Episode #77

Episode 077: The one with James Schramko

  • How to use ‘brand’ the smart way
  • Lessons from General Patton
  • 6 questions James uses to turn skeptical prospects into satisfied customers
  • What Dean uses to recognize 5-star prospects
  • The ‘Just Level With Me’ technique that gets prospects to reveal exactly what you need to make sales
  • Dean describes the best membership program that keeps members forever
Dean: I’m Dean Jackson, he’s Joe Polish, and this is the I love Marketing Podcast. Hey everybody, it’s Dean Jackson

Joe: And Joe, Joseph John Polish

Dean: That’s a fancy moniker right there.

Joe: Yeah, what do you think of that?

Dean: So, we’re not alone tonight.

Joe: No, we’re never alone, we have that invisible voice that’s in our heads.

Dean: Oh, that’s right, but I mean we actually have like a real guest tonight.

Joe: Yeah, a smart dude all the way from Australia

Dean: A mystery guest.

Joe: Completely different time zone than we’re at right now and his name’s James Schramko. You know

Dean: Yes he is.

Joe: I’ve known James for, I don’t know how long we’ve known each other, James, but we’ve bumped into each other here and there at marketing events and that sort of stuff and I’ve seen you speak a couple of times. We’ve chatted about all kinds of crazy marketing methods and techniques and you’re a super bright guy and you make few million dollars a year and you know what you’re doing. So, we figured it would be really good to have, I don’t know if we’ve ever had someone from Australia as a guest on I Love Marketing. When I say from Australia I mean that is actually in Australia as we record this episode. That’s the beauty of technology right here. Dean, where are you at right now? You’re in Toronto?

Dean: I’m in Toronto.

Joe: James is in Australia and I’m in Arizona. James, welcome to I Love Marketing.

James: Thanks for having me guys.

Dean: How does it feel to be the first Australian? Ed Dale is going to kill me, you realize that?

James: Well, he was on the Gary Halbert letter so I think he’ll be fine.

Joe: Alright so James, you basically are pretty much, you’re a marketing stud when it comes to a lot of stuff you do on the internet. And you’re pretty much an underground marketer, you’re not someone that’s out doing a lot of speeches and stuff, and you have a big network and connections of some serious multi-million dollar internet entrepreneurs. And you’ve built a really big business over the last few years and you know some pretty awesome stuff. And you’re in Sydney right now, correct?

James: Correct. I’m sitting here in the middle of five acres looking out the window in Sydney and it’s during the middle of the day. I imagine its night time where you are.

Dean: Yes it is, James is actually calling from the future.

Joe: Now you have horses and chickens so can you see them from where you’re at right now? Are you looking at a chicken while we’re recording this?

James: Yup, not so much a chicken but definitely horses, they walk past the property as well. My daughter has this little horse club, she has friends come over, they ride, she basically comes home from school every day, hops on the horse, and then rides off.

Dean: Does she have a horse called Little Joe?

Joe: No.

Dean: No? Okay

James: No, no. She’s got a horse called Gordy.

Dean: Oh okay.

James: And then she got a second horse as well.

Joe: Wow, that’s awesome. Well good, so let’s get some background on you and then let’s share with our listeners some really valuable, useful stuff that they can to use to build and grow their businesses and that sort of stuff. So before we get into the whole subject of marketing, now, why don’t you give us your definition of who is James Schramko, and what have you done in the past; what qualifies you to be, you know, the marketing stud that you are today?

James: I think my story might appeal to some of the listeners because I was working in a corporate career in Mercedes Benz dealerships, so I had that retail environment. And I learned a lot of the core business fundamentals, but at the same time I had this idea that I wanted to run my own business because a lot of my customers were very wealthy and all of them had their own business, there were very few employees. And I dealt with millionaires and billionaires and time and time again, they had their own business, so I knew that I wanted my own business. And over time, I think I started about 2005, I started teaching myself internet marketing and combining it with all the things I learned from running a real business. In some cases up to a hundred million dollar a year business.

And I’ve blended that with things that I was reading about, Jay Abraham and legends like Peter Drucker and some of my influences of my mentors like General Patton and then the Gary Halbert letter. And I sort of squished it all together and ended up building a business that ended up making more money from my part-time work than I was earning during my day. And that was okay because I was on a good salary, I was on nearly $300,000 a year, and I was able to let go of that job and walk out the door just over four years ago. And in the last four years, I’ve really concentrated on applying the business fundamentals, specially marketing, and building up this multi-million dollar business in a few different areas, but also integrated in a way, I guess a little bit like that Parthenon theory that Jay Abraham teaches. So you have separate business units that can stand on their own, but also work together to complement each other.

Joe: James what did you actually learn from the car business because you were.

Dean: Yeah, because I think you’re being a little modest about your car experience. Because I remember you telling me you were the number 1 BMW and Mercedes salesperson in Australia.

Joe: Yeah, that’s true.

James: When I was 23, I got married and when we went on our honeymoon, my wife got sick, and anyway turns out that not long after that we were going to have a baby. So when I was 24 and had my first kid and I was in a job where I was earning $35,000 a year and she was on $35,000 a year but she was now not going to be working, so I did the math. And I realize we’re going from $75,000 for two people to $35,000 for three, so I went down to the BMW dealer and just sold myself a job. So it was my first sales job, and within 12 months of starting that job, I was the number 1 BMW salesperson in the whole country.

So, I really did apply a lot of sales fundamentals in that job that carried me right through management. Obviously, I’ve got promoted into sales management and I repeatedly won sales manager of the year, and then eventually I was in charge of running these dealerships and I became the trouble shooter. I’d be sent out to fix up broken dealerships and to rebuild their sales team, and in my last post I was in charge of the whole thing, everything.

And to answer your question Joe, what did I learn? So much, because a motor dealership is very complicated, it is wholesale and retail because you have trade customers, you also sell stock, the cars, but you also sell money, the finance, and you sell time, in service. So you learn a whole lot about different models of how the business works, and you’re also dealing in a local area much like a carpet cleaner or a real estate agent. But at the same time, you’re dealing against 6 or 7 other people with the exact same product or service that is within a 30 minute drive of that customer.

And then on another level, you’re dealing with multi-national brand that has very strict brand guidelines and there are a lot of things where I push the limit. You know, the sort of marketing strategies and tactics that you talk about, some of them you just can’t do it in a Mercedes dealership without breaking the rules, like sign writing the window, for example, like they’re so strict about where the star must be in relation to the words and the particular color of the type-face and all of this stuff is so rigid. So that was really an experiment for me to push the boundaries there with the direct response marketing things I was learning

Dean: What were you able to apply?

James: I got in trouble many times, but you know I took the website. In my last full time job, one of my responsibilities was obviously marketing, and the part of that was getting the website. And I took that website and just rang it’s neck, like I really worked close with the developer and we broke all of the guidelines. Basically, we had squeeze pages with videos of the most relevant cars, so we’d run a pay per click ad, landing people, say AMG ad, landing them on a AMG video with a call to action to contact for a test drive today.

And then we’re doing marketing campaigns like dealership weekend events. We would hit multiple channels, we would have SMS, direct response mail, telesales from our direct sales team, point of sale, and then email blasts. And every one of them had a trackable landing page and separate redeemable offer, so that we could measure which channel was bringing the sales. And we world double, or triple, or quadruple every other dealer for our weekend sales haul. I think in one weekend, we did like 12 million dollars in sales and then next closest was three and a half million dollars in sales because we were hitting these marketing channels and testing and validating stuff. But no dealers do this. Certainly not 4 or 5 years ago, it was incredibly rare.

Dean: Yeah, and then, so they asked you to come and turn around other dealerships because of that? Like to apply those things on the other dealership or would they let you do those things there too?

James: The funniest thing of all was I actually prepared a 16-page document for head office on how they can fix their website marketing. Because they’re were using very, very expensive contractors who are completely clueless, no idea about keywords or page loading or meta descriptions and all that good stuff search engine optimization experts know about. And some girl just put it in the top drawer and I was pissed off with that, I ended up taking that exact same document, I spoke to two of my moonlight customers if you like, ones I’ve built websites for. And I said, you know what, I’m going to this full time, would you like me to look after this for you? And they both said yes, and I quit my job.

So I took that exact document that was to help them to build their presence and I used that on two separate clients and they applied it, and they got such outstanding results that 4 and a half years later now, they’re still clients and absolutely crushing it.

Dean: Well that’s awesome. I love to hear about stuff like that.

Joe: I mean I guess that could be said for probably a bazillion different companies; you could probably take that document even today and you show it to how many companies and it would probably work, right?

Dean: But you know there’s two lessons in that because those guys, you know highly brand oriented, very image conscious, which to their credit, a lot of the reason that Mercedes and BMW are so popular is because of that brand image. But there’s no reason, James showed that you could take that and still apply direct response to get three or four times the results of what you can get otherwise.

James: The most important thing I learned from it now is, well we’re very involved in search engine optimization and all of our research lately has been showing us that branding is very important for search results, it’s so easy to own your own brand compared to the keyword search for companies. So, I’ve put so much more effort lately into design and that the brand guidelines if you like of my own businesses and that’s how I can take a 500 dollar domain and turn it into a 7 figure a year revenue by focusing on making that brand known, everyone in my industry knows it.

And here’s the cool part, I actually took that document and gave it to my own community, I’ve got an internet marketing community forum that I built based on things that you taught me Dean about recurring income. And I shared that document with them and they go out and sell websites and search engine optimization and guess who supplies the websites and the search engine optimization now? Hundreds of customers.

So that one document that helped me quit my job has turned into millions of dollars and it really was a very similar to, probably to the guides that you give out to your carpet cleaners and to real estate agents. In that it takes the customer through to showing them how to you’re going to solve their problems and take away their risk and get better results than anyone else because you’re different.

Joe: So it would be safe to say that that would be, which we’ve talked about on dozens of I Love Marketing episodes, that was your sales letter, that was your education based marketing tool. And that was something that you used to can and clone and offer while simultaneously teaching people what to do that led them into actually doing business with you. At least, not who you originally wrote it for but the two clients and now how it’s been leveraged through all of your current members and everything along those lines.

James: Exactly and it was always based around solving a problem and creating value for the end customer. That was the heart of it in the beginning. It was just a genuine, like this is how you can fix what’s broken document, but it turned out to have high commercial value.

Joe: Yeah, well you know let me mention a couple of things, Dean. I don’t know if you noticed this, but you know when he talked about the people that he was influenced by, Jay Abraham, Peter Drucker, General Patton, and Gary Halbert. These are not like you know, the latest modern day, you know, internet marketing gurus. These are, you know, Peter Drucker is one of the top management minds of you know, all history and you know, Jay Abraham and Gary Halbert, I mean, these are old school direct mail, direct response guys. And General Patton, of course, I’m just curious to what you learned from him, but you know I wanted to point that out because you learned your chops from people that most newbies in this world of marketing don’t even know of.

James: That’s right and I suspect that these people that I learned from are more often than not, the source of some of the current day famous gurus, etc. But I learned, I was very lucky in the Mercedes environment, I was hanging out with smart people, and one of the ways that I ended up in my last second to last post was there’s this particular guy who had got a Mercedes Benz smash repairer and somehow he ended up getting a Mercedes dealership which is the license to print money. And I actually said to him, “Can I come around and ask you what you did?”

And I went around and I spent hours in the boardroom and he’s there with his feet crossed up on the boardroom smoking and just talked to me for hours and hours and hours and he said, “You’re here to get the Holy Grail” and I said “Yeah” and he said “It doesn’t exist.” This guy, I think was General Patton reincarnated, but he ended up hiring me, he said “You’re the only person who’s ever asked me” said, “I’m hiring you because you’ve got integrity, you’ve got talent, and I want you to come and fix up my business. And even if you have to get rid of every single person and start fresh.” I mean, that was Patton-ism right there.

This guy was all about a violently executed plan today, he was just very up the ante, no compromise, and you know when I look at your list Dean, you know that really inspired me to create a life with less compromise. I can really remember those lessons about compromise.

Dean: You’re talking about the I know I’m being successful when list.

James: Exactly. You know, it’s stuck to my filing cabinet and I’m not a platitudes guy, I don’t have like hippie things rolling over my screen saver. But that thing resonates with me, I look at my watch merely out of curiosity, something like that. I don’t have an alarm clock.

That list of things really resonated with me because I basically was taking years’ worth of working in a corporate, bureaucratic, butt-covering, BS environment, where people are just sheep and working as slaves in some industrial age thing. And I was that free thinking entrepreneur, I needed to bust out of that and that list really helped me with that. So yeah, this guy taught me a lot about no compromise.

Joe: Yeah that’s good and it is, it’s a fabulous process that I recommend everybody look at. We’ve actually talked about that too. So what else did you learn from General Patton?

James: Well he was so fast, he didn’t mess around. He was basically, and it’s all about.

Dean: Yeah you shared part of the quote that his, that his famous quote, can you share the whole quote.

James: Yeah, a good plan violently executed today is better than the perfect plan executed next week. Something like that. And this really addresses perfectionists, people who over think stuff, and I saw examples of this all time. People would go, they’d get into their car at the end of the day and they’d sit there for 25 minutes adjusting the radio and the seat and the air conditioning and then drive off. I would get in the car, put my seat belt on, check the mirrors, and drive off and at the first set of lights, I would tune the radio, and the second set of lights, I’d adjust the air, I’d be home before half these people left the driveway. So, there is a lot to be said for speed of implementation. And I think General Patton had speed of implementation totally nailed.

Joe: Yeah, that’s a great point. And speed of implementation with anything is critical. I mean I honestly have never met a successful marketer that doesn’t have a lot of that, or is not driven by that. Which is kind of funny because your website is superfastbusiness.com.

Dean: No coincidence

James: Well when I chose that for my umbrella company, I knew that you can have good, fast, or cheap, and I’m never going to do cheap. I don’t want to be the cheapest. That’s a race to the bottom and my Mercedes Benz training shows me that people would pay for quality. So, it came down to good or fast and I figured that most people would go for fast as an outcome because people might not think they want to pay for good, but they will actually pay for it they can have it fast.

Dean: There you go. By the way, episode 22 is the one about success and marketing. That’s the one Joe we talked about that, we recorded that at Dean Gracias’s studio.

James: It’s one of my most popular Facebook posts when I took a picture of it, it went into meltdown.

Dean: Exactly. Well, that’s funny

Joe: Alright. So let’s see here. Out of all the things I could ask you, I want to first get your definition on of marketing. I mean, what does marketing mean to you James? What is it?

James: Well, I guess for me, marketing is creating the environment that makes a sale occur leading up to that actual transaction

Joe: What’s the difference between sales and marketing, you know I have my own stick that I talk about, having spent so many years selling, you know, in an environment with cars to wealthy people what role does sales play as it relates to marketing and vice versa?

James: Well, I think if I start with selling that might be easier. For me, selling is simply a change in one’s situation to a better alternative situation. That’s it. People don’t buy unless they think they’d be better off. Now, I mean, you could trick them but you shouldn’t. The idea is, working back from that, my entire selling strategy is to create the environment where that customer sees that it’s the most obvious thing to do so they make their choice to buy and when you do that, that’s when you start to get a lifetime customer and they don’t feel dirty about it later.

And marketing is everything that leads up to that. How do you make them aware that you even exist? How do you bring them to the point where you can create that environment for them to know that they’re going to be better off for making that decision to move forward. That might be activating certain channels that lead the customer to the point where they can get it. The better you do the marketing function, the less you have to work on that sales component.

Joe: Great wisdom there. Dean, I think you’re about to say something so, you know.

Dean: I was. I was saying that sounds familiar. Would you share Dan Sullivan’s definition of selling?

Joe: Yeah, it’s getting people intellectually engaged in a future result that’s good for them and getting them to emotionally commit to take action to achieve that result. And James’s definition of changing one situation to a better situation, I mean, what a great way of.

Dean: It’s elegant. Right?

Joe: Yeah.

Dean: Yeah, it’s elegant and accurate.

James: I have to tell you, I should quote the source for that sort of thinking. It came from SPIN Selling By Neil Rackham and the important point here is that the reason I was so successful at BMW sales is because the job just prior to that was with a technology company called Vodafone. And they came to Australia in 1993 to set up digital telephones, we had it a long time before America. And when they came, they started from scratch, so they went out and hired the very, very best sales people they could from companies such as Xerox. And it was these people who had all been trained in spin selling and psychology of selling by Bryan Tracy.

So, I ended up in an administration well surrounded by 7 or 8 sales people and the top guns sales manager for the whole region from these high powered sales companies. And they were the ones who taught me these sales things. I’d sit in the meeting and be exposed to this, like the sales manager would say to the crowd, “Who thinks that price is the most important thing in a sale?” and one guy put up his hand a bit sheepishly and he’d say “get out”.

Dean: Oh really? That’s amazing.

James: Yeah, I started to learn that selling is not about price, it’s about solving problems and it was very hard to sell a digital telephone for 17-hundred dollars in 1993. These guys were selling, their quota I think was 1 a week and it’s hard to believe now of course. But I would actually sell more of these phones from people calling into the office and I was the administrator. And so I realized I had something and luckily I’d been exposed to all these ideas. But that’s where I got that concept and I just applied that to selling cars which was very different to the way most people sell cars, and it worked.

Dean: That is pretty interesting. You must have had a system that you’ve developed around that. If you were using, squeeze pages and you’re using videos and you’re delivering exactly what people are searching for. They search for AMG, and you land them on an AMG page, what was your process then for bringing them in and converting them?

James: Well that stuff came later in my career, when I started selling it was like 1995, so this was 10 years before I was doing that stuff. My system was very simple, logically if a sale is improving someone’s situation, I need to know where they’re at now to start with. So, it was about finding out what is their current situation and that involved asking them questions. I actually had a notepad and a pen and I was laughed at by the other sales people, and I would basically say, “Hi Dean, do you mind if I just ask you a few questions so that I can help you, you know, with this car situation?” and they say “Sure.” I say “What do you have now?” and I ended up having 6 questions that I needed to ask every single person in order to be able to sell a car.

I needed to know who’s the car for, I need to know what do they have now, and I wanted to know what they wanted to change about what they have now, so that would give me a hint as to how I could improve their situation. I needed to know what finance term they purchased the vehicle on last time, they’d either probably tell me “I paid cash” or they’d tell me their term which help me estimate how much of a problem we had with the equity or the finance balance. And I needed to know when they need this vehicle. And if there’s anything special or particular that I should know that affects their ability to make the decision on this.

If I could get those things then I was able to sell a car, and most people just bluff and wing it and just blah blah or crap on about the product or how many valves the engine’s got. The customer doesn’t care about that, they just care about fixing their problem, their car problem, and that system was eventually put into, what I call a write up sheet. So I had this piece of blue paper, and it was blue because originally I’d write it on a quote book, right I made the biggest rookie mistakes ever. I would write this thing out and in the end they’d say “can I have a copy of that?” and I’d tear it out the top copy and give it to them and they’d grab it, walk down to the next dealership and make a purchase and I’d lose every single sale.

So then I ended up putting it on blue paper and they’d say “could I have a copy of that?” and I’d say “oh, you know, if I photocopy this, this is just going to go black so this is just for my notes so that when we speak next time, I’ll be able to know where we’re up to.” and that fixed the system

Dean: Oh good for you, it’s because the blue wouldn’t photocopy, right. Perfect.

James: It doesn’t photocopy, the same with purple. And the other thing is I used to send them a hand-written follow up after they’d leave the dealership and no one does that to this day, nobody does it and it’s the easiest thing to do in the world.

Dean: You know, it’s kind of interesting James because it reminds me, you know, a lot of times people are very reluctant to ask questions like that in a selling situation. And you know it’s so powerful to really be comfortable engaging like that and not worrying about it, I think if people looked at the interactions they’re having and if your guiding mindset is that you’re going to treat everybody like they’re a five star prospect until they prove that they aren’t. Versus treating them like they’re not a five star prospect until they prove that they are.

A lot of times people are reluctant to kind of they don’t want to shy somebody, push somebody away, or come off as too pushy or something like that. But really, those questions that you’re asking, a real five star prospect is going to be somebody who has answers to those, right? And people who do have a problem that they want to upgrade are going to be happy that you’ve taken the time to ask them those questions because they’re going to feel heard.

James: If I go to the doctor and he’s not asking me questions then I’d be really worried about what he’s prescribing.

Dean: I agree.

James: And the patient doesn’t know medically what’s wrong with him, they might think they do, they might have eaten something and now I’m sick. He might say, no you’ve got some cancer or something, you don’t know, they do tests, they don’t take the customer’s word for it, and that’s what I found with cars. A lot of customers think they know what their problem is but quite often it’s not, and you do need to go through that education process and the best way to do that is to ask questions and don’t make assumptions. Just start with a clean slate, and I would actually frame it literally with the words, “So that we only spend time today on things that are important to you, do you mind if I ask you a few questions and take notes?”

Dean: I mean, who could deny that? It’s like, the very interesting thing is that, that ties in, I should mention what five star prospects, we talked about it before, and this applies really to any businesses. But I developed it for real estate, five star prospect is somebody who’s willing to engage in the dialogue, they’re friendly and cooperative when you talk with them. They know what they want and they’re willing to share their plan, they’re going to be doing something in the next whatever an acceptable timeframe is for whatever the cycle is for your particular business, and number 5, they’d like you to help them.

I mean, if somebody meets all 5 of those things, and I know that when you’re asking those questions, you are writing down the answers, but in your mind, those are click, click, click. You’re clicking in to exactly what you’re going to highlight, how you’re going to have the rest of that conversation and you know what’s important to them. And probably even without specifically knowing that you’re looking for five star prospects, if you hear what those ones that we just mentioned, that answers all of those questions for you. You know.

James: Yeah, and I think I learned a valuable technique for maybe the one star prospect.

Dean: What’s that?

James: Well I sat next to guy that, he was an Egyptian guy and he had this fantastic technique of opening to someone who was unwilling to share their plan. He would fold his arms in front of his face, put a little gentle hand gesture and tilt his head a bit and smile and he just softly say “Level with me. Just level with me. Where are you really at?” you know? And he’d just draw them out and they’ll say “Well you know, okay, I’ve got 3 quotes and I just want to know which one’s going to be the cheapest. So he would just get them to reveal their hand with this very subtle, gentle, you know, just level with me technique.

Dean: Well there you go. You’re going to have to, you have a Mac right and you have iMovie? You’re going to have to shoot a little video of that, so we could see the technique.

James: I’ve managed to incorporate a lot of the same things now into my current business. For example, the 6 seed questions, I work out what do we need to know to be able to solve someone’s problem and then we put it in to our own page material. And what I’ve had real success with, especially with my SEO business is selling services as packages, so taking time, we’re effectively selling time because we have a team and we actually do have services but we’ve bundled them into packages and we sell them as packages. So we list what’s in the package, what problem it solves, and how much it costs and they order, so we actually get paid in advance. But we’ve also been able to address the main things that someone would need to have addressed just in the way that it’s laid out.

Dean: That’s brilliant. And you know having things packaged really makes people feel comfortable, feels like you’ve got the solution for them, you know?

James: And it’s consistent and you’ve really helped me with something Dean. Last time I saw you, I asked you one question, I was struggling with the phone call number on the site or not or their support desk and I asked you the question and you said to me “what result do you want?” That was such a great answer because it empowered me to be able to answer a lot more of my own questions around that, and we came up with a good solution that’s worked really well for us and made our business infinitely scalable. And since I saw you, we’ve actually grown that business. So since your evening in September in Phoenix, we actually went, I had a little team with two and in that month, we did $7000 in sales and in 6 months after that, in March, we did $78,000 in sales from that one website.

Dean: That’s awesome.

James: Just by applying that “what result do we want?” So that’s a huge increase and that little team of 2, is now a team of 38.

Dean: Wow, that’s pretty fast growth. That’s good.

Joe: Super-fast business Dean what do you expect?

Dean: Super-fast businesses, says it right there in the title, that’s great.

Joe: So how big is your team now James?

James: 70. 70 people so that’s, 6 months ago we had 25, so we’ve had massive growth. And our business, it’s really weird but we’ve got the website working so well, we don’t do any advertising, we don’t have affiliates. Aside from our own house list and cross-promotion and me putting out content we don’t have to go and buy banners or direct response, or put yellow pages, or anything. The biggest focus for us is working on capacity to deliver, we hired 5 people yesterday. So we’re scaling as fast as we can without breaking anything, with proper training and induction, and recruiting.

We take 15 candidates and reduce it down to 5 who we then hire, and then they go into a systemized training. But our biggest problem now is that the marketing has been too effective around serving our customers so well that it’s sort of led us to a point, well what do we do? We can’t turn the thing off, we just got to keep scaling and we don’t work off revenue, we work off a number which is days to deliver the result and if that blows out, we need to hire people, and as it shrinks, then that means we’re getting to the right number of people, but so far, it just keeps growing, it’s a monster.

Joe: Explain what it is you guys are actually selling for the listeners.

James: Well for that particular part of the business, that is search engine optimization, so someone comes along to our website, they buy our package, and our team goes and create content and it could be in the form of articles, press releases, custom videos. Then they go and put those articles and press releases and videos out on the internet in highly targeted, relevant, category-related places pointing back to the customer’s site. And in some cases, we even make info graphics that we put on the customer’s site as the bait or the target destination and this draws the attention of Google and Google gives them a higher ranking than their competitors.

And for some of our customers who might be in e-commerce, or a real estate agent, you know, services like the carpet cleaners, they’re just basically getting all of this traffic from Google that they were missing out on before. So it’s a long lasting return on investment as opposed to just buying a banner at which you get that one time hit and then it stops.

Joe: What are some recommendations for you know, you listen to I Love Marketing so you’re pretty familiar with what it is we do and how we do it. What do you think are some of the things that you could advise small business owners out there on just how to be better at what it is they’re doing. Like what are some core ideas and fundamentals that you think be most useful for our listeners?

James: Okay, the first one is absolutely focus on the customer you already have before you start thinking about going and getting more customers. Because more than likely, your current customer base or your past customer base who you haven’t been activating properly will feed you, without even having to get any customer. I’ve built multi-million dollar business off a database of around 20,000 people. I can make a hundred dollars per person on my database per year, so just focus with what you got. I like the lifetime recurring income models, see that’s the second thing, find any way you can have recurring purchase options for your customers. What can they keep buying over and over again, because you make that sale once, it’s so much easier to have them on subscription, so everywhere in my businesses, subscription model, and I have to credit Dean with really helping me with that concept in Detroit.

I was sent to Dean Jackson by Brad Fallon, and he said “there’s only one guy you really need to meet. Forget all the gurus you know about, there’s this one guy called Dean Jackson and he’s a master at the recurring model.” And you told me to focus on what’s going to keep that customer stuck in the program the next month and so talking about what’s coming, it’s adding continuous value, and retaining the customer you’ve got, it’s absolutely been the key to my business and so that’s where I would start

Dean: You know, I’ll say something about that because there’s so much focus when people are thinking about recurring revenue, that the focus is often in selling something on the front end and then setting some kind of continuity so that they can ding somebody’s credit card for three or four more months after you know. And the focus often is on making it difficult for people to leave, you hear words like creating pain of disconnect and making it sort of more difficult to leave.

But the reality is if you’re really going to focus on recurring revenue and the real value of it is creating lifetime recurring revenue. You can’t create that by creating pain of disconnect, what you have to be able to create is you have to create something so great that nobody would want to leave, or even dream of leaving. And I was at a mastermind meeting where the focus was on retention, on just that, retention on recurring continuity programs. And it was amazing to me that all these things that was exactly what they were focused on, how to make it harder to disconnect and they weren’t really thinking about what could we do that makes it so no brainer, that they would just want to stay forever.

Oftentimes, people focus on over selling what they’re going to get, but often it’s not even a matter of you know, probably have to deliver as much as you think you have to deliver in bulk kind of thing. People think about you know, adding all these things you get this, and you get this, and you get this. And I said to them, listen, I’m going to explain the best continuity program that you could imagine. If I said to you, James, I’d like to invite you to our membership program and here’s how it works, on the first of the month, we’re going to charge your credit a thousand dollars and then on the second of the month, we’re going to deposit $2,000 into any bank account that you give us. How many months do you think people would stay with that membership program that was based on that?”

James: You know, it’s so funny you say that Dean because I have a mastermind group, a business mastermind and I took a widely different approach to everyone else. So, I know that people like the 12-month commitment thing, I have a 30-day commitment and it is a thousand dollars a month and I have 35 people on that and they just don’t leave because it makes me sharp, I have to deliver value every month.

And they say why is there no minimum commitment? I’m like because you should only be here as long as I can deliver value. And I absolutely agree with your less is more philosophy because when we do an hour call, at the very beginning to really set their business up and create an action list, I want to end up with no more than 6 things on their action list that they work on for the next 6 weeks. And then we have a weekly call on a one-to-many call, like 7 or 8 people, where we find out how they’re going with their action implementation, and that gets results. My average person is doubling their business within 6 months, on average.

Dean: That’s fantastic. Yeah. And why would anybody want to leave that?

Joe: You know, it’s actually a great point Dean, you know, I mean, the whole method of keeping people in businesses like, you know the prison continuity program where, you know, you just can’t leave.

Dean: Well, exactly. Yeah, yeah. The winning membership program would be you know, you give me a thousand dollars on the first, and I’m going to deposit $2000 into your account on the second. Well, you know, what would be even better is, nobody could refuse this if I said okay, here’s how our membership program works, I’m going to deliver you $2000 on the first, and I’d like you to give me a thousand dollars on the second. How much resistance do you think you’d have from somebody joining that program? It’s the same thing, right?

But, the difference is very, very subtle. You have to, even if you’re not going to ultimately be able to offer to get people results in advance, you have to be able to think that way first, you know. The best way to think about, you know, creating your membership program, is to start thinking what would I do if I only got paid if people get results? And that is a clarifying question because often you know, we pack up all of these things that you include in a membership program, which are often very fluffy, and you’re just selling them for to add weight or bulk to whatever it is that they’re getting to distract from the fact that the core of it is really one key thing, you know.

And if you just focus on making sure that everybody does that one key thing, that thought process is really clarifying, it gets you thinking along the right way, even if you’re not going to publicly declare that we get you the results first. It gets you thinking that way. It’s one of those provocations that kind of dig down deep and get the best result out of your thinking. It’s kind of like you know, Gary Halbert would say you know, his big breakthrough came when he said, “If I have to get it over from this one guy, I could only send one letter, and he doesn’t buy, I’m going to be beheaded.” You know, that kind of a provocation, if you can get yourself, even mentally to buy into it, is going to really create the best thinking that you can have.

Joe: That’s what I’m trying to say.

James: It’s making your offers simple to understand. One of the reasons our SEO business grew so much is because last year all of our competitors were offering a whole lot of stuff and they were doing a lot of automated things to be able to get that amount of stuff for that cheaper price. And they’d hand over details of logins and everywhere, they’d put links and we took a different approach, we said we’re not going to send you logins of everywhere that we put things, we’re not going to send you a list of where we put things, in fact we’re hardly even going to send you a report. And we’re only going to do this, this, and this but we’re going to hand create it and submit it, instead of machine it.”

And guess what happened? Our penguin came out, our panda came out, and Google have said we want quality, we want relevancy, and most of our competitors were wiped out in the last 3 months. They just don’t exist anymore because they’re customers reported them or all their logins got handed in or the mechanized techniques just don’t work. And we got left standing because we took a quality approach and a minimal approach. And I think our customers can actually understand what we do, it’s very simple to understand a few key inputs but done well, and that is a form of membership or subscription club because our average customer, you know, gosh I’d be so disappointed if someone only stayed only 3 or 4 months, I like 1, 2, 3, 4 years. I want forever. I’m pretty fussy but I have still got customers who I’ve been dealing for 7 years and when I recently pulled my email list from which stores everyone by list instead of record into Office Autopilot which stores everyone by customer record instead of list, my list actually halved.

So, on average, everyone on my database had at least two products, but it probably more than likely, there’s quite a lot of newsletter people and then there’s a bunch of people have 3, 4, 5, 6 products because they stick around. So one of my core philosophies is, it’s consistent with my sales definition, I’ve got to make sure that everything I do is helping someone be better off, always be better off and then they’ll stick around.

Dean: Yes. That’s fantastic.

Joe: You know, that’s fantastic. What I want to ask you James, a couple things I think would be really, really relevant to our listeners is for one, you developed your business while having a job. So, let’s talk about working on your business part-time while having a full-time job like you did. Because I think a lot of people are in that situation that, have not made the full jump to being an entrepreneur, and I think it would be useful to hear how you did it. And then secondly, you worked with a lot of wealthy people, including some billionaires, and what did you learn from selling to wealthy people. And lessons for our listeners and let’s try to cover those two topics in the next two minutes.

James: Billionaires and famous people, right. Basically, with those people, don’t suck up to them or piss them off. They’re just normal people and they get a lot of dickheads going to great lengths to annoy them. I think you have to respect their gate keepers especially, if you can get on well with the gate keeper, the you’re going to get through to the end person, and be a little bit different. And being different might mean just not being overly sucky-uppy or weirdo stalker like, because that’s what they get all the time. And you can also have a joke with them or fun, I think when they realize that you’re not trying to take something from them, they open up. So, it’s more about how you can serve them than what they’re going to give for you, and I think people are too quick to put out their hand and leech off someone famous.

Just take it slow. I guess it’s probably similar to dealing with a horse that’s like ten times more sensitive than a human and they’re a run-away-from animal, if you’re too in their face, they just want to run away, that’s my tips for famous people.

Joe: Well, I’ve been trying to teach that to Dean for the longest time, because I introduce him to rich and famous people all the time and he just has this, his social keys are just really off.

James: Well, the other thing is the very best way to meet them is to be introduced by someone else who they already trust, and that’s how I met all of you guys, for example. And the other thing is, you’ve got to get out of your office and get on a plane and then go to events, etc. I’ve met both of you at events numerous times now and it just if you can be in the same place at the same time, it’s so much easier to meet someone than when you are not in the same place. I know that’s obvious, but you have to get out and about if you want to meet these people.

Okay so, let’s go to the what do you do if you’re working a job but you suspect you should have your own business. So I basically worked from 9:30 at night to 3:00 in the morning for about 3 years before I was able to quit my job, and it really comes down to that pareto principle and not being a perfectionist. You’ve got to be clear about the result you want, and just like a W. Edwards Demming process, just work out on actual steps to getting it.

I realized I had to learn copywriting and I had to put up a website, they were the things that I set as my objectives, and it took me a heck of a long time to figure out how to build a website. But in that process of learning how to do a website, and improving my sales copy, I somehow became a really good super affiliate for website-building software because I built a demo site and I helped other people who had the same problem that I had, which is how to build a website.

And I showed them how I was able to overcome that problem and here’s my link to the software, and they all clicked on it and I built that up to a $150,000 a year from scratch in the first three years by just sticking to that one core business model and then developing it into the natural evolution of creating a bonus information product that complemented the software. So rather than compete with someone else, I decided to complement and assist my sales with more value and it was a short cut guide or a cheat sheet on how to get the most of this software with the least amount of effort. And I gave it to people who bought through my link, and that was a really successful combo. So, what I’m saying is, it’s like that movie “Memento” where you have to write on yourself because you forget every time you wake up what you did last time

By the time you interrupt your day, you go off to work, you come back, you go “where was I again?” so that’s why I used a white board, to write down what I was up to last time and I’d have to get straight back into the zone. For the average person, who’s still working a job but doesn’t want to, you just got to stop watching TV and you have to pull out your white board and write down your start and end goal with steps in between. And tick them off and just keep chipping away at it and you got to want it bad because if you don’t, it’s not going to happen. And I needed it because at the end of my career, like 4 years ago, was when the US financial market was starting to fall over with the housing and the bad credit. And I realized I’m the highest paid person in the country in the job in a luxury car market and the whole world’s about to go in to collapse, my job days are numbered, and it could be any day.

And I went to work for the last year wondering if it would be my last day at work. So I wanted it so bad and with 4 kids and a mortgage and share portfolio that was geared, I had no choice, and I was just going for it 100%. In the last parts I got very little sleep, but now 4 years later, no debt, thriving business, passionate joy for business, like I love it. It was all worth it and I’d do it again. I’d do it five times over to get what I’ve got now.

Dean: That’s great

Joe: That is awesome. What a great way to end the interview. Especially without Dean saying anything, that would be the best way to get to end this thing but no, no, no, all kidding aside, Dean, what are your thoughts on that?

Dean: You know when you mentioned that Jay Abraham was one of your influences and you know, there’s a lot of similarities there because Jay always says that what really motivated him was having kids and being married at a very young age. He had the needs of a 40 year old man when he was 18, 19 years old, so that really does get you motivated. When you have that “Why”, it makes anything you have to do that much more palatable, you know.

Joe: Yeah, I think the whole point of you know, really you got to want it badly is critical and that’s one area where if someone’s not hungry in a lot of ways they are at a disadvantage versus someone that has resources, and talent, and intelligence, and skills, and lives in a great place.

Dean: Too comfortable, yeah.

Joe: And you know, isn’t in a situation where they are desperate or, you know, don’t manufacture that sort of gun to your head sort of pressure like you were talking about. I bet on any young person that doesn’t know what they hell they’re doing but has integrity and has passion and has desire, I’d put my money on that horse any day of the week over someone that just doesn’t have that. And I don’t know if there’s any easy way to say, here’s how to find it if you don’t have it or lacking, I don’t know if you have any thoughts on that, James, if someone can’t really find their to sound cliche, find their passion. I don’t know if you have any thoughts on that?

James: You taught me the technique for that Joe, we were sitting in the middle of Mexico and you talked about waving the magic wand, what does it look like, what’s the ideal scenario. So that is a technique that I’ve used in my mastermind groups and also for myself. Taking that sales philosophy, if you start with the current situation, which is where you’re at right now, and if you want to be better off, you have to actually figure out what would better off look like, how do you know when you’re successful. And that’s where Dean’s list comes into it, and I guess Dan Sullivan’s philosophy are the same, what would be the indicators, and if you’re clear on that something should automatically start to occur in your mind.

And suddenly, you become unhappy with what you’ve got now and happier with what you’re thinking about and you move towards it. And this happens numerous times, on my last day of my job, I handed over a brand new AMG car to a customer and he started it up and it sounded so good, you know that 6.2 liter V8 coming out of those 4 exhaust pipes, and I had that instant moment, I want one of these cars, I want one.

And 3 years after I quit my job, I went in to buy a brand new Mercedes Benz for my wife and she looked over and saw one and she goes “isn’t that the one you like?” and I said “yes.” she goes “you should get it” and I said “done.” So we laid down cash for 2 Mercedes Benz in my old employer’s work place 3 years from when I quit my job and that was the final tick in the box.

That was, you know, I’ve been thinking about this for so long and I was always on the other side of the desk, and now I’m the business owner paying cash for my Mercedes Benz and I can tick that box off now, I’ve completed the cycle. And then I think what’s next, and I’ve reset my targets now and I know what my future situation will be because I’ve waived the magic wand and I’m just moving towards it. And it happens fast.

Dean: That’s awesome. Well it happens faster when you’re clear on it, doesn’t it? I mean, rather than when you’re just kind of waffling and you know, heading down the road.

James: You don’t have to know every step with precision, but you have to know the direction. If you’re a train hurtling down the tracks but you’re heading to the wrong station, it’s not going to work out for you. So even if you know the station you want to get to but you’re not sure how to get there, as long as you know where you’re roughly heading, you’ll find the vehicle to get there.

Joe: Yeah, that’s great. That’s great. Well you know what, James, awesome, awesome stuff. Great conversation, and you have 3 podcasts that you do, usually a couple of them are in the top 10 in Australia on iTunes. How do people find out more about you and follow any of your stuff?

James: Just go to superfastbusiness.com and that is where all of my businesses are listed and I have a newsletter. I put out a video every couple of days. I honestly think this is the best way for people to communicate in current times, putting out good video content, you’re welcome to join that or subscribe to the podcast that’s on that site superfastbusiness.com

Dean: There we go

Joe: Awesome. Well you know that’s all I got, and I will say that Dean, I’ve tried several times to get this interview with James scheduled and you have been dragging your feet and finally, you got out of bed and decided to get on the phone and report. It took my assistant 17 years, the lovely, wonderful Eunice Miller, to actually coordinate getting this scheduled so here we are, we’ve done it, we’ve accomplished it. So to all of our I Love Marketing listeners, love to hear your comments on what you thought about this Australian dude, James and yeah.

Dean: You know, he’s the best Australian we’ve had on the podcast, so far.

Joe: Yeah, as of right now, at this moment that we’re recording.

Dean: Yeah, the leading number 1 Australian.

Joe: Yeah, out of all the Australians we’ve ever interviewed, this one was the most recent also.

Dean: That’s true.

James: I’m a tri-nation special.

Joe: No, it was actually, really good stuff and I actually thought your story was quite motivational and really something, I think it’s good for our listeners to hear. Because I know everybody, even if they’re doing really well or not, just hearing perspectives of how other people have, used marketing. One last thing, why do you love marketing? I mean, it’s obviously had so much impact on your life, it’s had impact on our lives, you know, that’s why we share all of this with people. Why do you love marketing?

James: I love it because it’s a big game, it’s a challenge, it’s like an unlimited never ending game that you can keep refining and learn. It’s one of the few things where you have learning outcomes with every single moves that you can reapply or refine or get better at. And you don’t need someone else to certify you and say well okay you have this diploma or you have this certificate or you’re credentialized. It is a wide open market place and you can compete with the best in the world, head on and take them down with a little domain name and a website and it’s game on, the world is your oyster. And the rewards are so high compared to selling your time to an employer and all the other options available, it’s given me a life.

Joe: Yeah, that’s fantastic. Awesome. Well thank you. So that’s it. Appreciate it, James. Dean, anything else?

Dean: I think that was fantastic. Thanks for playing.

Joe: You got it.

James: Thanks guys.

Joe: You got it. Alright, we’ll talk soon James and all of our listeners, thank you, give us your comments and we will talk to you on the next episode of I Love Marketing. Take care.

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