In today’s episode, we’re talking with Russell Pearson, otherwise known as the “Brand Design Guy”.
Russell has an extensive background in sales and marketing, has worked with some of the biggest brands on earth, and is exactly who we wanted to talk to us about Attracting Better Clients Fast.
I think you’ll be surprised at some of the insights and bits of wisdom throughout this episode.
If you’re ready to land the best clients 100% of the time, this episode is for you. Enjoy!
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Show Notes 📓
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Read the Transcription 🤓
Taylorr: Welcome to another episode of Technically Speaking! We are your hosts, Taylorr and Austin, and in this week’s episode, we are talking with Russell Pearson, otherwise known as the “Brand Design Guy.” Now, Russell has an extensive background in sales and marketing, has worked with some of the biggest brands on earth, and is exactly who we wanted to talk to us today about attracting better clients fast. I think you’ll be surprised at some of the insights and bits of wisdom that Russell shares throughout this episode. So, hey – if you’re ready to land the best clients 100% of the time, stick around. This episode is for you. We hope you liked this one. And we are live! Russell, man, welcome to the show. It’s so awesome to have you.
Russell: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. Thanks for having me. Um, it was great talking to you on other platforms, like Clubhouse, but here we are in the virtual flesh.
Taylorr: Yeah, absolutely. We certainly got along, you and I. I’m very excited to talk about attracting some better clients today. I think our core philosophies here at SpeakerFlow and probably some things our listeners have heard time and time again, but bringing another voice to the table to talk on this subject is crucial. So, we’re really excited to have you on.
Russell: Fantastic and, uh, you know, it’s good to hear people with accents in the room, so, uh, I’m ready to roll.
Taylorr: That’s great! So we have the accents or you have the accent? [cross-talk 01:00]
Russell: Of course, of course!
Austin: I’m not going to lie: every time we have somebody on the show that’s from Australia, I’m excited just to be able to listen to you for a while. I’m sure our listeners feel the same way.
Taylorr: Perfect. So, Russell, one of the ways we love to kick off the show is just talking about your background, your experience, like, how did you end up in the speaking space, the thought leadership space? What was your journey like? How, how’d you get here?
Russell: Okay. That’s a, that’s an interesting one. Um, maybe most people wouldn’t know, but I, uh, have a significant fear of speaking, um… even now. But when I started, I was, I was petrified, and the only reason I got into it is I was at a business hub. There was like with a whole bunch of businesses working in the same center, and four of us decided to get together once a month and share an idea with one another. There was myself as marketing, there was an accountant, there was a HR person and some other guy was in IT. Right? And so each month we come together and share that, and it was just, you know, good little education and we’re only speaking to three people so it wasn’t technically speaking. And then, a guy popped his head in and said, “Could I join?” And then that started happening on a regular basis until we had 60 and 70 in the room, and then, suddenly, we’re like, “Oh, we need to take this a little bit more seriously.”
And so I started getting presenters in, and I’m like, “All right, I’ll host the event.” I was still nervous about the hosting. And then one day, one of them canceled right on the morning of the… of the session and I had to step up. So I stepped up and did the, did the 45 minute session and then spoke to this room.
And, because of the adrenaline of everything going wrong, I think I just ignored the nerves, and someone said, “Oh, you should do more of that.” “Um, I, well, I’m not a speaker.” “But it was really good. You should do more.” And “I don’t know, maybe I will,” and the next one was actually, again, not on purpose. It was an awards presentation, certainly in front of 200 people, and I was preparing so I did get nervous. And I had a case of what I call the “Charlie Brown’s.” I don’t know if – I think you do, ‘cause it’s a, it’s a US cartoon – but in that cartoon, you’ve got Charlie Brown sits at the back of the, the, the class and the teacher’s at the front. And every time they’re teaching, they go, “Wuh wuh wuh wuh wuh.”
That’s how they sound, so I start hearing my voice sound like that, and I’m like, “I’m about to faint.” And I somehow got through this sort of – it was just 10 minutes – but this 10 minute presentation and everyone’s like, “Oh, that was great. Fantastic.” And I’m like “Didn’t they see how nervous I was?” So I asked some friends. They go, “We could kind of tell, ‘cause we know you, but, but not really.” And I’m like, “Wow… well, thank God I’ll never have to do that again.” And then I go back to the office, and because of just the way I do things, you know, I offered something from the stage. I said, “By the way (you know, my company was Crimson Fox.) I said, “This is a Crimson Fox presentation. So it would not make sense if I didn’t offer something.”
Anyway, I got back to the office and 20 people have contacted to work with us. I’m like, “Oh no, no. If I do this, if I put myself out there, I’m going to get rewarded like this each time? All right.” I just had to start facing the fear, you know? And, and, uh, it’s funny because I just kept doing that, and it just kept rewarding me and I ended up being – I’m not sure if you’re aware – but I ended up being the national president for Professional Speakers Australia [cross-talk 04:36]
which is the equivalent of NSA over in the US. Um, and, uh… yeah, the journey sort of took me to a better [inaudible 4:46] and I’m still loving it today. So now I, um, yeah, now I mentor people, not just in the speaking space. It’s really around business, sales, and marketing, but, um, yeah… I do it with my voice and my presentation. So definitely a skill to be valued.
Austin: Yeah. Wow. That’s such a cool story. I mean, it’s pretty frequent that people come on and will tell us that they just sort of fell into the industry, and it sounds like in some ways it was that for you as well. But the thing that I love is like, you saw the impact for it, and so, despite your fears, you were willing to go for it just because, you know, it was a, a method for you to be successful and provide value to people. So, um [cross-talk 05:24].
Russell: Absolutely! No one, no one has yet convinced me that jumping out of a plane is going to give me the same level of reward. Otherwise, maybe I would try it.
Taylorr: Fair enough.
Austin: Okay, everybody, we have a bounty. Anybody that convinces Russell to jump out of a plane – We’ll reward you somehow or another. [cross-talk 05:40] Wow. Cool. Well, so, I’m curious, like we – we have very similar philosophies, a lot about, or about a lot of these things. And I know you classify yourself as both a sales and a marketing expert in some regards. So I’m curious, like from your angle, what does the relationship look like for you between sales and marketing, and how are they different? But, more importantly, how should they be functioning together?
Russell: Well, I mean, that’s why, what’s why I do focus on sales and marketing is because of the connection between the two and… you know, working with corporates in different businesses over the last 25 years, the big issue that I saw in those companies is the different departments at war. So you’ve got like the marketing department over here. You got the sales department over here, and they’re literally fighting one another, you know? “There’s not enough leads.” “The leads aren’t good enough, you know?” “Why aren’t you – you salespeople are not closing anybody.” “We can’t close this rubbish, you know?” And so it just goes back and forth, and so when I go into a business, that, that is really one of my goals is to – how do I link the two methods so that they naturally flow into one another?
And that’s certainly something that I’ve done in big businesses, but, but it is something that I do for, for these practices, especially for speakers where they’re, they’re going, “All right, well, I’m doing all this content work, and I’m waiting for someone to, to, to ask me to do something,” which means they don’t have a sales process. And then there’s some people who are just all sales and they actually do alright, but it’s all energy output, you know? They’re not, they’re not attracting anybody. So it’s, it’s finding that balance between the two is where I sort of work. Um, and there was a second part of the question, which I’ve completely forgotten, ‘cause I’m a speaker and I just started talking.
Austin: Oh yeah, no, I, I think that was fine. I, um, I, I love what you just said. I mean, really there’s – it’s so funny to me that there’s these two things that are ultimately responsible for a similar outcome, which is generating revenue for the business. And yet, it’s all the time that they’re conflicting with one another. And that’s certainly true for larger organizations where there’s more people involved, and so it kind of makes sense that there could become… you know – there could be conflict. But even for the single-person businesses that we work with, they struggle with that, too, where the sales and marketing aren’t functioning together or they’re putting too many eggs in one or the other basket and therefore they don’t have this whole machine operating for them. They just have, like, one gear that’s spinning out there.
Russell: Yeah. A hundred percent. So there’s the – there’s, there’s two elements to that. There’s – one is the systems side, whether you’re using automation or just processes, whatever it might be. They don’t, a lot of the time, have those systems working for them, which means that they’re just, they’ve just got their energy, energy and time. Yay. The two most valuable things that any of us have? That’s what they’re spending, ight? So there’s that side of things, and then there’s the other, which is the war that’s going on in their head, which is like, “I’m a speaker, not a sales person. Like, I shouldn’t be selling.” All right. Well, you don’t have to sell. There are other ways of looking at it. I –it’s funny. Words are incredible. Obviously for speakers, you will understand that, but when I think of the word “sales,” I’m thinking of the word “help” and I’m not being… contrite in that. That’s how I think about it. When I think of “problem,” I think of “opportunity.” Yet, if I say the word “problem” to other people, “I don’t, I don’t want a problem.” If they say “sell?” “Well, I don’t want to sell.” And so it very much is this mindset game that’s going on for speakers out there, because even if they’ve got some support team, ideally at the end of the day, they’re going to be the best person to get a, an opportunity across the line.
Austin: Yeah. You know, we hear pretty frequently, too, people talking about this tendency that they have, where if business does come to them, then taking them from “I’m interested” to “I’m now a customer” isn’t always the problem. There’s a lot of people that feel very confident closing business, but it seems like there’s a lot of people that really struggle with the front end of that, where you’re going out there and “hunting,” I guess, for lack of a better term, or you’re going to go out and pursue business and generate that interest through outreach or whatever other methods are available to us. So I’m curious, from your angle, like, do you feel like that some of that internal war that somebody is having in their head comes from that first part of the process, as opposed to the closing part? Or do you see a little bit of both?
Russell: Yeah. It’s um – and it comes off the back of referrals. Referrals is – can be – one of the most damaging things for any sales department, let alone any speaker that needs to have that sale because there’s this real false confidence that comes off the back of it. So, if you get a referral that comes in – oh, I speak to so many businesses that are looking to grow and they go, “All that work comes off referrals. So you bring us, you bring us new customers and we’ll be able to close them at 80% or more.” I’m like, “You won’t because this person doesn’t know, like, and trust you yet.”
And so there’s a different way of going about it. “Yeah, but, you know, I can grow simply by bringing them in.” “No, but that’s your problem. That’s what’s been happening for the last two years is you’ve been spinning your wheels and not growing because you’ve been, you know, using the strategy of luck,” which is what I call referrals a lot of the time, because you’re waiting for someone else to tell them about you rather than you going and, and finding people who have real problems that really could use your help and making that offer.
Taylorr: Yeah, it seems too hopeful, really, you know? Like just anticipating that the phone is gonna ring and emails are going to come in from all of our referrals or even – I know people, especially just speakers as a whole, right? We might subscribe to these directories or these listings that are meant to increase our visibility, which yeah, fair enough, right? They might. You might get in front of somebody who might reach out, but you certainly can’t lean on that. It’s certainly not an active form of the actual, you know, generation of your own revenue, right? It doesn’t seem very intentful, and what I find happening a lot of the time, too, is we is we see that people end up wasting their time on non revenue generating activities, kind of like a social media, media circle, you know? That cycle – it just seems to kind of perpetuate and, you know, social media can be valuable, but is it more valuable than, you know, picking up the phone and building a relationship directly with somebody who might have a problem you can solve? I don’t know.
Russell: Yeah. The best way to market yourself as a speaker is to be on stage. So, um, people say that and it’s true, but they’re like, “Well, but how do I get on stage?” Like me putting myself out there on social media. There’s a nice photo. I have my methodology, I have my expertise, whatever it might be. I’m a wonderful person and you are wonderful people, but no one knows that yet. And even, even, you know, the 20,000 followers that you have on social media only see a tiny little portion of that. Now, if you take email marketing and the average email marketing open rate is somewhere between 20 and 30%. So, if you take that, the social media open rate is so much smaller. We’re looking at single percentages.
So if you’re, if you’re trusting in this exposure expertise and positioning, you’re literally waiting on the 1% hope of something, someone seeing you, then the 1% of that actually doing something about it, whereas if you know who can say yes to you, you’re actively building relationships with that person. Yes, you’re doing the stuff on social media so that when people check you out, there’s evidence that you are real. Yes, you have a website that proves that you’ve done this before. But it’s the conversations that are the things that generate the activity.
And one of the biggest issues with those conversations is I see people going in thinking that they need to put a peg into a hole. So they’ve productized their business and they’re offering the thing that they’re going to sell from a keynote or whatever it might be. “This is what I’ve got.” And by saying, “This is what I’ve got,” you’re literally coming into a binary sales conversation where they can either say “yes” or “no” based off what’s going on for them. So if you instead go into that conversation as a conversation and go in in a way that “I’m going to collaborate with this person to give them an outcome that’s really going to be beneficial to them and serve me at the same time.”
If you go in with that mindset, you’re not trying to put a peg into a hole. It doesn’t matter what shape it is. You try and force it in. But you can actually speak to them about what’s going on in the business. What are the problems? And if you are the right person to help with that problem, then start designing a solution with them rather than saying, “This is how I do things.” That’s going to create so much more opportunity. And the time to productize is when hundreds of people have said, “That’s what I want.” So once you’ve collaborated enough times, you’ve done the design enough times. It’s only people going, “Yes, that’s it. That’s it. That’s it,” look at the trend of what they’re saying, and then start productizing that offer. And that’s the offer you can start sending out to people.
Taylorr: Yeah, it sounds like people are productizing a little too early on just in the, in the scheme of things, you know? It also is very transactional, too, when you go into a conversation, “This is what I’ve got.” And like, that’s it. One of the things we see constantly with, you know, people – especially people who label themselves just as speakers, right? Which is a terrible mistake. Don’t do that. You’re an expert first, but when you put that label on yourself, you say, “Yeah, I speak.” And then like, that’s the end of the relationship. But like when somebody hires an expert to come in and deliver that expertise, generally there’s a larger problem there to be solved and speaking can be the very first entry point to share an incredible amount of value with somebody and then deepen that relationship further. I mean, it almost seems like, yeah, we’re missing out on opportunities that are closing from the front end when we productize too early, but we’re certainly missing out on that deeper lifetime value in that relationship of that client, too, if we’re not trying to design a solution for them. I mean, am I, am I reading it?
Russell: A hundred percent. And then you also run into the problem where they’ve had you last year, so why would they have you again? You’re not showing an evolution to that discussion. Now, the great keynote speakers are doing that, and then they’re literally writing a book every year. So they’re, they’re redesigning that, but they’re writing it off of the back of the trends that they witnessed and had conversations about in the year before. Like “I see this problem coming, I’m going to solve this problem.” They’re on there. And those guys are great – guys and girls. They’re doing some fantastic work, and those are, you know, the keynote type speakers. Now that’s fine – I think it’s fine to be a keynote speaker, but it depends why you’re doing it. So there are different niches, and I say that there’s sort of like four intersections to create a niche. And everyone gets hooked up on it because they go, “Do you mean I have to have a specific industry and a specific problem I solve?” You know, that’s one way.
But there could be like a, you know, a specific audience and a specific outcome that you generate, which could be solved by multiple different ways. It could be you have a specific method and a specific problem that you solve, right? That’s many audiences, you know? There’s, there’s like sort of four, four different pieces that you can intersect on and you need at least two to actually have some sort of relevance.
But what I see people being told is, is, “You need to go and create a keynote.” And, and I agree with that to get stage time. So you take that keynote, you know, to your rotary groups, to all the different places where you can get those “stage time” opportunities, because it’s a quicker conversation. You’re not designing for pay, but once you start getting into this – whether it be the corporate audiences or larger paying audiences – and I’m not talking about public audiences, I can talk about that in a second. But those other ones where they, they want you to come in and, and be a thing? That’s where you want to start doing that design work because you’re selling a solution or an outcome rather than trying just to get stage time.
Taylorr: Sometimes people don’t even have events, right? Like one of the things we hear a lot of the times when people want to break through, into the corporate space – maybe they’ve been doing the arena circuit or the, the events circuit for a while and associations, for example, or just events, period, and they want to get into corporate – but they’re like, “Well, how do I identify, like, if corporate has an event for a speaker?” And it’s like, “Well, you’re kind of thinking about this wrong. Like, they have a problem to be solved, and you can help them solve that problem by reaching out and identifying it and then designing something with them.” And maybe speaking happens to be a part of that. [cross-talk 18:19]
Russell: I don’t know if you guys are on the same page as me on this one, but the corporate discussion kills me.
Russell: Yeah. Well, yes, “Selling to corporate is a very, very complex process. And then you – just go and sell to SMEs. So, you know, that’s a very different –” They’re people, people. They are just people, and they’re people with problems. Different problems, you know? They don’t have the problem of running the entire business. The person you’re speaking to has a problem with they’re trying to keep their job, and they, they want to look good, and they want it to be easy and they’re flat out and crazy, whatever it might be for your audience. But they’re people, which means that you’re not trying to create a product that someone’s going to buy off the shelf. You should be having conversations with people, building relationships, getting them to know and like you and then trust you enough to say, “Yeah, let’s do it,” whatever “it” is.
Austin: That’s critical in this space too, because ultimately like – I mean, there’s some people that have a really specific expertise where there’s not a lot of other people out there that are doing that. More power to those people. But, for a lot of us, we’re speaking on topics that generally speaking have other content and materials out there. And so, like, if somebody was just looking to hire somebody by X criteria for X expertise, right? They could go on Google, they could go find the directories. They could look at people that have the social proof and then hire somebody. If you’re going to go out there and win the business, then you have to focus on differentiation and something that is a really – okay, maybe not “easy” but “simple” thing to do is focus on the relationship as opposed to the transaction that you’re seeking from that relationship, because there’s not a lot of people that do that. And I think that, to your point, if you can just level with somebody, person to person, and have an authentic conversation where they feel like they have the space to tell you what’s really going wrong and you can be honest about what that solution might look like, that’s that trust that then is the distinction, is the differentiation that will create the sale in the long haul. I mean, would you agree with that?
Russell: A hundred percent, a hundred percent. And, and you can create processes when you’re going into these conversations so at least you know what stage of a conversation you’re at or whether you’ve done the work to be having this part of the conversation. I’ll give you an example. So let’s say you’re coming to a business conversation. They are – there is intent there. So they are thinking of having you as a, as a speaker, or they’re thinking of, like, how you can potentially help them with a program or solve a problem, right? They want to talk to you about it ‘cause it’s your expertise. If they’re not willing to open – be open about what’s going on in the business, you know? If they’re not willing to be transparent about the challenges that they’re having, they don’t like you yet.
Taylorr: That’s a good rule of thumb.
Russell: Which means that you haven’t built enough of a relationship to be having that conversation. And so if I ever find myself in a situation where I go, “All right, well, what’s the current turnover, you know? Because I would need to work out where we’re going to go with that.” And they go, “Well, I don’t really want to talk about numbers right now.” If I get that, I’m like “I have missed three separate steps before this, which is to actually build a relationship with this person, and after that, they want me to help them. They are currently looking at me as a service provider rather than a solution creator. They’re not looking at me as a supportive partner in this, in this scenario at all yet. They’re just looking at me as another person who knocked on their door.” So it – there is a process that goes with having some of these conversations and it’s pretty simple. It’s make friends, do discovery as the majority of the conversation, open questions, find out everything you need to know, and then when you think you know what it is ask, “Is there anything else?” and then get into this collaborative discussion about how that could be solved.
The next step is just helping them say yes. And that’s just literally, if it isn’t a, you know, corporate arena, the only challenge really is to make sure that, that there’s a process you go through to get signed off. So how do we make that easy? If you’re talking to an individual who’s buying a thing from you, maybe they don’t have the funds available this second. Alright, how do we work out a payment plan across that?” or whatever it might be, but we help them say “yes.” You know? We make it easy for them to transact with us. So that’s just a very simple, you know: make friends, do discovery, collaborate with them, and help them say “yes.” But it should be conversational. You’re there to work together. You’re not there to put a peg in a hole.
Austin: Yeah, I totally hear you coming from. I agree. I want to pose something to you, and this is a question that we get asked quite frequently, and it’s actually something that I’ve personally struggled with, and it seems like you may have a potential solution here. But I think a lot of people have a hard time making the transition – when doing outreach or prospecting or whatever – from “I want to become your friend,” even if that’s authentic to turning that into the sales conversation. Because it seems like you can go too far on one side where you’re just focusing on helping and, although maybe you are able to provide value, now you’re not winning a deal, right? So where does that handoff live for you? And what advice might you have for somebody that struggles getting to the point, so to speak?
Russell: You’re a hundred percent right. And I speak to speaking colleagues of mine that are struggling with this one where they’re having endless coffee conversations [cross-talk 23:39].
Taylorr: Virtual coffees.
Russell: And they go, “Well, that was great. We should catch up again.” And they’re like, “But I didn’t get to sell or talk about the thing that I want to talk about.” Right? And so you have to come into these conversations with intent, right? There needs to be intent, and if there’s no intent, then either they’re confused about why we’re having a conversation or they think it’s a friendly catchup.
So the things I like to get out of, um – well, I call it a prospect ride, but let’s say “these friends” that we were about to help – even if they are, you know, even if they’re your best friends, right? You know, this is, this is the problem with selling to family, right? So you don’t know why you’re in the conversation because these steps haven’t been done. So the steps with getting intent are (1) “What is the gap?” And by – their answers to get, not questions to ask, necessarily. What is the gap? So if you know where they are, where they want to be, and what is the gap, you’ve got three elements there. Okay? So that’s number one. I need to know what the gap is.
Number two, they have to know that there is a problem to solve. In other words, they need to say, “This is a problem that I want to solve.” You can’t tell them. There’s all these people telling, like – they go, “Oh, these people need what I’ve got, and these people need what I’ve got.” It doesn’t matter what they need. It’s what they want, right? That’s when they’re going to buy. If you’re – if they’re already a customer and you’ve got that trust, you can start talking about the things that they need. But I always say – I don’t know if your audience is going to like this one – but I always say, “Get ‘em on the pointy end and then infect them like a virus.” So yeah, you can hold them long term.
But the third one is “Is this a priority?” because you go, “Yeah, look, this is a problem. We’re losing staff, whatever it might be. We just want them to have some way of engaging them again.” “All right. Cool. Well, is this something that you, uh, you know, want to do now, or sometime in the future?” “I want to do it soon, but probably like, um, you know, 12 months or something – definitely in the next 12 months, I want to do something.” Often you can come in too early to a conversation and it’s not ready to have that conversation. And so what I would suggest doing is if they do have a big window – even if it’s three months. “Well, in three months, three months time, I’ll definitely want to start talking about it” – go, “All right, well, in two months time, let’s book in a meeting where we can have that conversation.”
And that in itself is key, like, never leave – if there’s, if there still is intent – never leave a meeting without another meeting. And if you’ve made a proposal – and I’m just going to put this through. You haven’t even asked this question, but I wanna make sure you guys, that everyone who’s listening and watching gets this – is if you’ve, if someone’s asked for proposal and they have to have the proposal, you can’t just do the deal there: Please, please, please, please, please do not send a cold proposal. You’ve got to be there with the proposal and walking them through it because otherwise what you’re doing is having a binary decision made without you. They look at it, they decide whether they like it or not, and then they either ghost you because they don’t want to tell you “no” or you get the “no” and you don’t have the opportunity to do that collaboration again. So, if you’re taking a proposal with someone, be there with them, even if it’s on Zoom or whatever it might be and walk through the proposal so you can actually get indicative “yes”s the entire way through.
Taylorr: That’s crucial.
Austin: Yeah, agreed.
Taylorr: So one of the, one of the – we’ve been focusing, you know, on the sales process, talking about the close, you know, getting people to say yes, more easily, right? And we’re here really to also chat about like attracting better clients. This is a big pain point in our industry. I don’t know how many people will just take whatever they can get, and honestly, there’s a point in time where you need to do that, right? Like if that’s the difference between putting food on the table and not, obviously take what you can get. But we gotta be proactive in finding our ideal clients and, you know, the phrasing of “attracting better clients” is kind of interesting to me because it doesn’t have this, this push… sound to it. You know, you actually want to pull those people in to be attracted to you. So I guess I have two questions in this lane, but what does it mean to like actually attract? And then what does it mean to find better clients and how can we make some progress into actually isolating our, our ideal clients?
Russell: Yeah, absolutely. So, if you haven’t created a criteria with what makes a good client and what doesn’t, then I would suggest – it’s literally a list you need to write. And this is not about, like, the type of client, but it could be just simple stuff like – and everyone wants a client that’s going to pay on time – but maybe you’re a person who is able to be flexible with thing. Make sure it’s right for you. Does this person meet your type of criteria? Do you like working with this person? And I say “person” because it could be a big organization, but there is a person you’re dealing with, you know? Can they afford what you’ve got, right? Can you help them?
These are quite simple criteria, but you need to have these criteria in place because they’re… I’m going to say “younger speakers.” That doesn’t mean that they’re “age young,” but it just means “experienced young.” Younger speakers will, will go after every opportunity because it meets the methodology, which is speaking. And so they haven’t considered, “Is this going to help this person? Is what I’m about to do going to help not only the people in the audience but the person who’s running the event?”
And that’s a big one that people miss early, which is that “I have a message and I have to share it with this audience.” Well, that’s fine. Go and put on a public event and that could be your event, but if someone’s going to pay you to be at an event, they have a set of criteria that makes you a worthwhile proposition for their audience. So while the message still needs to align to the end user, you need to be able to help them. And so being very, very, very clear about what problems you solve better than other people becomes part of that thing. And then starting to get more in your line around that. So, yes, you’ve got your expertise, right? That’s going to niche you down a little bit. Yes, there are certain problems that you solve. So if you’re an entertaining speaker, if you’re funny, if you’re a – I don’t know – a singer, dancer, triple threat, you know – then, you are going to be the, the “after lunch speaker.” You can actually own that slot because you’re bringing people back up.
If you’re an incredible motivational storyteller, maybe you’re either opening or closing out an event. But knowing where you place in that means that, you know who you’re going to be able to help the most, whether it be event coordinators, whether it be corporate businesses, whether it be sales managers, whether it be marketing managers, whether it be, SMA business owners, all sorts of different –
So you’ve got to be very, very clear about what you do well. When I started back in my marketing career, like 25 years ago, we were very good at advertising the company I was working with, and we worked with this professional services company that was, like, doing accounting and bookkeeping and stuff like that. And we would advertise out there what they wanted us to say, which was that they were “the most professional.” If you came in and worked with us, you’d get the most professional experience, the most qualified people, and it would be fantastic. And our advertising worked and then people came and shocked with that client.
But what I noticed is that we were doing these campaigns regularly for this client and they were having to keep doing the campaign because the new clients weren’t sticking. I’m like, “What’s going on?” And so I called them up during one of those campaigns, and I actually got a trainee on her first week who dropped the phone, yelled at someone in the background, picked up the phone was like, “I’m sorry, what?”
And that whole professionalism that we’ve just been advertising just blew up in my face. And then I realized, “Uh… Not only do you need to say things that are going to attract a client to work with you, but you need to do stuff – you need to use the strengths of what you’ve got, not try and make up for the weaknesses. And by doing that, not only do you get to a client once, but you get a client again and again and again, because you’ve kept the promise. You’ve kept the trust.
So creating ideal clients is one about, all right, do they make my career criteria of being a good client? So, for instance, with me, I love working with passionate business people whereas a lot of my colleagues can’t handle that because, you know, those people can get angry and frustrated and, you know, sometimes throw things. I love the passion in that, and so I’m like kind of like the “dark” to their “light,” but you need to know where you play. So if you know those criteria, the type of clients that you want to work with, then where you’re going to be best served. So you narrow the focus and go, “Right. That’s the – that’s the area I’m going to play in.” You know, your area of expertise. It actually reduces the amount of people, and less is more in this scenario because you’ve only got so much energy. It’s the energy that – that’s what business is. The energy you spent in the past, which is the resources and team and money you’ve got now, and the energy in the future, which is the time you’ve all got.
And everyone’s got the same 24 hours in a day, so you want to focus that energy down to be “Who would – who is the perfect people for me to work with, that I can really, really help?” Once you’re very clear on that, it reduces – it doesn’t reduce the amount of energy. Hopefully it’s still, you know, you’re still going at it, but it creates much more effective activity, and therefore, by – there’s a phrase in the marketing game, which is called the “dog whistle.” And a “dog whistle,” which you guys probably know, which is, is about using copy that calls out to a very specific audience and actually pushes away those people who are not right for you. If you know what your “dog whistle” copy is – so let’s say, you know, “If you’re a passionate business owner who is sick of taking three steps forward and three steps back, then you’re going to want to watch this video,” that’s a “dog whistle” leading into that copy. So you can start to really narrow in on who you want to look at your messages, which is going to get a larger portion of those people watching what you’ve got and therefore understanding who you are.
Austin: I like that. One of the things that stood out to me there is, like, owning sort of your “authentic voice.” I think there’s a lot of people that struggle with this sort of dichotomy between “what I would say” and “what my client wants me to say.” And I think that there is sort of a juncture somewhere there, right? ‘Cause we have to be able to meet people where they’re at and communicate with them in language that they understand. But, like your story with this accounting firm, right? The experience that they have in terms of how you’re advertising, let’s say, or marketing yourself has to match the person and the expert that you actually are in the real world. And if there’s ever a misalignment there, it can be jarring. So where’s, where’s that line for you, would you say, between being authentic but yet also using words that will help people understand your value, even if they might not be the words that you would normally use, if that question makes sense?
Russell: Yeah, I – I’ve transitioned a lot over the years to a point where I’m just like, you just need to be you and remove the jargon, alright? That’s, that’s a step you can do. Like if I’m in marketing, I’m not talking about “flesh metrics” and I’m not talking about a really simple syndication and I’m not talking about a ROAS and all this sort of stuff that I could be talking about, you know? I’m having language that people can understand, but at the same time, if you try to, to brand yourself as something you’re not or pretend to be something you’re not, you’re going to be just really, really unhappy. And I’ve got to give you the tiniest version of this story.
I ran a marketing company for 15 years and, one day, I wake up. It’s 1:00 AM. I’m staring at the ceiling, wondering how I got where I’m at, where I am. And, I can hear down the hall a little girl screaming for her mother, and I’m like, “That’s not one of my girls.” And it wasn’t. It was a 90-year-old woman who was screaming, crying, and in pain, and she was in hospital, which is where I was. And I’m thinking to myself, “How did I get here?” And I don’t mean “in hospital” ‘cause you know, I was 38 at the time when I came in. And they go, “You’re young and fit and healthy. There’s no problem. You should go home.” Seven days later, I come in in a critical condition.
But the “How I got here” was that I’d never actually had time over the last 10 years to sit and lie and do nothing, which is what I ended up doing in that hospital bed for two weeks, and to think about where I am. And I realized, in that time, how unhappy I was because, when I was 25 years old, I’m like, “I have to do something with my life.” And so I just grabbed the closest thing to me, which was the Australian dream – which is very, very much like the American dream, just minus the picket fence. But it meant within two years, I had married my high school sweetheart, I’d bought my first house with a baby on the way, and I had started my business.
And then for the next 10 years I ground, and I got up at a rise-and-grind, and I did all the things that I needed to do. And then to find myself in a hospital bed, actually taking a tiny break to think and go, “I don’t like what I’ve created.” And the reason was because I put this mask on. I’d put this mask on of “appropriate and professional and the successful business owner,” and everyone was telling me that I was such a success because of the awards we’d won, the team I’d built – all these different things. But I’m lying there – I’m like, “This is not success.”
And so, for the next five years, I actually went about taking that mask off, which was painful but doable. And I am now more “me” than I’ve ever been, and more opportunity comes because I don’t pretend to be anything that I’m not. And I have a business that I love working with people that I love doing work that I love. And, even here in lockdown that – we were in Melbourne Australia – I can’t leave the house. Yet, I’m able to do what I love from here because people get it and they see the value of it. So my advice to anybody – you’ll probably find out at some point in your life – but there’s no point pretending to be something you’re not or trying to turn yourself into something that you’re not. Be yourself, amplify that, and you’ll have a business that you love.
Taylorr: That is the sauce to attracting better clients, you guys. Like, it is nothing more than that: Being true to who you are, knowing who you can help, finding those right relationships, that alignment. I mean… yeah. Your experiences are a testament to your expertise, Russell, so thank you so much for coming on today and sharing your story and helping us just be… be better at attracting the right clients. It’s been tremendously valuable. As you know, too, we’re all about creating value for our audience, so what are some of the things you’re working on right now that our listeners can benefit from?
Russell: Okay. Yeah, I’m working on something really fun, actually, at the moment. It’s called “Your Next 60K” and it’s about generating your next $60,000 of income, and so, for some people, that might be they’re going from $60,000 as a speaker and they want to get to $120,000 so that they’ve got a lifestyle that they start enjoying living the day. They could have a business that’s going like $180,000; they want to get to $240,000. Anyone up to about $500,000, it’s going to be really, really helpful for, and it’s going to help with some of those things that we talked about, which is to get consistent leads, get consistent sales that’s comfortable, confident sales process, and at the end of the day, just get clarity into where you’re going. So that’s the “Next 60K,” and if you want to get in contact with me, just look me up: Russell with two L’s – which is the way it should be spelled – on LinkedIn.
Taylorr: Wow. I need to start using that for my name: “Taylorr with two Rs, which is the way it should be spelled.”
Austin: Said no one ever.
Taylorr: Well, those will be in the show notes, everybody. We’ll be sure to include a link so you can connect directly with Russell, and, hey – if you liked this episode, don’t forget to rate it, subscribe to it. And if you want more awesome resources like this, go to speakerflow.com/resources.