The .com crash cratered his software business. But Computer scientist entrepreneur salesman marketer Brian Massey (and his white lab coat) successfully ride again
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If he started over
“I’d move faster to find my complement. All entrepreneurs are wonderful but we have our blind spot. This keeps us from doing one part of the business well.”
"My biggest mistake was not aggressively growing my list early on. Today, as much as it was back in the direct mail days, the money is in the list. I was spending quite a bit of time creating content and blogging starting in 2004. I didn't focus on how that was feeding my business.”
"It's the lab coat. I keep coming back to it because it has really worked. In the B2B space, the conventional wisdom is you need to be safe in your marketing with a brochure style website that uses the proper jargon. We threw all that to the wind.”
"What every business needs to do is provide a mental hook in every communication and engagement with a customer or client. Then you can hang other propositions and experiences on this hook.”
Bad conventional wisdom
"The biggest mistake they make is thinking people care about the company or the products. They don't care. This is counterintuitive because why would they be coming to your website if they didn't care about your products or services?
The truth is they’re interested in solving a problem they're having.”
Why Listen to Brian Massey:
In the audio, Brian shares:
- His big revelation that made his current business success possible
- #1 thing he did that skyrocketed his business’ profits
- Biggest mistake was NOT growing this most valuable asset sooner and what he’s doing to fix that
- The “Unsafe” thing he did in B2B that worked like gangbusters
- The unusual gift he gives clients after the 1st engagement that brands his business in an unforgettable way and how you can use this
- The big assumption even established companies make on their website and the simple framework to fix it
Brian Massey calls himself a Conversion ScientistTM and he has the lab coat to prove it. He is the founder of website optimization company Conversion Sciences and author of the book Your Customer Creation Equation: Unexpected Website Formulas of The Conversion Scientist.
His rare combination of interests, experience and neuroses was developed over 20 years as a, computer programmer, corporate marketer and entrepreneur.
He authors The Conversion Scientist blog, and has written for ClickZ.com, Search Engine Land, Marketing Land and the Content Marketing Institute. He lives and works in Austin, Texas where life and the Internet are hopelessly entwined.
He's a Texas A&M University graduate in computer science. He saw an IBM salesperson in a blue sport coat and felt like he could do that. So unlike most with a computer science background, he went into sales. He sold semiconductors for Texas Instruments.
He found his way back to software. In the mid-90s he founded his first company. It was a computer programming company that went under in the Internet bust of 2001.
He doesn't work well as an employee because he hates when people with lesser ideas have the power to squash his ideas.
Some Shareables from Brian in this episode…
If he started over
"I'd move faster to find my complement. All entrepreneurs are wonderful but we have our blind spot. This keeps us from doing one part of the business well. I was happy to be out selling, creating content, networking and marketing. However, on the operations side I was faking it. This included my efforts doing the books and also failing to understand the most profitable parts of the business. In 2011, I met my business partner who had operational skills and the business profits have skyrocketed.
I don't know if that key person for you will be a business partner or employee. But start looking for that complement not just for skills you don't have but so you can focus on your interests and activities you enjoy doing."
"I'm a recovering ENTP. I'm sliding into the ENFP which is the more humanist and relational category. I've become more interested in the relationships with my business and people than in the products and services."
"My biggest mistake was not aggressively growing my list early on. Today, as much as it was back in the direct mail days, the money is in the list. I was spending quite a bit of time creating content and blogging starting in 2004. I didn't focus on how that was feeding my business.
The first way to do that is to get people who are reading your stuff to join your list. Then you can begin a conversation with them over e-mail instead of hoping they'll come back to your website. We know a lot more about how to do that these days. I'm not going for sheer size. I also want quality. I don't want a bunch of people on my list who are interested in being entertained. I want people who are interested in growing their online business."
Favorite part of entrepreneur's journey
"It has to be making my own rules. I'm not a very good employee. I've got some authority figure issues. Making my own schedule is important to me. Getting a chance to travel. I actively pursued that when I began speaking and have gone to Japan and Europe.
I'm more of a teacher than an entrepreneur. When conversion sciences started, conversion optimization wasn't in the vocabulary of anybody. It's taken a long time to educate folks on the benefits of conversion optimization. The math behind it and how it reduces the costs of all your other marketing was a process to get people to understand."
"It's the lab coat. I keep coming back to it because it has really worked. In the business-to-business space, the conventional wisdom is you need to be safe in your marketing with a brochure style website that uses the proper jargon. We threw all that to the wind.
I put on the lab coat and said, ‘We're going to have some fun talking about science and labs'. We don't call our space an office we call it the lab. It was a little scary for me but it was the first thing I thought of so I went with it. Everywhere I go people ask me where the lab coat is?
We send lab coats to our clients after we've completed the first round of engagement with them. I give one to the speaker or MC at every event I speak at. People may not remember what I say but they do remember the lab coat. You just don't see this in a business-to-business setting very often."
"What every business needs to do is provide a mental hook in every communication and engagement with a customer or client. Then you can hang other propositions and experiences on this hook. When they see me speaking or one of my e-mails they see the lab coat and remember the other experiences they've had with me."
"Traveling to such strange places. We had one client in Japan then we got to stay on the island of Ho Chi Do with an active volcano. We stayed at a traditional Japanese hotel with the volcano in the background. Every so often what sounded like a cannon would go off. You look up in the air above the volcano and see a Volkswagen size piece of volcanic rock hurtling through the air.
In Amsterdam, I stayed in a working windmill built in 1862."
Bad conventional wisdom
"One of the first things people do is put up a website for their product or service. The biggest mistake they make is thinking people care about the company or the products. They don't care. This is counterintuitive because why would they be coming to your website if they didn't care about your products or services?
The truth is they are interested in solving a problem they're having. The websites end up looking like a brochure. Brochures have a specific use out in the physical world. They really don't belong on your website. A top quality Web design does make your company look bigger.
You should be thinking about what your visitor's concerns are and taking them on a journey to make a good decision about buying your product or service."
Content over design
"Spend less on the design and more on the content. That's the rule of thumb today."
Learn more about Brian Massey:
His book is at: