Mike Zipursky: Hi, everyone. It’s Michael Zipursky here and I’d like to welcome you to another show. Today, we have Steve Gordon with us from Steve Gordon Marketing Florida. Steve took an engineering consulting firm from $250,000 to $3.1 million in sales in a few years. Today he works with businesses to improve their marketing in a variety of industries. Steve, welcome.
Steve Gordon: Hey, Michael, great to be here. Thanks for having me.
Mike Zipursky: Yeah, my pleasure. I’m excited about this. Steve, let’s start off and talk a bit more about your previous job at that engineering consulting firm. What were you doing there?
Steve Gordon: I started there fresh out of college and kind of wait behind the ears not knowing anything, and had the good fortune to have a really great mentor in the founder of that firm, and very quickly moved on to a path to succeed him in the firm. I’d been there about four years and then he asked me to take over. It was just an outstanding opportunity to step in to a bigger role really early in my career.
One of the things that really was a little bit frightening about that role is that we didn’t know anything about client development at the time, and the phone rang and when it would ring, you know, it was great. We’d get referrals and that sort of thing but we didn’t have any process where we could say, “Yeah, we did this activity and it got us a client.” The firm was growing and was great but really one of the first things that I turned my attention to was, “Okay, we have to have a more defined way, a more predictable way of attracting new clients.” So that was really my main focus in that business. We worked with folks in the real estate market and land development and it was a blast.
Mike Zipursky: Let me ask you, Steve. Before you carry on here, you moved in four years from pretty much out of college or university, you mentioned, into pretty much succeeding the found or owner of that business. What were you doing so well that within four years you’re kind of at the top position within a fairly good status company?
Steve Gordon: I don’t know that I was doing anything particularly special except that I showed up all the time. Whenever there was some new thing to do or new type of project, I wanted to be involved in it. I’d like to say that that was really by design. It was just because I enjoyed a lot of different things. I got to spend a lot of time with the owner and just turned out I was probably more comfortable doing the sales and marketing and business development, which is where he spent most of his time than I was doing more of the technical work and so I got pulled along with him to do a lot of that. I think most of it was just that we got the opportunity to spend a lot of time together and build a strong relationship.
Mike Zipursky: It sounds like over time, you really positioned yourself, whether it was by design or not. I mean, I don’t know. Was it by design? It sounds like you were positioning yourself to really grow a trusting relationship there. I’m imagining, and again tell me if it’s not the case that when the owner was thinking about moving on or what his succession plan would be is that you were kind of at the top of the list with regards to someone that he trusted and thought that understood the business. Is that how things went down or was it different?
Steve Gordon: No, that’s really how it worked.
Mike Zipursky: Where there people more senior than you that potentially should have gone into that position before you?
Steve Gordon: There were three key people who had about 20 years, you know, more than I had, so there were some challenges dealing with that but all in all the transition went well.
Mike Zipursky: When you say challenges, these are people that potentially may have thought that they were entitled to it or just were more experienced than you so that they would have been the better fit for the position, is that the type of thing?
Steve Gordon: Yeah, I think anytime in consulting when you’re dealing with a group of professionals that have a body of technical knowledge, there’s a lot of emphasis placed on their value of that technical knowledge. I didn’t have anything close to what they had in terms of the technical knowledge. What I did have that they didn’t have was the ability to develop new business and a lot of times for technical people I think it’s hard to recognize the value of that, so that was one challenge. Ultimately, they stayed on. They were part of my team. We went forward. It was just, you bump into a wall and you, you know, especially for me as young as I was at the time, leading a group of people not really knowing what I was doing and learning under fire, it’s always a challenge and an adventure.
Mike Zipursky: Right, so you took the business, you told me, from $250,000 to $3.1 million in sales. Was that during a time – your initial – was that over the period of the four years when you were moving up the ranks or was that once you assumed the CEO position?
Steve Gordon: That was during that entire time. It was over about a 12-year period, from a couple of years after I came onboard when I had taken more of a leadership position and through the time that I exited a few years ago. We were able to grow the firm. I don’t know if there’s any magic bullet to doing that sort of thing. We started off fairly small and just kind of built it brick by brick every time.
Mike Zipursky: You grew this company by a factor of, you know, ten or so. How did you do that? How did you take this business from a quarter million dollars in sales to $3.1 million?
Steve Gordon: I think part of it is just luck, being in the right place at the right time but part of it is that we spent a great deal of time becoming seen as thought leaders in the industry and within our markets. We had some very specific niche markets here in Florida and worked really hard to get positioned as kind of the go-to experts for the technical areas that we dealt with within our client and prospect community. It took a few years to get to that point but once we were there, you know, it’s kind of like you get to the tipping point and you begin to get some momentum and then things, business really starts to flow to you. More than anything else, getting to that top position where we were seen as really true experts, was probably the key for all that growth.
Mike Zipursky: I want to dig in to that for a minute. Through that whole experience, what did you really learn about marketing? Are there any lessons that you could share about what really worked, you know, if we can get a little more detail here for a minute? Specifically, what were you doing that worked? Was it a mail that you sent out or some sort of an advertisement or did you attend specific trade shows? Really, what were you doing that really was working the best for you at that time, and are there any lessons in that that you could share with consultants? Being a consultant, is there anything that matches the two?
Steve Gordon: Sure. We can certainly talk about the things that we did that worked.
Mike Zipursky: Let’s start there.
Steve Gordon: Yeah, and there are an awful lot of lessons in the things that didn’t work. The thing that probably worked best for us that was our workhorse was going out and doing presentations and going trade shows and conferences and getting in front of our target audience, giving them something new to think about and stretching their concept of what was possible. That was probably the best thing that we did.
Mike Zipursky: When you say presentation, give us a little more detail. How did you set up these presentations? Did you have a list of people to contact? How did you go about actually setting up the presentation?
Steve Gordon: Well, there were a handful of events that happened every year that were targeted at our market. We just made sure that we were in touch with the organizers of those conferences, that we got to know them, built relationships, made sure that we were on the agenda. They’d had breakout sessions as they do in most conferences and we’d always put together a topic for those. Those were really the best business development things that we did that produced consistent results.
There were some things that we did that looking back I kind of scratch my head but it was outstanding marketing education.
Mike Zipursky: Can you give us a few examples of those that didn’t [inaudible 0:09:57]?
Steve Gordon: Yeah. The biggest one, and I’m a little bit embarrassed to admit, but we spent, for a full page ad – here in Florida there’s a business magazine that’s kind of the monthly business journal for the state – and we spent close to $50,000 on a full page ad that ran for 13 months. I know this number is really precise but we got exactly zero leads from it.
Mike Zipursky: And the goal wasn’t just to build your image and that sort of thing, was it?
Steve Gordon: That wasn’t the goal. The goal was to, you know, fill the bank account but that was my first big education in advertising and one of the best lessons I’ve ever learned, even though it was a little bit expensive. The ad agency that we used to design the branding ad that was all about our tagline and our logo and some pretty picture from space of Florida, there was no call to action and there was no real benefit for anybody responding to it. In retrospect, knowing what I know now about marketing and advertising, we’d never run it, but at that time this seemed like the thing to do.
I see a lot of consulting firms go down that route because they think, “If we look really impressive, if we go to the trade show and we get complimented by all of our competitors, all of our colleagues – we call them colleagues, they’re really competitors – then we’ve got to get at it.” All those things happened with a series of ads. I have to tell you, my colleagues and other firms around the state would call me and say, “I saw your ad in the magazine this month. It’s awesome!” I just wanted to crawl under my desk because I knew it wasn’t working very well and we had signed this contract. I had signed a personal guarantee on the thing with the magazine because the price was so high and we hadn’t advertised with them before so there was no getting out of it. I see that happen so often that our egos, and I see this a lot in consulting. We want to be like bigger companies and a lot of times we’re consulting with bigger companies and we look at the way that they market and advertise and we want to kind of emulate that, and my experience tells me over these last ten years or so that that’s the opposite of what you need to be doing.
Mike Zipursky: Okay. You’ve shared with us that the presentation side was working very well for you. The large, kind of image display ad, wasn’t working for you. Is there any direct lesson there of what you think a consultant could do when it comes to marketing that you found that was working? Could the presentation approach work or is there another marketing method that you’re using that would directly relate to what consultants would do right now that you think would be effective?
Steve Gordon: Yeah, I think for consultants and professionals, one of the best ways to sell what we do – because what we do is really complicated and most of our clients really don’t understand what we do – and I think one of the best ways that you can position yourself as an expert, which is really, I think, required if you’re going to sell effectively is to do presentations. Whether that’s a live presentation, whether it’s at a trade show, or a seminar that you organize or a webinar, or a teleseminar or something that’s more virtual, I don’t think it’s as important what venue it’s in, but that you’re perceived as kind of being at the front of the room. We’re all trained from a very early age and for the majority of our early lives to sit in little tiny desks and listen attentively to someone who stands at the front of a room and presents some information to us. School teaches us that, that we look up to and respect the knowledge that teachers and professors have. Really, putting yourself in that same sort of position. Your audience is already kind of geared towards looking at you as an expert and someone to listen to. It’s much easier to get your message across in that way than it is in just about any other means.
Now, to get people there – and this is one of the things I work on with my clients a great deal – to get people there, to put buds and seeds as they say, there are a lot of other things that you can do. We use all sorts of things – email, marketing, direct mail, internet marketing, all those sorts of things – to get people into that environment where we can kind of stand at the front of the room and control the message and explain why we’re valuable.
Mike Zipursky: Right. We’re going to share with everyone listening some additional tactics and techniques and approaches that they can think of. Let me first ask you. You built this business into a success and then what did you do, did you end up selling that business?
Steve Gordon: No. With the change in the real estate market, we looked at it and realized that it wasn’t going to be as profitable and viable as we’d like it to be going forward, and so my partners and I decided to go and find other things to do. I think that was a good decision, knowing when to exit, because the industry collapsed and then there was a lot of [carnage 0:15:57] along the way but we were able to get out and get out successfully.
Mike Zipursky: Okay, so there wasn’t some huge cash win fall, but at the same time you didn’t stick around too long and go into bankruptcy with it?
Steve Gordon: Yeah, we didn’t dump all the money in the hole, no.
Mike Zipursky: Right. You told me in our pre-interview that when you went out on your own and became a consultant, that you were able to get some initial business just through your local network. Who did you turn to and how did that work? Give us a little bit more insight into – now you’ve started the Steve Gordon Marketing, you’re a consultant. Who did you turn to and exactly what did that look like? What kind of conversations did you have with people?
Steve Gordon: Well, I had built a fairly robust personal network of contacts in my local community here and around Florida, and when I started this company I sat down and I made a list of the types of businesses that I wanted to help. I wanted to focus really on professionals, consultants, you know, professional services and so I just went down my list of contacts of who I knew and started having conversations with them and explaining, you know, “Here’s what we did in this other company, here’s how we did it,” and, “Are these challenges for you,” and for some people, they were, and I had enough of a relationship with them that I was able to get those initial clients to kind of get things off the ground. It’s always a challenge when you’re starting something new.
Mike Zipursky: So you reached out to the people that you had some sort of a connection with. Did you email them or did you call them? How did you get that first initial contact going?
Steve Gordon: You know, it’s been about three years. I’m sure it was a little of both. My style tends to be more – with people that I know very well – it tends to be more pick up the phone and, you know, “Let’s get together and have a cup of coffee or have lunch,” and meet face to face. I had the ability to do that because most of these people were local to me.
Mike Zipursky: When you then set up that time to have a coffee or to meet them at their office, did you go in there, ready to pitch them on your grand idea of how you want to help people as a consultant or did you approach it more just as a conversation? What did that initial conversation really look like?
Steve Gordon: Most of the time, it kind of took the form of, “Here’s what I’m up to next,” and, “These are the types of people that I think I could help,” and we’d get into a conversation about how their marketing was working for them. It’s interesting because with marketing, just about every business that you talk to is doing, you know, something, and there are very few that sit there and don’t do any type of marketing. So I’d get questions from people a lot, you know, “What do you think about this? What do you think about that?” It would open up the opportunity to talk about what the real problems were and what the challenges were that they were having, and then offer a solution.
Mike Zipursky: Okay. When we talked before as well you said that that worked very well for you to launch your business, to get the initial group of clients in, but also at some point that you kind of topped your network and that well started to run dry a little bit, correct?
Steve Gordon: Yes.
Mike Zipursky: When that happened, how did you go about getting more clients?
Steve Gordon: Well, I had begun changing strategies a little bit just prior to that. My main focus in that time and now has been to go on and build relationships with other professionals who had built an audience, built a following and are talking to the same market that I’m talking to, and look for ways that we can help one another. This week has been a great example of that, of a colleague who focuses on the leadership side of business consulting. We both are targeting CEOs of companies that are about the same size and about the same industries but he handles a different aspect of the business than I do. I hosted a webinar for him for all of the people on my prospect list and he did the same for me to his list. It has worked very well for both of us and that’s been my pattern now for the last year or so and that kind of got – when I hit that wall – and I think every new business gets to that point at some point. You hit that wall where what you did up to then to get started doesn’t work as well anymore and you have to figure out, “Okay, what’s the next thing I’m going to do to get growth? For me, that was the next thing and putting that in place has really made all the difference.
Mike Zipursky: Would you say that right now is one of your top methods for getting new clients, is looking for these partnerships?
Steve Gordon: Yeah, that is the top method.
Mike Zipursky: The top method. Okay, I want to explore that a little bit more because it’s a very interesting concept and I know it works well for many consultants but many people also don’t really know how to even go about it. If we just look at the example that you mentioned right now of a business consultant that specializes in leadership, a colleague of yours, you have some areas that might cross over a little bit but also, you know, different areas of expertise. When you’re approaching that, how does it actually work? You’re saying that each of you is promoting the other person to that person’s list and you’re offering webinars – you offered an educational webinar to his contacts – and he the same to you for your contacts. Then what happens? If someone on his contact list wants to hire you to help them with their marketing or whatever it might be, then does he receive a referral payment? How do you actually work all the structure behind this?
Steve Gordon: It really depends on the relationship. Some people want that and some don’t. There are some people I’ve done this with that don’t feel comfortable taking a referral or a finder’s fee. I have no problem paying that to someone because it’s essentially paying for advertising and that’s valuable to me, but some people aren’t comfortable with it and that’s fine. Just because we have a good strong relationship, they’re willing to do it without any money changing hands. Really, I think it’s much more about the depth of relationship that you have with that person than how you incentivize them.
Mike Zipursky: When it comes to actually paying out that referral or creating some sort of a referral structure, what would you say is kind of the typical that you’ve seen or that you’ve used percentages that you pay to each person involved?
Steve Gordon: I have seen anything from 5% to about 15% I think is about the top that I’ve seen. Again, a lot depends on the individual relationship and what it is that you’re selling and how profitable it is and that sort of thing.
Mike Zipursky: Right. We can clarify for everyone listening that if you’re doing some sort of a partner or affiliate type of arrangement with someone and you’re selling a product, whether it’s a digital product or otherwise, the fee that you would take is much higher whereas if you can be providing services to someone, obviously much more time is involved on your part and so the fee that you pay to someone would be lower, right, Steve?
Steve Gordon: Right, but the dollars, even on that lower percentage, the dollars can work out much higher because with most consulting contracts, you’re charging many multiples of what, you know, standard information product an arrangement would be.
Mike Zipursky: Yeah, that’s a really great point. On that, there’s a tipping point that I think most consultant reach. When they get enough clients they don’t necessarily need to constantly go after them, looking for new clients. Instead, the clients are coming to them. Would you say that you’ve reached that point in your current business?
Steve Gordon: yeah, I think that over the last six to nine months, I’ve hit that point.
Mike Zipursky: What did that look like? What was the shift for you and how did you see that – did you see it coming? If you did, what did that look like and how have things changed for you as a result?
Steve Gordon: It’s not as though you wake up one day and everything has changed. It’s very gradual. When you’re moving from the mode where you’ve got it really beyond actively looking for clients and you’ve done that for a while, it takes a little proof, I guess, and a little bit of time before you want to back off of those activities. For me, it really started happening when I beefed up my email marketing, and we’re going to talk about that in a few minutes. That was kind of the big change. If you could go back and almost mark it on the calendar that that was about the time that more started flowing to me.
Mike Zipursky: Yeah, and we are going to get into that in a few minutes for the action bite. I’m interested in this. When you talk about the shift that happens, you said six to nine months ago roughly, you kind of started to see that change happen. Looking back from the time you started going out on your own as a consultant, you put in a solid two to three years, maybe a little bit more potentially, of hard work going after building up the business and trying to get clients. You didn’t just make this happen in six to nine months, right?
Steve Gordon: No. I mean, I see all the time and in stories that go by where somebody has launched a massive consulting business in three months or six months or a year. They do happen but I think for most, the reality is that it’s a grind at first. I even think for the people where you see those stories, they have probably had, you know, maybe 12, 18, 24 months of some sort of struggle or buildup to get there, whether it was in their current business or something they did before and they just discovered a way that works really well to attract clients or have some particular relationships that they built before starting a consulting business.
Mike Zipursky: Right. It’s like that saying that overnight success is an overnight success but, you know, two or three years in the making in this case, right?
Steve Gordon: Exactly.
Mike Zipursky: That’s funny. It’s unfortunate that these days there are so many people out there making these wild claims and I know it’s been around for years but, you know, with how easy it is now to put up a website and to do all these and to start a business, the cost of getting into a business is so much lower now which is great in some ways but it also means that people are now claiming to be all kinds of experts and there’s always crazy claims being made and [inaudible 0:28:02]. Some people believe which is unfortunate because the reality is that, you know, as you just said, it does take a lot of hard work and time to build it up.
So let me ask you. Now that you hit that tipping point and clients are starting to come to you and you’re not having to go after clients as much, what has that done for you personally, like in your own personal life? How has that changed things?
Steve Gordon: Well, I sleep a lot better, that’s for sure. Honestly, as you’re going through that initial building phase, I don’t know if I have had any doubt that it would be successful. It’s just really stressful. You’re working a lot. You’re trying a lot of different things early on to see, to really get the messaging right with your ideal type of client and so it’s just, I think that that time where you’re going through that and iterating is just really stressful because you don’t yet know what works and it takes a little while to get that message exactly right. I think that’s really where most of the work is.
We talked about seminars before and I’ve seen it over and over and over again with the clients that I consult with now that that’s a proven method for getting clients, but it doesn’t work if you don’t have the messaging right. If you’re not really dialed into what problem your client has in their head that they want to get solved, you know, and that takes some time and some interaction with the market especially if you’re coming into it fresh.
Mike Zipursky: Right. When you say seminar, are you referring specifically to a seminar where you’re there physically presenting or this could be a webinar or some other online type of delivery method?
Steve Gordon: Yeah, it could be any delivery method. I use that term generically.
Mike Zipursky: Okay. For the old school people listening to this, we just need to clarify. That’s great. Thanks for sharing that, Steve. I think it’s important. I appreciate you sharing a bit of insight into how it has affected you personally and a lot of conversations around business are often just on business but it’s nice to get a sense into the personal side as well.
All right, let’s dive into the action bite for today. You’re going to talk about how you’ve started emailing your contacts everyday and it’s actually been great for your business. Tell us about that.
Steve Gordon: Most people I explain this to think I’m nuts because I send an email every weekday to get hold of the people that are on my list. I came across a guy, I don’t know, 18 months ago or so, named Ben Settle and he’s kind of an internet marketing guy and specializes in email marketing and he really advocates doing daily emails but really more for people who are selling, you know, like an information product. I took that information and attempted it about 18 months ago when I first came across. It didn’t really work very well at that time. I came back around to it, I guess, about nine months ago and the way that I’m implementing it now has just made all the difference. I’m not saying that the people listening to this ought to email everyday. I think you should because – and we can talk about why I think that – but I guarantee you’re probably emailing or communicating with your potential clients a lot less frequently than you could.
I have found that the frequent communication, a very frequent communication, has really been the key to building some solid relationships with people through email. I think it’s a very intimate medium. You wouldn’t think so because it’s through the internet and you’re not talking like we are now, but I think it’s a very intimate medium. I joke when I give seminars and workshops that, you know, about the only way that you could get into my front pants pocket if you’re not my wife is to send me an email because that’s where I carry my IPhone. That’s about as personal as you could get with me. You get in this space where you pass the gatekeepers, you can reach someone because of smart phones in the evenings, on the weekends, wherever they are. It’s a really intimate space for us so I think that combined with communicating and giving something valuable to your potential clients on a daily basis, I think is really valuable.
I’ve heard it compared to the relationship that a talk show host has, a radio talk show host has, with her audience. Talk radio is one of the best selling tools that there is because when the host comes on and pitches some service, they have such a strong relationship with all the listeners because the listeners show up everyday at whatever certain time to tune in and have that person in their lives, and that’s really what my daily emails are doing with my prospects and I get great feedback from them. I was a little bit afraid that I’d have a lot of unsubscribes. I actually have fewer unsubscribes now that I’m mail more frequently, fewer per week than when I mailed weekly and then before that, bi-weekly.
Mike Zipursky: Wow. That’s interesting. You’re almost the Oprah effect. You’re now having the Steve Gordon effect by sending stuff out daily. We tend to send emails out twice a week so for everyone listening to this, if you’d like to be receiving more emails from us on a more regular basis, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’d love to hear from you about that.
Steve, let’s keep digging into this here a bit. You said that initially when you kind of came up on this idea of sending emails out on a daily basis, that it didn’t work that well for you. Why didn’t it work that well for you? What were you doing different then that you’re doing now?
Steve Gordon: My first attempt at it, I was still in this mindset of really, in each email, trying to teach something, teach about marketing. If I was a leadership expert maybe teach some leadership principle. What I’ve learned is that’s really not the right approach, for a couple of reasons. One, you can give away so much information that you get to a point where your prospects can’t implement the things you’ve given them already so there’s no need for them to go further yet until they implement these things. The other part of that was the emails were a little bit dry because they were all centered around a tip or this or that. When I started up again, I started with the idea that they would be shorter and so they’re down to around 150 to 200 words. They’re really, really short. They are a combination of maybe a small tip but not a lot of meat to it, just something to get people thinking, and some opinion. A lot of times it’ll be an observation.
For example, the email I sent out today, which has resulted in four people requesting one on one, you know, sales appointments essentially with me today, it was about an observation I made talking to three prospects earlier this week, that the problem that they were having – and I see this over and over again – the problem they were having wasn’t that they didn’t know how to market. It’s they didn’t have the confidence that the idea that they had to market and grow their business was going to work for them so they held back and they didn’t do anything. I read about that. Well, that clicked with people apparently because I’ve gotten a bunch of feedback from it. It’s those sorts of things, talking about really the underlying problems, not the surface level, “Here’s this tactic or that tactic,” but the underlying problems that people are dealing with, and they’re always about marketing. Sometimes they’re about other issues that come up in business.
Mike Zipursky: Right, so that covers the difference of what you were doing before. You were much more focused on marketing and tips and tactics and now you’re looking at more – in some way, I guess it could be almost a more personal or a human-centered approach and looking at some of the underlying causes or issues or the psychology around things and observations that you’re just making on a daily basis.
Steve Gordon: Right, that’s exactly it. One thing I want to add to this idea of frequent communication is that the thing that it has done for me is it’s given me a whole lot more turns at bat, you know, to use the baseball analogy. Instead of, in some cases I see companies that are emailing or sending a newsletter monthly or every other week, some just horribly, if you’re sending a monthly newsletter you have 12 chances to move someone from that newsletter, from that communication over to whatever the next step in your sales process is. I have 200 a year. You can’t not – to use a double language – you cannot improve. You just have more chances. Even if you have a really low batting average, you’re going to get more hits.
Mike Zipursky: You said that overall your unsubscribe rate is lower now than it was before when you were sending less frequently. Do you see, even on that first email or the first couple that there’s a bit more of a drop-off? Do you set the stage so that people know that you’re going to be sending them something every weekday or that they start getting emails and they kind of figure it out and they must like it because they stay with it? How does that work?
Steve Gordon: No, I recommend you let them know upfront.
Mike Zipursky: Okay, so you tell them, “Okay, I’m going to be sending you something every weekday.
Steve Gordon: Right. When they sign up for it, if they sign up on my website the form’s on the website also, you know, you’ll get my daily email.
Mike Zipursky: How about the actual technology setup for this? A lot of people who are listening to this are going to be thinking, “Yeah, that makes sense, I understand the batting average thing and all that kind of stuff, but that’s a lot of work.” Even if they’re short emails, writing every single day, I mean, for some people to write one article a month is hard. You’re writing some kind of content on a daily basis. Are you writing and then scheduling them into an auto responder so that if you have a good kind of run up the rat at the mountain per se, you know, and you get a lot out there, that you can then just cue it up in the auto responder, or are these emails actually going out like you write it today and only the email that you’re writing today is going to go out to them. Are you sending them in the auto responder or you’re just kind of broadcasting them on a daily basis?
Steve Gordon: Do you want the optimal way to do it or the way that it actually happens?
Mike Zipursky: Let’s hear both. I want to hear both.
Steve Gordon: I’m sure the optimal way to do it is to schedule ahead of time and occasionally I do that where I’ll get a little bit of time and have four or five ideas and I’ll go ahead and flush them out, but what I did when I started this nine months ago is I said, “Okay, time is limited so I’ve got 20 minutes to write and 10 minutes to set it up to go out,” and I stick to that.
Mike Zipursky: You have a set time you do this everyday?
Steve Gordon: It tends to be in the evenings but there are days when it doesn’t happen in the evenings and, you know, first thing in the morning for 30 minutes I’m writing an email, so it just really depends on scheduling. Actually what I found is that it’s easier to write a little bit everyday than to sit down and try and write an entire week’s work and spend two hours doing that. For the people who would think, “Gosh, writing everyday would be really hard,” it’s like working out at the gym. All you’re doing is training your brain, which is a muscle, you’re training it to crank that out everyday. After doing it for about three or four weeks it really gets to be pretty easy to crank out 150 to 200 words and get done and move on.
At the end of every email – and this is really critical – at the end of every email, there’s a link for the reader to go and request a one on one initial meeting with me to talk about working together. If you leave that out the strategy won’t work as well for you but that’s really critical.
Mike Zipursky: That’s kind of the only real sales message per se that you have in each email but it’s in every single one. Is it located just at the bottom, below where your name would be? Where is it located in the email?
Steve Gordon: It’s usually toward the bottom and I found that works better because I try and write the emails as many stories and so the best way to do it is to tie the stories somehow into the results that you help people get. Not all of the results but pick a result for each email and tie the story into that and so it’s just sort of the logical next step at the end of that email. If somebody’s read all the way down to the bottom and you’ve talked about this particular problem and, you know, maybe here’s what to do about it, then the next logical step is, “Well, if this is a problem for you, you need to meet with me. Here’s how you do that. You click here and it takes you where you could reply,” you know, if you don’t have a website set up, or you could have them apply online. They can just reply back to you.
Mike Zipursky: Well, Steve, thanks for sharing that tip. That’s a great one and also for being so generous in sharing your story with us and giving all of us here, including myself, a lot to think about so thank you again.
Steve Gordon: It’s been my pleasure, Michael. Thanks for having me.