Fear or Greed

Working Sessions – Episode 26 – Fear Or Greed ---IVY (1)

[00:00:00] James Sowers (Castaway): You know, we'll kick it off by bringing it back for another working session here. And yeah, so we wanted to talk about this greed and fear index is kind of what I think about it in my mind as is, is this Warren Buffet quote that's so popular about like, Hey, when others are fearful, you should be greedy.

[00:00:20] And when others are greedy, you should be fearful. And I'm not sure if those are the exact words, but that's how I've always heard it. And I just think that right now I think we're in this like weird. Place of uncertainty around the economy, at least here in the us and that has knock on effects for the global economy.

[00:00:34] But like, you know, every Fed update, it's like one is optimism, the next one is pessimism. The next one is optimism. The next one is pessimism. And I don't think anybody really knows if we're gonna have this soft landing that they talk about or if we're gonna go into a full on recession. And so I think there's more fear than greed right now, or at least maybe like timidness or conservatism or something like that.

[00:00:54] Which I think opens up the door for some opportunity for savvy business owners in a number of angles. So I don't know, is that kind of your take on the situation or do you think it's leaning heavily one way or the other toward pessimism or optimism?

[00:01:05] John Doherty (EditorNinja): I think there's just a lot of unknowns right now.

[00:01:07] Yeah. I've been pretty outspoken that like people have been talking about the quote unquote impending recession for 12 months now, so to me it's like, well, okay, technically if the metric, what is it, 3%? You know, retraction for two straight quarters or something like that, like yeah. Even if we technically hit that, it's not gonna be 2008.

[00:01:25] I think that's what people were afraid of. Right. Especially people our age. Right. I'm 38, you think you're about my age. Right. Yeah. You know, you hear the word recession and I started my first job when I was 24, 3 weeks before that recession started. Mm-hmm. I got very lucky because that company I was at doubled in size over the next year.

[00:01:43] So it was one of those companies that did really well through the recession. It was a bad recession. Right. So many foreclosed homes, et cetera. So when people our age especially, People have come of age during that time, hear recession, they think that, right? They don't think the.com or eighties or seventies or whatever, like recessions come, they're natural.

[00:01:59] But there's been a lot of fear this time around and I think that a lot of people have been making a lot of money off of sewing that fear. But yeah, that's my read. And just like looking at it from a business perspective, right? Not just being a pundit and you know, an armchair economist, but from a business perspective, I've seen that, and we've talked about this before about.

[00:02:16] Leads are just, they're harder to come by. Right? At both my companies, we see that they're harder to come by. Budgets are smaller and people are less willing to take a risk, less willing to take a chance, right? Mm-hmm. When the Covid pandemic hit, we saw Atcc credo, editor Ninja wasn't going then, but we saw like.

[00:02:35] People fired their agencies. Right. Just like made a snap decision. Just like we don't know what's happening, so we're just gonna stop. And then the ones that the businesses that did really well were like, game on. Spend all the money. Right? And so agencies saw like a drop and then boom, it came roaring back, right?

[00:02:50] We saw like a doubling in leads in like three months time when the pandemic hit and I was in. March, 2020, I'm like, business is done, have to go get a job. And by June I'm like, holy shit, we've grown so much versus now, and we didn't see the tire kickers. I think now we're not seeing those big budgets and we're seeing a lot more of the tire kickers and we're seeing the tire kickers take a lot longer.

[00:03:10] Yeah. To close. But I'm seeing that across both businesses, so. Yeah, I think there's just like a lot of fear. People are still hiring though, so lemme put a positive spin on it. People are still hiring, right? We're still signing customers at both companies. People are still hiring agencies, people are still hiring, you know, business owners.

[00:03:24] People are complaining about they can't find enough good workers, right? So like there are jobs out there and you know, I'm kind of hoping personally running service companies that people can't find a good. Full-time person to hire. Well, maybe they shouldn't be hiring a full-time person. Maybe they should just hire a service like yours.

[00:03:37] Your mine. Right. But yeah, that's my read. I'm with you. Yeah. And I do love Buffett's quote though, and I would love to hear kinda like, what have you thought about, you brought the topic, what have you thought about? Like, where are you being greedy right now? Let's start there.

[00:03:49] James Sowers (Castaway): Yeah, I think it's interesting because you know, in any recession or adverse event like take Covid that wasn't traditionally or academically considered a recession, but it was a very negative and significant impact to the global economy.

[00:04:02] I think in any situation like that, there are always going to be winners and losers, like somebody is going to win even in the most negative type of scenario that you find yourself in and the people that make protective equipment or work in healthcare or something like that, like a lot of those businesses.

[00:04:17] One, the people who make hand sanitizer one big, huge, like lifetime earnings, setting new records, you know, stuff that they'll never break again, probably. So there's always opportunity and you know, some of that's determined by your market, but at the same time, to your point about like some businesses get really conservative and they fire all their agencies.

[00:04:34] Some businesses fire a lot of their people. And lean more heavily on agencies and freelancers because they're more affordable or they can do fractional work versus like a full-time salary that gets paid no matter what. So it works in both directions. And I think it's just a matter of like, what does your pipeline look like?

[00:04:48] What does your market look like? So to answer your question about places that I think we can start to be greedy, I think one of those areas is like talent acquisition, and this goes both ways. It's like, hey, it might be hard to retain the talent that you have in-house because job hopping seems to be popular and there are a lot of businesses that are willing to pay top dollar because it's getting a little bit more competitive for like the top 1% or top 5%.

[00:05:11] Of skillsets, but at the same time, there are a lot of layoffs happening, and if you can find somebody who has recently been laid off from a bigger company, because maybe that company had a little bit of fat to trim, and that's not saying anything negative about those people. It's just like companies, when they do well, they tend to overextend themselves and then something like this happens and they pull back really quickly.

[00:05:31] We're seeing this, especially in the tech sector, so if you can find a developer, Who recently got laid off, or you could find a content marketer or something like that, and they're probably reeling because they didn't see this coming and they probably didn't have a plan B. They probably didn't have much of a safety net, and they're probably not particularly interested in standing up a freelance practice from nothing.

[00:05:48] Right? And so if you can find that person at the right time and offer them. A working arrangement that is both stable and flexible in that like we both run remote or distributed companies and Editor Ninja and Castaway. So it's like, yeah, you can be anywhere in the world and you can do this work anytime you want, as long as you never miss a client deadline.

[00:06:04] And I can guarantee you steady pay based on this volume and the client accounts that we have. So I think that's a pretty compelling offer and I think that this is a great time to get experienced, talented people for one of the most affordable rates that you're gonna find in recent history. Yeah,

[00:06:17] John Doherty (EditorNinja): I think that's largely true, and I would say that is also where I am being a bit greedy, is in finding those good people also, just because freelancers, et cetera.

[00:06:27] I mean, I don't know about you, but I have been inundated with inquiries from editors wanting editing work, like mm-hmm. Freelancers, a lot of freelancers have lost a lot of work, so if we have work. Then we can get great people. I personally don't really wanna work with the people that are like just going super hard and being super aggressive.

[00:06:44] You know about finding work that's just not the kind of company that I run. And like, do not find me on WhatsApp and message me if I have never responded to you. Yeah, do not do that. I will not hire you. That's a huge red flag for me. But there are a lot of great people out there and I've not had trouble finding, I've even found that contractors, consultants, that would've cost a lot more before.

[00:07:06] I can get them for a lot less now, honestly. I can get them for what I should be able to get them for not the overinflated rates that they were able to charge before, you know? Yeah. So I think that's actually a big like boon for us and we're gonna be able to get better talent for the rates that we're able to pay, to be honest.

[00:07:23] So I think that's a great place

[00:07:24] James Sowers (Castaway): to do it. The other thing I'm seeing that's related to that is people who are employed full-time are more frequently looking for something to do on the side, like casual freelancing, gig economy type stuff, because they're a little bit worried about like, Hey, is my company gonna do a layoff next?

[00:07:39] Like, am I next on the chopping block? And I don't wanna start from zero, so let me get this little nights and weekend side hustle. I do a couple of articles for Editor Ninja. I'll do a couple of episodes a month or whatever for a castaway. That'll be my backup plan. And if I ever get laid off, I can go to them and say, Hey, I can take on more work.

[00:07:53] So I'm seeing that too. So if you see somebody on LinkedIn or they've got a personal brand, or they're publishing regularly and you align with them and they seem attractive, like I wouldn't be hesitant to reach out with a DM and just say, Hey, are you doing any work on the side? Have you ever considered it?

[00:08:05] Or if that changes or that becomes an opportunity for you, like, let me know because I'd love to work with you based on what I've seen, or at least talk about it. Right? So I've seen more and more of that an openness.

[00:08:14] John Doherty (EditorNinja): Gotcha. Yeah, I think that I've seen that as well, and I've been able to get some really good people that they've either been running a freelance practice and they're thinking about taking a full-time job, but that's taken forever.

[00:08:24] I'm also just seeing that companies are taking longer to hire full-time people. So even though you know, you hear that, you know, oh, can't find good people. People don't wanna work anymore, like bullshit people do. You just need to pay 'em what you're supposed to pay 'em. But also, companies are taking longer to make decisions about hiring.

[00:08:39] Which honestly I think is good. I think it's healthy for business. Yeah. But that also means that there are a lot of, probably it's going both ways. People who have been laid off who are now freelancing, and then there are freelancers who have lost clients who are now thinking about a full-time job. So if you can give steady work at a good enough rate, Then you can get great talent right.

[00:08:57] Now. That said, there are also, so a lot of people out there, I think about like the big tech, like engineers and such that like, I don't wanna hire someone that's been at Google for eight years and just got laid off. Right. They're used to big company stuff, right? Yeah. Unless, unless it's like very much the right person that they were doing like side projects.

[00:09:13] They've been building their own task companies on the side or whatever, you know, and they're like a badass developer. And they were just at Google because like golden handcuffs, they were at a company that got acquired and they had golden handcuffs that was gonna make 'em a ton of money, right? Like, Maybe that person, right?

[00:09:25] They've got money in the bank and they can take more risk and they wanna like partner up or something like, yeah, I'd consider that. But I think there are also a lot of people out there with misset expectations about what they can charge. And I, I'm personally seeing, like having hired a. Four people in the last six, seven, no, four people in the last seven weeks, five people in the last seven weeks, something like that.

[00:09:45] Like I'm seeing people be like, oh, I charge X. And I'm like, did you do it for Y? And they're like, sure. Y is like 70% of what they said. Yeah. So like people are willing to make deals right

[00:09:57] James Sowers (Castaway): now. Because why is greater than zero? Right. Which is pretty great

[00:10:00] John Doherty (EditorNinja): as a business owner, right? Yeah. And also just so like people don't get their panties all up and a bunch on Twitter, because I just said that, what I'm also like asking people to do it for is market rate.

[00:10:10] It's just not the inflated rates that people have been paying. So it's like where the rates should be. So, you know, I'm not like underpaying people and I'm not forcing people to work for less than they should. They very much have their own agency, right? They could say, no, I can't do it for that. In which case I'd say, okay, fine, I'll find someone who will.

[00:10:24] Right? But yeah, anyways. I think that's definitely an area that we can be greedy. And I think another area is people starved for information they're wanting to learn, right? Like they've been laid off. Mm-hmm. Or they lost some freelance clients. They have time. Like I think we can invest a lot more in educating people and teaching people.

[00:10:41] People just seem to have like a bit more of time and right now is when people invest in their skills. So then when the market comes roaring back, then they can charge the big bucks, right? Which good for them. That's exactly what they should be doing. And so I think there's like opportunity for us to be.

[00:10:54] Teaching a lot more to be sharing a lot more, to be helping people do their jobs better, right? Helping people think about their jobs better and budgets and all that sort of stuff. And be smart about it. I think we can really gain a lot of attention right now for the services that we offer and help people kind of, you know, get into the like investing or you know, whether they're investing or it's just an expense sort of thing.

[00:11:13] Like, I don't wanna get too far in the weeds cuz this is radio. So you just had a content marketer leave that you were paying a hundred thousand dollars a year, right? So like 8,000 ish a month, that's $8,333 a month plus payroll taxes, plus benefits, et cetera, that you're no longer paying. So let's call it 12.

[00:11:31] Where are you gonna take that money? Right? You can get a great part-time content marketer for four. You can get a great editor for. Thousand 1500 through us, right? You can get a distribution service chopping up all the assets, et cetera, for another 1500, right? Like yeah, you can basically replace that person for half of what you were, you know, total paying.

[00:11:49] And so I think if we can help people, Rock that help people understand that, or just show them that like, Hey, your margins are tight right now. I would never advocate for laying somebody off. But if you've been considering, you know, you've only been utilizing your editor halftime, but you're paying him for full-time, why are you doing that?

[00:12:06] Right? Like you're overpaying for editing or writing or whatever it is. Like, and maybe when the getting is good and you're super optimistic, you can do that. I don't recommend it, but you can do it and you can float it. Versus now you actually need to like adjust back to where you should be paying. Yeah.

[00:12:22] So I think we can like, yeah, I think that's help people work through that in a very empathetic way that can come across very like caustic, but.

[00:12:30] James Sowers (Castaway): And if you've been forced to lay people off, you know, that's something to think about too, cuz it's not always like, yeah, you're just doing it because you want to protect profits or whatever.

[00:12:38] Like sometimes the decision's been taken out of your hands by the higher ups or the shareholders or whatever. But I think your point as astute is like there's plenty of research out here about the. Inefficiencies of full-time employment. The actual productive hours for any number of reasons are significantly lower than a hundred percent of the time that somebody's there, you know, supposed to be working eight hours a day or whatever.

[00:12:55] So if you cut that salary and you hire fractional workers or agencies who, for the most part, if they charge you for four hours, they do four hours of worth of work, they don't have that inefficiency. And a lot of that is driven by corporate culture. Like a lot of the inefficiency is the standup meetings and the huddles and the.

[00:13:14] Company retreats and the coffee chat, you know, all that kind of like qualitative stuff that has value, but it's not productive strictly in terms of like driving more revenue for the business. So you're accepting a certain amount of waste there in terms of like investing that salary into somebody and knowing that like, If we put it practically, if you pay somebody a hundred thousand dollars for a hundred percent of their time and they spend 30 or 40% of it doing non-productive tasks that you've asked them to do, or just, you know, being inefficient, then you're wasting 30 or $40,000.

[00:13:43] And if you hire an agency or a dedicated contractor for the most part, You pay for what you get. And I think it's a better use of resources in the right context. And again, I would never advocate for like letting somebody go just because, but if you've been forced to, this can be a more responsible use of those dollars.

[00:13:58] Back to the education point, I think there's also an opportunity for us to get greedy about educating customers. So. When sales cycles extend, when people retract their budgets a little bit, when they're a little bit more hesitant to make investments in recurring subscriptions with agencies and stuff like that, what that means is they're lingering in that top or middle of funnel a little bit longer, and that's our opportunity to get greedy about the attention there and the opportunity to educate them about our solutions, about why we're better than competitors or alternatives about why they should even care about the problem that we solve.

[00:14:29] The longer that they sit in that funnel, the more trust and authority. And respect that we can build with them through a number of marketing channels. But that's what I'm looking at is like, okay, sales cycles are extending. That's not great, but what do I have in place to kind of nurture somebody or address their concerns or their objections in the top and middle of funnel so that when the time comes and the purse strings are a little looser or something like that.

[00:14:54] I'm the top of their mind because I've been at the top of their inbox for a number of weeks or months, and I haven't done any hard sell. I've just done education, value sharing resources, answering questions, high touch type of stuff. That's where I'm leaning in right now is like relationship building with prospects and just trying to be their go-to resource in my space.

[00:15:11] Yeah, I think

[00:15:12] John Doherty (EditorNinja): that's both educating prospects and existing customers. Because one of the things to be fearful of right now is a retraction is churn, right? Yeah. Like yes, it is annoying that people are taking longer to sign. So it means that in order for Editor Ninja to grow, like I want it to this year.

[00:15:31] Right? And my goal is a million ARR by end of the year. Um, In order to grow like that, I need significantly more top of the funnel, but there's less top of the funnel than there has been. So I need more volume in order to get the same number of customers as I would have say a year ago. But churn is what kills, you know, subscription, like, you know, recurring billing companies.

[00:15:51] So like, this is when we need to lean into account management. This is when we need to lean into. Getting people invested, you know, in the service. Getting people to utilize the service because for services like ours, they do it. If they're not using it, you know, they turn if they're not using it. So like how can we actually encourage people to use it even though it costs us more, right?

[00:16:10] Like it costs me more to have people use my service more. But people also pay me longer and they pay me more. If they're using my service more, then my pricing is built to scale, then they can pay me more and it all just kind of comes out in the wash. And pricing is built for the margins anyway. And actually pricing was built for the margins.

[00:16:26] I'm happy with when we're fully utilized anyway. So like I should be encouraging them to use us more. Right? And getting their feedback on stuff and building like product features that they want and adding on services that they want and that kind of thing. We really need to lean in, like I think. I wouldn't necessarily call it like education for them, I would actually say it's more like how do we encourage them, just get them to use us more, you know, and get them more like invested in it.

[00:16:48] Yeah. I think is like, I'm just scared of churn, honestly. Yeah. And honestly at this point, I consider if we stay, even like our revenue isn't going down and we're not churning, I consider that a win. Yeah. And that sets us up well for the future, you know? Yeah.

[00:17:01] James Sowers (Castaway): And it's like that old saying, what is it? People don't quit bad companies, they quit bad managers.

[00:17:05] And I think you could flip that around and say like, people don't fire bad agencies. They fire bad account managers or whatever. However you wanna think about that. It's like if you're not earning your keep every month. Mm-hmm. Let's say you bill monthly, like we both do. If you're not earning your keep every month and communicating that back to the client because the client's busy, right?

[00:17:22] Like in my case, yeah. For Castaway, if we're producing all these assets, Who's checking in to make sure those assets actually get posted. All the social profiles or those blog posts actually get published and things like that. If the client representative, that's not their sole focus, so they might not even have visibility on that for the most part.

[00:17:38] And if I had the luxury of having a dedicated account manager, which I don't, that person's job would be to check in on clients every single week and say, oh, hey, this TikTok clip that we made for you is going viral. For your purposes, you usually get two or 300 views per post. Like this one's up to 3000, 4,000, something like that.

[00:17:54] Mm-hmm. Bringing that background and saying, Hey client, did you see this? And you know, I think it's a delicate dance in the same way that, like you said, don't message me on WhatsApp if I haven't replied to you and like beg for a job or consistently follow up. Like that's a red flag for me. Yeah. You can do that with clients.

[00:18:07] You can be a little bit too hands on. You can be a little bit too clingy, but I think if it's done the right way, you become your client's favorite vendor basically. And it's because of the people inside your organization and the value you deliver. So I think that's a big opportunity, is like, it doesn't have to be selfish, but it can be.

[00:18:24] Hey, I saw that you guys had a big win on your channel recently, or I saw that, hey, this post took over the number one position, like I threw it into Atrust and it looks like it took over the number one position for this high volume keyword. And it's like, that's awesome. And that doesn't even have to be anything that Castaway do.

[00:18:37] It just has to show like, I have a personal vested interest in the success of your business, and I've listened to you mm-hmm. Throughout our experience and have heard what your priorities are. And I'm taking the time to like, Check in passively and then when I see something interesting, I share that with you and, and I just wanna share in that win with you.

[00:18:53] So I think it's an opportunity to do things that don't scale and just really like focus on the people less than the metrics right now and mm-hmm. I think if you can build strong relationships there, then that's the best way to manage churn, because, To the original point, like people don't fire bad agencies.

[00:19:09] They fire bad account managers who don't represent them well or have their interests in mind. And so if you can not be that person, if you can be an account manager who cares, genuinely cares, and you're also doing good work, then I think you have the best chance of being retained longer.

[00:19:22] John Doherty (EditorNinja): Mm-hmm. Totally.

[00:19:24] Totally.

[00:19:25] James Sowers (Castaway): Yeah. Okay, let's look at another area where maybe we can get greedy. You know, the one that jumps out at me, it's kind of related. Maybe we could tie these two together cuz they both go back to ai, right? Like AI's eating the world every, we talk about these hype cycles, like everything's around chat, G P T and everybody's building that functionality into their tools.

[00:19:41] Notion just added their AI feature recently, so you can just use AI to draft things up. In notion, I think this can fall under both buckets. So I had it under the fearful bucket. So it's like as AI tools, Commoditize some of the services that we offer or attempt to. Right? And then it doesn't really matter if they do or do not.

[00:19:57] If the perceived outcome of that in the client's mind is that AI's just as good as castaway, then that negatively affects me. Right? So I think AI tools and people who get laid off and can do this independently for leaner margins or whatever, like all those things to me. Can be lumped into this race to the bottom, price-wise, it's like, hey, if parts of your service or all of your service seem to be getting commoditized in the market, that's something to pay attention to because either you're gonna lose business to that, or you need to find a way to differentiate yourself and communicate the value so that you don't get involved in that race to the bottom.

[00:20:27] Cuz pricing is not the front that we wanna fight anymore on because that just hurts everybody involved, right? Like you're just cutting margins until you can't anymore, and then you know, the weakest businesses die or whatever. But on the other hand, you know, you've got like AI in terms of. Content marketing.

[00:20:42] And if clients are leaning on AI for a lot of their written assets and you know, even their visual assets, like you can design images and graphics, and there are people that are like building tools to make video clips from long form videos automatically and ad captions all that stuff directly does what Castaway does.

[00:21:00] But I think that the general sentiment around there has been like, eh, it's okay. Right? Like if you're budget conscious and you're more volume than quality, then it's fine. Or if you're on a D I Y kind of budget, it's fine. But I think that's actually an opportunity for us is like we are better. We will continue to be better unless something drastically changes there.

[00:21:17] So the real opportunity there is to communicate that and double down on that and find more of the right clients and use it as a filtering mechanism to keep kind of the less discerning or lower value clients like off of our radar. And we just don't waste time on 'em.

[00:21:31] John Doherty (EditorNinja): Yeah, I had a conversation about this yesterday with someone, and that is also thinking about like how AI affects content.

[00:21:38] And the way I phrase it to them was, I feel like there are three types of people there are, like it's specifically talking about this. There are the ones that are like, there's kind of the laggards that they're like, Nope, too risky for our brand. We have humans that we love. We're just gonna keep doing human generated content.

[00:21:57] Great. Your choice, hire us. That's is what we do, you know? Then there are the people that are like, we are all in. They're more like the technologists, the innovators, that they're like, we're all in on this and I'm gonna produce 500 pieces of content in the next three days using chat, G P T. And I'm like, good luck.

[00:22:17] You know, if they're just like testing it out, like whatever, do your thing. I'm testing it out. Right? But like, If you're relying on this to like replace your writers completely and like not have humans looking at it, then okay, like, do your thing. But, you know, I'm gonna invest in basically talking about how, like, where humans still need to be involved because like, people that are, you know, thinking about like, I'm gonna produce 200 pieces of content in the next three days, they're eventually gonna come back to where I have landed because I've been doing the testing, I've invested the time into it, right?

[00:22:46] And so, I want the people that are like, Hey, we wanna produce more great content. We think AI can help us do that, but we're investing more into strategy, into our operations, around content, into our editors, our workflows, like all that sort of stuff. Great. Cuz that's gonna be needed with that increased volume.

[00:23:04] So the people that have GR that have understood that they have to do, they need more content people, they need more strategists. They need more editors, they need to. Figure out how they promote this now. Now, increased volume of content. Cause let's be honest, most people are not great at promoting their content.

[00:23:18] Right. You know? And if they're not good at promoting 10 pieces, how the heck are they gonna be good at promoting a hundred pieces a month? So like, you know, all very real considerations to make. And the people that have made that leap that are a little bit more mature in their thinking, like, those are the people that we're going after.

[00:23:31] But I think we can go about, we should be leading that charge. Right? Leading that conversation. Because then the people that you know said, oh, I'm just gonna try it on my own. Then they're gonna come back with their tail between their legs and say, all right, you were right. You know? A lot of 'em will. So yeah, I think that's absolutely a place that we can do it.

[00:23:46] But at the same time, I think we need to be aware of people. They kind of go from the, the SEO world has dealt with this for a long time, but an area that I'm fearful of is people saying like, okay, I was paying 500 bucks per blog post, right? And now I'm spending $0 per blog post. So, I want you to now produce it for 150, right?

[00:24:08] Mm-hmm. Or like, oh yeah, AI is editing it for us for free. Right. Quote unquote for free. Cause all these tools are venture funded and they're giving it away for free just to get market share, right? Like, which is just not reality, you know, in the like real money business world or in like revenue funded business world.

[00:24:24] So I feel like prices could get dragged down and I don't wanna play the low budget work game, you know? Yeah,

[00:24:31] James Sowers (Castaway): yeah, yeah. I think so. And. You know, it's the same way that like any technological advancement has similar conversations happening around it. It's like, yeah, just because we invented the table saw, did that mean carpenters lost their jobs?

[00:24:43] No. It's just, if you want to try to wing it at home with your own table saw, you can, and you might have a table that you created that like barely stands up, or you know, your kid sits on it the wrong way and it collapses to the ground. That could be a possible outcome or it could be fine. Or you could become an expert with a table saw and do it yourself like, That could happen.

[00:25:00] But carpenters aren't out of business because people have table saws in their homes now. You know? And I think that's the same way with these AI tools. It's like, I don't think AI tools are going to take anybody's job. It's the people who are really smart and learn how to use AI tools to do your job better than you.

[00:25:16] They're gonna take your job. Yes. And my goal is to be that person. My goal is to figure out how to use these AI tools to create better quality products, create them faster, more efficiently, whatever, but to better serve my clients. And you know, it's not the tool itself that's gonna take that video editor shop.

[00:25:31] It's my ability or my team's ability to use these tools better than the. Do-it-yourself, video editor, that's gonna win me the business. So that's how I think about it. Like in the same way, I don't want to get involved in that race at the bottom. Like if you're that price conscious, there's nothing against it.

[00:25:45] Like if somebody is, I just wanna put out a thousand clips a month from my podcast and I'm gonna use AI tools to get there, that's awesome. I can't wait to hear how that goes. But if somebody is like, Hey, I wanna take these long form conversations, I wanna pull the most interesting ideas, I wanna truly repurpose them into dedicated videos around those ideas with engaging animations and visuals to support it.

[00:26:04] Like each piece is kind of, Strategically directed creative on the front end, you know, produced and quality assurance checked, then I'd love to work with you because that's how I approach life and business. I think that's gonna be a differentiator. I dunno, I think a lot of these AI tools are like, they're pulling from algorithms and data sets and it's like, sure, every time somebody submits a, a prompt to.

[00:26:24] Chat, G P T and the output comes back around. That output also goes back into the data set and it gets bigger and bigger. But like it's just recycling some of the same stuff. It's not that it's not good, it's just like if you rely a hundred percent on that, I think everybody's gonna end up regurgitating the same phrases, paragraphs, sentences, and data points.

[00:26:40] And it's just like, ah, I don't know. I think you still need a little bit of input there. A little bit of thoughtfulness. Mm-hmm. That's, it's not ready to replicate yet. Maybe GT four will be better at it. I don't know, but I'm not super scared there. I, I'm more like, Hey, how do I separate myself from that pack?

[00:26:55] It's like, okay, yeah, you have 10 competitors. Seven of them are jumping in the AI pool and they're going quantity over quality and that kind of thing. Do you wanna be the seven or do you wanna be the three? Right, that really stand out? And I wanna help you be the three.

[00:27:07] John Doherty (EditorNinja): So, And I think a lot of that comes down to just knowing what your business is and what the services that you offer.

[00:27:15] And every business has always dealt with this, where there are always the people that are like, I want that for $500. And you're like, you're like, my minimum is 5,000. They're like, can you do it for 500? You're like, not the game I play, you know? Yeah, but there are people that play that game, in which case, like go there, right?

[00:27:31] So I think that's something to like, to keep in mind and just say that, Hey, if you wanna go and do that, to me it, it's just like a no judgment zone. I've just kind of taken to life as like a no judgment zone that someone wants to go and produce a thousand pieces of content using chat, G P T. No judgment, do your thing.

[00:27:48] That's not what we do. Right? Right. They want us to edit a thousand pieces, you know, for the cost of a hundred. Not what we do, you know? But like, hey, if you're investing in high quality content marketing, you know, even if you're using chat G p t or whatever, AI tool, Jasper or whatever, You know, to generate like sections fine.

[00:28:07] Great. Go for it. You should. Honestly, it's smart, but you also need to be investing in the people to write the prompts, the people to Ida, right? Make sure you have the right topics, like all of those sorts of things. And that's the game that I play. And if you play that game too, and you want us to help you play that game better, let's do it.

[00:28:25] Right. But if you're playing the volume game or you're playing the like wait and see game, that is not what we do. You know? So, yeah, and like I said, no judgment there, like different strokes for different folks. You know, different people take different approaches and some people's approaches are probably more effective than mine, I'll be honest.

[00:28:41] But like, My approach is my approach at this point. So, you know, I'm not gonna go and like change just cuz one person is like interested in, you know, what's it gonna look like when I get to 600 pieces of content a month when they're not even doing six? So, Know, like, yeah, maybe it's a fun like hypothetical conversation to have and maybe I should be thinking about that and I am, but it's also not the reality that we're dealing with, and I'm not gonna go build a service around what someone potentially says they might at some point do in the future.

[00:29:07] Right. That's just asking for a ton of pain because like you're not actually solving a real problem at that point, right? Yeah. It's cool you're going there, but what are you actually doing

[00:29:13] James Sowers (Castaway): now? I think that's a point worth calling out here. I'm not sure if, I think it falls more under the fear than the greed, if anything, but like having a really clear understanding of who your ideal client is, what they care about, what their problems are, and sticking to that.

[00:29:27] Because I think that as things plateau or they stay stagnant for a while or have. Forbid we go into a recession and like our businesses start struggling, it's real easy to just take whatever opportunities come through the door. Like, yes, I'll sell it. I just wanna close this deal. Like we'll do it. We'll do it right.

[00:29:41] And I would encourage anybody listening to stick to your guns basically for as long as you can. There comes a point now where like if the life of your business is on the line, if your personal finances or your personal situations impacted, like I totally get it, but try not to hit the panic button too early because I think we just crossed like 8 billion people in the world.

[00:29:58] There are plenty of people out there who. Align with your mindset. Care about what you care about are less budget conscious or have bigger budgets or understand that it's more of an investment than an expense. There are plenty of people out there to build a really nice business still, regardless of what the situation looks like economically.

[00:30:15] So it's really tempting to give into that. It's like, Hey, I haven't closed a deal in three weeks and my business is just kind of like maintaining right now. And you just want that. You just want that adrenaline rush, that dopamine hit of like, I closed the deal, we got a new client. Here's the onboarding details, like, I don't know, don't sacrifice too much because then you get locked into doing the work that you're not best at or you know, high touch clients that are very needy or something like that.

[00:30:38] It's just, I would stick to your guns as long as you can because it's gonna get tougher if the economy continues to flounder a little bit. But I think it's kind of a trap that you can back yourself into a corner in a lot of ways.

[00:30:48] John Doherty (EditorNinja): Mm-hmm. Yeah, and honestly, my hope is that I think if we can offer things and honestly be greedy and like.

[00:30:54] Rolling out services that kind of do speak to the new world and help people kind of couch it in terms of what is actually the cost here. You know, think of specifically about ai. AI generated content. So, Generative AI is what Michael King IPO rank calls it. Mm-hmm. If they are able to produce, like I launched a few weeks ago, one of the first, it's not the first, but one of the first like dedicated editing services for AI generated content verbally has also done some like work around this.

[00:31:22] They have a good blog post out there about, like this editor said, you know, their hypothesis was that I was gonna take 50% less time to edit a piece of AI content than a piece written by humans. I looked at it and went actually, It takes 50% more time, which is what they came out to as well. It actually took double the time for them.

[00:31:38] But that's me being greedy and saying like, Hey, we can do this. We figured out what it takes and we can charge for this. Right? And like we charge more than editing human created content. But if they're producing it for a lot less, right, they're spending a hundred bucks on it. Cuz they hired like a. Firm or whatever to produce as opposed to 500 bucks.

[00:31:56] All of a sudden on 10 pieces, they're saving four grand a month. Right? So they can pay us 1500 bucks a month to edit all of that, and they're still saving $2,500, you know? Right. Like, and helping people kind of couch that like I'm being greedy in that way and sharing those numbers and. Honestly saying like, why would you not do this?

[00:32:15] You know? And I think we can be like kind of on the leading edge of that, you know, just like in the past you would just use tools and be like, oh yeah, you know, we're using this tool now to generate subtitles and not, we're using rev.com and set up this other tool, or we're using this script, who does it for free?

[00:32:30] Who know does transcripts for free, like, You're paying us to not have to think about it yourself. Let us deal with the tools, you know, and you can always find those areas of efficiency, you know, in business. And we're just, right now just AI is efficiency for businesses and so like we can talk about that way great.

[00:32:47] But being greedy in like the services that we offer and messaging it specifically I think is going to like do well for us.

[00:32:54] James Sowers (Castaway): Yeah, that's a great point. I've actually, maybe an example from my side of the house is I think that as these AI or these generative tools get more popular over the next 2, 3, 4, 5 years, the differentiator is gonna be like, who's willing to physically get in front of a camera and show themselves and speak and communicate that way because, That is indisputable evidence that this is human driven like, and that this is genuine and it's coming from that actual person.

[00:33:18] So I actually think that personal branding or personal touches specifically through audio and video, and there are tools out there that replicate voices and stuff. So maybe even audio's gonna go away. And there are some that do video, but I haven't seen one that does that very well yet. So it's like, okay, video or real time type of stuff is going to be the indisputable content format going forward.

[00:33:37] And so I'm like, okay, well what if I take what Castaway does? I help people build their personal brands through personal video, and it's like, okay, I just interview you twice a month. And we turn those into Instagram reels, YouTube shorts, TikTok posts, whatever you like. And we do kind of your newsletter and we do your personal blog and we do your LinkedIn posts every day.

[00:33:55] Every weekday, you know, 30 days a month or whatever. So I'm thinking about that, like maybe that's the opportunity is that if you see this thing on the horizon where. AI eats the world, everything's generated by robots. And you know, I've seen a few examples where like humans can still pick this stuff out pretty simply.

[00:34:10] Like if they've done some polls and it's like, which one do you think was AI generated and which one was written by a human? And like they get it right 63% of the time. And it's like, okay, so there's something there. We might not know entirely what it is, but like, We can still somehow subconsciously, like read a piece of content and be like, this just sounds robotic.

[00:34:25] Mm-hmm. There's no personality in here, there's no uniqueness. There's no point of view in here that makes me believe this was written by a person. Like there's still some kind of spidey sense going on there. And so I think that if you look at that as the variable and then you look at what you think the outcome is going to be.

[00:34:38] You can kind of reverse engineer a service. Like you have to address that. It's like, yeah, if you wanna use AI to generate the content and you wanna do 500 posts a month, that's great. Talk to me in six months and see how all those articles are ranking. And if they're not, yeah, that's where we can plug in and do the, be the human injection to make them something that's actually valuable and actually addresses search intent and things like that where you could start to see the traffickings you were hoping to get with that shortcut, that easy button that didn't necessarily come to fruition.

[00:35:04] So,

[00:35:04] John Doherty (EditorNinja): Mm-hmm. Yeah. Or say like, Hey, that's great that you're doing that, but let's do like 50, right? Let's like start with 50. We don't need to be thinking about 500 right now. We haven't even done five or 50. Yeah, let's start there and learn together and see how it scales. You know? Like I can't give it to you for free.

[00:35:19] Well, I could, and that's actually a point I wanted to make, but, I'm not gonna give it to you for free. Um, cuz like I need to pay my, you know, my editors to do it. But like, let's learn together and I'll make you some sort of deal that we can learn together to figure this out together. You know? And like it works out well for everybody.

[00:35:33] Yeah. So the more you can kind of pitch that partnership to people, I think is gonna be like a win-win. And that goes back to like increasing account management and that sort of thing too, just to like, it's at this point, I remember Chris LMA told me a while ago, I think it was when the Covid pandemic hit, he goes, this is when you get as close to everyone as you can.

[00:35:51] As close to every customer as you can, I have all of our subscription customers at Editor Ninja. I am connected with all of them on Slack, via Slack Connect. I can directly message them, give 'em feedback. They can give me feedback, they can ask for things. I literally just had one just now. Someone would be like, Hey, I just submitted this to my queue.

[00:36:11] It's super important. Then the other ones that are in my queue, can we bump this one up in the priority? Yes, absolutely. Right? Like, yeah, otherwise, like they have to send me an email or something like that. Just get as close as you can to your customers at this point and look at them more as partners to learn from.

[00:36:27] And that right there is like I. How we kind of ride it out, you know?

[00:36:30] James Sowers (Castaway): Yeah, I mean, that fixes retention too, right? Yes. We talked about that a little bit earlier. Yeah. Oh, one last thing I thought of, and this goes fully into the greed category we talked about like acquiring talent. I think there's also an opportunity right now, or in the very near future to acquire assets.

[00:36:44] So I think you're gonna find a lot of people who. Want to be more liquid in their business, like they're probably gonna look to sell because a lot of those valuations and multiples for selling, things are starting to come down as interest rates go up and money becomes more expensive. It's not like you can get a free loan anymore like you used to be able to.

[00:37:00] Yeah. So I think that a lot of people are gonna wanna get out while the getting's good, or at least that's what they think. And so there is an opportunity for us to. Sneak in and scoop up like a newsletter here and there, or a small software tool that doesn't have a whole bunch of traction or something like that, and probably get it for the best price.

[00:37:16] We're gonna get it for anytime soon because once that rebound happens, people are gonna keep working on these things cuz it's gonna be back on a growth trajectory. So if you can find that struggling business that's struggling, solopreneur who's going through some of these things and is looking for kind of a soft landing, and if you have the capital, this could be a great time to go in and acquire some of that tech or acquire some of that.

[00:37:35] Audience, basically buy the newsletter, buy that podcast, buy that YouTube channel, whatever folded into your business and you've got an instant audience to start speaking to. I think there's gonna be more and more of that over the next, just call it one to two years, basically, if this thing Yeah. Draws out a little farther than expected.

[00:37:49] Yeah.

[00:37:49] John Doherty (EditorNinja): Yeah, I think so. And yeah, I think just thinking creatively, About like how can you acquire customers, like, you know, even cheaper, something like that. Like snapping up an asset, you know, a domain a competitor goes under and like, buy that domain, right? Buy their assets, like that kind of thing. Mm-hmm.

[00:38:03] Buy their customer list, honestly. You know, stuff like that. Or I. Maybe try like a, Hey, I'll give you your first month for free. You know, if you then like assuming you know X, Y, and Z happens, like then you sign on for the next 12 months, right. You know, paid monthly for the next 12 months and whatever. Like give 'em some sort of like sweetheart deal and you don't have to offer it to everybody, but ones that you really want, you can offer that sort of thing.

[00:38:28] Mm-hmm. So just like how do we make it a lot more of a no-brainer for someone to sign up just to get that market share right now when people are scared and our competitors are scared, How do we not be scared? We can be a little bit greedy there and if we have cash reserves, we have some cash in the bank, then you know you can run it at break even for a little while at this point.

[00:38:45] James Sowers (Castaway): Yeah, you talked about that with the AI tools. It's like they're just giving it away for free now because it's a land grab. Yeah. You don't have to go that far. But if you know your margins and you know your numbers and you know, like within a reasonable degree of confidence, like if I can get this person in and serve them at break even for six months, as long as they stick around for another 6, 12, 18 months, I'm gonna come out way ahead and I trust my product.

[00:39:07] I trust my team. I trust the value of our service and the problems we solve. That feels like an obvious kind of win. So, Maybe it is a time to be greedy and take on a little bit more risk in terms of, I'm not saying do your service for free, but if it's like, it might be something crazy like, Hey, if you wanna sign on for a year and prepay, I'll give you 30% off.

[00:39:24] Like I will basically give you most of my margin for that long-term commitment. I'll get all that cash up front. I can allocate that cash however I want, and I know that I'll be able to serve you for the rest of the year. So I'll get a case study out of that. I'll get a referral out of that probably.

[00:39:37] Yeah, I dunno. It's just an educated bet at that point. Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. If you stand behind the product that you deliver, then this does feel like a great time to capture some of that attention, capture some of that market.

[00:39:48] John Doherty (EditorNinja): And I think there's a couple things there too that we should probably actually just go deep on this topic in another episode, but I was listening to a Hormo podcast the other day.

[00:39:56] Episode, I think it was on BiggerPockets, where he was talking about you can even give people like a lower price. If they're willing to do something else for you in return and do it ethically. So say it's like a thousand dollars a month, you know, for the service. Someone only has like 700, and you're like, okay, you can get it for 700, or I can't do 700, but I can do seven 50.

[00:40:15] Right? Yeah. And they're like, okay, but I need you to sign it. I need you to commit for 12 months. And after three months, I need you to do a video testimonial about the service. Right. You know, and then someone else is like, well, you know, if they ever found out, which they probably won't, but someone else was like, well, I'm paying a thousand.

[00:40:31] Why are they only paying seven 50? Well, they're doing extra things for me. Right. They agree to this, they agreed to that. If you're willing to agree to those things as well, you can have it for seven 50 as well, right? And they're like, ah, no, I can't commit to 12 months. Okay, cool. The price is a thousand dollars.

[00:40:42] You know, so you can do it totally ethically. As well. And you can kind of like be creative with those deals as well. You know, just like propose it, especially those, you know, longer terms and other things that they can give you are just creative ways that you can still like acquire customers, you know, in the meantime.

[00:40:57] So,

[00:40:58] James Sowers (Castaway): It's just so crazy to me because like people don't walk into a bike store and say, Hey, my neighbor got this bike for three 50 in February and you charge me 500, so I'd like three 50. Some people haggle like that, but like who would actually expect the bike store to be like, sure, I'll do that. They're gonna be like, no.

[00:41:13] Mm-hmm. That was the spring sale to get people ready and you missed it, man, like, I don't know what to tell you. The price is 500 today. And you'd be like, okay. And you either pay the 500 or you walk away. It is crazy to me like the consumer psychology behind that because it's just like, okay, it's a different time.

[00:41:26] That's not the offer anymore. But I do think we should do a deep dive on probably just like some commentary around a hundred million dollar offers. I feel like that's where a lot of this is gonna come from, and we could just do. Our book notes from that and then you know how we're thinking about applying it to our business or how other people should and how to experiment those things.

[00:41:41] I think that would warrant a dedicated conversation cuz we could go real deep on that. I like

[00:41:45] John Doherty (EditorNinja): it. I like it.

[00:41:46] James Sowers (Castaway): Ah, cool man. Well, we'll wrap it up there I think on the Feeding Fear and greed index, I think we're leaning slightly fearful right now and I think that's an opportunity for us to be greedy as Warren Buffett said.

[00:41:54] So yeah, as always, I appreciate your thoughts and your experience here and we'll do another one of these real soon. Appreciate you. Talk

[00:42:00] John Doherty (EditorNinja): to y'all later.

[00:42:01] James Sowers (Castaway): Awesome. See ya.

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