The Transcript Is Auto-Generated And May Contain Grammar And Spelling Errors
You’re listening to biz ninja entrepreneur radio. This show was created for entrepreneurs, business owners, marketers and dreamers who want to learn from the experts of today and drastically shortcut their own success to build a business that supports their dream lifestyle. Since 2011, Tyler Jorgensen has been interviewing business thought leaders from around the world, a serial entrepreneur himself, Tyler also shares his personal insights into what’s working in business today. Welcome to biz Ninja, entrepreneur radio.
Tyler Jorgenson 0:44
Welcome out to biz ninja entrepreneur, radio. I’m your host, Tyler Jorgensen. And today we have Howard Tiersky, who is the CEO of from the digital transformation agency and the author of winning digital customers, the antidote to irrelevance. And I’m really excited to talk about that, just because that sounds amazing. He’s also the host of the winning digital customers podcast. And one of the funniest guys in podcast is what I’m hearing. But so welcome to the show. super glad to have you here, Howard. Well, thank you so much for having me, Tyler. I’ll try to be funny. I love to start the show with a very like Genesis question, right? When was the moment that you first realized that you were an entrepreneur?
Howard Tiersky 1:28
You know, I was probably after I was sort of running my business for about eight years,
Tyler Jorgenson 1:32
something like that. In so that’s so fascinating. I’ve been talking. I’ve been doing this question a long time. And some it’s one or the other. It’s either Oh, I knew when I was I knew when I was five, right? Or, Oh, you know what I started, I became a professional. And then I started my own company. And then I realized I was, you know, it was kind of like the other way. So, yeah, walk us through your journey a little bit. I mean, you were running a company for quite a while before, and Have you always been in the digital space or kind of give us your background a bit,
Howard Tiersky 2:03
I have been in the digital space for pretty much my entire professional career. I started off doing digital design work. Before there was a lot of interactive type digital work. And then I was doing in the early days, things like CD ROMs. And other kinds of interactive touchscreen, kiosk screens and things like that before we really had a commercialized internet. And so I was sort of there at the beginning, when when companies started to need to put their first web site live and start to build e commerce capabilities before there was a ton of consumer adoption. And I’ve been doing it well, you know, ever since I’ve been on that journey for decades now. And yeah, I think, you know, if you’d have asked me, I didn’t really identify with the idea of being an entrepreneur, I didn’t set out to say I want to be an entrepreneur, I wanted to create great customer experiences, I wanted to utilize technology to build business, I was focused on the sort of art, if you will, of the outcome I was trying to get to. And so for me, becoming an entrepreneur was just a means to an end. It wasn’t like I’m someone says, Oh, I want to be an entrepreneur, what kind of business cycle it’s not at all I was in this space, because I was actually doing the same kind of work for a large consulting company. So the first 15 years of my career, I was working with Ernst young. And then as young consulting practice got bought by Capgemini. So I sort of wind up being with a couple of companies, but it was really one sort of continuous employment, if you will, doing work being brought into I mean, what’s amazing about you work for a giant company like that, and you get access to all kinds of Fortune 1000 brands who need help, and you’re sort of they’re your, they’re your clients already. Right. So I had a tremendous opportunity, tremendous schooling in, in a time when there were no experts, because digital world is being invented as we went along. So there was no one who can come along and said, I have 10 years experience. I had six months experience in 1994. someone’s like, like, God, how did you get so much experience? Because it was all brand new. So um, so I, you know, I wanted working for just just scores and scores of large companies, helping them consider how digital impacted their business and what they should do and what steps they should take and helping them with that. So that was really my, my journey of learning. And after 15 or so years of working in that environment. I, I had some goals that made it make more sense to continue to do what I was doing as an independent company rather than as part of a large, global company. But it was really a continuation of the mission that I was on. It was not about my mission.
Tyler Jorgenson 4:37
Yeah, that makes a ton of sense. And I mean, I think that’s really common from someone who comes from more of an art perspective, like you said, You wanted to create great customer experiences, you were attached to the art of the outcome, right, you really just wanted to create something, which at its heart, is the heart of an entrepreneur. They see a better way to do so. Don’t think and, and I think sometimes we think that the only way to be an entrepreneur is to be a business owner. I disagree. I think sometimes entrepreneurs are intrapreneurs they work within a company. And you got to, it sounds like you hit a fork in the road where the only natural next step was for you to take that art into the point of and do it under your own agency and consulting firm. And what was this? What was the scariest part about going out on your own? When you first made that leap?
Howard Tiersky 5:26
You know, um, I didn’t really find anything scary about it. Be honest. Because my wife found it scary
Tyler Jorgenson 5:36
that I’m like, it’s got to be there’s the word somebody in that equation. Yeah, was terrifying.
Howard Tiersky 5:41
I mean, for me, my mindset was like, Okay, look, I’ve been working for big companies for a long time I left with one client, when I left, I knew I had one initial project, one six week project, right? That was 14 years ago. So it certainly was no guarantee of another successful business. But I also knew that it didn’t work out, I knew that I could knock back on the door of any one of the company that I left, or any one of a dozen competitors. And I probably get a job pretty quickly. So I really didn’t feel like I was risking that much. And what’s cool, is the kind of business that I’m in doing, you know, being a digital agency, providing consulting services requires very little capital. So it’s not like I invested $10 million in building a factory, and then oh, would it work out? Absolutely. I was just me and selling some projects, and then hiring some people to do those projects, but knowing that clients can pay the money back, but I can pay the people. And that’s, you know, the downside of the kind of business that I’m in is that it scales very linearly, right? If I want to make 10 times more revenue, I probably hire nearly 10 times more people based on this kind of a service business. Whereas if you’re a software company, you can hire 10 people and build an app that a million people want, you can 10 extra revenue without substantially increasing costs at all, eventually, right? The downside of my business is that you can’t use scale linearly, the upside of my business is that you can start at zero and you can scale at whatever rate you want, and you don’t have a whole bunch of money into building something hoping that it will be successful, you can just yeah, invest as you go, and kind of bootstrap it. And that’s really what I did.
Tyler Jorgenson 7:10
Agencies are really fascinating that in that way, is that their margins aren’t a high, it’s not a high margin business. But it’s a very scalable business in terms of you don’t have to make huge leaps in infrastructure and other costs. Now I’m gonna, we’re gonna fast forward a little bit through that 15 year journey to becoming a Wall Street Journal bestseller with winning digital customers, the antidote to irrelevance. Before we go into the book, why? Why did we decide that now is the time to write a book?
Howard Tiersky 7:41
No, I guess I would say for two reasons. And one of them is maybe the more cliche, you know, I just, I felt like I had a lot of content, I’d written a lot of articles, many 100 plus articles. And I really enjoyed sharing what I’ve, what I’ve learned through my career, because I’ve worked with so many companies on so many projects, you start to see patterns over time, start to learn what works, what doesn’t work. So, you know, I was really enthusiastic about creating something goes back to that artists in me, I guess, again, you know, creating something that would really, really help people because, of course, the percentage world that are my clients, it’s tiny compared to all the people that are trying to undergo digital transformation. So I was a busy ask you about making that contribution. But I’ll also be frank and say that, you know, in my business, I have to prioritize everything I do there a lot of things that I would like to do that might seem fun and thrilling. But if they don’t make sense from a business perspective, unless they’re really, really fun, they probably don’t happen. And I’ll be you know, Frank, writing a book is fun, but it’s that bad. Compared to say, taking a cruise, you know,
Tyler Jorgenson 8:41
right. It’s really fun to see it’s completed.
Howard Tiersky 8:43
Right? Right, exactly. So So, you know, I also really felt fit into my business. I mean, in my business, one of the things that can be difficult to differentiate when you’re a digital agency, because there’s a lot of digital agencies, and you know, we’re 100 person company, we’re not one of the top five, scale size wise, I’d like to say we’re one of the best. But you know, in all seriousness, I mean, I mean, we compete in a landscape of, I don’t know, hundreds and hundreds of companies of our size, probably. And so how do you break through, and that’s difficult, because a lot of companies say a lot of the same things about themselves. And a lot of companies have won awards and work with big clients now lessons, like like we have, but I felt that a book and really positioning myself as more of an industry thought leader made sense from a business perspective. So, you know, a big part of the strategy was to be perfectly transparent. write a book, but not just write a book, right? And Wall Street Journal, best selling book, yeah. And get that, you know, get that level of, you know, get people talking about the book and writing reviews of the book, and, and now all of a sudden, I have more external validation. So when someone says, Well, why should we hire these guys? Part of it is, well, you know, they kind of wrote the book on digital transformation, right? And not just a book because these days anybody can publish a book on Amazon, you know, but a book that is been widely acknowledged and recognized as being somewhat authoritative right now. claim my book. It’s like the ultimate book only because obviously, there’s many great books on the topic. But, you know, if you’re one of the key leading books in the space, then I think that gives you an edge when you’re trying to convince somebody that they should leverage your expertise for their digital transformation versus any one of the 20 other companies that,
Tyler Jorgenson 10:18
you know, could all makes perfect sense. So the book covers, like, why every business that is serving digital customers, right things that they need to know. And, you know, on your sales page, you have three things that I really want to address, I hope we have a little bit of time to go into each one. One is why legacy brands fail. I think this is fascinating. And then the other one is the one I want to go to first, the secret formula, which I love anything that like secret driven, right, the three primary factors that earn your customers love and loyalty. I think loyalty is such a hot topic, and especially in today’s shopping landscape where customer loyalty isn’t like people will switch brands a lot faster than they would 20 years ago, 20 years ago, somebody was a coke lover, they were a coke lover. That’s all they bought. And today they’ll buy whatever is on sale. Right? So things are changing. It’s this shifting landscape there. So talk to us about those three factors that earned customers love and loyalty?
Howard Tiersky 11:17
Well, you know, I would say, people are very loyal to some brands. And in some categories, there’s a tendency for more loyalty and less than others. I can’t really speak to the soft drink example that you gave, but I can tell you that, um, you know, there are people who, you know, you could only pry their Mac out of their cold dead hands, right and tell them they were switching. See, right. There are people who love Disney. And they it’s like a part of their identity that they dress up as Disney characters and they go to Disney World. You know, there are people who would never wear a non Nike athletic shoe. So there’s no question that people who drive a Harley Davidson motorcycle, it would never switch to a Honda even if it were, you know, on sale. Right? So there’s no question that there are certain brands that get a lot of loyalty and love. And there are other categories like let’s say banking, for where very few people have a feeling of true loyalty towards the brand that they do business with. And you can find that in many areas. Yep. So I agree with you that there’s no question that many, many brands do not really earn true love from their customers. And those that do, you can see spectacular results. I mean, look at 500% increase their stock price over five years with Disney, able to launch Disney plus new streaming service that be half the size, Netflix paid subscribers in three months after they launched that service. This is what you can do when you are a brand that is so loved by because of that one of the things that I’ve been doing for many years is talking to my clients about once a customer loves. And then of course, it begs the question will How do you get it? And like you say, What’s, what’s the secret? Right. So I see the Russell Brunson books. I think that’s what that is on the behind you. Right. So you know, so, you know, there’s a great market, right? What’s the secret? Right? So absolutely, yeah, I don’t know if it’s really a secret. But um, you know, this is, I spent many years of my team trying to do something in the love domain that may sound relatively not very romantic, which is, how do we reverse engineer love? What are the components that actually trigger love in the customer? Because, of course, love can seem this kind of ephemeral, spiritual thing that defies understand. But in fact, I think that’s, that’s not true. And so what we’ve really figured out is that there are three components that generate or inspire law, or at least create a very fertile ground for a customer to feel that feeling of love. And when we say love, by the way, you know, the word love can mean a lot of things. Right, you know, I love my wife, and I love Starbucks, but you know, not in the same way. Right? Correct. So, there’s my first joke,
Tyler Jorgenson 13:46
good job killing it.
Howard Tiersky 13:49
But, um, but so in this case, you know, we mean it, like some people say they love Starbucks, you know, when people have that strong emotional connection. So here’s the three things. The first foundation of that pyramid is you have to meet their needs, extremely consistent. It’s not enough to make someone love you, or make, make someone love your brand. But if you’re not consistently meeting their needs in the domain that your brand makes a promise around, whether you’re a plumber, or a bakery, or, you know, surgeon, whatever, you’re not consistent meeting your needs, you’re not going to get but it’s not sufficient. Then the second level, is to periodically or occasionally delight, the first to exceed their needs and expectations. And then that tends to make customers like if you meet their needs consistently, but sometimes do something extra that often makes customers like, but probably not enough to generate true emotional love. Because if you need the third ingredient, and the third ingredient, is to stand for something that the customer also cares about. Whether that’s someone like a Nike standing up with Black Lives Matter and Colin Kaepernick, which is a highly political statement, or it’s just someone like Apple really standing for Something in terms of helping people unleash their creativity, or someone like Ben and Jerry, caring about nature and environmentalism. So, you know, the brands that are the most accessible like like a Disney, they they stand even Walmart massively successful brands, people love Walmart, everybody works, but no brand is loved by ever. For the people that love Walmart, it’s because they love what they stand for. Whereas it’s hard to find people who love sitting, it’s hard for people to find people who love America, it doesn’t mean that they don’t patronize right means they don’t care that much about. And so that’s the recipe and I would add one more, maybe angle on that, which is sometimes people are trying to figure out like, Well, why why does that rescue? Why is it those three things that inspire love? And the answer is, because love comes from meaning if I give someone flowers, and that makes them love me more? It’s not because there’s something in rose petals, there’s not a chemical in rose petals. It’s not the flowers, it’s the meaning of the flops. In fact, the meaning could be seen differently in a given situation. Maybe I give someone flowers, and they think I’m trying to manipulate right? In that case, it doesn’t make them up. So the question is, when you do these three things for your customer, meet the needs, occasionally delight them and stand for something that they believe in, as well as what is the meaning the customer creates. And think about it this way, when I consistently meet your needs. Well, of course, it makes sense that I’m trying to do that because I’m in business, and I want your money. So the fact that I’m trying to do that isn’t impressing anybody. But when I do do it, it shows that I understand I get it. Because if I didn’t get you, I wouldn’t be able to meet your needs. And then when I do something extra that delights you something that goes above and beyond what you’re paying for, that shows or at least creates meaning in the customer’s mind. They care about because they didn’t have to do that. And then when you stand for something that they also believe in, that shows that they are like, and so when you think of that those three meetings together, if you think about a person in your life, you met a person, and after talking to them for a bit, you realize, man, this person really gets me and they really seem to care about. And on top of that. They really care about some of the things same things that I also care passionately about. That’s probably somebody you’d want in your life, that’s probably somebody that you could see yourself having, whether it’s a friend or a romantic relationship. And so this combination of meanings is very powerful. So I think marketers and people doing product development and customer experience development need to always be thinking, How do I create these three meanings? Because that’s the alchemy that Tracy, I think that’s fantastic. I
Tyler Jorgenson 17:41
think, you know, you have to give a client like there’s a saying that, like, humans have two primary needs the need for certainty, which is juxtaposed with the need for variety. And the first two are exactly what you’re saying, you need to be certain that you’re delivering what you say you’re going to do. Right? Nike needs to deliver good athletic products, they can’t be crappy products that would break number one. But then they also every once in a while need to go above and beyond do something unique that isn’t what’s expected. Right to delight, I love the term delight, I think that’s so cool. And then give something bigger than the brand and the person that that everyone can rally behind whether that’s creativity or passion is phenomenal, really, really cool. In an age where so many businesses, even from brick and mortar and physical products are now have a digital component. Right? Like what is getting lost in the age of digital, that brands really need to be paying attention to, so that they can, you know, continue to win customers,
Howard Tiersky 18:42
there might not be anything getting off. I think a lot of people would potentially say, Well, is there an element of human connection? That’s law? That would be the logical theory, say, but let me ask you, do you feel when you interact with Amazon, you have this kind of nagging feeling like you know, Amazon is great, because they have all the stuff, I want the reviews, and I can order stuff, and it concerns me, but I just don’t feel I have a sense of human connection. Personally, I don’t, I don’t have that feeling. And so I think the harsh truth is that in terms of interacting with brands, in a large percentage of cases, then this is not universally true for every situation, every industry, every type of interaction, but a large percentage of cases, people care a lot less about human interaction than you might think or wants to. and the value of human interaction by a brand really is mostly to do with the degree to which it fulfills those needs we talked about before. So in some cases, if I go to Nordstrom and I meet, have a person who helps me shop and everything, I value that human interaction absolutely, but not because human interaction because it’s meeting some needs, like I need advice about what to buy. I need reassurance that I’ve got the right products right What are the leading digital brands shown? In many cases, you know, I can get that from a great digital experience as well. I mean, even look at something like Uber, which is enabling a relatively human centric experience, right? A guy pulls up a car, I get in, I’m interacting, or I’m at least being served by humans, not a digital experience. And yet, Uber enables me to not have to talk to them. And not worry, whether they know where I’m going or everything, not have to pay them, right, I can literally get in the car, say, hey, and other than that, and I can, if I don’t say, hey, that he might not give me a good read, I have to say, Hey, you know, but other than that, you know, and for most people, I don’t think I don’t hear many people be moaning. I don’t hear many people saying, Man, you know, I wish I like the old days where I had to interact the driver. So I think I think I’m really well crafted digital experiences don’t inherently have to lose anything, compared to in person experiences, and they gain a lot. They can gain efficiency, for example, they can gain scalability and cost effective.
Tyler Jorgenson 21:04
Yeah, that’s fascinating. So why do many great products
Howard Tiersky 21:09
fail? I look at that to it. One thing I often say I talked about in the book is there’s actually only one reason products fail. And that is the unforeseen. If you knew the product was going to fail, you wouldn’t have gone down that road, or you would have changed. So the first thing is the people who created the product, they failed to understand something that was gonna make that product not working. And so what is it? What might they have failed to understand? Well, usually, there’s three possible key problems that cause a product fail, and all of them fall into that overarching thing of the entrepreneur. The first is, they failed to understand what the customer really needed. So they created probably just didn’t feel the need. My daughter came home a week or so ago, from five below, you know, five below. Yep, everything’s under five. So she came home with a Bluetooth speaker. That was also a shower scrub brush. So it was a waterproof, Bluetooth speaker and scrub brush. Now, I have no idea where this sort of brainchild came from. But I’m guessing that the original price point intended for this product was not under $5. And the way one at Five Below this because somebody dumped that. But you got to ask yourself, what consumer out there was taking a shower and going No, I haven’t Bluetooth speaker that’s waterproof, there’s many of them and I have established a passion really wish these things were combined. That would be such a great product. No, it’s just not meeting any need. And a lot of products do that in different ways. They fail to really connect with something. So that’s the first reason. And then the second reason is very of execution. Sometimes you have the right idea, like the Galaxy Note seven, right? fantastic product, consumers pre ordered it like crazy, they love the battery life, you know, they love the screens they love the Faster, faster the memory, it was super expensive. Even still, it was the best selling launch of a smartphone ever, you know, until the batteries started catching on. Right. And then you know, people didn’t want it so much. And of course, Samsung had to recall and cost hundreds of millions of dollars. So write vision, but you just fail to execute it right. And there’s all kinds of I go into these in detail in the book talks about how you can make sure you do the right kind of customer research to make sure you have a product that aligns with consumer needs and how you can do the right kind of planning and cross disciplinary visioning to make sure that you’ve at least done the very best you can you understand all the different implementation problems. And then the last reason the third and final reason the products fail is lack of awareness. You can have the most fantastic product in the world. I I go on a rant in the book, which I won’t try to repeat here about phrase, if you build a better mousetrap, the world will beat a path to your door. Because, I mean, if you think about the mouse traps that most of us buy, there is a crappy product.
Tyler Jorgenson 24:00
I’m sorry, I swear on your podcast crappy is okay. Yeah. Okay.
Howard Tiersky 24:04
I mean, I mean, you know, you snap your finger in it, you have to put cheese and or something and it gets tax bogs. And then even when it’s successful, you’ve got like a dying score, you know, riding mouse that you’ve got to deal with, this is not a good thing. And there have been 1000s of patents or other approaches to mousetraps. And yet somehow, none of them are any better. I don’t believe it, but I do believe is that none of them have broken through to awareness, or at least very few. And so this same old product that people are aware of, is the one that’s successful. So I think, you know, making sure that that you’ve done the right you’ve taken the right steps to make sure the world knows about your product, I think a lot and what’s great in the digital age, it used to be that you had to go convince a major retail chain to carry your product or something like that in order to really get any visibility now with GoFundMe and Kickstarter and eBay and SDN on Amazon Marketplace and all these things and then marketing yourself on Instagram and tick tock and all these kinds of places. You can bring a product To market without needing the approval of the powers that be. And I think that’s so wonderful and powerful in the way the digital is really enabling so many more great products that to get that level of awareness, but it still requires that you have a strategy to use those tools to make that happen. Yeah,
Tyler Jorgenson 25:15
I completely agree. I think that’s one of the greatest things about the digital era is the ability to rapidly test and get real consumer feedback with a much shorter timeline and a much lower cost. And without having to rely on other other people. It’s amazing. The ability that we have to get real consumer feedback and what would you actually buy this instead of like a think group or a study group, or a focus group? We’ve got a couple of minutes here as we wrap up. To me, Howard, running a business being an entrepreneur all of these things is a is not worth it. If we don’t also get to live the life we dream of. What is one item on your personal bucket list that you’re going to accomplish in the next 12 months?
Howard Tiersky 25:58
Well, you know, at this point, it’s going to sound like a funny ambition but maybe go away on vacation.
Tyler Jorgenson 26:05
That didn’t used to sound so great.
Howard Tiersky 26:09
You know, someplace warm and someplace I can scuba dive, you know, I love to scuba dive and to my daughters are certified. So hopefully we can whether it’s just nearby in the Caribbean or Florida or we actually get someplace like I’d love to go to the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, which never actually do. So something like that. Go away someplace warm. We can scuba dive, get this whole COVID you’re an app. Yeah,
Tyler Jorgenson 26:34
I’m ready ready to move forward for sure. Thank you so much for coming out on the show all of my biz businesses wherever you’re listening like first before we sign off, please go to winning digital customers.com check out the book check you can get a free chapter there. You can learn more about what Howard and his team are doing at from Digital in check out his podcast winning digital customers as well wherever you listen to those or wherever you’re listening to me. And now it is your turn to go out and do something.
Thank you for tuning in to biz ninja entrepreneur radio. What you didn’t hear was one more very important question that Tyler asks each guest if you want to be a fly on the wall when the real secrets are shared, go to biz ninja.com slash VIP and get your access today. Remember to subscribe so that you don’t miss any future episodes. And our one last favor. If this episode was meaningful to you please share this podcast with a fellow entrepreneur so they can grow along with us is ninjas. It’s your turn to go out and do something