How to Drive More Sales by Writing Content for REAL Customers with Will Shultz

How I Built It
How I Built It
How to Drive More Sales by Writing Content for REAL Customers with Will Shultz

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We’ve been told for years that creating an “ideal customer avatar” is the best way to understand your audience. But the truth is that’s just guessing on your part. Do you know how you actually get to understand your customers? Have customers! Talk to them, and then write content for them. That’s what Will Shultz recommends. And as a Sales and Marketing coach, he knows a thing or two.

Top Takeaways:

  • You need someone in-house to make your content. That’s how you’ll create great content that shows a deep understanding of your customer and their journey.
  • If you’re having trouble coming up with content, take what you’re creating for a specific client and generalize it. That way, you’ve written for someone. Chances are there are similar folks out there.
  • Don’t worry about giving too much away for free. You differentiate yourself by becoming trusted and valued. You do that by showing people you deeply understand their problems.

Show Notes:


Joe Casabona: Did you know that you could get even longer interviews with some of the most successful creators? You can with How I Built It Pro.

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You can join How I Built It Pro today for just five bucks a month, or 50 bucks a year. Sign up over at or use the link in your podcast app.

We’ve been told for years that creating an ideal customer avatar is the best way to understand your audience. But the truth is that just guessing. I mean, how many times has your ideal customer avatar looked just like you? Do you know how to actually understand your customers? You should have customers, talk to them, then write content for them. That’s what Will Schultz recommends. And as a sales and marketing coach, he knows a thing or two.

So, for this episode, I want you to look for these nuggets of information from Will: about having someone in-house to make your content, about taking content you’ve created for a specific client and generalizing it, and to not worry too much about giving things away for free.

In How I Built It Pro, we talk about doing free events that lead to paid coaching and how to handle these free sessions. I found that super helpful because I’m doing that right now with my own podcasting business. So I hope you enjoy this episode. You can find all of the show notes over at

Thanks to the sponsors for this episode, Ahrefs, Paid Memberships Pro, and LearnDash. You’ll hear about them later on. But for now, let’s get to the intro and then the interview.

[00:02:26] <music>

Intro: Hey everybody, and welcome to How I Built It, the podcast where you get free coaching calls from successful creators. Each week you get actionable advice on how you can build a better content business to increase revenue and establish yourself as an authority. I’m your host Joe Casabona. Now let’s get to it.

[00:02:49] <music>

Joe Casabona: All right, welcome, welcome to Episode 297 of How I Built It. I’m really excited. It’s 2023 as you listen to this. Though if I’m going to break the fourth wall immediately, it is 2022 as we record this. It’s right at the end of cyber week. I don’t know what cyber week is. That start on… It feels like it starts in October now. But anyway, my guest is Will Schultz. He’s a sales and marketing coach. Will, how are you today?

Will Schultz: I’m Well, Joe. Thanks for having me, man.

Joe Casabona: My pleasure. Thanks for coming on the show. I’m excited to start the year off like this, talking about how small businesses can use content to drive more sales and growth. I think it’s a trap I definitely got stuck in especially in 2020 when this thing happened, and we had probably more time on our hands was I was just pumping out content with no strategy. And it was very clear from like newsletter signups, I was getting none, or sales or anything, just pumping out as much content as possible is not the right approach.

Will Schultz: Right.

Joe Casabona: So I guess maybe the first thing that we can talk about here is, what is the right approach to creating content for the purpose of sales and marketing?

Will Schultz: It’s exceptionally tough for small businesses because, as I’m sure you intimately know, there are myriad of ways that you could go down the road of starting to dip your toes in marketing. I think we have more options now than ever. And the biggest mistake I see companies make is trusting someone outside of their organization to take hold of the ownership of marketing their company themselves, especially when they don’t necessarily understand what the service provider is actually doing for them all of the time.

The second biggest mistake I see people make is doing a lot of little things like dipping their toes in five or six different categories. I talk to a lot of small businesses in the US and the UK that are finally taking the plunge to recognize that if they want to be strong in making sales and marketing content, they need to own it themselves, and not just dip their toes in it, but hire somebody that owns it for them.

One of the common conversations that I have day in and day out with companies that are right between that one to $3 million in revenue every year is give me the competence to hire somebody that owns it for their organization. Hiring that first marketer, so to speak.

The way that I see companies get started with that, doing it the right way, is not by starting to make a blog or to think of this website that they’re going to have, that’s going to become this massive place that is going to be the central community for their space. But instead get exceptionally good at making sales content first that becomes marketing content after the fact.

What I mean by that is, it’s a heck of a lot easier to make a tool that you would use consistently within your sales process, something that you would send before your first meeting with someone that speaks to the specificity and the timeliness of what that meeting is going to be. And then ask yourself after the fact, how do I take this informational value that now I’m using consistently and make it publicly available on my website?

And that’s so much easier than going and making a marketing blog, fingers crossed, it’s gonna get traffic, and then figuring out now, how do I also use this in my sales process? If you hand a salesperson a blog they’ll have no idea how to take advantage of using the content. If you do it the other way, light bulbs go off.

Joe Casabona: Wow, I… That is like so much… You’re the first person… You know, I’ve been doing the show for like… this is the eighth year, and you’re the first person to position content creation this way. And I think it’s so smart because, you know, you hear like Amy Porterfield talks about your ideal customer avatar.

Will Schultz: Sure.

Joe Casabona: And that’s an idea that I feel like it’s well known at this point. But even when you make your ideal customer avatar, you’re just kind of making it up, right? “Oh, yeah, my ideal customer is a guy in his 30s, who maybe has a few kids, who wants to make money with this podcast.” I just described me.

But if you’re taking a concrete example, not even example, a concrete potential client or customer and you’re making something for them, you don’t need to like invent an ideal customer avatar. You now have someone who you feel is an ideal customer. I really like that. I think it makes great sense.

In my previous life, I was a software developer, that’s how we would develop software too. We wouldn’t… Well, some software developers will get mad at me for saying this. But the first thing you want to do is solve the problem and then you refactor and you generalize the code to make it pluggable in other places. But you shouldn’t try to over engineer at first. You should really make something concrete that you know works.

Will Schultz: That’s exactly right. Maybe to take that analogy back to sales marketing, it’s like, when in doubt, when you’re worried about potentially making something that will get caught in the land of marketing fluff or become a waste of time and sit on the shelf and collect dust, when in doubt, get more specific.

Even if you get down to the point of, “Okay, I don’t know what’s going to be most valuable for me to make this week or this month when it comes to marketing content,” look at your calendar. Like think of the meetings that you have coming up. Think of the person that you’re going to be networking with in one week or two weeks or a month from now, and go make the thing that’s only for them.

Because there’s nothing more fun than getting so good at making content for such a specific audience that it literally throws them off when they’re reading it because they feel so much like you’re only talking to them. And you would way rather have one piece of content that rings the bells of one or two people than the thing that gets lost in the noise of it all, that doesn’t resonate with anybody.

Joe Casabona: Yeah, absolutely. And then those people will become fans. You know, actually this morning I was listening to the latest episode of Upgrade, Upgrade for 38. I think it is. I’ll link to it in the show notes over But the host, Jason Snell, was talking about this piece of software that he loves. And he said, “I feel like it was made for me.” And then it turns out that the developer was using a lot of what Jason talked about in his workflows to build that app. It’s called Ferrite. It’s an incredibly popular audio editor for iPad. It’s maybe the only good one because like GarageBand is a hot mess.

And now Jason, who has a lot of influence in the Apple space and the iPad space, talks lovingly about that app, because specific use cases were in mind as that app was developed. Content the same way, right? If the person reading or listening, consuming your content feels like you are talking to them, they will immediately know, like, and trust you.

Will Schultz: Yeah, that’s exactly right. Think about that as an evolved difference from the archaic buyer’s personas to the point that you were making 10 years ago. Everyone’s sitting in a conference room like coming up with this ideal demographic and psychographic of who you want to go for.

Update that to “let’s go make one thing for one person that happens to be an amazing evangelist to hundreds of thousands of other people.” And all of a sudden, we’re going to have real momentum.

Joe Casabona: Yeah, for sure. Again, not to keep making this point, but buyer’s persona… Like you’re just guessing. Right? It’s like a business plan. Have you ever written a business plan?

Will Schultz: Yeah.

Joe Casabona: Like, “Where will you be in 10 years?” “I don’t freaking know.” “Well, do you want to sell your company?” “I want to make a thing. I want to make a thing and I want to make a business. That’s what I want to do. And if there’s a market for it in 10 years, great. And if there’s not, I’ll pivot.” It’s just like you’re guessing at that point.

Will Schultz: Exactly.

Joe Casabona: And so yeah, buyer’s personas are the same way. Again, we’re recording this… I guess it’s technically Giving Tuesday is what it’s been called. But, you know, in the WordPress space, at least, there are lots of websites that do these Mega Black Friday deals, right?

Will Schultz: Right.

Joe Casabona: Deals guides, right? It’s like, “I’ve compiled a list of every Black Friday deal for you and there’s like 350 of them.” And it’s basically like it could just be called, like, here’s all the affiliate programs I’m a part of. Like that’s what that list is really called.

I tried doing it. Never with 350. I don’t put that much effort into something like that. But you know, maybe a couple of dozen. And they’ve always performed terribly because that list is not going to show somebody who’s stumbled across this company for the first time why they should buy it. It’s basically just like, “I hope you click on my affiliate link first. Or last. However it works based on the affiliate program.

Whereas if you have content for ConvertKit is something I talk about all the time, right, I would want to start in like April making good content for ConvertKit because I know that my audience wants an easier way to build their email list and sell digital products and I think ConvertKit is great for that. And then in November, I could say, “Hey, by the way, you know how I’ve been telling you how great ConvertKit is, you can get like 30% off right now.

Will Schultz: Exactly.

Joe Casabona: And that’ll do way better than me just like making a list of every affiliate program I’m a part of.

Will Schultz: I’ve seen and read one too many affiliate links-stuffing articles in the last week of my life.

Joe Casabona: Yeah, exactly. And I’m like, “I don’t… why would I…” I don’t know. So maybe that’s just like a thorn in my side. But I’ve seen it happen too much and I’ve been burned by it in the past. It’s just not a good content strategy. It’s not good for your own content. It’s not a good use of your time. And I can’t imagine it’s making anybody a ton of money. It’s like a hope strategy.

Now to climb off my soapbox here, you mentioned the second biggest mistake is companies tried to do a lot of little things dipping their toes into five or six different categories. When you talk about categories, are you talking about like content types or platforms, or both?

Will Schultz: Yeah. When I say that I’m thinking more specifically about the categories of content that you’re making. For content to become extremely valuable to the point that you just made, you can’t just have the surface-level version of a lot of little things.

Like if you’re a company that does multiple things and you know that people are educating themselves trying to learn how to buy in that space online, rather than having like 20% of the buyer’s journey, 20% of the information that someone needs to make a purchasing decision of all of your categories, it makes infinitely more sense for you to have 100% of one of those things wrapped up.

This is, again, one of The most common mistakes that people make when they start making content is, I’m gonna go do like one or two things in each of the categories of all of the things I want to be an expert in. And all of a sudden, they become like this popery of a little bit of expertise. But when someone’s going through their own buyer’s journey, they don’t need a lot of little things from one thing and they don’t care about the things that you’re sort of an expert in elsewhere.

This is when you have to bring yourself back to like, how do people actually buy nowadays? And only focus on the one person you want to go make an amazing buying experience for first. And then drill down. Get as much information as you can to allow their buyer’s journey to be able to happen online. Like go make 80% of the information that somebody needs to make the purchasing decision in one space before you do a lot of little things at once.

Joe Casabona: I love that. Again, it really resonates with me. Because before May of last year, May 2022, I was doing that exact thing. I was like, “Oh, here’s a little bit about WordPress. Here’s a little about creating courses. Here’s a little bit about podcasting.” And in May I was just like, “You know what I’m going all in on podcasting.” A lot of people are already all in on online courses. I want to move out of the WordPress space, I think, I can help the most people in the podcasting space. And it was a bit of a long journey right long, relatively speaking on the internet.

But people after about six months or so of only hitting podcast content, people only know me as a podcast person now. Like somebody said, “Oh, I love your podcast.” And I was like, “Oh, yeah, How I Built It has been around for a while. I really love that show.” They’re like, “What? What’s How I Built It?” “I was talking about your podcasting podcast.” And that was super rewarding for me.

Will Schultz: Totally.

Joe Casabona: Yeah, like going deep. So let me ask you then, because I know I can hear the listeners saying, “When do I give too much away?” Because I think a lot of people are scared that if I tell you everything you need to do, if I take you through your whole journey, why would you buy from me? Why would you give me money if I’m giving it all away for free?”

Will Schultz: There’s a finer line, I would say, when you’re in the information space than when you are in a product or service space. But I challenge anybody that thinks there is too much free checking in their space. Because ultimately we’re all in the same business. We’re all sitting there trying to earn the trust of the people that are ideal fit: members, community members, like buyers.

And so the way that you become different in a world that is making more content than ever is you completely surprise people with how much you trust your value by leaving as much of it on the table as you can. To be clear, I’m not talking about gated versus non-gated content here. I don’t want to go down the rabbit hole. There’s times when it makes sense to have lead-capturing opportunities and to make things for pro members.

But in the same breath, if you have the chops to give value to folks, you will make a raving fan for the rest of their lives when you clearly don’t have a stake in the game on, I don’t know, seeing them as $1 amount or seeing them as something that becomes the snowball rolling down their hill.

And that’s when you become different to the, let’s face it, hundreds of other options that folks have in any space to go get the exact same information from somebody else. The buyers have the power now. At any time, they can hit the back button, go back to Google and go one option down. And they’re learning roughly the same information from somebody else. So to be different is to find a way to build the most trust.

Joe Casabona: Yeah, absolutely. I almost look at it like, “Here’s everything that I did to get where I am. Here’s how I’ve made this process repeatable. Why you should hire me or why you should buy my product is I will help you do that same thing.” I’ve demonstrated as a podcaster and a podcast coach and producer that I understand the space enough to not just tell you… I read a tweet a while ago that was like, “Here’s how you make a million dollars in 12 months.”

Will Schultz: Sure.

Joe Casabona: “Build something that solves a problem, sell it to people and then those people will sell it.” And I was like, “That is complete (bleep). Because you are like… First of all guy who tweeted it doesn’t even do that because he’s constantly tweeting about how he can help people. But if it was that easy, everybody would do it.

So my approach is not like, “Here’s exactly what you should do.” It’s, “Here’s what I’ve done. Here’s what I know works. If you hire me, I will work with you and learn about you and give you actionable results oriented advice, not just some generic prescription for that.” It was like really rah-rah on Twitter, but won’t work for most people.

Will Schultz: Yeah, exactly. You’re talking about a couple of things there too. One of the aspects of that is that’s the power of the story is people starting to almost root for the thing that you’re very open about that you’re not at this finished state yet. You’re just on your own journey. And people can get behind that extremely, extremely easily.

I think the other aspect of that is, our buyers, the world, your listeners are smarter than they’ve ever been. It’s not the 1960s anymore. It is time in the early 2000s. People can quickly identify the motives behind the noise out there. They know extremely easily what the intentions are, people… where they get their buck.

I think oftentimes when people go down the marketing route, they forget how smart the world is now at buying. Nobody wants to be sold to, nobody wants the wool pulled over their eyes. Everybody just wants to learn how to buy or learn how to be better. And if you can address that to your ideal fit. Again, you find your way out of the noise of not being this trusting source of information for them.

Joe Casabona: Right. That’s really the thing. You don’t want to be viewed as a grifter or a snake oil salesman, right?

Will Schultz: Yeah.

Joe Casabona: And it’s really easy. It’s really easy for people to figure that out now. Even Tim Ferriss, like super well-loved, I never got on The 4-Hour… I didn’t believe a word he wrote. Well, I didn’t believe most of what he wrote in The 4-Hour Workweek. I’m like, “This is all fanciful.”

But people got on his case a few years ago and people were like, “Tim, how are you so productive?” He’s like, “I meditate for two hours every morning.” And everybody was like, “Well, you don’t have kids or any other obligations.” I wake up at 5:30 just so I can drink some coffee before my children wake up. I can’t meditate for two hours. That’s a terrible productivity tip. So you’re right. People can definitely see through the BS a lot easier now. I really love this.

The other thing I want to really ask about here is platform. When you said people are dipping their toes into five or six different categories, I immediately went to everyone saying you got to be on TikTok now. I tried it. I’m never gonna use it. I just don’t trust the platform. It’s from a, I guess, geopolitical standpoint.

But I also don’t think that’s where my audience is. I don’t know how many like GenZers are ready to hire a podcast coach. So when it comes to platform, what’s your approach for that? Like how do you choose the platform? Do you need to be on every platform?

Will Schultz: This is a nuanced one because I think there’s a different answer, depending on who’s asking the question. But I’ll say this. First and foremost, it’s probably not the first work most folks should be doing is finding their brand awareness location online. And that’s just by nature of solving problems that are further down your funnel, further down your buyer’s process first.

This is oversimplified. But it’s like, why would you want a website that converts more leads if you’re not happy with how your sales process converts? Why would you put a bunch of people into a broken thing? Fix that first and then work yourself backward.

And then fix your website before you try to get more people onto your website. Make sure that you’re happy with the conversion rate of the site itself. If those things are fixed, if you feel like you have this well-oiled machine of a process is like all I got to do is get more people to my site and then everything else takes care of itself, when you’re thinking about the platform that you have to own first, this is gonna sound simple, but you have to be where your audience is.

And I push people to once they find their fit between the seven or eight big names out there right now, do one at a time, extremely, extremely well. This is again in the toe-dipping world. But I see people make a blog article on their website, the top five, blah, blah, blah, and then they push that to as many places as they can. And they feel like they don’t get any sort of traction on any of the platforms and they’re like banging their head against the wall being like, “I’ve done this for six months, I’ve done this for a year now and I’m getting two or three likes from my aunt.”

Where you want to go is find your space, become the owner of that space and go deep with that community in one place at one time. For me it’s LinkedIn. I think for many people, if you’re a product first person, it’s probably Instagram. And then the easy caveat after that would be TikTok is an easy yes and, an easy second base for many of those product offering spots.

But b2b, I think it’s pretty clean. The vast majority of b2b should be on LinkedIn, owning a community there, starting to create a following of raving fans that trust your thought leadership before you’re doing anything else. Everything else is going to be kicking stones down the street with no snowball rolling. It’ll be a waste of time.

[00:26:21] <music>

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[00:29:59] <music>

Joe Casabona: I’ve started really putting effort into LinkedIn and it’s paying off. I’ve gained like 200 new followers in a couple of weeks, which is more than I could say for any Twitter thing. Now, of course, when I’m posting on LinkedIn, I do like the long form whatever. Or I’ll do like a carousel. Twitter is the easy yes and there.

Again, I slept on LinkedIn for a long time. I was just like, Whatever, it’s like a place to find a job. But it’s really a place for thought leadership. People my age, I’m 37, my age or older, who, again, probably have a little extra spending money who are willing to hire a coach or go into a cohort program. So I think that’s absolutely right. So I love what you said there.

But the thing that you mentioned, why would you get a bunch of leads into a broken sales funnel is the right way to think about it. I think everybody thinks, “Well, I just gotta get…” I mean, I thought about this until like, again, like April of last year. I just need more email subscribers but I wasn’t warming them up. I’ve since learned a lot.

Have you heard of Robin Kennedy?

Will Schultz: I have, yeah.

Joe Casabona: I got their email course. I took the first class and I was like, “Well, this is all I need.” Where it’s like you have the welcome sequence and then you have the soft sell, and then you have the… they have a bunch of fun, cute names for it. But you really want to push the value upfront and then hit them with the sale. And then people are gonna trust you, right?

Now my sales sequence is a lot smarter. I asked, “Hey, where are you in your podcast journey?” And then I send them a sequence based on that, right? Because if you’ve pod faded, you probably don’t want how to start a podcast. If you’re looking to monetize, you definitely don’t want “How to start a podcast.” But if you haven’t started, I’m not going to tell you about growth strategies. You’re really worried about starting a podcast right now.

Will Schultz: Right.

Joe Casabona: And then I have the sale, and then I put them into my weekly podcast tips, which is evergreen. And it takes them on a little journey. So getting that right is super important. You got to experiment a little bit to figure it out. But if you’re taking the approach that Will said here about looking at an actual potential customer or current customer and writing for them, I think you’ll be in a lot better spot. I have a lot to think about with how I’m going to restructure my content now.

Let’s see. We’ve been talking for quite a bit at this point. I do want to ask you about getting started. Let’s say we’re talking to me in January 2022, where I had maybe one or two podcast coaching clients, but I wasn’t getting the leads I wanted. How do I come up with content when I don’t necessarily have that specific person to think about?

Will Schultz: Oh, that’s a great question. So this one is going to sting a little bit. But I think there are some prerequisites that folks need to drill down before they should invest the time or the money or both in starting to establish themselves as something online. And you need to know a couple of things before it makes sense to do this.

You need to know exactly what it is that you sell. And for small businesses, we know this more than most, that changes. That transforms pretty… For some it’s just incremental, for others is drastic. And there’s nothing that hurts more than thinking you know where your niche is, what you sell, and focusing on that for six months and then having to pivot and realizing you have all of this old content, all of this old work that all of a sudden becomes completely obsolete.

The thing that’s married to this is, not only do you need to know what you sell, you need to know who you sell it to. Because if you go make content not knowing exactly who the audience is, it becomes very, very difficult to make something that’s going to resonate with anybody. Or you’re just going to get lucky. And that’s rare. So it hurts.

But you need to find ways to refine that first, before you feel like it’s time to go dive headfirst into cutting out a slice of the pie of the internet or of social media, or of an industry that’s going to become yours. Because it’s gonna be very easy to have to change that and then have all of this wasted, rented space, go sour for you.

And how you do that looks different for every business, right? You have to talk to people. You have to sell things and have it blow up in your face. You have to go through all of the growing pains that small businesses do between year one and year three before they can say like, “We’re just now coming into our own. Now we know who we are, we know what our niche is.”

I don’t think there’s much of a secret sauce to being able to do that other than getting a base hit every day and having that conversation, selling that offering, seeing what works until you’re 80% or 90% of the way crystallized into who your business is and who it’s for.

Joe Casabona: Yeah. Well, really felt like you were talking to like April 2022 me. Because I didn’t really know what I was selling. I didn’t really understand my audience. I think this is really, I think, a course creator’s problem. We’re not talking specifically about course creators, but this is how I would approach course creation too. “Oh, I know how to do something, so I’m going to make a course on it.” That’s a terrible way to make a course.

I can tell you from experience, most of the courses I’ve made did poorly until I learned, “Oh, people want to know this and they trust me as an authority in this space. So this is the course I should make.” So knowing exactly what you sell and who you sell it to, there’s no shortcut for that right there. It takes time.

Some of the best advice that I didn’t take because I was like 22, and full of hubris was from a family friend of ours who was getting ready to graduate college and he said, “Look, Joe, I know you want to start your own business, and that’s great. You have the ability to do that and you’ve done it all through high school and college. But the first thing you need to do after graduation is get a job in the area that you want to start your business because then you’re gonna learn what the industry standards are, you’re gonna meet people in your space, you’re gonna learn about your potential customers.”

And I was like, “Man, I’ve been making websites since 14, I don’t need all that.” And then at like 26 I got a job at the University of Scranton in the IT department. And I was like, “I just basically put myself like four years behind.”

Will Schultz: Sure.

Joe Casabona: So I think knowing and understanding is not something that you can short-circuit. So I really like what you said there. I will say, I had Dickie Bush on the show last year, and he said, “If you don’t know who to write to or what to write, write to yourself from two years ago.” I think that’s good if you’re making content in the niche you want to be in, which is the case for me.

But if you’re not in a position to dog food your own product, then that’s not the best advice. Then you actually have to talk to people who… then you need to talk to people who you think would benefit from your product or service.

Will Schultz: Yeah. From what I’ve seen, people… it’s not the flashiest thing to go say it’s time to do that. Like I think it’s almost more exciting to wake up and be like, “I’m going to open a new social media account for my business that I’m running.” Those things feel sexier. They feel more… almost like fun… like more fun work.

This is the thing that I think a lot of small businesses get wrong is they start at the top and try and go down. To the point I made earlier, if you have a problem that’s further downstream and a problem that’s further upstream, you need to solve the one that’s downstream or first, not just for the logic of like that’s where you’re pushing people but also because you’re going to learn so much more about who your company is and about who your customer is when you solve the thing that’s closer to the money, that’s closer to the purchase.

And it’s way less sexy of work oftentimes. It’s not the fun, sit on your computer and tweak your homepage kind of stuff. It’s the stuff where you are like calling people or talking to existing clients or in the weeds learning much more about the actuality and not just the perception of social media, the perception of the top end of your website. I think that’s a hard pill to swallow for people. I think it’s a lot less fun.

But if I could beat the drum of one thing it’s for small businesses to start at the bottom of their problems and work themselves out of those things. Because all of the lessons you’ll learn in your sales process or in your customer delivery process will make sure that you have the bowling alley bumpers up for how to actually go do quote-unquote, “marketing the right way” because you just know who your customers are, you know what the sales process is talking about far more.

And that’s the pill that I have to help folks swallow when they’re coming to me saying, “I just need more leads.” And I have to try and help them say, “Yes and unfortunately, there’s more here. There’s more issues that you just need.”

Joe Casabona: Right, right. Yes, you need more leads. But you’re not going to get those leads if you don’t know how to talk to the people you want to serve. Right? What you said there reminds me of How I Met Your Mother, the episode where Ted starts his architecture firm-

Will Schultz: Oh, yeah.

Joe Casabona: …and he only spends like a week picking out the company pen because he’s afraid to pick up the phone and call potential clients.

Will Shultz: Exactly.

Joe Casabona: That’s really what it is. I saw a tweet yesterday that said like, “Nobody cares about your logo. They care about what you can do for them.” And it’s very similar. You need a good foundation. The color of your door or your roof on your house doesn’t matter if the foundation of your house is made out of toothpicks. It’s all gonna crumble anyway.

Will Schultz: That’s exactly right. And people that walk through that beautiful door are going to be pretty disappointed at the interior of the house once they get inside.

Joe Casabona: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. And that erodes trust. This is really what good content and good sales and marketing is about, like you said earlier. It’s about trust. And if people don’t trust you, then you won’t be able to help them.

Will Schultz: Right.

Joe Casabona: I love that this has been such a great conversation. Now, Will is a sales and marketing coach. I think this is something that… we’re definitely going to touch on more, Will, your approach in How I Built It Pro, which you can get for $5 a month or 50 bucks a year over at That’s ad-free extended episodes.

But what I want to touch on here as like a little teaser, a little appetizer for the pro show is something I feel happens a lot is someone does something once, and then they think they can be a coach about it.

Will Schultz: Sure.

Joe Casabona: And for a long time I refused to give myself the moniker of coach because I’m just doing my own thing over here. I can’t coach people. And then somebody who I deeply respect, who is a very good coach said, “Joe, you’re a teacher. You’ve been doing this for 10 years. You’ve tried a bunch of things, you failed and you’ve been successful. You didn’t just launch a podcast and get lucky. You can be a coach.” And that’s really what helped it for me. Or what helped me understand, I should say.

So I guess when did you realize that you could be a coach, that you’re a coach, and what do you think the distinction is between coach and consultant? I didn’t set you up for any of these questions-

Will Schultz: No, it’s a great one.

Joe Casabona: And I think they’re good to address. They’re pretty subjective questions. So I’m interested in your take.

Will Schultz: I’m gonna pivot a little bit and say, when you’re vetting a coach in your life, you need to look for someone that, yes, has experience but also just has depth in one or two things. My journey on becoming a coach for businesses that wanted to start to create content was not only coming from a sales world and being a salesperson myself but being a sales process creator, first and foremost. And I think that’s so much better than the alternative of someone coming in like working with a marketing agency to help blast them up a bunch of blog content essentially.

So when you’re finding the coach for what you need, you need to get really specific on what it is that you need and find somebody that is going to go deep with you on one thing first.

The difference between a coach and a consultant in my world anyway, because this can get semantic, is everybody, no matter where they’re at at their game has a coach. Because you can always exercise and get better. You look at Tiger Woods, you look at LeBron James, you look at the titans of industry, you look at the CEOs that are running billion-dollar organizations need someone helping them exercise all of the things that they need to be exceptional at in their lives versus a consultant that I think comes in and helps to propose solution sets.

So to make this an analogy, I think a consultant is going to come in and show you your trade-offs of making decisions of which path you should be going down. And they’re going to PowerPoint you to death, by the way. A coach is someone that’s in the car with you, getting you better at driving yourself.

One more analogy I’ll share is like giving somebody a fish versus teaching them how to fish themselves I think can oftentimes be that fine line. What a consultant is often doing is you’re outsourcing a problem so that you get a solution from someone that doesn’t have to go into your world and do it for you.

A coach is sitting there, asking the right questions, building themselves almost out of needing to be in the room for you in the future to be able to solve those things yourself and arming you with a fishing rod to get better at it yourself.

Joe Casabona: I love that. And you’re right. A consultant, like you said, is going to give you, “Well, based on what we know and what we’ve seen, here’s how you should do this thing,” right? But a coach is like this objective voice who’s with you, who’s saying like… I immediately think of Metallica. St. Anger was like the worst thing they’ve ever done, right? That album that came out in 2003, it was terrible.

And then they hired Rick Ross to produce their Death Magnetic album. I believe it was Rick Ross. And all along the way they would talk about writing a song or putting together a composition and he would say, “Is this what you would have done on Ride the Lightning? Is this what you would have done on Ride the Lightning?” And they’d be like, “Well, no.” He’s like, “Well, then you gotta go back to the drawing board.”

And like having a coach, right, that’s exactly what he’s doing. Right? A consultant would just be like, “This is what’s popular in music today.” And Rick Ross is like, “This is what Metallica fans want from you.” I think that’s such a great distinction.

I guess to kind of answer this overall question like, when are you the listener ready to be a coach, I think it’s when you’re ready to help somebody get deep and solve a problem and really understand how they can solve that problem. Right?

Will Schultz: That’s exactly right, you become like a conduit for them self-discovering on their own, for them becoming the self-solution. The coach has to find their niche, they have to know the muscle group that they’re great at training in, and then they have to get really good at showing people when it makes sense to work that muscle group themselves.

Because I think 90% of the people that I end up talking to are not ready to work with any coach or at least with me—I’m not the muscle group that needs flexing, so to speak. And so great coaches are those that really only can work with 1% of the population on the thing that they’re exceptional at. Asking the right questions around helping folks to work that muscle group for themselves or for their business and become exceptional at it all on their own, so that one day the coach can ask their clients like, “Hey, if I wasn’t in the room today, how different would this have gone?” And they go, “Oh, my gosh, like, I’m self-sufficient here. I’m capable.” And then there’s a silent high five and the coach just walks out.

Joe Casabona: That’s awesome. That’s great. I mean, it’s like in baseball, right? You don’t just have the manager. You have the bench coach, the hitting coach, the pitching coach, you have the trainer in the backroom. So you gotta figure out the muscle group. I really like that.

Well, this has been a great conversation. Like I said, in How I Built Pro, we’re going to talk even more about Will’s approach to coaching and these consulting sessions that he runs. But Will, I want to thank you for your time today. I really appreciate you coming on the show.

Will Schultz: Yeah, you got it, man. You have a great community of listeners here, a bunch of smart folks, and I appreciate what you’re doing for them.

Joe Casabona: Thank you. Thank you. I really appreciate that. If people want to learn more about you, where can they go?

Will Schultz: I work for a company called Impact. We’re a coaching and training company that helps organizations own their own sales and marketing, not have outside reliance on becoming the most trusted educators in their space. You can go to and learn more about the work that we do. And if all else fails, sign up for some free check in there and check out of course.

Joe Casabona: Love it. Love it. I will link to that and everything we talked about over in the show notes over at You’ll also be able to become a pro member over there as well.

I want to give a quick shout-out to my friend Jess Palmeri who connected us she also works at Impact. So Thanks, Jess, for being the conduit for this great conversation. And Will, thanks so much for your time today.

Will Schultz: You got it, Joe. Have a great day, man.

Joe Casabona: Thanks to everybody listening. I really appreciate you and your time. Thanks to this week’s sponsors: Ahrefs, Paid Memberships Pro, and LearnDash. If you want to learn more about them, you can find them over at the show notes, Thanks so much for listening. And until next time, get out there and build something.

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