Wondering how to start a business? Want to make yours better? Mikel Erdman says, be smart! | Rise Grind Repeat 052


Mikel Erdman isn’t your typical internet entrepreneur. He grew up on a family farm and a meatpacking plant. In summers he worked on commercial fishing boats. Wondering how to start a business wasn’t always on his mind.

It was hard-core, blue-collar work, but he credits this, and his parents, who were always self-employed, with instilling his entrepreneurial mindset from birth. “I always liked to carve my own path,” he says.

Mikel built his first digital marketing company alongside his mortgage business. His top advice for aspiring entrepreneurs? Find a need and fill it. That’s what he did 10 years ago with MySMARTblog, to improve online communications between busy real estate and mortgage professionals and their clients.

Now he’s a published author and speaker on how technology can improve your results, and get more clients to choose you over your competitors. His work figuring out how to start a business has paid off handsomely over the years.

Mikel Erdman Creator of My Smart Blog
Rise Grind Repeat Podcast
powered by EIC Agency
Hosted by Dustin Trout
Produced by Andrei Gardiola
Check out the full video episode on Youtube at:


For more information visit our website at https://eic.agency/ We are also on
Instagram @EveryImpressionCounts

| Rise Grind Repeat 052 |


On today’s episode of Rise, Grind, Repeat. We talked to Michael from my smart blog. We talk about how his company automatically creates blogs that are industry specific and helps brands grow. Let’s dive right in. So I do appreciate you coming out and I’d love to hear more just about your background.


No, this is exciting, um, thanks for inviting me. I appreciate it. Uh, yes. Just at the beginning I grew up, I know we’re going to talk a lot about business and all that kind of stuff. Um, I grew up in an entrepreneurial household. I tell people all the time, uh, that I grew up in the dirty jobs environment, you know, like this show, right? With micro betcha. Yeah. So, um, I, I grew up in the Southern Oregon coast, uh, on a farm. We had a, it was actually a meat packing plant, so we had feedlots and, and a butcher shop and all that kind of thing. And then in the summers I spent my time in a commercial fishing boat, salmon and tuna fishing. And so it was like dirty work, hardcore blue collar production work, agriculture. And uh, but I was involved. My, my parents had always been self employed and so I was in that entrepreneurial kind of atmosphere from day one.


And um, and so there almost was never another path for me. I also am not a type of person that takes really me in a direction really well from other people. I did spend a couple of years in the military, but um, but I just was never, you know, I always like to carve my own path and, and figure, you know, uh, set my own schedule and do my own thing. And I was set up from the beginning with the, the understanding that that’s a reasonable way to do, to, to live life with all of the ups and downs. And I’ve got plenty of those. We can talk about some of those. Um, but, um, but yeah, so that’s my background. I grew up in the Southern Oregon coast. Uh, it went in the military for a couple of years, spent two years living in Germany, which was a good experience.


Um, and then came back, went to school, university of Oregon, go ducks. So yeah, and going to the Rose bowl here and in about a couple of days actually, and um, and then graduated with a degree in political science. Um, haven’t used my degree a single day. Yeah, yeah. But, uh, but it was a good experience and then went right into business. And so I spent the first 15 years of my career in the mortgage industry. So, uh, owned my own a mortgage, a brokerage in Oregon and Washington. And then in the midst of my mortgage company actually was approached by some people and I started a digital marketing company in Vancouver, Washington. Um, it was early on in property, online property tours before all of the big name property tour of things. And this like circle picks, the 360 degree tour places before any of that really came online.


We started a thing called home tour plus at the time. And so I built my first digital marketing company alongside my mortgage business and it really revolved around teaching people how to do better, um, online marketing, um, actually a combination of online and offline marketing, but in the real estate mortgage space. So that was my first experience in digital. And so was it more the education side or doing it for people or done for you? And that’s going to be a recurring theme today too, is, you know, I was taught a long time and there’s this saying it’s find a need and fill it right. So in the marketplace, identify a need, something that people, it’s too difficult for them to do for themselves or too expensive for them to do and find a better, easier way to be able to offer it. And so we picked this kind of niche within the real estate space that was a need.


Um, it, at the time it was color printing was very expensive. It was a buck. A print at Kinko’s was the only option. And so we built kind of a, a variable printing system using Adobe products and an online ordering system where the agents could order those flyers they put out in front of homes. And so they could order those with really high quality graphic design template based. But we would design them all, we’d print them on full color for them and we’d ship them to them. We did all that for free. That was our accumulation model. So it was a service where we were able to go out and say, Hey, you guys can get way better marketing tools to build off of your clients than what you could do for yourself and we’ll do it for free. So what was the cost? Where was the revenue driver?


Right. In the real estate industry, there are all these, uh, affiliated services that are required as part of a transaction. And, and the real estate agent is kind of the, the point of the spear, the tip of the spear. Cause they’re always the first people in contact with client. And so a title and escrow companies and mortgage companies and homeowners insurance and home inspection and all these other affiliated industries want relationships with these real estate agents. So we said, Hey, it would be cool if we could figure out a way to insert all of these third parties at the point of sale with the real estate agent. And so we said, well, what if we sold ads on the backs of the flyers representative of the people who those agents work with typically in a referral basis. But then because it was like right as digital was coming online, right, everything was going on.


We said, wait, what if since we’re gathering all the data to do the flyers anyway, what if we actually built an online home twin? And so in, in not just offering them this, this automatic way to get these flyers, uh, designed and printed, but we actually put it into this, uh, kind of online home tour, which is like Zillow today. Like we were just really early on in that. And, um, and we said, we have all this stuff, we’ll put it onto an online home tour as well. And then we’ll drive traffic offline as people are driving around the most interested people driving around neighborhoods, looking at homes, picking up flyers, well then have a link driving people back to home tour plus. And that was the digital a part of our business. And it grew really fast, you know, out of the Gates, about 18 months to our first million dollars in revenue.


And um, and we grew nationwide. We had people, you know, all over the country and like lots of, lots of stories though the market changed. Digital printing technology shifted massively in that couple in a couple of years to where everybody had a printer in their office and it took away our value proposition. And so I ended up moving on, had to shut that company down and went back to the mortgage industry. Oh, I had my mortgage business the whole time, but I had, I went back personally to produce because I had to make up for a few hundred thousand dollars. I lost by the end of shutting that thing down. So, um, that’s how I got into digital though. And then, uh, eventually made the transition and now my smart blog 10 years ago.


That’s cool. So I mean it’s, it’s how did you, what was the process like to say, Hey, we’re going to do this for free? Cause I mean most people, it’s whenever you throw the word free around and it’s like, Oh well we’re going to lose money. How did you build a process around that? What was the, the the thinking through finding the revenue stream by offering something for free?


Yeah. So, you know, it’s interesting looking back at that. Um, the key is you just have to find something people are willing to pay for first. Right? There’s lots of people that have good ideas, but I think that’s one of the things that I’ve always been good at is figuring out what, what is the revenue driver? Cause the business is driven by profit. Uh, maybe not all businesses. If people go out and get a little bunch of funding and then they just burned through it all. I bootstrapped everything I’ve ever done. So it’s like, um, you know, the first question is, okay, how do we make money with this? And then you then you kind of go backwards from there. And so for us it was like what are people willing to pay for and what they’re willing to pay for his access in the real estate mortgage world.


Because it’s not necessarily because real estate agents are always the best business people or the most, you know, the most. There’s tons and tons of people in that industry, just like everything else. But the reality is of when people are looking to buy homes, they go to talk to a real estate agent typically first, right? And I’m just like, if you’re looking for an appliance, you’d go to an appliance store, right? And so it creates this dynamic within that industry that they’re going to have first contact with the most likely clients. And so everybody else, it’s ID used to teach loan officers inside hire and train them is building a business in sales is like four legs of a table. And in the mortgage industry, which was my business, one leg of the table has to be agents. So everything that we were doing cause kind of formed around this idea of how do you get contact with agents and then provide them with enough value to develop a relationship so they’ll be willing to refer clients going forward to you.


And so it was really that is like what would people be willing to pay if we could collapse that sales cycle, if we could get them tighter in with the agents that they either already work with or the agents they want to work with by using this as a tool to get relationships and what would be the amount of money they would pay? And then can we afford to produce the product, the free product as the accumulation model? Can we afford to do that with the advertising revenue that we can generate? And the reality is that we just did and, and, and many of had like one of the most important things is we systematized everything. So you just mentioned scale scales is a really important word for a lot of reasons. Um, but when you’re looking at a, especially when there’s a, a tangible product that you have to deliver, you just have


to figure out how do you, how do you compress the cost, right? How do you do it in a, in a larger, larger scale and do it for a lot less. Um, and, and then of course, in our case, the real product that we were selling was advertising because we were putting both them, uh, out at the point of contact with the client, driving around, picking up the flyer, but then also representation on the online home tours as well. No, that’s cool. And I, I mean, I love the, the whole, uh, wanting access, and I think that’s a, I mean, a huge part of, of real estate and real estate agents with more companies like Zillow and, and open door and all of that, providing more access to information. How do you see just the real estate industry changing, pivoting, whatever it is? I mean, what, how do you see that role evolving and what do you think it’ll take to keep the value of a, of a real estate agent?


Yeah, yeah. So this is a lot of what I talk about right now. There’s a, there’s a massive shift. I mean, the reality is that if, if people in the real estate industry aren’t paying attention to what’s going on, uh, right now with regard to technology specifically, they’re going to have a really difficult time staying in business five years from now. Zillow built their business because they are the, the largest, most trafficked real estate website in the world now. Um, they built their, there, they built that whole business off of the backs of independent real estate agents and mortgage lenders who are giving them the inventory, which is all of the properties that were listed. Uh, but then not just that, but the, the, the, the, the revenue they were collecting was from their premier agent advertising where they would generate leads for agents and also mortgage lenders and other people who are paying them to grow that platform.


And it’s really interesting where they’ve, they literally took this, um, business model and just shafted everyone who grew their business. I mean literally, I mean, and to the degree that, um, and his escapes my name, his name right now, but this, Oh, Spencer Rascoff is his name. He’s the CEO, was the CEO of Zillow. He’s now teaching at one of the Ivy league schools teaching a course about growing online companies with this very specific model about as symbiotic relationship within an industry and growing scale to the point where you can literally turn on the industry and become a competitor with all of the people who you had a symbiotic relationship before. He’s teaching that as a, as a model of it is scary. It’s, it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s, uh, it’s something, again, people have to be, but the reason for it, there’s a bigger reason I mentioned scale and because things can be done digitally now in a way that that just wasn’t available fit 10, 15 years ago when all that’s evolved over time.


And so if people aren’t paying attention to what’s happening, this is, this generational shift, uh, is, is, is going to eat people’s lunch. There’s just no way around it. So companies like Opendoor on, uh, as an eye buyer, the FinTech companies that are out there like rocket mortgage. Um, there’s, you know, obviously Zillow has a real estate platform, are able to, to do things that individual agents or individual loan officers, people participate in the industry can’t do. Um, the way that the, the good news about it though is that, uh, if you, at the way that people who actually buy real estate or use any of these affiliated services actually even today, make decisions of the person that they’ll use, the service that they’ll buy or the provider that they’ll use. They still are going back to the traditional way. The human brains have evolved, which is through relationships.


So they’re asking for referrals. Um, they’re, they’re using the internet to gather information. Um, but they don’t use the internet to actually, there’s, in fact there’s a study that was done recently and it showed that just recently, uh, only about 10% of buyers, uh, use the, the, it was actually less than, I think it was nine point something percent of buyers use the internet to find the agent that they wrote an offer to buy a home less than 10%. Now, the interesting thing isn’t just that it’s 10%, which is a pretty low number. Yeah. But it’s the exact same statistic as 10 years ago. And so even with the evolution thing about the last decade of everything that’s happened with technology, right? I mean, all of these platforms that have grown and built up, um, and the ease of use and of the availability of, of deeper and broader information around real estate, um, the, the presence of agents to be able to participate in these advertising networks and get this massive exposure.


Um, none of that has changed the way that human beings actually do the process of finding who they’re going to use to buy something, buy a piece of property. So, um, the way to compete is, is he, I teach people all the time. Yeah. You have to go where they can’t go. So these big companies can do these things at scale that smaller people or small, smaller producers can’t, uh, what they can’t replace as those local relationships. And so it’s the combination, it’s how do you still drive deep and valuable relationships in your local market, but then also use technology to support and amplify that. And it’s, it’s the combination of those two that allow people to compete. But there’s a, this bigger generational shift that’s going on too, that, you know, 20 years from now, the game is completely changed again.


Yeah. And I mean, it’ll probably be a decade or two, but I think you hit the nail on the head where it’s, it’s not so much using a real estate agent to find the property. But I think now I think it’s more important than ever for real estate agents to use data to see what is, who are, who are the different home buyers, who are the sellers and what makes them tick and curating content that, uh, that, that speaks to them. Are they, uh, are they a family of four? And looking for family activities? Do they have kids under five? Are they single? Whatever it is. But using, using all the data that’s out there to then tell stories about essentially showing how they could live in these different, um, homes or neighborhoods, whatever it may be. And I think that instead of real estate agents saying, Hey, look at what’s for sale.


It’s, it’s, uh, identifying interests and what people want out of a house and showing how they could essentially live there and just goes back into the content creation rather than trying to give the information which the internet can do very well. It’s building that relationship with the local community. And by doing that, it’s really speaking to, I mean, it’s just like building any relationship. If I’m going to talk to someone that, that everything I’m talking about, they have no interest in, we’re not really going to build a relationship. But if they love classic cars when we’re talking about 67 Mustangs and all that, you’re going to build a relationship a lot quicker. And I think it’s, it’s a, it’s such a big, I mean, eventually it might not, people might not even want to buy it from another human being when it comes to a home. But I think you’re right, it’s going to be a decade or two before we see that. And I think the most important piece right now is, is building those relationships and it’s, it’s using marketing content creation to then build those relationships.


Yeah. You know, the content is such a powerful and important piece of the equation. Um, and I think specific, you know, we’re here doing this podcast interview on video and video was the only way you can translate your personality digitally.


Right? I love that you say that.


Yeah. No, it’s, it’s true. And so here’s the thing is there’s different types of content. We have my smart blog, we produce channel driven content. So it’s just typical like credibility building expertise, building type blog posts that make you look like, you know, what you’re talking about within the industry. But the relatively generic, I mean as far as we serve people all over the country and so we can’t be, you know, putting out posts about snow for people that are here in Phoenix, right? So, I mean we have to be somewhat vanilla in terms of that stuff. It can still be good quality, high quality posts and information that we write. But um, but that’s the kind of stuff that can be consistent and updated frequently that when someone’s looking you, looking you up and searching you out there, just see that there’s frequently updated information.


But when you go to things like video, which I think is such an important thing, it’s what you’re talking about driving using technology to drive relationships. There’s two actually two things that you pointed out. One is there’s an old saying the riches are in the niches, right? And so, and so when you’re looking at marketing in a low, in a local community, a lot of times I like to teach people that you have to go back to what it is that inspires you or what, what is, what do you do in your community that you’re already engaged in or that you’re, you know, interested enough about that you’ll put your time and energy into without getting paid. Because in lots of those environments, whether they be charitable causes, you know, social organizations, different things, sports organizations, different things like that, um, you know, you’ll find influencers in those communities that aren’t your traditional influencers, that when you be able to build deeper relationships that are actually impacting in creating your own sales force out in the marketplace.


So the one thing is finding ways in marketing your service is figuring out way, a way to be able to identify niches of people too that you can connect with. So I’m a veteran, so I naturally am drawn to veterans causes, right? So that would be if I was currently today, if I was selling real estate or mortgages, which I’m not cause I have this digital marketing company. But if I were, that would be one of the things, one of the areas that I would choose to, to create content, to try to connect with people, to let them know that whether or not it’s a, a completely cold contact that knows nothing about me, which is a very low likelihood of conversion. That’s that 10% who just blindly find someone on the web and then bam, you know, you somehow hook into them, nurture that relationship long enough that there’s some trust built and then they contact you.


But the more important people are the people like in your local community that you actually build these relationships who then seek you out or refer someone else. And they use the internet to like to, to what I call, they validate the strength of the referral today. And so it’s, it’s, it’s using then video where video really comes in is when someone comes to your site and they see you talking about these things that you’re passionate about or ways that they connect, that’s, that’s the way that normally before the internet we would’ve done, you and I meet and we just find out we have points of common interest and all of a sudden we’d drive a deeper relationship more quickly. Right. And so that’s where video, I think that it’s, it’s the stacking of content, it’s using the best application is really using the combination of things where you can automate and outsource certain types of things to be able to build a really strong online presence. And then if you really want to go to the next level, I mean, if you really want to have the most kind of comprehensive and impactful online presence, it’s being willing to do to get your personality out and available to the most interested prospects at the most opportune times. And there’s nothing that does it like, like again talking to people directly through video.


Yeah, I mean that’s, that’s, that’s why I’m, we’re all in on video. It’s, it’s, I mean, the blogs with that, with photos and all that. I mean, you can kind of get it, but once you can hear people’s passions and you kind of build a relationship without even meeting, which before your initial meeting, there’s a feeling of connection already and it’s [inaudible] it’s crazy. Like, um, as we’ve been doing more of these and, and meeting some people, it’s like, Oh yeah, they’ll, they’ll reference something that was in a podcast or like, Oh yeah, I know that you’re excited about that you mentioned in this episode or something like that. And it’s, it’s just cool. And, uh, you mentioned scale a lot. How, I mean, that’s, I guess the thing that we struggle with. I mean, it takes people producing this, it takes editing and all of that. And I, I, what are your thoughts on just trying how, I mean, how could this be scaled? You know what I mean? And that’s, I think that’s where that that rumor there. Yeah.


Different things like that. Been building a complete digital, like a virtual environment where you can, I mean it’s, you could literally film star Wars. I mean, I, you know, at the end of the day I’m with post-production. So that’s, you know, doing that kind of stuff is, is stuff that you can do where you don’t have to move around and you can be quicker, more efficient, less costly. Uh, today. Um, you know, one of the things that, that I think is the megaphone effect though too, it’s so important in terms of I’m not a very good self promoter. Like that’s one of the things I wish I was better at, to be honest. Like, there’s lots of people out there, especially in the digital marketing space that will go, like, they’ll literally have a plan on a napkin, have no idea how to deliver a single thing that they’re telling people that they’re gonna sell. And they’ll get on their pound, their chest, and they look great on, you know, they tell the story really well, but they actually have no, there’s no fulfillment. And that’s why so many people get burned with online marketing. Right. Because honestly, a lot of those gurus just don’t deliver.


It’s such a negative connotation. Digital marketing in general and [inaudible].


Yeah. And I’m not that guy. Like I, I, I have a really difficult time. Um, you know, I think about it, I think about all these great things I want to share with people, but then when it’s time to turn the camera on, it’s hard for me to do it. So, so one thing is you have to ski, you have to schedule, you have to plan it out. You have to, you know, for sure, like everything else, you have to force yourself to do it when you’re not comfortable. And I think over time you do get more comfortable understanding that you don’t have to be perfect. You can flub your lines, you can, people don’t really care. It’s like public speaking took me a long time to understand that really, at the end of the day, most people in the audience are cheering for you.


They want, they want you to succeed. And I think with video, that’s the same thing. Um, and, and then scale though the megaphone. Uh, there’s, when I’m saying that there’s two things, one, going back to this idea, there’s no other way to get your words, get your message out and do it in a way that connects with people like you can with video. And the second thing though is your ability to then to then really, um, to push that in a worldwide way. Now we’re can an audience worldwide. But what people have to understand is this idea of creating viral videos viral is, is just not realistic. You know what I mean? That takes even some of these guys that are really good at it. I mean, it’s a whole production team. It’s lots of investment, whether it’s a lot of dollar investment, maybe not sometimes huge talent investment and time, you know, so, so the idea of someone doing this, so, but the key is that it’s, it’s actually not that difficult with video to actually run relatively inexpensive ads.


I’m engaging someone that knows you guys do video advertising and marketing and that kind of thing. Engaging a good quality company that can actually facilitate that for you. It’s, it’s not a huge expense to get really massive exposure and there’s no question that video dry is the fastest way to, to, to build an audience and get a message out there. So I think it’s the combination of those things. I think it’s getting over that natural aversion to getting to being willing to put yourself out there and then connecting with people who can help you expand and use that megaphone effect to drive, you know, interest, uh, is the two things that, that’s what we’re doing. You know, am I smart blog now with this restart I mentioned, you know, we’re kind of weeds. Six months ago I decided to take this to the next level.


We’ve been in the real estate and mortgage space. We’re looking to expand this same message of what we teach in terms of, uh, of building this profitable online presence and do closing this online credibility gap isn’t just limited to real estate agents and mortgage lenders. It really expands to every business where I talk about the emotional sale. So it’s the, the fi I, I use the number 500 enough that could be different for different people, but it’s, it’s when the Oh crap factor kicks in, it’s like, I don’t want to make a mistake. So anytime, anytime you’re thinking about buying anything or a service or it could be healthcare related, it could be anything that there’s a man, I really don’t want to mess this up. You know, we as human beings revert back to the way that we’ve developed for thousands of years as a society, as a community.


And we go to things that we know like, and trust and, and that has been referrals. And again, this is the big shift for virtually every business that’s driven like this, that are relationship driven, service based businesses largely when you’re not just selling a $20 widget off Amazon. Right. Um, the big difference, the big thing that the internet has done is it hasn’t changed the way people select the vendor because they’re still selecting the vendor by going out and asking for a referral. Right. What has changed though is if I was to tell you right now, I want to do this, this is kind of fun. We’ll do it. We can edit it out later if it doesn’t work right. Okay. So man, I, um, I, I, you know, just, I went to this fantastic Italian restaurant. It was so good. The best food ever.


The service was immaculate, you know, it was, it was such a great experience. It’s like an hour away, but man, I can’t tell you how great it is. Okay. So I just told you this fantastic thing. What’s your first thought that you would do after hearing about this great restaurant that’s an hour away? I’d probably go research it and see if you’d look it up. Right. Okay. Our natural reaction is to look it up. Now I could’ve given you, I’m thinking about for my next webinar, I’m literally going to do this as a, as a, as a poll question and ask, tell people this big embellish story and then tell and say pick one thing. Like would you just drive, would you just get in your car and drive an hour and go over and see? Right. Would you, um, would you just buy the thing without even looking or doing anything?


Or would you get out your phone and Google search it and look it up? Okay. Here’s my thing though. The whole, the whole idea is that virtually everybody will answer the same way, which they will now pull the supercomputer out of their pocket and they will now do research, which I’m going to turn this off so it doesn’t ring while we’re doing this. Um, well, nevermind. Anyway. Um, the, the point is they’re going to pull up the supercomputer out of their pocket. They’re going to research that and they’re going to find out for themselves. So what they’re not doing, they’re not doing, they’re not trying to figure out whether or not they’re not trying to figure out what they’re trying to do is validate the strength of the referral. At this point, 15 years ago, that didn’t happen. If you had told me about, or I told you about that restaurant, you’ve really only had two options.


Get in a car and drive over there, but that was really your only option. I would just call them, we’re not going right because there was no way to validate it, but where the internet stepped in and changed the game for every business is that that period of time between now when that embellishment happens, someone tells someone about any service like that and when they actually make a conscious decision to go and take advantage of that service. There is a period of time in between there and I call that the credibility gap and the credibility gap is the op is the biggest opportunity for businesses to do what needs to be done in that short period of time to validate the strength of the referral. So again, people are still going to seek out referrals, are going to go out and ask people they know like, and trust for information for really important decisions, but instead of just now going and using that like we would have, we’ve been trained for thousands of years, we’ve been involved that that’s the way that you protect yourself, right?


Is that you reach out to the trusted network. The difference is now that everybody thinks they’re an expert, they can, they have Google at their fingertips, they can search for anything in the world. And here’s the real key to it is in the, in the absence of information with the vacuum of information, the internet isn’t strong enough. It’s at least right now. Now I think that this is the generational shift. I think 20 years from now this changes. I did. Lots of things are going to change over the next 20 years, but um, the person is not going to then if they can’t find the information, they want to validate the strength of that single referral, they’re likely not now just going to do some blind search and find some other alternative. What they’re going to do is they’re going to go back out and ask someone else they know, like, and trust for another referral and that process will repeat until they can connect the two things, the strength of a referral with the validation of looking it up. So it’s the information people can find out about a product or service. After the point of referral that are the clients that actually turn into paid customers, people that are actually spending money with a, a a business or an individual like a provider.


So how does a company validate that referral so that they hear two or three referrals? Cool. They go search, what is it that a company can do to then validate that referral? So I, you know, interesting enough, I mean this, this is, I’ve been working on this for years. In fact, I started this company 10 years ago, um, from a con a conversation. I mean, before we get into that, we mentioned your company a couple of times. What, what is it, how did it start and was this the first thing that, that you started after? Uh, the, the mortgage stuff.


Yeah. So, okay, so great. I appreciate that. Solicit, but don’t let me, don’t let me forget about, you know, get me back on track on the other question. So, yeah. So what ended up happening was that when the mortgage crash happened, um, I was living in the Northwest. I wanted to, a change of environment anyway cause of the, the, I live in, in the, in the Willamette Valley area at through, you know, in Oregon, you live with a lid on for at least six months. A year is a lot of rain and overcast. And I wanted to get out of that and get into the sun. And so I decided to move here to Arizona. So there was a big shift that was going on. And also like I, I was in the mortgage industry for 15 years and I, and I really liked it. It was a great industry.


I did very, very well in it. It gave me a lot of time, freedom, flexibility and ability to do it and pursue other interests. But it was never a passion for me. You know what I mean? It was something I was just good at and I was good with clients. I mean, I was able to deliver a really good service. And, um, and so when I was, I, I F again, I mentioned I had my mortgage company and then I started this digital marketing company and that was my first experience building scalable technology solutions, stuff that could help people do their business better. And I found that, that for me, I have a love for teaching. I, yeah, that’s something that’s [inaudible] that I’m the most passionate about is just helping people do their, live their life better, do business better. And, uh, I call it like, I like to see the light go on in their eyes.


It’s like the aha moment. Russell Brunson talks about the epiphany bridge, right? It’s helping people get come to their own epiphany, their only understanding of something new and different. And, um, and so I found that I really enjoyed that. Now in the transition, I really didn’t know what I was going to do. I was, I thought I was gonna go do speaking public speaking, teach people about referral-based marketing and then sell books and tapes or whatever from the back of the room. Right? That was my plan. And, um, in the midst of that, I actually got into a conversation with a very high producing mortgage loan officer down in Dallas, Texas. $100 million a year producer. And yeah. And so he contacted me about some referral marketing consulting. And, um, not, not that he didn’t already have a really strong business, but that’s an indicator of someone who’s also successful.


People still are looking to learn new things, right? They’re reaching out, continually educating themselves. And so we struck up a conversation, and this was again, 10 years ago, so this was kind of a social media was still just kind of exploding, um, and content marketing and blogging and all that was still kind of just new, not new, but still hadn’t really exploded in the way that it has today. And, um, and so he had all these great systems in place and, uh, in terms of marketing. But the one thing that he couldn’t figure out is he couldn’t figure out, he was connected with all these people on social networks but didn’t know how he’d stay in front of them frequently. Or he was trying to build a WordPress blog at home at night, you know, after work. And none of that was working out. And so I literally did a one off consulting project with him and I said, yeah, I had this technology company and the combination of that and understanding the industry, I could build you a marketing system that would make you look like an expert online.


It would connect you with social networks, would have content and all that kind of stuff. And at the time I had said, yeah, but you’re going to have to, like, we’re going to have to hire you, a virtual assistant, or you’re gonna have to have someone to write content. And you know, that was the hangup. That was the, that was the difficult part because what he said in a very intuitive guy, uh, he said, you know, this sounds great. And it was, I was charging five grand so it wasn’t like a small amount of money for this like one off project. It was no one had ever really done before. And um, and he goes, no, the five grand really isn’t that big of a deal. He said it totally would make sense. But here’s the one thing is if you, if I pay you to do this and you hand it off to me, then I just know I’ll never, it’ll never do anything.


It will just sit there cause I’m never gonna write content. I’m not hiring another staff person to do this. And so this, this whole idea goes in circles right back to what we said before of find a need and fill it is that for the vast majority of people trying to utilize technology, the only offerings really that are out there are twofold. One is teaching and coaching, right? Someone builds a course and they’ll sell you a course. So now you have to sit and do it all. You go through the course and all yourself or the other option would be agency model, right? Where it’s all done for you, but it’s egregious, Lee expensive because it’s agency work, right? And so those are the only two options that were out there. And, um, and I said, you know, what, if we could automate this process, like remember I built that digital marketing, the, the design process with the Adobe software, this variable marketing system and all that.


So I said, what if we could automate this, this process of content marketing? And interestingly enough, at the time, there was actually someone in the mortgage industry that had built a software that could do automated content in channel driven format, like associated press, right? And so I, uh, in the midst of this, I connected with this other guy, Dan, and um, he had this, uh, this company. And so I became a white label for this because it was my solution to say, Michael, no, I can deliver this and we can automate the content feed. So we’ll update the content, right? Public write and publish content where you, every business day that makes you look like an expert and it’ll be ghostwritten. It looks like you wrote it published automatically to your social networks, but you’ll never have to turn it on and make it work.


And he was like, Oh yeah, no problem. Okay, let’s do it. So, so I did that. I built out the system, delivered it, and then I moved here and I sat by my pool for three, three months here in Arizona, just trying to figure out what I was going to do next. And then I called him back and said, Hey, how’s that go? And he said, you wouldn’t believe it. I said, he, he goes like, at least 10% of the people coming into my office taking loan applications are telling me they’re seeing me on social media, $100 million, a hundred million dollar producers. So there’s a lot of volume, there’s a lot of people. Right. And so I was like, Oh really? He goes, I said, well, have you, have you logged into this? Says he’s, I don’t even, did you ever even send me a password? I have no idea.


I don’t know how it’s working. And so it was so it was this, this thing like little kernel of evidence, right? Like Oh God, there’s something here. And then I started looking at the landscape, getting a little lesson for business owners. Like I looked at the landscape and I said, okay, what are the solutions that are, well, there isn’t anything. There’s a gap in the marketplace for this completely automated solution that, um, that no one seems to fulfill. Then I went to like WordCamp and things like that cause I was just learning how to do this stuff myself. Yeah. And um, of course I bring up this idea, well, here’s what I want to do. I’m going to build this automated marketing system where we can write content and channels and deliver it for companies, make them look like an expert, but they never have to turn on their computer.


They can just focus on the high dollar activities in their business. I literally got laughed out of the room, man, that’s a very good sign. That isn’t very good. That happens. I mean, they were like, you’re crazy. No one’s ever going to do it. It has to be authentic, you know, it has to be. And I’m like, well, but there’s this massive demand. There’s this massive group of people who want this service. And if the only options are do it yourself, they’ll never do it. Or egregiously expensive agency work. They’re never going to do that either. But why wouldn’t we just deliver a solution? So that’s what inspired this starting this company, my smart blog. And um, and that’s what we’ve done for again, 10 years, um, is, is literally write and publish content in the real estate and the mortgage space. We also have some attorneys that have been clients, specifically the bankruptcy legal, uh, world that was, um, a partnership that I built with a guy that was writing content in Portland.


And so we’ve done that for now about 10 years, every single business day. Wow. I ended up acquiring that software company that, uh, I became their largest client as a white label. And then we acquired that. So now we own that all in house. Um, and that’s, and that was kind of the inspiration of, of how that happened, how we, how we started going into this. So then you add, so then over time we built this company for 10 years, thousands of users across the country. And um, and we are just like any business does, it’s a collaboration. It’s not any one genius that does it. It’s a matter of going through iteration after iteration and working with clients and finding it and they ask you to do things or can you do this and you find out solutions. You try a lot of things.


They go, entrepreneurs, that ship thing is you gotta be ready to fail. Right? I mean, I tell my kids all the time, the best they see dad doing this and they’re like, Oh yeah, that’s what we want to do. Cause they, they see all the benefits of it. I say, yeah, but you just got to understand it. I’ve had big losses too, and you just have to win more than you lose and you have to be willing to continue to try new things. And so as we’ve evolved over time, and this is, this is where I’m getting back to this, what Cub companies have to do, is that we built a stack of solutions, uh, for people. And we still didn’t, I, it never was crystallized into the credibility gap message. And a few good things have happened over time in the way that technology evolved and the way that human beings use technology changed all in a way that supported this whole process.


So where we are today is I thought we were late to the game in blogging 10 years ago. Find out that the way that social is developed and the reliance on it and the way that search has evolved and everything else, we’re actually, it’s more important today than it was 10 years ago and it will be more important 10 years from now than it is today. And so, um, and so at working with clients and doing consult that consulting level and providing the service 10 years, we built a stack of services and um, and two years ago I went through a process again of kind of trying to think through what is, what would be the next steps or what’s the next opportunity. Uh, in digital you kind of always have to be evolving to some degree. And um, and so I went through a coaching program and so a little plug for Aaron Fletcher, he’s out in California, a great guy, Fletcher method, and he has a real unique ability to take these.


The difficulty for many entrepreneurs is that we have it all in our brain. Like we understand what it is for ourselves. It’s really hard to like put that into some kind of tangible format. Right. And he has a process that that’s really good for that. It’s really good for if you have a, if you’re, it’s well-defined, you understand what it is, it’s really good to be able to make it into a roadmap. And what I was able to do is take this con his, his kind of coaching and the format and I was able to take this stuff that we developed over, you know at that 0.8 years and develop this roadmap and that’s literally what it is. There are seven credibility markers that I’ve looked at and, and there might be more, but at this point we have seven and our roadmap that a company every company really has to have in place in order to create what I call a profitable online presence.


When I say profitable, I mean profit is the motive here, right? And so it’s what are the boxes that have to be checked off by a consumer when they are looking to validate the strength of the referral? Remember that all of the business that’s actually going to close all of the clients [inaudible] digital marketing agency, you guys do video marketing work, ad ad working, all the kinds of [inaudible] the the people that likely will turn into clients for you are probably going to be referred to you at some level. Whether it’s a digital referral, someone emails somebody or that somebody refers them through Facebook or whatever, and then they’re going to look you up online. They’re going to look at the quality of your work. Just like I looked you guys up and watched your videos. I was so impressed with the quality of your editing and everything you guys do. And um, and then and, and that credibility gap is going to get closed and then they become a paying client, right? That’s the pro, the kind of client journey these days. Right. And so there’s these seven specific things that are the boxes that people have to check off or make it easier for people to check off in their mind in order to say yes, indeed. The embellishment that came from the person that I trust at the point of referral is indeed true. Therefore it makes sense for me to move forward and make contact.


That’s a couple of go into those seven boxes. Cause I would love to know what those are. Cause I mean basically every loved, loved the journey that you just took us on. And basically I, I think it’s, it’s producing content that helps you be credible. It shows that you know what you’re doing. It shows, yeah, the proof is in the pudding and, and I’m interested to hear what those seven are. And it’s, cause I mean that’s the whole reason why we’re doing this is it is, I mean, who, if we start running ads for video production and all that, sure, people will see it. But until it comes from someone, that’s when all of a sudden they’ll come back, look and go, okay, these guys kind of know what they’re doing. And that’s where it comes from. And so what would those seven things,


this is the exercise in memory, right? When you’re, you know, nervous and everything. But I, yeah, you know, I talk about this a lot and see, I’ll go through, so the first thing is just to provide a professional online presence. Okay. So in what we mean is the website. And so we, we use WordPress because of its blogging capabilities and its ability to interact with all the other social networks. It’s the 900 pound gorilla in the content marketing space. Uh, there’s ways if you have some other type of website that’s already built on a different framework that you use it as an ancillary or an end, you know, a complimentary website in addition to just tie everything together. And so that’s what we do for a lot of clients. That that’s the case. They have an industry type website that they want to buy blog based website for content marketing, but you really have to have an outbound strategy website, which is a blog based website.


And really the only option is WordPress. Um, and, and, and the key with that though is more important than the functionality. It’s the design. And, uh, and so, and so with the design work, it needs to be high quality, professional level design. It can’t look like it was, you know, it can’t look like it’s thrown together. And there’s a reason for that. Everything that I do has to do with human psychology. I love the brain hacking part. Right? And here’s the thing is if you start, Malcolm Gladwell wrote a book called blink and um, and he talks about this, this concept called thin slicing. And again, evolutionary traits. These, these types of, um, people like consistency, right? And these and habits, habits are really, really hard to break in human beings. And, and largely we develop habits for pro self protection. And so he gives the example in blink, he talks about, you know, when you’re in an in a unfamiliar situation or something that maybe is a little nerve wracking or scary, the hair stands up on the back of your head.


Well that’s your body telling you, you have this kind of, this reaction, reptilian brain reaction telling you that there’s danger around and it makes you take notice. And this concept of thin slicing, we’ve evolved over time to be able to assess situations to protect ourselves very, very quickly. And so the idea, the concept, the idea between something that’s visual, a visual reference versus a, like a document or a written reference. Um, people make decisions even though they may not want to do this, they make them aesthetically, right? So what something looks like makes a massive difference on in someone deciding whether or not they’ll actually put enough time and attention or energy into digging deeper to find out information. So like using the right quality images like or the right style of images. Like if a client’s in a local area, we tell them use images that are landmarks that people that are looking for you recognize as home.


Because what’s important about that is when they instantly get to your website, if they’re looking at by name because they’re searching for you because they’ve been referred, they know that you’re, if it’s a local market related service, they know that in Seattle, if they see the space needle, they know in the background image on their website, Oh yeah. That I’m just the right person. Right? It’s because there’s a connection, right? And [inaudible] like you just said, authority images or um, affiliation, images, things that you support. Those are ways to draw connection using imagery. So again, that’s the first one. There’s tons of things about this by saying, but those are a couple of ideas, um, that with that. Um, the second thing is brand consistency. Uh, so it’s, it’s not just people think about their website as an Island. Like this is, you know, like maybe it’s the T they’re their own private Tahiti or whatever.


Uh, it’s not really about your website. The hardest thing to do to get people to do is to actually change behavior, which means something like coming to a website they otherwise wouldn’t have been looking for. So you could spend thousands and thousands of dollars to build this magnificent website with tons of functionality, everything. But the hardest thing to do is get good qualified, interested traffic there. And so you have to reach out to people where they’re already hanging out. And so, um, Marcy, that social media and so it’s things like making sure that your presence in the website extends out to all those platforms so that it’s like why Starbucks and Coca-Cola spend millions and millions of dollars a year to make sure their brand looks the same everywhere you see them. You need to do that as an individual person or small company, make sure that your brand looks bigger than you.


Right? You do that through consistency. Consistency breeds credibility, credibility leads to trust. Trust leads to dollars at the end of the day and, and so that, that’s really that. That’s the second thing is this brand consistency. The third thing is, is a content. So we talk about blog content a lot, but that can be, we can get video content is another, is that like the next level. But in our case, just well-written, professionally crafted credibility, building content published on a frequent basis elevates your level of credibility when someone’s looking you up so they know that you’re still engaged in the industry. Like if you, if the last time, if the law, you have a blog site, like you spent the money to get a blog, but the last time you updated it was three years ago. We were literally just talking about this before, uh, before you got in.


Yeah. It’s like it doesn’t do you any favors. In fact, it probably detracts from you because people say, Oh, they’re not on top of the game. So consistency is important. Now, the really good distinction here, like does it matter that you wrote the content? Probably not. That’s a question I want to get into down the road. But yeah, I, yeah, probably not. I mean, from the individual user who they’re all members that the user there, they’re just trying to validate the referral at this point. So all they need to do is see relevant content in the industry that makes you look like an expert that has you as the byline that you wrote it. Right? They’re not gonna, they don’t care. You know, they don’t care. They’re not going to go. People ask us all the time, well, what if, you know, what if someone in my office sees the, you know, or we have the same content, well, first of all, the people going to your website aren’t going to a person, your office website, the only going there because they’re referred to you.


Right? So it’s, it’s unique to their eyeballs and that’s all that matters because all we’re trying to do here is take that most interested client and get them across this credibility gap. And so we want to have frequently updated content that’s relevant. Now the good news about that is it’s easy to automate and it’s inexpensive to fulfill. So you can do this way less expensive than having to go try to hire writers to be able to write for you or to sit down yourself and try to write out posts which sales people are horrible at. Right? So, so that’s, you know, there’s some ways that you against systematize this stuff and automate it, that help it, that makes it make, makes it work and makes it work best for the type of client who’s actually going to do business with you. Um, so again, content is that, that’s the, that’s the third thing.


The fourth thing is, is social. I mentioned social media either before, but that’s really the fifth thing is the key is actively updated social profiles. And, uh, so the reason that you do that all, all the time, people say, but I don’t like Twitter, but I don’t like I, I, you know what, I don’t, I don’t love Twitter either. I mean, I don’t use it. Lots of people do. I, I just, I’ve never, it’s never connected for me. I use, I use Snapchat with my kids more than I use Twitter. Right. Um, Jason, my sales manager, he works, he uses Twitter so effectively to connect with people like all them big names. I mean, uh, crazy like, um, Gary Vaynerchuk team and people like that though he’s opened up conversations for us with just in the last 30 days. Yeah. By just leveraging Twitter and stuff.


So, um, you know, it can be a really effective tool, um, as well. But my point with social media is that in marketing you have to reach out to people where they’re already hanging out. They expect to be able to find you there. And likely because of the nature of the way communities are built online, which are the reason social media exploded the way it is, is the best replica or analog of how we work in community offline. Right? And so that’s why it’s been so adopted so heavily. Um, lots of referrals. I’ll tell you a quick story. Uh, one of our clients told us this. So, um, uh, a gal that he knew on Facebook referred him through Facebook to someone else who wanted to sell her apartment. And so, uh, she came back and went to his Facebook business page, which had been built by us custom branding that matched his website, updated everyday business content, updated, saw the information, click through there, went to his website, then contacted him.


She then listed her, her, um, condo with him and then subsequently went to buy her next home with him. Okay. Now this guy happens to be in Campbell, California. Average sales price in Campbell, California is one point $3 million. Okay. So when you do the simple math on this of what he, you know, two and a half percent commission on each of the two transactions, whatever the average, it’s like 50,000 bucks in commission. Pretty big win for social marketing. Right? You know, he started to feel like, what’s the ROI? Well, you have to be present there because people are connecting and telling each other though that’s the nature of referrals too in this case. And you have to be, you have to be present in those social networks. And again, the good news is you can automate a lot of those processes so you can update your Twitter feed with the content you publish into your blog, automatically put a connection, uh, the headline into your Twitter feed with a link back to the blog post and update that every single business day without ever having to turn it on or ever logging in.


Um, and so there’s lots of ways that we use tools to be able to automate all these processes, make sure people active. Another little side benefit of having actively updated social profiles is if you think about search engine optimization, which is this black hole, right, that even the experts in SEO still now they don’t know how to do it really. I mean it’s really all just about con unique content. It’s egregiously expensive. Uh, there is no tricks anymore. You can’t do all the link wheels and back, you know, back linking and all the other kind of SEO tricks that used to be around. Uh, the search engines are too smart now and um, and, and so it really is all, all about content. But here’s the beauty of it was there’s been such a, a lot of misconception out there. If we know that 90% of the clients we’re actually going to turn into paying clients for us are actually the only search term they’re really going to look for us is by name.


Then once, the only thing you have to rank for your name, your name, your company, only thing that really matters. What’s really cool is because social networks like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, all the social networks within search algorithms, they’re weighted very heavily. They’re trusted platforms, right? Because people have to be identified and so what ends up happening, and we see this all the time, is as we start to update, even if we are just setting up their social networks and then we’re updating them frequently, those index really well for what their name, right? They all of a sudden they start to own the front page of Google for their name in all these variable networks. Now the reason that makes sense and is valuable to clients is because it might be a client who they have a favorite social media network. It might be Twitter even though they never let.


So that’s the pathway that gets them back in and engaged into the website is they, they go to Twitter cause they like Twitter. They see that you’re actively updating, you have a presence there. It’s got a nice image that makes you look professional. They click that link and take them back to your blog, which now is updated information. That content right in a professionally presented, Mmm. Digital real estate, right? And, and all of a sudden now we’re starting to close that credibility gap. Okay. So that’s, that’s the other part, social network participation. Uh, the next one is an engaged email list. So, so we email used to be like that, the opt in, right? Get an email list. Marketing people. There’s some big changes right now with email. Uh, you know, I know, I know you guys are paying attention to, but like Frank Kern talks about all the time, the pixel is the new, the new email address, right?


It’s really just retargeting. Um, and, but the reality is that it’s still the most intimate permission-based way that you can communicate with people online, right? So if you can gather people’s email addresses and then do an effective job about communicating, not selling to them through email, but building value and continue to communicate and building trust, then that’s a, that’s a really important additional a tool that you would use. So that, that’s the next step. Okay. Um, I, I should have backed up cause there’s really three phases. The physical, it’s just the presence. The image is the first, the first phase. The second one is communication. And um, Oh, that’s a credibility. So the first one is credibility. Uh, so it’s how you look online. The second one is communication. Once people find you online, how do you communicate effectively? So that was content, social marketing and email newsletters.


And the third one is connection or community. And this is where it really goes on steroids. So this is the most important thing. But the thing to understand is you can’t do these top ones effectively without having the foundation put in place. That’s why there’s a pathway and you follow it. This literally, if I can get you guys the roadmap and you can show it on the video, um, but there’s the pathway you follow and it’s all built one on the other. So once we get to the top level, communication is really where it takes this offline trust factor that drives all real business and gives you the ability to display that. And so the first one is, uh, ratings, reviews and testimonials, right? So we call that raving fans. So it’s, it’s, you have to have a way to systematically and continuously resource and display high quality ratings, reviews and testimonials.


In fact, it literally is the single most important conversion factor for people considering to use a product or service online is third party testimonial evidence. And so the good news again, is these great software products that are out there. We have a software product within our service stack that we deliver that includes that we call it review rocket, but there are other services to the Duke cultivation of ratings, reviews and testimonials. They’re all smart softwares. They all virtually all have the same exact feature sets. Um, and you just have to figure out which one you want to use. But um, but, but you have to have a plan in place. And the key to this is anything not systematized is probably not getting done. So if it’s less left to someone to have to manually do it, probably won’t get done. And so that’s the key of using software or using systems to do this.


But uh, cultivating those and displaying those, um, I always give the Amazon example. Um, interestingly enough, I actually was doing more research as I’ve developed this whole concept and, and teaching people about it. But did you know this, that, okay, 1995 was the date. It was the year I started in the mortgage business, try to graduate from college, start in the mortgage business in 1995. So in my slide deck I talk about the fact that I’m sitting on their side of the table because this all comes from my background in their industry, sales and that kind of thing. Doing relationship-based sales. But what was interesting, I didn’t know this but I was looking into, cause I’ve always known the um, the, the importance of ratings, reviews and testimonials. 1995 was a critical date also, Amazon was only selling books in 1995. Okay. You go to the way back machine and left side.


It’s like this little text based site like the blue and purple tax, you know, like hyperlinks and all that. So what’s really interesting is, is the 1995 was the revolutionary shift. The beginning of the, it’s like the big, the big bang of what became web 2.0. And so they were the first company in the history of the internet to leave this billboard based, um, one way conversation that was really just like a business card or, or pamphlet or brochure that was web 1.0 into the two way communication of the web. And what that was, is they were the first company ever to offer the ability for their clients to review the books that they bought. Okay. And they started to develop the platform of online reviews, which was pretty funny because as I’m going through this, like, Holy crap, that was the year. And, and this was, they were the first company.


Um, and they leverage that ratings, reviews and testimonials and a lot of other social marketing to now grow into one of the largest retailers in the world. Right. So what’s, what’s interesting about that is I use this example when I talk to people in presentations all the time, both live presentations that people raise their hands or in digital ones when I have them answering in the, in the box on a poll, last time you went to Amazon and you looked at any product or service to buy before you actually push the buy button. Did you go down and look at the reviews and testing your persona? Not just you, but everybody does it. So these are the things that you look at brain psychology and you look at how do you connect online marketing to brain psychology. Cause at the end of the day, no matter how many bells and whistles you could develop, no matter how many whizzbang new tactics, you could figure out all these kinds of things, the only thing at the end of the day that matters is how a human being’s brain converts the process to actually decide to push that buy button and put in their credit card.


Right? And so, um, and so the big shift that’s happened, the big change is, is it’s all about ratings, reviews. It’s all about, cause you could consider those reviews, those reviews the same as referrals, right? But the big shift, the big changes that 15 years ago you relied on only people that you know for review, for referrals. Your trusted network is only people that you know. But now how many people that left those reviews on Amazon? Did you know, zero and no one does. And yet we put more faith into what people we don’t know, say about a product or service. Then what we put in what the company says about their own service. So individual real estate agents, attorneys, financial planners, doctors, everybody in service based businesses needs to understand is that no matter what, no matter how many accolades they can put out about themselves, no matter how well they can talk about themselves and embellish themselves. And no matter how beautiful of a website you can put together saying how wonderful your firm is, it will matter. It won’t. It will be a tiny percentage as effective as having 10 glowing customer reviews of your service.


Yup. And do you think it matters whether it’s just Hey look at the testimonials or should it be come in through a third party service like Hey check out our Google reviews or Yelp review, whatever it may be. Cause it’s, I know we’re, we’re doing more video testimonials because it helps build that relationship with more. But I mean just what are your thoughts on, cause I mean most website builders you can throw in testimonials and I mean there’s been people that, I mean put fake stuff, but is that still effective or a combination of both?


Well, I think we see this all the time with our clients. They’re like, well how can I get more Google reviews? I can get, get more Facebook leads. Well here’s the thing is first of all, you got you. You ask them to do the review, but it really does you, you have to, you have to make that process happen. Meaning you have to pick up the phone and say, Hey, thanks for the review or this review. Can you go to Facebook right now? I mean like walk them through it, right? Because people just, generally people don’t, they just won’t take the time. So you really have to work for those third party reviews most of the time. And the downside of that is that the people who are angry or upset with you, they’re the ones that will go leave the review. So you have to be cognizant this and you have to take a proactive approach and, but th th so the easiest way to start is to have a good quality software that you control and actually post those.


So at the end of the day, do I think it matters? First of all, integrity is critical. And so people that would put fake reviews on their stuff probably will be found out relatively quickly. And then engagements when they get together with people, cause they’re just not, they’re not reliable people anyway. Um, so I think that a person has to take action and have something in place for themselves that they can control and place them there first and then give people the option to go to those social networks. And do that. And then if it’s really important and not organic, where people are going to the social networks, then they have to put a plan in place to physically get those reviews. And do I think it’s important to have high quality Facebook reviews, Google reviews, you know, Yelp, if you like Yelp, some people hate Yelp, whatever. But the point is that, you know, if you want those reviews out there, are they important?


Yes. Uh, does it give an extra level of validation? I think for people that really understand review systems, yes. Because they know that they can’t be spoofed. Right? Um, I think for the average consumer, no, I think the average consumer, just by the time they’re getting to the review and testimonial part, they’ve, they’ve seen the high quality website. They’ve seen the, you know, if they came in through a third party, like a network, they’ve seen that brand consistency, which just, you know, subconsciously builds trust. You know, they’ve seen updated content. Um, by the time they’re also now digging in. This is when people are digging in deeper, right? They’re digging into the reviews section of the site. I think all th th now they’re just really just checking boxes. Right? Okay. Yeah. Oh look at these reviews. People say, Oh great, well they must be, they look professional, they’ve got great content.


And then the last piece is, and I know you’re going to really like this because you guys also specialize in this too, um, is, is really audience retargeting, retargeting. Huge, huge proponent. Yeah. It’s so under utilized and uh, yeah. And, and, and so here’s the thing that I think most businesses need to understand about, about ads in general. When you look at effectiveness of ads, it’s so cost effective to run audience retargeting ads of people who are already exposed to you at some level. And if you understand advertising, and again, take it back to people’s own experience. Like when you go out to a website and any website of any kind, do you spend a lot of time taking me in, taken a notice and interest in the ads that are on the site of any site? No, because for 15 years on the internet, what have we been trained to do?


Tune out ads, right? There’s even software out there that you’ve download ad blocker, right? That blocks the ads. People, people are annoyed by ads. So the psychologically we’ve been trained on the internet to disregard ads. Okay. Really cool thing. So broad based ads of white audiences that have cold traffic or more expensive. Oh yeah. More way more difficult to convert. Virtually impossible. I mean, if you look at the statistics, I mean it’s for some 97%, don’t do not convert based business. If you’re selling a $20 thing, I buy it all the time. Instagram ads, right? I see a thing, it’s like whizzbang Oh, that looks pretty cool. So you know, and I ended up ordering and whatever. Um, but, but if it’s something simple, a 20, $30 purchase, that’s a totally different ballgame. But when we’re talking about thousand dollars plus $500 plus services, thousand dollars plus services, um, it’s a different mindset.


We’ve been talking this whole time about how human beings think that through, right? And use the technology to help them make these decisions. So the key to advertising is that you want to grow the biggest audience possible. But not just a cold audience. You want to build an audience that somehow has a connection to you and buy and then you leverage that. Well, the beauty of it is, again, it’s super inexpensive to run audience retargeting ads, right? Because it’s a, it’s a much smaller universe of people that could possibly see the ads and it’s more effective. And here’s the reason it’s more effective that people really need to get into grasp. So there’s this thing in your brain called the reticular activation system. [inaudible] and it’s again, one of these things that you can’t change is every human beings the same. It’s evolved over thousands of years. It helps to protect us.


And it’s when things are important to you, like they have an emotional connection to you or something that’s important to you, you take notice more than you would otherwise. Let’s just say for instance, I just got a red Corvette. Okay? So, um, I’d never ever thought I’d get a Corvette ever, but you know, and decided on a whim that that would be a fun thing to have. It’s like a big, it’s, it’s a used Corvette, inexpensive car. But it’s like a big go-cart, right? Yeah. And it’s fun to drive. So anyway, I’ve got this red Corvette, so the particular activation system, once I owned that, I never thought I would own it before, but all of a sudden you start seeing red Corvettes all over the place or whatever. Just replace it with whatever you want. Right? But the, the point to this is that your brain can’t let you not, um, not notice things that are important to you, right.


That you’ve made a decision about or you’ve been introduced to. So in the same thing about advertising, this is why we teach people with audience retargeting is that if it’s your, if it’s a face or a name of someone that you know, and that’s what your face is super important in the ad because if they’ve been introduced to you, even if it’s been a digital introduction and now they’re in your audience because you’ve pixeled them, right? They’ve visited your site or whatever, um, their, their brain won’t, you still notice the ads. Your brain takes in so much more information than what you actually, it filters all this stuff. Yeah. But your brain won’t let you not notice someone you recognize on the page, and so when you start using it, the point is, will someone click on the ad and actually do something because everybody wants the ROI, right?


I want the stats. Trust me, man. It doesn’t work like that. That’s not how people, people watch tradition and understanding attribution is the key to that. Knowing that the first touch point isn’t going to be what converts, but it’s that long term. It’s the frequency, right? It’s a frequency of appearance, creates top of mind awareness, which leads to trust and credibility, which leads to action at the point the actions needed, but the thing is you want to train that person’s brain when they think about your category, whatever your services that they say, Dustin’s the guy, right? That’s the guy that I’m thinking about for this particular thing because he’s been frequently updated in my brain. I haven’t even needed to really take notice purposefully, consciously, but subconsciously it’s been rebranded in my brain so many times and I had a touch point. I had an exposure that connected those two things.


And that’s what drives people to make decisions. And so that’s how you, that’s the seventh thing. So that’s the seven credibility markers. If someone puts those in place, those seven things, there’s literally nothing else that they really need to do online. There’s, there’s, you can, you can get incremental benefit from running sales funnels, like cold traffic stuff. Um, I’ll give you one last example of, of, of this. Uh, I was sitting, there’s a guy here in Phoenix and you probably know, his name’s Russell Shaw. He’s a real estate agent, runs the biggest TV budget in the Phoenix marketplace. Massive. Been around for a long time in the real estate industry. So obviously you don’t know him, but he always says this, this tagline is like, I’m not taking a listing. I’m applying for a job type of thing. That’s his tagline thing that he’s always saying these, these ads.


I was at a referral marketing conference with this guy, Michael Mayer, another great guy. I’ve done, I’ve spoken with him a number of different times on, you know, different events, spoken at events and uh, runs a, uh, uh, a referral based marketing company in the real estate space. But he was doing a big event here in Phoenix and he had a panel of people come in that were high producers that were all relationship based, referral driven marketers in the middle, the space. Well Russell Shaw is sitting on this panel, you have to understand this guy. I don’t know what their budget is but it’s in the hundreds of thousands. If not, I mean it’s a ton cause they, they, they ran a ton, ton of TV ads around the Valley. Um, and so someone in the audience called him out on that and they’re like, well you run, we see you all the time on TV.


This, you were talking referral-based marketing and none of this advertising even make sense and all this. So you run all these ads while you do it. So his answer was really instructive and interesting. And he said, you know, here’s the thing that he said, we’ve been in this business for a time. It was like 40 years in the Valley, right? And we have a massive, massive [inaudible] customer base. And he said, you have to understand something that all of our business that we do is driven by our referral marketing strategies. Exactly like what Michael’s teaching today. He said, the only reason we run the ads largely is because we have such a big customer base. It reinforces us to all the people that we already do business with. He said, dude, we get an incrementally get someone that calls us just because we’re running TV ads.


Yes, he said it does. We get an incremental bump off of that, but it’s not really enough to actually pay for the expenditure. But what we immediately do is put them into all of our referral marketing systems. And that’s what drives our business. And it was instructive to understand if people can get out of the, the one thing that I see that the educator hat, I want to help people, right. And the one thing is that people get caught. They get taken down this line online of spinning so much money trying to change marketing and sales from outside of the actual human experience like they want it to be, they want it to work because it works digitally, but it doesn’t connect to the way human beings work. And it’s so costly. It’s, it’s so damaging to people’s businesses. It’s, it’s so much misinformation for people that are practitioners of that, that really believe that they have an expertise in it.


I’m not, they do actually lots of times you can be an expert in something. You can, you can physically do, deliver a service that you promise. It still may be ineffective at actually, you know, getting a client that closes, right? And, and, and so that’s the biggest thing that I want to share with people is like if they look at these seven, these seven steps, they put these checkboxes in place and then all you have to do is go out and then focus on the stuff that builds the biggest local audience. Like gets the most people out there. Make those personal connections, build, influencing relationships with people, uh, who, who are good influencers out in the, out, in, in your world. Again, going back to why you connect with people that you, things that you’re already passionate about. Um, [inaudible] and build the biggest audience in your local market, you will win.


But the digital solution, the combination with referral, giant [inaudible], [inaudible] this, I’m launching this plot with this digital platform, which is really about this, the intersection of online and offline marketing. It’s about how, what, how are these, these thought process thought processes work and how you connect the online and offline space. Um, if, if people understand that, then they’re freed. They’re released from all of this craziness of having to chase all of these online dragons and just focus on these seven things. Get those things in place, know that you’ve knocked it out of the park with those seven things and then go do the things that are the high dollar activities in your business and you will win because the biggest audience with the most frequent, you know, a touch, touch points, uh, build the, the most offline people telling people about your business and then you win.


That’s amazing. There’s a lot of good stuff and I mean the whole retargeting thing, I mean that’s a lot of the reason why we do this is, I mean, one, it’s fun to have these conversations. I’ve learned so much, but too, it’s, I mean just marketing on literally introducing your brand on YouTube, YouTube marketing. You’re looking at two to 3 cents for someone to watch 30 seconds or more and then you can retarget those people who have watched it. And then you, I mean from here there’s going to be lots of clips from this one. But then it’s, it’s, I mean, over the course of 10 episodes, we have a hundred pieces of content that are, that you can retarget with the, keeps the face and everything top of mind. And then one, when those people go and do the search for content marketing, there’s marketing and stuff like that.


You can retarget them whenever they’re at that bottom of the funnel. And chances are they’re going to choose you whenever they’ve seen seeing your, your ugly mug a hundred times and, and whatever it may be, but love everything that, that you just went through because that’s, I mean, it’s figuring out how to produce content and each of those seven phases, I mean, is, is literally the roadmap to winning and, and if you can do it effectively, and, uh, the psychology part is just so huge and it just builds that relationship. And then when they’re ready to make that decision, you’ve already built that relationship. They bought in, they’ve seen reviews, they’ve, they’re, you’re top of mind. They’re, they’re ready to buy. And that’s, that’s literally how you build that relationship. That is so cool.


It is. And, and, and just, you, you, you’re right. And, and the key to that too is that you now can charge what you’re worth instead of like, if you don’t do this type of stuff, you’re always, you’re always trying to be the low cost leader because it’s really the only way you compete. Like once you’re, once people see you as the expert, like because you’ve delivered so much value through this and education and the things that you’ve done and delivered it in this, that megaphone way, right. With, with retargeting and, and video, especially video, um, it, it, people get away from price shopping you as much because they just want your expertise and, and that’s not to say like I’ve always been, I’m, I’m a relatively, like when I said the Corvette thing, I was, I felt guilty cause it’s like I don’t want to put it out there.


Like I’m this guy. Like I bought a, used it, you know, use Corvette is inexpensive and it was literally a little fun. Like I said, it’s a, it’s a, it’s a glorified go-kart. But, um, because I’m a pretty cost conscious person myself. I mean, I’ve always been that way. I was raised in an entrepreneurial family that was like, there’s, you know, always afraid. There’s not, it’s not gonna work out. There’s never going to be enough. And so you’re always kind of, and you have to get out of that scarcity mentality, you know, sometimes. But what I’m saying is that you can give people a great deal for the value you use deliver. And when they see you as the expert that you are, you’re then capable to say to them, no, look, you’ve seen all of this and I am an expert in this space.


And therefore here’s what I charge. You could, yeah, you can go price shop me, but this is what I’m worth and I know I can deliver. And you, you also know it because you have this exposure and you have this ability. You’ve been able to prove to yourself through your own research that I am who I’m telling you who I am. Right? And at the end of the day, that’s what I think that’s the best application of, of technology is the internet is, uh, for businesses. Is being able to paint that picture for, let, let people come to that determination to the picture that you paint on your, on your own through those digital resources.


No, it’s been, it’s been great because it’s, I mean, I’ve been doing this for about eight years now, but, uh, I only know from the big brands and all that we’re going to agencies, but we’re finally have enough revenue coming in and this next Wednesday we’re sitting down and talking about our strategy and everything like that. But everything that you just mentioned is exactly what’s on the agenda is how do we introduce, how do we then stay top of mind through different pieces of content. And, uh, so it’s, it’s, it’s cool to hear, it kind of validates that, Hey, we’re on the right track. Um, and that’s really cool. Kind of as we wrap up, there’s a, there’s a, I mean, everyone nowadays knows that they need to produce more content. Um, I w what’s the biggest piece of advice you have for someone that, that knows that they should be doing it? They’re on the edge and, and uh, what, what, what piece of advice do you have to get them to just go?


Yeah. So two things. Number one is if you sit around and think that you’re going to write it yourself, I mean, if you’re in business, unless you’re a writer, unless that’s your job, is you’re a writer, uh, you have to outsource it. So you have to come up with a strategy to outsource content from a blog content perspective, I think is, is the, the, and I’m going to preface this, there’s a difference between a video for sure, uh, or written content, written content you have to outsource because it’s too time consuming for someone who is a, is a knowledge based. The, your value comes from knowledge, right? That if it’s a service that you provide, then the, the value that you provide to the marketplace comes through your knowledge and expertise, right? Um, you just can’t afford to write content yourself. I mean it’s, it’s a, it’s, it’s something that you can, you can hire a team member if you want to hire someone to do it, to bring it in house.


You can use third party platforms. There’s lots of platforms out there that have content writers on that. You just do it yourself and manage the process. Um, I wouldn’t, I wouldn’t recommend, you know, inexpensive overseas writers, um, for American cotton. It just never, it just won’t fit the expertise, you know, label. But uh, but at the same time, like I do think you need to find a good quality way to outsource that one way or the other. Either you hire an assistant or to to do that kind of writing or you outsource to affirm agency or even a company like ours which do channel driven content that we can do it for a less price. It’s not unique, but it’s going to fit the bill for that. Secondarily on the video thing. Um, I think the easy path and you hear a lot of people say this is everybody’s packing around plenty of a compete, a super computer in their pocket to shoot short, authentic videos and you have to get over if you really want to maximize it, you have to get over the same fear that I have.


You talked to the st, I mean I think all of us share this fear, even those of us that are in digital, unless you’re one of the beat in my own chest, guys or gals that really like that, I mean we all have to get over the fear of putting ourselves on camera and making ourselves look foolish possibly. Or we feel like we’re always our biggest self critic, right? So you have to get over that piece and use the tools that you have at hand immediately to do some basic things. One strategy I’ll just give you is that, you know, the 10 what are the 10 biggest questions someone asks you about your business? Think that through for a second. Like what are the questions you answer over and over again? Just do 10 quick videos, answering those questions. Put ’em on your, on your blog, you make each one a blog post, uh, make, uh, make a, a, you know, set it up so that it’s a, a group of like, um, a directory so that people can go through when they come to your website.


That’s a good way to use video. Obviously a YouTube channel, put them on your YouTube channel, the most frequently asked questions. That’s an easy pathway to start getting some video content. And even that simple little thing, once it’s done, adds a huge amount of value. Mmm. And then you really want to, uh, if it, depending on the business and the category, if you really want to, um, you know, get that higher level. Um, the thing going through my mind is finished product, right? So I do think there’s, there’s two different styles of video. There’s the authentic raw, just Gary Vaynerchuk sitting at the coffee table thing, which is great. That’s awesome. And I think people enjoy that. I think there is a value in some, in some level of working with a studio too, uh, for certain types of video or certain certain things. That’s one of the things I’m excited.


I saw your guys and stuff and honestly some of the best video editing that I’ve seen, uh, from like really for a couple of years probably of, I, I think you guys do extremely high quality stuff. Yeah. Like, and cutting edge and new and unique and uh, just to throw out that, that’s why we switched. We were going to go to my place to do the thing. I saw your guys’ videos, like no way. I’m going to their place. Right. And uh, and I carved that time out on my schedule because I wanted to come see your guys this location in the way you put your stuff together because it’s so high quality. And I just want to emphasize that for below taking a look at this that yes, you can create a ton of authentic video. Yes. You should be doing that. Yes, you can do it right now.


Get started. Uh, also there is room that had talked to people who are experts in their craft. And um, that’s where, that’s where I’m at in business and, and something I’m excited to talk to you guys about as well. So, um, yeah, it’s content, but the key is the, the first thing is you’ve got, you have to that you can’t not do it if you don’t put content marketing and content marketing strategy in place starting to 2020 going forward. I just don’t see how business can be competitive in the next two years. I mean, it is, it is the qualifier. It’s what people are starting. They become trained now. It’s what they’re looking for to validate whether or not they should use a business. And if you don’t have a strategy in place and are implementing it, you’re going to lose


the, uh, the frequently asked questions. Um, tell people to even go to Cora and look at what people are asking in your industry and just answer those. But having, having a healthy mix of the authentic just shoot from your phone. Cause that helps create the relationship. But also having a little bit more highly produced stuff helps show that you’re bigger than what you might be. And so just having a healthy mix of everything I think is the way to go. Um, do appreciate your time and, and where can people find you and your business?


My smart blog.com is the easiest place to go. That’s the, um, the, our company, if you’re not in the real estate and mortgage space, I will say that we’re broadening. That’s one of the restarts I, six months ago I decided that we were going to go to a different level and we’re building a platform so we can do content creation for literally any business category. So if you’re interested in, in channel driven content at a very cost effective rate, uh, on a subscription basis, then contact us there. Am I smart blog.com and uh, we’ll be again, uh, don’t have a firm launch date on referral giant, but that’s going to be a fun project. It’s a community platform really to just really focus on the teaching aspect of how, how tech digital technology really connects the human, uh, in the offline world. Awesome. Well, I appreciate your time. Great. Thanks. A lot of us. Appreciate it.

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