Episode 3 – Internet Marketing with Lee Collins

Lee dropped additional nuggets of sales and marketing goodness in the EXTENDED Interview. Be sure to click here to access all of our great extended interviews, transcripts and more within our Insider's Club.

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lee-collins-windowExpert Insights on Internet Marketing

Since 1999, (Charles) Lee Collins has built multi-million dollar sales and marketing organizations. He has hosted or shared the stage at seminars in every major city in the U.S. and around the world with marketing legends such as Joe Vitale, Frank Kern, Robert G. Allen and Mark Victor Hansen.

Podcast Transcription:

Brian Basilico: Hey, guys. I am so pumped about today's guest. His name is Lee Collins and his company is Lee-collins.com. Anyway, he has been in internet marketing since 1999, he has built multi-million dollar sales and marketing organizations, he shared the stage with some of the brightest minds in the internet market. As a matter of fact, I think he is one of the brightest minds. I bought his stuff, I've learned from him, I love his concepts and the way that he thinks, and the basic marketing principles that he brings to the table.

Hey, Lee, thanks for joining us today. I got a question for you and I have seen dozens, thousands, I don't know how many online profiles or bios, but yours include your Myers-Briggs profile and for those of you who don't know what that is, it's like the DISC system which is basically a personality analysis. Can you tell me why you've included that on your personal profile?

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Lee Collins: Well, one of the things I've learned over the years is that as you work with people, knowing more about that person and how they operate helps you make the interaction with that person more effective. When people wants to hire me to do consulting, or to help with their business, or whatever it is they may be hiring me for, I really want them to know anything about me that they can. Not just the stuff you can read online about – what I sell, what I do – but who I am, as they're working with me as a person, I want them to understand who I am as a person.

So, INTJs – INTJ is my classification under Myers-Briggs and it said that we're about 2% of the US population so there's not many of us. That kind of prompted me a little more to get it out there as well because if there's only 2% in US population who are INTJs like I am, that means the chances of people running into people like me in the course of their lifetime is really, really low. So, I wanted to let them know who I am as a person, as a personality. We're very decisive, we're very original, we're very insightful and sometimes to the extent that we push people away with how devoted and how passionate we are about the things that we do.

So self-confidence, we rely on huge archives of knowledge. I know a lot of stuff about a lot of stuff and it's just that we start to develop that stuff in childhood and as we grow up, we learn more, we do more and we're very confident in the information that we know because we know it in such a way that's very strategic, that can help people move forward or again, like I said earlier, it can repel help people. Sometimes a personalitytype can be a little strong for that.

Brian: So that makes sense, that makes a lot more sense to me at least. I was going through one of your products, the One Page Money Makers and you told this awesome story about this mini-racers that all the sudden you discovered and started to sell. Talk about that.

Lee: I sure can. Mini-racers – for people who don't know what they are – if you imagine just a small matchbox car, just a small car that's radio-controlled, that's what a mini-racer is. The thing about the mini-racers is I never really wanted to sell mini-racers. This is kind of a lesson for folks too, is a lot of people will tell folks, “Pursue your passion. Go after your passion.” I never like to say that's right, wrong, good or bad, but it's just not the method that I want to go after. What I'd rather do instead is find an audience who is passionate about something and wants to spend money on that thing and sell that thing to them.

That's what they do with the mini-racers and the interesting part of the story is I found it by spam. Generally when I was speaking in front of the audiences, I'll ask people, “Raise your hand if you hate spam.” And everybody's hand in the audience goes up. And I say, “Well, what if I tell you that spam was responsible for my first $20,000 a month? Not that I was sending spam, but I had the spam email in my email box talking about these little mini RC cars.” Then serendipitously, that night I saw Diane Sawyer on TV talking about these little radio-control cars and that if anybody can find a way to get their hands on a bunch of these cars, they're going to make a lot of money. I decided I was going to be that person.

So I found the source in China, found a way to get the cars for about $2 a piece when I first started – or do the math. I'm not good at doing the math on the fly. But $500 is what it cost me to get a box of 96 cars. So a few bucks a piece. The thing about that is, Brian, I didn't have any money. A few days before, my wife at the time came to me with a stack of papers and said, “Lee, what's this?” Unfortunately she made it to the mailbox before I did, found the stack of credit card debt and I replied to her, I said, “Hey, that's our online business.” She said, “Well, it's not doing too well.” I said, “No, it's not, but I'm getting there. I'll figure it out.” She said, “You better or you have to quit.” That's kind of the way it went.

So I decided that I was just going to go ahead and pursue these mini-racers. I begged for the money, we didn't have it, we'd spend check to check, and I went to her, and I said, “Hey, I just need $500. I know I can make this work.” She said, “We don't have $500. [inaudible]. We have the kids' Christmas money that we saved.” You can almost hear a pin drop, but after three days of relentless begging and pleading, I was a little more tenacious, and she was about pushing it forward. She said, “Okay, fine. Just do it. I just don't want to hear anything else about it and when the kids have a horrible Christmas, you're going to tell them why they had a horrible Christmas.” So I said, “Okay, fine.” I took the challenge, I went with it. The very first day that I put it online, we made about $5,000, that month turned into $20,000. After that months, turned into a whole lot more, came to one of the largest distributors of those cars on the east coast and I was having a UPS truck come to my house two to three times a day empty to pick up cars because we're selling them right out of our house.

That's the way it worked for me. I found and followed someone else's passion and sold stuff to them that they wanted to buy.

Brian: Oh, man. Can I relate to that story and been there, done that? I'm sure a lot of entrepreneurs online have been at that place where you're at the brink, you trusted your gut, you took a chance and man, it paid off. That's so awesome. I guess the next question I want to ask you is more about you. Who is Lee Collins? What makes you tick? What are the kind of things that you do for other people? Tell me about you and your business.

Lee: One of the things that I'm really good at is systems and processes. That doesn't sound really sexy at all to many people. Sat down with someone who had a plan, they were going to execute it over the next few months, I showed them how to execute it step-by-step in just a few weeks. Systems and process is what gets you to where you want to go. Like I said, even if they don't sound sexy and they don't sound like a lot of fun to do, they don't have to be tedious. Hire someone like me to do it for you, and I love doing this stuff. I love setting up systems and processes. That's what I've been doing.

For a little while I work for other people, ran some other people's companies for them. Just going public with this, it was more to learn about the insides and outsides of other businesses and how they're running them. If I was in the corporate world, it would be corporate espionage that I was doing, but it was nothing quite as devious as that. It was just that I needed something to do for a while, I wanted to do something different, I got a little tired of doing what I was doing, I wanted to see what it was like in other people's companies, what they were doing – didn't really necessarily learn a lot, but did help their companies a lot while I was there, which was fantastic.

Brian: Very cool. So the first major question I've got for you is I would like you to help us to define what internet marketing is. How would you define internet marketing?

Lee: For me, I take the old-school approach to it. When people say, “Lee, I want to learn internet marketing.” A lot of people nowadays think of internet marketing as this magical thing that they do. There's no internet to market. Think about internet marketing as it doesn't exist. It's marketing stuff on the internet is the way that I define it. It's just that your advertising marketing efforts that you use on the web and the email to drive sales. To me, it's really no different than TV, or radio, or anything else. If we say, “I want to do radio marketing.” You don't hear anybody say that. “I wanted to do TV marketing.” Nobody says that either, but it's just funny to me everybody says, “I want to do internet marketing.”

Not necessarily traditional, but I think the way that most people define internet marketing is, “I want to sell stuff teaching people how to market stuff on the internet, which is fine.” I have no issue with that definition, but the one that works for me is I like to think of the internet as a medium for marketing, which means that if I'm doing radio, TV, classified ads – I still do a lot of offline stuff – direct mail, the internet is just another medium for me to reach people in a different way.

Brian: Okay. That's a cool perspective. I like that a lot because a lot of people are used to traditional marketing and a lot of people are just trying to get into internet marketing and they do have similarities. One of the things that I talk about on the podcast was that I go out to the mailbox, hit my dog out there, walk back in, sitting in the garage is the recycle bin and I'm just thumbing through things and saying, “Okay, this is never going to make it in the house.” Can you talk a little bit about the difference between traditional marketing and internet marketing in your world?

Lee: To me, one of the biggest differences is – do you have a spam filter in your mailbox? Your physical mailbox?

Brian: No, but I wish.

Lee: Yes. Between point A and B, when people are sending you physical mail, does anybody else review it to see if, “Brian might want this, or if I might just throw it away on his behalf.”

Brian: No.

Lee: No. One of the big differences I see is that there is no spam filter and there's nobody else deciding between point A and B what you should and should not get. When company A send you something, it arrives in your box and you get to make the decision right then, “Do I want to see this or not?” That's one of the big differences for me in direct mail versus email, because in email you have spam filters, you have spam traps, you have servers who have filters – you have a lot of different touch points between A and B deciding on your behalf should the person that you sent that email to receive it or not?

From your various first server that you hit from hitting “send,” it's deciding, “Should I let this pass?” So it hit a spam trap for me. And then server 2, spam traps are different, so it doesn't hit a spam trap for that. Then you get to your outlook, or whatever it is, or Gmail, and it decides for you. I love the fact that with regular traditional mail – I call it real mail – snail mail, whatever you want to call it, I get to decide. So when the recipient receives the physical mail, it's their responsibility to decide if they want to take action with it. That's why I went offline to start with, Brian. I went offline for about 18 months back in the '07-'08, lot of money. If you have an offer that's working online, if you get your internet marketing – let's just go back to using that term – if you get your internet marketing working right and it's selling and you take your offer offline, you can make three to five times as much easily and that's conservative numbers. I've seen people make a lot more than that.

The big difference is there, to me there's a whole world of people out there who still want to buy stuff traditionally, and to me, everybody is a hybrid customer, which means that they buy online and they buy offline. So if they're already a hybrid customer, I'll sell to them both ways. But let's get them both working really well because in that marketing, speed to market, things you can do with that, a lot faster, a lot cheaper, a lot of good testing you can do there.

Brian: Yes, that's awesome. There's lots of things that we could do to grow our market and I guess there's probably a lot of small business people listening to this going, “That's really cool.” But I wanted to ask you what kind of mistakes do you see in your world that small business people are making?

Lee: The biggest mistakes I see a lot of small businesses make is trying to do it all themselves. They're already wearing too many hats as it is, so they're trying to be the CEO, they're trying to be the president of the company, they're trying to be the accountant, they're trying to be the manager on the day-to-day basis and it's often they're even going down trying to do the work themselves. So they're already wearing too many hats and now suddenly, they have to become an internet marketer also, and learn Facebook, and Twitter and all these other different methodologies. To me, when people are wearing too many hats, it just spreads them way too thin.

The second part of that though is, okay, let's say that you do Facebook. You're genuinely doing it wrong. I use that terminology because that's what small business that I consult with use. They say, “Well, I do Facebook, but I don't know if I'm doing it right.” Well, you're probably not. If you're not getting clients, you're not getting customers, you're not driving business, you're probably not. Then the question is, should you be doing it? Is that the right medium for you? Joe down the street told them they should be doing Facebook or they see their competitor doing Facebook, so they decided to do Facebook, too, but there's no plan in place. Being a strategic thinker as I am, there always needs to be a step-by-step plan in place. No plan in trying to do too many things and trying to learn something beyond the skill sets of most small businesses anyway.

Brian: Yes, I hear that and I understand it because it's so easy to get caught up in the minutiae of day-to-day operations.

The next question I got for you is this, how do you define, or how can we define a small business' success? What things do we need to know, understand and put into place today?

Lee: Well, to me you can't manage what you don't measure. The very first thing that I do when I'm consulting with someone is I set up analytics. I set up ways to track, and measure, and monitor. The good tool that I found just the other day, I've been using dashboards for a long time, but I found this really neat tool the other day called CYFE.com. It is a way to set up little dashboards that you can set up for the client and they can watch all their major metrics. They can see what's happening on their Facebook, they can see what's happening with their email.

To me, defining internet marketing success has to do with measuring stuff. You have to know how things are going. “Am I doing better today than yesterday? Am I doing better this week than last week?” If not, you need to start measuring things. You can't improve if you don't know where your baseline is. One of the biggest things that I could ever say is measure so that you can manage it, so you can improve.

Brian: But what kind of things are people measuring? Are we measuring traffic? Are we measuring hits? Are we measuring bounce rates? What kind of things are you looking at?

Lee: All that and more. Let's say that you are implementing a Facebook campaign. You might take your Facebook campaign and you want to know, “How many new likes did I get yesterday?” A lot of us know that likes don't necessarily equate to business, but still a lot of businesses want to get more likes because the general customer who comes to the Facebook page, they're going to see, “Oh, this guy has 5,000 likes and it establishes some level of credibility with them. As a marketer from our side, we don't put a whole lot of merit in that necessarily, but we know that it matters to the business and it matters to the client. Therefore, that's something you should measure.

If you're setting up a Dashboard to do that, measure your likes, measure your engagement. How many people responded to posts on the wall? Measure all those things. If you're running ads, you can run those ads through the dashboard as well, measure how they're doing. If you're running an ad and you're running let's say three variations which you should run at least three for testing – more actually, but three is a good start, you should be measuring which one is doing the best, which one is getting you the most likes from engagement, or if you have conversation tracking set up – I know we're getting way deep here, pretty advanced stuff – but if you have a conversion tracking, which one is getting the most opt-ins, or the most sales, or the most whatever that X factor is that you're trying to achieve.

Brian: I love that stuff. I'm a data junkie. I love going and looking at my analytics and looking at all of those things, but I know a lot of companies that I've set up analytics for and systems for and they've just never look at it, it boggles my mind because that's so important.

So the next question I want to ask you is this; we're small business owners, we get up and put our pants on the same way as everybody else, but in your opinion, what is the first thing that every entrepreneur should do every single day?

Lee: The first thing that most small businesses need to be thinking about is, “How am I going to get the customers at my door? How am I going to get people coming to my place of business?” I was actually just speaking with someone about this earlier today and the number one thing that you should be thinking about all the time is leads, lead generation, traffic generation, “How do I get more people in the door?” Again, if you're not measuring what you're doing, you have no idea where you are. I was actually consulting with a business owner and he said, “My website is the [McDaddy] website.” And to him it looks fantastic. I said, “How is it performing?” He said, “I don't know.” I said, “How many visitors are you getting?” He said, “I don't know.” I said, “What kind of tracking do you have on?” He said, “I don't know.” So we put tracking on it and we found that it was really doing lousy from a numbers' perspective.

So it's all about watching your numbers and getting more traffic in the door. Another person was asking me, they said, “Well, if I'm doing all these items to all these things and I ran out of something to do…” I said, “You never run out of anything you do because you should always be trying to find new ways to get traffic.” The number one thing to do is traffic. Without traffic, nothing happens. I like to tell a story of back in the day when I was living in Louisiana, I used to go down to New Orleans a lot down to Bourbon street. If you've ever been to a bar on Bourbon street, the bars down there, they're lined with business cards. There are thousands upon thousands of business cards on every wall, on every column, on every ceiling. They're just there. To me, I walked into this bar and I looked at it and I'm thinking, “Wow, this is like the internet.” All these thousands and thousands of websites, all online and not a single one of these is getting any business because nobody cares, because there's so often they'll see a business card just like most people's websites are lost in the sea of websites. You have to do something different. If you're not driving traffic, you're just one of those business cards hanging on the wall not doing anything.

Brian: I've never been to New Orleans and never seen that, but want to check it out someday soon.

All of us are trying to generate leads, build the sales funnel – what are the things that we need to do to make our businesses more prominent, found, stand out on the internet?

Lee: The biggest thing I advocate is doing something different. There are so many people out there doing “me-too marketing” and “hope marketing,” that none of it really matters. I'm guilty of it in the past just like everybody else so I'm not talking down to anyone, but it's one of the biggest gotchas that I see, is everybody is doing just me-too marketing. If Joe down the street says, “We're the best.” Then the next small business owner next to him says, “No, we're the best.” How many best can you have? How many highest quality can you have? You can't have that many. So, differentiate yourself in some way and I can't tell you what the tip was, but I actually was doing a business counsel earlier today and I gave this person a golden nugget of a tip that is going to completely revolutionize everything they're doing in their business. The tip was just differentiation tactic. Everybody on the business that this person's in or they're doing a certain thing and this is a way to – yes, you can still do all those things, but you have to differentiate yourself.

Let me just give you one example that I can give you. When I'm consulting with a small business, they talk to probably tens or dozens of people who have come to them and said, “We talked to a guy last week who wanted to do our SEO. We talked to a guy yesterday who wanted to do whatever it is.” Mostly it's SEO, that's what you hear a lot of. I never talk to people about SEO. What I talk to people about doing is doing a strategic diagnostic over their business to see where they are. This is part of the measurement so you can measure and manage, and then after that giving them a step-bystep plan to make it better. Sure in the backend we're doing SEO, we're doing other stuff, too, but I never lead with that, I never talk about that in our strategies or our diagnostic sessions.

That's a good tip for people who want to differentiate themselves in the market as well. If you're doing small business consulting, stop talking about SEO. Nobody cares. You talk to the business owner and they've heard that over, and over, and over again, they probably got letters in the mail, they probably have received those emails, they've received all the stuff that you're doing. Instead of talking about that, talk to them about the strategic diagnosis for your business.

Brian: Man, I love that. That is so awesome. There's a couple of things that you said that really struck a chord with me and the first one was me-too marketing and the other one was hope marketing. Man, I see that all the time especially in the SEO world where people are hoping to get found online and they sign up with these SEO companies and it's like a gym membership they pay every single month and forget about it, and just don't see results.

I really want people to connect up with you, Lee. What is the best way to get a hold of you online?

Lee: The best way to reach me is always by my website, Lee-collins.com. You could also hit my support desk which is Askleecollins.com. Either those is fantastic. I'm also on Facebook and Twitter, all the places you'd expect me to be after being in this business for 15 years – everywhere. So you can pretty much find me wherever you want me to be, but I prefer people contact me by my website or by support desk. That's the easiest way to get into a channel with me so we could talk.

Brian: Cool. I could say one thing, man, you have an awesome personality on Facebook. You do some great stuff. I just love all the way that you do. The one thing that I know you're a huge advocate of is we are all personal brands. You do such a great job of doing that, that you put yourself out there, you have great inspirational video tips that you do. You do fun things like karaoke, you put up great quotes and all that stuff. I just think that's really an excellent way to create that relationship with people online. Thanks, man.

Lee: Thank you. It's funny because my wife – I put up my video of me singing the other night. She said, “Oh my god, you didn't put that online.” I said, “Yes, I did. Dude, I have no shame.”

Brian: It's awesome.

Lee: I'm a person, I like to have fun and I've got 15 years of business of marketing strategically in my brain. I like to do it all.

Brian: That video was awesome. I loved it. Before we end today, I wanted to let people know about you have a system and it's called Hybrid Marketing 101. Can you tell us about that?

Lee: Okay. Hybrid Marketing – It's a training system basically and it's over six hours of me going step-by-step how to leverage online plus offline marketing together in a way that gets your results beyond probably anything you've seen before. Like I said earlier, I think a lot of people get hung up with the internet marketing concept and don't pay enough attention to the offline stuff. By offline, I don't mean postcards. That's the first thing people think by offline. Sure, it's postcards but it's direct mail, it's TV, it's radios, it's all the different things you can do. Direct mail is my personal favorite so I do a lot of training in that.

But the thing is I always talk to people about direct mail and the first thing they say is, “I've tried postcards and they don't work.” Well, how many times have you done  anything once in your life and it didn't work? Did you do the postcards correctly? Did you use the right color? Did you use the right font? Did you use the right copy? There are so many different things to take into account. So what hybrid marketing really does is it gives you the best of online marketing, strategies I've learned over the past 15 years in the best of offline strategies I've learned since '07 when I worked with some of the best offline marketers in the world to develop these strategies.

It's a funny story but it's true that back in the '08, I showed this to Frank Kern and he liked this so much, he sent it out to all his mass control members at the time. It's only gotten better since then. What was good before is even better now. I've just literally a few weeks ago just redid the entire course, updated with everything, it's killer, killer information. I think your people will really love it.

Brian: I'm sure they will. One of the things I love about you is you can really tell that you're not what we call a poser, man. You talk the talk and you walk the walk and you do these things. I've seen you online, and I've seen you market, and I've seen you speak and I really love the way that you teach people how to do what you've done to be successful. Man, that is such a gift.

Lee: Right. I spend 75% of my time minimal doing and the rest teaching. I love teaching strategies. I'm an accidental teacher, Brian. I never intended to do this. People found out what I was doing with the mini-racers and the few other things I had going on, coerce to get on stage, it turns out I like teaching. I really love teaching people stuff. I still do it and I spend a little bit of time teaching it just because it's so fun. I love seeing those lightbulb moments when people really get it, and actually do something with it, and things happen in their life that didn't happen before. There is nothing better for me.

Brian: Dude, that is so awesome. I really appreciate you, I've learned a lot from you and I know you're busy, you are all over the place, you're doing masterminds, you're doing training, you're developing products and it's a pleasure and an honor to learn from you. Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule and I really hope my audience appreciates it as much as I do. So dude, thank you so much for spending time with us.

Lee: Thank you.

Brian: I really hope you enjoyed this and learned something and we're going to continue down this journey of learning from some great experts like Lee. In our next podcast, we're going to learn about making killer websites from Kurt Scholle from Web Asylum, so join us next time on the Bacon Podcast.

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