One Lever: Influencer Marketing For Greater Impact with Tom Morkes [Podcast 217]

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GTF 217 | Influencer Marketing


What would it be worth to you if you could get a proven model to have greater influence and impact in your marketing?

It’s easier than what you’ve been led to believe.  

In this interview, you’ll hear from Tom Morkes, the Founder and CEO of Insurgent Publishing and host of the iconic podcast “In The Trenches” where he’s featured notable guests like Seth Godin, Tom Ziglar, Dr. Jordan Peterson, and yours truly, among others.

Tom joins us to talk about why he’s doing what he is doing now, the mistakes entrepreneurs make when launching a business, creating influencer marketing, and the strategies you need to put into place to have a bigger impact.

Listen to the podcast here:

One Lever: Influencer Marketing For Greater Impact with Tom Morkes [Podcast 217]

We’ve got an exciting episode. What would it be worth to you if you could get a proven model to be able to go out there and create influencer marketing? In other words, being able to reach into networks of your perfect clients to save time, to save money and to be able to grow your reach, impact and audience. I won’t say effortlessly because that will hype it up too much and turn you off, but what if it was easier than you’ve been led to believe? You could do it without a lot of the hard labor that most of the experts are teaching you.

We have got a unique expert who is uniquely qualified to show you how to do this. He’s got a rare background. He comes from the military turned entrepreneur. He started from zero. He’s built multiple companies and helped thousands of people all over the world. He’s the Founder and CEO of Insurgent Publishing, the host of the iconic podcast, In The Trenches. He’s featured notable guests like Seth Godin, Tom Ziglar, Dr. Jordan Peterson and many other top influencers and thought leaders. He’s the author of The Art of Instigating and The Complete Guide to Pay What You Want Pricing and Collaborate. His name is Tom Morkes. How are you?

Dan, I’m great. It’s great to be here.

I want to dive right into it because you have such a fascinating background. We see a lot of our servicemen and women who are struggling with some serious things like suicide, depression, identity crisis and feeling isolated. You’ve been able to come out of the military, which has arguably the greatest leadership program in the world. Come out and start from zero, become an entrepreneur and go build amazing businesses, help amazing people and influence amazing groups of people and networks of people. Why are you doing what you’re doing now?

If everybody was an entrepreneur, the world would be a way better place. - Tom Morkes Click To Tweet

I suppose the answer to that is because I deeply desire to. I know that sounds strange, but I went to West Point. I spent a few years of active duty as a commissioned officer. Toward that end of those few years, about that last year in, I ended up being operations in a Special Forces unit group support role where we did a lot of the training and operations for Special Forces within that unit. I also took over as the Headquarters Company Commander. I did have company command at that time too. It was all rewarding in its own way, but it’s a brutal grind. I’d already deployed. Deployments were going to be on the horizon. When I first deployed, I was single, but at this point, I was about to get married. My life was changing. I was like, “I don’t know if this is the life that I want to live in the next many years like constant deployments.” My wife’s dad was a Naval Academy grad, so we have this good rivalry going between the Army and Navy, which is great. He did have to deploy and so she had to go through that. That wasn’t a devastatingly negative thing, but it is one of those things where I’m like, “Do I want to do that with my kids and not be around for those extended periods of times?”

I looked at what I was interested in and I’ve always been fascinated by a few different things, but business in general. I’m fascinated by the idea of the business of entrepreneurship, how it works, the idea of creating value for other people and capturing a little bit for yourself. If everybody did that, if everybody was an entrepreneur, I was doing that thing. The world would be a way better place. I’ve always loved writing and art and the creative process and thinking things through and sharing ideas. I gravitated toward it naturally. I started a blog, I started a podcast. I did it purely selfishly. I was like, “I’m going to do this because I want to get over my own personal fear of sharing ideas publicly.”

On the podcast front I was like, “I want to interview great people like you, Dan. Get them on and get inside their brains and learn what they’re doing and maybe that’ll improve me. Maybe it will rub off on me.” In a lot of ways, it has. It’s been this process that has evolved over time. Fundamentally, I had this desire to seek out some of these experiences that I had not had up to this point in my life. I’m grateful for all the things I got to do. The military was a great foundation, but the idea of being an entrepreneur or being a writer or a publisher, these are things that I feel I can make a bigger difference than my little role in the army.

You have a project you’re working on, Infostack. I saw you do a presentation and you have one of the most unique ways at looking at launching into a marketplace, hard and fast and in many ways with relative ease if you do the steps that you teach. There’s a research process to this and I want to get into Infostack. With your experience and you’ve coached a lot of different people in a lot of different levels of affiliate marketing, of influencer marketing and so on. What do you see is one of the biggest mistakes that most business owners and entrepreneurs are making when they’re launching into a new product category or launching a business?

GTF 217 | Influencer Marketing

Interview great people. Get inside their brains and learn what they’re doing.


That answer’s easy or I’ll take it from my perspective what I witnessed. There’s some confirmation bias behind this and I’m only looking at this from one angle, but I know I’ve worked on over 100 launches in the last few years for sure. In varying capacities, a lot of them I’m leading the charge or running the marketing campaign behind a lot of these. They’ve been for a multitude of different products and services across a variety of industries in health and wellness, in fitness, in business, in real estate, etc. Sometimes they’re informational products, sometimes a physical product. I’ve had a lot of experience with this. This stemmed from the fact that because I had no real skills in anything, I was like, “The one thing I can do is the hard work that other people don’t want to do. At the very least I could do that.” I couldn’t program. I don’t consider myself a fantastic copywriter, not like the great copywriters out there and all these things where I felt I was lacking, but reaching out to people and connecting with them.

After a couple of years, I was side hustling this, conducting these interviews and writing the blog posts that I was doing, I realized underneath it all that’s what I was doing. It was this relationship-based approach to connecting to the people and learning about what they were doing, but doing so in a way that’s beneficial to them. I’d write about them and share what they’re doing on my blog. I’d interview them on my podcast. I’d share their products or services with my growing list and stuff like that around social media, like anywhere where I could support somebody that I thought was doing something cool. That came back tenfold in value to me. It was never my intention to do it but I realized, “I stumbled upon a process that seems to work well.” I’ve made a system out of it that I could be more proactive of doing this exact thing that got me where I am.

The mistake that people are making is when it comes to these launches. They have an audience, that’s usually not the problem but they have an existing customer base. They do what they do. A lot of times where I come in is when they want to reach much bigger audiences. Inevitably, that means tapping into paid marketing channels or affiliate-type marketing channels, influencer marketing. That’s the mistake people make. When it comes to the influencer part of things, it’s not a cold email. That approach doesn’t work for this. There’s a relationship-based approach that requires some time and some energy and a human connection on the backend of it. Without that, there are only so many people who have platforms like you, Dan. There are only so many that have blogs and podcasts that are reaching thousands or tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of people. The numbers are smaller and smaller and each niche or each market you’re in, the greater the reach, the fewer of those individuals there are.

If it takes me a couple of years to build a relationship with somebody, I don’t even know necessarily how we’ll work together in the future. I know there are thought leaders in this space that are pushing the ideas forward. This way, they have a good grasp of it. If I could build a relationship with that person, I’m sure down the road we could work together in some capacity. When we do launches, I take that relationship-based approach. I’m usually doing it over many months and a lot of this is built up relationships over months or years. That’s where the cumulative effect of it goes. I’ve been able to expedite the process too. I like to get these launches off the ground fairly painlessly. I wouldn’t say we could do anything reasonably faster than a few months, but the window I usually enforce is three to six months.

There are little ways that you can provide value to somebody and they'll start to notice you. - Tom Morkes Click To Tweet

In three to six months, you’d be surprised how many people you can reach out to and connect with and get on board sharing something that you’ve created just because it’s the right fit for what they’re teaching. It’s the right fit for their audience, their readership, their viewers or whatever it might be. I’m always looking for that fit. If this is the thing we’re rolling out in benefits like these people in this way, who are the people who have audiences like that, have readerships like that, have groups like that? Effectively, that’s where the research component of this is. It’s compiling that and then discerning what are the appropriate partnerships here and being able to articulate that. It’s that little extra ounce of energy versus sending a blanket email to 100 people. It’s like, “Here’s this email that is a personal email to you because I thought through what you’re doing with your platform, I paid attention to it. Here’s how I thought we could work together in a way that’s beneficial.”

The mistake I see made is people are like, “I want to tap into affiliates or influencers.” Somehow it would be like a switch like paid traffic is and it’s not. If you approach it as if you can get results through cold outreach or something like that without putting in the time and effort to get to know the person, you burn bridges, honestly. That is the biggest mistake and the easiest one to correct too. Put a little bit more time and effort and pay a little bit more attention to the people that you would like to partner with. Now in the future, that’s a good thing for anybody, even if you’re not partnered with people right now. Put up the top 10, 20, 50 people that would be useful for you to know in your niche or industry.

They don’t have to be these grand gestures, but little things like writing a review on a podcast. Write a comment on a blog post. Reply to a newsletter and email. Re-tweet or share their stuff on social media. These are little ways that you can provide value to somebody and they’ll start to notice you. When you have that conversation, everything else is much easier because they already see it, “This person’s in it. They’re trying to share and promote my work or do something beneficial to me.” That’s another big aspect of this, the give and take. You don’t want to be somebody who takes. There’s a give aspect to this and as much as you can establish your platform to be something that gives back to these partners of yours, the better off you are.

If we shut it off right there as you’re reading, there’s a chock-full of wisdom. I encourage you to come back to what Tom shared with you and read it a couple of times because don’t underestimate the power of what he says. It’s about giving first. It’s relationship-oriented. It’s long-term, not short-term. It’s transformational, not transactional. At the end of the day, we’re just getting started. We’re scratching the surface on Tom’s wisdom and how he can help you. Tom, you have some amazing insights. You’ve launched this business. You’ve been a part over 100 different launches. You’ve had partnerships in some of these things. You’ve been brought into as the expert with some of these things. You launched Infostack. If you’re going to take us behind the curtain and go, “Here’s how you launch a new product or a new category or new division.” Walk us through some of the steps you would take in your process to be able to do that and have a greater chance of success.

GTF 217 | Influencer Marketing

As much as you can establish your platform to be something that gives back to your partners, the better off you are.


The premise for Infostack and this will play well into answering this question is like a reference point for it or a framework for it is effectively, we create these collections of premium eBooks, eCourses, software services, apps. Oftentimes, we’ll throw in coupons and discount codes for physical products and services even. They’re all goal-oriented. We did the ultimate program or Super Stack, it’s learning how to code. We have beginner to intermediate stuff and all the main languages and frameworks so somebody could learn a new language and improve what they’re doing. We do that in a bunch of different niches and spaces and markets across the board, health and fitness, business, marketing, programming, more hobby pursuits and stuff like that.

The point is each one of these is going into a new market. You could say my Rolodex of partners and people that in relationships that built over time, that’s useful for a thing like this. We’re also going into new spaces where I don’t necessarily have those connections in place. I haven’t been in some of these spaces for a long time or done many campaigns in them for instance. In some cases, if we get a niche, I haven’t done anything in those spaces. Whether I already have some experience in it or not, we start with a clean slate and we say, “What is the group of people that we want to serve? What’s that goal that they have? What’s the thing they want to accomplish?

The context of these stacks, they’re all goal-oriented. We’re not even talking about how. A lot of people get wrapped up in the how like, “I’ll create a course. I’ll start a coaching program. I’ll do this.” It’s like, “No. Choose a group of people. What’s that common pain or problem? What’s the common interest?” There are usually those two things common interest and common pain problem, and where you can marry those two up. We try to look for places like that and where we think, “This is a space that has a common interest and common pain problem, so self-publishing or writing. Here are all the problems or the challenges they face.” You can literally list them out or think through it, even if you don’t know an industry you could probably guess what they are, at least to start. That’s where I’ll start with my gut instinct, but then also a couple of searches like get on DuckDuckGo and do a few searches in that niche or industry on certain kinds of keywords. You’ll find what people are talking about in that space as well.

What I do is I want to find out what are those common pains or problems? Does it look like there’s an actual big enough market here for our purposes? Big enough is that one when I look for blogs and podcasts on the subject, I find at least 20 or 30 blogs, maybe fewer podcasts. Enough where I go through the first few searches on Google or whatever and I see that there are a lot of people already teaching and talking on the subject. In that way, I know I’m not going too narrow. If I went too narrow and I only find one or two bloggers on a subject. You want to go too narrow and you want to go too broad either, like if we did some generic thing that wouldn’t be useful. It’s this balancing and it’s an iterative process. I approach it iteratively at least and that’s how my brain functions. Not everybody does, but I like to outline what I think is the case. Go do research, come back, refine it and change and modify it. Go back out, do a little bit more, bring it back. That’s my process. It’s iterative.

Always look at what's working. - Tom Morkes Click To Tweet

As you do this, you start researching, “These are the people that are already in this space that already have audiences in the space, readerships, groups of customers and forums or whatever.” Then I want to look and say, “What are the things that seem to be consistent across the board? What are the types of products or services that are already on offer?” Some of these basic level market research that a lot of people don’t want to do. It’s powerful to know what’s out there for 100 different reasons, not least of which if you’re doing something like I’m describing. What I’m getting at here is this would be the foundation I would start with no matter what. The additional benefit is a lot of these people I’m going to try to turn into partners. That’s what I want. I don’t want competition, I want collaborators.

There’s so much room for that in different niches and industries. I know there is some cutthroat. I won’t even speak to those because that would be the outlier exclusion example. I could speak to it, we can dive in, but I don’t think it’d be as useful. Those people already get it. Dan, you get it. People have seen it. It’s happened. The nature of the rising tide can occur at least in certain niches and industries. It’s wild. I’m always looking and saying, “Where can I collaborate? Where can I support this person? Where can we have a mutually beneficial relationship?” Not any weird, co-dependency. I’m not just trying to get people to promote my stuff.

Even though that might be the thing we could highlight and that’s cool because I get all this hyper-targeted traffic directed towards the landing pages or lead magnets or sales pages of my choosing in a short amount of time. I can generate a fantastic volume relatively quickly for little to no money out of pocket because it’s not like paid advertising, especially if we’re doing affiliate market. It’s paid on the backend. It’s paid on performance. It’s a great strategy for people who are trying to build something lean because you don’t have to pay out of pocket to figure that out. That’s not diminishing the value of paid advertising. It’s one of the benefits of partnerships and affiliate-type marketing is that you can go from 0 to 60 much quicker because you don’t have to put that money upfront towards ad spend.

GTF 217 | Influencer Marketing

Hustle: The Power to Charge Your Life with Money, Meaning, and Momentum

The point is but you’ve put a little bit more time and effort in the organization piece and the research piece and the partnership piece. That’s how we’re doing it for Infostack and all these different campaigns. It’s what I’ve been doing that for the last few years or so for my own books, my own products, my own services and for the clients that I’ve worked with. We’ve worked on big campaigns. I know you know some of these individuals. John Lee Dumas, I worked on his campaign, The Freedom Journal, which was the number one most funded nonfiction publishing project in Kickstarter. It’s a little niche within a niche. It knocked off that number one spot.

I’ve worked on the New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestsellers with Neil Patel and his book, Hustle and a bunch of others. The point is it’s fundamentally the exact same strategy they use every time. I’m looking for partnerships. I’m looking for collaborators. That’s how I’m looking to get something off the ground quickly or even not quickly. Sometimes we’ll put in several months into these campaigns to build it up. We’re not going for speed. We’re going for volume. We want to be everywhere. We want to hit the mainstream. How do you do that? It’s like a blitzkrieg of being on every single blog or podcast that is speaking to the target market you want to get in front of. If you can get in front of ten for a launch, it’s great. If you get in front of 50, it’s great. Many times I’ve done campaigns where we’re having over 100 people emailing to their list. We have a cumulative list size of millions. That’s the reach I’m talking about. We’re not talking also about social media, fake number reach in my opinion. It’s not like, “We have a million people on Instagram,” and it’s really three and the rest are bots. These are email subscribers. I’ll validate the numbers. Based on those numbers, I can project returns because it’s consistent typically across the board.

One of the things that you have a unique outlook on these launches too is you integrate. You don’t have somebody who you work out an arrangement and create value or add value or give first two and then go, “Can you mail for me or tit for tat? Can you mail for me, I’ll mail for you?” which is unique. The other layer is you’re going to get strategic partners who you’re providing content to or they’re writing about you genuinely or you’re writing about them. I want to back that up. I want to isolate that piece because that’s unique to most launch models I’ve ever seen in many years of doing this. What would be your approach if you’re going to go to somebody who had an influencer reach, had a blog and/or was leveraging something like Medium? I think of a guy like Ben Hardy. He has a big reach, he’s writing most of his stuff, not on his own stuff although he does, his bigger reach is on Medium it seems. Ben is the fictional character in this example, but someone like that and offers a gift so our audience can have the context of what would be a way to take this approach and use it?

I’m going to break it down by saying the easiest one is to start where you’re at with what you have. What you definitely have is the time to leave a comment on a blog post or a series of blog posts. Be that person who’s commenting. There are not many of you out there. Us, writers, when we spend hours on a post, we notice that people who comment especially if they comment over time. I know a mutual friend of ours is John Corcoran. John started commenting on my blogs when I was early and I was like, “This is cool,” and we had a conversation. That was the goal. This is a good guy. He’s doing cool stuff too. I was like, “I’ll write about him because he’s a good reference of what he’s doing with the networking stuff.” The point is I noticed him because he was doing that. This is the same stuff I was doing without being aware of it subconsciously at the time, but commenting on a lot of blog posts. Paying attention to people and giving them feedback and giving them my perspective or insights on it. Even though you could go as basically saying, “It’s a great article,” but if you give a little bit more meat, people will remember you better. That’s one way, reviews on podcasts.

At the end of the day, there are only so many people who are reviewing a podcast. I’m going to notice that and then let me know. If you reviewed my podcast, take a screenshot and send it to me and I will thank you. Email me, I’ll respond to you anyway. That’s the key. That’s what’s interesting. Most people in the spaces that I’m working in, a lot of times I’m focused on the solo blogger or the solo podcaster. They might have a team around them. There’s a name associated with it. I don’t know the best way to describe that, but it’s basically an independent content creator, educator, teacher or blogger versus an agency or versus a media platform with tons of writers to make that distinction.

The last thing you should do is go to the next shiny penny. - Tom Morkes Click To Tweet

When I’m reaching out to people, I’m not going to CNN or something like that. I don’t even know if they have a comment section anymore or if they ever did. Let’s say they have a comment section, I’m not going there and leaving a comment on an article from a journalist. We’re going to the blogger’s blog, the podcaster’s podcast, the person that’s creating this. That’s the person behind the scenes. In most cases, they’re the ones seeing those reviews, seeing those comments. Let’s look at who’s out there. We don’t need to have Tony Robbins or Oprah promoting what we do. There are 100 other people that combined would get you the same reach as those two.

When people set their sights on like, “I want to go mainstream or I want to get on Oprah or something like this.” That’s not a strategy. That’s a wish. A strategy is we could find 100 partners that will cumulatively have a reach like that. That’s not impossible in this day and age. It’s surprisingly accessible. I’m telling you, even with what we’re doing with Infostack is we’re consistently reaching tens of thousands of people like hyper-targeted customers every month. Not only that, not only are we reaching them, we’re reaching them through a referral. These are people who are referring us, “You’ve got to go check out what Tom’s doing or check out what they’re doing at Infostack.” That’s the best traffic that money can buy. I’m not even buying it.

Don’t underestimate the simplicity and the power of what Tom is sharing and revealing to you. What would it be worth to be able to reach tens of thousands of people for free by giving a little first and being a little different and a little unique? Sally Hogshead says it best. “Don’t strive to be better. Strive to be different.” What if you could do both? You’re adding value, you’re giving and as a byproduct, it opens the door to a long-term relationship. If you were starting over again, what would be your approach? You’ve worked with 100 launches, many of them multimillion-dollar, seven and eight-figure launches. There’s some six and there’s probably a couple of duds in there too. None of us are perfect. You’ve had a lot of success doing this. If you were starting over again, what would be one to three strategies you’d definitely put in place to launch?

If I was forced to start over from scratch in the present, I would look at what’s working. When I started, what was effective or I don’t even know. Maybe I missed the real boat or the bandwagon on this, but it was still effective enough for me was starting the blog and starting a podcast. One of the ways I got reach quickly was through guest posting. That was some of the ways that I validated ideas for products and things like that as well. Instead of writing on my own blog where I didn’t have a lot of readers, especially when you’re starting out with none and then only a handful or 100 or a few hundred. Whatever feedback I was getting, it was too small for me to consider it actionable feedback. I don’t want to take the advice of one or two people if that was going to put me down a path where I’m writing about stuff I don’t care about for instance.

GTF 217 | Influencer Marketing

There’s nothing better than a one-to-one referral.


I basically will say that I ignored early readers, I didn’t. Whether something got a lot of positive feedback or didn’t on my blog, I wasn’t weighing that and using that as the guidance of what to write next. What I did do was use guest posting. A lot of times the influencers I’m describing are these solo bloggers or podcasters or content creators that had good engagement with their followers and there’s a personal relationship there. Anybody who had got a decent amount of comments on their blogs, it was a way I would measure that. I would say, “This is an audience that would be interested in some of the stuff I’m teaching, writing over here. I’m going to share this blog post with them.”

That was the precursor to my book, The Complete Guide to Pay What You Want Pricing and Collaborate. It was an article on Pay What You Want Pricing that I published on what is now Fizzle. It was Think Traffic at the time. It was a few years back. I ended up getting close to 100 comments but let’s say 50, but it was enough comments on this where I was like, “That’s interesting. The feedback here is polarized but in a positive way.” The people are super interested by this. I realized there are no resources out there for Pay What You Want Pricing, but I’ve been experimenting with this for a while. I’ll put my college thesis hat on and get to writing that and research it as somebody who wants to learn the subject. Sure enough, I did that. I’m still the only person that’s written about Pay What You Want Pricing even though there are plenty of companies that are using it successfully. I look at that and say zooming in on that piece.

The guest post, what a great way to validate an idea and put something out there, but also the secondary benefit. If that’s where your target audience is coming together and that’s why they’re engaging, if you could put something in front of them there, it’s great. I get the social proof of being on that platform. It’s also a referral in many ways, close to the types of referrals I was talking about previously because it’s coming from somebody else. Somebody else that this person, this reader trusts is saying, “Take a look at Tom’s blog here or this blog post that Tom Morkes wrote on our website.” It quickly builds trust much faster than if I’m going for cold traffic and SEO. That’s a world or space that I’ve never been into honestly because of that. I’ve worked with people who do it, but I’ve never organized around that.

I would say that worked well. That worked well in the past. That can still work, but I would use it as a relationship building type strategy or something like that. Not necessarily a list building strategy. With what we’re doing, that’s why I’m pulling this lever and that’s why I’m positive about influencer marketing as far as that can be defined. People who have influence, people whose ideas and recommendations matter to a lot of people, not just one person. Their referral has a multiple when it comes to the impact versus a one-to-one share because there’s nothing better than a one-to-one referral. I get a lot of my clients that way is one-to-one referrals people who’ve worked with it. You can’t beat that.

Be proactive about measuring the results that you expect before you move on to something else. - Tom Morkes Click To Tweet

The only way you could beat that is having that one person then share it with thousands of people at one time instead of one and maybe that’s even better. There are different contexts, different cases where one’s better than the other. What I’m getting at is with the products we’re selling now, the digital products, that stuff we’re going for volume partnerships like influencer marketing and partnerships. I’d say those are two big ones. Unless you have a big team, even if you have a team you’re going to find this too. It’s where do you prioritize. There are a cost and benefit to everything. I’m not saying this is the magic pill or something like that. If you have a team, you’re probably going to have to give this project to somebody to own. It’s got to be probably half of her or his full-time job honestly.

When I had employees and we’re doing this for bigger campaigns, more full-time, I had basically two people on my team doing the research and recruitment piece or initial outreach piece. Honestly, just the research piece, but also prepping all of our outreach and stuff like that. For relationships, to maintain the volume of relationships. That was an extreme case we were doing. At the time we were doing five to ten campaigns at any given time. We were doing one or two launches a month with very big platforms. A lot of people who are reading this, you’ve probably interviewed some of these people. We’ve had some big launches and stuff like that. The point is it takes a certain amount of manpower. I don’t want to ignore that. Everything you do will take a certain amount of your time, money and energy. That’s a matter of what are you going to prioritize? What are you going to choose? Which lever are you going to pull?

That’s my thinking. I was like, “I’m going to pull one lever. I know how to pull this lever. I’m going to pull this lever.” Once we get established with this and things are going well, when I have a little bit more bandwidth, then I’m going to pull the next lever. That’ll be paid traffic or something like that. I haven’t even touched sponsorships and advertising yet for this new business, but it’s such an obvious fit. It will come but I’m tapped out. I can’t do all of these things at one time and were bootstrapped. It’s not like I have a ton of funding to hire people in place. That’s my preference. I wouldn’t want to take money. It’s the way I would prefer to run things. I like being in the green all the time and making those decisions. It keeps me sharper, but that’s a personal preference.

Before I would move on to something else, I find one lever. Pull one growth lever, one marketing lever or whatever it is. Pull that thing and see how it goes. You can’t do it blindly like, “I’m going to start writing blogs.” What are your KPIs? What are you measuring here? What’s the objective here? Don’t conflate the fact that like, “There are a lot of these positive benefits with it being a benefit to your bottom line.” A lot of people will do that. I take a relationship-based approach to the partnerships, but at the same time, I have quantitative numbers I’m looking for. If I’m going to send 100 messages to 100 people, I would want 50 people of those to reply a minimum. Of those 50, I’d like to be able to get 30 of those I’d like to be yeses or maybes for more information. Those are numbers I keep in mind. I’m not doing this haphazardly.

GTF 217 | Influencer Marketing

You could learn a lot in 30 to 90 days about basically anything if you apply the right framework to it.


Everything I do, I would want to have something where there’s some quantification of what I’m doing. It doesn’t have to be a direct one-to-one. That’s a little tougher. You should at least go into it thinking that way because then you’re not wasting time or find yourself a few months from now, several months from now like, “Nothing’s working for me.” It’s like, “What have you been doing? Posting on social media, but why? What were you measuring? Why was that going to work in the first place? What were you expecting to happen? What did happen?” That’s something I think was inculcated in me in the Army was this AAR, After Action Report. We examine every mission. After every mission, we did like deployed or training. Every night when we were running resupplies in Iraq, we’d come back. Before anybody could go to sleep, we’re doing missions from midnight to 3:00 AM, 4:00 AM. It was exhausting.

We’d all gather round and we’d do an AAR. It was what we think was supposed to happen? What did happen? What can we sustain? What can we improve? You do that every night and you’re going to find that a lot of the stuff is the same every single time. That’s okay, but then it keeps you focused on this constant iterative improvement of, “These are the things we can change. This is definitely what we can improve next time. These things are sustaining. Maybe we can make them better this way.” That’s why I’m saying is when it comes to pulling one lever, do that and do it with earnest and see where it falls and then you can make an evaluation of, “Do we double down on this? Let’s double down on this and then also expand into this new area.” That’s how I’d approach everything because most people will run out of bandwidth before they will run out of opportunity.

As you’re reading, what if you put that one lever in place and that one lever being paying attention to what Tom Morkes shared with you? How would you like to be in a place where you make 100 outreaches, get 50 responses, 30 of which give you a yes, no, or a maybe definitive? What would that alone be worth to you? What I love about what you’re doing, Tom, is it’s principle-based, it’s psychology-based, it’s a long-term approach. Fads and tactics and certain strategies are going to come and they’re going to go. They’re going to fly by the wind. This is a strategy that is everlasting. It’s timeless. If you’re looking for a timeless strategy, a lever to pull that can give you a predictable, steady flow of new clients, new opportunities, new growth, new capabilities and freedom, then I encourage you to apply what Tom has been sharing with you. Make sure to grab the resources from Tom, his crew and all the things he’s up to. Tom, what’s something I should have asked you that I didn’t?

What’s my favorite thing to do outside of work? I have two kids. I’m pretty excited about that and we have a third on the way. I’m building a family and I enjoy that. I realize that’s where all my time goes now between the two. I was getting started down that path, but I find it rewarding. It gives a lot of the work I do more purpose and energy than anything had before, which is an interesting side effect.

It’s a wonderful gift and there’s no such thing as balance. Balance is BS. The integrated life and being able to set an example for our kids walking through leadership in this role as an entrepreneur is awesome. What are one to three actions steps you hope our audience take as a result of our time?

One, if what I talked to you about what resonates if it makes sense then pull that lever. If you’re also like, “That’s great but you don’t talk about levers to pull,” but I haven’t given this other thing its due course. I haven’t given it its due effort. I’ve been half-hearted about the approach to it. We’ll double down on that and do it over a period of time with a measure and with an expectation set and how are you going to measure it? It doesn’t have to be a long time. You could learn a lot in 30 to 90 days about basically anything if you apply the right framework to it. You could see if you’re getting results from the blogging or that social media or whatever lead gen strategy you might have put in place and you’re not quite happy with it. I’m not saying count those. Reevaluate and see if you’ve given them their due. If you haven’t, I would say that’s the first thing. I would even say that in spite of the fact that I’m long and pro influencer marketing in this strategy. I would say that would be the first place to start before you dive into this because the last thing you should do is go to the next shiny penny. I do that all the time and it’s a constant fight. Honestly, the first piece is if this resonated with you and it’s not a shiny penny. It’s a genuine lever you want to pull, then do it.

Do it because you’ll be blown away by the results. It’s one of those things that will continue to compound over time. If you’re at a place where you experiment with some of the things that you’re not sure if they’ve worked or the answer is no but when you look at it you’re like, “I haven’t probably given this its due amount of time, money and energy.” Set a date, schedule it in and be proactive about measuring the results that you expect before you move on to something else. Double down on what’s right in front of you. Take that step. I would say you have to do the work. That’s it. There are all these cool creative ideas, these cool fun things people are doing or are exciting. There are always these new fads or things that come and go in marketing and sales and techniques that work and don’t several days later. You have to start doing the work. Pick a path, start doing it and do it every day. That’s the only way the things will start to compound for you over time. It will open doors for you in the future. I truly believe that.

Especially if they follow your lead to relationship models, transformation, giving first, adding value and pulling that lever for the long-term. Tom, it’s been a pleasure to have you with us. I’m sincerely grateful. You shared that amazing amount of wisdom.

Thank you, Dan.

I want to encourage you to take action with what Tom has been sharing with you. He’s Tom Morkes. Seize the day, make it a great week and we’ll see you next time on

Resources mentioned in this episode: 

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About Tom Morkes

GTF 217 | Influencer Marketing

Tom Morkes is the founder and CEO of Insurgent Publishing, host of the iconic podcast “In The Trenches,” which has featured notable guests such as Dr. Jordan Peterson, Tom Ziglar, Seth Godin, and many of today’s top thought leaders, and author of The Art of Instigating, The Complete Guide to Pay What You Want Pricing and Collaborate.

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