047 | Viral Social Networking | Become A Content Marketing Animal | Profitable Podcasting | With Stephen Woessner

Guest of our show is Stephen Woessner. So Stephen is a digital marketing expert as well as a pioneer in the podcasting business. He’s the author of some best selling books such as increased online sales through viral social networking, profitable podcasting, grow your business, expand your platform, and build a nation of true fans. So Steven is also a host of the onward Nation podcast, CEO of predictive ROI and digital marketing authority speaker and educator. His marketing insights have been featured in Ink Magazine, Forbes Entrepreneur and The Washington Post. Steven’s practical and tactical training sessions and keynote presentations teach valuable principles of predicting and then measuring the financial return on investment before any action is taken, which is very important in this business. And he has also developed a mathematical patent-pending process that can be used to predict the increase in online sales. So I’d like to talk about that for sure.

Welcome, Stephen. You know you do have a very interesting background. And I hope we are going to learn a lot from you today.

Well, thank you very much for the invitation. And thanks for having me. So I’m looking forward to the conversation should be a lot of fun.

Awesome, that’s great. Alright, so let’s jump in. Let’s talk about your podcast, which is, you know, it’s 900 episodes. That’s amazing. So let’s talk about that. When did you start it? And how did it come about?

So it started our officially our first episode launched on June 13, 2015. So we just had our four year anniversary. And really, it started because predictive ROI was really kind of in desperation mode. And it was sort of ironic, too, because I mean, we were in the lead gen business, digital marketing drive leads for business to business clients, and yet we were doing a horrible, horrible job of that for ourselves. And so my business partner and I, we just come back from meeting with one of our clients and, and subsequently lost that client, one of our largest clients. And here we are with a sort of dwindling revenue. And we were overstaffed. And I had no idea what to do, just candidly, I had no idea what to do. And so on May 15, Sunday, May 15, 2015, I sent off an email to my team. And I said, Okay, guys, I know, we don’t know anything about podcasting, but we’re going to launch a daily show, we’re going to call it on word nation, I’m going to interview the very best business leaders and business owners that I can find. And that’s going to be, it’s going to help us build a great audience, and somebody out of there is going to want to hire us and give us a call and hire us. And so that was that was the depth of the strategy. And obviously, that is not much of a strategy. But thankfully, 30 days later, even though we knew zero, we successfully launched a five-day week podcast, we did build an audience. Nobody called us from the audience and said, Hey, we want you to be our agency. We figured out how to monetize it later. But you know, it has been very successful. The single best business development thing we could have ever done for our agency.

That’s great. I mean, you know what, the message I want to make sure that resonates with people as challenges give rise to these new opportunities. So you know, the earlier challenge of losing revenue losing clients gave an opportunity to launch a much bigger platform. So you know, that’s amazing. And How did you come about, like, you know, being in that position of, of challenge, How did you think about launching a podcast?

You know, I had recently been a guest on a couple of shows, specifically, you know, John Lee Dumas had me as a guest on his show, EO fire, which was a lot of fun. And, and then I was a guest on, you know, one or two other shows, radio shows that kind of stuff. But I mean, really, that was the depth of the knowledge. I knew that podcasting was growing. But we had to do something.

And so it’s kind of like, Well, I was just recently a guest a couple of months ago. So let’s try that. And, and so I would love to say that I looked at the analytics, and I looked at data, and I looked at that amount and all of that kind of stuff. But honestly, I didn’t, it was one of those whispers of the Spirit. And it was kind of like, Well, I think we’re going to do that in and we committed to it and did it.

 Awesome. That’s great. So how did it evolve? How did the show evolve over time? Like, you know, I’ve had my personal experience, like when I started, the first few episodes, were not really you know, that. Good. So how did it work out for you, like, tell us about that journey?

Yeah, it was, it was scary at first. And you know, thankfully, a lot of our initial guests were are friends of mine. And so I knew two things. One, they would be relatively easy yeses to they would provide exceptional content because they’re super wicked smart. In three, they’re also really well connected. So I knew that if they said yes, and they shared their smarts with, with our audience, that then when they shared that episode with their audience, our audience would grow. Yeah. And thankfully, that’s exactly what happened. Because they’re super generous people. They came onto the show and shared everything and full transparency. And then they were kind enough to take the episode and share it with their community and say, you gotta listen to the show, because not only did he interview me, he’s interviewed other super smart people, like this person, this person, this person, and then all of a sudden, like, jeez, we’re 30 countries, holy bananas, we’re 40 countries, holy bananas. We’re in 70 countries, and now we’re in 120 countries, but it was because our guests were kind enough to do that for us.

Well, it’s a growing community, for sure. And I think you, you found a very good medium, because as you said, it just snowballs. Because the audience that you are trying to gain sort of, you know, you can get a fraction of your audience from your guest’s audience, and then it just snowballs. That’s amazing, amazing thing about podcasting. So, you know, obviously, we have a lot of entrepreneurs and professionals in our audience. So will you recommend them starting a podcast and you know, using this as a medium for business development, personal brand development and whatnot?

Well, I’m certainly you know, pro podcasting.

But I don’t consider myself a podcaster. I consider myself a business person who happens to have a podcast. Yeah. So do I think that every business person should have a podcast cast? Not necessarily, because you know, it needs to align with their gifts and interests. And I think it really aligns well, for somebody like you who’s naturally curious, who wants to learn things, who wants to be a conduit of smarts and pass that on to an audience. There are a lot of great benefits to podcasting. So just kind of taking that step back here, and maybe going a little bit higher, higher level beyond podcasting. I think without a doubt, every business owner needs to get more intentional about their thought leadership, about building authority, about being helpful to an audience about sharing their smarts and the smarts of others so that the audience gets better as a result of that. I think everybody needs to think about their thought leadership and authority and how that ties into business development, how they can fill a sales pipeline. I think every business owner absolutely ought to be thinking about that, whether that’s a podcast, whether it’s YouTube, whether that’s a blog, whether that’s writing a book, doesn’t matter, getting really intentional about how they can be helpful to an audience. Every business owner needs to do that.

Yeah that’s for sure. Well said. And you know, podcasting is just one of the medium. So, now let’s talk about, you know, having launched the podcast getting traction, how did you figure out how to make money out of it? Because as you said, you know, your initial strategy of getting direct clients did not work out maybe initially. But so how did you turn things around?

Yeah, in here, again, I would love to say that it was this grand strategy that we had, but it wasn’t that. So what ended up happening was, a couple of months after the show was live. We had one of our guests come to me and say, Hey, could you do that? For me? I’m like, do what for you? And he’s like, Oh, my gosh, seriously, could you build me a podcast? You know, onward nations. Cool. It’s awesome. Because, you know, for me, I’m interested in doing that for my business. And so we thought, yes, we can absolutely, we can do that for you. And so we did, and we made a little bit of money. And, and, you know, we didn’t kill ourselves and sort of figured out kind of a process. And then, and then a couple of months after that, after that show was launched, the same business owner came back to me, his name is Drew McClellan, and he is the CEO of Agency Management Institute. And he said, Look, the podcast you built for me? It’s awesome. Your podcast is awesome. Why in the world? Are you not doing that for other people? And I’m like, Who? Who would we do it for? He’s like, oh, for Pete’s sake, you’ve you at that point, I interviewed a couple of hundred people. And he’s like, why don’t you go back to people who said yes to being a guest on your show. They’re clearly business owners who are sort of aligned with podcasting since they’ve already been a guest. And ask them if they like to have their own show. And I’m like, Oh, my gosh, that’s brilliant. So we call it the Trojan horse, the sales and guess what I sat down as in sent out 23 emails one Sunday and mid-November of 2015. Yeah, that’s about 23 emails. 16. People said, Yes, they’d have a phone call with me. Six people bought it. Wow. So in literally a few weeks, we sold $223,000 with the podcast services.

Wow

Yeah. And I and I said, holy bananas, we are onto something. And so we completely changed and pivoted the company predictive. And, the onward nation became our Trojan horse to sales. And in today, it’s driven $3 million in business development into predictive life. It’s unbelievably awesome.

Amazing, amazing. Alright, so now let’s talk some tactics. Maybe. So you know, if you’re willing to share, like, what do you do? Actually, you know, as you put a build this Trojan horse, like, Is there a specific call to action? Or how do you build that funnel?

Okay, so for first, it’s getting super intentional about who you’re inviting to be a guest on your show. Yeah. And making sure that they fit what we like to call the dream 25 avatar there is, there, you know, thinking and kind of in the business to business kind of frame here. They are a client that you would like to be doing business with, but for whatever reason, have not received an at-bat yet. Wow. So you build that list? Yeah. And then you invite them to be a guest on your show. And you invite them to be a guest on your show because they’re super smart. They’ve had a great track record. They could really add value to your audience. They’re, they’re a generous person, they might be an existing thought leader, right? And so Hey, would you be a guest on my show? I really admire your career, what you do with that strategic transaction, when you acquired that company, that was amazing. I don’t know how you ever thought of that idea. I would love to learn more about it. Would you share that with my audience? I think they could learn a lot from you if you’d be kind enough to share. Yeah, that person says yes, comes on to your show, you have a rocking awesome interview, you air the episode, you tag that person or social so they get all those notifications on the day that it airs. And then what we do is we have a very, very specific process downstream from the episode. So 30 days after the episode airs, they get a gift from us, it’s a framed quote of something smart that they shared. And it’s in a beautiful box. It’s an elegant frame, it’s matte, it’s gorgeous, it looks like something that they would be honored to put on their desk, or hang on their wall. And it has absolutely nothing to do with onward nation, it is all about them 100% of the time, then then 30 days later, you know, we share a book 30 days later after that with a handwritten note for me, 30 days after that, they get it, they get featured in an Ebook along with two other guests. You know, 120 days after the episode, they might get a box of cookies from us with their logo on it. A few days after that, or 30 days after that, they’ll get featured in our E-newsletter. And a long-form LinkedIn post will feature them in some video work. So there’s a schedule every 30 days where they’re getting featured in something awesome. Now, and then after that, I’ll reach out to him and say, Hey, you know, when you came on to the show, first of all, again, thanks. We had an awesome conversation.

And when you came on to the show, you mentioned x. And that made me think about y. And we do why here predictive ROI really, really well. Say, is there a day or time next week that we can sit down and talk about that? The person is likely going to say yes, because of everything that we have done to invest in that relationship.

Awesome. That’s great. Works. One very good insight. That’s eye opening for sure. So now let’s talk about you know, podcasting industry in general, how have you like, you know, what is your perception about the quality of shows? Is there quality increasing over time? Or is it getting more sort of egocentric in terms of you know, the content that’s put out there?

Yeah, I think there are some exceptional shows. I think the vast majority of the shows are not good. So I think there are definitely more shows.

And not every show can be good. Yeah. Right. And but I think that’s great for like your show. I mean, you’re in the top iTunes ranking. Why? Because it’s a good show, you ask good questions, you have great guests. Awesome. And not everybody can be in the top, you know, 200 or top 150, I think is where you’re at. Not everybody can be that. But the cream rises to the rises to the top. Right. Yeah. And so even though there are more shows, I think there’s still just a handful of really good shows.

Yeah. True. So what are some of your insights? Like, you know, obviously, you know, getting the right guests, smart people on the show asking the right questions. Apart from that, is there any other like, you know, tips or tricks or secrets that you have to, you know, rise in the, in the ranks?

Yeah so, you know, iTunes evaluates the quality of the episode. And they, at least to my knowledge, hold that in pretty high regard. So the show has to be good, or it will never make it onto the rankings, like ever. So that’s the first thing. The so you know, for your listeners who are thinking about having a podcast, make sure that it’s not all going to flick on a microphone, and I’m going to record some audio, and I’m gonna throw it in iTunes, and I’m going to be an iTunes Rockstar that it does not work that way. So you need a strategy, you need to be really good and really mindful and have great guests and all the things you just said. And then, and then making sure that you reach out to your audience and say, I’d be grateful if you could give me a rating and review. And not just a rating, it really means a lot to me, if you could write me a review. Yeah. And then every 60 days asking your audience to do that, obviously taking them out of the list, if they’ve already done it so that you can start to build the reviews, I know that you’ve been successful in getting some reviews. And it’s critical is the lifeblood of the iTunes ranking. So then beyond that, it is as far as building an audience. You know, we’ve I know several business owners who invested who have invested thousands of dollars in promoting episodes on social, I would not suggest that your audience does that. I would really suggest focusing on good quality audio ratings and reviews. And then asking guys to take that episode into their network and making it easy for them to do that. Pre-formatted social media links, all of the artwork, snippets of email tags, you know, things that they can just copy, paste really easy, and be your greatest advocates because they will do that.

Awesome. Those are great tips. Thanks a lot. Now, let’s talk about the psychological aspect of, you know, putting yourself out there, it takes a lot to, you know, to be on camera or even on the mic and put your voice and face out there. How do you like did you have any issues with that? And how did you overcome them?

Oh, my gosh, I had a ton. Yeah, I mean, I was, I was scared to death. I mean, thankfully. You know, Episode Number one is with Scott McCain, and incredible, incredible speaker, member of the National Speakers Association Hall of Fame. I mean, you know, BMW hires him for his insights around the distinction. I mean, the guy is a rock star. And thankfully, he also happens to be a good friend. And so he said yes to be. I mean, nobody wants to be the guest of Episode One. He was kind enough to say yes. And, and I was so nervous. I was awful. And thankfully, he was great.

I mean, I knew that he would be great, but I was terrible. I was so nervous. Yeah. It took me because I’m probably a little bit slower learner than everybody else. It took me to Episode 77 until I felt confident. Right?

Yeah, I mean, I can share similar stories, like, you know, as I said, first few episodes were not really good, but the content was not bad. But I think the message is, you know, you just do it, and then don’t worry about how terrible it is. Just get it going. And then you learn and improve over time. And, you know, the 50th episode will be much better than the first one and so on. Yeah,

You know, in I also had people around me who were willing, because they cared about me, they were willing to kick me out of the nest. So for example, last May, so this would have been may of 2018. We launched our YouTube series, so a weekly YouTube series. And I had shared going into 2018 on our nation, like in December of 2017. And then January 2018, hey, this is big. This is something we’re going to do. This is like this big thing. This next-level of, you know, sharing content. We’re going to build out a YouTube series and, and I started talking about it for a couple of months. And then Catherine on our team, Catherine Bessler, who’s our Director of content marketing came to me and said, when we launching that, and I kept dragging my feet because I didn’t want to be on video. Yeah, I started getting scared about it. I’m like, oh, I gotta talk into a camera. This is going to be dumb. Anyway, until she said, you know, look, you promised, you said, you’ve been talking about it for a long time and onward nation episodes, you’re going to get this darn thing launched by May 3, 2018. Or there’s going to be hell to pay. And, actually, she didn’t say quite that eloquently. I felt a little fear when she said it to me. And so I’m like, okay, I better get this thing done, or else, you know, I’m letting a lot of people down, I broke my promise. And so you know, it, there is a huge benefit to having people in your inner circle who care about you, and who will speak to you in a way that holds you accountable. I think every business owner needs that type of person.

Yeah, for sure. And that was a good strategy too, you know, to make that commitment so that people can have leverage and, and force you to do that. So, yeah, yeah. All right. So how, how do you? How do you frame your mistakes? Like, you know, what kind of mistakes did you make? And what lessons did you learn from them?

So mistakes within with respective podcast?

Yeah, sure. You know, it could be even before you started the podcast, do you do with your past clients? Anything that you, you know, we all make mistakes, especially in entrepreneurial journeys, right?

Yeah, I think oftentimes, this will sound a little bit generic, and then I’ll try to kind of break it down and make it a little bit more tactical, or helpful, I guess. I think oftentimes, the mistakes that are made is because we just didn’t listen. It’s like all the evidence was there, all the data points were there for whatever reason, we just didn’t listen.

And so I make mistakes all the time. And when I think back, I’m like, Oh, well, it’s miscommunication. You know, that person said that to me, and that I interpreted it wrong. And so I misunderstood and therefore made a mistake, or, you know, back in 2013, when Darren Hardy when he was publisher Success Magazine, when he was a member of our board of advice, risers, and he’s trying to help me plan this, you know, major event, you know, working with myself and members of our team to plan this event, predictive ROI live, and we’d rent it out in contracted with the Ritz Carlton in Orlando, Florida for almost the entire hotel for three nights. Yeah, the $2 million operating budget for the event. It was it was it was unbelievably big. And any kept saying to me, you know, during all our phone calls, and when we get together in person, hey, why would anybody want to go to this thing? Like, why would they want to go to this thing? I mean, you’re going to be there. You know, Gary Vader, Chuck’s gonna be there. Don Yeager is going to be there, Scott McCain’s going to be there. Why would anybody want to go to this? He’s like, You’re crazy. If you think someone’s going to pay $8,000. And come and listen to me and Gary talk, you’re nuts. And I’m like, What? And so every month, or every few weeks, he kept asking me the question, the value proposition question, and I ignored it.

To the point where when we open it up for sale, we sold three, three, we sold three seats. Wow. We’re expecting 350.

So we ended up having to cancel the event. It cost predictive ROI. $200,000 in cash? Wow. Not awesome. Yeah. And why? Because I refuse to listen to the lesson that Darren was trying to teach me over and over and over again, and I refuse to listen.

Yeah, yeah, that’s amazing, amazing story. All right. Now, before we run out of time, I want to talk about that patent-pending, formal our model that you have come up with, or tell us a little bit about that?

Well, it is actually I mean, it sounds great. It’s really not that complicated. So you know, back in, actually, the roots of it are back in 2008 2009, when I really started getting much deeper into search engine optimization, which I guess started in five, and six, but in really trying to wrestle it, you know, like, like, come up with a series of steps that any business owner can actually use it, even if they weren’t like some sort of techno-wizard, you know, how could somebody really approach search and do well within Google. And so we came up with 15 steps, wrote a book about it. And it was the first book that I wrote the small business owners handbook to search engine optimization. And what’s funny is, although most SEO experts today wouldn’t tell you this, is that those common 15 steps. Now some of them you can’t use today, because truly the algorithm has changed, or formatting has changed that kind of stuff, or whatever. But largely, most of them still work, how to format the page title correctly, how to format the meta description correctly. Anyway. So once we put that into practice, and start getting some traction companies from asking us, hey, if we did that, like, Where do you think our traffic will go? Yeah, like, interesting question. So then we started predicting traffic based on keywords. And then and then and then we started getting good at predicting where the ranking would actually be. If we applied these steps. Using those keywords, we can start to predict where somebody would actually rank with a rank at five, where they rank at seven, where they rank within the top 10, where they rank number one. And then once we started that, then we started getting some data about, well if somebody is the number one organic rank in Google, they’re probably going to get about 42 and a half percent of the click-through rate because we have that data from Google. Yeah. Like, Okay, wait a minute, this is actually this calculus isn’t that complicated. This is actually just basic algebra. Right? So we knew what the variables were. And so then we started being able to put that together if we knew what a client’s keywords were, and we knew what the daily searches were, and we knew what the rank was going to be. And we knew what the click-through rate was going to be. And we knew what the cost per lead was, we knew what the cost per acquisition or cost per lead, or when we knew what the average value of the sale was. And we knew what the sales teams closure rate was. And we knew like the kind of average or I already said that average value of a sale, if we needed all that together and basic algebra, we could predict that if we took X number of pages, and we optimize those for search, yeah, yeah, then we could get really, really good about predicting traffic leads, and sales and holy bananas. It actually worked.

That’s great. So is that how you now present your service to your clients, like you use this formula and in your business and your clients, businesses?

We used to for probably the first six years of our business, we built the entire business around that. And we do some of it today, because search is not as important to us today, as it was, you know, a few years ago, not that it’s not important. It’s just not as important. So when we’re in those search conversations, absolutely. When a business owner is talking about thought leadership, and being able to predict what’s going to happen, well, if I get really successful on YouTube, or I get really successful in podcast, and then I build out my rocking awesome blog. How does that benefit my sales team? Sure, we still have those conversations, just not as often as we used to.

Yeah, awesome. That’s great. All right. This has been a very enlightening interview. Thanks a lot for sharing the tactics and strategies. Is there anything else that I haven’t asked about digital marketing or entrepreneurship that you may want to share with the audience?

Oh, gosh, you know, I think just looping back to sort of the fear piece, which I tie into the imposter syndrome often, which is something obviously very common, I didn’t come up with it. But I think every business owner faces the imposter syndrome. Every single person, no matter how outwardly confident they are, or how I’m not afraid of anything, whatever. Every single person that has ever walked the face of the earth has dealt with the imposter syndrome. So I mentioned me that because I think sometimes business owners feel like they’re uniquely burdened with that. Like, they’re the only one that is yoked with that same problem, like, Oh, my gosh, I have this confidence issue, every single person has dealt with it. The difference is, will you be one of those people that actually confronts the fear, it gets past it, it moves into steps into your greatness and your destiny, because Don’t let the imposter syndrome, Rob your destiny, because that’s what he wants to do. You are a more amazing, awesome, incredible, confident, beautiful, super-smart business owner than what you give yourself credit for. So kick the fear to the curb where it belongs, in, do what you need to get done in order to share your greatness with the world.

That’s so inspirational. Thank you so much. Now, before I let you go, can you tell us a little bit about your company and how they can reach you? The audience can reach you?

Oh, sure. Thanks for that. So predictiveroi dot com is the best place to find us. Somebody wants to find me personally. LinkedIn is a great place. So just hit me up Stephen Woessner on LinkedIn. And then and then our chief mission is is to help business owners get intentional about their thought leadership, build authority, and then monetize that content. I mean, in a nutshell, that’s what we do.

All right. Great. Thank you so much. As they said, It was an amazing experience talking to you. Hopefully, you’ll be back on another episode.

Awesome. Thanks for having me. Thank you so much.

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