Grabbing the attention of your audience is a crucial skill for an entrepreneur to have. Learn how to make your business stand out from the crowd with these tips from Brendan Kane, author of Hook Point: How to Stand Out in a 3-Second World.
Brendan suggests that you focus on 2 things in order to be successful at this:
It all starts with your mindset. Too many entrepreneurs give up or they don’t take their failures as a learning lesson. You need to have the mindset that you are going to constantly work at this until you find the right answer for your business.
You also need to know the numbers driving your business. The number of social media followers does not equate to profit. You need to know what actually makes your business financially sustainable. Once you know this, you will have a better idea of what strategies you need to put in place to scale your business.
Next, you need to figure out how to state your message that isn’t the same as everyone else’s. The story that follows needs to be good and believable. When people stop and decide to follow you on your journey, you can guide them to the information that they don’t know they need. Because you don’t know, until you know, right?
Finally, you need to use the platform that makes the most sense for you. Start with the platform you enjoy the most and where you consume content. Where does your audience spend their time? No matter which one you decide to use, make it one you like, or you’ll be setting yourself up to fail.
To be successful, entrepreneurs must have a strong mindset and be ready to navigate through the new challenges they will inevitably face.
In this world, sure your ideas are great, but it comes down to your ability to take action off the strategy, off the concept, off the idea and implement it to be successful.
Learn how to catch the attention of your audience:
Hey friends. It’s another week in the Business Bites Podcast world. I am your host, Rachel Brenke, and I am joined with Brendan Kane, who is a digital strategist for Fortune 500 corporations, global brand and celebrities, has a new book. We’re going to be talking about brands and messaging, and then creating a demand for your business and your brand. So, Brendan, welcome.
Thanks, Rachel. It’s a pleasure to connect with you and everybody that’s listening.
Oh, we know. We absolutely love hearing from all different types of experts and I’m just thrilled because the last few weeks we have been really digging into this idea of simplifying to scale up, getting very targeted on your messaging, your branding, et cetera and I just am so looking forward to hearing the tips that you’re going to have for our audience. But before we dig into that, let’s just kind of walk them through how you got into doing this. Where’d you start from and how’d you end up here?
I initially started in the film industry and I wanted to produce movies. So I went to film school to learn the business side of the industry and I quickly realized they don’t really teach you anything about business in film school. So I figured the best way to really learn about business is start your own. So at the time, the most cost efficient way to create a business, and this still holds true today, is to start an online business. So I started a few online companies while I was going to college to really learn and experiment and get a fundamental understanding of what it takes to actually get something off the ground and manage it and scale it. And then when I moved to Los Angeles back in 2005 to pursue a career in film, it’s when the entertainment industry started to reawaken to digital after the .com bust.
They had realized that digital platforms and social media were starting to emerge and they were starting to ask questions. Well, how do we actually leverage these platforms to effectively put more people in the seats at the weekend launch of a movie? And that also afforded me the opportunity to work directly with actors, directors, and producers online and figuring out how to really help them engage and connect with as many people in a meaningful way at scale. And then from there, I just really wanted to explore the world of being an entrepreneur because the studio system is very corporate and I just felt like I had more of an entrepreneurial mindset. I went off, I started building technology platforms and licensing them back to big media companies such as MTV, Viacom, Vice, Lionsgate, Paramount, to name a few. And through those partnerships, specifically the ones with MTV, opened the doors to work with major musicians and celebrities and athletes.
For example, they introduced me to Taylor Swift and her team and did that for a bunch of years and then really got involved in the paid advertising space and helped devise a firm that was managing paid spend for Fortune 100 companies to, at our highest point, managing about 100 million a year in paid spend. So there was a tremendous amount of learnings from there of where major brands make mistakes in terms of their scale and growth and just started applying those principles also to people starting from scratch or a small startup looking to scale to the next level.
Yeah, that’s one of the things that I feel like, and I raise my hand, myself as entrepreneur looking back to when I first got started, I think we forget to look to the bigger brands and see, dive into looking at what they’re doing, how they’re creating a brand, how they’re connecting with their consumers. Because think about it, we can’t afford an R&D or research and development. We can’t afford, necessarily on the first blush of entrepreneurship, to hire agencies to do this research and development for us. And so, looking to the steps and the things that they’re doing, more specifically, I’m thinking we’re recording this during pandemic and it has been incredible to see the way that many huge brands have taken and pivoted, even if it’s micro-pivots, or at least seamlessly integrating the messaging and connection to their consumers, but while maintaining authenticity with their previous message, the message they had prior to pandemic.
So I love that you are connecting and bridging the gap between these large companies and those of us who may be solo or just smaller businesses with some teams around us to connect that. So when you’re working as a digital strategist now, are you working with entrepreneurs that are lower level like us or are we looking at multi-billion dollar companies?
We work with both. I mean, to me I look at them the exact same way as they have challenges and obstacles and my job is to figure out how to overcome those challenges and reach the scale that they’re looking for based on the resources that they have available to me. For me, it’s fun and exciting either way. I’m very selective in terms of the clients that we work with from the standpoint of do I believe that they’re going to implement, do I believe that they’re going to execute on it, because as you know in this world, sure your ideas are great, but it comes down to your ability to take action off the strategy, off the concept, off the idea and implement it to be successful.
I think you may have answered what my next question was going to be, and it was going to be, what do you feel is one of the biggest mistakes that newer or I would say shaky established. You got your feet wet enough, you know what you’re doing to a point but you still feel shaky and unsure of where your brand is going. What is their biggest mistake? Is it this lack of execution or is it maybe executing in the wrong way?
Well, I think that the biggest reason people fail is from a mindset perspective, is they give up too easily or they see failure as just that, a failure instead of a learning lesson and how do we apply it in being relentless in nature of finding the right answers. Now, does that mean that you have to work 20 hours a day to be successful? No, it’s just that you’ve got to have that mindset that I’m going to constantly work at this until I find the right answer. So I would say that’s probably the biggest mistake or challenge that people run into. And then, the second biggest is really not knowing the numbers of driving your business. People, for some reason, they think that, “Oh, I’m just going to open up a social media account, generate a bunch of followers and all of a sudden I’m going to be rich or all of a sudden everything’s going to fall into place,” but it’s so much more than that.
I like to view business as just a math formula and at the end of the day every business, and this even goes for not-for-profits and charities, is how do you make it financially sustainable? How do you set that foundation of knowing what are the core metrics or KPIs that really drive the scale and growth of your business? For example, I’m advising a very big supplement company right now and they came to me because they want to scale their email list from 160,000 to a million. And I said, “That’s easy. Scale is easy, but you need to understand, for example, well, what is the value of an email? What is the lifetime value of it? What are you willing to spend to acquire it?”
And that applies across the board in every business, whether you’re acquiring an email, a customer, any aspect of it is really knowing the financial metrics that drive your business forward because once you have the math down, then you can find out what are the levers that I need to pull, or the platforms, or the strategies that I need to go to fall within that mathematical formula. And once you do, then the scale typically becomes so much easier because you’re just putting more fuel on the fire and you’re just pushing it even further.
And I love… I’m a very mechanical, methodical, formulaic type of person. I’m an attorney by one of the businesses so my mind is very much that way, but it also helps to provide me a construct so I don’t get overwhelmed and I feel like entrepreneurs have a tendency because we are often multi-passionate, we have big ideas, we’re dreamers and thinkers that we can overcomplicate it more than it needs to be. And I’m finding that I even have to reign myself in and say, “Okay, let’s get back to simplicity. Let’s get back to getting very specific and clear, whether it’s a specific message point or a product or service to put out there,” because I have my own tendency to try to make it as big and robust and over-complicated and I have found that actually my projects that failed were because of my own over complication.
Yeah, one of my mentors told me, and it’s a great analogy to that, is success in any aspect of business is simple, but it’s not necessarily easy. So it should be simple in terms of what you need to do and what you need to achieve, but within that simplicity it’s not going to be easy to necessarily achieve it. So you don’t want to over-complicate it on the front end and make it complex and not easy at the same time because that makes it incredibly difficult to scale and grow it to the level that you want.
And that’s a good segue into your book titled Hook Point: How to Stand Out in a 3-Second World. Very simple, very to the point. Why don’t you explain? I mean, I know that it breaks down most effective strategies to create new opportunities, innovate and scale your business while creating a compelling brand. Do you kind of want to give some context of where this book came from and the major premise, then we’ll go from there?
Well, it came from me sitting back and looking at the success that I’ve had in my career and also for my clients because I would get that question a lot, what is it that makes you successful, and most people would view me as a social media expert because of my first book, 1 Million Followers, but looking back on it, that’s not really where myself and my team have been able to achieve the results, whether it’s taking a company from 300,000 to a 100 million in revenue in a few years, or closing an MTV or a Taylor Swift as a client, or even just generating a million followers in 30 days. I really distilled it down to our ability to stand out in very crowded and oversaturated, noisy markets and really differentiate ourselves and capture that attention.
And just looking at the world that we live in today, there’s over 60 billion messages sent out on digital platforms each day between social media, emails, texts. All of this is just making every market and every industry noisy from the standpoint that we no longer live in a world where you’re just competing against your direct competition. You’re competing against attention, attention against every other piece of content that’s published. So like it or not, you’re competing against LeBron James, you’re competing against Kim Kardashian, Netflix, The Rock, all of these content creators. So it’s becoming more and more increasingly important to focus on how do we win attention, how do we become masters of that, how do we win the first part of the conversation.
And where I see most people struggle, whether it’s an entrepreneur just starting out or even working with a billion dollar corporation, most of the focus is on the product, on the service, on the purpose, on the branding, on the why, which is all incredibly important, but it doesn’t mean anything if you can’t win that first three to five seconds, if you can’t get somebody to stop scrolling, if you can’t get somebody to stop on a busy street and look at a magazine ad, or a billboard, or even on television.
So really distilled that down as to our ability to be successful both online and offline has really come from the fact that we can start the conversation in a very unique and different way that gets people to pay attention to what we have to say. And I firmly believe that there’s people all over the world that have the ability to transform it in a positive way through their message, through their product, through their service. Where they’re falling flat is they’re just not getting people to stop, to get to their true genius, to get to what their product or service is about.
Do you have an example for us here? I mean, I’m kind of thinking in line with majority of the listeners, maybe online-based business, service. What have you seen has been most effective to get that first three to five seconds of attention?
I’ll just give you the example of my first book is the hook, Zero to a Million Followers in 30 Days. It wasn’t like I did that experiment and then came up with the hook. I knew I could do it beforehand, it was a matter of why I should do it, and the reason was I believed it was a strong hook. And the first place I started is I called up a literary agent that has represented over $5 billion of the book sales. He brought the For Dummies series books, he represents Eckhart Tolle, and I basically just said, “Hey, listen, this is a hook I have. If I do this, is it strong enough that you’re willing to sign me as a client and get me a publishing deal?” And he said yes. And then, I asked a few other notable people that I know that are very successful, “What do you think if I do this?”
And I created that hook because I knew, A, I’d get the publishing deal, but it would lead to bigger opportunities, getting on stage, speaking in front of thousands and thousands of people, or getting out on television, or a podcast, or magazines. So that’s how I designed that hook. Now, what I like to tell people is there’s a big difference between what people need and what people want. So with that hook, a million followers in 30 Days, I’m playing to what people want. People are enamored with social media and growing social followers, but what I know they need is they need the right mindset. They need the right testing approach to understand how to test content at scale, how to measure analytics and data. They need to know how to construct content that’s highly sharable. However, if I would have started what I know they need and created a book or a hook that said, “The mindset around social media,” or, “The art of AB testing on social media platforms,” or, “How to create shareable content.” It’s not going to resonate, it’s not going to be something interesting.
And on top of that, if I type in social media marketing or business strategy in Google, there’s going to be billions and billions of results. So for me, I knew I needed a hook to stand out. And thus, I started with the million followers in 30 days hooks, which has made the book an international bestseller, speaking on stage in front of thousands of people, I’ve been featured on television shows and things of that nature to bring people into the conversation that I really want to have with them, that I really think is going to drive the most value to their brand and to their business.
This is such a timely conversation because, I mean, 2020 has been the year of many things, but for me it’s been really simplifying my many different businesses, getting very clear on the messaging and it’s exactly what you’re talking about there. It’s the hook, it’s the selling and the transformation of what they want, and this is the only time I’m ever going to say a bait and switch is good. Hook them with what they want and then bait and switch, and also give them what you think they need. But myself, I’ve been struggling in fine tuning because I feel like as someone who is very mechanical, it’s easier for me to say, like you’re saying, “The art of A and B testing.” It’s easier to put that out there than it is to make that hook of the transformation, the results of what they want. What would you give tip wise for someone making that transition from the mechanical this is what I know they need, to creating the hook of what they want? I’ve struggled with this.
So first off I want to say I don’t believe in bait and switch because that leads into clickbait and it’s ultimately not going to pay dividends. When we talk about a hook point or grabbing attention, we believe there’s three core pillars to being that successful. What is grabbing the attention is the first. The second is what is the story that expresses that hook? And then, the third is are you delivering it in a trustworthy and credible way where people believe you? Are people buying into it? And all three of those need to play in together in order to successfully grab and maximize that attention because if you don’t get people to stop, you never get to your story. Now, if you get people to stop and your story sucks, then you’re not maintaining that attention which doesn’t mean anything.
Now, if you grab their attention and your story is good but people don’t believe it, then it all falls apart, but there’s easy ways to kind of really do it. For example, with the million followers concept and million followers hook is I talk about follower growth, but I also talk about, listen, if you really want to be good at social media, these are the areas you really need to focus on. And once you have somebody’s attention, they will listen to you of the journey that you want to take them on in order to get them to that place. So if you want tons of followers and you say, “Hey, this is how I generated a million followers in 30 days. I want to share this information to you.” And then, you grab their attention and you say, “Okay, listen, I’m going to share with you exactly how I do it and how my partners do it and you need to then learn these elements, which we’re going to teach you, and then execute on it.”
And then, I can guide them wherever they want. I can guide them to AB testing. I can guide them to shareable content. I can guide them on other aspects or mindset because I know that’s a part of them getting what they want through what I know they need. Another example is let’s just say that we’re launching a meditation app. Now, meditation has been around for thousands of years and if you type into Google there’s billions of search results. So with meditation, the one trap I see a lot of people fall into is saying the same thing in the same way as everybody else. So one of the tools that we use sometimes, and we don’t use it all the times but sometimes we do it because it’s the right fit, is subverting expectations.
So if I was designing an ad for a meditation retreat, or a meditation app, or whatever, or for a meditation coach, what I may start out by saying as the headline or maybe the first thing I say is, “Meditation is a scam.” Why am I doing that? Because it’s a pattern interruption. It flips everything on its head. You typically don’t get people to say that type of thing. So how do we make it so that we’re not doing bait and switch, we’re not making it clickbait? So that’s where the story comes into play and I would start the story something along the lines of, “Have you ever felt like meditation is just a scam where you tried it and people told you, you needed to clear your head, but every time you sat down, your mind would race?
Well, I really feel your pain because when I started off meditating, I tried to do that and I listened to so many experts and I just didn’t feel like it was working for me. So that’s why I stumbled across these three steps that helped me, somebody that felt that meditation is a scam and didn’t work for me, become somebody that’s meditated for the past 10 years. Will you click the link below and join me on this journey?” So what I’m doing is I’m generating that pattern interruption. I’m generating that hook, but I’m not doing a bait and switch. I’m not doing clickbait. I’m tying it into the story that I’m telling and bringing them to the place that I know they need to go in order to be successful.
And I guess I should clarify here. I don’t mean like a full on say you’re going to give them a million followers and then you don’t teach them at all, it’s all about mindset even though we know that a part of it, because I take kind of the same approach. We are launching Real Business Accelerator Program this Fall and part of my pillars, because I’m an attorney, is I have legal in there. Well, people don’t really want to always buy into legal unless they have a problem, but with the goal of the end result for those joining the program is that they’ll have all around view of business and strategy, part of that is legal. So just to clarify, I don’t mean a full legit bait and switch, don’t give them what you’re offering and promising them, but exactly how you’ve set it up and making it one of the pillars of what you’re looking to put out for them, what you’re going to help them to accomplish.
What would be… I love the meditation example. I definitely love the interruption with the question of do you ever feel any meditation is a scam because, and I visualize it just as you were talking, I can think of the 20 posts I saw on Instagram this morning that all started the same. So when we’re looking at this, and I don’t want you to give away everything in Hook Point. I mean, I’ve seen a lot of great reviews on Amazon. I’m snagging a copy, it’ll be here by Prime in a couple of days because I definitely want to check it out to get my own interruptions going. But when it comes to the use of platforms, are we finding that the interruption, I mean, with messaging I can see where we’re going, but we have different social media platforms.
Instagram only gives a little bit of a preview in the feed. Facebook gives a little bit more, and of course, Twitter, we’re just restricted on numbers. Do you talk about that in the book or do you have any tips of kind of how to fine tune so that you are grabbing and interrupting when you have varying ways to do it, varying restrictions, I guess, on social media?
Yeah, it’s a great question. We definitely cover different elements in the book. However, I want to point out that it’s really the same across any platform. There’s just different expressions of it. Like you mentioned, Instagram really it’s that first three to five seconds of, well, if the sound is off, what does the meme card say? How is meme card differentiating or what is the first words of the caption or what is the first movement that’s happening in that video? Versus you look at YouTube, it’s really thumbnail and headline. Now, they’re different expressions of it, but it’s still the same way of how do I win that attention in those first three seconds. In YouTube, it’s how do I win the click. With Facebook or Instagram, it’s how do I stop the scroll. So it’s the same core principles, it’s just different ways to express it to achieve the result that you’re looking for.
That’s perfect. I definitely can see that because then somebody we know we’re talking about being very formulaic, I sit down and make a chart of the places that I want to hit and what are the ways, exactly like you’re talking about, what is my goal with this. YouTube is for the click, so how do I accomplish that? And kind of just reverse engineer from there. That’s fantastic. So what are you seeing right now in social media? And I know this is probably going to be one of those it depends answers, but which platforms are you finding that it’s easiest to grab this attention? Is there one platform that’s favored over another right now?
I don’t know that there’s really any easy wins. You could look at TikTok and they’re gaming the algorithm for new users to go viral so they get that feedback loop. You see that with Instagram with introducing reels and Facebook always does this with integrating new products is they’ll favor it heavier in the algorithm, but I don’t really look at it from this standpoint. I don’t make decisions based on which one is the easiest to game or the quickest one to really scale. I look at which one, A, do we feel most passionate about, which one do we use on a daily basis because it’s really becoming a student of the game and consuming that content. And then, B, what is the one that’s really going to drive the core metrics of the business that we’re looking for? That’s kind of the way that I look at it, but really it’s the same across any social platform of how you become successful.
It’s the same two principles, and those two principles is, A, can you gain attention? Can you get that click? Can you stop that scroll? And number two is how long do you maintain that attention for? And if you’re good at those two things, you will succeed on any platform no matter which one you choose. And again, it’s very simple, grab attention, maintain attention, but it’s not necessarily easy and that’s why I spent two years putting together the information in the Hook Point book is whether you’re trying to generate followers, or generate revenue, or close major partnerships, it really comes down to those two principles and I wanted to make sure that I could get that information into as many hands as possible because I really believe that is going to be the contributing factor to somebody being successful or not.
And I love what you just said a little bit ago. It was one of your first points about choosing the platform and it’s what are you good at, what do you like. And because one of the things that I struggle with, I’m seeing this even in the Business Bites Facebook group that we have for this podcast, people are sharing, they’re like, “Well, I know I have to be on Instagram.” And I kind of want to take what you just said now to them and say, “Why do you feel you have to be on Instagram? Is it because other people have success? But if you’re not happy about it, it’s going to show up in you’re [crosstalk 00:26:45] .”
You’re not going to be successful. You won’t be successful if you don’t find some redeeming factor in it and that’s why I always start with that part of what platform do you use, what platform do you enjoy, what platform do you consume content on because is that the end all be all way you make a decision? No, but as you mentioned, going into something and being like, “I’m doing it because I feel like I have to do it,” is generally a recipe for failure because, again going back to the motivation and mindset part of it, is what’s going to keep it sustainable for you? What’s going to keep you going through the months and the years and keep you going of getting better and better at it? So if you have that mindset right now, either you’ll make a determination not to do it or shift directions, or shift your mindset. What is the redeeming factor out of it?
What does Instagram provide for your business or for the lifestyle that you want and could that change your level of excitement about going into it? I speak on social media a lot because of my first book and one of the first things I tell people is, “You do not have to be on social media to be successful. Does it help? Absolutely. I know five people that have created billion dollar businesses in the past few years off of social media, but I know plenty of other people that have been immensely successful without it. So just because other people are doing it does not mean it is the reason that you should do it as well.”
And I love the whole mindset aspect because I know for me with Instagram and definitely I felt like I’d never fit into the Instagram box. I mean, I use it because I know my audience is there, so I was thrilled when they came out with reels. Of course, I love TikTok, that fits my personality better. Sometimes my subject matter can be a little dry so I love being able to show my personality and make that connection. So when Instagram got reels, I was like, “This is awesome. This is my jam.” But before that, it’s exactly what you were talking about. It was, all right, well I know I kind of need to be here because the audience is here and I could serve them here and they’re consuming it here so it’s directly posited to my business, but the other side of it was I just wasn’t loving putting out Instagram type content prior to reels and it was a mindset shift.
It was, okay, well, but are you willing to still show up so you can achieve that goal of the direct impact into the lives of those I’m trying to reach as well as my business? And that helps my mindset as opposed to I got to worry about my top nine looking good and getting all my visuals and all of this that can completely overwhelm, over-complicate, and honestly paralyze. I’ve been doing this for almost 20 years now and Instagram is one of those that was a thorn in my side, but it was all about mindset shift like you said, and of course, lucky for me they threw reels into the mix. So I’m happy now.
Yeah, mindset is the biggest contributing factor to success, and like you, I’ve been doing this for 15 years and I still have to work on my mindset every day. I mean, I have two business advisors that specifically helped me with mindset because even if you have success in scale, there’s still new challenges. There’s new things that come up and it’s really, again, it’s going back to that simple but not easy. It’s simple, you need to have a strong mindset to be successful, but that is easier said than done. We’re all human beings and there’s so many psychological factors that go into our daily life, whether it’s tapping into personal, or even like today what we’re dealing with COVID, or the elections, or just challenges that we happen with business is almost…
I talk to people now about being an entrepreneur and it’s almost like you get constantly punched in the face and you got to keep getting up. Mike Tyson has the famous quote which I think is so brilliant is, “Everybody has a plan or strategy until they get punched in the face and then what do you do?” And that’s really what it is to be an entrepreneur. That’s really what it is to be successful in any aspect of business or life.
I agree. Yeah, in 2020, that’s one of the things that I was interviewing a couple of weeks ago. JT from Fitness Business Podcast, he said that entrepreneurs are so resilient and we’re seeing that because of the pandemic. So I want to leave everyone in this episode, you get overwhelmed, you become paralyzed, and we’ve been on this theme of simplicity, but as entrepreneurs we’re resilient. So even if you dig into Brendan’s book Hook Point, you’re listening and applying the things that we talked about today, just remember you got an entrepreneurship for a reason and you are resilient. So when you get punched, it’s time to pivot and figure it out and obviously mindset is super big part of that. Well, Brendan, do you have any last tips to leave with them before we close up today’s bite?
No, I think we’ve covered a lot of ground. I just want to kind of recap of what we see as the two things that you should be focused on in order to be successful and they’re very simple. How can I win attention? How can I win the first part of that conversation? How do I get somebody to stop? Once I’ve gotten somebody to stop, how do I retain that attention for as long as humanly possible?
Love it. Well, I think we’re going to need to do a part two in the future on keeping people engaged, but right now I know many of you all are struggling with just getting that hook, getting that first three to five seconds of attention because there’s so much noise out there, so much going on in the world. So Brendan, thank you for your time. Everyone, as always we will have a thread in the Business Bites Facebook group talking about this subject matter. Please come and share the ways that you are setting yourselves apart in interrupting in getting the attention of your audience. And also, please as always hit me up and let me know what topics you’re loving to hear. Leave a review. You can give me a shout in the group as well because I want to make sure that we are providing as much content as possible to help you to grow your business.
As a mom, team USA athlete and cancer-survivor, I want a real life while I have a real business. This is why my resources don’t promote hustle-culture, rather tough-love and no-holds-barred tips to achieving both. In addition to this website, I have a top-ranked business podcast, been featured in places like Forbes and work 1:1 with so many of you.
Enough about me though. I am proud of you for pursuing entrepreneurship. It is rewarding and amazing. Keep at it!