EPISODE 36 — Ryan Deiss — Truth Over Tactics: Marketing Strategies That Actually Work
Ryan Deiss is the CEO of DigitalMarketer, one of the largest and most highly regarded authorities in marketing today. He’s not only an expert in what works when it comes to marketing — he’s also a seasoned entrepreneur who took the stairs on his way to success.
In this episode, Ryan shares his powerful insights about what all successful business leaders have in common, and reveals his best wisdom on marketing strategies that ACTUALLY work.
Here’s a taste of what Ryan and Crisp Founder & CEO Michael Mogill cover in this electrifying conversation:
- You’ve got to spend money to make money. The business that is willing to spend the most money to acquire a customer will always win.
- Service over tactics. Tactics come and go, but establishing a brand built around high-quality service is the best marketing strategy a business can have.
- Be in it for the journey. Marketing should never drop off after passing a lead to sales; marketing’s job is to own the entirety of the customer journey.
3:23 – Where it all began. “The very first website that I ever built was an ebook on how to make your own baby food. I charged 14 bucks, and it made a few hundred dollars in the first month I was selling. I was like, ‘This is kind of what I want to do,’ and a few years later, that’s what I was doing. I graduated from college, had about 100 of these little websites, and next thing you know, people started asking me how I was doing it. That’s kind of how I got into talking about marketing. It was definitely a circuitous route to where we are today.”
8:40 – A napkin and a dream. “There was a stack of napkins sitting there on the bar. I just looked at it and said, ‘Okay, if I can’t write how my business works and makes money on a napkin, then I’m just going to go to bed, wake up in the morning, and ask for my old job back and probably declare bankruptcy.’ That was basically my plan. If I can, then I’m going to work this plan until I’m completely out of money, and that’s that. So I borrowed a pen from the bartender and scribbled a very simple sales funnel on a napkin, and I said, ‘You know what? I should just do this.’ I jokingly call it my million dollar napkin because that was the first year that I went on to generate a million dollars in revenue.”
11:10 – Hacks and tricks are not marketing solutions. “At the end of the day, the only thing that matters is this: who is the person who’s able and willing to spend the most to gain a customer? That is what marketing comes down to, ultimately. Marketers like to brag about their conversion rates. Screw your conversion rates. They like to brag about their ROI. They like to brag about the cheapest clicks. Don’t brag about that. Brag about how much you’re able to spend to acquire a customer because you’ve engineered your business in such a way that that customer is worth more. I’m more impressed with the people that are able to spend more than me — not the people that are able to figure out some trick or hack to spend less.”
15:34 – Marketing is like marriage. “People think that their marketing is done because they got the lead. No it isn’t. From a marriage perspective, that’s like saying you’re done dating just because you’re now married. I’ve been happily married for almost 20 years. If I just was like, ‘Yeah, honey. We’re married now, so I’m not going to take you out to dinner,’ that would not be good. But people do that to their clients and prospects all the time and wonder why they don’t ascend. So that’s where, from a marketing perspective, you need to focus. A click costs what a click costs. Focus on ascending that traffic into prospects, and then by all means focus on getting those clients into becoming bigger and better clients and referring clients.”
25:26 – Good versus great marketing. “Great marketing must get people to not just notice, but to stare. I think today it is easier than ever to get somebody to glance your way. You could do something ridiculous and kind of out there, and people will glance. It’s like if you’ve ever been at a stoplight and somebody honks their horn, you know people are going to turn around. You’re going to get a glance, but to get somebody to stare at a hold attention — that’s a different animal. Great marketing doesn’t merely get a glance. Great marketing gets a stare, and the way that you do that is to let people know that you’re talking just to them.”
27:27 – It’s all about the story you tell. “You can spout a bunch of data at people, but if there isn’t a story to go along with it, then they’re not going to retain the greater message. We don’t just remember a random sequence of facts and numbers. It’s the narrative that captures and holds the attention. You’ve got to sometimes be a little bit outrageous to get the glance, and if you don’t tell them a story pretty quickly, they’re going to look away.”
31:27 – What makes an entrepreneur unsuccessful? “As long as an entrepreneur is still in the fight, then to me, they’re successful. It just hasn’t happened yet. It hasn’t clicked yet, but it’s only a matter of time. It’s a matter of reps. It’s a matter of sets. They’re going to get there. The ones that I see that I would define as unsuccessful entrepreneurs are the ones that just never do anything because they’re so afraid of failure, or the ones that just are so unbelievably selfish. Interestingly enough, the seeds of both of those are selfishness just manifesting in two very different ways.”
38:16 – Finding balance. “Having somebody in your life who can call you on your own BS is really important. Especially as business leaders, we’re surrounded by people who just nod their heads and say yes. We’re surrounded by people who very often are aligned. If it’s your company and you’ve got junior partners, they’re going to want to go, go, go because they’re not yet where you are, and they want to be where you are. So, you’re getting this kind of upward push from the people on your team, and in inverse. You just have to have open conversations and acknowledge that there is some conflict — and you’re not going to get it right all the time. I still don’t. Balance looks like a whole lot of whipsaw back and forth, but the average is somewhere in the middle. What makes it special is we play at the edges. We’re not afraid to dance on the skinny branches, but you can’t stay on the skinny branches the whole time.”
40:22 – How do you define success? “For me, success is all about optionality. It’s all about maintaining keeping your options open, being able to have the option to decide who and what I am going to be committed to. It’s not a life devoid of commitments, not a life devoid of obligations — that sounds kind of miserable. But it’s that I get to choose what I’m going to be enslaved to.”
44:42 – What does being a game changer mean to you? “It’s about playing by your own rules. So many of us don’t like the game that we’re playing, and we don’t realize we can opt out of that game. You can completely create a new game that you can win. I think so often we accept the rules. We accept the game that other people in that life have given us. I think if there’s one thing that entrepreneurs do, whether you’re an entrepreneurial programmer and you write software or you’re an entrepreneurial attorney, is we make up our own rules. We don’t accept the default settings that others place in our lives. I think that’s what it means to be a game changer.”
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