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John Jantsch: Hello, and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch, and my guest today is Jim Kukral. He is an expert in online marketing and branding, also an author of a book we’re going to talk about today. He’s written a few others as well, but we’re going to focus on Your Journey to Becoming Unskippable. So Jim, thanks for joining me.
Jim Kukral: It’s great to be here on your awesome podcast.
John Jantsch: So let’s define the word unskippable. What are you trying to say there?
Jim Kukral: Well when I came up with the concept of unskippable, it was really about what it meant to me. And it’s today’s busy business world, and society in general, it’s a mindsets. What are you unskippable to yourself, your family, your friends, your customers, right? And I really kind of make the argument in the book that the world has become skippable. DVR’s allow us to fast-forward through the commercials, and we’re staring at our phones an average of three hours a day. Kids are staring at their phones an average of nine-and-a-half hours a day. And it’s getting harder and harder to break though and get yourself noticed. So when you become unskippable, you do things like purposely attract lifetime customers. You use a different level of thinking of how to make yourself stand out in today’s really complicated and busy world.
John Jantsch: So I’m assuming most people think, and you’ve already mentioned the context of business, but really you spend a lot of time in this talking about how people are skippable. And you’re not just talking about a brand or a product, but that there’s an element to life in general that needs to be applied to this unskippable. So how do we do that?
Jim Kukral: Yeah, so that’s why it’s called Journey to Becoming Unskippable in Your Business, Life, and Career. And when I started writing this book I had just come off a really tumultuous point in my life, I made a huge mistake and I decided to get into local politics. And that I tell the story in the book, but it almost destroyed my marriage, it almost destroyed my businesses, it almost destroyed my finances. And that really caused me to change the way I look at my life, on my businesses, on my relationships with friends and family. And of course, it also helped me learn how people think and how people buy.
Jim Kukral: I mean there’s something about marketing yourself to people, to their face as opposed to just being a faceless brand on the internet. And when I went to thousands of doors in my neighborhood and talked to people about myself and my values and my beliefs, and actually communicated with people face-to-face, I really learned what it took to become unskippable to those people. And I don’t want to ruin the story in the book, but I won my first election. And then what happened after that became extremely difficult, and that’s when it almost ruined everything for me, so that’s really what it’s all about.
John Jantsch: I actually spent the first couple years of my business doing a lot of political work, marketing for political campaigns. And it didn’t take me very long to realize that I didn’t want to be in that world. So I can’t imagine being on the other side being an elected official as well. But the good news is you did not fail, you learned, right?
Jim Kukral: I did learn, and it was a big learning lesson for me, and it really changed my perspective on business and life. And that’s really what this book is, it’s kind of a cross-genre inspirational business book. There’s a ton of business case studies, and marketing studies and things like that in it. But it’s all flown around the concept of what it is to be unskippable in those instances, in marketing and business, but also in your life and your career.
John Jantsch: So I can imagine some people, and we’re going to get into this, so I’m going to give you the chance to defend this position. I can imagine some people thinking, “Okay I become unskippable by figuring out how to get more attention, and maybe by being louder.” And I’m not sure that that’s actually what you’re suggesting is it?
Jim Kukral: No, actually the first book I wrote nine years ago, Attention, was about that concept. But that was nine years ago, the world’s changed a little bit since then, right? So attention, the argument that people make that it’s harder and harder to get attention, in one way that’s true, but that’s really not what this book is about. It’s about trying to get through all the distractions. So I talk about stories about how college kids, did you realize that college students they don’t watch Netflix or television shows or anything. They do it with the closed captioning on. And after you ask why it’s because they say, “I can retain more information” because they’re doing multiple things.
Jim Kukral: My kids they don’t watch TV, they watch YouTube videos. And when they’re watching the TV show, they’re also watching a YouTube video. And at the same time, they’re chatting with friends on Instagram and Snapchat. And they got one bud in, and it’s frustrating as heck when I’m trying to watch a show with them. But in today’s world, we’re so distracted, more than ever. And it’s not about attention, we don’t have an attention problem. We just have a problem of getting people to pay attention long enough so that when they do like our content, and they do like what we put out there, then they will pay attention and consume it veraciously.
Jim Kukral: And that’s true, it’s like binge watching. So once you find a show that’s validated with social proof and everyone says, “You should watch this.” And once you get into it and watch it, you’ll sit down and watch 10 hours of it straight. So it’s not an attention problem, it’s a problem of trying to create content that people really want to pay attention to.
John Jantsch: It’s funny you mention that demographic of millennials, and another kind of common thing that I’m seeing is if someone does commercials or a commercial entertainment that is really good and really effective, I mean they’ll eat that up as well. They don’t see it as advertising at that point because it’s so engaging.
Jim Kukral: Yeah, it’s absolutely true. I mean creating content, the book’s not a content marketing book. Content marketing still works, traditional benefit based marketing tactics still work. You got your free shipping, and your coupons, and all that stuff, that’s never going to go away. The difference is in today’s skippable world, those things are expected. They expect you to have those things. Now people want something more from you, of course they want great content, and they can spot the ads even the content marketing, get my white paper and get with your email … they realize that’s an ad.
Jim Kukral: I like to say it’s like remember the movie Christmas Story when Ralphie gets his secret decoder ring, and then finds out that the message is, “Drink more Ovaltine.” Even younger generations today, we’ve reached the point where people are like, “Okay I get it, it’s an ad, but I really need more from you as a brand. And I need to understand why you’re going to share same beliefs with me, because I want to support you on that level now. I don’t want to just do business with somebody who has a good free shipping offer,” I guess is the best way to say it.
John Jantsch: So what are some of the key attributes of an unskippable business. And I don’t mean the things they do, I mean how would you know your business is unskippable?
Jim Kukral: Well obviously if you’re attracting lifetime customers, and I like to say purposely attracting lifetime customers, and one of the things I talk about in great depth in the book in part two of the book is belief driven buyers. And Edelman did a study about this last year when they talked about belief driven buyers and 64% of consumers now consider themselves to be belief driven buyers. And a belief driven buyer is somebody who chooses to do business with, or not do business with, based upon a shared belief. And consumers, regular people now they used to trust politicians and governments, they don’t anymore. Their turning to brands who now share their same beliefs.
Jim Kukral: I talk of the story of course about Colin Kaepernick and Nike in there, and how they use Kaepernick to share a common belief with their belief driven buyers. I tell a story in the book about Yeti Coolers, who they got into kind of a scuffle with a national organization, and their belief driven buyers turned on them and started blowing their coolers up with dynamite, and shooting them with high powered rifles. But here’s what’s interesting, the people who used to be their customers who stopped buying from them, the other people who never knew about Yeti started buying their product.
Jim Kukral: So we talk about this polarizing world that we’re living in and how people want to share these beliefs, and I give a ton of case studies and stories about how important it is, because I always say this, would you rather have 1% of the entire market, or 100% of half of it? Because there’s a lot of people right now you’re a struggling business owner and you’re like, I don’t know how I’m going to make payroll this month, I don’t know how we’re going to do this, we’re going to get by over the next six months. Well guess what, sometimes you don’t have to take political stands, but customers want to know what you care about. And they’re choosing to do business with people who share those values with them, and that could be the difference between you making payroll, or that could be the difference between you having the best year ever.
John Jantsch: Yeah. I always tell people, “You don’t have to take a stand, but you have to stand for something.”
Jim Kukral: Exactly.
John Jantsch: And I think that’s the way to look at it. And it’s funny, and I don’t want to go down this rabbit hole because it’s easy to do, but I think a lot of people scratch their head and don’t understand how are people loyal to Trump, how did people vote for him? The people that are on the side that are not favored, I think people fail to realize that he’s not a politician, he’s a brand for those folks. And I think that’s why he gets away with things that other politicians would never get away with. And I think that’s the explanation for it is his fans, or whatever you want to call them, see him as a brand and not as a politician.
Jim Kukral: Well that’s why the entire part two of this book is called Understanding Today’s Consumer and Polarized World. And there’s a great quote in the beginning of that chapter and it says, “You will continue to suffer if you have an emotional reaction to everything that is said to you, true power is sitting back and observing things with logic.” Now the internet isn’t sure who said that, they either say it was Bruce Lee or Warren Buffett. But it’s really a great quote, and it’s kind of a good set up for the whole middle part of this book which is exactly what you said, understanding how people think is what you need to really get through your head. In today’s really tribalized world, once you have an understanding of how your customers think, then you can market to them in a better scenario.
John Jantsch: So and again I’m putting myself in a position of a listener out there because I get these questions all the time when I talk too, but what if I’m in this really boring business? A business nobody talks about, or even wants to talk about, because they don’t want people to know that they’re going to a psychiatrist, or they’re doing x, y, z? I mean how does the boring business make themselves unskippable?
Jim Kukral: I actually talk about that in the book. I did a great interview with our friend Andrew Davis, amazing speaker, amazing business person. And we talked about that, and we talked about an accounting firm. And he brings up the great point, he’s like “The joyful experience that they don’t give me when I turn in my taxes is something that will not make me recommend my firm to somebody else.” So if somebody goes on social media, which happens a million times a day, “Hey who do you use for your accounting or your tax services?” Well there’s two answers you can give.
Jim Kukral: The first one is, “I use x, y, z tax and they’re fine.” Or you could give the other answer, which is, “Oh I use x, y, z tax. They are the best tax company in the world. They come and they pick up my tax information from me at my house. And then when it’s done, they call me and invite me to this breakfast at the place over on 130th Street with those great pancakes and they give me free breakfast, and they hand my tax stuff over.” Those joyful experiences that you create with a customer, even with a boring business.
Jim Kukral: I mean accounting to a lot of people is boring, it’s boring to me, I don’t like doing my taxes and accounting. Even if you’re a plumber, or an accountant or whatever, it’s about creating joyful experiences for your customers. And those are going to be the things that they’re going to talk about, talk about Jay Baer’s Talk Triggers book in there. When people have a joyful experience with you, that’s when they talk about you. Like Jay Baer says with the Cheesecake Factory. There’s so many great examples in the book about those types of things.
John Jantsch: I think some of the biggest blow up crazy businesses over the last decade or so are people that have changed or disrupted what you call a poor experience. I mean getting a taxi and getting in a taxi and going from point A to point B was a terrible experience, people did it because they had to get from point A to point B. Uber completely disrupts that poor experience, and whether you like Uber or not, today I mean that company went from nothing to really, really giant by disrupting a poor experience. So how do we look at our market that way?
Jim Kukral: Yeah, you’re right about the disruption. I mean I tell a lot of stories in the book about disruption from the angle of thinking differently about your business and how you can disrupt something with joyful experiences. And the one basic conclusion I come to is do you know why retail’s dying, a lot of it? It’s because people don’t want to go to the store anymore. They don’t want to get in their car, and they don’t want to be bothered.
Jim Kukral: You know why car dealerships are not going to really be effective in the future? Because nobody wants to go to the car dealership and deal with the car sales person with the clip on tie trying to get a deal from their manager, and three hours there, and signing paperwork. That’s why companies like Carvana.com are exploding, because you go online, find the car you want, get the financing. Then you have it delivered to the vending machine near your home, you drive over and you put your token in, and out pops your car and you drive home.
Jim Kukral: You don’t have to deal with the sales person, you don’t have to deal with all those not enjoyable experiences. Same thing with anything, Warby Parker, getting your glasses sent to your home. You try them on, figure out the one you like, and you send the rest of the ones back. The other one that I really love is Casper, who does mattresses. So you don’t have to go to a store to deal with a pushy mattress sales person anymore. You can go to their dreameries, and there’s no sales people in there trying to sell you anything. They just want you to come and test out the mattress.
Jim Kukral: Then you go back to the website, figure out the mattress you want, order it. They’ll ship it to your house, bring it, put it into your room. You sleep on it for 100 days, and if you don’t like it, all you have to do is literally call them. They’ll come and pick it up, take it back, and give you your money back. It’s not like you have to take it to the post office and put a bunch of stamps on it, I always thought that was a pretty funny mental image. So they’re disrupting this entire model, which is people don’t want to be bothered with leaving their houses anymore. They don’t want to be bothered with all of these things that take time and create so much pain for them.
John Jantsch: Well and unfortunately, or fortunately if you’re a consumer, I mean the more companies that do that and disrupt those industries, the more it just becomes an expectation. That they are actually creating buyer behavior that hey if you’re not, that becomes the minimum bar now. If you’re not doing that, then why would I even consider it? Because once I’ve had that experience, I start wanting it everywhere, don’t I?
Jim Kukral: Well that is what Jeff Bezos has trained us to do. We now expect that we can go online, click a button, and have something delivered to our home. There’s a company called Enjoy Technologies, and basically what they do is if you order an iPhone you can go to the Apple store, you can go to your AT&T center, you can go to Best Buy. But what Enjoy will do is if you order the product, the iPhone online, they’ll actually bring it to your house, have a trained expert bring it into your home. Sit down with you, transfer all your files, set it up for you, and show you how to use it, and it’s all free. So why would you want it any other way?
John Jantsch: Yeah. And so now we start demanding it. So if you’re one of those companies out there that are still doing things the way that they’ve always been done in our industry, I mean I speak at a lot of conferences for sometimes outdated business models that are still hanging on there. But they want to learn how to use the internet, and things that people have been doing. And it’s like hey, you may not think that this is where it’s going, but these other companies, you have to take notice and you have to do it. So at the end of the book you make an offer for people to write a book with you, what’s that all about?
Jim Kukral: Yeah, I really love the concept of how to become unskippable in pretty much any vertical or industry. So I’m looking for people who want to write books with me in different industries and verticals. So if you’re the best plumber in the world, or goat herder in the world, or accountant and you’re interested in writing some type of unskippable book with me, I’d just say reach out to me because I’d love to talk to you about it. Because I really think that the unskippable mindset applies across pretty much any vertical. Once you understand what it is you’re trying to accomplish, and how you want to stand out and be different, it’s just a matter of applying that to your industry. So that’s my plan is to write a bunch of different books in different verticals that are going to help people.
John Jantsch: And the unskippable franchise is born. Jim, where can more people find out about unskippable, and you in general, and maybe if they want to write that book with you?
Jim Kukral: You can just go to beunskippable.com, that’s beunskippable.com. And you get to my website, and you can see everything there. And yeah, I really enjoyed writing this, John. This was the, it’s the best thing I’ve ever written, and the most personal thing I’ve ever written. And I’m really proud of it, and I know that people are really going to enjoy it. So thank you for taking some time for allowing me to tell people about it because I really respect your business, your career, and everything you’ve done, and it means a lot to me.
John Jantsch: Well thank you, Jim. And your passion for this comes across and this is more than a book, this sounds like a movement. So we’ll have beunskippable.com in the show notes. Appreciate you tuning in. And Jim, hopefully we’ll run into you soon out there on the road.
Jim Kukral: It’s been my pleasure John, thank you again.