This week’s episode features Hank Berkowitz. Hank specializes in helping people in the wealth management world put together campaigns that allow potential clients and present clients learn about what the wealth managers bring to the table. In today’s crowded world, too many businesses sound exactly the same. Hank helps firms look and sound different than the average firm.
He’s a great editor and has helped me over the years with some writing I did for a website that he was managing. I always appreciate his comments.
Today we’re going to talk about your online reputation and what you can do to make it easy for potential customers to find you and understand that you’re an authority in your world.
Here are some of the things we’ll be covering in this week’s episode:
- What is thought leadership content and why you should care.
- How to set yourself up as an authority on the subjects you are an expert in.
- How you can get things out of your brain and in a form that others can consume.
- The two ways you can use to illustrate your competence in what you do.
- How to start writing when you don’t know how to write.
Narrator: Welcome to The Sustainable Business Radio Show podcast where you’ll learn not only how to create a sustainable business but you’ll also learn the secrets of creating extraordinary value within your business and your life. In The Sustainable Business, we focus on what it’s going to take for you to take your successful business and make it economically and personally successful.
Your host, Josh Patrick, is going to help us through finding great thought leaders as well as providing insights he’s learned through his 40 years of owning, running, planning and thinking about what it takes to make a successful business sustainable.
Josh: Hey, how are you today? This is Josh Patrick and you’re at The Sustainable Business. Today, we’re going to talk about a little bit something different than we often talk about. We’re going to talk about what it takes for you to have a public presence where people can find you.
We have just the person to talk with us about this. His name is Hank Berkowitz. I first met Hank – gosh, I don’t know, a couple of years ago. He found me somehow and asked me to do some research some writing for a website that he was in charge of taking care of. I did so.
He’s a great editor. And as it turns out, he also knows a lot about what you need to be doing for people to find out who you are in business. So, instead of me just wandering on, which I have this bad habit of doing, let’s bring Hank in and we’ll find a little bit more about him as we have our conversation today. And today, we’re going to be talking about what you need to be doing to keep your presence in front of your clients and market in a way that’s not obnoxious.
So here he is. Hey, Hank, how are you today?
Hank: Josh, hey, thank you for having me on. It’s a real pleasure. Yeah, we go back a long way. I think, I first started noticing some of your upshot columns in the New York Times. And for many years, we’ve collaborated on business succession and wealth management articles for the Elite Advisor Forum and we’ve just kept the dialogue going ever since. It’s never seemed like work. It’s just a conversation, so we’ll just discontinue it today.
Josh: Well, that’s what I like. I like conversations. And one of my main things is to do interesting things with interesting people. That’s my personal mission statement. And you certainly fit that bill.
So, let’s talked about content marketing or content management. What would you like to call it?
Hank: Well, we try to use the term thought leadership content.
Josh: Okay. That’s a good one. I like that.
Hank: Yeah. Because it’s taking the high value and it can be anywhere from as complicated and heavy lifting as writing a book or more commonly an e-book to taking just a very short – not even a blog post, but even shorter than a blog. We call it taking the high road. And that’s just sharing a link to a mainstream article or broadcast clip that a majority of your audience, your clients, prospects, and followers will have seen. But instead of just saying, “Here FYI. Josh, read this.” It’s the link to the clip and saying, “Here’s where I think the Times, or the Journal, or CNBC got it right and here’s where I think they got it wrong.” So you’re doing a couple of favors for your recipient. You’re cluing them into something that relates to their daily problem or daily challenges.
But instead of just saying, “Hey, read this” which everyone’s too busy to do or “watch this.” It’s, “here’s what you need to look out for.” And before you hit the forward button and send it to your friends and colleagues, here’s why the headline could have been a little bit misleading. So that’s a very short example and we call it taking the high road.
Josh: So, with thought leadership, which I think is a really important thing. Wouldn’t you have to do your own writing or at least have your own content to be known as a thought leader?
Hank: Well, yes and no. First of all, the whole—I don’t even want to call it art, but the whole process of writing, Josh, as you probably know, it’s really just a matter of how do you get a great thought/an idea from your brain out into a medium/a channel so that you can share it.
So, in the old days, you started with stone tablets. And then it was quill pens and parchment. And then we eventually moved to typesetting and typewriters. And then, of course, you know, in the early computer age, it was the keyboard.
Okay. But I admit, hundreds of people—thousands of people who are really brilliant when I talk to them on the phone or when they speak in front of thousands of people. But if I ask them to keyboard, they freeze up. And the reverse, people are brilliant writing/typing it out. But gee, “would you come on a webinar or would you join me on a podcast like this?” They completely freeze up because “oh my God, people are actually going to record, or listen, or view everything I say.”
So, everyone has a different way of doing a brain dump – getting the great ideas out of their brain into the shareable space. So what we try to do at HB publishing and marketing is try to figure out the best way to get the brain–we call them thought nuggets, get those thought nuggets out of your brain and into your preferred channel so that the recipients of your great insights can not only consume them quickly but act on them.
Josh: So, what are the options? You know, I know about writing because I do a lot of blog writing and I write a newsletter. But what are the options that people have today when it comes to exhibiting that they actually know what they’re talking about?
Hank: Well, one of the easiest ways or most powerful ways, of course, is to share with your audience on your website and your social media – your clients, links to interviews or places where you’ve been quoted. You know, a publication, another blog or a website, an audio TV channel quoted you. So, as long as it’s of a trustworthy source – and in this day and age, that is a word you shouldn’t take lightly – a trustworthy source had cited you, Josh Patrick, as an expert on business succession plan. And then you share that with your centers of influence – your followers, clients and prospects.
The second way is putting together your own content. Again, it could be a short commentary on something that’s already out there. A short blog post, a short audio clip, or a short video, or a longer form thing like it looks and smells like an article, or then—people still do white papers these days, and moving up to an e‑book which is not just content on a digital page but it’s a relatively short publication – longer than a white paper. You know, 10, 20, 30 or 40 pages that has lots of links to future resources. Nobody reads footnotes these days anymore. So instead of just explaining some fairly technical material ad nauseam, you just address it and then provide a link to your website, or to another microsite, or to another repository of that information.
So, I guess, to summarize in a long-winded fashion is more and more these days, the consumer of your information is going on a nonlinear journey. Instead of starting at the beginning of the article or the book and going straight through to the end, they’re taking a lot of what we call value-added detours. Read a little, listen a little, watch a little, go to more, skip ahead, come back, share it, print it out, scribble on it,
Josh: I certainly do that myself.
Josh: I read books and I highlight them. If I really like them, I build a mindmap out of it.
Josh: And then I take the mindmap and then I create content out of that which I’ve been doing for over a thousand blogposts over the years. So, if I’m in a blue‑collar business, should I be concerned about thought leadership and having people find me online?
Hank: Yeah. I think, it doesn’t matter color what your collar is or what you think your collar is. Everybody wants to be a thought leader. It starts with putting the name of your company on your truck. And usually it’s not just Josh Patrick Landscaping but it’s oftentimes licensed, insured. And of course, putting signs on the lawn of the property and saying “licensed and insured”. It’s not just–
Whenever a local business in my area uses the word quality, as in quality roofing, quality masonry, quality landscaping – that’s not hype. That’s just trying to distinguish themselves from everybody else who’s doing it. That’s a very crude example of being a thought leader.
And the local business press or the local organizations often highlight a local business merchant or contractor who’s doing great work or innovative work, or who’s doing something for the community. And when they go on a job and estimate, they’re position themselves as the thought leader whether they’re doing the work themselves or have a team of subcontractors working for them.
Josh: So, I’m not a writer, I’m not a videographer, I’m not an audio engineer, how do I go about doing this stuff? I mean, you know, especially if I’m not a writer, and that’s where most people probably should start because it seems to be the easiest, at least from where I sit. But I’m not a writer, so how do I get stuff written?
Hank: Oh, well, that’s easy. Most people hate writing. It brings back bad memories of middle school English. I guess, the call it Language Art these days with my younger son.
But if you can speak into a telephone or you can dictate into your cellphone, your mobile phone while you’re driving, you’re a writer. It’s just getting the thoughts the way you and I are talking on this when I mentioned it – technology, because I will screw it up.
But if could speak into a phone or record into the little voice recorder on your mobile phone, you’re basically writing. And there are very inexpensive transcription services, or if you have an assistant where you work, they can transcribe the audio into something that looks and smells like the written word and you are a writer, or an author, or a blogger, or a columnist – whatever you want to call yourself, or a thought leader.
Josh: So, it really shouldn’t take all that much of your time to create some content to get it out in the world?
Hank: Right, it shouldn’t. And, you know, I always hate bidding or describing by the word, by the page or whatever. But like everything else in life, it’s 50% of the time to go 90 yards down the field, and then the other 50% of the time, to punch it over the goal line.
So, it’s very easy get close to the finish line but to really polish I and make it do what it’s supposed to do takes a little nuancing. So, I see so many breakdowns or, you know, three and outs, four and outs when you’re on the three-yard line and can’t punch it over the goal line. And that’s because some people of all stripes, and sizes, and ages have trouble with completion anxiety. And I’ll get to that in just a second. They don’t want to say it’s finished.
And then the second thing is people get so hung up on the headline or the words that they forget about why you’re doing this. So you’ve always got to go back to keeping the end in mind and what’s your call to action. So you’re not just sharing this great information but you’re trying to stimulate some type of transaction of information which eventually leads to a transaction of commerce when you share this thought leadership content. And that’s so much more powerful than just publishing an article, or sending out a blogpost, or saying, “Josh, FYI, read this.” You want the recipient to take some type of action – call you, e-mail you, set up an appointment, refer a friend – do something.
Josh: That’s really important. So, you know, when you mentioned “call to action” and you just described a bunch of them. So, what you’re saying is that every time you put a piece of content out there you have to be asking somebody to do something with that content or something about that content that might bring them into your process of learning more about what your company is. Does that make sense?
Hank: Right. That’s exact. And there’s a variety of ways to do it. And the number one thing you want to do is not come across as being too pushy or too sales-y. You want to make it easy for people to find do you but you want people to do as much as possible of the due diligence on you or your company – whether it’s a landscaping company, a masonry company, or doing neurosurgery or orthopedics. They want to know as much as they possibly can about you and your team before they actually commit to meeting with you, picking up the phone, calling you, e-mailing them your pain points. And so, you’ve got to make sure that your website, or your LinkedIn, or your Facebook page, or the resources on your website or wherever else they’re going to find you has as much of Josh Patrick story as possible before they actually take that really scary, bold step and actually contact you.
Josh: Yeah. I read some place that somewhere between 75% and 90% of the buying decision is made these days before people ever pick up the phone and have a conversation with you. Whether you’re doing an outbound or is it going inbound, your clients or potential customers are going to figure out who you are and if you’re the right type of person for them to work with before you ever have a conversation with them. And it seems to me that developing what they’re going to see, within your personality, is a really good thing to do.
Hank: Oh yeah. I forget where the source is, but those stats sound about right to me. And I was just talking to some trade association people not too long ago and they shared a similar statistic with their members’ survey. And 80% to 90% of the booths that someone sees when they come to one of your trade shows or exhibit halls, they already know before they set foot in the Airport who they’re going to see. Only 10% or 15% of the exhibits, the booths that they actually peruse are ones that they didn’t even know were going to be there, that they just go on happenstance or serendipity. It’s the same concept.
Josh: I can tell you, from my own experience in the vending business, when I was doing that, is that before we even went to the show, we sat down with our management team and decided who was doing what and who was going to talk to who. And we had made our appointments before we ever got on the plane. And the rest of the time, I was just talking to my friends and I had little interest in seeing what was new, probably to the chagrin of those exhibitors that spent an awful lot of money.
Josh: But it’s absolutely true about that.
Hank: The whole marketing—you know, the proverbial marketing funnel. I think the funnel still applies. You know, initial awareness to further learn, to purchase decisions. Now, there’s a couple more steps, you know, between those big three, probably, in this day and age. But I would say the shape of the funnel has changed. So much more goes on at the top of the funnel. There’s so much more pre-selling, pre-awareness that goes on before you actually get to that further learn phase.
Josh: Well, I actually have two. I have two things I think when I think about sales today. When I’m thinking about content marketing and thought leadership – that’s funnel stuff.
Hank: Oh, yeah.
Josh: But once they get down into the funnel, then they join my pipeline, once they become a qualified prospect. And I think that, if you’re in the sales world or you’re thinking about creating customers, the funnel is about creating awareness. The pipeline is about creating customers.
And that’s where thought leadership is so important. Thought leadership content, regardless of what shape, size or form it’s in. And you need to keep the heat on. You need to keep the dialogue going without calling up. I’m not going to call Josh Patrick every week, every Wednesday at 2 o’clock and say, “Hey, Josh, have you made your budget decisions yet for 2017?” That doesn’t work. It’s annoying.
Josh: Yeah, I really agree.
Hank: We’ve all been on the recipient end of it. We were all laughing. And many of us have done it on the pursuing end. It’s just like dating, you know? And nobody likes to be pestered but you also want to politely nudge them. So that’s why producing thought leadership content on a consistent basis – we call it a cadence, is so important. Weekly blogpost, monthly article, quarterly research piece or executive summary. Keep the heat on without being overly aggressive or too sales-y.
Josh: I was just going to ask you that. Perfect segue.
Okay, I’ve agreed I want to do thought leadership. I may not know what type I’m going to produce. How often do I need to do it?
Hank: Yeah. That’s always the $64,000-question. And I once brought that up at a big conference I attended and the woman running the panel said, “Well, if you’re over-communicating they’re going to let you know. They’ll tell you.” Or, in this day and age, they’ll start to opt-out and unsubscribe if it’s something you’re sending digitally.
So, I certainly wouldn’t start out with daily or multiple times a day communications. And I would say put yourself in the recipient’s shoes. You know, we’ve all shopped online. We’ve all attended whether webinars and conferences online. And think about how you feel when those organizations put you into their pipeline or what they call the nurturing cycle and think about the ones you really respect and the ones you don’t. And look to see or anecdotally how often do you like to be contacted – because a lot of times, if it’s daily or multiple times a day obviously, that’s an annoyance.
But a lot of times, if it’s once a week or just once a month, you stick it into your weekend reading pile – and when I say weekend reading pile, it could be an inbox that you have. And you mean to get around to it but you don’t. And I can bring that up and, statistically, a number of cases, I’ve worked for a number of our clients who publish things that look and smell like newsletters or blogposts. And about a week to two after we send the actual newsletter, blogpost, article out to our distribution list – the clients and prospects, you know, whatever we get on the open rate or the view-through rate, whatever it is. We send out the exact same thing again, two weeks later, to everybody who didn’t open to it. And we just say, in the subject line, “Did you miss?” And guess what, 40% or 50% of the people who ignored it the first time open it and engage with it the second time around. And it just goes to show they meant to get to but the real world got in the way and they didn’t get to it.
Josh: That makes perfectly good sense.
Now, here’s a question I have for you, Hank. A lot of people I work with tell me, “So, well, I can’t write that much. It’s too much work, blah, blah, blah, blah.” And we get past that and I finally convince them they need to do it. Then they say, “We’re going to do this quarterly.” I then tell them, “Well, don’t bother.” Would you agree with that or would you say that’s a wrong thing to do?
Hank: I think a quarterly something – if you can really do it, every quarter, a big picture, all encompassing something – a quarterly report. I’m just using very basic terms. Quarterly research finding, something that summarizes everything you’ve shared with your audience is great. But a quarterly with nothing in between, I think is like moving the clock back 20 years ago and—something, an annual report, you know? I think we all get annual reports from our various mutual funds – their investment companies and they come three or four months after the year’s already closed out. I don’t want to know why the portfolio was up or down 12% four months after the fact.
And when you send out a quarterly client communication, it’s got to have something big or ties in everything that’s gone on or that you’ve share with your audience. So again, quarterly in and of itself in a vacuum is probably a waste of time right now in this day and age. But quarterly as the big shebang to the end of all the weekly or biweekly pieces you’ve shared, I think, is a great anchoring technique.
Josh: Or even monthly.
Hank: Yeah, monthly.
Josh: I think, the least you should do is monthly. I happen to like weekly. It’s what I do. But I also publish three or four other things during the week that people can go and see if they want to. But I’m obsessed and you shouldn’t be doing what I’m doing necessarily.
Hank: Well, it’s not annoying if it’s good and it’s to the point. So you’ve obviously fell in it.
Josh: Well, again, most of the stuff, you have to go find. I don’t push it down your throat. Just my weekly e-mail’s a push. Everything else is a pull.
Hank: This might be a good time, just to interrupt with the importance of [inaudible 00:20:04] it’s called the editorial calendar, or the content calendar, or your content map. It’s really important. Without it, it’s like building a house without a blueprint or building a highway without a topography map. And it doesn’t mean, it has to be set in stone but it’s so helpful to have every month or every week, in the middle of every month, mapped out and what you’re going to talk about.
I prefer to go out at least six months. And, of course, the real world does revolve around its axis – things change. But at least if you know, here in mid-January, what you most likely to be talking about in April, and May, and June, you could start building little tickler files. You start sweeping stuff in. A great piece comes out now.
Let’s say you’re a CPA and a great piece comes out now but you want to wait for a month before tax deadline to send that out. You can start sweeping, you know, “last minute tax tips”. It’s not as good now in January but it’ll be great in March 15thy and you start sweeping it in. The next thing you know you’re never at a loss for things to talk about.
Josh: You know, Hank, we could probably continue this conversation on for a long time but unfortunately we are out of time. And I’m going to bet there are some people who want to contact you and have a conversation about what you do and how you help people do their editorial and become thought leaders. So, if somebody wants to contact you, how will they do that and what’s the best way to do that?
Hank: If you can’t do my website, just go to LinkedIn Hank Berkowitz B-E-R-K-O-W-I-T-Z. Hank Berkowitz on LinkedIn and it should be the Hank Berkowitz that has “thought leadership” right at the top of my profile. My company is HB publishing and marketing. That’s www.HB – as in Hank Berkowitz. www.HBpubdev – as in publishing development www.HBpubdev.com. Love to talk to you. Any friend of Josh Patrick’s is a friend of mine.
Josh: Well, Hank, thanks so much for spending some time with us today.
And I also have an offer for you. I have a one-hour audio CD. It’s called Success to Sustainability. It’s the five things you need to do to take your business and make it economically and personally sustainable for the long haul. It’s a one-hour audio CD course which you get to play in your car while you’re driving around. It’s really easy to get. All you have to do is take out your smartphone – not while you’re driving. But take out your smartphone and text SUSTAINABLE to 44222. That’s SUSTAINABLE to 44222. You’ll give us your address and we’ll mail out that free audio CD to you.
So thanks a lot for stopping by today. I really appreciate your time. This is Josh Patrick and you are at the Sustainable Business. I hope to see you back here really soon.
Narrator: You’ve been listening to The Sustainable Business podcast where we ask the question, “What would it take for your business to still be around 100 years from now?” If you like what you’ve heard and want more information, please contact Josh Patrick at 802‑846‑1264 ext 2, or visit us on our website at www.askjoshpatrick.com, or you can send Josh an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for listening. We hope to see you at The Sustainable Business in the near future.