviated, and he’s laid it out. I’ve just tried to put together the pieces for people so that they can actually put it to their own use, as opposed to just trying to figure out how Amazon is slaying it.
Did you talk to him for this book, or is this something you’re doing outside on your own?
This is something I’m doing on my own. I tried connecting through some friends who still work at Amazon. He won’t endorse any book because he gets too many requests. From what I understand, and I haven’t heard of any major typos in the book yet, I’m pretty confident that he’ll probably enjoy it. We know that for example, if you go into a meeting with him with one of the documents or one of the cool things he does with all the executives, if an executive left off a comma, he’ll actually throw the document out. It’s not that he’s trying to be mean, but he’s saying, “If you neglected a comma, what else did you neglect inside the details of the report.” It’s an interesting perspective. I’m hoping I don’t have any major typos in there, but hopefully, it’ll get across his desk and he’ll enjoy the book.
That’s interesting that you’ve focused on such a successful company. It’s just so fascinating to me to see how these companies are so successful. I’m so used to the older companies and to compare how they do things, they just keep changing and reinventing themselves. They still have certain things that are just forever solid and they stick to. What do you do with Future Now? That’s your company, right?
No, that was our agency for many years. We haven’t been there for eight years. It’s just my brother and ourselves. We work at Buyer Legends. We spent a little over two years working with folks at one of the largest search engines in the world. One of the people who were working with on the team there said that, “One of the things that makes it so difficult for any outside person that’s ever come home from work with Google, the outside consultants, is they don’t understand that working at Google is like working on quicksand.” Everything’s always evolving. There’s nothing set in stone. That’s a true perspective on the way business has shaped up over the last decade. Since we published Waiting for Your Cat to Bark, Facebook was just getting started. There was no Instagram. Twitter just had a small little niche thing going on there. If you look at how much more controlled the customers have, what’s going on in terms of branding, Jeff Bezos really articulate the well. He said he never worries about what’s going to change. He worries about what’s going to stay constant. If you look at these four pillars, it’s the only way you can manage an organization to scale at this point. That’s what we’re brought in to do now. We’re working directly with CEOs of companies and their Chief Operating Officers to help them get this thinking into the organization. It’s getting harder and harder to grow the scale and have the same impact you had as a smaller entrepreneur. Even if you’re a lemonade stand, you can leverage the same four pillars to start getting the growth going. That’s the critical component. That’s the one thing Jeff Bezos is right on. He’s got a particular style, which is what these little narratives that he has his team share that makes them operate so efficiently, just trying to help other companies a duplicate that.
You mentioned the word or the phrase scale several times, and that’s such an important thing. Everybody has the certain abilities when the companies are small and they don’t have that database of who they’re trying to reach. When things go to this massive scale, that’s when it becomes so complicated for people. I was looking at some of the companies that you’ve worked with, there’s WebEx, Overstock, Dell. You have some very big companies. Have they emulated Amazon?
Some companies have been much better at developing those cultures and growth and innovation. Overstock has some similarities with Amazon but haven’t achieved the same scale that Amazon has. There are certain cultural issues. Patrick Byrne, the CEO, is an incredible visionary, but what happens in a lot of organizations as you start growing up, they try to grow and they start adding layers of management. Everyone developed static processes and algorithms and rules and regulations for how things are done. You managed to complacency as opposed to innovation. It plagues so many organizations. At the end of the day, what happened to United is exactly that. They had an algorithm. They said this is where we’re going to compute the value of the customers. This is the lowest one and we’re only going to give this much value for them to come off, “You didn’t comply, so now we have to do this.” It just empowers anybody to think as a customer, as a human, and say, “The circumstances don’t make sense.” Management and algorithms have stripped that away. Middle management, that career path that people used to dream of, will disappear over the next two decades or so.
What will we see in place of that?
We’re going to see more agile organizations. We’re going to see them be smaller teams that operate independently, that have their own metrics. A big part of it is the reason you need management is because you needed supervision. The data is what allows you to do supervision. I can get data on almost everything in real time.
Won’t you think you need a team leader that somehow it turns into the management again, or not?
You don’t have tons of emails and VCs and protecting ourselves in meetings, fifteen stand up meetings a week. That all needs to disappear in order to actually be doing stuff. When you have a team that only two slices of pizza can feed, you figure sixteen slices, minimum of two slices a person, so eight people max, you’re all talking to each other, you’re seeing each other, you’re communicating with each other. One of my favorite examples of this is if you look at something at a company like 1-800-GOT-JUNK? Every morning, they do big huddle with all the teams where everybody just communicating in one room. People who are outside of the corporate office or community is in and everybody shares. There’s real communication, as opposed to, “Did you see this? I’m just topping you because I want you to know.” Think about how much time, all those pickup, if you strip all that away, how much more productivity do we have?
You said they do it every day?
They do a huddle every day.
How long do they spend it doing that?
It’s about fifteen minutes.
How many people would be in this huddle, for example? How can you get everybody’s message or how do you know who’s speaking? Are there people that speak more than everybody else?
Every meeting, there’s a different leader who takes it for that one who starts it off and that’s how it goes there. There’s a whole structure too. It’s not our thing, but one of the things that they do. It’s fascinating to see as part of their culture and how that’s helped them grow to where they are today. They’ll be close to a billion-dollar company shortly.
Everybody has a different little outlook on how much you should meet and how much updating required. I’ve been in teams where they update every week and it is just people all talking at each other and nobody’s really communicating. How do you get past that?
The first thing is everyone has to be aligned on goals. The problem is this whole concept of marketing attribution kills teams because you’re like, ”We’re only going to give credit to this one for that and this one for this thing.”We have one goal. Our one goal is to make our customers delighted. How do we all work together towards that? How do you align people with typically marketing and sales and IT, and how vastly removed those usually are from their goals? When you start changing what their responsibilities are and what their metrics are and how they all work together, it really changes the whole scope of your business. It just comes back to the data. Everyone’s got to be aligned towards the same metrics.
How much resistance might you find when you try to help people that have done things one way forever? You come in and you’re trying to help them. Is it a quite a process or are they pretty open?
It’s a process. It is not something that happens overnight. Eight years ago, I also went on a weight loss journey. I lost over a hundred pounds after we left our agency. I was 277 pounds on my 6-foot frame. I was able to get myself down in fifteen months to 172 pounds. I said, “The secret to losing weight is one pound at a time.” It’s the same thing as eating an elephant, it’s one bite at a time. This change happens one piece at a time, one campaign at a time. You slowly start building up into the culture. It’s not going to happen overnight unless you’re a small organization and then you can start. That’s why we’re asking lemonade stands to get started with this because it’s way easier when you’re small to bring in. We’ve had companies that we’ve worked with when they were first startup to where they are now, Inc. 500 companies. Their cultures are amazing because they’ve already been thinking this way for so long.
Culture is such a big topic and everybody’s starting to do emotional intelligence, emotional quotient. They’re doing cultural intelligence for cultural quotient. It’s not just the company culture, but how they work with other cultures. Culture combines a couple of different areas. How do you measure a company’s culture or even quantify it at all?
One of the key things is culture needs to be defined by everyone’s beliefs. Beliefs turn into actions. When everyone’s aligned on your beliefs, even if they have different personalities, even if they have different EQs, IQs, point of view doesn’t really matter. If everybody is aligned towards the same beliefs, you can have a culture that works together.
One of my favorite examples of this is REI. We’ve seen what a great job they’ve done over the last few years where. Black Fridays are off because they believe that people should spend time outdoors and with their families. Everybody is passionate about those same core values. One of my favorite presentations of all time is when Steve Jobs gets back into Apple and he’s sharing the Crazy Ones campaign. He talked about a company’s core values and how important they are. That’s when he talks about who Apple’s customers are and we’re not about making black box better. We want to support the crazy one and that’s what the company was based on. I don’t know if that same vision is there for the company if they’re not just hiring for talent and for those values. Maybe that’s why they’re struggling a little bit to get those next products out.
All these companies that you work with are all very successful. A lot of people would like to know more. I know you help companies and you’ve written all these books with your brother and you have this great company. How can people find out more of what you can do to help them?
First, they can start at the Be Like Amazon, it’s BeLikeAmazon.com. They can get a copy of the book for free, if they’re willing to subscribe and wait for it to come chapter by chapter. We’re happy to give away a copy of the book. It’s available on Kindle and it will be available in hardcover and audio book, but also at BuyerLegends.com and BryanEisenberg.com. I’m very easy to find online. I’m happy to connect with anybody on LinkedIn, on Twitter. We work with everything, from middle-sized companies that some of those companies that you mentioned that everybody knows.
Thank you. It’s been so nice to have you on the show. I hope someday we’ll get you back.
Absolutely. Hopefully we can connect in person sometimes as well.
That would be great. Thank you.
About John Jantsch
John Jantsch is a marketing consultant, speaker and author of Duct Tape Marketing, Duct Tape Selling, The Commitment Engine and The Referral Engine and the founder of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network. His latest book, SEO for Growth – The Ultimate Guide for Marketers, Web Designers, and Entrepreneurs, is changing the way the world thinks about SEO. He created Duct Tape Marketing in 2002 to work with small business owners. What began as a methodology became a book, course and eventually network of consultants around the world.
About Bryan Eisenberg
Bryan Eisenberg the co-founder of BuyerLegends and is the co-author of the Wall Street Journal & New York Times bestselling books “Call to Action”, “Waiting For Your Cat to Bark?”, “Always Be Testing” and “Buyer Legends: The Executive Storytellers Guide”. Bryan Eisenberg is the recognized authority & pioneer in improving online customer experiences, conversion rates, Persuasion Architecture, and persona marketing. Bryan has been featured expert by The Wall Street Journal and the The New York Times. In 1998, Bryan co-founded FutureNow Inc., the company has been helping businesses generate more engagements, leads, subscriptions, and sales with its unique framework he helped develop, Persuasion Architecture®. Bryan’s proudest professional accomplishments are the thousands of companies, students and clients, including Google, Marketo, HP, NBC Universal, GE, WebEx, Overstock and Dell, that have consistently enjoyed dramatic improvement in sales.
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