Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Fractional CMOs As Strategy Architects

Fractional CMOs As Strategy Architects written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with Angelo Ponzi

Angelo Ponzi, a guest on the Duct Tape Marketing PodcastIn this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I interview Angelo Ponzi. He is a marketing and branding strategist who works with small to middle-market companies as their Fractional CMO. His company, Craft, focuses on three strategic pillars for success: Insights, Brand, and Plan to develop effective and efficient programs for building enduring brands and sustainable business growth.

Key Takeaway:

Fractional CMOs besides being a flexible and cost-effective solution for businesses, contribute to long-term growth through strategy development, messaging refinement, and navigating marketing challenges. Angelo highlights the importance of balancing new business endeavors with client service within the dynamic of operating one’s own agency. Staying actively engaged in networking and marketing efforts is essential to remain present in the Fractional CMO arena to seize potential opportunities.

Questions I ask Angelo Ponzi:

  • [01:12] How do you define the term Fractional CMO?
  • [02:02] What kind of business and what kind of challenges are they facing that you think makes an ideal fit for a fractional strategic marketing hire?
  • [03:34] If somebody hires a CMO, do they feel like they’re also hiring an implement mentor or are they strictly separate functions?
  • [04:57] Is there ever some kind of turf wars, even though you’re brought in to help them orchestrate better?
  • [06:25] Besides the cost component, what are some other things that you might suggest that the Fractional CMO model is a good idea for businesses?
  • [09:52] Are you finding there’s much more recognition of the concept and the term particularly to midsize business owners?
  • [11:04] What are some of the hard lessons you’ve learned being a Fractional CMO?
  • [13:05] How do you scale this model?
  • [18:03] Do you find that you end up focusing on the same thing pretty frequently?

More About Angelo Ponzi:

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John Jantsch (00:00): Hey, this is John, and before we get started, I have a gift for you for being such an amazing listener. Everyone's talking about AI these days, but most of it's about tactics. We've created a series of prompts we use to create strategy, and you can have them for free. Just go to and grab yours. Now. Let's get started.

(00:30): Hello and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch, and my guest today is Angelo Ponzi. He's a marketing and branding strategist that works with small to mid-market companies as their fractional chief marketing officer, fractional CMO. His company Craft focuses on three strategic pillars for success, insights brand and plan to develop effective and efficient programs for building enduring brands and sustainable business growth. So Angela, welcome to the show,

Angelo Ponzi (01:03): John. Thank you very much. I really appreciate it.

John Jantsch (01:05): So I still think there's a lot of confusion around it, like a lot of terms in marketing. So I'm just going to go ahead and say, if somebody says you, you're a fractional CMO, what is that? How do you describe that? How do you define that term?

Angelo Ponzi (01:17): Yeah. Well, I think simply it's a part-time outsource contract situation. So for me, fractional being that it's not a short-term contract, it's a long-term engagement where I'm going into the organization or depending on my remote client, where I'm engaged on a weekly basis, sometimes daily basis with them. And so think of me as the guy down the hallway, not the guy across the country. Yeah.

John Jantsch (01:48): So I mean, would you describe a business that you think is a typical great fit for that? I mean, most people are familiar with the C-Suite roles, a chief marketing officer inside of an organization, but what kind of business or what kind of challenge are they facing that you think makes an ideal fit for a fractional strategic marketing hire?

Angelo Ponzi (02:10): Sure. In most of the companies that I've dealt with, they have some kind of a marketing manager or a team in there. Typically, they tend to be a little more transactional in nature, just tactically oriented. And so I hear things like, our sales aren't growing, our messaging is not correct. Our competition is eating our lunch. And so looking at those kinds of issues, so they can't get to that next level with someone who's more of a tactical transactional person. So they may start to think of a strategic person, however, a full-time CMO doesn't necessarily come cheap. And so they wrestle with how do I get a senior person without having to have all that expense? And that's typically what get engaged or when they'll call me, because again, depending on the client, how much time I'm engaged, but I sit in that C-suite level and helping develop strategies and directions and messaging and competitive differentiators, and then drive those down into the people that actually execute.

John Jantsch (03:21): Do you get yourself in engagements where they're like, Angelo, this is great, but who's going to do all this? I mean, is there ever an expectation that you are going to do the work or that any strategic, if somebody hires A CMO, do they feel like they're also hiring an implement mentor, or is it strictly separate functions?

Angelo Ponzi (03:43): Yeah, well, that's always the dilemma for me. It's my nature to tend to go across the line and start facilitating and doing, but I'm pretty clear upfront is what my purpose is. If someone calls me and says, look it, I need a website, I need a social media or digital campaign, my reaction is let's talk about your messaging, your strategies, and if that's not correct, I have to start to the left, right? I got to talk to your customers that look at the competition, examine the marketplace and work our way towards execution. So I like to refer to myself sometimes as an architect, I'm building that foundational strategy. And then once the plans are in place, then I will sometimes call myself a general contractor and therefore I'll bring in outside people to execute or work with the internal teams. But I do cross the fence, but a lot of times they're like, I'm not going to pay you to frankly write a blog. It's too expensive.

John Jantsch (04:44): Yeah. So do you find internal teams, I hear this a lot. Do you find that sometimes there's some turf? Like, wait a minute, I thought that's what we did. Why are we bringing in this outside person doesn't know our business? Is there ever some turf wars sometimes, even though you're brought in maybe to help them orchestrate better?

Angelo Ponzi (05:03): I can honestly say, actually, I can honestly say it's only happened maybe once or twice where I'll spend, I'm thinking of a technology company. A couple of years ago they brought me in, the marketing person was out of college for a couple of years. He had his own vision. They brought me in, I revamped everything, redid all their messaging, their plans, and then here's the plan to implement. And within three months, he was back doing what he wanted to do because they didn't know how to really manage him. But I would say in most situations, I'm very collaborative, so it's not my way or the highway. So I find that even after I leave, they're implementing. I have a company in the streaming space that I helped them when they launched. That was five years ago. When I see him constantly, he'll be the first to say, I'm still working on the strategies you gave us five years ago. And so that's really rewarding. But yeah, that is always a challenge, right? Because not invented here, somebody wants to put their own mark on it.

John Jantsch (06:08): Yeah. I'm sure there are some cases, I'm going to assume there's some cases you've run into where they're considering hiring you versus considering hiring a full-time strategic hire. If you were trying to help somebody work through the pros and cons, besides the cost component, which is obviously a huge selling point on the fractional approach, what are some other things that you might suggest that why the fractional CMO model is a good idea for them?

Angelo Ponzi (06:39): Well, partially too. It's really what does that strategic leader need to do and what is the long-term play with that leader? Are you going to have somebody who's who can totally stay engaged throughout the time and do all the things that you need 'em to do, otherwise they start to gravitate into the tactical and then you don't really need that. I have a current client where we're looking, I'm filling the strategic leader role, and at the end of the day, they don't need a full-time me, but they need more worker bees, if you will. And so my recommendation is keep me engaged. Of course, that's what I would like, but instead of hiring someone like me full-time, take that money and then let's invest in more people at the real marketing level that the tactical level that needed to get things done. I was brought in last year with a consumer products company that had a CMO.

(07:35): They let him go, and he called me and said, Hey, I'm thinking about hiring. I think I need a fractional. And then about three weeks later, he called me and said, no, you know what? I decided to go. And then three months later, he called me and said, I haven't found anybody. I think my original idea was great, come in for 90 days, help me. And I was there for eight months before we brought in. I helped bring in my own replacement at that point in time. They really needed somebody there. And there was a situation where I was there three days a week, so I literally was in the office and spending the majority of my time working for that organization.

John Jantsch (08:12): Do you find that to me, one of the benefits I think too, is a lot of times you bring in that CMO, well, they're going to say, we need to build a team internally. And so they start kind of down the traditional path of hiring, whereas I'm assuming that in many cases you kind of look at this and say, no, we just need this expertise to do this one thing, and then we can rent this to do this one thing. And I mean, you're really able to put together a much more affordable approach for exactly what they need, aren't you?

Angelo Ponzi (08:41): Yeah, no, absolutely. It's current client, they had a digital firm primarily writing blogs, and I analyzed it, and every blog had to be rewritten. And after eight, nine months, you would've thought that they understood the business. So I tried to engage with them, and ultimately we ended up parting ways. But instead of hiring another firm just like them, I went out and found a content writer that for a fraction of the cost, I could have twice as many blogs for literally a third of the money that I was paying them already. And so that is one of the things I look at. To me, I always look at any client I work with is my business. I was fortunate to, over the years, I grew a couple of businesses, I was fortunate to sell them, and I understand that a dollar is a dollar, and if I have to watch it for me, I have to watch it for you. So it's really about maximizing the talent and the dollars that we have.

John Jantsch (09:42): I have been doing this approach probably for 15 years, but didn't use the term fractional CMO because it didn't mean anything to a small mid-size business at the time. Are you finding there's a much more recognition of the concept and the term when you go out and talk to particularly mid-size business owners?

Angelo Ponzi (10:00): Yeah, absolutely. And I'll go back. I mean, I'm heading into my 10th year, and in those first three or four years, it was like, I don't understand what a fractional is. Are you contract? Are you outsourced? What are you, right? So there was different terms floating around. I haven't had anybody really recently say they don't understand it. I just say, you're renting my time basically during the course of the week. So I think it's better understood. I'd even think some of the value of having someone like myself that clients find now versus because it's a tough decision, do you spend that kind of money? I had a client the other day that, again, looking at bringing in more workers than strategic leaders, and he said to me, well, what if we could hire you? And I suppose my answer was, you can't. It's not what I want to do because I knew I would eventually, I would just be pulling my hair out because they don't need someone full-time like me.

John Jantsch (11:00): So as you've grown this and scaled it yourself, are there some hard lessons learned that you might share to say these are some of the landmines that you might look for?

Angelo Ponzi (11:14): Well, I think first of all, for me, and unfortunately it was a very hard lesson. I had an opportunity back in maybe 17, I think it was, to go in as a fractional, but it was like an eight month contract. And I was like, this is great. The money was great. I was excited, and when the contract was over, I was sitting there. I have no business. I wasn't doing any marketing, I wasn't keeping the pipeline. So anybody out there listening, if you're doing what I do or something even similar, having your own agency, I mean, it is a constant balance of doing new business while you're servicing the clients. I personally now, I would say in the course of the week, I spend a full day throughout the week, but networking, doing my own marketing, doing stuff like this and just making sure that I'm staying ever present, because you just never know.

(12:09): I mean, I have one prospect that I pitched in February. He literally said, you're hired, but there's no contract yet. Now it's August. I still think you'll come around, but I'm on his time. He's not on my time. So that's probably the biggest lesson that I've learned and making sure that you have a point of view and you put yourself out there. I mean, I have a blogging program, a newsletter program. I do emails, I do LinkedIn, I do public speaking. I just want to be able to have content. It's all content to me to refer

John Jantsch (12:44): People too. Absolutely. Yeah. We actually teach people how to start this model, and I tell them, especially when they're just getting started, I said, the thing nobody tells you is about 50% of this job is selling, but that's true of really any business. When you start it, that kind of leads to one of the challenges I see a lot of people, how do you scale this model? I mean, in the traditional sense, somebody's A CMO, they jump out on their own. They go, I'm going to be a fractional CMO, and they end up selling a fourth of their time and basically saying, I'm fully employed. I'm getting paid well for my time, but I can't really scale a business. Have you run into that? Have you addressed that?

Angelo Ponzi (13:25): Yeah, it's a really interesting challenge. So before I formed my agency, for example, this was many years ago, I actually, they didn't call it fractional, but I broke off as a consultant. And so I left an agency, decided to be a strategic planner for agencies, and then eventually I came to the conclusion after about three years, why am I doing this for you? Why don't I do it for myself? And so I kind of scaled that. So in this particular model for me, I have identified other CMOs, fractional CMOs or VP leaders, if you will, that are out on their own that I can partner with. One of my biggest clients last year is actually a competitor, but I have a background in research. So they don't do research. They don't do really branding and messaging and positioning. They're more kind of internal management. And so we compliment each other.

(14:28): So one of the things that I did to scale is I identified in my trading area who my competitors are. I've literally met with every one of 'em trying to figure out are we really competitors or can we work together? And I would say the majority of 'em I can work with. And so I've also identified in some of the other key areas. So I have a business analyst that works with me that I pretty much dominate. I have a data scientist that works with me. I have a brand strategist that actually I worked with for years, even in my own agency that happened to, I lost their job during covid and now works for me as kind of a behind the scenes. So I've been scaling by putting other people in place, frankly, to do some of the work that allows me to continue to devote some of my time to networking and building the business, but also when I have to be in front of a client,

John Jantsch (15:23): The mistake I see some people make is just like, you get 25% of my time, what do you want? And it's like they're dictating. There's no scope in agencies. We'd scope things out. And I see a lot of people when they do these consulting things, they don't do that. And so they're sort of at the whim of a client who doesn't really know what they need. And I think that's a key change that I think can allow people to scale this.

Angelo Ponzi (15:51): Yeah, well, one of the things I did to get around that is I created an assessment that I give at the beginning of every engagement just to really try to understand where they think they are, where they really are, where they think they are, but also among the team, I look for alignment, internal alignment. And so that has allowed me to actually through the analysis to say, okay, here's where we've got some real issues and some problems you want to be, I'm just going through this with a client now where when I joined them back in February, they had a $5 million goal for this year increase in revenue. Well, as I started to dig into the data, it's like, where'd that number come from? Your average growth is only 8% over the last three years. How do you go from 8% frankly to a 37% increase?

(16:39): I don't see how you're getting there. So some number was picked out of the air. So trying to bring, creating strategies, now that's giving me guidance as opposed to, what do you think? If I would've just said, okay, I'm going to support a 37% increase, which I did originally, and then eventually I've swung them back to say, okay, how are we going to get, maybe it's 15%, not the eight, but the 15. And I literally just said this to one of my marketing managers today. There's an endless amount of things to do in marketing. You've got a plan and you always go back to the plan and just if you got, you are unsure of your messaging or somebody in sales is pushing back on you, try to understand what's happening with them. Go talk to them, go listen to a call. So I find that sometimes in that marketing manager role, they tend to go, oh, well, that was my assignment. I did it and now what do I do?

John Jantsch (17:34): Yeah. It's interesting. I find that we spend as much time, especially early on telling people what not to do as opposed to what to do, because always this temptation to say, oh, there's a new thing out there. We have to do it. As opposed to doing any of them, right?

Angelo Ponzi (17:51): Yeah, exactly.

John Jantsch (17:52): And that's what I was going to ask you kind of halfway answered it anyway, but let's say we get through the assessment. Obviously the assessment's going to tell you maybe some direction, but do you typically focus on, do you find that you end up focusing on the same thing pretty frequently? What to fix first, so to speak?

Angelo Ponzi (18:10): Actually, no, because they have, it's like our sales aren't growing or we're not achieving, or we think we have an issue. And I have found that if I can execute my assessment in the process that I do, I can uncover things that they're not thinking about. Good case in point, this was last year working with a manufacturing rep organization, been around for 70 plus years. And so in talking to them and say, our clients love us, they're mechanical engineers, they know us. We've been, we're a focus. We're always included, but I got them to agree to let me talk to their customers. Originally it was like, wow, I don't waste your time. What we found is that they were right. Everybody knows them, everybody includes them. However, their primary customers were about ready to retire. The new generation of engineers had no idea who they were or knew them, but they were now thinking about environmental products and sustainability products, not the gas guzzlers, if you will, that are being put out. And so all of a sudden we identified a potential opportunity that they would've never seen until it happened. So now they were able to get ahead of it. So it's that kind of stuff that we get to uncover, but that wasn't one, that wasn't something they told me to go do. That was just something that came, cream of the cop came rising up and we able to tackle it.

John Jantsch (19:41): Yeah, I have had so many insights over the years by talking to people's customers. I mean, they know very little about why their customers buy from them sometimes. It's pretty amazing, isn't it? Or they make assumptions that are wrong

Angelo Ponzi (19:53): Or what the salespeople tell 'em. Right? Right. There's a question I always like to ask is I ask the clients, do you think your clients are buying, are aware of all the products and services you sell? And almost always they say no. And to me it's like, well then what are you doing to educate them? You could be leaving a lot of money on the table if they just knew more. And then we find out I asked those questions on the flip side, and almost across the board, the client will say, now I don't really understand all the stuff they sell. I only know this. So right there, there's a gap, right. So anyway,

John Jantsch (20:30): It's fine. Yeah, that's actually some easy money sometimes, isn't it? Well, Angela, I appreciate you taking a moment to stop by. You want to invite people to connect with you anywhere or find out more about your work.

Angelo Ponzi (20:39): Sure. That would be great. The best place, of course, is to go to LinkedIn. You can connect with me there. That's the easiest. Also, all my contact info is there. As far as my website, I actually encourage people to sign up. I do publish a newsletter through LinkedIn every couple of weeks, and so do that. And that's the best way to find out more about me.

John Jantsch (20:59): Awesome. Well, again, I appreciate you taking a few moments out of your day, and hopefully we'll run into you one of these days out there on the road.

Angelo Ponzi (21:05): Yeah, absolutely. Thank you so much. I really appreciate the opportunity.

from Duct Tape Marketing

Monday, August 28, 2023

5 Effective Goal-Setting Tips for Small Business Owners To Save Time And Money

5 Effective Goal-Setting Tips for Small Business Owners To Save Time And Money written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

There's a constant, niggling question that haunts every small business owner: "Am I doing enough in my business?" This is often followed by: "Is my marketing strategy hitting the mark?" If you've found yourself pondering these questions, you're not alone. The complexity of marketing today often leaves us wondering if we are doing too much or too little. It's a balancing act, trying to keep pace with the evolving digital landscape without squandering precious resources.

As the founder of Duct Tape Marketing, I've watched the scene evolve, with businesses trying to navigate the maze that is modern marketing. Often, I find entrepreneurs trying to be everywhere at once, which, in my experience, leads to two things: wasted time and wasted resources. A scattergun approach might cover more ground, but it rarely hits the target.

The Realities of Entrepreneurial Marketing

There's no sugarcoating it: today's entrepreneurial world is complex, with an array of marketing channels at your disposal. Social media alone offers a plethora of platforms – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Snapchat, TikTok… the list goes on. Add to this email marketing, SEO, content marketing, PPC advertising, influencer marketing, affiliate marketing - and you're facing a veritable buffet of choices.

With so many options and so little time, it's easy to feel overwhelmed. But rather than throwing your hands up in defeat or jumping haphazardly from one strategy to another, it's critical to devise a marketing plan. A well-thought-out, strategic approach helps you focus on the strategies that work best for your business.

5 Effective Goal-Setting Tips

5 Effective Goal-Setting Tips for Small Business Owners to help them stop wasting time and start focusing on high-impact activities that drive business growth and enhance customer engagement.

To help you create a more efficient and effective marketing plan, here are five goal-setting tips to consider:

1. Focus on Key Marketing Strategies

Don't fall into the trap of following every new marketing trend. Instead, focus on the key strategies that align with your business goals and customer needs.

2. Prioritize High-Payoff Tasks

All tasks are not created equal. Identify those that offer the highest payoff for your investment. This could be SEO optimization, targeted email campaigns, strategic partnerships, or another high-impact initiative.

3. Avoid Non-Productive Marketing Channels

It's essential to know where your ideal customers spend their time. If they aren't active on a certain platform, there's no point in wasting resources there.

4. Allocate Time and Effort Wisely

After identifying the most effective channels, invest appropriate resources into making them work for you. This could mean hiring a social media manager or spending more time developing high-quality blog content.

5. Consistently Evaluate and Adjust

Lastly, remember that marketing strategies should be fluid, not static. Continually track and assess the performance of your marketing efforts and be ready to adjust your strategy when necessary.

Are you wasting money with your marketing efforts?

Embark on a journey to uncover your business's untapped potential with our Gap Analysis. Turn chaos into clarity and see your vision come to life, driving your marketing strategy and propelling your business toward success.

Why You Can't (And Shouldn't) Be Everywhere

As a small business owner, you might feel pressured to have a presence on every available marketing channel. Resist this urge. Instead, identify your ideal customers, find out where they hang out, and focus your resources there. By being strategic and selective, you can maximize your marketing impact and save valuable time and effort.

The Power of a Marketing Strategy

A well-crafted marketing strategy not only guides your efforts but also informs you of what not to do. It's a map that helps you navigate the vast marketing landscape, avoiding unnecessary detours and dead ends. This strategy-centric approach allows you to build momentum by focusing on key areas and tracking your results, which is essential for growth.

If you're feeling overwhelmed or stuck, it might be time to reevaluate your current marketing strategy and learn about the components to create a good one. Remember, it's not about doing everything—it's about doing the right things.

To aid you in your marketing journey, consider our Gap Analysis. This tool helps you uncover untapped potential and inefficiencies in your current marketing strategy, transforming chaos into clarity. It's a powerful first step towards a more efficient and effective marketing approach.

Remember, in marketing and in business, focus is key. Instead of scattering your efforts across every platform and strategy, hone in on what truly works for your business. Stop wasting time and resources, start maximizing your marketing strategy today. Your future self will thank you.

from Duct Tape Marketing

Weekend Favs August 26

Weekend Favs August 26 written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

My weekend blog post routine includes posting links to a handful of tools or great content I ran across during the week.

I don’t go into depth about the finds, but I encourage you to check them out if they sound interesting. The photo in the post is a favorite for the week from an online source or one I took on the road.

  • Shuffll  – An AI-driven video creation studio that makes it super easy to create incredible videos, as if you had an in-house production team for a fraction of the cost and time.
  • Popcard – This tool helps you boost your Google reviews from satisfied customers for more visibility, reach, and sales.
  • ClaudeThis AI chatbot is designed to be helpful, honest, and harmless. Claude is capable of a wide variety of conversational and text-processing tasks like summarization, search, creative and collaborative writing, Q&A, etc.; while maintaining a high degree of reliability and predictability.

These are my weekend favs; I would love to hear about some of yours – Tweet me @ducttape

If you want to check out more Weekend Favs you can find them here.

from Duct Tape Marketing

Thursday, August 24, 2023

How To Get Back Your Entrepreneurial Freedom

How To Get Back Your Entrepreneurial Freedom written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with Dr. Sabrina Starling

Dr. Sabrina Starling, a guest on the Duct Tape Marketing PodcastIn this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I interview Dr. Sabrina Starling. She is the Business Psychologist and is the international bestselling author of How to Hire the Best and The 4 Week Vacation: The Entrepreneur’s Ultimate Guide to Taking Your Life Back from Your Business. Founder of and host of the Profit by Design podcast, she and her team coach entrepreneurs to take their lives back from their businesses. They are on a mission to disrupt the hustle culture by sending 10,000 entrepreneurs on a 4-week vacation over the next 10 years.

Key Takeaway:

Sabrina highlights the transformative potential of taking a four-week vacation for entrepreneurs. She underscores the shift from being indispensable to the business to building a strong team with A-players and efficient systems that allow the business to thrive independently. Sabrina mentions that it is important to focus on high-value activities, empower team members, and strategically design the business for sustainable profitability and personal freedom at the same time.

Questions I ask Dr. Sabrina Starling:

  • [01:16] Talk about this four-week vacation. What’s the idea behind it?
  • [03:48] You feel like sometimes there’s a perception of businesses like if you’re not working 40 hours a week, you’re cheating and not doing things right?
  • [05:03] So you just went on a four-week vacation. After about two and a half weeks, do you start saying, what am I going to do now for another week and a half?
  • [06:29] Michael Gerber once said: “If your business can’t operate without you, it’s worthless“. That’s pretty strong medicine, isn’t it?
  • [11:36] So if somebody comes to you and they want to adopt the four-week vacation idea. Where do they start?
  • [14:24] Sometimes you may disempower your team sometimes by feeling like you have to give them all the direction and not letting them figure it out on their own. With these ideas they’ll actually be more empowered, right?
  • [15:51] How do you help people kind of change that mindset?
  • [19:08] When somebody comes to you and the stated goal is that they’re going to go on a four-week vacation. What are all the things on how you impact their business?

More About Dr. Sabrina Starling:

Get Your Free AI Prompts To Build A Marketing Strategy:

Like this show? Click on over and give us a review on iTunes, please!

John Jantsch (00:00): Hey, this is John, and before we get started, I have a gift for you for being such an amazing listener. Everyone's talking about AI these days, but most of it's about tactics. We've created a series of prompts we use to create strategy, and you can have them for free. Just go to DTM world slash free prompts and grab yours. Now. Let's get started.

(00:30): Hello and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch, and my guest today is Dr. Sabrina Starling, the business psychologist. She's an international bestselling author of How to Hire the Best and the four-week vacation. She's the founder of and host of the Profit by Design podcast. She and her team coach entrepreneurs to take their lives back from their businesses and their own a mission to disrupt hustle culture by sending 10,000 entrepreneurs on a four-week vacation in the next 10 years. So big, hairy, audacious goal as she stated. Sabrina, welcome to the show.

Dr. Sabrina Starling (01:11): Thank you, John. I'm delighted to be back here with you.

John Jantsch (01:14): So let's talk about this four-week vacation. What's the idea behind that? Well, I mean, I think a lot of entrepreneurs probably think that idea is crazy. They don't get four-weeks, maybe in two years strung together, but you're talking about four consecutive weeks. I'm going to leave my business and it's going to run itself.

Dr. Sabrina Starling (01:32): Yes. So this comes from the coaching that I've done with entrepreneurs over the last 17 or 18 years, and one of the awarenesses that I had is when they were reaching out for coaching, they initially seemed to have a work-life balance problem. Like my perception was these are workaholics, they don't know how to stop. And yes, there's a handful of us that are workaholics, but that's not the real issue. The real issue is the systems and the lack of A players, the ability to hire a players in the business that keep the business owner from being able to take that vacation. Well, as a psychologist, I've seen a lot of business owners dealing with burnout, and I see how hard working 60, 70, 80 hours a week just grinding it out and seeing the impact that has. And we tell ourselves when we're doing that, I'm doing it to get to this point.

(02:27): When I get that new team member hired, it'll all be better. And the reality is that day never comes. And so if we don't get in front of the bus and stop the bus and say, I need to take a break, I need a vacation. And the idea behind a four-week vacation, what really became clear to me around that is that means you have a team and you have systems in place and that business can run without you, which is very important if you ever want to transition. And I say if you ever want to transition, when you transition the business, when you sell it or you want to retire and someone else on your team is going to step in and run it, and if you get these things in place now you can enjoy your life. And that's really all of us go into entrepreneurship for freedom.

(03:16): And a lot of it is we want time freedom. We want to be able to call our own shots and make our own choices. And then the irony when we get into business, we feel like we have less freedom and we also feel like no one else around us understands because they think we're the business owner, we can run our schedule however we want, and we feel like, no, we're at the mercy of every other person on this planet as the business owner. So the four-way vacation is all about really taking care of the entrepreneur.

John Jantsch (03:44): Do you feel like sometimes there's always more to do than you can get done in a day, but do you feel like sometimes there's a perception, the business, it's almost like if I'm not working 40 hours a week, I'm cheating, I'm not doing this right. I mean, is part of that pressure there?

Dr. Sabrina Starling (03:59): Absolutely. I mean, our culture in the United States is a grinded out culture. It's not just entrepreneurship that has the hustle grinded out mentality. When I started my business, I decided to become a coach instead of working in another business. And I wanted to have my own business because I was raising children and I wanted to be able to be available for them. So I decided I'm going to run my business on 25 hours a week, and I've made it work all these years. I've been able to grow the business doing that, but I kept it a secret For many years, I didn't reveal to my clients that I was working 25 hours a week because they were all working 60, 70 hours a week. And I was afraid they would say to me, you don't have a real business, Dr. Sabrina, you don't understand, because a lot of 'em were men, a lot of 'em were in construction. And so I just kept it quiet and I've, in the last five years, I've started talking about that everywhere because I realized we all want someone to tell us it's okay. It is okay to work less than 40 hours a week, and it's really cool if you can.

John Jantsch (05:03): So you just went on a four-week vacation. You were telling me before we started, you just got back after about, I'm thinking of you're very motivated, very driven person. You've built a wonderful business. After about two and a half weeks, you start saying, what am I going to do now for another week and a half?

Dr. Sabrina Starling (05:21): That actually happened about three and a half weeks in. I had two days left on my fourth vacation. I was like, okay, I'm bored. I am bored. And I think it's because I have done multiple four-week vacations and I've really developed over the years, my interests away from the business. But I think the first time as business owners, when we take four-week vacations, we do have that feeling within a day of what do I do with myself? We're not used to having hobbies. I know you play the guitar, you do woodworking, you have a rich life. I mean, where you live is a beautiful area. You have a very rich life away from the business. And what I find is the bigger we make our lives away from the business, the easier it is to put these healthy boundaries in place in our businesses.

John Jantsch (06:12): Yeah, I know I don't suffer from this anymore, but early on in my business, I would go on vacation. I would be very, even if it was just a week long vacation, first couple days I was very fidgety. But then you start settling in and it's like, eh, it's going to all be fine. Michael Gerber, who was an original mentor of mine, wrote the E-Myth. I'm sure listeners are familiar with that. He actually wrote the Forward to Duct Tape. Marketing told me once, he said, if your business can't operate without you, it's worthless. And I think that's pretty strong medicine, isn't it?

Dr. Sabrina Starling (06:43): It is, and it's exactly true. And as I wrote the four-week vacation book, I had a number of family members of business owners comment to me, I wish my husband or I wish my wife would've read this because they thought we were going to retire and then go travel and have all those things that we put off. And for whatever reason, they had a health reason. Some of 'em had passed away very early in life, much earlier than they should have, but it was because of the stress, I believe. And so when we think about there's all kinds of reasons that we want our business to have value without us, and one of them, one of the most important ones is what happens to our family if we just drop dead in the business? And all those years of all this hard work that we've done, there's no value in the business if it can't run without the business owner. So the family is left without being able to really benefit from that. But then there's your team members as well. If the business can't carry on without you, then you have a whole bunch of people who've lost their jobs now and their families are impacted.

John Jantsch (07:49): So you mentioned already that you've really grown your business working 25 hours a week When I started for a number of years now, have not done much on Fridays and don't have schedule any appointments. I've done that forever. And when you start doing that, you start realizing how much time you're actually wasting in the business. I found because it was like, no, I got to sit here until five o'clock. And so you go, chase, check Facebook one more time or something. I bet you most people could actually condense what they do that is valuable down to a couple hours every day. You actually, in fact, where is it the $10,000 an hour activity you want to, I think that relates to what I'm suggesting, isn't

Dr. Sabrina Starling (08:33): It? Absolutely. This is exactly it, and I will share that. When my first daughter went off to kindergarten, I thought, oh my gosh, I have all this extra time now in school all day. And then I was frittering my time away. I was on social media and it was worthless. So one of my big awarenesses when I started my business and I had an infant at home and I had these 25 hours a week to work, I had a huge meltdown in my laundry room just crying and blubbering. I had just dropped her off at daycare, but she had thrown up overnight. And so I had to come home and instead of working, I had to launder all the bedding and everything. And I thought, there's just not enough time and I can't get it all done. And I had this epiphany come over me around, okay, Sabrina, if you can only get one thing done today that's going to move the needle forward in your business, what are you going to do?

(09:23): Because you only have a few hours to do this in. And I don't know what my answer was that day, but it was like this huge clarity and I have run my business every day forward with that question. And it's made me realize that we have high value activities in the business that grow our business and that add value. And if we're intentional to do those every day, and you know what? I don't get high value activities done every single day, but I make sure once a week, five to six hours has been high value, $10,000 an hour activity time. And my awareness around the $10,000 an hour time came from reading the book 80 20 by Perry Marshall, and recognizing that 20% of what we do in a given day or given week leads to 80% of the results that we get. And I started looking at what is it that we entrepreneurs do that's worth $10 an hour versus a hundred dollars an hour versus $10,000 an hour?

(10:22): And I created a chart around this based on Perry Marshall's work, and I share that Anybody who wants to get it, we'll send it to 'em. You can go to tap the k. And having this chart in front of you is so powerful because it's a reminder that if you are not doing the $10,000 an hour activities in the business, no one else is. And when we business owners struggle to pay ourselves appropriately, I think one of the hard questions we need to ask ourselves is, when was the last time I did a $10,000 an hour activity? Because we're not growing. If we're stuck doing the a hundred dollars an hour, $500 an hour or $10 an hour activities, that's the reason the business isn't growing. That's the reason we're not identifying how to add value and create the margin that we need to pay ourselves appropriately.

John Jantsch (11:15): So when somebody comes to you, and I'll back up a minute. I had Dan Martel on this show recently and he wrote a great book called Buy Back Your Time. And he said, if you don't have an administrative assistant or executive assistant or whatever you call them, then you are it, right? Because doing that work. And I was like, yeah, that's pretty hard to swallow, but it's true. So if somebody comes to you and they're like, okay, I get it. This idea of four we vacation sounds really awesome, but couldn't happen today, where do they start?

Dr. Sabrina Starling (11:46): So this is a really good question because when we hear four-week vacation, I think most of us feel like that's so pie in the sky, I can't even imagine. And it starts with the small steps forward, taken in a consistent direction that lead to big change over time. When I started my four-week vacation journey, I felt like I gave myself 18 months and I thought, that's going to be really hard. I can't imagine doing it. And we were a very small team at the time, but once we get clear, this is what I want, this is meaningful to me, then it's easier to start seeing how we have to trust that the how will show up. And so I recommend, look at the longest you've been able to be away from the business, fully unplugged. And if that's zero days, because in the research I'm doing with entrepreneurs, we hear that a lot like that's zero days, Dr.

(12:40): Sabrina, then walk one day and tell your team you're completely out of pocket and you got to unplug or start with unplugging in the evenings. Like you go home at a set time and put your phone in a drawer and just be present with yourself and your family. That's the first small step. And then build from there and really pay attention to, well, what actually fell through the cracks. When I was unplugged time, and again, we hear, I can't believe my team handled everything. When I went on this four-week vacation, this was the first one I had done in 18 months. We had two team members who were newer on the team who'd never experienced it. So I thought, and I had been training them, so I thought they're going to need me. I don't know, we better set up some, somebody else needs to jump in and train them while I'm out.

(13:31): They stepped up in huge ways. And it showed me that I had been telling myself a story in my head about how much they needed me. So we have to watch this with ourselves and the stories we tell. So try a day, try two days, try a week and see what actually falls through the cracks. Ask your team for their input on where they needed support and you weren't there. And then look at can you create a system or do you need to hire and start taking those things off your plate? And the most important thing, whether it's a day off or a week off or four-weeks off, whatever you delegated before you took that time off, do not take it back when you come back.

John Jantsch (14:16): Team you just talked about too. Yeah, and I think what might be missed in that, what you just described there is we sort of disempowered the team sometimes by feeling like we have to give them all the direction, but giving a chance to let them figure it out, they'll actually be more empowered by that, won't they?

Dr. Sabrina Starling (14:34): Yes, they will. And if we take it back, it's very disempowering for them. So when I came back, I asked my newer team members that I've been running a meeting with every week, what did they do with that time that we were meeting and how would they like to revamp this meeting going? And they worked on strategy, they mapped things out, things that I wasn't even aware needed to be mapped out or laid out. They had done that and they said, going forward, we'd much rather use this rather than just going over our basic numbers. I mean, we'll obviously do that, but we'd much rather use this meeting for strategy with you, Dr. Sabrina. I'm like, yes, because if I have team members who want to think strategically, they're thinking about $10,000 an hour activities from their seat. And that adds a lot of value to the business.

John Jantsch (15:23): One of the mistakes I'm sure you've come across all the time, I've certainly seen it, is a lot of times, particularly when people are maybe just getting started, they fail to invest in their team or they try to hire the cheapest help that they can find. And ultimately what you're saying is the real key to this is you've got to have that leadership team or whatever you call 'em of a players. I mean, this is not going to happen until there's people that can do the selling and the things that you thought only you could do. So how do you help people kind of change that mindset? And obviously I know you have a whole program around developing a-players, but first one is probably to change that mindset, isn't it?

Dr. Sabrina Starling (16:00): It's to change the mindset that if you're in the middle and all the decisions run through you, you're going to lose your A-players because they feel very disempowered. But I think a lot of times what I hear from entrepreneurs is, I don't know that I can afford to hire an A-player. And I actually would argue that you can't afford not to hire an A player because you may pay them, say you pay them $10 an hour more. But the reality is that A players will be 900 to 1200% more productive than warm body team members. So like your C players. And so you may pay them $10 an hour more, but if you need fewer A players, because you don't have C players anymore, you have A players, your payroll is actually reduced significantly. And those A players will help you create systems. Those A players step up, they're natural problem solvers and they're good communicators. They don't necessarily need to be extroverted. Not every A player's extroverted, but they like to communicate and support each other as team members. And that is the best thing for you, the business owner, because when you're out and they don't know what to do, they don't know how to handle something, they go to other people on the team and they ask for help.

John Jantsch (17:17): And I think another thing too, a lot of times people just jump to, oh, I need to have somebody whose resume says they were five years as X, Y, Z. And I think a lot of times if you get the right person and you're committed to investing in their growth, you'll grow a players, right?

Dr. Sabrina Starling (17:33): Yes. So an example that I like to think about is when I started my business, John, I knew nothing about marketing, nothing about sales, but I'm an A player. I learned Duct Tape Marketing was one of the first books that I read to learn. And our A players will do that. So let go of the belief that you need to hire for a lot of experience and really hire the people who are hungry and motivated, and then look to align what they're doing with their personal strengths. And in the interview process, you can identify strengths by just asking them what are the things you love to do that come easy to you that other people seem to struggle with? And they'll just, they'll tell you, here's the things, and they're easy for me. I don't know why other people have trouble with this, but come easy to me and make sure that those strengths align with the results that you need from them.

(18:27): And then knowing what you know about what you learned how to do in the business, have confidence that you can break it down and train them. And you are going to be much better off when you do that because it opens up a much broader pool of candidates for you. And as you create these systems to train, you're not at the mercy of one team member. And if that one critical team member leaves, oh my gosh, what are you going to do? You have a system to train the next person and it works and you can refine the system the second time around.

John Jantsch (19:00): So we've been talking about some of the various things that you do from a coaching standpoint, maybe unpack when somebody comes to you and the stated goal is that they're going to go on a four-week vacation. What are all the avenues, how you impact their business?

Dr. Sabrina Starling (19:18): So we utilize the the potential solution with our clients coming in. Most of the clients who come in are established businesses. The business has been around for a while, and the business owner is recognizing, despite my best efforts, I can't take time off. I can't be away. This isn't working. Or they're realizing they're not profitable, or it's a combination of I'm not profitable and I'm tied to the business. So we work on designing the business to be sustainably profitable. Every decision going forward needs to be based on does this add profit to the business or does it take away, once we have it designed to be sustainably profitable, then we look at niching down with a clearly defined sweet spot. A lot of established businesses are what I call overweight businesses. And that means that when you're starting out in business, you say yes to every opportunity that comes your way because you need to get revenue coming in the door, but then you don't have a real sweet spot anymore and your spread really thin and your team is too.

(20:18): And so I think our businesses need to go on a diet at least once a year, and we need to look at where are our best opportunities? What are we going to stop doing? And really focus on the top clients. And I know you teach a lot of this yourself, John, but it makes your marketing easier. It simplifies the business considerably. So that's where we see a lot of stress come off for business owners. And then we start talking about innovation, which is again, paying attention to what your clients tell you they want the most and how they see you as unique and different, incorporating that in what you do, which allows you to charge more and create more margin. And then we focus on hiring the best, building your lean and mighty team around that sweet spot. And then the final step is to learn how to network to continually attract A players so that you never run out of team members. Because now that you have a sweet spot and you're innovating and you have a players on your team, you better be ready. Your business is going to grow, and you're going to need a lot of A players, but in the meantime, more and more is coming off your plate and you're taking your life back. So our goal is, I mean, yes, I want lots of entrepreneurs taking forward vacations, but ultimately our goal is that you get your life back on a daily basis in your business.

John Jantsch (21:34): Awesome. Sabrina, always great to catch up with you. I appreciate you stopping by the show. You want to tell people where they can connect with you and find out more about your work?

Dr. Sabrina Starling (21:42): Absolutely. So I mentioned you can get the how to make your time worth $10,000 an hour download in the PDF chart of $10,000 an hour activities. Just go to and you can learn more about us obviously at Tap, the Potential I record Weekly on the Profit by Design podcast and share tips, tools, and strategies to help you design a sustainably profitable business that gives you your life back. And I just want to share as a fellow podcaster, those of you who get benefit out of Duct Tape Marketing, please leave a review on whatever platform you're listening because that's how other people find great podcasts like Duct Tape Marketing and podcasting is a labor of love. John is putting out tremendous content. So please leave him a review.

John Jantsch (22:35): Well, I appreciate that, Sabrina. So again, thanks for taking a moment and hopefully we'll run into you soon out there on the road.

Dr. Sabrina Starling (22:41): Okay, thank you, John.

from Duct Tape Marketing

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

The Impact of Community

The Impact of Community written by Felipe Orrego read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with Lloyed Lobo

Lloyed Lobo, a guest on the Duct Tape Marketing PodcastIn this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I interview Lloyed Lobo. He is an entrepreneur, podcast host, and community builder. He is the co-founder of, where he leveraged the Community-Led Growth model to bootstrap the company. He is also the co-founder of Traction, a community empowering over 100k innovators through connections, content, and capital.

His book titled From Grassroots To Greatness: 13 Rules to Build Iconic Brands with Community Led Growth. Lloyed explores the intricate art of harnessing the community’s strength as your ultimate acquisition channel, brand differentiator, feedback source, retention lever, and catalyst for transformative change.

Key Takeaway:

Lloyed shares the impact and value of communities in personal, professional, and societal contexts. He shares some of his personal experiences and how the concept of community has helped him. Furthermore, he explains six common traits, referred to as “CAMPER” – Connection, Autonomy, Mastery, Purpose, Energy, and Recognition – which are crucial for building thriving and sustainable communities. It’s important to be consistent in community-building efforts, suggesting that true success often comes after a long series of efforts rather than a few attempts.

Questions I ask Lloyed Lobo:

  • [03:10] Was there some problem you were trying to solve that said I have to write this book?
  • [07:05] There are some people suggesting that advertising and some of the traditional marketing ways have become less effective, that they even do not work at all, and that community is in the last frontier. Would you support that idea?
  • [10:39] Would you say that a strong component of building a community is that there has to be something to rally around or against?
  • [11:32] The subtitle of the book has 13 rules. In your research, you had thousands of interviews, how’d you get it down to 13? Why are those the most important?

More About Lloyed Lobo:

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John Jantsch (00:00): Hey, this is John, and before we get started, I have a gift for you for being such an amazing listener. Everyone's talking about AI these days, but most of it's about tactics. We've created a series of prompts we use to create strategy, and you can have them for free. Just go to and grab yours. Now. Let's get started.

(00:30): Hello and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing podcast. This is John Jansen. My guest today is Lloyed Lobo. He's an entrepreneur, podcast host and community builder. He is the co-founder of where he leveraged a community-led growth model to bootstrap the company. He's also the co-founder of Traction a community empowering over 100,000 innovators through connections, content, and capital. We're going to talk about his book, which is titled From Grassroots to Greatness, 13 Rules to Build Iconic Brands With Community LED Growth. So welcome to the show, Lloyed.

Lloyed Lobo (01:10): Thank you for hosting me, big fan and I'm excited. It's like you watch those people, listen to those people and then eventually have the opportunity to do something with them and you feel honored. It's like this celebrity moment here.

John Jantsch (01:25): Well, I've been doing this for a long time, so hopefully you have heard a little bit of it. So if those of you that watch the video clips, I know those of you listening won't, but I love your hat. They're hard to forget your last name. Lobo,

Lloyed Lobo (01:38): A great entrepreneur once told me that you got to do things to stand out, right? It's all about standing out. And if you look at Mr. Beast, actually one of the things he did does is stand out is one of the biggest influencers now on the planet. I mean, he does things like cure a thousand blind people or gave a homeless guy $20,000, started a free car dealership. The thing is, those who are afraid to be a little eccentric, a little authentic and a little different, often blend in with the rest. And if you are just like everyone else, it's hard to become an iconic brand.

John Jantsch (02:15): I mean, it's not for everybody, but there's no question pissing some people off occasionally is one way to get noticed. Like I said, it's not for everybody, but it certainly works.

Lloyed Lobo (02:25): The story with the hat was I used to have Lobo hat and I'd wear it everywhere, and when we sold 50% of the company or majority of the company and I transitioned to the board, I ended up depressed because I'm like, I left my baby. I built my baby on this company. It's funny because for a founder, no matter how good the financial outcome, leaving a company you started that you sacrificed your family for is like fraught with mental health issues. And a friend of mine gave me this hat as a joke. I wore it in the podcast. It's stuck now where I go to the gym. People are like, Hey, you're that guy from LinkedIn or I went to an art gallery. Oh, we see our content on LinkedIn, so it stuck.

John Jantsch (03:01): That's funny. So let's get into the book from Grassroots to Greatness. This sometimes comes off as a lame question, but a lot of times the answer is brilliant. Was there some problem you were trying to solve that said, I have to write this book?

Lloyed Lobo (03:13): Definitely. So my journey throughout my life has had one common thread, and that is community. So my parents grew up in the slums in Mumbai where they made a movie on it, slum Dog millionaire. And anytime I visit my grandparents who had 10 kids, I'd ask them like, you barely have place in here for your kids. Why do you have this random person here? And he said, he would always say the only way to create abundance in life is to help others without expecting anything in return. Today, of course, these kids are in the slum, they're all well off. But then when I was eight or nine years old, the Gulf Warhead, I was born in Kuwait and security had lapsed, came together to rescue the country. Every building became a sub-community, right? What is community? Put your hands and say, I have a problem, or I have an aspiration.

(04:01): You find other people and they come together. And the way that effort was coordinated, because there were no cell phones, there was no internet at the time, you'd go down the building with concern faces and somebody would say, Hey, I'll organize security. I'll guard the building from this time to this time, all organized food and supplies and water, and that word of mouth spread from building to building and eventually evacuated us to safety. Then another time was when we were bootstrapping both. We had no money, we literally had no marketing team. Marketing was like me, and we bootstrapped this business to 10 million in revenue through building this traction community where we're bringing our ICP, our audience together around their aspiration and their goals. This community of practice, in fact, our investors who bought half the company, the growth equity firm, they came to attraction community event.

(04:51): And through my entrepreneurial journey where it's like something's working, something's not something's great. One day it's great, one day it's like I'm failing, I'm falling. And so when things were going great after two failures and did an events company where the founder ran off with all the profits and then boast was a struggle, bootstrapping, and as soon as we started to make money at boast, we lost a twin. We were expecting twins. One passed the other was born four months or so early and spend that time in the incubator and we relied, my wife and I relied on this community called Fish's mom's group to bring us some sanity in terms of hope and how other people who were in that situation dealt with it. When we were looking at other babies pass away in the nicu, and then finally when we sold a majority of both stepped out of the day-to-day, I ended up depressed.

(05:41): I felt I lost my identity. I was the face of this company, became overweight, became insufferable, and the Peloton community is what saved me and brought my mental health to stability. And so when I sat here saying I could do anything with my time, I can be anywhere, what should I do? I said, I think I need to write about the impact of community to the world and pay homage to the community that's given me so much. From the slums to truly the slum dog millionaire journey, which was fueled by the community. And I truly believe this, yesterday's innovation always becomes today's option and tomorrow's commodity. If you look at the Gs, you couldn't get ahold of it. Then it became an option in the car today, there's CarPlay, you don't even need it. It's commodity. But if you build a community, you won't become a commodity. A perfect example is Apple. They don't have the best features, but they fall in love with their customers and sell that aspiration. They're not nitpicking on, we have this many megapixels camera, they're talking about the aspiration. So that was very important to me to share that journey.

John Jantsch (06:49): So we've always had community. If you think about the one you described in Kuwait, and then churches have always been communities, schools have always been communities, but I think they've really come to the forefront with the fact that we can have community now anywhere. We don't have to be in a physical place. There are those that are suggesting that advertising and some of the traditional marketing ways are really become less effective and maybe even not work at all at some point. And that community is in some ways sort of the last frontier. Would you support to that idea, that notion that you think it's going to really be the way that everybody has to market?

Lloyed Lobo (07:26): I truly believe that I embody it because if you think about it, marketing is taking up, look at 2023 because we went through this boom tech boom and then the interest rates went up and so-called recession. Marketing is taking a bloodbath in 2023. It costs twice as much to generate the same results from the same marketing tactics. TikTok, Facebook, all the CPMs are up. The spend is way off whack, and businesses are spending less and less of marketing because even with generative ai, what you're seeing is you're seeing sameness in content people now people are generating content through generative ai. Consumers are tired of this clickbait, this spam, these popups, these ads sharing personal data to access crappy white papers seeing the same thing over and over. But if you look at some of the best, most iconic brands, Harley Davidson being a perfect example, they almost went bankrupt in the eighties.

(08:21): They rebuilt the company on the ethos of community wasn't a marketing strategy, it was a company strategy. Employees went out and started writer clubs, employees become writers, became employees. It had oversight from the president, and that community organized the Save Harley campaign. Today they organize breast cancer awareness campaigns. There's a purpose behind it, and I think if you have a great purpose that goes beyond your product or service, you'll build an everlasting sustainable community. And I like that you brought religion. My mom's a very devout Catholic, and so as a part of my research, I was researching religions as well as brands. And when you look at every iconic brand or religion or cult has this path, they start with an audience and when they bring that audience together, it becomes a community. Now, when the community comes together to create impact, it becomes a movement.

(09:16): And when the movement has unwavering faith in its purpose, it becomes a religion or cult. Everything from Christianity to CrossFit follows that pattern. You see a lot of influencers today on LinkedIn, on TikTok and whatnot, they think they have communities don't. The influencer is gone, the community is gone because it's not a community, it's an audience. It's a one-way communication. So how do you bring them together to talk to each other without you being in the room is a community. And then when that community creates impact or products or whatever it is, it becomes a movement. And that's what Harley did. They were coming together to create awareness. Mr. Beast, great community, it's going to be everlasting because his community has come together to donate $20 million to evacuate the oceans of 30 million pounds of plastic. All of these things, those are purposes that go beyond the brand, and I think that is really important

John Jantsch (10:17): As a community. You look at some of the communities that are out there and they are counter to something, right? I mean, Harley Davidson really preaches the idea that free spirit writers we're kind of counter to something else that's out there in society. And I think most community, I mean you could even say Peloton is an example, that there is a so-called enemy, if you will. Would you say that's a strong component of building a community, is that there has to be something to rally around or against?

Lloyed Lobo (10:47): It has to be an aspiration, a goal, or some challenge, right? And it's funny, as I interviewed maybe a thousand or so community leaders, entrepreneurs, innovators, and one thing I found very common actually, I found a number of things that were common, but the one thing was very key driving force is they're driven by some spite or anger to change the status quo, to prove the naysayers wrong, to do things a different way than it's currently being done. And in many ways you say happy people don't drive change, but people who have a spike towards something will drive that change.

John Jantsch (11:28): Yeah. So the book, as I read in the subtitle, has 13 rules. I'm curious if you want to share, visit a couple of rules, but before that, maybe a lot of times when people you researched a thousand or did a thousand interviews, how'd you get it down to 13 and why are those the most important? And then again, maybe share a few.

Lloyed Lobo (11:48): Definitely. So I asked the same set of questions is like, why did you get started? How did you bring people together? How did you seed it in the beginning? How did you continue to grow and scale it? How do you retain them? And then how do you make money? I think one of the most important things is there's a lot of focus on metrics, and I think metrics is important, but we get caught up in these sort of acronyms and these buzzwords, but really it's all about asking the right questions, right? It's as simple as that, and that is what metrics are to me. It's like if you're looking for an answer, ask the right questions and make sure you ask the same questions because then you'll get the answers you're looking for. And you can find patterns if you ask some, it's like AB testing and marketing, right?

(12:33): If you change three things, you don't know what drove the results, but if you ask the same thing over and over again, you'll get the answer, you'll get a pattern, you'll be able to see a pattern. So that was the key thing. So a couple of rules that I'd love to share, right? One is a framework which is a play on Daniel Pink's Amp, which you may have heard of. And so when I looked at these communities, I found AMP was great, but to build a thriving sustainable culture community, there were six common traits that these companies, these cultures, these community had, and I called it camper, which sounds cheesy, but I say if you have proactively instituted camper in your company, your community, your culture, you'll build capi campers. Camper stands for connection, autonomy, mastery, purpose, which is from Danielle Pink. And then energy and recognition with connection.

(13:23): What I found is that these communities, they foster genuine bonds and build bridges. When people feel connected, it empowers them to support one another and grow Peloton is a great example. Turns out sweating and working out together even virtually leads to a great sense of comradery. The other one is autonomy. Nobody wants to feel micromanaged. When people have the space to make their own decisions, they take ownership and drive innovation. A great example of that community was the Basecamp community. This company is a project management tool that invented Ruby on Rails. Ruby on Rails has spawned thousands upon thousands of startups as a framework, as an infrastructure to build products on. And that autonomy not only is a part of the community, but how they run the company, and it's helped them achieve tens of millions in profit with only 80 employees working 40 hours a week, and no investors, their competitors have thousands of employees and hundreds of millions in funding.

(14:21): So that was the second piece. Mastery, of course, everyone wants to get better and better at what they do and become experts in their field. Purpose is a key one. I truly believe there's no good or bad people. There's shades of gray. Everyone is well intentioned. It's just life happens. You want to give, you want to create impact, but taxes and mortgage and kids doesn't give you the opportunity to do that. But when you attach with a great purpose, even if you contribute a small portion, you feel like you're part of the whole thing. There was an urban legend with President Kennedy walking NASA at midnight, and he sees a janitor sweeping the floor and he asked, what are you doing at this hour? And the janitor says, sir, I'm putting a man on the moon. That is what great purposes. When it goes down to the person with the lowest position, they feel Patagonia is a fantastic example of purpose.

(15:17): They promote this environmental stewardship, but not only encouraging their employees to volunteer for these initiatives, they lead by example. They donate a big chunk of their profits to nature preservation. Then the fifth one is energy creating this atmosphere of enthusiasm, passion, and positive vibe. When your culture is full of lively energy, it sparks inspiration. I mean, you can ask yourself how many times have you been in an environment where they have connection, where there is autonomy, there's mastery, and there's a great sense of purpose, but the energy is a drag, it's dry, and you're like, I just want to get out of here. You watch presentations and we are with great people around the room, but you're falling asleep because there's so energy is really important because community is a marathon of the heart and mind, right? People are giving their time. Oftentimes they're not paid like volunteers and whatnot.

(16:12): How do you keep them excited? Energy is really important to do that. And the last one is recognition. They proactively acknowledge and appreciate the efforts of others. When you celebrate efforts, no matter how big or small, and just say thank you to people or give them things to appreciate them, they keep coming back for more. And we're in 2023 where job loss has been at an all time high, yet people have opportunities, right? I could go and drive an Uber and then part-time do DoorDash and then be on five or Upwork and make a hundred thousand dollars to support my lifestyle. Why do I join a company and do a nine to five? There has to be in addition to all of those things, if I'm not recognized, then I'm out of here, right? A lot of companies fail to proactively recognize their people. If you treat people with love and help them grow, they'll treat your business, your community, your culture with love, and your company will grow.

(17:04): So those were six common traits I found. So the first thing was figure out how this fits because the last thing you want to do, and as I talked to more and more people in 2023, they asked me, oh, how do I start a community and when will I start making money? So if you don't start with the thought of how do I give and how can I give without expecting anything in return? And if you're looking to monetize on day one, then you may as well not do community. Invest in ads, invest in cold calling. There's tons of direct response marketing you can do. Community is a long-term sustainable business strategy, and that's why I say start with this ethos of community, which is camper connection, autonomy, mastery, purpose, energy recognition. If you don't have that in your D n A, people will find it to be contrived and it'll be short-lived, right?

(17:52): You won't sustain it for the long Atlassian, the company work 40 billion. Their community organizes 5,000 events a year. I asked their chief revenue officer, how do you do attribution on this community? He's like, I can't, don't care. It takes care of itself. The company's growing, the product proliferating. I'm not going to nickel and dime on how it makes money. I know it takes care of itself. Or you ask Gainsight, the company was acquired for a billion. They created the customer success community a category. You ask Nick. Nick is like c e o and head of community, or even Brian Chesky at Airbnb. He's c e o and head of community. You can't do attribution with community. That's the thing. It's pretty hard because somebody comes to an event, they may pass on your details to somebody else on the team who goes and downloads a white paper.

(18:39): Those details go to an S D R who cold call, and then the deal gets done and get attributed to S D R, and then it says, oh, community did nothing, right? So that multi-touch is hard. So I think starting with that camper is really important. The second thing is figuring out the type of community you want to build. There are three kinds of communities, community of practice where you bring people together to educate them, to teach them something. I'm an engineer. My first job, I wanted to go into entrepreneurship. So I asked somebody, what's the best skill I could learn? They said sales and marketing. So I started cold calling for a tech company and then transitioned my way into running G T M operations. But everything I learned about sales and marketing was from HubSpot's inbound marketing content because nobody was talking about digital marketing.

(19:23): And guess what? Years later when I had the money and the position to buy a tool, I bought HubSpot. I was part of that community. So community of practice is that teaching people to become better versions of themselves about a craft community of product is turning your customers into evangelists. So teaching them about your product. And the last one is community of play. Bringing people together around fun. Right? Now, if your company doesn't have a product market fit, you're new, you barely have any customers, you don't have high retention, there's no point in building a community of product because nobody's going to want to be sold to. You want to sell the aspiration, the goal that your product is driving. So why do people buy HubSpot? Because they want to generate more leads. They want to become better marketers. So teach them to become better marketers is what HubSpot gets.

(20:17): So that's the second thing. The third thing is crucial is nail your niche. Figure out your ideal customer profile. What are their pains, their goals, their aspirations? Where do they eat, breed, drink, sleep, figure out their circle of influence. Who do they fund? Meaning what other services and tools they pay for? This will give you a list of potential partners. Who do they follow? Meaning who are the influencers they watch and listen to? So this will give you the list of people if you're hosting events or podcasts or to invite, and then what do they frequent? Meaning events, magazines, blogs, they read, so you could distribute your content there. So that is the third thing. The fourth thing is start creating an audience. You can either curate content, like summarize content from experts in your niche or be the expert for your niche yourself or do a mix.

(21:07): But you start by, once you understand your I C P, you can write down a hundred, 200 burning questions and that'll give you content ideas. You can even think about, if I had to write the ultimate guide to X, Y, Z, what would be the chapters and sub chapters and topics? And then from there, start creating content. Even something like this, we do an interview like this. You can turn it into an interactive interview. You can turn it into a YouTube video. You can post the audio to podcast. You can turn it into short form, clips the text into LinkedIn posts. You can turn in an ebook, you can turn the summary into a weekly newsletter. So it gives you content, multiple distribution channels, and you start building this audience. And once you start building this audience, then bring them together. One thing I found in this research is the value of senses.

(21:55): It was told to be my Jonathan Yaffe, the founder of any road, is that anytime you incorporate more than two senses, you start to build stronger connections. We're sound in sight. If we were in person, we'd be taste, touch, and smell. And this is what Red Bull does. And these high energy brand, they bring people together in person. Surprisingly even Yelp scaled a lot of their community through in-person events. And you look at a lot of these online products that you think, but a lot of their early activities were bringing people together in person because it builds bonds, comradery when you're engaging multiple senses. If you were in person now, probably this would extend for hours on end. We probably know each other personally. So that is really important to start bringing people together in person. And then the last one, there's a lot more tips, but these were some of the crucial ones is do it with consistency.

(22:45): Anything worth doing is a long slog. We started traction by doing meetups and pizza nights. 10 people showed up the first time, then 20, then word spread, but we never stopped. And one day 200 people showed up to this co-working space and the GM of the co-working space is like, guys, this is not a meetup. This is a full blown conference. Now that evolved into the Traction Conference, and today we've had C-Suite from Uber to HubSpot to Shopify show up. But you got to do small. And then one day it hits. And even our subscriber base was small and we kept doing it. The pandemic hit, we freaked out. We had to cancel a conference. We had 50 some odd speakers. So I reached out to all the speakers and said, Hey, instead of doing a virtual conference, which I don't have the fortitude to do it, I can't sit through a two day virtual summit.

(23:36): What if I interviewed you every week for an hour and made it a live virtual one hour live summit and we'll turn the recording into YouTube, the audio into podcast. They're like, love it. It eventually ended up being twice a week and subscriber base went from thousands in two years, 120,000, just that cadence. And it's funny, we were, when we sold half the company to growth equity firm, they're like, what is this inflection point here? Your revenues just went up like this in those two years to like 10 million and you have no marketing team or spend. And I showed another thing about the number of webinars and events we were doing, because the word spreads, hundreds of people start joining. First it's tens, then the word eventually spreads and you get the social proof of the speakers. Of course the brander of the speakers and the audience, the other people who are coming. And more and more and more people show up and you build that cadence. But most people just stop. They stop after the 10th thing. Magic doesn't happen at number 10. Magic maybe happens at a hundred. And there are stats like from YouTube, even some of the best content creators have seen, I'm not talking about shorts, but I'm talking about long form videos that they had to create a hundred videos before they saw meaningful traction. That just does, consistency is the magic ingredient that leads to overnight success.

John Jantsch (25:04): It's almost its own algorithm. So Lloyed, I appreciate you stopping by the Duct Tape Marketing podcast. You want to share where people can connect with you and maybe find out a little more about from Grassroots to Greatness?

Lloyed Lobo (25:16): Definitely. So I'm active on LinkedIn. Follow me, I post one to three times a week and generally content around entrepreneurship, bootstrapping, community mental health. So do follow me there. My mom made it weird for me growing up by putting an E in my name, it's Lloyed, but she put an E in there and I was bullied as a kid a lot. And one day I asked her, why did you put this E in there? Why did you have to make me different? And she's like, I always dreamed of you becoming an entrepreneur. When I was living in the slum in India, I wanted my child to be an entrepreneur. And I said, if he ever became an entrepreneur, he would want to trademark his name. And if I put an E in there, that would allow him to do that. I don't know if it's true or not, but in terms of that philosophy there, but that was the story. So Lloyed Lobo on LinkedIn.

John Jantsch (26:04): Yeah, it's a great story. And I must admit, when I was looking at my show notes, I was like, Hey, is that right? So it worked. It worked. And the U R L was probably available, of course.

Lloyed Lobo (26:15): Definitely. The funny thing is Lloyed Lobo without the E is not available with the E, some software developer has. So I'm on LinkedIn with that., And then if you want to tune into my podcast, it's Traction on YouTube, traction by Lloyed Lobo on YouTube or traction on Spotify. Thank you so much. This has been fantastic, John, big fan.

John Jantsch (26:41): Thanks. Now again, I appreciate you taking the time and hopefully we'll run into you one of these days out there on the road.

Lloyed Lobo (26:46): Definitely. Where are you today, by the way?

John Jantsch (26:48): I am in the mountains west of Denver.

Lloyed Lobo (26:52): Oh, cool. I was just in Denver last week for a boast board meeting, and now I'm in Dubai. I spent half my time in Dubai and half in San Francisco. A

John Jantsch (27:00): Lot of air miles.

Lloyed Lobo (27:02): A lot of air miles. Awesome. Have a good one.

from Duct Tape Marketing