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Transcript of Getting Smart About the Business of Education written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing
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John Jantsch: Hello and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch, and my guest today is Danny Iny. He is an educator, entrepreneur, founder and CEO of Mirasee, a business education company. He’s also the author of a book we’re going to talk about today, Leveraged Learning: How the Disruption of Education Helps Lifelong Learners and Experts with Something to … And my notes stop there. It must say, “Something to say,” right?
Danny Iny: Something to teach.
John Jantsch: Teach. Sorry, it got cut off there. So Danny, welcome back.
Danny Iny: John, thank you so much for having me. I’m excited to be here.
John Jantsch: So what led you here? I mean this is … We’re going to come back to why it’s so on topic, but it’s a little bit seemingly off topic for a entrepreneur and founder of a marketing related company.
Danny Iny: Yeah, so in one sense it’s very on topic. I’ve been working in the space of education for my entire adult career. I run an education company. We teach people how to build and sell courses. But this is a departure from the more tactical focus of how do experts build courses based on their expertise. And this was really prompted by two experiences I had in my life.
So the first was when I was 15 years old and I dropped out of high school. As a kid, I was the biggest goody two shoes, teacher’s pet, gets all his homework done before leaving class, like I was that kid. But then I go into the ninth grade, and it’s like a switch gets flipped in my head, and I’m just sitting in class thinking, “Oh my god, I am so bored. I can’t take it anymore.”
And so I started cutting classes. And I don’t do anything halfway, and so in that first semester I missed like 152 classes. I was barely there. And this went on for about a year and a half. And then I looked in the mirror, and I stopped. I paused. I said, “Danny, what are you doing? What’s the plan? Am I just going to keep cutting classes and going to the gym and watching MTV?” Like that’s not a plan.
And so I decided to quit and make it official and start my first business. And the prevailing narrative around me was, “Danny, you are making a terrible mistake. You are throwing your life away.” And that’s interesting, right? Because, you know, “Danny, you’re making a terrible mistake.” You know what? Maybe. I mean I was open to that possibility. Maybe this is the wrong move. I don’t think so, but it could be. But, “You throwing your life away,” right? This implication of it being an irreversible decision; this is the end. That just didn’t make sense to me.
I was always thinking like, you know, “In a worst case scenario, I can just go back to school.” So it didn’t really make sense to me. I dropped out of school, and it turned out to have been a great decision, one of the best moves I made for myself in my life. And then fast forward 10 years, and I’d been involved in a bunch of startups, and I had done a whole bunch of interesting things. I had just tried to build a software company. That fell apart when the markets crashed. And I walked away from that with a ton of debt. And when you have a setback like that, you kind of rethink your decisions, you question.
And I thought, “Maybe I need a little more structure. Maybe I need more stability. Maybe I need a safety net, so maybe I should go back to school and get an MBA.” And the prevailing narrative around me now was like, “Wow, Danny, that’s a great idea. You are setting yourself up for success in life. You’re going to open doors. It’s amazing.” And nobody gave any thought to reversibility because why would you want to reverse something so wonderful?
So I applied to business schools. I got into Queen’s School of Business, one of the top business schools in Canada, without a high school diploma or undergraduate degree. It turns out, even institutions of higher learning only value the signal of a degree in the absence of better signals. And I go through this program. I invest lots of time and lots of money. And it turns out, if I had to rank the five or 10 worst investments of my life, this would be high on that list. Right?
I met some great people, but I also met a lot of mediocre people. I had some great teachers, also a lot of mediocre teachers. The brochures promised the future leaders of tomorrow. The class was filled with the middle managers of today. So that was basically the experience. And I had a lot of debt.
And the contrast between these two experiences just got me thinking, “Wow, something’s really out of whack with the way people think education functions and how it actually does. And that set me on a path of just doing a lot of casual research to see what’s really going on. And that accelerated over the years. And in the last couple of years, it became a full blown research project, hundreds of books and articles and journals and interviews with experts. And I did all this just for my own personal curiosity because I would have all these discussions with people saying, “Look, I think education is broken. I think it costs too much. I think it’s not preparing us for the world.” And there would be all these, “Yeah, buts.” “Yeah, but it helps you be well rounded. Yeah, but you needed to get a job. Yeah, but it’s still a good investment.” And none of these things are true according to the data
John Jantsch: I met my wife at university. Don’t forget that one.
Danny Iny: I get that every once in a while and I’m like, “You know that’s not in the brochures, right?”
But so I did all this research kind of looking for the data to show once and for all definitively, you know, “Look, this thing that I’m saying is happening with education, this is really where it’s going.” And what I actually found is that it’s already here.
I really thought I was going to find data showing that in 10 or 20 years, the college degree is going to be more or less defunct. What I found is that we’re pretty much there right now, and it was just too important and too compelling message. I mean college debt in the US is over one and a half trillion dollars now. The average university graduate from an undergraduate degree comes out of that experience with over $30,000 of debt. The average interest rate on student loans is 6.8%. This is the only kind of debt that you cannot for yourself of by declaring bankruptcy. It’s also the kind of debt that you are most likely to incur before you’re even legally an adult. And this was just too … It wasn’t okay. It was too awful, and so that led me to write the book.
John Jantsch: Yeah. It’s interesting. Of course we could go a whole nother course and talk about the, sort of the whole lending industry’s role in this, of course. But that would be another book, wouldn’t it?
Danny Iny: It absolutely could be. But honestly, as much as the student debt is like this whole egregious, enormous number, I’m less concerned with the costs and I’m more concerned with what it’s buying, which is not much.
John Jantsch: Yeah. And what’s really interesting is when this person goes through, acquires all this debt, and then realizes that what I really want to do is start a business, which they could have done six years ago, especially today. I started my business almost 30 years ago, and it’s amazing how the sort of culture has changed around that.
When I started it, my friend said, “Oh, something will come up.” I mean It was like, “You lost; you started a business.” And now it’s just the opposite. I think you see a lot of these kids in college, you know, while they’re in that experience, and certainly right after that are saying, “Oh wait, that’s the way to go.” And I don’t know if that … Is that because this degree is so worthless, and they thought they were gonna make all this money, but now they’re seeing the only people making money are controlling their own thing? Or is it just culturally shifted in your mind that that’s now cool?
Danny Iny: I think part of it is a cultural shift. I think part of it is that the biggest celebrities of our modern age are not pop stars or movie stars, they’re entrepreneurs. It’s the Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk and Steve jobs. I think that’s part of it, but I also think it’s just that the economy is a lot less stable than it used to be because the pace of change has grown so quickly. It used to be 30 years ago you could graduate, get a job and have more or less the same job a decade or several decades later. The world is just changing too fast now. That doesn’t exist.
John Jantsch: Yeah. And the industry you were in might not exist. So, we probably ought to define what leverage learning is.
Danny Iny: Yeah. So the way I think about it, most of life involves trade-offs, right? The way people tend to think about education involves trade-offs. Either we can create a thorough, intensive, transformative educational experience for a very small number of people at very large cost. Or we can create a very mediocre, watered down educational experience that reaches a lot of people and is affordable. The first half of the book is about here’s everything that’s wrong with education today. The second half of the book is here’s what we can do instead. And I think we are really at the beginning of a golden age of education where we can leverage the best of what we know to create an empowered, transformative experience for everyone in a way that is accessible and cost effective.
John Jantsch: It’s interesting. Part of it starts with this definition, and we always think of education as a place that has buildings, and you go to classes, and that kind of thing. And of course that’s changed because people do it online now at those institutions. But really, you and I’ve been educators for a long time. I’m calling myself a marketing consultant, but ironically in our beginning of the year, actually fourth quarter planning, we had this really silly insight that we’re really a training company more than anything else.
Danny Iny: Yeah, no kidding.
John Jantsch: But we don’t … I don’t know that everybody accepts that that’s kind of what all the businesses that are really succeeding have some element of that, don’t they?
Danny Iny: Well, it’s incredibly, incredibly common, and it makes sense because when you empower someone to do something that they couldn’t do before and you can do it in a way that is scalable to some degree and leverageable to some degree, it’s like it’s a great business model. It’s a great outcome. It’s a great value proposition, so what’s not to like?
John Jantsch: So, and I’m going backwards a little bit here, but I remember a jotting down the the one … I think it was a sub topic, not a title chapter, but that really struck me is that you … You, kind of after talking about what’s wrong with education, you also then say it’s really a life problem. So, break that open.
Danny Iny: Well, the fundamental challenge is not that people are going to college and spending too much and getting too little. The real issue is that people … Because what is the role of education in society? It’s to give us a way of becoming valued by and valuable to society. And when that pathway breaks down, you’ve got a lot of people who are basically sitting there thinking, “Well, now what? What am I going to do? How am I going to contribute? How am I going to be able to do something valuable and meaningful?” And that’s a life problem for everyone, right? Just like when the economy’s down, people don’t have money to spend, there’s less money going into the economy, and there’s a vicious cycle. The same thing happens with education.
John Jantsch: Yeah. And in a lot of ways, you can’t really knock education. It’s really more the approach to education. Because I mean, I couldn’t be a teacher or trainer if I didn’t know something, if I didn’t learn or experience something. So what’s the way that we need to educate ourselves now? If you’re that person thinking, “Okay, Danny, I won’t go to college,” what do I do?
Danny Iny: Well, the key thing is to think … And I’m not anti-college. I’m just anti-college as a magical golden ticket. I think, and this applies to if people have kids and they’re thinking about college. This also applies to adults. Fundamentally, education is meant to bridge a gap from where you are now to where you want to be. It’s meant to be a shortcut. If education doesn’t let you get to where you want to go in less time, or at less cost, or with less risk, then what’s the point, right? It’s supposed to do one of those things.
And so rather than … You know 30 years ago, you could go to college and spend a very small amount of money, and it was affordable, and it would open a lot of doors because not a lot of people have a degree, and it was a differentiator, and all that stuff. That’s not the case today.
So just like we do in every other area of life, if you have a goal, think about carefully, diligently, what is the goal and what is the best way for me to achieve that goal, right? If I’m looking to advance in my career, don’t go to get that continuing education certificate and hope that somehow magically puts you over the top and impresses people. Think about, what are the real gaps? What do I need to know that I don’t know? Who do I need to know that I don’t know? And be intentional about that. It always comes down to allocation of time and resources. What is the best way for you to get the outcomes that you’re looking for?
John Jantsch: So you work with a lot of … I mean it kind of started … Well, I shouldn’t put words in your mouth. Did it kind of start with this course building work that you saw as a way for people to build legitimate businesses and train others exchange value that then turned into this kind of journey on what education means in general and how … I mean obviously you start with the very practical: I have a course. I want to teach somebody something. How do I make sure that they get value out of it? How do I make sure they actually learned something? How do I make sure they come back? I mean, kind of practical things. I get the sense in the book that you’re now kind of almost making part of the wiring of the human existence in some ways.
Danny Iny: Very much so. All these transitions in education, they also create a lot of opportunities. So one of the big transitions that we’re seeing is a shift from just-in-case education to just-in-times. It used to be we would do a lot of just-in-case education at the start of our career, you know, four years just in case I need it. And that’s always been challenging pedagogically because we know that what you learned 10 years ago, we don’t retain a lot of it. But the world is changing so quickly that even if we did retain it, it wouldn’t be relevant anymore. And so we’re shifting to actually a lot more education over our lifetime, but just in time. So instead of it being months or years early on, it’s weeks or months as you go when you need it.
Now when you have that granularization, “I don’t need one giant education. I need a lot of small units of education. I need it to be relevant. I need it to be cutting edge,” the people who you need to teach it change. It becomes different people. And this is a subtle distinction, but it’s a really important one.
In a static world, in a world where the curriculum stays more or less the same, what you want is a great teacher who also knows the subject matter because teaching is hard. It’s a skill, right? So if it’s a great teacher who also knows the subject matter, you’re in good hands. But when the curriculum is changing all the time, when when the stuff that you’re teaching now is not going to be good anymore in three years or five years, it needs to be updated because the world has changed, well, a good teacher who also knows the subject matter can’t keep up fast enough. So what you need as a subject matter expert who is also a good teacher.
And it’s a subtle distinction, but it’s a very important one because what this means is that it’s not career educators anymore who are the go-to people to deliver it. Really it’s got to come from people who are experts and professionals on the cutting edge of their field, boots on the ground. They’re the ones who know the stuff that every other person wants to learn and they’re the ones who are very well positioned to take that knowledge and expertise and package it up in a way that is impactful and transformative.
John Jantsch: Yeah. In a way the typical, and I knew it sounds like we’re bashing the education institutions, but in a lot of ways they’re almost incentivized not to change.
Danny Iny: Well, they don’t really have a choice. People sometimes ask me, how can colleges change? And I really don’t think they can. Clayton Christensen has said publicly that he expects that 50% of colleges will be bankrupt in the next five or 10 years. I don’t know if I’m quite that aggressive in my expectations. The statistic on average is that for every dollar taken in by a college from a student, only 21 cents goes to instruction, right? Everything else is the administration, the amenities, the grounds, the buildings, all that stuff.
And the thing is, looking at it as a business, a lot of that stuff, these are fixed costs. These are things that they can’t get rid of. They can’t just decide, “Oh, we want to cut costs, so we’re not going to have these buildings anymore.” Right? They’re stuck with it. There’s a ton of inertia, and so it’s not very likely that colleges are going to be able to pivot quickly enough to make that happen. And that sucks for colleges, but for independent experts and professionals who have really valuable things to teach, it’s a great opportunity.
John Jantsch: Yeah. So if I’m this person that is a subject matter expert, how do I flip that around then and say, “Okay. Based on the way that people need to learn, how do I need to teach?”
Danny Iny: Well, it’s not an if; you are at that subject matter expert, and you do actually do it, right? But a good way of thinking about it is this, and this is … again, it’s going to point to the big opportunity. When we want to go and learn something, when we want to really develop a competence, internalize a skill, there are three steps in that process. The first step is the consumption, right? So that’s when you read the book, or watch the video, or listen to the audio, or hear the lecture, right? We consume the new ideas. That’s basic exposure. And you need that to start because without that, you’re nowhere, but it’s not enough. You don’t get a lot of deep learning there.
The second step is application. And that’s where you take what you learned and you do something with it. And that can be theoretical, essays, or homework, or worksheets, or whatever. Or it could be practical. I’m going to do something in the real world, in my business, in my life.
And then the third step is feedback and iteration. That’s where someone who is qualified, a coach, a teacher, an instructor looks at what you did in the real world or in your exercises and tells you, “Here’s where you need to improve. Here’s what we need to do differently.” They give you feedback. And most of the deep learning happens on the part of feedback and happens on the part of application.
Now again, this presents a really interesting opportunity for experts and professionals because there are a lot of platforms out there: There’s the Courseras, there’s the Lyndas, there’s the MasterClass sites, right? There’s all these sites that you can go and you can spend a hundred, $200 for a video course. You can go take a screenwriting course with Aaron Sorkin on MasterClass for a couple hundred bucks. But that’s just the first bucket, right? That’s just the exposure to the ideas, and we get that.
Nobody takes a course with Aaron Sorkin on screenwriting, on MasterClass with the expectation they’re actually going to be a dramatically better screenwriter at the end of it, right? They’re taking it because they’re interested. It’s edutainment, and that’s great for the people who have that reach and that reputation and that brand.
But then after people have gone through Aaron Sorkin’s MasterClass and they’re like, “Okay, this is cool, but I really actually want to become a better screenwriter,” then they’re going to go and look for, “Where is the expert or professional who can deliver all three of those buckets? Not just the exposure to the ideas, but also the work that I can do to apply and then the feedback to improve.” And whereas for just the exposure to the content, that’s not something that can command a ton of money, right? A couple of hundred bucks at the high end is as far as it’s going to go, and that takes an Aaron Sorkin level of brand reputation.
But if I’m going to get all three of those buckets, and that can actually create a transformation, the value of that is dramatically higher. And now we’re looking at thousands of dollars rather than hundreds. And what we as experts have to do is build experiences that give all three of those buckets, and that’s what justifies the investment and really drives the business model.
John Jantsch: Yeah. Think about all the people that bought courses and courses and courses. I mean, they’re just kind of skipping that stuff now because they realize they’ve not gotten much out of it. And they are looking more for, as you said, that more transformative experience.
Danny Iny: It’s the maturation of the market. Online courses, and this is one of these things that’s a little tricky for us because we’ve been in this space for so long so it’s like, “Online courses, that’s old news.” But go out into the world and talk to a quote-unquote ‘real, regular person’ and say, “Where can I take a course?” It’s only very recently that the idea of online is starting to enter the public awareness, right? We’re, we’re crossing the chasm from innovators and early adopters to mainstream buyers, and mainstream buyers have very different expectations, right?
Early adopters, when they got cell phones that came out on the market, it was a giant brick. It had maybe four apps. They didn’t work half the time, and early adopters are fine paying a fortune for that. Mainstream buyers expect a great form factor, and a thousand apps, and a great battery life, and it works all the time, even if you drop it in the pool. And so the expectation of how much you’re going to get as part of the experience is changing because of the market is maturing.
John Jantsch: And LinkedIn fairly recently paid $1.6 billion to acquire Lynda.com because … I think that’s an indication as big as anything that it’s gone mainstream, isn’t it?
Danny Iny: Absolutely. It’s one of the … There’s a lot that went into that tipping point, but the eLearning market is projected to grow to just shy of $400 billion in 2026, which sounds like a huge number, but education globally depending on the numbers you look at is between 4.4 and $6.9 trillion. So as big as eLearning and online education is getting, it’s still a relatively small piece of that, which is why we’re early in that phase, and it’s just going to grow.
John Jantsch: One of the things that I thought was very fun is at LeverageLearningBook.com somebody can actually read the whole book there, if they want to sit there on your website all day, can’t they?
Danny Iny: Absolutely. So the bet I’m making is … First of all, I don’t make money selling books. I run a business, so that’s how I get paid. Second, I think this is a very important message to get out there. A trillion and a half dollars, that’s just … That’s insane. So I want people to read it. I wanted to be able to share. And I’m also banking on the fact that if somebody really likes what they’re reading, they’re not going to want to read 300 pages on a website. So, no strings, no limits, anyone who wants to check out the book can go to LeverageLearningBook.com, and hopefully they’ll like it enough to then go to Amazon and order dozens of copies.
John Jantsch: Well, Danny, and important topic and one that that I think hits on a couple fronts. I mean culturally I think it hits on a really, really big important topic. But certainly far from an entrepreneur’s standpoint, I think it addresses an opportunity that’s really pretty much open to anybody.
Danny Iny: I think so. I mean anyone who’s got expertise and depth of knowledge in something that’s valuable to others, which is most people.
John Jantsch: Well, Danny, it was great catching up with you. LeverageLearningBook.com is where you can find the book. Do you want to tell people where they can find more about you and your work as well?
Danny Iny: Well, LeverageLearningBook.com is a great place to go. People can go to Amazon and order dozens and dozens of copies, or leave a review. That’s good too. And you can find more about me and my work at my company’s website, which is Mirasee, M-I-R-A-S-E-E dot com.
John Jantsch: Awesome. Thanks, Danny. Hopefully we’ll run into you some day out there on the road.
Danny Iny: I will look forward to it. Thank you for having me.
Today on the podcast, I chat with Danny Iny, founder and CEO of Mirasee. An education expert, Iny began his company to help other experts create and market online courses in their field.
In addition to running his business, he is the best-selling author of nine books, including his most recent, Leveraged Learning: How the Disruption of Education Helps Lifelong Learners and Experts with Something to Teach.
On this episode, we discuss the new book, how the educational landscape has shifted dramatically over the past few years, and how both learners and experts can take advantage of the online learning revolution.
Questions I ask Danny Iny:
- How has the culture shifted to make entrepreneurship more appealing?
- What is leveraged learning?
- How is education changing, and can colleges keep up?
What you’ll learn if you give a listen:
- How we define the fundamental role of education.
- Why it’s important to think about desired outcomes for education before committing to a program.
- How the maturation of the online educational market is leading to a shift in expectations.
Key takeaways from the episode and more about Danny Iny:
- Learn more about Danny Iny
- Learn more about Mirasee
- Order a copy of Leveraged Learning: How the Disruption of Education Helps Lifelong Learners and Experts with Something to Teach
- Follow on Twitter
- Connect on LinkedIn
Like this show? Click on over and give us a review on iTunes, please!
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Transcript of Marrying Content with the Customer Journey written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing
This transcript is sponsored by our transcript partner – Rev – Get $10 off your first order
John Jantsch: This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing podcast is brought to you by Klaviyo. Klaviyo is a platform that helps growth-focused eCommerce brands drive more sales with super-targeted, highly relevant email, Facebook and Instagram marketing.
Hello and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch and my guest today is Arnie Kuenn. He is the founder and CEO of Vertical Measures. He’s also the author, or I guess I should say co-author because he’s got a group that he wrote this book with, called Customer Journey: Your Audience Will Take This Journey With or Without You, Are You Prepared?
Arnie, thanks for joining me.
Arnie Kuenn: Thanks for having me John, appreciate it.
John Jantsch: As a fellow author I’m always curious how these team books go. How did you find writing a book with others in terms of … The obvious benefit is you didn’t have to write as much, but then you also had to organize people’s thoughts, didn’t you?
Arnie Kuenn: Yeah. The journey for me has been … I wrote my first book solo back in 2011 around content marketing, it was called Accelerate, and found that to be … Just so everybody who has ever written a book totally understands, it was ten times harder and took three times longer than anyone even tried to warm ne it would take.
John Jantsch: And then you had to sell the dang thing.
Arnie Kuenn: Well yeah. Actually we don’t do it so much to become best-sellers. In the business we’re in it’s more thought leaders and help maybe bring some clients in. We do hope it sells, but you’re right, absolutely, then you’ve got to go market it. The second book I wrote was called content marketing works and it was based on all the lessons learned in the years between Accelerate and Content Marketing Works and I actually co-authored that with my son who is in charge of marketing for our agency and that was a lot easier, even though we had to do some coordinating. He lived in Nashville at the time, I lived in Phoenix. It was fun to do with him but, of course, it was half the work, that was kind of nice.
About two years ago we came up with this idea for the book around the customer journey. We have 60 employees altogether but we have multiple subject matter experts and we were just having a team meeting and talking about it and said, well if each of you takes a section we could probably knock this out. That’s how the idea came about. It takes more coordination that way, a little bit less effort but a lot more project management, so to speak to get it done. That’s a long answer but that’s how that all formed and how we decided to do it this way.
John Jantsch: I know in the course of writing a book, some of my books have taken … By the time the editor was really getting to to it I may have written that chapter six months ago and they’re coming back and saying, “Well, you said it this way this time.” I can’t imagine doing that with six or eight people.
Arnie Kuenn: Right. Yeah. We did have one editor so that person interacted with the person who wrote that chapter or those chapters, but you’re right, there’s actually people who finished their work, actually just about what you said, six, seven, eighth months ago and really haven’t looked at it since and the book just got released this week and they’re almost having to refresh, “What did I write again?” And read it over again.
John Jantsch: Well congrats.
Arnie Kuenn: Well thank you.
John Jantsch: You chose the format of, I don’t know, are you calling it a fable? That’s kind of what they call this, right?
Arnie Kuenn: A fable, you said?
John Jantsch: Where you have a fictitious character who is actually going on this journey.
Arnie Kuenn: Yes.
John Jantsch: I think they call those books fables.
Arnie Kuenn: You’re probably right. Actually I never thought about it in a business reference, but yes.
John Jantsch: I think so.
Arnie Kuenn: Yeah.
John Jantsch: What was the decision about trying to present the information in that voice?
Arnie Kuenn: The first two, if you looked at them, they were really … I mean, they felt and really were how-to books, very step-by-step and I’m pretty pragmatic and so it just followed a system and a process and all that. This time we just set off saying we’re going to really try to make it a story. Even though it has lots of good information on how-to and all of that, we just really wanted to make it more readable and, like you say, pitch it more of a story.
We created a character, you’re right, who is in business but wants to go back to school to get an advanced degree. We tell the whole story of how she’s searching for a school to take some online classes and how she starts to go through part of her journey in the beginning but the school she’s doing research around hasn’t quite finished all of their content to map to all of the phases of her journey. She ends up finding another school who has more comprehensive content that takes her all the way through decision and advocacy and so she jumps over and ends up enrolling and taking classes there and then eventually has a better position in life. We just thought that story worked and we’re proud of it, but I guess we’ll find out over the next few months if everybody else likes it.
John Jantsch: That’s the whole story, I guess we’re done.
Arnie Kuenn: Yeah, that’s pretty much it.
John Jantsch: Let’s unpack this idea of a journey because, in fact, you graciously asked me to give a blurb for the book, which I did, because it’s a great book.
Arnie Kuenn: Yeah, I did. Thank you very much.
John Jantsch: I’ve been saying for a long time that everybody talks about this change in marketing and that change in marketing. I’ve been saying for a long time, I think the things that change most is the way people buy and that’s what we’re subject to, the whole buyer journey has changed so much that we have to … Our marketing now has to respond to that massive change. How would you describe the customer journey? It’s a hot topic right now but it’s also one of those that I see a lot of sort of mixed signals around what it means.
Arnie Kuenn: Yeah. We describe it in four steps. I know everybody has different views and funnels and you had described one that you had talked about for years, but ours pretty much follows awareness as a first step, then consideration, decision and advocacy. Our view is that awareness can happen very, very quickly. It could be you are scrolling through your Facebook feed and you see a drone that looks like maybe you will never break, but you weren’t planning on buying drone but you became aware that there’s one that looks good for you and so you click on the ad or whatever.
It could be you’re watching television at night and how we all sit with our iPads or our laptops in our lap and something just strikes you, maybe it’s a pair of shoes or a new car or whatever it might be. You awareness could happen, like I say, in moments and then you turn online generally and you start the consideration phase. You start doing your research and, like you said, that’s what’s really changed is the way we buy now. You and I are old enough to … I’m sure you used to go to car dealers, you decided you want a new car but you showed up at a dealer with a yellow pad of paper and a pen so you could go and ask questions and take notes and go to the next one.
Now when we go to the dealer we walk in with a printout that we researched online and we say, here’s what I’d like to order or buy. In fact, I even know your inventory, I want this car. You’re right, that’s just what’s changed, the way people buy. Anyway, you make that decision but now there’s this whole advocacy piece, which again referring to our age, we used to tell our neighbors or our coworkers about this good or bad experience we have, well now we turn online and we do a Yelp review or an auto dealer review or a Google review and so on. It’s just digital now.
John Jantsch: I think that’s where I see so many people kind of miss the boat on this. The old funnel kind of ended when that person squirted out of the bottom of the funnel and that was like, oh you’re done now.
Arnie Kuenn: Yeah.
John Jantsch: I think that today a much more significant part of marketing is what happens after somebody says yes and I think the companies that are really killing it are taking advantage of that.
Arnie Kuenn: I agree. Yeah. In fact, more and more of our clients, although this is kind of a while ago, Andy Beale, a friend of mine, he’s kind of specialized in the whole protecting your brand online and reputation management. Lately it seems some of our clients are coming back to us saying, “We do need a little bit of help here. We’re not getting … We need better reviews or we need …” Oh I can’t think of that, what’s the website where your employees go?
John Jantsch: Glassdoor.
Arnie Kuenn: Yeah, Glassdoor. “We need better Glassdoor, we need Yelp …”, whatever it might be. We’re seeing a lot and it’s true. All of us, not all of us, but a lot of times before we go to buy something that car or the shoes I was referencing earlier, one of the things we do in our research is to go look at their reviews, what are people saying about that brand and that product. Again, 20 years ago that just did not happen.
John Jantsch: Yeah. I think there were certain industries that that became important five, ten years ago but I think it’s everybody now because that data’s out there and the behavior of looking at reviews has become so commonplace. I have kids that are in their 30s and late 20s and that’s one of the first pieces of data they want to look at before they visit a …
Arnie Kuenn: Yeah, sure.
John Jantsch: I think that behavior has kind of made that more significant.
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One of the things that you had mentioned, you and I were talking offline before, I use this marketing hourglass approach and that was kind of the idea behind The Hourglass was that once the funnel kind of came to the point where somebody bought, then it expanded again. I have seven stages in mine, but I think the thing that trips people up a lot of times, even people that are buying into this idea of awareness, consideration, decision, is that these aren’t necessarily nice, tidy little boxes. Dependent upon a person’s problem, their relationship to the problem, how much they know coming into the deal, they can really … How people go through those boxes can change dramatically, can’t it?
Arnie Kuenn: Oh, absolutely. Yeah. Actually, one of the things that we’ve worked on here at Vertical Measures the last couple of years is we’ve created something that if you see it, it looks almost too simple if I told you it took us hundreds of hours to do it. We call it The Growth Matrix. Down one side we list awareness, consideration, decision, advocacy, but across the top there’s things to come into play. We look at, do you have content in each of these areas and what kinds of content will people be searching for.
Like you just said, are they trying to solve a problem, is it a how-to, it it … Whatever might be there. Does it need to be optimized? Does it need to be promoted? How are we going to actually measure whether or not the awareness stage is working, the consideration state, decision, so on and so forth. You’re right, even in the simple little funnel, I guess this is, of those four buckets, it gets more complex when you look at it like I’m describing from left to right and figuring out what needs to all be in each of these phases for this all to work well.
John Jantsch: And then, let’s start with another matrix factor, you’ve got these dimensions of your matrix because if I’m a homeowner and my furnace breaks down, my decision process for hiring an HVAC contractor to come fix is quite different than if I just bought a new home and I want to see if there’s something I need to upgrade, isn’t it?
Arnie Kuenn: Oh, gosh yeah. We have timeframe, for example.
John Jantsch: Well and just what information I need, how I’m going to go about getting that information. But I think the HVAC contractor in question here has to kind of plan for both, right?
Arnie Kuenn: Probably, yeah. Because … You’re right, you might be looking to upgrade or maybe even look at solar or whatever as opposed to …
John Jantsch: Yeah, so now I need information whereas before I just needed to know who will get here the fastest.
Arnie Kuenn: Yeah, who could get here. I’m in Chicago and it’s ten degrees and my furnace just broke, right?
John Jantsch: One of the things that I think is great about the book is you, given your background, particularly you make a very direct connection to content in each of these stages. I think that’s another thing that’s missing. A lot of people just look at content of like, “Okay, we have to have good content that’s out there and we blog and there we go, we checked that of the box.” Most of that content, between you and me, is written for that person who has already figured out what their problem is and they’re just looking for somebody to solve it. It really misses many of the other stages, doesn’t it?
Arnie Kuenn: It does, but I will say that … What you just described to me would be someone who might be actually successful with their content marketing. If they’re actually creating content around solving people’s problems, they’re already a step ahead of what I would say most organizations are. Because to me, still my biggest frustration that’s been the same frustration for five or six years is I still see people guessing at the kinds of content they should create or they’re still trying to create clever, journalistic headlines as opposed to really understanding the pain points that their prospect is going through and understanding the journey that we’re talking about and really trying to match up content there.
But you’re right, most people tend, if they’re into it, tend to focus on consideration or getting very close to a decision, so maybe they’ll do versus content, John versus Arnie, to see which one’s better or whatever, but there can be really good awareness content created as well and most people are missing that totally.
John Jantsch: For example, I sell marketing consulting services, would you say that’s what your firm does, is that how you would describe what [crosstalk]
Arnie Kuenn: More or less. Yeah. We’re a digital marketing agency so we probably are a little bit different than you, but you’re probably I think more on the consulting side, we actually …
John Jantsch: We have a network of consultants so we do a ton of training and stuff too.
Arnie Kuenn: Yeah.
John Jantsch: But I always advocate, nobody ever, in America at least, has woken up and said, “I think I’m going to go get me some marketing consulting.”
Arnie Kuenn: Right.
John Jantsch: They’re really complaining about problems that … They’re not even saying, “I’m going to go get some strategy.” But most of their complaints or they’re, how do I fix the fact that everybody … All they want is a lower price? Why do my competitors always show up ahead of me in the three pack? Those are the things they’re going and looking for answers to and I think that if we’re not addressing that in the early stages we’re never going to get to the part where what you need is a marketing strategy.
Arnie Kuenn: Correct. I absolutely agree. Yep.
John Jantsch: How do you go about helping somebody understand just that? I think that’s … As you mentioned, I’ve been talking about this for a lot of years. How do you get … We work with a lot of small businesses and most of them are still focused on that, here’s what we sell. But the clients out there looking for a solution, they don’t even know what their problem is yet, so how do you get people focused on creating content, particularly for those early stages when … I really a lot of times think people just … The only thing they can articulate is that it hurts.
Arnie Kuenn: Right. We’ll go about it a couple of ways. One might be more of a story form. We’ll go in and if we can talk to the CEO or whoever might be the top of the food chain as possible, and if they aren’t quite getting it we’ll just ask them … Let’s just say you’re into golf and you wanted a new set of golf clubs. Tell us what kind of things you would search for on Google. We’ll literally walk them through so that the light bulb can go on in their head where they realize that their customers are doing exactly what they do, it’s just a different product line. It could be B2B, it could be whatever.
We just show them, if you had a concern, if your customers have a concern, what is the problem that your products or services solve and how do you imagine they would go about this when they’re doing the research on Google and blah, blah, blah. Then we’ll bring … The next level is data. We’ll try to anticipate it, we’ll show them search volumes, we’ll go in and show their competitors and say, your competitor owns this piece here because they’ve just got all sorts of content helping them solve their problem, whatever it might be. Go get a new marketing automation system. The boss told you to go get a new marketing automation system, finally gave you a budget, but you don’t know any so you turn to Google and you start researching. What does that research path look like? Usually, if we can get an audience and tell that story, the light bulbs start to go on and they start to get it.
John Jantsch: The thing that I love about where you started with that too is I so often see people that are saying, “Okay, how do we create awareness? How do we create consideration? How do we create discovery?” It’s all about how do we do this to get this done and I think what you just described is really the place that a lot of people miss and that’s this, how does the buyer actually go about finding a company like this?
Arnie Kuenn: Right.
John Jantsch: I just moved to town, I need a new car wash. How does that buyer actually go about finding a car wash? I think if we can learn that, then it becomes a matter of then filling in the blanks of what content you need, what tactics you need, what campaigns you need, where you need to be, right?
Arnie Kuenn: Yeah, absolutely. I think another beauty part of this is that you’re also having someone find you at the time that they have the need as opposed to other marketing is really counting on the masses and hoping that someone happens to become aware or see their ad or their product or a service at the time of their need. Where if they turn to Google and they start to search, you’ve already eliminated all the people who have no interest in your products if you followed that logic.
That’s the other beauty of counting on digital and having that content ready for them is if they’re doing that search and they’re clicking on your stuff, odds are they’re in a buying mode.
John Jantsch: As a practitioner, do you find that having that conversation of how would somebody become aware, what are the other ways they become aware? Do you find that actually makes the sales process of, well then we need to do SEO or then we need to do long-form content. Do you find that they sort of self-admit that’s what somebody would do so we better have that. Does that make it easier for you to make a case for some of the tactics that you recommend?
Arnie Kuenn: In a word, yes. We’ve tried to refine it over the years and generally it takes that kind of a story for those who haven’t quite adopted it yet for them to really understand how this works. Yep.
John Jantsch: But I do think that that helps them get … Everything just seems like all these tactics that everybody’s selling and I think that that focus on the journey kind of brings it down to … Even to the point where you start identifying, we better have a better onboarding process and we better have some way that we check in with them in two weeks. It really kind of brings the whole business together, I find.
Arnie Kuenn: Yeah, absolutely. Even a little piece we haven’t talked about is lead nurture. You might have actually got them to show up to your site and they were a hot prospect at that moment, they downloaded your piece of content or whatever it might be, but what have you done now to stay in touch with them? That’s also part of the buying process is you think that through and you make sure each followup, whether it’s a series of seven or eight or whatever it might be, but each one makes sense to the next thing they might be concerned about. Just keep eliminating objections along the way with your lead nurture.
John Jantsch: Arnie, thanks for joining us. Great book. Customer Journey: Your Audience Your Audience Will Take This Journey With You or Without You, so true. Where can people find out more about you and certainly where can they acquire the book, Customer Journey?
Arnie Kuenn: They can learn more about us at a simple URL, verticalmeasures.com. Actually if they go to the website, I don’t know the URL, but if they just look at resources, our book is listed there. Next week, I don’t know when this will be broadcasted, but let’s say by March this will be live on Amazon and they can find it there as well.
John Jantsch: Awesome. Thanks for stopping in and hopefully we will run into you out there on the road in Cincinnati or somewhere like that.
Arnie Kuenn: Sounds good. Thanks for having me, John.
On today’s podcast, I speak with Arnie Kuenn, an international speaker, author, and founder and CEO of Vertical Measures.
Prior to founding the digital marketing agency Vertical Measures in 2006, Kuenn founded several other businesses, including MediaChoice, an internet startup whose clients included the major television networks, plus music and movie studios.
Kuenn now runs his business and travels the world speaking and running training workshops on marketing. He is also the author of several books, including his latest, The Customer Journey: How An Owned Audience Can Transform Your Business. On this episode, we discuss the customer journey, and the role that effective content marketing plays in guiding buyers through the journey.
Questions I ask Arnie Kuenn:
- What made you decide to write the book as a fable?
- How would you define the customer journey?
- What’s the connection to content throughout each stage of the customer journey?
What you’ll learn if you give a listen:
- Why good content comes from understanding people’s pain points.
- How putting yourself in the buyer’s shoes can help you identify gaps in your content.
- Why digital marketing allows you to meet prospects at their time of need.
Key takeaways from the episode and more about Arnie Kuenn:
- Learn more about Vertical Measures
- Order a copy of The Customer Journey: How An Owned Audience Can Transform Your Business
- Follow on Twitter
- Connect on LinkedIn
Like this show? Click on over and give us a review on iTunes, please!
This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by Klaviyo. If you’re looking to grow your business there is only one way: by building real, quality customer relationships. That’s where Klaviyo comes in.
Klaviyo helps you build meaningful relationships by listening and understanding cues from your customers, allowing you to easily turn that information into valuable marketing messages.
What’s their secret? Tune into Klaviyo’s Beyond Black Friday docu-series to find out and unlock marketing strategies you can use to keep momentum going year-round. Just head on over to klaviyo.com/beyondbf.
Why Storytelling Can Help Your Business’ Bottom Line written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing
When you’re thinking about how to promote your business, it can be tempting to focus solely on your products and services. After all, when you boil any business down to its most essential element it is about getting consumers to purchase the product or service that’s being offered.
But how you reach the end goal of closing that sale is at the heart of any good marketing strategy. And the fact of the matter is, there are a lot of businesses out there that can offer consumers a solution that’s very similar to yours. Plus, with the internet, location is not a barrier in the same way it used to be. So how do you stand out from your global competition?
Storytelling is a great way to build a personal connection with your customers, which is the differentiator that will keep them coming back to you, year after year, rather than turning to your rivals.
It Instantly Establishes a Human Connection
In today’s digital age, it’s now possible to be a long-term customer of a business and never interact with an actual human being at the company. For online giants like Amazon, what keeps people coming back is the fact that their prices are competitive and they have everything you could ever want; Amazon is highly convenient.
As the owner of a smaller business, you’re never going to be able to compete with the likes of an Amazon on those fronts. You need to find another way to stand out. A human connection is the reason someone chooses to buy from a local business rather than the faceless multinational corporate.
When you embrace storytelling that shows off your business’s personality, highlights fun facts about your team members, and makes customers feel like they really know the people behind the brand, that establishes a meaningful, lasting connection. For some tips on how to build a human connection with storytelling, check out this post.
It Helps You Stand Out on Social
So much of online marketing now is about social media. And because the purpose of these platforms is creating connection and telling stories, they’re the perfect place to employ smart storytelling techniques.
This starts by embracing the platform you’re on. Storytelling on you company’s Twitter account will be handled in a very different manner than the storytelling you do on Instagram. Twitter is of course focused on the written word, while Instagram is about telling stories through images. Using these different media to weave together a cohesive story across platforms is another great way to build trust and brand awareness.
When prospects encounter your brand across various social media platforms, but are always met with the same voice and point of view, this establishes your business as trustworthy and authoritative. Plus, when you take the time to actually interact with people—provide direct answers to their questions, react to photos they share that are related to your business, or otherwise undertake personalized engagement—you make your fans feel seen and special.
Once you’ve made a good impression on social, that helps you drive those prospects to your website, where you can hit them with your comprehensive storytelling that’s designed to move them through the customer journey.
It Guides the Customer Through Their Journey
The customer journey is not as clear-cut as it used to be. Because there are a myriad of ways someone can encounter your brand for the first time, it’s trickier for marketers to create a clear path from first interaction through to repeat business and referrals.
However, brand storytelling on your website can help you achieve this goal. Your website is the one asset online where you have complete control of all the content, so take advantage of that. Design your site so that the home page immediately addresses the concerns of your prospects and tells them who you are and why you can help. A short video that shares your mission is a great, bite-sized way to let people know who you are.
From there, you want to structure your website in a logical way that moves customers through the stages of their journey, with storytelling as your guide. The home page is the start of the story: the solution you offer. The next pages should address the middle of the story: how you fix their problem and why you’re the right people for the job. The end of the story is where the prospect reaches out to learn more and become a customer.
It Drives Conversions
Sometimes business owners focus solely on the ultimate conversion: the sale. But in reality, there are multiple conversions all along the customer journey. If a first-time visitor to your website comes back again several days later, that is a conversion. If that person then requests a white paper on a topic of interest, that’s a conversion, too.
Using smart storytelling that’s targeted at prospects and customers based on where they are in their journey, is a great way to drive those conversions.
Think about it this way: let’s say you have a video that covers your company’s origin story. It tells a compelling story, and is great at grabbing the attention of prospects. But this asset is not going to serve you well with those repeat customers who already know your business’s history. They need another story that speaks directly to where they are in their history with your business, and drives them to make the next conversion on their journey (which, for a repeat customer would be to refer you to someone else).
This kind of customer you’d want to greet with another story. Perhaps you create a referral program and pair it with a note that explains why you’re so passionate about sharing your business’s solutions with the friends of your existing customers.
Just like you wouldn’t hand a toddler a copy of Wuthering Heights (or a high schooler a copy of Goodnight Moon, for that matter!), driving conversions is about greeting different people with different stories.
Storytelling is at the heart of any strong marketing strategy. Knowing what your business does best and sharing why you’re passionate about your work is the way to win trust (and customers). Effective storytelling will keep your bottom line healthy and your customers coming back for more.
My weekend blog post routine includes posting links to a handful of tools or great content I ran across during the week.
I don’t go into depth about the finds, but encourage you to check them out if they sound interesting. The photo in the post is a favorite for the week from an online source or one that I took out there on the road.
- Adios.ai – Eliminate constant email distractions with scheduled email delivery.
- Veamly– Streamline all communications from collaboration apps.
- DeckRobot – Fix formatting across PowerPoint slides with one click.
These are my weekend favs, I would love to hear about some of yours – Tweet me @ducttape
Do you know a women’s owned, local business that you’d like to see featured for Women’s History month in March? We’re planning to highlight and invite these powerful women into our clubs so we can share their business with our members. We’d love your suggestions here.
Refer your friend during the month of March and when they join, receive $100 club cash to use toward products, services, and even membership dues!