The one with Craig Ballantyne (Early to Rise)
- Dean and Joe interrogate the editor of Early to Rise
- Craig shares his best strategies for engaging by email
- How to get in the groove of writing great content every day
- PLUS: How to immediately re-engage your email readers
Dean: Hey, everybody! It’s Dean Jackson.
Joe: And Joe Polish, sitting in a nice, comfy hotel room in Atlanta, with a very special guest, a very bright, sharp marketer. You may have heard of him; you may have not. But you’re going to hear about him right now. His name is Mr. Craig Ballantyne. Craig, how are you?
Craig: Very good, Joe. Thank you very much.
Joe: Awesome. If we had a camera in here, right now, and you could see the position of all of us sitting down, you would be very excited.
Dean: Nothing unusual: 3 guys sitting in a hotel room.
Joe: No, just 3 dudes sitting around, kind of cuddling together, doing an interview. Well, first off, we like bringing really innovative, talented people to the I Love Marketing world, and sharing with you their capabilities and strategies and methodologies. Today, we’re going to talk with Craig. Craig Ballantyne is the creator of a fitness exercise program called Turbulence Training.
Dean: They may remember that, because we talked about Turbulence Training on the naming episode, from the car, the car-cast.
Joe: Exactly. Exactly. When we were in Toronto, because Dean lives in Toronto about half the year, and Craig actually lives there. And most recently, one of his newest things is he’s the editor of EarlyToRise.com. And the cool thing about Craig is the dude is in incredibly good shape. There’s a lot of people that we probably have interviewed – not necessarily for I Love Marketing, but just over the years, that we’ve met – that sell eBooks and supplements and stuff, but these are like a bunch of out-of-shape slob.
Dean: If I had abs like that, I’d be sitting there with my top off, too. I can’t blame him being naked in here, like this. He likes to take his shirt off.
Joe: So, we’re done talking, Craig.
Craig: I only have like 2 or 3 shirts.
Joe: Yeah, yeah, yeah. So, who are you? What do you do?
Craig: I’m just this guy from Canada, and I realized, back in 1998, I wanted to sell stuff on the Internet. I originally wanted to work with pro athletes, and then I just got into writing and doing stuff with Men’s Health magazine, and I really, really enjoyed that. I really enjoyed being able to reach a lot more people. And I also have more of a holistic view of helping people, in more than just the fitness stuff. So, that’s what I started with. And over time, I really wanted to get into showing other people how to build their businesses and stuff.
Eventually, Early To Rise came along, but I’ve had the dream of running Early To Rise for many, many years. I actually told that to my first business coach in 2006. I said, “I want to have a business like Early To Rise.” Literally, I said that. And then 2010, I told my current business partner with Early Rise, that’s what I wanted to do. And then, all of a sudden, this opportunity came up not just to have a business like Early To Rise, but to actually run the business Early To Rise. So, it was very, very interesting. Almost makes you believe in some of that Law of Attraction stuff.
Joe: Almost. Almost.
Craig: I was sitting in my easy chair, just thinking it should just show up.
Joe: To the Santa Claus in the sky. Come and give me the position of Early To Rise. Now, what does Early To Rise really do? Actually, a lot of people listening to this may have heard about I Love Marketing through Early To Rise, because you’ve been nice enough to invite me to be a contributor. There’s some great writers, and there’s some great wisdom that’s shared. And it’s done on pretty much what, a daily basis, right?
Craig: It is a daily basis. So, sometimes we have to get guys like Joe Polish to give us content, because it’s tough to get stuff out on a daily basis.
Joe: And when you’re in a pinch, you just need some filler. It’s like remnant space.
Dean: So, we’ve got nothing.
Craig: So, we’re trying to deliver great content on a daily basis, and it’s about time management, productivity, building the life of your dreams, whether it’s through simplifying your life or whether it’s through building the business that you want, that will support the way you want to live and create the lifestyle that you want. So, we do do a lot of emphasis on information marketing, but we also try and serve people who have brick-and-mortar businesses, and the time management strategies certainly apply to those people, and the general marketing stuff. Like I Love Marketing applies to every business owner.
Joe: Right. Right. And we encourage all of our listeners to actually go to Early To Rise and subscribe to it, because you’ll learn a ton of stuff. Like I Love Marketing, there’s a lot of great wisdom that’s shared, that will help you build your entrepreneurial ventures. So, Craig, why do you love marketing? This is called I Love Marketing, but you’re clearly a person that has a heavy emphasis and focus and understand the importance of it, and you’re good at it. So, why do you like it or love it?
Craig: I guess it all goes back to what I was trying to do when I started the fitness business, which is I really wanted to help people change. So, I think the best way to help people change is to convince them that they can do it. That’s all marketing. Marketing is not just a business thing. We see it all around us, in the political movements and all the stuff that’s going on in the world today, whether they know it or not and whether they like it or not, they probably don’t like to even think that what they’re doing is marketing. Anytime you’re trying to persuade somebody to be on your side or to join your cause, or even just to cheer for the same football team that you cheer for; it’s marketing.
So, really, it comes down to persuading people. And what we do, in all my businesses, is we try and persuade people that they can do better. They can achieve more, they can have what they want, so that they can have a more positive life. So, that’s what I get excited about, is being able to use all of these techniques and strategies to help them change and to help them make the improvements that they kind of believe they can, but they’re very skeptical that they can do it. So, we just come along, and we encourage them and encourage them, and we’re just relentless with that. That’s what we do. One person once called me an aggressive marketer in the fitness industry, and I would say that’s accurate.
Joe: A compliment.
Craig: Yeah, right. I think he meant it as an off-hand compliment, and some people thought it was an insult. But really, what it comes down to, is I’m not going to give up on somebody. So, if they’ve gone to the effort of joining an email list or they’re watched one of my videos, they’ve certainly shown a tiny bit of interest. And, again, I think it comes down to convincing somebody that they can do it. There’s maybe not enough role models. There’s certainly quite a few good role models in the fitness industry. Biggest Loser has people out there, showing them that, “Look, this person can do it.” There’s not too many excuses that other people can’t do it. At the end of the day, the bottom line, that’s why I really like the marketing aspect of it.
Dean: It’s kind of interesting. It sounds like your approach is that you care about it more than they do, or believe in them more than they do.
Craig: I do. I definitely believe in them as much as they do, if not more.
Dean: A lot of times, I’ve been with people who’ve said they don’t take that really sort of aggressive approach because they say, “Well, you can’t want it more than they do.” It struck me that it’s almost like it’s your job to want it more than they do, or believe in them more than they do.
Craig: I think what it comes down to is once you’ve been in business or once you’ve been doing transformations with people, you’ve seen people from everything, every single aspect and circumstance, and you’ve seen them come from the absolute worst position to succeed. So, if those people can do it, then that’s the message you just want to show other people. Dan Kennedy talks about when you’re giving your social proof, you want to cover every single gender, occupation, whatever is within your demographic, and you want to have something, so a person goes to a page and see someone exactly like them, who’s done it before. That’s a really big thing.
Dean: I’ve noticed that, too. You must notice that in like the health things, where they have transformation things, because I always observe the way I respond to things. And I’m always looking for the guy that kind of looks like me in that, to see what that transformation’s like. It’s amazing to me, to see the guys who had a transformation, and they lost like 20 pounds. They went from having a little bit of belly fat to having ripped abs. But that’s not where I was. I’m down 42 pounds now, but I was looking for the guys who were bigger than that, that had a longer way to go.
Craig: Some people are looking for the person with 3 kids, or someone’s looking for the person who’s just been divorced.
Dean: Oh, I can’t do that. I’ve got 4 kids; they only had 3. Of course, they’re able to do it.
Joe: Let me ask you about fitness. Have you always been in great physical shape?
Craig: Yeah, as opposed to the average person. I’ve gone through ups and downs. The first 4 months of university – that’s what we call college in Canada. When I was there, I didn’t do a lot.
Joe: Did you get a degree?
Craig: I have a master’s degree in exercise physiology. What do you mean by that?
Joe: I was just trying to see if you were really smart.
Dean: We both feel inadequate, because we’re both college drop-outs.
Joe: No, because I failed “Owning and Operating a Small Business” in a community college. But, again, I’m not out there teaching things that require a college degree. As a matter of fact, if I had a college degree in marketing, I’d be inept, probably.
Dean: Yeah. We’re never going to amount to anything.
Joe: My question was about being in good physical shape. The reason I bring that up is that you have maintained I don’t know if you want to call it a discipline or ritual of exercising, and I think that people who are great marketers. I’m going to get into asking you about writing, because you’re a great writer and you like to inspire people through writing. That’s one of the main vehicles – the written word – that you use. And I think there is a ritual, a discipline, per se, a practice of being a great marketer, that I think is very applicable to maybe the same sort of types of behavioral things that need to exist in a consistency basis, for exercise.
Craig: Oh, absolutely. They’re good for transformations.
Joe: Yeah. What are the things that allow people to be effective? You’re an expert at teaching people how to be more effective with their physical bodies. And, at the same time, we’re here at I Love Marketing, wanting to help people be more effective with their marketing. So, I’d love to get your perspective on that.
Craig: Sure. Just go back to your question before, was there ever a time where I wasn’t in shape? So, it was those first 4 months in school, where I stopped exercising as much, I didn’t want to go to the gym at university. So, when I got home at Christmastime, I got frustrated with myself.
Dean: The freshman 15.
Craig: Yeah. I didn’t go all the way to that, but I definitely was in really great shape at the end of high school, and then the first year of school I just got out of habits. So, habits are certainly one of the first places to start. But I think what it really, really, really comes down to on both the transformation side and the business-building side, and I actually was just writing about this in an essay this morning for Early To Rise, is planning and preparation. Because if you are trying to lose weight and you don’t plan your meals, so let’s say you don’t take something for lunch, and the next thing you know you’re at a pizza place, or whatever. So, that’s like the major obstacle. Same with writing. Focus on writing or business building. With writing, setting aside the best time of day for you.
So, I call it your magic time, because there’s a time of day where, for everybody, they’re most creative. There’s going to be some arguments about whether someone’s more of a night person or an early morning person, but there’s going to be that time of day where you can get what I say is 2 hours of work done in 30 minutes. For me, that is at the ungodly hour of 5:00 in the morning. And I’ve built my way up to that. But if I tried to do the writing at 2:00 in the afternoon, it would literally take me 2 or 3 hours to get the same amount and quality of work done that I do first thing in the morning.
Joe: And you do it in 30 minutes, or you spend 2 hours?
Craig: I’ll do about 60 to 90 minutes.
Joe: So, basically, what’s happened is like reverse dog-ears. He’s writing for 90 minutes, but he’s cranking out maybe 4 hours of writing.
Craig: Right. Somehow, that works. And everybody has what I call “magic time” somewhere in their day. For example, our friend Bedros, he can’t do work in the morning. But he was just telling me about his daily schedule. In the morning, he goes and does his workout, and then he goes and socialized with his staff and catches up with people. And then at 1:00, that’s when he puts the hammer down. That is not the way I work, or too many people that work that way. And then I know other guys, my business partner in a fat loss product, Joel Marion, who’ll stay up all night and work. He’s not an early morning guy. He kind of gets going in the afternoon, but it’s at night where he does his stuff.
Joe: A lot of those fitness dudes, some that you’re mentioning, listen to I Love Marketing. And I think kind of compared to you; they’re all kind of weak and flaccid and just not in very good shape. Is that what you’re saying?
Craig: I wouldn’t call Bedros weak and flaccid.
Joe: Just for the sake of this podcast, can we do it?
Craig: Oh yeah, Bedros is so out of shape.
Dean: Do you think you could take him, in a fight?
Craig: Maybe with some mental trickery, I suppose.
Joe: Bedros is a big boy.
Dean: He is a big guy, yeah.
Craig: Totally. Did he ever tell you about the time someone asked him if he was a ditch digger?
Craig: He was going on a cruise, so he’s on the cruise, and he’s a big guy. Some guy just walked up and assumed that if you’re on this cruise, you clearly paid for it by digging ditches.
Joe: Interesting. That’s funny. A ditch digger.
Dean: I’ll ask him that when we go downstairs.
Joe: You should. I’m sorry for the interruptions, but were interviewing, on the last episode, Jon Benson. We actually talked to Jon Benson, and he was talking about pattern interrupt, so I’m going to try to throw in a couple that have no relevance whatsoever to the content.
Dean: Mission accomplished.
Joe: Yeah. Okay. Let me ask you about so you call it your magic time of the day?
Craig: Yeah, magic mental time, I think I’ve kind of got that phrase worked out to.
Dean: The MMT.
Craig: Yeah. And I discovered mine when I was training people at 6:00, 7:00, 8:00 in the morning. I’d have 5 minutes between clients, and I would try and steal that time away so I could go write, because that’s when the ideas were flying to me. And I noticed that when I was taking the bus or the subway down to the gym in the morning, that I wouldn’t want to get off the bus or the subway because I was in the middle of an article, the middle of something that was great.
Joe: Would you just keep going?
Craig: Sometimes, I’ve actually missed my stop because I was so engrossed in what I was doing. But then, I’d force myself to go, obviously, help my clients. I had to help at that time. But then, I realized, “Okay, I have to do something about this,” and some of those clients happened to move and I didn’t fill up that space. When I was training people full-time, in order to make the transition to doing the full-time information, I started with Thursday afternoons off and then Tuesday afternoons off, and then got rid of Tuesday mornings and Thursday mornings, because that was the time. So, that was how I eventually cut back. I was trying to open up that mental magic time, so I was able to get so much done.
Joe: I want to highlight this, too. Because what you just said is really important. We mentioned, on a recent episode of I Love Marketing, that sometimes in the beginning of learning, marketing, developing, having it created, if you’re the writer, it doesn’t matter what your method of communication is, if it’s writing, if it’s video, if it’s online, if it’s offline, if it’s audio, whatever, that sometimes you have to take 2 steps back in order to go 2 steps forward. There’s a learning stage of even just understanding what marketing is. Then, there’s the assembling it and putting it together; then there’s the execution, the putting it out there, the testing, the going through things, failures. What you said is when you’re talking about that transition. See, what a lot of people that don’t have the growth or ever get to a state of really making money or wealth is there’s that setup period. Like we were talking the other day, that I don’t think there’s an episode where we have not mentioned Dan Sullivan.
Dean: Yeah, mission accomplished again. Here we go.
Joe: Dan’s going to owe us. Basically, he has that great quote where he says, “Getting results doesn’t take time, it’s the not getting results that takes up all your time.” If you want conditions in your life, if you take a blank sheet of paper, draw a line down the middle, on the right side of the top you put “Conditions,” “I want more money, I want this sort of house, I want this sort of lifestyle, I want this sort of lifestyle, I want this type of relationship, I want to be in this sort of physical shape. On the left-hand side, if you wrote “Setup” at the top of it, there’s all kinds of things you need to set up in order to get the conditions. Every person, even if they don’t use that language, that’s what they have to do. In order to be a great marketer, you need to have certain things: a sales letter, a video sales letter, an email campaign, technology. And what you just talked about is here you were, as a personal trainer, your first business, which you needed to continue to do because it’s the cash flow that funds Craig 2.0, if you want to look at it that way, every human being has something that we do to make money so you can fund this thing.
But you said that you looked at the times you were training, and you were willing to chisel out times in order to make that transition. And the writing, in the beginning, was a setup. We had mentioned on, again, another previous episode, Steven Pressfield, the author of The War Of Art. He says, at the beginning of the book, “For the writer, it’s not the writing that’s hard, it’s the sitting down to write.” So, I want you to talk about that. And the reason I’m making such a big issue about this is I swear it’s that, that space between “I have this dream, this idea,” and setting up and doing the things necessary. And sometimes, that means you’re willing to put things on hold. That’s where you have to change. You have to change what you do throughout the day. You have to adopt another sort of skill set. What you teach people with exercise, nutrition and working out, that’s the same sort of thing you have to teach them. And that’s what I want to get out of your head, as best as you can, explaining how the hell does someone go through that, especially when they’re just challenged with it? Because that’s the big obstacle for so many people.
Craig: Alright, let me try and answer that. Another thing I did when I was in that position where I had to train clients at 6:00 in the morning, was I forced myself to get up at 4:30, again to take advantage of that time. So, 4:30 to 5:00, I would sit there and crank out as much stuff as possible, then get ready for work, catch the subway downtown, and go train. What I found is a very, very simple thing is true: you want to get the most important thing done, as soon as possible, in the morning. The most important thing in your day, off the top of your list, your to-do list, done first thing in the morning. That goes back to this old story from Andrew Carnegie, who hired this guy, Ivy Lee, paid him $25,000 or whatever, apparently the legend goes, and for this one tip of make a to-do list the night before, in priority sequence, and then start that to-do list first thing the next day, and don’t do anything else until you’ve checked off the first thing. Don’t do anything else until you’ve checked off the second thing.
That’s the ideal. That’s obviously very difficult for people to do. So, I guess what I’ve done is kind of combined the woo-woo stuff with that to-do list. It’s one thing to say, “Okay, at 9:00, I’m going to sit down, and I’m going to write this article.” It’s another thing to be actually mentally prepared for it.” Because you can say, “I’m going to write this article tomorrow, at 9:00,” but then when you wake up, and you go and sit down at the computer, you have the blank screen. So, you need to have the mental preparation, the outline for it. The desk has to be clear of all the junk and all the clutter, and all this mental clutter has to be cleared. So, you have to have that stuff prepared. You can do that the night before. And then, another thing is to let your subconscious do the work overnight, if you can train yourself to do that. I’m at the point, now, where I’ll wake up, and I’ll go right to my Blackberry, and I’ll write half an article before I even get out of bed. In that time where it takes you, “I don’t want to get out of bed, but you don’t want to fall back to sleep, I force myself to write, at that point.
Dean: Do you write on your Blackberry?
Joe: That’s a trip.
Dean: It’s very interesting, because I was watching you earlier. You’re fast-thumbs, like that.
Joe: He’s all thumbs, dude.
Dean: Yeah, yeah. I saw an interview with Depak Chopra, that he writes all his books on his Blackberry, because he’s constantly on long flights, but he’s always got his blackberry there, and he types like that. But you said something earlier, that I have found that personally the most useful thing, is to know what you’re going to write before you get to the time that you’ve blocked off for writing. Because just like you said, if you block off the time, but you can’t go into that time and then have to wrap your mind around, “What am I going to write,” because you’ve got all these options. We have a video on ILoveMarketing called “the 50-minute Focus Finder,” and it’s all about that, about setting aside those blocks of time where you’re uninterrupted from the reactive activators, people, telephone and Internet. And I show my Evil Scheme Hatchery, and I’ve got a corkboard where I put the writing projects on an index card and put them up on the board. So, I know, in order, which ones I’m going to write. So, I take one of those tickets and go in, and I know what I’m focused on for that period of time.
Craig: That’s cool. Going back to the writing on the Blackberry thing, I actually don’t use my phone for phone calls or email.
Dean: Just for writing?
Craig: Just for writing. So, when I was in the seminar this weekend, people think I’m texting and being rude, but that’s how I take notes. I don’t actually write it on paper. I just email it.
Joe: You’re holding it in your hands, right now.
Dean: We were looking, thinking, “This guy’s really busy.” A lot of texting.
Joe: He didn’t care about what we’re saying here.
Craig: So, going back to your Depak story, the way that I started doing this is when I would ride home from the gym at night, I’d be in the subway. And the subway in Toronto, at night, is just crammed full of people. So, I’d be in the back, and I’d be like this, with the Blackberry right up to my chest, and I’d be writing programs and articles on my Blackberry, instead of on a notepad, because you didn’t have room to have a notepad. So, that’s how I got into this stuff. And then, going back to being prepared for the writing, you have to have the ideas before. So, I have another blog called InternetIndependence.com, which is all Internet marketing, and I’ve written a couple articles on there called “How My Brain Works.” There’s a lot of commonalities here. People get their ideas in the shower. So, you have to be able to not lose those ideas from when you’re in the shower to when you get out, because those are some of my best ideas for my articles. So, those get written down, like you have your ideas written down.
Joe: You know what Brian Tracy told me? Brian’s a friend of mine, and we were having this conversation. He said, “You know the reason why people actually get ideas in the shower?” I figured he was just going to make a joke or something. I have no idea if this is like valid. This is what he told me. He goes, “When the water is coming down, it’s producing ozone. So, therefore, you have more oxygen going into your brain, so therefore you think clearer.” So, the actual physical reason is when the water is like hitting your heard or whatever, you’re in an environment where there’s just…
Dean: Yeah, but you’ve also eliminated those reactive activators. You’re not getting sucked into the Internet, you’re not taking phone calls, and there’s no people. So, you’re right there. It’s just your thoughts. That’s what happens.
Craig: There is some research, I think, on that, that says you get your ideas when you go to a park. And it’s because you are away from your regular environment. So, that’s why coming to these events, in the airport, I’ll get more ideas sitting in an airport, where I’m not in front of my computer – well, I am in front of my computer, it’s on my lap – but you’re just in a different environment. So, when you’re in the shower, you’re just not distracted by the stuff. I also get a lot of ideas when I’m in the gym. So, a little bit or caffeine and a good workout, you’re going to get a ton of great ideas. So, that’s another place.
Joe: That’s so funny. Let’s just answer it anyway. Hello, welcome to the I Love Marketing podcast. What’s going on?
Dean: We’ll keep talking.
Craig: So, a little loud music and caffeine and workout, and a shower, that’s where I get my ideas. And then, I take those and put them into play.
Joe: Let me build in the phone call, just so everyone knows there’s that. Here’s the deal. We’re in my room, unfortunately. It’s terrible, because I had to hide a lot of weird stuff.
Dean: I see some of it. You didn’t hide it that well.
Craig: Why am I on the bed?
Dean: No, it was just done.
Joe: So, I had to call room service, and this hotel’s actually very conscientious. She just was calling to say, “I just wanted to make sure your room was clean.” Well, it was great that it was clean, but it didn’t help. I just wanted to kind of highlight it. Sorry for the interruption, folks. We aren’t going to edit it. You know why? Because you didn’t pay enough for us to edit this. This is a free…
Dean: Just be happy with the new sound quality.
Joe: Yeah. At least make a donation to Make-A-Wish or something. Be nice, caring. Because if you don’t pay, you don’t pay attention. And my concern is because this is a free podcast, you’re really taking the incredible wisdom that Craig’s sharing, right now, and seeing the value in it.
Craig: And that was your pattern interrupt, right there.
Joe: Exactly. It was planned.
Dean: So, in the mornings, you’ve blocked off that time, and you’ve patterned that now. So, do you just roll over, grab your Blackberry?
Craig: Yep, I do that. I do that until I can force myself to get out of bed. Now, I just roll over to the computer. When I’m here in hotels, obviously, it’s very easy. When I’m at home, I do it until my dog just gets too restless, that he needs to go outside. So, that’s when I’ll stop writing. But I’ve got that set down to about 90 minutes, kind of the Eben Pagan has the 90- minute time block. So, that’s what I do.
Joe: For those of you who don’t know Eben Pagan, we’ve mentioned before you’re really responsible for Eben’s success. You taught him the model.
Dean: In every way.
Joe: He’s well-read and everything, but honestly isn’t that smart. Anyone can read like 4,000 books and then quote them verbatim.
Dean: He’s taken unlimited things that have really set him on the right track, and really just kind of executed.
Joe: You know like his Daddy, I think, by the way.
Joe: Alright, let’s talk about writing, because you are a very persuasive writer. Now, before we get into that, when I first met you, if you want to call it that – because you’re not a very talkative guy, so I couldn’t really read you well, like does this guy just not like me…
Dean: This is the most talkative I’ve ever seen him, right here.
Joe: But here’s the thing. You talk to probably millions of people, I guess, at this point, considering the articles that you’ve read – I mean written – for Men’s Health and Early To Rise and Turbulence Training, and all of that. So, you communicate with tons of people. But are you an introvert or an extravert?
Joe: Okay. Here’s the reason I want to bring this up. There’s a lot of people, “I can’t sell and be successful,” because they’re afraid to go out. It’s very uncomfortable for them. And I think marketing gives introverts the ability to be heard in ways, because there are some very quiet people that have incredible wisdom and knowledge to share with the world. Until they learn marketing, they don’t know how to convey that to the world. And that’s one of the things that I think introverted marketers have discovered. It’s like, “Wow!”
Dean: Dan Kennedy.
Joe: Exactly. You.
Dean: Yeah, exactly.
Joe: So, what’s the difference between selling and marketing, in your opinion. I have my own definition of stuff, but what’s the difference? You’re not like a guy that’s going out and talking to people, and knocking on doors, and getting rejected, and going to networking parties and meeting people. You’re not at events, trying to hand out business cards. You’re just kind of silently and quietly, sometimes, sitting back there, taking it all in. But then you have your magic focus time. What’s it called?
Craig: Magic mental time.
Joe: Let me write that down, so I’m not a dumb-ass and misquote you.
Dean: It might just be easier to call it magic time.
Joe: That will work.
Dean: Joe has some magic time.
Joe: You get me beyond 2 words, and I start getting all squirrelly. So, the difference between selling and marketing, in your opinion?
Craig: Is this a test?
Joe: No, no. How do you look at the difference of it? How would you define marketing?
Craig: I think marketing is the innumerable ways that you get your message out there and are in some act of persuasion. I think the only difference between marketing and selling, to me, is when you actually go and ask somebody to buy something. So, this is part marketing. We’re not asking anybody to buy anything. We’re sharing and giving information.
Joe: And we’re positioning me as being smarter than Dean, hopefully.
Craig: I guess it’s not successful marketing, but it’s marketing nonetheless.
Joe: In this environment, I’m Batman, he’s Robin. That’s sort of how that goes.
Dean: Is that what it is?
Craig: That’s how it works?
Joe: Sort of. Sort of. On Halloween and stuff, we dress up. It’s weird, but it works.
Craig: That’s good. That’s good. So, marketing is just sharing the message, to me, I suppose. All of the many, many things that you can do. And selling is when it actually comes down to making the transaction, getting people to take the action.
Joe: So, one of the biggest obstacles I think exists, and tell me if you agree or disagree with this, that exists for people being great marketers, is underestimating the value and importance of it. Like if you were to go a business owner and say, “Hey, if you could name 5 things that you had a huge advantage on, that would allow you to be more successful,” because I’ve done this a lot, a lot of people never even mention marketing. “Ah, just a better product.” That sort of stuff.
Craig: Sure. They just say, “More customers, more traffic,” whatever.
Joe: What many don’t realize is that the vehicle of getting that is marketing. I think everything, I think every department of a company, if you’re even in a company with big departments, with many staff and stuff.
Craig: To me, almost every communication is marketing. Again, you go back to whether you want somebody to believe in your cause or whether you want somebody to watch a football game with you, you’re marketing to that person. If they want to do something else and you want them to go watch that football game with you, what you’re doing is marketing and persuading them to do that.
Joe: When I was interviewing a guy named Ted Nicholas, years ago, for Genius Network, I asked him about copy, because he’s a copywriter. And you would consider yourself a copywriter.
Joe: When someone goes and reads Early To Rise, they’re going to read some great copy, and they’re going to see not only educational stuff that’s going to teach you stuff, you’re going to see sales pitches that are persuasive copy. He said this great line. He’s like, “Copy is the oxygen that allows your marketing to work.” I think an organism without the ability to breathe doesn’t exist. And I think without copy, the effectiveness…
Dean: And it sort of fits, too, because what Ted Nicholas was talking about, is direct mail. Same thing with email. It’s got that in-and-out kind of thing. You breathe it out, and it brings back customers. It’s that constant back-and-forth.
Joe: Right. Right. So, I want you to maybe go through what are the elements of successful words, because you inspire people through the written word. I asked you, before we started recording, I said, “What, Craig, do you really think you do effectively?” And you said, “I inspire people through the written word.” And you do. I’d like to get your perspective on, for one, I’d like our listeners – some are pros, some are brand new at this – to understand the importance of the written word. And then secondly, how do you assemble the right words together? What if someone’s not a great writer? How do you do this?
Craig: Well, the first thing that I like to do, or recommend that people do, is to kind of put themselves in character. What approach are they going to take to writing? I realized that, over time, the way I write is almost like the way a preacher preaches. So, I consider myself a preacher, and it’s because when I was a young kid, my mom made me go to church. So, I listened to so many sermons. And from my family background, there are some preachers in there. So, I realized that’s the way that I write. It’s a lot of the inspirational stuff, “I believe that you can do it,” and I do. So, obviously, not everyone’s going to be like that. You guys are passing notes back and forth in front of me.
Joe: Well, we’re talking about you. Since you were looking on your Blackberry, we thought it totally right that we sort of try to look disinterested.
Craig: Sure. Okay, good. Anyway, once you’ve got that character and voice, and that’s a real tough thing for a lot of people who aren’t comfortable with writing, they don’t want to put that voice into it, they just come across as a bit of “here’s the facts, and nothing else.” And that’s the way I speak. So, when I do presentations at seminars, because it’s not something I enjoy doing, I enjoy doing it, but I don’t enjoy the physical act of speaking, so I come across as a matter-of-fact person because I don’t want to put that extra effort into doing stuff like what Dan does, where he just basically tells stories. I just want to get this information out. So, a lot of people do that when they’re writing. It takes work. The best way to become a better write is to simply write. I’ve been writing emails since 2003, and I literally have a spreadsheet where I’ve kept the name of every email, how many it was sent to, the open rate, and the sales from it, and it’s like at 3,700 entries now. So, I have this invaluable spreadsheet on my computer, that I can go and look and say, “Hey, this headline worked.”
Joe: So, that’s your swipe file, right?
Dean: I think this would be the perfect sidebar, right now. Out of those 3,700, what would you say, in observing it, what would you say the one or 2 or 3 things that you’ve learned that consistently get the best results?
Craig: Yeah, great question. In a real simple, straightforward, factual way, an example is “3 Tips To X, Y, Z,” or “5 Tips to X, Y, Z.” But even better, to supercharge that one, people want to be told what not to do more than they want to be told what to do. So, for promoting Jeff and Isabelle’s diet solution program, the best headline ever is “The 4 Foods Not To Eat.” And they use that in their ads; we use that in our headlines. I’ll get a 20% open rate on that, compared to a 13% or 15% open rate on anything else. I sent out LOL yesterday, and that’s been really good. So now, I’m finding – and Bedros is big on this too – is what kind of headline would you write to your friend, if you were going to write a subject line in there? So, “LOL,” “Hey,” that type of stuff.
Dean: Oh, Bedros shared, at the I Love Marketing conference, a thing of adding at the bottom, right under your name, “Sent from my iPhone,” was an incredible boost.
Craig: I think Joel Marion might have done that the first time. He’s done that.
Joe: What are your thoughts on tricking people with those sort of little techniques?
Craig: Well, I don’t think you’re tricking somebody if you tie it into… Oh, with the iPhone one? I don’t know. I don’t do it. So, whatever. But with the subject line, like the LOL, I tie it into the next thing, a picture of me, these 3 screenshots of me from a workout I had just done, and I was in a lot of pain from the exercise. So, the 3 screenshots look like I’m doing some crazy dance, because my legs were so sore.
Craig: Yeah. So, LOL. I literally laughed out loud at that picture, and I’m sure you will too. And then, it went on a bit more about the workout, and that sort of stuff. So, that type of stuff is good. I also wrote a series of emails called “Personal Notes,” and they were literal personal notes. They were inspired by Dan Kennedy’s Unfinished Business autobiography, which is a book I highly recommend reading. I was just about to write an email to my Internet list about this. When you read that book, if you are committed to having a personality-based business, which is what I have, so this might not apply to everybody, if you read that book, that book is the writing equivalent of burning the ships. The old stories about Cortez or whatever army invaded a country; they burned the ships, so they had nothing to go back to. So, a lot of people are just too scared to put any personal information in their writing. So, it just becomes that factual stuff, and there’s never the connection. But as soon as you are willing to say, “Here are my flaws, here’s everything I’ve screwed up, then look at the connection that people get. People want to see that train wreck. And who’s the biggest, most successful, richest train wreck in the world?
Joe: Boy, there’s a lot of them. Who is the biggest?
Craig: In my opinion. She’s not a train wreck now, but her childhood was.
Joe: Oh, Oprah.
Craig: Yeah, absolutely. So, why do people connect with Oprah? She obviously has a lot of great people on, but she connects because everybody’s seeing exactly what we talked about at the start of the podcast, where if that person can do it, I can do it too. If Oprah can come out of that hell, I can come out of that hell. So, that’s what I think is really important. So, when you read Dan’s book, and he talks about the alcoholism and being bankrupt and stuff, that really inspired me to go and write these personal notes. So, these personal notes are personal notes. So, whenever I put that in a headline, a subject line, I get a much greater open rate, and I get feedback from people who I thought had stopped reading my emails 5 years ago. So, that type of stuff is very, very valuable to me, and very effective, and it also makes writing very, very easy and powerful.
Dean: Jeff Walker and I were just talking about that concept. He looked through all of the things that got the most interest or the most attention, were all of the personal things that he was sharing, that got the most attention, the most interest.
Joe: It’s funny, too, because I never used to talk about like when I was pretty much a drug addict, like when I was 18 years old, and the fact that when I first told that from stage.
Craig: I can recite the story, and you’ve told it maybe once. Sorry to interrupt, but whenever Dan does a call on Glazer-Kennedy or whenever he tells a story up onstage, he’ll even say, “You’ll forget everything except for this part, about how the toughest thing for me is to drive around town and not get a donut. You’re going to forget everything else on this call, except for the story.”
Joe: Exactly. And people started coming up to me and saying, “God, thank you for sharing that.” What it made me realize, I know a lot about that which is most private or seems most private is most public. People go through shit in their lives. And I think the more that you’re able to reveal yourself; you become human. Because the reality is if you want to persuade humans, you need to be a human. You need to talk like a human. I didn’t come up with this. I just heard it originally from Dan Sullivan. People don’t buy from you because they understand what you do, people buy from you because they feel understood. And if people can have a real human connection, then you’ve just elevated yourself. When you first started writing, were you good, mediocre, great, or did you just suck?
Craig: I was bad in the way that I had a master’s degree in physiology. So, I was writing these articles, which were actually good for the audience I had at the time, who were a lot of people who went to school with me or were really hardcore exercise people. So, they were very science-based and very factual, with not a lot of humor and not a lot of personal stuff. So, that served me okay for a while. But it wasn’t until one of the biggest mentors for me, in email rating, is Matt Furey. Matt Furey writes incredible emails, in a specific way. So, that was very valuable to me, learning how to write more like his style. I don’t know. It really depends on how you want to classify writing now. Ever since taking over Early To Rise, I thought my email writing was pretty good. But Early To Rise is a completely different animal than the writing I’d done in the past. The writing I’d done in the past wasn’t necessarily grammatically correct or had a lot of bullet points and lists, and stuff.
But Early To Rise, as taught to me by Michael Masterson, who we took it over from, he said, “The best communication is based on the power of one; one idea communicated, only. So, not like “Here are the 9 steps of a product launch,” which is one of the emails that I sent out to my Internet independence list, but an entire 1,000- word essay on one topic. And it’s taken me 3½ months before I finally, just this Friday, wrote an email about the most important list you need in your life, which was a contact list; a list of people that you contact. Make sure you contact one person from the list every day, and follow-up with them and add value to them. And I wrote this essay, and it really has brought me some of the most feedback, positive feedback that we’ve had on some of the essays in there, because it was just focused on really drilling down on one topic. So, with Early To Rise, I’m writing essays, as opposed to emails, that I write in my fitness business and the Internet marketing business.
So, I guess in one way; I’m now a better essay writer. It has taken quite a bit of work to polish them, because to write an email is kind of like if you have a block of concrete and you’re hammering it down into something vaguely resembling a sculpture. But to write an essay, now I’m actually polishing these things, which is difficult for me because I’m a very impatient person. So, I can bang out an email, 500 words, no problem, all day long. But to actually write these essays, I’m actually going through 2 or 3 drafts of these things now. That’s how my writing has changed.
Dean: It’s really interesting, when you talk about that one topic, and going kind of deep on it. That 1,000 words that you’ve written has legs now, and life for a long time.
Craig: And the big thing is, that I’ve noticed from we’re part of the Agora system now with Early To Rise, is that when you write something like that, then it can become something that can be published in other email newsletters. If you just write an email that has all these different topics and it’s all over the place, you can’t get that republished and it doesn’t have, like you said, the legs that then gets new readers into your business. So, there’s a lot of value to be said to having that essay. So, if someone was doing an email business and wanted to incorporate this, then I would say maybe try and write one really good essay every week, in addition to your emails. And that way, that essay can, like you said, have the legs, get more search engine optimization because it’s longer, and that’s what Google wants now. And also, it will be the thing that could actually spread. And it also is much more powerful in promoting your mission and your vision.
Dean: You think about it for all of the businesses, all of the people who are listening, there’s probably 10 different essays that they could write for their business, that would be very valuable for them. Do you have any sort of categories or things that you think might be…?
Craig: When I teach some of the clients that we have in our fitness info businesses, I recommend that they come up with what I call the “blog post of a lifetime.” Like if you could just write one blog post for the rest of your life, and you wanted to get your most important message in there, write that thing. That should be the very first post you come up with for your blog. It’s like the keystone blog post. Tim Ferriss is a great example of having a lot of blog posts of a lifetime in one location. So, that is like your stump speech, what Dan calls a stump speech, which that’s the speech you go around and give on tour. And I think it’s really important to have that message, and I’m highly influenced by this guy, Bill Bonner, who runs Agora and writes Daily Reckoning. And if you read, he writes an essay every day. That man is such a prolific writer. He makes me look like a guy who puts out 10 words a week.
Dean: He writes 1,000 words a day.
Craig: Man, he must be 2,000 words a day, with all his stuff. But if you read the one today, it wouldn’t be that much different than the one 17 days ago. It’s always kind of on the same themes and stuff. But really, we do need that repetition in order to understand what he understands, and to be – I hate this word – indoctrinated into the belief that that business has. So, a lot of people want to be writing on all these different things all the time, but there is a lot of value in having one main message, because there’s so many messages out there.
Dean: It’s like having one diamond that you’re constantly polishing and dinking your different facets of it. It really then starts to shine, when you’ve got all of those different perspectives on the same theme.
Joe: First off, I love the blog post of a lifetime. I think if everyone listening took that as a very serious exercise, a goal to actually do that, and just sat down and created it, and started knocking it out, to speak to Eben Pagan – his whole concept of speed of implementation – if you really want to get something out of any sort of learning situation and get value out of it, the quicker you can take the idea to actually doing it, your chances of success are going to go up exponentially. This is one of those elegant ideas that I think everyone listening, block it in your calendar right now. If you can do it today, do it. At least start on it, and go from there.
We’ve just got a few minutes left. So, one of the things I’d like to do, and I do want to actually give people some websites, so if someone wants to get any of your materials on exercise and fitness, or start reading Early To Rise, we’ll mention that at the end. Just any final words of advice that you would have for people that are great marketers already and want to become better, and people that are new to this? What are some of the either fundamental to-dos or mistakes that would get in the way of multiplying, building and growing their entrepreneurial ventures?
Craig: I think, first of all, you just have to be doing stuff. You have to be testing, you have to be practicing. If you want to be a good writer, you just have to write your brains out. That’s what writers do. They sit down; they force themselves to write. Read The War Of Art to see what a writer goes through. And then, just in terms of marketing, testing, testing, testing, doing stuff, getting stuff out there as quickly as possible, taking action. I just wrote about this in one of my emails the other day. I was here on Wednesday, for a pre-seminar event with Dan, for this opportunity marketing thing that I was at. His seminar was a bonus seminar here. And I asked a stupid question. Well, it wasn’t a stupid question, but I had some stupid replies to his questions in this Q&A session. And it made me look like a bit of a dummy.
But just by doing that, in my opinion I looked liked a dummy, but in the opinion of other people that were in the room, all of a sudden now I was a guru at this information that Dan gave me, just because I was bold enough to ask a question. I was bold enough to take action, because 90% of the people in the room had questions but were too scared to ask him. So, they were asking me the questions after, because they were saying, “Oh, that was the question I was going to ask, too. I’m really glad you asked it.” So, all you have to do is just do something. Dan says, “Be somebody, be somewhere, do something.” And it’s very, very valuable information. So, just practice, test, and pick your mentors and learn from them. Not a lot. Just figure out which ones you want to model their businesses after. For me, it’s Bill Bonner and Dan, because they’re guys who just write a lot. I would love to create a business just by writing.
So, that’s what I do. You might see product launches and stuff, and think they’re the greatest thing since sliced bread. But for me, personally, I just don’t have the personality to do it. So, I don’t even try and do it. I’ve got to partner with people to do that type of stuff. But you pick the thing that you’re really, really good at. You leverage the process that you’re going to be an expert at, and somehow your build your business out of that. That’s the one thing. And the last thing I want to say is the most popular post that I’ve ever written on Early To Rise is something called “The 12 Rules That I Live By.” I believe that everybody should have what I call personal philosophies. And this ties into both fat loss and to living your life. And I came up with it first for the transformation people. Because if you’re in a transformation contest and you’re going to lose the most weight in the next 90 days, then you have to have philosophies like, “I don’t go to the donut store with everybody at 10:00. That’s just a rule. I do not break that rule.”
So, I came up with all these rules and philosophies for people that were in the fat loss one. And then I realized, “I should have one for my own life.” So, there’s 12 rules that I live by, and I try and stick to them every day. Obviously, you’re not always going to stick within the rules, but they should govern how you’re going to live, what kind of schedule you’re going to keep, who you’re going to hang around with. And you make these rules for your life, and it makes living so much easier. Because if you have a rule like, for example, one of mine is I don’t drink caffeine after 1:00, and I don’t drink alcohol 3 hours before bedtime, I just follow those rules, and it eliminates stress, so I don’t have to think about should I have a beer or should I not have a beer at 10:00 at night. Well, here’s my rule, and 99% of the time I’m going to follow that rule, and it’s going to serve me well because I’m going to sleep better. And I’m going to be able to get up tomorrow morning and work and write, and get all this stuff done.
Another one of my rules is I do not argue with people on the Internet. If somebody is upset with me, I right the wrong, if I can control it, and then I move on. There’s no more time spent debating somebody; I just move on. So, that saves me time, and allows me to have my head clear for more important stuff. You’ll find that blog post on EarlyToRise.com, the 12 rules I live by.
Dean: That’s similar to the “I know I’m being successful when…”
Joe: Let’s put that link to his 12 rules to live by. We’ll put the link, so you can read Craig’s article on Early To Rise, and we’ll put a couple links to the articles that have been put in there so far from me. We have who we’re actually going to do an episode with here, one of the sexiest people, at least in the room, which is Mr. Ryan Deiss. Ryan, you’re going to be on a future episode here, so we might as well give everyone a teaser. What are you going to share? Because I can’t imagine you’re even going to be able to compete with Craig Ballantyne here. Ryan: I didn’t know I was even going to be talking. There’s no way I can compete with that, certainly from a sexiness perspective. I’m just talking about kind of I sell stuff on the Internet, so I’m going to be talking about the criteria that I use when selecting that, because I think that’s where a lot of people go wrong. Really, my number one big tie-together business goal, anytime I go into a new market, the one thing that I look to do, that if I can do that, I know for a fact I’m going to win. And if I can’t, I’m pretty much hosed.
Joe: That’s awesome. So, that’s a cliffhanger. That’s Ryan Deiss. So, Craig, people obviously can go to EarlyToRise.com.
Craig: Yep. 0
Joe: Also, one thing that I think is really cool about some of the stuff that you put out there, a lot of people that listen are speakers, and they’re authors, and they travel a lot. And you’ve put together a complete workouts on literally how to train in a hotel room, what to do when you’re on the road, and also what to do in all aspects. So, how do they get some of your fitness materials?
Craig: Sure. I think the best way to do it would be to start just by going to my Facebook page, TurbulenceTrainingFanPage.com.
Joe: I’m just positioning you to get closer to the mic.
Craig: That’s what I thought. So, TurbulenceTrainingFanPage.com. And there, that’s kind of like the best little community we’ve got going on right now, and then we can direct people to the right stuff. Whether they want to watch the YouTube videos or they want to get the Turbulence Training workouts and bodyweight, whatever, I’ll set them up. I’m so less passionate about that stuff, right now, than I am about the Early To Rise stuff.
Joe: The beauty is you wrote it when you were passionate.
Craig: I’m still really passionate about it, but I’m all about the Early To Rise thing.
Joe: That’s awesome.
Dean: Thanks for stopping by.
Joe: Yeah, this was great. There was some wisdom there.
Dean: You can put your shirt back on now.
Craig: Well, anytime you get invited to Joe Polish’s hotel room, you don’t say no.
Joe: Yeah, that’s why Ryan’s here.
Craig: This is the second time I’ve been in a hotel room with you 2 guys.
Joe: It’s scary. It’s pretty scary. Awesome. Well, everyone, thank you for listening to our episode of I Love Marketing. If you’re on iTunes, then go to the website ILoveMarketing.com, so you can actually read Craig’s article and any other materials up there. And please, leave us your comments. Thank you, Craig.
Craig: Happy to help.
Dean: Thanks, Craig.
Craig: Thanks, Dean. You’re sexy.
Dean: Thanks, Joe.