Episode 233:

Today’s episode is a twofer – and both topics are going to benefit your shop. The first is the idea of collaborating with your prospects to create content that is valuable for both of you. From there you can leverage that shared experience to create new opportunities for your agency. The second is how you can write that book you’ve been thinking about, despite how overloaded your calendar and life can be.

My guest is James Carbary, the owner of Sweet Fish Media, a podcast-first media company. James was with us once before back in Episode #156 where we talked about James’ approach to networking. And in the latest episode of Build a Better Agency, we dive even further into his creative collaboration methodology as we discuss the writing process and major talking points of his new book, Content-Based Networking: How to Instantly Connect with Anyone You Want to Know.

James asserts that when you partner with your prospects to produce content that will serve their organization’s business goals, you can connect and create the foundation of a relationship. That relationship will serve your agency in a variety of ways, ranging from referrals to a new client. On top of that, the content is also useful to your audience, so it’s establishing your position of authority, as Stephen Woessner and I detail in our new book Sell With Authority.

As if that wasn’t already a value-packed episode, I also asked James how he, as a busy agency owner, found the time to write the book. He reveals all of his shortcuts and secrets and you’re going to want to hear them all!

A big thank you to our podcast’s presenting sponsor, White Label IQ. They’re an amazing resource for agencies who want to outsource their design, dev or PPC work at wholesale prices. Check out their special offer (10 free hours!) for podcast listeners here.

Agency Owners | How to grow your agency using content collaboration with James Carbary

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • If you decide to go with a different keyword, make sure to have the keyword listed in at least one bullet point.
  • The concept of James’ new book, Content-Based Networking: How to Instantly Connect with Anyone You Want to Know
  • How content collaboration serves your agency’s biz dev efforts
  • James’ framework for content-based networking and how to apply it
  • How to write and publish your own book
  • How to use your book as a biz dev tool

The Golden Nuggets:

“By adding value in a way that is tangible and has nothing to do with your product or service, that maps to genuine relationships, which ultimately leads to new business opportunities.” @jamescarbary Click To Tweet “Content-based networking is a way for agency owners to reverse engineer the relationships they need to achieve their goals and dreams.” @jamescarbary Click To Tweet “As agency owners, the lifetime value of a customer is significant. So, they are worth a significant amount of work on the front end.” @jamescarbary Click To Tweet “Doing multiple collaborations with a prospect is a huge catapult into relational equity.” @jamescarbary Click To Tweet “You will never be able to predict the byproducts of writing a book.” @jamescarbary Click To Tweet

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Speaker 1:

If you’re going to take the risk of running an agency, shouldn’t you get the benefits too? Welcome to Agency Management Institute’s Build a Better Agency Podcast presented by White Label IQ. Tune in every week for insights on how small to mid sized agencies are surviving and thriving in today’s market. We’ll show you how to make more money and keep more of what you make. We want to help you build an agency that is sustainable, scalable, and if you want down the road, sellable. With 25 plus years of experience as both an agency owner and agency consultant, please welcome your host, Drew McLellan.

Drew McLellan:

Hey everybody. This is Drew McLellan from Agency Management Institute. Welcome to another episode of Build a Better Agency. Super happy to have you. Really glad you are back. If this is a regular routine for you, I hope we are doing something interesting while you’re listening, whether it’s walking the dog or on the treadmill or on the subway, whatever it is. Thanks for listening and squeezing us into your day. I know that’s not easy. And if you are a new listener, welcome. Our purpose is pretty straightforward. I want to help you grow your business. I want your agency to be stronger, more profitable, more sustainable, more scalable. And if you want don’t the road, that it is more sellable. That’s why we’re here every single week. And this week’s episode is going to be a twofer. So we’re going to talk about two different topics, both of which are super important to you as agency owners and leaders. And I will talk a little bit more about that in a quick second.

But first I want to remind you that if you have not joined us in the Facebook group just for podcast listeners, I would love to have you do that. Head over to Facebook and just search for Build a Better Agency Podcast group. You have to answer a couple of questions so I know that you are really an agency person. And then come on in and join us. It’s very early stages so it’s not as chatty in there as I want it to be. But we are starting to get to know each other, we’re starting to have some conversations, and hopefully that’ll grow over time and we can build a community of agency folks who listen to the podcast. So please come join us and do that.

All right, my guest today is a guy named James Carbary. And James was on episode 156. We talked about value add in relationships and how to build relationships that then build your business. And that’s sort of the core of how James has built his agency, Sweet Fish Media, over the years. James is an AMI member. I’ve known him for several years now. We have attended a baseball game together in my quest to get to every major league ballpark in existence. So we know each other both personally and professionally. Great guy but also a really smart business man. So James has recently written a book and I want to talk to him about the content of the book but I also want to talk to him about how he got the book done. Because a lot of you talk about wanting to write a book but not having time. So I want to really probe into how he got that done because maybe that will be helpful for you.

But in the beginning what I want to talk about is his topic of his book which is all around the idea of collaborating with your prospects to create content that is valuable for both of you as a way to get to know each other. And it’s a really interesting concept. I think it layers very nicely with the concepts of Steven’s and my new book, Sell with Authority. So if you’ve read that, I think you’re going to find James’ comments particularly pertinent to that book. Whether you’ve read it or not, it doesn’t matter. James’s book certainly stands on its own in terms of being a great strategy for growing and building your agency. So without any further ado, I want to welcome James to the show and get right to the questions because I think we’re going to run out of time. James, welcome back. Glad to have you.

James  Carbary:

Thank you so much Drew. I have been looking forward to this for a while so super pumped to be back on the show.

Drew McLellan:

Me too. We have a lot to cover. Because want to talk about is, I want to talk about the content of the new book, which is really kind of a continuation of the conversation we had back in episode 156 where we were talking about building relationships and how that builds your business. So I want to talk about the content of the book and the framework inside the book and all of that. But I also want to talk from your perspective as an agency owner of why you wrote a book, how you got it done given how busy you are like every other agency owner, and some of that things that you sort of thought through about how to use the book as a biz dev tool rather than … Because I’m assuming, you did not write the book to leave your agency and become a best selling author, right?

James  Carbary:

Correct.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. It is a means to an end. All right, so let’s start talking first about the book. So the book just came out, right?

James  Carbary:

Yep. January.

Drew McLellan:

Right. And so content based networking is in essence … What are you telling us? What are you recommending to us?

James  Carbary:

At the end of the day, content based networking is a way to reverse engineer the exact relationship that you need to pursue your goals and dreams. And so in my context, as I’m sure a lot of agency owners context, that meant for me I wanted to grow the business. I wanted new customers. And so we started using this methodology before we had a name for it. And it’s really content collaboration with the exact people that you want to know. So we started B2B Growth over four years ago now. And I thought man, if VPs of marketing at B2B tech companies with 50 plus employees are the people that are buying our service, how can I reverse engineer relationships with that exact persona? And so we started B2B Growth, we started interviewing VPs of marketing at B2B companies with 50 plus employees on the show and started talking to them about them, not us, not our podcasting service, not all the stuff we could do for them. We kept it on them. What are experiments they’re running? What are challenges they’re facing? What are ways that they’re growing their businesses and really just created a platform to share their stories. And through those collaborations we ended up building a lot of relationships that ended up mapping to new business for us.

Drew McLellan:

So inside the book one of the things you do is sort of outline a framework of how to do this. So let me go back to … Do I have to be producing some sort of content? Whether I’ve got an active blog, I’ve got a podcast, I’ve got a video series or whatever. Do I have to be producing some sort of content to lay this framework against?

James  Carbary:

You can do it in a couple of different ways. I think the folks that I’ve seen be the most successful do have some sort of ongoing content platform that they’re using whether it’s a podcast, a blog, a video series. But then you could also do it in one off things too. Like more of kind of a project based thing. So I’ve seen companies do this with really elaborate, very high end production value on something like a documentary and then featuring different people in the documentary that are people that you want to know. And so obviously collaborating with them, featuring them in the documentary is a way to build those relationships. I’ve seen people do this with books actually. So kind of almost crowdsourcing a book. So that would be like a one time asset that you create. So to answer your question Drew, most of the time it’s some sort of an ongoing content platform that you’re building as you go that really doesn’t have an end to it.

Drew McLellan:

Okay. So walk us through the framework of how you prescribe sort of delivering against this strategy.

James  Carbary:

So it’s a three part framework and the first part of the framework is your goal. So figuring out what is it that I actually want to do here? And I see so many people that are not clear on this step. So for me, when we started using this my goal was I wanted to grow the business. And what I realized and what my goal really was, was I wanted to build relationships with people that could buy my product or service. And so once I had clarity around that I was able to go on to step two of the framework which is people. And people, now, how do I actually engage with those specific people? So if my goal is to grow the business and I know that now I’ve got to get a good handle on who are the people that can actually help me do that, what relationships do I need to build to be able to achieve my goal of growing the business and get real clarity there. So I see a lot of people make the mistake of … And it’s something that you and I have talked about a lot. But not having a clear picture of who your buyer is or who the type of person is that you want to know.

So you go from goals into people. Once you’ve got the people nailed down and you know, okay, this is the type of person I want to connect with, then you go to content which is the third part of the framework, and you figure out what is the type of content that I can create? Is video best? Is audio best? Is a written blog series best? Is a series of photos that I do on Instagram going to be the best type of content collaboration? So you’ve got goals, you’ve got people, and then you’ve got content. And that’s really the three part framework for being able to execute this strategy.

Drew McLellan:

Okay. So I set my goal but odds are for many people listening, they may already have the content. They may already have the podcast. I guess a book probably they wouldn’t. But whatever, a video series. So I know what I want to do and in most cases I’m going to assume that people are saying I want to sell more of my stuff, whatever my stuff is. And so what you’re saying is next, is I need to identify … In AMI language, I need to go through the sweet spot client filter and identify exactly who my ideal target is. And then I need to figure out how I can collaborate with them on whatever platform or framework of communication I’ve already built. So in your case it was, I know I want to build my business so I need more customers. I know exactly the profile of the customer that we seem to delight over and over. They stick around for a long time. They are happily giving us money every month. They don’t deviate from our norms too much. They sort of follow our path so they’re easy to serve.

Now I’m going to invite them. In your case, I’m going to invite them to be a guest on the podcast. I think that is probably where a lot of people go, “Hmm. I don’t know how to do that.” I have a brand new show or I want to write this book and I want to interview these people but they don’t know me from Adam. Or we have a blog but odds are they’ve never heard of us. So how does someone go from the little bit of an imposter syndrome that I think everybody suffers from sometimes to actually connect with these perfect strangers who are both perfect and a stranger, right?

James  Carbary:

Yep.

Drew McLellan:

And get them to be interested in participating in this collaboration?

James  Carbary:

Yeah. This is a great question Drew. I think one of the things that I talked about a lot in the book was this idea of personalizing your outreach. And so for the longest time when I was doing this strategy, I wasn’t doing a lot of personalization, honestly. And I would find our buyer persona and I would have the same kind of … It was very short messaging and so I think that was effective. I would say, “Hey so and so. Saw that you were featured on the Inc 500 list last year. Would love to have you share your story on B2B Growth. Up for it?” So it was like a two or three sentence email. It was very short and I think that’s an effective way to go. Not droning on and on about how great you are and then asking them to be a guest on your show. Instead of being very short and almost causing some intrigue so that they’re like, “Huh, I’m curious. I want to hear more. What’s the show about? Who have your past guests been?” But don’t dead with that. Let them ask that. Because likely, if they respond to you in that first email, they’re likely going to end up collaborating with you. You’ve got them to engage with you. That’s the hardest first step.

So one is really being thoughtful about your messaging. The tightness of that messaging, the brevity in that messaging is really important. But I think probably the more important thing is doing a little bit of digging. Finding if there’s an article that they’ve written on LinkedIn recently that you thought was really fascinating. If they’ve contributed to either something on their own blog or another blog. Maybe a site like Business Insider or Entrepreneur. Depending on your persona and what they’re doing. If you found a piece of content that they’ve written, a conference maybe that they’ve spoken at, something along those lines. If they’ve written book, that’s an easy one. But finding something about them that they’re clearly passionate about because they’ve created content on it already. And reaching out to them and saying, Hey, I saw this article that you published. Part of the article was about this, this and this. And I thought that was fascinating. I would love to have you talk about that with our listeners on our show.” One, it shows the person that you’re trying to reach out to that you’ve done your homework and you’re coming at this from a real journalistic approach.

Drew McLellan:

You can assume the content.

James  Carbary:

Yes.

Drew McLellan:

As opposed to the generic, I love your work or I love your podcast. Because I don’t know about you but when I get that I’m like-

James  Carbary:

You can smell that stuff from a mile away. You can smell it from a mile away.

Drew McLellan:

Right. You’ve never listened to my podcast because the guy you just suggested would never be a guest on my podcast. So again, actually consuming what they produced and having a comment or two about it.

James  Carbary:

Yes. And when people hear that, they’re like, “Oh, James, that’s a lot of work.” But my thesis is, I just think relationships are so powerful and especially us as agency owners, the lifetime value of a customer is significant. And if you can genuinely build a relationship with somebody that can spend tens, maybe hundreds of thousands of dollars with you, it’s worth going through the process of doing that work on the front end. Really studying them. Seeing what content they’ve put out. Seeing what they care about. Seeing what they’re passionate about.

Drew McLellan:

Well, there is nothing about biz dev that isn’t a lot of work.

James  Carbary:

Yes. You’re exactly right. You’re exactly right. So the more research you can do on the front end, I think it brings people’s walls down significantly. Because it’s obviously very flattering for someone to reach out to me and comment on an article that I wrote for Entrepreneur or a chapter that I wrote in the book or a podcast interview that I did on episode 156 of the Build a Better Agency Podcast. When people don’t those things, I pay attention. And the likelihood of me engaging with them as opposed to the person that just send me the email that you alluded to earlier that just is very much being sent to the same hundred-

Drew McLellan:

Right. It’s cut and paste.

James  Carbary:

Right. Yep. And so it feels like oh, of course. But for some reason people keep doing it and they keep expecting-

Drew McLellan:

Because it’s fast.

James  Carbary:

Yeah. It’s fast. They want to hit the easy button. And unfortunately, if you’re really trying to build genuine relationships with people that can move the needle in your business, there’s not an easy button. And I talk about that in the book. Like if you’re looking for a quick hack or something that is fast and easy, this is not a strategy that’s going to be your cup of tea.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. Really your strategy is a 2020 adaptation of that famous Zig Ziglar quote. And I’m going to not get it exactly right. But basically he said, “If you want to accomplish everything you want in your life, help other people accomplish what they want in their life.”

James  Carbary:

Yes.

Drew McLellan:

Right?

James  Carbary:

You’re exactly right.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah.

James  Carbary:

You’re exactly right. And what I love about this, Drew, is everyone says add value. Everyone’s like, “Oh, you got to add value, you got to add value, you got to add value.” But what I think a lot of people mistake … They hear that and they think that their product or their service … They think that’s the value so they lead with that. So they’re like, “Oh, well we can build this app for you in less than 90 days and da, da, da, da, da.” They drone on and on about either their creative work that they do that they’re trying to sell you on, the fact the they build websites. They’re leading with that as opposed to something like this, a content collaboration. Something that has nothing to do with the value that they provide as an agency, as a business. This is totally different. Because even if your show doesn’t have a big audience, it’s still a third party piece of content that that person can share on social and show to their existing audience, “Hey look, I’m being interviewed about my expertise.” So it’s a way for them to easily create content on somebody else’s production dime.

So that’s what I love about it is even if you have an audience of six people and it’s four people from your team, your mom and your grandma, that is still inherently valuable to them because it’s a piece of content they can use for their platform. So they can send it to their email list. They can post it on their LinkedIn profile. And so I think by adding value in a way that is tangible and that has nothing to do with your product or service, that maps to genuine relationship which ends up mapping to business opportunities in a much smarter way than leading with your pitch or how you can help somebody because of the work or the expertise that you have.

Drew McLellan:

So true. I was talking to another business owner not in the agency space and he was saying, “I got invited to be on this podcast but they have a really small audience so I said no.” I literally said, “If someone has a podcast and their mom is their only listener, I am happy to be on it.” And he’s like, “Why? You’re so busy. Blah, blah, blah.” And I said, “Because I could care less … I’m happy to be on a podcast that has a big audience obviously. And I’m happy to be introduced to a new audience.” I said, “But the biggest value for me is to show my audience, look, I’m being sought after to be on other platforms and other shows because I have something to say.” So for me it’s about reinforcing their buying decision as opposed to finding new customers. When I can do both, that’s awesome. But I’m happy to be on any show because of exactly what you said. I can leverage it through our channels and it just demonstrates that I’m getting the message out near and far. Right?

James  Carbary:

Yep.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah.

James  Carbary:

Yep. That what you have to say is quality enough that other people are asking you to talk about it.

Drew McLellan:

Right. Because I think a lot of people listening are like, “I want to go after a big fish and I have a very little pond. My show doesn’t have a lot of listeners or my blog post, we don’t get a lot of traffic.”, or whatever it may be. But it really is, I want my audience to learn from you and of course I’m going to give you all of these assets to do with as you please as well. Yeah.

James  Carbary:

Yeah. And there are obviously cases … You’re not going to get Tim Cook on your podcast anytime soon. I don’t want to have this blanket like everybody should do … It obviously depends, the type of people that you’re trying to-

Drew McLellan:

But I also think if you’re trying to get Tim Cook on your podcast and Tim Cook has never heard of you and you’re deploying your strategy which is, I identified my goal which is I want to grow my business, I’ve identified my sweet spot client, odds are Tim is and ego guest. He’s not one of your sweet spot clients. So actually I think if you keep getting no, no, no, no, no you need to go back and refine your sweet spot client because clearly you’re reaching out to people who, odds are, you’re not going to sell to anyway.

James  Carbary:

And I’m so glad you brought that up Drew because I feel like I have this conversation at least once a week with somebody. They start a podcast because that’s what we do so we’re talking to a lot of people that are using this strategy in the context of podcasting. And they’re like, “James, I want to get Gary Vee and I want to get Simon Sinek and I want to get all these big name authors and Donald Miller and all these different people.” And I have to ask them … I said, “Okay, that’s fun. That’s awesome. I’ve interviewed some of those people and it’s certainly cool to get to have those conversations. But is Gary Vee going to buy what you do? He runs an agency too.” And so if you’re an agency owner trying to sell your creative services … And there’s some … I get the draw to do that. Because you think, “Oh, if I can interview one of these big names and then they share the podcast with their audience, I’m going to get this massive flood of new followers and some of those could end up buying my service.” And that’s a great thought. That’s not actually how it works though.

Drew McLellan:

And I was going to say, they don’t share.

James  Carbary:

They don’t share it.

Drew McLellan:

Right.

James  Carbary:

Because they don’t need to. They’re creating their own content. They’re distributing their own content. So to share your stuff is like … One, if they even say yes to you.

Drew McLellan:

And then if they actually show up.

James  Carbary:

And then if they show up. But then for them to share it, that’s like bottom of the totem pole on their priorities, as it should be. They’ve become influential because they create a lot of content themselves and they’ve gotten good at promoting their own content. But I think what it forces people into is what you just said. Is like, that’s good for my ego but it’s not actually good for serving the purpose of me achieving my goal.

Drew McLellan:

But again, so let’s say you have someone like that on your show and they do share the content, their audience isn’t who you’re trying to sell to anyway. So in my mind the thought process that goes along with your strategy is … My sweet spot customers, we sell to worm farmers. That’s what we do. We sell to worm farmers. So if I can get a high profile worm farmer on my show, guess what? His network is full of other worm farmers. And so that’s exactly who I want to know about us and know that we’re the agency that serves worm farmers. Again, I was having a conversation with an agency owner the other day who was frustrated because they couldn’t get on stage at Content Marketing World. And I said, “But that’s you talking to other people like you. I want you to go …” And this person’s vertical is they spent a lot of time in home services, so HVAC and that kind of thing. I said, “I want you to talk about content marketing at the national HVAC conference.” One is for our ego, one is for our wallet. So decide which one you want to do.

And there’s nothing wrong with standing on a stage because it’s good for your ego and you’re with a bunch of friends and you’re talking to your friends. That’s fun and I get it. But in terms of like what you’re pursing, again, it goes back to what is the goal? So if my goal is to grow my business, who do I want that auditorium filled with? People who will buy what I have to sell, right?

James  Carbary:

Yep. You’re so spot on Drew. And I think so many people just don’t think that far. For whatever reason they’ve convinced themselves of all of these other reasons why they be pursuing those big names. The one thing that’s been helpful for me … We’ve interviewed Gary Vee. I got to interview him a couple years ago. And then I interviewed Simon Sinek because he had released a book and his publisher reached out to me about having him promote his book. Those two names are big names. They’re nice sexy names. I was not trying to interview either one of those people. But we did and what I’ve noticed is that when you have a name or two like that in your roster, the folks that you do actually want to interview, so the owner of the HVAC company in the example that you just shared, if they also know who those people are and you can say, “Hey, I’ve also had Simon Sinek on the show,” it can help them say yes to being on your show because they want to be on the podcast that Simon Sinek was also on.

Drew McLellan:

Or they just assume you’re established enough or you have a big enough audience that someone like that would be on the show.

James  Carbary:

Would want to be on the show. So there are some kind of outlier like okay, it can be beneficial. But by no means should you be spending the bulk of your time and energy of these content collaborations that you’re doing focused on those type of people. I’ve had this conversation so many times, I can’t even keep up.

Drew McLellan:

It’s a very human thing to do. Again, because I think … I was talking to somebody by text earlier today and she was like, “I’m going to buy a bunch of copies of your new book and I’m going to send it to a bunch of people.” And I said to her, “I know it sounds silly, but I have to tell you I’m so relieved that people are actually buying and liking the book.” And she said, “Surely you’re past imposter syndrome.” And I said, “I don’t think anybody ever gets past that.” When we put out something new and big … My point is, I think a lot the people who are listening who are like, maybe they have a podcast or some other content or maybe they’re thinking about doing it, there is a part of them that’s like, it’s not just to get other guests to think your show is legit, it’s also to help us think our show is legit. Or whatever it may be. So yeah, I get it.

James  Carbary:

Yeah. It makes a lot of sense. We worked with one guy in particular. We hadn’t worked with him for about a year but man, he did sales training for people that are home builders. And he wanted to take his show into a direction where he’s talking to more … Just the big name folks. Folks like Sara Blakely, the girl that founded Spanx and is now a billionaire. He wanted it to be more about personal development.

Drew McLellan:

When I think about home building, I immediately go to Spanx.

James  Carbary:

I always tried to encourage him like, “Hey, what if we rebranded your show so that it was a show specifically speaking to the challenges or ways to overcome challenges for home builders? It’s a much smaller audience. Way less sexy. But if you’re the go to podcast for people that are home builders, that own constructing companies that focus on new homes, then now not just the guests that you’re talking to are potential people that you can do sales people with, but the people listening to the show are also people that you can end up doing work for.” As opposed to going through what is now a very hard task. I mean because the internet is at a stage of maturity where getting traction on any kind of show is hard. Much easier to do it if it’s way more focused and way more aligned with the results that you’re trying to get in your business. And there are always a million different reasons … The nuances is there. You can come up with a reason why this wouldn’t work for you. But man, in 99% of the cases that I talk to, it’s either an ego thing or maybe they’re content with not having more new business. They’re just like, “Hey, this is more for me. I want to talk to these people that are famous because it makes me feel good and I feel like I’m learning and growing.” Okay. That’s totally legitimate.

Drew McLellan:

And again, it starts with the goal. If that’s your goal then it’s a different audience set.

James  Carbary:

Exactly. You’re exactly right.

Drew McLellan:

So in the book do you also talk about, great I have now had Babette on the show. She’s my sweet spot customer profile. Now what? How do I continue to nurture that relationship and stay top of mind with Babette, stay in connection, keep adding value to Babette, so that when she’s ready to buy I’m in the consideration set or I’m the only one?

James  Carbary:

Yeah. That’s a great question. I found personally … The most effective one that I found from going for my one off interaction with somebody where you’ve had them on the show but it’s still … You meet a lot of people one time. You meet people at conferences one time, you never see them again. Doing a second collaboration we found has been like a huge catapult in just the relational equity that you have with somebody. So we’ve actually started a series on B2B Growth called five things. And so Logan on our team who does the bulk of the interviews now for the show, he will a few months down the road, he’ll go back to people that are like, “Man, we had a really good connection. They’re our sweet spot customer. I’m going to bring them back on the show for this five things series and we’re going to talk about the five things that they’re most excited about right now, personally and professionally.” So they’re talking about their Peloton or they’re talking about this app that they just downloaded that’s been a game changer for their productivity. And by having that second conversation, that second collaboration with somebody, that expedites the relationship in a really significant way.

Something else I’ve been thinking a lot about Drew that is applicable to this question, is like thinking about this in terms of like how would you become friends with somebody? I don’t think we use the term friendship enough in business. We try to like separate it. I’ve got my friends, I’ve got my life over here and then I’ve got business and my colleagues over here. But I think if we thought about this more like, hey, how would I go about actually creating a genuine friendship with this person? Because with friendship comes trust. It’s a desire for them to actually … You actually want your friends to win. So it doesn’t feel like you’re being sold to. Because if you’re friends with somebody and you find out that they do this thing, if you have business to give them, you’re going to want to give that business to them because you’re friends with them. So doing the second collaboration is one way. Getting to a point where you can be in a text message conversation with them. I’ve noticed that being able to take a conversation to email to text message, we’re trying to figure out, how do we do this with our customers well. But I think you can do this even before someone becomes a customer.

So something else Logan has started doing with the show is he’ll get their phone number on the Calendly sign up form and like two hours before … Calendly even offers this. I noticed this even in doing this show. I was getting text message updates saying, “Hey, your interview with Drew is coming up.”

Drew McLellan:

We use a tool called ScheduleOnce.

James  Carbary:

ScheduleOnce. Yeah. So I think Calendly has something similar. ScheduleOnce has it. I’m sure a lot of tools that do the scheduling stuff integrate that in. But a personal text … So I was just talking to Logan last week. I was like, “Hey, if you’re getting that phone number on the form, go ahead and then send them a text from your phone leading up to it, maybe an hour or two before, and just be like, ‘Hey Danny, are we still all set for 2:00?’ It makes a lot of sense. They’re not, I don’t think, going to be offended that you’re texting them to see if they’re good to go for your interview. And then after the interview, texting them again. ‘Danny, that was incredible. Love what you shared. I’ll make sure to email you as soon as the episode goes live.’ But now you’ve established a communication medium with him that is much more personal.” And so I think text messaging is big. I think doing another collaboration with them is big. And then I did something a couple years ago that isn’t necessarily going to work with everyone but I got on planes and I organized some dinners with guests that we had in different parts of the country.

So I went to Salt Lake City and I went to Denver and I went to Boston and I went to San Francisco. And getting face to face with the people that you’ve had these initial conversations with is a fantastic way to deepen the relationship so that when there is a need, you end up being the person that they call. Because you went out of your way to spend time and to connect to them with other people in their space. Those peers. So those are three really tangible ways I think that you can take the relationship from just the initial content collaboration to a much deeper place of friendship.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. You and I have co-hosted a couple of those dinners and they’ve been great. So what you and I did was we each invited three people to the dinner. So I knew three of them, you know three of them. And the three people that you invited have stayed in touch with all of those folks. I’ve had a couple of them on the podcast. So absolutely it fosters relationship. No doubt about it.

James  Carbary:

You’re exactly right. And I love that you brought that up Drew because I think doing it with somebody else takes away maybe some of the anxiety of like oh, what if I invite people and they don’t show up? But by tag teaming and doing something like what you and I did, I just notice myself having less anxiety going into that diner. Because it was like … It’s just a lesser number. Like you’re responsible for making sure that fewer people get there.

Drew McLellan:

Well, I sort of figured if everything went to heck, you and I would just have dinner.

James  Carbary:

Would have a great dinner. Right.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. Great. Yeah.

James  Carbary:

So I think that could be a really cool thing to do. And if you have that mindset going into it, when you’re looking for guests on your show, do your guest outreach based in different regions. So it’s like oh, I’m going to look for three or four people in Denver or I’m going to look for three or four knowing that on the back end of this I’m going to be inviting them to a dinner whenever I know I’m going to be in a conference in October. And so that’s the other thing, Drew, that I would say is have a plan.

Drew McLellan:

I was just going to say, this is all about having a plan. And for those of you that are listening going, “Get on a plane? Are you kidding me?” If anyone of those people said, “Hey, I’d like to spend a couple hours with you learning more about your business and have you learn more about me,” your butt would be on a plane in a heartbeat. So look at this from the right perspective which is, you’re going to get to have a two or three hour meal with five prospects. And you’re going to get to know them as people. You’re going to get connected. You’re going to be valuable to them because you’re introducing them to other people they may or may not know. Of course that would be worth an evening of your time and a plane ride. But as James said, even better if you can say, “Well, I know I’m going to be at this meeting in this city on these days, so I can preplan those dinners. I don’t even have to pay for an extra plane ticket. I just have to stay one more night which is one freaking hotel bill.” Of course it’s worth it. And obviously picking up dinner. So absolutely.

James  Carbary:

Another thing that I’ll mention on this note, Drew, I just actually like two weeks ago, my roommate showed me this app. It’s called Fabriq. It’s a free app. F-A-B-R-I-Q. And what it does, it’s almost like a CRM for your friendships. And so you can categorize people into buckets. They’re either in your inner circle, your mid circle, your outer circle or your extended circle. And so what I’ve really been thinking about doing is people that we have on B2B Growth, putting them probably in my outer circle. But what the app does is it reminds you every few months, that hey, have you connected with Drew lately or have you connected with Sally lately or Frank lately? And then you can load into Fabriq anything you learn about that person in that collaboration. And if you do a second collaboration, you figure out that they have a kid named Jackson or that they had their anniversary dinner two nights ago. So you know okay, their wedding anniversary is this day. The more insights that you can gather … Our number one core value at our agency is love people well. And my thesis is, to love people well you have to know people well and I think that translates to our friendship.

If you have some sort of a tool where you can be learning about people and then putting it into a system to where you can call on that and every few months you’re texting them, “Hey, hope Jackson’s doing well. I know basketball season was starting the last time we talked. Hope the season ended well. Thinking about you today.” And that type of communication is the kind of things that … You’re going to look back a year from now and go, I’m just friends with this person. I forget almost that the reason we met was because I interviewed them for a blog series we were doing.

Drew McLellan:

Right. Well again, even if they never end up being a client, creating friendships inside the industry or the vertical or within the audience that matters to you in today’s day and age where everyone can sort of see the six degrees of separation on LinkedIn or whatever it is, the more of those people you’re connected to they go, “Oh, he really must know the business because he knows everybody I know.” Right?

James  Carbary:

Yep. And you never know when those are going to turn into referrals, when they’re going to turn into, “Hey, I’ve decided to host this conference. Couldn’t think of a better person to speak on this topic.” So it’s really crazy.

Drew McLellan:

And worst case scenario, you have new friends.

James  Carbary:

Exactly. That’s the beautiful part about this whole thing. Is at the end of the day the worst case scenario is you’ve created really good content and you’ve got friendships out of the thing. And that just to me is a path to making business a whole lot more fun.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. So I want to take a quick break and then I want to change paths a little bit. I want to talk about sort of how you got the book done. I know how busy you are. You’re an agency owner like everybody listening. They barely get home for dinner on time. So let’s take a quick break and then let’s talk the how of the book. Okay?

James  Carbary:

Yes.

Drew McLellan:

Hey guys. Sorry to interrupt the show but I wanted to tell you about an opportunity that we have created for you that I hope you’re going to be excited about. So as many of you may know Stephen Woessner and I just finished and published our book called Sell With Authority. It’s available at Amazon and all other good book stores. But what we’re trying to do, especially because right now … We had a big book launched planned and all of that but that feels yucky right now given that everyone is thinking about other things. So what we’re doing is instead reaching out to our community, you guys, and making this offer. If you will go to Amazon and buy a single copy of the book and then after you read the book, leave a review. And then all you have to do is forward me the Amazon receipt for the book or a picture of you holding the book I guess and the copy of the review, that would be awesome. Then what we’re going to do is we’re going to put you in a drawing for a seat for the Build a Better Agency Summit.

So we’re going to give away three seats to the conference that we are having. The Build a Better Agency Summit. And all you have to do is buy the book and leave us a review. Even if you think it sucks, that’s okay. It’ll make me cry a little but it’s okay. We’re just trying to generate more reviews on the book because as you know that affects the algorithm of the book. And since we’re kind of dark in terms of promoting it in other ways, we’re just looking for a little help from you. And most importantly, I really do believe, which is why I wrote the book, that you will find it valuable and hopefully inspirational in terms of how to position your agency and become an authority where prospects are actually seeking you out rather than the other way around. So if you’ll do that, that would be awesome. Again, buy the book, review the book, send me proof of both and we will put you in the drawing for a seat to the Build a Better Agency Summit. All right, let’s get back to the show.

All right, we are back with James and in the first half of the show we talked about the premise of his book, which again is called, Content Based Networking and you can find it on Amazon and in a plethora of ways. Kindle, Audible, paperback, hardback, pigeon carrier delivery, whatever you want. James has it for you.

James  Carbary:

All the ways.

Drew McLellan:

All the ways. But now let’s talk about how you got a book written. Because again, a book would be a great tool to use your methodology against. And a lot of agency owners say to me, “I want to write a book,” or “I know I need to write a book,” or, “One of my bucket list items is to author a book but I just can’t find the time or I don’t have the time.” How did you get it done?

James  Carbary:

Yeah. So that’s a great question. I used a company called Scribe. So if you go to scribewriting.com I think is their website. You could also find them as scribemedia.com. But their process was really super helpful. I got on a phone call with the ghost writer. I think we did like eight to 12 calls just talking about concepts from the book. And once they had the content out of my head, then we started going back and forth on the actual copy of the book. My process from start to finish was a little bit longer than normal. They usually are able to get a book ready for you in the span of about eight months. Mine took closer to like a year and a half because we decided to change a little bit of the direction of the book more than halfway through based on the direction that we were going with the business. But using a company like Scribe. I know that there are several outfits like Scribe. I had a great experience with them. They handled all of the publishing and the ISBN number and the book cover I was really happy with what their design team did with the book cover. And they really just kind of hold your hand through the entire process.

So for folks that are busy that don’t have a lot of time to sit down and actually write the book, using something like that, at least for me, was a game changer.

Drew McLellan:

Okay. I just want to make sure I understand this. So you talked to the person who actually wrote the book for you and they basically interviewed you?

James  Carbary:

Yes.

Drew McLellan:

And you spent, sounds like about 12 hours on the phone with them, basically answering questions, giving them content. I’m assuming you had to have some premise for the book and an outline and kind of how you wanted at least sort of the beginning, middle and the end of the book for them to understand the structure you wanted them to create right?

James  Carbary:

Yeah. They even helped with that, honestly. Part of that interview process is you’re talking to them about the intended audience for the book. You’re talking to them a little bit about what your point of view is. What you want to end up saying. And through the course of the interviews they’re helping you put together kind of the story arc and what those things are. I had an idea of what I wanted those things to be. On the front end I originally thought it was going to be a five part framework. We ended up shifting it to where it was a three part framework. So you kind of figure that out as you go along. But yeah, to your point Drew, I did have an idea of at a high level how I wanted to structure it but I think their process would help even somebody that doesn’t necessarily have that.

Drew McLellan:

So then did they deliver the entire draft of the book to you or did you get it in parts and pieces and then you edited?

James  Carbary:

Yeah. So they did … I forget what they call it. It’s like starter pages. So they give you an idea of like, “Hey, this is the direction I’m thinking for this third of the book.” They broke it into thirds. So it was like the beginning, the middle and the end. And you’d look at it and you’re like, “Okay, not totally loving this.” It’s also your way of measuring if they’re nailing your voice. So with my particular case it was, I didn’t love how the ghostwriter was portraying me. I very much type like I talk. And what I read from them was more stuffy and kind of-

Drew McLellan:

Little more formal.

James  Carbary:

Yeah. Formal and just not at all how I wanted to present myself. So once we got that piece figured out, it was smooth sailing from there. But it can be really hard to nail someone’s voice even after talking to them for 12 hours. That was probably the most challenging thing of the entire experience was figuring that piece out. But even with that part being challenging you would think like, well James, [inaudible 00:45:43] is the writing of the book. But the one thing working with Scribe taught me is there are so many other things involved in writing a book. The formatting of the pages so that it doesn’t just look like a self published book that just has text on a page but there’s actual formatting and the type of paper that they use. All of those little things, I didn’t have to think about. I just went through their system and it was done. That was the part that I just got immense value from.

Drew McLellan:

And ballpark, what does something like that cost?

James  Carbary:

I think they’re pricing now … I got them when they were a little bit less than this. I think now it’s like $36,000 and you spread out those payments over eight months.

Drew McLellan:

And do you get a bunch of books as part of that then?

James  Carbary:

Yeah. They send you 100 books.

Drew McLellan:

Okay. Okay.

James  Carbary:

Yeah. 100 author copies. And then they set you up with all the platforms that you need so you can order more. So that process is pretty seamless as well. They also help … They give you kind of a marketing plan for how to get the most out of your launch. They’re really big on like hey, if you follow this you’re going to be an Amazon best seller. But they’re big on something that you and I talked about before we hit record which is, if your intent is to become a New York Times best seller, we’re probably not the vendor for you. We’re really working with folks that know that a book is … It can be way more powerful if you think about it in terms of what you call a three dimensional business card much more so than-

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. It’s a credibility play, right?

James  Carbary:

Yeah. Exactly. Exactly.

Drew McLellan:

So now that you’ve got the book, what’s your intent? How are you going to use it? What is the plan?

James  Carbary:

Yeah. I was just talking with our director of partnerships. He’s our one man sales team currently. And he was just saying … He was like, “James, one of my goals for this month is I want to send 50 copies of your book to 50 target accounts that we’re going after.” So we run a bunch of different podcasts and folks pay us to be a cohost of these shows in these different industries. And so he’s got certain shows that he’s identified and certain cohosts that we want to be a part of our network of shows. And so using that book as like an ABM play. Like, “Hey, would love to send you this.” So that’s one way that we’re leveraging the book. I don’t love being on stage and speaking.

I did a TedX talk last year and I bombed it. Like halfway through I completely blanked on what I was supposed to be saying. Speaking gives me a lot of anxiety but I know a lot of agency owners that do want to pursue speaking. And a lot of times what I’ve noticed is it seems like if you’re trying to get on stage and you don’t have a book, it just makes that battle a whole lot harder. So getting on stage for things like what you were saying before the break Drew about the right stages, like being on stages in your industry that you’re trying to serve. Having a book, super beneficial there. Not necessarily how I want to use it. But for me it’s primarily equipping our sales team to be able to sell more.

Drew McLellan:

So for you, what I think would be interesting is how do you marry what we talked about in the front half of the show, the relationship building, with the tool that you have, the book? Because it seems to be that that’s a natural way to connect with people, to have people sort of give a better sense of who you are and what you’re all about is by connecting them with your book and your thinking. Right?

James  Carbary:

Yep. So one of the things that I did in the book … And honestly I stole this idea from one of my favorite books. It’s not necessarily a business book but it’s a book written by a guy named Bob Goff called Love Does. And at the end of the book Bob put his phone number in the book. And I just thought, “Oh man, I’ve never heard of that. That’s incredible.” And so I ended up getting a-

Drew McLellan:

And kind of crazy.

James  Carbary:

Yeah. Kind of crazy. And it’s funny, you see him speaking on stages. His book came out like seven or eight years ago. You see him speaking on stages. He gets to that part where he shares that he’s like, “Hey, my phone is actually ringing right now. This is probably somebody calling me from the book.” Now, he hit best seller lists and really nuts for him. But for me I knew, I’m not going to sell 100,000 copies of this book. But the impact of me putting my Google Voice number at the end of the book has been really, really cool for few different practical reasons. One, it’s allowing me to figure out how I can make the next version of the book better. Because now I’m fielding common questions that people have. So there’s a section of the book where I talk about email outreach and I give a lot of templates for like here are specific ways that you can frame the messages whenever you’re asking people to be guests on whatever content collaboration that you’re doing. But I didn’t include subject lines. And so I had three or four people text me and they were like, “Oh James, the section on email was incredible. What subject line do you use?” I go oh man, mental note. Include that in the next version of the book.

Drew McLellan:

Right. Right. Right.

James  Carbary:

I’ve also had people ask me like, “Hey, I’m a sales trainer,” or, “I do this or I do that, I’m a real estate agent,” whatever. “I’ve been thinking about doing this. What do you think of it?” And I’m able to give them additional insights and ways that I think about it that are way more contextual to their situation which just makes it more valuable to them. So that’s super cool because now they’ve got this deeper bond with me because like, “Oh man, I just texted the author and he texted me back. This is super cool. I’m probably way more likely to tell other people about this book.” I’ve also noticed that when I’m in those conversations with people and I’m like, “Oh, did you happen to leave a review on Amazon?” The likelihood of them going … Drew you know this. Getting reviews on your book is really hard. It’s a huge credibility indicator. And so I’m trying to get reviews but I’ve noticed that when people text me and I engage them in a conversation about whatever their question was or whatever their comment was, and then I say, “Hey, did you happen to leave a review?” I think I have like a 10 for 10 hit rate on people that I’ve asked. And then I’ll go in a couple of days later and see oh, they actually followed through and left a review.

So it just creates an intimacy and a depthness to the relationship with your reader that I just think is really cool and not very common. So that’s how we’re tying the two. And now it’s just fun to have a real tangible physical asset. So somebody connected with me on LinkedIn yesterday and they’re a pretty senior role at a large company. And they reached out to me. And my message back to them was, “Hey, thank you so much for reaching out. I would love to send you a copy of my new book. What address could I send it to?” And people receive that as a very generous offer. It’s like it’s a $4 book. It cost me $4 and then the $2.80 that it cost me to send media mail. I’m seven bucks in. Super generous.

Drew McLellan:

And I’m imagining people are listening saying, “Oh my god, people are texting you and asking questions and I’m already so busy.” Again, remember if I said to you, “If I could get people that you want to sell to to start sending you questions that you would be able to answer to show how smart you are, would you like that?”, you would say, “Yes.” That’s exactly what we’re talking about here. It sounds overwhelming. It sounds crazy. But it is, again, doing exactly what you’re trying to do which is create a connection with a prospect.

James  Carbary:

Yep. You’re exactly right Drew.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah.

James  Carbary:

And honestly, it’s easy to think that this is more intense than what it actually is. I mean, I find myself in maybe two or three additional conversations a week that I otherwise wouldn’t have been had I not put my phone … So it’s not like this is completely wrecking my family time and I can no longer have good conversations with my wife anymore because my phone’s blowing up. That’s not at all what’s happening here. But it’s allowed me to create some really interesting and fun connections with people that I otherwise wouldn’t because most people consume books and there’s this wall between them and the creator of the book. And this blows that wall down. And it’s going to ultimately give me more empathy for the reader which is going to help me create even better content moving forward. You had a great idea. You were like, “Oh man, these questions that you’re getting via text, that could turn into a LinkedIn series for you.” And so the content that I’m creating on LinkedIn is now being fueled by the questions I’m being asked about the book.

Drew McLellan:

And you’re telling everybody in your LinkedIn audience, I wrote a book and my phone number’s in it.

James  Carbary:

Yep. Exactly.

Drew McLellan:

If you want to ask me a question here’s another way for you to access me to do that right?

James  Carbary:

You’re exactly right. You’re exactly right.

Drew McLellan:

And for every one person who actually texts you a question, there are hundreds of people reading the book that are not. But all of them have the same impression which is, “Wow, he’s accessible. He actually is walking out his talk.” So it also again is a … It’s another layer of credibility for those people who eventually are going to do business with you.

James  Carbary:

Yep. You’re exactly right.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. It’s a great idea. I’ve never heard of anybody doing that before but it’s a really great idea.

James  Carbary:

It’s worked out really well. When I had the idea of like … You always think, oh, what if the crazies get access to your number? So I was like oh that’s an easy fix. I’m just get a Google Voice number. And so that little caveat to it I think probably set my wife’s heart at east a little bit. But yeah, I have definitely not regretted it.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. Fascinating. I know the book just came out in the last couple of months so it will be fun to see sort of how the traffic continues to grow and all of the good things that come out of it for you. Because I think they’re going to be pretty plentiful.

James  Carbary:

Yeah. It’s been super exciting. I talk to a lot of people that wrote books prior to writing it. And they’re always like, “James, just you never know … There’s always stuff that happens that you’re like man, I would have never guessed that would have been a byproduct of writing the book.” But sure enough, I got asked to do this panel thing or I got asked to take this trip that ended up connecting me to this person. All these crazy things that I’m starting to see the first inklings of those things starting to happen. And so it’s really cool. I’m really excited to see where it goes.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. It’s awesome. Hey, thank you so much for being on this show. As you know I am a huge fan of the content of your book. I believe in it with all my heart so I’m glad that you sat down and wrote it down so everyone has sort of a primer on how to do it because I think for agencies in particular it is a really smart strategy. So much success with the book as I know you will have. And thanks for letting us kind of peak behind the curtain and see how you got it done because I know how busy you are and I know all the listeners are like, I would love to but, and there are lots of ways to move that but out of the way and get it done.

James  Carbary:

Yeah. Drew, one last thing that I forgot to mention but I would strongly suggest anyone that’s thinking about writing a book, do not sleep on doing an Audible version of your book. So many people consume books. I know I personally don’t read physical books anymore. I only listen to my books. And you can judge that all you want. I’m old school. But understanding that a big chunk, like half of my book sales, have come from Audible. So a lot of people … Whether you are that way or not. And so think about reading your own audio book. If you wrote a book like me it’ll take you three to four hours to read it. And the feedback that I’ve gotten from that has been phenomenal. So I say that for two reasons. One, if you’re thinking about writing a book, definitely, definitely, strongly consider doing an audio version of it. And two, if you’re listening to this podcast you probably also like listening to your book so you can check out the book on Audible as well.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. Awesome. If folks want to learn more about you, if they want to connect with you on all of the social channels, what’s the easiest way for them to find more about the work you do?

James  Carbary:

Yeah. The platform that I’m most active on is LinkedIn. So last name is C-A-R-B-A-R-Y. So James Carbary on LinkedIn. I think I’m the only one on LinkedIn with that name so pretty easy to find there. My email is [email protected] You can check out the book. I’ve got the Google Voice number in the back of the book as well so if you want to text me there. But really LinkedIn is probably the best place to get me.

Drew McLellan:

Okay. And we’ll include that in the show notes. Thanks James as always for being so generous with what you know. Appreciate it.

James  Carbary:

Thank you so much Drew. This has been a blast as always.

Drew McLellan:

All right guys, this wraps up another episode of Build a Better Agency. A couple of quick reminders. We have at AMI what we call the key executive group. So if you’ve got a COO, a director of account service, maybe they’re a minority partner in your business, maybe they’re a part of your succession plan down the road and you want them to get into a peer group where they are hanging around other people who are really tasked with the operational side of your business, getting the work in and out and done at a quality level that makes you happy, head over to the AMI site and under membership you can read more about the key exec groups and how some of your employees might participate in that. We get rave reviews both from the participants and their bosses about what comes out of those. And so I would strongly suggest you go check that out.

As always, I do not want to end a show without a big shout out and thank you to our friends at White Label IQ. They are a shop. They’re actually an AMI agency that also has this secondary business that they originally built to serve their agency and then realized how impactful it might be for other agencies and started offering their services to other agencies. So if you need White Label design, dev or PPC, these are the guys you need to talk to. For many agencies that I talk to, they are a bright spot in their day. They are helping them make clients happy. They are helping to make profits grow. And people are constantly talking about how great they are to work with, how responsive they are. So if you’re looking for a partner in any of those areas, head over to whitelabeliq/ami because they have a special deal just for you, the podcast listeners. All right, so many thanks and appreciation out to our friends at White Label.

I will be back next week with another guest like James who’s going to help you think about the business a little differently. In the meantime you know you can always track me down at [email protected] All right. I will talk to you soon. Thanks for listening.

That’s all for this episode of AMI’s Build a Better Agency Podcast. Be sure to visit agencymanagmentinstitute.com to learn more about our workshops, online courses and other ways we serve small to mid sized agencies. Don’t forget to subscribe today so you don’t miss an episode.