In our chat, Rich Brooks talks about his exciting annual conference, Agents of Change, where Chris Brogan, Amy Porterfield, and Derek Halpern will all be speakers of note. He also goes in depth on specific things you can do today in your community to become the authority figure in no time.
Subscribe to EOFire
- Your Big Idea: Successful Entrepreneurs have One Big Idea. Follow JLD’s FREE training & you’ll discover Your Big Idea in less than an hour!
- “Luck favors the prepared.” – Edna Mode of The Incredibles
- There are simply too many… you’ll just have to listen!
Entrepreneurial AHA Moment
- Rich’s AHA moment has to do with an email opt-in form and its placement. He saw very interesting results from this crafty maneuver.
- Flyte New Media is moving away from design and into marketing… find out why.
- Rich adds a little sugar to the spice here.
Best Business Book
- Influence by Robert Cialdini
1) The Common Path to Uncommon Success: JLD’s 1st traditionally published book! Over 3000 interviews with the world’s most successful Entrepreneurs compiled into a 17-step roadmap to financial freedom and fulfillment!
2) Free Podcast Course: Learn from JLD how to create and launch your podcast!
3) Podcasters’ Paradise: The #1 podcasting community in the world!
Subscribe to EOFire!
John Dumas: Hire Fire Nation and thank you for joining me for another episode of EntrepreneurOnFire.com, your daily dose of inspiration. If you enjoy this free podcast, please show your support by leaving a rating and review here at iTunes. I will make sure to give you a shout out on an upcoming showing to thank you!
John Dumas: Okay. Let’s get started. I am simply thrilled to introduce my guest today, Rich Brooks. Rich, are you prepared to ignite today?
Rich Brooks: I’m ready! Let’s get this going.
John Dumas: [Laughs] Rich is joining me from Portland, Maine. He is the founder and president of flyte new media, which is a web design and marketing firm. He’s a nationally recognized speaker on entrepreneurship, Internet marketing and social media. He’s currently an expert blogger at Fast Company, which happens to be my favorite magazine, and a regular contributor at SocialMediaExaminer.com. He’s the founder of Agents of Change Digital Marketing Conference, which is an annual conference on search, social and mobile marketing.
Okay. I’ve given a little overview, Rich. Why don’t you tell us a little more about who you are and what you do?
Rich Brooks: Well, I think you summarized it pretty good. As you mentioned, I’ve been president of flyte new media. We’re now 15 years old, which is a long time for an Internet marketing company to be around. We started off just doing the design, and then kind of developed into more of the marketing side as people started asking me questions like, “How do we get found in AltaVista?” Which of course always dates me because a lot of people don’t even remember AltaVista.
So then I started to figure out search. Then somebody sent me this email with all these pretty pictures and says, “How do I do this?” So then we got into email marketing. Then somebody was a big fan of John Dean, the former presidential candidate. He had started a blog and they’re like, “I want to start a blog!” So I had to figure that out. So suddenly, we’re doing blogging. Then more recently, social media, and then webinars and then mobile. So the company just continues to evolve to be able to take on new ways that people can reach out to their customers, increase serviceability and generate more leads online.
Then more recently, I got involved with this – or I started up actually – the Agents of Change Digital Marketing Conference, which you mentioned. This is the first year of the conference. It’s going to be a big conference here in Portland, Maine, but there’s also going to be this global component of it where anybody from all over the world can tune in and watch the entire live stream of the event, and then also go back and watch not just all the big room stuff, but also the different breakout sessions. So I’m very excited and a little nervous about that event coming up.
John Dumas: Well, it is going to be a great event, I can say. I’m very excited. I’ll be attending it myself. Two of your keynote speakers, Amy Porterfield and Derek Halpern are both upcoming guests on the show. So we’ll make sure to bring up their upcoming speaking event with you.
Rich Brooks: Excellent! Those guys are both super smart, super interesting, and they’ve just got great stories to tell. I’ve seen them present a number of times, which is one of the reasons I reached out to them and asked them if they’d be part of this event.
John Dumas: Yes. Down at BlogWorld in New York City this summer, they both just knocked it out of the park. I was able to see them both live there. So I’m excited for a repeat performance up here for sure.
Rich Brooks: Great! We’re all looking forward to it.
John Dumas: Awesome! So here at EntrepreneurOnFire, we start every show off with our guest’s favorite success quote. It’s kind of our way of getting the motivational ball rolling, so to speak. So Rich, why don’t you give us your favorite success quote?
Rich Brooks: Mine is “luck favors the prepared” as uttered by Edna Mode from the movie, The Incredibles. I have to imagine that this is an homage to Louis Pasteur’s original quote, which is roughly translated as “chance favors the prepared mind.” Although I just like Edna’s because it’s so much more tight. Luck favors the prepared. It’s very apropos.
John Dumas: Plus, it was set on the big screen, which is always a good thing.
Rich Brooks: Exactly. It was between that and “no capes!” for my favorite quote.
John Dumas: [Laughs]
Rich Brooks: But I just that it was more appropriate for the show. Luck favors the prepared.
John Dumas: Well, that’s a great quote. Now, can you give us one example of how you actually apply this quote or the meaning of this quote to your everyday life?
Rich Brooks: Sure. I think it really just comes down to – I mean a lot of people say, “Oh, he’s lucky or she’s lucky.” I’m sure that it seems that way from the outside, but what I found is every day, we have an opportunity to be lucky. The bottom line is are you ready for that opportunity? Are you prepared? So if there’s something that I care about, and of course right now Agents of Change is eating up my entire life. So it’s first and foremost in my mind.
John Dumas: Right.
Rich Brooks: So this event. I’m nervous. This is my first time putting on a conference by myself and it’s a big conference. There’s a lot of visibility here. There’s a lot of things that can go wrong. I try not to worry too much about that. All I try and do is every day, I try and think of the things that might go wrong, and fix them, be prepared for them so that everything will go as smooth as it possibly can.
So that’s the way I try and do everything that I do. If I know, for example, because one of the other things that I often do is I do these little segments as the tech expert on 207, which is an evening news program here in Maine. They’re five minute segments. I literally could go in and I could probably do them in my sleep by now, but I never do.
I always say it’s like even though it’s five minutes and even though sometimes it’s a silly topic like couponing websites online, or I’m going to do one tomorrow on video apps for the iPhone, I always spend an inordinate amount of time preparing for this so I can do as good a job as possible because people are only going to see you for that five minutes. Whether you put in five minutes to prepare for it or three hours, it doesn’t matter. They’re going to see that one moment in time, and the more prepared you are, the better you are going to look and the more trust and faith that they’ll have on you.
I’ve had this happen where I’ve done a segment on 207. We did a segment about tweetups, which are these get togethers. Twitter in real life, I can them. A woman saw me on the show, and she ended up calling me up and said, “I watched you on TV. It seems like you know what you’re doing. I want to do business with you,” and we ended up building a website I’m doing some web marketing for. This was just based on me preparing for a seemingly unrelated topic on an evening news program. Always overprepare for these moments where the world, or at least part of the world, is going to be able to see you.
John Dumas: Well, that was a great example, Rich. Thank you for that. Let’s transition now to our first actual topic, which is failure. Here at EntrepreneurOnFire, we delve into the journey of our spotlighted entrepreneur – you. For all entrepreneurs, somewhere in your journey lies failure. So take us back. Tell us about a failure that you have had in your journey, and the events that led up to that failure.
Rich Brooks: Alright. Well, here’s the thing. I haven’t had that classic complete failure in front of everybody. I mean I’m sure I have, but I’ve so successfully blocked it, that I can’t come up with it right now. I have a few festering failures that I could share with you right now, and maybe somebody can learn something from this. God knows I still need to learn from this.
I would say that maybe my biggest one is that I have a team just by myself. I have a team of people. Sometimes I feel that I’m not letting them be as awesome as they could possibly be. That I’m not setting them up for success the way that I should be. I think that comes down to because I’m a self-starter, I assume everybody else is going to be the exact same way.
John Dumas: Right.
Rich Brooks: So what I continue to struggle with is setting up goals and expectations and rewards as clearly as possible. That’s really something that I think any entrepreneur who is a leader who’s in charge of other people and the outcomes that those people have need to work on, and something I need to work on, and I continue to strive to work on that.
Like saying to an employee, “Okay. I expect that you’re going to be working from this hour to this hour,” if that’s important to you. “I expect that you’re going to finish this project within these many hours. I expect that there’s going to be no errors or only two errors. I expect that you’re going to follow up.” Whatever it is, here’s my vision for how the job should be accomplished. Not necessarily how you’re going to get there every step of the way, but this is what I expect from you.
Then if you have problems, then come and see me. But when you’re all done, this is what I expect to be able to see out of this. Be very clear on that. That’s something that I’m trying to get better at, but it’s still in my opinion because part of my job as president of flyte is to be a leader and to lead by example. This is something that I would definitely say is one of my biggest failures.
John Dumas: Okay. Well, that’s great to be able to acknowledge that and to be working daily to move forward towards that. So I look forward to continuing to hear how that process you’re implementing is improving your overall business because that’s what we’re all about here.
Rich Brooks: Sure. Maybe in a year or so, you’ll have me back. We’ll talk about how I become the most amazing leader.
John Dumas: [Laughs] I look forward to that. We’re going to continue onwards. At some point, as you were evolving into an entrepreneur and you were moving forward and you were trying some different things, you had an aha moment of sorts where a light bulb went on and you just said, “This is something that can work. I want to move forward in this direction.”
Tell us about that. Really dig deep about the events leading up to it. How you identified that aha moment and the actions that you took to actually turn that into what you now have – a viable business.
Rich Brooks: Yes. Great question. I definitely had a number of these aha moments, but there is one that really kind of frames the rest of where my business has gone. So I’ll talk about that one.
John Dumas: Great.
Rich Brooks: It was basically about the value of creating compelling content to engage an audience. This is how I kind of discovered this. Like I’ve always written articles. In part because when I first started, I had a lot more time than money. So I would just start writing articles to my new clients about what they could be doing on the web.
One of the early articles I wrote was called “10 questions to ask before setting up a website.” One day, I’m playing around on this new search engine that was all visually-based. So I’m just kind of watching it. It’s fun. It’s like it’s a spider web and you’re just going through. Then all of a sudden, I see this article that’s attached to my name somehow. So I clicked over to it and I see that the U.S. government, the official organization for import and export, has taken one of my articles – this 10 questions to ask – and published it as if they wrote it themselves.
John Dumas: Wow!
Rich Brooks: What they changed was they took out all of my funny jokes, and they were pretty funny. It’s as dry as humanly possible and they publish this. Then I found out that a number of their statewide organizations had also published it, giving credit back to the national organization.
So on one hand, I was a little bit flattered. I was also a little bit pissed. I did call up my brother who’s a lawyer in Boston. I asked him to frame a cease and desist letter and asked them to take it down, which they did. But what I also realized was if somebody was going to steal from me, steal my content, there was obviously some value behind it. You don’t steal something that has no value.
So I took that article – and it was quite old at this point – and I rewrote it. Then instead of just putting it back on the web, what I did is I decided to use it as what I call “email bait.” In other words, to get you to sign up for my email newsletter, I’m going to give you something of value. So instead of just having you join my mailing list, I said download the free article “10 New Questions to Ask Before Setting Up a Website,” and I had it configured that once you confirmed your email, that you would get this article.
Before that moment, I would get two to three subscribers a month for things like join our mailing list or get free tips for your website. I now get over 200 new subscribers every month using articles like this one.
John Dumas: Wow!
Rich Brooks: I still use that one on my website. I have another one on my blog called “The 11 Biggest Mistakes Small Business Bloggers Make.” Then I’ve tried some others as well over the years. That was the beginning for me. That kind of opened up the door where I realized, few people are really interested in learning a lot about web design or Internet marketing. They’re looking for information. They don’t care about my company. They care about their own problems. By creating content that’s of value to them, you can build your business.
That’s true in almost every business and every industry in the entire world, is by educating your customer, don’t worry about them going off and doing it themselves. Most people are too busy or too lazy to do that. You’re establishing your expertise, and yet not everybody’s going to choose to do business with you. But as you establish your expertise and your credibility, more and more people, and the right type of people, will be attracted to do business with you and your company.
That was a huge aha moment for me that literally has dictated everything we’ve done since then. Whenever I learn to do something that I think is valuable as a small business owner, I turn around and I blog about it, or I do a webinar about it or I tweet about it. I share it and I educate. I create videos about it.
That helps me build my brand, build awareness for flyte new media, as well as Agents of Change and some of the other things that I do because people just want the answers, and then they start to see the branding that goes around the answers. Then the next thing you know is they’re filling out your contact form or they’re picking up the phone.
John Dumas: Okay. You have a lot of these different areas of expertise that you are really putting yourself out there, especially in the local community, as well as in the Internet community. Let’s go through a couple of them because you do this tech show on the news station, Channel 6, here. You also do the tweetups. You’re running a local conference that’s welcoming everybody to Agents of Change. You’re running flyte new media. You’re being everywhere. Is that something that’s really just a goal of yours to really be everywhere and to encompass everybody?
Rich Brooks: It is definitely not my goal to be everywhere. I know that that’s a goal – it is my goal to increase my visibility among people who I might help or touch in their lives. That’s certainly something I enjoy doing, and I like to present. For me, a lot of it comes down to – this sounds more altruistic than it actually is – it’s to help people.
John Dumas: [Laughs]
Rich Brooks: I like to find solutions. That’s a very selfish thing, actually. It’s because I get great joy out of being able to take somebody’s problem and find the right – usually technological or marketing solution for it. So I get a real joy out of it. When I hear of altruism, I sometimes question that. I enjoy that and I feel good after I’ve done that sort of thing. So I like to be in front of people and I like to share ideas that have worked for me, and so I think they might work for you. So yes, I guess that’s part of it.
Then the tweetups that you mentioned, which is a networking event, those started in part to raise my visibility and my company’s visibility, but at this point, I know most of those people, and they all know me. So I’m not really getting much out of it except the enjoyment of hanging out with some people who I genuinely like.
207, which is the evening news, that was just luck. But I do know that when people see you more often – there’s been studies done – when people see you out there, that definitely increases your credibility. These kind of things increase their trust. They’re seeing you more often. There’s a certain amount of social proof that’s involved there.
So I’m aware of these things, but my goal is definitely not to be everywhere all the time. I don’t think you need to be that person to succeed as an entrepreneur, but we do live in a world that is very connected, that does rely on a certain amount of social proof. This happens to me every day. I get requests from people who want me to do things for them or get involved with some organization they’re part of, or they want me to speak somewhere. Usually, before I even respond, is I just do a little research into this person. If I can’t find them or find that they’re doing anything interesting or visible, I definitely discount them, just because I’m really busy.
So I think if you are looking to really build your business and awareness, I think you do have to be open to the idea of being in front of groups of people. Obviously, you’ve got this great new podcast you’re doing. That’s going to be one way in which you can raise your own visibility. Podcasts aren’t the only way to do it, but they’re a good way. I’ve met with you, John, and you are an incredibly passionate guy, and you’re very excited about entrepreneurship. You’ve got something to share. I think if you’ve got something to share, you want to scream it from the rooftops.
Quite honestly, listening to you list all the things that I do, and you didn’t even mention I’m also married with two kids, I got exhausted just listening to that. So I think you need to find that balance. So it’s got to be about I’m not trying to be everywhere. I’m not trying to do everything, but I am out there trying to increase the value that myself and my company offers to Maine and to small businesses because those are the two areas that we really focus on.
John Dumas: That’s great. I actually had a wonderful conversation yesterday with Caleb Wojcik of ThinkTraffic. One thing that he really hit upon that I heard a couple of minutes ago while you were going on was the fact that he really focuses on the people that reach out to him. He makes sure that it’s a relationship he actually wants to move forward with because he knows the value of saying no, so he can focus his time, so he’s not being pulled everywhere. He’s not being pulled in five different directions. Do you go through similar vetting techniques when people are reaching out to you to “do stuff for them” and to help them build their brand, etcetera?
Rich Brooks: Absolutely, and I think saying no is one of the most liberating feelings you can possibly have. You learn things. You learn this over the years because when you first start out, you’re hungry, and you will basically take on just about any sort of job with any sort of person. But as you have more experience, you start to see these red flags early. Like there are just certain things where somebody will say, “Well, I have this current website. It was done by this programmer. I can’t get in touch with him. Can you just take it over?” That’s a big no. I’ve learned the hard way. You can never take over somebody else’s custom programming job. If they couldn’t get it to work, how will I suppose to get it to work without a manual?
Also, when somebody tells you that they’ve gone through three or four web designers and they’re all jerks, that’s also a red flag. These are the kind of things you just start to get a sixth sense for after a while. We do have exceptions to the rule. We know what we need to make to be a profitable company, but there are times when I will go down on price because I feel very passionate about what you’re doing as a business and I want to get involved with that because I love what you’re doing and I want to be part of it.
Generally, we do have our rules in terms of who we want to take on and who we want to work with. I’ve been asked, like do you work only with certain industries? No. In fact, we work with a number of nonprofits, and causes and organizations as well. In fact, we do quite a bit of business with MaineHealth. But what we do ask is that people are entrepreneurial in their mindset because nonprofits need to be entrepreneurial these days to succeed anyway.
John Dumas: Absolutely.
Rich Brooks: So they need to be like, whether they’re trying to get their message out or they’re trying to increase their membership, they need to be thinking in creative ways. Right now, where things are changing the most, are in the areas of basically digital marketing and digital media, which goes back to the whole idea of search, social and mobile. These are areas where if you’re looking to really expand using these channels, I want to be there to help you. If you just want a five-page website, I may not be the right company for you.
John Dumas: “Liberating to say no.” I like that. I just wrote it down. So thank you for that. We’ve gone into a failure of yours. We’ve also gone into how you’ve had an aha moment and how you’ve driven that aha moment forward into really shaping your business as it stands right now. I know we’ve gotten really into Agents of Change, and that’s a very exciting conference that’s coming up. Above and beyond that, what are two tasks that are occupying a majority of your day?
Rich Brooks: Well, these days – right now because it’s evolved over the years – these days, I would say number one is probably marketing my company and that of my clients’ companies. So a lot of that is blogging. A lot of that is creating YouTube videos, tweeting and Facebook, LinkedIn. Using social media and optimizing search is a big part of my day. Then turning around and using that as a tool to educating other businesses on how to do that.
Then the other thing is – and I can’t lose track of this – is actually running my business in terms of getting new business. Even though my wife is now – who works with me – is now handling most of the inbound leads that we get, I’m still writing up a lot of the proposals and work agreements for the jobs we get because at the end of the day, we’re still a web design and Internet marketing company, and I can’t forget that that’s actually what pays the bills.
Even though I would love to just go off and write and share and educate all the time, right now, our money comes from designing and building effective websites, and then helping clients make those websites optimized for the search engines, and then teaching them how to use blogging and video and social media to further improve their visibility and their lead generation techniques. So the proposals and the work agreements, that’s a big part of it. Of crafting the projects that will end up helping these businesses grow.
John Dumas: Do you have a vision of where you see flyte moving into in the future? Is that vision different than where you’re currently moving towards today, or is this something that you are just consistently moving towards, you have your mission down and you’re taking a step forward in that direction?
Rich Brooks: There are things that change all the time. There are certain technologies or social media platforms that come out that may change my tactics from a day-to-day or a week-to-week or even a month-to-month thing. But the general overall theme – I mean our tagline is we don’t build websites. We build businesses. That’s always been in it. So if it can be delivered over digital media, we want to be there to help.
So that hasn’t really changed, but what that means has changed. So for example, as I was telling that story before about how I started off doing websites, but then we got into search, and then into email marketing, and then into blogging and social media, and now webinars. Then more recently, mobile. I really feel that even though people talk a good game about mobile, not enough businesses – including ours – are doing enough about it.
The fact that so many of us walk around with smartphones all the time, so many business people do. They’ve got their iPhones or their droids or what have you, and they’re using them constantly, but then if you look at their own websites, they’re not ready for the mobile revolution.
So this is something where right now we’re talking to our clients about making sure that their website is mobile-friendly, and whether or not they should have an app and all those sorts of things. So a few years ago, I wasn’t as concerned about mobile as I am right now, and I’m sure there’ll be other things that come up. I mean I never would have thought that Twitter or Facebook would have been part of our business model a few years ago. But here we are and we’re spending quite a bit of time on Facebook and Twitter.
So there’s an overwhelming mission that’s not going to change as far as I can see it right now, but that mission has to be flexible enough that especially in an industry like ours where things are constantly in flux, that it’s got to be flexible enough that I say, “Okay. We need to spend more time on doing design work around social media and mobile, and we need to make that shift today.”
John Dumas: Which is just why the name “Agents of Change” is so fitting.
Rich Brooks: As soon as I said it out loud, I’m like, “And we have our name.” I had done a similar conference before and I wasn’t going to be able to use that name again, and there were things I wanted to add. We had done a social media conference and I’m like, “I love social media, but search doesn’t get the recognition it deserves. And mobile, nobody’s paying attention to. These are the three agents of change.” So once that phrase came up, I’m like, boom! We’re done. I know exactly what I want this conference to look like and to sound like and to be about.
John Dumas: Perfect. Well, we are now entering the last five minutes of the interview. What I like to call the Lightning Round. It’s very exciting. We have five questions. Going at quick, each question about 60 seconds at the most, let’s just launch into this right now.
Rich Brooks: Alright. I’m ready.
John Dumas: What was the number one thing that was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur?
Rich Brooks: When I was growing up, I had no idea about being an entrepreneur. I didn’t even know what the word meant. I mean I was reading like The Communist Manifesto in high school. I mean I had no idea about capitalism. I just assumed businesspeople were dull, boring people because all the businesspeople I knew were dull, boring people. So partially, it was the idea that you couldn’t be creative in business.
Once I realized that creating a business is creativity, then I became fascinated by it. So then to create something that actually can help other businesses grow and other people succeed, that really just kind of got rid of that roadblock for me.
John Dumas: What is the best business advice you ever received?
Rich Brooks: Okay. The best business advice I ever received was just you have to trust your gut. I got this advice while I was working for my previous company. We were doing medical sales. For a Christmas party my boss had hired a psychic, and she literally looked – same size, same shape as the psychic from the movie Poltergeist.
She was telling all these people – like everybody else was getting premonitions like, oh, you’re going to be pregnant in six months or you’ll find a new job in a year, which is always a weird thing to do when you’ve been hired by a company to do this, but whatever. For me, she just kind of touches my forehead and says, “You don’t trust your gut. You’re always overruling with your head and not your problem, and you will not be successful until you start trusting your gut.”
That literally changed me. In the basement of my ex-boss, that this diminutive psychic was telling me this sort of stuff and it made such a huge impact on my life. That was the moment where I said, you know what? It’s okay to fail, as long as you’re failing doing something that you love and that you believe in. That’s the big difference, because if you’re going to fail while you’re not doing what you believe in, that is a complete waste of time.
John Dumas: Let’s go into what is something that’s working for you right now in your business. You’ve touched upon a bunch of things, but let’s just pull one thing specific that’s really working well for you right now.
Rich Brooks: I’m just going to go back to the marketing aspect of it. It’s what I feel strongest in. I’m really focusing on search and social right now, and mobile down the road, but marketing both my business through creating compelling content that attracts my customers, and then teaching my customers to do the same thing for their customers. I would say that’s probably having the best positive effect.
Obviously, we’ve had this really long bad economic run, and I’ve seen a lot of other companies struggle, and we’ve struggled as well, but we’ve really minimized the problems that the outside economy has had on us by constantly being out there and marketing and educating our clients on how they can be successful in any economy.
John Dumas: Marketing, marketing, marketing. I love it! So I’m kind of curious about this next question with what you’ve previously said about some of the books that you’ve read as a child. What would you say is your go-to book right now that you’ve read within the last six months that you would recommend to our listeners?
Rich Brooks: Well, I just finished reading it for the second time. It might be seven months, but I’m going to go with this one anyway. It’s Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Dr. Robert Cialdini. It breaks down what he calls the six weapons of influence. I’ve always liked where psychology and marketing meet. I almost was a psychology major. This book really breaks it down. Of course you can use these techniques for evil as well. I choose not to.
It’s fascinating the way that people have an inordinate amount of persuasion over us, and also how we can help people get what they want to accomplish if we can use these tactics as well. I think it’s the number one business book out there as far as I’m concerned. I’ve read it twice. I’ve written seven blog posts about it. It’s just essential reading for anybody who considers themselves to be a marketer.
John Dumas: I love it. It’s incredible how every example he uses is so true to our everyday life. This last question is definitely my favorite. It’s kind of a tricky one. You can take a couple of seconds. Breathe before you answer, however you want to approach it.
If you woke up tomorrow with all the experience and knowledge that you currently have today, but your business, flyte, had completely disappeared. It was gone, but you still had every amount of experience and knowledge that you currently have right now, and you had to start somewhere brand new from scratch. Where would you start?
Rich Brooks: It is a good question. I guess what I would do is I would probably go full force into the stuff that today, makes me the happiest, which is to educate small businesses and entrepreneurs about the tactics and strategies that they need to increase their online visibility or their digital visibility. So it wouldn’t be that dissimilar. I probably wouldn’t be dealing with the design and development of websites as much anymore, except maybe to work with a company that offers that, because it’s definitely something I personally have done less of. I’ve hired a great team to do that.
Since I don’t have this team in this imaginary world where there is no flyte, I’d probably focus more on just building up that aspect of it. Then also, because I need to get paid at some point, I’d focus on creating multiple streams of revenue through knowledge-based products. So I would have e-books and maybe a book as well. I would have a paid video service.
There’d be a lot of things that people could get for free, but then there’d also be something more that they would be willing to pay for, assuming that I was able to create the content that would help somebody enough that they would be willing to pay a one time fee or a monthly fee. I think that that’s a great way to go.
Then I just associate myself and partner with amazing people. People with passion who have a skills set that does not overlap with my own, and we’d work together on some really fun, interesting projects.
John Dumas: Okay. Let’s just break this down real quick, and it does have to be real quick. A lot of our listeners find themselves in this situation where they are looking to start from potentially scratch. So if you are going to be going forward with what you’re saying, what would be your first step? Would it be create a website?
Rich Brooks: My first step would probably be to create a brand. Before I even started with the website, I have a general sense of what I want to create.
John Dumas: Right.
Rich Brooks: Find the right people to partner with. There are so many talented people out there right now who are doing freelance or who are underemployed, or just looking for some extra time. You can find these people. I’ve found a number of people locally. Like the guy who does my illustrations, Josh Fisher, for my Agents of Change conference.
Once I have that, yes. I’d start a blog/website. I think these days, they’re basically the same thing. Like you, I might think about a podcast. It depends if I liked talking and interviewing and people like that. People ask me a lot of times, “Where do I start? Do I buy a list?” I never recommend buying a list.
I would create something of value. I’d give it away for free in exchange for an email. I’d start building my list. The most valuable thing you have right now in this economy is your list, in my personal opinion, but only if it’s an opt-in list that you have that you have developed. So it’s about getting those people to sign up for something so that you can then turn around and continue to help them.
Then when you have something to sell, then you can start to sell. But these days if you start to sell too quickly, or if you start to be too pushy, people will back away and you’ll lose them forever. So it’s got to be a very delicate So it’s got to be a very delicate balance. It’s definitely a dance that you have to do with your ideal customers.
John Dumas: Awesome stuff, Rich. Why don’t you just give us one more way to get to the Agents of Change conference via virtually or in person, and then we’ll sign out.
Rich Brooks: Sure. Well, if you can go to the website, AgentsofChangeCon.com – C-O-N for conference – AgentsofChangeCon.com, you’ll get all sorts of information. Remember, for people who are listening who can’t make it to Portland, Maine in September, the bottom line is you can watch the entire thing online. You should act now as prices are a little bit lower than they will be leading up to the conference.
John Dumas: For those people who will listen to this interview post-Agents of Change, will they be able to access the virtual conference online as well?
Rich Brooks: That’s a great question. They should go to the website and find out. I haven’t made the final decision on whether or not we’re going to make it accessible to people who didn’t buy it beforehand. If they miss out on that, they should just go to flyte.biz and come check me out and connect, and I’m sure there’ll be Agents of Change 2013 as well.
John Dumas: Rich! Well, listen. Thanks again. We will definitely all do that, and catch you on the flipside.
Rich Brooks: Thanks, John.