There's a lot of hype about what it means to build a personal brand, but in reality there are a few simple things that anyone can do to establish themselves as an expert in their space.
This week on The Inbound Success Podcast, BlitzMetrics CEO Dennis Yu shares the simple process he says anyone - from successful CEOs to younger professionals just getting started in their careers - build a strong personal brand.
Dennis is a master at building easy-to-follow, repeatable processes, and his approach to personal branding is no different. In our conversation, he breaks it down in a way that anyone, regardless of their marketing or technical skills, can follow.
This week's episode of The Inbound Success Podcast is brought to you by our sponsor, IMPACT Live, the most immersive and high energy learning experience for marketers and business leaders. IMPACT Live takes place August 6-7, 2019 in Hartford Connecticut and is headlined by Marcus Sheridan along with special guests including world-renowned Facebook marketing expert Mari Smith and Drift CEO and Co-Founder David Cancel. Inbound Success Podcast listeners can save 10% off the price of tickets with the code "SUCCESS".
Some highlights from my conversation with Dennis include:
Personal branding is really just a sum of stories that you collect that you sequence together.
Four or five years from now, personal branding won't be a thing because it's just what we do as part of communicating, as part of marketing, as part of growing, as part of operating.
Dennis's approach to building personal brand involves the creation of a series of one-minute videos that are lightly edited in tools like Apple Clips and sometimes in Premier or Lightweight Aftereffects or other tools so that they can be distributed then on LinkedIn, on the blog, on Facebook, on Twitter.
Michael Stelzner of Social Media Examiner is a great example of someone with a strong personal brand because he obsesses about creating content to answer peoples' questions and solve their problems - but he's also an influencer because doing this has built a very large audience.
The secret to creating effective one-minute videos is to share stories that are empathetic, that are educational, and that bring people along in a sequence towards an overall mission that anchors your personal brand.
When Dennis works with clients to create a personal branding strategy, he starts by building what he calls a "Topic Wheel."
Then, he identifies experts in those topics and does one-minute videos with them. The videos aren't about him - they are about the people he is interviewing, who are all recognized experts.
The Topic Wheel has three rings - why, how and what. Why is your mission, how is how you do things (educational content), and what is your offers. This is very much like a circular sales funnel.
The outside layer of the Topic Wheel - the why - is personal branding.
There are many tools that you can use to create one-minute videos, from Apple Clips to the Adobe Suite, regardless of your skill level with video.
Once you've created your video, think about all the different ways you can reuse or repurpose your video, and distribute it out across a variety of platforms.
Resources from this episode:
Save 10% off the price of tickets to IMPACT Live with promo code "SUCCESS"
Listen to the podcast to learn more about the exact formula Dennis uses to help his clients build their personal brands.
Kathleen Booth (Host): Welcome back to the Inbound Success Podcast. Welcome back to the Inbound Success Podcast, my name is Kathleen Booth and I am your host. This week, my guest is Dennis Yu, who is the Chief Executive Officer of BlitzMetrics and the author of Facebook Nation and, and, and I could list so many other things. Conference keynote speaker, expert on personal branding, Facebook, et cetera.
Dennis Yu (Guest): Kathleen, you're too kind.
Dennis and Kathleen having a blast recording this episode
Kathleen: I was so impressed reading everything that you've done, when I saw your bio. I was really excited that I got to meet you in person a few weeks ago at DigitalMarketer, so thank you for joining me for the podcast.
Dennis: Thank you.
Kathleen: Before we start, I have a really important question. I was reading your bio and I saw that you have run 20 marathons, but you have run a 70 mile Ultra. What were you thinking?
Dennis: I know, what was I thinking? It's my first one and my last one. I said to myself after running all these marathons because you know the thing is, it's a slippery slope because you run one and then you do more and then people are like, "Oh, you should run this Ultra marathon because you're gonna have this spiritual experience." I thought, all right I'm up for that and I ran a 70 mile race. It took me 12 hours. I set the course record. It was just outside of Microsoft's headquarters and when I finished, it was so bad that I had to be put in a wheelchair and wheeled to my gate at SeaTac airport because my legs were so stiff.
Kathleen: Oh my God, I was gonna say, when people talk about spiritual experiences, all I can think about is when you're dying and you see the light.
Dennis: Yeah. I didn't get a spiritual experience, I got a lot of pain. Maybe I didn't see past the pain, who knows? Maybe I needed to run 100 miles. Maybe that's what it needs to be.
Kathleen: Oh my God, I am so impressed because you talk about how people run marathons and then they wanna run more. I ran one and only marathon the year I turned 40.
Dennis: That's smart.
Kathleen: I was like, I better do it now or it's never gonna happen. It's a good thing I did it because after that, I was like, no way, I'm too old for this. I'm glad I did it and I checked the box. That's awesome that you did that.
Building A Personal Brand
One of the reasons I was excited to have you on the podcast is that as part of the presentation you gave at DigitalMarketer's Agency Training Day, you touched on some of the work that you do building personal brands. You actually have a really cool process behind this. I think a lot of people talk about personal branding, but I've never heard anybody actually express it almost as a definable process. So I just want to dig into that and learn more about it and hopefully come away with an idea for people who are listening who might be interested in building their own personal brand, what goes into that?
Dennis: Yeah, a lot of people think personal branding is this Tony Robbins, keynote speaking, motivational figure head who's doing the private jet and mansion lifestyle.
I think personal branding is really just a sum of stories that you collect that you sequence together. If you're an agency, if you're an entrepreneur, it's not that you're showing only these highlight moments of the figurehead.
It's the sum of what your people are doing, of your customers, of anyone that you engage with, someone you just had lunch with and they said something that's interesting and you pull out your cell phone, you say, "Kathleen, wow. That was so awesome. Can you just repeat that again? I want to share that on social." So you need a process to do that.
So we're here in Miami and the last couple of days, we've been capturing one-minute videos for a fintech company that provides loans to small businesses. The kind of marketing they were doing is the kind of stuff that you'd expect that they would do.
We go the CEO on camera. Literally, I was holding an iPhone and I was recording the CEO, asking him, "What's your favorite restaurant here in Miami? Tell me about your parents and the kind of business that they started and how that influenced you to run this particular kind of company. Tell me about what kinds of things stress you out at night."
Then we drove to different small businesses, one is a pet store, another one is a food truck, another one is a computer repair place in the strip mall, and we interviewed these people, asking them about their why, how, what. Then I would put all of that in the bucket of personal branding.
In fact, you know how a lot of people are talking about influencer marketing, content marketing, social media marketing? Now, those things have expanded to be so big that they mean nothing. It's just like digital marketing has expanded to be so big that you really can't define it anymore. Just like the phone was 50 or 60 years ago, or the internet was 20 years ago. It started off as this niche thing that people were specialists in and once it becomes so big, you can't really define it.
I think personal branding is in that teenager stage where now everyone wants to do personal brand until the stage where, four or five years from now, personal branding won't be a thing because it's just what we do as part of communicating, as part of marketing, as part of growing, as part of operating. Because we see that's where things are going.
We have everything we do, from a client standpoint or from our own internal operations or how we train people, encapsulated as one-minute videos.
Everything's a one-minute video. For example, one of our guys this morning recorded a one-minute video on how to quickly see all of your tasks inside of Basecamp. In one minute, he said "Literally, did you know if you press control K plus whatever, it immediately shows you this screen with all of your tasks of the day and your schedule?" I'm like, "Pssh, I didn't know that." Or a one-minute video about this restaurant that's two blocks around the corner and how awesome it is. That's cool, that's very specific.
Personal branding isn't this, I aspire to climb Mount Everest or I want to live a life of riches and make six figures every month. It's individual stories of other people, and thus our approach, which I think you find interesting and other people do too, is that we have a particular process on how we collect one-minute videos. It has to be particular because all of our work is being done by young adults.
So these are 22, 23-year-old kids, if you will. I'm over 40, so I know younger than 40 is a kid. They go through our training. Maybe they served four years in the military and now they need a job and they wanna be able to make 35 thousand dollars a year, whatever they were making before, right, because they have a kid now or whatever it might be.
We have everything check listed out, it's not that it's about personal branding, it's that the collection of one-minute videos. So instead of saying personal branding, I'll say the collection of one-minute videos are lightly edited in tools like Apple Clips and sometimes in Premier or Lightweight Aftereffects or other tools so that we can distribute then on LinkedIn, on the blog, on Facebook, on Twitter. Then amplify them for a dollar a day to be able to drive views, leads, and sales. That is mechanically what we do.
It's not about me trying to motivate other people. We have a number of high profile personal brands like entrepreneurs that are billionaires. We have some of these guys as clients and boy, it's very shiny. But that is not what personal branding will be in five years from now.
It'll be so defacto that anyone who's doing any kind of marketing, by definition will be doing personal branding and social media and SEO and all of that, not as separate functions, but they're all now the same thing actually.
Personal Branding v. Influencer Marketing
Kathleen: Yeah, it's very interesting. I have so many questions for you from what you just said.
The first thing that comes to my mind is it's fascinating to me to have this conversation at this time because you use the word influencer earlier. There is this really interesting evolution of what it means to be an influencer now, especially with people from younger generations who grew up with Instagram and Snapchat and Facebook. They're very comfortable being in front of an audience and being very personal. Their definition of privacy, I think, is different than other generations.
So I guess my first question is really, how do you draw the line between influencer and personal brand?
Dennis: I don't like the word influencer because it's got that taint, look at me, I'm an influencer. You might as well replace that word for thinker. Oh I'm a thinker. I guess you're not allowed to think, Kathleen, because I'm a thinker. I'm an influencer and you're not. I even wrote an article on Influencive, which is the site for people to talk about being an influencer. The title of the article was Why I Am Not an Influencer. I think it got 23 thousand shares.
Kathleen: It's like a dirty word now, especially after the Fyre Festival.
Dennis: I tagged Michael Stelzner, who is one of my mentors. He is the guy in social media marketing. He runs social media marketing world, he's the founder of Social Media Examiner, he's got the biggest blog, biggest conference, makes the most money, has the biggest audience of anybody in the world of social media marketing.
He told me how he was not an influencer and really he was a servant leader and how he does everything to take care of his team. I thought, wow, he is the exact opposite of all these people that are beating their chest. Look at me, look at me, look at me, it's all about me.
Yeah, I would define him as an influencer because he influences the behavior of other people. He has the biggest audience, so by definition he's an influencer because he has the best education. His approach has been to be an influencer in the world of social media marketing to actively do research and find out every day, what are the things that people are searching for? What do they care about? He is so scientifically in tune with the data of what an audience wants that that's how he was able to grow Social Media Examiner to getting millions of visits per month on the site.
There are a lot of people that are social media consultants, there are a lot of people that have a blog, lot of people with podcasts. We had an episode on his podcast, I think it was ... what was it called? He even chose the title because he knows what people want, so he came up with the title, What Marketers Really Need to Know About the Facebook Algorithm. The thing got 50 thousand downloads in the first month. I thought, holy moly. Mike and I chatted for half an hour and he got 50 thousand downloads. People are wondering, wow this guy is so big, will he interview me? I hope I'm next. Oh, will he let me speak in the Social Media Marketing World? That's what all of the moths are doing when they come to the flame.
I ask him, because we spent the day together after Social Media Marketing World? After all that kind of stuff, he and I just hung out. I said, what question do people not ask you? He said, "They don't ask me how I was able to grow Social Media Examiner from nothing to the largest property in this space. The answer is because I use the data and I create content that satisfies that because I look at what the search engine queries are." 2% of his traffic comes to the homepage for Social Media Examiner.
Dennis: The other 98% is on every little micro-topic like why is my Facebook ad disapproved or how do I make a video or how do I use my Google Analytics and what's a good bounce rate? Those micro, micro moments. I define him as an influencer because it's not the tip of the iceberg of him speaking on stage in front of seven thousand people. It's his conference, so he can do that. It's the stuff beneath the water in the iceberg of lots and lots and lots of little stories and his process.
Where he and I have massive alignment is we have deep process. The way he runs that conference that has seven thousand people, the way he organizes volunteers, how he trains them, how they come in a few days before, how they line up and they wear name tags and they know exactly what to do. Every single part of the process. You guys run and event, so you know what I'm talking about. The level of detail that's required.
Can you imagine being a conference organizer? If you were to approach influencer marketing or personal branding the same way that you run a hospital where there's lots of processes and there's lots of detail. I think personal branding and this influencer marketing thing will have to evolve from witchcraft and Ouija boards and voodoo dolls to actual established processes for how you become a doctor, anything that requires an actual process like running a factory.
I believe that's where we'll be in five years, but right now, people can get away with nonsense because there's not a lot of accountability. So it's easy to say, oh personal branding, well what the hell does that mean, right? You can't say hell, that's not good. What the heck does that mean?
Kathleen: You can say hell on this podcast.
Dennis: All right.
Kathleen: Yeah, there's a lot of throw it at the wall and see what sticks. This is the sense that I get, then there's also a lot of copycat like oh, I see so and so doing this and it seems to be working, so I'm just gonna do that because that must be what works, because it worked for them, right?
Kathleen: I think in some cases that can work. Somebody might have stumbled upon a good tactic, but I think the thing that I've at least observed with people who talk about wanting to build their personal brand but then they don't really do it is they don't have a plan. Therefore, they're not consistent with what they do, so there's a lack of follow through. There's a lot of one off, here and there things, and ultimately that prevents them from getting traction which is why I thought your approach was so interesting to create the process because when you have the plan, you at least have something to follow. Then you know if you're on track or off track.
Dennis: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Kathleen: I was gonna say, you mentioned in the beginning, meeting with the CEO of the fintech company and getting him to do one-minute videos. I'm really curious to know if you find any sort of, again going back to the idea of a generational divide, is there any kind of reticence, especially amongst the more established business leaders you work with, to get as personal as you're looking for them to get?
One Minute Videos
Dennis: Yes and no, because if you broad brush with the stereotype and you say, "Oh, those people under 30, they were born with a phone glued to their hand and Snapchat and all that." Actually they're digital nomads or whatever you want to call them. I don't think that's necessarily true. At the 40 thousand foot level, yes.
Three days ago I was in Denver and I was with the CEO of a new company, it's my buddy Mark Karloff, he does M&A and buys himself billion dollar companies. I wanna say he's 56 or something like that. I said, "Mark, for your company, we're gonna have to make these one-minute videos to help explain what it does."
It's the Hoover for law firms to be able to serve, it's called Proof Serve, you have to serve people documents, right? That's what happens in the world of the lawsuits, right? A lot of law firms have to do the serving in different states. He wanted to get more law firms to enroll and I said, "Well, you need to collect one-minute videos of the paralegals and what they do day to day because they're the ones who are choosing who's serving. You need to talk to the different people that are doing the serving so that you know that they are legit and not these crazy people that just signed up. You're trusting them to deliver your documents for you. It's an important case, you can't afford these documents to get lost."
Collect one-minute videos so that people can see how real it is, so they can see that there are other personal injury attorneys that are doing the exact same thing, that they trust in their neighborhood, to collect at it's scale across all of the hundreds of customers that he has. Because other than that, what would you do? You'd create a glossy commercial or you're do a website. You'd sign up for InfusionSoft or there's all these marketing technology, but those are all ways that I believe people who, whether they're old or young, they try to hide behind the technology instead of connecting with people directly. I don't think that's an old or a young thing. Are people willing to connect at a human level to show empathy because they really care about their employees, because they really care about their customer?
I think that you have a spectrum where the people who are 40 plus are actually more likely to really care because they're more likely to be more mature, they have more business experience, but maybe they don't understand exactly the mechanics of having to press record. The young people, maybe they make more video, but they are less likely to make video that is uplifting other people, that is sharing deep knowledge based on experience. If you're over 40, like you and me, you're gonna have a lot of stories. We have a lot of experiences to share and it's not just take a look at this food that I'm having, that I'm at the beach. Two days ago I stayed in this penthouse in Miami downtown on the 50th floor. I made some videos from the top.
If I was a 20-year-old, I would more likely make videos showing how amazing this penthouse is. But instead, I made videos showing how this looks glamorous, doesn't it? Look at this view, all the way out to the ocean, there's South Beach, and there's downtown. Do you know this is an Airbnb that I paid $200.00 a night for and it's paid for by the client? Did you know that I flew here on Southwest airlines and I sat in the middle seat for four and a half hours all the way from Phoenix? I didn't tell you that, did I? Do you wanna know what it's really like? Do you wanna know some of the things that I struggle with in growing my company? That's exactly the opposite of what you'd expect of someone who's out on a balcony and overlooking the ocean in a penthouse at the 50th floor, right?
Kathleen: Yeah. Yeah, that's so much more real.
Dennis: [crosstalk] between older versus younger, it's not that the younger people are more willing to make video. It's who can share stories that are empathetic, that are educational, and that bring people along in a sequence towards an overall mission that anchors your personal brand.
So anyone who's going into personal branding and I have to ask them, "Do you have a mission that's bigger than you, that's authentic? Not just because you want to help the world in some vague way, but you want to help small businesses save on their tax bill. You want to help local university students overcome crack addictions because their parents left them."
It doesn't have to be some Mother Theresa kind of thing. We all have some kind of bigger thing that we're doing, like us, we're training up young adults. A lot of them that maybe they didn't go to college, where they just graduated from high school or that they came out of the military and they just had a kid that popped out and now they have to work. They're not trying to be a CEO, they're just trying to pay the bills, right?
When you tie your mission to that, it's a lot easier to then build a sequence. If the personal brand is just look at me and my food, it's pretty shallow because you can't build a whole story around it, you can't get all these other people around it, you can't build the infrastructure that's necessary, what we call the topic wheel.
What you saw when we were DM in Austin, we explained the structure of the topic wheel, about what anchors your brand are all the different topics and the topics move out to the individual stories of all the people you're connected to.
Start With Your Mission (and Build a Topic Wheel)
Kathleen: That's fascinating. So I love the idea of starting, if somebody's thinking they want to build their personal brand, of starting with figuring out what your mission is.
Once someone has been able to successfully identify that, you talk about the topic wheel, the question I think people listening probably have is then, are all my videos about this mission or is it just a certain percentage? How does that fit in to this topic wheel?
Dennis: The topic wheel allows us to all be humans, because there's something that you might do to make money, but you also might like to boogie board at the beach, you might also like Italian food, you might also have a parent who is disabled, you might also have a particular hobby, right? We start the topic wheel with six topics, we call this why, how, and what.
So on the outside, we have different people that are telling stories around six particular topics. One of my topics is education, so Doctor Karen [Freeburg] is one of the people in my topic wheel because she is authoritative on education and we have lots of stories around that, we made one-minute videos around that. There's other people in education that are part of that particular topic.
Another topic of mine is digital marketing and I'll put in people like Ryan Deiss because he's authoritative in the world of digital marketing and I've got plenty of interviews with him, where we've made one-minute videos where I'm not trying to get him to talk with things about me, although he has, but I'm interviewing him like a journalist. It's not about me, but it's about his knowledge and his experience, and I'm making it about him. Maybe I'm interviewing Tony Robbins or maybe I'm on CNN talking about the Facebook controversy or whatever it might be.
Those are all different topics that are not to show that I am an awesome person or famous, but to precede the authority because I am spending time with people that other people recognize are legit in that space.
When I make one-minute videos with these people and I boost it out there on Facebook and LinkedIn and YouTube and all this, that allows me to re-market for my topic, all the way into my product which is when I can sell courses on digital marketing, I can sell packages on implementing the things we talk about.
The idea of why, how, and what is, why is your story, it's your passion, it's a particular moment in time. It could be when I was 18, I dropped out of high school and I wanted to be a professional athlete working for Nike.
True story and I have a one-minute story talking about that and how eventually, they didn't except me, but then we got Nike later as a client to do digital advertising for them and how I learned that what the 18-year-old Dennis thought Nike would be like versus the 40-year-old Dennis was completely different. That Nike was this big corporate and it wouldn't have worked out for me as an athlete because it's long travel on the road. I guess I do a lot of travel on the road, but if your career only lasts a couple years as a pro athlete versus a 20 year career as a digital marketer.
So those stories, the why stories are the outside ring of the topic wheel.
Then move to the middle ring, which is how. Expertise, tips, how to do stuff, checklists, right? Remember, Kathleen, you saw all these checklists that we were showing, like how do you [crosstalk] manager? How do you get a drive in golf down the middle of the fairway or how do you tie your shoes with one hand or how do you juggle the ball? How do you do all the things that you know how to do, especially when you interview these other people who are experts. They've got tons of how do you do a very specific thing, right? So you're marketing from the outside of very specific stories. Not just, oh I was once really sad and now I'm successful, but specific things that had happened, specific moments in time where you point the camera, you can follow the scene of what happened, right?
The beauty of the Pixar is that they focus on specific scenes. So the why we market to the specific scenes of the how, which are specific, let me show you how to do something very useful, like a recipe. Let me show you how to make my brand of chocolate chip cookies with macadamia nuts. I really like macadamia nuts.
Kathleen: That sounds so good.
Dennis: I know a lot, for example, about how to make a perfect batch of popcorn. I have a movie theater popcorn maker in my kitchen.
Kathleen: That is so cool!
Dennis: Do you ever walk to the movie theater and you're like, "Mm." You're almost willing to watch a bad movie just to eat the popcorn, or no?
Kathleen: I, 100%, think that popcorn is the highlight of the movie. Then, so I have to ask you one important question then, this is a slight digression, but are you an add the butter oil to your popcorn person or are you a eat it as it comes out of the maker person?
Dennis: Yes. Whenever people ask an either or question like do you want to eat the fish or do you wanna eat the burger? Yes.
Kathleen: Yeah, I like adding the extra butter, myself.
Dennis: Yeah, I add the extra butter to the popper, then when it comes out, I actually have the movie theater quality bags, right? I wanna simulate the whole experience. I've got a butter pump and I'll pump the butter in there too, on top of that.
Kathleen: Dennis, you're a man after my own heart. I'm all about the extra butter. Gotta do it.
Dennis: See? So then when we get together, maybe just outside of Baltimore, we can make some popcorn together. I'll ship you a popcorn maker, you'll see what I'm talking about. I'll show you how to do popcorn the way Dennis likes to do popcorn.
Kathleen: I love it. I love it. Send me that one-minute video.
Dennis: I'm gonna make a one-minute video, yeah. Yeah, and then we're sharing expertise on how is this different than microwave popcorn, which is garbage.
Kathleen: Yes. 100%.
Dennis: Yes, very different, and how movie theater popcorn tastes so good because it has coconut oil, did you know that?
Kathleen: I did not know that. That's interesting.
Dennis: If you try to use olive oil or butter, the flashpoint is so low that you burn it and that's why movie theater popcorn can go so high because coconut oil has a really high flashpoint.
Kathleen: Oh, interesting.
Dennis: We could make several one-minute videos about microwave popcorn and then you'd come away from that thinking, wow, that's really cool, I didn't know that. So I'm sharing how.
Then I get specific again, into the very center of the onion tootsie roll, multi-layer thing, into the what, which is how you sell. See, conversion is about ... We all understand conversion, buy my stuff, it's on sale. The thing ends on Friday, it's got these many features, it's better than the competitor, fear, uncertainty, and doubt. There's only a limited quantity, but all these different ways of trying to get people to buy, right?
All the things that you say, features versus benefits. That is the what.
Everyone understands what. The trouble is when they get to marketing, they're so eager they can't help themselves. When they're supposed to be making why content, they somehow end up selling it again and they pollute the whole thing. It's like mixing chocolate milk and Coke together. I like both of them, but I'm not going to drink them in the same can. It's nasty, right? Or we ask them to, let's make a series of how videos. So around your product or service, maybe you're an agency, you wanna get more clients, you do additional marketing. Okay, talk about how you set up PBC Canvas. Talk about how you optimize, talk about how, but do not ... Resist the urge to start selling because that's the what.
So if you keep these things separate from the why to the how to the what, then you actually have a funnel, which is a circular funnel. That's the topic wheel, it's every day content meaning you don't have to keep replacing it. It doesn't go stale. I believe if you do it right, from the very outside are all these people that you're interviewing. That's personal branding. The outside layer of your topic wheel is personal branding.
Personal branding is not some separate thing about ... I was thinking, it would be fun Kathleen, we could rent a Lamborghini, how about? You and I, we could rent a Lamborghini for one day and just make all kinds of silly videos and drive around real slow.
Kathleen: That's like Jerry Seinfeld's Comedians and Cars Drinking Coffee. That's what he does. He does a different car each time and they just drive around and talk. He has a whole show that is just that. I love it.
Dennis: Yeah, this is my garage. There's many ways of doing it.
Dennis: But that's the superficial kind of personal branding. That's look at me and look at my lifestyle. If you have actual depth, if you have a structure, you have a process, then you're gonna build the topic wheel because it's the personalities that are the outside that are sharing knowledge, that are organized by topic. The topics then go to the very center, which is your company, your figurehead, the product you sell, whatever it is that you're trying to monetize. When you link why to how to what, you use the what to fund all the why and the how, so it's a self-funding funnel. Because all the people that do personal branding, guess what? It costs money, just like SEO costs money. It costs money to produce video, it costs money to edit, it costs money to put traffic against it, right? So what's gonna pay for that?
Dennis: Are you just gonna spend money for the heck of it?
Kathleen: Yeah, exactly.
Dennis: I don't see ROI off of this. I ask any of these people to do personal branding and they can't answer this question. I say, "What's the ROI of your personal branding?" They can't answer the question. Why not?
Kathleen: That's a great point. Now, that was a really fantastic explanation of the topic wheel. I think that gives everybody a very clear framework, at least, within which to begin to break down what are they gonna talk about on video.
How To Create Your Videos
Kathleen: So I feel like there's, what am I gonna talk about? Then there's making the video, and then there's distributing the video. So let's talk for a second about making it. Earlier, you mentioned a couple of different tools and my ears perked up because I started to experiment with making videos and I'm gonna just say, I am the least technically competent individual on the planet when it comes to video, but I discovered one of the tools you mentioned, which is Apple Clips. I think it is the best thing since ... I was gonna say since sliced bread, but I don't actually like sliced bread, so I think it might be better than sliced bread. It is the greatest thing ever. I'm wondering if you could talk a little bit more about the types of tools that the average person out there can use to do this and produce a decent looking video.
Dennis: So, there are 30 different tools that we use.
Dennis: But that's a mix. We organize them into people that are just everyday people like you and me. Intermediate folks that are specialists that have maybe a year or two of training. Then we have our pro level, the full Adobe Suite, where you're doing things in Premier and Aftereffects. That's pro. I don't think any of us, unless that's what we do for a living, we have 10 people full-time as pro video editors. They are doing things according to standards that we have. But should you and I be learning how to do that? No.
Dennis: You and I should be learning how to use Apple Clips and Otter.ai and the different video tools built into Facebook ads manager, through transcription. We should be pushing things out to fancy hands and Fiver for lightweight editing. Some of the editing that you can do, for example, Apple Clips allows you to transcribe live and it's pretty accurate.
Kathleen: I did that last week and it blew my mind. Then I didn't realize you could also go in and edit it's live transcription so that if it messes something up, you can correct it. It was so easy.
Dennis: There are apps that are built into Snapchat and Instagram and Facebook has 10 different tools that are part of Facebook Mobile Data Studio that allow for editing for free. Adobe has Adobe Express. There's lot of these tools and every day, I get three or four more tools that people say, "Hey, try this editing tool. On your app, it'll add these really cool filters." I even bought a ton of apps on my phone that will add motion, that will add just super cool effects, that you can lose hours of your day downloading dozens of these different apps that do different kinds of things. I would say just use Apple Clips and one or two other ones, and not-
Kathleen: I think that's great advice. I may or may not have spent six hours last week downloading apps and doing exactly what you just described. Then I discovered Apple Clips and that rabbit hole ended.
Dennis: A lot of folks, I know will say, well I'm not a video person. They're secretly afraid of all these tools, like I don't really have time to learn all these different tools. You know what? You have something called an iPhone in your pocket, okay? When you hit video and you hit the red circle to record video, that camera is so smart. The way it does multi point filtering and focusing and light, that if you literally do that and you have decent sound and you don't point it directly into the sun, then you will get good enough video that you can pay $5.00 or $10.00 that someone who's a pro can do the editing for you. I've learned this the hard way because I've probably spent 100 hours, 200 hours of my time playing with all these different apps and figuring out exactly which effects I like from which app. That's a waste of your time.
With that said, Apple Clips, Otter.ai, the native tools inside Instagram and inside Facebook Ads Manager, that's all you need to know. The pro stuff, for example, at TNC, I flew in one of my friends from Facebook to speak. Same thing at Social Media Marketing World, I brought three other people to speak at the conference. I had professional videographers that I flew in that recorded on expensive equipment, everything miced up properly, everything sent off to our VAs in the Philippines, that do the video editing. So we do understand the pro side, but you gotta know when you're doing a lightweight video that's just walking along do a cell phone style video at the beach reflecting on some thought that you had, versus on stage, speaker reel, high authority, in front of 10 thousand people giving a keynote address. You're not always using one tool. Sometimes you need a butter knife and sometimes you need a chainsaw.
Kathleen: Yeah, that makes sense. I love that you just mentioned all those specific tools because I'm totally gonna go out right after this and check them out.
Dennis: We have a guide, I'll give it to you.
Kathleen: That's great. Oh yeah, a link to it in the show notes.
Dennis: All the cool videos and then how they fit into our process. Just because you can use a tool, doesn't mean it's worth anything because you've gotta figure out how it fits into a process with all the other tools and who does what because it's unlikely that one person knows how to do everything. So then take the finished video and turn it into an ad and write copy against it in a headline and to be able to look at the performance of it and to be able to go back and re-shoot. Usually whoever is the one recording the video is not the one who's editing the video. So that requires a process step. Anytime something's gotta move between different people, it requires a process step, right?
How to Promote and Distribute Your Videos
Kathleen: Yeah. Now assuming people figure out a way to get these videos made, whether they make them themselves or they get help, they're gonna wind up with all of these one-minute videos. How do you then ... What is your process then for getting them in front of an audience because obviously that's the objective? If the tree falls in the forest and there's no one there to hear it, it doesn't matter. So can you talk a little bit about that?
Dennis: So once we've gone through video production, which could be as simple as me doing a video on my iPhone and automatically saves to my Google Drive. By the way, that's my little secret, everything goes to my Google Drive. I also have Dropbox and I have the Apple, whatever that's called, the iCloud. I have everything saved multiple places because I'm paranoid about losing it. Whether it's as simple as that or whether it goes through complex editing because it's speaker footage from multiple cameras, like a professional interview. We then distribute that in multiple formats. We take the long format, so it could be a 40 minute interview, and we'll put that in landscape format on YouTube on a channel.
Our buddy, Matthew Januszek, who is the CEO of Escape Fitness, he's interviewed all the top names in the world of fitness. It could be Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lee Haney, the CEOs of 24 Hour Fitness and Lifetime Fitness. All the people because he's the guy. He does professional interviews. So the full length episodes, we'll show on YouTube. Then, we take one-minute snippets that are square, just the highlights, think of it as like movie trailer compared to the movie. The trailer's only a minute, it shows you all the big explosions, all the big scenes, but you don't really get the whole story, just enough to tease you, right? You know, movie trailers.
Dennis: Then we put the movie trailer on Facebook and we boost those through video views to build re-marketing audiences, to then sequence them to other pieces within the topic wheel. We take vertical, 15 second commercials, and we put those on Instagram as stories. We take the same one-minute videos that I mentioned on Facebook and we post those to Twitter and we can promote those posts. We have an annual bid at three cents of engagement, we never select Twitter's automatic thing because they'll bid it to $2.00 and spend all your money. We also will post it organically to LinkedIn, to our profiles. That way, you can create one piece of content, chop it up into 30 or 40 other little pieces of content and be able to use it across all your different channels and obtain multiple, multiple value.
Gary Vaynerchuk posted something on LinkedIn a week ago, showing how he does that in his content pyramid. It's the same thing that a lot of us that are prolific agencies do on behalf of our clients because often you can't get the client to do this everyday. If you put it as part of their process and teach their support people, every time they repair that HVAC and get the customer right there, saying, "Oh, how is it?" That's obviously the best time. Wedding photographers, get them right then when they're happy, when they just got married, don't try to get the feedback two weeks later and get their review later. Try to get it right then. If you can't build it into the process, then you have to collect it every three months or every six months and you try to collect it all at once, with multiple people and you can chop it up.
The odds are, it may be, Kathleen, you and I were expert interviewers but we're not going to be able to get 60 minutes of quality content because it takes 15 minutes to warm up. In the middle, they'll say some things that are good, but are you gonna force someone to sit through a 60 minute video to be able to catch those pieces in the middle? No, you pull those out and use those as carrots.
Kathleen: Yeah. Now, how often should somebody be posting these videos?
Dennis: As often as you have good content. So I think of Facebook, you can get away with once per day, maybe twice per day. If you're in news and media, sports media, you can do maybe six, seven times per day. The Washington Post and some of these other local news guys will do 40 times per day, local sites, 20, 30 times per day. But most brands, once per day. But don't feel like you have to post once per day. What we'll do is, maybe we'll be at Social Media Marketing World and wander around in the hallways and interview a lot of people, just for one-minute interviews, not some scheduled thing, but just by walking around in the hallway, we'll run into people that we know. We'll collect a bunch of one-minute videos, all in one day, and then sprinkle them out over the course of several months.
So I was on CNN in Atlanta, talking about the whole Facebook controversy and Russian interference and senator we run ads, the whole congress thing. I was in front of three and a half million people, live, where they were, in the studio, asking me questions about all this Facebook nonsense. I made the most of that because I got that four and a half minute clip and chopped it up into a few different pieces. I'm now able to recirculate that as different pieces of content, and I've taken some of those highlight components and I've sprinkled them in to my speaker reel, to our company mission reel, to other reels where we're teaching about personal branding. If I can mix and match from all different kinds of videos that we have an reassemble that. Do you know the analogy of Mexican food, Kathleen?
Kathleen: No, tell me.
Dennis: You can take meat, cheese, beans, lettuce, tomatoes, and rearrange it into a chalupa or a tostada or an enchilada or a taco or a chimichanga or whatever it is, but it's the same ingredients, but just in a slightly different format, right?
Kathleen: That's so funny and very true.
Dennis: So that's what we're doing with our ingredients. So the wrong materials come in, meaning like the 30 minute interview with the client, right? Or you're doing it on behalf of a client and you're interviewing the customer and you have a continuous shot of 30 minutes where you're asking them a series of questions and saying, "Hey, don't worry about what you're saying because we're going to edit out the good pieces or whatever it is. If you stumble, just pause for two second and restart, and then we'll chop up different pieces and we can reuse those pieces into whatever combination that we want." So we think about the Mexican menu or the Chinese menu, you now have the ability to produce any kind of marketing material that you want.
So a sales piece about a new product that you have, maybe you could reuse stuff that you already have. 80, 90% of what you have is what you can reuse and then the 10% is the stuff specifically about that new product. Then you don't have to create all this stuff from scratch again. Maybe it's because I'm lazy, but when we do this, it's like I don't want to have to keep redoing things about who we are and what we've done and who our best customers are.
For example, when we first got Nike as a client, I thought that was incredible and making videos out there at the Nike campus, interviewing the executives at Nike is stuff that makes us look highly authoritative, but it also looks good because I can quote them. I can bring them to speak on stage like at the Adobe Summit where Nike says, "Hey, yeah, we use Blitz for social analytics." Well, how awesome is that? In front of the other people who are using Omniture, saying oh, yeah, Omniture doesn't do that. It's Adobe Analytics now, but oh yeah, we use Blitz for social analytics. I can reuse that, I guess we could call it a testimonial, but I can use that snippet in so many different places.
Think about things that have been said to you, that have been said about you, that have been said about IMPACT, about your business partners, about the people that you have met. Think about all those amazing situations, imagine if you could wave a wand and you could reuse them anytime, anywhere, how powerful would that be?
Kathleen: Well, and it certainly sounds like, from what you're saying, that it's making me realize, there are probably a lot of businesses that have a ton of gold nuggets in their B roll and in their video archives and it's like, half the battle is keeping it organized and knowing what you've got in there so you know when to pull those pieces back out and incorporate them. The other half, really what this is telling me, is that if you're gonna be serious about this, especially if you're gonna do it as a business, it probably makes sense to invest in in-house video expertise because you really just need to incorporate this into the fabric of your everyday life within your company.
Outsourcing Your Video Process
Dennis: Amen. You don't have to be a big agency, big budget, big team, or a big marketing group. We literally started with hiring VAs from the Philippines as $3.00 an hour. So you hire one person full-time. Do you know what that costs you for a year?
Dennis: So $500.00 a month, Kathleen, for someone who's working for you full-time, 40 hours a week, college educated, a real human, they care about you deeply, they're better than Americans in the standpoint that they are loyal, they will stay with you, and they're happy, they're joyful, and we will send them stuff at the end of the day, say 5:00 PM, you know it's the other side of the world, so their time zone's upside down. When we wake up in the morning, it's ready.
Kathleen: That's so crazy. That's the part that I think is actually kind of cool about working with folks in Asia is that if you're organized and you can get stuff to them at the end of the day, it's freaky how fast you can move.
Dennis: Let me tell you my secret which is not so much of a secret anymore. There are one million Philippino's that do digital marketing at onlinejobs.ph. When I found this site 10 years ago, I could not believe my eyes. I said, "Wow, I can hire this guy at $1.50 per hour? Why don't I just hire this guy for fun, just to see. It's only $1.50 per hour. I'll buy him for like 50 hours, just see what happens," right?
Kathleen: Right, can't hurt. That's a good tip. Side note, I absolutely love the people from the Philippines. I spent a lot of time there. Before I went into marketing, I did international development consulting and my last year that I did it, it was right before I had my son, I went to the Philippines, I think six times. That is such a cool place and the people are some of the best people.
Dennis: We go there twice a year and it's just incredible. They love us and I love taking them out because I feel like I'm a big shot. We'll take them out to eat to the nicest places in Manila, send them off on a full day massage. I'll look at the bill, like we'll go to the nicest restaurants, right? Even Makati, which is the most expensive business area.
Kathleen: That's where I used to stay. That's beautiful, yeah.
Dennis: We're doing the penthouse thing and they think we're ballers. At the end of the meal or at the end of whatever it is, we'll go take them out karaoke. We have seventy in the Philippines. I'll look at the bill and I'll work it out, that's like four bucks a person. All right.
Kathleen: Let's do it again tomorrow.
Dennis: Yeah, maybe it's five bucks or whatever it is. I'm thinking, wow, you could live like a king for nothing. You could have an entourage, if you wanted to, I'm not saying do this. But you know this Kathleen, for $200.00 you could have six guys with machine guns follow you around the entire day as bodyguards.
Dennis: I've wanted to do that just for fun because I go there twice a year with our people. I was thinking, it would be cool if I had six guys with machine guns, all dressed up, walking with me as I'm walking downtown. Then have a couple people that follow me around with video cameras, just to see what would happen in the mall. This people think this guy walking in the middle here must be a celebrity.
Kathleen: Yeah, this brings us full circle in our conversation because it goes right back to the very beginning where you talked about if you were in the penthouse standing on the balcony and if you were an influencer, you'd take a picture of yourself with a glass of champagne living the life. Instead, you were very real about, I flew Southwest. Your Philippines example's great because that's where you could be like, "This is just how I roll."
Kathleen's Two Questions
Kathleen: I love it. I could literally sit here and talk to you all day, but I'm sure you have things that you need to be doing and I want to be respectful of your time. The last two questions I have for you are questions that I ask every guest that comes on this podcast and I'm really curious to hear your response because you do know so many people in the world of digital marketing. Today, when you think about the concept of inbound marketing, company or individual, who do you think is really killing it and doing it well?
Kathleen: Ooh, there's a name I haven't heard before.
Dennis: Oh, you need to look him up. I think he's number one or number two in business podcasts on iTunes.
Kathleen: How do you spell his last name?
Dennis: I first met this kid because he signed up for one of my podcasts or webinar like 10 years ago. He's just some 17-year-old and I'm like, "Who is this punk?" He kept hitting me up. I saw that he had started a company that did Facebook ads and Facebook apps, and he grew it to millions of dollars and he sold it. Then he started to take his money, invest it in other companies. He would go to a taco truck, for example, and say, "Hey, I'm willing to write a check right now to buy your business. Let's make a deal." Then he started turning the camera on, then he wrote his book that became an actual best seller. Then he started interviewing all the people that were entrepreneurs and running SaaS companies and asking them about their revenue and their conversion rater and their cost per conversion and their lifetime value and all their stats. How much revenue, how many employees they had, what's their turnover, and turned it into the dominant podcast for SaaS entrepreneurs. Now he's on TV all over the place.
I think we had lunch, I think it was three years ago, we were in Austin. He was living in downtown Austin, one of the high rises. We were remarking about Donald Trump and how Donald Trump, whatever you say about Donald Trump, who cares what your politics are, he knows how to get your attention.
Kathleen: Yeah, he sure does.
Dennis: Gary Vaynerchuk knows how to get your attention. I consider them the same person. Dennis, what if I became the Donald Trump of digital marketing? I'm like, "You know dude? You're exactly the kind of guy with the personality and the shine and the intelligence and the speed to be able to do it, but just like with Donald Trump or Gary, you're gonna have a lot of haters." If you're willing to deal with the haters, you will kill it. You are so good. That's what he did. The next day, I saw on Facebook, all this commotion and it was Michael Stelzner and the other folks saying, "Who does this Nathan Latka kid think he is?"
He sent out this email to his mailing list of all his customers saying, "You know what? If you don't engage on my emails, I'm gonna delete you from my list." All these influential social media people are saying how dare he do that? He can't do that. He can't be saying things like that to his customers. He can't be saying that to Michael Stelzner. He did. He's like, "You know what, Michael? You don't like my stuff, you can leave." I'm like, Nathan, dude, I know we talked about that, but I didn't think he'd actually do it and he did. Look at how successful he is.
Kathleen: That's cool. I can't wait to check that example out because I get a lot of interesting answers when I ask this question and it's always really fun to discover somebody completely new.
Dennis: Look at his videos. It'll just be a minute, you're in line at Whole Foods and you open up and do a search on Facebook or Google or YouTube, and you're like, "Okay, I'll just watch a little bit of this video." Then before you know it, you've lost two hours watching his videos.
Kathleen: Oh dangerous. So in other words, don't watch them when I'm under a deadline on something, I guess.
Dennis: I'm warning you. He's so good. Full disclosure, he's a client.
Kathleen: Well, thank you for alerting me to him. That's gonna be an interesting one to check out. Now, the other question I'm interested to hear about from you is digital marketing is obviously changing so quickly. Technology is fueling a lot of it. How do you personally stay up to date and keep yourself on the cutting edge?
Dennis: I don't. I know it's kind of a flippant answer because you could say, "Oh yeah, but I know your network and you know these people and these people and these people." Here's my little trick. When I was a younger man, I thought that I could work harder than everybody and keep up with the news and read harder and work harder and I've since discovered, since I turned 40, that I can't do that. So all I do is I associate with the smartest people out there. So the reason I go to conferences is not because I want to be on stage or because I'm trying to get more clients or because I wanna be famous, it's because I want to hang out with the people that have that knowledge so that if I have a question, I know who I can chat up and they will answer my question.
So I don't at all pretend like I'm somehow the most knowledgeable person about everything going on in digital. You and I know there's so many different thing and so many different niches, it's just, even if you had 500 hours in a day, you couldn't keep up with all the things that are going on. All the different tools for video editing, no way I could keep up with that. But I do know that if I have a question about anything, I can literally pick up the phone and I know who to call and I know I can get the answer.
Dennis: So that's my secret. It's not what I need to know, it's who I need to know and that list of who is my topic wheel. So the people that pay us money, the people that we've worked with to be able to create influence is also who I count on for my expertise. So the way I make money is also the way that I'm able to educate. Even if I didn't make money off of these people, I would even pay money to hang out with the people like Michael Stelzner and Nathan Latka and David Burg and Ryan Deiss, but we're being paid by these people. Isn't that incredible?
Kathleen: That's a pretty great gig if you can get it, I'll say.
Kathleen: Yeah, for me it's my podcast. That's why I do this. People who listen, know I am always saying I would keep doing the podcast, even if nobody listened. Thank God, people do, but I learn so much and today is a great example of that. I feel like I've learned so much from you, so thank you.
You Know What To Do Next
Kathleen: If somebody is listening and wants to learn more about you or Blitzmetrics or has a question about personal branding, what's the best way for them to find you online?
Dennis: They can go to blitzmetrics.com, of course, and they can also look me up on LinkedIn, but please do not friend me on Facebook. I've been at the five thousand friend limit for the last eight years. Don't ask me for a blue check mark, don't ask me if your ads were disapproved, but absolutely, if you want to reach out to me on LinkedIn or go to my website, happy to chat with you there.
Kathleen: Fantastic. Thank you so much, Dennis. If you are listening and you learned something new or you liked what you heard, of course I'd love it if you'd give the podcast a review on iTunes or the platform of your choice.
If you know somebody who's down kick ass inbound marketing work, tweet me @workmommywork because they could be my next guest. Thanks so much Dennis. It was great chatting with you.
Dennis: Thanks Kathleen.
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