Podcasting has taken the marketing world by storm in the last several years. But most business owners go about it all wrong, says Steve Gordon of The Unstoppable CEO. He says the real value of a podcast – in terms of getting more clients and customers – is not in the number of downloads you get.
Steve talks about the real reason you should be podcasting, how you’ll profit as a result, and why the size of your audience is only a side benefit. We also cover…
- The first thing you must do before you ever speak to your prospects
- What really drives marketing success (hint: it’s not creativity)
- When repelling potential clients is a good thing
- The ideal podcast guest – it’s the same for everybody
- And much more…
Mentioned in This Episode: www.unstoppableceo.net/solotoceo
Davina Frederick: Hello, and welcome to the Solo to CEO Podcast, where we provide a mix of powerful, thought-provoking, and practical information to assist you in your transformation from solo to CEO of a high-impact high-revenue-generating business. I’m your host, Davina Frederick, and I’m here today with Steve Gordon, author of Unstoppable Referrals: 10X Referrals Half the Effort, and The Exponential Network Strategy, the founder and CEO of The Unstoppable CEO and The Unstoppable Agency, and my mentor, friend, and trusted advisor, without whom I would not be nearly as successful. Welcome, Steve. I’m so happy to have you on my podcast.
Steve Gordon: Hey, Davina. I’m excited to be here. This is going to be a lot of fun today.
Davina Frederick: Yeah. So, tell us about The Unstoppable CEO and The Unstoppable Agency. I know how you serve clients, but let’s tell everybody else how you serve clients.
Steve Gordon: The name is something that people always comment on. “How did you come up with The Unstoppable CEO? Does that describe you?” To be honest, I’d have to be really narcissistic for that to describe me. I’m not, so I always like to tell the story of where it came from. I was having a conversation with a buddy of mine, and this was … started the business, been in the business for a couple of years. And he was asking me, “Who is it that you’re really trying to serve?” And I said, “I have all these friends who own businesses they built up, whether it’s a law firm, or an engineering firm, or a consulting practice, or whatever business they’re in, they built these businesses up.
And they’ve been doing it for a while. And they have all the battle scars to prove that they’ve done it, but they just keep going. And sometimes they fall down, and they just keep going, and going, and going.” And he said, “Oh, you mean like they’re unstoppable?” And I said, “Wait, I think we just have a name.” We got talking about it, and of course, there was probably a beer or two involved. Then we ended up with the name Unstoppable CEO to describe the people that we want to be a hero for.
Davina Frederick: Oh, that’s a wonderful story. And that’s funny that you said that, because my brand is The Indispensable Trusted Advisor. And I get the same kind of thing. I created it because I think of teaching my clients, and I teach them how to position themselves as indispensable trusted advisors clients clamor to hire. And then people will say to me, “Oh, so you’re the indispensable trusted advisor?” I’m like, “No, no, no. No, that’s not what I’m saying. What I’m saying is that this is what I teach my clients.” So, I get where you’re coming from with that. But it’s interesting that when you say The Unstoppable CEO … I went on your website, so I’m a client of yours. And in fact, your team produces my podcast.
Steve Gordon: Yes.
Davina Frederick: And we’ll get into that a little further later on. So I went onto your website, and I haven’t been on your website in years. You and I have known each other a number of years. I haven’t been on your website in years. But I went on it, and was scrolling through. And what I did not realize, you’re talking about very clear, identifying your ideal client and targeting your ideal client. I went on there and I read through about, just to see if there was something on there that I didn’t realize or didn’t know. And you have a quote on there about persistence, by Calvin Coolidge. And what is hilarious about this quote, and we’ll share this quote in a minute, is that I have this … I don’t have a lot of quotes around my office or anything, but I have this very same quote on my bulletin board right in front of my face every day on my desk. And it is the only quote that I have. And it is on your website.
Steve Gordon: That-
Davina Frederick: And it is the very definition of unstoppable.
Steve Gordon: That’s a little freaky, isn’t it?
Davina Frederick: It is a little freaky.
Steve Gordon: I didn’t know that.
Davina Frederick: Yeah, I know. I just now realized it. It is, “Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not. Nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not. Unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not. The world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone, are omnipotent.” And that’s Calvin Coolidge, right? That’s what it says.
Steve Gordon: Yeah.
Davina Frederick: Because I believe that. And so, that is unstoppable. That’s what being unstoppable is. I saw that, and I was like, “Oh, man, he was just singing my song out there.”
Steve Gordon: Well, and that’s it. To me, the reason that we have that quote on the About page, and I have it hanging on my wall, as well, is because that’s the game. We can talk a lot about marketing as we go through the time that we have together today, and we can talk about systems. I know you’re a master at getting people to systematize their business so that they can kind of make this transition from solo or small firm into sort of that CEO role. And that’s a huge transition to make. And all of that stuff is really great, but the fundamental strategy for business is persistence. It’s figuring out how you toughen yourself up to get knocked down and get back up, and get knocked down again and get back up.
And it’s interesting, because in our own podcast, I’ve done … I did my 111th interview this week, and we interview entrepreneurs on The Unstoppable CEO podcast. And what I’ve discovered in all of those interviews is that if you talk to somebody who’s run either more than one business, or they’ve been doing it for a reasonable length of time, all of us have been knocked down. Every one of us. In fact, I joke now with people that, “This whole entrepreneurship, running a firm, running a business thing, this is something that crazy people do. Because normal people would not sign up for this.” You know? Because it’s tough. And you’ve got to be persistent if you want to be successful. So, yeah, I didn’t know you had that quote on your wall, but that’s a little freaky, you know?
Davina Frederick: That is, that is.
Steve Gordon: The hair is standing up on my arm, just hearing that.
Davina Frederick: Yeah, and we talk about, of course, we explain to our clients one of the very first things you have to do is, you have to get very clear on who your ideal client is, where you have to really dial in. Because if you, when you’re putting your brand and your message out there, and you’re speaking to everyone, you’re speaking to no one, right?
Steve Gordon: Right.
Davina Frederick: And so, you get very targeted with your message. And the more targeted you get, it’s like you’re speaking to one person. You have one person in mind, and you’re speaking to that person. And it’s like that cocktail party syndrome, when you’re at a cocktail party and you hear your name in a crowded room. You’ll turn around and look. It’s a reflex action. That’s what happens when your marketing is so dialed in, and your messaging is so dialed in, that person will hear their name out of a crowd. And it actually will have the effect of repelling people who are not your ideal client. So, those people will be repelled. You will develop haters. You will develop people who just are not, they just won’t like you at all. They say, “This person’s not for me.”
And so, it was really fascinating to me, because I’ve been following you for a long time, before I ever engaged with you in conversation or anything like that. And just, your marketing just sort of stood out to me. And I’m in the online marketing world. I follow a lot of people, and sign up for newsletters, and read and see what people are doing and that kind of thing. And so, it was really interesting to me that when I saw that, I was like, “Oh, wow. That’s really interesting.”
Steve Gordon: Yeah, who knew, right?
Davina Frederick: Yeah, exactly.
Steve Gordon: Yeah, you put something like that on your website, and then three or four years later, attracting people who have that. Yeah.
Davina Frederick: So, I want to hear it, and it’s funny because there are a lot of things about you that … you and I have not really discussed your … There’s a lot of things about you that I don’t know. Because you and I talk about business a lot, you know?
Steve Gordon: Right.
Davina Frederick: So, I want to hear your story. I want you to share with people your story of kind of, how you … I know you kind of got thrown into The CEO role at a very young age for a CEO, and had to kind of, turn a business around. Can you tell us that story?
Steve Gordon: Sure. I’m a recovering engineer. I went to school for this tiny little discipline in engineering called geomatics. And geomatics is the science of how we measure the Earth. So, if you’ve ever looked at a satellite photo, or you enjoy Google maps, you can thank a geomatics person for that, because they’re the ones who figured out how to pull all that technology together. I went to school for that. Ended up working out of college for a small little firm down in Southeast Florida. Was, I think, the 10th employee at that firm when I got there. And didn’t know it at the time, but the founder was thinking ahead and thinking about the growth of the firm.
And so, he very generously took me kind of under his wing and mentored me, and I kind of became his right-hand guy in the firm. And thankfully, I didn’t have to turn it around. I mean, we had a good firm, and it was growing, but he got to a point where he knew that it was time for him to begin planning his exit. And he wanted to do that … unlike what most people do, where they rush it right at the end, he wanted to do it over time. And so, at the age of 28, I’d been there for four years. I got a call. I was actually out for a couple of weeks because our first daughter had been born. And I get this call, “When you come back, you’re taking over.” I went, “Okay. This is going to be interesting.”
So, yeah, at 28 I became the CEO of this firm and didn’t know what I was doing, whatsoever. Thankfully, I had a really great mentor. And together, we grew the firm, grew it into a multi-seven-figure business in that industry. In 2010, I decided that I really loved the sales and marketing part of that more than I did any of the technical work, and left to go focus on helping other professionals learn how to get clients, and build up their business, and do sales and marketing the right way.
Davina Frederick: Oh, there’s a lot to unpack there. So first I would say, what a rare opportunity.
Steve Gordon: Oh, yeah.
Davina Frederick: Because to have somebody just … First of all, one of the challenges I see with so many small business owners, and especially in professional service businesses, is the unwillingness to mentor replacements. The unwillingness to say, “I need to be prepared to replace myself, and let this business grow to a point that I am going to eventually replace me.” That is something that a lot of service-based business owners just cannot even fathom. I mean, they can’t even get themselves to a point where they want to, can trust people enough to grow a team to begin with, much less imagine themselves replacing themselves completely, right? So, what a visionary in. And to identify you and say, “Here’s this opportunity for you.” I mean, that’s really, what a fantastic thing.
Steve Gordon: Yeah.
Davina Frederick: And then the next thing that really struck me about your story is, I used to work for an engineering firm in my prior life as a marketer. That’s how I started out my professional career in marketing, was working in marketing for an engineering firm. And I was kind of a translator for the engineers, who spoke engineer speak. And I would interpret that into marketing speak for, so they could market and get them work-
Steve Gordon: So they could talk to normal humans.
Davina Frederick: Exactly, right? I learned all about rubble rip rap, and things like that, and how to talk-
Steve Gordon: Oh, yeah.
Davina Frederick: I worked for civil engineers, roadway engineers. So, it’s interesting that you have this very creative … When I say creative, I mean not, engineers will argue that they’re creative. I’ve had arguments with engineers about that. But what I mean, that you have this side of you, that your brain works in a way that you, like marketing and sales. Because that’s atypical for an engineer, that you have that side of your personality, right?
Steve Gordon: Well, yes. But I think marketing is a system. So yeah, there’s a creative side to it. But the creative side is less important than the system side. Because the system part of marketing is really what drives things. And the trap I see people fall into a lot is, they think that marketing is this big creative act. And yes, some creativity is helpful in it, but more than anything, if all you do is build a system so that you show up in the lives of the people you want to do business with and do that frequently and consistently over time, you’re going to win. And so, if you can build the system, that will trump pure creativity without a system, all day long.
Davina Frederick: See, that’s the form over function kind of argument that people have, right? So, if you’re talking about creating something that’s functional, and then you can bring in the artist to make it visually appealing and integrate that and work together, once the functionality is there.
Steve Gordon: Yep.
Davina Frederick: Right?
Steve Gordon: Well, and if we think about it, the most important factor in any kind of marketing or sales is really, the factor of familiarity. And for everyone listening to this, chances are, your biggest problem isn’t how creative your marketing is, it’s that nobody knows you exist. You’re living in obscurity. And that’s the problem to solve. And the way that you solve that problem, it’s just like the way that we solve it in our personal lives. If you want to go have a really great relationship with a member of the opposite sex, you go and you identify who they are, and then you somehow meet them. And then after you’ve met them, you figure out how a way to keep showing up, and being relevant, and being interesting, right?
Davina Frederick: Right.
Steve Gordon: But it’s the frequency of showing up that really is the thing that drives that. And most people in business are afraid to show up enough. They’re afraid they’re going to be annoying. And we can certainly talk about that all you want, but I think that’s a huge danger for most people. In most professional service businesses, you’re just sitting in a corner quietly by yourself completely unknown, and that’s the biggest reason that your business isn’t growing the way that you want it to.
Davina Frederick: It’s interesting you say that. When I was in college, I took a women’s studies course, and I absolutely loved it. It was taught by two professors, one older and one younger. And one of the things that they said …. They were discussing relationships, and they said the number one factor in whether or not people engage in a romantic relationship … Can you guess what the number one factor is, in whether or not people engage in a romantic relationship?
Steve Gordon: I would imagine familiarity.
Davina Frederick: It’s proximity.
Steve Gordon: Proximity, yeah. Same kind of idea-
Davina Frederick: Proximity.
Steve Gordon: Yeah.
Davina Frederick: Proximity, right. You have to be in proximity. You have to, at some point, actually have met. You have to have proximity. And so, even in long-distance relationships, at some point you have to be in proximity to have a relationship of some type. And so, you apply that same thing to business. You have to be in proximity. You have to be visible to people. And it seems so obvious to people, and yet when you look at the way we, you look at the visual noise today with my clients, or my perspective clients, or any time I’m talking or lecturing or speaking about marketing, the people are so worried about, “Oh, gosh, like you said about being a pest.” Being out there, being too much. And what they don’t realize, or what they don’t think about is that people aren’t really … there’s so much visual noise, that people aren’t really seeing them.
So, if they think they’re being out there, and they’re in front of people’s faces all the time, but are you really? Just because you posted something doesn’t mean that people saw it. And even if they saw it, it was there and they saw it, did they really see it? Did they really register what they saw? And did they remember it? Did they get distracted? Did they go into something else? So, what is visibility, really? How much do you have to be visible? And by visible, that obviously, can mean audibility, too. Are you audible? And that, with video, with podcasts, whatever that visibility … I’m using visibility in terms of multiple senses.
Steve Gordon: And there’s a time factor to visibility, as well. And this is, I think, this is a huge issue for most professionals. It’s one thing to sort of be known, but we’ve all had that experience where a contact that we knew really well, maybe through the chamber, or a BNI group or somehow, we knew them well. I mean, I’ve had clients tell me, as they were coming on board, “Oh, yeah,” ‘so and so’ was actually a relative, and they ended up hiring a competitor because they didn’t totally understand what I do. So, that kind of, “Hey, I missed out on something because somebody didn’t either think of me at the time or really understand how I can help,” is … I mean, that’s stuff that almost all of us have experienced. And this time factor familiarity is, you’ve got to show up pretty close to when they have the need. And you don’t know when they’re going to have the need, right?
Davina Frederick: Right.
Steve Gordon: So, you’ve got to show up all the time, frequently, over, and over, and over again.
Davina Frederick: Because people aren’t thinking about you.
Steve Gordon: Right. So the trick is-
Davina Frederick: And it’s nothing personal, it’s just that people are thinking about, “I’m running late, I’ve got to get the kids to school, this one’s got a play tonight, I had a fight with the spouse this morning, I’ve got all these projects due for work.” So, they’re just not thinking about you at the moment. So, you have to be constantly putting stuff out there, because you want to be there at the moment when there’s something happening.
Steve Gordon: Sure, yeah. And so, it’s probably useful to define what constantly being there is. Because you’re not truly ever going to achieve the true definition of constantly. But what we found is that weekly’s a pretty good schedule, if you’ve got something interesting to show up with. And we can talk about how to create interesting stuff. Bi-weekly’s pretty good. Monthly’s probably the minimum you ever want to do. If you’re not going to do at least something that will show up monthly and make an impact, and I don’t mean a monthly post on LinkedIn.
And we can talk about the different degrees of where things have effectiveness if you like. But monthly’s probably the minimum you want to do. And if I’m only going to show up monthly, it’s probably going to be with something printed that’s showing up physically in their world. And if you’re not going to do monthly, why bother showing up at all? These are people that you want to have a relationship with, that you want to trust you enough to give you money. And it’s important that you show up, and that you prove to them that you can stick with something and be consistent over the long haul. That’s part of building a relationship.
Davina Frederick: Let me ask you this. So, speaking of this, we’ve kind of gone into some details. Let’s back up.
Steve Gordon: I know, I’ve totally hijacked your agenda, haven’t I?
Davina Frederick: No, no, no, no, no. That’s all right, no. This is been great. This is great conversation. You know I love all of this kind of discussion. You and I can go on like this over coffee for hours, right? But let’s talk about why you … I know you have really fallen in love with podcasting. You said 111 episodes now, right? And I know you just celebrated your 100th, and I know you’ve got some more in the can, and they are about to roll out. And you actually, your latest book is … The Exponential Networking Strategy, is really kind of around this idea of podcasting. And I know you really love this strategy.
And your first book was about creating a referral kit and using that referral kit. So, I know you have some really strong ideas about what works, what doesn’t work. Because you’ve tried a lot of different things, and you’ve worked with clients, you’ve tried a lot of different things. So, can you tell us kind of, some of your preferred marketing strategies, or how you go about helping your clients sort of select what works for them? Is there a one-size-fits-all, is there not? What are your thoughts on that?
Steve Gordon: Yeah, I mean, if we want to kind of go down the route of why I’m a big advocate of podcasting, it really isn’t about podcasting as a technology, although it certainly has a little cachet right now. People are downloading podcasts in record numbers. Spotify just made a huge acquisition, to really compete with Apple in the space, which tells me that this, as a medium, is going to be around and continue to grow. And for most businesses, it’s a really good demographic to the people who are listening to it.
But, I don’t think podcasting is something that you do for the audience that it attracts. The audience is wonderful, and it’s what I would call a strategic byproduct. And by that, I mean if we didn’t get the audience with it, it would still be worth doing. So, the audience part is a bonus, where people listen to the podcast. And so if everybody now that’s listening to us is really confused, because-
Davina Frederick: They’re thinking, “Hey, what about me?”
Steve Gordon: Yeah. Well, no, we are really happy you’re here. And what you need to understand about this, though, is that the value from most businesses with a podcast is in the relationships that it allows you to create with people that you want to do business with. And those are created through the conversations that are had just like this, like what we are doing, what you’re listening to. And so, when I first discovered this, it was actually before podcasting technology even existed … In my first business, which was the engineering company, we interviewed several people and we’d put that on … We’d do an interview, we’d burn it to CD, stick it in a padded envelope, put a stamp on it, mail it out to our best prospects, and the people we were networking with, and all of that, as a way to mostly, have an excuse to go and meet with the person that we were interviewing. Because they were somebody we wanted to have a relationship with.
And so, we kind of concocted this thing where “We’ve got this interview service. And I love to interview you. And here’s what we do. We put it on a CD, we mail it out to all of these people. I’m sure they’d love to learn more about you and your business.” And it was way better than trying to network in, or get referred in, or cold call to try and get a contact with somebody. I could just call up and say I had this thing, and, “We’d love to interview you about what you’re an expert at.” And because we were really offering to promote their business, it was pretty easy to get a conversation with people.
So, fast forward a few years, back in 2012, I launched my first podcast. And it worked so well, I stopped, which is a whole other story. But we did 50 episodes, so it ran for about a year. We did weekly, and so, it ran for about a year. I interviewed 50 other business owners. And then it just got to be a lot of work. I didn’t have a big team at the time. And so, I finally just had to kind of give it up because I didn’t have a bandwidth for it. Two years after that, I launched my book. You mentioned Unstoppable Referrals. That was my first book.
And we were not really that well-known before launching that book. And had I not done those 50-something interviews a couple of years earlier, we wouldn’t still be very well-known. But out of those 50, I had built, the people that I had built relationship with through that podcast, when I was ready to launch the book, I reached out to 15 of them. And I said, “I’ve got this,” I actually reached out to more than that, but 15 of them agreed to help promote. And I said, “I’ve got this book coming out. Here’s an advanced copy. I would love to talk with you about sharing this with everyone in your network.” And some of those people had huge networks, and some of them had not-so-huge networks. But 15 people said, “Yeah, I’d be happy to do that.”
And so, when we launched that book, I think it was the second week of July in 2014, we launched it to more success than I could’ve ever imagined. In the first week, we had 5,200, and I think 68 people get the book, which was more than I had in my database at the time. Five times more than I had in my database. We were a number one Amazon business bestseller, which back then, was somewhat of a big deal. Now, people are doing that all the time. And so, it got out there. And in that year, it doubled our business.
Davina Frederick: Wow.
Steve Gordon: And it wasn’t because I wrote the book, it was because I built these 15 relationships. And they introduced me to, because I … Through the book, they introduced me to these 5,000 people. And some of those 5,000 people came and did business with us. Then it still took me a little while, frankly, to connect the dots to the podcast. And so, it’s been now, 2 1/2 years since we launched The Unstoppable CEO Podcast. And I started interviewing people again, because I finally realized, the thing that made all of that work was building these relationships. In that case, they were referral relationships. We have evolved it from there. And we actually, on our podcasts, we interview people who could be great referral relationships, and we also interview people who might be really great clients for us.
It’s a wonderful way to begin a relationship, particularly, if your target market is other business owners. And so, we’ll reach out to a business owner that fits our criteria, and we’ll simply say, “Look, we have this podcast. Here are the people who listen to it.” And we’ve had all sorts of business celebrities on there at this stage, which is another great thing, which we can talk about in a minute. And we asked people, “Hey, if you want to come on, we’ll talk about your business and the great things you’re doing. We’re going to talk about your entrepreneurial journey. And then you’ll have a piece that you can use to go promote your business.” It takes most of the people that we ask about a nanosecond to come back and say yes.
Davina Frederick: Wow.
Steve Gordon: And we are not doing it as necessarily, some kind of bait and switch thing. It doesn’t work like that. As you know, Davina, I kind of live by this philosophy that I call purity of intent, which I learned from another one of our clients. And I just think that phrase crystallizes the way that you ought to approach business, really, really nicely. Purity of intent says if you’re not doing it from a place of sincerity, don’t do it. And so, we when we invite them on, we really mean look, “We want to get to know you, we want to learn how we can best support your business. The first way we know we can do that is by helping you get in front of our audience. And we have this platform.”
Now, we’ve grown that into a fairly large platform. But when we started off, we had, just like everyone else, zero listeners. I didn’t even have my wife or my mother listening to it, because they couldn’t figure out how to download a podcast. So, I mean, literally, we started at zero. And we had to figure out, “How do we make this become a really good business development tool for us, when we don’t have anybody listening to it?” Which is again, that’s the common way that people think that you would make money from a podcast is, you have all these listeners. The best way to do it is build relationships.
And so, we’ve built really great referral relationships, where after we ended the interview and we have some chit chat, and I ask about that other person and what are their business goals, sometimes we’ll uncover opportunities where, “Hey, would it be beneficial if I came in and I gave a presentation? No sales pitch or anything, but gave a presentation about this particular topic?” In our case, it would be about marketing, “to everybody in your network?” And they’ll go, “Yeah, that it be great.” So, we’ve done that for small groups of 20 or 25 people. And think for a minute, if you could round up a group of 20 or 25 potential clients and have somebody else kind of host that for you and endorse you, would that be a good thing in your business?
Davina Frederick: Right.
Steve Gordon: You should be all nodding your heads now, saying, “Yes, that would be good for my business.” And we’ve done it for organizations like SCORE, where we had, I don’t know, I think we had 11- or 1200 people on the webinar. And everything in between. And I don’t really care how big it is, if it’s the right group of people, I’m going to show up and I’m going to share our knowledge and wisdom with them, because that’s going to drive the business forward. So, we’ve been able to create those kinds of relationships. And we’ve also been able to create relationships with potential clients. And it’s natural, and it’s easy. You start the relationship off helping them and building a little bit of a friendship before you get to doing business, which is the way it actually works in the real world.
Davina Frederick: You know, I also think that it is interesting, when you were talking about the first podcast that you did, and then you write your book, and you only had 15 people. And that’s all it took. People seem to think that you have to take … You and I have talked about this before, is that people seem to think that you have to have this big list, or these big numbers, or this big … But a lot of times, all it takes are a handful of really good solid relationships. But you never know what those relationships are going to be. You never know which ones of those are going to be. So, it’s important to keep seeking and looking for those relationships, and really focus on developing the relationship.
Like I said before, when you and I, I read your book, I followed you for a while, and then I think you invited me to … You came down here in Orlando to Winter Park and gave an event. You invited me to that. I went to that. And then we had several conversations. At no point did I ever feel any sort of pressure for anything. It was years. It was over time. It was sort of get-to-know-you kind of stuff, right? And then when there was something that you felt like, “Oh, you know, I think I can help you with this,” you said, “I think I can help you with this.” And I said, “Oh, that’s great. I think I would like that.” And maybe it’s because you took the time to develop the relationship.
Steve Gordon: Yeah, I think all the money in business is in the relationships. And I know you’re a master at social media. I am not nearly as good. But one of the things that I see a lot is that people want to substitute doing a lot of activity on things like Facebook, and LinkedIn, and Twitter, and all of that, and they want to substitute that for building the relationships. And really, I think it works the other way around, where you have the relationships, and then you have all these other sort of, touch points, which can help. But they don’t substitute for the deeper relationship. And I think it’s pretty easy to delude ourselves into thinking that we are somehow making progress with all this activity, when we are not actually connecting with people. And so, we use social media a lot, but it’s a supportive foundational kind of thing that’s running that enhances the real relationships that we are trying to build.
Davina Frederick: And see, that’s the key. When you talk about social media, and being a master of social media, I am not on all the social channels and all that kind of stuff. I will play around and kind of experiment with some different ones, and see … And I tell people, I say that you don’t have to be on all the different social channels. You find anything that works for you, and where your prospective clients are. But what I do is, I have one that I prefer, one or two that I prefer. And then I use them to enhance a relationship, or to engage, or to start a relationship, the way that you would any … LinkedIn is a great tool for helping you do some reconnaissance and find people that you might want to meet, and maybe find a way to engage with them that you might not otherwise … you might be able to find somebody that you might otherwise not be able to meet and get access to.
So, that’s a great tool for that. Facebook’s a great tool to deepen relationships, because you can sort of find out, by just being on there, you can sort of get to know people personally, because you get that sort of daily interaction that you see pictures of their kids and things like that, that you might normally not see. And so then, when you see them in person, you can say, “Oh, how was your cruise that you just went on? I loved your pictures. Tell me about it.” And then you have a point of conversation. But it’s not meant to be a substitute for a real relationship. It’s meant to be an enhancement.
My relationships with people, they may start that way. There is a lot of times I’ve met people through Facebook that I otherwise never would have met. But those relationships are then, taken off Facebook into conversation. So, they are taken onto Messenger, and then on to Zoom if they live in another place, or maybe in person, if they’re local, or if I’m traveling, or whatever. So, it’s integrated. And then there are some relationships that are not meant to be anything more than just through social media. It depends. So, every relationship, it depends on what it is, and depends on what you want. Like not everybody is meant to be your client. Not everybody’s meant to be your friend, you know, on that level, right? So, I think that’s just how you have to look at social media. You have to take it for what it is, right?
Steve Gordon: Oh, absolutely.
Davina Frederick: It’s like, everybody on your email list is not meant to be your client. I got a wonderful email today from … We sent out an episode of my podcast today. And I was really excited about it, because it was a great episode with a friend of mine I met through Facebook that I have never met in person. And we have become friends. I just absolutely adore her. She’s wonderful. Karen Gray. She’s a wonderful coach, and she has a lot of experience in sales. And it was a great podcast. That episode went out, and I got an email from a colleague of mine I used to work with years ago, back before I became an attorney when I was just in my marketing days. Just sent a note that said, “Wow, I get so much out of your emails every week. And I know they are helping a lot of people.”
Now, he’s at a point in his career where he doesn’t necessarily need a lot of the lessons that I’m teaching now, but he was just sending me kind of an “Atta boy” sort of thing. So, not everybody on my list is a prospective client of mine. You know? Not everybody on social media is a prospective client of mine. But you never know who they might share something with, you know?
Steve Gordon: Absolutely. Absolutely. Well, and coming back around to your kind of original question about podcasts, one of the reasons that I’m such a big advocate is that I’ve been working with business owners on their marketing for a long time, now, eight years, nine years, now. Time flies. And one of the things that I’ve discovered is that surprisingly enough, most firm owners have no desire to become professional marketers. And it took me a while to figure that out, because I’m pretty passionate about this stuff. And I think it’s pretty important to a business, right?
Davina Frederick: Right.
Steve Gordon: But I realized after working with a lot of clients that they don’t want to become professional marketers. And things like writing a newsletter, which I get great joy out of … I used to write a daily newsletter. I think you were around and, on our list, back in those days. And I wrote over 1,000 emails, one every week day, for about four years, to everybody that was subscribed to our email list. I love doing that stuff. Not everyone is as crazy as I am.
Davina Frederick: Yeah, I’m a writer. I’m a writer by degree, by passion, by everything, and I am not interested in writing a daily newsletter. So, I don’t know, you are a special breed for that.
Steve Gordon: Yeah, and I haven’t done it for a couple of years now. And we do weekly, now, in addition to the podcast. But one of the magical things about a podcast, particularly when you’re interviewing people and you’re using the interviews to build these relationships, right, which is the main focus … But again, the strategic byproduct of it is, you get this really great recording. And you can then take that recording, and using all this wonderful fancy podcasting technology, upload that, and have it go to iTunes, and Google play, and Stitch, and all those places, and onto your website, where you can get a link, and you can send that out in your email list.
If you do that once a week, you’re spending maybe, between two and four hours a month on marketing, you don’t need to write a newsletter now. Because you just talk to your newsletter. And the surprising thing is, the people who get it are actually probably going to like that more than if you had written it. Particularly if you are targeting business owners who are busy, and who might drive to meetings, they’re going to listen to that in the car. I listen to podcasts all the time in the car. And so, it’s a very easy and accessible way to get your marketing done, have it be in your voice, and all of that, and do it while you are actually making the relationships that you really want to make in your business.
Davina Frederick: Yeah, yeah. You and I have done some other work together, and it took a while for you to kind of, talk me into doing a podcast. Not talk me into it, but it was one of the things on the table you and I discussed. And I was like, “Oh, you know, what about this thing, and what about that thing?” And we kept sort of, coming back to the podcast. And it wasn’t that I was … It sounded like a good idea, it was just one of the items on my list to do. But I think for me, it took me a while to wrap my head around the idea of, will there be … I was still caught up in the whole idea of an audience, and thinking that the value is in the audience. And it took me a while to understand what you were saying about value being in the relationships of the people being on the podcast as a marketing tool.
So then, that started to make a lot of sense to me. And then, of course, for me, I just really … I come from a journalism background before I got into marketing and all that. That’s what my degree is in. And I did a lot of interviewing back in my days. Because what I wanted to be was a correspondent. And so, I live interviewing. And I’ve always been really, a curious interviewer. I like that aspect of it. And so, for me, it’s just fun. It’s just a fun thing to do. I’m naturally curious. I love, out of all these people that I’m connected to on Facebook, ironically, and we talked about social media and how being good at social media and everything, so this sort of, integrates my life a little bit. Because I have all these connections on LinkedIn, I have all these connections on Facebook, of really interesting and talented people.
And I am also a member of the Forbes Coaching Council. So there are just a ton of people. My issue is going to be, “I’m interviewing as fast as I can,” kind of thing. Because there’s so many people I want to know, and know more about. Because it’s just a fun thing to do. So, there’s that part of it, as well. It just enhances your life, right?
Steve Gordon: Yeah, it’s a blast. So, let’s talk about this audience business, because there is some benefit there. I said at the beginning, it’s a strategic byproduct. What I mean by that is, there is strategic value in this byproduct that we are creating and this contact that we are creating, and the audience that will grow over time. And so, one of the things we’ve discovered, after producing all the podcasts that we produce for our clients, and after running ours for two years, is that the audience tends to grow as you produce more episodes.
Davina Frederick: Right.
Steve Gordon: And part of that is just having a back catalog of episodes. It’s just helpful in that process. It’s just part of the natural evolution of it. And so, it tends to grow over time. We got to a point after we’d been about a year into our podcast, where I would be on initial calls, sales call, initial consultation, whatever you want to call it, with a potential client, and I would start hearing things like, “Oh, yeah, my friend ‘so and so’ suggested I listen to your podcast a month or two ago, and I’ve been listening to it.” In fact, I had one guy tell me he had gone on a week or two before that, a business trip, driving, about four hours each way. So he had about eight hours in the car, or something like that.
And he listens to our podcast all the way there and all the way back. So, I got to spend eight hours in the car with this guy. When was the last time you got to spend eight hours with a potential client, with them listening to you, listening to your ideas, your unique approach to what you do? There’s this interesting quality, when someone listens your voice, they feel like they know you. There’s this familiarity that happens. Davina, I don’t think you been to a conference yet since we launched your podcasts, but I will tell you, it’ll happen. Give it maybe, six months or so, but then you’ll go to a meeting. And I have had people recognize me at a conference. They are total strangers to me, but they know me from the podcast. And they’ll recount stories that I’ve told on the podcast. And it’s part creepy, because there’s this person-
Davina Frederick: And part awesome.
Steve Gordon: But it’s also really cool, that you can have that kind of impact on someone. And so, we know now, that the strategic byproduct of the audience that has built up over time also has a lot of value to us. But, the way that we made the podcast produce for us early on was directly through the relationships. That’s still probably the primary way we do, but we also get now, now that we’ve been doing it for 2+ years, we regularly get clients who are just listeners. And so, there’s huge value in doing it this way. And when you send that out … We don’t get angry emails from people saying, “Stop sending these podcasts. It’s too much.” I mean, occasionally, yes, we’ll get a couple of people unsubscribe from our email list. That’s okay.
Davina Frederick: Right.
Steve Gordon: But for the most part, people really value these types of conversations. If you’re having good conversations with smart people, you’re going to create some really great stuff, probably better than anything you could have written on your own.
Davina Frederick: Well, and I’ve been the person who has binged on your … I’ve driven to Tallahassee and back and binged on your podcasts. So, I’ve been that person who has binged on your podcasts. You’ve driven with me to Tallahassee and back. And what is fascinating is, I’ve learned some interesting things. What sticks out of my mind was your guest who was a pro golfer. And I’m not a golf person, but that was really an interesting podcast for me. So, you learn things about topics that you otherwise, may not be exposed to, which I find fascinating.
Before we wrap up, one of the things that is important to me is … You know that I work with a lot of lawyers. And so, I do think about … When I’m creating my podcasts, I do think about the content of the podcast. And I want them to be thinking about how something might be applicable to them, there is a take away for them on the podcast. I know that lawyers often have this idea in their mind, because I am one, that, “This won’t work for my business,” right, “because I have certain ethical rules,” or they can’t imagine how this would work for their business. Can I create a podcast that, how could this work for my business? This wouldn’t work for me like it would work for other businesses.
I know that podcasting works for coaches, for lawyers, and people on how … There’s a lot of podcasts out there on how to run businesses for lawyers. But I can really see how lawyers can have a very interesting podcast about their different areas of practice, and really get into some of these topics, like family law, or trademark law, or intellectual property, and really educate people, small business, talking about legal aspects of running a business and things to watch out for, and maybe even get some other lawyers on their show to make those connections to help grow their business, and other types of referral sources that they want to connect with. Can you speak about that? I know you’ve worked with people of all different kinds of businesses, but what are your thoughts on that?
Steve Gordon: Yeah, we work with … So, there are probably two scenarios if we are talking a law firm. And if you’re in another profession and you’re listening to this, this answer will work for you, too. If I were in a local law practice, for example, or a local professional service, I would probably go out and focus on interviewing the business owners that I ultimately wanted to do business with that I needed a relationship with, and needed to deepen that relationship. And I’d also go out and interview the potential centers of influence that could refer me to their clients. And that’s how I would build out who I would talk to.
Now, if I wanted to also demonstrate my own expertise, to sort of create some authority and build that credibility, then at the end of each episode, I might have a segment called The Legal Minute, where you take one to two minutes, and you offer a quick piece of advice. And if you do it that way, you’re going to reap immediate benefits, because you’re going to be talking with people that could become a client of yours. And so, if you’re doing that locally … In fact, one of the best ways to do it is to brand it around the community that you’re in. We have an IT consultant that we do a podcast for out of Boston. And his podcast is really more about the business community in Boston. It’s about the people he wants to connect with, not so much about what he does.
We had a good chuckle. I said, “Can you think of very many people that would want to listen to a podcast about IT? And do you think that would advance your cause?” And he laughed a little bit and he said, “No.” I think that’s true of law, I think that’s true of engineering, I think that’s true of architecture. You name it. We are more interested in the stuff that we do than any of our clients ever are. But if we go, and approach them and talk to them about them, about what’s important to them, about what they’re doing, the impact they are making in the community and the world, then they’re going to jump at the chance to come and have that conversation with us. So, that’s how I’d approach that.
Now, if I’m doing this beyond a local area, then I’m probably going to try and tailor it to be industry-specific. And in that case, I might tailor it towards maybe, the most important niche that we work in, in the firm, and focus it on there. It’s relatively easy, particularly if you’ve got a mid-sized firm, or you’ve got a couple of different disciplines, and maybe someone in the firm who’s kind of the lead in each of those areas. You just have multiple podcasts. And each of those people is sort of going out, interviewing the people that they are trying to land as clients or as centers of influence in those practice areas. And you can do that locally or regionally. So, that’s how I would approach it.
Davina Frederick: And it’s not really … Again, going back to initially … When you were first doing this thing, it’s not really about whether you got five people listening to the actual … going to their iPhone and pulling up your podcast and listening to it, or not. It is really about taking that thing and sending it out to people, sending it out to people on your past clients, your current clients, and saying, “Here’s something of value to you, that you might want to listen to.” And sharing that information with people. And also, with the people that you’re interviewing, saying, “Here’s something that you may want to share with your people on your list in your community, whether that’s on social media, on your LinkedIn connections, or your email, or that kind of thing,” right? So, it’s getting it out there and sharing it with your community, and them sharing it with their community, and having that as a resource for people, and that kind of thing, right?
Steve Gordon: Absolutely, absolutely.
Davina Frederick: Yeah. I think we’ve had a wonderful conversation. I really appreciate you sharing so much information with me. As usual, I always learn a lot when I have a conversation with you. And I enjoy it. I have enjoyed it a lot. Is there anything that, before we wrap up … I know we’ve kind of gone a little bit over an hour, and I appreciate it. Is there anything that we want to leave, a final thought we want to leave everybody with, before we finish our call today?
Steve Gordon: Well, I think if you’re listening to this, you want to grow your firm. And again, we talked about this at the beginning, but I think this is the most important thing to wrap your head around, is that for the most part, you’re unknown. And that’s the biggest problem that you’re solving for. And you don’t have to solve for that by going out and creating a following of thousands of people. But if you get really specific about over the course of the next year, who are the few dozen people that if you had a relationship with them, and a percentage of them became clients, it would really dramatically change your business? Now you’ve got something you can act on. And you can now become visible for the right group of people. And I think that’s the takeaway. There’s lots of ways to do that. We talked about a few ways today. But it’s having that clarity that’s the most important thing. So, that would be the takeaway.
Davina Frederick: Absolutely. I think that’s fantastic advice. And I appreciate it. Tell everybody where we can find out more about you, and get a copy of your books, which I think are fantastic. I’ve read both of them. And also, everybody’s going to want to get on the list for your podcast, because it’s excellent. So, if you could give that information.
Steve Gordon: Let’s do this. We’re going to set up a special page just for your listeners. If they go to Unstoppableceo.net/solotoceo, all together, no punctuation in there, so Unstoppableceo.net/solotoceo, what we’ll do is, we’ll … on that page, we will give you access, there will be a link there where you can get free access to my latest book, which is The Exponential Network Strategy, which talks about how we use these interviews in the podcasts to do business development. And we’ll set it up so that everybody that’s listening can get the e-book and the audiobook. And we’ve actually got a video version of it, if you’d like to see it that way. And you can get that for free. And we’ll also, on that page, put a link to our guide to selling professional services. And so, for anybody that wants to go get those things, we’ll put them up there.
Davina Frederick: Wonderful. Thanks so much, Steve. I really appreciate it. It’s been a great way to spend an hour, and I really enjoyed it a lot. I will talk to you soon.
Steve Gordon: Thanks, Davina. Take care.
Davina Frederick: Thank you.