How to Create a Clear Brand Message | Ryan Rhoten

How to Create a Clear Brand Message

with Ryan Rhoten


About today’s guest:

Today, Ryan Rhoten covers a ton of ground, everything from crafting a brand messaging, to listening to people and understanding how to position your product or service to best meet their needs. To be able to mind-read what someone is wanting to the four O’s of messaging. I took away a ton in terms of content marketing, website design, sales pitch, and connecting with other people.

Ryan is the founder of CareerBrand, a company that helps brands find their essence. So they position packages and promote their expertise online with strong brand messaging. Without clear messaging, your brand can’t reach its full potential. He is also the author of the book Career Kred as well as the just-released book LinkedIn Made Simple, which is co-authored by Andy Foote.

As always, May I Have Your Attention is brought to you by, which turns your podcast into three months of social media content, you can find out more at

Time Stamps:

  • Ryan’s background [1:44]

  • Why it is so important for brands and individuals to create a clear message [4:09]

  • Problems and struggles of brand identity [8:31]

  • Best practices for brands [14:13]

  • Focusing on the details [20:52]

  • How to use feedback right [26:10]

  • How do you start building a content strategy around the brand’s message [33:13]

  • What not to do on LinkedIn [38:39]

Selected resources:


Justin Nassiri  00:01

On this episode of May I have your attention.


Ryan Rhoten  00:05

We are so excited to get to the sale that we forget to listen to what’s being said. And so as a result, we’ll talk about the thing that we want to do and what excites us versus addressing the challenge or problem that the person on the other end of the phone is struggling with my guest


Justin Nassiri  00:25

today, Ryan wrote in and covers a tonne of ground, everything from crafting a brand messaging, to listening to people and understanding how to position your product or service to best meet their needs. To be able to mind read what someone is wanting to the four O’s of messaging, I took away a tonne in terms of content marketing, website, design, sales pitch, and just connecting with other people. As always, me I have your attention is brought to you by, which turns your podcast into three months of social media content, you can find out [email protected] With that, let’s dive in to my conversation with Ryan. Well, joining me today in Golden Colorado, it’s so exciting because you’re just 20 minutes away from where I’m at in Denver. My guest is Ryan wrote in Ryan, welcome to me, I have your attention.


Ryan Rhoten  01:15

Thank you for having me. I’m super excited. And I can’t believe we couldn’t do this like together today. Because it’s beautiful outside now it was 70 degrees at like 10am. And


Justin Nassiri  01:24

I’m like, let me just ride this. Let’s not have another snowstorm like we did a week ago. Yeah, no


Ryan Rhoten  01:29

kidding. If we ever do this, again, we should meet like at a brewery and just put the mic right in between the two of us and just chat. So the


Justin Nassiri  01:35

quality of our diction goes down over time, but the content probably gets a lot better. Yeah, people might be really excited by, you know, 30 minutes. And well, let me give everyone a quick background for Ryan. He is the founder of career brand, a company that helps brands find their essence. So they position package and promote their expertise online with strong brand messaging. Without clear messaging, your brand can’t reach its full potential. He is also the author of the book career krad as well as the just released and I mean that as in just minutes ago, practically released book LinkedIn Made Simple, which is co authored by Andy Foote. So maybe just to start writing anything to add or amend that to that bio,


Ryan Rhoten  02:22

no, but I will say this, my co author, Andy is absolutely amazing. And if people aren’t following him on LinkedIn, you 100% should like he’s a data guy. He knows the algorithm, he runs experiments, he does all kinds of testing on LinkedIn. And just the fact that I was able to write a book with him is pretty humbling, and very cool.


Justin Nassiri  02:42

How did that connection come about?


Ryan Rhoten  02:44

So well, and what’s funny is at and I’ve never met in person, so we’ve had online through LinkedIn, we’ve had communication over the years. And then I started writing this book about about this time last year, and I got to a few sections where I was like, you know, I kind of just want to take what Andy has, and you repurpose it and give him credit. And, and then the more I thought about, I was like, No, I, he just needs to like really be the co author. So we just had a call with him, I asked him if he would be willing to, you know, join me in writing the book, and he was 100% on board. So we went back and forth multiple times writing a book really online. And now I’m just really proud of what we’ve been able to put together together. And I know it’s gonna change a lot of people’s interactions and usage of LinkedIn.


Justin Nassiri  03:33

That’s great. And I love this kind of puzzle piece image I get there where he had all of this data and insight, it sounds like you’re already following him and liking his insights. And then just saying that’s the missing piece of this book. And having him slot in is really perfect.


Ryan Rhoten  03:47

Yeah, absolutely. And I had been following him for many, many years. And it’s really weird, you know, you develop these relationships with people online, but it’s still weird to reach out and ask people for something, right, even even if it’s something you know, will benefit them. It’s still weird to do that. But Andy’s a super nice person, super gracious, and was very receptive to the idea of working together to create this book. So


Justin Nassiri  04:09

that’s great. Well, let’s start with a foundational question, because I think it leads into a lot of the work that you do, and even the book itself, which we’ll talk about soon, too. So why is it so important for brands and individuals to create a clear message? Yeah, I


Ryan Rhoten  04:24

mean, quite simply, if your message is not clear, people will not know what you do, or how do you add value to the world to them to your sphere of influence. And what happens in a lot of cases with especially business owners, but it also see it on the career side with people who’ve been in a role for a longer period of time, we gain knowledge and our knowledge level increases, you know, it starts somewhere down here and it just increases as we do our thing over time. And after a while we know our subject matter so well that we begin to think our Mind actually tells us a thing called the curse of knowledge, you can look it up, it’s on like Wikipedia and everywhere else, but our mind actually says that everybody else knows the exact same thing that we do. So you’re thinking up here and somebody who comes to you who’s down here at this level where you were when you started, you’re talking in a language that’s above them, and they don’t understand the context that got you where you are. And so the way we close that gap is with clarity, and you bring yourself kind of down to where they are by being super clear about what you do, and how you help.


Justin Nassiri  05:30

It’s so funny that you use that phrase, which I’m not familiar with the curse of knowledge is like a thing. I was just literally as soon as you started talking, I was like, Man, I’m thinking about with captivate, and how often I’m talking to people. But it’s like, I start wondering, like, what is it that they don’t know? Because I just kind of get into my little stick. I’m wondering like, how do you get out of that? Like, how do you get a fresh perspective on what knowledge is lacking? Or how do you get that distance that seems like is so important to deliver a message in a way that can be received?


Ryan Rhoten  06:03

Well, first of all, it’s super hard to do. So I know lots of people who try and you can’t do it, it’s really, really hard to do. So the easiest way to do it. And this is still not easy. Like this whole thing is like it’s the classic example of It’s simple, but it’s not easy. The simplest easiest way to do it is you have to put yourself in your customers shoes, and you have to start asking the questions that they ask of your brand, not the questions you want to answer, right. So it’s the difference between what I like to call old school marketing, which is I will tell you what I want you to know about my brand, versus today, where people want to see themselves in your brand. And the only way that they can do that is if you use language, you take your language and bring it down to their level. And you talk about the problems, the struggles and the symptoms that you know they are experiencing, as it relates to what your brand can help them solve. So for example, in your case, you could have talked about captivate AI, you could have talked about all the technology, all the work that goes into it code snippets, and all that kind of stuff, because that’s important. But as somebody who wants to use your service, honestly, I don’t care about how it gets done in the back end, I want to know how you can help me personally. And so what caught my attention with you, when we connected on LinkedIn was that you said, Take your podcasts and turn it into three months of content, right. And so as a podcaster, one of the things that I struggle with is I have this huge backlog of episodes, that’s just there. And repurposing that content is a lot of work. And I also know there’s a lot of valuable knowledge that’s sitting there, kind of stagnant. And so I had this problem of how can I get the most of the content that I’ve already created? Or that I create, like even right now? How can I get the most out of it, without having to go do all the work that I know that’s required of it and still run a business. And so your tagline caught my attention, because it identified a problem that I struggle with. And it made me go, Oh, I need to know more about that. At some point in the conversation, it becomes important for you then to talk about the AI and how all this stuff works. But that’s used to be the thing you lead with and marketing. Now it’s the thing that you don’t lead with, you need to get people’s attention first. And then when they’re ready, they will say, how does this work? And then that’s when you have kind of their permission, because Seth Godin permission marketing right, then you have their permission to go talk about the back end or how your thing works.


Justin Nassiri  08:31

I just want to break down a couple things I found really compelling there. The first is I love that you said the questions they want to ask versus the ones you want to answer. And I’m guilty of this in relationship in business and just normal conversation where it especially I think with one’s company or line of work, if you love it like I do, there’s so much you want to talk about. But that doesn’t mean that it’s of interest to whoever you’re talking to. So I love that empathetic approach to like, what is it that they are really need want to ask about? And let me let me put my answers and that enthusiasm on hold. And the second thing I wanted to actually dig into you. You said people want to see themselves in your brand. And you said the problems, the struggles, the symptoms. Could you talk a little bit more about that? Because I think that there’s something profound there about the identity. And seeing myself as part of this brand. Like I just My mind went a lot of places with that. But I’d love you to expand on it.


Ryan Rhoten  09:27

Yeah. So for example, what a lot of folks want to do, especially coaches in general, coaches, consultants, doesn’t matter. You know what now you want to put in front of the word coach, we’ve created something that we know will benefit somebody we know it will help you you will get better if you use our products and services. And so we’re proud of that and we want to talk about it. But we also like to talk about things that really don’t matter to prospects, such as I started my business after I was let go from my job. That’s a great story. But most people don’t have the patience to read that today. Right? When they first know you, like they need to know whether or not they can fit with you and whether or not you can help them solve a problem. The truth is all of our prospects, all of our customers, clients, they’re all selfish. I wrote a blog post about this. So I’m cool saying that, but it’s true. They’re all selfish, they come to you, because they have a problem that they want to solve. And they want to understand whether or not you can help them solve it. So for example, if I go to your website, and you’re using words, like I do this, and I started my business, then and here’s what we do, here’s what we offer, it’s really hard for you as somebody who’s reading those words, to fit into them, because you’re using inward facing language, instead of outward facing language. And so you have to start the conversation off, letting people know that you understand the problems and struggles they have. And then you position your message, and your business and your brand as the thing that can help them.


Justin Nassiri  10:55

Yeah, it’s such a profound point, I wrote that down the inward versus outward facing language. And when I was in San Francisco, my wife and I did the heaviest thing possible, which is we took a year of training in this thing called nonviolent communication. It’s all about empathetic communication. Interesting, one of the biggest things that I learned from that was that until someone feels heard, they cannot hear you. And so you know, we would literally roleplay in situations where if someone you know, you would have someone who’s fired up about something, and they’d say something, and you’re just literally reflecting back, hey, this is what I heard, this is what I felt this is what came through. And you kind of see their defences lowering once they feel heard, they feel seen. And so that’s one of things I think, is so profound about what you’re saying. And I never put that together with websites, where so often, it is all about me all about me, rather than making the person feel understood. And I keep coming back to that, because I think it’s so so great problems, struggles, symptoms, really making sure that they can identify with that, I


Ryan Rhoten  11:57

think that’s great. The best compliment I think you can get as a content creator, in general is when somebody reads your stuff, and they go, holy crap, Ryan’s reading my mind. Or, man, I thought I was the only person who struggles with that when you hear those words, or see those words, you know that you are talking directly to the people that you want to talk to in a way that resonates with them deeply.


Justin Nassiri  12:19

I just listened to a podcast episode with Jerry Seinfeld. And I’m just like Filling in the gap here where I’m like, Oh, that’s actually something that makes comedians great, as well as taking insight that we think is totally unique to us. And you realise it’s universal. And I can imagine that that with content marketing is really powerful if people feel like you’re reading my mind, or you really get me or this person understand. Yeah,


Ryan Rhoten  12:40

I mean, so it’s funny, you bring up comedians, because comedians are terrific. I mean, they’re great. They have this innate ability, helping you get placed into a situation. And they do that using a thing called metaphors. And metaphors is one of those situations where I can do a metaphor, and you will be able to take that and put yourself into it with your own experiences. And so you can relate to it directly to whatever the comment happens to be in your own individual way. And so anytime, like, especially if you’re explaining a new product or service, anytime you can compare it metaphorically to something else that people already identify with. That’s a great way for you to get your brand and your brand message into someone’s brain.


Justin Nassiri  13:22

I think that’s such a great shortcut to the metaphor piece, because it is I imagine that we have so much emotion and understanding wrapped around this thing. And then you’re just literally dropping it in there. And you’re short circuiting into this positive association.


Ryan Rhoten  13:38

Yeah, yeah. 100%. Like, this may or may not be a great example, but Somebody once told me, you’re like the Ron Swanson of messaging. Okay, so now you’re laughing because you know Ron Swanson Yeah. And you know, Ron, like simple, clear language. He does not like fancy words that make no sense. Yep. Right. So you immediately laugh cuz you’re like, Oh, I get it. Because you know, Ron, you made I’m sure you’ve seen parks and RECs. You know, Ron Swanson, you know how he speaks? Yep, gives you an idea immediately of how I might be able to help you if you’re struggling with messaging.


Justin Nassiri  14:08

Yep, I’m just kind of I want to give him jealous though of his hair. Just gonna say that. capacity to eat bacon. I’m curious. I want to give kind of a wide berth here because I know you have so much expertise here. But I’m appreciated all the nuggets you’ve given us so far. But what other best practices have you found for brands, I understand that it’s very nuanced based on the individual, but any other best practices, and I’m guessing that could be for their website, it could be for their elevator pitch. It could be for their LinkedIn profile, but different ways to spoon feed the person they’re speaking to exactly the information they need in the way that they’re most likely to internalise it.


Ryan Rhoten  14:49

This is gonna sound really profound and simplistic, but the first thing to do is listen, people will tell you, what their problems are and what they’re struggling with. If you just Listen, most of the time, what I find when folks get on sales calls, for example, we are so excited to get to the sale that we forget to listen to what’s being said. So as a result, we’ll talk about the thing that we want to do, and what excites us versus addressing the challenge or problem that the person on the other end of the phone is struggling with. And so I know that sounds really like simplistic, but just take the time to listen fight every urge you have on sales calls, especially to not jump to the conclusion or solution. Because if you listen to the problems that they’re telling you, you can formulate in your mind, the best way to position your product or service in order to make the sale. More importantly, you will learn whether or not you can actually help them. It does us no good to make a sale to have a client just so our revenue goes up if we can’t actually help them. So you need to approach that with some grace and some grace and graciousness knowing that maybe not every person you talk to is right for you. But you won’t know that unless you truly listen,


Justin Nassiri  16:03

I’m interrupting. When you literally just told me to listen, I’m interrupting. But I got so excited by that I’ve got a post it note right here on my screen, I worked with that consultant who is helping me improve my sales process. And she had me record my sales calls for a while and she just said, Look, you’ve got to breathe before you respond. Because you’re so eager to answer the person, you’re not learning what they really need, which is painful to hear. But it’s consistent with what you just said, which is like people will tell you what their pain points are. And I really like the authenticity there where it’s like, then you can really evaluate Can I help this person or not? because no one’s benefited by selling a solution or service that they’re not really needing. So I just wanted to highlight that I really think that there’s a powerful thought there of just slowing down to listen. And


Ryan Rhoten  16:54

here’s another great point to that though, I’ll just add on to your addition, which is if you really listen, you will find the messaging and the words that you need to sell your products and services. Because if one person is saying it, I guarantee you other people are saying thinking and feeling the same way. So listening to how they describe the problem that they’re having. And capturing that is great for marketing content for your website for content you put out like blog posts or whatever. It’s great, great content, but you won’t know it. You won’t find it if you’re not listening for it.


Justin Nassiri  17:28

My favourite point in any sales related call is when the person says like, so this is what I look to your website. This is understand. So you that Odetta. And I always write that down. Because it’s such it’s so much gold. If the person explains my product to me, in their own words, I don’t think I connected the dots fully. But I really appreciate what you’re saying there about using those words, because you’re bridging the gap. Like these are clearly words that connect with that person. So let me use the language that’s going to connect with them.


Ryan Rhoten  18:02

100%. And most of the time, when we go to a quote, tweak our websites, what we do is we tweak them with what I like to refer to as marketing words or fuzzy words, they mean something to us, because we came up with it, but all they’re gonna do is just confound your message and make it really confusing for everybody else. So if you’re using their words, I mean, that’s, that’s ideal. That’s where you want to get to the second part of that best practice is, as a coach or a consultant, we all sell something that’s invisible, unless it’s a product that you can buy, like an online course that’s visible. But when you’re doing a service, you’re helping somebody in some way, it’s invisible, people can’t see it. And so if you can turn your product or service into something that’s visible, that can actually be seen by your clients, it makes everything so much easier. It frames up your sales conversations, it makes people go, Oh, look, there’s actually something here’s what we’re gonna do together, I know exactly the value that I can get and receive if I decide to work with Justin, if I decide to work with Ryan. So the more visible you can make your service, the better off you’ll be. Because without having a visible service, you have to use lots and lots and lots of words to describe what you do. And at some point in those first two or three sentences after you’ve told them well, I created this process, after I discovered that uranium was blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And I did this a night like nobody cares. But you will have a tendency to go there and say those kinds of things if you don’t have a visible process to follow.


Justin Nassiri  19:35

I’m a big fan. Like most people on the planet have an apple and I admire their marketing, but I never put together that thought that like in some ways, it’s so much easier to sell something where you can put your hands on it. Yeah, you know, myself and you in so many of us we’re selling something that’s not physical and tangible and it makes me feel a bit better realising like that is actually much harder because the onus is on me to describe it. explain in a way to make it more tangible when it’s completely not.


Ryan Rhoten  20:04

Yeah. Now even if you have a physical product or book, right, for example, it’s very easy for me to go. This is a great book, it’s 138 pages, including the author page, it’s got a really good description of Andy and I in the back. We talked about some stuff and LinkedIn in here, and there’s some pretty pictures and nice font and the iasb n number is this, like, people who have product pages will describe their products in that way. And just because it’s a physical product doesn’t mean the same principles we’ve talked about before, don’t apply, like the question you really need to answer, because it’s the question that people want to know the answer to is why should I even care about this? Like, why? Why should I buy this? how’s it gonna make my life better, you should be talking about those things in your marketing, even if it’s a product, it’s a pitfall that I often fall


Justin Nassiri  20:52

into, as someone who focuses a lot on product is I do want to describe all the features and all the bells and whistles, but is the equivalent of what you were doing with the book, then the page numbers, the ISP number, the things that it’s like, that’s not really what I need. It’s rather the why behind it, or like, why should I even care? And going back to your earlier point, I like that sense of having people opt in and say that they’re interested by like, Okay, so how does it work, or whatever else to show that they’re actually interested in getting to that level of detail?


Ryan Rhoten  21:24

Right, right. Yeah. I mean, like, what good does it do you to know that this is made out of two pound bonded paper? I don’t know if it is, by the way, I just made that up. But like it does you no, good. It doesn’t help you understand how this book is going to help you. In fact, it posts that Andy did this week, one of the comments came back that said, Hey, is there a table of contents for the book? Why do you think people want to know what the Table of Contents is? Because they want to see what’s in it. They want to see if Hey, what are they talking about? And can it help me solve a problem that I’m having not? What is it made out of? And I get it like, it goes back to what we said before, we’re proud of what we create the technology and stuff that’s out there that we’ve used to build stuff. It’s really cool. And it’s super helpful stuff. And we should be very proud of it. But it’s not what people care about when they first encounter your brand.


Justin Nassiri  22:07

I want to ask a question in a different thread. But I just want to make sure I’m not cutting you off. Again, in terms of best practices, was there anything else you want to share on the best practices, right?


Ryan Rhoten  22:15

There’s a bunch, right, but those are like my top two, make sure you’re really truly listening, don’t jump to the conclusion too fast. And then if you can take your service and make it visible, which is what I help my clients do, you have a much, much better chance of getting people to grasp very quickly, what you do and how they’ll benefit.


Justin Nassiri  22:33

That’s great. So one of the things I wanted to ask about, and you can take this a number of different ways. I know you’ve worked with so many great brands, I wanted to ask a question about how to tell people what you do. And I don’t know if that would be relevant as an example of you if you bumped into someone on the street, or one of your clients and what you did with them, but I just love like an example of what that looks like even


Ryan Rhoten  22:54

Yeah, so there’s a simple formula, problem, solution success. Those three things, we always talk about pitches, like our society is become this, like, you gotta have a pitch. And even you know, like, as you know, startup, you go do a startup pitch, like I get that. But the truth is, you shouldn’t have a standard pitch that you use every single time, because it may not apply to the person who’s standing in front of you. So you need the flexibility in your pitch, to be able to address the person that you’re speaking to, right. So if I meet somebody who has who knows nothing about me, I’m gonna say something along the lines of I help coaches and consultants come up with brand messaging, that’s so clear, everybody knows what they do, because most people can grasp that, and they can understand it. And they’re like, and it also makes them go, Oh, wait, I’m a coach. Tell me more about that. Because they just immediately went, I struggle with messaging, and I’m not sure everybody knows what I do, then you can change it up if there’s people who know more about you. So for example, you introduced me a little bit more earlier about finding the essence, I could also say something like, I help coaches and consultants position, package and promote their brand using strong messaging. And I wouldn’t say that every time unless I knew the person I was talking to was struggling with one of those things. So it’s about listening to them. Now, if they just walk up to you and say, Hey, what do you do, you should have something prepared that says, who you are and how your clients benefit. But it doesn’t have to be long. In fact, if it’s long, you may as well just tell them when you founded your business and why? Because they’re gonna stop listening. So the shorter, more succinct you can make it, the better off you are. And then that honestly, just to get to that point, it comes back to I have a certain level of knowledge. I’m not sure people down here will understand that. So it’s hard to get to really succinct language. But if you just remember, start off with the, you know, what’s the problem you solve? And how do people benefit from it, and then that will help you come up with a pitch that, in general, most people will be able to understand.


Justin Nassiri  24:47

The two things I most like about that is first I really liked it. It’s underscoring your earlier point about listening. You know, I was thinking when I asked that you just have a tried and true phrase that you always use. It seems like you’ve been saying it’s better to understand the person you’re talking to, because then you can position it more. The second thing though, is I just admire the craftsmanship of those two examples you gave us because they were very succinct, very descriptive. And I know how much work it takes to just boil this ocean down to the concentrated goodness, that makes it most universally understood. I imagine there’s a lot of hammering behind the scenes that goes in and practising even to make that flow so seamlessly,


Ryan Rhoten  25:34

so much, you don’t know. I appreciate that it took three years to get there. Yeah,


Justin Nassiri  25:39

I believe it, I believe


Ryan Rhoten  25:40

no, but But seriously, like it does, it will take you that long because we get so wrapped up in our own language, that we fail to see how our language doesn’t jive with the people that we want to speak to and reach. And it’s really difficult to close that gap. And it takes a lot of thinking I can show you iPads stuff, where I’ve written out all kinds of things to come up with what I just said. And it’s not that the stuff that I came up with wasn’t good. It just wasn’t good enough. And it just takes a long, long time to get there on your own.


Justin Nassiri  26:10

One of the things I used to enjoy about when we lived in a world where you’d go to conferences, it was a chance to iterate literally hundreds of times, and you get pretty real time feedback of like, so what do you do? lay it out there, and you see either the blank stares or the intrigue and you get a sense like just I mean, it was a boot camp in really refining a messaging for a company or for myself, but I like that sense of just really refining it and honing it. And it also seems like it’s important to have a couple versions of these to based on who you’re speaking to, to be able to slot that in. Yeah,


Ryan Rhoten  26:47

I mean, so like when I work with one of my clients, once we figure out what their messaging is, one of the first things I do at every meeting afterwards is ask them to tell me what their messages like it’s because you have to memorise it a new message has to be memorised. Otherwise, you will go fall back to what you used to say. Yeah, so it’s this constant practice every Tell me what your messages before we even start doing anything. Tell me what your messages Yeah. And you just have to get into that repeating this is what we do. This is what we do. And the more you know about your audience, the clearer, more succinct you can make your message. So it really resonates with people I like to think of it I mean, this, this is gonna sound weird, but it’s true. If you have the right messaging, and you have the right things to say, every time you’re talking to somebody who has the challenges and problems that you know, you’re talking about. You’re like hitting them with a pin. And they can feel they can literally like feel it. They’re like, Oh, yeah, I got that problem, too. Oh, yeah, that’s me. And the only way to get to that point is you really have to listen to what your customers are telling you.


Justin Nassiri  27:46

It’s the precision there too, because the more that you understand their problem, the more you’re able to replay that back. I’ve been on the other side of that, where I’m like, Oh, yeah, that’s such a pain point. And to your point earlier, with metaphors, it really brings up all the emotion there of the frustration or anger or guilt around that pain point. And that’s a powerful way to really have them realise like, I actually need this solution that this person’s talking about.


Ryan Rhoten  28:13

Yeah, metaphors are amazing. But they are equally as difficult to come up with, it seems like at times, I have a book that’s that thick, called, I never met a metaphor I didn’t like. And you know, so I literally will go through there sometimes and just say, Okay, what can I get that will resonate with people that will make a connection in a post or a video or something I’m going to put out that will help people relate


Justin Nassiri  28:35

this is completely just in the moment. But I find this process for myself, I find it excruciating of like a challenge things really concisely. And you do this with so many people. Is it like this birthing process for you as well? Or is it something that you enjoy and get pleasure from?


Ryan Rhoten  28:52

I personally love it. There’s always always at some moment in engagement with a client where the lightbulb goes on. Yeah. And and that moment of relief, where they go, Oh, my gosh, after all this time? Finally, yeah, I’ve even had people say I know what I do. I’ve heard people say, Oh, my gosh, I just got goosebumps when you said that. Yeah. And the reason why is your business like he’s your business is your baby. And it’s so important to you. And not being able to talk about it in a way that resonates with others is super frustrating. And when you get that moment where you where everything just clicks and you know that now you can talk about your business in a way that’s going to help serve more people. I love that moment. I see every engagement, not every engagement but at some point in an engagement. A client will have that.


Justin Nassiri  29:41

It makes me think of years ago with my brother I was doing the opposite where every time he said something I’d say like Oh, I get it. So what you’re saying is and then I say the exact opposite. And he did it before he realised what I was doing. He got so angry and it’s true. I feel like when we’re not understood when we’re not feeling like we’re heard. It’s so frustrating. And the opposite is true. And I can see how valuable that is for your clients when you have those breakthrough moments of like, yes, like that is what I do. That’s what I want to do. This is what I aspire to. It is it is like this aligning process that is liberating.


Ryan Rhoten  30:15

I had a client just last week, she’s a kind of an Instagram influencer. And she put out in her Instagram story like her. She’s like, Oh, my gosh, we’ve been trying to do this for a year and a half, we hired a marketing agency to help us do this. And I finally found somebody who can find the essence of my brand. Like, it’s those moments that just made me love what I do. I have another client right now, who we’re not even finished. And because of the work we’ve done with messaging, and specifically taking his process and making it visible, he’s sold two franchises. Well, and we’re not even done. Yep. And it’s not like I’m working magic, what I’m really doing is, you know, there’s mirrors that you can rotate and flip them around upset, you know, like the big tall mirrors and they rotate. And then there’s another mirror on the backside. I’m just helping people go from I look at this side of the mirror all the time, let’s flip that mirror so that we can see our customer. Yeah, it is really bad. Somebody is going to see this video and go like, look at the hand, what is he doing? I probably just did something really bad in sign language. And if so I apologise.


Justin Nassiri  31:17

I’m just trying to play back all the things like this I’ve tried to do in the last 10 years. And it seems like it’s all but impossible to do this just with people internally, because you’re so in it, it’s hard to kind of see what’s going on. Like I imagine you and people like you part of the value is you are an outsider, you don’t have decades of being immersed in this, like you can get people out of the things that they’re saying, I you know, I work with a lot of military veterans, and they’ll use acronyms, because for 20 years, they’ve only used acronyms, they don’t even know anymore that other people don’t know that. These I’m guessing there’s a benefit to an outsider helping guide this process.


Ryan Rhoten  31:59

Yeah. So and I can help that with that a little bit. If that’s you, and you’re in your organisation, and you’re sitting there going struggling, and you’re kind of all coming up with the same things over and over. There’s a little exercise I like to do called the four O’s of messaging. And the first one is objectives. So what are the objectives that your clients are trying to obtain your customers obtain? What do they want? ask that question. First. Do not relate it to what you sell yet. Just what do they want? Okay. Then ask yourself, what are the obstacles in their way that prevent them from getting what they want? Once you know the answers to those two questions, now you take that information and you look at your offer thorough, and you say how does our offer solve those obstacles so our clients can meet their objectives, because if your offer helps them resolve the first two O’s, then the fourth Oh, outcomes, you should be able to say if you work with me, here’s what you can expect to receive as a result of this. So more sales more leads, more confidence, whatever it is that your product or service helps people do however you transform your client in some way. Those are the outcomes that they can expect. And that’s what you should talk about.


Justin Nassiri  33:13

What about moving this concept further? So once a brand or an individual has clarity on their message? Yeah, how do you start building a content strategy around that?


Ryan Rhoten  33:25

This is a super, super great question. Because here’s the truth, you could have the clearest, most succinct message on Earth, but it’s not going to help you that much, if you don’t know what to do with it. So you have to once you have your message, and you go through the exercise, you actually have a lot of information, you need to create some amazing content, you know, the objectives, your clients are trying to get to, you know, the things they want. Talk about those things, you know, the obstacles that are in their way, the problems they face the symptoms that they have, as a result of those obstacles, talk about those things. If you make your content, lead with those things, your engagement will increase dramatically. What most people want to do is tell you something, hey, I learned this great thing. Here’s what it’s all about. And they don’t provide the context. Knowing objectives and obstacles provides context for people and it sets the stage them to pay attention. Could you imagine if movies all started with a solution, like or in the first three minutes, people solved all their problems? like nobody would watch? Nobody would pay attention? So the reason that movies follow a similar pattern, which, you know, now they introduced the characters, the character has this thing they want to achieve, but they’ve got this problem that’s in their way. And then the whole movie is them just resolving that. So always start with what is it that your clients wants your prospects want? What is it people in your sphere of influence, what do they want and why can’t they get that on their own? What are the things that stop them from doing it?


Justin Nassiri  34:57

I’ve never heard it put like that before, but the objective And obstacles provide context, it is so true. And I am so guilty. And I imagine many of your clients are like this where it jumps into the offer without that context. And so I just really like establishing the context in any piece of content and a content marketing strategy of making sure that those objectives and obstacles are there to provide the context for why people should even care. And I, you know, as someone who loves movies, I really appreciate that image of moving the resolution to the front, which is removing all tension and character growth and all of that.


Ryan Rhoten  35:35

Yeah, I can’t take credit for that. I learned it from Donald Miller, the guy who wrote building a story brand, a story ran certified guide. So I learned a lot of stuff from him, especially as it relates to movies and messaging, but it’s just true. Like, if you watch any movie, they all follow the same pattern, every movie follows the same pattern within three minutes, probably 10 minutes of a movie starting, you can tell who’s going to die and who’s going to live if you’re really listening and paying attention to what’s taking place. Because they all follow the same kind of plotline,


Justin Nassiri  36:01

I want to make sure we have room to talk about your book. And first of all, congratulations, because in a real time here, it just came out. And I know that this big event will be a lot of promotion around it. But it is on the backs of not only a year of work, but decades of honing your craft. And it’s a big, big deal. But


Ryan Rhoten  36:19

let’s let’s talk about the book. I want to touch on that because I think that’s a super important point to anything that you do this worthwhile takes a lot of time and effort. And we tend to celebrate the thing at the end without acknowledging the work that it takes to get there, right. Like you have a great product with captivate, but it didn’t launch yesterday, like it took you a long time to get where you’re at. And so we have to as creators, as business owners, we have to remember that it took us time and the work and the effort that we put into it, because it makes the reward at the end so much better. There is no such thing as an overnight success. That’s cliche. Everybody’s heard it. But I like to remind people, because there are some folks who just have this expectation of instant, like, I want it right now. And nothing good ever comes like just right now there’s always a path that got the thing that just appeared to appear. But with that said, Yeah, like it took years like I’ve been using LinkedIn, like most people for a long time I went through this period of Okay, great, I got a profile. Now what do I do? How do I interact? Should I should I connect with every single person who reaches out to me which by the way? I did, and almost everybody else does, right? Because that’s what you thought you were supposed to do with LinkedIn, then you have the opposite end, where you have people who want to find customers and things like that. And they are like, what kind of messaging Should I send? When do I reach out to people? What is the right kind of messaging, if you will, etiquette or protocol? And so one of the things Andy and I did, as we, you know, I had I had a pretty good chunk of this book written when he reached out together, but we sat down and just said, what are the problems that we know from our experiences with LinkedIn that people struggle with? And how can we use this book to help them get past all of them? Or at least most of them? I mean, there’s some problems, like we just can’t help you. But when it comes to using LinkedIn, understanding how to leverage it to really build your business, your brand and your career? And then just also how do you do daily interactions? How do you message How do you reach out to people? Where do you find information? You know, how do you post you know, there’s over 30 different pieces of content that you can pull out of LinkedIn. And so we just felt that it’s a great platform. It’s highly underutilised. And we wanted to create something that we knew from our experiences will help people and frankly, just the whole LinkedIn platform become a better place for everybody.


Justin Nassiri  38:39

Are there any common mistakes that you see people doing on LinkedIn? You said a couple with accepting every connection request and having a microphone if people who are on LinkedIn right now, what would you want them to know that probably doing that they need to stop?


Ryan Rhoten  38:55

Well, the first question I would ask is, What’s your goal? Why are you even on LinkedIn to begin with? What’s your goal? Are you there, just because everybody tells you you should be is if so maybe you shouldn’t be like, you have to have a goal. You know, a lot of the people I work with, they want to be on every single social media platform like why what’s the point, if the people you want to reach if the people you want to influence are not on the platform, don’t be on that platform, don’t spend time, effort and energy, learn how to repurpose your content there, but don’t spend your time and energy there. And so all that comes back to what are your goals? What are you actually trying to do with your LinkedIn profile? And then the next thing that I think is super important that people have to answer to get be successful. This is why it’s number two, strategy number two, by the way, there’s over 100 identified strategies in this book, I actually felt like a salesperson right there. Strategy number two is you have to answer this question. And I talked about this in my first book career credit to what do you want people to know you for? Like, what do you personally want to be known for? If I go to your LinkedIn profile, and I read the words that are there, what do you want me to know about who you are and how you If you don’t know the answer to that question, then you fall victim to this kind of random acts of posting, you just post stuff that feels good to you at the time. Because what happens today in our digital world is people don’t know you, they try to piece together more about you from this digital footprint that you leave. And so when they go, and they start reading your posts, and they look at all this different stuff that you’ve got out, either online or on LinkedIn or elsewhere, what they’re trying to do is figure out, who are you and how do you help people? Because maybe you can help me I don’t know. And so when you do random acts of posting, you can found your messaging, and people can get really confused about how you help.


Justin Nassiri  40:36

It’s so interesting, because one of the first people I had on the show Mita Malik is a LinkedIn top voice and in everything she posts is about inclusion, diversity, like it is consistent and frequent. And it’s not muddled at all. And I think it’s embarrassing to me that even that fundamental question I probably couldn’t answer right now, I can see the pressure washer effect of just being really specific in what you’re doing. Because I’m guessing a lot of this as you want to be associated with you. I wanted to be like, Oh, yeah, Ryan, he’s the guy who’s good at LinkedIn, or he’s the guy, he’s good at messaging, like you need people to have the two or three words to go along with you. So you’re in their mental Rolodex, or when you’re relevant, they reach out, you know, my wife always says, it takes time to save time, it’s true, like to take the time to understand what your message is, what you want to be known for is so vital. But so few of us take the time to do that.


Ryan Rhoten  41:32

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, if you want to be the best product manager out there, like say, that’s what you want to be known for. How will people ever know that about you, if you’re not talking about product management, and you don’t, by the way, you don’t have to talk about it all the time. There’s somebody on LinkedIn that everybody should follow. Her name is Sarah Johnson, she is amazing at creating real life content that’s highly relatable to her audience. So you know, she’ll be out by and like, she has a post where she was buying a latte at Starbucks, and she turned it into why you need a good resume. And it was perfect. And that kind of content is real life, it’s relatable, you can do that. You don’t have to talk about your thing all the time. But you should talk about it enough that people start to associate you with whatever your thing is. And when they go, you know what, we need a product manager? Oh, what about so and so, you know, I noticed he’s meant post a lot about product management, maybe we should check this personnel. And you know, I still believe resumes are important. But I do also believe that what’s becoming more and more important is the footprint, if you will, that you leave online. So how you’re communicating the value that you add online, is super, super important. People are going to look you up, they’re going to research you they’re going to try to figure out what you’re all about. And if I need a product manager, and I go to your profile, and you’re doing nothing but talking about product product management, not only are you showing your leadership, your expertise, but you’re making me go, man, this person is really passionate about product management. I need somebody like that on my team. Now. That’s great. I


Justin Nassiri  42:58

think that’s awesome. I know that we’re towards the end here. And I want to leave a fair amount of breathing room because I know that there is questions I asked asked, there’s probably questions I didn’t ask. And I want to just kind of make space for what have we not talked about that you want to make sure that our audience knows?


Ryan Rhoten  43:15

That’s an interesting question, because we talked about a whole bunch of different things. But I think really from a takeaway standpoint is the clearer, the more simple you can make your language, the easier it will be for others to understand what you do and how they benefit from your product or services. The old adage, less is more has never been more true than what it is today. If you can figure out what you do and say it in a way that’s simple and clear. And people get it super quick. You will win over somebody who I have to sit and try to interpret what they’re saying and how I can benefit from it.


Justin Nassiri  43:55

As you’re saying that I’m thinking of Tick tock, I’m thinking of Twitter, I’m just thinking of all of the little things that are getting our attention spans shorter and shorter. And I’m thinking of a family member, we probably all have them where you get the emails at 2am. And they’re pages long. And it’s like I don’t know what to do with this.


Ryan Rhoten  44:13

I’ve always been read it.


Justin Nassiri  44:14

Yeah, definitely read it and not gonna respond to it. I appreciate on Reddit how very often people will just do the TLDR too long didn’t read. This is what you need to know. And I think it’s, it’s a gift to whoever you’re talking to because it takes time and effort to refine. I remember a professor I had just talked and he was published in like three languages. And he said like, the better you are writing. The more concise it is, the shorter the sentences are and takes so much longer to construct those little tiny sentences rather than just like I’m doing right now these run on sentences.


Ryan Rhoten  44:50

So I didn’t understand this quote for a long time until I got into brand messaging but it is so so true. It’s from Abraham Lincoln where he said If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter. It’s so true. That takes time to go through a process of really getting your thoughts and your words aligned so that they’re succinct. They’re simple, and they’re clear. And when we break into marketing speak, we’re usually doing it based on emotion because we go, Oh, that’s cool. I need to say that. And we haven’t taken the time to really think through how that could impact somebody else who reads it, who didn’t have that breakthrough moment that you just had a compliment that


Justin Nassiri  45:33

with another quote, I think that’s attributed to Abraham Lincoln, which is if I have six hours to chop down a tree, I’ll use the fort first for to sharpen the axe and I view everything of what you’re talking about in your work. And in your book, it is the sharpening of the axe that goes on behind the scenes before you’re actually rolling up your sleeves to chop some wood in a networking can’t sense or content marketing or sales. Like it really does take all that extra time there. Fantastic metaphor. Thank you. Well, Ryan, thank you so much. in the show notes for this episode of I’ll include links to everything we discussed, including, I’ll track down Sarah Johnson and include her in there. You can find more information about Ryan and his company career brand. That’s career brand, co correct.


Ryan Rhoten  46:23

Yes, correct. And more so on Ryan Roatan calm.


Justin Nassiri  46:26

Okay, Ryan wrote it out. That’s our h o t, e n. We’ll put that in the show notes. And his book which just came out today, which I’m going to buy a copy immediately after this LinkedIn Made Simple, co authored with Andy foot 130 plus pages of this information, but it is the distilled knowledge of decades of work into a very simple, concise format. As you can imagine, when someone makes their living off of being concise, you can imagine their book will be to the point and concentrated goodness, thank you so much for joining me today, Ryan.


Ryan Rhoten  46:56

No, thank you, Justin. I greatly appreciate being on the show.


Justin Nassiri  46:59

Thank you. Thank you for listening to me, I have your attention. Each episode I meet with top marketers thought leaders and experts to find out how individuals and brands can get keep and make money with attention. You can subscribe to me I have your attention on Apple podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts. show notes are provided for each [email protected] slash podcast. May I have your attention is brought to you by which turns your webinar or podcast into three months of social media content, find out [email protected]

Share on