A big hello from Portland, Oregon. Welcome to another episode of B2B Marketing & More. My guest today is Ramon Ray. Ramon is the founder of SmartHustle.com, host of Breakfast With Champions, author and global speaker. Ramon is also a successful entrepreneur; he started four companies and sold two of them.
Today we talk about how to smart hustle your way to business growth.
In this episode:
- How to smart hustle and what does it mean for business?
- How smart hustle helps business growth?
- What are the elements of smart hustle?
- When should business owners apply hustle for business growth?
- What is the business impact of smart hustle?
- How smart hustle helps decision making and productivity?
- How to incorporate customer experience and content marketing to scale business?
- With marketing focus on the top of the funnel, how to quantify the contribution to sales?
- How to build a martech stack to support smart hustle?
Quotes from the episode:
“Work smarter, not harder. We’ve heard that many times before, but I think it’s just the aspect of the strategy. How can I connect the dots? That’s part of the smart hustle. I do this; somebody does that; how can we either work together or how can I support them? How can I add value to them?”
By not deciding, the decision is made for us. Being thoughtful, learning how to say no, we can make some decisions, being proactive about the decision is to have some control.”
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To expand your knowledge about how to smart hustle your business growth, check out some of my previous podcast episodes, blog post, and videos.
A big hello from Portland, Oregon. Welcome to another episode of B2B Marketing & More. I have a fascinating guest: Ramon Ray. I met Ramon four or five years ago at South by Southwest. And then we got connected on social media channels, but we never met in person until, well, now we are still not meeting in person!
Ramon’s with me on Zoom, and he’s a founder of SmartHustle.com. And I’m going to ask him how to hustle intelligently. He’s an author, writer and event producer. By the way, he started four companies and sold two of them. All right! So he deserves to have a conversation with us. So Ramon, welcome to my show.
Ramon Ray: Hey Pam, thanks for having me here and good to reconnect with you after so many years. But I’m so glad you’re still in the flow and groove of what you do, and I am, as well. So it’s an honor to be here and share this time with you and your community. So thank you, Pam. I appreciate it.
Pam Didner: Thank you so much. And you talking about the smart hustle, and I would like to ask you, and I need that as well: how do we hustle smartly? I know that’s probably not the right adjective, but can you give us a definition of that?
Ramon Ray: Everybody, Pam, I think we get it’s a given, except a few people are in the hustle. They work hard. All of us try to wake up early. We do everything we can; we’re always working, working, working. But I think the concept of smart hustle, you know, what do they say? Work smarter, not harder. Yeah. We’ve heard that many times before, but I think it’s just the aspect of the strategy. How can I connect the dots?
You and I had a conversation offline before we came on. That’s part of the smart hustle. Okay. I do this; somebody does that; how can we either work together or how can I support them? How can I add value to them? You know, I have a spoon, they have a teabag, huh? Let’s find somebody that has water.
Pam Didner: Or a cup, for that matter (both laugh).
Ramon Ray: I think we should do the cup first before we find the water yet. Let’s find the cup first. But my point being, that’s the smart, smart hustle where my passion is inspiring and educating because owners to grow their businesses. And of course, as you know, working with B2B brands. So that’s what it means. It means to not just work harder, but kind of look for opportunities, create your serendipity. It means having an attitude of service to others and knowing that I will do the same by serving others and adding value to them.
Pam Didner: Yes. So I liked that in terms of connecting the dots, especially when you network with someone or meet someone or even just, you know, ex-colleagues and then see what you can do to help them or help each other. I think that’s the bottom line. That way you are talking about is that.
Ramon Ray: Correct. And that’s networking. Right? I found that the big part of my smart hustle has been the power of networking. And networking is not always “here’s my business card. Give me your business card.” No, that’s, that’s transactional idiocy. But it’s more so, “okay, let me listen.” Going back to our example: “Pam said spoon, she said teabag, she said water, but she didn’t mention cup yet. You know what? I have three cups.” It’s silly, but you people understand that’s the listening. How can I add value? And then, you know what, maybe we can work together or loosely, whatever that may mean.
Pam Didner: Yeah. And the way I look at the hustle, I tend to look at it from a different perspective in terms of how can I be productive? For example, um, you know, Tim Ferris has a book, like four work hours per week, something to that extent. And, um, even with that, I read that book, you know, years ago, even with that, smart hustle requires a lot of thinking.
Like I work all the time, 24-7, but if I want to scale back, I need to think through what are the things I don’t want to do. And I have to prioritize like a hardcore prioritization. And then, I also have to think through how I can get other people to help me. So from my perspective, small hustling is not that easy to do. And if you want to be productive, what is your thought on that?
Ramon Ray: No. I agree with you a hundred per cent, and I think it’s a key thing that it does take, especially depending on where you’re at. It’s that aspect of being scrappy. Yes. Being scrappy. But if you’re just a scrappy, you’ll always be kind of low level. You’ll always be fighting for survival.
Pam Didner: You only focus on technical.
Ramon Ray: Yes. And fighting, fighting. You want to be scrappy. You want to be nimble, but you want to be that scrappiness where it’s always a 10x, always a plus one — a scrappiness, but with thought. And I think you said that best and that’s the key. Let me consider how I can do something. Yes. But always understand leverage. And not leverage in a bad way. I think, to your point, you’re right. Let me think. “Okay. I need to do this action today. Is it worth me spending time with this?” And to underline what you said, Pam, saying no to things is important, as well.
You can’t, I mean – I’m pulled [I’m sure you are] a thousand different ways. I’m asked to do free things, free things or not. So every moment is an evaluation. “Okay. Is this the best use of my time? Or should I just do this? Because this person’s awesome, and I want to just serve them.” That’s fine too. But at least that you went into it thinking.
It’s kind of like them, as I tell when I’m out with my friends, I’ll just say, when my wife and were like “Honey, where do you want to eat at?” “Well, you know, I don’t know. I don’t know.” And we’re driving, and I’m like, “Sweetheart, we need to decide soon because, in two minutes, there are no more restaurants.” So by not deciding, the decision is made for us. That was a lot packed in there, but being thoughtful, learning how to say no, and as best we can make some decision, uh, proactive about it so you can have some control of that.
Pam Didner: Yeah, I do agree. I do agree with that specifically. And, um, you know, I’ve been hustling just like you, both of us are working for ourselves and, uh, we have our own company. Every moment, we have to decide how we want to use that specific hour or the time.
And. I always feel like I’m trying to do too much, you know. For example, as a content marketer, I started writing a blog and then I would like, “oh, I need to try a different format.” So I launched my YouTube channel. And I was like, “oh my God, I need to understand a little bit about podcasts and launch a podcast. All of a sudden, I have three different formats of content I need to produce. And I think over a period of time. I end up overwhelmed. (And I started a webinar, as well).
When 2021 started, I gave myself a goal: what things I can pare down that I should not do. And I also consider, what is the business impact if I’m not doing that. Right? The webinar was very good for gathering many leads, but I could not spend time nurturing those leads. Right. So I decided, you know what, maybe I should not get more leads. Maybe I should just focus on the existing pipelines that I have and continue to grow that. So a couple of months ago, I decided not to do webinars anymore. So I understand.
Ramon Ray: What I like about that was the aspect of deciding. Seth Godin says this quite a bit–to what extent do you want to scale? I think this is important because I’ve been on a similar journey to learn what I can do? Now, I have a team of five, but I also have to think about what I want people to do at my size that’s revenue-generating because both of us do content for ourselves. Ironically, Pam, I’ve taken back a lot of the content I do for editorial. Now for our clients, I’ve expanded enough that I can have other people do it. But for myself, I realized, you know what, me paying somebody even 500 a month, a thousand a month to promote Ramon since I don’t have a clear dot to the revenue.
Pam Didner: To connect to the revenue or the next stage! How are you going to nurture it? Does that make sense doing it?
Ramon Ray: Correct. I’m like, you know what? I think this is, even though I’m the cheapest person, for this stage, it’s better that I just do a lot of that from that’s my brand myself unless I can prove, “oh, every time Ramon does a silly video, it generates $10,000.” That’s another story, but I don’t have that proof yet. So I agree with your journey, and I think that’s the smartness of it. What should I be doing? What should I delegate to others? Or what should I not do this time? Or never? Smart.
Pam Didner: So, you know, speaking of growing revenue, do you have a framework that you can help either small business owners or the marketing professional in terms of what they should do to grow revenue–either, you know, through marketing efforts or working with sales or working stuff on their own?
Ramon Ray: Yeah, for sure. And it’s probably not as smart as a framework as you can do. However, from my limited experience, I would talk to the small business owners and talk to many of your audience–those were the B2B marketers leveraging the power of content. Here’s what I’ve seen in my experience. I think that a) What is it that your audience wants? That one’s important.
Pam Didner: You have to understand your audience well and define your audience. I 100% agree with that. Do you know how many small business owners I talk to from time to time, or do they come to me and ask specific questions? I always ask, “who is your target audience?” And, uh, I would say 85% of them cannot articulate that very well. They try to serve everybody.
Ramon Ray: Something like “we’re targeting female founders” is a favorite one I hear. And I get it. I understand it. But female founders, can you at least tell me, are the South American? Are they US-based? Are they in retail, or are they in manufacturing? At least that, so I think who are you serving?
But I also think the hard thing is to break through the noise because everybody is doing content. Pam’s doing it. Ramon is doing it. New York Times is doing it. Inc Magazine is doing it. So I think that that’s point number two, which is where are you going to hone in on that you do best; that’s two.
And I think three Pam now what’s that funnel that nurturing that you can do to educate them until going directly to sales until they’re ready to make a purchase? And I think that’s the best we can do to build up that fan base–to build up that funnel of people who see you as a thought leader.
Of course, direct sales is important, but I think those were in the content game–oh, and I must say Pam as well—please, content should be interesting. I’m not saying if you’re, if you’re dealing with children who have cancer, there, you may not want to have it “ha ha ha.” But for our tech people, right? Sometimes they’re so straight-laced. They’re so serious. They’re so on-brand it’s boring!
Pam Didner: It’s hard for us B2B marketers to break out of that mould. I’m guilty, but I always advise my client if you cannot make it interesting. Of course, you need a good writer to make that happen. And the one thing is to make it relevant, make it useful. You know, don’t do self-serving content at a minimal, but make it relevant to your target audience. Even you just do a show and tell about your product. Well, you know what? You don’t have a creative or funny way to say it, but tailor that communication or the contents to address the audience’s pain points and challenges.
Ramon Ray: Yes. And Pam remembers the customer. So many of the brands I work with have amazing customers, but I think they have a challenge either finding them, identifying them, and getting permission to use their stuff.
Pam Didner: Yeah. Getting the permission to actually use the logo or even have a case study created.
Ramon Ray: And in the case study, even that, have it a little lose it’s okay to say, you know, to have fun with it. But you’re right. I think the customers, that’s the story, shine a light on them. And then we as businesses, we look less at the product to some degree we do, but oh, I’m an accountant, they’re an accountant. They use their product to grow 10%. Let me have a look at it. So I think that’s kind of some way to consider that as well.
Pam Didner: Yeah. So creating interesting content is always incredibly challenging. And another thing that comes to play in terms of content is creation. And I also have come to realize that on the B2B side, if you want to create a creative campaign and try to break through the clutter – it takes time. It does take time to plan in it, to also execute it. And the problem is marketers. We don’t have. Like we are always under the press deadline. “We need to get the blog done. What? We need to turn it in around in 24 hours so legal can review it and approve it. Goddammit!”
Ramon Ray: Legal! Pam, legal! Always slowing us down, Pam! Continue, but I just have to say legal people (sighs). Oh, go ahead. Go ahead.
Pam Didner: Yeah, but because of that, I think a lot of time on the B2B side, our hand are tied. Like there are so many review processes that you have to go through. You know, even you have a creative idea, sometimes you have to pare that down a whole lot more, just in reality that your management might have an issue, your salespeople might have an issue, your PR team. Or the legal team might have something to say.
So I understand where you’re coming from. At the same time, I also understand the reality on the B2B side, especially enterprise. There are just many factors they have to take into account before they can finalize the content.
By the time that so many people approved it, all of a sudden, the content is not fun anymore (laughs).
Ramon Ray: Yeah. So, but I dunno, Pam, there seems like a business opportunity for you, Pam. What we, you know, fun. We use that word, of course, liberally, you know, it didn’t have to be a comedian. But Pam, I think that is one thing I’m, you’re on the marketing end as I am of all these things– telephone services, cable services, computer services, all the stuff that we use as consumers or B2B, even airlines, whatever. And a lot of it is just. Blah. So at the same, so that’s one, I think, the way anybody is willing to kind of break through the clutter. They have to be cautious. There are so many ways to offend people nowadays, you know, but it’s just, that is a key point.
Pam Didner: I agree. Yeah, exactly to me is just like, there’s a fine line that B2B marketers, they have to walk. Yeah. And I am trying to find that fine line. From my perspective, I always tell my clients, at a minimum, can you address your target audience’s pain points and challenges? Start it from that. That should be the very beginning, you know? And then, from there, how far can you take it? That’s a creative discussion.
Working with marketing in terms of creating the content and also grow revenue is very hard for marketing. Especially when you do top of the funnel marketing outreach to quantify or determine the conversion or impact on your sales contribution. Do you have any suggestions in terms of what we should do? If marketing people all focus on the top of the funnel, how do they quantify their contribution to sales?
Ramon Ray: It’s very tough, Pam, extremely tough. But I think the best thing that could be done – and many people try this – is to have the tightest tracking you can. I think that’s what I’ve learned from some of the best companies. A webinar just by itself is okay. But I mean, and it’s a pain because influencers like me, right? We don’t want to use your tracking all the time. We just throw up and say, “go to grass.com”, and you’re like, “no, Ramon go to grass.com/question mark slash this.”
So it’s hard, but that’s the best way. Because if you’re able to track every piece of content you put out, your smart analytics team can then say, oh, this went to it. But here’s the other thing that happens. And I’m getting a little out of my comfort zone, but I know you can help me with this. The thing about the last attribution, I worked for a software company once, and it made me so pissed off Pam because I’d be like metaphorically. I’d be like, “wait a minute. I went to the webinar and what the appetite I did Ramon does, but then six months ago—”
Pam Didner: –at the last attribution. But you are the first attribution people come in to, and you’re not getting credit for that.
Ramon Ray: Yes! “You’re giving it to Don because he closed the sale, but you forgot what we did six months ago, three months ago, two years ago.” And I know who can say. So I think that’s the thing with these campaigns. Payment’s hard, but I do know one thing, I think for sure, we know, year to year, quarter to quarter if you see your social engagement higher; year to year, quarter to quarter, you see more fans, more followers, more Facebook, more watch time. I know marketers won’t like it; you want to see direct proof. But that is some indicator that people are paying attention if that makes sense.
And I’ll give credit – again, if I have competing clients, forgive me, but credit where credit is due – HubSpot years ago, they were the leaders in marketing automation. I think many of us – even I hadn’t known they were a software company, because they were the leaders in the SEO website tracking and things like this. So giving them credit, HubSpot is an example of using a massive amount of content for that. So I got to give them greatly.
Pam Didner: Yes. I agree with you. And, um, I think the couple of things that you said resonate with me tremendously, and I’ve been preaching, but I’m using slightly different terminology. So you mentioned that if you want to try and get, especially top of the funnel and the purchasing cycle is very long, you need to make sure that you have a very tight tracking method or the process. The term I’ve been using is “backend integration.” Suppose you want to track it from the top. When people come to your website or even when they register for your webinar from the very beginning. If you want to have the tracking mechanism in place, you need to make sure your marketing automation tools are very much connected with a CRM or any other tools that you are using for different marketing channels. Those tools need to be somehow connected; otherwise, it has no way to track them. And that’s very, very hard.
I think many marketers feel sure that they cannot do that very tight tracking. To do that, their back end needs to be integrated. It’s about the MarTech stack. How you build that stack and how they are all talking to each other.
Ramon Ray: For sure. And Pam, can I add one more thing? I just wanna add the value of things looking good. Another thing that I see some marketers make is the mistake of, and I want to be careful calling out tools here cause I know many competing people listen, but I’ll just call out a tool because it’s so famous Zoom. Many marketers use Zoom for their webinars and things, but I noticed they leave the default. So one tip is when people go there, put images, put graphics, put your logo, make it look pretty. It sounds weird, but I’ve been to many webinars, Pam, where they just kind of say, “we’re having a webinar with our executive,” but they don’t put the guy or the gal’s face. They don’t take the time to make it look good. So I just wanted to add that, that when you’re doing something like that, make it look legit, make it look good.
Pam Didner: Yeah. When you create a registration page, you need to. It doesn’t matter if it’s on the Zoom on the landing page; attention to detail. Right? Use the opportunity to promote your brand and use the opportunity to have a logo there, you know, to get people’s attention or even have the image of your events. I got it. Yeah, you’re right.
Ramon Ray: When people have me and Pam for the next webinar, we charged them what Pam, a hundred thousand dollars or so? (Pam laughs)
Pam Didner: You charge them $100,000. I charged them, I don’t know, 50 bucks.
Ramon Ray: Have our faces there to cause human face. That’s just a small tip. But I’ve seen too many times people either afraid or too cautious of that. But GAP does it; Nike does it. Yeah. It’s the face.
Pam Didner: So, you know, what you are talking about, I think there’s another term that I use on the B2B world is your “customer experience.” Right. If you’re going to promote your webinar and when you are promoting on social media channels, make sure your copy is very compelling. Make sure your image is great. But when they register, come to your website, make sure they get exactly the coherent, seamless experience. Then you’ll have exactly a similar logo and image, and when they log in to listen to your webinar, provide a similar with a seamless experience, as well.
Yeah, I hear you. So there’s a couple of things I want to just summarize, uh, before I let you go. There’s one thing that you mentioned. In terms of B2B, marketers can leverage the content to drive traffic to the website, especially for long purchasing cycles. Once you do that, you need to find a way to nurture them. Right. Not just like, okay, get them and get them into your database, and you let it go. And then you move on to the next campaigns.
Try to understand your audience and then find a weight and a single focus in building your nurturing campaign to nurture them to the point that they can be qualified as a lead. And I liked that a lot. And I think that is one thing that marketers tend to overlook, including myself. We like to get a lot of leads, but we are not necessarily spending time trying to nurture them. So I liked that. And that’s one of my biggest takeaways from talking with you.
And also, uh, deliver that seamless customer experience– it doesn’t matter what kind of promotion you aren’t doing, just make sure you pay attention to the entrance of a customer experience. Awesome. Awesome. Anything that you want to add?
Ramon Ray: Yeah. Just to say, Pam, it’s, it’s been a delight to meet you and see you soar and work with you. I’m so excited we can get reconnected today. And I just encourage my speciality, of course, is the small business. B2B is a big category, but for the smaller businesses in my region. So I encourage the marketers to listen to you. Small business is different than, of course, the enterprise. You sell one thing, and you get money. We’re very fragmented, but I think it’s a great market, and we, small business owners, need you. We need the products and services you’re providing. So, Pam, it’s been great being on your podcast and thanks for letting me shine with you today. Thank you.
Pam Didner: Yes. Yes. So how can people find you?
Ramon Ray: Best way is Ramon ray.com R A M O N R A Y.com. Let me know how I can serve you or team up with Pam and do something together. We’re here to serve you.
Pam Didner: I would love that. So, this is fantastic. It’s wonderful talking to you, Ramon. I hope that we will see each other soon, like in person.
Ramon Ray: I hope so, indeed. Let’s make it happen.
Pam Didner: All right. Take care.