Paul Edwards | Market Yourself, Not a Product

To attract an audience these days, you need to concentrate on forming relationships with your target market. But, says Paul Edwards, that doesn’t mean simply blasting your message out on blogs, social media, etc.

Because all the likes, comments, or downloads you get likely aren’t very impactful in the grand scheme.

Paul, a bestselling author, podcaster, and content ghostwriter, says it’s not about the quantity of content you “pump out.” It’s all about quality and how you laser-target your specific audience… to get the results you want.

We take a deep dive into that, as well as…

  • The best marketing channels for franchise businesses
  • What you must absolutely do before buying any paid advertising
  • The top 3 things to keep in mind if you’re going through a career transition
  • How to avoid sabotaging yourself as a new entrepreneur
  • And more

Listen now…

Mentioned in this episode:


Giuseppe Grammatico: Welcome to the Franchise Freedom Podcast. I’m your host Giuseppe Grammatico, your franchise guide, and today we have a very special guest. Today we are speaking with Paul Edwards. Paul is the best selling author, freelance content ghostwriter, and host of the Influencer Network Secrets Podcast and expert in building relationships with executives and entrepreneurs. Paul’s new book also called Influencer Networking Secrets is due out later this summer. Paul’s an Iraq War veteran, a husband, a father of two boys and in his spare time, he’s an amateur physique bodybuilder. Paul, I’m really excited to be speaking with you today and welcome to the Franchise Freedom Podcast. Paul Edwards: Giuseppe, it’s great to be here. Thanks so much for having me on my friend. Giuseppe: So, awesome. I, you know, as I mentioned, very excited to be speaking. We spoke just before the call today. And you are the main reason I started my own show. So wanted just to bring that up. You, I was actually a guest probably about a year ago if I remember correctly, guest on your show and just truly inspired me to, you know, I like to talk. I figured why not? Why not get to talk to friends and make friends all over the country, all over the world and kind of get to spread my word. You know, my, you know, just some thoughts, some ideas I had. So I just wanted to thank you for that before we even get started. Paul: My pleasure. You know, it’s a wisdom of the age that we live in that, publish your wisdom, right? Get it out there. Get what’s happening inside your brain and how you think and how you approach business and all that in the public square so that those who, for those with whom it resonates. You start to build a familiarity and a degree of authority with them. And watch where it goes from there, the more you keep doing it. Giuseppe: Right. Absolutely, absolutely. So, you know, as we get started here, just I gave a little bit of a bio but if you can fill the audience and just a little bit of a background, you know, how did you get into the business you’re in? How did you get started? And what’s that journey look like? Since you’ve accomplished quite a bit in your, you know, in your journey here.

Paul’s Entrepreneurial Journey

Paul: Well, it’s a very twisty windy tale. The more details I get into and the more I think about it. I’ll just put it this way, Giuseppe, I was born to write. As much as people love my speaking voice or so they tell me. And as much as I like the opportunity to be on stage and give a talk, especially on a subject where I have some degree of knowledge or authority, what I can really do for days on end, weeks on end is write. So I’ve always been the expressive communicative type, I would say. That’s my, that’s a key component of my personality. But particularly growing up in the time you and I did before the internet, the prevailing popular sentiment, I guess you would say, about the occupation of writing was it was for a privileged few. And so I never thought of myself as somebody who could just go and apply for a job as a writer. Or if I did, it would be, you know, it would be something that I would, that I wouldn’t be able to make a living off of. I won’t say that that’s entirely untrue but I’ll say that it’s less true than it’s ever been in the age that we’ve grown into and matured as adults and as entrepreneurs. It’s more true now than it’s ever been that you can take advantage of some very favorable circumstances I guess you would say. That if you can express yourself, especially in someone else’s voice, if you can capture someone else’s voice and reproduce it in written content so that they can offload that responsibility of consistently putting out blogs and snippets and tweets and scripts for, you know, some people do the Alexa briefs is becoming very popular now. And also sales letters and email sequences and all that designed to look like it came from the influencer but in fact, it’s written by somebody else. If you have that ability. It’s extremely in demand. And as I’ve started up this business, doing it I’ve certainly found that to be the case. But that’s not what you asked me You asked me what my story is. So here’s my story. Real briefly, I grew up, I was born in Alberta, Canada, grew up mainly in Southern California. Joined the military at a young age. Did a couple of deployments to Iraq, and then got out, got a degree from Pacific Lutheran University here in Tacoma for communications, and spent most of my early to mid-30s in the insurance business. It wasn’t where I planned to end up. But what it did was it taught me how to build relationships. It taught me how to market myself rather than market a product. Because as you know, the number one rule about marketing insurance is you don’t talk about insurance, right? Because nobody wants to talk about it. So I spent all that time and all those years compiling one after another, either hard lessons to learn or, you know, eventually I started getting some wins. I started getting some situations where just by virtue of showing up and being myself, I won accounts and I won good business. And all of it was coming together to show me something. You know, there’s this unique expression of me as a professional, which is a combination of my ability with the written word, and my ability, I guess the cumulative experiences I’ve had building relationships to make myself useful to the marketplace in a dynamic way. And so that’s where this is all lead is I’ve parlayed one relationship after another after another after another over several years. And in January of this year, just a month ago, it all came to a head and I started getting clients for freelance ghostwriting. And so that’s where I am now. So hopefully that gives you a good picture of it. Giuseppe: Yeah, that’s great. And we talked about relationship building all the time, you know, with the candidates I speak with and the importance. I think we, it’s the old school method, right? I think we tend to forget that. We’re so concerned, or, you know, speaking with other entrepreneurs, I should say, just so concerned about getting your social media posts in and Trying to, you know, get to the masses where you only really need, someone had said once to me 100 strong relationships. With those relationships, they can turn into to others, but truly focusing learning about people as opposed to just let me see how many downloads I can get. Let me see how many likes I can get. So it kind of reverts back to that old school mentality, which I love. And, you know, I think it makes complete sense. It allows you to, you know, in my opinion, work with a smaller group, but truly get to know that individual as opposed to how things you know, how are things going and jumping right into business? Would you agree with that?

100 Strong People

Paul: Yeah. You know, I’ve had a couple of interesting conversations about this recently with some people I know. I think what happens for a lot of entrepreneurs is the old maxim of putting the cart before the horse. And that is to say that paid advertising you know, 10s of thousands or millions of downloads and all that. Those are, those to me are a byproduct of being an over deliverer way earlier in the cycle when all you have is, you know, 100 people or so. Which is all you need. Exactly to the point. I believe it was the CEO of Airbnb who made that comment. You just need 100 strong people singing your praises and the rest will take care of itself. And look what happened to him. Giuseppe: Yeah, he’s doing pretty well. Paul: Yeah, yeah, I think we put the cart before the horse. We say well, I got to get all these likes and comments. I got to get all these downloads. I gotta have, you know, people just blowing up my feed and all that kind of stuff. That’s nice. I mean, it’s not that it doesn’t help in the eyes of people who don’t know you, right? And once you achieve saturation in the relationship category, where you’re maxed out and you really haven’t got time and there’s no reason to go beyond what you’re doing in your current geographic footprint or your current relational footprint, then yeah. I mean, at that point you’re going to be, you’re going to number one, you’re going to command the budget to do things like paid advertising and enhanced social media presence and all that to reach new clients and customers. But at the start, I firmly believe, because I’ve done it, that building something from nothing from the ground up, the number one asset you have, it’s true in this case that the best things in life are free. And those happen to be the relationships that you can build early on before you spend any, before you spend $1 on, you know, paid advertising you’re going to whatever you’re going to invest in. Giuseppe: Right, could not agree more. So I’m glad that the two of us agree on this. And I’m sure I’m trying to convince more and more people about this. Building that rapport and relationship you know, we’re missing that step, as you mentioned. Diving right in and I know personally, I don’t know about yourself but on LinkedIn, I getting messages daily. I would say between two and 20 messages a day. And it’s a whole sales pitch. Before even that rapport is built, it’s two or three paragraphs. I don’t even respond anymore. You know, you’re selling me on you. I don’t know who you are. I don’t know how you found me. And we may be the best partnership, right? I mean, we may work well together, but going right into the sales pitch before that introduction, that’s, you know, in my opinion, that’s just the wrong way of doing it. So yeah, I think we should just go back to the basics. So yes, I totally agree with that. You know, you had mentioned so kind of going back to your bio, how you started. You were a corporate exec, right? You were in the insurance game, insurance business, I should say. You were a career transition, you know, from the corporate world to an entrepreneur. That is who we work with. We work with quite a few corporate execs, people looking to transition to entrepreneurship, either they’ve been recently laid off, not happy with their job, and are just looking for something else. What’s your, you know, top two or three pieces of advice for, you know, someone that is going through that career transition, someone that is just looking to make the switch from corporate exec, as you did, to becoming an entrepreneur?

Leaving the Corporate World Behind

Paul: Well, I think probably one of the biggest hurdles that a lot of people have to overcome is, what am I doing to replace my income in the meantime? And if you’re in a position where you have a significant degree of money saved up that you can live off of and make the micro-investments to start up with, then that’s great. But I think a lot of people are probably at best halfway to that mark, you know? I think a lot of people are still going to feel the pressure of it. And so the question is, are you looking at, to me is are you looking at a business model that can be developed in the margins of your life should you need to find employment or something like that in order to make sure that you can still pay the light bills or not? Because if the answer to that is no, then you have to be or you should be in a position where you don’t have to worry about money because you need to allow time for the hard lessons of entrepreneurship to have their effect on you. It certainly has been my experience. I know there are people out there who seem to just go from strength to strength, right? They leave the corporate world and they move into entrepreneurship and boom, overnight, they’re successful. You know, I understand that. I’m not suggesting that somebody willingly subject themselves to something they don’t need to go through if they’re ready to go out of the frying pan and into the fire, so to speak. However, my experience has certainly been that entrepreneurship is earned by enduring, overcoming and learning from mistakes just like learning to walk is for a little child. You really don’t know where it’s going to take you. You just know you’re there when you arrive. And in the meantime, there’s a whole lot of internal psychological background to that that needs to be reshaped. And the only way it’s reshaped for many of us, particularly type A personalities like me who want to go full throttle at things and just you know, if it’s a problem there’s throw money at it and that kind of thing, that you know, it’s a mistake to go that route. So I know this runs very counterintuitive to the spirit of our age too, which is very much rush, rush rush get it done. Now. Now. Now I gotta move, move, you know? I’m, of all the things I’m most grateful for after 17 months with no income, and now a business starting to grow legs, of all the things I’m most grateful for, It’s 17 months with no income because I couldn’t pay for what I earned and what I learned and what’s internal in me now, as a result. What I’ve learned about myself in regards to pride and greed and lust and ambition and all that kind of stuff, there’s no way I would have been aware of it had I not gone through that journey. And so now I’m able to regulate that impulse, right? Every time I, you know, it’s nice getting paid, but the person who’s not aware of their impulse, of their motives who gets paid wants to go and blow it on, you know, doodads. And I don’t. I, you know, I got paid my first month I got a bunch of revenue and I’m following the profit first methodology. So I set aside money to pay taxes and I set aside money to pay tithes to the church and I set aside a profit amount and I set aside operating expenses. And what I had leftover I gave to my wife and my sons, you know, because all this time we’d been investing. And I was able to say no, I’m, you know, we have an income. We’re surviving. So all of this goes back to particularly the three people who supported me the most throughout my journey. Giuseppe: Right. Yeah, I cannot agree more. And I hope everyone’s listening very closely. It’s not a, you know, you do have to put that money aside. We actually have a future podcast with a few accountants, financial advisors, kind of talking about financial planning, and we won’t get into that today. But, you know, as a first-time entrepreneur, you tend to forget these things. You know, you were an employee, and now you’re a business owner, and you’re, you know, you’re getting paid and you have to factor in I have to pay tax on this. You know, my employer was taking it out in the past, what, you know, what do I do? So, you have all this money in the bank, and it’s like, all right, I have to put maybe 25%, just say or 20% whatever the number is aside. So, you know, we definitely talk to and remind our candidates about that as well. And, to your point about, you know, jumping in, as you mentioned, 17 months without, you know, without income, that’s a long amount of time and not everyone can do that. But I do recommend, you know, if you are looking to start a business, if if you can, I know everyone’s situation is different, but to go 100%. And the reason I say that is to your point, you learn and appreciate so much more, versus keeping the job, which by the way, there’s nothing wrong with this and having a side income, but I think when once you give it your all and you’re not getting that paycheck, it just seems to, in my opinion, because I went through the same thing, it motivates you, right? I mean, you have to at the end of the day, the mortgages get paid, food needs to be on the table. No one else cares that you started a business or laid off. If things aren’t working, you know you have certain financial obligations that need to be met. So cannot agree more for the people that could do it. And I absolutely agree with that. So it sounds like things are going well. You had, we had mentioned a book so can you tell me a little bit about the book that you’re going to be putting out there?

Paul’s Upcoming Book

Paul: Yeah, I’m really excited about this Giuseppe. I, this is an example of what I, of what the book itself is about. Because what happened was when I got out of the insurance business, I at first thought, Okay, this is my opportunity to go and do some kind of like coaching, consulting for people on, specifically on the category of building relationships because that was how I built this scratch book of business in insurance and, you know, had all this reputation and all of these local I guess you’d call them local celebrity clients, right? Quote unquote. People who are very prominent here in the community where I live. I’ve done it all through reputation and relationships and community leadership and involvement. And all of what I talked about in the book. Well, that book didn’t do so well outside of this community. As soon as I tried marketing at anywhere besides to people who already knew me, it was a flop. And the one thing that I found that’s interesting about books is, you know, you can I think a lot of the best books in the world never get, never see the light of day. Because of the same principle, you’ll hear Grant Cardone talks about, the best people at any particular skill or profession or product are not always the ones that are actually selling. It’s the people who are best at marketing them that are getting the lion’s share of the marketplace. By that I simply, I’m simply drawing the analogy there that the next step for me was publishing a book with a team who was much better at publicizing and marketing it than I was. So if you’re going to write a book, this is a heads up, I would go to one of the publishing houses that work with nonfiction experts and see if you can get a leg in with them because quite honestly, publishing and promoting a book in this day and age is not a moneymaker. It’s a promotional tactic. And on top of that, it’s not easily done. They make it look easy, but it’s not. Anyway, all that to say, I wrote this book. The first one was called 10 Secrets to Networking Success, which, you know, that’s a title that doesn’t leave much to the imagination, which is good when you’re dealing with nonfiction. However, the content was indicative of my maturity at the time as an entrepreneur. It was written. It was good. I don’t like to put it down and say oh my gosh, it was terrible. But to borrow a good old New Jersey East Coast expression, it was terrible. It just was. I mean, it was just it was good at the time. It was what I knew. It was honest. But it had a lot of work to do. It had a lot of maturing to do. The second version we released last year, and I changed the title to, and I changed a lot of the content too. I borrowed some of the original stories and made like a version 2.0. And this one was called Business Beyond Business, which I realize now was a bit of a vanity title because I still had some issues with that. It was poetic. It sounded really cool to me. But I think in hindsight, I wouldn’t have called it that had I understood what I understand now about my marketplace and my preferred clientele. Anyway, notwithstanding that, I went through Rob Kosberg’s group, Bestseller Publishing. And they helped me design it and publish it and promote it and it became a best-seller, which was wonderful. They got me a couple of TV interview spots, which was really great. I got to go to KTTB and Boise, and then oh, shoot, I’m forgetting the name, the callsign of the station, but it was in Las Vegas. I got to go to the Las Vegas Morning Blend and appear on that show, which was really fun. And did some interviews, you know, and built up some more momentum that way. And but what’s happened this year is that all of the what I talked about in the book, relationship building these five or six categories that I find are the best long-term long game relationship-building strategies that I observed from all the years I’ve done it led up to the deal that I just signed to publish a third version of this, which is going to be the same as my, it’s eponymous to my podcast so that the podcast is called Influencer Networking Secrets. So now here comes Influencer Networking Secrets the book. But this one, we’re going through Morgan James Publishing. And my relationship at Morgan James is all a product of other relationships that I’ve built strategically which built on other relationships which built on other relationships that I’ve built the same way I’ve always built them. And the book is going to be much more, it’s going to be very sharpened a lot more. It’s going to flow a lot better than my previous two. That’s, you know, just me being my own worst literary critic. But most of all, it’s got proof of concept. You know, it’s, it’s written from the point of breakthrough. It’s written from the point of, Okay, I did it and did it and did it for years and years and years and made little steps here and there and got some progress here and there, but nothing really happened and then all of a sudden boom. Beginning of this year, the clock ticked into 2020 and we’ve got fireworks, right? And that’s the best place to write a book from is when you’re already, you know, over the steepest part of the cliff and you’re reaching that part where your business, all of the activity that you put in there has reached critical mass and it’s starting to spin forward and the engine’s turning, and now it becomes as difficult to stop what’s happening as it was to get it started. Giuseppe: That’s interesting. I wish we spoke earlier as I am putting together my first book here to launch hopefully in the next month or so. So very interesting. Definitely, this is a project I’ve been working on for a while but as I mentioned, which we spoke earlier, and we may connect again on 2.0 because I’m already realizing a few things I forgot to add in the book as we’re going through which I heard is very common, and it’s going to be the revised, that I’m already on revised 2.0 and the book isn’t out yet so. But I heard it’s common and that’s good. There’s always new things to add, new ideas, right? It’s an evolving thing so.

Success Almost Invariably Comes at a Cost

Paul: Well, and I would just say just simply that no success comes without a tuition bill, right? No, nothing we achieve in life comes without a cost. And sometimes that cost is in dollars, or time or, you know, effort. And I found that with my first two books, I’m proud of them, I stand by what I wrote in them, it’s just that it’s much easier to see how it all came together and how it works and how the model is replicable for the audience once you’ve got the proof, you know, once you have the proof of concept. That’s all I’m attempting to put forward. But it doesn’t mean that anybody listening should or should not write a book, on the come, so to speak. Sometimes that’s the way we learn. Sometimes, especially if your business is like mine If it’s writing you have to fail your way to greatness. Giuseppe: Now that’s well put. You know, we were discussing before, I am a franchise consultant so we work with a lot of corporate executives exploring entrepreneurship, exploring franchise ownership ideas just from, that’s the audience listening in, so ideas on how you can assist whether that be through a book, you know, what ways or what services would you be able to offer a franchise owner or franchisee? Paul: Well, this is an interesting question. I’ve never thought about it from the point of view of somebody who owns a franchise but I suppose no matter what your business is, I’m going to hazard a guess that there’s some aspect of it that requires you to, as we said at the outset, publish your wisdom. Because if you want to, if you are a franchisor and you’re looking to attract quality franchisees then you need those people to understand how your mind works. You need those people to hear how you approach certain situations. You need those people to know, to see visible, give them visibility. I’m keeping up with trends in the business. I’m watching things. I’m seeing how these business models evolve. I’m comparing them against one another and I’m deciding this one works better for this type of person and this one works better for this type of person. You know, I remember when you came on my show, we talked about the difference between a franchise where you’re the type of person who likes to be on-site, you know, five or six days a week and really enjoys putting in that onsite time, or are you the type of person who wants to run it remotely? Are, you want to be involved but you want to be doing it from home while people are, you know, actually on site doing the day to day work for you. And I think that’s, you know, there’s an example of a blog that you could put out. And you could even include some kind of question brief 10 point questionnaire that says, you know, are you this type of person? Would you, you know, on a scale of one to 10, how would you rate yourself? And then people can calculate and see, okay, would it be better opening up a Chick Fil A? Or would it be better opening up, I don’t know. What’s an example of one that you would sort of run from home and you wouldn’t be on-site too often. Giuseppe: Like a blinds franchise or flooring franchise. Paul: There you go. Yeah. So those are the kind of things I mean, if I were to hazard a guess, if you’re the franchisor, you’re looking at this and saying, I want, I need to reach, I need to put my brain in front of more potential franchisees. But I can’t do that while I’m also meeting with the ones I have now and running my business and doing, you know, whatever other things that you get into to generate interest and of course, you know, assuming generally you’re probably going to have a family and personal life and all that kind of thing. So it really comes down to a question of time. It’s like I’m not giving you necessarily something that’s going to earn you a bunch of money with clicks, right? This is not a, I can do copywriting I can do sales letters, but what I’m giving you here is your voice multiplied in front of more people than it otherwise would if you don’t have the time nor the inclination to get to the written content portion of that piece that everybody needs to be putting out. Aaron Walker, my number one client is, that was exactly his problem. He’s a thought leader, influencer, high-quality business coach, right? He just physically didn’t have time to get to writing blogs and Alexa briefs and snippets and tweets and, you know, scripts and all that kind of thing. And so, he said, Why don’t we try it out with you and we’ll see how you can do. And of course, I was primed and ready for that. I had all this experience in Masterminds which is his business. I had all this experience in coaching and consulting and providing thought leadership and I could capture his voice. I could speak and write as he did so that he would have, he had content literally just plug and play, right? Just look over it, make sure there’s nothing in there you want to change and then hit boom and send it to the blog or record it for his podcast, whatever. So for a franchisor that’s some of the things that I sort of imagine. I could be wrong about that. For a franchisee, you know, I that’s, I guess I’d more be interested to hear your angle on how a franchisee because I don’t, I generally tend to think they’re located within a certain geographic area, right? So then their primary interest is that I would tend to think would be the start is connecting with more and more of that local audience. Giuseppe: Right so at the headquarter corporate level, you have the high-level marketing, but then once you get to the local level, the franchisee and their small market here, just say in New Jersey, something specific to their market. It can even be, you know, a franchisee wanting to write a book about his journey and relating it to the franchise itself but more of a franchisee or I should say local level. It would be, you know, I would say it would be more of a story, how they got into franchising, relate the marketing and that type of aspect, but on the corporate level, it tends to be the same throughout. So, this would be a little bit more niche, a little bit more specific to the, you know, where that franchisee is doing business. Paul: Yeah, and I mean, some of the things that come to mind is it depends on what kind of franchise it is, right? So if it’s a retail foodservice merchandise type of franchise, I think, you know, you’re going to be getting some very simple basic email list copywriting. Here’s our offer for this week, you know, and learn and maybe creating several because if you have a significant list and you can segment it, right, and you can say, Okay, well, here’s our moms with teenagers and here’s our single guys and here’s our teenage demographic in here. You know, if you’ve got that kind of clientele, you’re going to want to segment and offers and make different offers for them. And that’s just a matter of understanding how to, primarily how to capture people’s attention with a subject line that speaks directly to them, right? And then crafting a variable offered that they can read in the shortest amount of time possible because the war for attention is only escalating. Giuseppe: Yes, yes, absolutely. Absolutely. Paul: So those are examples of things where I’ve had training and I’ve worked with several of some of the best copywriters in the world, as a matter of fact. I have some degree of relationship with them and I learned a lot from them and, you know, it comes back to understanding human psychology and just creating that offer where you might have sold 10 units but because you sent out this email you end up selling, I don’t know, 80 units or whatever. I’m just throwing out a number. Giuseppe: Cool. No, it makes sense. Listen, Paul, I, you know, we had talked in the beginning, wanted to keep this to 20 or 30 minutes to be respectful your time so I really appreciate your time and all the feedback. What is the best way for everyone to, you know, to get a hold of you if they wanted to speak? Whether it be a franchisor or franchisee or someone in the transition process, if they want to get a hold of you what’s the best method? Paul: Well, I have a website. It’s a little bit, it needs an update and I’m getting around to doing that as soon as I have all my ducks in a row for it. Th Paul S as in Simon the I’m actually, I just remembered to tell you this, Giuseppe, I’m going to create a special page for listeners to your, to this episode. So it’s going to be So I’ll send that to you. And that way, I have a few free giveaways that I always give for people who listen to shows where I appear on if they want to connect with me that way. And when they do, I’ll have a way of reaching out to them. However, in the meantime, if you hear this and you don’t want to wait that long, you can always reach out to me on social media. My handle on every platform that I’m Mine is at the Paul S Edwards. So Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, I’m on all of those under at the Paul S Edwards. Giuseppe: Okay, great. And we will also include that in the show notes. So, Paul, thanks again. I really appreciate your time. It was great to catch up and I look forward to speaking again in the near future. Paul: Thanks so much for having me, Giuseppe. It was great to be here.