214 The Decision to Succeed Comes Before a Plan – Jay Baer

Jay Baer's career change and business startup:

  • The beginning of Jay Baer, before he started five multi-million dollar businesses from scratch;
  •  A family member's cancer diagnosis spurred his decision to start his own business;
  • Smart marketing in the modern day;
  • How he got his first clients after leaving corporate;
  • How to get past the fear of unknown future.

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More about our featured guest

Jay Baer is:

  • An experienced pro, having given hundreds of insightful, humorous presentations world-wide to audiences as large as 6,000;
  • A real-world expert, having consulted for 30 of the Fortune 500;
  • A success story, having started five multi-million dollar businesses from scratch;
  • A media company – he runs the world’s #1 content marketing blog;
  • The world’s #2 most retweeted person by B2B marketers;

Baer game-changing books:

Meet Jay at Social Media Marketing World 2015

social media marketing world 2015

Full Transcript

[00:02] Joel: Welcome to ReLaunch. The best show you will ever hear for career changers, difference makers, and those with a dream. And if you are a daily listener to this show, well thank you and welcome back. And if you are new to the show, well just know that you are among friends. Joining the conversation, we are having a blast talking it up with all of our friends in Twitter-land and we are thankful for our ReLaunch Nation people that join in.

[00:33] Pei: We actually just had a listener recommend another expert on our show, too. I'll tell you about it later.

[00:40] Joel: Oh okay, be sure and don't forget to mention that to me. Joining us on the show today, keynote speaker, New York Times best selling author of a great book. Check this out, the book is called “Youtility” and our guest is none other than Jay Baer. Jay, welcome, welcome to ReLaunch.

[00:58] Jay Baer: Thanks so much for having me. Delighted to be on Relaunch. Congratulations on all your success with the show, richly deserved.

[01:04] Joel: Thank you.

[01:05] JB: And congratulations on 13 years of marriage, that's pretty impressive.

[01:08] Joel: To the same person. You know, Jay, subtitle to your book is, “Why Smart Marketing is about Help and not Hype”. So if it's okay with you, we're going to talk about your book a little bit later on in the show. We won't keep you very long. I promise you that. I definitely want to give out some easy, actionable advise that we can put to work immediately, that we can peel off the pages of your book, but before we get into that, as you know Jay, this shows all about the relaunch and we generally ask our guests to zero in on the more significant, or the more transformational relaunch that they've been through in their life and then just unfold the story from there. If it's okay with you let's go ahead and bring you into to today's show talking about Jay's relaunch. Where should we start?

[01:59] JB: Well, I have done a lot of launches and only a couple of relaunches, but I'll tell you the one that I think, probably had the biggest impact on my career and my overall trajectory.

[02:11] Joel: Okay.

[02:12] JB: In 2000, I was working as the Vice President of Marketing for a start up company, this was in the go-go days of the dot com era.

[02:25] Pei: Yeah.

[02:25] Joel: Okay.

[02:25] JB: And it was going pretty well, but what I'd always wanted to do is run my business, have my own consulting firm, my own agency, that kind of thing. But I didn't do that, because I was scared to do that. Right, I had a young child, then I was getting paid pretty well and I was like what if this don't work out? What's going to happen then? I knew what I wanted to do, but I just didn't have the courage to do it. At the same time, I was fortunate enough to be in the circumstance where my best friend was also my brother-in-law. He married my wife's sister, which I highly recommend if you can orchestrate that kind of thing.


[03:05] JB: It makes family gatherings infinitely more entertaining. So we spent all kinds of time together, it was glory days, we were young and doing our thing. And right at that point, he unfortunately got diagnosed with brain cancer which is pretty unusual. We're young people and that really struck home, and after he was diagnosed, I walked in the next day and quit my job, and said, “You know what, maybe if I start my own company, it's not going to work out, but what's the worst thing that's going to happen?” I'm gonna go be an internet guy for some other company. And it forced me to dimensionalize my own fear and dimensionalize my own shortcomings, and once I did that, once I really got some context around what it really means to have an upside and a downside, I walked in and quit, and started my own company the next day, and I've never worked for anybody else another day in my life.

[04:05] Joel: Wow, so it just, it took that kind of a… And I wasn't there and I'm definitely making light of the situation, but it took something, I guess dramatic, to happen to really get you take that next step. What's the best way to frame that? Go ahead Jay.

[04:27] Joel: Well, no, you're exactly right. I think a lot of people listening to this show might be in a circumstance where they have the golden handcuffs, right? They need to relaunch, but it's not from a place of misery or everything's going wrong in their life, probably things are going pretty well, but sometimes that can lull you into ignoring what your real opportunities are and your real objectives. And in my case, it was conquering fear by essentially saying, “You know what, I'm gonna wake up tomorrow, it's gonna be okay.” I don't really have the kind of downside that I think I have, and understanding the true nature of risk and result is what really prompted me to relaunch my career that it's worked out.

[05:14] Joel: Well… Go ahead, Pei.

[05:15] Pei: Well, Jay, you mentioned something that, I heard this before and you asked yourself a pretty key question, is, “Really, what's the worse that can happen?” I think a lot of times that question brings us to reality and what's facing us is not as scary as we originally thought. And so I'm curious, that happened so fast, the next day you turn in your resignation, but before that, what was that conversation like with your wife?

[05:51] JB: I'll tell you, Pei, actually, it wasn't much of a conversation. I said, “This is what I'm doing and I'm doing it.” Because, I knew if I talked about it too much, I would find other ways to not do it.

[06:03] Joel: Okay, then, that's a huge…

[06:05] JB: Sometimes you have to do that. You just have to rip off the band-aid, right?

[06:08] Joel: Right.

[06:09] JB: And the key though, the key thing that I did, and this what I tell all entrepreneurs when I give entrepreneurial-focused speeches, is write down your fears. Whatever is preventing you from relaunching right now, whatever is causing you to pause or stop, get a piece of paper and write it down. And when you take your fears and you put 'em on paper, it takes all the power away. Most of the people who can't get past their fear, it's because their fear is amorphous in their head and it overwhelms them. When you write it down and you'd look at it on one line on a piece of paper, like, “Ah, it's not actually that bad.”

[06:46] Pei: Interesting.

[06:47] Joel: Let me ask you this, Jay. You speak to audiences and corporations all over the country, but when people talk to you about, “You know, Jay I really wanna do this” or “I really wanna do this thing.” There's a dichotomy here. There's a relaunch of choice like, “Yeah, I can choose to start this company” or “I can choose to get in this other line of work.” But there comes a point where there's a relaunch of necessity.

[07:16] JB: Yes.

[07:17] Joel: And you know what I'm talking about, right?

[07:18] JB: Mm-hmm.

[07:19] Joel: So, talk to me about relaunch of necessity, when it's necessary that people have to share themselves in this deeper way.

[07:30] JB: Well, it's difficult to think about like this in a moment. Certainly.

[07:35] Joel: No question.

[07:36] JB: But, what a relaunch of necessity is, is a recipe for freedom, right? It's an opportunity to say, “Hey, I'm gonna play by different rules. I'm gonna do something that I wanted to do before but I didn't have the opportunity to do that.” I've managed a lot of people in my career and owned a lot of companies and had a lot of employees and every time somebody who works for you comes in your office and says some of those magic words, “Hey I need to talk to you.” And you know they're leaving for a better job or something like that, right. Instantly, you always panic about that. It's like, “Ugh, I don't wanna replace this person.” But what I've discovered is that while you never want to lose good people, it is an opportunity. It's an opportunity to redefine job description. It's an opportunity to change the nature of your organization. It always works out pretty well, ultimately, and it's the same thing with relaunches of necessity. You have to look at it for what it really is which is an opportunity.

[08:32] Pei: Yeah. So, when you make that decision to have your own business, by the way, how long ago was that?

[08:41] JB: 2000.

[08:42] Pei: Okay.

[08:42] JB: So, it's been, almost 15 years.

[08:43] Pei: Okay. So, did you have a little bit, quite a bit of clarity on exactly how your business gonna be?

[08:51] JB: [laughter] Oh Pei, you're so funny.


[08:55] JB: No, I had no clarity at all. Here's exactly how I started my business. I had a list of people that I knew in Arizona, where I lived at the time, and I sat down the day after I started my own company and I called every person that I knew.

[09:12] Joel: Okay.

[09:13] JB: I called like three or four hundred people. And I said, “Hey, you know me as an internet guy probably and now doing my own thing and if you need any help with anything related to the internet or you know anybody who does, I'd sure be happy to help you with that.” And, I got three customers in the first week which was enough to pay my bills. And, I've been profitable, literally, every month since. I just said look, it's just hard work. The same way I sold my book. We sold tens of thousands of copies of my book and did lots of marketing and advertising and all those kind of things… Public relations. But I'll tell you, this is the truth, you know how I sold the most copies of the book? Is I sent a personal email to something like 1,200 people. And said look…

[10:03] Pei: You mean, one by one.

[10:05] JB: Yeah, one by one. I said, “Look, I've known you for a long time and I haven't asked you for much, but I'm gonna ask you for this, which is this book is really important to me and I really would appreciate it, if you bought some copies of this book or told people about it.” And I sold many, many thousands of copies of that book in two days by sending… It took me hours and hours and hours and hours and hours, but it worked. And, it will work for anybody. Sometimes, we want the results but we don't want to put the effort into it. And you have to.

[10:37] Joel: Two things there, Jay, and thank you for that. I really appreciate you sharing that. One of the things I say often, and Pei can attest to this, is that the decision comes before the plan. The decision to go…

[10:51] JB: Absolutely.

[10:51] Joel: The decision to go comes before the plan. If you decide that, “You know what? I'm going to start a business” or “I'm going to run a marathon” or “I'm going to do something… ” You make the decision firm and concrete first and then, the other pieces kinda fill in as you go. And that's a neat theory, but it actually works out or at least it has, in my experience.

[11:24] Joel: Second thing is, and it's a brilliant point that you brought up. You actually asked for the sale or for the favor, or for the boost from the people that were already in your circle. One of my favorite authors is Bob Beaudine, he talks about “The Power of Who”. In a nutshell, he says, “Everyone you need to know, you already know.”

[11:51] JB: That's right.

[11:53] Joel: And that's what you did. And you have to do that when you're launching a book, a product, a service, anything is, you have to ask. Go ahead, Pei.

[12:03] Pei: Jay, you ought to see, Joel's kinda almost jumping out of his seat. [chuckle]

[12:07] Joel: Did you see that spit? A little bit of spit came out when I was…

[12:10] Pei: He's so excited about what you shared, and what I also get excited about is, no matter how much promotion on social media you share here on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, and Google+, those personal phone calls and emails are still very effective, so.

[12:30] JB: Oh, no question. All social media really does is it allows you to amplify relationships, right? To build relationships somewhat at scale, but most of the people I interact with in social media are people that I actually know or that I have actually met, and I suspect that will continue to be the case. What I've said hundreds of times is that, “We've gotta worry less about doing social media, and worry more about being social,” and that's true for everybody.

[13:00] Joel: I like that. That's very very good. Thank you for sharing. Okay, “Youtility” with a Y-O-U. Let's talk about…

[13:07] Pei: Yeah.

[13:08] Joel: The book. Let's get into the practical aspects. First of all, what did “Youtility” need to be written, and why were you the guy that needed to do it?

[13:18] JB: Well, the definition of “Youtility” is marketing so useful that people would pay for it.

[13:25] Joel: Okay.

[13:26] JB: It's marketing with so much value that if you said, “Hey, would you kick in a couple dollars to receive this?” People would say, “Yeah, actually I think I probably would kick in a couple dollars to receive… It's marketing that people cherish.

[13:39] Joel: Okay.

[13:39] JB: Instead of what we've been doing for a 1000 years, which is creating marketing that people simply tolerate. And it needs to be written because the old way of marketing, whether it's television, radio, print, outdoor, direct mail, all the… Yellow Pages. You know, all those big-broad, top of the funnel things, don't work anymore. They don't work the way they used to. Audience behavior has changed in a huge way, and so consequently, companies are trying to use digital marketing, social media, content marketing, as a replacement for what we used to do in business, but most of them are doing it wrong, right? Most of them are talking about themselves, and saying, “Well, let's create a blog that's essentially just a brochure, but now we're gonna call it a “blog” and that's not gonna work, either.

[14:23] JB: So, the time to write the book I thought was perfect because we had all these changes in consumer behavior and technology at the same time, that marketers were really starting to embrace content in social media. And so we put together the premise and wrote the book. It has lots and lots of case studies for small businesses and large businesses as well. And it's been extremely successful, more so than I even imagined it would be.

[14:48] Joel: Okay, what… What was the biggest surprise that you found if we're talking about mistakes that marketers were making in trying to get their content out there? You already talked about, “Well, it's kind of… “It's about themselves,” but if you go a little bit deeper, a bigger mistake?

[15:09] JB: I think that the more operational-level mistake is that companies and really, individuals, don't market their marketing. Right? If you're gonna build a utility, some very useful marketing program, you have to make sure people know about it. There's a lot of great stuff out there that nobody ever sees because they just… People create it, and it just lies there. Today, amplification of content is as important as production of content and a lot of people…

[15:36] Joel: Okay, okay, talk about that. Talk about amplication of content.

[15:41] JB: So, when you… You think about, all right, if we're gonna create a mobile app that's really fantastic, how do I… How does anybody know that mobile app exists? There's an example, it's from the book. There's a hospital in Phoenix, Phoenix Children's Hospital, and they have mobile app called the “Car Seat Helper App.” It's pretty fantastic. It helps you pick out the best car seat if you're a young parent. ‘Cause have you ever tried to buy a car seat like at Babies”R”Us or Target or Walmart, it's pretty confusing. There's like a whole aisle of them, and they all look the same. There all priced pretty much the same. They're like, “I don't know, I don't know how to make this decision,” so that was a challenge.

[16:16] JB: And they put together this mobile app that says okay, “You plug in some data, how tall is your kid, how heavy is your kid, what kind of car do you have,” press the button, boom, and it recommends a car seat to you. Pretty great, right? Well, the Phoenix Children's Hospital only has a one-and-half person marketing department for the whole hospital, for all the things they do. But they said, “Look, if we're gonna go to the trouble of having this app get built, we need to make sure that people know about it. Otherwise, what's the point of this exercise?”

[16:43] Pei: Right.

[16:43] JB: So, they put together a 60-day launch plan, just for this mobile app. They featured it on their homepage. They emailed their entire list. They bought Google ads. They did a YouTube demo video. They've indicated that. They put it on Facebook. They bought Facebook ads. They did a local media relations campaign. They did a national media relations campaign. And it ended up generating almost 400,000 downloads in the first six months, because they actually marketed their marketing, right? They treated their own marketing like a product, and that's exactly how everybody should be doing this.

[17:15] Joel: Okay that's Tweet-able. “Treat your marketing like a product.”

[17:19] JB: I mean you guys do a great job of that on this show, right? You do a real… As well as almost any podcast out there, you really do a great job of turning what you're doing in the show into a product, in promoting it, and making sure that it becomes a movement. A lot of podcasters could learn a lot of lessons from you.

[17:36] Joel: Thank you for saying that.

[17:37] Pei: Thank you.

[17:37] Joel: I definitely appreciate that.

[17:39] Pei: And I think, Jay, is… I can tell, doing what you do and spreading this message, these were the gifts and strengths you already have in you, and you're already doing very well marketing, but when you went out consulting for other people, you find out there are lots of people who are not doing what they're supposed to do to get their message, get their product out. So, yeah, it's great you wrote this book.

[18:10] JB: Thanks, yeah. And there's a whole series now that we've… Obviously, “Youtility” is the main book but there's “Youtility for Accountants” that's out, “Youtility for Real Estate”, which just came out a couple of days ago and more on the way. And it's nice to take a very specific vertical approach.

[18:26] Joel: Absolutely.

[18:26] JB: So if you're in real estate, there's a bunch of case studies and how-tos just for that industry. It's kind of fun.

[18:30] Joel: Very good. Okay. So last thing. Coming in for a landing on this one. Now, give us some ideas on how people can create marketing so good that customers will actually wanna consume it. What are the… What's the secret sauce here, Jay?

[18:46] JB: Well, there's a whole process in the book for how to do that, a whole step-by-step process. So, we don't have time to go through all of it…

[18:52] Joel: Sure, yeah.

[18:52] JB: But I'll tell you what the key is.

[18:54] Joel: Okay.

[18:55] JB: Which is, we are, as business people, as marketers, as entrepreneurs, as small business owners, we are surrounded by data, but we're often starved for insights.

[19:10] Joel: Okay, explain.

[19:12] JB: We have more data than ever. We've got more reports, more spreadsheets, more APIs, more math, more software. We've got more of all of that than we ever have.

[19:21] Joel: No question.

[19:22] Pei: But every time you look in a report and you say, “Oh, well this report says that our customer's XYZ.” You are by definition, treating your customers as a number and that is very very limiting. So, what I advise everybody to do, regardless of your circumstances is to actually move beyond data and get to insights and what that requires is having actual conversations with other people. Get out from behind your desk and go out and talk to your customers, whether it's face-to-face or maybe on the phone. Worst case scenario, e-mail survey. Have actual interactions with people and they will tell you. You will find, you will discover the things that they would find useful. You'll learn a lot more from that than you will from anything else.

[20:05] Joel: Okay. So, let me ask you this. Last question, here. Taking that advise, having actual conversations… Can you give us a quick case study from your book?

[20:18] JB: Here's a great one that Pei will know, 'cause Pei's a dentist, correct? Is that…

[20:20] Joel: Yes.

[20:21] Pei: Yes.

[20:21] JB: So, I was in Boston recently doing a conference for oral surgeons, talking about Youtility. A guy comes up to me afterwards and says, “Hey, I'm an oral surgeon in Texas,” I think it was.

[20:33] Pei: Oh, maybe I know him.

[20:35] Joel: You probably know him. [chuckle]

[20:36] JB: You may. He says, “Here's what I do.” He said, “I never thought this was special, but I think it is special, as it turns out.” Every Friday, his office staff gives him a list of patients that are coming in the next week who have… Who are new patients, who have never been to see him before. Over the weekend, while he's in his car or watching football, or whatever, he calls every single one of those patients and says, “Hey, it's Dr. Gary. It looks like you're coming in for the first time next week. We're really glad to have you as part of the practice. Before you come in, do you have any questions for me? About me, or the procedure, or the office or anything else?” And they almost never do, but it blows their minds, right. He is building trust before the transaction. And he said routinely, people come in and say, “Yeah, I'm a new patient. I'm here because you're the dentist who called my friend before she ever even came to the office.” That's a utility that everybody could find a way to employ in their own set of circumstances.

[21:35] Joel: This is Tweetable. He said, “Build trust before the transaction.”

[21:39] Pei: Yes, I love that.

[21:41] Joel: Did you catch that, Pei?

[21:41] Pei: Yep.

[21:42] Joel: That is… That's Tweetable.

[21:43] Pei: And in a realistic situation, that… Especially for a big procedure like that, it dramatically reduce the no-shows. ‘Cause, right or wrong, dental patients, a lot of them have fear.

[21:58] Joel: What are you talking about?

[21:59] JB: You know what, I've been thinking about this and maybe I don't wanna go through with this. Sure.

[22:02] Joel: [chuckle] Great stuff, Jay. Jay Baer… Or Jay Baer is our guest today. “Youtility”, that's the book to get. It's a New York Times best seller. Of course, we're gonna have all the social media hot spots, plus the links to the books in our broadcast show notes. Jay, this has been a pleasure. You're welcome back here on ReLaunch anytime. Let us… Congratulations on your latest book. You just had one come out a couple days ago. It was…

[22:32] JB: Yep. “Youtility for Real Estate.”

[22:34] Joel: Okay. Yep. Great series you've got going there.

[22:36] JB: Thanks, appreciate it.

[22:37] Joel: Absolutely. Have a wonderful, wonderful, rest of your day, Jay. Thanks for your time.

[22:40] JB: Thanks so much guys. I really appreciate it. Terrific show.

Follow Jay on Twitter, LinkedIn, and visit his site.

Joel Boggess

Keynote Speaker | Corporate Trainer | Award-winning podcaster I help teams ignite their courage, take bolder steps, and get greater results. Together, we create possibilities that bring empowerment, meaning, and financial impact.

1 Comment

  1. Joyce Kaiser (@Driftseed) on January 14, 2015 at 5:28 am

    Great Show. I am saving this one to my toolbox …

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