Listen to the full interview here ( 30:34 minutes)
Welcome to the art of obtaining clients podcast. I’m your host, Zak Hesterberg, and in each episode I interviewed successful entrepreneurs and professionals to learn their exact secrets and strategies to keep building and retaining and massive levels of clientele. Let’s go and meet our guest today.
What’s going on everybody? Today we have my man, Tom Schwab. Tom Schwab is the owner of interview valet. He helps his customers go from obscure to a claim that with targeted podcast interviews as the father of podcast interview marketing. He has spoken at leading conferences like inbound and pod fest. He has literally written the book on how to turn listeners into leads. His company interview Valet helps thought leaders like authors, speakers, coaches, and emerging brands. Use a new strategy to convert traffic 25 times better than blogs. Tom, are you ready to go today? Zach? I am awesome. Love it. Tom, first of all, thank you so much for hopping on the show. I appreciate you taking out the time of your day to speak with me. It’s always great to speak with you and, uh, if we can share what, uh, what we talk about with the world that’s even better.
Cool. So first of all, let’s, I mean, I’m very familiar with interview valet. That’s actually how we even got on this, uh, this, this podcast in general today. But can you go ahead and give my listeners a quick breakdown of really what the company does? Sure. And the way I look at it is every company’s biggest problem is that they’re obscure, right? They’ve got a great product or service that could help people if those people already knew about them. So what interview valet does and really podcast interview marketing does, is we work with inspiring thought leaders, coaches, authors, speakers, um, emerging brands to get them on the podcast that their customers are already listening to, you know, instead of breaking through the noise, which I don’t think you can do, you get in on the conversation that your ideal customers are already listening to. And then we work with our clients, not just to get them on the podcast.
We really work with them in order to turn that podcast appearance to turn their listeners into your customers. So we’re a full, full service agency, you know, our thing is that you’re the guest, you’re the talent and we take care of all the rest. Cool. Very cool. And for those of you who, uh, who do not know, if you guys are listening and you might actually be a podcast or yourself, you guys got to get hooked up with interview Valet because for instance, I did and I immediately within like a week booked three or four interviews from you guys and it’s free for the podcast or to use, correct? Correct. We are, our business model is that we, um, we charge and we serve our guests and that everything we do for the host is free. So that way there’s no conflict of interest. There’s a, there’s some people out there that play both sides of it and I’ve always looked at that and said, uh, we want to stay away from that conflict of interest.
Okay, cool. So guys, uh, the, the purpose of this is not to sell you on interview valet, although I could because it’s that great of a servicing company. Uh, but Tom, let’s dive deep a little bit into, first of all, how did you get started with, uh, the, the overall thought of the company and then how did you start going and getting your first few clients? Sure. So really the idea came from our customers, right? I always say as business owners, we’ve got opinions. You can hire a consultant that has an opinion, but it’s your customers that have the answers. So my background is inbound marketing, using content to attract, engage and delight customers and for a decade content net blogs. And one of the things that I saw about four or five years ago was that the blogs were getting saturated, right? They, they weren’t converting as well in truth is they never really converted that well.
So, you know, a good blog would convert one to two percent. So if 100 people read it and you might get one or two, that would become a lead. So I looked at it and said about five years ago, blog, or excuse me, podcast, we’re starting to take off, but to start your own podcast at that time was tough and you know, even when you start the podcast, you may not have a whole lot of listeners, so looked at, said saying, could you do the same thing we used to do with guest blogs? Right? Instead of starting a blog and putting a post up there and getting it read by three people, one of them being your mother, get on an established platform, you know, get on Huffington Post, Wall Street Journal Inc, something like that, and tap into their audience, get that know, like, and trust. So what we did is we started to test that and say, could we do this same thing on podcasts and interviews.
And Zach, I was amazed at the results. Um, we had traffic converting from visitors to leads at 25 to 50 percent. And originally I thought, no, it’s too good to be true. It’s because of somebody’s personality or the niche they’re in. So we kept testing it and kept refining it. And realizing, no, this is an actual system, uh, it’s reproducible and you know, you can use other people’s podcasts to talk to their audience and make them, you know, your customers. So really, that’s how we got into it was really following what our, um, our customers wanted, you know, they, they hated doing blogs, um, to me, uh, and a lot of people that was homework but talking on a podcast that was fond, so as we used to say in the navy knows, right answer when told. So when the customer keeps asking for something, a give it to them.
Yeah, it’s, it’s interesting in the fact that most, I probably, most of my, uh, my listeners right now are usually b to c companies and a few of them might be to b, but you are in the interesting aspect of instead of just like, like you might have your paid clients, but you also have to worry about getting the other side of the perspective which is getting podcasters. Um, so whenever you were starting off to build the company that you go and find the podcast is first and then went and found the, uh, the actual potential guests or did you find the guests and then say, cool, now we have to go track down the podcasts. You know, I think it’s a combination of both. So when we got great guests it was easier to reach out to the podcast host and build that relationship and to serve them.
And then you have other ones. One of the things that we learned really early on that was a mistake is we tried to take any great customer. So if you had a great story and we thought you’d be great on podcast, we’d work with them. And the problem was, is the wasn’t a whole lot of synergy there and you didn’t have the relationships with the podcast or to keep bringing them great guests. Um, so really early on we focused and said we just do three verticals, right? So we do business faith and Christianity and health, nutrition and wellness with us where we want to build the relationships. And it’s not necessarily where our clients are, but where their customers are so that, you know, the riches are in the niches. We wanted to build the relationship in those niches, knowing that if we could serve that niche well, the riches would come out of it.
Very cool. And so, uh, let’s just say like, take us back to whenever you first launched and you said, okay, now we have to go find a few of our first guests are a few of our first paying guests. How do you go find them at the time and then how has that evolved to what you guys are doing now? To me, I’m getting clients. Um, I think there are so many potential clients out there. We live in a different world. We live in a world of abundance, right? You’ve got the ability to reach out to hundreds of millions of customers. And the thing is, is that you probably only need a handful in order to be successful, at least when we started. That’s all we needed, right? So, um, I didn’t need to do a, a huge facebook marketing campaign to reach 10,000 people because I didn’t need that. So what we started to do is just say, the first few people that we tested were coaches and we’re like, this works awesome for them.
So we started to reach out to other coaches and really the way we’ve built our business, and I’m real transparent on this, that a third of our customers come from here and be on a podcast interview. A third of them come from current clients that tell other people about us and then a third of them come from critical business relationship. So marketing firms that we work with, publishers that we work with, um, a podcasters that we work with. So that’s where we’ve always sort of focused on it. So finding those initial customers, a lot of times if you can find, you know, three or four people that you can have success with, they’ll go out and find your, the more customers so they each find one new customer. You just doubled the size of your business. And it’s easier to find them now because you can point back and say what worked really well for these people and if, if there’s a certain demographic that you’re like, they’re nice people but they’re don’t work well for us.
Like for us originally we had uh, so people that came to us and said, I want to use podcasts, interviews just to build my brand, but after six months they’re like, I’m not seeing an Roi. And I’m like, I don’t know how you figure out Roi from facebook likes and twitter engagement. So they didn’t, they didn’t have anything to really to get business results out of. So with that we just looked at and said, those probably aren’t our ideal customers. So we really just kept doubling down on, on our most ideal customers. And so at how large has the company gotten since? I’m sorry, what was the year that you said that you had first started? Uh, sure, we, uh, we started in Beta a, the end of 2015. We took it out of Beta at the beginning of 2016. Okay. So yeah, right. Right now we serve about 80 clients.
Uh, we’re on a run rate now of about, uh, doing a, a million dollars. We’ve got a growth that we want to end 2018, uh, at uh, a million point seven. Um, and right now we’ve got a team of 12 people on board all us based, um, you know, I figured that not everybody in the world wants to, um, to live in Kalamazoo, Michigan with me, so we draw from the best talent throughout the world and I have to laugh because I’m like, yeah, 12. But uh, if we recorded this interview next week it will be 15. Yeah. Yeah. Cool. Okay, well thank you for. Thank you for sharing that. So now I’m really curious, you are a man that knows a whole, whole lot about podcasting and obviously seeing as your entire business is basically built off of it. I’m curious, do you know, uh, just off the top of your head, how many total podcasts have you been featured on?
I’ve been on over a thousand and I always correct people when they’re like, you know, a lot about podcasting and then they’ll say, well, how do I start my podcast? How do I do this from the opposite end of the spectrum? I look at that and I, I can introduce you to a lot of brilliant people and understand that I’ve got, you know, we’ve got a, a zone of genius. I know how to use podcast interviews, a podcast placements to grow your business. And I’m, uh, you know, it’s one of the problems we all have as businesses that your customers come to you and say, could you do this because they like working with you. They trust you. Um, but, uh, we just tell them, you know, could, could we help you build your website? Could we help you launch your podcast? It’s like we probably could.
It’s probably in our zone of competency, but we, we only work in our zone of genius, you know, let me introduce you to someone where that is their zone of genius. Yeah. Very cool. So, um, I have two questions that I’m itching to ask him that I don’t think it really matters which one asked for. So right now I’m going to first say since you’ve been on over a thousand interviews, what are some of the best shows that you have been on or most memorable shows and what has made those stand out to you? Like, uh, as far as being a guest, what has made it such a great experience for you? To me it’s when it’s an authentic conversation, you know, in, in those thousand shows, there were some that, I swear they were going through a list of 10 questions and if I would have answered the question, you know, I, um, I just killed my wife and her bloody bodies at my feet.
They would have gone good and gone onto the next question is like listening. I’m the, I, to me the best interviews are the ones where it’s an authentic dialogue, you know, it was just like this where we’re having a conversation back and forth. And sometimes when people ask the tough questions, questions that I hadn’t thought of and it caused me to pause and uh, my wife listens to a lot of my interviews and she can tell, uh, at times when, um, uh, when I, uh, I choke up or I tear up, you know, when somebody says, you know, keeps pressing, why did you start this business? Why is it so important? And um, I mean, it’s like a therapy session that I didn’t have to pay for when I explained to them that, you know, I grew up in a small town in the Midwest.
My, my world was small and it got really rich when I got to know more people and my world got bigger and I said, that’s the, that’s the thing is I love introducing people. I love meeting people. And you know, the richness of your life is the richness of your relationships. And, you know, um, I, I, if you put me in solitary confinement, I would probably commit suicide within a day. God forbid it never happens. But um, you know, I hear it live in Kalamazoo and I get to work with people around the world and you know, when people start digging into those, those deep questions and the wise, those are always the best podcast and interviews, you know, nobody wants to listen to two bullet points. Yeah. So, and I was asking that because I want my listeners to be able to think a little bit outside of the box and see what they can potentially be doing differently in their business to help us stand out.
And obviously podcasts are a little bit different than businesses, but personally from just what you said there, I think that one of the best. I’m the best takeaways as far like let’s just say you’re a service based business, whatever your hairstylist, you’re a gym owner, whatever that is. I think one of the biggest ones there is that people can really get connected to you. When you talk about your why, right? So taking, I’m taking Simon cynics a book that’s actually start with why they book. The entire book talks about how, like for instance, a, he used the example of apple and uh, and I think he compares them to like Intel. It’s like people think of Intel as a computer company and it doesn’t matter if Intel made a phone, people wouldn’t buy it because they’re a computer company, but when you think of apple, people know apple as, oh, they’re just, they’re everything technology like they make our lives easier, it’s user friendly, et Cetera, et cetera.
So they focus on the why and it doesn’t matter what they do because people are become a fan of it. And so just like for instance, you, you personally like being on podcasts that you can talk about, your wife are starting your business and that has a more emotional connection with you and it makes those podcast interviews sending out. So personally that’s just my, my two, my two cent takeaway from that. Would you agree? Disagree? What are your thoughts? I totally agree with you on that. And I think people buy from those they know, like, and trust. And that was the, that was true for our grandparents and that will be true for our grandchildren. That doesn’t change, right? We wanted to work with people that we like. M and a great example here is the scheduling software I use. I love acuity scheduling and why?
Because Gavin Sick Lewinsky is a neat guy that I heard on a podcast interview that he told the story and told why he’s building the company and how they do it. Now there’s calendly schedule once. There’s, there’s dozens of them out there. I don’t know if they all work the same, you know, I like Gavin, I mean I like his story and I talk about him and his company and that’s what really stands, stands out there. Um, so I think, uh, if you want to stand out, you’ve got to be more of yourself. Because the thing is, is the, the worst business advice I ever got, Zach was for my grandfather. I was like 17 years old, pulled off to the navy and he told me, always choose carefully who you drink with because you can’t choose who you work with. Now, for him it was true, right?
He was a mechanic and a small town. For us, it’s different. We get to choose who we work with. So, uh, be yourself. Let people know who you are. And if they don’t resonate with that, that’s fine. They’re not, it doesn’t mean they’re bad people, they’re just a bad fit for you. We’ve all got the opportunity to work with our ideal customers. Yeah, I couldn’t have said it better myself. There it, it’s really just about the fact that like, really there are so there are so many people in the world, so many businesses in the world, so many, uh, so many opportunities out there and when they’re there so often in society that you see people try to fit a mold to what they think they need to be, but when they are just themselves, the right people are attracted to that. You might lose a few of your fake friends regardless, but you don’t need them anyway if they like you for the wrong reasons.
So, and same thing with customers, right? So you need to truly build your business and be yourself, uh, in doing so because the right people will be attracted to that and the wrong people won’t. And those are the best business relationships that you’re going to want in the first place. And when you have those relationships, when you’re dealing with your ideal customers, you do your best work. They love it, you enjoy it. All of a sudden it doesn’t become work. It becomes more of art. Yeah. Yeah, definitely. Um, well, okay. So I was going to ask one other question and I still will get there, but based off what we just said, I would be naive, uh, in, in red, say rather dumb to miss the opportunity to say, Tom, I got, I have to ask, and I don’t mean to mimic everyone else, but I want to know the real true emotional reason that brought you into entrepreneurship.
What really got you into it and what inspired you to really take the leap of faith to, to, to go into this? It has to go back and, you know, like I said, I grew up in the midwest and the whole idea was get a stable job and you’ll have a great life, right? And so, um, I was blessed enough to go to the US Naval Academy was in the navy and the whole idea was, well, just stay there for 20 years and you can retire and you’ll have a great life. Well, I had done everything I wanted there. Um, the, it was putting stress on my family. Um, so I, I, I left and I got another stable job, right? And I worked in fortune 500 and worked my way from being an engineer to operations, distribution, sales and marketing was actually running my own distributor ship when the big, uh, the great recession hit, right?
And that’s when the manufacturer said, you know, we want to cut out the middleman, which makes a whole lot of sense until you look in the mirror, Zach, and you realize, hey, I’m the middle of the mountain. And he did the right thing by me. But it was at that point that I realized that in my heart I was always an entrepreneur, but I, oh, school’s going the things that I was taught as a kid, you know, find a stable job, um, you know, that’s what you need to do. And I realized that whether or not that stable job is, uh, is the government or a corporation, those things can change. And the biggest stability really is the ability to produce. And before I was producing for one manufacturer or one client and I’d much rather produce from multiple clients, there’s much more stability in that. So what kept me from, from being an entrepreneur was that fear of stability and when what got me to be an entrepreneur is when I realized that true stability is from serving multiple customers.
Yeah. Yeah. I actually, I’m very similar to you. I mean, well, it definitely not a as well rounded as a historian, whatnot because I’m only 23 years old. But, um, I, it, I’m also in the Midwest. I’m in St Louis, Missouri, a well, a little bit outside of that, about a half hour outside and uh, born and raised with my parents telling me, go go to school, go get your degree, go get a good job and get benefits and retire there and that’s the most stable thing you could do for your entire future. And so that’s what I grew up believing. And then, um, I had a teacher actually in college in my freshman year. He really challenged my thoughts and uh, he was, he was actually going through the entire room and just tearing apart people’s majors. Um, and so this guy was a, he was a personal finance teacher, but he was a banker.
Uh, he actually owned a bank in town and he was going from, from major to major, just tearing apart people, especially like when he got to the music theory major, she’s like, what? He’s like, what the f are you going to do with that? Um, and then, but then he ended up giving some advice of like, Hey, I suggest you maybe start your own something. And almost everything was leading back down to the dealership and when he got to me I was a little scared, a little not because I was like, it is, it’s a business major. And I knew everything he was relating back to is relating back to business. And so I was like, well yeah, like my major is marketing. He’s like, okay. He’s like. And he sat there for a second. He’s like, well, you could really screw up with that one or you could really do something good.
And it’s like, okay, well tell me each. He’s like, so you screw up by going and working for one company. He’s like, you screw up by by working for a Coca Cola and being their marketing person. He’s like, because they will eventually cut your job and outsource to an agency. He’s like, you do better by working for an agency because even if the agency loses a client, generally they will have more clients and you will not. Your entire job will not be generally really relying on that one client for the agency. He was like, but you do the best by if you’re interested in marketing. He’s like, you need to start your own marketing agency because then you could work, you could do work for Coca Cola and Pepsi and whatever, whether it be competitors or whoever. He’s like, it doesn’t matter because you choose who you work with and if you lose a client who cares because you should have other clients that that’s a that you’re working with too.
And he’s like, that’s the ultimate form of stability and that’s actually what inspired me and I’m not sure if you know much about my personal background in my actual like job or what I truly do for my career, but I do digital marketing now and that teacher truly inspired me to think in that direction. So, uh, I’m, I’m with you as far as that. It’s interesting just being in the midwest growing up, hearing that and having to switch your mindset because I think so oftentimes people will take the wrong advice from loved ones that they’ve, they’ve been born and raised by their parents or by the, by their uncles, their family, whatever. And then they take this advice, but ultimately it’s really not the best advice
and I think they’ve got good hearts. But to me the stupidest questions, you know, there’s no such thing as a stupid question. Well, this one’s a stupid question right now. When people say, where do you work at? And it’s like the work is something you do, not a location you go to. And then the other question I have is, what’s your job? Job is a title, right? Nobody gets it. Nobody gets paid for a title. Really the question is, is who do you help? Who Do you serve? What problems do you solve? So don’t you know, I, I always hated it when they ask kids, you know, so what are you going to do after high school? You know, what? You know what, uh, what field are you going to go into? What job are you going to get? You know, I don’t know that that’s gonna change by the time they get out of college. And Yep. You know, the question is, who are you going to serve? Who are you going to help? What problems are you going to solve? If you can answer those questions, you can make money if you just got a degree or a job. A good luck.
Yeah. Cool. That’s golden right there. Um, awesome. Well, Tom, I’m going to go back to my other question that I had from a little bit a little bit ago. Whenever you, once again going back to the moment that you said you’d been on 1000 podcasts, interviews and uh, you’ve also, I mean, obviously you are a father, a podcasting interview marketing. I mean, you, you know a whole lot about it and I’m curious, what are your, one, two or three tips that you have to really get the most out of being on a podcast interview? Um, and maybe even getting leads out of it?
Sure. So let me show behind the curtain on this. The first thing is, is you can’t just tell a story, right? You got to give people what’s the next step. Um, and so give them something of value, right? So if I’m on a podcast, a lot of times I’ll say, hey, there’s six six secrets to get on your first podcast. I could list them all out, or there’s an infographic, or um, I wrote a book, it’s called podcast guest profits. If you really want it, you can buy it at Amazon, but I give more away. Um, so just, you know, I’ll give that away. And what I’ll do a lot of times is move them to a dedicated, what we call a welcome page. So here’s an example, if you go to interview valet.com, forward slash Zach Z, a c, h, our mutual friend, you’ll find everything that we talked about.
So that’s a problem that people make is they don’t give something of value to move people along and then they don’t give an easy place for them to go, right? Uh, so from the standpoint of telling them to find you on social media or email you or sign up for my newsletter and that’s not a compelling reason to move people forward. So, um, the things would be add extra value, give, give, give, give away as freebies. The second one is give them a place to go, um, which is that welcome page, you know, the interview valet.com forward slash Zach. The third one is that podcasts are a great place to tell their, an awful place to sell. So I love, um, uh, there’s a gentleman by the name of Rand Fishkin, he started a company called Seo Moz and it’s now just called Mohs. And uh, I’ll, I’ll bastardize this quote, a policies ran, but he basically said, the best way to sell something today is not to sell anything. Just let people know who you are. Let them know why you do things, who you can help and they’ll come to you. So that’s the same thing that I would say to you when you’re on a podcast. Don’t try to sell. Just tell people who you are, what you do, who you help, and they’ll come to you.
Yeah, I like that a lot. Well, thank you very much for, for sharing all that. And, uh, obviously there are a, our time’s running short here, so we’re going to have to move on to the last, uh, the last couple of questions on the show. Just basically another lightening round. So a five questions, I’ll ask the question, you’ll answer it really quick. So number one, what do you like most about yourself? Time, sense of humor. Okay. Number Two, knowing what you know now, take us back to the first year in your profession, starting your business, going in entrepreneurship. What is one piece of advice you wish you could’ve been told? Focus more on relationships. Number three, what is your favorite business or success related book?
Um, it would have to be play bigger how pirates dreamers and innovators create and dominate markets. Uh, I read that in 2016 and it changed the way I looked at business about being a, designing new categories, being better, or excuse me, not being better, but being different. M and a being the category king.
Okay. And I’m sorry, who is the author of that one?
It’s by a bunch of
people. Uh, Christopher lochhead is one of the authors, a bunch of Silicon Valley guys. Okay, cool. Guys, that book as well as Tom’s book will also be in the links or the links to that will be in the show notes on obtaining clients that come. Um, and then also number four. Tom, what is your number one goal you’d like to achieve personally in the next 12 months?
For me, it’s doing a triathlon. Uh, somebody challenged me on my hardest class in all of college. I had to take four years of swimming and it was my hardest class and he challenged me that I should do a triathlon. And he said every business owner should do one because there’s one part of that that you hate and it’s important to get back to things that doing that you don’t choose to do and realize what it’s like for a beginner. Okay. Are you going to do the full on Ironman? No, I said a triathalon. Not that I’ll do a sprint tire. Avalon. And uh, what’s that? The a 15 mile bike ride? A Five K and a swim. That to me will look like a swimming from Alcatraz, I’m sure. Okay, and number five, I’m leaving my guests
today. What is last or what is your one last piece of parting guidance that they can leave with today as far as like growing there
businesses? Sure. And if you’re listening to a podcast right now, which you are, you know, the power of this medium, right? And you know that more and more people are listening to it. So the only question is, is that in the future, you know, your ideal customers are going to be listening to podcasts. The question is, are they going to hear you? Are they going to hear? What are your competitors? Only you can answer that and it can be as a podcast host, it can be as a podcast guest or can be as both a, but it’s definitely a medium you can’t ignore.
That’s good. Yeah, that’s, that’s definitely good. And it really podcasting overall, I don’t know if anyone that’s listening to this has ever been to podcast movement, but um, the, it’s, it’s one of the bigger podcasting conferences in the country and every single year that that event gets bigger and bigger and bigger and overall podcasting as a whole is getting bigger and bigger and bigger. And I’m why not beyond one of the early trends and being able to be on a medium that’s growing and growing because that is your best opportunity to really shine and stand out and really good way for someone else to get a good sense of your personality. Really.
It isn’t, it, it’s also a lot of fun. Even for introverts that wouldn’t stand up in front of 10,000 people as you can get on the phone and talk with somebody like Zack here, have a great conversation and reach tens of thousands of people.
Love it. Well, Tom, thank you so much for hopping on the show today. And Hey, if my listeners would like to get in touch with you or follow your journey, uh, besides going to interview valet.com, forward slash Zach, z Ach, uh, is there any other ways that you would suggest they, they connect with you,
you know, on that page, I’ll put all my social media. I realized that you’re a, you’re probably multitasking as you’re doing this podcast. So I’ll put all my social media, my email there, even my calendar scheduling link if you want to grab a time on my calendar if you want to search for me. I am the only Tom Schwab in all of Kalamazoo. So if you go to my facebook you’ll see pictures of, uh, of my family. Uh, and if you go to linkedin you’ll see all my professional profile. Okay. Awesome. Cool. Well, Tom, thank you so much for hopping on the show today. It was seriously a pleasure having you Zach. It was great talking with you and I can’t wait till we get to talk again in real life.
If you have any more questions or want more information about today’s episode, head to the show notes page on upteam lions.com. If you’ve got anything out of this show, do me a favor and please leave a rating and review on itunes and be sure to subscribe to the show so much for listening and until next time, stay zesty.