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Intro: Welcome to the Smart Energized Entrepreneurs Podcast with JP Stonestreet, episode #17.
JP: In today’s episode, Randy Valentine from Align Global Marketing shares all of his marketing and publicity secrets. He is a wealth of marketing information. If you are struggling with getting people to your website or your business or buying your products, this episode is a must listen to. Randy has done marketing for McAfee and TiVo, he has gone to Africa and spent time there working for Humanitarian International Services Group where helped local people in Africa start their own business and begin their own entrepreneurial journey and Randy talks quite a bit about that experience; it’s an amazing experience and to be honest, if somebody in Africa with very little money and very little in the way of economic or government support or business support can start their own business, there is no reason why anyone in America can’t do it, there is simply no reason and I think after you hear Randy talk about that, you are going to feel the same way plus he gives you lots of ways that you can actually market your business and get people to your business and buying your products and services. So, this is a great interview. Before we get into the interview though, I want to do a little plug for my website JPStonestreet.com. If you haven’t signed up for my newsletter, go there and do that so you will make sure and be notified when all of these podcasts get produced, I sent out a weekly digest for that. I also sent out a newsletter periodically, not very often, but every once in a while I will send something and if I will feel very passionate about a topic and I feel like everyone should know about it then I will share that through my newsletter. Also, as a thank you for signing up, you will get my list of seven resources that I use in my business, they are absolutely critical piece of my business and I share those with you and also you get to download 75 pages of my book The Web Startup Roadmap which is one-fourth of the book and it is in my opinion the best fourth, it’s the first part of it that kind of shares my entrepreneurial journey and my triumph over many failures. So, go there, sign up at JPStonestreet.com and you will get to start reading about all of my failures. It’s a fun read. All right, without further ado, I am going to introduce you to Randy Valentine.
Welcome Randy to this episode of the Smart Energized Entrepreneurs Podcast, how is it going today?
Randy: It is going well JP. Thank you very much. It’s a little chilly, but has been a great day so far.
JP: Yes, I just looked at the temperature, it’s -9 here in GreenwoodVillage.
Randy: Yes, I was out this morning actually shoveling the driveway and it was 14 below. So, I had icicles on my nose and on my eyelashes, believe it or not. So, great way to start today.
JP: Yes, I know. This is unseasonably cold even for Colorado.
Randy: Yes, it is.
JP: Okay Randy, let’s go ahead and dive on in and start talking about you and your history. I read your bio, you have some fascinating experience in Silicon Valley and McAfee, TiVo, Humanitarian International Services Group, man you have got all kinds of stuffs that I would like to talk about. So, just go ahead and start telling us about your history, your personal history and what led you to where you are right now and then we will talk about your business.
Randy: Great, I appreciate that. Yes, it has been an interesting journey I will tell you. Looking back in a rearview mirror, I never would have predicted this path, but it’s worked out pretty well. I actually graduated college – graduated at San Diego State with a degree in Geology and I thought I would go into environmental science’s field and that was in the mid 90s and quickly realized that in order to do that they required really a PhD and I figured I am not a PhD candidate. So, I got a shift in my focus into what was booming at that time and that was Silicon Valley. It was early to mid 90s, companies were just taking off, the internet was taking off, it was a real exciting time. So, I just kind of got my foot in the door at a small startup called Storm Technology that is no longer with us anymore, which is the kind of the story of many Silicon Valley companies.
Randy: But I got my foot in the door there through customer service and actually was promoted into product marketing and from there really I just kind of kept going down that path. I loved marketing, I loved working with engineers, I loved working with clients and customers. So, from Storm, I actually went to Network Associates which is also McAfee. I worked on the retail side of things at that time and there was a group that internally that spun off McAfee.com, of course again, this is early internet days. So, the concept of taking a piece of software that you would normally buy in a box at Best Buy, they took all that and made it an online downloadable service, which at that time was revolutionary. So, we worked and grew that company from zero to millions of customers, it was a ton of fun and learned amazing amount of things there and then actually went over to TiVo which at that time was not really in startup mode. They had just gone public and they had actually been around for a while, but they were looking to grow their marketing department and I worked with the marketing team over there again on a variety of things, but mainly working with the sales team, the sales team into retail and just again had an amazing experience there, learned all kinds of things and really was just at the forefront of the company on that cutting edge technology with TiVo and then made a move to Colorado and thought I wanted to kind of dive into the non-profit world and just kind of see how things worked over there and not really knowing what I was going to really about to embark upon and that was spending several years, literally flying around the world, helping the poorest of the poor start small businesses, mainly focused on North Africa and the Middle East, but would just travel over there, work with people, train them on entrepreneurial principles, a little bit of world view and won’t really go into too many details there, but just helping them change their outlook. There are many languages in the continent of Africa that don’t really have terms for a time further out in two weeks because they are so focused on today, they are focused on “I need to eat today, I need to survive today” that to change their focus to more of a long-term thinking was something that we also did and it was just phenomenal, helping people start these micro to small businesses and mentor them into medium sized businesses and it was there that I really connected and understood kind of what it takes, what the entrepreneurial spirit is and realized I actually have that in me and this is something that I want to do. I actually left that organization HISG, Humanitarian International Services Group, because I was traveling quite a bit and I had two little boys at home and I just made a tough decision to leave something that I love to actually spend more time at home with my family as opposed to being on the road four to six months a year. So, from there I helped start another small company called Twenty 1 Five and we designed and made really high-end artistic furniture utilizing reclaimed wood and that was an amazing experience in and of itself, learned a lot there as well, but really along the side of that I started doing this Align Global Marketing and that really puts me back to where my passion is. My passion is working with people to help them understand the benefits of marketing, help them understand how that aligns with business development and how that aligns with their bottom-line of their organization and helping them be more successful. So, that’s where I am today.
JP: Wow! That is a story past, Randy.
Randy: It is, it is.
JP: That’s amazing to think that you were in North Africa, in the Middle East helping people start businesses. We always think that America is the place, land of opportunity, the place where businesses are started and to think that about helping people in those countries start a business, that is just amazing because it’s their whole environment is not set up to support that like we are.
Randy: You are exactly right. That’s one of the biggest struggles over there. The entrepreneurial spirit over there is almost – especially in Africa is – you almost have to have that, it’s a survival mentality that really is taking place over there, over Niger, Mali, and Morocco and Tunisia and a lot of these countries when you are poor and you really don’t have anything else to really look forward to, you have to go and you have to do something in order to survive and that just breeds this thinking, this entrepreneurial spirit that really is alive and thriving over there and it was just amazing to be able to work with people who – one guy who started selling honey, literally started selling honey from just – he had like two or three jars of honey that he was able to borrow from a friend’s honey hive and he built that into having his own hives and making his own honey with filters and having a brand on it and everything and it’s just fun to watch these folks go from really nothing to something and it was just incredibly fulfilling.
JP: I can imagine, yes. I help people start businesses here in the good old US and I feel the same way when I see that sparkle in someone’s eye after they launched their business and it’s like they have come to life. Lots of time when I meet with people for the first time and they are just thinking about starting a business and they are worried and nervous and then as we go through the process and their website gets launched and they get their business cards and they start getting customers, you can just visually see them come to life.
Randy: Yes, it is absolutely so true. Yes, and that definitely happens here as well and it’s the same response like you said from people who really haven’t started a business but have thought about it and/or are thinking about it and to help them go through those stuffs and get everything up and running and going is – there is really not a sensation or feeling like that. It’s very unique and it’s very satisfying.
JP: It is very satisfying. All right, so let’s talk about your current company Align Global Marketing. What is that, what do you, how do you help people?
Randy: Well essentially several different things that I do, really I have several different clients that I have worked with in the past and I am currently working with that it ranges really from startups to people who or companies that are already established, but the bottom line is helping them understand on the benefits of marketing, helping them understand what their marketing strategy should be and then helping them understand how that aligns with business development – really most businesses have a product of some sort or service even their service could be a product and it’s helping them understand what that is and then how do they actually – how do all these things align themselves for the bottom line of the organization and what I found is that marketing many times as thought of as that’s just my logo and/or it’s my brochure and it’s all of outwardly facing things that I create for my company and it’s like it’s so much more than that. It’s the communications that you give. It’s the employees that you hire. It’s the way that they present themselves to customers. It’s the product itself and the way that that products interacts with customers, it’s your customer service. All of that encompasses marketing and so it’s helping educate people exactly what is marketing, how is this going to benefit your company and then how do we move this forward with the strategy to go to market plan and at the end of the day the goal is to improve the bottom line of the organization.
JP: Yes, and you have to measure the ROI. A lot of people don’t understand the concept of ROI which stands for Return on Investment or Return of Investment depending on what part of the country you are in. So, that’s a critical piece of the marketing equation that a lot of people overlook or underestimate and I assume that you help people figure that out as well.
Randy: Absolutely. It’s interesting that you brought that up JP because the first stuff I experienced that it was at McAfee, we obviously had some metrics that we were to adhere to and we are to report on in the organization. Once we got over to TiVo, we were actually responsible for part of the P&L, the Profit and Loss of the organization. So, marketing was directly responsible for income coming into the organization and that concept was kind of new for people. It’s like “Wait a second, marketing? We are supposed to be responsible for the bottom line.” I was like “Absolutely because we are going out and we are equipping the sales team.” So, really it’s our job is to get customers into the door and then it’s the sales team’s job to sort of close the sale if you want to call it that, and so we should be responsible for that and so, tracking those things and bringing that ROI that Return on Investment report back to upper management is critically important and whether you are a one person organization or a thousand person organization or bigger, at the end of the day that is an incredibly critical piece to success your organization. If marketing can’t really establish exactly what they are doing and exactly how they are bringing their bottom line up then some things need to change there.
JP: I agree. Okay, so my target market and most of my audience I think are probably early stage entrepreneur, solopreneurs, some of them are probably wantrepreneurs and not – they want to be, but they are not yet. So, what advice can you give small business owner without a huge marketing budget? What types of things should we be doing to market our business?
Randy: Well, I think the most cost effective thing to do these days is social media is so important and it’s so big and it’s so – I still think it’s still in its early stages. I think we are going to see social marketing, social media continue to evolve over time and become even better for small businesses and even better way to outreach. So, my whole thing when I talk to small businesses like that, I say “Let’s focus on things that are free or very low cost” and social media falls into that category. There are other things which you can do. I am big fan of PR. I think public relations, getting press, getting articles written about your organization which essentially is free, it is a huge piece of marketing that you can do. Again, it takes an effort because you need to figure out what’s your story, what’s your pitch, what makes your organization unique and why would an audience out there, let’s pick 5280 Magazine in Denver for example – why would the readers of 5280 be interested in hearing about your company and so we – I help people develop that story and pitch that to those magazines and from there you will get hundreds of thousands of people reading about the organization and so for me grassroots, low cost, marketing efforts are incredibly successful or can be incredibly successful and definitely a way to go.
JP: Okay, I want to dive into both of those a little bit that the PR and the social media. So, let’s start with the PR first and that’s what we just talked about. Okay, so how do I reach these people? Do you have those contacts? If I am not working with you or if I don’t have a publicist or PR person working for me, how do I get in touch with the people who write those articles and how do I get them to write about me?
Randy: That’s a great question. So, essentially what I have done in the past and I do have growing list of contacts, but I don’t know everybody out there in the media world. I basically just – I think about the audience and I think about the product, the company. So, I may just use Twenty 1 Five for example, so the company that I ran for a while, the high end furniture organization. So, we made custom furniture, dining room tables, side tables, things along those lines. So, my thought was who would be interested in reading about us. 5280 Magazine I thought that could be an interesting audience, we are based here in the Denver area and they have in fact I think the largest circulation of any of the major metropolitan city magazines out there, they are the largest one in the country. So, I said this could be really good for us. So, we thought about the story. We said “Okay, what’s the pitch, what makes us unique?” Then I just looked up online, I went to their website and I found their editors and I got their phone numbers and I got their email addresses and I made phone calls and I sent emails and I basically didn’t write the story for them, but I wrote a very short summary of what the story would be about and why it would be interesting to their audience and what section that it would go in. We also did that with Luxe Magazine. Luxe Magazine is a very high end artistic furniture magazine that’s nationally read. Same thing, I just did a pitch to them and I said here is why I think Twenty 1 Five would be interesting to your audience and just made some phone calls and some emails and a week later I followed up and you don’t want to be a past, but at the same time you want to keep it top of mind because here is the deal, at the end of the day, they need content, they need stories to fill the pages of their magazine and so if you have something that’s interesting to them, there is a very good chance they are going to pick up your story and write it in their magazine.
JP: Okay, so you suggest emailing and calling on the phone, so what do you say in each of those? If I pick up the phone and call somebody, let’s say the Denver Post, what would I say to them?
Randy: I would basically just call them up and say “Hey, John, this is Randy. I am calling from Twenty 1 Five, I am calling from Align Global Marketing and I want to talk to you about a story pitch that I have for you” and if it’s a voice mail, I leave just a very short message for them to say “Hey, I have got a very interesting story that I think you might be interested in, I will call you back to see if I can get in touch with you and also, I have sent you an email. So, if it is easier for you, reply back to that email.” If they do pick up then again I kind of want to keep it relatively short because I know that they are busy and so I will just type out a little bit of a script basically on what I am going to say to them and say “Here is my story, here is my product, here is why I think is going to be interesting to your audience and I have actually written a short summary of potential article that I would like to send to you and submit to you and see if it’s something you would be interested in and picking up and expanding upon” and so it’s giving them the interest in your organization, but also giving them some of the tools to then easily pick this up and expand on it and write a longer more lengthy story on your organization.
JP: Okay, so let’s say that you have got contacts at the Denver Post and 5280 and 9 News. Do you send the same pitch to all of them or do you create a separate pitch for each one?
Randy: It kind of depends. Those three that you mentioned might be the same pitch, but let’s say my product again is custom furniture and we are targeting Breckenridge and these higher end communities, I would change the pitch a little bit and talk about how the furniture would look nice in these custom log homes where these custom high end – custom homes which I can’t take the name of them, but they have all the reclaimed wood in the style of the homes and so I would use that. The fact that we use reclaimed wood and that it fits nicely into the design of the homes to be a story that a local newspaper would carry. The other thing that I would do with Twenty 1 Five would be – is the green side of the story and that is we don’t cut down trees for our furniture. We use old reclaimed wood and repurpose it to make new furniture. So, again, it’s finding that niche, that story, that thing that makes your product unique that is going to sell.
JP: Okay, wow there is a lot of information.
Randy: There is, yes there is. We can talk about this alone for an hour.
JP: I know and that’s because you are a marketing person that’s where I want to focus this interview on because that is the hardest part for most of the people that I know and meet including myself. There are a lot of people that just love what they do and marketing is an afterthought. People like you help us realize that marketing needs to be at the forefront and everything else needs to be equal or less than marketing because you can love it, but if nobody knows about it, it doesn’t do a lot of good. It’s a hobby, it’s not a business.
Randy: You are absolutely right and I have another client here in town Kathy Janak, Janak Jewelry is her company and she makes incredible jewelry and so she has a phenomenal product, but doesn’t have necessarily the marketing skills to get this out there, that’s why she hired me to come alongside her and so, for her pitch or something like PR, just to kind of expand on this may be just a little bit more is her story is architecture, interior design and now she is doing this jewelry that really plays off of her background and so we can reach out to the architecture type magazines, we can reach out to design magazines, we can reach out to jewelry magazines and talk about her unique design, her unique handmade custom jewelry and is based here in Denver. So, that’s why 5280 might be an interesting magazine to reach out because it’s a local story as well. So, it’s really just working with the clients, helping them think through what makes their product unique because everybody has got a story to tell, every company has a story to tell and we need to figure out what that story is, develop that story and get it out there for the audiences to be able to read and to learn about.
JP: Yes, Kathy is actually how you and I met. She introduced us. I have been working with Kathy for over a year now from the web site of things and she does make beautiful jewelry and I will put a link to her website and also to your furniture website that you mentioned and all of your stuff on the show notes page for this podcast, that is at JPStonestreet.com/podcasts. So, you can find her beautiful jewelry there, it is amazing, it’s very unique and geometrical and it’s beautiful and I have been telling her for over a year now that the only thing standing between her and phenomenal success is awareness.
Randy: That’s right, that’s exactly right.
JP: Currently lack thereof and I have told her over and over again and it’s just a shame that more people don’t about her stuff because it is so unique and pretty and I am glad that she is working with you and may be she can start getting the word out there a little bit more because I know this is her passion. This is what she really wants to do. She is still working a day job to pay the bills, but she really wants to do the jewelry thing.
Randy: That’s right.
JP: So, I am hopeful that you can help her get over that hump.
Randy: I know we will and that we will definitely get over that hump and I am excited what the next three to four months is going to bring about for her company. So, we got some exciting things lined up. So, it is looking good.
JP: She is on my list for the podcast interview too. I have already talked to her.
Randy: Oh! Great.
JP: She will probably be coming up in the next couple of months.
Randy: Fantastic, good.
JP: Okay, so let’s circle back – that’s great information on public relations and that is high on my list of things to do right now. I had a book publicist; it didn’t work out as well as I had hoped. She did however give me a few – she got me three radio interviews. In one of those, I met a guy, a professional PR person in the lobby of a radio station as I was going out, he was getting ready to go in, he was the interview after me and so we just kind of met there unofficial and we exchanged business cards and I met him last time I was in LA again and now we are going to start working together. He is going to help me put together a publicity plan, have my assistant help me execute it and so, I am really looking forward to see how this new pubic relations spin or effort goes. So, I will make sure and keep you apprised on that.
Randy: Please do, that’s great. Really, I learned this when I was at TiVo and our PR director there was so good at what she did and she brought in so much awareness for TiVo and got us on like the Oprah Winfrey Show, I mean just a variety, Ellen DeGeneres – in fact there was a time where Ellen when she would sit and interview people on that little table in between her seat, there was a TiVo box there and she would just refer to TiVo all the time and winds like that are public relation winds and creating those types of relationships through PR is priceless. The awareness that you can get from that is amazing and so I am a full firm believer on PR and the benefits of PR.
JP: Yes, I have heard a saying before that “Advertising is what you pay for and publicity is what you pray for.” Is there any accuracy to that?
Randy: I would agree with that, I think that’s absolutely right, I haven’t heard that before but that’s good.
JP: Yes, and I think a lot of it is just diligence, it’s just following up and keep going and keep trying, keep contacting until they tell you to stop.
Randy: Well that’s so true and if you are afraid of hearing the word “no” then you might not be – you might not have a stomach for entrepreneurship because you hear “no” a lot and you just have to keep going and you got to keep moving on.
JP: Yes, I think I was reading Jack Canfield, the Chicken Soup for the Soul guy. He sent his book to like a couple hundred publishers or something before one of them said yes and that was in the days when self-publishing wasn’t a real viable option like it is today. If you want your book out there, you had to have a real publisher and they were very picky about what they chose and he said “I just kept going, I kept getting no’s and just kept going.” A lot of people would give up after two or five or ten no’s, but it’s proved that if you stick with it – you might hear 200 no’s, but the 201st might be a yes.
Randy: That’s exactly right and Dr. Seuss’ story is the same. He pitched his stories to dozens of different publishers and he just kept getting no after no and finally somebody picked it up and everybody knows Dr. Seuss. It’s a very incredibly famous name. So, that’s just it, you have to – whether it’s PR or whether it’s making cold calls to try to open up some doors for potential clients or whatever it is, you are going to hear no a lot and that’s okay. You hear no, that’s some sales people would say well that’s just one step closer to yes, and it’s like yes it is, but I would like to think of it differently. It’s like every time you make a phone call and every time you hear a no, you learn something and so I would reflect back and say “Okay, what did I say, how did it go, why do I think that they said no” and I would sort of evaluate that and say “Okay, what can I improve upon next time when I get to make the next phone call” and so it’s a learning experience. When we do, we definitely do hear no a lot, but we just keep moving forward.
JP: Yes, you just have to get used to let downs, especially as an entrepreneur not just in marketing or public relations, but just as an entrepreneur in general.
Randy: That’s right.
JP: You are going to hear lots of no’s, you are going to have failures, you just have to get up, brush yourself off and keep going.
Randy: Absolutely, that’s exactly right, yes.
JP: Okay, so let’s circle back around to social media.
JP: I would like to know how you use it and if social media works for every type of business or are there specific businesses that it works for and specific ones that it doesn’t necessarily work for?
Randy: Well, it is interesting. I definitely wouldn’t say I am a social media expert, but I have lots of opinions on it and I don’t think social media would work for every company. I think that there are certain companies that it works very well for. I think we saw from – just as an example over the Super Bowl this past weekend, there was the Coca Cola ad that apparently created a bunch of controversy and there were some posts on social media, there are some posts on various places, I think Time Magazine even has written an article now about it, but it’s basically when you try to get your brand out there and you are trying to send a message, when you are Coca Cola, you can pretty much do whatever you want, but as a small organization, when you are trying to get your brand out there, you always need to think about okay what is it that I am trying to say and what is it that I am trying to get my customers to understand, so they will come back and purchase my product and social media I think is a great way to do that because you can – for example let’s say you use Facebook, you could create a simple Facebook page, in fact some people use Facebook instead of a website now. They use their Facebook page as their website. You can set up a simple Facebook page, put your company information on there, your contact information and what you do, you start communicating, obviously you need people to follow or like your page, and you can start with your friends and family, and it will grow from there, but basically it’s a communication tool. So, you are just communicating things about your organization, about you personally possibly and there is an interesting 80/20 rule out there when it comes to social media as well. A lot of times they will say 80 percent of the posts that you make should not be not necessarily a sale or an ask, it’s more of just some information about your product, information about yourself, may be a cool related article that’s related to your product, that’s in the same industry that’s going to be helpful to people and then 20 percent of the time you will put something out there and say “Hey, you know this next week I have got a great Valentine’s Day special coming up.” So, post that on your Facebook page and that will generate some sales. So, it’s really a communication tool. So, that’s Facebook I think is a good place to go, has a huge audience and a huge, huge reach, although you still have to develop that audience and get people to know who you are, but it’s relatively easy to do. Facebook also has paid advertising and is relatively inexpensive. You can go and do some paid advertising, it will show up on different people’s Facebook pages and that’s an interesting way to go as well. Pinterest I think is another interesting social media outlet, like for Kathy Janak in Janak Jewelry, that’s a key component of our plan for her because she is going to take pictures of her jewelry and people are going to be able to see those pictures and then people will share that and like that and add that to their photo albums, I think it’s what they call it and then people, their friends will look at their photo albums and they will say “Oh wow, I like that piece of jewelry” and they will put it on their photo albums and you can see the viral aspect of this that can happen really quickly in almost overnight. For me, social media is again it’s relatively inexpensive, it can be totally free or you can actually do some paid advertising, but it’s a communication vehicle, it’s a way to communicate with your audience, it’s a way to give them information about your product and it’s a way for it to really go viral and get in the hands of people that – you could pay tens of thousands of dollars for advertising and still not reach the same audiences.
JP: Yes, one thing on social media is what I tell people is that a business is not inherently social, but the people that work at or own the business are social and so the important thing with social media from a business perspective is to give it a human face and a personality and not just post boring, bland articles or comments or whatever. So, what’s your thought on that?
Randy: Oh I totally agree, 100 percent you are absolutely right, JP; that is dead on. You have to make it interesting because like you said, if you are just going to post another tip of the day or something like that unless you have got some really interesting tips, it will get pretty old pretty fast, so you need to keep the content interesting and like you said, it really is about your personality or the personality of your organization and getting that personality out there is really important and trying to bring in information that can help people or things that people will find interesting. With Twenty 1 Five we would just post we had big snowstorms here in the mountains, I would just find a picture off of the mountains, Breckenridge Ski Resort and I would post that on our page one day and say “Wow! Look at the snowstorm we got, it would be a great day to go snowboarding or whatever” and you would get 50, 60, or 100 likes on that page and once that happens then all of those people who liked it, all their audience can see it as well. So, it does not have to be all about your business. It can be things that you like, it could be interest that you have outside your business, but it’s just like you said developing that personality and allowing your social media to become like you said social and allowing people to learn about you and what you like and what your business is about and like I said over time, yes you will make asks for people to purchase your product, but you don’t do that all the time.
JP: Okay, what do you think about Twitter, I have had a hard time getting into Twitter and getting used to it, but I attended New Media Expo last month and kind of figured out the trick behind Twitter and it’s different than 90 percent of the people that use Twitter, it’s different than how they use it currently. So, what are your thoughts on Twitter and do you use that?
Randy: I do. It would be interesting to kind of hear your opinion on it as well because for businesses it’s tough to crack the nut on that one. I think because it has definitely backfired for some organizations as we have all heard in the past, some of the stories of different people in the organization or even upper management or CEOs even posting things that have just absolutely come back to hurt that organization. So, you got to be really careful on what you are posting about, but again it goes back to your comment of being social and being informational and being interesting and I think it’s a nice addition and actually a very important addition to your social media suite of activities. I think what it can do because it’s such a short character limit, lot of times it’s just a quick description and a link to something. So, like for Kathy Janak for example, could this be “Hey, check out my new designs that I just came up with,” put a link on there and links back to her website or “Hey, I am going to the Cherry Creek Art Festival this weekend, click here for link, for information on the art festival.” So, I think it’s an important add-on and I think it’s something that people should seriously consider, but at the same time, it’s something you’ve got to really keep at the top of mind because you kind of need to stay on top of it, you kind of need to post on a fairly regular basis and keep that flow going. Now the other thing too with Twitter of course is it’s not about what you post, but it’s about what other people post and so you want to make sure you have a good following and that you are also following other people because for example, I think on my personal page I have got like I don’t know 50 followers, but I am following like 400 people and so, what’s interesting is as those 400 people are posting I get more information and I find things that are interesting to me because I follow people and things that are of interest to me and then I can use that information and post it on my own personal Twitter feeds or my Facebook page or what have you and so again, it’s that kind of crosspollination of taking interesting facts, feeding that to my audience and getting more exposure from me at the end of the day through those shared links.
JP: Yes, the interaction is what is so important about Twitter and it’s little bit different, it’s nice to have interaction on Facebook and Pinterest in terms of comments and likes, but Twitter is really more about a conversation with people in short bursts and the way – here is how most people use Twitter; we all think we are celebrities. So, you know how when Ashton Kutcher or Mila Kunis or Hillary Clinton or LeBron James when they post something, everybody is paying attention to it.
Randy: That’s right.
JP: Because they have millions of followers and everybody is interested in what they have to say. I do not have millions of followers and not that many people are interested in what I have to say, so the same strategy does not work as well for me or for other small business owners who don’t have a large involved following of people who hang on their every word.
Randy: That’s right.
JP: That’s the difference in Twitter, there is a different way to use it depending on which of those categories you fall into. If you are celebrity, you can post whatever you want and you are going to get interaction. If you are not a celebrity then it’s more about a one-to-one or a one-to-few communication and that’s kind of what I have learned what I learned last month at New Media Expo and what I am experiencing for myself right now is that it’s about connecting with the people that you have actually met offline or may be have interacted with online specifically on an individual level not at a broadcast level and so a lot of what I am seeing working is actually referring to people in the tweets. So, I am tweeting directly to people using their @handle, I am using the hashtags for things that I belong to or have been to where I met people and also I am favoriting and re-tweeting things from people that I know and who know me and those seem to be getting me a lot more traction than when I was just posting articles or quotes or pictures or anything like that. Those didn’t seem to get me anywhere as opposed to when I am doing direct interaction now with people.
Randy: You are absolutely right. It’s actually a brilliant insight because it really is meant to be a conversational piece and what you mentioned is actually the right tactics. When you are mentioning certain people and you are mentioning certain events or certain trending topics or things along those lines, it becomes more interesting because people are like “Oh! Who is JP Stonestreet?” If you click on that link within someone’s tweet and then find out who you are and then you might have another follower after that and so it really is personal and it really is a conversation and it really is about just trying to make it as personal as you can through that medium there.
JP: Yes, in fact the podcast interview that was published just this Monday, the people I interviewed Nicole and Omar, they live in New York, they are great. I met them last month at the NMX Conference and they tweeted after the interview went live on my website and on iTunes. They tweeted about it and they used the @handle for some of the people that they talked about in the interview. So, those people were directly notified that there was an interview that mentioned them.
Randy: That’s right.
JP: Then those people commented, they re-tweeted, they commented, they favorited those tweets and it created like this whole chain of several tweets going back and forth between these people and one of those led to an interview that I am booking with a guy that I met at NMX, his name is John Lee Dumas. He has half a million downloads a month of his podcast called Entrepreneur On Fire.
Randy: Oh wow.
JP: I know and I am very excited. I met him at NMX. I waited in line to meet him and I asked him then if you would be interested in being interviewed and he was like “Oh, yeah sure, just contact me.” I am sure he gets approached by lots of people and he didn’t know me from anybody but now that this tweet happened, it’s rekindled that conversation and we have been emailing and he sent me a link to book him on my podcast. So, in the next couple of months, you are going to hear this guy on being interviewed on this podcast and that was all thanks to Twitter.
Randy: You bring up another really good point JP I think thinking about it a little bit differently and that you mentioned earlier we all think of ourselves as celebrities and we are always told you are supposed to promote yourself and all that other stuffs and it’s like really at the end of the day through a lot of these social media outlets including Twitter, it’s really almost about promoting others and it’s almost like if you want to call it serving others and helping get the word out about what they do to your audience and then they are going to look at that and say “Oh, that’s cool” and they are going to give you some of that love back in their tweets and so, it’s yes you are promoting yourself and you are getting your information out there, but at the same time you are really helping other people by telling your audience about these other people and the great things that they are doing and so it’s that real social sharing sort of serving, if you want to call it that, others through the social media outlets and then of course you are definitely going to have people that will want to know about your product after that and you can obviously give a sales pitch at that point, but again that 80/20 rule is really important, 80 percent of the time is really got to be informational, fun, social, conversational information.
JP: Totally agree with that. It’s a different generation. This generation Y and younger they are having a massive impact on culture across the world and it’s mainly due to all of the social media channels, but this is the age of the giver and it’s all about giving now. The more you give – the theory is “The more you give, the more you get” and this younger generation is proving it over and over again.
Randy: You are absolutely right and I totally agree with that and I think that that’s something that we could all learn from and benefit from and you are not doing it just to benefit, but you are doing it because that’s what you really want to do and you really want to give and it’s a great mind set and it’s interesting because lot of people complain about this younger generation or whatever – they are just bunch of slackers and stuffs like that and I say “You know what, I disagree, I see them as being open, honest, and direct and they want to make a difference in their lives.” The challenge is they are trying to figure out how do I do that because going to work at ABC Company isn’t going to give me that opportunity to do that necessarily and so they want to do something, they want to go change the world and they have a heart to do that, but there is not a lot of outlets for that. So, the social media platform I think is soft of an outlet for them to be able to do that on a smaller scale, but I think it’s going to be interesting to see what the next 10 years – gosh, what the next 5 years hold for us from a social media standpoint. I think there is going to be some new technologies out there that obviously we don’t even know about yet, they are going to become big and things like Facebook and stuffs like that which will always be around I believe, will probably decline in relevance over time as these newer tools kind of increase in relevance.
JP: Yes and Zuckerberg just announced yesterday on the 10-year anniversary. He said that they are only one percent of the way on their journey, referring to Facebook. I know they have lots of stuffs planned and they are already planning for the day when Facebook becomes a nonfactor which is one reason why they bought Instagram because they were seeing that trend already occurring and that’s why they tried to buy Snapchat and we are going to see them do more acquisitions going forward because they have so much money now, they are just going to buy these new ideas once they are proven, once they start getting traction and so it may not be Facebook, but they are going to own it eventually.
Randy: You are absolutely right. They have got so much money and so much cash in the bank; it’s kind of like Google as well. Google – you talk about a brilliant business model and you talk about brilliant business owners, those guys started out obviously as just a search engine, but man they have grown it into possible the greatest organization, greatest company to ever be exist on this planet because of their forward thinking and they are always thinking ahead and you look at their acquisitions that they are making today and sometimes you are like “Well that doesn’t make any sense, why would they purchase this robotics company, what on earth is that all about?” Well, in a lot of ways manufacturing and technology is headed in that direction, so why not own an organization that is in that space and it just gives them an opportunity to expand their footprint even more and lot of people would say “Google can get even bigger.” It is like hard to believe, but yes they can and it’s a company that is run by a lot of brilliant people and they are doing an amazing job and Facebook same thing. They will diversify, they will expand, they will acquire organizations. So, Facebook, as we know it today, will definitely look different in five years from now.
JP: Yes, and it’s great for all of us startup entrepreneurs because it’s easy or getting easier to sell our companies. I sold a startup to a big company. When I was in Los Angeles I was on the Business Rockstars radio program with Ken Rutkowski and he was the founder of Google Voice before Google bought it – Google bought Google Voice whatever it was called before and they renamed it Google Voice, but he founded that company and it got bought by Google for lots and lots of money and this happens all the time. In fact, I post whenever I hear about an acquisition I post about it on my Facebook feed just to encourage people that any idea can get bought if you launch it and you get some traction and get some publicity and you get users, you don’t even have to be generating revenue. Look at Snapchat, they have no revenue.
Randy: Exactly right.
JP: They have a 3 billion dollar offer, which I think is silly to turn down, but that’s my opinion.
Randy: Yes, I think you aren’t the only one. I think there are a bunch of people like “You turned down 3 billion dollars, okay.”
JP: Yes, in cash too.
Randy: Yes, I know it’s crazy.
JP: So, we are rambling a little bit because we like this philosophical startup stuff. So, I want to bring this back to the marketing piece for small business and as a solopreneur like myself and like a lot other people listening to this, how much time a day should we be spending on publicity and social media and other marketing efforts, how do we fit that in, how much time does it take?
Randy: That’s a great question and I think it depends on the company, but I definitely think there needs to be time every day to at least having thought about it and at least doing some reading kind of educating yourself on the benefits of marketing and how it can help you. I would say, I would carve out at least an hour a day which I think a lot of people would say “Oh My Gosh! I don’t have an hour a day.” You can find it and you can definitely find that in your schedule somehow, but I would say if you are not going to hire someone to come alongside you and help with your marketing, go and look for resources online and educate yourself on the benefits of marketing and how it can benefit your organization, but I think spending at least Monday through Friday, a little bit of time everyday, and that could even expand depending on the size of your organization, to hire someone for them to spend one, two, three hours a day helping develop your strategy and helping develop your go-to-market plan and then having someone walk alongside you to actually implement that plan and get that off the door, but I think you talk about the solopreneurs and they are absolutely head down in their product and they are absolutely slammed, but really at the end of the day, you need to figure out how to get your product to your service in front of as many people as you can and that’s what marketing comes into play and if you want to survive, you are going to have to incorporate that at some point. So, I just tell people start with some education and then look for an organization like Align Global Marketing that could come alongside and help you develop a plan and either help you launch it or you could even launch it yourself, but there are lots of resources out there, lots of people who can help organizations do that.
JP: Yes, it’s something that we all struggle with, especially solopreneurs and that’s something I struggle with daily and I have been in the process of outsourcing a lot of my administrative stuffs and things that I don’t have to do that I don’t necessarily add any value to and to free up time to do more marketing, but guess what? I am filling up my free time with more – with other work because that’s what I enjoy and what I like to and so I asked Michael Levine, he is the publicist I am going to start working with and I asked him and I said “How much time should you spend on these activities?” and he says “If you have no clients, 100 percent of your time.”
Randy: That’s right.
JP: He said, “If you have clients then it varies, but anywhere from 20 to 50 percent of your time depending on how fast you churn your clients and how often you have to replace them and how much you want to grow and how fast,” but I thought that was interesting that he said “If you don’t have clients, 100 percent of your time; you shouldn’t be doing anything else.”
Randy: That’s right. It’s a lot of people who are engineers they come up with again a great concept, great idea, but that’s going to go nowhere if nobody knows about it. It’s like Kathy Janak and her jewelry. She does get some sales, but you increase the awareness, you let people know about your product and who you are and what you do, then you are going to start seeing the sales come in and now your organization starts to roll and you can continue to grow the company over time, but like you said earlier “If nobody knows about your organization, nobody is going to buy your product, you are probably going to fail at some point” because it’s so important to obviously get the message out there, get the awareness going; it’s critical.
JP: It is critical. All right Randy, I am going to switch gears a little bit, we only have about five or ten minutes left here and I want to talk some more about just your specific entrepreneurial experience. Do you have a mentor or a coach that you work with?
Randy: I do, I have got a couple of people who are CEOs in organizations and really their background has been marketing and branding strategy and I wouldn’t call them an official mentor – we don’t meet every Wednesday at 5 o’clock or whatever, but I definitely stay connected with them and I definitely bounce ideas off of them and I also follow them and I just read some of the things that they post or I follow what they are doing and try to learn from them and I think it’s absolutely critical. Again, this is another really important thing. You are going out on your own to try to run an organization, but there are so many people that have done it like yourself that have done it before and you can learn from them and there are so many people out there who are willing to share everything that they have learned, their mistakes and their wins to someone if you were just to ask and so I think it’s important to have at least one person that you can go to and say “Hey, you know, I just want to bounce some ideas off of you, can we go grab a cup of coffee?” and you just spend an hour, “I have just got a few questions for you” and I would highly recommend that people do that and again, it doesn’t have to be every Wednesday at 5, it can be just on a semi-ongoing basis, it could even just be a phone call, but having someone that you could bounce ideas off of I think is really important.
JP: Yes, I agree with that and I have talked before, I have a coach and a mentor. Actually, I am hiring another coach, I am going to have two coaches and a mentor and it’s so important to do that. I am also going to join a mastermind group and being an entrepreneur if you want to be successful, you can’t do it in a vacuum.
Randy: That’s right.
JP: These people that you ask for help are more than eager to give it to you plus you might be going to them and say “I need help with this specific problem, how do I market myself better, how do I reach 5280 to get them to write an article about me?” Just by asking that question, you might actually get some good advice, that’s the goal, but you might get a contact, you might say – that person might say, “Oh you know what, you need to talk to so and so at 5280, they are probably the right person to talk to, tell them that I sent you” and that connection – you get all kinds of connections like that when you ask people who are further up the ladder than you when you ask them those questions, it’s a lot of times, you get a lot more than good advice.
Randy: Absolutely, that’s right. One of the clients I am helping is Red Fox Wireless. They are wireless active headset company and that exact same thing happened. So, I was meeting with someone who actually used to own some sporting good stores here near Colorado Springs, telling them about the company and showing them the product and he was like “You know what, you need to go meet this guy who owns these stores” and he was like “Just tell him that I told you to call him” and so I did and immediately of course I got an appointment and I was able to go in and do a demonstration for them. So, you bring up a really good point, a lot of these people who have paved the path ahead of us are incredibly well networked and connected and so – but a lot of times, they are just waiting for people to ask. It’s funny, I was sitting at a – I don’t even remember what the meeting was about, but it was basically talking about mentorship and there was an older gentleman up there and somebody asked a question like “How do we connect with people like you?” and he said “Just come ask me.” It’s as simple as that just come ask me, say “Hey will you be my mentor, will you help me work through this situation that I have got going on?” and his answer was “Absolutely, I would love to,” but if you don’t ask me, I don’t know that you need help and so it’s again it’s kind of stepping out there and putting yourself sort of in a vulnerable place because some people might say “No, I don’t have time” and that’s okay. You move on to someone else, but most of the time people would say “Absolutely, I would love to help, let’s go grab a cup of coffee.”
JP: Yes, it is so true. People are really eager to help. I know that I am – it sounds like you are as well, lots of people are very eager to help, but we don’t know that anybody needs help if we are not asked.
Randy: That’s absolutely right, that’s very true.
JP: Yes. Is there a book that you can recommend, a book that you – may be influenced you or something that you really enjoyed?
Randy: Actually there are quite a few books. Good to Great is a classic, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People again another classic. I think those are absolutely must reads for people who want to basically reorganize their lives and figure out how to do things better. The books that I typically read are self-improvement books and how do I do what I am doing better. It is interesting from a personal note, I am reading a book called Hiding from Love right now by John Townsend and it opened up my eyes to something and that is how do you deal with authority figures and how do you deal with people who are in authority to you and how do you deal with them on an adult basis and where your relationship is a symbiotic relationship where you are benefiting each other even though that person is an authority whether it’s a boss or whatever that relationship may be and it was just a fascinating way of looking at it and it kind of opened up my eyes to approach people and be a lot more comfortable when I am putting myself out there and sort of a vulnerable position and opening myself up to hear a “no” in a closed door, but realizing the benefits of that and realizing that it’s okay and everybody deals with that on a daily basis and so that was really encouraging to me as well. In fact, I have just finished it literally last night. So, it’s a great book.
JP: Great, I will put links to the all three of those on the show notes page…
JP: …so people can find those books. Yes, those are great books, I have read the first two, I have not read the last one; I am going to check that out too. So, last question – what is the most important piece of advice that you can give to someone who wants to start a business. I always ask this question last, I think it’s good parting wisdom especially from successful smart energized entrepreneurs like yourself. So, what is that one piece of advice that you would give somebody?
Randy: Yes, that’s a great question and that’s something we could talk about for long time as well, but I think we kind of already hit on it and that is “Just go for it” as Nike says “Just do it.” If you got an idea and if you are passionate about it, don’t let people tell you it’s not going to work, don’t let anybody say even your internal voice to say “Oh, it’s not going to work, it’s going to be a bomb or whatever.” You don’t know what’s going to happen until you actually get out there and give it a try and if you never give it a try, you are going to be still in your deathbed one day, you would be like “Why did I not at least give it a try?” and so that’s my advice to everybody – if you are thinking about it, if you are thinking about taking that step, please take the step, go do it because even if it doesn’t work, you are going to learn so much about yourself, about business, about others, and probably you are going to get that bug, and you are going to say “You know what, that one didn’t work, but I am going to try it again with something else” and now you are hooked and it’s just it almost becomes an addiction, a healthy addiction. So, that’s my advice – just go for it, just do it, make it happen, give it a try and then go out there and give it your best shot.
JP: That is great advice because the hardest part is getting started and if you just get started then that’s the hardest part, it’s easier to keep it in motion once it’s already in motion.
Randy: That’s so true, so true.
JP: Just apply the energy and get it in motion and then it will be a lot easier.
Randy: Absolutely, definitely.
JP: Randy, thank you so much for an amazing interview. This was a really good marketing oriented interview which is so important and one of the things that I focus all of my interviews at least somewhat on marketing, this was by far the most focused on marketing that I have done so far, but I couldn’t not waste this opportunity talking to a marketing expert. So, I didn’t ask you a lot of the other questions that I ask entrepreneurs, but it was a great interview and very informative.
Randy: Well, thank you JP, you are a great interviewer and I had a lot of fun. I could talk about this stuff all day. So, if you want to do it again, let’s set up another time, you do a great job.
JP: Thank you and I think we should meet for coffee too since we live so close together.
Randy: Absolutely, let’s do it. Let’s find a day next week, let’s go grab a cup of coffee, I would love to.
JP: Sounds good because there’s lots of stuff I would love to talk about.
Randy: Okay, let’s do it. All right JP, thank you so much.
JP: Thank you Randy.
I hope you learned a thing or two about media outreach in this episode. Randy really lifted up the curtain on how to do that. Just to do a quick recap, basically you find people in the media whether local or national who might be interested in what you are doing. You find other reports or articles or interviews that they have done and you find something in those interviews that you can relate to whatever it is that you are wanting media coverage for. Then you put that in an email and you reference that interview and say “I saw that interview of you talking to so and so, I thought it was great, I am doing something very similar that you might be interested in, blah-blah-blah,” you reference that, you send it off to them and then the next day you follow that up with a phone call and say, “Hey, I am just calling to see if you got my email” on whatever it is you are talking about. So work it up ahead of time, practice it, call up your mom or your significant other if you have to and practice it on the phone beforehand so you don’t sound like totally unprepared. What great information Randy shared today, man it really kind of opened my eyes about how to do this and I actually have my assistant, Jennifer, working on this as we speak. She is finding the media contact, I drafted up an email that she can use and plug-in the specific things. In fact, I think I will share that media pitch email on the show notes page for this episode. So, go there and look at that at JPStonestreet.com/podcast. I think that’s it for today. This is a great interview. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. Until next time, this is JP Stonestreet with the Smart Energized Entrepreneurs Podcast.