Using Identity to Sell

It’s been awhile since I’ve written anything, especially about BD/sales, but I’m going to start writing about things I’m learning and am being reminded of again more regularly .

One of the most interesting drivers for the people we try to sell and market to is identity. Specifically what type of person does the person you’re trying to influence say they are?

Example identities:

I’m a numbers driven executive.

I’m a doer.

I’m an early adopter of new tech that’s going to give me an edge.

Most people want to remain consistent with the identity they claim for themselves…especially when they declare it amongst their peers.

Smart marketers and sales people use this to their advantage when they communicate by linking the desired action they want their audience to take to the identity of the individual.

I was recently at a Tony Robbins event where he shared a story that demonstrates this beautifully.

How Tony Turned A Guy Using Identity

Tony initially made a splash by going on radio shows and declaring that he could cure any  person’s phobia in less than an hour.

When he started doing this a well known psychiatrist heard this claim and publicly refuted the notion that a 24 year old kid could cure phobias with such speed. His methodologies lacked proper research and science!

In response, Tony sought out this psychiatrist and asked to take on his most challenging patient to make good on his claim.

The psychiatrist rebuffed his request by saying,“No way, and that as a professional he wouldn’t dare entertain this idea.”

Tony’s response:

“You consider yourself a scientist right?”


“Well don’t Scientists usually like to test their hypothesis before making claims?”

Upon hearing this statement the psychiatrist changed his mind and agreed to bring his patient with a terrible snake phobia to Tony. Robbins ended up curing the person in less than 15 minutes..and by the end of night he had wrapped a snake around her head.

In this example, Tony used questions to highlight that there was an incongruence between the response and expected behavior given the identity of the person he was trying to get buy in from,

As a result, he was able to turn him and ultimately get the outcome he wanted.

Take a moment and think about common objections you often get. Does the buyer identify themselves as the type of person who should be interested in this? This might be an opportunity to exorcise identity selling.

Alluding to Identity in Sales Copy

Another instance where you can leverage identity to cajole action is copywriting.

I run these workouts here in New York called Peak State. They’re the most inspiring and motivational workouts for ambitious people who realize winning in anything starts on the inside.

I want everyone who puts themselves in the conscious, high achiever bucket to come try one out…and the first step in my funnel is getting them to join my mailing list.

I’ve tested 3 different headlines on my homepage:

H1: Live Everyday, Shout Out Of A Cannon

H2: The Most Motivating Workout In NYC

H3: The Most Motivating Workout For High Achievers

Guess which one had the highest clickthrough or conversion event of the 3?

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The one that integrates identity by 1.7x! – The Most Motivating Workout For High Achievers

The idea is to use copy that makes it easy for people to say “Yeah that’s me” and connect that to your content or sites’ business goal.

Another great example of this I’ve seen plastered all over New York on taxis, subways and their website is the burgeoning HR Platform Namely.

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Regardless of the reality, what company doesn’t want to put themselves in the “Growing” bucket. Heck, I don’t have anyone to give healthcare right now, but this makes me want to schedule a demo!

How can you test the power of identity in your copywriting?

All you need to do is add a “for” statement + the aspirational identity your customer has to your value proposition.

How to Start Using Identity in Sales & Marketing

Before you do anything, you need to understand your customer. What do they value, how do they see themselves, and what do they want to be?

Note: this isn’t about what they really are, it’s about who they think they are and who they want to be.

Cults are built this way. Crossfit is a great example. One reason they’ve built such a strong following is certain people love what crossfit stands for.

“I’m tough. I’m healthy. I have blisters on my hands. I eat a certain way.”

From someone who drinks the crossfit kool aid, I’ll be the first one to admit that people who do crossfit love talking about it because they love the identity that it conveys.

This is why crafting a compelling identity for a brand or movement at the onset is often the best strategy for building WOM. People will share anything if they think it makes them look better or a certain way. See instagram, the platform that all makes us prettier and more handsome.

Once you understand your customer and how they want to be perceived, think about how you can link the behavior of that persona to your solution. This can be done by outright saying who it’s for or even by casually associating your solution companies that align with a certain identity.

“One of the reason that [aspirational company] loves us…”

A great place to think about weaving this in as well if we’re talking about pitching is a common objections sheet. Every time you write a new pitch you’ll want to create a sheet that lists out all of the rebuttals and objection prospects have then write out responses. In this sheet, see if there is anything that comes up that you can tease on this identity lever in a graceful way.

I say graceful because delivery can be everything when you go as far as an instance like the Tony Robbins example where you flat out ask someone if they are who they say they are. Like comedy, the way you say something can completely change the reaction so make sure to practice with someone on your team if you’re going to use this in a common objection rebuttal.

Also test this in your marketing and messaging. Do you talk about who your product is for as well as what it does? Why not do some split testing in your copy to see if you get a higher conversion rate on the top 5 most visited pages on your website.


Have you or someone you know leveraged the concept of identity selling to enhance sales and marketing? It’d be great to hear some examples in the comments if you have them.

8 Unique Marketing Strategies To Grow A Podcast To the Top of iTunes

Holy Snikey it’s been awhile since I’ve written a blog post.

The primary reason for my hiatus is I’ve been focusing on creating content for my podcast The Competitive Edge as well as exploring new opportunities since moving back on American Soil a few weeks ago.

I plan on writing a series of posts about some ideas and strategies for people who want to start and grow a podcast. This one is going to be about what seems to be the juiciest topic amongst current and future podcasters…

How do I market and grow my podcast?

I’ve tried a boatload of marketing tactics to grow my podcast and in this post, I want to share what works, what doesn’t and what the 80-20 for podcast marketing is.

First let’s chat results.

Podcast Launch Date: May 5 (8 weeks ago)

Total downloads: 54,934

Downloads Day 1: 334

Peak downloads in a day: 1,860

iTunes Reviews: 127 (124 were 5 stars!)

Here’s a nice little graph of the downloads from my hosting provider Libsyn:


Here’s how my downloads were broken down by month.

Month Downloads Shows Downloads Per New Show
July 5887 1 5887.00
June 31038 13 2387.54
May 18009 15 1200.60
All Time 54934 28 1961.93

These download numbers exclude listens on SoundCloud and YouTube which are pretty insignificant compared to iTunes.

I still recommending reposting episodes to both channels it if it means capturing extra listens without cannibalizing iTunes downloads… especially if you can generate some SEO juice from YouTube which we’ll get into shortly…

Here are some vanity results during the first 8 weeks

  • Hit the #1 Spot on New & Noteworthy for both Business and Health a bunch
  • Hit Top 4 in all of iTunes Business and remained in top 10 in as late as Week 7
  • The show was named podcast of the month on Podcast Land


I share this so you can understand what getting #1 on New & Noteworthy for long periods of time really gets you.

Coolio. So what did this do for my life and/or business?

  • During these 8 weeks I added 2,545 email subscribers. The 8 weeks before the launch I added 2,321 to my list.
  • I had an uptick in purchases of products on my site in both months.
  • I’m working with 3 new coaching clients on online marketing/business development and have had to turn away a bunch of new coaching/consulting inquiries because I want to limit that stuff to less than 8 hours a month.

If we’re talking purely $$ investment, the podcast has definitely made me at least 3X more money than I’ve spent on it without taking into time costs.

This is all great and dandy, but by far the coolest and most fun stuff has been building relationships with awesome new people and deepening existing ones.

To get specific, I’ve had conversations with 30+ amazing people, 16 of which I never spoke to before.

I got to travel and meet multiple people in person since I’ve been back to the States after doing an episode with them.

My first trip was to go and hang out with Ted Alling and all the awesome people and companies involved with The Lamppost Group in Chattanooga. #ManCrush

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As I write this I’m getting to hang out with Noah Kagan in Austin who is a marketer and business mind I’ve enjoyed learning form for a few years now. #WeightroomSelfies

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These guys will be life-long friends and I’m not sure that this would have occurred if they hadn’t come on to my podcast.

Lastly, I’ve had the incredible gift of having listeners write in to let me know that the show has made a positive impact on their lives.

Reading these emails and similarly toned iTunes reviews makes the time investment incredibly rewarding and worth it for me.

Taking all this into account, I’m incredibly happy with my decision to start The Competitive Edge.

Alrighty now that we got that out of the way, here are the top 3 ways you can grow your podcast. This is the 80-20 in my opinion.

The 80-20 Podcast Marketing

1. Publish new episodes at least 3 times a week in the first 8 weeks.

iTunes gives you 8 weeks to be featured in the New and Noteworthy section following the day you launch.

HealthN&N1 copy copy

This section is your best bet for organic discovery amongst existing podcast listeners because it’s the first thing people see when they log onto iTunes.

It’s unclear exactly how the New & Noteworthy is ranked, but patterns I’ve seen lead me to believe that it’s a velocity-based, popularity algorithm.

To be more specific, every time I published a new episode and got a spike in downloads as indicated by the graph below, I’d usually jump to a top 4 spot in the New & Noteworthy section the next time iTunes shuffled the rankings.


As the number of downloads decreased and more time passed since each spike, my ranking in New & Noteworthy would decline. I found the correlation between recency to a new episode published and a rise in rankings to hold true for other newly popular shows as well.

This hypothesis leads to the next question:

How can you increase the number of downloads to your show?

The easiest way to increase the number of downloads to your show is to churn out additional episodes. You’ll get downloads from existing subscribers while accruing new ones via iTunes and off-site promotion. This is why I advocate for publishing more than one episode a week like most other podcasters.

Think about it…

The infamous “1 million downloads” podcast number can be achieved by trying to build up your podcast to 20,000 downloads per weekly episode.

20,000 x 52 weeks = 1,040,000 downloads a year

This is really tough unless you already have a huge name like Tim Ferriss.

Or you can reach 1 million downloads with by getting to 5,000 subscribers with a 5X a week podcast.

Not only is this a much easier way to achieve “big” podcast numbers that do things like help attract sponsors, but also this will help you spend the most amount of time at the top of New & Noteworthy in the beginning due to the consistent download spikes within short time intervals.

If you’re just starting out and you’re really looking to blow it out while you have a chance to get in the New & Noteworthy, I’d recommend publishing at least 3 times a week.

I released an episode 5 times a week for the first 4 weeks by backlogging 20 episodes before I even launched. I couldn’t sustain this rate due to my hectic travel schedule and started putting out 2-3 a week during weeks 5-8. My results were still strong, but I definitely was not optimized for organic iTunes discovery to the degree I was when I was publishing 5X a week.

I’ve seen people double down on this “volume play” by just producing a bunch of short sub-10 minutes episodes to publish everyday. This strategy works for getting featured in New and Noteworthy for sure. But I’ve seen their download numbers compared to mine and I often am ranked much higher in the business category and sometimes in the New & Noteworthy even though they were getting more downloads.

This leads me to believe that they might include some additional ranking factors beyond purely new download velocity, like number of minutes listened to. Positive reviews and number of new subscribers within a given time window might contribute as well.

2. Juicy Titles & Widely Applicable Themes

After 8 weeks of throwing marketing ideas against the wall, I did a deep dive on my episode analytics. I started by reviewing which episodes got the most downloads.

I looked for both patterns and anomalies then tried to work backwards in order to see why some were more popular than others.

Due to the lack of transparency iTunes provides you, I was really only able to draw two actionable observations…

I used the same core promotional strategy for pretty much every episode. One element of this was asking the guests to share with their audience and most of the guests reciprocated with a similar promotional effort. #TokenRetweet

This made the downloads # a relatively control environment which was perfect for determining calculus as to why certain things did well.

Here are my top downloaded episodes:


Generally, the most popular episodes weren’t the people with the biggest online presence. They were the ones that had the juiciest titles, containing show themes applicable to the largest group of people.

For example, topics like How to Pitch Anything were more popular than The Marketing Formula Behind the Fastest Growing Blog on the Internet.

Both are great titles, but pitching anything is applicable to a wider audience that growing a website.

I used a title formula cheat sheet that contains engaging syntaxes that have done well for me with blog posts in the past to help with the creation of each title. I’d use this to write at least 5-10 title permutations before selecting what sounded best. The gold always starts coming out after the 6th or 7th effort.

You can grab the Title/Headline Creator Cheat Sheet here:


Big Takeaway: spend the extra few minutes crafting a stellar title and choose interesting topics for large cohorts of people if you’re doing a general self-improvement podcast like mine.

3. Get Guests to Promote You In Their Email Lists

Having guests help promote the episode you do together is nothing new. It was a core part of my strategy.

One success anomaly helped me discover that there is definitely an 80/20 for guest promotion that should be engineered…

The main anomaly I noticed in terms of # of downloads was episode #13.

My buddy Mike Hrostoski’s episode was the 4th ranked out of 30 in total downloads.

Mike is the man, but he’s definitely not the biggest name I interviewed. In fact, I published his episode on my blog here  before I even launched on iTunes as a preview to my audience….

This meant that many people in my tribe had likely already heard this conversation…yet it still had the 4th most listens…[ominous blog hush sound]

So why did Mike’s interview get so much traffic?

Simple. He sent an email out to his mailing list linking directly to iTunes right after I published our interview.

HrostoskiemAIL copy

I can’t measure clicks from the email, but I can clearly see that there was much meatier traffic on the 3 days following his email blast than the typical episode download trend.

Check out the difference in listens after initial publishing following Mike’s episode on the left vs. Episode 14 with Ted that immediately followed it.


Mike’s interview was getting nearly 3X the listens 3 days after I initially launched it then the next episode which was an excellent show, heavily promoted by the guest via social media.

A lot of people think that having big name guests tweet out their podcast is going to move mountains.

The truth is that it probably isn’t going to move the needle nearly as much as having someone with a loyal following include a link to your episode in an email to their list.

One of my guests Ross Tucker has 114k Twitter followers. He’s got a top football podcast and used to be the voice of ESPN’s podcast so I strongly suspect his followers are real people that are highly engaged.

So what does 114,000 Twitter followers get you?

One retweet from Ross got me 38 clicks. This type of click-through is pretty typical.

RossTuckerTweets copy

Ok this seems simple enough…get included in mailing lists!

The challenge is that most people guard their mailing lists like hawks. Why? Because every time they email there will inevitably be some unsubscribes.

Right now I’m testing a new strategy that ensures people mail the interview out to their lists, but it’s too early to say how effective it is. When I have more data, I’ll share it with Life-LongLearner folks. Subscribe below so you don’t miss out 😉


In the meantime, a simple thing you can always do is suggest to guests to include the interview in the P.S. section of an existing email that is already going out that week…this is way less intrusive than asking for an entire mailing dedicated to your episode.

Below is an example email I’ve sent to guests you can swipe that eloquently asks them to promote the show to their mailing lists:


You can get this promotional email template here:


Publishing lots of episodes with high quality guests and getting featured in mailing lists is by far the biggest 80/20 to grow your podcast in the beginning in my opinion.

Potentially getting featured on other shows might be number #4 but that’s not realistic for everyone so I’m not going to deep dive into that.

Why Focus On iTunes?

Shortly I will be sharing some marketing tactics to grow a podcast which I haven’t seen many people use…but first, lets explain why you should focus on iTunes vs. other platforms despite the analytics being a mess.

To give you an idea how opaque iTunes podcast analytics are, you can’t tell where iTunes listens came from, how many subscribers you have, or how long someone tunes in. All you get is total number of listens from your hosting company graphed over time.

You might be saying, why not push people to somewhere like SoundCloud that has better analytics?

Despite crappy analytics, I still recommend driving people to iTunes because this is the easiest place for people to subscribe to your podcast. Like blog posts, you always want to push people to subscribe to create a lasting connection.

In addition, iTunes has by far the biggest audience and network effect mechanisms like New and Noteworthy and “Listeners Also Subscribed To” which makes it an attractive platform.

Screen Shot 2014-07-10 at 4.58.47 PM

I have a friend at the Earwolf podcast network who says that amongst the biggest podcasts, 80% of their downloads come from iTunes and “then there’s everything else.”

When I heard this I decided to stop wasting time on other platforms and double down on the mothership.

Unconventional Podcast Marketing Tactics

1. Get Placement In Podcast Directories

When I was game planning marketing strategy, I wanted to find all the places that people were looking for podcasts and see if there was a way to get in front of them there.

I started with searching for directories. The best one I found was PodcastLand via the podcast subReddit.

Podcastland is a directory for podcast listeners to find new goodies to consume.

I got excited when I found that each month they let people vote for the best podcast and the winner gets featured on their site for an entire month. All that is required to vote is submitting your email address.

I called on friends, family, and my trusty militia of VA’s to secure The Podcast of The Month for June 😉


According to Libsyn’s non-iTunes analytics, direct plays on Podcastland didn’t move the needle much.

But my guess is that few people consume what they find on their site (vs. iTunes/smartphone) and I couldn’t measure those conversions so there might have been a lift here….

2. Drive Traffic via Reddit

Anytime I create a piece of content, I try to find out where people who would find it valuable are hanging out and then make sure they see it (in a non-douchey way).

As part of my post production process, I’d denote whether there was any relevant subReddit with meaningful volume that made sense to share my audio to.

[get my post production process leads]

People don’t usually share podcasts to Reddit so I was very intentional to indicate that the content was Audio and provide a variety of listening mediums to appease the bands of grumpy Reddit trolls.

Here are two example Reddit posts where I promoted specific episodes:



Being thoughtful about the fact that audio usually isn’t shared on Reddit by telling people exactly where to listen and/or clearly denoting (Audio) seemed to be pretty effective.

I was able to successfully get a few podcasts at the top of multiple different subReddits without a nuclear Reddit-hater meltdown.

Again, unfortunately I have no insight into how many subscribers this drove and there is no indication from episode downloads where I employed Reddit marketing that there was a huge lift in listens.

If you try Reddit marketing directly to iTunes, it might make sense to track each instance using a link…

3. Create Sponsorship Partnerships in Exchange for Free Ad Space

Totally gotta give my homeboy Billy Murphy from Forever Jobless credit for this idea.

I basically hit up all my favorite companies whose tools/sites I personally use and offered to mention them on the podcast in exchange for promotion on social media and any other channel they’d be down for.

I ended up doing partnerships with the following companies:

In addition to promotion, I also asked for free prizes to give away as part of a giveaway contest that required iTunes reviews for entry.

I ended up getting 67 people to enter the contest many of which hopefully left a positive review on iTunes. Big ups to Jay Neyer for winning the grand prize of a free trip to San Diego to jam on business for a weekend.

The coolest deal I did was with Feedly. If you’re not familiar, they’re a pretty popular RSS reader.

In addition to Facebook and Twitter promotion, I got them to feature my show’s audio feed as the 3rd ranked recommendation in their “entrepreneurship channel.” This is essentially a curated list of content sources for people interested in Entrepreneurship.


They included my show for a few weeks and it resulted  into 1k+ feedly subscribers to my podcast feed. This means that every time I publish an episode 1,000 people see it in their RSS reader and can listen to it right there. #saweet

4. Share Episodes on Quibb

If you don’t know what Quibb is, I highly recommend checking it out.

It’s basically a place for people to share what they’re reading. The most valuable part of the site is that there is some really interesting and talented people that use it which means any content you create and share has a high likelihood of getting in front of cool people.

As a publisher, you can see who  clicks on the links that you’ve shared. I started sharing the blog posts that accompanied each podcast which gave me additional transparency into who some of my listeners were by viewing who clicked on my show.

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Quibb isn’t a huge traffic driver, but I now have a ton of people I can connect with that I otherwise probably never would.

Maybe I’m a bit aggressive, but when I see someone is listening to my podcast who looks interesting, I feel a greater license to send them a cold email to strike up an email dialogue…

Think about all the “silent” readers content producers have that never leave comments, but are interested in what someone has to say.

Quibb surfaces these folks!

QuibbActivity copyThis is actually how I met popular growth hacker Andrew Chen.

Back in the day I published an article on how I got a free personal assistant from Zirtual for 6 months and saw that he read it.

Naturally I was excited when Quibb showed me this because I’d been following his blog for a bit.

When I saw he liked my post, I immediately emailed him some cheeky thing referencing the post to strike up a convo. Eventually this turned into us meeting in person the next time I was in San Francisco.

This would have never happened if I didn’t publish the article on Quibb and see that he enjoyed it.

Andrew if you’re reading this, I owe you an email to update you on my life like I said I was going to!

5. Create A Handle on Twitter And Drive Traffic Using An Auto-Follow System

I have a buddy that gets 15-20 blog subscribers a day by simply following and unfollowing people with the hope that they click on his profile link and subscribe to his blog after he follows them. #CRAY

When I heard this, I decided to create a handle for my podcast and implore his system by targeting people who follow other podcasts and podcasters using ManageFlitter.

I selected this follow criteria because it’s easier to get people already consuming podcasts to listen to yours rather than to try and convince people who’ve never listened to a podcast before to tune in.


I inserted a link within the Twitter profile to track the number of click-throughs. According to the stats k it looks like 487 people have clicked through to iTunes.

Bitly Clicks copy

Some of these people have even indicated that they subscribed to the show! #CherryOnTop


Again, I sadly can’t measure the number of subscribers I have beyond guessing using implicit data from Libsyn.

But when you’re just starting out and you’re not an Internet titan every single one counts.

6. Guest Hosting

People who want to drive traffic to their blogs often write guest blog posts…

So why the heck is no one out there guest hosting to drive listeners to their podcasts?

I recently guest hosted an episode for GrowthHacker.TV that hasn’t come out yet.

I don’t know the yield on this activity, but I like this strategy because it’s focusing on inserting yourself amongst an audience who is already consuming content on this medium.

I wanted to bring this strategy up because it might be a more viable option for upstarts than trying to be featured as a guest on other people’s shows. The fact is many people with podcasts that are trying to grow their audience haven’t done something cool enough to be a guest on a top show. However, if you’re a killer host you might still be able to get in front of that audience by propositioning yourself to “guest host.”

Here’s a free strategy that I’d implore if my number one focus right now was growing my podcast vs. determining what my next business venture is that has nothing to do with selling my information…

**Go to every big podcast and see if the host has done episodes where they talk without another guest. Ask them if they’d prefer to have you interview them for future solo episodes to make the conversation more dynamic and offer to accommodate their schedule.

You could also proposition yourself to interview them if they’ve never had a chance to tell their personal story to their audience…

Before we move on to #7 let me know if you’re interested in having me on as a guest host by emailing me here.

Also, get more free strategies by requesting to join my private Facebook group…I’ll approve you if your profile isn’t you in a bikini with a grand total of 6 all-dude friends.

7. YouTube Audio On Your Site

I originally had my right hand man create blog posts with audio, shownotes and searchable transcripts that were all optimizing for the keyword syntax “guest first + guest last name + interview” to see if I could score some long-tail SEO wins.

I didn’t get much traction here partially because my site authority isn’t as high as many other people out there doing interviews…. but also because Google values video 53x as much as text!

If you Google anyone’s name + the word interview, you’ll likely encounter a bunch of YouTube videos.

Once I realized this, I started focusing on driving all on-site listens from each accompanying blog posts to YouTube.


Since I started doing this, I’m now beating out people that have way more site authority than me like in the example above.

I still publish blogposts, but instead of hosting on site audio on SoundCloud or Libsyn, the only onsite audio is a YouTube video that Lazar (my right hand bro) creates from the Audio and guest image.

Now iTunes and YouTube are the only way you’re going to be able to listen to my podcasts from each blog post.

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You can see the exact structure of my blog post episodes here.

I’m still not getting a ton of listens on the videos, but I’m getting some SEO value on a few interviews due to the shifted focus on YouTube.

I get about 3-5 new YouTube subscribers a day which is way more valuable than a SoundCloud subscriber in my opinion.

8. Guest Interview + Expand

About a month ago, I dusted off my business development cleats and did an interview for GrowthHacker.TV on how to get meetings with anyone via cold email.

There was an awesome response and I decided that it was kinda lame that my audience might not hear it…I also only got to share about half the goods during the allotted time window.

This prompted a follow-up “selfie-interview” where I expanded on all the cold email strategies I talked about in the GHTV episode.

When you use this strategy, you can hit up everyone who pinged you about the interview on someone else’s show about the new and expanded episode on yours. The outreach is highly relevant because these people have already “raised their hand” that they’re interested in this particular topic.

I did this with everyone who gave me love on the GrowthHacker.TV interview and got some great emails and responses from people who might have never discovered my show.

Here is an example of how I did  this on Twitter:


Quick side note…in order to isolate these instances, I used a tool called Snapbird to search for recent mentions of my handle and the word GrowthHacker in case they did not @ tweet me.


This is an awesome tool that I highly recommend to anyone looking to find particular people or interactions on Twitter that I use all the time for all types of marketing and business development activities.

Additional Podcast Marketing Ideas

Here’s a bunch of other marketing strategies I tried that I think didn’t move the needle a ton and/or aren’t very novel, but am happy to talk about in the comments:

  • Sharing episodes in relevant Facebook + LinkedIn groups
  • Sharing episode blog posts in Google+ Communities for SEO juice
  • Tweeting episodes w/ SoundCloud linked so that they could be played within the Twitter stream
  • Sending episodes to influencers who I know were very interested in a particular topic with the hope that they’d enjoy and potentially share
  • Recap emails to my list every few weeks that reference multiple episodes linking directly to iTunes
  • Offering up myself to be interviewed on other shows – got on GrowthHacker.TV, EntrepreneurOnFire, SideHustleNation, NoviceNoLonger…think that’s it.
  • Sending relevant episodes to students on Udemy through their platform messenger. You could probably reverse engineer an episode to interview a teacher with a massive student list contingent upon them sharing it to their audience #JustSaying
  • Invite two guests on the show to do live mentoring sessions in order to get multiple people sharing + spice it up!! Episode here
  • Tried sharing in SoundCloud groups…no dice
  • Stumbleupon, Digg etc. Nothing much here.
  • Linking in Quora posts
  • Changing up the layout and images of episode blogposts in order to promote subscriptions and iTunes play
  • Reverse engineering episode topics by seeing what questions are being asked in large forums and then answering them via a podcast episode so that the marketing channel is already established
  • Literally asking everyone who emails me about the show to leave a review <333

There are probably some other things I’m forgetting, but this seems to be the meat of it.

You might be reading this and be thinking…. uhhh it seems like a lot of this requires big time effort for a small numbers of subscribers.

I’d have to agree that many of these things I tried did not end up being 80-20.

BUT I would have never known unless I tried and going through the process is what results in cognitive learning…. see Sebastian Marshall Interview if you’re not familiar with this concept…. :p

I also think it’s important to realize that getting started in anything that’s competitive (like having a business podcast) you’ll often have to fight, scratch, and claw for everything to give yourself a shot of succeeding.

I still got a long way to go, but for just over 2 months in, I’m pretty stoked about these results so far and all of the amazing things that have occurred because of creating the show.

I plan on doing a few more posts on podcasts and ideas on how to market them…subscribe below if you want to get your hands on these ideas when they’re fresh out of the oven : )


What questions do you have on these podcast marketing strategies? Hit me in the comments

I’d also love to hear some ideas about ways to grow a podcast that have worked for other people in the comments too!

Reverse Engineering Success With Noah Kagan – TCE 002

You ever encounter someone that just seems to make you grin?

Well today’s guest on The Competitive Edge has definitely been one of those people on the interwebs for me.

I’m super excited to have Noah Kagan Chief Sumo of on the show.

I’m not sure how I found Noah exactly, but as soon as I started digging into his entertaining AppSumo emails, products he was creating, and vulnerable interviews, I started rooting for him.

This guy is hilarious, smart, and has personality all of which make for a great episode that you can check out below…


Noahism: “Uncertainty is your opportunity for growth” (tweet this)

What You’ll Learn By Listening

  • Mindsets and practices Noah uses to constantly improve his life
  • How to deal with rejection and some example stories
  • The process of “reverse engineering” results to get consistent wins
  • Lessons from some of his recent ventures including how to make products sell better
  • Questions we can ask ourselves if we’re not sure what company to start or who we should work for
  • Clever ways to drive traffic to your website using the reverse engineering technique
  • One “muscle” to build if you want to increase your learning and self-awareness

Listen to the episode here:

Subscribe on Itunes for more interviews

Thank Noah for dropping knowledge on us (tweet noah here)

Mindshare segment at the end:

A pre-emptive marketing tactic I use to encourage people to promote things

Links & Resources Mentioned:

For more on Noah check him out at: AppSumo, Monthly1k.comOkdork, and on Twitter @NoahKagan

Other resources mentioned:

[su_list icon=”icon: star”]


*You’ll find a full searchable transcript below

Music Credit: Carousel Games & Stay Awake

Big Thanks to Today’s Show Partner – Feedly is designed for purposeful reading. They believe reading is a fundamentally important activity that can make you better at the things you’re passionate about. They help people get more out of their work, education, hobbies and interests by connecting them directly to information they care most about.

*I use this to stay on top of the blogs and sites I like in one place.


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Searchable Transcript of This Noah Kagan Interview:


Scott: All right Noah, what’s up man? How’re you doing?

Noah Kagan: Good, just worked out; now I’m on a Yoga mat on the floor doing a little podcast with you.

Scott: Nice, man. I like that. So Noah, for everybody who is not familiar with Appsumo, can you tell us a little bit more about it?

Noah Kagan: Yeah, it’s a totally free newsletter to help entrepreneurs kick ass. So once or twice a week, we’ll find cool products, send them out; generally get good prices on them and then people can get buy them or not. And we’ll promote things from like FreshBooks, LinkedIn, MailChimp, tools for designing [technical difficulty]. We have promoted a thing called Share As Image which helps you create super quick images and that thing blew up. We were a little surprised at how well it has done.

Scott: So, I literally — can you be a little more specific about this product, it sounds kind of cool.

Noah Kagan: Yeah, man. So it’s one of these things where — what I always encourage people to do in business as well as in life is to try to look at things that are already working so you can do more of them. And one of the things that we started experimenting with, so on my personal site, Okdork dot com, I worked with a guy named Tyler and so he started posting quotes of things I would say are quotes from articles I would read or something like that on Twitter. And I hate to talk about Twitter in public, I think it’s really lame, but I’ll do it. [Laughter] [technical difficulty] oh man, you remember that tweet I wrote?

Scott: Yeah, it’s pretty dorky. [Laughter]

Noah Kagan: At least mine says Okdork so that’s fair but he stated posting them on Twitter and literally would get 25 to 50 re-tweets and favorites and so he was — but he was doing it manually because he would make a picture with a background and a quote and people would go ape-shit versus just writing a text out. And so I asked him, I was like dude, how’re you making those? He’s like, I use this product called GIMP which is like 1950s and it takes forever and I showed him Share As Image which basically makes it really easy to take any image and put text over it and the free version is pretty damn good so you don’t even need to pay.

But we noted that and frankly this is something I had learnt in a business, and we just thought that it was a great product and we were really proud to promote it and it blew up. And the second thing of why it’s done popular and this is a good kind of business tip for almost anyone is that what we offered wasn’t just like — I don’t know about you, I just hate subscriptions. I hate things monthly on my bills so we offered it like a forever plan. And mentally, even if you are offering something that is a forever thing, saying that, is such a powerful statement as long as it is real. And so that was really the hook that I think that a lot of people have been — besides it’s a good product, and I think that angle as well makes it easier for people to make a purchase.

Scott: Yeah, there is a sense of relief; I don’t feel like I have a ball and chain tied to me when it’s a forever purchase. And this product that you just mentioned, it actually sounds a little bit like the twilighter product in some ways and I know that one of the things that you just came out with for Appsumo is Sumomeat; can you talk a little bit about that?

Noah Kagan Interview: Dude, you just love me playing myself. I was going to spend the time — I think we should talk about your listeners in helping them kick more ass.

Scott: All right, dude, let’s do that.

Noah Kagan: You can go check Sumomeat dot com, it’s a free tool to help you grow your website. That’s it.

Scott: Cool, love it. So we were talking a little bit about before your call, about your workout and kind of like how you’ve changed your focus on your physiology and things like that and how it’s made a huge impact in your life. Can you talk about like your transformation in terms of how much emphasis you put on fitness?

Noah Kagan Interview: Yeah man, well, I’ll give you two stories that I think are relevant for an audience. Yesterday I was feeling pretty mopey and I don’t know about you, I go through days where I like — yesterday I did not feel like working whatsoever. And it’s funny because you see people that are “successful” or have a little more audience or attention or make some money and you think, oh, they must be working all the time, or what’s their schedule and all that shit. I’ll tell you, I had some friends who were really rich, much richer than I am and those guys are on red all day.

They’re just thinking around and it happens, you’re going to have those days and you’re going to have productive days and it’s good to accept them. But the point that I was going to highlight was that I was feeling kind of mopey and so at lunchtime I went and worked out with a friend and I’ll tell, right afterwards, I was like, ‘I’m pumped’. Like it just gets you alive, it gets your blood flowing and I’ll tell you when that stuff is connected, when you’re working on your body, it’s much easier to be more productive with your work and subsequently with women and relationships.

So, that was one interesting thing that’s kind of being more aware from I’m being much more healthy and prioritizing that, is that the healthier you are, you’re going to feel better and you’re going to look better and have more [Inaudible 00:04:33] which is good, but it also helps you with your business life which as well as relationships in general. The other story that I was going to tell you was how I got started in it and I think everyone has to have their own journey with that.

And I was actually on this — I have never shared this publicly, but I was on a bike-ride with my ex-girlfriend and basically during the bike-ride she was like, ‘you are fat’, ‘you’re over-weight’, ‘you are hung over now’ and this bike-ride should take four hours, it was taking me about eight hours. And so we ended up breaking up in the bike-ride [Laughter] it was like — but I think one of the pieces that I have learnt is a friend of mine works for Keith Ferrazzi and one of the things he said, and I love this line was that, ‘all feedback was good. It’s up to you to decide what to do with it.’

And I really enjoyed that quote and the next day after we broke up and she kind of [technical difficulty] I was like, you know what, that bitch is right, not that all women are bitches [technical difficulty] I was a little upset [technical difficulty] that lady was right and from that point, I started working with Adam from My Body Tutor dot com and I realized that having — changing my diet, and changing my — exercising and so forth has really made my life a lot better.

And I’m not even involved with that stuff where I used to run all the time and I kind of started to be like, I hate running, like I’m not happy doing this and so it’s starting to evaluate. And this is what I had mentioned earlier. I call it anomalies of success which is like, look at things that you are doing that are working, do more of it, look at things that are not working and less of them. And I think people just keep doing shit that doesn’t work for them in the hopes that it’ll change and that’s called insanity.

And so I kind of said, this running thing isn’t working for me but I’m enjoying weightlifting and other forms of cardio; so I’m enjoying the treadmill or I’m enjoying StairMaster or interval running. And so, it’s figuring out that balance of what is giving you the overall life that makes you feel good. And so it’s been an interesting evolution, working with Adam from My Body Tutor, figuring out foods; like how many times Scott, for yourself, have you after lunch felt like shit?

Scott: A lot, man. Basically every time I’ve eaten a carb.

Noah Kagan: Yeah, it’s funny, I always make fun of people with cilax disease but it is interesting to note that, there is a book I was mentioning, it’s called ‘Power of Full Engagement’ and this book — it’s one of my top ten lifetime books and what I love about it is it really got me thinking about how — not just food which is critical but just exercising, as well as people and the things that you work on effect your energy levels. And so I started really trying to think about what gives me more energy.

And notice this for yourself next time, notice you have a conversation with people; let’s say you have this conversation and afterwards you’re like pumped, I’m going to go work out, I’m going to make some money, I’m going to have some sex, versus other ones. Like I had one last week with a financial planner and I was drained. I was like, I can’t do anything else today and emotionally — and so I started to look for the things that were giving me more and then reducing the things that would take away; and I think as people start becoming aware of that, they get more done and they are more fulfilled throughout their days.

Scott: It seems like you have an uncanny ability to just go through these life experiences, the good and the bad and come away with actionable takeaways. Is there any specific mindset or practices that you are just constantly doing in order to really iterate on your life and improve it?

Noah Kagan: Yeah, that’s an awesome question and I hate when people say this, ‘you have a really great question'; I don’t know why we do that all the time.

Scott: I’m giving myself a pat on the back over here; you can say it as much as you want.

Noah Kagan: You should go get a massage today. [Laughter] You know, it’s funny because I gave a presentation on creative life and it’s like 99 bucks, they might have some free previews and it was like — and there’s actually a great presentation I did it on YouTube for free, it’s Big Omaha – Noah Kagan Big Omaha, and maybe you can link to it. And it was how to get everything you want, how to overcome your fear and get everything you want. And I gave a presentation about how I went through a really rough year for myself relatively to other people.

I went through a rough year myself about like my weight and my business and my relationships. And so it was funny because yesterday I felt like shit man, like I didn’t feel like working, didn’t feel like working out that much and I was like, ‘I’m the guy who gave that presentation; of course I have to feel good all the time.’ Right? Like isn’t he supposed to? You read his Tweets and things are so good and he’s got quotes or he’s got a blog, or whatever and he’s got Appsumo that’s doing well.

And we all go through ups and downs, it’s a roller coaster, you have days when you’re crushing it and you have days that are not. And I think the mindset that I try to use is a testing mindset. I don’t have an official term for it, I haven’t really thought about it extensively but what I try to personally is test things out on a 7-30 day basis and it’s not super-rigorous. Let me give you this example. I want to handstands, so I said for the month of March, I’m going to do handstands from one to five minutes every morning. And so I was like, let me just try these handstands out and I started out with wall-planks — there’s actually a great book, it’s ’28 day Handstand Challenge’, PDF. I’ll give you the links so you can put it in credits, it’s totally free, it doesn’t cost shit and I’m sending it to via Skype.

Scott: Sweet.

Noah Kagan: And I did it for 30 days and you know what, I really like handstands, so I’m still doing them. Anyhow, other things — I found out that I really like protein waffles, so I experiment every morning with making protein waffles. But there’s other things, you know, something that my friend Stacy from Nerd Fitness today and I used to do 120 sit-ups and 15 pull-ups every morning and I would them every morning for 30 days and I found out that after 30 days, I didn’t want to get out of bed because I didn’t want to do them.

Because I wouldn’t eat breakfast until I did them. And I was like, I don’t want to keep doing this because it’s not making me want to get out of bed and enjoy my day. And it doesn’t mean that everything is going to be fun but you look at how you feel afterwards. Same with meditation, I did meditation 40 days, there’s a great app called Accu-Timer, totally free; so I’d meditate for five minutes and I did it for 41 days and my personality is like, I don’t want to stop [Inaudible 00:10:39].

But after 41 days I was like, everyone is saying like it’s helping them but I did it and I’m like I didn’t feel anything, I just feel bored. And so it’s not that it doesn’t work for people but all I’m trying to encourage people to do is that I don’t think there’s one right way to live a life but [technical difficulty] subtracting seeing with the people in your life, add them in and subtract them and see which ones at different points in your life serve you. Because some things you have been doing for a while, you probably just at least need to test them to see all right, I’ve been a vegetarian, maybe let me eat meat; or maybe I’m a meat-eater, let me be vegetarian and then see what that’s doing for your life and then continue it based on what’s getting you the better result.

Scott: Do you take the same approach to your business in terms of effectiveness?

Noah Kagan: Yeah, I mean, I think the hard part with this kind of mentality is that its easy to start shifting things too early and that’s a problem that I had historically which makes me very effective because I get a lot of shit done because it doesn’t keep — I was talking to a friend from Sched dot org; I really like his attitude, his name is Taylor Murphy and I asked him, you’ve been doing this for a long time, like how have you been successful? Like what separated you from the pack? And he said, there’s only one thing that gives me a competitive edge and that’s patience.

And I was like, that’s such a good way of looking at it. He’s like I’ve out-lasted everyone; I’ve out done it. I’ve gone through the pain longer and so I don’t want to have people think, oh, well, you got to test them just move things out quickly but it’s figuring out where that right balance is for yourself and your preferences and ultimately your results. So, I’d say for Appsumo we’ve done really well because we have found things that worked and we’ve done more of them.

So like in the beginning of Appsumo dot com, we used to promote bundles and then we were like, it takes three months to get a bundle and you make 5000 bucks, what if we just split up the bundle? And then it’s interesting, now we’re making 5000 bucks a week and getting a single deal that’s a lot easier. And so it’s being observant and kind of looking for what’s working to do more of it. And I think you ultimately have to have some type of goal or something you are trying to accomplish and when you don’t, it just makes things a lot harder.

So with Appsumo, it’s like we’re trying to accomplish a goal, last year we were selling a certain amount of our Monthly 1K dot com course which shows people how to start a business. And because we had a goal in that, it was not — it wasn’t one month, it was a whole year goal. It helps to break it down to — we broke it down to monthly goals and weekly goals and daily goals and we’re able to iterate just to see all right what’s effective in selling more of this course? And so, what was effective, number one — and there were things that were not effective.

But number one was like, if we give real examples of starting a business, we’d sell a lot because people believe it; and number two, the better we make the course, the more we sell. So we spent literally months just developing the course, looking at the data; and the data we would look at is — because people would say, oh we looked at data — what data do you look at? So we looked at time on page, so we looked at how long people are spending on each page because if they are spending too long and they are not moving forward.

We tracked like how far people got throughout the course and figured out how do we get them further ahead, because obviously get to the end, you get your own business. We looked at where people were quitting the course; so what pages were the last pages before they refunded or dropped out; and we said what is it about these pages and how do we then either expand on them or remove them completely. And so a lot of it was like having a goal, breaking down to a daily or weekly basis and then figuring out which things have been more effective to do more of and like the course — we did some guest posts, that didn’t work really well.

Advertising did okay, it wasn’t as great as I was hoping it would be in terms of like, I put in a dollar and it got a lot more. It wasn’t like that much of a big leverage; and so yeah, I think we do try to take a good approach of like let’s try out new things, let’s have a goal, lets try out things and see which ones are actually the most effective in getting towards that.

Scott: Yeah, I mean it makes a ton of sense. One thing that I think a lot of people do myself included, I really suck at this, is making sure to be super-diligent about doing a proper postmortem to really understand the things that I do. What does that process look like when you’re testing something out at Appsumo?

Noah Kagan: So we kind of stopped doing a lot of our ad tests; so we actually do that more around our deals and so what we’ll do is like, lets say WP101, it’s a product we provided, it’s a great course about how to start a Word Press log and we promoted it thinking it would sell 1000 or 2000; it ended up at something like 500 and I think it was $15 or $20 or so, I’m not sure of the exact price and it was really low. And so we did a postmortem and we were not perfect about that stuff man; but I think what you have to do is like — let me just break it down in terms of a formula.

Any time you get rejected from a sale, like let’s say I’m trying to sell you something, that’s the part where you actually grow the most. That’s the part where you’re like, ‘why didn’t you want to buy it?’ so I could make it better next time. And I think just that mentality is you kind of highlight is, that’s how you can start winning because I think most people fail and they just accept it. But when you go and try to start a business and people aren’t buying it, you go and get rejected from a girl, you do a blog-post and no one reads it, what was it about that one that you can really deep dive and them make the next one better? Or when it does work, why is this working?

Scott: Yeah, I think it’s so interesting, I love thinking about taking almost a marketer mindset to a lot of situations that people don’t; like social interactions, so like when did this conversation lose energy? When did this girl decide that she wasn’t interested in me? Trying to identify the bottlenecks in these interactions with people; it’s so fascinating and high value but I feel like rarely do people do it.

Noah Kagan: I mean well, two things from me is that, in relationships with girls, I’ve started looking at when do I get noticed more? So, I started painting my toe-nails and my finger-nails and I know that’s really metro and I don’t know dude it’s weird — and now I just have my toe-nails painted. One, it makes me happy because I walk around with my feet and they’re all painted and pretty, and I’m like, ‘oh look how pretty and cute they are’ and so what I realized was that what am I doing things that other people are responding well too?

A certain T-shirt, and then it’s like, I want more of that and I think as you have that mentality, you will get more of it. The other thing is, I actually like when bad things happen, and everyone’s got their own definition of what bad is, but a more recent experience or more experience — it’s such a stupid one, you’re going to think I’m such a tard but like about — lets see a year ago, I went to Jason Cohen of WP Engine and if you went and blog hosted at WP Engine, that’s a good site, [Inaudible 00:17:30].

And so when you go to this great place that I love going to and I order a salad and I was like — and I kind of mumbled ‘no dressing’ and I eat relatively healthy and so I said to the guy, [Inaudible 00:17:44] and he puts the dressing on, and he literally like carwashes it. He puts in the bottom and in the middle and the top and I’m having this meeting with Jason and he didn’t notice this at all and the whole time I’m just like, ‘son of a bitch’, like I hate this salad and I was so unhappy and I kind of — you could say all right, well, next time — and the learning is, all right next time when I get a salad, make sure I always ask for dressing on the salad.

And then I also just try to reflect on a higher level of — when things happen like that, what can I just generally learn? So when I get a speeding ticket or when a girl doesn’t like me or when Appsumo isn’t working out or when I’m getting food that I don’t enjoy; how do I always at a higher level keep thinking like if something bad happened, how do I make sure I improve that feature? And just that mindset, thinking about that, is helping me in a lot of different angles of life.

Scott: Yeah, I think if you challenged a lot of people and I’d be curious to get your insight on is, even though we do have these failures where we can learn things form them, it’s hard to remember those lessons in the future, is there any type of exercise or affirmation that you do to really like drive these home?

Noah Kagan: I look in the mirror and I tell myself, ‘I’m special’. [Laughter] I don’t man, I don’t really — I would say for myself — like I think people start blogs for the wrong reason and I generally discourage most people from doing blogs but I would say, ultimately in the past year and a half, besides [Inaudible 00:19:11] to some extent, I would say I started to blog to remember stories and experiences that I wanted to remember. So there is to some extent, like I reverse engineer what will be popular but then I’m choosing other things that I want to write about which will be most popular.

So as an example, I put out an article a year ago about a cold e-mail I received. One of the best cold emails I’ve ever received and I put it out and it just got huge and so I was like, oh, people like reading about email stories or email improvement and so I have a story recently that I was like all right, I’m going to work on that because it was already popular, and I wanted to remember this, it was about how somebody rejected me recently. And I was just like — I was just so happy with the rejection. I was like happy about the rejection and that’s something that, when you think about it or remember it, and I’m also happy to share that story with other people.

Scott: Can we share that story now?

Noah Kagan: Sure. I was — I think when you’re trying to figure out a lot of people don’t know what they want to work on or which companies they want to work for and I think one of the easiest strategies for that is two things — or I think just one; look at the restaurants or products that you are using the most. So, which apps are you using a lot; so I’m using like Glympse dot com a lot, Glympse is the app and it basically shows people where you’re going so that they don’t have to [technical difficulty] wait for you. So it’s like, ‘hey Scott, I’ll be there in 10 minutes’, I’ll send you a glimpse so you can see me on the map.

I use My Fitness Pal and I’m really enjoying just tracking what I’m eating, I find that really enjoyable or even when I worked at Mint dot com, I saw it, I was like, oh my God, I want this right now. So I think if you’re looking for a job, that’s like, all right, what am I using a lot that I already know very well? Or secondly, if you are looking to start a business, it’s like, what kind of things and people really resonated with you? So like, I started thinking about that myself, like what have I done that people always respond to and what have I enjoyed? So what has responded well and I enjoyed?

I love bringing people together. I really love events and like hosting and coordinating that stuff and so it’s like how do I do more of that? As well, it’s like about myself, I love telling people about things I like. So, the rejection email was — I love Tacodeli; it’s my favorite Taco place in the world, it’s in Austin, Texas and I love telling people about it, I love bringing people there and so I emailed the owner and I said, can I invest in your business and that was number one, and will you speak at my event on Friday? For Monthly 1K dot com, we’re having a members meet up at Austin and I was like, can you come speak at it?

And I will say it with an asterisk, if you are ever asking someone for something, make sure you give them something first and don’t do it inauthentically or just in general like, ‘hey, I’m going to give you something, but you have to give me something back’ because they usually do not expect shit. And maybe in the future if you feel like it’s appropriate, then ask for something. I get so many emails like almost daily and it’s like — ‘can you fix my startup?’ Or ‘can you do my marketing?’ And I’m like, I don’t even know you, I barely — like I said, I hardly talked to my mom on the phone, you think I’m going to take time for you?

And a lot of that goes back to energy, which is like why would I give my energy to these people versus the people I already love or people who are already customers and so forth? And so with the Tacodeli guy, I brought a lot of people there, I spent a lot of money there and so it wasn’t super — out of the field but I asked him to invest, I asked him to come speak and his rejection was just really fascinating. It was like super-complimented in the beginning, saying no and then explaining why — so what’s in like — he’s like we’re been a home-grown business, [Inaudible 00:22:45] we don’t plan on it and I really appreciate that you’re excited about it; just doesn’t make sense; and for the speaking thing, I’m just really busy with time.

And so he could have easily just responded ‘no’, but I think how he explained it, he appreciated me, told me no, and explained to me why no; was just a really nice formula around that. So that kind of posed because it’s already worked well in the past, I’m going to do more of. And I think that’s something — it’s looking at what things are already working so you do that and other people might call that reverse engineering. Now, I think that’s a key thing to be looking forward in marketing or starting a business or dating, is what are the things you can reverse engineer to get the result you want?

Scott: I remember a very specific example, when you did this on [Inaudible 00:23:27] interview, where you basically kind of looked at all the different posts and interviews that were more successful and looked for patterns and I just really thought that was a brilliant way to get the most out of that experience. Can you think of any other tactical stories where you have used this reverse engineering technique, maybe marketing or just any general business?

Noah Kagan: Yeah, I can give you a lot of examples of how — so I was thinking about starting a podcast but I think it’s almost easier for me to be on other people’s podcast because there are so many new ones. But I actually went through the top podcasts — I looked up the top podcasts and then I looked up the different factors to see what contributed to the top podcasts as well as their top individual podcasts, so the overall high level and then the individual podcasts.

And so I’ll just tell you for your readers, or listeners, the thing that is exciting is, the number of reviews, length of their podcast topics; so I found out that this is a surprising one, I found that a lot of the podcasts that have the most popular episode, was about making connections. Isn’t that interesting? I was like [technical difficulty].

Scott: I feel like it’s such an obvious topic that it’s surprising.

Noah Kagan: Really? No, dude, I was shocked how many of the ones that were the most popular on different people, it was like how to meet people, how to make new relationships, how to network which I hate that word, or how do you build new connections. Then I looked for least popular topics, I looked at reviews to see what people are commenting about, what do they normally talk about, I looked at the length of time of podcasts and I looked at like audible and other kind of more framework based things so I could see which ones have the most reviews, which ones have the most downloads and so forth.

And then that’ll help me craft what is missing, obviously or what is already working that I can replicate. Other things that I have done this around are dating, so I’m single now and I’m screening out all right, everyone is — and there are others are on Okcupid and Match dot com how do I stand out? And so how I stand out is like I don’t do them, I go to other places. so what are people not doing as much? Meeting in person, like — I have tried it, it didn’t work super well, but I look for — all right, how do I reverse engineer? Well, I know that I am Jewish and Jewish has worked really well because I posted ‘I’m Jewish’ on a few things and I get a lot more Jewish girls. I’m like, all right, well, how do I do more Jewish stuff?

So there is an app that isn’t used as much, it’s Coffee Meets Bagel and I posted; I’m Jewish’ because I am. And I’m looking for a Jewish person and that’s actually gotten to be really effective from me because there’s less competition around it and I know that it works. With marketing and so forth, I look at which sites are already bringing me the most traffic then I go to those sites, so let me give you specifics. So lets say on Inbound dot org which is kind of an SEO-related site, I look at it, all right, two things; who is writing these articles that are really popular, secondly I look at what topics are they writing about that are really popular and third I kind of start building relationships with those people.

So I use those kind of three different factors to then create content or work with us to create content that will get to the top of Inbound dot org and it has been working and — but it should be content suited for that audience and it works well. And lastly I’ll say, even for Appsumo, just one more clear example, when we started, I had no email list or nothing, just like anybody else listening or wanting to start. Not anybody who is listening, but anybody who is wanting to start a business that’s listening. And what I did was, I went to Lifehacker because I know that their audiences are awesome and I love Lifehacker and I looked at what are the top products that they always talk about.

And I cold emailed them and said, hey, I’m going to get a bundle of your top products that you talk about, would you write about this? So I worked backwards instead of — what most people do is they go forward, so they say, ‘hey I have a bundle of shit, are you going to write about it?’ And when you have no relationship, you spend no time and I truly think that there is some equation that I need to get down to a formula but its like — the amount of output you get is really dependant on your input.

So if you put in one minute to writing an email, you’re going to get one minute of shit getting an output of email. So I wrote an email and I’ll finish Lifehacker issue — but I wrote an email to an Instagram person that does body-building; his name is Omar and I followed him for a while so it’s not like I just came across him and said, do me a favor, post about me or any of that shit which most people do, they just send a quick email because they haven’t spent time and I said you know, I know you’re from the [Inaudible 00:27:44] and I’m from the [Inaudible 00:27:46] I was at California, I really love your stuff, it has really changed my life because it had, it really impacted me on how he’s training and how he recommends things.

I have this quick question about how many — about where’s a good knowledge place for reps and sets? So, I didn’t ask him for a whole routine, I didn’t ask him to like spend an hour with me, I asked for a very light ask and guess what, he responded a few hours later. He responded like, I had sent it late last night and he sent it back this morning. And so it was like, I didn’t just go right in for it; I worked — and that wasn’t my intention but that worked really well. So often it with the Lifehacker story, I got about five or ten more minutes?

Scott: Sure. I really like this framework though, I really like the idea of working backwards and instead of trying to like guess at what is going to be successful, just looking at what you can assume or what unpleasant signals are already indicating success and then just doubling down on that.

Noah Kagan: Well, you do that, it’s like the nail polish thing with girls, I saw that it got me a lot more girls so it’s like well, let me get more nail polish. [Laughter] And in the things that don’t work, it’s great, it’s like we talked in this framework, it’s like that didn’t work, why didn’t that work? And so it’s like you go to a bar, let’s reverse engineer something; you go to a bar and you drink and you don’t meet anyone, all right that’s maybe not as effective as all right, let me try working backwards from hey, friends, who knows a single girl? All right, lets see if that works well.

And then saying, all right, this does work and now let me go and do more of that. There’s also a great story on Wired dot com, it’s how a math genius hacked Okcupid to find true love. And the story is awesome because what the guy does is he works backwards to find the girls he wants to meet and then he sets his own profile up, he optimizes it to finally be able to meet those girls because it wasn’t working straight up. And I think that’s really the kind of fundamental that I have tried to work on, I am not perfect at it but I encourage it.

So with the Lifehacker story, I came to them and I said here’s the bundle, you didn’t have to write about it but I got it for you and I would love to give you the exclusive and guess what, they wrote about it and that’s how I got my first real sale for Appsumo dot com.

Scott: That’s a cool story. I’m just on your website right now, Okdork and it says you give 85% of your business hacks away for free and although this is just kind of more of a framework and a way to think about things and I think this is really super effective, has there been anything else that you have done recently, that’s kind of been a cool, little business hack or a unique way to get a lot of value out of something?

Noah Kagan: I haven’t done enough? [Laughter] Yeah, I’ll give you one more, I mean I’m only so much and here’s the thing —

Scott: You’re doing a good job, keep it up.

Noah Kagan: Thank you and I’ll give you one more and I really want people to think about this, I think about it for myself and I’m not trying to act like a guru or anything, I am just trying stuff out and I’m happy to show it works. But I had realized that a lot of people are listening things and reading things and blogs and talking to people and I think that’s all good but I think there’s a limit to it and what I realized from myself is that I grow the most and I learn the most and I do the best and I feel the best when I’m creating things and I’m trying out. And I think it’s just easier as default to consuming.

So I really encourage anyone to — yes, listen to the rest of this podcast, but end it right away and get your ass to work, do one thing today; something tiny. Maybe it is a pushup, maybe it is a handstand, maybe it’s something or a business, maybe it’s putting Sumomeat dot com on your site so you can get more emails. I would just say, go do stuff, just get your ass in gear.

Scott: Totally man, and one of the things that I was going to say to people listening is like, we talked a little bit about blogging and like a lot of things you learn about, one of the main reasons that I have been able to codify what works is because I am constantly creating stuff that I share with people and in order to share lessons that I have learnt, I have to go back and by default, understand like what worked and what didn’t. And I think that if you’re trying to like build this muscle, of having a better understanding in your life, just like start creating a blog about the stuff that you want and I guarantee you, you’ll start to have a better understanding, you’ll start building that like creation muscle and that muscle is just understanding what’s working and what’s not working.

Noah Kagan: I think that’s a great thing man, you know, what’s funny about mindsets, it’s very easy once you’ve experienced it. It’s kind of like you telling me, ‘oh healthy is better’, I’m like shut up, did I [Inaudible 00:32:24] my Doritos bro. But I think the ultimate thing is you try exercising out, you actually give it a little bit of a shot, you’re like I actually feel pretty good. And it’s funny, when I started working out, and I started looking better in the mirror and I was like man, I feel — it makes me feel better, I want more of this. And it’s not — you work out too much or you – when you count your calories, you know what, I enjoy it.

That’s the bottom-line for me, so coming back to your business, I’ll give you one more and then I’ll call it a day and go get some lunch; so I want to put out a great content on Okdork, that’s my personal site, I really enjoy it, I like just writing, I don’t try to monetize it that aggressively. I don’t think hardly at all, I just promote some of the Appsumo stuff when I think it makes sense; but what I have realized is like dude, I’ve only done so much. And I have a decent amount of stories of working at Facebook or helping out at Mint dot com and starting two businesses.

Both have done well and then one got — kind of imploded, which is a pretty crazy story but what I realized is that I only have so much to say, and I only have so much time to do it and so what I realized is like getting others to guest post for me, based on what topic makes sense in terms of overall scale of reach and how my audience responds has been a good way to leverage in helping other people as well as grow in my own site. And so that’s been kind of a big — and it seems that it’s obvious, but I have been focusing on what is the content I want and who is the best person and the most interesting that can do it.

And so instead of me spending 30 hours writing it, I spent about five to ten hours editing it and I’m actually enjoying that. And then the person gets ton of traffic and sign ups and so forth and I get content that one I get to learn and two my audience gets to enjoy and grows, ultimately my email list which is my number one objective.

Scott: Do you think that that’s something that you can do though because people know who you are and you already have an existing audience?

Noah Kagan: I would say, if you’re smaller, I would probably doing the guest posting on the other sites, there is a guy named Brian Harris who is in our Monthly 1K course and Brian Harris has done a ton of guest posting. He did a guest post on Okdork and I think this guy is now getting a thousand people a day or so at his site. So yeah, I think it works. I think what everything has to do is not just what you listen to on a podcast but experiment with different things maybe social media actually works, maybe it doesn’t, maybe Twitter and Facebook or Instagram or Pinterest work for you in getting a new audience or podcasting or YouTube videos.

And if you were free to do more of them, or try getting people to leave guest posts that are a lot smaller for your site. Maybe you do the guest post on smaller sites and it’s experimenting. I have a thing called Quant Based Marketing on Okdork dot com and I literally write out different opportunities and so I’ll be more specific — so for like Sumomeat dot com, it’s a product, as I said earlier, it helps you grow your website — I just don’t want to be talking about it too much but actually, this is an interesting thing. When something is embarrassing certain things that we do, even though we are proud of them, and I think it’s really interesting, I am proud of Sumomeat dot com so like frankly I’m not undermining it, at least in this show.

So what I have done for Quant Based Marketing for Sumomeat is I listed out different marketing opportunities, I have kind of predicted what I hoped to get from it in terms of installs. So a few examples are like, creating integrations with Mail Chimp [technical difficulty] dot com and contacting them on the integration page, doing a guest post for WP101 dot com, writing an e-book about [technical difficulty] list building techniques, trying to get partnerships or get ranked in Google for top plug in postings or click to Tweet postings; and what I do is I privatize what I think will be the most amount of results for the least amount of work and it’s a little bit subjective.

You can get some traffic from a few places but a lot of it is just guesswork and then I do them and I see all right, is there any certain activities that I can then replicate because they get me a lot more installs? And that is what Quant Based Marketing is; this is like predicting what you think you are getting something and doing it and then seeing what I can do more of and seeing what I can do less of.

Scott: Noah, this has been an awesome conversation man, I mean you’ve really put everyone who is listening, including myself in this mindset of experiment and then really be diligent about taking a postmortem of what worked and what didn’t then double down on that activity. And then like you mentioned, this can be applied in marketing efforts or can be applied in your social interactions. But the truth is, the only way for us to improve is to understand ourselves and understand things that we are doing. So it’s been a really strong message, man, I know you got to run off to grab some lunch, hopefully Tacos, because I know you love those —

Noah Kagan: I was actually going to get Tacos, but I think we might get [Inaudible 00:37:00] instead.

Scott: Actually I have one question before I ask you where people should go if they want to learn more about you; dude, what’s your favorite type of Taco? You’re always talking about Tacos, I now know your favorite Taco stand which is good intel for the next time I go to Austin, but what kind of Taco do you get?

Noah Kagan: My number one Taco is actually Cowboy Taco which is like sirloin with avocado, cilantro and I don’t get it with cheese, but that’s my go-to, and that’s got a little bit of like [Inaudible 00:37:28] roasted. So that’s my go-to, but actually it had a great Taco, I’ve been kind of getting those Shrimp Tacos, I had a really good one and I think it’s called Habaneros in Las Cruces, New Mexico of all places.

Scott: I have to check it out. Dude, well thank you so much.

Noah Kagan: Where’re you based at?

Scott: I’m based in Brazil, Rio de Janeiro.

Noah Kagan: Living the dream, bro.

Scott: Yeah, but guess what, I’m coming back to the States.

Noah Kagan: I don’t want you to come back to the States, I want you to do whatever makes you happy.

Scott: Well, I’m doing it because that’s what makes me happy.

Noah Kagan: Good.

Scott: So, I’m excited but yeah, I’m super-lucky to be living down here. Dude, if we want to learn more about you, about Appsumo, about some of the things that we talked today, what’s the best place for them to go?

Noah Kagan: So, a few of the key sites that I would recommend to people, number one, Appsumo dot com, free newsletter, find out great products for running a business, help you kick more ass; two is Sumomeat dot com for — if you want to do marketing, I saw that you had put it on your site, which is awesome so it’s on Life-Longlearner dot com; I hope all your listeners know that site.

Scott: Me too.

Noah Kagan: [Laughter] Yeah, seriously. So Sumomeat is a free tool for growing your website, Okdork dot com where I mostly share stories about how to start business and how to effective marketing. Sometimes I have funny ones like what I learnt about business from protein waffles and so forth and then also, the last place is like Twitter, so like, @Noahkagan.

Scott: Great, well, I’ll make sure I’ll link this up in the show notes. Thanks again for coming on man, this is great stuff today.

Noah Kagan: All right, brother. Thanks Scott.

[End of interview 00:39:00]


What did you think of Noah’s philosophy of reverse engineering success?

Is there ways you could apply this to your life or business right now? 

Please share in the comments and maybe we can drum up some cool new business tactics ; )

How A Bunch of Emails Became A Best Selling Kindle Book

On Monday I launched a book on Amazon that climbed to #1 in Business and #4 amongst all Kindle books on Amazon in the free section.

I’m new to this game and have no idea whether this will actually result in anything in besides bio bling, but that’s not what this post is about…


What I want to share with you is the exact process of how this kindle “Best Seller” was created in less than 5 hours by leveraging outsourcing and assets I already had…

My hope is that by the end of this post, you’ll have some fresh ideas about how you can be creating assets that push you forward using things you already have without too much heavy lifting…

outsource a book

The book I launched has a succinct title that isn’t optimized for Amazon Keywords…

Lifehacks: 63 Ways to Save Money, Improve Time Management, Produce Great Work, and Increase Productivity

The pursuit of this project began after a buddy told me he had someone transcribe an online course that he’d already created, then used a ghostwriter to create the initial manuscript from the transcription.

With some tweaking, that manuscript turned into a book deal with one of the world’s biggest publishers…and hopefully some pretty cushy paid speaking gigs in the near future.

When I heard this my brain practically exploded thinking about the cool things I could create and make $$ from using content that already had…

Lead magnets…passive income…free gifts…a book deal…reaching audiences on a new platform. Lots of cool stuff could things could be accomplished with a book, even if it wasn’t the next Hamlet.

Question numero uno: What assets did I already have that I could repurpose into a book?

I took an inventory of all the different pieces of content I created and decided I wanted to test this with something that would take the least amount of work to create. It also had to be something I’d be proud to share with my family, friends, and mentors…

A few years ago, I created an online community using google groups called HackingNYC. To be candid, I originally started the group because I wanted to stay in touch with the Skillshare students I was doing live classes for and I didn’t have a mailing list (or even know what the heck that was).

My college football team used a google group to stay in touch so I decided to use one of those.

HackingNYC is still an active community with over 300 people. The group collectively shares lifehacks as we encounter them.

I thought it’d be a cool idea to take all the lifehacks that people shared amongst the google group and turn it into a book.

Such is the origin story of my book Lifehacks: (keyworded out amazon title).

My Exact Process For Outsourcing The Creation of This Book

Step 1. Use My Intern and VA to Get Organized

I had my intern at the time go through all of the messages in the HackingNYC google group and compile the following information into a spreadsheet:

• Hack description
• Category (put your best guess)
• Tool or App (external Links)
• # of replies
• # of views
• Author

This information gave me a bird’s eye view of potential book sections and the most popular hacks.

I spent 15 minutes highlighting all the ones I wanted to include. My virtual assistant then copied and pasted the emails containing these hacks into a word document.

*If you’ve never used google groups, it’s basically just a big email group.


These emails were used to form the initial version of my version my manuscript.

Step 2: Find A Ghostwriter/Editor

For most online things, I just assume people that have the results I want are 80-90% optimized…so I just copy what they’re doing.

I asked my friend Ari who had nabbed a book deal from one of the world’s biggest publishers who he used….then reached out to her on Elance.

I emailed her my list of emails my VA pasted in and asked if she could turn it into a book.

She got back to me and said she could do the whole thing for around 500 bones.

This was her exact response:


At this point, I had no idea whether I’d make my money back on this project.

But I knew that getting comfortable with ghostwriters and going through the process would be worth the investment so I went for it.

Step 3: A Little Organizing to Minimize the Back and Forth

From here the process was very simple.

I went back to the master hacks PDF and organized the hacks by category and had my VA provide attribution to each lifehack if it was submitted by another person (Hack Credit!)

I then sent it to my ghostwriter/editor for her to transform my pile of emails into a polished manuscript.

She got back to me with a few questions.

Two back and forths later I had a final manuscript that also included a table of contents, welcome page, places she suggested screenshots, and information she needed for the title page.

I went through the manuscript and adjusted it so it was in my voice (a.k.a made it more bro-ey) and gave her the final thumbs up.

Step 4: Cover Design

I know a good design when I see one, but I’m playing in the pee wee league when it comes to coming up with design ideas myself.

If you’re like me, I’ve found the best thing to do is to give multiple low-cost designers on sites like examples of work you like and see what they come up with. This will give you’ll get a bunch of ideas and help you hone in on one concept to really create something excellent.

I did this for my cover and ended up using a design from my awesome friend Vanessa. Here was the final cover before optimized for Kindle formatting and keywords.


I sent my ghostwriter the cover design and she fired back with final versions of the book in PDF, Kindle, and E-pub.

Costs and Logistics of Outsourcing My Book

Book length: 82 pages (PDF), 69 pages (Kindle)

Cost: $550 (I think?)

Personal Time Spent In Creation Process: Less than 5 hours

Project delivery time: Roughly 1 month

I initially did a little test promotion with this book by offering it up to one of my Udemy classes if they joined my list. I was able to get another 800 subscribers from this email.

After 3 days of launching on Amazon, it’s been downloaded by around 25,000 people.

3days copy

I’m only sharing this with you to spark some thinking about why you might want to start taking advantage of ghostwriting…even if you possess a limiting belief that all you create is a crappy ebook.

The initial version of my book was literally just a bunch of emails.

Let’s put our heads in the clouds and expand upon what investing a few hundred bucks in replicating this type of strategy might be able to accomplish if you’re willing to hustle your ass off marketing it once it’s done like I did.

You could:

    • Make you thousands of dollars in passive income a year. I have multiple friends doing this with kindle books.
    • Drive thousands of leads
    • Get a major book deal
    • Open your eyes to why and how you can start using ghost writers
    • Feel like a boss amongst your family for having an Amazon Author page

Cool stuff can happen. You get the picture.

Anyways, this book was totally an experiment…and the emails I’ve gotten from people it’s helped has made investing my time and money worth it already.

We’ll see how much dinero I can make off of it, but I like my odds that I can recoup $550 in less than a month due to smart keywording, niche selection, and hopefully some love with reviews from you all ; )

How You Can Replicate This Strategy

Okay, let’s talk about how you can take this story and emulate a similar outcome for yourself or business.

Step 1. Identify a piece of existing content that could potentially be turned into a book

This could be:

• Any video content (courses, speeches, etc)
• An audio interview
• A series of emails
• A collection of existing blog posts
• A recording of yourself talking about something

You’ll need to transcribe any audio into text which typically costs around $20-40 per hour of audio depending on turnaround time.

You can get this done on Fiverr, Elance, and Odesk.

2. Clearly Outline What You’re Looking For and Find a Freelancer

If you’re trying to emulate what I did, you’re looking for someone who can turn a manuscript into a book. Ideally this person can ghostwrite, edit, and design so that one person is managing the entire publishing process.

In a perfect lifehacking utopia, you can find someone that can turn a rough outline or transcript into a book. Look for that in candidates profiles and ask everyone you’re potentially hiring whether they can do that. Hell, tell them read this post.

3. Send them everything they need in a way that minimizes back and forth

You want to try and anticipate where the holes are in your draft to pre-empt any repetitive back and forth.

When I sent my manuscript to my freelancer, I spent an extra 20 minutes ordering the content so that she didn’t have to ask me how to do this.

For design stuff, I’d use the strategy of getting cheap concepts from multiple places like I recommended above.

What Else…?

In terms of the creation process, there’s not much else. Marketing it to get the results you want deserves a whole other post….I’ve spent at least 3X as much effort marketing this than creating it.

Alrighty. This is the secret sauce behind the creation of my lifehacker book and a blueprint for anyone who wants to outsource a book.

cover (1)

If you’d like to see how I marketed this book to become a number #1 best seller on Amazon, check out this post I wrote about How to get an ebook to #1 on Amazon on OkDork.

Are you curious about anything else in the creation or outsourcing process? What other creative ways do you think the ideas from this post could be leveraged in your business?


How to Get International Media Coverage

“You’re going on in 5…and relax. You’re only going to be in front of a few million people.”

I wasn’t quite sporting the same grin as the Channel 7 camera guy.

I was about to do a live interview on their Sunrise breakfast program. It was Australia’s most popular morning show. Similar to Good Morning America, but for the land down under I suppose.

How to Get Media Coverage

Two hours before that I was at an ABC studio filming for FusionTV on the heels of a call with Radio New Zealand.

How the heck did this happen from a single blog post?

Below is the story of how I accidentally got international, mainstream media coverage…without having a big name or massive audience.

I’ll codify the series of events that occurred leading up to this so that anyone interested in how to get media coverage for their story can maximize the chance of this happening…

The Tale of Stumbling Into International Media Coverage

A few months ago, I wrote about my experience of giving up lying for 4 months.

I’d written a lot about my personal experiences and Oprah nor my hometown paper had ever decided to hit me up.

So when I shared this particular story and used the same sharing strategy I always do after publishing (social media, reddit, etc), I didn’t expect anything out of the ordinary to happen.

And at first, it didn’t.

Comments and social media responses trickled in. A few readers on my mailing list responded with nice notes.

Again, all business as usual.

Then I got an email from the founder of a popular blog. He asked me if he could re-publish the article on his site.

Absolutely,” I responded. I loved their site and this was an opportunity to reach a new audience.

I was published on their blog and became a happy little clam.

A few hours later, I got another email. This time it was from Australia.

They wanted to republish the article on their site too. Woohoo!

My story went live on shortly after I gave them the thumbs up…

Within hours, I had another 10 emails from some more new faces.

This time it was from TV shows and radio stations asking me to come onto their shows to talk about my experience giving up lying. They were primarily from Australia and New Zealand with the exception of Fusion.TV, a new ABC joint venture in the U.S.

At first I was a bit unsure whether this was a good idea…

“Hey mom and Dad, I’m going to tell millions of people about how I used to tell baby lies to make my life more convenient…and how when I stopped my life actually got much better.”

The context was certainly less ideal than saving the whales.

But the whole reason I published this story was to drive self-awareness and inspire more people to stop fibbing.

A quick review of my calculus made me realize that passing up on a stage this big was silly. Not to mention there were the fringe benefits of leveraging this exposure for new opportunities.

Many of the shows  who contacted me wanted an exclusive on “my story.”

I asked my Aussie roommate Benji which was the most popular show and he said Sunrise 7. So I committed to film an interview with them in a studio in NYC when I came back from Brazil around Christmas.

When I got back to the U.S., I trekked up to New York and did a TV day.

How to Get Media Coverage

The interviews went well and I even snuck a non-obtrusive book pitch into one of then. If you want, you can check out the full interview here.

What happened next?

Well I can’t say the avalanche of opportunities I was hoping for came my way (this might be my own fault.)

But a few cool things did come out of it.

Specifically, I walked away with a soft commitment to come back on Fusion.TV after the book was done, I now had a TV reel, and perhaps most importantly, I had a reference experience of how the mainstream media world works.

I want to expand on the last point so that anyone looking to get this type of exposure can have a better understanding of how to accomplish this.

How to Get Media Coverage

For those interested in getting their story featured in the mainstream press, I’ve broken this “how to” section into two elements: content and promotion. Both are important.

Creating Attractive Content

As I mentioned earlier, I’ve written a ton about personal experiments and they’ve never garnered much interest from mainstream media.

My roommates who also have an online presence had publicly given up lying months before and never gotten this type of attention either.

So why did my story grab the attention of mainstream media?

Here’s my hypothesis which you can use to try and replicate the results…

1. The story was time-boxed

The post that started all this wasn’t “how I stopped lying.” It was about what happened after giving up lying 4 months ago.

Interestingly enough the headlines of the re-syndications were:

Four months ago I completely quit lying. Here’s how it dramatically and positively transformed my life.” – The Next Web

“Scott Britton hasn’t told a lie since August and it’s changed his life” –

Each headline contains a time connotation. Considering the publications have the right to rename the post whatever they’d like, this is indicative that they found the time element attractive.

Throughout all my interviews and comments, I repeatedly got questions like:

“Are you going to continue on without lying?”

“What was the first month without lying like compared to the last month?”

“Have you noticed any big changes in your life after this short amount of time?”

All of these questions are predicated by the fact that this experiment was conducted within a finite time window.

Would have been as interested in the story without its time-window? I’m not sure. But the more questions you can get people to ask themselves, the more likely you’ll hold their attention.

Time-boxing is great for this because the frame makes it easier to juxtapose control and variable realities (my life with lying vs. without lying)

2. Relatability

One of the biggest takeaways I’ve gotten from copywriting is that the most compelling content meets readers where they’re at.

A big focus of this article is how I thought that I was a really honest guy, but in reality I was telling baby lies.

I supported this claim by including common instances where my actions contradicted this belief. I made sure to select the instances that I thought would resonate with the largest number of readers. I highlighted things like a co-worker asking if I saw their email or a friend asking why I didn’t text back. We’ve all been there.

Without including very specific examples like these, people might have just assumed that my reference to lying was about evil person things like cheating and stealing, instead of the small lies most people tell to make their lives more convenient.

The time-box also made this article more relatable.

Many people who read this story probably said, “I could never do that.

Well 4 months ago, I was in their shoes!

Highlighting the time-window reveals that all the amazing life changes I alluded to aren’t an insurmountable time-span away.

3. The Power of Counterintuitive Truth

Counter-intuitive ideas that make our lives better are the most attractive thoughts in the world.

The notion that you should stop telling lies that make your life easier and it will dramatically improve follows this framework.

I didn’t intentionally engineer a story that for this content archetype. It just happened to be how things panned out.

When you tell your story, you want to keep the power of this content archetype in mind. Ask yourself:

How is the story and result you’re sharing contradictory to most people’s beliefs?

This archetype can be summed up by this powerful copywriting framework the guys from The Foundation taught me:

You think (current objection/route to desire)

But really (counterintuitive way to get what you want)

So if you just (counterintuitive activity)

Then you’ll have (end result audience/customer wants)

As you set out to create compelling content, ask yourself if you can juxtapose your story to an alternate, relatable reality or widely held belief.

In my story, this was accomplished by alluding to the fact that most people consider themselves honest and associate baby lies with making their lives easier. Both are actually fallacies.

Promoting Your Way to Mainstream Media

My biggest learnings from this experience fall into the promotion bucket.

This is especially evident when I asked myself “What was different about this post?

Here’s what stuck out:

1. The right person saw my story

It’s impossible for someone to want to share your story with their audience if they never hear it in the first place.

In this instance, I was lucky enough that The Next Web saw my story and offered to re-syndicate it. This was the catalyst to climbing my way to mainstream media.

I was lucky that they happened to stumble upon my post.

A much more certain way to make sure they saw it would have been to email them.

Once I realized this, I started the practice of emailing relevant writers and blog owners after I published something.

For a post shortly after this one on How to Set Goals, I decided to email some relevant blogs to see if they were interested in republishing it. I wanted to see if I could replicate the re-syndication results…

Here’s the email I sent:

Screen Shot 2014-03-11 at 10.29.18 AM

What do you know, it worked…

I was able to get the article republished on and Dumb Little Man.

Now before I give you a more concrete prescription on how to turn a small re-syndication into mainstream media coverage, let me deconstruct what happened next.

To be candid, I remember reading about this phenomenon in the book “Trust Me I’m Lying,” by Ryan Holiday.

But like most things I didn’t actually believe and execute this strategy regularly until I saw it work with my own eyes.

Recall the chain of events that led up to the television appearance:


Can you see how the reyndication and promotion efforts work like a step-function?

I can’t verify with 100% certainty it went down like this, but it appears like the following cycle occured:

1.  Larger media publication finds story on smaller publisher

2.  Publisher likes story and feels good about the social proof from smaller publisher

3.  They decide to republish/retell the story on their own site

4.  The cycle repeats itself with a big brother of that media publication

Refer to the image above if you’re still confused.

The key here is to first make sure you get featured on some smaller publications. This will give you the social firepower you need to approach larger publishers and try to convince them to republish your story.

Tactically this is done by emailing the larger publisher and linking to the post on a smaller publication.

Again, I got extremely lucky here, but you can see how this could be engineered.

Tactics I Tried Which Were Less Successful

Here’s a few things I did that didn’t end up working out but might provide you some ideas if you try to replicate this strategy.

1. Once I got a commitment from Sunrise 7 for an exclusive interview, I emailed booking managers at every major U.S. morning show (The View, Good Morning America, etc) letting them know I was coming to NYC and would be happy to do an interview.

I got some responses but no requests to come on their shows.

If these agents had discovered my story themselves similar to the agent who saw it on, I think my chances would have been better. In the future, I’ll focus on getting resydnicated on large U.S. news sites once I have some leverage.

2. When the interview was secured, I asked myself “How can I use this stage to my benefit?”

I decided that pitching the book I’ve been working on was the best thing I could do. So I prepped like a madman for ways to answer likely questions in a way that mentioned the book project without coming off like a tool.

“Well actually this whole experiment is part of a larger life philosophy on..I’m actually writing a book on it…” 

It worked gracefully for the Fusion.TV interview which unfortunately still hasn’t gone up.

3. After the Sunrise 7 interview was live on the internet, I emailed a few popular blogs including 4 Hour Work Week to see if they’d be interested in covering an updated version of my lying experiment.

I thought the social proof of being on mainstream television might have some added firepower to the story and their willingness to re-tell it…unfortunately no dice.


My friends asked me a question about this experience I love and think we should ask ourselves anytime something cool happens. It motivates me to think about how I can get the most juice out of the squeeze:

How will your life be different because of this experience?

Well Oprah and Random House still haven’t given me a buzz…but I do have an amazing reference experience I can use on my journey to become a better marketer.

And for now, that’s something I feel blessed to have!

Have you ever tried to get your story featured in mainstream media coverage? What happened?

What would you have tried if you knew you were going to be on TV to create new opportunities?

The Most Undervalued Skill to Become More Persuasive

In this post I want to highlight one skill that can help you become more more persuasive in life and business.

This skill has been pigeon-holed within one business discipline which has prevented throngs of people from accessing its power that could be taking advantage of it.

But first I want to ask you a simple question…

What is the difference between the two items pictured below?


more persuasive 2

If you’re having trouble seeing, the first photo is a cold email asking for a partnership I grabbed from google. The second photo is a pamphlet asking me to sign up for a credit card.

…wheels turning…pinky and the brain style…

Though these two items pictured may seem very different, their high level objectives and the route to achieve them are very much the same.

The goal of the cold email is to initiate a process that results in a prospect complying to a partnership. In order to do this it must:

  1. Win a dogfight for the prospect’s inbox attention
  2. Generate enough interest with the first few sentences to compel the recipient to actually read it in its entirety
  3. Demonstrate enough potential value to get a prospect to respond

In order for the credit card company to achieve their goal (a signup)  the same process must occur. I need to stop what I’m doing it, read it, and be interested enough to take a response action.

At the core, both pieces of communication are looking for a response – the difference is that the process and sophistication in which they were created to accomplish their goal is markedly different.

Why The Heck Any of This Matters

Today I want to make a case that more people should study copywriting, particularly direct response copywriting. I believe this is one of the most untapped, high-leverage skills in business.

Copywriting, isn’t that like online marketer/spam stuff?”

Not at all. Copywriting is about understanding your audience so that you can put words into a sequence that drives the people you’re communicating with to take your desired action.

“Dude, but I’m not a marketer?”

Do you write email to prospects and clients to grow your business?

Do you write job descriptions to recruit top talent?

Do you create pitches to close deals?

Do you write updates to your company in order to inspire and motivate your team?

If you rely frequently upon anything that requires writing, you’d be a huge beneficiary of improving your copywriting ability.

I think that founders, as well as business development and sales people, have just as much to gain from becoming incredibly talented copywriters as marketers do.

“Ok that makes sense…but what is direct response copywriting and why should I study that.”

Direct response copywriting typically takes the form of marketing and advertising material that aims for someone to take a desired action immediately after encountering it. Direct mail offers similar to the credit card picture above are the most classic example of this (Google Adwords is too).

I think studying direct response is the best place to spend your time because you can measure it and it’s the most challenging (which means you must be good!).

Think about how persuasive of a writer you must be to convince someone who was not looking for your product or service (and may not even be familiar with your company), to stop what they’re doing, open an envelope, read it in its entirety, and then send you money.

The fact that this actually happens is an insane to me. Millions of do this everyday which is demonstrative of the power of being able to write exceptional copy.

Two Copywriting Principles to Whet the Palate

1. Your first job as a copywriter is to get people to pay attention.

Newsflash: most people you approach are not actively looking for your product and service. Thus, a copywriter’s first job is to create a headline that stops people in their tracks and compels them to read to your body’s first sentence.

In order to do this effectively, you must first understand your audiences’ mass desire(s) so that you can write something that resonates with them.

Let’s talk about some “headlines” that exist outside of direct response marketing:

  • Email subject lines
  • Social media content
  • Job titles – and subtitles
  • The title of a blog post

If you understand your audiences’ mass desires and can weave this into the initial words that they encounter, you’re more likely to get them to stop and pay attention. Again, this is the first step towards achieving your goal.

Writing a first sentence that gets them to read the second sentence is next.

2. A second fundamental of copywriting is understanding your audiences’ awareness.

If prospect #1 knows all about your product, service, or even the need that it fills and prospect #2 is completely clueless, it makes sense to communicate to them differently no?

The interesting thing is that majority of people that have not studied copywriting fail to intentionally cater their emails, job descriptions, and general writing to the level of awareness and sophistication that their audience possesses.

There are actually 5 levels of audience awareness and each one requires a different approach to communication if you want to maximize effectiveness.

A more concrete example of audience sophistication:

A Level 1 audience is familiar with your product, where it stands in the market, and desires it.

If you’re goal is to get them to buy, you probably want to grab their attention by stating the product’s name in your headline and compel them to purchase by offering a time sensitive discount or bargain because they already want it.

Compare this to a Level 5 audience at the opposite end of the spectrum. Level 5 audiences are not only completely unaware of your product or service, but also typically don’t recognize their need for it.

Would it grab a Level 5 prospect’s attention to state your product’s name? Would a discount on something they never heard of stop them in their tracks?

Absolutely not.

In this instance, you’d be better served by stating an emotion or feeling that they might self-identify with so that they stop what they’re doing to read on. Only after you’ve captured their attention, as well as accomplished a few other things I’m not going to go into here, would you introduce your product or service that solves their problem.

Using the principle of audience sophistication, here are two example cold email subject lines where the end goal is to get a business to purchase a software called Ipanema CRM.

  • Level 1: 30% off Ipanema CRM until Next Thursday
  • Level 5: Why Didn’t They Come Back After They Loved My Service?

The headline must be congruent with your perceived understanding of what will appeal to your audience given their sophistication. Determining their sophistication is a time-consuming art in itself.

*To inevitable the copy critics, I wrote these in 26 seconds.

So You’re Kind of Curious About Copywriting…

My goal in writing this was to compel more people who are not explicit marketers to study a discipline that has immense benefits. I’ve seen them first hand in my own life.

If you’re looking for a place to start, I’d begin by reading the first copywriting book I read Breakthrough Advertising by Eugene Schwartz. Note* I found a free PDF on google and did not buy it for $93.

As part of my self-directed learning about copywriting, I am going to be doing an online presentation on copywriting in order to provide some accountability to my knowledge acquisition…the best way to learn something is to force yourself to teach it to others!

I’ll be posting this online somewhere when it’s available, but in the near term, I plan on doing a small introduction to Biz Dev copywriting in a free webinar I’m doing this Thursday on Business Development maneuvers.

You can sign up for the webinar here.

In terms of business skill acquisition, Copywriting is the number one skill I’m focusing on building this year.

What skill are you most focused on learning this year and why?

The Most Important Document You Probably Aren’t Keeping

Today I want to share a shockingly simply practice that has made me 10’s of thousands of dollars, allowed me to perform better at work, and created more time to do the things I love.

This practice is the secret to communicating better and how I develop online products that are allowing me to live my dream life right now.

Where we worked out on Friday
Where We Worked Out On Friday

The practice…

Keep a document of every question people ask you.

Yep. It’s that simple.

Anytime someone asks me a question (especially over email), I file it away into a massive google docs spreadsheet that I call my “demand understanding document.”

Actually, now I forward it to my virtual assistant Josiah and he does it.

Why You Should Do This

Your ability to be successful at most things in business is directly correlated with your understanding of what people want.

A “demand understanding document” serves as a repository of everything the people you interact with want which helps you better understand your audience so that you communicate more persuasively with them.

And when I say audience, I’m not just talking about people who read your blog. I’m talking about anyone you communicate with to move your business forward: prospects, clients, colleagues…you get the picture.

What You Can Do With This Information

You can probably do a zillion things with this information. Because I believe the most practical way to learn is model others, I will share with you how I use my demand understanding document.

Product Creation

Right now I’m living in Brazil off of a healthy income I make on information products; specifically online courses that teach people how to do things.

In order to create these, I don’t just come up with ideas that I think are cool and make a course on it. I use my demand understanding document to look for patterns of what people ask me.

Once I’ve determined there is a significant interest in a particular topic that I want to teach, I then use all the questions related to that topic to guide the content creation of the product. I literally just answer all the questions people ask me and fill in any perceived voids with only what I consider to be “must know” information no one has asked me.

This In Action Right Now:

Over the past two years, I’ve been asked hundreds of questions about how to go from 0 to 60 as a business development professional and for specific anecdotes to really tough situations people often encounter. Things like how to:

  • How do I land that initial marquee partnership? Who should I approach first and how do I do that?
  • How do I stand out and win business if my industry is comodotized (i.e. digital agencies)?
  • How do I use direct response copywriting best practices to write insanely compelling cold emails that get responses?
  • How do I resurrect a conversation that just went dead on a deal I really want?
  • How do I get get buy in from top decision makers in large corporations?

All these questions is indicative of demand for a product that addresses how to handle all of these challenges.

…So I’m considering creating a product that does this and as well as share the best of everything I know about doing biz dev effectively. If you’re interested in taking a glimpse at this product and the mindset I use to create it, enter your email in this form.

Refine Pitches

When I was doing business development at SinglePlatform, I’d always record all the questions both prospects and partners would ask me.

I used this primarily to do two things:

  • formulate a rebuttal document so that I had a great answer to everything anyone would ever ask me
  • pre-emptively weave the optimal answer to any question I’d be consistently asked into my pitch in order to disarm prospects before they’d even have a chance to think of or ask a question (i.e. who are your competitors)

Create F.A.Q. for Everything to Save Time

We spend a lot of time answering the same questions over and over again. Using my demand understanding document to identify these instances, I’ll create some type of asset to point people to instead of repeatedly using my time to answer the same questions over and over again.

Real life manifestations of this:

  • The SP publisher onboarding document which answers all questions potential partners might have about working with us
  • Break Into Biz Dev: my online course on How to Get A Startup Biz Dev Job
  • Many, many blog posts and canned responses

Ideas for Blog Posts

For content on Life-LongLearner, I don’t write for myself.

I derive the greatest joy by helping others so I try to create things here that help people live happier, more productive lives. I accomplish this by writing about the things people ask me about, which I again, track and quantify in my demand understanding document.

Where do you think the idea for this post came from ; )


My Demand Understanding Document and the Exact Structure

In the 1st column I list the question someone asks me or a broad theme which implies a question.

In the 2nd column I list the person who asked that question’s contact information so that I can reach out to them for more information or to inform them of something I created which addresses their need….yep, this document also serves as a marketing tool to communicate with early adopters.

The third column is the date so that I can understand how salient that question is for a particular person.

important document

Muy Importante: How to Compel People To Ask You Questions

Because there is so much value in understanding your audience, you should intentionally do things that encourage people to ask you questions they have for you:

Places that you can do this:

1. At the welcome message of your email list

Here’s an example from my welcome message that everyone who subscribes to my blog sees:

important document 3

2. As part of a form or survey

Here is a example of this in a form I put together for anyone looking to go from 0 to 60 in business development.

important document 2

BTW if you’re looking to up your business development game, you should probably let me know the biz dev challenge your struggling with by clicking the image above so I can help you.

3. At the end of a presentation or pitch

[quote style=”1″]“So at this point, is there any questions you have for me”

“What else do you need to know from me before buying”

“Are there any questions that your team typically has to answer before making a decision like this”[/quote]

4. On social media

Here is an example of this from one of my favorite bloggers James Altucher.


One Way to Remember to Do This

If you can’t tell by now, I consider this document INCREDIBLY important to my ability to be successful in business.

A lot of people will probably read this, create the document, and then forget about it or never do anything with it. Sigh.

One way to prevent this is to bookmark the document and put it prominently in your browser so that it’s staring you in the face at all times. Here’s mine in Google Chrome:

Important Document 5


If you’ve never bookmarked an individual document before, just open the document and bookmark it like you would any page.

The Bottom Line

If you start keeping this document, you will never need to “think of ideas” for products or businesses. People will tell you the pain they need solved through the questions they ask you.

You’ll understand how to be  more persuasive with potential clients and customers, as well as know how to better serve existing ones because you’ll know exactly what they want.

You’ll be able to identify opportunities to create assets that can save you time so you can spend more time doing the things you love.

This is why I consider this my most important document.

Okay…I think you know what to do after reading this ; )


Do you have a unique document that you think most people don’t keep that provides a ton of value in your life or business? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.