The Godfather of Digital Marketing – Interview With Ryan Deiss

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The Ryan Deiss Interview

Are you trying to predict what’s next in digital marketing? If you ask Ryan Deiss, effective marketing is not about being on the cutting edge. It’s about leaning into what’s working right NOW. And you might be surprised what channels matter most for growing your business in this moment.

Ryan is the Cofounder and CEO of Digital Marketer, the premiere training platform for growing your business online. Known as one of the world’s leading digital marketers, Ryan created the well-known Customer Value Optimization methodology and used it to start multiple companies around the globe. He is also the Cofounder of the Traffic and Conversion Summit, the largest digital marketing conference in North America, and Ryan is a sought-after speaker and recognized expert on marketing in the online era.

On this episode of Founders Club, Ryan joins Oliver to share his secrets for managing multiple ventures at once, discussing how his leadership team is structured and what responsibilities he outsources to an executive assistant. Ryan walks us through his journey from selling eBooks for extra money as a college freshman to CEO of Digital Marketer, describing the pivotal moment when he jotted down what has become the customer value journey—on the back of a napkin at a hotel bar. Listen in for Ryan’s surprising insight around what marketing channels are hot right now and learn how you can implement his one-page marketing plan to grow your real estate business! 

Here is how the interview breaks down:

[1:09] How Ryan manages multiple ventures at once

  • Involved in day-to-day during launch, hand off to dedicated team
  • Monday leadership meetings guide how serve teams that week

[8:01] How Ryan’s leadership team is structured

  • General manager for each venture
  • Centralized specialists work across all divisions (e.g.: HR, sales)

[13:04] The role of Ryan’s virtual executive assistant

  • Matched through agency based on personality tests
  • Meet 2X/week via Zoom to go over calendar + email

[19:24] Ryan’s journey from selling eBooks to Digital Marketer

  • Freelance as web designer in college, only client paid with eBook
  • Expanded to 200 websites based on common search terms
  • Asked to speak at marketing conferences, do consulting work

[25:33] The genesis of Ryan’s famed customer value journey

  • 2006 algorithm shift led to failure, $250K in debt buying ads
  • Jot down how business gets customers on million-dollar napkin
  • Use realization to create standardization and rebuild business

[32:00] What’s hot right now in digital marketing

  • Instagram stories
  • Email newsletters

[43:11] Ryan’s insight around marketing on YouTube

  • Use retargeting for high ROI
  • Don’t break eye contact with camera

[45:17] How Ryan would approach a new real estate market

  • Put energy in product = properties know can lease
  • Create custom audience of likely tenants on Facebook, Google
  • Bring on right partners to learn and gain experience

[52:19] The habits that have helped Ryan achieve his big goals

  • Wake up at 6am, no snooze
  • Document each day in planner (evaluate big wins, lessons)

[57:12] Ryan’s advice on getting eyes online

  • Buy ads on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube
  • Advertise to CONTENT

[1:01:02] What Ryan is investing in right now

  • Put money back into own company
  • Buy art at auction (up and comers)

[1:05:56] The one thing Ryan wishes he’d known sooner

  • Better cashflow management
  • Basic business budgeting

Listen Here:

Key Takeaway:

Are you trying to predict what’s next in digital marketing? If you ask Ryan Deiss, effective marketing is not about being on the cutting edge. It’s about what’s working right NOW. Today, Ryan joins Oliver to share the hottest channels for growing your real estate business and explain how to implement his one-page marketing plan!  

Links to your favorite other players:

🎧Listen on Itunes here.

🎧Listen on Spotify here.

🎧Listen on Sticher here.

🎧Listen on Iheart Radio here.

🎥Watch Full Video on YouTube here: https://youtu.be/66kOsPbg_0E

Full Transcript Below:

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Oliver Graf:

Welcome to another episode of Founders Club. Today we are out here in beautiful Punta Mita, Mexico at the Four Seasons resort and we’re going to be sitting down with Ryan Deiss, the co-founder of digitalmarketer.com. We’re going to be talking about how you can leverage and grow your business using digital marketing, his one page marketing plan.

Ryan Deiss:

I had let my business get way too complicated. So I had this napkin, I literally had it framed and I just kept referring back to it and that year I went from almost broke to generating $1 million in revenue. Over the years it’s now a similar version, what we now call the customer value journey, but it’s still on one page.

Oliver Graf:

Yeah. And how to implement it into your business and all of the hottest and most profitable marketing channels that you can use right now to grow your real estate business.

Ryan Deiss:

Like Instagram stories in particular, really, really important. And the ability to present a message sequentially, I think about an Instagram story or a Facebook story and it’s very akin to sending out sequential emails.

Oliver Graf:

If you have any questions, leave them down below. Give us a like, leave us a comment, subscribe to the show and we’ll see you on the inside. So we’re sitting here in Punta Mita enjoying ourselves, enjoying some poolside chats. And I really wanted to have you on because you’re operating in business at such a high level and have been for such a long time. And with all of the things that you’re doing between digital marketer and rival brands and Platter and Proxio and all the different things that you’re running, how are does someone as busy as yourself manage all of that and stay sane?

Ryan Deiss:

The implication is that I stay sane, no man, it’s a mess. It really is. This idea that a lot of people see and they’re like, “Oh, I want to be able to do what you do and have all these different companies and do all these different things.” The truth is I would probably be more successful if I just picked one of them and focused and I drove that. It just wouldn’t be as much fun. So I don’t necessarily encourage anybody necessarily to take the path that I have taken in exploring all aspects of my entrepreneurial ADHD. But I do enjoy and I enjoy being able to scratch all those different inches. I enjoy being able to see how what works in one market can be applied to another. I like the diversification of it. I like knowing that if we were to sell and exit one business, which we’ve done, that I would still have-

Oliver Graf:

A few others, yeah.

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Ryan Deiss:

… other things to work on. Right. And so it’s there, but now in terms of how does it happen, how does it get managed? People. There is no way that I could do it if I was the person in charge of all of those different companies. So the way that we’re primarily structured is, we have general managers that run the companies. They really act as the president, as the operator of that business. And I’m involved in the launch stage and I’m involved in an advisory kind of stage once it’s going, but if we can’t get a good solid operator in that business, then I’ve learned it’s best not to pursue that business.

Oliver Graf:

Wow. That’s really interesting. I was not expecting you to say that. Especially the focus thing, that if you only focused on one thing, you might get better results because we have that problem too where it feels like we’re just focusing on a lot of different things and we get spread really thin. But I wasn’t expecting you to say that so that’s interesting perspective.

Ryan Deiss:

I want to be honest because it is amazing how often people say they want to glorify it and I have so much respect for people who, you look at their Twitter bio and it’s a single company or it’s a series of them and you see there was this company and then formerly this one exit, formerly this one exit. And I’ve got a lot of respect for people who do focus. They pick that one thing and they go hard. It’s just isn’t me. And it never has been. I’ve always run a lot of different things at the same time. I think it’s made me really good at what I do in terms of marketing and in terms of business strategy, but I can’t help but wonder if I wouldn’t have a few more dollars in the bank if I hadn’t really just doubled down and exited-

Oliver Graf:

Worked hard on one.

Ryan Deiss:

Yeah. Exited, built it to a point, sold it, flipped it, went into another one.

Oliver Graf:

Yeah, totally.

Ryan Deiss:

But I also can’t complain.

Oliver Graf:

That’s very interesting. I see both sides, totally.

Ryan Deiss:

Yeah. And I think you have to know who you are in all aspects, whatever business you’re pursuing or career. I think you need to make sure that what you’re doing aligns with who you are and what you enjoy and what you think is fun. I wouldn’t have any fun if I just only had one thing to work on all the time. I’ve seen me do it by the way, what I do, and I bet I’m not alone, I bet other entrepreneurs do this as well. I’ll linger and then break it so that I can fix it. So it’s best if I get it going and get it started to move onto the next.

Oliver Graf:

Yeah, totally. In that, in keeping it fun and doing what you want to do, I’m sure you’ve built the business to fit your strong suits. What does your day to day involvement look like in the four big ones that you’re running?

Ryan Deiss:

It really depends on the season of any new business that we’re doing. When we’re launching a new company and I’m heavily involved in the day to day. I’m fundamentally the interim general manager heading the marketing, heading product and Richard Lindner, my business partner co-founder at Digital Marketer, he’s really there more on the driving the ops in the day to day, keeping everything in line, doing the project management. I’m there more on the marketing side. So we have a really good solid division of labor there. We’ll kind of partner up, have creative talent because neither of us are that creative. So when it comes to design and video and getting that, we’ll go in and get something launched. But once it reaches some point of traction, once it’s doing … maybe we’re looking at 30,000 a month or 50,000 a month. Once it can begin to have its own dedicated team, that’s when it gets it. That’s when I step away.

Ryan Deiss:

And normally what my day looks like, I’ve got a Monday leadership meeting. I used to be just morally opposed to Monday meetings because I wanted to get started. But now I’ve got to and the most productive thing for me to do is to meet with all of our leadership team. And that includes the general managers of our different divisions, that includes the specialists that help cross the different divisions. Find out how are we progressing towards our company wide goals and what are the big initiatives that we’re working on. And everybody goes around and they talk about where they need help. And my primary job is just to move around and help where I can and whether that’s diving in and helping an area that I’m particularly skilled at, whether it’s making some phone calls and opening up my Rolodex, whether it’s just approving additional budget, if that’s what it takes. I’m primarily there to unblock blockages, kind of like a business plumber.

Oliver Graf:

Unblock blockages, I like that. And sometimes you get your hands dirty and sometimes it’s just making a connection or providing a solution, stuff like that.

Ryan Deiss:

I show up, I walk into the door on Monday and I generally have a sense of what I’m going to do that week, what my big projects are going to be. And I always start out each week with three big projects that I want to execute, that I believe I can complete in that week, but the third one I leave open. I’ve got a general idea-

Oliver Graf:

Flex.

Ryan Deiss:

… of what it could do but I sit there and I listen and I wait. And I think at the stage where we are, I don’t get to decide what I’m going to do. There’s people around me and my job is to serve them and to do what they do. So I don’t have a lot of predictability often in my week, which I can just slain about, but if I’m being honest, it’s what I like.

Oliver Graf:

You like it. I feel like I totally agree with that. I like the building each week as it goes.

Ryan Deiss:

Right.

Oliver Graf:

Totally. And what’s the format for those meetings? Is that all the companies together or it’s all of them?

Ryan Deiss:

The way that we’re structured, our holding company has a … there’s Richard, Roland and I who are leading the company. I am the face of it. I’ll CEO, so I’ll be the one primarily driving the vision and communicating the vision. Richard is president, he’s more managing the operational side of it, managing the day to day. Roland is there who I know you’ve had on the show before. Roland is the deal maker and so Roland is going to be the one who gets us into new ventures, gets us out of existing ventures through an exit. He’s handling a lot of the strategic partnerships and relationships, really good on the strategy, but he primarily is not there during the day to day. He’s not really involved in that meeting.

Ryan Deiss:

So it’s Richard and I, it is the general managers of the different companies. And then we also have specialists who do a particular area that is needed across all the divisions. So for example, finance and accounting is centralized. And so Tom who heads finance and accounting, he’s there. HR is centralized. So if somebody is talking about needing to hire, that’s going to get discussed at a whole. We’ve got content and editorial is centralized, sales, believe it or not is centralized.

Oliver Graf:

When you centralized, you’re talking about part of the holding company and that way you can deploy-

Ryan Deiss:

Correct.

Oliver Graf:

… where needed across all the other four [crosstalk 00:09:35].

Ryan Deiss:

Our leadership team is made up of specialists and it’s made up of general managers. General managers are essentially the CEO of a particular company. They have P&L responsibility. They’re primarily revenue focused, but they drive their own P&L, they’re responsible for that P&L. They are supported by what winds up working as almost an internal agency. Our sales team, we have centralized at the holding company level because it’s amazing how often somebody is interested in purchasing something from digital marketer, but we find out, oh, they could also use this area over here.

Oliver Graf:

Wow, so you centralize sales also.

Ryan Deiss:

Yeah.

Oliver Graf:

Wow.

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Ryan Deiss:

And that’s something that we went back and forth on. It may not stay that way forever, and what we do wind up placing … creative is centralized under content and editorial. But we will, if a designer is really needed dedicated on a division, we’ll have that dedicated designer that reports into this team. But they kind of sit with the centralized group because they benefit from that comradery.

Oliver Graf:

All of it together.

Ryan Deiss:

Yeah. And so it’s taken a while to build the teams to do that, and it was horribly inefficient in the beginning to figure out how everything worked.

Oliver Graf:

What to centralize, what not to centralize.

Ryan Deiss:

Yeah. But now we can go and launch something new. And from day one, it has pretty world-class creative and content and editorial. It has world-class finance and accounting and HR.

Oliver Graf:

That’s great.

Ryan Deiss:

So we can start a business from scratch and the very first employee coming in is going to have full benefits and health and all the other stuff that you wouldn’t have at a traditional startup.

Oliver Graf:

Oh, I see what you’re saying because-

Ryan Deiss:

So what we really wanted to do is to create a company that can birth other companies and that’s what we’ve done.

Oliver Graf:

I love that. Creating companies that can birth other companies. I love that.

Ryan Deiss:

If you think about it, I know obviously your background is real estate and a lot of the listeners are in real estate. It’s not that different from owning a real estate holding company. You’re going out there and you’re buying different properties and you’re going to centralize, you’re going to have people that they can be on the acquisition side or on the sales side across multiple properties. But in a sense, if you’ve got especially a multi-tenant building that’s operating panel on its own P&L, right?

Oliver Graf:

Yeah.

Ryan Deiss:

So I do the same thing, it’s just we’re building more of a portfolio of companies as opposed to a portfolio of properties.

Oliver Graf:

Yeah, that’s a great analogy actually because it is almost identical. Each property would be in its own LLC, potentially have its own … but then you could centralize property management across the board and-

Ryan Deiss:

And on our centralized, the underlying LLCs, they do pay fees to those companies. So they have contracts. So if we were to go and sell one of those companies, the contracts can be preserved. We sold a business … last year we sold off our event, Traffic and Conversion Summit. Well, that event Traffic and Conversion Summit, which was its own separate company, had contracts with Digital Marketer to do the marketing and the programming. It had contracts with Boost Events, which is our internal events company. Well, we sold that business and yet we maintain the cash flow-

Oliver Graf:

Where you keep the contracts.

Ryan Deiss:

… and the contracts from those, which is not again too dissimilar from a property holding company selling off the business and maintaining the management contracts. And by the way, that’s where we got the idea. I’m not going to sit here and pretend like we came up with this all on our own.

Oliver Graf:

It’s pretty slick though. I like it.

Ryan Deiss:

We looked across different groups that do it.

Oliver Graf:

Very cool. What about in your day to day, do you have an assistant?

Ryan Deiss:

Oh yeah.

Oliver Graf:

Multiple?

Ryan Deiss:

No. Well, okay. I sort of have multiple. I have an executive assistant who is virtual. I never in a million years thought that that would work because I tried it and it was great.

Oliver Graf:

Wow, I need to know about this.

Ryan Deiss:

I’ll give a plug that I know the owners and they’re great people, but I am not incentivized in any way to plug them. But Belay Solutions-

Oliver Graf:

Belay, like mountain, repelling.

Ryan Deiss:

Yeah, like all the-

Oliver Graf:

Got it.

Ryan Deiss:

Yeah, B-E-L-A-Y, belaysolutions.com. They will find a person, they have you do personality tests, they have virtual assistants doing personality tests. They’ll kind of match you up because it’s a pretty intimate role.

Oliver Graf:

Totally.

Ryan Deiss:

And they’re working primarily with stay at home moms who they want to work part time. So they’re generally based out of the States.

Oliver Graf:

That’s great.

Ryan Deiss:

And so yeah, we got connected there but I would have a really hard time operating because she does manage all my calendars, she’s in my inbox, everything.

Oliver Graf:

How are you able to … because we’ve tried a couple of virtual assistants, especially at a like actually your assistant level and just haven’t been able to crack the code. How are you managing this person and communicating? Is it email only?

Ryan Deiss:

Again, I got to give credit to Belay. Not only do they help source the person, but they also essentially onboard both of you and teach you how to work together.

Oliver Graf:

Now that’s great.

Ryan Deiss:

And what they said is they said, “You need to meet twice a week via Zoom. You got to be looking each other in the eye, face to face.” And I told him, I said, “That’s crazy. We can just do a call.” And even she was like, “I don’t want to do it face to face. That means I’ve got to put on makeup before I get on the Zoom call and all this other stuff.”

Oliver Graf:

I’ve got to get out of my pajamas.

Ryan Deiss:

Yeah, and it’s in the morning for me. And I’m in Texas, I’m in Austin and she’s in California. So if we’re meeting at 9:00 AM for a quick check in, then that’s pretty early for her. And they said, look, just do it. Try it. And one thing for me, if I pay somebody money, I will trust them implicitly. I’m going to do what you tell me to do. I’m going to have my own opinions and ideas and if what you’re doing doesn’t work out, I’m going to revert to mine, but I’m going to fully trust you because you know this, we have people that hire us and pay us whether we’re doing consulting or they’re in a mastermind and they just want to freaking argue with you when you give them ideas. And having been on the other side, I refuse to do that to other people. I was like, fine, I’m going to trust you implicitly. And I’m so glad I did because it worked. Every Monday at 9:00 AM, we’ve got to check in. Unless if I’m out of town or something, we don’t do it.

Ryan Deiss:

And we just go over, here’s my calendar for the week. She points out things that I need to keep an eye on. She’ll say, “Hey, you’ve got this email in your inbox from this person. It takes 20 minutes.” And that sets the tone. We’ll have a check in again on Thursday morning. And sometimes if everything is smooth, it’s-

Oliver Graf:

Five minutes.

Ryan Deiss:

… do you need it? But we really try to maintain that, but that’s it. We talk for 20 minutes-

Oliver Graf:

That’s awesome. And does she manage your email inbox?

Ryan Deiss:

Oh yeah. I could not live if it were not for that. So she manages my calendar, my email, inbox, books to travel. When an email comes in to my inbox, if it’s something that I absolutely do not want her to respond to, I’m moving into a folder that is just Ryan’s inbox. A separate folder that I set up, I move it in, she knows don’t touch it. If it’s something I absolutely want her to respond to, I move it into a to respond. But there might be a day or two where I don’t check my email. So if it’s something that she questioning, she’ll leave it there for a bit and say, “Hey, something came in from this person. It looks important.”

Ryan Deiss:

And so over the last couple of years she’s gotten to figure out what’s important, what isn’t, and when in doubt what she will do is she’ll respond from my inbox to somebody saying, “Hey, this is Serena, Ryan’s assistant. Just want to let you know Ryan’s out or Ryan’s busy but I’m gonna make sure that he sees this when we meet again on Thursday. Just wanted you to know you’re not being ignored and all.” I was nervous when she started doing it because like, what if you email me and then you get a response from her? Are you going to think that I’m just a total papa’s prick that I’ve got … Everybody loves it.

Oliver Graf:

And I don’t think so, yeah.

Ryan Deiss:

Right. No, everybody’s like, “Oh great, thank you.”

Oliver Graf:

I think it’s more just getting a response like, “Oh, you’re busy? That’s cool. Get back to me next week or whatever.”

Ryan Deiss:

All of my fears around it, it just wasn’t that big a deal. And now there’s so many people that she’ll be like, “Do you really need to talk this person?” “No. I don’t. Let them know that I’m busy. I’ll try to get with them later.” But between that I’ve got very specific points in my calendar that are blocked off for when outside meetings can be scheduled and it’s just a couple of hours a week. So she can just add her own liberty book those for me if she deems it appropriate, or I’ll say, “Hey, make sure it comes in.” But even if I do respond, I’ll CC her in the email and say, “Hey Serena, can you make sure you book a meeting?” Because I’ll tell you the back and forth of trying to get on somebody’s schedule-

Oliver Graf:

Oh yeah, it’s painful.

Ryan Deiss:

… takes forever. And so to be able to hand that off, that is one of my single biggest productivity hacks, if you will.

Oliver Graf:

Yeah. I just haven’t been able to let go yet. But I’m so at that point because I’m overwhelmed by emails and just need to let go of that.

Ryan Deiss:

And I don’t maintain inbox zero and all times, but it stays pretty light, it stays very manageable. And she’ll tell me, she’ll just, “Hey, you still have this on your inbox.” And so knowing that she’s watching it gives me a sense of freedom that I don’t have to have anxiety about it.

Oliver Graf:

Love it.

Ryan Deiss:

So I think as entrepreneurs, busy professionals, mastering that inbox is important.

Oliver Graf:

Totally.

Ryan Deiss:

And having somebody to help you with it is important. I also have, I mentioned I’ve got kind of two … my mom also helps us out a lot.

Oliver Graf:

Awesome.

Ryan Deiss:

And so my mom handles a lot of the personal stuff because frankly if you can’t trust your mom, who can you trust? And so a lot of the day to day type things, I’ve got mom on the payroll because-

Oliver Graf:

Good for you. I love that.

Ryan Deiss:

… when a Southern boy you make money, you put mom on the payroll-

Oliver Graf:

Bring the family in.

Ryan Deiss:

Exactly.

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Oliver Graf:

Heck yeah. That’s great man. I love that. You started selling eBooks in 1999. That was your start to the digital marketing thing. And then how did it go from that to what it is now? Digitalmarketer.com, basically the 800 pound gorilla, the trusted authority in the digital marketing space.

Ryan Deiss:

Well, I started selling eBooks just because I needed some extra money. I didn’t necessarily set out to launch an online business or anything like that. In 1999 if you were selling things online, generally people were looking at you a little bit sideways. At best, they thought that you were doing stuff on eBay, at worst they assume you’re in porn. I mean, not kidding. People didn’t trust online yet. It was still-

Oliver Graf:

Yeah. What is this internet thing?

Ryan Deiss:

Well, everybody is still wondering like, is this even going to be a thing? It gives us a fad. You think about back then how … go back and read the old articles about Amazon, talking about just what a joke their business was and how-

Oliver Graf:

Oh, it’s crazy.

Ryan Deiss:

And now, today it’s … they didn’t age well. But for me, I just needed to make some extra money. I was poor like a lot of college kids and I had some grants and student loans and that was enough to basically pay tuition and help pay rent. I’ll send a part time job and that kind of bought food. But if I wanted anything else, I need to figure it out. I’ve always been entrepreneurial. I’ve always been willing to go out there and sell stuff and try things. So I got a job as a web designer at a company. I didn’t know how to design websites, but I figured if I got the job I could learn over the weekend. And so I figured out how to do just very basic web design in Microsoft front page. Well, that company wound up going out of business after maybe a month or so of working there. So I began advertising my services as a web designer.

Oliver Graf:

Now you’re a freelancer.

Ryan Deiss:

Now I’m a freelancer. So now I’m an entrepreneur. Well, I only got one client and this one client was a lactation consultant, which-

Oliver Graf:

Interesting service.

Ryan Deiss:

… I don’t know if you know what … exactly. So now I have four kids. My wife nursed all of them. I love these people, generally women and the work they do I think is amazing. As a 19 year old kid it was awkward.

Oliver Graf:

Yeah, totally.

Ryan Deiss:

But she wanted me to build her a website and she was willing to pay. And so I said fine. Well, unfortunately she wasn’t able to pay. Her husband lost his job. She had to go back to work. I built the website, she couldn’t pay me. But she had had this eBook produced on how to make your own baby food, really smart lady. Because she realized that once she taught a mom had a nurse, she was kinda done. And then once that kid was weened, she was definitely done. So she really wanted to transition almost upsell-

Oliver Graf:

The upsell, yeah, right.

Ryan Deiss:

Right. From nursing into just childhood nutrition. How to make your own baby food. So she had this eBook created so ahead of her time, just a simple PDF eBook. And she’s like, “Look, I can’t pay you, but you can have the ebook.” And I’m thinking to myself, what am I going to do with the fricking ebook-

Oliver Graf:

Yeah, what am I going to do with this?

Ryan Deiss:

… on how to make your own baby food? I know how to design a website. I know how to get websites ranked in search engines. At the time, it wasn’t even Google that you were going for. You’re trying to get ranked in like AltaVista and Ranker and these other ones. And so built a simple website, put it up for, I think for sale for $14 and you had a PayPal link because PayPal was brand new back then. And I remember after a couple of days seeing a sale come through and thinking it was fake. Having to go back and check in, I remember going and looking at the order info and trying to figure out, okay, that seems like a real name. That seems like a real person. This I think is real. And then-

Oliver Graf:

This internet thing might actually work.

Ryan Deiss:

Yeah, and delivering the ebook. And then I made another sale and another sale. And then I just remember one day having the thought, what if I had a hundred of these? What if I didn’t just have one ebook? What if I had a hundred? And so the business just became trying to figure out what were people searching for that search engines of the day were not serving up valuable information because-

Oliver Graf:

And playing matchmaker.

Ryan Deiss:

Yeah. If I could intersect the needs of the market, where they were looking, which at the time with some of these early rudimentary search engines, if I showed up, there were no other thing and people would pay for mine. And this was at a time when nobody believed that you could for content. Well, nobody told me that.

Oliver Graf:

Totally. You’re way ahead of your time at this point.

Ryan Deiss:

Nobody told me they couldn’t and so I did it. By the time I graduated from college because I made my first sale in 1999, college dorm room as a freshman. By the time I graduated from college, I had over 200 of these little websites, selling little eBooks, little pieces of software, doing some lead generation, some affiliate things, and was making really, really good money especially for a kid right out of college.

Oliver Graf:

Right out of college, yeah.

Ryan Deiss:

And make a long story short, people started asking me, what are you doing? I remember going to marketing conferences, which back in the early two thousands, there weren’t that many of them and they were really small. And here I am-

Oliver Graf:

It’s like 35 people there and-

Ryan Deiss:

Yeah, and I’m a kid, I’m an actual child. They’re like, “What are you doing?” I’m explaining to them before long, they’re dragging me up on stage asking me to teach what I’m doing.

Oliver Graf:

No way.

Ryan Deiss:

And then people were saying, well, do you have a book on that? No. Do you do consulting? No. And after enough people asking, I finally said, “Yes, I do now.” And that really is how Digital Marketer was born. It started out as a simple little email newsletter where I was talking about what I was doing that was working and partnered up with this guy Perry Belcher probably about a decade after launching this thing. We started doing some stuff. He said we should put on an event. And so we did Traffic and Conversion Summit and it was after the third Traffic and Conversion Summit and looking at in a room of almost a thousand people and we said this might be a thing, we should treat this like a business. And that’s when Digital Marketer was born.

Oliver Graf:

Wow.

Ryan Deiss:

But digital marketer was born out of doing, I think that’s what’s always made us different. We just shared what we were doing. Never tried to be in the business of, of teaching marketers the marketing and the only thing you’ve ever done is teach marketers. You get what I’m saying?

Oliver Graf:

Yeah. Being authentic, actually having results to back it up. Love that. And then fast forward, now you’ve kind of become famous or well known for the one page marketing plan and the customer value journey. Can you speak on how you created that and how that fits into the bigger picture of things for you guys?

Ryan Deiss:

Yes. I jumped ahead in the story. So 99 made the first sale by 2003 had a really good business and then about a decade later had a really big business. Well, what happened in between that time was I had a significant business failure. All of my websites and all my model was really centered around SEO, ranking in Google, free traffic from Google. And then in 2006, there was a really significant algorithm shift and almost overnight all my sites were wiped from the face of the search engines. They were just gone. And I didn’t know how to recover. I was a one trick pony and so I began buying ads. I got to learn this advertising thing now and right about the time I got you pretty good at it and figured it out, I was also about a quarter million dollars in debt. So it was an expensive learning process.

Ryan Deiss:

And I just remember the realization that automatic cash, bank account wise, I can’t get any more loan money. I had max out my credit cards. I had maxed out my line of credit. You figure in 2006 if you could fog a mirror, you could get credit because this is before the-

Oliver Graf:

Totally, before the crash.

Ryan Deiss:

Yeah, before the crash. But even still, there was only so much credit you could get when you’re a self employed person. And I just remember having this realization like I’m broke, like I’m done. I’m not going to be able to do it.

Oliver Graf:

And not only that, but your income source has dried up.

Ryan Deiss:

Yeah. And so I’m thinking, I was sitting at a bar at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas, Texas by myself and drinking. I remember thinking, I’m either going to figure out how to fix this before I leave or I’m going to leave, go to bed and go back and start applying for jobs, which would be weird for me because I never really had one of those.

Oliver Graf:

So you were literally at the crossroads. This is crunch much time.

Ryan Deiss:

Yeah, it was done. And I remember a conversation I had with a buddy of mine who we were talking about, isn’t it interesting how so many great business ideas were written on the back of a napkin. You think about the story of Southwest airlines and drawing the triangle between Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, let’s just do that. And so many … there were companies in the late two thousands that were getting funded by their idea on a napkin. And I don’t know why, just in that moment that conversation popped into my head and I looked up and right there in front of me on the bar, it was a stack of cocktail napkins. And so I grabbed it, I borrowed a pen from the bartender and I told myself, “If I can describe how my business actually makes money on this napkin, then I’m going to give it another go. If I can’t, then it’s too complicated. I don’t actually know what I’m doing.”

Ryan Deiss:

And when I drew out on the napkin, I said, “Well, I need to generate traffic and that traffic needs to come into a landing page where I get a lead. And then once somebody, ops in, I need to make a small offer.” What back then we call it a self liquidating offer. Term I heard from Dan Kennedy what was later re-termed a trip wire by Perry or an entry point offer. So I’m going to lead magnet to trip wire and then I’m immediately going to offer them something else. And if they don’t buy any of these things, I’m going to put them in a followup series and try to bring them back over here. And I simply, what I drew out on that napkin was a basic funnel, a very basic marketing funnel. I remember looking at it going, that’s it.

Oliver Graf:

That’s simple.

Ryan Deiss:

That’s it. I need to get back to doing what I was doing from the get go all the way back in 1999 where what if I had a hundred of these things? What if I just cranked out one simple thing. I let my business get way too complicated. I moved in 15 different directions there, there was no consistency across any of them. No standardization, no process. Every one of them is completely different. And I realized that I had made it too complex. So I’m going to go back, I’m going to look at the businesses at the properties I own that are actually making money and I just shut down all but about six of them. And I said, “I’m going to execute this on just those six and I’m just going to start making money.”

Ryan Deiss:

And that’s what I did. And so I had this napkin, I literally had it framed and I just kept referring back to it. And that year I went from almost broke to generating $1 million in revenue from those six sites. I call that my million dollar napkin in telling that story to other people and kind of evolving it over the years, it’s now a similar version, what we now call the customer value journey. It’s the new napkin, it’s just gotten a little bit bigger, but it’s still on one page. But I still tell people, if you cannot articulate how your company creates customers from scratch, that is the single most important question that every business must answer. How do we generate customers from scratch? And if you cannot articulate that and visualize that on a single sheet of paper, it’s too complicated. You’re not going to be able to grow.

Ryan Deiss:

And so started with a napkin, became a one page marketing plan, the customer value journey and we still apply that same methodology to every single business we go into now.

Oliver Graf:

Today.

Ryan Deiss:

Yeah.

Oliver Graf:

All off that one napkin from that one bar in Dallas.

Ryan Deiss:

And that napkin is still framed in my office.

Oliver Graf:

I love that.

Ryan Deiss:

The ink is fading, and maybe by the time it fades completely, the lesson will be fully established because if I look back on every screw up that I have in business that’s really significant since then, it’s when I deviated from the napkin.

Oliver Graf:

Deviated from the napkin, ain’t that crazy? Wow. That’s great. And so that was basically the funnel, the creation of the funnel.

Ryan Deiss:

Yeah. Well, I mean, look-

Oliver Graf:

And converting-

Ryan Deiss:

I’m not going to pretend like I invented the funnel. That had been out there for a while but yeah, the concept of the five step funnel, like a lead magnet into a trip wire into a core offer, into a profit maximizer with a return path if somebody falls out of it, the early seeds of that were on that napkins.

Oliver Graf:

That’s great. What a cool story. Let’s switch gears a little bit.

Ryan Deiss:

All right.

Oliver Graf:

Your finger is always on the digital marketing pulse. You’re speaking all over the world on the topic. What do you see being really hot right now?

Ryan Deiss:

What do I see being hot right now that people are talking about or what do I see being hot right now that actually matters?

Oliver Graf:

Let’s do both.

The Ryan Deiss Interview_ The Godfather of Digital Marketing _ Founders Club 12-19 screenshot

Ryan Deiss:

Okay. When I look at the stuff that people are talking about, it seems like everybody’s talking about AI, artificial intelligence and machine learning. See a lot of people talking about augmented reality, see a lot people talk about virtual reality and these different things. And I gotta tell you, I’m not seeing it. I’m not actually seeing its impact from applications-

Oliver Graf:

Connecting the dots.

Ryan Deiss:

… perspective where I’m not saying that it doesn’t matter, but when you look at something like AI and machine learning, for example, which is a really important development, I’m not saying that it isn’t a thing or that it won’t matter. What we’re seeing is it’s getting built into the tools that we’re already using. So if you’re buying Google ads or Facebook ads, or if you’re running a CRM like HubSpot or Salesforce, all of these tools have AI and machine learning built into them. And so what’s happening with AI machine learning, it’s not that it doesn’t matter that it isn’t important, it’s that it’s evenly distributed. Everybody’s kind of getting it in the tools that they’re already using. And so it’s not that it doesn’t matter, it’s that I don’t see there being a unique entrepreneurial advantage.

Oliver Graf:

Right. To going all in on AI.

Ryan Deiss:

Right. And yet I hear people say like, “Oh, what’s your AI strategy?” And other folks feeling like they have to come up with something because they sound like they’re uncool or out of touch if they don’t. And I’ve been just saying for years, I’m like, I don’t see it. Voice search is another one of those things that everybody’s talking about. Gary Vaynerchuk, who’s a friend of mine, spoke at our event, really hot on voice search. And I’m just not seeing the people I know like the real life humans than I interact with on a day to day basis, doing a lot with voice search. Nine times out of 10 when I’m using Siri, it’s I didn’t mean to. I pressed the wrong button or I did something. So I’m not saying it won’t be a thing, it just isn’t a thing now worth doubling down on.

Ryan Deiss:

And so I guess the big lesson that I have and when I talk to people and they say, what’s next? What’s next? I’d be less concerned about what’s next and be more interested in what’s now. Marketers feel like they always have to be on the cutting edge. And you just don’t.

Oliver Graf:

Wow, that’s interesting.

Ryan Deiss:

You just don’t, I absolve you of the responsibility of needing to be on the cutting edge. And I tell people, you need to get more redneck friends. When my redneck friends are interested in something, that’s when I’ll start to pay attention to it. So what’s hot right now that really matters? Instagram, Facebook has been around for a while. Now, I say Instagram and people are like, well, obviously. But look, most of my friends only really got into Instagram the last couple of years in the last year or so.

Oliver Graf:

And they’re probably on it every day.

Ryan Deiss:

Yeah, they’re on it every day. So look at that, like where they are. So I see like Instagram stories in particular, really, really important. And the ability to present a message sequentially, I think about an Instagram story or a Facebook story and it’s very akin to sending out sequential emails. So a sequence to autoresponder type email where on day one they get this one and the next day they get this one and the next day they get this one. We know that sequencing out of messaging can be really, really powerful-

Oliver Graf:

Definitely, yeah.

Ryan Deiss:

… in the same way that great movies and soap operas we’ll open loops and go to a commercial break and then come back. That can be really powerful. Stories mimic that and telling stories is an area where people should really be looking very, very closely at. I think that social and looking at the new social channels, I do believe that Tik Tok is going to be a thing. So I think-

Oliver Graf:

You do?

Ryan Deiss:

I do. Looking at Tik Tok, I think that Tik Tok is going to be a thing. I really didn’t feel that way about Snapchat and I still don’t think for most people that it … a lot of people like, “Oh what’s your snap chat strategy at Digital Marketer?” Double down on Instagram because our people aren’t there yet. We’re watching it, it’s not that you stick your head in the sand and don’t pay any attention, but I’ll watch it on monitor. I’ll see where it’s going. But I’m not going to double down on that as a strategy until my customers are there, until my people are there. If they’re not there-

Oliver Graf:

Like Gary V went hard on Snapchat.

Ryan Deiss:

Yeah. And look, his business is being on the cutting edge. He runs an agency who pay him, big brands that pay him because they want to be out on the front edge and they’ve got the budget to do that. I deal mostly with entrepreneurs or at least entrepreneurial companies, not massively large brands. If you’re a massively large brand, they’re going to take 1% of their budget-

Oliver Graf:

Sprinkle it over here, sprinkle it over there.

Ryan Deiss:

Yeah, and so it makes all the sense of the world for him to do that because his customers are there. Now, his customers’ customers aren’t there, but they don’t care about that yet. That’s R&D for them and that’s good. That’s what they should do. Let them do that. Let them do that. I don’t feel any obligation, but I will tell you, I think Tik Tok is different. It’s one that I would keep an eye on. I would go out there, I’d get your brand, go and lock down your brand on that channel. That’s something we’re looking at very closely.

Oliver Graf:

How do you see that fitting in? How do you see Tik Tok fitting in?

Ryan Deiss:

Tik Tok is attracting the next generation just below the Instagram generation. So what you had is … like, we’re old, right?

Oliver Graf:

Way old.

Ryan Deiss:

And so for us, I remember when all the young whippersnappers were on Facebook and it’s like Facebook is stupid because obviously my career predates Google, much less like Facebook and Twitter. And I remember when those happened, but it was kind of our generation and the generation older. The parents and the grandparents want to see pics of their kids, they really came onto Facebook and that’s why it grew so quickly. Then you had a bit of a lull for a while. Facebook, Instagram really dominated it. You had Google+ trying to make a run at it, that didn’t work.

Oliver Graf:

Fade away, yeah.

Ryan Deiss:

Too dominant. Then you had Snapchat come in and Snapchat really was attractive to that younger demographic, that really their parents were on Facebook, so Facebook was uncool. But what was happening at about the same time in a bigger way was Instagram and Instagram was easier to use. It was just a little bit earlier, had a little bit more traction. And so I think kind of that next tier, all the folks who are, they’re adults, but they’re maybe a little bit younger than we are, they really see Instagram as their primary platform.

Oliver Graf:

Totally.

Ryan Deiss:

The generation just-

Oliver Graf:

And then Instagram swiped the rug out from Snapchat with integrating stories-

Ryan Deiss:

Exactly, they did stories.

Oliver Graf:

… and then that literally to me it was like, I’m over Snapchat overnight.

Ryan Deiss:

That was it. Now what you have is you have Tik Tok getting the generation just below. So I don’t think it’s there yet because all the people who are really hot and bothered by it, they’re either on the other channels too or they have no money because they’re children. But I do think that it will be the next one because nobody wants to use their parents’ media. You don’t want to listen to your parents’ music. You don’t want to do that.

Oliver Graf:

No, that’s an interesting observation.

Ryan Deiss:

And what will wind up happening to the generation below that is Facebook will be retro and it’ll come back around again. And that’s what you will have. And if you look in most major channels, you have three or four players. And so I do see Tik Tok stepping into that area. So I’d encourage people look at that. But I’ll tell you the one big thing, and that I believe is the big thing right now. And I say it and people laugh at me, email newsletters.

Oliver Graf:

Wow. Definitely wasn’t expecting to hear that.

Ryan Deiss:

Email newsletters.

Oliver Graf:

The old trusted standard.

Ryan Deiss:

The old [crosstalk 00:39:52] email newsletter, which is how I got my start. We called them [easings 00:39:55]. You remember when they were called easings.

Oliver Graf:

The easings, oh yeah.

Ryan Deiss:

If you’re watching by the way and you remember easing-

Oliver Graf:

Shout out.

Ryan Deiss:

You’re old, yeah. But what happened is, what killed the easing was kind of the blog. Because I remember we would send out email newsletters that had content and we were putting content in people’s inboxes. And then blogging happened. Well, this is silly. We can put this content on a blog, on a website, we can blog now people will be able to find it. It’s not just our email subscribers. And so our email list will be there to merely tell people that we posted something on the blog and so it’s just what we did. And we all stopped putting content in our subscribers inboxes. We started putting notifications, we stopped putting just actual-

Oliver Graf:

There’s a link.

Ryan Deiss:

Right. We stopped putting actual content in their inboxes and as marketers, we were all collectively rewarded, that decision was rewarded with lower open rates, higher unsubscribes, people bailing out, because there was no value in the medium itself. And we all know social is about putting content in the feed. If you want to succeed in Facebook or Twitter or Instagram, you don’t just post stuff telling people to click a link to go somewhere else. You don’t do that.

Oliver Graf:

Yeah. Why would you?

Ryan Deiss:

Right. You need to put the content in the feed. We know that we relearn that lesson with social, we somehow forgot about it in email. And so what you’re seeing is this renaissance of the email newsletter, this kind of generation that came after. There’s the skimm.com, is a newsletter company. It’s a daily newsletter targeted primarily at millennial women. The hustle.co, similar one, Morning Brew. So we’re seeing this resurgence in this renaissance of really newsletter first media companies. And even at digital first media companies like Quartz and some of these large wealth and media companies, they’re finding they’re getting all their traction for their newsletters. I think what made all the difference in the world was this, mobile. Because if you think about how you consume email on a mobile device, it’s actually quite an enjoyable experience. The text-

Oliver Graf:

Read it at your leisure.

Ryan Deiss:

Yeah. And unlike a social feed, which is just never ending, so there’s no satisfaction when you get to the bottom of an email, you’re done.

Oliver Graf:

That’s a win.

The Ryan Deiss Interview_ The Godfather of Digital Marketing _ Founders Club 36-31 screenshot

Ryan Deiss:

Yeah. It’s a really good feeling. So when I look at what’s new, what’s hot, those are are the three things I’m looking at. LinkedIn is like where Facebook was five, six years ago, but it’s still more B2B in professionals. But if you’re targeting those, that’s a place where organic can work. I’ve been generally-

Oliver Graf:

I feel like LinkedIn just needs some work on like user friendliness.

Ryan Deiss:

They do.

Oliver Graf:

And user experience.

Ryan Deiss:

But I’ll tell you when they get that figured out, more people will be there.

Oliver Graf:

Totally.

Ryan Deiss:

So do it right now before it gets user-friendly.

Oliver Graf:

It’s great tip.

Ryan Deiss:

But I think if you’re really working hard on stories, both Facebook and Instagram, if you’re keeping an eye on Tik Tok, that’s kind of more of the future, the way off. But I think having a good solid email strategy. Email is still where most businesses generate their revenue. Nobody talks about it because it’s not cool.

Oliver Graf:

It’s totally uncool.

Ryan Deiss:

It’s super uncool. It’s just where all the money is made. So give me uncool.

Oliver Graf:

Hey man, that’s a great tip from a legend in the marketing space. So I’ll take that all day. What about a YouTube ads? How do you see those fitting into the scheme of things?

Ryan Deiss:

I think now they’re critical. So I think for a lot of them, people are seeing it as new. We’ve been running YouTube ads and specifically retargeting ads on YouTube for the last five, six years, four or five years at least. And they’re our single highest ROI channel.

Oliver Graf:

Really?

Ryan Deiss:

Now, we don’t get the volume that we get on some of the other ones, but now I’m in YouTube ads, especially for retargeting, which if you don’t know what that is, that’s somebody comes to your website, maybe they view another YouTube video, you’re able to drop a tracking pixel via Google and Facebook and now when somebody goes to YouTube, they’re seeing your ad. So it could be for anything. So God help you. If you got a trafficandconversionsummit.com, you will-

Oliver Graf:

We’re coming for you.

Ryan Deiss:

You will start seeing … you will be so sick of me and I’m going to apologize in advance, but God dang it, they work. They work really, really, really well.

Oliver Graf:

So do some research. Go to trafficandconversionsummit.com and see what they’re up to because they’re very heavy on that. And I’m always actually really amazed at how cheap it still is in comparison to everything else.

Ryan Deiss:

It’s because it requires a little bit of work. Producing a simple social ad is easy, buying a Google ad words ad is easy. If it’s easy, everybody does it. If there’s any barrier to entry whatsoever, that’s instantly going to remove about 80% of the audience.

Oliver Graf:

Now you actually have to make a video.

Ryan Deiss:

Yeah, weird, right? But it doesn’t have to be much.

Oliver Graf:

Totally.

Ryan Deiss:

And really on YouTube, the more intimate, the more personal, the better. This is what we’re doing right now and a lot of times you’re filming videos that have multi-camera setups and you’re doing cuts. What works best on YouTube is just straight in the camera the entire time. Never break eye contact. You can shoot in 4K and cut in and cut out, but we got that advice from some other folks who were big on YouTube and they’re like, stop doing the really fancy cuts on cameras.

Oliver Graf:

No, that’s very interesting.

Ryan Deiss:

They said just keep it-

Oliver Graf:

Just talk to the person.

Ryan Deiss:

Keep an eye contact, talk to the person and-

Oliver Graf:

Wow, that’s a great tip.

Ryan Deiss:

And we did see a nice little bump from an engagement perspective.

Oliver Graf:

Love that. So get on your YouTube ads because that’s going to be really important. Oh yeah, I want to ask you a hypothetical question.

Ryan Deiss:

Okay.

Oliver Graf:

If you started working in real estate and you moved into a new market, you didn’t know anybody, what would Ryan Deiss do to start attracting people?

Ryan Deiss:

Attracting buyers or sellers?

Oliver Graf:

Customers, either.

Ryan Deiss:

Because on the real estate market, you got to work both sides.

Oliver Graf:

Yeah, that’s true.

Ryan Deiss:

That’s why real estate … like I have so much respect for people in the real estate business because what I know about other businesses is the marketplace model is one of the hardest businesses in the world to run, to get going. You think about Uber, right? They have to attract both riders and drivers. Real estate is the same way. You’ve got to get listings and you have to get sales. So what I would do is I would put all of my energy and all of my focus in finding a property that I knew I could lease because I don’t so much want to do the flips. I want to get into stuff and have things a bit more for the longterm.

Ryan Deiss:

I want to make sure that I’m building some annuities, at least from the get go because I know me. I can get addicted to the quick cash and I can get stupid. So I just know me. It’s better if I go in and do that. So now I would start, probably I would do manual labor and have somebody do manual labor to seek out some good properties that I knew I could lease and I would put all the effort in figuring out how do you get the right tenants in there. So looking at re-targeting for people who I know are leasing similar buildings, doing all the research there. But for me it’s, you first have to identify … you have to start with a product. So what is the thing that you are going to sell? I got to feel good about that. So it’s just, I got to secure, what’s the thing I’m going to get? And what I know is if it’s the right deal, I know I can get the money. So I don’t worry about that.

Oliver Graf:

Yeah. Money is looking for good deals.

Ryan Deiss:

It absolutely. So what advantage would I have in a brand new market right off the bat? A willingness to work, which is a huge advantage that a lot of people don’t think. Like I will work, I will hustle, I will do my research. I will put in the time, I will make the phone calls and I will do the manual labor that other folks aren’t willing to do one time I will do it. And then once we have it, I’ll build a process around it. Next time somebody else is doing it while I’m watching them.

Ryan Deiss:

But I’ll do it. I’ll find the property because until I have a product, I can’t do what I do best, which is market. And so I’d want to put all the effort into finding that product, bring around the right partners, wouldn’t care so much about margin at that point. Wouldn’t really even care about trying to get the best possible deal. What I want to do is make sure I have something that I know somebody want to occupy. So I don’t want to be on the wrong side of town where, oh gosh, look at all the margin. If I can fill it, I don’t want to worry about that. I want to make sure that I have a good one because the first deal I’m just want to learn. I’d want to get to know, because it’s a part of that process, that’s when I would meet other people. That’s when I would get exposure. I think all too often everybody wants their first deal to be the perfect one and so they never do a deal.

Oliver Graf:

Very true.

Ryan Deiss:

In my experience, do a deal whether that deal is launching a crappy little website on how to make your own baby food, whether that deal is partnering up with somebody else to do it and you don’t make the best margin but you learn, you’ve got to get in the game. But from a marketing perspective, I would identify who are the most likely tenants. I would create custom audiences for those. So I can figure out by name, location, who are these people, come up with a list of 500 to a thousand likely tenants in that space. I would upload that list and create a custom audience in Facebook and Google. And you better believe that anytime they went to any of those properties they would see-

Oliver Graf:

And just pummel that [crosstalk 00:49:09].

Ryan Deiss:

… they would see my listing there. They would absolutely see my listing there.

Oliver Graf:

Nice, I love that. And even before that, if you don’t have a listing yet, go out and find the nice property that’s vacant and staged and ask the listing agent, “Hey, can I market this property for you?” And then now you’ve got a great property in a great area that you can work your magic on.

Ryan Deiss:

Just do a deal. I cannot express that enough. And that’s always been my mentality but where I learned that was really from Roland Frasier. Roland and I met in Morton, he was a ward member, and he wanted to become business partners with us. And so he’s like, any deal you got, I’m in. Well, the first deal that we talked to him about was a terrible deal and he knew it, but he’s like, “I’m in. I’m in as an investor, I’ll be involved.” He knew it was a terrible deal, but that was the price he was willing to pay for the learning and for the relationship and for the proof. I think too few people are willing to do that.

Oliver Graf:

That’s great.

Ryan Deiss:

They can’t stomach the ego of a failure or something like that.

Oliver Graf:

That’s great advice. I love that. I threw out this interview on Facebook and got a couple of Facebook questions. This one we already touched on, so I’m going to skip it. Billy Colestock said, shout out to Billy Colestock. What-

Ryan Deiss:

See, now I want you to do the one that you skipped. Now I’m curious. We can’t skip it.

Oliver Graf:

Okay, let’s go back. Let’s do it.

Ryan Deiss:

Okay.

Oliver Graf:

David Albeniz says, what are things that you outsource and how do you manage it?

Ryan Deiss:

Some things that I outsource are all aspects of day to day people management because I realize the nature of my work when I’m best does not align as effectively to doing daily meetings with people and weekly stand ups. So I’m really better at operating not as a direct manager. I can lead leaders but I can’t lead individual contributors. And so I know that. So that’s something that-

Oliver Graf:

Interesting distinction.

Ryan Deiss:

And it’s a fundamentally different skill set.

Oliver Graf:

Totally.

Ryan Deiss:

The leading of leaders is really more of an advisory kind of thing. The leading of individual contributors, really it requires just you being there and that’s something that I want to outsource. I mentioned email, mentioned my calendar, all of my scheduling, things like that. The biggest thing of travel, I hate booking travel. And so having somebody else go and look and the way that I do that as my assistant will just send me three options because I’m also terrified that she might look something don’t want.

Oliver Graf:

Miss something.

Ryan Deiss:

She’s like, here are the best ones. This one, it looks like it’s the fastest. This one bit more expensive, this one whatever, and A, B or C. I’m guessing you’re going to pick … That’s the thing. I’ll always have her say, here are the options. I think you should do this for the following reason.

Oliver Graf:

What do you suggest? Yeah.

Ryan Deiss:

That way, and I think this is important. Anytime you’re outsourcing something to somebody, have them say what they think they should do so that you can then have a conversation about, I see why you picked that. I actually would say this. Here’s why. And there’s a learning from that.

Oliver Graf:

Now, that’s a learning experience. Love that. Great tip. We’ll go to Billy now.

Ryan Deiss:

All right. Sorry, I can’t deal with this unfinished, it feels like-

Oliver Graf:

No, that was good. Now we’ve got closure.

Ryan Deiss:

Right. It’s like I need the cognitive close.

Oliver Graf:

So Billy Colestock said, what are some habits that you needed to create in your life to start hitting your bigger goals?

Ryan Deiss:

Oh, good question. There are two things … well, two and a half, three big things that I started doing that made a significant difference. And I’ll give credit where credit’s due. The book Atomic Habits, I don’t know if you’ve read it-

Oliver Graf:

Great book.

Ryan Deiss:

… but it’s all about kind of the little things that you can do that will set you up. And one of them is setting an alarm for 6:00 AM every night. I’m going to wake up at 6:00 AM even if I don’t necessarily have to, but having just that regular wake up time. When I wake up at 6:00 AM, everything has a way of working out. If I sleep even a little bit-

Oliver Graf:

Even on weekends?

Ryan Deiss:

Funny thing is on the weekends, I don’t set an alarm on the weekends unless something happens. I wake up anyway and it’s great-

Oliver Graf:

Because you’re just used to it.

Ryan Deiss:

Well, I got four kids, so it’s the only time where the house is actually quiet. I get so much reading and stuff done on the weekends. I don’t do it on the weekends because if I did, my wife would kill me. So that is an area where-

Oliver Graf:

Honey, turn that alarm off.

Ryan Deiss:

Exactly. She’s like, do that again, and then, yeah, you’re dead. But setting an alarm every night at 6:00 AM and then that’s just a practice. And I tell myself, there is no snooze because somebody told me and I forget who it was, every time you hit the snooze, you break a promise with yourself. And so I tell myself there is no snooze. I will not break a promise to myself. And that is the closing thought that I have. And so that’s a habit that I’ve developed. The second one that I’ve gotten back to again is setting up my gym clothes the night before because I find if I wake up and it’s there-

Oliver Graf:

Because that’s nice and easy in the morning.

Ryan Deiss:

… then I’ll actually go and exercise. But I think the single biggest habit that I developed that has made the biggest difference is documenting every day of my life. So what I do, I keep a planner and as I go through each day, I make a note of what did I do from 9:00 to 11:00? What did I do from this time to this time? And I write out what I did. So I have my calendar, my digital calendar, I use Google calendar to plan out the meetings. But it is interesting to go back at the end of the week and to say, “Wow, what I said my week was going to be like is nothing like what it was.” And I use that to be able to go back and to say, “Okay, what were things that I did that were productive? What were things that were unproductive?” And I use that as a tool to say, “I really shouldn’t be doing this.”

Ryan Deiss:

And so now anytime somebody on my team comes along and they go, “I don’t have a lot of time,” or “We really need to hire a new person for this area.” The very first thing I have them do is start documenting how you’re spending your day. And it is amazing how often they’ll come back and you’ll be like, “You shouldn’t even be doing this. That’s crazy.” Or they’ll come back-

Oliver Graf:

You wasted an hour every day on this that doesn’t matter.

Ryan Deiss:

Yeah. And there’ll be some days where it gets away from me. There’ll be some days where I look back and I go, holy crap, I have no idea.

Oliver Graf:

No idea what I just did today.

Ryan Deiss:

What I did during this large block of time. And I’ll put in a bunch of question marks and a frowny face. And it’s just to think of like, you failed. That was a failure. That’s time you had, you will not get it back, it is gone and you have no idea how it was spent. That to me is the single greatest tragedy.

Oliver Graf:

And on the flip side, how good it feels when you look back on that week and like you nailed everything. Then you just, you have that great sense of accomplishment and-

Ryan Deiss:

Yeah. Well, because I do at the end of every week, I also go through and I write down what were my big wins for the week, what were some things that maybe didn’t work out, what lessons I learned that I’ll reapply. So that’s something I do every Sunday night. And then I’ll also take that and say, okay, in light of all this, what must I do this next week? What things I need to make progress towards my goals. But I go back and I just flip through each day when I’m looking at wins and I’ll forget. I’ll forget really cool things that happened to go, “Holy crap. That’s right. That was cool.” So I just would encourage more professionals, founders, entrepreneurs, start documenting your day. Start writing out what you do. The mere act will make you more productive and the learnings you get from it will be invaluable and start encouraging people on your team to do the same.

Oliver Graf:

That was like such a slap in the face for me because I literally used to do that. I did that for years and then for some reason I just got away from it and now having this conversation, I’m like, what the hell did I get away from that for? Because it’s so nice to … and then even you can look back over your year. Whoa, look, I did all these things this year and closed this deal, closed this property, this that, and the other.

Ryan Deiss:

It’s fun.

Oliver Graf:

So it’s like … yeah, it is more fun.

Ryan Deiss:

It’s fun to do. It’s like an easy diary.

Oliver Graf:

Yeah. And so simple. I mean, just have it next to your desk every day. Boom, boom, boom.

Ryan Deiss:

Exactly.

Oliver Graf:

Done. Love it. This one’s from Andrew Greer and he’s asking the best way for getting eyes online and turning them into customers.

Ryan Deiss:

Advertising, by advertising. A lot of people talk about search engine optimization. It’s great. It takes a long time. Hard to do. People are like, “Oh, but it’s free.” It’s not.

Oliver Graf:

Hard getting harder.

Ryan Deiss:

Yeah. Hard only getting harder. If you want to start generating organic traffic from search, step one, invent a time machine and go back a couple of years ago because you’re going to have to build some momentum. Now, I’m not saying you shouldn’t seek to do it. I’m not saying it isn’t a great viable strategy, but if somebody says, which seemed like the question, how do I get it today?

Oliver Graf:

Tomorrow, yeah, exactly.

Ryan Deiss:

The other thing, a lot of people go, “Oh, I’m going to get it done on social. So I’m going to go to Tik Tok. I’m going to go to these new channels. I’m going to post a lot of stories.” You’ve got to realize social is TV, it’s entertainment. And the way I look at it, I am either the show or the advertiser. I don’t want to be the show. I want to be the advertiser. So the way media has worked forever is if you want attention, you buy it and you adjust the economics of your business such that you can afford it. And so it costs what it costs and advertising costs have gone up. That is nothing new. Adjust the economics of your business accordingly and put all your focus on figuring out how can we be able to spend more to acquire a customer.

Ryan Deiss:

That’s the whole idea of the customer value journey, customer value optimization, the million dollar napkin. How can we be able to afford to spend more to acquire a customer? How do we so deliver value to the customer that we can request more value in exchange in terms of upsells, cross-sells, higher prices, such that we can now go and spend more on advertising. But I think I would start in Facebook. It’s still where everybody is. If it works in Facebook, you can migrate that transition, that over to Instagram because it’s owned by Facebook. Then I would go into doing some YouTube advertising like we talked about primarily retargeting, which you’re generating that traffic and I would encourage people advertise the content to begin with because if you’re just sending it-

Oliver Graf:

Distinction.

Ryan Deiss:

… straight to a landing page, folks are going to balance, your clicks are going to go up. If you actually advertise to a really cool piece of content, which could just be a video of you answering a frequently asked question.

Oliver Graf:

Right, something of value, something entertaining, something funny.

Ryan Deiss:

Exactly. You can have subtle call to action at the end. Most people won’t take you up on it, but you buy that add to that content. It’s going to be really low click cost comparatively because both Google and Facebook, if people are staying and watching, they charge you less per click. The more valuable-

Oliver Graf:

[crosstalk 01:00:00].

Ryan Deiss:

Yeah, the higher quality score, the lower the click. People also will share it and when they share it, if it’s good content, all that traffic is free. So you’re more using advertising to amplify good content. Then for the people who watch that now you buy retargeting ad-

Oliver Graf:

Then you got them, and now they’re on your list.

Ryan Deiss:

Yeah, they’re either on your list where you can do follow up or you’ve set a retargeting pixels, and so you can do advertising followup. Then you ask them to take a buying action. So that’s the process that works the best.

Oliver Graf:

Love it.

Ryan Deiss:

Most people won’t do it because they either don’t want to spend anything to acquire attention, which is adorable, just in how the world works. Or-

Oliver Graf:

That’s silly.

Ryan Deiss:

Or they want to … if I’m going to pay for it, then they better give me money right now. That’s not how it works either. It’s not how any successful relationship you’ve ever had has worked.

Oliver Graf:

Man, but I just wish it worked that way.

Ryan Deiss:

Right. I wish I could just walk up, if I’m single, I want to walk up to somebody and be like, “Hey-

Oliver Graf:

Want to make out?

Ryan Deiss:

Yeah, exactly. What’s your name again? It’s just only never how it works. You got to wonder about the people that it does work for.

Oliver Graf:

Totally, love it. I just have a couple more questions. So this is one I like to ask everyone because talked to a lot of entrepreneurs that are doing exciting things and what are you taking the profits and investing in?

Ryan Deiss:

For me it’s just back into our own companies. We’re fortunate in that we see a lot of deal flow and a lot of opportunities coming our way and I can’t get higher returns than investing it back into our own businesses. From real estate perspective, what are you typically targeting from an internal rate of return perspective?

Oliver Graf:

15%.

Ryan Deiss:

Yeah. So we can just get two and 300% returns because of where we are now for it to be like, oh, but it’s super risky because you’re not diversified and you’re only in one asset class. But for me I have the ability to … I can add value to really make that happen. I’m not great at real … people I know who crush it in real estate on the flip side, like they’re very handy and I can’t even paint a wall that looks halfway decent. I’m certainly not going to change out the disposal or do something that like … so it has to do … I always look at, I don’t like passive investments because if it’s passive on one hand I don’t have to work. But on the other hand, I also don’t have the ability to add value. I don’t have the ability to bring more to it, which means I can get more from it.

Oliver Graf:

It’s an interesting perspective.

Ryan Deiss:

So there may come a day where I’ll just start putting it in passive stuff. But in general, I invest it back in my own businesses and I invest it in art that I enjoy, that I can buy and auction. So I’ll do some occupying.

Oliver Graf:

Oh yeah, you told me about an artist one time and I went, checked him out and he does like the little people on like the big photos.

Ryan Deiss:

Yeah, there’s a few of them. The main guy who did that does the aerials. I cannot remember his name, but a photographer that I really liked that I’ve had some great deals on his work is a Dean West.

Oliver Graf:

Dean West.

Ryan Deiss:

And so Dean West did some of the aerials as well. I have one in my office that I think I showed you.

Oliver Graf:

Yeah, very cool stuff. You’d never heard of him, but it was super cool.

Ryan Deiss:

If you can find these people who are up and comers, do your research and figure out who else is buying them, then you can sometimes come across some good deals [crosstalk 01:03:17].

Oliver Graf:

Yeah, you sure can. But the other part is you’ve got to actually like it. I’ve had a couple of friends that invest in art because they think it’s a moneymaker. I’m like, dude, if you don’t want to hang it on your wall, don’t buy it.

Ryan Deiss:

Exactly. That’s my rule. I would have to be okay with it going to zero and just enjoying it for [crosstalk 01:03:32].

The Ryan Deiss Interview_ The Godfather of Digital Marketing _ Founders Club 59-7 screenshot

Oliver Graf:

Right, for just looking at it.

Ryan Deiss:

But it is nice to know that if worse came to worse, what I have hanging on my walls would feed my family for a while if worse came to worse.

Oliver Graf:

Totally, love it. And what about some of your favorite tools, apps and softwares right now that help you run things, maintain sanity, make your life easier?

Ryan Deiss:

I’m pretty simple. The Notes app, just the native Notes app on iPhone is the one that I pull up the most because I always have ideas and I’ve got a pretty good folder system. I’ve tried Evernote, Notion and some of the other ones, but the Notes it’s just so easy.

Oliver Graf:

I’m the same way. I can’t do Evernote, it’s too complicated for me. for it. Well, it’s not that complicated.

Ryan Deiss:

I know, it’s just something about us. But I love the Notes app. I also love a Feedly.

Oliver Graf:

Feedly.

Ryan Deiss:

Feedly is an RSS feed aggregator. It basically allows me to skim through hundreds of different blogs every single day on different topics that are of interest to me. Whether it’s business or marketing or art, I can create my different categories, bring everything in and just very quickly scroll through as opposed to going to a bunch of different blogs and websites.

Oliver Graf:

Just clarifying on that, that’s basically you’re going to your favorite blogs and websites, taking their RSS feed, putting it into one feed, and then you’re getting like the digest?

Ryan Deiss:

Yeah. Well, it’s multiple feeds per category.

Oliver Graf:

Cool.

Ryan Deiss:

And then I’ll just go in and say, okay, let’s see what … and I probably, the art stuff, the things that are more passion projects. I might only look at on the weekend but the business stuff, I’ll try to look at every day or every other day, do a quick scan. It allows me to stay informed totally without spending a lot of time going and searching. Truly it’s just a quick scroll, and then Pocket.

Oliver Graf:

Pocket.

Ryan Deiss:

I love the Pocket app. And it allows you to save articles that you’re reading into a format that you can go and look. So if I’m on a plane or I’m somewhere where I can’t get a good wifi, I’ll just pull up and I’ll read things that I’ve saved in the past and after I’ve read it, then I’ll either execute on and send it to somebody, do something with it or just archive it.

Oliver Graf:

And how does that work? It’s just, you go to a website and click the button and it’s-

Ryan Deiss:

Yeah, you download the Pocket app on iPhone or Android. You can download the Pocket app. And so if you’re looking at an article on your phone, you know how you can do share?

Oliver Graf:

Yeah.

Ryan Deiss:

You click on the share and it just pulls up, basically share to Pocket, saves it there. They also have a Chrome extension and it strips out all the formatting, makes it a really clean read-

Oliver Graf:

Love it.

Ryan Deiss:

And I like that.

Oliver Graf:

That’s good. Very cool. Last question, looking back over everything you’ve done and all the success you’ve had, what’s one thing that you wish you knew sooner in your career?

Ryan Deiss:

Better cashflow management. That is not a sexy thing, but I’ll tell you-

Oliver Graf:

I think it’s very sexy.

Ryan Deiss:

Right? Because all good marketing abilities, the ability to acquire customers, the ability to generate a lot of sales, even develop products. It’s pretty good at product development and product creation and the identification of opportunity. None of those will matter if you run out of cash. And two times in my life, because of poor cash management, I told you about one, I got a quarter million dollars in debt, just not paying attention and believing that it would turn around, not having any really budgeting in mind. What is an appropriate amount for this business to spend on acquisition? Having this appropriate budgeting. Well, how much should I maintain at all times in an emergency fund? Setting aside money for taxes, all of these things.

Oliver Graf:

Setting aside money for legal.

Ryan Deiss:

Yeah. That cost me probably a good two years of growth. And the way that I got out of that, because when I got a quarter million dollars in debt, I seriously thought I was going to have file bankruptcy. And thankfully I didn’t. I was able to dig myself out of the hole-

Oliver Graf:

Yeah, and that’s a deep hole for sure.

Ryan Deiss:

Well, the way that I got out of it though is I didn’t pay taxes. Because again, I didn’t know. They don’t teach you this stuff. It’s not like you’re going to go and be an entrepreneur and start your own business and they go, “Well, here’s how you do basic financial accounting. Here’s how taxes work.” I thought if he didn’t have any money left over, you didn’t have any taxes to pay. Apparently that’s not how it works.

Oliver Graf:

That’s not how it works.

Ryan Deiss:

Right. And so the year before I was a quarter million dollars in debt and then I think I’m free, I think I’m out and then I get a quarter million dollar bill from the IRS. Again, I was able to get out of it. Thankfully my business was in a more stable part. It was a lean year. Kids didn’t get necessarily the biggest Christmas presents that year and stuff, but I was able to get it paid off almost immediately.

Oliver Graf:

Which circles right back to cashflow management.

Ryan Deiss:

Exactly. And those whole experiences, I lost years and years and years because I ran out of fuel and it didn’t have to happen. And so I think taking basic accounting classes, even just simple books like … there’s a book, Profits First. Profits First, it’s a really great simple book that I think all entrepreneurs should read. Basic cashflow management, basic budgeting. Those of us who are more kind of sales and marketing minded believe that oh, as long as there’s enough gross, they’ll always be enough net playing around there somewhere. Man, that ain’t the case. And if I could go back and tell my younger self, it would be always pay yourself the 10%, pay yourself a sal- Like I never paid myself a salary. If there was money I took it, if there wasn’t, I didn’t. Just basic business practices.

Oliver Graf:

Setting it up the right way.

Ryan Deiss:

Just setting it up the right way I think if I could go back and do it again, I think that would have saved me a lot of heartache and a lot of heartburn.

Oliver Graf:

Love it. Totally agree. It’s critical and, and most people, like you said, it’s not talked about. It’s so easily overlooked and such a punch in the face when you get those letters from the IRS and the different things, it’s crazy. Well really appreciate it, this has been great.

Ryan Deiss:

Fun.

Oliver Graf:

Yeah, a lot of valuable insight and a just really appreciate you taking the time and coming on and talking with us and sharing your story and all the different things you’ve learned. If you liked the show, go ahead and subscribe. If you have any questions, put your comments down below. We’ll definitely get back to you on those. If you’re in real estate, jump on our free Facebook group, Real Closers and that’s where we do a lot of interaction. That’s where we throw out the interviews so you can participate, ask questions and stuff like that, and we’ll see on the next one.

Pullout Quotes:

“I’m primarily there to unblock blockages, kind of like a business plumber.”

“I don’t get to decide what I’m going to do. There’s people around me, and my job is to serve them.”

“What we really wanted to do was create a company that can birth other companies.”

“If I pay somebody money, I will trust them implicitly. I’m going to do what you tell me to do.”

“As entrepreneurs [and] busy professionals, mastering that inbox is important, and having somebody to help you with it is important.” 

“Digital Marketer was born out of doing, and I think that’s what’s always made us different.”

“That is the single most important question that every business must answer: How do we generate customers from scratch? If you cannot articulate that … on a single sheet of paper, it’s too complicated and you’re not going to be able to grow.”

“I’d be less concerned about what’s next and be more interested in what’s NOW.”

“Marketers feel like they always have to be on the cutting edge, and you just don’t. I absolve you of the responsibility of needing to be on the cutting edge.”

“Nobody wants to use their parents’ media.”

“Everybody wants their first deal to be the perfect one, and so they never do a deal.”

“I tell myself, ‘There is no snooze. I will not break a promise to myself.’”

“I would encourage more professionals, founders [and] entrepreneurs—start documenting your day. Start writing out what you do. The mere act will make you more productive, and the learnings you get from it will be invaluable.”

“The way media has worked forever is, if you want attention, you buy it.”

Resources

Connect with Ryan

Connect with Oliver

Other episodes of founders club you might like:

Kevin Markarian – From Solo Agent, to Team Lead, to Inc 500 Broker Owner

Cory Boatright – How to Make Big Profits Wholesaling Real Estate

Thank you for watching!

If you’d like to see all the episodes go to: www.OliverGraf.tv/FoundersClub

If you have any questions, comments, or ideas on How To Crash Proof Your Real Estate Business ft Mike Ferry contact me here.