Listen to the full interview here ( 21:37 minutes)
I’m David Shriner Kahn and this is smashing the plateau. No matter how successful you are, is probably at least one area where roadblocks are keeping you from fully achieving your goals. Fortunately, you’ve come to the right place. Every expert I interview on this podcast is different, but they all have one thing in common. They know how to fix problems that keep us stuck. The mission of smashing the plateau is helping solo preneur experts build more stable and consistent recurring revenue in their business. Smashing the plateau is part of the best network, providing expert individual and team mentorship, peer support and curated educational content that reinforces and expands our goal of the show. Helping Solo preneur experts get their recurring revenue they deserve. To learn more about us and best network and schedule time to speak with me about how to smash your plateau. Go to smashing the plateau.com/best network that’s smashing the plateau.com/best network.
Today I’m pleased to welcome Tom Schwab. Tom knows how to build an online business. Marketing at its heart is starting a conversation with someone who could be an ideal customer, drawing on his engineering, corporate and ecommerce inbound marketing experience. Tom Helps thought leaders, coaches, authors, speakers, and emerging brands get featured on leading podcasts that their ideal prospects are already listening to. Then he helps them to turn listeners into customers. Tom Is the author of podcast guests. Profits grow your business with a targeted interview strategy and he’s the founder of interview Valet, the category King of podcast interview marketing. Tom, welcome to the show.
David, I am thrilled to be here. Thank you for having me.
Well, Tom, you and I both attended the new media summit in April 2018 in San Diego and you were also part of three day MBA, which I also lead in April with Colette it with Jamie J and Anthony wit and it’s been great to meet you in person, gets to know you a little bit. I’m really thrilled to have you on smashing the plateau.
David, who was great to meet you in real life, but I’d have to say the weirdest thing was hearing you talk because I listened to smashing the plateau at one and a half times speed as I run at half speed. So when I met you in real life, your voice sounded different, but either way it’s a. it’s a pleasure to talk with you.
Same here. So Thomas, talk a little bit about whom it is you serve. So in the intro I mentioned coaches, authors, speakers, and emerging brands. Tell us a little bit more about what that means.
Sure. Really it’s somebody that has a message to share. And today I think that our biggest that we all have is that were obscure. No matter what you do, there’s a product or service that could help people right today, you know, you don’t have to do version seven point, Oh, before you take it to market. There’s people that would be willing to pay you for how you could help them if they only knew about you. And the biggest problem is obscurity. So how do you connect with those people? Now? I believe it’s never been easier to do a transaction online, you know, if you just want to sell something, go to Amazon and be a penny cheaper and you’ll sell it, but you’ll lose the business and the next day to somebody that’s a penny cheaper than you. So from that standpoint, really to build a business, to build profits, to build recurring revenue, that monthly recurring revenue you have to get people to know, like, and trust you and to understand you.
And I think from that standpoint, those are our best clients. So they could be, you know, coaches, authors, speakers that, you know, with employees or solopreneurs that really have a message that they just need to get out there into the audience and uh, you know, uh, different people do different things. So for me, writing a blog content to be a homework, I, I’d much rather talk. So for this, this way, this medium is a whole lot easier for some people, you know, some people even, you know, would rather be on a podcast than speak at a live event. From that standpoint, they’re introverts. They don’t want to stand up on stage and talk to 100 or a thousand people, whereas you know, somebody that’s an introvert or even somebody that doesn’t want to do all the traveling can talk to thousands and tens and thousands of people on podcasts. Interviews.
Right. So you mentioned obscurity and in today’s world where we are constantly bombarded with so many messages all the time with so many different methods and it seems like the message messages are increasing every day and the methods for those messages to hit us are also increasing every day. It seems to me like it’s really daunting to try to not be obscure when there’s so much other stuff going on.
What I think will always be obscure. We just don’t want to be obscure to our ideal customers. Right. So the people that we follow, you know, I could mention Gary Vaynerchuk and you and I would know who we’re talking to, but I guarantee you to my kids, they would say who’s that? But yet the same way, I don’t know who the last American idol winter was. To me that’s obscure and I think part of the myth here is when people say you’ve got to break through the noise, uh, I think more and more today it’s adding to the noise. Sometimes I feel like, you know, I’m a double rock concert screaming. Nobody’s hearing me. I’m just trying to add to the noise there. So in my mind I’d much rather get in on the conversation, you know, I think we met in real life there in San Diego with the new media summit flying out there.
There was a gentleman next to me that could have been a great customer for me, but the entire time we never talked because he had his earbuds in there. Now if he was listening to a podcast and I was being interviewed on that podcast, well I would’ve been able to break through the noise, but it would have been really rude for me to try breaking through what he had already chosen to listen to. And I think that’s sort of the power of podcasts. It’s the only medium that’s a 100 percent optin. No, somebody chose to listen to us right now.
That is correct. Okay, so podcasts are one method for breaking through the noise because they’re totally opt in. That’s a great point. Now on the flip side, you also talked about understanding who your ideal customer is. Let’s, let’s go into that a little bit because I think that ties into this issue of obscurity. How do you clarify who that is and given what you said about your comfort level for different ways of getting your message out, how do you figure out what’s the right way to rise above obscurity for your ideal customer?
Yeah, that’s a great question there and it reminds me of, you know, the people say should be everywhere and I think you should be everywhere. Your ideal customers are, you know, quite a few years ago my daughter came to me and she was in junior high at the time and she says, Dad, you need to be on instagram. And I said, why is that? She’s like, because everybody’s on instagram. And I asked her, well, what do you mean by everybody? And she said, well, me and all my friends, and at that point, none of my customers were on instagram. It would’ve been creepy for me to be there and it would’ve been a total waste of time. So from that standpoint, I think you have to identify who it is that person that you want to work with. And really it, uh, there’s a great book by a mutual friend of ours, a by the name of a lingo, a Jeffrey Shaw would a book about discovering your ideal customers secret language to make your business irresistible.
So with that, you need to look in the mirror and say, what are the types of customers that I want to deal with that I want to work with? Because it doesn’t mean that they’re bad people, but if they’re not a good fit, don’t even go after those people from the very beginning. And I think the studies show this, that if you work with your ideal customers, those people that bring out the best in you, that you do the best work for, you’ll have less churn. You’ll have more monthly recurring revenue, you’ll have higher referrals. And you’ll have higher profits too. So I think some of that, you know, people will talk about, well defined your ideal buyer persona with demographics and psychographics and there’s entire courses that you can take on that. But I think it’s an ongoing realization of, hey, who’s, who’s the people that bring out the best in me?
Who do I like to work with? And who is a struggle? And you know, some people talk about firing, you know, bad customer as well. Maybe just don’t hire anymore, don’t market to them. Doesn’t mean that they’re bad people. It doesn’t mean that you’re a bad person, but you’re a bad fit. So I think that the more that we can do to be ourselves, be transparent, be be who we are, it will repel those people that aren’t our ideal customers and it will attract those people that are. And sometimes the best way to find out who your ideal customer is and where they go. Just ask you a current ones. You know, what kinds of things do they do? What podcasts do they listen to? What influences them? You and I have opinions on our business, but I always say our customers are the experts. They they have the true answers and they’ll tell us and they pretty much vote with their, with their dollars and their clicks everyday.
They sure do. So Tom, I wondered if we could talk a little bit about what it’s like to run a business as a solo preneur and I know your business has grown, you have a lot of experience and still have experiences dealing with lots of Solo preneurs. What do you think some of the biggest challenges are for Solo preneurs to develop consistent stable revenue?
Yeah. From that standpoint, I think whether or not you’re a solo preneur or you have a team, you have to focus on similar things. What activities are you doing that provide revenue? You know, there’s a lot of things that we can do each day, but are they the things that will provide revenue? Are they the things that only we can do? So, you know, when I started out I was a solo preneur then I got one person, then I got another person. We’ve got 14 people now that are all geographically remote, so I think that I hope all of them look at themselves as, you know, sort of psychologically self employed so that they’re always asking themselves what’s the best thing I need to do each day. But I think one of the big things with the monthly recurring revenue to have that steady flow of income coming in is always asking yourself or whatever you are doing is this helping drive revenue?
And the part of that also is, is this helping the customer? Right? Because the old no, you’re helping them when they give you, you know, money because that’s the true, the true test of that. If they’d rather have that, that you’re offering them than their money, then you know its value there. So I think there’s always that, that filter friend of mine calls it a profitable distraction and sometimes there are unprofitable distractions. So going through and, and do we some little project maybe helpful, but is that actually helping the customer? And you can always look and say would the customer pay for this? What I’m doing
right? So is it helping drive revenue and is it helping the customer at the same time? Correct. Now, when you’re asking the question, is it driving revenue? Do you think that the question should be refined as to the type of revenue, particularly if you’re trying to create something that’s sustainable, should it be a question that’s tied to recurring revenue as opposed to transactional revenue?
I’m really a business is something that has recurring revenue, right? It’s not just a one transaction, it’s an ongoing relationship with someone. And you know, I had to correct my granddaughter. She’s four years old the other day and uh, she’s the cutest little thing, but she told me that mommy and daddy go to work to make money. And unfortunately I think that’s what a lot of adults think too. And I said, no, Mommy, daddy don’t go to work to make money. Mommy and daddy go to work to help people. And when they help people, those people give them money. And so I think that’s the same thing a lot of times that we look and say, how can I make money or how can I make revenue? If you take a step back there and say, how can I help people and what would they pay me for?
That’s a better way to look at it. And really, uh, we talked before about having those ideal customers, you know, what other things, how could you help those people, you know, at the end of the day, nobody really cares about your product or service. Uh, one of the weirdest compliments I ever got, David was from a customer and I had taken the phone call. We had customer service people that were doing it, but uh, there was some, uh, some extra calls and I jumped on the line and he told me that we were just like preparation h. and at first I thought I was insulted. He goes, no, it’s a compliment. He’s like, you know, you provided fast relief. You were recommended by others. He said, and you solve the pain in my rear end. So I think if you want to have that monthly recurring revenue, you have to focus less on your product or service. You know, nobody cares about preparation h, they just care about their product. They just care about their pain being solved. So I think it always goes back to that as how could I help my ideal customer?
So let’s talk a little bit about your business in particular and given what you do to help the kinds of people we described at the very beginning, rise above obscurity. What’s, what’s helped you build recurring revenue.
Yeah. For us it’s providing results and working with the customer, you know, the hardest customer to get is a new one. So from that standpoint, a lot of the marketing efforts people talk about is all how to get new customers. Well, if you never lose a customer, you really don’t have to get that many. I mean to grow your business, you know, by a certain percentage each year is not that tough if you don’t lose the other customers. So one of the things that we always do is, you know, do check ins, you know, see how things are going at 30, 60, 90 days that, that pivotal period where you’re both learning each other, find out what extra things they, uh, they could need from you and ask the questions. You know, uh, what’s bringing you the most value here? What’s bringing you the least value?
And they’ll tell you that. And sometimes the things that I was so proud of, they didn’t put as much value into it. So like, um, uh, for example, um, we look at it, it’s not just about getting out a podcast, you know, getting out of podcast is easy. There’s 300,000 of them, but how do you turn that appearance into real results with that? And so as we looked through that, there was a bunch of different, different areas and one of the things that our clients told us that was really important to them was the brief sheets. You know, somebody said only kids in clowns likes surprises. I don’t want to be on a podcast and be surprised by something. I want to know who I’m talking to. And so we’ve really spent a whole lot of time putting together briefs sheets for all of our clients that say, okay, this is what the podcast is about.
This is what the audience is like, here’s a quick bio on the host. Here’s some kinds of questions. They could ask because that way they can tailor their message and you know, content is king, but context is God. So listening to what they want there and, and that ongoing conversation there allows you, you to, to always add more value. And really it is also our best research and development. You know, we know what our customers want by what our customers want right now. That’s actually a great example of how you have nurtured the relationship with existing clients and how that ties into building your business, building recurring revenue and being better at what you do. And it’s sometimes we all know, we all want, we say, well, if we’re at 100 customers, how can we get to a thousand or for out of a thousand followers on facebook, how do we get to 10,000?
And I remember being at a conference, a Brendan Bouchard. He challenged the person that said that and he’s like, what are you doing right now to serve your thousand fans there to serve your hundred clients? And if you serve them well, they will help you get other ones there. So, uh, especially with a monthly recurring revenue from a software as a service company, they will tell you this all day long. It’s churn rate. That’s what they’re focused on. And I think from a solo preneur it’s the same thing. Your churn rate will kill you. You don’t have to get many new clients if you don’t lose many clients. Correct. And for those that may not have heard the term churn, why don’t you define it? Sure. I think it came from the insurance industry, but it really, software as a service uses it. It’s like what percentage of customers are you losing each 12 months?
So if you’ve got a 50 percent churn rate, that means that, uh, you know, your customers aren’t stayed with you that long. If you’ve got a low churn rate, that just means that people are staying there with you further and further and you know, an ideal company wouldn’t have a churn rate, but you know, there’s certain things happen. But, uh, that person that came on board is important to know why they started to work with you. But flip it around also, when somebody leaves working with you, you know that’s a great place to get information. Why did you lose that customer? Fix that problem. And Joel, you’ll avoid it in other places. You know, you talk about the roadblocks and the speed bumps in a business of some of the best advice I ever got. David was somebody told me, every time you have a problem in your business, thank God that you had it at that point because that’s your opportunity to fix it because what’s now just a a small speed bump. The speed you’re going a year from now when you’re going twice as fast could be fatal to you. So trying to figure out what it was that caused that customer to churn or to leave so that you can solve that in your process.
What a great piece of advice with Tom, whom do you know personally who’s been really successful at smashing the plateau?
Oh, I. I would look at the people in my mastermind and I always look at people are that learned from each other are the ones that are smashing the plateau. And sometimes I look at it as, I don’t want to smash the plateau, I want to sneak in behind somebody that has already figured out how to smash it from that standpoint. And, you know, learning from your own mistakes. It’s tough, it’s painful. I’d rather learn from somebody else’s mistakes. And you know, the smartest people are the ones that ask the most questions.
Sounds great. Well, as you know, since uh, I’m a podcast host Lis, I like asking questions. Tom, what can we look forward to in the near future from you?
Oh, really? It’s just sharing more of podcast interview marketing. I really believe that this strategy of using targeted podcast interviews is going to be as common as facebook marketing and email marketing and five years. So I’m really out there. I call myself our CEO, which chief evangelist officer. So you’re going to be hearing a lot more about case studies from us best practices. Uh, we do a yearly state of podcast interview marketing study because really I think everybody can use this technology, the strategy to go from obscure to acclaimed with their ideal customers.
Sounds great. And Tom, how can listeners learn more about you and follow you?
Sure. David, I know if you listened to a podcast, there’s a lot of things going on here. I’ll make it easy. Just go to interview valet.com, forward slash smashing at everything David and I talk about will be there. I’ll put the checklist that I use so you can learn from my mistakes. I’ll put a copy of that book podcast guest profits, how to grow your business with a targeted interview strategy, and then I’ll put all my contact information if I can be of any service to you. Feel free just to reach out to me firstname.lastname@example.org forward slash smashing.
Sounds great. Well, Tom, thank you so much for taking the time to join us today on smashing the plateau. My guest today has been Tom Schwab, founder and CEO of interview Valet. Thank you again, Tom, for joining us. Thank you, David. I’m David Shriner Kahn. Thank you for listening to smashing the plateau. The mission of smashing the plateau is helping solo preneur experts build more stable and consistent recurring revenue in their business. Smashing the plateau is part of the best network, providing expert individual and team mentorship, peer support, and curated educational content that reinforces and expands our goal of the show. Helping Solo preneur experts get the recurring revenue they deserve. To learn more about us and best network schedule time to speak with me about how to smash your plateau. Go to smashing the plateau.com/best network that’s smashing the plateau.com/best network. We want to help you smash your plateau.