The Pixie Podcast brings you deep-dive conversations with interesting and passionate people about what it means to humanise communication.
Customer Love, with Vance Morris Customer Love, with Vance Morris
Vance Morris is the king of client experience. He coaches executives in Disnifying their businesses; is the author of multiple books; is a keynote speaker… and still runs his own services business as well.
To chat about all of this, as well as the nuances of running information services businesses, which is what many of the Pixie’s customers try to do, Leticia brought on Vance for a chat.
Here is the audio, and the transcript is below. Remember to subscribe and rate it if you enjoy it!
Hello Pixie fans and friends. Today, I have a very special interview for you. It is with Vance Morris, who is someone way up there on my pedestal of people to watch, and follow, and learn from. Vance Morris is one of the world’s leading authorities on customer service, or what he would probably prefer to call it, client service and experience. He’s a renowned expert on direct response marketing, and business building, and marketing strategy. He worked for Disney for a long time, 10 years as a senior manager, where he started in the opening team of the yacht and beach club resorts, and progressed through the management ranks as a nightclub manager at Pleasure Island, service trainer of both the Empress Lilly, and on the revitalization team of the Contemporary Resort in the mid ’90s.
Vance is now a Disneyfication trainer, is what I would like to call it. And his book about how to Disnify your business is called Systematic Magic: 7 Magic Keys to Disnify Your Business. And it’s all about service culture and how to improve the customer love, client love in your business.
He is a business leader and entrepreneur himself. He has owned a bricks and mortar business, still owns it, still runs it in carpet cleaning. And it’s in that business that he tests his own marketing and direct response strategies before teaching them to other people. And one of the results of that is that his business has started sucking up it’s competitors who couldn’t compete with his marketing. It’s actually quite amazing.
I have been following Vance for a long time, and we recorded this interview a few months ago. And so is my intense pleasure to bring this to you. The interview goes for about an hour, and we talk about everything, from service cultures, to remuneration, how kids are raised, what employment is like for them now. The differences between regular bricks and mortar businesses, or regular service businesses and information products businesses, and how you can start thinking differently perhaps about your own marketing, your own publishing, and what kind of place that has for your clientele, and some of the attitudes that it takes to create it. It was a really fun chat. So enjoy it, and I’ll catch you on the flip side.
Vance, welcome to the show.
Well, I appreciate it. Thanks so much for having me.
Now, there are many, many, many things we could talk about, and that you have been interviewed about ad nauseam, from your career, to working for Disney, to entrepreneurship, to direct response marketing. And each one is really an episode in itself, but no doubt, we will touch on each one of them. What I would really like to focus on today is the nexus kind of between all of them at that place where customer love, and content, and publishing kind of overlap.
Certainly. And they do overlap.
Question of the Week: How to get people to interview?
Getting people to interview doesn’t mean that the tough work is in finding them. It’s in getting them to say ‘yes’.
One question I have been asked recently is how do you get people to interview?
Before I answer this, let me tell you some of the people I’ve interviewed in my time.
I’ve interviewed Rob Halford, the almighty vocalist of classic band Judas Priest; the founder of Wacken festival, which is the world’s largest heavy metal festival; major producers and engineers like Fredrik Nordstrom; and super famous (in Europe) women like Angela Gossow. I’ve interviewed people who are totally unknown, and people that you’ve probably read, like Mike Michalowicz (who wrote books like Profit First and The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur).
Of these, some were arranged for me (Halford); some I pitched and won myself (Wacken and Nordstrom); some I am fans or friends of (Michalowicz); some because it was just my job.
I know how to unearth people to interview, how to get people to do the work to connect me (while thinking it’s their idea), and how to make interviews a raging success.
There are typically two reasons why you will want to interview people:
1. For content you’re producing (podcasts, webinars, features).
2. Case studies.
The good news is that there is no shortage of people to interview. Everybody has a story of some kind, and if you’re a skillful interviewer, you’ll be able to find it.
So, getting people is not the challenge.
The bad news is that the challenge is getting people to say yes to an interview.
When it comes to getting interviewees to say yes, the question that you need to answer is, WIIFM (what’s in it for me?). If you can’t answer that question, do some some brainstorming. Think of all of the possible reasons it would be good for them.
If you’re looking for a case study subject, there are loads of reasons why it’s good for them:
* Publicity somewhere else* Links back to their own website (if it’s digital)* New copy for them to use to say how awesome they are (or brag about their coverage)* Opportunity to really tell their own story and think about aspects of their businesses they don’t often consider* Opportunity to share their opinions and advice in a safe space, without judgement.
If you’re looking for a subject for a podcast interview, the critical things – besides the WIIFM – is being specific. Tell them everything, such as:
* What it’s for* Where it will appear* How long the interview will take* How it’ll be handled* What date it’ll go live* How many subscribers you’ve got* etc.
There are many, many more points of specificity, but you’re a smart cookie. You’ll work it out once you get started.
Telling people as much as you can is just courtesy. When you do this, it indicates respect: Respect for their time, effort, and knowledge.
Your Emotional Intelligence Radar is your Persuasion Weapon. If you’re able to predict emotional responses ahead of time, you can prevent anything that will throw a negative outcome.
It sounds absurdly simple.
Because it is.
To get content and publishing tips just like this one, but every day and direct to your inbox, sign up at:
Sometimes great publishing means befriending the Troll
There’s a Norwegian fairytale that I’m sure you’ve heard. It involves three persuasive goats, a hideous troll, and a bridge. Depending on your business, the subject matter experts in your organisation might be your hideous troll.
By nature, they’re much the same.
They’re guarding the gateways to knowledge, and beyond them is a promised land of lush pastures that will fatten you up.
When their knowledge is challenged, or they are suddenly not in control of the message, they can get very pedantic. They’ll stop your progress, come back to you with all kinds of corrections and excuses. They’ll throw your publishing into the creek, in other words, leaving you to find an alternative.
If you manage to find your way around this person, and start having a good time in the beautiful lush grass, you’ll soon find yourself toe-to-toe with a pyssed off troll – er – expert.
Subject matter experts become grumpy and ugly not because they are trying to make your life difficult. Most of the time it’s because they feel threatened.
Suddenly, they’re not being asked to create everything. Someone else is doing it.
By putting yourself into their shoes, you will be able to make an ally out of this most fearsome adversary. Should you be able to achieve this, you will have a friend for life.
A checklist for getting a troll subject-matter expert on your side (and keeping them there)
* Remember they’re the expert. You need their help; they’re not obliged to help you. If they speak, listen.* Spend time listening to their stories and understanding their perspectives. It’ll show you the best approach by giving you an insight into who this person is and why they know so much.* Be specific about what you want them to tell you. If you haven’t prepared ahead of time, you’ll either waste their time with vague requests, or they’ll waste yours with endless stories. (Pro-tip: It’s wasted time because even though the stories are gold, you won’t be prepared for them, so they’ll sail past you.)* Treat them with respect and grace.* Thank them before and afterwards for being generous with their time.* Summarise back to them what they’re telling you, so they know that you have understood what they’re saying. Simply nodding, smiling, or making ‘uh huh’ noises won’t cut it.* Only take up as much time as you promised to take. If you need more time, book it for a second session.* Learn to detect and deflect fear. If you are consolidating website authors (for example) and taking control over a website section away from them, understand that they’ll be defensive. They may have built that entire corner themselves and be extremely proud of it. Your job is to de-fizzle them, reassure them that their work wasn’t wasted, and then get them to work with you instead of against you. Detecting (and deflecting) fear is your number one skill here.* Know enough about the subject to have an intelligent conversation. If you’re talking to someone about pipeline design, for example, at least have a handle on basic concepts and terminology, like support spans and thermal expansion. And if you don’t know it, prepare ahead of time!* Remember; When you’re under pressure, you’ll fall as far as your preparation. You won’t rise to the occasion.
Working with subject matter experts is a lot like negotiation, and a lot like persuasion. If you don’t know how to do either of these things, that’s a clue for what to start studying.
Don't get railroaded by people who get scared
Scared people will behave in all kinds of strange ways. When it comes to your publishing activity, you must learn how to detect and deflect fear: It can sometimes be the only thing that saves your project.
Producing any kind of content with the input of others takes loads of time and effort. I believe the concept is of ‘herding cats’. It’s the prime reason why many organisations just don’t do it.
Imagine, then, how you would feel if you had spent close to two grand, about eight weeks, several emails, and tons of excitement, only to have someone veto a piece of content because they were a bit damaged by their experience.
(I was going to write “a bit nuts”, but that seemed unfair.)
A story about someone who got scared
I’ll tell you a story.
It’s a true story, by the way.
Last year, I worked with a fabulous woman who did everything the right way with her business. She did all her hard thinking up-front. This meant that she thought about her branding, and her message. She brought in consultants to work with her on the strength of their work, even though she wasn’t able to service clients immediately. She paid big money for big expertise, so that she was guided in the right way.
It’s not always possible to do this, by the way, so don’t feel like you need to do it. I sure didn’t! Maybe that’s something I can share with you if you wanted me to?
Back to the story.
My client had done some seriously amazing work in the previous six to twelve months. She felt (and I agreed) that the best place for her spend, therefore, was in a couple of representative case studies.
One of those, we booked people in, no problem.
Interviews went off without a hitch.
Approval process with our clients, also no problem. There were a lot of things we had to change. The matter that was the subject of the case study was something currently before the courts.
This meant we had to change a bunch of details: Names, titles, places; remove paragraphs. You know, take out all the identifying matter.
It left a killer story, one you would never have picked unless you were intimate with the interviewee.
But the interviewee was still scared.
Did the interviewee reply to the approvals? Nope.
Did she acknowledge the emails? Nope.
Phone calls maybe? Nope.
Did the interviewee flip out and want to renege on the entire thing? Oh yes, she did. This poor, scared woman was terrified.
The interviewee had a problem, and it wasn’t that it was a problem with the case study. It was that it had a problem with participating.
The trouble was, this interviewee could have simply declined to start with.
That way, no wasted time, no wasted money, no back-and-forth with counsel to find the most appropriate solution.
The moral of the story
However good you think your consent processes are for your clients with your case studies, they’re not good enough.
Engaging a client for an interview for a case study isn’t even as complex as engaging a subject-matter expert from inside your business. It’s much more complex.
It is especially complex if there are additional factors at play.
If you’re smart, though,
Are you as good a publisher as Ned Kelly was?
Ned Kelly’s approach to the world is worth studying. You can apply it to your business publishing, to great effect.
As far as famous characters go, you can’t beat Ned Kelly. A man loved far and wide (except by the Police), Kelly was a handsome young fella with strong views about how people ought to be treated.
The story of Ned Kelly is known and loved by Australians everywhere.
It’s not just because of the romance of The Bushranger. It’s because Ned Kelly was:
(a) hanged for revenge
(b) Robin Hood.
The Kelly mythology was so strong that barely 80 years after he died – in other words, during the life of my own grandmother – it fuelled stories about Ronald Ryan, who was the last man hanged in Australia.
But that, my fabulous fledgling publisher, is a story for another time.
Instead, I want you to consider how Ned Kelly would have approached your task of producing an effective publication.
Ned Kelly: How he would have approached publishing
When you make a frankly dastardly mistake, own it and make it your business to see it through to the end. Kelly shot a cop to death but didn’t mean to… the first time. He knew it wouldn’t end well, even then, and so changed his approach to use it to better others.
Understand how powerful is your own story, and use it to your advantage when talking to your audience. The story of the poor Kelly lads is something everyone knows now: A story of unwarranted persecution, ending up with them in a position they didn’t want to be in. Telling the story enabled populations (especially women) to fall in love with Ned Kelly.
Stand up for your convictions and be opinionated! Kelly and his brothers and friends burned the mortgages of the poor (which is why the Queen herself wanted him dead, so the story goes). He wrote strong, powerful letters to the police, advising them that they won’t back down from freeing others. Later, in 1967, a famous jail-breaking Ronald Ryan did effectively the same thing – also to great effect.
Look after the people who work with you, on purpose or by accident. Ned Kelly looked after everyone who helped him out.
Be merciless to your enemies, even if they’re friends. When one of the Kelly Gang’s friends ratted them out, Ned Kelly and one of the Gang went and killed him. Just because you’re friends with your competitors, don’t let the rose-coloured shine of friendship dampen your inner predator. Go after them with everything you’ve got.
Be passionate in everything you do. Life, love, defend, proclaim, and fight with pride, not just because you’re backed into a corner, but because this might be your only chance to make a difference.
One of the most powerful of the lot is being able to use your own story to hit the right notes with your audience. To be able to do this, you have to know what’s motivating THEM. Why are they afraid, or breathless with excitement? What would you say to them if you had no f***s left to give?
If you were publishing today and this was your last day on earth, why would someone defend you until the hour of your hanging.
That, my friends, is what you want to get to in understanding your audience.
If you were Ned Kelly, how would YOU get people on-side?
Send us an email and tell us!
You can get daily publishing tips just like this o...
Checklist: Know that you're hitting the right audience
This checklist will help you to know that what you’re doing for your audience is right.
How do you know that what you’re doing is right for your audience?
This checklist will give you a very different set of metrics from what you’re used to.
Here are 10 things that show you that what you’re doing is right for them:
1. Engagement is visible (replies more than likes).
2. When you promote an offer, people buy it.
3. Your subscriber membership is relatively stable or growing.
4. People thank you for the publication.
5. People tell you that you make them think.
6. Your clients are on your list (or ask to be added).
7. Your prospects are on your list (or ask to be added).
8. Strangers approach you at networking events and shyly introduce themselves as “one of your readers”.
9. Other people start asking you if you’ll collaborate with them (because they want access to your list).
10. People start subscribing people people talk about your work.
Comments about this checklist
An active, healthy subscriber membership isn’t always about people who like, comment, or share digital work.
It can be more useful to have a 1:1 relationship with your list members. Think about the people who take the time to reply to you, to seek you out and talk to you about what you’re producing.
These days, word of mouth – which is more effort – is more valuable than it’s ever been. And that includes their words from their mouths in your ears, directly.
This is why I created the Daily Publishing Tips email list. It’s not just to create and build an engaging, 1:1 relationship with people like you. It’s so that you can get meaningful tips about how to do it for yourself.
Sign up at: