Catch Seth Erickson on the #PirateBroadcast™
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[00:00:00] Introduction: Welcome to the #PirateBroadcast™, where we interview #interestingpeople doing #interestingthings. Where you can expand your connections, your community, #kindnessiscool and #smilesarefree. Let’s get this party started.
[00:00:10] Russ Johns: Let's tell a few stories today. We got Seth in the room, he's a new pirate. Welcome, Seth, how you doing, my friend?
[00:00:17] Seth Erickson: I'm excellent. I'm really well. Thank you.
[00:00:20] Russ Johns: Fantastic. What we have here is an amazing opportunity to make connections, extend the invitation to other pirates, to join us. And, we have people all over the world listening to us. And one of the things that I always love to do is talk about how you evolve to where you are today. And coming from a rave DJ and mixing tracks and having a lot of fun and me being a musician, I can completely relate and appreciate that. So what are you doing right now? What are you doing right now?
[00:00:52] Seth Erickson: Yeah right now I run an agency that focuses mainly on helping startups better communicate their value to investors and the marketplace at large. We do that because we find that while a lot of the founders and the people that create these startups are really amazing at technology and their skillsets and everything, very few of them take classes on marketing or branding or anything. There may be one in there and they're like, oh, I need a logo. And so what we often see is the conversation tends to be more around the company and the technology that they have, and not so much around the customer and the problem that they solve as a customer. And so I'm always reminding people, the reason you got in business isn't just to make money. You solve a problem. So that's what we need to have the conversation about and put your customer at the center of your story. And instead of you being at the center of your story.
[00:01:45] Russ Johns: Yeah, it's not about me. Yeah, it's not about me but that brings up a great point because as much as people think that it's an easy process, it's not an easy process. I've been doing this a long time. I got into advertising in 85. It was my first venture in advertising in and out, different organizations. And the reality is oftentimes a lot of startups, they try to solve a problem that may or may not be something that needs to be solved.
[00:02:15] Seth Erickson: Yeah. And that's one of the things that I talk about is I can't make your idea good, but what I can do is help you communicate well with your customer or potential customer. And the other thing I can't do is if you tell me that your customer is this one individual, but it turns out it's another one, then everything that I do just bounces off that person. I use the analogy If I'm a sports fan and I want to tell you a story about this amazing sporting thing that happened or sports event I went to and you could care less about sports, you're going to be, you might sit there and go, okay, that's great, whatever. But it's not really going to resonate with you the way it would another sports fan, especially one that was a fan of either that team or that sport in general. Storytelling is incredibly powerful, but only if you do it in the right way and you use it on the right people.
[00:03:05] Russ Johns: It's like selling soccer balls to a football player.
[00:03:08] Seth Erickson: Yeah. Yeah.
[00:03:09] Russ Johns: I don't need a soccer ball. I don't need a soccer ball. Yeah. You can keep telling me, but I don't need a soccer ball.
[00:03:16] Seth Erickson: Yeah. Yeah. It's of no use whatsoever.
[00:03:20] Russ Johns: So how did you start this journey? Because oftentimes, marketing and media and content creation and storytelling, it's an evolution. It's a result of a challenge or some change in your life. So what ended up being the change in your life?
[00:03:37] Seth Erickson: Yeah in 2015 I was running a web design agency and we had 22 people. We won a bunch of awards. We were making great money. Clients were happy. But I wasn't happy. And the reason I wasn't happy was because, we would redesign a website for a client and they would just be like, oh, this is amazing. We love it. And I would ask him questions. Did you get traffic increase? Are more people contacting you? Is this happening? Is this happening? No, but the site looks great.
[00:04:06] Russ Johns: We liked the site.
[00:04:08] Seth Erickson: Yeah. Yeah. And we always worked hard to make sure we take care of our customers, build the site they want, right? Like we were very customer centric in that sense, but I was dissatisfied because I got into business to help people. And while I enjoyed helping them create beautiful websites or a better website than they previously had, what was not hitting for me was the fact that I wasn't moving the needle forward in their business. And so I, after doing it for what, 15 years starting to become very dissatisfied. And so I started going, okay, what is the next evolution of this business? Where are we going? Because this is frankly just not good enough. And so I talked with a bunch of really smart people and a friend of mine was the international head of global branding for GoDaddy. And he and I spent some time talking and he said, you know what, you're a storyteller. I think you should focus more on your strength, which is being a storyteller. And I was like great. How do you make money as a storyteller? Like I'm not going to go to Hollywood and start writing screenplays. I don't have a novel in me that I knew that I know of anyone. And he gave me this book called Story Wars by Jonah Sachs and in the book, Jonah Sachs talks a lot about story. He's also an agency owner who did a lot of video production and he would use storytelling in his video production. So I went, okay, this is really interesting. And it was really resonating with me. And so I went on a terror through audible trying to get every book I could get my hands on storytelling. So I read everything from screenwriting or how to write screenplays, like story about Robert Makiah read Joseph Campbell's, the hero's journey. I read stuff on comedy writing, because people tell stories in comedy all the time. And I just went through this and I think I read over about 50 books. I think a single handedly raised audible stock that year with my my three credit purchases. It was it was bad. It was like an addiction, it's like setting. So I did that. And then through that process, I started learning neuroscience studies that were being done around storytelling because some of the books were starting to talk about that. And again, I went on another tear and read several hundred research papers on the topic. Don't go read them, they're all boring and they're terrible, but there's really great information in there. If you can slug through a bunch of technical jargon and almost zero storytelling, which is amazing, considering that they're like, look at what storytelling does the brain, but I'm not going to tell you about this in a story. What I'm going to do is give you a bunch of dry, boring facts.
[00:06:39] Russ Johns: It's like reading a spreadsheet.
[00:06:41] Seth Erickson: Yes. Yeah. So I went through that process over a couple of years. And then what ended up happening was I was like let's start trying some of this stuff out. And I started going back to our clients and saying, hey let's use the storytelling thing. I think it's going to work. And they're like, okay, we trust you. And little by little we started seeing things improve, like on emails, we're seeing twice the industry standard for open rates. We were seeing three and four times the industry standard for click-through rates. So it was like, okay this is working. All right, good. And then COVID hit and a lot of businesses started scrambling. And one of the things that we spent a lot of time last year doing was helping people rewrite their emails because they needed to reach out to potential customers because customers weren't coming to them as much because they were either staying at home or trying to stay safe. So one of our customers, we helped help them to reformat some of their emails, send it out and it brought in $4.3 million of potential new business during the pandemic. And yeah, we've just continued to test and go, oh, okay, this is working. This is working. And then also, like I said, we've found those times where we sent out an email campaign. Crickets. And it was like, why is that? And it's the customer doesn't care about this. This isn't a problem to them. You think it's important as the provider of the service or the product, but they don't, or we're not understanding something about the customer. So we need to do more research and try to figure this out. So right. So that's my story.
[00:08:09] Russ Johns: A couple of people, I follow a, Russell Brunson, he owns click funnels, it's a hundred million dollar business and it's Russell Brunson tells some great stories and it's really it's compelling. Obviously he's selling his products and services and everything else. The other one that I like is Donald Miller, storyBrand. And I think story is such a compelling and such a powerful tool. And that's part of the reason why I love videos. It accelerates the connection, in my opinion, that's my opinion. I don't know if you've experienced that same effect in your storytelling is as far as how video fits into that equation or if it does it does it ever impact the way you tell stories?
[00:08:53] Seth Erickson: Yes. So we don't do much with video. We focus more on the copywriting visual design elements. In the future maybe, but I, I think it helps, right? When you know what the neuroscience shows us is that when people engage in story, they start to create a simulation and put themselves in that story. I think Donald Miller calls it transportation, neuroscience, they call it simulation. So I am familiar with his work. Because this was one of the 50 books I read. So yeah, no I totally agree. And especially like in the context of a podcast like this or whatever you can pick up on more visual cues, right? Body language. Yeah. All those not nonverbal cues, that you can see. So yeah, I think it's incredibly important.
[00:09:34] Russ Johns: I just want to give a shout out to Elize she's in from South Africa, I hope your shoulders do doing better Elize so let us know that you're doing okay. And Gabe, a master at live streaming, and I sent you an email Gabe. I sent you a message, so hopefully we can connect, but I just wanted to give a shout out to you guys to that jumping in the stream here today. Seth, I want to make sure that how have you identified, if you have a pre-existing client that has a preexisting thing like the #PirateSyndicate, I had the #PirateSyndicate and I've helped create lots of podcasts, produce lots of shows and I help agencies and I help business owners produce video live shows like this, produce shows like this and the whole process, the social media that goes along with it, the production that goes along with it and everything that goes along with it, however, it's not necessarily something that everybody thinks about. And I continue to think through that story about what problem am I solving? And so I know video has worked for me. I know the video is incredibly powerful tool for the conversations that I started and the relationships that I built in the business I've received. However, a lot of business owners are not in that space yet. So how would story help that equation or is it. People just don't care about increasing business with video. It's one or the other, which one is it? And how do you decide, how do you figure that out?
[00:11:02] Seth Erickson: That's a good question. I always think, start with the problem, right? If you can understand what the problem is, then that's where you start the conversation, that's where the most pain is felt. So if you can identify what the. What the problem is, and then map your solution to that problem. Then, the story starts to make more sense, right? Like it's the old adage. Like you can't sell aspirin to somebody who doesn't have a headache. And so if you don't, if you don't have a clear picture, What the problem is that you want to solve, or at least you, how you want to talk about how you solve that problem. Then I think it, it definitely makes it difficult to...
[00:11:36] Russ Johns: it's like soccer balls to football players.
[00:11:39] Seth Erickson: Yes. And here's the thing though. Here's the interesting thing I was thinking about this earlier, when you brought it up. If you could make a case, a solid case to a football player for why they might want to consider a soccer ball. So let's say I'm just totally riffing here. Let's say. Yeah. You want to increase foot coordination or small motor skills or something like that. And it's you use, you can use a soccer ball to do that. That would help you with your foot work on the field. So you, so even though it is a soccer ball, you're telling a different story about why they might need that,
[00:12:14] Russ Johns: How the soccer ball could impact and improve their football game.
[00:12:18] Seth Erickson: Yeah. Yeah. So if you can connect those ideas together, then it might make more sense. So in your case, if you're like I want to get more business owners doing video, why is that? I want to help them grow their revenue and their business or whatever. So how do we connect point A and point B point C together in a story that makes sense. And and the reason that story works is because that's basically how we're wired. Like it's how we think in information. And so part of it is telling the story and connecting the ideas. But the other part is using all the elements to create a story, to create a pattern that the brain will pick up on and go, okay, I'm listening now.
[00:12:52] Russ Johns: Almost every business and tell me if I'm wrong because you've created a few websites. You've been around a little bit. I can tell. And every business owner comes to you. I need more leads. Can you get me more leads or can you get me more business? And a lot of business owners think through the entire, the complete process. It's like, how many leads do you need? Because I'm sure that you can create scenarios by storytelling, that you could actually generate a lot of traffic to their site. Like you said, the four point some odd million dollar conversion in email, there's lots of different ways you can tell a story to get traffic and a business owner, that seems to be the problem that I would like to solve for more business owners with video. But it's also storytelling. It's also highlighting what they do well, how they help, who they help and clarifying some of those messages. So that's my initial thought process. I'd like to get your thoughts on that.
[00:13:57] Seth Erickson: Yeah. It one of the pieces that I'm always harping on with business owners is that your website is grand central station. Let's say, you see me on this podcast and you're like, oh, this guy seems interesting. I'd like to know more what are you going to do? You're going to go to my website. You're going to research me. A lot of where I focus on applying the storytelling is on the homepage of the website or about the different products or services that you offer, because you can have a company story and then you can have a product or a service story. Those things don't have to, they're not exactly the same. So you know, like the whole, I guess the whole point is that you need to have someplace to put those people. And when you put them there, you need to make sure that what you're saying makes sense to them. I use the analogy of a website being like a rep and some websites show up like a rep that's been out all night, partying got stains all over their clothes, hung over, and just talking jibberish random sentences. Yeah. And I see, I see a lot of that with businesses, but other websites, the rep shows up, dressed nice, speaks in clear sentences, short to the point, easy to understand. I may be going off on a tangent with all this, but I just, when you were saying, more trust, more leads, how do we, how do we do this? How do we do that? It doesn't matter how many leads you get if you send them to a drunk, hung over. Like you are shooting yourself in the foot. So I guess that was my...
[00:15:22] Russ Johns: I think the biggest point, the takeaway from that is that you have to have the journey and it has to be a complete journey. I can bring you all the leads in the world, but until you can convert them into something that's actionable and actually you can support that action. It's really not necessarily a marketing effort that you need. It's building your entire system out.
[00:15:46] Seth Erickson: Yeah. I often look at things in the order of operations. And I see leads as being the last thing, right? If you're driving customers to your website, because you're like, I need more leads and then they're going out the other side of your website, right? Like then you're not actually set up to capture leads and you're not even ready to. To push that button and try to capture leads, whether it's running ads or whatever you're doing. Whatever your method is, email...
[00:16:11] Russ Johns: If your bounce rate exceeds your...
[00:16:13] Seth Erickson: yeah. Yeah. So I guess that's why I went off on that tangent because it's yeah I totally understand what you're saying, where people are like, bring me more leads and it's You have no place to capture these leads. Like you have no lead capture, you have no lead magnets, your content is like either too much or it doesn't make any sense or it's too much about you. These are all copywriting kind of problems and some technical problems. And so if you're not ready, then yeah. The customers, you can drive them all there and then get no, no sales.
[00:16:41] Russ Johns: I want to say hi to Karen she's in from Florida. John is in here. Hey John, I owe you a, we need to book a call. I'm excited about... In fact, Seth, I am creating a course. The course is going to be launched on Monday about lead generation using video. Dubb just released 5.0 but there's like you said, there's an entire process that goes on behind the scenes that everybody needs to understand before they activate some of these elements in their business process as well. Elize says Hi Russ, broken shoulder is getting so much better. Thank you. The pain is gone. Thank you so much, Elize for updates, Howard says, think one of your key points of storytelling is a way to bring your brand to life.
[00:17:30] Seth Erickson: Oh yeah.
[00:17:30] Russ Johns: Great point, Howard. Maybe you can talk about that.
[00:17:34] Seth Erickson: Yeah. So with brand, my point of view is that your story is at the center of your brand, and then your customer is at the center of your story. So they're almost like concentric rings. But one of the ways that you bring a brand to life is you create an archetype for that brand. You give it some personality. I almost consider people who say they have brands, but the brand has zero personality. I consider them to not have brands. I consider them to have businesses or companies. And I think of branding as like a person, what do they say, how do they act? What do they wear? What they wear is the design. What they say could be your copywriting. How they act is really the story at the center. This, because culture is created by a story of, this is who we are as a company. So as far as bringing brands to life like you talked about Donald Miller with StoryBrand and I think that's a great book. But I felt like he missed the point of what kind of, I think he calls it the guide. Yeah. What kind of guide that determining that helps you understand how you should speak to your customers, right? Are you a rebel brand? Are you amused brand? Are you magician brand, right? Like
[00:18:39] Russ Johns: I'm under a pirate brand, right?
[00:18:41] Seth Erickson: Yeah. It would probably fall into the rebel category. There's sub-categories of all these categories. So there's a little bit of mix and match. They're not like completely static. Like you may have different elements to your brand personality that fall under a larger archetype. But once you know that then the conversation with your cousin. Can start coming to life because it actually has a freaking person.
[00:19:04] Russ Johns: And I think the other thing that does, which is a great point, and I love you bringing this up is that it actually defines and refines who you're talking to and what the conversation needs to be like, because a lot of people can, do the same thing that we do either one of us, however, our personnel. Our business personality and our professional personality and our personal personality all have to align in order for the people that want to do business with us, that show up in our world and start having conversations.
[00:19:39] Seth Erickson: Yeah. It's a way personality can be used almost like a filter, right? Like you're going to push some people away and you're going to bring some people in closer. But what companies try to do is they just offer up milk toast store vanilla to everybody and then go, I hope they like it. Cause we didn't offend anybody and we didn't say anything questionable or whatever. Like I don't be controversial. Like I, when I so when I wrote my book I very specifically. Told jokes, swore did all kinds of stuff that like you're not supposed to do in a business book. But that is because that's who I am and that's on brand with the company. That's the reason I'm the chief mischief maker and not creative director or whatever.
[00:20:22] Russ Johns: Shenanigans out today.
[00:20:25] Seth Erickson: Yeah. So by having a personality, also, you start to position yourself differently in the marketplace. You start to stand out, you start to not look like, the rest of the sheep. It's like the whole purple cow concept that Seth Godin talks about. One of the ways that you can become a purple cow is not send boring corporate. Messaging and emails or on your website or whatever be a little adventurous in, in how you talk about things or how you think about things. Show that you're not just this soulless corporation or business, and even small businesses do it too. Because nobody ever came along and said, hey, what if you inject some of your personality into your copy, into your website, that's going to help you differentiate yourself from other people who, are providing the same services. So it's one point of differentiation. It's not the only one, but it I see it as a pretty big lever to pull.
[00:21:15] Russ Johns: Absolutely. It's a huge lover. So to wrap up before we run out of time today, Seth, if you were a superhero, what would your superpowers be?
[00:21:24] Seth Erickson: I can tell you, I probably wouldn't be any of the Marvel superheroes. I'd probably be Loki.. And my superpower? Man, I don't know, like I've had other people have these conversations and people are like, oh, I want to be super strong and I want to fly, like I want to be invisible. And I don't know. I love comic book movies, but the Flash, I also like the Flash, so I guess super fast that, that works for me.
[00:21:47] Russ Johns: That works. What's on the next agenda. What's your future hold and how do people connect with you?
[00:21:52] Seth Erickson: So Friday I have my very first book comes out how to hack humans storytelling for startups, but don't worry if you're not a startup. If you're a small business or an entrepreneur, this the same information will work for you. I just, that's our area. So that comes out the 15th. Right now it's on sale. Pre-order on Kindle for 99 cents. And then it'll be 7 99 on paperback and hardcover and whatever, after the, on the 15th on Friday. You can find us at storifyagency.com. If you don't know how to spell agency, reading a book is probably not going to be up your alley. And for people who are listening on the show right now, if you go to storifyagency.com/pirate, we have a landing page where you can download the first chapter of the book and figure out if my sense of humor is your cup of tea or not.
[00:22:42] Russ Johns: Gabe got it. Gabe says if I had a superpower, it would be to make ice cream, people love ice cream and I'd be able to make it lactose tolerant. That's awesome. Love you Gabe. This has been fun. This has been a great conversation, Seth, and I'm so glad that we were able to connect and have a conversation. Me too, the pirate community is continuing to grow. It's very active. Marcia's here. Happy, cool day. Absolutely. The thing that amazes me all the time is the amount of connections I've been able to make over. And making these conversations take place and allowing people to help shine the light on them and everything else. So thank you so much for being here. I really appreciate it.
[00:23:25] Seth Erickson: Yeah. Thank you for having me. It was a lot of fun.
[00:23:27] Russ Johns: Hopefully the experience was pretty painful. Pain-free.
[00:23:31] Seth Erickson: No, it was great. It was definitely a lot of fun. I enjoyed your questions and yeah, I'd love to do it again in the future.
[00:23:37] Russ Johns: You bet. You bet. Everyone. Thank you so much for being here. I really appreciate you and all you do. Look forward to the next episode is tomorrow. I used to do these five days a week, Seth and I went from five days to three days, and then Wednesday night, I'm going to do Wednesday at 5:00 PM Arizona time. So catch us tomorrow night, longer show, deeper conversations. But Seth, thank you so much for being here. I look forward to having you on the pirate crew. And making future communications and join us in the future as well.
[00:24:11] Seth Erickson: That sounds good, man.
[00:24:13] Russ Johns: Yeah. All right,everyone, as you know, #kindnessiscool and #smilesarefree, so you #enjoythe day.
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