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Running A Business Effectively Through Digital Marketing with Mike Michalowicz
I’ve got Mike Michalowicz on our show. He is the author of Profit First, The Pumpkin Plan and his latest book, Clockwork. I just bought an extra copy for my COO, who is my daughter who is 24 years old and is killing on building systems in place. I know she’s going to love the details in this book about making your business run like clockwork. Mike has founded and sold two companies, one private equity and another to Fortune 500. He’s running his third multimillion-dollar venture, Profit First Professionals. For those of you who I’ve referred Profit First to, you’ll know that there are accounting professionals and other types of professionals you can use to support a Profit First style venture. That’s what that is. Mike is a former small business columnist for The Wall Street Journal and a business makeover specialist for MSNBC. Over the years, Mike has traveled the globe speaking with thousands of entrepreneurs. He is here to help us learn what he’s got. Wouldn’t we all like to have a self-running business, a business that runs like Clockwork? Wouldn’t we all like to have profit be first in our business? We’re here to learn from the best. Mike, welcome to the show.
Tracy, thank you so much for doing this.
I want to talk a little bit about two sides of things that you refer to in your books. That is many of us are running in the solopreneur world in the low amounts of staff world, outsourcing everything. Yet, we’re still not efficient. We’re still not making it go. Much of that nowadays are falling into this digital marketing world where we’re doing so many things: video, podcast, blogs. How did that happen? Did that happen to you too?
It’s the productivity trap. There’s a confluence of two things. There’s the productivity trap and this hustle and grind mentality that’s perpetuating around. Both of them are traps. The first is productivity. Productivity is where we can do more things in a compressed time. The problem with that is human nature. When we take the load of work we have for the day, say it’s ten hours of work that’s typical for an entrepreneur, we pack it down and we get it down to nine hours. We didn’t say, “I freed up an hour for myself. What else can I do?” We pack more work on it. We try to compress it down through more productivity. It becomes impacted by work. If anything goes awry, we have one stumbling tripping point, the whole day, week or month is spinning out of control. The other mentality is this hustle and grind. The hustle and grind is you’ve got to push through. You’ve got to work like an animal to be successful. I’m retaliating against that. That’s the worst thing we can be telling people.
The definition of an entrepreneur is to choreograph and organize the resources around us. How do we get other people and systems and clients themselves and our vendors working collaboratively through our system to achieve the results we want, the goal we have? The irony is the goal for the entrepreneur is to extract themselves as much as possible. If we go into it saying, “We need to be more productive. We need to do more things,” we become in such a groove of doing that. Grooves become ruts. We stay stuck there and never go out of it. The decree we have to make is not to work in a business. It’s to design the outcomes we have and to realize also that entrepreneurs were a small community. About 7% of the world population will ever have their own business or work for themselves. By enabling a company that can leverage other resources including people, empowers other people who never want to be an entrepreneur to work in a safe, successful environment. Our job is that clarity in the vision we want to have, design and choreograph all the resource we have to achieve that vision and do it through a company that is of service to others and excludes us doing the work.
Especially doing all the work here, which is what so many of us have fallen into the trap of. We’ve gotten to a place with digital marketing, with podcasting, videocasting and blogging, specifically those three areas where we feel like it has to be all our voice, all ourselves, all authentically you. Yet, there are other ways. I’m about to tell a few of my secrets here but I’m sure you are too. It doesn’t have to work like that.The definition of an entrepreneur is one who choreographs and organizes the resources around us. Click To Tweet
It’s not sustainable. It’s not like I woke up the day I start my business and said, “I’m not going to work here.” I bought into I need to do everything. I fell into what’s called a false positive loop, which is the harder I worked, I was getting more results. Therefore, I concluded that the harder I work, the more my business will grow. As I worked harder, the business started to grow. At diminishing returns, I’d work harder and harder, exhaustedly sacrificing time with my family, my friends, “Forget life. Wake up as early as possible.” I had a call once with a friend named John Bates. He was grinding and hustling in his business. He goes, “I only got four hours of sleep last night.” I responded braggadociously, “I only got three hours of sleep.” How moronic am I? That comment back to him didn’t wake me up to it. Ultimately though, I’ve awoken to this. I don’t aspire to work hard. I aspire to think hard, to be strategic, to get joy out of the work I’m doing. I don’t want to not do anything. That’s not the goal either. I want to concentrate my efforts on what serves the company is the creation of systems.
You have something in your book you call The Queen Bee Role. I want to emphasize the role because I’m the queen bee here. We all fall into that trap of thinking we are the essential part of the hive, of the organization, of the system and structure but it’s the role. That’s an interesting switch. It does provide that distance between who you are and what you do.
The role is putting a priority on a function and activity that the business must do. How I derive this is I was looking to define how business efficiency works. I found nature often has a solution for us. I found that beehives specifically are efficient organizations. Specifically, you’ll see a bee fly around your window or something. The next day, there’s a whole hive there. Those bees follow a two-rule set. Rule number one, the colony’s survivability and thrive-ability depends upon the production of eggs. Every bee knows that if eggs are not being produced, our entire colony is in jeopardy. We need to be constantly spawning bees. It so happens that the queen bee is the bee that lays eggs but every bee is responsible for the production of eggs. The queen bee herself, even though bees have a single bee responsible for that, is not the most important bee. All the bees serve the most important function and, to your point, role.
If the queen bee is not laying the eggs, she’s removed. Sometimes they eat her. They will spawn a new queen bee. The other bees take actions to keep the egg production going, which could be cooling the hive by flapping their wings. In the cooler months, they’ll rub their wings together causing friction and heating the hives. They follow methods to maintain egg production. This translates to our business. We have to find in our business what’s the singular most important activity that our business’ survivability and thrive-ability depends on? I’ll tell you a simple way to find it. I was studying FedEx and stuff. I didn’t even include this in the book. I found that every company has a big promise to its customer. Most of us have these small businesses and we never define it. We do best for the customer.
FedEx is a great example because it’s a global brand. They promise to deliver packages on time. That’s the big promise. They have print shops and they do packaging services and so forth, but their biggest promise is on-time package delivery. What we do is find the QBR, the Queen Bee Role. We peel back one layer and say, “What’s the number one activity making the promise a reality?” For FedEx, it is logistics, it’s the movement of packages. They have great customer service and they offer other things, but what matter is logistics. If FedEx says, “We’re going to skip on the logistics. Let’s focus on customer services.” They would go out of business within weeks. It will be all over the news. “FedEx has no idea where their packages are.”
They might be in trouble because I’ve never had problems with FedEx before but we’ve had four problems in the past few months. It’s the delivery problems.
Customers take notice of that. That’s an issue. I hope they resolve that issue. They will be in trouble. The interesting thing is if FedEx says, “Let’s forget customer service. Let’s not answer the phones.” If the package gets delivered on time every time, they don’t need the customer service so much. You can compromise other areas but you can never compromise the Queen Bee Role. That’s the lesson for every small business. You have to define what’s your big promise, the biggest singular promise you’re making your customers? If it’s a great quality of experience, amazing design work, whatever it is. What’s the singular activity? I notice many things support it but what’s the most important thing? That’s the QBR. You teach your bees, which could be yourself if you’re a solopreneur or maybe you have vendors and even your clients, that you will always cater to that Queen Bee Role and never compromise it so it’s always humming along because your business depends on it. The second component for bees is once the Queen Bee Role is being served, they go on and do the secondary jobs. They’re collecting nectar, defending the hive. As business owners, once we define the QBR, everyone must protect it and make sure it’s moving along perfectly. When it hums along, they can go off and do their other job functions.
The one thing that I love about your defining them in the beehive colony was that I get so many, especially podcasters here but business owners in general, small business owners who want to have a big impact on the world. When I think about it, the bees are doing their own thing within their own hive. The effect that they’re having on our environment as a whole and the impact that they have outside of that is tremendous because they continue to do the one thing that they’re supposed to do, the two things that you pointed out. That’s what I keep trying to stress to everyone. If you don’t have a sustainable business, you can’t impact anyone.
I’m working on my newest book. I was talking about this concept of having an impact, of being transformational for our community, our society, our globe, our world. Sadly, most not-for-profits that I studied focus on the impact they’ll have and don’t put any business infrastructure behind it. They want to change the world but don’t put it on their own auction mask, the business itself can’t feed itself. I found most not-for-profits are actually for-profit businesses. It has never achieved profit. This is a systemic problem. Businesses of all type want to change the world, be of the greatest service but never get the business fundamentals together like efficiency or profitability or even the sales component. If you can’t nail those down, forget the impact. You can’t have it.
This is an interesting issue because my column for Inc. Magazine is focused on innovators, inventors, entrepreneurs, startups. When I talk to them all the time, they want to all have a big impact. They believe in their invention and innovation. The issue that they all have is that they don’t know what infrastructure looks like because your system’s in place. Because they never worked in that environment, they don’t know what a system looks like. They think that they need to create it themselves. They think it’s like, “I need to invent this system.”
Here’s the reality. Many people think they have to create systems. My argument is if you’re already running the business, you have all the systems you need. They’re in our mind. Our routines are a process. Anything that you do on a repeated basis is a system. Even if you’re just shooting from the hip, the fact you’re doing it routinely is a system. What we need to do is not create systems but extract systems from our minds. The best and easiest way to do this is by recording. With a simple smartphone, you can speak what you’re doing. You can record a video. Many things are done on the computer. You can use screen capture software to record it. What you do is you have the task you’re doing recorded, you give it to the person, the virtual help or whoever you’re going to be now assigned as a system to. You say, “Here’s our best practice. Follow this. If you have any questions or any challenges, I challenge you because I hired you for your brains. Figure out your own solution for this to achieve the outcome we want. This is the key trace.” Have the person that you’ve assigned this work to record another training video. The smartest student in every room is the teacher. If they can record a video explaining the process, they’ve mastered the process.
That’s the first thing I took away from your book is the message I gave. That’s why I bought the book for my COO is that we have that system here. We do training videos all the time and all of these things, but we haven’t empowered those doing it day-to-day to make their own videos. That’s the switch I said we’re making. They are empowered to do that. Not only that but they’re required to do it every so often. They need to update them. That was a simple change. Yet I know this is going to have a greater impact.The smartest student in every room is the teacher. Click To Tweet
It makes those systems become living systems. It’s not the one video you recorded four years ago. They’re updating it. Maybe they assigned someone else so it gets updated again. Should that employee ever leave your office, the knowledge stays. We have tons of videos we have our people make. Even if it’s a task that they are teaching, they’re going to maintain it, they’re not assigning it to someone else. It’s as important.
We had to do this because we grew from 5 to 50 employees in about a year and a half. There was no other way. We had to figure out the systems. Luckily, we all knew what systems look like because we’ve worked for some big corporations and great corporations. I used to work for Herman Miller, the furniture company. I understand what great systems look like because you have to be efficient to be making furniture in the US. Those are great reference points to be able to have. Not everybody does have that. That’s why your book is so brilliant and I love it because it points out that the systems are not so complex and so difficult. They’re straightforward and simple.
The old mentality was these things called SOPs or Standard Operating Procedures. I live by the thought of those. I never created them well. An SOP was overwhelming. I remember this one case. We hired a new employee. Her name was Jackie. I was doing shipping. We ship a lot of books. Being an author, that happens. I made a procedure for packaging them. I took pictures of exactly how they shoot packages. We stuck a thank you letter in there. The UPS website went click by click on what she needs to do. I wrote it all up. It took me about three to four weeks of preparing those documents. It’s excruciating. When it’s done, I remember dropping that twelve-page piece. It fell on her desk. To my head I’m like, “I never have to do this again.” “Jackie, follow this procedure.” I was so excited. She left, came back to my office five minutes later and she said, “Mike, I started to go to the UPS website to follow your steps. UPS updated their entire website. None of this is working.” I’m like, “Are you kidding me?”
About 80% of that procedure was irrelevant overnight and I had no control over it. That’s the problem with SOPs. We rely more and more on technology. It changes so fast that something you make now may be irrelevant tomorrow, plus our attention span. Working on that for weeks was grueling. Reading that document, you wanted to put some bullet in your brain. What we did starting at that point forward was I made a video. Every time there was an update to the UPS website and so forth, Jackie was making the new fresh videos. It was always current. She was doing the work. She’s doing the shipment. We’re getting work done while recording the video. It added 10% or 20% more time. Once it was done, the video was captured, we’re off to the next thing.
The other thing you talked about in your book, which is important for product launchers, for people who are launching their businesses or their service packages and other things like that, is sometimes you have to crunch down. You talk about a woman who started Anytime Fitness. She would go in for a month and set up a new location. She would crunch and work her butt off for a month. She’d work four or five hours a week after that. Thinking about that, there is a place for that hustle when you’re setting up these systems and you’re moving through that. You know there’s a benefit on the other side.
Getting your hands dirty hands-on is probably the greatest trainer that’s out there. You discover and learn things. There’s a TV show, the Undercover Boss. It’s a great example. When you work on the design work of your business, designing outcomes, that isn’t 100% of your time. You still want to get your hands dirty. There are still other elements of work that will give you good reflection and perspective. You’re talking about Liza. She would go into her gyms and observe how they’re currently operating. She was particularly attuned to how customers responded to how they work. She worked in communities in the Deep South that, in particular, had more weight problems and health problems than their contemporaries in metropolitan cities.
She saw that these gyms were set the same as they were in the metropolitan cities. She said, “That doesn’t make these people feel comfortable.” She adjusted the layout. She figured things out. She worked with the team and got everyone excited. After a month she said, “Team, you take over and you run this whole show.” She’s been masterful at running by metrics. She has this complex spreadsheet that she follows once a week for three to four hours. She goes through the entire spreadsheet. She goes, “It almost talks to me. It’s like it’s speaking to me.” To other people, it’s just numbers but it speaks to all the of those who own the business. “I can see and feel the change. I know exactly where the red flags are raised when the numbers shift.” That’s how she runs her business. She has 20 or 30 gyms now.
They have a high retention rate. They cover a 70% retention rate month after month on a two-year membership. It’s unbelievable. That’s crazy numbers in that. It shows how much that system set up, that observation and understanding what you need to do is critically important. She’s identified that and said, “That’s where I’m going to put my workflow. That’s where I’m going to spend my hours and time because it’s going to pay off later.” I love that mentality because that is sometimes what’s required. Often, especially those of us who are building a business that has a bigger business plan, we have to crunch down. Maybe it’s not a month. It might be a year. As long as we understand that that’s what we’re doing and we’re building that in place, at least we’re aware of that instead of getting into that trap of, “Let’s just add on, increase the efficiency. Let’s add on an hour of something else.”
I do believe in hard work, but for a deliberate specific outcome. I don’t think hard work is the solution to a problem and maintaining hard work is the fix. Hard work is when we see, “Here’s an outcome we can achieve. We just have to push hard to make that a reality. Once this is achieved, it frees me up.” That’s the intention or the goal of entrepreneurship.
I want to touch on all these digital marketing things because you are everywhere. You are writing books. You are out there. You’ve got articles. You’ve got all kinds of things going on. You’ve got a podcast. You did something interesting, which we sometimes say is a no-no, which is you recorded your own audiobook. I’m not an audiobook fan. I don’t like audiobooks. I’m a writer, so I’m a reader. Your book was recommended to me. The person recommended the audiobook because you’re funny. He said, “You won’t get the jokes if you read it.” Mostly, the people who record their own books, they’re a disaster. They’re not good. You’re a podcaster. It dawned on me that if a podcaster didn’t record his own book and it was somebody else’s voice, there’s a disconnection. That’s what meant something. You’ve got to learn a little bit about how to record properly so you do it right.
You’ve got to know what you’re doing. Reading my own book has been extraordinary in building bonds and connections to readers. I do public speaking. I got a chance to meet a lot of these people who’ve read my books. They’re like, “I love it. I feel bonded and connected with you,” which simply means, “I trust you. I’ll listen more intently to what you say because I feel a connection.” I’ve found there are two ways to do it. One is by being your own voice everywhere. Secondly is through pictures and videos. I know we’re recording a video maybe on a broadcast over a podcast. Video and pictures are important. Mistakenly, many people will put their single favorite picture from twenty years ago up on their website and say, “That’s who I am.” It doesn’t build bonds because when they meet you in person, they’re like, “You don’t look at all like that picture. Who are you?” It’s one picture you see over and over. We want a massive variety of pictures out there, a large variety of videos out there and do our own readings. By doing that, it’s elevated the degree of comfort my readers have with what I’m doing. Therefore, I can be more persuasive in sharing stuff like Profit First and Clockwork and them adopting it because there’s a higher degree of trust.
Have you found that for podcasting? What made you decide to start a podcast?Encouraging people to do a review is a form of engagement. Click To Tweet
I enjoy listening to podcasts. I’m like, “I should do this.” I love podcasting. We have a studio here in my office, a full-blown studio. It’s like a little radio show. There’s something special about that. When we’re all here, there’s this magic that happens. The podcast, it’s real. We do live-to-tape. We do very little edits. It’s bumpy and clunky. We break the rules of podcasting like, “Don’t do the banter. Just go to the content.” We horse around. We interview guests. We’re true to who we are and who I am. There’s joking and stuff. It’s goofy but it gives me joy. As a result, it’s built this fandom. Some people are repulsed by our show and I get it. It’s not for them. Other people are like, “I’ve never heard a business show like this.” It’s fun and crazy. I laugh at myself. I laugh at you guys. Kelsey was always knocking me down. It’s not like I’m some exalted smart guy.
I have a cohost too, who happens to be my husband. We don’t always do that on these interviews, that’s why you’re not getting both of us. We have the banter going. People are fascinated by the banter-side of it. You have hit on something that does work well. It’s a little harder to be that all the time on your own. We get in our terminology. We get in our head. You’re working on your next book. Kelsey’s like, “I’m a little farther behind here. Catch us up,” and that little reminder of, “I’m supposed to be paying attention to where my audience is and not where I am.” That helps.
For the people reading, they have a fly on the wall, “I listen to you and your husband. It’s fun to be sitting in there, listening in.” It plays into what we all want, to be able to be accepted into that room where we wouldn’t be accepted or didn’t have the time to make it but we can still be part of it. That’s the power of podcasting.
Most people think that it’s not a value like, “Still this is stuff that you do. There’s this marketing level of things that you’re doing.” You don’t find it as doing. You must find value in it or you wouldn’t keep it up because of your motto.
I do consider doing. Designing is clarity on vision and choreographing resources. Doing is an activity that derives benefits to the customer or is an infrastructural thing. A podcast is definitely doing. I still do podcasts. I still speak. I still write my own books. I do some interviews. These are the four things I do. I’ve compressed it down, that it’s taking up less and less time. At a certain point, I may say, “I’ve got to stop the podcast or I’ve got to not write books.” I’ve got to figure out which one I don’t want to do. I know I’ll never stop writing books for the foreseeable future. It’s interesting with the podcast. Another opportunity came up and to do a podcast. I’m like, “I don’t know if I should or could take on another one without compromising design work by doing more.” We have a new host for the show. Danielle Mulvey is her name. It’s called Profit First Nation. I had this single Private First Podcast, which we changed to Entrepreneurship Elevated. Many people are fans of Profit First. They want to speak only to that, so we launched the Profit First Nation. We’re launching it without me. That’s the way to scale. At a certain point, I have to get my ego out of the way and release things. They can continue on without me.
We do find here spinoff podcasts, the podcasts that are associated around the topic, whether their fandom podcasts. That happens too. They do well. They still continue to provide service to that community that wants so much more information. They still have limited access to you because you’re still doing your show occasionally. It does help that whole community thrive and serve itself in a way.
As Profit First is growing in popularity, I come to the realization that it isn’t about me. I happen to be the guy who was lucky enough to write that book. Those concepts were not original concepts. I took all these different concepts and accumulated them for specific applications to business. People are embracing the concept of Profit First. That’s what excites me. To many people that are using Profit First, I’m not relevant at all. It’s the content that’s relevant. It’s the people that are doing it. It’s the support structure that gets in place. I don’t think they need to hear from the guy who wrote the book. They need to hear about people talking about this so they can further move forward their Profit First journey.
Let’s touch a little bit on Profit First because you mentioned it here. This is what I find unique about your books is that there are some principles of things you may have heard before, whether you heard them and scaling up or you’ve heard them in other places. You’ve heard companies that run like this, like FedEx or other large corporations. You pulled the ideas together with something that anchors it that’s unusual. Profit First, it’s your play idea, your multi-play idea. With Clockwork, it’s the essence of that Queen Bee Role. You have an element of it. What’s most unique about your podcast is that, as I listen, I start to get hints of where these ideas are forming in your mind. You’re almost using your podcast, floating the ideas out there like a test market.
That’s exactly what we’re doing. My newest book, I started talking about elements of it. I’m seeing how people are responding and how engaged they are. It’s simple. The data is there. We watch downloads. If downloads are normal, that’s normal. If downloads spike, that means people are sharing it or listening multiple times or downloading. We play with ideas there. I have a document here about 25 to 30 book concepts that I’m working on at any given time. I’m trying to see what’s the next one. People who have decided to read my books, where’s the next part of their journey? I want to serve them in their path.
All of your books tie together this idea that a business needs to be profitable. It’s like, “If it’s not profitable, why are you doing this?” Not profit for profit’s sake, which means that it has to be sustainable.
I don’t know if this is a great analogy, but I think profit is like the health of a business. A lot of people say they want to get healthy and you see him smoking a cigarette and eating horrible foods or living in a sedentary lifestyle saying, “One day I’ll get healthy.” We know that the longer you maintain that lifestyle, the likelihood of you making the turn is worse. It lowers and lowers. It’s probably the same way. A lot of people delay profit consideration like, “I need to be profitable but not now. I need to sell or my business needs to grow. One day I’ll be profitable.” Since we keep on delaying the profit consideration, you become less and less capable of figuring out how to drive profitability. That’s why Profit First tell the way it is. The profit must come first. It is the health quotient for business.
This is the number one thing I write about in my column. I was so thrilled to find you talking about this. I come from a degree in actual product design. You would think that I’m a product first girl. I am not. I am a market first girl. I am a, “Let’s get proof that the market wants what you have to buy. If people like it, that doesn’t matter. If people are willing to plunk down a dollar for it, you’re on onto something.” That is something that you highlighted in Clockwork in a great way. You also talked about that a little bit in Profit First because you had to make sure you have viable businesses and services before you dump money into development.Profit must come first. It is the health quotient for business. Click To Tweet
I have a simple saying. I say that people speak the truth through their wallets and not through their words. It was a classic thing. You go to your friends and you say, “I have this great idea, what do you think?” They’re like “That’s amazing. Good luck. You’re going to crush it.” They’re saying that because they’re our friends. They want to support us. When it comes to selling it and you go to your same friends, they’re like, “How much? Let me think about it. I’m so sorry. I had to go see my kids and pick them up at the soccer game.” There’s an excuse to avoid you all of a sudden. It causes damage because you made this big investment. I believe in, “Can you pre-sell something?” If you can sell a concept and get people buying into it, you’ve got something that’s juicy. That means the storyline is big enough. If you can get customers to plop down money and say, “I have this product we’re offering. Yet, it’s coming but this will do for you. Are you willing to put down some money right now?” The people that put down money are affirming they see value in what you’re developing.
When we started our podcast business a few years ago, that’s exactly what we did. We sold packages. We would pre-sell episode packages. Rather than pay a monthly fee and the renewal comes up and they panic, we sold 25, 15-episode packages. We were essentially preselling them. We thought, “We’ll do this for a little to help us get our cashflow moving. It will help us get the basis of going on the business. We’ll be sure we have these clients at least for a period of time while we figure some of our systems out.” It worked so well that we don’t do anything else. We only take prepaid packages now. Our clients love it because it gives them accountability to force them to make sure that they finish their packages and that they’re broadcasting on time. Otherwise, they’re wasting the money they already spent. It worked out great. It’s something we decided never to rethink because it was working so well there. Why remove something that’s already working? Let’s talk a little bit about podcasting so that our Feed Your Brand audience can get some tips from you. How has your position as a podcast host helped the business?
It elongates the storyline. I’m an author. That’s my business. It’s not a small business. We have fourteen employees here. I’m an author and what that means is my mission is to make entrepreneurship simple. That’s what I do through my books. The experience people have with me is either they read a book or maybe they see me on stage. Those are two short experiences. A book doesn’t build a bond and seeing someone on a stage for 45 minutes hopefully he’s inspirational. It calls to action. Think about a big-time celebrity like Oprah. If you see her speaking on stage, it’s amazing. It’s the fact that she was on television day in day out and you saw her in your living room for so long that built this bond and trust. The podcast is the poor man Oprah. It’s a way to get in someone’s ear week after week. It builds such a bond of trust. It allows storylines to play out.
We recorded our 260th episode. That’s almost 260 hours of content because each show goes for about fifteen minutes. It’s not 260, it’s 200. That’s a tremendous amount of time in front of people. The beautiful thing about podcasts too is the binging effect, which is important. I do television shows. I watched Breaking Bad. I watched the first episode like, “This is amazing.” At Saturday night, I’ve watched fifteen episodes in a row. That’s the new consumer thing. If we link into something and say, “I love this,” we want to get more of it. Podcasting has served me as a host because people can binge and build that rapport with me, sometimes in a day by cranking through all these episodes.
We find that valuable too. That’s great. We like to do these five quick lessons that you may have learned in podcasting. Are there any experiences you have in the best ways to book great guests?
I reach out to them. I identify them in advance and reach out to them. Even someone with a big name, I’ll do a fifteen-minute pre-interview. Here’s why I don’t book. I’m not saying this is not good, but I get solicits daily, “I’ve got this great guest for you.” There are these booking agencies that never call me. It’s email after email. I was like, “Delete.” What we do is we say, “Who would be an interesting guest for our community?” We identify the category then find the people that are either experts or experienced in that story and say, “We want you on the podcast. Can we talk for ten minutes because maybe it’s not a fit for you or for us?” You can tell within ten minutes if someone’s going to be a good guest or not.
It’s easier for me to be able to go and listen to your podcast and go, “This is the right fit.”
That’s another way to do it. Listen to the podcast.
How about some best ways to increase listeners?
One thing we did was we gave away a book. We said, “If you’re listening to the show, please post a review and share it. We’d love to send you a book. Send a screenshot of the review.” When we did that, people are getting the book, but they become more ingratiated to the podcast. Plus, they did a review. They tell their friends and that spreads. The great thing is I do a lot of public speaking. I’m like, “Listen to my podcast. Let’s continue the conversation there.” We’ll get chunks of people every time I do public speaking coming onto the show.
I find too often that people forget to mention that they have a podcast. I was like, “What are you doing? Say it on stage. People want to know.” How do you produce in a professional way?
We have an outside firm. It’s called Soul Search Records, a music studio. I approached a guy a couple of years ago and said, “Can you produce podcasts?” He’s like, “Can? I haven’t.” I said, “We like to be your first and try it out.” He’s done an extraordinary job. Now he has a podcast community. We don’t build in-house, but we do have all the equipment here. We have a studio and it’s soundproofed. We have four mics. We have a producer that comes in for every single episode. Even though we record live-to-tape, you still need to produce it.Start slow and let it grow. Click To Tweet
What are some ways that you encourage engagement?
I shared with, “Share and review.” We encourage people to do a review and send it to us. That’s a form of engagement. We have them email us. Sometimes we give away books and stuff and say, “You email Kelsey. You listen to this episode and we’ll send you a book.” We encourage people sending questions. We get questions in email constantly. On every show, we’re answering live. We talk about their business briefly and promote their business. It’s a great way to get engagement. We’ve even tried to do live call-ins. That was hard because it’s not live broadcast. That one we skipped.
We’ve had issues with those too. It’s too hard. Do you have any tips on maybe the best way to monetize your show?
We search for sponsors in promoting our own thing. We have a sponsor that has been with us since day one. They love us. They’re probably paying $200 or so per episode. We bring on supplementary sponsors that send another $150 to $200 an episode. We don’t make huge money on sponsorship, but it covers all the costs for running a show. We record three to four in one day. Our cost to produce is probably $400. We make about $800-plus to do it with two sponsors. The other thing is promote your own stuff. I invite people to buy my books in every episode. Sometimes I think, “If I say it in every episode, doesn’t that drone in people’s ears?” That’s the idea. If you truly believe in your product you’re offering, you should be droning on about it. That’s a great way to monetize is by offering what you have for people to go beyond the podcast.
How long have you been podcasting? You said 260 episodes.
It’s for four years now.
We’ve been doing about the same length, a little bit over four. I have four shows, about 1,000 podcasts recorded. It’s a big hit. It feels like second nature now.
I have a second show too. Cumulatively, I probably have up to about 500 shows. It is second nature. We record one. It was good but it wasn’t great. We record another one and that one hit it out of the park.
We talked about a few topics. I encourage people to take one specific actionable item. A lot of people take notes and go like, “This is great. I got an idea to make my business more efficient. I can take my profit first, a percentage of money before I do anything else.” We have all these ideas and then we get overwhelmed, then we do nothing. Of all the things you heard, pick the one thing that’s easiest to do, that you think will have some impact but it’s easy. Start with that one and keep a note of the others, then start building your way up. I am a big fan of starting slow and letting it grow.
Mike, I know you’re a big fan in all your books in putting in early on and forcing them to be accountable and send you an email. You tell them, “Email me that you’re going to do this. You may not even read it but email me that you’re going to do this.”
Selfishly, every time I read one, they touch my soul every single time. It gets me so excited to be an author. Every time I read one, I want to write more.
You created this accountability. You’ve also created a feedback loop for yourself, which is tremendous.
It serves both.
Mike, I love what you’re putting out in the world. I appreciate your books. I hope you don’t stop being an author. Don’t take that off, your Queen Bee Role. I’m a fan. I know there are lots of us out there who are still readers out there who want to get your book. We also have a lot of podcast listeners out there. I highly recommend Profit First. Binge listen, you’ve got to listen. You have said you have multiple podcasts. What are all the titles?
Entrepreneurship Elevated is my podcast for small business owners. Our mission on that show is to eradicate entrepreneurial poverty, to make entrepreneurship, the achievements and goals you have make them a reality. Don’t be in this impoverished experience where you’re struggling for money, time and life. The other show is called GMAP. It stands for Grow My Accounting Practice Show. It’s a show I do specifically for accountants and bookkeepers on how they can help eradicate entrepreneurial poverty by growing their business.
You’ve got your Profit First Nation coming up.
It’s Profit First Nation with Danielle Mulvey will be coming out soon.
We’ll be sure to push it out on our social media so everybody knows it’s live. Mike Michalowicz, thank you so much for joining me. I appreciate it. Feed Your Brand Center of Influence, readers, if you enjoyed the show, please reach out to us. You know you can find us on social media, @FeedYourBrand. You can also find us on our website, FeedYourBrand.co. Thanks so much for reading.
- Profit First
- The Pumpkin Plan
- Profit First Professionals
- Tracy Hazzard’s Inc column
- Entrepreneurship Elevated
- Soul Search Records
- @FeedYourBrand on Facebook
About Mike Michalowicz
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