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Hello and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing podcast. This is John Jantsch and my guest today is John Corcoran. He is a former writer in the White House for presidents … I knew I was going to mess that up, but anyway, I’ll start again. Presidential letters and messages during the Clinton administration and a speech writer in the California Governors Office during the Davis administration. And we’re not going to talk about politics because he was … I think you’re also a lawyer too, right John?
John Corcoran: That I am, yeah. Lots of reasons to hate me. Politics, lawyer.
John Jantsch: What a mess this show is going to be. So welcome. Thanks for joining me, John.
John Corcoran: I’m glad to be here, John.thanks for having me.
John Jantsch: So you were … Last time I was out in Santa Barbara we got together. You, I think you paid for my dinner, which was awesome. And you told me a little bit about something that is somewhat new for you. And, we’ll kind of air all this out. But let’s start off by talking … Tell me a little bit about this Rise 25.
John Corcoran: Yeah, absolutely. You know, I mean, so I, like many of your clients, was trading hours for dollars as a lawyer. And when you’re a lawyer you realize that you can only work on one client at a time. You can only charge as much as the market will bear and where do you go from there? And so long story, but got into blogging and podcasting and doing those sorts of things in order to expand my reach and eventually teamed up with my business partner Dr. Jeremy Weiss. What we’ve been doing is helping other professional services business owners who were much like ourselves and did one-on-one type of work and help them to kind of make the shift to one to many so that they can free up more of their time and that they can impact a larger community of people.
John Jantsch: So, everyone today is being advised to become an expert in their field. How do we afford to have everyone be an expert? I mean, what does that even man anymore?
John Corcoran: Right. Yeah. Right. How do you become an expert? I don’t know that it would be possible for everyone to be viewed as an expert. Because then if everyone’s viewed as an expert there’s got to be someone that is at a higher level. But it certainly … What’s valuable, I think, is elevating your profile. Whether that means just in your local community. Whether that means something nationally. Whether that means expressing yourself through content. I know that you’re a big advocate of content. But I certainly think that establishing your bonafides as an authority and someone who knows your stuff in your field that’s never going to harm you, whether you decide that you just want more high quality one-on-one clients or whether you want to make the shift like you have with your business, or others have, like I have, into more of a leverage type of model where you’re serving people in a one-to-many capacity.
John Jantsch: So I’ve been doing this long enough, you see these things come and go. And it seems like all of a sudden the advice to carve out a very specific niche and just become and expert in that niche seems to have resurfaced lately with the online kind of Facebook advertising crowd. In your mind is that really one of the best paths to go down if you do want to sort of stand out and position yourself as an expert?
John Corcoran: You know, I think that it can be fraught with peril if you choose the wrong niche. But I do agree; I think that there are too many people who try and be everything to everyone, or something. But most people don’t start off that way. Most people start off with a particular expertise in one particular field and that also helps them get referred, which is a huge engine of growth, as you know. You wrote the book on it. It helps people to know what type of business they should send towards you. If you define your scope, if you say, “This is the type of person that I want to work with, this is a limited field.” Now, you and I both are somewhat generalist, right? And that we both, it’s not like you and I are both working with flower shop owners and yoga studio owners in only that niche; we’re working in wider areas. So I think you can always feel like, “aw, man! I need to narrow it even further.”
But I think that the bigger danger is when you’re way too broad and you’re just trying to serve anyone who comes in. Because then people just don’t know who you are. They don’t know who to refer to you, they don’t know what you stand for, what type of market you’re serving for. I think that’s the bigger danger for people.
John Jantsch: I think a lot of people, certainly the people that got burned when they became social media experts and all of a sudden we didn’t need social media experts any more. I think that’s, when people focus on a platform or something of that nature that can change, there’s a lot of danger in that. Or even, I think some cases even industries. The one thing I’ve always advocated is, if you get known as somebody who solves a certain kind of problem, that’s probably never going to go away. So for business owners, I like to say that we solve a certain type of problem, and I’ve been doing this for 30 years and that problem has never changed. The way we come at it maybe has changed, but we’re not really, we’re not kinda putting ourselves in that peril of getting, becoming obsolete. Because I don’t think problems will ever go away.
John Corcoran: I agree. Yeah, and if you become the expert in Vine, and one day Twitter comes along, acquires Vine, and then shuts it down entirely, your business is gonna crumble, right? So there is a real danger in that, or other people might have picked the wrong platform. They decided to pick Google+ instead of Facebook or something, and a bunch of years’ effort crumbles. But if you focus on transferable fundamentals like copywriting, for example, and you understand copy, you understand how to communicate to a market in a compelling way that will draw people to you, then it doesn’t matter if you’re teaching people how to do copywriting in the context of a medium like YouTube videos, or whether you’re teaching people how to use copywriting in an effective way in the medium of a postcard that is mailed to people in the mail. Right? Those are transferable fundamentals.
I agree, I think that it’s about those larger, underlying skills that you can then apply to whatever medium it is, is the trending popular medium at the time, because they’re gonna come and go. People are saying it about Facebook now, they’re like, “Oh, Facebook will never leave!” C’mon. Please. Right. At some point, in the future maybe Facebook won’t be here so you want to make sure that everything you do is not entirely just this one, connected to this one platform.
John Jantsch: Well, and certainly, I mean the internet may go away even, right? But certainly you’ve gotta build your own real estate, if you’re gonna be an expert. You’ve gotta own that. I still see a lot of small business owners putting their stake in Facebook and certainly it’s an important awareness channel, maybe it’s even important place for you to convert folks, but you’re never gonna own it.
John Corcoran: Yeah, I remember I was working for a law firm, this was before I became an entrepreneur, I’ve been an entrepreneur for about seven years now, but before then I was working for a law firm as a lawyer and I was writing regularly, blogging regularly for the law firm’s blog. Then I read some advice and it said ‘you need to own your own real estate, you need to not be a sharecropper.’ And this wasn’t just talking about law, but just as a writer, if you’re blogging for an employer’s blog, then when you leave, all that content’s gonna be left behind. So that’s when I thought, ‘okay, this is smart. I should start my own blog and create my own, then start to build my own land, so to speak.’ So I shifted everything and it really, it took me down a much different path and I’m glad that I did that.
John Jantsch: So, I know that you do a lot of work with folks on more effective networking. Again, networking, back in the day, it meant you went to the first Wednesday of the month meeting at the Chamber of Commerce, and certainly that platform has changed dramatically, so how has that impacted networking in the fact that we can do so much now without ever getting in a car and driving over and giving somebody a hug?
John Corcoran: Right. Well, I still think there’s huge value in meeting face to face. I mean, I’ve known of you for years, but it wasn’t until October that we finally got to connect face to face, and you never build quite the same relationship with someone until you meet up with them face to face. So I think that’s critical. I think that’s important these days, to go out to meetups and conferences and industry socials and things like that in order to connect with people. On the other hand, we can connect just as easily with someone who lives in Kansas City or Paris or Dubai as easily as we can someone who lives down the road, thanks to the prevalence of social media platforms that give us an ability to connect with people. I think because of that our world is changing.
I think that we don’t have to engage in this old fashioned, going down to the Wednesday night, as you said, or Wednesday morning Chamber of Commerce meeting or whatever it is, where you’re essentially looking for a needle in a haystack. There might be 100 people there, if you’re lucky, at this chapter, and 99 of them might not be a good fit for you. It takes a lot of time, versus you can go and target a lot more, and a lot more focused way, lot more narrow way, you can target the specific market that you’re going after, and you can immerse yourself. I call it going after a big pile of needles instead of the needle in a haystack, you’ve got a big pile of needles and it’s just a lot more effective.
Imagine going to a conference with 10,000 of your perfect, ideal prospects. That is such a better, more effective use of your time, if you went to that once a year rather than just going down to your local Chamber of Commerce every month or every week or whatever. Not to just, I don’t want to just beat on Chamber of Commerce, but there are other business meetups of similar types, so I agree, I think that you can, if you’re smarter about it, you can target a more specific group and you don’t need to do this old-school networking that people think of when they think of the word networking.
John Jantsch: Yeah. I never enjoyed that.
John Corcoran: No, so many people don’t! They hate it!
John Jantsch: Yeah, and I think you’re, but I do think that, to your original point, there’s nothing like meeting face to face. I think the one thing that is really great about what we have in the online tools is that you can do that face to face meetup and then that, in many cases, opens the door, the online tools then open the door to do some things maybe quicker than you, instead of waiting around till next year’s conference when we’re gonna see each other again, something like that.
John Corcoran: Absolutely. What we’re doing right now, I think everyone should have a podcast. I don’t even, you shouldn’t even care whether you’re getting listeners or not. Yeah, usually it’s nice for people to listen, but a podcast is such an effective tool for being able to connect with someone.
I was just having breakfast with my wife earlier today and was saying to [Sarah 00:11:55], “I think everyone should have a podcast,” because it gives you such a great tool to reach out, develop a relationship with the influencers in your field, or peers, or colleagues, or clients, or prospects. It just gives you an excuse to have a conversation. By the way, it doesn’t have to be for a podcast, it could be for an article that you’re writing, or it could be, you recorded it on video and you throw it up on YouTube or something like that. The point is to do it in an easy way where you’re gonna do it frequently enough and where you’re gonna be able to use it as an excuse to build or further a relationship even further down the road.
John Jantsch: Long time listeners to The Duct Tape Marketing Podcast will have heard me say, numerous times, that my podcast has actually been probably one of the biggest assets of my business. I do actually generate a significant ad revenue stream, but, today anyway, but when I first started, it allowed me to send an email to Seth Godin and say, “I’d like to promote your book, come in [crosstalk 00:12:51] next month, would you talk to me for 20 minutes?” And he would return my email. Whereas if I’d said, “Hey, I’d love to pick your brain for 20 minutes,” well, you know, we know where that would go.
John Corcoran: Right. “Hey, Seth, I’m gonna be in New York, would you meet me at Starbucks? Just take the train in. Just meet me at Starbucks and we’ll just get a cup of coffee.” Never gonna happen, right? But because of the podcast, because of your helping them, you’re promoting them, it’s a completely different conversation.
John Jantsch: And now, again, since we’re on this podcast topic, now I’ve been actually telling people, I think it’s the number one SEO play right now, to be a guest on podcasts. Because everybody’s been given the advice for the last couple years that to get links back to your site you’ve gotta do all this guest blogging and guest blogging is a real pain. You’ve got to write an article, you’ve got to pitch it to 2000 people to get one to say yes, in a lot of cases, but if you go on a podcast, that podcaster quite often is really, really happy to promote that show and put it out there and they’re probably gonna give you three or four links back, so that’s where I get to put in my ad for podcastbookers.com, which is a service I started just for that, just for that reason. We’re using it now as an SEO ploy.
John Corcoran: Absolutely. I mean, I-
John Jantsch: Isn’t that awesome? I just got an ad, right in the middle of the show. It was awesome.
John Corcoran: It was smooth as silk. Yeah, I mean, it’s such an effective strategy and it can, it is such a good use of your time, because we were talking beforehand, you could record it as a video and you could publish that on YouTube or some other platform; you can use D-audio, obviously, as a podcast on the different podcasting platforms. You can publish a blog post on your site every time that you do it, and I totally agree with you on guest posting strategy and I say that as someone who wrote, I don’t know; dozens, hundreds of guest posts when I first started out, when I was still building my presence online, including one on your site, years ago. I wrote one on your site years ago, and it is a ton of work. A lot of work, and wouldn’t you rather just pontificate and just speak your mind for a couple of minutes?
John Jantsch: Show up and throw up, for 20 minutes. It’s awesome. So, let’s go there, to that thought leader idea, because obviously that’s something that is a piece of what you’re teaching and helping people with. How do we do effective outreach today? Again, I think the podcast is a great way to do outreach, but I will tell you, I get five or six, probably closer to 10 a day, pitches from people that want to either guest post or want to do something or want me to talk about their product. It seems like there’s this, somebody has written a software program.
John Corcoran: Oh, I know.
John Jantsch: That sends out six emails for everyone. So how do we get away from that? Because that’s gotten so bad I don’t even look at them any more.
John Corcoran: I know, it is, there must be some software out there, right? They just plug in the name of the most recent episode, the guest on the most recent episode, the platitude about why they love that episode, transition into why they, either them or their client should be a guest on your podcast, and I get those same emails. It’s just like, it’s not that much additional effort in order to be a lot more effective. So the first thing I say is don’t just go out there pitching yourself. I did do that years ago, I think now it’s a lot less effective, but I did it at one point. I had an e-book out and I wanted to get myself on some shows, and it did work for a little while. But now I think it’s a lot less effective because anyone who’s been podcasting for longer than a week and a half is receiving a ton of these types of emails. I think a better approach is to deliver value first, long before you ever pitch yourself, or really never pitch yourself. Ideally you’d get to know the person and once they get to know you, they want to have you on, your podcast.
Or, start your own! Honestly, some people say, “aw, I don’t want to start my own podcast, that would be too time-consuming.” But which is more time-consuming? Sending a thousand emails in order to get effectively 10 guest spots? Or starting your own podcast, which if you delegate some of the other work of the actual running, the post-production, which I think you should, it’s not that time-consuming. It’s the same amount of time consumption as just normal conversation that you have with peers and colleagues and that sort of thing. And then that will lead to interviews.
John Jantsch: Well, and I always tell people I’ve been pitching podcasting to every kind of business. Obviously the experts get it, but if you sell software to medical practices, interview your doctors. They’re your customers. Or they’re your prospects. It is, it’s having conversations with your customers is never gonna hurt you, you’re gonna learn more about what you’re doing, they’re gonna become more loyal, they’re gonna get plugged in, they’re gonna tell their friends, “I was on this podcast.” So there’s so many reasons for ever business to do it, you’re absolutely right.
John Corcoran: And that’s how I first got started, actually, before it was even a podcast, I just started interviewing some of my past clients and current clients, and I remember, this was about six, seven years ago now, I had an entrepreneur that started a company that eventually went public. He was actually a pretty successful entrepreneur, but he hired me only to write like an hour’s worth of work to write a small little lease for a room he was renting out in his house. Today it would be handled by Airbnb, but back then I wrote a lease. I researched this guy, I was like, “Wow, this is a really interesting guy! I’d love to have him as a client, how can I get more?” So after I did that I said, “Hey, can I come interview you afterwards?” And I ended up interviewing him and I just literally published it on my blog. I think I transcribed it, put it on my blog, and then what do you know? Like a month or so later he ends up contacting me and saying, “Hey, is there anything, is there something else you can do? Can you help me with something else?” And I’m certain that that wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for me taking the relationship further by doing that interview.
So starting with your clients and your past clients and your prospects is a great place to start. You don’t need to reach out to the Seth Godins of the world, or the Tim Ferrises of the world, which is what everyone does, they try and get those sorts of people. You don’t need to do that. Maybe you do that eventually, but you don’t need to do that when you’re getting started.
John Jantsch: Let’s talk about mentors. That’s a topic I haven’t really covered for a while. It seems like that idea, and maybe it’s because we don’t really need to go and curate a mentor relationship because we can have mentor relationships with anybody who has a podcast, maybe, I don’t know. But what’s your take on the value and process of mentorship?
John Corcoran: I think that the old-school notion of mentorship, as in its someone who is gonna take you under their wing, you’re gonna meet with them on a weekly basis, they’re gonna teach you to be a master craftsman or something, that’s not what people expect these days. I think you’re gonna scare someone off if you approach them and you say, “Hey, can you be my mentor?” Because they’re thinking, “oh man, this is gonna be a huge burden, huge responsibility.” But I’ve got lots of people who I would consider my mentor. They’re people who I go to from time to time, and I also try and keep the relationship one as much close to parity as possible. In other words, I want to deliver as much value to them as possible so that they want to help me. So that they want to turn around and give me advice. I think that’s a critical one. Look how you can help them. The worst thing you can do, if you want to be mentored, especially by someone who’s very successful in their career, very busy, is to try and get as much out of them as possible and to not deliver value to them.
I think delivering value to them is the way that you get mentorship these days, and I also want to just second what you said about ‘you can get mentorship from anything these days.’ From listening to a podcast, YouTube, books, that sort of thing, and actually you will annoy those successful people who have put out books, who’ve spoken on stage, who have content out there, who’ve put a lot of content out there. They’re trying to speak in a one-to-many capacity and get their message out. You send them an email for something that they’ve answered 100 different times through their blog, their speeches, and videos and all that kind of stuff, and they’re just gonna be annoyed by that. You have to be sure that you take advantage of all those resources that are out there.
John Jantsch: All right, another hot topic: mastermind groups. Again, I think they have tremendous value, and unfortunately it’s one of those things that I, you see the internet marketing crowd really sucking up, and so now it’s become a big business to run mastermind groups, but I think in their purest sense, and I believe that you actually have that as part of Rise 25, is that right?
John Corcoran: Yes, yes we do.
John Jantsch: I think in their purest sense, they can be extremely valuable, but how do you find and nurture that mastermind group that’s really gonna have value and not just be a ‘sit around and chat.’
John Corcoran: Yeah, I mean, in some ways we wouldn’t’ even be having this conversation if it weren’t for mastermind groups, right? Because you and Michael Port have been in a mastermind group, and he introduced us, so there’s great value to them. I’ve been in mastermind groups for years. First of all, not everyone knows what the idea is behind a mastermind group. A mastermind group is a collection, a meeting of peers who exchange ideas on a regular basis. It might be weekly, it might be monthly, it might be quarterly, it might be a free group of people who get together, and it might be something that’s paid. You pay a company like ours, Rise 25, in order to curate that kind of environment for you.
Whatever you do, I say just try something. Give one of them a shot. I’ve been in good mastermind groups and I’ve been in bad mastermind groups. Sometimes you just decide, “This is not a good fit for me.” I was in one a number of years back where I remember people just started complaining about other people that they’d seen who had achieved success that they didn’t’ feel deserved that level of success, and it was not constructive. That was not the type of environment I wanted to be a part of, so I dropped out of it shortly after that. But I’ve been in another mastermind group that I’ve been in now for about four years, and we’ve all grown together.
One of my friends who’s, Bjork, who’s in the mastermind group, he, when we started he was living in his parents’ basement. Now he’s running a multiple-seven-figure business. So it’s really cool to have that kind of relationship and your ideas can really feed off of one another. You can bounce ideas off of one another in a way that you can get that kind of candid feedback from people who really know you and know your needs and wants and likes and that sort of thing. So I’m a huge advocate of doing them and I say try some out and see what feels right for you.
John Jantsch: So tell us where people can find out more about the work that you’re doing, including that with Rise25, John.
John Corcoran: Awesome, John, thanks so much. So yeah, Smart Business Revolution is my original blog and podcast. Rise25.com is the company that I run now with Dr. Jeremy Wise, and stop by and say hello. Love to connect with people.
John Jantsch: All right, thanks John, and hopefully we’ll see you next time we’re out in either San Francisco or Santa Barbara.
John Corcoran: That’d be great, yeah. See you soon.