FYB 74 | Stand Out

In this highly competitive world, it is very important that your business should stand out; otherwise, you won’t make it. Rafael Romis from Generate Culture and founder and CEO of Weberous has a lot of experience when it comes to developing websites and helping people with their brands. He shares what he calls The Unicorn Principle, which is finding what makes you unique that your audience cares about. Once you have this down, you will definitely generate a ton of sales. The same way with podcasting, you have to identify your niche and connect with your audience. Learn how to break into a very crowded marketplace and find what stands out about you that will make people care.

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Copy And Websites That Stand Out with Rafael Romis

We have a great guest. His name is Rafael Romis from Generate Culture, which is a website development agency. He’s the owner and the leader of this agency. What we found in talking with him is that he has a lot of experience in similar things that have a lot of interest to podcasters in general because in developing websites and helping people with their brands stand out for their website, those are issues that all of us podcasters face. The things that he has learned and is helping to consult with people on helping them stand out for their website also apply in how you would stand out for a podcast. He calls what he talks about and it’s become an expert in The Unicorn Principle. That speaks for itself in terms of standing out among a crowd. I hope you’ll find this interview as interesting as I did to conduct it. The content is well worth your time to read to. I hope you’ll trust me on that and hope you enjoy it.

Rafael, thank you so much for joining me on Feed Your Brand. It’s great to have you on.

Thanks so much for having me. It’s a pleasure to be here.

This subject is going to be of great interest to our audience who all are trying to stand out. They’re all trying to build a brand, either a personal brand or a corporate brand and you talk about something. It’s a phrase that you’ve coined called The Unicorn Principle. I’d love it if you could share a little bit about your basic philosophy there.

Essentially, it comes from my background where I run a web design agency. We’ve worked with several hundred clients and everybody’s trying to stand out. Everybody knows that in such a competitive industry, you have to stand out or otherwise you just won’t make it. What we realized is that the most successful ones are the ones that didn’t just stand out because they said, “I’m the best in what I do,” but rather those that found a specific audience. They figured out that this audience has a problem or a need specifically address that problem or that need through what makes them unique. You have a brand, it can be a personal brand or a corporate brand, it doesn’t matter. Once you find your audience, it’s important to listen and if you listen and understand what it is that makes them tick, what it is that makes them care, then use that combined with what makes you unique and stand out. Then you have a winter. The Unicorn Principle is if you find what it is that makes you unique and that your audience cares about, you will make a ton of sales. Whatever you’re selling, whether it’s a service or a product or a show, you’ll get more people interested in because you’re no longer just stating the obvious but you’re good at what you do. You’re really talking to them specifically. That’s the key to find the specific audience.

That is key and it’s very interesting to me because a lot of times people go into podcasting thinking that there’s going to be an audience for what I want to talk about. It’s not always the case. I do tell people when they’re doing their research, when they are starting to formulate their strategy for a podcast, they’re going to launch that they should search on iTunes on all of the different keywords for the subject areas that they’re interested in talking about. See how many other podcasts there are, how many other episodes that are on that subject. If there aren’t any, to me, that’s a bigger concern than if there’s a lot because there may not be a listening audience that wants to listen to what you have to talk about. You do have to go with what makes you unique. Certainly, use your natural experience or talents or whatever it is that makes you unique. If you want to talk about one aspect of what you do or what you know well but nobody wants to listen to it, it’s not going to be a very popular show even though it may make you feel good.

The most successful businesses are those that didn't just stand out, but rather those that found a specific audience. Click To Tweet

I had a funny example for that one because I’m originally from Greece. I’m Jewish, which is such a rarity in itself. There are only a couple of thousand Jewish people in Greece and I’m 6’7”. Talk about unique. That’s one in a million or a few million. What if I made a show about how I’m the tallest Jew in Greece? It’s one thing to be unique and stand out, which everybody’s unique by default but the key is to also listen to your audience and see what they care about. One way to do that is seeing if there are other podcasts about that topic because if there are, chances are it’s a hot topic. It’s a topic that people listen to. If there is nothing, then maybe you discovered a goldmine or unfortunately more likely is that it’s probably not a topic that people care too much about.

It’s all about listening to your audience. That’s what I say that the first step of The Unicorn Principle. Before even looking at your brand and seeing what you have, once you have an idea of who your audience is a general idea, then listen to their conversations. It’s great that we can do it in today’s technology from media, comments, all of that. People are telling you what they want to hear and they ask questions. There are so many lines of communication that didn’t use to exist several years ago. If you listen, you’ll see better just so that they keep bringing up similar topics. Then what you have to do is see how those topics and concerns can be addressed through what you have to give.

Making sure there’s a hot market available or a growing market, at least some volume of the market, that is very important but then your unique qualities, your unique perspective point of view is what can make the difference. I’ve seen people enter in a very crowded market of podcasts on iTunes. Many episodes, so many different shows but they have some unique aspect to either themselves as a personality or their experience or something about them that makes that show a little different. It becomes very popular even in a crowded market. What kind of experiences have you had with people that are trying to break into a very particularly crowded marketplace? I know it may not have been in podcasts, but for websites or people trying to get attention for their brand.

What’s interesting is that I keep working on different industries. I’ve worked on anything even things that you do not necessarily think about it but if you do, you’ll realize that there’s an industry behind it. We worked with one of the largest plastic pipe manufacturers in the world, which is a multi-billion-dollar company. There are so many plastic pipes. Somebody is making it but what’s interesting to me is that every single industry has a ton of competition. Some have a little bit less than others but there’s a ton of competition to many industries. One thing that we specialize in is beauty and fashion. Both are extremely saturated and particularly eCommerce. What I tell my clients is that number one, before you even make the line, if possible, try to make the line specific and different. If you just make the line just like anybody else, then you’re competing with everybody else.

I’ll make a silly example here. If I decide that I’ll make certs that are cut in half, you have to put the right half on and then the left half on and there’s a gap in the middle, it sounds ridiculous but it’s very different. People are going to notice. If it wasn’t a ridiculous idea and if it was something that maybe people kept bringing up, for example, one of our clients has a line of products related to feet. What they figured out is that there are many solutions to address how you can get hurt when you wear high heels and things like that. No solution is perfect because everybody’s complaining that if you put that spray, it runs out. It goes away after a few hours or if I put a band-aid it gets too sweaty or whatever. Every single one of them had problems so they formulated a solution based on what they heard that addresses that. The way that they beat the solution is literally by doing the side-by-side comparison. These are the problems with these, these are the problems with that and this is the solution. That’s one way to do it. Being literal.

FYB 74 | Stand Out

Stand Out: Your unique perspective is what can make a difference.

Another way to do it is to transcend outside of the actual product itself and become a persona. If you have a unique perspective, if you have a unique voice, if you’re easier to listen to, you have an edge. If that’s the case, you need to find a way to make that clear. We worked with this brand called the Jeffree Star Cosmetics, and the person behind it is very flamboyant. You’re going to notice him. There is no way he’s going to go unnoticed. When he lands his cosmetics brand, number one, it was all products that he would wear and he became the face of the brand. By default, it’s very hard to compete with that because he is now the face. It’s not the product. There’s a balance of different lipsticks or whatever, but there aren’t many Jeffree Stars.

The things that he does are also relatively unique. He tried to use the founder, not even the brand, not the product, none of that. I would almost say nobody cares about that. The fact that you have such a striking personality that people can relate to and want to be like you and then you tell them, “This is how you can be like me, by buying this lipstick because I’m actually wearing this right now,” then you got something because you’re solving the problem. The problem is they want to be more like you and you’re telling them about how I can be more like you buying your products. That’s the idea here. You have to find a way to address your audiences. When he could do that through a product or service or podcast, they will come.

A lot of times, it’s a bit of a chicken and an egg situation though. In the world of podcasting, you have to create a show that you think the audience is going to like, but you have to be willing to pivot as you do get feedback. As you do get reviews and ratings and we’ll hear from your community of listeners, I’ve found they will tell you what they like and they will tell you what they don’t like. How much do you adjust to satisfy them? A decision to be made for any podcast host but I do think that you have an opportunity to pivot your show. One of the things about podcasting is it’s yours. You can change it. You can change the format. You could change the types of topics you discuss. You can change the way and still be authentically you but then perhaps growing even bigger audience if you are providing them with a product that they like more.

A lot of times people will tell you exactly what they want to hear. It’s important to think about what your goal is. Is your goal to create a podcast that will have the largest number of listeners? Is it a goal that you make a podcast where you speak your mind regardless of anybody’s listening or not? You have to figure out what is your end goal and then based on that end goal, you have to pivot. If you’ve decided that you’re going to stick to your guns and just do it the way you want to do it, then you have to be conscious that maybe the audience is not going to respond. If the audience is telling you one thing and you’re doing another and you did not change, which is more common than you would think. Podcasts with brands, a lot of times the owner, the founder, the creator is showing vested in what they built that they just don’t listen. They sometimes think they’re just not getting it yet, “I need to keep going.” Unfortunately in most cases, you have to listen to what the audience is saying.

There are exceptions and certainly, not everyone is the same in this regard. I have experienced people like you were talking about who is going to do it their way no matter what anybody says and they’ll either be an audience or there’s not. There are legitimately many different goals that people have for podcasting. It’s not always to get the most listeners and they have a different business purpose for doing it. That’s respectable. There’s nothing wrong with that but I would say most people care about how many podcasts listeners they have. Most podcasters do care about that and let’s say that they do a pivot and go a little bit in the direction that they’re hearing from the audience to try to satisfy them maybe more than they did in the beginning. Anybody can do that but what else would you recommend from your experience that podcasters could potentially do to help themselves stand out? Saying that they’re listening to the market and they’re trying to meet those needs but how else might people consider standing out that those of us that have been doing this for a while and might not even be thinking about? Do you have any suggestions?

If you just make a line like anybody else, then you're competing with everybody else. Click To Tweet

One of the best ways to create a bigger audience is to interact with your industry and interact with your audience. The way that you would interact with their industry is potentially by reaching out to another podcaster and getting other show. Maybe inviting them on your show because by doing that you’re not exchanging audiences in a certain way. Also, you can comment and review another show or engage in a conversation in a forum about a certain show or a certain idea or certain concepts. One of the things that we do a lot with social media when we try to promote this certain brand is that we will get on forums that have a ton of visibility. Reddit, for example, and we’ll look for topics that are related to what we’re trying to market and we’ll jump into the conversation. Not necessarily to just plug in our products or whatever, but just to engage and give value.

Another great platform to do that is Quora. Just by answering the question that is in your industry, if you answer it right, all of a sudden you may gain a listener. If I read a great answer that you wrote, I gave them your name and all of a sudden, they see that you have a podcast about this topic that you just wowed me with. I’m going to come through your podcast. It’s important to try to blend into the conversations that are happening even if it’s outside of the podcast world, social media, Quora, Reddit or any kind of forum where conversations are happening.

There are a lot of ways that podcasters can engage their listeners that maybe a lot of people don’t think about, especially in the very beginning. You can solicit questions from your audience. You can solicit comments, you can incentivize them to participate and maybe it’s to give me your thoughts on this particular topic. Maybe it’s a poll where you’d say, “I wonder how many listeners feel this way on the subject.” You could do almost a survey of sorts and maybe even give away a book. Randomly draw a name of everybody that answers and give away a book. It’s a pretty inexpensive thing for you to do as a podcaster, but it might facilitate more engagement with your audience and be something they enjoy week to week or month to month.

Any kind of engagement from your audience is so beneficial. What I tell my clients is that getting someone to take any kind of action towards your end goal is huge. The listener taking an action by giving you a comment, by voting on a poll is getting them one step closer to being a loyal follower that will listen to every kind of content that you put out there. That’s the key for sure.

Your primary business has been developing websites and since that’s your primary area of expertise, tell us the most important thing people should consider for their website that maybe they don’t realize. What’s the biggest mistake you see people making on their websites in terms of this Unicorn Principle and making themselves stand out?

FYB 74 | Stand Out

Stand Out: The listener taking an action is one step closer to gaining a loyal follower.

The most important thing and surprisingly the most common and biggest mistake that I see goes back to what we said at the beginning. You have to find what it is that makes you unique. Even if that uniqueness is your voice and your unique take on a certain topic that has been discussed heavily. Once you find it, you need to be very consistent about it. Let’s say that I have a podcast about entrepreneurship. There are probably thousands of those and I have a unique take on this. Whatever that XYZ is, my listeners know it but if a stranger were to come to my website, if I don’t manage to give them that one piece of your unique self that would make them listener, then I missed the boat. I see this in 90% of websites. They make a website that states the obvious. The best podcasts about entrepreneurship, the number one podcast, unique tips, amazing tips, everybody says that. What is it about you specifically that I should care about?

Maybe give me a twenty seconds sizzle reel of you describing what entrepreneurship is. Whatever it is that would make me care about your podcast, your product, your brand. It should be at the very top of the website and I should be able to get it in a few seconds. I don’t care about the three-second rule and things like that. It doesn’t have to be three, it can be ten but it needs to be right then in there. I come to the website, I see the top of the site and I get it. I get what it is that makes you unique and it’s not being literal about your podcast. It’s not just telling me what your podcast is about or that it’s the best. It’s most likely you. It’s most likely telling me why you are the person that will tell me about a different principle or whatever you’re talking about.

We see a lot of websites for a lot of podcasters and some of them are very well-done and some of them are basic. I’m not too concerned about the three-second rule, but you still have seconds not minutes to capture someone’s attention or level of interest and to engage them to dig a little deeper in what you have to offer. You’ve got to take advantage of that. It’s the traditional elevator pitch. I had this happen literally in the elevator in a hotel in Boston. Somebody else is like, “What do you do for a living?” You have until the elevator goes up about four floors to tell them and that’s it. It’s similar in that regard. You’ve got to understand who you are and how you’re going to communicate what’s unique about you or you’re going to lose them.

What we’re seeing here is something that everybody has tried before. You have to stand out or the competition will eat you. The thing that people are missing out on is that you cannot just claim the obvious. The reason why I keep saying it is because I see it on a daily basis. I’m very established in the beauty and fashion world as it relates to digital and so we get a lot of leads and I have a questionnaire that I send out. In my questionnaire, one of my questions is, “Why should your audience care about your brand?” If I hear a dime for how many times the answer was, “Because my brand is so amazing or because I care about women or whatever,” there was something that sounds so generic that pretty much 75% of other brands would also claim, I’d be richer than I am. It happens all the time. I ask you specifically, “How are you standing out? Why does your audience care about your brand?” Instead of telling me something that’s truly unique and special about your brand, you gave me the answer that we’ll find on the About Us page of 80% of your industry. How bad is that?

In their mind they’re thinking, “We’re standing out because we care, because we don’t test on animal, because we give 5% of our profits back to target.” These are all great things, but this is no way somebody will buy it from your brand. This is just things that you do for your brand. If we didn’t even have any of that, then what’s the point of even starting. If you didn’t have some basic belief that what you’re doing is great, then just don’t even start it. What you need to find is how you’re addressing your audience’s needs. It’s not always as simple as it sounds. Sometimes the need is not even in the product itself, but rather the solution that the product will provide. You might have a podcast about entrepreneurship but your tips should be more about making money rather than being an entrepreneur even though that’s what you’re talking about because you do care about the solution. It’s important for people to understand that spending out or being unique is great, but everybody’s unique. If you don’t find a way to figure out what part of your uniqueness would make your audience care about you, then you’re missing the boat and you don’t even know that you’re missing the boat. That’s the biggest thing of all.

If you don't have some basic belief that what you're doing is great, then don't even start it. Click To Tweet

Even though we’re talking about podcasting and your expertise is primarily in websites, the reality is so much of what we all do in these different specialties comes back to how branding is fundamental. If you don’t know what your brand is, maybe you know what you like it to. If you don’t know what it is and you don’t know what your brand promises and why somebody is going to choose you over somebody else, you better go back to that drawing board and figure that out.

If we talked five or six years ago and I was talking to you about my agency, I will tell you that my agency is amazing. Why is it amazing? Because we care. We do great work. What am I doing? Exactly what I’m telling people not to do. Everybody will tell you the same things. The reason why I was saying those things is that I was following everybody else. I was following what I saw around me and what I saw successful competencies do. What I failed to realize when I kept seeing it happen over and over again in front of me, I would say that almost half of the battle is finding the right audience, not trying to appeal to everyone because you have the science that appealed to everyone. In the beauty industry, you have Estée Lauder, you have Revlon, how on Earth are you going to compete with that? How on Earth are you going to compete with $100 million of the marketing budget?

It’s impossible but if you specify an audience, then it’s much easier to conquer that audience. It’s much easier to become a big authority in that specific audience. Not entrepreneurship, not marketing specifically. Something more specific, maybe a niche of those bigger topics. That’s why with my newer venture, I decided to focus on specific needs. It’s not that I had done all the rest of it. I’ve worked in pretty much every industry but by doing that, I will become the authority that I can be. It’s much easier to conquer a smaller niche than it is to tackle everything.

That is something that when we talk to future podcasters or what we call potential podcasters, identifying your niche is critical. You’re not going to be everything to everybody. If you set the goal of trying to go out and create a podcast that’s going to have a million listeners, you’re not going to achieve that with a niche subject and a general subject, unless you’re already a nationally known celebrity. It’s probably pretty unlikely but there’s a great value even if you are wanting to make money with your podcast. There’s great value in serving that niche need and community and being the premier expert in this little narrow area. Podcasters who do that have the most success, quite honestly.

It makes it uncomfortable to do that because you typically see the big success story, the one that has a million followers and you’re like, “What are they doing?” They’re being a little bit more general, but chances are that’s not how they started. Unless if they are a national celebrity, they started by doing something more specific. They created an audience and then they were able to go beyond that. You can definitely pivot and change later once you have an audience because you have the following that is now devoted and wanted to hear what you have to say. When you’re starting out, it’s much easier and also better to just focus on one thing and perfect it, to become the utmost authority of that one thing.

FYB 74 | Stand Out

Stand Out: Almost half of the battle is finding the right audience, not trying to appeal to everyone.

I can’t imagine a question that could properly follow that up. I do appreciate your time and sharing with us your thoughts and expertise. There are a lot of parallels between what you’re doing in a web design and what we’re doing in podcasting. Our audience will appreciate what you had to say.

It’s great to be here. It’s great to have the conversation.

Copy And Websites That Stand Out – Final Thoughts

I hope that interview resonated with a lot of you out there, whether you’re an established podcaster or you’re an aspiring podcast or doing some research before launching a show. It’s tremendously good advice. It jives with what we say to all the people we work with to launch a podcast on a regular basis. You’ve got to know what your brand is. You’ve got to know what differentiates you, what helps you stand out. It is key and truly fundamental to having success in a podcast. There’s also a lot of great advice that Rafael shared with us in terms of how you need to consider what the audience is interested in hearing and perhaps pivot your show in one way or another. I’m not saying completely cave on your principles or your goals or what you’re interested in doing at all, but I do think there’s something to be said for. Listening to the audience, realizing that what you intended to do or who you intended to speak to or what you thought they would be interested in might not always be exactly what ends up happening.

I’ve had this experience in business and other ways even before podcasting existed. One of the first companies that we started was in the late ‘90s and we had a product we developed and marketed. This was the days when we had to build websites from scratch with coding. There was no WordPress, there was no Squarespace or anything like that. It was a big effort and we built an entire company with employees and everything around the idea of selling an accessory product for the handheld computer market. The PDAs, the PalmPilot, and those things which the whole industry died early in the new Millennial but still it was the predecessor to smartphones. We were selling a very unique product that was an accessory for those and we started to set up to sell them to a market of selling one-to-one, business to consumer. They would buy one of them. The reality is what we discovered is there was a much bigger market for our business going B2B. Selling instead of an individual product to an individual customer, you sell tens of thousands. We sold hundreds of thousands of this product to big corporations that were giving them away to people that had PalmPilot at trade shows.

Being able to realize and recognize that the market you set out to reach whatever it is, I know my product example is way away from podcasting, but there are a lot of parallels in. You set out, you thought you had a certain market, you’d have a certain level of interest for engaging with customers in a certain way and our listeners and podcasts are customers. It may just be that you find when you get into this, there is a much bigger market for what you’re providing with a different audience or you may need to tweak your product and what you’re providing to meet the needs of the audience that’s there. There’s nothing wrong with that. I’ve pivoted other podcasts that I’m a host and a co-host of. I’ve pivoted two or three different times within the show. Part of that was for me because I wanted to change things up so that I renew my energy and can provide the best quality content to my audience. Part of that was also listening to the audience. They were more interested in hearing about certain subjects rather than others.

If you don’t find a way to figure out what part of your uniqueness would make your audience care about you, then you're missing the boat. Click To Tweet

After you have a podcast and you do 200 or 300 episodes, both the audience needs to continue to be engaged and you may have to do things differently to do that. For you to continue to have energy and enjoy doing it, you may need to pivot what you do. I had an idea as we’re talking with Rafael, especially about different ways to engage your audience. I’m thinking about some different things that I could do even with our own show to help engage the audience. It just naturally happens that in this business that we have of supporting podcasters to get the greatest value out of this content they are recording. We naturally are exposed to and see so many different business issues regarding all of them because all of them are in business in some way, shape or form. Whether they’re a solo entrepreneur or they’re the owner of a small business or even a large business, they have business purposes that they are trying to achieve with their podcast.

There are many different things we’re trying to do with their podcast that serves their business, answers the community. We encounter all sorts of different business issues. It’s not just related to podcasting is related to branding, it’s related to customer service. It’s related to the delivery of the product or monetization, many different things. I was remembering back to a course I took in college that was a business-related course. I was not in a business-related major but the major that I was in recognized in that department that many of us are going to be in business for ourselves someday most likely because it was that type of field to study that tended to produce a lot of entrepreneurs or people that work independently. The course was about the legal and business practices of this discipline. I remember that this teacher has this great thing every class. There was something that we all look forward to called his business tip of the day. I really appreciated that and I still have the notebook.

The reason I mentioned this to you is there may be many things that I don’t remember about that course and about many other courses in college. There are many things that I don’t remember, but this one stood out, this business tip of the day. I remember many of them still now and I still have my notebook from that course that I have saved all this time. I have all these business tips and many of them in my experience now in business after many years in business in one way or another still hold true now and are evergreen. They have stood the test of time regardless of technology changes. I think it may be fun for us to start instituting some continued little element of this podcast of a business tip of the episode of the week as it may be. I’m going to take that as a challenge accepted and maybe plan that out. You’ll be hearing some of those things from us in future episodes.

That also relates to some of the consulting that I have done for some of our clients, and this relates to this episode’s subject. This would be the last subject, but there are several podcasters we work with who have strictly done interview episodes. They have never done any solo cast where they just talk on a specific topic in their niche that is from their experience, sharing some nuggets of wisdom with their audience. They have done everything in the interviews and this particular client was struggling because he has some more interviews scheduled but they were further out in the future and he did not have an episode to publish for an upcoming week. He was going to have a gap if he waited. He was looking for suggestions for what to talk about or how to structure an episode where all he has done were interview episodes. I shared with him maybe half a dozen suggestions for things he could talk about and there was one in particular that he latched onto that I’d like to share with you because it’s one that’s not so obvious and people may not think about as much. I asked him, “Are there any books that you have read recently in your niche or your industry? Any books book that you feel were of value or that you got some nuggets of wisdom out of that you can maybe share with your audience? You can record an episode that may be a commentary on that book or maybe even a book review.”

I made that suggestion and that was one of half a dozen suggestions that I have made that he latched on. He was like, “I have read a couple of books. There was one in particular. I could talk about that. I can get on a podcast. I could record 25 minutes easily talking about what I learned about that book and it would be valuable to my audience.” That was a little podcast tip I thought I would throw in. It is related to what Rafael and I were discussing about how you are going to stand out. It’s one way you might be able to pivot or augment some of your episodes and perhaps add more value to your audience. It may not be right for you or your cup of tea but for a lot of you, it might be good. I know other podcasters that do it as well. Consider that for what it’s worth and I hope you did enjoy that interview with Rafael Romis of Generate Culture. You can always reach out to us anywhere on social media, @FeedYourBrand. Thanks so much.

Important Links

About Rafael Romis

NTE 6 | BlockchainI help eCommerce beauty brands become culture (aka create more revenue and jump to the next level)

Over the past 10 years, it’s been a pleasure to bring hundreds of successful projects to life online as the Founder and CEO of Weberous. We’re one of the leading creative agencies in Los Angeles; with clients ranging from Disney and HBO to xPrize and USC.

My favorite work right now is product launches: Branding, UX, and Conversion Optimization are my tools of choice. Most recently, I’ve created success with eCommerce brands like Jeffree Star, Melt Cosmetics and PreHeels.

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