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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. My guest today is Bill Cates. He is an internationally recognized expert and keynote speaker, author of Get More Referrals Now. And a book we’re going to talk about today, Radical Relevance: Sharpen Your Marketing Message, Cut Through the Noise, Win More Ideal Clients. Bill, welcome back.

Bill Cates: Hey. Great to be back with you, John. I have so much respect for the work that you do, so it’s an honor.

John Jantsch: Thanks. That’s kind of you to say.

Bill Cates: You bet.

John Jantsch: I’m going to read one sentence, and then I can probably shut up for 20 minutes and you can just talk. Radical Relevance is about bringing the right value proposition to the right market, communicated with the right message through the right medium at just the right time. That was a mouthful.

Bill Cates: Yep.

John Jantsch: I really do think we can break each of those ideas down. But give me kind of the overview of that, what the meaning of that is.

Bill Cates: Yeah, sure. I wrote the book because there’s really three challenges that we all face in trying to grow our business. And one is the fact that everyone is experiencing marketing message overload, right? The wonderful internet, all it’s done is pollute all our brains and minds with all kinds of stuff coming at us all the time. And the brain doesn’t like that. I have a chapter in a book on the neuroscience of all of this. There’s so much noise out there. So, how do we cut through all that?

Bill Cates: That’s one of the challenges. Another challenge is because it’s so easy to gather information on people, all the big data that’s out there, and people are listed on all types of platforms. Our prospects are really expecting us to come with a more relevant message. They’re expecting us to know a little bit about them and have empathy for their situation, and not come at them cold. And then the final challenge is this concept of inertia. That’s one of our biggest obstacles and objections that we get in a sales mode, is how do we move someone to look at something differently and move in a different direction than where they’re moving at the time? And so the key of course is to be as relevant as one can possibly be with a message with the target market, with the bullseye, that persona within that market, from a strategic standpoint and a tactical standpoint.

John Jantsch: Does that necessarily mean that we have to greatly narrow our focus? Obviously the more relevant we get, we’re going to be less relevant to a lot of other people. Is that kind of the message?

Bill Cates: Yeah, it is. The mistake a lot of business folks make … Not everybody, but a lot of people, they don’t want to exclude people. They say, “Well, let’s make the tent a little bigger. Let’s word this headline and website or whatever, just a little bit so we don’t exclude some people.” And of course, what that does is it weakens the message.

Bill Cates: We can have more than one target market. We can also have more than one bullseye within a market. I have three bullseyes, or personas as it’s often called. What we want to do is make sure we send the right message to the right person, as you said at the right time and the right method. How does this person want to consume it? And what do we say to this person that’s going to resonate with them? And it may resonate differently with someone else. It’s sometimes dividing our market up into a few different personas and not trying to put a global message out to everybody. That weakens everything.

John Jantsch: I think it’s almost gotten to the point where if you’re going to do that, you have to then steer people or guide people to, “Oh, you’re this kind of person, you have this kind of need, you go this way. Here’s what we’ve built for you over here.” We almost have to kind of segment, don’t we?

Bill Cates: We do have to segment. One of the simplest ways to think of this is … And when I do my coaching consulting with folks, it’s often we start with a website. It’s more than the website, but that’s not a bad place to start because it gives me at least a sense of what they think about their value and how they communicate it.

Bill Cates: And so on my website, there’s three different personas. If you are an individual looking for our online video coaching, whatever, click here. And then all the pages that follow are related to that individual. If you’re an executive with a corporation and you’re looking for something, then click here. If you’re looking to hire a speaker for a conference then click here. Those are our three main personas so people come to the website. Rather than trying to create a message that’s broad and will strike everybody, which is almost impossible. Yeah, so segmentation is key these days. Critical.

John Jantsch: So we’ve been talking for a long time about the idea of a value proposition. That’s not a new concept. However, I still find very few people nail that.

Bill Cates: Yeah.

John Jantsch: How do you really get … And again, not one that sounds good, but one that actually is appealing to your ideal client.

Bill Cates: Yeah. There’s a lot to talk about here, but real quick. First of all, I don’t believe a value proposition is that elevator pitch, that short thing that we say. We need to have short ways to talk about what we do, don’t get me wrong. I believe the value proposition is really the totality of what we bring to the market, what the value we bring to our prospects, our clients, our suppliers and resources. Everybody, you name it.

Bill Cates: And then the elevator pitch, or what I like to call a value positioning statement, just reflects that, reflects some of that value proposition. And in developing this value positioning statement, we have to understand how the brain works. There’s a chapter in my book about the neuroscience of relevance and what the brain is looking for. Well, one thing we know is that, and Antonio Damasio approved this with this technology called magnetic resonance tomography. Say that three times fast, MRT. But with the subject, the part of the brain was damaged that feels emotion. They couldn’t make decisions. No ability to feel emotion, no ability to make decisions.

Bill Cates: And so that demonstrates what a lot of us have already known, at the heart of every decision is an emotional response. Now, it doesn’t mean the facts and statistics and all those things don’t play a role. Of course they do. And then ultimately what they do is they elicit an emotional response, which then leads to someone taking action. So with all that said is the preamble. I have a formula in the book I talk about, I call it the miracle formula. But it’s essentially my expertise is in, where I am an expert in and my expertise is in. I work with who want to, For example, let me break that down. I don’t like to have people start off with their title, their formal title. “I’m a financial advisor, I’m an accountant, I’m a whatever.” Because people have preconceived notions about that, and you don’t want to feed into that.

John Jantsch: Yeah. I’ve had one of those before. I don’t need another one of those.

Bill Cates: Yeah, exactly! Or maybe I’ve got one, I don’t need to talk to you. Or you say I’m a financial advisor, they’re thinking, “Oh, I’m getting another Bernie Madoff.” Who knows what their context is. Right? Relevance is all about context. And so I work with, what that does is define your market. You work mostly with B2B business owners. You can get more narrow than that if you want.

Bill Cates: And what do they want? Whatever they want is the benefit you bring. So it’s a very short, succinct way to communicate a lot. And then you always want to have that for example, which brings the rest to life. There’s usually a story there, a short one. People listen, the brain listens to a story differently than it does the left brain stuff. It’s a nice little formula. I work with who want to, for example.

John Jantsch: So let’s jump to another one. We know who our target market is, and we’ve got that value proposition, the right medium. I think that one of the things that’s caused the greatest amount of stress right now with particularly small business owners is like where … It’s online, it’s on the platform here. I still need to network at this event. How do we decide where we can spend our precious time?

Bill Cates: Sure. A couple of decisions here. First of all, how would your next great client or customer, the perfect fit customer or client prefer to meet you? What is their preferred method of meeting you? And as you know in a book that you’ve written and the several books I’ve written, it’s a referral or an introduction from someone else they trust. I’m a huge believer in making sure that the first thing we do is build that referral culture within our company. Because the straightest line to relevance with someone, the straightest line through all the noise is an introduction from someone else they already trust. So certainly we don’t want to see referrals and introductions as icing on the cake. For a lot of businesses, they really are the cake, and people need to double down on that and not just see it as an afterthought.

Bill Cates: And beyond that, where do your ideal customers congregate? And when I say congregate, it could be in person, it could be in industry trade show events. It could be a networking event, it could be Facebook, it could be LinkedIn, it could be Instagram. Where do they congregate? And of course, that’s where you want to reach out, and that’s where your message is best sent. And then we shouldn’t overlook the mail, because it’s amazing how few businesses are using that in combination with the digital.

Bill Cates: I call it tradigital. It’s like traditional and digital together. And we found that when we mix together, when we mail, we call, we mail, we promote through an email, LinkedIn, that variety of methodology. And usually our target market, we can usually identify one or two mediums that seem to work the best. But we also want to create a bit of variety, because you never know exactly where someone’s going to hit. Where do they congregate is the best way to think.

John Jantsch: And I think for some folks, some get this, some don’t, that even referrals have become more complex. I totally agree with you, that introduction. Especially high trust services, like you mentioned the financial advisor or an accountant or somebody. You’re really going to go out there and look for that somebody you trust to make an introduction. But there are a lot of businesses that, yeah, they want an introduction, but it’s not life or death on who they choose for that. And I think today they are going online and checking us out. Even when you get that referral today, I think a lot of people underestimate how much access to information people have, and that we’ve got to clean that information up too.

Bill Cates: Oh. Yeah, there’s no question. Quite often it’s your LinkedIn profile is the first thing that shows up, if not your website. And there’s got to be congruency there. So as an example, I was interviewing a financial advisor who decided to double down really in his commitment to the optometry industry. He’s the financial advisor to optometrists.

Bill Cates: And quite often when I see that, I’ll see maybe their website reflects that, but their LinkedIn profile doesn’t or the other things they do. But he’s totally congruent through all of that, sending the right message to the right people in the right way, where they get that. And you know as a marketer, that one of the most powerful dynamics or energies in marketing is empathy. People want to know that we have a sense of who they are. And when we narrow our focus and we target and then we bring in the right message to the right people in the right way, then we create that empathy. They get a sense that we have a sense of them through the questions we ask and the things that we teach, and that’s what creates that resonance where we earn the right to their attention.

John Jantsch: I want to remind you that this episode is brought to you by Klaviyo. Klaviyo helps you build meaningful customer relationships by listening and understanding cues from your customers, and this allows you to easily turn that information into valuable marketing messages. There’s powerful segmentation email autoresponders that are ready to go. Great reporting.

John Jantsch: You want to learn a little bit about the secret to building customer relationships? They’ve got a really fun series called Klaviyo’s Beyond Black Friday. It’s a docu-series, a lot of fun, quick lessons. Just head on over to, beyond black Friday.

John Jantsch: So, there are a lot of salespeople particularly that work for organizations that maybe haven’t gotten around to this notion of radical relevance in their marketing. Do you believe an individual salesperson could take this upon themselves to become radically relevant to the market they’re trying to serve, irrespective of the company?

Bill Cates: Absolutely. I’ll give you a couple for examples. In our book, I talk about strategic relevance and tactical relevance. And so even the sales person could have some impact on the strategic relevance. So for instance, I know a printing company that has 11 different salespeople, and each one of them is going after a different vertical market, a target market.

Bill Cates: I’m consulting with a CPA firm in the Washington DC area, and they have six vertical markets. And so we’re working on how they talk about their value, and how they reach out to these people and communicate to these people in each individual market. It’s going to be different for each one. It’s much more effective when they’re targeted. So that’s the strategic side. But then the tactical side, there’s too many easy ways to make sure you can learn a little bit about that person before you reach out to them.

Bill Cates: And gosh, how many people, John, do we get contacting us thinking they have the solution to our problems? They don’t even know who we are, and they don’t know what we do and they have no clue. If someone says, “I read your blog post or I read your book, or I saw that you went to the university of Maryland,” all of a sudden now I’ll pay attention because they at least took the time to get a sense of who I am.

Bill Cates: Here’s the way I look at it. From a tactical standpoint with salespeople, if in retail the keywords are location, location, location, the tactical side of relevance for salesperson is personalization, personalization, personalization. That we have to tailor to those specific people, and not be lazy and take those extra few minutes.

John Jantsch: Yeah. I get so frustrated myself. Every day, I get a reach out on LinkedIn or something that says, “I’d like to get on the phone with you for five minutes and learn about your business.” And I’m like, “If you can’t do one search and learn more than anybody should know about my business, then you’re not trying.”

Bill Cates: Exactly. They even ask a question like, “What’s your biggest challenge?” Well, if you knew a little something about my industry, you might be able to guess, and even that would be better. It’s taking the time, it’s not being lazy. Part of it is knowing the value and what a difference that makes.

Bill Cates: I’m using a tool now where I’ll send a video email out to people, and I just sent one to a guy I’ve been trying to reach for a long time. Finally sent him a 52 second video, and I just heard back from him. He says he’s interested in working with me. That’s a personalized way of reaching out to people. In fact, he says, “I’ll open up the email right now.” He says, “Very well done on grabbing my attention.” When you personalize, people appreciate it and you get complimented for doing it.

John Jantsch: Yeah. I’m a big fan of one to one videos, I’m calling that. Maybe a year from now people will be like, “Oh, I hate getting those personalized videos,” but right now it does allow you to stand out. So I totally agree. One of the things that I’ve been saying for for a while, and I think you say in this book, maybe in a little different manner. Is I think a lot of times we focus on what it is we sell, what solution we have as a company.

John Jantsch: And really the only thing that the buyer cares about is solving their problems. Half the time they wish they didn’t have to buy what we sell, but they’re just trying to solve their problems. I think if we started realizing, I think part of our relevance can be, “Hey, we can communicate what your problem is. We get your problem.” I see a lot of marketers start talking. Basically their entire marketing message starts when the person’s actually considering buying. And I think we have to actually start before they even know how to solve their problem. They just know it hurts.

Bill Cates: Yeah. And I think it also depends on where you reach them in the cycle, because context is everything when it comes to being relevant. If they come to you, they may be a little further along. They’ve done some research, you’ve got to find out what research have they done, where are they, what brought them to us? And so we gain context. On the other hand, if we’re reaching out to people, we don’t know where they are. The brain wants to solve problems. The brain wants to be safe. The brain is scanning six times a second. Am I safe? Where am I? Am I safe? Where am I? Am I safe? Three times a second it’s scanning, is there an opportunity? So the brain loves an opportunity. The brain loves to take action, but only when it feels safe.

Bill Cates: Guess what? When we start our message focusing a little bit on the problems, the mistakes people make or problems they might have, the brain resonates with that a little better. Then we can move on to the opportunities, because the brain likes that. And if we present ourselves as someone who knows their problem, can solve their problem, we’re making the brain happy, which is a very unconscious, subtle thing. But it’s very important.

Bill Cates: That’s how we display the empathy. Sometimes it’s through the questions we ask. Are you finding this the challenge, or how are you handling this? And that displays that we understand their world a little bit, and the brain wants to take action if it feels safe. The brain, by the way, I’ve got a chapter on neuroscience of relevance. One of the other things is the brain’s purpose is to keep the organism alive, and to expend less energy or the least energy as it possibly can.

Bill Cates: And so when we get too creative and we come up with messaging that we think is kind of clever and cute and we put a couple of words together that don’t really belong together and all that, all we’re going to do is confuse the brain and the brain is going to be off on something else. It doesn’t want to work very hard to understand our message. We want to start with concepts that the brain understands first before we introduce anything that might be a little bit more clever or complicated.

John Jantsch: Yeah, I see that all the time. And I’ve been guilty of it, probably. You think, “Oh, well, let’s offer him three different versions because then they can decide.” And all they end up doing is shutting down because they don’t want to decide.

Bill Cates: I’ll tell you. Donald Miller, who’s a master at this part of the clarity part, says, “If you confuse, you lose.” And it’s true, and there’s physiological evidence around that for why that happens. And so I’ll tell you this whole concept of clarity, John. If you can help people get clear on where they are, what their context is, and where they want to be related to what you do and how they’re going to get there.

Bill Cates: Just that clarity of where they are, they’re here, they’re there and what it’s going to take to get there. That is so valuable and so rich in building trust. And then you also want to make sure that you’re clear on how to work with you. You can’t make it hard or complicated. There’s a concept called cognitive fluency. Look it up. It’s very interesting. If how you explain things or navigating your website or anything that you put out there is complicated and the brain doesn’t grasp it intuitively quickly, it automatically assumes that working with you is going to be complicated. Many people will abandon, so that whole concept of clarity is huge.

John Jantsch: Bill, tell people where they can find out more about your work. And of course, pick up a copy of Radical Relevance.

Bill Cates: Sure. Oh, I appreciate that. Well certainly Amazon has all my books, or wherever you may be in the world. It has Radical Relevance. It’s paperback, it’s Kindle and it’s an audio book. And then my website is I’m not leaving the world of teaching people how to get more referrals and introductions. I’m just expanding part of the toolkit that one needs to bring in more clients. So, referral

John Jantsch: And relevance obviously is just as crucial in the world of referrals as it is in an email marketing campaign. So, absolutely necessary.

Bill Cates: Yeah, absolutely.

John Jantsch: Yeah. All right, Bill, great catching up with you. Hopefully we will see you soon someday out there on the road.

Bill Cates: Sounds good, John. Thanks.

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The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur

by John Jantsch

“A book that deserves a spot in every entrepreneur’s morning routine.”
—Ryan Holiday, #1 Bestselling Author of The Daily Stoic and The Obstacle is the Way

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