Running Virtual Events with Dave Shrein

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Virtual summits are all the rage these days, but my friend Dave Shrein was doing them before they were cool. I participated in his event last year for his agency Campaign Donut, and I thought it was so well-run, I had to have him on the show to talk about it. Dave’s story is great and he offers lots of actionable advice. It’s always great when I can take something from an interview and implement it, and I did just that with Dave.

Show Notes


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Intro: Hey, everybody, and welcome to Episode 191 of How I Built It. This episode is brought to you by Yes Plz Coffee, ExpressVPN, and iThemes. Now let me tell you, virtual summit are all the rage these days, but my friend Dave Shrein was doing them before they were cool. I participated in his event last year for his agency Campaign Donut and I thought it was so well run that I had to have him on the show to talk about it. Dave’s story is great, and he offers a lot of actionable advice. It’s always great when I can take something from the interview and implement it before the episode goes live. And I did just that with Dave and his concept on pillar pages. So let’s jump into that now.


But first, a word from our first sponsor.


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And now back to the show.


Joe: Hey everybody, welcome to another episode of How I Built It the podcast that asks, How did you build that? Today my guest is Dave Shrein. He is the founder of Campaign Donut and we’re gonna be talking all about content marketing and virtual summits today. Dave, how are you?


Dave: Joe, man, I’m doing fantastic because I am here with you. I feel like you are my spirit animal. I found you on Twitter over a year ago, and I was like, “Baseball, check. Tech, check. Online business, check. Entrepreneur, check.” Even though this is the first time wherever chatting in real-time, it feels like we’re just picking up where we left off. Thanks so much for having me, man. I’m very excited to spend a little bit of time with you and talk about something that I know we both really enjoy.


Joe: Yeah, for sure. Awesome. Well, thank you for the kind words, first of all. I’m excited to have you on as well. As we record this, it is opening day for baseball, which is why I’m sporting my Yankee shirt. You are in Arizona. Is that right?


Dave: I am in Arizona. D Backs 2020.


Joe: All right, very nice. I guess I should have some bad blood from the 2001 world…


Dave: I was gonna say do you want to relive 2001 real quick. We can if you want.


Joe: I’d rather not. Though, given the choice between 2001 and 2003, I would pick 2001.


Dave: I know.


Joe: Awesome. I’m excited. This whole season is dedicated to content marketing, growing your business through content. And I think you do that super well. So I’m excited to have you on the show. Why don’t we start off with a little bit about who you are and what you do?


Dave: Happy to share. I got my start in content marketing, digital marketing overall, marketing in general, back in 2009. I was a musician and I loved impacting the world with my music. When I found that I needed to take my brand, the company that I was working for but also my individual band online, it was very interesting, because I saw that the impact I could have on people with words, and copywriting, and imagery was a lot greater than I was having with my music. And over the course of time, I started getting more and more interested into influencing people for positive change using words and strategic communication. That’s essentially what I got into.


In 2014, I got let go from a job that I loved that I had really built up and learned and experimented and grew this business through marketing channels. And I said, “You know what, I feel like I can make a bigger difference creating content for businesses that actually want to drive change in people’s lives. So I’m going to give a go at this.” So I started my own agency. That agency is 100% dedicated to growing eCommerce businesses through digital marketing.


Over the course of time, Joe, I found that a lot of people that I was interacting with, they had great ideas, they had great energy and motivation, but they had a really hard time organizing their ideas, and then putting those ideas into action. They would have a great workbook full of “hey, here’s some things that we can do,” but the action that they would take was minimal. So Campaign Donut started as a result of, “Okay, how do I help people organize their content, help them move a campaign from start to crossing the finish line, and they can actually experience conversion? Whatever that is for that particular campaign?”


So Campaign Donut is my software application that’s really less about software and it’s more about empowering people to create content marketing campaigns that convert for their business. I’m really not into a lot of opinion; I’m into conversions. So I really work hard to tell people, “This is what works. Do it the way I tell you to do it, then make it your own, adopt it, adapt it, and put it into play for your business.” So maybe that’s a little bit more than you wanted, but that’s really how we got to where we are today.


Joe: No, that’s perfect, because I think it gives a nice overview of exactly what you do. I know that I am sometimes…I’ve gotten a lot better I think. Since we’ve come into each other’s orbits, you’ve probably seen a lot more consistency from me than I’ve been in the past with content, especially. But I was always a very field of dreams kind of guy. Like, if I build it, they will come. And that’s just not the case anymore.


I’m a software developer by trade. I have a master’s in software engineering. So I just thought, “Oh, well, if I build something better, then people will get it because it’s better.” That’s a thought that the opposite happened time and time again. I feel like I’ve gotten better at that. But it’s still hard putting a campaign together and seeing actionable results, because people hope to get those results quickly, and they don’t necessarily.


Why don’t we talk a little bit about putting a campaign together? Because I suspect this is the content marketing side of it. Let’s say I’m selling some widget…I’m putting you on the spot here by the way. We didn’t talk about this beforehand.


Dave: It’s all good.


Joe: This is a good thought exercise.


Dave: Let’s do it.


Joe: I’m very much like kind of learn in the open kind of person. So let’s say I’m selling some widget—if you need a concrete example, I can give you one—what goes into putting a campaign together.


Dave: The first thing is you’ve got to believe that what it is you’re selling will change somebody’s life. If you don’t believe that, you shouldn’t be selling it. And I’ll tell you why it’s essential to believe that. Because believing that it will change somebody’s life will cause you to believe that it will sell. If you just put the right words together in front of the right audience at the right time for the right reasons, marketing, it will sell. You have to be certain that it will sell because if you’re not certain that it will sell you will not invest in it. And if you’re not willing to invest in it, time or money, then you’ve already killed any momentum that you could possibly have right from the get-go. So the first piece is you’ve got to believe in what it is you’re doing and that widget will actually make somebody’s life better.


One of the values that drives me is I invest in outcomes that I may never see. So there’s a lot of people who my work impacts and touches. I don’t know their names, I’ll never see them face to face. But I believe that what it is I do for my clients through my agency, and what it is we do at Campaign Donut will actually create a preferred transformation on the other end. So that’s the first part.


But once you get past the touchy-feely as it is, it’s super essential. Once you get past that, it really comes down to identifying, “Okay, am I trying to reach brand new people who don’t know who I am, don’t give a rip about what I do, or am I trying to connect with people who are familiar with me, who dig what I do, but haven’t really made that jump from interested to bought in?” And by bought in I mean, their money. They haven’t given you their money.


And let’s be honest, if you’re not going after the money, you’re just in it as a hobby. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But be honest with yourself. If you’re in it as a hobby, don’t expect to make money. If you’re in it for business, you’ve got to have that bigger “I believe what I do will transform people’s lives.” As long as that’s there, now you’ve got to be in it for the money. And that’s the conversion that we’re ultimately after.


So let’s say that you’re looking to get your product, get your service out in front of brand new people. This is really where content marketing shines. Content Marketing is also fantastic for marketing to your list directly people who know you, like you, love you, trust you. But let’s say you’re trying to get it out in front of people who have no idea who you are. The first thing that you want to start with is identifying that avatar. There’s lots of podcasts out there, there’s lots of resources talking about how to help you identify your ideal client. So we’re not going to dive into that. I’m going to assume that you’re doing the work.


The next piece is, what problem can you solve of theirs? A lot of times, Joe, this starts off for us in saying, well, what’s the problem? Where do we have potential in search engine results to reach people? And it all starts with what HubSpot coined as the pillar page. Now, HubSpot is not the maker of the concept of the pillar page, but they coined that term. It’s a really great term to lean on, because it truly is the pillar of where your campaign begins. So without getting too far into depth of SEO, you want to use a tool like a Moz or an Ahrefs. You want to work with someone who knows what they’re doing to identify a high volume search, meaning your people are searching for this term, but low competition, meaning there’s not a lot of people talking about this specific term, this particular sets of terms.


When you identify that, you probably want about 15 to 20 terms that are synonyms for that. You write an epic piece of content 6,000 to 9,000 words, and you cover every single aspect of that topic. Everything you can think of. You build up objections, you knock down those objections. You think of questions, you answer those questions. You do everything you can.


To folks listening right now, I want you to think of your own behavior. When you’re trying to learn something and you start searching on Google, do you like looking at the article that is 200 words and kind of answers a little specific question? Or do you like looking at the article that’s comprehensive and answers every question that you have on the topic? I’m gonna let you answer that. But I think I know what your answer would be. That’s what you want to create.


And here’s why that’s important, Joe. Because your campaign begins by communicating authority and grabbing an email address from somebody who has no idea who you are, but trusts you because they just read the most epic piece of content in their life, and they were able to move forward for the next 15 minutes, next 15 days in what it is they’re trying to build. And now you’ve got that email address. And your content marketing campaign starts with that pillar piece. And now it goes into getting them into your orbit, getting them into your sphere, and creating podcasts that you can then email them and say, “Check out this podcast on this topic.”


You can then send content marketing emails saying, “I’ve got a YouTube video. If you’re interested in this topic, go check out this YouTube video.” And all of a sudden, you are marketing without saying, “Buy my stuff. Buy my stuff. Buy my stuff.” But you’re saying “buy my stuff” by saying, “Hey, let me answer this other question for you. Hey, let me talk to you a little bit more about this. Hey, you got 50% of the way but let me tell you where people just like you find themselves stuck and how you can push yourself across that finish line the other 50% of the way.”


That’s a down and dirty content marketing example if you’re trying to market to somebody that gives no rip about you. That’s a really powerful thing, Joe. You’ve got to believe that nobody cares about anything that you’re doing because it puts you at a magnificent spot to begin. You can ask the question, how can I compel them to care? What do I need to change about what I’m doing to force somebody to care about this?” That’s really probably the most fundamental thing that I’ve learned in content marketing is asking that question, how can I compel someone to care? So that’s a down and dirty. I’m happy to go into any specifics of those in more detail or elaborate on anything, but I think that gives you a snapshot in about four minutes of where you can start with this content marketing journey.


Joe: Yeah, absolutely. I just took a ton of notes. I’ll release those notes on the episode page over How I Built It. But the very first thing he said, you need to believe you’re changing someone’s life. That’s so interesting, because my friend Brian Richards, in my mastermind group, also just said this to me. Because I built out a landing page for my podcasting course and it was like, “Here’s all the stuff in it. It’s great. You should take it.” But I didn’t believe I was changing somebody’s life. I mean, at least the copy didn’t communicate that.


So just to kind of recap what you said, you need to believe in what you’re doing that it’s going to change someone’s life because then you’ll invest in it. Identify your ideal customer. Avatar is how I’ve heard it. I’ll link to a resource. Amy Porterfield talks about that all the time. So I think she has a podcast episode dedicated to that. Then the pillar page. This is the first time I’ve heard of the pillar page. But identify a high ranking search term without a lot of results. I’ll just pick Ahrefs because they have been a former sponsor of the show. I’ve used that tool, so I know it. But that’s a great tool to kind of just search for.


Again, if it’s me with my podcast, maybe it’s how to make money with podcasting, though that probably talks to death, right?


Dave: You know what? I’ll pop in real quick. We did a webinar. It’s not even a webinar, man. We don’t sell nothing. It’s really interactive. We did a workshop for SEO going from 50 to 5,000 impressions every single day. And that’s really possible. The reason why we went with that title is because that’s what we’ve experienced multiple times with our clients. I can tell you exactly what you need to do to go from 50 impressions. That means your website, your page is showing up 50 times in search on a day to five…Excuse me.


The reason I went with that title is because we’ve done that time and time again. And what I show you is exactly how you can take your web page, that specific pillar page content, and have it show up not just 50, but 5000 times every day in searches that are relevant to it. I’ll give you the link to that. If folks want to check it out, I don’t hold anything back in that. There’s nothing like, “Oh, I’ll give you 50%, then you have to buy the other piece.” It’s everything. It’s flat out. These pieces that we do on my agency side, we charge between $2,,500, $4,500 for them. And the reason why people pay it is because it works. It works. So I’ll give you the link so folks can check that out if they’d like. Sorry to interrupt you.


Joe: No, no, no, I’m glad you did, because that’s definitely something I’m gonna watch, too. I struggled so much with SEO, even though I put a bunch of content out there. And something that struck me was the 6,000 to 9,000 words. I generally try to keep my content pithy, under 1,000 words, and maybe that’s fine for a blog post, right. But it seems like for this pillar page, you need not necessarily a wall of text, right? Like you want to break it up with headings and images. But you want all of that text on the page so that people have a single resource for the features, what they’re looking for, how it will change their life, their objections, things like that, right?


Dave: Yeah, absolutely. You’re already way ahead of the game with the pieces that you’ve got that are between 500 and 1,500 words, even up to 2,500 words. HubSpot actually coined a term for these pieces. So you’ve already done a lot of work that folks after they write their pillar page, they don’t go into. It’s called creating a cluster page. The idea here is if you think about a pillar page, it is the hub. It is at the center of the diagram, if you picture that as a circle.


Then these cluster pages, they go into greater depth on individual subjects that you may touch on in the pillar page but then need more extrapolation, need more detail on a spin-off cluster page. So if you’ve got the circle of your pillar page at the center, then outside of that circle, you’ve got all these lines, these spider legs spinning off and connected to other circles. Those are the cluster pages.


So a great pillar page title would be—I wouldn’t do this one because it would be high competition. But I’ll just give an example—how to create a content marketing campaign. Inside of that, you’re going to talk about blogs, you’re going to talk about SEO, you’re going to talk about YouTube, you’re going to talk about email. But I’m not going to dive into email marketing 6,000, 9,000 words. I’m probably going to spend about 500 to 800 words on email marketing. But then I’m going to spin off to another article that says, “If you want to learn more about how email marketing picks up, where content marketing leaves off, and how to actually incorporate content marketing into your email, click here.” And then you go to that article that’s between 500 and say 2,500 words.


That really builds the authority not only of the page, that pillar page itself, but it also builds the backlinking authority of your own website. And it gives people more content to link out to. So you’ve done a great job. I love your content. I like your copywriting a lot. I love the landing pages you put together. Man, I’ll tell you what, if you implement that pillar page concept with high search volume, low competition keywords, dude, you’re gonna see changes in your traffic through Google Webmasters.


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And now back to the show.


Joe: Somebody reached out to me very recently, and we’re like, “How do you stay consistent? How do you keep putting out content? When do you do that works for you?” And I’m like, “I see some people join my mailing list every day but I don’t know how well it’s working for me.” So I’m definitely going to watch this workshop.


Dave: Workshop, bro.


Joe: Workshop. And I’m going to encourage everybody else to do that too. And I will definitely be building a pillar page by the time this episode comes out. This is great. You’ve given us a nice blueprint for our pillar page in starting the campaign. Something else that you’ve been doing, or been at least thinking about, I know you’ve done at least one, are these virtual summits. I can say confidently that you were doing these before the pandemic hit. You did one back in October of 2019. So tell me a little bit about these virtual summits. Why you started doing them and what they do for you.


Dave: So the big deal with the virtual summit…I’ll share some of the things that are just true and then I’ll talk a little bit more about my experience and bring a broader perspective for folks who might be considering them or may want to participate in one. The virtual summit came into popularity as a great way to build a list. And really, I am results-oriented. I am goal-oriented. I don’t do stuff just because I feel like I want to do it. No, that’s not true. I’ll tell you something that I’m going to do just because I feel like doing it, but it’s a personal deal.


I love baseball. I love baseball cards. My dad loves baseball, loves baseball cards. Me and my dad bonded when I was a kid over baseball cards. Now, I haven’t collected aggressively in decades, but I have gotten into opening up packs. And I said, “You know what, I’m going to do a little podcast with my dad called packs with pops. And it’s just going to be me and my dad open up baseball card packs, talking about memories of the players, memories of the cards, my dad sharing growing up around the Yankees down at spring training and Florida. We’ll talk about that.”


But other than that, I’m results-oriented. I’ve got to have a goal. And I’m not going to do something just because it feels like, “Oh, yeah, I should do this.” How is it going to help me make money, support my employees’ pay, for my employees, and bring money home to my family, help me achieve the goals that I have? So the summit was a great way to introduce the Campaign Donut brand to the world and it was a great way to begin building my list.


I’ve learned a lot doing these virtual events. Number one, entrepreneur math is super sexy, but it rarely pans out. So inside your brain, you’ve got this math. If you’ve ever tried to create a course, which Joe I know the people listening, we’ve got a great deal of people who have tried to create courses, you do this entrepreneur as well. I put it together, and I charged $97 for it and I sell it to 500 people, that’s going to be…what? $50,000 Oh, I can rem…And you start doing all this crazy math. Then it launches and you get disappointed.


Well, that happens to me, too. So I’ve surrounded myself with people that try to help me be a little bit more realistic. I had a goal of creating a list of 5,000 people by the time Campaign Donut launches. I saw a virtual summit as a great way to introduce the brand to the world and also begin to network with some people like yourself who I know have got their stuff together when it comes to the different topics that they’re experts on. So I went out and I just started looking around.


Here’s the problem with summits. The problem is that people have figured out that they are glorified podcasts, and that they are meant to build a list and that they are meant to sell a replay. So folks have figured that out. So I thought to myself, “Okay, I want to create something that’s not a glorified podcast, I want to create something that has the real-life interactive aspect to it, the relationship piece, but is also accessible. Because that’s the other thing. You feel like, “Shoot, I can’t dedicate two days of my life to watch in an online summit of people talking on Zoom.”


So what I did was I said, “Okay, I’m going to do a mixture of presentations. Some would be like what Joe submitted. And that’s going to be an actual workshop presentation. It was great, man. I loved going through it. I really enjoyed everything from start to finish. And then some of them were going to be interviews. And these interviews would be more podcast style, but we’re going to have interactive screens throughout the entire thing.


So putting that content together really challenged me to get out of my bubble and meet a lot of people as the organizer. But it also gave me a lot of opportunity to take what you had put together, what our friend Ali had put together. I was excited a local sports talk radio show host named Vince Marotta, who I’ve been listening to since I was a teenager, he agreed to do a presentation. A lot of these people were more than willing to share. And I got to take their content, break it up into all sorts of little micro-content, which Gary Vaynerchuk does a great deal about that. Just search “Gary Vee micro-content,” you’ll find some really great stuff.


I was able to promote the summit without saying, “Buy Campaign Donut. Buy Campaign Donut. Buy Campaign Donut.” I was able to say, “Let’s teach you how to create a content marketing campaign that converts. Oh, by the way, if you want to organize all of this, and have a system that will actually create a lot of the content for you, Campaign Donor can help you get there.” Because where I felt the biggest pressure, Joe with the summit is where most people feel the biggest pressure with any campaign they’re running. Getting 50% of the way done, and then having to put in the hard work to push it the other 50% of the way and cross the finish line.


So running the Unleashed Summit, the first one in 2019, it was a big challenge and it was also very rewarding. I still reap a lot of those benefits and a lot of the positive outcomes that came. And yes, we’re getting ready to announce the date for the 2020 summit, and we’re going to do a lot of the same things that we did. But my big push right now is to create something that is not a glorified podcast, but is something that will actually mean something significant to the end viewer. Because let’s come back to that very first thing that we said was important. You’ve got to believe that what you are creating will change somebody’s life.


There’s lots of people out there who are out there to just make a quick buck, and they don’t give a rip about people. And you know what? Whatever. That’s not how I operate. So I’m looking at this Unleashed Summit as how can we put something together that doesn’t exist elsewhere, or that isn’t reaching the type of people that we can reach, and connect them with content, connect them with instruction that will literally change their lives, and put them in an orbit that they only dreamed of being and last week, last year, last five years?


That’s a lot of rambling, but that gives you a little bit of thought into what went into creating the summit, why I did it, the drive that I had behind the way we structured it, and why I am continuing to do it. Because yes, it’s great for Campaign Donut, but more importantly than that, I want to see people create content marketing campaigns that convert. And I believe that the summit helps me get closer to that end result in individual people’s lives.


Joe: I think that’s really fantastic. Everything you said is right. There are a lot of virtual summits, virtual conferences. I mean, especially in the WordPress space now, most WordCamps are online. I love going to WordCamps in person, I haven’t attended a single online WordCamp because I don’t want to spend a whole Saturday sitting in front of my computer. That’s not how I want to spend, especially because I have two kids now. I think you’re absolutely right. If you can provide value in a consumable way, I think that’s a really good recipe for a virtual summit.


We’re coming up on the half hour-ish mark here, and I want to talk to you, before we get to tips for listeners, what is your tech stack for the virtual summit? Because I know that there are a lot of tools. Lots of people ask me, what do I use for my things, my videos, my podcasts. What does your tech stack look like there?


Dave: That’s a great question. So for anybody listening, I want to tell you, I have unlocked the key to creating the best tech stack in the world. My tech stack is better than anybody else’s tech stack out there. The key is planning everything on paper or a document, and then going out and finding the tools. That will ensure that you have the best tech stack ever.


Now that I’ve shared the secret with the world, I want you to plan it on a document. First, get all the content created, and then start punching it into your tech stack. It was interesting. I did a lot of research. There’s some tools out there that actually facilitate an entire online summit for you. That’s predicated on the idea that you’re either going to do this summit live, or you’re going to push the content out that’s pre-recorded in real-time. So it’s a pseudo live.


I made the decision that I did not want, number one, the stress in my life of having something go wrong on the day of. Number two, I didn’t want to have to coordinate with all of my speakers to try to do something live. Number three, I wanted to do something that really felt like the participant was in control of their journey and didn’t feel like, “Shoot, if I go to the bathroom, I can’t watch the episode or the session that I wanted to participate in.” So that was what I factored into my decision.


So number one is all of the videos were recorded using Skype. So if I had a presentation, or if I had an interview, the video was recorded using Skype on Mac with a Call Recorder application from eCamm. It’s a great little application that allows you to record video on two separate tracks and audio on two separate tracks. So that’s what I did to record the presentations that were interviews.


Now when folks like Joe submitted theirs, all I asked was that they submit it in a 1280 by 720 format because you don’t want someone sending you some little thumbnail and be like, “Well, I can’t use this.” Because then everybody’s disappointed. So having some standards was important. So that’s what I asked them to do. And they all use different programs like ScreenFlow, Camtasia, all sorts of different…like Loom, Wistia, Soapbox. There’s a lot of things out there. Whatever they used is what they submitted. I just gave them the dimensions.


Now to host the videos because I made the videos live in batches of three, so every hour for six hours, I think it was, I released three new videos and those videos were available for three hours. So over the course of the day, you could choose the ones that you wanted but you had to watch them in the time period that they were around, or else you would miss it. So that was that. In control, but also real-time vibe.


I hosted them all on Wistia. The reason I hosted them on Wistia was because I wanted the statistics. I wanted to see how the sessions performed. Vimeo has some more statistics now, but at the time, they were not sufficient. So I hosted them on Wistia. And quite frankly, I think Wistia is a better platform for this type of video delivery and consumption. So Wistia was what I used for the videos themselves, hosting them.


Now to build out the landing pages, I had a designer put together what the landing pages could look like, because that’s where I waste time, Joe. I’m not a designer. I’m not an illustrator. I can design. I can illustrate. But I lose money, if I’m spending time doing those things. So they designed it, whatever they designed it in. And then we used WordPress as Elementor Pro to build out the landing pages. We used the Elementor Forms widget to take the registrations. We used Zapier to send those registrations to a Google Sheet. So we had a hard copy of registrants.


But we also connected that registration form to Drip. Drip is the email service that we use for my agency for Campaign Donut as well as for all of our clients. It puts high power email marketing tools in an accessible, easy to use interface. So that’s what we use for our email marketing. To sell the replay, we used a tool called ThriveCart, which is like a SamCart. But at the time they were running a lifetime deal. I purchased it. I spent like 600 or 800 bucks or something like that for a lifetime deal. And that’s what we use to manage all of our products sales. Product delivery was done through Drip and the video hosting was done through Amazon S3 and through our Elementor page with the Wistia video.


So that was really our tech stack. If you step back—I mean, you’ll list this in the show notes—it was very, very simple. It didn’t need to be complicated. We looked at some other tools, but at the end of the day, we have the capabilities of a full marketing agency. So we had all those additional tools available. So really just going with one didn’t make sense when we had some tools that we felt were superior and provided a better experience.


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Joe: Let me tell you. I think that the simpler the stack, the better you use the tools that you know the best. Also, plan everything on paper, that speaks to me. You mentioned that you feel like we’re spirited, like we’re connected. I agree. I’m going to show you…the viewers won’t see it. But this is one of my many fountain pens. It’s a Platinum #3776. I do everything on paper first just because it helps me visualize and see the data or the plan in such a way that…Even I love good notes in my iPad Pro and my Apple Pencil, love them, I still prefer to do things on paper just because I feel it. So I think that’s fantastic.


The simpler the stack, the better. I was paying for Crowdcast for a while for webinars and I think that…Well, I stopped doing that because I’m taking a webinar hiatus over the summer. But when I come back, I think I’m just gonna do eCamm Live. It’s a lot cheaper. I’ll stream to YouTube because YouTube’s got really great stats. And if I want to password protect a page or something like that, I can do that in WordPress and Gravity Forms for the registrations. So I think you’re absolutely right. The simpler, the better. Don’t cheap out is a lesson that I learned time and time again. My dad always says, “Buy cheap, get cheap.”


Also don’t frivolously spend money if you don’t need to. If you’re running a business, spend the money on the things that’s going to save you money. Don’t just buy things to buy things. Every couple of months I go over what I’m paying for and I decide, “What do I need to get rid of? What can I keep? What is essential?”


Dave: I literally could not agree any more than I am agreeing right now. I am at the max level of agreement. There’s a social media scheduling tool that I’ve used since 2013, 2014, something like that. I love this tool. Over the course of time, it’s evolved. And it’s really no longer geared for somebody like me. Yet I was paying $200 a month for this particular tool. Through one of those lifetime deals, I found a tool that after I purchased it, I’m not really huge on the lifetime deals, I like looking but I often find that I buy something and then I don’t ever use it.


This one, instead of $200 a month, I was able to buy a lifetime deal for $117. It had everything that we need. So I am just on the cusp of being able to cancel. I downgraded my account from 200 bucks a month to 100 bucks a month. And as soon as this last tool gets Instagram natively integrated into the platform, we’ll be able to stop that other tool and I’m going to save $2400 a year. Mind you it’s not $117 a month. It’s $117 lifetime. Now, if they go out of business in another year, hey, I saved 2,200 bucks over $2,200. And I can always go back to that other tools. So yeah, evaluate that stuff. And you don’t got to go with the Cadillac if the Hyundai will get you from point A to point B.


Joe: Yeah, for sure. Social media tools…This is a bit of a tangent before we wrap up. But social media tools, in general, I struggle so much with because I’m, just me, not marketer guy, I am hard-pressed to want to pay more than like 20 bucks a month for something. But they go pretty quickly from like 10 to 20 bucks a month to like 300 bucks a month. And I’m like, “I’ll just do it myself once a week.”


Dave: It’s absolutely correct. Not to get negative, I’m a pretty positive person, but what I think we’re seeing right now, and social media tools are pretty indicative of this, just because of where we are in the evolution of the internet and where we are in the evolution of digital marketing, all these tools, the leaders popped up back in the beginning of the 2010s. Back in 2011. You know, 2010, 2011, 2012. And it was revolutionary at the time because it made things a lot easier. These companies start off as startups. “We’re going to change the world, we’re going to make things easier. We’re not going to charge as much as these other ones. We’re going to make…”


But then what happens? They take investors money, now they have accountability, and eventually, that plan that started off as 10 bucks a month, in order to get the things that you need, now you’re spending $400 a month. That’s not the way I do business. I’m not gonna fault anybody else for what they’re doing because I know that they’ve got…


One thing that I have decided, Joe, is I am not going to comment on how other people spend their money, because I literally have no idea what they are accountable for or responsible to. But I can run my stuff differently. So with Campaign Donut and with my marketing agency, we’ve really made a concerted effort to really deliver the value that we promise and keep the pricing at a point that allows us to be profitable, stay in business, but also make it easy for people to say yes to us. So I can’t affect what other people do but I can choose how I’m going to operate.


Dave: I love that too. Because then you’re also not bashing the company that charges all that money. Because  I don’t see the value for me is what I always say. It’s I don’t see the value for me or for me yet.


Dave: Here’s the thing. Somebody else is using that and it has changed their life. It has changed their world. And hey, more power to them. It’s okay to say, “You know what, we started off together, we’ve grown apart. How about you go your way? I’ll go my way.” It’s not like we’re in a covenant with these apps. It’s a business app. It’s a business transaction.


Joe: Yeah, that’s exactly right. I mean, especially with a monthly deal, we’re not forever tied to this tool. When it stops…


Dave: Yeah. I’d still be using Hotmail if it were.


Joe: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. Same. I’d be on AIM with Hotmail.


Dave: Or


Joe: I’d still be on GeoCities for my website.


Dave: The early days of the Gift. The Gift isn’t a resurgence, isn’t it? Oh, my goodness. If baseball comes back like the Gift, we are in for a treat.


Joe: Yeah. Fingers crossed for that. Well, we are about out of time here. But I do need to ask you, Dave, my favorite question, which is, do you have any trade secrets for us?


Dave: Man, yeah, I’ve got a lot. But the most important one I’ve already divulged. So if it’s okay, I’m just going to build upon that.


Joe: Yeah.


Dave: Listener, right now I’m going to give you the truth. Nobody cares about you. That doesn’t mean that you’re not important. That doesn’t mean that your idea is not important. It just means that when you’re trying to reach someone with an idea that you believe will make their life better, your message is going to be right in the middle.


Let’s say you send them an email, they’re going to have in their email inbox an email from their parent. They’re going to have an email from their best friend. They’re going to have an email from their bank. They’re going to have an email from their CPA. They’re going to have an email from their mortgage company. If yours is in there, which email is the least important?


There’s a good chance that in their life, at any point in time, your email, selling widget a is going to be the least important. So what do you need to change about what you’re doing to help that email rise to the top? I’m not saying make it more important, but force them, compel the person you’re trying to reach to care about what it is you’re doing, what it is you have to say, and gain trust from them to where they’ll say, “You know what? I want a more preferred outcome in my life and I believe that this widget is going to help me get there. Believe that nobody cares about what you’re doing, and then ask that all important question. What do I need to change to compel them to care? I think that’s the biggest trade secret and that impacts every single thing that we do.


Joe: That’s amazing. I think that it reinforces a lot of what we’ve talked about on this show, especially you read the copy for a lot of WordPress plugins, not to pick on WordPress developers, but that’s what I am, and it’s like, “We used React, and we did this.” And I’m like, “No one cares about the programming language you used.” People care about, “Is this going to do what I needed to do?” You’re absolutely right. Nobody cares about you. They want to know how your offer will give them a more preferred outcome.


Dave: I’ll just tack on to this. Gary Vee says people come for the information, they stay for the personality. What’s really amazing is when your widget, when your app, when your plugin, when your content, when your course, when your webinar actually meets and fulfills a real felt need and you become somebody that they trust and listen to. And that is the ultimate compliment that somebody can really pay you is you become their go-to source. So they may start out not caring about you, but as soon as they realize that you’re in it for them, all of a sudden, you have a real chance to make a dent in somebody’s life for the better. And that’s special.


Joe: I love that. I think that’s a great spot to leave it at. Dave, where can people find you?


Dave: Great question. First and foremost, go to Check out the show notes. Joe will make it easy for you to find the resources that I was talking about. But find me on my website, Find me on Twitter, @Daveshrien. I’ve talked about my agency. We’ve got a lot of really great stuff that we have made accessible. If you want to check it out, you can go to And that will give you a little bit more insight into what we do on the agency side, whereas Campaign Donut is what we do to help people create it on their own. So that’s probably the best way, Joe.


Joe: I will link to all that in the show notes. The Blocks Agency. Is that the B-L-O-C-K-S?


Dave: B-L-O-C-K-S. That’s right. The Blocks Agency. Because we are having fun building marketing campaigns with some amazing, amazing blocks.


Joe: Love it. Dave, thanks so much for joining me today. I really appreciate it.


Dave: Thanks so much for having me on. Hope everybody has a great day. Joe, take care.


Outro: Thanks so much to Dave for joining us today. Wow, the show notes for this episode are going to be packed. Lots and lots of great resources here. Lots of great conversation. Again, the concept on pillar pages where you basically have one page to really, really establish your authority on a concept.


But his trade secret is one that really resonated with me. Nobody cares about you. That means when you’re trying to reach someone, you need to compel people to care about you and gain trust from them. So Dave is great at marketing, and his advice should be heeded. Is that a word, heeded? You should heed Dave’s advice.


If you want this action-packed list of show notes, you can head over to, where you can also learn more about our sponsors for this week, Yes Plz Coffee, ExpressVPN, and iThemes. If you want actionable advice and the latest episode and all sorts of great goodies delivered directly to your mailbox, you can sign up for the Build Something Weekly newsletter, and everything, sign up, the links to the sponsors, that’s all over at Thanks so much for listening. And until next time, get out there and build something.

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