In this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I interview Pamela Slim. Pam is an author, community builder, consultant, and former corporate director of training and development at Barclays Global Investors. Pam is best known for her book Escape from Cubicle Nation, and she recently wrote a new book called – The Widest Net: Unlock Untapped Markets and Discover New Customers Right in Front of You – launching in November 2021.
Many businesses and marketers create an ideal consumer profile – aiming all their sales and marketing efforts towards this single type of person. As a result, they end up missing out on endless opportunities to sell their services or products.
In this episode, I sat down with author and community builder, Pamela Slim, to discuss key concepts from her new book – The Widest Net. We dive into how to build strong relationships, expand into new markets, and find new customers in untapped places.
Questions I ask Pamela Slim:
- [1:42] As we’re recording this, it’s Indigenous People’s Day – what does this day look like in your household?
- [3:16] Your book The Widest Net seems to go against a little bit of conventional wisdom. These days there’s a lot of conventional wisdom around having to niche down or go narrower – tell me why that’s wrong or how The Widest Net fits into that thinking.
- [5:04] Would you say this book is a good fit for people who are just getting ready to start their business and if so, why?
- [7:25] How do you get people to really connect with this idea of mission?
- [14:37] A lot of marketers think every 35 year old is the same – meaning they have the same problems, the same challenges, and should receive the same messaging. What’s your take on narrowing your focus to this perfect client or persona?
- [16:33] Can you talk about the concept of an ‘offer’ and why you introduced it as a topic in your book early on?
- [19:28] Relationship building or connecting has always been a deep part of your DNA – can you talk about how that element shows up in your book?
- [23:10] Can you talk a little bit about the unique model that you’ve developed?
- [25:01] Tell people about where they can find your superclass, your book, and more about the work you’re doing.
More About Pamela Slim:
- Pre-order Pam’s Book
- More about The Widest Net: Unlock Untapped Markets and Discover New Customers Right in Front of You
More About The Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network:
Like this show? Click on over and give us a review on iTunes, please!
John Jantsch (00:00): This episode of the duct tape marketing podcast is brought to you by the MarTech podcast, hosted by Benjamin Shapiro, brought to you by the HubSpot podcast network. Ben’s episodes are so awesome. They’re under 30 minutes. They share stories with world-class marketers who use technology to generate growth and achieve business and career success. Ben is a great host. I’ve been on his show. He’s been on my show. He always really digs down and gives you actionable stuff that you can take away and do. And he’s always bringing up new stuff. The science of advertising, how to figure out what to automate, just things that marketers are wrestling with today. Check it out. It’s the MarTech podcast. Find it wherever you listen to your podcasts.
John Jantsch (00:50): Hello, and welcome to another episode of the duct tape marketing podcast. This is John Jantsch. My guest today is Pam Slim. She’s an author community builder consultant, former corporate director of training and development at Barclays global investors. Uh, you probably know her best for her. I think first book escaped from shoot apical nation. And today we’re going to talk about her latest book called the widest net unlock untapped markets and discover new customers right in front of you. So Pam, welcome back.
Pamela Slim (01:24): Thanks for having me, John.
John Jantsch (01:26): So you are an IRA recording this pen-pal when people listen to it, but we are recording this on a holiday indigenous people’s day. And ironically, you are my favorite person married to a member of the Navajo or Denae nation. So what does this day look like in your household? I’d actually love to hear because cause there’s, it’s like a lot of those things it’s become sort of a new holiday, uh, that people celebrate, but I suspect that it has a different meaning in your household.
Pamela Slim (01:58): It does. I think, you know, we, uh, my husband and I are the types where I think you can probably relate. We don’t really have a huge separation between work and life. Right? My husband is a traditional healer and so he’s, uh, he ran a heavy equipment construction business for many, many years. And then when he did kind of an early retirement, now he mainly does ceremony. So really every day for him and the work he’s doing is generally about supporting relatives, you know, really strengthening the health wellbeing, um, and really cultural connection. I know for me here, we have our CA main street learning lab, which is a learning I’m right in the middle of main street. And it’s kind of a big celebration here. Cause a lot of the folks who we had used our space are actually opening their own spaces today that are all native led and run. So O X, D X clothing, which is a Navajo, uh, clothing design line opened a new space in Tempe, Arizona, Cahokia, which is a, uh, art tech social space is opening up in Roosevelt road today. And there are others as well. So for us, that’s really the thing is to see indigenous people running their own businesses and really in positions of leadership.
John Jantsch (03:07): Yeah. Awesome. Well, I, I knew you’d have something valuable to share. So let’s talk about your book, um, right off the bat, the title, the widest net seems to go against a little bit of conventional wisdom these days. There’s a lot of conventional wisdom around, you have to niche down, you have to go narrower. So tell me maybe why that’s wrong or how the widest net fits into that thinking.
Pamela Slim (03:31): I think I’ll say the title did its job bright, cause it does make you go wait a minute, but that doesn’t make any sense. And really a lot of what I see with the model of the widest net is that in many, for many business owners, even those that have been established for a very long time, like you and I, there we can get in ruts and limit our thinking about who the potential customers are for our business. And sometimes we’re just used to always thinking in a certain way about who that audience is sometimes within a vertical segment, other times maybe within a certain type of person that comes from a certain demographic background. And so at first, if we have a methodology and a system, which I have in the book for looking strategically at a wide range of opportunities in the market, then of course we narrow the focus and really make strategic decisions about going in with focus.
John Jantsch (04:24): Yeah, it’s funny. I, because that is so prevalent, that thinking is so prevalent in about, you have to narrow your focus. A lot of people haven’t don’t have the experience to narrow their focus. They think, oh, there’s opportunity to work with dentists. So I’m going to go after dentist and then they realized, nah, I don’t like that direction. Now I’ve got to pivot and change. So I wholeheartedly agree. I’m okay with narrow your focus, but before you narrow, your focus has always been kind of my mantra. So would you say that this book, because I think what you and I are talking about right now is probably somebody, maybe that’s a little more established or as you said, is maybe gets stuck a little bit, but would you say that this model is also, if I’m getting ready to start my business and then somebody says, should I read the white us net? You know, what would be your, uh, other than your author, uh, and, uh, you know, what to solve by, uh, What, uh, what would be your particular sort of take on that person’s experience?
Pamela Slim (05:23): Well, as you, as you said, in the, in the intro, I’ve had lots of years experience of working with people as brand new entrepreneurs, and that are transitioning, especially from corporate, as well as folks that are really growing or scaling. And the methodology to me is the same. It’s what I use with people, whether they’re brand new and starting out and just trying to evaluate and think about what would be the best customer segment to start with, or customer segments as, as they are for somebody who’s been established in business. Like, you know, I, I talk often with clients, it feels sometimes like a spiral. We think sometimes that it’s just a, you you’re in business, you make decisions, you get to a different level and you keep climbing. What I find instead is you just keep circling around the same foundations, things that you’ve established well with your duct tape marketing methodology. But when you circle back around, you are really coming at it from a different angle or a different level. So a lot of the foundations that the understanding that somebody might have as a brand new entrepreneur is going to be very different from somebody who has tested it and tried it and knows how to sell within one particular vertical. But the point of view and the method is the same, regardless of what stage you’re in.
John Jantsch (06:32): I kind of compared to seasons, I think that there are elements that are true every spring, every fall, but I’m a different person next year when I come around to that. And I think that that’s as an entrepreneur, you know, is, is something that if you stick with this long enough, you really start to recognize those patterns.
Pamela Slim (06:48): That’s right. Yeah.
John Jantsch (06:49): So you start this book where a lot of books that are talking to small business owners, entrepreneurs, startups start, and that’s, what’s kind of mission and vision. And I know certainly from knowing you for many years, that that’s something you truly believe that’s in your heart. There’s a lot of literature right now. It’s going all the way back to, and I’m going to sound a little cynical right now, story starting with your why and all the things that people have just really grabbed onto. But I think for a lot of people, they end up just feeling hollow or feeling like words. And I know that you don’t mean them. Then in that sense, it’s really more, how do you get people to really connect with this idea of mission? I don’t think anybody argues, it’s not an important aspect, but I don’t know too many people that truly connect to a mission.
Pamela Slim (07:35): I see it for a couple of different places. One is being somebody who for 25 years in my own business has spent lots of time in very private, confidential, bearing your soul conversations with people where I do believe that it is meaningful for entrepreneurs to know that all of their effort and energy, the hard path of entrepreneurship makes a difference beyond just making a profit. So that’s one piece. The second piece that’s very pragmatic is really the, the puzzle piece link to my method, which is when you really look at connecting to a deeper mission, that is just the bigger description and definition of a bigger problem that you want to solve inside of which your business fits within a bigger ecosystem, which is a foundational thing. So I use one of the examples in the mission chapter about Intuit, which we know makes accounting software, but their mission is power prosperity.
Pamela Slim (08:30): And you think about for them to truly deliver on that for their customers to truly experience prosperity, they need financial education, probably money, mindset, work, bank accounts, retirement accounts, a whole series of things provided by other professionals besides just Intuit, who is creating that software. So if you don’t know the scope of the bigger problem that your mission connects to, it is not going to be possible to know you then dial in with your business to define the specific problem that you help your clients solve. And that’s what I think is the foundation for a marketing plan.
John Jantsch (09:03): Yeah. And I, I don’t think I’ve heard anybody express her quite, um, that way. And I think that what happens is a lot of people, a lot of people stop at the ecosystem or the other parts of this admission is let’s have this grand mission, but everybody kind of goes well. Yeah, but we just do this one little thing over here. You can’t do the grand mission. And I think what you’re suggesting is by understanding your place that actually opens then the doors for who else do you need to know? Who else do you need to engage? Who else is also serving your same mission? And I, I think that that’s a pretty eye-opening perspective.
Pamela Slim (09:37): Well, yeah, I think for most business problems, as wonderful as we all think we are within our own business and with our products and services, it is impossible to completely solve the problem for your client. I think every client I’ve ever worked with works with a whole multitude of different service providers, they use different products, services, organizations. They listen to podcasts, they, you know, get information at events. So to me, it’s connecting strategically to those partners who are aligned with your mission and values that creates natural referral sources of which I know you care about so much. You wrote a whole book.
John Jantsch (10:13): It’s funny you say that though, because we work with a lot of small business owners and quite frankly, to truly get them the results that they want in marketing, we probably also have to be, or should be helping them with their hiring, with their culture, with making a profit, even though those are well outside of certainly my expertise. But I think that I’ve learned over the years, that if they don’t have the right relationship with money, marketing’s actually going to still be a problem for them. And I think that’s the sort of responsibility, I guess we have to develop this whole ecosystem around the customer as though
Pamela Slim (10:52): It is. And I think you and I have known each other for a long time. And we, in many ways, I feel like I’m just sharing the most obvious thing that most of us who have been in this space know, which is we know each other, we know that specific areas of expertise and we’ll call each other, right? We’ve gone back and forth and email, Hey, I have this problem. My client’s facing this situation. How can you help me? We refer other podcasts and resources. And I think the way that many people are taught, and sometimes it’s how we’re socialized in business with this, what I call the empire culture, where you’re taught that you must be positioned yourself as the sole expert, who has all the answers to some of these problems. But the reality is for me in business, I have this whole circle of really smart friends. Each of whom has a little different perspective on solving the problem for our clients. And we help each other all the time. It’s a very natural process.
John Jantsch (11:39): I guess what I’m having an aha is that it, it really, I think a lot of people say, oh yeah, we’re, I’m going to need some help somewhere. Some point I’ve developed these relationships. I like these people, but I think there’s actually an intentional of this. If I get a client and I develop a marketing plan for a client, why shouldn’t I, why shouldn’t I take that plan and educate the executive coach and the other people that they’re working with intentionally, maybe that develops a relationship at some point. But the real point of that is now we’re both going to be better able to serve our mutual client.
Pamela Slim (12:13): It is more and more the work that I do every day, working with CPAs. I refer everybody, all of my clients to profit first. I’m a big fan of that book. It’s changed the life for many of my clients. And so very often I’m working with web teams and with, you know, CPAs it’s, and there is a very direct way you get to know each other’s work, but it also saves, I think your client, some time, money, and energy of being the translator between all these different people who they’re hiring to help solve their business problems.
John Jantsch (12:42): And now let’s hear a word from our sponsor. I talk a lot about tools and strategies to track customer loyalty and satisfaction, whether it’s predicting consumer behavior or diagnosing the many Watts, hows and whys of marketing, the HubSpot CRM platform has customizable solutions to help your business go from why not to what’s next. I love all things duct tape, as you know, except for when it comes to a CRM platform, many CRM platforms are either over-engineered or clunky and unreliable costing you more time and money than they’re worth a HubSpot CRM platform means that you have purpose built solution. That’s tailored to your business and your business alone. So whether you’re just getting started or looking for a robust system, HubSpot is flexible and customizable, meaning it scales and grows as you do with new features like business units, association labels, permission sets, and more HubSpot admins can tailor their accounts like never before and now with sandboxes admins have access to a production like account, allowing them to test iterate and experiment without risk. Learn more about how you can customize your CRM platform with hubspot at hubspot.com.
John Jantsch (13:51): So there are two aspects that are talked about all the time in marketing, and you offer them up as chapters of this book. And I don’t, I think sometimes they’re miscommunicated, but I also really like, um, I’m really butchering my question here, but let’s break it down into a smaller chunk. You talk about personas all market, you’re talking about personas. You may even call them personas, but I think where I wholeheartedly support your approach to them is that a lot of marketers think every 30 five-year-old is exactly alike. Yeah. And that, because they are 35 years old, they’re going to have the same problems and the same challenges and reply or respond to the same message. And I’ll let you answer your take on how you think about narrowing, your focus to this perfect client.
Pamela Slim (14:41): Yeah. Well, our mutual friend, Susan, Susan Byer from audience audit completely changed my life. She’s here in Phoenix. She’s an attitudinal segmentation researcher and it really was through working directly with her and my clients that I pretty much just pushed aside, defining avatars or personas just by demographics first because you, there, there really is no way. If you look at people of the same age, I mean, just look at, you know, in any way, politically from a values perspective, from an interest perspective, your demographics don’t necessarily say anything about the kind of problem of challenge you have as a business owner. So when you look at it first by what is that core problem or challenge that you’re helping people to solve? So I know for me, for example, lately, I’ve been working with a lot of people who are thought leaders who have really well-established IP.
Pamela Slim (15:33): They have books, they have longtime programs, but they want to create a licensing or certification program. Cause they’re kind of tired of just doing it all themselves. So they want to create that when I’m, when I have that kind of definition of who my avatar is, that person could be all different ages. They can live at all parts of the world like they do. And it helps me to actually reach the people to solve that particular problem. So I really just use the methodology and the book that Susan has taught me so well. And, um, I’ve just seen it over and over with clients that we’ve worked with mutually.
John Jantsch (16:08): Yeah. And I think the, the thing that I’ve used for years, I talk about them as behaviors you there must have, and there’s certain things people must have, or they can’t really be a customer, but then you start getting into ideal or nice to have an ideal behaviors. And I think that that sort of transcends any kind of demographics, some very small businesses, it comes down to, you know, do we like each other? I mean, that can actually be a narrowing, you know, of who you want to work with. The next thing I want to jump to is something that gets talked about often in maybe more advanced places of marketing and you bring it in very early. And this is probably the place where I think people will struggle with your book the most partly because we don’t think of it and this is offered. Um, I think a lot of people think, well, I make a product or I have a service and I offer it to the world and the story. Um, now there are books that when they start getting into, you know, funnels and things that are maybe a little more down the road for people, you know, they start bringing offer up. I really love that you introduced the concept of offer this early in the book and probably are going to help some people redefine the relationship to what they sell.
Pamela Slim (17:15): Yeah. One thing I find a lot in, I can be guilty of this as well is a lot of folks just get very enamored by what they want to sell. And so it’s like, I want to do a mastermind where we visit a different country every year. And you know, it looks like it’s 10 days long and you know, whatever,
John Jantsch (17:34): This is amazing.
Pamela Slim (17:35): Actually, it sounds pretty good. I’d like to go to, but, but you can, when you start just by thinking about what you want to offer, and then you want to wrap marketing around it, everything to me really is like this, you know, Lego piece link in the, so when you know the bigger, bigger problem you’re trying to solve in the mission, then you figure out based on your ideal customer, what’s maybe a specific thing you could do for them. You have to understand the total journey that they need to take to go from where they are, to where it is that they want to be. And within that journey, there are certain steps that they’re going to take that you just like you described in your earlier example may not be the best person to give to them, but you need to understand the totality of that because that’s what we know your customer needs to do to, to fully get the promise.
Pamela Slim (18:23): And then from that, and when you really understand it much more specifically in having conversation with him, then you can figure out what’s the part that you can come in and deliver. And maybe it is a different country, you know, every, every week for a mastermind, but it could look to be something totally different. So you’re right. In general, the things I find that many entrepreneurs struggle with, um, is just to hold this space of looking at the bigger strategic picture first. But I feel like if you can do that in the first part of the book, then it makes the tactical piece so much easier and actually quicker when you know the right places to go in the right things to offer.
John Jantsch (19:03): Well, and there is an order to this too. I mean, that’s, that’s certainly something I’ve learned over and over again. A lot of people want to jump to, okay, what’s the tactic that I should be doing because everybody’s doing it. Should I be on tick-tock? And it’s like, well, you don’t even know you’re, you know, who you provide value for and where they are and all those kinds of things, you know, those all have to come first. Uh, otherwise you’re just guessing quite frankly. So when I think of you and how I’ve known you and how I experienced working with you, relationship building connecting is always been a sort of a deep part of your DNA. Um, talk a little bit about that, that element of the book, but also a lot of, um, what business owners I’m working with these days are really sick and tired of social media, which we’re supposed to be a relationship building, you know, platform. Right. Um, and so, and that’s not to politicize it or just talk about the, you know, the Facebook stuff that keeps coming up in the news. But I think just in general, they’re just finding that not to be a useful practice anymore. So talk a little bit about how, what, what’s the state of relationship building for Pam slim right now?
Pamela Slim (20:15): Yeah, you’re right. I was born, you know, making friends with all the nurses, probably in the, in the hospital room. If you asked my mom and I’m really the only extrovert in an all introvert family, both my biological family and my family now, but what I’ve really learned is that it kind of would be like saying, if I just gave you like a whisk and a mixing bowl, no recipes and no idea of ingredients and just said, Hey, throw a bunch of stuff together and put it in the oven probably would taste pretty awful. A lot of the reason I think why people don’t like social media is because of not really having a strategic way to think about what they’re actually trying to do and what a lot of people think. Cause my clients are like yours. Many of them is that either it’s about propping themselves up and self-aggrandizing, and just bragging all the time about what they’re doing or constantly selling and just promoting stuff that makes them feel really gross. To me. It’s simply can be an extension of when you have a well thought out plan. One of the best tools that I use all the time for just connecting with people, um, is something like a LinkedIn message. And we think about how poorly it’s utilized. Sometimes the people who might just reach out to connect and then spam you with an offer. Instead, imagine you’ve been at a company.
John Jantsch (21:30): I actually, I actually play a little game, you know, when people that to connect to me, I go, okay, you know, $2 this person connects me or, you know, sells me something in two days or less. So sorry about that.
Pamela Slim (21:43): But so, you know, but just if, you know, by converse, if I know I just recently had a speaking engagement at GoDaddy’s conference, uh, last week or the week before. And it was so wonderful when somebody reached out and they’re like, oh, I’m listening to your session right now. Thank you so much for sharing that. And it just, it’s such a natural thing. I just, it makes me feel so good to connect and begin to have a natural relationship. So it’s true. Not every business needs to use social media. I’ve known people who are very successful without it, but I think a lot of the reason people hate it so much is never really having a framework in which to utilize it effectively. Yeah.
John Jantsch (22:17): And I think I bear some of the blame for this the early days, it was about connecting and having lots of followers and having, and going out there and seeing it as a free place to broadcast to some more. And so I think what happened was so many people viewed it as that kind of tool. And you know what you’re talking about, the real deep connections, those take time, you can’t broadcast those. And I think though, for a lot of people, while a lot of people are getting a lot of value out of it, I think a lot of people, the promise of it being like it’s free way to reach the world is what’s disillusioned a lot of people of course, because it just, it just isn’t that
Pamela Slim (22:54): I agree. It has to be one part of a bigger strategy, or if you don’t use it, you need to have some other really effective strategies in place.
John Jantsch (23:02): So you mentioned K, um, T maybe for those obviously who are new to your work, you want to talk a little bit about that sort of unique model that you’ve developed.
Pamela Slim (23:14): Yeah. So we have a, we call it the calf main street learning lab, which is here smack dab in the middle of main street in Mesa, Arizona, and really by day it’s my office as a business coach where I coach people all over the place. And my husband’s when he works with, with his patients. Um, but the evenings and the weekends, of course, in non COVID times, it is a gathering spot for many, especially black indigenous folks of color entrepreneurs to really test and try different ideas to teach workshops, to, to, you know, pilot programs and what we found. It’s been interesting in the research of just starting of knowing, Hey, this is a place we know we want to have a presence, especially to be highlighting the leadership of native entrepreneurs. Knowing, seeing as my husband has one and we didn’t see much representation whatsoever in the media.
Pamela Slim (24:01): But the other thing that we’ve really learned with more research with places like the Brookings Institute, is it in these innovation districts like we have here in Mesa, it’s actually essential to have a place for people to test and try different ideas. And for me, in my profession as a business coach and a writer and somebody who works with brands that support small businesses, I feel so lucky that literally if I opened my door, you know, right now I would have such an interesting collection of people who had walked through the door and asked their questions. I have a deep relationship with all of my other main street businesses. And so I feel like I get just an up close and personal look at this intersection between online business and main street businesses, which drive so much of our economy everywhere.
John Jantsch (24:47): Yeah. Awesome. So, uh, depending upon when you’re listening to this, the book will be in stores everywhere in the middle of November or so. Uh, but, uh, you’ve also got a, you’ve got a superclass, you’ve got some other things that obviously is a companion. So you want to tell people about where they can find those and find out more about the work you’re doing.
Pamela Slim (25:06): That’s right. So currently we have a pub date of November 3rd, and as part of that celebration, I’ll be doing, I call it a superclass as opposed to a masterclass, partly just to be a little bit different and partly because I love to teach and make things fun. But if you do sign up, uh, before the book comes out right before the book comes out and pre-order, um, we’ll do a two and a half hour, very hands-on action packed, 12 month marketing planning session using a lot of the methods in the book. And also you can get a workbook that has all the exercises in the book. I am a coach, I’m really an author practitioner. So every chapter has exercises and we have some tools for you to use as well. And all of that, you can find it Pamela slim.com forward slash the widest net. Oh,
John Jantsch (25:51): Okay. Well, Pam was great catching up with you and, uh, appreciate you dropping by the duct tape marketing podcast. And hopefully we’ll run into you, uh, would be, uh, now that we’re starting to slowly get back.
Pamela Slim (26:02): Sounds good, John. Thanks for having me.
John Jantsch (26:05): All right. So that wraps up another episode. I want to thank you so much for tuning in and, you know, we love those reviews and comments. And just generally tell me what you think also did you know that you could offer the duct tape marketing system, our system to your clients, and build a complete marketing consulting coaching business, or maybe level up an agency with some additional services. That’s right. Check out the duct tape marketing consultant network. You can find it at ducttapemarketing.com and just scroll down a little and find that offer our system to your clients tab.
Sign up to receive email updates
Enter your name and email address below and I’ll send you periodic updates about the podcast.
This episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by the HubSpot Podcast Network.