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MDH 60 Rocky Buckley | The Power Persona Project

MDH 60 Rocky Buckley | The Power Persona Project

 

How can you maintain a thriving business? Sometimes, you can’t just stick to what you’ve been doing when it’s not working anymore. You have to recognize that it needs fundamental changes. For more than 20 years, Rocky Buckley has been helping publishing companies in creating and selling products through books, courses, training by working with authors and experts. After that, he realized that he could do more by creating The Power Persona Project, which aims to reinvent organizations’ brands, strategies, and business models to achieve better results. Tune in to learn how he created the new business where he’s the public figure for the first time.

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Reinventing Your Brand, Strategy, And Business Model Through The Power Persona Project With Rocky Buckley

In every episode, I try to come up with problems that a lot of us, small businesses, owners face and bring in experts that can help us guide us through that. The problem here that I want to address is that many small business owners don’t even realize that you do need to build a personal brand. People have to like and trust you before they will buy anything. Building a personal brand is the fastest way to gain some traction, growing your business and positioning your brand as the next thing.

How do we do that as small business people? We all are tasked with many things to do and there are many competing needs for our funds. I thought I would invite an expert in this area. His name is Rocky Buckley. We are going to have him go right into this and tell us a little bit about how he came about becoming the expert in this field of building The Power Persona Project. He is the creator of it. He is also the creator of a program called Gold Platinum by reinventing its brand strategy and business model. Welcome to the show, Rocky.

Thanks for having me.

You have helped thousands of companies build their brands and create their premium branding in the minds of the consumer or clients. You are trying to help the smaller businesses or newer entrepreneurs to go on the same path without their hundreds of millions of dollars. Tell us a little bit about how you came about being this expert on how you help people.

I wouldn’t say I have helped thousands of companies. I started in the business years ago. I worked with some of the biggest publishing companies in the world. I helped them to create a lot of products. Over that time, I was working with authors, experts and people like that. I was helping them to extract their expertise and put that into products whether that was books, courses, curriculum or training. I did that for a long time.

I helped those companies to bring these products into the market. I helped these experts and authors to stand out and sell their knowledge. I did that for a long time. I got to know that process inside and out from being an author myself to developing all sorts of different training online and offline in thousands of products for that year.

During that time, I was completely behind the scenes. I was somebody who was primarily operating as a consultant. I was like a secret weapon for a lot of these companies. I would be brought in and help them to get done what they wanted to achieve. Over that time, I had never been in front of a camera. I had never been somebody who was that public. I had a very small social following, which was mainly family, friends and people like that because my business was completely behind the scenes.

As I started getting around that twenty-year mark in business and getting to a certain age, I started realizing that there’s a lot more that I want to do. I realized that I was sitting on a lot of untapped potential within myself and the expertise that I had. I started to go through this journey of reinvention. I decided at a certain point, “I’m going to transition out of this business that I have built for twenty-something years and been successful at. I’m going to create a different business where I would become a public figure for the first time. I would bring myself out in front of the camera.”

I had to go through a journey of exploration. What did that mean? How did I stand out? How did I differentiate myself? How did I position myself properly? Also, how did I extract my expertise and turn that into products, programs and training? That was the path that I went on. It was more about, at some level, dissatisfaction with the kind of business that I had built. I realized that there was a lot more potential for me to do something more fulfilling that tapped into what I was passionate about, my gifts and talents. The question became, “How do I put all that together and build that into something?”

You can grow up without any real frame of reference in business and still pursue establishing one.

Interestingly, you say that because a lot of people go the other way with their products and expertise. They have done things such as creating their social proof and yet they don’t have a book. Some people do it the other way. They’ll find out that when they write the book and the book gets traction, then you can come full circle too. I come from a retail background where when you are on TV and you have six seconds at a time to try to convince people that you are an expert, why they need the product and why they need that product, it comes down to helping the customer understand who you are, that you are authentic and there’s a person behind the brand.

There was the power of the persona. Years ago, when you started, it wasn’t always so that people bought because they understood who the founder was, the genesis of the product or a program. Nowadays, that’s a must. Look at the Millennials. You are probably a Millennial yourself even though you say you are twenty years old. Millennials are going out of their way to buy things from a smaller company. They almost take pride in, “There’s this cute little company that does watches or protein bars,” whatever it is. They find reasons why they can connect with you.

Even though they don’t have money, they’ll pay more money to buy from somebody that they connect with, that they believe is good for society, good for you and looking out for you. Your timing is perfect. I understand that this was a long-year journey in terms of gaining knowledge, talents and putting them all together. You have helped bring out a few 100 or 1,000 people bring their ideas and products to life, see the birth and growth of that. You almost had like a petri dish for all these ideas, incubated and watching them from the sidelines.

Someone like yourself who has seen diverse categories, expertise and then different stages of businesses, whatever you have to say here would be very valuable to someone who hasn’t gone through that journey. When a small entrepreneurial starts a business, typically, they are busy trying to make profits, more sales versus expenses or they have some profit and they are busy doing that. They forget that without building a brand, without having your product stand for something and having that person who’s founded this company to be the person behind the product and the reason behind why you should connect with them, that’s a tough road.

That’s what we all do. First of all, I will refer back to something that Michael Gerber talks about in his book, The E Myth. Most people start their businesses as a technician. That’s somebody good at what they did. They wanted to be their boss. At some point, they decided to hang out a shingle and start working. That’s exactly what happened to me too. I grew up without any real frame of reference in business. Nobody in my family was in business. When I first started, my drivers were to be my own boss, make more money and do things like work from home. I wanted to be a very hands-on dad with my kids. Those were the motivators.

I never thought about business from the standpoint of playing the long game. It was much more about like, “How do I get the business?” If you are good at what you do, which I was, I got busy right away. I stayed busy. I never got a chance to think all that strategically about my business and especially about me, “How do I differentiate?” I was learning all this stuff because I was doing things for clients. I was creating books, programs, curriculum but also online websites and their marketing campaigns. I would find that as I was working with clients, they often didn’t know how to articulate who they were and what they were doing.

If somebody hired me to do web development for them, design their whole web package and so on, I would have to get things like images from them or write copy for them. To go through that process, I had to extract out of them the things like, “What do you believe in? What are your values? Why do you do what you do?” They often didn’t know. When you are trying to do things like design work, a logo, look or style, they can’t articulate it. What led me into marketing was that I had to help my clients figure themselves out. It’s such a tremendous need for small business owners who get busy and learn a lot of things online from gurus.

The gurus are teaching them tactics, silver bullet-like, “Do this.” They get tactical right away and start taking a lot of action. At some point, they start realizing, “This isn’t connecting or resonating. I’m doing Facebook Lives. I’m putting out all these posts. I’m dancing on TikTok. Nothing’s hitting the mark.” That’s where I come in and try to help people figure themselves out. That’s the foundation of all the tactics. If you figure yourself out well, that’s when the strategies and tactics work out but it often has to be done from the inside out.

You brought up a good point that there are so many mastermind classes. Some gurus teach you how to do what they know how to do. A guru might be a digital marketing specialist and your business might be a brick-and-mortar store that could use online as an add-on. I had this conversation with somebody else that, “The only way you can build your persona is when you understand what it takes to do that.” Whether you are at the beginning stages of a journey, maybe you are starting a side hustle and thinking like, “This could be a permanent job,” or you have been in business for seven years and you’re doing six figures but you are stuck there.

MDH 60 Rocky Buckley | The Power Persona Project

The Power Persona Project: There comes a point in your life that you realize there’s a lot more that you want to do.

 

The only way you make more money is by working more hours. Many of you are reading at different stages. Some of you might be overwhelmed with what you are reading. Some of you might be saying, “I’m already doing that but I’m not getting traction.” Rocky has created a Facebook platform that is completely free. You can go Facebook.com/groups/powerpersona. You’ll see all these people at different stages doing their different things. You can connect with people so you can get some support. I always say, “Don’t try to go on a road by yourself without ever seeing any landmines. Talk to people who have seen it before.”

Even if those people failed along the way, they could still teach you something that will still save your time. That Facebook that he has is something I would start to connect with right away. I am a strong believer that if you don’t build up a personal brand, it’s hard in 2022. There are some things about COVID that are going to stay with us forever. We are prioritizing our lives and looking at what we do value. People value meaning, purpose and passion-driven CEOs, even if they are small. They are hungry for this. They are seeking out. The faster you get to position your brand as something that you stand for and that you align with, the faster your business is going to grow more solidly. You have a foundation that connects with you.

More deeply as well. The secret is that you are connecting with people at a very different level and on a values level when you can build a personal brand.

I’m going to put you in the hot seat here. What are the top three things that will help us build that personal brand?

The first thing is taking a step back and doing a bunch of inner work. That’s getting clear on first, your life vision. If a lot of people do get strategic about their business, they can think about the business at the 30,000-foot level but they don’t go to the highest level, which is the life vision. I believe that for someone to create a personal brand that’s highly charismatic, magnetic, resonates with people and taps in on a values level, a person needs to understand who they want to be in life in the big picture? “Who is it that I want to be in the world? What are the things that I care about?” Get very connected to those things.

Allow that to shape the business vision. I view business as a subset of your life vision. When you can step back and go, “What am I all about here? Who do I want to become? Who am I?” When you are getting started on these big picture questions, they have a direct and very actionable impact on the way that you see your business and the way that you run your business because when you can get clear at that level, it shapes everything else below that. It’s the strategy.

I’m going to unpack each step that Rocky is giving. With the first step, I agree with you because I can’t tell you how many times I’m interviewing somebody for my segment or on a different show and normally I am not like this but I’m like, “Stop right there. Who are you?” If you have completed two different personas, “I’m a business person. When I’m in business, I’m wearing my suit and I would talk like this but when I’m at home, I’m a different person.” I’m like, “First of all, those two need to be aligned.”

Aside from what you said embedded in that is also a lot of times people think, “If I show my real self, tell them what I think or give a real opinion about what I believe, I’m going to lose half the audience. They may like me, not like I or I may not resonate with them.” Take a chance because if you are so preoccupied with what other people think, you are not going to ever convince 100% of people. You are better off attracting the people that are aligned with you from day one. It’s easy to work with them. What goes along with that is your vulnerabilities, the things that you fear and you are not perfect about. It’s okay to share them and be honest with people.

A lot of times, when I get interviewed and somebody asks me a question, I would say, “I’m working on that myself personally because that’s one area of my life that I still struggle with.” It’s okay because nobody’s perfect all the time. I am not perfect at any time. It’s okay to be vulnerable at times because that’s what makes you real. Your life vision, meaning all the things that you align with things that you care about, how you want to spend time with, that’s how you are going to be relatable to your target audience but also that’s how you can ultimately help them because you understand that you have to also add value to them and how you can add value.

Marketing helps my clients figure themselves out.

I built my business without ever compromising the things I want in my life. I started my company so I can spend more time with my kids. As my business grew, like people from Dubai, Turkey and Japan were calling me, I wasn’t on a plane going there all the time. I sent them a fax saying, “I have got kids. I have got to get to a soccer game. I can’t do this.” It turns out that I ended up losing some potential clients but the ones I had valued if they were okay with that. I agree with your step number one, which is to figure out what you want out of life and there is a value in who you are to add value to other people’s lives and that you want to help.

Especially from a vision standpoint like, “How do you envision your future? What do you want to be in 5 or 10 years? How do you chart a course to become and embody that? What does that mean for your business?” Your business model will change when you get clear on your life and what you want your life to look like. In your case, your family was front and center and was a very high value for you. That excluded a lot of business models. You couldn’t do certain things and you wouldn’t. Your values and life vision informed your business vision. It put your business vision in a box. It started to shape what kind of business you would have, what you would be selling and what kind of things you’d be offering.

Within that, that’s where your brand starts to emerge. It’s like, “I want to serve these kinds of people in this way. Who do I need to be to resonate with those people?” That begins step two. It’s about becoming self-aware about yourself. What are aspects about your identity, personality, life story or history that you can go conscious and become aware of your background and history? Start extracting these things out of yourself so that you can shape and craft them into that very targeted public persona that resonates with those people you’re looking to connect with.

I’m glad that you transitioned into step two in that way because they work together. Many of you who follow me on this show came to me from my TV shows. You’ll know when I first went on TV in 1998, they had all these movie stars that were on the same network talking about, “When I was on this or that show.” I hang around with all the pretty people in Beverly Hills on yachts and these mansions. I’m a little mom with two kids. Nobody knew who I was.

I go on TV and say, “I do a lot of work in the studios. I work with a lot of clients to pay me good money to do their pieces but I’m here to share the struggles I have, which is I don’t have help at home. I take my kids to school. I’m an active mom. I go to their PTA meetings and soccer games. When I’m in those places, I still want to look good and feel feminine. I want to have something neural sparkly. I don’t want to have to spend a fortune paying for jewelry that could go to my kid’s tuition. Here’s an affordable line of jewelry that’s done with the same care and artistic talent as the stars are using because I was doing a lot of work in the studios. You can buy them for $99. It could be an heirloom piece because it is done with high quality.”

What happens when you do that is you come up with versatile things. You don’t come up with things that you can only wear on the red carpet, those shoulder dusters or big hoops. You are going to come up with a line that’s very elegant that you could wear from day to evening. That messaging is a part of you. It’s not online that you have to script and memorize. You are going to develop products, courses and everything else that aligns with that. That’s natural to attract people who would be inspired by your story and you.

If people reading are interested in the subject of crafting yourself first but then targeting this raving fan group of people who connect with you, I would refer them to an article that I learned about from Tim Ferriss, which is by a man named Kevin Kelly and it’s called 1,000 True Fans. That concept was very influential on my thinking about this. It’s bringing out those aspects of yourself, even if they are peripheral to your business. They don’t necessarily have to be directly related.

It might be the music that you like, sports teams or whatever but you are bringing some of those flavor points into your brand. People are connecting with you on those things and that’s when they become enthusiastic about being in your world. To refer people to that as a reference point, that’s an article that’s a must-read, in my view, in the personal branding space

Tim Ferriss’ books have a lot of golden nuggets. I do agree with you that raving fans are better than 10,000 followers on Instagram that don’t know you. They’ll just hit the like button or something like that. I would rather have that 1,000 raving fans because they are more likely to tell 10 people. That’s how my business grew and I can testify to that. What’s step three?

MDH 60 Rocky Buckley | The Power Persona Project

The Power Persona Project: For someone to create a personal brand that’s highly charismatic with people and taps in on a values level, a person really needs to understand who they want to be in life and in the big picture.

 

First of all, you got to be clear on your life vision. You have begun to do that inner work going conscious about all these things that you bring to the table, all these aspects of your beliefs, identity, personality, history, life story and point of view. Get clear on all that stuff so that you’re conscious about it and then you can design that public persona. Once you start stepping into that public persona, you can become very strategic. It’s about understanding your market. It’s about doing work in the areas of market research, positioning, strategy and figuring out those aspects of what makes you unique. Ideally, what makes you the first one and the only one like you?

Get clear on what those points are because that’s what you are going to lean into as you create your brand. All the other stuff that follows from 0.3 is all about strategy, tactics, productizing your knowledge, developing a portfolio of products and offers, eventually elevating your price to a premium brand. There are ways to do that. That third step is all about that positioning, strategy and differentiation part because you’ve got to be clear on that to have effective messaging.

You can be very talented in front of a camera but people can’t follow what you are saying, they don’t know what you are talking about or what are you selling. You are great on camera but your messaging isn’t clear. It all has to come together. The personality, charisma and all of that need to marry itself with the message and go forward from there. It’s about articulating this into a real-world thing that you can act upon. You can start putting out content and so on because your messaging is sharp at this point.

Embedded in what Rocky and I are talking about here is the assumption that you do have amazing knowledge, product and expertise that you can share. BS factors don’t work. All the things that we are talking about, if your product sucks then it dies. Experienced entrepreneurs who give their heart and soul, know their product inside out, are experts, can tell you every screw, little line and their copy but haven’t crafted personal branding persona, that’s where this expertise comes in.

If you don’t know what you want then you are not going to ever get clear on your product, messaging or can anybody refer to the product itself even if it’s an online course? You don’t have anything to add and value. The first thing I would say is to try to figure out what value you are adding to your potential audience. Are you saving them money, time or future disaster? There are all these different ways you could position yourself as to why you are needed in their life.

Thanks to social media, we’re in an age of influencers. We are in a time where people on the power of their personality, what they’re interested in, what they do and how they spend their days. They don’t have any true value or expertise but they can get clear on the persona that they are presenting to the public. They can be outrageous, fun or whatever that kind of archetype or that style that they are. They build a following around that. There’s a lot of business to be done there because, from the face of other programs, they can recommend other people’s stuff. There is an opportunity that may or may not have been in the past. Be like a personality. If you can be strategic about it, you can build a nice business off of YouTube, Instagram and TikTok but getting clear on yourself, even if you want to be an influencer is still the essential key that unlocks everything else.

Even influencers that I know are pretty successful. Years ago, they stumbled onto something but once they become that and they want to be successful at it, they then still have to understand the product that they are influencing with. There’s a lot more work than most people think it is. Let’s switch gears a little bit about those people that have the expertise and have gotten some traction. You talk about how then they productize their knowledge. Specifically speaking, the one thing I’m very passionate about is the idea of generating passive income. Online classes or high ticket training courses, how do you go about converting from an expert or somebody with a product to then creating high ticket online training courses?

The first real step from that is looking at it from a business model standpoint. Most people who are experts find themselves trapped in this one-to-one business model, where they are getting paid for their time. When you are trading time for money, you are trapped. You get stuck in this situation or even if you’re doing well, you have got a nice six-figure business, there’s a ceiling because you have no more time. If you’re not confident about your pricing and you’re thinking about competing based on price, you got a double bind. There’s no way out of that. You find yourself trapped.

Everybody needs to turn their business into their soul.

At a business model level, that’s where experts need to start rethinking what they are doing and say, “Is there a different way for me to deliver my expertise in ways that could scale and become passive, also in ways that down the road, I could structure my business to sell to somebody else or license my intellectual property?” Many of us that are experts who are trading time for money built ourselves a nice job.

I like to think of it like a sandcastle that at the end of the day, after many years of working hard, you have built a sandcastle that gets washed away. When you stop working, there’s nothing left. How do you take what you already know and tweak or shift it in different ways? You don’t need to learn anything else or add any more expertise. You just need to change the way you’re doing it.

I find with a lot of experts reconfiguring the way they’re doing things, put themselves in a completely different business model where they can charge a lot more and have a lot more time and lifestyle, freedom and passive income from selling things like courses. As well as having a business that you can sell at the end of the day, which is a huge factor that very few people even think about. That’s a big consideration when you go into when you have this kind of a business. All those structural elements would be that next step. “How do I take what I already know? I’m sitting on all this untapped potential that if it were configured differently, could rocket me in a different area and take me to another level.” That’s what a lot of experts are sitting on.

I have a couple of doctors in my family and a brother and a sister who are lawyers. My brother was a real top-notch lawyer. He’ll charge $1,200 an hour. He’s charged that for the last years and he’s very proud of it but I always say, “You still have only 24 hours a day. Whether you were charging $1,200 or $400 in 1 hour, those are cap, unless you want to not sleep for another 6 hours. You are still trading high dollars for one hour,” whereas somebody who’s trading stocks.

Let’s say hypothetically I bought the right stock and in 3 minutes, I could make $10,000 if I was right on that. I try to tell him to create an online course that he can sell because he’s got some amazing expertise but he’s doesn’t have time to create an online course because he is too busy trying to make money doing the other stuff. They are trapped.

Not everybody needs to turn their business into their soul way that they’re making an income. My sister is a very high-powered attorney in Manhattan, partnered in a big law firm who makes probably similar money but she’s able to take that income. If you can divert that into other passive income-generating properties, that’s great. You don’t need to turn your business into a thing. If you want your business to mirror up with your lifestyle and this is who you want to be, your business is your passion and everything comes together in your business then you want to build your business in a way that can become a passive income property.

If you are high dollar and making money by the hour, you can take that money and put it into something passive like real estate, stocks or crypto. It’s cool but I don’t think everybody necessarily has to go that direction. It makes sense if your business is all about your expertise. If this is what you love and where you are getting your fulfillment from then why not do this business in a way that gives you all of those factors at the same time? You can make a lot of money, fulfill your lifestyle, talents, gifts and leave a legacy. All of that comes together in your business. Not everybody has to do that. If you own a string of laundromats, that’s great. You don’t have to feel passionate about it but for a lot of us, we do.

MDH 60 Rocky Buckley | The Power Persona Project

The Power Persona Project: We’re in a time where people are just on the power of their personality, what they’re interested in, what they do. They’re able to get clear on the persona that they’re presenting to the public.

 

In his case, he tells me every time there was a major crisis he is dealing with, usually, he does like a middle-sized company. It is about $15 million to $50 million businesses. They are pretty good. Unfortunately, the only times he gets involved because of who he is and what he does is when they’re in major trouble. He says, “if somebody needs to be out there telling people how to prevent some of the problems, lawyers should be hired as a precaution at some point but people don’t do that because they’re expensive.” People don’t call a DUI lawyer until they get something or they don’t call somebody until they get sued. There’s a huge market for that.

It is difficult to sell prevention. My dad has successful long-term corporate security. He works at high levels with very big corporations and deals with the risks that they have. Selling them prevention in advance like, “You have these vulnerabilities. Your physical building is vulnerable to attack,” it’s very difficult to sell prevention. Selling the cure to a high-value problem is one of those secrets to selling it at high price points and going premium with your pricing. It’s figuring out, “How could I take what I already know but apply it to an area where there’s the urgency?” Somebody has a bleeding neck problem where I can take what I already know and focus in that area.” All of a sudden, you can jack your price way up. The cure is the secret where you can elevate your pricing significantly.

Is there a secret to selling high-ticket online programs?

There are many secrets but one of the ones that I like to focus on specifically is framing your solution as a well-designed system because when you can package your expertise as a system, it demonstrates that you have mastery over that problem. You solved it enough times that you have can package it together as a 3 or 5-step system. That gives you tremendous leverage from a marketing standpoint because it allows you to articulate your message concisely and clearly in a way that makes it feel like the solution is fast, simple and easy as much as possible.

I’m sure with all of your work over the years, there have been so many products that have to do with weight loss or something like that. When you can package, let’s say, a weight loss solution, “It’s an easy three-step system. It’s something that you can do without having to give up all the foods you love.” It’s in that packaging, taking what you know and shaping it into a systematic formula.

It almost sounds like a plugin system. Other people have done that before and it’s easy. It’s all done for you.

It’s a brilliant way. First of all, formulate your intellectual property in a way that you can sell to somebody else. That’s what we talked about in terms of legacy. You take your IP and turn it into something that you can sell. Also, from a marketing standpoint, when you can articulate, “What I got here is a proven system and it’s consists of this,” people are buying into not only the solution that you’re selling. It might be, “Burn 30 pounds of fat in 90 days. I’m going to help teach you how to do that in these steps. I can teach you that the process is going to be fast, simple and easy as much as I can.” When you can put those things together, it makes it much more marketable and palatable.

It seems almost like a magic bullet solution. People are willing to pay a lot more because they know what the promise is. It’s very clear, “In 90 days, I’m going to get this result.” When you sell your time one-on-one, it feels like an open-ended process. “We’ll work together. We don’t know when we’re going to get there. You pay me by the hour.” When you can sell a system, it changes the game for you. I always recommend every expert learn how to do that.

The second piece of that is in terms of you creating the system, how do you convince them that they need to buy it?

Formulate your own intellectual property in a way that you can sell to somebody else.

The solution that you solve should be a high-value problem that people are already looking for. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel and say, “I’m the first one who’s ever solving the problem of weight loss.” It might be that within weight loss, there is a specific problem or let’s say, for people who need to lose 50 pounds or more. It’s not the person that just wants to lose 10 pounds. It’s a person that has a more serious problem. They want urgency. They need this thing fixed. Those people don’t need convincing that they need a solution but when you can get those hot areas where people are already looking for solutions or already spending a lot of money, they are serious and want to get that fixed, that’s where you can step in. When you can articulate a ready-made solution that feels very doable for them, you can almost charge what you want.

You are right on track on that because I have a $5,000, $25,000 and $75,000-course. It’s interesting because after I give a compelling speech like I do a lot of keynote speeches, 30 people will come after me. They want to connect with you and talk to you. It’s easier for me to sell the $75,000 course 10 times a day, than the $5,000 one because these are people who are doing 7 or 8 figures already. With the 7 or 8 figures for a small business, that’s funding everything on their own. In every action, the stakes are so high.

They are one moment away from going bankrupt or setting themselves back in a financial situation. That’s interesting. The $5,000 one to me is the hardest one to sell because that one has less value. You got some beginning entrepreneurs that don’t understand that it’s hard, even though that’s probably the best value. Aside from that, this was a very productive and informative conversation about all the different things you could do whether you are selling products, an author or expert who is trading time for money even if you’re high paid like a CPA or if you aspire to create a side income. With my brother, I say to him, “If you can come up with even a $200 course, when you talk to people come up in the NDA form, that’s not offensive so that they are keeping their intellectual property,” and little things like that.

I agree with you that trying to sell prevention at $10,000 is tough. There are a lot of different ways you could impact a small business person. In this conversation, we covered a lot of ground on how to build your brand persona. At the end of the day, all of you who are reading know that I say this all the time, “If people don’t like, trust or respect you, they are not going to buy anything from you.” That’s the beginning of this. To get the first 1,000 raving fans who are going to talk about you, elevate your message and amplify your voice, Rocky, you came in and shared a lot of wisdom, knowledge and nuggets. How do people find and connect with you and find out more about your community?

The easiest way to enter into my world is through the Facebook community, The Power Persona Project. The easiest way to go there is through the URL at PowerPersonaProject.com. You can hop into this free group. I’m in there. It’s a highly engaged, interactive group. I have interviewed people there like Kevin Harrington from Shark Tank, Stu McLaren, Bob Burg and a lot of luminaries in our industry. There’s a lot of great content, conversation, connections and networking inside of that community. Hop in there. Get to know me from that point.

Thank you so much for coming in.

It’s my pleasure. Thank you.

For those of you who are reading, thank you so much. Until next time. Please stay healthy and happy. Remember, happiness is a choice. I hope you make great choices.

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About Rocky Buckley

MDH 60 Rocky Buckley | The Power Persona ProjectRocky helps experts, thought leaders, and influencers to “Go Platinum” by reinventing their brand, strategy and business model. He helps transform what experts, influencers, and thought leaders already know into high-priced training programs, so they can generate 5-figure clients and create lucrative lifestyle businesses they can run in a few hours a week.

MDH 54 | Amplify Your Brand

MDH 54 | Amplify Your Brand

Your brand is the epitome of your business. It is what makes you unique and what attracts people to your product. So, what can you do to attract people? How do you amplify your brand? Victoria Wieck discusses this and more with the founder of PodMatch, Alex Sanfilippo. Alex discusses his early forays into entrepreneurship, keeping a day one mentality, and creating solutions for customer problems. Learn more about amplifying your brand and how the popular platform is connecting podcast host and guests.

Watch the episode here:

Listen to the podcast here:

Amplify Your Brand With PodMatch With Alex Sanfilippo

I have Alex Sanfilippo, who started the PodMatch. It’s the service that I often use to find you these amazing guests. Once I started PodMatch, I’ve got addicted to it. I’m so excited to be interviewing Alex because, as crazy as it sounds, he’s built a whole platform. His backstory, how he came about creating PodMatch, and all that you are going to find that interesting, informative and encouraging. Without further ado, I would like to welcome Alex.

Alex, welcome to the show.

Victoria, thank you so much for having me here. I appreciate it.

In your bio, there’s something I didn’t think about before. You started your business at age ten. The entrepreneurship desire or blood runs through your veins. Tell me a little bit about your backstory. What did you do in your childhood? A lot of times, your early years shaped what you do later on in life. Do you want to share a little bit about yourself?

I completely agree with that statement. At one point in my life, I did some reflecting back to my childhood to rediscover who I was but that’s an important practice for anybody to do. For me, at ten years old and most people hear this, they were like, “What on Earth was this guy doing at ten?” I was selling used golf balls.

Across the street from the house that I grew up in, there was a golf course. What I did was I started collecting golf balls and selling them. It was interesting, though, because at ten years old, I was a very self-aware child, which may be strange for a ten-year-old. I had three younger brothers, and we had a bunch of neighborhood friends. A lot of them are good at sports and others are good at school. They are very smart. Most of them were good at video games at that point.

All these different kids were good at these different things. I realized that I wasn’t good at those things. It didn’t necessarily depress me. It made me wonder where I fit in. That’s super weird for a ten-year-old kid to be that self-aware but that’s how I felt. The first time I picked up a golf ball and a golfer offered to buy it from me for $3, it was Titleist Pro V1, which is an expensive ball. I’m not a golfer myself. I knew how to sell used golf balls as a kid. As soon as I did that, I realized, “Maybe I should find more of these.” What I realized I enjoyed wasn’t even making the money. It was the art of building some system that drives a profit.

I started recruiting my brothers and some of the friends in the neighborhood, saying, “Let’s go through the lakes, get some guys to clean the golf balls, get some to organize them into different bins, and then set up a time and day that we can sell these things back to the golfers.” That’s what I did for a couple of years, from 10 to 12. For the first time in my life, I know it was very young, I discovered something that I was good at. It was the art of business.

Blogging doesn’t capture the same essence as a podcast.

In that ten-year-old mind, you were doing what a modern entrepreneur has to do, which is find a product that has that in demand, figure out the price and find a bunch of people that’s going to help you. You were like a little boss of that thing that was going on. You were the CEO of the ten-year-old crowds. That’s astonishing.

In our schools, unfortunately, we teach Math, Science and all these things that have numbers. We don’t teach Entrepreneurship or relationship to money, Finances, and how much you have to work to buy something. I wish somebody would go and teach that in school. Fast forward a little bit. You are a ten-year-old child selling Titleist Pro V1 for $3. $3 to a 10-year-old kid is a lot of money. Once you get a little taste of that, you want to multiply that. You then found different systems in your life. Tell us what happened after that. What was your second venture?

You can only sell golf balls that are used back to the golfers that hit them in the lakes for so long until you are not cute anymore that they want to punch you for taking their golf ball to the lake. From about 10 to 12, I was doing that. The truth is some guy came through on his golf cart. He liked the collection of golf balls we had so much. He said he would buy them all if we would go ahead and close down. At that point, we had 600 or 700 golf balls. At the end of the day, he finished his round of golf. He came, picked them all up, paid me and the neighborhood guys for them. At that point, we were like, “It’s a good time to stop. We were done.” That was my first and only successful exit.

I was getting into high school or late middle school. As I’ve got into my late teens, I had an opportunity to do some work in real estate. I wasn’t good at video games but I was good at computers. There was a friend of my dad who was starting a company where they were trying to create these virtual tours of homes, which we all see them. You look home on Zillow or something like that. You can drag the mouse around, see the roof and the whole room.

We were building those tours. He brought me on as a contractor, saying, “Let’s work together.” I had my company, he had his. I started hiring photographers and editors. We started building these virtual tours for the MLS directly. We were posting on the MLS every single day because we became in high demand fast. That was a fun thing for me. I was seventeen when I started that.

It was cool because when I looked at it, I also had a remote team. None of us worked in an office like everyone worked in their places. We were using AIM back then to instant message back and forth. That’s how we were communicating throughout the day. That was another fun experience for me to learn the business and see how something could run, operate and grow. At this point, I was also paying taxes.

At ten years old, you started your company, then you had a successful exit. What I find astonishing about the whole story that you have told is the MLS having the virtual tours and all of that, we take it for granted. I sold my home in Las Vegas at a very substantial price, and the person never saw it. They felt comfortable enough. They were able to go up to the roof, do all that, and be able to see the whole house without being there.

MDH 54 | Amplify Your Brand

Amplify Your Brand: We identified the problem and decided to create a solution for it. That’s where PodMatch came from.

 

With COVID, they couldn’t travel, so they bought the house unseen. When you did that technology, the idea of touring a home at any price, $200,000, $300,000, $1 million, that would be unthinkable. You did it because you believed in it, and you felt that the world was going to have to go that way at some point. You had a pulse on what was going on, and you were a few steps ahead of the rest of the world.

That’s important. I’m going to fast forward a little bit more because you have done other things in between compared to what you are doing, which I’m excited about. I’m an avid user of PodMatch. You created a platform for podcasters. I have to tell you that the podcasting industry is exploding. Back in 1998, when HSN first called me and they said, “We are the home shopping network,” I was like, “You are what? Is that some kind of a club?” I had no clue what was going on.” Remember, in ’98, they had a 1-800 number at the catalogs. I thought that would be the next revolution.

With you, podcasting is exploding. It makes complete sense that there are more people at home listening. We all want to educate ourselves. It’s only a twenty-minute investment. Everything is free out there like most podcasts are free to listen to. If you are going to be a successful podcaster, it takes an enormous amount of time to find the right guest for your show. I know a lot of famous people but they are not necessarily right for my show.

My show is about transformation stories. A lot of times, it’s the lesser-known people that have done some extraordinary things. You created a platform, so people like us can go find somebody easily at my fingertips at night. After everybody has gone to bed, I can do this in twenty minutes at a time. Tell me a little bit about how and why you created all of this. How long did it take for you to do this?

Thank you for being a member of PodMatch. You are a great supporter. My day has been made talking to you. I appreciate that. I’ve got into podcasting years before I started PodMatch, me as an individual, with my show. I saw that was an industry that was taking off. I didn’t do it, so I could become famous or anything like that. I wanted to have conversations with people and record them somehow. Before that, I did a bit of blogging. As much as I love blogging, it didn’t capture the same essence. When you do a written interview back and forth, it’s not the same.

I was like, “This audio platform has been great for me. I have been listening for years. While I’m in the gym or running, I listen to podcasts.” I decided, “I want to start my show.” Right when I started, I noticed something interesting. People that are in podcasting are very kind. A lot of other show hosts that I meet are so nice. That made me want to get even more into the industry. When I was starting to take off, that’s when I decided, “I’m going to do anything I can to support this industry.” It’s going to grow. If there was a business starting in here, it’s not going to crash in a year or two. Someday, podcasting might be a thing of the past but it’s still on the up and up.

I made it a devotion at that point to find something that could do to help the industry. The way I did it is a simple framework. I’m passionate about podcasting. I found the people that made up the ecosystem of it. I asked the hosts, “What are you struggling with?” It can be tough going in looking for guests when you are not sure if people even want to be on shows.

It can be tough going in looking for guests when you’re not sure if people even want to be on shows.

We’ve all got a cousin or a friend that started a business that could jump on our shows, maybe but finding those people who are saying, “I’m looking for shows. I have a message that will resonate well with your listeners.” That’s not easy to find. I identified that problem and decided to create a solution for it. That’s where PodMatch came from.

Like your golf ball story, you found a need that could be in high demand and a friction point. I love PodMatch because it is so simple, the diversity of the people that are there, and the shows as well. I agree with you on the caliber of people within the podcast industry. The TV industry is completely different. It is so catty and the most cutthroat business. People always ask me, “How do you ever survive twenty years of TV?” It’s either you do not have a pulse, have to be so numb or don’t see anything.

When I’ve got into podcasting, people were so nice. They were offering me everything. My microphone was all set up by people that didn’t charge me a penny. They gave me their heart and soul. “You understand video but in audio, you’ve got to do this and that.” Everything was free. I love that community of people that give their all.

The other thing about the podcasting platform is that it’s true that video has a lot more impact. If I was watching a YouTube video, I can’t be driving. If I’m driving to San Diego, that’s 2 hours that I can listen to 4 different podcasts but I can’t watch a single video because you are going to get into a car accident if you were watching that.

The platform is great. As far as creating this platform, without giving away your preparatory sequence, was it hard to come up with a technology piece? You’ve got the technology piece in terms of how the software works behind the scenes. You’ve got to go find all these podcasters, and then you have to find all the potential guests. All these other pieces have to come in. How difficult was that to coordinate all that? How much time did it take? Is it 2 years, 2 months, 20 years?

The timing in business is so important. It’s the number one factor if you ask Bill Gross. He’s the unicorn billionaire. He started seven multibillion-dollar companies or something like that. He says that timing is the most important factor. We happened to be at the right time. I’m not saying we couldn’t do it again. I say we because I have a Cofounder.

For me, I am more on the sales side of things. I’m customer service. I can build systems. I understand how the industry works. I have a friend that is someone that I knew for years. He and I had always planned on working together at some point. As matter of fact, we did one other project together years prior, and it was cool. We had good synergy.

MDH 54 | Amplify Your Brand

Amplify Your Brand: We believe that podcasting is a great medium for people to get their independent voices out there. Unfortunately, 90% of podcasts don’t make it past their first year.

 

When I had this idea, it was right after PodFest 2020. It was the last in-person conference ever. I spoke at that conference, and that’s where I’ve got the idea for it. Identified the problem. I said, “I’m going to build a solution for us.” I came home that next week. On March 10th, 2020, I wrote it all out on three whiteboards. I immediately picked up my phone and called that friend. I said, “Jesse, I don’t know if you can work part-time on a project but I would love to do something with you.” It was crazy. That was a Tuesday. That Sunday night, he finished a multi-year project that he had been working on. He was like, “I’ve got capacity.”

What we did is we drafted up documentation saying we are 50/50 partners and decided to run with it. March 10th, 2020, is when we started working on it and launched an early beta on June 10th, 2020. It’s a few short months from start to finish. He is brilliant. He was able to save us a lot of money by doing that. We bootstrapped with $5,000 each of us, put $2,500 into account, and we went for it.

I wish you and your friend, Jesse, all the luck in the world. Let me give you some encouragement, not that you need it but I was at a Harvard Business School Reunion. Harvard Business School makes you go back to class once you have been there all that time. They had a panel of graduates that have been out of school for years. They talked about what are your challenges and so forth.

They had Harvard alumni from Google, Apple, Facebook, and all these different companies that are running our world seemingly. They asked them, “What keeps you up at night?” The answer was that we all work for a founder that started their company with under $5,000 in their garage. I didn’t think about it that way but it’s true. Apple started with less than $5,000 as well. You fit that bill exactly.

That’s good to know. That encouragement goes a long way. Thank you.

I thought that you might find that comparison very timely. When it comes to how you and Jesse and how you feel like you were at the right place at the right time, I also feel that way a lot of times about my little successes. Every time I hit a milestone, I would think, “I lucked out.” I like to also believe that it’s a preparation meeting opportunity because we are all here at the same time at the same place but you had the ideas, which not all of us had. You took action on that. It could be a divine alignment of some sort of a preparation meeting opportunity.

Kudos to you and Jesse. You have created a brand called Creating a Brand. You want it to make it simple. I love that you are a customer-centric company. That’s how Amazon made this very simple for their customers. You are rebranding into PodPros. It’s PodPros.com. What’s next for PodMatch and PodPros?

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.

You are the first person to ever announce that company name. I have never said it to anyone other than you, so thank you for being that person. There’s something that I want to mention real quick. It goes back to something that Leonardo da Vinci said. “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” It’s something that many of us need to remember because PodMatch is a complex system.

If you look through the backend code like me, it made my head explode seeing all that. In a day, we had one problem to solve, which is can we get the right guests in front of the right host and vice versa? At the end of the day, could we simply do that and continuously improve that process to make it faster and more streamlined? I look at the different things that I’m doing. I had to have a real “come to Jesus moment,” as I call it. For me, it was a time in prayer. “God, I’m doing too much. I’ve got my podcast. I have podcasts, PodMatch, and these other companies that we are reaching out and starting.”

I did that deep self-reflection and realized, “This is going to get complicated and cumbersome for other people to try to understand what I even do.” That’s why we decided to rebrand under PodPros. The idea was to bring it back to a simplistic form. What’s adding the most value to the people that we care about the most? Let’s focus on that one thing. PodcastSOP is a new company that we are launching. It’s project management software specifically for podcasters.

A lot of new ones are using sticky notes and word documents. They are trying to keep it organized. We want to help people do that easily because I feel the same way about this. We believe that podcasting is a great medium for people to get their independent voices out there. Unfortunately, 90% of podcasts don’t make it past their first year. It’s only 10% that make it. I wanted to help and see more people through that first year, so they can continue adding that value to people’s lives. Our big focus is we continue helping more podcasters get their message out there to the world.

I’m 1 of the 50 beta testing people. Before PodMatch, I was using 4 or 5 different software. You are using scheduling software, organization software, and all of the bios. It’s a whole amount of work. A lot of podcasts start as a side hustle. They don’t start as monetizing it. Most podcasters start because they are passionate about something and want to help people. Ninety percent of them don’t make it. I’m with you on that. I like to see that percentage go higher. If you think about it, 90% is almost the same as any other small business. It takes a lot of discipline and understanding the basics, who are your target audience, and all that stuff as well.

You have been in the industry for a while, and you are also seeing some of the mistakes that podcasters make. Going back to what you, Leonardo da Vinci said about simplicity is the ultimate sophistication, I agree with that but I also want to tell you one thing. One of my favorite quotes is by Winston Churchill. He said something to the effect that, “Success is not final, and failure is not fatal.” A lot of people think that failure is not fatal is what they focus on. I like to think about success is not final because you had a very successful platform. There was nothing like PodMatch a year ago.

You continue to evolve because success is not final. A lot of times, when people are successful, they are so busy protecting that success or using that success to live their life however they want to live that they forget to evolve. One thing I noticed about PodMatch almost every time I’m on vacation or something, I come back and shut my brain off for a little bit, you have improved the site, again and again, everything from visual to how it operates, how we upload our bios and link our calendar. Since I became a PodMatch member in maybe April or May 2021, you have gone through many different upgrades already. Kudos to there as well.

MDH 54 | Amplify Your Brand

Amplify Your Brand: If you continuously have that mindset of “I’m doing this for that ideal listener,” and you find that narrow niche to really focus in, you’re going to do really well in podcasting.

 

That has been something that we wanted to always do. We asked the members that use it, “What works? What doesn’t?” We let them help us with the roadmap but the idea is to focus on continuous improvement. Jeff Bezos made this famous. We didn’t come up with it but his whole concept is, “Always day one.” We can’t ever let people decide. We can’t ever decide internally like, “We have made it. We have arrived. It’s day two.” It’s always day one, which means we are always on the ground floor getting started, and that’s always the mentality that we are going to keep.

What is your advice to a brand-new podcaster starting out facing that 90% failure rate?

The very first thing you have to do is develop a strong why for yourself. “Why are you podcasting?” If it’s something like, “I want to make money. I want 1,000 or 10 million downloads,” or whatever it might be, those reasons might be a little bit too shallow. They are not bad. They can be part of it but you need to begin with, “Who are you serving? Who’s going to be that person listening?” That comes in form of identifying what I call an avatar, which is your most ideal listener. Come up with one person. This is someone who would listen and anybody like them. Develop a strong why around that.

What I would recommend doing is if you have unspecific goals, you are going to have specific results. That has always been true. If it’s day one you are starting, determine that why. Decide what you want the avatar to have learned twelve months from now. Think 365 days in advance. Let’s say they are with you from day one until then. Where do you want them to have gone on their journey as a direct result of listening to you? If you continuously have that mindset of, “I’m doing this for that ideal listener,” and you find that narrow niche to focus in, you are going to do well in podcasting.

If people want to find you, other than PodPros.com, is there any other place that they can connect you with?

Thankfully, that’s it. I commend you for how organized you are. Another thing that helps podcasters is the organization. You are the most organized host I have ever had the opportunity to be a guest with. Also, you do a great job with the show. I’m a reader myself. You had an episode with Nathan Bynum about how to build a website to test your products. It’s a brilliant conversation. I recommend the readers go check that one out if they haven’t read it. I appreciate you having me here and what you are doing with the show.

Thank you so much. Good luck to you. If you ever need feedback from some of the podcasters, make sure to reach out to me. I’ve got a lot to say.

It’s always day one, which means we’re always on the ground floor getting started. That’s the mentality that we’re going to keep.

You’ve got very valid feedback. I appreciate it. Thank you so much.

Thank you for reading this episode. If you haven’t rated and reviewed my show, please go ahead and do so. Please stay happy, healthy. Remember, happiness is your choice. I hope you make optimistic choices.

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About Alex Sanfilippo

Alex Sanfilippo is the host of the top-rated entrepreneurship podcast, Creating a Brand, and the founder of two podcasting software’s, PodMatch.com, a service that matches podcast guests and hosts together for interviews and PodcastSOP, a project management software that is specifically for podcasters to help them keep episode releases on track!