Oct 28, 2017
Looking for a way to generate leads, establish thought leadership and get massive return on investment from your marketing? Look no further than podcasting.
In this week's episode of The Inbound Success Podcast, I'm interviewing George B Thomas of The Sales Lion and The HubCast Podcast about how he created and grew The HubCast, and what it has meant for him personally and professionally.
Listen to the episode here, or read the transcript (below), to learn how George raised his profile as a thought leader, got invited to speak at INBOUND and generated hundreds of thousands of dollars in business leads...all from a podcast.
Here’s what George and I discussed on this week’s show:
Kathleen Booth (host): Welcome to The Inbound Success Podcast. My name is Kathleen Booth and this week my guest is George B. Thomas of the Sales Lion. Welcome George.
George B Thomas (guest): Kathleen, thanks for having me.
Kathleen: I am so excited to have you here. I specifically waited to have you as my guest for a few weeks after starting the podcast, because even though you and I have known each other for a while, I wanted to have some kind of a track record before I invited you in because you are a pro at this.
George: Well ... I've done a few podcasts, let's just put it that way. But, I love being on podcasts. It is a great medium to educate, to inform, all that good stuff. And I'm glad to be here. Finally, I'll say, you know, tonight I'll sleep. At home tonight, I'll sleep cause I've been on the podcast.
Kathleen: You crossed one off your bucket list right?
George: There you go.
Kathleen: Well I'm really appreciative of it and before we jump in, I've known you for a while but maybe not everybody who's listening does know you, so tell us a little bit about yourself, your background and what you do these days.
George: Yeah definitely. So my name is George B. Thomas. Like Kathleen said, I do work at The Sales Lion. I started out as an employee, and I'm now a co-owner, which is always interesting. I started with inbound marketing in 2012, listening to Gary Vaynerchuck, and decided I wanted to become a thought leader in something that I knew absolutely nothing about, so I started educating myself, started growing myself, kind of changing my mentality of "never arrive but always succeed." And now I go out and I give workshops, I speak professionally and I train clients over the internet from the comfort of my home office, which is awesome.
Kathleen: I wish that people listening could actually see what I'm seeing, because we're on video as we record this and George does have a really cool home office.
George: Let's just say super heroes people, super heroes.
Kathleen: It's pretty cool. Well, I think one of the reasons I was excited to have you on is that you've kind of made a career out of educating other people, and what I love is you just said, you started this journey in 2012, which funny enough is kind of when I started focusing on inbound marketing. Your career has been fascinating to watch. As an outside observer, I give you so much credit because you, more than anyone else I think I've ever met actually, are so committed to teaching yourself and going out and learning and not waiting for the information to come to you.
You're so proactive and I really see that as something that everybody can learn from in this space.
George: Yeah, Kathleen, I appreciate that. I'm humbled because I'm just trying to be me and I'd like to say that there's a sexy answer for that but there's really not. I tie the way that I am with education to the fact that when I was 17 years old, I had somebody tell me that I would never amount to anything, and for the rest of my days I will be able to wake up in the morning and say to myself, no, I will be something and they're wrong.
And so there's this innate desire to know as much as possible about anything that I dive into. I'm hoping somebody will get something out of this. I think they will because we're talking human level, which we'll get into podcasting in a minute, but there's something that is really awesome about being able to be a sponge. This is what people will usually say about me is, hey I'm gonna head George in this direction, and then just absorb the information.
This is what I did with Hub Spot in 2012, 13, 14, 15, 16 right? It's what I do now. But 18 months ago, 24 months ago, Marcus, knowing that I'm this type of person, Marcus Sheridan by the way other owner of the Sales Lion, pointed me in the direction of video and said, "go do what you do, but with video versus Hub Spot." And now we teach video workshops as well as go out and teach at workshops and stuff like that. But we'll talk about that more.
Kathleen: Well, whoever that person is that said you would never amount to anything, has spent many, many years eating their words.
George: Well yeah, and it's funny because, and again I'm just trying to speak to somebody out there, for a lot of years Kathleen, I was like I really hated that person, it was a place of anger. But, now I'd actually love to go back and see my math teacher and thank him. Because, it is that spark that fueled this forever educating mentality in my brain.
Kathleen: Yeah, and you were saying there's not really a sexy answer, and again as somebody who kind of is an outside observer, what I have observed is it's "roll up your sleeves and do the work." We happen to be Facebook friends, and George will post at like eight o'clock in the morning, that he's starting the day with a bang and he woke up early and he got a new Hub Spot certification. Or it'll be a weekend and in between taking his kids to the movies, he's getting another one. It's really amazing. And this is gonna sound really corny, but you totally do inspire me.
George: I appreciate that.
Kathleen: You're an amazing role model.
George: I'm humbled, I'm humbled.
I'm trying to do the best I can, and if people can come along for the ride, if I can change my corner of the universe, which really ties back to The HubCast and the podcast, if I can put a little dent in my side of the universe, when I get to the end of the road ... I should start singing Boys to Men right now, but I won't. When I get to the end of the road, I want to be able to look back and be like, yeah that's a good dent right there.
Kathleen: That's so funny cause that's what I say when I send my son ... I have a fifth grader ... when I send him off to school every day. I always say, "make the world a better place." I think he thinks I'm nuts, but no, someday you're gonna remember that I said that to you.
George: Absolutely, absolutely.
Kathleen: Well, speaking of little corners of the world and wanting to make a difference, I started this podcast because I really felt like there's a lot of companies and people out there that are doing inbound marketing and it's been around for a little while now. I do feel like if you sort of follow the plain vanilla play book, it's getting harder and harder to see results. One of the things I wanted to do with this, is shine the light on people who are getting creative and following the play book, but adding to it with their own spin and testing out and doing new things and getting awesome results. And really pick apart what they're doing so that the average inbound marketer - the person who is in the weeds, in the trenches, boots on the ground, doing the work every day - can extract some lessons from that, apply it to the work they're doing, and also improve the results they're getting.
We could probly have you on five different episodes. You talked about video, and I feel like that's another one but, for this one, I specifically really wanted to talk about the work you've done with podcasting because we haven't talked about podcasting on this podcast before. It's very meta! When I spoke to you and to Marcus about some of the things you've done with podcasting and what that has meant to your organization from a lead generation standpoint, I was really fascinated and it seemed to me to be a best practice.
I'd just love to turn it over to you and have you tell us a little bit about the podcast and how it came to be and what the original purpose and objectives were.
George: Yeah, and it's funny that we talked about video a little bit. Before we get into podcasting, my biggest fear that video is so hot right now, and 99 percent of the people who haven't even touched on podcasting for their business. You're like, well blogs aren't working anymore and everybody is saying "well video is the wave of the future", which is true, don't get me wrong, again probably a different episode. But podcasting is so, so magical.
Let me kinda just paint a picture for you. It was 2014, Marcus Sheridan sent me an email and said hey, I think we should create a podcast. I'm like, "uh I don't know." Cause, side note, I hate my voice.
Kathleen: You actually have such a great DJ voice.
George: I hated my voice for years. And I'm like, "okay dude, if you think this is a good idea." And he's like, "I want you to put together what you think would be a great show for HubSpot users." And I don't want to gloss over that. I want everybody to realize that immediately we were focused on a niche audience. We were not creating a podcast, and we were not about to create a podcast for marketing automation, or inbound marketing, or marketing. This was going to be a podcast specific for HubSpot users.
And so I put pen to paper and I started thinking, "What are the goals? What are we trying to do with this? And how powerful could it be?" First of all, we had to figure out a name. We came up with The HubCast because at that point, if you tried to use "HubSpot" in your podcast name, HubSpot probably would've crapped a brick and there probably would be some legal things happening. So we're like "Hub" for HubSpot and "cast" for podcast. We just mashed it together.
Kathleen: It's a great name.
George: It does well.
The HubCast was born. And with the outline, what I realized I wanted to do, I wanted to have something that I could spin up quickly. So the show notes would be repeatable, meaning there were going to be sections that each week I would just be able to copy a template, paste it and then fill in the slots. And so, from that, I knew that I wanted to be able to do this quickly. From that I knew I wanted to be a resource. It had to be educational. So we put in a strategy section, we put in a question of the week, and then I knew that it needed to be focused on somehow building a community. Cause I knew, people aren't just waiting around for a HubSpot podcast to come out and if they do, it's gonna be slow growing. So how can we implement this to be a little bit faster.
So we put in tweets of the week. The whole strategy behind tweets of the week, was to actually find people who were using #hubspotting, #Inboundmarketing, whatever, #INBOUND16, etc, and actually find things that they were saying that we thought were creative so that we could then mention them on the show and then mention that we mentioned them on the show so that then they would share out that they were on the show and other people, friends, family, dogs, cats, would actually start listening to the podcast, which worked really, really well.
We also did another section in there, which was agency spotlight where we'd start to talk about what agencies were doing well. Again, it was all about mentioning people so we could grow the community.
Kathleen: If I could just interject on that... That's something that I've always thought you guys did particularly well. Because The Sales Lion is an agency and not everybody realizes that at first because you are so much about education and about helping, but you do have clients. And it seems counter intuitive as an agency to promote other agencies. But back from the very beginning it starts with Marcus and River Pools and the famous story of how he would write blog posts about the top pool companies that were not his own on his website and what that did for his business. And I think you've taken that "aha moment" that came about through that initial experiment and really ran with it very successfully.
George: Well, I'll tell you a couple things. One, we bleed the fact - the truth - of there is no secret sauce. In podcasting you gotta talk about it. In the written words you gotta write about it. In video, you just gotta show it. There is no secret sauce. And the other thing is some of these posts that we do have become the most magical moments of our content marketing.
For instance, we have a Top 12 Hub Spot Partners post. It's a huge post. We don't mention ourselves. We mention all these other people. But I can tell you, the amount of traffic that we get, because we mention these people in a post. And also agencies who have said, how do I become the first person on this list. And then us adjusting overtime where we actually put people on the list. It's just, you have to be transparent, honest, authentic (which, by the way, those words I just said are key to the success of The HubCast podcast as well). That's the way that you have to communicate in today's space.
Kathleen: So you, had an objective, which was to create a podcast for HubSpot users. You determined that, and that audience was specific. Did you go out and look at other podcasts to try and get an idea of what the best practices might be for your format? Are there other podcasts that you look at as really good examples or get inspired from?
George: Yeah, I'd love to say that I was that smart at the beginning, but there has been a lot of learning along the way. However, I was a podcast junkie before this. And so I had listened to and paid attention to what other folks were doing at a very light level on educating myself. But there was really no "I want to be this type of podcast". It was more of like, "hey this is something new and I have no clue what it's going to look like, this is how we're gonna initially mold it and see what happens."
And one of the major things that we talked about was there's not gonna be any sponsors at first. No sponsors. And I think we made it to episode, Kathleen I think it was episode 54 before we ever actually talked about a sponsor. Now, one of the things that we weren't worried about in the beginning was how are we gonna generate revenue from this podcast. However, it has become one of the larger revenue generating sides of the business for us, which I'm sure we'll talk about in a little bit.
Kathleen: I think we understand the general concept of the podcast, and you talked about building community, obviously a campaign involving a podcast starts with making the podcast. You record it, you produce it, you publish it on your website, on some kind of hosting platform, but then how specifically have you promoted that podcast and gotten it in front of more eyeballs, more listeners? You have your show notes, which you do a very nice job with the show notes and we want to talk about that at some point too. But I'm curious, what are your lessons learned for how you promote a podcast and really start to get a bigger audience?
George: Yeah, I'm still learning. As a matter of fact, when you emailed me over before this podcast, and you used the word "campaign" attached to a podcast, I was like, all of a sudden like sparks started coming out of my brain and I'm like, "oh my gosh, this is the longest campaign that we've ever run and there are pieces of a typical campaign that are missing from what we're doing right now." It repositioned the way that I looked at the content that we are creating. So, that was amazing.
I'm always learning. As far as promoting the podcast, it was really just an organic thing at first where we would just create it, we would mention people, they would mention it. And because it was so authentic, transparent, useful stuff that was just important to them as a HubSpot user, it started to get noticed. Then we started doing other things where we would do social publishing. One of the smartest things I ever did probably - well, I mean I've done a couple smart things - but, one of the smartest things with The HubCast was that back in the day, when you could actually use the HubSpot share tool and share to LinkedIn groups. What I did was I went and I actually, not for a spammy crappy way, but just to be a helpful utility unto the HubSpot world, I went and I signed up for every possible HubSpot user group that I could on LinkedIn and then when we would produce a new episode of The HubCast, I would send it that way.
Here's the amazing thing, not once ever did anybody who was in charge of a LinkedIn group say, "oh you gotta stop sending us content." They were like, "yeah, bring it, this is good quality stuff." It's providing great content to a niche audience of HubSpot users, in a HubSpot user group, which if you think back is exactly why the podcast was created, so it was a perfect match.
Now that's a little bit more difficult and time consuming because you can't do it with one click, one button.
Kathleen: You gotta go in to LinkedIn to do it. Yeah, my heart shattered a little bit when they made that announcement.
George: Yeah, I think I cried for at least 30 seconds. Then I was like "I got work to do so let's just do this."
Kathleen: Time to move on.
George: The thing is, so we started to do that and it really helped.
The other thing that is really helped us is we've leveraged hashtags. As INBOUND has done a lot of work, to go from 2,500 to 5,000 to 15,000 to 21,000 attendees, they've given us a large amount of people that we can hashtag. Like if you look, there's a lot of titles that have #INBOUND15, 16, and 17 in them so that people are like, "oh I'm getting ready to go on a flight. Let me see what this podcast is about because I can listen to it while I'm 50 bazillion miles in the air."
Kathleen: So, that's a good thing. So you put the hashtag not just in your tweets, but in the titles of your podcast?
George: Oh absolutely.
Kathleen: Love that.
George: Because then, when anybody shares it, what's there? The hashtag. And so it spreads like wildfire. And so that is definitely another kind of social strategy that we have done.
Now I'll tell you what's in the horizon. We've actually talked about, because we've realized the power of, if we can get people to listen to The HubCast, if they see the value that we can add, there is revenue on the other side of it. So, it's working, now let's add gasoline to the fire and really fuel it up. So we've been talking about starting a Facebook lead ads campaign where we're just using some type of video content to get them on a page where they can subscribe to The HubCast and they can just realize "wow, this is super awesome, super valuable and I need to listen every week."
Kathleen: That's great.
I want to rewind for a second and pick apart what you do for the podcast. You have the show notes published on The Sales Lion website. In sort of a blog format, correct?
George: Yeah. Yep.
Kathleen: Do you host your podcast on a platform like LibSyn, or where is it hosted?
George: Let me just give you the kind of run through. Anybody who's trying to do this, cause I wish everybody would do this. First of all, let's just talk about gear and how simple we've kept it.
We use Skype, we use Skype Call Recorder and we use ATR 2100 microphones. That's it. That's how we record it. Boom. The way that I edit it, is I split the track with a piece of software that comes with Skype call recorder, I put it in Adobe Audition, I add an intro, I add an outro, I sometimes add a commercial for the HIT workshops or the video workshops that we do, I export it out to an MP3, I upload it to LibSyn, I throw all of the metadata that I need in there for iTunes, Stitcher and all those good places, and then we put it on our website. Then when we publish as a blog article to this specific category called The HubCast, then it shoots out to iTunes, Stitcher, blah blah blah.
Behind the scenes of that, before the recording, we use Dropbox Paper to create the outline for the show notes and where I can, again, take that template, paste it, fill in the blanks, and then share it with Marcus. He shows up, we look over the show notes, we record it, I do the whole editing part, then I take that outline, and I put it on our website as a blog, add images, tweak the links, make it look pretty, add a call to action, hit publish and then people can either listen on iTunes, Stitcher, wherever or on our actual webpage.
But we're never really trying to always drive them back to the webpage. I don't care where they listen. I just want them to listen. And that's pretty much the whole process other than like, on some episodes we'll have a special guest and there's another layer of complexity to that. That's pretty much it.
Kathleen: Do you have any sense of which platforms people are mostly listening on?
George: Yeah, for sure. It's a lot of IOS. So iPhones, iPads, whatever. Website might come next. Stitcher is probably after that. But you know what, while we can look at some of that granularity, I don't look at it very often. Really there's ... this is sad. I mean it's not sad. Well, it's sorta sad. There's really two metrics that ... well there's more than two metrics. There's some hard core metrics and there's some soft core metrics that I look at when it comes to the podcast.
When I think of hard core metrics, I think of things like, we started with 53 listeners. So, that's 53 downloads. Now we get well over 5000 downloads a month. And we've even had ...
Kathleen: And you're measuring that through LibSyn?
George: Yes we're measuring that through LibSyn. And we even had, Kathleen, this one time, I may have like pooped myself just a little bit. We had one episode that got 2185 downloads by itself. And we're like, "we're big time now people." No I'm just kidding. We didn't say that at all. We're like "wow, what happened?"
So we went from 53 listeners to 5000 listeners and so every month I'm looking at, "are we up and to the right?" Are we always gaining more listeners? Did something fall off? Are we not talking about the right topics? What are the hot topics? And then there's the intangibles, the soft metrics like the hand shakes, the high fives. And being able to tie back, if we didn't start The HubCast in 2014, I probably would've not spoke at INBOUND in 2016. I would've not spoke at INBOUND in 2017 because there was a power, a brand, a growth that was shown, and a massive amount of people who were like, "hey we wanna see George B speak at Inbound," this was 2016. So, that doesn't happen.
Because that doesn't happen then you can't say, well the deals that we closed because of INBOUND and speaking in front of an audience or retainers or whatever, that doesn't happen. You have to look at the audience growth year over year. So like, 2016, I think I spoke in front of 500 people, and then an overflow and this year it was a room of 1200 people with an encore and an overflow to the encore.
There's those metrics that aren't somewhere on a chart but you can visually see them. And then we can track back for 2016, over six figures of income that came from our services that we sell on just The HubCast. That's the only place we were promoting them. And this year of course it's still calculating. I don't know what it will be this year but last year was well over six figures.
Kathleen: Now, how are you tracking that?
George: If you have a podcast, and the only place that you promote a HubSpot Intensive Workshop or a video workshop or a workshop on workshops, all of those things, if that's the only place you're promoting them, and you can then sit back and go, "well we went out and did this many workshops for this much money," it's tracked. That's it. It's simple.
Kathleen: Do you have other, for example you do provide agency services, do you have a way of knowing if somebody comes in through your website and it's not something that was solely promoted on the podcast, do you have a way of being able to attribute that to the podcast, like a question and a form?
George: No. Other than, we'll hear people when we start to train them, they'll say things and you'll be like, "you listen to the podcast don't you?" And they'll be like "yeah, come on." But we never ... although Kathleen this would be a really good idea. On our onboarding of new clients we never say to them "are you a HubCast listener, or have you been a HubCast listener." So that's interesting, which might need to happen in the future.
Kathleen: It would be interesting to almost incorporate that into lead scoring and try to figure out, is somebody who is a HubCast listener more likely to become a client because they're already bought in to you, on a personal level, which is really a game changer for most of the leads that agencies get? Because, I don't know, I've owned an agency, I've worked for an agency and I do find that when somebody comes in cold, it always starts with an element of adversarialness to it. "Prove to me that you're as good as you say you are."
Kathleen: "Have you really gotten the results you talk about?" And so, part of the challenge in the sales discussion is overcoming that adversarialness and developing a different relationship.
George: We've never had that.
Kathleen: Because people listen to you online and they know who you are.
George: I say this humbly cause it's funny you're mentioning that and I'm remembering back in the old school days when I worked in an agency where we did have to claw and bite for the business. We're thought leaders. At The Sales Lion, we honestly do not have that issue because, after 154 episodes of The HubCast and over 400 HubSpot tutorials that I've done on YouTube, they've seen my face, they've heard my voice, they've tied it back to Marcus Sheridan and the larger strategy of "They ask, you answer," the Big Five, and as a client you sit back and you go, "well holy crap." We've got strategy and the most tactical tactition that is going to educate us on what we should be doing. And so usually its just like, "where do I sign?"
Kathleen: Yeah, and that's something that I want to pause and just emphasize. The concept of thought leadership. I talk to so many companies that are either doing inbound marketing and want to be able to do it better, or just starting to do it. Almost, I would say 90 percent of them at least, come to me and say, "we want to establish ourselves as thought leaders." What I find is that in today's world, it can be harder to do that in a blog because there are so many of them. Especially if you don't already have an audience that you can start to get really great content in front of.
But podcasting, there's a little bit more of an opportunity. It's a little bit more of the wild west still. There are a lot of podcasts. But not necessarily in every industry.
George: But specific. Specific.
I will tell you right now, one of the trainings I did last week was to a foam installation company to start a podcast. That's the thing, if you go very niche, into your industry or the services that you provide, there is still a lot of gold that can be mined. And that's why I said at the beginning, I get nervous that video is so popular because podcasting is still an area where you could be crushing it. I know you're gonna ask me some questions later, and what you'll notice is there's some names in there and they are podcasters, but they're also thought leaders. And when you talk about thought leaders, what I really want to say to those folks who say, "man I really want to be a thought leader," then I'm gonna say two things. Educate the crap out of yourself and work your butt off.
George: Cause if you don't do those two things, it doesn't happen. And so there's this thing I talked about at INBOUND17 where people want to educate, educate, educate, educate; that does not equal a thought leader. That also does not equal inbound success, but if you educate and execute, educate and execute, then you'll be an Inbound hero and you'll be a thought leader and then your world changes. Trust me. Your world changes.
I look at me, my family in 2012 and me, my family now in 2017 and whew, my goodness.
Kathleen: But you're also the master of if you put your vision for your future out into the universe, it will come true because having been a loyal HubCast listener from day one, I know that you've gone on that show and said, "this is what I want to accomplish next year and it's gonna happen." And every case when I've heard you say it, it has. There's something to that.
George: I live and die by goals. I'm always focused on what the next thing because I never want to feel like I've arrived. Not that I don't want to feel like I've succeeded, I just never want to feel like I've arrived. I think there's two differences there in the way that you look at the world. And even as we speak Kathleen, there's a board over to my left that has three year goals, things that I want to reach by the year 2020.
Kathleen: I want to know what's on that board.
George: I'll share with everybody.
George: By the year 2020, I want to keynote at Social Media Marketing World or at INBOUND. Now this is not a breakout session, this is a keynote, which is why two weeks ago I started a Facebook Live show called My Journey to an Inbound Keynote.
Kathleen: I love it.
George: I'm gonna get some people paying attention. I'm gonna talk specifically, talk about specifics. This is video, just for the use of talking to people about what I'm going to do, the micro moments to get to that larger goal. I'm sharing how I'm growing my community, how I'm working out, trying to lose weight, how I'm educating myself. So you're gonna see the nuts and bolts of, if I make it, how I made it through this video thing.
Kathleen: I love it, I love it.
George: Take the summer off ... by the way, not all of this is business related, which is something to think about listeners. Take the summer off to travel with family. 2020 will be my oldest daughter's senior year, and I want to take three months off, and I just want us to go travel around america and do whatever we can do and see whatever we can see.
By 2020 I want to write a book. And I even have the title, I have the idea. I've been through enough stuff that I think it would be really interesting to put out this manual if you will to the world. I've had, and I say this humbly Kathleen, I've had people come, several, multiple, many actually, people come up to me and say, either in email or in person, how do I find a George B Thomas for my agency? I think this book helps them find that person or build that person.
I want to ... this is the big hairy one where, when I wrote it I laughed, and I know people will laugh. By 2020 I want to make 250,000 dollars a year. Which is a lot of scratch right? That's a lot of money. What's a guy gonna do with that? Well a guy's gonna make a bigger dent in his universe.
Kathleen: Guy's gonna put his kid through college.
George: Yeah yeah. Guys gonna make a bigger dent in the universe.
Kathleen: Speaking as somebody who has four kids, two of whom are in college at the same time right now.
George: Exactly. I already put one through college, I got three more to go. Statistically, one probly won't go to college, which is shameful. But then last but not least, I want to sit on a board of a non profit organization. Again tying back to the deeper reason of why I'm actually here on the planet, versus just being an inbound thought leader.
Kathleen: I love that. And I'm gonna do an ask, and it may or may not be possible, I don't know what's on that board. But would you be willing to snap a photo of the board and share it with us so I can put it in the show notes?
Kathleen: I love it, that's awesome.
Kathleen: It's funny that you said you have personal goals on there because a couple years ago I read, I think it's like Mastering the Rockefeller Habits or something along those lines. And he talks in the book about how your goals have to be personal and professional because you're really not a complete person unless you can balance those two and be equally fulfilled in both realms so I totally agree with that.
George: I live my life, and I know this has gotten a little bit off of podcasting but, I live my life Kathleen, in a way that there is no work life balance, there's just life.
Kathleen: Love it. Alright so, back to podcasting for a minute.
Kathleen: I want to come back to something you mentioned earlier. So we've talked a couple times in this podcast about video. And you mentioned that you talk about video a lot. And you also mentioned that when you were making The HubCast you made a lot of videos and put them on YouTube. I think a lot of people, when they think about podcasting, it's very binary. It's like we're gonna put out this audio file, there might be some written show notes and boom we're done, but you managed to combine video as a really important part of that podcast. Can you talk a little bit more about that?
George: Yeah. This ties into the show notes. One of the things that I realized is, and this is because of weakness, I'm not a great writer. Okay, I just can't write. My spelling sucks, my grammar sucks, it probly has something to do, tying back to the math teacher who told me I would never amount to anything and at the age of 17 dropping out of high school. Not having the education I needed for that part of my life. When Marcus said, "hey let's do The HubCast," which by the way people, that was being vulnerable.
When he said "lets do this podcast," I was like, I'm gonna make the most incredible show notes, where it has nothing to do with if I can write great but I can be creative and I can put images and words and videos and whatever on this page where people are like, "man these show notes are awesome." Cause that was my side of the written word right? And people, our content manager or Marcus, would go through and just make sure that the parts that I did write, were like, yeah you're good and the rest is awesome.
But, going more specific into why video in the show notes, was, one of the sections, because one of our goals was to educate and its very hard to show people how to do things in HubSpot in audio form. I'll tell you, Chris Handy with Hub Spot To Go did a great job. I'm sad that that podcast isn't continuing to go more and more and more. But it's just very difficult. By the way, Chris Handy is one of my heroes. I just love him in the space and hey, I mentioned him alright, cool. Check.
So I wanted to be able to show people how to do things in HubSpot and that became a section that was HubSpot Tips and Tricks. It grew and it had its own thing where, all of a sudden Marcus one episode called me "Georgie Claus" and there's this whole "ding, ding, ding" thing that happened around every time that I would have the tutorial in one of the episodes. And what we found was super interesting as people would come to the show notes and then go to our YouTube channel and watch these videos. And so it was something that was working. It stuck, and we could educate them while they are walking up the mountain or while they are driving down the road and when they got to their office, they could then get these micro moments of video content specific to, tips and tricks in the tool of HubSpot or HubSpot CRM.
Kathleen: That's great. It just goes to show that you don't need to be such a purest in your format. Somebody actually told me that the other day about podcasting. In fact, it was somebody fairly high up at HubSpot. I was asking what he saw as some future opportunities in marketing and he said, I would look at different formats of podcasting. There's a Hamilton podcast, which is a musical podcast. And they're doing great and they're different experiments. You don't have to follow the traditional playbook. I think that's a great example of how you built on what were your strengths and found a great solution.
George: Yeah, you just have to find ... it is, it's about your strengths and how you can tell the story. And how you can kind of lead the way through that story.
Kathleen: You have gotten fantastic results for the company through podcasting, you've built this large community, you've got a big following on the podcast. What I've loved hearing about this story is that you did come about the format and the whole campaign, which we're now gonna call it, organically.
Kathleen: You came about it organically in a way that really good marketers should, which is what's our objective? Who's our audience? And what's really gonna work for them? I would love to know, as somebody who is so committed to learning, where do you turn for information? When you go look for websites for ideas and the latest thinking and cutting edge tactics and strategies, who are you looking towards? I feel like a lot of people look towards you.
George: First of all there's a butt ton of podcasts that I listen to as I'm flying or traveling. But if I have to give you the default answer to this, I would of course say, it's HubSpot Academy. I mean come on. I've got 14 certifications out of the 15 so that's definitely a huge part of it.
Kathleen: Probably the only reason you don't have the 15th is they keep releasing new ones, darn them!
George: No, to be honest with you it's because it's Growth-Driven Design and you need a snack and a backpack to get that one done.
Kathleen: Yeah true.
George: I love you Luke Summerfield, if you listen to this ever.
Kathleen: Nice, put it on the board.
George: Yeah, put it on the board.
HubSpot Academy, HubSpot blogs of course. But then I honestly look at IMPACT Branding and Design. I look at what you guys are writing and creating. I look at Impulse Creative. That's my default answer. Really those are like the four core, when it comes to inbound marketing.
There's other pieces like Moz for SEO and Lynda.com for other things. But here's the not so, again not so sexy answer is more times than not, I learn stuff about inbound marketing when I'm working through things with my own clients. There are several systems in place that are not taught anywhere. Like anywhere else. The fact that I got up and at INBOUND this year, one of my sessions for a Highly Effective HubSpotter was triple qualify your leads. And I was talking about informationally qualified, engagement qualified, and persona qualified. And there were HubSpot users and agency owners that came up to me and said, "Holy crap, gold! Where did you learn that?" And I'm like "no, no, no, I built that."
That's something that has happened more and more and more. And Kathleen the reason I think this has happened is because, I'm able to take the things that I have learned through 14 certifications, and because there's not one two or three certifications, but there's 14 certifications and I'm literally looking at the landscape from marketing, sales, design, development. Because I used to be a nerdy designer and developer, I'm able to piece ... and add in the fact that I understand humans from being a recovering youth pastor, I'm able to see all of this and kind of like, ooh if this part of the brain attaches to this piece over here and we add two of these and a little dash of this, pppffff, inbound goodness right. That's part of the answer as well.
Kathleen: Awesome. My next question, which I always ask everyone who comes on this podcast is, who - company or individual - do you think is doing inbound marketing really well? So if the listener wanted to go out and see an example of somebody who's just killin' it, who should they look at?
George: Well I should say you. Cause you're doing a podcast.
Kathleen: You can't say ... cause that's you know ... well aside from us.
George: Again, IMPACT is killin' it, you guys are killin' it.
Kathleen: It's not about us.
George: I know, it's not. But I did prepare. If you wanna see people that are out there that are killin' it inbound and just general good people, I would say people like Stephanie Casstevens, Moby Siddique, Francess Bowman, Dan Moyle. Those are like the core group of people that I'm watching and excited about their growth in life and where they're going.
Of course, then you layer on the people who are doing podcasts like, HubShots with Craig and Ian. Zon and Adam from The Kingdom who are doing HubnSpoke. Any of those people who are doing what we're talking about today. Creating content through a podcast or have just generally been killing it with very interesting out of the box things or ideas. That's where I'm at.
Now, that's people. And in the question, people or companies. Companies, and I don't wanna turn this into a TSL client show, cause it's not what it should be. But I will tell you, we have one client that I'm super excited with in particular. I've been watching them. And it's Slick Woody's. They sell Corn Hole boards, Corn Hole bags, Corn Hole lights and other stuff like apparel and adirondack chairs. They have been killing it. When we say write these things, or do these tactics or use HubSpot in this way, and what's really neat about it, is they've been leveraging HubSpot and Shopify and The Sales Lion training for a year, just signed on for another six month contract of, I think it was like, we just love you so much we wanna keep you around to be honest with you. But just signed on for another half a year contract with us. But have, just astronomically blown out their yearly "this is what we'd like to make" number. And their customers are super happy with the way that they are actually doing it.
That to me is a "win, win" scenario. And then I think of a couple UK clients that we have. OSV and Triaster, they historically have been killing it with their inbound marketing.
Kathleen: That's great. I definitely will put a link to Slick Woody's
Kathleen: ... in the show notes. Everyone go check that out. I think it's nice to see examples from different industries too, cause everybody always comes in and thinks, "oh I can't do that in my industry," there's another one - corn hole boards - that who knew, was a great candidate for inbound marketing.
Well thank you for sharing all this George. It's been so fun and so interesting and I love that you shared a lot of the personal stuff in addition to the podcasting stuff. You're always so good about walking the walk with being honest and transparent and authentic.
George: Yeah, sometimes I'm ... I'm waiting for it to get me in trouble. But so far, it's been a good thing.
Kathleen: Well, it's great. And if our listeners have questions, obviously they should definitely listen to The HubCast. I recommend it. When I had my own agency and I would hire new people, one of the things I would assign them - I don't think I ever told you this - as a new employee, was that they should listen to every episode of The HubCast. For everybody listening, that's definitely a great place to start if you want to be a better inbound marketer. But if people specifically want to reach out to you with questions, where can they reach you?
George: So I'll give you a couple different places. First of all, that is kinda cool that like, "hey you're hired but you have to listen to these 150 episodes of a podcast." I love it.
If people want to reach out to me, by the way, if you have questions about podcasting or whatever, you can email me, email@example.com I did just give you my email.
But if you just want to have a conversation on the socials, then you can reach out to me on Twitter @georgebthomas and on Facebook, which is really the place that I love to jam the most, @mr.georgebthomas, which now that I said that I feel like maybe I'm saying I'm old, cause I like Facebook. But anyway. Doesn't matter.
Kathleen: I love it. Well thank you for sharing all those different ways for people to get in touch with you. And for sharing all this awesome feedback on podcasting, I definitely am gonna hound you about getting that picture of your board cause I think that's so cool and I might just start my own board as a result of this.
George: Do it. Do it.
Kathleen: I have all kinds of thoughts in my head right now about what my goals are gonna be. But anyway, thank you so much. And for people listening, if you liked this episode, please review us on iTunes or Stitcher. It means a lot and helps us get in front of other people. And if you know somebody who's really kicking it with their inbound marketing results, let us know. Because we're listening for and looking for new people to interview every week. And if you are somebody who's killing it, we'd love to talk to you. So that's it for this week and, join us next week for our next interview with an inbound marketing rockstar.