Transcript: The Listening Mindset: My Secret For Understanding My Audience Intimately

June 20, 2023

AMY PORTERFIELD: “When one of my students asked me, ‘Amy, what do you do when things aren't working out in your business and you're afraid that you're not cut out to be an entrepreneur?’, I don't start talking about my experience right away. This question is letting me intimately into their world, so I want to remember to dig deeper before I ever open my mouth to answer.”  

INTRO: I’m Amy Porterfield, ex-corporate girl turned CEO of a multi-seven-figure business. But it wasn't all that long ago that I lacked the confidence, the budget, and the time to focus on growing my small-but-mighty business. Fast forward past many failed attempts and lessons learned, and you'll see the business I have today, one that changes lives and gives me more freedom than I ever thought possible, one that used to only exist as a daydream. I created the Online Marketing Made Easy podcast to give you simple, actionable, step-by-step strategies to help you do the same. If you're an ambitious entrepreneur, or one in the making, who's looking to create a business that makes an impact and a life you love, you're in the right place, friend. Let's get started. 

AMY: Oh, I'm so excited to tell you about this podcast that I think you should listen to. But to be quite honest, I think many of you are already listening. It's the Goal Digger Podcast by my girl Jenna Kutcher, and it's brought to you by the HubSpot Podcast Network, the audio destination for business professionals. So the Goal Digger Podcast helps you discover your dream career, with productivity tips, social strategies, business hacks, inspirational stories, and so much more. I love all of Jenna's episodes because they are the perfect mix of actionable-meets-candid conversations. She'll cover things like how to improve your website and your email copy to how to say “Screw it” to your morning routine. You’re going to love it. So listen to Goal Digger wherever you get your podcasts. 

Well, hey, there. Welcome back to Online Marketing Made Easy. 

So, have you taken a breath today? I ask because if you're anything like me, you have a lot on your plate. You're creating content. You're managing your team. You're launching your product or your service, and all the other things. And through all of this, it's easy to get caught up in our own world and forget to take a deep breath in. Okay, do it with me. Just really fast. Humor me. Just take a deep breath in. Hold it. Hold it. Let it out. Ah, feels good, though, right? Feels good.  

Today we are going to talk about the importance of listening to our customers and our clients and our team and our contractors, because when we are so busy creating the content, managing our team, launching all the stuff, sometimes we forget to breathe, but we also forget to listen. The truth is, being a good listener can make all the difference when it comes to your business's bottom line. So if you want to make more money, this Shorty episode might just help you do that.  

In fact, I know my book, Two Weeks Notice, would not have hit the New York Times’ bestseller list if I hadn't strongly emphasized the importance of listening to my community and my students from the get-go. Like, a lot of my success comes from the fact that I have listened more than I have talked.  

So before I even put pen to paper for my book—or, I guess, fingers to keyboard. Let's be real—I spent years and years listening to what didn't work for my students when it came to leaving their nine-to-five jobs and starting their dream businesses. So I listened in the comments, I listened on live video, I listened at conferences I attended, and this allowed me to write a book so tailored to their needs that when I released it, I was able to say, “I know what didn't work for you and where you struggle. I have the exact solution for you in this book. This is what you've been waiting for. This is what you need.” And I could say that with all confidence because I knew for years and years I had been listening. And I know that you want that kind of confidence. I know you want to stand up and say, “This is the solution that you need.” And I really do think the secret sauce behind that confidence comes from understanding your audience, and the only way to understand them is to listen more.  

So beyond seeing how the power of listening helped me in my book launch, I was also inspired to talk about this concept today from a podcast by Jocko. Do you know Jocko? He has a podcast, and one of his episodes was called “The More You Listen, the More You See.” Hobie loves Jocko, just for the record. I'm not a huge fan. It's a little bit too intense for me, but this episode caught my eye. So in this episode he shared that it's impossible to think about or absorb new information when you're busy constantly talking and putting out your own information. Okay. I got to repeat that. It's so simple, but it's so easy to forget. He said it is impossible to absorb new information—like, learn something new, absorb new information—when you’re busy constantly talking and putting out your own information.  

Now, as entrepreneurs, it’s easy to be guilty of this, right? We're often the ones who do all the talking on platforms like Instagram and our podcasts and in our blogs and on video. Plus, we need to put out content. If you follow me, you know I say, “Every week, I want a new blog post, a new podcast, a new video from you to put out weekly original content.” So I'm encouraging you to show up on Instagram, to show up on LinkedIn, to do live video, to put out your weekly podcast or blog or whatever it might be.  

But Jocko reminded me that if I spend all my time talking and no time listening, none of the content that I put out will be innovative, or more importantly, resonate with what my community is going through. You've heard me say that you've got to meet your community where they're at. Well, how the heck are you going to know where they're at if all you do is push content out and not slow down and be quiet and actually listen to what your community is saying? If we don't get quiet and listen to what our community or potential customers are actually saying and asking for, how will we ever gain insights into their problems and the solutions that they want? When you actively listen, you can serve the right content to the right people at the right time to bring them closer to the life they desire, whatever it is that you're doing to add value.  

So how can you take this advice and become a good listener as an entrepreneur? Well, I'm glad you asked. That's exactly what we're diving into in today's Shorty episode. So I'm going to go through this quickly, but I think you're going to get a lot of value. 

First off, I want to take you back to my childhood and tell you a quick story. In second grade, my dad used to drop me off at school, and he had this big, blue, ugly truck. So my dad was a firefighter, but a lot of firefighters have another job because, I guess, just to make more money. And a firefighter has every other day off, twenty-four on, twenty-four off—at least where my dad was a firefighter. And so they had more time. And so his other job was he had a heating and air-conditioning company that he built, so he was his own boss there. And so he had this really ugly blue truck that said “California Heating and Air.” And I was very embarrassed by it, and now I feel very guilty about being embarrassed about that truck. It was literally what paid the bills. But he would drop me off in this big, old, ugly, blue truck; I would grab my lunch box; and I’d jump out of the truck; and he would call out, “Wait, Amy. Hold on a second.” And I would turn around, and I always knew exactly what he was going to say. He'd say, “Remember, it's better to listen than to talk.” And I would just look at him and shake my head and say, “Okay, Dad,” not really even understanding what he was saying, not really caring. I was in second grade. But that has really stuck with me. I hated when he would tell me that, and today I literally teach it.  

It took me a long time to absorb this advice because despite his daily reminders, I constantly got in trouble for talking. Like, I would come home with a report card, and I always got good grades, except in junior high and in middle school—not middle school, grade school—there would be this line, this little blank line on your report card, and it would say “Talking” if you talked too much, and I always got “Talking,” and I always got in trouble for it.  

I mean, I'm a podcaster now, so if Kade got “Talking” on his report card, I never worried about it because I always thought, “It's going to serve him well.” But I did talk too much, back in the day, and I think I've learned my lesson now as a business owner, how important it is to shut my mouth sometimes. So now I practice that. I practice shutting my mouth on the daily to actively listen and just get curious about what's happening in my community.  

So, for example, when one of my students asked me, “Amy, what do you do when things aren't working out in your business and you're afraid that you're not cut out to be an entrepreneur?”, I don't start talking about my experience right away. This question is letting me intimately into their world, so I want to remember to dig deeper before I ever open my mouth to answer.  

So I'll respond with something like, “Tell me more about what it means for you if your launch doesn't work out.” And as they keep talking, I pay attention to what they express so that I can develop a stronger answer tailored to their actual problem.  

And they might say something like, and this has happened to me, “Well, Amy, I only made ten thousand dollars,” on their first launch, for the record. And so I realized, wait a second. They have a perception that they should be making more. What is it that they're reading online or maybe what I'm putting out there that makes them think that ten thousand dollars for your very first launch online is not spectacular? People would die for those numbers. So understanding that maybe their perception of what is success or what successful launches look like in the beginning, maybe I need to do a better job about talking about that. But I wouldn't get to that until I dug a little bit deeper. 

And beyond that, listening to my community's questions becomes my strongest marketing fodder, like, in the best way. I can use the exact same words that they use reflected back to them in my weekly content or on my sales pages. And this allows me to enter the conversation already going on in their head. Did you hear that? If you're multitasking, come back to me. When I listen more than I talk, and when I write down some of the exact phrases and words that they're using, and I put it in my emails or my sales pages, it allows me to enter the conversation that is already going on in their head. It shows them that I see them, I understand them, I get them, and I am the right person who is uniquely qualified to offer a solution to their problem.  

And as you practice being a better listener in your business, don't just pay attention to the problems your students are having; pay attention to their bright spots, too. Hop on the phone with people in your community and ask them what lights them up. What are they most excited about? What are they most proud about? Even if they're, like, in their first year of business or, you know, not all of you teach business, I know, like, wherever they are on their journey, maybe in their early stages, what brings them joy? What are they proud about? And you can reflect that back on them in all the content you create. Once you know their answers, you can start incorporating them into your copy to highlight how your solution to their problem will move them closer to the joy and excitement that they desire and that they want.  

Now, as many of you know, I don't identify as a great copywriter. That's why my content is in the form of a podcast. Like, I'm not a fast writer. I'm not a great copywriter. It's why I have Emmory on my team, who’s my full-time copywriter. But when—I used to write all my copy, and I did. I wrote every single piece in the first few years. Using this advice and being a good listener made it so much easier for me. It gave me ideas on what to write about and allowed me to develop a compassionate tone to build trust with my community.  

One of my values in my company is compassion. It's woven throughout my business because for years I saw the power it had to help my students feel understood. The more compassionate I was, the more they trusted me, the more they really believed that I understood where they were coming from. That compassion came from listening more than I talked. So combining the power of listening and compassion is 100 percent part of the magic that's made my business into what it is today. And as I mentioned, when I was introducing this episode, it's a huge part of why my book became a success.  

So for fourteen years, I listened to my students tell me they were afraid, confused, desperate when starting their businesses. I heard them repeatedly say that they think they aren't good enough. And every single time, my heart broke for them. So I took their stories and their experiences and combined them with my compassion, and that's the lens through which I wrote Two Weeks Notice 

So as I wrap up today—I told you this is a Shorty episode—I hope you see the power in staying curious and listening to understand your community before you ever respond. And before you respond with advice, maybe ask another question to dig a little bit deeper, because no matter what your goal is in your business, I'm sure it's related to impacting lives of those that you serve. And that's all waiting for you when you start to develop the art of listening.  

So just to give you a few quick tips here, I'm sure you know this already, but I'm going to say it, you can listen by getting into your DMs and paying attention to what people respond to and the questions they're asking. You can listen better by asking more questions instead of just shooting from the hip and giving advice. You can listen by reading between the lines of a Q&A that you do. There's so much between those questions that they're asking that if you dig a little bit deeper, it's probably around fear or feeling not good enough or feeling like an imposter. No matter what you teach, these are things that usually come up.  

And also, it's not just about the struggles. Asking questions again about what lights them up and what they're most proud of, you could do that on social media. You can post a poll and say, “I'm curious. Over the last year of your business or your journey or whatever it is you help them with, what are you most proud of?” It would be really cool. On a sales page, you could say, you could mention all these different accomplishments that your past students are proud of for your future students to say, “Here are some things you can aspire to. Here are some things you can look forward to,” like, future pace them, but literally taking the accomplishments of your past students, really making it real.  

So there you have it. I hope you love this Shorty episode and you walk away staying curious and open minded and compassionate.  

And thank you so much for hanging out with me. If you love this episode and you'd be so inclined to give me a review wherever you're listening to it, I would be forever grateful. Or maybe just grab the link of this episode and share it with a friend who's on their entrepreneurial journey as well.  

Thanks so much, and I'll see you on Thursday for more entrepreneurial goodness. Bye for now. 

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