Is content realty the king in this age of information that can be consumed from social media? CEO of Top Rank Marketing Lee Odden believes that the audience is the key to content marketing tactics. You have to understand how your audience will consume the information that you are offering. Lee shares the importance of re-purposing content that leads to consistency and personalization. Dan Kuschell grew up seeing his dad always tinkering with auto parts. This gave him the ability to connect the dots, whether for cars or business. He has built his own company that helps businesses with their strategic growth. Learn the problems that he helps solve for potential business owners and how they can make a better impact and contribution to their industry.
We’ve got Lee Odden and Dan Kuschell. You may know Lee from his online marketing blog which won the TopRank Marketing Blog three times by Content Marketing Institute. He’s also the CEO of TopRank Marketing. We also have Dan Kuschell who, in addition to Joe Polish and the Genius Network, has his own company where he helps entrepreneurs be successful. He had a life changing event that he’s going to share. We’ll find out how both of these men became such successes.
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Learning Content Marketing Tactics And Strategic Business Growth with Lee Odden
I am with Lee Odden who’s the CEO of TopRank Marketing, a digital marketing agency that provides integrated and optimized content, social media, and influencer marketing programs for companies like McKesson, LinkedIn, and Dell. A respected consultant and author of the book Optimize, Lee has been cited by The Economist, The Wall Street Journal, and Forbes for his expertise which he also shares giving presentations all over the world. For over ten years, Lee has published TopRank’s Online Marketing Blog, the only blog ranked number one content marketing blog three times by Content Marketing Institute. It’s so nice to have you here.
It’s great to be here.
I’m very interested in what you do because I have created some content for the Forbes School of Business and other areas where we did brand publishing and different things through Forbes’ work with the Publish or Perish Report from Bruce Rogers. I like that you said, “Content isn’t king, it’s the kingdom,” because we hear so much about content being the king. Tell me how you got to this point. Give me a little background of how you became CEO of this.
I was wondering aimlessly in a sales position many years ago and found myself working for the internet company that was providing templated website solutions to companies and vertical markets in ’97. started teaching myself how to get traffic to these websites. That developed my skills at web development and SEO and things of that nature. The owner of the company let me do what I wanted and I was selling websites and making them and marketing them. Once I had some confidence, I went out on my own. Shortly afterwards, I joined forces with my current business partner, Susan Misukanis, who’ve started the public relations firm in 2001.
I was the digital guy and we were pitching good sized companies on how public relations, media relations, and media placements could be augmented with a poll or PR strategy by optimizing content for journalists that were covering industry categories, certain companies, and certain issues to make it really easy for them to find story sources to search. This is something very unique in 2001 and we’re able to win some pretty big gigs that way. Fast forward, we switched roles. She started as the CEO, but after a little while the digital stuff took over and the company changed and adapted. I became the CEO and we changed the name of the PR firm to TopRank Marketing. Currently, we work with companies like SAP, LinkedIn, Dell, McKesson which is like a Fortune 5 or 10 company, and then lots of big market companies like BMC Software, Quick Software, and companies like that.
One of the things that I found was that it was so overwhelming to people to create content and reach people with a personalized message at scale. They did okay when they were smaller companies and there weren’t so many vendors and there weren’t so many things that needed to talk to one another in terms of systems, but it got to be so complicated. We keep saying we need to have effective content. How do we get that to be engaging content when it’s got to be at scale?
There’s a lot of different models operationally that help solve that problem. It depends on the structure of the organization. There’s a home office marketing entity, like corporates, that may produce broad-based content assets which are then supply to the regions. The answer in part is data and a modular content approach, modular content planning. This is very template-driven. It’s sympathetic to the audience in different regions. The editorial plan or the content plan is structured such that there are universal truths that corporate can contribute to creating that are distributed broadly and executed broadly. There are customizations that are made for either distinct target audiences or distinct pinpoints and stage-of-the-line cycle or even two distinct regions that are filled in by the local entity, whatever that may be, so product marketing manager, if that’s what it is, or regional if you’re in APAC or Europe. It’s a big question. It’s a big problem we’re talking about and my answer’s a bit broad. Fundamentally, that’s the thing that I’ve seen that’s worked at scale. You apply the universal truths when you can about what solutions are being offered relevant to a particular target audience from a content creation standpoint.
The modular approach allows for swapping out or replacing things or adding things that make sense what that offer customize and personalize. I’d like to pick on Dun & Bradstreet as a great example where technology is a big part of the solution. They’re a 135-year-old company so a definition of legacy. They brought in a new CMO, Rishi Dave. He was tasked with lots of different things, digital transformation relative to marketing. One of the things they did with their website was firming up those twelve different customer segments. They’ve created twelve versions of their homepage and they’re using a combination of web data, behavioral data, deterministic data to customize the experience people have when they come in, based on where they come in. There’s a somewhat personalized experience far more than most other companies, so you will get a unique homepage. The other thing that they do is because they are employing account-based marketing that help these companies and accounts that they’re after, when people visit their website from those main accounts, they’ve created unique paths for those experiences. Those individuals get custom URLs and custom experiences that, if they fill out any forms, follow them all the way through the nurturing with the marketing automation system. That is a very personalized upscale because technology’s being used to present the content.
A lot of people maybe aren’t worried so much about that scale so much as coming up with content, too. You talked about repurposing. I loved your discussion about Jay Baer and some other names. You pointed out how they take one item and make it into multiple things. Can you talk about that a little bit?
The fundamental reason to repurpose is out of efficiency. That’s what a lot of people are focused on. Let’s say I’m a B2B marketer. I create this eBook that answers a bunch of key questions buyers have and it has sections. I can breakout those sections in the blog posts. I can animate them with motion graphic. I can create infographics. I can use quotes from the eBook and newsletters and blog posts and contribute it to other posts and industry publications. That’s been a very efficient thing to do but it also helps maintain consistency in the messaging if the original eBook is very true to some common narrative and that the brand wants to be known for. A more sophisticated and evolved version of repurposing is repurposing as a form of personalization. It almost goes back to what I was talking about a modular approach. If I architect content in the first place, knowing that I’m going to repurpose it, part of what I’m going to get value from is repurposing it as a form of personalization to distinct channels.
The universal truth business that corporate marketing could create, that might be the core content. We repurpose it for the various channels and markets that we’re after. It becomes efficient because we don’t have to recreate the wheel, but it’s also a form of personalization because we’re tweaking it in the right places. Let’s say I do a series of ten interviews in our blog. I publish each of those ten interviews one a month or one every two weeks. When I think about the questions, I’m going to think about the questions in terms of what I know I’m going to repurpose some of these answers. I’m going to make sure that some of the questions are repeated with every person. They are meant to evoke tactical answers. After the series of interviews has run, I’m going to take all the answers to question number three. I’m going to create all new content with that. It’s never existed altogether before. Building that approach into the way content is planned gives you ingredients to use for repurposing and personalization.
I don’t want it to be canned where you say the same questions to the same people. How do you get those same answers without making it seem like you’re saying the same thing all the time?
In a series of interviews like that, I’m asking ten questions, two or three are going to be the same thing. I’ll ask things like, “What’s a practical tip for winning budget for innovative marketing strategies or for a marketing area?” That’s a reasonable question to ask any CMO. It’s in the mix. Afterwards I’ll say, “Here are 25 ideas on how you can win budget to implement the programs you really want to implement.” That’s a very attractive collection or curation of answers from that one question. The other thing is that the interviews in this scenario I suggested, they are published every two weeks or once a month. The people consuming the content are not turned off at all by the fact that some of the questions are like, “Who are you? Where did you come from? What do you see coming up? What’s in the future? What tools do you use? How do you stay smart?”
We all could find ways to repurpose what we’ve come up with. It’s so hard to keep coming up with new stuff all the time. How do you make this efficient? Is that the hardest part, the efficiency of it?
It is. One of the things that contribute to the efficiency is curating your own stuff, your own hits. Some of the most popular content that we publish on our blog has been a roundup listing of the top posts that I’ve written in a very specific category. Here’s ten of the top influencer marketing posts we’ve published in the last year. Then there’s brand new commentary or annotation explaining what they’re about. Those posts are super popular because people can find a lot of what they want to know in one place.
I was listening to your one video where you said that there were 30 in-depth articles listed in your blog post. I’m sure it’s one of those, right?
Exactly, we repurpose that. On TopRankBlog.com, you’ll see call to action ad that says “30 Content Recipes.” That was inspired by the collection of “30 Content Marketing Tactics” articles. The aesthetic is they use the metaphor of cooking and so the visuals are good. The cooking metaphor is carried throughout. You wouldn’t know that the core examples, a lot of the DNA of that content asset which is really robust, was inspired by something that was already created before.
I was thinking of your hamburger video and you were talking about creating eBooks better. You use event-specific eBooks to do this thing as well to recreate content. What do you mean by an event-specific eBook?
An event eBook, a lot of times what you’ll see at conferences is that the conference will promote the event, but they don’t necessarily promote anyone outside of the keynote speaker. I had empathy for this situation. I saw there’s a content creation opportunity by tapping into the expertise of the other speakers with the invitation promising, “This is exposure for you because I know that at big conferences, there’s five, six, twelve or thirteen tracks at the same time.” No speaker wants to have an empty room. Anything they can do to instill the seats, they’ll be interested in, especially if it makes them look good. I lived this myself and I understand what that thing was. I also knew that I had the ability, because of my network, to credibly connect with speakers at various conferences and invite them to participate in sharing something practical as a preview of the presentation. Put it into a conference eBook, wrap it in a fun metaphor like “secret agents” or “rock and roll’ or “magic” and present it visually in an interesting way.
I’m also following all those repurposing best practices, and resulting in great exposure for the individuals within, great exposure for the conference, and great exposure for us as well. We did one where Alice in Wonderland was the metaphor. Imagine with marketing going down the rabbit hole. There are so many things which you can draw from. We developed a sequence of four different eBooks talking about content marketing best practices using content marketing excerpts for 90% of the content. That sequence of eBooks and a couple of complimentary blog post and infographics generated over 200,000 views, 4,000 downloads, and 1,000 leads. That means request for more information. The whole thing was underwritten by somebody else. It wasn’t even a cost to us as a marketing campaign. That’s what I mean by event content. You can create content at the event itself, which we’ve done.
I was an Editor-in-Chief of a blog site and I had to write a blog every day for a year. It’s hard to do. I’m curious how you got to the point of being the number one content marketing blog? Did it take a while? How long were you doing it before you got to that point?
Content Marketing Institute was managing that list, there were less people publishing, so we do have a bit of information overload, more so currently than five or six or even a year ago. It did take a while. I started blogging in 2003 as a way to curate links to things I was interested in and also as a communications platform so that I could write counterpoints to things that I had read being written by other marketing bloggers. I developed my writing skills there. It took me longer than most. In the end, I feel like my penchant for experimentation revealed insights to me more quickly than maybe some of the other folks in my category. I would share my findings pretty regularly, and that made me standout because it was unique and different and came across as innovative. Working in different industries at the same time for a long time gives you a cumulative perspective that’s different than those who work on only one. That, in combination with experimentation and sharing results of those findings, helped the blog stand out. That’s ultimately what helped Joe decide it was worthy of that recognition.
How many blogs a week were you blogging?
For many years I was doing four or five, and there were times I only did two or three. Then five years ago, I got some help. Now I don’t write as much as I used to. I write more LinkedIn post. I’ll write for contributed articles for other publications. We have some amazingly talented writers on our team. Caitlin Burgess, Josh Nite, and Ashley Zeckman have done a really great job by contributing and elevating their great writing skills. They’re way better than I am at the function of writing. To highlight and showcase their talent is far more important to me than showcasing my own because I have other channels to do that.
You’re doing a lot of this work with these big companies. What exactly do you do for McKesson and LinkedIn, Dell, those companies? What services do you offer specifically?
Fundamentally, our solutions are very content centric. We’re leveraging content strategies to attract, engage, and inspire action amongst a client audience. The action maybe engagement-oriented or most often it’s conversion, new customer acquisition-oriented. We create a lot of contents for our clients. We create content for marketing strategies. There are some things that the client will do, some things that we’ll do. Everything from blog posts to eBooks to reports, content marketing campaigns, motion graphics, interactive contents. We recently published a pretty cool example of an interactive influencer eBook for SAP. They had their Sapphire Conference, and influencers contributed the vast majority of the content for a piece about digital transformation with subtopics like machine learning, blockchain, natural language processing, artificial intelligence, and stuff like that. We had experts in each of those areas contribute a small snippet of advice and insight. We put it together, but it’s presented as an interactive experience online. The influencers were very proud to be a part of something that looks so cool. They shared it and it’s done really well.
We’re doing a lot more interactive stuff on Ceros platform. We still create blog posts and eBooks and some of the other campaign content assets one would use. Most of our work is B2B, probably 60% to 70%.We also have an integrated approach. For example, we’re building SEO into the content ideation process. When we’re coming up with topics for content programs, we’re thinking about, “How is this going to be found?” Not only what are the topics’ most relevant descriptors of the solution, but also reconcile with the buyer and their pain and what they’re looking to solve for, also what search keywords are in demand? What social topics are hot? We also think about what influencers might be candidates to co-create with them to do the content. That all happens in the planning phase. That’s a bit different that we do than a lot of the companies will do. We’re building that into the DNA of the content architecture. We have to throw as many ad contents to amplify it, not as much as many others. We’re building attract-based traffic, meaning the people actively looking, so our clients. Stuff is really easily found through search, through social, and through influencers. Then the force multipliers by being able to use very targeted advertising solutions, whether it’s paid search or paid social retargeting to deliver the knockout punch.
When you repurpose, you have to concentrate on looking at the keywords. They probably need to change if you haven’t used your content in a while, if there are new buzzwords that you need to incorporate I imagine.
You do want to be fresh. No doubt about it. You have to account for changes in buyer behavior, popular culture, and anything else that maybe a reflection of demand. Demand and relevance have to work together, almost Yin and Yang, to deliver the right insight for the best content experience.
You really have a good wealth of knowledge and I’m sure a lot of people would like to know more about how to reach you and your site. Can you share that?
My company website is TopRankMarketing.com. You can find me blogging once in a while, but my team is at MarketingBlog.com. On Twitter, @LeeOdden is my handle, and Lee@Lee.to is my email address.
Thank you, Lee. I really appreciate you being here.
I appreciate you having me and for asking such interesting questions and having a very interesting conversation.
Learning Content Marketing Tactics And Strategic Business Growth with Dan Kuschell
I am with Dan Kuschell who’s a husband, dad, serial entrepreneur and Angel investor. He’s built eleven or more companies since 1992. After selling two of his companies following a health scare, Dan spends his time working with fun projects including helping drive sales growth as a strategic growth partner with clients like Joe Polish, Genius Network and more. Welcome.
It’s a pleasure to be with you. Thank you.
I’m very interested in what you do with this Genius Network. I’m also interested to know more about your Growth to Freedom show. What do you do exactly? What is your main focus?
I help create an advanced momentum for small business owners and entrepreneurs. I have an ability to see things that many times, the business owner and entrepreneurs get caught up in their business that they don’t realize they have as an asset. I grew up in a blue-collar family. My dad was a labor worker for GM. My dad was always tinkering around down in the basement and the garage. We had engines in the garage or in the basement. We had parts everywhere. From a business perspective, I can see an engine over in that corner, tires over another, in that area that carburetor’s sitting. I can bring them all together. The next thing you know you’ve got a car. Not only does it run, but it’ll run a couple of hundred miles an hour. I have an ability to connect the dots, to charge up the business, the entrepreneur, the team, to help the entrepreneur or small business owner start to see the blind spots and also recognize the assets that they’ve got. What that allows them to do is to have ability that generates more leads and sales and profits. The deeper is that it gives them the ability to go out and have a bigger impact, a bigger reach, and bigger contribution.
Do you have a separate company in addition to being within Joe Polish’s Genius Network? What’s the name of your company? Is there something separate from that or are you primarily working as a CEO with the Genius Network?
I was the interim CEO with Joe for multiple years. My role with Genius Network is more as a strategic growth partner. I’ve shifted from that role. In addition to Joe’s Genius Network, I am working with other clients as well. Our company is called Champion. I’m a champion for small business and entrepreneurs. I still get to do that with the community with Joe, as well as others, too.
I saw a video where Joe said that you’ve created a $25 million in sales through your understanding of marketing. I’m not surprised that you’d want to help others get to that same level of success. A lot of small business owners and entrepreneurs have a lot of challenges. I’ve had a lot of people on my show that try to help people with that. Do you have people come to you that you don’t think really have what it takes to be an entrepreneur, or can anybody do it if they get the right help?
I do think it’s learned. People sometimes ask, “What were you like in high school?” I was actually very shy and introverted. Edith Neal said, “You’ll be impacting and inspiring and coaching thousands of people over the years.” I don’t know that I have a radio show or be on an interview like this with you and with other thought leaders. I don’t know that I would have seen myself that way back then. It’s certainly a learned skill. At the same time, it comes from a place of wanting to contribute. Someone who is from the inside out really has a desire to go contribute or add value in the marketplace. There’s an instinct that we have, maybe from even the reptilian brain, that suggest that we are contributors, we are value creators. It’s just figuring out a vehicle to be able to do that. A lot of the real success in business isn’t taught in traditional schooling or education or universities, etc., at least my experience has been that. A lot of times people are set up to be better trained as an employee. When you’re trained as an employee for 14,000 hours in school, grade school, high school, and then getting into college and you’re trained more to being an employee most of the time, unless you’re in special entrepreneurship programs, what ends up happening is you do what you’ve always done. It becomes this habit.
If people are trained in a behavior, it’s hard to untrain a behavior. Many times, the unlearning is more important than the learning to get that next level breakthrough. We have it inside of us, but I do think that it’s someone who wants to break free from the status quo who really wants to be independent. Many times, the typical entrepreneur signs are things like being a rugged individualist, being a little bit of a black sheep, coloring outside the lines. I’m not saying that other don’t fit but that’s what I’ve seen as far as, like you, I’ve interviewed hundreds and hundreds, probably thousands of small business owners. I have found that that rugged individualist trait or the desire to be independent and go out and contribute and make an impact seems to be a couple of the key quality.
Is there a big problem that these potential entrepreneurs face that you see that they run into the most? What’s the biggest issue for them?
I’m my own worst enemy and I think most of us are. The one thing that jumps out, and it’s something that I dealt with so it’s something that’s close to me, is burnout. That shows up in a lot of different ways. It’s not just collapsing like I did in the hospital and ended up there for four days with heart procedures and signing disclaimers that said, “I don’t want a next chance dying on the table,” that kind of burnout. I’ll call it the entrepreneurial burnout syndrome. What that is, is this feeling of, “I’m running to accomplish a certain goal or outcome or result in a 30-day window or weekly window. Then I have to start all over again the next week or the next month.” It’s this constant build process of, “I have to build by revenue and then I have to start it all over again.” Imagine what’s that like when you do that.
As an entrepreneur, we condense a collapsed timeframe. We deal with more stuff usually in a couple weeks than most people deal within six months. I’m using the framework of burnout. How else does it show up? The other symptoms that show up in this, from my experience, has been things like being completely overwhelmed and buried in complexity. It’s much simpler than most of us have been led to believe. There’s a great quote that I just love and it’s a big focus of mine because I deal with it. I’m not here calling kettle black because I deal with it too. It’s what’s led me to build different types of systems and automation and a smarter business overall. It’s the quote from Oliver Wendell Holmes that says, “I wouldn’t give a fig to be on the other side of complexity, but I give my life to be on this side of simplicity.”
At the end of the day, there only about six key areas of building and growing a business. It’s not like you or I as the entrepreneur have to be the expert at those six things. We have to know how to run those six areas effectively and efficiently, so we can get people to run those divisions. It’s the old e-myth model. One of my first coaches, which was Michael Gerber, wrote a great book called The E-Myth. My take from that is tools and systems run your business. Find good people, not great people, just good people, to run those tools and systems. Most people don’t set up systems in those six areas, and therefore it’s like a house of cards and therefore it’s more complex. I’ve been there too. When I went through my health issue and spent four days in the hospital that was when I really got focused on moving to the other side of something. I thought I was focused on it, but it wasn’t until I had the scare that got me to really focus, because then I also made the choice for myself that I wanted to sell my companies at that time. I put a bunch of systems in place to make the company more valuable to someone who will buy it. That approach to it has led to a lot of different systems that I feel I’ve been able to help install not only for me but for dozens of other small business owners and entrepreneurs, too.
Tell a little bit about your health issue. Did you have any warning signs and what exactly happened?
I’ve dealt with burnouts. Imagine being an entrepreneur who’s a workaholic, someone who burn the candle at both ends and sleep on average two to four hours a day, which was what I did. That’s the behavior pattern I set up for myself because I thought that’s what I had to do to win, hustle at all cost. I had a mentor when I was in my 20s who said, “You can sleep when you were dead.” I took it literally. Literally over a decade, I averaged about two to four hours of sleep and I was burning it hard. I started building these companies at my peak. I got over 175 employees, a handful of offices. We were doing some great numbers and we were innovating a lot of things in these five companies that work together. Imagine being a dad, or in your case, a mom. You have a daughter that’s two and then you have a son that’s born. Two weeks after your son is born, you wake up with some chest tightness. I ended up taking myself to the hospital. I called my doctor and said, “I’m having some tightness or pain in my chest.” He’s like, “Can you get yourself to the hospital?” It’s only a couple of blocks away, so I did. I go in and I walked in. I didn’t say I have chest pain. I said, “I got a little tightness up in my chest.” They immediately get me in a chair and then they start taking some tests. The next thing, all hell breaks loose. I’m on a gurney then I’m rolled into a room. The chaos going on around me was freaking me out.
How old were you when this happened?
In my late 30s. I ended up having to stay in the hospital for four days. On the third day, I had the surgery, the procedure. A lot of it was just a false alarm, but going through this process or this journey in these four days, that collapsed a lot of timeframes and get me to really look in the mirror. “What the heck am I doing? At what cost am I doing it? What’s most important?” First of all, I signed a disclaimer before the surgery and I said, “I don’t want a next chance to dying on a table.” It freaked me out and put me into a state of emotional road. You’re probably very familiar with the book by Kübler-Ross, Death and Dying. They talk about the DABDAR when you go through loss. I went through all of those stages of denial, anger, bargaining, anxiety, and then response all in four or five hours through the night. I cried a lot, too. I thought it was going to be potentially a last will. Then I got on the other side of it and go, “God, when I come out of this, I’m going to be different,” like entrepreneurs do. We find solutions in problems and say, “What am I going to do different? Do I really want 200 employees and all this?”
For me, I decided, I went and got a coach and my coach guided me through a few key questions that have become a guiding compass of all my decisions, including being on the show, which are, “What do I want? Who am I?” Not like labels and titles and all that BS stuff but at the core, who am I as a human being. Not the human doing stuff, accomplishments or the achievements, but the human being like, “Who are we and what do I stand for? What’s your values?” She got me to hone in on those. For me, as I went through this process over the course of a few months, it got me to recognize that for me, what I wanted at that time was, “I’m going to sell my companies. I’m going to take some time off and really focus on Dan, focus on me, and be a little more selfish about it.”I did. I sold my companies within two years. I was very fortunate and blessed to be able to do that. I was able to work on my health. I’ve since lost 70 pounds and kept it off. I’m healthier and more fit than I was in my late 20s.
Do you sleep?
I sleep an average of seven hours a night. People asked me, “How did you lose all this weight?” I shock them when I go, “I started sleeping.”They looked at me, but I go, “There’s a whole story around it, but the sleep was the number one thing.” I got my hormones in balance because of the sleep because they were completely jacked up. I started to focus on, “What do I want to do?” Dan Sullivan, from Strategic Coach, asked the ultimate question which is, “Who do I want to be a hero to in my business?” For me, I want to serve high-achieving entrepreneurs who run high-growth type companies. That’s what I get to do as well as coach others. It’s just a lot of fun. That experience shook me up certainly. It was my own doing of thinking that’s what I had to do. That’s one of the greatest myth of being an entrepreneur and one of the biggest lies about running a business.
I’ve watched some of your videos and some of the things you do for Genius Network. Can we talk a little about that? I’m curious how you got involved in that with Joe Polish. Can you tell people a little about it?
He bought one of my initial education programs back in the early 2000s, which is how Joe and I met. That started our relationship. I had a radio show in NBC in Phoenix and then he came into the studio. It seemed like we were in touch with each other about every quarter or so. In 2006, he called me and said, “I’m starting this community. It’s $25,000 to be a part of this. Do you want to this?”I was like, “You’re always around the smartest, best people in the world, so yes. Count me in.” I joined Genius Network, that version of it at the time.
I was in the group for about five years and loved it. I built a lot of great relationships. Joe had a vision at that time of only having about twenty people in the community. It grew beyond that even in the short five years that I was there. I was building my company and then I went through this episode. When I went through this episode, I took a break from it. Joe didn’t treat me as a client. Out of concern, he called me and go, “Are you okay? Is there anything you need?” I was like, “It’s all good. I’ll let you know if I need anything.” I came back into the group after about a two-year break. I was in one of the meetings with Genius Network and one of the members who I’ve gotten to know from the very beginning, Richard, said, “What are you doing?” I’m like, “I’m doing fun projects, working with cool clients and working on my health and being a dad.” He’s like, “Would you ever think about teaming up with Joe?”I’m like, “I didn’t know Joe needed any help.” He got us together and we had about a six-month conversation. Fast forward after that conversation, we connected, we teamed up. I was the interim contract CEO for the company. We had an awesome run in building up the community of about 60 members at that time. Now there’s about 230 active members in the group. We do this annual event that, historically, is selling out every year. It’s a great community for high achievers who really want a place to come to get clarity, to get confidence, to get direction, to be able to come together. It’s unique in a sense where you’re going to walk out of there with strategies, tactics, and connections that’s not available anywhere else the way Joe brings it together.
It’s not like a seminar environment. It’s more of a collaboration community. It’s a collaborative group of these high performers, high achievers. They collaborate. They contribute to help you, help me, help each member get their next big breakthrough. It’s been a lot of fun being able to help build the community, being a part on the other side of it as a member. Now I’m in the role of a supporter and a plan and strategic partner for Joe and Genius Network.
Didn’t you do one with Tony Robbins promoting it? It’s in Arizona, your event. Is it just Arizona-based or do you have people from all over come to this?
Our member base is primarily in North America. We have people from 180 plus different niche industries, ten countries, and five continents. It is worldwide. It’s a diverse group of people from different industries. One of the key factors with them is that they are focused on being what Dan Sullivan calls an “industry transformer.” In other words, they want to be at the very top of their industry. This is the second time Tony has been at our events. Most people see Tony with thousands and thousands of people. Joe and Genius Network, we don’t do multi-thousand-person events. The max for it being sold out was about 350 people. It’s not as big an event, so it’s still very intimate the way we do it. You can go check that out at GeniusNetworkEvents.com/Champion to get more details.
You do workshops with them too, not just this one event?
Exactly. We’re in a test program that we’re working and building with the group. It essentially is focused on entrepreneurs who have not gotten beyond $1 million in revenue yet per year. If you’re looking for getting beyond that plateau or you haven’t cracked that code or created that accelerated growth or accelerated breakthrough beyond the $1 million in revenue per year, go check out our most current master class at ChampionBusinessBluePrint.com. Timothy Paulson and I, are teamed up on this and we both work with Joe in different ways for years. We’re able to access some of the best strategies from Genius Network. Our members are 100K group which is called GeniusX. We have about 27 members in that community as well. Timothy and I get the best strategies from the community, and both of us has been a part of this for many years since the beginning when Joe started it, and we make those strategies available to entrepreneurs and small business owners who haven’t gotten beyond that $1 million mark yet. We host a series of live events plus ongoing group support, group coaching that goes along with it.
What do you think is the biggest thing that’s holding them back from the $1 million mark?
One side of it is the mindset. A lot of it comes down to the mindset. I love this quote from Brendon Burchard that I think hits the nail which is, “Don’t let your small business keep you small minded.” The opposite is true, too. It’s okay to start small but it’s not okay to play small. The one biggest thing that will transform most businesses beyond the $1 million mark, beyond the working on the mindset piece which we helped do on our program, is focusing on integrating marketing and sales. It is integrated. The old days are like throwing a match at a log and catching a log on fire, meaning run one ad and catch a windfall of sales and profit. I don’t believe it exists currently. The marketplace is different. That’s where the complexity comes in because people are being told by one expert “go do this” tactic. That’s where most of the focus is, in my opinion, with most programs. They focus on a tactical approach, “go do this” tactic, and then they hear from an expert, who is also a big high profile expert, and that expert contradicts the previous.
It’s confusing. It’s overwhelming. It’s complex. People throw their arms up in air and they’d go, “Marketing doesn’t work. I don’t want to do that.” What we do is we bring simplicity to show small business owners how to integrate effectively sales marketing. Here’s a simple little test that we give, three key questions to ask. Do you have a marketing plan blueprint for the year? Number two, do you have a marketing calendar blueprint for the year? Number three, do you have a sales model blueprint for your business for the year? Most of the people we meet, we ask those simple three questions. Over 80% of people we have say no. They don’t have any of those three in place. What we do is we simplify this whole thing. That’s a big part of why it works so well, because it’s simplicity. You get simplicity and clarity. You don’t need more ideas. You don’t need strategies. What you need is implementation.
I feel one of my superpower is and what this program that we’ve developed for companies that are a million or less in revenue per year is it’s an implementation model that gets you and your team, whether it’s a small lean, outsourced, virtual team or you’ve got lots of employees, it gets you and your team on the same page. You have clarity and implementation around building a simple integrated sales and marketing model that creates a sustainable lead system, that drives sustainable sales, that drives sustainable profit. That allows you, when you get to that place, to look at, “How can we scale this to that next level beyond that?” We got tools to do that, too. This is a sweet spot that grew out of a necessity because we now have the model that we’ve built with Genius Network that I was a part of. Joe and Genius Network, the annual event, we get over a thousand applicants a year to attend the annual event or be a part of Genius Network. About 300 are qualified. We have certain values that are part of that as well as revenue. 700 are not yet qualified, but they’re hungry. They want this. They want access to the tools and the strategies and the systems. That’s where we’re serving this community with this program to be able to help be able to do that. Clarity and implementation to be able to build and create greater lead sales and profits, which ultimately allows you to go out and have a bigger reach impacting contributions.
Thank you for being on the show. Can you share how they can reach you?
Feel free to email me if you have questions. You can do that at Dan@JoePolish.com. If you want to learn more about our annual event we do each year in the Genius Network community, go to a GeniusNetworkEvents.com/Champion. If you want to learn more about our support model for companies under $1 million a year, we’re rotating this master class to bring great wisdom and strategy, as well as introduce the model and all the benefits of it at ChampionBusinessBluePrint.com.
Thank you. I really appreciate everything. Thank you for being here.
It’s a pleasure. Thank you.
About Lee Odden
Lee Odden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing, a digital marketing agency that provides integrated and optimized content, social media and influencer marketing programs for companies like McKesson, LinkedIn and Dell. A respected consultant and author of the book Optimize, Lee has been cited by The Economist, The Wall Street Journal and Forbes for his expertise which he also shares giving presentations all over the world. For over 10 years Lee has published TopRank’s Online Marketing Blog, the only blog ranked the #1 content marketing blog three times by Content Marketing Institute.
About Dan Kuschell
Dan Kuschell is the founder of Growth to Freedom™, ProsperityBasedLiving.com, creator of Millonaires Mindset®, bestselling author of Bootstrap Business as well as A Champion in the Making: Awaken the Champion Within Your life, Business, and Relationships and more. Dan has been on multiple media outlets including NBC, ESPN, Spike TV, Wall Street Journal online, numerous radio and TV programs, Entrepreneur, and many more. Dan’s books, videos, radio shows, newsletters, products, consulting, and appearances have impacted over 500,000 people worldwide. Dan Kuschell is the CEO for Joe Polish’s Genius Network & Genius Network.
- Dan Kuschell
- TopRank Marketing
- Online Marketing Blog
- Content Marketing Institute
- Susan Misukanis
- Dun & Bradstreet
- Rishi Dave
- Jay Baer
- Caitlin Burgess
- Josh Nite
- Ashley Zeckman
- @LeeOdden Twitter account
- Dan Kuschell
- Joe Polish
- Genius Network
- Growth to Freedom
- The E-Myth
- Death and Dying
- Strategic Coach
- Timothy Paulson
- Brendon Burchard
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