Derek Halpern, Founder, Social Triggers
SOCIAL TRIGGER-HAPPY: 4 STEPS TO SALES MASTERY WITH DEREK HALPERN
Forget social media. When it comes to marketing techniques, newer isn’t always better, according to marketing wunderkind Derek Halpern.
You just started your blog. And now you’re ready to set the fiber-optic cables on fire with your wisdom and start raking in sales. In doing so, most likely you’ll be staring into a blue glowing screen until the early hours, cobbling together posts that your growing list of readers will find both valuable and compelling.
Starting from scratch, how do you build an audience and debut a digital product? What’s more, how can you convince people to buy it? Among the several schools of thought, the predominant is you could just let the product to speak for itself, provided it’s good enough. Or, as some of the more savvy marketers have found, you could get just better at selling.
The soft sell is out, and according to expert marketer Derek Halpern from New York, the hard sell is back. In a world of new fandangled sales techniques and buzz jargon, Halpern demonstrates that an adherence to the time-honored traditional sales process with a psychological spin is enough to cut through the noise to reach the modern-day consumer.
There’s been a rise in the number of books on the forces affecting buyer behavior, including Adam Alter’s seminal Drunk Tank Pink. Yet the motivating factors behind buyer behavior still, for many, remains elusive. Why do some people buy and not others? What are the triggers that will get someone to purchase your product over someone else’s?
Derek Halpern is founder of Social Triggers, a blog and podcast about effective internet marketing strategy. There since 2011, he has provided information on marketing to 140,000 subscribers. What’s more, the Social Trigger’s podcast recently hit #1 in the business section on iTunes, beating the likes of the Harvard Business Review, and the Wall Street Journal.
Before founding Social Triggers, Derek Halpern created numerous entertainment-based celebrity gossip websites, some more successful than others. ‘Unsuccessful’ is clearly in the eye of the beholder, as visitors to these sites still ranked in the millions. In February 2007 alone, one of his blogs received several million visitors in one month and earned him $23,000 in blog advertising. If you’re interested in building traffic, this is a man worth listening to.
Derek Halpern was studying a degree in English and psychology at the State University of New York in Albany when he identified psychological sales triggers as a perfect way to swoop in and disrupt the competition around internet marketing. Sales people have long been enlisting the help of psychology to untangle the intricacies of buyer motivation. Like his forebears Brian Tracy and Joe Sugarman who have blazed a trail into the psychology of selling, Derek Halpern is not a psychologist. Yet his approach depends on understanding the psychological principles driving human behavior.
Derek Halpern speaks with the gusto and passionate conviction of a Baptist preacher. And listening to him, there are times when a pitch on sales techniques takes on the rhythms and volumes of a sermon, complete with illustrative anecdotes and pregnant pauses. There’s probably something to be said here about how sales gurus are perhaps the occupants of the modern pulpit, addressing our needs and pointing, not to religion, but a product solution that lies embedded firmly within our consumerist ideology. It’s no wonder Halpern’s advice on increasing conversion rates has been featured on Huffington Post, Fast Company, CreativeLIVE, and entrepreneur.com.
He’s loud and he’s a fast-talker. On the Social Triggers blog, Halpern himself confesses to being: “loud, quirky, arrogant, and sometimes even border-line obnoxious, and [a] larger than life personality.” Think of a young, pre-quaalude Jordan Belfort. And it’s easy to see how a personality like Halpern’s would gain traction convincing people to do something. Really, Halpern could sell ice to Eskimos. With that in mind, read on at your own risk.
Halpern is a firm believer in the hard sell. “Nothing sells itself if you don’t ask for the sale,” he says. A salesman of the old school variety, on the Social Triggers website he states: “I believe smart entrepreneurs and executives who want to win in today’s overcrowded marketplace MUST become master marketers, persuaders, and salesmen.” You might think that flies in the face of the current approach to marketing where, in a global society driven by endless purchases, surely the better products will become the most widely known. Yet for Halpern, the hard sell is more than effective. However, he reminds us, driving sales is not just a matter of having the right personality.
STEP 1: GETTING THE RIGHT PEOPLE
“If you want people to buy what you’re selling, you’ve got to make sure you’re getting the right people to begin with,” he says. And this is what Halpern’s central thesis comes down to: Find the right people. Build an audience. Get your product in front of them. Finding the right audience is the key step the rest hangs on. You could equate this with making sure your compass is pointed at true north.
And not all audiences are created equal. In regard to his early efforts at celebrity gossip sites, selling a product was an exercise in futility, because “people reading your stuff because you’re making fun of somebody else… aren’t there for product recommendations.” Alternatively, “if you start giving people advice that helps them, they’re going to be coming to your blog because they want to get better and guess what: people will pay to get better.”
In the classic film Field of Dreams, Kevin Costner was told if you build it, they will come. That’s not necessarily the case in the world of internet marketing, Halpern argues. “Maybe you want to reach web designers,” he says. Your task? Get active. “Find out where web designers hang out. Figure out how to get this into their hands.” It’s a matter of strategic targeting.
STEP 2: GETTING THE RIGHT CONTENT
Once you’ve nailed down your audience, there are a number of key obstacles to overcome before sales can be made. Most crucial is creating content your audience wants to read, keeping them interested, and making buying “a natural progression.”
When it comes to content, Halpern subscribes to the 80-20 rule. That’s 20% time spent on creation and 80% time spent on promotion. “You could write the next great American novel and put it on your blog – how are they going to know it’s there, if nobody’s visiting?” Halpern makes it clear that you need to “create a piece of great content”, but once you have done so, “you’ve got to take that content and get it into the hands of more people.” In short, promote the hell out of it. So how frequently should you post? “When I first started Social Triggers, I averaged about 2.5 blog posts per month,” he says. The marketer claims the best approach is to “look at content like product. You don’t want to keep creating more and more products as a way to get more visitors. You want to create one product that gets a million customers.” Your next concern? Building a dedicated audience database.
STEP 3: GETTING THE RIGHT AMOUNT OF SOCIAL MEDIA (WHICH ISN’T MUCH)
And social media won’t get you there. “I hate social media,” Halpern states. “I hate it because it doesn’t drive results. Facebook pages, Twitter pages, whatever – these are platforms, where you can build your audience, that you don’t currently have access to. Facebook can change their algorithm and make your reach go from 20% to 2% overnight. And they did. It’s their platform.” According to Halpern, social media is out and email is in. “When you’re building an email list, you own that database of names. If your email service provider screws you, you could take your email list and put it somewhere else. It also converts better. If I send an email out to 40,000 people, it won’t be uncommon for me to send 4,000 clicks to a website. If I update my Twitter profile with a link to 40,000 people, I might get 20 hits.”
STEP 4: GETTING THE RIGHT EMAIL LIST
Moving away from social media, before you set your sights on scoring hoards of customers, your safest move is to work on building that email list. And the best way to do that? “By being aggressive about it,” Halpern says. “You can’t just bury an opt-in form at the bottom of your page and expect people to find it. When people come to your site and they’re focused on reading your content, they’re not looking for anything else, which is how they miss your email sign-up form. So if you want people to get on your email list, make sure you’re asking them to sign-up, in all different types of ways.”
Halpern also maintains that when it comes to growing your email list through your site, a little patience and a lot of consistency go a long way. “Always try to promote the growth of your email list, and you will find that it will grow,” he says.
“Once you get people on the email list, that’s when you can focus on turning these people into customers, because you’ve got their name.” However, it’s not just a matter of repeatedly hammering emails at your subscribers, trying to beat them into submission. “I don’t believe you should do that,” Halpern says. That will instantly impede your list growth before you can say ‘unsubscribe.’ When someone has signed up to your email list, Halpern advises, “at that point give them some value; build up that unique value proposition; build up some of that reciprocity.” Once that trust is in place, then and only then can you “ask them to buy your stuff.”
THE SALES PROCESS: A 5 MINUTE REFRESHER
Derek Halpern leads a quick crash course on the essential elements to effective online sales that you can start implementing today.
1.ATTRACT THE RIGHT PEOPLE. This is the most important part of all of this. If you’re not attracting the people who want whatever it is you’re selling, you’re only wasting time.
2.SHOW THEM WHY THEY SHOULD BUY FROM YOU. Nail down ‘your unique selling proposition’ – the thing that makes you, uniquely you, and different from everybody else.
3.ASK PEOPLE TO BUY. This is very rare in the start-up space. However, regardless of the quality of your product, nothing sells itself if you don’t ask for the sale. Ask people to commit.
- How to master sales
- Next level Conversion strategies
- Creating sales funnels
- Content strategies
- The buying process and the psychology behind it
Full Transcript of Podcast with Derek Halpern
Nathan: Hey, guys. Welcome to the Foundr Podcast, my name is Nathan Chan, and I am your host speaking with you from Melbourne, Australia. It’s really nice and sunny over here, so I’m really enjoying the sunny weather. I’ve been really, even date with emails at the moment, it’s pretty crazy. I’m working a lot of things and I’m running this feedback loop, and I’m hearing from so many of you guys and it’s awesome. It’s a quality problem to have because I’m finding out, you know, what you guys are struggling with, where we can further help you, and we’re gonna be launching a whole ton more of products, and we’re working on a whole ton of other projects, and I’ve just been, yeah, I just really have a lot on my plate, but it’s awesome, I, too, love to hear from you. I write back to every single email, I’m here to help.
So please do send me an email. You know I’d love to hear from you. My email is [email protected] About today’s guest, his name is Derek Halpern, and he’s the founder of Social Triggers. It’s a very, very well-known site in the online marketing, and online entrepreneurial kind of market. Derek is just a psychology conversion marketing guru, and he shares a ton of gold with us around the importance of why you need to build your email list, how to price your products and services. We talk about all sorts of things around, you know, the psychology behind buying and what people buy from you, and the importance of content and why he believes content isn’t king. And one thing that he said to me that really stuck out, was I said to him, “There’s a psychological barrier in my opinion between someone buying a physical product and a digital product.” He disagrees with me and I say, “Why is that?”
And he said, “Well, if there’s plenty of people out there selling a ton of digital products, there’s no reason others can do it, too. So that’s your answer. And that set with me ever since, you know, I did this interview at least 9, 10 months ago, and that’s really set with me ever since because it’s so often that we give ourselves these limiting beliefs and we compare ourselves to others. But at the end of the day, like, you know, if your competitor in your marketplace is doing 10 times better than you, well, there’s no reason you can’t. And yeah, look, I just thought I’d share that with you. So yeah, I’m really excited to bring this episode to you. If you are loving this show, please leave us a five-star review. You can check out the show notes at foundrmag.com, and please check out the magazine. If you are loving these interviews, I’m sure you will enjoy the magazine. Now, let’s jump into the show.
Nathan: Today I’m speaking with Derek Halpern, Derek Halpern is the founder of Social Triggers, a blog that teaches how psychology and neuroscience can improve online marketing efforts. So, Derek, I just wanted to say, thank you for taking the time. Man, I’m a massive fan of your work.
Derek: Hey, thanks for having me. I’m pumped to be here.
Nathan: Awesome. I’m pumped to be speaking with you, man. So, I just wanted to start out with getting a little bit of a rundown on how you got your job, and how did you find yourself doing the work you’re doing today?
Derek: That’s always a very interesting question for one reason, because I got started building online businesses, and specifically content based businesses, back in about 2005. I was still in college, and I was looking for a way to build my own business because I didn’t want to get a job, like a lot of people who were just about to graduate from college. When I first did it, I launched my first website. It was an entertainment site and it was a huge failure. And then, I started to realize something, building a business is what people do when they don’t want to get a job, but they actually work harder than working at a job. That’s like my first realization, right? I went back, went back and launched a brand-new website, another entertainment website, and that website took off. By the time 2006 hit, I finished up my college degree and I was ready to graduate with a blog that was getting enough traffic to make enough ad revenue that I didn’t need to actually work. Once I graduated 2006/2007, I put this blog in a high gear.
By February 2007, that blog had several million people in one month. And I remember I earned like $23,000 in 28 days. Or maybe that was a leap year and it was 29 days, I don’t remember, whatever, it was like over $20,000 in one single month from blog advertising. And that was my first little hints that I could build the web-based business by getting people to visit my website and then trying to get them to do something, whether it’s the click ads, or to buy things. So, that was kind of how I got into it, right? Now, how did I get into social influence in psychology and neuroscience? Which is what I talk about today. Well, I wrote that ad market wave to the top. When I got in, I was making a lot of money on advertising. However, ad rates started to tank. They went from getting, you know, like, $10 per a thousand to 10 cents per a thousand. So the ad rates started to tank and I started thinking, like, “Oh! my God, I’m getting all this traffic, but I’m making 10% of what I was making just a few months ago, what do I do?” That’s when I came in to the idea that, all right, maybe I won’t sell apps. Maybe this time around, I’ll sell products or I’ll get these people who are visiting my site. I’ll try and get them to buy something. I’ll try to turn this from a magazine business into a business that actually sells something.
Now, it didn’t work with the website that I had built at that time because that was an entertainment site. It was a blog, celebrity gossip. I wasn’t selling these people anything. I mean, aside from, like, teeth whitening affiliate programs or something like that. Right. So it was very hard to sell to these people. That’s when I realized I wanted to start writing a blog about something that mattered, not just about making fun of celebrities. I wanted to help people achieve their goals. When I started doing that, I actually launched a self-help blog in 2008. And this self-help blog was all about, you know, it was kind of the things I was interested in. And I wanted to learn how to become better at the things I was doing, and to be more productive, wake up earlier, read more books etc. And I realized that when you build that kind of audience, those people wanna buy things because you’re helping them. Now, I actually killed that self-help blog, and I didn’t launched Social Triggers up until about March 2011, but that’s kind of the genesis of how I got into doing what I’m doing.
Nathan: And that’s really interesting. And there’s a few things I’d like to unpack there, and the first is you said that your entertainment site was…the price of ads by getting paid for were moving people from an ad click, was getting less and less. One thing, one of my friends recently talks about your hysteric is he finds that it’s a lot more lucrative to sell your own products because you cannot always rely on advertisers. So he highly recommends to start selling your own products. Why do you say that, too? In the sense that people are more likely to buy from you.
Derek: Yeah, because you’re getting a different kind of audience. When you’re getting an audience of people who are only reading your stuff because you’re making fun of somebody else, those people aren’t there for product recommendations. Those people are there to make fun of other people, while there’s no transaction that happens when you make fun of other people. So you can’t really sell them anything. However, when you write…when you start running a blog or let’s say you’re a startup, right? And you’re trying to get users for your software, but let’s say you launch a blog for your startup. If you start giving people advice that helps them, they’re going to be coming to your blog because they want to get better. And guess what? People will pay to get better, whether they buy your software or whether they buy information product, it doesn’t matter what you’re selling. It’s a different type of mindset.
Nathan: Mm. I see.
Derek: Does that make sense?
Nathan: Yeah, 100%, so how do you go about selling your products?
Derek: So now, it’s a whole different, I mean, that’s a whole different model. Now that I am in this world of Social Triggers where I’m helping people get more traffic, more users, more people to actually convert and that sort of thing. Now that I have that, I’ve been trying to develop products, specifically information products and software products, that help people do exactly what my blog helps them do for free, but more efficiently without wasting time. So when I eventually do sell a product to my readership, it’s a natural progression. They’re already there to learn about this, here’s a way to get this faster, makes sense?
Nathan: I think.
Derek: Now, of course, there’s like the different, how to actually sell it, and there’s different tactics for doing that, but I’m creating an environment that promotes the idea of selling and buying products.
Nathan: Let’s see. Let’s talk about the psychology around getting someone to buy something…
Nathan: …because that…you teach very well at your blog. Like, one thing that I personally learned from you was, in regards to the colors by having your call to action items a different color that stands out, how do you go about getting people to buy something from you? And the psychology behind it is because you’re a very good marketer.
Derek: Yeah, so let’s just, let’s just crush that myth right now for one second. The color of your button isn’t going to persuade people to buy. And I did do a video about what’s the best color for conversions, and I talked about this idea of action colors versus passive colors. And if you want more people to click a button, then you want that button to be a different color because it stands out from everything else. But that’s not gonna get people to buy. The button color isn’t going to lead to the sale. It starts before that. What do I mean by before that? Well, if you want people to buy what you’re selling, you’ve gotta make sure you’re getting the right people to begin with. Because there is such a thing as the wrong people.
Let me explain. Let’s say you’re a wedding photographer, and you are running a blog and you’re hoping to attract clients as a wedding photographer with your blog, well, what could you write about? Maybe you’ll write about 10 ways to pick an engagement ring. And on the surface, that might make sense, right? Like, if someone’s looking for an engagement ring, chances are they’re going to be getting married soon, right? Unfortunately, the length of time between buying the engagement ring and the marriage is a huge length of time. They might not even remember reading that article on your site by the time they’re ready to hire a wedding photographer. So you’re getting the wrong people, they’re at the wrong stage of the business, in your business cycle. However, let’s say you’re a wedding photographer. Maybe you write an article, like, here’s what I learned about wedding food after shooting more than 100 weddings. Now you have people who are looking for wedding food, which if you’re looking for wedding food or wedding catering, you’re probably right around the same time about considering to hire a wedding photographer as well. Now you’re getting the right people. These people are the people who want to hire you. So is it about the button color? No. It’s about making sure you’re getting the right people first. Another example of getting the right people, is I was speaking at a conference, there’s a few hundred people in the audience and I’m giving my presentation. Someone shot their hand up and they said, “Derek, I’m having a problem converting my readers into buyers. What am I doing wrong?”
And she explained what she was doing. What she ended up doing was, she had an email list, that she was building by giving away an e-book about seven ways to have a happy marriage. That was like the e-book that she was giving away. Here’s the thing, she was a coach. She was a coach that specifically focused on helping people recover after a divorce. If you’re giving away an e-book about helping people have a happy marriage, and you are someone that’s selling something about how to recover from a divorce, do you think those people are going to want to pay you? No, they’re trying to work on their marriage, and that’s okay. You’re trying to help those people. I’m all for helping those people. But if you’re in the business of helping people recover from a divorce, you’re giving away the wrong thing.
And I know this kind of sounds dark, but I told her, point blank, I was like, “You are a coach and helping people to recover from divorce. You could write an e-book about seven ways to find out if your husband is cheating on you.” And I know this is dark, right? But if someone is looking for something about whether or not their husband is cheating on them, chances are a divorce is in the cards, right?
Derek: Now, you’re attracting the right people. Now, again, I know this sounds very dark, and I’m talking about all this weird stuff. I’m just trying to paint this picture that shows you that you can get the wrong people or the right people. You can change the button colors, all you want on the wrong people, it’s never going to increase your sales conversion. Maybe you can eke out a few percentage points with button colors and or whatever, if you’re targeting the right people though. So how do you get people to buy? It starts with attracting the right people first.
Nathan: I see. Can you take us through, like, a short process on how you get people to buy your stuff in terms of a funnel?
Derek: Yeah, so you want to get a little bit more specific, and you want the tactical juice and I totally get that. Now, what goes through people’s heads when they buy something, right? First, they got to want what you’re selling, which is why you want to attract the right people first, right? Then after you attract the right people, there’s a few questions that go on in their head. One question is, should I buy this from you? If you’re attracting the right people, you know they want to buy what you’re selling. But the question is, should they buy it from you or should they buy it from someone else? So when you’re trying to plan this funnel, or this funnel for conversion, when you attract the right people after you get them in the funnel, the next goal is to show them why they should buy from you, and not the other guy. Now, this is very soft. This is not like do this, get a sale. However, this is one of the most important parts of the sales process.
Once you have the right people, they wanna know why they should buy from you. How do you convince them to do that? You’ve got to really nail down what they call your unique selling proposition. The thing that makes you uniquely you and different from everybody else. So to put this in an example, Social Triggers, there’s a lot of people out there who talk about marketing or building business. There’s thousands of people who are doing just that when I started, however, people came to me for one reason. When they got there, I attracted the right people. Now, the next question was why you? Well, why me is because I quote academic research and real-life studies, whereas, other people are talking about opinion and theory. And that was my unique selling proposition, and that’s why people read me. So that’s step two in the sales process, get the right people. Step two is understand what makes you uniquely you, and make sure the people believe it. The third part of the sales process is to ask people to buy what you’re selling. This is very, very, rare in the startup space. For whatever reason, people in the start-up space, like, these hacker news types, they hate marketers, and they hate salesmen, they hate them because they say the product should be so good, it sells itself. Well, I’ve got news for you, nothing sells itself if you don’t ask for the sale. And that’s the third part of the process, is actually asking people to commit, get the right people, show them why you’re so good, show off your product. The third part is ask them to commit right now, and that’s how you can get people to convert.
And when you’re looking at this from a funnel perspective, each one of these processes could be one part of the funnel. Like, people come to your email as a funnel part one, is giving away the free e-book, which is attracting the right people. Part two could be just walking through some of the benefits and some of the reasons why you guys are so great, this could be a second email. The third email could be, “Hey! now you know why we’re so good, why don’t you buy us?” Three-part e-mail funnel done.
Nathan: Love it. I have a question, man, and that’s around the why. When you sell something, do you communicate your why, like, Simon Sinek describes.
Derek: You do, right? There’s the big picture, right? There’s…let me give you an example, my friend Vani runs a website called the Food Babe. And her website it’s all about helping people make the right decisions with their food. Does she communicate her why, which is help people make the right decisions with their food? Of course, she’s going to communicate their why. You want to talk about your why all the time because this is something that helps you recruit more of the right people, right? Maybe you’re not just going to be giving away an e-book, but if you have good why that people can back up, this is going to be a way for you to recruit more people around your why, so your why helps you get the right people in the door. But the next part of it is to make sure you’re actually asking them to buy what you’re selling. So yes, communicating your why can help, but don’t think that communicating your why is the only thing you need to do.
Nathan: That’s awesome, man. You really broke it down nicely, I love that. Let’s talk about email and building your list. I know it’s something that’s really important to you. Why is that?
Derek: Well, because I hate social media, and I don’t hate social media because I’m one of these people who has an irrational hate for it, I hate it because it doesn’t drive results, right? Here’s the bottom line, Facebook, Facebook pages, Twitter pages, whatever. These are platforms where you can build your audience that you don’t currently have access to. Facebook can change their algorithm and make your reach go from, you know, 20% to 2% overnight, and they did. And you’re gonna see you lose out on access to all of your customers. Twitter might do the same, I don’t know if Twitter will do, but they could do it if they wanted to because it’s their platform. However, when you build an email list, you own that database of names. If your email service provider that you use to mail out screws you, you could take your email list and put it somewhere else.
You can’t just take your Facebook fans and turn them into Twitter followers, you’re stuck. With an email list, you’ve got those names, they’re yours. Now, here’s the thing, it also converts better. If I send an email out to 40,000 people, it won’t be uncommon for me to send 4,000 clicks to a website. If I update my Twitter profile with a link to 40,000 people, I might get 20 hits. Actually, just earlier today, I sent out a Twitter link to my 47,000 Twitter followers, and I got 63 clicks on that link. I then sent out an email to a similar number of email subscribers and I had like 6,000 clicks on that link.
Derek: You see, so I build email lists because that’s where people respond. And I always like to say, to get a Twitter account, a Facebook account, you still need an email address, right? You know why? Because even they know the power of email. This is why you have websites like LinkedIn and Twitter, and all these people always emailing you about new stuff that’s happening on their social media because they know that’s where people respond, makes sense?
Nathan: Yeah, 100%. So how do you teach people to build their email list. What’s the good stuff that you would recommend to people to build their email list, like, I know when I go to your site, everywhere you’re asking for people to opt in.
Derek: Yeah. You know why? You know how you build your email list?
Derek: By being aggressive about it. You can’t just bury an opt in form at the bottom of your page and expect people to find it. If you go to socialtriggers.com, right now, you’ll see this big email sign-up box at the top, you’ll see another sign-up box in the sidebar. You’ll also see one at the bottom of the blog. You’ll see a link to free updates in the navigation. You’ll see email forms everywhere, but you wanna know what’s funny? I had someone email me one time, they’re like, “Hey, Derek, I don’t know how to get on your email list.” And I was like, “What! I’ve got forms everywhere.” Now, why is that? Well, in psychology there’s something known as inattention blindness. There’s a whole book written about it called “The Invisible Gorilla.” Long story short, when people visit your site to read content, they’re having tunnel vision on your content. They don’t see anything else but your content because they’re not looking for anything else, they’re looking for your content. And that’s what they found with this “Invisible Gorilla.” They basically ran a research experiment. They told people to count how many times this basketball team would pass the ball, right? While they were counting it, like a minute into the video, some dude in a gorilla suit would, like, walk past the screen, stare at the camera and then walk off the screen. Afterwards, when they asked, “Did you notice anything weird while you were counting those passes?” And about half of those people didn’t even notice the gorilla. Seriously, half the people didn’t see the gorilla. You know why? Because they were focused on counting the passes. So when people come to your site and they’re focused on reading your content, they’re not looking for anything else, which is how they miss your email sign up form. So if you want people to get on your email list, make sure you’re asking them to sign up in all different types of ways.
Have a form at the top of the page, have a form at the bottom of the page. Inside your content, mention the fact that you have an email list or a free e-book and link to it. Always try to promote the growth of your email list, and you will find that it will grow. Once you get people on the email list, that’s when you can focus on turning these people into customers because you’ve got their name. But don’t do it until after you get their name.
Nathan: Yeah, I see. And do you offer something in return, like, an e-book or something like that? What do you like to offer or would recommend that people offer?
Derek: It really just depends on what you’re doing, right? So I have e-books, I sometimes do free webinars, sometimes I’ll give a free video, it just depends. What I find is, it’s not about any one thing that you give away, it’s about changing that one thing regularly. Because when you change that one thing, or you always offer new other things, people who previously wouldn’t subscribe to you are now going to be tipped, and they’re finally gonna subscribe. You see how that works?
Nathan: Yeah, yeah, I see. And when you said once you get them on the email list, that’s how you turn them into customers, how often do you push and get them to buy? You’re not just always getting them to buy, always what’s your theory and method behind that, how much do you give before you ask them to buy?
Derek: Yes, so that all depends again on what you’re trying to sell. It all depends, now I don’t think a lot of people build their email list and they just hit them with pitches, after pitches, after pitches, buy my stuff, buy my stuff, buy my stuff. And you know what? That kind of works. However, I don’t believe you should do that.
Derek: Instead, what I think you should do at this point, is once you get them on the email list, give them some value, build up that unique value preposition, build some of that reciprocity. And then you can ask them just to buy your stuff. What I tend to do is I tend to do about one promotion for a product per month.
Nathan: I see.
Derek: So once you get on my email list, I do about one promotion per month, and I find when you keep it to one promotion a month or one promotion every six weeks, then that’ll give you ample time to build up your list for new people, deliver value, and also make sure that you’re building a business, a real business. Like, with Social Triggers right now, I’ve got employees, I’ve got stuff, I’ve got contractors. Sometimes I have as many as 10 people working on my stuff.
Derek: You obviously need to sell. If you’re trying to build a business, you need revenue. I’m not sitting here trying to raise a million dollars of VC money, I’m trying to build a real scalable, growable business, and to do that, you need to ask people to buy stuff.
Nathan: Mm. And that’s a great point. Let’s switch gears and talk about why you believe content isn’t king. Something I’ve been meaning to ask you…
Nathan: …throughout this interview because right now everybody talks about content’s king. It’s a whole buzz thing and you don’t believe that, can you tell me…
Derek: Well, this is one of the most misquoted things that I’ve ever been misquoted on because I don’t believe that content isn’t king. What I said was content isn’t king in the first 10 seconds of people visiting your website. That’s because when people visit your website before they even read the content, they’re already forming a first impression based on how your site looks, based on what types of triggers are triggering their mind about whether they should trust you, not trust you. And some of the things I cited was, when people stumbled on a site that was very overcrowded with content, too much stuff, people were less likely to trust that website. That’s one example of content isn’t king because when people get there before they even read your headline, they already know if they trust you or not. So content isn’t king in the first few seconds. Afterwards, to keep them around, of course, you need great content. However, you’ve got to first get past that few second hump.
Nathan: Okay, thank you for debunking that. Can you tell us a little bit about your 80:20 rule around blogging and creating content?
Derek: Yes, absolutely. This is a great question, and I’ll tell you why. Because a lot of people now think that content is king. Let me just throw as much great content on my blog as possible, and people will come to read my blog. But I have a question for you. Where are those people going to come from? You can write the next great American novel and put it on your blog. How are they gonna know it’s there if nobody’s currently there? Right? So I always tell people, if you’re gonna start trying to build a blog audience of people who you want, eventually to buy whatever it is you’re selling, you’ve got to create a piece of great content. Then you’ve got to take that content and get into the hands of more people, right? If you have a blog post that gets 1000 visitors, chances are there’s another million people who can benefit from that same blog post, that you can still get to read it.
So you can sit here and create another blog post that gets 1000 visitors, another blog post that gets 1000 visitors, and hope that these 1000 people will share your stuff, and hope that eventually, you’ll grow your audience nice and slowly and eventually maybe Google will start ranking you in search engines, and maybe you’ll finally get the readership you deserve. Or you can take a different approach, you can write that blog post that’s really good, that gets 1000 visitors and start to think, okay, there’s a million other people out there who can get, who can benefit from this content. Who are those people? Maybe those people are health coaches, let me find out where health coaches live, and let me figure out how to get this into the hand of health coaches. Maybe you want to reach web designers. All right, great, let me find out where web designers hang out, and let me try to figure out how to get this into the hands of more web designers. Maybe a massage therapist can benefit from this. Let me find those people and get this into the hands of more massage therapists. I look at content like product. You don’t want to keep creating more and more products as a startup entrepreneur, as a way to get more visitors. You want to create one product that gets a million customers, right? That’s how I look at content. And that’s why I think, once you start creating content, it’s not about your content, it’s about how you promote your content.
Nathan: I see. So on average, how many blog posts do you write a week or a month?
Derek: All right, so for me, that’s a different question. If you’re just getting started and you don’t have an audience, like, I did when I first started Social Triggers, I averaged about 2.5 blog posts per month, about two and a half. Most people say do it twice a week, I did two per month. For me now, I average about one a week, but I’m in a different stage of my business than people who are just getting started. I’ve got more than 140,000 people who subscribe to Social Triggers. I’ve got those people who will help share my stuff with their friends. So I kind of don’t have to promote is hard now because I’ve got over 100,000 people do it for me. However, if you don’t have that big list, if you don’t have that large customer base, you have to do that promotion work, which is why you want to dial down how much content you create and spend more of your time promoting the content you already have.
Nathan: I see. It makes so much sense, and I love it. There’s another question I’ve been dying to ask you, that me and my friend were talking about the other night, and that is, when you buy a digital product, I think, that there’s a psychological barrier or hurdle, me personally, that it can be really hard to overcome as opposed to a physical product. What are your thoughts on that?
Derek: So are you trying to say physical products have different barriers than digital products?
Nathan: Yeah, I think, like, me personally. I always buy things on iTunes because I just know that that’s something that I’m gonna buy, but I think when you look at your average customer or your average person, if you could look at a physical product versus a digital product, I think that there’s some sort of hurdle that you as the seller have to face when you’re trying to sell a digital product over physical product, I think it’s hard…
Derek: Maybe, maybe. I think if you believe it, it’s true. I think if you don’t believe it, it’s not true. Of course, there are different barriers to entry with physical products and digital products. But the bottom line is, if you’re getting the right people to your website, it doesn’t matter whether it’s digital or tangible. It’s the right person, they wanna buy it. So I would ask people who are thinking that, “Oh! Online market is not gonna work for me because I have a physical product.” You’re lying to yourself. The bottom line is there’s plenty of people who sell physical products online, and they’re succeeding. So you can sit here and think, “Oh! My life is so hard, I can’t do this.” Or you can say, “You know what? There are people who are doing this, let me go figure out how they’re doing it.” So I don’t like to say that there’s a difference in trying to sell because I don’t think there’s a difference. Instead, it’s just about how you approach it. And then, once you approach it, you attract the right people, it’s not gonna be that hard to sell at all.
Nathan: So, it’s all about finding the right people to…
Nathan: I see. I’m also curious about the way you instigate controversy on purpose. Can you tell me about that?
Derek: I don’t necessarily do it on purpose.
Derek: Like, I’m not sitting here trying to be this guy that just disagrees with everybody, I don’t try to do that. It just so happens though there’s a lot of garbage that’s being proliferated in the marketplace right now, and it’s wrong. And I feel it’s my duty as someone who helps teach business owners and entrepreneurs build businesses, it’s my duty to try and correct these wrongs so that other people don’t waste time and make mistakes in doing all this stuff that doesn’t matter. So it’s not like I’m trying to be controversial for the sake of being controversial.
Derek: I do it because I believe it. And I would never do it if I didn’t believe it. Does that make sense?
Nathan: Yeah, yeah, it makes total sense. But just some, like, I guess, sometimes things get…you spark things up or bring a different opinion to the table and people get enraged by it, and then it brings more traffic to your site. I wasn’t sure if that was something that you did strategically.
Derek: Oh, sometimes I do. I mean, sometimes I’ll be strategic about it. You have to, right? Sometimes you know a good controversy is great for traffic and it’s something that I have used before on purpose, but I didn’t do it on purpose because I wanted to start a fight. I did it on purpose with a bigger mission, to help educate these people, knowing that it was gonna…a fight was going to ensue because what I was saying was disagreeing with everybody else. But it’s not…it’s never really controversy for the sake of controversy, it’s controversy for the sake of finding people who want to know the right way of doing things.
Nathan: Okay, interesting. Pricing your products and services. What would you recommend to people when they’re first starting out, how to work out, how to price things?
Derek: Yes, I mean, there’s a lot that goes into pricing, and this is hard to give people of like a fit-all solution. I can’t do that. But what I can do is, I can say that you’ve got to look at what you’re selling. You wanna look at what the market is paying for that, right? And then make a strategic decision based on your market. Now, let me just give an example, I asked a friend of mine, he had a really good haircut. I was like, “Man, you have a really nice haircut, where did you get it?” And he just looked at me, he goes, “Look, I got to be honest with you, this is a nice haircut, but, you know, it’s not cheap.” And I’m like, “Really, it’s not cheap. Tell me about it, what is, it’s not cheap.” I’m sitting here thinking of myself like, “Oh, I just moved to New York City, you know, I spent $40 on a haircut, now I used to spend $10. Now I spend $40. What is this?” I’m thinking in my head like $60, $70, he goes, ” It’s not cheap. It’s 310 bucks.” I’m like, I was like, “For a guy’s haircut? $310, are you crazy?”
Derek: So naturally, I called up and I made an appointment immediately. I wanted to know, how can a guy charge $310 for a man’s haircut, when everyone else is charging 40 or 15 or 10 bucks.
Nathan: Yeah, that’s hilarious.
Derek: Right? It turns out that I went, I had the best haircut of my life, it’s totally worth it. So if that guy when he was setting his prices looked at what other people were charging, he would have charged 10, 20 or 40 bucks, but he didn’t do that. He knew he was the world’s best. He didn’t look at his competition. He just looked at, this is my haircut, this is what it’s worth, that’s what I wanna charge. So yes, you wanna look at your competitors to see what other people are paying. But that doesn’t mean that they’re paying for the same thing that you’re selling. You see what I’m saying?
Nathan: Yeah, yeah, gotcha.
Derek: So if you’re a web designer and you do world class work, you can’t look at someone who charges a 1000 of web design, you got to look at people who do world class work and see what they charge. You don’t want to just compare yourself to anyone, compare yourself to the right people. Then more important, you will also want to price what you’re selling about what it’s worth. Like, what is it worth to your customer? How much money do they save? How much time will they save? How much money will they make? How do you improve their life? Why is your product even in existence? What are you trying to help people do? The effect of that product. How does that impact their life, and what is that worth? That’s how you sell products and pick a price.
Nathan: Awesome, it gives people a lot to think about, so thank you. Look, we have to work towards wrapping things up, Derek. I just wanted to know if you have any final words or is there any questions that you wanted me to ask you that I haven’t asked you, that you’d like to share, in wrapping this one up?
Derek: To be honest with you, I think we covered a lot on this call. We talked about marketing, we talked about selling, we talked about pricing, we talked about promoting, we talked about content marketing, we covered so much. I don’t think there’s anything left to say other than if they were listening to this audio, I hope you got at least one idea that’s gonna allow you to continuously build your startup today, tomorrow, and for the future. And that’s about it.
Nathan: Awesome. Oh, man, it’s been an absolute blast speaking with you. You’ve given me so much value, and this is killer, man, so thank you, dude.
Derek: Thank you for having me. It was fun.