Episode 254 | Posted on

Podcasts as Authority Boosters with Steve Gordon

Selling your expertise in the form of premium-priced, intangible services is difficult. Unfortunately, most of the marketing and sales advice you find isn’t designed for the reality of selling and scaling your expertise. 

My guest today, Steve Gordon helps professionals, consultants, agencies, and experts build marketing systems to pre-sell their ideal clients, so they don’t have to become master marketers or salespeople. He created Unstoppable CEO and he is the host of the Unstoppable CEO podcast. He is generously offering a copy of his book Podcast Prospecting free for my listeners, so stick around to the end of the episode to hear how to get that. 

In today’s episode, Steve drops considerable knowledge about podcasting as a sales and marketing channel. Steve has mastered so many aspects of this arena, including how to repurpose podcast content across a plethora of platforms. So, if you’re interested in learning from someone at the top of his podcast game and you want to know more about the profit minute and the Inevitable Growth scorecard, you’re going to want to stay tuned for this chock-full-of-value episode.

In this Episode

  • [00:30] – Stephan introduces Steve Gordon, an entrepreneur and bestselling author. He’s also the host of The Unstoppable CEO podcast and has published over 400 articles on marketing and sales for professional service firms.
  • [06:17] – Steve talks about his book, Podcast Prospecting: The Ultimate Guide For Winning High-Ticket Clients With A Podcast.
  • [12:44] – Steve has a way of breaking down podcast episodes into three categories. This makes up a powerful combination and an advantage to competitors.
  • [19:36] – What are some of the metrics to measure success in podcasting?
  • [25:41] – Stephan explains why your podcast download is not a metric you should fixate on.
  • [32:17] – Stephan shares how interviewing Jay Abraham for his first ten podcast episodes made a domino effect for interviewing other high caliber guests.
  • [38:02] – Steve talks about the many advantages of podcasting to allow business owners to access high-level marketing.
  • [45:38] – Stephan talks about his experience in doing a 9-Word Email strategy from Dean Jackson.
  • [52:41] – Stephan describes what an unremarkable testimonial looks like and shares how to avoid doing it.
  • [56:05]  – Visit Steve Gordon’s website, unstoppableceo.net to learn more about building marketing systems. Grab a free copy of his book Podcast Prospecting unstoppableceo.net/marketingspeak.

Jump to Links and Resources


Steve, it’s so great to have you on the show.

Stephan, thanks for having me. This is gonna be fun.

So, first of all, why the name the Unstoppable CEO? You’re like a marketing guy who wants to help businesses grow through marketing, why is it the Unstoppable CEO?

I get asked that a lot. And the answer goes back to a conversation that I had with a buddy of mine, not long after I started the business, and he was asking me like, “Who do you want to serve? Who’s your target market? Who is your ideal client?” And I started describing, and it’s the business owners who’ve been doing it for a while; they’ve been reasonably successful, but it wasn’t easy. And because I knew lots of guys who had started companies and just had to slog through it, a bank that wouldn’t give them the loan that they needed, or they had a client that stiffed them. All of the horror stories that we all know, they had that one payroll where they were hoping that the check from the client would clear before the payroll hit. And I started describing all this stuff to him, and he said, “Oh, you mean like they’re unstoppable?” I was like, “Oh, that’s it.” “That described who we want to be – a hero.” And so we named the company that and keeps in focus for us who we’re trying to serve. 

Okay. So you’ve been prolific with your article writing, it’s over 400. How do you have time to generate all that content when you’re helping all these different clients?

I need to update that, I think we’re up to over 1200 articles. 

Oh, wow. 

For about four years, I wrote a daily email to our list. So one article a day, and it’s amazing how quickly you’ll rack up the numbers when you do that. I wouldn’t recommend doing that, we don’t do it anymore, but it was transformational for us at the time.

So what was transformational about it?

Number one, it improved my writing both speed and clarity of the ideas that we were using. And our business grew dramatically, our audience grew. Everybody told me when I went from weekly to daily that everybody would unsubscribe, and it’s funny the exact opposite thing happened. So we have more subscribers, and they were more engaged.

That’s cool. So you stopped, though, was it too exhausting?

Yeah, after four years of it, the pressure just gets to you. Coming up with something new to say, or a different way to say something you’ve already said half a dozen times can be a challenge. At that point, we switched from that model to our current model, which is where we use a podcast and meet much like we’re doing here with experts from all over the world and share their expertise with our audience.

When trying to get clients, make sure you give your prospects a reason to believe in you. Click To Tweet

Okay. Have you had many SEO episodes?

Gosh, I need to have you on, I think we’ve only had one.

Okay, yeah. Well, I know a guy.

Good to know a guy, right? 

Yeah. So I’m very keen on podcasting. I have two shows, not to be outdone by those who just have one weekly show. I had to have two. That’s daunting, and I can’t even imagine doing an article or a newsletter a day for four years, I’ve been doing these two shows for four and a half, almost five years. And it’s exhausting, it’s a lot of expense. I wouldn’t call it a profit center yet, because it just doesn’t generate enough revenue to pay for itself. And it’s expensive when you add up my two shows plus my wife, Orion, has a show called Stellar Life Podcast. That’s six figures a year in expenses to run those shows. 

I have a team around me, and we also outsource for audio editing and stuff like that. So yeah, it’s very expensive, but we have a high production value. I want great audio, I want to have a long-form, blog post type of show notes, and not just these big walls of text or transcripts. I don’t think people read boring transcripts that haven’t been edited into an article format. We put a lot of time into it. Now I, myself, I don’t put a ton into it, I’m just doing the hour-long recording two or a few times a week because we’re trying to get ahead of things with the schedule. 

This show, for example, I’ve got three months in the can already. So this episode will air in three months roughly from today. So I got things dialed in and so forth, but I would love to hear about your experience with switching from that model of the daily newsletter/articles to podcasting, both sides of the mic being a host and a guest, and what you’ve gotten out of it. I think you’ve got a book out now about this very topic – about leveraging podcasts in your marketing, correct?

Podcast Prospecting by Steve Gordon

Yeah, so as we’re recording this, just within the last week, we’ve released a new book called Podcast Prospecting, which is kind of a detailed look at how we’re using podcasts a little bit differently. For us and for the clients that we work with, the podcast isn’t so much about who listens, but it’s who is on the other side of the screen. So right now, you and I can see each other, and during this interview, we’re going to build a little bit of a relationship more than what we had coming in, and we’re going to know each other a little bit better. And what we found is it’s just a really powerful way to create new business relationships or extend existing business relationships and do that by giving value to the person that you’re interviewing as a guest on the podcast. You’re allowing them to come on and highlight all of their expertise, and then you’re going to turn around and share that with everybody that you know. For most business owners, they’ll jump at the chance. So that’s kind of been our approach. And I stumbled into this back before podcasts existed. 

Back in my first business, I owned an engineering consulting firm, and we would periodically go and interview people, maybe it was somebody in the local Chamber of Commerce or the Economic Development Council, but somebody who was a center of influence and knew all the people we wanted to get introduced to. It’d be a great way to build a relationship with them. We’d interview them, which was complicated back then, and we take that interview and put it on CDs, and then we mail those CDs out. So I now call that the “ghetto podcast.” We mail them out to all of the people in our network, and we give the other person copies, and they could share it with the people that they know. And what we found is just a great way to get introduced to new people. 

So along came podcasts, and in 2012, I said, “I’ve got this new business, and I’m going to start interviewing marketing experts from all over the world. And in 2012, I had a podcast called the Small Business Marketing Show, and I interviewed 50 experts, many of which are our colleagues, we both know them. And it was great, the business grew. Unfortunately, I got busy because of all the things you just described in your podcast, you got to edit them, and you’ve got to do transcripts, articles, social media, and all this other stuff. And I didn’t have a team at the time, which was a big mistake, and the podcast stopped. But all those relationships proved to be valuable. A couple of years later, when I launched my first book, I was able to go back to those people, and 15 of the 50 people we interviewed were kind enough to share that book with their audiences. And in that first week, we had 5,268 people get a copy of my book. I had less than 1000 people on my email list at the time. So if you think about that, I 5x my leads, our businesses impact, our footprint in the world, because of these 15 relationships that I created through a podcast.

Create something that compels people to join, comment, and share or simply something that can brighten or add value to their day.

That’s awesome. So you’re doing it to increase your reach, and build your list, funnel, and lead flow. How about link building, are you using the strategy of being a host and a guest to get links to your website and build up your authority and trust in the eyes of Google?

Yeah, we do that now. I’m in the midst of what I’m calling the Unstoppable Podcast Tour. I’ve done about 70 interviews now over the last year and a half.

That’s a lot.

It’s a lot. We’ve been doing about once per week for a little bit over a year. But it’s great for link building, it helps the SEO footprint. In addition to that, it allows you to create great relationships. From my entire experience in business, as great as all of the technical stuff is that you can do on the internet. I’ve always found that I get much better results from the relationships that I’m able to create one person to one person. Because if I can go to a person who hosts a podcast and have them interview me like we’re doing here and get my message out that way, it’s really powerful. Or if I can have somebody come on my podcast and then have them share our podcast with the world or with their little piece of the world, then again, it’s a very easy way to get them to spread the word. But beyond that, we’ve got a process that we use to kind of take it to the next level. 

So when we’re coaching one of our clients, and they have someone on their podcast, we teach them a simple way to plug into where that guest is going in the future. At the end of the interview, after we’re done here, I imagine we’re going to have 5 or 10 minutes and have a little conversation. And what we teach our clients to do is just ask that guest, what are your goals? I learned so much about your business throughout this interview, and it’s got me intrigued. What are your goals over the next three years? And as that business owner lays out their goals, they’re giving you the roadmap for how you can come back and add value to them in the future. That’s the only way you’re ever going to sell them anything. If you don’t plug into where they’re going, there’s no opportunity, so they’ve now given you the roadmap to do that. And by doing that, you’ve got this easy model to connect with strategic potential clients or strategic centers of influence and referral partners, and then figure out how you can be a value to them going forward.

That’s great. And I would say, let’s add clients to the list too, because this is a great opportunity to turn a podcast interview into a case study. And they might be a little reticent to share a lot of numbers and to have something like an official case study, but many of them will be happy to be a guest on your show. And next thing you know, you’ve got enough material that could be a case study. I’ve had multiple clients as guests over the years on this show. And I just love that, and it’s such great social proof as well for your listeners.

Absolutely, we always teach our clients to break your podcast episodes down into three categories. We’ve talked about interviewing people that maybe will move your business forward in the future. You’ve talked about clients, that’s the second category. And the third is having solo episodes where you’re coming on and sharing your wisdom and expertise. And that combination works powerfully because you’re doing things to open up new business relationships. You’re interviewing people who you’ve already had success with, and they’re kind of this real-world live demonstration of what you can do for your clients. And then by sharing your kind of unique approach to things and I’ve never met a business owner who didn’t have that. For most of us, that’s why we got into the business because we believe that we had some unique knowledge, some unique twist on the way things were done in our industry that was an advantageous approach for our clients. And by getting that out there now, you give people a reason to believe in you and a reason to look at you differently than all of your competitors.

That’s great. And I occasionally do solo episodes, I find it very difficult to do them because I just don’t get into a flow state as much if I’m talking to dead air instead of a human being on the other end. But I did one not too long ago a solo episode on hiring an SEO, whether it’s a consultant, or an employee or an agency, I have a seven-step hiring process. There are trick questions in the interview that I give to the listeners, and I call it the SEO BS Detector so that they can slip those in, knowing that there’s only one right answer to each of those. And the interviewee doesn’t know that they’re being tested in that way. And then they can see if that agency or individual is blowing smoke. 

I've seen people start podcasts and as soon as work starts to pile behind the scenes, they quickly get overwhelmed. Missing this foresight can set them up for failure. Click To Tweet

So that was a great solo episode, but it took me twice or three times as long to produce that episode than it would be to just do a regular episode. So I’m not keen on doing a lot of those because of all the extra effort, but I know I should be doing more of those. From a thought leadership standpoint, I should be doing more of that. But I think that my listeners get a sense for my mastery of marketing, just in the questions that I asked and the commentary in between my guests’ answers, but it certainly does position you differently to do more solo episodes. How many do you do? Like what percentage?

We’ve upped it, we’re experimenting now with a one-for-one, so one guest and then one solo. And we didn’t always do that, and I don’t know that we’ll continue it, but we’re testing that right now. We’ve been testing it for about six months. The one thing that we have seen, we’ve gotten a lot of little love notes from our subscribers, since we’ve been doing them that they enjoy them. And we’ve seen an increase in the number of people booking sales conversations since we started. So my sense is anecdotally they’re working. As you know, with podcasting, it’s hard to track that somebody listens to this episode over here, and now they’ve taken this action, but we see an increase in activity. So we’ll keep testing that.

Okay, that brings up a great question around tracking success. If you were to look directly at the number of leads coming in from my podcasts and make a decision about investing six figures a year, you probably had stopped a long time ago. But I keep going because I just know that I’m revealing light in the world, I’m doing good in the world, and it’s like business karma, it’s going to come back to reward you. And even if you don’t get the immediate revenue, justification, I think there are intangibles that happen. And like you said, with forging great relationships, I’ve had that happen. 

Carter Cast, for example, former CEO of walmart.com, I had him on my other show in Get Yourself Optimized. It was a great conversation, and really powerful. And he decided to introduce me to one of his partners at his VC firm. He’s part of a VC firm in Chicago, and that partner introduced me to one of her portfolio clients or portfolio companies, and then they talked to me about SEO services. So I haven’t done any deal or anything, but that’s an example of a great relationship, and I do value that. It doesn’t directly yet relate to revenue, but your net worth is your network, as they say.

And I think that’s where a lot of people get tripped up with podcasting is they think because it is an internet medium, that it’s going to generate leads, like SEO will or like paid advertising that all of a sudden you’re going to, do all of this work, and now you’re going to be generating hundreds or thousands or tens of thousands of leads a month. And podcasting is not best used as a lead generation tool, and it’s a lead conversion tool because it allows you to build a relationship with another person at scale in a way that the written word will never be able to do. 

That’s one of the reasons I switched from that daily email and switched and began doing podcasts again because what I found after writing all of those emails was that it’s difficult to create relationships and convey emotion and in that kind of feeling through the written word. It’s not impossible, but it’s very hard, and the vast majority of business owners can’t do it. But we all know how to talk, we all know how to have a conversation, and we’re all pretty natural at it if we’ve been in business and been successful. And so it’s a medium that allows you to use kind of leverage the power of the human voice, and use that to build relationships and do it at a massive scale.

So you get to inject your personality through your voice, you get to build a more intimate kind of relationship with the listeners because you’re talking into their ear for half an hour, or in my case, a full hour. And it’s a commitment. So when they commit that, to spend an hour listening to an episode, they want something out of it, and they’re more vested in the ROI of that time. So I’m very pro podcasting, I’m not planning on stopping just because it hasn’t directly generated enough revenue to cover the expenses. That said, I would like to start tracking some additional metrics with the show that helped me to know that I’m on the right track. And I’m curious what sort of metrics you would recommend, like, number of sales conversations generated with guests or introductions made, what are some of these metrics that you measure?

It depends on where you’ve placed the podcasts strategically. If your focus is to look at the very strategic prospects that you want to connect with, then yeah, you’d want to measure. Like, for a year, if you do weekly, let’s say 52 of these high-level prospects, how many of those converted? And we take a kind of a dream 100 approach to that, where you map out the people you want to work with and go directly to them. And that’s one approach. You may also look at, okay, I want to get in front of all of the key influencers in my market, and I want to create strategic partnerships with them. 

Any type of content production can be quite time consuming and costly. Make sure that you are investing wisely in your resources.

One of our clients, who has started a kind of a local, virtual CFO business, and he wanted to expand that nationally. He started a podcast with us, through his first nine interviews, so he interviewed people who had an audience that we’re all made up of business owners that he wanted to be in front of. As I described earlier, he connected with them at the end of that interview and talked a little bit about where their future was, where they were going. And he was able to come back and say, “Do all the people in your audience ever have challenges with profitability?” and, of course, they’ll say yes, every business has challenges with profitability. 

“So while I’ve got this great presentation that I deliver as a webinar sometimes for people, would you be interested in having me come and do that for your audience?” And so he went then and presented two, the first nine that he interviewed, he got seven of those people to agree to host a webinar for him. And he generated about 250 leads and eight clients, and these are not small clients. These are clients that are paying him a fair amount of money every year, and that is sticky over the long term. For him, it was his two biggest months in the business so far. He went from being a local business in South Carolina to be a national business with clients all over almost overnight, and we hadn’t even launched his podcast yet. 

And so, I mean, so in that respect where you’re targeting these key relationships in the metric would be okay, well, how many of these are turning into opportunities for me to go share my expertise with their audience? And then, how many leads does that generate? So there are different ways you can look at it, and of course, you want to be looking at your listenership, and we listen for things in sales conversations. I’ll have somebody tell me in a sales conversation, “Oh, I was referred to your podcast by a buddy, and I’ve been listening to it for three months now, and you’re my guy.” When I hear things like that, I don’t need big numbers of those, but I need a small number of people who are so pre-sold, that by the time that we’re on the phone, it’s just a matter of what are the terms and are we a fit?

And I have clients who listen to my shows too, and so I know that they’re getting value from that. That’s part of the value equation why they’re working with me. I’m curious is the CFO person you’re talking about is Adam Lean, The CFO Project

Oh, it is. Yeah.

About two hours ago, I just interviewed him for my other show, for Get Yourself Optimized.

That’s great. He’s a great guy.

Yes, he is. That was a great interview, by the way, listeners, it’s already live now, by the time you’re listening to this episode, so definitely go check out Adam Lean, The CFO Project on Get Yourself Optimized. So what would be some of the gotchas and some of the mistakes that you see most in using podcasting as a marketing channel?

The first failure point that we see is, somebody will say, “I want to do this,” but they won’t have a team. And I’ve seen people get going and as you know, there’s a lot of work behind the scenes and a lot of very technical stuff. And that’ll quickly be overwhelming, and so they won’t get very far. And the way that you want to approach this, as an entrepreneur, is you want to show up and talk. Everything else needs to be taken care of behind the scenes, you’re the talent, your job is to build the relationship with the person that you’re interviewing, and then lead that relationship into a business opportunity if there’s anything there. And so that needs to be your focus, all the technical stuff should be handled by others. So that’s kind of the failure point number one. 

The other is in really focusing far too much on the audience numbers; again, people look at this as it’s an internet marketing kind of medium. And so now that I can go out to all 7 billion people on the planet, I want them all. And that’s not where you’re going to make your money with podcasting. You’re gonna make it in the relationships that you build with the people that are on the other side of the mic from you. And so you want to focus on what we call the small audience, and that’s the audience of people that you interview and whether it’s clients or prospects or referral partners, first and foremost. And particularly if you’re selling something that is a high ticket, you’re going to be far more successful focusing there, and then, allow the audience that listens to be a great strategic byproduct of the whole thing, a bonus. 

We see people get that backward all the time, and they get really worried about the fact that they don’t have an audience. And one of the things that I’ve discovered in podcasting is that the audience that you launch with and grow is directly proportional to the audience that you have coming into the podcast from your email list or social media or from anywhere else. So it’s rare that you’re gonna magically create an audience that you don’t already have through podcasting.

Yeah, and this brings up another point too, that a lot of folks are not just fixated on reaching a big audience, and that’s the whole point, but they’re fixated on a particular metric, and that’s downloads. And the problem with downloads is, it doesn’t show you how much they’re listening, which episodes they’re listening to, where they are in the sales pipeline or the funnel, it’s just kind of a brain dead metric. And if you want to increase downloads, just go from a weekly show to daily show, boom, now you got seven times the downloads. 

But many of these downloads will happen just in the background, because they’ve subscribed and that they’re not listening to all of them, they’re just automatically being downloaded with their podcatcher app, whatever they’re using. That’s a problem because now you do not see what is the metric that moves like any decision-making process, it’s not a data-driven decision-making type of process you’re engaged in by looking at these numbers. I used to get fixated on download numbers, and I have to let go of that. Even though the numbers are not what I’d like them to be, I know that I am on the right track anyway.

Well, download numbers, for me, they’ve always been kind of like website traffic, they’re never where I want them to be.

A bond created and a relationship nurtured can bring out something magical. Click To Tweet


It’s interesting, though. People who look at it from a download perspective, they have in their mind that it’s going to generate leads, and this is not the right place to use the podcast in your funnel. You want something else generating leads on the front end. And you want your podcast there as the thing that allows you to show up week after week after week in the life of every prospect, and show up with something valuable that they’re going to pay attention to. So when somebody gets your email, Stephan, and the latest episode of the podcast is out, you want them to go, “Wow, I wonder who Stephan interviewed this week. Let me tune into that.” 

Because now you’ve got something where you can embed all of your other marketing into. So you can give them the way to take the next step with you and do business with you embedded in that, you can give them the other things you offer, you can lead them to all of the other places where they convert now that you’ve generated that lead and they’re listening to you and paying attention. And you’ve got the excuse to show up every week, and the best part about it is you don’t have to create all the content. Today I’m showing it; we’re having a conversation, but I’m creating most of the content here, and then when somebody comes on my show, they create most of the content, so I don’t have to come up with it all the time. It’s a very easy way to create that ongoing content that you need to stay top of mind with people.

Getting Things Done by David Allen

Right. And also, I’ve learned such amazing things if I can get an hour with somebody who is an expert in a certain area, somebody who could teach me something powerful, potentially transformational for my business or my personal life, that’s an incredible gift. I’ve interviewed David Allen, for example, the creator of the GTD Methodology, and author of the book Getting Things Done, which transformed my life. I’ve been using it for, and I don’t know 15 years. So to be able to ask him every question under the sun that I had, because I was hitting some roadblocks, some different things, like I had an out of control inbox at the time when I first interviewed him. And I asked him, “How do I get to inbox zero?” “This just seems so daunting. I have thousands of emails in my inbox, and I just can’t seem to get caught up,” he said, “Create a DMZ folder, Demilitarized Zone, and move all of your current inbox into that.” 

Now you’re going to start fresh, and you’re going to keep that current inbox zero with that, and if you have time and the inclination, go through the DMZ folder and start processing that as well, but you have to. You just keep up with this day zero of starting with a clean slate, and that changed the game for me. I’ve been inbox zero ever since. And I don’t manage my email myself, and I have my team doing that. So if you email me, stephan@stephanspencer.com, you will just know that whatever you say is going to be read first by my team and not by me. It’s a huge relief to not have to keep up on that on myself. 

But yeah, that’s just a powerful way to have conversations with people who can lead you on a new path. I got some great stuff from Adam, talking about Adam Lean, your client. There’s some stuff I got from that interview that I want to re-listen to that episode because I’m in interview mode, and it’s harder to take notes and so forth while I’m doing that for my learning. So I’m gonna re-listen, and start applying some of the stuff I learned from Adam.

It’s amazing who you’ll be able to connect with. Oftentimes, you will have clients that will reach out to people that they really would have no way of getting on the telephone otherwise. I had one client who hadn’t launched his podcast yet, and he’s a financial advisor who’s starting a business consulting firm that kind of has an offshoot of his advisory practice. And he’s really into fitness, and he wanted to interview Tony Horton. We hadn’t launched this podcast yet, but he sent a cold email, he’s like, “Do you think I should email him?” I’m like, “Well, it can’t hurt worse he could do to say no.” He emails Tony Horton out of the blue, the guy that invented P90X. Within a couple of hours, he gets an email back from one of Tony’s assistants that says, “Yeah, he’d love to do it. When, where, how do we do it?” Here’s this guy that’s in the middle of the country with no podcast live anywhere yet, and he’s booked an interview on his, yet to be released podcast with Tony Horton.

Whether they’re clients, business partners, podcast guests, or sponsors, it’s better to establish rapport before closing the deal.

That’s great. I’m gonna email Tony Horton, and I want him on to Get Yourself Optimized because there are some great fitness episodes on there. What an amazing way to start your podcast to have one of your first guests be somebody of such high caliber, it’s the domino effect. I did that with this show I had in the first ten episodes, I had Jay Abraham, and being able to name drop Jay when I’m inviting other guests, they don’t even ask me what my download numbers are or any of that, because it’s like, “Oh, well, if Jay Abraham is on your show, okay, fine I’ll do it too.” That’s very, very cool. The power of social proof. 

Now, speaking of social proof, and having big guests and getting on other shows that are big podcasters. One thing that I’ve found, and I’m guessing you’ve done this too, is you get a really big name on your show which is easier, and then through the conversation and through dropping your knowledge bombs and so forth, during interviewing the person, by the end, they’re like, I want to have you on my show. So I did that, for example, with John Lee Dumas I had him on, actually, both of my shows this show and Get Yourself Optimized. And he said I gotta have you on Entrepreneurs On Fire. So this was before him charging to be a guest, he now charges a fee. But I was able to get on one of the most popular business podcasts just because I did great interviews with him.

It’s so interesting because you get into a conversation with someone who, before you meet them in this context, you might as well be unreachable to you. But now you’re in the conversation, it’s a pretty intimate setting, even though we’re not in the same place. But it’s you and I are looking at each other across Skype in this case, and we’re going to spend an hour together, we’ve invested most of that time already. The bond that you create there, the relationship that’s created something magical about it. I used to go around, and I would network locally, and I did that for a long time. I was involved in one of those big networking organizations for something. I was an officer in a BNI chapter for a long time. And they recommend that their best-performing people spend like eight to ten hours a week networking, just networking. 

That’s the coffee dates, the lunches, the breakfast meetings, all that, I was doing that and maybe a little bit more. It was exhausting. And I don’t do any of that anymore at all because this creates better relationships, even though we’re not in the same place, and there’s a purpose behind it. So instead of me sitting and having a conversation, if we were going to do this in sort of that local networking setting, you and I would be sitting at a coffee shop somewhere, you’d be telling me about all the great things you do, I’d be telling you all the stories I’ve told you about podcasting, and nobody else would benefit from it. But instead, we can kind of do it in public here, and everybody that’s listening gets the benefit of this. And we both immediately get some business benefit out of it, because you get some content that you can use to nurture everybody in your world, and I get the opportunity to get introduced to them. So right away, instead of showing up to the network and hoping that some collaboration will happen after the fact, we’re collaborating right here and right now. I just find that so much more powerful.

That reminds me of how I started my other podcast, Get Yourself Optimized, it used to be called The Optimized Geek. The whole reason behind starting that podcast was I was interviewing subject matter experts for a self-help book about personal transformation. I had a ghostwriter to help me because I hate writing, which is ironic considering how much I’ve written with my three books and more on the way. But the ghostwriter tells me that he’s going to interview these subject matter experts. He’ll get the interview transcribed, he’ll pull different bits and pieces out of that, and then he’ll throw out the audio, and the transcript and just little bits and pieces will remain that make it into the book. I’m like, wow, that is a colossal waste of an opportunity with all these amazing subject matter experts, people like Dave Asprey and so forth. 

You’re going to toss out that original interview because it’s not needed for the book? What the heck? No, I’m gonna do these interviews. So that’s what I did. And I started back in, gosh, when was that? 2015 and the book’s still not done because whatever. It is a long process; let’s just put it that way to get a book done. By the way, listeners, if you have any connections to St. Martin’s Press, or Hay House, one of these great kinds of more metaphysical types of publishers, please introduce me, or if you have a great agent to introduce me to who specializes in those kinds of books. Because this book is a self-help book, but with a kind of a spiritual slant. And so the book is still not done but what a great podcast that came out of it. And that then spurred me on to start this podcast. So that started first and then a few months later, I’m like, alright, I’m gonna do a marketing show as well, because why not? You got an itch to scratch, and it just so happens that the byproduct reveals a bunch of light out in the world for a lot of listeners. That’s pretty cool.

Three questions you should ask your guests: Who do you want to serve? Who's your target market? Who is your ideal client? Click To Tweet

That’s been our approach to podcasting. It’s not that I’m particularly in love with podcasting as a medium, but for the vast majority of business owners who are not professional marketers, and don’t desire to become professional marketers, and that’s about 99.9% of all business owners, right? For them sitting down to try and write something that is going to go in their marketing is difficult. And what we found was that this is an accessible way for you to do a lot of things with very minimal effort on the part of an entrepreneur. So they can create great strategic relationships, which we’ve already talked about, they can get great case studies, which we’ve talked about, they can use those solo episodes to help hone their marketing message because as they’re speaking yet, they’re going to get it more and more refined. And then all of that can be taken and repurposed. 

And so we take those solo episodes when we’re working with a client, and we’ll actually help them organize their ideas, their intellectual property and get it organized enough that we can take their solo episodes, and then turn them into a book using a ghostwriter. So now they’ve got a book that’ll do lead generation for them. There’s a referral process that we build on top of having that book, and then, of course, we do all the follow-up marketing, and all of their social media content comes from the podcast. So the business owners experience, I show up once a week for about an hour, and I have this cool and fun interview with somebody that I wanted to connect with that would have been hard to connect with anyway, and then all this other stuff just happens. And that’s why I like podcasts because it allows somebody who’s not a professional marketer to really get access to high-level marketing and do it pretty affordably. 

That’s great. And one thing I had to train myself to do, I still miss some of these opportunities, but I got to remember to cede my expertise and the kind of clients that I work with and so forth in the episodes where I’m not the guest, I’m the host. So instead of just asking questions, I’ve got to drop some knowledge bombs and value bombs that incorporate some social proof like, “Oh, when I was working with Chanel, I had this sort of problem we were trying to solve,” and I did work with Chanel, or Zappos, or CNBC, or Bloomberg Businessweek, or Bed Bath and Beyond like, these are all past clients of mine that I could like drop little mentions of into the course of the interview. And that is, as you said, it’s not for lead generation purposes as much as it’s nurturing that lead and moving them closer to a sale, or to become a client. So somebody who’s listening, who already is considering me hearing a case example where I’m citing an issue that we had with Chanel and how we solved it. It’s like, wow, this guy is kind of a big deal.

Well, you want to fit those things in where they make sense, but you also want to make sure that every episode has something that leads a potential client to the next step. Maybe you’re doing that already with a commercial or some type of promotion. And they’re one of the things we’ve talked about Adam Lean from The CFO Project. One of the things that we’ve done on his podcast is we’ve created the Profit Minute. And so at the beginning of the episode, he has this little segment called the Profit Minute, and he explains some key financial terms or explains some number that you should be tracking to improve your profitability. And it’s really short and to the point, but every time you hear exactly what he does, and you see that he’s got this expertise, and then it flows right into the regular episode.

Oh, I love that. Do you mind if I R&D that? Rip off and duplicate?

Yeah, go for it. 

Yeah, the SEO minute or something like that. I’m gonna take that. Awesome. Thank you. That’s so important, and that is something that I neglect. I don’t take any advertisers or sponsors on, and I don’t really have my mid-rolls for the most part sometimes, very occasionally I’ll insert a mid-roll about, let’s say, a five day SEO challenge that I’m running or something like that, but usually not. So this is a great opportunity. And like you say, you want to lead the horse to the water, you want to lead that prospect to the next stage and not have them try and kind of figure it out on their own. That’s great.

They want that. They’re listening to you, and they’re part of your tribe. And I think you have a responsibility to at least show them, hey, here’s how we can help. When you’re ready, here’s how we help, and that way, you’re not leaving them hanging.

Right. So what do you think for my tribe, what would that be? Because I could invite them to a webinar, a live one or automated, prerecorded one, I could invite them to do like a one on one strategy call with me or an SEO critique type session. I could offer some sort of free download, a lead magnet, and I could have them participate in a five day or seven-day long challenge. Download some sort of workbook or worksheet or checklist or something that starts them down this process of planning and strategizing, like, what would you suggest?

Well, so are you familiar with Dean Jackson from I Love Marketing


Okay, so Dean’s got this great concept for email called “The Super Signature.” I don’t know if you’ve ever seen that concept of his. We’ve taken that, we’ve adapted it for podcasts. And so what you might do at the end of each episode is say, “Folks, thanks for listening whenever you’re ready, here are three ways we can help.” And you list the first way, which might be a download. So for our podcast, the first thing we always share is to make sure you subscribe to the podcast if you’re not a subscriber so that you continue to get these episodes. The second way is with a scorecard. So we have something called the Inevitable Growth scorecard where you can go and score yourself in ten minutes and see really how you stack up in terms of having all the things in place that you need to grow your business consistently. And you’ll also see which areas you need to focus on. 

So in ten minutes, you get this great kind of snapshot of what to focus on. And then the third way is if you want one on one help, you can go here and book a time and talk with me. And so it sort of takes people from wherever they are, some people aren’t ready to get on the phone, but they might be curious about how they can move forward, so they have that intermediate, little step. And some people are just starting, and we just want to get them engaged and subscribe to the podcast. So you give them these different on-ramps with different levels of commitment based on where they might be.

That’s great. So the Inevitable Growth Scorecard, that’s what you call it? 

That’s what we call it. Yeah. Because I like to make growth inevitable.

From Impossible to Inevitable by Aaron Ross & Jason Lemkin

That’s great. That reminds me of the book, From Impossible to Inevitable. Are you familiar with that book?

I’m not. I have to look it up now. 

I’ve had the author on my podcast. He’s fabulous. So again, I would love to R&D that scorecard and doing like an SEO scorecard because what a great opportunity for my listeners to be able to self assess if their SEO is a shambles or if it’s in pretty good shape. That’s great. And I love how you’ve innovated on Dean Jackson’s Super Signature. It makes a lot of sense. 


Do you also employ Dean’s strategy of the 9-Word Email?

We do. We send those periodically, and it’s very effective.

Give me an example of the kind of 9-Word Email that you would send out and what kind of results you get.

So we’re just beginning to experiment this with my new book. And so as people are getting the book, Dean’s whole theory is people are either going to buy in one of the two-time frames; now or later. Which I think is a great way to simplify, right? And for those who get the book, but maybe aren’t ready to work with us one-on-one to help create a podcast for them, 90 days out from when they get the book, they’ll get an email, “Hey, are you ready to start your podcast?” And so it’s a little early, the book has only been out about a week, so nobody’s gotten that email yet. I don’t have any numbers for you yet, but I’ll come back and share.

Okay. So an example that I sent out not too long ago, I was doing a workshop with BJ Fogg and Naveen Jain. So I was putting out these nine-word emails asking people if they wanted to attend and hear us speak. But the way that I worded the email was not great, because some folks thought that they were being invited to also speak. So that was a little awkward. I had to explain the email to several folks who are like, “Well, let me check my schedule, and what do you pay for a speaking fee.” Well, I am sorry, that was not what I was meaning, but it definitely generated a lot of interest and email replies, it just didn’t fill enough butts and seats, so we ended up having to postpone it because we didn’t get enough registrations. 

But it’s a great strategy, and this 9-Word Email approach is very powerful. And one tip from Dean, you might have heard this already, but this was pivotal to me to get success with it, is it needs to be charged neutral. In other words, it can’t be kind of emotionally negative or overly positive, just kind of neutral. So like, “Would you be interested in a workshop that I put on with BJ Fogg, the behavioral scientist expert?” is charged neutral, and if it were a nine-word email, it would be more like, “I’m so excited BJ Fogg said yes!!! We’re doing a workshop,” right? Or if it’s negative, like, “Have you completely given up on SEO? Because it kind of looks like it,” that’s a very negative, not charged neutral kind of nine-word email. And that’s not going to be very effective either. So having that little distinction was a game-changer for me with these nine-word emails.

That’s brilliant. I’m gonna have to write that down and make sure we do that as we implement it.

Big difference there. So I wanted to go into this idea of case studies a bit more. So taking an episode where you’ve interviewed the client, and now you’ve got a lot of raw material, that’s great. But you don’t need that, it’s ideal if you do get that but if you don’t, if you just have a write-up, like something that you draft and you want to get approval from the client, do you have any kind of secrets to success for a good case study? 

And I did look at your site ahead of time, and I saw that you have a case study. I didn’t read it, I just saw it, and then oh, it’s Adam Lean, of course. So that’s seven clients in 70 days. So that’s a great idea of a case study to have an angle where I want to result as a reader or a visitor, and that’s the kind of result that I could potentially expect if I were to sign up with you. Because if it’s some sort of unrelatable pie in the sky thing, well, here’s the kind of results that I got for Chanel or whatever, like, I’m not Chanel. I’m not a household name. I mean, how is this even relevant? If they think that it’s not relevant, and then they’re not going to bother reading the case study, that’s a fail, right?

One of the things that I've discovered in podcasting is that the audience that you launch with and grow is directly proportional to the audience that you have from your email list, social media, or from anywhere else. Click To Tweet

Totally. I mean, it has to give them what I call the look in the mirror experience. They’ve got to be able to see themselves in that case study. And I’ve got a client that consults with community banks all over the country. And she’s got these amazing case studies, the transformations that she does in banks, from a financial perspective are frankly unbelievable. And we had a problem early on when I started working with her. A lot of the banks who read the case studies didn’t believe the numbers that we were sharing, because they were so dramatically different from what an average bank was doing. Even though they were completely real, I mean, there was no hype at all. 

But you’ve got to be able to then connect the dots for people and tell them to look, here’s why this is possible, here’s what you’re doing differently, here’s the transformation that has to happen. You’ve got to bring them on a journey to do that. It wasn’t until we moved away from just using short case studies and little testimonials with the typical kind of internet marketing, “We did this in 90 days,” sort of one paragraph things, and we started doing long-form case studies. And doing them through an interview, much as you would do on a podcast, where we’d interview that client CEO for 45 minutes or 60 minutes, and we would ask them, “What were things like when you started?” “What prompted you to start?” “What would have prevented you from starting?” “If you were thinking back to when you started this whole transformation and started on this talk.”

How about “What objections did you have before signing up with us that almost stopped you from signing up?” because if that’s incorporated into the testimonial or case study, now, the reader, the prospect has something to relate to that is potentially an objection they already have. So you’re squashing that objection. Or it’s one that they will have, and you’re pre-empting it by bringing it to the surface and then obliterating it. It’s genius. But you gotta be able to coach them into that, because they’re not going to normally just rattle off the objections they had, like, “Oh, I thought Stephan was too expensive before I signed up,” and like, “Well, I don’t know that we can afford him and his fees, and dah, dah, dah, dah, dah, but we did it anyway, we took a leap of faith and boy did it pay off blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.” They’re not gonna have that beginning bit unless they’re kind of coached into that. Like, what were the objections that you had? Like what almost stopped you from signing up? Really cool.

Yeah, that’s key. And that’s one of the reasons I like doing them as interviews. A lot of times, clients get nervous. I mean, they’re not like you and I in front of a microphone all the time. And they’re not as comfortable doing that they get a little nervous, a little shy about it. And sometimes they want to sort of downplay their results because they don’t want to sound like they’re bragging. And when you do it in an interview format, where you’re able to ask questions that draw it out of them, because you already know the answer, or you know what their transformation was, you’re able to do it in a way that makes them look like superheroes but without them having to brag about it.

Yeah, but believable superheroes. Because back to your point that if it sounds unrelatable because it’s so outlandish, sounding numbers and results, and so forth. This term that James Schramko has, I think it’s unremarkable testimonial, that is so critical because now they can relate to it. It just doesn’t seem crazy out there kind of numbers that they can’t possibly imagine receiving themselves. So James Schramko is great, by the way, I’ve gotten coaching from him, I’ve been in Silver Circle Mastermind. He’s phenomenal.

Yeah, and I think that’s great advice, I think for case studies, as long as you’re painting the picture of what was life like before and now what is it like after working with you? I think you’ve got a killer formula incorporating the things that we’ve talked about

And I’m just looking at your case study right now. I’m seeing that you’re using a lot of bolding to bring people’s attention to certain aspects of the testimonial or in this case study. That’s really smart. I’ve been using yellow highlights on my testimonials so that people don’t want to read this big wall of text, they’ll just scan, and if I can direct the eye to just the most important bits, that’s the most effective way to do it. I love it, good stuff. So if we were to leave our listeners with one or two last nuggets that we haven’t already covered, what would that be?

I think the thing that everyone isn’t focused nearly enough on is that, particularly if you’re selling something that is a high priced product or service. That the vast majority of your business is going to come from word of mouth and referral and form relationships, and we spend almost all of our marketing energy doing things that are kind of working at arm’s length with people. We’re working through our website,  email, and all these other things, and that’s great, but there needs to be a place within all of your marketing, where you’re focused on creating those strategic relationships. For us, podcasts are sort of the focal point for that, and then we’re able to generate both word of mouth through having people share the podcast kind of naturally. And also create direct referral and direct business relationships through the one on one connections that we’re making with guests. I think that’s the key, and you want to make sure you’re building that into your marketing.

Great advice. All right. Well, Steve, if folks wanted to work with you, they wanted to subscribe to your podcasts, they wanted to get your book, all that sort of good stuff, where should they go?

Well, let’s do this, Stephan, let’s give everybody a copy of my new book Podcast Prospecting, and that’ll take them kind of point by point through all of the details of how to implement what we’ve talked about. So if they go to unstoppableceo.net/marketingspeak, you’ll be able to get a copy of the book there for free, you can download it, and you can connect with me if you want to talk more about how this strategy might fit for you.

Awesome and so unstoppableceo.net is your website, and what social channels are you most active on? Twitter, Instagram, or what?

The best place to find me is LinkedIn, but I’m also on Twitter and Facebook and not so much on Instagram. I haven’t figured that one out yet.

Okay. Awesome. Well, thank you so much, Steve. This was fabulous and very actionable. Really great, concrete advice for our listeners. So listeners, now you got to apply some of the stuff, I know I’m going to. I’m going to R&D, rip off, and duplicate some of the things that Steve had shared. So this is an opportunity for you to put something out there that’s tangible, that is going to add value and get you lots of business. And if you’re not into podcasting, you don’t have to do that, but do something that you got from this episode.

Important Links

Your Checklist of Actions to Take

☑ Find ways to keep my audience engaged through the content I publish. Create something that compels people to join, comment, and share. Or, simply create something that can brighten or add value to their day.
☑ Develop a multi-faceted content strategy. I can present my message through articles, graphic design, videos, or podcasts.
☑ Strategize my production budget. Any type of content production can be quite time consuming and costly. Make sure I am investing wisely in my resources.
☑ Continuously grow my email list. Ensure I send out regular emails and that my message contains something valuable and exciting for my audience.
☑ Utilize all of my website’s sharing features. Make it convenient for my audience to share what I’ve published through email or social media. 
☑ Prioritize nurturing relationships. Do this not just as a strategic approach, but as an authentic notion as well. What I give is what I usually get.
☑ Get to know people better before I work with them. Whether they’re clients, business partners, podcast guests, or sponsors, it’s best to establish rapport before closing the deal.
☑ Commit to creating content and publishing it regularly. Once my subscriber number increases, there will be certain expectations that I need to meet and sometimes surpass. One of these is making sure they get the most out of their subscription.
☑ Focus on what’s most important and delegate the rest to my team. Content creation and relationship building can be stressful if I’m doing everything on my own.
☑ Check out Steve Gordon’s website to learn more about systems-based selling and go to unstoppableceo.net/marketingspeak to get a free copy of Steve’s book, Podcast Prospecting.

About Steve Gordon

Steve Gordon is a 2-time entrepreneur, and bestselling author of Unstoppable Referrals: 10x Referrals, Half the Effort and The Exponential Network Strategy. He’s the host of The Unstoppable CEO podcast and has published over 400 articles on marketing and sales for professional service firms.



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